Disability Policy News

August 3, 2020

Disability Policy News logo, every Monday, from the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) Disability Policy News logo, every Monday, from the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD)
                 August 3, 2020   |   Vol. MMXX, Issue 31


This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses. Note the spikes that adorn the outer surface of the virus, which impart the look of a corona surrounding the virion, when viewed electron microscopically.Action Alert: COVID-19 Relief Package 4

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Republican Senators released their initial version of a COVID-19 relief Package 4 last week called the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools (HEALS) Act. Increasing calls by Senate Republicans to view the HEALS Act as a first draft rather than a final version reflect not only strong Democratic opposition, but also conflicting priorities amongst Republican lawmakers and President Trump. Formal bipartisan negotiations have yet to begin, and it is unclear when or even if further legislation will be passed. 

Comparison of topics directly impacting people with disabilities: 


 HEROES Act (H.R.6800)


AUCD Priority

Liability Wavers


Five-year shield from corona-virus related lawsuits under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Title I, unless an entity - like a business, school or government agency - engaged in "gross negligence" or "intentional misconduct."

No liability waivers under ADA and other civil rights legislation.


$90 billion in funding for schools, none tied to IDEA. 

$105 billion in funding for schools, none tied to IDEA.  

$12 billion in funding specifically for IDEA.  

Home- and Community-Based Services (HCBS)

Investment to support wages, services, leave, and related critical needs to support access.


$20 billion in funding for HCBS.

Developmental Disabilities network

$10 million for Developmental Disabilities Act Programs (UCEDDS, P&As, DD Councils).

$10 million for Protection and Advocacy Agencies. 


 $2 million for unspecified Technical Assistance.

$30 million for Developmental Disabilities Act Programs (UCEDDS, P&As, DD Councils).


 $10 billion for nutrition services and increased flexibility to support greater access for people with disabilities.

Requirement for CDC Field Study Pertaining to Health Inequities, including "the impact of disability status on health care access and disease outcomes."

Forms bipartisan Congressional "rescue committees" to recommend plans for shoring up Social Security and Medicare.



Plain Language:

  •  Republicans now have a plan for the next COVID-19 package. It is very different from the plan from the Democrats. Congress and the White House now need to work together to decide which parts of each plan to use for a final package.

What this means to you:

  •  It is very possible that Congress will not spend any money to help people with disabilities and the people who support them. You can call or email Congress to tell them about how COVID-19 has changed your life, for example your housing, services, health, school, or work. Every call and email matters.

Action Steps:

 three dollar bills, black and whiteAppropriations

The House of Representatives passed a six-bill spending package on July 31st, bringing to 10 (of the 12 needed) the number of House-passed annual appropriations measures. The six-bill package included the underlying Defense bill (HR 7617), Commerce-Justice-Science (HR 7667), Energy-Water (HR 7613), Financial Services (HR 7668), Labor-HHS-Education (HR 7614) and Transportation-HUD (HR 7616) funding. It is unclear when the Senate may act. One or more continuing resolutions (CR) are expected. 

Plain Language:

  • Congress is working on next year's budgets for the government. They are deciding how much money to spend on different programs that support education, housing, health, and job training.

Action steps:


 black fist raised upRacial Justice

Senate and House Democratic lawmakers introduced the ‘Counseling not Criminalization in Schools Act’ (S.4360 and H.R.7848) in a continuing effort to eradicate systemic racism in the United States by addressing racial inequalities and policing in K-12 schooling. If passed, the bill would prohibit federal funds from being used for school resource officers (SROs) and make grant money contingent on severing existing ties with local police departments. The proposed grant funds would allow schools to hire additional mental health professionals and provide professional development around safe behavioral management and trauma-informed practices. Proponents of the legislation contend that it would curtail the ‘school to prison pipeline’ that disproportionately affects Black students and other students of color, including those with disabilities. President Trump and Republican opponents argue that SROs are necessary to maintaining school safety. 


Plain Language:

  • Some members of Congress are trying to fight racism. They want to remove police officers from schools and spend money on mental health services instead.

What it means to you:

  • Students with disabilities, and especially students of color with disabilities, are more likely to be referred to school police officers, secluded, and restrained than their peers without disabilities. Research says the difference is not because the students of color and/or with disabilities have worse behavior, but because schools interpret the behavior as worse.

Action Steps:


hand putting ballot in box Voting 2020

“Ordinary people with extraordinary vision can redeem the soul of America by getting in what I call good trouble, necessary trouble. Voting and participating in the democratic process are key. The vote is the most powerful nonviolent change agent you have in a democratic society. You must use it because it is not guaranteed. You can lose it.” – Congressman John Lewis 


Thirty-six (36) of 100 Senate seats are up in 2020 - a mix of standard cycles and special elections. All House of Representatives seats are up, with at least 36 members not seeking reelection. Now is the time to get ready to vote! Here are things to do:  

Plain Language:

  • Make sure you can vote in this year's election and get ready for it.

What it means to you:

  • The power of the disability vote is HUGE and your voice and vote will make an impact.

Action Steps:

judge's gavel, black and white Public Charge

The federal district court in New York issued a temporary injunction against the Department of Homeland Security’s discriminatory public charge rule. This decision stops the rule from being implemented, applied, or enforced nationwide while the national public health emergency declared by the Trump Administration is ongoing.

 Plain Language:

  • The public charge rule cannot be enforced during the COVID-19 public health emergency. Public charge means someone who would depend on the government for support. 
What it means to you:

  • Pausing the rule helps stop confusion and uncertainty in the immigration system.

Action Steps:

logo of AUCD Policy TalkAUCD Policy Talk

You see, having someone in the hospital for Andy isn’t like a regular visitor — he needs someone there to explain health problems in a way he can understand and to make sure his voice is heard when his speech is sometimes difficult to comprehend.” 


Stephanie Meredith, Outreach Director at the University of Kentucky’s Human Development Institute, and Janet Shouse, program coordinator for the IDD Toolkit Project at the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center, share their worries about COVID-19 and healthcare for their sons with disabilities on this week’s #AUCDPolicyTalk. 

Action Steps:

  • Read the blogpost by Stephanie and Janet, “A hospital ‘visitor’ can be a vital part of a healthcare team – and a reasonable accommodation under the ADA.”
  •  Submit a blogpost today! Check our Submission Guidelines and contact [email protected] with any questions. 


Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All Liz Weintraub

Tuesdays With Liz

Racism is a disability issue. AUCD Board President Sachin Pavithran shares with Liz about when he has experienced racism as a blind Indian-American. Watch part 1 of 2 of Liz's interview with Sachin:


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For definitions of terms, please see AUCD's List of Policy Definitions