Last week, Secretary Burwell of Health & Human Services (HHS) announced that the 2015 White House Conference on Aging will be held on July 13th, 2015. The conference will bring together government officials, members of the public, caregivers, older Americans, business leaders, and community leaders to discuss a vision for aging in the next decade. A number of disability-related issues are expected to be addressed during this conference, including aging caregivers, the growing need for family support, and reforms to the long term services and supports system.
If you are interested, please see the 2015 White House Conference on Aging video announcement, visit http://www.whitehouseconferenceonaging.gov.
The National Council on Disability (NCD) and the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) are hosting an online dialogue: Encouraging People with Disabilities to Pursue Careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). This dialogue comes in response to a report from the Department of Commerce’s Economics and Statistics Administration which revealed a growth in STEM jobs three times the rate and at a 26% higher wage rate as compared to non-STEM jobs. People with disabilities are underrepresented in the STEM fields. NCD and ODEP would like to ensure that job opportunities in the STEM fields are open to everyone, including those with disabilities. The organizations are gathering input on recommendation to ensure such access. To participate, visit http://stemcareersforpwd.epolicyworks.org.
The Arc urges all advocates to participate in the June 12 national call-in day to support the Keeping All Students Safe Act legislation to prevent restraint and seclusion (S. 2036 and HR 1893), introduced by Senator Harkin (D-IA) and Representative Miller (D-CA), respectively. This legislation will prohibit the use of physical restraint unless a student’s behavior poses an imminent danger of physical harm to self or others, while ensuring that personnel receive proper training, that parents are aware of any restraint used with their children, and that the most dangerous types of restraint and seclusion are eliminated. Restraint and Seclusion have resulted in numerous serious injuries and fatalities and are disproportionately used on students with disabilities.
The day is being planned in collaboration with the national Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), the Alliance to Prevent Restraint, Aversive Interventions and Seclusion (APRAIS), and other coalitions. Congress must hear from parents, people with disabilities, students, advocates, professionals, friends, families, and neighbors regarding this important legislation! Stay tuned for the action alert.
A majority of members of an advisory panel to the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) indicated that the risks of using aversive electric shock to modify behaviors outweighed the benefits of such procedures. The Neurological Devices Panel of the Medical Devices Advisory Committee to the FDA conducted a public hearing at which The Arc and 12 other disability advocacy organizations testified against use of aversive procedures, such as electric shock, on individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The majority of the panel concluded that electrical stimulation devices (ESDs) intended to administer a noxious electrical stimulus for the treatment of self-injurious behavior (SIB) and aggressive behavior presented a substantial and unreasonable risk of illness or injury.
The only facility that uses electric shock devices currently is the Judge Rotenberg Center (JRC) in Canton, Massachusetts. The Center manufactures and uses the Graduated Electronic Decelerator, or GED. Versions of the device being used at JRC are unapproved modifications of a 1994 FDA-approved GED. Staff from JRC as well as parents of individuals at the Center offered testimony during the hearing defending use of the GED. JRC has been investigated by authorities in New York and Massachusetts and by the United Nations. The Department of Justice has an on-going investigation of the Center.
On Thursday August 2nd the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will host a call for state, local and national HUD stakeholders regarding HUD’s FY 2013 budget. HUD officials on the call will include Peter Kovar, Assistant Secretary for Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs, Jonathan Harwitz, Deputy Chief of Staff for Budget and Francey L. Youngberg, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Engagement. This will be an opportunity for you to hear about legislative developments and share your feedback. Please RSVP by August 1, noon at the HUD website.
CBO Director Doug Elmendorf is scheduled to testify on Wednesday, Oct. 26, at the hearing which will focus on discretionary spending. This hearing will be webcast live starting at 10:00 am on the Committee’s website at: http://www.deficitreduction.gov/public/
Committee Co-Chairs, Representative Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), announced that the next hearing open to the public will occur on Thursday, September 22, 2011 at 10 a.m. EST. The hearing will include an overview on Revenue Options and Reforming the Tax Code. The Arc strongly supports a balanced approach to reducing the deficit, since greater revenues would result in fewer spending cuts for disability-related programs. The hearing will be available to watch on C-SPAN at http://www.c-span.org/ and on the Committee’s new website at http://deficitreduction.senate.gov/public/.
The Arc is one of 40+ disability, aging and civil rights organizations cosponsoring a “Rally for Real Medicaid Reform” on Wednesday, September 21 at noon on Capitol Hill. The rally is being led by ADAPT. To participate, gather between the Reflecting Pool and the U.S. Capitol, on the west side of the Capitol. The closest major intersection is Pennsylvania Avenue, NW and First Street, NW. The closest Metro station is Union Station on the Red Line.
The US Access Board will hold a free webinar on August 9 from 12 – 1:30 p.m. (EST) to discuss its proposed guidelines for accessible public rights of way. The guidelines address how to make sidewalks, street crossings, signals, on-street parking, and other facilities accessible to pedestrians with disabilities. Learn more about the guidelines and register for the webinar.
The next White House Disability call is Wednesday July 27th at 1:00 pm. The call will feature information on technology, Section 508 of the Rehab Act, independent agencies, emergency preparedness, employment, budgetary issues, and other topics. To join the call, dial in to (866) 298-7926 and say White House Disability Call (instead of a code).