March 18, 2019
Disability Policy Consortium Weekly Update

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This week we begin with a Vlog introduction from Steven A. Florio, the new commissioner of MCDHH.  We welcome him to he Commonwealth and are pleased with his push for openness and communication.

Moving right along, it's rant time.  You know that we try and choose stories that belong together or express a theme.  Three of this weeks stories have to do with the criminalization of disability.  The first story of this t heme is about our fair State using a prison environment to treat people with addiction.  Secondly, comes a story about parents faking a disability for their child, who doesn't have one.  Which only makes it far more difficult when someone legitimately needs accommodations.  Lastly, is a story about the Trump Administration's plans to monitor our use of Facebook to ensure we aren't faking our disability.  Just great.  Rant over.

We have some happier reading for you this week too.  

Until next week, happy reading. 

John Winske
Disability Policy Consortium
Community News:  Introductory VLog from MCDHH Commissioner Steven A. Florio  

In a very positive sign, new MCDHH Commissioner Florio has sent our an inaugural VLog (Video Blog).

Some VLog highlights are the FY20 budget and information on scheduling events with community members.

We are pleased to share this with you here.
Community News: Lawsuit Alleges Bias in Civil Commitment for Addiction  

There is no disputing that the Baker Administration has moved aggressively to increase treatment for addiction in the Commonwealth.  But a problem lies in our continued reliance on the prison environments for treating addiction.  According to a story in the Boston Globe, ten men who have been civilly committed for treatment have now filed a lawsuit against the Commonwealth under the Americans with Disabilities (ADA) and other laws.  These are individuals who are living with a disability.  We are the only State remaining that treats many people who are civilly committed to the Department of Corrections for substance abuse treatment.  We must change this.  Here is the story
Net News:  Students with Disabilities Call College Admissions Cheating "Big Slap in the Face"

This week, Federal prosecutors charged more than fifty individuals with a fraud for arranging college admissions for cash.  The accused families would pay for someone to arrange admission based on false information.  Some of the parents also arranged for modified testing on SAT's by falsely claiming the child had a learning disability.   This of course will only make things harder for children who legitimately need accommodations for a real disability.

Kaiser Health News had a very good news report on this angle of the investigation.  You can read it here.
Net News:  Trump Administration Wants to Monitor Your Usage of Social Media 

We learned this week that the Trump Administration wants to monitor the social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc) accounts of people on SSDI to root out fraud.  This is another one of those "you are poor, we support you, therefore you must be cheating" stories that, quite frankly, are nauseating and thoroughly disheartening.  You  can read stories from the New York Times and U.S News
Community News: R-TAG Sends Letter to BTA Asking for RIDE Fares to Stay Level  

[Editors Note:  This week the Rider's Transportation Board Executive Committee sent a letter to the Fiscal Management and Control Board of the MBTA.  The Board had voted to hold fares steady on busses and trains for people with disabilities and seniors.  They voted however to raise fares on the RIDE.] 

Dear Chairman Joseph Aiello, Vice Chairman Monica Tibbits-Nutt and members of the Fiscal Management Control Board,

We, the Executive Board of the Rider's Transportation Access Group (R-TAG) on behalf of our members, write to both thank the FMCB and take issue with the fare increase package that was approved by the FMCB on March 11, 2019.

RTAG is the newly formed organization operating under the terms of a Memorandum of Understanding between the MBTA and RTAG whose mandate is community participation and engagement on matters impacting people with disabilities and seniors.

We thank the Control Board for its decision to exempt the TAP and Senior fares from the fare increase. Increasing the cost of these programs would have substantially penalized an already extremely low-income population that often has no other transportation option but to use these services. Moreover, due to the lingering inaccessibility of many aspects of the system, people with disabilities, including many seniors riding the fixed route receive a lower level of service than other riders.

We recognize that the costs of operating The RIDE are unsustainable. We continue to work with all stakeholders to find new solutions that will lower costs and improve service. This fare increase will further isolate many people with disabilities, making them less able to leave their houses and live independently in the community. Suppressing demand by raising already too high fares to control costs is not only inequitable, treating people with disabilities who cannot ride the fixed route as a different class, but also dangerous. The increased revenue projected from this fare increase for The RIDE is less than $400,000.

We strongly urge the FMCB to immediately extend the approved fare freeze on the fixed route for people with disabilities to The RIDE.

Respectfully submitted,

Carolyn Barrett, Rick Morin RTAG Co-Chairs

On Behalf of the R-TAG Executive Board and Its Members
Net News:  Ikea is Making Furniture Accessible for PwD's with 3D Printers

In Israel, Ikea has teamed up with disability organizations to design and print products which increase the accessibility of sofas and other furniture.  Let's hope they bring the idea to the United States.  You can read about it here.
Calendar:  DEAFinitions 2019:  A Deaf Studies Conference

When: Saturday, March 30, 2019, 8:00 A.M. - 7:00 P.M.

Where:  Hampshire College, 893 West Street, Amherst, Mass.

The conference will provide a space for all individuals to discover and explore the multifaceted experiences of Deaf lives. In conjunction with sponsors and students at Hampshire College, Mt. Holyoke College, Smith College, and UMass-Amherst, the ASL Collective will host a space for everyone to come together and celebrate Deaf culture, community, and history.

The goal of the conference is two-fold. One, to provide a space for Deaf artists, performers, academics, and individuals to come together and share their art, knowledge, and stories with one another; to celebrate their culture and history. Two, we want to also provide a space for hearing individuals to learn about the Deaf community from members of the community itself.

The Deaf Studies Conference is FREE to all, but registration is required. ASL interpreters and remote captioning services will be available.

Calendar:  ReelAbilities Film Festival

When:  March 26, 2019 - April 3, 2019

Where:  Various venues in and around Boston

The ReelAbilities Film Series is returning to Boston again.  This year, the series will feature 11 films.  The DPC is proud to serve as a copresenter of the film series.  You can learn more about the Boston films here.  
Calendar:  Career Fair for Job Seekers with Disabilities

When: Friday, April 5, 2019, 10:00 A.M. - 1:00 P.M.

Where:  Transportation Building, 10 Park Plaza, Second Floor, Conference Rooms 1, 2, & 3, Boston, MA 02116

Save the date for an upcoming opportunity to explore a career in public service within Massachusetts state government!

The 2019 State Employment Career Fair is a chance for jobseekers with disabilities to learn about jobs within state government. The career fair will be hosted by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), in partnership with the Massachusetts Office on Disability (MOD), the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind (MCB) and the Human Resources Division (HRD).


Description:
The 2019 State Employment Career Fair is an opportunity to meet Massachusetts state government recruitment and human resources representatives in an informative and engaging setting where you can explore a career field that interest you.

Reasons to Attend:
-Opportunity for "face time" with employers
-A chance to consider multiple industries, in one location, on the same day
-Ability to ask questions
-Make a positive first impression by selling your relevant skills and experience to each employer

Reasonable accommodation requests to:
Rita DiNunzio at rita.dinunzio@dot.state.ma.us or
857-368-8738, as soon as possible, no later than March 22, 2019

For general questions about the event, please contact 
Mod-events@mass.gov or call 617-727-7440, extension 27319
Calendar:  Preserving the Right to Parent: Custody Issues for Survivors with Disabilities  

When:  April 16, 2019, 2:00 P.M. - 3:30 P.M. ET

About this Webinar

Survivors of domestic violence face barriers within the family court and child welfare systems. When a parent is a survivor with a disability, the odds of losing custody of their child(ren) increase exponentially. As of 2012, 35 states still listed disability as grounds for termination of parental rights even without evidence of abuse or neglect. This webinar will provide an overview of some of the unique difficulties survivors with disabilities may face in child custody and welfare cases - and provide suggestions for improvements to the system to ensure that survivors with disabilities are not separated from their children because of their disability.

Presenter:  Robyn Powell


Closed captioning and American Sign Language interpreting will be provided for all webinars in this series. Please note that these features are not available when using the Adobe Connect mobile application. 
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