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

Youth Issues & Education

Applications Now Being Accepted for the Advocates in Disability Award (ADA) Program

The ADA Program is seeking the next Disability Advocate Leader. Young leaders with a disability are encouraged to apply for up to $10,000 in funding!

The Advocates in Disability Award (ADA) program awards and encourages a young adult with a disability between the ages of 14 and 26 who is dedicated to positively affecting the lives of individuals with disabilities and their families. The program also supports an innovative project developed by the recipient to serve and empower individuals with disabilities.

The ADA is a joint program of The HSC Foundation and the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation. The selected recipient is awarded $3,000 in recognition of his or her disability advocacy and will receive up to an additional $7,000 in funding for a project to benefit the disability community. Applicants must be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States at the time of application submission and recipient selection.

To apply, please see the attached guidelines and application. You may also apply online at: www.hscfoundation.org/2016ADA.php.

Applications must be received by Wednesday, April 20, 2016 (by 5:00 p.m. Eastern).

Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame Is Accepting 2016 Nominations

Source: Partners for Youth with Disabilities

PYD is proud to be a founding organization of the National Disability Mentoring Coalition (NDMC). The mission of the NDMC is to increase the awareness, quality, and impact of mentoring for individuals with disabilities across the nation. Since its inception 18 months ago, the NDMC has grown to include 27 leading organizations around the U.S. We are pleased to be able to partner and collaborate with this committed group of organizations. We have also found the sharing of best practices to be beneficial for all involved.

One of the NDMC’s initial projects was the development of the The Susan M. Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame, which was created to honor those who are making a significant difference in the lives of youth and adults with disabilities through mentoring and to raise awareness about the importance of mentoring for individuals with disabilities. The Hall of Fame’s namesake, Susan M. Daniels, devoted her life to improving the lives of others with disabilities. As a person with a disability who achieved enormous professional and personal success, she had significant impact as a senior policy maker and as a mentor to hundreds of individuals.

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) last year, the NDMC named 25 outstanding leaders as the first inductees into the Susan M. Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame. These inductees were selected for their demonstrated commitment to mentoring and for the impact of their contributions on improving the lives of people with disabilities. You can see last year’s inductees here.

In honor of National Thank Your Mentor Day (January 21), the NDMC opened the 2016 Nominations for the Susan M. Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame. Nominations are being accepted in the categories of individual mentor and business/organization and are being accepted until May 1, 2016. To submit a nomination or learn more: www.disabilitymentors.org.

Open Position: 2016 Youth Transitions Fellowship (Washington, DC)

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 2016, and continues for 15 months. Under the supervision of NCIL’s Executive 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 Youth Caucus Statement on the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015

Having a disability is not a crime; however, it can often be treated as such. It is evident that police departments do not know how to interact with the disability community—especially those with psychiatric disabilities, intellectual disabilities, and the Deaf/Hard of Hearing community. When referring to people with disabilities, police officers commonly use rhetoric such as “aggressive,” “threatening,” “deteriorating mental state,” “combative,” “dangerous,” and “demonic.” These stereotypes have been the basis of overt police brutality, institutionalization, and courts declaring police murders of people with disabilities as justified homicides. The NCIL Youth Caucus is committed to fight against systems that criminalize people on the basis of disability.

In addition to this stigma, people with disabilities are denied appropriate accommodations that would allow them full participation in society. The Bazelon Center for Mental Health found that, people who lack access to essential services and basic supports and people with serious mental illness are more susceptible to arrest, often for minor infractions associated with unemployment, homelessness or their untreated disabilities. The Bazelon Center for Mental Health (2011) went on to say that, “for a variety of reasons (notably that the living arrangements to which state hospitals discharged people tended to be located where crime and drug use were rampant), substance abuse problems became commonplace, adding yet another risk factor for arrest.” The NCIL Youth Caucus supports The Sentencing Reform Act because it would have a direct impact on marginalized populations that are imprisoned on drug charges that are related to systemic issues such as homelessness or lack of community based programs.  [Read more…]

The VSA International Art Program for Children with Disabilities Announces 2016 Call for Art

Yo Soy… Je Suis… I Am… The World invites children with disabilities to create artwork inspired by the world around us.

Deadline to Submit: June 8, 2016

Who may submit: Children with a disability, ages 3 to 18. The artwork may be submitted by the child’s parents, guardians, or educators.

Artwork Specifications: Two-dimensional works preferred, images of three-dimensional works accepted, no larger than 18 x 24 inches

The Kennedy Center’s Office of VSA and Accessibility proudly presents a unique opportunity for student artists with disabilities from around the world to display their artwork in an online exhibition. A selection of artwork from the online entries will be chosen for a live exhibition at the United States Department of Education in Washington, DC!  [Read more…]

AccessComputing Funded Research Experiences for Undergraduates

AccessComputing, a National Science Foundation funded project, aims to increase the participation of people with disabilities in computing careers. AccessComputing has funding for undergraduate students with disabilities to participate in summer research internships.

Undergraduate students with disabilities who are interested in summer research internships are encouraged to fill out the form.

Through applying for an internship, students will have the opportunity become AccessComputing student team members. Student team members engage in online mentoring and are eligible to request funding for internships, travel to conferences, and tutoring.

Learn more about AccessComputing.

For more information or help with the application, contact Brianna Blaser at blaser@uw.edu.

Youth Resources

“Combining the dreams of young people with the experience of seasoned advocates…”

The National Council on Independent Living is creating resources for Youth Transition Coordinators at Centers for Independent Living. These resources will discuss a wide array of topics such as: youth outreach, independent living activities, and fundraising. Combining the dreams of young people with the experience of seasoned advocates will only expand the capacity of the Independent Living Movement. NCIL is dedicated to an intergenerational Independent Living Movement. When we work together we will become successful.

These resources are designed to be helpful for Centers for Independent Living. If you are a Youth Transition Coordinator (YTC) or work with youth at a CIL, NCIL would love to hear from you. Please reach out to the Youth Transition Fellow, Keri Gray, to discuss these resources and also ways to connect with YTCs across the country.

For more information and resources, visit www.ncil.org[Read more…]

NCIL Youth Caucus Statement in Solidarity with Students of Color

To the Black students and all students of color who are battling racism at Mizzou, across the country, and around the world: we, disabled activists of the National Council on Independent Living Youth Caucus, move with you in solidarity. We are in awe of your courage for confronting racism at your schools. Your vulnerability in speaking candidly about your experiences, your strength in organizing protests in huge numbers, and your effectiveness at holding the administrators at your schools accountable to not meeting your needs is powerful. You are powerful. We support you.

To the disability community: we must speak out about racism. We need to recognize that the liberation of disabled people is only possible if we are fighting for racial justice. This means as a community we must stand with Black people and all people of color.

Justice for disabled people is impossible without prioritizing the needs of disabled people of color. Disabled Black people and people of color specifically are being institutionalized—because of racial injustice as well as ableism. When the disability community works to free our people from institutions that needs to mean freeing all people from all institutions. Independence means keeping people out of nursing homes and psychiatric hospitals, and it also means keeping people out of prisons. Independence is freedom from police brutality. Independence is being safe and supported in college because independence means access to resources and access to spaces.

The fight for independent living is about all people living safely in their communities. Focusing only on disability does not support the people who make up our community because it prevents people from bringing their whole, multifaceted, selves into our movement. Ultimately, we exclude disabled people of color from disability communities if we do not prioritize their participation and leadership.

Thus, we affirm that the collective liberation of disabled people needs to center the liberation of disabled people of color.

The Youth Caucus is committed to working at the intersections of ableism and racism. We are making concrete changes in our work to address the ways we fail people of color.

We commit to:

  • Listening to people of color and supporting them in the ways that they ask for.
  • Deliberately creating spaces to address systemic, internalized, institutional and blatant racism.
  • Purposefully building relationships with and amplifying the voices of people of color.
  • Seeking out and addressing the concerns of disabled people of color when they speak of being marginalized inside of the Independent Living movement and specifically in our caucus.
  • Spreading information about racism and the activism of people of color to our network, and pushing for disability advocates to recognize that racism is a disability issue regardless of whether racial justice work is directly confronting ableism.
  • Holding ourselves, Centers for Independent Living, State Independent Living Councils, and all members of NCIL accountable to the ways that we perpetuate racism by actively educating ourselves and each other, and confronting our white peers about their racist actions.

We urge disability activists to fight for social justice by educating ourselves about racism, answering calls for solidarity, developing concrete action plans on how to do more anti-racist work, and seeking out the leadership of disabled people of color. We also urge NCIL membership, Centers for Independent Living, State Independent Living Councils, and the disability community as a whole to address our overwhelming whiteness and challenge racism and anti-Blackness inside of our communities.

Signed,

The National Council on Independent Living Youth Caucus

Action Alert: ESEA Reauthorization Bill Moving Fast – Contact Your Representative!

Source: TASH

On Wednesday, February 18, 2015, the House Education & the Workforce Committee approved the Student Success Act (H.R. 5) to reauthorize and amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA; formerly known as No Child Left Behind). The full House of Representatives is preparing to consider the bill on Wednesday and Thursday of this week.

While NCIL is pleased that the bill includes several provisions important to the disability community – such as annual assessments in grades 3-8 and once in high school, disaggregation of data by student categories, the 95% student participation rate for all students as well as for student subgroups in annual assessments, and the use of universal design for learning principles in assessment design – the bill does not go far enough and we must voice our significant concern that H.R. 5 does not fully support students with disabilities. In fact, it creates incentives for schools and districts to remove students with disabilities from being taught the general curriculum and being eligible to earn a regular high school diploma.

NCIL urges the House to work on bipartisan legislation that continues to provide meaningful access to rigorous standards for all students and fully includes students with disabilities in every local school. Any bill to reauthorize ESEA must include the following:

  1. Limit the use of Alternate Assessments based on Alternate Achievement Standards to 1% of all students assessed;
  2. Ensure that parents are involved in the decision that
  3. Ensure that students with disabilities, including students who take an alternate assessment participate in and have the opportunity to progress in the general curriculum and are kept on track to earn a regular high school diploma;
  4. Prohibit the elimination of maintenance of effort provisions.

Take Action:

Call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121, ask for the office of your Representative, and urge them to make sure any bill to reauthorize the ESEA must adhere to the four principles outlined above.

View TASH’s blog post for additional talking points.

Bullying of Students with Disabilities Addressed in Guidance to America’s Schools

Source: U.S. Department of Education

As part of National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month, the U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) today issued guidance to schools (PDF) reminding them that bullying is wrong and must not be tolerated—including against America’s 6.5 million students with disabilities.

The Department issued guidance in the form of a letter to educators detailing public schools’ responsibilities under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of Americans with Disabilities Act regarding the bullying of students with disabilities. If a student with a disability is being bullied, federal law requires schools to take immediate and appropriate action to investigate the issue and, as necessary, take steps to stop the bullying and prevent it from recurring.

“While there is broad consensus that bullying cannot be tolerated, the sad reality is that bullying persists in our schools today, especially for students with disabilities,” said Catherine E. Lhamon, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights. “Basic decency and respect demand that our schools ensure that all their students learn in a safe environment. I look forward to continuing our work with schools to address and reduce incidents of bullying so that no student is limited in his or her ability to participate in and benefit from all that our educational programs have to offer.”

Since 2009, OCR has received more than 2,000 complaints regarding the bullying of students with disabilities in the nation’s public elementary and secondary schools. Read more at the Department of Education’s website.