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National Council on Disability Monthly Bulletin for November 2008

WASHINGTON, Dec. 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Following is the National Council on Disability's monthly bulletin for November 2008:

A Monthly Newsletter from the National Council on Disability (NCD)

John R. Vaughn, Chairperson

November 2008

NCD -- 30 Years of Disability Policy Leadership -- 1978-2008

A Letter from NCD Chairperson John R. Vaughn

I am delighted to tell you that on November 6, the National Council on Disability (NCD) celebrated 30 years of disability policy leadership (1978-1998). NCD was initially established in 1978 as an advisory board within the U.S. Department of Education (P.L. 95-602). Congress changed that with the 1984 Rehabilitation Act Amendments (P.L. 98-221), transforming NCD into an independent federal agency with 15 members appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the United States Senate.

From the beginning, NCD has been providing advice to the President, Congress, and executive branch agencies to promote policies, programs, practices, and procedures that guarantee equal opportunity for all individuals with disabilities, regardless of the nature or severity of the disability; and empower individuals with disabilities to achieve economic self-sufficiency, independent living, and inclusion and integration into all aspects of society.

We are also proud that NCD, with the input of people with disabilities and stakeholders from around the country, played a pivotal role in the adoption of the ADA in 1990 as a result of our 1986 report entitled Towards Independence ( Since that time, NCD has been a valuable contributor in promoting successful disability policies in many arenas, including education, transportation, homeland security, emergency preparedness, international disability rights, employment, foster youth with disabilities, vocational rehabilitation, livable communities, and crime victims with disabilities, to cite a few. All of NCD's policy recommendations can be found in our Newsroom under Publications (

Today, NCD is currently working on projects that will take us into the future. These projects involve:

  • The Current State of Health Care for People with Disabilities
  • Invisible Wounds: Serving Service Members and Veterans with PTSD and TBI
  • The Rehabilitation Act: Outcomes for Transition Age Youth
  • Effective Homeland Security Practices for Use by Communities and People with Disabilities
  • National Disability Policy: A Progress Report
  • 2008 Housing Initiative
  • Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act: Implementation Evaluation and Recommendations for Reauthorization
  • Workforce Infrastructure in Support of People with Disabilities: Matching Human Resources to Service Needs
  • Improving the Participation Rate of People with Targeted Disabilities in the Federal Workforce
  • National Summit on Disability Policy 2010

One of our ongoing initiatives is promoting best practices and programs in disability policy. I invite you to share what's working in your community. We believe we can do this great nation a wonderful service if we share best practices with the rest of the country. We believe that what works in one part of the country may work in another part. So, please let us hear from you by writing to us at, or by providing public comment at our quarterly meetings.

The United States will be a stronger place when its 50 million plus citizens with disabilities are fully integrated into all aspects of American life. Over the last 30 years, our country has made significant progress in furthering opportunities for education, employment and independent living for people with disabilities through a broad range of programs that protect individuals with disabilities from discrimination in education, employment, housing and transportation. Despite these advances, significant barriers to achieving the goals of independence, inclusion, and empowerment for all people with disabilities still remain.

Through collaboration with its stakeholders, NCD will continue to pursue a focused agenda that will promote government programs and policies in support of full inclusion of all people with disabilities into the educational, economic and social fabric of the American community. NCD will use the expertise of its diverse membership and staff to identify barriers to inclusion and independence and to develop solutions. NCD will listen to people with disabilities across the country to identify emerging issues that need a response.

As the only agency in the Federal Government that addresses the issues of all people with disabilities, regardless of type or severity, NCD will be aggressive and resolute until people with disabilities in every corner of the land are no longer distinguished by a disability label, but are known as students, workers, parents, neighbors, and friends.

In closing, I want to thank you for your input and support over the last three decades. I also want to thank the current and past NCD members and staff who are too many to name. However, we remember them all for their significant contributions.

We believe that the country is moving forward and expanding opportunities and inclusion for Americans with disabilities. To that end, NCD will continue working with the President, Congress, and our stakeholders to produce meaningful policies that will have a positive influence for all people with disabilities.

National Summit on Disability Policy Update

To chart a course for better and improved policy change in the next decade (2010-2020), NCD will host a July 2010 National Summit on Disability Policy and develop a policy blueprint for the next decade. This milestone event, planned to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the passage of the ADA, will bring together 300-400 people with disabilities, and prominent stakeholders, including federal, community and private sector disability experts, who will confer and exchange ideas on themes pertinent to all people with disabilities. White papers are in development that will identify the key factors surrounding important issues, in order to allow summit delegates to discuss these issues and craft policy recommendations for the decade to follow. These topics will include employment, transportation, housing, education, health care, technology and telecommunications, homeland security and emergency preparedness, international issues, and others. Veterans' issues, underserved populations, and cross-cutting issues will be discussed as well.

National Council on Disability Welcomes New Legislative Affairs Specialist

NCD is pleased to announce that Anne C. Sommers became NCD's Legislative Affairs Specialist on November 24, 2008.

Sommers joins NCD after serving for two years as policy counsel at the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), where she educated congressional and White House staff on key disability legislation. She also bridged the organization's policy work and grassroots communications by producing the organization's national email newsletter, "Justice For All."

Prior to joining AAPD full-time, Sommers was an AAPD consultant on a disability rights project for the American Civil Liberties Union. Sommers graduated in 2006 from the William and Mary School of Law in Williamsburg, Virginia. Prior to pursuing her legal career, Sommers worked for three years in marketing and copywriting in the health insurance industry and before that as a free-lance journalist for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Sommers graduated summa cum laude and received her Bachelor's of Science degree from Virginia Tech University, where she was the opinions editor of the university's award-winning student newspaper.

Quarterly Meetings Update

NCD's Winter meeting will be held January 12-14, 2009, at the Chaparral Suites Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona.

In carrying out our mission, we believe it is vital to hear from communities around the country on what works and what does not for people with disabilities. Our agenda will include sessions on emergency preparedness, healthcare, employment, and several other subjects of interest to the disability community. We are delighted to have the opportunity to visit Arizona and learn firsthand about the experiences of people with disabilities from the Southwest. This is an opportunity to meet NCD members and staff and offer your comments during the public comment sessions, and we hope you will attend and participate.

Specific times are designated to receive public comment, supported by a toll-free call-in line, and input is encouraged and greatly appreciated. Individuals or organizations can also provide written comments by e-mail, fax, or mail. Public comment sessions will be held Monday, January 12 from 11:30 a.m. until noon (MST), on Tuesday, January 13 from 4:30 p.m. until 5:00 p.m., and on Wednesday, January 14 from 11:30 a.m. until noon. The toll-free call-in number is (888) 790-6568, and the pass code is "NCD Meeting."

The Spring quarterly meeting will be held March 30-April 1 in Washington, DC, and the Summer quarterly meeting will be held in July, 2009, in Minneapolis, MN.

DTV Transition

On February 17, 2009, all full-power broadcast television stations in the United States will stop broadcasting on analog airwaves and begin broadcasting only in digital. Digital broadcasting will allow stations to offer improved picture and sound quality and additional channels. Find out more about whether or not you will be impacted by the digital TV (DTV) transition by visiting

The transition may disproportionately affect certain segments of the population, especially those who are more likely to have older, analog televisions and rely exclusively upon free over-the-air television, that is, those who do not subscribe to cable, satellite, or some other paid television service. These include: seniors, people with disabilities, non-English speaking consumers, minority consumers, low-income consumers, and people living in rural and tribal areas. Generally, any consumer with an analog television who is not connected to cable or satellite has three basic options for preparing for the DTV transition. They can either:

1. Purchase a digital-to-analog converter box and connect it to their analog set. Congress has established a program to assist consumers in purchasing converter boxes. Under this program, every household is entitled to two $40 coupons, each of which can be used to help purchase a converter box. Coupons may be requested from or by calling 888-DTV-2009 or,

2. Buy a digital television (a TV with a built in digital tuner). They do not have to buy a High Definition TV (HDTV) to receive digital television programming or,

3. Subscribe to a paid TV service. Those who subscribe to a paid service such as cable or satellite should contact their service provider to see what, if any, equipment they may need.

About the NCD Bulletin

The Bulletin, which is also available at NCD's 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.

Editorial comments can be sent to Bulletin editor Mark S. Quigley (

SOURCE National Council on Disability
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