Wednesday, February 17, 2010

New Conditions Added to SSA Compassionate Allowance List

On February 11, the Social Security Administration announced an addition of 38 new conditions to its list of conditions for the Compassionate Allowance (CA) initiative, including early onset Alzheimer's.

The initiative makes it possible for SSA to expedite favorable disability decisions for people who apply for disability benefits based on documented diagnosis of listed disabling conditions. The initiative not only assists those whose applications are quickly processed, but also assists those whose applications need more time and attention from SSA adjudicators because staff time is freed up to address the applications which need more time.

For a copy of the press release and a list of the 38 new conditions, see:

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Abuse Prevention Passes House Committee

In a follow-up to yesterday's post, I'm sharing with you excerpts of the Congressional press release on the Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act (H.R. 4227). This news is great news!!

To see Chairman Miller’s opening statement on video, visit:

To read the most recent markup page with the roll call votes, visit:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The House Education and Labor Committee today passed bipartisan legislation to make classrooms safer for students and school staff by preventing the misuse of restraint and seclusion. The Committee passed the Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act (H.R. 4227) by a vote of 34 to 10.

A U.S. Government Accountability Office report released last spring exposed hundreds of cases of schoolchildren being abused as a result of inappropriate uses of restraint and seclusion, often involving untrained staff. In some cases, children died. A disproportionate number of these victims were students with disabilities. In some of the cases GAO investigated, ropes, duct tape, chairs with straps and bungee cords were used to restrain or isolate young children.

“This bill makes clear that there is no place in our schools for abuse and torture,” saidU.S. Rep. George Miller (D-CA), chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee. “The egregious abuse of a child should not be considered less criminal because it happens in a classroom -- it should be the opposite. I’m proud that this bill has bipartisan support and I hope the full House will vote on it soon.”...

... The Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act will, for the first time, put in place minimum safety standards to prevent abusive restraint and seclusion in schools across the country, similar to protections already in place in medical and community based facilities. After two years, states will need to have their own policies in place to meet these minimum standards. It would apply to public schools, private schools and preschools receiving federal education support. Specifically the legislation would:

· Limit physical restraint and locked seclusion, allowing these interventions only when there is imminent danger of injury, and only when imposed by trained staff;

· Outlaw mechanical restraints, such as strapping kids to chairs, and prohibit restraints that restrict breathing;

· Require schools to notify parents after incidents when restraint or seclusion was used;

· Encourage states to provide support and training to better protect students and prevent the need for emergency behavioral interventions; and

· Increase transparency, oversight and enforcement tools to prevent future abuse.

The legislation embodies principles outlined by the Obama administration in December. It has the support of nearly 100 organizations, including the National School Boards Association, the National Education Association, and the American Federation of Teachers. See a full list of supporters here:

(End Excerpt)

For more information, please visit:

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

House Ed and Labor Committee Considers Abuse Legislation

Related to DI's ongoing concerns about the use of restraint and seclusion with children with disabilities, I am sharing a guest blog written by Representative Joe Courtney for the House Education and Labor Committee's blog. Tomorrow, Thursday, February 4th, the House Education and Labor Committee considers legislation to protect children from harmful uses of restraint and seclusion in schools. For more information, visit:

Rep. Joe Courtney: Congress Must Make Schools Safe Havens for Children

(This is a guest blog post by Rep. Joe Courtney, Education and Labor Committee Member.)

In 1998, the Hartford Courant earned a Pulitzer Prize for a series of stories on the use of restraint and seclusion tactics on students with disabilities in treatment facilities. The tales of children who were injured, or in some cases, died, shocked parents and educators across the country. As a parent of two, I was among those who were horrified. While previous Congresses passed legislation to reduce this abuse in treatment facilities, no federal laws were ever created to protect children from dangerous physical restraint in schools.

In 2009, the House Committee on Education and Labor, of which I am a member, held hearings on the use of seclusion and restraint. The testimony we heard from various experts was disturbing and signaled that Congress must act expeditiously to end once and for all seclusion and restraint. The most powerful testimony came from parents whose children were killed or severely injured as a result of dangerous restraint techniques.

In response to those stories, and the countless cases in which children have been injured or died, Education and Labor Chairman George Miller introduced the Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act. I am a proud cosponsor of this bipartisan bill, which I believe will accomplish a number of important goals.

The proposal wisely bans the use of chemical or mechanical restraint and will prohibit the use of physical restraint or seclusion as a disciplinary measure. As experts throughout the medical and educational field have testified, the use of these harsh methods of controlling a child must never be utilized unless an imminent danger to a child or staff exists. Furthermore, this legislation ensures accountability and transparency, requiring that parents and school officials be notified immediately when an incident occurs. The bill requires data collection when restraint techniques are used to ensure that incidents are recorded and later used to establish best practices. We must continue to promote training for staff, and this valuable information will increase awareness to avoid future tragedies.

Tomorrow, the Committee will consider the Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act. I look forward to working with Chairman Miller and my colleagues on the Committee to pass this legislation and to ensure that our schools are safe havens for children and staff.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Blind UCLA Grad Can Use AT for Bar Exam

SAN FRANCISCO- Northern District of California Judge Charles Breyer ruled in favor of Stephanie Enyart, a Blind graduate of the UCLA Law School, who will be allowed to use her preferred assistive technology on her upcoming Bar exam in late February. The National Conference of Bar Examiners previously denied her request due to concerns that the integrity of the text could be compromised. The Bar also noted that Federal disability law "does not require testing organizations to provide disabled examinees with their preferred accommodations." Nonetheless, the judge ruled Enyart’s request reasonable, noting she the Bar should permit her to use the assistive technology she is accustomed to. Ms. Enyart is currently employed with

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