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National Council on Disability Bulletin, January 2008

NCD Bulletin (Electronic Edition)

A Monthly Publication of the National Council on Disability (NCD)

John R. Vaughn, Chairperson January 2008

NCD Celebrating 30 Years of Empowerment: 1978-2008

WASHINGTON, Feb. 15 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is the National Council on Disability's monthly bulletin for January 2008:

The Bulletin, which is free of charge and at NCD's award-winning Web site (, brings you the latest issues and news affecting people with disabilities. To subscribe to the NCD listserv, go to, click on Online mailing list archives, select NCD-NEWS-L, click on Join or leave the list, then complete the short subscription form. Please send your editorial comments to Bulletin editor Mark S. Quigley (

NCD Conducts New Orleans Meeting

NCD conducted its fall quarterly meeting January 28-30 at the New Orleans Marriott at the Convention Center. One-hundred seventeen participants gathered at the meeting, which is a near-record number of audience participants for a quarterly meeting.

Before the meeting began on January 28, NCD board and staff took a two-hour guided bus tour of Katrina-ravaged areas in New Orleans.

During the meeting, NCD heard presentations on emergency preparedness. The primary focus of these presentations was to gather information from stakeholders and professionals as well as to receive public comment on emergency preparedness, homeland security, and other issues of importance to people with disabilities. Under the Homeland Security Appropriations Bill (H.R. 5441) signed by President Bush on October 4, 2006, NCD was assigned key responsibilities for disability-related issues in homeland security.

The following presenters discussed emergency preparedness from a disability organization/survivor point of view and elaborated on lessons learned: Charles Tubre, Systems Advocacy Specialist, Advocacy Center, New Orleans, LA; Tony Koosis, Program Manager, Houston Center for Independent Living, Houston, TX; and Christy Dunaway, Executive Director, Living Independence For Everyone (LIFE) of Mississippi, Jackson, MS.

Another panel of presenters discussed the role of nongovernmental organizations in major disasters: Kay Wilkins, CEO, Southeast Louisiana Chapter, American Red Cross, Metairie, LA; Michael Hawley, Major and Area Commander, The Salvation Army, New Orleans, LA; and Talatha Dennison, Mississippi Protection and Advocacy System, Inc., Jackson, MS.

A first responder's perspective was presented by David Lipin, Commander, Disaster Medical Assistance Team, San Francisco, CA. Elizabeth Davis, EAD and Associates, LLC, Brooklyn, NY, presented information on advances in preparation, response, and recovery for people with disabilities in disasters. FEMA Disability Coordinator Cindy Daniel gave an overview of FEMA's role in disasters and addressed future goals of the agency. The final speaker, Larry K. Fisher, Operations Section Chief, Office of Emergency Preparedness, City of New Orleans, discussed the public policy perspective of emergency preparedness.

In addition to presentations on emergency preparedness, Kathy Kliebert, Assistant Secretary, Office for Citizens with Developmental Disabilities spoke about health care, and Stephan Hamlin-Smith, Executive Director, Association of Higher Education and Disability, addressed NCD on employment and transition issues for youth with disabilities.

NCD Releases No Child Left Behind Report

On January 28, NCD released a report in New Orleans analyzing the progress of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The report says that students with disabilities are no longer ignored, and that NCLB and IDEA have had a significant, positive impact.

Thanks to NCLB, with its push for improved student outcomes, as well as the IDEA, educators across the United States are reexamining their practices to find ways to close the achievement gaps between groups of students. Students with disabilities are a focus of this attention as schools and states work hard to improve their academic outcomes. Policymakers are studying the ongoing implementation of both NCLB and IDEA to determine the most effective means for serving students with disabilities.

NCD commissioned The No Child Left Behind Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act: A Progress Report to assist policy leaders and stakeholders in assessing the impact of NCLB and IDEA on schools, including student outcomes produced as a result of changes mandated in the laws. This report provides a detailed analysis of such key questions as (a) How has student achievement status changed since the laws were (re)authorized? (b) What impact have the laws had on assessment systems, accountability systems, and systems of personnel development? and (c) Which barriers are impeding the achievement of students with disabilities, and how can those barriers be overcome?

Panelists included Lisa Mattheiss, NCD Board Member; Dr. Watson Scott Swail, President & CEO, Educational Policy Institute; and NCD Chairperson John R. Vaughn as moderator.

The report in its entirety can be found at ( ess_Report.html).

NCD Releases Annual Progress Report

On January 15, NCD released its annual report, National Disability Policy: A Progress Report ( rogress_Report.html). The report notes progress where it has occurred and makes further recommendations where necessary to the executive and legislative branches of the Federal Government.

NCD has observed many examples of continued progress in disability policy. Among these are the Help America Vote Act for increasing access to elections for Americans with disabilities, developments under the Assistive Technology Act that hold out the promise for enhanced coordination in the delivery of services, and the positive role of the Department of Justice in a recent Detroit public transit case. This is just some of the positive progress we note as a result of the Administration's leadership through the New Freedom Initiative.

Notwithstanding this progress, many challenges remain for our citizens who are living with disabilities and who wish to be more independent, more productive, and more actively involved in their families and communities. Far too many Americans are desperately trying to improve the quality of their lives, but they are frustrated by a lack of affordable accessible housing, transportation, and long-term services and supports. NCD will continue to develop policy recommendations to address these issues.

NCD Provides ADA Restoration Act Testimony

On January 29, The House Committee on Education and Labor held a hearing on H.R. 3915, the Americans with Disabilities Restoration Act of 2007. NCD submitted written testimony for the record, which is available at It is more important than ever that Congress restore the ADA to its original congressional intent. People with disabilities such as epilepsy, depression, diabetes, cancer, multiple sclerosis, and hearing loss are experiencing discrimination in the workplace, with no recourse, because courts must follow Supreme Court precedent that excludes them from ADA protections. Congress intended the ADA to provide a comprehensive prohibition against disability-based discrimination. Regrettably, the Supreme Court has narrowed the ADA definition of "disability" such that people with real disabilities can be discriminated against by employers, who argue the victim cannot pursue and ADA discrimination claim because the person does not have a disability. Protection from disability discrimination is a civil right, not a social service, and should apply to anyone who is discriminated against because of a disability.

NCD to Release Foster Youth Report

On February 26, NCD will release Youth with Disabilities in the Foster Care System: Barriers to Success and Proposed Policy Solutions. The release will take place from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Conference Room 505A.

NCD's report examines one exceptionally challenged group in particular: older youth (specifically, preteen through young adult) with disabilities who are in the foster youth system. The report makes several recommendations regarding cross-system collaboration and transition services that can be used as a launching pad for further intensive and detailed discussions with involvement from a wide range of stakeholders -- including the youth themselves.

NCD Member Activities

On January 28, NCD board member Cynthia Wainscott was appointed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to its National Advisory Council. The SAMHSA National Advisory Council is a 12-member panel of experts that meets regularly to advise the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and SAMHSA's Administrator on a wide range of public health matters related to prevention, treatment, and recovery support services.

Ms. Wainscott is a former CEO and President of Mental Health America, Cartersville, GA. Her work with the National Institute of Mental Health's Depression/Awareness, Recognition and Treatment (D/ART) program has earned numerous national awards, including recognition as the National Mental Health Association's most effective state executive director. Ms. Wainscott has served as a member of the Center for Mental Health Services National Advisory Council and is a founding member of the board of directors of the Campaign for Mental Health Reform.

Youth Advisory Committee Seeks Input on Aversives/Restraints and Healthcare

NCD's Youth Advisory Committee (YAC) needs your help. The YAC is gathering information as background for two different papers to support recommendations the YAC will make from a youth perspective. The role of the YAC is to provide recommendations directly to NCD regarding policy and issues affecting the lives of youth with disabilities nationwide. One topic is about the use of aversives and restraint. The other topic is about access to healthcare. For details about how you can have an opportunity to share your perspectives, please contact NCD's designated federal official for YAC, Dr. Gerrie Hawkins at Thank you.

Quarterly Meetings

NCD's spring quarterly meeting will be held April 21-23, 2008, at the Westin Arlington Gateway, 801 North Glebe Road, Arlington, VA.

Preparations are also underway for NCD's summer and fall quarterly meetings, which will be held, respectively, July 14-16, 2008, in Seattle, WA, and October 6-8, 2008, in Kansas City, MO.

These meetings are open to the public. People with disabilities are encouraged to attend and participate in the daily public comment segments of the meetings. The agendas will be posted at prior to each meeting.

SOURCE National Council on Disability
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