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

NCIL Mourns the Passing of Merle Buckland

To our NCIL family,

As people may have heard, our Executive Director’s wife – Merle – passed away Sunday after living 9 years with cancer. During this difficult time, Kelly has been given leave so that Kelly and his son Rodney may be together with their family and friends.

Kelly and Merle and Rodney Buckland - Family PhotoMany of us have treasured our relationship with Merle who has supported Kelly, NCIL, and the Independent Living Movement with true grace over many years. If you’d like to send a card or note to Kelly and his family, you may send them to NCIL’s office at 2013 H Street NW, 6th Floor, Washington, DC 20006. Our staff will forward all cards and notes to the Bucklands, as they are currently together in Idaho.

During Kelly’s leave, Tim Fuchs – NCIL Operations Director – has been appointed Acting Executive Director. Tim and the NCIL staff are ensuring that the work of the organization continues uninterrupted. I want to express the board’s appreciation to Tim and the staff for their tireless efforts.

And thank you all for your thoughts and support in this difficult time for the Bucklands and our whole NCIL family.

Bruce Darling
NCIL President

CIL-NET Presents… A National Teleconference & Webinar: Approaches to Emerging Systems Advocacy in CILs

Systems advocacy is a core service at the heart of the Independent Living Movement. Our systems advocacy priorities are informed by the access barriers and discrimination we experience, but it takes a concerted effort to identify emerging systems advocacy issues that CILs must address – in addition to the ongoing fights for justice in housing, transportation, healthcare, etc.

IL-NET Logo - CIL-NET + SILC-NETJoin us on July 12th to learn how one CIL has created a systems advocacy model to identify and act on emerging systems advocacy issues. Access Living brings together elements of community organizing and systems advocacy to recruit leaders and address issues that affect communities experiencing multiple forms of oppression. Your presenters will walk through the process, from concept to campaign, so you understand how they build consensus and organizational buy-in, partner with community organizations and other advocates, and work towards systemic solutions. You will learn how they have navigated the process through real-life examples from active advocacy campaigns. They will also share how this work has impacted their organization, including reporting, ensuring accountability, and even opening new funding opportunities.

Registration Fee: $75.00. Fee is per site (connection) and does not apply per participant; registrants are encouraged to gather as many individuals as desired to participate by telephone.  [Read more…]

The National Council on Independent Living Condemns White House Zero Tolerance Policy

The National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) strongly condemns the inhumane actions of the Trump Administration that have resulted in the separation of immigrant families at the US/Mexico border.

Contrary to recent statements from the President, this policy is not required by law. Rather, the horrifying separations of immigrant children from their parents are the direct result of his Administration’s “zero tolerance” policy. As a result of this policy, children have been torn from their parents, warehoused in overcrowded and isolated institutions, and forced to face inconceivable harm and abuse. The Administration’s policy is cruel, inhumane, and detrimental to the safety and well-being of both immigrant children and parents.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingAs a national disability rights organization, we are extremely concerned about the disabled children who are being separated from their parents and detained. These children are impacted disproportionately by this policy and are facing unthinkable trauma. We are also concerned for the children – and parents – who may develop disabilities due to the horror of what they are being forced to endure. The trauma they are experiencing is unquestionably causing irreversible harm.

The immigrant and disabled communities are inextricably linked. Many immigrants are disabled or have disabled family members – in fact, disability is the reason some of these people left their countries for the US. Many immigrants come to the US for better opportunities, including better treatment and support for disability and chronic conditions; sometimes they are trying to get to the US to simply survive. But immigration law has long been discriminatory against disabled immigrants, and they face a disproportionate risk for detainment and deportation. In all nearly settings – including detention centers – disabled immigrants often face insurmountable difficulties to accessing the supports and services they need.

NCIL stands in solidarity with the immigrant communities and others who oppose this immoral policy, and the families being traumatized by this policy. Children are not meant to serve as negotiating tactics, and the infliction of harm should not be used to send a message. We condemn the inhumane actions of this Administration.

After significant pressure, the President has signed an Executive Order (EO) to end the practice of separating families. But that won’t be enough, because there is no clear plan to reunite the 2,000 separated children and their parents immediately, and the EO still leaves the dangerous zero tolerance policy in place. Simply put, yesterday’s Executive Order is not the solution. We call on the President to take further action and end his zero tolerance policy immediately and completely.

Deadline Extended: DIA Children’s Art and Young Adult Essay Contests

The deadline to submit content for the Disability Integration Act Children’s Art Contest and Young Adult Essay Contest has been extended to Tuesday, June 26, 2018.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingAll submissions must be received by 11:59 p.m. Eastern on June 26. Please visit our website for complete details, guidelines, and contest rules:

Good luck to all contest participants!

The Future of the Independent Living Movement Depends on You

Dear Friends of NCIL,

In 2016, while interning in DC, I received a youth scholarship to attend NCIL’s Annual Conference. I attended the conference and was struck by the sheer amount of power and passion contained in that space. I felt privileged to be among friends, fellow advocates, and disability rights legends – an experience that would not have been possible without the scholarship.

Now, two years later, I work at NCIL, helping to ensure that every person with a disability has the choice to live in the community, no matter what their needs. That’s why I’m writing to you today.

Mobilize - Resistance through Action: 2018 Annual Conference on Independent Living. Graphic features an arrow striking a heart over the letters "IL" and a target that replaces the "o" in "Mobilize"Two years ago, your support made it possible for me to attend the NCIL conference. Now, I’m asking for your support again, to enable other young people to attend our conference. Times are hard and budgets are tight for everyone. Unfortunately, we simply don’t have the funds to extend scholarships to all the deserving youth that have applied.

That’s where you can help. Make a donation to the Youth Scholarship Fund. Your contributions will provide scholarships to youth with disabilities who would otherwise be unable to attend the conference. With your help, we’ve already accepted nearly 30 youth this year. You can help us accept even more.

Now more than ever, in these times of upheaval and uncertainty for disabled people, you need to invest in our young leaders – because they will be the ones shaping disability rights for decades to come. Help transform other young people’s lives as mine was transformed. The future of the Independent Living Movement depends on you.

Lead on!

Cara Liebowitz
NCIL Development Coordinator

Take Action for MFP on the Olmstead Anniversary!

This Friday, June 22, 2018, is the 19th Anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Olmstead decision cementing the ADA’s integration mandate. To commemorate the day, NCIL is joining other national disability organizations in hosting a National Call-In Day for the EMPOWER Care Act (S. 2227 and H.R. 5306).

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingSince Money Follows the Person (MFP) began in 2005, over 75,000 disabled people have been liberated from institutions, and CILs have played a critical role in that. But MFP expired on September 30, 2016, and states are starting to scale back and end their programs. In fact, last year was the first time the number of people transitioned into the community declined. We need your advocacy to get the House and Senate to pass the EMPOWER Care Act to reauthorize and fund MFP!

Take Action!

Congress must save and fund MFP, and they need to hear from us! Please urge your Senators and Representative to continue the Money Follows the Person program by co-sponsoring the EMPOWER Care Act!

  • Participate in the National Call-In Day! Call your Senators and Representative and urge them to co-sponsor the EMPOWER Care Act! All members of Congress can be reached by calling the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or (202) 224-3091 (TTY). Find more information, including talking points, at the Facebook event. RSVP and share widely!
  • Use Social Media! Post on Facebook and Tweet at your members of Congress. Find your Members’ Twitter handles and other contact information on Contacting Congress. Make sure to use the hashtag #FundMFP in your posts. You can find more information, including sample Tweets, at the Facebook event.
  • Email your members of Congress! Customize a message to your Members of Congress online.
  • Continue sharing your stories with us! See our previous alert for more details about the stories we’re looking for. Our original deadline passed, but we’re still looking for your stories about the importance of community living!

HCBS Business Acumen Center Toolkit – Step 1: Prepare. Understand the Business Environment and Your Place within It

HCBS Business Acumen Center Toolkit – Disability Network Business Strategies: A Roadmap to Financial and Programmatic Sustainability for Community-Based Organizations

Step 1: Prepare. Understand the Business Environment and Your Place within It

The National Association of States United for Aging and Disabilities (NASUAD) is pleased to announce the release of the first module of the HCBS Business Center Toolkit, “Disability Network Business Strategies: A Roadmap to Financial and Programmatic Sustainability for Community-Based Organizations”. This resource is a “how-to’ guide designed to help Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) evaluate, plan, develop and implement strategies to help build and sustain their organizations in various business climates.

HCBS Business Acumen Center LogoThe first module, Step 1: Prepare. Understand the Business Environment and Your Place within It provides guidance to CBOs serving people with disabilities on the information, data and people needed to inform the development of their strategic plan. This module will help the CBO identify and/or refine their vision and mission, conduct an environmental scan and strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analysis, and identify champions. This user-friendly resource includes a collection of templates that CBOs and their teams can use to document their findings and ideas.

You can access the first module of the toolkit in PDF or plain text[Read more…]

Action Alert: Attend Webinar on Advocating for Increased Accessibility with Additional HAVA Funds

On June 14, 2018 at 4:00 p.m. Eastern, this REV UP Campaign webinar will explain the recently released Help America Vote Act (HAVA) funding meant to help states to improve their election security and election accessibility. Mark Abbott from the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) will explain what funding is available, how it can be used, and how states can apply for it. Michelle Bishop from the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) will discuss how to advocate to state election officials to consider election accessibility as part of the overall plan to increase election security. Participants will have multiple opportunities to ask questions.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingWe encourage all people who care about election accessibility, from individual advocates to organizational staff, to attend.

Before the webinar, make sure to visit the U.S. Election Assistance Commission’s page on 2018 HAVA Election Security Grants to learn how much your state was awarded from these grants.

Announcing: The 2018 NCIL Policy Briefing

Wednesday, June 27, 2018; 3:00-4:30 p.m. Eastern

NCIL is happy to announce our 13th Annual Policy Briefing.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingThis important presentation will to bring advocates up-to-date on national issues and federal policies that affect people with disabilities and provide participants with question and answer sessions with national leaders to ensure you have in-depth information on the issues you care about most.

The Policy Briefing will ensure that we are fired up and prepared for NCIL’s 2018 Day on the Hill! For those of you who will not be at the 2018 Annual Conference on Independent Living, this will provide you with valuable and timely information that you can use in your community. Please share this training announcement far and wide so that our issues reach many people.

This teleconference is free for NCIL Members. There is a $25.00 registration fee for Non-Members, per call-in site. Fee does not apply per participant in group, provided the group uses the same conference line.

The Policy Briefing will be available via teleconference and CART (captioned) webcast. You must register by 12:00 Noon Eastern on June 27 to participate in the call.

  • Materials: This call will address the issues covered in NCIL’s Legislative & Advocacy Priorities Booklet, which is available in PDF, Word, or plain text.

Please contact Tim Fuchs at with any questions.

Reminder – Call for Stories: Snapshots of Our Lives

The National Organizing Project, a collaboration between ADAPT and NCIL, is asking for your help in collecting stories that we can use on the Hill talking with legislators.

Stories about Community Living

We are looking for are stories depicting the importance of Community Living. We would like to be able to use these stories when talking about the Disability Integration Act, the Empower Care Act, the Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) Settings Rule, Money Follows the Person, and other related legislation and policies aimed at ending the institutional bias. We are looking for:

  • Stories from people stuck in facilities waiting to get out
  • Successful transitions out of nursing homes or other institutional facilities to the community (please include specific programs that were used, including HCBS Waiver programs, Money Follows the Person, etc.)
  • Successful diversions from facilities through use of HCBS Waivers and related services, and
  • Stories from people on waiting lists for services.

Stories about the ADA

We are also looking for stories about the Americans with Disabilities Act. We are looking for:

  • Stories about persistent access barriers that are preventing full participation, and
  • Stories about how the ADA has allowed folks to live fully included lives in the community.

While we recognize that there are many areas of access that need addressing, currently we are focusing on Title III (physical access to public spaces) because of the recent threats to Title III of the ADA with “notice and cure” type bills. If you are sending a story about physical access barriers, please send a picture with your story if possible.

Our goal is to get at least three stories for each topic per legislator. You can help us reach that goal!

Please send stories by June 15, 2018 to Please include your first name (or initials), your city and state, the names of your Senators and Representative, a photo (preferred but optional), and 2-3 paragraphs concisely telling your story. Please also note that we are regularly meeting with legislators and may contact you for stories before the 15th in order to bring those stories into meetings with us.