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


PVA Releases Informational Document on the Air Carrier Access Amendments Act

Paralyzed Veterans of America has released a one-page informational document on the Air Carrier Access Amendments Act (S. 1318).

The document is available in PDF, Word, and html (below). Please contact PVA with any questions.

The Issue

Over 30 years ago, President Ronald Reagan signed the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) into law. The ACAA prohibits discrimination based on disability in air travel. Despite progress, too many travelers with disabilities still encounter significant barriers, such as damaged assistive devices, delayed assistance, and lack of seating accommodations. Access for people with disabilities in air travel must move into the 21st century. Otherwise, people with disabilities will be left behind unable to compete in today’s job market or enjoy the opportunities available to other Americans.  [Read more…]

Project Innovate

By Rudy Contreras, NCIL Veterans Subcommittee Member

Like all goals in life, it all started with a dream, an idea to think beyond the social norm and reach for the stars. Southern California Resource Services for Independent Living (SCRS) Executive Director Rudy Contreras envisioned a program unlike any other. The idea of bringing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) to youth with disabilities became a journey of collaboration and unity. With the partnership from the Columbia Memorial Space Center, SCRS launched the first ever STEM program designed specifically for youth with disabilities in February 2017. SCRS selected youth from six different high schools with various disabilities; all participating in a program to empower them to become future innovators.  [Read more…]

Survey to Help Improve Financial Services for Service Members, Veterans and their Families

Source: National Disability Institute (NDI)

Are you an active duty Service Member or Veteran? If so, make your voice heard by taking less than 10 minutes of your time to complete this voluntary, anonymous and confidential survey.

The National Disability Institute (NDI) has worked closely over the past several years with Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Department of Veterans Affairs to identify opportunities to improve the overall financial wellness of Veterans, Service Members and their families. NDI is seeking survey responses in order to better understand how to help members of our military and veteran communities connect to and benefit from trusted, reliable, no-cost local community-based tax and financial services.

Best Practices: U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs Requests Collaboration with SSVF Grantees and Community Partners

In October 2013, the Blue Water Center for Independent Living’s (BWCIL) Project Home was awarded a grant from the Veterans Administration (VA) to provide Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) in a seven county rural area. The program was designed to provide rapid rehousing for homeless Veteran families and homelessness prevention services to Veteran families facing eviction and utility disconnection.

In 2016, the VA required that SSVF grantees form collaborative groups in their service delivery areas to ensure enrolled Veterans received comprehensive case management services in housing, veteran service connected/non-service connected benefits, medical, mental health, substance use counseling, etc.  [Read more…]

Acronyms Breakdown from the NCIL Veterans Subcommittee

The NCIL Veterans Subcommittee has expended energy figuring out how to engage consumers who are Veterans or active duty military. During this process, we realized that we do not always understand the communication and acronyms used by the military. So, we conducted some research and came up with a few terms we think would be useful for CIL staff to have. We have also included brief descriptions of the meaning of those terms.

The Veteran Subcommittee meets monthly and is always looking for new members. If you are interested in joining, please contact Marsha Unruh at

Help All Disabled Vets Get Access to Space Available

You can support our disabled veterans injured in the line of duty before September 23, 1996 in their efforts to obtain access to the budget neutral Space Available program. The problem is that the Space Available program allows only veterans who were injured on or after September 23, 1996 to fill empty seats on military owned or operated flights for free on a standby basis. Chairman Mac Thornberry included Section 1046 into the National Defense Authorization Act this year to fix this oversight and allow all disabled veterans the opportunity to use this program. Please fill out this form to generate a thank you letter that urges Chairman Thornberry to continue fighting to help our disabled veterans who are currently being excluded because they were injured prior to an arbitrary date.

It only takes about two minutes! The form can be found at:

Financial Capability Survey for Veterans and their Families

National Disability Institute (NDI) has worked closely the past several years, partnering with IRS and Department of Veterans Affairs, to improve the overall financial wellness of Veterans, service members and their families. NDI developed a brief electronic survey to collect information to assist NDI and its partners in developing and improving access to free financial and tax education programs and services for Veterans, their families and organizations that serve Veterans. The survey is completely voluntary, names and personal information will in no way be used or collected. If you are a Veteran, please take less than 10 minutes of your time to complete this very important survey to help us improve services for Veterans. If you know a Veteran(s) encourage them to take the survey so we may reach as many Veterans and their families as possible. Let’s all show our appreciation for our Veterans, service members and their families by ensuring the voice of our Veteran community is heard by taking the Financial Capability Survey for Veterans and their families.

IRS employees who are Veterans are welcome to take the survey since the platform hosting the survey is not blocked by the IRS.

An Update from the NCIL Veterans Subcommittee: Participate in the CIL Survey by April 29!

The Veteran Subcommittee has been meeting and getting back up and running over the past few months. A few dedicated members are working to assess the needs of our membership as it connects to the veteran community. A couple of weeks ago, we sent out a survey to Center for Independent Living (CIL) Executive Directors asking about what CILs are currently working on as it connects to directors, what resources Centers need to move forward, and feedback on what the Veteran Subcommittee should be working on in the coming year. So far we have received 26 completed surveys. We want to thank those directors and CILs who have taken a little time to provide us this very valuable information. The survey will be open until Friday, April 29, 2016. If your CIL has not yet participated, please take the survey. We will be sharing results in a future issue.

As Memorial Day is approaching, we wanted to share with members the difference between Memorial and Veterans Day. For many this may seem obvious, but we have heard from veterans with disabilities how often the days seem to be confused. Memorial Day will be held Monday, May 30, 2016 and is a federal holiday remembering those who have died while in military service. Veterans Day is a federal holiday held on November 11 that honors the service of all US military veterans. It is an important distinction as members of the IL community look for ways to connect to the veteran community. It is also really important to try and find other ways besides federal holidays to really connect to the veteran community and build that into your planning for the entire year.  [Read more…]

CIL EDs: NCIL’s Veterans Subcommittee Needs Your Input!

Dear CIL Executive Directors,

The NCIL Veterans Subcommittee and our friends at APRIL are working on a strategy to engage Centers for Independent Living and help provide resources to CILs about legislation affecting Veterans with disabilities, education and opportunities to work with Veterans, and how CILs can be involved with state partners in working with Veterans.

We are seeking your input as a Center Director on how you are currently working with Veterans.

Survey results will be compiled and individual responses will be kept confidential. If you are not working with Veterans now, that information is just as valuable to our planning as if you are working with Veterans.  [Read more…]

Veterans Subcommittee Calling All Members!

November 11, 2015 was Veterans Day, and many of us paused to pay tribute to the veterans who have served our country and the sacrifice of these individuals and their families.

Many NCIL members know that veterans have not always been honored as they are in 2015. It might be hard for some to understand that there have been times when we did not honor the lives of those who gave to their country: Vietnam veterans who were treated as enemies upon their return to the U.S., women who were not fully recognized as Veterans and were not eligible for Veteran benefits until after WWII, and veterans of color.

We invite you, as NCIL members, to work on the NCIL Veterans Subcommittee to ensure that veterans are not only honored, but that their Independent Living needs are supported. There is a lot of work to be done, especially as Congress looks to gut the budget.

In 2015, we hear speeches and grandstanding about our veteran community from politicians, but when it comes down to policy and supporting our veterans, policy-makers are lacking in action.

The NCIL Veterans Subcommittee is comprised of veterans who have disabilities and allies in disability rights to bring forward our community’s important policy issues. A lot of members joined the Subcommittee’s meetings in August, but for the past few months attendance has been very low. We are looking for members who are able to spend time on committee work. If you are interested in joining the Subcommittee, you must be a NCIL individual member and have time to contribute to the Subcommittee. If interested, contact Co-Chairs: Sarah Launderville at and Mark Derry at

Our next meeting is scheduled for Monday, January 11, 2016.

We also invite you to check out these resources for Veterans: