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

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Overview of New Chicago Human Rights Ordinance Disability Rights Regulation, effective 1/1/2016

The City of Chicago has updated the Chicago Human Rights Ordinance, with changes for protection for people with disabilities. Chicago's Commission on Human Relations has released a Summary (pdf) for the changes that go into effect Jan 1, 2016. We have provided the information in text below.
*This is meant solely for informational purposes and is not inclusive of all the new regulation provisions. It is not meant as a form of legal advice.


City of Chicago 

Overview of New Chicago Human Rights Ordinance Disability Rights Regulation, effective 1/1/2016*

The Chicago Human Rights Ordinance prohibits against individuals based on 16 different protected characteristics, including disability. Among other things, the Ordinance requires that private businesses ensure that their facilities, products and services are available to individuals with disabilities.

On January 1, 2016 a new disability rights regulation enacted by the Chicago Commission on Human Relations will go into effect. This regulation will set out in clear terms what businesses are required to do to satisfy their obligations under the Ordinance to make their goods and services accessible to people with disabilities.

Between now and 1/1/2016: 
Businesses are required to provide the same level of service and access to their facilities and products to people with disabilities as are offered to the rest of the general public, unless it creates an undue hardship, in which case the business must find a way to offer such services in an adequate alternative manner. For some businesses, this will include making physical alterations to their facilities to make them more accessible (e.g. installing ramps, widening doorways). 

Starting in 2016: 
Businesses must be accessible to individuals with disabilities and the regulation provides varying standards, both structural and practical, depending on what is required, including: 
  • • The construction and alteration of facilities. 
  • • The removal of architectural barriers that interfere with accessibility in existing facilities. 
  • • The removal of criteria that screen out individuals with a disability. 
  • • The revision of policies necessary to provide full and equal enjoyment. 
  • • The provision of auxiliary aids and services necessary for effective communication. 
The new regulation sets forth very specific requirements for private businesses covered by the Ordinance. These requirements are nearly identical to those found in Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the federal disability rights law that applies to private business. The new regulation will look to the physical accessibility standards of the Chicago Building Code, Chapter 18-11, to determine any necessary structural modifications. 

Structural Accessibility 
  •  New Construction 
  • - Requires that facilities be built in accordance with the accessibility requirements of the Chicago Building Code, unless a condition of the terrain makes it impossible to comply. 

  •  Alterations to Existing Facilities 
  • - Requires that any physical changes to a facility (build-outs, renovations) be done so that the altered elements are built in accordance with the accessibility requirements of the Chicago Building Code, unless doing so would impact a load bearing element of the facility. 
  • - When the primary function area of an establishment is altered (e.g. the dining room of a restaurant), improvements in access to other parts of the facility may be required. 

  •  Existing Facilities 
  • - Requires that any structural barriers preventing access to people with disabilities be removed where such removal is readily achievable, meaning easily completed without much difficulty or expense (based on the size and resources of the business). 
  • - If removing a barrier is not readily achievable, the business may need to provide alternative means of providing access to their goods and services (e.g. curbside service and home delivery). 
Accessibility of Policies, Practices, & Procedures 
  •  Intentional Discrimination 
  • - A business may not deny service to people based on their disabilities. 
  • - A business may not provide people with disabilities with unequal access to goods and services or access to lesser quality goods or services. 

  •  Eligibility Criteria 
  • - A business may not impose rules that exclude people with disabilities, unless those rules are necessary to provide good and services or are related to a legitimate safety requirement. 
  • - Example: A store requires customers using a credit card to produce a driver’s license, thereby excluding people whose disabilities prohibit them from driving (e.g. people who are blind). 

  •  Modifications to Policies, Practices, and Procedures 
  • - A business must reasonably modify its procedures when necessary to afford goods or services to individuals with disabilities, unless such a modification would fundamentally alter the nature of the business. 
  • - Example: A cafĂ© with a “no-animals” policy must modify that policy to allow people with disabilities accompanied by service animals to enter. 

  •  Ensuring Effective Communication 
  • - A business must ensure that it communicates in the most effective manner with customers who have visual, hearing, or speech impairments, unless doing so would fundamentally alter the nature of the business or create significant difficulty or expense. 
  • - The most effective auxiliary aid or service to facilitate communication will depend on the context of the business transaction and the disability of the customer. 
  • - Ex: A written note might be enough to communicate with a person who is deaf at a donut shop but the same person might require a sign language interpreter when visiting a doctor’s office.
For more information contact:
City of Chicago 
740 N. Sedgwick, Suite 400, Chicago, IL 60654 
Phone 312/744-4111, Fax 312/744-1081, TTY 312/744-1088 

#repost from August 2015

EEOC Sues McDonald's for Disability Discrimination, Denied A Sign Language Interpreter for Deaf Applicant

from a Press Release | Dec. 21, 2015
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

Fast Food Giant Denied Sign Language Interpreter for Deaf Applicant
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- McDonald's Corporation and McDonald's Restaurants of Missouri violated federal law by refusing to accommodate and hire a deaf applicant, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.
According to the suit, Ricky Washington, who is deaf, applied online for a job at a McDonald's restaurant in Belton, Mo. in June 2012. Washington indicated on his application that he attended Kansas School for the Deaf. Washington also said he had previous job experience working as a cook and clean-up team member at a McDonald's restaurant in Louisiana in 2009. When the Belton restaurant manager learned Washington needed a sign language interpreter for his job interview, she canceled the interview and never rescheduled it, despite Washington's sister volunteering to act as the interpreter. Restaurant management continued to interview and hire new workers after Washington made several attempts to schedule an interview.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), which prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in employment and requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for job applicants so they will have equal opportunities during the application process. EEOC filed its lawsuit (EEOC v. McDonald's Corporation, et al, 4:15-cv-01004-FJG) in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. EEOC seeks back pay, compensatory and punitive damages, and injunctive relief, including training for all McDonald's managers on accommodations for applicants with disabilities, particularly those who are deaf.
EEOC St. Louis District Director James R. Neely, Jr. said, "Removing obstacles in the hiring process for people with disabilities is a national priority for EEOC. All employers, but especially large ones, should join with the agency to make sure everyone has equal access to the employment process."
"People with disabilities have one of the highest unemployment rates in the country," added EEOC Regional Attorney Andrea G. Baran. "Providing equal employment opportunities to all job applicants - including those with disabilities - is not just the law, it is good for our economy and our workplaces."
According to company information, McDonald's is a global fast food provider that serves over sixty-nine million customers per day in 100 different countries.  The Belton, Mo. restaurant is owned and operated by the corporation's world-wide headquarters in Oak Brook, Illinois. 
Eliminating barriers in recruitment and hiring is one of six national priorities identified by EEOC's Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).
The St. Louis District Office oversees Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and a portion of southern Illinois.
EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination.  Further information about EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Chicago Crip Slam January 17. KRIS LENZO: RIPPED at The Access Project of Victory Gardens Theater

Please join The Access Project of Victory Gardens Theater for this incredible dance performance featuring 3Arts award winner Kris Lenzo. The evening begins with "Ripped," a short film about

Kris made by his daughter, Natalie Stone. The film is followed by dance performances by Kris and others and then a discussion with questions from the audience. Come see this exciting redefinition of
Audio Description and captioning are provided .


Sunday, January 17, 2016 

2015 3Arts Awardee, Dancer and Choreographer Kris Lenzo blurs the lines between a wheelchair and stand up dancer. Since 2003, Lenzo has danced with MOMENTA performing arts and has performed several times in the Dance St. Louis Spring to Dance show, Dance ChicagoDuets for My ValentineChicago’s Bodies of Work Festival of Disability Art and Culture,Counter Balance, and annually at the Chicago Disability Pride Parade. From romantic duets with Anita Fillmore Kenney and Linda Mastandrea, to stunning solo pieces, Lenzo pushes the limits of what a body can do.

At Victory Gardens Theater
2433 N. Lincoln 
Chicago  60614

Tickets $10




Webinar January 14th: Preparedness-Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities "FEMA Promising Practice: Communication Outreach and Toolkits"

Announcing a new webinar - "FEMA Promising Practice: Communication Outreach and Toolkits"

January 14th, 2016

Webinars begin at 2.30pm ET/1.30pm CT/12.30 pm MT/11.30am PT/9.30am Hawaii.
Registration: Free on-line at http://www.adapresentations.org/registration.php
This webinar will have two presentations that address responding to communications and outreach needs of the whole community. In the first presentation, we will hear from members of the Community Outreach and Effective Communications Subcommittee of the Texas Disability Task Force about how they work to ensure access through outreach to the community. One of the products created and distributed by the Texas Disability Task Force is the Effective Communications Toolkit. The Effective Communication Toolkit applies to emergency management and public information professionals who work for, or with, local jurisdictions to communicate warnings, notifications, and other messages to news media and to the public. It also contains face-to-face operational communication tools for shelter managers and first responders.
In the second presentation, we will hear from the Public Safety Committee of the Seattle Commission for People with disAbilities and their Emergency Shelter Communications Toolkit, a Field Manual designed for use primarily by any facility planning for, or pressed into service as, an emergency shelter. Written by disability subject matter experts, it provides information, tools, and resources, to address communication barriers which can be present in an emergency shelter situation. The manual also has value for any emergency management professional in communication with people with disabilities.
Learning objectives:
  • Learn elements that ensure that emergency communications services and equipment address the functional and access needs of people with disabilities as part of a “whole community” approach.
  • Learn about the development, goals, and contents of the Emergency Shelter Communications Toolkit, and its uses, in the field and in planning, outreach, and other emergency management activities.
Russell Cook, MCP, Chair, Disability Task Force on Emergency Management, has served as the Business Continuity Coordinator and the Emergency Preparedness Coordinator for the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) since December of 2011. In this role, Mr. Cook works daily to ensure the resiliency of the agency. During his 20 years in Texas state government, he has also served as a Fiscal Manager and Property Manager for the Texas Department of Human Services and the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services.
Ron Lucey, Executive Director, Texas Governor's Committee on People with Disabilities, was the technical assistance and accessibility manager for the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitation Services' Center for Policy and Innovation. Mr. Lucey also has worked for the City of Austin where he served as a city commissioner and chairman of the Mayor's Committee for People with Disabilities. His perspective as a person with a visual disability has helped him effectively advocate for accessibility and the rights of Texans with disabilities.
Laura M. Stough, Ph.D., Assistant Director, Center on Disability and Development, Texas A&M University is Associate Professor of Educational Psychology, Assistant Director at the Center for Disability and Development, and is a Faculty Fellow at the Hazard Reduction & Recovery Center at Texas A&M University. Dr. Stough's research explores inequities in the provision of social and educational services to individuals with disabilities and their families. She is the co-author of the book Disability and Disaster: Explorations and Exchanges, as well as of over 40 professional articles and chapters.
Deborah Witmer, a resident of Seattle, Washington, is a disability advocate working to improve community resilience, and building partnerships within the disability and emergency management communities. As a Commissioner on the Seattle Commission for People with disAbilities, and Co-Chair of their Public Safety Committee, she serves as the Liaison with the Seattle Department of Emergency Management, responding, when activated, with the ESF-6 Branch. She also serves as the Co-Chair of the Disability Advisory Group, supporting on-going partnerships between nonprofits and individuals in the disability community and emergency management professionals. Deborah also serves as the Disability Representative on the Regional Catastrophic Planning Team, a FEMA-established, 8-county, catastrophic planning group in Washington State.
These 90 minute webinars are delivered using the Blackboard Collaborate webinar platform. Collaborate downloads files to your machine in order to run. We recommend that you prepare your technology prior to the start of the session. You may need the assistance of your IT Staff if firewalls prevent you from downloading files.
To view all of the sessions for the coming year, or to see previous sessions, go to http://www.adapresentations.org/schedule.php
The information presented in this webinar is intended solely as informal guidance, and is neither a determination of legal rights or responsibilities by NIDILRR or FEMA.
Copyright © 2015 Pacific ADA Center, All rights reserved.
Pacific ADA Center
555 12th Street
Suite 1030
Oakland, CA 94607

Monday, December 28, 2015

a little video satire to shine the light on the fake service animal epidemic

As we know it is not funny that some people are abusing Service Animals and Companion Animal laws that allow daily assist to so many with disabilities. But in the spirit of satire, we are sharing the following video. Though it does not have video description, the dialog does a pretty good job of telling a story of a usher at a theater's main entrance. 

YouTube Published on Dec 23, 2015 from Urban Brain.
Starring Nicole Campbell, Kelsey Colleen, Stacy Firkus, Jessie Hanson, Patrick Hesse, Hayley Lyons, and Charles Shuman. Written by Mike Miller.
Watch more at http://theurbanbrain.com.

For more posts related on the 'Fake' Service Animal epidemic: CLICK HERE

Madison Tevlin, Singing Teen with Down Syndrome on Internet fame 'I was so surprised'


YouTube Published on Jan 20, 2015
This Astounding 12 year Old, is defying all statistics and odds associated with having Down's Syndrome and Singing. She is a true inspiration to all. WATCH THIS VIDEO CLOSELY. LISTEN TO THIS VIDEO CLOSELY. READ THIS VIDEO CLOSELY. BE INSPIRED. 
All video content and images are copyright to the artist Madison Tevlin. © MADISON TEVLIN, 2015

A Toronto teen who went viral with a rendition of John Legend's "All of Me" earlier this year said she's "so surprised" by the attention she's received since she posted the video.
Madison Tevlin, a 13-year-old with Down syndrome, covered the chart-topping song in January with the help of her vocal coach.

article by Janice Golding and Kendra Mangione, CTV Toronto | Dec 24, 2015
"Singing is my passion and I love to do it," Tevlin told CTV Toronto's Janice Golding, who caught up with the teen for an update in December.
Her music coach asked her to record the video to inspire his other clients who have special needs. The video was uploaded to YouTube and quickly went viral. 
It was shared on Twitter by the singer himself, and was also tweeted by actor Ashton Kutcher.
"I was so surprised at what happened. (The video) was only really for our family and friends to see, but then it just went viral."
By December, Tevlin's video had been viewed more than 7.6 million times. She told CTV Toronto she hopes it will be seen by 21 million people in time for World Down Syndrome Day, March 21.
Tevlin said she continues to receive hundreds of messages of support from the video.
"Thanks for making this world more beautiful, you are amazing," one of the messages said.
The video highlighted challenges people with Down syndrome face -- those with the condition generally have issues with hearing, tone and communication -- but also showed what can be accomplished with hard work.
"Maybe watching this video, some parents will actually get some strength, and think, 'You know what? Look at what can be and what our child is capable of,'" Tevlin's mother, Grace, told CTV Toronto.
The teen also demonstrated what she was capable of in July, as the ambassador of the 2015 Special Olympics World Games, which took place in Los Angeles.
Tevlin and Breanna Bogucki, a U.S. teen with autism, worked with pop singer Cody Simpson and O.A.R. rocker Mac Roberge to record the theme song for the games.
The song, called "Reach Up," was performed live at the opening ceremony live on July 25.
In the months to come, Tevlin will be featured on two episodes of "Mr. D," and will also be appearing on a Family Channel show. Her mother said she'd also been contacted by a Hollywood casting director, who expressed an interest in having the teen audition for a movie.
With a report from CTV Toronto's Janice Golding

Saturday, December 26, 2015

How We Talk to Kids about Disability, By Elizabeth Wampler

published from Disability.gov. By Guest Blogger Elizabeth Wampler, Stephen J. Wampler Foundation

In the way that some people are dog people, I am a baby and little people person. I adore the innocents, the new-ish little bitties who are pure and emerging and pre-filter. I am talking about the group, who, when they ask questions, have the power to mortify. They’re lightning-fast, too, and although super small, can dumbfound big people without real effort.

I have been that cringing parent and listened, unable to fly through the air to cup my child’s mouth before she was able to ask the nice lady why her teeth were yellow. Oh, the pre-filter days.

These days, when we are out and about and we see a child fast-tracking it our way, his worried, “what’s-he-going-to-say?” parent in tow, Stephen and I have a standing plan.

Our rule is that, as the kid heads toward Steve, questions forming, I try to connect the parent so that:
  • He/she knows it is ok to ask anything; and
  • That the parent knows we want to encourage that child to ask.
We feel this way for so many reasons. If the kid has a great first experience when they are young, they are much more likely to have a second and third, etc.

In contrast, we know people with disabilities who have different ideas about interactions with others (not judging, just comparing tactics).

For this guy, the hypothetical person in the above paragraph, if a child were to approach him and ask, “what’s wrong with you,” this person gets mad, and answers, “why don’t you ask what’s right with me?!”

What we have found happens in that scenario, however, is that the parent will then coach the child to NEVER approach a person in a wheelchair again. The child and parent feel scolded, and will likely never replicate that experience again.

Right or wrong, we like our way of doing it, and have loved the interactions and sometimes repeated, welcomed visits as well as additional questions and chats with both parents and kids.

We want them to come back! We want them to get to know us better! (Except for Mrs. Yellow Teeth, as I imagine she might still be a little bitter.)

About the Guest Blogger

Elizabeth Wampler is the mother of two teenagers, wife of Steve Wampler who has cerebral palsy, and is a disability advocate. Together with Steve, they are raising their children, running the Wampler Foundation that they founded together and live in San Diego, Calif.

Illinois New Law Puts Priority On Accessible Playgrounds On Jan. 01

A new law that goes into effect January 1, 2016 will place priority on grants to purchase accessible playground equipment.
The idea for the law began, according to State Senator Andy Manar (D – Bunker Hill), with fifth-grader Maddie Heflin from Wolf Ridge Elementary School asking a question. Senator Manar says Heflin asked him why there wasn’t playground equipment that kids with disabilities could use.
“Accessible playground equipment exists, but she wanted to know why it isn’t in our parks and playgrounds,” Manar explains.
Manar says this question caused him to sponsor House Bill 3457(1). The bill directs the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to prioritize park grants to purchase accessible playground equipment. Manar says providing playground equipment to students with disabilities will promote “acceptance and inclusion.”
Grants from the Department’s outdoor recreation program are already prioritized based on the useful life of facilities, safety needs and other factors. The proposal would add on to that list of priorities with accessible swings, ground-level play features, wheelchair-accessible and ramped equipment.
“Maddie’s question and her concern for others is what led to the creation of this law. Thanks to her help every student will have a chance to participate, and it will teach children at a young age to ignore any stigma around disability,” Manar adds.
The proposal was approved by lawmakers in spring 2015 and was signed by Governor Rauner. It will go into effect January 1, 2016.
A full list of laws going into effect on January 1, 2016 can be found here.
(1) Amends the Park and Recreational Facility Construction Act. Provides that the Department of Natural Resources shall give priority to such projects as accessible playground equipment.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Landmark settlement reached in Illinois class action on behalf of prisoners with mental illness

Equip for Equality is pleased to announce the legal team has reached a settlement on behalf of mentally ill prisoners in a class action against the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC).   Laura Miller, Amanda Antholt and Barry Taylor are the members of the legal team for Equip for Equality.  Our co-counsel partners are Uptown People’s Law Center and the law firms of Dentons and Mayer Brown.  

Highlights include:

·        For the first time ever, Illinois will provide both long-term and acute care for prisoners who are so seriously mentally ill that they require hospitalization. Previously, they were either relegated to solitary confinement, or left for months in “crisis cells,” where they were stripped of all possessions, left totally isolated from other prisoners, and watched 24 hours a day to ensure they do not commit suicide.
·        More than 300 new clinical staff will be hired to treat prisoners with serious mental illnesses, along with over 400 new security staff to work at the new residential treatment units. This will allow IDOC to provide group therapy and one-on-one therapy for prisoners, which was virtually unheard of previously.
·        The IDOC will construct four residential treatment units (at Logan, Pontiac, and Dixon Correctional Centers, and the now-closed Illinois Youth Center in Joliet). This will allow the release of many people currently held in long-term solitary confinement into more appropriate, treatment-oriented housing.
·        IDOC will review the mental health of all prisoners with more than 60 days left in solitary, to determine if they should be given early release. IDOC will also release from solitary all prisoners with serious mental illnesses who are confined there for minor, non-violent offenses, and in the future will consider mental health before sentencing someone to segregation.
·        Prisoners with mental illnesses who are in solitary confinement for over 60 days will have their out-of-cell time increased from less than an hour a day to 20 hours a week.
·        Construction costs for the new facilities are estimated to be $40 million and the new personnel costs are expected to be approximately $40 million annually. This spending will be a part of the appropriations process.
# As this was just announced 12/24/2015, we will update this post if more info becomes available.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Tracking Santa Claus on Christmas Eve - NORAD Tracks Santa Journey

in the spirit of the Holiday Season, Ability Chicago Info wishes the best of the season and happy to share Santa's journey...

NORAD Tracks Santa 2015! 60 years of Tracking Santa! Visit our website at www.noradsanta.org starting Dec. 1!

The NORAD Tracks Santa program has been around for a long time--since 1955 to be exact! We believe that Santa Claus is alive and well in the hearts of people throughout the world.
Starting December 1st, countdown to Santa's flight at www.noradsanta.org. Beginning at 2:00a.m. MST on December 24th, you can track Santa live as he takes his historical journey around the world and watch videos, and much more from NORAD - Santa Cams of Santa and his reindeer!

Don't forget to check NORAD's page on Christmas Eve to track Santa's journey. 
You can  give NORAD a call at 1-877-HI-NORAD for updates. 
Follow NORAD as they track Santa during his test flight prior to Dec. 24! Satellites, radars, fighter aircraft and more! http://www.noradsanta.org/


Chicago Community Trust Grant Will Bring Interpretative Services to Special Holiday Shows for those with Vision and Hearing Needs

WHAT: Shedd Aquarium will offer the interpretative services of an audio describer for those with vision needs and an American Sign Language professional for those with hearing needs during a pair of dates for Shedd’s annual celebration of the season in its ‘Holiday One World’ show.

BACKGROUND: The Chicago Community Trust’s People with Disabilities Fund is supporting Shedd Aquarium’s efforts in piloting new experiences for those with visual and audio needs during the holiday. This grant will allow Shedd to expand ‘Holiday One World’s’ message of animal care and conservation this season to a wider audience. The support will allow Shedd to further explore opportunities for making the aquarium accessible to audiences of all needs.

DETAILS: An American Sign Language Interpreter will be on hand for both performances on both dates, as will audio headsets for those who are hard of hearing. Those who wish to access this interpretation are encouraged to contact Shedd in advance of their ‘Holiday One World’ experience by calling 312-939-2438 or 1-800-526-0857 for relay service. Additional details can be found here.

WHEN: 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m., December 30th and January 2nd

WHERE: Shedd Aquarium, 1200 S Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60605
Shedd Aquarium is supported by the people of Chicago, the State of Illinois and the Chicago Park District.
Shedd Aquarium is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA).

Connect with Shedd Aquarium online through FacebookTwitterYouTube; and Instagram!


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

State of Illinois 16 New Laws for 2016

In 2015 Illinois General Assembly was focused on the Illinois budget stalemate, but a variety of new laws are set to go into effect Jan. 1, 2016.
Check out the list of 16 new laws that may affect you in 2016 – on the road, at school, in your home and around your neighborhood.

The information is from Illinois State Senate Democratic Caucus Facebook post.

# while this post is not disability related, still wanted to share.

What's the Disability Integration Act? - in 2016 will be a you will be hearing a lot about it

The following information is shared from our colleagues in The ADAPT Community; the original information has been updated with info direct from ADAPT website,and with updated links

On Dec. 18th, Senator Schumer (D-NY) introduced the Disability Integration Act (DIA)!
The Disability Integration Act addresses the fundamental issue that people who need Long Term Services and Supports (LTSS) are forced into institutions and losing their basic civil rights. The legislation (S.2427) establishes new federal law - similar in structure to the ADA - that requires states and insurance providers that pay for LTSS to change their policies, provide community-based services first, and offer HCBS to people currently in institutions. DIA operates alongside the Community First Choice Option. CFC is an option which states can choose in the Medicaid State Plan. Even though CFC provides money for states to support independent living, many states have not chosen CFC. DIA requires public entities and insurance providers that pay for LTSS to make real and meaningful changes that support the right of people with disabilities to live in freedom - like every other American!

The Disability Integration Act – Fact Sheet

What is the Disability Integration Act?

The Disability Integration Act (DIA) is civil rights legislation, introduced by Senator Schumer to address the fundamental issue that people who need Long Term Services and Supports (LTSS) are forced into institutions and losing their basic civil rights. The legislation (S.2427) builds on the 25 years of work that ADAPT has done to end the institutional bias and provide seniors and people with disabilities home and community-based services (HCBS) as an alternative to institutionalization. It is the next step in our national advocacy after securing the Community First Choice (CFC) option.

What does the Disability Integration Act do?

The legislation, when enacted, establishes new federal law - similar in structure to the ADA - that requires states and insurance providers that pay for LTSS to change their policies, provide community-based services first, and offer HCBS to people currently in institutions. DIA operates alongside CFC, but these two laws work very differently. CFC is an option which states can choose. Even though CFC provides money for states to support independent living, many states have not chosen CFC. DIA requires states and insurance providers that pay for LTSS to make real and meaningful changes that support the right of people with disabilities to live in freedom like every other American.

How does the Disability Integration Act work?

The proposed legislation establishes new federal law - structured like the ADA - that says “No public entity or LTSS insurance provider shall deny an individual with an LTSS disability who is eligible for institutional placement, or otherwise discriminate against that individual in the provision of, community-based long-term services and supports that enable the individual to live in the community and lead an independent life.
DIA makes it illegal for a state and insurance providers that pay for LTSS to fail to provide HCBS by using waiting lists, screening people out, capping services, paying workers too little for services, or the other excuses that have been used to keep people with disabilities from living in freedom. DIA requires each state to offer community-based services and supports to any individual who is eligible to go into an institution. It also requires states to take active steps to make sure that there is enough affordable, accessible, integrated housing.

How will the Disability Integration Act be enforced?

The legislation requires states and LTSS insurance providers to complete a self-evaluation to evaluate current services, policies, and practices that do not or may not meet the requirements of the Act and to make the necessary changes in services, policies, and practices required to comply with the law.   Additionally, public entities are required to develop a transition plan using an extensive public participation process. Public entities that fail to comply with the law may face legal action for the Attorney General or may be sued directly. People who have been discriminated against may receive damages under the law.

What is Required Under the Disability Integration Act?

1. Public Entities and Insurance Providers that Pay for LTSS Cannot Discriminate Against People With Disabilities When Providing HCBS
  • Public entities and insurance providers that pay for LTSS cannot use eligibility criteria that prevent an individual or class of individuals from receiving HCBS;
  • Public entities and insurance providers that pay for LTSS cannot limit the availability of services to individuals who need such services based on cost or service caps;
  • Public entities and insurance providers that pay for LTSS cannot refuse to pay for a specific service needed by an individual or class of individuals and must also provide services and supports that are needed on an intermittent, short-term or emergent basis;
  • Eligible individuals must be provided with services in a HCBS without unnecessary delay or restriction of services;
  • Public entities and insurance providers that pay for LTSS cannot require people to use informal supports;
  • Public entities and insurance providers that pay for LTSS cannot impose policies that restrict an individual or class of individuals from living in the community and leading an independent life, like a requirement that the individual must be in a congregate or disability-specific setting; and
  • Public entities and insurance providers that pay for LTSS must make reasonable modifications to policies, practices and procedures.
2. Public Entities and Insurance Providers that Pay for LTSS Must Establish Adequate Payment Structures for HCBS services
  • Public entities and insurance providers that pay for LTSS must create payment structures that will maintain a sufficient workforce to provide services in HCBS for all individuals that require such services
3. Public Entities and Insurance Providers that Pay for LTSS Must Inform People with Disabilities of Their Right to Receive Services and Supports in the Community
  • Individuals in institutional settings must be regularly provided with information to help them understand that they have the right to choose to receive services and supports in the community; and
  • Individuals at risk of institutionalization must be provided with information to help them understand that they have the right to choose to receive services and supports in the community before they are placed in an institutional setting.
4. Public Entities Must Increase Affordable and Accessible Housing Options
  • Public entities must develop plans to increase the availability of affordable and accessible private and public housing for individuals with disabilities.

Who Supports the Disability Integration Act?

The Disability Integration Act (S.2427) and the civil rights approach to address this critical civil rights issue is supported by a broad coalition of national organizations:
  • Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living
  • Association of University Centers on Disabilities
  • Autistic Self Advocacy Network
  • Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund
  • Medicare Rights Center
  • National Council on Independent Living
  • Not Dead Yet
  • National Organization of Nurses with Disabilities
  • Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute
  • SEIU
  • United Spinal

Where Can I Get More Information on the Disability Integration Act?

Additional background and a summary of the proposed legislation is available here.
Answers to frequently asked questions are available
For policy wonks, a PDF of the bill is available here. You can also read the text of the bill is available here.
For people who are not policy wonks, but want to know how the Disability Integration Act defines discrimination here is the discrimination section in plain language.

Monday, December 21, 2015

App Guides Blind Passengers Through London’s Subway is set to launch in early 2016

For those who are visually impaired, even the best
infrastructure and public transportation design doesn’t always equal accessibility.

Trying a new route or navigating a new station can be stressful. Enter Wayfindr, an audio-based navigation system with specific, personalized instructions. Wayfindr, the first open standard for audio-based navigation, is the result of a collaboration between Ustwo, a global digital production studio, and the Royal London Society for Blind People’s (RLSB) Youth Forum. So far the system has been tried out in London’s Pimlico Station, but is currently being expanded throughout London’s Underground.

Here’s how it works: Small radios powered with Bluetooth beacon technology placed in strategic locations around the Underground triangulate the location of anyone using Wayfindr on their phone. The app then gives the user audio instructions in orthogonal phrasing that’s specific to the listener — such as telling the reader to turn left or right instead of walk diagonally. The app is focused on getting the user from point A to point B as efficiently as possible, and omits unnecessary info about the user’s surroundings.

The immediate goal, according to Ustwo’s website, is to “empower vision-impaired people to independently navigate London’s transport network, using the smartphone they have in their pocket.” But their vision extends far beyond the Underground. With the help of a $1 million grant from Google’s Global Impact Challenge: Disabilities, the Wayfindr team plans to eventually expand the system to hospitals, retail locations and more.

After successful initial trials, the creators shifted their focus to creating an open standard of guidelines, rather than just an app. Umesh Pandya, co-founder and CEO of the nonprofit initiative, told Wired that he didn’t want to end up in an app war with other well-meaning developers trying to create navigation systems for the visually impaired. “We just thought somebody needs to step up to bring this all together,” Pandya said. “Twenty systems isn’t the way forward, it’s just not going to work.”

Ultimately, the system could become an integrated option in Google maps or Citymapper, or used in combination with something like Microsoft’s Cities Unlocked project. But we’re still a long way off from Wayfindr being a global standard, and for now, there’s still a lot to test: What is the most effective way to orient someone in space? Is it more effective to start a direction with a verb or a point of reference? How can the user experience stay consistent in very different locations?

The first open release of the Wayfindr rail stations system is set to launch in early 2016.



DOT Exploring Negotiated Rulemaking on Air Travel Access Issues impacting air travel for passengers with disabilities

DOT sealThe Department of Transportation (DOT) is considering undertaking a negotiated rulemaking under the Air Carrier Access Act to address issues impacting air travel for passengers with disabilities. These issues include access to inflight entertainment, accommodation of medical oxygen, policies on service animals, restroom accessibility, seating accommodations, and carrier reporting of disability service requests.

As outlined in a recent notice in the Federal Register, DOT is exploring the feasibility of forming an advisory committee of stakeholders and affected parties to address these issues as a regulatory negotiation. Under this process, committee members would work together to reach consensus on regulatory solutions to the issues. Likely committee members would include representatives from advocacy groups, airlines, airports, airline vendors providing wheelchair assistance, aircraft manufacturers, companies that manufacture and provide content for inflight entertainment systems, and service animal training organizations, as well as other federal agencies with a regulatory interest, such as the Access Board, the Department of Justice, and the Federal Communications Commission. If consensus is reached, DOT would then proceed with rulemaking and publish for public comment a proposed rule based on the committee's recommendations.

DOT is examining the feasibility of this rulemaking approach and is currently accepting public comments on the subject until January 6, 2016, as indicated in its notice. For further information, contact Kathleen Blank Riether of the DOT Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings at kathleen.blankriether@dot.gov or (202) 366-9342.

2015’s Most Caring Cities in America – WalletHub Study

With the holidays reminding of the importance of looking out for one another — either through charitable giving or other acts of kindness — the personal finance website WalletHub conducted an in-depth analysis of 2015’s Most Caring Cities in America.

In order to identify the most caring cities in America, WalletHub’s analysts compared the 100 most populated U.S. cities across 26 key metrics. Our data set ranges from the percentage of sheltered homeless persons to the percentage of income donated to charity to the number of rehabilitation centers per capita.

Most Caring Cities in America
1Boise, ID11St. Paul, MN
2Lincoln, NE12Reno, NV
3Madison, WI13Colorado Springs, CO
4Anchorage, AK14Gilbert, AZ
5Chesapeake, VA15Durham, NC
6Virginia Beach, VA16Lexington, KY
7Honolulu, HI17Louisville, KY 
8Pittsburgh, PA18Boston, MA
9Omaha, NE19Chandler, AZ
10Scottsdale, AZ20Fremont, CA

Comparing the Best & Worst
  • The percent of income donated to charity is highest in Memphis, Tenn., three times above that of Laredo, Texas, which has the lowest.
  • The number of volunteering hours per capita is highest in Virginia Beach, Va., three times above that of New Orleans, which has the lowest.
  • The percentage of residents who do favors for neighbors is highest in Milwaukee, four times above that of Phoenix, which has the lowest.
  • The percentage of sheltered homeless persons is highest in Boston, three times above that of San Jose, Calif., which has the lowest.
  • The child-poverty rate is highest in Detroit, eight times above that of Fremont, Calif., which has the lowest.
  • The per-capita number of people who work in community and social services is highest in Lincoln, Neb., four times more than in Detroit, which has the lowest.

For the full report and to see where your city ranks, please visit: 

# We would like to Thank WalletHub for sharing the survey information key findings with Ability Chicago Info.