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

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

U.S. Presidents with Disabilities

Our nation has had a distinguished line of presidents with a variety of visible and non-visible disabilities, from epilepsy to hearing impairments to learning disabilities
U,S, Presidents speaking publicly about their disability was discouraged during their lifetime. 
On President's Day (and everyday) we honor them for overcoming the challenges they faced as individuals with disabilities and for leading and serving our country. 
William Jefferson Clinton, 1946- (hearing impairment)
42nd President of the United States (1992-2000); wears hearing aids.
Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1890-1969 (learning disability)
34th President of the United States (1953-1960); leader of the victorious Allied forces in Europe during World War II.
Thomas Jefferson, 1743-1826 (learning disability)
3rd President of the United States (1801-1809); author of the Declaration of Independence; remembered as a great president, a diplomat, political thinker, and founder of the Democratic Party; reported to have many learning difficulties.
John F. Kennedy, 1917-1963 (learning disability, chronic back pain)
35th President of the United States (1960-1963); the youngest man ever elected President and the youngest ever to die in office;  won world respect as the leader of the Free World.
Abraham Lincoln, 1809-1865 (major depression)
16th President (1860-1863); suffered from severe, incapacitating, and occasional suicidal depression; also thought to have Marfan Syndrome.
James Madison, 1751-1836 (epilepsy)
4th President (1809-1817); drafted the Bill of Rights; often referred to as the Father of the Constitution; played a leading role in the Constitutional Convention of 1787 where he helped design the checks and balances system that equalizes the roles of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government; also created the federal system.
Ronald Reagan, 1911-2004 (hearing impairment)
40th President of the United States (1980-1988); also served two terms as governor of California; in 1932 became a radio announcer for WOC in Davenport, Iowa and later WHO in Des Moines, Iowa; in 1937 he signed a contract with Warner Brothers and his first film was “Love is on the Air.”
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1882-1945 (polio)
32nd President of the United States (1933-1945); promised to create jobs for the unemployed and gave assistance to those in need; suffered with polio and worked very hard to hide the extent of his disability.
Theodore Roosevelt, 1858-1919 (visual impairment)26th President of the United States (1901-1909); founder of the Progressive Party; an avid boxer, he suffered a severe blow to the head that detached his retina and led to blindness in the affected eye. 
George Washington, 1732-1799 (learning disability)
1st President of the United States (1789-1797); was unable to spell throughout his life and his grammar usage was very poor; thought to have learning disabilities.
Woodrow Wilson, 1856-1924 (learning disability)
28th President of the United States (1913-1921); had a stroke toward the end of his term that left him partially paralyzed; known to have a dyslexia; World War I leader awarded Nobel Peace Prize for Versailles Treaty, 1919; domestic reforms included 1914 creation of Federal Reserve.

Donald J. Trump, 2017 - (Suspected ADHD) The current president is believed to have Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) , though not officially diagnosed or acknowledged by the White House.

# originally posted July 2015

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Illinois Benefit Access Program (formerly Circuit Breaker): apply online for benefits

Effective July 1, 2012, Illinois Cares Rx was terminated and the Circuit Breaker Property Tax Relief Grant was eliminated due to the lack of funding.
(this post links updated; verified January 2020 )

The benefits now available are:
  • Seniors Free Transit Ride
  • The Persons with Disabilities Free Transit Ride
  • Secretary of State License Plate Discount
To be determined eligible for these benefits, you must submit a Benefit Access Application on the Internet. Paper applications are not available.
Please note that current processing times to determine eligibility of your Benefits Access Application is 4-6 weeks. 
Once your application is approved you may print a certificate of eligibility to take to your local transit authority or Secretary of State Office. Please wait 10 business days from the date of your approval for your license plate discount to be available. If you requested the ride free benefit, please contact your local public transit system for further information. Your local transit system may have additional requirements in order to obtain the free ride. You can check the website at anytime to determine your application status.
If you have questions or would like to locate a Senior Health Assistance Program (SHAP) site near you for assistance, contact the Senior HelpLine at 1-800-252-8966, 1-888-206-1327 (TTY).

To file your application on the Internet, link to the Benefit Access Application to apply online.

For information or help applying, visit a local office of the following:

Illinois Department of Aging,
Area Agency on Aging in your part of the state.
Call toll-free:
1-800-252-8966 or 1-888-206-1327 (TTY)
Note: Have your Social Security number ready when you call.
Write to:Illinois Department on Aging
1 Natural Resources Way, Suite 100
Springfield, IL 62702

To Apply Online - Click: HERE
# As posted at the Illinois Department on Aging website :

UPDATED Q & A:  January 2020

Do I qualify for the Benefit Access Program?

Note: Use of the word spouse also includes a civil union partner.
Apply on the Benefit Access Application if you meet the following requirements:
  1. Age
    • you must be 65 years of age or older by December 31 of the current year; or
    • you must be 16 years of age or older and totally disabled before January 1 of this year.

      NOTE: "Person with a disability" means a person unable to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of a medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months. [320 ILCS 25/3.14]
  2. Residency
    • you must live in Illinois at the time you file your application.
  3. Income Limit Eligibility for the License Plate discount and/or Ride Free Transit Card: (Income limit increase effective 1/1/2020.)
    Your total income last year must be less than
    • $33,562 for a 1 person household (yourself only); or
    • $44,533 for a 2 person household (yourself and your spouse, or yourself and one Qualified Additional Resident); or
    • $55,500 for a 3 person household (yourself, your spouse and one Qualified Additional Resident, or yourself and two Qualified Additional Residents).

      NOTE: You must include your spouse's income if married and living together on December 31 of last year. If your spouse died last year, you would file as single and claim only your income. Do NOT include the income of a Qualified Additional Resident.

      *Click here for a list of what is considered income.
      *Get Your Social Security Benefit Verification Online with mySocialSecurity.
  4. ExpirationEligibility is good for two years under the Benefit Access Program. The two-year period starts at the time your application is approved. You may file again beginning 90 days before your eligibility expires.

Friday, December 27, 2019

The Americans with Disabilities Act Signing Ceremony on July 26, 1990 : short video chronicles the historic event

The ADA stands as one of the most important civil rights documents in the history of the United States, as it guaranteed for the first time that all People with Disabilities have the right to participate fully as equal members in society.

Signing Ceremony for Americans with Disabilities Act - National Archives and Records Administration (1990-07-26 - ARC 1656530, LI 220-DISAB-1) 
South Lawn, White House

The short video chronicles the events of July 26, 1990, when four thousand people gathered on the South Lawn of the White House to witness then President George H.W. Bush sign the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) into law.

American History from the Presidential Libraries 
By Susan K. Donius, Director of the Office of Presidential Libraries, U.S. National Archives (posted July 26, 2012)

This year marks the 22nd (25th*) Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In 1990, President George H.W. Bush (RIP 2018) signed the Act into law on the White House South Lawn in front of an audience of 3,000 people. On that day, America became the first country to adopt a comprehensive civil rights declaration for people with disabilities.

The ADA was a landmark moment in history, designed to provide universal accessibility in the areas of employment, public service, public accommodations and telecommunications. As President Barack Obama noted in 2009 at the signing of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Proclamation, the ADA “was a formal acknowledgment that Americans with disabilities are Americans first, and they are entitled to the same rights and freedoms as everybody else: a right to belong and participate fully in the American experience; a right to dignity and respect in the workplace and beyond; the freedom to make of our lives what we will.”

Among the holdings of the Presidential Libraries of the National Archives are many letters, meeting notes, photos and White House memos that document the collaborative process of creating the ADA. The Presidential Libraries have protected and shared the records of every Presidential administration since 1929, and the history of people with disabilities is woven throughout.

Sierra Gregg is a second year intern in the Office of Presidential Libraries, who recognizes the importance of sharing Presidential records related to disability history. She has been closely involved in a project to make a selection of these documents accessible to a wide audience. The following post is written by Sierra, about the Americans with Disabilities research page that is now available on the National Archives website.

I was born visually impaired one year after the signing of the ADA. I have grown up in a world where my visual impairment is not a hindrance to my success, only a characteristic of who I am. The ADA has made it possible for me to get the help I need to work toward my academic and professional goals.

However, the story of disability civil rights did not start with the ADA and it certainly did not end on that day 22 years ago. The efforts to ensure independence and equality for people with disabilities have a long and fascinating history. Throughout the course of two summer internships, I have worked on the Presidential Libraries team to collect a small sample of records related to Americans with disabilities. This collection will be added to the research topic section of the National Archives’ website and will contain at least one record from every Presidential administration since Herbert Hoover.

Although the collection contains records related to different disabilities, the records directly related to visual impairments are particularly meaningful to me. I believe my favorite record in the collection is a Braille letter written to President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956 by then-thirteen-year-old John Beaulieu. I first saw the letter on display in the Public Vaults exhibit of the National Archives in Washington, D.C. I still wish I could read the words with my fingers instead of just listening to the description. I was duly impressed that Beaulieu wrote the letter using a slate and stylus; I never quite mastered the art of using the slate. In order to write using the slate and stylus a thick piece of paper is placed face down in the slate, the stylus is used to punch out dots in the paper. The trick is every letter has to be written backwards so it can be read when the page is flipped.

The collection also contains two letters written to President Herbert Hoover by Helen Keller. She wrote letters to eight U.S. Presidents, starting in 1903 with Theodore Roosevelt. She also personally met 13 Presidents from Grover Cleveland to Lyndon B. Johnson. I must admit to feeling a twinge of envy when I learned that during a visit to the White House, she investigated her historic surroundings with touch. She even identified a bust of George Washington with her fingers.

The Americans with Disabilities research collection currently includes more than 50 different records. They range from Keller’s letters to President Hoover to photos of a White House dinner hosted by President Clinton, honoring the Special Olympics. It’s a resource that will continue to grow, and one that sheds light on an important part of disability, and American, history.

# Learn more by visiting the Americans with Disabilities research page from the Presidential Libraries at: https://www.archives.gov/research/americans-with-disabilities.

# Susan K. Donius is the Director of the Office of Presidential Libraries at the National Archives and Records Administration.
# Sierra Gregg is a senior at Truman State University in Missouri where she is studying computer science. This year, she was awarded a scholarship from the National Federation of the Blind.

For all posts on American with Disabilities History CLICK HERE 

# post was originally posted July, 2011.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Hardrock, Coco and Joe -- The Three Little Dwarfs : Chicago Christmas Memories of Years Long Gone

For many of us in the Chicago area, the three cartoons posted below were a staple of our childhood. WGN9 in Chicago shows such as Ray Rayner and Friends, Garfield Goose and Friends, and of course The Bozo Show would play the cartoons every Christmas season. Though the purpose of Ability Chicago Info is disability related information, every now and then we all need to take a moment to relax and remember when,,, Jim

Historic Chicago Kids TV Christmas video: Hardrock, Coco and Joe -- The Three Little Dwarfs

u shall hear
A story fantastic, a story so queer
It's all about Santa and his helpers three
There's Hardrock, and Coco, and Joe

Now Hardrock's the driver up there by his sleigh
Coco reads maps and he shows him the way
Though old Santa really has no need for Joe
But takes him cause he loves him so

Ole olady olady I ay
Donner and Blitzen away away
Ole olady olady I oh
I'm Hardrock, I'm Coco, I'm Joe

And Santa is busy with his heavy pack
He trusts his drivers and never looks back
Ole olady olady I oh
I'm Hardrock, I'm Coco, I'm Joe

Now go to bed early on this Christmas Eve
I've no way of knowing just what you'll recieve
But you'll hear their laughter that much I do know
‘Twill be Hardrock, and Coco, and Joe

The 3 little men only 2 feet high
Singing to Santa way up in the sky
Laughing and shouting as the sleigh bells ring
It's Hardrock, and Coco, and Joe

Ole olady olady I ay
Donner and Blitzen away away
Ole olady olady I oh
He's Hardrock, he's Coco, he's Joe

And Santa is busy with his heavy pack
He trusts his drivers and never looks back
Ole olady olady I oh
He's Hardrock, he's Coco, he's Joe

Ol' Santa will come in and set down his pack
And Hardrock will hold the reindeer till Santa comes back
If you hear a giggle as he turns to go
It's Coco, a snowball,...and Joe!

Ole olady olady I ay
Donner and Blitzen away away
Ole olady olady I oh
I'm Hardrock, I'm Coco, I'm Joe

And Santa is busy with his heavy pack
He trusts his drivers and never looks back
Ole olady olady I oh
I'm Hardrock, I'm Coco, I'm Joe
Ole olady olady I oh.

Additional Information

"The Three Little Dwarfs" That's what the original title of this little Christmas short was called. But we remembered them from the song. Hardrock, Coco & Joe.

Every Christmas morning this favorite was played on the Chicago children shows Bozo and Garfield Goose. It is still shown today, along with the other two favorites, 'Suzie Snowflake, and Frosty the Snowman.

This was the trilogy of childhood memories.

Very little, if anything is really known as to where these films came from. When asked around about these little gems people would acknowledge they're existence but that was it.

The video copies of these shorts have a copyright and other info at the bottom of the screen as they would begin, but the quality is so bad that you can hardly make it out.

All we know is that they are played every year at Christmas, and continue to bring back the memories of years long gone.


Historic Chicago Kids TV Christmas video: Suzy Snowflake

Historic Chicago Kids TV Christmas video: Frosty the Snowman

# this is a repost every Christmas Season, Happy Holidays!

Monday, November 26, 2018

City of Chicago Sidewalk Snow Removal info: REPORT UN-SHOVELED SIDEWALKS Q&A

The information is shared from the City of Chicago. The below info is current as of November 2018.

Your responsibility in removing snow and ice from the sidewalks

Many people rely on walking and transit as their primary way to get around, and without a wide, clear path through snow and ice, it is especially difficult for people with disabilities, seniors, and children to walk safely.  According to the Municipal Code of Chicago (4-4-310 & 10-8-180), property owners and occupants are responsible for keeping sidewalks clear of snow and ice.

Increase awareness of sidewalk snow removal laws

 Sidewalk Snow Removal Door Hangers

The door hangers are intended as a reminder to shovel the sidewalk and offer assistance to anyone physically unable to clear their own sidewalks.  The door hangers emphasize the importance of sidewalk snow removal and safe winter travel.
The door hangers are mailed to aldermanic offices and dozens of businesses and community groups throughout the city for distribution throughout the neighborhoods.
Download Sidewalk Snow Removal Door Hanger (pdf, 1.3mb)

Report locations that DO NOT clear sidewalks to 311

Report locations that DO NOT clear their sidewalks by making a "Snow - Uncleared Sidewalk or Bike Lane" request with 
the City of Chicago 311 Service Request line.
DIAL 311 or Online Snow - Uncleared Sidewalk or Bike Lane RequestIf calling from outside Chicago, call 312.744.5000
When you make a "Snow - Uncleared Sidewalk or Bike Lane" request, please note the following:
- Make sure the problem occurs on the sidewalk.
DO NOT use this category to report snow on streets, parking lots, or alleys.
- Provide a specific address where the problem occurs.
- Request a reference number from the operator, this will help you track the status and resolution of your request.

Frequently Asked Questions About Sidewalk Snow Removal

Why is sidewalk snow removal important?
Chicagoans of all ages and abilities need to use the sidewalks to get where they're going every day of the year. Many children, older adults, and people with disabilities face serious mobility challenges in winter time. Clear sidewalks are a shared community responsibility, and this new ordinance clarifies the requirements for snow and ice removal.
Do the new regulations for sidewalk snow removal in Chicago apply to home, business, and property owners?
Yes, the new sidewalk snow regulations affect all home, business, and property owners in Chicago. Business owners that rent space adjacent to sidewalks are responsible for shoveling snow under the ordinance. Some landlords for residential and commercial property hold tenants responsible for snow clearance as a part of their lease agreements, other don't. Renters who aren't certain of their shoveling responsibilities should check their rental agreements or ask their landlords for clarification.
When do the new regulations take effect?
The new regulations took effect November 28, 2015.
When do I have to shovel my snow?
You must shovel snow as soon as possible after it falls. Snow that falls between the hours of 7:00 am and 7:00 pm must be removed no later than 10:00 pm. Snow that falls between the hours of 7:00 pm and 7:00 am must be removed by 10:00 am.
Do I have to shovel on weekends?
Yes. You must shovel 7 days a week in the City of Chicago.
In what way should I shovel my sidewalks to be in compliance?
You must clear a path at least 5 feet wide on all of the sidewalks adjacent to your property, including any crosswalk ramps. Do not shovel the snow into the right-of-way, which includes: transit stops and bus pads, parking spaces, bike lanes, bike racks, Divvy stations, and any other space where snow impedes traffic of any kind.
Are there special rules for corner lots?
Yes. If you are responsible for a corner lot, you must remove snow and ice from sidewalks on all sides of your building and from corner sidewalk ramps. This applies to residential property and business owners.
Can I be penalized for failing to shovel?
Yes, you can receive a citation for failure to shovel.  In 2014, 226 citations were issued. The fines range from $50 to $500. The amount of the fine is on a per-case basis, and determined by an Administrative Hearings judge.

How do I report a property owner who fails to shovel their sidewalk?
Report property owners who DO NOT clear their sidewalks by making a "Snow - Uncleared Sidewalk or Bike Lane" request with the City of Chicago 311 Service Request line
Dial 311 or submit a service request online.
If calling from outside Chicago, dial 312-744-5000
When you make a "Snow - Uncleared Sidewalk or Bike Lane" request, please note the following:
- Make sure the problem occurs on the sidewalk
- DO NOT use this category to report snow on streets, parking lots, or alleys.
- Provide a specific address where the problem occurs.
- Request a reference number from the operator. This will help you track the status and resolution of your request.

# The above information is from: City of Chicago, CDOT at:

Chicago Snow Corps - connects volunteers with residents in need of snow removal – such as seniors and residents with disabilities.

* this is a reposted page, with updates as available. 
Chicago 2014 Winter - Jim Watkins.

CIVIL IMMUNITIES [Illinois Compiled Statutes]
(745 ILCS 75/) Snow and Ice Removal Act.
(745 ILCS 75/1) (from Ch. 70, par. 201)Sec. 1. It is declared to be the public policy of this State that owners and others residing in residential units be encouraged to clean the sidewalks abutting their residences of snow and ice. The General Assembly, therefore, determines that it is undesirable for any person to be found liable for damages due to his or her efforts in the removal of snow or ice from such sidewalks, except for acts which amount to clear wrongdoing, as described in Section 2 of this Act.
(Source: P.A. 81-591.)
(745 ILCS 75/2) (from Ch. 70, par. 202)Sec. 2. Any owner, lessor, occupant or other person in charge of any residential property, or any agent of or other person engaged by any such party, who removes or attempts to remove snow or ice from sidewalks abutting the property shall not be liable for any personal injuries allegedly caused by the snowy or icy condition of the sidewalk resulting from his or her acts or omissions unless the alleged misconduct was willful or wanton.
(Source: P.A. 81-591.)


The rules of snow shoveling in Chicago

Fox News Chicago By Lisa Chavarria, FOX 32 News Reporter | Jan 30, 2015

To shovel or not to shovel? hat is the question for people living in the city. You either risk getting hit with a fine, or you risk getting sued.

Chicago winter's can be rough for anyone, but even more so for pedestrians like Jake Fruend.

"I've fallen a couple of times. You know, it's part of the sport I guess of Chicago in the winter time," said Fruend.

A simple walk home becomes a greater challenge when sidewalks are not shoveled.

"There are times when you're trying to get from A to B and there's just some absurd amount of craziness on the sidewalk that you just can't get past," added Fruend.

The expected weekend snowfall is forcing the city to remind residents and businesses they need to shovel their sidewalks.

Here's how it works: if the snow stops falling before 4 p.m., you have three hours to clear except on Sunday. If the snow stops falling after 4 p.m. or on Sunday, you have until 10 a.m. the next day to clear it.

You may have heard this before, but some may think not shoveling their sidewalks will save them from liability if someone slips and falls in front of their home.

Personal injury attorneys, like Marvet Sweis Drnovsek, add that just isn't the case, thanks to Illinois law.

"There is a law out there that protects them when they shovel their driveway and the adjacent sidewalk. We want people to get in and out of their property, of course. So the law recognizes that and protects them," said Drnovsek.

Drnovsek also said homeowners can only be sued if there is negligence.

"Don't see a patch of ice, cover it up with some snow and leave it and somebody comes and slips. Even as a joke, it's a bad joke, don't do it," she added. "That's where the law comes in and protects pedestrians."

The city will ticket residents for not complying with the ordinance, but only after being warned or after neighbors file a complaint.

Last year the city saw some of the highest amount of tickets issued, primarily because of the amount of snow we saw.

This winter is much more kind-- but for pedestrians, the hope is when it turns ugly, they'll be able to get around.

"I have to walk everywhere all the time, so I'm dealing, I'm dealing with the negligence on a regular basis," added Fruend.

If you need assistance shoveling call 311 to request the city's volunteer assistance.


(Ed. Note)
If you are a senior citizen, or a person with a disability that are not able to remove snow, call you Alderman's office. Many of the Alderman offices will make attempts to assist - especially in election years!!!
# this is a re-post from over the years, the information and links are still current as of re-post date.

Friday, October 5, 2018

The Disabled Friendly Approach to Halloween - Great Ideas

As younger children catch the trick or treat bug, Halloween fancy dress has moved away from horror and taken a turn for the creative and clever. This has given rise to a new wave of innovative costumes for disabled children and adults.
In 2011, Twitter came alive with photos of a little boy called Atti dressed as Doctor Who in his wheelchair, which was cleverly made to look like a Tardis.
As well as witches and ghosts, nowadays lots of children are following suit and dressing as their favourite characters from TV and books. With a paucity of disabled princesses and superheroes, kids who use wheelchairs and their parents have to think outside the box... and that box happens to be cardboard, an excellent material for creating a sitting-down costume.
We've seen chairs adapted to look like other wheeled favourites like a digger, an ice cream van and Thomas the Tank Engine depicted widely on the web on blogs, disability sites and photo sharing sites like Pinterest.

Irish dad Paddy Brown found fame this week when a photo of his efforts to turn son Oisin's wheelchair into a bat-mobile went viral. He made the costume so that Oisin would feel included at his school fancy dress party.
Oisin in Bat chair and father Paddy
For girls on wheels a good alternative to the floaty fairy princess seems to be a mermaid outfit. Helpfully there is a website that gives instructions on how you can achieve this look - adopted by Lady GaGa in 2011. In short, simply cover the entire wheelchair with material to hide your legs and make a sparkly fish tail for the back. It's a costume that upright walking people could never achieve.
Disabled adults have been getting in on the act too. Former US Paralympic skier, now motivational speaker Josh Sundquist, is dressing as a flamingo this year. By perching upside down with crutches taking his body weight, his only leg becomes the bird's neck and bill.
Josh Sundquist dressed as a flamingo
Sundquist is known for his clever Halloween costumes that incorporate his limb difference. According to a YouTube video where he reveals this year's look, in 2010 he dressed up as a half-eaten gingerbread man - something an amputee is more readily able to achieve.
The move away from stereotypical disabled oddities or baddies like Edward Scissorhands and Captain Hook who had missing or altered body parts, and Scarface with his facial disfigurement, is no doubt welcome. And on Halloween night, these characters reportedly can confuse and upset children with autism or learning difficulties.
But, we hear you cry, you are discriminating against my disabled dog, he needs a costume too. Never fear, Fido shall go to the fancy dress apple bobbing ball. See below - for a wheelchair-using dachshund dressed as a hotdog.
Dachshund dressed as hot dog


# Originally posted October 2013 / as of Oct. 2018 as links still active

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Chicago's Emergency Preparedness Resources for People with Disabilities and Seniors In An Emergency

Emergency Preparedness for People with Disabilities
City of Chicago Links and Resources

Notify Chicago is a city service that provides residents with recorded telephone messages, text messages and/or e-mail alerts on various emergency and non-emergency situations taking place throughout Chicago.

Emergency Assistance Voluntary Registry

The City of Chicago’s Voluntary Emergency Assistance Registry (click) was created to provide police, fire and other emergency personnel with important information about the type of assistance people with disabilities and seniors would need in an emergency.

The City of Chicago continues to coordinate partnerships that will strengthen the response, rescue and recovery efforts of first responders as well as assist in protecting Chicago’s critical infrastructure. As such, the Chicago Police Department (CPD), Chicago Fire Department (CFD) and Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) have joined forces to ensure the highest level of preparedness for local businesses through the Chicago’s Public and Private Partnership (CP3) initiative.

The CP3 portal will immediately assist first responders across all agencies in saving time, life and property during an emergency event. The CP3 portal gives the private sector the opportunity to proactively update critical information regarding their infrastructure, such as, floor plans and security operations at their specific locations. The portal provides a one-stop-shop for the private sector and first responders to communicate critical information. Business owners, tenants and members of a facility’s management teams are encouraged to enroll to become a CP3 partner.

Federal Emergency and Management Agency (FEMA)
Links and Resources

The ready.gov website has a section focused on preparedness information for people with disabilities or functional needs. It includes an instructional video as well as the brochure “Prepared for Emergencies Now: Information for people with Disabilities” (copy of brochure attached).

Ready.gov also has basic emergency preparedness resources that may be useful, such as printable wallet cards to write emergency contact numbers or other information on.

Spanish language version of ready.gov can be found at www.listo.gov

Illinois Emergency Management Agency Sign Language

Preparedness Videos

ASL videos on topics such as making a plan, building a kit, getting trained, volunteering, sheltering in place, going to a shelter, planning for people with functional needs, and planning for evacuations.
Accessible Communication 4 All

This site includes downloadable sheets of common emergency terms with pictures and/or words.
Feeling Safe Being Safe

Tools developed by and for people with disabilities: This site includes a workbook that will help individuals to make an emergency plan, a video that demonstrates how to complete the workbook and put together a home emergency kit, and a printable magnet to post important emergency contact information on the refrigerator for first responders.

Information posted as shared by the City of Chicago Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD) ...

# previous posted May 2014, all links are up to as of the repost.

Friday, May 25, 2018

History of Memorial Day

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)

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

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Remind U.S. Congress that they represent YOU! - Autistic Self Advocacy Network

Dec. 2017 - Congress is determined to pass their disastrous tax bill before their scheduled recess begins on FridayThis week is critical - we need your voice to stop this billYour advocacy has already significantly delayed their process, and with your help we can grind it to a halt. There are a lot of people trying to influence the outcome of this fight, which is why it’s so important that your Members of Congress hear from the people they represent--you.

What’s in the tax bill?

Short answer: we don’t know yet. Long answer: all the components of the previous House and Senate bills are on the table, including:
  • Taking the “affordable” out of Affordable Care Act. The Senate version of the bill repeals the individual mandate. The consequences of that would be a 10% hike in premiums and 13 million Americans losing health insurance outright.

  • Blowing up the deficit, paving the way for massive cuts to Medicaid and social services. The tax bill will increase the deficit by at least $1.5 trillion - and Congress has openly admitted that they’re planning on paying for it by slashing funding to Medicaid, Medicare, SNAP, and other social services.

  • Automatic cuts to Medicare, food stamps, special education, and affordable housing. The $1.5 trillion deficit created by the tax bill would trigger mandatory cuts to federal programs across the board. Medicare alone would see a $25 billion cut in 2018.

  • A health tax on people with high medical expenses. The House bill eliminates the medical expense deduction, which allows people to deduct medical expenses exceeding 10% of their income.

What can I do?

You can use ContactingCongress.org to find the phone numbers of your Members of Congress. When you call, you can use our script below, and if you don’t speak, you can call using your AAC device, or get a friend to call in and read your message.

My name is [your full name]. I’m a constituent of [Representative/Senator] [Name], and I live in [your town]. I’m calling to ask the [Representative/Senator] to vote NO on the final tax bill. No matter what the conference committee does, we already know that the final bill would balloon the deficit, leave the door open to cut funding to Medicaid, and automatically cut vital services including food stamps, special education, and Medicare.

People with disabilities in our state like [me/ my family member/ my friends] are not disposable, and our basic services are not your trust fund. Please vote AGAINST any tax bills that repeal the ACA or set up cuts to services disabled people rely on to survive. We’re calling on you to defend everyday Americans by standing up to this tax bill.

Calling your Members of Congress is crucial because it shows them that the people they were elected to represent do not support this bill. 

What now?

If you’ve already called, call again. After you call, send your Members of Congress an email or a fax. This site makes it easy to send free faxes to your Senators and Representative. Then, ask 5 people to call and email their Members of Congress too. Congress is making a huge push to get this bill through this week - so let’s show up, push back, and stop the tax bill in its tracks.


Autistic Self Advocacy Network Dec. 2017 press release

Federal Agency Sues Henry's Turkey Farm owner for Exploiting Mentally Disabled Workers for Years

Dec. 11, 2017 - Four years ago, an Iowa jury handed a group of intellectually disabled workers who had been exploited for years the nation’s largest-ever award in an employment discrimination case: a staggering $240 million.
The 'Bunkhouse' has been demolished.
article by Clark Kauffman for the Des Moines Register 
It was intended to compensate 32 men for the decades they'd spent in indentured servitude while employed by Henry’s Turkey Service, a labor broker accused of paying the men as little as 41 cents an hour while providing them with housing in a dilapidated bunkhouse on the outskirts of Atalissa.

The jury's award was immediately slashed to just $1.6 million — less than 1 percent of the amount specified by jurors — because of federal caps on damages.

Even so, the verdict represented an uplifting final chapter in a long story of exploitation and abuse.

But now that story has an unexpected postscript.

Robert Canino, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission lawyer who pursued the case against Henry's, is back in federal court.
This time, he's fighting Joseph Paul Byrd, a former Henry’s Turkey Service supervisor who took over the company’s Newberry, South Carolina, labor camp in the 1980s and kept it running for another 30 years.
In September 2016, the EEOC sued Byrd's company, Work Services Inc., alleging it had forced its intellectually disabled workers to live in a crowded, substandard bunkhouse, paid them “unconscionable wages” that were less than what nondisabled workers were paid, and subjected the men to a hostile work environment in which they were called “stupid,” “retarded” and “dumb.”
The company has denied the allegations, and a trial is scheduled for August.
"Sadly, the discovery of this situation, answers, in part, the question that has arisen since the disturbing Henry's Turkey Service operation came to light in Iowa a few years ago," Canino said. "After seeing how workers with intellectual disabilities had fallen between the societal cracks, being virtually invisible for decades, many have asked, 'Could there be any other situations like this out there or right in our own backyards?'
"The answer, sadly, turned out to be, 'Yes' — and what we found here serves to remind us all to remain vigilant against such abuse of our neighbors and co-workers."

Workers exploited at every turn

In a deposition taken last December as part of a lawsuit brought by the U.S. Department of Labor, Byrd acknowledged that the six disabled workers who lived in the two trailers that made up the Newberry bunkhouse were each charged $800 in monthly rent, while the three or four nondisabled men who lived there paid monthly rent of $150 to $200 each.
During his deposition, Byrd was unable to explain the disparity, except to say that he was maintaining practices established by his former employer, Henry’s Turkey Service,  decades ago.
“That’s just the way it was always done,” he told a lawyer for the Department of Labor. “That’s simply the way it was when I started.”
In his deposition, Byrd also acknowledged that he and his manager, David Perez, forged signatures on the disabled men’s paychecks and cashed them, then paid the men weekly allowances of $50 to $80 each.
Byrd also testified that he took the men’s disability checks as compensation for room and board and deposited the men’s tax refunds into a company account used to pay his personal and business expenses. 
According to Byrd, he began working for Henry’s Turkey Service in 1968, when the company was populating labor camps across the United States with intellectually disabled men recently discharged from state-run institutions in Texas.
Byrd said that because his job was to supervise the individuals running the various labor camps, he traveled from one site to the next, in Iowa, Texas, Missouri, Illinois, South Carolina and Kansas.
At one time, Iowa was home to three labor camps runs by Henry’s — in Ellsworth, Storm Lake and Atalissa.
In 1985, Byrd went into business on his own, purchasing the Henry’s labor camp operation in Newberry, South Carolina. At the time, he said, the bunkhouse consisted of 15 disabled men living in a set of trailers across the street from a turkey processing plant.
Over the next 30 years, the men who worked at the plant would arrive there in the morning, help unload live turkeys from trucks, hang them on hooks and kill them. It was, as Byrd later acknowledged, difficult and repetitive work.  
By 2009, some of the men had become too old or sick to continue working. A few of them retired but continued to live in the bunkhouse. The same was true at Henry’s last remaining bunkhouse, in Atalissa.
Some of the former residents at Henry's Turkey Farm.
The Iowa operation already was winding down in February 2009 when a Des Moines Register investigation triggered a raid by state and federal authorities. All of the Atalissa workers were relocated to fully licensed care facilities, and the bunkhouse was shut down.
But Byrd’s South Carolina operation continued to do business until late 2014, when New York Times reporter Dan Barry, working on a book about the Atalissa operation, discovered the Newberry bunkhouse and reported that six of the original Henry’s workers were still living there.
Because of health problems, two of the men — Claude Wren and Johnny Hickman — had retired from work at the Louis Rich processing plant across the street from the Newberry bunkhouse, Byrd told the Department of Labor.
But the four others — Leon Jones, Carlos Morris, and Jay and John Koch — were still working at the plant and collecting $50 to $100 per week in compensation from Work Services.

Seeking compensation for the workers

According to corporate tax records, Work Services Inc. had annual gross receipts of almost $1 million at that time. An affiliate, Work Service Co., reported more than $600,000 in gross receipts.
In 2015, the U.S. Department of Labor filed suit against Work Services, Byrd and Perez, alleging they had failed to pay the disabled workers the legally required minimum wage; failed to pay overtime; and failed to keep adequate payroll records.
But the lawsuit was limited in scope: Under federal law, the department could seek payment of only two years’ worth of back wages.
In February, Senior U.S. District Judge Henry Herlong sided with the Department of Labor, granting the agency summary judgment before a trial could take place.
The judge called Byrd’s claim that the workers wanted the company to keep their wages for them “ludicrous,” and he ordered the defendants to pay $165,404 in back wages and damages.
Seven months later, the EEOC filed its own lawsuit against Work Services, alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The EEOC’s lawsuit, if successful, could result in far greater damages than the Department of Labor case, because it seeks compensation in three categories: money for the men’s financial losses; for emotional pain, loss of enjoyment of life and humiliation; and punitive damages for the “malicious or reckless conduct” of the company.
In his December 2016 deposition, Byrd acknowledged his bookkeeping at the bunkhouse wasn’t adequate — he kept thousands of dollars owed to the men stuffed inside envelopes hidden at his home, he said — but that he considered the workers family.
“I did a really poor job of keeping records,” he said. “I was trying real hard to take care of them and make their life a little easier and, hopefully, create a place where they could live the rest of their lives. … I had a lot of affection for each and every one of them. Well, when you’ve spent a third of your life or more with them, they become part of your family, nearly.”
Two of the disabled Henry's workers are related: Carl Wayne Jones and Leon Jones are brothers, just a year apart in age. They began working for Henry's in the late 1960s, but the company eventually split them up, sending Carl to Atalissa and Leon to Newberry.   
For decades, the two men didn't see each other.
But in 2014, Canino, the EEOC attorney, set up a Skype connection that enabled the two men, then in their mid-60s, to see and speak to each other for the first time in years.
According to the New York Times, Carl Wayne shared the news that their mother had died long ago; he also talked about his girlfriend and the group home in Waterloo where he lived with some of his friends from the Atalissa bunkhouse.
This year, Carl and his girlfriend got married. Leon rented a tuxedo and, along with some of his friends from the Newberry bunkhouse, traveled to Iowa for the wedding.
"I missed being there," Canino says, "but I am so happy the South Carolina and Iowa guys got to reconnect a bit — especially Carl and Leon."

Henry's Turkey Service still owes millions

No criminal charges were ever filed against Henry’s Turkey Service for the alleged financial exploitation of its Iowa workers, labor law violations, fire-code citations or the lack of a care-facility license at the Atalissa bunkhouse.
At the time, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller said the better course of action was to have other agencies pursue civil remedies against company owner Kenneth Henry of Proctor, Texas, who was worth about $3 million.
Several state and federal agencies imposed administrative penalties, or won court judgments, against the company.
They eventually totaled $5.9 million, but Kenneth Henry refused to surrender any of his assets or enter into a payment-plan agreement with the federal government before he died in April 2016.
In recent years, however, the U.S. Department of Justice, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the U.S. Department of Labor have aggressively pursued collection efforts.
To date, they have distributed roughly $800,000 to the disabled former employees of Henry's. They expect to soon collect an additional $900,000 from the estate of Kenneth Henry, which should bring the total recovery for the Atalissa workers to $1.7 million.
Here's a look at the various judgments and penalties imposed against Henry's:
  • May 2009: Iowa Workforce Development imposed a $900,000 penalty against Henry's for violating state labor laws. The penalty was later increased to more than $1.1 million.
  • November 2009: The U.S. Department of Labor sued the company for federal labor law violations, resulting in a court judgment against the company for $1.8 million.
  • September 2012: After the company offered no resistance or defense to allegations that it violated the fair-wage provisions of the Americans With Disabilities Act, a federal judge ordered Henry’s to pay $1.3 million to 32 of its disabled workers.
  • May 2013: An Iowa jury returned a verdict of $240 million against Henry’s Turkey Service for discriminatory employment conditions, but the jury verdict was later reduced to $1.6 million because of federal caps on damages in such cases.