Looking Back on a Month of ADA Celebrations

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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.

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