Is The U.S. The World Leader In Disability Rights?

Posted by – August 7, 2009

So, the U.S. has now signed on to the historic UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD). People are saying this is wonderful, the ACLU is saying that it marks America’s return as a world human rights leader (by the way, the Senate has yet to ratify the treaty). I’m concerned that this is largely happy talk, just more lip service while meanwhile we’re badly behind in enforcing the Rehab Act, the ADA, Olmstead, and the other disability rights legislation we’ve fought so hard for. Will the CRPA become yet another unenforced law on top of that growing pile? Particularly grating to me was this commentary on AAPD’s Justice For All blog, which closes with this:

The US can engage in meaningful partnerships across sectors and help developing nations with the construction of accessible infrastructure, expanding inclusive education and vocational training opportunities. By signing the Convention the US is dedicated to these efforts. Can we make a different, “Yes We Can!”

Wut?? The U.S. is going to be like the Peace Corps for accessibility of the third-world’s infrastructure or some $#!T?! PLEASE!! We can’t even implement our own disability rights laws! As we speak, the feds are moving against ENTIRE TOWNS that are inaccessible and violating the ADA! Don’t send the Accessibility Corps to Africa or India; first send them to renovate the Mobile Public Schools! First send them to Ann St. in Lower Manhattan, where most of the businesses are inaccessible, and all over the five boroughs, where inaccessible pre-war buildings seem to be the rule, not the exception. Where’s the US’ “meaningful partnerships across sectors” to address this inaccessible McDonald’s on 429 7th Ave. off W 34th, which is a major tourist area?

Picture of some serious McFail in accessibility.  Alejandra provides us an important public service by documenting the many accessibility fails of NYC

Picture of some serious McFail in accessibility. Alejandra provides us an important public service by documenting the many accessibility fails of NYC

We weren’t looking for some McDs yesterday, we were searching for pizza. The Spinelli’s pizza next door was accessible. When a locally-owned pizzeria tops a mega-giant multi-national chain in basic accessibility, that gigantic corporation needs to do some rethinking. As a special double bird to the elderly and disabled, this particular McDonald’s location has accessible entrances on either side of the stairs…that only open from the INSIDE, and only lead to stairs for the basement, staff confirmed. That leaves the middle stairs as the only access point for this location. Well done 7th Ave. McDonald’s, that’s some top-notch FAIL!

The U.S. has a lot of changes to make before we are a disability rights leader, an example to follow.

Any idea of when I’ll be able to access currently INACCESSIBLE public businesses? Maybe for the ADA’s 29th anniversary? 39th? Dammit, where’s the enforcement? We have no room to finger-wag and advise other countries about disability rights!


  • mikeinalbany

    The McDonald's in that picture looks like it was built or renovated sometime within the last two decades. I don't know when New York City's Local Law 58 took effect. I think it may even predate the ADA. The New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code, to which New York City does not subscribe, added access requirements in 1984. If Local Law 58 was in effect at the time of this renovation, then they are in violation. And shame on whichever building department official approved the plans for this!

  • They're also violating THE ADA! That law trumps everything else, no?

  • itsmeagain2

    I know this is not the place for this, but I thought you ALL would like to see this, read down to where the “LEADERSHIP” od ADAPT DECIDED to make everyone responsable for ALL of the fines in DC!!!!

    As for McDonalds, WHO THE FUCK CARES, they are throwing money away, arent there BIGGER issues at hand?!?!?!?!?! WTF!!!!!!

    Strategy Meeting in Denver- June 2009

    Analysis of the last Action

    What went well: Check in went very smoothly. There seemed to be good planning and good orchestration of the actions. The media was good as there seemed to be a ripple effect across the country. The crawling up the steps was powerful and dramatic. The arrests included some who had decided previously not to get arrested and then were committed. It was good to see so many folks who stayed up to greet the arrestees.
    What we could do better: The color and day leader interaction seemed poor this time which seemed to lead to less communication to all. Some color leaders did not get downstairs on time. We could do a better job of picking color leaders – more in line with the job description. The color leader training should start at home and have the contact person recommend the person after home actions. Could we do some sort of getting to know you meeting with the day and color leaders? There seemed to be an excess of folks asking “do you want to be arrested?” leading to unease among those who did not want to be arrested. There seemed to be confusion among the day leaders, if one was late to the meeting, the message to all was not clear. We do need to be concerned about noise late at night as we wait for the arrestees, possibly a vigil at the holding site. The day on the hill with the union was chaotic. We do a better job of working together and they did not work well with us, in fact several of them left before going to the hill, blaming the rain and their transportation issues. Many of the union members seemed to be new and did not understand the issue (they were for home health and we were for CCA). It was suggested we have a collection of all media in the nation.

    Proposed Federal Rules

    HHS issued advance notice on the rules implementing services and disability labels. Each state has different labels (DD, Aging, Mental Health, etc.) The states now can have flexibility to put all together and stop the silo effect. The rules also talk about the setting where services are received, which are provider centered, not person centered. We need to have all our members comment, talk about the silo effect with personal stories, how separate waivers pit folks against one another, and the cost to run so many waivers. Can we get our governors, Health department head or others to comment on the expense, program cutting, and disparate treatment? We need a list from states of the services cut because of financial problems.
    Due to our victory in DUH City, HUD has issued proposed regulations and housing for people with disabilities. Proposed: 30 million dollars for 4000 vouchers to be distributed for 1000 folks in nursing homes, and the rest for those at risk of NH or non-elderly disabled. Cassie and her committee will put together talking points for all to comment on the proposed regs. Once they are no longer proposed, the only comments will be on the contents.

    128 folks were arrested – 91 at the White House fence and 98 at the street blocking. A fine was levied for all arrestees. It was decided on a conference call that all would share the costs
    Page 2 – Strategy meeting – June ' 09

    after the legal defense fund was completed. The fee is $100/person, even if there were two arrests. The use of a non-profit for a legal defense fund will be researched. It was noted that since they cannot break our spirit with arrests, (our lifeblood is civil disobedience), they are trying to do it financially. Some strategies to continue our mission were to prepare folks at home for arrests, even if they do not happen, get a head count at home before an action, be careful not to be judgmental, think about not signing the ticket, and frame arrests as serious business. Georgia may be different from DC, so prepare folks for possible arrests through local training (Barb has outline and Rahnee has Powerpoint of New people/Legal training – both will share.

    CCA/Health Care Reform

    Mike and Dawn reported that both Harkin and Davis are committed to CCA passage. Davis wrote a letter to the Labor/Education/Commerce Committee offering either a demonstration project or states to include CCA in their state plan. All ADAPTers are encouraged to write Representative Waxman and their Congress folks on the Committee and ask them to sign the letter. This idea may take care of the runaway cost issue. We want the principles of CCA in any health care bill. Montana's Senator Baccus is a key person – and Montanan's are sending keys with names of people who have died in nursing homes to him.
    It was decided to target the Obama administration through the Democrats. We will hold a sit in at the National Democratic Committee and around the nation at state Democratic headquarters. All participating will start at the same time – 1 PM Eastern on July 21. Demands will be decided at a conference call.

    Working With Other Groups

    ADAPT is represented on various national boards, (both as members and board trustees), steering committee members, commissions, and consumer run organizations: Justice For All, NCIL, AAPD, Direct Care Alliance, national P&A, Coalition of People with Disabilities, and CCI. It was noted that since Obama dissed ADAPT, many main stream organizations are now supporting CCA. They feel – as we do – that if long term care is not included in any health care reform, everyone is at risk.

    Fall Action

    Georgia: The DD, Mental Health, and Elderly systems have a set infrastructure with territorial groups. People with disabilities do not. There are approximately 35,000 folks in nursing homes. The MFP money went to providers grandfathered in by agencies that have no
    transitional experience. People who are on vents are sent out of state for care. The MR waiver offers residential and family supports. There is a Community Care Service program for the elderly (with cost share). SOURCE is program offering services for those who don't qualify for IC waiver (now no more than 6 hours).
    Page 3 – June '09 Strategy

    Targets include: 2 Peachtree which houses Medicaid (Independent Care Waiver), and the infrastructure for the Mental Health, DD and Elderly waiver.
    Atlanta Housing Authority has demolished projects, those remaining lack availability and accessibility, and the HA does not apply for NOFA's. There are 6 housing authorities for 159 counties and the Department of Community Affairs is the HA for rural counties that are not covered by a PHA.
    Centennial Park (for a Sunday rally?), Democratic Party, Regional HHS, HUD, and OCR (North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Kentucky, Alabama, Tennessee, and Georgia), the governor.
    Georgia will come up with the number of folks on the waiting list for attendant services, the number of housing units destroyed, the number of inaccessible and accessible units. Day leaders are asked to come in one day early.

    Transition – Insurance for continuance of ADAPT

    When time is of the essence and decisions are made, all of us need to support the decision. To assure the continuity of the organization, honesty in a debriefing process is essential. If we could build in a way for regular reporting, this may cover any lapses. Our committees are used for planning and decisions that are made will develop and push the ADAPT agenda. Anyone can call and say “what's going on?” It's important that just showing up is important. We must remember to respect every soldier who comes to ADAPT.

    Next actions DC April 24-29, 2010. Fall 2010 action: California in Sacramento or San Francisco, DC are ideas. We need to set up a process so local groups can submit places for us to visit.

    Housing: Cassie reported that after our meeting, Secretary Donovan seems to want to be in the business of housing and seems to want to work with folks coming out of nursing homes.
    CCA: Mike said that he had reported yesterday, but be aware that there are fast turnarounds in health care legislation and everyone needs to be on conference calls.
    Media: Amber requests that all committees use the media committee to spread their word and work. Blogs and Twitter are still going strong weeks after the last action. Kathleen has revised the website and would welcome comments.
    History: Tim was not here, and it was emphasized that there should be a reporting mechanism for all committees.
    Youth: This group was organized to develop leadership skills in ADAPT chapters and emerging areas. The group is thinking about having a national leadership training along with a youth summit training. The application for the youth summit could be coordinated with local chapters or have a place for references.

    Page 3 – June '09 Strategy
    Outreach: Bob L. is updating a list of folks interested in starting an ADAPT chapter. There is a grant that will target 6-10 groups in leadership development to bring in 2 folks committed to starting a group. He is encouraging folks to go to Atlanta and gaining training afterwards.
    Youth Summit: There were 12 trainees and cost $10,000. The “hit” is an integral part of the youth training. It was suggested that they target local businesses that are winnable, with possible follow-up in local communities (ex. Starbucks, etc.). This will not disadvantage any potential ADAPT negotiations. The training needs to include our slant on CCA. Preference for the training could be nomination by local chapters and concerns of new groups. All 12 participants faced each other and made a commitment to follow up in their community. Should we open the summit as many folks of different ages need organizing help.
    Transition Assurance: This is going smoothly with all committees meeting regularly and completing their assignments. Day leaders should get in a day early and do onsite observations.
    Fundraising – Incitement: The mailing list is being sorted for addresses, duplicates, etc. as Incitement is losing money on false addresses. If someone has an e-mail only preference, it needs to be known. Possibly put in bundles to be handed out to chapter members.
    Structure of ADAPT: Stephanie talked about the role Atlantis has had in funding. This has created a problem for them, and ADAPT needs to break off into a separate entity to protect Atlantis.
    Fun Run: Daniese has written up a “how to”. Get those who can't go, but can help financially. Should we use Boy Scouts or others and split the profits with them? Currently the room subsidy is $40-50,000.
    Next meetings: Strategy will be in Denver, January 22-25, 2010. June, 2010 in Missoula, MT. Bob L. will get a date. Deadline for the Fall 2010 action proposals is September 1, 2009.
    Freedom Day will be January 15, 2010. Tentative target will be HHS/OCR for complaints of institutional bias.

  • itsmeagain2

    You removed my post?!?!?!?!

    Guess you a Der Fuhrer are together after all, you don't like what someone says and you DELETE it, WHAT EVER!!!!

  • I'm stealing your sabre-rattling PWD icon…

  • I'm stealing your sabre-rattling PWD icon…