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

NCIL Actions in Response to ILA / ACL Reductions in Part C Funds to CILs

As you know, many Centers for Independent Living (CILs) saw a reduction in funds in FY 2016 and 2017, which the Independent Living Administration (ILA) explained as being necessary to:

  • 2016: help CILs who missed the deadline to draw down the remainder of their American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds due to miscommunication from the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA); and
  • 2017: help support “unaccompanied minors” coming into the country through an “Administrative Transfer” they claim the Secretary has the authority to impose.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingNCIL found both these actions unacceptable and decided to use the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to get information on the details of how Part C funds withheld from CILs were actually used and how they determined where cuts to CILs were made. Working with our attorneys, (Brown, Goldstein & Levy), NCIL sent a very detailed FOIA request to the Freedom of Information Act Officer at the Administration for Community Living (ACL).

Our attorney carefully analyzed all the information received and sent a detailed letter regarding that analysis and potential actions to be taken by NCIL, which included:

  • Prevail on a friendly member of Congress to ask the Government Accountability Office (GAO) for a legal opinion on the transfer of Part C funds to other Health and Human Services (HHS) programs in FY 2017 (and any others in prior years)
  • Sue for declaratory and injunctive relief regarding the transfer of Part C funds in FY 2017
  • Follow-up with ACL on deductions from Part C funds in FY 2017 for “Peer Review”, “ACL Grants System Cost”, and “Other Admin Costs”
  • Sue the Department of Education and ACL to seek redress for any illegal budgetary actions
  • Ask ACL to adjust their budget records regarding a reporting or clerical error
  • Ask ACL to petition Congress to pass legislation specifically exempting a given Part C appropriation from certain appropriations rules

The NCIL Rehabilitation Act / IL Funding Subcommittee carefully reviewed all these options. We also discussed the recommendation made by Appropriations staff that NCIL should work with ACL to prepare report language to prevent such transfers of Part C funds.  [Read more…]

Integrating Disability into Emergency Management – A Blueprint to Saving Lives in the Community

The NCIL Emergency Preparedness Subcommittee is honored to present at the 2018 Annual Conference on Independent Living. Our Pre-Conference session will be held from 2:00-3:30 p.m. on Sunday, July 22.

2017 was unprecedented in the number and severity of disasters in our country. The disability community was disproportionately impacted because we, and local and state emergency managers and society in general, have not acted upon the lessons we have observed from previous disasters by implementing practices, policies, and procedures to better prepare our response. Natural disasters are more intense, and human-caused disasters more frequent. If people with disabilities are to survive these disasters with less damage to us and our community, we must take action now! To paraphrase Justin Dart, “we must get involved as if our lives depended on it.” The NCIL Emergency Preparedness Subcommittee will discuss promising practices regarding developing strategies to integrate disability into emergency management in your community. In preparation for our pre-conference session, we encourage everyone to read:

Getting It Wrong: An Indictment with a Blueprint for Getting It Right

Disability Rights, Obligations and Responsibilities Before, During and After Disasters 
[Read more…]

Gearing Up for the 2018 Midterms: Ballot Measures and Nonprofits

Do you know what will be on your ballot when you go to vote in November? It’s very likely that you’re prepared to vote for somebody to represent you in a legislative body on the local, state, or national level, like a member of the House of Representatives. But while you might be voting for one candidate or another, you might have something else to vote on show up on your ballot, something that doesn’t involve choosing a candidate to represent your interests. Many states have voters decide on ballot measures, which according to Bolder Advocacy, “initiate constitutional or legislative reform by proposing, placing on the ballot, and voting on statutes or constitutional amendments.” In 24 states, citizens may have the opportunity to vote directly on important policy issues, often including issues that impact people with disabilities, such as housing and transportation.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingOne high-profile ballot measure in the 2018 Midterms is Florida Ballot Amendment Four, the Voting Rights Restoration for Felons Initiative. This amendment reads: “This amendment restores the voting rights of Floridians with felony convictions after they complete all terms of their sentence including parole or probation. The amendment would not apply to those convicted of murder or sexual offenses, who would continue to be permanently barred from voting unless the Governor and Cabinet vote to restore their voting rights on a case by case basis.” Florida is only one of four states with a lifetime ban on voting for people with prior felony convictions, and this disenfranchises 1.4 million Florida voters. Higher numbers of people with disabilities and people of color are incarcerated, making this ballot amendment a disability rights and civil rights issue. NCIL supports this amendment, as it restores the responsibility of civic engagement and ensures equal access for Florida citizens. You can learn more at Florida Second Chances[Read more…]

TNCs are Great, Unless You’re in a Wheelchair

Scott M. Crawford, Ph.D., Accessible Transportation Advocate

While watching the evening news, I couldn’t help but notice a highly polished advertisement from UBER’s CEO Dara Khosrowshahi called “Moving Forward”. In the sixty-second piece, Mr. Khosrowshahi says that his “…priority has been to listen to you, to cities and communities, and to my own employees.” He goes on to say that he’s focusing on changing the “culture” of the corporation and that “One of our core values as a company is to always do the right thing, and if there are times when we fall short, we commit to being open, taking responsibility for the problem, and fixing it.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingReally?

As a person living with multiple sclerosis in Jackson, Mississippi, and needing a power wheelchair for mobility, I can attest that UBER is not listening to me or my colleagues needing accessible vehicles. Historically, Transportation Network Companies (TNCs, or Ride-Hailing Services) pay lip-service to the notion by having an option like UBER WAV, but it is available in only a small number of cities and does not provide anything like the reliable service our able-bodied peers enjoy. It isn’t available at all here in Jackson.

Worse, in many states, TNCs have preempted local authority to enforce equal service. In 2016, the Mississippi Legislature passed just such a law with only the vague assurance that they must “…comply with all the applicable laws regarding nondiscrimination…”. There is nothing explicitly calling for wheelchair-accessible service that is at all equivalent to that provided to everyone else (§37.105).  [Read more…]

California, North Carolina, New Jersey, and New York: Paid Family and Medical Leave and Disability Study

Columbia University and The Arc are doing a study on paid family and medical leave with people affected by disabilities and need your help. For the study, they’d like to interview workers with disabilities and those who provide support to a friend or family member with a disability in California, New Jersey, New York, and North Carolina. They plan to conduct remote, one-on-one interviews by phone, web conference, or email to look at how paid family and medical leave programs can work better for them.

Can you help us recruit people who:

  1. Work in California, New Jersey, New York, or North Carolina or have worked in these states in the past 2 years, AND
  2. Have a disability OR provide support to a friend or a family member with a disability?

Interested people can call 929-900-5398 or email paidleavestudy@outlook.com with ‘The Arc’ in the subject line.

Anyone who is eligible and completes an interview will receive a $20 gift card.  [Read more…]

New Fact Sheets Explain Laws That Protect People with Disabilities

Staff at the Research and Training Center on Promoting Interventions for Community Living (RTC/PICL) has created six new fact sheets to inform people with disabilities about their rights under U.S. laws. They are a few of the resources offered to participants in the RTC/PICL’s “Out and About” intervention, which assists consumers in setting community participation goals and addressing barriers to participation. Each fact sheet includes one or two scenarios that illustrate how understanding disability legislation enables people with disabilities to advocate for change. An additional fact sheet offers information on how to build a support network.

HCBS Business Acumen Center Stories from the Field Contest Winners

The HCBS Business Acumen Center, administered by the National Association of States United for Aging and Disabilities (NASUAD), with support from its national partners and with funding provided by the Administration for Community Living, launched the Stories from the Field Contest in March 2018 to collect examples of business strategies used by disability community-based organizations (CBOs) to sustain or grow their community-based business.

NASUAD Logo - National Association of States United for Aging and DisabilitiesThis contest was designed to encourage community-based organizations serving people with disabilities to share their experiences building new business relationships, negotiating contracts, and expanding or establishing new lines of business.  [Read more…]

HCBS Business Acumen Center Business Development Learning Collaborative

The National Association of States United for Aging and Disabilities (NASUAD) is pleased to announce that state teams from Illinois, Minnesota, and Virginia have been selected to participate in the 2018 – 2019 Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Business Acumen Center Business Development Learning Collaborative. The learning collaborative launched in May at the NASUAD 2018 MLTSS Symposium and Spring Meeting in Philadelphia, PA.

NASUAD Logo - National Association of States United for Aging and DisabilitiesEach state team participating in the learning collaborative is comprised of community-based organizations* (CBO) serving persons with disabilities, state agencies and other related partner organizations. Together, they will evaluate the CBOs business environment and develop and implement business strategies that are designed to strengthen and sustain the CBOs operations. The partners within the state team will support successful implementation of the strategic plan by helping to identify, understand and developing strategies to minimize or alleviate any obstacles.

This effort is led by NASUAD in partnership with seven national organizations and funded through a grant from the Administration for Community Living. To learn more about the resources and opportunities available through the Business Acumen Center, please visit the HCBS Business Acumen Center at hcbsbusinessacumen.org.  [Read more…]

TSA Releases 2018 Summer Travel Tips

Source: Office of Civil Rights & Liberties, Ombudsman and Traveler Engagement, U.S. Department of Homeland Security

On behalf of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), I am writing to share some important tips to help you better prepare for security screening and to help TSA keep wait times to a minimum at our Nation’s airport screening checkpoints for the 2018 summer travel season.  Here are a few things you can do:

  • Arrive early to get through security screening—two hours early for domestic and three hours early for international flights. Check with your airline and airport to determine wait times during peak periods. The MyTSA App is also a great resource to help figure out when you should get to the airport.
  • Consider checking your bag: more people and more bags may lead to longer wait times.
  • For your carry-on bag – make sure it’s well organized. It takes time for TSA officers to make sure a cluttered or overstuffed bag is safe.
  • Examples of personal electronic items that would be scanned separately include laptops and electronics larger than a cell phone.  This includes tablets, e-readers, and cameras. Additionally, TSA may provide instructions to remove items from your bag such as foods, powders, and any materials that can clutter bags and obstruct X-ray images.
  • Know the 3-1-1 rule: TSA’s 3-1-1 is shorthand for the liquids rule. Basically, limit your liquids, gels, aerosols and pastes to no more than 3.4 ounces, or 100 milliliters, in 1 bag that’s no bigger than 1 quart. Medically-necessary liquids may exceed this limit, but must be declared prior to commencement of screening. All liquids, including liquids declared as medically-necessary, must be screened.
  • If you must travel with it, know how to safely pack your gun in checked baggage—and NEVER bring it to the TSA checkpoint: Transporting Firearms.
  • Get through the line faster with TSA Precheck, which lets you leave your shoes, belt, and light jacket on while you go through security. You can also leave your laptop and your liquids in your bag. It costs $85 for five years.
  • TSA Cares is a helpline for travelers who want to prepare for the screening process prior to flying. TSA Cares is toll free at 1-855-787-2227 or Federal Relay 711. Travelers may also request the assistance of a Passenger Support Specialist for security screening at TSA Cares.
  • The TSA Disability Notification Card can be used to discreetly notify TSA Officers at security screening of a disability or medical condition and request an accommodation.
  • For general inquiries and questions, visit TSA.gov  or contact us through the TSA Contact Center (TCC) at TSA-ContactCenter@tsa.dhs.gov, or by phone at 866-289-9673 or Federal Relay 711. For additional travel tips, read TSA’s 5 Essential Summer Travel Tips  and follow @AskTSA and @TSA on Twitter and Facebook.

[Read more…]

2018 Susan M. Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame Call for Nominations

Nominations are currently being sought for the 2018 Susan M. Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame, a program of the National Disability Mentoring Coalition. Nominations will be accepted through August 15, 2018 via the Coalition’s website, www.disabilitymentors.org, on the Hall of Fame page.  [Read more…]