Disability News Service, Resources, Diversity, Americans with Disabilities Act; Local and National.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

2012 Illinois Search Is On For The Most Accomplished And Articulate Spokeswoman For Persons With Disabilities

Tinley Park, Illinois (PRWEB) December 31, 2011

Ms. Wheelchair Illinois America, preliminary to the national Ms. Wheelchair America advocacy program, promotes the achievements and the needs of people who utilize wheelchairs for mobility

The mission of Ms. Wheelchair Illinois America is to provide an opportunity of achievement for women who happen to be wheelchair users to successfully educate and advocate for the more than 52 million Americans living with disabilities. It is a competition based on advocacy, achievement, communication and presentation to select the most accomplished and articulate spokeswoman for persons with disabilities.

As Ms. Wheelchair Illinois America, the titleholder has numerous duties. These include promoting awareness of the need to eliminate architectural and attitudinal barriers and informing the able-bodied public of the achievements of the millions of people with disabilities across the state of Illinois. During her year long reign, she will have the opportunity to travel visiting advocacy groups, making public appearances and conducting radio, print ad, and TV interviews. The commitment and personal example of the titleholder serves to further the mission of Ms. Wheelchair Illinois America.

The Ms. Wheelchair Illinois Organization is currently seeking contestants for the 2012 Ms. Wheelchair Illinois America Competition, to be held in Tinley Park on Saturday, March 17th, 2012. If you are a woman, a U.S. citizen between the ages of 21 and 60, utilize a wheelchair for 100% of your community mobility, and have been a resident of Illinois for at least 6 months, you are eligible to enter. Ms. Wheelchair Illinois is a public speaking role, as she will promote awareness and achievements of Illinois residents living with disabilities.

Ms. Wheelchair Illinois, and 30 other state title holders, will go on to compete at the televised 40th national Ms. Wheelchair America competition, to be held August 2012 in Providence, Rhode Island. For applications and further information or to become an official state sponsor, please contact us at: http://www.mswheelchairillinois.org

Wendy Settles, Ms. Wheelchair Illinois America 2011

Wendy was born on August 16, 1984 in Alton, Illinois with Cerebral Palsy. She is the oldest of four children, and a graduate of Alton High School. After graduating from high school, Wendy attended Lewis and Clark Community College in Godfrey, Illinois where she earned an Associate in Arts. From there, Wendy went on to study at Southern Illinois University Carbondale before transferring to Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE). She graduated with a B.S. in Mass Communications on May 7 th , 2011 from SIUE and married Gregory Settles on May 14 th , 2011. Since the age of nineteen, Wendy was a board member at IMPACT CIL; she also worked at IMPACT CIL during her time at SIUE as an Independent Living Specialist in home services. Wendy has also interned at the Edwardsville Intellinger. She looks forward to represent Illinois during her year long reign, so she can be an advocate for disability rights. Disability advocacy has always been a major part of Wendy's life. Her platform is to focus on the negative portrayal of people with disabilities in the media. Being in the media field, she takes advantage of opportunities to educate her peers and the media on how to more accurately portray people living with disabilities. Wendy also competed against 30 other state titleholders at the national Ms. Wheelchair America Pageant, held in Grand Rapids, MI.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Higher Education and Disability: Improved Federal Enforcement Needed to Better Protect Students' Rights to Testing Accomodations : Report 2011

Government Accountability Office
Nov 29, 2011

What GAO Found

Among accommodations requested and granted in the most recent testing year, approximately three-quarters were for extra time, and about half were for applicants with learning disabilities. High school and postsecondary school officials GAO interviewed reported advising students about which accommodations to request and providing documentation to testing companies, such as a student's accommodations history.

Testing companies included in GAO's study reported that they grant accommodations based on their assessment of an applicant's eligibility under the ADA and whether accommodation requests are appropriate for their tests. Testing companies look for evidence of the functional limitations that prevent the applicant from taking the exam under standard conditions. They also consider what accommodations are appropriate for their tests and may grant accommodations that were different than those requested. For example, one testing company official told GAO that applicants with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder all might request extra time, but may be granted different accommodations given their limitations--extra time for an applicant unable to maintain focus; extra breaks for an applicant unable to sit still for an extended time period; a separate room for an easily distracted applicant.

Documenting need and determining appropriate accommodations can present challenges to students and testing companies. Some applicants GAO interviewed found testing companies' documentation requirements difficult to understand and unreasonable. Most applicants GAO spoke with said they sought accommodations that they were accustomed to using, and some found it frustrating that the testing company would not provide the same accommodations for the test. Testing companies reported challenges with ensuring fairness to all test takers and maintaining the reliability of their tests when making accommodations decisions. Testing company officials said that reviewing requests that contain limited information can make it difficult to make an informed decision. Some testing company officials also expressed concern with being required to provide accommodations that best ensure an applicant's test results reflect the applicant's aptitude rather than providing what they consider to be reasonable accommodations.

Federal enforcement of laws and regulations governing testing accommodations is largely complaint-driven and involves multiple agencies. While Justice has overall responsibility for enforcing compliance under the ADA, Education and HHS have enforcement responsibilities under the Rehabilitation Act for testing companies that receive federal financial assistance from them. Education and HHS officials said that they investigate each eligible complaint. Justice officials said they review each complaint at in-take, but they do not make a determination on every complaint because of the large volume of complaints it receives. Justice has clarified ADA requirements for testing accommodations primarily by revising its regulations, but it lacks a strategic approach to targeting enforcement. Specifically, Justice has not fully utilized complaint data--either its own or that of other agencies--to inform its efforts. Justice officials said that they reviewed complaints on a case-by-case basis but did not conduct systematic searches of their data to inform their overall approach to enforcement. Additionally, Justice has not initiated compliance reviews of testing companies, and its technical assistance on this subject has been limited. GAO recommends that the Department of Justice take steps to develop a strategic approach to enforcement such as by analyzing its data and updating its technical assistance manual. Justice agreed with GAO's recommendation.

Why GAO Did This Study

Standardized tests are often required to gain admission into postsecondary schools or to obtain professional certifications. Federal disability laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) require entities that administer these tests to provide accommodations, such as extended time or changes in test format, to students with disabilities. GAO examined (1) the types of accommodations individuals apply for and receive and how schools assist them, (2) factors testing companies consider when making decisions about requests for accommodations, (3) challenges individuals and testing companies experience in receiving and granting accommodations, and (4) how federal agencies enforce compliance with relevant disability laws and regulations. To conduct this work, GAO interviewed disability experts; individuals with disabilities; officials from high schools, postsecondary schools, testing companies; and officials from the Departments of Justice (Justice), Education, and Health and Human Services (HHS). GAO also reviewed testing company policies and data, federal complaint and case data for selected testing companies, and relevant laws and regulations.

What GAO Recommends

GAO recommends that the Department of Justice take steps to develop a strategic approach to enforcement such as by analyzing its data and updating its technical assistance manual. Justice agreed with GAO’s recommendation.

For more information, contact George Scott at (202) 512-7215 or scottg@gao.gov.

Recommendations for Executive Action

Recommendation: Justice should take steps to develop a strategic approach to target its enforcement efforts related to testing accommodations. For example, the strategic approach could include (1) analyzing its complaint and case data to prioritize enforcement and technical assistance, (2) working with the Secretaries of Education and HHS to develop a formal coordination strategy, and (3) updating technical assistance materials to reflect current requirements.

Agency Affected: Department of Justice

Status: Open

Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

Additional Materials:

Highlights Page (PDF, 1 page) at:
http://www.gao.gov/assets/590/587366.pdf

Accessible Text at:
http://www.gao.gov/assets/590/587368.txt

# http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-12-40

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Illinois with over 200 New Laws on Jan 1, 2012 : Wonder what they are?

As of Jan 1, 2012 in Illinois;

Everyone traveling in a motor vehicle must use a seat belt in both the front and back seat of a vehicle - the exemptions are emergency vehicles and taxi cabs except when they are being used to transport kids to school.

No person may occupy a vehicle or the cargo area of a second division vehicle while it is being towed upon a public highway – the exclusion is pick-up trucks.

Landlords must disclose the existence of radon hazards to renters.

Parties are allowed to voluntarily and in writing agree to waive the fact finding conference conducted by the Department of Human Rights.

The amount of time granted to DHFS regarding its report to the General Assembly on the number of fraud cases identified and pursued under the medical assistance program is extended - the fines assessed and collected are affected also.

Official certificate specifications for child passenger safety courses have been changed.

Law enforcement agencies are allowed to donate unclaimed property to charity if it is unclaimed for at least 6 months.

Rental car companies may not be held liable for automated traffic law violations committed in their vehicles and local governments are authorized to hold the lessee accountable.

Unemployment lists are to be compiled for use for jury pool selection.

Authorities who can take oaths and affirmations are allowed to take oaths anywhere in the state rather than just their own jurisdictions.

Emergency vehicles may use oscillating lights when parked at the scene of a fire, rescue call, or car crash.

IDOT is required to notify CMS if vehicles must be replaced so that CMS may transfer them to another agency, and if the vehicle can't be transferred, IDOT must make the vehicle available to local governments.

Courts are allowed to subpoena professionals in child custody hearings, and costs are split between the divorcing parents.

DPH is required to publish a yearly report on multi-drug resistant infections.

Electric or gas public utilities are prohibited from disconnecting service during winter months due to non-payment if a residential customer is a veteran and if the gas or electricity is the primary heating source.

The SOS is allowed to defer military drivers' license expirations for an additional 30 days and a total of 120.

All childcare providers who take infants are required to train on SIDS once every three years.

Summer school courses that are part of a remediation program for students deemed to be 2 or more grades below current placement are required to emphasize math and reading.

Schools are encouraged to promote 60 minutes of reading for K-3 students, but this does not require them to implement the 60 minutes.

No health insurance policy shall exclude coverage for routine patient care for individuals participating in a qualified clinical cancer trial if the policy covers the same care of insured persons now enrolled in qualified clinical cancer trials.

Markham TIF is extended.

The language necessary is provided for a selective enrollment magnet school in Aurora operated by the local school district with support from Aurora University to open.

Municipalities to dissolve police or firefighter pension funds are allowed if an independent auditor certifies that the fund has no liabilities, participants, or beneficiaries entitled to benefits.

Public library financial protection procedures are updated, including new deadlines for reports, clarification on TIF reimbursements to library districts, and insurance policies.

Wardens may to move prisoners who are threatening the security of other prisoners to some other jail until the prisoners can be safely returned.

Homeowners' associations, common interest community associations, and condominium owners' associations’ energy policy statements are required to include whether or not wind energy collection, rain water collection, or composting systems are allowed as well as information regarding their location, design, and architectural requirements.

Skilled nursing facilities are required to designate Infection Prevention and Control Professionals.

Municipalities are to provide procedures for releasing properly impounded vehicles for a fee related to their administrative cost, and the fee shall be waived if the owner proves that the vehicle was stolen.

An electronic reporting system for death registrations shall be used to transfer information to the Department of Healthcare and Family Services at least once every three months in order to update the roster of Medicaid recipients.

The corporate authorities of a municipality may, by ordinance, regulate sound devices.

Several State Police Funds are allowed to collect interest accrued from federal funds awarded to ISP and IEMA, rather than interest going to GRF.

The sunset of the Registered Titles Torrens Act is accelerated to January 1, 2014.

A hospital's safe patient handling policy contents are expanded.

People are prohibited from using duck blinds from shooting ducks on other people's property without consent – this law is only applicable in the counties of Alexander, Union, Williamson, and Jackson.

DFPR is allowed to issue civil penalties to non-compliant credit unions, but gives them time to come into compliance before being required to pay the fees or fines.

Switch grass production permits are established.

IDES and IDOC are required to work together to find employment for discharged inmates.

Social Security numbers may not be printed on wristbands or the outside of any file associated with the products or services.

The Uniform Foreign Country Money Judgment Act is replaced with a new version that has been introduced in 15 states, and the changes include new burdens of proof and a statute of limitations.

Financial crimes of a value between $500,000 and $1,000,000, is a Class 1 felony that will not qualified for probation, and a financial crime of full value higher than $1,000,000, is a Class X felony.

Charter school campuses for dropouts must operate on separate contracts or payrolls, even when run by the same charter as another school.

A Class A misdemeanor is issued for knowingly discharging a laser into a cockpit of an aircraft in use.

The State Police must establish a Statewide First Degree Murderer Database for the purpose of identifying persons convicted of first degree murder or violent offenses against youth which may be cited as Andrea's Law.

Sex offenders and sexual predators must register with the security director at any college they attend or are employed by, regardless of whether the school is in-state of out-of-state.

Video child pornography is worse than still photos.

People convicted of aggravated domestic battery are prohibited from holding FOID cards.

The definitions of child abduction are the existing definition within the crime of luring a minor, and include an enhanced penalty for a convicted sex offender who is subsequently convicted of child abductions.

Individuals on probation for hate crimes involving vandalism of religious buildings are required to take an educational program discouraging hate crimes - the courses may be online.

Aggravated intimidation is expanded to include intimidating a person calling the police about a violent crime.

Under-18 child sex offenders are prohibited from being present in and around schools and other locations without permission from superintendents and meeting other requirements – the law allows offenders to petition for a waiver to the prohibition under certain circumstances.

Musical acts that perform pyrotechnic displays must meet certain requirements.

Adults with disabilities who are under care of a guardian may receive therapy without the guardian's consent.

DPH's website must include the Hospital Report Card Act, provide links to the Consumer Guide to Health Care and Hospital Report Card Act, and include information and a description of both laws.

Fire training classes and programs may charge fees for use.

Courts must assess a $75 fee for certain offenses relating to bail, and if ISP is involved, $70 goes to the State.

All physicians' orders and plans of treatment are to have an original written signature or an electronic signature as opposed to a stamp.

Patient claims and data submitted by hospitals must include various personal information about patients - but are not to include social security numbers.

Individual donors of medical supplies (but not medications) to veterinarians or veterinary schools are protected from civil damages if the supplies cause injury, unless they donated the faulty supplies with malicious intent or reckless disregard for safety.

Aquariums or museums must be open to Illinois residents as opposed to the public without charge for a period equivalent to 52 days.

IDOL's ability to provide labor arbitration services is repealed.

K2 which is a synthetic cannabis is illegal.

The University Technology Entrepreneur Center Act, allows boards of trustees to create technology entrepreneur centers on campus at public universities and community colleges.

Insurance policies are required to provide coverage for certain cancer medication to ensure that limitations on applicable financial requirements for orally-administered medications are not more restrictive than limitations for intravenously administered or injected medications.

Labor agreements on public works projects are required.

Various changes are enacted to weight and size limitations on trucks.

Speed limits outside of Cook County and its collar counties are uniform for all size vehicles on 4-lane highways.

Each school board must adopt a policy regarding student athlete concussions and head injuries that complies with the protocols, policies, and by-laws of the Illinois High School Association.

Regulations of Commercial Drivers' Licenses are in line with new federal standards that go into effect in January 2012.

It is easier for the children of military personnel to attend schools by removing barriers to transfers and cutting certain costs and fees.

The definition of False Impersonation is to include individuals who represent themselves as government employees - the actual people and not just the broad category - through appearance or words.

The SOS is required to complete a feasibility study for the implementation of corporate sponsored licensed plates.

The ICC is required to review and update its current consumer education materials for residential and small commercial electric customers with input from interested parties which includes electric utilities, the Attorney General, and the Citizens Utility Board.

The ICC is required to prepare an annual report regarding the development of competitive retail natural gas markets in Illinois instead of the gas market in general.

Disclosure of names and permits of school transportation drivers is required, and smoking in school transport vehicles is prohibited, and certain vehicles are allowed may be used to transport students so long as a permitted individual is driving - liability insurance for accidents is increased, too.

State law is made to be more politically correct by removing references to the words mental retardation and crippled.

The definition of forgery is expanded to include knowingly making a false statement.

Contractors are forbidden from promising to pay or rebate insurance deductibles when doing repairs or renovations necessitated by a natural disaster.

Sentencing for felons found in possession of weapons is mandatory.

Dogs and cats are to be scanned and examined for identification upon impoundment within 24 hours.

Landlords are to request pro rata rent due for the period where a judgment is stayed in addition to claim of owed rent when the person is suing for possession of a rental unit under Forcible Entry and Detainer.

School districts, community college districts, and private schools are required to make information obtained available to schools who request information.

State's Attorneys may make grants to substance abuse programs if they have budget surpluses from court fee collection relating to drug cases.

Employees of abortion clinics are required to report suspected child abuse and neglect.

ISBE, the Illinois State Board of Education, has a state code clean-up bill.

One member of the Sex Offender Management Board must be appointed by the governor representing Probation Services on the recommendation of the Illinois Probation and Court Services Association, and the board is reduced to 20 members from 24.

The National Guard Veterans Exposure to Hazardous Materials Task Force is released and the Purple Heart Day to is established to remember those who've been killed or wounded in battle.

Defendants with misdemeanor or first-time felony convictions for prostitution may petition a court for relief from judgment if the crime resulted from sex trafficking.

The Department of Revenue may enter into offset payment agreements with the State Comptroller and U.S. Treasurer.

The RTA may create a universal fare card for seniors excluding Pace ADA para-transit services.

Residents of veterans' homes may qualify as incapacitated voters who receive in-person absentee voting privileges in their place of residence.

A person is prohibited from collecting workers' compensation benefits if the injury or death occurred as a result of the individual committing a forcible felony, aggravated DUI, or reckless homicide.

The Treasurer is authorized to invest in short-term obligations of Limited Liability Companies if they have assets worth more than $500 million.

Diabetes self-management training shall include education programs to be defined by contract of insurance that allow the patient to maintain an A1c level within the range identified in nationally recognized standards of care.

The Diversity in Engineering Scholarship Program is created.

EIU is allowed to implement a pilot program of tuition waivers, funded by tuition, not state money, to attract out-of-state students.

Local governments shall provide preferred truck routes and SOS shall include distinctions in instructions for using truck-attributed GPS and non-truck GPS.

Courts must consider a variety of factors when considering transferring a student who is subject to a restraining order originating with another student who attends the same school.

Persons who resign or are convicted of a felony, bribery, perjury, or other infamous crimes are not allowed to hold office as a township officer or board member.

Requirements for IDVA to have a commission addressing Persian Gulf War veterans' issues are withdrawn, and a Division of Women Veterans Affair is created.

Parents or spouses of veterans killed in action can be admitted to veterans' homes if there are vacant beds.

The Advisory Council on Bilingual Education shall issue a report on bilingual education.

Fees for more military license plates are eliminated and reduced.

Retailers are required to improve the transparency of their rebate offers.

The Cass County Board may create a flood protection district in Beardstown.

A person who hires or directs someone to stalk someone on his or her behalf is equally guilty of the stalking charge.

Attacking a sheriff's employee, licensed detective, or licensed detective's employee who is delivering court documents is upgraded to aggravated assault or battery and is accompanied by higher penalties.

Incentives for the recycling of asphalt roofing shingles are established.

A variety of changes to currency exchange regulations become law.

An exception under the Open Meetings Act allows a public body to conduct a closed meeting for discussing internal financial control weaknesses or potential fraud with auditors, finance committees, and their equivalents.

Service credit and earnings are to be factors when determining an employer's cost for an individual's pension, as opposed to the current situation which only factors in service credit.

HIV testing requirement for inmates are clarified, and DOC, the Department of Juvenile Justice, and the Cook County Jail may conduct opt-out testing.

Changes are made to the composition of the Illinois Law Enforcement Training Standards Board.

JCAR may remove and schedule controlled substances on Schedule I through V, also electronic prescriptions and 90-day prescriptions for Schedule II substances are allowed.

Vending machine operators must only inform IDOR if they increase the number of machines they operate, rather than issuing annual reports.

Schools may suspend or expel students for gross misconduct over the internet and cell phones.

Public employee insurance programs are to cover the costs of victims of abuse.

The classification of delivery of a stolen firearm is changed to clarify criminal code.

Creditors may place liens on personal property under certain circumstances.

Hold Harmless education funding is eliminated.

Press boxes that do not have to comply with the accessibility code are clarified.

The Workforce Development Board is to post more information on the DCEO's website.

Regional Superintendents are encouraged to share in joint education or operational programs, and they are required to submit more information to ISBE.

A court is required to make a finding that secure confinement is necessary prior to committing a juvenile to the Department of Juvenile Justice.

Vendors must have a limited-lines license to sell insurance for portable electronics.

Schools that have been on the academic watch list for 2 years may opt in to a year-long school pilot program, provided that they meet certain other conditions.

Religious exemptions to photo identification are permitted and provide the SOS to issue non-photo ID cards under these circumstances.

Local governments and state agencies, currently just the state, may seek recovery for the costs of repairs or damage to roadway property.

All rail carriers are to be equipped with a first aid kit when transporting railroad employees in the course of their employment.

Drycleaners who have received funding from the Environmental Response Trust Fund must maintain insurance until 2020 or until the facility is inactive.

Local governments can't contract out their jail services.

DHS must assist in the creation of Regional Integrated Behavioral Health Networks which will improve access to mental health and substance abuse services.

DPH must publish the DNR Advance Directive form in Spanish and must meet national standards for a life-sustaining treatment form.

DNA samples from murderers and rapists after they are indicted are required, and a judicial finding of probable cause or they waive a hearing.

Using a radio device capable of obtaining identity information is identity fraud.

The sale of non-potentially hazardous food items prepared in home kitchens at farmers' markets is allowed.

Racial classifications in Illinois statutes are replaced with those used by the federal government for census purposes.

A notary public may accept ID documents from a consulate as satisfactory evidence that a signature is valid.

In order to limit the use of social security numbers for licensing purposes, the bill requires new licensees to include social security numbers when applying for a professional license, but requires the respective agency to then assign a customer ID number to be used for subsequent renewals.

Circuit court clerks must mail confiscated FOID cards to ISP prior to convicted persons' release dates.

An additional fine of $2,500 as well as incarceration is to be given to people who have driven without insurance more than twice and caused accidents resulting in injuries.

Protocols for eliminating underperforming special license plates are developed.

The definition of disability is expanded to include any mental, psychological, or developmental disability, including autism spectrum disorders.

Vehicles older than 25 years and replica vehicles to be registered as expanded-use antique vehicles are permitted.

Violation of federal payday loan protections for military members is a violation of Illinois Payday Loan Law.

Several labor laws that are already minimally used and enforced due to irrelevance are enforced.

Townships are given more authority over leaf and brush disposal.

The composition of the Commission to End Hunger is changed.

Affiliate as it relates to Payday Loans is defined as an individual that controls, meaning an ownership interest of 25% or more, is controlled by or shares control with another person.

The limit on finance charges applicable to the extra days when the first installment period of a payday loan is larger than the remaining installment periods is set.

Health care facilities are required to provide copies of their written staffing plans for nursing care upon request.

HFS may pay for 90-day prescriptions to brand name maintenance medication, provided that it is cost-effective, also, HFS is already authorized to pay for 90-day prescriptions for generic medications.

Private detectives are required to register with the sheriff before serving court documents.

Sheriffs may transfer license plates between vehicles without paying fees.

Various additional crimes to the definition of violent offense against youth are added.

The Racial and Ethnic Impact task force is developed to find a standardized, unbiased way of collecting racial and ethnic data on arrestees.

The Criminal Justice Department is responsible for providing training to local government entities who request training in order to procure federal grant for gang prevention programs.

If a prospective juror is found to be unqualified or is excused due to a total and permanent disability, the county board, the jury administrator, or the jury commissioners shall permanent exclude the person from all jury lists.

Members of the Prisoner Review Board are allowed to accept compensation for teaching if the teaching is within the members' fields or expertise.

Investigative authority of DHS with regard to community integrated living arrangements is expanded, and it establishes rules to govern reviews of such arrangements – additionally, it requires annual registry checks.

Dwelling units and hotels must have at least one smoke detector within 15 feet of every room used for sleeping, and hotels are responsible for installation and maintenance of them.

IDFPR must disclose the status of a pending complaint to the party who filed the complaint upon request.

Certain fees are assessed on criminals on probation to the probation and court services fund rather than working cash fund.

If a pharmacist substitutes a generic prescription for a brand name anti-epileptic drug, the pharmacist must provide written notice to the patient no later than the time the prescription is dispensed.

When law enforcement reopens a closed case, it must provide notice unless doing so would endanger the case.

Some school programs are repealed and some largely technical changes are necessary.

Chiropractors may prescribe oxygen.

The process for collecting the 9-1-1 surcharge to prepaid wireless phones is better organized via streamlining.

An employer may require a school bus driver to submit to drug and alcohol testing if there is reasonable suspicion of DU, and the driver's permit may be suspended for three years in the event of a positive test or refusal to take test.

Penalties for aggravated battery are increased to a Class 1 felony from Class 3 offense for cases where the crime intentionally or knowingly caused great bodily harm, permanent disability or disfigurement, and involved the infliction of torture.

A registered sex offender who harasses the victim is guilty of aggravated stalking.

The landlord is responsible for changing locks of a rental unit that has been vacated prior to a new tenant moving in and may be held liable for any theft or damages that occur as a result of failure to change the lock – this is only applicable to Cook County.

The changes suggested by the Chicago Educational Facilities Task Force make adequate facility information public and creates oversight of improvement plans and spending.

The AG may investigate listed sex crimes and allows the AG and State's Attorneys to issue limited purpose subpoenas without having to empanel a grand jury of file charges, but must provide notice and do so under the supervision of the Chief Judge of the relevant Circuit Court.

Penalties for financial exploitation of an elderly person or person with a disability are enhanced.

Companies and state agencies that have experienced data breaches are required to provide information on dealing with identity fraud.

Health provider organizations are required to comply with same annual reporting requirements as insurers, and they have new reporting requirements on insurers and increased fees.

Sub-contractors must file a notice including amount due and amount paid with the political subdivision and contractor before proceeding with a claim of labor or material.

Agency adoption forms may only be used by legal parents.

TV and video monitors are allowed in the front passenger seat of a car as long as the driver cannot see them, and the screen must be permanently attached to the vehicle.

The Task Force on Inventorying Employment Restrictions must issue reports on employment records based on criminal records by November 1, 2011 and the impact of these restrictions by February 1, 2012 and issue their findings and recommendations to the Governor and the GA by September 1, 2012.

Good government training programs and procedures are created for newly elected officials, allow school board members to satisfy requirement by participating in training sponsored by school board association.

Trust companies are financial institutions and they are allowed to keep their own records rather than deliver them to the Recorder of Deeds.

Stricter coal filtering standards when using coal waste as structural fill is established.

Currency exchanges are prohibited from providing certain services, and have been given other regulatory changes including fee increases.

The fine for employers who violate sections of the equal pay act to $5,000 is doubled.

Courts are required to report to the Department of Juvenile Justice regarding their efforts to secure post-release placement, and the law also allows the department to secure federal matching funds.

Members of public hospital boards are exempt from certain conflict interest rules in certain counties of a certain population.

The authorities and procedures of the Prisoner Review Board are altered to allow longer periods between hearings in certain cases.

The Prisoner Review Board may not release certain information to an inmate relating to a victim's objection to granting parole without a waiver from an objecting party.

School districts are required to pay support personnel for service days, but districts may dock these personnel who refuse to attend, and they must establishes exemptions for irrelevant training.

Provisions that deal with rules and regulations surrounding mobile dental vans are established.

Parole or mandatory supervised release be must be written as part of a sentencing order and the written statement must include that a parolee is in compliance with the terms of his or her parole or mandatory supervised release and has completed his or her high school degree then the Prisoner Review Board may reduce the period of the parolee’s parole or MSR by 90 days.

Fees and debts of the previous owner a master association must pay when purchasing a condo structure is clarified.

The offense of unlawful use of recorded sounds or images with respect to sound recordings applies only to sound recordings that were initially recorded before February 15, 1972.

An amendment to the Public Community Colleges Act to reapportion the trustee districts for Lincoln Land Community College is suggested.

The SOS is allowed to suspend or revoke the license of a vehicle for 90 days if a court finds the vehicle was used in gunrunning.

Changes are made in the provision concerning qualifications for examinations for Land Surveyor-in-Training.

The State is required to seek a preliminary determination from the court as to whether there is probably cause to believe that a property may be subject to forfeiture within 14 days from the seizure of the property, and also raises the threshold for non-real property to $150,000 to be subject to forfeiture.

Law enforcement agencies may collect pharmaceuticals from residencies and send the pharmaceuticals away for incineration, subject to EPA authorization of the facility.

City halls and/or police departments may maintain receptacles for collecting unwanted or expired drugs.

Students who have been suspended or expelled are prohibited from entering or remaining in a school safe zone during the expulsion or suspension.

Data pertaining to cases involving the HIV/AIDS registry is clarified regarding all CD test results.

The homicide investigator application waiver for officer training has been established.

The State Fire Marshal is required to adopt rules that prohibit the use of a rebuilt flame safeguard control in forced air heating equipment.

The Illinois Residential Real Property Transfer on Death Instrument Act is to create a way to transfer real estate upon owner's death without need for a probate is developed.

The time an insurance company can request recoupment or offsets withheld from future payments to a provider is limited to 18 months.

There is a technical change to Care of Students with Diabetes Act.

Under condition of mandatory supervised release, persons convicted of violating meth laws may be barred from purchasing products containing pseudoephedrine or ammonium nitrate unless they are prescribed by a doctor.

In the case of a property maintenance code violation by a repeat offender, a notice to appear may be used as the proper service of process against the owner of the property.

Inmates are to pay $5 rather than $2 for non-emergency medical visits.

Possession of a caustic and noxious substance including sulfuric acid and hydrochloric acid, other than for academic purposes, is a crime.

Therapists are allowed to disclose a patient's records for use in determining the patient's fitness to stand trial if the records were made within 180 days preceding the therapist's appointment to the court.

Stable keepers are allowed to place liens on tack, equipment, and other personal items stored at their stables.

Contractors who must pay a prevailing wage must keep their pay records for three years, produce them within 3 days upon request, and answer requests from law enforcement.

A victim or family member must - in the event of a death – be notified when a defendant is being sentenced for violating any statute relating to the use of vehicles when the violation resulted by great bodily harm.

A public hearing involving two disadvantaged municipalities to enter into an intergovernmental agreement may abate property taxes levied by the municipalities and local school districts for property located within a business corridor.

Violating the Service Member's Employment Tenure Act is a civil rights violation, and the AG must maintain a list of employers who have violated the Act.

A water system owned by a public utility that serves 2 or more municipalities may be acquired by a majority of the municipalities by an eminent domain.

Universities are required to track first-generation students.

The Minority Contractor Opportunity Initiative is to help female- and minority-owned businesses participate in the procurement process.

Two or more municipalities that want to designate a joint redevelopment area may do so if at least one of the municipalities has the authority to designate a redevelopment area.

Insurance coverage is required up to $500 for tobacco use cessation programs.

Pre-need funeral and burial contracts must be registered on an online database maintained by the Comptroller and there are requirements for pre-need sellers to renew licenses or pay fees every five years, and the law enhances penalty provisions.

Rental car companies may charge an airport concession charge to all of those who rent a motor vehicle.

Employers may not discriminate against pregnant women due to their pregnancy.

Theft provisions in the criminal code are cleared up.

There is a TIF extension for the City of Lawrenceville.

The definition of conservation area for the purpose of municipal annexation is expanded.

There are changes to the Common Interest Community Association Act to provide protections similar to those enjoyed by condominium owners.

Life insurance benefits are required to be marital property to be allocated equally between the parties.

The method of calculating validated service for CPS retirement is altered by requiring CPS to make more frequent contributions, but allowing it a longer period of time to make contributions without incurring interest penalties.

The State is allowed to appoint temporary guardians upon the death, incapacity, or resignation of a current guardian.

Hunters are permitted to harvest roadkill.

Mammographers are required to participate in quality improvement programs to receive higher Medicaid reimbursement rates.

Motorcyclists and bicyclists may go through a red light after a reasonable time if the light isn't changing because the sensor only works for cars, and this only applies outside of Cook County.

Remote dialing of E911 is permitted on behalf of a person who has been designated as a critical missing person but is unable to call E911 or unaware they should do so.

Funding for the Mutual Aid Box Alarm System is changed from GRF to the Fire Prevention Fund.

Fire departments may ban open burning within a district on an emergency basis.

#Source State of Illinois: http://www2.illinois.gov/Pages/default.aspx

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Landmark Disability Case - James Sak and Snickers were reunited by an Iowa court today Dec 28, 2011

as reported by Naomi Seldin Ramirez | NorthJersy.com


James Sak and Snickers were reunited by an Iowa court today.

The pair received widespread attention after the city of Aurelia, Iowa, told Sak, a retired Chicago police officer and disabled Vietnam War veteran, to get rid of Snickers. Why? Because despite being a certified therapy dog, Snickers is also part pit bull, and like a growing number of municipalities, Aurelia has a breed ban.

Regardless of how you feel about pit bulls, the city’s response appears to violate the ADA. Sak had a stroke in 2008, and the University of Illinois Medical Center in Chicago trained Snickers to help him walk, keep his balance and get help in emergencies. The Americans for Disabilities Act guarantees people with disabilities the right to have service dogs regardless of breed.

Labrador retrievers are probably the most commonly recognized service dogs, thanks to the wonderful work of nonprofits like Guiding Eyes for the Blind. But German Shepherds and other “aggressive breeds” are, too, and undergo the same intensive training and temperament testing. The dispute over Snickers could set an important legal precedent for similar cases and help protect the rights of the disabled.

According to the Sioux City Journal, the judge who issued the preliminary injunction regarding Snickers has “no desire to overturn any city’s ban on pit bulls.” It’s about allowing “one service dog the chance to do his job,” he says. The city can still appeal the decision. But for now, Snickers is coming home — and his supporters have something to cheer.



{photo: James Sak leaves federal court in Sioux City, Iowa, on Wednesday. "Today I got my peace of mind back," he said. "I hope that nobody else has to go through what we went through." (Photo by Kim Wolf, Animal Farm Foundation)}

# http://blog.northjersey.com/jerseydog/2891/pit-bull-and-disabled-veteran-reunited-during-landmark-case/

2011 Top 10 Resource Bulletins from the National Resource Directory - connecting wounded warriors, Service Members, Veterans, and their families with those who support them.

The National Resource Directory (NRD) is a website for connecting wounded warriors, Service Members, Veterans, and their families with those who support them.

It provides access to services and resources at the national, state and local levels to support recovery, rehabilitation and community reintegration. Visitors can find information on a variety of topics including benefits & compensation, education & training, employment, family & caregiver support, health, homeless assistance, housing, transportation & travel, volunteer opportunities and other services & resources. For help on how to find resources on the site, visit the How to Use this Site section of the NRD.

The NRD is a partnership among the Departments of Defense, Labor and Veterans Affairs. The information contained within the NRD is from federal, state and local government agencies; Veterans service and benefit organizations; non-profit and community-based organizations; academic institutions and professional associations that provide assistance to wounded warriors and their families.

Throughout 2011 the National Resource Directory (NRD) reached out to its growing audience of more than 30,000 subscribers through email bulletins about important news, events and resources added to the site. Below are the top 10 email bulletins that our subscribers found most helpful. Click on the links below to find information about TRICARE, job training programs, help for caregivers and much more.

1)Resources for Families & Caregivers from the National Resource Directory:
https://www.nationalresourcedirectory.gov/family_and_caregiver_support

2)A Few Tips to Help You Find the Information You’re Looking for on the National Resource Directory: http://content.govdelivery.com/bulletins/gd/USNRD-180dfe

3) Check Out VA’s Site Navigator & "Big List": http://www.va.gov/opa/sitenavigator.asp

4) Joining Forces – Taking Action to Serve America’s Military Families:
http://content.govdelivery.com/bulletins/gd/USNRD-5dd1e

5) VA Reaching Out to Veterans & Their Families through Social Media:
http://www.va.gov/opa/socialmedia.asp

6) Employment & Career Planning Resources from the National Resource Directory: http://content.govdelivery.com/bulletins/gd/USNRD-86bf4

7) 10 Ways to Stay Connected with the National Resource Directory:
http://content.govdelivery.com/bulletins/gd/USNRD-233693

8) Your TRICARE Resources: http://content.govdelivery.com/bulletins/gd/USNRD-60674

9) VA Programs & Services You Should Know About:
http://content.govdelivery.com/bulletins/gd/USNRD-228e89

10) Most Requested Forms from VA Forms Online: http://content.govdelivery.com/bulletins/gd/USNRD-c2b76

For more information on the NRD please visit: https://www.nationalresourcedirectory.gov/

RTA, CTA, & Pace ADA Advisory Committees/Boards 2012 Meeting Dates : People with Disabilities

RTA ADA Advisory Committee

Monday, January 30, 2012
1:30-3:30 PM
RTA Board Room
175 W Jackson Blvd, Suite 1650
Chicago


Monday, April 16, 2012
1:30-3:30 PM
RTA Board Room
175 W Jackson Blvd, Suite 1650
Chicago


Monday, July 16, 2012
1:30-3:30 PM
RTA Board Room
175 W Jackson Blvd, Suite 1650
Chicago


Monday, October 15, 2012
1:30-3:30 PM
RTA Board Room
175 W Jackson Blvd, Suite 1650
Chicago

The RTA is committed to ensuring the accessibility of public transportation for people who have disabilities. The RTA ADA Advisory Committee is our link to the disability community and provides us with valued input on accessibility from the community’s perspective. We invite you to check out a meeting and encourage you to get involved

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CTA ADA Advisory Committee

Meeting Dates
The Committee meeting dates for 2012 are:

•Friday, January 20
•Monday, April 9
•Monday, July 9
•Tuesday, October 9

Meeting Times
The Committee meets quarterly on the second Monday of the quarter, unless there is a holiday. The meeting time is 1:30-3:30 p.m., which includes a 15 minute period for public comment. Check for meeting notices a few days in advance of meetings for additional information.

Meeting Location
Committee meetings open to the public. They are held at CTA headquarters, 567 W. Lake Street, Chicago, Illinois in the Boardroom, which is located on the second floor. The Boardroom can be accessed either by the stairs at the north end of the building lobby or by the elevator located near the stairs.

Purpose and Responsibilities
The ADA Advisory Committee was established by the authority of Chicago Transit Board. It serves in an advisory capacity to the CTA. Its purpose is to provide the CTA with recommendations on the CTA’s compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), facilitate a dialogue between the CTA and the disability community, and increase the use of the CTA’s services by people with disabilities.

The responsibilities of the Committee include:

•To represent the interests of the diversity of people with disabilities
•To provide comment on CTA’s current services, policies and practices
•To provide informed input on the development and assessment of future CTA projects and services that impact people with disabilities

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PACE Suburban ADA Advisory Committee
2012 Suburban Meeting Dates


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Suburban ADA Advisory Committee meetings will be held from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm at Pace Headquarters, 550 W. Algonquin Road, Arlington Heights, IL 60005

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PACE Chicago ADA Advisory Committee
2012 Meeting Schedule


Monday, January 23, 2012

Monday, March 26, 2012

Monday, May 21, 2012

Monday, July 23, 2012

Monday, September 24, 2012

Monday, November 26, 2012

All Chicago ADA Advisory Committee meetings are held from 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm at the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) office, 233 South Wacker Drive, Suite 800, Chicago, IL 60606

# The Pace Board of Directors created two Advisory committees, the purpose of which are to advise staff on issues affecting people with disabilities. One committee is comprised of Chicago residents and one is comprised of suburban residents. Each committee has fifteen members who meet bi-monthly.


* Meetings schedule is subject to change. Please check with RTA, CTA or PACE for any changes.

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The Arc of Illinois - Info, Resources, 2012 Upcoming Events - empowering people with developmental disabilities



YouTube Uploaded by thearcofillinois on Sep 8, 2011

Arc of Illinois Tony Paulauski on describing the Arc of Illinois and what the organization does for people with developmental disabilities

2012 Events

10th Annual QSP Leadership Conference 1/24/12 8:30AM - 4:30PM 2012-01-24 08:30:00 2012-01-24 16:30:00
Doubletree Hotel 5000 West 127th St. Alsip , ILLINOIS 60803 | View map
This is the 10th Annual Arc of Illinois QSP Leadership Conference. The Keynote presentation will be " Beyond Behaviors: Supporting...

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Legal and Future Care Planning For Your Relative With A Developmental Disability 1/27/12 9AM - 3PM 2012-01-27 09:00:00 2012-01-27 15:00:00
Blue Cap School 1962 Broadway Blue Island , IL | View map
DESCRIPTION This workshop will address the unique needs that families have in planning for the financial and legal future of their...

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Legal and Future Care Planning For Your Relative With A Developmental Disability 3/16/12 9AM - 3PM 2012-03-16 09:00:00 2012-03-16 15:00:00
The Arc of Iroquois County 700 E. Elm St. Watseka , IL | View map
DESCRIPTION This workshop will address the unique needs that families have in planning for the financial and legal future of their...

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Planning for Children and Adults with Special Needs for Today and Tomorrow! 5/24/12 9AM - 12:30PM 2012-05-24 09:00:00 2012-05-24 12:30:00
Good Shepherd Manor Held at Assembly Hall
4129 North Rt. 1 and 17 Momence , IL | View map
AGENDA 8:30 - 9:00 a.m. - Registration and Coffee 9:00 - 9:15 a.m. - Welcome and Introductions 9:15 - 10:30 a.m. - Government...

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Planning for Children and Adults with Special Needs for Today and Tomorrow! 6/16/12 9AM - 12:30PM 2012-06-16 09:00:00 2012-06-16 12:30:00
Sparc 232 Bruns Lane Springfield , IL | View map
AGENDA 8:30 - 9:00 a.m. - Registration and Coffee 9:00 - 9:15 a.m. - Welcome and Introductions 9:15 - 10:30 a.m. - Government...
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# Please visit The Arc if Illinois at: http://www.thearcofil.org/

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Medicaid cuts in 2012 To Affect Patients, Providers, & Disabled who rely on programs | Dec 27, 2011

By SHANNON McCAFFREY | AP


ATLANTA (AP) — Just as Medicaid prepares for a vast expansion under the federal health care overhaul, the 47-year-old entitlement program for the poor is under increasing pressure as deficit-burdened states chip away at benefits and cut payments to doctors.

Nearly every state has proposed or implemented a plan in its current budget to rein in costs, and many are considering additional cuts in the year ahead.

For the tens of millions of poor and disabled who rely on the program — approaching nearly one in five Americans — the cuts translate into longer waits for doctors, restrictions on prescription drugs, a halt to vision and dental care, staff cuts at nursing homes and dwindling access to home health care.

Ruth Wohlforth, 70, is among those feeling the effects.

Her $700 monthly income qualifies her for both Medicare and Medicaid, but she says her benefits have been reduced, she's being forced her to make co-pays for the first time on prescription drugs, and she now has to drive about 30 minutes from her home near the southern tip of New Jersey to see a doctor. Some of her friends have been assigned to doctors in Philadelphia.

She said she feels lawmakers are not aware of the real-world consequences of their spending cuts.

"I've seen so many people in tears, and they don't know what to do," Wohlforth said. "People that are older than I am, and are in worse shape, they get befuddled by the whole thing. They don't know where to go for help; they just feel they're not being listened to."

States are reshaping the Medicaid landscape even as the need has grown along with joblessness during the recession.

The $427 billion-a-year program, a combination of state and federal funding, also had been targeted for additional cuts at the federal level this year as members of Congress sparred over how to reduce the nation's debt. But funding seems safe for now after a special committee failed last month to reach an agreement on how to cut overall spending.

Already, many changes at the state level have been dramatic and are testing the legal bounds of what Medicaid must provide:

— Arizona, for a time, eliminated life-saving transplants for Medicaid patients, and hospital officials in the state blame at least one death on the halt in coverage. Gov. Jan Brewer restored transplants but is prohibiting thousands of low-income, childless adults from entering the program and has added fees on those who smoke and the obese.

— New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is pushing a plan under which only the poorest would qualify. A parent of two making more than $103 per week would no longer be eligible for coverage.

— The U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether California has the right to continue cutting payments to physicians and other Medicaid providers to help close the state's ongoing budget deficit.

Cuts to provider fees, as in California, have been the most frequently used tactic by states to save Medicaid costs. A recent survey by the National Association of State Budget Officers found that 33 states wanted to reduce provider rates and another 16 sought to freeze them.

California was granted permission by federal officials to make broad cuts to reimbursement rates to its Medicaid program, known as Medi-Cal, in October. The cuts include a 10 percent reduction to payments for outpatient services for doctors, clinics, optometrists, dental services, medical equipment and pharmacy. They are intended to save the state an estimated $623 million.

A coalition of trade associations representing doctors, pharmacists and chain drug stores has filed a lawsuit seeking to stop the cuts. Doctors who care for Medi-Cal patients say they already have been subjected to multiple pay cuts, and some say they no longer will be able to serve the state's neediest patients.

About 70 percent of Dr. Douglas Tolley's practice in Yuba County is covered by Medi-Cal. The 64-year-old obstetrician, who practices in a largely agricultural region about 40 minutes north of the state capital, said he is the old-school sort of doctor who "was brought up in a time when doctors took care of all comers."

Yet he has seen his income steadily drop over the last 18 years — down one-third from what it was when he started.

"Everybody understands that doctors are basically small business people, and we have to meet our cost plus make a living." Tolley said. "Just meeting our cost doesn't mean staying in business."

Even more state cuts could be on the horizon. In Maine, Gov. Paul LePage recently proposed removing 65,000 residents from the program, citing a state Medicaid shortfall estimated to reach $221 million through mid-2013. The Republican governor says he will not consider tax increases to make up the difference.

State officials, who are required to balance their budgets, argue they have no choice but to cut into Medicaid after four straight years of budget deficits. With state and federal funds combined, Medicaid makes up 22 percent of total state spending, the largest single portion of most state budgets, according to the National Association of State Budget Officers.

Critics say the moves are shortsighted.

Joan Alker, co-executive director of the Center for Children and Families at Georgetown University, said slashing Medicaid will not stop the sick from seeking care, sending them to emergency rooms and ultimately inflating private medical insurance premiums.

"At the end of the day, for the children, the individuals with disabilities, the seniors in nursing homes, their health care needs are not going to go away just because someone cuts the Medicaid program," Alker said.

Jerry Kemmer, a former Democratic state assemblyman in New York, said Medicaid has long been an issue lawmakers did not want to touch. Now, they simply have no choice.

"It's ballooned to the extent that it's just become a budget-buster," he said.

Six million people have joined the Medicaid rolls since the recession began in late 2007. Enrollment nationally topped 50 million for the first time in June 2010, a number that is projected to keep rising, especially as the nation's unemployment rate remains high.

Billions of dollars from the federal stimulus program helped avoid deep Medicaid cuts through the worst of the recession, but the last of that money dried up this year.

In Florida, Medicaid reimbursement rates were reduced this year by 12 percent for most hospitals, although rural and children's hospitals were cut just 3 percent, and rates for nursing homes were cut 6.5 percent.

But the start of the next legislative session in January already has some people worried about additional cuts.

Debra St. Fleur, 25, of Miami, is covered by Medicaid, along with her 1-year-old son. Many of her neighbors in the city's Little Haiti section are on Medicaid, too, and she worries what would happen if services continue to be eroded.

"It's really scary," she said. "If they can't get their medicine, what's going to happen? They're going to die."

The Obama administration is concerned enough about the widespread Medicaid provider cuts that it has introduced a rule that would make it harder for states to slash the rates. The move is designed to ensure that those eligible for Medicaid are not denied access due to a shortage of health care resources.

Medicaid reimbursement rates already trail those physicians receive for treating Medicare patients and those with private insurance. A study by the nonpartisan Center for Studying Health System Change found that on, average, Medicaid would reimburse a doctor $39 for 45 minutes for a new patient hospital visit, compared to $63 for Medicare.

Physician groups say that has left more and more doctors declining to see Medicaid clients. Some providers are trying to find other ways to make up for the cuts.

In Columbia, S.C., Julie Ann Avin, executive director of the private, nonprofit Mental Illness Recovery Center Inc., has decided not to fill staff vacancies and also cut back on some rehab services because of Medicaid's new authorization process. The center serves about 650 people annually, close to 60 percent of whom are on Medicaid.

"We accept folks regardless," Avin said. "Everything that we do is not based just on a reimbursement."

Molly Collins Offner, director of policy development for the American Hospital Association, said emergency rooms must accept Medicaid clients, as well as those without insurance.

"More and more, you are seeing ER's becoming primary care docs," she said.

She said deep cuts rippling through the Medicaid system will only exacerbate that.

___

Associated Press writers Samantha Henry in Newark, N.J., Meg Kinnard in Columbia, S.C., Shaya Tayefe Mohajer in Los Angeles and Matt Sedensky in Miami contributed to this report.

___

Follow Shannon McCaffrey at www.twitter.com(backslash)smccaffrey13

This story is the latest installment in a joint initiative by The Associated Press and Associated Press Media Editors on the fiscal crisis facing U.S. states and cities, how state and local governments are dealing with severe budget cuts, and how American lives will change because of it.

Consumer Advocates Strongly Oppose 'Medicare Wheelchair Policy' That Will Harm Medicare Beneficiaries


Prepayment Review Faces Mounting Criticism from Aging and Disability Communities


WASHINGTON, Dec. 22, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) has asked the Obama Administration to stop a demonstration project that affects Medicare beneficiaries requiring mobility assistance, saying it "will have a significant, immediate and adverse impact on people with disabilities," reports the American Association for Homecare.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) wants to require "prepayment review" for all power wheelchairs provided to Medicare patients in seven states – California, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, and Texas – starting January 2, 2012. This will affect nearly half of all Medicare beneficiaries across the country who require power mobility.

Under the program, providers of home medical equipment and services will be forced to wait up to 16 months or more before being fully reimbursed after filling power wheelchair prescriptions for Medicare patients. These businesses are still reeling from a 13-month rental reimbursement policy mandated last January, which has caused many providers to leave the business. It has delayed the delivery of medical equipment that physicians have prescribed for seniors and people living with disabilities, especially in rural areas.

In a December 15th letter to CMS, Mark Perriello, AAPD's president and CEO, wrote that the project "jeopardizes care for almost every Medicare beneficiary" in the affected states.

"We respectfully request you take immediate action to stop this demonstration," Perriello wrote to Marilyn Tavenner, acting CMS administrator, "work with Congress and power mobility stakeholders, including consumers, to identify a viable alternative that will allow Medicare beneficiaries to receive the physician prescribed medical equipment they require while fulfilling CMS' mandate to reduce fraud, waste, and abuse within the power mobility device benefit."

AAPD joins the United Spinal Association and a growing list of consumer advocates that are strongly opposing the three-year, prepayment review demonstration project. In addition, last week a bipartisan group of 22 Members of Congress also wrote a letter asking CMS to halt the project.

In his letter, Perriello noted that AAPD has considerable clout in fighting on behalf of people living with disabilities, saying it is the nation's largest nonprofit cross-disability member organization and that it works with other disability organizations for the full implementation and enforcement of disability nondiscrimination laws, and other statues that impact people living with disabilities and their families.

Furthermore, Perriello cited the important role that mobility assistance plays in the lives of people with limited mobility, saying, "People with physical disabilities or chronic, debilitating medical conditions often need a power wheelchair to maintain their independence and participate in the life of the nation."

Under the CMS project, Perriello said, "Medicare beneficiaries bear the burden of uncertainty or denied their mobility independence as a result of it as a prepayment review occurs AFTER the physician-prescribed equipment is provided. In other words, the physician does an evaluation of their patient, writes a prescription for the medical care s/he deems appropriate, such as the provision of a power wheelchair, and the DME [durable medical equipment] supplier provides it."

Once the claim is submitted, Perriello said, "it is our understanding that CMS will then send a letter to the DME supplier asking for all of the documentation that supports the need for the device. They will then review the information and determine if payment should be made. Meanwhile beneficiaries, often living on limited fixed incomes, are placed in a position of paying their deductible and 20 percent copayment only to be at risk for having the device repossessed if the claim is denied. In addition, if the claim is denied for any reason the DME supplier will then have to pick up the chair from the beneficiary, if they are even able to provide it at all under these circumstances, and start the process over."

Perriello declared that "this does not constitute a demonstration; it effectively eliminates a Medicare benefit for individuals who reside in one of the States included in this program."

Across the country, advocates for aging and disability communities are voicing their concerns about the CMS program, and asking their Senators and Representatives in Congress to stop the project.

In California, Karen Miner, co-founder of two advocacy organizations, Research for Cure and Californians for Cures, said, "We are upset about the impact of this change on some of the most vulnerable people in our society. If providers go out of business or no longer serve Medicare patients, seniors and people with limited mobility must wait longer for the medical equipment prescribed by their physicians. This will cause pain and suffering. For someone with limited mobility, a power wheelchair can mean the difference between living independently in your home or confined to a care facility or nursing home."

In Michigan, Mike Zelley, president of The Disability Network, said, "This is a direct attack on some of the most vulnerable people in our society. Senior citizens and people living with disabilities need power wheelchairs to live independently in their homes and to delay confinement in expensive care facilities and nursing homes. Congress cannot allow CMS to restrict access to medical equipment that has been prescribed by physicians so that these Medicare beneficiaries can improve their mobility and enjoy a better life."

In New York, Angela Bray, an advocate for the disabled community and vice chair of the Human Rights Commission in Niagara Falls, said, "We urge Sen. Chuck Schumer to step in and help stop this project. Sen. Schumer has a long history of caring about vulnerable New Yorkers. It is unfair for the federal government to try and save money by making it more difficult for seniors and people living with disabilities to obtain power wheelchairs that can allow them to live independently in their homes, and delay confinement in expensive care facilities and nursing homes. This project must be stopped so that Medicare beneficiaries in New York can improve their mobility and their quality of life."

In addition, United Spinal Association wrote to Senators Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), chairman and ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, respectively, asking Congress to take immediate action to halt the project. The organization urged CMS to work with Congress and power mobility stakeholders to identify alternative approaches for reducing overpayments and abuse without significant disruptions to the disability and aging communities.

"Advocates across the country recognize that this is bad public policy that will harm some of the most vulnerable people in our society," said Tyler J. Wilson, president and CEO of the American Association for Homecare. "We hope that Congress and the Administration are hearing their voices. CMS moved unilaterally with no notice to Congress, Medicare beneficiaries, or the power mobility community. This policy must be stopped before our seniors and people living with disabilities are harmed by it."

The American Association for Homecare represents providers of durable medical equipment and services who meet the healthcare needs of millions of Americans who require oxygen equipment and therapy, wheelchairs and mobility assistive technologies, medical supplies, inhalation drug therapy, and other medical equipment and services in their homes. Members provide homecare in all 50 states.

# http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/american-association-of-people-with-disabilities-and-consumer-advocates-strongly-oppose-medicare-wheelchair-policy-that-will-harm-medicare-beneficiaries-136091108.html

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Letter to Medicare/Medicaid from 22 Members of Congress also wrote a letter asking CMS to halt the project. - Dec 15, 2011 -
http://www.aahomecare.org/associations/3208/files/HousePMDdemoLetter121511.pdf

Letter from American Association for Homecare - Dec 8 2011 :
http://www.aahomecare.org/associations/3208/files/CallonCongresToStopMedicarePrepaymentReviewProject.pdf

United Spinal Opposes CMS Demonstration Project for Pre-Approval of Power Mobility Devices
http://www.unitedspinal.org/2011/12/15/united-spinal-opposes-cms-demonstration-project-for-pre-approval-of-power-mobility-devices/

Monday, December 26, 2011

Illinois Parking Program for Persons with Disabilities Abuse Complaint Form 2011

From Illinois Secretary of State's office, you are able to file the following information on-line at: https://www.ilsos.gov/ContactFormsWeb/disabilitiescomplaintform.html
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Please complete this form to report alleged misuse or abuse of the Parking Program for Persons with Disabilities. The Secretary of State's office requires the complaint to be based on facts rather than suspicions. Remember that not all disabilities are apparent nor does every individual with a disability use a mobility device such as a cane, walker or wheelchair. Never confront any person you think may be abusing the program. If the situation requires immediate attention, please call your local police department.

Please check the applicable box(s):

Misuse/Abuse of:
Accessible Parking Spaces
Disability License Plates
Parking Placard

Parking Placard Number:
(*Required if Parking Placard box checked above)

Vehicle Illinois License Plates Number:
(*Required if Accessible Parking Spaces box checked above)

Date, Time, Location of the misuse/abuse: (address, city/town)


Briefly describe why you believe the person(s) is misusing/abusing
the Parking Program for Persons with Disabilities:


I hereby state that the information provide herein is true and correct to the best of my knowledge and belief. I submit this complaint as part of my request that the Illinois Secretary of State conduct an investigation based on these facts. I understand that I may be called upon to testify in criminal proceedings as a complaining witness. I also understand that any false statements may be subject to prosecution under perjury, false report or civil statutes. Under penalty of perjury the undersigned swears that the facts contained on this document are within their personal knowledge and are true and correct.

Your Contact Information

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Boy Receives 'Specially Modified Bike' For Christmas, with Thanks To Giving Youngsters | Dec 25, 2011

CHICAGO (CBS2) — Out in the western suburbs, Christmas came a day early for one little boy with special needs.

The smile on Owen Payton’s face said it all Saturday. The 5-year-old could hardly believe he was riding his very own bike for the first time.

The sight had his parents fighting back tears.

“It’s almost indescribable, to be honest,” Christopher Payton, Owen’s father, tells CBS 2’s Mai Martinez.



His son has a heart condition and cerebral palsy, which make it almost impossible for Owen to ride a regular bike — something he’s always wanted to do.

But specially modified bicycles can cost about $3,000 — beyond the family’s means.

The bike Owen received was a gift from two complete strangers: 12-year-old Riley Christensen and 9-year-old Tommy Antonson. They just want to help kids with special needs get bikes.

Riley came up with the idea three years ago and teamed up with Project Mobility out of St. Charles. Tommy joined the cause after his sister, Rosie, was given an adaptive bike of her own in 2009.

“It’s just wonderful. It’s wonderful giving kids who don’t have a bike or can’t ride a bike freedom,” Tommy says.

Owen particularly likes the yellow color of his new bike.

In the three years Riley and her supporters have been doing these Christmas Eve surprises, they have given away nine adaptive bikes worth between $2,500 and $3,000 each.

They’re not done. Another child will be surprised on Monday, and they’re already collecting donations for next year’s gifts.

http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2011/12/24/boy-gets-special-bike-for-christmas-thanks-to-giving-youngsters/

Saturday, December 24, 2011

State service cuts results in those with Mental Illness flooding ER

As reported by Reuters | By Julie Steenhuysen and Jilian Mincer |  Dec 24, 2011

CHICAGO/NEW YORK (Reuters) On a recent shift at a Chicago emergency department, Dr. William Sullivan treated a newly homeless patient who was threatening to kill himself.

"He had been homeless for about two weeks. He hadn't showered or eaten a lot. He asked if we had a meal tray," said Sullivan, a physician at the University of Illinois Medical Center at Chicago and a past president of the Illinois College of Emergency Physicians.

Sullivan said the man kept repeating that he wanted to kill himself. "It seemed almost as if he was interested in being admitted."

Across the country, doctors like Sullivan are facing a spike in psychiatric emergencies - attempted suicide, severe depression, psychosis - as states slash mental health services and the country's worst economic crisis since the Great Depression takes its toll.

This trend is taxing emergency rooms already overburdened by uninsured patients who wait until ailments become acute before seeking treatment.

"These are people without a previous psychiatric history who are coming in and telling us they've lost their jobs, they've lost sometimes their homes, they can't provide for their families, and they are becoming severely depressed," said Dr. Felicia Smith, director of the acute psychiatric service at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

Increased demand in mental health services

State mental health budget cuts

Visits to the hospital's psychiatric emergency department have climbed 20 percent in the past three years.

"We've seen actually more very serious suicide attempts in that population than we had in the past as well," she said.

Compounding the problem are patients with chronic mental illness who have been hurt by a squeeze on mental health services and find themselves with nowhere to go.

On top of that, doctors are seeing some cases where the patient's most critical need is a warm bed.

"The more I see these patients, the more I realize that if it's sleeting and raining outside, the emergency room is the only place they have," said Dr. R. Corey Waller, director of the Spectrum Health Medical Group Center for Integrative Medicine in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Government agencies such as the National Institutes of Mental Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration could not provide fresh data on use of psychiatric services in recent years.

But doctors from more than a dozen hospitals nationwide, mental health advocacy groups and state-funded agencies told Reuters they are all seeing a marked increase in psychiatric emergencies.

A WORSENING PROBLEM

The National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD), an organization of state mental health directors, estimates that in the last three years states have cut $3.4 billion in mental health services, while an additional 400,000 people sought help at public mental health facilities.

In that same time frame, demand for community-based services climbed 56 percent, and demand for emergency room, state hospital and emergency psychiatric care climbed 18 percent, the organization said.

"This wasn't one round of cuts," says Ted Lutterman, director of research analysis at NASMHPD Research Institute. "It was three or four for many states, and multiple cuts during the year."

If the economy doesn't improve, next year could be worse because many community mental health agencies are cutting programs and using up reserve funds, says Linda Rosenberg, president of the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare.

"It's been horrible," she said. "Those that need it the most - the unemployed, those with tremendous family stress - have no insurance."

In the emergency room, this increased demand has meant doctors and social workers are spending hours and sometimes days trying to arrange care for psychiatric patients languishing in the emergency department, taking up beds that could be used for traditional types of trauma.

More than 70 percent of emergency department administrators said they have kept patients waiting in the emergency department for 24 hours, according to a 2010 survey of 600 hospital emergency department administrators by the Schumacher Group, which manages emergency departments across the country.

Ten percent said they had "boarded" patients for a week or more.

And many hospitals are not prepared for the increased caseload of psychiatric patients, says Randall Hagar, director of government affairs for the California Psychiatric Association.

California cut $587 million in state-funded mental health services in the past two years, the most of any state, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, a patient advocacy group.

"They don't have secure holding rooms. They don't have quiet spaces. They don't have a lot of things you need to help calm down a person in an acute psychiatric crisis," Hagar said.

"Often you have a patient strapped to a gurney in a hallway outside of the emergency department where social workers are desperately trying to find an inpatient bed," he said.

FROM CITIES TO SMALL TOWNS

In North Carolina, the state has cut its inpatient psychiatric capacity by half since 2005, says Dr. Bret Nicks, an emergency physician at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem and a spokesman for the American College of Emergency Physicians.

Nicks points to a report from the Institute of Medicine released in 2006 that found U.S. emergency departments were already overtaxed and overcrowded.

"Now you are adding in patients who are unsafe to leave but yet have nowhere to go," he said. "I consider patients with acute psychiatric needs as really the forgotten patient population in the U.S. right now."

Dr. Stephen Anderson is an emergency department doctor at Auburn Regional Medical Center, a mid-size suburban hospital outside of Seattle.

"When the economy is hurt they are some of the first to drop off the healthcare rolls," he said of local residents in the largely blue-collar community.

Anderson, who heads the Washington Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians, said the state has lost a third of its inpatient psychiatric beds in the past decade.

Lately he is seeing a marked escalation in patients with psychiatric problems turning up in the emergency department. In early December, a third of its beds were occupied with people in a psychiatric crisis who were not safe to return to the community.

The problem extends out to small towns.

Sullivan splits his time between the big emergency department at the University of Illinois Medical Center at Chicago and St. Margaret's Hospital, a tiny facility in Spring Valley, Illinois, about 100 miles southwest of the city.

On a recent shift, a young woman with schizophrenia arrived at the hospital. She had just lost her job and apartment and was living with relatives. She could not afford the medications that were keeping her illness in check.

The woman asked Sullivan to switch her prescriptions to drugs that could be found on the $4 discount list at Wal-Mart and other discount stores.

"I didn't feel comfortable doing that," Sullivan said, noting that emergency physicians are being asked to deliver specialized care that should be handled by a psychiatrist.

He found a healthcare facility about 25 miles away with a psychiatrist who could help, but even that presented a problem for the woman, who had no way of getting to the appointment.

"It's almost akin to having a cardiac patient come in and say, 'I need someone to adjust my defibrillator.' In the emergency department, we can do a lot, but there are some things we have to leave with the specialists," he said.

(Editing by Michele Gershberg and Eric Beech)

Friday, December 23, 2011

Travelers with Disabilities and Medical Needs - TSA Announces Launch of TSA Cares Toll Free Helpline | Dec 22, 2011

Press Release

December 22, 2011

Contact:
TSA Public Affairs
(571) 227-2829

WASHINGTON – The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced the launch of TSA Cares today, a new helpline number designed to assist travelers with disabilities and medical conditions, prior to getting to the airport. Travelers may call TSA Cares toll free at 1-855-787-2227 prior to traveling with questions about screening policies, procedures and what to expect at the security checkpoint.

“TSA Cares provides passengers with disabilities and medical needs another resource to use before they fly, so they know what to expect when going through the screening process,” said TSA Administrator John Pistole. “This additional level of personal communication helps ensure that even those who do not travel often are aware of our screening policies before they arrive at the airport.”

Since its inception, TSA has provided information to all travelers through its TSA Contact Center and Customer Service Managers in airports nationwide. TSA Cares will serve as an additional, dedicated resource for passengers with disabilities, medical conditions or other circumstances or their loved ones who want to prepare for the screening process prior to flying.

When a passenger with a disability or medical condition calls TSA Cares, a representative will provide assistance, either with information about screening that is relevant to the passenger’s specific disability or medical condition, or the passenger may be referred to disability experts at TSA. TSA recommends that passengers call approximately 72 hours ahead of travel so that TSA Cares has the opportunity to coordinate checkpoint support with a TSA Customer Service Manager located at the airport when necessary.

Every person and item must be screened before entering the secure area of an airport and the manner in which the screening is conducted will depend on the passenger’s abilities and any specific equipment brought to the security checkpoint.

TSA strives to provide the highest level of security while ensuring that all passengers are treated with dignity and respect. The agency works regularly with a broad coalition of disability and medical condition advocacy groups to help understand their needs and adapt screening procedures accordingly. TSA holds quarterly meetings with this coalition to inform them about current training and screening procedures used in airports. TSA recently hosted a teleconference with members of these groups to announce the long-standing plans to implement TSA Cares for travelers and inform them of the upcoming launch.

All travelers may ask to speak to a TSA supervisor if questions about screening procedures arise while at the security checkpoint.

The hours of operation for the TSA Cares helpline are Monday through Friday 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. EST, excluding federal holidays. After hours, travelers can find information about traveling with disabilities and medical needs on TSA’s website. To learn more click here.

All travelers can contact TSA using Talk To TSA, a web-based tool that allows passengers to reach out to an airport Customer Service Manager directly, and the TSA Contact Center, 1-866-289-9673 and TSA-ContactCenter@dhs.gov, where travelers can ask questions, provide suggestions and file complaints.

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Agreement to Add Accessible Taxicabs in NYC | Dec 21, 2011

Press Releases
December 21, 2011 | AAPD Press Team

AAPD Applauds Agreement to Add Accessible Taxicabs in NYC


WASHINGTON, DC – December 21, 2011 – The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), the nation’s largest cross-disability membership organization, praised an agreement that will add thousands of accessible taxicabs in New York City. Under the agreement, the city will issue new taxi medallions as well as permits that will allow livery cabs to pick up customers hailing them from the street.

All 2,000 new taxi medallions that the city may issue under the agreement must be for accessible taxis. The agreement also requires that at least 20% of the 6,000 street hail permits issued in the first year be for accessible cars. A portion of the sales of new taxi medallions will go toward subsidizing accessible livery vehicles.

“Taxis are a part of New York City life that must be accessible to everyone,” said AAPD President and CEO Mark Perriello. “The agreement is not only a win for New Yorkers and visitors with disabilities, but for the business people who benefit when every person is able to get out and participate in all New York has to offer in terms of commerce and entertainment. Transportation access means more people participating—which is good for everyone,” he added.

This agreement came after months of negotiating between lawmakers, disability rights advocates, and taxi and livery groups. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo had threatened to veto any livery bill that did not include accessible cabs.

AAPD board member Jim Weisman, General Counsel of United Spinal Association and a representative of the Taxis for All Campaign, participated in a press conference announcing the agreement. “Tens of thousands of seniors and veterans and other New Yorkers with disabilities applaud the Senate and the Assembly and the governor for their extraordinary accomplishment," said Weisman.

“We applaud Governor Cuomo and the dedicated groups who made this agreement happen,” said Perriello. “We are proud that our long-time friend Jim Weisman played a key role in bringing about this victory for New York City,” he added.

# # #
The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), the country's largest cross-disability membership association, organizes the disability community to be a powerful force for change – politically, economically, and socially. AAPD was founded in 1995 to help unite the diverse community of people with disabilities, including their family, friends and supporters, and to be a national voice for change in implementing the goals of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). To learn more, visit the AAPD Web site: www.aapd.com.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

PACE PARATRANSIT CUSTOMERS CALL CENTER HOURS TO CHANGE IN CHICAGO, AND FOR SOME COUNTIES ON JAN 01, 2012

Press Releases

CALL CENTER HOURS FOR SOME PACE PARATRANSIT CUSTOMERS TO CHANGE

December 20, 20114:00:00 PM
Media Release Office: (847) 228-4295
Contact: Patrick Wilmot (847) 228-4295

New hours for trip reservations effective January 1, 2012

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, IL Pace Suburban Bus reminds customers that the hours in which to place trip reservations for ADA Paratransit service for registered people with disabilities will change for most customers beginning January 1, 2012. The new hours for service within Chicago will be 6 am 6 pm every day of the week. Suburban riders can book trips between 6 am and 6 pm Monday-Friday, and between 8 am and 5 pm on Saturday and Sunday. The change means that Chicago call centers will close one hour earlier in the evening, and standardizes the hours for suburban call centers, which currently vary somewhat by region.

Seeking to reduce costs and improve manual oversight of trip dispatching, the RTA required that Pace reduce telephone reservation hours to regular business hours. During public hearings in October, many paratransit customers commented that the change would be burdensome, especially for those that work or attend school during business hours. Pace relayed the feedback to RTA, and the compromise was made to reduce call center hours by only one in the evening to mitigate the impact on customers, yet allow additional time to review the next days travel manifests to ensure peak routing efficiency.

"We're pleased that a solution was reached that works for our customers, but also achieves the goal of increasing travel planning oversight, which will improve efficiency and customer satisfaction," said Richard Kwasneski, Chairman of the Pace Board of Directors.

There are no changes to fares or the phone numbers that passengers call to reserve trips. Reservation hours will not change for suburban non-ADA Dial-a-Ride service, nor the Ride DuPage and Ride in Kane programs.

# http://www.pacebus.com/sub/news_events/press_release_detail.asp?ReleaseID=591

# For Pace Suburban Bus Services (and paratransit), visit: http://www.pacebus.com/default.asp
XXX
To clarify the reservation hours, from the Pace website:

ADA Paratransit Reservation Hours Changing January 1, 2011

Effective January 1, 2012, reservation (call-in) hours for Chicago and Suburban ADA Paratransit service will change. Beginning on that date, the new hours will be:

In Chicago:
6:00am to 6:00pm, every day

In the suburbs:
6:00am to 6:00pm, Monday-Friday
8:00am to 5:00pm, Saturday-Sunday

Please note that phone numbers will not change. There will be no changes to the reservation hours for suburban non-ADA Dial-a-Ride programs, Ride DuPage or Ride in Kane. If you have any questions, please contact Pace Customer :
http://www.pacebus.com/default.asp