July 29, 2019
Disability Policy Consortium Weekly Update

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This week was the 29th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act becoming law of the land.  Though nearly three decades later and much work to remains to be done w e must celebrate our victories.  Colin talks about one of those victories in his editorial this week.

The DPC was in the news this week, testifying on the Beacon Hill.  There were a few advances this week and we talk about them below.

We exist in the language of today, emojis.  Also, New York City agreed this week formally to install curb cuts on more than 160,000 intersections.  (Think about that number for a moment.

How did you celebrate the birthday of the ADA?  Let us know.

Until next week, happy reading. 

John Winske
Disability Policy Consortium
Editorial:  We Are the Power

This week, people with disabilities across the country celebrated the 29th anniversary of our community's greatest victory: the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the landmark civil rights law that permanently transformed the lives of tens of millions of people with disabilities, radically expanding our chances at independence and full inclusion in society.

At DPC, we'd actually been celebrating since Monday, because our advocacy team achieved our own remarkable victory. Five years ago, the state's primary housing program for people with disabilities, the Alternative Housing Voucher Program (AHVP), was in dire straits; at a time when the lack of affordable housing had become a public health crisis for people with disabilities, this program was offering just 350 vouchers, down from 800 when it was created in 1996. That year, we partnered with our allies at Boston Center for Independent Living to take action on the issue-we created the Housing Advocacy Leadership Team (HALT), a group of low-income people with disabilities who would work with organizers from both organizations who would focus on this issue. We also set a goal: restore AHVP to 800 vouchers, more than doubling the size of the program. We got to work, holding dozens of events, setting hundreds of meetings with legislators, and making thousands of phone calls over the last five years. And, year by year, even as funding for many social programs was flat or falling, we grew this program. Finally, this past Monday, we reached our goal: AHVP was funded at $8 million, more than twice where it was when we started, and enough to provide 800 people with disabilities with housing.

I am not suggesting, of course, that this victory was comparable to the ADA in terms of impact; housing 800 people with disabilities in one state is a major accomplishment, it is not in the same league as completely changing the rights of millions of people nationwide. However, what I do think is vital to realize is that these two victories came about for substantially the same reason: the tremendous power of organized people with disabilities. Passing the ADA, over the objections of some of the most powerful corporate interests in this country, was an incredible achievement, but I think it is a mistake to speak of it in shocked tones, or to wonder how it was possible. It was possible because time and again, when our community has come together and fought diligently and creatively to wright a wrong, we have succeeded. From implementing Section 504 by taking over a federal office building in 1977 to saving the ACA through occupying the halls of congress in 2017, when our community fights for what it believes in it very often wins. It is shameful, of course, that we have to fight-that people with disabilities are often forced to essentially become organizers just to get basic their needs met-but we should take the time to celebrate what we have won.

Sometimes, particularly outside our community, I have seen pessimism over what the ADA actually accomplished. People will point to the very real struggles of our community-the intense poverty, the low employment, and the high rates of homelessness-and say that because these problems persist today, it means the ADA failed to bring about equality for people with disabilities. This, however, is a profound misunderstanding of history. The ADA did not fall from the sky one day, nor was it a handout to our community. It is not the cause of our liberation, but the largest product of a movement that over the last hundred years has taken our community from the depths of oppression and institutionalization to unprecedented levels of access and inclusion. As Bob Kafka, one of the giants of the disability rights movement in this country put it, "If we believed that ADA is the power and we are the recipients of its strength, rather than we are the power and ADA is a tool for us to use, I fear we may still have a long way to go."

We do have a long way still to go, but every day we are making strides, and at DPC we intend to be at the forefront of achieving that success. This week, we showed what our community can achieve to solve the problems it faces. Thanks to the work of dedicated organizers like our own Lenny Somervell, the incredible members of the HALT team, our partners at BCIL, and the support of allies like Citizens Housing and Planning Association (CHAPA) and IL's across the state like Metrowest, CLW, Stavros, and NILP, hundreds of people with disabilities who used to be homeless will have safe, affordable, accessible places to live next year. We will continue to fight for even more housing access for our community, and we are applying the same tenacious approach to accessibility, heath care, fighting discrimination, and all the other barriers that have been placed in front of our community. It will not be easy, and we cannot do it alone-but the history of our movement shows us that, from ADA to AHVP, there is nothing we cannot achieve if we all take action together.

Colin Killick
Executive Director
DPC in the News:  Delivered Testimony to Protect Parents with Disabilities

Yes, that was DPC organizer Harry Weismann pictured in the Herald News the other day and quoted to boot.  Harry was delivering testimony in favor of S983 and H1487.  Both bills would prohibit a parent's disability from being used negatively in a custody hearing in Massachusetts.  You can read the story here.
Employment: Finance Director, Community Legal Aid

FINANCE DIRECTOR

Community Legal Aid, Inc. (CLA), the non-profit legal services agency that provides free legal help for low-income and elderly residents of central and western Mass., seeks a Finance Director to join its senior management team. CLA is a financially sound, administratively strong agency supported by a dedicated staff, management team, and Board of Directors. CLA has over 100 staff working across multiple offices, and a budget of over $10 million. The Finance Director will work out of CLA's Worcester office.

RESPONSIBILITIES:
  • Oversees the finance functions of the organization and its wholly-owned subsidiary, and is responsible for their overall financial management within Generally Accepted Accounting Principles.
  • Works with the Executive Director on the annual budget process and oversees the performance of daily accounting functions including general ledger, balance sheet, accounts payable, accounts receivable, payroll, grant budgets, and grant financial reporting.
  • Designs, implements and monitors internal controls, policies and procedures.
  • Provides analysis of financial results and appraisal of the organization's financial position to the Executive Director and the organization's Board of Directors.
  • Collaborates with the organization's Human Resources Manager in periodically reviewing benefit providers' cost, benefit levels, and services.
  • Works with insurance providers to ensure adequate coverage and timely renewals, and is responsible for maintaining corporate and professional liability insurance coverage.
  • Supervises CLA's Assistant Fiscal Manager and other accounting staff.
QUALIFICATIONS: 
  • Bachelor's degree in accounting, finance, business administration, or equivalent experience. CPA certification preferred.
  • Minimum of five years of senior-level non-profit financial management experience with a strong background in budget development and cost-centered grant accounting preferred.
  • Solid experience in the oversight of multiple federal, state and private funding sources, including ensuring compliance with all accounting-related requirements of various funding sources.
  • Excellent cash management and analytical skills, grant and corporate budgeting experience, and annual audit management experience are required.
  • Collaborative team player with supervisory experience and excellent communication skills.
  • Proficient computer skills using accounting and spreadsheet software required; experience with Financial Edge a plus.
  • Working knowledge of the Uniform Guidance required.
  • Experience developing a federal indirect cost rate is also a plus.
Please submit cover letter and resumes to: emessier@cla-ma.org or mail to Eileen Messier, Human Resources Manager, Community Legal Aid, 405 Main Street, Worcester, Massachusetts 01608. EOE.
Net News: Aging Baby Boomers Becoming the New Face of Cannabis

This weekend,  there was an interesting article in the Worcester Telegram and Gazette about the dramatic rise in people over the age of 50 using marijuana to treat various disabilities.  Researchers in a 2015-16 survey that 9% of adults 50-64 and 2.9% over the age of 65 were now using marijuana.  Those usage rates were up 27% and 107% respectively, since a similar survey conducted in 2012-13.  You can read more here.
Net News: The New Threat Against the Americans with Disabilities Act

For the 29th anniversary of the ADA, the Boston Globe featured an editorial by Frederick M Misilo, the President of the Board of ARC of Massachusetts.  The editorial concentrated on two roadblocks to enforcement of the ADA which were put into place by the DOJ through a memorandum by former Attorney General, Jeff Sessions.  One is a limit on consent decrees and court enforced settlements.  Both tools must sunset (or disappear) after only three years.  Secondly, it requires that court monitors or independent reviewers change every two years.  This revolving door limits institutional memory.  For a good example of the value of length of service and institutional knowledge, we need only look at how long Judge King has been overseeing the MBTA settlement with BCIL. 

Net News: Meeting Your Hero, Priceless


A young boy with blond hair, missing a forearm, bumps the limb with a young woman wearing a light blue soccer shirt.  She also has a truncated forearm and is bumping her limb with his limb.  The young boy is smiling and the young woman has her mouth wide open as if saying something to the boy.

This picture to me personifies why children with disabilities must learn about their heroes.  The young woman is Carson Picketts a professional soccer player with the Orlando Pride.  Read the story here,  
Net News: Apple and Google Release Many New Emojis, Many Represent Us

If there is no sign or word to represent you, and your identity in a language, then you don't exist.  At the very least, it is hard to be represented.  Last week, Apple and Google both unveiled 60+ new emojis.  The new emojis include a wheelchair, a cane used by people with visual impairments, someone signing and several others representing people with disabilities.  You can read about it here in the Disabilityscoop.
Net News:  Judge Approves NYC Curb Cut Settlement

According to the Hill, Judge George B. Daniels accepted the court settlement between the City of New York and advocates.  The City has agreed to a schedule for for installing curb cuts at all 162,000 intersections in the city.  You can read about it here.
Net News: Commonwealth Shakespeare Company Announces Dates for Accessible Performances on Common

Commonwealth Shakespeare Company (CSC) is pleased to continue its Common Access Initiative as part of its 24th season of "Free Shakespeare on the Common." Cymbeline runs July 17 - August 4 on the Boston Common. CSC is committed to keeping theatre accessible - financially, geographically, and artistically - as well as inclusive for patrons of all abilities. CSC has offered at least one American Sign Language (ASL) performance nearly every season since its founding in 1996, and in recent years has had the opportunity to meaningfully expand its disability access programming and offerings. At every performance, there are reserved, accessible seating areas for patrons and their guests, in addition to complementary large-print programs and assisted listening devices.

Open Captioned performance: Friday, July 26 (Raindate: Sat, July 27)
Audio Described performance + Tactile Tour: Saturday, August 3 (3pm); (Raindate: Sun, Aug 4)

ASL Interpreted performances: Friday, Aug 2 + Saturday, August 3 (8pm); (Raindate: Sun, Aug 4)

Open-Captioning provided by c2 captioning service will be held on at Friday, July 26 at 8 pm.

Raindate will be Saturday, July 27 at 8pm. Equipment will be set-up of the house left side of the stage.

The Audio-Described performance with interpretation by Cori Couture and Andrea Doane will be held Saturday, August 3 at 3pm; Raindate will be Sunday, August 4 at 7pm. Headsets and Braille playbill will be made available for blind and low-vision patrons, and can be collected at the Information Tent to the left of the stage. In addition to the performance, there will be a free backstage, tactile tour for blind and low-vision patrons and their guests beginning at 1:45pm. No registration is necessary. Guests should meet at the Information Tent a few minutes before the tour is scheduled to begin. CSC staff will be on hand to help guide patrons on the tour.

The ASL-Interpreted performances will be held on Friday, August 2 and Saturday, August 3 at 8pm; Raindate will be Sunday, Aug 4 at 7pm. ASL Interpretation team will include Shana Gibbs as ASL Coach and Christopher Robinson will be returning as Lead Interpreter.

In addition to the programming listed above, there will be many services available at all performances to enhance the patron experience. ADA-compliant cable-guards have been purchased to make all pathways easier to navigate for patrons using wheelchairs and walkers, and there will be several seating areas designated throughout the Common for patrons using wheelchairs and their companions. Finally, large print programs and assisted listening devices will be available at all performances at the Information Tent.
In This Issue
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