January 22, 2018
Disability Policy Consortium Weekly Update


We want to remind you about a very important session this week on healthcare in Massachusetts.  Masshealh will be pushing members to join ACO's.  If you don't know what an ACO is join, us on Tuesday.

We have an editorial about one of the finalist for Commissioner of Education in Massachusetts.  Also news of an innovative advocacy victory that should increase housing for people with disabilities in Massachusetts.  

We have several great stories for you from across the Internet. 

As always happy reading.

John Winske
Disability Policy Consortium
DAAHR Forum:  ACO's and Your Healthcare  

When:  Tuesday, January 23, 2018, 1:30 - 3:30 P.M.

Where:  89 South Street, Boston, MA  02111

Meeting on ACOs, MassHealth, and What's Ahead in 2018
  • Will MassHealth's switch to Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) affect your care and services?
  • Will you have to switch doctors? 
  • Will peer supports and PCA services be impacted? 
  • Will you be able to see your specialist?
MassHealth is restructuring and consumers may find their care comes through Accountable Care Organizations. Join us to learn what's happening and what you need to know. And discuss what's ahead down in Washington.

For accommodations please contact Shaya French at BCIL at 617-338-6665.
Editorial: Special Ed. Delivery from Texas?Return to Sender!

This week the Massachusetts Department of Education announced three finalist for the position of Commissioner.  One of the finalist, Penny Schwinn, Deputy Commissioner for Academics, for Texas Education Agency (TEA) should be soundly rejected and sent back to Texas.

For the uninitiated, Texas does not have a sparkling reputation when it comes to serving children who need special education.  Texas has the lowest percentage of children in SPED in the entire United States.  Ms. Schwinn oversees the agency's policies on testing and academic programs, including special education.

How bad is Texas?  Thursday the U.S. Department of Education concluded "that Texas violated federal law by failing to ensure students with disabilities were properly evaluated and provided with an adequate public education" according to the Texas Tribune.  

It is alleged that Texas set a cap for children eligible for SPED services  at 8.4%.  There is plenty of information available, just check out Google.  How our Department of Education missed this information is unfathomable?

It is also alleged that Ms. Schwinn sole sourced a $2 million contract for data mining on SPED services.  That contract soured and left taxpayers holding the bag.

Massachusetts has a long history of leading on special education.  Ms Schwinn should withdraw her name immediately!  Governor Baker should wake up somebody at DOE before final interviews this week.   

John Winske
Advocacy Update:  BCIL/DPC Housing Advocacy Group Score Advocacy Win

Did you know that several years ago BCIL set up a housing advocacy group called HALT?  The Housing Advocacy Leadership Team has worked tirelessly to expand housing vouchers for people with disabilities.

Two years ago the DPC joined the effort.  This year, our advocates and members conducted a tireless campaign to restore funding to the Alternative Housing Voucher Program, (AHVP) which provides mobile rental vouchers to adults with disabilities under the age of 60. We shone a light on the way that the lack of funding and a static rent ceiling has made it difficult to find and keep housing. 

Thanks to the efforts of our members, advocates, coalition partners, and legislative sponsors, we secured an increase for AHVP despite the governor's veto, and put the needs of voucher holders at the fore of conversations about AHVP. 

Thanks in part to our efforts, Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) announced in a meeting with us last week that they will be raising the rental ceiling on AHVP vouchers for the first time in thirteen years, to 90% of fair market rent.  We thank them for this decision. 

In our skyrocketing rental market, voucher holders have been facing the threat of eviction as their rent surpasses the value of their voucher with no end in sight. Others have been unable to find any apartment within the rental cap in the allotted amount of time. 

This move by DHCD will guarantee that AHVP voucher holders can find and keep safe, affordable, accessible housing. Our priority, moving forward, will be increasing the number of AHVP vouchers to meet the housing needs of the thousand-plus people on the AHVP wait lists.

If you would like to join HALT please contact Shaya French at BCIL or me, Lenny Somervell at DPC.

Net News:  Lydia X.Z. Brown Wins AAPD Paul G. Hearne Award 

The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) has announced that Lydia X.Z. Brown is one of two winners of the Paul G. Hearne Award.  According to AAPD, "The award is named in honor of Paul G. Hearne, an advocate and visionary leader with a lifelong disability who achieved success as a nonprofit executive, foundation president, federal agency director, and mentor to countless people with disabilities. A passionate advocate for increased employment of people with disabilities, Paul opened doors for thousands through his leadership of Just One Break, an employment agency for people with disabilities in New York City, and The Dole Foundation for Employment of People with Disabilities in Washington, DC."

Two years ago Lydia was honored by the DPC.  We extend our congratulations to them on receiving this great honor.
Net News: Apple Technology and People with Visual Disabilities 

This is a fascinating and fairly long accessible video  (9 minutes).   It's about some rather powerful people with visual disabilities use technology to do their jobs.  I think you will find it captivating.  You can find the video here.
Net News: Real ID Coming to Massachusetts

Please be advised of the following upcoming requirements for identification at airport checkpoints.

The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles is changing the way all Massachusetts residents get and renew their driver's license and ID cards. Beginning March 26, 2018, customers will have to provide documents showing they are U.S. citizens or lawfully present in the United States. Then they can choose

· a Standard Massachusetts driver's license or ID card, or
· a REAL ID Massachusetts driver's license or ID card.

REAL ID is a federal security standard that was created in 2005 in response to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Massachusetts residents will not need a REAL ID until October 2020. If you have a valid passport you will never need a REAL ID.

Beginning October 2020, Massachusetts residents will need a passport, a REAL ID, or another type of TSA approved identification,( https://www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/identification) to board a plane in the U.S. or to enter certain federal buildings. The RMV encourages all customers to visit Mass.gov/REALID to learn more about REAL ID and for a step-by-step guide on if you will need a REAL ID.

The website www.mass.gov/REALID contains the following:
  • Information on what REAL ID is, when the requirement takes effect, and who will need to obtain one
  • A "REAL ID, Real Answers Wizard" is a tool customers can use to determine if a REAL ID is right for them
  • Links to the online license and ID card renewal transactions
  • Information about REAL ID for frequent travelers
  • Information about REAL ID for Non-U.S. citizens
  • A link for customers to check their U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) case status.
So if you plan to fly,  take a cruise or travel outside the United States make sure you check out this information.
Survey Opportunity:  Sexual Health Empowerment  

Easter Seals Massachusetts and a Northeastern University student are developing a workshop designed to bring about sexual health empowerment for young women with disabilities.  They have asked us to help  distribute the survey.  If you are a young woman with a disability, please fill out the survey and make your voice heard.  You can find the survey here.
Scholarship Opportunity:  Microsoft disAbility Scholarship  

It is that time of year again.  it's time to apply for college and find scholarships.  Microsoft is one organization that targets students with disabilities in their funding opportunities.  You can learn more here.
Nomination Opportunity: Last Call MCDHH Awards

The Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing is seeking nominations for several awards to be presented at their State House Day on March 8th. The nomination deadline is approaching quickly; they are due on January 25th. Please review the attached forms and consider nominating someone.

Sarah Stone | Acting Director
Universal Newborn Hearing Screening Program
Department of Public Health
250 Washington Street, 5th Floor
Boston, MA 02108
617-624-5912 (Phone)
617-994-9822 (Fax)
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