Monday, May 23, 2016

Illinois Human Services as an Economic Engine Throughout Illinois, May 2016 Report

May 23, 2016 -- The following article and information is shared from the wonderful Illinois Partners for Human Service, which is excited to release their report (posted below) on "Human Services as an Economic Engine" Research Report. 


                                                       

Read the exclusive coverage in Crain's Chicago Business below:

Crain's Chicago BusinessGreg Hinz on Politics, May 23, 2016

The budget war's hidden $4.5 billion problem

As Springfield nears the end of another budget season-without a budget-in which social-service groups again are likely to get the shaft. A coalition of such groups is releasing a solid analysis of what's at stake economically-and not just statewide, but in the district of every member of the General Assembly.
A new report (posted below) I've obtained exclusively from Illinois Partners for Human Service says agencies serving the disabled, elderly, poor and others collectively are responsible for $3.1 billion a year in direct spending and $1.4 billion in secondary spending. They employ 3.5 percent of the state's workforce, roughly 169,000 people; and generate $597 million annually in state and local taxes.
Not to mention the value of the services to their recipients.
What's really fascinating, though, is that such spending, proportionally, tends to be concentrated not so much in Chicago and nearby suburbs, but in rural Downstate areas.
For instance, the report says the Cook County has 262 poor persons and 160 disabled persons for every agency serving their needs. But that ratio is two to three times higher in areas such as Hancock County along the Mississippi River, Pike County west of Springfield and Massac County at the southern tip of the state. 
Human service workers make up 2.9 percent of the workforce in Cook County but 4.3 percent in Gallatin County, 5.3 percent in Hardin County, 3.9 percent in Johnson County and 4.8 percent in Lawrence County, for instance.
And by Senate district, just five of the top 20 areas ranked by the economic impact of social service spending are located in Chicago, with six having Republicans serving as their senator. Among those is the district of Senate GOP Leader Christine Radogno of Lamont, ranked 13th, with $73 million of such spending a year and 3,311 employees.
All of this occurs, the report says, even though such workers make well below what they'd garner in another line of business-even degree holders earning a median hourly wage of $16.61, compared to $26.14 for college grads generally.
"As a coalition of over 850 community organizations, Illinois Partners for Human Service understands that human services are the pillars that uphold healthy, vibrant communities," Executive Director Judith Gethner says in a forward. "Evidence suggests that human services make a major contribution to Illinois," she adds, yet the state has been imposing cuts and flat rates, when money is made available at all.
Some social service spending is on autopilot during the budget standoff between Gov. Bruce Rauner and Springfield Democrats. But other groups are owed hundreds of millions of dollars a year, and have gone to court in a bid to spring free their money.
The report was prepared by local demographer Rob Paral and by the Public Policy Center at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth.
http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20160523/BLOGS02/160529965/the-budget-wars-hidden-4-5-billion-problem
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People with Intellectual Disabilities, Study Finds are Vulnerable To Online Victimization

People with intellectual disabilities are more susceptible to exploitation and abuse, and the rise of the Internet only increases their vulnerability.

A first-of-its-kind study co-authored by a Michigan State University scholar finds that adults with Williams syndrome -- who are extremely social and trusting -- use Facebook and other social networking sites frequently and are especially vulnerable to online victimization.
Roughly a third of study participants said they would send their photo to an unknown person, arrange to go to the home of a person they met online and keep online relationships from their parents.
"You have this very social group of people who are vulnerable in real life and now they are seeking a social outlet through the Internet, communicating with people they know and don't know," said Marisa Fisher, MSU assistant professor of special education. "They don't have the training or the knowledge to know how to determine what is risky behavior."
The study, co-authored by Fisher and Emma Lough, a doctoral student at Durham University in the United Kingdom, is published online in the Journal of Intellectual Disability Research.
Williams syndrome is a relatively rare genetic disorder characterized by developmental delays, learning disabilities, excessively social personalities and an affinity for music. Many adults with the syndrome live with their parents or other caregivers.
Fisher has studied Williams syndrome for more than a decade. She also directs an annual music camp for people with the syndrome that's hosted by the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center in Nashville, Tenn., and supported by the ACM Lifting Lives Foundation.
A 2013 study led by Fisher found that people with Williams syndrome, autism and Down syndrome experienced extremely high rates of real-world teasing and bullying, theft and abuse. The current study is the first to investigate the online risk of victimization for adults with Williams syndrome.
Nearly 86 percent of adults with Williams syndrome use social networking sites such as Facebook nearly every day, typically without supervision, the study found. Participants also share a large amount of identifiable information on their social network profiles and are likely to agree to engage in socially risky behaviors.
Fisher is developing a social skills program for people with Williams syndrome that includes appropriate online behavior and safety. Her research suggests people with the syndrome can learn to say no to strangers, refuting past studies that indicated sociability may be hard-wired in individuals with Williams syndrome.
While the Internet provides an opportunity to enhance the everyday lives of adults with Williams syndrome, it also poses threats that are arguably more dangerous than those they face in the real world, the study concludes.
"It's time to start teaching individuals with Williams syndrome about safety, both in the real world and online," Fisher said. "This includes what personal information they should share, how to set privacy settings and how to decide whether an 'online friend' should become an 'offline friend.'"

Story Source:
The above post is reprinted from materials provided by Michigan State UniversityNote: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Journal Reference:
  1. E. Lough, M. H. Fisher. Internet use and online safety in adults with Williams syndromeJournal of Intellectual Disability Research, 2016; DOI: 10.1111/jir.12281
Date:
May 19, 2016
Source:
Michigan State University
Summary:
People with intellectual disabilities are more susceptible to exploitation and abuse, and the rise of the internet only increases their vulnerability, say researchers.
above article first appeared May, 2016 in Science Daily:
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/05/160519120928.htm

Webinar May 25th: for Social Security Disability Beneficiaries Interested in Going Back to Work

“Ticket to Work for People with a Mental Illness: Support on Your Journey to Employment,” will be held this Wednesday, May 25, 2016 from 3 – 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time. 

Register for this webinar if you receive Social Security disability benefits, and want to learn about going back to work or getting a job for the first time. You’ll find information about how the Ticket to Work program can help you achieve your employment goals. The webinar will also explain reasonable accommodations for people living with mental illness and how they can help you succeed at work.
Register online or call 1-866-968-7842 (TTY: 1-866-833-2967).

Friday, May 20, 2016

Access Performances for “Tug of War: Foreign Fire” at Chicago Shakespeare Theater June 3 & 5

Enjoy an Access Shakespeare Performance at Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Tug of War: Foreign Fire
Edward III, Henry V, Henry VI Part 1
by William Shakespeare
adapted and directed by Barbara Gaines

                      

Open-Captioned: Friday, June 3, 5:00 p.m. 
Audio-Described: Sunday, June 5, 1:00 p.m.


Get ready for the ultimate game of thrones in Tug of War: Foreign Fire with tickets ranging from our full price of $100 to as low as $60 for patrons whose disability requires the use of the service (plus one companion) through our “Pay-What-You-Can” Access Shakespeare program. Named Time Out Chicago ’s Best Chicago Theater to see this month, Artistic Director Barbara Gaines takes audiences on a riveting gallop through two centuries, distilling six Shakespeare masterworks into two action-packed dramas fueled by stunning staging that trace the rise and fall of kings, and the uncommon courage of common men. The adventure begins with Edward IIIHenry V and Henry VI, Part 1 in Foreign Fire, where France is the prize. The action continues in the fall when turmoil seizes England in Civil Strife, featuring Henry VI, Parts 2 + 3 and Richard IIIPurchase your tickets in advance by calling 312.595.5600.

For more information, please visit www.chicagoshakes.com/tugofwar_foreignfire.

Reserved dinner seating in our lobbies will be available to those who purchase a boxed meal in advance. If you would prefer to BYO, let us know when you make your ticket reservation, and we'll be sure to reserve convenient lobby seating for you, as well.

All in all, Foreign Fire and Civil Strife are each approximately 6 hours, including several intermissions and a meal break. Reserved dinner seating in our lobbies will be available to those who purchase a box meal in advance.

Twitter
#Access Shakespeare Performances! Action-packed, music-filled theatrical event #cstTUGOFWAR @chicagoshakes Details: http://bit.ly/1WvJBBg

#cstTUGOFWAR @chicagoshakes Open-captioned on June 3 & Audio-described on June 5 http://bit.ly/1WvJBBg

Chicago Shakespeare Theater
Address: 800 E Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60611
Phone: (312) 595-5600

 Chicago Shakespeare Theater is wheelchair accessible for all events.

Justice Dept Reaches Extension Agreement to Improve Georgia’s Developmental Disability and Mental Health System

from a Press Release on May 18, 2016

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs
The Justice Department today announced that it has entered into an extension agreement with the state of Georgia to improve the quality and availability of services for people with developmental disabilities living in the community and to provide supported housing to individuals with significant mental illness who need it.
The extension agreement builds upon a 2010 settlement agreement resolving a lawsuit brought by the department under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Supreme Court’s Olmstead decision.  The case involves Georgia’s provision of community services for individuals with mental illness and developmental disabilities.  The department found in 2009 that Georgia was forcing people with disabilities into state hospitals instead of providing community-based services, in violation of the ADA’s integration requirements.  In January, the department alleged that Georgia was not in compliance with the 2010 agreement, both regarding helping people move from institutions into their communities and regarding quality and oversight of community-based services.  In light of the agreement and the significant commitments Georgia has made in it, the department has agreed to withdraw its motion to enforce that earlier agreement.
The agreement will resolve the seven areas of alleged deficiency  identified by the department in its January court filing.  Under the agreement, Georgia will help people with developmental disabilities move from its state hospitals to integrated settings, consistent with their needs and preferences; will identify and address each individual’s needs in the community prior to discharge; and will monitor services and track outcomes for people after their discharge.  For individuals who have moved from the state hospitals to the community, Georgia will monitor their health and wellbeing to ensure that emerging needs are met in a timely fashion.  The extension agreement also calls for creation of at least 675 new Medicaid home- and community-based waiver slots as alternatives to placement in a facility.  Georgia will provide clinical oversight and enhanced support coordination for individuals with developmental disabilities served by the state.
The extension agreement enhances quality oversight, requiring specific actions in the event of serious incidents and corrective actions to address deficiencies.  The state will collect and review data to identify any trends and develop quality improvement initiatives.  In addition, Georgia will require providers to develop risk management and quality improvement programs.
Under the agreement, at least 600 additional individuals with mental illness will receive bridge funding and at least 633 will receive housing vouchers under the Georgia housing voucher program.  By June 30, 2018, the state is to have capacity to provide supported housing to any of the people with mental illness covered by the settlement agreement that need it.  The extension agreement requires a referral procedure to supported housing for people who need it leaving the state hospitals, jails, prisons, emergency rooms or homeless shelters.
“By strengthening the services provided by Georgia’s mental health system, this agreement will make a difference in the lives of Georgians with developmental disabilities or mental illness who wish to build lives in the community,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.  “We look forward to working with Georgia to deliver on the promise of community integration enshrined in the ADA.”
“During the past five years, the State of Georgia has significantly changed the way it provides services for people with disabilities,” said U.S Attorney John A. Horn of the Northern District of Georgia.  “Recognizing that we have more work to do in this area, I am encouraged by Georgia’s willingness to continue to partner with the Department of Justice and stakeholders to improve the quality of services for people with developmental disabilities and significant mental illness in our community.”
The Civil Rights Division enforces the ADA, which authorizes the Attorney General to investigate whether a state is serving individuals in the most integrated settings appropriate to their needs.  Please visit www.justice.gov/crt to learn more about the Olmstead decision, the ADA and other laws enforced by the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.
The agreement was secured due to the efforts of Civil Rights Division’s Special Litigation Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of Georgia.  
https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-reaches-extension-agreement-improve-georgia-s-developmental-disability-and

Justice Dept Reaches Agreement with Philadelphia-Area YMCA to Ensure Equal Opportunities for Children with Diabetes

from a Press Release on May 19, 2016

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

Justice Department Reaches Agreement with Philadelphia-Area YMCA to Ensure Equal Opportunities for Children with Diabetes
The Justice Department reached a settlement agreement today with the Philadelphia Freedom Valley YMCA – Rocky Run Branch to resolve allegations that it violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by denying a child the opportunity to participate in after-school and summer camp programs because of her type 1 diabetes.
Title III of the ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by public accommodations, including private camps and childcare programs.  Under the ADA, such entities must make reasonable modifications to their policies, practices or procedures when necessary to provide equal access to a child with a disability, unless a modification would fundamentally alter the nature of the goods and services.  When a parent and a child’s physician determine that it is appropriate for a trained layperson to assist a child with diabetes care, a camp or childcare program must provide this as a reasonable modification under the ADA, unless doing so would fundamentally alter the program.
The Philadelphia Freedom Valley YMCA – Rocky Run Branch refused to perform diabetes related tasks, including administering glucagon in the event of a low blood glucose level emergency and supervising the child to self-administer insulin.  YMCA also limited the child’s participation in the after-school program by allowing her to attend only until 4:00 p.m., even though the program ran until 6:00 p.m.  Finally, YMCA asked the child’s parents to supply an aide to monitor the child in the summer day camp program.
“After-school and camp programs enable children to learn and socialize with their friends, and enable parents to ensure that their children are well-cared for, and YMCAs are one of the key providers parents turn to for that care,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.  “Such providers may not exclude children with disabilities, and the Department of Justice will continue to aggressively fight all forms of discrimination that deny children with disabilities the protections and opportunities they deserve.”
Under the terms of the agreement, the YMCA will:
• adopt a non-discrimination policy;
• develop a sample diabetes medical management plan;
• remove unnecessary inquiries from its application materials that tend to screen out individuals with disabilities;
• train its staff on the ADA and diabetes management;
• provide information for parents on how to request modifications for children with disabilities;
•designate an ADA compliance officer who will monitor compliance with the agreement and review requests for reasonable modifications, among other duties; and
• report annually to the United States on its compliance. 
ADA enforcement is a top priority of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.  Those interested in finding out more about this settlement or the obligations of camps and child care programs under the ADA may call the Justice Department’s toll-free ADA information line at 800-514-0301 or 800-514-0383 (TDD), or access its ADA website at www.ada.gov.  ADA complaints may be filed online at http://www.ada.gov/complaint/.
https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-reaches-agreement-philadelphia-area-ymca-ensure-equal-opportunities

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Webinar (May 24): Testing of Accessibility for Websites and Documents for Compliance with Section 508

Section 508 Best Practices Webinar: The Basics of Manual and Automatic Testing for Section 508 

The next webinar in the Section 508 Best Practices Webinar Series will take place May 24 from 1:00 to 2:30 (ET) and will cover the basics of testing websites and documents for compliance with Section 508 Standards. Presenters will review both manual and automatic testing and explain how they work and the pros and cons of each type.

For more details or to register for this free webinar, visit www.accessibilityonline.org. Registration closes 24 hours before the start of the session.

The Section 508 Best Practices Webinar Series provides helpful information and best practices for federal agencies in meeting their obligations under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act which ensures access to electronic and information technology in the federal sector. This webinar series is made available by the Accessibility Community of Practice of the CIO Council in partnership with the U.S. Access Board.
Section 508 Best Practices: The Basics of Manual and Automatic Testing for Section 508   
May 24, 2016, 1:00- 2:30 (ET)    
Presenters: • Don Barrett, Section 508 Coordinator, Department of Education
• Tim Creagan, Senior Accessibility Specialist, U.S. Access Board
• Katherine Eng, Section 508 Testing Program Lead, DOJ Assistive Technology Resource Center
• Alex Koudry, Director, Center for Information Technology Access, GSA
• Dave Stenger, Senior Management Specialist, Section 508 SME, GSA
• Deborah Kaplan, Section 508 Policy Lead, Office of the CIO, HHS (moderator)
Registration: www.accessibilityonline.org
Note: Registration closes 24 hours before the start of the session. Instructions for accessing the webinar on the day of the session will be sent via email to registered individuals in advance of the session. Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) and Video Sign Language Interpreters are available for each session and will be broadcast via the webinar platform. A telephone option (not toll-free) for receiving audio is also available.

Affordable Care Act final rule includes access for interpreters for Deaf people

The Federal government has a new rule that beginning on July 18, 2016, all healthcare, dental care, behavioral care and other healthcare providers that get any money (like Medicare or Medicaid) from the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS) are required to consult with Deaf people to ask for your preferred method of communication. If you prefer an on-site interpreter, an interpreter through video remote interpreting, CART or formats, providers must provide you with what you prefer. There are limited exceptions, like if it is too expensive. That exception will only work if the financial resources of the medical practice, group practice, hospital or healthcare system, are such that they can't afford an interpreter or the assistance you need. The new rule also contains other anti-discrimination requirements as outlined below.

# # #
from a Press Release on May 13, 2016
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

HHS finalizes rule to improve health equity under the Affordable Care Act

Final rule prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability; enhances language assistance for individuals with limited English proficiency; and protects individuals with disabilities
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today issued a final rule to advance health equity and reduce health care disparities. Under the rule, individuals are protected from discrimination in health care on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability and sex, including discrimination based on pregnancy, gender identity and sex stereotyping. In addition to implementing Section 1557’s prohibition on sex discrimination, the final rule also enhances language assistance for people with limited English proficiency and helps to ensure effective communication for individuals with disabilities. The protections in the final rule and Section 1557 regarding individuals’ rights and the responsibilities of many health insurers, hospitals, and health plans administered by or receiving federal funds from HHS build on existing federal civil rights laws to advance protections for underserved, underinsured, and often excluded populations.
The Nondiscrimination in Health Programs and Activities final rule implements Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, which is the first federal civil rights law to broadly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex in federally funded health programs. Previously, civil rights laws enforced by HHS’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) broadly barred discrimination based only on race, color, national origin, disability, or age.
“A central goal of the Affordable Care Act is to help all Americans access quality, affordable health care.  Today’s announcement is a key step toward realizing equity within our health care system and reaffirms this Administration's commitment to giving every American access to the health care they deserve," said HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell.
The final rule helps consumers who are seeking to understand their rights and clarifies the responsibilities of health care providers and insurers that receive federal funds. The final rule also addresses the responsibilities of issuers that offer plans in the Health Insurance Marketplaces. Among other things, the final rule prohibits marketing practices or benefit designs that discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability. The final rule also prohibits discriminatory practices by health care providers, such as hospitals that accept Medicare or doctors who participate in the Medicaid program. 
The final rule prohibits sex discrimination in health care including by:
  • Requiring that women must be treated equally with men in the health care they receive.  Other provisions of the ACA bar certain types of sex discrimination in insurance, for example by prohibiting women from being charged more than men for coverage.  Under Section 1557, women are protected from discrimination not only in the health coverage they obtain but in the health services they seek from providers.
  • Prohibiting denial of health care or health coverage based on an individual’s sex, including discrimination based on pregnancy, gender identity, and sex stereotyping. 
It also includes important protections for individuals with disabilities and enhances language assistance for people with limited English proficiency including by:
  • Requiring covered entities to make electronic information and newly constructed or altered facilities accessible to individuals with disabilities and to provide appropriate auxiliary aids and services for individuals with disabilities.
  • Requiring covered entities to take reasonable steps to provide meaningful access to individuals with limited English proficiency.  Covered entities are also encouraged to develop language access plans.
While the final rule does not resolve whether discrimination on the basis of an individual’s sexual orientation status alone is a form of sex discrimination under Section 1557, the rule makes clear that OCR will evaluate complaints that allege sex discrimination related to an individual’s sexual orientation to determine if they involve the sorts of stereotyping that can be addressed under 1557. HHS supports prohibiting sexual orientation discrimination as a matter of policy and will continue to monitor legal developments on this issue.
The final rule states that where application of any requirement of the rule would violate applicable Federal statutes protecting religious freedom and conscience, that application will not be required.
For more information about Section 1557, including factsheets on key provisions and frequently asked questions, visit http://www.hhs.gov/civil-rights/for-individuals/section-1557.
To learn more about non-discrimination and health information privacy laws, your civil rights, and privacy rights in health care and human service settings, and to find information on how to file a complaint, visit us at www.hhs.gov/ocr.
http://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2016/05/13/hhs-finalizes-rule-to-improve-health-equity-under-affordable-care-act.html

Hillary Clinton calls to raise wages for disabled Americans who earn pennies per hour, but some disagree

Hillary Clinton’s call to raise the minimum wage for disabled Americans who earn pennies per hour has families and caregivers fiercely debating whether the real benefit of the jobs comes from pay or an intangible sense of self-worth. 

  
Members of the National Federation of the Blind and other advocacy groups for the disabled demonstrate outside SourceAmerica headquarters in Vienna, Virginia, on Aug. 28, 2014.
 
Photographer: Pete Marovich/Bloomberg


article by Elise Young, Bloomberg News | May 17, 2016
The lower pay, permitted by a policy in place since 1938, has been scrapped for federally contracted employees, and Clinton and Bernie Sanders say states should do the same. The issue, with shades of the national row over raising the minimum wage to $15, is hardly one of economics alone. It pits individuals' capability and dignity against a business model built on a cheap labor pool willing, day in and day out, to stuff envelopes or fold bath towels.

"This is so wrongheaded, to make the assumption that this model should be trashed for everybody," said Jane Bernstein, a Carnegie-Mellon University professor of English, whose intellectually impaired daughter, Rachel, 32, earns a few hundred dollars a year working five days a week. "More capable workers should transition, should find jobs in a more inclusive situation, but why ruin it for everyone else?"

Jobs Killer 
More than 25 years after the Americans With Disabilities Act prohibited job discrimination, some disabled workers and their advocates say the enduring sub-minimum wage treats a vulnerable population as second-class citizens. Like those who say the $15 minimum movement is a jobs killer, though, critics fear that raising pay for disabled workers will doom the non-profit community groups that run most job sites, snuffing not only the paychecks, but also the social atmosphere and the supportive services that are part of the work day.

As many as 241,000 workers earn less than $7.25, the national minimum, because their intellectual or developmental disabilities, such as autism and Down syndrome, have an impact on job performance, according to U.S. Labor Department data. Most have positions in segregated workshops that solicit contracts for light assembly and other simple, redundant tasks.

The National Council on Disability, the federal agency that drafted the 1990 landmark anti-discrimination act, recommended in 2012 that the sub-minimum wage for people with disabilities be discontinued. Two years later, President Barack Obama signed an executive order ending the practice for those working under federal contracts. Now, Democratic presidential candidates are hammering the 78-year-old legal loophole.

Minimum Pay 

"Right now there is a tiered wage when it comes to facilities that do provide opportunities, but not at a self-sufficient wage that enables people to gain a degree of independence as far as they can go," Clinton said at the University of Wisconsin on March 28. Sanders also said the practice should be discontinued in a statement a week later, as Governors Andrew Cuomo of New York and Jerry Brown of California signed legislation raising hourly minimum pay to $15.

The press office of Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, didn't respond to an e-mail seeking comment. He drew condemnation from disabled people and their advocates in November when he mimicked a news reporter's physical impairment during a speech.

Warren Gunnels, Sanders' policy director, and Michael Briggs, his communications director, didn't respond to e-mailed requests for comment on criticism of the higher wages. Neither did Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon.

New Hampshire banned the sub-minimum wage last year, a step taken in 2003 by Vermont, and legislation in Maryland is on the desk of Republican Governor Larry Hogan. In February, an administrative law judge ruled that three disabled workers in Ohio, making an average $2.50 per hour, were entitled to the state minimum, currently $8.10, plus $54,000 in damages and back pay.

McDonald’s meal 

"The argument that's made by the workshops is something to the effect of: Well, this gives these folks something to do. It gives them dignity. It gives them pride in their work," Chris Danielsen, a spokesman for the Baltimore-based National Federation of the Blind, whose research of labor department data has found wages of 3 cents per hour. "I really question how much pride you're going to have in your work if you get your paycheck and discover that your pay isn't even going to buy a McDonald's meal."

Rep. Gregg Harper, R-Mississippi, whose adult son has an intellectual disability caused by Fragile X Syndrome, has been trying since 2011 to end the sub-minimum policy, contained in a section of the Fair Labor Standards Act that he called "enacted out of ignorance regarding the true capacity of people with disabilities."

"Segregated, sub-minimum wage work is just an expression of low expectations that instills a false sense of incapacity in individuals who could become competitively employed with the proper training and support," Harper said in a statement after he re-introduced the legislation on Jan. 7, 2015.

Not Easy 

The bill would require transitioning workers to jobs in a typical workplace, alongside non-disabled employees, at competitive wages.

Similar efforts haven't gone so smoothly in places like Maine, which ordered a phase-out of disabled workshops starting in 2008. Two-thirds of those onetime employees didn't find other paid positions, according to a June 2015 study by George Washington University, and enrollment in daycare and other programs soared to 3,178, from 550.

"In many instances, they would have to go back home to Mom and Dad if they have a Mom and Dad," said Terry Farmer, chief executive officer of Accses, a Washington-based group that lobbies for organizations that run workshops and other services for the disabled.

In New Jersey, 50-year-old Joshua Handler, who has cerebral palsy, is among those looking for paid work. Adept with computers, Handler did data entry in a workshop job that lasted three or four years. He enjoyed another position, at a hydroponic greenhouse that trains workers for jobs with restaurants and other private employers, but hasn't found a career that he likes.

"I'm valuable to everybody that I've worked with," said Handler, who is volunteering at a garden and a library. "If I was to get minimum wage, I would be happy with it."

http://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2016-05-17/disabled-earn-pennies-as-caregivers-debate-clinton-s-raise-plan

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

U.S. Access Board Webinar: Vertical Access (June 2)


International Symbol of Accessibility wiith up and down arrowsThe next webinar in the U.S. Access Board's free monthly series will take place June 2 from 2:30 – 4:00 (ET) and cover vertical access, a key component of accessibility between changes in level along accessible routes. The session will address where vertical access is required (or exempted) in the ADA and ABA Accessibility Standards and how it can be achieved. Presenters will review requirements in the standards for ramps, curb ramps, elevators, and platform lifts, clarify common sources of confusion, and address questions submitted in advance or posed during the session.

Visit www.accessibilityonline.org for more information or to register for the webinar. Questions can be submitted in advance of the session (total limited to 25) or can be posed during the webinar. Webinar attendees can earn continuing education credits. The webinar series is hosted by the ADA National Network in cooperation with the Board. Archived copies of previous Board webinars are available on the site.

Action Alert: Stop Congress from Chipping Away at the ADA! Hearing on May 19th, 2016

The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) has shared a Action Alert, the U.S. Congress is holding a hearing Thursday. May, 19th that could limit the ability to file ADA complaints - which would limit, and weaken the Americans with Disabilities Act! 

PLEASE CONTACT YOUR MEMBER OF THE U.S. CONGRESS - FIND YOUR REPRESENTATIVE!

The proposed bill, H.R. 3765, would make it a criminal offense to make any statement about enforcing our ADA rights unless we follow a very particular pre-notice process. So it makes you a criminal for demanding your civil rights.

# # #

AAPD - Power Logo

Action Alert!

Stop Congress from chipping away at our rights
Oppose HR 3765

 

Tomorrow the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice is holding a hearing on HR 3765 – the ADA Education and Reform Act of 2015. AAPD and our partners in the Disability Rights Movement oppose this legislation because it will chip away at the hard-fought victory of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The proposed legislation would prohibit, and subject violators to a criminal fine for, sending demand letters alleging a violation of the ADA with regard to public accommodations. This bill seeks to limit the power of the ADA and reduce compliance with the law.
Hearing: HR 3765

Examining Legislation to Promote the Effective Enforcement of the ADA’s Public Accommodation Provisions


Thursday, May 19th
9:00am ET
Rayburn House Office Building, Room 2141
Almost 26 years ago, the ADA was enacted as a compromise between the disability and business communities. The disability community gave up the ability to receive damages from failure to comply with the federal ADA by only allowing injunctive relief and attorney’s fees for violations of the law with the understanding state and local governments and property owners of public spaces would comply with the regulations. Unfortunately, almost 26 years after enactment, there are still organizations, businesses, and companies who have yet to comply with this important civil rights law for persons with disabilities.

Kelly Buckland (Executive Director of the National Council on Independent Living and AAPD Board Member) will be the only witness testifying at the hearing about the importance of the ADA and the significant harms HR 3765 would cause.

It would send a strong message to the subcommittee to have a crowd of disability rights advocates pack the room – please join us at the Senate if you are in the DC area! Those of you who can't make it in person can participate via the live stream. More information on the hearing and the live stream are available here.

Lead on!
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American Association of People with Disabilities
2013 H Street, NW
5th Floor
Washington, DC 20006
For more on AAPD, visit: www.aapd.com/

The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) is a convener, connector, and catalyst for change, increasing the political and economic power of people with disabilities.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

U.S, State Department Sport for Community Exchange Program for 2016 Promotes Disability Rights

from a Press Release on May 16, 2016
U.S. Department of State

The U.S. Department of State welcomes 15 international emerging leaders who work in the field of disability sports to the United States May 16 - June 16 on the new Sport for Community exchange program. The exchange focuses on disability rights and inclusion and pairs participants with American executives for mentorships.

In the lead up to the 2016 Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games, these emerging leaders will spend a month at top disability sports organizations. Working side-by-side with their mentors, the participants will develop strategic action plans designed to create opportunities for people with disabilities, enabling them to experience the benefits of sports: expanded professional networks, increased independence, and enhanced health. While in Washington, participants will have opportunities to network, share their perspectives as professionals in disability sports overseas, and learn about the history of the American disability rights movement and U.S. sports culture.

The roster of emerging leaders includes Paralympians, heads of National Paralympic Committees, social entrepreneurs, and disability sport advocates. This year’s participants hail from Belarus, Brazil, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Nepal, Philippines, Russia, Sri Lanka, Uganda, and Ukraine. The mentors represent Ability360, Chicago Park District, Glideslope, Lakeshore Foundation, Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, Spaulding Adaptive Sports Centers, Turnstone, U.S. Association of Blind Athletes, University of Alabama, U.S. Olympic Committee, and University of Texas at Arlington.
The program is conducted in partnership with the University of Tennessee’s Center for Sport, Peace, and Society, which also implements the U.S. Department of State and espnW Global Sports Mentoring Program to empower women. Join the conversation on social media using the hashtag #S4C2016
For more information, please contact the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at ECA-Press@state.gov.
http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2016/05/257273.htm

Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) is MAY 19 2016

On Thursday, May 19 2016 and mark the fifth Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD). The purpose of GAAD is to get people talking, thinking and learning about digital (web, software, mobile, etc.) accessibility and users with different disabilities.

The idea of a Global Accessibility Awareness Day started with a single blog post written by a Los Angeles-based web developer, Joe DevonJennison Asuncion, an accessibility professional from Toronto discovered Joe’s blog post purely by accident thanks to Twitter. After reading it, he immediately contacted Joe and they joined forces, leveraging their extensive and respective networks to realize the event.

For the  Global Accessibility Awareness Day website, visit:
http://www.globalaccessibilityawarenessday.org/

Watch this interview of GAAD co-founder, Jennison Asuncion, by Dr. Jonathan Hassell.

YouTube Published by Jonathan Hassell

Monday, May 16, 2016

EEOC Issues Final Rules on Employer Wellness Programs

from a Press Release on May 16, 2016
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Rules Address Incentives; Protect Confidentiality
WASHINGTON, DC--The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today issued final rules that describe how Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) apply to wellness programs offered by employers that request health information from employees and their spouses. The two rules provide guidance to both employers and employees about how workplace wellness programs can comply with the ADA and GINA consistent with provisions governing wellness programs in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, as amended by the Affordable Care Act (Affordable Care Act).
The rules permit wellness programs to operate consistent with their stated purpose of improving employee health, while including protections for employees against discrimination.  The rules are available in the Federal Register at https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2016/05/17/2016-11558/regulations-under-the-americans-with-disabilities-act and https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2016/05/17/2016-11557/genetic-information-nondiscrimination-act. EEOC also published question-and-answer documents on both rules today, available at https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/regulations/qanda-ada-wellness-final-rule.cfm and https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/regulations/qanda-gina-wellness-final-rule.cfm, and two documents for small businesses https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/regulations/facts-ada-wellness-final-rule.cfm and https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/regulations/facts-gina-wellness-final-rule.cfm.
Many employers offer workplace wellness programs intended to encourage healthier lifestyles or prevent disease. These programs sometimes use medical questionnaires or health risk assessments and biometric screenings to determine an employee's health risk factors, such as body weight and cholesterol, blood glucose, and blood pressure levels. Some of these programs offer financial and other incentives for employees to participate or to achieve certain health outcomes.
The ADA and GINA generally prohibit employers from obtaining and using information about employees' own health conditions or about the health conditions of their family members, including spouses. Both laws, however, allow employers to ask health-related questions and conduct medical examinations, such as biometric screenings to determine risk factors, if the employer is providing health or genetic services as part of a voluntary wellness program. Last year, EEOC issued proposed rules that addressed whether offering an incentive for employees or their family members to provide health information as part of a wellness program would render the program involuntary.   
The final ADA rule provides that wellness programs that are part of a group health plan and that ask questions about employees' health or include medical examinations may offer incentives of up to 30 percent of the total cost of self-only coverage. The final GINA rule provides that the value of the maximum incentive attributable to a spouse's participation may not exceed 30 percent of the total cost of self-only coverage, the same incentive allowed for the employee. No incentives are allowed in exchange for the current or past health status information of employees' children or in exchange for specified genetic information (such as family medical history or the results of genetic tests) of an employee, an employee's spouse, and an employee's children. 
The final rules, which will go into effect in 2017, apply to all workplace wellness programs, including those in which employees or their family members may participate without also enrolling in a particular health plan. 
"The EEOC received comments on both rules from a broad array of stakeholders and considered them carefully in developing this final rule," said EEOC Chair Jenny R. Yang. "The Commission worked to harmonize HIPAA's goal of allowing incentives to encourage participation in wellness programs with ADA and GINA provisions that require that participation in certain types of wellness programs is voluntary.  These rules make clear that the ADA and GINA provide important safeguards to employees to protect against discrimination."
Program Design
Both rules also seek to ensure that wellness programs actually promote good health and are not just used to collect or sell sensitive medical information about employees and family members or to impermissibly shift health insurance costs to them.  The ADA and GINA rules require wellness programs to be reasonably designed to promote health and prevent disease.
Protecting Confidentiality
 The two rules also make clear that the ADA and GINA provide important protections for safeguarding health information. The ADA and GINA rules state that information from wellness programs may be disclosed to employers only in aggregate terms. 
The ADA rule requires that employers give participating employees a notice that tells them what information will be collected as part of the wellness program, with whom it will be shared and for what purpose, the limits on disclosure and the way information will be kept confidential. GINA includes statutory notice and consent provisions for health and genetic services provided to employees and their family members. 
Both rules prohibit employers from requiring employees or their family members to agree to the sale, exchange, transfer, or other disclosure of their health information to participate in a wellness program or to receive an incentive. 
The interpretive guidance published along with the final ADA rule and the preamble to the GINA final rule identify some best practices for ensuring confidentiality, such as adopting and communicating clear policies, training employees who handle confidential information, encrypting health information, and providing prompt notification of employees and their family members if breaches occur.
EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.
https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/5-16-16.cfm