Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Americans with Disabilities Act Signing Ceremony / History - July 26, 1990 : short video chronicles the events

The ADA stands as one of the most important civil rights documents in the history of the United States, as it guaranteed for the first time that all People with Disabilities have the right to participate fully as equal members in society.

Signing Ceremony for Americans with Disabilities Act - National Archives and Records Administration 1990-07-26 - ARC 1656530, LI 220-DISAB-1. 
President's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities. (05/10/1988 - ca. 2000). South Lawn, White House

The short video chronicles the events of July 26, 1990, when four thousand people gathered on the South Lawn of the Whitehouse to witness then President George H.W. Bush sign the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) into law.

Disability History from the Presidential Libraries 
By Susan K. Donius, Director of the Office of Presidential Libraries, U.S. National Archives (posted July 26, 2012)

This year marks the 22nd (25th*) Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed the Act into law on the White House South Lawn in front of an audience of 3,000 people. On that day, America became the first country to adopt a comprehensive civil rights declaration for people with disabilities.

The ADA was a landmark moment in history, designed to provide universal accessibility in the areas of employment, public service, public accommodations and telecommunications. As President Barack Obama noted in 2009 at the signing of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Proclamation, the ADA “was a formal acknowledgment that Americans with disabilities are Americans first, and they are entitled to the same rights and freedoms as everybody else: a right to belong and participate fully in the American experience; a right to dignity and respect in the workplace and beyond; the freedom to make of our lives what we will.”

Among the holdings of the Presidential Libraries of the National Archives are many letters, meeting notes, photos and White House memos that document the collaborative process of creating the ADA. The Presidential Libraries have protected and shared the records of every Presidential administration since 1929, and the history of people with disabilities is woven throughout.

Sierra Gregg is a second year intern in the Office of Presidential Libraries, who recognizes the importance of sharing Presidential records related to disability history. She has been closely involved in a project to make a selection of these documents accessible to a wide audience. The following post is written by Sierra, about the Americans with Disabilities research page that is now available on the National Archives website.

I was born visually impaired one year after the signing of the ADA. I have grown up in a world where my visual impairment is not a hindrance to my success, only a characteristic of who I am. The ADA has made it possible for me to get the help I need to work toward my academic and professional goals.

However, the story of disability civil rights did not start with the ADA and it certainly did not end on that day 22 years ago. The efforts to ensure independence and equality for people with disabilities have a long and fascinating history. Throughout the course of two summer internships, I have worked on the Presidential Libraries team to collect a small sample of records related to Americans with disabilities. This collection will be added to the research topic section of the National Archives’ website and will contain at least one record from every Presidential administration since Herbert Hoover.

Although the collection contains records related to different disabilities, the records directly related to visual impairments are particularly meaningful to me. I believe my favorite record in the collection is a Braille letter written to President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956 by then-thirteen-year-old John Beaulieu. I first saw the letter on display in the Public Vaults exhibit of the National Archives in Washington, D.C. I still wish I could read the words with my fingers instead of just listening to the description. I was duly impressed that Beaulieu wrote the letter using a slate and stylus; I never quite mastered the art of using the slate. In order to write using the slate and stylus a thick piece of paper is placed face down in the slate, the stylus is used to punch out dots in the paper. The trick is every letter has to be written backwards so it can be read when the page is flipped.

The collection also contains two letters written to President Herbert Hoover by Helen Keller. She wrote letters to eight U.S. Presidents, starting in 1903 with Theodore Roosevelt. She also personally met 13 Presidents from Grover Cleveland to Lyndon B. Johnson. I must admit to feeling a twinge of envy when I learned that during a visit to the White House, she investigated her historic surroundings with touch. She even identified a bust of George Washington with her fingers.

The Americans with Disabilities research collection currently includes more than 50 different records. They range from Keller’s letters to President Hoover to photos of a White House dinner hosted by President Clinton, honoring the Special Olympics. It’s a resource that will continue to grow, and one that sheds light on an important part of disability, and American, history.

# Learn more by visiting the Americans with Disabilities research page from the Presidential Libraries at: http://www.archives.gov/research/americans-with-disabilities/.

# Susan K. Donius is the Director of the Office of Presidential Libraries at the National Archives and Records Administration.

# Sierra Gregg is a senior at Truman State University in Missouri where she is studying computer science. This year, she was awarded a scholarship from the National Federation of the Blind.

# post was originally posted July, 2011,

Presidential Proclamation -- Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 2016

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

Presidential Proclamation -- Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 2016

- - - - - - -
On July 26, 1990, our Nation marked a pivotal moment in history for Americans with disabilities. Fueled by a chorus of voices who refused to accept a second-class status and driven by a movement that recognized that our country is stronger and more vibrant when we draw on the talents of all our people, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) enshrined into law the notion that Americans living with disabilities deserve to participate in our society free from discrimination. Twenty-six years later, as we mark this anniversary, we recognize all this milestone law has made possible for the disability community.
The ADA sought to guarantee that the places we share -- from schools and workplaces to stadiums and parks -- truly belong to everyone. It reflects our Nation's full commitment to the rights and independence of people with disabilities, and it has paved the way for a more inclusive and equal society. For the 6.5 million students and the approximately 50 million adults living with mental or physical disabilities, the ADA has swung open doors and empowered each of them to make of their lives what they will.
Building on this progress is a priority for my Administration. The Federal Government has taken the lead in creating meaningful employment opportunities for people with disabilities. In my first term, I issued an Executive Order that called on Federal agencies and contractors to hire more people with disabilities -- and today, more Americans with disabilities are working in Federal service than at any time in the last three decades. My Administration has vigorously enforced the Supreme Court's ruling in the Olmstead decision -- which determined that, under the ADA, people with disabilities cannot be unnecessarily segregated -- and worked to deliver on the promise that individuals with disabilities have access to integrated, community-based services. The Affordable Care Act affirmed that Americans with pre-existing conditions can no longer be denied health insurance, and this year, we made it clear that health care providers must offer reasonable accommodations and ensure effective communication for individuals with disabilities in order to advance health equity and reduce health care disparities.
As we commemorate this progress, we know our work to expand opportunity and confront the stigma that persists surrounding disabilities is not yet finished: We have to address the injustices that linger and remove the barriers that remain. Too many people with disabilities are still unemployed and lack access to skills training or are not paid fairly for their work. We must continue increasing graduation rates for students with disabilities to give them every chance to receive the education and training they need to pursue their dreams. We must make the information and communication technologies we rely on accessible for all people, and ensure their needs are considered and incorporated as we advance the tools of modern life. And we must keep fighting for more consistent and effective enforcement of the ADA in order to prevent discrimination in public services and accommodations.
At a time when so many doubted that people with disabilities could contribute to our economy or support their families, the ADA assumed they could, and guided the way forward. Today, as we reflect on the courage and commitment of all who made this achievement possible, let us renew our obligation to extend the promise of the American dream to all our people, and let us recommit to building a world free of unnecessary barriers and full of deeper understanding of those living with disabilities.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim July 26, 2016, the Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. I encourage Americans across our Nation to celebrate the 26th anniversary of this civil rights law and the many contributions of individuals with disabilities.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-fifth day of July, in the year of our Lord two thousand sixteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-first.


Monday, July 25, 2016

Oilfield Instrumentation Unlawfully Rescinded Job Offer Because Of Disability, EEOC Charges in Lawsuit

Company Denied Job Based on View That All Type I Insulin-Dependent Diabetics Are 'Fragile' and Not Suited to Work Offshore, Federal Agency Charges
from a Press Release on July 25, 2016
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

NEW ORLEANS - Oilfield Instrumentation, USA, Inc., an oilfield services company, violated federal law by withdrawing a job offer to an applicant because of his diabetes, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charged in a lawsuit it filed today.
According to EEOC's lawsuit, on Feb. 4, 2013, Carl J. Devalcourt, III, a Type I insulin-dependent diabetic, applied for a service technician position at Oilfield Instrumentation. Two days later, he interviewed with Tom Walker, a hiring manager. Devalcourt received a job offer and informed Walker that he would like to move forward with the hiring process, which included taking a required drug test and physical examination.
After that, Devalcourt went to Acadian Health Services Clinic for the physical examination. Dr. Francisco Silva examined Devalcourt and determined that he was in "good physical shape" and that his diabetes was "well-controlled." Dr. Silva expressed his concern to Devalcourt that he had Type I insulin-dependent diabetes and wanted to work offshore. However, Devalcourt assured Dr. Silva that he was on an insulin pump, that he had two years of previous experience working offshore as a diabetic, without incident, and that he took necessary precautions to ensure his safety.
After the exam, Dr. Silva contacted Oilfield Instrumentation to inform the company that Devalcourt was a Type I insulin-dependent diabetic. Dr. Silva then informed Devalcourt that Oilfield Instrumentation was no longer interested in proceeding with the employment process. In a letter addressed to Oilfield Instrumentation, Dr. Silva stated that Type I diabetics are "fragile" and determined that Devalcourt was not qualified for the position of service technician simply because he has that condition. EEOC said that Oilfield Instrumentation did not base its decision to withdraw the job offer on the type of fact-intensive assessment mandated by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Rather, the company simply revoked the offer on the basis of a sweeping determination that Type I insulin-dependent diabetics could not work offshore, regardless of whether the particular diabetic employee could perform the essential functions of his job.
Such alleged conduct violates the ADA. EEOC filed its lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana (EEOC v Oilfield Instrumentation, U.S.A., Inc., Case No. 6:16-cv-01089), after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. EEOC is seeking injunctive relief prohibiting Oilfield Instrumentation from engaging in unlawful discrimination on the basis of disability in the future, as well as lost wages, compensatory and punitive damages for Devalcourt, and other relief the court deems proper.
"This lawsuit reminds employers of their obligation to conduct individualized assessments of a person's ability to perform the essential functions of a job," said EEOC Houston Regional Attorney Jim Sacher.
EEOC New Orleans Field Office Director Keith Hill added, "Hiring decisions based upon reliance on negative stereotypes associated with particular disabilities violate the ADA and will not be tolerated."
Oilfield Instrumentation is an oilfield services company that provides real-time drilling instrumentation. It has offices in Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, North Dakota, California and Pennsylvania.
EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. Further information is available at www.eeoc.gov.

Webinar July 27 for Social Security Disability Beneficiaries Interested in Becoming Employed, & Reasonable Accommodations

If you receive Social Security disability benefits (SSI or SSDI) and want to make more money through work, Ticket to Work can provide the support that you need!
The July 27, 2016, national WISE webinar will present information about Social Security programs and rules that may apply to you! Join the webinar to learn about Ticket to Work and Work Incentives, frequently asked questions and where to find more information. You will hear from experts about employment resources, including:
Date: Wednesday 07/27/2016
Time: 3:00 PM - 4:30 PM Eastern
Register online or by calling 1-866-968-7842 (TTY: 1-866-833-2967).

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!

Washington D.C. Metro moving forward with plan to use Uber, Lyft for paratransit services

as I share the article the day before the 26th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act on how Washington D.C. Metro has decided to go forward with 'ride sharing' for seniors and people with disabilities that use paratransit service. In spite of the 'ride sharing' companies such as Uber and Lyft lack of accessible vehicles for wheelchair users, such as myself, all I can do is shake my head in disbelief. To the disability community in the Washington D.C, area that use Metroaccess paratransit service, we all need to remember know matter where we live in the USA, say NO to Disability Oppression and YES to Disability Empowerment... Jim W. at Ability Chicago Info
                                    "It's Nothing About Us Without Us!"
# # #
article by Luz Lazo for The Washington Post \ July 20, 2016        
Washington D.C. --This fall Metro will officially open the bidding process for contractors to provide paratransit services, providing an alternative to MetroAccess, its door-to-door service for the elderly and people with disabilities.

The popular ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft top the list of prospective contractors for the new service, which officials say could help the transit agency save millions on its heavily subsidized paratransit program. It also would answer customers’ growing demand for same-day, app-based transportation services.

Metro plans to issue an RFP in September with the intent to have the service in place by spring 2017, according to Christian Kent, assistant general manager for Metro’s Access Services department. The pilot program will be for users in the Maryland suburbs, where two-thirds of MetroAccess customers live.

Officials anticipate the option will be popular among customers who don’t need wheelchair-accessible vehicles to travel. Under the program, they will have the choice of booking a ride on the same day they need it, a significant improvement from the current MetroAccess requirement that trips be booked 24 hours in advance.

Concerns have been raised, however, about Metro’s intent to partner with companies like Uber to transport people with special needs. Advocates cite Uber’s lack of ­wheelchair-accessible vehicles and question the level of training its drivers receive in dealing with people with disabilities. They also echo concerns about safety, insurance coverage and the vetting process for the companies drivers.

In a letter to the Metro board, the panel’s Accessibility Advisory Committee this week urged Metro to set safety and security standards for the program, to be open to contracting with local transportation providers instead, and to keep in mind that many elderly and disabled customers cannot navigate web-based applications because of their disabilities.

But the group also said it supports Metro’s objective to sustain the costly MetroAccess service, acknowledging that a new program could help lower costs. A paratransit ride averages about $50 in the Washington area, a much higher cost than using rail or bus, which average between $3 and $4.

In an effort to bring down cost of paratransit services, transit agencies across the country are pursuing partnerships with app-based transportation providers. Metro officials have said that expanding options and lowering costs are inevitable as demand for service increases with the population continuing to age and disability rates on the rise.

“We are trying to leverage a network that is more pervasive in the community than just a couple of cab companies,” Kent told a group of advocates at an Accessibility Advisory Committee meeting on Monday. “You have asked us to get creative, you have asked us to find ways to serve the community better and you are starting to see us trying new things.”

It is unclear what Metro will be seeking from bidders, but some officials say it may not be much different from an informal request for proposals issued earlier this year in which the transit authority said it was looking for service providers that can connect customers to drivers via an online platform, a system that mirrors Uber’s.

The agency said then that it would pay up to $15 per trip to the contracting company and cover a $12 surcharge applied to trips in wheelchair-accessible vehicles. Customers would be restricted to four trips daily.

Metro has also said it will ask the chosen provider to facilitate the reservation process through a traditional phone call. And it may ask the companies to spell out their policies for vetting drivers and training them to serve people with disabilities. Officials have also said they would want the service to be available to customers traveling with service animals, and to have at least 50 wheelchair-accessible vehicles to compliment the service.

The AAC also urged Metro not to set restrictions on the number of trips customers will be able to take.

“People with disabilities are interested in having the same level of access and quality of life as the non-disabled peers. A limit on trips will diminish that option,” the letter said.

The group asked that “any alternative service must be fully compliant with the [Americans with Disabilities Act],” a request more difficult to meet given that most transportation companies don’t have ADA accessible vehicles.

MetroAccess provides about 2 million trips annually at a price of about $121 million, of which more than 90 percent is paid with local subsidies. Metro projects the service could add at least a million trips and more than $50 million in operating expenses in the next decade. Partnering with other transportation services, however, could potentially lower costs by half.


Chicago Awards Taxicab Driver Bayo Aladesuru With Free Taxicab Medallion For Exemplary Service To The Disability Community

Free Taxicab Medallion Offers Financial Freedom, Small Business Benefits for Driver

 "Congrats to the 2015 Taxicab Driver Excellence Award winner Bayo Aladesuru at #AccessChicago!

Press Release | July 21. 2016
City of Chicago 
The City of Chicago today presented the 2015 Taxicab Driver Excellence Award to licensed Chicago taxicab driver Bayo Aladesuru for his one of a kind customer service and dedication to the disability community. The taxicab medallion award was presented to Mr. Aladesuru during the 2016 Access Chicago expo, the city’s biannual event to showcase its offering of products and services created exclusively for individuals with disabilities.

The Taxicab Medallion Excellence Award was created for drivers providing services to passengers with disabilities. The ordinance allows for a free medallion to be awarded to one wheelchair accessible vehicle (WAV) chauffeur and the winner is chosen by the Taxicab Driver Excellence Committee. This year’s award was presented by committee members Karen Tamley of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD) and Maria Guerra Lapacek, Commissioner of the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP).

“It is because of chauffeurs like Bayo who go above and beyond to provide quality service to the disabled community so they can navigate Chicago independently,” said BACP Commissioner Maria Guerra Lapacek. “The nominations for Bayo painted a very clear picture of the impact of the service he provides to his customers and what exemplary service looks like.”

Every year since 2012, the Taxicab Driver Excellence Award is awarded to a driver exemplifying superior service and a commitment to providing residents of all needs with access to quality transportation. The Taxicab Driver Excellence Committee reviews nominations by the general public and carefully considers each of them before selecting a recipient of the award, which includes a free taxicab medallion.

This year, the committee reviewed 4 nominees. Bayo secured this year’s award with over 40 nominations. He’s been a licensed chauffeur for 18 years, but 2015 was his year. Throughout 2015 he responded to over 1,800 calls from Central Dispatch for his wheelchair accessible taxicab. One nominee wrote, “I wish I could request him every time I need to go to the doctor. He treated me like a person and not just a customer. I wish every taxi driver had the same courtesy.”

Another nominee wrote, “If my husband is not there, Bayo without being asked regularly clears the snow from the area between the garage door and the taxi ramp […]. Once he picked me up exactly as planned for an early morning trip to the airport even though a family members business had just gone up in flames.”

The Taxicab Driver Excellence Committee is made up of three City of Chicago employees and four members of local non-profit organizations and one citizen at large. The committee is run jointly by BACP Commissioner Guerra Lapacek and Commissioner Karen Tamley of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD). Additional committee members are Deputy Commissioner Rupal Bapat of BACP, Efrat Stein of Self Help Home, Carrie Kaufman of Access Living, Lisa Rosen of the Rehabilitation Institute Chicago, Rachel Weisberg of Equip for Equality, and Maureen Reagan, President of MRA Architects.

"Accessible taxicabs are critical to the independence of the disability community and we are proud to recognize the years of exemplary service that Bayo has provided,” said MOPD Commissioner Karen Tamley.

BACP oversees the licensing of Chicago’s public chauffeurs and public vehicles including taxicabs, transportation network providers, liveries, charter and site seeing buses, horse-drawn carriages, ambulances, water taxis and tour boats. The department oversees the purchasing of taxicab medallions, vehicle inspections and rates of fare. Learn more about BACP’s Public Vehicle Operations at www.cityofchicago.org/BACP.


Illinois Home Services and Wage Bills Update - Gov Rauner Vetoed...

Access Living, Center for Independent Living for Chicago has shared the following updated information, and resources.
# # #

Dear Access Living friends and allies,

Today we want to focus on some important updates about home and community services.

First, Governor Rauner has vetoed several wage increase bills that would have increased wages to $15 an hour for Home Services Program (HSP) personal assistants and individual maintenance home health workers, Community Care Program (CCP) homemakers, and child care workers. We at Access Living feels that this action fails to recognize the vital importance of these workers to people with disabilities.  These bills return to the legislature, where a 3/5 majority or supermajority will be required to override his vetoes.

The bills are:
  • House Bill 5764 (CCP wages would have increased to $25 an hour over the next four years)
  • Senate Bills 2536 (would have raised child care worker wages to $15 an hour retroactive to July 1, 2016---remember that many parents with disabilities rely on state funded child care services)
  • Senate Bill 2931 (would have raised HSP worker wages to $15 an hour retroactive to July 1, 2016)

The wage increase bill for Direct Service Professionals (DSPs) serving people with developmental disabilities is still on the Governor’s desk. That bill is House Bill 5931, and several developmental disabilities groups are still pushing hard for this bill as many DSPs make as little as $9 an hour.

Second, Access Living is extremely concerned about HSP workers who have needed to work over 40 hours per work, and the HSP customers served by those workers. The first round of disciplinary “occurrence” letters for HSP workers who worked unjustified overtime went out after the first enforcement time period at the beginning of May, and over 2,000 workers received these notices.  Our understanding is there was a suspension on occurrences for a time, but as soon as mid-August, some workers could be getting their third occurrence letter and notice of termination.  This places at risk not only the workers in terms of job and income loss, but also it puts HSP customers with disabilities at possible serious risk of health crisis or nursing home placement.

Please contact Access Living if you are an HSP customer whose workers are at risk of more occurrence letter or termination. The best way to do this is to contact our Home and Community Ombudsmen Program at (312) 640-2152 or ombudsman@accessliving.org. Their hours are Monday through Friday 8:30 am to 5 pm. While our Ombudsmen are tasked with advocacy for people with disabilities living in Chicago, they can answer questions and help make a referral to support in your area. It is very important to reach out if you think you may be at risk.

If you are an HSP worker, please check out SEIU HCII’s Member Resource Center at http://www.seiuhcilin.org/member-resource-center-2/. If you are NOT a member of the union, please contact our Ombudsmen and we will answer our questions to the best of our ability. 

Both HSP customers and HSP workers can also contact their local DRS office or the Springfield DRS office with questions. This is the contact info:
Springfield DRS Office
Rehabilitation Services
535 West Jefferson Street, 1st Floor
Springfield, IL 62702
Phone: (217) 782-4830
TTY: (888) 440-8990
Fax: (217) 524-0758

It is better to ask questions than to not know what is going on! So please, reach out and let us know if you are having problems.

Amber Smock
Director of Advocacy, Access Living

2016 Report On Disability and Police Violence from Ruderman Family Foundation

The Ruderman Family Foundation released the first Ruderman White Paper today – a groundbreaking, comprehensive study on the topic of police-related violence and media coverage in cases involving a person with a disability – which shockingly reveals that up to half of all people killed by police in the United States are disabled, and that almost all well-known cases of police brutality involve a person with a disability. This is true both for cases deemed illegal or against policy and for those in which officers are ultimately fully exonerated.

from a Press Release by Justin Ellis for the Ruderman Family Foundation | March 8, 2016

However, perhaps more shocking is the prevalence of disabilities in these encounters not being accurately or commonly reported. The report, co-authored by professor David M. Perry and award-winning disability activist Lawrence Carter-Long, unveils that media coverage of police violence fails to recognize or report the disability element when Americans are injured or killed by law enforcement, resulting in their stories being segregated from the issue in the media. This report examines the past three years of media coverage relating to police violence and disability, reviewing eight individual cases against people with disabilities since the death of a young man with Down syndrome named Ethan Saylor in January 2013.

In the vast majority of cases within this timeframe, the research reveals the following patterns in the overall data:
  • Disability goes unmentioned or is listed as an attribute without context
  • An impairment is used to evoke pity or sympathy for the victim
  • A medical condition or “mental illness” is used to blame victims for their deaths
  • An estimated 80% of all cases that involve disability are categorized as “mental illness”
  • In rare instances, where disabilities are used as reason for intersecting forces that lead to dangerous use-of-force incidents, better models for policing in the future are suggested
“This White Paper reveals that people with disabilities are senselessly being subjected to a disproportionate use of force by our police and many of these encounters are leading to unnecessary deaths. Police forces need better practices, policies and procedures when interacting with people with disabilities so that harm by our law enforcement authorities is prevented,” said Jay Ruderman, president of the Ruderman Family Foundation. “Training is a necessary first step. Reforming the system follows closely behind. The rights of people with disabilities must be respected just like any other American citizen.”

PDF version available for download here

Text Only version available for download here

So how often do American police use force against disabled civilians? The problem is we do not know. No one knows because we lack comprehensive data, and currently there is no legal requirement for local, state or federal law enforcement agencies to aggregate or collect the number, type, and result of violent incidents that occur between police officers and disabled people. From a purely practical standpoint, those who seek to track, monitor and/or analyze trends related to police violence and disability are limited to collecting the data themselves from print and online media coverage.

When we leave disability out of the conversation or only consider it as an individual medical problem, we miss the ways in which disability intersects with other factors that often lead to police violence. Conversely, when we include disability at the intersection of parallel social issues, we come to understand the issues better, and new solutions emerge. Disability intersects with other factors such as race, class, gender, and sexuality, to magnify degrees of marginalization and increase the risk of violence. When the media ignores or mishandles a major factor, as we contend they generally do with disability, it becomes harder to effect change.

The Ruderman White Paper making headlines: 

SSDI Hearing Backlog Exceeds 1.1 Million with Disabilities in 2016, Wait Time Nears Two Years For Tens Of Thousands

Allsup identifies top five most backlogged hearing offices for wait times; offers tips for getting through Social Security Disability Insurance backlog  
Belleville, Illinois — July 22, 2016 — The number of people with severe disabilities waiting for a decision on their claims for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits has reached historic highs. The long waits for Social Security disability hearings are creating extreme hardships for individuals and their families, according to Allsup, the nation’s leading provider of SSDI representation services. Nationwide, the average wait time for a hearing has grown to nearly 18 months. 
The Social Security Administration (SSA) recently updated figures for cases pending at the hearing level. As of July 7, there were 1,121,267 people awaiting hearings. 
The number of people who can anticipate waiting two years for a hearing also is growing. The top five Social Security hearing offices with the longest waits total 37,476 disability claims and a wait time averaging 711.4 days, according to SSA workload data. 
Top 5 Hearing Offices – Average wait: 711.4 days for 37,476 people 
  1. Brooklyn, New York – 4,071 claimants pending, 750 days for a hearing
  2. Miami, Florida – 8,974 claimants pending, 723 days for a hearing
  3. Buffalo, New York – 11,989 claimants pending, 698 days for a hearing
  4. Ponce, Puerto Rico – 2,730 claimants pending, 693 days for a hearing
  5. Greensboro, North Carolina – 9,712 claimants pending, 693 days for a hearing 
“The ordeal that tens of thousands of Americans with disabilities must endure for their Social Security disability claim to be reviewed is unconscionable,” said Mike Stein, assistant vice president of claims for Allsup. “The last time backlogs were this severe was 2008. Wait times started climbing again following 2012 when the average wait was 353 days. Today, the national average is 530 days” 
Out of 170 hearing offices, according to Social Security, 165 have disability hearing wait times of more than 400 days. “These extended SSDI hearing waiting times are a major hardship for those who have worked all their lives and find themselves with a severe disabling illness or injury,” Stein said. “The longer they wait, the more of a struggle it is for them to pay for housing, food, healthcare and other essentials.” 
“There is no relief in sight and the Social Security Administration has promised a plan for clearing the backlog by 2020,” he said. “That’s four years from now, and the claimants in the queue are getting sicker and sicker.” 
Stein added that the worsening hearing backlog means that experienced representation and guidance through the SSDI filing process is more important than ever. Allsup has helped more than 250,000 people receive their SSDI income and the associated benefits, which include Medicare coverage after 24 months of receiving cash SSDI benefits and benefits for dependents under age 18. 
Allsup: Tips for Getting Through the SSDI Backlog 
Stein offered five tips to avoid or survive the long wait: 
  1. Get help early. Applying for SSDI is complicated. It’s important to file an initial application correctly (and future appeals, if necessary), so benefits can be awarded with the first application and avoid a hearing altogether. For example, about 50 percent of Allsup customers who have help at this level will be awarded their benefits, compared to 33 percent with Social Security nationwide. 
  1. Make certain about eligibility. Find a free SSDI assessment on Allsup.com. Claimants must have worked and paid into the disability program through FICA payroll taxes for at least five of the last 10 years. And they must have become disabled before reaching full retirement age (65 to 67). To qualify, the disability must be severe and likely to end in death or prevent work for at least a year. 
  1. File promptly. An initial claim may take three to six months to review. If that first claim isn’t approved, that means the claim must move through several levels of the appeals process. “That may take up to four years, and that’s time most people don’t have,” Stein said. “In any case, it’s better to get the SSDI application started as soon as possible.” 
  1. Confirm the applicant’s medical team is on board. Written confirmation of a disability from a medical doctor is crucial to proving qualification for SSDI benefits. Applications without a doctor’s agreement can delay benefits or make it easier to deny. 
  1. “Don’t give up,” Stein said. “Allsup has helped hundreds of thousands of people receive the benefits they deserve. We can help guide you through the process and with a greater chance of success than going it alone.” 
Individuals wanting to apply for SSDI benefits can learn more about their eligibility and Allsup representation services on Allsup.com. 
Allsup and its subsidiaries provide nationwide Social Security disability, veterans disability appeal, re-employment, exchange plan and Medicare services for individuals, their employers and insurance carriers. Allsup professionals deliver specialized services supporting people with disabilities and seniors so they may lead lives that are as financially secure and as healthy as possible. Founded in 1984, the company is based in Belleville, Illinois, near St. Louis. Visit http://www.Allsup.com for more information.
# From a Press Release on July 22, 2016 from Allsup.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Historic EEOC video (cc) of Dr. Philip Calkins' presentation on the ADA. from 9/11/1990

On September 11, 1990, the EEOC held a one-day introductory training seminar on the Americans with Disability Act. One segment of this seminar consisted of Dr. Philip Calkins giving a lecture on the history of disability rights which led to the passage of the ADA.

Youtube Published by TheEEOC on May 30, 2013

Independence Day For Americans With Disabilities is July 26th

A detail from an Easter Seals poster explaining the Americans with Disabilities Act, which was passed on July 26, 1990.
Courtesy of Easter Seals

wonderful article published by NPR by Linton Weeks | June 19, 2015
The article is on the celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the ADA, still worth the read.


On July 4, America will celebrate 239 years of independence.
Later in the month, our country will mark another historic moment: the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, a law passed on July 26, 1990, that guarantees certain rights — and increased independence — to our compatriots with physical and intellectual disabilities.
In this era of ramps and lifts and other hallmarks of accessible design, it's sometimes hard to remember that not too long ago inaccessibility was the norm. And barriers abounded.
"At the time of the late 1980s, too many people with disabilities were out of sight and out of the minds of the general public," says Katy Neas of Easter Seals, a century-old, Chicago-based nonprofit organization that helps people with disabilities.
As an outspoken advocate for the ADA, Easter Seals created a series of powerful posters that illustrated the dilemmas — and desires — of disabled Americans and helped the country understand the reasons for, and responsibilities resulting from, the anti-discrimination legislation.
A poster reminds employers to set aside their prejudices against disabled job applicants.i
A poster reminds employers to set aside their prejudices against disabled job applicants.
Courtesy of Easter Seals
Via the visuals, Neas says, "Easter Seals was working to reposition what it meant to be a person with a disability — what was possible, what was necessary, what barriers existed."
The posters were created by a Minneapolis ad agency for Easter Seals as part of a public service thrust that included print and broadcast spots as well. Easter Seals also dispatched adults and children with disabilities to travel around the country to demonstrate their strengths and public contributions.
"There was a lot of ignorance about the interests and abilities of people with disabilities," Neas says. "Discrimination and low expectations were part of the mainstream culture. Why would someone who uses a wheelchair want to go to the movies? Why would someone who is blind want to eat in a restaurant?"
People with disabilities, and their friends and families, were essential in answering those questions and in raising the consciousness of the country, Neas says.
For instance, she recalls that former Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, often told stories of his brother, Frank, who was deaf. "Frank attended the Iowa School for the Deaf and Dumb — that's what it was called — and was told the only thing he could do was be a printer, a baker or a cobbler because these vocations were the only vocations appropriate to people who are deaf."
And, she says, "There was a zoo in the Midwest that asked a group of students with Down syndrome to leave because they were upsetting the animals."
A poster urges landlords to make housing accessible to all.i
A poster urges landlords to make housing accessible to all.
Courtesy of Easter Seals
The Easter Seals ads "were very simple for the public to understand," Neas adds. "They were motivating to the advocates and policymakers across the country who were dedicated to the enactment of the ADA. They were reinforcing why the ADA was necessary and why discrimination on the basis of disability was wrong and should be outlawed."
*reposted from June 2015

Saturday, July 23, 2016

North Miami Cop shoots caretaker of autistic man playing in the street with toy truck, Police trying to shoot autistic man -maybe

Cell phone video shows Charles Kinsey lying in the street with his hands up. Screengrab of video provided by Hilton Napoleon

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/crime/article90905442.html#storylink=cpy
MIAMI (AP) July 20, 2016 — Authorities say a Florida police officer shot and wounded an autistic man's caretaker following reports of a man threatening to shoot himself.
North Miami Assistant Police Chief Neal Cuevas told The Miami Herald (http://goo.gl/rhHVyt ) that officers responded to the scene Monday to find 47-year-old Charles Kinsey, a therapist who works with people with disabilities, according to WSVN-TV (http://bit.ly/2ac7zm1), trying to get his 27-year-old patient back to a facility from where he wandered.
Cuevas says police ordered Kinsey and the patient, who was sitting in the street playing with a toy truck, to lie on the ground. Kinsey lies down and puts his hands up while trying to get his patient to comply. An officer then fired three times, striking Kinsey in the leg, Cuevas said. No weapon was found.

Kinsey's attorney, Hilton Napoleon, provided a cellphone video to the Herald on Wednesday taken moments before the shooting. It shows Kinsey lying in the middle of the street with his hands up, asking the officers not to shoot him, while the autistic man sits next to him, yelling at him to "shut up."
"Sir, there's no need for firearms," Kinsey said he told police before he was shot, according to the station. "It was so surprising. It was like a mosquito bite."
Kinsey is black. Police haven't released the name or race of the officer who shot him.
# video and photo of video by Hilton Napoleon
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Update -- Brian Entin reports for  WSVN7 Miami News, 

NORTH MIAMI, FLA. (WSVN) - A therapist who works with people with disabilities is telling his story after he said police shot him while he was trying to help his patient with autism.
Cellphone video was released Wednesday afternoon showing Charles Kinsey lying on the ground with his hands in the air, telling officers that weapons are not necessary. “When I went to the ground, I’m going to the ground just like this here with my hands up,” Kinsey said, “and I am laying down here just like this, and I’m telling them again, ‘Sir, there is no need for firearms. I’m unarmed, he’s an autistic guy. He got a toy truck in his hand.”
In his hospital bed, Kinsey said, he was attempting to calm an autistic patient who ran away from a group home. Kinsey could be heard in the video saying, “All he has is a toy truck. A toy truck. I am a behavior therapist at a group home.” Read More -- http://wsvn.com/news/local/video-shows-moments-before-north-miami-police-shot-unarmed-man/
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UPDATE - July 22, 2016
Miami police: Officer tried to shoot autistic man, hit caretaker instead
AP -- The North Miami police officer who shot and wounded an unarmed black mental health worker earlier this week was actually aiming at the man's autistic patient and trying to protect the worker, the head of Miami-Dade County's police union said.

Associated Press article by Terry Spencer
John Rivera, who runs the Miami Police Benevolent Association, told reporters Thursday that the officer, who has not been identified by name, is a decorated four-year veteran of the police force and a member of the SWAT team. The police department said on its Facebook page Thursday evening that the officer is a 30-year-old Hispanic. Earlier in the day, Chief Gary Eugene said the agency will be transparent as the investigation unfolds.

The admission by Rivera and the officer was intended to help calm the fears of the nation following a rash of police shootings, and sometimes killings, of black men. Rivera said the officer fired three times and hit 47-year-old Charles Kinsey in the leg.

Kinsey, who was trying to coax the 27-year-old autistic man back to a group home he'd run away from, is recovering from his injuries.

Monday's shooting comes amid weeks of violence involving police.

Five officers were killed in Dallas two weeks ago and three law enforcement officers were gunned down Sunday in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Before those shootings, a black man, Alton Sterling, 37, was fatally shot during a scuffle with two white officers at a convenience store there. In Minnesota, 32-year-old Philando Castile, who was also black, was shot to death during a traffic stop. Cellphone videos captured Sterling's killing and the aftermath of Castile's shooting, prompting nationwide protests over the treatment of blacks by police.


Thomas Matthews said Thursday that when he noticed North Miami police officers responding to a commotion a block from his usual outdoor sitting spot Monday, he grabbed his binoculars and saw a middle-aged black man and a younger autistic man sitting in an intersection.

The officers, he said, grabbed rifles from the patrol cars' trunks and crept toward the men. The autistic man was holding something in his hand. Peering through his binoculars, he could see the object was a toy truck. Matthews says he tried to tell an officer who had stayed behind for crowd control, but she told him to back up.

oon, three shots rang out and therapist Kinsey was injured. The shooting drew national attention because much of what happened before the shooting was captured on video.

"If she would have told the other officers, maybe they wouldn't have shot," said Matthews, a 73-year-old African-American. He ran a North Miami flower shop before retiring and has lived in the area for years. He said he has never had a problem with North Miami police.

"But I guess with all the shootings that are going on, they are nervous and shook up," Matthews said.

At a news conference Thursday, Chief Eugene said the investigation has been turned over to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the state attorney's office. He called it a "very sensitive matter" and promised a transparent investigation, but refused to identify the officer or answer reporters' questions. Eugene, a Haitian-American with 30 years of South Florida police experience, just became chief last week.

"I realize there are many questions about what happened on Monday night. You have questions, the community has questions, we as a city, we as a member of this police department and I also have questions," he said. "I assure you we will get all the answers."

During a Thursday news conference, Rivera, said the officer believed Kinsey's patient was armed, and the officer was trying to shoot the patient in an attempt to save Kinsey's life.

Nancy Abudu, the American Civil Liberties Union's legal director in Florida, said her group hasn't received any brutality complaints about the North Miami police or about any questionable shootings before this week's.

Kinsey's attorney, Hilton Napoleon II, said he is already talking to North Miami city officials about a monetary settlement for his client, who is married with five children. City officials did not return a phone call seeking confirmation.

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch told reporters the Justice Department is aware of the shooting and working with local law enforcement to gather all of the facts and to decide how to proceed.

U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, who represents the area, said she was in shock.

"From what I saw, he was lying on the ground with his hands up. Freezing. But he was still shot," said Wilson, a Democrat.

"This is not typical of North Miami," she said. "We're not accustomed to this tension. ... This cannot happen again."

The chief said officers responded after getting a 911 call about a man with a gun threatening to kill himself, and the officers arrived "with that threat in mind" — but no gun was recovered.

Cellphone video shows Kinsey lying on the ground with his arms raised, talking to his patient and police throughout the standoff with officers, who appeared to have them surrounded.

"As long as I've got my hands up, they're not going to shoot me. This is what I'm thinking. They're not going to shoot me," he told WSVN-TV (http://bit.ly/2ac7zm1) from his hospital bed, where he was recovering from a gunshot wound to his leg. "Wow, was I wrong."

The video does not show the moment of the shooting. Napoleon said there was about a two-minute gap in which the person who was recording had switched off, thinking nothing more noteworthy would happen. It then briefly shows the aftermath of the shooting. He would not say who gave him the video.

"Lay down on your stomach," Kinsey says to his patient in the video, which was shot from about 30 feet away and provided to the Miami Herald (http://hrld.us/2ahReMa). "Shut up!" responds the patient, who is sitting cross-legged in the road.

Kinsey said he was more worried about his patient than himself.

"I'm telling them again, 'Sir, there is no need for firearms. I'm unarmed, he's an autistic guy. He got a toy truck in his hand," Kinsey said.

After the shooting, Napoleon said officers handcuffed Kinsey and left him lying in the street on his stomach for 20 minutes without rendering first aid.

Kinsey said he asked an officer why he was shot and the officer said "I don't know."

Associated Press writer Eric Tucker in Washington contributed to this report.

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UPDATE - again...

Police Commander Suspended For Alleged Fabrications About Charles Kinsey Shooting

The Huffington Post, article by Michael McLaughlin | July 22, 2016

A North Miami, Florida, police officer who shot an unarmed black mental health therapist was identified Friday as a SWAT team member, and a police commander accused of fabricating information about the shooting was suspended.

A lawyer for the wounded therapist, Charles Kinsey, meanwhile, told the Miami Herald he does not believe a police union official who claimed the shooting was an accident.

SWAT team member Jonathan Aledda was identified Friday as the cop who fired three shots during the confrontation Monday in which Kinsey was wounded in the leg.

Bystander video shows Kinsey lying in the street with his hands up shortly before the shooting. Kinsey said he had been trying to calm a patient with autism who had run from a nearby group home. The patient’s toy truck apparently was mistaken for a gun by a 911 caller.

The cellphone footage adds another vivid flashpoint to recent controversial police shootings of black men in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Falcon Heights, Minnesota. Police officers, meanwhile, have been gunned down by ambushers in Dallas and Baton Rouge.

Aledda thought Kinsey was at risk from the other man in the street, according to John Rivera, head of the Miami-Dade Police Benevolent Association. The officer tried to shoot the man he thought was attacking Kinsey, but mistakenly shot Kinsey instead, Rivera said.

Kinsey’s lawyer, Hilton Napoleon, on Friday cast doubt on the union leader’s explanation. He said he didn’t believe that a SWAT team member with four years’ experience would be a poor shooter. Napoleon also said the officer should have warned Kinsey to move away if the intended target was the other man.

Kinsey, in an interview from his hospital bed, said he asked Aledda why he shot him after he was hit. He said the officer answered, “I don’t know.

Aledda is on administrative leave while the authorities review what happened.

Police officials also suspended Commander Emile Hollant without pay for what North Miami City Manager Larry Spring Jr. said were inconsistencies in his statements about the shooting. Officials wouldn’t elaborate.

# we will continue to update this post as information becomes available.