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

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Autism & Safety Toolkit from Autistic Self Advocacy Network

The Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) has made available a online toolkit, the following is as posted on their website. For more resources, news, advocacy, visit:  http://autisticadvocacy.org/
Autistic people have the right to be safe and live independently in our communities. We also face significant threats to our safety, including higher rates of abuse, institutionalization, suicide, and police violence. Too often, autistic voices have been erased from conversations about autism and safety. That’s why ASAN is proud to announce the release of our Autism & Safety Toolkit – the first toolkit made by autistic self-advocates, focusing on safety issues that affect us and the tools to deal with them.
This toolkit provides information about:
  • Abuse and neglect
  • Bullying
  • Interactions with police
  • Mental health
  • Safely navigating the community
Many people think that people with developmental disabilities must give up our autonomy, or be separated from the broader community, in order to be safe. But in reality, we are safest when we are included in our communities and empowered to take control of our own lives. The toolkit describes safety risks we face, discusses different ways to address them, and debunks myths about safety that are sometimes used to curtail our independence and access to the community.
The Autism & Safety Toolkit comes in three sections. Click on the title of any section to download it as a screenreader-accessible PDF.
This toolkit was made possible thanks to generous support from the WITH foundation.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Nationally ADAPT Members Ready To Protest, to Secure 'DNC' Support for the Disability Integration Act

Members from across the United States meet with the DNC Chair Tom Perez!

11/29/17 – Washington, D.C. Activists from the disability rights organization ADAPT, the same group that spent summer fighting Republican efforts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, today set their sights on the Democratic National Committee. The ADAPT activists had traveled from as far as Colorado to express their anger at DNC chair Tom Perez because he didn’t live up to his commitments to them for the DNC to support Disability Integration Act (DIA – S910/HR2472) which would ensure that no Disabled American is denied Life and Liberty by unwanted institutionalization.
“Tom Perez promised me personally that he and the DNC would work tirelessly to put the full weight of the party behind the Disability Integration Act and instead we get the empty gesture of this council and still struggle to get Democrats in Congress onto our bill.” said Dawn Russell from Denver. “Too many disabled people are still forced into nursing facilities and other institutions and too many Democratic Party leaders have been doing almost nothing about it.”
When ADAPT activists showed up to disrupt the launch of the DNC Disability Council, Perez agreed to meet with them and stated that the DNC would be issuing a statement in support of DIA and would work with ADAPT and other organizations to better address issues of importance to the Disability Community.
“We’ve been here for the Democrats all year, fighting to save Medicaid and the ACA” said Rochester ADAPT member Ericka Jones “and then we’ve had to fight them just to get them to support our lives and liberty. It has been disheartening and exhausting. Frankly, Democrats who do not support legislation that would allow us to live in our own homes are no better than the Republicans; and they damage the party’s relationship to the Disability Community.”
The group was also frustrated that the DNC has not publicly condemned HR.620, a bill that would drastically undercut the Americans with Disabilities Act, and that eleven Democrats are sponsors of this bill.
“The ADA has been around for 27 years, which means businesses have had 27 years notice that they need to be accessible. We’ve waited long enough!” said Laura Halvorson of DC Metro ADAPT “For Democrats to even think of sponsoring this bill is appalling. Is anyone else required to endure a legal waiting period before they can have their civil rights be enforced? Absolutely not. And we shouldn’t either.”
ADAPT has proposed that the DNC coordinate a meeting with Congressional Leadership to get the Democratic cosponsors to withdraw their support for the bill. Recognizing that there are concerns from small business, the activists hope to work with Democrats on an alternative approach that will address the concerns while not undercutting the rights of Disabled Americans. The DNC also agreed to work to phase out Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act which allows Disabled workers to be paid less than minimum wage.

ADAPT’s history, the issues it is fighting for, and its activities can be found at www.adapt.org, the NationalADAPT Facebook page and on Twitter under the hashtag #ADAPTandRESIST.

SOURCE: ADAPT press release

In Madison Wis. Nearly 9 Percent of Students with Disabilities Restrained or Secluded in 2016-17 School Year

A report released this fall by the Madison Metropolitan School District said nearly nine percent of students with disabilities were restrained or secluded by staff during the last school year.

solid article by Amber C. Walker for The Cap Times | Nov 28, 2017                                             
The report showed that 334 of the 3,804 students with disabilities, or 8.8 percent, experienced restraint and/or seclusion during the 2016-2017 school year. That number is up from 5.6 percent in the 2015-2016 school year.

The number was disproportionately high at Landmark Elementary Alternative Program (LEAP) West, a program at Olson Elementary School for students with emotional-behavioral disabilities. LEAP West reported 737 incidents of restraint and/or seclusion among 10 students last school year.

MMSD’s report shows restraint and seclusion practices vary widely among schools, with some schools reporting less than five incidents and others reporting hundreds during the last school year. While some were troubled by the numbers, a national expert said MMSD’s training is in line with best practices around the country.

State law defines physical restraint as “a restriction that immobilizes or reduces the ability of a pupil to freely move his or her torso, arms, legs, or head,” and seclusion as “the involuntary confinement of a pupil, apart from other pupils, in a room or area from which the pupil is physically prevented from leaving.”

Wisconsin prohibits the use of mechanical restraints, or equipment meant to immobilize students.

Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham said in an emailed statement to the Cap Times that MMSD is committed to “inclusive education” and aims to decrease the use of restraint and seclusion in the district.

“When it comes to restraint and seclusion, my priority is to minimize its use to only when it is absolutely necessary to maintain safety,” Cheatham said.

Overall, 529 students, about 2 percent, were restrained and/or secluded in the 2016-2017 school year in 3,158 incidents across the district.

Restraint and seclusion occurrences were also high at Schenk Elementary School, with 32 students (12 with disabilities and 20 without) experiencing 288 occurrences of restraint and/or seclusion last year.

The highest number of incidents occurred in elementary schools, with 2,975 reports of restraint and/or seclusion among 405 students. Elementary schools account for over 94 percent of restraint and/or seclusion incidents.

Middle schools reported 99 occurrences of restraint and/or seclusion among 51 students. High schools reported 84 incidents among 73 students.

Although the restraint and seclusion report makes the distinction between students who have a disability and those who do not, it does not separate the data by race. The Cap Times has requested a more detailed report from MMSD.

Madison School Board vice president Anna Moffit said she is “deeply troubled” by the restraint and seclusion numbers, particularly in the alternative programs.
“Students of color, many of whom have already experienced significant trauma, are the primary recipients of these unjust methods,” Moffit said. “The use of exclusionary practices within our district, which includes physical force against our youngest, will only exacerbate the trauma of our most marginalized students. As a district, we must do better.”
Wisconsin districts are required to report to their school boards how often students are restrained and secluded each year.

In 2014, ProPublica found that underreporting of restraint and seclusion is common. Its research concluded that one-third of school districts did not report any use of restraint and/or seclusion in the 2011-2012 school year. ProPublica's analysis said that incidents of restraint and/or seclusion were used 267,000 times in the 2011-2012 school year, with MMSD accounting for 765 of those incidents.

MMSD’s restraint and seclusion report said the district had reduced incidents across the district by almost 11 percent since the 2015-2016 school year. The 2016-2017 school year marks the first time MMSD saw an overall reduction in the trend since 2012.

“We are pleased to see a decrease in our numbers, and will continue to work with staff, provide training and ensure those numbers keep going down,” Cheatham said.

While cases were down overall, the number of times students were restrained in elementary schools increased by 50 cases, up to 1,502 incidents from 1,452 in the 2015-2016 school year.

Madison School Board member Nicki Vander Meulen said in a statement emailed to the Cap Times that “the use of seclusion and restraint in public schools should only be used as a last resort… this is why the Behavior Education Plan needs to be reworked with a focus on positive interventions instead of punishment.”

MMSD implemented its Behavior Education Plan in 2014. The BEP aimed to reduce exclusionary discipline practices in favor of restorative approaches to school discipline by helping students understand behavioral expectations and correct their actions.

In August, MMSD released the results of an internal evaluation that showed the BEP was not meeting the district’s expectations. Students of color and students with disabilities are still overrepresented in school discipline data and out-of-school suspensions were on the rise in the latter part of the 2016-2017 school year.

The restraint and seclusion report said that MMSD is taking steps to “ensure appropriate use of restraint and seclusion.” All staff who use restraint and seclusion are required to complete a two-day crisis management intervention training meant to show them how to support students who are experiencing an emotional or behavioral escalation, and to prevent escalations from occurring.

John Harper, director of student services for MMSD, said the district provides follow-up CMI training and consultations for schools that have high occurrences of restraint and seclusion. MMSD uses an electronic data system to report and track such incidents.

Reece Peterson, emeritus professor of special education at the University of Nebraska- Lincoln whose research focuses on restraint and seclusion, said MMSD’s documentation and training around restraint and seclusion are in line with best practices across the country. However, school districts should be vigilant about staff using seclusion to discipline students, versus to de-escalate a dangerous situation.

“Most larger districts have policies, but it boils down to whether the policy is known to the staff, training is provided and the staff continues to abide by those policies,” he said.

“The issue is that sometimes… these procedures are used as disciplinary actions or punishment to the kids. That is seen, on a pretty widespread basis, as inappropriate use of these procedures.”

This year, the U.S. Department of Education required each state to submit a plan to comply with the Every Student Succeeds Act, the national education law.

Wisconsin’s plan detailed how it responds to “aversive behavioral interventions,” including restraint and seclusion. The plan said the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction supports districts by restricting the use of restraint and seclusion to situations where students are a physical threat to themselves or others. State law also mandates that schools report incidents to parents. DPI also provides professional development for schools to use data to monitor and reduce the practice.

Madison School Board policy says it “does not condone” the use of restraint and seclusion and its policy prohibits “corporal punishment and unreasonable use of physical force.”

However, the board recognizes that “it may be necessary for school personnel to use reasonable and appropriate restraint and/or seclusion when a student’s behavior presents a clear, present, and imminent risk to the physical safety of the student or others and it is the least restrictive intervention feasible.”

The Madison School Board policy also outlines procedures for employees practicing restraint and seclusion that mirror the state statute.

Disability Rights Wisconsin, Wisconsin Family Ties and the Wisconsin Family Assistance Center for Education,Training and Support collaborated over the last decade to encourage lawmakers to enact restraint and seclusion policies for students in schools and group homes throughout the state.

The coalition’s 2016 report compiled the number of restraint and seclusion incidents in Wisconsin school districts and included testimony from families who have experienced the practice.

Joanne Juhnke, policy director at Wisconsin Family Ties, said restraint and seclusion has the potential to create conflict between teachers and students.

“In addition to the concerns for physical harm and the emotional and relationship damage it does between the adult and the child, there is also the question of, ‘What are we teaching our kids when we use physical force to solve a problem?’”

Madison Metropolitan School District Restraint and Seclusion Report (PDF)


High Percentage of Gov't Websites Fail Security, and Accessibility Tests - 2017 Study Findings

Nov. 27, 2017- At least 91 percent of the most popular U.S. government websites are failing to perform in at least one key metric, including page load speed, user friendliness and security, according to a report from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation.

article by By Ray Downs for United Press International (UPI)                                                        
The ITIF report analyzed 500 government websites for its latest report. Two of the metrics looked at were desktop page-load speed and mobile page-load speed. Of the 500 websites, 63 percent of websites passed the test in desktop page-load speed, while only 27 percent passed the test for mobile page-load speed.

With almost three-quarters of government websites having slow mobile page-load speeds, navigating those sites is also a problem with only 61 percent of websites are mobile friendly, according to the report. Security is still a concern for some government websites, with only 71 percent passing the Secure Sockets Layer certificates test. However, that was a 4 percent improvement from the previous test conducted by ITIF.

"As more people go online for public services and as security threats continue to evolve, it is important for federal websites to be more convenient, accessible, and secure," ITIF research fellow Galia Nurko told FCW Magazine. "This report shows a significant amount of work left to be done to modernize federal websites and ensure that, as technology advances, federal websites improve in turn."

The ITIF report also found that 40 percent of government websites weren't accessible to people with disabilities.
"Issues with accessibility range from poor contrast on websites to a lack of labels, which may prevent the website from being easily navigated by someone using a screen reader, assistive technology commonly used by individuals who are blind," the report said.
To improve website security and use, ITIF recommended the federal government launch a website modernization sprint to fix known problems; require federal websites to meet basic desktop and mobile page-load speeds; launch a website consolidation initiative; require all federal agencies to report website analytics; appoint a federal CIO to lead federal IT modernization efforts; and encourage nonexecutive agencies and branches of government to adopt federal website standards and practices.

GAO Report Finds Improvements Needed for Expedited Processing of SSDI Disability Program Claims

Nov. 2017 - According to a recent GAO Report, the Social Security Administration (SSA) does not have a formal or systematic approach for designating certain medical conditions for the Compassionate Allowance initiative (CAL). CAL was established in 2008 to fast track claimants through the disability determination process who are likely to be approved because they have certain eligible medical conditions. In lieu of a formal process for identifying conditions for the list of CAL conditions, SSA has in recent years relied on advocates for individuals with certain diseases and disorders to bring conditions to its attention. However, by relying on advocates, SSA may overlook disabling conditions for individuals who have no advocates, potentially resulting in individuals with these conditions not receiving expedited processing. Further, SSA does not have clear, consistent criteria for designating conditions for potential CAL inclusion, which is inconsistent with federal internal control standards. As a result, external stakeholders lack key information about how to recommend conditions for inclusion on the CAL list.
To identify disability claims for expedited CAL processing, SSA primarily relies on software that searches for key words in claims. However, if claimants include incorrect or misspelled information in their claims the software is hindered in its ability to flag all claimants with CAL conditions or may flag claimants for CAL processing that should not be flagged. SSA has guidance for disability determination services (DDS) staff on how to manually correct errors made by the software, but the guidance does not address when such corrections should occur (see figure). Without clear guidance on when to make manual changes, DDS examiners may continue to take actions that are not timely and may hinder expedited processing for appropriate claims, and this can also impact the accurate tracking of CAL claims.
Social Security Administration Process to Identify Disability Claims for Compassionate Allowance Initiative (CAL) Processing

SSA has taken some steps to ensure the accuracy and consistency of decisions on CAL claims, including developing detailed descriptions of CAL conditions, known as impairment summaries. These summaries help examiners make decisions about whether to allow or deny a claim. However, nearly one-third of the summaries are 5 or more years old. Experts and advocates that GAO spoke to suggested that summaries should be updated every 1 to 3 years. This leaves SSA at risk of making disability determinations using medically outdated information. In addition, GAO found that SSA does not leverage data it collects to assess the accuracy and consistency of CAL adjudication decisions. Without regular analyses of available data SSA is missing an opportunity to ensure the accuracy and consistency of CAL decision-making.

Why GAO Did This Study

SSA in October 2008 implemented CAL to fast track individuals with certain conditions through the disability determination process by prioritizing their disability benefit claims. Since then, SSA has expanded its list of CAL conditions from 50 to 225. GAO was asked to review SSA's implementation of CAL.
This report examines the extent to which SSA has procedures for (1) designating CAL conditions, (2) identifying claims for CAL processing, and (3) ensuring the accuracy and consistency of CAL decisions. GAO reviewed relevant federal laws, regulations, and guidance; analyzed SSA data on disability decisions for CAL claims from fiscal years 2009 through 2016 and on CAL claims with manual actions in fiscal year 2016; reviewed a nongeneralizable sample of 74 claim files with fiscal year 2016 initial determinations; and interviewed medical experts, patient advocates, and SSA officials in headquarters and six DDS offices selected for geographic dispersion and varied CAL caseloads.

What GAO Recommends

GAO is making eight recommendations including that SSA develop a process to systematically gather information on potential CAL conditions, communicate criteria for designating CAL conditions, clarify guidance for manual corrections on CAL claims, update CAL impairment summaries, and use available data to ensure accurate, consistent decision-making. SSA agreed with GAO's recommendations.
For more information and to view the Full Report https://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-17-625

Feds Sue Springfield, Illinois for Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities

Nov. 28, 2017 -- The Justice Department today filed a lawsuit alleging that the City of Springfield, Illinois, has discriminated against persons with disabilities in violation of the Fair Housing Act. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois, alleges that Springfield’s zoning code treats small group homes for persons with disabilities less favorably than similarly-situated housing for people without disabilities. The department’s complaint further alleges that, even if the zoning code were valid, Springfield violated the Fair Housing Act by failing to grant an exception that would allow a three-person group home for individuals with disabilities to continue operating in a residential neighborhood.

“The Fair Housing Act prohibits cities from applying their zoning laws in a manner that discriminates against persons with disabilities,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore of the Civil Rights Division. “We will continue to vigorously enforce the Fair Housing Act’s prohibition on such discrimination.”

This case arose when the City of Springfield attempted to close a home with three residents with intellectual and physical disabilities because the home violated a 600-foot spacing requirement that applies to community residences for persons with disabilities. That spacing requirement does not apply to homes for up to five unrelated persons without disabilities. The small group home allowed two of the residents to move out of large institutions and live in an integrated community setting.

The lawsuit seeks a court order prohibiting Springfield from enforcing the spacing requirement against this home or similarly-situated homes for persons with disabilities elsewhere in the city. The lawsuit also seeks monetary damages to compensate victims, as well as payment of a civil penalty. A related case challenging Springfield’s spacing requirement was filed by the home’s service provider and one resident. The court in that case, A.D. ex rel. Valencia v. City of Springfield, issued a preliminary injunction against Springfield on Aug. 2, 2017. That ruling is now on appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing based on disability, race, color, religion, national origin, sex, and familial status. More information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is available at www.justice.gov/crt. Individuals who believe that they may have been victims of housing discrimination can call the Justice Department at 1-800-896-7743, e-mail the Justice Department at fairhousing@usdoj.gov(link sends e-mail), or contact the Department of Housing and Urban Development at 1-800-669-9777 or through its website at https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/fair_housing_equal_opp.

The complaint is an allegation of unlawful conduct. The allegations must still be proven in federal court.

SOURCE: Justice Department press release

Easterseals, Inc. Names Angela F. Williams as President and Chief Executive Officer

CHICAGO, Nov. 28, 2017 -- The Board of Directors of Easter Seals, Inc. (Easterseals) today announced the selection of Angela F. Williams as its President and Chief Executive Officer. In this role, Williams will lead the national organization as it approaches its 100th anniversary in 2019 as the country's leading nonprofit provider of services for people with disabilities, including Veterans, and their families.

"Angela's strong record of accomplishment as a leader and senior executive makes her the right person to lead Easterseals as we prepare to mark 100 years of responding to the needs of children and adults with disabilities throughout America," said Joe Kern, Chair, Easterseals National Board of Directors. "Her capacity to lead complex organizations will serve us well as we advance a strategic vision for our future in areas of priority including advocacy, network advancement, brand management and resource development in partnership with our national network of 72 affiliates which collectively serves 1.5 million people annually."

Williams has 30 years of leadership experience in the nonprofit and corporate sectors, most recently serving as Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Chief Administration Officer at YMCA of the USA (Y-USA), the national resource office for the Y, where she was instrumental in shaping strategy and developing resources to help 2,700 YMCAs across the country enhance outcomes for youth and families in 10,000 communities.

"I am excited to join Easterseals and collaborate with its affiliates nationwide to expand our collective impact and assure that more people with disabilities can live, learn, work and play in their communities," Williams said. "It is my honor to have the opportunity to lead Easterseals at the national level and build on its impressive legacy."

Williams began her professional career as an officer in the United States Air Force, serving in the Judge Advocate General's Corps., an experience foundational to her ethic of service. Just prior to joining Y-USA in 2006, Williams was the Interfaith Liaison for the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund, a nonprofit organization formed to provide critically needed donations to assist the survivors of Hurricane Katrina. In this capacity, she was responsible for understanding the impact of Katrina on the faith community and overseeing the processing of $25 million in grants to houses of worship. Among other leadership roles Williams has held: Vice President and Deputy General Counsel of Litigation and Government Relations for Sears Holdings Corporation, also serving as the company's Chief Compliance and Ethics Officer; Special Counsel on Criminal Law to Senator Edward M. Kennedy as a member of his Senate Judiciary Committee staff; Department of Justice prosecutor with the National Church Arson Task Force; and federal prosecutor in the United States Attorney's Office in the Middle District of Florida.

Williams is a 2005 Henry Crown Fellow of the Aspen Institute, a program committed to developing the next generation of community-spirited leaders by teaching them the values-based leadership skills needed to meet the challenges of corporate and civic leadership in the 21st century. Each year, 20 Crown Fellows are chosen from among young executives and professionals around the world who have already achieved considerable success in the private or public sector.

Ms. Williams will be the tenth person to lead Easterseals in the U.S. This distinction is enhanced by the fact that she is the first African American, and the first female within the past 41 years, to hold this post.

A native of Anderson, South Carolina, Williams earned a bachelor's degree in American government from the University of Virginia, a juris doctor from the University of Texas School of Law and a master's of divinity from the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology, Virginia Union University.

She resides in Chicago with her husband, the Reverend Roderick Williams.

Koya Leadership Partners assisted the Easterseals National Board of Directors and a search committee of Easterseals' Board and affiliate representatives in the national executive search.

About Easterseals

For nearly 100 years, Easterseals has been the indispensable resource for people and families living with disabilities. Through its work in communities across America, Easterseals is changing the way the world defines and views disability by making positive, profound differences in people's lives every day. Learn more at Easterseals.com.

SOURCE Easterseals press release

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Chicago Public Schools Asks State of Illinois to Help Reform Special Education Offerings

CHICAGO - Leaders at Chicago Public Schools are asking for the state’s help in reviewing and reforming its special education offerings, which they admit have been subject to “several problems” and are in need of “fundamental changes.”
article by Matt Masterson for WTTW PBS Chicago Tonight | November 27, 2017                               

District officials in a letter to the Illinois State Board of Education last week requested the creation of a new working group of special education experts and advocates to review CPS’ current approach.

“ISBE, as the official education standards-setting body in Illinois, is well-positioned to objectively sort through the myriad of issues and help lead a process that can ultimately improve both the understanding of CPS’ reforms and the actual provision of services to special education children, including the effectiveness of those services,” district CEO Forrest Claypool, Chief Education Officer Janice Jackson and Diverse Learner Chief Elizabeth Keenan wrote in the letter.

The request comes about a month after a WBEZ investigation revealed CPS used outside auditors to limit both its special education funding and services last year. The district has disputed the findings in that report – and continues to do so – but acknowledged in the letter that it “raised legitimate questions for the public.”

“From our perspective, CPS’ special education offerings have been subject to several problems over the years,” the letter states.

“As detailed in our own examination, we strongly believe that the status quo of past years is unacceptable, and that fundamental changes are necessary to ensure equity and the creation of what has been missing – a culture of accountability for the actual academic progress of children with disabilities.”

WBEZ stands by its reporting, in which it claimed one-on-one aides and busing were scaled back through a 2016 overhaul that made it more difficult for diverse learners to get necessary services.

Last year, CPS also implemented an unpopular process that forced schools to file an appeal in order to receive up to 4 percent of their special education funding that was automatically held back by the district. Citing feedback from principals, CPS dropped that policy from this year’s school budgets.

Earlier this month, more than a dozen local organizations including the Chicago Teachers Union, disability advocates Access Living and the Ounce of Prevention Fund sent their own joint letter to ISBE asking it to intervene with CPS’ special education programming and conduct its own investigation of WBEZ’s findings.

“We believe the situation may be so egregious that ISBE may be required following an investigation to appoint an outside expert to facilitate corrective action in relationship to the CPS special education program,” their letter states. “It should be expected that these recommendations may and most likely will include significant changes in CPS special education practices.”

Those groups outlined several issues they have with the district’s existing policies, claiming special and general education services are placed into direct competition for funding, and that special education budget items have been consolidated into larger buckets that “obscure (CPS') allocation of special education funds.”

CPS says it “welcome(s) this conversation,” but also attempted to rebut many of those claims in an appendix to its own letter.

The district says it wants the working group to begin meeting as soon as possible in order to provide final recommendations by next spring.

“Going forward, we know that CPS must be more inclusive and open to ongoing feedback,” the district letter states. “We welcome the opportunity to roll up our sleeves and work alongside those leaders and experts of goodwill who can help us achieve our common goal: to give all children, regardless of their needs, the opportunity to achieve their full potential in school and in life.”


MS Patients Who Adhere to Treatment Have Higher Health Costs-And Better Outcomes

CHICAGO, Nov. 27, 2017  -- Researchers examined the insurance claims and medical records of 681 patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) and found those who adhered to medication schedules had significantly better physical outcomes than patients who did not, although the total overall costs for their care were higher.

The findings, published in the December edition of The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, are considered significant because it is harder to assess treatment results for patients with MS than for those with other chronic illnesses, making it difficult to determine whether the treatment benefits justify their cost.

Researchers noted that the disease has few easily obtainable objective measures, like blood pressure or glucose levels. For patients with MS, disease activity is primarily measured through imaging studies, which can identify new lesions in the event of a relapse. Those studies are expensive and aren't routinely performed or captured in a quantitative fashion.
"Payers often look at near-term improvement to determine whether a treatment is effective and worth the cost," says Carl Hoegerl, DO, a neurologist at the Liberty University College of Osteopathic Medicine and a co-researcher on this study. "But the case for MS treatment becomes evident when you see that the rate of decline becomes much slower and less severe."
Comparing the experiences of MS patients with high adherence to treatments to those with low adherence, the study found patients with highest adherence reported the disease's physical impact as 14 percent less severe and the psychological impact 17 percent less severe. Patients with high adherence also rated their level of disability 12 percent lower and believed their treatments to be 7 percent more effective.

Dr. Hoegerl said that patients with untreated MS face a sharper decline in their ability to walk and move. They can also experience pain, numbness and tingling in their extremities.

MS is the most common cause of neurologic disability in adults, with about 135 cases per 100,000 Americans. About 12,000 new cases of MS are reported annually. While there is no cure, 12 FDA-approved treatments are currently available for patients with the disease.
"As an osteopathic physician, I'm focused on partnering with patients to achieve their health goals, which for most MS patients involves maintaining their physical functions for as long as possible," said Dr. Hoegerl. "We know that proper treatment of MS improves the quality of patients' lives and extends them to almost the length of the average person."
The study was conducted at Geisinger Health System, an integrated delivery system in central and northeastern Pennsylvania that includes an insurance provider, Geisinger Health Plan. The study included adults whose records included MS diagnostic codes and medication orders for MS therapies.

The two phase study of patients from January 1, 2004 to December 31, 2013 included a retrospective analysis of electronic health records and insurance claims plus a prospective analysis of self-reported medication adherence. The health outcomes considered included inpatients admission, emergency room visits, outpatient appointments and health care costs. All-cause versus MS-related costs were calculated separately, with all costs adjusted for inflation to 2013 dollars.

Editor's Note: The authors reported no financial disclosures. This study was supported by an institutional research grant from Biogen.

About The Journal of the American Osteopathic AssociationThe Journal of the American Osteopathic Association (JAOA) is the official scientific publication of the American Osteopathic Association. Edited by Robert Orenstein, DO, it is the premier scholarly peer-reviewed publication of the osteopathic medical profession. The JAOA's mission is to advance medicine through the publication of peer-reviewed osteopathic research.

SOURCE American Osteopathic Association press release 

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Chicago CTA 2017 HOLIDAY TRAIN & BUS SCHEDULE, with accessible services included

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) holiday trains and bus are a holiday tradition unique to Chicago, and in 2017 are sponsored by Jewel-Osco!
The Jewel-Osco CTA Holiday Train is a six-car train decked out in lights, holiday prints and comes complete with Santa on a sleigh in the middle of the train, bringing holiday cheer across the city and neighboring communities our rail system serves. On Saturdays, a similarly-decorated Jewel-Osco CTA Elves' Workshop Train also now joins and follows the first to help ensure everyone has a chance to enjoy this exciting tradition.
Complementing these two festive trains is the Jewel-Osco CTA Holiday Bus, which brings the same holiday spirit and joy to bus riders as it travels throughout Chicago’s neighborhoods.

CTA Holiday Trains / Bus 2016

YouTube published by CTAConnections

Jewel-Osco CTA Holiday Train and Elves' Workshop Train.

What few may realize is that the Jewel-Osco CTA Holiday Train serves two very important purposes: to deliver joy and the holiday spirit to thousands of riders and also to deliver food baskets to various charitable agencies throughout the city.
The Holiday Train tradition began on the Blue Line in 1992 when a “Season’s Greetings from the CTA” sign was placed on the front of an out-of-service train that was used to deliver food to various charities. Over the years, this holiday tradition has evolved from its modest and humble beginnings to a spectacular, joyous sight to see – in daytime or nighttime.
Today, as the train pulls into each station, Santa waves to the boarding riders from his sleigh on an open-air flatcar carrying his reindeer and decorated holiday trees.
Both the Jewel-Osco CTA Holiday Train and the Jewel-Osco CTA Elves’ Workshop Train are wrapped with holiday and seasonal images. Outside, thousands of twinkling lights outline the shape of the train and windows, with even more lights running across the tops of the cars.
Strands of multi-colored lights are also strung inside the two trains along with red bows, garland, red and green overhead lighting and hand poles wrapped to look like candy canes. Riders will be greeted by Santa’s elves with plenty of candy canes for good boys and girls.

Charity food delivery
Our family continues its more-than-25-year tradition of supporting Chicago communities. Each year employees donate their time and money to purchase groceries and assemble food baskets for delivery to community organizations across the city. This year, we'll donate hundreds of food baskets to local community organizations.
Each food basket contains all the ingredients for a complete meal including a canned ham, potatoes, mixed vegetables, muffin mix, macaroni and cheese, fruit cocktail, green beans, corn and dessert.
Travel Tips
Both the train and bus are in-service vehicles that operate as part of regular service; therefore, they cannot dwell at stations/stops for long periods of time. While every effort is made to accommodate riders, space is limited and boarding is not guaranteed.
To ensure everyone has an opportunity to see and take part in this annual tradition, here are a few suggested tips to make the most of your experience:
  • Plan ahead and allow extra travel time. You can also track the whereabouts of Santa using CTA Train Tracker, which will indicate the Holiday Train with a candy cane.
  • Travel light: with many families making the train a part of their holiday traditions, small collapsible strollers are encouraged so that you and others have an opportunity to board the train.
  • Boarding: the train/bus will become more crowded as it travels down its route; therefore, we recommend customers consider the following:
    • Board at a station/stop close to the beginning of the route. Unlike other in-service trains/buses, many people who board the train or bus often stay on board until it reaches the end of its route—and will then take it back home if it is scheduled to make a return trip.
    • Train (Only): rail cars toward the front or back of the train will be less crowded compared to those immediately adjacent to Santa’s sleigh.
  • Taking photos: see schedules for scheduled photo sessions with Santa. When taking photos while the train and bus are in service, we recommend the following:
    • Train: if you are planning to ride the train and take photos from a station platform, don’t miss your opportunity to board the train! Board the train first and then plan to take photos of Santa or the train when exiting at your destination.
    • Bus: riders who wish to take photos with Santa on board the bus are encouraged to do so only when the vehicle is stopped and ideally just before exiting the through rear doors.  
VISIT Transit Chicago for schedule info,Trip Planner, and more: http://www.transitchicago.com/ 

Accessible transit

 The CTA offers a range of features and services to provide transit that's accessible to people with disabilities. In short:
  • 100% of vehicles (both buses and railcars) are accessible.
  • 102 of 145 rail stations are accessible.
Though more than two thirds of CTA's system is now accessible and key station upgrade requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act have long been met, multiple projects are under way make more of our stations fully accessible. The CTA also has been developing a roadmap to bringing our system to 100% accessibility! Read about CTA All Stations Accessibility Program (ASAP).
VISIT the CTA Accessible Transit webpage for more information, and services!

Chicago area Paratransit service is provided by PACE Suburban Bus Service, for Paratransit information: CLICK HERE.

Train Schedule
The Jewel-Osco CTA Holiday Train will travel all 'L' lines in late November and December as part of regular rail service. Normal CTA fares apply.
The train generally operates from about 1pm to 8pm on weekends and 3pm to 7pm on select weekdays (schedules for each rail line will vary), and will make stops at all stations along the respective routes. And every Saturday the Holiday Train is in service, additional Jewel-Osco CTA Elves' Workshop Train will follow to allow more to enjoy this one of a kind holiday experience.
Listed below are the dates that Santa will be taking photos on CTA’s Holiday Train.

Saturday - December 2, 2017 
Brown Line Kimball – 11:15am -12:15pm
Orange Midway – 2:45pm – 4:15pm

Saturday - December 9, 2017 (Blue/Pink)
Pink Line 54th  - 12:45pm – 1:30pm
Blue Line Forest Park – 2:30pm – 3:15pm
Blue Line O’Hare – 5:30pm – 6:30pm

Saturday – December 16, 2016 (Red/Purple/Yellow)
Red Line Howard – 11:15 – 12:00pm
Red Line 95th  - 1:45pm – 2:30pm
Purple Line Linden – 4:45pm – 5:30pm

2017 Detailed Jewel-Osco CTA Holiday Train Schedule
Follow date links, where available, for detailed schedules (posted as they become available).
Red Line11/18 - Sat
Green Line & Orange Line11/24 - Fri
photo dayGreen Line11/25 - Sat*
Green Line & Orange Line11/28 - Tue
Orange Line Brown Line11/29 - Wed
Orange Line Brown Line11/30 - Thu
Orange Line Brown Line12/1 - Fri
photo dayOrange Line Brown Line12/2 - Sat*
Pink Line12/5 - Tue
Pink Line12/6 - Wed
Blue Line12/7 - Thu
Blue Line12/8 - Fri
photo dayBlue Line (+ photo-only stop on Pink Line)12/9 - Sat*
Red Line12/12 - Tue
Purple Line12/13 - Wed
Red Line12/14 - Thu
Purple Line12/15 - Fri
photo dayRed Line & Purple Line12/16 - Sat*
Purple Line12/21 - Thu
Yellow Line12/22 - Fri
photo dayPhotos with Santa;
*Jewel-Osco CTA Elves' Workshop Train in service and directly following the Jewel-Osco CTA Holiday Train

Jewel-Osco CTA Holiday Bus

Day or night, the CTA commutes of thousands and the streets of Chicago’s neighborhoods are made merry with the Jewel-Osco CTA Holiday Bus. Now in its fourth year of operation, CTA employees transformed a 60-foot bus into a winter wonderland as a way to say “thank you” to customers and bring added cheer this holiday season.
The exterior wrap features “Ralphie the Reindeer” leading the way with his crimson nose aglow and Santa’s sleigh in tow. Strings of lights outline the bus and its windows, while Ralphie is brought to life with 3-D antlers atop the bus and a ruby light affixed to the front of the bus.  
Inside, the bus features multi-colored lights, holiday-themed seating, candy-cane striping, and one-of-a-kind artwork created by students from Skinner West  Elementary. In the very back of the bus is Santa and his workshop, which serves as the perfect setting for the scheduled photo sessions with Santa

2017 Detailed Jewel-Osco CTA Holiday Bus Schedule
NOTE: schedule times are approximate and subject to change.
RouteDate in ServiceDeparture Times(coming soon)
#56 Milwaukee

Tue 11/28
photo day
Wed 11/29
#92 Foster
#91 Austin
Thu 11/30
#22 Clarkphoto day
Fri 12/1
#22 Clark#97 Skokiephoto daySat 12/2
#66 Chicagophoto day
Tue 12/5
Wed 12/6
#126 Jacksonphoto day
Thu 12/7
#12 Rooseveltphoto day
Fri 12/8
Sat 12/9
#29 Statephoto day
Wed 12/13
Thu 12/14
#28 Stony Islandphoto day
Fri 12/15
#62 Archerphoto day
Sat 12/16
Sun 12/17
#X49 Western Exp.photo day
Wed 12/20
#79 79thphoto day
Thu 12/21
#3 King DriveFri 12/22
photo day
Sat 12/23

photo day= Photos with Santa

VISIT Transit Chicago for schedule info,Trip Planner, and more: http://www.transitchicago.com/ 


SOURCE: Chicago Transit Authority; misc.