the advocacy monitor

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

Inclusive Emergency Management

WHEREAS, people with disabilities are two to four times more likely to be injured or die in a disaster;

WHEREAS, during a disaster, people with disabilities encounter barriers accessing disaster services including emergency notification, evacuation, sheltering, response, registering for (Federal Emergency Management Administration) FEMA disaster assistance, housing, throughout long-term recovery;

WHEREAS, these barriers are not a part of disability or aging; rather, they are the result of the failure to include disability and aging communities in disaster planning, response, recovery, research, and oversight;

WHEREAS, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended, provide civil rights protections and equal access to all disaster programs and services during disasters, requiring effective communication access to disaster information, physical access to all disaster services, shelters and temporary housing, and program accessibility; [Read more…]

Access Ready Environments

Whereas, the Americans With Disabilities Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, and other federal/state laws require that all new or updated buildings meet federal and state physical accessibility guidelines;

Whereas, the Americans With Disabilities Act requires that government services and places of public accommodation meet accessibility guidelines;

Whereas, the Americans With Disabilities Act requires that places of employment make reasonable accommodations to provide for the employment of people with disabilities;

Whereas, the courts including the Supreme Court of the United States have upheld all the above requirements;

Whereas, the cost of retrofitting or upgrading both buildings and technology is often held out as a reason not to provide accessibility; [Read more…]

Voter Verification Systems

Whereas, the Help America Vote Act and Title 2 of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as well as other federal and state laws, guarantee the right of all Americans with disabilities to vote privately and independently;

Whereas, these laws, taken together, require the entire voting experience to be accessible to persons with disabilities, including those who are blind or have low vision;

Whereas, the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) has been at the forefront of advocacy ensuring that this right is implemented for every person in America with a disability;

Whereas, areas in which voting rights advocacy by NCIL have occurred include accessible voting machines, accessible voter registration platforms, online ballot platforms, and access to sample ballots; [Read more…]

Do No Harm – Implementation of WIOA Regulations and Guidance Regarding CILs & SILCs

Whereas, Sect. 101 (a)(18) of the Rehabilitation Act states that the State plan shall include an assurance that the State will reserve and use a portion of the VR/110 (I&E) funds to support the SILC resource plan; and

Whereas, the Rehabilitation Act as amended by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act in 2014 did not change Sect. 101 (a)(18) of the law regarding the use of I&E funds; and

Whereas, the Rehabilitation Services Administration has proposed a change in regulations that makes using I&E funding to support the SILC an option rather than a requirement; and

Whereas, many SILCs rely on I&E funding and removing that funding could create a hardship for the SILC; and

Whereas, a hardship would be created for the CILs if Part B funding is taken from the CILs to support the SILC; and

Whereas, many DSUs are “holding SILCs” hostage with threats of removing I&E funds from the SILC resource plan if a different DSE is selected; and  [Read more…]

Allies not Adversaries – Developing Collaboration between Centers for Independent Living and Adult Protective Services

Whereas, violence and abuse against individuals with disabilities occurs at a much higher rate than for individuals without disabilities;

Whereas, Adult Protective Services investigators (sometimes called caseworkers) are often the first responders to reports of abuse, neglect, and exploitation of adults with disabilities;

Whereas, the current structure of Adult Protective Services, including the type of abuse it responds to; the population it protects; the people required to report; and the type and quality of the response varies from state to state;

Whereas, this inconsistency creates confusion for service providers, it also creates an atmosphere of fear and mistrust for people with disabilities; and

Whereas, an inadequate response by Adult Protective Services can put the victim in further danger from the abuser, it can also result in the victim being re-victimized by the service system charged with protecting them;  [Read more…]

Support of APRIL’s Efforts to Increase Base Funding for Centers for Independent Living

Approved by the NCIL membership July 2014

Whereas, more than a decade and a half ago, a national effort was undertaken to establish a funding benchmark necessary to operate a Center for Independent Living that was adequately carrying out the duties and responsibilities spelled out in Title VII of the Rehabilitation Act; and

Whereas, that work in the mid 1990’s resulted in about 80%* of the states having set a “base funding” benchmark of $250,000 for their Centers before any funds are directed toward the development of a new Center; and

Whereas, a minimum of $250,000 to deliver the four core services in proportion and with quality, across a multi-county or multi-region service area is no longer adequate; and

Whereas, an examination of methods used to determine inflationary impacts over time, show that the purchasing power of $250,000 in 1995 requires significantly more money in 2012 (the latest year in which the calculations are available) with the current value of $250,000 using the Measuring Worth calculator (measuringworth.com) ranging from $377,000 using the Consumer Price Index to $530,000 using the relative share of Gross Domestic Product; and  [Read more…]

Reform of the Definition of Disability in the Social Security Act Used to Award Disability Benefits

Approved by the NCIL membership July 2014

Whereas, studies show that working age people with disabilities want to work and they do work; and

Whereas, the efforts to acquire and retain gainful employment are fundamental to a realization of full independence, equality and civic participation for people with disabilities; and

Whereas, NCIL is already engaged in seeking a redefinition of disability for young SSI beneficiaries through the CareerACCESS Initiative (www.ourcareerACCESS.org); and

Whereas, “disability” under the Social Security Act is defined as the inability to execute significant paid physical or mental labor, and whereas individuals must go through an extensive process to prove their inability to work as a stipulation for Social Security disability benefits eligibility; and  [Read more…]

Disability Profiling

Approved by the NCIL Membership July, 2013

WHEREAS federal law prohibits sale of firearms or ammunition to any person “adjudicated as a mental defective or … committed to any mental institution” and requires reporting such court orders to the “National Instant Criminal Background Check System” administered by the U.S. Department of Justice;

WHEREAS much of the legislation to address shootings such as the Newtown incident in December, 2012 has focused on people with autism, mental and disability, in effect “profiling” based on disability rather than focusing on factors associated with more severe violence;

WHEREAS violence and disability have been studied intensively in the last twenty-five years and these studies have verified that people with disabilities are more frequently victims of violence than our peers without disabilities; and  [Read more…]

Abuse in Government Funded Residential Facilities

Approved by the NCIL membership June 2012

WHEREAS, the extent to which people with disabilities, residing in state, local and federally funded institutions are subjected to abuse is underreported, unknown and generally remains hidden from public scrutiny; and

WHEREAS, the population of individuals with disabilities includes children, adults and elders, residing in a variety of settings such as schools, nursing homes, hospitals, group homes, etc.; and

WHEREAS, the continued segregation of this population often results in a lack of disciplinary action, criminal charges, criminal prosecution and offender accountability against those perpetrating these acts; and  [Read more…]

Exploitation of People with Disabilities

Approved by the NCIL membership June 2012

WHEREAS, the extent to which people with disabilities are subjected to abuses of all kinds as a means to gain control of their benefits is unknown and often is long lasting; and

WHEREAS, recent accounts of individuals with disabilities in Philadelphia have highlighted the extent and cruelty that these predators will go to in order to gain and maintain this control; and

WHEREAS, this type of exploitation not only cost millions of tax payer dollars it also has a devastating effect on the health, well-being and independence of those individuals being exploited.  [Read more…]