Monday, November 26, 2018

ADAPT Homecoming

Fall ADAPT Action Denver, Colorado


By Allison Donald

Alan, one of the original "Gang of 19"

National ADAPT went to Denver, Colorado November 11-16 to address issues regarding long term supports and services, the lack of affordable, accessible, integrated housing, the lack of real time transportation options for people with disabilities and asking for Congresswoman Diane DeGette’s continued support of the disability community.

Although there have been increased opportunities for community living many individuals with disabilities remain trapped in nursing facilities or other institutions and other initiatives that stunt the growth of people with disabilities in respect to community living.  The Department of Health and Human Services is the federal agency most directly responsible for ensuring that Disabled Americans who need long term support and services receive them in the most integrated setting.


ADAPT demanded that HHS Secretary Alex Azar acknowledge that Disabled Americans who require long term supports and services have the right to Life and Liberty under the constitution.  If the constitution is to be followed as written then people with disabilities should not be subjected to daily torture that occurs at the Judge Rotenberg Center.


ADAPT marches in downtown Denver
In addition to that ADAPT and NCIL are working together to reestablish the Money Follows Person.  ADAPT wants HHS to utilize the authority to assure that Medicaid rates are sufficient to pay a livable wage to recruit and retain a workforce.Members of National ADAPT went to the Colorado Division of Housing to demand that the Division support an increase in accessible, affordable, integrated housing in Colorado.



“Housing that meets our needs,” said Jackie Mitchell of Atlantis ADAPT, “continues to be one of the primary barriers to people with disabilities transitioning into the Colorado community.”



“Because of the lack of housing for people with disabilities in Memphis,” said Bobbie Fields the nursing home transition coordinator for the Memphis Center for Independent Living, “people are forced to stay in institutions or live on the streets, because shelters will not take people with disabilities either.”



Transportation remains a significant barrier for people with disabilities not only in Colorado, but all over the country.  Even though paratransit is a viable option for people with disabilities it should not be the only option for on demand transportation services.  If ride sharing services such as, Uber and Lyft were to establish requirements that would allow for people with wheelchairs to ride it would undoubtedly result in further integration into our respective communities.


Congressman Diane DiGette
National ADAPT’s final target and most contentious interaction was at the office of Colorado Congresswoman Diane DeGette.  In the past DeGette has supported disability related legislation like the Empower Care Act (HR 5306).


National ADAPT was there to demand Congresswoman DeGette work with ADAPT and CCDC to introduce a bill by February 1, 2019, carving out consumer directed care and family caregivers from the Electronic Visit Verification requirements in the 21st Century Cures Act.

Also, ADAPT wants help stopping the shock at the Judge Rotenburg Center in Massachusetts.  Finally, National ADAPT would like Diane DeGette to be an initial co-sponsor of the Disability Integration Act (HR 2472), and champion the bill so that house Democrats pass this civil rights legislation during the 116th Congress.

If you would like to read more stories about the fall ADAPT action you can visit
http://www.adapt.org
 Also, you can visit
http://www.midsouthadapt.org

Thursday, November 8, 2018

ADAPT looks to pass the Disability Integration Act

A Divided Congress Allows ADAPT to Go on Offense in Fight to Free Our People


ADAPT activist in action
National Disability Rights organization ADAPT, a strictly nonpartisan group of activists, is feeling liberated after yesterday’s midterm elections handed the country a divided Congress. Having spent the past two years fighting the constant threat of Affordable Care Act (ACA) repeal and cuts to Medicaid, ADAPT sees the elections as a chance to fight for the Disability Community’s freedom, rather than its existence. ADAPT, which is widely credited with defeating Republican attempts to repeal the ACA and block grant/cap Medicaid, signaled that they would now be focused on advancing the Disability Integration Act (DIA) to ensure disabled people’s right to live in the community.

“We can finally take a breath after two years of fighting for our lives and actually work for our freedom” said ADAPT organizer Dawn Russell of Colorado. “The threat to Medicaid showed us why DIA was so important, until our right to live in freedom is guaranteed under federal it will continue to be under threat!”

“The divided Congress allows us to work on our issues rather than have to constantly defend ourselves,” said ADAPT organizer Marilee Adamski-Smith of Wisconsin. “Passing DIA means ensuring that the freedom many Americans take for granted is extended to disabled and older Americans as well.”

The legislation would require any insurance company that would pay for nursing facility or institutional placement to also cover long term supports and services in an individual’s home in the community. DIA is bipartisan legislation sponsored in the House by Representative Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and by Minority Leader Schumer (D-NY) in the Senate.

“Ensuring the freedom of any Americans should never be a partisan issue!” said ADAPT organizer Josue Rodrigues of Texas. “While many are busy fighting to put one side or the other in control, we know that progress for the Disability Community has only ever come when Democrats and Republicans have worked together. We saw this with the passage of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and with the American’s with Disabilities Act, and we know it will make DIA a reality as well.”

ADAPT activist in the streetsADAPT has already begun to shift its emphasis to the DIA. “We spent midterms pressuring politicians from both sides to commit their support to DIA and we saw Republicans and Democrats who found success in supporting the bill. Of the 146 people up for reelection that cosponsored DIA, 127 won and are returning to the next Congress. Of the remaining 19, ten did not run for re-election and nine lost their seats.  Even so, four of the newly elected members of Congress have already committed to cosponsoring the bill.” Said ADAPT Organizer Bruce Darling of New York. “It was great to see so many in the Disability Community make the bill a big part of earning the Disability Vote.  We are especially grateful to Disability Action for America for making it a key component required for their endorsement, and to the #CripTheVote community for using their platform to support the bill. The last two years have been exhausting, thanks to all of this support we finally feel as though we can push forward pro-actively.”

ADAPT’s history, the issues we are fighting for, and our activities can be found at www.adapt.org, the National ADAPT Facebook page, and on Twitter under the hashtag #ADAPTandRESIST.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Voters are told not to enlarge the ballot


Shelby County Election Commission fails to adequately accommodate voters


By Christina Clift
(MEMPHIS, Nov. 1) Do you see what I see?  On Wednesday October 17, 2018 early voting began in Shelby County and ends today.  In our county, voters who use screen magnification to cast their vote have run into problems. 

Christina Clift

Tennessee state law requires that the two major parties’ candidates be at the top.  However, if a voter enlarges the print on the Shelby County ballot, candidates running for governor appear in a single column and the major party candidates are not listed at the top. 

Shelby County Election Commission was not aware of this problem before early voting started.  To remedy the problem, voters are told not to enlarge the print ballot and are supposed to be given a hand-held magnifying glass.

“The election Commission should do their job and ensure that the large print ballot works,” said Michael Heinrich. “And not do a half-assed effort in ensuring accessibility during such an important event.” 

For those of you who do not use hand-held magnification devices to read printed documents, they are like buying a pair of shoes.  Each person likes a different style. Some people prefer lighted magnifiers, some like round ones, others like rectangular ones, and some prefer magnifiers with no light.  Our Election Commission is mistaken to believe that providing hand held magnifiers to read the ballot will solve this problem.  

 “It’s like the blind community’s vote didn’t matter,” said Stephanie Jones.  “It discourages the blind from getting out to vote.”

Over the past few months the Memphis Center for Independent Living and other disability organizations reached out to the election Commission to express their willingness to help educate the public about the accessibility features of our voting machines as well as provide training to their staff.  But the Commission did not accept the offer for free assistance and instead may face expensive lawsuits and complaints.  

Now is the time when the average individual can let their voice be heard.  Races that will be decided include the U.S. House of Representatives, US Senate, gubernatorial races, state legislatures, and a slew of local offices.  

Early voting also called pre-poll voting or advance polling is a process by which  voters in a public election can vote prior to the scheduled election day.  

While the problem of the appearance of the ballot for screen magnification users has been identified, the Election Commission has stated that they do not plan to fix it.  So voters are left with only two options: either, use a hand-held magnifier that might or might not help, or do not vote independently and get sighted assistance to help.  

In my opinion, this violates the spirit of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) even if it doesn’t technically violate it.  So please do not let the Election Commission stop you from voting and force them to do the jobs they’re payed to do.  We must hold them accountable not only on November 6, 2018, but by speaking up on this blatant disregard for the needs of blind voters.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Get a Lyft to the polls

Lyft Partners with the National Federation of the Blind of Tennessee To Get Out the Vote

Driver beside his car

By Christina Clift
Election Day is right around the corner! I am excited to announce that the National Federation of the Blind of Tennessee will be participating in helping blind Tennesseans get to the polls on November 6, 2018 to cast their vote in this important election.  This year, we are excited to be partnering with Lyft to make sure people who need it have transportation to their polling place.

In case you are not familiar with Lyft, it is a service that provides rides on demand, similar to taxis but usually cheaper. Lyft vehicles are operated by drivers who wish to make extra money using their own vehicles. Lyft vehicles may therefore not have wheelchair access. Lyft drivers are, however, required to accept riders with guide dogs or service animals.

The National Federation of the Blind of Tennessee has 50-100 Lyft promo codes available for blind Tennesseans who could use this assistance. Each promo code is worth $15. Please only ask for a code if you plan to vote on Election Day and will use the code for that purpose. Please also keep in mind that this offer was developed primarily for people who might otherwise not be able to get to their polling place. 

If you request a code and you don’t already have the Lyft app, you will need to download it on your smartphone or other device. You will find instructions for setting up the app and requesting a ride below.

Please let me know by November 1, 2018 if you would like one of the promo codes. They will be given out on a first-come, first-served basis.  Please send an e-mail to president@nfbtn.org with your request and what barriers make it difficult for you to get to the polls.