Disability Policy Consortium Weekly Update
big week is here. At the
DPC Fifth Annual Reception and Awards Ceremony, this Thursday, we will honor Heather Watkins, Jim Kruidenier and Christine Griffin. Never have we honored such a powerful trio of human rights advocates with disabilities. Their work transcends our little slice of the social justice struggle.
We still have tickets available You
can buy your tickets or make a donation here
. We look forward to seeing you there. If you cannot join us, we invite you to watch on Facebook Live. Please join us at around 6:20 and use the hashtag #DPCAwards.
We have a guest editorial on HR 620 from Christine Griffin, perhaps you have heard of her. In other news, our calendar section is jam packed as everyone tries to hold their event before winter arrives.
As always happy reading.
Disability Policy Consortium
Editorial: Tell Congress, Vote No on HR 620
I have been a wheelchair user for 37 years. I didn't become a disability rights activist until a year after the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed in 1990 despite having had a disability for 10 years. This new law propelled me in my wheelchair into a career I never saw coming. I entered law school in 1990 with a different type of law practice in mind. I was an engineer and I had patent law in my sights. But it was a legal internship that gave me the opportunity to learn about the ADA. Tom O'Neill, Speaker Tip O'Neill's son, asked me to learn everything I could about this new law and tell him how it would impact his clients. I was lucky enough, with his help, to get into the EEOC/DOJ sponsored ADA Network training and that summer opened up a new world to me. I met the best advocates with disabilities from across the country and I fell in love with a law. I returned to law school knowing I would be part of a national effort that would help shape this new comprehensive civil rights law called the ADA.
While I have seen access to many places increase over the past 37 years, I become alarmed when I see any attempt to push disability rights backwards. Title III of the ADA currently requires businesses to remove architectural barriers, provide accessible parking if they provide parking for their patrons, etc. The ADA turned 27 years old on July 26th but the filing of HR 620 proves that the fight for our rights never ends no matter how old the law may be. Despite the "helpful" sounding title of this bill, the ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017, the only people it helps are business owners; not the people whose rights continue to be violated. These business owners have made a decision to refuse to comply with Title III of the ADA and when sued about their non-compliance, they convince their legislator to file a bill allowing them "more time" because 27 years isn't enough.
I will never forget the first time we saw a bill like this filed by Florida Congressman Foley, the ADA Notification Act of 2000. Foley received support for his efforts from someone who wasn't even his constituent but applauded the ADA Notification bill Foley filed, Clint Eastwood. Yup, that's right, movie actor and director, Clint Eastwood. Eastwood at the time, owned a hotel/resort that had access problems. The suit filed against him was brought by a couple with disabilities under California Law and it was reported that Eastwood ended up spending more money opposing the complaint than it would have taken him to fix the access issues. A jury found him liable for non-compliance. This lawsuit pushed him into the national spotlight as a big supporter of the ADA Notification bill. Eastwood even showed up in DC for the Committee hearing on the bill and testified extra time was necessary for all small business owners who wanted to do the right thing but just weren't aware of their legal obligations. So like him, he argued, they shouldn't be punished by having complaints filed against them and the ADA should be changed. He even went on the Chris Matthews show that night and said that the reason the unemployment of people with disabilities was so high was because Hollywood celebrities like him aren't asked to do PSAs saying "Hire the Handicapped" anymore. I have a hard time watching anything he is in or makes to
And while that first bill went no-where in 2000, others were filed and frankly we, as a community began to become complacent because the subsequent ADA Notification bills as they became known, went no-where too. It wasn't that long ago that I predicted the same for HR 620 and then it began gaining steam in Congress. I am now advocating for a change in our approach and it doesn't include blaming the attorneys who file large numbers of complaints in various states and cities. While we may disagree with their style and ultimate settlement deals, the facts are that they have clients with disabilities who have every right to file a complaint and the complaints themselves are dead on black and white ADA Title III complaints. The business owner either has compliant parking spaces or doesn't. The business owner either has an entrance that complies or doesn't. It is as simple as that. And you can drive around every city or town in this country without ever leaving your vehicle and document plenty of examples of businesses that are non-compliant with simple Title III requirements that most likely are readily achievable. In addition, there are plenty of free resources available to these businesses explaining the law and how they can comply with it. Besides the ADA Network Centers, every Better Business Bureau or other business association is well informed and able to help. In fact, when I was attending the ADA Network Training mentioned above, other disability rights activists, including Itzhak Perlman, were making Government funded training materials and videos for businesses to educate them about their obligations under the law. Free education for businesses has been available since the law became effective in 1992. The fact that a business waits for a complaint to drop before deciding what to do is just plain stupid and my rights should not be diminished because they want to wait for the lawsuit before complying. Would they wait for a health inspection before complying with health related rules? Would a business owner get lots more time to comply with non-compliance of food related laws while staying open and serving customers? I don't think so. So why should these business owners get more time to comply with the ADA if HR 620 passes?
Supporters of HR 620 will tell you the bill only makes minor changes to the ADA. Not true. HR 620 removes any incentive that currently exists for a business to comply proactively. This bill will reward those who have waited for a complaint to be filed by requiring someone like me to give the business owner what could be unlimited time to provide access. If this law is passed, business owners won't face any penalty as long as a person with a disability goes through an elaborate notification process beginning with filing a very specific complaint with the business owner, wait 60 days for a response and another 120 days for removal of the barrier to access before going to court. After that, if the business owner claims he/she is making "substantial progress" toward access, whatever that means, the wait for access to that business may be a lot longer. Is this really what we have waited 27 years for? No it isn't.
A vote on the house floor on this bill is imminent. So, I am asking all of my fellow disability rights activists and your family and friends to start emailing, tweeting and calling your Congressmen and Congresswomen right now to tell them to vote no on HR 620 and to insist that they ensure that our rights to equal access to all businesses open to the public are maintained and protected.
Do it now!!!
Call the Capitol at (202) 224-3121.
Your Message is: Vote NO on HR 620, the "ADA Education and Reform Act,"
Tweet your member of congress:
#Disability rights = civil rights!
Protect the #ADA,
Vote NO on #HR620!
Advocacy Opportunity: Certified Peer Specialist Training
We are excited to share that the next CPS Training will take place in:
Bedford, MA - Beginning January 25, 2018.
Information regarding training dates, class location, and interview deadlines is now posted on our website.
Please feel free to pass this e-mail along to others you think would be interested in applying.
Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital
200 Springs Road
Bedford, MA 01730
Interviews are required. To request an interview, please e-mail
DEADLINE TO REQUEST AN INTERVIEW - OCTOBER 31, 2017.
Visit our website (look under the training tab) for Certified Peer Specialist Training (CPS).
Scholarship Opportunity: Baer Reintegration Scholarship 2018-2019
Reintegration is an achievable goal and dreams are possible for those who have been touched by mental illness. The Center for Reintegration together with the Sidney R. Baer Jr. Foundation will continue to offer the Baer Reintegration Scholarship for those active in their recovery. The scholarship applications are generally available from October to January each year, and eligible applicants are invited to apply.
The scholarships cover a part or all of an education ranging from G.E.D. to Ph.D. The Sidney R. Baer, Jr. Foundation supports the efforts of organizations working to stimulate education, research and direct care in the mental health field. A businessman and consultant, Mr. Baer personally faced mental health challenges during his lifetime and sought to alleviate the suffering of those living with mental illness. Though he attended Yale University, he was unable to complete his studies, so he returned to his hometown of St. Louis where he worked in the family business, the department store Stix, Baer & Fuller. Through his hard work, he was able to increase the family fortune and upon his death left it in trust to be distributed to programs that serve the mission of reintegration.
We at the Center for Reintegration are proud to partner with the Baer Foundation.
For questions regarding the scholarship, please contact
About the Baer Scholarship
Who can apply for a Baer Reintegration Scholarship?
These scholarships are for persons with schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, or bipolar disorder.
- Applicants must be currently receiving medical treatment for the illness, including medications and psychiatric follow-up.
- Be actively involved in rehabilitative or reintegrative efforts, such as clubhouse membership, part-time work, volunteer efforts or school enrollment or in competitive employment.
- Complete an application package that includes an application form, essay, transcripts (if applicable), recommendation forms from three references and school financial requirements.
What educational opportunities does the scholarship support?
The Reintegration Scholarship program is designed to offer financial assistance for a wide range of educational opportunities in which students work to attain a certificate or degree.* Eligible programs include:
High school equivalency programs
Trade or vocational school programs
* Please note, noncredit, online and distance learning courses are not covered under the scholarship.
with further questions. Note all questions and correspondence regarding the Baer Scholarship Program are through email only.
Calendar: Notice of Proposed Hearing Customized Wheelchair Arbitration
Notice of Public Hearing
Pursuant to the provisions of M.G.L., c. 93, §107 and in accordance with M.G.L., c. 30A, a public hearing will be held on Wednesday, October 18, 2017, at 10:00 a.m., 10 Park Plaza, 2nd Floor, Conference Rooms 2 and 3, Boston, Massachusetts 02116 at which the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation will receive oral comments relative to the promulgation of the proposed regulation 201 CMR 13.00: Customized Wheelchair Arbitration.
The purpose of 201 CMR 13.00
: Customized Wheelchair Arbitration is to implement M.G.L., c. 93, §107 and provide procedures for the operation of a state-administered customized wheelchair arbitration program within the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation to consider disputes arising from a consumer's private purchase or lease of a new, but defective, customized wheelchair when the consumer has paid all or some costs out of pocket. The regulation provides the requirements for arbitration requests and the procedural options available to the parties and the arbitrator. It also sets forth requirements for manufacturers, retailers, and lessors and includes an enforcement provision at the discretion of the MA Attorney General.
Changes to the proposed regulation may be made based on comments received at the public hearing or during the comment period.
Written comments may be submitted to the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation, 501 Boylston Street, Suite 5100, Boston, MA 02116 or at
until 5:00 p.m. on Friday, October 20, 2017. A copy of the proposed regulation is available at, and copies may be obtained from, the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation or at www.mass.gov/ocabr.
Lemon Law Program Coordinator
Office of Consumer Affairs & Business Regulation
10 Park Plaza Room 5170
Boston, MA 02116
Calendar: White Cane Safety Day at the State House
When: Monday, October 23, 2017, 10:00 A.M. - Noon
Where: Grand Hall, Massachusetts State House, Boston,
24 Beacon St., Boston 02133
Ride Drop drop off area at 126 Bowdoin St.
October 15 is White Cane Safety Day. This year's State House celebration will take place on Monday, October 23, (see below for more details.)
Please Come to Celebrate
International White Cane Day
Celebrate the independence of white canes and raise public awareness of the White Cane Law!
Show Your Independence!
White Cane & Guide Dog Users Bring Family, Friends, Orientation & Mobility Specialists, Vision Professionals, and Others to raise White Cane Awareness!
For more information on this Celebration or to request an accommodation, contact the Orientation and Mobility, Department at the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind
617-626-7581 or 800-392-6450 x626-7581 before 10/10/17
Massachusetts White Cane Law: General Law Chapter 90 Section 14A Stop for White Cane and Dog Guide Users at Street Crossings-It's the LAW!
Calendar: Getting Involved in Local Government: An Interactive Workshop on Title II of the ADA
When: Tuesday, October 24th, from 2 - 4 pm
Where: Boston City Hall, 5th Floor
This event aims to break down barriers that keep people with disabilities from participating in civic processes.
Some of the interactive activities will include:
* Register to vote
* Try out a voting booth
* Demo the the AUTOmark machine
* Learn ways to testify at a hearing
* Find your polling place
* Meet your City Councilor
* Speak to City Officials about disability concerns
* Apply to serve on a City Board or Commission
* And lots more!
This event is free and open to all, although it will be especially valuable for individuals with disabilities, elders, family members, transition-age youth (ages 18-24), disabled veterans, immigrants & new residents of Boston, professionals in the disability field, and anyone else who is involved with the disability community!
I'd like to ask you to send the attached flyer to your contact lists - we're hoping for a great turnout!
Commissioner Kristen McCosh
Mayor's Commission for Persons with Disabilities
Calendar: World of Careers
When: Thursday, November 16, 10:00 A.M. - 2:30 P.M.
Where: District Hall, 75 Northern Avenue, Boston, MA 02210
Our Space Our Place and its partners are very excited to announce the World of Careers Workshop.
This workshop is for students and adults with disabilities who want to know more about the types of jobs in the working world and who want to figure out how to use their interests and experiences to get a job.
Attend the World of Careers workshop and learn
- About the many types of jobs which exists
- Meet people working today and ask them questions about how they got their job and what they do every day at work and
- Work together with others to find out how your interests and skills can assist you to find a job
Light breakfast and lunch will be available.
Please let us know about your accommodation needs by Thursday October 26, 2017
To get more information:
Call: (617) 459-4084
To register for World of Careers workshop
Reader's digest- Partners for Sight Foundation
Calendar: Open Captioned/ASL Interpreted The Color Purple
When: Tuesday, November 28, 2017, 7:30 P.M.
Where: The Boch Center, Shubert Theater
2016 Tony Winner Best Musical Revival
Purchase tickets today for the ASL Interpreted / Open Captioned performance of The Color Purple. All seats are located in the Orchestra (floor level) and are in direct sight line of the ASL Interpreter.
The Color Purple is the 2016 Tony Award® winner for Best Musical Revival! Hailed as "a direct hit to the heart" (The Hollywood Reporter), this joyous American classic has conquered Broadway in an all-new "ravishingly reconceived production that is a glory to behold" (The New York Times) directed by Tony winner John Doyle.
With a soul-raising score of jazz, gospel, ragtime and blues, The Color Purple gives an exhilarating new spirit to this Pulitzer Prize-winning story.
Don't miss this stunning re-imagining of an epic story about a young woman's journey to love and triumph in the American South. It's the musical sensation that New York Magazine calls "one of the greatest revivals ever." Experience the exhilarating power of this Tony winning
Tickets are $46.50
| 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