Last week, ACL represented the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services at the Access and Mobility for All Summit hosted by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT). In addition to speeches and panel discussions, the summit featured technology demonstrations by local Assistive Technology Act programs and the approval of a strategic plan for the Coordinating Council on Access and Mobility (CCAM) – an interagency partnership to coordinate the efforts of federal agencies funding transportation services.
Of particular significance to ACL’s grantees and partners, the summit included an announcement of new funding to promote inclusive transportation and a discussion about harnessing ACL and HHS program funds to meet “matching” requirements for several grants from the USDOT’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA).
New Funding Opportunity
FTA has announced the Mobility for All Pilot Program. The $3.5 million grant program is available to states and tribes who can partner with community-based organizations as sub-applicants, The program will fund projects that enhance transportation connections to jobs, education, and health services for older adults, people with disabilities, and people with low income.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced a combined $112 million available to expand the supply of permanent affordable housing for very low-income persons with disabilities.
Funding is available for the two components of the Section 811 Program:
Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities (Capital Advance), and
Project Rental Assistance.
The available funding includes $75 million in capital advances for the development of new supportive housing for this vulnerable population and $37 million in rental assistance to eligible housing agencies working closely with state health and human services or Medicaid agencies.
“Nothing about us without us” is at the core of the disability rights movement, and active participation in policy making by people with disabilities is the driving force behind continued advances in inclusion, integration, and equal opportunities for people with disabilities.
However, “policy speak” — including jargon, acronyms, and obscure legal references — can make it very difficult for people to understand information that affects their lives and effectively leave many people out of important policy discussions. This can disproportionately affect people with intellectual disabilities, learning disabilities, and limited English proficiency.
We hear repeatedly that without family caregivers, our long-term services system would be stretched to the breaking point. Family caregivers make it possible for so many of our nation’s citizens to remain independent, living in the settings of their choice.
Supporting families and family caregivers in their efforts to assist their friends and loved ones is at the very core of the mission of the Administration for Community Living. That gives us a tremendous opportunity to advance how we think about supporting families that include older adults who need assistance in their later years, people with disabilities at every stage of their lives, or both. We also have the opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of real people, through programs that provide support to families and caregivers.
Every November, we stop to recognize and thank family caregivers for all they do on behalf of their loved ones. This year, I think we have even more reason to be thankful, to celebrate family caregivers, and to be optimistic for the future of family caregiver support.
CHICAGO — When Glynis Harvey and Mark Cagley opened Hidden Manna Cafe four years ago, the couple did not set out to hire people with disabilities.
But then a social service agency asked: Might the Matteson restaurant employ a woman with cerebral palsy? How about a man with mild blindness? A customer asked for an application for her sister, who has an intellectual disability.
Harvey and Cagley were good people to ask. They have twin sons, now 28, with autism, and so they understood how difficult it is for people with disabilities to find jobs. They also knew how hard they worked once given the chance.
As chair of the U.S. Access Board, I had the privilege of participating in an event today celebrating the anniversary of the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) of 1968 and the fifty years of progress it helped spark.
Before the ABA was passed, accessibility standards were often inconsistent — and just as often ignored. The American National Standards Institute developed the first accessibility standards in 1961 with the help of Easter Seals and the research of the University of Illinois. Many states used these early standards to develop accessibility requirements in their building codes. However, other states adopted access requirements that ranged from lax to nearly nonexistent. This resulted in great discrepancies in accessible design requirements from state to state, and in some cases, from city to city.
This had real life impacts. It meant that a wheelchair user could easily go to the post office in one town but not in a nearby state or community. The same problem existed with respect to sidewalks, entrances, bathroom stalls, paths of travel, signage, and everything else that makes a building accessible.
The National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) at ACL issued a request for information about people with disabilities and opioid use disorder, which yielded comments from 50 respondents, including consumers, community and national organizations, research teams, and federal partners.
Key findings from this effort are helpful to NIDILRR as it considers developing new funding opportunities related to the opioid crisis. These responses provided information about what is known and what are the most pressing research questions for the disability and rehabilitation research fiends. A common thread among respondents was that there are many important unanswered research questions at the nexus of chronic pain, opioid misuse, and people with disabilities.
We all know that good nutrition is the foundation of good health. Healthy eating can help people achieve and maintain a healthy weight, prevent the onset of chronic diseases, reduce inflammation, and speed recovery from injuries. On the other hand, poor nutrition is connected to a variety of health problems.
Earlier this month, I had lunch with Vice Admiral Jerome Adams, the U.S. Surgeon General. I shared some of the things ACL was working on during National Nutrition Month, and we talked about how important nutrition is for the people ACL serves.
VADM Adams gets it. “People who don’t have enough healthy food are more likely to be hospitalized, tend to experience longer hospital stays, and are more likely to be readmitted after discharge. Good nutrition is important to everyone, but it is even more critical for those at risk for being food insecure, such as older adults and people with disabilities, many of whom already are already at increased risk of hospitalization.”
A change in a Medicaid waiver reimbursement system for the state’s special-needs population has left some health providers without enough funding to sustain their services.
Changes to the home- and community-based services waiver — which affects approximately 5,000 Iowans who have traumatic brain injuries, developmental or intellectual disabilities — moved the payment model from a fee-for-service model to a tiered rate system, effective Dec. 1, 2017.
While Iowa Department of Human Services officials say this change will create more stability to the reimbursement system, it leaves some such as Jean Sturtz, who care for those covered by the waiver, concerned for their loved ones’ future.
October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, and all month we’ve been celebrating the many contributions of workers with disabilities and highlighting some of our work to remove the barriers that often prevent people with disabilities from working.
At ACL, we have a vibrant workforce that benefits from the diversity of experiences contributed by people from all backgrounds, including many people with disabilities. Unfortunately, we are far from typical, and it is a sad fact that people with disabilities are far less likely to be working than their peers. The latest data from the Employment Policy and Measurement Rehabilitation and Research Training Center indicates that 33 percent of working-age people with disabilities participate in the labor force, compared to 77 percent of their peers without disabilities.