Thursday, January 22, 2009

Big Dollars for Disability Programs

GREAT NEWS-- In the new Economic Stimulus Package, a substantial amount of the new spending will protect and expand disability services. Among the most critical increases to disability programs are:

  • $500 million for the Vocational Rehabilitation State Grant program

  • $87 billion for an increased federal Medicaid match (FMAP)

  • $13 billion for IDEA State Grants

  • $600 million for IDEA Early Intervention

  • A one time $450 (individuals)/$630 (couples) payment to all SSI recipients($4.2 billion total)

  • $900 million to improve the Social Security Administration claims processand computerization upgrades

  • $6.5 billion for several low income housing initiatives

A more complete summary of disability related provisions can be found at:

First Disability Inaugural Ball

National Disability Advocacy Group gathered in Washington DC on January 18th for the first Disability Power and Pride Inaugural Ball. The black-tie event celebrated President Barack Obama’s commitment to the disability community, and honored community members whose work has been influential in disability legislation and policy. The event’s spokesperson, Karen Lee says, “Obama has taken up their (people with disabilities) cause”, while Andrew Imparato, head of the American Association of People with Disabilities says, “Obama see us as part of the political landscape”. Hopes are high, and the party is on!

Balls for a Cause, Dresses for Less
Disability Community Holds First Ever Inaugural Ball
Videos from the Ball, from Talk Radio News:

Michelle Obama Focuses on Military Families, Impact of Service Related Disabilities

WASHINGTON, DC— New First Lady Michelle Obama is deeply interested in working with military families, as evidenced by her numerous pre-election interviews highlighting her commitment to military families and their unique needs. She has specifically referenced the challenges associated with returning from military service with mental and/or physical disabilities. The new First lady herself grew up in a household impacted by disability; her father had Multiple Sclerosis. In a Reader’s Digest interview, Mrs. Obama said, "Seeing a parent with a disability moving through the world and living life as if that disability didn't matter," was highly and positively influential on her personal approach to life. Will Mrs. Obama bring new attention to service-related disabilities? To disability studies and rehabilitation generally? Perhaps now is the time for our community to leverage a potential new champion…
Michelle Obama Interview: Her Father’s Daughter
Michelle Obama: Normal is Now Relative
Who Is Michelle Obama (Katie Couric Interview Article)
Bella Online Forum for Women with Disabilities
Transcript of Michelle Obama’s Speech at the Democratic National Convention, in which she mentions her father and his disability.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Child with Asperger’s Syndrome Arrested

IDAHO— Police arrested Evelyn Towry, an 8-year-old girl with Asperger’s syndrome (a high-functioning form of Autism), at her Idaho elementary school after being fighting with and being restrained by school personnel. The incident appears to have stemmed from Evelyn’s being denied entry into a school event because she was wearing a "cow costume" consisting of a hooded jacket with cow ears and a tail. According to the student and her mother, teachers first separated the child from other students in a different room. When she tried to leave, teachers restrained her. Reportedly, the student then struck, kicked, and pinched the teachers in an effort to break free. The Lake Pend Oreille School District Superintendent said the school called police due to the child’s “escalating behavior that resulted in what we perceived to be an assault on staff." Teachers report Evelyn has a history of problematic behavior, and her mother acknowledges problem behaviors dating to kindergarten. Nonetheless, she says the use of restraint is unnecessary.

CONNECTICUT—In a related story from, police charged a 30-year veteran elementary school teacher with cruelty after having a 6-year-old student with Autism remove her shirt in front of her class. The teacher said she was trying to re-direct the student, who had become fixated on shirt’s striped pattern. The school district terminated the teacher.

Parents Consider Legal Action After Autistic Girl, 8, Arrested at School

Incident With Autistic Student Costs Teacher Job

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

School Seclusion and Restraint Abuse Reported


The National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) released a troubling report on the use of seclusion and restraint with students with disabilities in U.S. schools. Seclusion and restraint tactics are associated with physical and emotional injury and even death. According to the report, some school have isolated student in locked rooms or boxes; 41% of the states/territories shown in red on the map above have “no laws, policies or guidelines concerning restraint or seclusion use in schools".

In a Capitol Hill press conference, NDRN and Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) outlined specific and severe cases of abuse, noting that inconsistent state laws and a lack of oversight for allegations of abuse are contributing factors. NDRN also called for the incoming Obama administration and 111th Congress to ban the use of prone restraint and seclusion under federal law. The group is also calling for a national summit to devise plans to implement these bans and encourage the use of evidence-based positive behavioral supports.

Rep. George Miller (D-CA), who chairs House Education and Labor Committee said, "Our committee will hold a hearing to look at how we can address and hopefully end these horrific acts." Advocates are calling on the Obama administration and Congress to address the issue by banning seclusion and restraint. The NDRN report includes recommendations for local school districts and state legislatures. The full report, “School Is Not Supposed to Hurt” is available at


National Disability Rights Network Releases Shocking Report on Seclusion & Restraint in U.S. Schools

The National Disability Rights Network

Monday, January 12, 2009

NRA Gov't Affairs Summit

The National Rehabilitation Association is proud to present its 28th Annual Government Affairs Summit, Sunday, March 8 to Tuesday, March 10, 2009. Tuesday the 10th will be NRA's Day on the Hill. This year's Summit is entitled, "The Three R's of Effective Legislative Advocacy: Relationships, Return on Investment and Results," will be held in beautiful and historic Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, at the Hilton Alexandria Old Town Hotel, located at 1767 King Street, Old Town, Alexandria (703-837-0440).

To register, visit: