NCIL News & Happenings: May 24, 2023

  • Happy 50th Anniversary to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
  • Welcome to NCIL’s Newest Board Member
  • Lobbying or Advocacy? Understanding how 501(c)3 organizations can do both as you prepare for the Rally, March, and Hill Visits in DC
  • NCIL’s Governing Board
  • No Research About Us Without Us
  • Funding Opportunity for CILs
  • Upcoming Events

Happy 50th Anniversary to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

It’s remarkable to realize that the Rehab Act was enacted 50 years ago, on September 26, 1973 to be exact. We have now had a half century of rights that were not available to people with disabilities prior to that time. Although many people think of the Americans with Disabilities Act as the civil rights legislation for disabled citizens, the Rehab Act of 1973 was the first legislation to address the idea of equal access for individuals with disabilities through the removal of architectural, employment, and transportation barriers. It paved the way for the ADA to be passed in 1990 and in many ways set the bar. It also began to address societal barriers such as the isolation caused by placement in institutions. Most disability advocates are familiar with Section 504, which was modeled after Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and states, “No qualified individual with a disability in the United States shall be excluded from, denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity that either receives federal financial assistance or is conducted by any executive agency or the United States Postal Service.” It has been reported by various disability rights movement historians that Section 504 slipped into the law under the radar. It might never have made it into the Act if it had been debated in Congress because of the legally enforceable civil rights that it created.

And, of course, the 1978 amendments to the Act authorized the creation and funding of Centers for Independent Living (CILs). That means 2023 is the 45th anniversary of the birth of federally funded CILs. As the year progresses, we will spotlight different sections of the Act and subsequent amendments. The Act has a rich history of expanding the principles of empowerment, self-determination, self-help, and equal access. HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, REHAB ACT!

Welcome to NCIL’s Newest Board Member

Latricia (Trish) Seye: Trish is a dark, African-American woman with wavy hair, wearing a blue dress, green blazer and gold necklace.

Image: Latricia (Trish) Seye: Trish is a dark, African-American woman with wavy hair, wearing a blue dress, green blazer and gold necklace.

We are pleased to announce the addition of Latricia (Trish) Seye to the NCIL Governing Board. She is serving out the unexpired term of a vacant member-at-large position. Trish has been Director of Independent Living at Chicago’s Access Living (AL) since January 2021. Before joining AL, she held various positions at the Chicago Housing Authority in the Office of General Counsel and the Fair Housing Department. Trish says, “I consider it an honor to be a part of the NCIL board to help in amplifying the message of equal rights and opportunity for people with disabilities.” She added that it gives her an opportunity to use her experience in housing and ADA 504 compliance to expand the conversation on eradicating barriers in promoting a nationally inclusive independent living culture. You can read more at Latricia’s LinkedIn page.

Lobbying or Advocacy? Understanding how 501(c)3 organizations can do both as you prepare for the Rally, March, and Hill Visits in DC

Advocacy in its fullest definition includes many types of activities, including lobbying. CILs have a long history of working to influence policy and legislation to advance the rights of the disability community. However, there has sometimes been confusion about what CILs are required to do versus what they are allowed to do with federal dollars. Advocacy and lobbying are two important tools CILs use to create change. This Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document ADVOCACY AND LOBBYING IN CENTERS FOR INDEPENDENT LIVING recently published by NCIL is intended to provide guidance for CILs on the difference between lobbying and other forms of advocacy, and how CILs can lobby while complying with relevant federal laws. The information in the FAQ has been thoroughly researched and reviewed by legal counsel, but if your organization has any concerns about any of the information, you are advised to seek your own legal counsel.

NCIL’s Governing Board

As we are approaching elections for the 2023-2025 NCIL Governing Board, we want to thank the current Board for its service. We have been privileged to have this talented and knowledgeable line-up of Board members:

  • President: Kent Crenshaw – Executive Director, Independent Rights & Resources; Montgomery, AL
  • Vice President: Jeff Hughes – Executive Director, Progressive Independence; Norman, OK
  • Secretary: Jason Beloungy – Executive Director, Access to Independence; Madison, WI
  • Treasurer: Jeremy Morris – Executive Director, Ohio SILC
  • DEIA Chair: Larissa Martin – Advocate & Writer; Wallkill, NY
  • Region 1 Representative & Regional Reps Chair: Steve Higgins – Executive Director, Independence Associates; Bridgewater, MA
  • Region 2 Representative: Aaron Baier – Director of Administration, ILC of the Hudson Valley; Troy, NY
  • Region 3 Representative: Karen Michalski-Karney – Executive Director, Blue Ridge ILC; Roanoke, VA
  • Region 4 Representative: Marty Musser – Advocacy Director, Disability Rights & Resources; Charlotte, NC
  • Region 5 Representative: John Herring – Executive Director, Illinois Network of CILs
  • Region 6 Representative: Samantha Moreno – Independent Living Counselor Progressive Independence; Norman, OK
  • Region 7 Representative: Vacant
  • Region 8 Representative: Joel Peden – Executive Director, Montana Association of CILs
  • Region 9 Representative: Lisa Hays – Executive Director, Rolling Start; San Bernadino, CA
  • Region 10 Representative: Kimberly Meck – Executive Director, Alliance of People with Disabilities; Seattle, WA
  • Member At Large: Kendra Burgess – Public Policy Coordinator, The Whole Person; Kansas City, MO
  • Member At Large: Thomas Earle – Executive Director, Liberty Resources; Philadelphia, PA
  • Member At Large: Suzanna Gamez – Executive Director, Resources for Independence Central Valley; Fresno, CA
  • Member At Large: Amy Tweedle – Health & Wellness Advocate, Spa Area Independent Living Services; Hot Springs, AR
  • Member At Large: Trish Seye – Director of Independent Living, Access Living; Chicago, IL
  • Youth At Large: Vacant
  • NCIL Executive Director: Theo Braddy

No Research About Us Without Us

All of Us Research Program Graphic that shows a diverse collage of photos of people with disabilities. Reads “No Research About Us Without Us.”

Image: All of Us Research Program Graphic that shows a diverse collage of photos of people with disabilities. Reads “No Research About Us Without Us.”

NCIL is a proud partner with the All of Us Research Program. We are excited to share our support for “No Research About Us Without Us.” This statement highlights why accessible health research is important for people with disabilities. It also shares how All of Us is an accessible health research opportunity. Last year, a group of disability advocates wrote this statement as a message to the disability community.

The All of Us Research Program is inviting one million people from across the U.S. to help build one of the most diverse health databases in history. They welcome participants from all backgrounds and communities. All of Us encourages people to participate who are often left out of heath research, including people with disabilities. Researchers will use this data to learn how our biology, lifestyle, and environment affect health. This may one day help them find ways to provide more personalized treatments and care for all of us.

Funding Opportunity for CILs

The U.S. Department of Education’s Rehabilitation Services Administration has made available $224 million in grants for innovative demonstration projects “focused on the creation of systemic approaches to improve access to pre-employment transition services for children and youth with disabilities.” The projects should offer a seamless array of transition services focused on career exploration with a goal of competitive integrated employment and feature opportunities like internships and apprenticeships. They should be a collaboration between state vocational rehabilitation agencies, state education agencies, local school districts, and centers for independent living, but can also include other partners like regional employers, chambers of commerce and institutions of higher education.

“As children and youth with disabilities move through the school system, many do not have exposure to self-advocacy training, careers and independent living opportunities,” reads an Education Department notice to stakeholders. “This historical funding opportunity advances a key goal of the Biden-Harris administration to pave a clear and robust path to independent living and competitive integrated employment as children and youth with disabilities transition from high school to postsecondary endeavors.” The funding, which is available through the Disability Innovation Fund Pathways to Partnerships Innovative Model Demonstration Project is intended to support multiple projects. State vocational rehabilitation agencies and state education agencies have until June 5 to apply for the grants.

Upcoming Events

+ Executive Director – Theo Braddy

+ Communications Coordinator – Eleanor Canter

+ Newsletter Editor – Darrell Lynn Jones

© 2023 NCIL News & Happenings is a monthly newsletter published by the National Council on Independent Living, PO Box 31260, Washington, DC 20030. FAX: 202.207.0341. Phone: 202.207.0334 – Toll Free: 1.844.778.7961. Email: [email protected]