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

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Police Brutality and Disability : National Call-In April 7th, 2016

We received the following information and was asked to share for a National Call organized by the National Disability Leadership Alliance. This is a possible opportunity for a cross section of the disability community nationwide in a important issue, and to start a real national dialog. 

On this call, we'll talk about how police brutality is impacting the disability community across the country. In reflection of the alarming statistics on police misconduct against people with disabilities, the speakers will discuss how different systems are setting people up to be in contact with the police and recommended solutions. The call will educate participants on alternatives other than giving police more power.

  • Candace Coleman, Access Living
  • Leroy F. Moore Jr., Krip-Hop Nation, POOR Magazine, author
FRIDAY, APRIL 7, 12-1 Central time
1 (712) 832-8310
Passcode: 125175#

RSVP - If you are interested in joining, please fill out this quick form! https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?fromEmail=true&formkey=dHAxWEV5Y3h3MUtrcW1LYXhTcjZyYUE6MQ

CART: The call will have real-time captioning (CART)! The website where you will be able to view the captioning is https://2020captioning.1capapp.com. Username: forum. Password: forum. Thank you to the National Disability Leadership Alliance for sponsoring the captioning of this call.

If any more information becomes available, we will update the post. If you do participate, please share with Ability Chicago Info (email) your feedback and opinion of the National Call on Police Brutality and Disability!

Illinois Politicians, and SEIU Health Care Union Call Bruce Rauner A 'Deadbeat' Governor

The continued State of Illinois Budget Impasse has accomplished lack of proper funding of schools, healthcare, transportation, etc - but Social Services and agencies that provide services are in a dire situation, many are reducing days open, laying off staff, and cutting services offered. Some have already closed completely, and many others are ready to.
Progress Illinois continues to report on Illinois politics statewide, we highly recommend to follow.
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State lawmakers and the union representing Illinois home care workers say Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner's "deadbeat approach to governing" has resulted in a "crisis in care" for the state's most vulnerable residents.
wonderful article by Ellyn Fortino for Progress Illinois | March 30, 2016
According to the union, Illinois has a more than $235 million backlog in payments to home health care service providers, and 2,400 seniors have allegedly "fallen through the cracks as a result."
"There are real human consequences of the governor being a deadbeat. These agencies are essentially being asked to bankroll the lack of a state budget," Terri Harkin, vice president of the Home Care Division at SEIU* Healthcare Illinois, said during a news conference at the Thompson Center.
"In adopting this approach," Harkin added, "we estimate that 2,400 seniors in Illinois have been affected. This could mean that they lost their services altogether, or just for a couple days. We don't know, because the Rauner administration has not accounted for any of the consequences of his disastrous budget. What we do know is that for seniors, and for people with disabilities, going even one day without home care services is both traumatizing and dangerous."
"No seniors have lost care due to Democrats failure to pass a balanced budget," the Rauner administration pointed out to Progress Illinois via email.
Rauner and Democratic leaders have yet to agree on a budget for the fiscal year that began July 1. At the center of the budget battle is Rauner's pro-business, anti-union policy agenda, which the governor wants tied to the budgeting process.
The long-running impasse means higher education institutions and a number of social services have not been funded. Payments have also been delayed for many service providers, including Addus HomeCare, Inc. The agency is one of the largest providers of in-home and adult day care services through the state's Community Care Program for low-income seniors.
The state owes Addus HomeCare over $50 million in service payments, according to SEIU Healthcare Illinois.
Addus HomeCare is weighing whether to take legal action against the state now that the Illinois Department of Aging has rejected its request for a caseload cap. Specifically, Addus HomeCare said it asked for a cap on its "caseload of clients funded on GRF," or the General Revenue Funds. 
In a statement, Addus HomeCare said it has not been paid for services provided to those clients during the current fiscal year.
"The company is evaluating its options with regard to this denial, including potential legal action," said Addus HomeCare's Chief Development Officer Darby Anderson.
For its part, the Rauner administration says Addus HomeCare requested a service cap on non-Medicaid clients, and the request "was denied because the department does not allow providers to cap services based on Medicaid eligibility."
State Reps. Sonya Harper (D-Chicago) and Emanuel "Chris" Welch (D-Hillside) joined union officials as well as Democratic legislative candidates Omar Aquino and Juliana Stratton at today's press conference. The representatives and candidates defeated opponents backed by Rauner-allied groups in their respective Democratic primary races earlier this month.
Aquino beat out Angelica Alfaro for the open 2nd Senate district seat, while Stratton won in a landslide against incumbent Ken Dunkin in the 5th House district. 
"A message was sent on March 15," Welch said. "Governor Rauner's agenda has failed miserably, and the voters rejected that failed agenda. I call on the governor to listen to that message. Listen to that message, and we need to pass a budget now."
The spring legislative session kicks off Monday in Springfield. 
Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly called on legislators to get behind the governor's proposed "structural reforms."
"No one is more frustrated than Governor Rauner by [the] failure of the majority party - which includes Rep. Welch and Rep. Harper - to pass a balanced budget," Kelly told Progress Illinois. "By working together, we can achieve bipartisan compromise like we did when restoring child care funding and protecting senior care. We urge lawmakers to help enact structural reforms and a balanced budget to ensure care continues to our most vulnerable while getting Illinois on sound financial footing."
Those at today's press conference also slammed Rauner for his 2017 budget proposal, which seeks to cut about $198 million from the Community Care Program. The cuts, according to the union's analysis, would come through Rauner's proposal to split the Community Care Program into two subsets, with one for those covered by Medicaid and another for non-Medicaid clients. 
The governor's proposal to create a new "Community Reinvestment Program" for non-Medicaid participants could negatively impact services for nearly 44,000 seniors, the union estimates. 
"Today we are calling on the governor to account for the seniors and people with disabilities he is putting in harm's way by his deadbeat approach to governing," Harper said. "Today we are calling on the governor to withdraw his $200 million in cuts to the Community Care Program. We are calling on him to stop using social service agencies as lending institutions for his political pleasures, and we are calling on him to get his priorities straight."
Aquino, a former Community Care Program case manger, said it would be "ridiculous" and "shortsighted" to cut or reduce home care services for 44,000 seniors.
"This is a program that actually, over time, saves our state money, because some of those seniors could potentially go into a nursing home facility, and the cost of that care is astronomical," he said. 
For its part, Rauner's office said the Community Reinvestment Program "will better personalize a senior's individual care." 
"All seniors enrolled in the CRP will receive the services they need based on their level of need, because every person's needs are different," according to Rauner's office. "The CRP is a very individualized approach that will keep seniors out of nursing homes and in their own homes and communities."
But union officials and their legislative allies do not buy the administration's argument.
"Instead of heeding to the voice of the people, Governor Rauner continues to justify his destabilizing cuts to the Community Care Program, which will put 44,000 seniors at risk," Harper said. 
*The SEIU Illinois Council sponsors the Progress Illinois website.

A Few Ideas That Can Make It Easier to Care for Loved Ones with Alzheimer's

Mayo Clinic neurologist is advising families of people with living with Alzheimer's disease to create a routine that makes days more predictable. Scheduling more challenging tasks at a time of day when their loved one is usually calmer can also help. Dr. Ronald Petersen also recommends limiting choices and distractions for Alzheimer's patients. These steps can help people with Alzheimer's maintain a sense of independence and dignity.

Limit their choices and distractions and always keep safety uppermost, expert advises.

Simple Steps Can Ease Care of Loved One With Alzheimer's
FRIDAY, March 25, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- As Alzheimer's disease progresses, patients find that simple tasks become difficult or impossible, but caregivers can help them maintain a sense of independence and dignity, a doctor says.

Create a routine that makes days more predictable and schedule the most challenging tasks -- such as bathing or medical appointments -- at a time of day when your loved one is typically most calm, advised Dr. Ronald Petersen, a Mayo Clinic neurologist.

Adapt to your loved one's needs. If he or she insists on wearing the same clothes every day, for instance, consider buying a few identical outfits. Limiting choices will make it easier for the person to decide. Instead of a closet full of clothes, offer a choice of two outfits and do away with belts or accessories that he or she is likely to put on incorrectly.

Expect things to take longer than they once did. This will help you avoid having to rush your loved one.

"Allow your loved one to do as much as possible with the least amount of assistance. For example, perhaps your loved one can dress alone if you lay out the clothes in the order they go on," Petersen said in a Mayo news release.

Turn off the TV and minimize distractions during meals and conversations so your loved one is better able to focus.

Consider safety. To reduce the risk of falls, remove scatter rugs, extension cords and clutter that could pose a tripping hazard. Install handrails or grab bars in appropriate locations.

"Install locks on cabinets that contain anything potentially dangerous, such as medicine, alcohol, guns, toxic cleaning substances, dangerous utensils and tools," Peterson said.

Lower the setting on the hot water heater to prevent burns and keep matches and lighters out of reach. If your loved one smokes, make sure he or she is supervised while doing so.

More information
The U.S. National Institute on Aging has more about Alzheimer's caregiving.
SOURCE: Mayo Clinic, news release, March 8, 2016

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Fake service animals epidemic is a growing problem for all

report by Sam Penrod for KSL.com News   | Posted Mar 29th, 2016

PROVO, UTAH — Have you seen more service dogs in stores and restaurants lately?

If so, there's a good chance some of those dogs are actually not legal service dogs.

“I have seen employees petting dogs, gushing over them in grocery stores,” said Leilani Garfield of Provo.

Garfield said she saw them again in a store just last week, prompting her to speak out yesterday to the Utah County Board of Health.

“I have a son who has fur allergies in addition to asthma, so when he has an allergic reaction, it can cause him to have an asthma attack and he has trouble breathing.”

The Garfield family said they have no problem with legitimate service animals and insist they don't have a pet peeve with animals — no pun intended. To them, it is a health and safety concern with dogs in stores and restaurants, under the guise of being service animals.

"A service animal is defined by a federal statute, the Americans with Disabilities Act,” said Aaron Kinikini, legal director at the Utah Disability Law Center.

At the Law Center, complaints have come in about people claiming their pet is a service animal when in fact it is not.

"You can order a vest online that says service animal, you can even order a fraudulent certificate that indicates your dog has been trained and there is no oversight, so people do abuse the system,” said Kinikini.

Some stores are putting notices on front doors, reminding customers that comfort animals are not legal in public places.

"The ADA specifically says an animal that provides solely emotional support is not a service animal,” Kinikini said.

The Law Center says people who have no legitimate right to a service animal harm those people who rely on a service animal.
"For every fraudulent service animal that is just a glorified pet in a vest that comes into a store or a restaurant and misbehaves, it makes it that much harder for a legitimate user of a service animal to have credibility when they bring their dog in,” said Kinikini.
The Utah County Board of Health has voted to send a reminder letter to restaurants in the county, reminding employees of the law with service animals — what is allowed and what is not and the two questions they can legally ask of someone who says they have a service dog.


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

Twitter Enables Alternative Text So Images Are 'Accessible to Everyone'

Twitter announced on March 29, 2016 it will enable users to add descriptions, also known as alternative text (alt text), when posting images. We have posted below the announcement from Twitter.
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Photos have been at the center of some of the biggest moments on Twitter. As a core part of the Twitter experience, it’s important that images shared on our platform are accessible to everyone, including those who are visually impaired.
Starting today, people using our iOS and Android apps can add descriptions — also known as alternative text (alt text) — to images in Tweets. With this update, we’re empowering everyone to ensure content shared on Twitter is accessible to the widest possible audience.
Enable this feature by using the compose image descriptions option in the Twitter app’s accessibility settings. The next time you add an image to a Tweet, each thumbnail in the composer will have an add description button. Tap it to add a description to the image. People who are visually impaired will have access to the description via their assistive technology (e.g., screen readers and braille displays). Descriptions can be up to 420 characters.
Two screen shots of the composer for Twitter for iOS. The first showing the new Add description button overlayed on a thumbnail in the composer. The second showing the composition of alt text for an image.
To ensure publishers and third-party clients also have the capability to add alt text to images, we’ve extended our platform products to both the REST API and Twitter Cards. We know this is especially important for specialized Twitter clients for the visually impaired such as EasyChirp,Chicken Nugget, and The Qube.
We’re excited to empower our customers and publishers to make images on Twitter accessible to the widest possible audience, so everyone can be included in the conversation and experience the biggest moments together.

Why Does Poverty and Disability in America Matter! article by Michael Morris

People with disabilities face many barriers to economic success — low expectations, discrimination and a complex public support system that often limit employment opportunities and upward mobility.

article by Michael Morris
Executive Director of National Disability Institute, working to improve the financial health of people with disabilities. 
published at HuffPost Accessibility | March 28, 2016

Poverty and disability are intricately related. It is troubling to note that 25 years after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), adults with disabilities are twice as likely to live in poverty as those without a disability. This broad statistic, though compelling, masks important differences in the poverty rate among demographic groups who face additional economic challenges — women, members of minority groups, people with lower levels of education and assorted age groups.

The disparity in the poverty rate between people with and without disabilities grows with age: among those 18-30 years old, the poverty rate is 21 percent for those without disabilities and 32 percent for those with disabilities; among those 30-45 years of age, 12 percent without disabilities live in poverty, as compared to 33 percent with disabilities. Among those 45-64 years old, nine percent without disabilities live in poverty, compared to 26 percent with disabilities.

When it comes to gender, women with disabilities are overwhelmingly more likely to live in poverty. This gender disparity, coupled with the disability disparity, results in a poverty rate of 31 percent for women, compared to 26 percent for men.

People of color, both with and without disabilities, are more likely to be living in poverty than the Non-Hispanic White population. This racial disparity, when coupled with disability, results in nearly 40 percent of African Americans with disabilities living in poverty. The largest disparity in poverty between those with and without disabilities is among Non-Hispanic Whites, at 25 and 10 percent, respectively.

Finally, the poverty rate is highly correlated with educational attainment for people with and without disabilities. That is, the poverty rate declines as educational level increases. However, the economic disparity between those with and without disabilities grows as education levels increase. For example, 58 percent of African American women, 36 percent of Latino men, 34 percent of young (18-30) Non-Hispanic white women and 36 percent of older (46-65) African American men, with less than a high school education, live in poverty.

Millions of American adults with disabilities are caught in this endless poverty cycle.

The more we analyze the numbers, the more we begin to understand that the most economically vulnerable population in our nation is nonwhite, female, lacks a high school education, is unemployed or underemployed and cuts across the spectrum of disability.

National Disability Institute is working tirelessly to build a better economic future for people with disabilities and their families. There is no single answer or simple solution. The safety net of public benefits of Social Security, Medicaid, housing and food assistance should not deny people the right to save and build assets. People with disabilities can and want to work, save and be a part of the economic mainstream.

Equal opportunity to a quality education, development of critical skills for jobs that present career pathways, and opening of ABLE tax-advantaged savings accounts with no loss of public benefits all create a roadmap to financial freedom and independence.

To learn more, visit www.realeconomicimpact.org.
Follow Michael Morris on Twitter: www.twitter.com/RealEconImpact
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We highly recommend following "Huffpost Accessibility" blog posts, many wonderful and inciteful articles from people in the disability community.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Patty Duke passed away March 29, 2016 was a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a mental health advocate and a cultural icon

Patty Duke, as a teen won an Oscar for The Miracle Worker and later played "identical cousins" in her own TV sitcom, has died. 

A representative released the news:
"Anna 'Patty Duke' Pearce passed away this morning March 29, 2016 at 1:20 am," his statement read. "Her cause of death was sepsis from a ruptured intestine. She was a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a friend, a mental health advocate and a cultural icon. She will be missed."

Sean Astin (son) posted on FaceBook a heartwarming tribute -- and announce that he's launching a mental health initiative in her honor.

I love you mom.
This morning, our beloved wife, mother, grandmother, matriarch and the exquisite artist, humanitarian, and champion for mental health, Anna PATTY DUKE Pearce, closed her eyes, quieted her pain and ascended to a beautiful place. We celebrate the infinite love and compassion she shared through her work and throughout her life.
Her work endures...
The Patty Duke Mental Health Project: https://www.crowdrise.com/patty-duke-mental-he…/…/seanastin1

2016 report shows Medicaid expansion can improve behavioral health care access

from a Press Release : March 28, 2016
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
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Nearly 2 million low-income uninsured people with a substance use disorder or a mental illness lived in states that had not yet expanded Medicaid in 2014
Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a report showing that states can greatly improve access to behavioral health services for residents by expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Substance use disorders and mental illness are prevalent and serious public health problems in American communities. According to today’s report, in 2014, the most recent year for which data is available, an estimated 1.9 million uninsured people with a mental illness or substance use disorder lived in states that have not yet expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act and had incomes that could qualify them for coverage. The report finds that people with behavioral health needs made up a substantial share of all low-income uninsured individuals in these states: nearly 30 percent. While some of these individuals had access to some source of health insurance in 2014, many will gain access to coverage only if their states expand Medicaid, and others would gain access to more affordable coverage.
"Today’s report shows that Medicaid expansion is an important step states can take to address behavioral health needs, including serious mental illness and opioid and other substance use disorders," said Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell.
To date, 30 states plus DC have expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. However, 20 states—including many of the states that would benefit most—have not yet seized this opportunity. Previous estimates have shown that if these states do not change course, over 4 million of their citizens will be deprived of health insurance coverage in 2016.
Today’s report highlights that, along with its other benefits, Medicaid expansion could dramatically improve access to treatment for people with mental and substance use disorders, thereby improving health outcomes. Research shows that low-income adults with serious mental illness are significantly more likely to receive treatment if they have access to Medicaid coverage, with benefits for their health. If all states expanded Medicaid, an estimated 371,000 fewer people each year would experience depression, and 540,000 more people would report being in good or excellent health.
States that choose to expand Medicaid may achieve significant improvement in their behavioral health programs without incurring new costs. State funds that currently directly support behavioral health care treatment for people who are uninsured but would gain coverage under expansion may become available for other behavioral health investments.  For example, several states that expanded Medicaid reported that they expected reductions in general funds needing to be allocated to the uninsured for treatment ranging from $7 million to $190 million in 2015. This creates opportunities to meet other pressing health, mental health and substance use disorder needs. States can also expect to have a more productive workforce, because expanding treatment will permit a reduction in adverse workforce outcomes stemming from mental and substance use disorders. Research shows that depressed employees incur significantly more disability days than do otherwise similar employees, and substance use disorder treatment was associated with $5,366 annually in employer savings from reduced absenteeism alone.
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, states have the opportunity to expand Medicaid coverage to individuals with family incomes at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level. Health care costs for people made newly eligible through the Medicaid expansion are paid for with 100 percent federal funds in 2016, and 95 percent in 2017, scaling down to 90 percent in calendar years 2020 and beyond. President Obama recently proposed an extra incentive for states that have not yet expanded their Medicaid programs, which would provide any state that takes up Medicaid expansion the same three years of full Federal support and gradual phase down that those states that expanded in 2014 received.

Despite Uptick in Jobs Growth in 2016, Numbers Dip for People with Disabilities

nTIDE Jobs Report: Despite Uptick in Jobs Growth, Numbers Dip for People with Disabilities

March 04, 2016
DURHAM, N.H. – March 4, 2016. As job growth continues for people without disabilities, the two major economic indicators declined for people with disabilities, according to today's National Trends in Disability Employment – Monthly Update (nTIDE), issued by Kessler Foundation and University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disability (UNH-IOD). Research is being conducted in various populations with disabilities to determine the specific factors that limit participation in the workplace. Results will guide the development of policies and programs that will expand employment opportunities.
In the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Jobs Report released Friday, March 4, the employment-to-population ratio for working-age people with disabilities decreased from 27.3 percent in February 2015 to 26.0 percent in February 2016 (down 4.8 percent; 1.3 percentage points). For working-age people without disabilities, the employment-to-population ratio increased from 71.4 percent in February 2015 to 72.3 percent in February 2016 (up 1.3 percent; 0.9 percentage points). The employment-to-population ratio, a key indicator, reflects the percentage of people who are working relative to the total population (the number of people working divided by the number of people in the total population multiplied by 100). 
“The decline in employment had been slowing the past few months, with almost no change last month; however, February saw the decline return to its previous pace.  This is disheartening news after the good news we saw in 2015,” said Andrew Houtenville, Ph.D., associate professor of economics at UNH.
The labor force participation rate of people with disabilities decreased from 31.1 percent in February 2015 to 30.2 percent in February 2016 (down 2.9 percent; 0.9 percentage points). For people without disabilities, the labor force participation rate increased from 75.7 percent in February 2015 to 76.1 percent in February 2016 (up 0.5 percent; 0.4 percentage points). The labor force participation rate is the percentage of the population that is working or actively looking for work.
“In the long term, we hope to be able to explain what is driving the monthly employment trend for people with disabilities.  The official data on the employment of people with disabilities only dates back to September 2009, after the start of the Great Recession.  This may seem like a long time, but it is still not quite long enough be able to distinguish differential macroeconomic effects between people with and without disabilities,” according to John O’Neill, Ph.D., director of employment and disability research at Kessler Foundation. “We are working on a process to seasonally adjust these statistics, which will help us see how employment is responding month-to-month, rather than comparing to the same month last year.”   
Two disabling neurological conditions share March Awareness Month – multiple sclerosis (MS) and traumatic brain injury (TBI).  These conditions share other things as well, including causing an array of cognitive, emotional and physical disabilities, and presenting barriers to finding and maintaining employment. Because employment is fundamental to productive and independent living, research is underway at Kessler Foundation to address the spectrum of challenges faced by individuals living with MS and TBI.
“MS strikes people in their prime,” said Dr. O’Neill, “and many leave the workplace prematurely, a decision that can be detrimental to quality of life. Our researchers are looking at what factors into this decision, toward the goal of developing a predictive model of employment for the MS population.  Health care providers using this tool would be better able to help people retain their jobs.”     
Researchers are also looking at the factors affecting employment after TBI. “Studies show that employment status at one year post-injury is a key determinant of life satisfaction,” Dr. O’Neill noted, “but this diverse population faces substantial challenges. How to help to overcome those challenges is being investigated. Some important factors have been identified by researchers, including pre-injury employment and education, the cause of brain injury, whether amnesia occurred and for how long, the length of time spent in acute care and in rehabilitation, and vocational scores at discharge from rehabilitation.”
In February 2016, among workers ages 16-64, the 3,975,000 workers with disabilities represented 2.8 percent of the total 141,290,000 workers in the U.S.
The next nTIDE will be issued on Friday, April 1, 2016—no fooling.
Learn more about this National Trends in Disability Employment (nTIDE) Jobs Report and future releases by joining a new Lunch & Learn series, starting today March 4 at 12:00PM EST. This live broadcast hosted via Zoom Webinar will offer attendees Q&A on the latest nTIDE findings, provide news and updates from the field of Disability Employment, as well as host invited panelists to discuss current disability related findings and events. Join live, or watch the recordings at www.ResearchonDisability.org/nTIDE.
NOTE:  The statistics in the National Trends in Disability Employment – Update are based on Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers, but are NOT identical.  They have been customized by the University of New Hampshire to efficiently combine the statistics for men and women of working age (16 to 64).
nTIDE is funded, in part, by grants from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) (H133B130015 & H133B120005) and Kessler Foundation.
The Institute on Disability (IOD) at the University of New Hampshire was established in 1987 to provide a university-based focus for the improvement of knowledge, policies, and practices related to the lives of persons with disabilities and their families. Its mission is to promote full access, equal opportunities, and participation for all persons by strengthening communities and advancing policy and systems change, promising practices, education, and research.

The University of New Hampshire, founded in 1866, is a world-class public research university with the feel of a New England liberal arts college. A land, sea, and space-grant university, UNH is the state's flagship public institution, enrolling 12,200 undergraduate and 2,300 graduate students.

New in 2016 A Tool Helps Employers Ensure Accessibility of Online Job Applications

From a Press Release : 03/23/2016
U.S. Department of Labor

Deputy Secretary Chris Lu unveils ‘TalentWorks’ in San Diego
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy today announced the launch of “TalentWorks” – a free online tool that helps employers and human resources professionals ensure accessibility in their web-based job applications and other recruiting technologies for job seekers with disabilities.
Created by ODEP’s Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology, TalentWorks provides general background on accessibility and e-Recruiting, as well as practical tip sheets for making online job applications, digital interviews, pre-employment tests and resume upload programs accessible. PEAT created the tool after its national survey of people with disabilities found 46 percent of respondents rated their last experience applying for a job online as “difficult to impossible.”   
“Inaccessible technology prevents people with disabilities from applying and interviewing for jobs, and limits the talent pool for employers,” said Deputy Secretary of Labor Chris Lu. “The U.S. Department of Labor is committed to helping employers improve their recruitment and hiring processes. With resources like TalentWorks, employers can build a diverse, more inclusive workforce by ensuring their organization’s virtual door is open to everyone.”
Lu formally unveiled the new tool during his keynote address on March 22, 2016, in San Diego at the 2016 International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference hosted by California State University, Northridge. 
TalentWorks synthesizes ideas and solutions that PEAT has gathered from employers, advocacy organizations, job applicants and technology providers. It is the latest enhancement to a suite of tools and resources PEAT offers to improve the employment, retention, and career advancement of people with disabilities through the promotion of accessible technology.
PEAT is managed through an ODEP-funded grant to the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America. For more information, visit PEATworks.org.

Release Number: 16-590-NAT

ODEP News Release: 

10 New Major Community Development and Civil Rights Conferences in 2016 for People with Disabilities

The World Institute on Disability (based in Oakland, CA) and JP Morgan Chase have kicked off an initiative to provide disability access at ten major community development and civil rights conferences. 

The conferences are critical venues to further the discussion on disability and its intersection with other types of protected class identities.  The conferences are a example, and offer hope for more of the same across the social justice and nonprofit sector. Below is the Press Release of March 2016.
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                      JPMorgan Chase Kicks Off New Conference Accessibility Initiative
Increases access to 10 major community development and civil rights conferences for people with disabilities

 March 23, 2016 (Washington, D.C.) – JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM), in collaboration with the World Institute on Disability (WID), today launches its Conference Accessibility Initiative. Through this initiative, 10 of the largest community development and civil rights conferences in the United States, including the NAACP, National Fair Housing Alliance, National Housing Conference, National Urban League and the Corporation for Economic Development, will for the first time, be fully inclusive of people with disabilities and enable them to both attend and fully participate in conference sessions.
“People with disabilities experience economic hardship at rates that exceed the national average. At JPMorgan Chase, we believe that the private sector has both a responsibility and role to play in helping address economic and social challenges. Through the Conference Accessibility Initiative, JPMorgan Chase is excited to create more inclusive advocacy and community development conversations and expand the way people think about diversity and inclusion.”
Naomi Camper, Head of the Office of Nonprofit Engagement, JPMorgan Chase
Highlights of the Conference Accessibility Initiative include:
  • Concierge services for conference participants with disabilities
  • Scholarships provided for people with disabilities, including travel and registration costs
  • Encouragement of organizations to have panel discussions on disability-related topics
“We are so excited to be part of this Conference Accessibility Initiative. There are civil rights and community development organizations doing some amazing work to help to create opportunity for low and moderate income communities. And we know—we absolutely know—that when we're talking about these communities, we are talking about people with disabilities. Thanks to the partnership with JPMorgan Chase, people with disabilities will be able to attend these conferences. We will be at the table and part of the conversation!”
Tom Foley, Deputy Director, WID
Large civil rights and community development conferences help to set the economic opportunity agenda. The conferences that JPMorgan Chase has selected attract key decision makers from the nonprofit, business and public sector communities. The Conference Accessibility Initiative aims to fully integrate disability access issues into the content and enable people with disabilities to fully participate in these critical national discussions of economic opportunity and inclusion.
For more information about the JPMorgan Chase Conference Accessibility Initiative, visit www.worldinstituteondisability.org/consulting/conference-accessibility/ .
About World Institute on Disability
The World Institute on Disability (WID) is a policy, research and consulting organization committed to the elimination of barriers to full social integration and the development of employment, economic security and health care for persons with disabilities. WID creates innovative programs and tools; conducts research, training, public education and advocacy campaigns; and provides consulting services.
About JPMorgan Chase & Co.
JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) is a leading global financial services firm with assets of $2.4 trillion and operations worldwide. The firm is a leader in investment banking, financial services for consumers and small businesses, commercial banking, financial transaction processing and asset management. A component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, JPMorgan Chase & Co. serves millions of consumers in the United States and many of the world’s most prominent corporate, institutional and government clients under its JPMorgan and Chase brands. Information about JPMorgan Chase & Co. is available at www.JPMorganChase.com.


Monday, March 28, 2016

Robert De Niro Pulls Anti-Vaccine Autism Documentary From the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival

Robert De Niro has reversed course on his decision to show a controversial anti-vaccination documentary at Tribeca Film Festival – after revealing one of his children with wife Grace Hightower has autism. 

Robert De Niro and wife Grace Hightower
nice article by MARIA MERCEDES LARA for PEOPLE magazine | March 27, 2018 (update 3/28)

De Niro pulled Vaxxed from this year's festival lineup after pushing to screen the film.

"My intent in screening this film was to provide an opportunity for conversation around an issue that is deeply personal to me and my family," De Niro said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. "But after reviewing it over the past few days with the Tribeca Film Festival team and others from the scientific community, we do not believe it contributes to or furthers the discussion I had hoped for.

"The Festival doesn't seek to avoid or shy away from controversy," he continued. "However, we have concerns with certain things in this film that we feel prevent us from presenting it in the Festival program. We have decided to remove it from our schedule."

The film has faced harsh criticism for its anti-vaccination message. It was directed by Andrew Wakefield, a former gastroenterologist and medical researcher who authored a 1998 research paper that claimed that the MMR vaccine is linked to autism. The study has since been discredited and, in 2010, was formally retracted by the journal that published it. Still, the discredited paper helped spark the current wave of the anti-vaccination movement, which has a number of famous supporters, including Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Donald Trump.
Before pulling the film, De Niro had defended the Tribeca Film Festival's decision to premiere the project, saying that he wanted to "openly discuss" the causes of autism.

"Grace and I have a child with autism and we believe it is critical that all of the issues surrounding the causes of autism be openly discussed and examined," De Niro, 72, said, referring to his wife and their 18-year-old son Elliot. "In the 15 years since the Tribeca Film Festival was founded, I have never asked for a film to be screened or gotten involved in the programming."

"However, this is very personal to me and my family and I want there to be a discussion, which is why we will be screening Vaxxed. I am not personally endorsing the film, nor am I anti-vaccination; I am only providing the opportunity for a conversation around the issue."

De Niro and Hightower have two children together, son Elliott, 18, and daughter Helen Grace, who was born in 2011 via surrogate.

De Niro has kept his family life mostly out of the spotlight, but broke down in tears during a 2013 interview with Katie Couric while explaining how he related to playing a father whose son suffers from OCD.

"If you're a father, you certainly understand what it's like to go through the worry about your kids, especially if they've got issues like Bradley's character has," De Niro shared at the time. "Sometimes it can be overwhelming. It can be nightmarish and upsetting. There's nothing much you can do but deal with it."


Six Flags Great America Agrees To Add Relief Areas for Guests with Disabilities Who Use Service Animals

Six Flags Great America has agreed for two relief areas to its park for guests with disabilities who use service animals.  Equip for Equality worked collaboratively with Six Flags on this initiative.  Rachel Arfa was the lead person for Equip fro Equality on this matter. Below is the press release issued March 28, 2016.
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Gurnee, IL — March 28, 2016 — With the goal of making the park more welcoming and accessible to guests who use service animals, Six Flags Great America has added two animal relief areas inside the park. The areas are located near the front gate and near Triple Play in Hometown Square. The company worked with Equip for Equality on the initiative.
“We welcome all guests, including those with disabilities, and want them to have a great experience at our park,” said Hank Salemi, park president. “Adding the animal relief areas has made it easier for guests with service animals to enjoy all our park has to offer.”
“We applaud Six Flags Great America for taking this important step of being welcoming to all of its guests and we hope other similar types of businesses will follow the example set by the park,” said Barry C. Taylor, Vice President of Civil Rights and Systemic Litigation at Equip for Equality. “Park guests now have convenient places to relieve their service animals instead of having to navigate outside the park and disrupt their experience.”
About Six Flags Great America Six Flags Great America, America’s greatest thrill park, is located between Chicago and Milwaukee and offers endless adventures for the entire family with 14 heart-pounding roller coasters, a 20-acre water park, spectacular shows, and four children’s themed areas with over 30 rides.
About Equip for Equality 
Equip for Equality is a private, not-for-profit entity designated in 1985 by the Governor to administer the federally mandated Protection and Advocacy system for safeguarding the rights of people with physical and mental disabilities in Illinois. EFE is dedicated to expanding opportunities for people with disabilities to live full and independent lives by providing self-advocacy assistance, legal services, disability rights education, public policy advocacy and abuse investigations.
Six Flags

The Future of Social Services in Illinois – City Club of Chicago discussion with Marca Bristo, Wendy DuBoe, and Ric Estrada

The City Club of Chicago provides a venue for members and non-members to hear politicians, business leaders, and community leaders discuss a wide variety of public policy issues. Several events are scheduled each month, with the exception of the summer months when City Club activities are on hiatus.

The Monday March 28, 2016 luncheon focused on the Future of Social Services in Illinois with Marca Brisco, Wendy DuBoe, and Ricardo (Ric) Estrada as the guest speakers. Below is a link to listen to the full presentation of 1 hour, very interesting insight into social services crisis in Illinois, and yet the State of Illinois Legislators still has not passed a budget for 2015, and we are going into the 2016 Budget. 

YouTube published by City Club of Chicago on March 29, 2016

Marca Bristo is a nationally and internationally distinguished leader in the disability rights movement. As president and chief executive officer of Access Living of Metropolitan Chicago, Bristo is the leader of one of the nation’s foremost disability rights organizations. For over 30 years, she has directed Access Living, one of the first centers for independent living in the United States.

As the former president of the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL), Bristo worked with the broader civil rights community on the Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1987, the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

Bristo has received numerous awards and recognitions, including the Distinguished Service Award of the President of the United States; the Americans with Disabilities Act Award for her role in the creation and passage of the law; and the Henry B. Betts Laureate. Bristo also was named by the Chicago Sun-Times as one of Chicago’s “100 Most Powerful Women” and by Crain’s Chicago Business as one of Chicago’s “100 Most Influential Women.” In 2007, Chicago Magazine named her one of the seven “Outstanding Chicagoans” of the year.

Bristo holds two degrees: a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Beloit College, and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Rush College of Nursing. She lives in Chicago with her husband Bob Kettlewell, and has two children, Sam and Madeline.

Wendy DuBoe
serves as the President and Chief Executive Officer of United Way of Metropolitan Chicago (UWMC), the largest private funder of health and human services in the greater Chicago region.

Since joining United Way of Metropolitan Chicago in 2003, DuBoe has held positions of Chief Strategy & Integration Officer, Chief Community Investment Officer and Chief Operating Officer prior to her current position as President and CEO. She has lead the regional merger of 54 local offices into one metropolitan system, unifying staff and volunteers, integrating investments and operations and reducing operating costs by 20% across the territory. DuBoe has been instrumental in transforming United Way’s community investment approach from broad human service funding to more strategic and focused investment.

DuBoe was a member of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s 2011 Transition Team and currently serves as a commissioner of the Governor’s Human Services Commission. She chairs the Board of FEMA’s Emergency Food and Shelter Program for Chicago and Cook County. She is a member of the Executive Council of Thrive, a member of the Mayor’s Commission on Public Safety and a member of the International MENSA Society.

DuBoe graduated cum laude with a BA in Economics and Psychology from the University of Michigan, earned her MA in International Economics and International Relations from Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies and received a degree in Economics from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Ricardo (Ric) Estrada was named President and CEO of Metropolitan Family Services (MFS), one of Chicago’s first and largest human services agencies, in March 2011.

During his tenure at MFS, Estrada has led the expansion of the agency’s reach by 25,000 (currently totaling 68,000), and overseen the growth of the agency’s budget from $32 million to $50 million. Estrada spearheaded efforts to secure funding to establish an early childhood facility on Chicago’s Southwest Side. In 2015, he also led the launch of the Campaign to Mpower Families, a $25 million initiative to reach more families and strengthen Metropolitan’s communities with better services and an even stronger organization.

Estrada has more than two decades of leadership experience in human services, philanthropy and government. His record of civic and community involvement includes appointment to the Chicago Early Learning Executive Council; the University of Illinois Board of Trustees; Board of Directors of Leadership Greater Chicago; and Board member of the Woods Fund of Chicago.

Estrada’s educational background is grounded in social services and business, including an MBA from the University of Illinois at Chicago, an M.A. in Policy and Administration from the University of Chicago, and a B.S. in Psychology from Loyola University of Chicago.