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

Civil Rights & the ADA

Organizers Forum: Parenting and Disability

  • Tuesday, November 21, 2017
  • 1:00-2:00 p.m. Eastern
  • RSVP

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingHear from members of the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) Parenting Task Force! We’ll talk about issues facing parents with disabilities and what disability rights advocates can do.

Speakers:

  • Kelly Buckland, Executive Director, National Council on Independent Living
  • Sarah Launderville, Chair, NCIL Parenting Task Force, and Executive Director, Vermont Center for Independent Living
  • Kimberly Tissot, Executive Director, ABLE South Carolina

[Read more…]

Information Alert: GAO Releases Report on Polling Place Accessibility in 2016 Election

Last week, the U.S. Government Accountability Office released a report detailing the accessibility and barriers to access at polling places in the 2016 elections. This report, which the GAO has produced after other presidential elections, found that:

  • Of all 178 polling places, 60 percent had one or more potential impediments outside the polling place, with the most common being steep ramps, lack of signage to indicate accessible paths, and poor parking or path surfaces.
  • Of the 137 polling places where the GAO was able to examine the interior polling stations, 65 percent had a polling station with an accessible voting system that could impede the casting of a private and independent ballot.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingThis report shows that although many laws, such as the Help America Vote Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, continue to require accessibility of polling places, compliance with those laws is still often lacking, and there are still many potential barriers to casting a fully private and independent ballot for people with disabilities. These findings indicate that advocacy is still needed on all levels of government to educate election officials about making polling places accessible for people with disabilities.

Access the full GAO report, VOTERS WITH DISABILITIES Observations on Polling Place Accessibility and Related Federal Guidance (PDF), at gao.gov.

An Update from the NCIL Mental Health Subcommittee

Lots of things have been happening around mental health. We fought back attacks on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) with partners in ADAPT and others, but the danger still exists. The House and Senate have passed a budget that threatens to devastate mental health services through major cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, the Affordable Care Act, and other vital programs and services. We still need to make our elected representatives aware of the impact of these cuts and how they will affect people.

Recently:

  • Approximately 38 states have actually combined the Departments of Substance Abuse and Mental Health.
  • The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which insures about 40% of American children, has not been reauthorized. This ongoing failure will affect mental health and overall health for the nation’s vulnerable children.
  • The President has declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency. This is different than a national emergency, which would include additional funds. This is a complex issue, and we are continuing to follow the national discussion. We encourage you to read last year’s NCIL Statement on Opioids, Chronic Pain, and the Pharmaceutical Industry. In response to the opioid epidemic, there have been calls to change the Institutions for Mental Diseases (IMD) exclusion, which prohibits federal payments for mental health or substance use treatment for facilities with 16 or more beds treating primarily people with psychiatric diagnoses. IMDs are mostly hospitals and nursing facilities, and NCIL has previously opposed changing the IMD exclusion, which would increase institutionalization.

The Mental Health Subcommittee supports as a starting point continuing bipartisan efforts on the Affordable Care Act and we will continue to monitor the proposed Alexander-Murray Obamacare stabilization bill in the Senate. Most importantly, we strongly support the Disability Integration Act, H.R. 2472 and S. 910 – sponsored by Representative James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY).  [Read more…]

Deadline Extended: NCIL Invites You to Participate in a National Survey about Accessible Parking and Placard Abuse

The National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) invites you to participate in an online survey for people who require accessible parking, or have disabled placard or license plates. The survey takes about 15 minutes and will have a major effect on policies related to parking for people with disabilities. The deadline to complete this important survey has been extended to November 8.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingHave you faced challenges when it comes to finding available parking? Have you been frustrated by parking spaces that are designated for people with disabilities but are used by those who don’t need them? What other parking problems do you encounter?

Here is your chance to share your experiences, insights, and challenges. NCIL is part of a newly-formed Accessible Parking Council to address these issues on a national scale.

If you require accessible parking and have a disabled placard or license plate, please take this 15-minute online survey on Accessible Parking and Placard Abuse to ensure your voice is heard.  [Read more…]

2017 Dole Leadership Prize Awarded to Senator Tom Harkin

The Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas has announced that it will honor retired U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin as the recipient of the 2017 Dole Leadership Prize.

Harkin received the award at a public program on Oct. 29 at the Dole Institute. The program can now be viewed online. The Senator spoke at length about the ADA and the role of people with disabilities and their ongoing advocacy.

“Senator Harkin shares Senator Dole’s belief in bipartisanship, civil discourse and respect for the other side,” Dole Institute Director Bill Lacy said. “We look forward to honoring his long service to our country.”

“I am honored and humbled to join the list of renowned public servants to receive this recognition,” Harkin said. “Senator Dole and I share a commitment to promoting civic engagement, civil discourse and cooperation. This was prevalent during our shared time in the U.S. Senate, particularly in our work on behalf of people with disabilities, and continues to guide our work even today.”  [Read more…]

One More Opportunity to Sign on to NCIL’s Letter Opposing the ADA Education and Reform Act

Thank you to those of you who have already signed on to NCIL’s Letter Opposing the ADA Education and Reform Act (H.R. 620). For those of you who did not sign-on the first time around, we are opening the letter back up to allow for additional signatories. We are hoping for AT LEAST 150 additional organizations to sign on, so please spread this request far and wide!

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingAs a reminder, H.R. 620 was introduced by Representative Ted Poe of Texas. It would create significant obstacles for people with disabilities to enforce their rights under Title III of the ADA to access public accommodations and would impede their ability to engage in daily activities and participate in mainstream society.

On July 26, 2017, millions of people with disabilities throughout this country celebrated the 27th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). Unfortunately, many in the business community decided to celebrate the anniversary by diminishing this historic civil rights legislation through a letter of support for the ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 620). Their letter supporting this extremely dangerous legislation, which was sent to Congress, was titled It’s Time to Restore the Integrity of the ADA (PDF). NCIL’s response to their letter was sent to Representatives Paul Ryan (Speaker of the House) and Nancy Pelosi (Minority Leader).

We are looking to add additional signatories to this letter, so we are opening it back up. We strongly encourage you to add your organization as a signatory! The deadline to sign on is Wednesday, November 1, 2017.

Please join us as we fight this dangerous bill.

Not Dead Yet Submits Public Comment on Proposal on Living Organ Donation By “Persons With Certain Fatal Diseases”

Source: Not Dead Yet

This is a complicated subject. It impacts people with disabilities in multiple ways, both as organ donors and recipients. But the tone and recommendations of the proposal by the Ethics Committee of the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network needed a response. Some excerpts follow.

The organ transplant program saves lives, including some of our organization’s grassroots advocates. Its goals are of unquestionable significance. In order to function effectively though, it needs to have strong public trust and support. The safety of potential donors should be of utmost concern. All lives of living donors must be equally valued. The OPTN must never pursue any policies that expose some donors to more risk than other donors.

We agree that there are some underlying health conditions that would not preclude a willing person from being a living donor. Decisions must be made on a case-by-case basis with the preservation of the person’s normal health as a paramount value. We are therefore disturbed and disappointed by the tone and tenor of the proposal as well as the recommendations that would create a two-tiered system of assessment, reporting and scrutiny.  [Read more…]

NCIL Submits Letter Opposing the ADA Education and Reform Act

On July 26, 2017, millions of people with disabilities throughout this country celebrated the 27th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). Unfortunately, many in the business community decided to celebrate the anniversary by diminishing this historic civil rights legislation through a letter of support for the ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 620). Their letter supporting this extremely dangerous legislation, which was sent to Congress, was titled It’s Time to Restore the Integrity of the ADA (PDF).

NCIL wrote a response to their letter, which was signed by 171 organizations and sent to Representatives Paul Ryan (Speaker of the House) and Nancy Pelosi (Minority Leader) on October 4, 2017.  [Read more…]

Add Your Organization as a Signatory to NCIL’s Letter Opposing the ADA Education and Reform Act

On July 26, 2017, millions of people with disabilities throughout this country celebrated the 27th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). Unfortunately, many in the business community decided to celebrate the anniversary by diminishing this historic civil rights legislation through a letter of support for the ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 620). Their letter supporting this extremely dangerous legislation, which was sent to Congress, was titled It’s Time to Restore the Integrity of the ADA (PDF).

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingNCIL has drafted a response to their letter, which will be sent to Representatives Paul Ryan (Speaker of the House) and Nancy Pelosi (Minority Leader). We encourage you to add your organization as a signatory. The deadline to sign on is Monday, October 2, 2017.

H.R. 620 was introduced by Representative Ted Poe of Texas in the 115th Congress. It would create significant obstacles for people with disabilities to enforce their rights under Title III of the ADA to access public accommodations and would impede their ability to engage in daily activities and participate in mainstream society.

Please join us as we fight this dangerous bill.

Less than One Week Until #NationalVoterRegistrationDay 

September 26, 2017 is National Voter Registration Day, a holiday established in 2012 to encourage people to register to vote and update their registration. This year, NCIL is a partner of National Voter Registration Day and will be promoting the day on social media. It’s not too late for your CIL or SILC to get involved!

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingThere are a few ways that you can participate in National Voter Registration Day 2017 next Tuesday:

  • It’s not too late, so sign your organization on as a partner!
  • Encourage your consumers to register to vote or update their registration, especially if they recently turned 18 years of age, have moved recently, changed their name, or have not voted in recent elections.
  • Engage on social media! Tweet using the hashtag #NationalVoterRegistrationDay, post on Facebook and encourage your followers to register to vote through an online registration page such as AAPD’s online voter registration tool.
  • Encourage voters with disabilities to engage in great non-partisan voting initiatives such as #CripTheVote on Twitter and AAPD’s Rev Up Campaign.
  • Let your consumers know if there are local elections in your municipality or state this year.

Please contact Sarah Blahovec, Disability Vote Organizer, at sarah@ncil.org if you have any questions.