the advocacy monitor

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

Take Action to FREE OUR PEOPLE During the NCIL Annual Conference!

On Tuesday, July 23, during NCIL’s Annual Conference on Independent Living, we will be having our Annual March to and Rally at the U.S. Capitol. Following the Rally, most people do Hill Visits and meet with members of Congress. Typically, people use the free time following their visits to do some sight-seeing, buy souvenirs, or get something cold to drink after being out in the heat. This year, you have the opportunity to use your free time to make some history!


We have secured a historic number of House co-sponsors for the Disability Integration Act (H.R. 555). As of this writing, there are 232 DIA House co-sponsors. We not only have a majority of the House of Representatives; a majority of members for every committee of jurisdiction are co-sponsors of the bill. In January, we called on the House to pass the DIA while NCIL would be in town. With this many co-sponsors, some people expect the House to do that. After all, we have enough co-sponsors to pass the bill. Despite widespread support for DIA, Representative Frank Pallone, Chair of the Energy and Commerce (E&C) Committee, has decided the bill isn’t going to move.

Representative Pallone has such tight control over the committee and its staff that even Congresswoman Eshoo, Chair of the E&C Health Subcommittee, despite her personal support for the bill, is unable to give it a hearing. Frank Pallone should know better. Democrats are supposed to be champions of civil rights, not defenders of an unjust status quo. Even worse, he had promised to cosponsor the legislation during the 2018 campaign season!

There is someone who can fix this, though: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi!

[Read more…]

2019 Annual Conference on Independent Living App Now Available

Are you ready for NCIL’s 2019 Annual Conference on Independent Living? There’s an app for that!

For the first time, NCIL has developed an app for our Annual Conference.

To download the app, visit the Apple App Store or Google Play and search for “NCIL” or start from a mobile device and visit

To view the web version of the app, visit

All of the information contained in the app will also be available in your Annual Conference materials, which are available now at

Please remember to use our hashtag, #NCIL2019 in your social media posts. Please caption you images if you are able, and remember to set your post to public if you want NCIL and other conference attendees to see it.

Free Webinar – Growth and Development: Capitalize on New Business Opportunities

Many organizations want to expand their businesses and work with new partners or payers. To do so, an organization must first understand its current financial health, understand the true cost of services and use that information to prepare for contract discussions. Preparing for a contract with a managed care organization is a unique scenario that requires additional consideration and preparation. To be successful, you need to understand your potential payers and partners, develop a value proposition, get in the door, and negotiate a contract that meets both yours and the payers’ needs.

[Read more…]

Access to the Absentee Voting Process: The Need for Accessible Electronic Ballot Delivery Systems

By Kenia Flores, NCIL Summer Policy Intern

Photo of Kenia Flores
Photo of Kenia Flores

Voting is one of our fundamental rights as citizens of the United States, and it is an essential element to our democratic framework of government. However, many individuals, particularly those belonging to marginalized groups, are often denied the right to vote.

Most eighteen-year-olds anticipate their eighteenth birthday because they are eager to become a legal adult. However, I eagerly anticipated my eighteenth birthday because I knew I would be voting in my first presidential election. In the 2016 presidential election, twenty-five percent of ballots were cast by mail, and that percentage is expected to increase with many states converting to vote-by-mail entirely. Although vote-by-mail may have its advantages, the process often excludes people with disabilities.

My roommate Claudia and I decided to make the two-hour drive home from our university, located in a different state, to vote at our local polling place. I was able to vote privately and independently at my polling place as guaranteed to me by Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), signed into law on July 26, 1990 by President George H.W. Bush. I left my polling place feeling empowered with a smile on my face and an “I voted” sticker in hand.

Two years later, my experience voting in the 2018 midterm election was drastically different. I am unable to drive, so I was not able to make the two-hour drive home. I could not have utilized public transportation options because it would have meant a 10-hour round-trip commute, forcing me to miss classroom instruction. Thus, my only option was to request an absentee ballot.

[Read more…]

2019 Annual Conference: Pre-Event Registration Ends Friday, July 12!

All pre-event and online registration for NCIL’s 2019 Annual Conference on Independent Living closes this week. All pre-event registrations must be received by Friday, July 12 at 12:00 midnight, Eastern Time.

Individuals may still register onsite, but please note that onsite registration fees differ from standard registration fees and plan accordingly.

Pre-event registration rates:

  • NCIL Member Organization: $265
  • NCIL Individual Member: $335
  • Youth Member: $110 (26 & Under)
  • Non-member: $385
  • Daily Rate: $115 / day (NCIL Members); $160 / day (Non-Members)

Onsite registration rates:

  • NCIL Member Organization: $310
  • NCIL Individual Member: $380
  • Youth Member: $110 (26 & Under)
  • Non-Member: $430
  • Daily Rate: $210 / day

To register, use the NCIL online store, which gives you the ability to register up to three attendees with one transaction and accepts Discover, American Express, Visa, and MasterCard. Registration Forms are also available in (PDFWord, or plain text).

Additional details are available on our conference web page. This year’s Annual Conference on Independent Living is shaping up to be one of the most exciting in recent history, and we can’t wait to see you there!

Logo: 2019 Annual Conference on Independent Living - featuring a white starburst graphic

Surviving Education Trauma: Teacher Abuse of Disabled Students

Content Warning: discussion of abuse (mainly emotional abuse)

Head shot of Eryn Star
Photo of Eryn Star

By Eryn Star, NCIL Summer Policy Intern

In Spring 2018, the first known survey on the prevalence of k-12 teachers abusing students (all kinds of students, not just disabled) was released. It was an online survey from Northern Michigan University directed at a little over 1,000 teachers who were asked about the kinds of abusive behavior they have observed from the teachers around them. The results are important for everyone to see and validate what many education trauma survivors have been saying for years.

When asked how often they have seen teachers yelling at a student and embarrassing them publicly, most of the teachers responded 1-2 times with some responding 3-4 times or even 10 or more times. Never seeing those acts from teachers was rare. When the teachers were asked how many teachers in their school emotionally abuse students, only 14% said none. Furthermore, one in five teachers said that more than 10% of the teachers in their schools regularly target students. As much as we want to believe that educators would never do this to children and teens, teacher abuse of students happens much more often than society is ready to acknowledge and address. What resonated with me and confirmed what I’ve suspected for a long time is that the students targeted most by teachers were those with cognitive impairments with “other” a close second. When “other” respondents were asked to expand on who they witnessed being targeted, 1/3 said students of color, queer students, and English language learners. As an autistic queer student, it reminds me of my own experiences with education trauma.

[Read more…]

Reminder: Apply for the NCIL Youth Scholarship by July 1!

NCIL’s Youth Scholarship is one of the most exciting parts of our annual conference. The Youth Scholarship allows youth with disabilities aged 26 and under to attend the conference at little or no cost to them. NCIL offers three tiers of scholarships:

  • Local – $110 to cover registration for youth based in the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area (including youth who are in the area for summer internships or other programs)
  • Regional – up to $975 to cover registration, travel, and hotel for youth in Region III (DC, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania)
  • National – up to $1,200 to cover registration, travel, and hotel for youth based outside of Region III.

Please note that NCIL does not have the capacity to accept international applicants at this time. Youth under the age of 18 will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

So far in 2019, we have awarded scholarships to nearly 30 youth from across the country. Previous Youth Scholarship recipients have gone on to serve in leadership positions on the NCIL board, get involved in their local CILs, and launch exciting careers in the field of Independent Living! You could be next!

[Read more…]

Information Alert: ACL’s New FAQ Document for CILs

As many of you have seen by now, ACL has released a document entitled FAQ: Allowable Advocacy Activities (Word). The document is intended to describe how CILs can meet federal requirements under the Rehabilitation Act to conduct advocacy without violating federal laws against lobbying with federal funds. We are currently in the process of reviewing this document, but we have major concerns.

Systems advocacy is a core service of Centers for Independent Living, which means CILs are federally mandated to conduct advocacy activities. While understanding what types of advocacy are allowable with federal funds is important, this document demonstrates a clear overreach on the part of ACL. That said, we will not be intimidated, and we will strongly defend the right – and responsibility – of CILs to advocate.

We are currently reviewing this document and considering our response, and we will send out additional information once it is ready. In the meantime, we want to hear from you. We would welcome your thoughts on this document, including any concerns or relevant experiences you would like to share. We also invite you to send any questions you have, and we will respond to those directly or pass them along to ACL with our feedback. Please send your input and questions to Kelly at

Please note: If you are coming to NCIL’s Annual Conference, this document, and concerns and responsibilities regarding advocacy and lobbying will be discussed before the Annual March & Rally and Hill Visits.

CIL-NET Presents… A National On-Location Training: Disability, Diversity, and Intersectionality in CILs

CILs are always striving to reach unserved and underserved populations and to better represent the vibrant, racial, ethnic, linguistic, and multi-cultural communities that we serve. If you would like effective, practical information on how to accomplish this at your CIL, then you simply cannot afford to miss this training. Sign-up today!

At our core, Centers for Independent Living are community-based, civil rights organizations. Sure, we focus on the core services of Independent Living, but disability rights are civil rights, and the Independent Living Movement shares similarities and a siblinghood with other civil rights movements. We have a strong enough foundation in human rights to expand our celebration and inclusion of people with disabilities from other marginalized communities and identities in our organizations.

[Read more…]

Voices of Health Care Media Training for Health Care Storytellers

Voices of Health Care is putting together a media training for health care storytellers next month in Denver (July 20-21, 2019), to teach people how to effectively tell their story, talk to reporters, write letters to the editor, do selfie videos, etc. They hope this will be the first of many, and are accepting up to 50 people. Apply using the link below and spread the word to interested health care activists and people with health care stories to tell.