Capitol Insider
for the Week of October 1, 2012
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Major Events Last Week
Civil Rights – National Council on Disability releases report about parents with disabilities and their children
The National Council on Disability (NCD) released a report entitled, Rocking the Cradle: Ensuring the Rights of Parents with Disabilities and their Children.  The report made 20 Findings and numerous recommendations.  Among the findings: removal rates of children where parents have an intellectual disability ranges from 40% – 80%; two-thirds of the states have dependency laws that allow the court to determine that a parent is unfit on the basis of the parent’s disability; every state allows the parent’s disability to be considered in determining the best interest of a child in custody considerations.  NCD reported that “people with disabilities are the only distinct group that struggles to maintain custody of its children.”  NCD recommended that states amend their laws to remove discriminatory language and that all professionals involved in Family Court matters receive training about parents with disabilities.  Finally, the report highlights programs that provide parenting support to people with disabilities to prevent unnecessary removal of children from their families.
Celebrating National Disability Employment Awareness Month in October
National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) starts October 1. NDEAM is a national campaign to raise awareness about disability employment issues and celebrate the many and varied contributions of America’s workers with disabilities. This year’s theme is “A Strong Workforce is an Inclusive Workforce: What Can YOU Do?”  The Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Programs has created a toolkit to help organizations celebrate NDEAM.
Disability Community Provides Technical Assistance on an Important Provision in the Affordable Care Act
The Arc has joined over 50 national organizations to develop a technical assistance paper to help state advocates and state policy makers decide on the rehabilitative and habilitative benefits required by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). One important feature of the ACA is the requirement that all qualified health benefit plans include 10 categories of essential health benefits.  While all are important to people with disabilities, the inclusion of the category of rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices is of particular importance to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  Each state has a great deal of flexibility to create its essential benefit package. The states will choose a state benchmark plan and if that plan does not include services in each of the 10 category areas it must be changed and the necessary services added.  The Arc hopes that advocates will find this document, which represents a consensus among national disability groups, useful on the state level.
Education – Department of Education launches new website to solicit input into how it monitors states’ compliance with provisions of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
The US Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), would like to change the way it monitors states’ compliance with provisions of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  Currently, the system measures dropout rates, suspension and expulsion rates, percent of time spent in the general education classroom, parental involvement and other indicators.  OSEP would like to move to a monitoring system that looks at student outcomes.   OSEP has created a website where it has posed a series of questions and wants input from stakeholders.  Individuals may share their ideas for how to ensure that students with disabilities do well in school.
Technology – Report from the Department of Justice on Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act
The Department of Justice released a report on the federal government’s compliance with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, which requires federal agencies to ensure that the electronic and information technology (EIT) they procure, develop, maintain, and use is accessible to people with disabilities.  The last report on Section 508 compliance was issued in 2004; the current report covers fiscal year 2010.  Overall, the report found that agencies of the federal government continue to experience challenges in fully complying with Section 508.  Only slightly over 50% of agencies had policies in place to implement the accessibility requirements.  The great majority of agencies that developed software, videos, or multimedia products did not have a process to ensure accessibility of those products.  Agencies also reported great difficulty in ensuring that federal contractors and programs that receive federal funds provide EIT that is accessible. 

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)