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August 2006

Alaska Supreme Court Strikes Down Forced Psychiatric Drugging Procedures

In a resounding affirmation of personal liberty and freedom, the Alaska Supreme Court issued its long-awaited decision in Myers v. Alaska Psychiatric Institute today. The court found Alaska's forced psychiatric drugging regime to be unconstitutional when the state forces someone to take psychiatric medications without proving it to be in their best interests or when there are less restrictive alternatives.

Faith Myers, the appellant in the case, reacted to the decision saying, "It makes all of my suffering worthwhile." Myers' attorney, Jim Gottstein, said "By requiring the least intrusive alternative to forced psychiatric drugging, this decision has the potential to change the face of current psychiatric practice, dramatically improving the lives of people who now find themselves at the wrong end of a hypodermic needle." While he acknowledged that some people find psychiatric drugs helpful, Gottstein said he pursued this case because, in addition to the drugs' serious physical health risks, he is concerned about the rights of those who find them both unhelpful and intolerable. He continued, "For people who want to try non-drug approaches, the research is very clear that many will have much better long-term outcomes, including complete recovery after being diagnosed with serious mental illness. This decision restores the rights of those people to pursue that potential."

The Alaska Supreme Court decision noted the trial court's concern that the statute did not allow the court to consider the problems with the drugs even though "a valid debate exists in the medically/psychiatric community as to the safety and effectiveness of the proposed treatment plan." With this decision, trial courts are now required to consider the safety and effectiveness of the drugs in deciding whether the proposed psychiatric drugging is in the patient's best interest.

The Court's Decision also makes specific mention that Alaska Statutes require the hospital to honor a patient's previously expressed desires regarding psychiatric medications.

READ Full decision text

READ Detailed background about The Law Project for Psychiatric Rights

WRITE Jim Gottstein, 907 274-7686, Law Project for Psychiatric Rights, 406 G Street, Suite 206, Anchorage, Alaska 99501 Phone: (907) 274-7686) Fax: (907) 274-9493.


READ NCD's statement on forced drugging

Source: National Council on Disability, 7/5/06
Scholarship Program for College Students with Disabilities

The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars is pleased to announce it will continue to help increase employment for students with disabilities through an academic internship program. Through a partnership with the US Dept of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), The Washington Center is working to help students develop leadership skills and gain valuable work experience in public service.

The Washington Center will complement students' professional experience with solid academic training for credit from highly qualified instructors. In addition, students will be exposed to community, national and international leaders through workshops, seminars, lectures, embassy visits and networking events held throughout the course of each semester. The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) will offer technical guidance and support to the program. The Washington Center is able to provide a total of 50 competitive scholarship awards in the amount of $8,500 for each eligible student with disabilities interested in working in the executive, judicial or legislative branches of the federal government during the fall 2006 and spring 2007 semesters (scholarships are not available in the summer).

WHO SHOULD APPLY?

Applicants Must:
  • Be enrolled full-time in an accredited college or university
  • Be at least a second semester sophomore at the time of the internship
  • Have at least a 2.75 GPA
  • Show proof that they will receive academic credit for the internship
  • Be a US Citizen
  • Self-identify as a person with a disability as defined by the American with Disabilities Act (ADA).
ADA defines a person with a disability as:
  • a person with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, OR
  • a person that has a record of such impairment, OR
  • a person that is regarded as having such impairment
Application Materials Include:
  • Official transcript
  • 2 letters of recommendation
  • A letter from your campus disability services office, a vocational rehabilitation office OR a physician treating you for your disability confirming the fact that you have a disability.
  • Resume
  • Two writing samples
  • Completed application form
  • Campus sponsorship agreement (students must receive academic credit for the experience)
  • Application fee of $60.00
GO Application. (Please contact The Washington Center if you require the application in an alternate format. The application for the scholarship is the same as the regular application.)

IMPORTANT DATES

Spring 2007 Internship Program
  • Application due date: November 15, 2006
  • Spring semester begins: January 18, 2007
  • Spring semester ends: May 5, 2007
INTERNSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

All students will be placed in the executive, legislative, or judicial branches of government. Sample placements include:
  • US Environmental Protection Agency
  • US Dept of Homeland Security
  • US Dept of Treasury
  • US Dept of Labor
  • US Dept of Agriculture
  • US Dept of Veterans Affairs
  • General Services Adminis.
  • Office of Personal Management
  • US Dept of Defense
  • US Dept of Commerce
  • US Dept of Justice
  • US Dept of Education
  • Small Business Administration
  • Congressional Members
ALL MAJORS SOUGHT

WHAT DOES THE SCHOLARSHIP COVER?

The total scholarship award is $8,500 that would go toward covering TWC's total program and housing fees. This money can be combined with state scholarship awards available through The Washington Center, which range from $1,800 to $4,000 per student. Eligible students would be able to combine these awards and have a remaining amount to cover additional living expenses.

READ More information

ACCOMMODATIONS

Workplace :

The Washington Center will work with the government agencies hosting the interns to ensure reasonable accommodations are provided to students who may need them to successfully complete their job duties.

Student Housing :

The Washington Center provides all students accessible housing during their participation in the program in Washington, D.C. The Washington Center will work with students on a case-by-case basis to ensure accommodations are met. Our housing facilities offer shared facilities in apartment buildings in Northern Virginia and Maryland. They are located in well-lit, high traffic areas that provide secure and comfortable surroundings. The apartments are fully furnished, and provide local telephone and basic cable service, 24-hour front desk, and laundry facilities.

Academic Training :

The Washington Center will work closely with students with disabilities to assess and provide accommodations (physical and programmatic) for students to complete the academic requirements of the program.

Local Transportation :

The Washington Center housing facilities are within close proximity to the subway system. The Washington Center will work with each student on a case-by-case basis to provide an orientation to and information on how to utilize public transportation to arrive at their place of employment and all Washington Center functions in a timely manner. The Washington Center will provide mobility training when and if necessary. In addition, The Washington Center will conduct an orientation to answer questions about transportation, general accessibility issues, accommodations and internship sites.

PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS
  • Participation in the Washington Forum (Presidential Lecture Series, Congressional Breakfast Series, Embassy Visit Program, Small Group Activities)
  • Enrollment in an academic course provided by The Washington Center (there are over 20 courses to select from)
  • Completion of a portfolio that documents student's internship experience and reactions to the Washington Forum sessions
  • Approval to receive academic credit for the program from student's home institution
WRITE For more information: Ms. Roshni D. Lal, The Washington Center for Internships & Academic Seminars. 202-336-7567

GO The Washington Center

READ More scholarship resources
Change is Happening: 2005 MA Expenditures. Information Bulletin #117 (7/06)

Disability advocates often are so busy with the daily struggles and obligations that we don't step back to see the bigger picture.

Thanks to the Johnson/ Medstat compilation of each State's Medicaid expenditures (all data can be found online), we can take a look at the data and see the results of your daily struggles to "Free Our People."

As slow and tedious as it often feels, YES SIGNIFICANT PROGRESS has been made.

In FY 1993, 84% of the total Medicaid national Long Term Care (LTC) expenditures ($35.4b) went to institutions (i.e., nursing facilities and ICF-MRs) and only 16% went to community-based services (i.e., Medicaid waivers, home health care, and personal care options)($6.7b).

Two years later, in FY 1995, there was virtually no percentage change: 84% of the total national LTC expenditures still went to institutions (i.e., nursing facilities and ICF-MRs) and 16% went to community-based services (i.e., waivers, home health care, and personal care options).

However, in FY 1999, a small change occurred: 82% of the total national LTC expenditures ($46b) went to institutions and 18% went to community-based services ($17b). While not much, it still was a change! The Olmstead Supreme Court decision was in 1999 and took a few years to exert its impact.

By FY 2004, change was very apparent: 74.9% of national LTC expenditures ($57.9b) went to institutions but now 25.1% went to community-based services. ($33.16b). In FY 2005, dramatic change is very clear: 68.5% of the total national LTC expenditures ($59.34b) went to institutions but 31.5% went to community-based services ($35.16b).

The difference -- between 16% in 1993 for community-based services and 31.5% in 2005 for community-based services -- in dollars is an increase from $6 billion dollars to $33.16 billion!!

Another way to look at the change is to look at the ratio of institutional versus community expenditures, that is, how many dollars were spent on institutional care versus community-based.

In 1993, $5.27 was spent in institutions for each $1.00 spent in the community. By 1999, the ratio was reduced so that $2.70 was spent in institutions for each $1.00 in the community.

By FY 2005, the ratios were reduced to $1.69 expended in institutions for each $1.00 in the community. It's getting a lot closer! Still not equal but closer. We have NO DOUBT: these changes are the direct result of local advocates pressuring their Governors, Legislatures and Medicaid officials to "Free Our People." We have NO DOUBT that these changes would NOT have occurred but for your local actions and efforts.

Now is not the time to sit back. This is a constant battle.

Increase your efforts: "power concedes nothing without a struggle."

Advocates should look at their own State's Medicaid data and determine how much progress your State has made. By following the money, you can see how well your State compares to the above national data. By analyzing the data, you will be able to hold local officials more accountable.

Source: Steve Gold, The Disability Odyssey continues


Shortage of Direct Care Workforce Identified as Critical by HHS

Background

The American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR) resoundingly endorses the findings of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) and Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) final report to Congress on "The Supply Of Direct Support Professionals Serving Individuals With Intellectual & Other Disabilities (ID & DD)."

"This report confirms some of the alarming demographic and financial trends for direct support workers and the people they support. The federal government has an important role to play in promoting and supporting the efforts of state and local government entities, disability services providers, and families and persons with disabilities. The ASPE report reaffirms the urgent need for immediate action to provide a living wage for direct support workers, which is a critical component for building a stable, qualified workforce," said Renee Pietrangelo, Chief Executive Officer, ANCOR.

Findings

Report on "The Supply Of Direct Support Professionals Serving Individuals With Intellectual & Other Disabilities (ID & DD)." The HHS examined the root causes associated with the high vacancy and turnover rates of direct support workers (DSPs) and the impact the shortage of these workers will have on the people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. On average, about 19,000 DSPs are needed each year to meet a growing demand. At the current rate of turnover, 96% of all DSPs hired by 2020 will be replacing DSPs who leave existing positions. The report identifies five major factors impacting the increasing demand for DSPs:
  • the growing U.S. population
  • the increasing life expectancy
  • increased prevalence of staffing shortages
  • the aging of caregivers and
  • the national commitment to, and steady expansion of, community and in-home services and supports.
Some of the key findings of the report include:
  • In 2003, there were an estimated 4.3 million (1.5% of U.S. population) with ID/DD and 874,000 full-time equivalent DSPs.
  • Of the 4.3 million, 3,849,000 individuals were living with parent or other relatives or in their own homes without services.
  • Of the 1,043,000 adults with ID/DD residing with family members as adults, about are unable to be left unsupervised for more than 2 hours. An additional 600,000 DSPs would be needed to support them.
  • By 2020, the number of DSPs needed to meet the long term service and support demands will grow to approximately 1.2 million.
  • Between 2003 and 2020, the number of individuals with ID/DD in need of residential, in-home and day supports is expected to rise from 1 million to 1.4 million -- an approximate increase of 38 percent.
  • The current rate of turnover for DSPs is approximately 50 percent.
  • The additional 19,000 DSPs who are expected to join the field each year will make up only 4 percent of the total 1.2 million required DSPs.
Action

Direct Support Professionals Fairness and Security Act of 2005 (H.R. 1264) The HHS Report underscores the urgent need for the passage of H.R. 1264:
  • It would amend title XIX of the Social Security Act to provide funds to states to enable them to increase the wages paid to targeted direct support professionals in providing services to individuals with disabilities under the Medicaid program.
  • Bi-partisan legislation introduced by Representatives Lee Terry (R-NE) and Lois Capps (D-CA)
To date, the bill has garnered 66 co-sponsors. Facts on Direct Support Professionals

The shortage of DSPs is a national crisis affecting both the disabilities and long-term care communities. They are the backbone of our nation's formal long-term support system.
  • The DSP average hourly wage is $8.68; low considering the high level of training and personal services they provide.
  • The high rate of turnover in this field undermines the progress DSPs strive to achieve in building confidence and rapport for their services.
  • A majority of these workers are often the sole breadwinner of their household. The wages they earn keep many families impoverished.
About ANCOR

The American Network of Community Options and Resources is the premier national association representing more than 850 private providers of community living and employment supports and services to more than 385,000 individuals with disabilities. As a nonprofit organization, ANCOR successfully addresses the needs and interests of private providers before Congress and federal agencies, continually advocating for the crucial role private providers play in enhancing and supporting the lives of people with disabilities and their families. It has created the ANCOR National Advocacy Campaign to provide a focus on this critical issue.

Resources & contacts

GO ANCOR

GO ANCOR National Advocacy Campaign

GO 2006 ASPE Report to Congress

READ Additional reports

Interview opportunties

Renee Pietrangelo, ANCOR CEO, and Suellen Galbraith, ANCOR Director for Government Relations. Daryn Demeritt, Senior Managing Director, Field Goals 1201 South Eads Street, #1614, Arlington, VA 22202 Phone: (202) 258-1328 Fax: (703) 521-2927 e-mail

Source: Media Advisory, 7/18/
New EEOC Fact Sheet: Employment Rights of People with Hearing Loss

WASHINGTON, DC -- Cari M. Dominguez, Chair of the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), today announced the issuance of a new question-and-answer (Q&A) fact sheet on the application of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to job applicants and employees who are deaf or who have hearing impairments.

"One goal of this fact sheet is to counter the myth that individuals with some level of hearing loss are generally less competent, less productive, or would require more attention and supervision than their peers who do not have hearing loss," said Chair Dominguez, who announced the issuance of the new document at a town hall meeting sponsored by the National Council on Disability in observance of the 16th anniversary of the ADA.

She added: "As our nation observes the anniversary of the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act, we should be mindful that disability does not mean inability, and that every individual deserves the freedom to compete on a fair and level playing field. People with disabilities represent a vast pool of untapped talent for employers." The new Q&A publication includes many real-life examples that illustrate the kinds of jobs that people with hearing loss successfully perform and the wide range of accommodations available.

Topics addressed in the document include:
  • When a hearing loss is a disability under the ADA;
  • When an employer may ask an applicant or employee about a hearing impairment and what it should do if an applicant voluntarily discloses the impairment;
  • What type of reasonable accommodation an applicant or employee with a hearing disability may need; and
  • What an employer should do if it has safety concerns about an applicant or employee with a hearing impairment.
According to published reports, between 2000 and 2004, estimates of the number of people in the United States with a self-described "hearing difficulty" ranged from 28.6 million to 31.5 million. A "hearing difficulty" can refer to the effects of many different hearing impairments of varying degrees. The number of individuals with hearing difficulty is expected to rise rapidly by the year 2010 when the baby-boomer generation reaches age 65. As compared to other age groups, the percentage of individuals with hearing difficulty is greatest among those individuals age 65 and above. EEOC's latest ADA publication helps to advance the goals of the New Freedom Initiative, President George W. Bush's comprehensive strategy for the full integration of people with disabilities into all aspects of American life. The New Freedom Initiative seeks to promote greater access to technology, education, employment opportunities, and community life for people with disabilities. An important part of the New Freedom Initiative strategy for increasing employment opportunities involves providing employers with technical assistance on the ADA.

EEOC enforces Title I of the ADA, which prohibits employment discrimination against people with disabilities in the private sector and state and local governments, and the Rehabilitation Act's prohibitions against disability discrimination in the federal government. In addition, the EEOC enforces other federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, and age.

READ The new publication

Source: EEOC
2007 Money Follows the Person Grants and Housing

[Dear JFA Readers: Below is an analysis of the newly announced "Money Follows the Person Demonstration Grants to States." A teleconference call on this is scheduled for August 22. More information on this will follow.]

July 26, 2006 --
CMS announced the 2007 Money Follows the Person demonstration grants to states. There will be $250m available beginning January 1, 2007 and a total $1.75 billion for five years. Will your State Medicaid Office participate? Will your State use this opportunity to rebalance its Medicaid institutional versus community expenditures?

These are competitive grants. Your State must develop and submit a plan to receive a grant. This is a great opportunity for ILCs, AAAs, ARCs, AARPs to work together to use these funds to end "unnecessary institutionalization."

One item in the CMS Program Announcement awards extra points for housing. CMS recognized that "the advancement of home and community-based long term care services requires increased community housing options." It states that "CMS will reward States [extra points] that demonstrate plans to work with Housing Finance Agencies to ... identify how any housing shortages will be addressed." That means using the low-income housing tax credits and state administered HOME funds! HUD has announced it will strongly encourage Housing Authorities (and Housing Finance Agencies) to support MFP programs by helping to create opportunities for individuals to move out of institutions. That means using Housing Vouchers, public housing units, local HOME funds, and CDBG funds.

As many of you know from NUMEROUS previous Information Bulletins I have sent out, IF a local Housing Authority and IF a State Housing Finance Agency want to use their programs to assist persons transition out of institutions, they could do it.

NOW IS THE TIME to creatively work with them. In most States, your Medicaid officials and your state and local housing officials have never worked together. To obtain these extra points, they will have to jointly develop a housing component.

If any of you or if your State Medicaid agencies want assistance in thinking about and developing a housing component for a MFP Grant, please let me know and we will try to work it out. This is too important an opportunity to let it slip by. We know that for many persons in institutions "whether nursing homes or ICF-MR institutions" housing is the barrier to full integration.

READ CMS Program Announcement

Source: Steve Gold, The Disability Odyssey continues
Disabled Voters Sue to Get Accessible and Secret Voting in California

San Francisco, CA - Voters with visual and manual disabilities filed suit today in San Francisco federal court against the California Secretary of State and five California counties, alleging failure to comply with historic federal legislation guaranteeing disabled voters the right to have a secret ballot and vote without assistance.

The Help America Vote Act (HAVA), 42 U.S.C. ' 15301, requires full accessibility in voting for disabled voters in the same manner as for all voters. This did not occur anywhere inthe State in the June, 2006 elections nor will it occur in November. That's why we filed suit, to enforce the new law, said Lee Page, spokesman for the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), a national veterans and disability organization that is the lead plaintiff in the suit.

The suit seeks a declaratory judgment that California has failed to comply with HAVA. It also seeks an order requiring the California Secretary of State plan and a timetable for bringing California into compliance with HAVA.

The suit alleges that the Secretary of State has not approved any voting systems that ensure accessibility, privacy and independence for all disabled voters. It further alleges that the Secretary of State has approved individual voting systems that are not accessible to all disabled voters in the same manner as for other voters. For example, paralyzed veterans and quadriplegics in Marin, San Francisco and Santa Rosa counties cannot vote privately and on their own unless there is the proper voting system. Blind voters cannot verify the accuracy of their ballot because of California's paper trail requirement.

Three of the defendant counties--San Francisco, Marin and Sonoma, use the ES&S AutoMARK system that denies full accessibility to manually impaired voters. The availability of a direct recording electronic (DRE) machine at each polling location in combination with the AutoMARK would have permitted many of these manually impaired voters to vote privately, independently and without assistance.

Alameda, another defendant county, uses DREs but is required by state law to use a paper audit trail as the official ballot in mandatory sample recounts, which denies accessibility to visually impaired voters. The suit challenges that state requirement as in conflict with federal law.

Yolo, the fifth defendant county, did nothing at all to comply with HAVA for the June 2006 elections, denying both visually and manually impaired voters the right to vote privately and independently. Dan Kysor, a visually impaired plaintiff from Yolo County, commented, I was waiting with great anticipation for the opportunity guaranteed to me by federal law to finally be able to vote privately and independently like all other voters, and I am greatly disappointed that I was unable to do so in Yolo County in June.

The plaintiffs include three national and state disability organizations--PVA, the California Council of the Blind (CCB) and the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD). The individual plaintiffs include Paul Longmore and Ivana Kirola from San Francisco County, Russ Bohlke from Marin County, Manny Fernandez from Sonoma County, Stephen Fort from Alameda County, and Dan Kysor from Yolo County.

Founded in 1946, Paralyzed Veterans is the only congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated solely for the benefit and representation of veterans with spinal cord injury or disease. It is a dynamic, broad-based organization with more than 21,000 members in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

CONTACTS: Lee Page, PVA, 202/416-7694; Dan Kysor, CCB, 916/371-1514; Ardis Bazyn, CCB, 818/238-9321; John McDermott, Howrey LLP, 213/892-1815; Jim Dickson, AAPD, 202/262-8240.

GO Paralyzed Veterans

READ Disability Vote Project, Accessible Voting Machines news

Council for Disability Rights

Knowing your rights is the easy part. Exercising them can be a bit trickier.

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