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

Monday, July 30, 2012

Illinois Gov Quinn names new 'Office of the Inspector General' of the Illinois DHS | July 30, 2012

Press Release

Governor Quinn Announces Michael McCotter as Special Investigator of the DHS Office of the Inspector General
McCotter to overhaul investigations of abuse and neglect cases; Governor also names Acting Inspector General

CHICAGO – July 27, 2012. Governor Pat Quinn today announced the appointment of Michael McCotter as Special Investigator of the Office of the Inspector General of the Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS). McCotter, a 40-year law enforcement veteran, will be charged with reforming the investigative operations of the Inspector General’s office. Governor Quinn also named Daniel Dyslin as Acting Inspector General for DHS until a permanent replacement is named. Today’s actions follow an executive order issued by the governor earlier this month to strengthen protections for adults with disabilities.

“Michael McCotter will bring his strong law enforcement experience and dedication to reform to this mission,” Governor Quinn said. “His appointment underscores my commitment to ensuring that all people are treated with dignity and respect, and that any abuse and neglect suffered by citizens with disabilities is rooted out quickly and punished appropriately.”

DHS Secretary Michelle R. B. Saddler will work with McCotter, the governor, members of the General Assembly and stakeholders to explore and institute future reforms that safeguard the lives and rights of people with disabilities.

As Special Investigator, McCotter will review investigative procedures to ensure that abuse and neglect reports are investigated swiftly and that confirmed cases are referred to the appropriate authorities with strong supporting evidence. He will also review the policies of the office to better address and fulfill the office’s mission of protecting people with disabilities. McCotter was previously appointed by Governor Quinn as chief public safety officer for the Illinois Department of Corrections and has served in several senior positions at the Chicago Police Department, including chief of patrol, deputy chief of detectives, commander of special events and district commander. He has had professional training with the FBI, United States Secret Service and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, among other law enforcement agencies.

In addition to appointing McCotter, Governor Quinn named Daniel Dyslin as Acting Inspector General for DHS. Dyslin has been serving as a Senior Deputy General Counsel at DHS and has a strong background as an attorney and advocate for people with disabilities.

“We will work swiftly to investigate suspected neglect and abuses and work with law enforcement to put a stop to such actions,” Saddler said. “Today’s action strengthens our efforts to ensure people with disabilities receive the highest quality of care and are treated with the respect and dignity they deserve.”



Cat deals with his disability with a set of wheels - video

Published on Jul 16, 2012 by uzoouk

Africa the tabby cat has a novel way of getting around.

Why don't you come and join Uzoo on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date with our videos and other animal stories!!

U.S. Access Board Webinar on Accessible Detention and Correctional Facilities Aug 2, 2012 - RSVP

The next webinar in the Access Board’s free monthly series will take place August 2 from 2:30 – 4:00 (ET) and will cover access to detention and correctional facilities.

To register for this free webinar, visit www.accessibilityonline.org.

Questions for the webinar can be submitted in advance through this website.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Competing in both the Olympics and Paralympics - Poland’s Natalia Partyka | July 29, 2012

Natalia Partyka (Getty Images)

At the start of her first-round table tennis match against Denmark's Mie Skov, Poland's Natalia Partyka had a small but vocal contingent of fans from her homeland supporting her.

By the decisive seventh game of her come-from-behind 4-3 victory, Partyka had won over most of the neutral fans in attendance too.

It was no surprise to see fans clad in Union Jack face paint or Brazilian T-shirts get behind Partyka because the 23-year-old has one of the most remarkable stories of any Olympian. Partyka, who was born without a right hand and forearm, is one of only two athletes who will compete at both the Olympics and Paralympics this year.

The story of South Africa's Oscar Pistorius has gotten more publicity because the idea of a double amputee sprinter is so improbable, but Partyka's path to London is also compelling.
In an interview with MSNBC this month, Partyka said she was 7 years old when she first began following 11-year-old sister Sandra to the table tennis hall in their native Gdansk, Poland. Partyka's primary goal at that point was merely to get good enough to beat her older sister. When she finally did win, it wasn't only her sister she could defeat.

At age 11, Partyka represented Poland at the 2000 Paralympics, becoming the youngest player in any sport to compete. At age 15, she won a gold medal in the singles at the 2004 Paralympics and a silver in the team event. And at age 19, she won gold again in the 2008 Paraylmpics and also made her Olympic debut in Beijing.

The only impact Partyka's disability has on her table tennis game is her serve. Whereas other players begin their serve by tossing the ball with their off hand, she has learned to do the same by cradling the ball in the crook of her right elbow.

Besides that, there is no indication she is competing with just one arm. Partyka plays with grace and power and has risen all the way to No. 68 in the world.

It's unlikely Partyka will be much of a threat to medal either in the individual competition or the team competition because the top players from Asia are simply too strong, but it's a great accomplishment that she has made it to London at all. And rest assured that whenever she competes, she'll have the crowd on her side.

As reported By Jeff Eisenberg | Yahoo Sports


Friday, July 27, 2012

2012 U.S. Census: More severely disabled in U.S. | July 2012

{photo: Members of ADAPT, a disability rights group, block off 15th street near the White House as they protest for President Obama to expand and support community based long-term care services for people with disabilities, in Washington on September 20, 2010. UPI/Kevin Dietsch}

United Press International (UPI)
Published: July 25, 2012

WASHINGTON, July 25 (UPI) -- The number of severely disabled people in the United States appears to be increasing, the Census Bureau said in a report released Wednesday.

In 2010, 56.7 million people, 19 percent of the total population, had a disability, demographers said. That was 2.2 million more than in 2005, with the percentage of the population considered disabled statistically the same.

But the number and percentage of people with severe disabilities and of those requiring assistance for ordinary tasks was up, possibly because of the increase in the number of elderly residents in the United States, the report said. About 15 million people have difficulty with at least one activity of daily living like eating, preparing food or answering the telephone, and 12 million need assistance to get through the day.

"Americans with Disabilities: 2010" was the first report on the subject the Census Bureau has done since 2005.

The report's release was timed to mark the 22nd anniversary of the signing of the Americans With Disabilities Act. The data came from the Survey of Income and Program Participation.

The bureau said that only 41 percent of those aged 21 to 64 with a disability were employed, compared to 79 percent with no disability. The disabled were also more likely to be poor, with 10.8 percent of those 15 to 64 with severe disability reporting persistent poverty compared to 4.9 percent with lesser disabilities and 3.8 percent with no disability.

The average monthly income of those 21 to 64 with a disability was $1,961, while it was $2,724 for those in the same group with no disability.

Read more: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2012/07/25/Census-More-severely-disabled-in-US/UPI-60191343246037/#ixzz21qPeuKNo


For U.S. Census Bureau, Disability Main overview click headline or:

Employment Rights (of people with physical, mental or sensory disabilities) in Illinois: What Do You Need To Know?

The information is provided by Equip for Equality

In Illinois, your employment rights are protected by the Illinois Human Rights Act. If you work for or interview with an employer that has 15 or more employees, you are also protected by the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act). Under these laws, employers are not allowed to discriminate against you because of your disability. However, these laws do not guarantee you a job because you have a disability.

Before You Get the Job:
When you apply for a job, an employer can ask you many questions but may not ask about everything.

For example:

• An employer may NOT ask you about your disability
• An employer may NOT ask you about your health
• An employer may NOT ask you about medications
• An employer may NOT ask you if you have been in the hospital
These are BAD questions. Employers may ask you these questions anyway, even though the law says they cannot. You do not have to tell the employer about your disability, health, or medications. Equip for Equality has some suggestions which will help you protect your rights.

• ON THE JOB APPLICATION: If there is a question about your physical or mental abilities, do not answer it! Leave it blank!

• DURING THE JOB INTERVIEW: If an employer asks you a BAD question (or if they want to know why you did not answer a BAD question on the job application), you should say:
“I do not answer questions about things that are private and not related to the job.
I would be happy to discuss my qualifications for this job.”

• DURING THE JOB INTERVIEW: Have you not worked, because of your disability? If an employer wants to know why you did not work for some time, you should say:

“I took time off from work to handle a private family matter.”

This answer may satisfy an employer. Do NOT lie. Lying could result in losing your job. If they ask again, just tell them, “I’m sure that you can understand that some things are private.” Then, talk about why you are qualified for that job!

Physical or Medical Examinations:
The employer can ask you questions about your health and require medical examinations, but only AFTER the employer offers you a job, BEFORE YOU START the job, and only IF IT IS REQUIRED FOR ALL NEW EMPLOYEES. However, the employer CANNOT use any of this information to exclude you from the job if you can do the “essential functions” (important parts) of the job, with or without “reasonable accommodations.”

After You Start the Job:
Do you have to tell your employer about your disability after you start working? NO!
Can your employer ask about your disability after you start working? NO!

When do you tell the employer about your disability?

• You never have to tell the employer about your disability.
• If you need assistance to do your job, then you will need to tell the employer about your disability to get the assistance you need and why your disability requires this assistance. This assistance is called a “reasonable accommodation.” The employer can refuse to give you this assistance only if what you ask for is too expensive or difficult.
If you do need to ask for a reasonable accommodation, do it in writing!

In your letter, ask your employer to respond in writing. If they don’t write back, but agree to provide job accommodations to you, send a “Thank You” letter. This shows that they received your letter, acknowledged your disability, and have agreed to provide job accommodations (list what they have agreed to do). Keep copies of all letters!


Contact Equip for Equality (all services are free of charge):
1-800-537-2632 (voice) or 1-800-610-2779 (TTY)
contactus@equipforequality.org ● www.equipforequality.org

You must file your complaint within 180 days of the date on which you were discriminated against by an employer (the EEOC gives you 300 days). You do not need a lawyer to file a disability discrimination complaint with either the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) or the IDHR (Illinois Department of Human Rights).
• EEOC’s Illinois office: 312-353-2713 (voice) or 312-353-2421 (TTY)
• IDHR’s Chicago office: 312-814-6200 (voice) or 312-263-1579 (TTY)
• IDHR’s Springfield office: 217-785-5100 (voice) or 217-785-5125 (TTY)


Dr. Teresa Garate Appointed President & CEO of Neumann Family Services , Chicago | July 25, 2012

CHICAGO, July 25, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- The Board of Directors of Neumann Family Services has named Dr. Teresa Garate as its President/CEO, effective September 1, 2012. In her new role, Dr. Garate will lead the next phase of the organization's growth, including a focus on several new initiatives, core operations and strategic planning and development. "Teresa is a longtime advocate for individuals with disabilities and brings an exceptional background in public policy, planning and program implementation at an important moment in our organization's history," said Bill Power, Board Chair.

With an over 20-year career in the field of disabilities, Dr. Garate was most recently appointed by Governor Pat Quinn as the Assistant Director at the Illinois Department of Public Health and has served in that position since 2009. Formerly a senior level administrator in the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) who served as the Chief of Staff for the Office of Specialized Services during Arne Duncan's administration, Dr. Garate is experienced in strategic plan development, program implementation and monitoring, research and accountability and budget and personnel management. Prior to CPS, Dr. Garate served as the Center Director of the Department of Disability and Human Development at the University of Illinois at Chicago. "I am honored that the Board has chosen me as the next leader of Neumann. I look forward to working with the entire Neumann team to continue to the good work of the agency. It is my goal to ensure that this organization is well positioned to continue to serve as a leader in community inclusion of people with disabilities," said Dr. Garate.

Dr. Garate has a long history of service and leadership to community organizations, city and state agencies. She is the current Chair of Governor Quinn's Anti-Violence Commission as well as the Co-Chair of the Illinois Violence Prevention Authority. Dr. Garate formerly served as a Member of the Illinois State Advisory Council to the Governor on Disability, an Advisory Board Member of the Center for Capacity Building on Minorities with Disabilities Research and an Advisory Board Member of the Chicago Park District Disability Policy Steering Committee, among many other appointments in the field of disabilities. Dr. Garate holds a B.S. in Applied Psychology, a B.S. Ed. in Special Education, a Master's Degree in Special Education and a Ph.D. in Special Education from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Neumann Family Services strives to integrate persons with disabilities and other life issues into the community and enrich their quality of life with choice and independence. Each year, the organization provides quality, individualized care to more than 500 adults with developmental disabilities and mental illness, helping each person reach his or her fullest potential. Neumann Family Services provides a comprehensive array of programs designed with the dreams of each person in mind, including housing, employment, developmental training, behavioral health services, case management services, clinical and medical services.

For more information on Neumann Family Services please visit: www.neumannfamilyservices.org .

SOURCE Neumann Family Services

Copyright (C) 2012 PR Newswire. All rights reserved

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Presidential Proclamation -- Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, July 26, 2012

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary

Presidential Proclamation -- Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 2012



Since our earliest days, America has measured its progress not only by the growth of our borders and the breadth of our economy, but also by how far we reach toward fully realizing the fundamental rights, protections, and freedoms afforded to each of us by our Nation's founding documents. For generations, many Americans with disabilities lived as second-class citizens who were denied those most basic opportunities. Not content to accept the world as it was, they marched and organized and testified, coupling quiet acts of persistence and perseverance with vocal acts of advocacy. And step by step, progress was won. Protections were put into law. And a wave of change swept across our country, tearing down the barriers that kept persons with disabilities from securing their fullest measure of happiness.

Today, we mark the 22nd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) -- a historic piece of civil rights legislation that affirmed Americans with disabilities are Americans first. When many wrongfully doubted that people with disabilities could participate in our society, contribute to our economy, or support their families, the ADA asserted that they could. Under this landmark law, America became the first Nation to comprehensively declare equality for its citizens with disabilities -- an accomplishment that continues to guide our country toward fulfilling its most essential promises not just for some, but for all.

Yet, despite the gains we have made, independence and freedom from discrimination remain out of reach for too many individuals with disabilities. That is why my Administration continues to build on the legacy set forth by the ADA. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies can no longer deny coverage to children with disabilities because of pre-existing conditions, medical history, or genetic information -- a provision that will be extended to all Americans in 2014. We have fought to protect and strengthen Medicare and Medicaid by improving benefits and opposing proposals that would shift costs to seniors and persons with disabilities. And earlier this year, we established the Administration for Community Living at the Department of Health and Human Services to help ensure people with disabilities have the support they need to live with respect and dignity in their communities, and to be fully included in our national life.

Because every American deserves access to a world-class education, we have worked to make learning environments safer and more inclusive. Last September, the Department of Education implemented new standards for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act that will help measure and improve outcomes for infants and toddlers with disabilities. Moving forward, we will continue to take action to help all children learn, develop, and participate in instructional programs that equip them with the tools for success in school and beyond.

As we mark this milestone and reflect on the barriers that remain, we also pay tribute to the courageous individuals and communities who have made progress possible. Because so many advocates understood injustice from the depths of their own experience, they also knew that by allowing injustice to stand, we were depriving our Nation and our economy of the full talents and contributions of tens of millions of Americans with disabilities. Today, those Americans are leaders not only in every field and throughout every part of our national life, but also in the journey to bring the American dream within reach for our next generation. On this anniversary of the ADA, we celebrate the contributions Americans with disabilities have made to our Nation, and we rededicate ourselves to empowering every individual with those most American principles of equal access and equal opportunity.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim July 26, 2012, the Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. I encourage Americans across our Nation to celebrate the 22nd anniversary of this civil rights law and the many contributions of individuals with disabilities.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-sixth day of July, in the year of our Lord two thousand twelve, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-seventh.


# http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/07/26/presidential-proclamation-anniversary-americans-disabilities-act-2012

Illinois Gov Quinn initiative to move disabled out of institutions, into communities | Article/ video (cc) - July 26, 2012

(CHICAGO) (WLS7) Report by Karen Meyer --

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn's Rebalancing Initiative redirects state funding to support community-based living options for people with developmental disabilities.

In June, Quinn was honored with the 2012 President's Award from The Arc of Illinois, a statewide advocacy organization for people with disabilities, for his plan to move the disabled out of institutions and into communities.

"Our state has put most of its financial resources behind big institutions and I really don't feel that's the best way to go," said Quinn. "I think the families and citizens with disabilities feel the same as I do, that we should invest our resources in the community with opportunities for group homes."

The goal is to have 600 people with developmental disabilities live independently by 2014.

"We call it rebalancing. We're going to take some of those resources away from the large institutions. We're closing them and using that money instead to invest in the not-for-profit community care section," said Quinn.

The Arc of Illinois Executive Director Tony Paulauski said the plan can provide more resources to Illinois residents with disabilities.

"The rebalancing initiative mandates that they do what they call person-centered planning. People sit down with the individuals that are moving, and if their guardians are involved they sit down with them. They develop a plan about what they need to be successful in a community," said Paulauski.

"Every person should have a choice and their family should have a choice. I want to make sure we maximize the choice for everyone when it comes to independent living and also have community care," said Quinn.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and some parents are against the plan. Four state institutions are expected to close by 2014.

(Copyright ©2012 WLS-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

# For more of ABC7 Disability Issues Karen Meyer:


For The Arc of Illinois:

Rebalancing Initiative Fact Sheet: www.thearcofil.org

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Illinois Secretary of State Announces "The Talking Book and Braille Service" Library Services | July 2012

The Talking Book and Braille Service (TBBS) supports the activities of the Illinois Network of Libraries Serving the Blind and Physically Handicapped. The network includes a regional center at the State Library, three library sites throughout the state known as Talking Book Centers, and an Illinois Machine Lending Agency. Collectively, all of these centers circulate unabridged books in audio format.

The regional center acts as a liaison with National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), and maintains a reserve collection of talking books. In conjunction with local talking book centers, the regional center provides a full range of library services specializing in Braille and talking books. The overarching goal of TBBS is to enrich the quality of life for all residents of Illinois who are eligible for our program.

Available Programs & Services:

Apply for Service

Assistive Technology Resources

Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD)

Contact TBBS

Disability Resources

Expanded Services

KLAS Online Catalog

KLAS Tutorial

Locate Your Talking Book Center


NLS Catalog

Nominations for the Alexander J. Skrzypek Award

Playback Equipment

Radio Information Service

Read to Me With BrowseAloud

TBBS NewsLink
For Illinois Secretary of State Talking Book and Braille Service
click 'Headline' or visit: http://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/departments/library/TBBS/home.html

AARP Illinois & Persons with Disabilities - still a lack of Disability Awareness | July 2012


Chicago - CBA, AgeOptions and AARP are presenting on July 18 entitled "Learn To Be a Powerful Advocate: Bringing the Aging Agenda to Legislators and Policy Makers".

The program will be held at the CBA Building, 321 S. Plymouth Court
from 10:00 am-3:30 pm on July 18. This one day advocacy training will
include a discussion of issues and training on advocacy techniques.
Learn what you need to do to make sure Policy Makers hear and listen
to advocates of the senior programs, services, benefits and supports
that are vital to older persons. Legislators, representatives from
the Executive Office, and advocates are being invited to help the
metropolitan senior community to refine and expand advocacy skills in
an era where advocacy is more important than ever.

Below is a summary of an attendee, Ability Chicago member Marcia T.

The following is a summary of an experience I had on July 18th
while attending an advocacy training. I am forwarding the
announcement so you will have the event correctly.

When I registered for this training, I explained my disability and the
kind of reasonable accommodation I would require to participate fully
in this event. I had a most pleasing and successful experience both
prior to and during this event. The experience I am about to relay
happened during the final speaker’s portion, and in no way reflect on
other portions of the event.

The final presenter, Jennifer, from AARP Illinois spoke on the topic
of “social media” and CIBER communication and successful advocacy.
Her first statement was, “Those of you sitting in the back, might want
to move forward so you can see the screen, and those of you sitting in
the front that still can’t see the screen, I can’t teach you.” This
was followed by silence. I chose to speak up and stated, “I find your
statement insulting. In other words, if I can’t see your screen, I
can’t learn what you have to teach.” There was again silence. (Since
I can’t see well enough to recognize a facial expression, I have no
idea what her visual response was) The speaker then said, “This is a
visual presentation “Again, there was silence. The speaker then said,
“Well perhaps I misspoke.” She then gave a credible presentation on
both Face book, tweeting, using walls for stories, and instagrams.
During the question session one of the participants asked if AARP
Illinois provided training for older adults to become more proficient
at using this social media. Her response was that they did, and they
had grants to do that. Another participant asked how seniors who were
learning about the use of Social Media, but were also loosing useful
vision, would access this media? The speaker’s response was, “I have
no idea.” And immediately moved on to the next question.

While I didn't record this exchange myself, we were told that it was
being recorded for use as a link where the material could be accessed.
I was appalled by this presenter, and found her comments inexcusable.
If this is the attitude of AARP of Illinois to the senior community
that also is disabled, their credibility is nil. I hope that the
people who have the ability, after researching this event, will
correct this attitude and a change in their perception by the disabled
community can occur.

Marcia T

Monday, July 23, 2012

Illinois Gov Quinn Signs Laws To Reduce Disability Parking Abuse | July 23, 2012

Press Release
July 23, 2012

Governor Quinn Signs Laws To Reduce Disability Parking Abuse New Laws Increase Penalties for Unauthorized Use of Handicap Placards
CHICAGO – July 23, 2012. Governor Pat Quinn today signed two new laws that will crack down on unauthorized use of handicap parking placards. The laws will help those with a disability find parking and help municipalities crack down on abuse that raises costs for taxpayers. The governor was joined by legislators, Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White and disability advocates from across Illinois.

“People who rely on handicap parking should not be victimized by those who would use fraudulent placards,” Governor Quinn said. “These laws will ensure more fairness and fight fraud across Illinois.”

House Bill 5624, sponsored by Rep. Karen May (D-Highland Park) and Sen. Maggie Crotty (D-Oak Forest), increases the initial fine for unauthorized use of a disability license plate or parking decal to $600 (up from $500), and doubles the initial fine for creating or possessing fraudulent disability plates and using a genuine disability placard in the absence of the authorized holder ($1000, up from $500). The new law also imposes an initial fine of $1000 on a physician or other specified healthcare professional who knowingly falsifies a certification for a person who does not have a disability to entitle him or her to a disability license plate or parking decal. The legislation was developed following numerous reports of abuse.

The legislation ends, effective in 2014, the full parking meter fee exemption for those with disability placards and allows the Secretary of State to issue a new meter-exempt decal or placard to people with disabilities who meet certain requirements and who are unable to access or operate a parking meter. Fraud and misuse of this broad exemption have resulted in lost revenue and decreased parking availability for people with disabilities in municipalities across Illinois.

House Bill 5056, sponsored by Rep. John D’Amico (D-Chicago) and Sen. Martin Sandoval (D-Cicero), establishes tougher penalties for the improper use of a deceased person’s handicap placard. The law makes the new offense a Class A misdemeanor with a minimum fine of $2,500 and mandatory revocation of the offender’s driving privileges. It also raises the fine for a second conviction of misuse of a disability placard from $750 to $1000 and allows the Secretary of State to suspend or revoke driving privileges. The Secretary of State may also revoke or suspend the driving privileges of an offender who violates a similar local ordinance against improper use of disability placards. This bill is an initiative of the Secretary of State’s Advisory Committee on Traffic Safety. The Secretary of State oversees 600,000 disabled-parking placards and 82,000 handicap license plates statewide.

“It is against all the laws of human decency for an able-bodied person to deprive a person with a disability of using a disability parking spot. I commend Governor Quinn for signing this important legislation,” said Secretary of State Jesse White.

Both laws passed the General Assembly overwhelmingly and are effective Jan 1, 2013

Chicago Commissioner Karen Tamley, 'Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities' - Live webcast July 25, 2012 - 9:30 a.m.

Equip for Equality Disability Rights Consortium

Commissioner Karen Tamley from the City of Chicago 'Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities' (MOPD) will be speaking at this Wednesday's Disability Rights Consortium meeting. The meeting will take place from 9:30-11:00 a.m. (cst) at Equip for Equality in Chicago.

This meeting will be a live webcast, you can access the meeting by 'clicking' headline or at:

Click on "Calendar" and then click on the listing for the Disability Rights Consortium on 7/25 on the Calendar.

For Equip for Equality Homepage: http://www.equipforequality.org/

Chicago 'Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities' (MOPD):

" It's Our Story" (video) - people with newly acquired disabilities, community, and disability transition .

Welcome to "It's Our Story"s Transition Playlist. These video interviews deal with people with newly acquired disabilities joining the community and learning to live with a disability.

This is the 1st of 30+ stories, for the complete series 'click' the above post headline or visit:

Uploaded by ItsOurStoryProject on May 22, 2010

Becky Tuttle of Atlanta, GA speaks about prejudices within and towards the disability community, as well as her continuous battles for disability rights.

Becky has live with a physical disability from an early age; she currently serves as executive director of Disability Link, the leading disability organization in the Atlanta area.

This is #14 out of more than 1,000 interviews that "It's Our Story" has collected in an effort to free the voices of the disability community. Visit us at www.itsourstory.org

This interview transcribed by Monica Romero.

Becky has live with a physical disability from an early age; she currently serves as executive director of Disability Link, the leading disability organization in the Atlanta area.

This is #14 out of more than 1,000 interviews that "It's Our Story" has collected in an effort to free the voices of the disability community. Visit us at www.itsourstory.org

This interview transcribed by Monica Romero

13th International Fragile X Conference - Miami, Florida July 25– 29, 2012

The 13th International FX Conference is a five-day educational opportunity for families and individuals impacted by Fragile X and for professionals – physicians, scientists, clinicians, therapists and educators – from the Fragile X and intellectual disabilities fields. The event will be held at the InterContinental Miami. Set in the heart of the city’s thriving financial and business district, this grand downtown Miami hotel offers richly appointed accommodations and breathtaking views of Biscayne Bay. This years event is hosted by the Families for Fragile X in Florida.

For more information, and/or for the National Fragile X Foundation:

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Israeli Wheelchair-bound veteran sets himself on fire | July 22, 2012

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - A wheelchair-bound Israeli war veteran set himself alight at a bus stop on Sunday, sustaining serious burns, two days after a protester died of injuries from a similar incident.

Police and medics said the man was in his 50s and that passers-by put out the flames that engulfed him on a road near Tel Aviv. He suffered burns over 80 percent of his body.

"His story is a difficult one, his emotional and economic situations weren't easy," said Dudi Gilboa, a member of an Israeli disabled veterans group who knows the man.

Gilboa told Israel Radio he and the wheelchair-bound veteran had been embroiled in a dispute with authorities in charge of rehabilitating and helping wounded veterans.

"We have mourned our friends in battle, we don't want to lose them like this," Gilboa said, echoing the concerns of many in Israel that the July 14 self-immolation of Moshe Silman, at a march against rising housing and food prices, might be copied.

Silman, 57, died of his injuries on Friday and his plight stirred deep emotions in Israel.

Unable to pay debts he owed Israel's National Insurance Institute after failed business ventures, Silman lost his home and was destitute. He left behind a note accusing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz of "taking from the poor and giving to the rich".

Netanyahu called Silman's act "a great human tragedy" in remarks last week.

(Writing by Allyn Fisher-Ilan; Editing by Louise Ireland)

Medicaid in Illinois likely to expand under federal insurance law | July 21, 2012

GateHouse News Service

SPRINGFIELD -- Illinois probably will enact an 18 percent expansion of the Medicaid program in 2014, with the federal government paying almost the entire bill for the first three years as part of the Affordable Care Act.

But the expansion, which is expected to add about 500,000 people to a program that already covers 2.7 million of the state’s 12.8 million residents, may not come without vigorous debates in the Illinois House and Senate, lawmakers said last week.

Votes could come as soon as the fall veto session, House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie said, though it’s unclear whether the expansion requires legislative approval.

“There will be a lot of partisan teeth-gnashing and whatever, but at the end of the day, I don’t see how you turn down this opportunity to provide real health care for large numbers of people who otherwise wouldn’t have it,” said Currie, D-Chicago.

Republicans, on the other hand, are concerned about the potential for additional state costs and providing incentives for people to avoid buying private health insurance even if they can afford it, said Sen. Larry Bomke, R-Springfield.

‘Not responsible’

“People are not going to be responsible,” said Bomke, a part-owner of an insurance agency who will retire from the Senate in January. “Anyone who votes on this will have to look at whether the costs are worth it.”

Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, said he isn’t confident the federal government will keep its Medicaid funding promise to the states, and he doesn’t believe Illinois can afford to expand Medicaid.

“We’ve got $7.5 billion in unpaid bills,” said Brady.

If needed, Currie said, the Democrat-controlled General Assembly probably will approve the expansion. The ACA would, for the first time, make Medicaid available to adults in Illinois who don’t have minor children in their homes if their household income doesn’t exceed 138 percent of the federal poverty level, or less than $15,415 a year for an individual and $31,800 for a family of four.

The state would receive 100 percent federal reimbursement for these new enrollees until 2017, when the federal subsidy would begin to drop. Under the ACA, the federal share never would be lower than 90 percent for this income group.

Adults without children qualify for Illinois’ Medicaid program now only if they are senior citizens or have permanent disabilities and have incomes at or below the poverty line. Disabled adults can get Medicaid coverage if they are granted Social Security disability benefits.

The ACA also is expected to help other people get insurance coverage through state-level health-insurance exchanges that will distribute federal subsidies to help people pay the cost of private coverage.

Those premiums aren’t available to people under 100 percent of the federal poverty level. So if Illinois fails to expand Medicaid eligibility, many low-income people won’t be able to either afford private coverage or qualify for Medicaid, Currie said.

“I don’t see how you turn your back on them,” she said.

Some Republican governors have said their states will turn down the Medicaid expansion.

In Illinois, Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn supports the ACA and the Medicaid expansion.

“We are awaiting federal guidance and interpretation of the Supreme Court decision, and our attorneys are looking into state law issues to determine whether legislative approval is needed," Quinn aide Brooke Anderson said.

No welfare queens

Quinn’s support and the likelihood that Illinois Senate and House will remain in Democratic control after the November election make it likely that both chambers will vote to expand the program, according to Kent Redfield, professor emeritus of political science at the University of Illinois Springfield.

“This is not food stamps,” he said. “This is a more effective and efficient way of delivering health care. There really are no ‘welfare queens’ here.”

Republicans such as state Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka have said Illinois could face as much as $2.4 billion in new costs associated with the Medicaid expansion over the first six years.

The 2010 study that Topinka’s statement was based on — from the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured — also says Illinois would receive a total of $22.1 billion in additional federal Medicaid funding in the 2014-19 period because of the expansion.

Most of the state cost in the study is attributed to the “woodwork effect,” in which people already eligible for Medicaid but not currently enrolled might enroll in 2014 and beyond because of new outreach campaigns. Illinois would receive only a 50 percent federal match for those enrollees.

Quinn aides said Topinka’s $2.4 billion estimate is too high. The governor’s staff is preparing its own cost estimates but isn’t ready to release them, according to Michael Gelder, Quinn’s senior health-care policy adviser.

Healthier population

John Holahan, an Urban Institute researcher who co-authored the Kaiser study, said state costs associated with the Medicaid expansion may be offset by reduced state spending on programs that help hospitals care for the uninsured.

Advocates of the Medicaid expansion say it will lead to a healthier, more-employable population.

Gelder said Medicaid is a “very cost-effective program for the people who are enrolled in Medicaid, so we want to see more people in Medicaid,” a position echoed by Cristal Thomas, Quinn’s deputy governor for public policy.

“It would be a lot more efficient and effective to pay for them under Medicaid, where we can help make sure they get into prevention programs and get access to primary care and immunizations and all those things that will ultimately bring down the cost of care, rather than just serving them in emergency rooms as uncompensated care,” she said.

— Dean Olsen

Illinois Medicaid moratorium

The U.S. Supreme Court’s tweaking of the Affordable Care Act may prompt Gov. Pat Quinn to ask the Illinois General Assembly to lift a moratorium on Medicaid expansions, Quinn aides said.

House Bill 5007, which was passed by the Illinois House and Senate in May and signed by Quinn in June, allows for expansion of Medicaid eligibility in Cook County to all adults under 138 percent of the federal poverty level.

However, the bill, passed before the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on the ACA, puts in place a four-year moratorium on any Medicaid expansions elsewhere in the state.

The moratorium expires in January 2015, but the bill says the moratorium doesn’t apply to “expansions required as a federal condition of state participation in the medical assistance program.”

However, the U.S. Supreme Court, in its ACA ruling, said federal officials aren’t allowed to take away all of a state’s federal Medicaid funding if the state turns down the expansion. That raised the question of whether HB 5007’s moratorium would stop Illinois’ statewide Medicaid expansion, Currie said.

Lawyers and federal officials are examining Illinois’ quandary, deputy governor Cristal Thomas said.

“But right now,” she said, “I think there is a likelihood that we would have to go back and get legislative authority to do the expansion under that moratorium.”

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Stop Attacks on the Americans with Disabilities Act! Send a message to the Hotel and Lodging Association!!! July 2012

The Americans with Disabilities Act was enacted 22 years ago to end discrimination against people with disabilities. By fighting against the installation of pool lifts, you are discriminating against people with disabilities! The proposed rules were released in 2010 and were supposed to go into effect on March 15, 2012. This gave the hotel industry TWO YEARS to install pool lifts to make pools accessible to everyone.

Stop Attacks on the Americans with Disabilities Act!
Tell the hotel associations to stop trying to weaken the ADA!

In 2010, the U.S. Department of Justice issued a proposed rule that would require hotels with pools and other pools open to the public to provide lifts or sloped entries to make the pools accessible to people who use wheelchairs or have other mobility disabilities. The rule was set to go into effect on March 15, 2012, giving these pool owners two years to install pool lifts. Instead of urging their members to comply with the rules and provide access, the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AH&LA) and the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA) launched a campaign to overturn the access requirement and weaken the ADA.

The hotel industry has used many excuses to avoid installing pool lifts, including:

* Installing pool lifts are too expensive;
* Fixed pool lifts are unsafe for other guests and their children;
* People with disabilities don’t go to hotels; and
* People with disabilities will make pools unsanitary.
They said actually we’d poop in their pools! Seriously.
The Disability Community has attempted to work with these hotel associations to resolve this issue, but the hotel associations have made it clear that they will keep fighting the requirement to install fixed pool lifts.

This attack on the ADA isn’t just an assault on our right to access pools. It lays the groundwork for other groups to seek exemptions from making their programs, services and facilities accessible. This is an attack on the entire Disability Community. Ultimately, we could not just lose our access rights, but other rights under the ADA, including our right to live in the most integrated setting as affirmed by the Olmstead decision.

TAKE ACTION NOW so that the hotel industry, including the AH&LA and the AAHOA, understands we won’t let them continue to discriminate against people with disabilities and will not let them weaken our civil rights protections!

Click Headline to send a message to the hotel associations or visit:

We would like to thank and acknowledge the 'Center for Disabilities Right' for there leadership in protecting our Americans with Disabilities Act!!!

ADA Challenged - Accessibility Concerns Prompt Hotel Boycott | July 20, 2012

A coalition of disability groups from across the country is calling for a boycott of some of the biggest names in the hotel industry in a bid to force all lodging to become more accessible.

More than 50 national and local organizations are urging travelers to stay away from hotels run by members of the boards of two leading industry groups — the American Hotel & Lodging Association and the Asian American Hotel Owners Association.

Disability advocates blame the lodging industry associations for working to block enforcement of regulations that would force all hotel pools and spas to include lifts so that they are accessible.

The boycott targeting select locations of Radisson, Kimpton, Comfort Inn and Hampton Inn hotels in addition to several other national chains and independent properties is being spearheaded by the American Association of People with Disabilities, the National Disability Rights Network, ADAPT and the National Council on Independent Living.

The action comes after lobbying from the hotel industry led the U.S. Department of Justice to delay until Jan. 31 implementation of new Americans with Disabilities Act regulations requiring lifts at all public pools. The regulations were initially set to take effect in March.

“These industry groups are fighting tooth and nail to prevent Americans with disabilities from gaining access to their pools,” said Mark Perriello, president and CEO of the American Association of People with Disabilities, in a statement. “Twenty-two years after the passage of the (ADA), it’s disappointing to see the so-called ‘hospitality industry’ fight so hard to prevent its implementation. Now the disability community is fighting back.”

In addition to the current boycott plans, disability advocates are collecting a list of properties that are in compliance and are asking the public not to stay at hotels without pool lifts.

A representative of the American Hotel & Lodging Association told USA Today that the boycott is “unfortunate,” insisting that the group supports pool access for those with disabilities.

Article By Shaun Heasley
Disability Scoop

Copyright © 2012 Disability Scoop, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, July 20, 2012

"It's Our Story" Eleanor Smith, "Accepting a Lack of Access" - Answers from America's Disability Activists

Published on May 14, 2012 by ItsOurStoryProject

Eleanor Smith of Atlanta, GA, talks about growing up with a disability and learning to hold society to higher standards of accessibility and inclusiveness.

Eleanor Smith was a member of ADAPT and protested for accessible transportation; in 1987, she co-founded Concrete Change, an organization dedicated to accessibility in newly constructed houses.

This is #18 out of more than 1,000 interviews that "It's Our Story" has collected in an effort to free the voices of the disability community. Visit us at www.itsourstory.org

This interview transcribed by Jean Thompson.

# For more of "It's Our Story" visit : http://www.youtube.com/user/ItsOurStoryProject/featured

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

State of Illinois asks Feds to delay cutbacks for medically fragle children programs | July 18, 2012

{photo: Myra Young, of Chicago, with her four-year-old daughter Letty, attends a meeting about changes in a program that helps kids with complex medical needs. (Heather Charles, Chicago Tribune / July 11, 2012}

Illinois officials have asked the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for a 90-day deadline extension to work out changes to a program that funds in-home nursing care for medically fragile and technology dependent children.

Parents whose children now receive care in their homes under a Medicaid waiver program had asked Julie Hamos, head of the Department of Healthcare and Family Services, last week to seek an extension on the state’s deadline to apply for renewal of the program.

The parents feared that planned changes to the program -- new income restrictions and altered standards of guaranteed care -- will force the children out of their homes. They also complain that many details have not been worked out, including a transition plan for children who no longer would qualify.

The changes were slated to go into effect Sept. 1.

Two groups of fragile Illinois children receive in-home skilled nursing services funded by Medicaid dollars. About 500 are Medicaid recipients and about 550 are eligible under the waiver program.

Most of the children have tracheotomies and rely on ventilators to breathe or need feeding tubes or other medical intervention to survive. Without home- and community-based services, they would require institutional care in a hospital or nursing facility.

Officials from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on July 11 asked state officials to request a deadline extension to allow federal officials time to review the changes. The state submitted its request for a deadline extension on Monday.

In its letter seeking an extension, state Medicaid Director Theresa Eagleson cited the request by the regional office of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and "concerns expressed by families over the tight time frame for transition to a restructured program."

A spokeswoman for the CMS said the agency is in receipt of the state's request.
"A decision, regarding the extension, should be issued in the coming weeks," she said in a statement.

A group of parents filed a class action lawsuit July 9 seeking to halt the changes to the program, arguing that the plan violates the Americans with Disabilities Act and other federal laws.

Bob Farley, an attorney for the parents, said he viewed the request for a deadline extension as a good development "because no medically fragile child will have their Medicaid benefits eliminated or reduced during this review process by the federal government."

The program is being restructured to help close the state's budget holes and was part of Medicaid legislation passed by the General Assembly in May and later signed by Gov. Pat Quinn.

Article By Deborah L. Shelton
Chicago Tribune


FIGHT BACK against the attack on the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities | July 2012

FIGHT BACK against the attack on the CRPD!

We only have TODAY to beat back this attack.

E-mail your Senator TODAY!

Today, the disability community's key international effort, the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, is under attack from Rick Santorum and a small group of homeschoolers who think that approving the treaty will undermine US sovereignty (it will not).

Disability advocates have worked for YEARS to pass the CRPD---and one big reason the CRPD exists in the first place is because the US led the way in disability law with the Americans with Disabilities Act. ADAPT, Justin Dart, and many others led this fight. Unless the US approves the CRPD, America gets NO place at international discussion on disability policy. The US needs to ratify the CRPD to take its place in international disability efforts and to affirm its commitment to self-determination, access and community living or people with disabilities.

We only have TODAY to beat back this attack. Then, it is over. It will be incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to do this again. We need a WIN for bipartisan disability rights commitment.
Please contact your Senators TODAY before 5 pm EST to let them know we have to win this fight!

Link to TAKE ACTION !!!

FCC Seeks Comment on the Accessibility of Communications Technologies - Comment Deadline: July 25, 2012

On July 12, 2012, the FCC’s Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau (CGB) released a Public Notice asking for information about the following:

# the level of compliance with requirements that telecommunications and advanced communications services and equipment be accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities;

# the effect of requirements for related recordkeeping and enforcement on the development and deployment of new communications technologies; and

# the extent to which accessibility barriers still exist with respect to new communications technologies.
This information will help inform the FCC’s first report to Congress about these issues, which is required by the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA) and is due October 8, 2012. The FCC will publish and seek public comment on its tentative findings on these matters before it submits its report to Congress.

Links to the Public Notice:




For more information: contact Rosaline Crawford, Disability Rights Office, Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau, at 202-418-2075 or rosaline.crawford@fcc.gov.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Americans with Disabilities Act Home Page : U.S. Department of Justice 2012 | info, resources

With July 26 being the anniversary of the ADA, The following info can help all with Regulations, Technical Assistance, Enforcement, and Status of the ADA;

The U.S. Department of Justice provides information about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) through a toll-free ADA Information Line. This service permits businesses, State and local governments, or others to call and ask questions about general or specific ADA requirements including questions about the ADA Standards for Accessible Design.

ADA specialists are available Monday through Friday from 9:30 AM until 5:30 PM (eastern time) except on Thursday when the hours are 12:30 PM until 5:30 PM.

Spanish language service is also available.

For general ADA information, answers to specific technical questions, free ADA materials, or information about filing a complaint, call:

800 - 514 - 0301 (voice)

800 - 514 - 0383 (TTY)

For the very detail ADA Home Page of the U.S. Department of Justice, click headline or go to: http://www.ada.gov/

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Prescription drug labels accessible to people with vision impairments : U.S Access Board to Lead Effort | July, 2012

U.S Access Board to Lead Effort to Develop Guidance
on Accessible Drug Labels

The Access Board will lead an effort to develop guidance on making prescription drug labels accessible to people with vision impairments under an act signed into law by President Obama this week. The "Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act" includes measures to promote drug safety and to improve FDA procedures for reviewing new medicines and medical devices.

A provision of the act authorizes the Board to convene a stakeholder working group to develop best practices for making information on prescription drug container labels accessible to people who are blind or visually impaired. This group, which will include equal representation from advocacy organizations and from industry, will develop best practices for pharmacies on providing independent access to prescription drug container labels. The working group will explore various alternatives, including braille, large print labels, and auditory technologies such as “talking bottles” and radio frequency identification tags. The group’s recommendations, which are to be developed within one year, will be advisory only, not mandatory, and will not have the force of guidelines or standards.

The law also calls upon the National Council on Disability to conduct an informational and educational campaign in cooperation with the stakeholder working group to inform the public, including people with disabilities and pharmacists, of the best practices. The Government Accountability Office will undertake a review at a later date to assess the extent to which pharmacies are following the best practices and to what extent barriers to information on prescription drug container labels remain.

For further information, contact Marsha Mazz at mazz@access-board.gov, (202) 272-0020 (v), or (202) 272-0076 (TTY). Additional information is posted on the Board’s website. Those interested in this initiative can sign up to receive further updates.

For the United States Access Board:

Illinois near bottom in caring for disabled, ranked 48th of 50 states | July 14, 2012

An Algonquin mother who abandoned her disabled daughter more than two weeks ago in a Tennessee bar said she did it because of a lack of state assistance and options in Illinois.

As Tennessee officials care for 19-year-old Lynn Cameron and discuss what, if any, charges can be brought against her mother, Eva Cameron, advocates say the state of Illinios is in dire need of improvement to deal with its disabled people.

“We have situations every day with families who feel as though they have reached the end of their abilities or resources to care for their disabled children,” said Cindy Sullivan, executive director of Options and Advocacy for McHenry County.

Sullivan said that while resources are scarce, some are available. “Had we known about [Lynn Cameron], we would have helped her,” she said.

The Crystal Lake-based agency provides services to people with developmental disabilities – services that are becoming more difficult to provide because of a lack in state funding and mounting debt.

The agency is a starting point for families seeking funding to care for their disabled children, both young and old, although options are very limited, Sullivan said.

To get funding for residential services, a disabled adult must meet state crisis criteria, which include having become homeless, having been abused or neglected, or having incurred complete loss of caregivers, she said. The Office of the Inspector General through the Illinois Department of Human Services typically takes control of the abandoned disabled.

The office assists agencies and facilities in prevention efforts by investigating reports of abuse, neglect and mistreatment in a timely manner, to foster humane, competent, respectful and caring treatment of persons with mental and developmental disabilities, according to the Illinois Department of Human Services website.

The disabled also are eligible for special education through local school districts, which ends when they reach the age of 22, said Sullivan, who is a single mother with a disabled 29-year-old daughter

“My greatest fear is that she will outlive me because my concern is that no one can or is willing or able to care for my daughter the way that I have,” she said. “That is a very difficult thing to articulate, but there are many other parents in the same situation.”
Illinois ranked 48th of 50 states and the District of Columbia the past two years in Medicaid services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, according to an annual study by United Cerebral Palsy, an international advocacy group for disabled children and adults.

The ranking – called “The Case for Inclusion” – breaks down states’ performance by investigating the way disabled people live in their communities, their satisfaction levels and accessibility of services.

“We have a long, long way to go,” said Peggy Childs, executive vice president of United Cerebral Palsy of Greater Chicago. “There is a dire need for services for adults with disabilities. The state has strong institutional services, but we need to move to a more community-based model.”

If Gov. Pat Quinn’s highly debated proposal to close four state institutions, including the Jacksonville Developmental Center, were approved, Illinois could be the breakaway low performer next year, the study states.

“We should be ashamed of ourselves,” Sullivan said, adding that because there is no state mandate, meaning fewer services for adult disabled people.

The waiting list statewide for parents and caregivers seeking assistance in caring for the disabled has reached more than 21,000, according to the Prioritization of Urgency of Need for Services database.

More than 1,000 on the list are scheduled to receive services this fiscal year in the wake of class-action lawsuits filed against the state, said Tony Paulauski, executive director of Frankfurt-based The Arc of Illinois, a statewide advocacy organization for the disabled.

“Illinois has been negligent in providing services and whittling away at the waiting list,” Paulauski said. “It’s like hitting the lottery when you are selected.”

McHenry County has 5,236 residents with development disabilities based on 2010 Census data, 935 of whom are receiving services, Sullivan said.

That includes 12 group homes serving 89 people, 110 families receiving respite services, 168 people receiving home-based services, and the others getting support such as case management and advocacy, she said.

“We know it’s an uphill climb,” Sullivan said. “I’d hate to be waiting for assistance.”

Article By LAWERENCE SYNETT | Northwest Herald


Friday, July 13, 2012

Countdown to the ADA anniversary of July 26 - AAPD Speaks to Partick Cokley - (video)

The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) released video's leading up to July 26, (in 2010) the 20th anniversary of the ADA....

YouTube Uploaded by AAPDvideo on Jun 7, 2010


My name is Partick Cokley and I'm a resident of Washington, DC.
And I am a person with a disability. I have what's called low vision.

What does the 20th anniversary of the ADA mean to you?

The 20th anniversary of the ADA is something that's very interesting, more than just marking in time
that it's been 20 years since the signing of the original Americans With Disabilities Act,
The 20th anniversary means that it's been 20 years of carrying the torch, or sort of passing the light.
It means really a time for us to look back and sort of see what's happened as far as disability in the United States.
And also really put some significant effort into planning what our next steps forward are going to be.
What are we going to be saying happened in the 20 years after?
And what were the next steps that we took in order to further the mission of the original intent of the Americans with Disabilities Act?

How has the ADA impacted your life?

I'm one of those people that can claim that they're part of the "ADA Generation."
The generation of people that has benefited from the fact that the Americans With Disabilities Act came to pass when I was still in grade school.
What that means, however, is not that I've been luckier than any other person with a disability.
It does mean that a significant gain had been made by the time I came on the scene.
However, it also means that I have even more of a responsibility to continue carrying the light forward.
And doing the next steps, yes we've gotten past protests; there's still some protests to be had, but what are the next major things involved with entrenchment
with policy change, with government infiltration, how are we really going to change the culture of the United States to understand disability is a part of all of us.

What changes have you seen as a result of the ADA?

I grew up in a place where either you were blind or you weren't.
Low vision wasn't something I learned about until later on.
The ADA is one of those things that the major change that it makes is that it gives people the opportunity to be more than just a person with a disability.
Nothing wrong with being a person with a disability. But in a sense that the ADA is there to protect all sorts of people.
It protects disability. It provides for the things that we need in the workplace.
It allows people to not even be aware that they have a disability, but to know that there are protections in place to make sure they're treated equally as all Americans are.

What still needs to be done or changed regarding the ADA?

I think the next step for the ADA, even after the Americans With Disabilities Amendments Act, is really more about changing the culture of how disability is percieved in America.
We're at a very exciting tipping point right now. We know with a large number of baby boomers that are going to be retiring and aging into disability so to speak,
that disability is not going to be the socially different thing that it once was.
Yeah, sure, all of us know people with disabilities. But now we're at a point where all of us not only know them, we expect to see them in the workplace.
We expect to see them out at social places. We expect to see them in restaurants. And there's still a significant cultural shift that needs to take place
in order to show that Americans are always going to be open and welcoming of these things.
It's definitely gonna be something very exciting in the next 20 years to see disability really become even more commonplace
and to sort of see how universal design and other techniques of inclusiveness really changed the face of America.

U.S. Dept of Labor - proposed changes in federal labor rules regarding attendants! July 2012

The Department of Labor must carefully consider the needs of people with disabilities before publishing final rules!

Tell the Obama Administration to continue discussions with the Disability Community before publishing final rules!
Because the US Department of Labor (DOL) didn’t effectively consult with the Disability Community in the development of its proposed changes in federal labor rules regarding attendants, these changes will have a negative impact on people with disabilities and attendants! Initially DOL responded to these concerns by meeting with representatives from the Disability Community and ADAPT activists. However, after Deputy Secretary Seth Harris visited the folks in Rochester (NY) and heard once again how DOL’s proposed changes would hurt people wit disabilities, attendants and attendant services in general (consumer directed and agency model), these discussions abruptly ended.

DOL says that it can’t discuss the impact of these proposed changes because it is currently engaged in the rulemaking process, but there is a way to fix that! Advocates have proposed that DOL can finalize the change in the companionship exemption that would eliminate the exemption from third-party employers. After clarifying that this change would not affect consumer-directed fiscal intermediaries, the proposed change would cover 70 percent of attendants – including those who are taken advantage of by the home care industry. By leaving the rest of the rules intact, DOL could start formal discussions with the Disability Community about how to handle the companionship exemption in consumer directed services as well as those using the agency model.

Let’s make sure that the administration understands that it needs to continue to work with the Disability Community before it publishes final rules that affect our right to live in the community and manage our own services and supports! Tell the Obama Administration that there should be

TAKE ACTION NOW! Visit the 'Center for Disability Rights':

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Illinois Disability advocates say changes will compromise in-home care for medically fragile kids | July 11, 2012

Parents and advocates for the disabled called on Illinois officials Wednesday to delay changes to a state program that funds in-home nursing care for more than 1,000 medically fragile and technology-dependent children.

Angry, sometimes tearful parents confronted Julie Hamos, director of the state Department of Healthcare and Family Services, and other agency officials, pressing for details about the changes and what will happen after they are implemented Sept. 1.

They fear that new income restrictions and altered standards of guaranteed care will force their children out of their homes. Most of the children have tracheotomies and rely on ventilators to breathe or need feeding tubes or other medical intervention to survive. Without home- and community-based services, they would require institutional care in a hospital or nursing facility.

Learning that many details have not been worked out, including a transition plan for children who no longer would qualify for the program, they asked Hamos to push back the start of changes.

Hamos told them she would take their request under consideration but could not commit to it.

"We have a state law and cannot make decisions on our own that change state law," she told parents and others who gathered in Springfield and Chicago, linked by videoconference.

Her reply drew an angry response.

"We are not comforted by the lack of a plan," said Margaret Storey, one of the parents. "You have got to get this straight. That's the least you owe these families, as human beings."

The program was restructured to help close the state's budget holes and was part of Medicaid legislation passed by the General Assembly in May and later signed by Gov. Pat Quinn.

Two groups of children born with a range of medical conditions requiring technology to survive receive in-home skilled nursing services funded by Medicaid dollars. Half — about 500 — are Medicaid recipients. About 550 are eligible under a waiver program.

Starting Sept. 1, parents' income will be considered in determining financial eligibility for the waiver program. It cannot exceed 500 percent of the federal poverty level, or $115,250 for a family of four.

Copayments will be established for private-duty nursing for all families at or above 150 percent of the federal poverty level. The maximum copayments will be set at the level allowed by federal law, which is expected to be 5 percent of family income.

Medicaid is funded with state and federal money, and Illinois is submitting an application to the federal government to renew the waiver program with the changes.

Much of the parents' concern centered on a change in the level of care provided to the children, who now receive an institutional, or hospital, level of care. That standard is being changed to a nursing facility level of care, which some parents view as a step down.

Hamos agreed there was confusion about the issue, which she describes as complicated and difficult to understand, even for state officials, and said officials soon would clarify what the change meant.

State officials have said that although families need to pick up a bigger share of the costs of the program, only a small fraction of the children — about 5 percent — would no longer qualify for in-home care under the new income requirements. The families think the number will be much higher.

Some families and advocates also questioned whether the changes would save a significant amount of money. Skilled nursing services provided in the home cost an average of about $11,000 to about $16,000 monthly, compared with about $55,000 monthly in a hospital, according to a lawsuit parents across the state filed Monday.

The lawsuit seeks to halt the changes to the program, arguing that the plan violates the Americans with Disabilities Act and other federal laws.

Several parents brought their children to the meeting. Fifteen-month-old Alejandro Ako, who has spinal muscular dystrophy, was wheeled into the conference room accompanied by one of his nurses and an arsenal of portable medical equipment and supplies.

"They need to see who they're affecting," his father, Shea Ako, said before the meeting. "I want to show people that these children are not just a bunch of numbers."

Earlier, a group of parents picketed in front of the Department of Healthcare and Family Services offices on South Clinton Street, wearing bright yellow T-shirts that read: "Save the Waiver. Kids Belong at Home."

Article By Deborah L. Shelton, Chicago Tribune
Copyright © 2012, Chicago Tribune
Thursday, July 12, 2012

Sick Children Fight Illinois Budget Cuts

CHICAGO (CN) - "Draconian" state budget cuts will force more than 1,000 medically fragile disabled children out of their homes and into institutions and will reduce or eliminate their Medicaid, six families say in a federal class action.
"Effective September 1, 2012, the State of Illinois is unraveling 27 years of community based services to medically fragile children by making Draconian cuts to Medicaid services to the plaintiffs and putative class which puts them at risk of institutionalization in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Rehabilitation Act and Medicaid," the families say in their complaint against the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services and its director Julie Hamos.
The class of severely disabled children who need an in-home nurse at least 12 hours a day seek an injunction against new state rules that will reduce or eliminate their Medicaid benefits, which they claim will force them to be institutionalized.
"The plaintiffs and class consist of approximately 1,050 medically fragile disabled children who currently receive funding from the defendant for skilled nursing services at their home at an average monthly cost between $11,000 to $16,000, depending upon their medical needs, so that they do not have to be institutionalized or hospitalized for their entire life at a rate of approximately $55,000 per month," the complaint states.
The children are 1 to 15 years old, require at least 12 hours a day of nursing care, and their family income exceeds 500 percent of the federal poverty rate, or $95,450 for a family of three.
One child, M.K., "requires intensive vigilant nursing care that consists of: tracheostomy care, monitoring of respiratory and cardiac status, suctioning, monitoring of fragile statue of g-button and trach, meticulous skin care including many topical creams/ointments that are applied daily, and several medications that are administered on a daily basis via g-tube," according to the complaint.
The Illinois Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services Waiver for Children that are Medically Fragile, Technology Dependent (MF/TD) allows "eligible children to remain in their own homes rather than in an institutional setting," the class says.
Under the waiver, "the State of Illinois is required to show that the cost of providing home and community based services is less (or at least cost neutral) than the cost of providing those services in an institution (hospital). The hospital level of care is approximately $55,000 per month and the current cost of providing community based services (Skilled Nursing and Medicaid) is about 1/3rd the hospital level of care so cost neutrality is satisfied," the complaint states.
The new waiver, effective Sept. 1, "eliminates the hospital level of care and substitutes a nursing facility as being the level of care which the medically fragile children require. Accordingly, in order to be cost neutral, the comparable institution (nursing facility) rate would be used instead of the hospital rate. The nursing facility rate will be approximately $9,400 per month, which means the State of Illinois will not approve community based skill nursing and Medicaid funding for the medically fragile children which exceeds the sum of $9,400 per month. ...
"By Illinois reclassifying 99 percent of the persons in the MF/TD Waiver as only needing a nursing facility level of care as opposed to a hospital level care in order to cap or limit the 'medical necessity' level of funding, the state is placing the plaintiffs and putative class at risk of institutionalization," the class claims.
In addition, the new waiver will exclude medically fragile children from families with incomes of over 500 percent of the federal poverty rate.
"A medically fragile child will be unable to receive in-home medically necessary services when the average cost of those services is $188,000 from a family that is excluded because they make too much money (in excess of $95,450 for a family of three)," the complaint states. (Parentheses in complaint.)
The class seeks an injunction prohibiting the new MF/TD waiver from reducing or denying class members' Medicaid benefits.
States across the nation have instituted similar budget cuts since the financial crisis began, which often have been challenged by class actions. As in this case, the classes nearly always object that institutionalizing the sick people will cost far more in the long run.
Lead plaintiff T.B., 5, his parents, Thomas and Margaret Boyce, and the rest of the class are represented by Robert Farley Jr., of Naperville.

Courthouse News Service

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Illinois Vets - Long Waits For Disability Benefits, Medical Care | A Frustrating System | July 11, 2011

CHICAGO (CBS2) – As more American troops leave Iraq and Afghanistan, more are coming home with disabilities, but any say the wait for their disability benefits and medical care is longer and more complicated than they ever expected.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs says it’s working hard on the problem.

CBS 2’s Bill Kurtis has the first of two parts on what some veterans have to say about the issue.

They came back from battle scarred — physically and emotionally.

“I was in Iraq for a total of 26 months,” said Iraq veteran Crystal Colon. “It does a lot to your psyche.”

“We were actually in a convoy and we got ambushed,” said fellow Iraq veteran Derek Giffin.

Vietnam veteran George Fuentes said, “We were the last battalion there, doing all the final sweeps around Saigon.”

But those veterans and others who have talked to CBS 2 about being wounded in action said they feel like they’re still fighting, after coming back from war.

Now, it’s to get their disability benefits, and to see a doctor for their ailments.

Giffin said, “It really is frustrating.”

The V.A. said it’s working hard to cut delays in providing benefits, and that the average time to process a benefits claim is 250 days – about 100 more in Chicago.

But Giffin, who served in Iraq and now counsels other veterans, said he sees a different number.

“We usually tell veterans that they should expect to wait about 500 days before they receive a rating decision,” he said.

It’s not just frustration. Several veterans said they feel forgotten.

Take Fuentes, who was left with back and shoulder injuries after his unit was ambushed. He also suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Since April 2011, he’s been getting letters from the V.A., saying it’s working on his claim.

“I call them once a month, and the only thing they said, ‘Oh, your case is still being evaluated,’” Fuentes said.

Just last week, he even went to the V.A. processing center, where he said a clerk told him, “they’re working on it. They’re working on all the claims from 2010 now. … They’re working on it, that’s all she said. She said it three times.”

Colon, who served twice in Iraq, is still waiting for benefits, too.

While volunteering at a food pantry for homeless veterans, she told her story.

“I filed in Texas,” she said. “It took the V.A. months to move my claim from Texas to the state of Illinois.”

It took eight months and one week, to be exact.

Several vets, including Steven Thomas, said if they have an ongoing problem, just getting a doctor’s appointment can take several months.

Thomas has debilitating arthritis.

“I went to rheumatology in February, and I didn’t get an appointment for a follow-up until September the 18th,” he said.

Thomas said, last week, he learned he got into a pain management program, 10 months after making the request.

“This is how the V.A. operates,” he said.

But the V.A. begged to differ, pointing to new high-tech programs that are taking them light years ahead of where they’ve been.

Kurtis will have more on how the V.A. is addressing delays in providing benefits on Thursday.

Most of the veterans who spoke to CBS 2 about the delay in getting benefits also said they don’t look at the V.A. as the bad guy. In fact, Giffin said the V.A. is full of “great people,” there have just been problems with the system.

Report by Bill Kurtis | CBS2 Chicago

July 12, 2012

V.A. Working To Speed Up Claims Processing For Vets

CHICAGO (CBS) – Many veterans have complained that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs keeps them waiting months for benefits and, in some cases, medical care; but the V.A. says it’s working to speed up its process.

CBS 2’s Bill Kurtis has more on the V.A.’s efforts to cut through the red tape when getting veterans the medical and psychological treatment they need.

“The Army has a saying: ‘Hurry up and wait,’” said veteran Steven Thomas. “That’s what the V.A. does.”

Thomas is one of many veterans who said they’ve had to wait months to see a V.A. doctor for ongoing problems.

“I’ve called for appointments for optometry as early as last month, and my appointments aren’t made until Oct. 17,” he said.

Dr. Jeff Ryan, deputy chief of staff for outpatient services at Chicago’s Jesse Brown V.A. hospital, said, “Overall we do a very good job on access, but we do recognize there are some areas where we do struggle.”

Jesse Brown alone takes 500,000 outpatient appointments a year.

Ryan said the V.A. cares about providing veterans the care they need, and is taking action by hiring more employees and improving communication.

What does he say to frustrated veterans?

“We want to hear from you,” he said.

To make that easier, the V.A. runs a call center where vets can report concerns and complaints, and the agency is hiring more advocates to serve patients.

The V.A. knows it has problems, and is trying to surge ahead, in what they describe as going from a steam engine to a jet engine.

Another problem is the long waits veterans face in getting disability benefits. Nationally, it takes an average of 250 days to complete a claim. In busy Chicago, it takes an average of 350 days.

“That’s too long,” said Beth McCoy, a regional V.A. director. “Our goal is that no claim will be pending more than 125 days.”

Another way of getting that jet engine going is implementation of an online program to give veterans self-service access to their benefits claims and appeals, 24/7.

“You can go onto e-benefits and check the status of your claim, or your appeal. You can download forms that may be helpful to you,” McCoy said.

Also on the site are new medical questionnaires for vets to take to doctors, in or out of the V.A. system.

Details left out on claim forms can delay processing benefits. The forms are so specific, they have all the information the V.A. needs, but perhaps the largest task is going paperless.

“We’re going paperless. We have to go paperless,” McCoy said.

It’s a work in progress. When finished, records would be stored, not in stacks, but electronically.

“If you file a new claim … then we will start paperless there and scan in the whole claims folder,” McCoy said.

That could have helped veteran Mickey Magnifico. She said she filed for benefits the day after she got home from Iraq, but several months later, was told the V.A. couldn’t find her claim.

“I had to re-file my claim,” she said.

That kind of frustration is what the V.A. wants to end.

“Our veterans deserve the best. They deserve the best quality, and the best timeliness in their decision-making that we can give them,” McCoy said.

The V.A. processes more than one million claims a year.

REPORT by Bill Kurtis
CBS2 Chicago

Illinois State Finals For Disabled Athletes On Track | July 11, 2012

Student athletes with disabilities will soon get an equal footing with the rest of their fellow able-teammates.

The Illinois High School Association recently announced it would begin a two-year pilot program with state finals for disabled athletes this upcoming academic year.

State finals will be offered in cross country, bowling, swimming/diving, and track and field.

“We are confident that by working together, we will help raise awareness about the abilities of people with disabilities and ultimately more parents, coaches and physical education teachers will encourage athletics for students with disabilities,” said IHSA Executive Director Marty Hickman in a written statement.

The announcement comes on the heels of a federal lawsuit filed by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan alleging the IHSA has discriminated against athletes with disabilities.

Up until this announcement, there has been no opportunity for disabled athletes to compete at the state level in Illinois other than wheelchair basketball.

Disabled athletes are allowed to compete during their team’s regular season, but in order to go to state they would have to meet the able-athlete standard.

A special ad-hoc committee was put together in February that has been reviewing ways to implement the pilot program. The IHSA is still working out the specific details of how it will administer qualifying for the state finals in each sport.

It is possible disabled athletes will have to meet a standard setup specifically for their disability or that all will be welcome to compete, such as what Minnesota allowed in their past state finals in track and field, officials said.

“At this point, it is too early to determine the exact process for qualifying, as well as the standards,” said IHSA spokesman Matt Troha. “We are in the process of working with some of the groups and individuals involved in our ad hoc committee panel sessions to determine the best course of action for the qualifying standards.”

Minnesota has been a long time leader in adapted athletics and has evolved splitting their disabled athletic competitions into two categories – physical and cognitive impairments.

IHSA is still working on whether it will do the same during this preliminary stage. The agency is gathering data via membership surveys on how many disabled athletes have an interest in competing, Troha said.

“We want to be able to offer a meaningful experience for all the student-athletes who are competing,” he said.

The ad-hoc committee chose to pilot these particular sports because they’ve had high participation numbers already, “which make them a good starting point to build our program off of,” Troha added.

Journal & Topics Newspapers Online, Des Plaines, IL


Illinois 2-1-1 helps locate health and human service assistance, in McLean, Livingston and DeWitt counties

Every hour of every day, someone in Illinois needs help locating and connecting with essential community services. On February 11, 2009, United Way 2-1-1 made its debut in Central Illinois to help residents find fast, free and confidential help for health and human services. 2-1-1 is the number to call to get or give help in McLean, DeWitt and Livingston Counties.

United Way 2-1-1 is for times of non-emergency crisis as well as for everyday needs. The 2-1-1 call specialists are available to help individuals locate health and human service assistance, on everything from mortgage assistance, EITC tax help and food and shelter, to job counseling services and health resources. United Way 2-1-1 is an easy to remember telephone number that connects people with important community services, such as:

§ Basic Human Needs: such as food, shelter, rent and utility assistance

§ Physical and Mental Health Resources: such as health insurance programs, Medicaid and Medicare, medical information lines, crisis intervention services

§ Employment Supports: such as job training, transportation assistance, education programs

§ Support for Older Americans and Persons with Disabilities: such as adult day care, respite care, home health care, independent living programs

§ Support for Children, Youth and Families: such as afterschool programs, family resource centers, mentoring, tutoring, protective services

If you are unable to connect to 2-1-1 through your phone, call 1-800-570-PATH (7284).

FOR access the United Way 2-1-1 database of social services in McLean, Livingston and DeWitt counties: