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

ADAPT Takes DC!

ADAPTers hands chained to White House FenceSource: ADAPT

Disability rights warriors from ADAPT arrived in Washington, DC this weekend and wasted no time getting down to the business of direct action to enforce and progress the rights of Americans with disabilities to live independent lives. Here’s a quick breakdown of their activities so far and resources you can use to learn more about ADAPT and their positions. If you’d like to support their work, you can help by signing their petition.

On Sunday, September 29, ADAPT rallied at the US Department of Labor because DOL recently released rules that will result in more people with disabilities being institutionalized. The very old definition of “companion” used by DOL has exempted many jobs that deal with attendant care for people with disabilities and the rash and narrow-minded way that the Department of Labor defines the term neither helps the personal attendant workforce nor empowers people with disabilities to live at home.

Later that day, ADAPT met with the Deputy Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Maurice Jones. ADAPT activists questioned the HUD definition of homeless and asked that services be removed from the role of HUD. The Deputy Secretary did not resolve any of the issues that ADAPT presented, but he did agree that “housing was the focus of HUD,” and that the Department should not entangle services with housing, but leave those issues to Health and Human Services. Read more.

On Monday, September 30, ADAPT stormed the office of House Speaker John Boehner and sent a clear message: do not threaten the programs that enable people to live in the community rather than expensive nursing facilities and institutions. While the bulk of the ADAPT group rallied at the north and southeast entrances, a group of 20 activists went into the Longworth building to deliver the message to in person. ADAPT demanded that the speaker stop playing political games with our freedom and our lives and instead support efforts to Free Our People. 

Later that day, ADAPT protested in front of the White House and 60 activists were arrested. Vice President Biden has directly committed to ADAPT to work to end the institutional bias and to champion community living. However, since the general election he has refused to meet with ADAPT.  ADAPT demanded that Vice President Joe Biden and the Obama Administration keep their promise to work with the disability community and not to allow the new DOL rules mentioned above. Read more.

On Tuesday, October 1, ADAPT Confronted Tom Perez, US Secretary of Labor, and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

ADAPT faced the Secretary of Labor in front of his home and demonstrated the anger of the disability community for his acceptance of rules that will lead to further institutionalization. Activists demanded that he meet with ADAPT and recall the rule on companion exemption that will go into effect on January 1, 2014.

Mr. Perez did not say anything new or unique to the activists gathered in front of his home and turned his back on the direct request to pull the companion rule. After the discussion in the streets, Tom Perez walked into his home and slammed the door; making the choice of who is welcome in your home that he has denied to people with disabilities.

Later that day, ADAPT visited the national office of the Service Employees Union International to destroy a symbolic agreement that SEIU failed to keep. ADAPT activists burned the agreement called “Guiding Principles” in the street in front of the SEIU office. “It took years for SEIU and ADAPT to develop the Guiding Principles,” said Cathy Cranston, “for me as an attendant and an advocate for people with disabilities it felt like SEIU used us.” Read more.

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