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

Housing & Transportation

CIL-NET Presents: A National Learning Collaborative on Housing at Centers for Independent Living

This Learning Collaborative is part of Our Homes, IL-NET’s series of trainings and resources on accessible, affordable, integrated housing for Centers for Independent Living (CILs) and Statewide Independent Living Councils (SILCs). The lack of accessible, affordable, integrated housing remains the biggest obstacle as CILs implement the new core services of transition and diversion. Expanding housing is a key component of the provision of CIL core services and successful outcomes for consumers.

Are you ready to amplify your housing efforts, but feel like you need some assistance to get there?

CIL-NET is offering a new National Learning Collaborative on Housing to support CILs that are ready to roll up their sleeves and build solutions to one of the most persistent barriers to independence for people with disabilities.

IL-NET Logo - CIL-NET + SILC-NETGoal of the Collaborative: To expand accessible, affordable, integrated housing options through the creation of innovative, replicable housing action plans at CILs across the country based on community needs and agency capacity.

What is a Learning Collaborative?

The National Learning Collaborative on Housing at Centers for Independent Living is much more than training. From March to October of 2019, our facilitators will work with a dedicated group of CILs to support one another as they plan programs, activities, and other innovations to expand affordable, accessible, integrated housing in their states and communities. Participation in the Learning Collaborative takes a very real commitment of time and resources. Participants in the collaborative will learn alongside and support one another. A successful collaborative requires commitment, teamwork, and follow-through. Therefore, we are asking interested individuals to apply to participate. A maximum of 12 CILs will be selected for participation with a maximum of two individuals per CIL.  [Read more…]

An Update from the Transportation Subcommittee: Disability Provisions Included in FAA Reauthorization!

On October 5, 2018, the President signed the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act of 2018 – H.R. 302 (PDF) into law. This bill reauthorizes the FAA and other programs through 2023, and we are thrilled to report that the final bill includes several important disability provisions NCIL and other disability rights groups have been advocating for. The inclusion of these provisions is a huge win!

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingOne exciting provision in the new law is the establishment of an Advisory Committee on the air travel needs of passengers with disabilities. The Advisory Committee will be established to assess and address barriers in the air travel experience. This Committee will be comprised of people with disabilities, national disability organizations, aviation industry employees, wheelchair manufacturers, and national veteran’s organizations representing disabled veterans, and we are excited for this work to get started.

Additionally, the Secretary of Transportation, in consultation with stakeholders (including disability organizations), is required to design an “Airline Passengers with Disabilities Bill of Rights” that describes the basic protections and responsibilities of covered air carriers, their employees and contractors, and people with disabilities using plain language. This Bill of Rights must minimally address the right of passengers with disabilities to be treated with respect, receive timely assistance, travel with assistive devices, receive accommodations, and file complaints.  [Read more…]

Lyft and Uber Service Dog Denials

By Melissa Carney

At the beginning of the year, a woman from Texas with cerebral palsy filed a lawsuit against Uber after she was denied service on 25 separate occasions during 2016 and 2017. She was left stranded without rides home from the grocery store, and was late to an important family gathering. An Uber driver in Boston told a blind woman that she was not allowed to enter his car, and her legally blind boyfriend was dragged down the street after the Uber driver rolled up the window with his arm inside as he tried to open the car door. A blind man from Tennessee was denied a ride home from an animal hospital. All of these incidents have occurred at different times, on different dates, and in different places, but one common theme prevails: all of these passengers were denied rides because of their service dogs.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingAccording to Uber’s policy, “A driver-partner CANNOT lawfully deny service to riders with service animals because of allergies, religious objections, or a generalized fear of animals.” All drivers are made aware of this policy and are obligated to comply with the law upon signing their terms of agreement. If an Uber driver refuses to transport a rider because of their service animal, they violate the law and breach their agreement with Uber. If Uber determines that the driver knowingly refused to transport a rider and their service animal after thoroughly investigating the case, the driver is permanently removed from the platform. Lyft’s policy is very similar to Uber’s, but drivers have one chance to be educated before they are removed from the platform. Despite these strict policies and multiple lawsuits, such as the National Federation of the Blind’s settlement with Uber in 2016, drivers continue to take it upon themselves to make uninformed and discriminatory decisions as to who should be allowed in their cars.  [Read more…]

Enforcement Notice – Airline Reporting of Data on Mishandled Baggage, Wheelchairs, and Scooters

The Department of Transportation has posted an Enforcement Notice titled Airline Reporting of Data on Mishandled Baggage, Wheelchairs, and Scooters on the DOT website. That notice addresses the obligations of large U.S. airlines to report to the Department mishandled baggage, wheelchairs, and scooters data following the enactment of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018.

Urgent: Action Needed to Stop Damage to Fair Housing – Deadline: Midnight, Monday, October 15

Access to housing is one of the top disability issues across the country. Did you know that more than half of housing discrimination complaints filed with the federal government are because of disability discrimination?

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingToday, we need your help to defend disability rights and access to housing. “Fair housing” is the term used for enforcement of equal access to housing, without discrimination. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is currently waging an attack on fair housing by opening up its own rule on Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) to revisions that could damage the disability housing rights we have won so far, and your voice is needed.

We need to flood HUD with comments supporting the 2015 rule on Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) that exposes and addresses our nation’s history of government-led segregation and inequitable community investment, and requires jurisdictions to create policies and programs to address it. The 2015 rule also requires real community engagement by HUD, and that must also happen.

For those of you who represent an organization, we ask you to take 3 easy but important steps today:

  1. Use our template letter (Word document), modify with your own thoughts and comments, and submit to HUD via regulations.gov by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Monday October 15th. Be sure to edit the [bolded] portions with your organization’s information before submitting.
  2. Encourage others within your network to do the same.

For those of you representing yourself as an individual, you can also use the same link to submit comments. We urge you to focus on explaining why it is important to end discrimination in housing.

Comments are due by midnight on Monday, October 15.

Thank you to our friends at Access Living for providing this information.

Use NLIHC Report as Tool for Advocacy!

The National Low Income Housing Coalition has released a report, Getting Started: First Homes Being Built with 2016 National Housing Trust Fund Awards (PDF). As many of you know, the National Housing Trust Fund was first created in 2008, but not funded until 2016. It is a program that provides “new money” to affordable housing, and unique because it focuses most of the money on Extremely Low Income households, those at or below 30% of Area Median Income, and those who rent. $174 million was allocated to states and territories in 2016, and the fruits of that allocation are finally showing in many states. Despite the funding being released in 2016, many states are lagging because they were not ready to move.

equal housing opportunity symbolThis report is an opportunity for advocates to see what is happening elsewhere, to compare how your state is doing. For example, 24 states specifically included people with disabilities as a beneficiary of the trust fund, with 5 states choosing to focus exclusively on housing people with disabilities. Some states chose to spread out the money with other funding sources such as Low Income Housing Tax Credits, while others chose to focus their money on fewer units for more deep subsidies.

Take this opportunity to look at where the housing trust fund money is being spent in your state – are you happy with their priorities? NLIHC is a great resource on this.  [Read more…]

CIL-NET & SILC-NET Present… A National Teleconference & Webinar: Expanding Housing Options in Your Community

This webinar is part of Our Homes: IL-NET’s series of trainings and resources on accessible, affordable, integrated housing for CILs & SILCs.

September 20, 2018; 3:00 – 4:30 p.m. Eastern

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

IL-NET Logo - CIL-NET + SILC-NETHousing is such a persistent barrier to independence for so many people with disabilities. It often seems that no matter what we do to “find” housing, it just is not enough. Join us this September as we explore how Centers for Independent Living (CILs) and Statewide Independent Living Councils (SILCs) can be involved in expanding housing options. We will share the policies that impact housing choice, identify funding sources for housing, and suggest collaboration strategies and partners that could lead to new housing opportunities in your community.

This is the first of a series of trainings and resources that IL-NET will be offering on accessible, affordable, integrated housing. Don’t miss this kick-off event!

Registration Fee: $75.00. Fee is per site (connection) and does not apply per participant; registrants are encouraged to gather as many individuals as desired to participate by telephone.  [Read more…]

TNCs are Great, Unless You’re in a Wheelchair

Scott M. Crawford, Ph.D., Accessible Transportation Advocate

While watching the evening news, I couldn’t help but notice a highly polished advertisement from UBER’s CEO Dara Khosrowshahi called “Moving Forward”. In the sixty-second piece, Mr. Khosrowshahi says that his “…priority has been to listen to you, to cities and communities, and to my own employees.” He goes on to say that he’s focusing on changing the “culture” of the corporation and that “One of our core values as a company is to always do the right thing, and if there are times when we fall short, we commit to being open, taking responsibility for the problem, and fixing it.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingReally?

As a person living with multiple sclerosis in Jackson, Mississippi, and needing a power wheelchair for mobility, I can attest that UBER is not listening to me or my colleagues needing accessible vehicles. Historically, Transportation Network Companies (TNCs, or Ride-Hailing Services) pay lip-service to the notion by having an option like UBER WAV, but it is available in only a small number of cities and does not provide anything like the reliable service our able-bodied peers enjoy. It isn’t available at all here in Jackson.

Worse, in many states, TNCs have preempted local authority to enforce equal service. In 2016, the Mississippi Legislature passed just such a law with only the vague assurance that they must “…comply with all the applicable laws regarding nondiscrimination…”. There is nothing explicitly calling for wheelchair-accessible service that is at all equivalent to that provided to everyone else (§37.105).  [Read more…]

TSA Releases 2018 Summer Travel Tips

Source: Office of Civil Rights & Liberties, Ombudsman and Traveler Engagement, U.S. Department of Homeland Security

On behalf of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), I am writing to share some important tips to help you better prepare for security screening and to help TSA keep wait times to a minimum at our Nation’s airport screening checkpoints for the 2018 summer travel season.  Here are a few things you can do:

  • Arrive early to get through security screening—two hours early for domestic and three hours early for international flights. Check with your airline and airport to determine wait times during peak periods. The MyTSA App is also a great resource to help figure out when you should get to the airport.
  • Consider checking your bag: more people and more bags may lead to longer wait times.
  • For your carry-on bag – make sure it’s well organized. It takes time for TSA officers to make sure a cluttered or overstuffed bag is safe.
  • Examples of personal electronic items that would be scanned separately include laptops and electronics larger than a cell phone.  This includes tablets, e-readers, and cameras. Additionally, TSA may provide instructions to remove items from your bag such as foods, powders, and any materials that can clutter bags and obstruct X-ray images.
  • Know the 3-1-1 rule: TSA’s 3-1-1 is shorthand for the liquids rule. Basically, limit your liquids, gels, aerosols and pastes to no more than 3.4 ounces, or 100 milliliters, in 1 bag that’s no bigger than 1 quart. Medically-necessary liquids may exceed this limit, but must be declared prior to commencement of screening. All liquids, including liquids declared as medically-necessary, must be screened.
  • If you must travel with it, know how to safely pack your gun in checked baggage—and NEVER bring it to the TSA checkpoint: Transporting Firearms.
  • Get through the line faster with TSA Precheck, which lets you leave your shoes, belt, and light jacket on while you go through security. You can also leave your laptop and your liquids in your bag. It costs $85 for five years.
  • TSA Cares is a helpline for travelers who want to prepare for the screening process prior to flying. TSA Cares is toll free at 1-855-787-2227 or Federal Relay 711. Travelers may also request the assistance of a Passenger Support Specialist for security screening at TSA Cares.
  • The TSA Disability Notification Card can be used to discreetly notify TSA Officers at security screening of a disability or medical condition and request an accommodation.
  • For general inquiries and questions, visit TSA.gov  or contact us through the TSA Contact Center (TCC) at TSA-ContactCenter@tsa.dhs.gov, or by phone at 866-289-9673 or Federal Relay 711. For additional travel tips, read TSA’s 5 Essential Summer Travel Tips  and follow @AskTSA and @TSA on Twitter and Facebook.

[Read more…]

Share Your Experiences with Accessible Transportation!

The National Council on Independent Living is currently conducting research on our members’ experiences with transportation, and we are seeking information from individuals who have struggled to gain access to accessible transportation. We are looking for several compelling stories to help us mobilize around issues of vehicle accessibility and autonomous vehicles.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingWhile we will be advocating for a comprehensive approach to accessibility, right now we are looking specifically for stories related to the following:

  • Buying and modifying a vehicle for wheelchair access.
  • Arranging accessible ridesharing (Uber and Lyft).
  • Interface access and needs for blind and D/deaf individuals.
  • How wheelchair users manage public transportation (fixed route, paratransit and other modes). Specifically: What your thoughts are about the service? How does it affect your ability to get out in the community?

If you have experienced barriers with any of the above topics, please share your story.

The survey is also available in Word and plaint text and can be emailed back to lindsay@ncil.org. Please share your story and help with this important effort!