Sunday, November 30, 2008

Lawsuit for Dorm Rights in Michigan

MICHIGAN, The Detroit News—

The Michigan Protection and Advocacy Service is suing Oakland University on behalf of Micah Fialka-Feldman, a 24 year old with mild cognitive impairment. Fialka-Feldman attends courses and participates in campus life through the special program, but is not a student officially admitted to the University. The Michigan Protection and Advocacy Service says Oakland University should permit him to reside in the dorms as a reasonable accommodation, and is in violation of the federal Fair Housing Act and Rehabilitation Act by not doing so.

According to the Detroit News, the program Fialka-Feldman attends “… was designed for college-age students with cognitive disabilities who couldn't be admitted to Oakland under the regular admissions standards”. Through the three-year program, participating individual develop social, vocational and independent living skills.


Disability Advocacy Group Sues Oakland University Over Student Dorm Issue

Oakland U Sued in Dorm Case


The documentary and website, “Through the Same Door” chronicles Fialka-Feldman’s search for inclusive housing.

Disability Nation’s article, “Battle for Inclusion” includes an interview with Fialka-Feldman and his family as well at YouTube clips:

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veteran's Day Lawsuit for the VA

The Vietnam Veterans of America and Veterans of Modern Warfare file a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Washington today against the Department of Veterans Affairs in hopes of requiring the VA to provide 90-day initial rulings on disability benefits disability benefits within 90 days and 180-day appeal resolutions. Together, the Vietnam Veterans of America and Veterans of Modern Warfare groups represent about 60,000 veterans.

The President of the Vietnam Veterans of America says delayed claims give the impression the nation does not respect veterans. Currently, initial claims decision wait times average about six months, while appeals can take up to four years to be resolved. The VA is currently handling 600,000 pending claims.

In addition to time limits on claim decisions, the veteran’s groups seek interim benefits for veterans whose claims cannot be decided within the 90/180 day limits of about $356 monthly for a single veteran without dependents. Lisette Mondello, Assistant Secretary for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs says, “The Department of Justice handles litigation issues in the U.S. District Court for the VA… the VA has made considerable improvements in claims adjudication and continues to do so. It is a key priority for the VA."

Obama's "Plan to Empower Americans with Disabilities"

The American Association for People with Disabilities (AAPD) reports on the four core themes of President Barack Obama’s Plan to Empower Americans with Disabilities:

  1. Providing Americans with Disabilities Educational Opportunities including full federal funding for IDEA, improving college opportunities, and improving transition
  2. Ending Discrimination and Promoting Equality of Opportunity for People with Disabilities by implementing the ADA Amendments Act and Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act, judicial appointments, increasing enforcement funding, and by improving access to health care, including mental health care
  3. Increasing the Employment Rate of Workers with Disabilities by improving federal hiring and federal contractor hiring, creating a national commission to look at Social Security work disincentives, and by promoting workplace flexibility
  4. Supporting Independent, Community-based Living for Americans with Disabilities by passing Community Choice Act and CLASS Act, implementing the Olmstead decision, protecting voting rights, fixing Medicare "homebound" rules, improving access to technology, and by strengthening the VA

Early in his campaign, Barack Obama responded to an AAPD questionnaire developed and submitted with the National Council on Independent Living, ADAPT, and Self Advocates Becoming Empowered. Obama will have a full-time Assistant to the President for Disability Policy in the White House Domestic Policy Council to carry out his disability Plan.

To work with President-Elect Obama on disability-related concerns during his transition and in his administration, AAPD is creating a talent bank of interested AAPD members. Send Resumes to

Monday, November 10, 2008

Spotlight on VSA Arts

Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith founded VSA Arts as an international nonprofit organization in 1974 to create a society for people with disabilities to learn about, participate in and enjoy the arts. VSA Arts is affiliated with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. VSA Arts includes teaching support materials and an Artist’s Registry- a database of artists with disabilities.Location: 818 Connecticut Ave. N.W., Suite 600, Washington, D.C. 20006(P) 202-628-2800, 800-933-8721 (F) 202-429-0868 (TDD) 202-737-0645Online:
To view the online exhibit, “Art, Disability, and Expression”, visit:

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Pres-Elect Obama Mentions Disability in Acceptance Speech

President-Elect Barack Obama mentioned people with disabilities in his acceptance speech Tuesday night:

"If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dreams of our founders are alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer… It is the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled, Americans who send a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of individuals or a collection of red states and blue states - we are and always will be the United States of America."

Despite his lack of person-first language, his recognition of people with disabilities as part of America's diversity is noteworthy.

For a Full Text Transcript of the speech, go to:

For You Tube videos of the speech, go to:

Monday, November 3, 2008

Tuesday November 4th is Election Day

For a quick view of candidate disability policy statements, please visit:

Obama/Biden Disability Issues Statement:

Obama/Biden Disability Plan Fact Sheet:

Obama/Biden Disability Community Group Discussion Posts:

McCain/Palin Disability Statement:
** Senator McCain’s official website does not contain a separate disability policies document and does not maintain a disability-related community discussion board.

National Campaign for Fair Elections:

National Disability Rights Network: Election Day Resources for Voters with Disabilities

For assistance in voting with a disability, call: 1-866-OUR-VOTE