Thursday, October 20, 2016

Webinar Nov. 3rd: Accessible Residential Facilities - Advanced Session

laptop with Access Board sealThe next webinar in the U.S. Access Board's free monthly series will take place November 3 from 2:30 – 4:00 (ET) and provide an advanced session on accessible residential facilities. Presenters will focus on untangling the various federal laws that address access to housing, including the Architectural Barriers Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Fair Housing Act, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. They will discuss how the design requirements of these laws apply and review requirements for residential dwelling units in the ADA and ABA Standards.
For more information or to register, visit

Questions can be submitted in advance of the session (total limited to 25) or can be posed during the webinar. Participants are encouraged to view a previous webinar on this topic in advance of the upcoming session. 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.

Minneapolis Star Tribune Wins 2016 Disability Reporting ASU Award

A Minneapolis Star Tribune investigation into state-subsidized sheltered workshops in Minnesota has won the top honor in the 2016 Katherine Schneider Journalism Award for Excellence in Reporting on Disability.

In “A Matter of Dignity,” Star Tribune reporter Chris Serres, along with reporter Glenn Howatt and photographer David Joles, reveals how hundreds of Minnesotans with developmental disabilities are segregated and neglected in a state system of sheltered workshops.

The investigation found that hundreds of adults with disabilities have been sent against their will to live in remote and dangerous group homes. The five-part series tells the stories of adults with Down syndrome who spend their days collecting trash for $2 an hour and workers with brain injuries who scrub toilets for half the minimum wage and relates how one young woman with bipolar disorder escaped from her group home and threw herself in front of a speeding car.

The Schneider Award is the only journalism awards competition devoted exclusively to disability reporting. It was established in 2013 with the support of Schneider, a retired clinical psychologist who has been blind since birth and who also supports the national Schneider Family Book Awards. The reporting contest is administered by the National Center on Disability and Journalism at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Second place went to WAMU 88.5, the NPR station in Washington, D.C., and third place was awarded to ProPublica. Judges also gave an honorable mention to Business World in New Delhi, the first international news outlet to be honored in the contest.

Schneider Award judge Jennifer Longdon, a writer, speaker, advocate and policy adviser on disability issues, said the Minneapolis Star Tribune series was impressive for “its exhaustive chronicling of the experience of adults with disabilities in Minnesota — from the indignities of sheltered workshops to the hopeless years-long wait for vital services that never arrive. These memorable stories were masterfully told while preserving the dignity of the individuals profiled.”

Serres will accept the award and a $5,000 cash prize on behalf of the Star Tribune Nov. 28 at the Cronkite School, where he also will deliver a talk on his work to students, faculty and the public. His appearance, which is part of the school’s “Must See Mondays” lecture series, will be at 7 p.m. in the school’s First Amendment Forum. It is free of charge and open to the public, and sign language interpreting will be provided.

Judges awarded second place and a $1,500 prize to web producer and reporter Martin Austermuhle of WAMU public radio station in Washington, D.C., for “From Institution to Inclusion.” The series of radio broadcasts and digital reporting chronicled the history of a 40-year-old class action lawsuit that closed Forest Haven, the institution where residents of Washington, D.C., with intellectual and developmental disabilities were sent to live. Austermuhle also reported on the city’s difficulties in caring for residents with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Third place and a $500 prize went to David Epstein of ProPublica for “The DIY Scientist, the Olympian, and the Mutated Gene,” a story of do-it-yourself genetics that helped a 39-year-old Iowa mother named Jill Viles solve her mysterious degenerative muscle disorder. Working with “This American Life” producer Miki Meek, Epstein wrote the podcast script and narrated the story of Viles’ quest to understand what had caused her fat to melt away and her muscles to wither.

Business World of India correspondent Sonal Khetarpal received an honorable mention and a $500 prize for “Insensitive Inc.,” an accounting of employers in India who are implementing inclusive workplace practices, such as flex-time, for employees with Down syndrome and other disabilities.

In addition to Longdon, the judges for this year’s contest were Pulitzer Prize-winning former Washington Post reporter Leon Dash, now Swanlund Chair Professor of Journalism at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; John Hockenberry, an award-winning reporter who hosts “The Takeaway,” a radio news program that airs on almost 200 stations across the country; and Amy Silverman, managing editor of the Phoenix New Times alternative newsweekly and the author of a new book, “My Heart Can’t Even Believe it: A Story of Science, Love and Down Syndrome.”

Since 2013, the top Schneider Awards have gone to Ryan Gabrielson of California Watch, Dan Barry of The New York Times and Heather Vogell of ProPublica.

“The winners have all produced important watchdog journalism that advances the understanding of disability,” said National Center on Disability and Journalism director Kristin Gilger, who is the associate dean of the Cronkite School. “The quality of this year’s entries was more impressive than ever, a sign that disability issues are beginning to receive the kind of media attention that is warranted, given the number of people who live with disabilities. We’re extremely proud of all of the winners and look forward to honoring Chris Serres in November.”

SOURCE: Arizona State University (ASU) Oct. 19, 2016

U.S. Presidents with Disabilities

Our nation has had a distinguished line of presidents with a variety of visible and non-visible disabilities, from epilepsy to hearing impairments to learning disabilities
U,S, Presidents speaking publicly about their disability was discouraged during their lifetime. 
Today, on President's Day (and everyday) we honor them for overcoming the challenges they faced as individuals with disabilities and for leading and serving our country. 
William Jefferson Clinton, 1946- (hearing impairment)
42nd President of the United States (1992-2000); wears hearing aids.
Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1890-1969 (learning disability)
34th President of the United States (1953-1960); leader of the victorious Allied forces in Europe during World War II.
Thomas Jefferson, 1743-1826 (learning disability)
3rd President of the United States (1801-1809); author of the Declaration of Independence; remembered as a great president, a diplomat, political thinker, and founder of the Democratic Party; reported to have many learning difficulties.
John F. Kennedy, 1917-1963 (learning disability, chronic back pain)
35th President of the United States (1960-1963); the youngest man ever elected President and the youngest ever to die in office;  won world respect as the leader of the Free World.
Abraham Lincoln, 1809-1865 (major depression)
16th President (1860-1863); suffered from severe, incapacitating, and occasional suicidal depression; also thought to have Marfan Syndrome.
James Madison, 1751-1836 (epilepsy)
4th President (1809-1817); drafted the Bill of Rights; often referred to as the Father of the Constitution; played a leading role in the Constitutional Convention of 1787 where he helped design the checks and balances system that equalizes the roles of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government; also created the federal system.
Ronald Reagan, 1911-2004 (hearing impairment)
40th President of the United States (1980-1988); also served two terms as governor of California; in 1932 became a radio announcer for WOC in Davenport, Iowa and later WHO in Des Moines, Iowa; in 1937 he signed a contract with Warner Brothers and his first film was “Love is on the Air.”
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1882-1945 (polio)
32nd President of the United States (1933-1945); promised to create jobs for the unemployed and gave assistance to those in need; suffered with polio and worked very hard to hide the extent of his disability.
Theodore Roosevelt, 1858-1919 (visual impairment)26th President of the United States (1901-1909); founder of the Progressive Party; an avid boxer, he suffered a severe blow to the head that detached his retina and led to blindness in the affected eye. 
George Washington, 1732-1799 (learning disability)
1st President of the United States (1789-1797); was unable to spell throughout his life and his grammar usage was very poor; thought to have learning disabilities.
Woodrow Wilson, 1856-1924 (learning disability)
28th President of the United States (1913-1921); had a stroke toward the end of his term that left him partially paralyzed; known to have a dyslexia; World War I leader awarded Nobel Peace Prize for Versailles Treaty, 1919; domestic reforms included 1914 creation of Federal Reserve.

# originally posted July 2015

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

McDonald's to Pay $56,500 to Settle EEOC Disability Discrimination Suit

Refused to Interview Deaf Applicant, Federal Agency Charged
ST. LOUIS -- McDonald's Corporation and McDonald's Restaurants of Missouri will pay $56,500 and furnish other relief to settle a disability discrimination suit by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today. EEOC had charged that McDonald's refused to interview a deaf job applicant at its Belton, Mo., restaurant because of his deafness.
According to EEOC's lawsuit, the young man applied online in June 2012 for a position at the Belton McDonald's. The applicant, who is unable to hear or speak, had previous experience working at a McDonald's in another state as a cook and clean-up team member. According to the suit, when the restaurant manager learned that the young man needed a sign language interpreter for his job interview, she canceled his job interview, even though the applicant's sister volunteered to serve as an interpreter. The restaurant continued to interview and hire new workers after the young man made several attempts to reschedule an interview.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). EEOC filed its lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, (EEOC v. McDonald's Corporation, et al, 4:11-CV-00395), in December 2015 after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
In addition to monetary relief for the applicant, the three-year consent decree resolving the suit requires McDonald's, which recently sold the Belton restaurant, to ensure that the new owner trains management employees on the ADA's requirements, including providing reasonable accommodations to disabled applicants and employees. The restaurant will also maintain a telephone line that applicants can call to request accommodation, and McDonald's will submit annual compliance reports to EEOC.
"Federal law clearly requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to deaf and hearing-impaired employees and applicants," said EEOC St. Louis District Director James R. Neely, Jr.
EEOC Regional Attorney Andrea G. Baran added, "Unemployment rates for disabled workers far exceed those of the general population, and employers create a huge barrier to employment when they fail to provide necessary reasonable accommodations to applicants with disabilities. Such behavior is short-sighted in addition to being unlawful."
EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Dayna F Deck said, "Employers must recognize their obligation to accommodate applicants with disabilities. If a deaf applicant's primary language is American Sign Language, then working with the applicant to have an ASL interpreter at the job interview is key to providing that applicant an equal opportunity to compete for the job."
Eliminating barriers in recruitment and hiring is one of six national priorities identified by EEOC's Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).
EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. The St. Louis District Office oversees Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and a portion of southern Illinois. Further information about EEOC is available on its website at
SOURCE: Press Release EEOC Oct 18, 2016

Salvation Army Sued by EEOC for Disability Discrimination

Aid Organization Rejects Applicant Due to Intellectual Disability, Federal Agency Charges
ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Global charitable organization the Salvation Army violated federal law when it refused to hire a young man with an intellectual disability for an entry-level position at its Wasilla, Alaska thrift store, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.
Based on the strength of his initial job interview, EEOC found that the Salvation Army store manager actually recommended hiring the applicant, who was in his early 20s, as a donation attendant in spring 2014. This position required no prior experience and simply involved accepting and sorting goods. The young man had completed high school and a follow-up job readiness program, finished three internships at medical centers, and held a part-time job at a local church. However, the Salvation Army requested a highly unusual second interview, and EEOC charges that the organiza­tion ultimately rejected this applicant due to stereotypes about his ability to interact with the public.
Failing to hire a qualified applicant because of a disability violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska at Anchorage (Case No. 3:16-cv-00240-SLG) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. EEOC seeks monetary damages on behalf of the applicant, and injunctive relief such as training on anti-discrimination laws, posting of anti-discrimination notices at the worksite, and compliance reporting.
"This applicant was fully capable of doing this entry-level job," said Nancy Sienko, director of EEOC's Seattle Field Office. "Being judged by his disability instead of his actual abilities and accomplishments was a big blow to a young person at the start of his job search - and disadvantaged the Salvation Army as well."
EEOC attorney May Che said, "The ADA was enacted to ensure that employers evaluate candidates based on individual merit rather than general stereotypes about what people with intellectual disabilities can or cannot do. We filed this suit to ensure that all workers have a level playing field and can participate in the workforce to their fullest ability."
According to publicly available information and its website,, the Salvation Army employs over 100,000 people and serves over 120 countries worldwide.
EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about EEOC is available on its website at
SOURCE: Press Release EEOC Oct. 17, 2016 

Providing Accessible Transportation Services: Professional Development Resources for Transportation Providers Webinar Oct. 27th

Workforce development training is essential to building an accessible transportation environment. Join us for this free webinar to learn more about the availability of training for transportation service providers. Attendees will learn about multiple training topics, providers, and sources, including: university programs, national training and technical assistance programs, consultants, state, regional and national conferences, and transportation agencies. Attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions and offer additional information about their own training programs and needs.

Date: Thursday, October 27, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM to 1:30 PM [Mountain Time]

Donna Smith, Senior Director, Easterseals Project Action Consulting
Carol Wright Kenderdine, Assistant Vice President for Mobility & Transportation, Easterseals Transportation Group & Co-Director, National Aging and Disability Transportation Center

Check out the webinar flyer for more information.

Click here to register for this webinar.

SOURCE:  Easterseals Project Action Consulting


United Cerebral Palsy has compiled this international resource guide covering organizations providing services worldwide.

There are a myriad of disability, health and human service programs in every state and community however they are not always easy to find. Whether you need healthcare, home modifications, or financial assistance—UNITED CEREBRAL PALSY INTERNATIONAL RESOURCE GUIDE can direct you to the organizations that can help.


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Presidential Candidates Questionnaire Results for America's Disability Community Concerns

The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), the National Council for Independent Living(NCIL), and the REV UP Campaign are pleased to share the results of the 2016 Presidential Candidate Questionnaire. These questions have been sent to the current presidential candidates Donald Trump (R) and Hillary Clinton (D).

Hillary Clinton (D) was the first candidate for the 2016 presidential election to complete the REV UP Presidential Candidate Questionnaire. 

Donald Trump (R) also did respond to the REV UP Presidential Candidate Questionnaire.
Trump Campaign Response to REV UP Questionnaire 

SOURCE: American Association of People with Disabilities

Miami University Agrees to Overhaul Critical Technologies to Settle Disability Discrimination Lawsuit

Oct. 17 -- The Justice Department filed a proposed consent decree today to resolve allegations that Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by using inaccessible classroom and other technologies.
Under the consent decree, which is pending court approval, Miami University will make significant improvements to ensure that technologies across all its campuses are accessible to individuals with disabilities and will pay $25,000 to compensate individuals with disabilities.  The agreement also requires reforms to Miami University’s technology procurement practices.  These improvements will benefit all current and future Miami University students with disabilities.
As part of the consent decree, Miami University will, among other things:
  • ensure that its web content and learning management systems conform with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 AA standards;
  • meet with every student who has a disability for which he or she requires assistive technologies or curricular materials in alternate formats, and their instructors, every semester to develop an accessibility plan; and
  • procure web technology or software that best meets various accessibility standards.
“Technology in the classroom and across campus provides the backbone for full and equal participation in college life,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.  “This settlement will ensure that students with disabilities can access and receive the full benefit of 21st century technology in higher education.”                                                     
“The courage of the students who participated in the United States’ investigation led to this broad agreement that touches the lives of Miami University students with disabilities,” said U.S. Attorney Benjamin C. Glassman of the Southern District of Ohio.  “This agreement between the Justice Department and Miami University will ensure full access to technology that is crucial to academic success.”
The Justice Department intervened in this case, Dudley v. Miami University, which was originally brought by a single student.  The intervention expanded the case to ensure comprehensive relief under Title II of the ADA for all Miami University students with disabilities.  In the complaint, the department alleged that Miami University uses technologies in its programs, services and activities that are inaccessible to individuals with disabilities, including current and former students who have vision, hearing or learning disabilities.
The department further alleged that Miami University failed to make these technologies accessible and otherwise failed to ensure that individuals with disabilities could interact with Miami University’s websites and access course assignments, textbooks and other materials on an equal basis with students who do not have disabilities.  These failures deprived current and former students and others with disabilities an equal opportunity to participate in and benefit from all of Miami University’s educational opportunities.
For more information or for a copy of the consent decree, please visit the department’s ADA website at  Those interested in finding out more about the ADA may also call the Justice Department’s toll-free ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 or 800-514-0383 (TDD). 

SOURCE: Press Release Oct. 17, 2016 Dept. of Justice

Social Security 2017 Cost-Of-Living Adjustment Will Increase 0.3 Percent

For 2017 Social Security Checks for 66 million beneficiaries will rise 0.3 Percent, or equal to a increase of $3.00 on $1000.00 of benefits . This is the smallest percentage increase of any year in which benefits did rise. Since 1975, Social Security's general benefit increases have been based on increases in the cost of living, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI-W).

The CPI-W rose this year. When inflation increases, your cost of living also goes up. Prices for goods and services, on average, are a little more expensive. Since the CPI-W did rise, the law increases benefits to help offset inflation. As a result, monthly Social Security and SSI benefits for over 65 million Americans will increase 0.3 percent in 2017.

There have only been three years without any increase at all since Social Security's cost-of-living adjustment (cola) was put in place in 1975 -- 2010, 2011 and 2016. was put in place in 1975 -- 2010, 2011 and 2016. The average monthly Social Security check is $1,238.00.

Information about Medicare changes for 2017, when announced, will be available at For some beneficiaries, their Social Security increase may be partially or completely offset by increases in Medicare premiums.

You can find more information about the 2017 COLA, at For changes in the national average wage index, go to

Monday, October 17, 2016

Eighth Annual Disability Culture Cabaret in Chicago on Nov. 18th, 2016

WHERE: Access Living 115 West Chicago Ave, Chicago
WHEN: November 18th, 2016 
TIME:  6:30-8:00 PM

FREE ADMISSION! Be prepared for some Serious Fun!
This event is wheelchair accessible. It is free and open to the public. Personal Assistants, Narrative Description and Sign Language Interpreters will be provided. Please refrain from wearing scented products.

The event is brought to you by Access LivingBodies of Work Network of Disability Arts and Culture and UIC Department of Disability and Human Development
This program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency
Facebook Page:

MOPD Informational Session for People with Disabilities in Chicago Nov. 9, 2016

click image to enlarge
The City of Chicago Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD) is hosting another Informational Session will focus will be on knowing your rights. MOPD invited a few agencies to come discuss their services and answer any questions you may have.

WHEN: November 9th, 2016 from 10am-12:30pm

WHERE: MOPD field office - 2102 West Ogden Avenue, Room A


Please come with your questions and/or documents for presenters to review.

Please contact for more information. If you anticipate needing any type of accommodation or have questions about the physical access provided, please contact Frances A. Learnahan, Disabilities Specialist III at (312) 746-5773 (voice), (312) 744-7833 (TTY) or at Please allow at least 4-5 business days advance notice. Last minute requests will be accepted, but may be unable to fulfill.

You and the Law: 2016 Election Voting Rights and Access to the Polls, Chicago Bar Assn. video (cc)

The Chicago Bar Association hosted a discussion regarding voting rights at the polls, how/where to register to vote; how to report a concern; issues relating to accessibility for disenfranchised populations, including those with disabilities. The following video (cc) was posted on YouTube Oct.7, 2016 by the The Chicago Bar Association.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Webinar Nov. 4th - Employment and Disability Job Report

The next nTIDE Lunch & Learn Webinar will take place on Friday, November 4, 2016 at 12 noon EST.

Learn more about the October Jobs Report and how it fits into longer term employment trends, hear about programs and research across the country addressing employment and disability, and listen to a guest speaker on current disability employment issues.

You can view previous webinars, download the audio and read the transcripts: CLICK HERE
About the nTIDE Lunch & Learn Webinar
The Employment Policy & Measurement Rehabilitation Research and Training Center(EPM-RRTC) at the University of New Hampshire, in partnership with Kessler Foundation and the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) have launched a monthly webinar. On the first Friday of every month, corresponding with the Bureau of Labor Statistics jobs report, we will be offering a live broadcast via Zoom Webinar to share the results of the latest nTIDE findings. In addition, we will provide news and updates from the field of Disability Employment, as well as host an invited panelist who will discuss current disability related findings and events. Follow the conversation on Twitter at #nTIDElearn.

Autism Speaks updates their mission statement, with advocacy, support, and acceptance

“Cure” has been replaced with advocacy, support, and acceptance through the lifespan.

Autism Speaks’ board of directors in  September voted to modify the mission statement, the first change since the nonprofit was established in 2005.

Here is the mission statement on the Autism Speaks website as it was in July:
At Autism Speaks, our goal is to change the future for all who struggle with an autism spectrum disorder.
We are dedicated to funding global biomedical research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a possible cure for autism. We strive to raise public awareness about autism and its effects on individuals, families, and society: and we work to bring hope to all who deal with the hardships of this disorder. We are committed to raising the funds necessary to support these goals.
Autism Speaks aims to bring the autism community together as one strong voice to urge the government and private sector to listen to our concerns and take action to address this urgent global health crisis. It is our firm belief that, working together, we will find the missing pieces of the puzzle.
Click the links to learn more about our leadership, our board of directors, our scientific boards and our family services committee.
Current Updated Mission Statement:
Autism Speaks is dedicated to promoting solutions, across the spectrum and throughout the lifespan, for the needs of individuals with autism and their families through advocacy and support; increasing understanding and acceptance of autism spectrum disorder; and advancing research into causes and better interventions for autism spectrum disorder and related conditions.
Autism Speaks enhances lives today and is accelerating a spectrum of solutions for tomorrow.
Stephen Mark Shore, board of directors member wrote on his Facebook page about the change: “Cure” has been replaced with advocacy, support, and acceptance through the lifespan.

As Autism Speaks tries to redefine it's purpose and mission, since the death of co-founder Suzanne Wright this summer. Only time will tell if Autism Speaks will be able to continue as they go forward.

Delaware is the First State to Successfully Comply with the Terms of Olmstead v. L.C. Settlement

Federal Court Terminates Agreement after Delaware Reforms Service System for People with Mental Illness

Delaware is the First Jurisdiction in the Nation to Successfully Comply with the Terms of an Olmstead v. L.C. Settlement and be Released from Court Oversight
The Justice Department announced today that the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware terminated the remedial settlement agreement governing the state of Delaware’s service system for people with serious and persistent mental illness.  The court agreed with the joint motion of the state and the Justice Department that Delaware had fully complied with the terms of the agreement, based on the assessment of an independent court monitor.
The state significantly expanded and enhanced community-based mental health services for individuals with serious and persistent mental illness under the agreement, as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Supreme Court’s Olmstead v. L.C decision.  The agreement emphasized the need to transition institutionalized people to the community and prevent people from unnecessarily entering institutions.
“Our agreement prompted Delaware to institute comprehensive reforms and provide services to people with serious and persistent mental illness in integrated community settings,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.  “Throughout this process, we saw the impact of the state’s hard work, leadership and commitment to drive positive change.  People with mental illness in Delaware can now live in their own communities, engage with their families and friends and lead meaningful, fulfilling lives.”
Since entry of the agreement, the state has significantly reduced its reliance on institutional care, particularly at the state-run Delaware Psychiatric Center (DPC).  It has reduced the number of bed days used by the target population in DPC by 47.2 percent.  The number of Medicaid-eligible Delawareans receiving community-based services has increased by 92 percent since the United States began its investigation. 
Delaware has developed a strong peer and self-advocacy movement that is incorporated into the entire service system: peers orient individuals upon their admission to DPC, assist them during the course of their hospitalization and provide personal care items upon discharge to the community; operate drop-in centers; conduct quality reviews of mental health services; and are essential members of Assertive Community Treatment, intensive case management, crisis apartment and crisis walk-in center teams.
The state has also established a robust quality assurance and performance improvement system in order to continue the reforms and address issues that may arise for people with mental illness in Delaware.  These efforts will be sustained by recently passed legislation that established an independent oversight commission to monitor Delaware’s public mental health system. 
These reforms to the state’s mental health system have also helped reduce unnecessary arrests and incarceration of people with SPMI.  For instance, Delaware created two statewide mobile crisis teams that typically divert 80 to 90 percent of people they encounter from hospitalization and criminal justice interaction.  The state’s crisis walk-in center in Sussex County diverts about 70 percent of people from further hospitalization or criminal justice interaction.  This walk-in center reports that it takes law enforcement officers less than 10 minutes on average to drop-off an individual in a mental health crisis, which spares police officers an unnecessary and lengthy emergency room admission or jail booking process.  Delaware also operates a peer program in the state’s Mental Health Court that serves people with SPMI or co-occurring disorders.  Mental Health Court Peers support individuals throughout the process and help defendants access community resources that are necessary to increased stability in the community, including housing and transportation. 
The department initiated its investigation pursuant to the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), putting a primary focus on obtaining reforms to address violations of the ADA, as interpreted in Olmstead., requiring that individuals with disabilities receive services and supports in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs.  On Nov. 9, 2010, the United States issued a findings letter to Delaware that detailed systemic conditions and practices that violated the constitutional and statutory rights of individuals with serious and persistent mental illness in the state’s system.  The findings letter, settlement agreement, monitor’s reports and papers related to the instant motion are available here.
The department has additional Olmstead settlement agreements in Georgia, Virginia, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island and the city of Providence.
SOURCE: Press Release Oct 11, 2016 - Department of Justice

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Illinois Submits Medicaid Waiver to Improve Delivery of Behavioral Healthcare

Waiver will allow state to care for our most vulnerable citizens earlier and more efficiently
SPRINGFIELD, IL (Oct 13, 2016)  – Governor Rauner joined agency directors, local officials and stakeholders today to announce Illinois has officially submitted the 1115 Medicaid waiver proposal to the federal government. This waiver will allow Illinois to use innovative health strategies for better coordination and integrated care, and will address behavioral health and substance abuse treatment for some of our most vulnerable residents.

"Illinois is transforming the way we provide behavioral and mental health care services to our residents," Governor Rauner said. "This waiver focuses on helping the whole person by getting the right services to the right person in the right setting at the right time. I want to thank our agency directors, especially Directors Norwood and Sheldon and Secretary Dimas, for their work on this waiver. I also want to thank the hundreds of stakeholders who provided input and feedback to make our waiver proposal even stronger."

Historically, the state has spent most of its resources—tens of billions of dollars—on a broken patchwork of reactive, expensive, and ineffective interventions. This waiver allows Illinois to take a holistic look at the individual and better coordinate their care across all state agencies. The changes the Administration is seeking will allow the State to intervene earlier and increase access to services, leading to more stability and a more productive life.

"With this waiver, we will be able to build a behavioral health system that offers integrated and comprehensive care focused on the whole person, and by maximizing federal assistance, we will be able to achieve this goal in a fiscally sustainable way," Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services Director Felicia Norwood said.

"I thank the Rauner Administration for recognizing the behavioral and mental health challenges we face in Illinois and their willingness to confront them," Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago) said.

"I am excited that the State of Illinois has submitted a Section 1115 Waiver proposal to the federal government as part of its plan to strengthen behavioral health services in our State and make them more accessible and affordable," Rep. Kathleen Willis (D - Addison) said. "I am also pleased the State conducted an extensive stakeholder engagement process which gave hundreds of citizens and organizations an opportunity for input as the plan was being developed. This will be a first of its kind program that has wide support throughout the provider community and the legislature. I look forward to working with all of the departments that collaborated in this process in order to implement what will be an exciting new era in Illinois history."

This waiver was developed from the collaboration between 12 state agencies and the Governor’s Office, as well as community partners and stakeholders. The state sought input from more than 2,000 stakeholders and incorporated feedback from roughly 200 written responses. The State also held public hearings to gather further input from stakeholders. The State hopes to work with the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to finalize the waiver as soon as possible.

Through this waiver, Illinois is requesting to use $2.7 billion in federal Medicaid funds that would not otherwise be offered. This money will be invested in early interventions and infrastructure over the next five years to improve the quality of care delivered while avoiding more costly admissions and treatment.

"The State's Medicaid Waiver is incredibly important for cities like Rockford that experience the challenge of high rates of poverty and crime coupled with unmet behavioral health needs," Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey said.

"We are particularly pleased to work with the state on ways we can enhance behavioral health services to the population in Cook County Jail, many of whom find themselves there as a direct result of mental health and substance abuse issues," Deputy CEO Finance and Strategy of Cook County Health and Hospital System Doug Elwell said.

"It is exciting to see the state make this commitment to increased access to and integration of behavioral health into the Medicaid system," said Kari M. Wolf, MD, Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at SIU School of Medicine. "In my career I have seen first-hand how the 1115 Waiver process can transform behavioral health care delivery."

Video of the event will be posted here.

SOURCE: State of Illinois Press Release

Chicago Disability Advocates File Federal Lawsuit Against Uber in Chicago, Lack of Accessible Vehicles

CHICAGO (Oct. 13, 2016) – Access Living of Metropolitan Chicago, along with Michelle Garcia, Rahnee Patrick and Justin Cooper, filed a federal complaint today against Uber Technologies, Inc., for violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The complaint was filed by Chicago-based law firm Much Shelist, P.C., in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division.

Access Living is a Chicago-based, nationally recognized, not-for-profit advocacy organization for people with disabilities. Garcia and Patrick are employees of Access Living. Cooper is a member of Access Living’s Young Professionals’ Council.

Currently, Uber operates a service that is unusable by people who use motorized wheelchairs and other mobility devices, in violation of the ADA’s national mandate to eliminate discrimination against persons with disabilities, including discrimination in discounted travel and transportation services.

The complaint seeks a declaration that the ADA require Uber to provide equivalent service to people with disabilities, and to enjoin Uber to provide service to all, including those who need to ride in wheelchair-accessible vehicles. In June 2015 alone, Uber provided a total of 1,935,253 rides in Chicago. Yet, , from September 2011—when it started operating in Chicago—to August 2015, Uber provided just 14 rides to motorized wheelchair users who require wheelchair-accessible vehicles.
“Transportation access has always been a central issue of civil rights for people with disabilities,” said Steven P. Blonder, Principal in the Litigation & Dispute Resolution practice group at Much Shelist. “Transportation is key to the independence of people with disabilities, providing a link to education, employment and social activities. As a growing player in our transportation system, Uber is responsible for delivering its part of that link.”
For people who use motorized wheelchairs or manual wheelchairs and cannot transfer their chairs into a car, Uber offers a service called UberWAV. According to the plaintiffs, this service has so few vehicles that it often shows no rides available anywhere in the Chicago area.
“Millions of people in Chicago use Uber every day because it is convenient, timely and cost-effective,” said Justin Cooper, who lives in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago. “My wheelchair cannot transfer into a regular Uber vehicle and even if I were lucky enough to find a wheelchair-accessible vehicle operating, I would have to wait for that vehicle to cross the city to reach me. No one would use Uber if the entire service worked this way.”
According to Access Living representatives, for more than two years, despite repeated assurances from Uber representatives, Uber has failed to provide wheelchair-accessible services to motorized wheelchair users that are equivalent to the services provided to UberX passengers. In 2016, Uber campaigned aggressively against an amendment to a proposed amendment to Chicago’s rideshare ordinance that would have required Uber to provide equivalent services. The ordinance that eventually passed includes no mention of equivalent services for passengers that require wheelchair-accessible vehicles.

After the rideshare amendment failed to pass, on August 3, 2016, Access Living met with Uber to discuss accessibility. At the meeting, Uber indicated that it had no intention of providing equivalent response times to people who require wheelchair-accessible vehicles.
“Access Living had no choice but to take the significant action of litigation. People with disabilities have fought for generations to gain rights to equal services, ranging from mainline transit to taxis,” said Marca Bristo, President and CEO of Access Living. “This suit continues the struggle to enable individuals with disabilities to participate as full members of society. It is also a fight to avoid losing ground, as Uber pushes out existing accessible transportation services, further limiting options for people with disabilities.”
Access Living filed the complaint on behalf of its constituents and employees, who are eager to see Uber provide accessible transportation to those with disabilities that is equivalent to the service non-disabled rider’s receive:

“Every week, I go to work, I attend meetings, and I go to events. Many of my colleagues and my peers can depend on Uber to get quickly from place to place at an affordable price. Yet I cannot because Uber does not provide reliable service to people who request wheelchair-accessible vehicles.”
--Michelle Garcia, plaintiff and Access Living employee
“The ability to travel together is important for all relationships, whether social or business. My husband requires a wheelchair-accessible vehicle, and I will not allow a company’s business model to force us to travel in separate vehicles. Going to dinner with my husband should be the same for me as it is for everyone else.”
--Rahnee Patrick, plaintiff and Access Living employee
“For Cooper, Garcia, Patrick and others, the Americans with Disability Act guarantees full participation in all aspects of society and the end of historical isolation and segregation of people with disabilities,” Bristo said. “This lawsuit seeks to enforce that guarantee.”
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About Access Living:
Established in 1980, Access Living is a non-profit, Chicago-based disability rights and service organization that provides individualized, peer-based services for people with disabilities. With a strong influence in public policy and social reform, Access Living is a leading force in the community. Committed to challenging stereotypes, protecting civil rights and breaking institutional and community barriers, Access Living is a nationally recognized change agent at the forefront of the disability rights movement.

About Much Shelist:
Much Shelist is a Chicago-based full-service business law firm with offices in Chicago and Irvine, CA. Founded in 1970, Much Shelist has nearly 100 attorneys. The firm offers services in a wide range of practice areas, including corporate law; mergers and acquisitions; private equity; venture capital and emerging growth companies; commercial finance; taxation and business planning; labor and employment; commercial real estate and construction; business litigation and dispute resolution; insurance coverage and risk management; intellectual property and technology; health care law; and wealth transfer and succession planning. For more information, visit or follow the firm on Twitter at @MuchShelistLaw.

SOURCE: Press Release 10/13/2016 Access Living /  Much Shelist
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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

National Institute on Disability, Holding Listening Sessions Across The USA in Fall 2016

The National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) will hold a number of listening sessions across the country to help inform future funding priorities and strategic direction. Attendees should come prepared to answer questions about barriers to being active in the community and improvements they would like to see. 

The meetings will take place from 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. local time at the following locations. You can attend in person, listen by phone or provide comments by email. Visit the website for more details and information on the locations.

October 14, 2016
Denver, CO

October 28, 2016
San Francisco, CA

November 1, 2016
Chicago, IL

November 18, 2016
Boston, MA

December 5, 2016
Dallas, TX

Please be prepared to show a government-issued photo ID (e.g., driver’s license) and go through a security check point to access the building at each location.

Registration (Required if you plan to attend in person or listen by phone)

Register online, by fax at 703-356-8314 or by phone at 703-356-8035, ext. 105. For questions or assistance with registration, contact Robin Toliver, New Editions Consulting, Inc., at 703-356-8035 ext. 105.

Provide Comments by Email

NIDILRR will accept written comments via email at  Please submit your comments by December 12, 2016.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

REVISED Title II ADA Action Guide for Self Evaluation and Transition Planning - Webinar Oct. 18th

Do you remember the Title II Action Guide? This was an early resource issued shortly after the passage of the ADA. It was designed to assist local and state governments develop their self-evaluation and transition plans. 

The Great Lakes ADA Center in collaboration with the ADA National Network is pleased to announce the October ADA Audio Conference Series Session titledIntroducing the REVISED Title II Action Guide for Self Evaluation and Transition Planning” 

We are happy to announce that this valuable resource has been updated to reflect the 2010 Standards and revisions to the Title II Regulations! Join the October ADA Audio Conference session to see a "sneak preview" of the REVISED "Title II Action Guide (TTAG)" which is will now be a web-based resource. The purpose of this resource continues to be helping state and local governments understand their ADA obligations, conduct a self-evaluation, implement changes and develop a transition plan. The TTAG team at the New England ADA Center will provide information on the revised guide and show wire frames (the site is not "Live" yet) showing the content and explain how the site is intended to be used.

Date: October 18, 2016
Time: 2:00-3:30pm ET
Cost: No Charge

Registration: (if you don’t have an account in our system you will be prompted to set up an account prior to registration)

This session will be delivered via Audio Conference and/or webinar platform. Closed captioning is available via the webinar platform.

Questions regarding this program should be directed to 877-232-1990 V/TTY or by email to