Friday, February 27, 2015

Veterans with Disabilities Fair Housing Act Toolkit

as posted by the Equal Rights Center (ERC)

Veterans with Disabilities ToolkitDownload the Veterans with Disabilities Toolkit -CLICK

If you are one of the more than half a million veterans who have experienced burns, amputations, traumatic brain injury, paralysis, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression or any other condition that substantially limits your life activities, you have the right to housing that suits your needs.
The federal Fair Housing Act protects the rights of veterans with disabilities who are seeking equal access to housing. Under the Fair Housing Act, a disability is defined as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity such as: seeing, hearing, working, and/or the operation of major bodily functions.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

March is National Multiple Sclerosis "MS" Awareness Month, Greater Illinois Chapter in 2015

National MS Society, Greater IL Chapter

March is National Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month

CHICAGO, Feb. 26, 2015 — More than 20,000 Illinoisans live with multiple sclerosis, an unpredictable, often disabling disease that interrupts the flow of information in the central nervous system, but the disease’s impact stretches much further, to family members, friends and loved ones.

Throughout March, which is MS Awareness Month, staff and volunteers at the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Greater Illinois Chapter will be pounding the pavement to raise funds and promote MS research, advocacy, programs and services in its mission to create a world free of MS.

Activities taking place throughout the month promoting MS awareness include the following:

  • Paint the Town Orange – Chicago residents can expect to see the city in a whole new light as the skyline glows a little more orange than usual. Several buildings throughout the city, including Willis Tower, will light up their towers and place posters and messaging promoting MS research inside their buildings. In addition, Wrigley Field will highlight MS awareness on their famous marquee.

  • Dine to End MS – One Off Hospitality Group and Chili’s restaurants will be taking part in a unique restaurant program that raises MS awareness and funds through special promotions. All eight One Off restaurants will be participating, including Avec, Big Star, Blackbird, Dove’s Luncheonette, Publican, Publican Quality Meats, Violet Hour and Nico Osteria. In addition, Chili’s will donate 10 percent of purchases made using a special voucher that can be found on the Greater Illinois Chapter website at

  • “The MS Project” lottery ticket – The Illinois Lottery will launch its 2015 “MS Project” instant win scratch-off ticket on Monday, March 2. The $5 ticket, now in its eighth year, gives buyers a chance to win $250,000, with all net proceeds helping to fund MS research projects throughout Illinois. Tickets will be available at retailers statewide.

  • Blitz Days – Volunteers will be on the move during March, distributing MS Awareness Month materials and orange Tootsie Pops at locations throughout downtown Chicago and its surrounding areas.

  • Text to Give – Any individual with an active cell phone who wants to make a difference to help end MS forever can participate in the Greater Illinois Chapter’s Text to Give campaign, with all proceeds going toward MS research. Donations of $10 can be made by texting “AWARE” to 20222 throughout the month.

Additional promotions and fun activities will take place on the Greater Illinois Chapter’s social media pages, and @MSgreaterIL on Twitter. If you are interested in volunteering with the Greater Illinois Chapter during MS Awareness Month, contact Jocelyn Cheng at 312.423.1139 or

 You can share your story and learn more about multiple sclerosis at, an online community for making meaningful connections in the movement to end MS. Visitors and members can learn more about MS, upload their own photo and connection to share with others, join or start groups and discussions, find expert MS information and opinions, and download MS awareness tools. Every connection you create moves us closer to a world free of MS and shows your commitment to the MS movement.

Multiple Sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease that interrupts the flow of information in the central nervous system, which includes the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerve. The Greater Illinois Chapter mobilizes people and resources to drive research for a cure and to address the challenges of more than 20,000 individuals in Illinois and 2.3 million worldwide affected by MS. For more information visit

Disabled and Senior passengers under the spotlight at 2015 Passenger Terminal EXPO Conference

article published by Reduced Mobility Rights Limited, Written by George Sensalis \ Feb 26, 2015

Boasting an outstanding speakers' line-up, this year’s Passenger Terminal EXPO Conference hosts the first ever dedicated sub-session to over 60s and disabled passengers.

Attracting over 1,200 senior airport, airline, aviation authority, and government executives from all over the world, the Passenger Terminal EXPO Conference is the most highly regarded airport conference in the world.

For the first time in its history, the Paris edition of the Conference hosts a sub-session solely focusing on ageing passengers and people with disabilities. 

Chaired by Reduced Mobility Rights director Roberto Castiglioni, the sub-session will start at 3.30 PM on 11 March. 
“I am honoured to chair the first ever session fully dedicated to ageing population and disabilities,” said Roberto Castiglioni.” We Passenger Terminal EXPO Conference 2015have an All Star line-up of speakers who will engage the extraordinary audience of the Conference raising awareness and sharing solutions to address the needs of these categories of passengers.”

Air travel facilitation to meet the needs of ageing population and people with disabilities is a growing concern in the aviation and airport industry. In Japan, where 30% of the population is over 60, Universal Design has become a standard feature of airport infrastructure to provide an environment that suits most needs. In the UK, airports are experiencing an year-on-year double digit growth in requests for assistance from passengers with reduced mobility and other disabilities.

Geraldine LundyGeraldine Lundy, Virgin Atlantic Airways Passenger Accessibility Manager, will explore the challenges that hidden disabilities pose for everyone involved in the passenger experience. She will also present solutions that can enhance the experience for the customer and minimise the impact of any issues.

Geraldine has worked in the Medical Services department at Virgin Atlantic Airways for sixteen and a half years. Four years ago she was delighted to become the Passenger Accessibility Manager for the airline. The two key aspects of her role are to ensure that any customer with a disability travels as safely and comfortably as possible, and that the airline is compliant with all disability-related legislation and regulations.

Laurel Van HornLaurel Van Horn, Programme Director for Open Doors Organization, will present the 2015 follow-up study of American adult travellers with disabilities. The research measures travel behaviours like how often people travel, how much money they spend, where they travel in the USA and abroad, and which sources of information and technology they rely on. The presentation will compare 2015 findings with earlier ODO studies to reveal differences over time, including how well the aviation industry is meeting the needs of this growing market.

Laurel has specialised in accessible travel and hospitality since 1987, working as a writer, educator and consultant. For the past 11 years she has been the Programme Director for Open Doors Organization (ODO), the Chicago-based non-profit best known for its nationwide studies of the disability travel market.

Roberto CastiglioniRoberto Castiglioni, Reduced Mobility Rights founder and director. At a time when expectations about the airport experience are greater than ever before, Roberto will explore solutions on hand to facilitate delivery customer service excellence to passengers with special needs. 

He will remind the audience passengers with special needs are not only disabled passengers. Over 65s, families with infants and toddlers, mainstream passengers who do not understand the local and English language all require some kind of direct or indirect support.

Roberto is the founder and director of Reduced Mobility Rights Limited. He is also a member of Easyjet Special Assistance Advisory Group, Chair of the ESAAG Airport Experience sub-group, and member of the Access to Air Travel Advisory Group of the UK Civil Aviation Authority.

Kavaragu MtambuziKavaragu Mtambuzi, DOT Compliance Analyst at Virgin America, will discuss improving the overall experience for guests with disabilities sharing the Virgin America approach. On her watch, Virgin America has taken a stance that it is more important to be proactive with the services it provides rather than reacting to complaints or concerns after the fact.

Kavaragu is an expert in regulatory compliance issues, with over 10 years of experience in the airline industry. Over the past four years she has worked to develop a comprehensive programme for assisting guests with disabilities.

EEOC Fiscal Year 2014 Enforcement and Litigation Data - National and State Data

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission


EEOC Releases Fiscal Year 2014 Enforcement and Litigation Data

Percentage of Claims Alleging Retaliation Reaches Record High, While Number of Charges Decrease
WASHINGTON-The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today released a comprehensive set of fiscal year 2014 private sector data tables providing detailed breakdowns for the 88,778 charges of workplace discrimination the agency received. The fiscal year ran from Oct. 1, 2013, to Sept. 30, 2014.
The number of charges filed decreased compared with recent fiscal years, due in part to the government shutdown during the reporting period. While charge filings were down overall compared to the previous fiscal year, first quarter charge filings--which included the period of the shutdown--were 3,000 to 5,000 less than the other quarters.
Among the charges the EEOC received, the percentage of charges alleging retaliation reached its highest amount ever: 42.8 percent. The percentage of charges alleging race discrimination, the second most common allegation, has remained steady at approximately 35 percent. In fiscal year 2014, the EEOC obtained $296.1 million in total monetary relief through its enforcement program prior to the filing of litigation.
The number of lawsuits on the merits filed by the EEOC's Office of General Counsel throughout the nation was 133, up slightly from the previous two fiscal years. A lawsuit on the merits involves an allegation of discrimination, compared with procedural lawsuits, which are filed mostly to enforce subpoenas or for preliminary relief. Monetary relief from cases litigated, including settlements, totaled $22.5 million.
"Behind these numbers are individuals who turned to the EEOC because they believe that they have suffered unlawful discrimination," said EEOC Chair Jenny R. Yang. "The EEOC remains committed to meaningful resolution of charges and strategic enforcement to eliminate barriers to equal employment opportunity."
The updated data include the popular tables of Statutes by Issue and Bases by Issue. "Bases" refers to the protected characteristics giving rise to the discrimination, such as sex or age. In contrast "issue" is the discriminatory action, such as discharge or failure to promote.
More specifically, the charge numbers show the following breakdowns by bases alleged in descending order.
  • Retaliation under all statutes: 37,955 (42.8 percent of all charges filed)
  • Race (including racial harassment): 31,073 (35 percent)
  • Sex (including pregnancy and sexual harassment): 26,027 (29.3 percent)
  • Disability: 25,369 (28.6 percent)
  • Age: 20,588 (23.2 percent)
  • National Origin: 9,579 (10.8 percent)
  • Religion: 3,549 (4.0 percent)
  • Color: 2,756 (3.1 percent)
  • Equal Pay Act: 938 (1.1 percent) but note that sex-based wage discrimination can also be charged under Title VII's sex discrimination provision
  • Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act: 333 (0.4 percent)
These percentages add up to more than 100 because some charges allege multiple bases, such as discrimination on the bases of race and color, or sex and retaliation.
In fiscal year 2014, 30 percent of the charges filed with EEOC alleged the issue of harassment on various bases, such as race harassment or harassment on the basis of disability. Preventing harassment through systemic enforcement and targeted outreach is a priority issue for the Commission. The January 14, 2015 Commission meeting focused on Workplace Harassment. The new table for All Harassment Charges includes sexual harassment as well as other forms of harassment.Sexual Harassment still remains as a separate table, joined by new tables showing charges of Race Harassment as well as Charges Alleging Harassment Other than Sexual Harassment.
Discharge continues to be the most common issue for all bases under Title VII, the ADEA and the ADA. Allegations of harassment for all bases were the next most frequently cited issue, with the exception of race. For the basis of race, discriminatory terms and conditions of employment was the second most frequently cited issue (9,332), with harassment being the third (9,023).
The updated tables also include Charges by State. The greatest number of charges were filed in Texas (8,035), followed by Florida (7,528) and California (6,363).
The EEOC enforces the nation's laws prohibiting discrimination in employment. Further information about the EEOC is available at

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

What do blind people experience when they watch a movie? 7 yr old girl "Emily's Oz" describes her "Wizard of Oz"

Comcast launched a campaign in the 2015 Oscars called “Emily’s Oz,” featuring a remarkable little girl named Emily, who has been blind since birth. They tell the story of what Emily “sees” when she watches her favorite movie, The Wizard of Oz, and how XFINITY’s new X1 Talking Guide is helping people like her find and enjoy their favorite movies and TV shows independently.

The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) is honoring the '2015 Corporate Leadership Award' to Comcast NBCUniversal on March 11th, 2015 at AAPD 2015 Leadership Awards Gala in Washington, DC.

Below are 2 videos, the First is the making of "Emily's OZ", the second is the Comcast "Emily's Oz" commercial, both are audio described. (Youtube published by Xfinity).

Below is the commercial "Emily's Oz" as it premiered during the 2015 Oscar telecast.

 For more of Emily’s Oz, visit

Illinois Suspended Dr. Sathish N Babu gets 18 Months for Medicare Health Care Fraud

as published by the Chicago Sun-Times; article by  | Feb 24, 2014
A suspended west suburban physician was sentenced to 18 months in prison Tuesday for health care fraud and illegally prescribing prescription drugs.
Sathish Narayanappa Babu, 47, owner of Anik Life Sciences Medical Corp. in Darien, pleaded guilty last September to one count of health care fraud and one count of illegally prescribing a controlled substance, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.
U.S. District Court Judge John J. Tharp handed down the sentence and ordered Babu to pay more than $221,000 in restitution, the U.S. attorney’s office said. Babu must also serve three years of supervised release.
“This crime wasn’t an isolated act, it was a calculated, systematic effort to milk Medicare,” Tharp said during the sentencing hearing. “The defendant was stealing money from those in need … putting many in need at risk.”
Between November 2012 and December 2013, Babu wrote five prescriptions for medications including oxycodone to a patient he had never seen or examined, prosecutors said.
The patient was actually an undercover agent, posing as a person on disability covered by Medicare and claiming to have shoulder pain from a previous injury, officials said.
Babu also admitted that he illegally prescribed oxycodone and other controlled substances, and fraudulently billed Medicare about $500,000 — collecting $216,000 — for services he did not provide over a period of more than two years.
Babu also told his office staff to order tests for patients without regard to medical necessity, and permitted unlicensed staff members to fill prescriptions and order refills. He also hired three foreign medical school graduates who were not licensed to practice medicine in the U.S. to conduct home visits, and advertised them as doctors.
As part of his plea agreement, Babu agreed to forfeit about $126,000 that was seized when he was arrested, as well as three vehicles — a 2013 BMW, 2001 BMW, and 2010 Lexus, the U.S. attorney’s office said.
Babu, of Bolingbrook, will begin serving his sentence on May 13, authorities said.
The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation suspended Babu’s physician’s license and controlled substance license, held since 2008, according to the department.

Wal-Mart to Pay $150,000 to Settle EEOC Age and Disability Discrimination Suit

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission


Wal-Mart to Pay $150,000 to Settle EEOC Age and Disability Discrimination Suit

Keller Store Manager Was Harassed and Fired Because of His Age and Denied Accommodation for His Diabetes, Federal Agency Charged
DALLAS - Wal-Mart Stores of Texas, L.L.C. (Wal-Mart) has agreed to pay $150,000 and provide other significant relief to settle an age and disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. The EEOC charged in its suit that Wal-Mart discriminated against the manager of the Keller, Texas Walmart store by subjecting him to harassment, discriminatory treatment, and discharge because of his age. The EEOC also charged that Wal-Mart refused to provide a reasonable accommodation for the man's disability as federal law requires.
According to the EEOC's suit, David Moorman was ridiculed with frequent taunts from his direct supervisor, including "old man" and "old food guy." The EEOC further alleged that Wal-Mart ultimately fired Moorman because of his age. Such alleged conduct violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), which prohibits discrimination on the basis of age 40 or older, including age-based harassment.
The EEOC's suit also alleged that Wal-Mart unlawfully refused Moorman's request for a reasonable accommodation for his diabetes. Following his diagnosis and on the advice of his doctor, Moorman requested reassignment to a store co-manager or assistant manager position. According to the suit, Wal-Mart refused to engage in the interactive process of discussing Moorman's requested accommodation, eventually rejecting his request. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Wal-Mart had an obligation to reasonably accommodate Moorman's disability.
The EEOC filed suit on March 12, 2014, (Case No. 3:14-cv-00908 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
"Mr. Moorman was subjected to taunts and bullying from his supervisor that made his working conditions intolerable," said EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Joel Clark. "The EEOC remains committed to prosecuting the rights of workers through litigation in federal court."
Under the terms of the two-year consent decree settling the case, Wal-Mart will pay $150,000 in relief to Moorman. In addition, Wal-Mart agreed to provide training for employees on the ADA and the ADEA. The training will include an instruction on the kind of conduct that may constitute unlawful discrimination or harassment, as well as an instruction on Wal-Mart's procedures for handling requests for reasonable accommodations under the ADA. Wal-Mart will also report to the EEOC regarding its compliance with the consent decree and post a notice to employees about the settlement.
"The EEOC is pleased that Wal-Mart recognized the value of resolving this case without any further court action," said EEOC Dallas District Director Janet Elizondo.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at

EEOC Sues Sims Recycling and All-Star Personnel for Disability Discrimination

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission


EEOC Sues Sims Recycling and All-Star Personnel for Disability Discrimination

International Recycling Company and Staffing Agency Refused to Assign Employee With Hearing Loss, Federal Agency Charges
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - An international electronics recycling company and a local staffing agency refused to assign an employee because of her hearing impairment in violation of federal law, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Com­mission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.
In its complaint, the EEOC charges that Sims Recycling Solutions, Inc. and All-Star Personnel, Inc. violated federal law by refusing to assign an individual temporary work because she has a hearing impairment.  The EEOC's suit contends that All-Star assigned the employee to work at a Sims recycling facility in LaVergne, Tenn.  According to the complaint, when Sims learned the employee had a hearing impairment, Sims and All-Star told the employee she could not work there.
Denying an individual employment opportunities because of a hearing impairment is a form of disability discrimination and violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  The EEOC filed suit (Civil Action 3:15-cv-00136) in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, Nashville Division after first attempting to settle the matter out of court through its conciliation process.
"Sims and All-Star decided that an employee, simply because of her hearing impairment, could not do her job," said Katharine W. Kores, district director of the EEOC's Memphis District Office, which has jurisdiction over Arkansas, Tennessee and portions of Mississippi.  "The purpose of the ADA is to make sure that employers ask questions and decide based on facts, not their assumptions."
According to its website,, Sims Recycling Solutions partners with local, national, and global businesses in the recycling of electronics and computers.  It operates 23 facilities in Europe and has operations in the United States, Canada, Australia, India, New Zealand, Singapore, and South Africa.
According to its website,, All-Star is a staffing agency with five locations in and around Nashville, with its corporate headquarters in Franklin, Tennessee. 
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination.  Further information about the EEOC is available on its website at

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Please Help Make Air Travel Safer For People With Autism - online Petition

The information we are sharing is as posted at

Make Air Travel Safer For People With Autism.

Beth JoyNYC, NY

Airlines are not required to honor special seating requests for autistic passengers. I think this is wrong. Many autistic passengers require special seating while flying that should be respected. Currently, airlines are “encouraged” to make the accommodations, but not required. Join me and tell the Department of Transportation that autistic people should be given special seating accommodations just like other disabled passengers. Tell them to amend the ACAA to require specific accommodations for autistic spectrum passengers.

My name is Beth Joy. I have an autistic daughter. Last April, we took a trip from New York to Hawaii. Flying, for someone with sensory and auditory processing disorders, can be quite difficult. Her neurologist recommended she sit in the bulkhead and by the window. The seat placement would help ease her symptoms and allow for easier care during the flight. We got a doctor’s note requesting the appropriate seating arrangements and called 6 months ahead of time to make sure she would have the accommodations she needed to have a stress free flight.

The airline honored our request on the way to Hawaii, but denied us on the way home. The problem is the Air Carrier Access Act, the law that requires air carriers to accommodate the needs of passengers with disabilities, doesn’t specifically require airlines to provide special accommodations for people with autism. While others with disabilities are guaranteed certain seating accommodations, airlines can use discretion when providing seating for the autistic passengers. This needs to be fixed. The ACAA needs to be amended to specifically require airlines to provide those with autism the same seating privileges as others with disabilities.

The CDC found that one in 38 children lie somewhere within the autism spectrum. It is important to ensure that their flying experience provides for their medical needs. The Department of Transportation can ensure this by amending the ACAA to require airlines to afford autistic passengers special seating if requested.

Join me and ask the DOT to do the right thing and help make air travel as comfortable as possible for those on the autism spectrum. Tell them to amend the ACAA.

“Home and Community-Based Services: Creating Systems for Success at Home, at Work and in the Community” REPORT

as shared by National Council on Disability

Washington, DC – The National Council on Disability (NCD), an independent federal agency, in a cooperative agreement with the National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disabilities Services (NASDDDS), will release “Home and Community-Based Services: Creating Systems for Success at Home, at Work and in the Community” online Tuesday, February 24, 2015.
The new report offers a number of recommendations for federal and state entities from a thorough review of the legal and regulatory home and community-based services (HCBS) framework outlined by the Americans with Disabilities Act and new HCBS regulations. The bearing of setting size and configuration on the quality of supports and services received by people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and individuals with mental health disabilities in home and community-based arrangements is the focus of the findings.
“The legal mandate shifting service delivery for people with disabilities away from institutions to home and community settings is unequivocal,” said Joan Durocher, NCD’s Director of Policy. “Yet, transitioning from institutional to more individualized, person-centered settings integrating people with disabilities into the community continues to challenge policymakers, providers, and stakeholders alike. Ensuring that the size of, and type of, supports and services for people with disabilities are aligned with best practices is essential. ‘Home and Community-Based Services: Creating Systems for Success at Home, at Work and in the Community’ details factors that can make a crucial difference between meaningful integration or segregation in the delivery of HCBS.”
Key Findings:
•States have been offered federal financial incentives to shift away from institutional services and towards HCBS;
•Many states continue to deliver services through HCBS funding authorities that are not meaningfully integrated into their communities and do not meet the new federal standards;
•HCBS systems should provide clear incentives to providers to deliver residential, day and employment services within small or individual settings scattered throughout the community;
•Under the new rule, states will need to shift funding away from settings currently funded as HCBS that are institutional in nature; and
•Stakeholders, including state legislators and policy makers currently need information about setting type and size for informed decisions and guidance impacting people with disabilities.
To read the full report, visit NCD online at:
About the National Council on Disability (NCD): First established as a small advisory Council within the Department of Education in 1978, NCD became an independent federal agency in 1984. In 1986, NCD recommended enactment of an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and drafted the first version of the bill which was introduced in the House and Senate in 1988. Since the ADA became law in 1990, NCD has continued to play a leading role in crafting policy solutions, and in advising the President, Congress and other federal agencies on disability policies, programs, and practices.

U.S. Nursing Home Rating System Strengthened

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has updated the rating system used on its Nursing Home Compare website. The Five Star Quality Rating System for Nursing Homes helps families make informed decisions when choosing a nursing home. The new rating system includes information on how often anti-psychotic medications are given to patients, better ways of measuring staffing levels and higher quality standards. Read the fact sheet to learn more about this important development in delivering quality care. You may file a complaint if you are concerned about the health care, treatment or services that you or another person received or did not receive in a nursing home.

as posted by Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
PRESS RELEASE Feb 20, 2015

CMS Strengthens Five Star Quality Rating System for Nursing Homes
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) today strengthened the Five Star Quality Rating System for Nursing Homes on the Nursing Home Compare website to give families more precise and meaningful information on quality when they consider facilities for themselves or a loved one. Today’s announcement also marks an important milestone to achieving the goal of implementing further improvements to the Five Star system in 2015, as the Administration announced last October.  

Star ratings allow users to see important differences in quality among nursing homes to help them make better care decisions. CMS rates nursing homes on three categories: results from onsite inspections by trained surveyors, performance on certain quality measures, and levels of staffing. CMS uses these three categories to offer an overall star rating, but consumers can see and focus on any of the three individual categories.
Beginning today, nursing home star ratings will:
  • Include use of antipsychotics in calculation of the star ratings. These medications are often used for diagnoses that do not warrant them. The two existing quality measures – for short stay and long stay patients – will now be part of the calculation for the quality measures star rating.
  • Have improved calculations for staffing levels. Research indicates that staffing is important to overall quality in a nursing home.
  • Reflect higher standards for nursing homes to achieve a high rating on the quality measure dimension on the website.
“CMS is committed to improving Nursing Home Compare and the Five Star Quality Rating System to ensure they are the most trusted and easy-to-use resources we can provide,” said Patrick Conway, M.D., CMS Deputy Administrator for Innovation and Quality and Chief Medical Officer for CMS. “Consumers can feel confident that Nursing Home Compare’s star ratings include measures that matter most to nursing home residents and their families and challenge nursing homes to continuously improve care.”

Since CMS standards for performance on quality measures are increasing, many nursing homes will see a decline in their quality measures star rating.  By making this change, Nursing Home Compare will include more meaningful distinctions in performance for consumers and focus nursing homes on continuously improving care focused on residents, families, and their caregivers. About two thirds of nursing homes will see a decline in their quality measures rating and about one third of nursing homes will experience a decline in their Overall Five Star Rating.

For example, before the recalibration, about 80 percent of nursing homes received either a 4 or 5-star rating on their quality measures. Now, about 49 percent of nursing homes will receive a 4 or 5 stars on their quality measure rating. Also, the number of nursing homes receiving one star for their quality measures has increased from 8.5 percent to 13 percent after the recalibration.

CMS is also focusing changes in areas identified by consumers and other stakeholders as important. For example, by the end of 2013 nursing homes achieved a 15 percent reduction in the use of anti-psychotics compared to 2011 levels. As part of the National Partnership to Improve Dementia Care, CMS is working with the nursing home community, patients, families and other important stakeholders to achieve a 30 percent reduction by the end of CY2016.   

The Nursing Home Compare website was launched in 1998, and CMS added the Five Star Quality Rating System (“NH Compare 2.0”) in 2008.  Nursing Home Compare gets approximately 1.4 million visits per year and users report high satisfaction with the site. More than 85 percent of users have indicated that they found the information they were seeking. CMS recommends that consumers rely on multiple factors – including star ratings, visits and community reputation -- when selecting a nursing home.

To achieve better care, smarter spending and healthier people, the Department of Health and Human Services is focused on sharing information more broadly to providers, consumers, and others to support better decisions while enforcing patient privacy. The Five Star Quality Rating System for Nursing Homes is part of an administration-wide effort to increase the availability and accessibility of information on quality, utilization and costs for effective, informed decision-making by consumers.

To search for nursing homes in local areas, visit
For more information on the Advancing Excellence campaign, visit
Get CMS news at, sign up for CMS news via email and follow CMS on Twitter @CMSgov

Webinar on Social Security's Ticket to Work Program: Financial Independence for People with Disabilities - February 25

as shared by

Registration for Work Incentive Seminar Events (WISE)

Are you interested in learning about how work will affect your Social Security benefits?

If you are interested in learning about the Ticket to Work Program or Work Incentives, you can attend a free Work Incentive Seminar Event (WISE) online webinar.
WISE webinars are online events held for beneficiaries to learn about the Ticket to Work Program and available Work Incentives through accessible learning opportunities. WISE webinars are hosted on the fourth Wednesday of each month. Register below!

To attend an online WISE webinar, begin registration by selecting an event below.

If you are an Employment Network or Community Partner, please sign up above.

Watch An Archived Webinar

If you can't make this month's webinar, or missed one that interested you in the past, you can watch videos of past webinars from our webinar archive by clicking the button below.
View Past WISE Webinars »
We Respect Your Privacy Social Security will only use your email address to keep you informed of Social Security topics and programs that can benefit you. We will disclose information collected and maintained in this system only to Social Security employees and contractors who will use it to send you official Social Security information that could be helpful and informative to you. Section 205(a) of the Social Security Act, authorizes us to collect the information requested on this form. Read more.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Silver Summit "For All": Playground for Everyone, a communities efforts including Children with Disabilities

As presented at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, here is Rachel Stevens' beautiful documentary about Silver Summit. "For All" is a 16-minute piece following Dylan, Kylie, Melina, Tyler, Heath, Eddy and Emmett as the playground they helped plan comes to life. We hope this piece will help spread the word to other communities about the need for Accessible play, so please share freely!

For more information, visit and


Director: Rachel Stevens
Director of Photography: Sarah Meismer
Camera and Sound Engineer: Josef "Tuna" Metesh
Camera and Sound Engineer: Madison Lynn
Camera: Evan Smith
Story: Caitlin Hofmeister
Producers: Jenny Montgomery and Rachel Stevens

Special thanks to the families and volunteers who made this amazing playground happen:Abigail Hood
Ana Beard
Dave Boulter
Bob Liston
Carol Blodgett
Carol Fleharty
Dara Guedem
Daria Mochan
Darren Larson
Diane Foster
Ed Boniecki
Hailey Lake
John Bohman
Justice Ender
Kari Frakie
Larry Brehm
Marsha Katz
Melissa Moss Larson
Meredith Mehne
Mike Beers
Molly Kimmel
Neil Marie Peck
Neil Murray
Sidney Davis
Silver Award Girl Scouts, Troops 3706 and 3603
Meg Traci
Kent Watson
Tamara Kittleson-Aldred
Missoula Parks & Recreation

FEMA Promising Practice Webinar ( March 12): Community Maps for Partnerships, Planning and Advocacy for Access and Functional Needs

as shared by Pacific ADA Center

ADA National Network/FEMA Webinar Series:

Emergency Management and Preparedness-Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities

The following is provided by the
Pacific ADA Center

Announcing a new webinar - "FEMA Promising Practice: Community Maps to Catalyze Partnerships, Planning and Advocacy for Access and Functional Needs"

March 12th, 2015

Webinars begin at ET: 2.30pm, CT: 1.30pm, MT:12.30pm, PT:11.30am, Hawaii: 8.30am.
Registration: Free on-line at
This state-wide mapping project aimed to bridge a gap in current emergency preparedness and response planning and resources. There is a need to supplement current hazard-and-infrastructure-focused risk assessments with indicators of community access and functional needs, which intersect all hazards and response roles in a community. Following the identification of these indicators, collaborators enhanced the project by building complementary maps to represent community resources found throughout the state that could be engaged to help address the community needs identified. As more of these resource maps are built and engage new partners, this project supports the work of many emergency preparedness and response partners, catalyzing collaborative conversations and projects about planning, partnership and Whole Community preparedness.
Learning Objectives:
  1. Frame community vulnerability in resilient and sustainable terms and describe information derived from historical approaches
  2. Provide map development and data selection processes as potential model for capturing community needs and resources
  3. Relate current and future activities in Colorado supported by mapping resources
Aimee Voth Siebert began working for the Colorado's Office of Emergency Preparedness and Response at the State Dept. of Public Health and Environment in May of 2012. She has served as a Communications Liaison and most recently as the Vulnerable Populations Inclusion Coordinator and a Disaster Behavioral Health Specialist. She launched immediately into her role during the 2012 Wildfire Season and the Century 16 Theater Shooting in Aurora. Her other disaster response and planning experiences have included the 2013 Wildfire Season and the 2013 September flooding, during which she lead the grant writing for a 60-day $800,000 crisis counseling program for all 9 disaster-declared counties. Between emergencies, Ms. Siebert works to engage communities, and develop systems, resources and training in access and functional needs, behavioral health, and communications for myriad emergency response audiences. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and Communications and a certificate in Neuroscience from Bethel College in 2010, and a Masters in International Disaster Psychology from the University of Denver in 2012.
Devon Williford has been working at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment since 2004, assisting the department in developing desktop GIS and web-mapping applications supporting data visualization, disease surveillance, mapping community health resources, environmental public health tracking, and emergency preparedness and response. In addition, Mr. Williford is manager of the department's Health GIS unit, responsible for managing the department's GIS infrastructure and providing support to GIS users within the department. Mr. Williford received a Bachelor of Science degree in Geography and Certificate in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) from the University of Georgia in 1998, and a Master of Public Health degree with a focus in Epidemiology from the Colorado School of Public Health in 2011.
Julia Beems is Senior Instructor and the Assistive Technology Program Outreach Coordinator, and Emergency Preparedness Program Coordinator with Assistive Technology Partners in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at University of Colorado Denver Anschutz Medical Center. She also holds a secondary appointment in Pediatrics. Ms Beems was trained as a horticultural therapist and rehabilitation counselor/vocational evaluator. She has worked in the field of assistive technology for over 30 years providing assessments, technical assistance and training to individuals with disabilities their family members and the professionals who serve them. She has developed a program to assist the first responder community and individuals with all types of disabilities and all ages prepare for emergencies. Ms Beems current responsibilities include providing outreach services across Colorado to individuals with disabilities and their family members; professionals from educational, employment, healthcare and emergency response agencies who work with them; policy makers and legislators; and the general public. Her areas of expertise include low-tech, low-cost assistive technology solutions, emergency preparedness and modifications for the rural and agricultural communities. Ms Beems represents ATP as a member of the North Central Region Functional Needs Steering Committee, the state Community Preparedness Advisory Council, the Colorado Advisory Committee for Persons with Disabilities, and the Statewide Independent Living Council. She has been recognized by the American Horticultural Therapy Association for Humanitarian Service and by AARP as an Outstanding Community Partner.
These 90 minute webinars are delivered using the Blackboard Collaborate webinar platform. Collaborate downloads files to your machine in order to run. We recommend that you prepare your technology prior to the start of the session. You may need the assistance of your IT Staff if firewalls prevent you from downloading files.
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