Friday, September 23, 2016

Social Security Publishes Final Rule to Revise Medical Criteria for Evaluating Mental Disorders

On Monday (09/26/2016), the Social Security Administration will publish final rules, effective January 17, 2017, that revise medical criteria for evaluating mental disorders. This regulation is a comprehensive revision to the criteria for evaluating disability claims involving mental disorders.
"Updating our medical criteria for the disability program is a challenging task that has been complicated by deep budgetary cuts in recent years," said Carolyn W. Colvin, the Acting Commissioner of Social Security. "We are committed to updating our regulations to reflect up-to-date standards and practices used in the health care community."
The final rule is the last step in a careful, deliberative process that engaged relevant stakeholders, including current disability beneficiaries and their family members, mental-health physicians and treatment providers, and advocacy groups for those with mental disorders. It also reflects information from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth edition, the mental health profession's current standard classification of mental disorders. In addition to reflecting comments from members of the public, the rule also reflects an intellectual disability report we commissioned from the National Academy of Sciences, and the expertise of disability policy experts, adjudicators, psychiatric professionals, and vocational experts who provided input at every phase of the rulemaking process.
The publication of this final rule is an important cornerstone of our effort to secure today and tomorrow for members of the public with mental illness who are some of our most vulnerable beneficiaries.
You can learn more about the revised criteria at https://www.federalregister.gov/public-inspection/current.
SOURCE: Press Release 09/23/2016 - Social Security Administration
# will update when Final Rule published

Colorado Disability Community Approved For 60-unit Housing Project in 2017



The 60-unit housing project is slated to break ground next year.
Denver—A $17 million housing project for people with disabilities has been approved by The Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (CHFA) in Denver.
The breakthrough of the 60-unit development is championed by The Atlantis Community Foundation (ACF), a 30-year nonprofit provider of services for the disability community, including the creation and management of housing. The organization currently owns 100 apartments in six separate communities.
“This is a remarkable milestone for ACF,” said Lloyd Lewis, ACF board chair, in prepared remarks. “We are thrilled with this news. This will bring to life an opportunity so desperately needed by the disability community in Colorado.”
The foundation is hosting an event at their headquarters at 10 S. Cherokee St. on Sept. 25  in order to showcase the design plans for the new facility.
In addition to the Atlantis Housing Foundation and Atlantis Community Inc. board members, other stakeholders are Ken Hoagland, developer & advisor for the project; the development team who presented to CHFA, members of the disability community and Joe Poli of Humphries Poli Architects.
Groundbreaking for the first stage of the development is slated to begin in 2017.
SOURCE: Multi-Housing News, article by Ioana Moldovan | Sept. 22. 2016

NATIONAL DISABILITY EMPLOYMENT AWARENESS MONTH OCTOBER 2016 THEME ANNOUNCED #InclusionWorks

from a Press Release on May 12, 2016
U.S. Department of Labor

#InclusionWorks’ seeks to inspire social media awareness of workers with disabilities
WASHINGTON – To reflect the important role disability plays in workforce diversity, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy today announced that the theme of 2016’s official National Disability Employment Awareness Month is “#InclusionWorks.”
“By fostering a culture that embraces individual differences, including disabilities, businesses profit by having a wider variety of tools to confront challenges,” said Jennifer Sheehy, deputy assistant secretary of labor for disability employment policy. “Our nation’s most successful companies proudly make inclusion a core value. They know that inclusion works. It works for workers, it works for employers, it works for opportunity, and it works for innovation.”
Observed in October, NDEAM is a nationwide campaign celebrating the skills and talents workers with disabilities bring to our workplaces. Led nationally by ODEP, NDEAM’s true spirit lies in the many grassroots observances held nationwide every year. Each spring, the theme for each year’s celebration is announced to help organizations and groups plan their events. 
ODEP created this year’s theme with input from a wide variety of its partner organizations, including those representing employers, people with disabilities and their families, and federal, state and local agencies. The hope is that the hashtag theme spurs both individuals and groups to post images and stimulate discussion on social media about the many ways “inclusion works.” 
NDEAM’s history dates back to 1945, when Congress declared the first week in October each year as “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.” In 1962, the word “physically” was dropped to acknowledge individuals with all types of disabilities. In 1988, the federal legislature expanded the week to a month and changed the name to NDEAM. When the department established ODEP in 2001, the agency assumed responsibility for NDEAM.
For more information about NDEAM, including specific ideas for how different types of organizations can participate, visit www.dol.gov/ndeam.
ODEP’s mission is to develop and influence policies and practices to increase the number and quality of employment opportunities for people with disabilities. For more information, please visit the ODEP website at www.dol.gov/odep/.

Release Number: 16-0971-NAT
https://www.dol.gov/newsroom/releases/odep/odep20160512

# repost from May 2016

Thursday, September 22, 2016

SNAP Pilot Program Provides Grocery Delivery for Homebound Disabled, Elderly in Test Areas

Your neighborhood grocer may be conveniently located just a few short blocks away. But for many persons with disabilities and the elderly participating in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the store might as well be on the other side of the world.
It’s a difficult problem that USDA’s new homebound food delivery pilot aims to alleviate, not just for the more than 4 million nonelderly adults with disabilities participating in SNAP, but also for the nearly 5 million seniors, who often face similar challenges and who may face disabilities, as well.
USDA recently announced the food purchasing and delivery firms selected to take part in the one-year pilot, which will be conducted in locations nationwide, perhaps at a location near you.
Firms selected include Denver Food Rescue (Denver, Colo.), Lutheran Social Services of Nevada (Las Vegas, N.V.), Many Infinities, Inc. (Alabaster, Ala.), Senior Services of Alexandria (Alexandria, Va.), and Store to Door (Roseville, Minn.).
The pilots break new ground for USDA. For the first time, governmental and non-profit food purchasing and delivery services will be allowed to accept SNAP benefits as payment. This is expected to increase the opportunities for home delivery to those unable to shop for food.
I think it’s important to note that during the trial period participating firms will only be permitted to accept SNAP benefits from households where the qualifying person with disabilities or elderly person is the head of household. This is intended to ensure that the pilot focuses on households that have the most limited access to foods.
Given that nearly one in five SNAP participants is either elderly or a person with disabilities, it’s clear that we must address the special challenges faced by these groups. Lessons we learn during the pilot will help USDA shape final rules now in development, which is an important step forward, as I see it. Home delivery of groceries will help ensure that those unable to shop for food themselves have access to the nutritious foods we all need to maintain a healthy diet.
posted from  Disability.gov - Guest Blogger Kevin Concannon, USDA Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services
About the Guest Blogger
Kevin W. Concannon was nominated by President Obama and Secretary Vilsack and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in July 2009 to serve as Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services (FNCS) in the United States Department of Agriculture. FNCS has principal responsibilities for USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service, which feeds an estimated 20 percent of the U.S. population, and has lead responsibilities for promoting healthful diet through the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion.

Hillary Clinton Outlines Vision for People With Disabilities “We’ve got to build an inclusive economy that welcomes people with disabilities.”

Of all the attacks that Hillary Clinton and her fellow Democrats have tried against Donald J. Trump since he captured the Republican presidential nomination, one has stood out for its emotional force and persuasive power: No one, it seems, can abide Mr. Trump’s mockery last year of a reporter’s physical disability.



very nice article by MATT FLEGENHEIMER and AMY CHOZICK for The New York Times | SEPT. 21, 2016
And as Mrs. Clinton strains to make a more affirmative case for her own candidacy, after a summer focused largely on hammering Mr. Trump, her campaign believes that a focus on an often-overlooked constituency — voters with disabilities — can accomplish both goals at once.

On Wednesday, without mentioning the Trump episode, Mrs. Clinton discussed her vision for an “inclusive economy” with expanded job opportunities for what she called “a group of Americans who are, too often, invisible, overlooked and undervalued — who have so much to offer, but are given far too few chances to prove it.

“That’s been true for a long time,” she said, “and we have to change it.”

In keeping with a recent campaign theme, she described how her career had informed her policy goals, from her work for people with disabilities during her time at the Children’s Defense Fund to her tenure as secretary of state, when she appointed the first special adviser for international disability rights.

Whether they can participate in our economy and lead rich, full lives that are as healthy and productive as possible is a reflection on us as a country,” she said in a gymnasium at a youth center here.

Though Mrs. Clinton made no mention of the moment last year when Mr. Trump mocked a New York Times reporter, Serge F. Kovaleski, who has a congenital joint condition that visibly limits the flexibility in his arms, she may not have had to: The episode has earned Mr. Trump some of his most blistering ratings in focus groups, and a pro-Clinton “super PACmade it the centerpiece of an ad in June. (Mr. Trump has denied that he was mocking the reporter’s appearance, saying he did not even recall meeting him.)

Mrs. Clinton’s campaign plainly views the contrast as critical to its strategy for the remainder of the race, including the highly anticipated first debate with Mr. Trump on Monday. Mrs. Clinton has said often that she can handle the personal insults from him, but that what gets her piqued are attacks on groups that Mr. Trump has appeared to bully.

And she is in good company. “Making fun of that reporter was just not only in bad taste, it just demonstrated the character of him,” said Christine Griffin, a lawyer and disability policy advocate in Boston. “The disability community is very upset by that, but if you look at the poll numbers, so is the rest of society.”

Mrs. Clinton’s team did not entirely hold its fire on Wednesday. Hours after she left the stage, her campaign held a conference call in which supporters condemned Mr. Trump’s mocking of Mr. Kovaleski. “You’d have to go back 50 years or more to find someone who would actually think that way,” said Tom Harkin, the former Iowa senator who introduced the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990.

The campaign also featured the infamous clip of Mr. Trump in a new ad starring Anastasia Somoza, a disability rights advocate who was born with cerebral palsy and has known Mrs. Clinton since she was 9.

People with disabilities make up a potentially potent political coalition: A study this month from two Rutgers professors projected that more than 35 million people with disabilities would be eligible to vote this year — roughly one-sixth of the electorate. More than a quarter of the electorate either has a disability or shares a household with someone who does, the study estimated. And they are represented fairly equally in both parties. As the Republican vice-presidential nominee in 2008, Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska spoke often of championing children with special needs, noting her own child with Down syndrome.

Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, the president of RespectAbility, an advocacy group, said the election had focused attention on issues affecting disabled voters as never before, with Mr. Trump’s behavior serving as a galvanizing force.

“I don’t think there’s a person with a disability on the planet who has never been made fun of,” said Ms. Mizrahi, who has dyslexia and is raising a child with physical disabilities. “Every person with a disability knows what it’s like to live with stigma.”

Ms. Mizrahi also lamented that Mr. Trump had often “conflated the word ‘stupid’ with the word ‘loser,’ ” as she put it, warning that such thinking could hinder the job prospects of people with intellectual disabilities.

On Wednesday, Mrs. Clinton did not go there, infusing her half-hour address with the earnest zeal that she tends to summon more readily during policy speeches than in campaign rallies.

She ticked off statistics, noting that nearly one in five Americans lives with a disability, and strayed from her prepared remarks — “I want you to hear this because this is not well known,” she interjected at one point — to urge people to listen.

She spoke of her own policy agenda for people with disabilities, which includes a program aimed at helping people with autism and a pledge to eliminate the “subminimum wage” paid to some people with disabilities, which she called “a vestige from an ugly, ignorant past.”

Mrs. Clinton said she had taken to carrying a copy of a recent article in The Boston Globe that detailed the successful three-decade career of a McDonald’s employee with Down syndrome.

And she described what she viewed as the “ultimate test” of a society: “how we treat our fellow human beings, especially the most vulnerable among us.”

The closest she came to mentioning Mr. Trump was at the end, when she repeated a common campaign refrain: “Love trumps hate.”

Solidifying the disabled as a voting bloc may require extra diligence, given issues of accessibility at many polling places. The Help America Vote Act of 2002 sought to remove impediments, but advocates say many barriers remain. The National Disabilities Rights Network, for one, seeks to inspect polling locations in advance, but many are not open until Election Day, making that impossible.

Until then, Mrs. Clinton seems likely to return to the theme often. Some of her most affecting moments on the campaign trail have come when people have approached her on rope lines or during round-table discussions about their struggles caring for disabled family members, and she has often turned to the subject spontaneously.

The crowd on Wednesday appeared grateful for the consistent attention.

In lieu of a sign, Geannie Bastian, 35, who uses a wheelchair, held up her college degree, saying it represented Mrs. Clinton’s commitment to improving educational opportunities for disabled people.

She said Mrs. Clinton was wise not to discuss Mr. Trump in the room. Everyone, she said, knew his record well.

“I know what that gesture is,” she said, recalling Mr. Trump’s imitation of Mr. Kovaleski. “I’ve had kids do this my entire life.”

# Matt Flegenheimer reported from Orlando, and Amy Chozick from New York.
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/22/us/politics/hillary-clinton-speech.html?_r=0

CHICAGO MEETING SEPT. 29 TO ADDRESS LOW-INCOME CANCER PROGRAMS INEQUITIES

CHICAGO --- The Chicago Cancer Health Equity Collaborative (ChicagoCHEC), a National Cancer Institute-funded initiative to reduce cancer disparity in Chicago's low-income neighborhoods, will host its First Annual Community Report and Symposium from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 29, at Chicago’s Malcolm X College, 1900 W. Jackson Blvd.

The free, all-day symposium will be open to the public and provide a detailed look at the ongoing work of the ChicagoCHEC partnership, led by researchers from the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University, the University of Illinois at Chicago and Northeastern Illinois University.

According to data from the Illinois Department of Public Health, low-income Chicago communities that are predominantly African-American or Latino face cancer death rates up to double the national average.

“We’re establishing an innovative, community-driven and collaborative platform to foster meaningful cancer research, education, training and outreach across the Metropolitan Chicagoland area,” said Dr. Melissa A. Simon, the George H. Gardner, MD, Professor of Clinical Gynecology in obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, and co-director of the Lurie Cancer Center’s Cancer Control and Survivorship Research Program.

“Our goal is to transform how community engagement and research are conducted, thus changing the architecture of how we collectively improve health equity.”

The symposium will feature a panel of public health care providers, a town hall forum and networking opportunities to mobilize Chicago communities in the areas of cancer survivorship, health care access and delivery, research and clinical trials, community capacity building and cancer health education.
A diverse panel of cancer survivors will discuss their journeys, including how they have accessed services and how community organizations have supported them.

Dr. Linda Rae Murray, the former chief medical officer from Cook County Health and Hospital System, and breast cancer survivor Roz Varon, the Emmy Award-winning traffic/transportation anchor for ABC 7, will deliver keynote speeches at the event. Cook County Commissioner, 7th District, Jesus Garcia will deliver the final keynote address to close the event. 

“The racial and ethnic disparities in health care outcomes are an alarming and urgent public health issue,” said Dr. Robert Winn, associate vice president for community-based practice at UI Health, director of the University of Illinois Cancer Center and professor of medicine at the UIC College of Medicine. “As we seek to end these disparities in Chicago, I am excited that three institutions are at the table -- together with the community -- asking how can we can better conduct research and reach diverse communities. We know the traditional top-down approach isn't working, so it's time to engage with the community in a new way."

The community steering committee of ChicagoCHEC is at the heart of the coalition’s efforts, according to Dr. Moira Stuart, associate professor of health, physical education, recreation and athletics at Northeastern.

“The 20-plus key community stakeholders on the committee represent the diversity of Chicago communities related to race/ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and disability,” Stuart said. “Our community steering committee is central to guiding the strategic efforts to foster meaningful partnerships across Chicago communities.”

According to Christina Ciecierski, associate professor of economics at Northeastern Illinois University:
  • “In addition to community and institutional partnerships, supporting collaborative research to improve cancer prevention, early detection, treatment and survivorship is an essential element of this partnership.” 
  • Joanne Glenn, co-chair of the ChicagoCHEC community steering committee, said she attended the town hall meeting last year that launched ChicagoCHEC because she wanted to hear about an effort that didn’t just “talk the talk.”
  • “ChicagoCHEC is a first-of-its-kind collaboration across academia, research and community in the Midwest, and I am honored to be involved in something that is addressing and identifying the community needs by involving diverse community partners and constituents,” Glenn said. “Thanks for ‘walking the walk,’ CHEC.”

The Symposium will kick off a series of local community events taking place in Chicago through 2016 and 2017. 
More information about ChicagoCHEC, the symposium and event registration can be found on www.chicagochec.org.

SOURCE: Northwestern University News article by Kristin Samuelson | Sept. 2016

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Autistic Girl Left Wandering Chicago Streets After School CPS Transit Drop-Off

An 11-year-old girl with autism was roaming the streets of Chicago’s South Side by herself.
original report by Audrina Bigos for CBS2 News Chicago | Sept. 20, 2016


That’s what happened when her Chicago Public Schools transportation dropped her off–with no supervision, CBS 2’s Audrina Bigos shares in this Original Report.

A normal day for 11-year-old Kymera is filled with smiles, but Monday was much different.

“She was sweating profusely and her nerves were all over the place,” her mother, Kalaveeta Mitchell said.

That’s because the driver of the special needs van dropped her off at home with no supervision. The company is SCR*, a vendor of Chicago Public Schools.

“When the van or the bus pulls up they are supposed to release the child to an adult, not just let them out,” Mitchell said.

Kymera, who has autism and PTSD, was roaming the streets for almost a half hour–alone.

The young girl said she felt “scared and confused.”

And her mom was furious. “Easy pickings for someone to pick her up and take her away and we would never know.”

Mitchell wants CPS to be held accountable as well as the company operating the van.

“They didn’t contact the school, they didn’t call DCFS, they didn’t call Chicago Police,” she said. “This ended well but it could’ve ended in tragedy.”

CPS sent CBS a statement saying, “The District’s protocols were not followed, and we are working with our vendors to ensure this does not happen again.”
http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2016/09/20/child-with-autism-left-wandering-streets-after-cps-transit-drop-off/

# As we attempt to wait a few days before republish of news articles, when a important issues arrises we will post on the same day of original report. We Acknowledge CBS2 Chicago as orignal report.

* SCR also is a vender of Chicago Paratransit Service as provided thru Pace Suburban Bus Services.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Section 508 Webinar Sept 27 : Introduction to the three A's: Accessibility, Assistive Technology and Accommodation

The next webinar in the Section 508 Best Practices Webinar Series will take place September 27 from 1:00 to 2:30 (ET) and will cover accessibility to electronic and information technology, assistive technologies, and reasonable accommodations. Presenters will explain each of these approaches to making covered technologies usable by people with disabilities and the relationship and differences between them.

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: Introduction to the three A's: Accessibility, Assistive Technology and AccommodationSeptember 27, 2016, 1:00- 2:30 (ET)      
Presenters: • Alexander Koudry, MS, ATP, PMP, RET; Director, Center for Information Technology Access, General Services Administration
• Timothy P. Creagan, Senior Accessibility Specialist, U.S. Access Board (moderator) 
Registration: www.accessibilityonline.orgNote: 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.
SOURCE:  United States Access Board

Dept of Justice alleges UC Berkeley campus in violation of Americans with Disabilities Act

The campus responded last week to the U.S. Department of Justice’s allegations that UC Berkeley violates Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act because of the inaccessibility of some of campus’s public online educational content.

article by MALINI RAMAIYER for The Daily Californian | Sept. 19, 2016
In an Aug. 30 letter, the DOJ alleges that the campus’s Youtube Channel, iTunesU platform and Massive Open Online Courses lack accessible design and calls for UC Berkeley to take steps toward accommodation. The DOJ declined to comment on the allegations, but in its letter, the department detailed specific violations of Title II, including an alleged lack of accurate closed captioning in videos for those who are deaf or hard of hearing.

“The Department found that of the 543 videos it could identify on the YouTube channel, 75 had manually generated closed captions,” the letter stated. “Of the remainder, many had automatic captioning generated by YouTube’s speech recognition technology.”

The letter also states that the content could be potentially inaccessible to people with visual disabilities. The DOJ letter alleged that some videos do not include alternative ways to access visual information, such as audio descriptions of images, and that some documents are not formatted properly for individuals who use screen readers — software programs that convert visual text into synthesized speech or braille.

Campus spokesperson Roqua Montez said while UC Berkeley is committed to making public educational content accessible, such as the online programs cited in the DOJ letter, its first priority is accessibility for enrolled students. The problem for the campus currently, he said, is making the accommodations requested by the DOJ in light of financial constraints.

“We might not be able (to) continue to provide the free public content under the conditions laid out by the DOJ because those conditions are rather costly,” Montez said.

The complaints originated from members of National Association of the Deaf, Stacy Nowak and Glenn Lockhart, who are not affiliated with the university and could not be reached for comment.

English professors Susan Schweik and Georgina Kleege called the campus response to the allegations “grudging.”

“It’s possible to see an undertone of resentment,” Kleege said. “‘Oh, these people with disabilities are asking for too much. It’s too expensive and we can’t possibly accommodate all these people.’ It makes a subtle statement about inclusion of people with disabilities on this campus.”

To avoid costly fixes and repair, Kleege said the online content designers should have considered accessibility from the outset. She added that she knows students and faculty with disabilities that are unsatisfied with accessibility overall on campus.

Kleege is blind and explained that even for faculty, it can be difficult to work with various websites and materials. For instance, when bCourses was first launched, Kleege said she struggled to create the site for her students because the user accessibility of the tools was limited.

“I imagined that the designer might have imagined a blind student using the site but they might not have thought of a blind professor using it. That’s a problem,” Kleege said. “It goes to the idea of who is the public that you’re designing for and that public includes people with disabilities.”

The campus’s Educational Technology Services offers support to students with disabilities for the use of online course material, and the Disabled Students’ Program generally oversees accommodations for students with disabilities.

Instead of a complaint-based improvement system, Kleege and Schweik emphasized that they would like to see a shift into active consideration of disability rights across the board.

“It’s a tremendous opportunity for this campus to think about accessibility,” Schweik said. “This should be met as a serious challenge in a budget-strapped, large university with a desire to serve the public as a public university should.”

TO READ THE LETTER FROM THE DEPT. OF JUSTICE TO UC BERKELEY, AFTER THE ORIGINAL POST: http://www.dailycal.org/2016/09/19/department-of-justice-alleges-campus-in-violation-of-americans-with-disabilities-act/

U.S. Access Board Webinar October 6th: Accessible Signage - A Refresher


laptop with Access Board sealThe next webinar in the U.S. Access Board's free monthly series will take place October 6 from 2:30 – 4:00 (ET) and provide a refresher on requirements for signs in the ADA and ABA Accessibility Standards. The session will address visual access, tactile signs, required access symbols and other pictograms.

For more information or to register, visit www.accessibilityonline.org. 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 - Tell Congress: Fund Programs Serving People with Disabilities

Take Action!
 
Congress is making final decisions about funding federal programs.  Tell your Members of Congress to increase funding for the following programs that help empower people with disabilities to live, learn, work and play in their communities.
  • Vocational Rehabilitation State Grant Program (U.S. Department of Education)
  • Supported Employment State Grant Program (U.S. Department of Education)
  • Senior Community Service Employment Program (U.S. Department of Labor)
  • Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program (U.S. Department of Labor)
  • Head Start (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
  • IDEA Parts B and C (U.S. Department of Education)
  • Maternal and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)

SOURCE: EasterSeals

Dollar General Must Pay Former Employee Over $277,565 For Disability Discrimination, Jury in EEOC Suit

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. Sept. 19, 2016 -- A federal jury has found in favor of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in a federal disability discrimination lawsuit against the retail giant Dollar General, the federal agency announced today. EEOC had charged Dollar General with firing a cashier at its Maryville, Tenn., store because of her need to treat her diabetes.

According to EEOC's suit, the cashier, an insulin-dependent diabetic, told her supervisor she was a diabetic and requested on several occasions that her supervisor allow her to keep juice near the register to prevent a hypoglycemic attack. At trial, the cashier testified that her supervisor told her that Dollar General did not allow employees to keep food or drink near the register. Although Dollar General had an accommodation policy that could have allowed the cashier to keep juice near the register, the employees, including management at the Maryville store, did not know about the policy.

While alone in the store one day, the cashier drank orange juice prior to purchase, in violation of Dollar General's "grazing" policy, in response to symptoms of a hypoglycemic attack and to protect the store. As soon as the medical emergency passed, the cashier paid for the bottle of orange juice that cost $1.69 plus tax. Later, the district manager and loss prevention manager appeared in the store to address inventory shrinkage and fired the cashier after she admitted to drinking orange juice prior to purchase. The store fired the emp­loyee even though it knew she drank the orange juice because of her diabetes and that she had requested to keep juice near the register.

EEOC filed suit (Civil Action No.3:14-CV-441) in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee) against Dolgencorp, LLC, dba Dollar General Corporation, on Sept. 23, 2014, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The discrimination victim joined the suit as a plaintiff in her own personal lawsuit on Dec. 18, 2014.

The jury returned a verdict on Friday afternoon for EEOC and the victim, awarding the former cashier $27,565 in back pay and $250,000 in compensatory damages.

"We are very pleased with the jury verdict," said EEOC General Counsel P. David Lopez. "It is disappointing, however, that we continue to see cases where employers fail to train their employees on basic requirements under the ADA. The Commission will continue to carry out its goal of ensuring equal opportunity in the workplace for persons with disabilities."

EEOC Regional Attorney Faye A. Williams added, "This case highlights another employer who failed to train its employees on the reasonable accommodation requirements under the ADA. Dollar General represents one of the largest variety retailers in the country. Yet it failed to ensure that its employees and management staff knew about its reasonable accommodation policy. It was as if Dollar General had no policy at all. Instead of accepting responsibility for its inaction, Dollar General argued the employee did not need an accommo­dation. We hope this jury verdict sends a message to its employers, train your employees on the reasonable accommo­dation requirements under the ADA."

Dollar General is the nation's largest small-box discount retailer. It is a convenience store offering major brands with many of its products costing a dollar or less. The company operates over 11,000 stores nationwide, and the corporate headquarters are in Goodlettsville, Tenn.

The Memphis District Office of EEOC oversees Tennessee, Arkansas, and parts of Mississippi. EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about EEOC is available on the website at www.eeoc.gov.

SOURCE: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Press Release

Justice Dept Settles with 30 Hop Restaurant and Bar in Iowa to Resolve Americans with Disabilities Act Violations

Sept. 19, 2016 -- The Justice Department filed a proposed consent decree today with 30 Hop restaurant and bar in Coralville, Iowa, resolving claims that the establishment violated the new construction requirements of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The ADA requires newly constructed facilities to comply with the ADA Standards for Accessible Design.  30 Hop, which opened for business in 2014, is a newly constructed multi-story restaurant and bar with a rooftop patio.  The department’s complaint alleges that 30 Hop does not provide an accessible route to the rooftop patio or lower level, has an inaccessible entrance, has no accessible dining tables and has inaccessible bathrooms.
“All newly constructed restaurants and bars must be readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.  “We commend the owners of 30 Hop for cooperating with the Justice Department and for taking swift action to remedy the alleged ADA violations.”
Under the consent decree, which is subject to court approval, the owners of 30 Hop will, among other things, install an elevator between the ground floor and rooftop patio, install a platform lift between the ground floor and the lower level, provide accessible dining surfaces in each area of the restaurant and bar, provide closed risers on the staircase to the rooftop patio, increase the maneuvering clearance at the entrance door, bring the bathrooms into compliance with the ADA requirements for newly constructed facilities, pay a $17,500 civil penalty and pay $3,500 to compensate an individual with a disability who is not able to access the rooftop patio.
The agreement will last for two years.  To learn more about the ADA, call the Justice Department’s toll-free ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 or 800-514-0383 (TDD), or visit www.ada.gov.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Justice Press Release

Easterseals And Parents Magazine Bring The Disability Conversation To The Forefront

Championing children living with disabilities along with their caregivers and families
CHICAGO, Sept. 19, 2016 -- Everyone will face disability in their lifetime – whether personally or as a caregiver. Easterseals (formerly Easter Seals), the indispensable resource for people and families facing disability, salutesParents magazine for showcasing in its October issue the helpful lessons that parents of kids with special needs can teach allparents about raising great kids. This shift in the conversation highlights Easterseals' longstanding efforts to change the way the world views and defines disability.
"Working with Parents has given us a powerful platform to raise awareness for the 56.7 million Americans that face disability each day and emphasize how Easterseals provides exceptional services, education and advocacy for people and families facing disability," said Jennifer Bielat, senior vice president, integrated marketing at Easterseals. "We applaud Parents for its continued efforts to bring disability to the forefront, and we are so thrilled that the magazine continues to take steps to normalize disability by selecting a mom and a child who has special needs to be featured on the October issue's cover.

"Parents is grateful to Easterseals, a longtime advertising partner, for the work the organization does to help support families facing disability," said Dana Points, editor in chief of Parents. "Its resources, including its free online screening tool that helps parents track milestones and learn what to do if something's not quite right, have helped countless families."

Easterseals and Parents have been partners for a decade, as they share a common bond supporting and providing resources for parents of kids with disabilities. Easterseals' longstanding efforts to help families with special needs is mentioned in the OctoberParents Editor's Letter.

From developmental screenings to early intervention programs, Easterseals is a partner to thousands of families facing disability or delays in their child's development. For children under the age of five, Easterseals is the leading provider of early intervention services—including occupational, physical, speech and Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) therapies. All parents can access Easterseals' free online screening tool and other resources at Easterseals.com.

For more information on Easterseals, visit Easterseals.com or find the October issue of Parents on Texture or www.texture.com.

About Easterseals:For nearly 100 years, Easterseals has been the indispensable resource for people and families challenged by disability. Now, as America faces a broad range of new issues, we make a major, positive, life—changing difference in the lives of people and families challenged by today's disabilities. The work we do every day is redefining disability for the 21st century.

About the Meredith Parents Network:The Meredith Parents Network is a collection of parenting brands targeting millennial women – Parents, FamilyFun, Ser Padres, Parents Latina and Fit Pregnancy and Baby as well as FitPregnancy.com, Parents.com and Parenting.com – reflecting the multi-faceted experience of what it means to be a mom today. The brands reach moms through dynamic media platforms that engage them in ways they can personally relate to in the moments, places, and languages that are meaningful to them. The Meredith Parents Network reaches a combined audience of over 30 million readers, while the digital properties reach over 11 million unduplicated unique monthly visitors and have a social reach of over 5 million followers.

SOURCE: Easterseals / PRNewswire

Monday, September 19, 2016

Illinois U.S.Senate race between two physically disabled candidates - Kirk(r) vs Duckworth(d)

The race for Senate here in Illinois is contentious and potentially historic.


nice article by Katie Zezima for The Washington Post | Sept. 17, 2016

Both Republican incumbent Sen. Mark Kirk and his Democratic challenger, Rep. Tammy Duckworth, are physically disabled and often use a wheelchair. Kirk suffered a massive stroke in 2012; his left side is partially paralyzed. Duckworth lost both her legs and partial use of her right arm in 2004 after the Black Hawk helicopter she was piloting in Iraq was shot down.

“We know the next senator for Illinois is going to be in a wheelchair,” Kirk said in a recent interview, his speech slurred and a cane by his side.

It’s a long way from the era when politicians kept their disabilities a closely guarded secret. Franklin D. Roosevelt and his aides tried to minimize the public appearance of the president in a wheelchair or using braces. John F. Kennedy hid the extent of his crippling back pain.

Change started to come over the following decades, with disabled veterans including Max Cleland of Georgia and Bob Dole of Kansas winning congressional seats and the Americans With Disabilities Act passing in 1990. The U.S. Senate floor still isn’t wheelchair accessible; Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.), a quadriplegic, was responsible for adding ramps to the House side and making the speaker’s rostrum handicap accessible.

Here in Illinois, the Senate race between two people with disabilities is widely seen as a landmark — and comes during the same election cycle when the Republican presidential nominee mocked a reporter with a disability.

“I think it’s just another milestone, and in any civil rights movement you sort of lift up those milestones,” said Helena Berger, president and chief executive of the American Association of People with Disabilities.

Others, including the Democratic challenger, think it’s just another race.

“I don’t think it’s really a big deal,” Duckworth said. “I just do my own thing. I get out there and I campaign.”

But in an about-face from the days of FDR, some politicians now see an advantage in talking about their disabilities, discussing them in ads, interviews and public appearances as evidence that they can overcome obstacles and lead.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R), who became a paraplegic after an accident while jogging in his 20s, released an ad during his 2014 gubernatorial campaign showing him rolling his wheelchair into an empty parking garage. It was a routine he took on after his accident to rebuild his strength.

“I would roll up an eight-story parking garage, spending hours going up the ramps,” he said, as the camera showed him doing just that. “It would get harder and harder, but I wouldn’t quit.”

It’s a story Abbott now often tells in public. In another ad about traffic problems on Texas roads, Abbott says, “A guy in a wheelchair can move faster than traffic on some roads in Texas.”

During the race, opponent Wendy Davis (D) released a controversial ad attacking Abbott for opposing litigation as attorney general that was similar to a case he won after his accident.

“A tree fell on Greg Abbott,” the narrator says. “He sued and got millions. Since then, he’s spent his career working against other victims.”

Davis was lambasted for the ad and lost overwhelmingly to Abbott on Election Day.

In Illinois, both candidates have released ads focusing or touching on their disabilities. Kirk spent months in a rehabilitation facility, a time during which he said he was depressed, lying in bed watching what he called the “blue blacks” — the blue of the daytime sky and black of night.

He allowed his recovery to be filmed, spurred in part by a local politician who kept his stroke a secret. In a minute-long ad released in May, Kirk chronicled his recovery, showing footage of him in a harness, learning how to walk again, and walking up the stairs of the Willis Tower.

“As I learned to walk and climb again, I thought about Illinois families struggling to get by. I thought of our veterans and our heroic men and women serving in harm’s way. They’re the reason why I fought so hard to get back,” Kirk said in the ad, titled “Courage.” Kirk walked up the steps of the Senate on his first day back at work and said his stroke has made him a more empathetic person.

In another ad, Kirk defends his decision to reverse his endorsement of Trump, his abortion rights views and his call for a vote on the confirmation of President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland.

“Long before his stroke, Mark Kirk was independent,” a narrator says.

Kirk’s doctor released a letter Wednesday stating that the senator has made a “full cognitive recovery” and that he is quickly recuperating physically. Richard G. Fessler, of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, wrote that Kirk has no use of his left arm or hand and has limited use of his left leg. Fessler said Kirk walks with the aid of a cane and brace and that he is not likely to regain a full range of motion on his left side.

Duckworth has long discussed the attack on her helicopter, her recovery and wounds. An ad released this cycle shows footage of her recovering at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Duckworth started participating in marathons after her accident, first as a member of the “Missing Parts in Action” team at Walter Reed and later on the Achilles International Freedom Team.

“It gave me courage to run for office in the first place,” Duckworth said of being shot down and recovering. “At the end of the day nothing will ever be as bad as that one day in Iraq and those months in the hospital.”

Disabilities aside, the race between Kirk and Duckworth has been typical of a hard-fought battle for a Senate seat. Kirk, who served in the Navy, has accused Duckworth of not properly caring for veterans when she was director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs and later an assistant secretary at the federal VA. Duckworth has slammed Kirk for embellishing his military record and walking back his endorsement of Trump. In June, Kirk said he could no longer support Trump given his past attacks on women, Hispanics and “the disabled like me.” Each candidate has accused the other of not doing enough for Illinois residents and of being ineffective.

Kirk has criticized Duckworth for being the subject of a lawsuit alleging workplace retaliation while she oversaw the state veterans agency. A $26,000 settlement was announced in June with no finding of wrongdoing, although the plaintiffs later rejected the offer and the matter remained unresolved. Kirk also accused her of giving jobs to “happy fun boys” at the Illinois VA.

“They’re political operatives,” Kirk said. “You know, it’s always Joe and Mino or whatever, you know, overweight, too many hot dogs. Those kind of guys.”

The National Republican Senatorial Committee was criticized in March for tweeting that Duckworth has a “sad record of not standing up for our veterans.”

Duckworth pointed to Kirk having to apologize in 2010 for making inaccurate statements about his time in the Navy Reserve.

“The man has lied about his own military record. . . . I doubt that he can be trusted to tell the truth about an opponent’s military service,” Duckworth said.

In August, Duckworth called Kirk “unhinged” and said the senator “lacks the ability to control what he’s saying” after Kirk said Obama was “acting like the drug dealer in chief” after the administration said it made a $400 million cash payment to Iran in January. Duckworth said her comment had nothing to do with Kirk’s stroke but was a reflection of his record. Kirk’s campaign said it was a “cheap shot” and continued to hammer the Obama administration over its Iran policy and Duckworth for supporting the president.

Both candidates admit that campaigning, an inherently exhausting endeavor, is even tougher when disabled.

“I can’t work a reception like I used to,” he said. “Working a reception from a wheelchair is pretty tough, and I’m sure that Tammy has the same challenge.”

Duckworth said campaigning is exhausting, but so is caring for her daughter, who was born in November 2014.

She insists that her office and all of the events she attends be wheelchair accessible, not only for her but also for others who might want to attend. She gets phantom pain if she sits in what’s called a bucket — it covers her right side and the inch of leg she has left — for 10 to 14 hours at a time, a normal day for her.

“It sucks and you’re tired, but this is important to me and this is important to my community and important to my state and important to my nation,” she said. “For me to go home and feel sorry for myself and do nothing because I lost my legs . . . would spit in the face of the men who carried me out of that field in Iraq, and I’m just spending every day trying to pay back a debt that I can never pay back.”
https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/in-illinois-a-landmark-senate-race-between-two-physically-disabled-candidates/2016/09/17/08936d2a-5fdf-11e6-9d2f-b1a3564181a1_story.html#comments

# Katie Zezima is a national political correspondent covering the 2016 presidential election. She previously served as a White House correspondent for The Washington Post.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

EEOC Sues Owners of Happy Jack’s Casino For Disability Discrimination

Federal Agency Says Owners Rejected Applicant Because She Took Prescription Drugs For Her Medical Condition
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - M.G. Oil Company, which operates Happy Jack's Casino in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, violated federal law by refusing to hire an applicant when her drug test showed that she was taking legal prescription drugs for her disability, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed yesterday.

According to Julianne Bowman, EEOC's district director in Chicago, who managed EEOC's pre-suit administrative investigation, Kim Mullaney applied for and received an offer of employment for a position at Happy Jack's Casino. After taking a routine drug test before starting work, Mullaney was told that Happy Jack's Casino was withdrawing the job offer because the test had come back positive. Although Mullaney told Happy Jack's Casino that the test reflected prescription drugs that she took for her disability, and even though she told them that she would provide additional information if needed, Happy Jack's Casino refused to hire her.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability, which can include refusing to hire someone for taking lawfully prescribed drugs for a disability.

EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The case, EEOC v. MG. Oil Company d/b/a Happy Jack's Casino, Civil Action No.4:16-cv-04131, was filed in U.S. District Court for South Dakota. The government's litigation effort will be led by Trial Attorney Laurie Vasichek and supervised by EEOC Associate Regional Attorney Jean P. Kamp.
"Employers cannot refuse to hire someone simply because she takes prescription drugs," said John Hendrickson, the regional attorney for EEOC's Chicago District Office. "Ms. Mullaney would have provided Happy Jack's with all the information that it needed to assure itself that the drugs were lawfully prescribed. There is nothing happy about Happy Jack's ignoring the information before its eyes. To the contrary, it is very, very sad."
EEOC's Minneapolis Area Office is part of the Chicago District, which is responsible for handling charges of employment discrimination, administrative enforcement and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and North and South Dakota, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.
EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov
SOURCE: EEOC Press Release 09/15/2016

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Participate With The 2016 Presidential Candidate Questionnaire on Disability Issues

The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), the National Council for Independent Living (NCIL), and the REV UP Campaign are pleased to release the 2016 Presidential Candidate Questionnaire. These questions have been sent to all of the current presidential candidates. Their responses will be shared publicly once received.


We need YOUR HELP getting all of the campaigns to respond and complete the survey. A letter including these signatures will be sent to all of the campaigns that do not respond to the survey.

TO PARTICIPATE WITH THE 2016 PRESIDENTIAL CANIDATE QUESTIONAIRE, VISIT:   https://aapd.kindful.com/register/presidential-candidate-questionnaire-2016

You can also tweet at each campaign to encourage them to complete the survey!
SOURCE: AAPD

AAPD 2017 Summer Internship Program - Apply by November 7, 2016

Since 2002, the American Association of People with Disabilities (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 paid 10-week summer internships in Congressional offices, federal agencies, non-profit, 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 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 as well as 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, happy hours, and more.

Apply for the 2017 Summer Internship Program

The 2017 application process opened on September 1, 2016 and must be completed by 5pm ET on November 7, 2016.
Candidates for the AAPD Summer Internship Program must submit the following:
  • Applicant Information (Section 1 of the Application)
  • A resume (Section 2 of the Application)
  • Responses to the three (3) essay questions (Section 3 of the Application)
  • Contact information for three (3) references (Section 4 of the Application)
  • Two (2) letters of reference (Section 4 of the Application)
All documents must be returned to internship@aapd.com. We strongly encourage attaching all required documents in one submission with both letters of recommendation attached. Incomplete or late submissions will not be considered. We will not be able to consider any materials in excess of the stated requirements. Applicants chosen for the AAPD Washington, DC Summer Internship Program release all information contained in their application for use on the AAPD website and in public press releases, including releases to the program funders and potential employers.

Eligibility

Any college student (degree and non-degree seeking), law student, graduate student, or recent graduate who self-identifies as an individual with any type of disability is invited to apply. You will not be required to disclose your specific disability; however, your application for this program will signify that you consider yourself a person with a disability.
NOTE:  This is a program run specifically for students with disabilities by the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), a national cross-disability organization.  Those selected for this program will be involved in various disability-focused activities and associated with AAPD and fellow interns with all types of disabilities throughout the program.
TO APPLY AND MORE INFORMATION FOR THE AAPD INTERNSHIP PROGRAM, VISIT:   http://www.aapd.com/summer-internship-program/