April24,2015

The Fair Housing Act Protects People with Disabilities Against Discrimination

GDAS Bryan Greene

By Guest Blogger Bryan Greene, General Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

I’m Bryan Greene, General Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). It’s a pleasure to blog again for Disability.gov in honor of Fair Housing Month. This April marks the 47th anniversary of the passage of the federal Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination in housing because of, among other things, a person’s disability.

In this post, I would like to highlight the issue of housing discrimination against deaf individuals, particularly the discriminatory treatment that prospective tenants who are deaf may experience when they contact housing providers. Deaf individuals who rely on assistive services, such as the Internet Protocol (IP) Relay system to conduct telephone calls, may experience less favorable treatment than non-deaf individuals. Some housing providers may refuse to discuss available units with deaf individuals, or may quote them higher prices or other inferior terms. If proven, such treatment of deaf individuals may violate the Fair Housing Act.

Recently, some of HUD’s fair housing partners have pursued cases involving allegations of discrimination against deaf prospective tenants. These groups alleged that testing they conducted revealed discrimination.

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April22,2015

The Arc Launches TalentScout – Guide for Employers on How to Successfully Employ People with Autism

Jonathan Lucus, Managing Director, The Arc@Work at The Arc of the United States

By Guest Blogger Jonathan Lucus, Managing Director, The Arc@Work at The Arc of the United States

One in 68 children today is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The unemployment rate of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, including ASDs, is 85 percent. This appalling statistic, coupled with the increase in prevalence of kids being diagnosed, demands action from all sectors of our economy to ensure that people with ASDs are finding appropriate employment at a fair wage, and retaining that job with the proper supports to be successful and have a career of their choosing, just like people without disabilities.

With nearly 65 years of experience working with and serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), including autism, The Arc is launching an exciting new resource called TalentScout for employers to unlock the talents of people with autism in the workplace. TalentScout is s a first-of-its-kind resource toolkit that gives employers essential insight and tools to harness the fullest potential of their employees with autism and lead to higher levels of productivity in the workplace.

People with autism have a lot to contribute in all aspects of our society. In the workplace, their individual, unique talents need to be maximized to benefit both the goals of their employer and their personal desire to have and keep a job that adds meaning to their life. Far too many people with autism are left on the sidelines of our workforce and entities that have recognized the benefits of hiring someone with autism are reaping the rewards. Whether it’s the loyalty that someone with a disability may bring to their employer, or their unique skill set that gets the job done, people with autism are ready for hire.

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April15,2015

A Roadmap to “Life After High School”

A graduation photo of Corie McNamara in her cap and gown.

By Guest Blogger Tracey Fecher, Vice President of Programs for Community Gatepath

Throughout the next decade, more than half a million young people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in America will be “aging-out” of the education system when they turn 21 or 22. Those statistics are alarming. Families will face overwhelming changes when the systems that have been in place to support both child and family disappear once school services end. The premiere of NBC Dateline’s investigative report, “On the Brink,” earlier this week created a great buzz in the autism community across the nation, effectively shining a spotlight on this crisis. Camera crews documented the emotional journey of two families, during the course of a few years, who navigated this important transition in their child’s life.

ASD is the fastest growing developmental disability nationally. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of people diagnosed with ASD is increasing rapidly and expected in some states to double during the next decade. Federal and state governments must respond to the growing demand for adequate support systems and services for adults so individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities can thrive and aren’t left floundering when they no longer have the education system that has supported them since they were preschoolers.

Young people with autism and their families need tools to help them prepare for the transition into adulthood. The mother of one of the young men highlighted in “On the Brink” described this life-phase as equivalent to sadly being “pushed off a cliff.”

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April08,2015

Start the Conversation: Why We Need Affordable Personal Care Options

A photo of Eli Gelardin

By Guest Blogger Eli Gelardin, Executive Director, Marin Center for Independent Living

My earliest memories of disability did not come from my own experience with dwarfism and hearing loss, but through my grandfather, Irv, who experienced a massive stroke shortly after I was born. The stroke resulted in full paralysis on the left side of his body and my grandfather required full-time personal care thereafter. Like many Americans, he became disabled later in life.

My grandfather’s story is not unique; in fact, one of the significant challenges our country is facing today is that we are aging and consequently aging into disability. According to the U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey, 70 percent of adults older than the age of 65 will need homecare supports in their lifetime. Since approximately 14 percent of our country’s population is older than 65, this means roughly 4.4 million Americans will need homecare in order to continue living independently in their communities.

My colleague, Alice Wong, wrote an excellent article published on Disability.gov’s blog, entitled “Consumer Directed Personal Care as a Human Right.” In her post, she describes the cost-effectiveness of personal care versus nursing home care and/or other medical institutions. As she notes, California spends three times more on nursing facility care ($32,406 per user) than home and community based services ($9,129 per user). She also discusses the value of consumer directed personal care programs like In-Home Support Services (IHSS) in California and describes the tremendous impact they have on keeping individuals with disabilities living and working in the community.

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April06,2015

Inspired to Connect

Seven individuals representing those with invisible disabilities.

By Guest Blogger Wayne Connell, Founder and President, Invisible Disabilities Association (IDA)

Yes, I’m one of the 72 percent of online adults who visit Facebook at least once a month. Actually, I check my Facebook multiple times a day. There were more than 1.4 billion active Facebook users worldwide as of January 28 and more than 890 million use it daily. And of course I use Twitter too, along with the 288 million other users sending 500 million tweets a day, according to Twitter’s statistics page.

I founded the Invisible Disabilities® Association in 1996 and we launched our first website in 1997. The Internet, or World Wide Web, was just getting started. Yet we had twenty- to twenty-five thousand people a month visit our site. Why so many? I believe that people living with illness and pain were trapped in their homes and the Internet became a window to the world for them.

In 1999, we launched our first online community on Yahoo groups and the Invisible Disabilities® Community (IDC) was born. IDC became a place to share the triumphs and tragedies of life with people who were on similar journeys. In 2007, we moved the community to the Ning platform, which was like a private MySpace. The community grew to more than 4,500 during the next seven years.

“I joined [the IDA Social Network] soon after I had to quit work and it saved my life. To this day (over 5 years later) I still maintain friendships that span the country (no, the world). It is a website that values your feelings and your privacy.” – Jane

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