Disability Policy Consortium Weekly Update
We have reached the end of another year so this writer will be taking a holiday hiatus. This will be the last Weekly Update for 2017. We will be back with you on Monday, January 8, 2018 to kick off the new year.
In this edition, we have a letter from Tom Sannicandro, the Director of the Institute for Community Inclusion. We are republishing it because it's a good summary of the damage the tax bill would do to our community.
We also have an article from the New York Times written by Dr. Cheri Blauwet of Harvard Medical School.
We thank you for being a reader of this newsletter and more importantly we thank you for supporting the DPC. Have a happy holiday season.
As always happy reading.
Disability Policy Consortium
Editorial: ICI Director Speaks Out Against Federal Tax Bill
As the director of the Institute for Community Inclusion at UMass Boston (ICI), an internationally recognized entity focused on the rights of individuals with disabilities to be fully included in all aspects of society, I would like express my strong opposition to the tax bill currently being considered by the U.S. Congress.
If the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act becomes law, it will likely have a devastating impact on services and supports that allow individuals with disabilities to fully participate in American society, and be fully productive citizens with maximum independence.
While the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act does not directly address services for individuals with disabilities, it is estimated by the Congressional Budget Office that this bill will result in a loss of revenue to the federal government of $1.5 trillion over the next decade. As a result of the Pay As You Go rules, the Office of Management and Budget will need to sequester mandatory programs to make up for the loss of revenue.
Such a drastic level of automatic cuts will possibly result in:
- Massive reduction or complete elimination of the public vocational rehabilitation program, which works with 1,000,000 individuals annually, assisting them with employment and other needs.
- Massive cuts in Medicaid, which not only provides health care coverage for 10 million individuals with disabilities, but also provides funding for services that enable individuals to live and work in the community via Medicaid's Home and Community Based Services provisions. In particular, state agencies for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities would be hard hit, as they are highly reliant on Medicaid for the vast majority of their funding.
- Cuts in Medicare, which 9 million individuals with disabilities rely on for health care coverage,
- Major reductions in Social Security benefits, providing an essential safety net of basic cash assistance for 15 million individuals with disabilities that allows them to at least live at a subsistence level.
- Devastating reductions in non-disability-specific programs that individuals with disabilities rely on, such as public housing, SNAP benefits, and public transportation.
In addition, the repeal of the charitable contributions deductions for individuals will have a negative impact on giving, and will likely decrease availability of services and supports provided by non-profit agencies that provide supports and assistance to persons with disabilities. because their budgets will be constrained.
Also, the elimination of the Affordable Care Act mandate contained in the current version of the bill leaves open the possibility that health insurance costs would escalate out of reach for those who do not have the option of declining health insurance due to pre-existing health conditions or disabilities.
Secretary of Labor Acosta has stated that if we are to achieve economic growth, we need to get people who are out of the workforce to enter the workforce. One of the biggest groups currently out of the workforce are persons with disabilities. Eliminating or risking programs that support moving people into the workforce, such as the public vocational rehabilitation program, and employment services funded via Medicaid, undermines the claim that the tax bill will promote economic growth.
We at ICI have shown through rigorous research that people working with vocational rehabilitation and other workforce development programs can enter or re-enter the workforce at earnings that would lead them to economic self-sufficiency.
As a parent of an adult son with a disability, I am well aware of the high level of reliance that even middle-class families like mine have on federally funded services and supports, that allow our family members to enjoy lives of maximum inclusion fully included in their communities. I also know, as a former state legislator, the critical importance of fully understanding the short and long-term implications of legislation on the lives of constituents.
While it may seem on the surface that the tax bill will be positive in terms of more money in the pockets of Americans, and funds available to American businesses, that lost of revenue, particularly in the current era of high federal deficits, must come from somewhere. Alas, it is likely to come from reductions for individuals highly reliant on federal assistance, including persons with disabilities.
I would ask that you give full consideration to all of the implications of this bill, including the undermining of the services and supports that individuals with disabilities are highly reliant on that will likely result if this bill becomes law. I am calling on members of the U.S. Congress to vote NO on this legislation.
This editorial was circulated by the Institute for Community Inclusion (ICI). Tom Sannicandro, the Director of the ICI wrote to members of Congress describing ways in which the proposed tax bill may harm citizens with disabilities. Here is an edited version of his remarks.
Net News: Open Enrollment Periods
The Affordable Care Act enrollment
is fast approaching, December 15, 2017. To sign up online applications go to
This is also the open enrollment period for Medicare Part D plans and Medicare Advantage Plans.
You can learn more here
deadline for Medicare is December 7, 2017.
Net News: California Requires Website Accessibility for State Agencies
On October 14, 2017 California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law AB 434, which will create a new Government Code section 11546.7 and require, beginning July 1, 2019, state agencies and state entities to post on their website home pages a certification that the website complies with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 Level AA, or a subsequent version, and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.
State agencies have been required, since January 1, 2017 by virtue of 2016 legislation, to comply with Section 508 in developing, procuring, maintaining, or using electronic or information technology "to improve accessibility of existing technology, and therefore increase the successful employment of individuals with disabilities, particularly blind and visually impaired and deaf and hard-of-hearing persons." That statute, Government Code 7405, also requires entities that contract with state or local entities for the provision of electronic or information technology or related services to respond to and resolve any complaints regarding accessibility that are brought to the entity's attention.
The new Government Code section 11546.7 will also require the State's Director of Technology to create a standard form for each state agency or entity's chief information officer to use in determining whether its respective website complies with the accessibility standards.
With this legislation, California joins state and municipal entities in other parts of the country that have similar web accessibility requirements for governmental entities and contractors. This legislation fills a small part of a void the federal Department of Justice has decided for the time being not to fill, when it put its pending regulations that would set an accessibility standard for state and local (as well as private entity) websites on the inactive list.
This article appeared at
Net News: I am in a Wheelchair and Yes I'm Your Doctor
Last week the New York Times had a thought provoking article written by Dr. Cheri A. Blauwet of Harvard Medical School.
Dr. Blauwet is also a seven time paralympic medalist and is on the U.S. Olympic Committee. In the article she also discusses Dr. Lisa Iezzoni. Dr. Iezzoni has worked has help the DPC establish our Research Department.
Employment Opportunity: Executive Director Multi-Cultural Independent Living Center of Boston
The Executive Director oversees strategic planning, operations, programming, administration, and financial management. Other responsibilities include fundraising, marketing, and community outreach. The position reports to the Board of Directors.
- Knowledge of & commitment to the Independent Living philosophy
- Minimum of five years management experience with a non-profit organization
- Bachelor's or Master's degree in business administration; Non-profit management, disability or related field preferred
- Relevant experiences can partially substitute with not-for-profit management, community social work, geographical or equivalent experience
- Knowledge or experience with financial controls, practices for State & Federally funded organizations
- Effective written & oral communication skills
- Ability to prepare plus manage grants; Cultivates & build donor relationships
- Experience in initiating, planning, implementing & evaluating programs & services
- Ability to represent organization's interests with Independent Living Centers, Government & other community-based organizations
- Ability to address small & large groups
- Able to relate to diverse groups; Understands existing Cultural Competency Standards
- Ability & willingness to travel Statewide for meetings, forums, conferences, etc.
- Paid holidays, sick & vacation time
- Competitive salary (negotiable based on experience)
Please email all resumes with cover letters to
Advocacy Opportunity: MBTA Design Guide for Access
I hope this e-mail finds you well.
The Institute for Human Centered Design (IHCD) is going to be working on a new MBTA Design Guide for Access. It's the first time since 1990! The project is being managed by the MBTA System-Wide
Accessibility team and it is a core part of the MBTA's commitment to accessibility. We will use our own experience and knowledge and tap a couple of the best experts in the world on the issue of inclusive public
transit. But we have an agreement with the MBTA that we will also do what we call 'contextual inquiry research.'
Through our User/Expert Lab we learn directly from observing and documenting people with physical, sensory or brain-based functional limitations interacting directly with the MBTA. It's a chance to analyze what works, what fails, what about the system today creates stress or anxiety or confusion or makes people feel unsafe. This is a chance to help make a MBTA Design Guide that serves everyone better.
We are hoping you can share this opportunity with
Below is a plain text description of our user/expert lab and how to sign up. I can also send along pdfs upon request.
Please feel free to be in touch with me if you have any questions or concerns. We would also be excited to come give a brief pitch if there are any events your organization hosts where that might be appropriate.
Thanks for your consideration.
Coordinator, Public Programs & User/Expert Lab
Institute for Human Centered Design
200 Portland Street
Boston, MA 02114
Tel: 617-695-1225 x 235
*Preferred Pronouns: She/Her*
*Make A Difference and Improve Your Environment!*
Participate in paid design reviews that expand opportunities and enhance experiences for people of all ages and abilities.
Join us on the T, at the park, online, or at the museum and tell us what works for you!
What is a user/expert?
A "user/expert" is a person who has developed expertise through their lived experience as a person with a physical, sensory or mental/neurological/cognitive functional limitation, chronic health concerns, or a disability. We are also looking for secondary user/experts who have extensive experience sharing life with a primary user/expert.
What is a design review?
Design reviews are one time evaluations where user/experts are paid to share their feedback. IHCD staff ask questions, provide prompts, and take notes, including photos and video, in order to
pay close attention to the details of your experiences. Reviews help us to learn about what aspects of a place or product work well and what fails. Reviews focus on an individual's experience in the physical environment as
well as the strengths and weaknesses in information, communication, wayfinding, and digital designs in public and private spaces.
What is the time commitment?
Reviews range from 30 minutes at our office in downtown Boston to a few hours on site at a museum, park, or train station. Travel accommodation can be arranged upon request. An agreed upon appointment will be confirmed, including a start and end time, for each session.
All selected participants will receive a stipend for each review. Stipends range from $25 - $100.
Who is IHCD?
The Institute for Human Centered Design (IHCD) is a Boston-based international design and education non-profit founded in 1978. We are experts in accessibility and global leaders in the inclusive design movement. The information that we gather through the User/Expert research informs the design process. Learn more at
How to become a User/Exper
Complete our online form at
To request a hard copy form or complete it over the phone please call us at 617-695-1225
Calendar: One Care Outreach Events
There are two One Care outreach events this month (December 13 and 14).
Wednesday, December 13, 2017, 8:00 A.M. - Noon
Friends of the Homeless Resource Center/Shelter
755 Worthington St.,
Thursday December 14, 2017, 8:30 A.M. - 12:30 P.M.
Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates - Atrius
40 Holland St. (Davis Square) Somerville
One Care is a health care option for MassHealth members ages 21-64 living with disabilities who are eligible for both MassHealth and Medicare.
The current One Care plans are Tufts Health Unify and Commonwealth Care Alliance. Please see
for more information.
Calendar: Audio Described Performance of the Nutcraker
When: Tuesday, December 19, 2017, 7:30 P.M.
Where: Boston Opera House, 539 Washington Street, Boston, MA, USA | 02111
Tickets are $35. Please mention the
All-Access Performance when you call the Box Office at 617 695-6955.
The Boston Ballet is performing one of the greatest ballets of all time, an American holiday tradition, The Nutcracker, live to jam packed audiences.
This spectacular production of The Nutcracker is easily the greatest and best known ballet in America. Introduced many years ago by George Balanchine, this ballet by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, is a phenomenal ballet that features an excellent combination of dance, music and choreography resulting in a must see performance this holiday season for both adults and children.
| 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