Saturday, December 5, 2009

EEOC Jurisdiction for GINA Title II

WASHINGTON, DC-- The recent US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission press release, “Historic Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act Takes Effect”, explains the EEOC’s enforcement role and responsibilities under Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), marking the first legislative expansion of EEOC jurisdiction since the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed in 1990.

GINA has critical implications for people with genetically-determined disabilities and people with family histories of genetic conditions. In particular, according to the EEOC, "an employer may never use genetic information to make an employment decision because genetic information doesn't tell the employer anything about someone's current ability to work."

The US EEOC website has a number of other disability-related features and information, too. For information on “Pandemic Preparedness (H1N1) in the Workplace and the Americans with Disabilities Act, please visit: http://www.eeoc.gov/facts/pandemic_flu.html. For full text of The Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 and the EEOC Notice of Proposed Rule Making, visit: http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/statutes/adaaa_info.cfm. And, of particular interest to families and friends of people with significant disabilities who have care giving responsibilities, “Employer Best Practices for Workers with Caregiving Responsibilities”, at http://www.eeoc.gov/policy/docs/caregiver-best-practices.html provides general and area-specific guidance and recommendations for employers.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Capitol Insider Announcements

From the ARC/UCP Capitol Insider
Volume 14, Issue 46November 23, 2009

International Paralympics

The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) voted on November 20 to reinstate eligibility for athletes who have intellectual disabilities (ID) to participate in the Paralympics. Since 2001, athletes with ID have been banned from participation in the Paralympics due to violations by a Spanish basketball squad which included players who did not have ID. The DPC wrote a letter to the U.S. Paralympic Division of the U.S. Olympic Committee urging that they vote "yes" for the reinstatement. (It is not known at this time how the US voted; but the USPC had been urging a "no" vote.) See the IPC's press release at:
http://www.paralympic.org/Media_Centre/News/General_News/2009_11_21_a.html

Immigration

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today announced that it has established a streamlined, standardized process for receiving requests for accommodations from customers with disabilities. Customers in need of accommodations from field offices and Application Support Centers should now call the National Customer Service Center (NCSC) at 1-800-375-5283 (TDD: 1-800-767-1833).

Thursday, November 19, 2009

One Step Closer to Eliminating the "R-Word"

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On November 17, Senators Barbara A. Mikulski (Democrat- Maryland) and Michael B. Enzi (Republican-Wyoming) introduced Rosa’s Law, a bill designed to eliminate the terms “mental retardation” and “mentally retarded” from most federal usage. Rosa’s Law, named after one of Mikulski’s young constituents in Maryland who has Down’s syndrome, requires the use of the terms “intellectual disabilities” and “person with an intellectual disability” in place of the older, stigmatizing terms. The Maryland State Assembly recently passed a similar bill.


About 6 million adults and children have an intellectual disability. Several other laws still use “mental retardation” and “mentally retarded”, including No Child Left Behind, The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and the current health care reform legislation under consideration.


SOURCE:

Rosa's Law to End Term 'Mentally Retarded'

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/rosas-law-asks-senate-kill-slur-mentally-retarded/story?id=9109319&page=2

RELATED:

What's in a name? Legislation would end use of the term 'mental retardation'

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/booster_shots/2009/11/whats-in-a-name-legislation-would-end-use-of-the-term-mental-retardation.html

Senators Propose Replacing ‘Mental Retardation’ With ‘Intellectual Disability’

http://www.disabilityscoop.com/2009/11/17/intellectual-disability-bill/6224/

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

SuperFreakonomics and Superficial Facts: A Defense of the ADA


Hello everyone-- the post below is a bit longer than usual for DI, but it is important. It's a reprint of a guest blog post invited by the Center for Progressive Reform, a think tank in Washington, DC, for their own blog. Visit: http://www.progressivereform.org

The commentary is by Thomas Tolin, Assistant Professor of Economics at West Chester University, and Martin Patwell, Director of the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities at WCU.

SuperFreakonomics and Superficial Facts: A Defense of the ADA

In the recently published SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance the authors, Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, make the following claim: (p. 138-139)

As we wrote earlier, the law of unintended consequences is among the most potent laws in existence… Consider the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which was intended to safeguard disabled workers from discrimination. A noble intention, yes? Absolutely--but the data convincingly show that the net result was fewer jobs for Americans with disabilities. Why? After the ADA became law, employers were so worried they wouldn’t be able to discipline or fire bad workers who had a disability that they avoided hiring such workers in the first place.

We reject this argument. It is a simplification of the literature that undermines civil rights legislation for individuals with disabilities.

The starting point for this narrative is an article by Tom DeLeire (Journal of Human Resources, 2000). DeLeire concludes that following passage of the ADA there was a 7.2% decrease in the employment rates of men with disabilities relative to that of men without disabilities. DeLeire cites unpublished research by Acemoglu and Angrist to support his opposition to the ADA. Acemoglu and Angrist (Journal of Political Economy, 2001) estimate statistically significant decreases in weeks worked for younger workers with disabilities following enforcement of the law.

We agree that employment for individuals with disabilities decreased during the 1990's relative to employment of individuals without disabilities, but we do not agree that the ADA was the primary cause of this decline. To begin, the ADA was not altogether a new innovation. Following the 1973 Rehabilitation Act, eighteen states had passed ADA-style laws prior to passage of the ADA in 1990. Another twenty-nine states had anti-discrimination laws protecting individuals with disabilities, though they did not require the 'reasonable accommodations' provision found in the ADA. Only three states had no legal protections for individuals with disabilities.

Jolls and Prescott (Harvard Law and Economics Discussion Paper No. 496, 2005) use these differences between state legal regimes to study the employment effects of the ADA. They conclude that the ADA had a negative effect on employment of individuals with disabilities in states that lacked a 'reasonable accommodations' provision, but that this effect lasted only two years. They write:

Our results clearly support a causal relationship between the ADA and declines in disabled employment in the years immediately following the law’s enactment, but beyond that period our findings—contrary to the existing work by DeLeire and by Acemoglu and Angrist—indicate that disabled employment declines do not appear to be causally linked to the ADA.

There are at least two alternative explanations for the downward trend in relative employment among individuals with disabilities during the 1990s. First, eligibility requirements were relaxed in the mid-1980s for Supplemental Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). More individuals with disabilities chose not to work, and this is "a much more plausible explanation ... for the decline in the relative employment of working-age men and women with disabilities since then." (Burkhauser, Houtenville, and Rovba, p 30).

Second, the 'reasonable accommodations' provision of the ADA lowered barriers to higher education. This may have increased enrollment in postsecondary institutions by students with disabilities while simultaneously decreasing employment for this group. Jolls (2004) tests this hypothesis with Current Population Survey data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and finds some evidence supporting it: The return-to-school effect is significant in the three states with no prior legal protections for individuals with disabilities.

The return-to-school theory is consistent with Acemoglu and Angrist’s finding that the negative employment effects of the ADA were more pronounced for the 21-39 age group. It also is supported by national data from the National Center for Education Statistics: "In 1994, approximately 45 percent of persons 16 or older who reported having a disability had either attended some college or had a bachelor’s degree or higher. In contrast, 29 percent had reported doing so in 1986…" To the degree that the ADA increased educational opportunities, it has been a success.

One of the most remarkable facts about the debate surrounding the employment effects of the ADA is that employment increased during the 1990's for individuals with disabilities who claimed to be employable. According to the 2000 Harris Survey of Americans with Disabilities, there was “a significant increase in the percentage of people with disabilities who are able to work and are working, from 46% in 1986 to 56% today.” (p 28) Given that the ADA's employment provisions only protect workers who are able to work, on its own terms the law is a success.

In our opinion, a fair reading of the literature would conclude that the employment effects of the ADA are much more positive than the authors of SuperFreakonomics want readers to believe, but Levitt and Dubner ignore the complexities. They simply discredit government, even though that means rejecting legislative attempts to secure civil rights and protection from discrimination for individuals with disabilities.

Thankfully, this view certainly is not popular in the U.S. Congress. Last year, by a 420-17 vote, the Congress passed the ADA Amendments Act of 2008. Posted at the Department of Labor's website, one finds the following:

The ADAAA, Pub. L. 110-325, is intended to overturn a series of Supreme Court decisions that interpreted the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 in a way that made it difficult to prove that an impairment is a "disability." The ADAAA makes significant changes to the ADA's definition of "disability" that broadens the scope of coverage under both the ADA and Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act.

In effect, the 2008 Congress said that the preceding decades had proved the point that discrimination against people with disabilities was intentional, purposeful and wrong, and that even our most respected judicial body could err where elements of civil rights and market forces clash. It would be a travesty to leave the task of promoting inclusiveness and diversity to the ‘science’ of economic positivism and to long-run, ‘rational’ market forces. Ending discrimination now is a struggle that requires a clear government mandate such as the ADA.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Jordan Thomas- CNN Top 10 Hero

Jordan Thomas was recently chosen as one of this year's "Top 10 CNN Heroes" for his work with the Jordan Thomas Foundation, which he founded at age 16 and has since raised more than $400,000 to provide prosthetics for children in need. Thomas, a double amputee himself, will be awarded $25,000 - and is eligible for the $100,000 award that will be bestowed upon the CNN Hero of the Year later this month at a star-studded gala in Hollywood. You can read more about Thomas' journey from his accident to his life's work at CNN.com/Heroes. On the CNN Heroes fan page, you can grab a voting widget (to vote for Jordan!). Voting is open until November 18th.

CNN Heroes: www.CNN.com/Heroes

Monday, November 2, 2009

President Signs Hate Crimes Bill

CBS NEWS (10/28/09):

President Barack Obama on Wednesday signed and celebrated hate crime legislation that extends protection to people based on sexual orientation, sealing a long-fought victory to gay advocates. The new law expands federal hate crimes to include those committed against people because of gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. It also loosens limits on when federal law enforcement can intervene and prosecute crimes, amounting to the biggest expansion of the civil-rights era law in decades.

Obama said in East Room reception, surrounded by joyous supporters, "No one in America should be forced to look over their shoulder because of who they are, or because they live with a disability."

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

New Disability Studies Program

WASHINGTON, DC-- Georgetown University is launching a new interdisciplinary disability studies (IDSP) program through the School of Continuing Studies and The Center for Child and Human Development, according to The Hoya, the University newspaper. The new program includes three tracks- developmental disabilities, early intervention, and mental health systems of care for children of youth. The new program is expected to begin in September 2010.

SOURCE:
GU to Launch Disability Studies Program in 2010
http://www.thehoya.com/news/gu-launch-disability-studies-program-2010/

Obama Proclamation on Awareness Month

WASHINGTON, DC--
President Barack Obama made the following comments recently for National Disability Employment Awareness Month, encouraging the Federal government to take a more proactive leadership role in employing persons with disabilities:

"My Administration is committed to ensuring that all Americans have the chance to fulfill their potential and contribute to our nation. …Across this country, millions of people with disabilities are working or want to work, and they should have access to the support and services they need to succeed. As the nation’s largest employer, the Federal Government and its contractors can lead the way by implementing effective employment policies and practices that increase opportunities and help workers achieve their full potential. We must also rededicate ourselves to fostering an inclusive work culture that welcomes the skills and talents of all qualified employees. That’s why I’ve asked the responsible agencies to develop new plans and policies to help increase employment across America for people with disabilities."


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

T. Alan Hurwitz New Gallaudet President


Gallaudet University has selected T. Alan Hurwitz as its 10th president. Hurwitz is currently President of the National Technical Institute for the Deaf at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Hurwitz is a longtime state and national level leader. While president of the National Association of the Deaf, he formed the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Alliance, the National Association of the Deaf Youth Leadership position, and established the International Week of the Deaf in conjunction with World Federation of the Deaf, among other achievements. Hurwitz will take his new office at Gallaudet in January 2010, follwoing Robert Davila, Gallaudet President since 2007.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Lynnae Ruttledge New RSA Commissioner


President Barack Obama has appointed Lynnae Ruttledge as the new RSA Commissioner. She previously served as the Executive Director of the Washington Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. Ms. Ruttledge has also worked in the public and non-profit sectors in Michigan, Oregon and Washington, working in critical areas including policy development, program management, independent living, workforce development, and business leadership networks.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Hate Crime Protection for People with Disabilities Closer

WASHINGTON, DC— Hate crime protection for people with disabilities and others, including people who are gay or have a gender identity disorder, is one step closer to reality. In a highly controversial move, House and Senate negotiators agreed to attach the hate-crimes provision to the bill outlining the $680 billion Defense Department budget. The defense bill passed with 281 votes in favor and 131 Republicans and 15 Democrats in opposition. To see the exact results of the House vote, visit: http://politics.nytimes.com/congress/votes/111/house/1/770.

A recent Department of Justice report indicated people with disabilities are 50% more likely to experience violent crime than people without disabilities. About 20% of people with disabilities who have been targets of crime thought their disability was the reason criminal targeted them.

SOURCES
House Adds Hate Crimes Protections for People with Disabilities
http://www.disabilityscoop.com/2009/10/09/house-votes-hate-crimes/5734/
House Votes to Expand Hate Crimes Definition
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/09/us/politics/09hate.html?hp
House Adds Hate Crimes Protections for People with Disabilitieshttp://www.disabilityscoop.com/2009/10/09/house-votes-hate-crimes/5734/

Monday, October 5, 2009

Seclusion and Restraint Survey


The Alliance to Prevent Restraint, Aversive Interventions and Seclusion (APRAIS), a coalition of 17 national disability advocacy organizations, is conducting a survey of parents and guardians. Responses must be entered by October 12.

The survey investigates the extent to which restraint, seclusion and aversive procedures have been used with students with disabilities and special needs in public or private schools or in residential facilities. Plan 5-10 minutes to complete the survey.

To participate, go to: http://www.lifewithoutlimits.org/site/R?i=85dfJ8h0Hg1tmk8EVATKtw..

Legislative Updates

From the NRCA Capitol Insider:
AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT
Last week, the EEOC released draft regulations to implement employment provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA). A 60-day public comment period is open before the regulations become final. The draft regulations can be found at: http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2009/pdf/E9-22840.pdf

MEDICARE-OUTPATIENT
The House approved the Medicare Premium Fairness Act, (H.R. 3631), a one year fix to avert a premium increase on Medicare Part B. Its $.2.8 billion cost will be offset by cuts to the Medicare Improvements Program.

SPECIAL EDUCATION-NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND
Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced the start of development of legislation to replace the No Child Left Behind Act. The Secretary expects public and school officials will provide input, but Congress is unlikely to consider reauthorization until next year.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

People with Disabilities on H1N1 Priority List



WASHINGTON, DC-- Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, announced the H1N1 vaccine would likely be available for priority groups by October 5th and certainly no later than October 15th.

Priority vaccine recipients include:
  • People age 25-64 with underlying medical conditions such as cognitive disabilities, cerebral palsy and other neuromuscular disorders, respiratory conditions, diabetes, and more.

  • Paid and unpaid health care workers and direct support professionals and parents caring for individuals with underlying medical conditions.

Visit http://www.flu.gov/ for more information.

FY 2010 Appropriations Update- Housing, Transport

WAHINGTON, DC-- On 17 September, the Senate passed H.R. 3288 , the FY 2010 Transportation-Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies appropriations bill. In housing, the bill provides a $15 million increase for Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities. Section 811 provides affordable and accessible housing units for persons with disabilities who have extremely low incomes. In transportation, the New Freedom program expanding transportation options for people with disabilities was level-funded. However, Section 5310, serving people with disabilities and the elderly with their transportation needs, increased by $7.2 million.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Abuse Cited as Cause for Murder-Suicide

OAKLAND— Diana Harden, age 64, fatally shot her daughter Yvette, age 43, and then herself Sunday night at Oakland Springs Health Center in Oakland, California. Yvette resided at the skilled nursing facility for 6 years, after being serious injured in a car accident that left her with a traumatic brain injury and quadriplegia 15 years earlier. Prior to residing at Oakland Springs Health Center, Yvette had lived briefly at home and then in a series of nursing facilities.

According to a letter Diana Harden sent to the Oakland ABC news channel ABC 7 prior to the shootings, her daughter had begged her to end her life due to unremitting abuse she suffered at the facility. The local news channel checked state records and found 54 complaints against the nursing home last year, 29 of them substantiated. Pat McGinnis of California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, said, "If nothing else, let's heed this mother's cry and say 'let's do something not just about the people that are in nursing homes, but let's do something about keeping people out of nursing homes in the first place.” Police continue to investigate.

SOURCES:
Mother’s Letter Explains Murder-Suicide
http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=news/iteam&id=7014866
Murder Suicide at Oakland Nursing Home
http://www.mercurynews.com/breaking-news/ci_13333239
Mother kills disabled daughter, self in apparent murder-suicide at Oakland nursing home
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/wire/sns-ap-us-nursing-home-murder-suicide,0,5577715.story

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Recommended Blog!

DI recommends "The Deal With Disability" at http://thedealwithdisability.wordpress.com/!
The blog is written by Eva, a woman with a signficant disability. She says, "I have Cerebral Palsy, which for me means I can’t walk, speak, or use muscles in traditional ways. I use a power wheelchair to get around and spell out what I want to say on a letterboard. This blog will be videos of people treating me bizarrely. My video camera is mounted to my wheelchair (very discreetly) and I basically just press record whenever I go out and then edit the good stuff for you! I will then write my comments on the event, which is usually what was playing in my inner monologue while these insensitive people were talking."

Eva's blog is a VERY powerful commentary on life with a significant disability and power of words and images in exploring her experience. DI will be adding "The Deal with Disability" to the "Links" section at the bottom of the page. Cheers, Eva!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Former Texas Rehab Provider Convicted, Sentenced


(HOUSTON) - James Earl Dunn Jr., 39, former owner and operator of Rehab Specialist Inc. (RSI), has been sentenced to 33 months confinement in federal prison by United States District Judge Lee Rosenthal for submitting more than $300,000 in fraudulent claims against the government, United States Attorney Tim Johnson announced today. The sentence was handed down late yesterday evening.

Dunn received contracts from the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS), formerly known as the Texas Rehabilitation Commission, from funds awarded by the U.S. Department of Education, to provide vocational rehabilitation training to individuals with mental and physical disabilities.
Indicted in May 2007, Dunn pleaded guilty Aug. 12, 2008, to one count of submitting fraudulent claims against the government acknowledging in his plea agreement that during the years 2001 to 2003 he had fraudulently obtained federal vocational rehabilitation funds through DARS by claiming that he was providing employment training and coaching to clients with disabilities when, in fact, the clients were not receiving such training.

"Dunn knowingly and willfully abused his position of trust to steal funds that were supposed to be used to provide needed education and vocational rehabilitation to disabled adults. That is unacceptable,” said Mary Mitchelson, acting Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Education. “I’m proud of the work of Office of Inspector General Special Agents, the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services and the U.S. Attorney's Office for holding this man accountable for his fraudulent actions.”
Dunn, who has been on bond, has been permitted to remain on bond pending the issuance by the court of an order to surrender to a Bureau of Prisons facility to be designated in the near future.

The investigation was conducted by special agents with the U.S. Department of Education Office of Inspector General and the DARS Investigations Unit. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Quincy L. Ollison.

SOURCE: USAO News Release: "FORMER VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION PROVIDER SENTENCED TO PRISON FOR FRAUDULENT CLAIMS AGAINST THE GOVERNMENT"

Monday, August 31, 2009

Schools Win Stay in Special Education Case

NATIONAL EDUCATION ASSOCIATION--
NEA reports that 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago has granted Milwaukee Public Schools a stay on US District Court Magistrate Judge Aaron Goodstein’s June 9th ruling requiring Milwaukee Public Schools to identify all students who may be eligible for special education services from September 2000 to June 2005. The schools had appealed the ruling as “too broad and too costly to implement”.
.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (8/28, Richards) says the most recent action is “hitting the pause button on the case." Now the schools and Disability Rights Wisconsin will argue their positions in front of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in a series of written briefs and, most likely, oral arguments.

RELATED:
Milwaukee Judge Orders Compensatory Special Education
http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/speced/2009/06/milwaukee_judge_orders_compens.html
MPS Wins Reprieve in Special Education Lawsuit
http://www.jsonline.com/news/milwaukee/55980517.html

Ted Kennedy- Congressional Champion for Persons with Disabilities


NATIONAL REHABILITATION ASSOCIATION- From Patricia Leahy


On Tuesday, August 25, 2009, Senator Edward M. Kennedy, the consummate Congressional champion of children and adults with disabilities, passed away. Known to many as the Liberal Lion of the Senate, no one was more sincere about crossing the political aisle in the spirit of bipartisanship than Senator Kennedy. President Obama called Senator Kennedy "Not only one of the greatest Senators of our time, but one of the most accomplished Americans to ever serve democracy. " One of his closest friends, Senator Orrin Hatch (R.UT.) said of his Congressional colleague, "Today, America lost a great elder statesman, a committed public servant and a leader in the Senate, and I lost a treasured friend." Former First Lady Nancy Reagan called Senator Kennedy "a dear friend." Senator John McCain (R.AZ.) said of Senator Kennedy: "He always kept his word, and that is far less common around here than a lot of people think." "We just sat down together and worked out a proposal. He didn't start it; I didn't start it. We just sat down and said OK, here's what we want to achieve -- what do we have to do?"

Forever at the forefront of the discussion and debate on ensuring the civil rights of children and adults with disabilities, Senator Kennedy forged partnerships with everyone he could in the Capitol and in our great country to ensure those rights were appreciated, respected and resulted in policies and legislation that were both bipartisan and benefited those who most needed representation in Congress -- children and adults with disabilities.

When the Congress began discussions on the great civil rights law, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Senator Kennedy and others, many of whom were inspired by the Senator, shepherded IDEA through the Senate. During the discussions on a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) for all, Senator Kennedy, once again, was at the forefront of the debate. During sometimes spirited discussions on whom should comprise the IEP team, including the general education teacher, Senator Kennedy was there providing gifted guidance on the importance of diverse membership in this singularly important process for determining a student's progression.


When some balked at the thought of an inclusive classroom for children and young adults with disabilities, Senator Kennedy and others made the case with and on behalf of parents and students with disabilities in both the Capitol and in our country that students with disabilities had the RIGHT to be educated with their non-disabled peers. When it became increasingly apparent that the greatest country in the world -- the United States of America -- did not have an infrastructure that was accessible to all Americans -- Senator Kennedy and many others began a bipartisan journey that was to result in one of the greatest pieces of legislation to ever emerge from the Congress: The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).

Senator Kennedy has always been there for children and adults with disabilities. While his presence will be missed, the spirit of his memorable mission of equality, dignity and respect for all individuals with disabilities will forever remain.

Patricia Leahy
Director of Governmental Affairs and Public Policy
National Rehabilitation Association
633 South Washington Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
1-888-258-4295
NRA Office - 703-836-0850
NRA Fax - 703-836-0848
TDD - 703-836-0849
E-mail -
patricia@nationalrehab.org
NRA Website - www.nationalrehab.org

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Sailors with Disabilities Compete in Connecticut


The Riverside Yacht Club in Riverside, Greenwich hosts the 2009 U.S. Disabled Sailing Championship September 10th through 13th. The event is part of US Sailing’s National Championship series, and a qualifying event for the Paralympic Games. The U.S. Disabled Sailing Championship regatta is the only national championship for sailors with disabilities and attracts the nation’s top sailors from around the United States and Canada.


Four classes compete this year-- the 2.4 meter, Skud 18, Ideal 18, and Sonars. The event attracts several national sponsors, including Rolex Watch U.S.A., Dry Creek Vineyard and PredictWind.com. More information on the event is available at: championships.ussailing.org/Adult/USDisabledChampionship. For information about US Sailing, visit http://www.ussailing.org

Monday, August 17, 2009

DI Wins TRA Wallace Bennett Journalism Award


SAN ANTONIO, TX--

Today, Disability Intel won the Texas Rehabilitation Association's Wallace Bennett Award for Excellence in Journalism related to people with disabilities. Thank you readers and bloggers for supporting DI!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Disability "Fight Club" Perpetrator Convicted

TEXAS-- This week, a jury found Jesse Salazar, age 25 of intentionally causing injury to person with disability for hi role in a “Fight Club” formed at a Corpus Christi, Texas state school. Salazar and others forced State school residents to fight each other while recording the fights on their cell phones. The “Fight Club” continued unreported for a year.

A total of six state school employees, all of whom have since been fired, are charged in the case. Two former employees, Vincent Johnson and D'Angelo Riley pled guilty to causing injury to persons with disabilities, and another employee goes on trial next week for failing to intervene.

The Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) is responsible for overseeing the Corpus Christi State School and other state run schools. DADS has been under fire and under investigation are number of instances of abuse and neglect in the state school system. Laura Albrecht, spokesperson DADS says, "We have taken the appropriate action to send a message to Corpus Christi and the other facilities that abuse and neglect of residents will not be tolerated."

SOURCES:
'Fight Club' Perpetrator Convicted of Injuring Mentally Disabled State Residents http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/story?id=8323288&page=1
1st trial to start in Texas `fight club' case
http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hIewycyiHqBgHGCbHc-amSumwQfwD9A03TKO1

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Special Olympics Founder Dies


Eunice Kennedy Shriver, founder of the Special Olympics, died today at age 88. The Special Olympics, today an organization that includes more than 2.5 million participants in 150 countries, began in 1961 as a summer day camp for children with intellectual disabilities at Shriver’s family farm in Maryland. Special Olympics held its first official event in 1968 in Chicago.

Shriver’s legacy in the area of advocacy for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities includes her creation of the National Institute on Child Health and Human Development and the President's Committee on Mental Retardation, both created during her brother John F. Kennedy’s presidency. The federal funds attached to these endeavors resulted in significant research and educational programming in the field.

President Obama released a statement saying Shriver was “an extraordinary woman who, as much as anyone, taught our nation -- and our world -- that no physical or mental barrier can restrain the power of the human spirit."

For a tribute to Eunice Kennedy Shriver, please visit: http://www.specialolympics.org/ or
http://www.eunicekennedyshriver.org/
"It is my deepest hope that the world can begin to look at our friends with special needs and, for once, tell them, 'Yes, you do belong; yes, you are wonderful; yes, you can be a shining light of hope for the world!"— Eunice Kennedy Shriver

SOURCES:
“Remembering Eunice Shriver: Life and Times, Special Olympics” http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/discussion/2009/08/11/DI2009081101008.html
“Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Special Olympics founder and sister of JFK, dies at 88”
http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-eunice-kennedy-shriver12-2009aug12,0,4627914.story

Kids with Disabilities Disproportionately Punished


Schools disproportionately use corporal punishment with students with disabilities, according to a joint report from Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union titled, "Impairing Education". According to the report, public schools used corporal punishment with about 19% of public school students with disabilities during the 2006-2007 academic year, although these students make up only 14% of the total population.

Although some instances of corporal punishment were unrelated to the child’s disability, the report found that some schools punished some students for “conduct related to their disabilities, including students with Tourette syndrome being punished for exhibiting involuntary tics and students with autism being punished for repetitive behaviors”, according to the ACLU website.

Although most states have laws prohibiting corporal punishment in schools, 20 states permit it, including Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wyoming. However, some school districts in these states do ban corporal punishment.

Community and individual reactions to proposed bans vary widely, from full support to support for continued use of physical punishment. It is likely that personal experiences and fears about school violence play a role in the varied perspectives. Clearly with or without bans, school personnel need more training in anger management, behavior modification, about disabilities, and the symptoms of various medical conditions.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

New Action on Seclusion and Restraint Abuses

PRESS RELEASE REPRINT FROM THE EDUCATION & LABOR COMMITTEE
Congressman George Miller, Chairman:


Secretary Duncan Takes Critical Step to Keep Schoolchildren Safe
Chairman Miller is developing legislation to address seclusion and restraint in nation’s schools

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Late last week, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan sent a letter to state school chiefs asking them to formally submit their policies on seclusion and restraint in schools, as part of larger efforts to prevent abusive uses of these practices in the nation’s classrooms.

A recent Government Accountability Office [investigation], conducted at the request of U.S. Rep. George Miller (D-CA), the chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, uncovered hundreds of allegations of abusive uses of seclusion and restraint practices on schoolchildren over the past two decades. In several of those cases, this abuse resulted in the death of a child.

“Secretary Duncan is committed to ensuring all children, in every single school in this country, is safe and protected,” said Miller, who is working to develop legislation that would address seclusion and restraint in U.S. schools. “We need to do everything we can to protect schoolchildren from abusive, torturous, and – in some cases – deadly uses of seclusion and restraint and to stop these horrific abuses from going unchecked."

Unlike in hospitals, other health care facilities and non-medical community-based facilities that receive federal funding, there are currently no federal laws that restrict the use of seclusion and restraint in public or private schools. State regulation and oversight varies greatly. Nineteen states have no laws governing the appropriate use of seclusion or restraint in schools.

GAO REPORT: http://edlabor.house.gov/newsroom/2009/05/gao-report-finds-hundreds-of-a.shtml

PRESS OFFICE CONTACT: 202-226-0853

RELATED:
http://edlabor.house.gov
http://www.twitter.com/edlabordems
http://www.facebook.com/EdLaborCommittee

Monday, August 3, 2009

Multiple Factors Increase SSA Disability Claims

WASHINGTON, DC— Multiple factors, including the ongoing economic recession and the growing number of baby boomers who are aging and acquiring disabilities, drive a surge in Social Security disability claim applications. The Center for Active Seniors reports an up tick in inquiries from 50 to 60-year-old workers who are reaching retirement, been injured at work, and who have been laid off without health insurance.

SSA estimates it will receive 3.3 million new disability claims in the next 12 months. But will SSA be able to handle the new cases while still dealing with the unprecedented number of backlogged cases? Some officials and pundits think not, especially since California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Ohio, Oregon, Maine, Michigan, New Jersey, Nevada, and Wisconsin have initiated furloughs of employees responsible for processing initial disability claims.

In the last six months, the number of people waiting to have their claim processed rose to just under 750, 000. The trend “…isn’t good”, says SSA Commissioner Michael Astrue. According to the Associated Press, The disability program has been the fastest rising part of Social Security, with spending on disability benefits growing at almost twice the rate of spending on retirement benefits.”

SOURCES:
Social Security Claims Surge during Recession
http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5guw84_hAq02tLZCuigFPyIZg_rKwD99PIG780 Social Security Disability Claims on the Rise
http://www.kwqc.com/Global/story.asp?S=10828239&nav=menu83_2
Long Disability Backlog Getting Worse
http://www.wcpo.com/news/local/story/I-Team-Long-Disability-Backlog-Getting-Worse/aQwDWUG8_0Wt6dZ2EhSBtw.cspx
Boomers Push up Disability Claims
http://www.examiner.com/x-654-Baby-Boomer-Examiner~y2009m7d31-Boomers-push-up-disability-claims
RELATED:
The Social Security Administration
http://www.ssa.gov/

Milestones for Disability Intel



Disability Intel passed several important milestones recently-- DI is now ONE YEAR OLD, EXCEEDED 100 POSTS, and SHARED OVER 1000 USER COMMENTS! Thanks to all DI readers, fellow bloggers, and the rehab and disability communities!

Friday, July 31, 2009

US Signs UN Disability Rights Convention



President Obama announced the US signing of the
United Nation’s International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).  Susan Rice, US Ambassador to the UN, signed the treaty on July 30th at the United Nations as required under international legal arrangements. Upon signature, the U.S. must uphold the general purpose of the treaty, but is not legally bound under international law to any specific article until the Senate ratifies it by two-thirds majority vote. Read the President's related remarks at:
http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Remarks-by-the-President-on-Rights-of-Persons-with-Disabilities-Proclamation-Signing/

US participation in the UN CRPD has been a long time coming, stalled for years under previous administrations. When ratified, the US will join numerous other nations who’ve signed and ratified the protocol. Here’s looking forward to the day the US is “in the red” on the map!

Legislative Updates


The U.S. House of Representatives passed the two FY 2010 appropriations bills that are of major interest to the disability community.  Funding for the Departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development (T-HUD) passed on July 23. Funding for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and Education (L-HHS-ED) passed July 24.  The Senate will hold committee mark ups on the bills shortly.

The T-HUD bill provides $10.5 billion for the Federal Transit Administration and $350 million for the HUD Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities Program, a $100 million increase above the current FY 2009 level. Also, the House passed the Frank Melville Supportive Housing Investment Act of 2009 (H.R. 1675) which will significantly reform the Section 811 program. The legislation was initially introduced by Representatives Christopher Murphy (D-CT) and Rep. Judy Biggert (R-IL). Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Mike Johanns (R-NE) introduced an identical companion version of the Frank Melville Supportive Housing Investment Act of 2009 (S. 1481). 

President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced the availability of about $9 billion in new grants to states, local school systems and other entities from funding available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).  Approximately $4.35 is in the "Race to the Top" fund, aimed at improving educational outcomes. All of the information about this funding, which includes competitive grant opportunities, can be found in the education section of the ARRA website, www.recovery.gov . UCP's Disability Policy Collaboration will provide some public comments on the Recovery website. 


ARC and UCP Seek Lobbyist

The Arc and United Cerebral Palsy's Disability Policy Collaboration is seeking a Senior Lobbyist to cover disability rights, technology, emergency management, and family related issues.  The Application deadline is August 3, 2009.  For more  information, see: 

http://www.idealist.org/jobs/7702-103/345426-163 or

http://washingtondc.craigslist.org/doc/npo/1284865475.html

Friday, July 24, 2009

Parade Mag Story on Seclusion and Restraint Abuse

FROM THE AUTHOR-- Mike Kruger, Online Outreach Specialist for the House Committee on Education and Labor, sent me an email this morning about an important story running now in Parade Magazine on the use  of seclusion and restraint on children with disabilities and others-- a previous blog topic here on DI (http://disabilityintel.blogspot.com/2009/01/school-seclusion-and-restraint-abuse.html)

Parade Magazine has a print circulation of 30 million readers, so about 10% of America will be exposed to the issue! After you read the article in print or online, you can comment online, and I encourage you to do so. Please see the story at: http://www.parade.com/news/intelligence-report/archive/090726-should-schools-use-restraints-on-students.html 

The House Committee on Education and Labor has a blog post about the Parade story and some of the progress Committee Chairman Miller has made on the issue of seclusion and restraint. It's also a great article, please be sure to read it and respond, also: http://edlabor.house.gov/blog/2009/07/news-of-the-day-should-schools.shtml

We can make a difference through our blog comments!

New Ethics Code for Rehab Counselors


FROM CRCC-- The New Code of Professional Ethics for Rehabilitation Counselors Available Online, Code is Effective as of January 1, 2010
CRCC has just completed the process of updating its Code of Professional Ethics for Rehabilitation Counselors (Code). Items below reflect the 10 most important changes to the Code and are by no means all-inclusive. Rehabilitation Counselors certified by CRCC are bound to act in accordance with the new Code, effective January 1, 2010 and, as such, are encouraged to fully read the new Code.


The full Code is now available for viewing, downloading, and printing directly from the CRCC website, CRC/CCRC Code of Ethics page, or at www.crccertification.com/filebin/pdf/CRCC_COE_1-1-10.pdf

Top 10 New Code Changes
1. Professional Disclosure Statement:

Written statement is now required; informed consent is expanded and addressed separately.
2. Roles and Relationships with Clients:

Requirements are enhanced for both professional and non-professional client relationships.
3. Cultural Competence/Diversity:

New standards added requiring development of interventions and services to incorporate consideration of cultural perspectives and recognition of external barriers.
4. Disaster Preparedness:

New standard added establishing obligation to plan for continued services in the event of a natural or man-made disaster.
5. Technology and Distance Counseling:

(formerly Electronic Communication and Emerging Applications)

Complete section overhaul establishing practices that address latest technology across all mediums.
6. Forensic and Indirect Services:

New section added specific to this role.
7. End-of-Life Care:

New standards added addressing end-of-life issues for terminally ill patients.
8. Teaching, Training, and Supervision:

Section enhanced to include concerns/scenarios found within the workplace.
9. Glossary of Terms:

New section to define key terminology used throughout the Code.
10. Preamble:

Section enhanced to identify values that serve as the foundation to the Code.

"We thank the many people - CRCs/CCRCs, industry professionals, educators, and all interested persons - who took the time and effort to participate in this important Code revision. Your input has been invaluable in helping us update many key areas of the Code, which enables our Certified Rehabilitation Counselors to continue to provide complete, caring service to persons with disabilities."
Cindy A. Chapman, Executive Director
Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wear Red for ADA Anniversary

July 26th is the 19th anniverary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Since many VR counselors and other rehabilitation professionals aren’t working on the actual anniversary day of the ADA, Sunday July 26, the Center for Consumer and External Affairs decided to commemorate the spirit of the ADA on Thursday, July 23. Wear something red on Thursday to show your support of independence for people with disabilities!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Disability Included Under Hate Crime Protections


US-- S. 909, the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act (HCPA), included in S. 1390, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 HAS PASSED THE SENATE. It will now head to President Obama for signature.

Under this measure, federal hate crime law is expanded to cover offenses based on a victim's gender, sexual orientation or gender identity, or on a disability.

Several controversial amendments proposed to S.1390 by Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and John Thune (R-SD) also passed the Senate. Senator Sessions' amendments allow the death penalty in certain cases involving hate crimes and gives the Attorney General the ability to set the criteria that determines if a hate crime has been committed. Senator Thune's amendment allows state-to-state reciprocity for concealed weapon permits.

RELATED:
http://miamiherald.typepad.com/gaysouthflorida/2009/07/hrc-matthew-shepard-act-passes---contact-your-senators.html
http://www.rightpundits.com/?p=4361
http://www.tips-q.com/news/msm/1160317-hrc-senate-adopts-unwelcomed-amendments-matthew-shepard-hate-crimes-prevention-act
http://www.queerty.com/shock-death-penalty-officially-on-the-table-for-hate-crimes-20090721/

Major Congressional Events Update


FROM NRCA—
Update: Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education
The House Appropriations Committee adopted the FY 2010 Appropriations bill for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and Education on Friday. The bill contains funding for entitlement programs such as Medicaid, Medicare, and SSI. The House bill appropriates $163 billion for discretionary programs such as IDEA, and Vocational Rehabilitation. No action has yet occurred on a Senate bill.

Update: Departments of Transportation and HUD
The House Appropriations Committee approved the FY 2010 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies bill. It includes a $100 billion increase for the Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities Program.

Update: Employment
Last Thursday, the Senate Employment and Workplace Safety Subcommittee held a hearing on reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act. WIA authorizes the workforce development program and Title IV is the Vocational Rehabilitation Act. Officials from the Departments of Labor and Education provided testimony as well as other employment community stakeholders testified about ways to improve access and services for people with disabilities.

Friday, July 17, 2009

E-bility Adds Disability Intel to Blogroll


Disability Intel is very pleased to announce that E-bility.com, a top website offering easy access to a wide range of information, resources, services and products of interest people with disability, their families and carers, health professionals and service providers in the disability sector, has added Disability Intel to its blog roll. I encourage you to visit E-bility.com for great information on such varied and important topics as disability news, travel, accessibility, advocacy, and classifieds! We support E-bility, and we thank them for their support of us. 

Thursday, July 9, 2009

NIDDR Webcast Announcement



FROM NIDDR...

Please join us for a webcast hosted by the National Center for the Dissemination of Disability Research (NCDDR) on Thursday, July 16, 2009: Jamaican Culture and Rehabilitation Issues. The featured presenter is Doreen M. Miller, RhD, CRC. The 90-minute webcast will begin at 3:00pm Eastern; 2:00pm Central; 1:00pm Mountain; 12:00pm Pacific; 11:00am Alaska; 9:00am Hawaii. The webcast is presented in collaboration with the Independent Living Research Utilization (ILRU) program at Memorial Herman|TIRR.

Webcast Registration (no fee to participate):
https://vovici.com/wsb.dll/s/12291g3e38e

Sotomayor Enjoys Wide Support from Disability Groups


US-- Disability Scoop reports that more than 24 disability rights and advocacy groups such as the American Association of People with Disabilities, the Autism Society of America, the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, the National Council on Independent Living, and others have asked the US Senate to support Sonia Sotomayor’s Supreme Court appointment.

Sonia Sotomayor has adjudicated cases involving the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Social Security, and Medicaid while serving on the U.S. Court of Appeals. Robert Bernstein, executive director of the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, says “Judge Sotomayor has repeatedly demonstrated a thorough understanding and a deep respect for the laws that protect the rights of Americans with physical and mental disabilities…”

SOURCE:
Disability Groups Unite Behind Sotomayor Confirmation
http://www.disabilityscoop.com/2009/07/08/sotomayor-support/4039/

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

State Budget Deficits Hit People with Disabilities


USA-- In a recent report on the ten states with the most serious budget shortfalls, ABC News highlighted sharp cuts on a variety of states services many of which negatively affect people with disabilities. Following are brief summaries of cuts most likely to hurt people with disabilities and those who serve them:

Arizona
Arizona is eliminating its disability benefits program for people waiting for Social Security benefits. The state is also cutting $49 million from the Health Services Department.
California
California has increased co-pay amounts and reduced dental benefits in the state children's health program. The state has also eliminated dental and vision services for many Medicaid recipients.
Nevada
In Nevada, the Governor has ordered a number of cuts in education, including elimination of funds for a magnet program for students who are deaf or hard of hearing.
Illinois
Illinois faces a $140 million cut in health insurance, a $175 million cut in education, and a $283 million cut in the Department of Human Services.
New York
New York Governor David Paterson proposes $3.5 billion cuts in healthcare services.
Oregon
The state will underfund the Department of Human Services by $387 million. The state is also cutting $41 million out of day care programming for low-income families.
Vermont
Vermont enacted a health care and related services provider rate cut that will affect contract healthcare services, mental health care providers, sign language interpreters, and children’s rehabilitation.
Washington
The state made a 70% cut in Medicaid for low-income seniors, resulting in elder care provider lay-offs.
RELATED

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Supreme Court Favors Students with Disabilities

US SUPREME COURT-- On Monday, the US Supreme Court ruled parents of special education students can seek government reimbursement for private school tuition. In the 6-to-3 ruling, Justice John Paul Stevens who wrote the majority opinion said, “We conclude that IDEA authorizes reimbursement for the cost of private special education services when a school district fails to provide a FAPE (blog author note: free and appropriate education) and the private school placement is appropriate, regardless of whether the child previously received special education or related services through the public school.”

Increasingly, families turn to costly private schools specializing in serving students with emotional or learning disabilities when their children are unable to obtain services in the public school system or are ineligible for public school services. In the US, approximately 90,000 special needs students attend private schools.

SOURCES:
Court Affirms Reimbursement for Special Education
http://www.usnews.com/blogs/on-education/2009/06/24/court-ruling-helps-special-needs-students.html
Court Ruling Helps Special-Needs Students
http://www.usnews.com/blogs/on-education/2009/06/24/court-ruling-helps-special-needs-students.html

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

NRCA Announces New Medicare Draft

From the National Rehabilitation Counseling Association:
The three House committees with jurisdiction over health care—the House Ways & Means Committee, the House Energy & Commerce Committee, and the House Education & Labor Committee—have released draft health care reform legislation, including provisions to update the Medicare program. Importantly, the draft legislation (known as the “Tri-Committee” draft) would establish Medicare coverage of licensed professional counselors and marriage and family therapists (blog author's note: CRC's are not mentioned). The legislation makes significant changes to the way the current health insurance marketplace works in the U.S., with the goal of building on our current system to broaden coverage and constrain health care cost increases.

Information on the legislation, including the bill text and a summary, is on the House Education & Labor Committee’s website at http://edlabor.house.gov/blog/2009/06/health-care-reform-house-dems.shtml

Monday, June 15, 2009

New Report on Rehab Counselor Salaries


CRCC, US-- The Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification released the "CRCC Issues 2008 Salary Report: An Update on Salaries in the Rehabilitation Counseling Profession".In May 2007, CRCC conducted constituent research among 1,220 Certified Rehabilitation Counselors. The resulting 2008 Salary Report provides valuable insights and is a resource in helping to assess how individual compensation compares across fellow Certified Rehabilitation Counselors. Areas addressed include salary by demographics, disability, education, work setting, and length of time in the rehabilitation counseling profession.
The 2008 Salary Report is available on the CRCC website, News & Events page, or www.crccertification.com/pages/news_events/117.php or at http://www.crccertification.com/filebin/pdf/CRCC_2008SalaryReport_FINAL.pdf

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