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

Civil Rights & the ADA

NCIL Opposes Nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to U.S. Supreme Court

The National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) is the longest-running national cross-disability, grassroots organization run by and for people with disabilities. Founded in 1982, NCIL represents thousands of individuals and organizations including individuals with disabilities, Centers for Independent Living (CILs), Statewide Independent Living Councils (SILCs), and other organizations that advocate for the human and civil rights of people with disabilities throughout the United States.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingBased on a careful review of Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s opinions, NCIL opposes his appointment to the United States Supreme Court. Judge Kavanaugh’s opinions on healthcare, self-determination, employment, and education for people with disabilities are damaging to disability rights and his appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court would threaten the rights and lives of Americans with disabilities.

Several of Judge Kavanaugh’s decisions are particularly concerning. One example of this is his ruling in Doe ex rel. Tarlow v. D.C., in which a class of people with intellectual disabilities living in facilities in the District of Columbia were subjected to elective surgeries (including unwanted abortions) based on the consent of District officials, without attempting to determine the individuals’ own wishes. While the district court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, on appeal Judge Kavanaugh ruled in favor of the district stating that “accepting the wishes of patients who lack (and have always lacked) the mental capacity to make medical decisions does not make logical sense and would cause erroneous medical decisions – with harmful or even deadly consequences to intellectually disabled persons.” This decision is deeply discriminatory and based on flawed assumptions about the capacity of individuals with intellectual disabilities. It is in stark contrast to the philosophy of independent living, which is grounded in the belief that people with all types of disabilities are the best experts on their own needs and should be in control of the decisions impacting their lives. In situations where people with intellectual disabilities may need assistance with making decisions, emerging practices like Supported Decision-Making will allow them to receive the supports they need to make a decision while also respecting their rights.

Additionally, access to healthcare is critical for people with disabilities, and NCIL finds the opinions expressed repeatedly by Judge Kavanaugh against the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to be very concerning. Judge Kavanaugh’s repeated attacks on the ACA are a threat to healthcare access, and if appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court, he would jeopardize our ability to access the healthcare and other supports that allow us the ability to live, work, and participate fully in the communities where we reside. The ACA provides access to healthcare for many people with disabilities who had previously been denied due to pre-existing conditions, and many of the other protections under the ACA are critical for ensuring we can receive services in the community rather than in institutions. Rolling back the ACA would be an infringement on our civil rights that would ultimately result in a loss of independence and increased institutionalization.  [Read more…]

Get Ready to Get Out the Vote! Upcoming Webinars on Voter Engagement

As we get closer to the midterms, several organizations are holding webinars to help organizations and individual advocates become more engaged in the democratic process and participate in Get Out The Vote activities.  [Read more…]

Rooted in Rights Storyteller Carrie Wade Talks Running for Office with a Disability

This week, Rooted in Rights released a video by Storyteller Carrie Wade entitled “Running Out,” which looks at representation in public office and considers the challenges and opportunities of running for office as an LGBTQ woman with a disability. Carrie talked with both Sarah Blahovec, NCIL’s Disability Vote Organizer, former candidate Amy Biviano, and Reggie Greer, who is the Director of Constituent Engagement at the Victory Fund, which trains and supports openly LGBTQ individuals to seek elected office.   [Read more…]

NCIL Conference Attendees Invited to Kennedy Center ADA Anniversary Performance featuring Mandy Harvey

On July 26, 2018 there will be a free 6:00 p.m. performance at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage featuring Mandy Harvey, a deaf singer / songwriter, to celebrate the ADA’s 28th Anniversary.

Mandy HarveyThe Kennedy Center expects this to be a popular show. Seating will be on a first-come, first-seated basis, but everything is wheelchair accessible and the show will be captioned, signed, and audio described. No tickets or reservations are necessary.

A vocal music education major at Colorado State University, Harvey lost her residual hearing in 2006–2007 at age 18 due to a connective tissue disorder, and left the program. She pursued several career options, including education, but returned to music in 2008. Mandy’s music attracts the attention of those around the world.  [Read more…]

NCIL Condemns Judge’s Decision to Allow Electric Shocks to Continue

The National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) is appalled and outraged by the recent decision of a Massachusetts judge to allow the Judge Rotenberg Center (JRC) to continue administering electric shocks to disabled individuals as behavior ‘treatment’. We stand with countless other disability rights organizations and advocates in opposing this cruel ruling.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingDespite opposition from disability rights organizations, previous residents, parents and advocates, JRC continues to use electric shock devices as behavioral treatment on disabled individuals. Even in the face of decades of evidence showing these devices to be both dangerous and cruel, and even after the United Nations (UN) condemned the use of these devices as torture, JRC continues to be the one and only institution in the country to continue this practice.

In Judge Field’s decision, she wrote that Massachusetts officials did not prove that the practice fails to conform to “the accepted standard of care for treating individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.” Kelly Buckland, Executive Director of NCIL, said of the ruling: “The judge’s decision is appalling. There is no question that the use of these devices causes lasting harm to disabled people. For Judge Field to so blatantly disregard the safety and well-being of JRC residents is completely despicable.”  [Read more…]

Center for American Progress Releases Report “Increasing Voter Participation in America”

On July 11th, the Center for American (CAP) released a comprehensive report regarding voting participation in America, the conditions that are contributing to low voter turnout, and the tools and initiatives states can use to increase voter participation. This report looks recognizes the barriers and conditions that exist for many populations including the disability community, communities of color, young people, low-income Americans, and formerly incarcerated persons.   [Read more…]

U.S. Election Assistance Commission Reflects on Town Hall at National Disability Rights Network Conference

On June 26th, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission published a blog about their experience holding a town hall at the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) Conference in Baltimore, Maryland. At the town hall, people with disabilities shared their experience and feedback on voting with EAC Chairman Tom Hicks and Vice Chair Christy McCormick. According to the EAC, voters shared feedback concerning:  [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…]

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.