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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

ADA / Civil Rights Subcommittee Reorganizes & How You Can Support Civil Rights this Week!

ADA - I Am Equal Too - 2013 NCIL MarchMajor changes came about for NCIL’s ADA / Civil Rights Subcommittee this summer. Mark Derry, who had co-chaired the committee for many years, was elected to serve as NCIL’s Vice President (and Chair of the Legislative & Advocacy Subcommittee) at the 2013 Annual Council Meeting in July. He decided to devote his time to his new role and stepped down as Chair of the ADA / Civil Rights Subcommittee. NCIL’s newly elected President, Lou Ann Kibbee, appointed Mike Bachhuber and Dara Baldwin as Co-Chairs.

The new Chairs expect to continue the reorganization Mark and Co-Chair Julie Alexander had begun. The three Task Forces organized under the ADA / Civil Rights Subcommittee (the Violence & Abuse Task Force, the Mental Health Task Force, and the Voting Rights Task Force) will be more independent moving forward and the Subcommittee will continue its work with members who have a more general passion for civil rights.

The good news is that legislation like last year’s bill to prevent the Department of Justice from enforcing pool accessibility regulations may be dead and the ADA Notification Act does not appear to be going anywhere right now. The Subcommittee will be working to stay ahead of civil rights issues as they develop. 

Consumer-run mental health organizations are concerned about statements by some in Congress that express hostility for their programs. Some Members of Congress have been suggesting that more people with mental health diagnoses need to be locked up or treated against their will and see Recovery and civil rights organizations as their opponents. The Recovery organizations and Protection & Advocacy systems are circulating a petition of support.

Other than that, the biggest civil rights issue may be the government shutdown. The Department of Justice’s ability to enforce civil rights laws is limited because many personnel have been declared “non-essential”. The same is true for civil rights staff in other departments. Contacting your Congressional delegation to express your concern about funding for disability and civil rights programs may be the best thing you can do to support civil rights this week.

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