Disability Policy Consortium Weekly Update
Hopefully you and your loved ones had a fantastic Independence Day! It's nice to have a break, and a chance to celebrate our country and all the ways in which independence is precious to us.
In honor of the holiday, we have a personal reflection on the nature of independence for you this week. There is also an update on our fundraising campaign, a tribute to the disability rights activists who we tragically lost this week, and two pieces of national political news related to people with disabilities.
(Also, congratulations to the U.S. Women's National Team for winning the World Cup! We were certainly cheering yesterday.)
Thank you, as always, for your support of DPC.
All our best,
DPC Update: Help us reach our goal!
Last week, on my first day as executive director, I came to you with an exciting announcement, and a request for your help. Thanks to some generous supporters, any funds we can raise in July up to $1000 will be matched dollar for dollar. One week in, and thanks to many of your generosity we're at $455 raised, almost half way to our goal!
Thank you so much to everyone who has contributed. We don't have to tell you how important it is that DPC be able to continue being a strong and genuinely independent work on behalf of people with disabilities across our state and our country. Your support pays the salaries for our organizers, and makes sure we can always afford to speak up honestly about what our community needs.
If you haven't given yet, please do if you can. Whether it's one dollar or two hundred, having your support would mean so much to us, and this week it will go twice as far. We're proud to be an organization that stands up for our community, and it's an honor and a privilege to have our community support us.
Executive Director, DPC
Editorial: Our Kind of Independence
Last week, we celebrated the beginning of a revolution that brought about independence for a nation. But while July 4th celebrates the particular uprising that began in 1776, there are many independence days all over the world-days when groups of people celebrate winning the right to decide for themselves how they could live, what they could believe in, and what they might be capable of. For people with disabilities in this country, we could have our choice of independence days. The 26th of this month is ADA Day, commemorating the biggest single step towards independence in the history of our community. April 5th marks the anniversary of the 504 Sit-In, arguably the Lexington and Concord of the fight for disability rights-the moment the country first took notice of the disability rights revolution. Or we could choose to commemorate the founding in April 1972 of the first Center for Independent Living in Berkeley, the moment when people with disabilities in this country publicly articulated a vision for our own liberation-a world without institutions in which everyone's needs could be met.
Which date we might pick, however, is less important I think than what a Disability Independence Day might teach our fellow citizens about the true meaning of independence. Too often, we act in this country as though being independent means being isolated, doing everything for ourselves. Not needing other people is seen as a sign of strength, or competence, or even morality. In point of fact, however, the rugged individualist is mostly fiction; we live in a society, and all of us depend upon our fellow human beings for our well-being. Acknowledging that need, and striving to meet each others needs more fully, allows us to make the world healthier, more supportive, and more vibrant.
One thing I love about the disability community is that it offers a very different, and far more human idea of what it means to be independent. The Independence of the Independent Living Movement is not about the ability to do things on your own. It is, instead, about the ability to decide for yourself what is done to, for, and with you. Independence, for us, is a matter of dignity and of consent. So long as we control and direct it, receiving help does not make us less independent, it makes us more independent, because it makes us more able to reach our goals and live our lives in the way we would wish to.
This week, as you return to work, or as you go about your life in the community, why don't we think about how we can help support the independence of the people around us? Such help does not need to be physical. Lending a sympathetic ear to a friend who is having a difficult time supports their independence. Guiding someone to resources supports their independence. Speaking up for the programs that help those who are most disadvantaged find support to break out of poverty and find opportunity supports independence. And, perhaps most of all, taking a stand when we see people in our midst held down or detained unjustly absolutely supports independence. When you can give help, please give it. When you need help, please ask for it. Together, we can all help each other achieve independence.
All the best to you and yours,
In Praise of Absent Friends
This has sadly been a tragic week for our community, as several major disability rights activists passed away. Some of you our there will have known them personally, but a great many will have felt the impact of their work, and they will be sorely missed.
Bill Peace was a nationally-known disability rights advocate who fought in the field of bioethics for the basic principle that the lives of people with disabilities are worth living. He challenged ableist dogmas and fought the idea that any member of our community should be given up on. Outrageously, it appears that his insurance company refusing to value his life by covering the therapeutic bed he needed may have directly contributed to his passing. Stories like these are why DPC is fighting so hard against metrics that devalue the lives of people with disabilities. You can read a lovely tribute to Bill here: http://alexschadenberg.blogspot.com/2019/07/bill-peace-professor-who-professed.html
Our thoughts go out to all their families and
Employment: Investigator, Disability Law Center
Position: Investigator - Representative Payee Program
Reports To: Director of Advocacy
Wage Class: Exempt
DLC seeks a detail-oriented investigator who is committed to the rights of people with disabilities living in the community and in institutional settings; who possesses strong interpersonal skills to interview people with disabilities, providers and family members in the community; and, who is able to work with financial data and written procedures to assure that people with disabilities are protected from exploitation or financial mismanagement.
The general responsibility of the Investigator is to conduct reviews of Social Security Administration Representative Payees. This includes interviewing beneficiaries and Representative Payees, documenting observations, reviewing financial records, identifying possible health or safety violations and drafting reports. The position also includes educating Representative Payees to ensure that they fully understand their duties and responsibilities.
The Social Security Administration appoints Representative Payees for Social Security beneficiaries who SSA has determined are incapable of managing their own funds.
Responsibilities and Duties
- Conduct site reviews, investigations and educational visits with individual and organizational representative payees throughout the state, following strict timelines and site visit procedures.
- Interview representative payees, beneficiaries, and others, in a variety of settings including private homes and institutions.
- Examine financial records and document observations to assess violations or potential incidents of mismanagement of beneficiary funds.
- Verify representative payees are using SSA benefits properly on behalf of beneficiaries, as well as correctly executing all other representative payee duties.
- Prepare comprehensive reports detailing the investigation, findings, and recommendations.
- Develop corrective action plans to assist representative payees in conforming to requirements specified by the Social Security Administration Commissioner.
- Develop training and education materials and conduct training and outreach activities following SSA protocols, as needed.
- Analyze trends and data from investigations and monitoring activities to determine if they present systemic issues which may be appropriate for DLC to address, and, with the Rep Payee Manager, formulate strategies for their prevention, reduction or elimination.
- Manage caseload in a timely manner, following all Social Security guidelines regarding procedural steps and deadlines.
- Attend meetings of consumer groups, service providers, and other appropriate bodes as requested.
- Document activities in accordance with agency policies.
- Perform other duties, as required.
Opportunity: Become a Paid Community Evaluator
From: Debra Bercuvitz, MPH, Director, FIRST (Families in Recovery SupporT) Steps Together, Coordinator, Perinatal Substance Use Initiative, Division of Pregnancy, Infancy, and Early Childhood Bureau of Family Health and Nutrition, MA Department of Public Health
In the Bureau of Family Health and Nutrition, we partner frequently with TIER (Tufts Interdisciplinary Evaluation Research), especially for evaluations and needs assessments. TIER hopes to build evaluation capacity in the diverse communities with which they work by training and mentoring community members to advise and co-conduct their evaluations with them. By partnering with community members, it is their hope that TIER's research will contribute to program and policy solutions that authentically represent communities' goals and aspirations.
To begin this process, TIER is launching a Community Evaluators (CEs) project as part of an evaluation they are conducting for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH). After participating in a two-day training on participatory research approaches at Tufts University, CEs will be responsible, with support from TIER staff, for organizing, co-facilitating, and analyzing data from a focus group to be held in their respective community. TIER staff will also consult with the CEs on other evaluation activities to ensure that interpretation of findings is valid and useful from their important perspectives. Participating CEs will each receive a $3,000 stipend to attend the training and conduct the focus group, as described above. TIER will also cover lodging and travel costs (if any) and provide childcare during evening trainings, meetings, and focus groups. More information on this project and the TIER CE model can be found on:
https://sites.google.com/view/tier-community-evaluators/home. The long-term goal is for the trained CEs to join the TIER Community Advisory Board, and continue to work with them on evaluations and research projects into the future.
They are currently recruiting potential CE candidates and I am working on recruiting Community Evaluators from Western MA so that the needs of our region are represented. They do not have applicants yet from Western MA. They are also looking for more male applicants, people in recovery, and people of color. Ideal candidates would be actively involved in their local communities and have some experience with advocacy as a participant and/or program staff. Above all, they are looking for individuals that care deeply about families, children, and youth. Absolutely no prior evaluation or research experience is necessary. Potential candidates are required to complete an online application, which can be found here
. They are accepting applications until July 30, 2019. They will only have 10 CEs in this first cohort, and will accept applications on a rolling basis.
If you know of a potential candidate, I am hoping you would be willing to share with them the attached recruitment flyer as well as the website information. I am also hoping that you can send this email from you to folks with whom you work. If you have any questions, Melissa will follow up with you or any members of your staff or members.
Let me know if you pursue this!
Risa Silverman, M.P.H.
Director, Office for Public Health Practice & Outreach;
Adjunct Faculty, Department of Health Policy and Promotion
School of Public Health and Health Sciences
715 N. Pleasant Street, 244 Arnold House
University of Massachusetts
Amherst, MA 01003
Community News: MBTA System Wide Access Update
Dear Friends of SWA,
We're heading into summer with several news items to share, including ways that you can participate in SWA!
1. Get caught up on our latest projects
We're pleased to present our
biannual SWA Initiatives report for June 2019
. This report represents a fresh new format for a fresh set of accessibility projects--selected, as always, based on customer feedback and priorities identified by SWA. We hope you're as excited about them as we are!
2. Help design new trainings for front-line staff
We've begun working with Operations to upgrade our accessibility trainings for bus operators and station agents. The inclusion of real customer voices and experiences in these trainings is vital. With that goal in mind, SWA is looking for customers with disabilities to participate by appearing in a photo and/or video shoot. Please contact us at
3. Apply to become an Internal Access Monitor
We're recruiting customers with and without disabilities for our Internal Access Monitoring Program. Internal Access Monitors work in two-person teams documenting their experience riding bus, subway, Commuter Rail, and ferry. Candidates should be familiar with and comfortable using the MBTA fixed-route system. See the
attached flyer for further details
4. Check out our newest elevators
We're always happy to be able to announce new elevators--and for the first time ever, two elevators connecting the Orange Line Oak Grove and Red Line Alewife platforms are operating at Downtown Crossing! The elevators went into service on Monday.
Please feel free to circulate this e-mail among your networks. Thank you for reading!
The SWA Team
Net News: 2020 Democratic Candidates Answer Questions on Disability
Although it's frustrating that disability rights issues didn't come up in any of the questions raised in the first Democratic debate, that doesn't mean they aren't a campaign issue. The Disability Rights Center-New Hampshire reached out the the candidates in the Democratic Primary to get their positions on disability issues, and you can see their answers
Net News: Disabled Federal Employees being Fired?
While this article came out a couple of weeks ago, we wanted to be sure you saw it here. Allegedly, the federal government is falling short of its obligation to be a model employer, both by hiring too few people with disabilities and by disproportionately firing existing disabled employees. More details
Calendar: 24th Annual Deaf Awareness Day at Six Flag New England
When: Saturday, August 3, 2019, Ticket Booths Open 9:00 A.M. to 4 P.M.
Rides and Waterpark Only
Tickets are $39 per person, Children under 2 are Free!
| DPC Needs your Help!!!
The DPC uses the PayPal PayFast system for your tax deductible charitable donations. You do not need to have a PayPal account to use this system because credit card payments are also accepted.
The DPC also uses the Causes program for recurring donations (as well as one time donations). This is a great way to make a smaller monthly donation.
Donate by Mail
Make check or money order payable to:
Disability Policy Consortium
11 Dartmouth Street
Malden, MA 02148