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

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Illinois State Agency reviews why disabled abuse uninvestigated | June 30, 2012

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS


BELLEVILLE, Ill. — The Illinois Department of Human Services has announced it is "re-evaluating the role" of its Office of the Inspector General following a report that the agency failed to investigate the deaths of disabled residents who allegedly were victims of neglect and abuse.

A Belleville News-Democrat investigation (http://bit.ly/MW0cdk) revealed that since 2003, the inspector general did not investigate 53 cases called into the agency's hotline that told of disabled adults who were allegedly abused or neglected and later died.

The Office of the Inspector General cites an interpretation of the Adults with Disabilities Intervention Act, passed in 2000, which it says does not make it responsible for investigating the circumstances surrounding those deaths because "the dead are ineligible for services." Statewide, the office lists 53 employees and operates on a $5 million annual budget.

In a statement Friday, department spokeswoman Januari Smith Trader said the department is reviewing the inspector general office's role under current law and in coordination with law enforcement and other investigatory agencies.

"These are serious issues of concern," Smith Trader said. "The department is reviewing inspector general's office's role under current law and in coordination with law enforcement and other investigatory agencies."

Former state Rep. Lee Daniels, a Republican from Elmhurst who helped guide the passage of the state law that greatly expanded the inspector general's protection role to include disabled people who live at home, said Friday that the agency's actions were violations of state law.

Smith Trader declined to say whether the OIG's review of its operations would include an inquiry into whether state law was broken.

The News-Democrat found that in five of the 53 death cases, the inspector general's office notified local police, but none of these cases resulted in a felony criminal conviction. It isn't clear whether police were notified in the remaining 48 cases.

The newspaper also found the agency determined a large number of calls to its abuse hotline weren't accepted by hotline operators for investigation. A total of 534 calls, or 41 percent of the 1,289 calls received, were listed as non-reportable in 2011.

They were cases like Bonnie Matyasik, 51, who was suffering from end-stage cirrhosis and arrived at an emergency room Jan. 26, 2009, near Chicago with dried feces in her hair and under her fingernails. Matyasik was bruised and scraped along one entire side of her body from being dragged across a concrete floor by her mentally impaired caregiver. She died two days later.

The agency also has a low rate of substantiating allegations of abuse and neglect; it found a reason to believe abuse and neglect occurred in 124 cases of the 755 referred for investigation. Of those, 22 adults with disabilities statewide were removed on an emergency basis from an abusive or neglectful caregiver.

"It is very disturbing to say the least," said Sen. William Haine, D-Alton. "I think the OIG owes each and every member of the General Assembly a full explanation of these facts. ... I think this calls for some supplemental legislation that should involve other stakeholders like state's attorneys and coroners."
The News-Democrat reports the directive regarding referrals to local law enforcement was changed June 15, shortly after inquiries were made about which cases were referred to police. Cases now must be referred to police when there is a serious injury or death associated with an allegation of abuse or neglect, or whenever abuse or neglect complaints "rise to the level of criminal conduct."

Friday, June 29, 2012

Illinois ADA issues : Livingston County Law and Justice Center compliance -Meeting in July 2012

Pontiac, Ill. — Many questions have been raised recently about American’s with Disabilities Act compliance in regards to the Livingston County Law and Justice Center, including who will be taking responsibility for the issues the Attorney General’s office found earlier this year.

A special meeting has been planned for 6 p.m. Tuesday, July 10, at the Law and Justice Center, which will give the contractors, architects, Livingston County Board members and the general public the chance to go through each of the issues still found to be non-compliant according to the Attorney General’s representatives. At that point, potential and proposed solutions from the architects will be described to attendees, as some of the issues the AG has are still open for discussion.

A June 5 meeting has also been a topic of discussion among people in Livingston County. Attending that meeting were County Board Chairman Bill Fairfield, Law and Justice Center Committee Chairman Bill Flott, board member Eldon Ruff, Administrative Resource Specialist Alina Hartley, Livingston County State’s Attorney Tom Brown, First Assistant State’s Attorney Randy Yedinak, Trial Court Administrator Will Scanlon, Livingston County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Marvin Rutledge, Livingston County Jail Superintendent William Cox, Law and Justice Center architecture firm PSA Dewberry representatives Daniel Atilano and Kevin Palmby and general contractor firm FQC representatives Jack Hayes and John Eallonardo. Also invited, but unable to attend were Sheriff Marty Meredith and judges Jennifer Bauknecht, Mark Fellheimer and Robert Travers.

This meeting was described in a memo sent from the county board office to board members and the state’s attorney’s office. It was stated that this meeting was not in conflict of the Illinois Open Meeting Act, as there was not a majority of a quorum of any board or committee present. It also specified that, during that meeting, that at no point had there been an e-mail sent to PSA granting a waiver of liability. According to the memo, no other letters, e-mails or waivers of any kind that have been issued to either PSA or FQC, besides the following change made in February of 2010.
During that June 5 meeting, after concerns were expressed over the AG’s interpretation of some of the ADA laws, it was decided that outside consultation was needed and it was agreed that PSA would contact Doug Gamble, accessibility specialist with the Capital Development Board, to review the specific items.

During the meeting, Brown asked whether the architect had been instructed by the county prior to or during construction to revise any portion of the building related to the alleged violations. It was then noted that there was direction given prior to construction to change the design of a courtroom as it relates to the witness stand and the elevations on the second floor. This change was reviewed by the Law and Justice Center Committee during a Feb. 2, 2010, meeting and forwarded to the full board for approval, which was approved Feb. 11, 2010. A letter was then sent to PSA authorizing them to make changes to the elevations within the courtroom and the second floor, as well as the removal of the ramp to the witness stand.

During the Feb. 2 and Feb. 11, 2010, meetings, Flott reported the ramp to the witness stand and jury box were perceived to be an issue by the judges as they encroached on the front of the jury box where attorneys would generally address the jury and sometimes the witness. It was determined that the best solution would be to remove the ramp, but in doing so, it created other issues with the second floor. He stated that to accommodate the raised floor levels in the back of the courtroom for the witness stand and jury box, the back of the building was raised approximately six inches. The removal of the ramp would remove that elevation change on the second floor. He said that since architects had already completed the drawing for the second floor there will need to be an addendum to the Professional Service Agreement with PSA with a not to exceed cost of $10,000 to make the change.

The correspondence between Fairfield and PSA, dated Jan. 26, 2010, reiterates those points, along with the fact that the second row of the jury box will be raised seven inches with the first row of the jury box at floor level. The witness stand and clerk’s desk will be raised seven inches and the judge’s bench will be raised 21 inches. It also acknowledged the additional design costs incurred in relation to the changes.

When approached about the June 5 meeting and the ADA issues the Law and Justice Center has been having since its opening, Flott had a simple response.

“There was never an attempt to skirt ADA compliance. Even back in 2010, we thought what we were doing was going to be compliant because we though reasonable accommodations was the law of the land. We’re still not convinced in some areas that that’s not true,” Flott said.
“Regarding ADA compliance, we were led to believe that reasonable accommodations would apply. We were not attempting to be non-compliant with ADA regulations. We made every effort to be in compliance and were unaware of compliance issues until the AG issued its complaint,” Fairfield added.

Information about proposed responses to the ADA violations will be discussed at the July 10 meeting. Anyone who attends will have a chance to hear those and also hear the architect’s position as to why they believe the building is in compliance.

# Article By Cynthia Grau | Pontiac Daily Leader | Posted Jun 28, 2012
http://www.pontiacdailyleader.com/news/x1762346355/July-meeting-to-deal-with-ADA-issues
----
Also visit: Law and Justice Center / Courthouse Renovation website:
http://livingstoncountyil.gov/?page_id=241

Thursday, June 28, 2012

US Supreme Court Upholds Health Care Law | June 28, 2012

Will update this post as info becomes available...

Article by Scott Hensley | NPR | June 28 9:59 cst

In one of the most widely anticipated decisions in recent history, the U.S. Supreme Court today ruled that the sweeping federal law overhauling the nation's health care system is constitutional.

Chief Justice John Roberts said the requirement that individuals have health coverage or pay a penalty — known as the individual mandate — is within Congress' power to impose taxes. On the issue of Medicaid expansion, a majority of the court said Congress can expand Medicaid, but it can't strip states of all their Medicaid funds if they fail to participate in that expansion.

Roberts joined the four liberal justices to form a majority. The decision came after three days of historic arguments in late March that hinged on whether the government can require people to purchase health insurance, if they're not otherwise covered. (You can read the opinions here.)

"The president's health care law is hurting our economy by driving up health costs and making it harder for small businesses to hire," House Speaker John Boehner said in a statement. "Today's ruling underscores the urgency of repealing this harmful law in its entirety."

The individual mandate drew the ire of Republicans and tested the legal flexibility of the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, which supporters of the law had argued was on their side.

But that didn't turn out to be the crucial test after all. Instead, it came down to a finding that the penalty for not buying insurance is a tax, something Congress can levy under the Constitution.

The lawyers at SCOTUSblog summarized the ruling this way:

The Affordable Care Act, including its individual mandate that virtually all Americans buy health insurance, is constitutional. There were not five votes to uphold it on the ground that Congress could use its power to regulate commerce between the states to require everyone to buy health insurance. However, five Justices agreed that the penalty that someone must pay if he refuses to buy insurance is a kind of tax that Congress can impose using its taxing power. That is all that matters. Because the mandate survives, the Court did not need to decide what other parts of the statute were constitutional, except for a provision that required states to comply with new eligibility requirements for Medicaid or risk losing their funding. On that question, the Court held that the provision is constitutional as long as states would only lose new funds if they didn't comply with the new requirements, rather than all of their funding.
The mandate, set to take effect in 2014, was seen by advocates of the law as a crucial tool in making possible a broad expansion of health coverage. It would help spread the costs across more people and would directly ensure that millions of uninsured people get insurance.

But the mandate got compared unfavorably to the government ordering people to buy broccoli. Good for their health, probably. But mandatory? Justice Antonin Scalia pressed Solicitor General Donald Verrilli on the administration's argument that everyone is in the health care market, like it or not.

"Scalia: Could you define the market — everybody has to buy food sooner or later, so you define the market as food, therefore, everybody is in the market; therefore, you can make people buy broccoli.

Verrilli: That's quite different. The food market, while it shares that trait that everybody's in it, it is not a market in which your participation is often unpredictable and often involuntary."
Opponents saw the requirement as an unbridled intrusion on personal liberty. A brief filed by Paul Clement, the lawyer who argued the challenge to the law brought by 26 states, said the mandate was an overreach. He crystallized the argument this way in a legal brief:

"The individual mandate rests on a claim of federal power that is both unprecedented and unbounded: the power to compel individuals to engage in commerce in order more effectively to regulate commerce. This asserted power does not exist"
The Obama administration and supporters of the law had argued, essentially, that everyone is already taking part in the market for health services. It's pretty much inevitable that you'll use health care services at various points in your life. It's only a question of when and how big a bill you'll ring up.

Ultimately, a Supreme Court majority agreed with opponents who argued that the Commerce Clause wasn't broad enough to include the insurance mandate. But that didn't turn out to be necessary for the law to survive.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2012/06/18/155269171/supreme-court-upholds-care-health-law-rules-mandate-is-a-tax?ft=1&f=1003

Illinois people with disabilities / Seniors low income ride free program to end enrollment

The cancellation of a state program that determines eligibility for low-income seniors and disabled individuals to travel free on public transit means no more new riders, Regional Transportation Authority officials said Wednesday.

State leaders nixed funding for Circuit Breaker, an Illinois Department on Aging grant program for poor seniors and people with disabilities that subsidizes medication and property taxes. But since you have to be on Circuit Breaker to qualify for free rides, that spells trouble for people who can’t afford transit and aren’t enrolled in the system. Circuit Breaker ends July 1.

“We’re deeply disappointed we’re no longer able to add low-income seniors or disabled riders and we’re working doggedly with the governor and General Assembly” to fix the problem, RTA Executive Director Joe Costello said at a board meeting.

Currently, there are 84,000 seniors and 58,000 people with disabilities who are low-income with ride-free passes good for two years. What happens at the end of that time in terms of recertifying qualifying individuals is unclear.

“Does that mean at the end of two years the program will be gone with no way to add anyone?” asked RTA Director Carole Brown of Chicago, a former CTA president.

“We expect to figure out a way to make this work (by then),” Costello said.

The state ended free rides for all seniors in September and converted the program to just include the very poor. At that time, thousands of people enrolled in the new system. But riders are still joining — about 1,353 seniors between January and May and 2,709 individuals with disabilities in the same time frame.

In the meantime, seniors and disabled individuals can ride at half-price in accordance with an established program that isn’t affected by the state’s budget woes.

“There are still subsidized benefits out there,” RTA Chairman John S. Gates Jr. said.

# article By Marni Pyke | Daily Herald | 6/27/2012
http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20120627/news/706279690/

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Justice Department today announced its largest-ever disability-based housing discrimination settlement | June 25, 2012

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

Press Release
Monday, June 25, 2012

Justice Department Obtains Landmark $10.5 Million Settlement to Resolve Disability-Based Housing Discrimination Lawsuit

WASHINGTON – The Justice Department today announced its largest-ever disability-based housing discrimination settlement fund to resolve allegations that JPI Construction L.P. and six other JPI entities (collectively “JPI”) based in Irving, Texas, discriminated on the basis of disability in the design and construction of multifamily housing complexes throughout the United States.

Under the settlement, which was approved today by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, JPI will pay $10,250,000 into an accessibility fund to provide retrofits at properties built by JPI and to increase the stock of accessible housing in the communities where these properties are located. The settlement also requires JPI to pay a $250,000 civil penalty. This is the largest civil penalty the Justice Department has obtained in any Fair Housing Act case.

“Today’s historic settlement demonstrates the Justice Department’s commitment to protecting the fair housing rights of persons with disabilities,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “Builders of multifamily housing must consider accessibility at the outset, or they risk significantly greater expense to retrofit properties. As a result of this settlement, multifamily housing complexes will be retrofitted to comply with the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, and persons with physical disabilities will be afforded an equal opportunity to live in and visit these properties.”

“Equal access to housing for persons with disabilities is an important right protected by federal law,” said U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Sarah R. Saldaña. “This settlement will help eliminate barriers and send a clear message that disability discrimination will not be tolerated. Disabled residents should know that this district remains committed to protecting their fair housing rights.”

The lawsuit was filed in March 2009, after the Justice Department conducted an investigation and found accessibility barriers at various JPI properties. Since 1991, JPI and its affiliates built 210 multifamily properties in 26 states and the District of Columbia; trial involving 32 of JPI’s properties was scheduled to begin July 9, 2012.

In addition to the $10.5 million payment, the consent order prohibits JPI from discriminating on the basis of disability in the future and from interfering with or preventing the retrofitting that will take place at the JPI properties. Although JPI is no longer in the multifamily development and construction business, if JPI reenters the business, it is required to design and construct covered multifamily dwellings to fully comply with the requirements of the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The JPI entities that are responsible for paying the settlement amount are: JPI Construction L.P.; Multifamily Construction L.L.C.; JPI Apartment Development L.P., dba JPI Campus Quarters; Lifestyle Apartment Development Service L.L.C.; Jefferson Bend L.P., dba Jefferson at Mission Gate Apartments; Jefferson Lake Creek L.P., dba Jefferson Center Apartments; and Apartment Community Realty L.L.C.

The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability and familial status. Individuals who believe that they may have been victims of housing discrimination should call the Housing Discrimination Tip Line (1-800-896-7743) or email the Justice Department at fairhousing@usdoj.gov. Such persons may also contact the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development at 1-800-669-9777.

Fair housing enforcement is a priority of the Civil Rights Division. More information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is available at www.justice.gov/crt.

12-802Civil Rights Division
http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2012/June/12-crt-802.html

Social Security and Kaiser Permanente Begin Partnership to Speed Up Disability Decisions | June 2012

Press Release

Monday, June 25, 2012
press.office@ssa.gov

Social Security and Kaiser Permanente Begin Partnership to Speed Up Disability Decisions

Unprecedented Agreement Will Cut Cost, Save Time and Improve Service


The Social Security Administration announced today that Kaiser Permanente, one of the nation’s largest healthcare providers, will electronically transmit complete medical records for its patients to the agency with the appropriate consent. Social Security requests about 70,000 patient files from Kaiser Permanente each year so this seamless new system will save time and money for both partners as well as allow Social Security to make faster and more accurate decisions.

Over the last few years, Social Security had entered into similar agreements with several smaller providers to exchange medical records electronically over the Nationwide Health Information Network. Today’s agreement marks the agency’s first move into using health information technology on a large-scale basis.

“I am confident that people will look back at today’s announcement as the most significant improvement in our disability determination process since the program began in 1956. In today’s world it makes no sense for us to chase down paper records on an individual basis,” said Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security. “We are thrilled that Kaiser Permanente is now one of our key agents for change.”

“Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to supporting safe and secure health information exchange for members and our work with Social Security will enable our patients to obtain quicker disability decisions on their benefits,” said Lisa Caplan, Kaiser Permanente’s Senior Vice President and Business Information Officer. “We are delighted to be working with such an innovative agency.”

More information on Social Security’s use of health IT is available at www.socialsecurity.gov/hit.

# # #

SSA Press Office 440 Altmeyer Building 6401 Security Blvd. Baltimore, MD 21235
410-965-8904 FAX 410-966-9973

http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pressoffice/pr/ssa-and-kaiser-pr.html

Monday, June 25, 2012

Equip for Equality · Voting Rights Project : People with Disabilities : Info, Resources, Laws...

About the Voting Rights Project

Purpose: eliminate barriers to voting, including barriers to privacy and independence in voting.

Activities of the Voting Rights Project:

Participating in the Illinois Disability Get Out the Vote Project and collaborating with community agencies such as the Illinois League of Women Voters

Serving on the Illinois State Planning Committee to develop a plan to implement Help America Vote Act (HAVA) in Illinois

Working with Voting Authorities to Release Funds for Polling Place Accessibility

Chairing a subcommittee on disability-related voting issues and presenting comments on the proposed state guidelines to the State Board of Elections

Producing and Distributing Voter Rights Information

Running a toll free Voters Help Line to answer questions regarding voting problems experienced by voters with disabilities

Offering Free Seminars for People with Disabilities about Their Voting Rights

Surveying Polling Places throughout Illinois for Accessibility

Training Election Judges on Voting Rights and Disability Awareness

Community Outreach

Helping to Implement Help America Vote Act (HAVA)-State Board of Elections Selection of Accessible Voting Machines

Helping Register People with Disabilities to Vote-Serving as Deputy Registrars for the City of Chicago, Cook County and other counties in Illinois

Distributing Information About Political Candidates

Advocating for full voting place accessibility, including physical and non-visual access

Contact Information:
Voting Rights Project

20 N. Michigan, Suite 300
Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 341-0022 Se Habla Español ASL
(800) 537-2632
(800) 610-2779 (TTY)
(312) 341-0295 (Fax)
contactus@equipforequality.org

Living with Diabetes - Free Everyday Wisdom Kit for families of children with type 1 diabetes | American Diabetes Association


The Everyday Wisdom ™ Kit is a tool designed to help families of children with type 1 diabetes live with diabetes everyday.

When a child is diagnosed with a chronic disease like type 1 diabetes, everyday moments can become more of a challenge.

The Everyday Wisdom Kit helps families plan for everyday moments and events such as birthday parties, playing sports and getting behind the wheel.

The Kit comes in a reusable lunch bag and includes,

•A guide for parents
•A guide for the child with diabetes
•A guide for the teen with diabetes
•A guide for the sibling
•An interactive card game for the whole family
•An informational and inspirational DVD
•Juggling balls
•Emergency Contact Information refrigerator magnet
•Pocket-sized Carb Counting Tool
•Diabetes Dictionary
This interactive toolkit was designed for families of kids with newly diagnosed diabetes ages 8 and over.

Thanks to an educational grant by Lilly, the Everyday Wisdom Kit is available for free.

Order a kit online or call (800) DIABETES (342-2383).

http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/parents-and-kids/everyday-wisdom-kit.html?utm_source=RightHandRail&utm_medium=SitePromotion4&utm_campaign=KIT%3Cbr%20/%3E

Paralyzed Veterans Announces 9th Annual National Veterans Day Poster & Essay Contest - Due by Sept 28, 2012


Paralyzed Veterans of America (Paralyzed Veterans) will hold its National Veterans Day Poster and Essay Contest for a ninth straight year. The contest provides school-age children the opportunity to creatively express their gratitude for America’s veterans.

This year’s contest theme—“Show/Tell a Personal Story about a Veteran Who Has Made a Difference in Your Life or Hometown”—hopes to promote awareness of and appreciation for our nation’s 26 million veterans, as well as give parents and teachers an opportunity to teach students the long history of sacrifice and accomplishments by America’s veterans.

Students in grades 1–4 may participate by creating posters, which will be separated into two categories for judging: 1st–2nd grade and 3rd–4th grade. The essay contest is open to students in grades 5–8 and will be separated into two categories for judging: 5th–6th grade and 7th–8th grade.

Grade category winners: The winning students from each grade category will be awarded a special plaque and a $100 educational gift certificate. The student’s school will also receive a plaque recognizing the student’s honor.

Grand prize winners: An all-expenses paid trip to Washington, DC, for Veterans Day 2012, and the winning essay and poster will be featured in PN, Paralyzed Veterans’ national magazine. The winners will be special guests of Paralyzed Veterans at ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery and at our national reception afterward.

Entries must be received by September 28, 2012.

Visit www.pva.org/posteressay for details and entry forms.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Illinois Cares Rx program ends June 30, 2012 - will be costly for seniors, disabled

End of prescription drug program will be costly for seniors, disabled.

By PAM ADAMS | Journal Star | Jun 22, 2012 mmm,

1PEORIA — While smokers are stockpiling cigarettes before a $1 tax increase takes effect, almost 200,000 Illinois senior citizens, people with disabilities, and people with AIDS who rely on Illinois Cares Rx are being urged to stock up on prescription drugs before the program ends June 30.


{photo: Kathryn Williams of Peoria takes more than a dozen different medications, but her premium and co-pays will go up dramatically when Illinois Cares Rx ends June 30}



Some advocates and pharmacists suggest they get a 90-day supply, if possible, because once the program ends, they may not be able to afford what are, in many cases, life-saving medications.

"We need to warn these people," said Mike Minesinger, pharmacist and owner o`f Alwan's Pharmacy in West Peoria. "I don't think people realize it's going to be awful, just awful. They're going to find out they've got big insurance premiums to pay and their co-pays are going to go way up."

Minesinger said he has seen emails from colleagues encouraging people to stock up on prescription drugs.

Telephones have been ringing off the hook at Central Illinois Agency on Aging since earlier this week, according to staff, when people started receiving termination letters from the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services.

Central Illinois Agency on Aging has set itself up as a local warning system, in a sense, by organizing public information meetings next week and a workshop in July, primarily on alternatives for assistance.

The death of Illinois Cares Rx is a result of Illinois lawmakers major overhaul of the state's Medicaid program. Hardly any aspect of medical care for the state's poorest citizens escaped the cuts. The $1.6 billion in cuts, along with an estimated $700 million from the cigarette tax and other revenue-enhancing measures, are expected to cover the $2.7 billion hole in the state's Medicaid budget.

Mike Claffey, a spokesman for Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, said the cuts were unfortunate but necessary. The cuts and reforms enabled the state to preserve health-care benefits for poor children and many of the state's poorest adults.

"While the department certainly understands the concerns that are being voiced, inaction would have led to the collapse of our Medicaid system," he said.

Eliminating Illinois Cares Rx is expected to save $72 million. Advocates for senior citizens predict any savings will be offset by rising costs in other areas.

People in the Illinois Cares Rx program - whether on Medicare or Medicaid, whether they had prescription drug coverage or not - had been accustomed to paying as little as $5 for generic prescriptions, $10 for brand names. Those costs could jump substantially July 1 without the Illinois Cares Rx program to subsidize co-pays and insurance costs.

The program subsidized insurance costs for people whose Medicare Part D prescription drug plans had a monthly premium. When Illinois Cares Rx ends, they could lose the insurance if they don't pay the premium.

One problem, according to Minesinger and others, is many people who have prescription drug plans don't realize Illinois Cares Rx pays the premium costs. They think they're on Humana, AARP's insurance plan or other plans.

The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services does not have county-by-county breakdowns on the numbers in the program or figures on the most common prescription drugs used by people in the Illinois Cares Rx program. But Thomas, of Central Illinois Agency on Aging, has estimated more than 10,000 senior citizens in central Illinois could be affected.

Thomas is concerned that many people could end up with life-threatening conditions soon after July 1 because they've run out of drugs such as insulin or cancer medications.

"The ones you can't go without," she said.

The stakes are just that high for Kathryn Williams, 65, of Peoria.

With Illinois Cares Rx, Williams spends about $44 a month for medications, including an insulin supply for diabetes. An expensive, twice-a-month injection to keep her kidneys performing is covered by a hospital assistance program.

She is not in a Medicare prescription coverage plan now, but she's looking into plans that could possibly lower her costs once Illinois Cares Rx ends.

Whatever she finds, one thing is clear: It will be much more than $44 a month. It will probably be thousands of dollars more a year she can't afford on a Social Security Disability income, particularly when she considers the expense of the infamous Medicare "doughnut hole" - a gap in coverage for prescription drugs - which Illinois Cares Rx covered .

"It's going to be a hardship," she said of the choices she faces. "Get medications, don't get medications. Pay this, don't pay that."

@ http://www.pjstar.com/news/x345283476/End-of-prescription-drug-program-will-be-costly-for-seniors-disabled

Friday, June 22, 2012

Riley Rhoden; who has one arm - Tee Baller an inspiration to all; the amazing life of Riley | video report

PEARLAND, Texas - This is a story about perseverance, personified by a little boy from Pearland, Texas. Riley Rhoden isn't going to let anything get in his way of a normal life. "It's just the will of a kid," said Riley's mom, Rac.


# As reported by Yahoo Sports on 6/22 2012

June 22 is the 13th Anniversary of Olmstead v. L.C – Recognizing the Civil Rights of People with Disabilities

June 22 is the 13th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Olmstead v. L.C. The court’s decision recognized that the civil rights of people with disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) are violated when they are unnecessarily segregated from the rest of society. The promise of Olmstead is that people with disabilities will have the opportunity to live like people without disabilities – to have friends, work, be part of a family, and participate in community activities.

Visit “Faces of Olmstead” for stories of some of the thousands of people whose lives have been impacted by the Olmstead decision.

Visit Disability.gov for more information about the ADA and other laws that protect the rights of people with disabilities.

Olmstead: Community Integration for Everyone

In 2009, the Civil Rights Division launched an aggressive effort to enforce the Supreme Court's decision in Olmstead v. L.C., a ruling that requires states to eliminate unnecessary segregation of persons with disabilities and to ensure that persons with disabilities receive services in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs. President Obama issued a proclamation launching the "Year of Community Living," and has directed the Administration to redouble enforcement efforts. The Division has responded by working with state and local governments officials, disability rights groups and attorneys around the country, and with representatives of the Department of Health and Human Services, to fashion an effective, nationwide program to enforce the integration mandate of the Department's regulation implementing title II of the ADA.

Visit Disability.gov for more information about the ADA and other laws that protect the rights of people with disabilities.

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The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
June 22, 2011

On Anniversary of Olmstead, Obama Administration Recommits to Assist Americans with Disabilities

On June 22, 1999, the Supreme Court ruled in Olmstead v. L.C. that, under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the unjustified institutional isolation of people with disabilities was a form of unlawful discrimination. Since taking office, the Obama Administration has taken many steps to uphold both the letter and the spirit of the ADA.

“The landmark Olmstead case affirmed the rights of Americans with disabilities to live independently,” said President Obama. “On this anniversary, let’s recommit ourselves to building on the promise of Olmstead by working to end all forms of discrimination, and uphold the rights of Americans with disabilities and all Americans.”

Since the Olmstead ruling, much progress has been made. Many individuals have successfully transitioned to community settings, but waiting lists for community services have grown considerably and many individuals who would like to receive community services are not able to obtain them.


On Monday, the President met with Lois Curtis, one of the original plaintiffs of the Olmstead case. In March 2011, Ms. Curtis who lives with mental and developmental disabilities, finally began living in the community – 11 years after the initial decision. She now sells her artwork and serves as a prime example of how persons can become more productive members of society once they are able to live in community based settings.

The Department of Justice also continues to enforce the ADA and Olmstead. In October of last year, the Department entered into a comprehensive settlement agreement with the state of Georgia’s mental health and developmental disability system, resolving a lawsuit the United States had brought against the state. The lawsuit alleged unlawful segregation of individuals with mental illness and developmental disabilities in the state’s psychiatric hospitals in violation of the ADA and Olmstead. In the last two years, the Department has joined or initiated litigation to ensure community-based services in over 25 cases in 17 states.

In 2009, the President launched the "The Year of Community Living," a new effort to assist Americans with disabilities. In the time since then, the Department Housing and Urban Development, and the Department of Health and Human Services released $40 million in Housing Choice vouchers for 5,300 people over 12 months, As part of the "Year of Community Living", HHS Secretary Sebelius created the "Community Living Initiative" to coordinate the efforts of Federal agencies and underscored the importance of the ADA and Olmstead and affirmed the Administration's commitment to addressing isolation and discrimination against people with disabilities across the age span. The Money Follows the Person Rebalancing Demonstration Program, through funding awards to States, has also helped almost 12,000 individuals transition from institutions to the community.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Spencer West who lost both of his legs at age 5 - conquers Mt. Kilimanjaro | June, 2012

Canadian climbs Kilimanjaro on hands

A 31-year-old man from Toronto, Canada, managed to summit Mount Kilimanjaro on Monday, June 18, relying only on his arms to propel him forward.

Spencer West lost both of his legs at age 5 due to a congenital disorder, but that didn't prevent him from climbing Africa's tallest mountain at an impressive pace. In just seven days, West made it from his base camp at 6,552 feet to the summit of Kilimanjaro, which stands 19,340 feet above sea level.


{Published on Jun 19, 2012 by freethechildrenintl}

On some occasions, where the terrain would not permit West to climb on his hands, he used a custom wheelchair with mountain-bike style treads on the tires. However, for the majority of his journey, he moved along on his hands, with only a pair of gloves protecting him from the harsh terrain.

The final days before arriving at the summit were harsh, as West encountered below freezing temperatures, altitude sickness, and a barren landscape. When reflecting on the accomplishment of reaching the summit, he wrote on his blog, "After seven grueling days of relentless climbing, after 20,000 feet of our blood, sweat and tears (and, let's face it, vomit) we had actually made it. We were at the top. The summit sign seemed almost like a mirage."

West, an author and motivational speaker, documented the entire journey on his blog entitled, Redefine Possible. During the seven days from base camp to the summit, West posted a short recap of the each day hiking with his friends David Johnson and Alex Meers.

The trek, which West described as "grueling" and "frigid," is part of his larger mission to inspire others to redefine what's possible in their lives. The achievement has left a measurable impact on many, as West reported raising more than $500,000 in donations supporting his adventure, the proceeds of which will be given to Free the Children, an organization that seeks to help empower and educate kids globally.

THE GRINDTV BLOG June 20, 2012 / yahoo sports / article By: Kyle DeNuccio
http://www.grindtv.com/outdoor/blog/33925/canadian+climbs+kilimanjaro+on+hands/

The Social Challenge : Did you know the word “retard” is used more than 24,000 times each day on Twitter?

The Social Challenge is a project of LifeMyWay, in partnership with the Illinois Council on Developmental Disabilities.


YouTube Uploaded by lifemywayil on Aug 11, 2011

The Social Challenge is a Twitter-based campaign aimed at curbing the use of the r-word in social media. Visitors to the site can see a live Twitter stream of real-time tweets containing the r-word. They can then send a message to those tweeters asking them to reconsider their choice of language.

http://www.thesocialchallenge.org/

Show your support. Spread the Word. Make a Difference!

Bravo! You've taken The Social Challenge and you're ready to take your advocacy to the next level. Whether you have 5 minutes or 5 hours, there is no limit to the positive impact you can make! Please take the following actions:

http://www.thesocialchallenge.org/

Take the Social Challenge Today!
Did you know the word “retard” is used more than 24,000 times each day on Twitter? The folks at LifeMyWay are monitoring Twitter and have launched a new campaign called The Social Challenge to target R-word users and raise awareness about the developmental disability community.

The Social Challenge is about creating a dialogue – watch a live stream of Tweets containing the R-word and then respond directly to the Tweeter. The Social Challenge is also a forum for people to share their stories and connect with one another. Our message is simple: people with developmental disabilities and their families face enough challenges as it is and words can hurt. They deserve the same rights and respect as anyone else.

Visit http://www.TheSocialChallenge.org and challenge yourself, challenge others and join us in creating a community rooted in equality.

200,000 people in Illinois have a developmental disability and we have countless family members and loved ones. Together we can make a difference!

http://www.thesocialchallenge.org/

TODAY - AT Works: Webinar on Accessible Technology's Role in the Workplace – Today, June 21 at 1 pm CST

Hosted by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, this event is part of an online educational series designed to explore the connection between emerging technologies and the employment of people with disabilities.

This webcast is titled “AT Works: Accessible Technology Role in Today’s Workplace.”
Event Information

The moderator is Tom Tenin, Anchor, Federal News Radio.

Panelists include:

■Kathleen Martinez, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy
■Brian Hurley, Public Affairs Program Director, National Industries for the Blind
■Christian Vogler, Ph.D., Associated Professor and Director of the Technology Access Program, Co-PI, RERC on Telecommunications Access, Gallaudet University.
This event is audio-captioned and offers a real-time Twitter feed below with the hashtag #ATworks. If you are a Twitter user, we encourage you to use this hashtag to tweet about the event and post comments or questions to share with others participating on Twitter.

You can access Twitter through thousands of third-party Internet and mobile applications, such as the live feed below, which pulls directly from Twitter.com and may present content or images that are difficult for some users to navigate. If you are use assistive technology, you may prefer to access Twitter through a different interface (e.g., Easy Chirp, etc.).

This page requires Flash to view the event. To download the Flash Player plug-in, visit http://get.adobe.com/flashplayer/
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Technology

Accessible and usable workplace technologies, and various types of assistive technology, are paramount to helping people with disabilities succeed on the job and deliver for their employers. Reflecting this, ODEP has a long history of exploring policies that will advance the development and adoption of accessible, interoperable and usable information and communication technologies (ICT) in the workplace.

AT Works: Accessible Technology in the Workplace Webcast — June 21st from 1:00pm to 2:00pm CST

ODEP's Accessible Technology in the Workplace Initiative promotes the accessibility of workplace technology as a means to increasing the hiring, retention and advancement of people with disabilities in the public and private sector. The "AT Works" online educational series is part of this effort. ODEP will be hosting a series of free webcasts and webinars over the next several months to explore the connection between emerging technologies and the employment of people with disabilities.

To kick off the series, ODEP will host a live webcast on Accessible Technology's Role in Today's Workplace.

What
A panel discussion moderated by Tom Temin, Anchor, Federal News Radio.

Panelists include Kathleen Martinez, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy; Brian Hurley, Public Affairs Director, National Industries for the Blind; and Christian Vogler, Ph.D., Associated Professor and Director of the Technology Access Program, Co-PI, RERC on Telecommunications Access, Gallaudet University.

When

Thursday, June 21st from 1:00pm - 2:00pm CST

An archived version will be available for viewing starting the day after the event
Where

Access the webcast today

The event will be live audio-captioned

Real-time Twitter feed with the hashtag #ATworks

No registration is required
Who

Employers, workers, policymakers, advocates and others interested in learning more about accessible technology and its impact on the employment of people with disabilities.
Link to Webcast: http://www.onlinevideoservice.com/clients/atworks/

State of Illinois - shorting Funding obligations to agencies serving people with developmental disabilities | June 21, 2012

Below is information from a few different sources...





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The News-Gazette article by Debra Pressey, staff writer

WASHINGTON — A national organization is calling on U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to investigate the action being taken in Illinois that will short agencies serving people with developmental disabilities for one month of services provided in the current fiscal year ending June 30.

"Not only is such action morally unacceptable, we assert that it is in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Supreme Court Olmstead Decision, as well as federal law and regulation governing the Medicaid program," states a June 20 letter to Sebelius from the National Association of County Behavioral Health and Developmental Disability Directors.

The organization is calling for the investigation in response to a June 18 letter sent to agencies by Kevin Casey, director of the Division of Developmental Disabilities at the Illinois Department of Human Services.

The letter states Illinois can't pay for one month of services in the current fiscal year for day programs, child group homes, community living facilities, therapies, equipment, training and individual support services advocacy, and will be deferring payments and services into the new year after the new budget is finalized.

Providers were also warned to expect ongoing delays in payment at the comptroller's office.

Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka said she will prioritize payments for programs serving the developmentally disabled starting immediately in the new fiscal year, but warned the unpaid bills to hospitals, businesses, schools and service agencies awaiting payment at her office now total $4.4 billion.

# Link to letter from The National Association of County Behavioral Health and Developmental Disability Directors (NACBHDD):

http://www.news-gazette.com/sites/all/files/pdf/2012/06/20/Sebelius_Letter_on_Casey_Letter_6202012.pdf


(NEW): In a statement released Wednesday, Januari Smith, spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Human Services, said some service providers will experience a brief delay in payments due to insufficient funding in the Department of Human Services budget. “Payments will be processed in 11 days when the new fiscal year begins,” she said. “Providers are encouraged to continue to provide these vital services through the remainder of the fiscal year without interruption. Service providers will be receiving another letter making clear that payment will be received once the new fiscal year begins and that this is not an indication of reduction of services but rather a short payment delay.”

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'A Long View of Change' (Education & ADA) : By Guest Blogger L. Scott Lissner, President Elect, Association on Higher Education And Disability


I have spent more than 30 years in college! Most of them have been working with students who have disabilities. For nearly as long, I have been a member of the Association on Higher Education And Disability (AHEAD), which was founded in 1977 to help colleges implement the freshly minted regulations of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. For the first time colleges, at least those receiving federal funds, were forbidden from discriminating on the basis of disability and were required to provide equal access to students with disabilities. 1990 brought the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), true civil rights legislation that expanded disability rights beyond the classroom and federal funds recipients to employment and public places.

According to a report from the American Council on Education, the ADA increased participation in higher education by students with disabilities from an estimated seven percent in 1988 to nine percent in 1994. Today, the Government Accountability Office reports that 11 percent of college students report having a disability. Our understanding of disability has also grown. AHEAD now provides guidance on best practices through national conferences and 33 regional affiliates, representing a diverse network of more than 2,500 members who actively address disability issues on their campuses every day, while working on public policy at the state and national levels.

The focus has shifted from simply adding ramps to providing seamless access for people with disabilities participating in all aspects of higher education. Whether visiting a campus for a concert, lecture or football game; taking continuing education classes; participating in certificate programs; or getting advanced degrees, our members work to create a welcoming experience through universal design and accommodations. Our definition of disability has also evolved. We not only recognize a wider range of conditions, but also the fact that it is how those conditions interact with the physical and social environment that creates the disability.

The wider definition and deeper understanding of disability is reflected in the emergence of Disability Studies as a discipline on college campuses, as well as the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 and changes to the Title I, II and III regulations. Last month, AHEAD released a new document entitled “Supporting Accommodation Requests: Guidance on Documentation Practices”. The guidance identifies changes in the law and the underlying philosophy for those changes. It also provides a framework for understanding how those changes affect who is eligible for accommodations. The approach is more person-centered, uses a student’s own description of his or her needs and focuses on his or her educational and accommodation history, rather than diagnostic profiles. This collaborative approach fosters respect for individuals with disabilities.

What Will Be Different?

In some cases, nothing at all. Students who are deaf, and asking for accommodations like real-time transcription or interpreters, have generally not been asked for proof of their disability (such as an audiogram). For others, like students with learning disabilities who are requesting extended time on tests or books in alternative formats, this change is big.

In general, students will need less in the way of formal medical and psychological documentation. The ADA Amendments and the new regulations state that accommodation requests should be evaluated using a commonsense standard, without the need for specific language or extensive diagnostic evidence. A request with a clear explanation of the need will generally only need confirmation from an appropriate professional that the identified need is based on a disability.

Ensuring that accommodations provide effective access requires a process that is responsive to the unique experience and needs of each individual. Students and disability resource professionals should engage in an exploration of previous educational experiences, past use of accommodations and what has been effective and ineffective in providing access. The weight given to the individual’s description will be influenced by its clarity, internal consistency and congruency with the professional’s observations and available external documentation.

If a student is unable to clearly describe how his or her disability is connected to a barrier and how the accommodation would provide access, there will be a need to request third party documentation that explains that connection. Students will want to be prepared to describe their needs.

What Should Students Do to Prepare?

Being able to clearly describe your condition, its impact and your needs is more important than ever. The following questions will help students with this process. These questions also make a great tool for transition teams, counselors, parents and others service providers.

• How do you describe your condition?

How do you describe your condition, and how do you want it described to others? You may choose to keep information about your disability confidential. However, the disability resource office will need to have enough information to evaluate the need for accommodations and services. Instructors need considerably less information and may be told as little as what accommodations are appropriate. Even if your disability is not visible or obvious, it is likely that at some point a few of your new friends and classmates will notice an accommodation; how will you describe your situation to them?

• What is the impact of your condition?

It is helpful to think about how your condition has impacted you in various situations in the past; then to consider how it is likely to impact the typical activities you can expect to encounter at college. You may want to pay particular attention to the following contexts:

■Classes (lectures, laboratory, physical activity, Web-based);
■Assignments (reading, writing, calculating, keyboarding, library work);
■Communication (speaking, listening, phone, email);
■Evaluation (tests, papers, oral repots, group presentations/projects);
■Time Constraints (timed tests, college deadline, assignment due dates);
■Attendance (class, required activities out of class, residential requirements);
■Campus (mobility; orientation/navigation, transportation);
■Residence Halls (roommates, food issues, climate control);
■Co-Curricular (clubs, organizations, events, athletics).
• What have you tried in the past?

What accommodations, auxiliary aids, adaptive equipment, modifications and services have been provided in the past? Which ones work well? Which ones did not?

• What do you anticipate needing at college?

Beyond College: High Stakes Testing & Employment

One frequent question I get is, “Does this apply to the testing agencies (ACT, ETS, LSAC, NBME)?” The short answer is yes. The slightly longer answer is that AHEAD’s Guidance was based in part on the revised ADA Title III regulations for Examinations and Courses (28 CFR 36.309). This regulation covers any private entity that offers examinations or courses related to applications, licensing, certification or credentialing for secondary or postsecondary education, professional or trade purposes. So the high stakes testing industry would seem to be covered.

These regulations require that any request for documentation must be reasonable and limited to the need for the modification, accommodation or auxiliary aid or service requested. They go on to say that entities must give considerable weight to documentation of past modifications, accommodations or auxiliary aids or services received in similar testing situations, or those provided in response to an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended.

Another question I hear often is, “What will employers ask for?” The ADA Amendments Act was motivated by employment issues. In the legislation, Congress directed the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to revise the ADA’s Title I regulations for employment. The new Title I regulations utilize the same approach to documenting accommodation requests.

L. Scott Lissner has served as the ADA coordinator for The Ohio State University since January of 2000. Housed in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion within the Provost’s Office, Lissner is an associate of the John Glenn School of Public Policy and serves as a lecturer for the Moritz College of Law, the Knowlton School of Architecture and Disability Studies. His teaching and public service informs his work as the university’s disability compliance officer; energizes his role in creating seamless access to all of the university’s programs, services, employment opportunities and facilities; and guides his efforts as a catalyst for disability-related initiatives. Engaged in community and professional service, Lissner is president elect of the Association on Higher Education And Disability and serves on the Board of Directors for ADA-OHIO and the Editorial Board for Thompson’s 504 Compliance Manual. Lissner has been appointed to the Columbus Advisory Committee on Disability Issues, Ohio’s Help America Vote Act (HAVA) Committee and the Ohio Governor’s Council for People with Disabilities. Lissner publishes, presents and consults frequently on disability issues.

# As posted at Disability.Gov.Blog: http://usodep.blogs.govdelivery.com/2012/06/20/a-long-view-of-change/

New TV 'Video Description' Rules Take Effect July 1, 2012 - TV programming more accessible to individuals who are blind or visually impaired

As posted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)...

Video Description
Background


Video description is audio-narrated descriptions of a television program’s key visual elements. These descriptions are inserted into natural pauses in the program’s dialogue. Video description makes TV programming more accessible to individuals who are blind or visually impaired. On August 25, 2011, the FCC adopted rules to implement the video description provisions of the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA). These rules are effective as of July 1, 2012.

Availability of Video Description

FCC rules require local TV station affiliates of ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC located in the top 25 TV markets (see list below) to provide 50 hours per calendar quarter (about 4 hours per week) of video-described prime time and/or children’s programming.

•Local TV stations in markets smaller than the top 25 also may provide video description. Check with your local TV stations.

•Many Public Broadcasting System (PBS) stations also provide video description on a number of programs. Check with your local PBS station.

•The requirement to provide video description is extended to local TV station affiliates of ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC located in the top 60 television markets beginning July 1, 2015.
The top 5 non-broadcast networks - Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, TBS, TNT, and USA - must provide 50 hours per calendar quarter (about 4 hours per week) of video-described prime time and/or children’s programming.

•Subscription TV systems (offered over cable, satellite or the telephone network) with 50,000 or more subscribers must carry video description.

•Subscription TV systems with fewer than 50,000 subscribers also may provide video description. Check with your subscription TV provider
How to Access Video Description

Video description is provided through the TV or set top box “secondary audio” feature, which some TV controls identify as “SAP” or “secondary audio program.” The secondary audio may also be identified as a language feature, such as “Spanish” or “SPA,” because it is also used to provide Spanish or other language translations of English language TV programs. Depending upon the program being viewed, when listening to the secondary audio, you may hear the primary audio with video description, Spanish or other language translation, a duplicate of the primary audio, or silence.

Your TV user manual may provide information about activating the secondary audio feature, or you may contact the customer service department where you bought the TV or the customer service department of the TV manufacturer for assistance. If you have a set top box for subscription TV service, you may contact your subscription TV provider for assistance in activating the secondary audio.

Learn More

Networks, broadcasters, and subscription TV systems may provide information about the availability of programs with video description through their websites and in program guides. Some program guides may use the symbol (D) to indicate that the program is video described. In the future, the FCC will provide links to these websites where they are available, and other information on video description on the FCC’s web page.

Filing a Complaint

After these new rules become effective, the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau will release a consumer advisory with instructions on how to file complaints concerning the new video description requirements, via the FCC’s website. You can also file your complaint with the FCC’s Consumer Center by calling 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322) voice or 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322) TTY; faxing 1-866-418-0232; or writing to:

Federal Communications Commission
Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau
Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division
445 12th Street, S.W.
Washington, DC 20554
The FCC will forward the complaint to the video programming distributor or provider, and the distributor or provider will have 30 days to respond to the complaint.

What to Include in Your Complaint

Your complaint should include the following information:

•Your name and addresses (both geographic and email, if you have an email address);

•The name, location (city and state), call letters, and network affiliation of the TV broadcast station; or the name and address of the subscription TV system plus the name of the network that provided the programming;

•Enough information to demonstrate that the video programming distributor has violated or is violating the FCC’s video description rules, such as the name of the program or show; the date and time when it was shown; and a detailed description of the video description problem, including specifics about the frequency and type of problem (e.g., video description available during only part of the program or missing in its entirety – but remember that not all programming must be video described under the FCC’s rules);

•The specific relief or satisfaction being requested;

•Any additional information that may assist in processing your complaint; and

•Your preferred format or method of response to the complaint (such as letter, facsimile transmission, telephone (voice/TRS/TTY), email, or some other method that would best accommodate you.
Resolution of your complaint may be delayed if the above information is not complete. You also can provide the FCC with any additional information you think appropriate (e.g., written-out examples of the video description, recordings you made of the video description problem, etc.).

The Commission will promptly forward complaints satisfying the above requirements to the video programming distributor involved. The video programming distributor must respond to the complaint within a specified time, generally within 30 days. The Commission will review all relevant information provided by the complainant and the video programming distributor and will request additional information from either or both parties when needed for a full resolution of the complaint.

For More Information

For more information about FCC programs to promote access to telecommunications services for people with disabilities, visit the FCC’s Disability Rights Office website. For information about other telecommunications issues, visit the FCC’s Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau website, or contact the FCC’s Consumer Center using the information provided for filing a complaint.

# For a Print Out 'Video Description Guide (pdf)' :
http://www.fcc.gov/guides/video-description

# http://www.fcc.gov/guides/video-description

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Illinois Late Medicaid payments force Easter Seals affiliate to drop older children | June 20, 2012


By Associated Press
June 20, 2012


VILLA PARK, Ill. (AP) — An Illinois Easter Seals affiliate plans to drop older children on Medicaid because of low payment rates and long delays in payments from the state.

Officials at Easter Seals DuPage and the Fox Valley Region say Medicaid clients 14 and older must find help elsewhere starting Sept. 1. By June next year, the agency will accept only Medicaid children younger than 8. The change affects about 90 children.

Easter Seals provides therapy to children with disabilities. No other Illinois affiliates are taking such drastic steps, but organization leaders say they must use private donations to make up the Medicaid shortfall.

Bobbi Schroeder of Aurora says she anticipates a long search for therapists who will help her 14-year-old son who has epilepsy. He will lose services Sept. 1, 2012.

# For Easter Seals : http://www.easterseals.com/site/PageServer

Abilities Expo - Chicago | June 29 -July 1, 2012 | info



Discover solutions at Abilities Expo
The Community has spoken! Abilities Expo is the trusted source where people with disabilities, their families, seniors, vets, caregivers and healthcare professionals gain knowledge and empowerment (and have a little fun!). For more than 30 years, Abilities Expo has also provided an excellent forum for companies with disability products and services to reach out and enhance the lives of this Community.



Free Workshops Daily
Take advantage of Free Workshops that focus on everything from tips for traveling with a disability and home modifications to the steps to getting the best accessible vehicle. Meet the stars of the new series Push Girls and the film Beyond the Chair. Discover how you can advocate for the best wheelchair for you and improve your understanding of legal planning. Kids! There’s even a workshop just for you!

Workshops are FREE! All attendees are welcome – you don’t need to register or sign up in advance. Just arrive early to the workshop to make sure you can get a seat!

For Workshop events and Registration :
http://www.abilitiesexpo.com/chicago/vsessions.html

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Events and Activities make the total Abilities experience

Add some exciting new activities to your life? Abilities Expo showcases a wide range of events that not only entertain, they also give you the opportunity to try new things, expand your interests and discover ways to be more involved in the local Chicago area.

More events added each week. Check back for details!

•Try a variety of adaptive sports
•Transform your face at the face painters
•Learn how to work with assistance dogs
•Break out your dancing wheels
•Find out how horses can help people with disabilities
For the list of daily events: http://www.abilitiesexpo.com/chicago/specialevents.html
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For full information for Abilities Expo in Chicago visit:
http://www.abilitiesexpo.com/chicago/

Illinois to give developmentally disabled priority for state payments | June 19, 2012

SPRINGFIELD -- Money to pay organizations that provide services to the developmentally disabled has run out for this budget year and Illinois state government won't resume payments until a new budget is in place.

Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka immediately said her office will expedite payments to day programs, child group homes and others affected by the shortfall after July 1, when the state’s new budget takes effect and payments can resume.

In a letter sent Monday to organizations that provide services to the developmentally disabled, the Department of Human Services said the current state budget “does not include sufficient funding to support all services to the developmentally disabled for all of fiscal year 2012.”

The letter, from Kevin Casey, director of the division of developmental disabilities at DHS, said about a one-month shortfall exists for day programs, child group homes, community living facilities, therapies, equipment, training and individual support services training.

“For those services provided prior to June 30, 2012 that cannot be paid, these services will be deferred and paid from the Fiscal Year 2013 budget,” Casey wrote.

Casey warned that the payments “will still be subject to ongoing delays at the comptroller’s office based on the receipt of state revenues.”

Topinka, however, said her office will give priority to paying bills for day programs, child group homes, community living facilities and other programs for the developmentally disabled. Payments will be made as soon as DHS forwards bills to her office for payment after July 1, she said.

“Those serving the developmentally disabled should know that we will make their payments as soon as the information reaches our door,” Topinka said. “People literally rely on these programs for survival, and they will take priority.”

Topinka said her office had more than 164,000 bills totaling $4.4 billion waiting to be paid on Tuesday. She estimated additional bills still sitting in state agencies will push the total backlog to $8.5 billion.

Even before Topinka’s announcement, agencies dealing with the developmentally disabled – accustomed to chronic late payments from the state – were taking the new information in stride.

“State payment delays are a fact of life for all of us in human services,” Clint Paul, interim president and CEO of the Springfield-based Hope Institute, said in a statement. “We have been very conservative in managing Hope’s resources with an eye toward minimizing the impact of the state’s financial crisis. To a large extent, those efforts have been successful so far.”

Brenda Yarnell, president and CEO of United Cerebral Palsy Land of Lincoln, said the agency is tapping into a line of credit at its bank.

“I think if the letter had said we can’t pay until January, we’d be in trouble,” Yarnell said. “Honestly, I’m thankful we didn’t get the letter in May or April. I was expecting something of this nature maybe even earlier. We can survive on this short-term delay.”


# Article By DOUG FINKE | GateHouse News Service | Jun 19, 2012

http://www.mysuburbanlife.com/elmhurst/statenews/x1884284948/Topinka-to-give-developmentally-disabled-priority-for-state-payments

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Baby Strollers Policy on Chicago Transit Authority, & the effect on Disabled & Seniors | Video | Comments Welcomed

UPDATE: fall 2013 (July 2014 - no changes)  CTA has decided to stay with the same policy as described within this post, BUT to actually 'enforce' the Stroller policy - so far its been kinda, sorta enforced, but still a big issue - let us know what your experiences have been - and also contact CTA customer service regarding the CTA Stroller Policy...

As we are advocating for CTA to reinstate there previous Baby Stroller Policy of that they must be folded before entering CTA vehicles. We wanted to remind and share the current policy and the video CTA previously released. If our fellow CTA riders that use Baby Strollers actually respected the current policy, and there fellow passengers we would not have the current out of control issues with Baby Strollers blocking Aisles or using Priority Seating, which effects People with Disabilities and Seniors, and all CTA customers on a daily basis.

If you have any pictures or videos of 'Strollers' blocking aisles, using priority seating that is intended for People with Disabilities (of all ages), please feel free to share to be posted. send to jimwatkins@abilitychicago.info
If you would share your thoughts in the comment section below it would be appreciated. TY - Jim
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YouTube Uploaded by CTAConnections on Mar 18, 2011

The CTA values all of its customers...from babies to senior citizens and everyone in between. Here's a reminder on the safest way to travel the CTA with children in strollers. A little common sense and courtesy can improve the riding experience for all customers.

Children in strollers (*fall 2013)

Children in open strollers are welcome on CTA, however we encourage parents to be considerate of other customers and adhere to these rules when traveling with a stroller.
Keep strollers clear of aisles and doorways aboard buses and trains.
Seniors and customers with disabilities have priority use of the Priority Seating area aboard buses and trains. If these seats are not in use, open strollers may be parked in this area. This will help you to avoid blocking the aisle. Please yield this space if a customer with disabilities, a senior, or a person using a mobility device wishes to board. On buses, you may request use of the access ramp or lift to help you board and exit.
Please fold your stroller in the event that a bus or train becomes crowded, in order to make room for others. Be aware that in the event that a bus or train is crowded, a CTA employee may ask you to fold your stroller or wait for another vehicle. Please follow their instructions. Also, during certain periods of high ridership, we may require that all strollers be folded before you board.
Children in an open stroller should be seated and secured in the stroller before boarding the bus or train.
Note that strollers are never allowed on escalators. If traveling with an open stroller in a multi-level facility, please use elevators or ramps where available. On train station platforms, position your stroller parallel to the platform edge (not facing it), use wheel locks/brakes and stay with it at all times.

For The CTA visit : http://www.transitchicago.com/

For 'Accessibility' on CTA : CLICK HERE



updated July 2013

For all posts on "Carts, Luggage,  or Strollers" : CLICK HERE


For previous posts on the CTA Stroller policy (& lack of enforcement): CLICK HERE

Please remember to leave any comments or thoughts for this post. TY

"Not Home" Documentary 'Free' Screening - Chicago's DePaul University - June 30, 2012

Saturday, June 30 at 1:00pm to 5:00pm Student Center (Lincoln Park), 120B 2550 N Sheffield Ave

DePaul University invites you to join us for an afternoon of film viewing and discussion about this real and relevant topic.



In the words of filmmaker Narcel Reedus, “The stories in 'Not Home' will unfold with a mixture of interviews and vérité footage including homecomings, doctors visits, circle of support meetings, and travels with a parent on a visit to a pediatric long-term care facility. With these stories we hope to reveal incredible threads of commonality that cross community, race, and class."
The documentary also provides a condensed creative glimpse into the history of institutionalization in the U.S. Footage for the documentary spans over many different states, as it reveals a universal connection between the families' stories.

The film offers a glimpse into the lives of several families to give viewers a platform for understanding a parent’s decision to institutionalize a child, as well as an exploration of the health care policies that pay for it.

After the screening, we will have a panel discussion and audience Q & A with the filmmaker, a family member, and a range of advocates and experts.
A reception will follow for more informal conversation and reflection.
Free and open to the public. Validated parking for $6 available at DePaul's Lincoln Park parking garages.

# For "Not Home" Documentary website: http://www.nothomedocumentary.com/

Monday, June 18, 2012

U.S. Access Board Releases Proposed Guidelines for Emergency Transporta​ble Housing - Comment Period til Aug 17 | June 18, 2012

The U.S. Access Board has released for public comment accessibility guidelines for temporary housing provided by the government in emergencies and natural disasters. The proposed guidelines would supplement the Board’s Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Accessibility Guidelines, which cover many types of facilities, including dwelling units, by adding provisions that specifically address emergency transportable housing. It would also supplement companion guidelines the Board maintains under the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA), which applies to federally funded facilities.

Emergency transportable housing units, which are designed and manufactured for transport over roadways, have a smaller footprint than other types of housing and pose unique accessibility challenges. Access to such housing was found to be problematic in the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The proposed rule would revise certain provisions in the ADA and ABA guidelines to address these types of units, including requirements for ramps, floor surfaces, kitchens, showers, and bedrooms. The proposal would require additional features, such as folding seats in roll-in showers, to improve accessibility. Some changes are responsive to design constraints and would provide exceptions from certain technical criteria for elements such as entry ramps under certain conditions. Accessible communication features, including smoke alarms and weather alert systems, are also addressed.

The proposed changes are based on consensus recommendations prepared by an advisory panel organized by the Board, the Emergency Transportable Housing Advisory Committee. This committee included representatives from disability groups, industry and code groups, and government agencies, such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

The proposed rule includes a discussion of these requirements that highlights areas where additional information is sought. The deadline for comments on the guidelines is August 17. Comments can be submitted or viewed at www.regulations.gov. The Board will hold a public hearing on the proposed rule in Washington, D.C. on July 11 that will provide an additional forum for submitting comment and will offer a call-in option for those unable to attend in person. Additional details are posted on the Board’s website.

For document and supporting materials can be viewed at:
http://www.access-board.gov/eth/nprm.htm

For further information, contact Marsha Mazz at mazz@access-board.gov, (202) 272-0020 (v), or (202) 272-0076 (TTY).

Public Hearing on the Proposed Guidelines for Emergency Transportable HousingJuly 11, 9:30 – 11:30
Access Board Conference Center
1331 F Street, NW, Suite 800
Washington, DC

Call-in option (listening only): Dial: (517) 308-9247 or (888) 469-2078 (toll-free)Passcode: 4144To submit comments by phone, contact Kathy Johnson in advance at johnson@access-board.gov, (202) 272-0041 (voice), or (202) 272-0065 (TTY).

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Chicago Lighthouse for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired - Upcoming Events - July/Aug 2012

The following information is as posted by The Chicago Lighthouse :


June 24, 2012
Lions of Illinois Foundation's Camp Helen Keller for Deaf/Blind Adults
(All day)
Lions of Illinois Foundation's Camp Helen Keller

June 27, 2012
4th Annual Deaf-Blind Retreat
Please Note: Online registration has been extended to May 25th!Location:
Category: Agency Events

June 27, 2012
26th Annual House and Garden Walk
10:00am - 2:45pm
The Chicago Lighthouse Associate Board hosts their annual House and Garden Walk on Wednesday, June 27th, from 10 a.m.
Category: Fundraisers

July 2012

July 08, 2012
Arlington Park Day
11:15am - 6:00pm
Admission $8 with $5 back to the Lighthouse for all Lighthouse guests.

July 18, 2012
Low Vision Products Show in Palos Hills
10:00am - 3:00pm
Palos Hills Community Center8455 W. 103rd StreetPalos Hills, IL 60465


July 21, 2012
Scholarship Reception and Ice Cream Social
1:00pm - 3:00pm
The Chicago Lighthouse1850 West Roosevelt Road Chicago, IL 60608

July 26, 2012
Low Vision Products Show at Chicago Lighthouse Glenview North
Come and see the latest in low vision and blind technology at the latest Chicago Lighthouse site, The Chicago Lighthouse North.

August 2012

August 18, 2012
The 6th Annual Future of Vision Golf Invitational
1:00pm
The 6th Annual Future of Vision Golf Invitationalat the Terrace Hill Golf Course, Algonquin, IL

# For more information from The Chicago Lighthouse for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired: http://chicagolighthouse.org/

Friday, June 15, 2012

"Access is a civil right," - ADA pool access for people with disabilities | June 14, 2012


Washington (CNN)-- "Access is a civil right," chanted more than a hundred demonstrators rallying on Thursday in Washington for a law that would force hotel owners to install pool lifts for people with disabilities.

The protesters, including representatives of the American Association of People with Disabilities, rallied outside the American Hotel & Lodging Association's headquarters. The protesters say the hotel group is stalling the legislation.



Ann Cody, an athlete who is paraplegic, was one of the protesters. "This summer, 70% of Americans will be going on vacation and staying at a hotel with a pool -- it is something that is very important and it is a summertime activity that our communities celebrate in and participate in -- and most of us with disabilities don't have an opportunity to engage with our neighbors and friends and families because they aren't accessible," Cody said.



According to the Americans With Disabilities Act's revised 2010 standards, all public swimming pools are required to install permanent lifts to make recreation more accessible for people with disabilities. That includes hotel pools. The original deadline for the law was March 15.

At a recent hearing, attorney Minh Vu argued on behalf of the hotel association, pressuring the Department of Justice to reconsider its decision. "The Department of Justice changed the rules on January 31, 2012, only six weeks before the compliance deadline," she said. She added that the Department of Justice did not take into consideration the safety hazards that pool lifts may cause for children and individuals with disabilities.

In May, the Department of Justice decided to postpone the compliance date. The new deadline is January 31, 2013. According to the Census Bureau, there are approximately 54 million Americans living with disabilities.

By Anna-Lysa Gayle & Eric Fiegel, CNN
updated 7:40 PM EDT, Thu June 14, 2012

@ http://www.cnn.com/2012/06/14/politics/pool-access-protest/index.html

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Illinois Gov. Quinn signs Medicaid - decrease access to health services and hurt the poor, elderly and disabled | June 14, 2012



(AP) — Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn achieved one of his top legislative priorities Thursday, signing a $2.7 billion package of cuts and taxes designed to repair a long-term deficit in the state's Medicaid program.

The Chicago Democrat signed five bills, including a tax increase on cigarettes of $1 per pack and $1.6 billion in Medicaid spending reductions.

"One of our most important missions in Springfield this year was to save Medicaid from the brink of collapse," Gov. Quinn said in a statement. "I applaud the members of our working group and of the General Assembly, who worked together in a bipartisan manner to tackle a grave crisis."

The cuts will mean leaner services for the state's 2.7 million Medicaid patients. More than 25,000 working parents will lose state-funded insurance coverage.

Opponents of the legislation have said the cuts will decrease access to health services and hurt the poor, elderly and disabled.

Illinois is eliminating extras such as regular dental care for adults. Medicaid will no longer cover visits to chiropractors and only people with diabetes can see podiatrists.

Eyeglasses will be limited to one pair every two years. Prior state approval will be required for wheelchair repairs, heart bypass surgery and obesity surgery. Patients will be limited to four prescription drugs per month without prior approval.

The cuts end a program called Illinois Cares Rx that helped nearly 200,000 senior citizens with prescription drug costs.

Investor-owned hospitals got a new tax break in the legislation, and nonprofit hospitals, which were in jeopardy of losing valuable property tax exemptions because of an Illinois Supreme Court ruling, won a broad definition of charity care that will allow them to avoid paying property taxes.

Cook County's health system gained a clear path to federal matching money in an early Medicaid expansion tied to President Barack Obama's federal health care overhaul.


The bills are SB2840, SB2194, HB5007, SB3397 and SB3261.

Florida High School Student, 'Stormy Rich' Barred From School Bus After Reporting Bullying Of Special Needs Student | June 2012



Stormy Rich, an 18-year-old Florida student, says she was punished after reporting bullying of a special needs student on a school bus, and standing up to those bullies when the school didn't take action.

Rich, an Umatilla High School student, was riding on a middle school bus because she had earned enough credits to avoid a first-period class, getting to school later by taking the bus for the neighboring middle school, the Daily Commercial reports.

But one girl on the bus -- a special needs student -- was regularly being picked on by her peers, but couldn't comprehend what was being done to her.

"Just because she doesn't understand doesn't mean that should be happening to her," Rich told WOFL-TV.

She adds that the peer bullies would tell the girl that she couldn't sit in certain seats on the bus and would force food in her mouth.

"I actually had to tell her to spit it out because she didn't understand," Rich said.

The teen, fed up with their behavior, complained to the bus driver -- but nothing changed. She then complained to a high school official, who told her he would contact the middle school, but like before, the bullying continued.

So Rich decided to take the matter into her own hands by telling the bullies to stop aggravating the girl. The harassment stopped for a little while, but then the bullying students began threatening her, despite her regular complaints to school officials.

In response, the district revoked Rich's bus-riding privileges, saying Rich exhibited bully behavior.




"[The district official] said what I did made me the bully, with me telling the kids that if they didn't stop, and if the school didn't do anything, that I would have to handle it," Rich told the Daily Commercial. "To me, it was just going too far."



District officials are standing behind its response, telling WOFL-TV that two wrongs don't make a right. Rich says she's being punished for adhering to school policy, which calls on students to report any bullying they witness.

Lake County Schools communications officer Christopher Patton told the Daily Commercial that he cannot discuss the bullying complaints or student discipline, adding that this is just "one side of the story. …There are other parents that are involved in this."

Rich's story echoes a number of controversial school decisions made with respect to bullying. In March, Georgia student Essance McDougald said she was suspended for not reporting to Lithonia High School officials that she was being bullied.

In January, Jack Persyn -- also a Georgia student -- was suspended after he self-reported that he had accidentally brought a knife to school. Persyn found the knife in the pocket of his backpack, which had been purchased by his aunt at a yard sale, and neither the student nor his aunt checked the contents of the bag before taking it to school.


# For the State of Florida Department of Education (incase you would like to contact) : http://www.fldoe.org/

# As reported by Huff Post - Education | 05/29/2012
@ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/28/stormy-rich-florida-high-_n_1551350.html