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Disability Inclusive Grantmaking is the mission of DFN: inclusion of disability in grantmaking programs and inclusion of people with disabilities in grantmaking organizations.

DFN E-News: Vol. 2, No. 6


Disability in the News

Free Our People March and Rally

The ADAPT-sponsored Free Our People March began on September 4 at the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia and ended on September 17 on Capitol Hill. The marchers entered Upper Senate Park over 500 strong, according to ADAPT, the major national disability community organizing organization focusing on promoting services in the community as opposed to institutions. The 200 people who traveled 144 miles from Philadelphia were joined by another 350, who rode the Free Our People Train down from New York. Hundreds of others joined the rally on Capitol Hill to demand passage of the Medicaid Community-based Attendant Services and Supports Act (MiCASSA).

On September 10, the National Council on Disability (NCD) issued a news release “acknowledging the significance” of the march and rally, adding that “there are too many hundreds of thousands of people with disabilities who, because of the bias of the current Medicaid system, are destined to spend their lives in nursing homes or institutions against their wishes.”

MiCASSA, introduced but not yet enacted in the last several Congresses, would end the institutional bias of Title XIX of the Social Security Act by allowing people eligible for services from nursing facilities or intermediate care facilities or people with intellectual disabilities to receive community-based attendant services and support. MiCASSA would require services that are provided in the most integrated setting appropriate to the needs of the individual. The Act would allow consumers to choose among various consumer-controlled service delivery models, including vouchers, direct cash payments, fiscal agents and agency providers.

On September 17, the day of the rally, ADAPT received an invitation from the White House to “continue our discussion . . . of policies to promote home and community based services for people with disabilities.” Bob Kafka of ADAPT acted as master of ceremonies for the rally. Speakers included Yoshiko Dart, Sen. Tom Harkin and Sen. Arlen Spector.

[Adapted from NCD Press Release #03-437, ADAPT press releases, and “Going the Distance for the Disabled,” Washington Post, Sept. 17, 2003, p. B03]

For more information on NCD’s statement, contact Mark Quigley or at 202-272-2004 or 202-272-2074 TTY. For information on the ADAPT march and rally, go to www.adapt.org or www.freeourpeople.org.

President Bush Changes Name of Mental Health Advisory Committee

This summer President Bush changed the name of the President’s Committee on Mental Retardation to the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities. The committee, set up in 1966, serves to advise the president and the secretary of Health and Human Services and to coordinate with federal agencies. The name change followed a recommendation by the President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health to better integrate people with mental illnesses into the mainstream, and it reflects the president’s “efforts to promote equality for people with mental illness.”

[Adapted from an Asociated Press Washington Post (www.washingtonpost.com) article on 7/27/03]

Technology for All Americans

In honor of the 13th anniversary of the ADA, the undersecretary for technology at the U.S. Department of Commerce announced eight steps to further advance assistive technologies for Americans with disabilities, which is a major part of the President’s New Freedom Initiative.

In February 2003, the department completed a review of the U.S. assistive technology (AT) industry and published findings and recommendations in its report, “Technology Assessment of the U.S. Assistive Technology Industry.” The AT industry designs, manufactures and markets devices used to increase, maintain or improve functional capabilities of people with disabilities. AT devices encompass a range of technologies and disciplines that include canes, walkers, conventional wheelchairs, orthotics/prosthetics and hearing aids. As AT devices become more complex and technologically advanced, manufacturers must integrate a variety of new engineering and manufacturing components and processes. Examples include computer-controlled wheelchairs, voice recognition software and refreshable Braille computer displays.

The department has set forth the following eight-point initiative:

  1. collecting data analysis to increase export promotion opportunities;
  2. reaching out to the AT industry;
  3. cataloguing trade barriers;
  4. manufacturing guidance and reference;
  5. facilitating measurements and standards development;
  6. promoting technology transfer;
  7. establishing a National Science and Technology Council Working Group; and
  8. reporting to the Secretary.

The Department of Commerce will execute the components of this initiative, and the Technology Administration will provide a status report to the secretary by March 2004.

[Adapted from White House associate director for domestic policy e-mail alert, 7/24/03. The report is available at www.bis.doc.gov/defenseindustrialbaseprograms/OSIES/DefMarketResearchRpts/assisttechrept/index.htm]

HalfthePlanet Foundation and The ARC Launch TheDesk.info

AIMMM, a program of HalfthePlanet Foundation, is partnering with The ARC of the United States in the nation’s first Web site created by The Medicaid Reference Desk. The site provides an online “road map” to critical consumer information about government-funded health services. The Web site currently has information posted on Medicaid in California, Colorado, Iowa, Maryland, Montana, New Hampshire, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina and Wisconsin. Consumers can go to www.TheDesk.info for more information about what services are available and eligibility requirements for each state.

NOD Harris Poll

The NOD Harris Poll Survey released on the 13th anniversary of the signing of the ADA confirms that a majority of Americans support key elements of the ADA. This latest poll shows that the public continues to be strongly supportive. It is therefore a message to political leaders and the courts that America backs the ADA. For more information, contact NOD at 202-293-5960; TTY: 202-293-5968; or visit www.nod.org.

[Adapted from HalfthePlanet Newsletter, August 2003]

Disability and Latino Conference

Approximately 225 Latinos, disability rights activists, service providers and many leaders from the government and business communities participated in the second annual “Bridges to Employment” conference. The focus of the conference — organized by Proyecto Visión, National Technical Assistance Center, and held on August 6-9 in Manhattan — was to explore opportunities for Latinos with disabilities. Dr. Robert Pasternack, assistant secretary of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services, opened the conference by emphasizing the merits of Latino workers with disabilities and the importance raising awareness among employers about the benefits of hiring them. The conference was developed as one of the main activities of Proyecto Visión, administered through the World Institute on Disability (WID) and funded by the Rehabilitation Services Administration. A full report on the conference will be published in September on the project’s Web site, www.proyectovision.net. For additional information contact Kathy Martinez at 510-251-4326 or Kathy@wid.org.

Highlights on People and Organizations

With Equity and Assets for All (WEAFA)

Last May in Washington, D.C., With Equity and Assets for All (WEAFA), a coalition of organizations representing the asset development and disability communities, met to create a common platform for economic independence for people with disabilities. WEAFA advocates uniting disability and mainstream policies and programs that support economic stability and independence.

Despite strong evidence linking disability and poverty, advocacy organizations and public policy makers focusing on economic independence tend to bypass issues of disability in their reports and policy agendas. Consequently, the needs of people with disabilities are separated from mainstream public policy, and they receive supports and services mostly from disability-specific programs and organizations — which do not emphasize financial literacy and asset development. In addition, high unemployment rates and out-of-pocket medical expenses make it difficult for people with disabilities to create short-term or long-term savings strategies.

The first working group identified opportunities for collaboration with disability organizations, financial institutions, public agencies and policymakers at the national, state and local levels. DFN participated in the working group, along with the World Institute on Disability (WID), the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) and other DFN members. The working group will continue to hold monthly meetings in Washington, D.C.

WEAFA conducts educational sessions for policymakers, and members post research and information through member networks. For more information about WEAFA, contact Michael Morris at the National Disability Institute, mmorris@ncbdc.org or 202-521-2930.

[Adapted from an article in WID‘s publication, Impact, vol. 9, no. 1, Summer-Fall 2003]

The California Endowment Announces Election to Its Board of Directors

The California Endowment (www.calendow.org) announced the election of Tessie Guillermo and Fernando Torres-Gil to its board of directors. Guillermo is president, chief executive officer and co-founder of the Community Technology Foundation of California (CTFC). CTFC, a DFN member, was founded to bridge the digital divide in California’s underserved communities, including people with disabilities. Torres-Gil is associate dean for academic affairs at UCLA’s School of Public Policy and Social Research and is an expert in the fields of long-term care, the politics of aging, social policy, ethnicity and disability.

NIH Conference Highlights: National Institutes of Health Conference on Physical Disabilities Through the Lifespan

DFN member Dee Delaney of the FISA Foundation (Pittsburgh, PA), sent in the following article on the National Institute on Health conference on physical disabilities.

On July 21 and 22, 2003, over 700 people with disabilities, researchers, policy makers and advocates gathered at The National Institutes of Heath (NIH) in Bethesda, Md., for a conference on “Physical Disabilities Through the Lifespan.” The conference focused on a multiplicity of cross-disability issues related to physical disabilities and placed specific emphasis on aging. Speakers explored topics relating to disability and aging from two distinct perspectives: those aging with a disability and those experiencing disabilities associated with aging. With the vast improvements in health care, these two issues now affect a population that is both unprecedented in number and notoriously under-researched.

With the goal of setting forth a research agenda to concurrently identify the empirical gaps in past scientific research and inform public policy on issues related to age and disability, the NIH hopes to focus on concrete recommendations that arose from presenters and participants alike. The NIH plans to utilize these numerous recommendations and addendums to prepare a report that will be made available on the NIH Web site.

Books, Reports and Other Resources

New Freedom Commission on Mental Health Report

The New Freedom Commission on Mental Health issued its report, “Achieving the Promise: Transforming Mental Health Care in America,” a comprehensive year-long study representing expert health care testimony and consumer comments from over 2,300 people across the nation. The report describes the current mental health system as a “patchwork relic” and calls for “fundamentally transforming how mental-health care is delivered in America.” Advocacy groups for people with mental disabilities generally praised the report and challenge policymakers to take action based on its findings.

The commission estimates that between 5 percent and 7 percent of U.S. adults have a severe mental illness and that a similar rate of U.S. children experience serious emotional disturbances. Probably the largest obstacle to care, the report finds, is the fragmented and disconnected delivery system of public programs and private care. The report’s broader goals address mental health treatment in addition to early intervention and recovery and makes recommendations ranging from increasing access in rural areas to better use of health-related technology. The commission does not propose any new programs or particular spending priorities.

Among the report’s recommendations are that the U.S. mental health system focus on education to help eliminate the stigma associated with mental illness; direct special educational programs at rural residents, minorities and individuals who speak English as a second language; respect patient rights; and use seclusion or restraints as a last resort and that individuals with severe mental illnesses and their families have more input in their treatment.

The report is available at www.mentalhealthcommission.gov./reports/FinalReport/toc.html. Print copies of the commission’s final report can be obtained by calling the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Mental Health Information Center at 1-800-662-4357 or 1-800-228-0427 (TTD).

[Adapted from an e-mail alert from Disability Funding News, 7/25/03; an NCD News Release, 7/22/03; and www.kaisernetwork.org.]

National Council on Disability Annual Report

In its recent annual report, National Disability Policy: A Progress Report, the National Council on Disability (NCD) outlines policy developments and makes recommendations in major areas affecting the independence, productivity and integration of people with disabilities, including civil rights, employment, accessible transportation and long-term care.

An Associated Press article covering the release stressed the finding that state budget cuts and recent Supreme Court rulings that have narrowed the scope of the ADA are negatively affecting people with disabilities. With several states facing budgetary shortfalls, many have made cuts in their Medicaid programs because they typically are “one of the largest and fastest-growing” state budget items. Optional programs within Medicaid, such as home-based care for people with disabilities, often have been targeted for cuts.

In the area of civil rights, NCD recognized that the greatest achievement of 2002 was the inclusion of access to the polls for people with disabilities, but cited “notable losses” in recent Supreme Court decisions. These, “coupled with a degree of backsliding in employment and some critical areas of access, have suggested to many people with disabilities that a clear intent to weaken the ADA is under way. . . .” said Dr. Robert R. Davilla, an NCD member.

NCD recommended that Congress hold hearings on the impact of budget cuts on people with disabilities and provide funding to keep them out of institutions. The panel also advised the federal government to “aggressively publicize” the ADA, provide technical assistance in its implementation and enforce the law. In addition, the panel called a new law that requires polling centers to be fully accessible to the disabled by 2006 the “greatest achievement of the year” (Salant, AP/Las Vegas Sun, 7/24). The report is available online.

[Adapted from an Associated Press article by Jonathan D. Salant, a Kaisernetwork news report (7/25/03) and NCD Press releases. For more information, contact Mark Quigley or Martin Gould at 202-272-2004. To access the report go to www.ncd.gov/newsroom/publications/progressreport_final.html.]

NCD Report on Olmstead Decision (Community-Based Services)

In a report released in August, NCD stated that community-based services work, but more needs to be done. Although some states received high marks, most have failed to comply with the 1999 Olmstead Supreme Court decision requiring them to move certain individuals with disabilities out of institutions and into community settings. The Court ruled that under the ADA, states must house individuals with disabilities in communities rather than institutions “if they are capable of living in home settings.”

Reasons cited for noncompliance are lack of housing subsidies, lack of public awareness and an “institutional bias” in Medicaid toward housing individuals with disabilities in nursing homes and institutions rather than in community settings. Although federal regulations require states to cover nursing home care in their Medicaid programs, coverage for community-based care remains optional, and in many cases budgetary concerns often eliminate optional benefits.

The report recommends that the federal government provide states with more guidelines on compliance and ensure that states identify those individuals with disabilities who could be housed in community settings.

Access this story and related links online at www.kaisernetwork.org/daily_reports/rep_index.cfm?DR_id=19349. For NCD’s report, “Olmstead: Reclaiming Institutionalized Lives,” go to http://www.ncd.gov/newsroom/publications/reclaimlives.html.

NCD Report on Foreign Policy and Disability

In its recently released report, “Foreign Policy and Disability: Legislative Strategies and Civil Rights Protections to Ensure Inclusion of People with Disabilities,” NCD examines legislative changes that will ensure the inclusion of people with disabilities in all foreign assistance programs under the direction of the U.S. Department of State and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

The report states that 80 percent of the 600 million people worldwide with disabilities ive in developing countries. Some are treated as outcasts and others face discrimination through architectural and other barriers. Among the various strategies and approaches to improve foreign assistance policies and practices, NCD recommends that certain U.S. foreign aid programs be tied to helping people with disabilities, just as they are now used to promote other human rights groups. The Associated Press cites the report as noting that the United States is well-positioned to lead the world in demonstrating how to build on the tremendous human potential of people with disabilities and that failure to respond to the challenges ignores one of the great humanitarian and human rights challenges of the world today.

This report is a follow-up to a 1996 Foreign Policy and Disability report, which recommended a series of policy changes at the State Department and USAID. While government agencies responded to the earlier report by saying they would include people with disabilities, NCD said they offered no timetables or objectives to meet that goal. NCD has now concluded that inclusion of people with disabilities in U.S. foreign policy will only be achieved when specific legislation is enacted to achieve that purpose, and one of its recommendations is that Congress amend the Foreign Assistance Act to require every U.S. agency operating abroad to operate in a manner that is accessible to and inclusive of people with disabilities.

For more information, contact Mark Quigley or Joan Durocher at 202-272-2004 or 202-272-2074 TTY. NCD’s report is available at www.ncd.gov/newsroom/publications/foreign03.html.

[Adapted from an Associated Press report, “Panel Pushes for Disabled Rights Abroad,” 9/8/03; a Justice for All Email Alert, 9/9/03; and an NCD News Release, 9/9/03]

New Web Site: Disability Policy Resources

A new disability policy Web site went online on Sept. 1, 2003, containing training materials, policy papers and policy briefs prepared by Robert “Bobby” Silverstein, director of the Center for the Study and Advancement of Disability Policy (CSADP) in Washington, D.C., and former staff director and chief counsel to the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Disability Policy, chaired by Senator Tom Harkin. The address for the Web site is www.disabilitypolicycenter.org.

The Web site is organized by relevant topic areas. The following topics are included:

  • Advocacy Training Materials
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
  • Disability Policy in General
  • Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
  • Olmstead Supreme Court Case
  • Personal Assistance Services (PAS)
  • Rehabilitation Act (See Vocational Rehabilitation)
  • State Medicaid Buy-In Programs and State Work Incentive Initiatives
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
  • Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act (Ticket to Work)
  • Vocational Rehabilitation
  • Workforce Investment Act (WIA)

In addition, the Web site includes hot links to other disability policy-related Web sites.

New State Directories on Accessibility and the Arts

The National Arts and Disability Center (NADC) has released new state resource directories on ADA compliance and technical assistance. Each state has its own directory that contains listings of organizations and agencies that provide technical assistance on ADA and the arts. Included in these listings are disability agencies and organizations for creating an access advisory committee for conducting outreach to the disability community. The directories can be found at www.nadc.ucla.edu/states.htm. For more information on NADC, go to http://nadc.ucla.edu.

Awards, Grants, Applications

2003 Henry B. Betts Award

The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago announce the 2003 Henry B. Betts Award. The deadline for nominations is 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Oct. 10, 2003. One individual will be selected to receive this year’s unrestricted $50,000 cash award to be presented at the third annual AAPD Leadership Gala on March 16, 2004, in Washington, D.C.

The Betts Award, created by the Prince Charitable Trusts and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, honors an individual whose work and scope of influence have significantly improved the quality of life for people with disabilities. It is named in honor of Henry B. Betts, M.D., in recognition of his pioneering leadership in the field of physical medicine and rehabilitation and decades of dedicated service to the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.

For additional information and nomination forms, please contact: Tracey Murray, AAPD leadership coordinator, at 770-232-9001 (voice only) or e-mail murr9001@bellsouth.net. The nomination form is also available on AAPD’s Web site, www.aapd-dc.org, and the Web site of the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, www.rehabchicago.org.

Verizon Foundation Supports New York Workforce Development Initiatives for People with Disabilities and Others

The Verizon Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Verizon Communications, announced the award of a total of $525,000 to 14 workforce development initiatives in New York that focus on job retention training, computer literacy skills and vocational and disability programs. A majority of the initiatives receiving support will provide computer and technology programs to targeted groups, including adults with disabilities; unemployed high school and college dropouts; rehabilitated substance abusers; gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals; welfare recipients; and single mothers.

Among the recipients are The Workshop, Inc., which received $30,000 to establish mobile computer training for adults with disabilities, and Jawonio Foundation, Inc., which was awarded $27,000 to provide job training and placement to people with disabilities in lower Westchester and Yonkers.

[Adapted from an e-mail alert from The Foundation Center and a Verizon Foundation press release 7/24/03, “Verizon Awards $525,000 in Workforce Development Grants to 14 New York Nonprofits”]

Reminder of Deadline for the 2004 Paul G. Hearne/AAPD Leadership Awards

Up to three emerging leaders with disabilities will be selected to receive a $10,000 cash award. Winners will also have an opportunity to meet and network with national disability leaders at the AAPD Leadership Gala in Washington, D.C. U.S. residents of any age with any type of disability are eligible to apply. To be considered for a leadership award, candidates must complete an application and submit it along with a statement of 700 words or less that addresses all of the selection criteria and a letter of commitment from a mentor or supportive colleague who is prepared to work with the applicant in pursuing his/her leadership goals. The deadline for submission is Sept. 26, 2003.

For an application and for any questions concerning the leadership awards contact Tracey Murray, leadership awards coordinator, 770-232-9001 (voice only), e-mail murr9001@bellsouth.net; or Marie Campos, AAPD, 1-800-840-8844 (voice/TTY), e-mail AAPD@aol.com.

Employment and Contract Opportunities

Changemakers Seeking an Executive Director

Changemakers is seeking a candidate for executive director who is an excellent manager, passionate about individual donor fundraising (with a proven record of success in this area), committed to social justice and who has experience in organized philanthropy. The application deadline is Sept. 26, 2003. To view the job description online, please go to www.changemakers.org/jobs/ed.htm.

Booz Allen Searching for Five Disabilities Services Experts to Support Head Start Program

Booz Allen was awarded a contract by the Department of Health and Human Services to provide technical support for the Head Start Program. Five positions are available for disabilities services expert in New York City, Denver, Dallas, Chicago and Seattle. Applicants must have experience with early childhood education or child development, knowledge of Head Start Program Regulations, expertise in IDEA, experience with all Microsoft office products, the ability to work with individuals from diverse backgrounds, and excellent oral and written communications skills. For more information contact Robert Rudney at 703-377-1190, 703-902-3525 or rudney_robert@bah.com.

Special Events

DFN and Women & Philanthropy Strategic Planning Meeting at AAPD/NOW Women with Disabilities Conference

If you work in the Washington area or are planning on attending the Women with Disabilities and Allies Forum on Oct. 17-19 in Bethesda, Md., come to an after-dinner gathering on Sat., Oct. 18, sponsored by DFN and Women & Philanthropy. Help us plan a new initiative to educate foundation and corporate funders about issues of importance to women and girls with disabilities and facilitate communication and collaboration between nonprofits serving women and girls with disabilities and organized philanthropy.

As we announced in a DFN E-News bulletin last month, “Women with Disabilities & Allies Forum: Linking Arms for Equality & Justice for All,” jointly sponsored by the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) and the National Organization for Women (NOW) Foundation, will be held at the Bethesda Hyatt Regency Hotel. The registration form is now available online at https://www.now.org/foundation/disability-forum-registration.html. For questions, please contact the conference manager by e-mail at conference@now.org by phone at 202-628-8669 or by fax at 202-785-8576. You can also call AAPD at 1-800-840-8844 (V/TTY).

National Disability Mentoring Day

October 15, 2003, has been designated as National Disability Mentoring Day. Begun in 1999, National Disability Mentoring Day is designed to enhance internship and employment opportunities for people with disabilities by bringing them together with employers from the public, private, nonprofit and educational sectors for a day of job-shadowing and other hands-on career exploration activities.

The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) co-sponsors National Disability Mentoring Day with the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) and works with other national organizations to promote career exploration for students and job seekers with disabilities. For more information visit www.aapd-dc.org and click on the Disability Mentoring Day link.

[DFN thanks ODEP for this announcement.]

Respectability: Disability Action and Advocacy Conference

On October 3-4, The Western Law Center for Disability Rights (DFN member) is sponsoring a conference focusing on the current challenges to civil rights for people with disabilities. Members of California disability communities will gather to inform, energize and coordinate advocacy efforts to recognize leaders and celebrate victories. Topics include health care, community (which includes Olmstead, housing and transportation), civil rights and education. Contact Doreen Wong at 213-736-8365 or Doreen.Wong@lls.edu.
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