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

Youth Issues & Education

Ability Center of Greater Toledo Launches Next Steps Summer Program

Source: 13abc Action News

Local students living with disabilities say Ability Center program is life-changing

The Ability Center of Greater Toledo has all kinds of programs to help people living with disabilities. One of them is called the Next Steps Summer Program. It’s designed to help prepare students for college and the workplace, and the program has had a big impact on the students who are part of it.

The students are living on campus at The University of Toledo as part of the program. They are also working at several organizations and companies around the community. The students say this has been a life-changing experience.

Mallory Tarr is the Marketing Coordinator at The Ability Center,”The goal is to prepare them for the next step after high school whether that be post-secondary training or going to college. Whatever it is they want to do, we want to give them the tools and the steps to get there.” Read the full story at 13abc Action News.

Deadline Extended: 2017 Youth Transitions Fellowship – Apply By May 29!

The HSC Foundation, in partnership with the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL), is now accepting applications for a paid fellowship position with the organizations’ disability youth transition and collaboration work. This fellowship is ideal for a person with a disability who has an interest in youth career transitions and employment solutions. The fellowship starts in June 2017, and continues for 12 months. Under the supervision of NCIL’s Operations Director, the Youth Transitions Fellow (YTF) will gain exposure to youth programs serving people with disabilities and will have the opportunity to facilitate collaboration among internship, fellowship, and apprenticeship programs based in the Greater Washington, DC area.

Preferred Skills and Qualifications:

  • Ability to facilitate collaboration among large groups
  • Ability to work with people in all levels of an organization, including young people with a variety of disabilities
  • Strong communication skills and strong organizational skills
  • Creative and innovative personality
  • Familiarity with technology and social networking tools
  • Strong interest in youth transition for people with disabilities and organizing.

Eligibility:

College graduate 26-or-younger who self-identifies as an individual with any type of disability is invited to apply. You will not be required to disclose your specific disability; however, your application for this program will signify that you consider yourself a person with a disability. Please Note: This fellowship is specifically for people with disabilities.  [Read more…]

NCIL Applauds the U.S. Supreme Court’s Decision Strengthening Standards for Students with Disabilities

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously decided in favor of a student with a disability in Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District. Last week’s decision sets a more rigorous standard for special education services, stating that the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) demands educational programs to be “reasonably calculated to enable a child to make progress appropriate in light of the child’s circumstances.”

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingIDEA requires that disabled students be provided a free and appropriate public education (FAPE). Reinforced by the 1982 U.S. Supreme Court Rowley decision, the requirement for students with disabilities has been that schools provide for educational benefit “merely more than de minimis,” or just above insignificant. This low threshold for FAPE has resulted in weak standards for students with disabilities for decades, including Individualized Education Program (IEP) accommodation denials.

This decision sets a standard that is “more demanding than ‘merely more than de minimis,'” stating that while each student’s goals may differ, “every child should have the chance to meet challenging objectives.” Maureen Hollowell, NCIL’s Education Subcommittee Chair, said, “for years students with disabilities have been held back from making academic progress because of a very low standard established by schools and the courts. Today the U.S. Supreme Court gave a new generation of children opportunities, IF we empower students and families to use this new standard.”

YO! Disabled and Proud Blog Seeks 2017 Submissions!

Are you interested in writing for YO! Blog?

YO! Disabled and Proud is looking for contributors to share their experiences on several topics viewed through the lens of disability for our blog such as: Leadership & Empowerment, Anti-Bullying, Disability History and Education, Healthcare and Fighting the Medical Model, and Intersectional Issues.

The only requirements are that writers identify as a person with a disability and are between the ages of 16 and 28.

Check out the topics they’re seeking submissions for, as well as the Guidelines for YO! Blog Guest Writers at yodisabledproud.org/blog/blog-post-topics.

Support NCIL Youth!

The theme for NCIL’s 2017 Annual Conference is Revolution: A Global Independent Living Movement.

Due to a variety of barriers, most especially cost, youth with disabilities have been unable to fully participate in the national disability community. In order for the Independent Living Movement to be more inclusive of young people, we need the support of Centers for Independent Living and Statewide Independent Living Councils. We are asking you to talk to your CIL or SILC to pledge to support youth in one of the three ways:

  • Pledge to financially sponsor 2 young people in your local area to attend the NCIL Conference.
  • Pledge to financially sponsor 2 young professionals on your staff to attend the NCIL Conference.
  • Contribute towards the Youth Scholarship Fund that will bring young people from across the country to the NCIL Conference. Your donation will support plane tickets, hotel accommodations, personal assistance services, and registration costs for attendees.

Revolution - A Global Independent Living Movement - Annual Conference on Independent Living 2017. Graphic: Continents have been added to NCIL's logo (a blue semi-circle), which forms a globe. A red heart sits between the end points of the semi-circle.With your help, we can bring youth with disabilities to the 2017 NCIL Conference and ensure that youth leadership will grow and flourish in the Disability Rights Movement. Together we can ensure that young people with disabilities are empowered, engaged, and ready to lead.

Tell Your Senators to Preserve Critical Protections for Students with Disabilities!

The U.S. House of Representatives has voted to overturn the Department of Education’s regulation implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) core requirement that schools be held accountable for the performance of historically marginalized students, including students with disabilities. Congress has never before voted to overturn an education regulation. The Department issued this regulation after the public, including both educators and students and their families, filed over 21,000 comments. The Senate will vote soon on whether to follow the House and overturn the regulation. We ask you to call your Senators today to vote “no” to protect students with disabilities.

What You Need to Know:

The ESSA provides states with flexibility in how they identify schools where students are struggling, how they will hold those schools accountable, and how the states will support those schools. But the ESSA also provides strong “guardrails,” to ensure that schools actually help students, including students with disabilities, learn and achieve proficiency. The ESSA also requires states to issue a “report card” for every public school in the state, so that parents can make informed decisions about where their children will attend school.

Last year the Department of Education issued a regulation strengthening the ESSA, clarifying what the law requires, and specifying timelines for states to develop an accountability plan, including report cards, for schools. Taking into consideration over 21,000 comments from the public, including parents, students, educators, advocates, and others, the Department was using those notes to shape what the regulation should say. The final regulation gives content to the ESSA’s core requirement that states must ensure that schools take steps to help struggling students, including students with disabilities.

Despite this robust process, on February 7 the House of Representatives overturned the Department’s ESSA accountability regulation. The Senate may vote soon to join the House and overturn the regulation. If the Senate votes “yes” on this bill (H.J. Res. 57), President Trump has said he will sign it, and the Department won’t be able to enforce the ESSA regulation and core protections for students with disabilities will be lost. New Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has already told states they don’t have to follow the regulation, pending the Senate vote.  [Read more…]

Youth Transition: The Growing Role of Centers for Independent Living

CIL-NET Presents… A National Onsite Training

April 18-20, 2017; Denver, Colorado

Register online or by using the printable registration form (PDF)

Registration Fee: $150.00

Registration Deadline: March 20, 2017

IL-NET Logo - CIL-NET + SILC-NETCIL-NET is organizing this outstanding training opportunity to make sure that you and your co-workers are equipped to help young individuals. Topics during the conference will include what the law and final regulations say, what falls under the new core service, how to engage youth and parents, strategies for working with VR, local agencies, schools, state agencies, and identifying your CIL’s strengths and expanding them to include youth!

Please join us in Denver this spring to learn from leading experts in Independent Living and Youth Transition.

You will learn:

  • What the law and final regulations say.
  • What falls under the new core service and what doesn’t?
  • Strategies for tracking this service for reporting purposes.
  • Steps for identifying a CIL’s strengths, resources, and existing services that can be expanded to include youth.
  • Tools and strategies for implementation.
  • Potential new partners, service possibilities, and funding sources.
  • Using core services as spring board to expansion.
  • Strategies for working with VR, local agencies, schools, state agencies.
  • Key collaborations. How do you get to the right tables?
  • Youth are a target population, not a service.
  • What are the elements of a CIL culture that will attract and engage youth?
  • How to approach young adults. How to be an adult ally.
  • How to engage parents.
  • Issues of intersectionality.

[Read more…]

Action Alert: Call Your Senators to Oppose Betsy DeVos – Only One More NO Vote Needed!

On Tuesday of this week, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) voted to move Betsy DeVos’ nomination for Secretary of the Department of Education forward. Early this morning, the full Senate voted to advance her to a final confirmation vote, which is expected Monday but could be as early as this weekend.

Two Republican Senators – Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) – have indicated that they will vote NO. Because there are 52 Republicans, and because Vice President Pence would serve as the tie-breaker, we need ONE more Senator to oppose DeVos to ensure she will not be confirmed. DeVos is a terrible choice to lead the department responsible for the education of children with (and without) disabilities. In a previous alert, we outlined some of our major concerns.

We need you to contact your Senators and ask them to vote NO on DeVos! ONE more Senator’s opposition will prevent this scary and unqualified nominee from leading the Department of Education. We must keep up the pressure! Tell your Senators how dangerous DeVos will be for students with disabilities all over the country by calling the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121. Just ask to be connected to your Senator’s office, and if it’s busy, keep calling back! Also, please reach out to your Senators online, via their website, Facebook, or Twitter. Use the hashtags #DumpDeVos or #DeVosFacts.

Note: The following Senators have been identified as individuals who may be willing to take a stand against DeVos. While several of them have indicated a commitment to supporting her, if one of your Senators is listed below, please make sure to reach out to them! Nevertheless, keeping the pressure on ALL Republican Senators is necessary at this time, so please take action, even if your Senator isn’t on the list!

  • Dean Heller (R–NV)
  • Pat Toomey (R-PA)
  • Jeff Flake (R-AZ)
  • John McCain (R-AZ)
  • Rob Portman (R-OH)
  • Dan Sullivan (R-AK)
  • Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV)
  • Deb Fischer (R-NE)
  • John Hoeven (R-ND)
  • Herry Moran (R-KS)
  • Cory Gardner (R-CO)

Support the 2017 NCIL Youth Scholarship Fund

Dear Friend,

My name is Kings Floyd, and I am the Youth Transitions Fellow at The National Council on Independent Living (NCIL). NCIL’s Annual Conference on Independent Living is our nation’s largest gathering of disability rights advocates, and is a crucial opportunity for people with disabilities to connect, meet with our legislators, and propel the movement forward. Last year, nearly 1,000 participants attended our conference, including over 100 youth from across the country.

Revolution - A Global Independent Living Movement - Annual Conference on Independent Living 2017. Graphic: Continents have been added to NCIL's logo (a blue semi-circle), which forms a globe. A red heart sits between the end points of the semi-circle.The theme for the 2017 NCIL conference is Revolution: A Global Independent Living Movement, taking place July 24 – 27, 2017. We’re excited to turn our focus outwards and connect with young advocates from all over the world.  Due to a variety of barriers, most especially cost, youth with disabilities have been unable to fully participate in the international disability community. We are asking for contributions towards the Youth Scholarship Fund that will bring young people from across the country, and hopefully, around the world, to the NCIL conference. Your donation will support plane tickets, hotel accommodations, personal assistance services, and registration costs for attendees. Here are some of the reactions from youth scholars last year:

“…Honestly I just loved the energy of it all. So many people fired up and organizing great things…I’m so excited to work for NCIL and just throw myself into the conference this year!”

“NCIL conferences are always so empowering, and I come away with a renewed sense of readiness to advocate for disability rights, knowing I have a strong community of support.”

“I was excited I was happy to be amongst fellow advocates and we all had a vision to increase inclusion & diversity amongst youth…and a renew sense of empowerment to engage. I loved it!”

“…When you go to NCIL you realize the rights and opportunities that you think have just always been there only exist because of the hard work of the disability rights movement. The surge of pure elation you get when you realize all the times society told you people with disabilities were powerless is absolutely untrue.”

“I attended the 2016 conference about 2 weeks into my job as youth transition coordinator. Being asked to develop the program from scratch, I was a little nervous to say the least. But thanks to all the awesome people and information I gained at the NCIL Conference; I was able to get our program off to a booming start. I look forward to returning this year to share what I’ve learned and to gain more knowledge to strengthen our program even more.”

With your help, we can bring youth with disabilities to the 2017 NCIL Conference and ensure that youth leadership will grow and flourish in the Disability Rights Movement, as well as expand globally to promote the rights of people with disabilities. Together we can ensure that young people with disabilities are empowered, engaged, and ready to lead. You can make a donation online. Thank you so much for your support!

Kings Floyd, Youth Transitions Fellow

Action Alert: Tell Your Senators to Vote NO on Betsy DeVos!

Recently, President Trump nominated Elizabeth “Betsy” DeVos to be Secretary of Education. The Department of Education is responsible for ensuring that all children, including children with disabilities, receive a quality education, free from discrimination. Countless educators have expressed strongly that she is not qualified to ensure an equal education for students with disabilities, and Ms. DeVos’ record and testimony at her Senate confirmation hearing disqualify her from leading the Department fairly and rationally. We ask you to call Senators today to tell them to vote “no” on her nomination for Secretary of Education. The hearing of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions will now be held at 10:00 a.m. January 31, according to an advisory from the committee, so please call before then!

What You Need to Know

  • Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA): The IDEA law requires schools to provide students with disabilities a free appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment. Since 1975, IDEA has made it possible for millions of students with disabilities to attend public schools and receive the supports they need for success. During her confirmation hearing, Ms. DeVos disagreed that all schools that receive special education funding should be subject to the requirements of IDEA. In addition, she suggested that federal IDEA funding should be turned into a voucher program. Students and families who receive vouchers for private schools are often forced to waive their IDEA rights, including the right to FAPE. And vouchers rarely cover the full cost of private school tuition and transportation, making them a false choice for low income families with children with disabilities. For many students with disabilities, access to a public education appropriate for their learning levels will be in jeopardy.
  • Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA): In a bipartisan effort in 2015, Congress enacted ESSA, which requires each state to develop a system that holds schools accountable for the academic progress of historically underserved students, including students with disabilities, and to implement schoolwide interventions when students with disabilities underperform year after year. In her hearing testimony, Ms. DeVos would not commit to continuing the Department’s implementation of the ESSA accountability regulations. Nor would she commit to holding all schools that receive federal funding equally accountable for the academic progress of all students, including students with disabilities. This means that students who should be receiving those services would not be tracked and could easily be left behind, jeopardizing their future independence. She also would not commit to requiring all schools that receive federal funding to report incidents of discipline, bullying, and harassment. Students with disabilities, especially students of color with disabilities, are often subject to bullying, inappropriate use of seclusion and restraint, and discriminatory school discipline like suspensions, expulsions, and law enforcement referrals. This is a danger not only to those students who are being bullied, but it does little to teach others how to respect people with disabilities later in life. We must hold all schools accountable for the education of children with disabilities.
  • Civil Rights Enforcement: The Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is responsible for enforcing disability rights laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. These laws protect students from disability discrimination and require schools to provide the accommodations and services students with disabilities need to be successful. In her hearing, Ms. DeVos refused to disavow efforts to downsize or rein in OCR. We need more support for disability rights enforcement by the Department of Education, not less. If she will not commit to enforcing our disability rights laws, Ms. DeVos should not be confirmed as Secretary of Education.

What You Can Do

Call Your Senators! The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee will vote on Ms. DeVos’ nomination on Tuesday, January 31. Please call Senators on the Committee to tell them to vote “no” on the DeVos nomination. Call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask to be connected to your Senator’s office. The Switchboard line may be busy – you can call back as many times as needed. It’s especially important to call if he or she is one of the Senate HELP Committee members listed below.  [Read more…]