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

Friday, May 26, 2017

Memorial Day 2017 free meals, discounts, deals and sales, for veterans and all military, plus offers for everybody

Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States for remembering the people who died while serving in the country's armed forces. The holiday, which is currently observed every year on the last Monday of May, originated as Decoration Day after the American Civil War in 1868, when the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans founded in Decatur, Illinois, established it as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the Union war dead with flowers. By the 20th century, competing Union and Confederate holiday traditions, celebrated on different days, had merged, and Memorial Day eventually extended to honor all Americans who died while in the military service.. (Wikipedia)

Memorial Day will be observed on Monday, May 29, 2017.

"My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."  President John F. Kennedy

History of the Holidays: History of Memorial Day 

YouTube published by HISTORY Channel

Memorial Day free meals, discounts, deals and sales, for veterans and the military, plus offers for everybody.
Blue Star Museums – Free Admission to over 2,000 museums
More than 2,000 museums across America offer free admission to active duty military personnel and their families from Memorial Day, May 29, through Labor Day, September 4, 2017. There are also Blue Star Theatres, a program offering discounted or complimentary movie admission to all military personnel and their families, as well as veterans.

California’s Great America Free Admission
Opening Day through Memorial Day (March 25­-May 29), any member of the armed services, active or veteran, will receive free regular admission to the park. Plus, each military guest will be able to bring up to six additional guests at a discounted rate of just $30 per person.

Colonial Williamsburg
Colonial Williamsburg offers free admission over Memorial Day weekend, Friday through Monday, May 26 – 29. This offer is available to all active duty military, reservists, retirees, veterans, national guardsmen, and their immediate dependents.
Free Admission – Many other local places are providing free admission to active duty military and veterans this Memorial Day weekend. Call ahead to confirm. Parks, zoos, aquariums, amusement parks, museums, concerts, local events and others may also provide free admission and discounts to military family members and dependents over Memorial Day weekend.

Fogo de Chão
On Memorial Day 2017, veterans or active duty will receive 50% off of their meal at Fogo de Chão, and three of their guests will receive 10% off. Restrictions apply. Present Military ID to redeem offer.

Food Lion Military Discount
Memorial Day is a good day to buy groceries! Active or retired military personnel may receive a 10 percent MVP Military Appreciation discount on Monday, May 29th, 2017.

Hickory Tavern
Hickory Tavern is offering a free hamburger to all veterans and active duty military on Memorial Day, May 29, 2017, at all 27 locations. The offer includes a side of French Fries, Tavern Chips, Tater Tots or Broccoli. Please show valid ID.

Home Depot
A 10% discount is offered to all military veterans on Memorial Day to all veterans up to a maximum of $500. A year round 10% discount is available at all U.S. locations to active duty personnel, reservists, retired or disabled veterans and their immediate families. Must present a valid military ID. Unfortunately Home Depot does not accept state ID cards with veterans designation (some locations may). Note: Home Depot has unfortunately removed the military discount policy from their website while keeping the discount intact.

On Monday, May 29, current and former U.S. military members can enjoy a free entree from the Hooters Memorial Day Menu, by presenting a valid military ID at participating Hooters locations nationwide.

IKEA: Whether you're a service member or not, your entire family can eat for free on Saturday, Sunday, or Monday—provided you are planning on doing some shopping there. Customers must be members of the free IKEA Family program to take advantage of the deal. You must pay for your meal at an IKEA restaurant, and you'll be given a coupon with your receipt. The food total will be deducted from any home furnishings purchase of $100 or more.

King’s Island
Free admission to active and retired members of the U.S military during the Memorial Day holiday weekend, May 26 through May 29. Military who qualify for the free admission ticket include active military, retired military, National Guard, veterans with honorable or medical discharge and Reserve Officers’ Training Corps with government issued ID.

All Veterans receive a 10% discount on Memorial Day. This is not to be confused with the Everyday 10% Military Discount which is available to those who are currently serving, Retired Veterans, or VA Recipients and their immediate family. See link for official rules.

Massanutten Resort – Indoor/Outdoor WaterPark
On Monday, May 29th, Military Veterans, Active, and Non-Active Military receive free admission to the waterpark. $10 for Immediate Family Members. Present valid military ID to receive discount.

McCormick & Schmick’s Free Meal
Military veterans, active-duty, and Gold Star honorees may receive a complimentary lunch or dinner on Memorial Day. Show your military ID, and pick a free entrée off the Memorial Day Menu.

Ninety Nine Restaurant & Pub
Veterans and active duty military can enjoy a free entree from the “9 Real Size Entrées for $9.99 Menu” with every entrée purchased on Memorial Day, Monday, 5/29/17.

SeaWorld: Active-duty military can get free admission to SeaWorld and sister parks Busch Gardens and Sesame Place throughout the year by ordering them in advance. Veterans get specially discounted tickets too. Admissions must be purchased ahead of time here; they cannot be picked up at the gate.

Texas de Brazil
For Memorial Day, Texas de Brazil is offering a 20% discount on take-out orders, and 50% off dinner for veterans and active duty military. Offer is valid for up to 4 guests/table only on Monday, May 29, 2017!

Twin Peaks Eat Free
Monday, May 29, in honor of all armed forces past and present, Twin Peaks is offering a free select meal in honor of Memorial Day.

If more information becomes available, will update. - PLEASE SHARE THE POST! 

Jessica Cox Is A Disability Activist, & Pilot Who Shares Her Story in ‘Right Footed’ Documentary

Born without arms as the result of a severe birth defect, Jessica Cox never allowed herself to believe that she couldn’t accomplish her dreams. An expert martial artist, college graduate and motivational speaker, Jessica is also the world’s only armless airplane pilot, a mentor, and an advocate for people with disabilities.
 Jessica Cox in Planes Cockpit

Directed by Emmy Award winning filmmaker Nick Spark, Right Footed chronicles Jessica’s amazing story of overcoming adversity and follows her over a period of two years as she becomes a mentor for children with disabilities and their families, and a disability rights advocate working in the U.S.A. and abroad.

The multi-award winning, feature documentary Right Footed tells the story of Jessica Cox, a 29-year-old woman with a disability who, over the course of the film, transforms from a speaker and mentor into a disability rights activist and leader working on a global level. Despite a childhood full of enormous mental and physical challenges, we see how a young Jessica earned a college degree and two Taekwondo black belts, learned to drive a car and, incredibly, became the first person in the world to pilot a plane — using her feet. Jessica’s achievements launch her career as a public speaker and, as the film begins, we see her begin to mentor children with disabilities. Fueled by relentless personal drive and strong personal faith, her mission is to tell her story and spread the idea that ‘disability does not mean inability’. We see her mentoring children with disabilities and their families in ways that are beautiful, moving and effective. Soon an important opportunity presents itself, as Nobel Prize winning NGO Handicap International invites her to visit Ethiopia to promote inclusion of people with disabilities, especially in schools. Ethiopia is a place where those born with a disability are marginalized, denied an education, and viewed as cursed. Jessica appears in the media and does her best to debunk these beliefs, and works one-on-one with children to encourage them to attend school. After returning from Africa, Jessica begins to wonder whether she might make a larger impact through political advocacy. She questions how much love and personal connection can really achieve. How many people do you have to touch to really change the world?

Despite a previous disinterest in politics, Jessica transforms herself into a disability advocate — working with survivors of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, including those disabled as a result of their injuries, and lobbying Senators in Washington D.C. for ratification of a major disability treaty, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Based on the Americans With Disabilities Act, a piece of legislation that directly benefited Jessica when she was growing up, the CRPD represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to extend civil rights to people with disabilties globally.

The documentary is both a portrait of Jessica’s unexpected journey as she becomes a disability activist and a very personal story — spanning more than two-and-a-half years of her life during which time she gets married and begins a new life with her husband Patrick while also taking care of her mother Inez who is stricken with cancer. The film also reveals much about Jessica’s religious faith and the reasons that she does not see herself as a victim of her condition.

Right Footed is about the power of human will, and examines how much one individual’s life can affect people on a deeper level. It is also story about perseverance — the perseverance and fortitude of Philippine immigrant mother Inez and how she passed that capacity on to her daughter Jessica, who has overcome her limitations beyond her mother’s wildest dreams. Born under circumstances that initially appeared absolutely tragic and heartbreaking, Jessica’s story is also about our ability to heal from a great trauma, and the power of transformation — about how one person was able to convert the greatest disaster that befell her, into one of her greatest assets.

Shot in the USA, Ethiopia, and the Philippines. Right Footed examines how one woman’s determination and indefatigable effort can produce enormous change both for herself and people all over the world; worldwide more than one billion people are living with a disability. Jessica’s journey is a story about the power of faith and strength of will that will challenge the way you think about what it means to be ‘disabled’.

TRAILER: Right Footed Documentary 


For the Right Footed Documentary, visit:  http://rightfootedmovie.com/

Some Trump Supporters Are Realizing That Now He Wants To Cut The Aid They Need To Live

Krista Shockey voted for President Trump in November. Now she's one of the people who might get hurt under his plan to cut safety net programs for the poor and disabled.
Article by Heather Long for CNN Money | May 24, 2017                                                                       

Krista Shockey at Diner 23 in Waverly, Ohio. She relies on Supplemental Security Income.

Shockey is on Supplemental Security Income (SSI), a program to help low-income Americans who are disabled. The monthly payment is just over $700 a month.

"It's my only income," Shockey told CNNMoney in the fall, when we first met her at Diner 23 in Waverly, a small town in southern Ohio that's seen better days. "I couldn't live" without it.

She was stunned to hear the president wants to downsize SSI. She hadn't heard about it until CNNMoney called her.

When releasing Trump's budget Tuesday, the White House hailed it as a "taxpayer first" plan. Trump's goal is to get millions of people off welfare and into full-time jobs. For Shockey, that won't be easy.

"There's no way I could go back to work," Shockey said this week. "I've got a lot of problems. I'm crippled in my feet, knees, back, hands."

Trump has proposed dramatic decreases in funding for food stamps, formally known as the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicaid, student loans, welfare (known as TANF) and disability programs like SSI and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

"Honestly, I haven't been following much (news). I've got so much going on with my family. My mother died," she said.

CNNMoney reached out to about a dozen Trump voters who either rely on government aid to live or who work closely with the poor. Most were surprised.

Surprise at Trump's proposed cuts
For instance, America's "poorest white town" -- Beattyville, Kentucky -- voted overwhelmingly for Trump. Any cuts to the safety net would be felt acutely by its residents: 57% of households in Beattyville receive food stamps and 58% get disability payments from the government.

"I am still happy with President Trump," says Barbara Puckett, who lives in Beattyville and has been on Social Security disability since the late 1990s because of sclerosis. But she says she would worry if the budget becomes law and she loses her benefit.

For now Trump's budget is just a proposal and Puckett's benefits are still the same.

William Owens is a pastor in Beattyville. He's the type of person who pitches in wherever he's needed. In addition to leading a church and youth center, he's also a volunteer fire chief and chairman of the local school board.

William Owens is a pastor in Beattyville, Kentucky

Owens, a Trump supporter, said the president just wants the states and local governments to have more control over how welfare money is spent.

Some Trump voters embrace the cuts
What Owens is referring to is the thinking of Mick Mulvaney, Trump's budget director. A former state lawmaker in South Carolina, Mulvaney is a big believer that states are better at crafting safety net programs than the federal government.

"We would see this program come down from Washington with all of these instructions on how to use it, and say, goodness gracious, this won't work in South Carolina," Mulvaney said.

Pastor Owens has made it his life's mission to lift people out of poverty. He runs the Kentucky Mountain Mission, which has a bowling alley and gym where a lot of teens hang out after school. He can see both sides of the debate on government aid.

He grew up in an extremely poor family as one of 14 kids. They got "about $300 a month" in Social Security because his father was disabled and couldn't work. He works with families today that truly need the aid, but he also sees some that get dependent on it.

"I think some of it should go away," he told CNNMoney in January when we visited him. "I believe in a hand up and not a hand out."

Some people on food stamps do work
Tyra Johnson (photo) also lives in Beattyville. She's a 39-year-old mom who receives food stamps.

When CNNMoney reached Johnson Tuesday, she was at work. She's earns $8 an hour as a housekeeper at a hotel. She's "not earning enough yet" to get off food stamps.
 Tyra Johnson
Johnson isn't alone. Nearly a third of families on food stamps have a working member, according to an analysis of government data by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. They don't earn enough money to be able to afford to put food on the table and get out of severe poverty.

"As of right now, I don't know what I would do" if Trump cuts food stamps and Medicaid, she says. Her two children also receive government-funded health care.

'I'm still trying to process all of this'

Johnson was one of the few in Beattyville who did not vote for Trump. But she's actually doing what he wants: She found a job recently and has come off some government aid. After a car wreck, she received $700 a month from Social Security Disability Insurance for a long time. That aid is gone now, but she says she still needs food stamps.

About 44 million Americans are on food stamps today. Enrollment spiked during the Great Recession as people lost their jobs. It has come down a bit since the peak in 2013, but it's still far higher than the 26 million who were in the program before the financial crisis hit.

"Common sense dictates that programs like these return to a sustainable, pre-Obama trajectory," says Oren Cass, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.

But advocates for the poor say a big part of the reason so many people remain on food stamps now is people like Johnson who have jobs but don't earn enough to support a family.

Trump's budget isn't a done deal.
Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas has already called the plan "basically dead on arrival." Congress has the final say on what programs gets more or less money. Lawmakers it will almost certainly make changes to what Trump has proposed.

But for many in Trump country, Johnson sums up the feeling right now: "I'm still trying to process all of this."


Thursday, May 25, 2017


Our colleagues at Access Living of Metro Chicago has shared the following Press Release.
May 24, 2017---Today, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its new score of the effects of the American Health Care Act (AHCA). As expected, the updated assessment only minimally mitigates the vast damage projected by the original scoring; Medicaid remains the single biggest target of reductions within the bill. The AHCA would continue to threaten the lives of the total of more than 42 million people with disabilities across the country who rely on Medicaid, state marketplace plans, employer insurance and other options. It would cut Medicaid by $834 billion over ten years. Taken together with the White House's release of its proposed FY 18 budget yesterday, the AHCA continues to represent a full scale attack on disability rights and economic opportunity.

Overall, the CBO predicts that 14 million people will lose health care coverage by next year under the AHCA and 23 million less people will have it in 10 years than they would under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Currently, there are 28 million people who are uninsured; by 2026, that number would rise to 51 million uninsured. In addition, the plans themselves will be worse. The worst effects are for the states that would ask for waivers to no longer cover all essential health benefits, and to waive protections for people with pre-existing health conditions.

For example, were Illinois to request an Essential Health Benefits (EHB) waiver, out-of-pocket expenses for mental health care and substance abuse services could increase by thousands of dollars a year, escalating our state's mental health and opioid crisis. As a second example, people with physical disabilities routinely face exorbitant costs for habilitative equipment such as wheelchairs. Being forced to pay for this equipment out of pocket would trap thousands in their own homes.

Access Living has repeatedly sounded the warning about the dangers of the AHCA's Medicaid per capita caps, hidden discriminations against persons with pre-existing conditions, weakening of essential health benefits, elimination of lifetime caps, and more. Those who actually have non-Medicaid insurance could face escalating premiums and out-of-pocket costs for far less service. In Illinois alone, over 480,000 people with disabilities count on Medicaid to survive. The new CBO assessment only re-confirms the dangers to a health care system already stretched thin, especially in Illinois.

"Make no mistake. Reductions of this magnitude will result in deteriorating health, costly institutionalization and loss of life," said Marca Bristo, President and CEO of Access Living. "While people with disabilities only make up 15% of the Medicaid population, they account for over 40% of the expenditures. They will be hit disproportionately hard."
"People with disabilities have very complex relationships with Medicaid, Medicare and private insurance," said Amber Smock, Director of Advocacy at Access Living. "The attempt to totally reform health care in this country solely through reductions, without examining what healthcare actually does for people, can only result in economic disaster, increased levels of illness and disability, and ironically, greater costs to consumers. That's not what the public wants."
Access Living calls upon our members of Congress, our Governor, and our civic leaders to do everything they can to avert this unprecedented looming disaster.

Read the CBO release at this link https://www.cbo.gov/publication/52752.

Established in 1980, Access Living is a change agent committed to fostering an inclusive society that enables Chicagoans with disabilities to live fully-engaged and self-directed lives. Nationally recognized as a leading force in the disability advocacy community, Access Living challenges stereotypes, protects civil rights and champions social reform. Their staff and volunteers combine knowledge and personal experience to deliver programs and services that equip people with disabilities to advocate for themselves. Access Living is at the forefront of the disability rights movement, removing barriers so people with disabilities can live the future they envision. Learn more about Access Living at www.accessliving.org.

Dare2Tri Impact's Lives of Chicago Athletes with Physical Disabilities and Visual Impairments

For 8-year-old Gabrielle Sullivan, cerebral palsy is a fact of life, but it's not enough to stop her from running, jumping, biking and swimming like any other kid.

Article by Shelbie Lynn Bostedt for Chicago RedEye | May 24, 2017                                                    
Thanks to Chicago-based organization Dare2Tri, Sullivan even has the opportunity to go above and beyond a "normal kid" in these areas—she recently competed in her first triathlon with the assistance of her mom and Dare2Tri volunteers.

"Gabrielle has gotten so much more confident, in school, on the playground, in speaking to people, in answering questions about her disability," said her mother, Melissa Sullivan of Roscoe Village. "We're so proud of her."

This mini-documentary outlines the journey of four Dare2tri Paratriathlon Club athletes.
YouTube published by Dare2tri Paratriathlon Club

Dare2Tri is in its seventh year, working with people of all ages with physical disabilities or visual impairments to allow them to participate in community-based activities like 5Ks, marathons and triathlons.

The organization was founded by two experts in adaptive sports, Keri Serota and Dan Tun, and an above-the-knee amputee veteran Melissa Stockwell, who lost her leg in Iraq.

"Unlike wheelchair basketball, where you need nine other people also in wheelchairs, community-based sports are accessible to any person, disabled or not, and can participate with their mother, brother, sister, whoever," Serota said. "So we came together and decided, 'Let's get more people involved in the sport of triathlon.'"

The mission later expanded to include everything from 5Ks to marathons.

Don't worry—you don't need to be a marathon runner to be able to volunteer with Dare2Tri. The opportunities available at Dare2Tri encompass a variety of skillsets.

"Volunteers can do anything from getting lunches ready and staffing information booths to actually running or swimming or biking with our athletes," Serota said.

If you are up for a feat of physical strength, Dare2Tri also sponsors an event, Race to Raise Relay, alongside the Chicago Triathlon that pairs able-bodied athletes with a Dare2Tri athlete to split up the segments of a triathlon into a relay race.

Volunteers that aren't ready to race but are looking for a stable opportunity can sign up on Dare2Tri's website to be emailed opportunities as events become available—there's no hourly commitment required.

This summer, Dare2Tri will host three camps: one for disabled Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans in Hammond, Indiana, one for all-ages to prepare for a paratriathlon in Pleasant Praire, Wisconsin and a kids camp at 63rd Street Beach. 
For more information, visit Dare2Tri's website.
http://www.chicagotribune.com/redeye/culture/ct-redeye-do-good-volunteering-with-dare2tri-20170515-story.htmlCopyright © 2017, RedEye Chicago

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

President Trump's Budget Continues His Deceitful Attack On Americans with Disabilities

Article by Michael Hiltzik for the Los Angeles Times| May 22, 2017                                                     

We pointed out back in March that Trump budget direct Mick Mulvaney displayed an alarming ignorance about Social Security disability benefits during an appearance on the CBS program “Face the Nation.”

Now it turns out that there was method to his muttering. In effect, Mulvaney was telegraphing that the Trump White House was planning to cut disability benefits sharply. The Trump budget released Tuesday includes $1.7 trillion in cuts to major social insurance and assistance programs, including food stamps, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and Social Security disability.

Any cut to disability would be a major violation of Trump’s oft-repeated campaign pledge not to cut Social Security, Medicaid or Medicare. Trump also broke that promise, by the way, by endorsing the American Health Care Act, the House Republican Obamacare repeal plan that incorporates a stunning $880 billion in Medicaid cuts.
It turns out that Mulvaney was setting up a flagrant deception during that “Face the Nation” appearance. He asked moderator John Dickerson, “Do you really think that Social Security disability insurance is part of what people think of when they think of Social Security? I don't think so.”
Dickerson let the remark, which we described then as “a drive-by shooting” aimed at some of the nation’s neediest and most defenseless people, slide without comment.

But Mulvaney was tapping into a knowledge vacuum that appears to extend more deeply into the Washington press corps. Politico, which reports that the budget document will “avoid revamping Social Security and Medicare,” and the Associated Press, which says the budget “won’t touch Social Security or Medicare,” get snowed by the implication that a cut in disability isn’t a cut to Social Security.

A four-page “talking points” memo being circulated by the White House and published by Politico gives the game away, by stating the budget “does not cut core Social Security benefits.” (Emphasis ours.) This shows that on Face the Nation, Mulvaney was merely seeding the landscape with a rank deception.

At Axios, Jonathan Swan originally described Trump’s cuts as being “in line with his campaign promise” not to cut Social Security. Informed by Dylan Mathews of Vox that disability is Social Security, Swan at first doubled down, tweeting in response, “Isn't it [the] case that if you are disabled and have SSDI those payments end at retirement age? [W]hich is when Social Security kicks in.” (Later the statement about Trump’s promise was removed from the post and the description of Trump’s treatment of Social Security was changed to say the budget wouldn’t cut “Social Security payments to retirees.” So the dime dropped at Axios, eventually.)

Disability insurance is an inextricable part of Social Security. It’s a core part of the program, just like retirement benefits. It was created as an add-on to Social Security in 1956, under President Eisenhower. It’s financed by the payroll tax, and the reserve funds that cover both aspects of the program are more entwined than ever, thanks to a reform measure passed by Congress in 2015. Social Security’s financing structure is based on its role as a combined disability insurance and retirement program, and anyone who doesn’t know that shouldn’t be writing about it, much less managing it.

Mulvaney is merely deploying a classic divide-and-conquer strategy by depicting disability as somehow distinct from Social Security. Disability recipients have been consistently demonized by conservative politicians and inattentive journalists as layabouts and malingerers, just as the program has been described as out of control. Neither assertion is accurate, but that doesn’t stop them from being incessantly trotted out.

Mulvaney in his TV appearance invoked them again, calling disability “the fastest-growing program” and calling it “very wasteful.” In truth, disability rolls have been shrinking. That’s because the economic and demographic trends that sent the rolls higher in recent decades have ebbed, including the addition of more women to the workforce and the aging of the working population.

Nancy Altman of Social Security Works, a leading advocacy group, calls Mulvaney’s attempt to distinguish disability from Social Security “Orwellian,” and properly so. It’s nothing other than a ploy to slither out from a campaign promise that President Trump could not have made more explicitly.

One must ask: Where will the deceit stop? Trump and Mulvaney have no right to redefine the disability program as something other than Social Security. If they’re allowed to get away with it, what’s to stop them from declaring that survivor, dependent, and spousal benefits aren’t “core” Social Security benefits, and take a hacksaw to them too?                                                                                 

Chicago Divvy Should Consider Including Adaptive Cycles for People with Disabilities with Bike-Share Program

Although Rudy Winfrey says he's "blind as a bat," he regularly experiences the joy of cycling. Winfrey, a 72-year-old clerk with the Chicago Department of Streets & Sanitation, lost his sight in the 90s to retinitis pigmentosa. Andy Slater, the visually impaired musician profiled last month in this column, has the same condition.

Photo of Divvy Bikes and Chicago Skyline
Article by John Greenfield for the Chicago Reader | May 22, 2017                                                       
Like Slater, Winfrey frequently navigates the CTA, but he also often takes pleasure rides on the back of a tandem bicycle as the "stoker," with a sighted "captain" steering in front—usually his friend Jerome Hughes. Together the pair have completed five of the annual RAGBRAI bicycle tours across Iowa.

"Bicycling feels so exhilarating," Winfrey says. "I can do it without opening my eyes and seeing what I can't see. To feel that surge and that type of authority—'Look what I can do!'—it makes you feel like a superstar."

People with other disabilities can also enjoy the physical and mental health benefits of cycling by using adaptive bikes. For example, handcycles allow paraplegics and amputees to pedal with their arms instead of their legs, and adult tricycles are great for people with balance issues, such as those with multiple sclerosis. The late Sheldon Brown, the patron saint of DIY bike mechanics, got around on a trike near the end of his life as he battled MS.

However, while the national bike-share revolution has made cycling accessible and affordable to a wider swath of the population, municipal rental networks have been geared almost exclusively toward able-bodied riders. That's about to change in June, when Portland, Oregon, will launch an adaptive bike rental program as an extension of its Biketown bike-share system. Detroit is currently planning a similar approach. Local disability and bike advocates say Chicago should also get with the program and add an accessibility component to the Divvy network.

Most U.S. bike-share networks are heavily subsidized by taxpayer dollars, so advocates, citing the Americans with Disabilities Act, argue that there should be an accessibility component from the get-go. "When the city gets involved in any type of public service, they have an obligation to make sure it's accessible to people with disabilities," Disability Rights Oregon director Bob Joondeph told BikePortland last year. As was recently reported by Streetsblog USA, this became a political issue in Portland in a campaign where city council candidate Chloe Eudaly, whose son has cerebral palsy, defeated incumbent Steve Novick, who was born with no left hand or fibula bones in his legs. Before Novick lost last November, he lobbied the local transportation department to make adaptive bikes available through the Biketown system.

The city of Portland partnered with advocates and local bike shops to host an adaptive bikes clinic where people with disabilities could take test rides. Based on input from disabled residents, who said they were interested in taking longer recreational rides on trails rather than the short trips and errands on city streets associated with traditional bike sharing, the transportation department came up with a new approach. Biketown-branded tandems, handcycles, and trikes will be made available for rent at shops near bike paths, at affordable prices. The budget for the pilot project is $30,000, which is coming from the department's discretionary funds.

Inspired by Portland, Detroit plans to launch an adaptive bike rental program after its MoGo traditional bike-share system debuts later this month. The city has already held a focus group and conducted a survey to find out what the local disability community wants from the accessibility program.

So how about making adaptive cycles available for low-cost rental from Chicago bike shops via a Divvy-sponsored program?

"That would be excellent," Winfrey responded when I floated the idea, adding that it would be great if the city could help set up a network of volunteers to captain the tandems for blind stokers like himself. (He added that he's always looking for sighted people to ride with. Hit me up on Twitter if you want to get in touch with him.)

Adam Ballard, manager of organizing and policy for the Chicago disability rights group Access Living of Metro Chicago, says Portland's strategy seems to be a good one. "Our first rule is, if you're not listening to the disability community, you're not doing it right, but it sounds like Portland did it right," Ballard says. "We'd definitely support this."

Likewise, Active Transportation Alliance director Ron Burke says his organization would get behind a plan to make Divvy more accessible. "A publicly supported system should be available for people living with disabilities," he says. "We're eager to learn from the experiences of Portland and other cities that are piloting similar programs to help determine the best approach, and then work with Chicago Department of Transportation to make that happen."

Paul Kozy, owner of the eponymous local bike shop chain, with locations spread across the city from Avondale to Bronzeville, says he'd welcome an opportunity to partner with the city on offering low-cost rentals as part of the Divvy program. "It's an admirable idea," he says, adding that his stores currently rent tandems and trikes at market rates.

So far, so good. Everyone I spoke to says adaptive cycles would be a worthy addition to the Divvy fleet. The fly in the ointment, however, is that CDOT seems a little wary of the idea.

"It would be a challenge to incorporate the variety of highly specialized adaptive cycles into our automated bike-share system," says spokesman Mike Claffey via e-mail. "But we are going to continue tracking Portland's efforts as they move forward this year to see if there's lessons to be learned for our program."

Fortunately, a heavy hitter in Illinois politics just so happens to be an avid handcycle rider. Freshman U.S. senator Tammy Duckworth, a military veteran who lost both legs while copiloting a helicopter in Iraq, has used an assistive bike to compete in four marathons. Just last week she pedaled a handcycle in the ACLI Capital Challenge, a charity race in the Washington, D.C., area.

"I'm sure Chicagoans living with disabilities would appreciate the opportunity to use their city's bike-sharing program," Duckworth said in a statement. "I hope the Divvy program looks into the possibility."

Since a Wounded Warrior who helps make decisions about federal funding—including the grants that have funded Divvy—thinks making the network accessible is a good idea, maybe it won't be long until CDOT gets rolling on this. v

John Greenfield edits the transportation news website Streetsblog Chicago.

Former Massachusetts Police Sergeant Pleads Guilty to Embezzling Funds From Disabled Veterans & Running Fraud Tax Preparation Business

May 16 - A former Whitman, Massachusetts police sergeant pleaded guilty today to wire fraud, preparing false income tax returns for clients of his tax preparation business, obstructing the internal revenue laws and misappropriating funds from the accounts of disabled veterans while he was a fiduciary appointed by the U.S. Department of Veterans ffairs (VA), announced Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and Acting U.S. Attorney William D. Weinreb for the District of Massachusetts.

According to documents filed with the Court, from 2007 to 2012, Glenn P. Pearson, 61, was appointed a VA fiduciary for eight disabled veterans of the U.S. armed forces. A veteran, who has been awarded VA benefits but is unable to manage his or her funds due to injury, disease, mental incompetence or infirmities of advanced age, can have another individual, referred to as a fiduciary, appointed by the VA to receive funds on the veteran’s behalf and to manage those funds for the benefit of the veteran. Pearson used his position as a fiduciary to misappropriate and embezzle more than $250,000 in VA-issued benefit money from the accounts of several veterans.

Moreover, beginning in 2012, Pearson operated FTS Tax Services, a tax preparation business through which he prepared false tax returns for clients for a fee. From 2012 through 2015, Pearson prepared numerous tax returns that included false credits and fictitious deductions in an effort to get his clients bigger refunds than they were entitled to receive. When Pearson’s clients were audited by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Pearson took steps to obstruct the IRS—including making false statements to the IRS and preparing false documents for his clients to submit to the IRS during the audits. Pearson admitted to causing a tax loss of more than $1.5 million.

“Glenn Pearson took advantage of disabled military veterans who could not manage their own financial affairs, by diverting hundreds of thousands of dollars in VA payments to his personal benefit,” said Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Goldberg. “He then used his tax preparation business to generate more than $1.5 million in bogus refunds and obstructed IRS audits looking into the fraudulent returns he prepared. Today, Pearson is held fully accountable for his abuse of trust and fraudulent conduct.”

“Mr. Pearson abused his position as a fiduciary and took advantage of vulnerable members of our society,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Weinreb. “Our veterans deserve the best care, and we will hold accountable those who seek to profit at their expense.”

“Mr. Pearson now finds himself on the opposite end of the very laws he was once sworn to uphold,” said Special Agent in Charge Harold H. Shaw of the FBI’s Boston Field Division. “He took advantage of his position as a fiduciary to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from disabled veterans. The FBI will do everything we can to protect citizens against fraud, and stop those who steal from them.”

“The American tax system is designed to provide vital government services to our citizens, especially disabled veterans, who have paid the highest price for our freedom,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Kristina O’Connell of the IRS Criminal Investigation (CI). “Mr. Pearson took advantage of both, motivated by greed and his desired lifestyle. The IRS will use all lawful means to identify and prosecute those, like Pearson, who prepare false tax returns.”

“Pearson deliberately targeted our most vulnerable veterans – those who were unable to handle their own financial affairs,” said Special Agent in Charge Donna L. Neves of the VA Office of Inspector General (OIG), Northeast Field Office. “Fiduciary fraud, especially in this case of multiple victims, is considered a high priority and aggressively investigated by the VA Office of Inspector General because those veterans deserve protection, not deceit.”

Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 19 before Judge Saris. Pearson faces a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for wire fraud, five years in prison for misappropriation of funds by a fiduciary, three years in prison for preparing false tax returns, and three years in prison for attempting to interfere with the administration of internal revenue laws. As part of the terms of the plea agreement, Pearson will make restitution to the veterans, the VA and the IRS. Pearson also faces a period of supervised release and monetary penalties. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Goldberg and Acting U.S. Attorney Weinreb thanked special agents of IRS–CI, FBI and VA-OIG, who conducted the investigation, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Vassili Thomadakis and Assistant Chief Karen Kelly of the Tax Division, who are prosecuting the case.

Additional information about the Tax Division and its enforcement efforts may be found on the division’s website.
source: Department of Justice press release

Featured Speakers Named for Annual EXCEL Conference on Employment Discrimination Law in Chicago on June 27-29.

AARP CEO and EEOC Acting Chair to Discuss Persistent Problem of Age Bias
WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today that several nationally known authorities on equal employment opportunity law and policy will speak at the agency's 20th annual EXCEL training conference in Chicago on June 27-29. EXCEL stands for Examining Conflicts in Employment Laws.
The theme of this year's EXCEL conference is Embracing the Future: People, Purpose, Passion. EXCEL provides the employer community, in both the federal and private sectors, with tools and strategies to address emerging issues in equal employment opportunity (EEO) and foster model workplaces nationwide. EXCEL includes separate agendas for the federal and private sectors, which includes state and local governments. The comprehensive training workshops and events are geared toward EEO managers, supervisors, practitioners, HR professionals, attorneys, ADR specialists and other interested parties.
"EXCEL is the EEOC's premier annual training event," said EEOC Acting Chair Victoria A. Lipnic. "EXCEL attendees will get cutting-edge information and the latest updates on EEO law and policy issues. This conference is a key EEOC tool in promoting best practices in the workplace."
As the nation marks the 50th anniversary of the landmark Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), the agency is pleased to announce that Jo Ann Jenkins, chief executive officer (CEO) of AARP, will join EEOC Acting Chair Victoria A. Lipnic for a candid conversation about age discrimination. Jenkins has been described as a visionary "thought leader" and a catalyst for breakthrough results at the nation's largest social welfare organization with nearly 38 million members.
Other speakers include:
  • Kathleen McGettigan, acting director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), who has an extensive understanding of both the private and public sectors. She has spent over 25 years in federal service at OPM and 20 years in private sector financial management.
  • Steve Pemberton, senior executive at Walgreens Boots Alliance, the first global pharmacy-led health and well-being enterprise in the world. He is a subject matter expert on diversity, inclusion and related issues.
  • Haben Girma, a civil rights attorney and leader in global inclusion efforts.  She is the first deaf and blind graduate of Harvard Law School.
  • Sheldon Goode, director of diversity and inclusion for Oshkosh Corporation, a global company that is the leading manufacturer and marketer of specialty vehicles.
In addition, EXCEL 2017 offers three plenary sessions, two specialty tracks and over 50 open workshops. The plenary sessions and workshops provide participants with knowledge and skills to address the emerging issues in EEO, enhance their performance and meet the evolving demands of today's workplace - from harassment and retaliation to disability and accommodation. A sampling of the workshop topics includes:
  • You Measure What You Treasure: Diversity Metrics
  • Tricky HR Situations: Harassment and Retaliation Edition
  • MD-715: Addressing Opportunities for Hispanics in the Federal Workforce
  • Accommodation Outside the Office - Issues and Answers
  • Get It Right the First Time: Investigative Interview Techniques
  • Islamophobia 2.0
  • The ADEA at 50: Observe the Golden Anniversary by Avoiding the Golden Handshake
The EXCEL conference will take place June 27-29 at the Hilton Chicago, 720 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Ill. 60605. Additional information about EXCEL -- including the agenda, pricing information and online registration -- is available online at https://eeotraining.eeoc.gov/excelmain.html. Registrants are responsible for their own travel and hotel arrangements. Follow EXCEL 2017 on twitter at @EEOC_EXCEL.
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.
source: EEOC press release May 23, 2017 

Defend the Civil Rights and Access of People with Disabilities - Online Petition

The following Online Petition is posted at Change.org, Please take a minute to consider supporting.

Two bills have been introduced in Congress, that if passed, would take away some of the protections provided under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
HR 620, the "ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017", sponsored by U.S. Representative Ted Poe (TX, Republican), and HR 1493, the "ADA Lawsuit Clarification Act of 2017", sponsored by U.S. Representative Jeff Denham (CA, Republican) both contain sections which would place more limits on the ability of people with disabilities to sue if they are excluded from a building or public space due to a physical barrier. For example, "barriers" include not having a ramp allowing wheelchair and scooter users to enter a building.
The opportunity to enter public spaces and buildings such as stores and hospitals should continue to be recognized as a basic civil right. People with disabilities include many of us, our loved ones, and people in our communities. People who do not have disabilities now can be expected to live with a disability at some point during our lives.
People with disabilities need to be able to take rapid legal action when disability civil rights are ignored or violated.
Members of Congress: We need you to oppose HR 1493 and HR 620, and any other attacks on the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

Illinois Disability Rights Consortium - Special Education Law: The Year in Review on May 31, 2017

The topic for the meeting will be Special Education Law: The Year in Review. Our speaker will be Professor Mark Weber from the DePaul College of Law, one of the leading experts on special education law. With the Supreme Court issuing two disability education decisions this term, the information provided should be particularly timely.

The Illinois Disability Rights Consortium next meeting will take place on Wednesday May 31, 2017 from 9:30-11:00 (ct) at Equip for Equality, 20 N. Michigan, Suite 300 in Chicago.  A captioner will be available.
People who cannot attend in person may participate by phone by calling 800-910-8278; Access Code: 1940990

This session will be eligible for 1.5 hours of Continuing Legal Education credit. 

U.S. Access Board May 2017 Town Hall Meeting in Minneapolis

On May 9, the U.S. Access Board held a town hall meeting in Minneapolis that featured panelists from the Target Corporation's accessibility program and local speakers on outdoor recreation. The event, which was held at the University of Minnesota, also included an open forum that invited comments or questions from the public. Access Board Chair Deborah Ryan and Executive Director David Capozzi opened the meeting with introductions and an overview of the Board and its work.

The first presenter was Barry Grieve who serves as Building Regulatory and Strategy Lead for the Target Corporation. He provided an overview of the work of the company's Accessibility Team which was formed 11 years ago to promote accessibility and compliance. He outlined some of the procedures and practices that have been implemented, such as conducting accessibility reviews at the outset of remodeling projects and providing access to all store check-out aisles instead of to just a portion. In addition, Target has a Digital Accessibility Team that focuses on access to the company's website and online services. He also described related activities, including Target's membership on the ANSI A117 Committee which maintains voluntary consensus standards for accessibility referenced by the International Building Code.

Greg Lais, Executive Director of Wilderness Inquiry, followed with a presentation on access to outdoor recreation. Wilderness Inquiry is a nonprofit organization that introduces youth, families, and people with disabilities to the natural world through outdoor trips and adventures. His presentation covered accessible features at the Apostle Island National Lakeshore in northern Wisconsin and a nearby Wilderness Inquiry base camp, including accessible tent platforms, picnic tables, toilet facilities, and boardwalks. He promoted compliance with the accessibility guidelines for outdoor developed areas that the Access Board issued for federal lands in 2013 and called attention to the need for updated illustrated guides on achieving access to such sites. In addition, he recommended outreach to state student conservation corps, which help develop outdoor recreation sites, and the Corps Network on integrating accessibility into projects according to the guidelines for outdoor developed areas.

The next presenter was Elise Niedermeier who serves as the ADA Coordinator for the Minnesota Parks and Recreation Board which oversees almost 180 outdoor sites throughout the state that total over 6,000 acres. She presented examples of access improvements completed at specific sites, including a city park, a cultural and community center, a playground, and a wading pool. She also outlined a $23.6 million plan that is being developed to improve access to existing sites. Based on an accessibility audit that surveyed over 200 sites and facilities, the plan updates an earlier transition plan and would be conducted in three phases. The first phase would involve simple corrective actions, including those that can be accomplished as part of routine maintenance, while the second phase would focus on access to recreation sites that are newly covered in the 2010 ADA Standards, including playgrounds, golf facilities, sports courts and fields, and boating and fishing facilities. The third phase features more complex corrective actions that require long range planning. A report on the plan, which is currently being finalized, will be released for public comment this summer.

During the open forum that followed the presentations, the Board invited comment from the public. Members of the audience called attention to areas where accessibility needs to be further addressed, including websites, pedestrian signals, transition planning for public rights-of-ways, and outdoor developed areas. It was noted that consensus standards for classroom acoustics that were developed with support from the Access Board are now applied to new school construction in Minnesota. In addition, concerns were raised about the availability of information in braille in government offices and universities, access to paper currency for people with vision impairments, and accommodations in the workplace for employees who are deaf. Several advised that action is needed on accessibility for people with age-related disabilities, morbid obesity, and deaf-blindness.

Each year, the Access Board substitutes one of its bimonthly meetings in Washington, D.C. with a town hall meeting in a different city. Details on next year's event will be released as they become available.
source: U.s Access Board press release


The U.S. State Department’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, released annually, represent the culmination of the U.S. State Department’s review of the human rights records and situation in 194 countries around the world. The reports are a supplied to Congress in accordance with law to assist in matters of foreign affairs.
USICD has consolidated the disability references from the 194 Country Reports into a comprehensive document. Each country summary within the document is organized into four possible subheadings:
  1. Constitution and Laws: If and how a country’s constitution or laws cover disability rights
  2. Persons with Disabilities: Material drawn from the report’s section on “Persons with Disabilities”
  3. Other Relevant References: Disability highlighted elsewhere in a country’s report (e.g. overlap with the section on children, etc.)
  4. The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: The status of a country’s signature and ratification of the CRPD (Note: ratification dates are in date/month/year format)
The following condensed reports are intended to be a resource only and do not necessarily reflect an endorsement of the quality of content or perspectives contained within the reports. All content is pulled directly from the State Department reports with the exception of the CRPD status which was added by USICD staff.


Click Below to download an accessible PDF version of regional disability references, or the complete report. (CRPD ratification dates are current as of April 2017)
Africa (Sub-Saharan Africa)
Near East (Middle East and North Africa)
source: United States International Council on Disabilities

United States International Council on Disabilities appoints Isabel Hodge new Executive Director

The United States International Council on Disabilities (USICD) Board of Directors has recently announced to the Membership of USICD that our Executive Director for over eight years, David Morrissey, is leaving the organization at the end of June 2017.

David Morrissey-Senator Al Franken-Isabel Hodge.
David's collaborative style, leadership skills, and hard work will be missed by everyone involved with USICD and many in the Washington, DC community, as well as in locations around the world, all of whom have benefited significantly by their interaction with David. 

In notifying the board, David wrote,

It is the people I have been so fortunate to work with that I will miss most. Leading the organization has been the highlight of my career and an honor. Together, we developed USICD's projects and partnerships, raised our collective voice calling for disability rights and inclusion around the world, and brought people together across borders to build a global disability community. I am grateful for all of the members, friends and supporters who make this work possible. USICD's mission is important and I will always support it and remain engaged. 

The USICD Board of Directors is
 pleased to announce its appointment of Deputy Director Isabel Hodge as the new Executive Director beginning July 1, 2017 Isabel's extensive work with and on behalf of people with disabilities around the world, combined with what she has already accomplished for USICD, made her the obvious choice to work with all of us and guide USICD into its next exciting stage of development.  From her federal career at the Department of Defense and her work with Wheelchairs for Kids International, to her tireless advocacy for the United States to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Isabel's organizational leadership, financial and administrative skills, and commitment to global disability rights have shined brightly, and all of us on the USICD Board are thrilled to continue working with her in this advanced leadership role.
source: press release May 24, 2017