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independent living policy for wonks and wonkettes

Action Alert: Submit Your Comments on Proposed WIOA Rule

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingOn April 16, the Department of Education released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on Title I of the Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act (WIOA) to amend regulations governing the State VR Services program, as well as the State Supported Employment Services program and administration of the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA). The NPRM includes changes to § 361.35 of WIOA, which addresses requirements regarding DSU’s Innovation and Expansion (I&E) activities.

The original regulations in the Rehabilitation Act, which were unchanged in WIOA, require that States reserve and use a portion of their VR funds to support the resource plans for the State’s SILC and State VR Council. The proposed regulations in this NPRM change the guidance for this requirement, proposing that the State must reserve these funds, but may choose not to use them if the SILC and the State decide to use other resources to fund the resource plan.

NCIL is extremely concerned that this provision may be misinterpreted and used in ways that are contrary to the intent of the law. Inappropriate usage of this provision can result in reduced I&E funding for SILCs, which ultimately could mean reduced Part B funds for Centers. This is unacceptable! The Department of Education acknowledged that WIOA did not change the Innovation and Expansion requirements for DSUs. The rules should not change either!

Comments are being accepted through June 15, 2015, and they need to hear our concerns. Please submit a comment to let the Department of Education know that the law has not changed, and therefore, the rule should not change either!

The full NPRM can be found at the Federal Register and comments can be submitted through June 15, 2015 at

2015 NCIL Policy Briefing

Thursday, June 11, 2015; 3:00 – 4:30 p.m. Eastern

NCIL is happy to announce the 10th Annual Policy Briefing.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingThis important presentation will to bring advocates up-to-date on national issues and federal policies that affect people with disabilities and provide participants with question and answer sessions with national leaders to ensure you have in-depth information on the issues you care about most.

The Policy Briefing will ensure that we are fired up and prepared for NCIL’s 2015 Day on the Hill! For those of you who will not be at the 2015 Annual Conference on Independent Living, this will provide you with valuable and timely information that you can use in your community. Please share this training announcement far and wide so that our issues reach many people.

Register online.

This teleconference is free for NCIL Members. There is a $25.00 registration fee for Non-Members, per call-in site. Fee does not apply per participant in group, provided the group uses the same conference line.

The Policy Briefing will be available via teleconference and CART (captioned) webcast. You must register by 12:00 Noon Eastern on June 11 to participate in the call.

Please contact Tim Fuchs at with any questions.

Redefining Social Security’s Definition of Disability: Why People of All Ages Should Get Engaged

By Emily Ladau, CareerACCESS Intern

Social Security policy reform is critical as we approach the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

CareerACCESS logo - Career ACESSYoung adults with disabilities who receive Social Security benefits face serious dilemmas navigating their world: they can either pursue a successful career and lose all support from SSI/SSDI, or remain on SSI/SSDI and lose opportunities to find lucrative work.

If you’re tired of unfair policy barriers directed at people with disabilities, this is your time to be part of the advocacy to make change!

CareerACCESS Now!

CareerACCESS, a grassroots initiative supported by NCIL, will be holding a forum:

Reforming Social Security’s Definition of Disability

July 27, 2015; 1:00 p.m.
Grand Hyatt Hotel in Washington, D.C., Main Ballroom
NCIL’s Annual Conference on Independent Living

We need the ADA generation, this country’s workforce, to be there to speak out!

We must modernize current Social Security policies for people like Kathleen, a young woman about to graduate college who is concerned about finding employment while maintaining financial support to keep the personal care attendants she needs to go about daily life. We must continue our activism for people like Derek, who has experienced several roadblocks on his path to a career due to SSI/SSDI.

It is up to people of all ages to support the ADA generation of the disability community so we can all thrive. This is why we need you at our forum!

Showing your support for Social Security SSDI Reform and CareerACCESS will be a huge step in the right direction for positive Social Security reforms.

CareerACCESS is a proposed program of reforms to the Social Security Administration’s Supplemental Security Income Program to provide services and supports to propel youth into careers, enable them to build assets, and allow them to keep their disability benefits when they develop careers. The young adult drives their own individual career plan with access to coaching, counseling, and employment support services.

What do we want? CareerACCESS! When do we want it? Now!

Join the ADA Generation hosting this forum. For more information, see the Facebook event page and visit the CareerACCESS website at

The United States owes it to all generations to make it possible for people with disabilities to have equal opportunities to thrive!

ASAN and NCIL Present Real Talk: A Safe Space in DC for Young People with Disabilities to Discuss their Experiences with Disability and Sexuality

The Autistic Self Advocacy Network and the National Council on Independent Living, with funding from The HSC Foundation, are launching Real Talk, a project to provide a safe space in the DC area for young people with disabilities to discuss their experiences with disability and sexuality.

Real Talk - #SexandDisability Youth share truth about sex, disability & consent to create more empowering and culturally competent sexual health care experiences

Project summary: via a series of in-person and virtual conversations, Real Talk will provide young people with disabilities a forum to discuss sexuality, consent, relationships, and lived experience. Additionally, Real Talk creates an empowering forum for young people with disabilities to identify and develop resources to enable sexual health providers to become more accessible and inclusive. As a result, sexual health providers will be able to provide their services to young people with disabilities in an accessible, inclusive way.

State News: Vermont CIL Helps Launch Inclusive Vermont

Vermont Center for Independent Living (VCIL) has been working with the Vermont Tourism Commissioner on a site that just went live called Inclusive Vermont. The site features stories and events in honor of the 25th Anniversary of the signing of the ADA.

Many thanks go to Kim Brittenham and Mike Charron (VCIL’s civil rights team) and Megan Smith, Commissioner of Tourism and Marketing.

Deadline Extended: Don’t Miss Out! Join Us in Baltimore Next Month for A Groundbreaking Training on Empowering Persons with Psychiatric Disabilities: The Role of the Peer Model in CILs

CIL-NET Presents… A Brand-New National Onsite Training

Deadline Extended: Register and Reserve Your Room at the Beautiful Baltimore Marriott Waterfront by May 20!

Don’t miss out on this groundbreaking training!

As consumer-controlled, cross-disability organizations, CILs have a duty not just to provide services to consumers with psychiatric disabilities, but to ensure that they are an integral part of the organization: on staff, on the board, providing leadership and peer support. Every CIL serves people with psychiatric disabilities, whether they realize it or not. But there’s a lot of work between serving a few consumers and developing the staff competencies, peer support, and funding necessary for an exemplary approach. Let us help you improve and expand your work with people with psychiatric disabilities with a framework for inclusion and program development. Our presenters will give you the skills and knowledge to conceptualize, build, and implement an outstanding mental health program at your CIL. Don’t miss this exciting opportunity for your Center. Sign up today!  [Read more...]

Join Us in Supporting the Center for Independent Living – Kathmandu

By Susan Henderson, Executive Director, DREDF

Representatives of CIL Kathmandu speak at an outdoor gathering with video camerasAt the end of 2013, I had the good fortune to visit Nepal as part of an exchange on disability and leadership. While I was in Kathmandu, I visited the Center for Independent Living – Kathmandu and discovered what an amazing crew they are. Before the earthquake, the CIL-Kathmandu was already doing very cool work in a very inaccessible environment. After the news of the earthquake, I could only imagine what it must be like for them and our sisters and brothers with disabilities now, so I checked in with CIL-K, and they are indeed working in an even more challenging environment.

The CIL provides typical IL services and advocates for government support for personal assistance services. Read a (short) blog about my visit with CIL-K.

As you might guess, they could use an influx of funds right now to assist people with disabilities — not many response groups in Nepal are focused on our community. DREDF has volunteered to collect donations and wire 100% of the funds received to CIL Kathmandu’s bank. All donations are tax deductible.

Donations of any size will help — Nepal is a poor country and US dollars go a long way. By sending funds directly to CIL-K, we’ll ensure that people with disabilities are recipients of relief efforts.  [Read more...]

Connect Ability Challenge

AT&T has partnered with NYU and RESNA to design an exciting technology contest called the Connect Ability Challenge. AT&T will be awarding $100k in prizes to individual developers and small business that deliver software or apps to the Challenge review board before June 24, 2015. The prize money will be given in honor of the ADA 25th Anniversary.

Visit the Challenge website. All the rules and guidelines are listed there and AT&T has created videos for four “exemplars.” These are people with disabilities who talk about how they use technology today and how technology could continue to improve their lives.

2015 Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service Grants

The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) has available funding for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. The funding will mobilize more Americans to observe the Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday as a day of service in communities, to encourage those who serve on this holiday to make a long-term commitment to community service, and to bring people together to focus on service to others.

This Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service Notice prioritizes grant-making in programs addressing one or more of the six CNCS Focus Areas: Disaster Services, Economic Opportunity, Education, Environmental Stewardship, Healthy Futures, and Veterans and Military Families. CNCS will give priority consideration to organizations that have disability inclusion plans to ensure people with disabilities are among those serving at their Martin Luther King Day of Service event.

Applications for funding are due on Tuesday, June 2, 2015. Successful applicants will be notified in July 2015.

Visit to access technical assistance including upcoming assistance calls, and contact information for questions specific to these funding opportunities.

NCIL Mourns the Passing of Deborah Cunningham

Deborah Cunningham, ADAPT activist and Executive Director of the Memphis Center for Independent Living, passed away May 7, 2015 with her family and friends by her side.

Deborah CunninghamDeborah served as activist, mentor, friend, sister, and boss to many in Memphis and across the country. She worked with and for the Memphis CIL since its inception in 1982 and its charter as an independent non-profit in 1985. Through the years, she continued to serve as an independent living specialist and mentor to individuals with disabilities like herself. Deborah stepped up to become Executive Director in 1989 and was known nationwide as an exceptional example of an advocate and leader.

Tim Wheat wrote, “Before there was any home and community options in Tennessee, Deborah was the “conductor” of the Disability Underground Railroad that moved people with disabilities from institutionalization into their own homes in Colorado where there where community living options. Deborah was proud to direct a progressive Center for Independent Living that focused on integration, equality and activism. She was the mentor for many individuals in the Disability Rights Movement and a skilled director, speaker and teacher.”

Sandi Klink wrote, “I count myself lucky to have known and worked with this awesome woman for almost 30 years in one capacity or another. She was my IL specialist in 1985, my mentor always, and my boss and friend for the last 15 years. Deborah’s legacy of activism, independence, and leadership will continue through her MCIL team, which she loved and taught well. We mourn, but we will fight on to Free our People!”  [Read more...]