Friday, December 25, 2015

New tools for transportation

By Christina Clift, MCIL Independent Living Team

Christina Clift
As a person with a disability that prevents me from driving, legally that is, I think that it is very important to keep my transportation toolbox well stocked with a variety of tools.  Of course, it contains typical tools like friends and family, public transportation, my own two feet, and cabs.  However, over the last six months I’ve added two new tools to my transportation toolbox. 

At first I was somewhat skeptical on how they would work, but they’ve turned out to be one of the best things I’ve ever added.  Uber and Lyft are my two new transportation tools.  While they are not accessible to every person with a disability, they help provide independence in getting places for me.  I can only hope that they will become accessible to all. 

Uber and Lyft provide transportation to individuals on demand.  You don’t have to give them a three day advanced notice.  You don’t have to even give them an hour notice.  You just open the app that you have downloaded to your smart phone and request a ride.  Unlike MATAplus, you get a real time feedback on your driver’s estimated time of arrival that is 95 percent accurate.  This is done through utilizing the GPS (global positioning service) in both the rider’s and driver’s phone. 

Many people might think that this type of transportation

Person on a sidewalk with a gide dog
service is not safe, but so far it has been for me. By doing background checks on the drivers, ensuring that the vehicles are in good repair, and providing the photo of the car, driver, and license plate, is a good start.  The rider also rates the driver anonymously once the trip is over.  Rating your driver three stars or less, you are not matched up with that driver again.  The same rule applies for the drivers rating riders. 

Finally, since no cash is exchanged for payment and instead is done through the app and whatever credit card you designate, ensures another layer of safety.  If you’d like help in getting started with Lyft or Uber, I can send you a link for a free ride.  Feel free to contact me at (901) 726-6404 or

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Peer Support at MCIL

MCIL puts peer support and information on the road.

By Janice Craven, MCIL Independent Living Team

Janice Craven
Since coming to MCIL full-time in February 2014, I have had the opportunity to be involved in 2 very exciting projects. Previously, I was the Assistant Director of a Pre-School for 16 years, so working at MCIL was a new and exciting challenge for me.

The Peer-To-Peer Mentoring Project is funded by TennCare as part of the federal Money Follows the Person program.  The purpose of Peer-To-Peer is to Transition CHOICES Members out of Nursing Facilities and into the Community. Peer mentors, who also have a disability, work with the members pre- and post-transition to assist them in learning or brushing up on “survival skills” they will need to live in their own home.

Members are required to complete the CHOICES training and may also choose to learn more about Budgeting Your Money, Housing 101, Organizing and Prioritizing Your Life, Managing Your Supports, How To Be Your Own Best Advocate and Stress Management. In keeping with Independent Living philosophy of “nothing about us without us,” peer mentors are trained to be a trustworthy friend to walk the path to Independence alongside the Member.

Members are expected to actively participate in making decisions about how they want to live and work with the Mentor to make their dream of living independently come true!

In September 2014, MCIL ON THE ROAD began what we thought was going to be rather daunting task of doing outreach into the under-served areas of Millington and Tipton County. There are many people in these areas who have a wide range of disabilities but minimal resources available to meet their needs. There is little or no knowledge of the few supports in place and often no transportation available to use the services.

The time I have spent “on the road” has flown by and no doubt there is much work yet to be done. In the coming months, MCIL will continue to work toward helping the residents in these close-knit, often forgotten areas to acquire and develop the skills needed to live where and how they wish. MCIL ON THE ROAD has been met with great enthusiasm and support from many organizations in Millington and Tipton County.  We look forward to establishing more relationships with those who share our dream of inclusion in all aspects of Community Life for people who have any type of disability.

I recently attended a meeting with others who work primarily with people who have a disability. At the conclusion, the facilitator stated that what we are doing if not a JOB but rather a CALLING. I can honestly say this is how I’ve felt from the first day I had the privilege of becoming a member of the MCIL team.

The Road to Freedom Bus

Monday, December 21, 2015

Beautiful Struggle

By Allison Donald, MCIL Independent Living Team

Allison Donald
May I borrow a few minutes of your time, I have a few questions that need to be answered?  How does it feel to go into the grocery store and have people stare at you?  How does it feel when you are in a restaurant and the waiter asks the person that you are with what you would like to order? Or, when a complete stranger walks up to you and asks what is wrong with you?  I’ll wait, for so many people with disabilities these occurrences and questions are a part of OUR daily reality.  How do we begin to answer these questions in a manner that makes those who are not disabled comfortable with who we and the way we choose to live our lives? 

I have NO CLUE. There is not a manual that teaches you how to navigate this beautiful struggle that is disability.

All we can do as a community is educate the parents and others letting them know that the dreams you had for that baby boy or girl can still become a reality regardless of their physical limitations. Everyone born after July 26, 1990 or generation ADA has no filter, texting is their first language, and they have access to information and resources that may not have been available to so many of us until we were well into journey with disability; they need know that advocating in their respective communities is essential and is their basic human right. 

I mean, do young people with disabilities really pay attention to curb cuts or automatic doors? Or do they know what it took to gain access?  People will often ignore the first thing you say to them. If you tell them that same thing four more times they may become annoyed with you. However, if you go back with that same message a ninth or tenth time you may grab their attention and they begin to realize how important it is to you.  People may only start listen intently when they understand how it will affect themselves. 

Is it difficult at times? Hell yes!

But if not us, who?  I am of the belief that education effects attitude and your attitude heightens your level of awareness.  Attitude and awareness are our weapons of choice for advocates, parents and people with disabilities as we battle isolation and dependency.  “I am a reflection of the community," said Tupac.  “I am not saying I am going to change the world, but I guarantee that I will spark the brain that will change the world."  

I’m trying to find that spark why don’t you join me?

Allison with ADAPT in Salt Lake City

Friday, December 18, 2015

University of Memphis Top Ten Percent Recognition

U of M Event lacks real understanding of access

By Bobbie Fields, MCIL Independent Living Team

Bobbie Fields
The University of Memphis and provost Karen West, held their first Top 10% Recognition Ceremony in which my niece, Kierra Fields, was one of many recipients for the scholars among the Shelby County High Schools graduating classes on December 5th, 2015. Being appreciated for all their hard work, it was a proud day for many parents and guardians of graduating seniors.

The Recognition Ceremony gave the young scholars an opportunity to speak with recruiters of their interest, each college dean, of many schools within University of Memphis, was in attendance at the event. The deans provided an on-site University of Memphis college application for those interested in attending this college.

However, there was one drawback for me personally, the accessible parking wasn't actually accessible. It was more like walk to the sidewalk, walk up the sidewalk, then proceed to your destination.

The parking lot sidewalks didn’t have curb cuts so I was forced to go out to the sidewalk, go down to the driveway and walk across the busy entryway. There was a small inlet in the sidewalk next to the driveway but it had a water grate in the middle with big holes. A wheelchair tires would get stuck in them.

The seating space for wheelchairs wasn’t adequate either. Some family members had to sit in the hallway and lobby. The organizer of this event clearly didn’t understand the meaning of accessibility for a person with a disability.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Former MCIL employee appointed to California Rehab Council

Sacramento, California - Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today announced the appointment of Michael Thomas, 55, of Sacramento, to the California State Rehabilitation Council. Thomas has been a client assistance program advocate at Disability Rights California since 2008, where he has been coordinator and senior advocate since 2003. He has been social security specialist and a disability rights advocate at Thomas Advocacy Consultants since 1999.

Thomas was a housing specialist for the Center for Independent Living from 2002 to 2003, where he was a benefits counselor from 1997 to 1998. He was a benefits specialist at the Houston Center for Independent Living from 2000 to 2002, a benefits and employment specialist for the Independent Living Resource Center from 1996 to 1997, an independent living specialist at the Memphis Center for Independent Living from 1994 to 1996 and an adjunct instructor at Shelby State Community College from 1995 to 1996.

Thomas was a graduate student teacher at California State University, Sacramento from 1992 to 1994 and a camera operator and production assistant at the Louisiana State University Medical Center from 1984 to 1986. He earned a Master of Arts degree in international and intercultural communications from California State University, Sacramento. This position does not require Senate confirmation and there is no compensation. Michael Thomas is a Democrat.

Editor's Note: No photo is available now for Michael Thomas. MCIL will undertake a review and index of our collection of historical photographs and slides this spring.

collection of MCIL faces and the MCIL logo

Saturday, December 12, 2015

MBRU December Meeting.

MATA may close the North End Terminal

MBRU meeting at MCIL
The Memphis Bus Riders Union met Saturday December 12, at the Memphis Center for Independent Living to update the membership on MATA issues and vote on officers and amendments to the group’s by-laws. There were more than 20 members present and the meeting was followed by a Holiday Blowout party for MBRU and other grassroots groups in the Memphis area. 

Most critically, MATA has limited use of the William Hudson North End Terminal downtown and they plan to close it completely for four months while it is renovated. MBRU was essential in getting needed improvements for riders at the terminal and the membership was concerned that the closure was a ploy to close the terminal permanently. 

Currently the terminal has been closed to public parking and is used by the Memphis Police Department. MBRU noted much secrecy about the North End Terminal and nothing being discussed at the MATA board meeting. 

Newly elected secretary Justin Davis noted that there was a “few pretty big changes that the executive committee was recommending for MBRU.” The members of MBRU voted to include dues in the monthly membership. Each member will pay from $3 to $50 each month or provide equivalent volunteer hours of work. Before the change, a member only needed to fill out an application. Booklets will be provided to members in good-standing that will show that they have paid their dues. The new by-laws will also divide the MBRU meetings into a public meeting first, followed by a meeting only for MBRU members. 

Cindy Bailey and Sammie Hunter were re-elected as co-chairs of MBRU. Justin Davis was elected Secretary and Bennett Foster as Treasurer. Please make plans to attend the next meeting of the MBRU on January 9, 2016. The meeting will be at noon at the Memphis Center for Independent Living, 1633 Madison Avenue.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Attendants rule change

Action Alert: NCIL Needs Your Help Documenting the Impact of the DOL Rule Changes!

Stephanie Woodward
In August, when the Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Department of Labor, the Home Care Association said that they were considering a Supreme Court appeal and asked if NCIL and ADAPT would be willing to write another amicus court brief in that case. 

Months went by and the Home Care Association filed a petition to appeal to the Supreme Court with a motion asking the court to delay the implementation of the DOL rule until the Supreme Court decided if it would hear the case. The Supreme Court declined to delay the rule, but is allowing the Home Care Association to petition to have the appeal heard by the Supreme Court. The Home Care Association is, in fact, moving forward with petitioning the court and asked if we would file an amicus court brief with a deadline of December 24, 2015.

This brief is simply asking the court to hear the case. We are crafting an amicus emphasizing that the US Supreme Court should hear the case because the DOL's actions in changing the regulations have been harmful to attendants and people with disabilities.

In order to draft an accurate brief for the Supreme Court about how the Companionship Exemption changes have impacted people with disabilities, we need your help!

Please answer the questions below with details by Monday, December 14th! Send answers to Stephanie Woodward.

Explain how any state policies around attendant services have changed within the last 18 months. An example of this would be any rules implemented by your state that prohibit overtime for attendants.
Explain how any practices changed within the last 18 months. An example of this would be fiscal intermediaries requiring attendants to stop working overtime or people being reevaluated and receiving reduced hours that limits the potential for overtime.
Share stories of anyone who has been affected personally. Has an attendant lost hours of work? 
Has a disabled person lost their attendants because of this? Is it impossible to find new attendants? 
Has anyone been institutionalized as a result? 
These examples will be very helpful to highlight the harm that is happening because of these rules.
Has your state done nothing to implement the rule?

Thank you for your help in addressing this critical issue!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Health Care Coverage Gap Townhall Meeting

Contact state legislator about the Insure Tennessee

A woman writes to her representative
By Tim Wheat

The Tennessee Health Care Campaign held a Townhall meeting on Insure Tennessee at the Benjamin Hooks Memphis Public Library Tuesday night from 6 to 8 p.m. About 30 people came out to hear the plan for improving health and keeping billions of dollars from leaving our state. People were asked to write House Speaker Beth Harwell and their state representatives to get Insure Tennessee back on the legislative agenda for 2016.

The town hall meeting began with a video produced by the Tennessee Justice Center that described the problem in Tennessee of the coverage gap. Residents of Tennessee with fixed and very low income are covered by the state Medicaid program called TennCare; most people can afford coverage and benefit from the Affordable Care Act’s subsidy; however, over 280,000 Tennesseans, including 24,000 Tennessee Veterans, fall into the gap between TennCare and subsidy.

Tony Garr
Tony Garr with the Tennessee Health Care Campaign gave a brief history of how our state got to this point. He noted that over 60,000 residents of Shelby County will fall in the coverage gap that Insure Tennessee is intended to protect. He was clear that Insure Tennessee is not Obamacare and has no cost to taxpayers.

Mr. Garr quoted a University of Tennessee study that showed Insure Tennessee would bring over $1.2 billion into the state. The reverberation of this advantage would not only be in public health, but could prevent hospitals from closing and would add more than 15,000 jobs to the Tennessee economy. The Tennessee Department of Mental Health estimated that they would save $40 million.

Mr. Garr showed that these figures are not hypothetical. Kentucky, although a smaller state than Tennessee, has expanded its Medicaid program and has saved $802 million and created 40,000 new jobs. In the first year of Medicaid expansion, Kentucky had $6 billion in state savings from uncompensated care alone.

“America gets little for the high health care costs we pay,” said Rick Donlon of Resurrection Health. “Not accepting Insure Tennessee has real-life repercussions for Memphis. This city is suffering already from a two-tier health care system. They say you should be careful driving down Wolf River Parkway with your window down, you may get a heart-stent.”

Dr. Tom Cooper of the University of Tennessee gave a view from his perspective working in the Emergency Room. He pointed out that the people in the coverage gap are working citizens that have jobs and want to keep them. Uncompensated care is often delayed and more expensive, and it is those with insurance that are absorbing the cost.

A Graduate Assistant at the University of Memphis told the audience that he is in the coverage gap. Steven Payne just checked on his health care cost and found that it would be 32% of his annual income. He said he has no coverage but supports Insure Tennessee so that working residents can get the health care they need. 

Contact state officials:

Governor Bill Haslam
1st Floor State Capitol
Nashville, TN 37243

House Speaker Beth Harwall
301 6th Ave. North Suite 19 Legislative Plaza
Nashville, TN 37243

Find my legislator: 

See photos from the event.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

MATAplus Information

The MATA STAC for 2016

By Christina Clift, Bobbie Fields and Allison Donald

Bobbie Fields
On December 3, 2015 members of the Specialized Transportation Advisory Committee (STAC) for MATA met at the Perkins restaurant located at 3455 Poplar Avenue.  The purpose of the committee is to provide substantive suggestions on how MATA can improve its services for seniors and persons with disabilities.  

One of the decisions made during the meeting included increasing the frequency of meetings from bimonthly to every month.  Some of the items discussed during the meeting included using videos to teach people how to make reservations, take a trip on the trolley or fixed route bus, and to advertise MATAplus service.  We also discussed updating the existing MATAplus application to make it more user friendly, updating the rider’s guide for MATAplus, suggesting needed changes to the automated greeting, and conducting a customer satisfaction survey to be mailed to all MATAplus riders.  

Christina CliftFinally, STAC plans to begin giving an award for MATA bus operators or staff person that has gone above and beyond their job to assist the public.  This award will be given out on a quarterly basis and we’d love nominations from the public.  Nominations can be sent to Bobbie Fields at:  

All of STAC’s meetings are open to the public and we are always looking to recruit more members. The next meeting will be at 3:00 PM on January 7, 2016 at a location to be announced.  For more information please call STAC Secretary Bobbie Fields at (901) 726-6404 Ext, 112.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Independent Living faces funding cut

Action Alert from the National Council on Independent Living: Independent Living At Risk for Budget Cuts

Sen. Harkin speaks with Bob Kafka
As 2016 nears its end, Congress is hard at work on the budget before the current short-term continuing resolution expires on December 11. Lawmakers are expected to write an omnibus combining the 12 annual funding bills into one. The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, overall funding levels are higher now due to $33 billion in sequestration relief. But that still does not bring us up to pre-sequestration levels, which means that we are still at risk for budget cuts – cuts that the IL program simply cannot afford.

We must keep advocating for increased funding for Independent Living. Congress has until next week to work on appropriations. Please contact your members of Congress today to ensure that they know how important IL is to their constituents around the country. You can do so by visiting the NCIL Action Portal and sending a message to your Senators and Representatives. While it is important that we reach all members of Congress, this is especially important if you have Senators on the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (list below). Please take action now! 

Statue of Abraham Lincoln

Appropriations L-HHS-Ed Members


Tom Cole, Chairman (OK)
Steve Womack, Vice Chair (AR)
Charlie Dent (PA)
Chuck Fleischmann (TN)
Andy Harris (MD)
Scott Rigell (VA)
Martha Roby (AL)
Mike Simpson (ID)


Rosa DeLauro, Ranking Member
Chaka Fattah (PA)
Barbara Lee (CA)
Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA)

NCIL Action Portal

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

TennCare Pink Slips

Please let us know if you get a re-determination notice

Activsts using wheelchairs demand equality
From The Tennessee Justice Center: Phase 3 re-determinations begin with mass mailings tomorrow, December 1. This phase will result in the termination of coverage for those unable to meet deadlines for the completion of complex paperwork, or who are found to be ineligible. We are concerned about the risk that large numbers of eligible people will lose their coverage.

If you see or hear of any TennCare pink notices received please contact us right away. MCIL and the Tennessee Justice Center wish to see the notice and we will plan a 1-hour webinar for advocates within a week of seeing the phase 3 notice. The Tennessee Justice Center webinar will be designed to share information that will aid advocates in helping clients through this arduous process.

Thank you for your help with this and remember to put the December 8, Insure Tennessee town hall meeting, on your calendar for 6 to 7:30 pm at the Benjamin Hooks Public Library, 3030 Poplar. 

Contact MCIL: 901-726-6404

Memphis Public Library

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

MATA Service Analysis

Data from MATA on “Wheelchair Riders” by month for 2012 to September of 2015
(October and November of 2014 are missing).

MATAplus Ridership:

MATA reports that the average monthly paratransit ridership has increased 14% since 2013.

Pie chart showing 99.6% of MATA ridership do not use wheelchairsParatransit ridership has increased while MATA reports that fixed route service has declined 12.55% between January of 2013 and October 2014.

MATAplus accounts for about 3% of the 2014 total ridership of MATA, up from 2.5% in 2013.

Wheelchair users on the fixed route account for less than one half of 1% in 2013 (.33%) That is about three wheelchair users per 1000 MATA fixed route passengers.

Wheelchair users are reported up in 2014 to about 4 per 1000 MATA fixed route riders. 
Graph showing MATAplus ridership similar in 2012 and 2014, but 2015 ridership doubling that of 2013.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Scandal involves Employment of People with Disabilities

US Department of Justice probe AbilityOne and SourceAmerica

People sitting at a table

WikiLeaks today published tapes and transcripts they claim expose the AbilityOne and SourceAmerica fraud that is under investigation by the US Department of Justice. You may access the WikiLeaks tapes and transcripts at:

The AbilityOne program is intended to employ more than 50,000 people with disabilities, most with significant disabilities. It is the largest employment program for people with disabilities in the country with over $3 billion a year expected to fund employment of people with disabilities.

Most of the funding is funneled to the non-profit SourceAmerica to place people with disabilities in jobs. The US Department of Justice alleged that nearly half of the SourceAmerica money does not subsidize work for people with disabilities. The thousands of placement companies under SourceAmerica profit from the placement of able-bodied and not significantly disabled workers. 

WikiLeaks has listed 26 tapes and transcripts on their website that discuss the alleged corruption. The released information are conversations between the Lead Counsel of SourceAmerica and Bona Fide Conglomerate Inc., one of the placement organizations. Ruben Lopez, is the CEO of Bona Fide and Jean Robinson is the Lead Counsel for SourceAmerica. 

People in a meeting

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Clover Bottom Developmental Center Closing After 92 Years

Randy Alexander speaks with Gov. Phil Bredesen
NASHVILLE—The final people with disabilities to receive services and supports at Clover Bottom Developmental Center (CBDC) are moving into their new community homes marking the closure of Tennessee’s first institution for the care of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. 

Gov. Bredesen promised to close the institution by 2011. The state did not make that deadline and the cost of inappropriate institutionalization has been about $1,400.00 per day for each individual. That is a monthly cost of $42,000.00 per person for our state's failure. However, not closing the massive facility is costly in other ways.

"Between September 2012 and August 2013," reported The Tennessean in February of 2014. "DIDD recorded five serious injuries, 17 allegations of abuse and neglect and 775 other injuries — an average of 19 injuries per person living at Clover Bottom over an 11-month period."

The Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities released the following timeline with a press release about the closure of Colver Bottom. MCIL notes that the timeline does not include:

  • 1973 — Lawsuit established that Clover Bottom residents could not be forced to work without pay.
  • 1994 — A federal investigation that finds that Clover Bottom violated residents Constitutional Rights.
  • 2010 — Gov. Phil Bredesen proposes to close Clover Bottom at the end of the calendar year.

DIDD Timeline for Clover Bottom:

  • 1919 — First appropriation for construction of institution for people with intellectual disabilities 
  • 1920 — Tennessee lawmakers approve $100,000 to buy land and build buildings that would become Clover Bottom Developmental Center 
  • 1923 — First admission 
  • 1924 — 248 people were admitted in first 9 months of operation 
  • 1960 — Greene Valley Developmental Center opens in East Tennessee 
  • 1961 — Name changed to Clover Bottom Hospital and School 
  • 1963 — Peak census of 1,563 
  • 1968 — Arlington Developmental Center opens in West Tennessee 
  • 1973 — Name changed to Clover Bottom Developmental Center 
  • 1976 — First cottage-style residences open 
  • 1995 — CBDC, et al. lawsuit filed by People First and USDOJ 
  • 1999 — CBDC, et al. Settlement Agreement finalized  
  • 2010 — Arlington Developmental Center closed 
  • 2015 — CBDC, et al Exit Plan approved

Monday, November 2, 2015

Get out in the community!

Being part of the community is worth the struggle

Louis Patrick with ADAPT in 2007By Louis Patrick

My wheelchair is five years old, so, theoretically, Medicare would approve my getting a new one. I talked to the company I’ve been dealing with for several years, and we agreed on the specifications for a new chair. I should have known things are never so easy. I got a call last week from someone in the company telling me that Blue Cross had turned me down. They needed more information—preferably medical, of course. He said the company would re-file.

It’s been my experience that it’s not wise to leave such matters unattended. I called BC/BS’s “customer service” line and asked to speak to someone in the group who had denied my claim.  The sweet young rep explained that she couldn’t do that; they had different phones. She looked up my records and told me that, yes, my claim had been denied, they didn’t have enough information to establish that I needed an ultra-light chair, but that I had the right to “appeal.” They had not received an appeal from the company yet. She called them and found out they had not have received the denial by mail yet; she would fax it to them. If I liked, she could fax or mail the appeal application to me, but, no, they aren’t allowed to use email.

Louis Patrick

Now, first thing, I’m 68 years old, as is my wife. Silly me, that alone seems like reason enough; nobody my age should have to lift a tank of a wheelchair. I didn’t think to tell the rep that, however. I did tell her that I’m very active; I’m out and about very often through the week. I drive and need to be able to get my chair in and out of the car easily. Also, my wife needs to be able to get the chair in and out of the trunk when she and I are riding together. And I reminded her that being active in the community, dealing with other people, is a well proven tonic for health. Staying bottled up at home alone is a killer.

Insurance companies are great believers in Nancy Reagan’s philosophy: “Just say no.” Whenever possible, deny claims. Adjudicate. Wrap up the claim in red tape. Many, if not most, people will simply accept the denial.

I was at the Center talking about this with a good friend. She had just been denied payment on a feature that reclines the chair, taking pressure off the tush. She was told she was eligible for a “Group 2” chair but not a “Group 3” chair. Again, to be active in the community for several hours the reclining feature is very helpful—and healthful.

I’ve also heard before that Medicare was clamping down on heavy duty wheelchairs unless needed IN the home. This is a straight-forward matter of health: Get out of the house! Get out in the community! It’s better for you.

Never take no for an answer. Fight for the equipment you need to stay active.

Louis Patrick is on the Board of MCIL.

Louis Patrick shakes hands with someone

Friday, October 30, 2015

Action Alert: Stop Another Attack on the ADA!

Federal Legislation to limit Americans with Disabilities Act Enforcement

By: Mike Bachhuber and Steve Higgins
NCIL ADA, Civil Rights Subcommittee Co-Chairs 

ADA Leagcy Tour Bus
They couldn't wait for the banners to be taken down from 25th Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) 25th Anniversary celebrations. Adding insult to injury, Representative Poe (R-TX) introduced H.R. 3765, the ADA Education & Reform Act, on October 20, 2015. The bill has already garnered support from others, including Representatives Collins (R-GA), Jolly (R-FL), Marchant (R-TX), and Lamar Smith (R-TX). Please reach out to your Representatives and ask them not to support this piece of legislation.  

The bill is being touted as an education bill, which is a new approach by the American Hotel & Lodging Association and others supporting it. You may remember when NCIL members held a “pool party” at their office (located just a few blocks from the 2012 NCIL Annual Conference) after they supported similar legislation to damage the ADA.  

ADA Notification Act with a Twist 

Evan Kemp watches as George H.W. Bush signs the ADA

H.R. 3765 contains language similar to that used in past proposed legislation that would have limited the ADA. Section 3 of the bill creates a new crime for sending "a demand letter… alleging a violation of [Title III] of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990…" that does not meet certain requirements. This in itself is damaging and unacceptable. In no other civil rights legislation is it a crime to file a complaint. 

Should this legislation pass, it would become effective 30 days after enactment. Now is the time to reach out to your legislators and ask them not to support H.R. 3765, which would create additional barriers to our civil rights as persons with disabilities. If enacted, this bill could set damaging precedence potentially affecting other civil rights legislation by making notification a crime.  

NCIL will be working with other disability rights organizations to stop this bill. Should additional actions be required, we will reach out to the membership. We must ensure that the ADA stays strong by stopping proposals like this before they gain traction.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

MCIL Work plan 2015 - 2016 Systems Change Activities


Issue: lack of affordable, accessible, integrated housing

Annual objective: Increase knowledge of and access to affordable, accessible, integrated housing.

Planned Activities:

  • Continue providing home modifications as funding permits and develop materials for alternative resources to make accessible home modifications.
  • Increase accessible housing by creating or making changes to local policies and ordinances.
  • Collaborate with funders and other partners to create and maintain a clearinghouse for current accessible housing information and referral and other issues.
  • Educate consumers on fair housing rights with a workshop.
  • Explore federal housing vouchers for people transiting from Nursing Facilities.


Issue: need for reliable, affordable, accessible transportation

Annual objective: Increase awareness of accessible transportation options.

Planned activities:

  • Increase attendance, activities and support for BRU. 
  • Monitor, respond and collaborate with groups and other organizations working to increase availability of all forms of transportation.
  • Implement a tracking tool and methods for collecting information on indicators effectiveness
  • Advocate for an increase in the state budget for additional transportation.


Issue: lack of adequate healthcare

Annual objective –Assist people with disabilities in Shelby county or surrounding areas to obtain or maintain healthcare and needed services for community living

Planned Activities:

  • Collaborate, monitor, network and support efforts of THCC to expand Medicaid coverage in Tennessee
  • Monitor and respond to any issues arising from attempts to sign up for Affordable Health Care for individuals with disabilities
  • Monitor and advocate with State and Federal legislators to maintain and expand long term care and home and community based services
  • Collaborate, monitor and advocate with Tenncare, MCOs and other related agencies to ensure that all allowed services are provided
  • Outreach to nursing homes and assisted living facilities in Shelby and Tipton counties
  • Provide peer mentors to individuals transitioning from nursing homes as requested to assist with maintaining successful community integration

Assistive Technology

Issue- lack of knowledge and access

Annual Objective: Increase the use of appropriate affordable AT by people with disabilities

Planned Activities:

  • Create and produce a model and guide for use of selected AT in the community.
  • Collaborate with other agencies and organizations for people with disabilities to remain knowledgeable of current AT that will provide for successful independence.
  • Provide workshops on specific mobile devices and how they may be accessible and effective to people with disabilities.
  • Train Peer Mentors as Technical Mentors in appropriate affordable AT.
  • Allow use of the MCIL computer lab.

Other – Barriers to full integration

Issue: Community Access barriers

Annual objective - Educate, advocate and participate in groups supporting a more accessible and livable community 

Planned Activities:

  • Work with community partners to create a Memphis ADA plan.
  • Educate consumers, business owners and community partners in access requirements, regulations and laws.
  • Find, document and respond to problems related to public access.
  • Identify and educate potential consumers in Tipton County and underserved areas of Shelby County about ways to facilitate a more accessible, inclusive community.
  • Monitor, ensure and promote access to ballots, polling sites and the election process.

Other – Barriers to full integration

Issue: Attitudinal Barriers

Annual objective; Expand disability awareness and decrease attitudinal barriers and societal stigma

Planned activities:

  • Work with community partners to create at least 1 annual citywide summit or conference related to an identified issue or barrier to independence.
  • Expand disability awareness through group community activities.
  • Use language and etiquette awareness presentations.
  • Find and expose attitudinal barriers in at least one instance.

Other – Barriers to full integration

Issue: Increase Socialization and decrease isolation

Annual objective; Increase opportunities for education, socialization and community inclusion

Planned activities:

  • Identify gaps in youth transitioning and collaborate to identify potential solutions.
  • Collect stories of consumers who have successfully transitioned.
  • MCIL staff, board and volunteers involvement in community activities, governing boards, advisory committees and local government to ensure equal participation of people with disabilities.
  • Through outreach and networking maintain and update appropriate referral resources, expanding to include Tipton county
Text Graphic: The Memphis Center for Independent Living