Sunday, February 1, 2009

President Obama's Disability Policy

Have you all wondered what, specificly, President Obama has to say about policies regarding people with varying disabilities? Read this article from THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE, published January 20. It follows:
> Obama must address needs of blind, disabled
> January 20, 2009
> While President Obama will have to grapple with one of the worst
> economic slumps in the past 50 years, two raging wars in the Mideast,
> and a host of other pressing problems, we strongly urge him not to
> forget the critical needs of a large but often overlooked community,
> people who are blind or have other severe disabilities.
> Already this group is coping with an unacceptably high unemployment rate
> of 70 percent. In addition, the aging of the nation's massive baby boom
> generation in the years ahead will mean a virtual explosion in the
> numbers of Americans facing vision loss. This will place even greater
> demands on our national health care delivery system.
> To help ease this situation and better anticipate the needs of the
> future, the Chicago Lighthouse for People Who Are Blind or Visually
> Impaired proposes the following Blindness/Disability Agenda for
> President Obama and the new Congress:
> Strengthen federal initiatives such as the Ability One and
> Randolph-Sheppard programs, which help people with disabilities become
> employed, providing products for the federal government and operating
> vending facilities on federal property, respectively. Capitol Hill,
> incidentally, can become a model Randolph-Sheppard location through the
> setting up of vending facilities in House and Senate office buildings
> and other facilities in the nation's capital.
> Increase funding and accountability for rehabilitation programs, which
> help people with disabilities become employed.
> The new president needs to be committed to funding enforcement of such
> far-reaching laws as the Americans for Disabilities Act and Section 504
> of the Rehabilitation Act by the Equal Employment Opportunity
> Commission, the Department of Justice and others.
> A huge barrier to employment for people with disabilities is
> transportation. Therefore, we recommend the enhancement of such programs
> as the Job Access and Reverse Commute (JARC) and New Freedom Initiative
> to encourage communities to create and expand transportation services
> for people with disabilities.
> If we're going to "talk the talk" about employing people with
> disabilities, then agencies should "walk the walk." Agencies receiving
> federal funds must make a concerted effort to hire and retain employees
> with disabilities.
> Go beyond the traditional, 9-5 type jobs when helping people with
> disabilities find employment. Look at programs which can help people
> start their own businesses and work at home.
> The federal courts have ordered the United States Department of the
> Treasury to make our nation's paper currency independently identifiable
> by people who are blind. President Obama's treasury secretary must be
> committed to carrying out this court order as expeditiously as possible.
> In 1973, Congress passed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
> (IDEA). This act has been amended several times since then. When IDEA
> was passed, it stated that the federal government would provide 40
> percent of the funding needed to provide a free, appropriate public
> education to students with disabilities. President Obama must make it a
> priority to raise the level of federal funding for IDEA up to 40 percent
> from the current around 18 percent within four years. Among other
> things, this funding would help increase Braille literacy among children
> who are blind or visually impaired.
> Technology is advancing faster than any of us can fathom. Yet people
> with disabilities, particularly those who are blind or visually
> impaired, are being left behind because much of the technology is not
> accessible. President Obama must work for federal policies that will
> ensure that people with disabilities are able to take advantage of all
> that new technology has to offer, at the same time as everyone else.
> Along these lines, the new chief executive can commit to working with
> Congress to reintroduce H.R. 6320, "The 21st Century Telecommunications
> and Video Accessibility Act." Pedestrians who are blind or visually
> impaired are being put at great risk due to the popularity of hybrid
> (quiet) cars which when operating at speeds under 25 MPH, make virtually
> no noise. Because of this, pedestrians who are blind or visually
> impaired cannot hear these cars when they are stopped or when they are
> operating at slow speeds. President Obama needs to be committed to
> finding a solution so these cars can be heard by pedestrians who are
> blind or visually impaired. He can show this commitment by asking his
> secretary of transportation to research this issue and come up with
> solutions.
> Championing these measures will greatly enhance the quality of life for
> millions of disabled Americans. We hope that our new president will
> strongly support them!
> --Janet P. Szlyk, Ph.D.
> Executive Director
> The Chicago Lighthouse for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired
> Copyright (c) 2009, Chicago Tribune <
> Dominic Calabrese
> Public Relations Director
> The Chicago Lighthouse
> 312-997-3662

Do you want some tax breaks with the State? Here's some upcoming possibilities?

"MO Disability Policy/Law Listserv"
HB 323 - Home Access Tax Credit
by Rep. Sutherland
HB 323 has been introduced in the House. This bill is similar to SB146 that
Senator Dempsey
is sponsoring with some differences. Senator Dempsey’s SB146 preserves the
credit as "refundable" (meaning that even a very low-income person who doesn’t pay
state taxes can still get the credit if
the person has out-of-pocket home access expenses).
HB323 would remove the "refundable" status of the credit. Instead persons could claim
the credit only up to the amount of state taxes they owed that year. If their expenses
amounted to more than the taxes owed, they could carry the credit forward up to five
tax years. But again, persons who don’t earn enough to pay state taxes would no longer
be able to benefit.
does remove the $100,000 statewide cap on the credit, so this provision would allow
many more Missourians to claim the credit
as does SB146
It would also add modifying kitchens and adding another room to accommodate a family
member with a disability as eligible home access costs
for which the credit could be claimed.