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Take Action: The Arc Action Alert: Help Increase Accountability for Students with

Major Events Ahead

The House and Senate return from the District work period facing a packed agenda.
Major decisions need to be made by the House and Senate Leadership about funding
for Fiscal Year 2016 and what legislation there is time to pass.  The FY 2016 begins
October 1, 2015, establishing the deadline for either short term extensions or a longer
term agreement.

Major Events Next Week

Social Security – New National, State, and Congressional District Data

The Social Security Administration has published state SSDI fact sheets that provide
data by state and Congressional district on how many workers with disabilities, their
children and spouses receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI); the average
annual SSDI benefit in relation to the poverty threshold; and the total annual benefits
for all SSDI beneficiaries. The agency has also published a national SSDI issue paper,
“Social Security Disability Insurance at Age 60: Does It Still Reflect Congress’ Original
Intent?”  Among other statistics, the paper reports that on average, beneficiaries
worked and paid into Social Security for 22 years before qualifying for SSDI.  Learn
more about SSDI and the action that we need Congress to take to maintain this lifeline
on The Arc’s blog and in a new edition of The Arc’s National Policy Matters, “Social
Security and SSI for People with I/DD and Their Families.”

Education – U.S. Department of Education Alters Rule for Testing Students with

On August 21, the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) released a final rule to end
the use of the Alternate Assessment based on Modified Academic Achievement
Standards (AA-MAS) for eligible students with disabilities.  This rule rescinds the so
called “2% rule” that allowed states to use the AA-MAS for up to two percent of
students with disabilities. The new rule reflects research studies and best practice that
show that most students with disabilities can successfully learn grade-level content
and make academic progress when they receive appropriate services and supports.
The “1% rule” remains in effect for “the small number of students with disabilities
who are unable to participate in the regular state assessment, even with appropriate
accommodations” to take an alternate assessment based on alternate achievement
standards (AA-AAS).  These regulations are effective September 21, 2015.  Learn
more about alternate assessments for students with disabilities here.

Family Support – Dept. of Labor Clarifies that Siblings May Be Eligiable for

The Department of Labor has clarified when siblings may be eligible to take job-
protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).  For the first time,
the Department has included siblings among those eligible for FMLA job-protected
leave under certain circumstances.  The Arc joined other disability advocates last year
in advocating for the eligibility clarification.  The Arc is pleased with this change in
interpretation of the law, but will continue to seek a full legislative fix to ensure that
siblings are covered under FMLA.  See the updated guidance documents:

  • Fact Sheet #28B: FMLA leave for birth, placement, bonding, or to care for a
    child with a serious health condition on the basis of an “in loco parentis”
  • FAQ:  Miscellaneous Questions

Rights / Family Support – Federal Agencies Clarify Rights of Parents with

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and U.S. Department of Health and Human
Services (HHS) jointly issued a document in August that clarifies that children should
not be taken from their parents just because a parent(s) has a disability.  HHS also
noted that people with disabilities should not face additional barriers to adopting or
fostering children based solely on their disability.   See “Protecting the Rights of
Parents and Prospective Parents with Disabilities: Technical Assistance for State and
Local Child Welfare Agencies and Courts under Title II of the Americans with
Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act” here.

Transportation – Department of Transportation Issues Guide for Airlines
Accomodating Passengers with Developmental Disabilities

The Department of Transportation, with the assistance of The Arc and Autistic Self
Advocacy Network, has issued a new guide for airlines regarding their requirements
to accommodate passengers with developmental disabilities under the Air Carrier
Access Act.  The document is not a new law or regulation, but a clarification of
existing requirements.  Topics covered include what questions airlines are allowed to
ask passengers seeking accommodations, how to seek assistance, special seating,
service and emotional support animals, when airlines may deny boarding, when
airlines may require someone to travel with an individual with a developmental
disability, escort and personal care services, what do if your rights have been
violated, and tips for airline employees interacting with people with developmental
disabilities.  It clarifies that airlines may not deny boarding to passengers because of
their disability unless they pose a “significant risk to the health or safety of others”
that cannot be eliminated by a reasonable accommodation.  A diagnosis alone is not
sufficient for determining a passenger poses such a risk.  The Arc was pleased to
provide suggestions for the guide as it complements the work being done through
The Arc’s Wings for Autism  program, an airport rehearsal program.

Rights – Department of Health and Human Services Issues Proposed Rule
Against Discrimination in Health Care

The Department of Health and Human Services has issued a proposed rule to
implement protections against discrimination in access to health care.  The rule
would extend non-discrimination provisions to health insurance plans offered in
health care market places created under the Affordable Care Act and would expand
non-discrimination provisions already applicable to entities receiving funds from
programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.  Insurers and providers would be required
to provide people with disabilities with reasonable modifications, including sign
language interpreters and other communication aids, and accessible information
technology.  Public comments are due on November 6.  The Arc will be working with
other disability organizations to submit comments.  More information can be found
on the Department of Health and Human Services website.

Tony Paulauski
Executive Director
The Arc of Illinois
20901 S. LaGrange Rd. Suite 209
Frankfort, IL 60423
815-464-1832 (OFFICE)
815-464-1832 (CELL)