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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

Free Webinar: Adapting to the Environment. How one organization maximized opportunity.

NASUAD Logo - National Association of States United for Aging and DisabilitiesTrends change. Keeping an eye on changes in the business environment can help community based organizations (CBOs) identify ways to expand their businesses, modify their practices or meet new and enhanced outcomes for the people they serve.

In 2017, Community Options Enterprises, a subsidiary of Community Options, a national non-profit organization, conducted an environmental scan that included a review of labor statistics and other corporate and business trends. They found that of the days they worked, 38% of people in management, business, financial and other professional occupations did some or all their work from home. The trend for more businesses and industries to utilize remote workers inspired Community Options Enterprises to develop a business model that meets the needs of changing corporate practices while fulfilling their organizational mission to develop and operate entrepreneurial businesses that successfully integrate people with disabilities into the workforce.  [Read more…]

NCIL Mourns the Passing of Kalle Könkkölä

We are sad to inform you that Kalle Könkkölä, a leader in the global independent living movement and good friend of NCIL, passed away on September 10, 2018. Kalle was a tireless advocate for disability rights in his native Finland and around the world. He visited the US many times, and NCIL staff and members had several opportunities to meet with and learn from him at the NCIL office, last year’s Global IL Summit, and this year’s Congressional Briefing. He will be greatly missed by all of us.

Kalle was a disability rights leader based in Finland and working around the world. He was the Executive Officer of Disabled Peoples’ International (DPI), Vice President of the Finnish Disability Forum, Founder and Chair of the Abilis Foundation, and the Founder and former Executive Director of the Threshold Association. He was also the first disabled member of Parliament in Finland.

Kelly Buckland, NCIL’s Executive Director, said “I was very sad to learn of Kalle’s passing. I had the pleasure of meeting Kalle several times when he visited the US, and he truly was an incredible advocate. Countless individuals and organizations around the world are better off and more inclusive as a result of his efforts. He will be missed by many, including the NCIL family.”

Our thoughts are with Kalle’s friends, family, and colleagues in Finland and elsewhere during this difficult time. You can read more about Kalle in this tribute by Judy Heumann, who was a close friend and longtime colleague. You can also read this tribute to him from the International Disability and Development Consortium.

ADAPT Protesting in Senator Gardner’s Office!

Members of ADAPT from Colorado and across the country are protesting at Senator Corey Gardner’s office to demand that he support the Disability Integration Act (DIA), S. 910 / H.R. 2472. Senator Gardner is the only member of Congress from Colorado not co-sponsoring the DIA. See ADAPT’s press release.

ADAPT’s modified American flag (which features the universal symbol of accessibility in white stars) is held high during NCIL’s 2016 March to the Capitol. US Capitol Rotunda can be seen in the background.The protest at Senator Garner’s office comes on the heels of protests at several other Senators’ offices, including Senators Ted Cruz (TX) and Lamar Alexander (TN) yesterday, and Senators Johnny Isakson (GA), Jeff Flake (AZ), and Ben Sasse (NE) earlier today.

All of these protests were calling on our Senators to support their disabled constituents by co-sponsoring the DIA!

The DIA addresses the fundamental issue that people with disabilities are often forced into institutions, losing their basic freedoms and civil rights, in order to receive the long term services and supports (LTSS) they need. The DIA will require states and insurance providers that pay for LTSS to reverse this institutional bias by providing community-based services first and offering home and community based services to people currently in institutions.

Please help boost ADAPT’s efforts by doing the following:

  • Follow ADAPT on Facebook and Twitter (@NationalADAPT), and boost their efforts with the hashtag #ADAPTandRESIST!
  • If you’re in any of these Senators’ states, take local action! Please feel free to use ADAPT’s press releases as a template for a press release on behalf of your CIL or organization. And, urge your local press to cover this story! Tell them about the ADAPT action and why the DIA is so important to you.
  • Call Senator Gardner’s office now at 202-224-5941 and tell him to co-sponsor #DIAtoday!

Use NLIHC Report as Tool for Advocacy!

The National Low Income Housing Coalition has released a report, Getting Started: First Homes Being Built with 2016 National Housing Trust Fund Awards (PDF). As many of you know, the National Housing Trust Fund was first created in 2008, but not funded until 2016. It is a program that provides “new money” to affordable housing, and unique because it focuses most of the money on Extremely Low Income households, those at or below 30% of Area Median Income, and those who rent. $174 million was allocated to states and territories in 2016, and the fruits of that allocation are finally showing in many states. Despite the funding being released in 2016, many states are lagging because they were not ready to move.

equal housing opportunity symbolThis report is an opportunity for advocates to see what is happening elsewhere, to compare how your state is doing. For example, 24 states specifically included people with disabilities as a beneficiary of the trust fund, with 5 states choosing to focus exclusively on housing people with disabilities. Some states chose to spread out the money with other funding sources such as Low Income Housing Tax Credits, while others chose to focus their money on fewer units for more deep subsidies.

Take this opportunity to look at where the housing trust fund money is being spent in your state – are you happy with their priorities? NLIHC is a great resource on this.  [Read more…]

ADAPT Protesting NOW in Senator Ted Cruz’s Office!

Right now, members of ADAPT are protesting (see their press release) at Senator Ted Cruz’s office to confront him on his failure to support the Disability Integration Act – DIA (S. 910 / H.R. 2472). After years of trying to get Senator Cruz to support his disabled constituents, it was time to confront him in his DC office. The activists are also pointing out that Cruz’s challenger in the upcoming election, Beto O’Rourke, was one of the first cosponsors of the DIA in the House of Representatives and has also announced his intention to cosponsor in the Senate if elected.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingThe DIA addresses the fundamental issue that people with disabilities are often forced into institutions, losing their basic freedoms and civil rights, in order to receive the long term services and supports (LTSS) they need. The DIA will require states and insurance providers that pay for LTSS to reverse this institutional bias by providing community-based services first and offering home and community based services to people currently in institutions.

Please help boost ADAPT’s efforts by doing the following:

  • Follow ADAPT on Facebook and Twitter (@NationalADAPT), and boost their efforts with the hashtag #ADAPTandRESIST!
  • If you’re in Texas, take local action! ADAPT has put out a press release. Please feel free to use this as a template for a press release on behalf of your CIL or organization! And, urge your local press to cover this story! Tell them about the ADAPT action and why the DIA is so important to you.

Call Senator Cruz’s office at 202-224-4922 and demand he become a cosponsor of the Disability Integration Act!

As Hurricane Florence Approaches, Give Now to Aid CILs Damaged in the Storm

Hurricane Florence is approaching the coast of the Carolinas, with a path predicted to lead inland where it could drop unprecedented rainfall before dissipating early next week. This storm is predicted to be catastrophic and a wide swath of states have already declared states of emergency. Some areas could see up to 40 inches of rain and storm surges in excess of 10 feet.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingAs you already know, CIL services are crucial to help people with disabilities regain independence after disasters. CILs provide needed housing assistance, help navigate changes to benefits that may occur, and cooperate and advocate with local, state, federal agencies that arrive to provide emergency assistance, but so often fail to provide accommodations to people with disabilities. But CILs can’t help if their own facilities are damaged or destroyed.

NCIL’s Disaster Relief Fund distributes money specifically to Centers for Independent Living or 501(c)(3) Statewide Independent Living Councils damaged or destroyed in disasters. NCIL does not distribute money to individual disaster victims, but rather, gives money to CILs and SILCs so that they can repair, replace, or rebuild facilities and equipment in the wake of a disaster. Support from the NCIL Disaster Relief Fund made all the difference for CILs in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the Iowa floods of 2008, and Hurricane Irma in 2017.

Since its inception in 2005, the Disaster Relief Fund has been funded by the generous support of NCIL members like you. 100% of these restricted funds will go towards the purpose outlined above. Please give what you can today.

Action Alert: Prepare for 2018 Midterms by Attending AAPD / DOnetwork Webinars

Are you ready to engage in voting rights advocacy for the disability community? The American Association of People with Disabilities’ REV UP (Register, Educate, Vote! Use Your Power) Campaign, in partnership with Disability Organizing Network, is hosting a series of free webinars on election accessibility this fall.

On September 21 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern, AAPD and DOnetwork will be hosting Access Barriers to Voter Education Materials. “The webinar will explore how political campaigns, hosts of candidate forums, and election officials can make their materials and information more accessible to people with disabilities. Webinar presenters include the National Council on Independent Living and the Center for Disability Empowerment.” You can register for this webinar at the DOnetwork website.

Stay tuned as other webinars and events are posted, including the next webinar in the series, which will be held in mid-October.

Kavanaugh Update

Confirmation hearings for Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court have wrapped up, and a final vote on his confirmation is expected next week. NCIL strongly opposes this nomination.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingThroughout last week’s hearings we saw protests inside and outside of the hearing room, arrests, arguments among Senators, and repeated requests from Democratic Senators to delay the confirmation process. The drama surrounding these hearings illustrates how many people have concerns about Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation, and we unequivocally share those concerns.

A review of Judge Kavanaugh’s past decisions on healthcare, self-determination, employment, education, civil rights, and voting rights (among others) have proven him to be dangerous for people with disabilities. We are thrilled that Liz Weintraub, the Association of University Centers on Disability’s Senior Advocacy Specialist, testified on Friday with a focus on Kavanaugh’s threats to people with disabilities, and particularly his decision in Doe v DC. You can view an uncaptioned video of the testimony or read a transcript. For more information on that decision and others, please refer to NCIL’s full statement of opposition.

Judge Kavanaugh will not protect our rights, and his appointment to the Supreme Court would pose major threats to our community for decades. If you live in a state with one of the below Senators, please call and tell them to Vote NO on Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation:

  • Collins (R-ME)
  • Flake (R-AZ)
  • Heller (R-NV)
  • Murkowski (R-AK)
  • Rubio (R-FL)
  • Sullivan (R-AK)

Protect Our Voting Rights

Did you vote in your last election? If not, you’re not alone.

Over two million people with disabilities didn’t vote in 2016, and this isn’t just an issue of voter apathy. Study after study shows that our voting system is still inaccessible.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingNCIL wants to help YOU vote.

Today marks two months until the mid-term elections. This is your chance to elect representatives on all levels of government that understand the interests and priorities of the disability community. Will you make a donation to NCIL’s Voting Rights Fund today to help ensure that you have an accessible way to vote in November?

Yes! I will chip in $25 to help make our democracy accessible to all.

Take Action Today to Save MFP!

The Money Follows the Person program (MFP) officially expired in 2016, and the EMPOWER Care Act (S. 2227 and H.R. 5306) has been introduced to reauthorize the program. MFP and the EMPOWER Care Act will be a focus of two events in D.C. this week, so we must use this opportunity to take action! While we know how vital MFP is, we need to make sure our Members of Congress hear from their constituents about the importance of MFP and community living.

Today at 10:00 a.m. the House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Health began a hearing to consider five bills including the EMPOWER Care Act. Then on Thursday, the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities LTSS Task Force, the Disability and Aging Collaborative, and the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations with Representatives Brett Guthrie (KY) and Debbie Dingell (MI) are hosting a policy briefing on MFP! People with disabilities and other experts will be testifying on the importance of the MFP program, including Mike Oxford, past NCIL Board President, current NCIL member, and Executive Director of the Topeka Independent Living Resource Center in Kansas! Find more information on the Facebook event page.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingWith all this activity going on, it’s crucial that our members of Congress hear from us!

Take Action

Call your Members of Congress!

  • Educate your Members: Share with them how MFP has helped free you or people you know from institutions, and how reauthorizing MFP is needed to help disabled people still stuck in institutions.
  • Encourage them to attend Thursday’s briefing: Tell your Members and their staff to attend the briefing to hear from people with disabilities and other experts on the MFP program! The hearing is at 3:00 p.m. in 2103 Rayburn, and it is entitled “Helping Seniors and People with Disabilities Get Back Home.”
  • Teach them about the EMPOWER Care Act: Tell them how important MFP is and urge them to cosponsor the bill (S. 2227 in the Senate and H.R. 5306 in the House) if they don’t already.
  • How to contact: All members of Congress can be reached by calling the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or (202) 224-3091 (TTY). You can also find your Members’ Twitter handles and other contact information on Contacting Congress. (If you post on social media, use the handle #FundMFP).

Continue sharing your stories!

  • Share with us: See our previous alert for more details about the stories we’re looking for, and share them with us for our advocacy efforts in DC.
  • Share with the press: Arrange press interviews highlighting the stories of folks who were able to move home because of MFP, or individuals who are stuck in institutions and would benefit from MFP’s reauthorization. Sharing our stories is the key to gaining the support of members of Congress AND the public. If you successfully get the press to cover MFP, please send a link of the coverage to