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News & Topics in Our Community

Threats to the ADA (H.R. 620)

May 12, 2017


Organizer’s Forum: Threats to the ADA (H.R. 620)

 
Tuesday, May 16, 2017; 1:00-2:00 p.m. Eastern
Call-in: 1-515-739-1285
Passcode: 521847#
RSVP online 

Learn about federal legislation that threatens the civil rights of people with disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act and find out what you can do about it. The so-called ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 620) would make it difficult for people with disabilities to enforce their rights to access public accommodations under the ADA, by requiring the person to identify ADA violations, notify the business, and allow the business a lengthy period to provide access -- even though businesses have now had 27 years to comply with the law! On the call we'll talk about visits to members of Congress, and other ways you can stop this bill.
 
Speakers:

  • Marilyn Golden, Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF)

  • Claudia Center, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) 


Note: New number! This is through freeconferencecall.com and will allow people who don't have long distance to join through their computers. Use this website: https://www.freeconferencecall.com/wall/organizersforum#/
 
Thank you to the National Disability Leadership Alliance for sponsoring the captioning of this call. If you need additional accommodations to participate in the call, please let NDLA know as soon as possible.
 
CART: https://2020captioning.1capapp.com
Username: forum
Password: forum
To ask questions via CART: sign-in to the chat function on the right side of the transcript and type your question. One of the call facilitators will read out any questions posted there.
Because we want to maximize the generously donated CART services, we will begin the call promptly at 1:00 p.m. Eastern 
Mark your calendars! The Organizer's Forum has a call on the 3rd Tuesday of each month, 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. Eastern.
 

Background:
 
The Organizing Workgroup of the National Disability Leadership Alliance hosts these calls the third Tuesday of every month as a resource for disability organizers, in an effort toward building the organizing capacity of the disability community across the country. They generally follow the format of a Welcome followed by 2-3 experts in a given area speaking for a few minutes on their experiences, advice and challenges. The calls include a 20-30 minute question and answer period.

Follow NCIL: Facebook & Twitter

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Registration is Open for Disaster Planning for the Whole Community

April 18, 2017

Events in Northern and Southern California!

Featuring speakers from: Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies, the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services, FEMA, the Pacific ADA Center, the American Red Cross, disability rights stakeholders, and survivors and responders from the Butte/Valley Fires.
Forge community partnerships for future disaster planning by learning about disability rights and emergency management responsibilities and promising practices, with a joint Table Top exercise to bring it all together

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TURN Action Alert: PG&E Rate Hike

February 7, 2017


The Utility Reform Network (TURN)  is hearing from consumers that high P&GE rates combined with cold temperatures are freezing them out. Customers say their gas bills have doubled or tripled this winter! If you are one them, please tell the CPUC NOW. TURN has our best chance of beating back further increases if the CPUC knows consumers are suffering.  Please join our email list for future chances to fight PG&E’s high rates.

Tell the CPUC NOW: High Gas Bills Are Freezing Me Out!

Tell the CPUC NOW: High Gas Bills Are Freezing Me Out!

Think your bill is wrong? Send complaints about billing errors to the CPUC here;
http://org.salsalabs.com/o/746/signup_page/complaint
you’ll have fill out a short form for TURN before the longer CPUC form.

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LAO Releases Overview of Governor Brown's Budget Proposal

January 13, 2017

This publication is our office’s initial response to the Governor's 2017-18 budget proposal. The administration's estimates anticipate slow growth in the personal income tax (PIT), the state’s dominant revenue source. The Governor’s estimate of PIT growth in 2017-18 is probably too low. As a result, by the May Revision, the state could have more General Fund revenue than the Governor now projects, but much of that revenue would be required to go to schools and Proposition 2 reserves and debt payments. Facing uncertainties we have long discussed about the economy and new uncertainties about changes to federal policy, the Legislature may want to set a target for total state reserves at—or preferably above—the level the Governor now proposes.
 
This report is available using the following link: http://lao.ca.gov/Publications/Report/3528
 
 

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CBP: Webinar Briefing on Governor Brown's Proposed California Budget

January 13, 2017

Yesterday the California Budget & Policy Center released our "first look" analysis of Governor Brown's proposed budget for 2017-18, the state fiscal year that will start on July 1. We're pleased to be presenting a webinar next Wednesday, January 18, from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m., during which the Budget Center team will discuss the Governor's proposed budget and our analysis of it.

As part of our Policy Perspectives Speakers Series, this webinar briefing will examine key components of the Governor's proposal and the issues they raise, as well as some of the questions that will shape this year's budget debate.

For additional information or any questions about this webinar, contact the Budget Center at (916) 444-0500 or contact@calbudgetcenter.org.

 

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WEBINAR: How ACA Repeal and Medicaid Reform Will Impact People with Disabilities & What You Can Do!

January 13, 2017


Tuesday, January 17, 2017 @ 12:30 to 2:00pm Pacific Time

Join national and state-level disability advocates for a webinar focused on one of the most pressing issues facing people with disabilities: Congressional effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and convert federal Medicaid funding into block grants.

Advocates based in Washington, DC will provide a report on what they are observing on Capitol Hill, and discuss what will happen next.  Advocates based in various states will discuss their work to educate lawmakers and grassroots people about the importance of these healthcare programs for people with disabilities. The ADA Legacy Project’s DisBeat will provide advice on collecting personal healthcare stories from people with disabilities and how to build a guerilla marketing campaign to call attention to our issues.  There will be an opportunity to ask questions.

National speakers: Lindsay Baran, National Council on Independent Living (others TBD)
State-level speakers: Florida, Massachusetts, Texas (still confirming)

Media: The ADA Legacy Project’s DisBeat
You will not want to miss this! Those across the states interested in healthcare for people with disabilities will want to join in.  We can and will galvanize disability electoral power as we head into a new Administration by being informed and empowered. Join your brothers and sisters from across the nation.

This webinar is free of charge and made possible with support from the National Disability Leadership Alliance (NDLA), The ADA Legacy Project, Access Living, the NDLA Organizers Forum, and the Great Lakes ADA Center.

HOW TO JOIN THE WEBINAR:
 
This session will be available on-line via the Blackboard Collaborate System.   This system is accessible to individuals who use screen readers or other forms of assistive technology.   Closed captioning is available within the platform as well.  Individuals using assistive technology, especially screen readers are encouraged to review information about the platform and how it works available on-line at THIS LINK.
 
If you are unfamiliar with the webinar platform and wonder if your computer system will be compatible you can review information that is available on-line at THIS LINK. Instructions are available on this page for testing the configuration of your computer and the requirements.  We recommend you review this information prior to the session.
 
There is also a Blackboard Collaborate App available for Mobile Devices including Android, Apple and Kindle Fire HD.  You can download the app in advance of the session from either Google Play, Amazon or ITunes.  Note that there is limited accessibility of the App in terms of access to captioning, etc.    If using the app, launch the URL from your mobile device and that will open the App (if loaded on your mobile device).
 
TO CONNECT TO THE SESSION:   
 
Use THIS LINK  (This link is active 45 minutes prior to the start of the session)
Audio will be broadcast via your computer/app if you have speakers/headphones attached.
Closed captioning is available via the webinar platform (not accessible from the Mobile App)
 
TELEPHONE OPTION OR AUDIO:  1-866-854-6779  Passcode:  *3956839* (This is a toll free line)
 
ASKING QUESTIONS DURING THE WEBINAR: Questions during the live webinar can be submitted via the chat area within the webinar platform or if you are listening by phone and not connected to the platform you can submit your questions by email to webinars@adaconferences.organd the organizers will receive your questions for consideration during the webinar.
 
If you experience technical problems accessing the webinar please call 877-232-1990 (V/TTY) for assistance.
 
Questions regarding the content of the webinar should be directed to Amber Smock at Access Living, at asmock@accessliving.org.

 

Justice in Aging Webinar: How ACE Repeal Would Hurt Seniors

January 13, 2017

When: Tuesday, January 17 11:00 a.m. PT/ 2:00 p.m. ET.
REGISTER NOW
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is under immediate threat in Congress. The consequences of repealing the ACA are far reaching, and would impact the entire health care system including Medicare and Medicaid. For older adults, these programs serve as a lifeline that insures access to critical medical care. Repeal of the ACA would jeopardize the care seniors receive every day by reducing coverage, and ending programs seniors rely on to remain in their homes and communities. The out-of-pocket costs seniors pay today for care would increase, straining already tight budgets.

This webinar, How ACA Repeal would Hurt Seniors, will provide a summary of the impact an ACA repeal would have on low-income older adults, including how it would affect seniors who rely on Medicaid and Medicare. We will also provide an update on the efforts Congress is taking to effectuate a repeal and what procedural steps are yet to come. There will be ample time allotted for question and answer.

Presenters:
Kevin Prindiville, Executive Director, Justice in Aging
Jennifer Goldberg, Directing Attorney, Justice in Aging

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CA Budget Stakeholder Call at 2pm

January 9, 2017

A California Budget Stakeholder call will occur on January 10th at 2pm
Please call by 1:50pm to ensure time to facilitate the larger volume of callers.
Call: 888-221-9518


 

CA Governor's Budget Release @ 11:00am Stakeholder Call at @ 2pm

January 9, 2017

The access the live stream of Governor Brown's budget introduction on Tuesday January 10 @ 11:00am go to www.calchannel.com/live-webcast

To participate in the California Department of Health and Human Services Stakeholder Call with Secretary Diana Dooley at 10:50am Tuesday January 10th by calling 888-221-9518

 

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U.S. Election Assistance Commission Seeks Input from Voters with Disabilities

December 7, 2016

The U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) wants to hear from voters with disabilities about their stories on Election Day.  Please email us at: listen@eac.gov. Send us the good or the bad: they want your feedback.

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Wheelchairs Vans Won't Roll in San Francisco City Carshare Deal with Getaround

November 29, 2016

Read the article in the San Francisco Chronicle see link...

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CA Budget & Policy Center Releases Medi-Cal Fact Sheet

November 29, 2016

Medi-Cal Reaches Millions of People Across California, but Faces an Uncertain Future
Enacted in 2010, the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) has significantly reduced the share of Californians without health care coverage. A central component of California's implementation of health care reform has been the expansion of Medi-Cal (the state's Medicaid program) to a broader population of low-income Californians.

A new Budget Center Fact Sheet highlights Medi-Cal's importance across our state by providing figures on Medi-Cal enrollment for every California county. This analysis shows that Medi-Cal serves more than 13 million people across all 58 counties and that in 49 of these counties over one-quarter of residents are enrolled. However, millions could risk losing Medi-Cal coverage if President-elect Donald Trump and other Republican leaders follow through on their proposals to repeal the ACA and substantially reduce funding for Medicaid. Read the Fact Sheet.




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LAO Releases Report: Disability Among California's Seniors

November 28, 2016

~~Executive Summary

Rapidly Growing Senior Population and Changing Demographics of California Seniors Raise Issues About Long–Term Supports and Services (LTSS) System. Seniors are major users of LTSS—defined broadly as services and supports provided to the disabled (of any age) who have difficulty performing daily activities. The senior population (adults aged 65 and older) in California is projected to increase more than twofold from roughly 5 million in 2015 to nearly 12 million in 2060. The demographics of the senior population are also projected to change during this period. For example, the senior population is projected to shift from being majority white to majority nonwhite by 2030. The rapid growth and changing demographics of California’s senior population raise issues about seniors’ LTSS needs, LTSS system capacity, and the financial impact of LTSS on personal and state finances. This report presents the results of our projections of disability levels of California’s seniors through 2060 to inform the Legislature and stakeholders about levels of disability and the potential need for LTSS among California’s seniors over the next several decades. These projections provide a useful starting point in understanding how California’s changing population demographics will impact the LTSS delivery system.

Population of California Seniors With Disabilities Projected to Grow Faster Than Overall California Senior Population. We project that the number of seniors in California with disabilities (as defined by limitations in routine activities of daily living, such as dressing or bathing) will increase from 1 million in 2015 to 2.7 million in 2060. This represents 160 percent growth in the population of seniors with disabilities, while California’s overall senior population is projected to grow by 135 percent over this period. The faster growth of the senior population with disabilities is partially driven by the increasing share of seniors aged 85 and older and increasing racial diversity of the senior population.

California Seniors Turning 65 Between 2015 and 2019 Projected to Spend 4.5 Years on Average With a Disability. On average, seniors turning 65 between 2015 and 2019 are projected to live for 23.6 years after age 65 and spend 4.5 of these years with a disability. The average number of years lived with a disability varies based on demographics of the seniors in this cohort. For example, white seniors in this cohort are projected to spend 3.6 years on average with a disability, while Hispanic seniors are projected to spend 5.8 years on average with a disability and nonwhite, non–Hispanic seniors are projected to spend 5.6 years on average with a disability. (Data constraints prevent us from breaking out the nonwhite, non–Hispanic race category into additional groups.)

California–Specific Projections Are a Necessary First Step in Planning for the Growing Senior Population. California–specific projections are necessary to inform the conversation around the future of the LTSS system as California’s senior population grows over the next several decades. Available national–level projections of disability levels (and the related issues of LTSS utilization and LTSS financing), while a useful starting point, are not sufficient to reflect California’s unique demographics and LTSS system. (For example, California’s senior population is projected to be majority nonwhite by 2030, while the senior population nationwide is projected to remain majority white through at least 2060.) As the Legislature, administration, and stakeholders continue to engage in planning for the impact of the growing senior population on the LTSS system, it is necessary to have projections that accurately reflect the uniqueness of California’s population and LTSS system to inform policymaking.
 

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NCIL Launches #We Can't Breath Breath Project

November 23, 2016


We Can’t Breathe: The Deaf & Disabled Margin of Police Brutality Project
The National Council on Independent Living’s Diversity Committee is pleased to announce the release of “We Can’t Breathe: The Deaf & Disabled Margin of Police Brutality Project.” This project includes a video and toolkit that can be utilized for educational training for disability organizations and agencies. The We Can’t Breathe Video discusses the narratives of 5 people with disabilities on the margins that have been victimized by police brutality and other forms of systemic violence. The We Can’t Breathe Toolkit was designed to equip facilitators and participants with the tools to process the video and build policies, programming, and advocacy that center intersectional organizing. The We Can’t Breathe Project addresses how state violence affects people with disabilities who are also women, people of color, and LGBTQ+. This training intentionally utilizes an intersectionality framework to combat the racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia that pervade disability organizations and agencies.
 

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CMS Requests Information & Data on Reforms to Speed HCBS Services to Medicaid Users by January 9, 2017

November 21, 2016

~AGENCY:

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), HHS.
ACTION:

Request for information.
SUMMARY:

This request for information seeks information and data on additional reforms and policy options that we can consider to accelerate the provision of home and community-based services (HCBS) to Medicaid beneficiaries taking into account issues affecting beneficiary choice and control, program integrity, ratesetting, quality infrastructure, and the homecare workforce.
DATES:

To be assured consideration, comments must be received at one of the addresses provided below, no later than 5 p.m. on January 9, 2017.
ADDRESSES:

In commenting, refer to file code CMS-2404-NC. Because of staff and resource limitations, we cannot accept comments by facsimile (FAX) transmission.

You may submit comments in one of four ways (please choose only one of the ways listed):

1. Electronically. You may submit electronic comments on this regulation to http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the “Submit a comment” instructions.

2. By regular mail. You may mail written comments to the following address ONLY: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Department of Health and Human Services, Attention: CMS-2404-NC, P.O. Box 8013, Baltimore, MD 21244-8013.

Please allow sufficient time for mailed comments to be received before the close of the comment period.

3. By express or overnight mail. You may send written comments to the following address ONLY: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Department of Health and Human Services, Attention: CMS-2404-NC, Mail Stop C4-26-05, 7500 Security Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21244-1850.

4. By hand or courier. Alternatively, you may deliver (by hand or courier) your written comments ONLY to the following addresses:

a. For delivery in Washington, DC—Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Department of Health and Human Services, Room 445-G, Hubert H. Humphrey Building, 200 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20201.

(Because access to the interior of the Hubert H. Humphrey Building is not readily available to persons without federal government identification, commenters are encouraged to leave their comments in the CMS drop slots located in the main lobby of the building. A stamp-in clock is available for persons wishing to retain a proof of filing by stamping in and retaining an extra copy of the comments being filed.)

b. For delivery in Baltimore, MD—Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Department of Health and Human Services, 7500 Security Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21244-1850.

If you intend to deliver your comments to the Baltimore address, call telephone number (410) 786-7195 in advance to schedule your arrival with one of our staff members.

Comments erroneously mailed to the addresses indicated as appropriate for hand or courier delivery may be delayed and received after the comment period.

For information on viewing public comments, see the beginning of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Melissa Harris, (410) 786-3397.

Jodie Anthony, (410) 786-5903.

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Department of Rehabilitation Invites You to Attend Stakeholders Discussion About the California Competitive Integrated Employment Blueprint

November 21, 2016

The Department of Rehabilitation is proud to announce the completion of the final draft California Competitive Integrated Employment (CIE) Blueprint and invite stakeholders to participate in a public teleconference to gather feedback on the Blueprint.

The Blueprint is the combined effort of the California Department of Education (CDE), California Department of Rehabilitation (DOR), and California Department of Developmental Services (DDS) in partnership with a wide range of stakeholders including Disability Rights California (DRC) with leadership provided by the California Health and Human Services Agency (CHHSA). The purpose of the Blueprint is to increase opportunities for Californians with intellectual disabilities and developmental disabilities (ID/DD) to prepare for and participate in CIE.

The three departments developed the Blueprint with an aim to support the achievement of CIE for individuals with ID/DD. The CIE Blueprint was developed with assistance from Disability Rights of California and the public, and identifies changes in policies, practices and regulations. 

If you are a consumer, parent, or advocate; or, you work in partnership with the CDE, DOR, and/or DDS to provide services and/or employment opportunities to individuals with ID/DD, please join us in a public teleconference on Tuesday, December 13, 2016. The purpose of the teleconference is to collect stakeholder recommendations and feedback on the final draft CIE Blueprint.

The public teleconference provides stakeholders with the opportunity to provide recommendations and feedback on any items in the Blueprint that may need to be modified or that may be missing. Stakeholder input is important as we move forward to the finalization of the California CIE Blueprint. 

Teleconference details:
Tuesday, December 13, 2016
1:30 P.M. to 3:30 P.M.
CALL IN NUMBER: 888-946-2714 
PARTICIPANT PASSCODE: 2778914 

To view the final draft Blueprint, please visit the California Health and Human Services Agency (CHHSA) webpage at www.chhs.ca.gov and select the tab at the top titled “CIE”. The Blueprint is available in the following seven languages:
· English
· Spanish
· Chinese (Traditional)
· Tagalog
· Armenian
· Russian
· Vietnamese

The public comment period for the draft Blueprint is now open and will close on December 30, 2016. Written comments and questions may be submitted to CaliforniaCIE@dor.ca.gov.

We look forward to receiving your input.

Nancy Bargmann, Director, DDS
Kristin Wright, Director, Special Education Division, CDE
Joe Xavier, Director, DOR

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Transportation to Mobility: Disparities, Data and Action--Join the ADA Audio Conference Dec 15th

November 21, 2016

ADA Audio Conference: Moving From Transportation Towards Mobility Management: Disparities, Data and Action
December 15th from 11:00-12:30pm

The ADA Participation Action Research Consortium (ADA PARC) will present a session titled:  “Moving from Transportation towards Mobility Management: Disparities, Data and Action,” on Thursday, December 15, 2016 as part of the ADA Audio Conference Series from the ADA National Network.   Individuals may participate by either webinar platform and/or telephone.  The session will be real-time captioned via the webinar platform.
 
The session features Judy Shanley, PhD, Co-director of the National Center for Mobility Management, Easter Seals, Lauren Nolan, Economic Development Planner at the Nathalie P. Voorhees Center for Neighborhood and Community Involvement and Marian Vessels, Director of the Mid-Atlantic ADA Center at TransCen Inc., a member of the ADA National Network.
 
Transportation has consistently been identified as an ongoing problem for people with disabilities impacting quality of life and participation in communities. In an effort to increase equitable access to transportation, this webinar will highlight new initiatives focusing on a shift towards mobility management, current research initiatives using mapping that analyze transportation disparities for people with disabilities, and use of transportation data to create potential for community action.
 
Date:  December 15, 2016
Time: 11-12:30pm Pacific Time

Cost:  Free
Registration Required:  www.ada-audio.org  (Individuals will be required to establish an account on this website if they do not already have one)
Continuing Education Recognition:   Certificate of Attendance
 

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National Voter Registration Day - September 27th

September 1, 2016

Election day is around the corner and will be here before we know it.  The disability community across the country continues to organize, educate and get the word out about the importance of the disability vote. Many of you have been engaged in these efforts and are gearing up for National Voter Registration Day--September 27th. The American Association of People with Disabilities "Rev Up" campaign has a number of useful resources, including trainings, statistics and toolkits to make our Get Out The Vote, (GOTV), work a little easier. These resources can also be helpful when organizing events and activities for National Voter Registration Day. 

If you are interested in connecting with a local disability organizing team that is working on voting please feel free to connect with your local Independent Living Center. 

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VOX.com covers the DOnetwork's #VoteDisability GOTV Conference: online story and video!

June 23, 2016

50 million Americans live with disabilities. They could swing this election. You listening, politicians?



The rights of disabled people aren't a partisan issue — they're an American issue.



by  on June 23, 2016, 12:20 p.m. ET @feministabulous



When I asked Tangikina Moimoi how she felt when Donald Trump made fun of a reporter with a disability, she went completely silent. Tears started to pour down her face as she struggled to conjure the words necessary to express the toxic cocktail of emotions she felt when a man running for the highest office mirrored the lowest common denominator of attack she'd experienced as a person living with a disability. My throat tightened, my eyes started to swell up, and I could hear my cameraman starting to sniffle, struggling to keep his own emotion from muffling the sound of our interview.



I was mad as hell. That the most visible and widely covered man in American politics could publicly display such an insensitive reaction to a person with a disability wasn’t just shocking, it was infuriating. My frustration was outweighed with the rage boiling inside of me as I realized the media had failed to broadcast responses from those like Moimoi.



Click below to read the full story and watch the video


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Take the SOS Accessibility Survey: Voters with Disabilities

June 10, 2016

Dear Voters with Disabilities,
 
The Secretary of State is asking for voters with disabilities to respond to a brief and private survey regarding their experiences during the June 7, 2016, Presidential Primary Election.  The survey results will help us see whether there is a need for more training, modified services, or enhanced outreach programs for voters with disabilities.
 
CLICK HERE to take the survey
 
Contact for questions: Jon Ivy, jivy@sos.ca.gov, 916-695-1581

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#VoteDisability Alert: Election Day Access and Mail Ballots

June 7, 2016

It’s Election Day!

Tuesday June 7, 2016

 


The California Presidential Primary is finally here – please go vote at your first opportunity.  This is our chance to show California the power of the Disability Vote!
 
For resources and information like finding your polling place or reporting access barriers go to www.VoteDisability.net.  Also, below is some important information about voting today:



  • If you vote-by-mail:



Please roll or walk your ballot into your polling place to ensure that it is received. If your ONLY option is to mail your ballot, then make sure you place a stamp on it with the proper amount of postage and put it in the mail as soon as possible. We recommend  that you do not rely on  the prepaid  postage mark on your ballot  envelope, these envelops must go through the  post  office  business  sector  and may be  delayed.



  • If you encounter an access barrier to  voting:



Call BOTH of these two (2) hotlines for help:


-California Secretary of State Voter Hotline (800) 345-VOTE, the folks on this hotline will assist you to rectify the barrier.
-Disability Rights California Voter Hotline (888) 569-7655, reporting the barrier to this legal team will help make sure it doesn’t happen again.


 


GO VOTE!

Also, scholarship ticket still available
#VoteDisability  2016  GOTV Leadership Conference
Click on the image below

#VoteDisability Conference Logo click  here to  learn more about a  free scholarship ticket  to the conference

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Spare me, "Me Before You": Hollywood's new tearjerker is built on tired and damaging disability stereotypes

May 30, 2016

The love story of a suicidal quadriplegic and his young aide is the latest to objectify disabled people

by  Emily Ladau

I usually try to read a book or watch a movie in its entirety before forming a definitive opinion, but the portrayal of the disability experience in Jojo Moyes’ fictional bestseller “Me Before You” stung so sharply after just a few chapters that I could barely handle any more. I stopped reading, returning to finish it over a year later only after being inundated with trailers for the movie adaptation starring “Game of Thrones”’ Emilia Clarke and “The Hunger Games”’ Sam Claflin. The book overflows with dehumanizing stereotypes about disability, from implications that disabled people are things no more active than houseplants, to assumptions that disability is a fate worse than death. Based on previews, it seems the movie will be just the same.

The plot centers on a quadriplegic man named Will who is suicidal because he has become disabled, and a young woman named Louisa who takes a job as his caregiver and, of course, falls in love with him. Most people have been eating up this storyline, so the movie is practically a hit before it’s even been released. When the trailer first came out, it was received with overblown emotional fanfare. HuffPost Entertainment wrote, “Even The ‘Me Before You’ Trailer Will Make You Cry.” BuzzFeed declared, “’Me Before You’ Is The Movie That’s Going To Emotionally Wreck You.” Since I embrace my love of anything with a heavy dose of sappy romance, headlines like these would usually have me planning to see the first showing at my local movie theater, armed with a full box of Kleenex. But to me, a physically disabled woman who uses a wheelchair and believes all lives have value, “Me Before You” isn’t just a contrived tearjerker. It’s yet another contribution to an endless line of disability objectification in the media, and I can’t get behind it.

Exploiting disability as a plot device tends to be a pretty common theme across media outlets because it virtually guarantees strong emotional reactions. Look no further than social media for a steady stream of examples. Try to think of the last disability-related story you came across on Facebook or Twitter. I’d be willing to bet almost anyone that it wasn’t real news. It was likely clickbait crowing about how heartwarming it is that a disabled student was asked to prom by a non-disabled fellow student, or a photo of a visibly disabled person and a demand that you should “like and share” if you believe the person is beautiful or brave. Or maybe it was a heartbreaker about someone “suffering” from a disability — either heroic for overcoming odds, or pitiful for succumbing.

I’ve spent my whole life surrounded by these kinds of stereotypical narratives of disability. In far too many cases, non-disabled writers and filmmakers seem to have no qualms about reducing disabled characters to victims or sources of inspiration (referred to as “inspiration porn”). Consider, for example, one of the defining scenes from “Forrest Gump,” in which young Forrest is being bullied by a group of boys because of his disability. As they start to chase him, Forrest’s friend Jenny yells, “run, Forrest, run!” Of course, the uplifting music begins to swell and Forrest magically breaks free from his leg braces, outrunning the bullies “like the wind blows.” In this case, Forrest goes from victim to inspirational figure, evoking feel-good emotions from viewers. On the flip side, consider the movie “Million Dollar Baby.” When Maggie, who is a boxer, becomes a quadriplegic following an injury sustained during a match, the movie does not convey that life goes on. Instead, Maggie becomes desperate to die, begging for assistance to commit suicide. Maggie transforms from inspirational figure to victim, leading viewers to sadness and pity.

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Sign the Petition to Showtime: Remove the Segment from Gary Owen's Comedy Routine!

May 20, 2016

We live in an era where bullying has become public sport, where public figures and leaders from dozens of walks of life seem to believe that humiliation and viciousness are acceptable ways of communicating.  The results are disastrous:  racism, sexism, fear, violence, and even terrorism.  They all have the same root: demonizing someone who is different.  Some think it’s funny.  We don’t. We think it’s horrific and we’re asking you to help us stop it.

Showtime’s comedy special, “I Agree with Myself,” includes Gary Owen’s disparaging use of the word “retarded” to describe his cousin with intellectual disabilities.  His routine ranges from being insulting to people with intellectual disabilities to being dangerous in that it recalls practices ranging from institutionalization to infanticide.  He mocks their speech, mocks their love, mocks their sexuality, mocks them as people and worst of all, does so without any qualms or hesitation.  He can pick on his cousin.  Why?  According to him: because she’s “retarded.”  Apparently, she isn’t worthy of even the most basic dignity.  To him.

None of this is funny.  At all.  It is callous and gratuitous verbal violence.  It is infuriating and dangerous and should not be condoned by citizens, corporations, or leaders.  We are determined to stop it.

Please join us in signing the petition to demand that Showtime remove this segment of the comedy special from their air and implore Gary Owen to apologize for his use of the R-word and take the pledge to not use the R-word. 

Click the link below to sign the petition

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HOLLYWOOD PROMOTES THE IDEA IT IS BETTER TO BE DEAD THAN DISABLED

May 20, 2016

by Dominick Evans

Few films make me as upset as The Sea Inside. It has been years since the first time I saw the 2004
Alejandro Amenábar vehicle, which stars Javier Bardem, as a real-life disabled man named Ramón Sampedro, a Spanish man who believed it was better to be dead than disabled. Rather than portraying disability in a way that would open up dialogue about why disabled people feel that way, and addressing the greater issue of how society views disability, the film is a testament as to why non-disabled people should pity the disabled community, especially those who are as disabled as Ramón Sampedro, and support his decision to end his life, even if his disability was not fatal, which it was not.

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#CACounts: Closing The Gap In Voter Turnout For California's Disabled

May 18, 2016

Alice Daniel | KQED

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In the Sierra foothills above Fresno, the community of Prather is hosting a forum for county council candidates. It’s in the cafeteria of the local elementary school, where a banner on the wall reads a bit like a political slogan — Every Day, In Every Way, We Get Better.

As people wander in, Jim Cox talks to one of the candidates about what it’s like to be disabled in a rural mountainous region.

“In spite of the fact we’re in the mountains, it’s actually pretty accessible and we actually get out a lot,” Cox tells the candidate. “And you’ll find us doing an amazing number of things.”

But Cox says there are issues with the great outdoors — duck hunting, for one. On the one hand, the county has done a good job making duck hunting blinds accessible. But actually getting to those duck blinds can be a challenge.By law, polling places must provide an accessible voting machine. But if there’s just one and it breaks down, it takes time to fix it.“Some of the duck blinds, you know, you have the wheelchair accessible blinds and yet the roads to those blinds are blocked off,” says Cox. “How am I supposed to get there if I can’t push my wheelchair there?”

Sometimes the dirt roads are closed off with a gate, he says — and if you have mobility issues, you can’t just get out and open it.

Almost 40 years ago, Cox broke his back in a car accident. He was partially paralyzed, and eventually his right leg had to be amputated. He wears a prosthetic and sometimes uses a wheelchair, especially if he’s in Sacramento engaging politicians.

“So they have an idea that we’re out here and we’re not just a forgotten community,” Cox says. “Believe it or not, there are people who would push people who are disabled into the closet and lock the door.”

Various Barriers to Voter Turnout

California doesn’t have specific voter statistics for people with disabilities. However, a recentstudy from Rutgers University found that voter registration nationwide is about 2.3 percent lower for the disabled. But the big gap is in voter turnout – about 6 percent lower than for people without disabilities. Advocates like Cox say there are lots of reasons for this — apathy, feeling left out of the conversation, physical barriers.

“Sometimes it’s the issue of the voting machines themselves,” says Cox, who volunteers with Resources for Independence Central Valley.

By law, polling places must provide an accessible voting machine. But if there’s just one and it breaks down, it takes time to fix it.

Ands sometimes poll workers view the machines as burdensome, as something they have to provide versus something everyone can use.

“Most people around California think the machine is there for someone in a wheelchair,” says Ted Jackson, director of community organizing for the California Foundation for Independent Living Centers. “Not for someone who is aging, or has poor vision, or uses a walker.”

“In California, there’s a lot of stigma in institutionalized ableism around that machine,” he says. “Poll workers are afraid to suggest it and quite frankly, from having dealt with a lot of our county elections officials, I think a lot of them have a little stigma about that machine. too.”

Jackson says L.A. County is doing it right by designing a one-size-fits-all voting machine for everyone. People shouldn’t have to cast their ballots in different ways, he says.

Still, it’s not just about the polling place.

Grass-Roots Effort to Engage Disabled Voters

“Just because you build the house and send out invitations doesn’t mean people are coming to the (housewarming) party,” Jackson says. “You’ve got to go out and get them and bring them in.”

And that’s what hundreds of volunteers statewide will do this election season — driving people to the polls, doing outreach at festivals and fairs, staffing phone banks.

It’s a grass-roots effort among nine independent living centers from Eureka to San Diego, and each center has its own localized plan. In Fresno, volunteers will go door to door.

“When it comes to having a volunteer force that’s disabled, there are barriers to mobility in walking up to someone’s house. What’s interesting about Fresno and the area near the independent living center is there are these nice little postwar homes level and flat to the street,” Jackson says.

Jim Cox is part of that Fresno effort. And tonight, at the community forum in the Sierra foothills, he’s not only bringing up accessibility issues with potential candidates. He and his wife, Becky, are asking voters to make a promise.

“Are you planning on voting?” Becky asks a father who is here with his kids.

“Yes,” he says. “I always vote.”

“And if you would, sign that pledge,” she asks.

“Pledging for what?” he asks.

“Promising to vote,” says Jim Cox.

“We’re also hoping that you keep in mind people who have disabilities,” Becky says.

After all, a strong voting bloc includes those who are sympathetic to the cause, family members and friends who know someone with a disability.

Ted Jackson says it won’t happen overnight, but in time the goal is to create a voting bloc along the same lines of other groups who have sometimes felt left out of the electoral process, like the LGBT community.

“We are starting to do something new, we are starting to do something different and we’re not going to achieve it in one election cycle,” says Jackson. “We’ll achieve closing that gap over several election cycles. And the outcome will be more electoral power.”

Copyright KQED 2016. Read more in this series and let us know your thoughts on Twitter using the hashtag #CACounts.

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Welcome to the Disability Organizing Network (DOnetwork) website! The DOnetwork calls to action the California Disability Communities and allies, through community organizing, advocacy, education, leadership development and coalition building to effect systems change in local, state and national issues.

The CFILC Disability Organizing Network is a statewide disability advocacy network of 28 Independent Living Centers and the communities they serve. In each center there is a full time staff person devoted to increasing civic participation through community organizing, education and advocacy around issues that affect the Disability Communities.