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

Monday, July 24, 2017

Houston Physician Ronald F. Kahn Convicted of Conspiracy in $1.5 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme

July 19, 2017 - A federal jury convicted a Houston physician today for his role in a scheme involving approximately $1.5 million in fraudulent Medicare claims for home health care services and various medical testing and services.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting U.S. Attorney Abe Martinez of the Southern District of Texas, Special Agent in Charge Perrye K. Turner of the FBI’s Houston Field Office, Special Agent in Charge C.J. Porter of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services-Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Dallas Region and the Texas Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU) made the announcement.

After a four-day trial, Ronald F. Kahn, M.D., 62, of Harris County, Texas, was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and one count of conspiracy to pay and receive illegal kickbacks. Sentencing has been scheduled for September 25, before U.S. District Judge Kenneth M. Hoyt, who presided over the trial.

According to evidence presented at trial, from approximately 2006 until 2013, Kahn and others engaged in a scheme to defraud Medicare out of approximately $1.5 million in fraudulent claims for home heath care services in connection with Allied Covenant Home Health, Inc., a Houston home healthcare agency (Allied). Kahn fraudulently admitted patients for home health care with Allied when they did not qualify for such services, the evidence showed. To make it appear that these patients did qualify, Kahn falsified medical records and signed false documents purporting to show that patients admitted to Allied’s home health program satisfied Medicare’s requirements for admission, the evidence showed.

The evidence also showed that Kahn paid illegal kickbacks for patients from Harris Health Care Group, a Houston medical clinic (Harris). Kahn paid illegal kickbacks to the owner of Harris in order to bill Medicare for facet injections that were medically unnecessary, not provided or both, the evidence showed.

The case was investigated by the FBI, HHS-OIG and Texas MFCU, and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under the supervision of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Chief Ashlee McFarlane and Trial Attorney Scott Armstrong of the Fraud Section.

The Fraud Section leads the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, which is part of a joint initiative between the Department of Justice and HHS to focus their efforts to prevent and deter fraud and enforce current anti-fraud laws around the country. The Medicare Fraud Strike Force operates in nine locations nationwide. Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force has charged over 3,500 defendants who collectively have falsely billed the Medicare program for over $12.5 billion.
source: Dept. of Justice press release

The Hershey Company Sued For Disability Discrimination of Employee by Federal Agency

Company Refused to Adjust Work Breaks for Three-Year Employee With Back Impairment, Federal Agency Charges
July 19, 2017 - Global candy manufacturer The Hershey Company violated federal law when it refused to accommodate an employee with a disability and chose instead to fire her, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleged in a lawsuit filed today.

According to EEOC's suit, Hershey was aware of Kristina Williams's herniated discs and her lifting restrictions at the time of her hire in 2011 as a part-time retail sales merchandiser. Williams was diagnosed with spinal stenosis and took a short medical leave of absence in early 2015. The EEOC's investigation found that when Williams requested flexibility to divide her daily break into smaller portions to help her stay within her lifting restrictions, Hershey refused to allow her to return to work, effectively suspending her for three months. Finally, in a letter dated Aug. 19, 2015, Hershey denied her request for accommodation and instead fired her.

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employers must provide reasonable accommodations to qualified employees who have a disability. After first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process, the EEOC filed its lawsuit (EEOC v. The Hershey Company, Civil Number 2:17-CV-01092) in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. The agency seeks monetary damages on behalf of Williams, training on anti-discrimination laws, posting of notices at the worksite, and other injunctive relief.

"Employers cannot ignore a request for a reasonable accommodation from an employee with a disability," said Nancy Sienko, director of the EEOC's Seattle Field Office. "The law requires an employer to explore possible solutions to ensure that a worker can perform the essential functions of her job."

EEOC Supervisory Trial Attorney John Stanley said, "Employers cannot unilaterally decide to respond to an injury by refusing to allow an employer to return to work. According to the ADA, the exploration of possible accommodations must include the input of the employee."

According to company information, The Hershey Company is based in Hershey, Pa., employs over 20,000 people in 37 different states and had over $7.38 million in net sales in 2015, the year in which Williams last worked in the company's Seattle District.

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.
source: EEOC press release

Court Ruling Could Expand Special Education Services To More Iowa Students

Iowa - A legal judgment could force Iowa schools to change how they determine which students qualify for special education, potentially allowing thousands of more children to qualify for services, advocates say.

article Mackenzie Ryan for The Des Moines Register | July 21, 2017                                            
Administrative Law Judge Christie J. Scase issued a ruling that requires the Iowa Department of Education to reimburse an Urbandale family for private tutoring costs incurred after their child was denied access to special education programming at school.

The case could have broad implications for Iowa schools.

In her ruling, Scase wrote that the Department of Education should revisit its policies and procedures for determining who qualifies for special education. The state should not use criteria that essentially require a student to be severely behind his or her peers before a disability is recognized, she wrote in the 70-page document.

Potentially, several thousand Iowa students with learning disabilities could qualify for special education services if the department's approach to determining eligibility changes, said Randy Califf, vice president of Decoding Dyslexia Iowa, a parent advocacy group.

"We are hopeful (that any) new rules and procedures will allow for inclusion of children before they fall off the charts, so to speak," he said. "Ideally, processes would take into consideration a student’s capacity to learn as a factor."

The state education department is appealing the case in U.S. District Court and seeking a declaration that its current rules are compliant with federal law.

"Our approach to special education in Iowa has been to not solely focus on labels or diagnoses, but rather on what kids need to succeed in school," said department spokeswoman Staci Hupp.

One family's struggle
The Urbandale family, which is unnamed in court documents, filed a due process complaint against the Iowa Department of Education, the Urbandale school district and Heartland Area Education Agency under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

The student, identified only as A.W., enrolled in Urbandale schools in fourth grade after her parents, who previously home-schooled her, grew concerned that she might need special education. A.W. will enter eighth grade in the fall.

The family fought for years to have A.W. qualify for special education services, having her tested multiple times, including an independent evaluation in 2014 that found she may have dyslexia.

But A.W. never qualified for special education, and she did not receive an individualized learning plan, or IEP, despite a University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics evaluation that "strongly recommend(ed) that an IEP be put in place," according to Scase's March ruling.

IEPs are legal documents under federal disability law that spell out how a special education student will be accommodated, including measurable learning goals. It's created by a team of educators and experts and includes input from the student's parents. It must be reviewed and updated each year.

The judge ordered the department of education to reimburse the family the more than $1,000 spent on private tutoring over a two-year period, as well as legal fees.

The state is seeking a reversal of this award in district court, saying it is "not liable for the errors made by the district and AEA." Its appeal references the judge's finding that the school "district and the AEA violated (federal law) by determining that A.W. was not a child with a disability."

Leaders from Urbandale schools and Heartland AEA issued a joint statement saying they "have chosen not to appeal the decision of the administrative law judge."

"We believe an expeditious resolution would be beneficial for all parties and will continue to advocate our position," the statement said. 

Qualifying for special education
It's difficult for Iowa students who are not severely behind their peers — such as in the 10th or 12th percentile academically — to qualify for special education under Iowa's current education procedures, the family's attorney, Curt Sytsma, told the Register.

"Effectively, they've required and set a standard so low that many kids with disabilities would not qualify," he said.

While A.W. was never placed on an IEP, school staff did respond to her academic struggles by providing more intensive instruction, including a summer when a principal tutored her each week, according to court documents.

At one point A.W.'s more intensive school supports were cut back without her parents being notified, which would not have occurred if a disability were recognized and A.W. had an IEP, which affords families certain legal rights.

A.W. received academic services as part of a "multi-tiered system of supports" approach, in which schools identify students who need extra help. In 2013, the state education department rolled out the approach statewide; it encompasses both general and special education students, Hupp said.

To determine whether a student qualifies for special education, Hupp said that Iowa schools consider multiple factors, including how the student responds to education and how his or her performance compares to what is expected in the student's age group or grade.

"This information is considered with other unique characteristics of the individual student to determine whether or not the student has a disability and requires special education services," she said.

Califf said students with learning disabilities "are often doing well enough to not qualify for special education." Yet their learning struggles, without the proper recognition and educational approaches, can "result (in a) disastrous school experience."

His advocacy group, Decoding Dyslexia Iowa, has worked to have dyslexia added into Iowa’s educational laws and rules.

Each year, the Iowa Department of Education releases its Condition of Education report. Here are 7 facts about Iowa schools from its 2016 report. Des Moines Register

Chicago Public Schools Making ‘Major Changes’ to Special Ed Funding in 2017

Chicago - After teachers and principals spent the past year criticizing the way Chicago Public Schools handled special education funding, the school district now says it’s planning major changes in the new fiscal year.

article by Matt Masterson for WTTW Chicago Tonight | July 20, 2017                                         
Despite a projected decline of around 8,000 students this fall, CPS announced Thursday special education funding levels will remain flat in the coming school year and that those dollars will no longer be commingled with general education funds. CEO Forrest Claypool said the district will also eliminate an appeals process for frozen special education funding and plans to increase teaching and paraprofessional staffing inside its highest-need classrooms.

“We’ve spent the last year working to make sure that our special education instruction does a better job (to help) diverse learners improve academically,” he told media during a conference call Thursday morning. “We’re focusing on better training, focusing on accountability in the classroom to ensure that our diverse learners can participate in the same sort of gains we’ve seen from general education students.”

The district for the first time last school year opted to commingle special and general education funding dollars into a single pot.

District officials promised every individualized education program (IEP) would still be fully funded and said special education classes would have to be scheduled first before general education classes. But teachers and parents said this limited transparency, making funding more difficult to track, and felt it put the two programs at odds with each other in what some described as a “Hunger Games”-esque struggle for adequate resources.

Ninety-five percent of respondents in a Chicago Principals and Administrators Association survey taken earlier this year preferred separate budgets, and 88 percent said the commingling limited their flexibility when it came to resource decisions.

This school year, CPS will once again split those allocations and fund IEPs based on a school-by-school analysis.

“(The funds) are clearly separated out so each school can see exactly the dollars they have available,” Claypool said. “Those are translated into positions and we’ve also made the requirement that any of those funds that are designated for special ed can only be used for special ed.”

Special education funding remained flat entering last school year as well, but last fall CPS withheld 4 percent of that amount from schools, making those dollars available only through an appeals process to schools in need of additional services.

The district now says it’s doing away with that holdback this year, and will instead distribute those funds directly to schools up front. CPS also plans to fund 34 new teaching and 68 new paraprofessional positions for its cluster classrooms – specialized programs for students with more severe disabilities.
The district is shooting for a ratio of one teacher and three paraprofessionals for every 13 students with severe disabilities, and one teacher and two paraprofessionals for every 13 students with mild disabilities. That represents an increase of one paraprofessional per class over last year's average.
Hanson Park Elementary Principal David Belanger sees that as a positive change. His school includes eight cluster classrooms for about 90 students, and while those have been fully staffed at Hanson, Belanger is happy to see district administration taking a more active role in properly staffing those classes throughout the city.

“It’s a greater level than we’ve seen previously,” he said. “We were using more of our general ed moneys to pay for those positions previously, but now downtown is realizing it's their commitment and they need to support those classrooms.”

That 13-to-1 student/teacher ratio is the baseline set by the Illinois State Board of Education, but CPS plans to examine individual schools to find classrooms in need of additional staffing.

The announcement came as CPS released individual school budgets to principals on Thursday for the upcoming school year. Principals and local school councils now have until next Wednesday to approve and return those to the district.

For more from Chicago's Public Television WTTW, visit: http://www.wttw.com/

Ed Roberts an advocate for inclusion and equality for people with disabilities: "Free Wheeling" video (cc)

Ed Roberts was both an advocate and an activist. He was a leader in the disability civil rights movement and championed the rights of people with disabilities. He was the founder of the first Center for Independent Living and the World Institute on Disability. Ed advocated for his right to attend a university and was a activist in the 504 sit-in held in San Francisco. He was known for a lot of things by a lot of people, but most importantly he believed in empowering others to become advocates and activists.

The video is very informative, and helps to understand Ed Roberts philosophy.

YouTube Uploaded by yodisabledproud on Jan 20, 2012

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Social Security Inspector General Warns Public About SSA 'Employee' Phone Scam

July 23, 2017 - The Acting Inspector General of Social Security, Gale Stallworth Stone, is warning citizens about a new Social Security Administration (SSA) employee impersonation scheme. SSA and its Office of the Inspector General (OIG) have recently alerted citizens about an OIG employee impersonation scheme and a scheme targeting former clients of Kentucky disability attorney Eric Conn; the agencies are now receiving reports from citizens across the country about other phone calls from an individual posing as an SSA employee. The caller attempts to acquire personally identifiable information from victims to then edit the victims’ direct deposit, address, and telephone information with SSA.

The reports indicate that the impersonator calls from a telephone number with a 323 area code. The caller claims to be an SSA employee, and in some instances, tells the victim that they are due a 1.7 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) increase of their Social Security benefits. The impersonator goes on to ask the victim to verify all of their personal information including their name, date of birth, Social Security number (SSN), parents’ names, etc. to receive the increase. If the impersonator is successful in acquiring this information, they use it to contact SSA and request changes to the victim’s direct deposit, address, and telephone information.

SSA employees occasionally contact citizens by telephone for customer-service purposes. In only a few limited special situations, usually already known to the citizen, an SSA employee may request the citizen confirm personal information over the phone. If a person receives a suspicious call from someone alleging to be from SSA, citizens may report that information to the OIG at 1-800-269-0271 or online via https://oig.ssa.gov/report.
Acting Inspector General Stone continues to warn citizens to be cautious, and to avoid providing information such as your SSN or bank account numbers to unknown persons over the phone or internet unless you are certain of who is receiving it. “You must be very confident that the source is the correct business party, and your information will be secure after you release it,” Stone said.
If a person has questions about any communication—email, letter, text or phone call—that claims to be from SSA or the OIG, please contact your local Social Security office, or call Social Security’s toll-free customer service number at 1-800-772-1213, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, to verify its legitimacy. (Those who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can call Social Security’s TTY number at 1-800-325-0778.)
source: Social Security Administration press release

THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT - a Documentary about a renegade Jerry's Kid - and Jerry Lewis "MDA Telethon"

TRAILER - YouTube Uploaded by myartwork1 on Sep 15, 2008

THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT is a half-hour documentary about a renegade Jerry's Kid named Mike Ervin. Mike was a Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) poster child in the 1960s. Today he is a disability rights activist who challenges the MDA's use of pity to raise money in its annual Jerry Lewis Labor Day telethon. THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT follows Mike as he organizes Jerry's Orphans, a group that protests against the telethon each year. 

The film offers a critique of the "pity approach" to fundraising by contrasting the telethon's outdated attitudes (personified by Jerry Lewis) with a view into the real life of a disability civil rights activist today.

For the Full Half Hour Documentary, and more go to 

# # #

"Adopt a Smart Ass Cripple" by Mike Ervin : Labor Day (MDA Telethon) 2011


A Test of Wills: Jerry Lewis, Jerry's Orphans, and the Telethon : article from "The Disability Rag" from 1992

"Jerry's Orphans" ; MDA Telethon : Jerry Lewis speaks about the disabled (video)
Mike Ervin publishes and writes the Smart Ass Cripple blog at:

# originally posted Sept. 2011


Wade Blank, a Presbyterian minister from Ohio, first found his passion for civil rights when he marched with Martin Luther King, Jr., in Selma, Alabama. But it wasn’t until 1971 when he began working as the Recreational Director of the youth wing for Heritage House, a nursing home for people with physical and mental disabilities, that he found his calling as an advocate for disability rights. Wade devoted his time and effort to improving the quality of life for the Heritage House youth and was resolute about liberating them from the less-than-ideal conditions of the nursing home. Heritage House refused to accept Blank’s insistence on helping the nursing home patients live independent lives, and he was fired for his progressive agenda. He refused to give up what he had started, so Blank founded Atlantis Community, Inc. in 1975 – an organization dedicated to providing free, individualized care to those in need including housing, meals, in-home care, and job training. Blank inspired a national movement for the differently-abled by advocating for equal opportunity rights ranging from humane, independent care to wheelchair-accessible public transit. In order for these people to live independently, they needed transportation, and so ADAPT was born.   

ADAPT members march in Los Angeles to protest the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) in October of 1985.

The overarching mission of the Atlantis Community was, and still is, to provide as many of life’s necessities—the necessities often taken for granted by those who do not live life with a physical or mental disability—as possible. Blank and those who resided at Atlantis decided to form an activist group to garner as much attention as possible for disability rights – ADAPT (American Disabled for Attendant Programs Today; once known as the American Disabled for Accessible Public Transit). The members of this militant-style activist group first focused their efforts on the Regional Transportation District (RTD), the origin of the initial rallies, which drew major attention to the cause. ADAPT members traveled across the nation protesting the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) and various bus companies, like Greyhound, to get wheelchair lifts installed on buses. Many ADAPT members were arrested during these protests, calling further attention to the lack of preparedness of local police departments’ inaccessible squad cars and facilities. Police officers erected makeshift barriers to detain the ADAPT members in wheelchairs because they had no other way of arresting and transporting the protestors. The second major wave of ADAPT protests targeted Social Security, health care policies, and Medicaid. Their ultimate goal was to obtain government support for attendant care and independent living funds. Eventually, ADAPT began protesting restaurants, schools, parking lots, post offices, housing communities, casinos, churches, and more. Wherever wheelchairs could not go, ADAPT was there to take action and demand access. 

ADAPT members block a bus with their wheelchairs to demonstrate RTD's inaccessible buses on February 15, 1985.

It took Blank and members of ADAPT decades to encourage legislation that demanded equal access to public transit, in addition to accessible public restrooms, airlines, and courthouses, for patrons using wheelchairs. Even after Blank’s tragic death in 1993, his family and the members of both the Atlantis Community and ADAPT continued his legacy by fighting against the discrimination that differently-abled people still face to this day. 

Denver Public Library Article by KATIE RUDOLPH for  | May 18, 2015
# previous post

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Disability Activist Ed Roberts on "60 Minutes" in 1989 with Harry Reasoner (cc)

Published on Jan 23, 2013
As Broadcast on CBS in 1989. More Information Available At: http://www.mnddc.org/ed-roberts/index...

Ed Roberts (January 23, 1939-March 14, 1995) was the first student with severe disabilities to attend the University of California, Berkeley. He was a pioneering leader of the disability rights movement. Roberts contracted polio at the age of fourteen in 1953, spending eighteen months in hospitals and returning home paralyzed from the neck down.
Determined to live with a positive personal sense of disability identity, his activism began when he returned to school and needed to fight to receive his high school diploma, continuing through his attendance at Berkeley where he paved the way for other students with severe disabilities, who joined him in his efforts to advocate for changes to their treatment and services.
He became the head of the Berkeley Center for Independent Living (CIL), the first independent living service and advocacy program run by and for people with disabilities. In 1976 California Governor Jerry Brown appointed him Director of the California Department of Rehabilitation, where he served until 1983. He returned to Berkeley and co-founded the World Institute on Disability.
# originally posted July 2013

Florida Teens Filmed, Laughing and Mocking Man with Disabilities As He Drowned

FLORIDA - Police and prosecutors say little can be done legally after the revelation that a group of teens filmed the dying moments of a 32-year-old disabled man last week, with the teens mocking, cursing and laughing while the man drowned in a fenced-off pond.

article by J.D. Gallop,  for FLORIDA TODAY | July 20, 2017                                                             
The Brevard County State Attorney's Office released the video to FLORIDA TODAY and called the incident a "tragedy" and said the teens' lack of action had "no moral justification" but added that the teens do not appear to have violated any laws.

The minute-long video, which police called "extremely disturbing," found its way to social media over the weekend before ending up in the hands of detectives.

The clip depicts the unidentified teens — ages 14 to 16 — off-camera, laughing as the man screamed off in the distance for help before going under in the murky water just after noon July 9 off Plaza Parkway. There were no calls to 911 from the teens.


YouTube published by What In The World

Instead, police later found the badly decomposed body of the man — identified as Jamel Dunn — July 12. Police said Dunn, who was heavily tattooed, was last seen wearing a black shirt emblazoned with the phrase ‘I’m Blessed,’ and a red hat that read "Only God can judge me," drowned.

Foul play was not suspected. His fiancée filed a missing person report after he failed to turn up at home in Cocoa. Then, after the body was found last Friday, a family friend saw the video on social media and turned it over to police. The cell phone video then gave detectives insight into what happened the day Dunn disappeared.

“(The teens) were telling him they weren’t going in after him and that ‘you shouldn’t have gone in there,'” said Yvonne Martinez, spokeswoman for the Cocoa Police Department.

“He started to struggle and scream for help and they just laughed. They didn’t call the police. They just laughed the whole time. He was just screaming… for someone to help him.”

The teens were identified and questioned by detectives but likely will not face charges because they were not directly involved, nor are there any Good Samaritan laws that would be applicable in the case, police said.

Police also added that there appeared to be little remorse from the teens. On the video, the teens refer to the possibility of an alligator being in the pond and can be heard shouting to Dunn as he splashed in the water.

“Get out the water, you gonna die” one teen shouted. Another yelled at Dunn, saying, “ain’t nobody fixing to help you, you dumb (expletive).”

Seconds later, Dunn could be heard yelling. Then his head disappeared beneath the water one last time.

“Oh, he just died,” another teen says before laughter ensues. The teens then left the park without telling authorities.

After the body was retrieved, detectives noted that one of the teens stared ahead during the questioning. Next to him, his mother broke down in tears, distraught at the situation he was involved in, Martinez said.

“There was no remorse, only a smirk,” said Martinez. There are worries for the boys’ safety as word of the case continues to go viral online.

Family members were shocked. Simone Scott, who identified herself as Dunn’s sister, took to social media to raise questions about how her brother was treated and the lack of charges in the case.

“(Okay), I agree they don’t have to help, but they should have called 9-1-1,” Scott posted.
Jamel Dunn
“My brother is disabled and walks with a cane…please make it make sense to me,” she said of his death. Another family friend said Dunn was the father of two young daughters and was known to be giving to others.

Stunned, detectives forwarded the case to the Brevard County State Attorney’s Office in Viera. However, the agency’s top prosecutors could not find any criminal act on the part of the teens for failing to either call police or help the man another way.

Nothing compelled them to be Good Samaritans, authorities said.

"We are deeply saddened and shocked at both the manner in which Mr. Dunn lost his life and the actions of the witnesses to this tragedy,” the State Attorney’s Office said in a statement sent to FLORIDA TODAY. The agency also released the video to the public.

"While the incident depicted on the recording does not give rise to sufficient evidence to support criminal prosecution under Florida statutes, we can find no moral justification for either the behavior of persons heard on the recording or the deliberate decision not to render aid to Mr. Dunn."

Police said Dunn turned up at the pond following an argument with his fiancée about 10-to-15 minutes before the incident. The fiancée then left the scene to run errands.

“The kids were at the park that day smoking marijuana and apparently saw him walk into the water. He walked in on his own. They were watching him,” Martinez said.

Dunn waded into the water from the west side as the teens watched from the south side of the pond.

“They just started recording what happened and watched until he died,” Martinez said.

“Everybody is just horrified by this.”

Family friend Jontavius Scott said Dunn deserved better.

"He was a good guy... ," he said. "It's just tough to know that these kids would sit and laugh at something like this."

Deplorable Treatment of People with Intellectual Disabilities at Henry's Turkey Farm in Iowa : Disability History

For decades dozen of men with developmental disabilities lived in a old school house and worked at a turkey plant. No one knew the conditions and abuse they endured.

Hopefully the actual story of the these men's life will raise awareness and help prevent similar situations from occurring ever in the future.

The ‘Boys’ in the Bunkhouse

          Toil, abuse and endurance in the heartland.

CLICK HERE for Very Detailed N.Y.  Times Article

For Previous Posts on  Henry's Turkey Farm CLICK HERE

# originally posted March 2014, in honor of the anniversary of ADA, as history of the disability community.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Ed Roberts and Judy Heumann 1984 Video Interview, Disability Rights Movement History

In a historic interview in Stockholm in January 1984 are Ed Roberts and Judy Heumann. Invited by Adolf Ratzka to participate in a three day conference on Independent Living in December 1983 their visit marks the beginning of the Independent Living Movement in Sweden. Ed and Judy had just co-founded the World Institute on Disability and were already prominent movement leaders in the US and internationally. For an account of their careers see the homepage of the World Institute on Disability.
In the interview the two leaders outline the Independent Living philosophy and its relevance for people with disabilities everywhere and show how our countries’ policies affect our ability as individuals with a disability to live and work in the community, have families of our own and take responsibility for our lives.

Ed Roberts and Judy Heumann in 1984 interview from Independent Living Institute on Vimeo.
.The interview was produced by Marianne Gillgren.

# previously post.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Uber Ride-Sharing Expanding Access for People with Disabilities - Including Wheelchairs in Chicago

July 20, 2017 - Today in Chicago Uber ride-sharing announced Expanding Access for People with Disabilities in Chicago, including wheelchairs. Uber is facing lawsuits across the country for lack of wheelchair accessibility. Uber is saying that app will have 65 wheelchair-accessible vehicles on the road. The service will be known as UberWAV (Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle).

Uber's wheelchair accessible vehicles has been available in Chicago on a limited use only for riders who entered a special code, obtained through 'selected' Chicago Disability organizations. Which also demonstrates still in 2017 the lack of some of Chicago's disability community and organizations actually working for the benefit of all of the disability community.

With no doubt the Chicago UberWAV is in response to a lawsuit filed by Access Living, and a few of their employees in October 2016. As Uber is finally developing and implementing new solutions for service that will serve those with mobility devices. A press release from Uber is also posted below. The UberWAV story is far from over, and as updates and issues develop, more to come.
Jim Watkins, publisher
Ability Chicago Info

# # #
Press Release by Marco McCottry, General Manager of Uber Chicago | July 20, 2017              

Push a button, get a ride. This simple concept has revolutionized how many of us think about mobility in cities around the world. At Uber, we believe that affordable, reliable transportation should be available at the push of a button for everyone, everywhere.

Unfortunately, this is not the reality for many people with disabilities. For those who require wheelchair accessible vehicles (WAVs), transportation options can be even more difficult. That’s why over the past year we have been working with disability advocates and accessibility organizations across Chicago to put together a new, collaborative blueprint for expanding accessibility options for all Chicagoans.

Beginning today, we are proud to announce the expansion of our UberWAV product in Chicago. UberWAV was previously available in Chicago for riders who entered in a special code. With today’s expansion, riders across Chicago can open their Uber app and tap a button on their smartphone to be connected with a wheelchair accessible vehicle. No code required. These vehicles are driven by drivers who are certified in WAV best practices and vehicle securement through third parties, such as the Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA), Transit & Paratransit Company (TAPTCO), or the Open Doors Organization. The WAV’s side-entry ramp enables a wheelchair user to ride safely and comfortably with up to three additional passengers, and fares will be the same as the affordable uberX option.

Although there is certainly more work to be done, we look forward to taking this next step toward improving access to mobility options throughout Chicago. Over the past six years, we have worked hard to enable driver partners to serve residents across every neighborhood, particularly in areas that were previously underserved by transportation.

Whether it’s getting to a doctor’s appointment or a trip to the grocery store, everyone should have access to safe, affordable, and reliable transportation. Developing and implementing new solutions to this ongoing mobility challenge is an issue we take very seriously, and we will be monitoring our progress and constantly refining the product based on feedback from riders and drivers over the next few months. As we head into the rest of 2017, we’re eager to continue working with leaders and advocates across the disability community to support everyone’s ability to push a button and get a ride.
Source: Uber press release

Previous posts on Uber: CLICK HERE
article @copyright Ability Chicago Info

Special Olympics 50th Anniversary in 2018, Announces Chicago as Location for the Global Celebration Events

July 20, 2017  -- Today, at Chicago's Soldier Field, the location of the first-ever Special Olympics Games, it was announced that Chicago will host the Special Olympics movement's 50th Anniversary global celebration events July 17 – 22, 2018. Mary Davis, Special Olympics International CEO, and Justice Anne Burke, who founded Special Olympics Chicago, announced the news along with other organizers of the upcoming events.

Special Olympics International, Special Olympics Illinois and Special Children's Charities have united to host nearly a week of exciting events to celebrate the past 50 years of Special Olympics and to launch the movement into the future.

YouTube published by Special Olympics

"The 50th Anniversary will be a pivotal moment for Special Olympics, as we aim to end discrimination against people with intellectual disabilities and as the leaders of inclusion through sport," shared Mary Davis. "We have spent the past 50 years breaking down barriers for our athletes and creating opportunities through sport, but we still have much more work to do. For our 50th Anniversary, we are inviting all to join us as we shape a more accepting and inclusive future."

"The torch that was lit here at Soldier Field 49 years ago today ignited a fire that will never die as long as we continue to celebrate the bravery of inspirational individuals - like Kevin O'Brien, Michael Cusack and others - who competed in 1968 and became examples, inspiring future Special Olympics athletes, here and around the world, to find the courage to enter the competition," added Justice Burke.

Events planned for July 2018 in Chicago include the first-ever Special Olympics Unified Football (Soccer) Cup, a tournament of 24 men's and women's teams comprised of people with and without intellectual disabilities from countries around the globe.

Also planned is a star-studded concert, establishment of a Special Olympics Eternal Flame of Hope monument to symbolize the ongoing drive towards creating inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities, and a Change the Game Day event where the public is welcome to play unified and join in fun athletic competition with Special Olympics athletes at Soldier Field.

Also revealed today was a traveling 50th Anniversary Museum which, throughout 2018, will traverse the State of Illinois, sharing the history of Special Olympics. The travelling museum will visit Special Olympics Illinois competitions along with high-profile state, county and municipal events, educating its public on the history of Special Olympics, its impact socially through sport, and invite people to come to Chicago in July 2018 to celebrate the 50th Anniversary. The community is welcome to donate items and memories to the museum.

Anyone interested in learning more can visit www.SpecialOlympics50.org

History of Special Olympics                                                                                                           
Eunice Kennedy Shriver

In the midst of all of the tumultuous unrest of 1968, an event was held at Soldier Field, in Chicago, Illinois on July 20. By its very nature, this was a revolutionary moment in time. The world witnessed for the first time a sports competition for people with intellectual disabilities from 26 states and Canada. It may come as a shock today to learn that many of the participants needed government pardons to leave the institutions in which they lived to travel to Chicago to compete. Eunice Kennedy Shriver led this community – who had been locked away and condemned to exist on the margins -- out of the shadows and into one of the largest stadiums in the U.S. It was their chance, their moment, to show the world what they could accomplish.

The first International Special Olympics Summer Games were held at Soldier Field in Chicago, a joint venture between the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation and the Chicago Park District. The advisory committee to the Chicago Special Olympics included Dr. William Freeberg, Southern Illinois University; Dr. Frank J. Hayden, Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation; Dr. Arthur Peavy; William McFetridge, Anne McGlone Burke and Stephen Kelly of the Chicago Park District; and Olympic decathlon champion Rafer Johnson. Eunice Kennedy Shriver was honorary chairman. Dr. Hayden was also executive director of the Games.

About Special Olympics                                                                                                                  
Special Olympics is a global organization, with over 5 million athletes in 170 countries around the world, that unleashes the human spirit through the transformative power and joy of sport, every day around the world. Through programming in sports, health, education and community building, Special Olympics is changing the lives of people with intellectual disabilities, solving the global injustice, isolation, intolerance and inactivity they face. Special Olympics Illinois provides opportunities for more than 22,500 of these athletes, more than 20,000 Young Athletes (ages 2 – 7 years old), 45,000 volunteers and thousands more people statewide through 18 Area programs in all 102 counties of the state. Special Children's Charities is the fundraising arm of Special Olympics in Chicago. In cooperation with the Chicago Park District, Chicago Public Schools and Special Olympics Illinois, Special Children's Charities is committed to providing year-round sports training, recreational and social programs for the children and adults of Special Olympics in Chicago.

SOURCE Special Olympics http://www.SpecialOlympics50.org

2017 Consumer Action Handbook

Use the Consumer Action Handbook (CAH) to get help with consumer purchases, problems and complaints. Find consumer contacts at hundreds of companies and trade associations, local, state, and federal government agencies, national consumer organizations, and more!

To get the FREE 2017 Consumer Action Handbook click where it says ‘Order your free copy’, or download (pdf) for free!

Action Alert - AAPD! We're Not Out Of The Woods Yet On Republican Healthcare Attempts To Repeal and/or Replace!

The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) has shared the following Action Alert to help the disability community, family members, friends, advocates, etc. information on the continuing issues of the attempts to repeal and/or replace the nation's healthcare system we have. Please take a few moments to review the below information and resources. TY!
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AAPD - Power Logo

Action Alert!
We're not out of the woods yet on Healthcare


Please continue visiting, calling, tweeting, and emailing your Senators!

July 20, 2017

Thank you so much for all of your advocacy over the past few weeks to to protest the American Health Care Act and Better Care Reconciliation Act – together we sent the message loud and clear that we will not sit idly by as our healthcare and services are stripped away. Your advocacy made a difference!

Unfortunately, the Senate is still not listening. The effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and harm Medicaid is back again with two new versions.

The Senate’s “Better Care Reconciliation Act” (BCRA) and a new bill, the “Obamacare Repeal Reconciliation Act” (ORRA), are being readied for a vote next week. It is unclear which bill the Senate will move on at this point, but we expect a “motion to proceed” sometime next week — likely Tuesday or Wednesday. These bills are harmful to people with disabilities for many reasons.
  • The ORRA cuts taxes on the rich by removing health care from the poor and middle class
  • The ORRA would eliminate health care coverage for 32 million people by 2026; 17 million by next year (Congressional Budget Office)
  • The ORRA would increase health care plan premiums by at least 100%
  • The ORRA stops all Medicaid expansion at the end of 2019 (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)
  • The BCRA guts Medicaid by cutting over $700 billion
  • Both bills make it harder to provide home and community based services by eliminating the Community First Choice option for Medicaid
  • Both bills eliminate the protections against discrimination for pre-existing conditions
  • Both bills eliminate the requirement for essential health benefits (which include prescription drugs, mental health services, rehabilitative and habilitative services, and devices, and more)
Bar graph developed by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities to highlight how ACA Repeal-Without-Replace Would Lead to 32 Million Losing Coverage and Individual Market Collapse. The increase in uninsured would be 17 million the first year after the bill is enacted, 27 million after three years, and 32 million by 2026. Premiums would increase by 25% the first year after the bill is enacted, by 50% after three years, and by 100% by 2026. The share of people living in areas with no individual market insurers would be 10% the first year after the bill is enacted, 50% after three years, and 75% by 2026.
Vertical bar graph produced by the Congressional Buget Office to show the Net Effects of the Obamacare Repeal Reconciliation Act of 2017 on the Budget Deficit. The repeal of Medicaid expansion woudl cut Medicaid funding by $842 billion. Termination of subsidies for nongroup health insurance would decrease the budget deficit by $454 billion due to cutting tax credits and selected coverage provisions. Reduced collections of penalty payments from employers and uninsured peopel would add $210 billion to the budget deficit. Repeal of taxes on high-income people, the annual fee imposed on health insurers, and excise taxes enacted under the ACA would increase the budget deficit by $613 billion. Overall the ORRA would reduce the budget deficit by $473 billion.


Everyone needs to continue visiting, calling, tweeting, and emailing their Senators to tell them to vote no on the motion to proceed to consider these bills. All Senators must understand the damage this bill will do to the lives and liberty of people with disabilities and their families. We are grateful for all the advocacy you have already done – it has been effective. Please, keep it up!

Contact your Senators

The message is clear:

“Senator _____ must reject any bill that causes large coverage losses, ends the Medicaid expansion, caps and cuts the Medicaid program, or guts critical protections for people with health conditions.”
Focus on telling stories when you meet with, call, or contact your Senators. Write stories or record brief 60-90 second videos about you, your child, your parent, your relatives, or your friends who have a disability and need the support of Medicaid and health care. Include pictures. Share these stories on Facebook and Twitter and ask your friends and family to do the same. Our Senators need to see the human face of Medicaid.

The most effective outreach is to meet with your Senator (or their staff) in-person. When you do so, share your story of how access to health care and home and community-based services are important to you or your loved ones with disabilities. Those stories will particularly be impactful.

Contacting Congress allows you to easily search for your Senators and access information on their D.C. offices.  

Engage your Senators through Social Media

Tweet your Senators and use the hashtags #SaveMedicaid, #NoCutsNoCaps, #ProtectOurCare, #ADAPTandRESIST, #KeepAmericaCovered, and/or #CoverageMatters

Sample Tweets:

  • [insert your Senator’s Twitter handle] Over 10 million people with disabilities rely on #Medicaid for healthcare coverage. Please – #ProtectOurCare & #SaveMedicaid.
  • [insert your Senator’s Twitter handle] Don’t allow insurers to discriminate against people w/ disabilities because of pre-existing conditions. #ProtectOurCare
  • [insert your Senator’s Twitter handle] The #BCRA is a threat the life, liberty, and independence of people with disabilities. #ProtectOurCare #SaveMedicaid
  • [insert your Senator’s Twitter handle] Medicaid provides essential services to millions of people with disabilities. #SaveMedicaid #NoCutsNoCaps
  • [insert your Senator’s Twitter handle] Repeal without a replacement is not an option! #SaveMedicaid #NoCutsNoCaps #ProtectOurCare
States to Target:
  • Arizona
  • Alaska
  • Colorado
  • Indiana
  • Maine
  • Nevada
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania
  • West Virginia
Please be sure to thank Senators Capito (R-WV), Collins (R-ME), and Murkowski (R-AK) for their commitment to not vote for a repeal bill without a replacement.

Contact your Governors

While Senators have the most direct influence on the legislative future of the BCRA and ORRA, contacting Governors is another great way to put additional pressure on Senators. You can find contact information for governors here.

Social Media Graphics:

You are welcome to use any of the graphics below as part of your social media outreach. Thank you to SuMo Design Workshop for pulling these together!


A photo of disability advocates marching in Washington, DC with the Capitol Building in the background. The top right corner of the image reads "#SaveMedicaid #NoCutsNoCaps #ADAPTandRESIST Call your Senators Now! 202-224-3121" and includes the AAPD logo.
A photo of disability advocates marching in Washington, DC with the Capitol Building in the background. The top right corner of the image reads "#SaveMedicaid #NoCutsNoCaps #ADAPTandRESIST Call your Senators Now! 202-224-3121" and includes the AAPD logo.
A photo of disability advocates marching in Washington, DC with the Capitol Building in the background. Two advocates are holding a sign that reads "America for ALL" At the top of the image is a box with "#SaveMedicaid" in the middle. The bottom of the image reads "Call your Senators Now! 202-224-3121"
A photo of disability advocates marching in Washington, DC with the Capitol Building in the background. The top right of the image reads "#SaveMedicad #ADAPTandRESIST" and includes the AAPD logo. The text in the center of the image reads "Vote as if your life depends on it, because it does" - Justin Dart Call your Senator: 202-224-3121 Tell them to VOTE NO! on #TrumpCare"

Additional Resources and Analyses


Previous AAPD Healthcare Action Alerts

The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) is a convener, connector, and catalyst for change, increasing the political and economic power of people with disabilities.
Copyright © 2017 American Association of People with Disabilities, All rights reserved.