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

An Update from the NCIL Violence & Abuse Subcommittee

With so much activity happening in Congress under our new Administration, NCIL’s Violence and Abuse Subcommittee thought it might be helpful for the membership to see just how some of these changes may have a direct impact on violence and abuse towards individuals with disabilities and why it is so critical that we stay on top of the unintended consequences of some of these changes.

Repeal of the Affordable Care Act and associated block grants for Medicaid create a situation in which individuals with disabilities may lose their choice to live independently in the community. Institutional settings, such as nursing homes, are a breeding ground for neglect and abuse. The risk to health and safety of individuals with disabilities therefore is directly affected by the actions being taken by Congress and the White House.

The changes within the Department of Education, including the possible elimination or moving money from public to school choice programs may have a drastic effect on the safety of students with disabilities. IDEA mandates that schools investigate and respond to incidents of bullying, plus IEPs have been used as a tool in combating bullying. Seclusion and restraint policies are guided by federal mandates in response to the state’s inability to ensure the safety of students. These federal protections are essential and must not be reverted back to the state. 

Hate crimes against people with disabilities have always been underreported, so the actual impact of this election on this is not clear. What is known is that there has been a spike in hate crimes since the election. The hateful rhetoric used during the campaign and continuing since the election puts people in already marginalized groups at risk for being victimized.

The United States has already had a history of banning people with disabilities from entering this country. Recent travel bans and deportation rules include a focus on banning and deporting individuals based on their need for support. This targets individuals with disabilities and puts them at risk. The deportation orders have already made it difficult for victims to come forward seeking help. Going to the police or court puts victims at risk of coming to the view of officials who may deport them or break up families, leaving children born in this country “orphaned” to the system.

Regardless of what issues drive your passion, we are encouraging you to continuously monitor unintended consequences, such as the examples above, which could negatively impact the safety of our brothers and sisters with disabilities.

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