Disability Digest 
The monthly DISABILITY RIGHTS e-publication
Disability Network Southwest Michigan
December 2019
Proposed Emotional Support Animal Bill threatens housing rights for people with disabilities    
Legislative bills have been presented in the Michigan Senate and House of Representatives that, if passed, would significantly hinder the ability of people with disabilities to have emotional support animals (ESA) as a reasonable accommodation for their disability in residential housing, including apartments, dorms, condominiums and mobile home parks, with no pet policies. The specific bills are Senate Bills 608, 609 & 610 and House Bills 4910 & 4911  
These bills would create significant barriers to people with disabilities in finding housing by:
  • Requiring that a licensed healthcare provider certify the need for an ESA and requiring recertification annually, which can create financial hardship, jeopardize healthcare coverage, and act as a procedural deterrent for people with disabilities.
  • Establishing a 6-month evaluation/waiting period for being allowed an ESA thereby creating gaps in needed support and housing.
  • Creating criminal penalties for falsifying the need for an ESA which will act a as a significant deterrent to certification.
  • Establishing a new basis for eviction if new requirements are not met.
Disability Network Southwest Michigan and other disability related agencies throughout Michigan have sent a letter of opposition to Michigan Legislators urging them not to support the proposed bills.
Click here to find links to follow these bills in the house and senate  

2020 Census Jobs - Hiring Event

group of people_ Text_ _ We can be census takers. Apply online 2020census.gov_jobs
The U.S. Census Bureau is recruiting to fill hundreds of thousands of positions across the country to assist with the 2020 Census. Disability Network Southwest Michigan has organized two census hiring events in our area. This is an opportunity to learn more about census jobs, ask questions, and apply
right on the spot!

These hiring events will be offered in Kalamazoo (1/15) and Benton Harbor (1
/16 ). Follow this link for all the details of the Census Hiring Events and to register.  
Where does the U.S. stand on Disability Rights on an International Platform?      
In 2010, Judith Heumann was appointed as the State Department's first special adviser on international disability rights, however, the special adviser position has been vacant since January 2017. In this article, Heumann says American leadership on disability rights has eroded. "There is still real political will within the State Department to promote the rights of disabled people, and highly capable staff to implement this vision, but the authority, access and respect garnered by a high-level political appointee is the missing piece," said Heumann.   
Follow this link to read Heumann's article "The U.S. Needs to Lead Again On Disability Rights." 
Disability Rights in the National Campaign 
disability rights protestors
Until this election, Presidential candidates have mostly overlooked people with disabilities as a crucial voting bloc. But, the tides may be shifting in the 2020 election, as some are recognizing the importance of the disability vote by centering disability rights in their platforms.Notable attention from 2020 candidates, especially so early in the election season, comes as a welcome change.  
Follow this link to read a recent article on disability in the national campaign

Defiant Lives / Ed Roberts Day    
Ed Roberts and movie cover _Defiant Lives_
We will be celebrating Ed Roberts Day with the showing of Defiant Lives. Defiant Lives traces the origins of the world-wide disability rights movement. This film tells the stories of the individuals who bravely put their lives on the line to create a better world where everyone is valued and can participate in society. Join us for the celebration!

This event is being held in Kalamazoo (1/22) and St. Joseph (1/23). Follow this link for all the details of and to register for any of the events in our 2020 Winter Movie Series.  

Do's & Don'ts:
Assistance Animals
a collection of different animals
There is a lot of confusion about what qualifies as a service animal and how they differ from emotional support animals. There are specific laws regarding what type of assistance animals are allowed in different places and whether an establishment can deny access to an assistance animal. Join us to learn more!

This is one of our most popular workshops and is being offered in Kalamazoo (1/29) and St. Joseph (1/30). Follow this link for all the details of our Assistance Animals workshop to register.  
Disability Network Southwest Michigan
Kalamazoo Office
St. Joseph Office
517 E. Crosstown Parkway
2900 Lakeview Avenue
Kalamazoo, MI 49001
St. Joseph, MI 49085
(269) 345-1516
(269) 985-0111

You can help support the Disability Rights Movement in Southwest Michigan with a tax-deductible donation to Disability Network.
Visit our website to donate on-line.