By Kait Sanchez: For Entire Post, Click Here…

From Tumblr to TikTok, young disabled people are deciding how to represent themselves.

WhenWhen Tyler Trewhella opened Tumblr in 2014 and posted a photo of themself outside a diner, they had no idea that image would become their legacy. The photo shows them with cane in hand and cigarette in mouth, clad in boots, a denim jacket with pins, and a hat with earflaps. A small banner across the picture was originally going to say “diner punk,” but they decided at the last second to change it to “cripple punk.” Tongue in cheek, they captioned the post, “i’m starting a movement.”

The post attracted a flood of hate mail, saying that disability isn’t something to be proud of, that disabled people shouldn’t smoke, or that a movement that “leaves out healthy people’’ isn’t punk. Trewhella took screenshots of the messages and added them to the post, writing, “This is why we need cripple punk.” Other people with disabilities started reblogging the post to add their own selfies, and tagging posts with cripple punk. To Trewhella’s surprise, a movement was born.

Detroit launches plan to improve access to jobs, housing for disabled residents

By Hani Barghouthi: For Entire Post, Click Here…

Mayor Mike Duggan on Monday announced a multi-year plan to improve access to housing, transportation and employment for the city’s disabled residents. 

The mayor said the proposal is the product of months of coordination between his office, multiple city departments, including the Detroit’s Civil Rights, Inclusion and Opportunity Department and community groups. 

The announcement comes six months after Detroit’s Office of Disability Affairs was established, a move Duggan described as a commitment to “making clear to the disabled members of our community that they were fully valued and that we wanted their talents and contributions.”

Duggan unveiled the three-year plan during a joint press conference with city officials and community organizers on the 31st anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

CRIO Director Kim Rustem said the department was commemorating the anniversary by making sure all Detroiters felt represented by the city’s policies.

Loneliness, Aging, and Polypharmacy

by John Gever: For Entire Post, Click Here…

Doctors advised to try “social prescribing” in place of more meds.

Older people who scored high on a loneliness questionnaire were more likely to take multiple medications, mostly psychotropics, than those reporting no social support deficits, researchers said.

Use of antidepressants, benzodiazepines, and other anxiolytic/sedative drugs were all significantly more common in individuals older than 65 with substantial loneliness indicators versus those with none, with differences in prevalence of 6 to 13 percentage points after adjustments, according to Ashwin Kotwal, MD, MS, of University of California San Francisco, and colleagues writing in JAMA Internal Medicine.

“[C]linicians should consider initiating social interventions for lonely older adults or ‘social prescribing’ to local community-based support programs” rather than piling on medications to relieve symptoms, Kotwal’s group suggested. They noted that loneliness may contribute to somatic and psychiatric problems; and in those cases in which loneliness results from such symptoms, it may exacerbate them. And, the researchers pointed out, medications are unlikely to relieve loneliness.

REAADI for Disasters Act & DRMA

From REAADI for Disasters Act & DRMA: For Entire Post, Click Here…

The Real Emergency Access for Aging and Disability Inclusion for Disasters Act (REAADI) and The Disaster Relief Medicaid Act (DRMA) will work together to provide solutions that help individuals maintain their health, safety, and independence before, during, and after disasters.

ngdThis is the most likely-to-pass version of what our community needs to create a real disaster response for people with disabilities…

REAADI will:

  • Modifies and expands the National Advisory Committee on Individuals with Disabilities and  Disasters (NACIDD) to ensure that it accurately reflects the diverse characteristics of the disability  community.z
  • Creates a network of centers focused on training and technical assistance, as well as research, to  help state and local governments better involve and support people with disabilities and older adults  during and after times of disasters. 
  • Requires the Department of Justice to examine the extent to which the civil rights of people with  disabilities and older adults are upheld during and after disasters.

DRMA will:

  • Ensure Medicaid services and supports are available for individuals forced to relocate to another state as a result of a disaster or emergency, and create a simplified application and approval process to speed the availability of Medicaid services to relief-eligible survivors.
  • Provide technical assistance and support to develop innovative state strategies to respond to an influx of out-of-state individuals due to a disaster and permits states to utilize out-of-state providers in order to help meet that demand.
  • Creates a grant to help states develop an emergency response corps to provide home and community-based services to Relief-Eligible Survivors.

Looking Back on a Month of ADA Celebrations

From ACL: For Entire Post, Click Here…

Today, we wrap up our month-long celebration of the 31st anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. We hope you have enjoyed the blog posts and events, and that the information, tools, and other resources we have been sharing from across the federal government have been helpful.

Before we close, we have a few more things to share:

  • Please join: A Conversation about Long COVID – Earlier this week, the White House published this comprehensive package of resources for people with disabilities, including people with COVID-related disabilities. On Monday, Aug. 2, from 4:00 to 4:45pm (EDT) the White House Office of Public Engagement, in conjunction with the Departments of Health and Human Services, Education, and Labor, will:
    • Review the guidance published on Monday by the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and the Department of Justice that explains when long COVID can be a disability under various civil rights laws, and how those laws protect people with disabilities due to COVID-19
    • Share information on how to access supports
    • Answer questions

You must register in order to access the meeting. ASL and CART will be provided, and other accommodations can be requested when you register. (This conversation will be off-the-record and is closed to the press.)

(And ICYMI on Monday, you can find more resources on long COVID on our COVID-19 website.)

The ADA guarantees the rights of people with disabilities to equal access and equal opportunities, and ACL’s programs provide many of the services and supports that make both possible. We’re highlighting just a couple of them with the resources below:

  • Centers for Independent Living are supporting vaccine access: Equal access to health care is one of the rights guaranteed by the Americans with Disabilities Act. In this guest blog, Mary Willard, Director of Training and Technical Assistance for the Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL), talks about how Centers for Independent Living are working to ensure people with disabilities have equal access to COVID-19 vaccinations. 
  • DIAL helps connect people with disabilities to vaccines (spread the word!): In June, ACL announced the launch of the Disability Information Assistance Line, the first national hotline to help people with disabilities access vaccinations in their communities and connect to information and services that promote independent living and address fundamental needs, such as food, housing, and transportation. This infographic published today makes it easy to spread the word about this resource.
  • Programs that help older adults connect to assistive technology: This fact sheet explains how state Assistive Technology Act programs and Older Americans Act programs can work together to connect older adults to tools and technology to support community living.
  • Promoting Competitive, Integrated Employment: The Inclusive Talent Pipeline for American Businesses prize competition seeks to help businesses expand their recruiting and retention programs to better include workers with disabilities. 
  • Stabilizing the Direct Support Professionals workforce: Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) play a critical role in sustaining the independence of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (ID/DD). However, with significant challenges to recruiting and an average turnover rate of 45%, demand for DSPs far exceeds supply, and many people are unable to obtain all of the services they need. The Blazing New Trails for Community-Based Direct Support Professionals prize competition seeks to develop and pilot models that will transform the DSP workforce and improve the stability of home- and community-based services.

A few more things from our partners:

  • SAMHSA Celebrates the ADA: In this blog post, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Paolo del Vecchio reflects on the ADA’s personal significance as a person with lived experience of mental illness, addictions, and trauma and highlighting SAMHSA’s ongoing work to support people with disabilities.
  • Supporting Students with Disabilities During the Pandemic: Suzanne B. Goldberg, Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education, blogs  about the importance of the ADA in education, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on students with disabilities, and the department’s work to address these challenges, including by supporting students with long COVID.
  • Guidance on School Reopening for Students with Disabilities. The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights released a Q&A on civil rights and the reopening of schools during the pandemic.

You’ll find all of these and more on our 31st anniversary web page.

Before we go, happy 56th birthday to Medicare and Medicaid! On July 30, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law legislation that established the Medicare and Medicaid programs. Today, nearly 140 million people, including millions of older adults and people with disabilities, are covered by these programs. This video featuring the story of Cindy Jennings from Pennsylvania illustrates why these programs are so important — Medicaid has not only been life-changing for her family, it has been lifesaving.

Michigan Supreme Court Limits Use of Restraints on Juveniles

by Jodi S. Cohen: For Entire Post, Click Here…

A year after Grace’s story drew national attention when she was jailed for not doing her online schoolwork, outcry over the shackling of young people in court has resulted in a ban on the practice unless there’s a risk of physical harm or flight.

The Michigan Supreme Court on Wednesday significantly limited when handcuffs, shackles and other restraints can be used on young people when they appear in court.

The new court rule, which goes into effect Sept. 1, states that juveniles cannot be put in restraints unless a judge finds it is necessary for one of three reasons: to prevent physical harm to the young person or others; because the juvenile has a history of disruptive courtroom behavior; or there is a strong reason to believe the juvenile will flee the courtroom.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Launches Rental Assistance Finder to Help Renters and Landlords

From ACL: For Entire Post, Click Here…

Thanks to the American Rescue Plan, billions of dollars in federal rental assistance are reaching renters who are behind on housing costs, as well as landlords who have struggled during the pandemic. Right now emergency rental assistance is available across the country through locally run programs.

Apply for COVID Rent ReliefToday, the CFPB debuted a new tool that helps renters and landlords look up rental assistance in their area and apply for assistance.The Rental Assistance Finder is designed to help tenants and landlords take advantage of emergency rental assistance that can be used to cover rent, utilities, and other housing costs. Ultimately, the goal is keep people in their homes.

‘Anorexia coach’: sexual predators online are targeting teens wanting to lose weight. Platforms are looking the other way

By Suku Sukunesan: For Entire Post, Click Here…

There’s no shortage of people online looking to exploit and manipulate the vulnerable among us. One such group is anorexia coaches, or “anacoaches”.

They are typically middle-aged, male sexual predators who go online to find impressionable young people to exploit under the guise of providing weight-loss “coaching”.

I have been researching how anacoaches operate. I’ve found they are facilitated by flaws within social media algorithms, as well as large numbers of young people seeking weight-loss help online.

My ongoing research, coupled with other media reports, indicates opportunity for anacoaches has risen in the past few years. My analysis showed that on Twitter alone there are about 300 unique requests for anacoaches around the world daily.

Anacoaches operate on numerous channels, including established social platforms such as Twitter, TikTok, Tumblr and Kik. Despite this, these platforms haven’t addressed the problem.

Targeting teens

An estimated 4% of Australians, or roughly one million people, are affected by eating disorders. And almost two-thirds (63%) of these people are thought to be female.

Screenshot from TikTok. Author provided

Teenagers with eating disorders are more likely to experience poor mental health and impaired functioning in social environments — which leaves them more vulnerable to the influence of anacoaches.

Also, research has shown social media use can exacerbate the extent to which teenagers and young adults chase a “thin” ideal.

One study published by a Dutch human rights law group on the predatory behaviours of anacoaches found self-reporting victims had been sexually assaulted and even raped.

And with anacoaching comes the potential for other forms of criminal abuse, such as paedophilia, forced prostitution and even human trafficking.

Hospital admits auto accident survivor with no other place to go after his caregivers leave

By TRACY SAMILTON: For Entire Post, Click Here…

ngd-And so the abandonment begins…

Michigan’s new auto insurance law is overturning the lives of many auto accident survivors and their families, week by week, as long-term care providers that used to support them close.

Take the case of one of Christine Call’s clients. She’s a case manager for auto accident survivors. One of her clients is a quadriplegic with a traumatic brain injury.

He is unable to transfer himself in and out of bed or in and out of his wheelchair. He can’t get a drink of water for himself. He can’t get himself anything to eat. And he has no family, so he is completely dependent on his caregivers – paid for by his auto insurance company – to survive.

But recent changes to the law allow auto insurance companies to cut payments to caregivers by 45%, which forced the company that provided full-time care for the man out of business.

Call was unable to find any other caregiving company that still accepts auto insurance payments. So she had no choice but to drive him to Bronson Hospital in Kalamazoo and leave him there.  

Now, he is lying in a hospital bed, while she frantically tries to find a company that can provide adequate care so he can go home.

This man may not be the first auto accident survivor to seek care at a hospital to save his life, and he certainly won’t be the last. Call says she has other clients who have lost care and are in desperate situations. Other case managers say the same.

When Call reaches out to insurance companies – Nationwide, Progressive, AAA Michigan – she gets no help. Adjusters tell her, “Hire an attorney to help you understand the new law.” “It’s not our job to help you help our customers replace their caregivers.”

The new law also cuts Call’s income by 45%. But she says she’s not quitting her job when when it means abandoning helpless and vulnerable people.

Moving From Survival

By Sandy Ho: For Entire Post, Click Here…

Editor’s note: This op-ed by the author was recently rejected by The New York Times’ (NYT) opinion section. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic it is critically important to center disabled people in policy conversations about community living and care as infrastructure. A recent collection of letters to the editor from NYT about the Better Care Better Jobs Act was extraordinarily inadequate. Enjoy!

I knew adhering to public health guidance would not be enough for me to survive the pandemic. As a disabled person who is a wheelchair-user with a compromised respiratory system and needs a CPAP machine every night, I am alive because of my control over who provides my personal care, where and how I live, who comes in and out of my home, and how my care is provided. My access to Medicaid home and community-based services (HCBS) is a significant reason I did not die during this pandemic. But is it significant enough to compel political will in D.C. to pass legislation that will expand federal funding of Medicaid HCBS?

It almost seems like I survived this pandemic by chance. I happen to be a lifelong resident of Massachusetts, a state that has provided Medicaid HCBS since 1985. Soon after I was born with a congenital disability, my parents enrolled me in MassHealth, the state’s Medicaid program. Over the course of three decades, I have become connected with a network of agencies and services that have taken place in my home instead of requiring that I move to a nursing home type setting. But during the pandemic my luck was the difference between potentially becoming a COVID-mortality statistic and one of the lucky few who received these essential services. Agencies like the Boston Center for Independent Living mailed masks and other protective equipment so consumers and the people we hired could be safe. In March, my family and I buried my grandmother and strategized ways we could grieve safely while providing one another emotional support. My doctors ensured that my medical supplies and medications could be mailed to my home or picked up at the pharmacy by a person I hired. I frequently zoomed or FaceTimed with other disabled friends across the country to share strategies and tips to help each other get by. Because I self-direct my services, Medicaid HCBS facilitates the ways I can be cared for and can provide care to those around me. 

Medicaid HCBS sends the message that the state trusts and supports me in self-directing my services including hiring, firing, and training the people, including family and friends, to provide direct care for me. During a time when there seemed to be no answers and with a U.S. death toll surpassing six hundred thousand, I was constantly worrying about what ifs: What if someone I hired to provide direct care became sick? What if I became sick? What if I was denied a ventilator at the hospital ICU because of my disabilities? What if I couldn’t access PPE or medical supplies for myself or my workers?