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

Civil Rights & the ADA

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.

NCIL Disability Vote Organizer Talks Disabilities and Campaigning with She Should Run

This week, NCIL’s Disability Vote Organizer, Sarah Blahovec, sat down with She Should Run to talk about the challenges to participating in and running political campaigns for people with disabilities. She Should Run is “a non-partisan 501(c)3 that provides an approachable starting place and network for women leaders considering a future run for office and for those who support them.” Much of this work is accomplished through She Should Run’s Incubator program, which provides resources and a community for women to develop their leadership skills as they consider running for office.   [Read more…]

NCIL Campaign Accessibility Guide Highlighted in Rewire.News Article

On June 25th, Rewire.News covered three notable candidates running in 2018 who are making efforts to include people with disabilities in their campaign’s platform: Cynthia Nixon, Sara Bitter, and state Senator Barbara I’Italien. Beyond covering these campaigns’ policy stances and how they include the disability community, the National Council on Independent Living got a shout-out for its initiative to encourage political campaigns to become more accessible to voters and volunteers with disabilities.

[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.

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.

Guns, Institutionalization, and Databases: An Update from the NCIL Mental Health Civil Rights Subcommittee

Currently, the White House, NRA, and others are floating two ill-conceived ideas that affect disabled persons: a return to more institutionalization and a database of persons who have received mental health treatment. These are both bad ideas that will reduce the rights of everyone.

It is widely known that persons who have a mental illness label are more likely to be a victim of violence than a perpetrator. Misidentifying mental health as a primary factor in gun violence is as discriminatory and ineffective as attempting to identify party affiliation as a primary factor. While the recent shooter did have a history of contact with the mental health profession, in this and other cases, other factors are stronger indicators. Domestic violence, membership in or sympathy toward hate groups, or ideas that promote some people as less than human are higher on list of indicators.

While it is possible that a personal intent on committing violence could be identified by the database, this type of approach would have negative consequences for all Americans. Specifically, it would severely discourage people from seeking help.  [Read more…]