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RSA-227 for FY-2021: Submission #1180

Arizona
09/30/2021
General Information
Designated Agency Identification
Arizona Center for Disability Law
5025 E. Washington St.
Ste., 202
Phoenix
Arizona
85034
602-274-6287
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1/800/927-2260
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Operating Agency (if different from Designated Agency)
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Additional Information
Linda Fischer
Linda Fischer
1-520-327-9547
lfischer@azdisabilitylaw.org
Part I. Non-case Services
A. Information and Referral Services (I&R)
14
2
2
3
0
17
38
B. Training Activities
2
42
During this reporting period, the CAP conducted 2 presentation-trainings.
1. April 21, 2021 – Presentation/Training via Google Meetings to Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors. Topics included Vocational Rehabilitation
Services/Client Assistance Program. 12 people attended.
2. September 25, 2021 - Presentation/Training via Zoom at the Self-Advocacy Solutions – Self Advocates Conference. Topics included Vocational
Rehabilitation Services and Client Rights. 32 people attended.
C. Agency Outreach
ACDL hosted its 10th annual African American Conference on Disabilities virtually during the month of February 2021. Sessions relevant to individuals with disabilities using VR services included one on Reasonable Accommodations in the Workplace and one on Addressing the Needs of Students with Disabilities. Attendance to this virtual conference was over 11,000 and included individuals from all over the country and world.
ACDL CAP advocates discussed strategies with the Native American Disability Law Center’s CAP program on serving clients of the 121 Vocational Rehabilitation programs in Northern Arizona, ensuring that applicants and clients of those programs know about available CAP services and improving their relationships with the 121 programs to better serve clients.
1. July 7, 2021 – Booth/Table via Zoom (Arizona). IHD – AZTAP Evidence for Success Virtual Disability Conference. Topics included General ACDL Service
Areas. 3 people attended.
2. July 8, 2021 – Booth/Table Via Zoom (Arizona). IHD – AZTAP Evidence for Success Virtual Disability Conference. Topics included General ACDL Service
Areas. 2 people attended.

During this reporting period CAP participated in 2 booths-tables

D. Information Disseminated To The Public By Your Agency
0
1
1
1897
3
134517
Website hits
E. Information Disseminated About Your Agency By External Media Coverage
N/A
Part II. Individual Case Services
A. Individuals served
30
36
66
3
11
B. Problem areas
1
15
41
8
0
4
0
0
C. Intervention Strategies for closed cases
35
2
18
1
0
2
58
D. Reasons for closing individuals' case files
31
16
0
0
0
4
1
0
5
1
0
0
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E. Results achieved for individuals
27
0
4
0
18
4
2
1
0
2
1-Other: during negotiation, client decided to relocate out of state for at least six months and services could not be provided during her absence from the state.
1-Other: Client did not cooperate with CAP by returning calls to develop an engagement letter and advocacy plan.
Part III. Program Data
A. Age
6
11
16
29
4
66
B. Gender
33
33
66
C. Race/ethnicity of Individuals Served
13
1
1
6
2
42
0
1
D. Primary disabling condition of individuals served
0
2
0
1
0
4
7
1
4
2
0
1
6
1
0
1
0
0
0
2
14
0
1
1
3
7
4
0
0
3
0
1
0
0
66
E. Types of Individuals Served
4
0
54
8
0
1
Part IV. Systemic Activities and Litigation
A. Non-Litigation Systemic Activities
4
Arizona CAP continued to monitor the unique issues faced by VR clients due to COVID-19 and how the pandemic impacted delivery of VR services, education and provider availability. Our last year’s PPR outlined CAP’s suggestions to VR on policy changes that may have affected clients during the first several months of the pandemic. VR advised its staff to stop case closures due to loss of contact, implement more flexible timeline expectations to complete services and tasks, and offer virtual services to directly support clients who are employed or attending school. During the current reporting year, CAP saw many of these changes end even though the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect VR clients’ ability to progress towards successful employment. Clients are having their cases closed for lack of contact or participation. In some cases, only in-person Trial Work Experiences and Work Adjustment trainings are being offered. Some clients' VR cases have been closed because they are unwilling to wear a mask to an evaluation required by VR and no alternatives or accommodations were offered. Some clients find it difficult to attend classes that are only offered in-person because other students were not wearing masks. CAP’s systemic activities regarding these issues have been to provide trainings for VR staff, VR service providers and the disability community, and to present these issues to the State Rehabilitation Council (SRC).

Advocate John Gutierrez was active in voting rights issues for individuals with disabilities. He conducted systemic activities related to Arizona VR’s responsibility to provide voting information to applicants and clients and for VR to assist with registration. Arizona VR staff must offer voter registration to applicants and clients in accordance to State regulations and departmental policy. VR Staff are also required to encourage applicants and clients to complete the Arizona Voter Registration Form or Federal Voter Registration Application at the time of application, annual renewal or redetermination of benefits or services, and when the individual reports a change of address, name change or party affiliation change. VR Policy lays out specific requirements and instructions on voting information for staff to comply with. Due to the low numbers of Arizonans with disabilities registered to vote, Mr. Gutierrez pursued activities to question Arizona VR on compliance with its policy regarding voter registration. He met with RSA Administrator, Kristen Mackey and obtained bi-annual data on the number of applicants and clients who were offered the Voter Registration form and how many completed it. As a result of this systemic activity and Arizona VR provided voting information to callers and clients and alerted them of VR’s responsibility to assist them with registering to vote. CAP’s efforts also reminded VR staff of its responsibility to provide voter information. CAP will continue to monitor VR’s voter registration data.

CAP staff provided public comments on Arizona VR’s proposed changes to its Supported Employment IPE Development Policy. VR incorporated our comments to add that Supported Employment applies to all clients with the most significant disabilities and that the policy language should mirror what the federal regulations state on the length of time that Supported Employment can be provided and when a case can be closed successfully. Arizona VR did not incorporate our comment to include a section on relevant terms referred to in each policy to assist clients with understanding the policy. AZ VR said that including the relevant terms section would lengthen the entire manual and increase redundancy.

CAP staff provided input to an informational video entitled “What are Vocational Rehabilitation Services?” The video was produced by Block by Block Creative! with the collaboration of several CAPs throughout the country. It provides general information on the VR program, who is eligible, and what types of services can be provided.
The video was completed in April 2021 and was added to ACDL’s YouTube channel on November 2, 2021.

B. Litigation
0
0
0
ACDL does not have any on-going or completed litigation activities involving individual representation during fiscal year 2021.
Part V. Agency Information
A. Designated Agency
External-Protection and Advocacy agency
Arizona Center for Disability Law
No
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B. Staff Employed
CAP - PPR Fiscal Year Ending September 30, 2021. Arizona Center for Disability Law (ACDL) attorneys, Chief Executive Officer, J.J. Rico and Legal Director Rose Daly Rooney; Julia Corty, intake attorney provided direct supervision over the CAP and its staff. Total CAP Attorney time:.21 FTE.
Current and previous CAP Coordinator Linda Fischer and John Gutierrez and short-term assistance team (STAT) advocates provided assistance to persons with disabilities who are seeking or receiving vocational rehabilitation (VR) services as well as individuals who are receiving services from independent living centers or other Rehabilitation Act funded programs. Total CAP Advocate time: 1.05 FTE.
Support Staff provided clerical support to the CAP advocates and attorneys. Total CAP Support Staff time: .35 FTE.
Other ACDL staff who provided support to the CAP included the Director of Administration and Finance and Office Manager. The Director of Administration and Finance is responsible for budget preparations, day-to-day accounting duties, and the financial reporting requirements for the CAP program. ACDL’s Office Manager facilitates the distribution of support services and serves as a liaison to coordinate the workload between attorneys/advocates and support staff. Total CAP for other staff time: .07 FTE.
Part VI. Case Examples
Case Examples
MW v. Arizona Rehabilitation Services Administration – Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Program

MW is an 18-year-old high school student who is eligible for VR due to her Spinal Muscular Atrophy type II (“SMA”). MW had been unable to get her Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) approved because VR insists that she attend a Community College for the first two years of a journalism program, rather than attend a State University’s School of Journalism. VR’s decision was based on its policy that states VR will pay for the least expensive option offered by the post-secondary education/training program with a public community college being the first option. AZ VR’s usual requirement is for a client to do the first two years of a four-year college program at a community college. The policy allows for disability-related or rehabilitation-related exceptions. Due to MW’s disability, MW cannot drive. Studying, typing, and writing take her longer than most students. Also, the distance from her home to the nearest Community College would require MW to spend at least 5 hours on the bus every day she had to attend classes. According to her caregivers and physicians, time on the bus is dangerous to her health, given the fragility of her body, and the fact that she is at higher risk for severe health issues if she gets sick. At the University campus, MW would have access to a universally-accessible campus and could go to her dorm room to rest, complete toileting needs, and study. ACDL agreed to represent MW at an administrative hearing.

The hearing was scheduled for April 20, 2021. The ACDL attorney planned to present evidence to show that MW was entitled to attend her first two years at the State University, rather than a Community College, because a disability-related exception to the policy is warranted.

This matter resolved in principle on the eve of hearing when VR informed ACDL and MW that they intended to revise her IPE to include her attending the State University program beginning her freshman year and include tuition, dormitory, books, meal plan, and 54 hours/month of attendant care. At the time of submitting this report, the only remaining issue is the amount and type of parking arrangement that VR will fund for the various attendant care providers, once MW is found eligible for SSI.

MP v. Arizona Rehabilitation Services Administration – Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Program

MP is a 21-year-old man living with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. He has been a VR client since he was in high school but in the last two years has had four different counselors and has received very few services. He started at a community college but struggled with on-line courses required by COVID restrictions. Instead of providing individualized services to support MP with his education, his VR counselor suggested he withdraw from VR and instead receive services from the Division of Developmental Disabilities. MP is dedicated to obtaining a college degree and is interested in radiology technology. The ACDL CAP successfully advocated for VR to change his employment goal and provide necessary pre-employment transition services to MP that include tutoring and supported education.

The Case of CE

CE is a 40-year-old woman who is Deaf and whose first and primary language is American Sign Language (ASL). CE has been a VR client for several years but began having communication problems with her VR counselor in October 2020 when she wanted to discuss changing her employment goal to Teacher for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and amending her IPE to reflect the change. VR’s initial response was to deny this request citing CE’s previous employment by their agency as a rehabilitation technician and her current employment goal of medical assistant. After receiving no assistance from the RSA Ombudsman, CE contacted ACDL’s CAP. CAP conducted a review of CE’s vocational records, assisted her in formulating her arguments about why becoming a teacher of the Deaf is a better fit than medical assistant, and attended a meeting with her new VR counselor where all this information was provided. CE was also working as a permanent substitute at a public high school serving Deaf students and had a letter from the superintendent saying once she obtained her Deaf and Hard of Hearing Teaching credentials, he would love to look into hiring CE as a full-time permanent teacher. The VR counselor agreed to write up the proposed change to the IPE and present it to the VR supervisor. The supervisor approved the employment goal change to Teacher for the Deaf. CE is currently in the Master’s degree program and VR is paying her tuition and other education-related costs.

The Case of CR

CR is an individual with a TBI, Learning Disability, Mental Illness, Gender Dysphoria, and HIV. VR supported CR to attend an interior design school. CR received a failing grade on her final project because she was not provided disability-related accommodations by the school or VR. These accommodations became particularly necessary when classes converted to an online format due to COVID-19 restrictions. CR wanted to retake her final class and redo the final project. VR policy states it will not pay for a repeat class. CR contacted ACDL’S CAP who provided CR with information on her ADA rights in a private post-secondary educational program. CR reached an agreement with the school that withdrew her failing grade and allowed her to retake the class and resubmit the final project. CAP also assisted CR with negotiating with VR to allow an exception to its policy and VR agreed to repay for the class and provided CR with an Assistive Technology assessment. She received computer software and training. CR completed the final Computer Aided Drafting class and received a passing grade. She received an A on her final project and received her Interior Design Certification. CR is currently receiving job development services from VR.

The Case of SO

SO is a 59-year-old male with ADHD, anxiety and depression. He contacted CAP when he was notified by a new VR counselor that he had not kept in contact with VR for several months. The new counselor requested information about his intent to attend college by a certain date or a closing letter would be sent. SO thought that his previous VR counselor had agreed to place his case on hold while he took care of his mother and while COVID-19 restrictions were so tight. SO wanted his case to be transferred to another counselor and for it to remain open but still on hold as the circumstances for the hold had not changed. CAP assisted SO with requesting a transfer to a new VR counselor and negotiating that his case remain open but on interrupted status. VR agreed to the case transfer and to place SO’s case on Interrupted Status during COVID-19 restrictions while he cared for his mother. CAP also assisted SO on what he would need to provide VR when he was ready to return to active participation. At this time, VR has approved SO to attend two community college classes to re-familiarize himself with being a student. He will now determine his employment goal and work with his academic counselor to develop a plan of study to submit to VR.
Certification
Approved
J.J. Rico
Chief Executive Officer
2021-11-18
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