the advocacy monitor

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

Civil Rights & the ADA

#WeAreStillWaiting: Join Advocates across the Country Tomorrow to #StopTheShock

Tomorrow, April 24, marks five years since the FDA’s hearing on the graduated electronic decelerator (GED) shock devices used at the Judge Rotenberg Center (JRC). They found the device to cause serious harm and a ban was recommended. Since then, proposed regulations have been published and promises have been made, but the ban still hasn’t been finalized. Decades of advocacy have gotten us this far, and we need to keep the pressure on the FDA to release the ban and #StopTheShock!

[Read more…]

Action Alert: Tell Us About Your Voting Experiences

Have you experienced access barriers as a voter with a disability in previous elections? NCIL is working with the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs to learn more about voters with disabilities’ experience with voting, particularly any access barriers they have encountered that have made it difficult or impossible to cast a ballot. These barriers include but are not limited to physically inaccessible polling places, difficult interactions with poll workers, and problems with casting a ballot on voting equipment. In addition, we are also looking to hear from voters who have had difficulty registering to vote or navigating their local election office’s website and finding important voter information.

If you have experienced a challenge or a barrier while voting, please contact Disability Vote Organizer Sarah Blahovec at sarah@ncil.org or 202-207-0334 extension 1103 to share your story. 

NCIL to Launch Campaign Skills Webinar Series

Are you considering running for a local elected office but don’t know where to start? Do you have the drive to run for school board or city council, but you’re intimidated by the prospect of fundraising or concerned about potential access barriers? You’re not alone. Although one in six voters has a disability, there are surprisingly few resources and programs dedicated to teaching people with disabilities how to run for elected office. To that end, with the financial support of the American Association of People with Disabilities and the Paul G. Hearne Emerging Leader Award, NCIL is developing a series of accessible online campaign training workshops to be held in late spring and early summer of 2019. 

This webinar series will train participants on the basics skills they need to run their first political campaign, including operations, field organizing, communications, and fundraising. It will be conducted from a cross-disability perspective, with insights on how to tailor campaign operations to work with your access needs, as well as how to talk about your disability authentically within the scope of your campaign. NCIL has partnered with NuView Consulting, a disability-owned, minority-owned consulting firm which has over 14 years of experience in political campaigns of all sizes. These training workshops will be intentionally led by campaign experts of color who have extensive experience with underrepresented communities. 

The National Council on Independent Living is a 501c3 nonprofit and a non-partisan organization, and workshops are for educational purposes only. NCIL does not provide support or endorsement to any candidates for elected office. 

Registration and additional information will be available shortly. These webinars are offered free of charge to NCIL members. However, we always welcome donations to support NCIL’s work around voting rights and running for office.  You can donate through our donation page.  Check ‘Yes’ under “I would like to donate to direct my money to a specific fund” and select “Voting Rights & Civic Engagement” from the drop down menu. If you would like receive more information about these webinars and other NCIL offerings, become a NCIL member today.

NCIL Statement on the Passing of President George H.W. Bush

The National Council on Independent Living mourns the passing of former President George H.W. Bush. He died on Friday, November 30, 2018, at the age of 94.

On July 26, 1990, President Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act, which solidified into law the civil rights of people with disabilities in the U.S. At the signing ceremony, the words he spoke became words often repeated in our community to symbolize the significance of the law’s passage: “Let the shameful wall of exclusion finally come tumbling down.” Read full remarks.

NCIL Executive Director Kelly Buckland said, “President Bush didn’t simply sign a historic piece of legislation. The ADA passed with strong, bipartisan support under – and in part because of – his strong, ongoing leadership.” In 2015, President Bush listed the ADA among his proudest achievements as President, saying, “It’s something I’m very proud of – perhaps proudest of when I was President.”

NCIL mourns the loss of President Bush, whose contributions and commitment to the civil rights of Americans with disabilities will not be forgotten.

After lying in state for two days at the Capitol Building, a funeral service will be held for President Bush in Washington today (Wednesday) at 11:00 a.m. Eastern at the National Cathedral. Today will be a national day of mourning and the federal government will be closed. After today’s funeral, he will be flown back to Texas and interred on Thursday. Details about both the DC and Texas services and ceremonies can be found on the official schedule (PDF). Several news networks will be covering the services Wednesday and Thursday, including PBS stations nationwide and C-SPAN online. We encourage you to attend these events and tune in remotely to show your gratitude for his signing of and commitment to the ADA and people with disabilities.

NPR Seeks Public Input on the ADA!

Tomorrow (Tuesday, December 4), National Public Radio’s (NPR) 1A radio show is doing a segment on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). They are asking for input from the public – including information about what’s wrong with the law and what needs to be changed. We need to make sure they also hear from people with disabilities about the importance of the ADA and what’s right with the law! Share your stories about how the ADA has protected your rights or provided you greater access to your community. The law may not be perfect, but having seen repeated attempts in Congress to weaken the ADA, we need to keep fighting to protect it.

More information about the show, including times and information on how to tune in, can be found at the1a.org. Call in at: 855-236-1A1A (1212).

 

Submit Comments Today to Oppose the “Public Charge” Proposal

On October 10, 2018 the Trump Administration’s proposed “public charge” rule was published in the Federal Register. The proposal is extremely discriminatory against disabled immigrants, and we need to do all we can to stop it!

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingThe public charge rule is used to prevent immigrants from entering the US or becoming legal permanent residents if they are likely to rely on certain public benefits. This proposal would significantly expand the benefits that can be taken into account to include non-emergency Medicaid, housing assistance, SNAP (food stamps), certain healthcare subsidies, and potentially the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) – things people with disabilities rely on often. It would also heavily weigh medical conditions, insurance, and anticipated medical costs in public charge determinations. This proposal is unquestionably discriminatory against immigrants with disabilities. It makes it clear that this administration only wants you if you’re healthy, nondisabled, and wealthy. You can learn more about the public charge rule in our previous alert.

If the rule is finalized as proposed, disabled immigrants will be far less likely to come to the US and less likely to be permitted to stay. Moreover, immigrants currently residing in the US will likely be even more afraid to use the benefits they need in fear of being denied a green card. The proposed policy would be devastating to immigrant families, and it would disproportionately impact people with disabilities.

Take Action!

The comment period closes on December 10, 2018 at 11:59 Eastern. We have drafted sample comments that you can personalize and submit. Please feel free to use them as – is or to change them as much as you’d like to reflect your own experiences and opinions.

NCIL’s draft comments are available online and in Word and plain text.

Comments may be submitted online through the Federal eRulemaking Portal (preferred) or by mail.

  • To submit comments online through the portal, visit regulations.gov/docket?D=USCIS-2010-0012 (or go to www.regulations.gov and enter USCIS-2010-0012 in the search bar) and click on “Comment Now”. You can either type your comments into the comment box or upload a document.
  • To submit comments by mail, your comments must be postmarked by the comment submission deadline (December 10, 2018). Address your comments to: Samantha Deshommes, Chief, Regulatory Coordination Division, Office of Policy and Strategy, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Department of Homeland Security, 20 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20529-2140. Please reference DHS Docket No. USCIS-2010-0012 in your correspondence.

Ask Your Members of Congress to Reject White Nationalism

On Election Day, just weeks after hate crimes in Kentucky and Pittsburgh rocked the nation, the majority of American people voted to change the direction of this country, away from the hate and bigotry that have overtaken our nation as the threat of white nationalism has grown.

Today, NCIL is joining our friends at Bend the Arc: Jewish Action in launching a new campaign to ask every member of the new Congress to go on the record to reject white nationalism and recognize its threat to our communities and our democracy.

Can you help us launch in a big way? It’s going to take all of us to get this demand into the hands of as many members of Congress as possible before they are sworn in on January 3rd.

Go to www.RejectWhiteNationalism.org right now to find your representatives and ask them to sign on.  [Read more…]

NCIL Queer Caucus Condemns Trump Administration’s Call to Erase Transgender Identity

The NCIL Queer caucus condemns the Presidential Administration’s call to erase transgender identity from being recognized by the United States government. Through a unilateral set of policies targeting gender recognition, the transgender community will be put at even greater risk. Obama-era protections will be no more.

The transgender community already faces high unemployment, poverty, intimate partner violence, violence from police, and housing discrimination. The government recognition of gender identity had become a small step toward normalcy for many trans citizens. The ability to change gender markers — gender as identified on government documents — is not only a means of personal gender affirmation, but a label legitimizing gender. Bringing an I.D. to the bartender, using a public toilet, or getting on an airplane is no longer Russian Roulette for outing one’s self. Reports show that outing is a very dangerous act in a world still wrestling with the concept of trans identity. 27 transgender individuals have been murdered this year– many of them women of color. Gender markers are added protection against violence.

The NCIL Queer Caucus condemns the silence of the medical community on the issues of gender identity. Scientists have been the biggest ally to confirming that chromosomes are not the only definition of sex in humans. Despite evidence confirming gender identity, the scientific community is being silent on the attacks on the transgender community. The valuable information they provide is key to forming comprehensive and realistic policy around the issue.

22% of the transgender community identifies as having a disability compared to the general population of around 6%. Access to medical care, equal treatment under the law, access to jobs, housing, and safety are all concerns connecting the disability and transgender community.

Become a member of the NCIL Queer Caucus to help us organize and support the LGBTQ community, because we will most likely continue to see attacks on our population for the next several years. Be the change you want to see in the world! Learn about NCIL’s committees and caucuses and join today.

Achieving Accessibility for Election Websites and Sample Ballots: A Toolkit for Disability Advocates

Is your local election office’s website accessible to voters with disabilities? Election office websites are hubs of information for voters, providing pertinent information throughout the election process, such as what’s on your ballot and where your polling place is located. For voters with disabilities, accessing this information is especially critical as they look for information on accessible voting options or how to advocate for removal of access barriers that they experience at a polling place. Unfortunately, even though these websites are mandated by law to be accessible to people with disabilities, they often have significant access barriers that impact people with a range of disabilities.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent Living“Achieving Accessibility for Election Websites and Sample Ballots: A Toolkit for Disability Advocates” is a toolkit to help local advocates not only understand the access barriers on election websites and sample ballots, but also help them form a strategy and approach local election officials to remove these barriers and make voter information accessible to voters with disabilities. The toolkit provides information and resources that help both advocates and election officials understand the user experience from the perspective of users with a range of disabilities, including vision, mobility, and cognitive disabilities, and strategies to help local advocates engage election officials in efficient and effective discussion. Advocates can use this guide to begin building a relationship with election officials not only to address website access barriers, but to address other access barriers in the voting process to make the fundamental right to vote accessible to all American citizens.

“Achieving Accessibility for Election Websites and Sample Ballots: A Toolkit for Disability Advocates” is available in PDF, Word, and plain text.

Your Election Day Voting Resources

It’s Election Day and all around the country, voters like you are making a difference.  Voting is a way for you to make your voice heard on issues that matter to you – issues like healthcare, education, and more.

Voting can be tricky when you have a disability.  That’s why we put together this list of resources so that you can exercise your right to vote today and cast your ballot privately and independently.

Getting to the polls:

  • Uber and Lyft are providing free or discounted rides to the polls, along with several bike companies, scooter companies, and public transportation systems.
  • Carpool Vote is a service that matches drivers with voters in need of a ride. You can request an adapted van with a lift through this service, mark that you will be traveling with a service animal, and/or request any other accommodations (such as help folding equipment).

At your polling place:

After voting: