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

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Transportation Access and Experiences

Public Transit Survey for People with Disabilities

By Jill Bezyak

Advocates pose in front of the Road to Freedom bus
I would like to invite you to participate in a national survey titled, Transportation Access and Experiences. The survey is designed to improve understanding of accessibility of public transportation for people with disabilities. This survey is being conducted by the ADA Participation Action Research Consortium (ADA-PARC), a collaborative research project of seven ADA Regional Centers (Lex Frieden and Joy Hammel) This project focuses on community living, community participation & work/economic participation disparities of people with disabilities (For more information, visit the website: These organizations would like to improve our understanding on transportation access of people with disabilities and use this information to make improvements at regional and national levels.

The survey is interested in receiving as many responses as possible from people with disabilities based on their personal experiences with public transportation. Please feel free to share the survey with potentially interested entities. The results will serve as crucial evidence to support improvements to accessible transportation. If you have any questions or comments regarding this survey, please contact Jill Bezyak from the Rocky Mountain ADA Center at

Please use the link below to access and complete the survey:

Community and Work Participation Disparities for People with Disabilities A Program of the Americans with Disabilities Act Participatory Action Research Consortium  (ADA-PARC)
Jill Bezyak, Ph.D., CRC is an Associate Professor at the Human Rehabilitative Services School of Human Sciences, University of Northern Colorado

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Record Federal Employment of People with Disabilities

Man working at a desk
The U.S. Office of Personnel Management reports that the federal government will meet the goal of hiring 100,000 workers with disabilities within five years. The report finds that the federal government employed more people with disabilities and that people with disabilities represented a larger share of the workforce than at any other time since such record keeping began 34 years ago.

President Barack Obama issued an executive order in 2010 pledging to increase hiring of people with disabilities by the federal government by 100,000 within five years. The report found that federal offices hired 20,615 people with disabilities last year, the total number of workers with disabilities is 247,608.

The tracking is an annual report to the President on disability hiring. It shows that the largest employer in the US, the federal government is on track to reach the President’s goal by next year.

Monday, October 19, 2015

MATA Public Meeting

Schedule and Route changes presented for customer comments.

Graphic of MATA route 69 Map
On Monday, October 19, MATA held a public meeting for bus riders to make comments on route and schedule changes. MATA was pleased with their new format of informing customers of changes to routes and times. Allison Burton welcomed everyone to the forum and explained where information was about the service changes.

Ms. Burton said that there would be minor changes to 28 weekday routes and some additional changes to Saturday and Sunday service. Riders could make comments on the web, in writing on cards MATA had at the meeting and to a court reporter so customers could have their comments transcribed. Bennett Foster of the Memphis Bus Riders Union asked that the comments be posted on the MATA website.

John Lanchaster of MATA said that none of the changes met the MATA definition of significant changes and did not discriminate against poor and minority populations. The public may make comments anytime on the web:

Allison Burton of MATA

Thursday, October 15, 2015

MATA taking Public Comments

Notice of Public Comments concerning routes and schedule

The Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA) gives notice that comments will be accepted from the public on proposed changes on fixed-route bus service until October 22, 2015.  No changes to MATAplus service or any fares are being proposed. The proposed changes are as follows: 

MATA operator standing by a bus

The following routes will have minor schedule adjustments to help the buses operate more on time, to adjust for better connections between routes and to adjust the frequency of the service. Weekday Routes 2, 4, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 17, 19, 20, 30, 32, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 42, 50, 52, 53, 56, 57, 69, 82 

Saturday Routes 2, 4, 8, 11, 12, 13, 17, 19, 20, 30, 32, 34, 36, 38, 39, 40, 42, 50, 52, 53, 56, 57, 69 

Sunday Routes 2, 4, 8, 11, 17, 39, 40, 42, 50, 52, 53, 56, 57 Applicable Saturday and Sunday routes will be adjusted to have an approximate 5-minute transfer time at the Hudson Transit Center. The following routes will have minor routing changes:  Route 17- From Swift and South Parkway, right Ingle, left on Farrington, left Outer Parkway/1st Ave, left Kansas Street, to the existing routing.  

Route 32- Southbound evening trips will serve the FedEx hub. Northbound morning trips will also serve the FedEx hub.  Route 35- From Belz Blvd, continue across Third Street, right Florida, meeting the Routes 12 and 17 at Florida and South Parkway to provide East/West service from that location. Right on South Parkway to the existing routing.

Route 69- Saturday only, Loop east of American Way Transit Center operating on Cottonwood Road will be discontinued. PROPOSED Schedules will be available on October 16 at or by email upon request.

Requests for additional information or for special language or accessibility accommodations can be made by contacting MATA at 901-274-6282 or Written comments can be submitted until 11 a.m. on Thursday, October 22, 2015 and can be mailed to 1370 Levee Road, Memphis, TN  38108; e-mailed to; or faxed to 901-722-7123.

While not required, in an effort to improve communications between MATA and our valued customers, a public meeting will be held at Central Station, 545 South Main Street, on Monday, October 19, 2015 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. It will be an open house format with MATA representatives on hand to discuss individual concerns. 

MATA’s Board of Commissioners will review and consider the comments and address the service changes and effective date at the October 26, 2015 Board meeting. The meeting will be held at 3:30 p.m. in the Memphis Public Library at 3030 Poplar Ave.

The Memphis Center for Independent Living

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Verify your address with TennCare

A note from Hope Johnson:

People on TennCare or any of the Medicare Savings Programs (QMB, SLMB) need to call TN Health Connection to verify their correct address.  THC is starting to send out recertification letters to everyone.  Anyone who doesn't respond, will get cut off.

Memphis Center for Independent Living logo, wheelchair symbol climbing the letter "M"The Bureau of TennCare is currently working to redetermine eligibility for our members.  This year’s redetermination process will look different than in previous years due to CMS allowing states to use several options for streamlining the eligibility redetermination process.

In May and September the state redetermined eligibility for approximately 720,000 individuals through the first phase of this streamlined process.  In Phase 1, TennCare performed a SNAP match in cooperation with the Department of Human Services.  We were able to redetermine eligibility for this population using SNAP data that was available to us.  Most of these individuals were provided notice in May that they had been redetermined eligible and their TennCare would continue.  A second smaller group were notified in September.  No members lost eligibility as part of Phase 1.

As Phase 2 of our redetermination process, TennCare will be sending notice to an additional group of selected members giving them the opportunity to self-attest that they have not had a change in circumstances since their last eligibility review.  These letters will be mailed in October, November and December.  Individuals can complete the form and fax or mail it to TennCare to complete the redetermination process.  No members will lose eligibility as part of Phase 2.

We ask for your help in working with your clients to submit these notices back to TennCare.  It is especially    important that all notices are returned to the address and/or fax number noted on the notice.  As a reminder, these are individual notices, so each family member will receive their own form to fill out and send back in.

Phase 3 of the redetermination process will start December 1st.  This step will be familiar to most people since it is similar to the historic redetermination that has been performed by TennCare.  Individuals due for redetermination, whose eligibility was not redetermined in phase 1 or 2 will be mailed a renewal packet and asked to complete the packet and return it to TennCare within 30 days. The returned information will be reviewed and the member will be provided notice whether they are still eligible for TennCare.  If they are determined not to be eligible or they do not respond to the notice, they will receive advance notice of termination.

We ask for your help in working with your clients to submit the requested documentation to the specified address or fax number within the appropriate timeline.

Tennessee Division of Health Care Finance & Administration
310 Great Circle Rd  |  Nashville, TN, 37243 T: 615-507-6459  |