the advocacy monitor

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

Guns, Institutionalization, and Databases: An Update from the NCIL Mental Health Civil Rights Subcommittee

Currently, the White House, NRA, and others are floating two ill-conceived ideas that affect disabled persons: a return to more institutionalization and a database of persons who have received mental health treatment. These are both bad ideas that will reduce the rights of everyone.

It is widely known that persons who have a mental illness label are more likely to be a victim of violence than a perpetrator. Misidentifying mental health as a primary factor in gun violence is as discriminatory and ineffective as attempting to identify party affiliation as a primary factor. While the recent shooter did have a history of contact with the mental health profession, in this and other cases, other factors are stronger indicators. Domestic violence, membership in or sympathy toward hate groups, or ideas that promote some people as less than human are higher on list of indicators.

While it is possible that a personal intent on committing violence could be identified by the database, this type of approach would have negative consequences for all Americans. Specifically, it would severely discourage people from seeking help.  [Read more…]

Apply for the Rooted in Writing Fellowship by May 21!

Are you passionate about disability rights? Are you passionate about writing? If you answered yes to both questions, Rooted in Rights wants YOU to apply for the new Rooted in Writing Fellowship! Applications are open through May 21st.

To learn more about the Rooted in Writing Fellowship, check out this video from the Editor in Chief of the Rooted in Rights Blog. For more details and to apply for the Rooted in Writing Fellowship, visit rootedinrights.org/rootedinwriting.

Kids As Self Advocates (KASA) Seeks Advisory Board Members

Source: KASA

KASA, the Kids as Self Advocates Project of Family Voices, is seeking youth with disabilities & health care needs to serve on our National Advisory Board. We are seeking youth with a disability and/or health care need, between the ages of 13 and 26 to serve on the all-youth volunteer Advisory Board, which is responsible for strategic planning for the growing project, program planning, activities and outreach. KASA works to help support youth to have control over their lives and future through peer-support and training, changing systems to include us and educating youth about their rights.

Open the application in Word[Read more…]

An Update from the NCIL Employment / Social Security Subcommittee

The NCIL Employment / Social Security Subcommittee Co-Chairs have been pleased that meetings have been well attended and much interest has been shown in topics discussed and in projects being actively considered.

First and foremost, the Subcommittee has been steadily progressing with regard to its two policy initiatives to enhance employment incentives for people with disabilities of retirement age; both initiatives have been deemed “reasonable” upon scrutiny by the Social Security Administration but require Congressional action:

  1. Eliminating the termination age (65) of MBI’s within the authorization language of the Ticket-to-Work-Work Incentive Improvement Act of 1999 (TTWWIIA)

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingThe Subcommittee had a meeting with minority staffer for House Energy and Commerce Committee (committee of jurisdiction) and the proposal was received with support. Additional information requested was forwarded. A meeting with majority staff was agreed upon but has been delayed.

This proposal would simply align Medicaid Buy-In (MBI) authorization language within the TTWWIIA with parallel language within the Balanced Budget Act (1997), language which does not contain a termination age. More people with disabilities at/above retirement age desire to and are able to work and should not need to encounter a “spend-down” to retain vital Medicaid services (such as attendant care). They should not need to lose everything they have earned to retain such services – services needed, in turn, to be employed and socioeconomically productive.  [Read more…]

Veterans and Peer Support: An Update from the NCIL Veterans Subcommittee

By David Koch, NCIL Veterans Subcommittee; Independent Living Specialist and Assistive Technology Specialist, CILWW

Peer support is one of the core services offered at Independent Living Centers across the country and is considered a helping relationship between an individual who has experience living with certain conditions assisting another person to cope and adapt to similar circumstances. Peer mentoring is at the heart of the peer support model; this is an opportunity for peer mentors to use their own personal experience of living with a disability to empower others in reaching their goals.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingThe peer support component of IL fits well with the Vet to Vet framework. However, Veterans’ peer support or Vet to Vet peer support has its own nuances to traditional peer support. Fellow Veterans connect better as peer mentors in the peer support process. Finding and training mentors can be a challenge with less than ten percent of the US population being Veterans (2014 VA estimate).

There are many different frameworks, but Veteran to Veteran is the most common and often the most successful because of a common bond. The Department of Veterans Affairs recognized this need for peer support. Smaller non-VA programs are just for combat Veterans while others are open to all Veterans and a few to include the Veterans’ families. As a Veteran who has made the transition to civilian life, the transition was and is not always easy. For some Veterans, especially when dealing with mental health challenges or issues such as depression or PTSD, it can be a tough road. They are often the Veterans disenfranchised by the VA, yet in real need of peer support.  [Read more…]

New Report – A Hidden Market: The Purchasing Power of People With Disabilities

A new report has been released by the American Institutes for Research. The report is titled A Hidden Market: The Purchasing Power of People With Disabilities and provides research that quantifies the purchasing power of working-age adults with disabilities. Please see the news release for an overview and a link to the report[Read more…]

Disability Integration Act Essay Contest for Young Adults

Your essay could win you a trip to Washington, D.C. to meet with Members of Congress about the Disability Integration Act!

2018 Disability Integration Act Essay Guidelines

The Disability Integration Act (DIA) is a bill that introduced by Senator Schumer in the Senate and Representative Sensenbrenner in the House to address the fundamental issue that people who need Long Term Services and Supports can be forced into nursing homes and other institutions in order to receive the assistance they need. This means that people are losing their homes, family and freedom simply because they need assistance with daily living. The legislation (S. 910 / H.R. 2472) would ensure that seniors and people with disabilities are able to receive home and community-based services as an alternative to institutionalization.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingIn 500 – 2000 words tell us what the Disability Integration Act means to you and how your life will be impacted when the bill passes.

Extended Deadline: Tuesday, June 26, 2018 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern

For any questions, contact essaycontest@ncil.org.

Essay Contest Rules 2018

Eligibility: Young adults between the ages of 13 and 22 years are eligible to participate in this contest. Young adults do not need to be disabled, but must be able to demonstrate how the Disability Integration Act would impact them.  [Read more…]

Disability Integration Act Children’s Art Contest

Your child’s original artwork could win them a trip to Washington, D.C. to meet with Members of Congress about the Disability Integration Act!

2018 Disability Integration Act Artwork Contest Guidelines

The Disability Integration Act (DIA) is a bill that was introduced by Senator Schumer in the Senate and Representative Sensenbrenner in the House to help people with disabilities and older people live at home instead of having to go to a nursing home or other institution. Sometimes people who need extra help with the things they do every day, like getting dressed or eating, are forced to go to a nursing home to get that help instead of living at home. That’s not fair. This bill would make it the law that we would help people in their own homes! You and a grown up can look up the bill on congress.gov by searching the bill numbers: S. 910 and H.R. 2472. You can also learn more at www.disabilityintegrationact.org.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingIn one piece of artwork, show us what the Disability Integration Act means to you and how your life will be impacted when the bill passes. You can also include 1 to 5 sentences with your artwork.

Extended Deadline: Tuesday, June 26, 2018 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern

For any questions, contact artcontest@ncil.org.

Artwork Contest Rules 2018

Eligibility: Children ages 12 and under are eligible to participate in this contest. Children do not need to be disabled, but must use their artwork to demonstrate how the Disability Integration Act would impact them. The artwork may be no bigger than a standard poster board.  [Read more…]

Action Alert: Tell Your of State to Support Use of HAVA Funds for Election Accessibility

Recently, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission secured over $380 million in grants to improve election accessibility and security following the 2016 election. These grants were provided under Section 101 of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), which explicitly talks about using funds to make voting more accessible. You can find your state’s grant amount at the Election Assistance Commission website. Each state will have federal funds along with state-granted five percent matching funds to make security updates and accessibility updates can include buying new election infrastructure, making election websites more accessible, or beta testing new election equipment.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingDue to concerns about hacking, there may be a significant push for these funds to be used entirely for security purposes and to focus less on accessibility. However, inaccessibility is still a major barrier to voting for people with disabilities, and a 2012 report by Rutgers University found that over 30 percent of people with disabilities experienced at least one difficulty in casting their ballots, as compared to only 8.5 percent of people without disabilities. Therefore, Secretaries of State need input and advocacy from the disability community to inform them that accessibility is a priority and still a significant need in election systems across the country. We ask you to call your Secretary of State and advocate for these grant funds to be used on election accessibility, including election website accessibility, buying new election infrastructure, and beta testing new accessible election technology.

If you have any questions, please contact Sarah Blahovec at sarah@ncil.org or 202-207-0334 ext. 1103.

Share Your Experiences with Accessible Transportation!

The National Council on Independent Living is currently conducting research on our members’ experiences with transportation, and we are seeking information from individuals who have struggled to gain access to accessible transportation. We are looking for several compelling stories to help us mobilize around issues of vehicle accessibility and autonomous vehicles.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingWhile we will be advocating for a comprehensive approach to accessibility, right now we are looking specifically for stories related to the following:

  • Buying and modifying a vehicle for wheelchair access.
  • Arranging accessible ridesharing (Uber and Lyft).
  • Interface access and needs for blind and D/deaf individuals.
  • How wheelchair users manage public transportation (fixed route, paratransit and other modes). Specifically: What your thoughts are about the service? How does it affect your ability to get out in the community?

If you have experienced barriers with any of the above topics, please share your story.

The survey is also available in Word and plaint text and can be emailed back to lindsay@ncil.org. Please share your story and help with this important effort!