Disability Policy News In Brief

June 20, 2016

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June 20, 2016   |   Vol. XV, Issue 77
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Congressional Schedule

Several gun control measures will be voted on today following the mass shooting in Orlando, FL. Senator Christopher S. Murphy (D-CT) held a 14-hour filibuster last week to bring attention to the issue. The House plans to finish work on the Financial Services spending bill. Next week Congress will be in their home states/districts for the Fourth of July recess.

Last week, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) released, "A Better Way: Poverty, Opportunity, and Upward Mobility." Speaker Ryan's plan offers a number of proposals related to early childhood development, education, employment, housing, nutrition programs, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Unemployment Insurance, and related programs. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities applauded Speaker Ryan for bringing attention to the issue of poverty but stated that the plans are too vague and, if tied to Ryan's budget plan approved in March, it would cut programs for low- and moderate-income programs by $3.7 trillion over ten years. The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) is currently reviewing the plan for its impact on people with disabilities.

On Wednesday, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs will hold a hearing entitled, "Renewing Communities and Providing Opportunities Through Innovative Solutions to Poverty." Visit the Committee web site for a list of individuals invited to testify.


The next meeting of the Advisory Committee on Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities (the Committee) will take place on Wednesday, July 20 and Thursday, July 21. The meeting will be open to the public July 20 from 9:30 AM to 4:00 PM EDT and July 21 from 9:00 AM to 12:30 PM EDT. On these days, the Committee will review, discuss, and finalize the latest draft of the final report. The Committee will also hear from a panel of experts regarding the most recent developments in increasing competitive integrated employment at the state level. In addition, a representative of the Department will thank the Committee members for their work. Public comments must be submitted by July 8, 2016. Read the Federal Register Notice.


On June 1, the ABLE National Resource Center held an informational webinar to educate people with disabilities and families about how to prepare to open an ABLE Account. To be eligible to open an account, an individual must have a disability that occurred before the age of 26 (the webinar explains in detail). The first two states to offer ABLE accounts to residents are Ohio and Tennessee. View the webinar archive on YouTube.

HCBS State Plans

On Thursday, June 2, CMS granted initial approval to the Kentucky and Ohio State Transition Plans. This approval notifies the states that public comment, input and summary requirements are met, the STP is sufficient, but systemic and/or site-specific assessments are not yet completed. Additionally, the approval letters strongly discouraged reliance on reverse integration. No other states have received any formal initial approval from CMS. 


The Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights released new data showing persistent disparities in our Nation's public schools between minority and non-minority students. Gaps still remain for students of color and those with disabilities especially regarding incidents of discipline, restraint and seclusion, access to courses and programs that lead to college and career readiness, teacher equity, rates of retention, and access to early learning. Notable findings for students with disabilities in grades K-12 include disproportionate rates of suspension and restraint or seclusion.  Eleven percent of students with disabilities served by IDEA, which represent 12% of all students, are more than twice as likely to receive one or more out-of-school suspensions as compared to students without disabilities, and 67% of these students are subjected to restraint or seclusion. Read OCR's press release here. 

Health Care

On June 16, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that it will award $156 million in Oral Health Awards to 420 health centers across 47 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. The awards will fund oral health services at the centers in question, which will hire approximately 1,600 new dentists, dental hygienists, assistants, aides and technicians. The HHS Department estimates that this expansion of staff will enable health centers to treat nearly 785,000 new patients. A list of centers that have received funding can be found here. 

The annual UN Conference of States Parties on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) was held in New York from June 14-16. The conference provided an opportunity for international human rights lawyers, disability rights advocates and diplomats from more than 100 countries to meet and discuss the implementation of CRPD around the world, and how accessibility and inclusion can be achieved for all individuals with disabilities. While diplomats attended sessions to discuss what governments can do to implement CRPD more successfully and elect new members to a UN committee that reviews countries' compliance with the treaty, civil society organizations (CSOs) from around the world took part in a general forum and side events where best practices and models for success were shared and debated. AUCD was represented at the conference by a staff member this year, and hopes to organize a side event on the role of universities in advancing the rights of individuals with disabilities through CRPD at a future conference.

AUCD's Associate Director Michael Gamel-McCormick is currently at the 8th International Disability Law Summer School in Galway, Ireland, an extended event that helps advocates understand and legally apply the international disability rights treaty, the CRPD. During a panel event at the Summer School, Senator Harkin, Ms. Heumann, Special Advisor for International Disability Rights and John Wodatch, former chief of the Disability Rights Section at the Department of Justice, spoke about their experiences with the ADA and CRPD, as well as their thoughts on designing and implementing disability-related laws.

The United States of Women Summit

Liz Weintraub, AUCD advocacy specialist, represented AUCD at an historic national forum on Women and Girls on June 14, sponsored by the White House Council on Women and Girls, together with the Department of State, the Department of Labor, the Aspen Institute and Civic Nation. AUCD also sponsored one of its members from the Virgin Islands UCEDD, Karabo Molyneaux-Molloy, to travel to Washington DC, to participate in the summit. Liz spoke on a panel with leaders from different communities about how women with disabilities are impacted by violence.  Liz spoke eloquently about  how she faces discrimination as a woman who is also Jewish and has disabilities.  The entire recording of the day is available here (Liz's panel begins at 4:08 and she began to speak at 5:08). Liz spoke about the nexus between disabilities and violence, the fear of being treated unfairly by the criminal justice system, and the right to be free from harm as articulated in the UN Disability Treaty, the CRPD.

Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All                   

In this week's edition of Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All, Liz Weintraub interviewed Jennifer Longdon,  is a person with a disability as a result of gun violence.  They spoke about her experience following the gun violence and how she became a disability advocate. In case you missed last week's edition, Liz interviewed John Sorenson, Project Officer for the Money Follows the Person program and a housing specialist at CMS. They spoke about the challenges being a father with a disability in honor of Father's Day (June 19). 

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


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