the advocacy monitor

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

Disability Integration Act Update

After a summer spent successfully fighting to save Medicaid (although the battle will continue in the budget process) the work to get disabled people out of institutions and into the community has shifted back to the passage of the Disability Integration Act (DIA). The leadership shown by NCIL and ADAPT in resisting efforts to gut Medicaid caught the attention of many mainstream progressives and has helped us in generating support for DIA. Since June, DIA has been endorsed by the ACLU, Indivisible, Move On, UltraViolet, The Women’s March and the Human Rights Campaign.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingWe are now in the midst of a push to bring more Democrats and Republicans on to the bill. Over the summer 25 new Senators and Representatives have signed on as cosponsors including republicans Cathy McMorris Rogers, Barbara Comstock & Gregg Harper. We are hopeful that support for DIA will continue to grow now that the health care fight has given people a new understanding of how vulnerable our right to live in the community actually is. This summer has shown the nation how important Medicaid is to our community. Passing DIA will ensure that the lives we saved are the ones we want to live, in our own homes, in our own communities.

DIA is vital to ensuring our right to liberty and now that the healthcare fight is fading it is time be proactive and call upon representatives from both parties to support this much needed legislation. Visit, call and write your Senators and Representatives urging them to sign on as cosponsors. Tell your friends and colleagues to do the same.

Read more information and talking points about the Disability Integration Act and sign your organization on as a supporter.

Organizers Forum: Immigration and Disability

  • Tuesday, September 19, 2017
  • 1:00-2:00 p.m. Eastern
  • RSVP online

The Trump Administration has increased immigration raids, threatened millions with deportation, scared immigrants away from getting health care, food stamps, and other services, and just this week ended DACA (which provides relief for undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children). Some DREAMers (young people on DACA) have disabilities and were brought to the US by their families for medical care. Many home care workers are immigrants, currently at risk of deportation. Furthermore, as one group is attacked, we are all threatened. Let’s talk about the relationship between immigration and disability and what the disability community can do to protect disabled immigrants and act in solidarity with ALL immigrants.  [Read more…]

It’s Our Story Seeks Living Legends of “Diversability”

The It’s Our Story (IOS) project is collecting over 300 video histories of “Diversability” from 14 states and 33 cities in and around America’s “Tornado Alley” during the fall of 2017. These events are part of the ongoing work on the “It’s Our Story” video project.

IOS is documenting personal stories of living with a ”Diversability” and/or advocating for justice, social inclusion, employment and independent living in and around the Great Plains of America. The goal is to document 2,020 local stories of individuals advocating and living with a ”Diversability” in all 50 states by July 26, 2020, which marks the 15th anniversary of our first video history, which featured the late and great Fred Fay and Elmer Bartels in Concord, MA.  [Read more…]

Applications Open: AAPD 2018 Summer Internship Program

Deadline to Apply: November 6, 2017

Seventeen diverse young people with various disabilities pose for a photo togetherSince 2002, the AAPD Summer Internship Program has developed the next generation of leaders with disabilities and offered host employers access to a talented, diverse workforce. Each summer, AAPD places college students, graduate students, law students, and recent graduates with all types of disabilities in summer internships with Congressional offices, federal agencies, non-profits, and for-profit organizations in the Washington, DC area. Each intern is matched with a mentor who will assist them with their career goals. AAPD provides the interns with a living stipend, transportation to and from Washington, DC, and fully-accessible housing.

At the beginning of the summer, interns participate in a 1-week orientation session to learn about AAPD and the disability rights movement, meet the other interns, and participate in a variety of engaging workshops and events. As part of the AAPD network, interns also receive opportunities to attend events on Capitol Hill, conferences, community events, briefings, and more.  [Read more…]

House Judiciary Committee Approved H.R. 620 – Contact Your Representatives!

On Thursday, September 7, 2017, the House Judiciary Committee held a markup of H.R. 620, the ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017. The bill was voted out of committee along party lines and will now go to the full House for a vote. All of the amendments proposed by democrats were voted down, also along party lines.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingH.R. 620 is a terrible bill that would be a major step backwards for people with disabilities. The bill would weaken the protections afforded us under the Americans with Disabilities Act and make it even harder to enforce our rights under the ADA. Twenty seven years after the passage of the ADA, the fact that Congress is working to make it easier to discriminate against people with disabilities is shameful.

We are continuing to work on this issue, and we will keep you updated. We cannot let this bill become law. Please take action and contact your Representatives today! Tell them that H.R. 620 is harmful to people with disabilities, so they must vote NO!

For more information H.R. 620, see our April alert, CCD’s “Save the ADA” website, and the Oppose ADA Notification Facebook page. And, if you haven’t signed the change.org petition yet, please do so today!

A Message of Support for Hurricane-Affected Regions from the NCIL Emergency Preparedness Subcommittee

Dear Centers for Independent Living, SILCs, and IL Associations:

As Texas continues to deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and our Southeastern states prepare for the impact of Hurricane Irma, the National Council on Independent Living, through its Emergency Preparedness Subcommittee, stands ready, willing, and able to assist you in whatever way we can. Please know that our thoughts remain with all those affected by Harvey in Texas and that we are aware the recovery will be a lengthy process. We have been in contact members in Texas and pledged our assistance and support now and in the coming years. We offer the same support and assistance to the states in the path of Hurricane Irma. Our thoughts are with you in the coming days and we hope that all remain safe and unharmed.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingIn the aftermath of the storm, NCIL Emergency Preparedness Subcommittee members can be available by phone to make calls and / or coordinate resources on the ground for you. We are in close contact with agencies and organizations that are available to assist, including the Office of Disability Integration and Coordination (ODIC) with FEMA, Portlight Inclusive Disaster Strategies, and the Red Cross. NCIL is represented on local and national stakeholder calls hosted by the Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies and will host calls themselves among CILs in any state, if needed. The NCIL Emergency Preparedness Subcommittee has members throughout the country who are ready and willing to help.

We are learning that it is often a week or longer before a CIL can tell us what their needs may be. We will be in contact with CIL and SILC staff next week to check on their wellbeing and then discuss how we might be of assistance in the future. In the meantime however, please feel free to call Emergency Preparedness Subcommittee Chairperson Christy Dunaway (Mississippi) at 601-506-6454 or Co-Chair Todd Holloway (Washington) at 253-826-1287 if you have questions or need assistance.

NCIL Emergency Preparedness Subcommittee Members

NCIL Condemns the Decision to End DACA

The National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) condemns the Trump Administration’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Ending DACA will not only negatively impact the 800,000 DACA recipients (known as Dreamers) who were promised the opportunity to live, study, and work in the US; the loss of everything these 800,000 Dreamers contribute will be felt in our communities all over the country.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingThe DACA program provides protection from deportation to young people who came to the US as children. These are young people who came to America for the promise of a better life, who went through arduous background checks to register for the program, and who are now pursuing their education and working to provide for themselves and their families. Dreamers are contributing to this country not only through their work, but also by enriching their communities and adding to the diversity of this country.

The decision to end DACA is reflective of the Trump Administration’s allegiance to discriminatory, biased policies that only further the interests of white wealthy people. The decision sharply reinforces the Administration’s bias against immigrants and people of color, and NCIL strongly opposes this racist agenda.

While there are no statistics on how many Dreamers have disabilities, there’s no question that many Dreamers and their family members are part of the Independent Living community. Many immigrants come to the US for better opportunities as well as better medical care for disabilities and chronic conditions. Trump has made it clear that he views immigrants as a drain on society, and that closely mirrors his views on people who receive disability benefits (as illustrated by his proposal to significantly cut SSDI, SSI, and Medicaid). Immigrants with disabilities have long been at a disproportionate risk for detainment and deportation, and ending DACA only increases that risk for disabled Dreamers and their families. For disabled Dreamers and for all 800,000 Dreamers, ending DACA will upend lives, rip families apart, and damage communities across the country.

The Administration is allowing a six-month “delay” to give Congress time to work on an alternative immigration reform plan. NCIL calls on Congress to protect these 800,000 Dreamers, and to refuse to use their lives and livelihood as a bargaining chip. Bipartisan support for protecting the Dreamers has been voiced, and we urge the Independent Living community to support the Dreamers in our communities and around the country by holding our Members of Congress accountable. Our strength as a country comes from our diversity, and NCIL stands in solidarity with other marginalized communities to fight for equity.

Markup Tomorrow: Call House Judiciary Members to Oppose H.R. 620!

Congress has introduced several ADA Notification bills this year, and one that’s been gaining a lot of traction is H.R. 620, the ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017. H.R. 620 is a terrible bill that would weaken the protections afforded people with disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act. This would be a major setback for our community!

The House Judiciary Committee will be holding a full committee markup tomorrow, Thursday September 7. Please take action! We need everyone to contact House Judiciary Committee members, listed below, and urge them to vote NO on this appalling bill. If you are near the DC area, we also encourage you to join NCIL staff at this markup in room 2141 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

This bill, as with other ADA Notification bills, would create significant additional obstacles for people with disabilities to enforce our rights under the ADA. Having just passed the 27th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, this is simply unacceptable. Please contact these Representatives today!

For more information H.R. 620, see our April alert, CCD’s Letter of Opposition, and the Oppose ADA Notification Facebook page.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingHouse Judiciary Committee Members

Republicans:

  • Bob Goodlatte, Chair (VA)
  • Jim Sensenbrenner (WI)
  • Lamar Smith (TX)
  • Steve Chabot (OH)
  • Darrell Issa (CA)
  • Steve King (IA)
  • Trent Franks (AZ)
  • Louie Gohmert (TX)
  • Jim Jordan (OH)
  • Ted Poe (TX) * Bill sponsor
  • Tom Marino (PA)
  • Trey Gowdy (SC)
  • Raul Labrador (ID)
  • Blake Farenthold (TX)
  • Doug Collins (GA)
  • Ron DeSantis (FL)
  • Ken Buck (CO)
  • John Ratcliffe (TX)
  • Martha Roby (AL)
  • Matt Gaetz (FL)
  • Mike Johnson (LA)
  • Andy Biggs (AZ)
  • John Rutherford (FL)
  • Karen Handel (GA)

Democrats:

  • John Conyers, Ranking Member (MI)
  • Jerry Nadler (NY)
  • Zoe Lofgren (CA)
  • Sheila Jackson Lee (TX)
  • Steve Cohen (TN)
  • Hank Johnson, Jr. (GA)
  • Ted Deutch (FL)
  • Luis Gutierrez (IL)
  • Karen Bass (CA)
  • Cedric Richmond (LA)
  • Hakeem Jeffries (NY)
  • David Cicilline (RI)
  • Eric Swalwell (CA)
  • Ted Lieu (CA)
  • Jamie Raskin (MD)
  • Pramila Jayapal (WA)
  • Brad Schneider (IL)

Congress Is Back – Help Protect Our Rights.

35th Anniversary Logo: NCIL – National Council on Independent Living. Celebrating 35 Years of Advocacy. Graphic features party candles.Congress has returned from recess and it’s time for us to gear up for another round of the fight. We may have defeated the healthcare bill, but Medicaid is still in danger. The proposed budget would cut $610 billion from Medicaid and $72 billion from Social Security disability programs. Without the crucial income and healthcare stability provided by Medicaid and Social Security, many people with disabilities would be forced into institutions or even face death.

Currently, NCIL is one of the only disability rights organizations doing advocacy on a national scale. But we can’t do it alone.

Will you give to NCIL to make sure we can continue fighting for community living?

We can’t lose the momentum we had over the summer. With your help, we can tell Congress to keep their hands off Social Security and Medicaid.

Donate now – your contribution is tax deductible!

Election Assistance Commission to Discuss Next Generation of Voting Machine Accessibility Guidelines

The Federal Government is setting standards for the next generation of voting machines. All manufacturers and most states buy equipment built to these standards, called VVSG (Voluntary Voting System Guidelines). On September 11th and 12th, the Technical Guidelines Development Committee (TGDC) will convene to discuss the development of the VVSG, 2.0. The development of the VVSG are critical to improving the accessibility of America’s voting systems and software, according to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) as they “provide a set of specifications and requirements against [which] systems can be tested to determine if they provide all of the basic functionality, accessibility, and security capabilities required of voting systems.” It is vital that disability organizations and advocates pay attention to the development of the VVSG 2.0, the fifth iteration of these standards, so that they can provide comments to ensure that the perspective and interests of people with disabilities in casting a private and independent ballot are taken seriously.  [Read more…]