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

Monday, June 30, 2014

New Pace Paratransit and Dial-a-Ride Service who 'TRANSFER' TO/FROM FIXED ROUTE BUSES

as per Pace notice ...

Pace Alerts

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT FOR RIDERS OF
Pace ADA Paratransit and Dial-a-Ride Service
WHO TRANSFER TO/FROM FIXED ROUTE BUSES

 As of July 1, 2014, the paper/magnetic transfer cards are no longer available on Pace fixed route buses. However, Pace Paratransit buses will continue to issue Transfer Vouchers when used by riders who are transferring between ADA Paratransit and/or Dial-a-Ride services and a fixed route bus.

See the attached file or read below for full details on the new way to transfer.

How do I get a Transfer Voucher to ride on Fixed Route Services?
Upon boarding the ADA or Dial-a-Ride bus, tell the driver you will be transferring to a Fixed Route. You pay the Paratransit fare and the applicable transfer fare. The Paratransit driver will issue Transfer Vouchers. You use the first Transfer Voucher to board the Fixed Route bus. You use the second Transfer Voucher when boarding the Paratransit bus on your return trip.

WHEN RIDING PARATRANSIT FIRST:
Pay the $3.00 ADA fare or the Dial-a-Ride fare and applicable transfer fare. The Paratransit driver will fill out and hand you2 Transfer Vouchers.


THEN, WHEN TRANSFERRING TO FIXED ROUTE:
Upon boarding the fixed route bus, hand the first Transfer Voucher to the Fixed Route driver.


How do I use the Transfer Voucher on my return trip from a Fixed Route Bus to ADA Paratransit or Dial-a-Ride service?
You pay the appropriate fixed route fare using Ventra or cash. (The transfer fee does not apply.) When boarding the Paratransit bus, present the second Transfer Voucher to the Paratransit driver.


ON THE RETURN TRIP, WHEN RIDING FIXED ROUTE FIRST:
Pay the fixed route fare with Ventra or cash.


THEN, WHEN TRANSFERRING BACK TO PARATRANSIT:
Hand your second Transfer Voucher to the Paratransit driver.


What happens when I first ride the Fixed Route bus and then want to transfer to ADA or Dial-a-Ride service?
You will pay the appropriate fare on both the Fixed Route bus and the ADA or Dial-a-Ride bus. The Fixed Route drivers are not able to provide Transfer Vouchers. When you board the Fixed Route bus you will pay your fixed route fare using Ventra or cash. When you board the Paratransit bus you will pay the appropriate fare for ADA or Dial-a-Ride service.

For further information, contact Pace Passenger Services at 847-364-7223 or email passenger.services@pacebus.com

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For PACE Suburban Bus (& paratransit), visit: https://www.pacebus.com

U.S. Supreme Court deals blow to union for home health care workers in Illinois: Harris v. Quinn.

In a contentious decision by Samuel Alito, the court limited the ability of unions to collect dues


by SAM HANANEL, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS |MONDAY, JUN 30, 2014 09:52 AM CDT

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court dealt a blow to public sector unions Monday, ruling that thousands of home health care workers in Illinois cannot be required to pay fees that help cover the union’s costs of collective bargaining.
In a 5-4 split along ideological lines, the justices said the practice violates the First Amendment rights of nonmembers who disagree with the positions that unions take.
The ruling is a setback for labor unions that have bolstered their ranks — and bank accounts — in Illinois and other states by signing up hundreds of thousands of in-home care workers. It could lead to an exodus of members who will have little incentive to pay dues if nonmembers don’t have to share the burden of union costs.
But the ruling was limited to this particular segment of workers — not private sector unions — and it stopped short of overturning decades of practice that has generally allowed public sector unions to pass through their representation costs to nonmembers.
Writing for the court, Justice Samuel Alito said home care workers are different from other types of government employees because they work primarily for their disabled or elderly customers and do not have most of the rights and benefits of state employees.
The case involves about 26,000 Illinois workers who provide home care for disabled people and are paid with Medicaid funds administered by the state. In 2003, the state passed a measure deeming the workers state employees eligible for collective bargaining.
A majority of the workers then selected a union to negotiate with the state to increase wages, improve health benefits and set up training programs. Those workers who chose not to join the union had to pay proportional “fair share” fees to cover collective bargaining and other administration costs.
A group of workers led by Pamela Harris — a home health aide who cares for her disabled son at home — filed a lawsuit arguing the fees violate the First Amendment. Backed by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, the workers said it wasn’t fair to make someone pay fees to a group that takes positions the fee-payer disagrees with.
The workers argue they are not government employees capable of being unionized in the traditional sense. They are different, they say, because they work in people’s homes, not on government property, and are not supervised by other state employees.
The workers had urged the justices to overturn a 1977 Supreme Court decision which held that public employees who choose not to join a union can still be required to pay representation fees, as long as those fees don’t go toward political purposes. They say the union is not merely seeking higher wages, but making a political push for expansion of Medicaid payments.
Alito said the court was not overturning that case, Abood v. Detroit Board of Education. That case, he said, is confined “to full-fledged state employees.”
Justice Elena Kagan wrote the dissent for the four liberal justices. Kagan said the majority’s decision to leave the older case in place is “cause for satisfaction, though hardly applause.”
The state had argued that home health care workers are the same as other public workers because Illinois sets their salaries and any dispute over pay must be worked out with the state. Illinois says it has an interest in bargaining with a single representative as it does with other types of public workers.
A federal district court and the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had rejected the lawsuit, citing the high court’s precedent.
Nine other states have allowed home care workers to join unions: California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Oregon, Vermont and Washington.
#####

FOR MORE ON 'HARRIS v. QUINN' : CLICK HERE

FCC to Host Free Event on Making Social Media Accessible for People with Disabilities - July 17 - webcast

The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Accessibility and Innovation Initiative is hosting an event called "Accessing Social Media" on July 17, 2014 from 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM EDT at the FCC Headquarters in Washington, DC. The event is free and open to the public. Representatives from government agencies, disability advocacy groups, technology companies and members of the public will discuss tools and best practices for making social media accessible. RSVP to AccSocMedia@fcc.gov, or watch the event live via webcast on July 17. After the event there will be demonstrations of accessible technology solutions in the FCC's Technology Experience Center.

Friday, June 27, 2014

What Autism Looks Like Around The World, 10 Striking Photos

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please share comments below on your thoughts.

The Huffington Post | By Mandy Velez | June 24, 2014

Photographer Debbie Rasiel spent two years taking pictures of children with autism spectrum disorders all over the world. She discovered that "while living conditions, resources and treatment vary by region, autism presents the same."
Mother to a 23-year-old with autism, the New York-based documentary photographer started her project because of a desire to bridge the gap between two of the things she's most familiar with: autism and art.
"I wanted to offer those not familiar with autism an opportunity to see what autism looks like, a safe space where social mores would not prevent them from staring," Rasiel told The Huffington Post.
Her project, titled "Picturing Autism," was recently exhibited at the SOHO20 Chelsea Gallery in Manhattan. The stunning photos of children with ASD from areas of New York, Mexico, Peru, Indonesia and Iceland are still available on Rasiel's website.
Rasiel connected with many of her international subjects through the Global Autism Project, an organization that provides services to individuals with autism worldwide. She met others through families who needed a photographer for personal portraits. But with each of her photo shoots came newfound awareness of what autism means to each community.
"No matter the cultural experience or socioeconomic divide, the educational circumstance or language barrier, everything falls away when two mothers talk about their concern for their children's future," she said.
Check out some of the "Picturing Autism" photos below and see Rasiel's website for more.


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    Debbie Rasiel
    Lima, Peru
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    Debbie Rasiel
    Oaxaca, Mexico
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    Debbie Rasiel
    Oaxaca, Mexico
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    Debbie Rasiel
    Harlem, New York City
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    Debbie Rasiel
    Cuzco, Peru
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    Debbie Rasiel
    Jakarta, Indonesia
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    Debbie Rasiel
    Reykjavik, Iceland
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    Debbie Rasiel
    Cuzco, Peru
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    Debbie Rasiel
    Queens, New York
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    Debbie Rasiel
    Árskógssandur, in DalvíkurbyggĂ° north of Iceland
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/24/picturing-autism-debbie-raisel-captures-what-autism-looks-like_n_5522468.html

The Disability Equality Index Survey Unveiled in Preparation for October 2014 Launch - PRESS RELEASE AAPD

as shared by the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD)*...

American Association of People with Disabilities
PRESS RELEASES

DISABILITY EQUALITY INDEX SURVEY UNVEILED IN PREPARATION FOR OCTOBER 2014 LAUNCH


Washington, DC (June 26, 2014) – Today, the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) and the US Business Leadership Network® (USBLN®) unveiled the first Annual Disability Equality IndexSM (DEISM). Created by the DEI Advisory Committee, a diverse group of business leaders, policy experts, and disability advocates, the DEI is an online benchmarking tool that offers businesses the opportunity to receive an objective score, on a scale of zero to 100, on their disability inclusion policies and practices. The first Annual DEI is scheduled to launch in October 2014.

The DEI is a joint initiative of AAPD and the USBLN. It is an aspirational, educational, recognition tool that is intended to help companies identify opportunities for continued improvement on their disability inclusion policies and practices, as well as help build a company’s reputation as an employer of choice. The DEI was successfully piloted with 48 Fortune 1000 scope companies in early 2014.

Companies that take the DEI will self-report on a wide-range of criteria within four categories: Culture & Leadership, Enterprise-Wide Access, Employment Practices, and Community Engagement & Support Services.
“As the 24th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) approaches in July 2014, we are excited to be preparing for the launch of the first Annual DEI to Fortune 1000 companies,” said Mark Perriello, President and CEO of AAPD. “Today is an exciting and seminal moment for both the business and disabilities communities. We are one step closer to launching this ground-breaking tool – a tool that many corporations have already embraced, and in doing so, will lead to increased employment opportunities and improved employment outcomes for people with disabilities,” said Helena Berger, former Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of AAPD, and Co-Chair of the DEI Advisory Committee.

“The feedback from business about the DEI has been overwhelmingly positive. We are excited and looking forward to working with employers that participate in the first Annual DEI in October. We released the first Annual DEI survey questions publicly today to give companies several months notice of what the survey consists of before they opt to participate in the October launch,” said Jill Houghton, Executive Director of the USBLN. “For companies committed to full inclusion of people with disabilities – as employees, customers and suppliers -- the DEI is a tremendous tool to measure and recognize the company’s progress … but also to help them achieve more. It allows well-meaning businesses to be highlighted for their good practices, while still encouraging all participants to raise the bar,” said Keith Wiedenkeller, former Chief People Officer of AMC Theatres, and Co-Chair of the DEI Advisory Committee.

AAPD and the USBLN will invite Fortune magazine’s 1,000 largest publicly-traded businesses (the Fortune 1000) to participate in the first Annual DEI. Other companies or organizations that are welcome to participate in the DEI include the following, providing they have 3,000 or more full-time employees in the U.S.:

AAPD and the USBLN will invite Fortune magazine’s 1,000 largest publicly-traded businesses (the Fortune 1000) to participate in the first Annual DEI. Other companies or organizations that are welcome to participate in the DEI include the following, providing they have 3,000 or more full-time employees in the U.S.:

Private sector employers that are not owned by a larger U.S. incorporated entity
Businesses that serve as the U.S. subsidiary of a foreign-based multinational business
Foreign-owned private companies on behalf of their U.S. operations

To view the DEI survey or for more general information about DEI, please visit: www.neweditions.net/DEI/

About the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD)

The American Association of People with Disabilities is the nation's largest disability rights organization. AAPD promotes equal opportunity, economic power, independent living, and political participation for people with disabilities. AAPD’s members, including people with disabilities and family, friends, and supporters, represent a powerful force for change. To learn more, visit the AAPD Web site: www.aapd.com.


About the US Business Leadership Network® (USBLN®)

The US Business Leadership Network® (USBLN®) is a national non-profit that helps business drive performance by leveraging disability inclusion in the workplace, supply chain, and marketplace. The USBLN® serves as the collective voice of over 50 Business Leadership Network affiliates across the United States, representing over 5,000 businesses. Additionally, the USBLN® Disability Supplier Diversity Program® (DSDP) is the nation’s leading third party certification program for disability-owned businesses, including businesses owned by service-disabled veterans. www.usbln.org

# # #

*The American Association of People with Disabilities is the nation's largest disability rights organization. We promote equal opportunity, economic power, independent living, and political participation for people with disabilities. Our members, including people with disabilities and our family, friends, and supporters, represent a powerful force for change. To learn more, visit the AAPD Web site: www.aapd.com.

FDA approves ReWalk exoskeleton - that lets paraplegics walk again

rewalker-radi-rehacare-2012-duesseldorf-germany.jpg
A man uses the ReWalk system.Argo Medical Technologiesby Dara Kerr | CNET | June 26, 2014

Following the EU's lead, the US finally allows people with spinal cord injuries to buy the motorized system that lets them independently stand upright, turn, and walk.

The ReWalk exoskeleton has helped countless paraplegics be able to walk again. But, until now, not just anybody in the US could buy one. That's because the US Food and Drug Administration hadn't given full approval for its use. However, the government announced Thursday that ReWalk has finally won FDA clearance.
"Innovative devices such as ReWalk go a long way towards helping individuals with spinal cord injuries gain some mobility," Christy Foreman, director of the Office of Device Evaluation for the FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health, said in a statement. "Along with physical therapy, training and assistance from a caregiver, these individuals may be able to use these devices to walk again in their homes and in their communities."
According to the FDA, about 200,000 people in the US have spinal cord injuries, many of whom have partial or complete paraplegia.
ReWalk exoskeletons work by attaching a wearable motorized brace to users, which they can control with a computer and motion sensors. This system lets paraplegics independently stand upright, turn, and walk, while also using crutches. Such movement gives people with spinal cord injuries added health benefits such as cardiovascular improvements, loss of fat tissue, and muscle gain.
The exoskeleton, which is made by Argo Medical Technologies, was created by an Israeli inventor named Amit Goffer. He became a quadriplegic after an ATV accident in 1997, which spurred him to begin working on mobility devices for people with spinal cord injuries.

"I see this as a milestone for people in my same situation who will now have access to this technology -- to experience walking again, and all of the health benefits that come with ReWalking," Herrera said in a statement. "It will be incredible for me to regain independence, to use the system to walk and stand on my own."Hundreds of people have tried out ReWalk since its inception. In 2012, Claire Lomas, a paralyzed British woman, walked the London marathon using the exoskeleton. And, Derek Herrera, a captain in the US Marine Corps, was also able to walk again using the system. He will be one of the first people in the US to own ReWalk under the FDA's new clearance.
Up until now, ReWalk was only approved in the US for rehabilitation centers. ReWalk was given approval in the European Union in 2012. The system costs roughly $70,000 in the EU and presumably it will cost around the same in the US.
"This revolutionary product will have an immediate, life-changing impact on individuals with spinal cord injuries," ReWalk Robotics CEO Larry Jasinski said in a statement. "For the first time individuals with paraplegia will be able to take home this exoskeleton technology, use it every day and maximize on the physiological and psychological benefits."
http://www.cnet.com/news/fda-clears-rewalk-exoskeleton-that-lets-paraplegics-walk-again/
RELATED CNET STORIES

Thursday, June 26, 2014

U.S. 'Special Education' services face tighter oversight by the Obama administration, where does your state stand

File: U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan. On Tuesday, he announced tighter oversight of oversight of the way states educate special-needs students. (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

BY LYNDSEY LAYTON | The Washington Post | June 24, 2014

The Obama administration is tightening its oversight of the way states educate special-needs students, applying more- stringent criteria that drop the number of jurisdictions in compliance with federal law from 38 to 15.
Under the new criteria, Maryland is among the states that no longer meet federal requirements, joining the District, which has been out of compliance for the past eight years. Virginia meets the demands of federal law under the new rules.
Congress has guaranteed severely disabled students the right to a “free and appropriate” education since 1975. The 1990 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires public schools to meet the educational needs of students with disabilities, an estimated 7 million students.
The federal Education Department distributes $11.5 billion annually to states to help pay for special education and monitors their performance.
Until now, the agency considered whether states evaluated students for special needs in a timely manner, whether they reported information to the federal government and met other procedural benchmarks.

The U.S. Department of Education altered its criteria today for determining whether states are doing enough to meet the educational needs of students with disabilities.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Tuesday that his department for the first time will also consider outcomes: How well special-education students score on standardized tests, the gap in test scores between students with and without disabilities, the high school graduation rate for disabled students and other measures of achievement.
“Every child, regardless of income, race, background, or disability, can succeed if provided the opportunity to learn,” Duncan told reporters. “We know that when students with disabilities are held to high expectations and have access to the general curriculum in the regular classroom, they excel.”
Less than 10 percent of eighth-graders receiving special-education services are proficient in reading, Duncan said.
“Compliance with procedural requirements . . . is important, but it is not enough,” Duncan said. “It’s not enough for a state to be compliant if students can’t read or do math at a level sufficient to graduate from high school.”
To calculate how states stack up under the new criteria, the department is using a complex matrix that weighs several factors, including how well students with disabilities perform on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, a test the federal government gives to a sampling of students in every state every two years.
NAEP is designed to offer a snapshot of academic performance. This marks the first time the government has tied NAEP scores to consequences.
Duncan brushed aside the suggestion that the new approach adds to a climate of high-stakes standardized testing. “I wouldn’t call it high-stakes,” he said.
Federal officials also will be looking at the number of students with disabilities who take state standardized tests.
Last year, Maryland led the nation in the percentage of special-education students it excluded from the NAEP. In 2013, Maryland excluded 66 percent of special-needs students from the fourth-grade reading test and 60 percent from the eighth-grade reading test.
In its placing Maryland in the “needs assistance’ category, federal officials have directed the state to seek help from the federal agency and to craft a plan for improving performance. Officials at the Maryland State Department of Education could not be reached for comment.
Under IDEA, the Education Department is required to annually sort jurisdictions into four categories: meets requirements, needs assistance, needs intervention or needs substantial intervention.
If a state needs assistance for two years in a row, IDEA requires the department to order the state to obtain technical assistance or label the state “high-risk,” which means federal dollars could be withheld.
The department has never withheld federal dollars to educate special-needs students, said Michael Yudin, acting assistant secretary for special education and rehabilitative services.
But in cases of noncompliance, it has told states how to use some of their funds. That has been the case in the District, which federal officials have labeled a “high-risk” jurisdiction for its failure to meet special-education laws, a designation that triggers tighter federal controls.
Yudin said the District “has made pretty significant progress” but is still struggling. “They were in the tank a number of years ago and, frankly, they are significantly better,” he said. “There’s been significant improvement in D.C.’s compliance. But for the first time, today we’re also looking at outcomes, and unfortunately they haven’t made the same kind of progress.”
On Tuesday, a spokesman for the District’s Office of the State Superintendent of Education touted the city’s progress in educating special-needs students. Spokesman Briant Coleman said the office supports federal accountability and shares a “sense of urgency as we work to ensure that youth with disabilities in D.C. receive a high-quality education and are prepared for full and productive lives.”
D.C. Council member David A. Catania (I-At Large), chairman of the Education Committee, has said special education is in crisis in the District. Catania, who is running for mayor, says the achievement gap between special-education students and others has been growing and that special-needs students should get more services. He has introduced several bills regarding special education that will be the subject of hearings this week.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/states-special-education-services-face-tighter-oversight-by-the-obama-administration/2014/06/23/a103031e-fb36-11e3-b1f4-8e77c632c07b_story.html
Lyndsey Layton has been covering national education since 2011, writing about everything from parent trigger laws to poverty’s impact on education to the shifting politics of school reform.

Illinois Gov Quinn Signs Anti-Bullying Legislation, will help protect Illinois students

 PRESS RELEASE
June 26, 2014

New Law Cracks Down on Bullying, Helps Protect All Illinois Students
CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn today signed legislation to crack down on bullying in Illinois. The bill will help protect Illinois students from bullying both inside and outside the classroom. Today’s action is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to ensure the safety of students in every community across Illinois.

“Intimidation and fear have no place in Illinois’ schools,” Governor Quinn said. “Every student in Illinois deserves to go to a school where they feel comfortable and safe. This new law is for all students who have been bullied but didn't know where to turn. Our schools will now set comprehensive anti-bullying standards for all districts so we can help students succeed inside and outside the classroom.”

House Bill 5707, sponsored by State Representative Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) and State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago), requires all public schools to develop and implement an anti-bullying policy.
The policy must include a definition of bullying, procedures for the reporting of bullying, parental notification, the investigation of reports of bullying and actions that may be taken to address bullying. The new law is effective immediately.

“I heard from parents all over the state whose kids had been bullied and they had gotten no support from schools,” Representative Cassidy said. “It’s clear we were not doing enough, and this new law is a major step in the right direction.”

“Schools must give more than lip service to protecting kids. Learning can’t take place in an environment where students are not taught and expected to treat one another with respect,” Senator Steans said. “Students need to know where to go for help when they are bullied, and they need assurance that adults at school will support them and work to resolve the issue.”

Governor Quinn has taken a strong stance against bullying. He has signed legislation that expands the definition of bullying, requires gang prevention training in Illinois schools and created the School Bullying Prevention Task Force to examine the causes of bullying. The Governor also signed a law that allows the Chicago Board of Education to develop a program that establishes common bonds between youth of different backgrounds and ethnicities. The program may be modeled after the Challenge Day organization which has a mission to address issues like bullying.

http://www3.illinois.gov/PressReleases/PressReleasesListShow.cfm?RecNum=12371

Special needs girl kicked out of AMC movie theater for laughing, mom says

POSTED, JUNE 26, 2014, BY 



A mother in La Puente, Calif., claimed her family was kicked out of an AMC movie theater in Industry because of her special-needs daughter’s laughter.
The Schreurs family took 10-year-old Destiny to see “The Fault in Our Stars” at the AMC Puente Hills 20 on Monday night.
About 20 minutes into the film, Marji Schreurs said family members were approached by a theater employee who asked them to keep the girl quiet.
“She wasn't screaming,” Schreurs said. “She wasn't having a meltdown. She was laughing.”
After exchanging words with the manager, Schreurs said the family was asked to leave.
AMC Theatres’ spokesman Ryan Noonan issued a statement to KTLA regarding the incident.
“On Monday evening, a theatre manager received complaints from two guests about disruptive behavior during a movie. The manager stepped into the auditorium to observe the situation, identified prolonged disruptive behavior, waited to see if the behavior would cease, and when it did not, approached the guests. The manager explained our policy about making noise that disrupts others during the movie. At that time the guest asked for a refund, which was provided.”
Family members believed Destiny was treated unfairly.
“She deserves to be able to laugh just like anybody else,” Schreurs said.
TM & © 2014 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

U.S Senate Supporters Call for the Ratification of Disability Treaty (CRPD) Following Supreme Court Bond Case Decision

as shared by U.S. International Council on Disabilities ...



Ithe CRPD Support logo with We support instead of I support Following the United States Supreme Court's ruling in Bond v. United States earlier this month, U.S. Senators Mark Kirk (R-IL), John McCain (R-AZ), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and John Barrasso (R-WY) released the below statement.  Bond v. U.S. dealt with a federal statute challenge of the Chemical Weapons Convention, which was enacted after the Convention itself was ratified.

"The Supreme Court's unanimous ruling in Bond is a positive development that should clear the way for Senate action on the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities - CRPD. The Court has made it clear that the Bond case should not in any way impede the ratification of the CRPD, and that the Senate can provide advice and consent to this important treaty while preserving American sovereignty and maintaining our Constitution's balance of powers between the Federal government and the States. The CRPD will ensure that our wounded warriors and disabled citizens are entitled to the same rights and protections around the world that they enjoy here at home. We hope our Senate colleagues will join us to ratify the CPRD as soon as possible."

In addition, you can view Senator Harkin's (D-IA) statement here, as well as Senator Menendez's (D-NJ) statement here

To echo this call to action to YOUR Senator, visit www.disabilitytreaty.org.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Illinois Improves Access to Mental Health Care, Allowing Clinical Psychologists to Write Prescriptions

PRESS RELEASE
June 25, 2014
Governor Quinn Signs Law to Improve Access to Mental Health Care
Illinois Becomes Third State in the Nation Allowing Clinical Psychologists to Write Prescriptions
CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn today signed legislation to improve access to mental health care by allowing certain clinical psychologists to write prescriptions for their patients. The new law requires clinical psychologists to meet high education and training standards before applying for a license to prescribe medicine. Illinois is now the third state, along with New Mexico and Louisiana, which allow patients to get necessary medication from a psychologist. Today’s action is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to ensure all people have access to quality healthcare and improve the health and well-being of the people of Illinois.

“We have to make sure people across Illinois can be properly cared for by a medical professional they know and trust,” Governor Quinn said. “If someone needs help and lives on a budget, they shouldn’t have to make multiple appointments or travel far and wide to get a prescription. This new law will improve access to mental health care by cutting down the number of doctors that patients need to see in order to get their medicine.”

Senate Bill 2187, sponsored by State Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) and State Representative John Bradley (D-Marion), creates a Prescribing Psychologist license that may be issued by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR). This license may be issued to a licensed, doctoral level psychologist who has undergone specialized training, passed an examination and has entered into a written collaborative oversight agreement with a licensed physician. The psychologist may only prescribe medications to treat the mental illnesses of his or her patients who are between the ages of 17 and 65.

Under the previous law, clinical psychologists could provide mental health services to patients but were not able to write prescriptions. Typically, an individual sees a psychologist (a Ph.D.) for therapy and a psychiatrist (an M.D.) for their medication. The training requirements for prescribing psychologists under the new law mirror those of advanced practice nurses and physician assistants. The new is effective immediately.

"Southern Illinois has a limited number of psychiatrists, and allowing psychologists to prescribe certain medications only increases access to medical care and creates more opportunities for citizens to seek necessary treatment," Representative Bradley said.

“The unfortunate truth is that there aren’t enough psychiatrists in Illinois to meet our state’s needs,” Senator Harmon said. “Giving psychologists limited authority to prescribe medicine, in consultation with medical doctors, should help us fill our system’s current gaps.”

Governor Quinn has long supported affordable and effective healthcare for all. He signed a law in 2010 to expand needed access to dental services by allowing licensed dentists to provide volunteer care at a nonprofit health clinic, which can then receive payments from the state. The clinics can use the Medicaid funding to pay for dental care costs such as equipment and supplies. The law will help encourage more dentists to treat low-income families throughout Illinois.

Also under Governor Quinn’s leadership, Illinois proposed a five-year plan to transform the state’s healthcare system, including strengthening the state’s healthcare workforce, to meet the needs of Medicaid beneficiaries. If approved, the proposal would allow the state to obtain $5.2 billion in federal matching funds over five years to implement the plan.

Governor Quinn has signed multiple pieces of legislation to clarify and expand the scope of practice for certain healthcare professionals in order to ensure that Illinois residents have access to the healthcare they need. He also supports efforts to streamline and expedite veteran applications for professional licenses to
benefit military families seeking employment and consumers seeking access to qualified healthcare professionals.

http://www3.illinois.gov/PressReleases/PressReleasesListShow.cfm?RecNum=12370

U.S. Education Dept. issues new Students with Disabilities rules

By KIMBERLY HEFLING
AP Education Writer | 
June 24, 2014 
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Education Department announced Tuesday that it will begin to look at graduation rates, test scores and other measures of academic performance to help determine if states are meeting the needs of students with disabilities.
The department called the change a "major shift" in the way it assesses special education programs, since such benchmarks weren't stringently applied to special education students previously. An estimated 6.5 million children and youth have such disabilities, the department said, and have lower graduation rates overall and don't do as well on average in reading and math as their peers.
"We know that when students with disabilities are held to high expectations and have access to the general curriculum in the regular classroom, they excel," said Education Secretary Arne Duncan. "We must be honest about student performance, so that we can give all students the supports and services they need to succeed."
States that fail to meet the more stringent benchmarks for three or more years could face the loss of some of their federal funding for special education.
Under the old system, 41 states and territories met the requirements, which focused more on meeting procedural requirements. But this year under the new ones, only 18 did so, the department said.
Bill East, executive director of the National Association of State Directors of Special Education, said directors have been seeking a system focused more on student learning and outcomes. He said the decline in states meeting the requirement was expected, but he anticipates it will go back up as states take measures such as targeting districts with low graduation rates for special education students.
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