|Name||Disability Rights Pennsylvania|
|Address||301 Chestnut Street|
|Address Line 2||Suite 300|
|Name of P&A Executive Director||Peri Jude Radecic|
|Name of PAIR Director/Coordinator||Rocco Iacullo|
|Person to contact regarding report||Peri Jude Radecic|
|Contact Person phone||717-236-8110|
Multiple responses are not permitted.
|1. Individuals receiving I&R within PAIR priority areas||85|
|2. Individuals receiving I&R outside PAIR priority areas||263|
|3. Total individuals receiving I&R (lines A1 + A2)||348|
|1. Number of trainings presented by PAIR staff||45|
|2. Number of individuals who attended training (approximate)||1,945|
1. 10/2/2015 DRP staff provided information and resources at the Senior Health Fair arranged by Representative Patty Kim in Harrisburg to raise awareness of DRP’s services and the rights of people with disabilities. 2. 10/2/2015 DRP staff provided information and resources for senior citizens and individuals with disabilities in the city of McKeesport to raise awareness of DRP’s services and the rights of people with disabilities. 3. 10/9/2015 DRP staff provided a lecture on Special Education 101 to parents and advocates in Westmoreland to increase awareness of DRN services and the rights of students with disabilities. 4. 10/17/2015 A DRP staff provided a lecture on advocating under the ADA and other civil rights laws to people with muscular dystrophy and family members at the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s Muscle Summit in Bucks County. 5. 10/27/2015 DRP staff provided a lecture on transition of youth to adult services to staff at the OVR office in Armstrong County. 6. 10/27/2015 DRP staff provided a lecture on the rights of people with disabilities in the workplace and self-advocacy to consumers, OVR staff, and provider staff at the Pennsylvania Disability Employment and Empowerment Summit (PADES) conference in Allegheny County. 7. 10/27/2015 DRP staff provided a lecture on Special Education 101 and education transition issues to parents in Lawrence County. 8. 11/6/2015 DRP staff provided a lecture on employment rights to individuals who are deaf at Liberty Resources, Inc. in Philadelphia. 9. 11/12/2015 DRP staff provided information and resources regarding DRP’s services, assistive technology, traumatic brain injury, employment and disability, and accessibility at a veteran’s outreach event convened by state representative Costa. 10. 11/13/2015 DRP staff provided a lecture on barriers to entry to the legal profession by people with disabilities as part of a panel discussion at the Society of American Law Teachers Conference in Montgomery County. 11. 11/13/2015 DRP provided information and resources regarding DRP’s services to people with disabilities and interested professionals at the Pennsylvania Disability Employment and Empowerment Summit (PADES) conference in Lancaster. 12. 11/14/2015 DRP provided information and resources regarding DRP’s services to people with disabilities and veterans at the Aldersgate United Methodist Church’s Veterans’ Appreciation Day event in Cumberland County. 13. 11/18/2015 DRP staff provided a lecture about ADA rights in the workplace and public accommodations and about service animals under the FHA and ADA for people who are blind or have visual disabilities at Vision Resources of Central Pennsylvania in Harrisburg. 14. 11/19/2015 DRP staff provided information and resources regarding employment, community living, housing, education, special education, voting, and transition to adulthood at an outreach event convened by Baldwin Whitehall school district targeting transition age students with disabilities. 15. 11/23/2015 DRP staff provided a lecture on discipline of students with disabilities to staff at the School Law Continuing Legal Education course in Philadelphia. 16. 12/2/2015 DRP staff provided a lecture on employment rights to individuals who are blind and visually impaired at the Free Library of Philadelphia for the Blind. 17. 1/29/2016; 1/30/2016 DRP provided information and resources to veterans with TBI at the Harrisburg Stand Down, a weekend of services being provided to veterans who are homeless or at risk of losing their housing to raise awareness of DRP’s services. 18. 3/1/2016 DRP staff provided a lecture for parents and school staff at a conference organized by the Transition Council for Intermediate Unit 7 in Westmoreland County, called Toll Ahead for Funding Services and Supports, to raise awareness of transition issues for students with disabilities under the IDEA. 19. 3/2/2016 DRP provided information and resources at a disability information fair organized by state Senator Teplitz in Harrisburg to raise awareness of DRP services, including its DASH program, and other services available for people with disabilities. 20. 3/3/2016 DRP staff provided a lecture on IEP Writing for a Successful Transition to Adulthood at Representative Dan Miller’s Disability and Mental Health Summit for students and families in Allegheny County. 21. 3/28/2016 DRP staff provided a lecture to members of a student disability studies group at Shippensburg University on disability activism and provided information on voting and access to public accommodations. 22. 4/2/2016 DRP provided information and resources at the Veterans’ Information Fair, Dauphin County to raise awareness of DRP’s services and about disability rights. 23. 4/5/2016 DRP staff provided a lecture to graduate students in special education at Chestnut Hill College concerning procedural safeguards and parental rights under the IDEA. 24. 4/7/2016 DRP staff provided information and resources at a constituency outreach convened by state representative Jim Brewster to raise awareness of DRP services and DRP staff provided information to nursing facility representative attendees regarding the use of power mobility devices in the facilities. 25. 4/8/2016 DRP staff provided a lecture on Titles II and III of the ADA to municipal officials and disability advocates at the Delaware County Fair Housing Task Force hosted by the Housing Equality Center of Pennsylvania. 26. 4/19/2016 DRP staff provided a lecture to people with disabilities and staff at the Advocacy Alliance in Scranton to raise awareness about voting rights for people with disabilities. 27. 5/4/2016 DRP staff provided a lecture about ADA rights and enforcement to students in Drexel University’s Health Service Administration Department studying the history and status of the disability rights movement. 28. 5/10/2016 DRP staff provided a lecture to brain tumor survivors and family members at the Brain Tumor Support Group in East Stroudsburg to raise awareness of DRP services and voting rights for people with disabilities, which was also live-streamed on Facebook. 29. 5/12/2016 DRP provided information and resources to active duty military, veterans, civilians, and military connected families at the Behavioral Health Summit for PA CARES, held at Fort Indiantown Gap to raise awareness of DRP services. 30. 6/8/2016 DRP staff provided a lecture to members of the Pittsburgh Association of the Deaf to educate them on powers of staff and substitute decision-making and to raise awareness about DRP’s services. 31. 6/11/2016 DRP provided information and resources at a Disability Pride event in Philadelphia to raise awareness of DRP’s services and to provide information on voting rights and managed care for people with disabilities. 32. 6/14/2016 DRP’s Legal Director provided a lecture to staff from protection and advocacy systems as part of a panel at the NDRN conference presenting on Olmstead and Medical Assistance. 33. 6/15/2016 DRP staff provided a lecture to school staff on access and equity for English-language learners with disabilities at the Samuel Francis School Law Symposium in Allegheny County. 34. 6/16/2016 DRP staff provided a lecture to people at the Pennsylvania Permanency Conference sponsored by the Statewide Adoption Network conference in State College on the IDEA and transition for students with disabilities. 35. 6/27/2016 DRP staff provided a lecture to staff and legal interns at public interest organizations in Allegheny County to raise awareness of DRP’s services. 36. 7/13/2016 DRP staff provided information and resources to members of Wheels In Motion, a committee of the CIL of Central PA, to raise awareness of voting rights for voters with disabilities. 37. 7/20/2016 DRP staff provided a lecture on the basics of special education law to students at Robert Morris University in Allegheny County who are studying to become special education teachers. 38. 7/20/2016 DRP staff presented information and resources about DRP services and voting rights to members of Southwest Six, a collaboration of consumers and community service providers in the southwest area of PA. 39. 7/21/2016 DRP staff provided a lecture at the Bucks County Center for Independent Living to staff and consumers to raise awareness of people with disabilities’ rights under Titles II and III of the ADA and to raise awareness of DRP’s services. 40. 7/22/2016 DRP staff along with staff from the Education Law Center and Juvenile Law Center provided a lecture to individuals on a transition tool kit for children in foster care at the annual Secondary Transition Conference sponsored by the Pennsylvania Lecture and Technical Assistance Network in State College. 41. 8/2/2016 DRP staff provided a lecture to consumers in Liberty Resources, Inc.’s young adult transition group to raise awareness of DRP’s services, including its PABSS program. 42. 8/3/2016 DRP staff provided lectures at two workshops on Traumatic Brain Injury at the annual Diversity Conference held in Annville/Lebanon County to raise awareness of DRP services and to educate attendees about brain injury. 43. 8/16/2016 DRP staff provided a lecture to state and county election officials on facilitating participation by voters with disabilities. 44. 8/23/2016 DRP staff provided a lecture to pediatric health care professionals and staff at Lehigh Valley Health Network concerning resources and entitlements for children and youth with disabilities through age 21. 45. 9/20/2016 A DRP staff provided a lecture to staff of Elks Nurses in Montour County to raise awareness about DRP services, Medical Assistance, waivers, and the children’s behavioral health system.
|1. Radio and TV appearances by PAIR staff||0|
|2. Newspaper/magazine/journal articles||18|
|3. PSAs/videos aired||0|
|4. Hits on the PAIR/P&A website||40,884|
|5. Publications/booklets/brochures disseminated||2,299|
|6. Other (specify separately)||0|
1. Brewster’s senior expo draws record crowd in McKeesport ERIC SLAGLE | Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015 Area seniors packed into the Palisades in McKeesport on Friday for a health fair sponsored by state Sen. James R. Brewster. There were 80 vendors and 23 health screening tables open to the hundreds of seniors attending. “You get stuff and you meet people,” is how Frank Tarli of Port Vue described his outing at the health fair. “I think the community needs something like this. I think the people appreciate it.” Tarli said thanks should go to Brewster for organizing the event. This is the fifth year the state senator from McKeesport offered the event and he said he was pleased with the turnout. “When I came here, you couldn’t get in the door,” he said, noting the idea behind the fair is to get healthcare and others providing services to the elderly together in one place. “It lets seniors meet vendors they don’t get to see every day,” Brewster said. The event included a raffle, lunch provided by Broadway Pizza in McKeesport and coffee provided by Auberle. There was a wide mix of information tables and services available. Marylin Cohn, who came with a group from Monroeville Senior Center, picked up useful information about Social Security, Medicare and nursing care. She drives but opted to take the bus with others from the Monroeville center. “Why drive over here when you can get a bus?” she asked. A representative from Forbes Hospital said about 50 people got a free flu shot during their visit. Pat Semay of McKeesport Meals on Wheels said her group fielded a lot of questions about the service they offer and volunteering. “We’re getting feedback and comments,” Semay said. Rob Oliver from the Disability Rights Network said his organization saw the fair as an opportunity to connect with seniors, an age group that statistically has more disabilities than the general population, but added, “We serve people with all kinds of disabilities at any age.” Dawn Myers from Animal Friends and therapy dog Pip were at the fair. Myers said Pip, a boxer and English setter mix, is a hit with all ages. “We do events like this to promote therapy dogs,” Myers said. “She likes everybody.” Allison Piccolino from Brewster’s office said about the attendance, “This is our biggest year yet.” 2. Disabled citizens seek full integration at ADA’s 25th Anniversary Point Park News Service | October 20, 2015 By Alicia Green When Joseph Wassermann, 81, used to cross the street, he had to depend on the sound of traffic and his own confidence to get him across safely. Unlike some people who can rely on both their sight and hearing, Wassermann, a retired teacher from Oakland, never had that option because he is blind. “The biggest obstacles were crossing streets and intersections,” Wasserman said in a telephone interview. “There weren’t any (accessible pedestrian signals).” The accessible pedestrian signals Wassermann refers to was one of the many developments that came about as a result of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a federal law passed in 1991 that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in regards to employment, transportation, public accommodation, communications and governmental activities. As the ADA celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, many people with disabilities have looked back at how it changed their lives for the better — while also noting that much work still needs to be done. “(The ADA) is great for people who are wheelchair users, great for people with visual losses, and good for people with hearing losses, but (there is) not 100 percent satisfaction,” Paul Richard McGann, 62, who is deafblind, said in an email. “There are issues that people are trying to avoid.” McGann said there still needs to be better technology for people with both hearing and visual losses and better services that would give them better opportunities to have “good independent living skills.” Reporter Alicia Green describes what it was like to communicate with McGann in this firstperson sidebar. He also expressed concern about how little Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disabled people receive as well as the lack of jobs available for those with disabilities. The SSI is designed to provide aged, blind and disabled people who have little to no income with money for food, clothing and shelter. “It is very sad that disabled (people) live in low income and are not able to get enough support,” McGann said. However, he said the Social Security Disability Insurance, which provides benefits to those with disabilities that have worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes is “great.” As a resident of Brookline, McGann said he believes that Pittsburgh needs to improve in a lot of areas, including working on sidewalks and improving employment for disabled people. Wassermann, who works with McGann on Pittsburgh’s CityCounty Task Force on Disabilities (CCFTD), said the group has produced short television clips about sidewalk improvements, including getting litter, sandwich boards and outdoor seating off of sidewalks. “All the kinds of things that sometimes make a sidewalk not particularly impassable, but certainly difficult for people in wheelchairs, people traveling with mobility canes (and) dog guides,” Wassermann said. And while Pittsburgh’s ADA Coordinator Richard Meritzer said he agrees that the city still needs to make some adjustments, he also sees the positives the ADA has done for the city. “I think what’s really improved are the issues with mobility and communication,” Meritzer said in a telephone interview. “We still have a long way to go in commerce and employment. That’s the next horizon.” Meritzer noted that most of the city has curb ramps and is adding more, that all of Pittsburgh’s buses are now handicapped accessible and that there are four cab companies with accessible cabs. He said the city is currently in the process of integrating citywide accessible pedestrian signals since there are some old “chirpers” in Oakland and the Cultural District. “We’re essentially removing any barriers for people to get where they’re going,” Meritzer said. Although he praised Pittsburgh for its work so far, Meritzer elaborated on what issues still need to be addressed. “We need more accessibility for businesses and more accessibility information in businesses,” Meritzer said. “Most restaurants still don’t have braille menus. One of the biggest complaints we have about the airport is that while televisions can be captioned, most of the time the restaurants and bars at airports don’t put the captioning on. In commerce, people with disabilities needs are often not understood or [are] overlooked.” He said the city introduced a one-step program, which “encourages businesses to become accessible because we don’t have any right to force them to be accessible.” This is done, he said, by “streamlining the process and waiving all the city fees and identifying architects that will do the work for free so that it would cost (businesses) very little to replace a step with a ramp.” According to Meritzer, 10 businesses have currently been through the program. Sometimes, he said he comes across businesses that don’t want to make those accessibility changes. “We’re gently encouraging by informing them they can be sued,” Meritzer said. “In Oakland, there is actually someone who is out there suing businesses right now. We’re willing to work with them to alleviate those problems.” Paul Richard McGann also uses a larger braille display in order to use his computer. In regards to employment, an issue both Wassermann and McGann have concerns about, Meritzer said local governments are “working very, very hard” on it. This comes at an important time as October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Right now, Pittsburgh is also working on making sure the city’s webpage is compliant with the latest requirements for web accessibility for those who are visually impaired. The city/county task force recently completed Hospital Compliance Guidelines for the Deaf, Deaf-Blind, and Hard of Hearing, and is in the process of creating guidelines for the intellectually and developmentally disabled. “They’re manuals that the hospitals can use to make sure that they’re compliant under the law,” Meritzer said. “People were coming to the task force saying that they were going to the hospitals and not being able to get interpreters or they were waiting forever for interpreters. No one knew who was supposed to get them.” “The whole complication of hospitalization,” Wassermann said. “The forms (and) the communicating that needs to be done with severely disabled individuals, particularly the deafblind (and) the severely mentally retarded. A lot of improvement needs to be made with disability groups like that in terms of being able to communicate in the emergency room.” Wassermann said people with disabilities need to know what they’re signing. He also said there needs to be some changes made in regards to prescription drugs. “It’s only been within the last five years, even though the ADA was passed 25 years ago, that blind people have access to accessible material — either braille or audio versions of their prescriptions, the side effects (and) how often you need to take this or that,” Wassermann said. “Particularly individuals who are on a lot of medication, it’s a great deal to keep track of. Previously, we had marked our own bottles, but usually didn’t know anything about the dos and don’ts, the side effects. That’s something we need to know about.” In 2014, the U.S. Census Bureau said, “Approximately 57 million Americans have a disability.” In Pennsylvania alone, a Disability Status Report conducted by Cornell University concluded that the overall percentage of people with a disability in all ages was 13.4 percent, meaning 1,684,900 individuals reported that they had one or more disabilities. “People with disabilities live in the community, and they want to have lives like everybody else,” said Chava Kintisch, director of civic engagement and government affairs for the Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania, in a telephone interview. “Meeting with and interacting with people with disabilities, understanding what they want, what their needs are and what’s important to them is really key for the government and for the public.” Kintisch continued, “The Americans with Disabilities Act talks about integration in the community. Of course, we want to see that happen to the fullest extent. We think about disability as ability. People with disabilities (and) everybody else, we’re people of all abilities.” 3. When Legal Paternalism Interferes With Access to Justice By: Andrew Favini, The Legal Intelligencer November 23, 2015 When an individual reaches the age of majority, that individual, regardless of disability, has the legal right to make decisions on his or her own behalf. This right of self-determination can only be replaced by the decisions of a legal guardian after a court, through a legal proceeding, deems an individual incapacitated. One is determined to lack capacity if that individual’s "ability to receive and evaluate information effectively and communicate decisions ... is impaired to such a significant extent that he is partially or totally unable to manage his financial resources or to meet essential requirements for his physical health and safety" (20 Pa. C.S A. Section 5501). Guardianship proceedings are filed against people with intellectual, developmental and other disabilities, many times as young adults. The Pennsylvania guardianship statute establishes significant procedural safeguards for guardianship proceedings as "’the court has the power to place total control of a person’s affairs in the hands of another. This great power creates the opportunity for great abuse,’" according to In re Hyman, 811 A.2d 605, 608 (Pa. Super. Ct. 2002), quoting Estate of Haertsch, 609 A.2d 1384, 1386 (1992). In a guardianship proceeding, the respondent maintains the right to be present during the hearing and has a right to request an independent evaluation at the cost of the court. The respondent is also entitled to notice that must explain the purpose and seriousness of the proceeding, as well as the rights that will be lost if a guardian is appointed. The petitioner must also give notice to other interested parties, such as family members, and must inform the respondent of his or her right to request that counsel be appointed and paid for by the court. This safeguard, the right to be represented by counsel, is so protected that seven days before the hearing, the petitioner is mandated to notify the court if the respondent has yet to obtain counsel. If not, the court, when appropriate, can appoint counsel for the respondent. Pennsylvania has established a two-prong test to determine the need for guardianship, and the burden to prove each by clear and convincing evidence rests on the petitioner (see 20 Pa.C.S.A. Section 5512.1 (a)(2)-(3) and In re Peery, 556 Pa. 125, 127, 727 A.2d 539, 539 (1999)). The petitioner must establish that (1) the respondent lacks capacity, and (2) the lack of capacity is not surmounted by the supports and services available to the respondent. To meet this burden, the petitioner must first establish "the nature and extent of the alleged incapacities and disabilities," according to Title 20. They must then "also present evidence regarding the services being utilized to meet essential requirements for the alleged incapacitated" person. That is, even if the petitioner can establish that a respondent is incapacitated, the petitioner must also show that the supports available to the respondent, such as family, friends, and other supports, do not mitigate the need for a guardian. The safeguards are meant to protect respondents and ensure each has a fair opportunity to defend himself. Unfortunately, it is our experience that these safeguards are often not carried out for people with disabilities. Across Pennsylvania, courts in which these proceedings are held consider the vast majority of the petitions to be "uncontested." Even in proceedings in which counsel is appointed for the respondent, most of those petitions are treated as uncontested, meaning that the petitioner is not required to establish that a guardian is necessary by clear and convincing evidence and appointed counsel is not presenting a defense. Further, even though under Pennsylvania law the scope of guardianships should be as limited as possible, the vast majority of guardians, around 90 percent, are appointed as plenary, or guardians of the entire person. (See "Wards of the State: A National Study of Public Guardianship," by Pamela B. Teaster, Erica F. Wood, Susan A. Lawrence and Winsor C. Schmidt.) Plenary guardians have the power to control every aspect of the other person’s life. Giving guardians wide power to make significant personal decisions impacts the most intimate part of who a person is. Individuals with guardianships may not marry, choose where to live, maintain employment, or make friends without the consent of their guardian. Taking away a person’s right to self-determination can have significant psychological and emotional impacts. Often, courts purport to conduct guardianship proceedings in this way to protect the person with a disability and his "best interests." Notions of what is in the best interests of a person with a disability may be based on stereotypical notions of the abilities of people with disabilities and paternalistic notions of what is needed to keep them safe. Failure to preserve the rights of individuals with disabilities in these proceedings may be based on an erroneous presumption that self-determination is not as important to individuals with disabilities. Good intentions are no excuse. "Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government’s purposes are beneficent. ... The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding," according to Olmstead v. United States,277 U.S. 438, 479 (1928) (Brandeis, J., dissenting). Across the country, protection and advocacy organizations, like Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania, are examining guardianship laws and proceedings to ensure that legal paternalism does not interfere with self-determination and essential liberty interests of people with disabilities. If individuals with disabilities are to live complete lives, then we must preserve these most basic of freedoms: the right to make decisions and to assume everyday risks, the dignity to be allowed to make mistakes, and equally as important, the ability to fairly defend these freedoms when challenged. Andrew Favini is a staff attorney with Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania. He is a graduate of Villanova University School of Law and can be reached at email@example.com. 4. Here’s why Pa. shouldn’t tinker with an important healthcare program for seniors: Another View PennLive Op-Ed December 1, 2015 By Jennifer Kye, Laval Miller-Wilson, Diane Menio, Peri Jude Radecic and Antoinette Kraus For many low-income seniors and adults with disabilities in our state, access to home and community-based long-term care may soon be in jeopardy. Pennsylvania is planning to make private insurance companies the gatekeepers for these services, shifting the state’s Medicaid-funded long-term services and supports system to a managed care model. Unfortunately, safeguards for consumers are not assured. Under this model, the state would pay private insurance companies to cover and manage home and community-based services for an estimated 450,000 low-income seniors and adults with disabilities. These individuals are currently served by the state’s Office of Long Term Living and a network of community-based providers, such as the Centers for Independent Living and local Area Agencies on Aging. Pennsylvania’s hope for its new program, called Community Health Choices, is to create a system with better care coordination so that consumers can live healthy, safe, and independent lives in their communities. Every day, the state’s more than 700 nursing homes provide high-quality, compassionate care to 81,000 frail elderly and disabled residents who need around-the-clock support for clinically complex medical conditions. As advocates for seniors and people with disabilities, we appreciate this vision but are deeply concerned about the state’s plan to turn long-term care over to private insurance companies, as well as the rapid pace at which it seeks to implement this complex new program. We fear that the program’s goals will never be realized if the state proceeds too quickly, and that the new system could harm the people it’s meant to help. The state only released the basic framework of its plan in September, but it has already announced it will sign contracts with insurance companies early next year. This compressed planning period leaves little time for the state to think through complicated decisions about program design, much less get meaningful input from those who would be affected. The current system - built over many years with experienced community-based providers - should not be dismantled so swiftly. Managed long-term care presents a massive change that poses significant risks for vulnerable seniors and people with disabilities. One grave concern is that service disruptions are highly likely. Another concern is that private insurance plans, which have traditionally dealt with acute medical services, have limited experience in coordinating care for individuals with complex, long-term care needs. Highmark took a big plunge into the marketplace. These consumers require an array of supports and services, many of which are non-medical in nature but are critical to allowing people with disabilities to live in their own homes and communities. It remains unclear whether private insurance companies understand the importance of such services and the needs of this population. Furthermore, private insurance plans have their own need - the need to watch their bottom line. This means plans may deny services in an effort to lower costs and maximize profits. Consumers in other states that have already shifted to managed long-term care have often suffered devastating disruptions and cuts to vital services. In California, a chaotic transition led to consumers abruptly losing access to trusted providers. In New York, insurance plans began denying services to the most frail and impaired consumers, instead opting to serve healthier (and thus less costly) individuals. A similar crisis occurred in Tennessee, where consumers with worsening conditions found themselves actually losing care when they needed it the most. And in Florida, older adults and persons with disabilities at risk of nursing facility placement filed a lawsuit against the state after suffering severe reductions in services due to the state’s switch to managed care. In order to avoid a similar fate in Pennsylvania, we urge the state to press pause and re-evaluate its plan, particularly because of the ambitious scope of Community Health Choices and the vulnerability of the population it would cover. The state must consider other models for coordinating care besides enrolling consumers in private insurance plans, and it must implement any new program gradually by first testing the system in a limited geographic area. Additionally, Pennsylvania must allow for enough time to actively involve the public, including seniors and people with disabilities, in the decision-making surrounding the mechanics of a new system. We recommend the formation of stakeholder work groups that would contribute to key decisions on issues such as eligibility, needs assessments, service planning, quality assurance, program monitoring, and appeals for service denials. Choices regarding these crucial issues will determine whether a new program effectively protects consumers’ interests. While the state has recently created more opportunities for public input about Community Health Choices, it has given no indication that it will depart from its accelerated timeline for implementing the program. Yet if Pennsylvania persists with this current schedule, it is only inviting the unnecessary risk of harm to hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people. The state must reconsider its approach. With the lives of so many vulnerable Pennsylvanians at stake, if the state must proceed with managed long-term care, it should do so slowly and with caution. Jennifer Kye is the Borchard Fellow in Law and Aging, Community Legal Services of Philadelphia; Laval Miller-Wilson is the Executive Director, Pennsylvania Health Law Project; Diane Menio is the Executive Director, Center for Advocacy for the Rights and Interests of the Elderly; Peri Jude Radecic is the Chief Executive Officer, Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania, and Antoinette Kraus is the State Director, Pennsylvania Health Access Network. 5. PA disability rights group: Eliminate subminimum wages for workers with disabilities By Halle Stockton | PublicSource | Dec. 11, 2015 Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania seeks system changes to improve the employment of people with disabilities Recommendations include the elimination of the subminimum wage, an end to new sheltered workshop settings, and full funding for services and supports as system changes are made. Today, members of the Board of Directors (Board) of the Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania (DRN) released a White Paper on the employment of people with disabilities. The paper entitled, “Community Jobs and a Living Wage: Opportunities for People with Disabilities in Pennsylvania” creates awareness about the number of people with disabilities in the workforce, examines laws and systems that have opened the doors to community integrated employment, and makes recommendations for individualized community employment at a living wage. “This paper comes at a critical time when our state is drafting regulations on Home and Community-Based Services and an Employment First plan for Pennsylvania,” said Lucille Piggott-Prawl, Chair of the DRN Board Public Policy Committee. “The DRN Board has developed a guide map of solutions so that all people with disabilities can explore work and be meaningfully employed in our communities.” The DRN Board unanimously approved the White Paper at their December quarterly meeting which was held in Harrisburg on Friday, December 4, 2015. The White Paper points out that while more doors to the workplace have been open to people with disabilities, many more remain shut. The Paper cites a statistic that only 34% of working-age people with disabilities were in the labor force, compared to 75% of those without disabilities. “The lack of employment at a living wage has severe consequences,” continued Piggott-Prawl. “Pennsylvanians with disabilities are two to three times more likely to live in poverty than those who do not have disabilities. Employment leads to independence, self-sufficiency, and self-worth. All people with disabilities should have a choice to select meaningful employment at a living wage.” The White Paper illustrates barriers to meaningful employment at a living wage. The barriers include jobs that pay below the minimum wage, work that segregates people with disabilities from the community, lack of funding for state agencies that help people with disabilities prepare for and find jobs in the workforce, lack of opportunities for high school students with disabilities to transition to adult life, and the lack of state regulations and plans that put community integrated employment first. The DRN Board supports choice in employment and recommends many solutions, including: • No new sheltered workshops and a moratorium on new referrals to already existing sheltered employment settings by school districts, intermediate units, Department of Human Services, Department of Labor and Industry and others. • Issuance of an Employment First Executive Order and enactment of Employment First legislation in Pennsylvania. • Full implementation of federal regulations that require home and community-based services to be provided in integrated settings. • Study and promotion of best practices and positive models for community employment at a living wage. 6. The Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania is calling for systemic changes in how people with disabilities are employed. The group’s board of directors issued a white paper Friday calling for the elimination of subminimum wages paid to workers with disabilities and for a ban on creating new sheltered workshops. The Disability Rights Network cites a 2014 PublicSource investigation throughout its white paper. PublicSource’s analysis of federal records revealed that about 13,000 Pennsylvanians with disabilities were being paid an average of $2.40, mostly in sheltered workshops. We also found that employers weren’t always following the rules, which led to some workers being paid even less. Critics of the workshops say they are segregated settings in which people with disabilities are given menial tasks that provide little to no training in jobs that could get them into the mainstream workforce. Sheltered workshops and the provision to pay people with disabilities below the federal minimum wage were created in the Depression Era, when it was thought that the system would incentivize employers to hire people with disabilities and lead to more integration. “The lack of employment at a living wage has severe consequences,” [said Lucille] Piggott-Prawl, [chair of the network board’s public policy committee]. “Pennsylvanians with disabilities are two to three times more likely to live in poverty than those who do not have disabilities. Employment leads to independence, self-sufficiency, and self-worth. All people with disabilities should have a choice to select meaningful employment at a living wage.” The group also argues that there is too little funding for state agencies that are supposed to be preparing people with disabilities for integrated jobs and a lack of regulations that could make it a priority. The solutions the board recommends include: ? No new sheltered workshops and a moratorium on new referrals to already existing sheltered employment settings by school districts, intermediate units, Department of Human Services, Department of Labor and Industry and others. ? Issuance of an Employment First Executive Order and enactment of Employment First legislation in Pennsylvania. ? Full implementation of federal regulations that require home and community-based services to be provided in integrated settings. ? Study and promotion of best practices and positive models for community employment at a living wage. 7. Nonprofit urges more state help for people with disabilities Group says laws needed to remove barriers By David O’Connor, December 15, 2015 Much has improved for people with disabilities in Pennsylvania over the past generation, especially in the workplace, but more remains to be done. Namely, barriers that hamper the transition for high school students with disabilities looking for adult work must be taken down, and the lack of a “living wage” for the disabled must be ameliorated. Those are the recommendations in a new report by the Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania, a statewide advocacy organization for people with disabilities. The 20-page report, “Community Jobs and a Living Wage: Opportunities for People with Disabilities in Pennsylvania,” aims to raise awareness of changes needed to help the one in six Pennsylvanians with disabilities, network CEO Peri Jude Radecic said Tuesday. A year in the making, the report aims to “provide a framework for changes at the highest level of state government, changes that will continue to remove the barriers” the disabled face, Radecic said. “Barriers are falling, but more needs to be done,” Radecic said. The 38-year-old disability-rights network has offices in Harrisburg, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. The new report finds that 34 percent of working-age people with disabilities are in the labor force, compared with 75 percent of those without disabilities. Plus, the 1.8 million Pennsylvanians who are disabled are two to three times more likely to live in poverty than others, officials with the nonprofit said. Barriers include jobs that pay below the minimum wage, work that segregates the disabled from the community, a lack of funding for state agencies that help the disabled prepare for and find jobs, and a lack of opportunities for high school students with disabilities to prepare for adult life, the report said. 8. Roadblocks remain for autonomous cars Self-driving cars are coming, but they’re not ready for Pittsburgh yet. By Stephanie Roman | PublicSource | Feb. 21, 2016 Ninety percent of car crashes are preventable. As it stands, about 30,000 people die in car crashes every year in the United States, said Mark Kopko of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation [PennDOT]. “If you could reduce that by 90 percent, that’s huge.” Autonomous cars have the capacity to do that. In Allegheny County, that could mean a vast reduction in the roughly 12,000 crashes in 2014 — especially of those attributed to driver error, like drunk or distracted driving and speeding. The technology isn’t a distant dream. Much of it is being researched and designed here in Pittsburgh. Ride-sharing app company Uber and Carnegie Mellon University [CMU] announced a partnership to work on autonomous cars a year ago. Uber set up an Advanced Technologies Center in Pittsburgh, where they have access to CMU’s talent as well as its National Robotics Engineering Center. The cars could reduce congested parking and allow commuters to prepare for work. Eventually, they might even provide people unable to drive with access to safe and reliable transportation from their doorsteps. But Pittsburgh’s varied weather, the resulting pothole problem and the city’s erratic streets may throw up roadblocks for these smart cars. And, the overall safety of pedestrians, bicyclists and other motorists is already a concern without the added factor of cars governed by nascent technology. Figuring out how to legislate a cutting-edge technology poses another challenge. Some states have passed regulations creating safety measures for the testing of autonomous cars, but not Pennsylvania. A state workgroup is making preparations to be ready for self-driving cars by the year 2040. “There’s still too many questions and the potentials are there, so that’s the beauty,” said Kopko, PennDOT manager of traveler information and advanced vehicle technology. The car decides in 2013, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration defined five stages of vehicle autonomy, with level 0 being that the driver has full control of steering, brakes and throttle, and level 4 meaning that the car performs all functions independently. Some commercial vehicles are already considered levels 1 and 2, with functions like automatic braking, adaptive cruise control and self-parking. But there’s much to be achieved before level-4 cars chauffeur people around town. Fully autonomous vehicles need to cover two domains: highway driving and urban driving. “Technologically, we’re pretty much there in terms of highway driving,” said John Dolan, principal systems scientist at CMU’s Robotics Institute. The demands of urban driving are “problematic,” he continued. “Nobody’s really claiming they’ve solved it.” There are three major fields when it comes to teaching cars to drive themselves: perception, behaviors and motion planning. Perception is how the cars see. They do that with sensors, like cameras, lasers testing distance, and radars detecting speed. Behaviors are how the car makes tactical decisions, like choosing to merge into the Fort Pitt Tunnel or moving ahead at a stop sign. Motion planning is the time the car has to make those decisions. It’s the most difficult aspect to design. While a car’s sensors would be able to detect if a deer leapt out unexpectedly, it still may not be able to avoid a collision. Many automakers are working on models of autonomous cars, and liability is a major concern. “There’s reliability issues. Kind of like NASA and the space industry, they’re going to test it rigorously over the course of several years,” Dolan said. “They need redundancy.” The cars also need massive computing power, which Dolan said may be the most expensive feature. It’s likely that the first autonomous cars on the market will be luxury vehicles, and the costs will increase from there. Dolan estimated prices will start at about $60,000 to $75,000. Street talk Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk says his company will have autonomous cars road-ready in about two years. Some autonomous car and tech developers say city planners shouldn’t get carried away with changes to infrastructure to make way for these cars as their capabilities will continue to evolve. Certain changes would help, though. Cities, including Pittsburgh, may need to consider standardizing traffic signals and redesigning “problem intersections.” For example, bizarre on-ramps, traffic lights and one-way signs between Bedford Avenue, Crosstown Boulevard and I-376 in the Hill District could confuse car computers just as much as they do humans — unless it’s been extensively mapped. Another improvement would be to install dedicated short-range communication in traffic lights, which would signal cars when to go or slow down. Cooperation among states may also be needed. “There’s a huge amount of variations on [street] signs between states,” said Blaine Leonard, program manager for intelligent transportation systems at the Utah DOT. “We need to do a better job of figuring out how to make those more consistent.” PennDOT doesn’t have major investments planned, although the agency is staying abreast of the technology. Eventually, it may look at reducing lane width or cutting out interstate lanes entirely. One suggestion in PennDOT’s 2040 outline is to reduce the width of the Squirrel Hill tunnel lanes to 10 feet, and to add a third 9-foot lane for autonomous cars. Kopko said the only near-term project would involve line painting. “Some [vehicles] look at lines and some don’t,” he said. Leonard added that white line paint isn’t as visible at night or in inclement weather, and it fades. One solution, he said, might be to put radio frequency identification, known as RFID, in the line paint. If autonomous cars truly revolutionize the way people get around, what happens to all the parking? “Because of the way that they circulate, the demand for parking may go down in the city. Those types of vehicles may park on the fringes for free or for cheap,” said Justin Miller, a senior planner for the city of Pittsburgh. Miller said planners may have to consider making new parking structures adaptable, in case they become unneeded. PennDOT agrees. “In an urban setting, the amount of parking garages could be potential green space,” said Kurt Myers, deputy secretary of PennDOT driver and vehicle services. Legislating the unknown Legislating autonomous vehicles is a hurdle because of the liability involved. “[The government will] start to or need to get involved from a safety perspective, at least to make sure this stuff is deployed responsibly,” said Dean Pomerleau, an adjunct robotics professor at CMU and pioneer of self-driving technology. “And despite whatever Elon Musk and the tech guys say, there will be crashes.” California and a handful of other states have enacted regulations permitting autonomous vehicle testing on public roads and establishing baseline safety measures — primarily that licensed drivers need to be in the car to take control if necessary. In January, President Barack Obama and U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced they would pump $4 billion into autonomous car development over the next decade. Foxx said the proposal will ease legislative and financial obstacles for auto and tech companies developing the cars. PennDOT formed the Pennsylvania Connected and Automated Vehicle Working Group in 2012. It includes lawyers and representatives from the Turnpike Commission, the Federal Highway Administration and CMU. The 2040 outline is the most official item on the books right now. There are no state regulations regarding autonomous cars in place. With the rate of car turnover, Leonard, of the Utah DOT, said it could take 40 years for autonomous cars to become the norm. “Even when autonomous vehicles are available and in operation, it will be a long time before they are fully integrated,” Myers said. Removing a barrier Autonomous cars will need a licensed driver in the seat — at least at first. But someday people who are unable to drive on their own could have the same access to cars. Peri Jude Radecic, CEO of the Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania, said this could be life-changing for people with disabilities. “In rural areas, the problems are magnified, so having another transportation option available to us would be a great advance forward,” she said. Radecic said transportation departments and the government should ensure autonomous cars are developed in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. “It would save a lot of money and headaches down the road if we’re able to have these conversations ... now,” she said. Many experts say that, like an Uber, autonomous vehicles will probably be available to order as taxis at first. They could become a choice alternative for people who live too far from their bus stop to walk or bike, but still want to be economical about transport. “This really has the potential to impact the quality of life from a mobility standpoint for individuals literally across the world,” Myers said. Leonard thought about how it could change his and his cohort’s future. “I really think for [the Baby Boomer] generation the driverless car thing is really going to make it possible to participate in society when we can’t be driving,” he said. The dream for many involved in the development of autonomous cars is that people without licenses will be able to get around without having to rely on friends or public transportation. “It may very well be where people look back and say, ‘How archaic it is that you had to sit behind a wheel,’” Myers said. 9. CREATING A COMMUNITY Local brain injury support group hosts safety fair The members of Butler County’s Brain Injury Support Group have grown into a wonderful community over the years, but they’d just as soon not add new members if they don’t have to. For that reason, the group will be giving out free fitted bicycle helmets to children and adults at its upcoming 11th Annual Brain Safety Fair on March 20 at the Clearview Mall. Included in the fair, which coincides with National Brain Injury Awareness Month, will be activity tables where children and parents can become educated on how to protect against brain injury, culminating in the helmet fitting and giveaway. The fair is also a way for people and families touched by brain injuries to find new resources, with 20 different community representatives from the Pittsburgh, Erie and Butler areas planning to attend, as well as connect with the support group. The fair is sponsored by the Brain Injury Association of Pennsylvania. The support group itself started in 2004. Dottie Ardell, whose son suffered a traumatic brain injury in 1987, said they would travel to meet with the Pittsburgh support group, but always hoped for something closer. Then, in 2004, through her involvement on an advisory board with the Department of Health, she connected with Deborah Delgado, who works at the Disability Rights Network in Harrisburg. Delgado was instrumental in helping Ardell plan the first Brain Safety Fair, she said, which led to the formation of the support group that’s still going strong. “It’s a huge thing to know there’s some-one else in the same boat as you are,” Ardell said. “Over the years we’ve met so many families who are happy to touch base with someone else. When something like that happens, you feel so alone and don’t under-stand. Younger people feel like they’ve lost contact with their friends because they go on with their lives and you’re back trying to start over again. It’s a big thing for families to find other families they can talk to.” According to the Brain Injury Association of America, an estimated 2.4 million children and adults in the United States sustain a traumatic brain injury each year. 10. Disability Rights Pennsylvania announces voting rights hotline for Primary Election Day Apr 25, 2016 PITTSBURGH - Disability Rights of Pennsylvania has partnered with the Election Protection Coalition to provide voter assistance to Pennsylvanians with disabilities on Primary Election Day. Voters with disabilities who encounter barriers to voting, or who wants to verify their polling location can call 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-621-2629) from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day. “Voting is one of our most fundamental rights, yet barriers exist that prevent people with disabilities from exercising their right to vote,” said Peri Jude Radecic, CEO of Disability Rights Pennsylvania. Federal civil rights laws were passed to ensure people with disabilities have access to polling places, are able to register to vote, have voting materials in an accessible format. 11. Disability Rights Pennsylvania Voting Rights Hotline for PA Primary 4/26/2016 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683) Disability Rights Pennsylvania (DRP), a leader in disability rights legal and advocacy services for nearly forty (40) years, has partnered with the Election Protection Coalition to provide voter assistance to persons with disabilities in Pennsylvania on Primary Election Day, Tuesday, April 26, 2016. Voters with disabilities who encounter barriers to voting or who want to verify their polling location can call the hotline toll-free at 1-866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683). The hotline will be staffed live from 6 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Primary Election Day. “Voting is one of our most fundamental rights. Yet barriers exist that prevent people with disabilities from exercising their right to vote,” said Peri Jude Radecic, Chief Executive Officer of Disability Rights Pennsylvania. Federal civil rights laws were passed to ensure people with disabilities have access to polling places, are able to register to vote, have voting materials in accessible formats, and can exercise a private and independent vote. These laws include the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act of 1984, the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, and the Help America Vote Act of 2002. Disability Rights Pennsylvania notes that barriers for people with disabilities on Primary Election Day can include inaccessible polling places, lack of accommodations, and accessible machine failures. Voters who experience barriers or who want to verify their polling place should call 1-866-OUR VOTE. Disability Rights Pennsylvania (DRP) is the statewide protection and advocacy agency for Pennsylvanians with disabilities. DRP protects and advocates for the rights of people with disabilities so that they may live the lives they choose, free from abuse, neglect, discrimination, and segregation. DRP’s vision is a Commonwealth where people of all abilities are equal and free. www.disabilityrightspa.org. 12. Broad Based Coalition Calls for City Council to Create a new Department of Elections To be administered by Election Director appointed by the Mayor with oversight by appointed, bipartisan Philadelphia Board of Elections PHILADELPHIA, PA (May 4, 2016) — A diverse coalition of a dozen civic and community organizations known as the Better Philadelphia Elections Coalition (BPEC) today urged City Council to replace the elected City Commissioners with appointed professionals to provide the leadership necessary to modernize Philadelphia’s elections. By law, the measure would need to be signed by the Mayor and approved by City voters. The Coalition called on City Council to create a new Department of Elections administered by a professionally-accredited Election Director appointed by the Mayor, with oversight provided by an appointed, non-salaried, and bipartisan Philadelphia Board of Elections. “The problems with the Office of the City Commissioners--political maneuvering, ineffective and inattentive leadership, and a lack of accountability--have persisted for decades. We need less political and more professional leadership to make our local democracy work to its greatest potential”, said Alison Perelman, Executive Director of Philadelphia 3.0, a city reform organization and one of the leaders of the Coalition. Research into election governance and leadership in other cities and counties convinced the Coalition this proposal will position Philadelphia to achieve significant progress on six important challenges facing the local voting process: • Increase civic engagement. Our election officials must remove barriers to voter registration and increase voter turnout. This means notifying voters of elections by mail and social media, informing them of all options for participation, and being effective champions locally and in Harrisburg for election modernization. • Ensure equal access to the ballot. Our election officials must expand access to and support for voters with disabilities and those of limited English proficiency. Philadelphia has a troubling history in this regard, and in the 21st century casting a ballot can no longer be a burden for some members of our community. • Provide effective leadership to modernize elections. The men and women who lead our election process must be knowledgeable, responsive, and passionate about making democracy work. They need to bring national best practices to Philadelphia, and need to be effective advocates for Philadelphia voters with other leaders across the state for overdue updates to Pennsylvania’s election laws. • Eliminate fraud, intimidation, and corruption from the election process. Our election officials must tackle chronically problematic polling places head-on, which will require substantial improvements to poll worker training and support. • Work across government to expand impact. Because the City Commissioners are independently elected, they often don’t work in concert with other city officials. Our election officials must partner with City departments to offer voter registration opportunities, non-partisan voter education, and voting reminders as a part of service delivery. • Spend taxpayer dollars judiciously. Our election officials must spend tax dollars wisely. Other large Pennsylvania counties spend significantly less on their elections operations and produce better results. David Thornburgh, CEO, Committee of Seventy, the longstanding advocate for better government, said “The elected office of City Commissioners is an obscure artifact from the past, and has never served the people well. It’s a hidden office that costs too much—almost a half million dollars, or enough to fund Pre-K slots every year for 118 children--and it doesn’t deliver good results. Philadelphia needs professional, progressive, accountable leadership to modernize elections and lead us into the future.” The nonpartisan Coalition consists of the following organizations: Americans for Democratic Action, Asian Americans United, Committee of Seventy, Disability Rights Pennsylvania, Economy League of Greater Philadelphia, Fifth Square, Influencing Action Movement, Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition, Philadelphia 3.0, Philly Progressive Caucus, Public Interest Law Center, SEAMAAC. These are the first 12 organizations to step forward as members of the coalition, but the Coalition is expected to grow in coming weeks. In addition to Perelman and Thornburgh, speakers at the Coalition’s press conference included: • Gabe Labella, staff attorney for Disability Rights Pennsylvania, who introduced Suzanne Erb to speak about challenges faced by her blind community, including a specific instance from April 26. Suzanne read brief remarks from Stephanie Roesner on behalf of the deaf and hearing impaired community • Wei Chen, Civic Engagement Coordinator for Asian Americans United, spoke about voting challenges faced by limited English proficiency (LEP) populations • Civic engagement leader Felicia Harris spoke about voter turnout and engagement • Kobe Nabried, a Science Leadership Academy student, commented on his hopes and expectations for voting engagement and modernization for young and soon-to-be voters Dissatisfaction with the Office of the City Commissioners has been growing steadily for months. Recently, more than 1,200 citizens signed onto a Change.org petition calling for the elimination of the office, and former City Commissioner and member of City Council Marian Tasco announced her support for the proposal. For more information, and to keep up to date on the coalition’s efforts, follow the Better Philadelphia Elections Coalition on Facebook. 13. Roadmap to Reform: A new way to run elections in Philly May 4, 2016 The Committee of Seventy and 11 other civic and community organizations in the newly formed Better Philadelphia Elections Coalition proposed this morning that the long-maligned elected office of the City Commissioners be replaced by an Election Director appointed by the mayor and overseen by a bipartisan, non-salaried Board of Elections, also made up of appointees. We call on City Council to pass---and Mayor Kenney to sign--- a Charter change proposal to allow Philadelphia voters to have their say on this important question affecting their franchise. Read the full press release. As presently constituted, the office of the Commissioners is "invisible, inefficient and unable to lead," said Seventy CEO David Thornburgh. It’s one of the six Philadelphia elective "row offices" that Seventy first urged to abolish in 2009. (And we’ll take some credit for the demise of the Clerk of Quarter Sessions in 2010.) We renewed our call for a new way to run elections in January, following months of news reports about Commissioner Anthony Clark’s lax work and voting habits. And that came on the heels of snafus during the 2012 presidential election that forced more than 12,000 registered voters to cast provisional ballots in their proper polling places when their names couldn’t be found in poll books. In addition, the office "costs too much-almost a half million dollars, or enough to fund Pre-K slots every year for 118 children," Thornburgh said. "Philadelphia needs professional, progressive, accountable leadership to modernize elections and lead us into the future." Joining the Committee of Seventy in the Better Philadelphia Elections Coalition are Americans for Democratic Action (Southeastern PA Chapter), Asian Americans United, Disability Rights Pennsylvania, Economy League of Greater Philadelphia, 5th Square, Influencing Action Movement, Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition, Philadelphia 3.0 , Philadelphia Democratic Progressive Caucus, The Public Interest Law Center and SEAMAAC. 14. Better Elections Coalition Calls for End of City Commissioners and no, it isn’t just about ousting no-show Chairman Anthony Clark. BY JARED BREY | MAY 4, 2016 A new coalition of Philadelphia civic groups is calling for an end to the City Commissioners, the elected trio of officials that runs the city’s elections, and the creation of a new Department of Elections with leadership appointed by the mayor. At a press conference Wednesday morning, the coalition called on City Council to sponsor an amendment to the Home Rule Charter that would enact the change. The coalition includes some predictable organizations like the civic watchdog Committee of Seventy, the urbanist 5th Square PAC, and Philadelphia 3.0, a PAC that’s focused mostly on shaking up City Council itself. But it also includes groups like Disability Rights PA, Asian Americans United, the Public Interest Law Center, and the Southeast Asian Mutual Assistance Coalition (SEAMAAC). The initiative isn’t just about ousting no-show City Commissioner Chairman Anthony Clark, said Ali Perelman of Philadelphia 3.0. It’s about improving language access and disability access at the polls, modernizing elections, and boosting voter turnout. And it’s not just about helping people vote, but allowing them to vote independently and in private. Suzanne Erb, a blind woman who works as a secretary at Disability Rights PA, said she had to wait an hour and a half to cast her vote in private this past primary election day. The poll workers hadn’t been adequately trained to know how to quickly set up the machine for the blind and visually impaired, she said. Wei Chen of Asian Americans United said poll workers also weren’t trained well enough to work with voters who speak limited English. David Thornburgh, the president and CEO of Committee of Seventy, said Philadelphia should become “a model of civic engagement.” The current system doesn’t let even good City Commissioners — people like Al Schmidt, a Republican Commissioner who stood quietly in the back of the room for the length of the press conference — take the reins and make changes to the way elections are run, he said. The coalition is a group of people who are “not gonna tolerate the Philly Shrug.” More voices have been calling for the abolition of the City Commissioners’ office lately, including former Councilwoman Marian Tasco, who served as a Commissioner in the 1980s and says she “had nothing to do” at the time. The Better Philadelphia Elections Coalition says it landed on its remedy — an appointed Director of Elections with an appointed, bipartisan, unpaid board of elections — after researching the election operations of other cities. 15. Pressure grows to eliminate city commissioners By Claudia Vargas, Staff Writer May 05, 2016 A good government group and a political action committee have teamed up to push for the elimination of the Office of the City Commissioners, which oversees elections in Philadelphia. The Committee of Seventy and Philadelphia 3.0, a PAC created last year to influence City Council races, announced Wednesday the launch of the Better Philadelphia Elections Coalition (BPEC), a group of a dozen organizations, which is endorsing a new elections system. The coalition is calling for City Council to replace the three elected commissioners with an election director appointed by the mayor and an appointed, unpaid, bipartisan Board of Elections. "There are a variety of great ways elections are operated across Pennsylvania, but none look like ours," said Ali Perelman, executive director of Philadelphia 3.0. "It is because our problems are systemic that this coalition is advocating for a new system." Philadelphia’s commissioners serve as the city’s board of elections. The chairman is paid $138,612; the others receive $129,373. Each is allotted a staff. The office has a $9.6 million budget and 98 fulltime employees. Criticism of the commissioners heated up in January, following the reelection of Anthony Clark as chairman. Clark was known for rarely coming into his City Hall office and failing to vote in six recent elections. On Wednesday, the coalition supporting the abolition of the commissioners said the fight was about more than Clark. It said the commissioners as a group were "ineffective" and lacked accountability. The commissioners have rejected the idea that the current system is flawed. They say they are accountable to the voters who elected them. Commissioner Al Schmidt, the sole Republican on the three-member board, attended the news conference Wednesday as a spectator. "The key to good governance is electing good people," Schmidt said later. "Seventy is naive to think that political appointments aren’t political." David Thornburgh, executive director of the Committee of Seventy, said if Council agreed to abolish the Office of the City Commissioners, the change would not take effect until the current commissioners completed their terms in 2019. The coalition working with Thornburgh includes Asian Americans United and Disability Rights Pennsylvania. The call to end the commissioner posts comes on the heels of last month’s primary, which by all accounts went remarkably smoothly. Thornburgh said he did not think that was reason enough to offer the commissioners a reprieve. 16. Leading PA Disability Agencies Unite Against Damaging Messages in Hollywood Movie ‘Me Before You June 7, 2016 The Pennsylvania Developmental Disabilities Act Network, which is comprised of the Pennsylvania Developmental Disabilities Council (PADDC), Disabilities Rights Pennsylvania (DRP) and the Institute on Disabilities at Temple University, says the movie ‘Me Before You’ is a perfect example of how stigma against people with disabilities is embedded in our culture and most people don’t realize they contribute to it. The Hollywood romance movie which recently premiered in theaters all across the country and stars British actress Emilia Clarke, is about the relationship that develops between a female caretaker and a rich, good-looking man who is left paralyzed after an accident. It’s the man’s outlook on life that he would rather be dead than live as a person with a disability that is offensive, hurtful and damaging. “The idea that the character with a disability views his life as worthless, pitiful and a burden on others is sending the wrong message,” Graham Mulholland, Executive Director of PADDC, said. “The truth is that people with disabilities live fulfilling, meaningful and purposeful lives. There are thousands of people living with disabilities that choose to prosper, fight and live life to the fullest.” Through its three Pennsylvania agencies, the Pennsylvania Developmental Disabilities Act Network was established under federal law to provide advocacy, systems change and capacity building for people with developmental disabilities. Representatives say the movie perpetuates harmful, stigmatizing stereotypes. “We are proud to unite with other disability organizations across Pennsylvania to take a strong stand against this mainstream stigma that has a negative impact on people with disabilities and our society as a whole,” Celia Feinstein, Co-Executive Director of the Institute on Disabilities, Temple University, said. “We must all join forces to end stigma. We are committed and dedicated to this challenging task and encourage others to rethink seeing this movie.” For more information regarding this press release or the Stigma Project which was launched in April to help end the stigma against people with disabilities in Pennsylvania, please contact Karen Gross at Karen@suasion.us or via phone at 717-432-2468. 17. Disability advocates, service providers rally for more funding By Carley Mossbrook June 06, 2016 As the General Assembly looks to balance the 2016-17 budget this month, hundreds of disability advocates rallied at the Capitol on Monday to ask for more help in the coming year. Members of the Pa. House Autism and Intellectual Disability Caucus hosted the 2016 Disability Funding Rally in partnership with 12 non-profit organizations, including The Arc of Pa., Disability Rights Pennsylvania and Vision for Equality, to call for an increase in funding for the state’s disability services and increased wages for service providers. "There are a lot of people in the disability community who are looking for hope and who are looking for opportunity," said Rep. Dan Miller, D-Allegheny County, co-chair of the caucus. "And that’s what this caucus is all about." New funding for the community would boost a number of services, including employment placement programs, medical and housing assistance and educational programs, among others. Winnie McHale, 62, of Palmyra, is one many who hopes the legislators’ words will come to fruition. For 21 years, McHale has cared for her son Tommy who has autism, while she herself is disabled. As time passes and her health declines, she fears what will happen to Tommy when she is no longer around to care for him and hopes that state funding will help guarantee him care. Others, like Francie Keeny, 62, of Mechanicsburg, came to tell legislators how funding allowed her to live a fuller life and to ask them to give others a chance at the same opportunities. Keeny was born with cerebral palsy and has been bound to a wheelchair for much of her life. For many years, she had no prospect of finding a job or living on her own, she said. "Now, I have an apartment with staff to help me. I have a real job... I rescued a cat... I’m very involved in my church and I volunteer in my vet’s clinic," said Kaye Lenker, who aided Keeny in reading her script. "If I did not get services in the community, I could not do any of these things. I would either be in an institution or I would be dead." Keeny said she came to the Capitol to be a voice for her friends and other disabled persons who are often ignored and have not received benefits due to cuts in funding. "There are lots of people like me... Don’t let them live in institutions or die," she said. "We must fully fund services and support for people with disabilities." Tom Murt, R-Montgomery County, a life-long advocate for disability services, criticized past cuts to funding and made a plea to the audience to contact their legislators to ask for more funding before the budge season kicks into gear. "We will not accept a budget that is balanced by cutting programs and services for the very people whose lives has blossomed under these programs," he said. 18. Meet the Philly locals speaking at the DNC JULY 19, 2016 By Julia Terruso,
Count individual once per FY. Multiple counts not permitted for lines A1 through A3.
|1. Individuals still served as of October 1 (carryover from prior FY)||26|
|2. Additional individuals served during the year||407|
|3. Total individuals served (lines A1 + A2)||433|
|4. Individuals w. more than 1 case opened/closed during the FY. (Do not add this number to total on line A3 above.)||10|
Carryover to next FY may not exceed total on line II. A.3 above 27
|1. Architectural accessibility||23|
|3. Program access||27|
|5. Government benefits/services||84|
|8. Assistive technology||3|
|10. Health care||22|
|12. Non-government services||22|
|13. Privacy rights||1|
|14. Access to records||0|
|1. Issues resolved partially or completely in individual favor||298|
|2. Other representation found||64|
|3. Individual withdrew complaint||23|
|4. Appeals unsuccessful||2|
|5. PAIR Services not needed due to individual's death, relocation etc.||1|
|6. PAIR withdrew from case||3|
|7. PAIR unable to take case because of lack of resources||4|
|8. Individual case lacks legal merit||16|
9. Other - Advice only was provided
List the highest level of intervention used by PAIR prior to closing each case file.
|1. Technical assistance in self-advocacy||304|
|2. Short-term assistance||103|
|5. Mediation/alternative dispute resolution||0|
|6. Administrative hearings||0|
|7. Litigation (including class actions)||8|
|8. Systemic/policy activities||0|
|1. 0 - 4||0|
|2. 5 - 22||39|
|3. 23 - 59||280|
|4. 60 - 64||54|
|5. 65 and over||60|
Multiple responses not permitted.
|1. Hispanic/Latino of any race||12|
|2. American Indian or Alaskan Native||0|
|4. Black or African American||91|
|5. Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander||0|
|7. Two or more races||2|
|8. Race/ethnicity unknown||13|
Multiple responses not permitted.
|2. Parental or other family home||120|
|3. Community residential home||0|
|4. Foster care||0|
|5. Nursing home||15|
|6. Public institutional living arrangement||0|
|7. Private institutional living arrangement||3|
|8. Jail/prison/detention center||21|
|10. Other living arrangements||4|
|11. Living arrangements not known||0|
Identify the individual's primary disability, namely the one directly related to the issues/complaints
|1. Blind/visual impairment||32|
|2. Deaf/hard of hearing||28|
|4. Orthopedic impairment||153|
|5. Mental illness||6|
|6. Substance abuse||1|
|7. Mental retardation||2|
|8. Learning disability||19|
|9. Neurological impairment||70|
|10. Respiratory impairment||13|
|11. Heart/other circulatory impairment||29|
|12. Muscular/skeletal impairment||35|
|13. Speech impairment||1|
|15. Traumatic brain injury||4|
|16. Other disability||35|
|1. Number of policies/practices changed as a result of non-litigation systemic activities||6|
|2. Number of individuals potentially impacted by policy changes||156,150|
Describe your systemic activities. Be sure to include information about the policies that were changed and how these changes benefit individuals with disabilities. Include case examples of how your systemic activities impacted individuals served.
1. DRP continued working collaboratively with the statewide, cross-disability Adult Protective Services (APS) Coalition and with the Department of Human Services (DHS) and Liberty Healthcare (APS agency) to monitor the implementation of Adult Protective Services (APS) statewide. DRP worked with other members of the APS regulation workgroup to assist DHS and Liberty Healthcare to draft APS regulations, which will then be finalized by DHS Legal office and released to the public for comment. DRP, along with other APS Coalition members, met with DHS and Liberty Healthcare to discuss policy and operations concerns and to get a status update of the regulations. DRP addressed concerns regarding APS handling of adults who refuse protective services and how that affects their right to risk, their safety, and investigation of their case. DHS’s view was that the law requires an investigation even when the person refuses APS services, which may include a follow-up contact with the reporter, the adult reported to be in need of APS, collateral witnesses, and reviewing of the adult’s confidential records. DRP strongly argued that DHS and Liberty should respect the adults’ right to risk and that overriding the adult’s wishes could potentially place the adult’s safety at greater risk and that the law provides for the agency to petition the court for emergency services when an adult refuses and the investigator has determined that there is need for APS. DRP also advocated for adults subject to investigation to be provided with a packet of information to advise them of their right to refuse services and a listing of organizations that can help them exercise their rights. DRP also met with DHS’ Adult Protective Services (APS) Division Director and Liberty Healthcare’s APS Statewide Manager to discuss complaints DRP had received about APS investigators using their authority to access the medical and financial records of adults reported to be in need of APS without their knowledge, consent or a court order. This is a violation of the APS law designed to protect an adult’s right to confidentiality and refuse APS. DRP discovered that APS investigators had been trained to routinely access this information regardless of whether an investigator, after initiating an investigation, had determined the report unsubstantiated or in a category of “no need”. DRP demanded investigators stop this practice and follow the provisions of the law to access records — by consent or court order. DHS and Liberty responded by drafting an APS Release of Information guidance document for investigators to which DRP staff provided comments. The final document aligned with the rights protection provisions of the APS law. Many of our recommendations to correct and improve the document were accepted, including removing requests for SS numbers, allowing for an adult to revoke consent at any time in writing or orally, and adding language that explicitly informs the investigator of an adult’s right to refuse consent. DRP staff applied for membership to the APS Advisory Board. 2. DRP achieved a significant victory in its complaint filed with PDE’s Division of Compliance on behalf of the Coalition of Special Education Advocates challenging the Philadelphia School District’s failure to assure that students with disabilities receive transportation as a related service. PDE determined that the school district violated the rights of students with disabilities by failing to provide consistent, on-time transportation. PDE directed that the school district provide compensatory education to students harmed as a result of this systemic violation. PDE issued its final report indicating its full compliance with the ordered remedy. 3. DRP participates with a number of groups (including, Education Law Center, Juvenile Law Center, Drexel University, Temple’s Institute on Disabilities, AHEDD, and the Arc of Philadelphia) in the Philadelphia Transition Coordinating Council to facilitate the successful movement of children with disabilities to adult life. 4. DRP continues to work with a coalition to support visitability in Philadelphia, i.e., minimum accessibility standards for newly constructed housing. We are working on education efforts to inform people about the importance of meeting visitability requirements. 5. DRP continues to participate in the Community First Choice Option Coalition of Liberty Resources Center for Independent Living to advocate for a Community First Option that would provide for Personal Assistance Services under the State Medicaid Plan rather than through a Medicaid waiver program, meaning that there would be no waiting lists for services. 6. DRP continues to actively participate in the PDSS Coalition led by the Institute on Disabilities at Temple University. The Coalition is engaging in a demonstration project, research, and systemic advocacy. DRP has been providing ongoing legal technical assistance on a variety of issues. 7. DRP staff participated in meetings with staff of the CIL of Central Pennsylvania in connection with the CIL’s Action Day Campaign to document inaccessibility and barriers in Harrisburg, including curb ramps, parking, and private businesses in the Capitol area. The CIL wrote a letter to the city, which we reviewed, requesting a meeting. The city agreed to meet. As a result of the meeting, the city agreed to work with the CIL to address the accessibility issues it raised and DRP will continue to consult with the CIL about the City’s plans to address accessibility barriers. 8. DRP staff continued to collaborate with Abilities in Motion (Berks County CIL) to obtain the City of Reading’s compliance with removing accessibility barriers, including the installation of ADA compliant curb ramps and making ADA accessibility improvements to local government buildings and facilities. 9. DRP staff continued to collaborate with staff from the Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services (BBVS) and the Center for Independent Living of Central PA to identify and remove barriers to receipt of such services and assist individuals who are Deaf-Blind to obtain SSP services. 10. DRP staff participated in an employment focus group hosted by DHS’s Office of Long Term Living to address how supports coordinators can include employment in consumers’ service plans. DRP staff also participated in the Association of Providers of Supported Employment’s Employment First Summit to discuss with DHS, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE), and the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) how to implement Employment First in Pennsylvania. 11. DRP Staff continues to advocate for a comprehensive Olmstead plan. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania still does not have an Olmstead plan. We will continue to pursue an Olmstead plan with the new administration to see if there is any indication of a willingness to develop such a plan. 12. DRP previously conducted site visits at five Warren County schools after receiving complaints about the inappropriate use of restraints and padded “calming” rooms for children in crisis. DRP requested, received, and reviewed records of certain students pursuant to family members’ authorizations. DRP sent a letter to the Warren County school district and requested that the school district provide us with certain information by August 2016, including: confirmation that PDE approved the use of the calming rooms; whether the district properly informed parents about use of the calming rooms and received their consent; data collected by the district concerning whether the rooms are used to address behavior and not as punishment; and photographs to show that a lock on the door of one of the rooms has been removed and that the padding was repaired. The school district provided most of the information we requested. 13. DRP conducted a monitoring visit at the Widener Memorial School (WMS), a segregated school for about 150 Philadelphia public school students between kindergarten and 12th grade. Following our visit, DRP submitted written recommendations, including improving academic programming for high school students in science, math, and foreign languages; providing assistive technology evaluations for students who cannot speak; and improving transition services. We also will review the records of the students who do not have IEPs and only have Section 504 plans. The school district agreed to assure that the school had funds to hire science and social studies teachers beginning in the next school year. DRP’s next step is to conduct a records review at WMS encompassing records of students who do not have IEPs and only have Section 504 plans. 14. DRP staff attended a public meeting in Philadelphia concerning implementation of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s regulations concerning municipalities’ obligations to affirmatively further fair housing. DRP continues to advocate that HUD take steps to assure that individuals with disabilities have access to affordable, accessible housing. 15. DRP staff drafted and submitted comments to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on its proposal to amend its Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8) to encourage people to use their vouchers in more integrated “areas of opportunity.” Although supportive of the idea in principal, we urged HUD to establish safeguards to assure that the policy change would not inadvertently force individuals with disabilities to leave accessible apartments. 16. DRP staff participated in several meetings that were held across the state by the Statewide Independent Living Council to seek input on their proposed Statewide Plan for Independent Living (SPIL). DRP provided input on the plan and supported the comments of attendees focused on the problems of transportation and inadequate community services for people with disabilities. 17. DRP staff participated in the Department of Aging, Community Adult Respite Services (CARS) work group. The intention of this group is to advise the Department of Aging regarding updates for the Older Adult Living Centers (OALC) regulations that have not been updated since being promulgated in1993. As part of this update, the intention is to add a chapter to the OALC regulations on CARS to define and codify this service. DRP staff attended several meetings and advocated that all proposed regulations be consumer/user friendly and conform to all applicable ADA standards. 18. DRP continued to advocate on behalf of participants in the Act 150 program whose agency-hired attendants are no longer permitted to perform intermittent catheterization based on directives from the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH). DOH contends that under state law only nurses can perform intermittent catheterizations. We continue to have discussions with DHS, advising them that DOH’s interpretation does not comport with state law and urging them to assure that the direct care staff for our clients and others similarly situated can continue to perform intermittent catheterization. DRP has also discussed the Commonwealth’s proposed demonstration project that would enable direct care staff to perform intermittent catheterization. DRP continues to work with DHS to assure that our individual clients’ needs are met and to develop a systemic resolution. 19. DRP staff continue to monitor and address DHS’s Community Health Choices (CHC) proposal to provide long term care services (including nursing facility services and home and community-based services currently provided through Medical Assistance waivers) through a mandatory managed care system. DRP submitted comments on the MLTSS Concept Paper in October outlining concerns and providing feedback on needed improvements. In October, DRP met with CMS as part of a consumer coalition (Pennsylvania Health Law Project, CARIE — Center for Advocacy for the Rights and Interests of the Elderly, Community Legal Services, Pennsylvania Health Access Network, and DRP). There, too, DRP raised concerns about MLTSS and the rapid timeline with lack of meaningful input. In November, DRP met with Centene, a managed care company, to gain valuable information about how such companies operate MLTSS. DRP submitted its own comments on the draft RFP/program requirements. DRP raised consumer rights and protections, the need for independent assessments, the need to serve transition-age youth, and other issues. DRP submitted additional comments in January on the draft agreement with the MCOs. DRP spearheaded a coalition of disability organizations and sent a letter to the Department of Human Services outlining our concerns about the proposed age limit in the Community Health Choices Program. The original Community Health Choices proposal covered individuals over the age of 21, with 18 to 21 year olds being covered by Early and Periodic Screening and Diagnostic Testing (EPSDT) services. DRP’s letter outlined concerns that services such as home and vehicle modifications, residential habilitation, and respite services would not be covered by EPSDT. After meeting with DHS, the Department agreed to cover 18 to 21 year olds needing these services under the OBRA waiver. DRP staff continue to organize and participate in consumer preparation calls prior to the MLTSS Sub-Committee meetings so consumers can be better prepared to discuss CHC and share their concerns about implementation. DRP also submitted comments on the CMS waiver applications circulated by DHS. DRP wrote separately to DHS to express our significant concerns about the waiver’s provision that would prohibit the provision of nursing services simultaneously with residential habilitation, which will limit the ability of medically fragile individuals to live in the community. We met with DHS officials in June about this issue and, although we were unable to reach agreement, we agreed to continue discussing the issue. Also at that meeting, DHS officials agreed with our position that all nursing facility residents should be considered “appropriate” for community services and that the CHC documents suggesting that Supports Coordinators assess residents to determine if they are appropriate should be clarified. DHS announced that it will be postponing implementation of the program by 6 months until July, 2017. DRP continues to participate in conference calls with OLTL officials and others about several outstanding issues of concern, including whether nursing services will be authorized for individuals receiving residential habilitation; whether to allow guardians, representative payees, and individuals holding powers of attorney to be paid as providers; and due process issues when individuals are not allowed to seek services by the supports coordinators. Though no resolution was reached, DRP continues to advocate to assure that our clients’ voices are heard. DRP staff also continues to collaborate with disability stakeholders, including the SILC, in monitoring the implementation of CHC. 20. The Philadelphia Parking Authority (PPA) previously proposed regulations to require that each retired Philadelphia taxi be replaced by an accessible taxi, which would result in 100 percent accessibility within about eight years. We supported that proposal, but the Independent Regulatory Review Commission ruled that the regulations must go through the Legislature. The PPA held another hearing on this issue and provided an opportunity for public comments. DRP submitted comments again supporting the proposed regulations. 21. DRP successfully intervened on behalf of a deaf prisoner in Allegheny County Jail who contacted DRP about his inability to access ASL interpreting services during his incarceration (including meetings with his court-appointed counsel) and during court hearings. After we contacted the Allegheny County Courts’ ADA Coordinator and the County Solicitor’s Office, the Allegheny County Jail entered into a contract with an ASL interpreting service provider and agreed to develop a process by which our client and all deaf prisoners can request and secure timely ASL interpreting services. The new ASL interpreting services provider will create an orientation video for new deaf prisoners explaining how they can request ASL interpreting services. In addition, the Solicitor and ADA Coordinator agreed to assure that our client and all deaf prisoners will have ASL interpreters for meetings with their public defenders and court hearings. 22. DRP has been communicating with the Philadelphia Parking Authority (PPA) about two issues relating to accessible parking in Philadelphia. First, we are advocating that the PPA change its policy to grant reserved parking spaces only to adults who have vehicles registered in their name. This prevents adults with disabilities who do not drive but who rely on others to transport them from having designated spaces near their homes that can be used by their aides or family who transport them. PPA claims that individuals would be able to prevail if they filed administrative appeals of the denials, but doing so is cumbersome and the information on the PPA’s website is inconsistent with that assertion. Second, we raised the issue of whether the City would grant residential parking permits (that restrict street parking to residents) to aides of people with disabilities so that they can take care of their clients. PPA indicated that it is the City’s policy so we will be communicating with the City about it. 23. DRP staff advocated for accessibility improvements at Shippensburg University after encountering physical barriers in an auditorium when they were invited to speak at an event. DRP consulted with a professor at the University who agreed to undertake a comprehensive accessibility survey of larger spaces at the university and wrote to the university president detailing her findings. The professor advised DRP that the university is scheduled to discuss the accessibility findings/issues at their next ADA committee meeting.
|1. Number of individuals potentially impacted by changes as a result of PAIR litigation/class action efforts||190,722|
|2. Number of individuals named in class actions||6|
Describe your litigation/class action activities. Explain how individuals with disabilities benefited from your litigation activities. Be sure to include case examples that demonstrate the impact of your litigation.
1. Fair Housing Council of Suburban Philadelphia v. Wagner Enterprises, Ltd. (E.D. Pa.) — DRP entered into a comprehensive settlement agreement with Defendants to resolve this Fair Housing Act (FHA) lawsuit that challenged a developer’s violation of the FHA’s accessibility requirements for newly-constructed condominiums in Northampton County. Under the agreement, the defendant will: (1) retrofit curb ramps and a sidewalk in the development that did not meet FHA guidelines so that there are accessible routes to the common areas; (2) lower mail boxes within reach range; (3) make accessible the entrances, interior doorways, and thermostats in the four units it owns; and (4) provide notice to owners of other units offering the opportunity to make accessibility modifications for up to five additional units. DRP is monitoring implementation of the settlement agreement as construction work has begun on the accessibility improvements that will provide increased access for current or prospective owners with disabilities. 2. Oliver v. Scranton Materials, Inc. (M.D. Pa.) — DRP successfully settled this ADA employment discrimination case filed on behalf of a woman who developed asthma, carpal tunnel, and lumbar stenosis as a result of a complicated pregnancy with triplets and whose employer fired her when she requested an additional month of leave time due to her disabilities. After the court rejected the employer’s summary judgment motion last quarter, the case was assigned to a Magistrate Judge for a settlement conference. At that conference, the parties agreed to a confidential resolution acceptable to our client. 3. McGann v. Cinemark USA (W.D. Pa. & 3d Cir.) — After holding a hearing on the merits, the trial court ruled in favor of the defendant movie theater in this Title III ADA case filed on behalf of a man who is deafblind to challenge the defendant’s refusal to provide him with a tactile interpreter. The court concluded that the theater is not required to provide tactile interpretation because it is not an auxiliary aid or service and because it would alter the content of the movies. DRP appealed that ruling and the parties completed briefing on the appeal. Notably, the United States Department of Justice filed an amicus brief in support of our client’s position, urging reversal of the trial court’s decision. 4. Harper v. 118-122 Market Street Corp. (E.D. Pa.) — DRP finalized a settlement agreement to resolve this Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) lawsuit challenging the failure of a Philadelphia restaurant and the owner of a building in which it is located to remove a one-step barrier to entry. The agreement requires the defendants to install a ramp which will now ensure equal access to its restaurant for people who use wheelchairs. 5. Farria v. Smak Parlour, Inc. (E.D. Pa.) — DRP is monitoring implementation of the settlement agreement in this Title III ADA lawsuit against a women’s boutique in Center City Philadelphia, requiring the defendants to install a ramp at the entrance which will now ensure equal access to its goods and services for people who use wheelchairs. 6. Keller v. City of Lancaster (E.D. Pa.) — DRP continues to monitor implementation of the supplemental settlement agreement in this ADA lawsuit that challenged Lancaster’s non-compliance with curb ramp requirements. The supplemental settlement imposes a timetable for Lancaster to retrofit 700 non-compliant curb ramps to meet ADA requirements by 2022. DRP expects to receive a status report in early 2017 that will provide information on whether Lancaster met its obligation to retrofit 280 curb ramps by the end of 2016. The retrofitting of these additional 700 curb ramps will significantly increase community access and independent living for people with mobility impairments. 7. Mosley v. Dallas (E.D. Pa.) — DRP continues to monitor the settlement agreement and addendum to the settlement agreement to assure procedural due process protections for individuals who apply for the Attendant Care Waiver, COMMCARE Waiver, Independence Waiver, and OBRA Waiver (OLTL Waivers). Under the initial settlement, DHS is required to make eligibility determinations for the OLTL Waivers within 90 days of the application. DHS has reached the settlement’s benchmark for compliance with this requirement. DHS has also implemented the addendum to the settlement agreement by using revised forms to provide denial notices. DHS also complied with the addendum’s provision to modify its approval notices to advise individuals about how they can request transfers to other waivers. DHS is working to resolve one remaining issue. 8. Fair Housing Rights Center of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Post Goldtex GP, LLC (E.D. Pa. & 3d Cir.) — DRP appealed the district court’s dismissal of this lawsuit challenging the failure of the architect and developer of the Goldtex Apartments to comply with the FHA’s accessibility requirements. The Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of our client’s FHA claims against the architect and developer of an apartment building for failure to comply with the FHA’s accessibility requirements. The court ruled that the FHA’s accessibility requirements did not apply to the apartment building because it is was a “conversion” of a non-residential building constructed prior to the FHA’s 1991 effective date to dwellings constructed after the effective date. 10. Fair Housing Rights Center of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Morgan Properties, Inc., et al. (E.D. Pa.) — DRP is co-counsel in this lawsuit which was filed against Morgan Properties Management Company, LLC, KBF Associates, and Montgomery Woods Owner LLC for violating the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f) and Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, 43 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 955 (h) by refusing to provide reasonable accommodations in their rent payment procedures to tenants with disabilities who receive their Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) checks after the rent due date.
For each of your PAIR program priorities for the fiscal year covered by this report, please:
Priority I 1. Priority: Protect and advocate for people with disabilities who are subject to abuse and neglect. 2. Need Addressed: Individuals residing in institutions and in community settings are at risk of being abused and neglected, and of having their rights violated. 3. Indicators: A. Incidents of abuse or neglect and rights violations will be responded to using technical assistance, follow-up, monitoring, investigation, and/or litigation. B. Improve, expand, and monitor systems for reporting, investigating and responding to abuse in state-licensed facilities and unlicensed residential facilities. C. Work to ensure the appropriate implementation of an Adult Protective Services System in Pennsylvania for persons aged 18-59. D. Advocate for the implementation of regulations and policies that protect persons with disabilities living in personal care homes and assisted living facilities. E. In all cases of systemic incidents of abuse, neglect, and rights violations in licensed facilities, PAIR had no challenges to our authority to access facilities, residents, and/or their records. 4. Collaborations: DRP continued working collaboratively with the statewide, cross-disability Adult Protective Services (APS) Coalition and with the Department of Human Services (DHS) and Liberty Healthcare (APS agency) to monitor the implementation of Adult Protective Services (APS) statewide. DRP worked with other members of the APS regulation workgroup to assist DHS and Liberty Healthcare to draft APS regulations, which will then be finalized by DHS Legal office and released to the public for comment. DRP, along with other APS Coalition members, met with DHS and Liberty Healthcare to discuss policy and operations concerns and to get a status update of the regulations. DRP addressed concerns regarding APS handling of adults who refuse protective services and how that affects their right to risk, their safety, and investigation of their case. DHS’s view was that the law requires an investigation even when the person refuses APS services, which may include a follow-up contact with the reporter, the adult reported to be in need of APS, collateral witnesses, and reviewing of the adult’s confidential records. DRP strongly argued that DHS and Liberty should respect the adults’ right to risk and that overriding the adult’s wishes could potentially place the adult’s safety at greater risk and that the law provides for the agency to petition the court for emergency services when an adult refuses and the investigator has determined that there is need for APS. DRP also advocated for adults subject to investigation to be provided with a packet of information to advise them of their right to refuse services and a listing of organizations that can help them exercise their rights. DRP also met with DHS’ Adult Protective Services (APS) Division Director and Liberty Healthcare’s APS Statewide Manager to discuss complaints DRP had received about APS investigators using their authority to access the medical and financial records of adults reported to be in need of APS without their knowledge, consent or a court order. This is a violation of the APS law designed to protect an adult’s right to confidentiality and refuse APS. DRP discovered that APS investigators had been trained to routinely access this information regardless of whether an investigator, after initiating an investigation, had determined the report unsubstantiated or in a category of “no need”. DRP demanded investigators stop this practice and follow the provisions of the law to access records — by consent or court order. DHS and Liberty responded by drafting an APS Release of Information guidance document for investigators to which DRP staff provided comments. The final document aligned with the rights protection provisions of the APS law. Many of our recommendations to correct and improve the document were accepted, including removing requests for SS numbers, allowing for an adult to revoke consent at any time in writing or orally, and adding language that explicitly informs the investigator of an adult’s right to refuse consent. DRP staff applied for membership to the APS Advisory Board. 5. Number of Cases: Cases: 17. Class action: 0 6. Case summaries: DRP staff provided technical assistance in self-advocacy to an individual whose 94-year-old mother was in a nursing home. The son expressed concerns about the quality of care being provided to his mother. With DRP’s advocacy assistance, the son successfully requested, reviewed, and commented on the client’s Care Plan and was later successful in having his mother discharged back to her own apartment with community-based services provided. Priority II 1. Priority: Eliminate institutionalization and segregation of people with disabilities. 2. Need Addressed: Integration is preferred and too often people with disabilities are put in or directed to institutional settings. Changing the attitudes of policy makers, involvement of persons with disabilities in the design and implementation of services, and rebalancing appropriation of funding is necessary to achieve integration. 3. Indicators: A. Advocate for community alternatives for persons institutionalized or at risk of institutionalization. B. Limit the growth of Medicaid funding for congregate care. C. Develop plans for community integration. 4. Collaborations: DRP participates with a number of groups (including, Education Law Center, Juvenile Law Center, Drexel University, Temple’s Institute on Disabilities, AHEDD, and the Arc of Philadelphia) in the Philadelphia Transition Coordinating Council to facilitate the successful movement of children with disabilities to adult life. DRP is working with the Education Law Center and Juvenile Law Center to develop materials for the transition of youth in foster care and facilities. DRP worked with the PEAL Center and others to design and deliver to PDE a workshop to assist families to better understand the IDEA’s evaluation and reevaluation processes. The workshop was finalized and a DRP attorney will be using the model to conduct a presentation for Spanish-speaking families. DRP continues to work with a coalition to support visitability in Philadelphia, i.e., minimum accessibility standards for newly constructed housing. We are working on education efforts to inform people about the importance of meeting visitability requirements. The Community First Choice Option (CFCO) is an Affordable Care Act option for states. CFCO would provide for Personal Assistance Services under the State Medicaid Plan rather than through a Medicaid waiver program, meaning that there would be no waiting lists for services. DRP continues to advocate as a part of the CFCO Coalition of Liberty Resources Center for Independent Living. 5. Number of Cases: Cases: 86. Class Action: 0 6. Case Summaries: DRP staff assisted a client with physical disabilities who is unable to walk long distances and lives in a private apartment complex with a Section 8 voucher. In 2011 her request for an accessible parking space to be created was granted, allowing her to park in her apartment building’s parking lot. This was an effective accommodation for 5 years until recently, when a tenant moved in who also has a placard and needs a reserved space. Client made verbal requests for another spot to be designated which were denied by the property manager. DRP staff provided counsel to client regarding the FHA requirements for reasonable accommodations and provided technical assistance to client to enable her to advocate for a new accommodation and advised her of her rights with HUD/PHRC. Priority III 1. Priority: Promote an array of quality consumer-controlled, consumer-driven, person-centered, and recovery-oriented services to enable people with disabilities to live and thrive in their own homes, schools, workplaces, and communities. 2. Need addressed: People want to live in their homes and communities. In order to do so, they need state-funded services and supports. Especially in tight budget times, and given competition with institutions, it’s critical to engage in focused budget advocacy. People with disabilities need to lead in the designing of service delivery systems, and have control over the provision and implementation to ensure satisfaction and full community inclusion. 3. Indicators: A. Advocate for consumer control and direction in the delivery of services, including the development of participant-directed services across all ages and all disabilities. B. End waiting lists for and other barriers to community services for people with intellectual and other disabilities who are unserved or underserved. C. Assure access to Medicaid services. D. Advocate to assure implementation of Affordable Care Act to support persons with disabilities. E. Identify and work with unserved and underserved communities. 4. Collaborations: DRP achieved a significant victory in its complaint filed with PDE’s Division of Compliance on behalf of the Coalition of Special Education Advocates challenging the Philadelphia School District’s failure to assure that students with disabilities receive transportation as a related service. PDE determined that the school district violated the rights of students with disabilities by failing to provide consistent, on-time transportation. PDE directed that the school district provide compensatory education to students harmed as a result of this systemic violation. PDE issued its final report indicating its full compliance with the ordered remedy. DRP staff who had previously served on the Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC) as vice chair was promoted to chair. DRP staff participated in four quarterly meetings of the SILC. DRP staff along with the SILC actively worked to develop a plan to ensure that individuals with disabilities living in Allegheny, Westmoreland, and Armstrong Counties were still able to access appropriate services after the closure of the Three Rivers Center for Independent Living in Pittsburgh. The SILC also focused on monitoring the implementation of Community Health Choices (CHC), Pennsylvania’s plan to implement managed care for long term services and supports. At one SILC meeting, staff from the Office of Long Term Living, provided a presentation regarding the implementation of CHC. OLTL staff discussed the services that would be provided and also mentioned how there would be a six-month continuation of care window during which individuals would continue to receive their service coordination and other services through their current providers before determining any changes in providers, which was an issue of concern to SILC members. The SILC agreed to continue to monitor the implementation of CHC and provide input on CHC to ensure that individuals continue to receive the same (or higher) quality and amount of services to enable them to live in the community. DRP continues to participate in meetings of PA Cares (Pennsylvania Americans showing Compassion, Assistance and Reaching out with Empathy for Service members) to share information pertinent to civilian community based services for individuals with TBI and to request connection to events where DRP could share this information. A DRP advocate who has participated in PA CARES meetings for many years and has been able to increase awareness of disability issues and services through participation in these meetings was awarded a Certificate of Appreciation for her efforts and service to the group. DRP continues to actively participate in the PDSS Coalition led by the Institute on Disabilities at Temple University. The Coalition is engaging in a demonstration project, research, and systemic advocacy. DRP has been providing ongoing legal technical assistance on a variety of issues. 5. Number of Cases: Cases: 96. Class action: 0 6. Case Summaries: DRP staff advocated for a client who is a veteran with physical disabilities in assisting him with reporting accessibility barriers at a clinic to the Berks County Veterans Services office. With client’s permission, an email without his identifying information was sent to the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, who immediately forwarded his concerns to the Berks County Veterans Service Office. The Berks County Director wanted this veteran to know that his concerns were being addressed and also asked that his contact information be given to the veteran so the veteran could contact him as a way to ensure he was receiving all of the benefits to which he was entitled. Priority IV 1. Priority: Eliminate discrimination on the basis of disability. 2. Need Addressed: Laws protecting equal access by people with disabilities are not always enforced; and are not always known by attorneys and people with disabilities. Education, self-advocacy and rights training, and enforcement are needed. 3. Indicators: A. Ensure access to government and public services and public accommodations. B. Promote and expand employment of persons with disabilities. C. Assure that persons with disabilities have equal opportunity to vote. D. Promote accessible transportation. 4. Collaborations: A DRP attorney participated in a meeting with staff of the CIL of Central Pennsylvania in connection with the CIL’s Action Day Campaign to document inaccessibility and barriers in Harrisburg, including curb ramps, parking, and private businesses in the Capitol area. The CIL wrote a letter to the city, which we reviewed, requesting a meeting. The city agreed to meet. As a result of the meeting, the city agreed to work with the CIL to address the accessibility issues it raised and DRP will continue to consult with the CIL about the City’s plans to address accessibility barriers. DRP staff continued to collaborate with Abilities in Motion (Berks County CIL) to obtain the City of Reading’s compliance with removing accessibility barriers, including the installation of ADA compliant curb ramps and making ADA accessibility improvements to local government buildings and facilities. DRP staff continued to participate in meetings of the City of Pittsburgh/Allegheny County Disabilities Task force. The task force is looking at new developments in the city of Pittsburgh regarding the installation of bike lanes. It is illegal to park in the bike lanes and several of them have upright markers that separate them from the flow of traffic. The task force is concerned that this will impede the ability of individuals with mobility limitations to access the sidewalk and make it difficult for paratransit vehicles to access the curbs where they will pickup and drop-off individuals. As a result of the task force’s advocacy, the city has passed a clarification that allows paratransit vehicles to park at the curbside blocking the bike lanes for a period of 15 minutes or less in order to allow writers to get in, or out of the vehicle. The Task Force also looked at the accessibility of parks all around Allegheny County. The Parks and Recreation staff made a presentation about progress in accessibility. Task Force members made it clear that the progress was appreciated but there was much more work to be done. Additionally, the city of Pittsburgh created new bike lanes which are an impediment to sidewalk access for people with disabilities. The task force also advocated to the city on the necessity of all polling places being accessible. Although the city maintains that 100% of all polling places within city limits are accessible, task force members were able to point out at least 5 inaccessible polling places. DRP staff continued to collaborate with staff from the Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services (BBVS) and the Center for Independent Living of Central PA to identify and remove barriers to receipt of such services and assist individuals who are Deaf-Blind to obtain SSP services. DRP continued to collaborate with the Department of Corrections to address communications access issues at SCI-Graterford. DOC previously made some improvements, including installing a new TTY, and DRP successfully advocated for the installation of a videophone, which DOC installed and has now been successfully used by inmates. As part of a national effort facilitated by NDRP to investigate state-operated segregated vocational rehabilitation facilities, DRP received information through Right to Know Request about OVR’s use of the Hiram G. Andrews Center to provide services. NDRP is waiting for other states to access similar information and then the group will consider next steps. DRP staff participated in an employment focus group hosted by DHS’s Office of Long Term Living to address how supports coordinators can include employment in consumers’ service plans. DRP staff also participated in the Association of Providers of Supported Employment’s Employment First Summit to discuss with DHS, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE), and the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) how to implement Employment First in Pennsylvania. DRP continued to advocate for increased quality of employment services provided to people with disabilities through the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation by participating in meetings of Pa Rehab Council. DRP was alerted by some of its partners in a voting coalition of a debate watching event open to the public in Philadelphia. When DRP learned that the event would be held in a location that was not accessible to people with mobility disabilities, DRP persuaded the planners to relocate the event to an accessible site where people with disabilities can attend. DRP staff met with officials from Amtrak and PennDot to discuss their plans for improving accessibility of stations served by the Keystone Line. They expect to complete accessibility modifications, including high-level platforms, within five years on stations between Philadelphia and Harrisburg, including Harrisburg, Mt. Joy, Middletown, Ardmore, and Downingtown, and then will focus on stations west of Harrisburg. DRP staff participates in the Transportation Alliance to assure access to transportation for people with disabilities. After meeting with representatives of Capitol Area Transit (CAT) to discuss complaints about paratransit late pickups and no-shows, CAT created a shared-ride advisory committee to monitor and address issues. DRP participated in meetings of that advisory committee to ensure that are improvements are made to CAT’s paratransit service and ensure people with disabilities’ access to transportation. 5. Number of Cases: Cases: 219. Class action: 0 6. Case Summaries: DRP successfully intervened on behalf of an Allegheny County woman who is deaf, after the school district in which her child is enrolled refused to provide her with sign language interpreters for an open house and for the school play in which her child was performing. The school district agreed to assure that our client had access to sign language interpreters in accordance with the ADA and RA and DRP also worked to assure that an appropriate communications plan is in place at the high school that the student will be attending beginning this fall. DRP assisted a client with a hearing impairment who works at the County Jail, to file an EEOC complaint alleging employment discrimination. He requested a reasonable accommodation to allow him to work only in the central pod of the jail because he cannot hear well in other pods, but the jail denied the request. DRP staff is assisting a client whose feet have been partially amputated and needs a designated parking space near his home. The municipality denied his request for such a space. DRP wrote to the municipality on his behalf and is awaiting a response. After DRP staff encountered physical barriers in an auditorium at Shippensburg University when they were invited to speak at an event, a professor undertook a comprehensive accessibility survey of larger spaces at the university. The professor wrote to the president of the university detailing her findings, and DRP is supporting her request for action steps to improve accessibility at the university. DRP staff is assisting a Penn State University student with cold urticarial, which subjects her to serious health risks in cold weather, to address the university’s imposition of an accessible parking surcharge at the State College campus. The client has a disability placard and the campus has designated parking spaces for people with disabilities. However, the campus requires individuals who want to use those designated parking spots to pay an extra $90 per month for an “ADA Parking Pass” (in addition to the $27 per month for on-campus parking privileges). DRP successfully intervened on behalf of a woman who is deaf and engaged an attorney to represent her in a lawsuit on a contingency basis. When the case was settled, the attorney deducted from the settlement as “expenses” the costs of the sign language interpreters he engaged to communicate with the client. DRP advised the attorney that Title III of the ADA prohibits attorneys from imposing fees on clients for the provision of interpreter services. The attorney agreed that it would refund the charges for the interpreter services. DRP successfully intervened on behalf of a deaf prisoner in Allegheny County Jail who contacted DRP about his inability to access ASL interpreting services during his incarceration (including meetings with his court-appointed counsel) and during court hearings. After DRP contacted the Allegheny County Courts’ ADA Coordinator and the County Solicitor’s Office, the Allegheny County Jail entered into a contract with an ASL interpreting service provider and agreed to develop a process by which our client and all deaf prisoners can request and secure timely ASL interpreting services. The new ASL interpreting services provider will create an orientation video for new deaf prisoners explaining how they can request ASL interpreting services. In addition, the Solicitor and ADA Coordinator agreed to assure that our client and all deaf prisoners will have ASL interpreters for meetings with their public defenders and court hearings. DRP is assisting an individual who uses a wheelchair and who was charged a “base fare” in addition to mileage when he used a wheelchair accessible taxi in Reading. DRP wrote to the taxi company in August, which stated that it was charging rates in accordance with its tariffs filed with the Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission (PUC) because its wheelchair accessible vehicles are licensed by the PUC as a paratransit service. In September, DRP again wrote to the taxi companies, explaining that regardless of the PUC’s licensing scheme, the imposition of higher charges for wheelchair accessible taxi services violates Title III of the ADA, and to the PUC explaining that its actions in authorizing the taxi companies to charge such higher rates may violate Title II of the ADA. The taxi companies did not respond and the PUC’s position is that it is in compliance with the ADA. DRP is assessing next steps. Priority V 1. Priority: Conduct outreach, training, and education activities. 2. Need Addressed: Increase consumer’s knowledge of their rights and available services to enable them to live independent and productive lives. 3. Indicators: A. Identify and work with unserved and underserved communities. B. Develop and distribute fact sheets and other materials on issues of importance to people with disabilities, including alerts via the DRP electronic mailing list. 4. Collaborations: DRP staff provided information and resources at the Senior Health Fair arranged by Representative Patty Kim in Harrisburg to raise awareness of DRP’s services and the rights of people with disabilities. DRP staff provided a lecture on advocating under the ADA and other civil rights laws to people with muscular dystrophy and family members at the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s Muscle Summit in Bucks County. DRP staff provided a lecture on transition of youth to adult services to staff at the OVR office in Armstrong County. DRP staff provided a lecture on the rights of people with disabilities in the workplace and self-advocacy to consumers, OVR staff, and provider staff at the Pennsylvania Disability Employment and Empowerment Summit (PADES) conference in Allegheny County. DRP staff provided a lecture on employment rights to individuals who are deaf at Liberty Resources, Inc. in Philadelphia. DRP staff provided information and resources regarding DRP’s services, assistive technology, traumatic brain injury, employment and disability, and accessibility at a veteran’s outreach event convened by state representative Costa. DRP staff provided a lecture on barriers to entry to the legal profession by people with disabilities as part of a panel discussion at the Society of American Law Teachers Conference in Montgomery County. DRP provided information and resources regarding DRP’s services to people with disabilities and interested professionals at the Pennsylvania Disability Employment and Empowerment Summit (PADES) conference in Lancaster. DRP provided information and resources regarding DRP’s services to people with disabilities and veterans at the Aldersgate United Methodist Church’s Veterans’ Appreciation Day event in Cumberland County. DRP staff provided a lecture about ADA rights in the workplace and public accommodations and about service animals under the FHA and ADA for people who are blind or have visual disabilities at Vision Resources of Central Pennsylvania in Harrisburg. DRP staff provided information and resources regarding employment, community living, housing, education, special education, voting, and transition to adulthood at an outreach event convened by Baldwin Whitehall school district targeting transition age students with disabilities. DRP staff provided a lecture on discipline of students with disabilities to staff at the School Law Continuing Legal Education course in Philadelphia. DRP staff provided a lecture to members of a student disability studies group at Shippensburg University on disability activism and provided information on voting and access to public accommodations DRP provided information and resources to veterans with TBI at the Harrisburg Stand Down, a weekend of services being provided to veterans who are homeless or at risk of losing their housing to raise awareness of DRP’s services. DRP staff provided a lecture for parents and school staff at a conference organized by the Transition Council for Intermediate Unit 7 in Westmoreland County, called Toll Ahead for Funding Services and Supports, to raise awareness of transition issues for students with disabilities under the IDEA. DRP provided information and resources at a disability information fair organized by state Senator Teplitz in Harrisburg to raise awareness of DRP services, including its DASH program, and other services available for people with disabilities. DRP staff provided a lecture on IEP Writing for a Successful Transition to Adulthood at Representative Dan Miller’s Disability and Mental Health Summit for students and families in Allegheny County. DRP provided information and resources at the Veterans’ Information Fair, Dauphin County to raise awareness of DRP’s services and about disability rights. DRP staff provided information and resources at a constituency outreach convened by state representative Jim Brewster to raise awareness of DRP services and DRP staff provided information to nursing facility representative attendees regarding the use of power mobility devices in the facilities. DRP staff provided a lecture on Titles II and III of the ADA to municipal officials and disability advocates at the Delaware County Fair Housing Task Force hosted by the Housing Equality Center of Pennsylvania. DRP staff provided a lecture to individuals and professionals at Intermediate Unit 21 sponsored by the Arc of Lehigh County to raise awareness of special education, transition, and voting. DRP provided information and resources to active duty military, veterans, civilians, and military connected families at the Behavioral Health Summit for PA CARES, held at Fort Indiantown Gap to raise awareness of DRP services. DRP staff provided a lecture to members of the Pittsburgh Association of the Deaf to educate them on powers of staff and substitute decision-making and to raise awareness about DRP’s services. DRP’s Legal Director provided a lecture to staff from protection and advocacy systems as part of a panel at the NDRP conference presenting on Olmstead and Medical Assistance. DRP staff provided a lecture to school staff on access and equity for English-language learners with disabilities at the Samuel Francis School Law Symposium in Allegheny County. DRP staff provided a lecture to people at the Pennsylvania Permanency Conference sponsored by the Statewide Adoption Network conference in State College on the IDEA and transition for students with disabilities. Please see Part I, Section B above for additional trainings and outreach collaborations. 5. Number of Cases: Cases: 0. Class action: 0 6. Case Summaries: as this priority is informational, we do not have case reports.
Please include a statement of priorities and objectives for the current fiscal year (the fiscal year succeeding that covered by this report), which should contain the following information:
Priority I 1. Priority: Protect and advocate for people with disabilities who are subject to abuse and neglect. 2. Need Addressed: Advocacy focused on the need for protection from abuse, neglect, and rights violations. 3. Activities: A. Respond to individual and systemic reports of abuse or neglect through technical assistance, follow-up, monitoring, investigation and/or litigation, including enforcing DRP’s authority to access facilities, residents, and records. B. Improve, expand, and monitor systems for reporting, investigating, and responding to abuse or neglect including ensuring full implementation of an adult protective services system. Priority II 1. Priority: Eliminate institutionalization and segregation of people with disabilities 2. Need Addressed: Integration is preferred and too often people with disabilities are put in or directed to institutional settings. Changing the attitudes of policy makers, involvement of persons with disabilities in the design and implementation of services, and rebalancing appropriation of funding is necessary to achieve integration. 3. Activities: A. Advocate for integrated community services, supports, and treatment for children and adults with disabilities institutionalized, at risk of institutionalization, or otherwise in segregated settings. B. Advocate to reduce admissions, develop reintegration plans, and increase appropriate/specialized community settings for people with disabilities as alternatives to nursing home placement. C. Promote the expansion of affordable, integrated, accessible and stable housing, and assure full and equal access to housing in the community for people with disabilities. D. Advocate for the development and full implementation of and funding for comprehensive/integrated Pennsylvania Olmstead Plan. Priority III 1. Priority: Promote an array of quality consumer-controlled, consumer-driven, person-centered, and recovery-oriented services to enable people with disabilities to live and thrive in their own homes, schools, workplaces, and communities. 2. Need Addressed: People want to live in their homes and communities. In order to do so, they need state-funded services and supports. Especially in tight budget times, and given competition with institutions, it’s critical to engage in focused budget advocacy. 3. Activities: A. Advocate for control and direction by people with disabilities in the delivery of services, including the development of participant-directed supports and services and community first choice option. B. Advocate ending waiting lists and removing other barriers to community services for people with disabilities who are unserved or underserved. C. Expand access to quality education, early intervention, and special education services in the least restrictive environment appropriate. D. Assure access to Medicaid services. E. Assure access to assistive technology for people with disabilities to enable them to live and work in their communities. F. Advocate for removal of barriers that exist in the state’s system of care that prevent access to coordinated and effective services and treatment for people with multiple disabilities. Priority IV 1. Priority: Eliminate discrimination on the basis of disability. 2. Need Addressed: Laws protecting equal access by people with disabilities are not always enforced; and are not always known by attorneys and people with disabilities. Education, self-advocacy and rights training, and enforcement are needed. 3. Activities: A. Assure access to government and public services and public accommodations. B. Advocate for access to effective communication for people who are deaf, deaf/blind, hard of hearing, or have other disabilities that affect communication in government service systems and public accommodations. C. Promote and expand employment of people with disabilities, including advocating for Employment First and other competitive and supported employment opportunities for individuals in segregated employment. D. Assure that people with disabilities have an equal opportunity to vote. E. Promote and expand accessible transportation, including for individuals who live in rural areas. F. Advocate for the rights of people with disabilities who are incarcerated, at risk of incarceration, or released from incarceration to receive appropriate treatment, equal access to services, reasonable accommodations, and diversion from incarceration. Priority V 1. Priority: Conduct outreach, training, and education activities. 2. Need Addressed: Increase consumer’s knowledge of their rights and available services to enable them to live independent and productive lives. 3. Activities: A. Identify and work with unserved and underserved communities. B. Develop and distribute accessible and multilingual publications on issues of importance to people with disabilities, including alerts via the DRP electronic mailing lists and social media. C. Update and improve DRP website and social media presence.
At a minimum, you must include all of the information requested. You may include any other information, not otherwise collected on this reporting form that would be helpful in describing the extent of PAIR activities during the prior fiscal year. Please limit the narrative portion of this report, including attachments, to 20 pages or less.
The narrative should contain the following information. The instructions for this form outline the information that should be contained in each section.
A. Sources of funds received and expended: Federal funds: Amount received - $587,017 Amount spent - $587,017 Program Income: Amount received - $114,691 Amount spent: $114,691 Total received: $701,708 Total spent: $701,708 B. Budget for the fiscal year covered by the report: Prior Fiscal Year, 2015-2016: Wages/Salaries - $385,420 Fringe Benefits - $131,385 Materials/Supplies - $8,056 Postage - $1,000 Telephone - $4,200 Rent - $50,616 Travel - $6,343 Copying - $500 Bonding/Insurance - $4,822 Equipment - $3,500 Legal Services - $0 Indirect Costs - $0 Misc. - $38,040 Total Budget - $633,882 Current Fiscal Year, 2016-2017 Wages/Salaries - $385,913 Fringe Benefits- $143,423 Materials/Supplies - $8,056 Postage - $1,000 Telephone - $4,200 Rent - $40,700 Travel - $6,343 Copying - $500 Bonding/Insurance - $4,500 Equipment - $1,950 Legal Services - $0 Indirect costs - $0 Miscellaneous - $36,900 Total Budget - $633,485 C. Description of PAIR staff (duties and person-years) FTE % of year filled person years Professional - Full-time (26) 5.37 100% 5.37 Part-time (0) 0.00 100% 0.00 Clerical - Full-time (7) 1.08 100% 1.08 Part-time ( ) 100% D. Involvement with advisory boards (if any) Adult Protective Services Coalition. Advocates for Community Employment. Community First Choice Option Coalition. Deaf-Blind SSP Steering Committee. Philadelphia Bar Association Committee on Legal Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Philadelphia Bar Association Civil Rights Committee. Philadelphia Bar Association Delivery of Legal Services Committee. Pennsylvania Council on Independent Living Policy Committee. Governor’s Advisory Committee on Persons with Disabilities. Pennsylvania Health Law Project’s Health Care Advisory Board. Pennsylvania Developmental Disabilities Council. Pennsylvania Statewide Independent Living Council. Allegheny County-City of Pittsburgh Task Force on Disabilities. Department of Health, Traumatic Brain Injury Advisory Board. PA CARES (Pennsylvania Americans showing Compassion, Assistance and Reaching out with Empathy for Service members). Person Driven Services and Supports (PDSS) Coalition. Disability Voting Coalition Advisory Committee. Pennsylvania State Voice Keystone Votes. Managed Long Term Services and Supports (MLTSS) Consumer Coalition. Behavioral Health Task Force for People who are Deaf, Deaf-Blind, and Hard of Hearing. Citizen Advisory committees for Philadelphia, York, Norristown, Pittsburgh and Erie Regional Offices of Vocational Rehabilitation. Pennsylvania Rehabilitation Council. Pennsylvania Transportation Alliance. Philadelphia Visitability Committee. E. Grievances filed under the grievance procedure An informal grievance was filed by a client who disagreed with DRP’s decision not to represent her in her discrimination complaint against the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas for failing to grant her a continuance or in fighting a contempt order. DRP lawyers reviewed the facts of client’s case and offered several suggestions, including information on filing a complaint against the Court with the United States Department of Justice and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, but determined that DRP did not have the legal or advocacy resources available to represent her. DRP’s CEO upheld the decision to not provide representation to client and advised her of her right to appeal the decision to DRP’s Board President. Client appealed to the Board President, who, after further review of the facts of client’s case, upheld the decision to not represent client. F. Coordination with the Client Assistance Program (CAP) and the State long-term care program, if these programs are not part of the P&A agency DRP informs callers, as appropriate, about the services provided by the CAP. We are also available as a resource to CAP and its clients. DRP and CAP staff discussed ways to for the organizations to collaborate as well as improve case referrals between the organizations to better assist people with disabilities. DRP maintains a lead advocacy role in the work of the community in its attempts to be a part of the administrative process and design of long term services and supports. DRP maintains individual assistance for many clients through our intake department, while other staff work on providing input through the federally mandated Medical Assistance Advisory Committee or MAAC, and its subcommittees. Throughout the year, DRP staff also participated in several “coalitions” with similar missions of enhancing or expanding home and community based services and supports. Some examples include but are not limited to: the Managed Long Term Services and Supports (MLTSS) Consumer Coalition; Community First Choice Option Coalition; the Adult Protective Services Coalition, which came together to create protective services for recipients of home and community based services; the Person Driven Services and Supports (or PDSS) Coalition, which is intent on developing, expanding and promoting consumer-directed service models; and the Cover the Commonwealth campaign, which came together to promote the expansion of Medicaid as envisioned in the Affordable Care Act. DRP staff continue to provide input when possible on proposed regulations and policy directives through the direct submission of written comments and through legal actions and settlements when necessary.
|Signed By||Rocco Iacullo|
|Title||PAIR Team Leader|