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

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Chicago Disability Rights Advocates Continue Call For Equal Access To Southwest Side CTA Bus Route: article & video

article by Ashlee Rezin, Progress Illinois, July 31st, 2013

Chicago -- Despite a renovated bus stop at the corner of 31st Street and Spaulding Avenue, activists are saying people with disabilities are still denied equal access to public transportation and full equality in Chicago's Little Village neighborhood on the city's Southwest Side.

“This is a great win, but there is still a lot of work left to be done,” said Adam Ballard, an organizer for the disability advocacy group Access Living.

The newly-renovated bus station received fresh cement and sidewalk ramps in June, thanks to Ald. Ricardo Munoz (22nd), who dedicated $230,000 from his ward’s menu money, which is a pot of discretionary funds designed for infrastructure projects.

Ballard, whose mobility is limited to a wheelchair because he was born with arthrogryposis, joined activists and community residents on Wednesday morning to celebrate what participants called a “partial victory.”

“This is just the beginning, and now we have to continue to push for the rest of the area to get renovated,” he said.

After the No. 35 bus route was extended to include large portions of West 31st Street in September, grassroots organizations that had been working for nearly a decade to restore public transportation to their neighborhood were disappointed to discover an overwhelming majority of the bus stations were in desperate need of repair.

In response to accusations that the bus route violates guidelines of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires equal access to public transportation, the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) sent engineers out to inspect and identify stations that are inadequate.

In total, the engineers identified $1.2 million of necessary repairs at 22 of the route’s 26 stations on West 31st Street.

“We're not thanking anyone yet," said Claudia Ayala, public transit coordinator for the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO), who attended Tuesday’s demonstration.

Only a few years after the No. 35 bus route was discontinued in 1997 due to low ridership, members of LVEJO began advocating for a better public transportation system in Little Village.

“This area has changed dramatically in the last several years, including [the addition of] a new high school,” she said. “But the whole area has a complete lack of accessibility.”

Scoffing at cracked and poorly-maintained sidewalks on both sides of the renovated bus stop, Ayala called the 31st Street and Spaulding Avenue station a “quick fix to the situation.”

“These sidewalks should have been prioritized months ago,” she said. “We need to make sure the whole area is addressed entirely, because this lack of accessibility affects our entire community and our ability to go to work, go to school and really just live.”

The infrastructure’s dilapidation is likely due to the area’s long-standing reputation as an industrialized area without a lot of residential activity, said Luann Hamilton, deputy commissioner of CDOT.

“Obviously this area is in need of renewal, the infrastructure is pretty old,” she said.

Hamilton, who addressed the crowd at the rehabbed station, added that completing all of the necessary renovations on the West 31st Street bus route would likely be a “multi-year” effort.

“It’s still hard times financially,” she said. “But we’re making the most with what we have and trying to direct it to the places with the most need.”

Michelle Garcia, a community organizer with Cambiando Vidas, Access Living’s Latino-specific grassroots offset, said she will continue to push for increased accessibility along the No. 35 bus route.

“We’re not treated as equals in many instances, that’s why we’re here,” she said. “It is my right as a human, and as a citizen of Chicago, to have access to public transportation.”

Here’s more from Garcia:

YouTube Published by Progress Illinois on Jul 31, 2013

Ald. George Cardenas (12th), who celebrated the new bus station with Access Living and Cambiando Vidas, also committed to spending a portion of his ward’s menu money on upgrades to the bus route, which extends into a portion of his ward. He did not, however, indicate how much will be spent or when it would happen.

“If there’s a bus stop that has accessibility issues in the 12th ward, it’s going to get fixed,” he said. “I don’t know what the cost is, but it’s going to get fixed.”

Cardenas added that the Illinois General Assembly should also be contributing to the bus route’s infrastructure upgrades. He said he would write a letter to State Sen. Martin Sandoval (D-Chicago), whose district includes the bus route, to request capital funds be dedicated to increase accessibility at the stations.

“If you look at these sidewalks, all of these upgrades can’t come from menu money,” he said. “This area is not adequate for people with disabilities, but we can’t fix it alone. We need money from Springfield.”

Meanwhile, Cambiando Vidas also plans to visit stores and restaurants in Little Village to call on business owners in the neighborhood to assist in the push for infrastructure upgrades.

“We live in the community, we’re part of the community,” Garcia, who was born with cerebral palsy, said. “We should be able to patronize local stores and restaurants. But our neighborhood just has such a lack of resources.”

She said most residents don’t know which agencies to contact when sidewalks are cracked and curbs are lacking ramps. The first step, she added, is education.

“If they need to make their businesses accessible to everyone, we’re going to show them how to do it,” Garcia said. “Reaching full equality and accessibility is a work in progress.”


Florida Hospital Employee And Accomplice Sentenced For Tax Refund Fraud Using Stolen Patient Information

PRESS RELEASE July 29, 2013
United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Michael J. DePalma, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), Miami Field Office, Ronald Verrochio, Inspector in Charge, U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), and Scott J. Israel, Sheriff, Broward Sheriff’s Office, announce that defendant Shalamar Major, 32, of Deerfield Beach, Florida, was sentenced today before U.S. District Judge Robin S. Rosenbaum, in connection with her previous conviction for unauthorized HIPAA disclosures, in violation of Title 42, United States Code, Section 1320d-6, and conspiracy to commit false claims, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 286, in connection with a tax refund scheme that used stolen social security and other personal identifying information to file on-line tax returns claiming fraudulent tax refunds from the IRS.

At today’s hearing, Judge Rosenbaum sentenced defendant Major to 18 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release and ordered that she pay $15,795 in restitution to the IRS. Previously, on July 22, 2013, Judge Rosenbaum sentenced co-defendant Tanisha Wright, 27, of Deerfield Beach, Florida, to 40 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release and ordered that she pay $174,130 in restitution to the IRS. Defendant Wright had previously plead guilty to three counts of identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028(a)(7), three counts of theft of public money, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 641, one count of access device fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1029(a)(3), one count of aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028A, one count of theft of mail, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1708, and one count of conspiracy to commit false claims, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 286.

According to documents filed and statements made in court, from January through June 2012, Wright and Major possessed and used stolen personal identifying information of others to file federal income tax returns claiming tax refunds to which they were not entitled. Specifically, defendant Shalamar Major was employed as a scheduler at the Boca Raton Regional Hospital in Boca Raton, Florida. As a scheduler, she had access to personal identification information of Boca Raton Regional Hospital patients, including their names, dates of birth, social security numbers, and other sensitive personal information. In exchange for the promise of future payments, Shalamar Major unlawfully provided Tanisha Wright sensitive personal identifying information, including names, dates of birth, and social security numbers, of numerous Boca Raton Regional Hospital patients. Tanisha Wright, upon receipt of the sensitive personal identifying information of the Boca Raton Regional Hospital patients, used this information to electronically file fraudulent federal income tax returns without the knowledge or authorization of the victims and claimed refunds to which she was not entitled from the IRS.

Tanisha Wright thereafter instructed the IRS to direct-deposit the refunds onto pre-paid reloadable debit cards that were already in her possession and had been previously stolen out of the U.S. mail. Once the debit cards had been funded by the Department of the Treasury, Tanisha Wright would convert the funds on the debit cards to cash by making withdrawals at local automated teller machines or would make personal purchases at various local businesses. Once Tanisha Wright obtained cash from the fraudulently funded debit cards, she would split the proceeds with Shalamar Major. In total, at least 57 fraudulent tax returns were filed with the IRS, requesting $306,720 in federal tax refunds.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of IRS-CI, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the Broward Sheriff’s Office. This case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Marc Anton.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

Brooklyn Clinic Employee Yuri Khandrius, Sentenced to Eight Years in Prison in Connection with $77 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme

PRESS RELEASE July 30, 2013
Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

Yuri Khandrius, 50, of Brooklyn, N.Y., was sentenced today to eight years in prison for his role in a $77 million Medicare fraud scheme.

In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Judge Nina Gershon of the Eastern District of New York sentenced Khandrius to three years of supervised release with a concurrent exclusion from Medicare, Medicaid and all federal and state health programs and an exclusion from any employment that involves handling of any federal or state funds; ordered him to forfeit $446,655; and ordered him to pay restitution in the amount of $10 million.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Loretta E. Lynch of the Eastern District of New York; Assistant Director in Charge George Venizelos of the FBI’s New York Field Office; and Special Agent in Charge Thomas O’Donnell of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’s Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) made the announcement.

Khandrius pleaded guilty on Dec. 3, 2012, to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, one count of health care fraud and one count of conspiracy to pay kickbacks.
Including Khandrius, 13 individuals have been convicted in this case.

According to court documents, from 2005 to 2010, Khandrius was an employee of a clinic in Brooklyn that operated under three corporate names: Bay Medical Care PC, SVS Wellcare Medical PLLC and SZS Medical Care PLLC. According to court documents, the owners, operators and employees of the Bay Medical clinic paid cash kickbacks to Medicare beneficiaries and used the beneficiaries’ names to bill Medicare for more than $77 million in services that were medically unnecessary or never provided. The defendants billed Medicare for a wide variety of fraudulent medical services and procedures, including physician office visits, physical therapy and diagnostic tests.

According to trial testimony, Khandrius, who holds no medical licenses or certifications, impersonated his co-defendant Dr. Gustave Drivas at the clinic. Drivas was the Bay Medical clinic’s “no-show” doctor. Khandrius admitted at his change of plea hearing that he signed prescriptions and medical charts in Drivas’s name and performed medical tests and procedures on patients although he was not licensed to do so. Drivas was convicted by a federal jury on April 8, 2013, of health care fraud conspiracy and health care fraud.

Khandrius’s impersonation of Drivas assisted the conspirators in disguising the use of Drivas’s Medicare billing number to bill more than $20 million in claims for services that were not rendered or medically unnecessary. According to trial testimony, Khandrius also directed a phony allergy testing fraud at the Bay Medical clinic that involved giving patients bottles of tap water instead of allergy medications; wrote prescriptions for co-workers and at least one minor child using Drivas’s prescription pad; and, in response to a written audit from Medicare, falsely filled out medical charts in an attempt to back up the billing and deceive Medicare.

The government’s investigation included the use of a court-ordered audio/video recording device hidden in a room at the clinic where the conspirators paid cash kickbacks to corrupt Medicare beneficiaries. The conspirators were recorded paying approximately $500,000 in cash kickbacks during a period of approximately six weeks from April to June 2010. This room was marked “PRIVATE” and featured a Soviet-era poster of a woman with a finger to her lips and the words “Don’t Gossip” in Russian. The purpose of the kickbacks was to induce the beneficiaries to receive unnecessary medical services or to stay silent when services not provided to the patients were billed to Medicare.

The case was investigated by the FBI and HHS and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, supervised by the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York. This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Sarah M. Hall of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Shannon Jones of the Eastern District of New York.

Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged more than 1,500 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $5 billion. In addition, HHS’s Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with HHS-OIG, is taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.

The Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations are part of the Health Care Fraud Prevention & Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), a joint initiative announced in May 2009 between the Department of Justice and HHS to focus their efforts to prevent and deter fraud and enforce current anti-fraud laws around the country.

To learn more about the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), go to: www.stopmedicarefraud.gov.

13-865 Criminal Division

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Craig "Gator" Bodzianowski 1961-2013; Chicago area boxer overcame amputation to win again in the ring

By Fred Mitchell, Chicago Tribune reporter, July 30, 2013

Craig "Gator" Bodzianowski, a professional boxer who overcame the loss of part of his right leg in a motorcycle accident to continue pursuit of his ambitious dream in the ring, died Friday.

"As a competitor, I don't think there was a more driven, fiercer guy out there than him," said Chicago boxing promoter Bobby Hitz, who lost a heavyweight fight against Bodzianowski in 1986. "He was a very good athlete. He was a throw-back fighter; he was one of those guys who just had an old-school attitude, which was really refreshing."

Bodzianowski won two major fights after becoming an amputee on May 31,1984 — an Illinois heavyweight title against Hitz and a WBA Continental Americas Cruiserweight Championship against Anthony Witherspoon.

At 6 foot 2, 188 pounds, Bodzianowski had a career record of 31-4-1, including 23 knockouts. He competed in 103 amateur and professional bouts and finished every fight.

"There was a pretty big rivalry between us," Hitz said. "Over the years we formed a bit of a friendship. I actually just saw him two weeks ago at Lenny LaPaglia's funeral — another great Chicago fighter. Gator and I saw each other at the wake and we talked for a long time. I invited him out to be a guest at my next show (at Horseshoe Casino) on Sept. 15.

"To come back from that adversity (of losing his leg six inches below the right knee) shows you the true intestinal fortitude," Hitz said. "He gave 120 percent every time he stepped in the ring."

When Hitz was notified Bodzianowski had died of a heart attack in his sleep Friday in the south suburbs at 52, his immediate reaction was: "You have to be kidding me."

In the motorcycle accident, Bodzianowski's ankle had been sheared in half by a car's bumper, his shoe ending up caught in the knife-like metal. At Olympia Fields Medical Center, they couldn't do much.

"I remember the docs telling me I might never have use of the foot if they tried to save it, that I might be able to do more with a prosthesis," he told the Tribune in 1985. "I thought about it a while, and I just said, 'Adios, cut it off.'"

The foot was amputated three inches above the ankle.

"I look at it as a challenge," Bodzianowski said of boxing on his artificial foot. "It's like a competition. I'm always looking forward to doing something more with it. Look, I could have been hurt a lot worse. I could have lost an arm, both legs. I consider myself very, very lucky."

He was known also for the green Lacoste alligator he had tattooed above his left breast. He often cut small holes in some Lacoste Ban-Lon shirts so the tattoo could show through.

"It was cheaper (as a promotion than buying the shirts)," Bodzianowski told the Tribune in 1988. "And it was cool."

"He's one of those characters of boxing who is going to be missed," Hitz said. "You just ask yourself why? Here's a guy I just saw two weeks ago and looked to be in good health and good spirits."

Bodzianowski retired from boxing in 1993, then began training boxers and working in construction. He graduated from Chicago's Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in 2012.

Bodzianowski grew up in Tinley Park and attended Sandburg High School in Orland Park.

Bodzianowski is survived by his mother, Gloria; his children, Kenneth and Paige; his sister, Denise Worley, and his brothers, Howard and Kenneth.

There will be a memorial visitation for Bodzianowski from 2 to 9 p.m. Wednesday at Brady Gill Funeral Home, 16600 S. Oak Park Ave., Tinley Park.

Copyright © 2013 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC

RIP Gator.... Jim

Monday, July 29, 2013

ALERT: Continue to Urge Your Senators to Protect HUD Programs FY14; time is running out

(July 29, 2013) The Senate will resume floor debate tonight on S.1243, the FY14 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) appropriations bill. The Senate will soon vote on amendments, including ones that would harm HUD programs.

If you haven’t yet reached out to your Senators, they need hear from you now that you want them to oppose negative amendments listed below, support the amendments listed below, and vote to pass S. 1243.

If you have already reached out to your Senators, thank you! Now is the time to remind them of these amendments and urge them to vote to pass S. 1243.

The vote on final passage of the bill is expected to be close. It is critical that your Senators vote to support S. 1243.

Urge your Senators to oppose these amendments:
Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) Amendment #1768 would cut funding for the HOME Investment Partnerships program from $1 billion to $950 million.

Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) Amendment #1754 would harm Homeless Assistance Grants by excluding all federal funds from being counted as matching funds for McKinney Vento grants.

Senator Coburn Amendment #1758 would cut funding for Community Development Block Grants from $3.15 billion to $2.79 billion.

Senator Coburn Amendment #1753 would eliminate the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness.
Urge your Senators to support this amendment:
Senator Coburn Amendment # 1757 would require HUD to submit a report to Congress on legislative options to modernize and improve targeting of CDBG allocation formulas.
Finally, urge your Senators to pass S. 1243.

Call your Senators now at 202-224-3121. Or, visit NLIHC’s website and enter your zip code in the Contact Congress section on the lower right hand side to find contact information.

View NLIHC’s budget chart at: http://bit.ly/1al9ivw

View NLIHC’s comparison of FY13 and FY14 bills at: http://bit.ly/162zUzO

After you take action, please email us at outreach@nlihc.org to let us know how your call went.

For The National Low Income Housing Coalition: CLICK HERE


Sixth annual luncheon takes place Monday, August 19, at Ritz-Carlton Chicago

CHICAGO -- July 29, 2013 – The National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Greater Illinois Chapter will honor Justine Fedak, Senior Vice President and Head of Brand, Advertising and Sponsorships for BMO Financial Group, North America, at its sixth annual Women on the Move luncheon, Monday, August 19, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., at the Ritz-Carlton (160 E. Pearson) in downtown Chicago.

Women on the Move , presented by BMO Harris Bank and Walgreens, is a premiere event where Chicago area community and business leaders come together to celebrate excellence, achievement and generosity, and to raise funds and awareness to help create a world free of multiple sclerosis.

Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2001, Fedak has been an advocate for healthy living through her involvement in many charitable forums throughout the Chicago area. Through Women on the Move, she hopes to educate others about the disease and bring needed awareness across the region.

“It’s a huge privilege to be this year’s honoree because I am passionate about raising awareness for people living with MS so they understand that they can live very happy and full lives, and to provide a face to something that a lot of people are still living with silently,” said Fedak. “If I had one wish for anyone newly diagnosed is that I could wrap my arms around them and tell them all the wonderful things that MS has brought me in my life.”

In her role at BMO Financial Group, where she has worked since 1992, Fedak is responsible for brand positioning, advertising, promotional activities for the personal, commercial and wealth management businesses for the bank’s North American operation. Fedak also serves as an executive director of The Noah’s Arc Foundation, Chicago Bull Joakim Noah’s charitable organization. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the Greater North Michigan Ave. Association and Gilda’s Club Chicago; is a regular contributor to the Chicago Sun-Times SPLASH column; and in 2012 was selected to chair the Municipal Marketing Advisory Council for the City of Chicago.

Tickets to the 2013 Women on the Move luncheon can be purchased at MSLuncheon.org. For more information about the program or sponsorships, contact Jill Robisch at 312.423.1174 or jill.robisch@nmss.org.

Multiple sclerosis, an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system, interrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. The disease affects more than 20,000 individuals in Illinois and 2.1 million worldwide. The Greater Illinois Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society mobilizes people and resources to drive research for a cure and to address the challenges of everyone affected by MS. Envisioning a world free of MS, the Chapter moves toward that end by driving change through advocacy, facilitating education, collaborating with others and by providing helpful programs and services. For more information, visit MSillinois.org.

CHICAGO, Aug. 16, 2013— The National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Greater Illinois Chapter will host its sixth annual Women on the Move Luncheon this Monday, August 19, at the Ritz-Carlton in downtown Chicago. Justine Fedak, Senior Vice President and Head of Brand, Advertising and Sponsorships for BMO Financial Group, North America will be honored as the Society’s 2013 Woman on the Move. WGN’s News at Noon co-host Tom Negovan will serve as the Master of Ceremonies. 

Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2001, Fedak has been an advocate for healthy living through her involvement in many charitable forums throughout the Chicago area. She serves as an executive director of The Noah’s Arc Foundation, Chicago Bull Joakim Noah’s charitable organization; is a member of the Board of Directors of the Greater North Michigan Ave. Association and Gilda’s Club Chicago; and is a regular contributor to the Chicago Sun-Times SPLASH column.

               “It’s a huge privilege to be this year’s honoree because I am passionate about raising awareness for people living with MS so they understand that they can live very happy and full lives, and to provide a face to something that a lot of people are still living with silently,” said Fedak. “If I had one wish for anyone newly diagnosed is that I could wrap my arms around them and tell them all the wonderful things that MS has brought me in my life.”

WHAT:      Women on the Move , presented by BMO Harris Bank and Walgreens, is a premiere event where Chicago area community and business leaders come together to celebrate excellence, achievement and generosity, and to raise funds and awareness to create a world free of MS.

WHEN:     Monday, August 19 – Luncheon begins at 11:30 a.m.; Honoree address at 12:45 p.m.
                        MEDIA AVAILABILITY with Justine & MS Society leadership – 1:20 p.m. (approx.)

WHERE:     Ritz-Carlton Chicago, 160 East Pearson St., Chicago, Grand Ballroom

WHO:       National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Greater Illinois Chapter

WHY:        Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling, autoimmune disease of the central nervous system that interrupts the flow of information between the brain and the body and stops people from moving.  Proceeds from Women on the Move go toward research, programs and services that improve the lives of the 20,000 people in Illinois affected by MS.

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society mobilizes people and resources to drive research for a cure and to address the challenges of everyone affected by multiple sclerosis. Envisioning a world free of MS, the Greater Illinois Chapter drives change through advocacy, facilitating education, collaborating with others and by providing helpful programs and services. Visit MSillinois.org for more information.

Even deaf theatre wants to be heard in Russia; article

They sing with their hands and hear with their eyes. Actors from the Nedoslov Theater are hard-of-hearing or completely deaf. Most come to the theater after graduating from the Russian State Special Institute of Arts.

The Institute for the Arts provides professional training for young people with disabilities in fine arts, music, and drama, bringing together students from all over Russia and the former Soviet Union, and helping to breakdown barriers in the arts. The mission of Nedoslov Theatre Company (Moscow) is to give people with disabilities the opportunity to express themselves, presenting their own interpretation of reality through plasticity and miming, and building a bridge between the two worlds of people with and without disabilities.

The theatrical project of deaf actors Nedoslov appeared in 2003. The participants of the project are talented young professional actors that are deaf and hard of hearing. "We just want this world to become kinder, better and perhaps wiser. A deaf actor feels simpler and purer; he feels lies and falsity more sharply. The audience comes to our theatre to find out some things the actors who are deaf have already discovered, that the world is more colorful," said Anna Bashenkova, Artistic Director of Nedoslov Theatre Company.

Performances are oriented both on the spectator that can hear and on the deaf. Nedoslov regularly stages it's performances in Moscow at the Institute of Arts, plays on tour in Russia, takes part in student's and professional theatrical festivals of Russia and USA ("VSA" in Washington - USA (2004), "Abilities Festival" in Toronto - Canada (2005).

published by Russia Beyond The Headlines; July 28, 2013

Preparing for Kid jitters and emergencies

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
HHS HealthBeat (July 29, 2013)

From the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Keeping little ones calm during emergencies can be difficult. Make sure you explain your family’s emergency plan to them well before an emergency.

Different places like daycares and schools have different plans. Understand those plans and explain them in kid-language before a disaster to reduce their anxiety if disaster strikes.

Psychologist Dr. Dan Dodgen is with HHS’s Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response.

“Particularly for parents, it is important to remember to monitor media to make sure that children aren’t getting exposed to too much information over the air.”

Young children may interpret a replay as a separate event.

Parents - remember that children often follow your lead. If you keep calm, there’s a greater chance they will too.

for Audio: CLICK HERE

Learn more at phe.gov

Take the Next Step Emergency Guide: CLICK HERE

HHS HealthBeat is production of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Last revised: July 29, 2013

Illinois teen Bradley Wilinski speaks out about Tourette's; article & video article

by Karen Meyers ; Disability Issues ABC7 Chicago ; July 21, 2013

(CHICAGO) (WLS) -- Children with Tourette's syndrome are often misunderstood. One Gurnee teen has opened up about his disability hoping people will understand why he can't control his ticks.

When 13-year-old Bradley Wilinski was told he had Tourette's syndrome, he didn't know what it was. He has become Illinois' youth ambassador.

"I started my first speech ever-- was in third grade because I started making noises. They didn't happen long. It was like three days. Kids were asking why I did it. So, I am like, 'Oh, man. I don't want to talk about this,' but then, I realized once I speak, I spoke in front of the class. Then, they realize that it's OK," Bradley said.

Explaining to people about his disability has never been easy for Bradley, a student at Woodland Middle School.

"Mostly [I] have verbal ticks, which is noise here and there. I flick my hand, maybe, or roll my eyes, but I don't have any right now," he said.

Bradley's mom, Jan, said her son was born with a heart defect that required open heart surgery and also had a stroke.

"Even with Tourette's, depending on the day, the month, or year, you may not ever see anything, but other times, it has been so extreme he couldn't be in school," said Jan.

Despite his medical challenges, Bradley excels in sports

"He is a good athlete," his mother said.

Gym is his favorite class.

"I mean, his physical abilities are absolutely incredible. His motor skills, his cognitive skills, he is very good at listening to instructions," said Mark Schleg, Bradley's P.E. teacher.

Bradley's role model is Ariel Small, a Highland Park resident.

"He plays for football, and he has Tourette's syndrome," Bradley said.

"Once he saw that Ariel went to schools and talked to people, he talked to adults and explained what Tourette's was, I think Bradley really realized what you do is you educate people," said Jan.

"It's not my fault I can't control it," said Bradley.

To learn more about Tourette's syndrome or how you can get young people to come out and speak about it, go to www.tsa-usa.org.

(Copyright ©2013 WLS-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

Get more Disability Issues » CLICK HERE

Gov. Quinn Signs Legislation to Help Student Athletes with Disabilities in Illinois

PRESS RELEASE July 28, 2013
State of Illinois

New Law Prompted by Chicago Hornets Hockey Player Will Let School Districts Excuse Athletes with Disabilities from Physical Education Classes
CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn today was joined by Chicago Hornets hockey player Tyler Woodworth to sign a new law that will help public school student-athletes with disabilities. Woodworth is the young athlete who prompted the legislation that will help students participating in organized adaptive athletics programs around the state. The action is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to ensure all people have equal opportunities and empower people with disabilities.

“People with disabilities who participate in adaptive sports should be given the same consideration as all other athletes," Governor Quinn said. “Now, young athletes like Tyler will be able to have more academic flexibility and focus more of their learning time on classes they need to prepare them for college and a career.”

Senate Bill 2157, sponsored by State Senator Bill Cunningham (D-Chicago) and State Representative Emily McAsey (D-Lockport), allows school districts to excuse students from their required physical education classes if those students are involved in organized adaptive athletics programs. State law already allows the exemption for students who participate in interscholastic athletic programs, marching band, or certain other activities.

The legislation was prompted by Lockport Township High School student Tyler Woodworth, who had been unable to enroll in a computer design course because of his full schedule and his required participation in physical education classes. Now, as a member of the Chicago Hornets youth sled hockey team for youngsters with disabilities, he will no longer be required to take P.E. and can instead concentrate on courses that will advance his career upon graduation.

“This law promotes equality in our schools,” Sen. Cunningham said. “We need to ensure all of our students have the same opportunities.”

“This measure promotes physical activity while encouraging academic success,” Rep. McAsey said. “The new law gives students with disabilities who regularly participate in physical activity greater flexibility in choosing their courses. It was a privilege to work with Tyler and help his idea become law.”

The new law takes effect immediately.


Sunday, July 28, 2013

Young Adults With Autism Empowered Through Surfing - 'Project Save Our Surf’s Consurfvation Camp"; article & video report

SANTA MONICA (CBSLA.com) — Children and young adults with autism and other developmental disabilities are being empowered through the sport of surfing.

Actress Tanna Frederick started Project Save Our Surf’s Consurfvation Camp to introduce the sport to children who otherwise wouldn’t have access to it.

“You never know what’s going to inspire a kid,” said Frederick. “You never know what that one thing is that they’re going to glom on to. Maybe…a couple of these kids are going to walk out of camp today, feeling good about themselves, and feeling powerful and empowered that they got up on a board….feeling like they can rule the world.”

“If you had a bad day, you had a good day, you had a so-so day, if you have problems in your life, you come to the beach, get out in the water, you surf, there is nothing that will wash away all your woes like that,” added Matt Stone of the Buccaneer Board Riders.

About a dozen kids from Tobinworld in Glendale, a school for those with autism or other disabilities, participated in the one-day camp in Santa Monica.

Some of the kids had never been to the ocean before and none of them had ever surfed.

Kamal Cleveland, 17, stood up over and over on his board—even without the use of his right arm.

“I feel excellent,” he said. “I’m proud of myself.”

Tobinworld’s assistant principal also hit the waves.

“Surfing is not easy at all. It takes patience. It takes perseverance and that will help them educationally and behaviorally moving forward,” said Chris Lougheed.

For Project Save Our Surf: CLICK HERE
wonderful report by Los Angeles CBS2

London Paralympic Anniversary Games - July 2013

More than a dozen world champions set to compete at London Anniversary Games.
[photo: Bronze medalist Arnu Fourie of South Africa, Gold medalist Jonnie Peacock of Great Britain, silver medalist Richard Browne of the United States cross the line in the Men's 100m T44 Final a the London 2012 Paralympic Games © • Getty Images]


More than a dozen of the gold medal winners from the IPC Athletics World Championships in Lyon are set to line up at the London

Anniversary Games this weekend (Sunday 28 July) as athletes from around the world get their first chance to compete back at the Olympic Stadium since last summer’s memorable Games.

Newly crowned world champion Jonnie Peacock heads the field in the highly anticipated 100m T43/44, where he faces the man who picked up silver behind him in Lyon, Richard Browne.

The American broke Peacock’s year-old world record in his World Championships T44 semi-finals earlier this week and will be determined to win in London, but he will also have to get past Brazil’s 100m T43 world champion, Alan Fonteles Cardoso Oliveira.

The 20-year-old poster boy of the Rio Games has so far achieved the sprint double in Lyon, with the 400m final and the relay still to come.

Oliveira holds the T43 world record of 10.77, which he set in June this year, and the Brazilian believes that he’s in the best possible form to go even faster in London.

“It’s going to be a very big party, I’m prepared to break the world record there. I’m going to fight for the world record in London.

“I’ve got one day off before the Anniversary Games so I’m going to be in good shape. The best are going to be there, so I’m going to be there.

“It’s going to be a thrill, because that was the turning point of my life where everything changed. It’s going to be very emotional and I’m eagerly awaiting it.

The men’s 800m T36/37 features two gold medallist from Lyon – Paul Blake ran the race of his life to clinch the T37 title, whilst Irishman Michael McKillop reigned supreme in the T36 event, taking his third consecutive world title.

All three 200m T42 medallists from Lyon line up again in London – Great Britain’s Richard Whitehead, Australia’s Scott Reardon and Germany’s Heinrich Popow. But home favourite Whitehead will be hoping he can impress the London crowds once again, 11 months on from his memorable victory at London 2012.

Aled Davies clinched double gold at the IPC Athletics World Championships in Lyon in the discus and shot put F42, and the Welshman will be hoping for another impressive display in the shot put at the Olympic Stadium, where he faces the two men he beat to world gold – Germany’s Frank Tinnemeier and Croatia’s world record holder, Darko Kralj.

Great Britain’s world discus F44 silver medallist Dan Greaves will be hoping he can get the better of his arch rival Jeremy Campbell. The American beat Greaves to Paralympic gold last year, then took the 30-year-old’s world title in Lyon.

Meanwhile quadruple Paralympic champion David Weir is sure to receive a rapturous welcome from the crowds as he races in the invitational race over one mile.

In the women’s events, Great Britain’s golden girl Hannah Cockroft can also expect a huge reception from the stands, having now achieved the ‘double double’ – 100m and 200m T34 world and Paralympic gold.

Cockroft lines up in the 100m T34 in London against a field including the two women who picked up silver and bronze behind her in France and last year in London – Amy Siemons of the Netherlands and Rosemary Little of Australia

“I know it’s a fast track, I know I’m in shape, so I’ll be looking for a good time,” said Cockroft. “I’m there really to re-live the moments. I’d love to set a new world record, I know I’m in shape but I don’t want to jinx it – we’ll see what happens.

Another Brazilian track star returning to London is Terezinha Guilhermina, who has so far also picked up two gold medals in Lyon. The 34-year-old dominates the field in the women’s T11 sprints and runs over 200m in London.

FOR UP TO DATE RESULTS AND 'Official Website of the Paralympic Movement': CLICK HERE


HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius statement on the 23rd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act

News Release July 26, 2013
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

Today, we celebrate the 23rd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA has assisted millions of people with disabilities overcome and eliminate barriers in all areas of society, from schools and the workplace to housing and public transportation. For 23 years, the ADA has been helping to create inclusive communities, where people with disabilities live independent lives and contribute in meaningful ways. It has helped all Americans see what people with disabilities can achieve, given opportunity and access.

Over 50 million Americans have a disability, including 5.5 million veterans. As landmark civil rights legislation, the ADA proclaimed that “the continuing existence of unfair and unnecessary discrimination and prejudice denies people with disabilities the opportunity to compete on an equal basis and to pursue those opportunities for which our free society is justifiably famous.”

The progress made by people with disabilities during the past 23 years was bolstered by the passage of the Affordable Care Act. Because this law, beginning in 2014, it will be illegal for insurance companies to deny health coverage to millions of Americans, including people with disabilities, because of “pre-existing conditions.” Furthermore, the Affordable Care Act gives our states additional options and resources to expand home- and community-based services so they can fulfill the promise of the ADA’s integration mandate and the Olmstead decision.

I was proud to join the first anniversary celebration of the Administration for Community Living earlier this year. The creation of this office has cemented the importance of creating federal policies and programs that enable people to access the services and supports they need right in their communities, rather than institutional settings. We will continue to expand access to affordable health care and promote opportunities for community living.

We strengthen our nation when we empower individuals with disabilities to participate fully in society, make their own choices, and live healthier and more productive lives.

HHS supports the ratification by the Congress of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. Ratification supports our global leadership in disability rights and advancing equal access for Americans with disabilities abroad.

Learn more about the Americans with Disabilities Act at http://www.ada.gov.

Read about the Affordable Care Act and the benefits it provides all Americans at www.hhs.gov/healthcare.

Learn about the United Nations’ work on behalf of people with disabilities at http://www.un.org/disabilities/index.asp.


Note: All HHS news releases, fact sheets and other press materials are available at http://www.hhs.gov/news.
Last revised: July 26, 2013

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Friday, July 26, 2013

How a Colorblind Cyborg 'Hears' Color | article and wonderful video

Neil Harbisson | The Huffington Post and TEDTalk | July 26, 2013

Since 2004, an antenna sticks out of my head that allows me to hear the color spectrum, from near infrared to near ultraviolet. My head has turned into a music box. I can hear the sky, I can listen to my mother's eyes and I can hear rainbows.

I don't feel that I'm using technology, I don't feel that I'm wearing technology, I feel that I am technology. I don't perceive my antenna as a device, I perceive it as a part of my body, I perceive it as an organ.

I feel cyborg.

Becoming a cyborg is not only a life decision; it's an art statement. Cyborgism is the art of creating and extending your own senses, it's about treating your own body and brain as your own sculpture.

By installing this cybernetic eye in my head I've actually transformed my own body into a musical instrument as I can play music by looking at things now.

I can give color concerts by pointing my antenna at peoples's faces or by playing colored socks. Since I hear color, I feel my life has been transformed into a poem.

My perception of beauty and music has also changed. I now enjoy listening to electronic music such as Sega Bodega, as his smooth progression of sounds takes me into a world of subtle colors.

And I enjoy listening to people's faces as well. Some people sound unusually melodic. Listening to Samuel Nicolausson's face for example, is a hypnotic experience, his face sounds like Bach's "Prelude in C Major."

Beauty canons don't only depend on shape but also on color harmony.

One of the exciting things about being a cyborg is that age won't degenerate your senses, the older you get the better your senses will be as technology keeps improving day by day.

Software updates aside, becoming a cyborg makes me feel closer to animals, not robots. Having an antenna makes me feel closer to insects, hearing through bone conduction makes me feel closer to dolphins, perceiving ultraviolet makes me feel closer to bees. Becoming a cyborg can help us perceive reality in a better way, it can help us extend our perception to the level of other animal species and bring us back to nature.

Ideas are not set in stone. When exposed to thoughtful people, they morph and adapt into their most potent form. TEDWeekends will highlight some of today's most intriguing ideas and allow them to develop in real time through your voice! Tweet #TEDWeekends to share your perspective or email tedweekends@huffingtonpost.com to learn about future weekend's ideas to contribute as a writer.

TED and The Huffington Post are excited to bring you TEDWeekends, a curated weekend program that introduces a powerful "idea worth spreading" every Friday, anchored in an exceptional TEDTalk. This week's TEDTalk is accompanied by an original blog post from the featured speaker, along with new op-eds, thoughts and responses from the HuffPost community. Watch the talk above, read the blog post and tell us your thoughts below. Become part of the conversation!


Disability Pride Festival, (Madison Wis) seek to showcase talents and build community - July 27, 2013

By Scott Girard | Fri, 07/26/2013 | Madison Commons

Eileen Rosensteel will perform her "Amazing Fat Lady Show" at Saturday's Madison Disability Pride Festival (Photography and copyright by J. Matzner)

In what the group hopes will become an annual tradition, Madison Disability Pride will hold the first Disability Pride Madison Festival Saturday at Brittingham Park.

The festival, which will begin at noon, is the first of its kind in Madison, and will include stage performances ranging from spoken word artists to Eileen Rosensteel's "The Amazing Fat Lady Show," which she began five years ago when she "saw a picture of a woman that looked exactly like me from 100 years ago and she was a professional freak."

"I wanted to know more about her and her life," Rosensteel said, so she took up the act as a way to honor the five characters she plays.

U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, and Mike Mohr of the United Spinal Association will also speak at the event.

Disability Pride Madison Outreach Committee Chair Katie Ramos said the goal of the event is "to get the message out there that people with disabilities have talents and skills."

"The idea behind pride is that people with and without disabilities are working together to show that people with disabilities can do for themselves, and can do amazing things, and are doing amazing things," she said.

D. Allen, who is a member of The Sweetness of Gone, a band performing at the event, said seeing many different identities present at the festival will be exciting.

"Getting different aspects of the disability community together in one place will be really exciting," Allen said. "There isn't really such a thing as one disability identity."

The first disability pride event was held in the early 1990s, and the idea has expanded worldwide since then, according to Ramos. Chicago has an annual event that includes a parade and stage performances, and while Ramos said Madison's event will not necessarily be the same, the group was "inspired" by Chicago's event.

Funding for the Madison event came from sponsors, grants and donations.

Performer J. Ware, who writes short stories and poetry, said Madison provides a "very open, loving, warm community" that will turn out for Saturday's event.

"I think that this Saturday we'll have a great turnout because there's a lot of people that are affected by disability through their family, their friends, themselves and they will show support in any way that they can," Ware said.

Rosensteel shared a similar sentiment, and is excited for the connections Saturday will bring within the disabled and larger Madison community.

"I think there's some really great people that should meet each other," she said. "It's a great opportunity to celebrate the diversity of the disability community and have a lot of fun."

Sponsors for the event, which is free to the public, include many organizations such as Access to Independence, St. Mary's Hospital, WORT, the Wisconsin Arts Board, MG&E, among others. More information can be found on Madison Disability Pride's Facebook page.


Proclamation -- Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 2013 : BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release July 25, 2013
Proclamation -- Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 2013


- - - - - - -



More than two centuries ago, our forebears began an unending journey to form a more perfect Union. Twenty-three years ago, we took a historic step down that path with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) -- a landmark law that seeks to extend the promise of equal opportunity enshrined in our founding documents.

It promises equal access, from the classroom to the workplace to the transportation required to get there. It promises fairness, and the chance to live a full and independent life. It affords Americans with disabilities the protections they need to claim a future worthy of their talents.

Today, we celebrate the ADA's lasting legacy as a pillar of civil rights. We also recognize that while the law continues to move America forward, our march to equality is not yet complete. Even now, barriers still keep too many people with disabilities from fully participating in our society and our workforce. Our country suffers when our citizens are denied the chance to strengthen our economy, support their families, and fully participate in our American life.

That is why my Administration is dedicated to leveling the playing field for Americans with disabilities. We are committed to making the Federal Government a model employer by recruiting, hiring, and retaining more workers with disabilities than at any time in our Nation's history. In addition, we are working to connect people with disabilities to jobs in every part of our economy.

To get those jobs, students with disabilities need an education system that works for them. We must ensure lessons are inclusive, assessments are fair, and technology is accessible. We must rededicate ourselves to building supportive classrooms and putting an end to bullying that all too often targets young people with disabilities.

My Administration is bringing the same commitment to our health care system. The Affordable Care Act already made it illegal for insurers to deny coverage to children with disabilities because of pre-existing conditions, medical history, or genetic information. On January 1, 2014, the same will be true for all Americans. Alongside those protections, we have strengthened Medicare and Medicaid and ramped up programs to encourage community living and supportive services.

Together, we have come a long way toward ensuring equal opportunity for all. On this anniversary, let us recommit to going the rest of the distance. Let us enforce the ADA, promote disability rights at home and abroad, and make America a place that values the contributions of all our citizens -- regardless of disability.

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, 2013, the Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. I encourage Americans across our Nation to celebrate the 23rd 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-fifth day of July, in the year of our Lord two thousand thirteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-eighth.



American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) announce's NBCUNIVERSAL TONY COELHO MEDIA SCHOLARSHIP

Thanks to a generous contribution from NBCUniversal, the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) is proud to announce the creation of the NBCUniversal Tony Coelho Media Scholarship.

The NBCUniversal Tony Coelho Media Scholarship will offer four scholarships for the fall of 2013 to 2nd year associate students; undergraduate sophomores, juniors, and seniors; and graduate students with disabilities pursuing communication or media-related degrees. Each recipient will receive $5,625 for the tuition and fees at their college or university.


This scholarship has been named in honor of Tony Coelho, a former United States Representative from California and the primary author and sponsor of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Coelho was elected to Congress in 1978 and served for six terms until 1989. During his terms, Coelho authored the original ADA, signed into law by President George H.W. Bush. By 1994, the U.S. Census Bureau reported 800,000 more people with severe disabilities were employed than when the ADA was first enacted, in large part thanks to the work of Coelho, his successors, and predecessors.

From 1994 to 2001, after being appointed by President Bill Clinton, Coelho served as Chairman of the President’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities. He also worked as the Vice Chair of the National Task Force on Employment of Adults with Disabilities. In 1998, Clinton appointed Coelho as the United States Commissioner General at the 1998 World Expo in Portugal. Clinton also appointed Coelho as Co-Chair to the U.S. Census Monitoring Board, a position he held until his appointment as general chairman of the Gore Presidential Campaign.

From June 2009 to June 2010, Coelho served as the Chairman of the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), the country’s largest cross-disability membership organization.

Any 2nd year associate's degree student; undergraduate sophomore, junior, or senior; or graduate student who self-identifies as an individual with any type of disability and is pursuing a communication or media related degree is invited to apply.

Please note: You will not be required to disclose your specific disability; however, your application for this scholarship will signify that you consider yourself a person with a disability. This scholarship is run specifically for students with disabilites by the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), the nation's largest cross-disability membership organization.

Applicants chosen to recieved a 2013 NBCUniversal Tony Coelho Media Scholarship release all information contained in their application for use on the AAPD website and in public press releases, including releases to the program funders and potential employees.

How to Apply
Applications must be received by 5:00PM EST on or before Sunday August 11, 2013.

Applicants must submit the following items.

The application (click to download)
A resume
An official transcript (for the degree you a currently pursuing)
Two 300-350 word eassys (see application for topics)
A letter of recommendation from a professor or other academic advisor
Please note: All applications must be submitted in an accessible format. Any candidate who submits an application in an inaccessible format will be automatically disqualified.

Submit all applications to scholarship@aapd.com

What Happens Next?
1. Completed applications received by AAPD before 5:00 PM EST, Sunday, August 11, 2013 will be collected and submitted for an anonymous review by our Scholarship Review Team.
o Please note: All applicants will be evaluated based on demonstrated leadership characteristics, the connectivity between your degree and the disability community, engagement within the communications and/or media fields, difficulty of coursework, success in coursework, and character. AAPD reserves the right to alter this list during the selection process.
2. Seven applications will be selected for a final anonymous review by our Selection Committee, consisting of AAPD Board Members, Interns, Staff, and an NBCUniversal Representative.
3. Recipients selected to receive a scholarship will be notified by 5:00PM EST, August 22, 2013.

AAPD expects to mail scholarship checks directly to the recipients’ colleges or universities for tuition and fees upon the receipt of IRS Form W9.


For the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD): CLICK HERE

10 Books to celebrate the 23rd anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act

By Ron Charles, Published: July 25, 2013
The Washington Post

As parents of a 23-year-old daughter with cerebral palsy, my wife and I are celebrating the 23rd anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act with special enthusiasm.

For us, some of the great sources of solace and encouragement over the years have been novels that portray people with special needs sensitively, respectfully and — most important — realistically.

Here’s a list of our top 10. Please leave more suggestions in the Comments section below:

1. “Under the Eye of the Clock,” by Christopher Nolan (Skyhorse, 1987). This autobiographical novel by the late Irish poet Christopher Nolan, who had cerebral palsy, is a gorgeous and insightful book about the expansive life of a man who seemed entirely trapped in his chair. He pecked out this story with a pencil attached to his forehead. My wife and I have given away more copies than we can count.

2. “Lark and Termite,” by Jayne Anne Phillips (Vintage, 2009). This powerful, complex novel moves between two stories: the No Gun Ri massacre during the Korean War in 1950 and a devastating flood that confronts a West Virginia family in 1959. Termite, a profoundly and multiply handicapped boy, is cared for by his aunt and his devoted 17-year-old half-sister, Lark. Theirs is one of the most affecting sibling relationships in American literature.

3. “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time,” by Mark Haddon (Vintage, 2003). In this quirky novel from England, a boy with autism tries to figure out the mystery of the death of his neighbor’s dog.

4. “The Revised Fundamentals Of Caregiving,” by Jonathan Evison (Algonquin, 2012). In this warm-hearted novel, Evison, who once worked as a caregiver, describes the friendship between a down-on-his-luck personal aide and a teen with muscular dystrophy.

5. “The Story of Beautiful Girl,” by Rachel Simon (Grand Central, 2011). Simon, who wrote a celebrated memoir about her sister with special needs, here presents the harrowing adventure of a mentally disabled white woman and a deaf African American man.

6. “The Center of Everything,” by Laura Moriarty (Hyperion, 2003). The 10-year-old narrator of Moriarty’s wonderful debut novel lives with a frustratingly irresponsible mother and a little brother whose special needs should break this family — but don’t.

7. “Up High in the Trees,” by Kiara Brinkman (Grove, 2007). Brinkman’s narrator, an 8-year-old with Asperger’s syndrome, describes his family’s efforts to survive in the wake of his mother’s death. For anyone bravely grasping for order and solace amid unspeakable loss.

8. “Lamb in Love,” by Carrie Brown (Algonquin, 1999). A delightful novel about the late-in-life romance between a postmaster and a woman who cares for a young man with special needs.

9. “Good Kings Bad Kings,” by Susan Nussbaum (Algonquin, 2013). This is the only book on the list that we haven’t read yet, but today’s review in The Washington Post makes it sound powerful. Winner of the PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction, Nussbaum’s novel is about a group home for young people with special needs.

10 “My Index of Slightly Horrifying Knowledge,” by Paul Guest (Ecco, 2008). Okay, I’m cheating. This isn’t a novel; it’s a collection of poems. But Guest, paralyzed from a bike accident when he was 12, writes courageous, funny, angry verse that shows what human beings — and poetry — can do.


IDHR and Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing Unveil Fair Housing Webinar Series - English & Spanish

PRESS RELEASE July 25, 2013

CHICAGO – The Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) and the Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing today announced the release of a new Fair Housing Webinar series funded as a partnership project by the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. The series of webinars covers major fair housing issues and is designed to educate stakeholders and the general public about fair housing law under federal law as well as the Illinois Human Rights Act.

All the webinars are available as online videos that can be accessed at any time on the website of Illinois Legal Aid Online (ILAO). The webinars will educate the public on their fair housing rights and provide information for housing providers on their responsibilities under fair housing law. The topics include the housing rights laws for persons with disabilities, for LGBT individuals, for new Americans and immigrants, for condo and coop associations and a general fair housing overview. Three of the webinars are in both English and Spanish versions, and closed captioning is available.

“The Department of Human Rights is excited to announce the availability of this series of webinars on fair housing issues,” said IDHR Director Rocco Claps. “Housing law is a complex area of the law and our partnership with the Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing and the support of HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity has made it possible for us to empower the general public with an easily accessible way to become knowledgeable about the fair housing protections that are offered by the Illinois Human Rights Act.”
The webinars are available at these links:

Fair Housing Training for Individuals with Disabilities
Fair Housing for Individuals with Disabilities: The Basics
LGBT Rights & Fair Housing
Your Right to Fair Housing: A Guide for New Americans
Fair Housing Training: General Overview
Fair Housing 101: Condo Associations & Cooperatives
Vivienda Equitativa para Personas Discapacitadas
Su Derecho a la Vivienda Equitativa: Una Guia para Nuevos Americanos
Los Derechos en la Vivienda LGBT
For more information about fair housing law in Illinois, you can also go to IDHR’s website: http://www2.illinois.gov/dhr/FilingaCharge/Pages/Housing.aspx


ADA Nears 23rd Anniversary, NCD Assesses Impact of 2008's ADA Amendments Act

July 23, 2013

WASHINGTON -- Today, the National Council on Disability (NCD), an independent federal agency, released a report titled “A Promising Start: Preliminary Analysis of Court Decisions Under the ADA Amendments Act,” which reviews the court decisions that have been rendered to date applying the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) and reveals significant improvements in how courts are interpreting protections intended for coverage under the ADA.

NCD’s report offers 23 findings and three recommendations based on an analysis of court decisions made under the ADAAA by examining decisions rendered under ADA amendments that were agreed on across both sides of the aisle in Congress. Using this measure, it is clear that the ADAAA has made a significant positive difference for plaintiffs in ADA lawsuits thus far.

For example, in six of the seven Circuit Court decisions in which the provisions of the ADAAA were applied, the plaintiff prevailed on establishing a disability; and in the district court decisions analyzed plaintiffs prevailed on the showing of disability in more than three out of four decisions – a promising start and a substantial improvement over pre-ADAAA decisions under the broad scope of coverage under the ADA that Congress intended. However, many cases are still dismissed on procedural grounds before the alleged discriminatory conduct of the employer is ever addressed. In an attempt to correct this concern, NCD's report includes recommendations on guidance and technical assistance to address some of these procedural issues.

“Thorough review of case law in the decisions rendered to date strongly affirms the positive difference the ADAAA has made for plaintiffs in discrimination cases,” said Jeff Rosen, NCD Chairperson. “While the possibility of undermining the intent of Congress when passing the ADA amendments five years ago remains, what we have seen thus far demonstrates a definite improvement over previous case law.”

NCD will host an ADA anniversary event and policy briefing to recall the path to bipartisan support and passage of the ADAAA in addition to highlighting findings of the new report. The event will take place from 1:00 – 2:30 PM Eastern in 2226 Rayburn House Office Building. No registration or RSVP is required but seating is limited and will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

For more information, including a list of confirmed speakers, go to:

A copy of the report is available online at:

For the National Council on Disability (NCD): CLICK HERE

Statement of the National Disability Leadership Alliance (NDLA) on the 23rd Anniversary of the Signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

July 25, 2013

This week, people with disabilities across the country are celebrating the 23rd anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This was the first comprehensive federal civil rights statute protecting the rights of people with disabilities. The ADA established that people with disabilities have equal opportunity in employment, state and local government, places of public accommodation, and telecommunications.

Despite the ADA’s promise of equal opportunity for people with disabilities, it is clear that more work must be done so that people with disabilities are to be valued as equal citizens and welcomed in all aspects of American life. Today, far too many people with disabilities are forced to live in institutions, forced to receive unwanted treatment, denied programs and services, or to be paid less than minimum wage. On a regular basis, our civil, constitutional, and parental rights are disregarded or stripped away.

Our lives and expertise are not valued equally – with dire consequences. Healthcare professionals refuse to communicate with us, overrule the decisions we make or those made by our authorized surrogates; law enforcement and the courts too often fail to treat those who kill people with disabilities the same as those who kill nondisabled people, particularly when an individual has been killed by a family member.

Our very freedom of movement can be deprived and our rights stripped from us on the basis of arbitrary and capricious decisions about our capacity. Furthermore, the voices of people with disabilities are frequently ignored in favor of parent and provider organizations that speak about us, without us. Policymakers have ignored our expertise about our own lives, issues and desires, instead of allowing providers, academics and family members to speak for us even though we may have very different priorities and interests. For those in the disability community from diverse communities, the discrimination that they face as people with disabilities is compounded by issues of race, gender, religious affiliation and sexual orientation.


The Americans with Disabilities Act became law because the disability community rallied together in an unprecedented way. We must now work together again to take the next step in advancing our rights, including the following:

· We must assure that America’s 57 million people with disabilities are able to participate fully in society by updating accessibility standards, including those related to nonvisual access by people who are blind and non-auditory access by people who are deaf or hard of hearing, to address newly developing technologies and assuring that people with disabilities have access to the modern assistive devices necessary to fully participate in American life, from hearing aids to screen readers to complex rehab technology.

· We must assure that people with disabilities have real economic opportunities by eliminating the discriminatory employment laws and rules that allow people with disabilities to be paid less than minimum wage, by creating incentives for employers for hiring and promotion of people with disabilities, by expanding customized, supported work opportunities including self-employment, paid community service, job restructuring and other flex arrangements and by fostering new opportunities for youth with disabilities transitioning from school that promote competitive integrated employment.

· We must strengthen the ADA’s integration mandate so that people with disabilities have the services and supports they need to live in their own homes and apartments in the communities of their choosing. We must end the institutional bias in the Medicaid program by requiring that every state participating in Medicaid pay for home and community based services so that every individual who is eligible for Long Term Services and Supports under Medicaid is guaranteed their federally protected right to a real choice in how they receive services and supports. We must reform the services and support systems that are now based on arbitrary medical or governmental labels to remove conflicts with the principles laid out in the ADA and assure that people with disabilities have the opportunity for full integration by developing and funding service and support approaches that promote the cross-disability and “most integrated setting” concepts that underpin the ADA.

· We must assure that people with disabilities – including those with chemical or electrical sensitivities – are able to access the full range of affordable, accessible and integrated housing options in the communities of their choosing. We must assure that all newly constructed, federally assisted single family homes and townhouses include basic accessibility so that these homes are not being built to exclude people with mobility disabilities.

· We must end our broken and arbitrary system of guardianship and substituted decision making, in accordance with Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. For too long, the legal capacity of people with disabilities who require assistance with their finances and/or healthcare or who have expressed desires inconsistent with those possessed by their family members have been permanently stripped and denied to them. By putting in place a stronger infrastructure for supported decision-making, our community can facilitate the provision of support where people require it while not requiring a loss of legal capacity as a pre-condition for receiving such support. Additionally, we must work to restore the legal capacity and rights of the many people with disabilities who currently suffer under a system of guardianship with no acknowledgement of, or recognition for, the preferences of people with disabilities independent of their guardians.

· We must assure that the lives of people with disabilities of all ages are equally valued, protected, cared for and preserved as the lives of nondisabled people. Healthcare providers must always communicate with persons with disabilities including through interpreters and other auxiliary aids and services to ensure equivalent healthcare services. Healthcare providers must never use perceived quality of life judgments, the cost of care, or other factors to overrule the decision to receive life-sustaining healthcare made by a person with a disability or their authorized surrogate. Healthcare providers must also zealously provide suicide prevention services for people with disabilities of all ages that are equivalent to the suicide prevention services they provide for nondisabled people. As such, we should never encourage or provide the means for any individual to commit suicide.

· We must assure that violence in any form against people with disabilities is not tolerated, and the prosecution and sentencing for homicides of people with disabilities must be treated in the same manner as homicides of people without disabilities. With the recent addition of disability as a protected class under the federal hate crimes statute, federal investigators and prosecutors must work to bring cases against those who take the lives of people with disabilities because of their disability, particularly when the perpetrators are a member of the victim’s own family. We must assure that adequate funding is provided to support programs that assist people with disabilities who are victims of crime, including training for first responders, the creation of accessible shelters, and victim rights programs. We must ensure that the justice system is accessible to people with disabilities, using the ADA as a tool to support restorative justice. We must develop strong working relationships between the disability community and the justice system to address violence against people with disabilities.

· We must assure that the constitutional and civil rights of people with disabilities of all ages are safeguarded, particularly with respect to self-determination and direct communication. It is critical that these safeguards are in place regardless of the individual’s actual or perceived capacity to make and communicate their own decisions. People with disabilities should not be subjected to forced treatment – including forced medication and hospitalization, and disability should never be used as a reason to diminish or remove our rights as parents.

· We must protect children with disabilities from the use of aversives (painful stimulation used as negative reinforcement), as well as seclusion and restraints in schools by establishing strong, comprehensive national standards, an effective enforcement mechanism and the involvement of the disability community on effective alternatives for positive behavior change.

· We must protect and vigorously enforce accessibility requirements in the Help America Vote Act so that every American can vote privately and independently and so that poll workers have the training they need.

· We must create a bipartisan Congressional Task Force on human genetic technologies and disability rights to ensure that research and the results of research on these technologies include the voice of people with disabilities.

· We must confront and condemn organizations that speak about people with disabilities without us. Too often, organizations run without the voices of the people they purport to serve lobby policymakers to deprive the rights of people with disabilities, silence the voices of organizations run by people with disabilities and place their own ideologies and financial self-interests before the real needs and preferences of our community. Policymakers must acknowledge the necessity of hearing the voices of organizations run by and for people with disabilities as the primary stakeholder in policy discussions about disability, and people with disabilities must have substantive involvement in making the policy decisions that impact our lives. Finally, we must expand and support with funding the disability-led peer support and advocacy organizations that truly empower people with disabilities instead of channeling funds into outdated medical model organizations.


Since 2008, leaders from the organizations that make up the National Disability Leadership Alliance have developed strong working relationships with each other. We understand the power our community has by working together more effectively on a common agenda. We are preparing detailed recommendations that propose administrative and legislative approaches to achieve the goals we describe above. We are also expanding our national community by organizing teleconference calls to use them to promote greater understanding of these issues, to explain how we are all impacted by them, and to explore strategies to work together to achieve the necessary changes.

As we celebrate the 23rd anniversary of the signing of the ADA, excitement is already building and planning has already begun for the quarter century anniversary. Today, we call on policymakers to work with us to achieve this vision so that – on the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act – we will not just be celebrating disability rights victories from a quarter century earlier, but heralding a new day in our movement.


National Disability Leadership Alliance (NDLA) is a national cross-disability coalition that represents the authentic voice of people with disabilities. NDLA is led by 14 national organizations run by people with disabilities with identifiable grassroots constituencies around the country.

The NDLA steering committee includes: ADAPT, the American Association of People with Disabilities, the American Council of the Blind, the Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living, the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, the Hearing Loss Association of America, Little People of America, the National Association of the Deaf, the National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery, the National Council on Independent Living, the National Federation of the Blind, Not Dead Yet, Self Advocates Becoming Empowered, and United Spinal Association.