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

Contact your Senators Today about COVID-19 Relief!

Last week the Senate’s “skinny” COVID-19 relief package, the Delivering Immediate Relief to America’s Families, Schools and Small Businesses Act (PDF), failed to advance. This was considered their “skinny” package, because it is a scaled-back version of the HEALS Act that was introduced in July. You can read more about the HEALS Act in our previous alert.

The next two weeks are critical for passing real, comprehensive COVID-19 relief. If the Congress doesn’t reach an agreement this month, it will likely delay any significant relief until after the election, and possibly even until January. That is unacceptable.

Even if you’ve contacted your Senators already, they need to hear from us again today! They need to hear from their constituents how important it is that they work to pass real, comprehensive relief now. And, they need to hear how critical it is to address the disability community’s needs in this COVID-19 package. They need to hear about all our priorities, but especially about the need for funding for home and community based services (HCBS). You can see a full list of priorities in this letter from CCD (PDF), of which NCIL is a member. NCIL also worked with other disability organizations to highlight our most critical priorities (PDF).

TAKE ACTION: Contact your Senators to tell them to #GetBackToWork on a bill that addresses our needs. Remind that that #WhatWeNeed is #HCBS funding!

  • Call your Senators. Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 (voice) or (202) 224-3091 (TTY). Ask to be connected to your Senators.
  • You can find your Senators’ contact forms at senate.gov.
  • You can find your Senators’ direct phone numbers, Twitter handles, Facebook pages, and more on Contacting Congress.
  • You can use Resistbot to turn texts into faxes by texting “RESIST” to 50409.
  • Also consider contacting Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. You can use the methods above or tweet at them. McConnell – @SenateMajLdr; Schumer – @SenSchumer.

A sample script is below. Please feel free to personalize.

[Read more…]

Organizers Forum: Getting Out The Vote (in a Pandemic!)

Let’s make sure disabled people vote in this fall’s election! How do we do voter outreach during the pandemic? How do we ensure that disabled people CAN vote? What can we learn from other marginalized communities? 

  • Tuesday, September 15, 2020
  • 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. Eastern (12:00 – 1:00 p.m. Central / 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Mountain / 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. Pacific)
  • RSVP
  • Video link: https://zoom.us/j/158367875
  • Call-in: 1-929-205-6099, Meeting ID 158 367 875# or find your local number.

Speakers:

  • Dom Kelly, Fair Fight
  • Rachita Singh, American Association of People with Disabilities
  • Mike Dark, California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform

Please join us! If you have questions or suggestions, please email jessica@sdaction.org.

[Read more…]

Announcing the Access to Power Fellowship!

We’re proud to announce the Access to Power Fellowship, a new virtual seven-month organizing fellowship for Jewish young adults with disabilities (ages 20-39). Open to both professional and volunteer organizers who live anywhere, with any kind of disability, the Access to Power Fellowship will support emerging disabled Jewish organizers to take their leadership to the next level through training and coaching. 

This opportunity is brought to you by JOIN for Justice in partnership with Sins Invalid, National Council on Independent Living, and Detroit Disability Power.

Please spread the word!

New COVID-19 Relief Package: Contact your Senators Today!

The Senate has introduced another COVID-19 relief package called the Delivering Immediate Relief to America’s Families, Schools and Small Businesses Act (PDF). This is considered their “skinny” package, because it is a scaled-back version of the HEALS Act that was introduced in July. You can read more about the HEALS Act in our previous alert. Like the HEALS Act, this new package does not meet the needs of the disability community. It also includes the same dangerous liability shield. This is the piece that would undermine the Americans with Disabilities Act and give businesses immunity for harm they cause in almost all circumstances.

The Senate voted and failed to advance their bill today, by a vote of 52-47. Our Senators need to hear from us again now! They need to hear about the importance of addressing the disability community’s needs in their COVID-19 response. They need to hear about all of our priorities, but especially about the need for funding for home and community based services (HCBS). You can see a full list of priorities in this letter from CCD (PDF), of which NCIL is a member. NCIL also worked with other disability organizations to highlight our most critical priorities (PDF).


TAKE ACTION: Contact your Senators to tell them to #GetBackToWork on a bill that addresses the our needs. Remind that that #WhatWeNeed is #HCBS funding!

  • Call your Senators. Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 (voice) or (202) 224-3091 (TTY). Ask to be connected to your Senators.
  • You can find your Senators’ contact forms at senate.gov.
  • You can find your Senators’ direct phone numbers, Twitter handles, Facebook pages, and more on Contacting Congress.
  • You can use Resistbot to turn texts into faxes by texting “RESIST” to 50409.
  • Also consider contacting Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. You can use the methods above or tweet at them. McConnell – @SenateMajLdr; Schumer – @SenSchumer.

A sample script is below. Please feel free to personalize.

[Read more…]

Funding Opportunity: Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation National Paralysis Resource Center

Grant Cycle Opens September 9, 2020

***Includes Enhanced Focus on Employment Grants***

The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation National Paralysis Resource Center announces grant funding opportunities through its 2nd Cycle 2020 Direct Effect Quality of Life (Tier 1) and High Impact Priority Quality of Life (Tiers 2-4) grants initiatives.

[Read more…]

New Resource Available: NCIL Voter Registration Toolkit

Did you know that Centers for Independent Living (CILs) can participate in non-partisan voter registration? The National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) encourages every Center for Independent Living to provide an opportunity to register to vote to their consumers. 

There is still plenty of time to register voters before the 2020 General Election. We have compiled some resources below to help Centers for Independent Living provide their consumers with the opportunity to register to vote. It also includes information on registration deadlines, guardianship rules, and voter ID laws. 

The NCIL Voter Registration Toolkit is available in PDF, Word, and plain text formats.

If you have any questions, please contact Sarah Blahovec, Voting Rights and Civic Engagement Organizer, at sarah@ncil.org or 202-207-0334 extension 1103. 

Disability-Led Research Study on the COVID-19 Response

The Johns Hopkins Disability Health Research Center is conducting a disability-led qualitative study to inform COVID-19 policy for the disability community. They are looking to recruit disabled people to participate in a research study of virtual focus groups discussing healthcare, accessibility and employment-related gaps in the COVID-19 response. See below for the study announcement, including information on how to participate and contact information.

Recruitment flyer - full dsecription in text below.
[Read more…]

Report Release: Failures in COVID-19 Response Harm People with Disabilities and Older Adults

The Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies released a report tracking 154 consecutive daily stakeholder calls on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on people with disabilities and older adults throughout the United States.

The Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies released a report documenting the pandemic over 154 consecutive daily calls with disability and older adult stakeholders across the country. The Report: COVID-19 & Disability Rights Daily Calls: February 23 – July 31, identifies patterns showing the failure of the pandemic response to prioritize the lives of people with disabilities and older adults, despite making up over 42% of COVID-19 deaths. It also shows the disability and older adults stakeholders’ initiatives to anticipate and mitigate the unfolding crisis. 

[Read more…]

Survey Results: In-Home Support Needs During COVID-19

In June, we reached out to gather input on the changes that COVID-19 has had on access to in-home support workers. Many of you graciously replied, sharing stories of the struggles being faced daily, and your very personal perspectives and unique perspective allow us to continue to advocate for solutions. We are sending this message to provide you with an overview of the 100 responses we received.

Respondents ranged in age from 19 to 87 years old. The majority (64 persons) rely on personal care attendants using Medicaid as a payer. Hours of support authorized varied widely, but almost every respondent hired privately and indicated a new or worsening worker shortage, and delays in receiving services or funds to make payments. Pay ranges reported an average of about $12.50 an hour. Compounding the worker shortage issue was a universal lack of personal protective equipment PPE, and many reports of out-of-pocket costs to supplement workers’ needs. In addition, 4 out of 5 responses recorded a disruption to routine or elective healthcare.  

[Read more…]

Urgent Call for Stories: How Do Changes to the USPS Impact You?

The United States Postal Service (USPS) has been experiencing drastic changes that have led to major delays in mail service. People around the country are experiencing weeks of delays in receiving mail-order prescriptions, medical equipment, benefits checks, bills, notices, and other necessities they receive via mail. Delays in these critical items and information could result in utility shutoffs, homelessness, food insecurity, sickness, and other dire consequences for disabled people. USPS has also told 46 states and the District of Columbia that it may not be able to deliver mail-in ballots in time for the General Election in November.  

Before the coronavirus pandemic, the USPS was instrumental in delivering necessities and information. As the country continues to struggle with the Coronavirus pandemic, many more people rely on the USPS to receive medications through mail-order pharmacies. Millions of Americans plan on voting by mail to exercise their right to vote while maintaining social distance.  

The National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) and the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) are asking for your help in collecting stories that we can use to illustrate how the changes to the USPS are impacting people with disabilities. We are looking for: 

1. Stories from people who have experienced delays in receiving the following: 

  • Medications 
  • Medical supplies, including durable medical equipment 
  • Basic Necessities 
  • Paychecks or benefit checks 
  • Bills and notices 

2. Stories from people who plan to vote by mail in the November election. How do you feel about the changes to the USPS so far, and how have these changes impacted your plans to vote in November? 

Our goal is to collect these stories and send them to the House of Representatives prior to the House Oversight Committee’s emergency hearing on mail delays taking place on August 24, 2020.  

Please submit stories through the online form or by sending them to sarah@ncil.org by Saturday, August 22 at Midnight. Please include your first name (or initials), your city and state, and two to three paragraphs concisely telling your story.