Friday, December 19, 2014

More Accessible Housing in Memphis?

More than 5% Accessible Housing Units.  Information Bulletin #396 (12/2014)

By Steve Gold

Steve Gold
Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, recipients of "federal financial assistance" were prohibited from discriminating.  It took nearly 15 years for HUD to finally promulgate what nondiscrimination meant in the housing arena.  Then in 1988, HUD's federal regulations set a floor - 5% of federally funded housing had to be mobility accessible for people with mobility disabilities (and another 1% for hearing and visual disabilities).

For a number of years, the disability community could not enforce the 5% minimum, even though we believed it was grossly too low and inadequate.  Even with the 1990 and 2000 census, we did not have a handle to push higher than 5%.

Now, with the 2010 census we can.  The primary federal financial assistance housing programs that the 2010 census impacts are the HOME Investment Partnership, Project Based Housing Vouchers, and Public Housing.

HUD's federal regulation 24 CFR ? 8.22 (c ) states that HUD "may prescribe a high percentage ... upon request ... based upon demonstration ... based on census data...."

Disability Advocates - here's a suggested battle plan.  First, you must use the Census's "American Fact Finder" and determine for your county the percentage of persons "with an ambulatory difficulty" whose incomes are under the poverty levels. It is critical to remember that this data does NOT include persons institutionalized in nursing homes. Second, you must contact your local HUD FHEO office and request at the least that prospectively HUD enforce the increased percentages.

To wet your interest, here are some preliminary results:  Philadelphia, PA, 13.2%; Washington county, PA.15.3%, Chicago, Ill, 9.4%;  Baltimore, 13.8%; Orleans Parish, New Orleans, 10.65%;  El Paso, TX 9.8%;  Lafayette Parish in Louisiana, 9.46%.

No more excuses!  The data is now available.  It's up to you, the advocates, to make it happen.

Steve Gold, The Disability Odyssey continues

Back issues of other Information Bulletins posted after 10/2013 can be found only at Information Bulletins before 10/2013 are available online at with a searchable Archive at this site divided into different subjects.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Congress Passes ABLE Act

How it Effects Persons with Disabilities and Their Families

People with disabilities in the Memphis community
(Washington, D.C. – Dec. 17, 2014) – Last night, the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly passed the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act of 2014 by a vote of 76 to 16. First introduced in 2006, and subsequent sessions of Congress, the ABLE Act will allow people with disabilities (with an age of onset up to 26 years old) and their families the opportunity to create a tax-exempt savings account that can be used for maintaining health, independence and quality of life.

“Today marks a new day in our country’s understanding and support of people with disabilities and their families,” Michael Morris, National Disability Institute (NDI) Executive Director, said. “A major victory for the disability community, ABLE, for the very first time in our country’s policy on disability, recognizes that there are added costs to living with a disability.” He continued. “For far too long, federally imposed asset limits to remain eligible for critical public benefits have served as a roadblock toward greater financial independence for the millions of individuals living with a disability.”

NDI has long championed the ABLE Act as a critical strategy to providing a pathway to a better economic future for all people with disabilities. As the nation’s first nonprofit dedicated to improving the financial health and future of all people with disabilities, the organization has extensively documented and called attention to the daily reality and extra expenses associated with living with a disability, and the challenges of navigating the complex web of government rules to maintain public benefits eligibility.

In recognition of this unprecedented legislation, NDI has created a list of 10 items about ABLE accounts that individuals with disabilities and their families should know:

1.     What is an ABLE account?

ABLE Accounts, which are tax-advantaged savings accounts for individuals with disabilities and their families, will be created as a result of the passage of the ABLE Act of 2014. Income earned by the accounts would not be taxed. Contributions to the account made by any person (the account beneficiary, family and friends) would not be tax deductible.  

2.     Why the need for ABLE accounts?

Millions of individuals with disabilities and their families depend on a wide variety of public benefits for income, health care and food and housing assistance. Eligibility for these public benefits (SSI, SNAP, Medicaid) require meeting a means or resource test that limits eligibility to individuals to report more than $2,000 in cash savings, retirement funds and other items of significant value. To remain eligible for these public benefits, an individual must remain poor. For the first time in public policy, the ABLE Act recognizes the extra and significant costs of living with a disability. These include costs, related to raising a child with significant disabilities or a working age adult with disabilities, for accessible housing and transportation, personal assistance services, assistive technology and health care not covered by insurance, Medicaid or Medicare. 

For the first time, eligible individuals and families will be allowed to establish ABLE savings accounts that will not affect their eligibility for SSI, Medicaid and other public benefits. The legislation explains further that an ABLE account will, with private savings, “secure funding for disability-related expenses on behalf of designated beneficiaries with disabilities that will supplement, but not supplant, benefits provided through private insurance, Medicaid, SSI, the beneficiary’s employment and other sources.”  

3.     Am I eligible for an ABLE account?

Passage of legislation is a result of a series of compromises. The final version of the ABLE Act limits eligibility to individuals with significant disabilities with an age of onset of disability before turning 26 years of age. If you meet this criteria and are also receiving benefits already under SSI and/or SSDI, you are automatically eligible to establish an ABLE account. If you are not a recipient of SSI and/or SSDI, but still meet the age of onset disability requirement, you would still be eligible to open an ABLE account if you meet SSI criteria regarding significant functional limitations. The regulations to be written in 2015 by the Treasury Department will have to explain further the standard of proof and required medical documentation. You need not be under the age of 26 to be eligible for an ABLE account. You could be over the age of 26, but must have the documentation of disability that indicates age of onset before the age of 26.

4.     Are there limits to how much money can be put in an ABLE account?

The total annual contributions by all participating individuals, including family and friends, is $14,000. The amount will be adjusted annually for inflation. Under current tax law, $14,000 is the maximum amount that individuals can make as a gift to someone else and not pay taxes (gift tax exclusion). The total limit over time that could be made to an ABLE account will be subject to the individual state and their limit for education-related 529 savings accounts. Many states have set this limit at more than $300,000 per plan. However, for individuals with disabilities who are recipients of SSI and Medicaid, the ABLE Act sets some further limitations. The first $100,000 in ABLE accounts would be exempted from the SSI $2,000 individual resource limit. If and when an ABLE account exceeds $100,000, the beneficiary would be suspended from eligibility for SSI benefits and no longer receive that monthly income. However, the beneficiary would continue to be eligible for Medicaid. States would be able to recoup some expenses through Medicaid upon the death of the beneficiary.

5.     Which expenses are allowed by ABLE accounts?

A “qualified disability expense” means any expense related to the designated beneficiary as a result of living a life with disabilities. These include education, housing, transportation, employment training and support, assistive technology, personal support services, health care expenses, financial management and administrative services and other expenses which will be further described in regulations to be developed in 2015 by the Treasury Department.

6.     Where do I go to open an ABLE account?

Each state is responsible for establishing and operating an ABLE program. If a state should choose not to establish its own program, the state may choose to contract with another state to still offer its eligible individuals with significant disabilities the opportunity to open an ABLE account.

After President Obama signs the ABLE Act, the Secretary of the Department of Treasury will begin to develop regulations that will guide the states in terms of a) the information required to be presented to open an ABLE account; b) the documentation needed to meet the requirements of ABLE account eligibility for a person with a disability; and c) the definition details of “qualified disability expenses” and the documentation that will be needed for tax reporting.

No accounts can be established until the regulations are finalized following a public comment period on proposed rules for program implementation. States will begin to accept applications to establish ABLE accounts before the end of 2015.  

7.     Can I have more than one ABLE account?

No. The ABLE Act limits the opportunity to one ABLE account per eligible individual.

8.     Will states offer options to invest the savings contributed to an ABLE account?

Like state 529 college savings plans, states are likely to offer qualified individuals and families multiple options to establish ABLE accounts with varied investment strategies. Each individual and family will need to project possible future needs and costs over time, and to assess their risk tolerance for possible future investment strategies to grow their savings. Account contributors or designated beneficiaries are limited, by the ABLE Act, to change the way their money is invested in the account up to two times per year.

9.     How many eligible individuals and families might benefit from establishing an ABLE account?

There are 58 million individuals with disabilities in the United States. To meet the definition of significant disability required by the legislation to be eligible to establish an ABLE account, the conservative number would be approximately 10 percent of the larger group, or 5.8 million individuals and families. Further analysis is needed to understand more fully the size of this market and more about their needs for new savings and investment products.

10.   How is an ABLE account different than a special needs or pooled trust?

An ABLE Account will provide more choice and control for the beneficiary and family. Cost of establishing an account will be considerably less than either a Special Needs Trust (SNT) or Pooled Income Trust. With an ABLE account, account owners will have the ability to control their funds and, if circumstances change, still have other options available to them.  Determining which option is the most appropriate will depend upon individual circumstances. For many families, the ABLE account will be a significant and viable option in addition to, rather than instead of, a Trust program.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Tennessee Governor to Expand Medicaid

Gov. Haslam introduces "Insure Tennessee"

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has just announced a new pilot Medicaid Expansion plan to “close the gap.” Tennessee had not expanded Medicaid with the creation of the Affordable Care Act and has been ignoring millions of dollars of federal money to close the gap from traditional Medicaid and the new health care subsidies.
Today the governor announced a two-year plan called Insure Tennessee that will cover tens of thousands of citizens that currently do not have health insurance.
The governor called the plan an alternative approach and is a “unique Tennessee solution.”
The Tennessean reported that the major principles of the governors plan were: A fiscally sound and sustainable program; Providing two new private market choices for Tennesseans; Shifting the delivery model and payment of health care in Tennessee from fee-for-service to outcome-based; Incentivizing Tennesseans to be more engaged and to take more personal responsibility in their health and preparing participants for eventual transition to commercial health coverage.
The pilot program will provide Tennesseans 21 to 64 years old a choice of the Healthy Incentives Plan or the Volunteer Plan. The Volunteer Plan is to provide a health insurance voucher to participants that would be used to participate in their employer's health insurance plan. The voucher, valued at slightly less than the average TennCare per-enrollee cost, can be used to pay for premiums and other out-of-pocket expenses associated with participation in an individual's employer sponsored private market plan. People who choose the Healthy Incentives Plan may receive coverage through the TennCare program.
Under the federal Affordable Care Act, states can expand the income and eligibility requirements on their Medicaid programs to help cover individuals in the gap between Medicaid and health care plans. The federal government pays the initial cost and will share the cost with states in about 2020, with the states only paying ten percent.

The criteria are set by federal poverty guidelines, allowing people who earn up to 138 percent of federal poverty guidelines to qualify. That's $16,104 for a single person and $32,913 for a family of four.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Inaccessible Business in Memphis

Memphis ADAPT reminds The Wharton Firm that “Access Is a Civil Right.”

Memphis ADAPT protest at the Wharton Firm
Memphis ADAPT a grassroots, direct action, disability rights organization marched down Madison Ave. today at 11:30 am to The Wharton Law Firm, 1575 Madison, to remind them of their obligation to include people with disabilities. The Wharton Law office has a single public entrance that is up three steps.

“We are tired of being treated as second-class citizens,” said Deborah Cunningham, the Executive Director of the Memphis Center for Independent Living. “After twenty-four years, it just doesn't make sense that attorneys are unaware of the law or cannot afford equal access.”

The Memphis Center for Independent Living filed a federal complaint on the twenty-fourth anniversary of the ADA. Memphis ADAPT delivered the message to the Wharton office that the community of people with disabilities expects the firm to respect the civil rights of people with disabilities.

"An agent of the firm appeared at the door," said one ADAPT member who at the protest; "but they seemed unconcerned with our communities civil rights and ignorant of the firms accessibility responsibilities."

The Memphis ADAPT members returned to the Memphis Center for Independent Living and had lunch together. The march and protest had accomplished its goal of delivering the message to The Wharton Firm that people with disabilities expect equal access.
Memphis ADAPT protest at the Wharton Firm

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Tell your ADA Story

ADAPT marches to the Arkansas state capitol

Let the world know how the ADA has changed your life

Next year will mark the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. As newsrooms gear up to cover this issue, the Public Insight Network (PIN) wants to know what it's like now to live with a disability.

Have you seen things change since the ADA became law? Do you or someone you know still face discrimination because of a disability?

The Public Insight Network is looking for personal stories about the ADA. You may share your experience to help shape how PIN covers this issue. PIN will not publish your response without your permission. A journalist from the Public Insight Network or a PIN partner newsroom may follow up with you for help with reporting.

Link to the Public Insight Network form.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Governor Haslam, close the gap

The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that there are about 142,000 Tennesseans in the Medicaid Coverage Gap. The Tennessee Healthcare Campaign finds that our state is turning away $2.6 million every day in federal funds for healthcare. That total is now over $800,000.00 that Gov. Haslam has ignored. Governor Haslam, close the gap.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Accessible Sidewalks

MCIL wants to help build accessible walkways and curb-ramps in Memphis

By Tim Wheat
Fire plug blocking the curb-ramp in Memphis
There are many things that go into making and planning for accessible routes around the city of Memphis but the bottom line is: can you get to where you are going? The Memphis Center for Independent Living wants to look into all those issues, but we really want to know what barriers you find in your way.

Inaccessible businesses are one issue that MCIL is working on, but in this format we are asking you to help us identify the problems with sidewalks and curb-ramps. A curb-ramp, also commonly called a curb-cut, are typically at intersections and make it possible for someone using a wheelchair to cross the road like everyone else. 

We have found that many curbs in the city have no curb-ramp at all, so people using mobility devices cannot cross the street. There are other issues that people have identified, like utility poles in the middle of the walkway so that it blocks a wheelchair user. There are also broken sidewalks and curb-ramps that are not maintained that make it impossible to use.

What ever the issue, we are looking for some help from our community to locate where the barriers are. If you cannot use the walkways like other Memphis citizens can, that is a barrier that we would like to hear about. 

The Memphis Center for Independent Living has created a short online form to fill out to tell us about a barrier. We don't ask for your name or any other information than time, location and what the barrier is. You may also tell how the obstruction made you feel and how it impacts people with disabilities. If you would like to send a photo of the barrier you can email it to:

Link to the online form:

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Annual Holiday Open House and Fundraiser

Memphis Center for Independent Living


Friday, December 5, 2014

1633 Madison Ave. 
4pm till 8 pm
Live music, Food, Fun, Fundraising 
Silent Auction

Bid tickets $10.00 
available now or at door
Adult beverages suggested donation
Cash or Credit card only please
2014 auction donors include so far: Outback, Molly’s LaCasita, Huey’s, Gold Strike Casino, Chase Rewards (Kindle Fire HDX and 24” HDTV), Friends (Baskets and lots more)!

For list of auction items or other information:
Call 726-6404 or email:

Food by the Peabody

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Vote Today!

Voting Information
1. Find My Poll
The Pew Voting Information Project, Google, and the Internet Association have collaborated to help voters find their polling place with www.gettothepolls.comEnter your address to find your polling place and get directions.
2. Voting in My State
Nonprofit VOTE delivers official information directly from your state election website in its 50 State Voter Information Tool. Select your state to:
Tim Wheat at his local polling site on Election Day.
  • Check your registration
  • Learn about voter ID
  • Learn about voting as an ex-offender
  • Contact your local election office with additional questions
3. National Voter Hotlines
These national hotlines are live and ready to help people vote. Voters can also use them to report a problem or get legal assistance voting.
  • Call 1-866-OUR-VOTE (687-8683) for assistance in English. 
  • Call 1-888-VE-Y-VOTA (839-8682) for assistance in Spanish.
  • Call 1-888-API-VOTE (274-8683) for assistance in Cantonese, Mandarin, Korean, Vietnamese, and Bengali. 
  • Call your state's voter hotline.
4. What's On My Ballot?
For the first time, Google answers this question--in detail. Ask Google "What's on my ballot?" Enter an address, zip code, or state to view a list of candidates and statewide measures that will appear on the ballot. 
Or get a personalized ballot from the League of Women Voters' Vote411 tool.
*For addition Election Day resources and tools, see Nonprofit VOTE's complete Election Day Toolbox.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Get Covered Memphis!

Open Enrollment begins November 15 

By Tim Wheat
Get Covered Memphis met in the Memphis Mayor’s Conference Room today to plan how to help people in Memphis to get health insurance coverage during the upcoming open enrollment, November 15 through February 15. More than twenty people from local organizations collaborated to make the enrollment period effective.
People sitting around a table in the Mayor's office

Bobbie White of the Mayor’s office welcomed the crowd and challenged each to make the enrollment period a success. Ellen Eubank of Seedco, a national nonprofit organization that advances economic opportunity for people, businesses and communities in need, laid out an ambitious schedule for November and December of Open Enrollment Events around the Memphis area.

“We are getting new dates and locations almost every day,” said Ms. Eubank about the enrollment events. “We are looking for volunteers and we are building a schedule for January and February of next year.”

With the new healthcare law more people will be eligible for coverage and healthcare subsidies. But because Tennessee has chosen not to expand Medicaid, many people still will have no coverage. At each enrollment event there are still a significant number of Tennessee citizens that fall into the gap and will get no healthcare benefit.

Jacob Flowers of Enroll America noted that many places will provide “dropboxes” where people who are interested in enrollment may fill-out a short card to have a enrollment navigator schedule time to assist with the enrollment process and paperwork.

People who have attempted to apply for Medicaid in Tennessee, also called TennCare, should have a determination in 45 days. Anyone that has waited 45 days or longer should immediately contact the Tennessee Justice Center on their website:

The kick-off for the Open Enrollment will be Saturday, November 15, from 9:am to 1:pm at the First Baptist Church 2835 Broad Ave. There will be many events to follow, but plan to be involved as a volunteer or to sign-up for coverage.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Communication Tips

For talking to people with disabilities

  1. Speak directly to a person with a disability, not through his or her companion. This applies whether the person has a physical disability, mental disability or is blind or deaf and uses an interpreter.

  1. Always offer to shake hands. Extend common courtesies to people with disabilities, as you would to anyone else. Shake hands and/or give them your business card. If the person cannot shake your hand or grasp your card, they will tell you. However, do make the attempt, it shows respect.

  1. Always identify yourself and others with you when speaking to someone who is blind. Make sure to say good bye or let them know you are leaving when speaking to someone who is blind.

  1. If you offer assistance to a person with a disability, wait until your offer is accepted before you help and let them instruct you on how to help them.

  1. Treat adults as adults. Do not patronize or treat people with disabilities as children. Presume Competence!

  1. Do not lean against or hang on a person's wheelchair. My wheelchair is not a wall or coffee table to be used as a footrest or perch!

  1. Listen attentively and let the person with the disability finish before you speak. If the person has a speech impairment and you are having trouble understanding what he or she is saying, ask the person to repeat rather than pretend you understand.

  1. Place yourself at eye level when speaking with someone using a, wheelchair. Grab a chair or kneel, it really makes communication easier!

  1. Tap a person who is deaf on the shoulder or wave your hand to get their attention, do not put your hand in front of your mouth when speaking.

  1. Relax; don't be embarrassed if you use common language that could relate to disability. I don't roll to work, I walk and my friend who is blind doesn't feel a document but will read it!

Respect NOT Political Correctness; the Platinum Rule says Treat others the way They want to be treated.

From The Ten Commandments Video. Produced by Irene M. Ward & Associates

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Disability the new welfare?

Update on the NPR article of disability benefits

By Tim Wheat
Over a year ago Planet Money and NPR ran a story about Disability Benefits in the United States.  I know that a lot of people in the disability community had been following the article because it is a unique perspective on disability and thought it would have an impact on our community. The author, Chana Joffe-Walt, is on the Planet Money team at NPR and wrote about the program from its economic impact rather than exclusively as a social-service program. 

The article does not seem to have sent large vibrations through the disability community and advocates for people with disabilities seem unaware or unconvinced about her conclusion that disability is replacing welfare. That generally welfare to work has seen a decrease in the number of American families on welfare, but in that same time, individuals of working age have replaced welfare programs with Social Security Disability.  
Chart of the percentage of population on worker's disability

“Somewhere around 30 years ago, the economy started changing in some fundamental ways,” reported Chana Joffe-Walt in the piece. “There are now millions of Americans who do not have the skills or education to make it in this country.”

The title on the web is “Unfit for Work: The startling rise of disability in America.” That name seems to leave out all the people with disabilities that are working now and the many programs that help to move people with disabilities out of institutions and backrooms into the community and the workforce. Much of the narrative was about people that used disability as a method of not working, and it gave me the impression that the Social Security Disability Insurance program is loaded with fraud. Of course, I have not examined SSDI from the author’s perspective and it brought out some very clear problems that CPWD and our consumers should pay close attention to.

First, Chana Joffe-Walt calls the application and appeal system of the Social Security system the Disability-Industrial complex. The “industrial” part of her analogy are “disability lawyers;” like Bender and Bender, who are paid out of the “lump-sum” settlement payment. A Center for Independent Living providing the same service gets nothing. It should be clear to our community that IL Centers work with people with disabilities to accomplish inclusive community goals and employment; and it should be clear to CPWD that assisting with the SSDI application is not our job.

For a Center for Independent Living, the job seems to be clear. Since the American’s with Disability Act in 1990 the employment rate for people with disabilities has remained basically unchanged. Despite people with disabilities wanting to work and the ADA providing reasonable accommodations, the overall numbers have not changed in the past 23 years. The article made me think that too often people see disability as a way out of the workforce; Center’s for Independent Living need to change that impression.

The author’s point about federal disability replacing welfare was interesting. Clearly Welfare and Disability are not the same, but she makes a very good case that the many people leaving Welfare are turning to SSDI. This again seems to a type of fraud in the system that is not as clear on a personal basis. Each individual has to make a case that they cannot work because of a disability which is not the same as Welfare.
Charts showing the decline of people on welfare and rise of people on disability

To make the fraud more evident, Chana Joffe-Walt shows the motive states have to move people off of Welfare, which is paid for mostly by individual US states, onto SSDI paid for by the federal Social Security Administration. States save money by hiring people to move citizens from Welfare to Disability and the overall numbers that the author gives seems to show that trend. In 1993 there were about 5 million Americans on Welfare and under 4.5 million on Disability. In 2011 Welfare had fallen to under 2 million, while people receiving disability payments expanded to over 6.5 million. It is not clear how many people went from Welfare to work and how many went from Welfare to Disability.

I highly recommend this article to everyone because I found it to be such a new perspective and valuable insight into the federal programs. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

The End of the R-Word

The Federal Register will replace the r-word with "intellectual disability."

By Tim Wheat
Beginning in 2010, especially among young people, the momentum to get rid of the label “retarded” strengthened with boycotts, video and ads. August 1, 2013 saw a new milestone in the effort to update our language as the Federal Register announced that it would replace the term “mental retardation” with “intellectual disability.”

The announcement on the Federal Register website explains about the change and will cause a reverberation in the language people use about people with disabilities. The Federal Register calls itself the daily journal of the United States Government. Many people felt uneasy about the terminology used to describe individuals with intellectual disabilities because the labels sounded insulting and outdated. The Federal Register also explained the reason for the change:

The term “intellectual disability” is gradually replacing the term “mental retardation” nationwide. Advocates for individuals with intellectual disability have rightfully asserted that the term “mental retardation” has negative connotations, has become offensive to many people, and often results in misunderstandings about the nature of the disorder and those who have it.

The Federal Register also notes that this change in terminology has been made already by other major parts of government and in legislation.

In October 2010, Congress passed Rosa's Law, which changed references to “mental retardation” in specified Federal laws to “intellectual disability,” and references to “a mentally retarded individual” to “an individual with an intellectual disability.” [2] Rosa's Law also required the Federal agencies that administer the affected laws to make conforming amendments to their regulations. Rosa's Law did not specifically include titles II and XVI of the Act within its scope, and therefore, did not require any changes in our existing regulations. However, consistent with the concerns expressed by Congress when it enacted Rosa's Law, and in response to numerous inquiries from advocate organizations, we are revising our rules to use the term “intellectual disability” in the name of our current listings and in our other regulations. In so doing, we join other agencies that responded to the spirit of the law, even though Rosa's Law did not require them to change their terminology.

This is not the end of the r-word in common use, but it is a helpful step to people that work to be inclusive and welcoming in our country. It is helpful to know how to correctly and appropriately address others in your community. Please update your lexicon.

Read more about the change on the Federal Register website:

Thursday, October 16, 2014

People with disabilities face more violent crime

USDOJ Report shows people with disabilities nearly three times more likely to encounter violent crime.

By Tim Wheat
Woman in handcuffs
This year the US Department of Justice has released overall crime statistics for the nation that show Individuals with disabilities encountered violent crime at greater rate than those in the general population. For persons ages 12 to 15, the rate of violent victimization was nearly three times higher for persons with disabilities (123 per 1,000) than for persons without disabilities (43 per 1,000) and for persons with disabilities ages 25 to 34 the rate for violent victimization increased from 54 per 1,000 in 2011 to 83 per 1,000 in 2012.

By type of disability, cognitive and vision rank as the highest incident of violent victimization. 

Findings from the USDOJ Report:
Persons with cognitive disabilities had the highest unadjusted rate of violent victimization from 2009 to 2012 (63.3 per 1000).
The unadjusted rate of simple assault against persons with cognitive disabilities increased from 27 per 1,000 in 2011 to 40 per 1,000 in 2012.
Among persons with cognitive disabilities, the rate of serious violent crime doubled across the study period from 12 per 1,000 in 2009 to 24 per 1,000 in 2012.
No statistically significant difference was found in the 2009 and 2012 rates of violent victimization against persons with hearing or vision disabilities.
No statistically significant difference was found in the 2012 rates of violent victimization against persons with hearing (20 per 1,000) and vision (25 per 1,000) disabilities.
The rate of serious violent victimization against persons with self-care disabilities nearly tripled from 2009 (4 per 1,000) to 2012 (11 per 1,000).
State troopers
It is interesting to note that these numbers include only “noninstitutionalized” persons. I looked briefly for information on people in institutions but I have not been successful in locating statistics on that population yet. Expect that topic in a future blog report.

Please examine the report for yourself at:  

Monday, October 13, 2014

Sen. Harkin to retire

Iowa Legislator says the system is backward, rather than Medicaid Waivers for Home and Community Services; people should get services at home and in the community first.

By Tim Wheat
Sen. Tom Harkin
This past May, Sen. Harkin received a sincere farewell from ADAPT activists in Washington DC, because he retires from the US Senate at the end of this term; but the Senator stated directly that he was not retiring from the fight for disability rights. 

At the Spring ADAPT Action Bob Kafka introduced Tom Harkin with a brief history of the many issues that had brought ADAPT and Sen. Harkin together. Kafka said that Sen. Harkin was responsible for hundreds of ADAPT members being arrested and in return the Senator had worked to pass critical legislation that has been central to disability equality in the US.

"You have been thanking me, but that is not right. I am proud and feel privileged to be part of your group," said Sen. Harkin; "proud and privileged to have had a part to play. You are the ones that need to be thanked. You are always vigilant, resolute. No matter if it is a Democrat or Republican. If there are policies or laws or regulations that are somehow, someplace are making any one person with a disability take a backseat; you are out there. You are out there and you know what? You make us feel our consciences."

As Sen. Harkin finishes his time in Washington, he will be working to get the Convention on the rights of People with Disabilities to be ratified by the US Senate. The Convention know also as the “disability treaty” is modeled after the Americans with Disabilities Act but has always come up short of Senate ratification since President Obama signed it in 2009. 

Harkin has been a great supporter of the disability community and is most known for introducing the Americans with Disabilities Act to the Senate and using American Sign Language in a Senate speech in support of the ADA. He is also responsible for Money Follows the Person and much of the Community Choice Act making its way into US policy. 
Sen Harkin speaks at the ADAPT rally in Washington DC