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

Friday, January 30, 2015

Osteogenesis Imperfecta didn't stopped me from living life in high school, it won't stop me now! - wonderful article

wanted to share this article from a young woman with Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI, or Brittle Bone Disease), as OI is a disease that I also have. Jim

My Story: Miss Glass. Osteogenesis Imperfecta didn’t stop me from playing sports in high school, and it won’t stop me now

Blast Magazine | article by Lisa Newman | August 2013

The movie “Unbreakable” came out when I was 12. I watched it with a certain level of fascination. I knew what the villain’s disease was. I had heard of it many times in my life. This portrayal confirmed my own vision of how I had imagined people with the disease: confined to a wheel chair and unable to do simple activities, an outcast. Apparently I wasn’t the only one with this misconception.
In my 25 years of life, I have broken 18 bones. The first one happened before I had even made my official debut in this world. I was born with two black eyes, a cone head, bruises all over my body, and a broken collar bone.
About a year later I broke my second bone. My leg got stuck underneath my body going down a slide, resulting in a spiral fracture, and I learned to walk with one of my legs in a cast.
A finger, a wrist, a couple of bones in my foot, some more fingers, a foot again, a wrist again, and some toes would follow. I’ve spent countless hours in emergency rooms, radiology rooms, and orthopedic surgeons’ waiting rooms.
The possibility of me having Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI, or Brittle Bone Disease) was first brought up at birth. Doctors performed some sort of test (I obviously don’t remember it and my parents can’t exactly recall what was involved either) and they concluded that I most likely did not have OI. As I got older and continued to break bones, another sign of OI became obvious. The whites of my eyes, or sclera, were tinted blue. It’s something that both friends and strangers have noticed.
Doctors continued to both ask me about OI — “has anyone told you that you might have it?” — and dismiss the idea. I heard repeatedly that most people with OI have it so severely that they are confined to wheelchairs. One doctor told my dad that she had patients with OI that would break a bone walking down the hallway. I was active. Not only did I play sports, I played ones that were especially rough on my body. I competed in gymnastics for 10 years and danced for 12. Besides, they told me OI was hereditary and no one in my family had it. I was probably just clumsy.
My parents were told not to worry about it, and so for the most part, they didn’t. They paid for visits to the ER, x-rays, and co-pays. They sat with me for hours in waiting rooms. Once, my mom and I waited an hour in the examination room to see an orthopedic doctor. We were in room number 10 and it became a running joke with us that room 10 was for patients that they were putting off until last, the ones that they saw entirely too much of.
Often the complications from my broken bones went beyond wearing a cast for six weeks. One of my fingers had to be re-broken. The doctor gave me the option of being put under anesthesia, having my hand numbed, or just breaking it. I told him to just break it. I was more afraid of a needle than a broken bone.
Another finger needed surgery to ever operate again normally. I had never had surgery and was so nervous going into it that I passed out right after getting an I.V. in my arm. After that I would struggle with white coat syndrome for years. Not easy for someone who was constantly in and out of doctors’ offices.
I soon learned the process of breaking a bone and navigated it in a certain way to save myself time and hassle. At first, my parents would take me to the ER as soon as I injured myself. We would wait there for as few as three hours and as many as eight. We rarely left with anything conclusive. Usually the verdict was that I might have a hairline fracture, but they couldn’t be sure and I should follow up with an orthopedic.
Once I did receive a conclusive report from the ER. At the big 8th grade dance I jumped off the stage with some very short heels on. Nothing twisted, but I was immediately in a lot of pain. I went through the usual routine. The ER took x-rays and said it was not broken. I had probably just torn something. This was also fairly normal for me so I left, went to Rite Aid, and bought a generic brace. For a month I walked around with this brace and instead of feeling increasing relief, it started to get worse. I could barely walk at all and the pain was shooting up my knee. I made an appointment with an orthopedic. He looked at the original x-rays from the ER and told me that I had been walking around on a broken foot for a month. I was lucky it was healing correctly but it would take twice as long to do so. I bypassed the ER after that as much as I could. I would go to an orthopedic immediately.
About four years ago when I graduated from college, moved out of my apartment, and into a new part of the city, I had to find a primary care doctor. I could no longer see doctors at Northeastern University’s clinic. I sat in my new doctor’s office and told her my medical history. After I was done she asked me a question that I had heard many times before: “has any doctor told you about OI?” I explained to her that I had been told that I probably didn’t have it.
“What a coincidence, then, that you’ve broken 16 bones in your life.”
She also noticed my blue sclera. “Have you had any trouble hearing?” she asked.
This was a new question for me, and a timely one. About six months before this visit I had noticed that while lying on my left side, everything sounded muffled. My right ear wasn’t functioning properly. When I told her this, she felt that she had heard enough to finally diagnose me with OI. She explained to me that people with OI often suffered from hearing loss because the tiny bones inside your ears began to deteriorate. She then sent me to an Otolaryngolist, or an ENT. They performed a hearing test and an MRI. To them it was obvious I had OI, my inner ear bones on my right side were almost completely deteriorated.
I had been told so many times, “don’t worry about it.” Take calcium supplements and be careful, but you’ll be fine. Now a doctor was telling me that there was more to the story. My hearing would continue to get worse and I had about a 60 percent chance of going completely deaf. Maybe I wanted to talk to someone about hearing aids? At 21, I just wasn’t ready.
Since then I’ve done some research on OI and learned that a lot of what I believed and a lot of what I had been told was a myth. More than 50 percent of people with OI have type I, the mildest form and the kind that I have. There are eight types of OI. The worst is type II, a disease that kills its victims in infancy.
I also learned that a person can get OI in two different ways. It can be passed on from your parents, but it can also be the result of a spontaneous gene mutation. The genes affected are not even the same ones. The calcium supplements I have been taking have probably been doing little good. The gene that is affected in spontaneous mutation is one that determines how your body produces collagen, not how it processes calcium. I also learned that people with OI bruise easier. I’m notorious for having mysterious bruises. My mother worried for years that something was seriously wrong. People with OI also tend to have respiratory problems, something that I’ve always experienced. At one point I was diagnosed with athletic induced asthma, even though I had never actually had an asthma attack and my breathing problems were not always linked with athletic activity. Many people with OI are never diagnosed, or diagnosed later in life because their symptoms are mild.
I continue to see an ENT and will soon purchase my first hearing aid. While at 21 I thought they were strange, my hearing loss in my right ear is getting worse and starting to interfere with my life. Conversations are often short or confusing and it takes a lot of effort for me to listen to someone who is soft-spoken. The tinnitus alone is enough to drive me crazy.  Just like a person who is missing a limb can sometimes feel it itching, my ear compensates for lack of hearing by producing a constant buzzing, called tinnitus. The quieter the room, the louder the buzz.
At first I felt cheated by not being diagnosed earlier. My excessive and severe bruises would have made sense. My breathing problems would have been explained. But I’m also grateful that neither my parents nor I ever acted as if I were fragile. My friends and family often joked about my breakability, but my parents never held me back from leading an active lifestyle. I was never afraid to ski down a mountain or give it 100% on the field hockey field. I would never have traded a diagnosis for the life I lived. And now that I know I may completely lose my hearing one day, I can make sure to appreciate music as much as possible, and treasure the sound of my niece and nephew laughing. I can prepare for the effects of this disease that I didn’t know I had.

Super Bowl ad features 8 yr old Grace who has Down Syndrome and her family

McDonald's commercial features customers reactions that McDonald’s will be asking for nothing more than “lovin'” as a form of payment from select diners through Feb. 14.
Grace Ramsburg, 8, who has Down Syndrome, along with her brother, Adam, and father, Dale  will be included in the commercial. Grace also is featured with Changing the Face of Beauty organization ad! The Ramsburg family is from Naperville, Ill.
YouTube Published by McDonald's on Jan 30, 2015

Please visit Changing the Face of Beauty website!
Also on Facebook at Changing the Face of Beauty

Super Bowl Ad Celebrates Paralympic Snowboarder Amy Purdy

Amy Purdy triumphs to the iconic words of Muhammad Ali. To save her life, her dad had to make some life changing decisions. She then went on to win a medal in Sochi and dance in front of millions. Nothing can stop Amy Purdy. #OneBoldChoice

YouTube Published by Toyota USA on Jan 23, 2015

2015 Federal Poverty Level Standards: Dual Eligible Eligibility Criteria for Medicare and Medicaid Enrollees

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released an informational bulletin (01/29/2015) regarding the 2015 updates to the federal poverty guidelines. By law these updates are applied to eligibility criterion for programs such as Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The 2015 Dual Eligible standards have also been updated based on the percentage of Federal Poverty Level. The following information is as posted by Medicaid.gov

Seniors & Medicare and Medicaid Enrollees

Medicaid provides health coverage to more than 4.6 million low-income seniors, nearly all of whom are also enrolled in Medicare. Medicaid also provides coverage to 3.7 million people with disabilities who are enrolled in Medicare. In total, 8.3 million people are "dually eligible" and enrolled in both Medicaid and Medicare, composing more than 17% of all Medicaid enrollees. Individuals who are enrolled in both Medicaid and Medicare, by federal statute, can be covered for both optional and mandatory categories.

What Medicaid Covers for Medicare Enrollees

Medicare has four basic forms of coverage:
  • Part A: Pays for hospitalization costs
  • Part B: Pays for physician services, lab and x-ray services, durable medical equipment, and outpatient and other services
  • Part C: Medicare Advantage Plan (like an HMO or PPO) offered by private companies approved by Medicare
  • Part D: Assists with the cost of prescription drugs
Medicare enrollees who have limited income and resources may get help paying for their premiums and out-of-pocket medical expenses from Medicaid (e.g. MSPs, QMBs, SLBs, and QIs). Medicaid also covers additional services beyond those provided under Medicare, including nursing facility care beyond the 100-day limit or skilled nursing facility care that Medicare covers, prescription drugs, eyeglasses, and hearing aids. Services covered by both programs are first paid by Medicare with Medicaid filling in the difference up to the state's payment limit.

2015 Dual Eligible Standards
(Based on Percentage of Federal Poverty Level)

Qualified Medicare Beneficiary (QMB):

Monthly Income Limits: (100% FPL + $20)*
All States and DC
(Except Alaska & Hawaii)
$1,001 – Individual   $1,348 – Couple
Alaska: $1,247 – Individual   $1,680 – Couple
Hawaii: $1,150 – Individual   $1,548 – Couple
Asset Limits: $7,280 – Individual  $10,930 – Couple
*$20 = Amount of the Monthly SSI Income Disregard

Specified Low-Income Medicare Beneficiary (SLMB):

Monthly Income Limits: (120% FPL + $20)*
All States and DC
(Except Alaska & Hawaii)
$1,197 – Individual   $1,613 – Couple
Alaska: $1,492 – Individual   $2,012 – Couple 
Hawaii: $1,375 – Individual   $1,853 – Couple 
Asset Limits: $7,280 – Individual  $10,930 – Couple
*$20 = Amount of the Monthly SSI Income Disregard

Qualifying Individual (QI):

Monthly Income Limits: (135% FPL + $20)*
All States and DC
(Except Alaska & Hawaii)
$1,345 – Individual   $1,813 – Couple
Alaska: $1,676 – Individual   $2,261 – Couple
Hawaii: $1,545 – Individual   $2,083 – Couple
Asset Limits: $7,280 – Individual  $10,930 – Couple
*$20 = Amount of the Monthly SSI Income Disregard

Qualified Disabled Working Individual (QDWI):

Monthly Income Limits: (200% FPL + $20)*
(Figures include additional earned income disregards)
All States and DC
(Except Alaska & Hawaii)
$4,009 – Individual   $5,395 – Couple
Alaska: $4,992 – Individual   $6,725 – Couple
Hawaii: $4,602 – Individual   $6,195 – Couple
Asset Limits: $4,000 – Individual   $6,000 – Couple
*$20 = Amount of the Monthly SSI Income Disregard

Special Olympics Illinois and Chicago Fire Soccer Club Partner to Create Unified Sports Soccer Team

Press ReleaseChicago Fire Soccer Team | Jan 29, 2015

Program promotes social inclusion through shared training and competition exercises

CHICAGO (Jan. 29, 2015) – The Chicago Fire Soccer Club and Special Olympics Illinois announced a partnership Thursday to create a Unified Sports soccer team. Unified Sports joins athletes both with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team to promote social inclusion through shared training and competition exercises with the principle that training and playing together is the quickest path to friendship and understanding.

“We’re excited to expand our partnership with Special Olympics Illinois and create a Unified Fire team,” said Chicago Fire Senior Director of Community Relations Jessica Yavitz. “This is a great opportunity to leverage the Fire’s reach in the Chicagoland community to raise awareness of the programming available to athletes with special needs while promoting respect, inclusion and acceptance of all people. We’re pleased to be able to offer these athletes a real ‘pro’ experience and are looking forward to the match against the Special Olympics Oregon team in August.”

Created with the goal of bringing people together, Special Olympics Unified Sports teams have more than half a million participants worldwide who work together break down stereotypes about people with intellectual disabilities.

Tryouts for the Special Olympics Illinois team will be held in the spring. In addition to receiving training and coaching instruction from Fire players and coaches, the team will be honored at Toyota Park prior to the Fire’s match against Eastern Conference rivals D.C. United on Wednesday, June 24.

“Special Olympics Illinois is thrilled to form this partnership with the Chicago Fire Soccer Club,” says Dave Breen, President & CEO of Special Olympics Illinois. “This is incredible opportunity for our athletes and Unified Partners to travel and meet competitors from other states. We are grateful to the Chicago Fire Soccer Club for their help in creating awareness for Unified Sports and in promoting social inclusion through sports training and competition experiences.”

The Special Olympics Illinois team will travel to take on the Special Olympics Oregon team in a Unified Sports soccer match in conjunction with the Fire first team’s match against the Portland Timbers at Providence Park on Friday, Aug. 7.

Additional information on the Special Olympics Unified Sports program can be found here.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Help Preserve Access to 'Speech Generating Devices (SGDs)' for people with ALS

as shared by the ALS Association | Jan 29, 2015

Help Preserve Access to SGDs!

Today Senator David Vitter (R-LA) introduced the Steve Gleason Act, legislation that will help preserve access to speech generating devices (SGDs) and eye tracking technology for people with ALS! U.S. Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) will be introducing a companion bill in the House.  We urge you to contact your Senators and Representative and ask them to cosponsor the Steve Gleason Act! A sample email that you can personalize and send is available in our Advocacy Action Center here

As you know, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have taken several different actions that deny people with ALS timely access to the SGDs. This legislation would reverse those actions and make sure that people have access to the SGDs they need, when and where they need them. Specifically, the bill would: 
  • Eliminate the "capped rental" payment system for SGDs to once again enable people with ALS to purchase SGDs. This provision would allow people to keep their SGDs if they are admitted to a hospital, nursing facility or hospice. Importantly, it also would allow people to "unlock" their SGDs so they can access non-speech technologies such as email, the internet and environmental controls.
  • Ensure coverage for eye tracking and other technologies that enable people who have lost the use of their arms and hands the ability to access SGDs.
The bill does not address the "coverage reminder." This is the policy issued by Medicare's contractors that would have prohibited coverage for any SGD that included email, internet access even if those technologies were "locked." CMS has since rescinded the coverage reminder and is in the process of revising its SGD coverage policy so legislation is not needed at this time (click here to read The Association's comments submitted to CMS in December).

While CMS is in the process of revising their coverage policy, these other policies are impacting people with ALS today so it is absolutely critical to address these issues as soon as possible. People with ALS do not have time to wait. Therefore, please contact Congress today!

Thank you to everyone for all that you do to make a difference! Thank you especially to Steve Gleason whose relentless efforts have helped put a public spotlight on these issues and helped to move them forward.

Together, we are making a difference!


For more information, please visit the ALS Association

Kmart Will Pay $102,048 to Settle EEOC Disability Discrimination Lawsuit

PRESS RELEASE | Jan 27, 2015 
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Major Retailer Refused to Hire Applicant Because Kidney Disease Precluded Urine Sample, Federal Agency Charged
 BALTIMORE - Kmart Corporation, a leading national retailer, will pay $102,048 and provide significant equitable relief to settle a federal disability discrimination lawsuit, the U.S. Equal Employ­ment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today.
According to the lawsuit, after Kmart offered Lorenzo Cook a job at its Hyattsville, Md., store, Cook advised the hiring manager that he could not provide a urine sample for the company's manda­tory pre-employment drug screening due to his kidney disease and dialysis. Cook requested a reason­able accommodation such as a blood test, hair test, or other drug test that did not require a urine sample, the EEOC charged.   Kmart refused to provide that alternative test and denied Cook employ­ment because of his disability, according to the suit.  
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires employers to provide reasonable accommodation, including during the application and hiring process, unless it can show it would be an undue hardship. The ADA also prohibits employers from refusing to hire individuals because of their disability.
The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Kmart Corporation; Sears Holdings Management Corporation, Civil Action No. 13-cv-02576) in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
In addition to providing $102,048 in monetary relief to Cook, the two-year consent decree resolving this lawsuit provides substantial equitable relief, including enjoining Kmart from taking adverse employment actions on the basis of disability and failing to provide a reasonable accommo­dation. Kmart is also revising its drug testing policies and forms to specify the availability of reason­able accommodation for applicants or employees in the company's drug testing processes. The decree also requires Kmart to provide training on the equal employment opportunity laws enforced by the EEOC, and on Kmart's ADA policy and the provision of reasonable accommodation, including as it relates to the company's drug testing processes. This training is required for all store managers, store assistant managers and human resources leads in the district where the alleged discrimination occurred. Kmart will also post a notice regarding the resolution of this lawsuit.
"There was a readily available alternative to the urinalysis test in this situation," said EEOC Philadelphia District Director Spencer H. Lewis, Jr. "This case demonstrates that the consequences of failing to comply with the ADA can be far more expensive than the actual cost of providing a reason­able accommodation."
EEOC Philadelphia Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence added, "We are pleased that this settlement compensates Mr. Cook for the harm he suffered and contains equitable relief designed to ensure that all employees and applicants with disabilities will receive equal employment opportunities, including reasonable accommodations as required by law."
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the Commission is available at its website, www.eeoc.gov.  
The Philadelphia District Office of the EEOC oversees Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and parts of New Jersey and Ohio. The legal staff of the Philadelphia District Office of the EEOC also prosecutes discrimination cases arising from Washington, D.C. and parts of Virginia.

Illinois "Cleaning Authority of Plainfield' to Pay $15,000 to Resolve EEOC Disability Suit

PRESS RELEASE | Jan 27, 2015 
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

House Cleaning Service Subjected Employee to Unlawful Inquiries and Harassment Based on Abnormal Gait, Federal Agency Charged
CHICAGO - Mont Brook, Inc., doing business as The Cleaning Authority of Plainfield, will pay $15,000 to a former employee as part of a three-year consent decree resolving a civil rights suit by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the agency announced today.
The EEOC charged that the Plainfield, Ill.-based house cleaning service violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) when one of the company's officers harassed an employee who walks with an abnormal gait due a stroke. According to the agency's complaint, the officer referred to the employee as "a cripple," mockingly imitated the way she walks, and told her that she was being a "hysterical basket case" when she objected. The officer also reportedly asked the employee, "Are you crippled?"
The company had argued that since such conduct involved a small number of instances over a two-day period, it was not sufficiently severe or pervasive to be unlawful harassment. However, the court rejected that argument and denied the company's request to dismiss the case.
The ADA prohibits subjecting an employee to harassment because of her disability. It also prohibits making disability-related inquiries of any employee - whether disabled or not - unless the inquiry is job-related and justified by a business need.
The EEOC filed suit, EEOC v. Mont Brook, Inc. d/b/a The Cleaning Authority of Plainfield, Civil Action No. 13-cv-6799, in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. U.S. District Judge Charles Norgle entered the decree resolving the suit on January 23, 2015. In addition to monetary relief for the former employee, the decree requires that the company provide training to its managers and other employees about the ADA, and imposes record-keeping and reporting requirements for the duration of the decree, among other measures.
"When directed at an individual with a physical disability, 'cripple' is a profoundly offensive and degrading epithet," said John Hendrickson, the EEOC's regional attorney in Chicago. "Courts and the EEOC have long recognized that the use of unambiguously discriminatory epithets by a manager to a subordinate can quickly create an abusive working environment. All employees have the right to work in an environment free from discriminatory insults and ridicule - and that includes employees with disabilities."
The EEOC's Chicago District Office is responsible for processing discrimination charges, administrative enforcement and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and North and South Dakota, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. Further information is available at www.eeoc.gov.

Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Webinar - February 4th

The Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law is hosting a webinar on February 4 about the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act (PTFA). PTFA protections for renters facing eviction because of foreclosure expired on December 31, 2014.

Speakers, who include NLIHC Senior VP for Policy Linda Couch, will discuss the expiration of the federal PTFA and the status of efforts to re-introduce it, as well as campaigns in several states to enact similar protections. There will be a discussion of successful strategies to secure protections for renters and challenges to such efforts.

Presenters are:

  • Tristia Bauman, Senior Attorney, National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty
  • Jeremy Bergstrom, Senior Staff Attorney, Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law
  • Linda Couch, Senior Vice President for Policy, National Low Income Housing Coalition
  • Matt Hill, Attorney, Public Justice Center
  • Kent Qian, Staff Attorney, National Housing Law Project
The one-hour webinar will be on Wednesday, February 4 at 4:00 pm ET.


# also always check with your State, County, and City laws, as there may be additional laws where you live.

Federal Complaint by Special-ed parents demanding Spanish interpreters

The Columbus Dispatch | By Jennifer Smith Richards | January 28, 2015

A federal complaint filed yesterday argues that Columbus and five other central Ohio school districts are among those that discriminate against special-education students whose parents speak Spanish by failing to provide translation and interpreters.
Disability Rights Ohio, a federally designated advocate for people with disabilities in Ohio, and Toledo-based Advocates for Basic Legal Equality say that the following districts have shut families out of the special-education process and should be forced to make changes immediately: Columbus, Dublin, Groveport Madison, South-Western, Toledo, Westerville and Whitehall.
Federal law requires public-school districts to include parents, using a language they understand, in special-education conferences and decisions about services their children receive. The absence of translators can mean parents who don’t speak English might not know what help their children need and can’t advocate for them.
The complaint was filed with the Department of Justice on behalf of 21 families. The families argue they’re being discriminated against on the basis of national origin and want the Justice Department to require the districts to identify which families need language assistance and train school staff on their obligations to provide services.
The state Education Department is named because, the complaint says, it doesn’t offer Spanish-language assistance for families who want to file a special-education complaint against their schools.
“What many school districts do pretty well is translate general documents that go out on a regular basis. For these families, the problem is they’re not getting documents that are critical to their children’s education translated. They’re more difficult to do because they’re individualized documents, they’re not a form letter,” said Kristin Hildebrant, senior attorney at Disability Rights Ohio.
“They can’t get the Department of Education to help them with their concerns because they can’t communicate with them.”
Many of the central Ohio districts named in the complaint said they hadn’t seen it and couldn’t comment. But several also said their districts provide translation and interpreting services regularly.
“When we’re aware that these services are needed, they are provided,” said Westerville spokesman Greg Viebranz. The district also has two employees who work directly with families who don’t speak English as a native language, including one who speaks Spanish.
Whitehall’s superintendent, Brian Hamler, said the district offers interpreters whenever a parent asks for one or when a teacher suggests it would be helpful. South-Western’s spokeswoman, Sandy Nekoloff, said the complaint was the first the district had heard of problems. She said South-Western provides interpreters or bilingual assistants at all special-education conferences.
The families’ names are masked in the complaint, although it details the parents’ struggles in each district. Most often, the families say that materials such as special-education meeting notices, students’ progress reports and individualized education plans are provided only in English, which they don’t understand. In most of the districts, parents say no interpreter is provided for special-education meetings.
At Groveport Madison, a parent in the complaint says interpreters are provided during the important meetings, but that the interpreters don’t interpret well, so the parent is left confused or with a poor understanding of what has happened.
In Toledo’s case, the complaint says the district fails to routinely send out letters in Spanish or offer Spanish-language assistance for students without disabilities as well, said Mark Heller, senior attorney at ABLE.
“In Toledo, we had gone to the school district starting in 2011 ... and had a series of meetings with the superintendent on this issue. The parents here wanted to try to resolve this by dealing directly with the school system, but nothing has improved even though we’ve received assurance that this would change.”

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

'Wiener Dog' with Disability Gets a 3D Printed Wheelchair

thanks Mary S. for sharing

article by Bonnie Burton | CNET | Jan 28, 2015
Tiny wheelchairs have helped disabled tortoises, baby goats and even goldfish to lead active, happy lives. So when the news hit that Bubbles the two-legged wiener dog was walking again thanks to a 3D-printed wheelchair, we weren’t surprised.

After all, another puppy nicknamed TurboRoo stole our hearts when we saw the little fella rolling around in his 3D-printed wheelchair last August.

In this case, Bubbles the dachshund was born without her two front legs. Her owners Trevor Byers and Elissa Smoak decided to build her a wheelchair.

They used a combination of “carbon fiber, 3D-printed parts and a model airplane, with the hope that others would be able to utilize the same design for their own dogs in need of a wheelchair,” according to 3ders.org.

Byers uploaded Bubbles’ wheelchair design to MakerBot’s Thingiverse for other pet owners looking for help.

"Bubbles is the reason I bought my printer in the first place and she loves the freedom it has given her," Byers said on his Thingiverse page.

As you can see from these videos of Bubbles playing with her fellow canines, the wheelchair is a hit.

YouTube Published by Elissa Smoak on Jan 25, 2015

EFE wins emergency motion requiring immediate return of Student with Disability to his neighborhood school in Illinois

wonderfuls news from Equip for Equality

Equip for Equality's 'Special Education Clinic' for securing a court order that requires our client's return to his neighborhood school. 

January 28, 2015
After spending four months without an appropriate school to attend, Equip for Equality’s client excitedly returned to his middle school on Monday after a federal judge ordered his return. Our client is a twelve-year-old boy with various disabilities that affect his learning in school. Over time, his school district has increasingly segregated him into separate classroom settings, without providing needed supports and services. Most recently, the school district sought to move him out of his neighborhood school entirely into a segregated school for students with behavioral disabilities. 

Equip for Equality’s complaint alleges that the school district’s actions violate the legal mandate to educate students in their least restrictive environment, which requires the starting point to be the neighborhood school with appropriate supports and services. Equip for Equality also alleges that the school district has violated federal law by failing to provide him with an appropriate education to meet his unique needs by not conducting appropriate evaluations, not developing appropriate education plans, and not implementing the plans once they were created. As a result of this most recent victory, our client will be allowed to remain in his neighborhood school until the dispute is resolved.  Read the judge’s order.


For more information, please visit Equip for Equality
Advancing the Human & Civil Rights of People with Disabilities in Illinois

U.S. Congress divided over depleted Social Security Disability fund

as reported by The Hill, article By Rebecca Shabad - 01/25/15

A Social Security fund that provides benefits to nearly nine million disabled people is projected to run out by the end of 2016, and a new House rule could cause headaches for majority Republicans during the upcoming push to shore it up. 
The rule, which the House passed earlier this month, puts up a procedural roadblock against legislation that would redistribute the payroll tax to replenish the Social Security Disability Insurance Trust Fund. 
To fund Social Security, employees and employers each pay 6.2 percent each month. The main retirement fund, Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI), receives 5.3 percent and the disability fund gets 0.9 percent of the tax.
Republicans oppose reallocating the payroll tax to keep the disability program solvent because it would hurt the retirement fund, but Democrats assert it’s been done nearly a dozen times before. 

Meanwhile, the GOP has been short on alternative solutions. 
“We think it’s not wise to continue to take from the Social Security trust fund to prop up the disability fund,” House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-Ga.) said this week.
Price, who spent part of his career as an orthopedic surgeon, said weeding out abuse and fraud within the disability program could be one solution to keep it solvent.
“There are a number of studies that demonstrate that a lot of people who are on the program are no longer eligible,” he said. “People get well, people do other things and other opportunities become available from a medical standpoint to treating whatever disability they have to make it so that they can contribute to a greater degree.”
Kathy Ruffing, senior fellow of federal fiscal policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), said Republicans like Price are wrong.
“Republicans in Congress have systematically underfunded those efforts by the Social Security Administration and I think that the critics of the program who like to claim that it is somehow rife with fraud and abuse have a responsibility to document those claims,” she said. “They are frankly wrong.”
About 8.9 million people receive disability benefits from the fund and its eligibility guidelines are stringent. Beneficiaries must have worked at least one-quarter of their adult life and five of the last 10 years. They must be unable to work because of a severe medical issue that has lasted five months and is expected to last at least another year.
Roughly a quarter of recipients have a mental impairment, some have muscular or skeletal problems and others have diseases like diabetes, Lou Gehrig’s disease, congestive heart failure and cancer. A majority of them are 55 or older and many die within a few years of first receiving the insurance, according to CBPP. 
The 2014 Social Security Trustees report determined that after the fourth quarter of 2016, the disability fund wouldn’t go bankrupt, but it would only be able to cover 81 percent of benefits, amounting to 19 percent in cuts. On average now, people receive about $1,165 per month. 
Democrats have warned the new House rule could almost certainly lead to those cuts.
Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.), the ranking member on the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, said he suspects Republicans are trying to privatize the program as they've attempted before.
"That rule should not be used as a rule to essentially try to privatize Social Security. I think that’s the basic purpose of that rule.”
That’s not the case at all, said Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.). He said the rule is intended to force lawmakers to confront long-term entitlement spending problems.
“This is one where I think the president has shown a lack of leadership,” he said.
Cole said he and Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.) have reintroduced legislation that would create a bipartisan 13-member commission that would work on a legislative solution to fix both Social Security funds and bring it to the House floor.
“The commission would probably gradually raise retirement age, it would probably look at chained CPI, would probably look at means-testing and probably look at some sort of revenue, or reduce benefits for upper-income people,” Cole said. “Then you have to vote.”
Cole said he and Delaney plan to present it to Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the chairman of the Ways and Means panel, which is going on a retreat next week.
None of the lawmakers to whom The Hill spoke offered possible alternative solutions for replenishing the disability fund, but most agreed it’s an urgent matter. 
“I think that legislation is warranted ASAP, which is a difficult thing to say in Washington,” Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.). “We need legislation within this year, within the next six months. There are enough folks I’ve talked to on both sides of the aisle who I think will get us to that point.”
Congress last passed a major reform of Social Security in 1983 after which both the retirement and disability funds were expected to remain solvent through 2060. In the mid-1980s, however, the share of workers receiving disability benefits was at a record low.
Since then, the pool of disability insurance applicants has grown significantly because of population growth, the aging of baby boomers and more women participating in the labor force.
Democrats advocate redistributing the payroll tax to help prevent the disability fund from running out, a step Congress last took in 1994.

Charles Blahous III, one of the Social Security public trustees, emphasized in a column recently that a lot has changed since that last redistribution.  
“The most responsible and ambitious choice would be comprehensive reform shoring up Social Security as a whole,” he wrote. “Transferring funds from OASI to DI would weaken Social Security’s retirement component, which is in even worse long-term condition.”
The trustees’ report said in order to keep the retirement and disability funds solvent for the next 75 years, the overall payroll tax would have to be raised by about 3 percentage points, something most Republicans would likely oppose. 
Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) questions the GOP’s tactics so far, but holds out hope the House can still reallocate money to keep the disability program solvent.
“It’s really a stain on the reputation of this body. Thank God it doesn’t involve a crime, but it does involve the most gross misuse of political power,” he said of Republican efforts, adding, “Public pressure can change any damn thing.”

Youth in International Development and Foreign Affairs 'Internship' program - apply till Feb 4, 2015

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

DEADLINE EXTENDED TO February 4, 2015!
 Youth in International Development and Foreign Affairs internship program

The summer 2015 Youth in International Development and Foreign Affairs internship program remains open for applications until February 4, 2015 at 5 pm EST.  

This program is for recent graduates, graduate students, and undergraduates from across the U.S. who wish to pursue a career in international development or foreign affairs. The U.S. International Council on Disabilities (USICD) has coordinated this internship program since 2013.

Interns pose with Program Manager for a group picture during the summer Youth in International Development and Foreign Affairs internship program
Participants in the 2014 internship program pose with the program manager (center back).

The summer 2015 internship program will bring a group of talented graduate students, recent graduates, and rising college juniors and seniors to Washington, DC, for nine weeks.  This will include a one-week training and orientation program followed by an eight-week internship at an international organization in the Washington, DC, area.  Each intern is usually placed at a different organization.  USICD will cover the cost of fully-accessible housing during the program, reimburse travel expenses to and from DC, and provide a limited stipend.  It is anticipated that the program will run from May 24 to July 25, 2015These dates may be subject to change.  

Applicants must be U.S. citizens, must identify as a person with a disability, and must be either a student or a recent graduate. "Recent graduates" graduated between spring 2014 and spring 2015 with either a graduate degree or a bachelor's degree.  All applicants must have completed at minimum their sophomore year in college.  Most applicants should be age 30 or younger.  In limited circumstances, some candidates (particularly U.S. veterans) may be eligible up to age 35.

To learn more about the Youth in International Development and Foreign Affairs internship program, its eligibility criteria, and the application process, please visithttp://usicd.org/template/page.cfm?id=257.  You can also download a printable handout on the internship program.

Please disseminate this announcement widely.  If you represent an international organization in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area interested in hosting an intern from June 1 to July 24, 2015, please communicate with internships@usicd.org.

USICD thanks the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation for their support for this initiative.
Application deadline for USICD's summer 2015 internship program isFebruary 4, 2015 at 5 pm EST (2 pm PST).
Please visit the U.S. International Council on Disabilities website!