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

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Panel OK's closure of Illinois Jacksonville Developmental Center home for disabled | Oct 2012

TAMMY WEBBER, Associated Press
Updated 6:27 p.m., Tuesday, October 30, 2012

BOLINGBROOK, Ill. (AP) — The state will work to find new homes for residents at a central Illinois institution for the developmentally disabled after a state panel agreed Tuesday to allow Gov. Pat Quinn to close it for good, part of a sweeping plan to change the way such residents are cared for and to save tens of millions of dollars a year.

The Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board voted 6-1 to allow the Department of Human Services to close the Jacksonville Developmental Center, which has provided a home for developmentally disabled adults for more than 100 years. Most will be moved into small group homes or apartments staffed with caregivers, which many advocates say allows them to live more productive and satisfying lives.

The closure had been set for Wednesday, but it was delayed until Nov. 21.

"What we've learned over the past 25 years is that people do so much better in community options when they're involved close to their families and friends. When they're hidden away in state institutions, it's the most expensive, least productive ... outcomes," said Tony Paulauski, executive director of the advocacy group The Arc of Illinois.

He said some people have lived at the Jacksonville facility for decades, though it was not intended as a permanent home.

But some of the more than two dozen people who testified at Tuesday's hearing — including parents, the facility's director and Jacksonville's mayor — asked the panel to block the closure, saying not every developmentally disabled person is able to leave the institutional setting because of health or behavioral issues, and many families fear they will have to travel long distances to visit their loved ones because of a dearth of housing options in central Illinois.

Rosetta and Dan Milligan of Springfield said their son is living in the Jacksonville center after failed attempts at other housing arrangements, including one group home where he fell from a third-story window. So far, they said, the only group home willing to accept him is in the Chicago suburb of Cicero, about 200 miles from their home.

"Since I have so few to choose from, what if something wouldn't work out? Then where would he go?" Rosetta Milligan said.

David Iacono-Harris said his son, Jonathan, has been institutionalized for more than 30 years — the past nine in Jacksonville — because of severe behavioral problems that sometimes put others in danger.

"He needs institutional care," Iacono-Harris said, adding that he fears for his son's life.

But others testified that most developmentally disabled residents, including those with the most severe behavior problems, adapt well to community-based living, where they're able to be more independent and make more friends.

"All people have the same rights and opportunities as all other citizens," said Margaret Harkness of the Illinois Council on Developmental Disabilities, which is part of state government. "The current system is broken."

The Quinn administration has said families that absolutely reject community care can move a disabled resident to one of the remaining state institutions.

Paulauski said Illinois has almost 2,000 developmentally disabled residents in institutions, among the most in the nation. Most other states have moved toward community care, including 14 that have eliminated institutions altogether.

State officials say the closure of Jacksonville and, eventually, other state institutions will help satisfy terms of legal settlements in which the state agreed to move the developmentally disabled into more independent settings. They also say closing Jacksonville will save almost $20 million a year because it was one of the oldest and most expensive-to-operate facilities.

State officials said the state spends $150,000 to $210,000 per year for each person housed in a state facility, compared to $45,000 to $84,000 for those in community care.

The state proposed to close four of eight institutions for the developmentally disabled within the next few years, starting with Jacksonville Developmental Center and the Murray Developmental Center in Centralia.

Quinn also has proposed the closure of several state-run institutions for the mentally ill, including the Singer Mental Health Center in Rockford, which will close Thursday morning. An Illinois circuit judge on Tuesday denied a nurses union request to delay the closure, saying it didn't show good cause to keep it open.


Ann Coulter : online petition call for Publicly Apologize For Saying 'Retard' | Oct 2012

A petition urging Ann Coulter to publicly apologize for "constantly using the R-word" has racked up more than 70,000 supporters since its launch.

Dennis Morgan from Norlina, N.C., said he started the Change.org petition to "raise awareness that using the word retard(ed) is disrespectful, dehumanizing, and very hurtful."

In an introduction to the petition, Morgan wrote:

Ann Coulter is a public figure with over [280,000] twitter followers. Her words impact many people and I wish she would take that into consideration when making comments. This is not a political issue for me. It's all about respect and neither Ms Coulter's party affiliation nor my party affiliation play a part in this petition.
Coulter came under fire for using the "R-word" last week after she called President Barack Obama a "retard" in a tweet following the final presidential debate. The conservative commentator then used the word "retarded" in a second tweet in which she scolded Obama for poking fun at cancer with the phrase "Stage 3 Romnesia."

Coulter's use of the offensive word triggered an onslaught of criticism -- from Twitter users, parents and other individuals who found her tweets "offensive and disrespectful."

In a moving open letter, Special Olympics athlete John Franklin Stephens also responded to Coulter's words, compassionately challenging her to re-think her use of the "R-word."

"Ms. Coulter, you, and society, need to learn that being compared to people like me should be considered a badge of honor," Stephens, who has Down syndrome, wrote. "No one overcomes more than we do and still loves life so much."

Despite the widespread criticism, however, Coulter has remained unmoved.

Speaking on Alan Colmes' Fox News Radio show last week, Coulter said she had "no regret over using the word because she wasn't referring to someone with a disability."

"Look, no one would refer to a Down Syndrome child, someone with an actual mental handicap, by saying ‘retard.’ Where do you think the words ‘imbecile,’ ‘idiot,’ ‘moron,’ ‘cretin’ come from? These were all technical terms at one time. ‘Retard’ had been used colloquially to just mean ‘loser’ for 30 years,” Coulter insisted. “But no, no -- these aggressive victims have to come out and tell you what words to use.”

According to an earlier Huffington Post report, Coulter -- in response to a suggestion that the word "retard" may be as much a slur to some as the "n-word" -- went on to dismiss her critics as the "word police."

“Oh, screw them,” she said. “That’s what they feel I do? I feel they’re being authoritarian bullying victims.”

As of Tuesday evening, the Change.org petition calling for an apology from Coulter had 70,481 supporters.

"My special needs nephew is one hundred times the human that Ann Coulter will ever be. She should make a public apology and save us from ever having to listen to her insipid harangues ever again," wrote one Arizona man who signed the petition.

Article from HuffPost IMPACT | Posted: 10/30/2012
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/30/ann-coulter-retard-tweet-apology-

FOR PETITION; Ann Coulter: Public apology for constantly using the R-Word
http://www.change.org/petitions/ann-coulter-public-apology-for-constantly-using-the-r-word


petition_n_2045987.html

Monday, October 29, 2012

The RIC Willis Tower 'SkyRise 2012' Nov 4 : by foot power, by hand crank power | info

EVENT INFORMATION
SKYRISE CHICAGO: GET READY TO TOWER UP!



YouTube Uploaded by AbilityRIC

At the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC), we believe anyone can soar to great heights. From RIC’s innovative clinical care treatments to its cutting-edge brain-controlled bionic arms and robotic walking therapies, RIC gives patients the tools they need to restore ability following a stroke, brain injury or other trauma or illness.
This year's event, held at the iconic Willis Tower, takes place Sunday, November 4 from 7 a.m. to noon. Your fundraising support will fuel RIC’s cutting-edge patient care and innovative research, offering thousands of adults and children the greatest hope for the future.

General Registration - Space is Limited
SkyRise Chicago attracted participants from around the globe—39 states and five countries to be exact. This year we expect an even bigger turnout so you will want to sign up early. Entries will be reserved for RIC employees, patients, board members, sponsors, and for Willis Tower tenants.

You also can help sustain RIC’s work through SkyRise Chicago by donating in support of a climber or team!

By foot power
Sprint, jog or walk to the top of Willis Tower on the world’s highest indoor, urban stair climb. Don’t be daunted. From the start line, you’re just 2,109 steps away from SkyDeck Chicago featuring The Ledge where you can take in panoramic views of up to four states.

By hand power
Crank your way to the sky! Test your upper body strength in the hand –cycle category using stationary hand cycles calibrated for resistance and time to match the stair-climbing experience—all 103 floors of it. Feel free to bring your own stationary hand cycle if you prefer. Anyone can do it!

By brain power
Exercise your creative talents and discover just how big an impact you can have in patients’ lives when you flex your fundraising muscles! Once you pay the $50 registration fee and meet the $100 fundraising minimum, the sky’s the limit! Challenge yourself to make the biggest difference possible. Learn more…

Competition Flights
Experience the thrill of a lifetime when you climb the tower steps or hand cycle the equivalent distance knowing your helping fuel RIC’s cutting-edge patient care and innovative research allowing thousands of adults and children the greatest hope for the future.

All participants receive:

SkyRise Chicago T-shirt
SkyRise Chicago swag bag
Finisher’s medal
After-event refreshments
Access to SkyDeck Chicago and The Ledge, glass-floored balconies offering views 1,353 feet down onto Wacker Dr. and the Chicago River.

For more information :
http://ric.convio.net/site/PageServer?pagename=event_information#hand

For Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, 345 E. Superior Street - Chicago, IL 60611 | 1-800-354-REHAB (7342) | 312-238-1000



Saturday, October 27, 2012

Ann Coulter's use of the 'r-word' - she chooses not to care | Oct 2012

By Emanuella Grinberg, CNN | Wed October 24, 2012 (CNN) -- Parents of children with special needs are demanding an apology from conservative political pundit Ann Coulter for tweeting after Tuesday's foreign policy debate that she approved of "Romney's decision to be kind and gentle to the retard." It appeared to be a response to critiques of Mitt Romney's debate performance, but it wasn't the first time Coulter used the "the r-word" during this election season. And, it's not the first time blogger Ellen Seidman has called her out on it. "At this point, I'm thinking the woman must surely be aware that the word is offensive, and she chooses not to care. That's pretty vile and heartless," said Seidman, the mother of a special needs child who shares her world on the blog "Love that Max." "You want to slam the president, go ahead. But you can't think of any other word to use? Come on." The word "retard" demeans Max and millions more with intellectual disabilities, Seidman tweeted at Coulter. Still, the comment was favorited 1,215 times and earned 2,993 retweets as of this writing, presumably by a number of people who didn't find it offensive. But sentiments from those who chose to respond to Coulter on Twitter ranged from disappointment to outrage. "You disgust me. That man is the president of this country. (& I'm sure all of the disabled children in America appreciate you.)," actor Sophia Bush tweeted. "Politics aside, this tweet from @anncoulter was offensive & disgusting. ANY use of the "R" word is unacceptable," @amurphy217 said. The Special Olympics also condemned her use of the word, saying that it was "sad to see @AnnCoulter continue her use of hateful language by using the #Rword in her discourse." In an open letter directed at Coulter posted Tuesday on the Special Olympics blog, John Franklin Stephens, a 30-year-old Special Olympian with Down syndrome, described what the word meant to him: "I thought first of asking whether you meant to describe the President as someone who was bullied as a child by people like you, but rose above it to find a way to succeed in life as many of my fellow Special Olympians have. "Then I wondered if you meant to describe him as someone who has to struggle to be thoughtful about everything he says, as everyone else races from one snarkey sound bite to the next. ... Well, Ms. Coulter, you, and society, need to learn that being compared to people like me should be considered a badge of honor. No one overcomes more than we do and still loves life so much." Even people known for their sense of humor came out against it. Comedian and Twitter personality @UncleDynamite resurfaced a 2-year-old post from his tumblr in which he explained why he would no longer follow anyone he saw using "the r-word." He re-posted it after seeing people retweeting and favoriting the tweet, which he found disturbing coming from a a "well-educated, self-described Christian with such a huge public presence." He hopes she'll read it and maybe have a change of heart, but he's not necessarily counting on it. "Based upon Ann's tweets today, I'd say she's dug in and unrepentant," he said Tuesday in an e-mail. "She must not know, love or respect anyone with an intellectual disability, then, and more's the pity. I'd like to see her after a great day of volunteering at a Special Olympics or Best Buddies event. I'd lay odds she'd never think or say the r-word word ever again, and she'd probably be quick to anger if someone she heard did so." Others observing the controversy surmised that Coulter used the word solely to draw attention. "Guys. Ann Coulter is trolling you. Always. Outrage gives her strength. The only thing that will kill her? Complete & utter indifference," @PaprbakPrincess tweeted. Congress banned the use of the words "retard" and "retardation" in 2010 in federal health, education and labor laws in favor of using the words "intellectual disability." The American Psychiatric Association also plans to replace the term "mental retardation" with "intellectual development disorder" in the fifth version of The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, to be published by in 2013. Then why do people cling to the word, Seidman and people like her wonder. She has posed the question before in her blog, which is probably why she woke this morning to find a slew of tweets and e-mails asking her to call out Coulter again for repeatedly using "the r-word" to describe President Obama. The last time was just a few weeks ago in a blog post called "Let's talk about people who cling to the word 'retard.' " In the post, she recounted a series of recent examples of the word being used: in a New York Times article, in the comments of a YouTube video she made for the Special Olympics' annual campaign to end the use of the word, in the comments section of a CNN.com article. She also included Coulter's last tweet about a video the president made for the National Forum on Disability Issues: "Been busy, but is Obama STILL talking about that video? I had no idea how crucial the retarded vote is in this election." "Many people think that using the word 'retard' to slam someone is fine—as long as it's not actually directed at a person with disability. I've had plenty of people argue with me over that distinction. What people don't understand is that every time someone uses the word 'retard,' they perpetuate the idea that people with intellectual disability, like my son, Max, are stupid or losers," Seidman said in an e-mail Tuesday. "As I've said before, my son shouldn't be defined by ghosts of stereotypes past. He has enough to contend with in this world. Use. Another. Word." http://us.cnn.com/2012/10/23/living/ann-coulter-obama-tweet/index.html?sr=sharebar_google Do you use the "r-word"? Do you object to its use? Please share your opinions respectfully in the comments section below.

SafeLink Scam Targets Illinois Link Card Customers | Oct 2012

Attention DHS Link Card Customers

Recently a man posing as a SafeLink representative offering free government cell phones obtained personal identification information from DHS customers and used it to steal benefits.

The scammer obtained card numbers, PINs and Social Security Numbers from DHS customers and then used the information to draw down cash and SNAP benefits.

SafeLink does require last 4 digits of SSN and birth date, but customers should NEVER provide Link card information or PIN to anyone.

If you have questions about a program such as SafeLink, contact your DHS caseworker.

As posted at IDHS on 10/25/2012 :
http://www.dhs.state.il.us/page.aspx?item=62170&newssidebar=27893

PLEASE PASS THIS ON, IF A SOCIAL SERVICE AGENCY PLEASE SHARE WITH YOUR CLIENTS...


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Illinois RTA chief extends olive branch after comparing paratransit to ‘limousine’ service comment | Oct 2012

[Photo : RTA paratransit rider Marcia Trawinski of Chicago speaks to RTA Chairman John Gates Jr. who just finished making a public apology at the monthly board meeting in Chicago on Wednesday. He apologized for likening paratransit to a “limousine service.”]

By Marni Pyke | The Daily Herald

Regional Transportation Authority Chairman John S. Gates Jr. apologized Wednesday for remarks about paratransit that offended disabled riders, including calling it a “limousine service.”

“I completely misspoke and I apologize,” Gates said. “My comments were inappropriate and unfortunately could be misconstrued to suggest bias against the disabled community. Nothing could be further from the truth.

“Paratransit is a civil right for the approximately 50,000 people who are currently certified to use it in our region. It affords riders mobility and independence.”

Paratransit riders spoke out during the RTA’s Wednesday board meeting, calling Gates’ words hurtful and uninformed.

[photo: Ray Campbell, of Glen Ellyn, was one of three disabled people who told the Regional Transportation Authority board Wednesday that they were offended by RTA Chairman John Gates Jr.'s comments referring to paratransit for the disabled as a “federally mandated limousine service.” Gates apologized. (José M. Osorio, Chicago Tribune / October 24, 2012)]

Glen Ellyn resident and paratransit user Ray Campbell thanked Gates for his apology but said he still would have preferred that the chairman resign. However, he added “I would be happy to work with you and help you be part of a dialogue” on improving paratransit along with making mainline bus and train service more accessible to riders with disabilities.

“Paratransit is a lifeline. Many of us use it to get to work and school, participate in our communities, visit family and friends, and get to medical appointments,” said Campbell who is visually impaired.

Gates’ comments were reported Oct. 15 in the Daily Herald following an editorial board session, intended to discuss a funding battle between the CTA, Metra and Pace.

“Oct. 15 is a date that will live in infamy for all of us who live in the six-county region,” said Marcia Trawinski, a visually impaired Chicagoan who uses paratransit.

“The fact is I have waited over an hour beyond my window for pickup times. I’ve been driven around the city in what we fondly call ‘hostage trips,’ because we are victims of poor scheduling,” she added.

In speaking with the Daily Herald, Gates explained that the CTA gets 56 percent of sales tax revenues that help pay for transit, Metra receives 32 percent and Pace gets 12 percent.

He noted that paratransit, the ride service for people with disabilities, is funded first, before the other agencies.

“It’s a civil right. It has to come right off the top,” Gates told the editorial board. “You send out a van every time somebody schedules one. The more volume you have, the more money you lose.

“It’s not like other systems ... where the more volume you have, the more money you make or the less money you lose. That’s the issue, and as the population ages and gets more infirm, the volumes go up faster than the rest of the system,” Gates explained previously.

“It’s a limousine service, but it’s a federally mandated limousine service that we have to provide,” he added. “The farebox pays 10 percent, we lose a ton of money. ... It’s hugely expensive, but it’s something we have to do. It’s the law. It’s a civil right.”

Trawinski and others objected to the use of the word “infirm.”

“We are veterans, we are your relatives on dialysis ... we are people trying to find our future and our life with its independence,” Trawinski said.

“No word is more derogatory and nasty,” said Jim Watkins, former chairperson of the RTA’s ADA Advisory Committee. “But we have to go forward. Within the RTA, I would like to see a disability awareness program put in place.”

Gates said Wednesday he was particularly sensitive of disability issues because his father is blind. He asked riders for “a dialogue on how we can focus on paratransit and fixed route service delivery and funding that meets the needs of all of our customers.

“The RTA enthusiastically supports this service with more than $140 million dollars per year. Paratransit may not be perfect, but it is far more fully funded than CTA, Metra or Pace bus.”

Disabled advocates said they would wait and see if RTA leaders improved communication with riders.

“He did the right thing by apologizing,” Campbell said. “We’ll see where we go from here.”

http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20121024/news/710249798/


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Ticket to Work (SSA): Working at Home Can Change Your Life; article

By Disability.Blog Guest Blogger Lori Adler, Ticket to Work Participant & Public Relations Specialist for Employment Options, Inc.

I hated the inevitable question, “What do you do for a living?” I didn’t want to say I was on Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). I didn’t want to tell anyone that I did not have a job. But that was the truth. I had a disability, and it interfered with my ability to work locally.

This was a hard time for me. I had too much time on my hands. I missed having a set routine. Moreover, I missed that feeling of being productive and the intrinsic sense of pride that comes from having a job. I also missed the paycheck!

A few years went by and then, I learned the Social Security Administration had created a return-to-work program for people with disabilities, like me, receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. Even though I had not worked in a long time, I still believed that I had abilities and skills to offer the working world. I just had no idea how to go about getting a job or whether I could handle the “work world” again. Moreover, I was afraid. As much as I needed more money, I simply could not afford to lose my monthly cash or health benefits.

However, this Social Security Administration return-to-work program, officially called the Ticket to Work program, was free, which made my ears perk up. They also told me I wouldn’t lose my cash benefits or medical care all at once. It is a gradual program with a large safety net.

If I wanted to try it out, all I had to do was contact an employment network (EN) that was certified to handle program participants. I called Employment Options, because I liked the name. After I finished all my screenings, they told me I would be a good candidate for working from home.

At first, I didn’t think I was cut out for working from home, but then I began to realize what a great deal it was for people with disabilities and their employers. American companies save on all the overhead, while the employee avoids all the cost and time of commuting. Plus, and perhaps most important, the workspace and work environment is already set up with accommodations for a person’s particular disability.

Working from home through the Ticket to Work program has been life changing for me. I feel I got a second chance at a career because I had the help I needed to get a good job that fits my needs. Ticket To Work gave me that cushion to transition back to work, which means now I can answer the question, “What do you for a living?” with a big smile.

For More Information:

To earn about the Ticket to Work program, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/work or call 1-866-968-7842 (1-866-833-2967 TTY/TDD).

To find an employment network (EN), like Employment Options, near you, go to http://www.chooseworkttw.net/resource/jsp/searchByState.jsp or call 1-866-968-7842 (1-866-833-2967 TTY/TDD).

To learn more about Employment Options, visit http://myemploymentoptions.com/for-job-seekers/.

To find out about the full and part time work at home jobs with reputable national companies that Employment Options is currently offering, visit http://myemploymentoptions.com/work-at-home-jobs/.

Lori Adler is a Public Relations Specialist for Employment Options, Inc., a nationally-recognized Certified Social Security Administration (SSA) Employment Network for the Ticket to Work program. The company has been in business for over 20 years and handles both work-at-home and on-site job placement.

* Please note: the links above are provided for informational purposes only. Disability.gov does not endorse any particular EN or other service providing part time or full time employment opportunities.


http://usodep.blogs.govdelivery.com/2012/10/24/working-at-home-can-change-your-life/


U.S. Access Board Webinar on Accessible Historic Buildings and Facilities on November 1, 2012

The next webinar in the Board's monthly series will take place November 1 from 2:30 – 4:00 (ET) and will cover access to historic buildings and facilities.

The session will focus on addressing accessibility in planned alterations to qualified historic facilities and review permitted exceptions where State Historic Preservation officials determine that compliance would threaten or destroy a facility’s historic significance.

Alterations to “qualified historic” buildings and facilities are required to comply with the same alterations as other buildings and facilities except where the State Historic Preservation officer determines that certain requirements would “threaten or destroy the historic significance of the building or facility”. This session will review the process involved in applying these provisions and provide examples of some effective solutions in providing access in historic buildings and facilities.

Presenters:
Accessibility Specialist/Librarian
US Access Board

To register for this free webinar, visit www.accessibilityonline.org.
Questions for the webinar can be submitted in advance through this website.

Continuing Education Recognition Available:
Certificate of Attendance (Free)
AIA CES (free) : 1.5 Credits
AICP CES (free) : 1.5 Credits
LA CES (free) : 1.5 Credits
UI CEU (free) : 0.15 Credits


State of Illinois Invests Federal Tax Credits to Boost Affordable Housing | Oct 2012

Nearly 700 affordable rental apartments will be built across Illinois, increasing housing opportunities for working families, seniors and people with special needs and disabilities, thanks to the allocation of federal tax credits approved by the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) board.

The tax credit allocations will generate an estimated $117.6 million in private equity to support 12 developments. Demonstrating the State of Illinois’ dedication to creating more supportive housing opportunities, more than one-third of the total units will help veterans and people with disabilities find stability in communities.

As the state housing finance agency, IHDA awards the federal low-income housing tax credits (LIHTC) through a competitive process to finance qualified affordable housing developments. Under Governor Pat Quinn, IHDA has allocated federal tax credits generating $657 million in private investment to support the creation and rehabilitation of 8,550 units of affordable housing. With the board’s approval Friday, developers will now seek private investment for the new developments. Construction is expected to begin by next spring.

“Governor Pat Quinn is dedicated to leveraging public-private partnerships to meet the affordable housing needs of working families, seniors, veterans and people with disabilities,” said IHDA Executive Director Mary R. Kenney. “This financing will ensure the long-term affordability of apartments serving Illinois residents, helping to ease the cost of housing. These new developments also will create quality construction jobs to advance our economy.”

Congress created the federal tax credit program in 1986. Federal tax credits generate private investment in affordable housing when the credits are sold to private investors. The equity generated reduces the debt that the developer would otherwise have to borrow. As a result of the lower debt, a tax credit property can offer lower rents. Developments financed with tax credits serve households earning 60 percent or less of the area median income, or $31,860 for a one-person household in the Chicago metropolitan area and $29,400 for a one-person household in the Springfield area.

Developments approved for financing include two developments providing permanent supportive housing for veterans at risk of homelessness. Supportive housing empowers people with disabilities in communities by providing the services they need to live independently. Freedoms Path will transform vacant land at the Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital in Cook County into 72 units of studio, one- and two-bedroom supportive housing units serving veterans and their families. Veterans New Beginnings will create 54 apartments for veterans in Chicago’s Auburn Gresham neighborhood, and provide supportive services on the first floor of the development.

Housing for low-income seniors and working families also received tax credit financing, including a development of 46 single-family rental homes in East Alton (St. Louis area) that will offer a unique program allowing tenants to lease-to-own.

Source: IHDA


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Furor over paratransit ‘limousine’ comment builds by Illinois RTA Chairman | Oct 23, 2012

By Marni Pyke
The Daily Herald

The Regional Transportation Authority is expected to get an earful Wednesday from transit riders with disabilities who say they are angry and offended because of comments by agency Chairman John S. Gates Jr. characterizing paratransit as a “limousine” service.

Gates told the Daily Herald editorial board Oct. 4 that paratransit is “a limousine service, but it’s a federally mandated limousine service that we have to provide. It’s hugely expensive, but it’s something we have to do. It’s the law. It’s a civil right.”

Paratransit rider Ray Campbell of Glen Ellyn said it was anything but a limousine service.

“For one thing, it is a shared ride service, trips in limos are usually not,” Campbell said.

“Often, it can take much longer to get from Point A to Point B on paratransit than in a limo, taxi or private car because more than one person is using that vehicle to get around,” added Campbell, who is visually impaired.

Gates has received numerous complaints from riders with disabilities and was expected to offer an explanation and an apology, RTA deputy executive communication director Diane Palmer said Tuesday.

“He will directly address it and (say) he used a very inappropriate analogy,” Palmer said. She added that Gates had reached out to members of the RTA’s (Americans With Disabilities Act) ADA advisory committee and realized that paratransit is a “lifeline” allowing people with disabilities to be independent.

Former RTA ADA committee member Jim Watkins, who uses a wheelchair, said Gates needed to educate himself on paratransit issues.

“To refer to paratransit as a ‘limousine service’ shows a complete lack of understanding of what paratransit actually is ... we still have people in vehicles for longer than they should be on a daily basis,” Watkins said in an email.

Pace provides paratransit to riders in both Chicago and the suburbs. Rides cost $3 a trip and the preliminary budget for the program is set at $136 million for 2013.

Gates delved into paratransit Oct. 4 as he was explaining how the transit pie is divided with 56 percent going to the CTA, 32 percent to Metra and 12 percent to Pace. But first, paratransit is funded.

“It’s a civil right. It has to come right off the top,” Gates said. “You send out a van every time somebody schedules one. The more volume you have, the more money you lose.

“It’s not like other systems ... where the more volume you have, the more money you make or the less money you lose. That’s the issue, and as the population ages and gets more infirm, the volumes go up faster than the rest of the system,” Gates explained.

Campbell disagreed.

“Many people with disabilities use paratransit in order to go to and from work, so they can be taxpaying members of society, not dependent on others to live. They also go to school, local government programs and services, community activities, shopping, to visit family and friends and, yes, to medical appointments using this service. People with disabilities are not sick — we just have to do things differently in some cases because of a disability,” Campbell said.

http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20121023/news/710239730/

(correction to article, I was a past Chairperson of the RTA ADA Regional Advisory Committee - Jim)
###
Below is the previous post and ;

PLEASE JOIN US AT THE RTA BOARD MEETING ON WED. OCT 24, 2012, 9:00 am* THERE WILL BE GIVEN TESTIMONY DURING PUBLIC COMMENT ON CHAIRMAN GATES COMMENTS:
BY HAVING A SHOW OF DIVERSE PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES, FAMILY MEMBERS, & FRIENDS ATTEND, IT WILL SEND A MESSAGE



FRIDAY, OCTOBER 19, 2012

ACTION ALERT: RTA Chair refers to disabled as "INFIRM" and Paratransit as a "Limousine Service" - Join us on OCT 24, 2012

The Chicago Daily Herald Editorial Board, and transit reporter Marni Pyke had a meeting with Chicago area's Regional Transportation Authority Chairman John S. Gates Jr. Below is the part of the article on funding, budgets, and service. The below excerpt of the article should be of 'interest' for people with disabilities, and for those that use paratransit service for there public transportation.
###

Limo service? RTA chairman laments cost of paratransit

Article updated: 10/15/2012
Article By Marni Pyke
The Daily Herald

But before those dollars are awarded, paratransit is funded first — this year receiving about $136 million.

“It's a civil right. It has to come right off the top,” Gates said. “You send out a van every time somebody schedules one. The more volume you have, the more money you lose.

“It's not like other systems ... where the more volume you have, the more money you make or the less money you lose. That's the issue, and as the population ages and gets more infirm, the volumes go up faster than the rest of the system,” Gates explained.

“It's a limousine service, but it's a federally mandated limousine service that we have to provide,” he added. “The farebox pays 10 percent, we lose a ton of money. ... It's hugely expensive, but it's something we have to do. It's the law. It's a civil right.”
For the full article; http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20121015/news/710159935/

While RTA Chairman Gates description of 'infirm' is as disrespectful AS possible towards all within the disability community, and those that use paratransit, and is far from a limousine service, and to lead the public into blaming people with disabilities that rely on paratransit service as a major reason for the financial and funding issues that have plagued the RTA in there role. Let's be above the RTA and show respect to the process at the RTA Board of Directors meeting.

Jim Watkins
Ability Chicago

Please feel free to contact for any reason: jimwatkins@abilitychicago.info

Please repost and share this info..

# original post: http://abilitychicagoinfo.blogspot.com/2012/10/action-alert-rta-chair-refers-to.html


Saturday, October 20, 2012

Illinois Gov Quinn wants new agency to protect homebound disabled adults | Oct 19, 2012

Article By GEORGE PAWLACZYK AND BETH HUNDSDORFER — BND.com

Gov. Pat Quinn has proposed a new state agency -- the Adult Protective Services Unit -- to replace the Office of the Inspector General for the Department of Human Services, which has failed to investigate many cases of abuse and neglect that led to the deaths of disabled adults who lived at home.

"Gov. Quinn has made this a priority, has dedicated staff to the issue, and we've been busy xamining and reviewing best practices not only in Illinois but across the country," said Quinn's spokeswoman Brooke Anderson.

"We didn't want to tweak around the edges here," Anderson said, "even fixing the OIG problems wouldn't give us the comprehensive solution that the governor is looking for."

The purpose of the new unit would primarily be to prevent abuse and neglect of disabled persons age 18 to 59, and thoroughly investigate when abuse can be confirmed, especially when it leads to a death.

"We are committed to working with legislators and advocates to get this done," Anderson said.

Concern about the operations of the 54-employee, $5 million budget, inspector general's office led to a series published in late June in the Belleville News-Democrat called "Hidden suffering, hidden death." The newspaper reported that since 2003, at least 53 homebound disabled adults died shortly after being taken to a hospital emergency room following calls to a statewide hotline that they were being abused or neglected. Many of the disabled died after suffering horrendous neglect and abuse. The agency's reason for not investigating was, "The dead are ineligible for services."

The series also reported that hundreds of calls to the hotline were not accepted by the OIG, which deemed them "non-reportable," and that only a handful of adults were removed from abusive settings each year.

The articles led to the resignation in August of Inspector General William M. Davis, a former Illinois State Police regional commander, and the issuance of an executive order from Quinn directing that the agency's policies and regulations be completely revamped.

Whether the proposed unit would cost more or if the OIG's current 54 employees would be used to staff it, have not been worked out.

"This will be a broad, comprehensive overhaul that addresses law enforcement, oversight, hotline issues, etc. Operational plans are still being worked out and will be released in the coming weeks with the governor's full plan," Anderson said.

Problems with the OIG were discussed Friday during a daylong teleconference among about two dozen state officials from several agencies, legislators and advocates for the disabled.

A recent report by "special investigator" Mike McCotter, a former Chicago chief of detectives appointed by Quinn, recommended that the agency's contingent of six investigators be doubled and given extensive training. McCotter's report stated that much of the previous work of the OIG investigators could not be characterized as professional investigations.

State Rep. Greg Harris, D-Chicago, who participated in the teleconference, said much of the discussion was centered on preventing abuse and neglect and not necessaily concentrating on investigating deaths.

"Two models were discussed," said Harris, chairman of the house Human Services Committee which held an extensive hearing in Chicago in July that included the questioning of OIG administrators and Michelle R. B. Saddler, the director of DHS. The two methods were:

* Operating the new unit like the Illinois Department for the Aging, which has the duty of protecting persons who are at least 60 years old. This department pays community-based agencies to care for the elderly at home and investigate neglect and abuse.

* Continuing it as an "internal function of government" but with much stricter guidelines aimed at protecting disabled people, as opposed to focusing on investigating when they die from neglect or abuse.

Harris said that some of the teleconference participants were appalled at the suffering reported in the BND.

"They asked, "How can we have had these failings?'" he said. "Was it from too high a case load, inadequate training, inadequate supervision? Or, could it have just been from the top down? We had this inspector general, who believed that, well, they're dead, they're no longer eligible for services."

Harris said Davis, the former inspector general, also failed to make sure his agency properly reported deaths of institutionalized disabled persons at group homes operated by the now defunct Graywood Foundation in Charleston in Coles County.

"He said the law did not require us to report this horrific abuse of people with disabilities therefore we did not do it. If that's the culture from the top, then maybe at the bottom it was discouraging to the other workers," Harris said.

State Sen. William Haine, D-Alton, has followed the issue since June, and said Friday he has proposed legislation that could improve the OIG, or assist with its replacement. The soonest he could present it in the legislature is in mid November.

"I support the governor's office efforts in this regard," Haine said, although he had not yet heard of Quinn's new unit.

Haine's proposal, which he said has the support of the state's coroners and state's attorneys associations, would establish a "strict protocol" or method of operation for any agency charged with protecting disabled adults who live at home.

He said that instead of focusing on investigating the dead, his plan would encourage police officers to be called to hospital emergency rooms whenever a disabled person is brought in who shows significant signs of abuse or neglect. The proposal also would set up a network of agencies that could work together to spot and prevent mistreatment of the disabled.

"This would give them a definable mission," Haine said.

Read more here: http://www.bnd.com/2012/10/19/2366408/quinns-wants-new-agency-to-protect.html#storylink=cpy



Friday, October 19, 2012

ACTION ALERT: RTA Chair refers to disabled as "INFIRM" and Paratransit as a "Limousine Service" - Join us on OCT 24, 2012

The Chicago Daily Herald Editorial Board, and transit reporter Marni Pyke had a meeting with Chicago area's Regional Transportation Authority Chairman John S. Gates Jr. Below is the part of the article on funding, budgets, and service. The below excerpt of the article should be of 'interest' for people with disabilities, and for those that use paratransit service for there public transportation.
###

Limo service? RTA chairman laments cost of paratransit

Article updated: 10/15/2012
Article By Marni Pyke
The Daily Herald

But before those dollars are awarded, paratransit is funded first — this year receiving about $136 million.

“It's a civil right. It has to come right off the top,” Gates said. “You send out a van every time somebody schedules one. The more volume you have, the more money you lose.

“It's not like other systems ... where the more volume you have, the more money you make or the less money you lose. That's the issue, and as the population ages and gets more infirm, the volumes go up faster than the rest of the system,” Gates explained.

“It's a limousine service, but it's a federally mandated limousine service that we have to provide,” he added. “The farebox pays 10 percent, we lose a ton of money. ... It's hugely expensive, but it's something we have to do. It's the law. It's a civil right.”

For the full article; http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20121015/news/710159935/

The next RTA Board of Directors meeting is Wednesday, October 24, 2012 (subject to change)at RTA Headquarters - 175 W. Jackson Blvd, Suite 1650 in Chicago. Board committee meetings typically begin at 8:30 a.m. Agendas are posted at least 48 hours prior to the meetings. To offer Public Comment on any issue you must summit a request prior to the meeting, please visit the RTA for more information: http://rtachicago.com/

PLEASE JOIN US AT THE RTA BOARD MEETING ON WED. OCT 24, 2012, 9:00 am* THERE WILL BE GIVEN TESTIMONY DURING PUBLIC COMMENT ON CHAIRMAN GATES COMMENTS:
BY HAVING A SHOW OF DIVERSE PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES, FAMILY MEMBERS, & FRIENDS ATTEND, IT WILL SEND A MESSAGE


*This will be updated with a better idea for start times of testimony and end time so you can plan your day.

While RTA Chairman Gates description of 'infirm' is as disrespectful AS possible towards all within the disability community, and those that use paratransit, and is far from a limousine service, and to lead the public into blaming people with disabilities that rely on paratransit service as a major reason for the financial and funding issues that have plagued the RTA in there role. Let's be above the RTA and show respect to the process at the RTA Board of Directors meeting.

Jim Watkins
Ability Chicago

Please feel free to contact for any reason: jimwatkins@abilitychicago.info

Please repost and share this info...


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Jacksonville Developmental Center study was flawed : Letter to the Editor | Oct 2012

By The Editorial Board
The State Journal-Register
Posted Oct 28, 2012
OPINION


The study cited in the Oct. 18 State Journal-Register article, “Health board staff: JDC closure would hurt mental health services,” is clearly flawed. It sources an analysis by the state health facilities oversight board that does not fully take into account Gov. Pat Quinn’s commitment to invest in community living options.

This analysis is another attempt to keep institutions open and save union jobs at the expense of people with disabilities. Transitioning into a community setting offers people with disabilities the choice and freedom to live their dreams by offering them an individualized person centered approach. Closing institutions makes sense from a fiscal standpoint too because it maximizes taxpayer dollars by redirecting money from the costly and antiquated institutional system to customized community supports and services.

A May 2012 Human Services Research Institute report suggests that Illinois reduce its reliance on large institutional facilities and increase access to quality supports in the community. The report also revealed that the number of people with disabilities waiting for services has doubled since 2008. This is a disgrace. It’s no wonder that Illinois lags behind almost every other state in providing equal community supports and services to people with disabilities.

It’s time to focus our efforts on making this transition happen instead of wasting time and energy fighting a system that is clearly broken. Let’s remain focused on what’s important. This is about offering people with disabilities the same opportunities and freedoms we enjoy.

Tony Paulauski

Executive Director

The Arc of Illinois

http://www.sj-r.com/opinions/x2053814496/Letter-JDC-study-was-flawed

###

Oct 18, 2012

Jacksonville Developmental Center closure would hurt mental health services : Health board staff |

An analysis prepared by staff of the state’s health facilities oversight board finds that closing the Jacksonville Developmental Center would have a “negative impact” on some mental health services in central Illinois.

The report was prepared in advance of a meeting scheduled Oct. 30-31 at which the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board will vote on whether JDC should close, as Gov. Pat Quinn wants.

Under the heading of “State Board Standards Not Met,” the report said, “The proposed discontinuation will have a negative impact on intermediate care developmentally disabled services being provided in the service area.” The service area includes 18 counties in central Illinois.

The report noted that there are no state-operated intermediate care or developmental disabilities facilities with more than 16 beds within 45 minutes of JDC. The report found only one non-state facility with more than 16 beds within 45 minutes of JDC, and that one — Brother James Court in Springfield — is at over 94 percent occupancy.

A number of non-state facilities in central Illinois with 16 or fewer beds are listed, but most of them also are nearly full.

The closest state-operated facility with more than 16 beds that isn’t over capacity is the Murray Developmental Center in Centralia. However, Quinn wants to close that facility, too. The next closest is the Shapiro Developmental Center in Kankakee.

“From documentation received from (the state) it would appear that the state of Illinois will provide community based residential services,” the report states. “At the time of this report it is unclear who or when these alternative providers will be in place.”

In its application to close JDC, the Department of Human Services “asserts that community capacity is expanding to serve more people with developmental or intellectual disabilities,” the report said.

Rep. Jim Watson, R-Jacksonville, said he had not seen the report, but was heartened by its findings. He said it underscores the hardship that will be faced by JDC guardians if their loved ones are transferred to other state facilities.

“You’re going to be asking them to drive three or four more hours,” he said. “Some of these are older individuals and some of them are of limited means.”

“I’m glad to hear they concur with what myself and Rep. Watson and several other folks have been saying for at least a year now,” said Sen. Sam McCann, R-Carlinville.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees said the finding reinforces the union’s position as well.

“This recommendation against closure underscores and validates the serious concerns long raised by the families of Jacksonville residents and by JDC employees, but ignored by Gov. Quinn,” AFSCME said in a statement.

DHS stood by its plan to move JDC residents into community-based settings.

“The department has devised a comprehensive plan to provide needed services through the use of community-based providers that will form a network of care for residents previously served at JDC,” the department said in a statement.

The legislature’s Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability has voted to keep JDC open. However, the COGFA recommendation is advisory only. A vote by the Health Facilities and Services Review Board is binding.

But the impact of the staff report on that decision is unclear. A finding similar to that on JDC was made in a report prepared for the closure of the Singer Mental Health and Developmental Center in Rockford. Nonetheless, the board voted to let the state close Singer.

Watson, McCann, Jacksonville Mayor Andy Ezard and others plan to attend the health facilities board meeting in Bolingbrook at the end of the month. Ezard wouldn’t call the hearing the last chance to keep JDC open, but “it would be one of our last efforts. It will be important.”

article By DOUG FINKE
The State Journal-Register
Posted Oct 17, 2012

###

Nurse dismissed after death of JDC resident

JACKSONVILLE — A nurse on duty the night a Jacksonville Developmental Center resident died after choking on food has been dismissed.

Cyndi Rutledge was working on contract at the facility through ReadyNurse Staffing Services.

Contacted Wednesday, Rutledge said she had been advised not to speak to the media about the incident.

However, she told the Jacksonville Journal-Courier Tuesday she was called to an emergency in an unfamiliar area. She said that when she arrived, two JDC technicians were giving CPR to John R. Long, 69, who was choking on a donut soaked in milk. Long was taken to Passavant Area Hospital, where he died.

The newspaper reported Rutledge said her dismissal may have been because she violated protocol by leaving Long to get a defibrillator. She said she wasn’t aware of the protocol.

DHS spokeswoman Januari Smith Trader said she couldn’t comment about the incident because the Office of Inspector General and the Department of Public Health are conducting investigations.

Rep. Jim Watson, R-Jacksonville, said the administration’s haste to close JDC has “created a less than ideal environment” at the facility, but people shouldn’t jump to conclusions.

“This really could have been just one of those things,” Watson said. “I guess we have to wait until that report is done,” Watson said.

http://www.sj-r.com/thedome/x2053808603/Health-board-staff-JDC-closure-would-hurt-mental-health-services?zc_p=0

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Medicaid Matters : Harrisburg Police Violently Arrest Disabled ADAPT Demonstrators - video - Oct 2012

Harrisburg, PA. (Oct 2012) Police Assault against ADAPT Members at the Department of Public Welfare building on October 16, 2012. You can see an unidentified woman get pulled by her pony-tail over a wheelchair, and then police remove the hat of Joey Tate and also pull him in through the doors by his hair as ADAPT members shout out about being non-violent.


YouTube Published on Oct 16, 2012 by VFICIL


LEARN MORE:
http://www.adapt.org/freeourpeople/harrisburg/

TAKE ACTION:
Call PA Governor Corbett and tell him to work with PA ADAPT to implement Community First Choice. Call him at 717-787-2500.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Social Security Announces 1.7 Percent Benefit Increase for 2013 | Oct 16, 2012

Press Release
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
SSA Press Office


Monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for nearly 62 million Americans will increase 1.7 percent in 2013, the Social Security Administration announced today.

The 1.7 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will begin with benefits that more than 56 million Social Security beneficiaries receive in January 2013. Increased payments to more than 8 million SSI beneficiaries will begin on December 31, 2012.

Some other changes that take effect in January of each year are based on the increase in average wages. Based on that increase, the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax (taxable maximum) will increase to $113,700 from $110,100. Of the estimated 163 million workers who will pay Social Security taxes in 2013, nearly 10 million will pay higher taxes as a result of the increase in the taxable maximum.

Information about Medicare changes for 2013, when announced, will be available at www.Medicare.gov. For some beneficiaries, their Social Security increase may be partially or completely offset by increases in Medicare premiums.

The Social Security Act provides for how the COLA is calculated. To read more, please visit www.socialsecurity.gov/cola.

# # #

For a fact sheet showing the effect of the various automatic adjustments :
http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pressoffice/factsheets/colafacts2013.htm


U.S. Access Board Advisory Committee on Medical Diagnostic Equipment: Meeting Notice - October 29/ 30 , 2012

The Access Board’s Medical Diagnostic Equipment Accessibility Standards Advisory Committee will hold its next meeting October 29 and 30 in Washington, D.C. The Board chartered this committee to advance its development of new accessibility standards for medical diagnostic equipment which it proposed for public comment earlier this year.

For further information, visit the Board's website or contact Rex Pace at pace@access-board.gov, (202) 272-0023 (v), or (202) 272-0052 (TTY). Committee meetings are open to the public. Members of the public can follow the proceedings remotely through a toll-free conference line and online real-time transcription.

MDE Accessibility Standards Advisory Committee Meeting
October 29 and 30
Access Board Conference Center
1331 F Street, NW, Suite 800
Washington, D.C.
Note: For the comfort of all participants and to promote a fragrance-free environment, attendees are requested not to use perfume, cologne, or other fragrances.

Call-in option (listening only):
Dial: (517) 308-9365 or (888) 603-7094 (toll-free)
Passcode: 6317703

Real-time transcription:
[The link will be posted on the MDE homepage]

For the U.S. Access Board : http://www.access-board.gov/


Monday, October 15, 2012

Chicago: RTA Chairman John Gates refers to Paratransit as a 'limousine service' | Oct 2012

The Chicago Daily Herald Editorial Board, and transit reporter Marni Pyke had a meeting with Chicago area's Regional Transportation Authority Chairman John S. Gates Jr. Below is the part of the article on funding, budgets, and service. The below excerpt of the article should be of 'interest' for people with disabilities, and for those that use paratransit service for there public transportation.
------

Limo service? RTA chairman laments cost of paratransit
Article updated: 10/15/2012
Article By Marni Pyke
The Daily Herald

But before those dollars are awarded, paratransit is funded first — this year receiving about $136 million.

“It's a civil right. It has to come right off the top,” Gates said. “You send out a van every time somebody schedules one. The more volume you have, the more money you lose.

“It's not like other systems ... where the more volume you have, the more money you make or the less money you lose. That's the issue, and as the population ages and gets more infirm, the volumes go up faster than the rest of the system,” Gates explained.

“It's a limousine service, but it's a federally mandated limousine service that we have to provide,” he added. “The farebox pays 10 percent, we lose a ton of money. ... It's hugely expensive, but it's something we have to do. It's the law. It's a civil right.”


For the full article; http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20121015/news/710159935/

The next RTA Board of Directors meeting is Wednesday, October 24, 2012 (subject to change)at RTA Headquarters - 175 W. Jackson Blvd, Suite 1650 in Chicago. Board committee meetings typically begin at 8:30 a.m. Agendas are posted at least 48 hours prior to the meetings. To offer Public Comment on any issue you must summit a request prior to the meeting, please visit the RTA for more information: http://rtachicago.com/

PLEASE JOIN US AT THE RTA BOARD MEETING ON WED. OCT 24, 2012, 9:00 am* THERE WILL BE GIVEN TESTIMONY DURING PUBLIC COMMENT ON CHAIRMAN GATES COMMENTS:
BY HAVING A SHOW OF DIVERSE PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES, FAMILY MEMBERS, & FRIENDS ATTEND, IT WILL SEND A MESSAGE


*This will be updated with a better idea for start times of testimony and end time so you can plan your day.

please share this post....

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Report to Gov. Quinn finds errors in Illinois DHS investigations of death-related cases | Oct 2012

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
October 12, 2012

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — A special investigator found problems with more than a quarter of the death-related cases investigated by the Illinois Department of Human Services' inspector general, according to a report released Friday.

Michael McCotter was appointed in July by Gov. Pat Quinn to look into problems in the office after the Belleville News-Democrat revealed that since 2003 the inspector general hadn't investigated 53 cases involving disabled adults living at home who were allegedly abused or neglected and later died.

The newspaper found that the office headed by William M. Davis, who was named inspector general in 2006, was interpreting state law as barring it from investigating deaths because "the dead are ineligible for services." Davis stepped down from the post Aug. 1.

Quinn issued an executive order stating "immediate improvements must be made" in referring, documenting and following up on the deaths of adults with disabilities when abuse, neglect or exploitation is suspected.

McCotter's team looked into 72 cases and found that about 20 had errors or omissions, according to the report. In the remaining cases, McCotter found the inspector general's office acted properly and turned a case over to police.

"It was painfully apparent during this review that the investigators assigned to this unit were lacking in the area of training regarding basic investigative practices," McCotter said.

McCotter recommended the office establish a death review team made up of coroners, legal and law enforcement officials and a member from the office to review investigations involving deaths that were due to abuse, neglect or financial exploitation of the home-bound disabled.

He also suggested the department's Quality Care Board should act as a "fresh set of eyes" to review the office's investigative practices. He also says the department should use the Illinois State Police's Medicaid Fraud Unit to investigate allegations of financial exploitation, abuse or neglect.

"We will immediately review the findings and work with members of the General Assembly and advocates to implement a comprehensive solution that reforms this office and ensures all people are treated with dignity and respect," Quinn said Friday in a statement.

Among the 20 cases in which McCotter found the inspector general's office came up lacking was that of a woman who was admitted into a hospital with sepsis, which results from the body's reaction to bacteria. The woman later died. According to the report, a hospital social worker contacted the Department of Human Services about the case, but the inspector general's office did not contact her. The patient had unhealed fractures caused by blows. McCotter said the case should have been referred to law enforcement.

Another case involved a woman suffering from lung cancer who was receiving hospice care from home. Her son who was caring for her wasn't turning her in bed, resulting in bed sores. When questioned, the man allegedly said the woman was going to die anyway. McCotter said because of the son's attitude, local law enforcement should have been contacted.


Terminally Ill woman gets security pat-down at Sea-Tac Airport | Oct 2012



article By JOEL MORENO, KOMO-TV
Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A dying woman says a a security pat-down at Sea-Tac Airport left her embarrassed in front of crowds of people.

Michelle Dunaj says screeners checked under bandages from recent surgeries and refused to give her a private search when she requested one.

Dunaj, who is dying of leukemia, carried a large amount of prescription drugs through Sea-Tac to head to Hawaii for what would be one of the last trips of her life.

She called Alaska Airlines ahead of time to request a wheelchair and to ask how her medicines should be separated for the security line.

"I did everything they asked me to do, so I didn't think it would be an issue," she said.

But Dunaj says nothing went right at the security checkpoint.

A machine couldn't get a reading on her saline bags, so a TSA agent forced one open, contaminating the fluid she needs to survive.

She says agents also made her lift up her shirt and pull back the bandages holding feeding tubes in place. Dunaj needs those tubes because of organ failure.

With other passengers staring, Dunaj says she asked for privacy and was turned down.
"They just said that it was fine; the location we were at was fine," she said.

TSA spokesperson Ann Davis said "Officers are trained to perform pat downs in a dignified manner and, at any point, passengers can request a private screening with a witness present."

However, Dunaj says her request for a private screening was denied, and she does not want others with special needs to run into the same problem.

"When somebody wants to take a trip, especially what I call an 'end-of-life trip' because you want to see your family and friends, then it becomes more important than just taking a trip," she said.

Davis said it is against policy for passengers to be denied privacy if they ask for it. The agency is responding to a request by KOMO News to look into the incident.

Read more: http://www.seattlepi.com/local/komo/article/Dying-woman-gets-security-pat-down-at-Sea-Tac-3932417.php#ixzz29B7eiU11


Friday, October 12, 2012

Editorial: CTA to 'enforce' Baby Stroller policy - (maybe Priority Seating will be available again)


CTA President Forrest Claypool announced Thursday the transit agency will launch an initiative to remind passengers with strollers in tow that priority seating is intended for senior citizens and people with disabilities. (* as per federal regulations)

CTA President Forrest Claypool said he’s heard numerous complaints about strollers clogging the priority seating areas of buses from drivers and feels a nice reminder or three would be sufficient. The campaign will include handouts and additional signage.

CTA allows open strollers on buses and trains, but CTA personnel will ask they be folded and the baby held when a bus becomes crowded and warns a driver may ask riders with strollers to wait for a less-crowded bus or train.


(click to enlarge)

That comes as a less then a solution to riders like Verrone Perry, who spoke out about the out of control occurrences of open strollers on buses at Thursday’s CTA Board meeting (Oct 11, 2012).

“The baby strollers need to stop,” Perry said. “While they’re clearing the aisle with the baby stroller, there are people standing up, two to four people standing, that have worked hard all day and that want to sit down. “The drivers need to say something. Buses should not move until the baby strollers are taken down and the baby is taken out,”

Verrone Perry, thank you for your input, and the help you have done.

The 'Stroller' issue is one Ability Chicago members have advocated for CTA to return to the previous Policy of 'Stroller' must be folded before entering vehicle. While we applaud CTA President Forrest Claypool willing to acknowledge, and offer a solution he feels is fair for all concerned parties, this will be a wait and see if CTA follows through.


We as People with Disabilities that rely on the ability of being able to board a bus, not have to crawl over a 'stroller' to find a seat, or use Priority Seating, or having a bus driver tell a person who uses a wheelchair they have to wait for the next bus because a 'stroller' is in the 'wheelchair securement area' (yes this is happening).

We as People with Disabilities must hold CTA to their own Policies, and Priority Seating may be used in Chicago as it is intended to be used.

Jim Watkins
Ability Chicago
Executive Director

(above photo credit: Chicagoist/Chuck Sudo)
Video posted in memory of Harry Brooks, I know you are looking down smiling...



###
For more posts on CTA Strollers: CLICK HERE

As an ongoing effort, and monitoring the issue. If You have taken video or pictures of "Strollers on CTA" - PLEASE SEND THEM TO US - with available information such as date time, route#, etc. - WE WILL BE HAPPY TO POST - TY
send to Ability Chicago at: jimwatkins@abilitychicago.info

###


ADA Accessibility Guidelines for Transportation Vehicles

* As posted by the U.S. Access Board;
[NOTE: This document contains the Board's accessibility guidelines for vehicles which are codified at 36 CFR Part 1192. The implementing regulations of the Department of Transportation are codified at 49 CFR Part 38. Except for some minor editorial differences, they are identical and, except for the prefix, the numbering systems are parallel. For example, Section 1192.23 in this document corresponds to 38.23 in the DOT regulation.]

Subpart B -- Buses, Vans and Systems
§1192.27 Priority seating signs

(a) Each vehicle shall contain sign(s) which indicate that seats in the front of the vehicle are priority seats for persons with disabilities, and that other passengers should make such seats available to those who wish to use them. At least one set of forward-facing seats shall be so designated.

The first part of this requirement is simply a restatement of the provision of 49 CFR Part 609, in effect since 1976. The second part acknowledges that certain individuals who might need to take advantage of the priority seats have balance problems which make the typical side-facing priority seat difficult. However, this provision is not intended to require the installation of forward-facing seats where only aisle-facing seats are normally provided for everybody. Neither does the absence of forward-facing seats exempt the operator from the first part of this provision which requires that priority seats be provided, as is specified by the current regulation at 49 CFR Part 609.

The designation of an additional set of priority seats is up to the discretion of the operator. There is nothing in the provision which prohibits designation of the fold-down seats, when not used for securement. The DOT regulation explicitly prohibits an operator from requiring persons with disabilities to use such seats if they do not wish to do so. See 49 CFR 37.5(c).

(b) Each securement location shall have a sign designating it as such.

This provision simply requires that the securement location be identified by a sign. This is especially important where the area has a fold-down seat which might obscure the location or from which other people need to move when a wheelchair or mobility aid user boards.

(c) Characters on signs required by paragraphs (a) and (b) of this section shall have a width-to-height ratio between 3:5 and 1:1 and a stroke width-to-height ratio between 1:5 and 1:10, with a minimum character height (using an upper case "X") of 5/8 inch, with "wide" spacing (generally, the space between letters shall be 1/16 the height of upper case letters), and shall contrast with the background either light-on-dark or dark-on-light.

The Board acknowledges that the letter size limits the amount of information which can be placed on a sign but believes such signs should be legible to persons with vision impairments. The anticipated sign is relatively simple and can be brief. The specific letter size and aspect ratio requirements are drawn from research sponsored by the Board which tested signs of various configurations with subjects with low vision. In practice, the transit operator would probably never need to determine these measurements but would simply include them in bid specifications for signs.

While the character and stroke proportions are measured using an upper case "X", the sign characters can be either upper or lower case. Each type font has its characteristic proportions and should be calculated using the particular upper case "X". Many common typefaces comply. The Board did not attempt to list acceptable type fonts to avoid inadvertently omitting one which would comply.

The characters must contrast with the background. Generally, light characters on a dark background are preferred. While no specific contrast ratio is required, it is recommended that the characters and background contrast by 70%. Contrast in percent is determined by the formula contained in the discussion of §1192.25(b), above.

http://www.access-board.gov/transit/manuals/transit%20manual%20-%20b.htm


IMPORTANT SECURITY ALERT - phishing -Oct 2012

****IMPORTANT SECURITY ALERT****
There's a dangerous phishing email going around with the subject line:
"CNN Breaking News -- Mitt Romney Almost President."

If you receive this email, I recommend you delete the email immediately!
Inside the email are legitimate-looking links that will take you to a malicious website. This site will put a virus on your computer that leaves it wide open for hackers. They can steal your information, including online passwords and financial data.

This is a good reminder to be cautious when opening unsolicited email, especially one containing links. If you have doubts about an email, visit the site referenced in the email manually instead of clicking the links in the email.

This malicious email isn't the only threat out there, so it's also a good idea to have up-to-date security software installed. You can find great, free security software on my site at this address: http://www.komando.com/securitycenter/
Stay on your guard and have a fantastic weekend!

As posted by Kim Komando : http://www.komando.com/


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

'Chicago Stroller Showdown' - comedian Monette McLin imitates a woman riding the bus in Chicago | video

For a bit of take on reality, and a few laughs...

Monette McLin imitates a woman riding the bus in Chicago

YouTube Uploaded by TheStar1970

For more of Monette McLin, visit YouTube :
http://www.youtube.com/user/TheStar1970

FOR MORE POST ON 'STROLLERS ON CTA': click here


Monday, October 8, 2012

ComEd launches nation's first energy efficiency education program for adults with developmental disabilities

Program to hire people with disabilities as liaisons to peers

CHICAGO, Oct. 8, 2012 -- /PRNewswire/ -- ComEd today announced the launch of the first-of-its-kind energy efficiency program designed for and taught by individuals with developmental disabilities. The program is the first to be organized by a U.S. utility company.

Tens of thousands of individuals with developmental disabilities live in assisted living communities or with their families across Illinois, where many are responsible for their energy usage.

"Ensuring that all our customers have the tools to manage their energy use and save money is a priority. What better way to do that than equipping individuals to teach their peers?" said Anne Pramaggiore, president and CEO, ComEd. "We are committed to serving the communities where our customers and employees live and work and this innovative new program is an important part of that."

"My colleagues in the General Assembly and I are constantly working to help remove obstacles and make sure that each Illinoisan can live life to their fullest potential," said Rep. Esther Golar, chair of the House Disability Services Committee. "By empowering individuals with developmental disabilities with the knowledge and tools to save energy and money, they can achieve a higher level of independence and pride."

"Introducing the nation's first energy efficiency education program for adults with developmental disabilities right here in Illinois is a demonstration of fiscal and environmental responsibility," said Sen. William Delgado, chair of the Senate Public Health Committee. "Our hope is for this to grow into a sustainable program that will bring value and improve the lives of thousands of Illinois residents."

"Thanks to ComEd, this program is going to educate individuals with developmental disabilities on available low-cost or no-cost options in helping them manage and understand their energy costs and reduce their energy usage," said Rep. Mary Flowers, chair of the House Health Care Availability and Accessibility Committee.

ComEd is partnering with eight nonprofit organizations throughout Chicago that work with people with developmental disabilities, including: Clearbrook (Arlington Heights), Easter Seals Chicago, El Valor (Chicago), Gigi's Playhouse (Aurora), Lambs Farm (Libertyville), Misericordia (Chicago), Neumann Family Services (Chicago) and Special Olympics Chicago.

Each of the nonprofit organizations nominated an individual to serve as an ambassador. ComEd trained each of the ambassadors and staff from their respective organizations, equipping them to create fun, interactive demonstrations that provide easy and simple energy-efficiency tips to a larger audience.

ComEd will assist the organizations to identify existing events on their calendars or create new outreach events during the fall that allow the ambassadors to return to their organizations and share their knowledge about energy-efficiency techniques. Each participating organization will conduct eight to 10 outreach events before the end of the year.

Commonwealth Edison Company (ComEd) is a unit of Chicago-based Exelon Corporation (NYSE: EXC), the nation's leading competitive energy provider, with approximately 6.6 million customers. ComEd provides service to approximately 3.8 million customers across northern Illinois, or 70 percent of the state's population.

SOURCE ComEd

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/10/08/4891095/comed-launches-nations-first-energy.html#storylink=cpy

University of Illinois wins 2012 Barrier-Free America Award

The University accepted a 2012 Barrier-Free America Award, which recognized the handicap accessibility of campus, on Tuesday.

Brad Hedrick, director of the Division of Disability Resources and Educational Services, accepted the award for the divsion as well as Nugent Hall at the Paralyzed Veterans of America Americana Gala in Washington, D.C.

“The award was an acknowledgement of the leadership the University has shown to promote societal access for people with disabilities,” Hedrick said.

The Barrier-Free America Award, created in 2001, is annually presented to an organization or individual that focuses on the importance of accessible design for people who are paralyzed.

Nugent Hall, named after DRES founder, Timothy J. Nugent, opened in March 2010 and provides students with remote-controlled ceiling lift systems, sensor-controlled light switches, keyless entry and adjustable furniture. The University was the first to offer residential services to students with disabilities, according to a press release.

Hedrick said there are more than 1,300 students in the program and over 70 percent of those students have a disability.

“(DRES) provide(s) all of the services that are required to provide students with equal access,” Hedrick said. “The population has substantially grown over the past 40 years.”

Hedrick said the facility tries to be helpful in providing students with support groups and academic coaching.

He said DRES is known for having the first wheelchair-accessible fixed route bus system and implementing curb cuts. Delta Sigma Omicron also became the first university service fraternity and advocacy group comprised of students with disabilities with the help of DRES. The division also helped establish the first collegiate adapted sports and recreation program for students with disabilities.

According to the DRES website, students are recognized for their abilities, rather than their disabilities.

Maureen Gilbert, campus life coordinator, works on creating programs to allow students an equal opportunity to get involved.

“There are so many opportunities the students become aware of,” Gilbert said.

She said that recently the campus recreation center hired a graduate student to assist in accessibility for paralyzed students.

“This was big because the campus recreation was taking a stand because they knew it was important,” she said.

These students are making the most of their experience here on campus, too, she said. Christina Young, freshman in AHS, plays for the University’s wheelchair basketball team.

“So far, playing for the wheelchair basketball team has been the best time of my life,” Young said. “All my teammates are wonderful and they are like my new family.”

Young said the University does a good job with making campus accessible to paralyzed students through the bus ramps, accessible buildings and athletic programs offered.

“I feel as if I have the same opportunities as any other student,” Young said. “I can do anything anyone else can.”


# article by Yele Ajayi The Daily Illini | October 7, 2012
Yele can be reached at news@dailyillini.com.

http://www.dailyillini.com/article/2012/10/university-of-illinois-wins-barrier-free-america-award


Friday, October 5, 2012

City of Chicago continued crackdown on disabled-parking fraud | Oct 5, 2012

City of Chicago, Secretary of State Announce Results of Large-Scale, Coordinated Sting Operations to Crack Down on Disability Placard Abuse

Motorists Cited During Enforcement Actions Since Effort Launched in August; Goal of Operation is to End Fraud and Abuse

CHICAGO –Mayor Rahm Emanuel, in coordination with the Chicago Police Department, Secretary of State Jesse White and the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, today announced that 41 disability placards have been confiscated and 47 citations issued during 20 coordinated stings since a large-scale effort to end disability placard abuse began on August 24, 2012.

“We continue to be vigilant in our enforcement of parking laws designed to protect those who legitimately require a disability placard for parking in the city,” said Mayor Emanuel. “This coordinated effort will find and penalize those who would dare commit fraud with a fake or stolen disability placard. I am proud that we have worked with the Secretary of State to strengthen the law in this area as it is not acceptable to taxpayers who are being cheated by scofflaws.”

“Working in conjunction with Mayor Emanuel and the City of Chicago, we have enacted tougher penalties and people should think twice about parking in a space that is set aside for those people with disabilities,” said Jesse White, Secretary of State.

The alleged violators are now subject to fines ranging from $500 to $1,000. Penalties for motorists found to be fraudulently using disability placards are subject to immediate impoundment and a fine of $1,500 to $3,000 plus towing and storage costs. The owner of any vehicle that violates the proper and legal use of a disability placard is also subject to a $200 fine.

During the enforcement efforts, 234 vehicles parked in the downtown area were checked. Enforcement action requires that officers identify a motorist as they park their car to make certain the use of the placard is authorized.

“The availability of accessible parking has long been a serious issue for the disability community,” said Commissioner Karen Tamley, of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities. “Any abuse is illegal and prevents people with disabilities from carrying out their activities of daily living and limits their full participation in the community.”

“I am pleased that Commissioner Tamley is serving on our Advisory Committee on Traffic Safety to help us further crack down on fraud and abuse of this vital program,” said Secretary White.

In addition, the fraudulent use of placards also negatively impacts businesses. When individuals fraudulently use disabled parking placards all day, it reduces turnover and parking spot available to potential customers.

The strengthened ordinance passed on December 14, 2011.

# As posted by Mayor's Press Office 312.744.3334

Download this Press Release:
http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/mayor/Press%20Room/Press%20Releases/2012/October/10.5.12disabilityabuse.pdf
# # #

New Hanover Regional Medical Center to Pay $146K to Settle EEOC Disability Discrimination Suit | Oct 2012

PRESS RELEASE 10-3-12
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)


Hospital Punished or Shunned Employees and Applicants for Taking Prescribed Medications, Federal Agency Charged

WILMINGTON, N.C. - New Hanover Regional Medical Center will pay $146,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. The EEOC had charged that the center violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by prohibiting applicants and employees from working if they were taking legally prescribed narcotic medications.

According to the EEOC's lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. New Hanover Regional Medical Center; Civil Action No. 7:09-CV-0085), Elizabeth Saunders, Mary Eubanks, Allison Burge and other similarly situated applicants and employees were denied hire or placed on leave by the medical center because they were taking prescribed narcotic medications. The complaint alleged that such action was taken because New Hanover perceived persons taking narcotic medications as being disabled as defined by the ADA.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

In addition to the $146,000 in damages to be divided among the claimants, the two-year consent decree settling the suit requires that New Hanover Regional Medical Center revise its alcohol and drug abuse policy, its post-employment offer medical assessment policy and its medical examination policy. The company must also provide annual training to its managers and supervisors on the ADA and that ADA's prohibition against disability discrimination in the workplace. New Hanover Regional Medical Center must also post an employee notice concerning the lawsuit and employee rights under federal anti-discrimination laws, as well as provide periodic reports to the EEOC.

"We hope this case reminds employers that they must conduct an individualized assessment of an applicant's or employee's ability to perform his or her specific job even when the applicant or employee is taking legally prescribed narcotic medication," said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC's Charlotte District, which includes the EEOC's Raleigh Area Office where the charge was filed. "Employers should never assume that every person taking a narcotic drug will suffer side effects."

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing the nation's laws prohibiting discrimination in employment. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov

http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/10-3-12c.cfm


Thursday, October 4, 2012

State of Illinois: Job fair, disabilities expo to be held Oct. 19, 2012 in Springfield

Department of Human Services, Division of Rehabilitation Services to showcase services.

The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS), Division of Rehabilitation Services (DRS) will host a Career/Job Fair and Disabilities Expo on Wednesday, October 19 from 1-4 p.m. The fair will be held at the Orr Building on the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield. Several local employers will be there to take applications and perform on-the-spot interviews. Representatives from local universities, colleges and vocational schools will be available to discuss other educational and career options.

"This is a great opportunity for people with disabilities to be successful in the job market or explore the possibility of a career change," said Kristine Smith, acting director of DRS. "Interested job applicants should bring several copies of an up-to-date resume and show up dressed for success."

The general public (with or without disabilities) is invited. The Springfield DRS office will showcase the services that are available to people with disabilities in Illinois. Current customers are invited and there will also be counselors available to take referrals for individuals who feel that they might qualify for DRS assistance or services. DORS counselors will also be available to discuss Vocational Rehabilitation Services, Traumatic Brain Injury Program, Home Services and Blind Services.

Other state agencies participating in the Career/Job Fair and Disabilities Expo include the Illinois Department on Aging, Illinois Department of Central Management Services, Illinois Department of Employment Security and Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs.

For more information about the Career/Job Fair and Disabilities Expo, please call (217) 782-4830 or visit Springfield Job/Career Fair and Disabilities Expo.

The following is a list of participants.
Adecco Personnel Services
American Red Cross
Area Agency on Aging for Lincolnland
Avon Products
Beach Body
Beauty Control Consultants
Benedictine University at Springfield
Bethesda Lutheran Homes and Services
Camelot Care Centers
Cargill Solutions
Central Illinois Community Blood Center
Clear Point Credit Counseling
Close to My Heart Scrapbooking
Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities
Cookie Lee Jewelry
County Market
Discovery Toys
Dove Chocolates
Familia Dental
Federal Bureau of Prisons - Pekin
Hope Institute
Illinois Assistive Technology Program
IL Dept. of Central Management Services
IL Dept. of Employment Security
IL Dept. of Human Services
IL Dept. of Public Health
IL Dept. of Veterans' Affairs
IL Dept. on Aging
Just Jewelry
Kelly Services
Land of Lincoln Goodwill Industries
Lewis Memorial Christian Village
LEAD Innovative Technologies
Lincoln Land Community College
Lister Family Chiropractic
MacMurray College
Mary Kay Cosmetics
Miche Bag
Modern Woodmen Fraternal Financial
Omega Healthcare
Pampered Chef
Personal Mobility
Prudential Financial Services
Qivana Health and Wellness
Quincy University
Ronald McDonald House
Scentsy
Securitas Security
Senior Health Insurance Program (S.H.I.P
Sojourn Shelter and Services
Southern Bus and Mobility
SPARC - Springfield ARC
Springfield Center for Independent Living
Springfield Health Check
St. John's Hospital
The Standing Wheelchair Company
Thirty-One Gifts
Triangle Center
Tupperware
United Access
United Cerebral Palsy of Land of Lincoln
University of Illinois - Springfield
University of Spa & Cosmetology
Uppercase Living
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture
Walgreens
Western and Southern Life Insurance

http://www.dhs.state.il.us/page.aspx?item=57362