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

Youth Issues & Education

NCIL Statement on Face Masks in Education Settings

The National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) is encouraged by the March 24, 2022, letter from US Education Secretary Miguel Cardona clarifying the legal obligations of schools to students with disabilities regarding protection from COVID transmission. The March 24 letter provides advice and resources to fulfill these legal obligations. NCIL agrees with the Secretary’s guidance that schools may require school staff and students to wear masks to protect students with disabilities from contracting COVID.

The decision to require masks in education environments should be based on a case-by-case analysis. Schools must make reasonable modifications to their policies to provide students with disabilities with a free appropriate public education (FAPE). As Secretary Cardona’s letter recognizes, a reasonable modification may include requiring all students and school staff to wear masks in classes. If some school staff and students are not vaccinated for COVID, they are at an increased risk of getting and giving COVID to others, including students with disabilities with immunocompromising conditions. If schools cannot issue mask mandates, they would discriminate against students with disabilities who cannot attend class in person due to the heightened risk of getting COVID from unmasked and unvaccinated students.

Several federal courts are reviewing mask mandate reasonable accommodation requests. The Fourth Circuit ruled that the plaintiffs lacked standing to challenge a state budgetary provision that withholds funding from local schools that have mask mandates. In the Fifth Circuit, Texas is appealing the US District Court’s decision that a state executive order violates the 504 and the ADA by prohibiting local schools from issuing mask mandates. In the Eighth Circuit, the Court of Appeals ruled that the plaintiffs were likely to prevail in their case against South Carolina.

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2022 NCIL Youth Scholarship Applications Now Open!

NCIL is proud to announce the 2022 Youth Scholarship Fund. For the eighth year in a row, we will be offering scholarships to our Annual Conference for youth with disabilities ages 18 – 26 who may otherwise be unable to afford the cost of attendance. 

For the fourth year in a row, we are also offering the Emet Tauber Youth Scholarship. Emet Tauber was a former Youth Scholarship recipient and NCIL board member who passed away in 2019. Emet’s life was changed by the Youth Scholarship Fund and he was passionate about enabling others to have the same opportunities. Therefore, the Emet Tauber Youth Scholarship will be awarded each year to at least one youth with a disability who is also trans and / or Jewish in recognition of Emet’s activism within both of those communities. If you would like to be considered for the Emet Tauber Youth Scholarship, follow the prompts on the application form under the “Emet Tauber Youth Scholarship” section.

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New NCIL Program Announcement: Welcome to next.!

As many of you may have heard, over the past few months, NCIL has been working towards a new intersectional and intergenerational program aimed at uniting the disability world. Today, we are officially announcing our latest program, next.

The goal of next. is to bring together the disability justice movement and achieve change faster as one unit. We want the ADA Generation to learn from those who came before and the tactics they used to accomplish their advocacy. But we also want to bring the younger perspectives and knowledge into the playing field and lift the disability justice movement into the modern era.

This program will be entirely virtual, and over the course of the next few years, we will be building an intersectional platform that represents ALL people with disabilities.

It’s time everyone. Let’s unite and create a strong disability justice movement so that the next. generation has full justice in the US.

You can follow along with next. at NCIL.org or via NCIL’s social media. As stated above, if you are interested in taking part in a campaign or network building, please reach out to me directly at Jenny@ncil.org

next. logo: Connecting the next generation of disability advocates.

Looking forward to the future!

Jenny Sichel, next. Program Coordinator

Verizon Forward for Good Challenge in partnership with Clinton Global Initiative University

ABOUT THE CHALLENGE

This Challenge encourages teams of current undergraduate and graduate students enrolled at U.S. institutions, and Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) alumni, to leverage 5G and other leading-edge technology to advance equity within the U.S. in CGI U’s five focus areas (education, environment and climate change, peace and human rights, poverty alleviation, and public health). The initiative is part of Citizen Verizon, Verizon’s responsible business plan for economic, environmental, and social advancement. The HBCU Founders Initiative and the United Negro College Fund are proud to join forces with Verizon and CGI U to inspire and support undergraduate and graduate students in tackling society’s greatest challenges across the five focus areas listed above through the Forward for Good Challenge. Finalists will receive access to intensive summer entrepreneurship training with accelerator partner VentureWell, seed funding, and living stipends to advance their solutions. 

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2021 NCIL Youth Scholarship Applications Now Open!

2021 Annual Conference on Independent Living Logo - LIBERTY, INDEPENDENCE, FREEDOM, EQUITY. Presented by NCIL. Graphic features a line art drawing of three pulmeria flowers.

NCIL is proud to announce the 2021 Youth Scholarship Fund. For the seventh year in a row, we will be offering scholarships to our Annual Conference for youth with disabilities ages 18 – 26 who may otherwise be unable to afford the cost of attendance. 

Please note that any conference attendee who identifies as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and/or Person of Color) can get their registration fee waived by registering with the discount code BIPOC.  BIPOC youth do not need to apply for a youth scholarship to have their registration fee waived.  They may simply use BIPOC discount code on NCIL’s online registration form.

Since NCIL’s 2021 conference will be virtual, all 2021 youth scholarships will provide a waiver for the $90 youth registration rate.   

For the third year in a row, we are also offering the Emet Tauber Youth Scholarship. Emet Tauber was a former Youth Scholarship recipient and NCIL board member who sadly passed away in 2019. Emet’s life was changed by the Youth Scholarship Fund and he was passionate about enabling others to have the same opportunities. Therefore, the Emet Tauber Youth Scholarship will be awarded each year to at least one youth with a disability who is also trans and/or Jewish in recognition of Emet’s activism within both of those communities. If you would like to be considered for the Emet Tauber Youth Scholarship, follow the prompts on the application form under the “Emet Tauber Youth Scholarship” section.

If you’d like to apply for a youth scholarship, please fill out the online application by July 9, 2021. This is a highly competitive process and no applications will be considered after the deadline. Applicants will be notified if they received a scholarship within one week of the application deadline.

NCIL’s Youth Scholarship Fund is 100% funded by NCIL supporters like you. Please consider making a donation to the Youth Scholarship Fund so that we can keep providing this amazing experience for youth with disabilities.

The Importance of Disability Cultural Centers in Higher Education

By Zane Landin, NCIL Policy Intern

19.4% of students attending higher education institutions identify as someone with a disability. Students with disabilities in higher education often experience ableism, discrimination, and invalidation, from microaggressions to institutional barriers. Graduation rates for students with disabilities are as low as 13% compared to 30% among their non-disabled counterparts. The identity of disability is an aspect of diversity that is integral to our communities, society, and higher education, but is predominantly excluded from social justice initiatives and conversations. 

In higher education, to support different marginalized groups, many universities have developed and implemented cultural centers for different cultural groups of the campus community to feel empowered, celebrated, and interconnected. These cultural centers provide students with a physical / virtual space to feel celebrated while offering professional and personal development resources such as networking events, identity exploratory workshops, and educational conferences. These cultural centers challenge and mitigate some of the barriers these cultural groups experience in higher education. Through their efforts, they are also accelerating the success rates of these cultural groups. Student involvement in cultural activities enhance student success, retention rates, well-being, and the college experience by driving cultural community, relationships, familiarity, expression, and validation.

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Welcome LINK20 to the NCIL Family!

We are excited to announce that over the next year, the Ruderman Family Foundation initiative LINK20 will be transitioning to a program of the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL). LINK20 is a global social movement, led by a network of young activists, with and without disabilities, who advocate for the advancement of inclusion of people with disabilities in society. You can learn more about LINK20 at their website: link20us.org

LINK20 is a grassroots initiative that will be a fantastic fit for NCIL.

“The National Council on Independent Living is thrilled to be working with the Ruderman Family Foundation to transition LINK20 into our organization and ultimately into an independent movement” said NCIL Executive Director Kelly Buckland. “We will bring our background and knowledge to the project and work with the members to strengthen the overall network of LINK20. Welcome to NCIL!”

“Before LINK20 became reality, it was a vision that I had to see a strong network of young adults, with and without disabilities, working together towards inclusion and social justice” said Ruderman Family Foundation President Jay Ruderman. “In 2016, that vision came to realization and LINK20 was formed. Today, LINK20 is a thriving movement with advocates from around the world who fight for equal representation and change the way society views inclusion of people with disabilities. These past four years have been filled with hard work and many successes. I look forward to seeing what the movement is able to accomplish in the future. Thank you for everything.”

Join us in welcoming LINK20 to NCIL!

Any questions can be directed to our new LINK20 Coordinator, Jenny Sichel, at Jenny@ncil.org.

LINK20 members sitting in a room and applauding using American Sign Language
LINK20 Logo: LINK20 - Act Up for Inclusion. A Ruderman Family Foundation Initiative.

Information Alert: Disability EmpowHer Network Announces Mentoring & Leadership Training Opportunities for Girls & Young Women with Disabilities

Source: Disability EmpowHer Network

Disability EmpowHer Network is excited to announce two mentoring and leadership training opportunities for girls and young women with disabilities across the nation: EmpowHer Camp and A Letter from a Role Model.

EmpowHer Camp is a multi-stage skill-building, empowerment, and mentoring program that brings a diverse group of girls with disabilities (ages 13 -17) to camp with successful disabled women mentors in the Adirondacks for one week to learn about disaster preparedness and basic survival skills, while also developing independent living and leadership skills. The girls will be invited to Washington, D.C. the next summer for a reunion trip to explore how they have grown as leaders, meet with leaders in emergency management and the Disability Community, and meet with Congress to discuss inclusive disaster preparedness. During the year between the first trip and the reunion trip, the girls will create a yearlong local project involving inclusive disaster strategies.

A Letter from a Role Model is our introductory mentoring initiative that matches girls with disabilities (ages 8 -18) with a successful disabled woman to write them a letter of encouragement! Adults can nominate a disabled girl to receive a letter from a mentor or she can nominate herself by telling us about her background, interests, and struggles. Disability EmpowHer Network then matches her with a successful disabled woman who will write a letter sharing her own struggles and successes, and plenty of words of wisdom!

To learn more about our programs please visit disabilityempowhernetwork.org. To nominate a girl with a disability to receive a letter or to attend EmpowHer Camp, visit disabilityempowhernetwork.org/get-a-mentor.

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Apply Today to Be an Access to Power Fellow!

There’s just one week left to apply for the Access to Power Fellowship, the new virtual seven-month organizing fellowship for Jewish young adults with disabilities (ages 20-39). It might be hard right now to think beyond the coming week, but we know that supporting our disabled leaders–with skills, with analysis, with spiritual grounding, with community–will be crucial for the fights to come. Would you take a moment and think about Jews with disabilities in your life whose leadership you want supported, and share this opportunity with them?

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. Disabled Jews of color are especially encouraged to apply.

NCIL is designing this program in partnership with JOIN for Justice, Sins Invalid, and Detroit Disability Power.

Applications are due Friday, Nov. 6! Learn more at joinforjustice.org/programs-projects/accesstopower.

Access to Power Ad - Full image description in article.
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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!