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

Action Alert: Create Your Organization’s Non-Partisan GOTV Plan Today!

NCIL is proud to announce the 2018 GOTV (Get Out the Vote) Guide is now available! This newly updated guide now includes information to help organizations and individuals plan and implement a GOTV strategy through phone banking, text banking, and social media. The guide includes information on messaging, best practices, and toolkits available to help you encourage your consumers, members, friends, and family to vote.

A circular button that says "VOTE" and has red and blue stripes with white starsThe 2018 midterm elections have already shown to be critical, with many underdog candidates winning their primaries in surprising upsets. GOTV efforts are a way for people with disabilities to make a difference in local, state, and national elections, often from their homes.

To view the GOTV Guide and other useful election-related materials, go to www.ncil.org/votingrights. If you have any questions about this guide, please email NCIL Disability Vote Organizer Sarah Blahovec at sarah@ncil.org.

NCIL Opposes the Administration’s “Public Charge” Proposal

In yet another attack on immigrants, this weekend the Trump Administration announced their proposal to change the “public charge” rule (PDF). The changes proposed would be devastating to immigrant families by making it harder for immigrants, and especially disabled and poor immigrants, to enter the US or become legal permanent residents. NCIL strongly opposes this proposal.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingUnder US law, individuals seeking admission to the US or seeking to become lawful permanent residents (green card holders) can be denied if they are found likely to become a “public charge”. Currently, the term “public charge” refers to an individual who is likely to become “primarily dependent on the government for subsistence” by either the receipt of public cash assistance or institutionalization for long-term care – a definition that clearly already disproportionately impacts disabled immigrants. The proposed changes would significantly broaden the definition of “public charge” to include immigrants who receive one or more public benefits, dramatically expanding the benefits that could be considered to include non-emergency Medicaid (with a few exceptions), housing assistance, SNAP, and certain healthcare subsidies. Immigrant families could be denied entry or residency if they use, or are “likely” to use, any of this wide range of assistance programs.  [Read more…]

New Report on Representation of Young People Examines Disability Representation

On September 25th, Generation Progress, a section of the Center for American Progress, published “A Generation without Representation: How Young People are Severely Underrepresented Among Legislators.” This report examines the representation gap between the 62 million American Millennials who were of voting age during the 2016 election and older generations, and found that although young people are 34% of the electorate, they make up only 6% of legislators.   [Read more…]

Happy National Voter Registration Day!

Happy National Voter Registration Day! Have you registered to vote, or checked to make sure that your voter registration is current and active?

A circular button that says "VOTE" and has red and blue stripes with white starsIf you’re a person with a disability, it may be more difficult to check your voter registration than it is for non-disabled voters. Reports have shown that most states’ online voter registration systems are inaccessible.

Around the country, advocates like you are educating their election officials about the importance of making all parts of the voting process, including registration, accessible to voters with disabilities. But we still have so much work to do, and we need YOUR help to accomplish it. Register to vote today, and then donate to NCIL’s Voting Rights Fund to ensure we can continue this important work through the midterm elections and beyond.

An Update from the NCIL Employment / Social Security Subcommittee

By Sam Liss and James Turner, Subcommittee Co-Chairs

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingThe NCIL Employment / Social Security Subcommittee has been meeting regularly, on a monthly basis, with consistently good attendance. Sam Liss, Subcommittee Co-Chair presented at the NCIL’s 2018 Annual Conference on Independent Living on behalf of the Subcommittee’s legislative priorities. The presentation was well-received and several attendees expressed interest in joining the Subcommittee, although none have yet followed through.

Our Subcommittee’s first priority appears to be moving forward significantly. We have commitments for Congressional sponsorship, in both House and Senate, for our two policy proposals to eliminate employment disincentives for people with disabilities at / beyond retirement age. Congressman Welch (Vermont) and Senator Casey (Pennsylvania), have agreed to introduce both of our proposals as a stand-alone bill. Indeed, Congressman Welch has requested an event in Vermont to announce his introduction of the House bill.  [Read more…]

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!