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

Hot Topics – Old Dogs and New Tricks in Peril: Barriers to Mobility and Transportation

An Update from the NCIL Transportation Subcommittee

For people with disabilities to live independently, getting where they need and want to go is vital. Having accessible, affordable transportation services is essential. There are many barriers to transportation that people with disabilities face daily.

With the passage and implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Air Carriers Access Act, progress has been made, but some of those gains are now in peril. Autonomous Vehicles (AVs or self-driving cars) offer great potential as a way to remove some of the barriers to transportation, as well as making travel safer for everyone. Some states already have driverless cars on the road, but none of them are accessible to people who use wheelchairs or other mobility devices.

Over 75 years ago, Guide Dogs for the Blind was started to provide greater independence for people who are blind. More recently, Service Animals have been trained to assist Deaf people, those with epilepsy, traumatic brain injury and other disabilities. These service animals have expanded travel opportunities for hundreds of thousands of people with disabilities. Support Animals (also called therapy or emotional support animals) are also used by people with a wide variety of disabilities to enable them to be more independent and a part of community life.  [Read more…]

Potential Changes to HUD Mission Statement Causes Concern

Advocate Holds Fair Housing Symbol at 2011 My Medicaid Matters Rally

An Update from the NCIL Housing Subcommittee

Many housing advocates were shocked, speechless, and upset when word came out that Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson was planning to update HUD’s mission statement and remove language relating to housing discrimination and inclusion. This would be a very public statement that HUD no longer considered combating fair housing discrimination against protected classes, including persons with disabilities, a priority. This generated numerous articles, letters, and calls to HUD. NCIL signed on to a letter from the National Fair Housing Alliance (PDF), along with 573 other organizations (164 national organizations; 409 state or local groups; and individuals).

Secretary Carson felt the need to send out a press release and an open letter to HUD employees in an attempt to reassure people that HUD would not abandon combating housing discrimination and fighting for inclusion. He pointed to the idea of fairness, “The ideals of that law, and our continuing work to support them, are really quite simple—fair is fair.”

Unfortunately, different people can have very different idea on what exactly is “fair,” which is why NCIL and other organizations will continue to monitor HUD’s work on updating its mission statement and, more importantly, HUD’s continued effectiveness in combating housing discrimination.

The Center for Disability Rights Launches the Free Our People Film Contest

The Free Our People Film Contest is one way in which The Center for Disability Rights (CDR) is working to dismantle the systems that keep people locked away in nursing homes.

Thus, CDR is inviting any and all filmmaking enthusiasts to participate in its film contest, in order to garner stories of how the institutional bias has impacted members of every community. The film contest will last two months and will accept both documentary and narrative films. A panel of judges with a range of expertise in film, entertainment and disability advocacy will evaluate the entries and prizes will be awarded. The first, second and third place entries will receive a variety of prizes that include mentoring sessions with accomplished film professionals including Wendy Calhoun (co-executive producer of EMPIRE), $1000 and $500 cash prizes, travel funding, and filmmaking software. Two honorable mention spots will also have their films included in CDR’s upcoming film festival, scheduled for summer of 2018. The contest organizers would like to thank the following sponsors for providing these prizes: Dramatica, Scrivener, Mariner Software, Jungle Software, and The Center for Disability Rights.

The Free Our People Film Contest is exciting because it centers disabled experiences and the perspectives of people with disabilities in the whole filmmaking process,” said last year’s first place winner, Cheryl Green. “It’s such an honor to be recognized for filmmaking that doesn’t cater to non-disabled people. This contest and festival gave me the opportunity to challenge myself as an artist while confronting the hugely complex issues around institutional bias against people with disabilities.” Read more at cdrnys.org.

HCBS Business Acumen Center Website

NASUAD is pleased to announce the HCBS Business Acumen Resource Center’s new website, HCBSBusinessAcumen.org!

HCBS Business Acumen Center LogoThe HCBS Business Acumen Center is a resource center for community-based organizations (CBOs) that serve individuals with disabilities. The resource center provides tools, resources and examples of promising practices that promote the sustainability of disability-focused CBOs. The HCBS Business Acumen Center is designed to help organizations expand their payer portfolio with managed care organizations (MCOs), accountable care organizations (ACOs), healthcare systems, cities, counties, private pay clients and others. Through the HCBS Business Acumen Center, CBOs can receive training, technical assistance, resources and examples of promising practices from CBOs across the country and from a learning collaborative comprised of state departments, disability-focused CBOs and MCOs currently working together to address state-specific opportunities in a changing long-term services and supports delivery system.

The new HCBS Business Acumen Center website serves as a hub of information about the HCBS Business Acumen Center, its initiatives, resources, and how you can get involved.

Visit HCBSBusinessAcumen.org to explore resources, information, and more!

Registration Now Open for NCIL’s 2018 Annual Conference!

Mobilize - Resistance through Action: 2018 Annual Conference on Independent Living. Graphic features an arrow striking a heart over the letters "IL" and a target that replaces the "o" in "Mobilize"Later this week, NCIL will publish our Annual Conference Guide with complete details on this year’s Conference, but you can also find the information you need to plan your trip right now at ncil.org.

Visit our 2018 Annual Conference web page for:

  • Complete registration details
  • Hotel information and reservations links
  • Basic Conference Agenda

All registrations received and paid before April 27, 2018 are eligible for the Early Bird registration rates.

CIL-NET Presents… A National Teleconference & Webinar: Preventing Guardianship – How CILs Can Be the Frontline to Advocate for Less Restrictive Alternatives

May 23, 2018; 3:00 – 4:30 p.m. Eastern

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

IL-NET Logo - CIL-NET + SILC-NETGuardianship is the legal authority to make decisions for another individual. Independent Living philosophy is grounded in the unwavering belief that people with disabilities must have the authority to make decisions about their own lives. CILs can and should help consumers avoid guardianship. Not only is it an important civil rights issue, but helping consumers maintain their self-determination dovetails perfectly with the new CIL core services of transition, diversion, and support for youth in transition. Our presenters will share statistics about guardianship decisions, describe how guardianship prohibits the independence and civil rights of people with disabilities, and how you can help consumers pursue practical alternatives to guardianship, like supported decision making.

You don’t want to miss this important discussion. Sign up today!

Registration 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 teleconference or webinar.

Target Audience: CIL Executive directors, program managers, and other staff concerned with the impact of guardianship on independent living goals.  [Read more…]

Quick Turnaround: Urge Your Representative to Support the Request for Independent Living Funding!

Note: NCIL sent out the below alert on Friday and again this morning encouraging NCIL members to urge your Representatives to sign on to Representative Hanabusa’s letter of request for increased Independent Living funding. Please note that this is a Congressional letter. Only members of Congress can sign this letter. CILs, SILCs, and other organizations cannot sign this letter. Please see below for the original alert and please continue contacting your Representatives!

Congress is now working on FY 2019 appropriations, and this year’s fight is more important than ever. With Congress intent on slashing funding and the Administration’s budget proposal to cut IL funding, advocacy from our community and our allies in Congress is critical!

We are very excited to inform you that this week, Representative Hanabusa (HI) sent a Dear Colleague letter to the entire House of Representatives asking them to join her in supporting an increase in funding for the Independent Living Program. Once signatures have been received, Representative Hanabusa will submit a letter to Chairman Cole (OK) and Ranking Member DeLauro (CT) of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (L-HHS-Ed) to formally request increased funding for the Independent Living Program in FY 2019. So far, Representatives Norton (DC) and Sablan (CNMI) have already signed on, and we need to get as many more supporters as possible by Wednesday, March 14, 2018!

Read the Dear Colleague letter from Representative Hanabusa and the text for the request to Chairman Cole and Ranking Member DeLauro.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingTake Action!

The Independent Living Program is a vital, cost-effective program that has been grossly underfunded for years. We need your help to get as many other Representatives as possible to sign-on! Contact your Representative TODAY and urge them to sign on to Representative Hanabusa’s Independent Living Appropriations request. Make sure you Representative knows how vital the Independent Living Program is to you, and how much the CILs in their state do for their disabled constituents!

All Representatives can be reached by the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or (202) 224-3091 (TTY), and you can find your Representative’s direct DC and local office numbers as well as other contact information at Contacting Congress. You can also use Resistbot to turn texts into faxes, mail, or hand-delivered letters.

The deadline to sign-on is Wednesday, March 14.

If your Representative has any questions or wants more information, they can contact Elizabeth Songvilay at Representative Hanabusa’s office at Elizabeth.Songvilay@mail.house.gov.

2018 Youth Scholarship Applications Now Open!

Mobilize - Resistance through Action: 2018 Annual Conference on Independent Living. Graphic features an arrow striking a heart over the letters "IL" and a target that replaces the "o" in "Mobilize"As NCIL’s 2018 Annual Conference on Independent Living draws near, many youth with disabilities may be unsure of how they will fund a conference experience. Attending a national conference like this is hugely important in the life of a young person. Opportunities for networking with other young people and connecting with disabled mentors can enrich the experience of youth with disabilities and help them to learn that anything is possible for them and their futures.

The NCIL Youth Scholarship is here to help offset the cost of conference attendance. Local, regional, and national scholarships are available.

Instructions on how to apply and specifications regarding applicants are available at the Youth Scholarship Application Form.

The deadline to apply is April 30, 2018. If you have any questions or concerns, please email Youth Transitions Fellow Hindley Williams at hindley@ncil.org.

Please share this announcement with your networks. We want to share this opportunity with as many youth as possible. If you would like to donate to the Youth Scholarship Fund, please email NCIL Development Coordinator Cara Liebowitz at cara@ncil.org.

Take Action to Save MFP – New National Days of Action This Week!

Your actions in early February to ask the Senate to #FundMFP made a big impact, and now it is time to once again take action to make the EMPOWER Care Act law!

As a reminder, Money Follows the Person (MFP) expired on September 30, 2016, and states are starting to scale back and end their MFP programs. All programs will be out of money this year! We need your advocacy to get the House and Senate to pass the EMPOWER Care Act to reauthorize and fund MFP!

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingMFP was enacted in 2005 with strong bipartisan support. It was designed to help states transition people with disabilities from institutions to the community, and to assist states in rebalancing their long-term services and supports (LTSS) systems to increase access to home and community-based services. MFP is one of the longest running, most successful Medicaid demonstrations. Since it began, 47 states have participated and over 75,000 disabled people have been liberated from institutions, and Centers for Independent Living (CILs) have played a critical role in that. Congress must work to save and fund MFP, and they need to hear from us! The EMPOWER Care Act has already been introduced by Senators Portman (R-OH) and Cantwell (D-WA) in the Senate (S. 2227), and it’s expected to be introduced in the House by Representatives by Guthrie (R-KY) and Dingell (D-MI) this week. Please urge your Senators and Representative to continue the Money Follows the Person program by supporting the EMPOWER Care Act!

Take Action Now!

  • Participate in Wednesday’s National Call-In Day! Call your Representative and Senators and tell them to support the EMPOWER Care Act and pass it immediately! Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or (202) 224-3091 (TTY). Find more information at Wednesday’s Facebook event. RSVP and share widely!
  • Participate in Thursday’s National Social Media Day! Tweet at your Representative and Senators and post on Facebook. Find their Twitter handles and other contact information on Contacting Congress. Make sure to use the hashtag #FundMFP in your posts. You can find more information, including sample Tweets, at Thursday’s Facebook event.
  • Email your members of Congress! You can customize a message to your members of Congress and see the data on responses.
  • Highlight MFP in the press! Arrange press interviews highlighting the stories of folks who were able to move home because of MFP, or individuals who are stuck in institutions and would benefit from MFP’s extension. Media coverage can be key to gaining the support of members of Congress AND the public. If you successfully get the press to cover MFP, please send a link of the coverage to lindsay@ncil.org.

Spring 2018 NCIL Legislative & Advocacy Priorities Booklet Now Available!

The spring edition of NCIL’s Legislative & Advocacy Priorities is now available at the NCIL website.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingThis document contains specific information on the national legislative and policy priorities identified biannually by the NCIL membership, including funding for the Independent Living Program, healthcare and long-term care, housing, transportation, education, and more.

Please share this document with your Center or SILC staff, board, and the Senators and Representatives who serve your districts.

Contact NCIL for further information on the issues discussed in this document.