Thursday, December 16, 2010

Disability Intel on Twitter

for updates on Disability Intel and sister site Contagious Intel

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

White House Begins Monthly Disability Calls

The White House Disability Group is now hosting MONTHLY DISABILITY CALLS, during which the public can call in to hear updates on a variety of disability-related issues.


In order to help keep you more informed, we are beginning in December to host monthly calls to update you on various disability issues as well as to introduce you to persons who work on disability issues in the federal government. We strongly urge and ask that you distribute this email broadly so that anyone who wants to participate can do so.

Our first call will be this Friday, December 3, at 11:00 AM Eastern. The conference call information is below:
Dial in: (800) 230-1092
Title: Disability Call (use instead of code)
Date of Call: 12/03/10
Start Time: 11:00 AM Eastern

For live captioning, at time of call, log onto:

Monday, November 29, 2010

FCC Upgrades 911 Emergency Capabilities

From The Federal Communication Commissions (FCC) plans to upgrade the capabilities of the 9-1-1 emergency system by allowing texting, video streaming and data sharing as part of the National Broadband Plan's Next Generation 9-1-1.

Many people, particularly those with disabilities, depend on texting as their primary means of communication. In some emergency situations -- especially in circumstances where a call could further jeopardize someone’s life and safety -- texting is the only way to reach out for help.

For more information:

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

ADD Summits Still Open for Registration

From the NRCA Capitol Insider--
There are three remaining summits sponsored by the Administration on Developmental Disabilities (ADD). The Agency is seeking input on the following questions:
  1. What do children with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) need to live happy lives with their families?
  2. What do adults with IDD need to live meaningful lives in their communities?
  3. What do seniors with IDD need to live long, healthy lives in their homes?
Visit to register to participate via telephone or in person: on November 15 in Dallas, TX; December 2 in Detroit, MI; or December 6 in Denver, CO.

ADD oversees the programs created by the Developmental Disabilities Act:
1) Protection and Advocacy Systems (P & As)
2) Councils on Developmental Disabilities (DD Councils)
3) University Centers for Excellence in Development Disabilities (UCEDs)
4) Projects of National Significance

Reduced Costs for People with Pre-Existing Med Conditions

From the NRCA Capitol Insider-- The Department of Health and Humans Services (HHS) announced that it would be reducing premium rates for uninsured people with pre-existing medical conditions to join temporary high risk pools.

HHS will lower premiums by about 20 percent in 2011 for the 23 states participating in the federal government run Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan and asked the states running their own programs to consider lowering their rates as well. The high risk pools are very important for people with disabilities who are frequently priced out of most private health insurance plans. The pools are intended to provide needed coverage until the health status non-discrimination provisions and the establishment of the health insurance exchanges take effect in 2014.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

'Asylum' Haunted Houses Not Appropriate

SPRING CITY, PENNSYLVANIA— Mental health and disability advocates around the country are expressing deep outrage at the inappropriateness of a Halloween attraction at the site of Pennhurst State Hospital, a former hospital and school for individuals with psychiatric and other disabilities located near Philadelphia. In years past, similar events have taken place the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston, West Virginia, the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, Ohio, and the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia.

Pennhurst opened in 1908 but closed in 1987 following investigations revealing shocking levels of neglect and abuse. The Pennhurst Memorial and Preservation Alliance, a group whose membership includes individuals who once lived in various institutional settings, seeks to preserve the institution as a “catalyst for awareness”.

Mike Fitzpatrick, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness says, "This whole sort of trend to have haunted asylums is both discouraging and very, very inappropriate", while the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia said “… this haunted house threatens to exploit the tragedy at Pennhurst for cheap thrills”. J. Bruce Hulick, who is the executive director of ARC of Philadelphia, wants Pennhurst to be “… a dignified remembrance, not an amusement."

In defense of the haunted house, Pennhurst Acquisition—the investment group that has owned the property since 2008— says, "By no means is our event a mockery of that. ... I would think the youth is smart enough to distinguish between the make-believe and the other.”

Haunted ‘Asylum’ At Site Of Former Institution Has Disability Advocates Cringing

HAUNTED ASYLUM: Mental health pros boo attraction at Pa. institution

Pennhurst Asylum Haunted House:

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

In DOJ Settlement, Kerrville Texas Theater Made Accessible

WASHINGTON - The Justice Department today announced a settlement agreement with the city of Kerrville, Texas, and Playhouse 2000 to bring the Cailloux Theater into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The settlement agreement resolves an investigation following a complaint filed by a person with a disability against the theater. The theater underwent significant alterations in 2003. The ADA requires that alterations to the theater should have been done so that that it is readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities.

Under the agreement, the city of Kerrville, which owns the theater, and Playhouse 2000, which manages and operates the theater, will take the following steps to improve access to the theater, including:
-Provide a choice of accessible wheelchair seating locations with a choice of ticket prices;
-Provide fixed companion seats for all wheelchair seating locations;
-Provide accessible routes throughout the theater;
-Provide ADA-compliant signage;
-Implement an ADA-compliant reservations policy; and
-Pay $2,500 in damages to the complainant.

"Everyone should be able to enjoy the cultural experience of attending live theater, including persons with disabilities. We are pleased that the city of Kerrville and Playhouse 2000 are taking steps to ensure that individuals with disabilities are guaranteed full access to the Cailloux theater," said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.

The ADA protects individuals with disabilities from discrimination in all activities of state and local government entities, and from being denied an equal opportunity to participate in or benefit from the goods and services of public accommodations. For more information about the ADA call the Department’s toll-free ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 or 800-514-0383 (TDD), or access the ADA website at

National Council on Disability Welcomes New Executive Director Aaron Bishop

WASHINGTON—National Council on Disability (NCD) Chairman Jonathan Young, announced today that Aaron Bishop of Washington, DC, will become NCD’s new Executive Director on November 15. NCD is an independent federal agency charged with advising the President, Congress, and other federal officials and entities on all policies, programs, practices and procedures affecting people with disabilities. NCD’s mission is to further the goals enshrined in the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990: equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living and economic self-sufficiency for all people with disabilities.

According to Young, “NCD is delighted to have selected Aaron Bishop as its new Executive Director. Mr. Bishop, a well-respected disability advocate in his own right, comes to NCD directly from the United States Senate, where he has been on the Hill since 2003 and top disability policy adviser to Wyoming Senator Michael Enzi, who is the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions since 2005. His legislative background and disability expertise will be a very nice addition to the NCD staff. We look forward to working with Mr. Bishop. He holds great promise for NCD.”

“We also want to thank Joan Durocher for serving as NCD’s interim Executive Director until a permanent director could be chosen. Ms. Durocher has been promoted to NCD’s General Counsel and Director of Policy,” Young said.

New NRCA Capitol Insider Announcements

Capitol Insider Announcements

Disability Rights Publication

Disability Rights Online News is the Department of Justice’s monthly newsletter covering civil rights developments across the country. The September issue includes summaries of ADA, Fair Housing, and National Voting Rights Act cases. See:

Disability Research Website

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has launched a new website for the Center of Excellence for Research on Disability Services, Care Coordination and Integration. In May 2010, Office on Disability in HHS awarded Mathematica Policy Research Inc. a two–year, $7 million contract, funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), to establish the center. The Center seeks to: identify and review evidence on effective services and care models; develop and prioritize critical research questions ; create unique linked datasets to help research these question; establish criteria and standards for assessing the effectiveness of services and models; and conduct original research that applies these standards. The Center’s website can be found at:

Education Commemoration

This November, in honor of the 35th anniversary of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the U.S. Department of Education and the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services (OSERS) will host a celebration in Washington, D.C. OSERS is seeking input from people who have had a personal experience with IDEA or have witnessed its impact. As part of their celebration, OSERS is welcoming stories, poetry, photography, art work and video clips from individuals with disabilities , students, teachers, principals, researchers, parents, teacher trainers and others across the country for possible inclusion during the celebration. Submissions will be accepted through November 8, 2010 via:

Friday, October 8, 2010

Presidential Proclamation--National Disability Employment Awareness Month

WHITE HOUSE (FULL TEXT)-- As Americans, we understand employment and economic security are critical to fulfilling our hopes and aspirations. We also know we are stronger when our country and economy can benefit from the skills and talents of all our citizens. No individual in our Nation should face unnecessary barriers to success, and no American with a disability should be limited in his or her desire to work. During National Disability Employment Awareness Month, we renew our focus on improving employment opportunities and career pathways that lead to good jobs and sound economic futures for people with disabilities.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the landmark civil rights legislation that established a foundation of justice and equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities. In the two decades since its passage, much progress has been made. However, Americans with disabilities continue to be employed at a rate far below Americans without disabilities, and they are underrepresented in our Federal workforce.

My Administration is committed to ensuring people living with disabilities have fair access to jobs so they can contribute to our economy and realize their dreams. To help achieve this goal, I signed an Executive Order in July to increase Federal employment of individuals with disabilities. This directive requires Federal agencies to design model recruitment and hiring strategies for people with disabilities, and to implement programs to retain these public servants. To ensure transparency and accountability, agencies will report on their progress on hiring people with disabilities, and the Office of Personnel Management will post the results of agencies' efforts online for public evaluation. As the Nation's largest employer, the Federal Government can become a model employer by increasing employment across America of individuals with disabilities.

The 21st-century economy demands a highly educated workforce equipped with the technology and skills to maintain America's leadership in the global marketplace. Technology has changed the way we work, and the Federal Government is leveraging emerging, assistive, and other workplace technologies to improve the options available for everyone, including workers with disabilities. We must improve the accessibility of our workplaces and enable the collaboration and contributions of every employee, and that is why I look forward to signing into law the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010. This legislation will greatly increase access to technology, with advances in areas such as closed captioning, delivery of emergency information, video description, and other advanced communications -- all essential tools for learning and working in today's technological society.

Individuals with disabilities are a vital and dynamic part of our Nation, and their contributions have impacted countless lives. People with disabilities bring immeasurable value to our workplaces, and we will continue to address the challenges to employment that must be overcome. This month, let us rededicate ourselves to fostering equal access and fair opportunity in our labor force , and to capitalizing on the talent, skills, and rich diversity of all our workers.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim October 2010 as National Disability Employment Awareness Month. I urge all Americans to embrace the unique value that individuals with disabilities bring to our workplaces and communities and to promote everyone's right to employment.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of October, in the year of our Lord two thousand ten, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fifth.-- BARACK OBAMA

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Capitol Insider Highlights

Highlights from The Capitol Insider for the Week of September 27, 2010:

The ARC and UCP to Oppose CLASS Act Repeal
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) introduced S. 3829, a bill to repeal the CLASS Act. Senators Chambliss (R- GA), Coburn (R-OK), Cornyn (R-TX), and McCain (R-AZ) joined as co-sponsors of the bill. The CLASS Act, part of the Affordable Care Act, creates a nationwide long term insurance program to assist people with long term service needs while avoiding the impoverishment necessary to receive Medicaid benefits. The Arc and UCP strongly supported passage of the CLASS Act and will oppose its repeal.

Obama to Sign "R" Word Elimination Bill
The House of Representatives passed Rosa’s Law (S. 2781), substituting the term “intellectual disabilities” for “mental retardation” in many federal laws. The bill is identical to the bill passed by the Senate earlier this year. President Obama will sign the bill into law soon. The terminology change does not affect eligibility or services available under the laws where the terminology is changed. This bill is a huge victory for self advocates and their families who have fought for years to remove the term “mental retardation”.

Expanding Assistance in Individuals with Autism
The House of Representatives passed HR 5756, The Training and Research for Autism Improvements Nationwide Act to amend Title I of the Developmental Disabilities Assistance Act and Bill of Rights Act (The DD Act), expanding assistance to children and adults with autism. The bill would authorize $17 million grants to University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDDs) to provide training and services, and provide grants for up to four new UCEDDs that collaborate with minority institutions. The bill now does to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee for consideration.

Previous issues of the Capitol Insider are available at anytime by choosing "Capitol Insider" under "Public Policy." If you have any questions, please contact Annie Acosta at

Monday, September 20, 2010

Stevie Wonder: Better Blind Access To Materials

UN NEWS SERVICE –Stevie Wonder, a United Nations Messenger for Peace, called for improved access to copyright material for people with visual disabilities at the annual meeting of the UN World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). Wonder said “… while I know that it is critical not to act to the detriment of the authors who labor to create the great works that enlighten and nourish our minds, hearts and souls, we must develop a protocol that allows the easy import and export of copyright materials so that people with print disabilities can join the mainstream of the literate world”.

Accessible copy-righted materials is a key topic at this year’s WIPO and the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights. WIPO Director General Francis Gurry acknowledged the growing complexity of intellectual property concerns and technological innovations. WIPO recently opened WIPO Lex, an on-line global intellectual property reference resource on national intellectual property laws and treaties.

UN Peace Messenger Stevie Wonder calls for copyright steps for the blind