public policy

Arizona legislator Jennifer Longdon delivers personal story, gun reform plea in Washington

Jen Longdon delivers speech to congress
State Rep. Jennifer Longdon, D-Phoenix, didn’t need to tell congressional lawmakers Thursday about the harm firearms can do: She showed them, when she rolled her wheelchair into a House hearing on the costs of gun violence.

State Rep. Jennifer Longdon, D-Phoenix, was one of eight legislators, advocates and medical professionals who shared sobering stories about the costs of gun violence at a congressional hearing last week in an effort to urge members of the House Ways and Means committee to take legislative action on gun control.

Longdon is paralyzed from the chest down, and her ex-fiancé lives with brain trauma and blindness, after they were struck by five stray bullets as bystanders during a 2004 shooting.

Click here to continue reading Megan U. Boyanton’s story on Cronkite News / Arizona PBS about Longdon’s participation in the hearing, which took place as Democrats press for action on gun-control bills in the wake of mass shootings that took dozens of lives in August.

Disability rights leader Marca Bristo dies at 66

Marca Bristo headshot
Marca Bristo founded and led Access Living, a non-profit that advocates for legislation and policies that ensure fair housing and accessible transportation for people with disabilities. Image: a recent headshot of Marca Bristo. (Photo: accessliving.org)

Marca Bristo, one of the most influential advocates for people with disabilities in the U.S., died on Sunday morning after a long battle with cancer. She was 66.

After becoming paralyzed in a diving accident at 23, Bristo dedicated her life to disability rights advocacy and worked tirelessly to secure legal protections and improve quality of life measures for people with disabilities.

Among her many achievements, Bristo played a significant role in getting the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) passed. She also founded Access Living in Chicago, a nonprofit that promoted independent living, and in 1993 she was appointed by President Clinton to lead the National Council on Disability. She provided strategic leadership to the organization in that role until 2002.

Click here to read Marca Bristo’s full obituary in the New York Times.

Who bears the cost of Flagstaff’s minimum wage increase? Caregivers, for one.

 For now, the impact of the state’s reimbursement law on the city’s finances is uncertain. Image: a photo of a piggy bank surrounded by loose coins.

For now, the impact of the state’s reimbursement law on the city’s finances is uncertain. Image: a photo of a piggy bank surrounded by loose coins. [Photo: Pixabay]
Under a law that took effect today, the state of Arizona can charge the city Flagstaff for added costs to state contracts that will occur as a result of the city’s newly-implemented minimum wage increase. Many care providers cannot shoulder this added cost, however, as they already struggle to pay their employees due to insufficient state funding for their services. Unable to pay more than minimum wage, many companies cannot keep a steady workforce of caregivers. And with fewer providers, there will be fewer opportunities for people with disabilities.

Click here to read this Cronkite News article online.

 

EPA won’t ban chlorpyrifos, a pesticide linked to kids’ developmental disabilities

chemical structure of the insecticide chlorpyrifos
Image: a stock illustration portraying the chemical structure of the insecticide chlorpyrifos.

E.P.A. Won’t Ban Chlorpyrifos, Pesticide Tied to Children’s Health Problems

By Lisa Friedman

Originally published in the July 18, 2019 edition of the New York Times

 

In a New York Times article published this week, Lisa Friedman reports that the Trump administration took a major step to weaken the regulation of toxic chemicals on Thursday when the Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A.) announced that it will not ban chlorpyrifos, a pesticide linked to developmental delays in children. It has also been linked to lung cancer and Parkinson’s disease in adults.

The decision, which was made by E.P.A. administrator Andrew R. Wheeler, represents a win for the chemical industry and for farmers who have lobbied to continue using the toxic chemical despite its potential to cause serious harm.

Although the Obama administration announced in 2015 that it would ban chlorpyrifos after scientific studies produced by the E.P.A. showed the pesticide had the potential to damage brain development in children, the prohibition had not yet been carried out when, in 2017, then-E.P.A. administrator Scott Pruitt reversed Obama’s decision and provoked a wave of lawsuits.

Click here to read the article online.

PHOENIX Magazine article by NCDJ board member Amy Silverman details lack of in-home care options

“Raising Phoenix: Home-Care Woes”

Screen Shot of Phoenix Mag article by Amy Silverman
June 2019 issue of Phoenix Magazine featuring an article by NCDJ board member Amy Silverman. Silverman points out that there are limited in-home care options for people with disabilities in Arizona. [Image: a screen shot of Amy Silverman’s article “Raising Phoenix: Home-Care Woes,” featuring an illustration by Cedric Cummings]
In an article in the June 2019 issue of Phoenix Magazine, NCDJ board member Amy Silverman draws attention to the fact that there aren’t enough resources and support services available in Arizona for families who care at home for loved ones with disabilities. “According to the Arizona Council on Developmental Disabilities, there are 130,000 or so people in that category in Arizona, and almost 90 percent live at home,” Silverman says.

In addition to highlighting the need for better home-care services in the state, the Phoenix Magazine article also highlights Arizona’s failure to investigate the state’s Division of Developmental Disabilities, despite there being scores of formal complaints and well-documented concerns regarding the poor quality of the DDD’s in-home nursing services.

Click here to read Amy Silverman’s Phoenix Magazine article online.

Olmstead decision turns 20

[Video courtesy of EquipforEquality / YouTube]

Twenty years have passed since the Olmstead decision by the Supreme Court, which found that people with disabilities have a right to receive services outside of institutions, and to be fully integrated in their communities.

Background

The 1999 Olmstead v. L.C. decision fundamentally changed the lives of Lois Curtis and Elaine Wilson, who had both been institutionalized and living in isolation for an extended period of time after they had been voluntarily admitted into a state-run psychiatric unit for treatment. Even after mental healthcare providers approved their release, Curtis and Wilson were, essentially, stuck in the institution.

The Case

In a first-of-its-kind use of the ADA–which was less than a decade old–Curtis and Wilson filed a lawsuit. The result was a landmark decision by the Supreme Court, which found that confining individuals “greatly diminishes the everyday life activities of individuals, including family relations, social contacts, work options, economic independence, educational advancement, and cultural enrichment.”

Olmstead Impact

Since the Olmstead decision in 1999, many people have been freed from institutions and have a legal right to live where they want to live.

Listen to Ruth Bader Ginsburg deliver the majority opinion for the court:

Washington Post food critic to add accessibility to restaurant reviews

A screenshot of "Why I will start including accessibility information in my restaurant reviews," Washington Post food critic Tom Sietsema's article that was published on May 22.
“Why I will start including accessibility information in my restaurant reviews,” the article by Washington Post food critic Tom Sietsema that was published on May 22. Image: a screenshot of Sietsema’s article, which depicts an illustration of a man in a wheelchair superimposed over an architectural blueprint.

Tom Sietsema, a well-known food critic for the Washington Post, has announced that he will add accessibility information to his restaurant reviews. His decision, as Sietsema explains in a post published earlier this week, was prompted by feedback he’s received from readers, who frequently contact Sietsema to ask about restaurants’ accommodations for people who use wheelchairs, or people who are blind. Sietsema said he initially had concerns about remaining under-the-radar as a restaurant critic “while measuring doorways with a tape measure.” But, upon considering that more than 70,000 Washingtonians live with a disability, Sietsema realized the importance of his obligation to serve his audience.

Click here to read Sietsema’s announcement in the Washington Post.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey issues executive order to improve protections for people with disabilities

Page two of Gov. Ducey's Executive Order 2019-03, showing his signature and the Arizona state seal
Page two of Gov. Ducey’s Executive Order 2019-03, showing his signature and the Arizona state seal. (Image: azgovernor.gov)

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey is ordering three state agencies to do a better job protecting Arizona’s most vulnerable residents. The executive order he issued on Wednesday comes one week after the Arizona Developmental Disabilities Planning Council issued a report calling for the state to implement stronger protections for its residents with disabilities.

Some say the governor’s executive order is a good “first step,” but more work is needed to create policies that adequately protect Arizonans with disabilities who reside in long-term care facilities.

Read more on azcentral.com, or click here to access a PDF of the news story.

Arizona Developmental Disabilities Planning Council releases report on sexual abuse of Arizonans with disabilities

 

2019 ADDPC recommendations on preventing abuse
Cover page of the report produced by the Arizona Developmental Disabilities Planning Council.

The Arizona Developmental Disabilities Planning Council (ADDPC) has released a special report with recommendations for the Arizona State Legislature and Arizona state agencies to prevent sexual abuse of Arizonans with developmental disabilities.

While the recent crisis at Hacienda HealthCare continues to draw attention to problems within Arizona’s current system of monitoring and reporting sexual abuse of people with disabilities, almost no formal policies designed to recognize and prevent such abuse exist. The Council’s report is called “Sexual Abuse of Arizonans with Developmental and Other Disabilities” and it contains specific actions that state agencies and care providers can take to prevent the sexual abuse of vulnerable adults.

Read the ADDPC report: Sexual Abuse of Arizonans with Developmental and Other Disabilities

 

“Accessibility Is Not A Partisan Issue”

In an article for the Arizona Capitol Times, Katie Campbell details changes that are underway to make the Arizona State Capitol building more accessible for not just one new elected official, but all Arizonans. Jennifer Longdon, a presumptive state representative from Legislative District 24, uses a wheelchair and has drawn lawmakers’ attention to areas of the Capitol that are not easily accessible for people who use wheelchairs.

According to Longdon, Campbell writes, “this is just the first step toward making the Capitol more inclusive to everyone, both physically and in the policies that lawmakers craft.” Read the Arizona Capitol Times story here.

Jennifer Longdon Accessibility
Jennifer Longdon, a presumptive state representative from Legislative District 24, poses before a set of stairs to the speaker’s desk. “It’s more than our numbers that keep me from being speaker,” she said. (Photo by Katie Campbell/Arizona Capitol Times)