Hello and welcome to Day in Washington, your disability policy podcast. I’m your host Day Al-Mohamed working to make sure you stay informed.
    Recently I’ve been thinking about bulling. We’re all familiar with what bullying is right? Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior (usually among school aged children and youth) that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time.  It is verbal, it is social, it is physical, it is even digital now with so many young people spending hours on their phones, tablets, and computers.

    Michelle Carter was a teenager and when her 18-year-old boyfriend texted her and said he wanted to kill himself, she urged him on. Goaded him into it. He killed himself by filling his truck with carbon monoxide in a parking lot in Fairhaven, Massachusetts. The courts just upheld her manslaughter conviction. The judge ordered her to serve 15 months in prison. But the case isn’t over yet. There are many arguing that she is being punished for “speech.”

    A CDC survey in Massachusetts in 2017 found that of nearly 1 million K-12 students, 15 percent reported being bullied in school or online, while 12 percent said they had contemplated suicide. Students with disabilities are bullied more than their non-disabled peers.  In fact, recent studies show they are likely to have been bullied more than three times as much. If you do the maths that is a terrifying number, that is more than 1/3 of kids with disabilities who have contemplated suicide. Even if it doesn’t lead to suicide, bullying can lead to school avoidance and increased absenteeism, dropping grades, an inability to concentrate, anxiety, depression, a loss of interest in academic achievement, and behavioral outbursts in some youth.

    In 2014, the Administration sent out a Dear Colleague letter highlighting the impact of bullying on children with disabilities and specifically invoked the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) which requires that each child who has a disability and qualifies for special education and related services must receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE). Basically, that bullying interferes with that access to a free and appropriate public education. The letter also highlighted Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 because the harassment denies a student with a disability an equal opportunity to education.

    And of course this isn’t just in person. More and more we are seeing young people bullied and harassed via social media, texts, and other electronic communications.  A recent study showed that 30 percent of youth ages 10-20 reported experiencing some form of online harassment or victimization.

    In 2017,  nine senators asked Secretary Betsy DeVos what resources the U.S. Department of Education was providing schools in order to counter "the recent increase in hateful and discriminatory speech and conduct." They also asked for the number of ongoing investigations by the department into student-on-student harrassment based on things like race, religion, and sexual orientation, as well as whether the federal task force on bullying prevention would continue.

    And if the Federal government isn’t going to act, some state governments are looking to address the bullying problem themselves.

    California schools will be required to implement procedures to prevent bullying and cyberbullying by the end of 2019. In addition to the new procedures, Assembly Bill 2291, authored by Assemblyman David Chiu, D-San Francisco, requires school employees who regularly interact with students to have access to a bullying and cyberbullying training module developed by state officials.

    Two additional bills — Assembly Bill 2022 and Senate Bill 972 — approved towards the end of 2018 will improve access to mental health services by adding the National Suicide Prevention li...

  • Hello and welcome to Day in Washington, your disability policy podcast. I’m your host Day Al-Mohamed working to make sure you stay informed.  This is your Disability Report for the week of February 19, 2019.
    On January 25th, the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) released a landmark decision in S.A. v. Metro Vancouver Housing Corporation.  In this case, the housing authority wanted to take into account the S.A.’s Henson Trust. For those of you who may not know, Henson Trusts in Canada are like our ABLE Accounts. Ours are tax-advantaged savings accounts for individuals with disabilities and their families. They’re still pretty new here as the ABLE Act only just passed in 2014.

    It’s based on the idea that millions of people with disabilities and their families depend on a wide variety of public benefits for income, health care and food and housing assistance. Eligibility for many of these public benefits require meeting a means or resource test that stops people from building any savings for accessible housing, transportation, assistive technology etc.

    So the Supreme Court of Canada agreed that Henson Trusts should NOT be considered an asset by the housing authority, allowing Canadian citizens to receive a housing subsidy for accessible housing without bankrupting themselves.

    In February, the Kessler Foundation and University of New Hampshire released the nTIDE Report focusing on disability employment.

    In the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Jobs Report, employment for working-age people with disabilities decreased slightly from 29.9 percent in January 2018 to 29.8 percent in January 2019. For working-age people without disabilities, employment increased from 72.7 percent in January 2018 to 73.6 percent in January 2019.

    But what is perhaps a bit more disturbing is the labor force participation rate for working-age people. The labor force participation rate is the percentage of the population that is working or actively looking for work. Employment rates show people who are working and/or not working. This shows those who are still trying to be employed and those who have given up and no longer in the workforce.

    For people with disabilities, it was 33 percent in January 2018 and remained at the same level (33 percent) in January 2019. So basically, 67% of people with disabilities are not even participating in the system. Only 33% are in the workforce at all. And that number hasn’t changed. Now lets compare it to working-age people without disabilities, their labor force participation rate increased from 76.1 percent in Jan. 2018 to 76.9 percent in January 2019.

    February brings some great news by way of disability culture. New Jersey becomes second state to require schools to teach LGBT and disability-inclusive material. Children in the New Jersey school system will be exposed to "the political, economic, and social contributions of persons with disabilities”. While the focus of the discussion has been primarily on LGBTQ history, having disability included is a big win. California already has such a law in place. Here’s hoping those textbooks get updated with some great suggestions (Beyond Helen Keller and Franklin Delano Roosevelt). I for one, would love to see some people of color with disabilities and their contributions highlighted.

    What most wheelchair users with disability know is that only a quarter of NYC subway stations have elevators. They are also aware that many many of the elevators end up out of service with little to no warning and poor information as to when they will be repaired. In January, a young mother, Malaysia Goodson,

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  • Hello and welcome to Day in Washington, your disability policy podcast. I’m your host Day Al-Mohamed working to make sure you stay informed.  This is your Disability Report for the week of January 7, 2019.
    The Missouri Legislative session starts on January 9. Legislation has been pre-filed for the upcoming session that would expand insurance coverage for developmentally disabled individuals.

    Therapy for most developmental disabilities can cost up to $100 an hour with individuals sometimes needing multiple sessions a week; sometimes for months or even years. Think about speech therapy or occupational therapy or physical therapy…these are just not one-and-done types of activities. And Insurance plans tend to cap coverage at 20 visits. To make up for that, some families are trying to pay out of pocket and that can total up to more than $15,000 a year.

    In 2010, Missouri lawmakers passed a law that provided insurance coverage for therapy for those on the Autism spectrum. The new bill expands that coverage to include those with any developmental disability so would cover conditions such as cerebral palsy and Down Syndrome.

    Mental Health and Schools. Over and over we are told that mental health is as critical as physical health. Nowhere is this as critical as in our school systems. Federal funding in Title IV, Part A of the Every School Succeeds Act (ESSA) passed in 2015 includes a flexible block grant program known as Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants (SSAEG). These grants would cover activities in three areas:

    Programs such as college and career counseling, STEM, arts, civics and International Baccalaureate/Advanced Placement.
    Mental health, drug and violence prevention, training on trauma-informed practices, and health and physical education.
    Supporting the effective use of technology that is backed by professional development, blended learning and ed tech devices

    Roland-Story students in Iowa will now have access to mental health services with Okerberg and Associates, which will provide the services to the district for a 22-week period. The school board also voted to request funds for at-risk and dropout prevention. Roland-Story is requesting $246,000 from the state to support this program.

    What is sad to me is that Roland-Story has requested these funds for over a decade.

    As a part of the CVAA (the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010) starting from January 1, 2019, any video and computer games in the US must ensure they are accessible to people with disabilities in regards to communications. Failure to comply will allow complaints to be made to the FCC and possible fines. The International Game Developers Association has just put out some information about how games are affected based on their development progress.

    In addition to making sure that games are accessible those with disabilities, the creation of the game must have these conditions in mind early in development and involve disabled people in the design or testing process.

    Should the game not meet the standards and fail to comply, if a customer complains to the Federal Communications Commission or FCC, then it is possible the developer may be fined. (Of course not all games can be made fully accessible, but the FCC’s job is to mediate and look into efforts to fix the issues).

    Since the 1970s, in return for access to federal flood insurance, the Federal government requires that all buildings and homes being constructed (or renovated) near water, be built at least as high as 100-year flood levels. In the last few years we’ve been seeing more hurricanes ...

  • Hello and welcome to Q&A day here at  Day in Washington. Today’s question comes from a panel I was on as a part of  a Disability session for the State Department. I thought it was a fantastic question so am including it in here. 
    I was wondering if you were comfortable addressing the difference between service animals and support animals and kind of elaborate on the topic of service animals in the workplace.
    Nowadays there are a lot of questions about service animals, service dogs, psychiatric service animals, emotional support animals - I could go on and on - what is the difference and what does the law say. There is a lot of confusion, in part, because there are multiple laws that cover service animals. Even the terminology differs!

    Let me start with the Americans with Disabilities Act. That is the law that people are most familiar with. The ADA and its regulations are under the purview of the Department of Justice. Laws are usually pretty vague. Think along the lines such as “thou shalt not discriminate against some with a disability”.  Regulations, written by Federal Agencies flesh that out into the rules of access. So the Department of Justice has detailed out the rules around service animals under the ADA. They just rewrote their regulations on service animals in 2010.

    In it they defined a service animal as a, “dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability.  The task(s) performed by the dog must be directly related to the person's disability.” These dogs are allowed out in public spaces because they assist the person to actually manage their disability and BE out in these “places of public accommodation.”

    Note they specifically only refer to dogs. The original regulations just said “animal” but it is now dogs only.

    So….does this count if the dog is for a mental health condition? Yes. If the dog is trained to perform a task that helps mitigate the individual’s disability. So the dog is actually DOING something. A psychiatric service dog, if you will.

    Also, let me just add, under the ADA you are NOT required to provide any paperwork or “proof” that the animal is a service animal. You can be asked “Is that a service animal?” and “What task does he/she do for you?” and that is it.

    So……..how is this different from an Emotional Support Animal (ESA)?

    Well, remember how we were talking about service animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act? And how it is managed by the Department of Justice? Well, the Fair Housing Act deals with discrimination in housing and falls under the purview of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. So this relates to animals and housing NOT out in public (although some folks will try to take ESAs out in public and argue that it is acceptable. Short answer - no it is not).

    Their definition includes “Emotional Support Animals” that provide support and help to ameliorate the symptoms of disabilities such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Note, unlike DOJ’s definition where the dog is trained to do specific tasks (including to assist with psychiatric health conditions), the emotional support animal helps an individual’s mental health by its companionship alone. It isn’t necessarily trained to do anything. Also note, the Fair Housing Act uses the term “animal” so it not restricted to dogs. There have been cats, birds, reptiles, and many other species. For the Fair Housing Act, all an individual needs to do is provide a letter from their physician stating their need for an emotional support animal.

    So now, let’s go to the most recent of laws that talks about service animals – the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA).  Rather than choosing to follow the DOJ or HUD, they created their own definition that is a bit of a mix of both of the older regulations. Under the Air Carrier Access Act a service animal is “any animal that is individually trained or able to provide a...

  • On this episode, we speak with Lainey Feingold about structured negotiation.

    Lainey Feingold is a disability rights lawyer focusing on digital access, an international speaker, and the author of Structured Negotiation, A Winning Alternative to Lawsuits.

    Structured Negotiation is a collaborative problem-solving strategy with a twenty year track record of resolving complex disability civil rights claims without lawsuits.  Lainey's Structured Negotiation negotiating partners include Bank of America, The City of San Francisco, Walmart, CVS and dozens of other public and private organizations. 

    Lainey's book is packed with win-win stories of accessibility advocacy, all without lawsuits.  In 2017 Lainey was named one of the 13 Legal Rebels by the ABA Journal, the national magazine of the American Bar Association.  That year she was also named the individual recipient of the John W. Cooley Lawyer as Problem Solver award, given annually by the Dispute Resolution Section of the ABA. Lainey has twice been recognized with a California Lawyer Attorney of the Year (CLAY) award (2000 and 2014) for her digital accessibility and Structured Negotiation legal work.   

    Questions Asked And Answered:

    What is structured negotiation?

    What makes structured negotiation different from filing lawsuits?

    How long can it take?

    What made Lainey want to do this work?

    What advice does she have for advocates?


    link to her web site

    To connect with her on Twitter, click here.

    To connect with her on Linked In, click here.

    Other Items Mentioned

    Accessible pedestrean Signals

    straw ban

    View the transcript of this episode.

  • Today’s show is about Competitive Integrated Employment. What is it? What does the term mean? Where did it come from? And how does it all intersect with the new Workplace Choice and Flexibility for Individuals with Disabilities Act (HR 5658)?
    Hello and welcome to Day in Washington, your disability policy podcast. I’m your host Day Al-Mohamed working to make sure you stay informed.  Recently, there has been a lot of discussion around the Workplace Choice and Flexibility for Individuals with Disabilities Act and competitive integrated employment. Including a massive protest on the Hill by disability group ADAPT.  What is competitive integrated employment? And why all the fuss?
    This issue actually has a fairly long history and involves more than one law so bear with me as I try to give a bit of context. This is about disability employment and it goes all the way back to the early 1930s. During those years, as a way to encourage employment for as many people as possible, the National Industrial Recover Act (NIRA) created a system of certificates that allowed for productivity-based wages for people with disabilities. Basically, if a person with a disability couldn’t make widgets as fast as the non-disabled guy, the company was allowed to pay him less. Sounds like that makes sense, right? Especially, in a country trying to recover from the Great Depression. It gets as many people jobs as possible. This was made permanent in the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. It is Section 14(c) and formally allows employers to pay wages below the federal minimum to employees who have disabilities.

    That same year, the Wagner O’Day Act was passed requiring that all federal agencies purchase certain supplies and services from nonprofit agencies who employed people who are blind. Basically, the government HAD to buy the mops and brooms, made by blind people, in these non-profits. The program was expanded in 1971 to include people who have other significant disabilities and renamed the Javits-Wagner O’Day Act (JWOD). It was renamed again in 2006 as AbilityOne.

    So, let me give you a little idea about how big this industry is. Currently, there are more than 600 of these non-profits who produce products and services under the AbilityOne Program and the Federal government MUST buy these products from them. More than mops and brooms, it is now pencils and paper, military uniforms, and beyond physical products, there are contracts for services like cleaning and cafeteria and commissary work.  In FY2015 alone, the Federal Government purchased more $3.2 billion of products and services.

    The laws about disability employment start to intersect with the general perception that many of the AbilityOne non-profits use Section 14(c) in segregated work centers aka sheltered workshops. To qualify to an AbilityOne non-profit, at least 75% of the work must be done by people who are blind or have other significant disabilities. By using Section 14(c), the labor cost for these companies is significantly lower than comparable private companies who pay “regular rates” for labor.

    I keep talking about AbilityOne and their non-profits and it seems kind of large and amorphous. To bring this down to reality and to an entity you might be familiar with – Goodwill Industries. Goodwill, you know, where you donate all your old clothes and children’s outgrown toys…they are an AbilityOne non-profit.

    So now, let me get to the nitty-gritty details of the issue...and a third piece of legislation. The Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act (WIOA), was signed into law in 2014. I won’t drown you in all the details but let me highlight a couple of “biggies.” WIOA updates the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The part we are specifically interested in is where it oversees the vocational rehabilitation system which helps people with disabilities get the support and training they might need to get a job.

  • Today's DIW interview is with Vilissa Thompson, LMSW, and creator of Ramp Your Voice! and #DisabilityTooWhite. She is an amazing writer and activist. Join us as we talk about living a "crippled and intersectional life," what disability means in different communities, her policy passion - black disabled women's health, and how she gets into "good trouble."

    To learn more about Vilissa, check out her website at: Ramp Your Voice or connect with her on Twitter @VilissaThompson. Bonus! Vilissa just started a Patreon! If you want to support disability activism at the intersection of race and disability and health, here is your opportunity - Ramp Your Voice Patreon

    DAY: Hello, and welcome to Day in Washington. I'm your host Day Al-Mohamed, and I'm really, really excited to expand the show to including interviews with some amazing people with disabilities. Today's guest is Vilissa Thompson, a licensed master social worker from Winnsboro, South Carolina. Hi! How are you?

    VILISSA: I'm great, Day. I'm so happy to be on.

    DAY: Awesome. So just as a quick, short introduction. Vilissa's the founder and CEO of Ramp Your Voice as well as a disability rights consultant, writer, and activist. She's been featured in Essence magazine, Forbes, has appeared in The New York Times and BuzzFeed and The Atlantic, among others. And in addition to her advocacy work, I wanna give a little shout out to the fact that she cohosts a podcast as well, which is Wheelin’ and Dealin’. And it looks at politics from an intersectional lens. Whoo! When do you sleep?

    VILISSA: I make time to sleep. Self-care is a priority because of all the hectic-ness. So I make time. I do. It's hard, but I do.

    DAY: I first learned of you through Ramp Your Voice. And those of you who don't, go check out the website right now at RampYourVoice.com. The curriculum that you built. And I was kind of hoping you might tell us a little bit more about that because I'm not sure enough people know about it.

    VILISSA: Oh, yes. You're talking about the syllabus?

    DAY: Sorry, yeah. The syllabus as well as a little bit about your website in general. Just the syllabus in particular is one of those things that I think doesn't get enough visibility.

    VILISSA: Well, with Ramp Your Voice, I created it, soon to be five years on July 19. So I'll be celebrating the 5th anniversary this month. And it was my way of creating a space that was a reflection of the world that I want to see, which were more diverse disabled voices. So it was my way of providing the things I was interested in as a black disabled woman, a social worker, and just someone who's living this very crippled and intersectional life. And with the black disabled woman syllabus, I really created it out of frustration of, particularly white disabled folks asking me why do you focus on black disabled women? Or why the harp on the need to discuss intersected identities by disabled people of color? And I got tired of people asking for this 101 information.

    So in 2016, and right before #DisabilityTooWhite hashtag went viral, I created the syllabus as a way of being a reference point so that if people had questions, I could be like, "Here. Here's a starting point for you to educate yourself and not ask me to do the labor so that you would understand why black disabled women [unclear] and the black disabled experience as a whole matters and why you need to be more conscious of the way that way that you talk about disability, the way that you bring about disability topics in conferences and panels, etc." So it was my way of not having to be pressured to do the labor that people fail to go to Google for. So I figured just put something together that mattered and that has been widely shared within the past two years, particularly within academia circles, having people really put their bodies of work and it would be a reference point in adding to what existed.

    DAY: I know the word intersection and intersectional ...

  • INTRODUCTIONHello and welcome to Day in Washington, your disability policy podcast. I’m your host Day Al-Mohamed working to make sure you stay informed.BACKGROUNDFor those of you who may not know, the Farm Bill is one of the largest and most complex statues we have. It is reauthorized every 5 years. This year, the Farm Bill and all of its programs expire on September 30. It covers food safety and production; it covers crop subsidies, agricultural research, rural development, farm credit, conservation, and nutrition assistance – what we used to call Food Stamps and is now called SNAP the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – which is the focus of this podcast.HISTORY & DETAILSThe first ever food stamp program in America began in 1939. The idea was to bridge the gap between the farm surpluses and the hungry, unemployed Americans who were suffering as a result of the Depression. Sounds like a great idea, right?I’m going to pause a moment to personalize the history a bit. The very first person to use these original food stamps, and is a good example of the reasoning behind the program, was Mabel McFiggin. Mabel was an unemployed factory worker from Rochester, New York. She used her stamps to buy surplus butter, eggs and prunes.Over the years, the program has grown and shrunk several times. When there were more people out of work and/or the economy was struggling, more people, including many who were still working (just not making enough), would qualify for Food Stamps. When times are good, fewer people applied to the program. It has changed in format and nomenclature. In 2008 it was renamed the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and all mention of coupons and stamps was removed as it had now transitioned to Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards that operate rather like debit cards. Its idea was to increase the food assistance available to impoverished Americans in the wake of the great recession of 2007.So let me take a minute to throw some numbers at you: More than 44 million Americans cannot afford basic food necessities. To put that in terms that are a bit more tangible, that rounds out to about one in eight. Think about that, 1 in 8 people rely on the SNAP program to eat. About 16 percent of households in rural areas participate in SNAP. But the numbers are more than 20% in Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oregon and Tennessee – so in those states, it isn’t 1 in 8 but one in five The vast majority of SNAP recipients are either children, seniors, or people with disabilities. While children make up about 50% of recipients overall, six million people with disabilities, many of whom are Medicaid recipients, rely on SNAP. And, just to highlight some of the economic impact of the program – SNAP boosts investment in the food industry. It generated more than half a million jobs in 2017 alone.There’s a great example of this from the Union of Concerned Scientists:“Suppose the economy in Anytown, USA takes a turn for the worse. A factory relocates, or maybe a natural disaster shuts down the town’s major industry for an extended period of time. Many households find that they have less money to spend, and business at local establishments slows. Because of hardships resulting from the economic downturn—perhaps job loss, or reduced hours—some families apply for SNAP benefits."As those families use SNAP dollars to help put food on their tables, the grocery stores they shop at begin to recover. With more revenue, these stores can hire back staff; resume full operation and pay for operational costs like lighting and refrigeration; and, of course, purchase more food from farmers and distributors to meet growing demand. And as SNAP spending is propagated through the supply chain, each sector that gets a share of that additional money is able to spend more money in turn.CHANGES TO THE SNAP PROGRAMRecently, there have been yet another set of changes being made to S...

  • Click below to listen to the audio podcast: 30 Days after the Women's MarchThe Women's March on Washington (WMW) was a once in a generation kind of event. Nothing has invigorated such action since the right for women to vote. On January 21st we witness an event that crossed populations and groups of women like never before. It was about women with disabilities, women of color, trans women, women incarcerated by the justice system, immigrants, sex workers, pro-choice, pro-life.the list goes on. For many of us, this is not about parties or platforms abut a fundamental belief in the equality of all women.All women.And the recognition of the individual rights integral to that value.The city was planning for 500,000 marchers. The final tally was estimated at closer to 1 million. Beyond Washington DC, people marched in almost 550 cities and towns in the U.S., and 100 more locations overseas. It was arguably THE largest single-day protest in American history. But to create lasting change and to make an impact we also have to work at what comes after.It has been just one month since the Women's March on Washington and a lot has happened since then - policies have been made, guidance's rescinded, executive orders signed (and overturned by the courts). To read the news and media reports of politics can be emotionally exhausting, disheartening, and paralyzing. How can we keep the fire, the passion, and the solidarity alive? There were a lot of articles about what to do next. Now, 30 days later, perhaps it is important to remind ourselves that we have the power and we make choices that can and do have an impact. Just a simple reminder of all the things we can do: Don't limit your advocacy. There are many ways to take action and each person should carefully consider their time, commitment, and dedication. In the time that has passed perhaps you have already chosen your advocacy priorities. Examine how you feel. Is this working? Choose actions that play to your strengths; that let you engage, learn, grow, and resist. And you don't have to do it alone. Find others who share your passion. Lean on each other. It is a long road ahead.This is a marathon, not a sprint. We must not allow time to dissuade us from our advocacy and normalize this new state of being, this new America. Stay active. Stay engaged. Perhaps as critical as #1, this is to ensure your advocacy and efforts are inclusive of all women. The WMW has sought to ensure that the voices of all women are heard (with some successes and some failures). It is very easy to fall into the trap of working on issues that are pertinent to us and to ignore, forget, or overlook other groups. Policies and politics can, and have been crafted to impact some groups more than others: undocumented women, women in the criminal justice system, poor women, women with disabilities, women of color, sex workers. We must always strive to reflect, center, and amplify the voices of those who are most directly threatened. It is also easy to become disheartened by actions, advocacy, and organizations that aren't getting it all right. Stay strong and always, always, speak out and demand accountability.Our actions must embrace issues that impact all women or we will find ourselves carved up into small special interests. Look around. Is your advocacy inclusive and diverse? Does it represent America, or only your small vision of it? Stay informed. The assumption is that of course we're informed! The reason this is listed as a separate item is because of the increased pressure on the press and on mainstream media for what could be deemed splashy headlines and clickbait articles. This is exacerbated by the vast increase of social media focused opinion pieces that have minimal facts but significant inflammatory language. We must be critical and questioning, especially as time passes and it becomes both easier to accept the status quo and m...

  • Click below to listen to the audio podcast: The Holman Rule and What Does it Mean for America?Hello and welcome to Day in Washington, your disability policy podcast. I'm your host Day Al-Mohamed working to make sure you stay informed.In early January, the House of Representatives passed a package of changes to their standing rules. These changes would supposedly enhance the House's ability to exercise its €˜power of the purse'. (Congressman Morgan Griffith (R-VA)). Adoption of procedural rules is pretty normal for any new congress. However, House Resolution 5, which in addition to attempting to move the Office of Congressional Ethics under more direct Congressional control (and which received significant amounts of public outcry), there was also another provision that's received some media coverage in Washington, but didn't quite capture the same level of attention. The Holman Rule.The final version of House Resolution 5 includes the reinstatement of a very old Rule from 1876, called the Holman Rule. Let me start with some background. Congress tends to work along two tracks: authorizing and appropriating. Authorizing legislation is what we usually think of when we say legislation or bills. Congress members vote on language that authorizes specific events, agencies, projects etc. The second track, which most people might not realize is quite so separate is appropriations legislation which is where congress members vote on what to fund and how much to fund it.The Holman Rule is specific to the appropriations track. It allows lawmakers to bring an amendment to an appropriations bill directly to the House floor that retrenches (meaning reduces) expenditures by: the reduction of amounts of money in the bill; the reduction of the number and salary of the officers of the United States; or the reduction of the compensation of any person paid out of the Treasury of the United States.At its core, it would seem the rule is to address saving money and (from a historical perspective) was used to help get rid of corrupt customs officials. Let me give an example of this. In the 1932 Treasury and Post Office Departments appropriations, there was a provision that said:The offices of comptrollers of customs, surveyors of customs, and appraisers of merchandise (except the appraiser of merchandise at the port of New York), 29 in all, with annual salaries aggregating $153,800, are hereby abolished. The duties imposed by law and regulation upon comptrollers, surveyors, and appraisers of customs, their assistants and deputies (except the appraiser, his assistants and deputies at the port of New York) are hereby transferred to, imposed upon, and continued in positions, now established in the Customs Service by or pursuant to law, as the Secretary of the Treasury by appropriate regulation shall specify. . . .So now that you have an idea of how it works, let's look at how things can get complicated.The goal of the rule is to take care of bloated expenditures and to ensure that the executive branch can address poor actors when it comes to agencies. This is about accountability and it allows any rank and file member to focus on specific programs and offices they deem to be wasteful.An example cited by the Washington Examiner (and if anyone has an example given by a legislator who voted for the amendment I'd prefer that), is the story of Elizabeth Rivera of Puerto Rico. She worked at the Department of Veterans Affairs. After pleading guilty to involvement in an armed robbery she was able to get her job back with the agency and win back pay for the period when she had been off the job. I have to admit, I think that would be great use of the Holman Rule.But does it also risk skewing the executive branch of government and its agencies more and more towards the political? Is there a risk of members targeting agencies or offices with missions they disagree with?

  • Click below to listen to the audio podcast: Labor Overtime Rule and the New Administration.The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA or Act) guarantees a minimum wage for 40 hours in a workweek and one and one-half times the employee's regular rate of pay for any hours worked over that 40. But there are exceptions. In the past you had to make less than $23,660 to get that mandatory overtime pay. The Department of Labor published a rule on May 23, 2016 that increases that amount to $47,476.For people with disabilities who rely on personal assistance services, most of which are funded by Medicaid, this had immense consequences. The key component is money. Many people who provide those services would now fall within the purview of the rule and so would have to be paid time-and-a-half for their hours over 40. The American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR), an association of over 1000 agencies that often provide this kind of in-home service gave an estimate that this would add over $1 billion in costs for agencies serving those with disabilities in the first year alone. State Medicaid rates do not take into account overtime.In addition, in recent years, time and again, efforts have been made limit Medicaid. Block grants, per capita caps etc. Efforts to push the cost onto States and unfortunately States aren't or cannot pick up the difference. That means either workers are not paid adequately (which this rule's enforcement will address) or there is a decrease in quality (and amount) of services available to people with disabilities. For many, this makes the difference of whether they can live independently at all.Obviously, there was significant pushback from the disability community as well as agencies providing services, including Congressional hearings and legal action.The Overtime Final Rule became effective on December 1, 2016. However, the Department of Labor is implementing a limited non-enforcement policy for providers of Medicaid-funded services for individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities in residential homes and facilities with 15 or fewer beds. This non-enforcement period will last until March 17, 2019. The idea is to give agencies (like DOL and HHS) and federal and state agencies and policymakers to better coordinate and understand the potential unintended consequences and ensure that the lives of people with disabilities and their ability to live independently are not harmed.Of course, it isn't over. This is merely a delay of implementation. Also, on the legal front, on November 22, a federal district court judge issued a preliminary injunction (State of Nevada v. United States Department of Labor (E.D. Tex., No. 4:16-CV-00731)). On December 8, the US Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit granted the Department of Labor's request for an expedited hearing of its overtime rule appeal. Of course in judicial time expedited means that the case won't even be heard for several months, and it'll take even more time beyond that for the case itself. What that means is that the Trump Administration and Congress could choose to repeal the rule, or at the very least, direct the Department of Labor to drop its legal appeal. ResourcesUSDOL Overtime Rule: https://www.dol.gov/whd/overtime/final2016/index.htmTime Limited Non-Enforcement Policy for a Subset of Medicaid-Funded Providers : https://www.dol.gov/whd/overtime/final2016/nonenforcement-faq.htmFederal Register Announcement for Non-Enforcement: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2016/05/23/2016-11753/defining-and-delimiting-the-exemptions-for-executive-administrative-professional-outside-sales-andDisability Rights and Labor: https://arineeman.com/2016/05/25/labor-and-disability-rights-a-chicken-and-egg-problem/

  • Click below to listen to the audio podcast: Intellectual Disability and the Death Penalty. There are 32 states in America that allow the death penalty for certain crimes, but prohibit the punishment from being used on specific populations such as children or persons with intellectual disabilities. That prohibition is a lot newer than people think. It was only in June of 2002 that the US Supreme Court ruled that sentencing people with intellectual disabilities to death is a violation of the Eight Amendment and that such executions are a form of "cruel and unusual punishment" (Atkins v. Virginia).However, as they say, the devil is in the details. What Atkins v. Virginia doesn't say is, how can a prosecutor determine a defendant's mental capacity? Who is and who is not a person with an intellectual disability? The easy answer that I think everyone would respond with would be, IQ tests. That was challenged in Hall v. Florida. Florida had said that anyone with an IQ of 70 or below had an intellectual disability. Freddie Lee Hall, scored a 71.The court reasoned that using a hard-and-fast metric of intellectual disability was arbitrary if other considerations were not considered in cases where the defendant scored close to 70. As a note, the APA (American Psychological Association).where IQ testing originally came from stated in their amicus brief that even they thought that a valid diagnosis required a more comprehensive assessment. And before you think Florida completely out of line, there are eight other states that have an IQ of 70 listed as their determinant for intellectual disability for the death penalty.Most states tend to follow along three general criteria for consideration: Significant subaverage intellectual functioning (usually defined as an IQ that is two standard deviations below the mean, generally 70 or below with a 5-point standard error measurement); Significant limitations in adaptive functioning (normally this means a finding of significant deficits in two or more skill areas); and Onset in the developmental period (typically considered to be before the age of eighteen).The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (CCA), thought the above criteria was too.lenient? They even said: Some might question whether the same definition of mental retardation that is used for providing psychological assistance, social services, and financial aid is appropriate for use in criminal trials to decide whether execution of a particular person would be constitutionally excessive punishment. So they took it upon themselves to create a definition, referred to as the Briseño factors. On June 6, 2016, the Supreme Court agreed to hear Moore v. Texas, a case that specifically looks at the these factors.So, in addition to the criteria above, seven additional factors for assessing someone's intellectual capacity were included: Did those who knew the person best during the developmental stage€”his family, friends, teachers, employers, authorities€”think he was mentally retarded at that time, and, if so, act in accordance with that determination? Has the person formulated plans and carried them through or is his conduct impulsive? Does his conduct show leadership or does it show that he is led around by others? Is his conduct in response to external stimuli rational and appropriate, regardless of whether it is socially acceptable? Does he respond coherently, rationally, and on point to oral or written questions or do his responses wander from subject to subject? Can the person hide facts or lie effectively in his own or others' interests? Putting aside any heinousness or gruesomeness surrounding the capital offense, did the commission of that offense require forethought, planning, and complex execution of purpose?Not very scientific. And what makes this particularly heinous is that if you think about how this would play out in a courtroom,

  • Reposted from: www.leadonnetwork.com/wordpressThis is a Day in Washington #Disability #Policy Podcast.Audio File: http://dayinwashington.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/3-BlackHistoryMonth-Bradley-Lomax-final.mp3Bradley LomaxIn the 1970's Bradley Lomax was an Oakland resident and member of the Black Panther Party (BPP). He also had Multiple Sclerosis and used a wheelchair.In 1974, Lomax was working at the Panthers' George Jackson Clinic, which provided free community medical care as part of the BPP serve the people programs. Recognizing the need for more disability services and supports in his own community, in 1975, Lomax approached Ed Roberts (who had helped found the Center for Independent Living in Berkeley in 1972), with a proposal to open a Center for Independent Living (CIL) in East Oakland under Black Panther sponsorship. Less than a year later, with Lomax as one of a two-person staff, the East Oakland CIL opened in a storefront, offering basic peer counseling and attendant referral.The BPP had no particular disability policy, but with Lomax's active participation in disability advocacy, they began supporting other initiatives, most notably the historic 504 sit-ins to force the government to implement Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.Bradley Lomax was an active participant in the sit-in, a sacrifice which much affected his disability later in life, and afterwards was a member the contingent that took the disability message to Washington DC.Quote from Corbett O'Toole, who stayed in the building for the duration of the protest, highlights how critical his involvement was:By far the most critical gift given us by our allies was the Black Panthers' commitment to feed each protester in the building one hot meal every day..The Panthers' representative explained that the decision of Panthers Brad Lomax and Chuck Jackson to participate in the sit-in necessitated a Panther response..and that if Lomax and Jackson thought we were worth their dedication, then the Panthers would support all of us. I was a white girl from Boston who'd been carefully taught that all African American males were necessarily/of necessity my enemy. But I understood promises to support each others' struggles.You can find out more about Bradley Lomax and the intersection of Disability, Solidarity, and the Black Power of 504 here: http://dsq-sds.org/article/view/1371/1539 You can find out more about the Black History of 504 here:http://sfbayview.com/2014/02/black-history-of-504-sit-in-for-disability-rights-more-than-serving-food-when-will-the-healing-begin

  • Reposted from: www.leadonnetwork.com/wordpressThis is a Day in Washington #Disability #Policy Podcast. Audio File: http://dayinwashington.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/2-BlackHistoryMonth-Kathy-D-Woods-final.mp3Although originally posted for Black History Month (February), Kathy D Woods is great for Women's History Month (March) as well!Black #Disability (Making) History: Kathy D. Woods, DesignerAs models with disabilities like Jillian Mercado, Madeline Stuart, and others start becoming household names, one might ask, where are the designers with disabilities? For a community that prides itself on nothing about us without us there seems to be a lot of models (with and without disabilities) wearing clothing made by nondisabled people. And thus, enters our shero. With an infectious laugh, infinite faith, and a drive like none other, Kathy D. Woods is part of an emerging trend of inclusive fashion advocates who see access to clothing that fits people with disabilities, as a critical element to self-confidence, and ultimately, to their success.Kathy D. Woods is a the owner and operator of a woman's clothing company showcasing fashions for women, ages 25-45, who want to invest in quality clothing with impeccable fit, style, and timeless appeal. Unlike every other designer with a Singer in their bedroom and an Etsy page, she brings true sartorial skill to a boutique market in dire need of her talents. KDW provides fashionable, high quality clothing that is expressly designed for adult little people.This former pre-school teacher with a background in special education, and entrepreneur decided to start a clothing venture after decades of struggling to find clothing that fit. If you bought to size, the clothing looked juvenile, if you bought for the age, the typical person with dwarfism swam in the fabric. So Kathy, as many LP women did before her and do today, was resigned to paying twice the price for clothingonce to purchase clothes and once to get them altered to fit her. But she came to want something different. Something for the LP community, by the LP community, where the profits could return to the base and be used to start internships, scholarship programs, programs to subsidize clothing for homeless or abused women with dwarfism to help them get back on their feet.It's obvious the vision for KDW goes beyond fashion, and Ms. Woods finds inspiration in First Lady Michelle Obama her approach to raising expectations and pride among African-American women and girls. (She got to visit the White House, and meet President Barack Obama in 2015 when she was a guest at the 25th Anniversary celebration of the Americans with Disabilities Act.) Kathy is also spearheading her own production company and is actively working to help transform the perceptions of Little People globally, so that when girls with dwarfism turn on the TV, they'll be greeted by positive images of their community, versus negative ones.In an interview with Alyssa Rosenberg in the Washington Post, Kathy D. Woods said€œYou look at this generation of little people. They're attending college, and basically they need to dress the part. My brand will help build confidence and my goal is to provide little people women with the tools to help become successful. You look good, you feel good, Woods argues. When you try on clothes that fit your body, it's like an awakening.For more information on Kathy Woods Designs, visit her website at http://www.kathydwoodsstore.com or follow her on Tumblr http://kathydwoods.tumblr.com or Twitter @kathydwoods.

  • Reposted from: www.leadonnetwork.com/wordpressThis is a Day in Washington #Disability #Policy Podcast.Audio File: http://dayinwashington.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/1-BlackHistoryMonth-Cathay-Williams-final.mp3Although originally posted for Black History Month (February), Cathay Williams is great for Women's History Month (March) as well!Cathay Williams (September 1844 1892)On 15 November 1866 in St. Louis, Cathay Williams enlisted in the United States Army, 38th Infantry as a man named William Cathay. To date, she is the only documented African-American woman who served in the U.S. Army (until modern time).From the St. Louis Daily Times, January 2, 1876:€œThe regiment I joined wore the Zouave uniform and only two persons, a cousin and a particular friend, members of the regiment, knew that I was a woman. They never €˜blowed' on me. They were partly the cause of my joining the army. Another reason was I wanted to make my own living and not be dependent on relations or friends. Soon after I joined the army, I was taken with the small-pox and was sick at a hospital across the river from St. Louis, but as soon as I got well I joined my company in New Mexico.She seemed an average soldier; she performed garrison duty adequately enough. She drilled and trained with Company A, and went scouting for signs of hostile Native Americans. There was no cause for her to be remarked upon either positively or negatively in any officer reports of record.In January 1868 her health began deteriorating. On the 27th, she was admitted to the post hospital for rheumatism. She released, and then was admitted again on March 20th. During her military career, she was in four hospitals, on five separate occasions, for varying amounts of time. On July 13, she was admitted into the hospital and diagnosed with neuralgia (a catch-all term for pain caused by a nerve, or parts of the nervous system). Finally, on October 14, 1868 William Cathey was discharged with a certificate of disability.After this, she resumed her identity as Cathay Williams and worked in New Mexico and Colorado as cook, laundress and nurse.In 1890, she was hospitalized in eighteen months though no mention is given of the specific ailment. In June 1891 she filed for an invalid pension based upon her military service. She claimed loss of hearing, neuralgia, and rheumatism. Upon a doctor's examination, pension records show that all her toes on both feet had been amputated, and she could only walk with a crutch.From DeAnne Blanton's CATHAY WILLIAMS, BLACK WOMAN SOLDIER: It is unfortunate that so little is known of Cathay Williams. The information in her pension file together with the scattered references to her in military records is all that exists. The fragmentary references to her physical condition, however, provide some clues as to what may have caused of her various ailments during the course of her adult life. It is entirely possible that Cathay Williams suffered from mild diabetes.The Pension Bureau rejected her claim on the grounds that no disability existed.ResourcesYou can read more about her here Cathay Williams, Female Buffalo Soldier: http://www.buffalosoldier.net/CathayWilliamsFemaleBuffaloSoldierWithDocuments.htmAnd Cathay Williams, Black Woman Buffalo Soldier:http://www.beyondblackwhite.com/cathay-williams-black-woman-buffalo-soldier/

  • This is a Day in Washington #Disability #Policy Podcast.

    Audio File: http://dayinwashington.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Executive-Order-on-Gun-Violence-and-2.mp3 

    The President's Executive Order on Gun Violence and Mental Health

    Hello and welcome to Day in Washington, your disability policy podcast. I'm your host, Day Al-Mohamed working to make sure you stay informed. Today, I want to talk about the President's Executive Orders on gun violence.

    There are a lot of things that are rolled up into that so I thought it might be useful to break them open a little bit, look at them and see what might be of interest here to the disability community.

    One of the first things on there is that it talks about processing background checks 24 hours a day, seven days a week and improving notification of local authorities when certain persons unlawfully attempt to buy a gun. This sounds like a really good idea; I know there have been backlogs and it's been difficult to keep up and checks are going through as well as they can, so it really offers some substantial change. Again, the creation of the Internet Investigation Center to better track illegal online firearm sales as well as additional ATF agents for the enforcement and prosecution of gun laws - all sound really good. Of course that one in particular, it will come down to implementation. Does this actually get implemented to ensure it works effectively?

    Now this next one is the point that made me think; it specifically says: "Increase mental health treatment and reporting to the background check system." Whoa, so including mention, automatically connects the two, "mental health" and "violence." The disability community has repeatedly cited statistics from research and from the government's own reports showing that individuals with mental health conditions are actually more likely to be victims of violence. So the presence of it here sets an expectation that could be problematic.

    The Administration is proposing a $500 million investment to increase access to mental health care. That sounds pretty good.

    So here's the real kicker, Social Security will include information in the background check system about beneficiaries who are prohibited from possessing a firearm for mental health reasons. Riiight (said sarcastically). Social Security will "include information." I have a problem with that.

    Reading through, there are a few other issues. One was smart gun technology and also anyone who is "engaged in the business" of selling firearms must be licensed and conduct background checks on their customers." But let's go back to the mental health treatment and reporting.

    So in the last seven years our country's made some fantastic progress in expanding health coverage for many americans and even before that there was the Mental Health Parity Act and the ADA and those were both pushing the way we think about mental health and mental illness, fighting to reduce stigma, increased services, and encouraging people to seek treatment.

    The reports that SSA along with the Department of Justice will basically include in that database are basically 75,000 people who have a documented (and that's actually 75,000 per year) who have a documented mental health issue, receive disability benefits, and are unable to manage those benefits because of their mental impairment or have been found by state or federal court to be legally incompetent.

    It reminds me of the way we treat people who use food stamps and the way I've heard politicians talk about the program and its recipients. They're all about preventing them from being able to buy soda or candy bars or junk food, adding restriction upon restriction.

    Now we do hear about the few people who may game the system but at the same time we also hear about people who are working two and three jobs and still needing the support that food stamps gives them - to basically put food on the table.

  • The blog quoted below is a repost from the Department of Labor's blog that was posted on November 9, 2016. I wrote it to highlight some great work being done by the Integrated Recovery Network as a part of the Add Us In initiative. Over and over, it has been reiterated that many of the people going in and out of our prison system have some sort of mental health condition. Some estimates are as high as 50%. But I have to admit, I have not heard much from the disability community about these individuals. When the nation is talking about the school-to-prison pipeline, this is a population at risk. When we talk about living independently with appropriate supports etc. these are not usually the people mentioned. But they need to be.This is a Day in Washington #Disability #Policy Podcast.Audio File: http://dayinwashington.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Ban-the-Box-episode.output.mp3 Recidivism programs and advocates focus on work and housing but often do not address the mental health and/or substance abuse issues (or indeed any disability); disability programs do not address the very real problem of the interaction of these individuals with the criminal justice system. Unless both aspects are looked at, and until both communities can recognize the multiple facets and identities - the intersectionality - of this population, we will continue to fail people with disabilities who are connected to the criminal justice system.Over the past few years, a growing list of city, state and local governments; organizations; and private companies have come forward to support Ban the Box. It's an initiative to persuade employers to remove the question Have you been convicted? from job applications and delay that inquiry until the final stages of the hiring process. The goal is for employers to make hiring decisions based on a candidate's skills and qualifications, not their past transgressions. This month, President Obama took an historic step by directing the Office of Personnel Management to take action to ban the box in federal employment. As a result, OPM will modify its rules to delay inquiries into criminal history until later in the hiring process.Encouraging employers to make this shift is critical. An estimated 70 million Americans €” one in four adults €” have a criminal record. Employment is a stabilizing factor in anyone's life, providing a sense of structure and responsibility, and it's strongly correlated with reduced recidivism for those reintegrating into the community following incarceration. Because employers often hesitate to hire an ex-offender, not having to check that box can make a massive difference.Marsha Temple, of Los Angeles' Integrated Recovery Network, knows well the stories of many of the individuals for whom the box is a major barrier. For more than 15 years, she has worked to improve mental health services for people who are homeless and/or have mental health disorders €” about 44 percent of whom have spent time in jail, prison or community corrections. In California alone, there are about 33,000 prisoners with mental health disorders, roughly 30 percent of the incarcerated population.As a part of the Add Us In initiative funded by the Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy, Temple has spent the last five years focusing on providing employment services to difficult-to-place candidates with disabilities, including those who have a history of addiction and other mental health disorders, which are so often intertwined with homelessness and incarceration.One example is K.L., a 38-year-old Latina who at an early age became involved with drugs and gangs, eventually landing in prison. Upon release, she was determined to turn her life around. Recognizing that employment was key, she obtained certifications in both food handling and forklift operation. She was called for interviews, but no one would hire her.

  • Day in Washington #Disability #Policy Podcast. Update on the #ABLEAct and Crabs in a Barrel. Did we sacrifice #disability community solidarity and the good of the many for the good of the few?Audio File: http://dayinwashington.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Able-Act-Update-and-Crabs-in-a-Barre.mp3TRANSCRIPT:Hello and welcome to Day in Washington, your disability policy podcast. I'm your host Day Al-Mohamed working to make sure you stay informed. Today, I want to give a bit of an update on the Able Act.The ABLE Act was signed into law by President Obama on December 3rd, 2014. When Able accounts first came out, I'll admit, from a policy standpoint, I was pretty excited. I even did a video Day in Washington about it. Let me give you the quick details:ABLE Act savings accounts would basically allow people with disabilities (and their families), for perhaps the first time, to be able to save money for things they might need without risking their benefits, including health care. Things like, saving for school, or an accessible van (which let me tell, you I only learned recently how expensive those are), additional personal care services, or assistive technology.among other things. You see, public benefits like Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI), and Medicaid for example require you prove that you're poor. Basically, you can't have more than $2,000 and that isn't just cash, that is any asset or item of value. I still remember a young man I met during rehab. God, he couldn't have been more than 19. He cried over the fact he had to give up his classic car. It was the one thing in his life that was his. He'd rebuilt it from scratch, piece by piece. And now, to get access to a surgery he needed and additional care for his diminishing eyesight, he had to sell it.But, lets get back to the Able accounts. Now, people with disabilities and their families can have these savings accounts, which aren't too different from the tax-exempt college savings accounts that you may be familiar with. Up to $14,000 can be deposited into the account per year up to a total of $100,000 before the individual loses some of their SSI. Another key advantage of the ABLE Act is that people with disabilities need never fear that they would lose their Medicaid. For many, that is the only way they can afford their health and personal care services.So now, let me get to the compromises. Although the monetary limitations mentioned above are also compromises, the largest and the compromise that bothers me the most, is the fact that the ABLE act limits its eligibility to people with significant disabilities who got their disability before turning 26.As of March, more than half of the states are now starting to put regulations in place to create these accounts. Which is good news. I have to admit some disappointment that the Able Act will not do everything that we all once hoped. In a world where X percentage of families with a member with a disability live in poverty, we already see growing economic disparities. As it stands, this bill would seem to benefit mostly those who can afford to use these accounts. Also, although the age limit may be helpful for individuals who are born with disabilities, there are many who acquire significant disabilities after 26 that can have devastating effects on their families and their children. And now, this option is no longer available to them.I understand that this bill had and still has an expensive price tag and decisions had to be made. But this disturbs me in that I wonder if we are sacrificing one part of the community for another. When it came to ENDA, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and there was a push to remove Trans individuals from the protection of the legislation, I was proud to see many members of the LGBT community, and folks I worked with and lobbied with absolutely withdraw support. All of us, or none of us.Obviously,

  • Day in Washington #Disability #Policy Podcast. #GirlScouts Refuses to Provide #Interpreter Services for #Deaf Member. Have they forgotten their own history?! They were founded by a woman with a significant hearing impairment! (Note from Day: The post is up a little late. It's dated for December but still important!) TRANSCRIPT:Hello and welcome to Day in Washington, your disability policy podcast. Together, we will explore and analyze issues of interest to the disability community. I'm your host Day Al-Mohamed working to make sure you stay informed. Today, I want to talk about a lawsuit currently in the 7th Circuit. It involves a young girl, a deaf girl, who uses sign language and it involves the Girl Scouts of America.First, let me start with Juliette Gordon Low. Juliette Gordon Low was the founder of the Girl Scouts of America. Because of chronic ear infections she became deaf in one ear in early adulthood, losing hearing in her other ear in 1886. She was 26 years old. In 1912, she created the Girl Scouts to build girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place and to create programs for girls of all age levels, races, ethnicities, beliefs, economies, geographies and physical abilities.I bring up Juliette Gordon Low, the deaf founder of the Girl Scouts of America because on December 10th, 2014 the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals heard the oral argument in a case brought on behalf of Megan Runion, a 15 year-old deaf girl who was denied American Sign Language interpreters at Girl Scout meetings.Let me read from the Complaint filed with the US District Court Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division:Megan Runnion is a 12-year-old girl who joined the Girl Scouts when she was in kindergarten. Megan is deaf and communicates using American Sign Language or ASL. For six years, Megan was provided with a sign language interpreter by Girl Scouts for troop meetings and outings, giving her an opportunity equal to her peers to participate in Girl Scout activities.Megan loved being a Girl Scout. Near the start of 2011 to 2012 school year as Megan began sixth-grade, Girl Scouts stopped providing sign language interpreters. Despite requests by Megan's mother to reinstate the interpreter services, Girl Scouts refused. Then, in January of 2012 without warning to Megan or her family, the troop leaders announced that Megan's troop was disbanding.Megan's mother was informed that the troop was being disbanded because of her insistence that the Girl Scouts provide interpreter services for Girl Scout programs and activities. Megan has not been offered placement in a new troop with interpreter services despite her mother requesting such placement. Thus, for the very first time since kindergarten, Megan is not a Girl Scout.You'll notice this case is at the Appellate level. That's because Megan lost at the local district court level. The court said that as a matter of law, Girl Scouts is not "principally engaged in the business of providing education, healthcare, housing, social services, or parks and recreation." All items that they would receive federal financial assistance for and therefore which fall under the purview of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Thereby making it mandatory that they provide interpreter services.Just for a bit of background the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. It stablishes a federal program that basically is supposed to improve the lot of individuals with disabilities and among its purposes are, let me quote here: "...to empower individuals with disabilities to maximize employment, economic self-sufficiency, independence, and inclusion and integration into society." So the idea being that if there's an entity who receives federal funding then that entity should do everything in their power to be inclusive and not discriminate against anyone with a disability.So at the district court level,

  • Day in Washington #Disability #Policy Podcast. #Youth with Disabilities in the Juvenile Justice (#JJ) System and Access to #EducationTRANSCRIPT:Hello and welcome to Day in Washington, your disability policy podcast. Together, we will explore and analyze issues of interest to the disability community. I'm your host Day Al-Mohamed working to make sure you stay informed. Today, I want to talk about young people with disabilities in the Juvenile Justice system and what the Department of Education is doing to ensure they get their Educational needs met.On December 5th The U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services sent out a letter focusing on the educational needs of students with disabilities who are in correctional facilities and highlighting that the requirements of Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) do apply to these students and it is the responsibility of States, State educational agencies and public agencies (including local educational agencies (LEAs), and responsible noneducational public agencies to make sure students are getting appropriate accommodations.€œThe U.S. Departments of Education and Justice recently stated, the fact that a student has been charged with or convicted of a crime does not diminish his or her substantive rights or the procedural safeguards and remedies provided under the IDEA to students with disabilities and their parents."Absolutely!The letter also provides information regarding technical assistance and other relevant resources to help with these students' reintegration into the school setting or participation in programs.Now let me pause and say that students with disabilities represent a large portion of students in correctional facilities. National reports put it at about 1/3 of the population of students in juvenile facilities with some having as few as 9% and others as high as 78%.Let me give you my top 7 key points made in this letter regarding IDEA, Part B requirements, as they pertain to students with disabilities: Absent a specific exception, all IDEA protections apply to students with disabilities in correctional facilities and their parents Every agency at any level of government that is involved in the provision of special education and related services to students in correctional facilities must ensure the provision of a Free Appropriate Public Education, even if other agencies share that responsibility. States must have interagency agreements or other methods for ensuring coordination so that it is clear which agency or agencies are responsible for providing or paying for services necessary for these students with disabilities in correctional facilities. State Education Agencies must exercise general supervision over all educational programs for students with disabilities in correctional facilities (unless covered by an exception) to ensure that their educational programs meet State education standards and IDEA, Part B requirements (and that also means ensuring that those same students are included in general State and district assessments. States and their public agencies must have procedures in place to identify, locate, and evaluate students who are in correctional facilities who may have a disability under the IDEA and are in need of special education and related services. Remember that wide variance in percentages of students with disabilities in correctional facilities I mentioned earlier 9% to 78%. Part of the reason for that maybe be related to the question of how much has been invested in identifying and assessing students for disabilities versus assumptions that it is behavioral or that they're problem kids.just a bit of opinion there. Unless there is a specific exception, all IEP content requirements apply to students with disabilities in correctional facilities, including the special education and related services and supplem...