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

Independent Living & The Rehabilitation Act

What has Changed?

By Andy Reichart, Assistant Director, Prairie Independent Living Resource Center (PILR)

Last month I had the opportunity to attend the National Council on Independent Living Annual Conference in Washington D.C. As I was flying out I was thinking… I should write an article for one of our next newsletters!

In my mind I was thinking I could tell everyone about the wonderful experience I had gathering with my peers from across the country. I was finally meeting some of the people I have only talked to on the phone.

I would be able to share my personal account about how great it was for all of us to have this shared experience as we all marched to the Capitol and participated in a Disability Rights Rally right on the front lawn of the Capitol.

I could provide all the details about how individuals with disabilities from every region of the country were able to participate in the legislative process by meeting with their own elected officials and as a united front share our disability issues and concerns.

Yeah, it was all of that and so much more!

Well, the story doesn’t end there. On the flight home, I kept having the same thoughts running around in my head. Once I got back at work, I continued to be haunted by a panel discussion that took place during the conference opening session.

To make a long story short, every organization, large or small, has issues that from time to time require all of us to confront issues on an organizational level. With that said, the topic of this panel discussion was about issues as they relate to race, its impact organizationally, its impact on participation and ultimately its effect on membership.

The panel discussion was organized and very well done. Personally, what I can tell you is that the mood of the room was tense and you could feel the emotion of those who spoke. I was surprised by my physiological response; my heart rate increased and I was very uncomfortable. I never really considered myself racist. Yet everything in my world has always been white. The family I was born into, the town I grew up in, the church I went to, the schools I attended, even my friends were white growing up. It wasn’t until college that I was able to meet and work with individuals of color.

As I listened to the panel speak and interact with the audience, I remember thinking, I haven’t done anything! Wait a minute…I haven’t done anything! I really don’t know anything about the subject of race. One of the panel members challenged the audience to read a book called: White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo and Michael Eric Dyson.

It was this challenge that I had been struggling with since my return to Kansas. As a white man who will be 55 years of age this year, I found it hard to believe that I was not aware. It has been very disorienting for me to get this far in life and know so little on the subject of race. I thought I was just going to a conference. I would go, come home, go back to work and carry on as usual. Of course, I will always have the stories I shared at the beginning of the article, but something happened at the panel discussion that changed me.

What has Changed? Well, I bought the book and I have finished reading it. I am still processing the definitions and impact of white fragility. I’m trying to wrap my mind around the concepts and create a new framework from which to navigate my own thoughts and bias. I don’t know how much I can change; all I know is that I want to try.

I too would like to personally extend this book reading challenge to our entire PILR staff, our consumers and our community partners. I think our humanity depends on our willingness to understand our roles individually, societally and as a member of the human race. Intellectually, we are charged; as is justice, to not only seek but to find the truth. It is critical to recognize truth when it is evident in order to repair the institutional and psychological barriers that prevent us from achieving the ultimate goal of racial peace. I have always judged our humanity on two factors; are we still killing each other and are there people on our planet who are still starving? Without engaging in constructive and positive racial conversations we continue to participate in the status quo. As a result, if we are not willing to talk to each other about race nothing will ever change.

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ACL Seeks Input on Proposed SPIL Instrument and Instructions Revisions

On Monday, August 12, the Administration for Community Living (ACL) published proposed revisions to the State Plan for Independent Living (SPIL) Instrument and Instructions in the Federal Register. These changes have been long anticipated and are the result of changes to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 contained in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) of 2014. They are the result of the work of a committee formed at the request of the Independent Living Administration (ILA) by Independent Living Research Utilization (ILRU) that included representatives of Statewide Independent Living Councils (SILCs), Centers for Independent Living (CILs), Designated State Entities (DSEs), and the ILA.

Comments must be submitted electronically by 11:59 p.m. EST or postmarked by October 11, 2019. Comments can be submitted electronically to Peter Nye at peter.nye@acl.hhs.gov or mailed to Administration for Community Living, Washington, DC 20201, Attention: Peter Nye. For further information, you can contact Peter Nye at (202) 795-7606 or peter.nye@acl.hhs.gov.

NCIL’s Rehabilitation Act & IL Funding Subcommittee will be reviewing the new Instrument and Instructions and developing comments on behalf of NCIL. Once these comments have been developed, we will send them to the NCIL membership to use as you draft your own comments. It is important that ACL hear from members of the Independent Living community before the comment period is over, so stay tuned for more information.

SILC-NET Presents… A National Teleconference & Webinar: Planning for Success – Effective Resource Development at Statewide Independent Living Councils (SILCs)

September 17, 2019; 3:00 – 4:30 p.m. Eastern

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

Is your SILC interested in fundraising, but not sure where to begin? This webinar is perfect for SILCs that would like to begin fundraising, but want more information on the rules and best practices of SILC resource development.

Our presenters are both SILC Executive Directors that have successfully increased revenue for their SILCs while ensuring that their activities are compliant and tied directly to the State Plan for Independent Living. They will cover the relevant regulations for SILCs to follow, real-world examples of funding sources for SILCs, and how to plan for future growth.

You won’t want to miss this exciting webinar!

Registration Fee: $75.00. Fee is per site and does not apply per participant; registrants are encouraged to gather as many individuals as desired to participate.

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Information for Members About NCIL Advocacy and Lobbying Activities

Like other 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations, NCIL is allowed to and does engage in lobbying within the applicable restrictions set by law. We understand that since many of our member organizations receive federal funding, there have been concerns about whether payment of NCIL membership dues may create issues regarding restrictions on members’ use of federal funds for lobbying. We wanted to take a moment to put those fears to rest.

NCIL does NOT use money received through membership dues for lobbying; any funds that NCIL expends on lobbying is paid from other, unrestricted funds. The money we receive through membership dues helps fund the many educational, developmental, and critical non-lobbying advocacy efforts and projects NCIL staff work on day in and day out. We have good basis to believe that the law permits members to pay dues to NCIL in consideration for NCIL’s non-lobbying work such that paying those dues to NCIL does not count as federal funds being used for lobbying.

To learn more about NCIL membership, visit our membership page at ncil.org/ncil-membership.

CIL-NET Presents… A National Teleconference & Webinar: IL Partnership with Disability Advisory Councils, Boards, and Commissions

September 10, 2019; 3:00 – 4:30 p.m. Eastern

Presented by: Todd Holloway & Luke Byram

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

The Independent Living (IL) Movement is full of disability subject matter experts who make fantastic advisory council and commission members. Does your city or county have a disability or accessibility body to provide subject matter advice or direction? This webinar will cover positive outcomes and best practices as the result of being involved with your community at the advisory level.

[Read more…]

Information Alert: ACL’s New FAQ Document for CILs

As many of you have seen by now, ACL has released a document entitled FAQ: Allowable Advocacy Activities (Word). The document is intended to describe how CILs can meet federal requirements under the Rehabilitation Act to conduct advocacy without violating federal laws against lobbying with federal funds. We are currently in the process of reviewing this document, but we have major concerns.

Systems advocacy is a core service of Centers for Independent Living, which means CILs are federally mandated to conduct advocacy activities. While understanding what types of advocacy are allowable with federal funds is important, this document demonstrates a clear overreach on the part of ACL. That said, we will not be intimidated, and we will strongly defend the right – and responsibility – of CILs to advocate.

We are currently reviewing this document and considering our response, and we will send out additional information once it is ready. In the meantime, we want to hear from you. We would welcome your thoughts on this document, including any concerns or relevant experiences you would like to share. We also invite you to send any questions you have, and we will respond to those directly or pass them along to ACL with our feedback. Please send your input and questions to Kelly at kelly@ncil.org.

Please note: If you are coming to NCIL’s Annual Conference, this document, and concerns and responsibilities regarding advocacy and lobbying will be discussed before the Annual March & Rally and Hill Visits.

CIL-NET Presents… A National On-Location Training: Disability, Diversity, and Intersectionality in CILs

CILs are always striving to reach unserved and underserved populations and to better represent the vibrant, racial, ethnic, linguistic, and multi-cultural communities that we serve. If you would like effective, practical information on how to accomplish this at your CIL, then you simply cannot afford to miss this training. Sign-up today!

At our core, Centers for Independent Living are community-based, civil rights organizations. Sure, we focus on the core services of Independent Living, but disability rights are civil rights, and the Independent Living Movement shares similarities and a siblinghood with other civil rights movements. We have a strong enough foundation in human rights to expand our celebration and inclusion of people with disabilities from other marginalized communities and identities in our organizations.

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SILC-NET Presents… A National Teleconference & Webinar: Statewide Independent Living Councils (SILCs) & Designated State Entities (DSEs) – Addressing Roadblocks and Authority Issues

August 29, 2019; 3:00–4:30 p.m. Eastern

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

Presented by:

  • Marijane Waldron, Director, WV Division of Rehabilitation Services
  • Michelle James, Chief Financial Officer, WV Division of Rehabilitation Services
  • Ann McDaniel, Executive Director, WV Statewide Independent Living Council

The Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC) and the Designated State Entity (DSE) must work together. Don’t take our word for it – it’s the law! Whether you believe there is room for improvement or you feel as though you are at a total impasse, this webinar is designed to clarify what the law says about the roles and responsibilities of the SILCs and DSEs, along with practical examples of how you can each improve your relationship.

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CIL-NET Presents… A National Teleconference & Webinar: Get to the Core of It – Peer Support

Get to the Core of It – Peer Support
Best Practices in the CIL Core Services
August 13, 2019; 3:00–4:30 p.m. Eastern
Presented by: Matt Cain & Sarah Jo Jorgenson
Register online or by using the printable registration form (PDF)

Peer support is a hallmark of the Independent Living Movement and a core service – both in statute and philosophy – of Centers for Independent Living. We all know what peer support is, but running an effective peer support program with limited funding and staff has to be tailored to each CIL’s capacity and need. If you and your staff would like to learn more about implementing a proven model for peer support, then you won’t want to miss this training.

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Information Alert: ILA Reorganization Update

On Wednesday we sent out an information alert about upcoming reorganization at the Independent Living Administration. This alert was sent before the announcement was finalized in the Federal Register, because we wanted to get you the information we had as quickly as possible.

Read the notice in the Federal Register. The notice confirms the information we sent out on Wednesday. While the notice states that the reorganization will be effective upon date of signature, it was confirmed during a stakeholder call yesterday that the implementation date is the first week of August. It was also confirmed that there will be NO opportunity for public comment.

We are continuing to stay on top of this situation, and we will share all relevant information as we receive it.