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

RTC/IL Resilience Study Examines How People with Disabilities Live Successfully in Rural Areas

Source: University of Kansas Research and Training Center on Independent Living, or RTC/IL

Living in a small town can be challenging for anyone. For people with disabilities, rural areas can create even more serious barriers to accomplishing the things they want to do.

However, with the help of a trait known as resilience, many people with disabilities who live in rural areas have achieved a good quality of life and are able to participate in their communities.

“Some people do well in life because they face few obstacles to meeting their goals: they are healthy, they have parents who are well-educated and have the resources to provide their children with a good education, and they have the support they need,” said Jean Ann Summers, research director at the University of Kansas Research and Training Center on Independent Living, or RTC/IL.

The resilience study – which is still ongoing – didn’t focus on this group of people, though.

“Other people do well in life despite the obstacles that they face,” Summers said.  “They may have grown up poor, they may have a disability, they may live in a community where few jobs or other opportunities are available. And yet they thrive. They are able to achieve their goals and have a satisfying life in the community in spite of the odds that are against them. We say those people are ‘resilient.’”

Summers and her collaborators Dot Nary, assistant research professor at the RTC/IL, and Heather Lassmann, graduate research assistant, set out to identify what Summers calls “the secrets of success” that resilient people with disabilities employ to successfully live in rural communities. Their work is part of larger project based at the University of Montana Research and Training Center on the Ecology of Rural Disability.

“The study is important because if we can find out what people who are naturally resilient do, we can design a program to teach others how to be resilient,” Nary said. Read more at the RTC/IL website.

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…]

Open Position: NCIL Staff Accountant (Washington, DC)

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingReports to: Executive Director

As a membership organization representing Centers for Independent Living (CILs), Statewide Independent Living Councils (SILCs), people with disabilities, and disability rights organizations, the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) advances independent living and the rights of people with disabilities through consumer-driven advocacy. NCIL envisions a world in which people with disabilities are valued equally and participate fully.

Function: The Staff Accountant is responsible for administration of financial analysis, income and expenses, purchasing, payroll, billing and budget audit, and contract review. As Staff Accountant, this person will perform varied comprehensive accounting services in connection with the financial operation of NCIL. This person also performs all human resource duties.  [Read more…]

NCIL Letter to Vice President Pence on the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity

On May 16th, NCIL penned this letter to Vice President Pence on its concerns on the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, and asked that the Commission examines issues of inaccessibility and vote suppression in the election system.

Dear Vice President Pence,

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingOn May 11, President Trump issued an executive order establishing the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. We stand in solidarity with the rest of the civil rights community in expressing concern that the commission’s expressed goals of examining dubious claims of voter fraud could further disenfranchise people of color and people with disabilities. NCIL hopes that the commission will instead explore the well-documented issues of voting inaccessibility and vote suppression that have made exercising the right to vote more difficult for marginalized communities.

NCIL urges the commission to focus on these issues:

  • Accessibility of polling places and voting equipment on Election Day is still not equitable for people with disabilities. According to a study by Rutgers University of the 2012 election, “30.1% of voters with disabilities reported difficulty in voting at a polling place…compared to 8.4% of voters without disabilities.”
  • With the increasing use of the internet, the way that people learn about and participate in elections is changing rapidly. Unfortunately, many election information and voter registration websites are not accessible to people with disabilities, especially people who are blind or low vision, have cognitive disabilities, or have mobility disabilities.
  • Voter ID laws, which have been created for the alleged purpose of upholding voting integrity, actually suppress the vote for marginalized populations. For example,
    • Over 7% of people with disabilities do not have a government-issued current photo ID. Obtaining an ID is particularly difficult for some older Americans and people with disabilities that prevent them from driving, as they are unable to travel to obtain the ID.
    • According to the American Civil Liberties Union, people of color disproportionately lack government-issued photo ID, with up to 25% of African Americans lacking an ID, as opposed to 8% of Whites. There is a higher rate of disability in communities of color, so disabled people of color risk being barred from the voting process in a number of ways.

In an April 2017, the Republican-nominated chair of the Election Assistance Commission, Matthew Masterson stated that voter fraud is “not widespread. It’s not an epidemic.” The current goals of the bipartisan commission, which will be chaired by you, the Vice President, and vice chaired by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, are concerning to NCIL because they focus on examining theories on voting fraud, many of which have already been disproven.

Voting is essential to our democracy, and there are still many barriers standing in the way of equal voting access for all Americans. Laws born from concern about voter fraud have further complicated the right to vote for marginalized communities while showing little evidence of necessity for those laws in the first place.

We urge the commission to focus on the issues of voting accessibility. Inaccessibility of voting for people with disabilities has been well studied by the Election Assistance Commission, the Government Accountability Office, and many other groups, and we are in desperate need of the government to take next steps based on these reports to improve accessibility of the voting process, from registration, to voter information, all the way through Election Day. An accessible fair voting process is essential our democracy and to securing the right to vote for all American citizens.

Out Now! #IAmAPreExistingCondition Video with Rooted in Rights!

NCIL is excited to announce the release of our new #IAmAPreExistingCondition video in partnership with Rooted in Rights! This video showcases the real stories of real people with pre-existing conditions who will be harmed if the American Health Care Act (AHCA) is passed into law.

Watch the video, and then contact your Senators to tell them to vote NO on the AHCA! Don’t forget to donate to NCIL so that we can keep advocating for community living for all!

Thanks to everyone who submitted a video, and a special thanks to our supporters:

Together, we can make sure the voices of the one in four Americans with pre-existing conditions are heard!

Get to the Core of It – Best Practices in the CIL Core Services: Information & Referral

CIL-NET Presents… A National Teleconference & Webinar:

June 21, 2017; 3:00 – 4:30 p.m. Eastern

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

CIL-NET is happy to announce an encore presentation of one of our most popular webinars. Get to the Core of It: Information & Referral is an essential training for CIL staff responsible for information and referral and consumer intake. Our presenters breathe life into a topic many of us take for granted. Our presenters will provide participants with a philosophical approach to I&R before delving into details about the staff skills and policies needed to run an exemplary I&R program. Our presenters have embraced the idea that I&R is more than just a numbers game – it’s the front door of their Centers and a way to get more people with disabilities involved in the Center and the Movement!

IL-NET Logo - CIL-NET + SILC-NETRegistration 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 or webinar.

Target Audience: Executive directors, I&R specialists, and any staff of Centers for Independent Living who are involved in providing I&R services

Upon completion of this webinar, participants will have knowledge and resources that will enable them to:

  • Explain the critical role of I&R as the gateway to providing CIL consumers with information, knowledge, and resources in an efficient and responsive manner
  • Describe strategies to organize, track, and maintain comprehensive and extensive resource information on numerous disability-related topics
  • Describe best practice policies, procedures and staff training that result in highly effective interactions with consumers
  • Describe how to conduct follow up with consumers to determine the effectiveness of their CIL’s I&R service delivery

[Read more…]

Temporary NCIL Phone Number

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingDear NCIL Members:

NCIL is moving to a new phone provider and we are experiencing problems with our phone line. NCIL’s phone number (202-207-0334) is currently unavailable. Please dial 202-864-4253 or 1-844-778-7961 (toll free) to reach the NCIL office while we work to correct the problem. Of course, you can always email us at We are very sorry for the inconvenience!


NCIL Staff

Organizer’s Forum: Threats to the ADA (H.R. 620)

  • Tuesday, May 16, 2017; 1:00-2:00 p.m. Eastern
  • Call-in: 1-515-739-1285
  • Passcode: 521847#
  • RSVP online

Learn about federal legislation that threatens the civil rights of people with disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act and find out what you can do about it. The so-called ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 620) would make it difficult for people with disabilities to enforce their rights to access public accommodations under the ADA, by requiring the person to identify ADA violations, notify the business, and allow the business a lengthy period to provide access — even though businesses have now had 27 years to comply with the law! On the call we’ll talk about visits to members of Congress, and other ways you can stop this bill.  [Read more…]

Independent Living Level Funded in 2017 – Initiate Contact with Your Senators and Representatives Now to Avoid Future Cuts!

Last Friday President Trump signed the $1.1 trillion spending bill (PDF) that was passed by the House and Senate earlier in the week. The passage of this omnibus spending bill keeps the government funded through the remainder of FY 2017, which ends on September 30, 2017.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingGiven the recommendations from the Administration to make significant cuts, we were surprised to see that many of the programs and departments important to the disability community were level-funded, and some even received small increases. Our main funding focus, the Independent Living Program, received $101,183,000, which includes $22,878,000 in Part B funding and $78,305,000 in Part C funding. This is level funding from FY 2016 spending levels and is actually a very slight increase from the first part of FY 2017 due to the .19% across-the-board cut in the December Continuing Resolution (CR).

In addition to the Independent Living Program, there are several other funding levels to take note of. Several Departments received increases, including the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS): a $2.7 billion increase for a total of $77.7 billion, the Department of Transportation (DOT): a $681 million increase for a total of $19.3 billion, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD): a $513 million increase for a total of $38.8 billion. The Administration for Community Living (ACL) received a $1.2 million increase (for a total of $1.9 billion), with the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) being level funded at $104 million and the Assistive Technology Act also being level funding at $32 million; however, $2 million was allocated toward grants for Alternative Financing Programs for assistive technology devices. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) received a $130.6 million increase (for a total of $3.6 billion). While HUD received an increase overall, Section 811 Housing for people with disabilities received a decrease of $4.4 million (for a total of $146.2 million); this was one of only a small number of HUD programs to receive a cut. And other Departments received decreases, including the Department of Labor (DOL): an $83 million decrease for a total of $12.1 billion and the Department of Education (ED): a $1.2 billion decrease for a total $68 billion. However, while funding for ED overall decreased, funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was increased by $90 million (for a total of $12 billion).

Now that the FY 2017 funding is finalized, Congress will begin to turn their attention to FY 2018. As a reminder, all we’ve seen from President Trump is the “skinny budget” (PDF) he released in March, which outlined some of his priorities. While there has been criticism on both sides of the aisle, we know that Congress hopes to make major cuts.

Level funding does not meet our needs, but right now our focus must be on fighting against any cuts that will negatively impact the Independent Living Program. Please continue talking with your members of Congress. Please continue trying to get them to visit your CIL over the recess. It is on us to make sure that our Senators and Representatives know how important Independent Living is to their constituents with disabilities. Only by hearing directly from their constituents will they understand the vital need for funding and the incredible value of the IL Program!

More Information:

NCIL Statement on House Passage of the American Health Care Act

The National Council on Independent Living is deeply disappointed by the House’s 217-213 passage of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) yesterday. This bill represents a huge step backwards for people with disabilities who – if this bill is passed into law – will face higher health care costs, less coverage, and a greater risk of institutionalization. Specifically, the AHCA would do this by:

  • NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingSlashing Medicaid funding by over $800 billion
  • Eliminating protections for people with pre-existing conditions
  • Ending the enhanced Federal funding for the Community First Choice Option
  • Eliminating the ten Essential Health Benefits
  • Making fundamental changes to the ACA’s premium subsidies and other assistance
  • Ending Medicaid Expansion

The bill now heads to the Senate, where it only needs 51 votes to pass. We need the Senate to reject this disastrous bill, so we have to keep fighting to ensure they do just that.

Take Action!

First: Make sure Congress knows we’re going to hold them accountable. See how your Representative voted. If your Representative voted against the AHCA, thank them! If your Representative voted for it, let them know how disappointed you are and just how harmful their vote was.

Then: Start talking to your Senators! We need to make sure every single Senator understands the dangerous implications of the AHCA. Reach out to them today to let them know your concerns. Then call their offices to schedule a meeting with them over the Memorial Day Recess at the end of the month.

Today is a sad day, but there is still hope. Please join us in working to ensure that the ACHA does not become law!