29th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act

Celebrate the ADA 29 (1990-2019) Americans with Disabilities Act - July 26, 2019

29 years ago today, then President George H. W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act. In the years right after, the basic structure of the ADA became as familiar to people with disabilities as the backs of our own hands. But nearly 30 years after the law passed, it’s probably a good idea to review what’s actually in it. The Americans with Disabilities Act includes three main sections or “Titles”:

Title I: Employment

* Makes it illegal to deny employment and job benefits because of disability, as long as the disabled person is otherwise able to perform the essential functions of the job.

* Requires employers with 15 or more employees to provide reasonable, individual accommodations to disabled employees to enable them to do their jobs.

Title II: State & Local Government

* Requires state and local governments at all levels to make all of their services and programs accessible and provide equal service to people with disabilities.

* Program accessibility can include a combination of physical accessibility and individual supports and modifications to make each program as a whole generally accessible.

Title III: Public Accommodations

* Businesses and organizations that provide goods and services to the public must provide equal service to customers with disabilities.

* Businesses and organizations must make their public facilities physically accessible for all, and provide reasonable individual accommodations as needed to ensure individuals are able to get equal service.

* Accessibility is defined by the ADA Accessibility Guidelines, a set of specific physical standards to ensure a base level of accessibility in all types of facilities.

There is also a Title IV that deals with specific telecommunication services, like TV captioning and telephone relay systems for the deaf. The ADA also set ambitious long-term goals of making all kinds of transportation accessible, including buses and trains. Note that the ADA was designed to complement already existing disability rights laws such as:

For more information on the ADA, try these links:

If you have questions about disability rights and accessibility, you can always call us at the North Country Center for Independence at 518-563-9058.

Welcome To Our New Website!

Illustration of an address bar on a web browser with the start of a website address spelled out

Here is some of what you will find in NCCI's new website design:

  • Fewer pages and simpler, clearer navigation.

  • A more expansive, bolder layout.

  • A separate, complete layout for smartphones.

  • Information on NCCI's mission, services, and programs

  • A calendar of upcoming events.

  • Our old blog, with all past entries, now visible at the “News” page.

  • A link to make donations through PayPal.

  • An online issues and services survey.

  • Updated staff emails and telephone extensions.

  • An archive of past issues and action alerts on the “Advocacy” page.

  • An updated "Resources" page.

  • Links to NCCI's Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube pages.

  • The new site is Section 508 compliant for accessibility.

Please visit and have a look around. If you see anything that needs to be fixed, or if you have any suggestions for more improvements, let us know. You can send feedback on the website to this email address:

NCCIplattsNY@gmail.com

NYAIL Summary of NYS Budget Results

Closeup of computer keyboard with large key labeled Updates

The following is a summary of the finished New York State Budget, from the New York Association on Independent Living ...

The budget was passed over the weekend. Now that it has passed, I want to share some updates this morning on our top priorities.

IL funding: The statewide network was allocated a $500,000 funding increase. Clearly this falls short of what we were seeking, but given the difficult budget year, it was an accomplishment to receive an increase at all. Further, now that we have strong support from both Education Chairs, we have momentum we can build on next year.

Consumer Directed Personal Assistance (CDPA) program:

The final language broadens who can be a FI from the proposed language, which limited it to ILCs and FIs who were in operation prior to 2012. It does still include ILCs in the language though as entities who can be FIs. Contracting will be directly with the Department Of Health, as opposed to LDSS offices.

The bill did include some consumer protections, including creating a workgroup, to be formed by May 15th, to do the following:

- best practices for the provision of fiscal intermediary services;

- inform the criteria for the application to be a fiscal intermediary;

- identify whether services should differ for different groups of consumers;

- identify what criteria should be used in reporting; and

- develop transition plans for consumers who may need to transition to a different fiscal intermediary.

As for our primary concern, which was changing reimbursements to a per member per month (PMPM) model, the bill does not address this. Advocates were hoping it would be part of the workgroup’s charge, but it is not. There is apparently a plan to move forward with a PMPM model though, which the Executive already had the authority to implement without approval from the legislature. The plan is for rates to be banded, meaning there is a low rate for people who need 1-4 hours; a higher rate for consumers who need more hours; and a high rate for consumers who need more than 96 hours. We will be confirming those rates with legislative staff today and sharing this with the FIs in our network.

Housing:

Access To Home level funded at $1 million. The funding increase for this program was to come from the Mortgage Insurance Funding (MIF), which did not turn out to have adequate funding to support our increase. We will need to work harder on ensuring the Senate and Executive understand the necessity of providing funding for home modifications.

Office for the Advocate not included in final budget. Though we had strong support in the Senate, we understand there were concerns from the Assembly and Executive which we are working to find out more regarding.

We will send a more thorough update shortly.

===============

Here is an overview of how the rest of our priorities on our Budget DPA did in the final budget.

Health / Medicaid:

Spousal refusal protected! People who have a spouse or child who become sick or disabled and require Medicaid will not have to divorce or institutionalize their loved ones just so they can get the care they require!

Prescriber prevails protected! A doctor will be able to determine the best course of treatment for their patients, as opposed to the managed care organization.

Global cap extended.

The final budget did not include a community-based high needs rate cell or risk adjustment, as proposed by the Assembly and Senate.

The National Diabetes Prevention Program was included.

New York Connects received a $1M increase over two years.

Long Term Care Ombudsman Program level funded.

Elections:

Early voting funded! The budget includes $25M to cover the costs associated with implementing early voting. $14.7M will go toward purchasing software necessary software. This includes electronic poll books, as well as on-demand ballot printers and cybersecurity protections. An additional $10M will reimburse county Boards of Elections for costs associated with implementing early voting. Counties would not have the funds necessary  to implement early voting, so this is big.

Housing:

I already reported that a person’s lawful source of income is now a protected class in NYS Human Rights Law and Access To Home was level funded. As for our third housing priority, the Visitability Tax Credit was not included.

Employment:

Small Business Tax Credit not included.

Meghan Parker
Director of Advocacy
New York Association on Independent Living
155 Washington Ave, Suite 208
Albany, NY  12210
Phone: 518-465-4650
Fax: 518-465-4625
Email: mparker@ilny.org
Visit Our Website:  www.ilny.org

Like us on Facebook!

Important Notice About SNAP (Food Stamps)

SNAP (Food Stamps) recipients in New York will see an unexpected increased balance on January 20. Please note … this will be an advance payment of your usual February allocation, not an actual increase in benefits.

Picture of a green dollar sign next to puzzle pieces
Early payment of February’s allocation is happening because of the partial federal government shutdown. SNAP program administrators have managed to secure February’s funding, but it must be distributed early. The important thing for SNAP recipients to remember is that this is not an increase. You are not getting more than you usually get. You are just being paid for February early.

That means that you will need to take extra care to budget your SNAP benefits carefully. Don’t spend it all now, or you won’t have enough left over in February. Your best response to the early payment should be to do nothing different. Only spend what you were normally planning on spending, in January first, then February.

The SNAP program, previously known as Food Stamps, helps 1 in 7 American families afford nutritious food. In New York State it’s 1 in 8 families. The program is especially vital to people with disabilities. in 2015, 1 in 4 SNAP recipients had some kind of disability. In New York, almost half of the families receiving SNAP include someone with a disability.

If you have any questions about this, call your office of Social Services, or NCCI at 518-563-9058.

By The Numbers: NCCI Services 2017 / 2018

The main goal of providing services at NCCI is to assist individuals with disabilities, and others dealing with disability issues. Each person we work with has an individual story, and each person who achieves or maintains their independence is a win, for them and for all of us.

Once in awhile though, it's useful to take a step back and look at what all of our services throughout the year look like. Exactly who are we serving? Which of our services are the most in demand? What kind of impact are we having in the North Country community?

The graphics below show data on services provided by the North Country Center for Independence between October 2017 and September 2018. You can click on each graphic to see a larger, easier to read version.

Have a look ...

How many people did NCCI serve? 637 people with disabilities. 336 other non-disabled. 48 families. Disabilities of people served: 351 physical. 174 cognitive. 75 mental. 42 sensory. How many people used each service? 608 information & referral. 573 personal assistance services. 261 advocacy. 229 benefits assistance. 101 accessibility assistance. 55 transportation assistance. 45 peer counseling. 33 housing assistance. 16 other services. 13 assistive technology.


And here is a closer look at two of NCCI's most important programs:

200 people with disabilities used CDPAP home care services to live more independently. 430 people were employed as personal care aides providing CDPAP home care. 152 people with disabilities used CDPAP services to avoid unwanted nursing home placement. $10.2 million dollars in taxpayer money saved, compared to the cost of institutional care.

1,270 information & referrals provided to nursing home and adult care facility residents, staff, and families. 527 facility visits by staff and volunteers, to nursing homes and adult care facilities. 448 total volunteer hours provided by Volunteer Ombudsmen, in facility visits and advocacy activities on behalf of nursing home and adult care facility residents.

Voting Resources

"Vote" logo with wheelchair symbol

Election Day for the 2018 Midterm Election is Tuesday, November 6. Here are some more voting resources for people with disabilities:

Voting Rights Subcommittee - National Council on Independent Living

Disability Issues Guide - American Association of People with Disabilities


Voting Resources - Autistic Self Advocacy Network

Plain Language 2018 Voter Guide - Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law


Find Your Polling Place - National Association of Secretaries of State

Polling Site Accessibility Checklist - U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division



Election Polling and Forecasts - FiveThirtyEight.com

You can always contact us here at NCCI at 518-563-9058, for assistance related to voting.

Social Security COLA Updates

Illustration of a green dollar sign and white puzzle pieces
Click here for a PDF document that lists the new Social Security Cost Of Living Adjustment (COLA) for 2019. Here are just a couple of important numbers to notice for the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs. There will be a 2.8% increase in benefits this year. I will keep everyone up-to-date as soon as Medicare releases their numbers for 2019.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) threshold:

Non–blind: 2018: $1,180/m 2019: $1,220/m … increase of $40.
Blind: 2018: $1,970/m 2019: $2,040/m … increase of $70.

Trial Work Period(TWP) threshold:

2018: $850/m 2019: $880/m

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Federal Payment Standard:

Individual 2018: $750/m 2019: $771/m … increase of $21.
Couple: 2018: $1,125/m 2019: $1,157/m … increase of $32.

SSI Resource Limits:

Individual: 2018: $2,000 2019: No change.
Couple: 2018: $3,000 2019: No change.

The linked document goes into more detail about retirement, tax rates and other federal benefits. If anyone has any questions please don't hesitate to ask. You can call me at 518-563-9058 Ext. 110, or send me an email at: norman@ncci-online.com.

Voting Q & A

Large blue “VOTE” logo, in which the “O” is part of a stylized wheelchair symbol’s wheel

How do I check my registration and register to vote? What is the deadline?

Click here for a website where you can check your registration status, and register to vote online in New York State. You can also register at most government offices, and at most human services agencies, including here at the North Country Center for Independence. Call us at 518-563-9058 if you want to register and need assistance.

- The voter registration deadline in New York is Friday, October 12 for the 2018 Midterms on November 6. Click here to see the registration deadlines in all 50 states.
Photo of several red, white, and blue buttons reading "VOTE"
I don't drive or have a car. How am I supposed to get to the polls?

- The first step is to make sure you know exactly where your polling place is. Click here for a website where you can find out.

- Is it close enough to walk or wheel to? Could you afford to take a cab, just that once, to cast your vote? Call your county transportation department and ask if there is wheelchair-accessible transportation that can take you to and from the polls. You can also call your local Democratic or Republican Party, (whichever you prefer), and ask if they can help you get to the polls.

- If getting to the polls is going to be difficult in any way, it’s best to plan as far ahead as possible so you can make arrangements.

Why is polling place accessibility important? Can't disabled people just vote absentee?

- In NYS, most people with disabilities can get an absentee ballot if they want one. This allows you to cast your vote by mail. And absentee votes are just as valid and counted as votes cast at the polls. Click here for more information on voting by absentee ballot in New York State.

- However, many people prefer to go to their local polling place to vote, the way most voters do, and they have a right to do so. People with disabilities also have an equal right to an accessible polling place where they can independently and privately cast their ballot. All polling places in New York State should have a way for people with mobility, motor, visual, or hearing disabilities to cast their vote.

- If you choose to have someone help you with the voting process, you may. But you cannot be forced by someone else into having help to vote.

Aren't there certain kinds of disabilities that make it impossible or inappropriate to vote?

- In the United States, you don't have to demonstrate any particular level of knowledge or understanding to be eligible to vote. You just have to be a United States citizen and 18 years old or over. That applies to everyone, including people with all kinds of disabilities.

- NYS Law allows judges to rule a person with cognitive disabilities ineligible to vote when it is part of a legal guardianship. However, it is not an automatic part of every guardianship, it can be reversed and voting allowed if appealed, and in general, people have a right to register regardless of their disabilities unless specifically deemed ineligible by a judge.

- The vast majority of people with disabilities are as capable as anyone else of making their own voting decisions.

I don't know much about politics. Wouldn't it be kind of wrong for me to vote?

- One of the core principles of democracy is that you don't have to have a certain level of knowledge or intelligence to have a meaningful right to vote. If your vote isn't especially informed, and cast more on instinct, it is still valuable, and your insights are no better or worse than those of other voters.

- That said, if you feel like you would like to be more knowledgeable, you can change that. You can start by visiting websites about the 2018 Midterm Elections, and then visiting the websites of candidates who will be on your ballot.
Red white and blue sign reading "VOTE!"
Why is it important for people with disabilities to vote?

- People with disabilities are a potentially huge voting constituency. Almost 16 million people with disabilities voted in 2016. Recently, major elections have come down to thousands of votes. In local races, hundreds or even handfuls of votes can make the difference.

- In 2016, 68.3% of voting age people with disabilities were registered to vote, compared to 70.6% of non-disabled people, a 2.3% gap. 82% of registered disabled voters actually voted, compared with 88% of non-disabled registered voters, a 6% gap. (Source: Lisa Schur and Douglas Kruse, Fact sheet: Disability and Voter Turnout in the 2016 Elections).

- Just about all disability-related policy is affected by who is elected to Congress, state legislatures, counties, towns, and village offices … including the scope, quality, and funding of Medicaid and Medicare, Social Security, SNAP and housing assistance, home care, developmental disability services, independent living centers, and civil rights laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

- Who knows better how these and other disability programs should be designed and implemented. Very few lawmakers really know the disability experience. They rely on us not just for our votes, but for our everyday expertise on disability issues. We have the numbers and the knowledge to make a difference. But potential alone doesn’t do anything. First we have to follow through and vote.

The National Council on Independent Living has resources for voters with disabilities. Click here to visit their page.

You can also check an analysis of the races for Congress, every day from now until election day, at these FiveThirtyEight.com pages: Senate Forecast - House Forecast.

If you are looking for information on current disability issues, visit the following websites:

2018 NCIL Legislative & Advocacy Priorities Booklet

National Disability Voter Registration Week

Register! Educate! Vote! Use your Power! RevUp! Make the Disability Vote Count!

Do you have a disability? Does someone in your family of voting age have a disability? Are you registered to vote? Are they registered to vote?

The deadline to register in New York State for the November 6, 2018 Midterm Election is October 12, 2018.

For more information or to register, call the North Country Center for Independence at 518-563-9058.


Important things to know about voting and people with disabilities:

  • People with any kind of disability can register to vote, as long as they are U.S. citizens of voting age, 18 or older. Cognitive or mental disabilities do not disqualify someone from voting, unless an individual been ruled legally ineligible. Election officials and poll workers alone cannot determine a disabled person’s eligibility to vote.
  • Disabled adults who are under legal guardianship may or may not be eligible to vote, depending on the terms of their guardianship. If you are not sure, you should find out. Guardianship terms can be changed if necessary to specifically allow an otherwise eligible person with disabilities who is under guardianship to vote.
  • Polling places should be physically accessible, and have voting mechanisms that are accessible to blind, visually impaired, and physically impaired people. Some disabled people may, if they choose, request a mail-in absentee ballot, but that does not lessen the obligation for polling sites to be accessible.
  • If transportation is an issue, and you want to vote, it’s best to make arrangements well ahead of election day.
  • You may be asked to provide identification at your polling site. A driver’s license, passport, or non-driver ID will suffice.
  • If you have any difficulty voting, or anyone tries to prevent you from voting, call your Board of Elections: Clinton Co. 518-565-4740, Essex Co. 518-873-3474, Franklin Co. 518-481-1663.
Lisa Schur and Douglas Kruse of Rutgers University have been studying voting participation among people with disabilities over the last few elections. Their most recent report, looking at 2016 voting, included some key findings:

About 16 million Americans with disabilities voted in 2016.

68.3% of voting age people with disabilities were registered to vote in 2016, compared to 70.6% of non-disabled people, a 2.3% registration gap. 82% of registered disabled voters actually voted, compared with 88% of non-disabled registered voters, a 6% gap in voting participation.

Kruse and Schur found that while voting by disabled people increased from 2008 to 2012, the voting rate for people with disabilities actually went down in 2016.