Racism and other ‘Isms’- Shaping Systemic Change Through An Equity Lens

From Michigan Department of Civil Rights: For Complete Post, Click Here…

Hosted by the Michigan Department of Civil Rights on June 15th, the 2022 Michigan Civil Rights Summit is a call to action in our current national climate. The event will provide an opportunity for activists, policymakers, funders, academics and public servants to discuss, strategize and collaborate on critical civil rights issues. 

During the day, participants will tackle topics like equity in education, housing, economics, health outcomes, voting rights, and democracy. The approach for each discussion is an examination of how structural “isms” (racism, ageism, sexism, classism, ableism, etc.) impact historically and culturally marginalized communities. Attendees will also consider how systemic advantage shapes discrimination and the role an equity lens plays in helping to dismantle institutional and structural inequity.

The summit will end with a discussion on strategies to operationalize equity in efforts to promote strategic systems change. Attendance will be possible virtually or in-person at the Lansing Center in Lansing, MI.

This event is also available on the Whova Mobile App: Download Link.
You can interact with others on your phone in the app more conveniently wherever you go.

5 Reasons Why Disability Activism Is Still Hard

By Andrew Pulrang: For Complete Post, Click Here…

Disability activism can be exciting, empowering, and enormously fulfilling — especially for people with disabilities themselves. It can also be exhausting and frustrating. And to outside observers, newcomers, and longtime activists, disability activism can seem futile, maybe even fatally flawed.

In 2017, disability activists were instrumental in fighting off efforts to abolish the Affordable Care Act and severely limit Medicaid. In 2020, most of the Presidential candidates felt it politically necessary to offer some kind of detailed disability policy plans. A few of them were notably comprehensive and ambitious.

But despite these encouraging signs of greater political influence over the last few years, the disability community still seems politically underdeveloped and underpowered. It’s worth thinking about exactly why. Here are five likely factors:

1. Disabled people are discouraged from being part of the “Disability Community”

2. Disabled people have vastly different needs and goals

3. Ableism and other prejudices within the disability community elevate some disabled people while marginalizing others

4. Like the rest of society, disabled people are divided and polarized

5. Congress and state legislatures are divided and distracted

Ticketing Accessibility: Come One, Come All

By Christine Payne: For Complete Post, Click Here…

You may remember this famous line from the ‘80s movie “Field of Dreams.” Kevin Costner, playing Iowa farmer Ray Kinsella, hears these words whispering repeatedly to him while walking through a cornfield.

Ultimately, Ray dares to dream, makes the investment (by plowing down part of his crop) and builds “it” — a baseball diamond in the middle of his Iowa cornfield. Then the ghosts of baseball legends Shoeless Joe Jackson and seven other Chicago White Sox players banned from the game for throwing the 1919 World Series show up.

By now you are probably wondering just what does this line from a sports fantasy movie have to do with ticketing accessibility?

Android 13 Beta 3 will bring native support for braille displays

By Kishan Vyas: For Complete Post, Click Here…

Over the years, Google has added many features to Android to make the operating system more accessible to people with special needs. For instance, Andriod 10 brought Live Caption and Live Transcribe, while Android 12 added a new feature called Camera Switches, allowing users to control their phones with facial expressions. As part of this continued push, Google will be adding native support for braille displays in Android 13.

In a blog post on Thursday, Google announced that the upcoming Android 13 beta release would bring out-of-the-box support for braille display. For the unaware, a refreshable braille display is an electro-mechanic device that surfaces information by raising round-tipped pins through holes in a flat surface. It enables blind and deafblind users (who can’t use a screen reader) to access smartphones or computers. It has always been possible to use a braille display on Andriod using the Talkback app. But now, Google is baking the Talkback features right into Android so users won’t need to download a separate app.

Apple previews innovative accessibility features combining the power of hardware, software, and machine learning

From Apple Newsroom: For Complete Post, Click Here…

Software features coming later this year offer users with disabilities new tools for navigation, health, communication, and more.

Apple today previewed innovative software features that introduce new ways for users with disabilities to navigate, connect, and get the most out of Apple products. These powerful updates combine the company’s latest technologies to deliver unique and customizable tools for users, and build on Apple’s long-standing commitment to making products that work for everyone.

Using advancements across hardware, software, and machine learning, people who are blind or low vision can use their iPhone and iPad to navigate the last few feet to their destination with Door Detection; users with physical and motor disabilities who may rely on assistive features like Voice Control and Switch Control can fully control Apple Watch from their iPhone with Apple Watch Mirroring; and the Deaf and hard of hearing community can follow Live Captions on iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Apple is also expanding support for its industry-leading screen reader VoiceOver with over 20 new languages and locales. These features will be available later this year with software updates across Apple platforms.

“Apple embeds accessibility into every aspect of our work, and we are committed to designing the best products and services for everyone,” said Sarah Herrlinger, Apple’s senior director of Accessibility Policy and Initiatives. “We’re excited to introduce these new features, which combine innovation and creativity from teams across Apple to give users more options to use our products in ways that best suit their needs and lives.”

Door Detection for Users Who Are Blind or Low Vision

Direct Care Workforce Policy and Action Guide

From CHCS: For Complete Post, Click Here…

The U.S. is facing a dire shortage of direct care workers (DCW), who provide essential services to older adults and people with disabilities. Although state officials understand the importance of meaningfully supporting the direct care workforce, they often struggle to identify how to tackle the problem in a systematic, effective way.

The Direct Care Workforce Policy and Action Guide, a new Milbank Memorial Fund resource for state officials examines the challenges that direct care workers face — and the administrative, funding, policy, and regulatory levers that states can use to better support this critical workforce. The guide, coauthored by the Center for Health Care Strategies, IMPART Alliance/Michigan State University, and the Milbank Memorial Fund, underscores that simply raising wages or requiring more training hours is not sufficient. The guide outlines — with action steps and examples — how officials can build a statewide, coordinated plan that is tailored to state needs and responsive to drivers of the DCW shortage. The authors also illustrate how some states are addressing long-standing racial and economic disparities that have affected both the direct care workforce as a profession and DCWs themselves.

Grads With Down Syndrome Change the Narrative at GMU

By Cory Smith: For Complete Post, Click Here…

Charlotte Woodward and Madison Essig are just the fifth and sixth students born with Down syndrome to earn a bachelor’s degree in the United States.

Their achievements were recognized during the commencement ceremony, and they’re both honored to hold that distinction.

But it’s also bittersweet because they both believe that number should be much higher.

“Our society seems to have low expectations of what we can and can’t do,” Woodward said.

“I want other people with Down syndrome and other disabilities to have high expectations for themselves and do what they love, do what they want to do with their education,” Essig said.

The pair changed GMU. Thanks to Essig, students with intellectual and developmental disabilities in George Mason’s LIFE program can enjoy a full college experience and do things like participate in Greek life and student government. She was the first student with a developmental disability to join a sorority and she was also an elected student senator.

DeafBlind Communities May Be Creating a New Language of Touch

By Andrew Leland: For Complete Post, Click Here…

Protactile began as a movement for autonomy and a system of tactile communication. Now, some linguists argue, it is becoming a language of its own.

hen John Lee Clark was five years old, in 1983, he entered a small Deaf program within a public school near his home in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. Clark was a dreamy kid who dressed in tucked-in button-downs and pressed slacks. He came from a large Deaf family—his father and brother are DeafBlind, his mother and sister are Deaf and sighted—and the family had communicated in American Sign Language (or A.S.L.) for generations. On Clark’s first day of kindergarten, his mother, worried, followed his school bus in her car. When she surprised him at school to ask if he was O.K., Clark said that he was fine but that the bus driver had forgotten how to speak. His mother laughed and reminded him that the driver didn’t know how to speak: she was hearing! “This is a common story among Deaf families,” Clark told me recently. “The gradual dawning that all those mutes could actually talk with one another, but in a very different way.”

In third grade, Clark began a bilingual Deaf program. Instruction was in A.S.L., but students were grouped on the basis of their ability to read English, a second language that Clark accessed only in print. “My literacy was abysmal,” he said. He still has a workbook from that time, in which he answered questions—“What is your favorite sport?” “Who are the members of your family?”—with drawings instead of in English. But he was gifted in A.S.L., and teachers would ask him for help with tricky words. He sometimes pranked them by inventing ostentatiously elaborate versions. The word “heaven” is difficult for A.S.L. learners, involving a precise looping of the hands; Clark added several gratuitous loops.

At twelve, Clark began attending a residential Deaf school, many of whose students came from Deaf families. But, around this time, he began to go blind. Hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S. have some combined hearing and vision loss, but most are older adults and have spent the bulk of their lives hearing and sighted. A much smaller group—about ten thousand, according to some estimates—become DeafBlind earlier in life; a leading genetic cause is Usher syndrome. Clark, his father, and his brother have Usher, which can cause a person to be born deaf and to gradually go blind. At fourteen, Clark started to lose track of A.S.L. conversations. “I was this boy who always said, ‘Say again?,’ who might collide into you,” Clark told me. “So pathetic.” He began reading in Braille, which his father had encouraged him to learn as a child, and started walking with a white cane.

In high school, Clark stopped trying to follow A.S.L. visually and began using tactile reception, feeling words with his hands. This helped, but miscommunication was common. A.S.L. is a fundamentally visual language. The dominant-hand gestures for the words “stamp” and “fun,” for instance, look very similar, except that “stamp” begins near the mouth, whereas “fun” starts at the nose. Yes-or-no questions are signified with raised eyebrows, and sentences can be negated with a shake of the head. When Clark would reply in A.S.L., he’d have no idea how the person was responding, or whether she was still paying attention at all; he said that it was like “talking to a wall.” He attended Gallaudet, a Deaf university in Washington, D.C., with his future partner, Adrean, a sighted-Deaf artist. “It was really when I got married that I noticed more serious problems,” he told me. He would come home from the store without the items that Adrean had requested, and misunderstood the timing of their appointments: “It’d blow up on me, how that information in ASL had failed to register.”

8TH CIRCUIT COURT DECISION ALLOWS IOWA SCHOOLS TO PROTECT STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES WITH MASKING UNDER FEDERAL LAW

From ACLU Iowa: For Complete Post, Click Here…

Today the 8th Circuit Court made a decision in our lawsuit to protect Iowa students with disabilities that make them vulnerable to COVID.

It’s important to note that the Court did not vacate as moot our lawsuit as a whole. The lawsuit was filed to protect Iowa students with disabilities who need to be protected by masking from COVID from the way the state was enforcing a new Iowa law. That new state law prohibited schools from requiring masking. 

The Court’s decision today vacates as moot the district court’s preliminary injunction only; the Court’s decision allows for the possibility of further litigation in this case.

It’s also very important to note that the court specifically did NOT rule that schools cannot require masking to protect students with disabilities. Today’s decision interprets the new state law to mean that schools can still require masking for students with disabilities that make them particularly susceptible to COVID, under federal disability rights laws. 

 Bottom line: Iowa schools can still require and Iowa parents can still request masking as a reasonable accommodation for students with disabilities under appropriate circumstances. 

Take Action Now to Help Fix the Family Glitch!

From ARC national: For Complete Post, Click Here…

The Biden Administration has proposed new rules that would fix the “family glitch,” which has left millions of families—including the families of many people with disabilities—ineligible for financial help through the health care marketplace.
See how you can help!

What Is the Family Glitch?

Right now, people who do not have access to affordable health insurance through their jobs can get financial help to buy coverage in the Affordable Care Act marketplace.
But current rules only consider the cost of the insurance for the employee and don’t take into account the cost of insurance for spouses, partners, dependents, or other family members.

This means that families who need insurance but can’t afford the cost for the entire family on the employee’s plan aren’t guaranteed an affordable option.

Because of the “family glitch,” five million people, including adults and children with disabilities, don’t have access to affordable health coverage.