October 2, 2017
Disability Policy Consortium Weekly Update


We have a slightly shortened version of our newsletter this week, however the articles are longer so hopefully it evens out.

The Ride is still struggling to bring the dispatching and reservation service up to acceptable standards.  The press is noticing.  Meanwhile there is word that self-driving cars could be on the road in our state within a year.  If they are for public use, how will they ensure equal access?  No one seems to have the answer yet.

We also are sharing a call for abstracts that caught our attention.

Lastly, a gentle reminder!  O ur Annual Reception and Awards Ceremony is October, 12th.  You can buy your tickets, place an ad or make a donation here .  We look forward to seeing you there.
As always happy reading.

John Winske
Disability Policy Consortium
Net News: The Ride Still Having Problems

Last Monday, the Boston Globe ran a story about the problems being confronted by Global Contact Services.  This is the company hired by the MBTA to consolidate scheduling and dispatching of para-transit services.  You can read the story here.
Net News: Self Driving Cars Possibly Coming to Boston Soon, But Will They Be Accessible?

In September on a voice vote the U.S. House passed H.R. 3388, The SELF DRIVE Act, intending to make it easier for autonomous vehicles to take the road.  However the House did not address discrimination against people with disabilities.

The American Foundation for the Blind sent the following letter to the ranking members of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation

September 6, 2017

The Honorable John Thune

The Honorable Bill Nelson

Re: Support for Senate Commerce Committee autonomous vehicle legislation; insufficiency of H.R. 3388.

Dear Chairman Thune and Ranking Member Nelson:

On behalf of the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) and the more than 23 million adult Americans living with vision loss for whom, following Helen Keller's legacy, we advocate for a world with no limits, I write to urge your continued leadership in refining and speedily acting upon autonomous vehicle legislation which truly meets the needs, and acknowledges the capabilities, of people with disabilities, including people who are blind, visually impaired, or deafblind. It has been our privilege to work closely with your staff this year to develop draft bipartisan legislation which we believe meets these critical criteria, and we urge the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation to complete this work and act promptly and favorably on the bill.

In a world with no limits, people with vision loss will be able to benefit from the independence, employment opportunity, self-determination, social participation and mobility that so-called driverless cars have to offer. However, this will only happen if we act now to clear the public policy roadway of readily removable technological obstructions and the debris of disability stereotypes and misconceptions that are currently in the way. The legislation that we have been working with your staff to develop will, we believe, address these most critical policy challenges in the autonomous vehicle space for people with disabilities.

In order to have meaningful access to autonomous vehicles, people with disabilities must be able to enter, maneuver within, and exit vehicles, and they must be able to properly interact with vehicles' user interface and related features. Additionally, in carrying out their traditional role to set the minimum requirements for and limits on driver licensure, states must do their part to exercise such authority untainted by paternalism or outmoded stereotypes and in a manner that ensures full and equal protection of the constitutional right of all people with disabilities to travel. Thanks to the leadership which you and your staff have been demonstrating in the development of your autonomous vehicle legislation, these matters are on the right road toward the deliberation and consensus building upon which sound public policy making depends.

While, as of this writing, the House is expected to take immediate action on its approach to autonomous vehicle legislation (H.R. 3388), we nevertheless urge you to press ahead with the development and consideration of a measure that more appropriately responds to the disability community and that clearly tackles the most significant policy barriers. Unlike the approach which you and your staff have been developing, H.R. 3388 makes mere cursory reference to disability-related concerns and provides little incentive for support from our community given its hesitance to address the most critical issues through a well-defined, outcomes oriented process. It is also particularly disappointing, and a bit disturbing, to see some leading proponents of H.R. 3388 playing heartstrings and emotionally exploiting the bill's alleged tremendous promise for people with disabilities while H.R. 3388's disability-related provisions, such as they are, remain so vacuous. What an incredible missed opportunity that has left people with disabilities hitch hiking for a legislative vehicle heading in the right direction.

Again, thank you for your much-needed leadership, and we continue to stand ready to be of assistance to you and your staff to put well-crafted public policy before the Senate that both accelerates industry innovation and turbocharges the independence of people with disabilities.


Mark Richert, Esq.
Director, Public Policy
American Foundation for the Blind
(202) 469-6833
Advocacy Opportunity: Call for Abstracts "Beyond Disadvantage: Disability Law and Bioethics 

Submission deadline is October 15th

"We seek proposals that offer innovative conceptualizations and advance inventive approaches. Proposals should focus on the fresh contributions the presentation will make, including sketches of the supporting arguments. The abstract should include (but not be limited to) a paragraph summarizing the issue that will be addressed and any currently contending views about its resolution. Successful abstracts will explicitly address how the proposed presentation will address the challenges of integrating legal and medical understandings of disablement.

We welcome submissions on both broad conceptual questions and more specific policy issues related to the "mere difference" vs. "bad difference" debate. 

Potential topics include:
  • Can disability be considered definitively bad, without defining living with a disability as inescapably disadvantageous?
  • Can we ameliorate mismatches between the capabilities of people living with disabilities and the socially constructed environment without seeming to privilege them?
  • Do the kinds of human diversity that disablement represents threaten the species or harm society? Can they improve the human species or benefit society?
  • (How) are bioethicists obligated to represent or at least respect the standpoints of people with disabilities?
  • Does the U.S. Supreme Court characterize and categorize disability correctly in the seminal equal protection case, Cleburne v. Cleburne Living Center? How can we reconcile making special or individualized arrangements to avoid excluding individuals based on disability with equal opportunity and equal protection?
  • Do different agencies' and programs' diverse definitions of disability-for example, that for some programs medical diagnoses suffice for disability status while others demand demonstrations of severe dysfunction-undercut efforts to address disability discrimination?
  • What is the standard for people with disabilities having meaningful access to health care? What is the minimum standard for people with disabilities' access to health care below which denial of care equates to disability discrimination?
  • How may protections against disability discrimination-especially claims to civil rights or human rights-most effectively be made operative in the medical clinic?
  • Can the processes for accommodating disabilities be secured against fraud?
  • How should the impact of differences due to disability affect the way the competence of people with disabilities for accepting or rejecting treatment is assessed? How might new technologies affect courts' determinations in this regard?
  • What progress has been made in increasing the proportion of medical professionals with disabilities and what steps are needed to speed this effort?
  • (How) should people with disabilities' inability to achieve normal functioning affect their priority for scarce or expensive health care?
  • Given the current state of data about their risks of morbidity, should lifesaving interventions for extremely preterm infants be harder to obtain than for other babies?
  • Can Disability Pride be as effective for "destigmatizing" as earlier expressions of pride made by social movements such as those advanced by the LGBTQi, Women's, or other 
  • groups?
Please note that this list is not meant to be exhaustive; we hope to receive abstracts related to the conference's central question even if the particular topic was not specifically listed here. Proposals should demonstrate a clear linkage to all three aspects of the conference-disability, bioethics, and law. Papers that focus on ethics should include substantial discussion of policy implications. Relatedly, law will be treated broadly to include governmental policy decisions more generally. Successful abstracts will propose or outline an argument/position, rather than merely stating a topic.
In an effort to encourage interdisciplinary and international dialogue, we welcome submissions from legal scholars and lawyers, bioethicists, philosophers, clinicians, medical researchers, disability rights advocates, public health practitioners, behavioral economists, government officials and staff, and others who have a meaningful contribution to make on this topic. We welcome philosophical and legal reflections from contributors across the world, but these submissions should be general or United States- focused rather than comparative in nature. We welcome submissions from advocacy organizations, think tanks, and others outside academia, but emphasize that this is a scholarly conference, and abstracts/papers will be held to academic standards of argumentation and support.

How to Participate:

If you are interested in participating, please send a 1-page abstract of the paper you would plan to present to petrie-flom@law.harvard.edu as soon as possible, but not later than October 15, 2017. If your abstract is selected, your final paper will be due on April 1, 2018, and you will be assigned a presentation slot for the conference. Please note that all presenters must provide a full final draft in order to participate and that presenters are expected to attend the conference for its full duration. We will accept conference papers of all lengths and styles (e.g., law review, medical, philosophy, or policy journal, etc.), but presentations will be limited to 15 minutes. The conference will be held on Friday, June 1, 2018. We will pay travel expenses for presenters who must travel to Cambridge; co-authored papers must name a single presenter.

In the past, we have successfully turned several of our conferences into edited volumes (e.g., with Cambridge, MIT, Johns Hopkins, and Columbia University presses). It is possible, although not guaranteed, that conference presenters will publish their papers with us in an edited volume whose chapters will be limited to 5,000 words, including references. Previous conference participants have been able to publish their submissions in different formats in multiple venues, for example both as a short book chapter and a longer law review article. However, the version that will be used for an edited volume should not have been published previously or be planned to publish separately.

How to Register:
Registration information will be available here in early 2018. Attendance is free and open to the public, but space is limited. Stay tuned for the conference agenda, which will be posted here once abstracts have been selected.


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
Lisa Weber
Lemon Law Program Coordinator
Office of Consumer Affairs & Business Regulation
10 Park Plaza Room 5170
Boston, MA 02116
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.

Cost: Free

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
Email: President@ourspaceourplace.org
To register for World of Careers workshop

Reader's digest- Partners for Sight Foundation

Boston Center for Blind Children

Our Space Our Place, Inc.
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

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