Archive for the ‘Disability Rights’ Category
Saturday, March 16th, 2013
Spread the Word to End the Word is an ongoing effort by Special Olympics & Best Buddies to raise the consciousness of society about the dehumanizing and hurtful effects of the R-word (“retard(ed)” and encourage people to pledge to stop using the R-word.
Respectful and inclusive language is essential to the movement for the dignity and humanity of people with intellectual disabilities. However, much of society does not recognize the hurtful, dehumanizing and exclusive effects of the R-word.
The campaign is intended to engage individuals, schools and communities to promote the inclusion and acceptance of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
The campaign asks people to pledge to stop saying the R-word as a starting point toward creating more accepting attitudes and communities for all people. Language affects attitudes and attitudes affect actions.
Make your pledge to choose respectful people first language today at www.r-word.org.
Posted by Sheri Abrams, Attorney at Law, www.sheriabrams.com
Thursday, March 7th, 2013
Last week the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) issued final regulations pertaining to a special hiring authority for the appointment of persons with certain disabilities. The final rule for “Excepted Service – Appointment of Persons with Intellectual Disabilities, Severe Physical Disabilities, and Psychiatric Disabilities,” also known as “Schedule A Hiring Authority,” simplifies the hiring process for job applicants with disabilities who have work, educational, or other relevant experience, by relieving them of the burden of procuring “certificates of readiness” as a condition of appointment. The new regulations are consistent with the President’s policy of removing barriers and encouraging the employment of individuals with disabilities in the federal workforce, as expressed in Executive Order 13548, Increasing Federal Employment of Individuals With Disabilities.
“We deliver the best results to the American people when we include all parts of our society in our workforce, and take full advantage of their skills and perspectives,” said OPM Director, John Berry. “It’s important to recruit, hire, develop and retain a competitive and diverse workforce, so that we tap the potential of all groups – including Americans with disabilities.”
Previously, an individual with a disability who wished to be appointed under the Schedule A authority was required not only to establish that he or she had a qualifying disability but also to submit a “certification of job readiness,” essentially a formal written assessment, by a medical professional, vocational rehabilitation specialist, or disability benefit agency, that the applicant could reasonably be expected to perform in a particular work environment. This final rule removes the requirement for a certification of job readiness. Now an applicant will only need to establish that he or she has a qualifying disability.
Schedule A Hiring Authority for persons with disabilities is one of the tools the federal government uses to accomplish the goals of Executive Order 13548. In FY 2011, people with disabilities represented 7.96 percent of all new hires. When veterans who are 30 percent or more disabled are included, people with disabilities represent 14.7 percent of all new hires or 18,738 people.
posted by Sheri R. Abrams, Attorney at Law, www.sheriabrams.com
Thursday, December 6th, 2012
An employer may ask an employee to “self-identify” themselves as having a disability in order to meet federal reporting requirements applicable to their business. This would be strictly voluntarily and the employer could not pressure any of their employees to self-identify.
Sunday, July 8th, 2012
The average college student (graduate and undergraduate) leaves school with a tremendous amount of student loan debt. Repayment of student loans has always been difficult, but with the economy the way it is, many graduates are struggling to pay back their loans. Some people who are unable to work because of their disabilities are beyond the ability to struggle.
Fortunately, people with disabilities can apply for disability discharges of student loans from the following programs: Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL), Perkins Loans, William D. Ford Federal Direct Loans (Direct Loans), and Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grants.
To qualify for a disability discharge, a borrower must show that they have a physical or mental impairment that will either result in death or has lasted or will be expected to last more than 5 years. (Different, less stringent rules apply to Veterans with disabilities.) The borrower’s doctor must submit paperwork to the U.S. Department of Education certifying the borrower’s condition, and, if approved, the loan will be conditionally discharged.
Once a loan is conditionally discharged, the borrower must not engage in employment that results in income exceeding the federal poverty rate for a family of two for the next three years. Once the three-year period has passed, the loan will be completely discharged.
While no one likes to default on a debt, if a borrower cannot repay a student loan due to disability, they should promptly apply for a disability discharge so that the funds they would use toward loan repayment can be used towards their medical care.
Monday, March 12th, 2012
HealthCare.gov recently released a new fact sheet, available in PDF format in both English and Spanish, about the impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on people with disabilities.
The fact sheet outlines key aspects of the ACA, including:
1.Insurers cannot deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.
2.Insurers cannot deny, cap or limit your coverage.
3.Insurance coverage options are expanded.
4.There are new options for long-term supports and services.
5.Insurance companies are held accountable.
Learn more about the ACA and how it affects you at www.healthcare.gov.
Friday, December 2nd, 2011
Presidential Proclamation — International Day of Persons with Disabilities
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release December 02, 2011
Presidential Proclamation — International Day of Persons with Disabilities
By the President of the United States of America
On International Day of Persons with Disabilities, we recommit to ensuring people living with disabilities enjoy full equality and unhindered participation in all facets of our national life. We recognize the myriad contributions that persons with disabilities make at home and abroad, and we remember that disability rights are universal rights to be recognized and promoted around the world.
For decades, America has been a global leader in advancing the rights of people with disabilities. From the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 to the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act, which I signed last year, we have striven to bring the American dream and comprehensive opportunities in education, health care, and employment within reach for every individual. These actions –made possible only through the tireless and ongoing efforts of the disability community — affirm our commitment to an equitable and just society where every American can play a part in securing a prosperous future for our Nation.
To fulfill this promise not only in America, but around the world, my Administration is putting disability rights at the heart of our Nation’s foreign policy. With leadership from the Department of State and the United States Agency for International Development, we are collaborating across governments and in close consultation with the global disability community to expand access to education, health care, HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, and other development programs. In 2009, we signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which seeks to ensure persons with disabilities enjoy the same rights and opportunities as all people. If ratified, the Convention would provide a platform to encourage other countries to join and implement the Convention, laying a foundation for enhanced benefits and greater protections for the millions of Americans with disabilities who spend time abroad.
We know from the historic struggle for disability rights in the United States that disability inclusion is an ongoing effort, and many challenges remain in securing fundamental human rights for all persons with disabilities around the world. On International Day of Persons with Disabilities, we press forward, renewing our dedication to embrace diversity, end discrimination, remove barriers, and uphold the rights, dignity, and equal opportunity of all people.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim December 3, 2011, as International Day of Persons with Disabilities. I call on all Americans to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies, activities, and programs.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this second day of December, in the year of our Lord two thousand eleven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-sixth.
Sunday, November 13th, 2011
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has announced that individuals with disabilities will have greater access to intercity, commuter and high-speed train travel as a result of a new rule requiring new station platform construction or significant renovation to enable those with disabilities to get on and off any car on a train.
“This will help give passengers with disabilities better access to rail travel across the country,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “By putting this protection in place, passengers with disabilities will be able to get on and off any accessible car that is available to passengers at a new or altered station platform.”
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is amending its Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations to require intercity, commuter and high-speed passenger railroads to ensure, at new and significantly renovated station platforms, that passengers with disabilities can get on and off any accessible car of the train. Passenger railroads must provide level-entry boarding at new or altered stations in which no track passing through the station and adjacent to platforms is shared with existing freight rail operations. For new or altered stations in which track shared with existing freight rail operations precludes compliance, passenger railroads will be able to choose among a variety of means to meet a performance standard to ensure that passengers with disabilities can access each accessible train car that other passengers can board at the station. These options include providing car-borne lifts, station-based lifts, or mini-high platforms. The Department will review a railroad’s proposed method to ensure that it provides reliable and safe services to individuals with disabilities in an integrated manner.
This new rule also requires that transit providers carry a wheelchair and occupant if the lift and vehicle can physically accommodate them, unless doing so is inconsistent with legitimate safety requirements.
Friday, May 20th, 2011
According to United Cerebral Palsy’s 2011 report “The Case for Inclusion,” Vermont offers the best Medicaid services to the developmentally disabled, while Mississippi provides the worst services.
In my local area, Virginia ranks 38th, Maryland 31st, and the District of Columbia 47th.
Here is the complete list:
4. New Hampshire
11. New Mexico
16. South Carolina
17. New York
19. West Virginia
23. South Dakota
34. Rhode Island
36. North Dakota
40. New Jersey
43. North Carolina
47. District of Columbia
To see the entire report, please click here.
Monday, July 26th, 2010
The U.S. Justice Department announced that George Washington’s home at Mount Vernon will undergo improvements to help people with disabilities with accessible walkways, closed captioning for films and sign language and audio tours in the mansion and on the grounds.
The Justice department reached agreement on the upgrades with the Mount Vernon Ladies Association. Plans call for a shallower entry ramp and modifications on the route to the ground floor of the historic mansion. There will be an accessible walk to a landing at the entrance for the shops, food court and Mount Vernon Inn. Controls of interactive exhibits will be modified so they can be used by visitors with physical disabilities.
Thursday, May 20th, 2010
The U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division has just published “Access To Medical Care For Individuals With Mobility Disabilities.” This documents discusses the legal obligations of health care providers to persons with mobility limitations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
To review this document please click here.
Monday, May 17th, 2010
On Virginia Beach, a new park called Grommet Island Park is being created to allow the disabled, adults, children, and the elderly to be able to play together. It allows for people in wheelchairs and nearly any disability to enjoy a day on the beach. The park contains waves and sand tables, a rock wall, slides, a sensory wall for young or old people with autism, and much more. Grommet Island Park is the first ever fully handicapped accessible park built on a beach.
Bruce Thompson was the mastermind behind the idea. His inspiration came from his son, Josh Thompson, a surfer who was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease in 2006. After taking Josh’s two sons to the beach and realizing how difficult, if not impossible it was for someone in Josh’s condition or any other disability to enjoy the beach, he decided to make a difference. So he began the plans for the beach front park with over $2 million dollars in donations for the project, half of which will be donated to ALS research.
The “Grommet” in Grommet Island Park is a slang term for surfer.
The park is scheduled to have its grand opening on May 28, 2010.
Sunday, April 11th, 2010
My friend Chai Feldblum, a former Georgetown University law professor, was sworn in April 7, 2010 as a Commissioner of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Jacqueline A. Berrien, who became Chair of the EEOC earlier that morning, administered the oath of office.
Feldblum was nominated for the position of Commissioner of the EEOC on Sept. 15, 2009. She received a recess appointment on March 27, 2010, and will serve until the end of the Congressional session in 2011 absent confirmation by the Senate.
Feldblum has been a professor of law at Georgetown University Law Center since 1991, where she founded the Federal Legislation and Administrative Clinic, a program designed to train students to become legislative lawyers. As director of the clinic, she has worked with organizations such as Catholic Charities U.S.A., the David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, and the Epilepsy Foundation. Additionally, she was the Co-Director of Workplace Flexibility 2010, which advocates for flexible work arrangements, time off, and career flexibility in a manner that works for employees and employers.
Before becoming a law professor, Feldblum played a leading role in drafting the ground-breaking Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 while serving as Legislative Counsel to the AIDS Project of the American Civil Liberties Union. Later, as a law professor, she was equally instrumental in helping with the passage of the ADA Amendments Act of 2008.
A graduate of Barnard College, Feldblum received her J.D. degree from Harvard Law School. After law school, she clerked for Judge Frank Coffin of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit and then for Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun.
“I do not think it is possible to grow up as the daughter of a Holocaust survivor and not be committed to principles of pluralism and tolerance,” Feldblum said. “My entire professional life has been focused on civil rights and social welfare rights. In my legal work and in my scholarship, I have sought to advance the civil rights of all Americans, no matter their race, creed, gender, sexual orientation or gender identity. I look forward to continuing that important work as a Commissioner of the EEOC.”
Feldblum and Berrien join Commissioners Stuart J. Ishimaru and Constance S. Barker. With the addition of nominee Victoria Lipnic, who was also given a recess appointment and will be sworn in later in April, the EEOC returns to its full complement of five Commissioners. General Counsel nominee P. David Lopez, who was given a recess appointment, will be sworn in to his post tomorrow.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.
Thursday, February 4th, 2010
Data from the U.S. Census is used to assign congressional seats to states, and it directly affects how more than $400 billion per year in federal funding is distributed to state, local and tribal governments. Accurate counts impact several important programs and services that are critical to the disabled community.
Here is what the census means for people with a disability:
* Helps state and county agencies plan for eligible recipients under the Medicare, Medicaid,and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs.
* Distributes funds and develops programs for people with disabilities and the elderly under the Rehabilitation Act.
* Distributes funds for housing for people with disabilities under the Housing and Urban Development Act.
* Allocates funds for mass transit systems to provide facilities for people with disabilities under the Federal Transit Act.
* Awards federal grants, under the Older Americans Act, based on the number of elderly people with physical and mental disabilities.
* Allocates funds to states and local areas for employment and job training programs for veterans and disabled veterans under the Job Training Partnership Act, Disabled Veterans Outreach Program.
* Ensures that comparable public transportation services are available for all segments of the population under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Saturday, January 23rd, 2010
From USA Today: Years after passage of the ADA, separation of Church and State means that houses of worship remain beyond the law’s reach. State laws meant to tackle this problem face many problems. Not only are they tricky to enforce, but places of worship say that they are costly and impractical. The definition of what is “reasonable accommodation” for one, may not apply to another. Enforcement, therefore, is left up to local officials.
Saturday, November 21st, 2009
The annual observance of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities will take place this year on December 3, 2009. This day aims to promote an understanding of disability issues, the rights of persons with disabilities, and the gains to be derived from the integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of the political, social, economic, and cultural life of their communities. This Day, which was established by the World Programme of Action Concerning Disabled Persons, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1982, provides an opportunity to mobilize action to achieve the goal of full and equal enjoyment of human rights and participation in society by persons with disabilities.
Globally, almost one in ten people have a disability and recent studies indicate that persons with disabilities constitute up to 20 percent of the population living in poverty in developing countries. Many persons with disabilities continue to face barriers to their participation in their communities and are often forced to live on the margins of society. They often face stigma and discrimination and are routinely denied basic rights such as food, education, employment, access to health, and reproductive health services. Many persons with disabilities are also forced into institutions, a direct breach of the rights to freedom of movement and to live in their communities.
The United Nations has a long history of promoting the rights and well-being of all people, including persons with disabilities. The organization has worked to ensure their full and effective participation in the civil, political, economic, social, and cultural spheres on an equal basis with others in order to achieve a society for all. The organization’s commitment to the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights by persons with disabilities is deeply rooted in a quest for social justice and equity in all aspects of societal development. The World Programme of Action Concerning Disabled Persons and the Standard Rules on Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities translated the organization’s commitment into an international policy framework, which has been further strengthened by the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, an international legal instrument, to empower persons with disabilities to better their lives and that of their communities around the world.
Friday, October 30th, 2009
President Barack Obama just signed hate crime legislation that extends federal hate crimes to include those committed against people because of gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. It also loosens limits on when federal law enforcement can intervene and prosecute crimes.
Obama said in East Room reception, surrounded by supporters, “No one in America should be forced to look over their shoulder because of who they are, or because they live with a disability.”
For more on this new law, please click here.
Wednesday, October 7th, 2009
From the White House (10/5/09):
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington, D.C. – President Obama today announced that his Administration is taking several steps to ensure that there is fair and equal access to employment for all Americans, particularly the 54 million people in this country living with disabilities. The announcement comes during National Disability Employment Awareness Month.
“My Administration is committed to ensuring that all Americans have the chance to fulfill their potential and contribute to our nation,” said President Obama. “Across this country, millions of people with disabilities are working or want to work, and they should have access to the support and services they need to succeed. As the nation’s largest employer, the Federal Government and its contractors can lead the way by implementing effective employment policies and practices that increase opportunities and help workers achieve their full potential. We must also rededicate ourselves to fostering an inclusive work culture that welcomes the skills and talents of all qualified employees. That’s why I’ve asked the responsible agencies to develop new plans and policies to help increase employment across America for people with disabilities.”
The following are some of the steps the Obama Administration will take:
•The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) will collaborate to sponsor and organize a day long Federal Government-wide job fair for people with disabilities. The Fair will take place in early spring 2010. In addition to the Job Fair, OPM, ODEP, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Department of Defense’s office on Computer and Electronic Accommodations Program (CAP) will provide workshops throughout the day on a variety of topics including the Schedule A hiring waiver and the right to the provision of reasonable accommodations including information on assistive and communications technology.
•OPM will develop training on Schedule A for federal Human Resources specialists, hiring managers and selective placement coordinators that will be easily accessible and includes on line training.
•EEOC and the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division will hold four Town Hall meetings throughout the nation to share information about the ADA Amendments Act proposed regulations and to gather comments on them. All Town Hall meetings will consist of two sessions – one for disability advocates and one for the employer community. These sessions will be completed by November 20th. The four locations are Philadelphia, Chicago, San Francisco, and New Orleans.
•The Department of Justice will release a video that will identify and respond to a number of common myths held by employers about workers with disabilities.
•OPM will create and lead a task force comprised of representatives from key Federal Departments and Agencies that have developed and implemented model practices for recruiting, retaining and advancing employees with disabilities. The task force will report on the innovative practices agencies use to encourage the employment of individuals with disabilities. The report will identify and promote successful practices for conducting outreach, recruiting, hiring qualified candidates, successful accommodations, and providing opportunities for career advancement at all levels.
Sunday, August 9th, 2009
President Barack Obama signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on the 19th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
By signing the convention, the United States joins more than 100 countries in supporting the United Nations effort to remove barriers for the estimated 650 million people around the world with disabilities.
Specifically, the treaty seeks to expand community access and employment opportunities while improving the standard of living for people with disabilities.
The convention became available for countries to sign onto in 2007. Obama indicated his support for it while campaigning for president.
“This treaty is good for America, good for people with disabilities and good for the world,” says Marca Bristo, president of The United States International Council on Disabilities. “By signing this treaty the U.S. is reaffirming its commitment to basic human rights of all people with disabilities and positioning us to better contribute our expertise on the global level.”