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.

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.

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.”

USPSTF Guidance Misses the Mark on Youth Suicide Risk Screening

by Christine Yu Moutier, MD: For Complete Post, Click Here…

We can all play a role in identifying at-risk kids.

With increasing rates of suicide and mental health issues among U.S. youth, and with suicide as the second leading cause of death among people ages 10 to 34, the state of youth mental health has reached crisis proportions. For this reason, I’m gravely concerned about the impact of the recent draft recommendations of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) that found insufficient evidence for implementing screening for suicide risk among youth.

The USPSTF’s methodology may be mismatched with the real-world implementation science and the scope of the problem concerning youth suicide. Clinicians and mental health professionals must have a clear understanding of the USPSTF’s guidelines for reviewing evidence and arriving at a recommendation, as their approach is out of touch with recent expert recommendations on screening for youth suicide risk. The USPSTF findings may cast doubt among healthcare providers on the importance of suicide screening and preventive care.

In collaboration with our partner organization on the Blueprint for Youth Suicide Prevention, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and experts from the National Institute of Mental Health, we have identified three key weaknesses of the USPSTF draft report.

Suicide Screening Can Be Done Safely

The USPSTF calls for screening asymptomatic adolescents ages 12 to 18 years for major depressive disorder, and youth between the ages of 8 and 18 for anxiety, saying there would be a moderate benefit to each. We support this recommendation and believe the benefits would be more than moderate. On suicide risk, the USPSTF concluded there is insufficient evidence to weigh the benefits and harms of screening asymptomatic children and adolescents. However, in regards to the suicide risk, the report excluded or overlooked a number of key research studies that find universal suicide screening in pediatric medical settings validated with high sensitivity (97%) and specificity (91%), and demonstrate feasibility, accessibility by youth, parents, and clinicians, and importantly, demonstrate no evidence of harm.

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.

Study: Deaths from Alcohol Use Disorder Surged During Pandemic

By Sarah Lichtman: For Complete Post, Click Here…

Cedars-Sinai Investigators Found Alcohol Use Disorder Mortality Rates Were 25% Higher Than Projected in 2020, 22% Higher in 2021.

Deaths involving alcohol use disorder increased dramatically during the pandemic, according to a new study by Cedars-Sinai investigators. The study also found that young adults 25 to 44 years old experienced the steepest upward trend in alcohol use disorder mortality.

In the study, published this month in the peer-reviewed journal JAMA Network Open, investigators used predictive modeling to compare expected—also called projected—alcohol use disorder mortality rates to actual rates. They found that alcohol use disorder-related mortality rates increased among all ages and sexes during the pandemic.

UTSW genetic study confirms sarin nerve gas as cause of Gulf War illness

From UTSouthwestern Medical Center: For Complete Post, Click Here…

ngd- Sarin is an organophosphate, and a lot of insecticides are organophosphates. If the genes that degrade sarin also degrade organophosphates in general, then I don’t see how the conclusion that sarin is responsible clearly is the case. I had a fair level of experience with malathion when I was in Vietnam and developed symptoms just like gulf-war syndrome, though they faded over time when I left country. I retain a sensitivity to it that triggers when I smell it after mosquito spraying…

For three decades, scientists have debated the underlying cause of Gulf War illness (GWI), a collection of unexplained and chronic symptoms affecting veterans of the Persian Gulf War. Now researchers led by Robert Haley, M.D., Professor of Internal Medicine and Director of the Division of Epidemiology at UT Southwestern, have solved the mystery, showing through a detailed genetic study that the nerve gas sarin was largely responsible for the syndrome. The findings were published in Environmental Health Perspectives, a peer-reviewed journal supported by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, with an accompanying editorial on the paper by leading environmental epidemiologists.

Dr. Haley’s research group not only discovered that veterans with exposure to sarin were more likely to develop GWI, but also found that the risk was modulated by a gene that normally allows some people’s bodies to better break down the nerve gas. Gulf War veterans with a weak variant of the gene who were exposed to sarin were more likely to develop symptoms of GWI than other exposed veterans who had the strong form of the gene.

“Quite simply, our findings prove that Gulf War illness was caused by sarin, which was released when we bombed Iraqi chemical weapons storage and production facilities,” said Dr. Haley, a medical epidemiologist who has been investigating GWI for 28 years. “There are still more than 100,000 Gulf War veterans who are not getting help for this illness and our hope is that these findings will accelerate the search for better treatment.”

Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

by Torrey Kim: For Complete Post, Click Here…

  • Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS) is a severe type of epilepsy that causes seizures that typically begin between the ages of 2 and 5.
  • Among children with epilepsy, 3 percent to 4 percent have LGS.
  • LGS tends to be resistant to most antiseizure medications.
  • Treatments for LGS include medications such as Depakene (valproic acid), Epidiolex (cannabidiol), and Onfi (clobazam), as well surgeries and dietary changes.

Did You Get the Help You Needed After a Hurricane or Tropical Storm? We’re Investigating Disaster Relief.

by Richard A. Webster: For Complete Post, Click Here…

Catastrophes don’t affect all Americans equally. We want to hear about your experiences applying for aid and paying for flood insurance.

ProPublica and The Advocate | The Times-Picayune could use your help investigating how America prepares for hurricanes and tropical storms and helps victims afterwards. The news organizations are exploring how a range of policies unintentionally punish working-class Americans and people of color, contributing to the disproportionate harm they suffer in catastrophes.

The problem is particularly urgent in Louisiana. Not only is it one of the poorest states in the union, it’s the most flood-prone, and it has been struck by some of the costliest natural disasters ever to hit the U.S. Sweeping changes made to the National Flood Insurance Program, which went into effect in April and resulted in premium increases for many Louisiana policyholders, will only exacerbate the situation.

If you have been impacted by a disaster and received or applied for government assistance, and you’re willing to help, please sign up here by answering a few questions below.