Archive for April, 2010

ADA Youth Poster Contest 2010

A boy with a painting brushSponsored by Loudoun ENDependence Center (LEND) & Loudoun County’s Disability Services Board

Different Paths, Same Destination

Celebrating the 20 Year Anniversary of the American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA)*

Pick 1 of 3 themes:

  1. How has the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) made an impact on you or your community?
  2. Show us your vision of a community that includes people with disabilities.
  3. How have you or someone you know adapted to living with a disability?

Poster Contest Open To All Loudoun County Middle and High School Students.

For an Official Entry Form see your middle or high school art teacher, e-mail catherine.motivans@loudoun.gov or download the from.

Submissions are due June 14.

Prizes for top 3 middle & high school finalists.

* Signed into law on July 26, 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is wide-ranging legislation intended to make American Society more accessible to people with disabilities.

April 30, 2010 at 5:53 pm Leave a comment

Disability Etiquette – Communicating with Deaf/HoH individuals

Woman's eyesMany hearing people are afraid to communicate with deaf and hard of hearing individuals because they do not know how to do it. Here is a little suggestion to help you have more confidence when doing so.

It is ok for you to tap (gently) deaf and hard of hearing people on the shoulder to get their attention, but make sure to give them eye contact first before you start your conversation. They would feel offended if you look away. It is not like when you speak to hearing people because deaf and hard of hearing people need to rely on facial expression and body language. They can not hear your tone of voice and need to follow the mood of the conversation through those expressions and body language.

Also, when you are with deaf or hard of hearing children, you need to make sure that you have eye level with them. While my son was little, I often kneeled down on the floor with him to communicate. It made him feel that even though he was hard of hearing, he was worthy of efforts to communicate with him.

Please do not hesitate to contact me for further questions. I will be happy to answer them.

By Doreen Solar, ECNV Deaf Peer Mentor

April 29, 2010 at 2:34 pm Leave a comment

504 of the Rehabilitation Act

Disability Leader, Judy Heumann, interviewed by media in 1977In April, 1977, after years of waiting for federal guidelines, disability activists lost patience with the government’s delaying tactics and staged protests around the country. The 504 Sit-In demanded enforcement of the first major law to bar discrimination against the disabled. A dramatic twenty-five-day occupation of the federal office building in San Francisco galvanized people and created a strong sense of purpose and pride. The protests drew national attention, and on April 28, 1977, the government finally released the regulations.

Section 504 requires federal grantees to make their programs and jobs accessible to qualified people with disabilities.

“No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States, as defined in section 7(20), shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance or under any program or activity conducted by any Executive agency or by the United States Postal Service.”

Congress reauthorized the Rehabilitation Act in 1978 and inserted funding to establish Centers for Independent Living.

Visit the 504 Sit-In’s website at  www.dredf.org/504site/504home.html

Get more information on Section 504 visit www.section508.gov/index.cfm?FuseAction=Content&ID=15

By Tony Trott, ECNV Peer Mentor & Editor

April 28, 2010 at 3:26 pm Leave a comment

Oversight Hearing on Achieving the Promise of the Americans with Disabilities Act in the Digital Age – Current Issues, Challenges and Opportunities

Obstruct image of earth and computer codeI attended the hearing with the above title yesterday.  There were a fair number of attendees from different parts of the disability community.  Notable attendees, just to name a few and I’m sure there were others, were Yoshiko Dart, John Kemp, Andy Imparato, and Kelly Buckland.  Unfortunately, members of the subcommittee weren’t quite as well represented.

The first to testify was Samuel Bagenstos, Principal Deputy Attorney General from the Department of Justice.  He was followed by a panel that included Mark Richert from American Foundation for the Blind, Judy Brewer from the World Wide Web Consortium, Dan Goldstein a lawyer from the National Federation of the Blind, and Steve Jacobs who is the president of IDEAL Group, Inc., an assistive technology company,

Although Bagenstos did admit, in his written testimony, that because the Internet was not “in general public use” when the ADA was enacted, it is not expressly mentioned but that the ADA created “general rules” to guarantee access.  Furthermore, he noted that the DOJ made clear in the original law that regulations should be interpreted to keep pace with existing technologies.

Each member of the panel gave brief remarks and then responded to questions.  In her testimony, Brewer said that the World Wide Web remains a “springboard” for innovation and we need to make sure that “people with disabilities are not excluded from its promise.”  Each of the other panel members gave significant testimony  as to why it is imperative to ensure access in the Digital Age. 

There was a good number of mentions of various e-reader-type technologies (e.g., KindleDX and iPad).  In a telling statistic, Goldstein said that more books are available on Amazon’s Kindle than are available in Braille.

By Tony Trott, ECNV Peer Mentor & Editor

April 23, 2010 at 6:58 pm Leave a comment

Attend House Hearing on ADA in the Digital Age

“Achieving the Promise of Americans with Disabilities in the
Digital Age: Current Issues, Challenges and Opportunities”

Thursday, April 22, 2010 at 1 pm
U.S. House of Representatives
Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties
Rayburn House Office Building Room 2141

  • Sign language interpreters provided at hearing
  • Live webcast with captions

Action AlertIf you are in metropolitan DC area, please plan on attending the hearing if you can. It will be good for the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties to know how interested we all are in this hearing.

To activate the webcast, on the day of the hearing, please go to the Committee’s hearing calendar webpage where there is an icon to click on to access the webcast of the hearing: http://judiciary.house.gov/hearings/calendar.html.

One of the witnesses is a Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Technology (COAT) leader, Mark Richert, of COAT founding organization, American Foundation for the Blind (AFB).

For more on the hearing at http://judiciary.house.gov/hearings/hear_100422_1.html.

Credit to the Northern Virginia Resource Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Persons (NVRC)

April 22, 2010 at 4:16 pm Leave a comment

Visual Smoke Alarms

Visual Smoke AlarmsI attended the LEND Focus group for deaf and hard of hearing individuals last Tuesday afternoon. We had a presenter from the Loudoun Country Fire and Rescue Department. She informed that they have a program to provide visual smoke alarms. I then shared it with our Executive Director, David Burds, and he thought it would be worthwhile to do this research with other Counties in Northern VA to share with you readers.

Both Fairfax and Loudoun County Fire and Rescue Departments have programs to provide visual smoke alarms. A visual smoke alarm is a special device to alert deaf and hard of hearing occupants when smoke or fire is detected. The alarm will produce an increased audible alert and also emit a strobe light when activated. There are also other devices available specifically for sleeping areas; such as alarms that will vibrate to awake and alert the individual when the smoke alarm is activated.

Also, they both offer a program to provide fire safety for deaf and hard of hearing at no cost.

Unfortunately, Arlington and Alexandria do not have this program.

By Doreen Solar, ECNV Deaf Peer Mentor

April 20, 2010 at 3:35 pm Leave a comment

Governor’s Budget Amendments Jeopardize Waiver Services

Action Alert!Please call/email your state legislators as soon as possible!

Amendments proposed by Governor McDonnell put community-based services for people with disabilities in jeopardy!

Note:

This alert is extremely important. It is almost certain that this issue will impact you or someone you care about. It explains what has happened since the General Assembly adjourned in March, and what you need to do to prevent the latest attempt to cuts in waiver services. But, we must take action before Wednesday, April 21!

Background:

The General Assembly passed the 2011-2012 Budget on March 15, 2010. This week, Governor McDonnell proposed a number of amendments to the 2010-2012 Budget. The General Assembly will now meet for a reconvened “veto” session this Wednesday, April 21st at 12pm to vote on these amendments, finalizing the budget process.

There are two very serious concerns about Governor McDonnell’s proposed amendments.

Concern #1:

Amendments allow FMAP funds to be redirected

The Governor’s proposed amendments give him the authority to use new federal Medicaid funding (FMAP) for items other than the restoration of funding for home and community-based services through the Medicaid Waivers that were approved by the General Assembly in its final budget. Since the language requiring use of FMAP funds for these restorations has been removed in the governor’s amendments, this action essentially leaves many critical services for people with disabilities and senior adults “up in the air”.

What This Means to You:

All of restorations of funding for Medicaid waiver services approved by the General Assembly are now in jeopardy, including the use of anticipated federal Medicaid monies to prevent:

  • Imposition of a proposed freeze in new admissions to Virginia Medicaid waivers.
  • Cuts in the number of respite hours from 720 to 240 per year (a 2/3 cut in respite services).
  • Reductions of 5% in HCBS Waiver provider reimbursement rates, including personal assistant salaries.
  • Loss of 250 new slots for the Intellectual Disabilities waiver approved by the General Assembly.
  • Maximum monthly income to qualify for waivers from being reduced from a monthly income equal to 300% of SSI to one equal to 250% of SSI.
  • Cuts to the annual amount of funding for Assistive Technology and Environmental Modifications Service provided through the waivers.

Concern #2:

Amendment mandates “managed care” for all Medicaid Home and Commnunity-based Services waivers (HCBS)

The Governor proposed an amendment mandating the “managed care” model for all HCBS waivers (i.e. using insurance companies to coordinate/authorize care). The managed care model is used to “reduce and control costs” of services.

What This Means to You:

Based on what has been reported by advocates in other states, it is believed that moving to this model would have a detrimental impact on people with disabilities in the following ways:

  • There will be “caps” or limits on HCBS Services.
  • People with significant disabilities whose support needs exceed caps could be at increased risk of institutionalization.
  • Funding for services/supports could be redirected to administrative costs/profits for insurance companies.
  • Individuals/families could experience difficulty accessing/navigating supports and services.
  • More information about these proposed amendments can be accessed on Governor McDonnell’s website http://bit.ly/ddynyU.

The Bottom Lline:

In order to defeat proposed amendments that are harmful to people with disabilities – we need a simple majority in the House of Delegates or Senate to vote NO to these amendments on Wednesday, April 21 during the General Assembly “veto” session!

What You Need to Do:

1. Call Your Legislators As Soon As Possible!

Sample message:

“I urge you to reject Governor McDonnell’s amendment that moves home and community-based waivers to managed care. This would be very detrimental to thousands of Virginians with disabilities and senior adults!

I also urge you to reject the proposed amendments that allow redirection of FMAP funds. The proposed FMAP amendments would jeopardize the restorations of community-based services for Virginians with disabilities and senior adults approved by the General Assembly at the conclusion of its 2010 Session.

These critical services that prevent unnecessary institutionalization of Virginians with disabilities, and separating families, are “hanging in the balance!”

Telephone Number of Your Legislators:

Visit Who’s My Legislator http://bit.ly/aokTOs on the General Assembly website to find telephone number of your legislators.

ECNV Contact Information:

If your Delegate/Senator requests further information about the amendments, feel free to encourage them to contact the ENDependence Center of Northern Virginia at 703-525-3268 and speak with Doris Ray (ext. 8006) or email her at mailto: dorisr@ecnv.org.

ENDependence Center of Northern Virginia (ECNV)
David V. Burds, Executive Director
2300 Clarendon Boulevard, Suite 305, Arlington, VA 22201
703-525-3268 ext. 8001 (Voice), mailto: davidb@ecnv.org

2. Email Your Legislators Too!

We’ve got to get the message to our Delegates and Senators as soon as possible – before they get to Richmond to vote on Wednesday. We need everyone to both call and email to ensure the message is delivered.

Remember – it is very important that we take action swiftly and in big numbers!
Your efforts during the general assembly session really did make a difference.
Don’t let it be for nothing. We can win!

By Doris Ray, ECNV Director of Advocacy and Outreach

April 19, 2010 at 3:26 pm Leave a comment

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