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

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Social Security Administration, or SSA Calendar of Payment Dates for 2017

For most people who receive Social Security benefits, there are three different payment dates, depending on the beneficiary's date of birth.  As always this can be confusing, hopefully the below info will help. 

(Note: If you started receiving Social Security retirement benefits before May 1997, these payment dates don't apply to you).

  • If your birthday falls on the first through tenth, then your Social Security benefits will be paid on the second Wednesday of each month.
  • If your birthday falls on the 11th through 20th, your Social Security benefits will be paid on the third Wednesday of each month.
  • If your birthday falls on the 21st through 31st, your Social Security benefits will be paid on the fourth Wednesday of each month.
For 2017, the specific dates of your Social Security retirement benefit payments are:
Birthday on  1st-10th 
Birthday on 11th-20th 
Birthday on  21st-31st 
Jan. 11, 2017
Jan. 18, 2017
Jan. 25, 2017
Feb. 8, 2017
Feb. 15, 2017
Feb. 22, 2017
March 8, 2017
March 15, 2017
March 22, 2017
April 12, 2017
April 19, 2017
April 26, 2017
May 10, 2017
May 17, 2017
May 24, 2017
June 14, 2017
June 21, 2017
June 28, 2017
July 12, 2017
July 19, 2017
July 26, 2017
Aug. 9, 2017
Aug. 16, 2017
Aug. 23, 2017
Sept. 13, 2017
Sept. 20, 2017
Sept. 27, 2017
Oct. 11, 2017
Oct. 18, 2017
Oct. 25, 2017
Nov. 8, 2017
Nov. 15, 2017
Nov. 22, 2017
Dec. 13, 2017
Dec. 20, 2017
Dec. 27, 2017

If Receiving Benefits Before May 1997

If you started receiving Social Security benefits before May 1997, then the dates in the chart above don't apply to you. Instead, your benefit will be paid on the third of every month.
If the third day of the month happens to fall on a Saturday or Sunday, then your benefit will be paid on the Friday before. For example, Sept. 3, 2017 is a Sunday, so this group of beneficiaries will be paid on Friday, Sept. 1.
This schedule also applies if you receive both Social Security retirement benefits and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

(click to enlarge)
If you receive SSI but no other type of Social Security benefits, then your monthly payment will be made on the first of each month. If the first falls on a Saturday or Sunday, then your SSI benefit will be paid on the Friday before. For example, July 1, 2017 is a Saturday, so SSI recipients will be paid on Friday, June 30.
The Social Security Administration provides a calendar that you can print out.
article by Jim Watkins, Ability Chicago Info | Jan. 31, 2017
SOURCE: Social Security Administration

Monday, January 30, 2017

Illinois ABLE Savings Program Now Available for Qualified Persons with Disabilities

The Illinois ABLE program is a tax-advantaged investment program that provides persons with blindness or disabilities the option to save for disability-related expenses without putting their federal means tested benefits at risk.

After almost two years of negotiations, the State of Illinois announced that Illinois will lead the National Achieving Better Life Experience (ABLE) Alliance, the country’s largest multi-state agreement for special investment tools that allow for tax-free investment growth when proceeds are spent on qualifying disability-related expenses.

To qualify for the program, the account holder must have developed a disability or blindness before the age of 26. A person who meets the age requirement, qualifies for Social Security Administration benefits or has received a waiver from the IRS will qualify for an account.

Illinois ABLE Is a member of the National ABLE Alliance, a partnership of 14 states representing over one quarter of the population of the United States. The goal of the National ABLE Alliance is to provide the most robust ABLE services possible at the lowest cost to account owners.

The ABLE Alliance also includes Alaska, Arizona, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. Each state will have a unique start date for the program. Additionally, Illinois’ ABLE investment program is open to residents of other states.

To Sign Up For Your Own ABLE Account, and Frequently Asked Questions: 
Visit the State of Illinois Save with ABLE website.

National Trends in Disability Employment – 2016 Full-Year-in-Review

DURHAM, NH –The momentum of the last three quarters extended employment gains into 2017 for Americans with disabilities, as reported in this special year-in-review edition of the Trends in Disability Employment–National Update (nTIDE). Based on the latest national data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this monthly customized report on the employment of people with disabilities is a collaborative effort of Kessler Foundation and the University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disability (UNH-IOD).
Employment-to-Population Ratio (2008-2016) for people with & without disabilites
2009-2016 Labor Force Participation Ratio for people with & without disabilities
2009-2016 Employment to Population Ratio for people with & without disabilities
Percentage Change in the Employment-to-Population Ration for people with & without disabilities
For the second consecutive year, both of the key job market indicators were up overall for people with disabilities. In summary, in 2016, the average monthly employment-to-population ratio increased from 27.0 percent in 2015 to 27.7 percent (up 2.6 percent; 0.7 percentage points) and the average monthly labor force participation rate increased from 30.5 percent to 31.2 percent (up 2.3 percent; 0.7 percentage points). These increments build on the increases seen in 2015, which marked the reversal of six-year downward trends for both indicators. Unlike 2015, however, 2016 ended on an upswing, which may be a positive factor as we look ahead to 2017.
Among people without disabilities, the news was also positive, but marginally so. Both the employment to population ratio and the labor participation rate increased in 2016. The average monthly employment-to-population ratio increased from 72.2 percent to 72.8 percent (up 0.8 percent; 0.6 percentage points), and the average monthly labor force participation rate increased from 76.1 percent to 76.4 percent (up 0.4 percent; 0.3 percentage points).

SOURCE: UNH Institute on Disability           

Trends in Disability Employment - National Update is funded, in part, by a grant from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) under grant number 90RT5022-02-01,and Kessler Foundation.

Three Individuals Plead Guilty in $55 Million Health Care Fraud Scheme at Two Brooklyn Medical Clinics

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs
Friday, January 27, 2017

Three individuals pleaded guilty this week in connection with a health care fraud scheme involving two Brooklyn, New York clinics that caused approximately $55 million in false and fraudulent claims to Medicare and Medicaid.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Robert L. Capers of the Eastern District of New York, Special Agent in Charge Scott J. Lampert of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) New York Regional Office, Acting Special Agent in Charge Kathy A. Enstrom of Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation’s (IRS-CI) New York Office and Medicaid Inspector General Dennis Rosen of New York State Office of Medicaid Inspector General (OMIG), made the announcement.

Olga Proskurovsky, 49, and Yuriy Omelchenko, 49, both of Brooklyn, New York, each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud. Pursuant to their plea agreements, the defendants agreed to forfeiture money judgments in the amount of $17,216,687. Isak Aharanov, 42, of Brooklyn, New York, also pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit money laundering and one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States. The defendants pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Roslynn R. Mauskopf of the Eastern District of New York.

According to the defendants’ admissions made as part of the plea agreements, Proskurovsky served as a medical biller and Omelchenko worked as a therapist manager at Prime Care on the Bay LLC (Prime Care) and Bensonhurst Mega Medical Care P.C. (Bensonhurst). The defendants admitted that they assisted in a scheme to defraud the Medicare and Medicaid programs in which patients subjected themselves to medically unnecessary health services, including physical and occupational therapy, provided by unlicensed staff. To conceal the scheme, Proskurovsky and Omelchenko admitted that occupational and physical therapists falsified patient charts and medical billing documents.

As part of his plea agreement, Aharanov admitted that he and co-conspirators paid patients in order to induce them to come to Prime Care, Bensonhurst and Total Rehab and Physical Therapy P.C. Aharanov further admitted that he used a bank account opened in the name of one of his companies to launder funds and generate the cash needed to make these illegal kickback payments.

Fifteen other individuals have pleaded guilty in connection with the scheme.

HHS-OIG, IRS-CI and the New York State OMIG investigated the case, which was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under the supervision by the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York. Trial Attorneys A. Brendan Stewart and Richard A. Powers of the Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney F. Turner Buford of the Eastern District of New York, formerly a Fraud Section trial attorney, prosecuted the case.

The Criminal Division’s Fraud Section leads the Medicare Fraud Strike Force. Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged more than 3,000 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $11 billion. In addition, HHS Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with HHS-OIG, is taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.

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


Doctors & Owner of Psychological Services Centers Convicted in $25 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Clinical Psychologist and Owner of Psychological Services Centers Convicted in $25 Million Psychological Testing Scheme Carried Out Through Eight Companies in Four Gulf Coast States

Two owners of psychological services companies, one of whom was a clinical psychologist, were convicted yesterday for their involvement in a $25.2 million Medicare fraud scheme carried out through eight companies at nursing homes in four states in the Southeastern United States.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Kenneth A. Polite of the Eastern District of Louisiana, Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey S. Sallet of the FBI’s New Orleans Field Office and 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 Regional Office made the announcement.
Rodney Hesson, Psy.D, 47, of Slidell, Louisiana, licensed clinical psychologist and owner of Nursing Home Psychological Service of Louisiana LLC, Nursing Home Psychological Service of Mississippi LLC, Nursing Home Psychological Services of Florida LLC and Nursing Home Psychological Service of Alabama LLC (collectively NHPS), and Gertrude Parker, 63, of Slidell, Louisiana, owner of Psychological Care Services of Louisiana, Psychological Care Services of Mississippi, Psychological Care Services of Alabama and Psychological Care Services of Florida (collectively PCS), were convicted following a seven-day jury trial in the Eastern District of Louisiana.  They were each convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and one count of conspiracy to make false statements related to health care matters.  The jury verdict included a money judgment of $8,956,278, as well as forfeiture of Hesson’s home and at least $525,629 in seized currency.  A sentencing hearing for both defendants is set for May 4, 2017, before U.S. District Court Judge Carl J. Barbier of the Eastern District of Louisiana.  
According to evidence presented at trial, the defendants’ companies contracted with nursing homes in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi to allow NHPS and PCS clinical psychologists to provide psychological services to nursing home residents.  Hesson and Parker caused these companies to bill Medicare for hours of psychological testing services that these nursing home residents did not need or in some instances did not receive.  Between 2009 and 2015, NHPS and PCS submitted over $25.2 million in claims to Medicare, a significant amount of these claims being fraudulent.  Medicare paid more than $13.5 million on the fraudulent claims.
The FBI and HHS-OIG investigated the case, which was brought by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under the supervision of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana.  Senior Litigation Counsel John Michelich and Trial Attorneys Katherine Raut and Katherine Payerle of the Fraud Section are prosecuting the case.
The Fraud Section leads the Medicare Fraud Strike Force. Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged over 3,000 defendants who collectively have billed the Medicare program for over $11 billion. In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.
To learn more about the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), go to www.stopmedicarefraud.gov.

Papa John’s Pizza To Pay $125,000 To Settle EEOC Disability Discrimination Lawsuit

Pizza Company Refused to Accommodate and Fired Disabled Employee Because He Had a Job Coach, Federal Agency Charged
PHOENIX - Jan. 26, 2017 -The owners of a Farmington, Utah Papa John's Pizza will pay $125,000 and furnish other relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the EEOC announced today.
According to EEOC's lawsuit, Papa John's discriminated against Scott Bonn, who has an intellectual disability, Down syndrome. EEOC alleged that Papa John's employed Bonn successfully at its Farmington location for more than five months and allowed an independently employed and insured job coach to assist him. EEOC further charged that after an operating partner visited the Farmington location and observed Bonn working with the assistance of his job coach, the operating partner ordered Papa John's local management to fire Bonn.
Such alleged conduct violates Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits employers from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities because of their disabilities or from failing to reasonably accommodate their disabilities. In appropriate circumstances, such as those in this lawsuit, the use of a job coach is a reasonable accommodation under the ADA. EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. PJ Utah LLC, PJ Cheese, Inc., PJ United, Inc., Case No. 2:14-cv-00695-TC) in U.S. District Court for the District of Utah after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
Under the consent decree settling the suit, Papa John's is required to pay $125,000 to Bonn, review its equal employment opportunity policies, conduct training for management and human resources employees for its restaurants in Utah, and establish a new recruitment program for individuals with disabilities in Utah.
"Employers must understand that they cannot refuse to provide an accommodation to individuals with intellectual disabilities," said EEOC Regional Attorney Mary Jo O'Neill. "Scott Bonn is an incredible person and he loves working. He loved his job at Papa John's. Working gives all of us meaning and purpose in our lives. Employers should embrace workers like Scott who work with such joy. I want employers to know that their obligation to provide a reasonable accommodation includes allowing a job coach at the workplace, if needed, absent undue hardship. The ADA is intended to ensure that each person with an intellectual disability has a right to work and be evaluated as an individual-not on the basis of his or her disability."
Laura Boswell, an attorney with the Disability Law Center in Salt Lake City, Utah and counsel for Scott Bonn, said, "In my experience, employees with intellectual disabilities, while often overlooked, are frequently among the most dedicated and hardworking. Scott exemplified these qualities while employed at Papa John's. We are hopeful that this settlement will serve to educate employers about the skills and value Scott, and employees like him, can bring to the workforce when properly accommodated."
Elizabeth Cadle, district director of EEOC's Phoenix District Office, added, "Recruitment and hiring programs are a fantastic way for employers to build strong relationships with communities and provide meaningful employment to persons with disabilities. We encourage all employers to use recruitment and hiring programs to help us fight employment discrimination on all fronts."
EEOC's Phoenix District Office has jurisdiction for Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, and part of New Mexico (including Albuquerque).
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: Press Release

Illinois Still Fails To Support Disability Services, 2017 Report Finds

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. • A federal court monitor is criticizing Illinois for failing to ensure that people with developmental disabilities receive adequate support within their communities for a second year in a row.

By KIANNAH SEPEDA-MILLER | Associated Press | January 29, 2017  
The monitor's annual report, issued last week, says a lack of state funding to raise caregiver wages has created unprecedented shortages of workers who assist developmentally disabled residents when they move out of institutions and into apartments or group homes. The services include everything from eating and hygiene to learning life skills.

The report expanded on a similar finding last year. But the Illinois Department of Human Services said in a statement that it disagrees with the conclusion. The agency insists the state continues to meet requirements laid out in a federal decree issued in 2011 after civil rights groups sued Illinois for failing to comply with a 1999 Supreme Court ruling that unjustified institutionalization constitutes discrimination.

The decree details what Illinois must do to provide community support for the developmentally disabled.

"We remain committed to the tenets of the (decree) and look forward to suggestions from all stakeholders on ways in which we can serve individuals with developmental disabilities more effectively," said Meredith Krantz, a spokeswoman for the department.

The issue will be discussed when plaintiffs, including the American Civil Liberties Union and Equip for Equality, meet with state officials before a Feb. 10 court date when the parties next make their case to a judge.

State funding for wage increases stalled almost a decade ago at about $9 per hour, which would place many caregivers and their families below the federal poverty level. Medicaid matches state wage rates, but states must raise wages first to secure a higher federal contribution.

"We can't compete even with fast food restaurants or retail," said Kim Zoeller, president of the Ray Graham Association, a DuPage County-based community service provider. "It's truly a crisis."

The report commends the state for reaching benchmark goals for the number of people awaiting services who've left institutions or family homes to live on their own or in group residences. But it found Illinois out of compliance because state government has not budgeted sufficient funds to guarantee that disabled people integrating into community life receive personalized care that addresses more than basic needs.

Court orders issued last year ensured the state continued funding service providers at 2015 levels. But federal monitor Ronnie Cohn said these funds were not enough to combat a staffing shortage.

The shortage left providers in 2016 up to 30 percent understaffed and created turnover rates as high as 70 percent which resulted in uprooted routines, overtime shifts for remaining staff and less resources devoted to activities that help disabled people engage with their community.

The report also referenced a Chicago Tribune investigation that found more than a thousand cases of abuse and neglect in state-funded group homes.

But Cohn told The Associated Press in an interview that ensuring quality care goes beyond more closely monitoring providers.

"Even the best providers with the best of intentions can't manufacture money to keep people working," Cohn said. "When the money stops moving, it creates problems."

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed legislation last fall that would have raised caregiver pay to $15 an hour, saying that a funding increase must be tied to an agreement that will end Illinois' nearly two-year-long budget impasse. Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly referred questions about the monitor's most recent report to the Department of Human Services.

Rep. Greg Harris of Chicago, a top budget negotiator for House Democrats, said he understands the risks posed by the shortage and said lawmakers are working to correct it this session by including more human services funding in the budget.

Difficulties attracting qualified caregivers also impede providers' abilities to open new group homes, the report concluded. That leaves many disabled Illinoisans on waitlists and in limbo, and forces some smaller group homes to merge and share staff.

Friday, January 27, 2017

ASL duo-interpreted, Audio described & Open Captioned Performances at Chicago Shakespeare Theater in Feb. & March 2017

Enjoy an Access Shakespeare Performance at Chicago Shakespeare Theater

The Book of Joseph

Audio described
Sunday, February 12 at 2:00 p.m.
(with optional Touch Tour at 12:00 p.m.)

Open Captioned
Friday, February 24 at 7:30 p.m.

with our “Pay-What-You-Can” Access Shakespeare Program

Every family has its secrets. The Hollander family’s spanned three generations and two continents, from World War II Poland to present-day America, stashed away in a suitcase until their discovery decades later. Purchase your tickets in advance by calling 312.595.5600.

For more information, please visit www.chicagoshakes.com/bookofjoseph.

>>> next.

Enjoy Access Performances at Chicago Shakespeare

Love’s Labor’s Lost

Audio described
Sunday, February 26, 2:00p.m.
(optional Touch Tour at
12:00 p.m.)

ASL duo-interpreted
Friday, March 10, 7:30 p.m.

Open Captioned
Thursday, March 23, 1:00 p.m.
Friday, March 24, 7:30 p.m.

with our “Pay-What-You-Can” Access Shakespeare Program

Prince Ferdinand commits to a “no-fun” edict that requires quiet study for three years. But when the French Princess arrives on his doorstep, witty wordplay and wooing ensue in Shakespeare’s playful romantic comedy. Purchase your tickets in advance by calling 312.595.5600.

For more information, please visit www.chicagoshakes.com/loveslabors.

>>> Next.

Enjoy an Access Performance at Chicago Shakespeare

Short Shakespeare! Romeo and Juliet

ASL duo-interpreted, Audio described & Open captioned
Saturday, March 18 at 11:00 a.m.

$17 Students • $25 Adults

Shakespeare sets Romeo and Juliet, a tale of true love found—and tragically lost—within an endless cycle of hate. This 75-minute adaptation, told in Shakespeare's own words, speaks to today's youth about their own lives. After the performance, audiences are welcome to join the cast for a post-show discussion. Recommended for ages 10 and up.Purchase your tickets in advance by calling 312.595.5600.

For more information, please visit www.chicagoshakes.com/ssromeojuliet.
# # #
For more information on Chicago's Access Shakespeare Theater: https://www.chicagoshakes.com/access

Special Olympics 2019 World Games To Be Held In United Arab Emirates

REUTERS - Some 7,000 athletes and their families from 170 countries will participate in the 2019 Special Olympics World Games from March 14-21, 2019 in the capital of the United Arab Emirates, organizers said on Tuesday.

Abu Dhabi won a bid last year to host the games, which celebrate the skills, talents and sporting achievements of athletes with intellectual disabilities from across the world.

The games, which will be held for the first time in the Middle East, will see athletes compete in 22 sports at multiple venues across the city.

“Hosting the Special Olympics World Games is a way for the country to reinforce its long-standing commitment to creating inclusion,” Timothy Shriver, Special Olympics Chairman told reporters.

“We believe the Abu Dhabi Games will create a lasting impact for the Special Olympics movement.”

Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Special Olympics is a global movement that seeks to provide year-round sporting activities and healthy athletic competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.

The last Special Olympics was held in Los Angeles in 2015.

*REUTERS Reporting By Stanley Carvalho; Editing by Tom Heneghan | January 24, 2017
# # # 
Five Moments of Triumph - 2015 Special Olympics World Games
Share the triumph of Special Olympics athletes at their most powerful. Speed skating, beach volleyball, handball, powerlifting - watch five moments of serious athletic glory!
YouTube published by Special Olympics World Games Los Angeles 2015

Paralympian Tatyana McFadden: An Unbeatable Advocate

Tatyana McFadden is a force. A 17-time medalist in the Paralympics and multiple Para world record holder, McFadden, 27, has dominated every wheelchair race distance from 100 meters to 26.2 miles over the last decade. She’s known as the “Beast,” and her rigorous training includes 100-mile weeks on the road and the track as well as gym workouts that feature stair climbs—while in a handstand. It pays off: In September, she won six medals—four gold, two silver—in Rio, then three weeks later won the Bank of America Chicago Marathon wheelchair division. In November, she claimed her fourth consecutive World Marathon Majors Grand Slam (winning Boston, London, Chicago, and New York in a single year)—an unheard-of feat for any runner.

Article originally Published in Runners World, by Lindsey Emery | January 24, 2017

That’s right, runner.

“I’ve never seen myself as a person with a disability, and I’ve always identified as a runner,” she says. “Being a runner means putting in hard work and learning from your failures.”

Born with spina bifida, a condition where the spinal column fails to close all the way, McFadden was paralyzed from the waist down. She spent her first five years at an orphanage in St. Petersburg, Russia, and taught herself to walk on her hands. When she was 6, her mother, Deborah, adopted her, moved her to Clarksville, Maryland, and enrolled her in an adaptive sports program. “I tried a lot of sports, and I really fell in love with wheelchair racing,” she says. “It made me feel so fast and free.”

At 15, McFadden became the youngest member of the U.S. Paralympics Team and medaled in both the 100 and 200 meters in Athens, Greece. The following year, she tried to join her high school track team; when she was instructed to race separately from the other students, she and her mother filed a lawsuit against the school system—and won. Today, no child in the U.S. can legally be denied the right to participate in interscholastic and intramural athletics.
“It was important for me that others understand it’s not okay to exclude people with disabilities and treat them differently,” she says.
As an adult, McFadden has continued her advocacy. She’s spoken to Congress, schools, and clubs about the power of sport and the need for equal access, treatment, and pay for athletes with disabilities. Last year, she created the Tatyana McFadden Foundation, “to create a world where people with disabilities can achieve their dreams, live healthy lives, and be equal participants in a global society.”

On top of all that—and while training for Rio—McFadden released a kid’s book last spring, titled Ya Sama! Moments From My Life. The Russian phrase means “I can do it.” The book includes lessons about community, acceptance, and setting goals.

“I knew I could do anything if I just set my mind to it. I always figure out ways to do things, even if they’re a bit different.”

The 2017 Heroes of Running have faced doubt, adversity, and unimaginably long odds. Yet they all found the grit, grace, and humility to succeed—and inspire. Read their stories at Runners World.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Accessible Signage Video (cc) "Guide to the ADA Standards"

A new animation (below) on accessible signage is now available from the U.S. Access Board as part of its online guide to standards issued under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA). The 15-minute animated film reviews and illustrates requirements in the standards for signs and clarifies common sources of confusion. It covers provisions for visual access, tactile signs, required access symbols and other pictograms.
"We're excited to make this resource available so that the provisions for signs are correctly understood and applied," states Marsha Mazz, Director of the Board's Office of Technical and Information Services. "The Board receives many questions on this subject, and the new animation is very effective in answering them."
The signs animation is the latest in a series produced by the Access Board. Other animations address wheelchair maneuvering, entrances and doors, toilet and bathing facilities, protruding objects, and parking and passenger loading zones. The animations are viewable on the Board's site, and copies of them can be downloaded as well.

The Board's online guide to the ADA and ABA Standards also features technical bulletins that explain and illustrate requirements and address common questions. Bulletins are currently available on the first five chapters of the standards, including application and scoping, building blocks, accessible routes, accessible means of egress, parking and passenger loading zones, and stairways. The Guide to the ADA Standards covers design requirements for places of public accommodation, commercial facilities, and state and local government facilities subject to the ADA. The Guide to the ABA Standards addresses similar standards that apply under the ABA to facilities that are federally funded.

Future installments to the guides will be released as they become available. Users can sign-up to receive email updates on the release of other animations and bulletins in the series.
The below video is closed captioned, and just one of many available on disability issues and guidelines from the U.S. Access Board.

SOURCE: Press Release - U.S. Access Board | January 2017

Action Alert - Tell Your Senator To Vote NO on Betsy DeVos for U.S. Education Czar

AAPD Action Alert!

Tell Your Senator to Vote NO on Betsy DeVos!

President Trump has nominated Elizabeth “Betsy” DeVos to be the Secretary of Education. The Department of Education is responsible for ensuring that all children, including children with disabilities, receive a quality education, free from discrimination. Ms. DeVos’ record and testimony at her Senate confirmation hearing disqualify her from leading the Department in this critical mission. We ask you to call Senators today to tell them to vote “no” on her nomination for Secretary of Education.

AAPD blog recapping Ms. Devos' responses during her hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee.

The American Association for People with Disabilities (AAPD) is very concerned that Ms. DeVos seems unfamiliar with the IDEA and the protections it provides to students with disabilities. Should Ms. DeVos be confirmed as Secretary of Education, she must become more familiar with the law and commit to ensuring that it is fully-funded and enforced.


  • Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA): The IDEA, our federal special education law, requires schools to provide students with disabilities a free appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment. Since 1975, IDEA has made it possible for millions of students with disabilities to attend public schools and receive the supports they need for success. During her confirmation hearing, Ms. DeVos disagreed that all schools that receive special education funding should be subject to the requirements of IDEA. In addition, she suggested that federal IDEA funding should be turned into a voucher program. Students and families who receive vouchers for private schools are often forced to waive their IDEA rights, including the right to FAPE. And vouchers rarely cover the full cost of private school tuition and transportation, making them a false choice for low income families with children with disabilities.
  • Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA): In a bipartisan effort in 2015, Congress enacted ESSA, which requires each state to develop a system that holds schools accountable for the academic progress of historically underserved students, including students with disabilities, and to implement schoolwide interventions when students with disabilities underperform year after year. In her hearing testimony, Ms. DeVos would not commit to continuing the Department’s implementation of the ESSA accountability regulations. Nor would she commit to holding all schools that receive federal funding equally accountable for the academic progress of all students, including students with disabilities. She also would not commit to requiring all schools that receive federal funding to report incidents of discipline, bullying, and harassment. Students with disabilities, especially students of color with disabilities, are often subject to bullying, inappropriate use of seclusion and restraint, and discriminatory school discipline like suspensions, expulsions, and law enforcement referrals. We must hold all schools accountable for the education of children with disabilities.
  • Civil Rights Enforcement: The Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is responsible for enforcing disability rights laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. These laws protect students from disability discrimination and require schools to provide the accommodations and services students with disabilities need to be successful. Yet in her hearing Ms. DeVos refused to disavow efforts to downsize or rein in OCR. We need more support for disability rights enforcement by the Department of Education, not less. If she will not commit to enforcing our disability rights laws, Ms. DeVos should not be confirmed as Secretary of Education.


CALL YOUR SENATOR! The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee will vote on Ms. DeVos’ nomination on Tuesday, January 31. Please call Senators on the Committee to tell them to vote “no” on the DeVos nomination. Call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 (the Switchboard line may be busy—you can call back as many times as needed) and ask to be connected to your Senator’s office. It’s especially important to call if he or she is one of the HELP committee Senators listed below:
  • Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee), Chairman
  • Patty Murray (D-Washington), Ranking (Minority) Member
  • Michael B. Enzi (R-Wyoming)
  • Richard Burr (R-North Carolina)
  • Johnny Isakson (R-Georgia)
  • Rand Paul (R-Kentucky)
  • Susan Collins (R-Maine)
  • Bill Cassidy (R-Louisiana)
  • Todd Young (R-Indiana)
  • Orrin Hatch (R-Utah)
  • Pat Roberts (R-Kansas)
  • Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)
  • Tim Scott (R-South Carolina)
  • Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont)
  • Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-Pennsylvania)
  • Al Franken (D-Minnesota)
  • Michael F. Bennet (D-Colorado)
  • Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island)
  • Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin)
  • Christopher S. Murphy (D-Connecticut)
  • Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts)
  • Tim Kaine (D-Virginia)
  • Maggie Hassan (D-New Hampshire)

Tell your Senators to vote NO on the DeVos nomination!

SOURCES: American Association for People with Disabilities (AAPD) - Press Release 01/25/2017
Thanks to the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law for providing the content of this alert.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Chicago Public Schools Cutting Special Ed Services to Save Money, Crisis for Children with Disabilities

A new report from the Better Government Association finds many parents of children with special needs say Chicago Public Schools has made it harder to access support services designed to help their children.

Chicago Tonight (WTTW) report by Paul Caine | January 24, 2017    

According to parents, teachers and disability rights advocates, CPS has changed protocols and effectively created a policy of “delay and deny” in order to save money.
In the article published online Monday, reporter Katie Drews writes:
Facing a yawning deficit and special education spending this year of more than $923 million, or more than 15 percent of the district’s entire budget, CPS has enacted a number of new procedures and bureaucratic layers to the process for, according to the district, more accountability.
But critics, including dozens of teachers, administrators, parents and disability rights advocates, say the district’s changes to beef up requirements have led to inappropriate delays and reduced services for students who are among the most vulnerable children in the city.
“It’s delay and deny, delay and deny, delay and deny,” said Matt Cohen, an attorney who specializes in disability law and represents families contesting CPS. “It’s all about saving overall money and not doing what each child actually needs.”
Drews joins Chicago Tonight  to discuss the report’s findings.

Chicago Public Schools was invited to send a representative to give us their perspective on this story but declined. They did send a statement saying that: “CPS’s new policy for special education is simple: schools are required to schedule and fully fund Diverse Learners first, this ensures that all individual plans for special education students are met, helping their academic achievement improve alongside their classmates.”