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Recent Major Events
Civil Rights/Olmstead – Department of Justice settlement in Virginia
The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia approved a settlement agreement
between the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Commonwealth concerning its system for providing services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). DOJ found that Virginia was violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by failing to give people the opportunity to live in the community. Virginia will move many individuals out of training centers into the community, will provide services to some of the people on the waiting list, and will dramatically change the way Virginia provides services to individuals with I/DD. To view The Arc of Virginia’s statement visit their website
Civil Rights/Olmstead – Department of Justice agreement with North Carolina
The Department of Justice (DOJ) entered into an Olmstead agreement
with North Carolina that will reform the state’s system for serving individuals with mental illness. Over the next eight years, the state will provide community-based supportive housing for 3,000 individuals living in adult care homes. The state will provide supported employment services to 2,500 individuals, create a crisis service system, and expand access to mental health services.
Civil Rights – Federal Court dismisses lawsuit to deny voting rights to some individuals with disabilities in Minnesota
A federal court in St. Paul, Minnesota dismissed a lawsuit that challenged the right of some Minnesotans with disabilities to vote earlier this month. In the case of Minnesota Voters Alliance, et. al. v. Mark Ritchie, et. al. U.S. District Court Judge Donovan Frank ruled that Plaintiffs did not make a valid challenge to Minnesota’s law and legal decisions that protect the voting rights of persons under guardianship.
To read more about this ruling visit The Arc of Minnesota’s website
Americans with Disabilities Act – Settlement in ADA Complaint against Wal-Mart
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) settled
an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) employment discrimination complaint filed on behalf of an individual with cerebral palsy (CP) against Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. and Wal-Mart Stores East, L.P. Wal-Mart will pay $50,000 in back pay and damages to the individual. EEOC had charged that a Wal-Mart store in Carlsbad, NM fired an employee after she took medical leave due to her CP rather than provide an accommodation involving breaks from standing. In addition to the financial penalties, Wal-Mart will conduct annual live ADA training of management officials at its Carlsbad store.
Housing – HUD Receives 42 Applications for New Integrated Housing for People with Disabilities
In May, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced the availability of $85 million to state housing agencies to provide affordable, inclusive, supportive housing for extremely low-income people with disabilities. This historic announcement marked the first time that Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities Program funding is being offered to state housing agencies that meet new eligibility criteria, including having a partnership with a state health and human services and Medicaid agency to provide essential supports and services. HUD estimates that this funding will provide 2,800 new supportive housing units for people with disabilities set within larger housing developments in the community. The application deadline closed August 7, with HUD receiving 42 applications
from 34 states and the District of Columbia. For more information on the Section 811 program visit the Technical Assistance Collaborative (TAC) Resource Center on Supportive Housing at http://811resourcecenter.tacinc.org
Housing – Department of Housing and Urban Development Issues Notice on Waiting List Administration
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has issued PIH-2012-34 on administration of waiting lists for HUD’s housing choice voucher program (also known as the Section 8 program) and public housing program. The notice covers issues related to opening the waiting list, applicant selection, placing applicants on the waiting list, and outreach. It requires Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) to ensure that their processes for waiting list administration “conform to established rules and regulations, including fair housing civil rights laws and regulations, and must result in consistent, non-discriminatory determinations on applicant eligibility, placement of applicants on the waiting list, and selection of applicants from the waiting list.” Among other topics, the notice discusses how PHAs can ensure that their processes are accessible to, and do not discriminate against, people with disabilities.
Employment – National Council on Disability Report on Subminimum Wage and Supported Employment
The National Council on Disability (NCD) has issued a report, Subminimum Wage and Supported Employment. The report is the result of a review over the last year by NCD of the use of the subminimum wage for persons with disabilities, authorized under Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act. In its report, NCD recommends phasing out the subminimum wage and makes other policy recommendations designed to increase opportunities for integrated employment at or above the minimum wage for people with disabilities. NCD is an independent federal agency charged with advising the President, Congress, and other federal agencies regarding policies, programs, practices, and procedures that affect people with disabilities.
Major Events Ahead
Education – Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
The Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), which is required under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to monitor states’ compliance with special education requirements, is rethinking its accountability system and wants to shift the balance from a system focused primarily on compliance to one that puts more emphasis on results. OSEP believes it is critical that resources be aligned to and support improved educational results and functional outcomes for children with disabilities.
Over the next few months, OSEP will be asking questions to gain stakeholders’ perspective on what should be included in the new accountability system. Each question will be posted for a two-week period during which time you will have the opportunity to provide your ideas. OSEP plans to post new questions every two weeks so that stakeholders can comment on various aspects of this effort to move to a Results-Driven Accountability system.
The current question focuses on the relationship between improvement of educational results and functional outcomes, and implementation of IDEA requirements. You can read and respond to this question by visiting the DOE blog.
Health Care – Teleconference with Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on Health Insurance Marketplace & Expanded Insurance Options
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will be conducting regional teleconferences with CMS staff to:
- Update you on the latest information regarding implementation of the Health Insurance Marketplace (Exchanges), part of the Affordable Care Act.
- Start discussing strategies to educate the uninsured, under-insured, and small businesses about expanded insurance coverage options.
Registration is required for these teleconferences. Visit the CMS website to register: http://www.cms.gov/Outreach-and-Education/Outreach/HIMarketplace/ROStakeholderCalls.pdf
The Arc’s 2012 National Convention
Social Security Commissioner Michael J. Astrue will be on hand to receive this year’s President’s Award at The Arc’s National Convention & International Forum October 25-28 in Washington, D.C. Commissioner Astrue is being honored for a steadfast commitment to people with disabilities, including people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, during his tenure at the Social Security Administration. He helped reduce the average length of time applicants wait to receive Social Security disability benefits and helped develop and expand initiatives such as Compassionate Allowances and Quick Disability Determinations that seek to provide benefits quickly to applicants with the most severe disabilities. Plan to join us to hear from the Commissioner personally. Check out the full program and register now.
Health Care – Affordable Care Act Insurance Exchanges
As part of the ongoing efforts to implement the Affordable Care Act, The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released the Blueprint for Approval of Affordable State-based and State Partnership Insurance Exchanges. This document provides the states with the information they will need to provide to HHS, depending on whether they are planning to operate a state based private health insurance exchange, a state partnership model or whether the federal government will facilitate the exchange.
The exchanges are private health insurance marketplaces that will cover health insurance plans to individuals and small businesses. HHS must approve the plan no later than January 1, 2013 in order to begin operation in 2014. The Blueprint describes the general functions of the exchange and what states need to provide as supporting documentation.
Health Care/Long Term Services and Supports – Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund Survey
The Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF) and the Center for Personal Assistance Services, Institute for Health and Aging, University of California, San Francisco are conducting a survey to identify the types of tools and information you require to advocate effectively as states move to managed healthcare, long-term services and supports (LTSS) and home and community-based services (HCBS) for people with disabilities and seniors.
To learn more about the survey and who should participate visit the DREDF website.
Americans with Disabilities Act – Upcoming Board Webinar to Cover Webinar Accessibility
The next webinar in the Board’s monthly series will take place September 6 from 2:30 – 4:00 (ET) and will cover webinar accessibility. The session will review the use of interactive features, captioning, audio connections, and other features to ensure that webinars are accessible to people with disabilities, including those who use assistive technologies. The webinar will be conducted by Peggy Greenwell, the Board’s Training Coordinator, and Robin Jones, Director of the Great Lakes National ADA Center, the organization that has teamed up with the Board to make its popular webinar series possible.
To register for this free webinar, visit http://www.accessibilityonline.org/. Questions for the webinar can be submitted in advance through this website. Archived copies of previous Board webinars are also available on the site.
Civil Rights – The Access Board Forms Advisory Committee on Medical Diagnostic Equipment
The Access Board has named an advisory committee to provide recommendations on new standards for medical diagnostic equipment that were released for public comment earlier this year. The Medical Diagnostic Equipment Accessibility Standards Advisory Committee will advise the Board on matters associated with the comments the Board received and information it requested in proposing the standards. Members of the committee include representatives from disability and veterans advocacy organizations, universities, and industry.
Representatives from the departments of Health and Human Services, Justice, and Veterans Affairs will serve as ex officio members of the committee. The committee will hold its first meeting September 27 and 28 at the Board’s Conference Center at 1331 F Street, NW, Suite 800, Washington, D.C. Committee meetings are open to the public. The committee is expected to meet several times over the next few months. For further information, visit the Board’s website.