Archive for May, 2010

Innovation and Inclusion: The Americans with Disabilities Act at 20

Tony TrottI attended the Senate Hearing on Innovation and Inclusion: The Americans with Disabilities Act at 20 yesterday in the Russell Senate Office Building.

I thought there was a good number of attendees there to hear remarks by Sen. John F. Kerry Chairman, U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet, Congressman Edward Markey (D-MA.), Russell Harvard (a deaf actor), Brian Pearce (an Iraq Vet who lost most of his vision and part of his hearing in an IED explosion), Thomas Wlodkowski (Accessibility Director, AOL Inc.), Bobbie Beth Scoggins (President National Association of the Deaf), and Walter McCormick (President and Chief Executive Officer United States Telecom Association). Unfortunately, the only committee members present to hear the live testimony and ask questions were Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR), and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN). There were various staff members there so presumably other committee members were interested in the topic of the Hearing but just couldn’t attend.

The Hearing was about ways in which current laws can be, as Sen. Kerry put it in his opening statement, “in sync with the modern communications market.”

The first Panel was only Congressman Markey and he said that just as George H.W. Bush said when signing the ADA in 1990, “let the shameful walls of exclusion finally come tumbling down” we must take action so that there are not any new walls erected. Those new walls may be, “virtual, wireless, composed of zeros and ones” so we must be vigilant because these new types of barriers can be just as exclusionary.

The second Panel consisted of the other 5 people mentioned above. The first to offer testimony was Brian Pearce and he spoke of his challenges and his fears of ‘having his wife have to tell me what the emergency crawls are on the television’ because yjry are too small to read.  He also spoke about his frustrations when trying to find a phone that is accessible. Next was Thomas Wlodkowski who said that “flexibility” was one of the biggest things to keep in mind when making things accessible to all.

Bobbie Beth Scoggins was next and she brought up many of the benefits that are written into S3304 and she encouraged Congress to make “S3304 the strongest possible legislation that will ensure…access to the Internet and digital communication tools that are needed to (enable them to) maintain and increase (their) independence, productivity, and privacy.” She was followed up by Russell Harvard who spoke about his feeling left behind from his peers when videos on the Internet are not captioned and he encouraged Congress to require captioning options on all video devices. The final speaker was Walter McCormick and he said that “As these new and exciting technologies evolve, (people with disabilities) could become increasingly disadvantaged if they are denied access to them.”

The hearing left me quite hopeful that Congress will take care  to make sure the ADA is properly updated in order to keep pace with new technologies.

By Tony Trott, ECNV Peer Mentor & Editor

May 27, 2010 at 9:47 pm Leave a comment

The Healthcare Overhaul and You

CaduceusWhether or not you agree with it, healthcare reform (officially the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, PPACA) in America is a reality. America’s healthcare system will change in ways that will affect all Americans in the future.

There is tons of information about changes and potential changes available on the web. But ECNV reminds you that not everything you read on the web is true.

Here is a brief list of facts about the new law that was compiled from various reliable sources.

  • If you get insurance through a job, you can keep it.
  • All people will be able get health insurance. Insurers cannot deny coverage to children based on a pre-existing condition starting in September 2010. Beginning in 2014, insurers will not be able to deny anyone because of their health history or pre-existing conditions.
  • You will be able to compare health plans side-by-side before you purchase them (starting in 2014).
  • Health insurance will not be allowed to set a limit to your coverage.
  • If you are on Medicare, benefits will improve through incentives offered for providing care. One of the big improvements will be the gradual closing of the doughnut hole (see the article elsewhere in this issue). Also beginning in 2011, proven preventive services will be free.
  • Beginning in 2014, everybody will have to have insurance. You’ll have to obtain it either through your job, from Medicare or Medicaid, or purchase it yourself. If you don’t have insurance, you’ll pay a fine, but if you qualify for it, you can get help paying for insurance. If you truly can’t afford it, you will be allowed to opt out of coverage (and avoid the penalty for non-insurance).

By Tony Trott, ECNV Peer Mentor & Editor
Article from the ECNV Declaration (Spring 2010 Edition)

May 25, 2010 at 6:42 pm Leave a comment

Falling into the Doughnut Hole

DoughnutAs anyone who has Medicare Part D knows, the doughnut hole (the gap in drug coverage during which people with Medicare must pay the full cost of their prescriptions out of pocket) is a potential problem. The recently-passed healthcare overhaul has provisions in it to close the doughnut hole by 2020 in incremental steps.

Consumers who hit the doughnut hole (sometimes referred to as the donut hole or the coverage gap) in 2010, will receive a $250 rebate. Starting in 2011, the consumer will be responsible for a reduced percentage (less than 100%) of the medication’s cost and the amount the consumer is responsible for will be reduced incrementally until it reaches 25% in 2020, effectively closing the doughnut hole.

Please note however, that the phase-out works differently for brand-name and generic drugs.

The Medicare Rights Center (a national, non-profit organization) has developed a timeline about the closing of the doughnut hole for brand-name drugs and one for generic drugs; those timelines are available at www.medicarerights.org/pdf/Closing-the-Doughnut-Hole-Chart.pdf.

By Tony Trott, ECNV Peer Mentor & Editor
Article from the ECNV Declaration (Spring 2010 Edition)

May 21, 2010 at 5:35 pm Leave a comment

Inauguration of Dr. T. Alan Hurwitz, Gallaudet University’s 10th President

Dr. T. Alan HurwitzThe inauguration of Gallaudet University’s tenth president, Dr. T. Alan Hurwitz, was held on Wednesday, May 12, 2010 at 3:30 p.m. in the Field House.

To watch the video photo tribute, reflecting the life of President Hurwitz, was shown during the Inauguration program, please go to: http://at.gallaudet.edu/Academic_Technology/Video__Gallaudet/President_T_Alan_Hurwitz.html

Which player do I need to watch the event?
You will need Windows Media Player <http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/download/AllDownloads.aspx?displang=en&qstechnology=>  to watch the event.

How do I watch this on a Mac? Download <http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/player/wmcomponents.mspx>  and install the free Flip4Mac plug-in for QuickTime. You may need to click the on link “Launch in external player” below the video.

Credit to the Gallaudet University

May 19, 2010 at 9:31 pm Leave a comment

You’ve Got To Be Kidding!

David Burds“Twenty years ago! You’ve got to be kidding!” This was the response I recently received from a friend when I had mentioned that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was enacted by the U.S. Congress and signed into law in 1990. Its long title is “An act to establish a clear and comprehensive prohibition of discrimination on the basis of disability.” It was signed into law on July 26, 1990, by Pres. George H.W. Bush.

In 1990, I was employed in the private sector but was affiliated with the Spinal Cord Injury Network through which I was invited to attend the signing. The signing took place on the White House grounds and I was one of 2,000 attendees, at that time the largest number of attendees at the signing of a bill by a President of the U.S.

US Senator Tom Harkin and David Burds

US Senator Tom Harkin, ADA Co-Sponsor, and ECNV Ex. Dir. David Burds, at the ADA Signing Ceremony at the White House (1990)

The United States has a long way to go to fully embrace the rights of people with disabilities, but having had many positive changes occur in society due to the ADA we have reason to celebrate the 20th Anniversary.

Being a major milestone, the ENDependence Center (ECNV) along with its satellite center Loudoun ENDependence (LEND), will be celebrating with various events and highlighted with an ADA Gala on July 24th at the Washington Dulles Airport Marriott. We will keep you abreast on what is happening via our website along with the mailing of our Calendar of Events in June and July. Please mark your calendars for July 24th and stay tuned as plans are being finalized.

By David Burds, ECNV Executive Director
Article from the ECNV Declaration (Spring 2010 Edition)

May 19, 2010 at 3:00 pm Leave a comment

A True Leader — Seville Allen

Seville AllenThe disability community lost a true leader when Seville Allen passed away on February 23rd after a battle with Peritoneal Cancer.

Seville was a retired federal civil servant and former Deputy Director of the Virginia Dep’t for the Blind and Vision Impaired and she was an invaluable leader of the Nat’l Federation of the Blind on the local, state, and national levels. She was also a member of the Board of Directors at ECNV and she worked as a part-time Peer Mentor here as well.

Seville worked tirelessly to make the world a better place for the blind and people with disabilities in general. We have lost a fine friend and leader, but her legacy will live on through her many achievements.

By Tony Trott, ECNV Peer Mentor & Editor
Article from the ECNV Declaration (Spring 2010 Edition)

May 18, 2010 at 7:33 pm Leave a comment

Disability Etiquette – Communicating with Deaf/HoH individuals

Grandparents “Lisa” has communication barriers with her grandparents. The grandparents want to communicate with her but they do not know how to sign. They rely on Lisa’s mother as an interpreter, but Lisa does not like it at all. Even though she loves them, she was relieved when she went to Gallaudet University because she knew she would not see her grandparents much. It really bothers her to have no communication with them.

How can the family solve the communication barriers?

It is imperative to get Lisa involved with family communication, but how can her grandparents learn how to sign? It is often not easy for older people to learn to sign.

 There are many different methods:

  •  Lisa can sign back to her grandparents what they write on notes to her. They will gradually pick up some of the signs as they try to communicate with each other. 
  • Lisa’s grandparents can hire a qualified interpreter to communicate with her if the topic is critical and important. 
  • The grandparents can use an ASL dictionary when they talk to Lisa. This will make her feel that she is an important part of the family.

The grandparents show a positive attitude and acceptance that she is deaf. Lisa will then be able to see them more frequently without any bitter feelings or avoidance.

By Doreen Solar, ECNV Deaf Peer Mentor

May 17, 2010 at 5:51 pm Leave a comment

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