Disability Policy News In Brief

May 9, 2016

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May 09, 2016   |   Vol. XV, Issue 71
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Health Care

Health Center Funding Expansion

On May 4, Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell announced plans to allocate $260 million for the construction, renovation and expansion of 290 health centers in 45 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. The new funds, which will be administered through the FY 2016 Health Infrastructure Investment Program Awards, are intended to expand these centers' capacity to meet patients' needs. It is estimated that they will collectively be able to serve 800,000 new patients once funds have been used. A detailed map and list of states and health centers that have been awarded funding is available here.


The Senate Finance Committee, chaired by Orrin Hatch (R-UT), will hold a hearing tomorrow, May 10, entitled "Can Evidence Based Practices Improve Outcomes for Vulnerable Individuals and Families." Witnesses include James Lee Sorenson, chairman of the Sorenson Impact Foundation's Board of Directors, Salt Lake City; Tesha Bright, nurse home visitor for the Nurse-Family Partnership, Newark, N.J.; and Robert Doar, current fellow in poverty studies at the American Enterprise Institute. AUCD will be in attendance.                                                        


Learning Disabilities
Tomorrow, the Senate HELP Committee, Chaired by Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), will hold a hearing on "Understanding Dyslexia: The Intersection of Scientific Research & Education."

Civil Rights
On May 4, the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released its fiscal year 2015 annual report highlighting efforts during the last year to protect students' civil rights and increase educational equity nationwide. The report, Delivering Justice, cites examples of OCRs enforcement activities in 2015. Also covered in the report is OCR's work to provide TA to educational institutions, engage with stakeholders, administer the Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC), and develop policy guidance documents on key civil rights topics that include: 1) Providing equitable access to educational resources, 2) responding to bullying of students with disabilities, 3) ensuring effective communication with students with hearing, vision, or speech disabilities, 4) offering single-sex classes or activities consistent with Title IX requirements,  5) addressing the rights of English learners and limited English proficient parents, 6) designating and reviewing the important role of Title IX coordinators, 7) reiterating the applicability of civil rights laws in juvenile justice residential facilities, and 8) clarifying how schools can implement federal health and disease prevention recommendations without discriminating against students.

International Disability Rights

The Southeast Asian nation of Brunei ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) earlier last month, becoming the third country to do so this year. One hundred and sixty-three (163) countries have now ratified the treaty, which the United States still has yet to do.


On April 24, the Department of Justice announced a new Accessible Technology Section that has been added to the ADA.gov Department of Justice website. This addition includes four sections: Enforcement, which helps to ensure that people with disabilities can access web sites, electronic book readers, online courses, and point-of-sale devices; Technical Assistance and Guidance to help covered entities understand their ADA obligations with regard to accessible technology; Regulation Development that broadly protects the rights of individuals with disabilities in employment, access to State and local government services, places of public accommodation, transportation and other important areas of life; and Federal Accessible Technology Resources, which highlights federal regulatory initiatives.

Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All       

In this week's edition of Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All, Liz interviews Chris Rodriguez, Senior Public Policy Advisor at the National Disability Institute, about ABLE resources in different states. In case you missed last week's edition, Liz interviewed Wendy Parent-Johnson, UCEDD Director at the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine, about transitioning to employment.

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For more policy news, follow Kim on Twitter at @kmusheno

For definitions of terms used in In Brief, please see AUCD's Glossary of Legislative Terms 

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