Wednesday, April 25, 2012

More on transportation policy - take a survey and inform transportation policy

Improve Transportation for People with Disabilities by Participating in a Short Survey

The Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund (DREDF) is conducting research on what factors are most important to riders with disabilities when deciding which transit mode to use.

The confidential survey results will be part of a national study called Transit Cooperative Research Project B-40: Strategy Guide to Enable and Promote the Use of Fixed-Route Transit by People with Disabilities. The goal is to develop strategies to improve bus and train systems for people with disabilities. DREDF's research partners are TranSystems Corporation, The Collaborative, and KFH Group.

Please take the survey, and encourage others to do so!  

Email Marilyn Golden with any questions.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Interested in advocating for transportation at the local level?

Easter Seals is offering an opportunity for Activists to learn how to get involved in transportation advocacy at the local level. The teleconference looks to be really interesting for those with a particular interest in helping their local community overcome barriers for people with disabilities.

Here's the description of the April 25 (11am Pacific Standard Time) teleconference. Registration is required, so sign up here.
As part of Easter Seals Project ACTION’s Promising Practices and Solutions in Accessible Transportation series, Project ACTION will conduct a webinar exploring transportation advocacy at the local level. In this session, participants will learn to become effective advocates for accessible transportation by connecting with local advisory committees and other entities involved in transportation planning. The session will also address considerations to keep in mind when planning an accessible meeting.

Monday, April 16, 2012

What do you do with your extra medications?

People with MS and other chronic diseases often have medicine cabinents full of unused medications. These drugs may be dangerous in the wrong hands (or toxic to the environment), and there aren't always easy ways to dispose of them. To help, several police departments are collecting unwanted medications on National Take Back Day - Saturday April 28. To see where you can drop off your old drugs, check out this website.

How does this relate to advocacy you wonder? Well, several states have tried to create stronger "take back" systems. In particular, California set up a robust sharps disposal system that places some responsibility for the disposal of sharps on pharmaceutical equipment manufacturers. In 2011, legislation was introduced in Washington's legislature to create a similar system. We monitored the bill, though we didn't take an official stand on it as we were concerned about adding additional costs onto consumers. I predict it's something that will likely to come up again in the future.

Friday, April 13, 2012

What's the National MS Society doing about the cost of MS drugs?

Great question. I'm glad I asked that. A recent article in the New York Times gives a great overview of the challenge that we face in asking state legislators to put a cap on the price of MS drugs. In Washington, we supported legislation (HB 1876 and HB 2435/SB 6241) to limit the cost of drugs. Unfortunately, the bills did not pass, though we heard from several legislators that this is an issue they'd like to help us with. The American Cancer Society also pushed hard for this legislation and in tandem with other chronic disease organizations, we were able to set up a mechanism to address the issue in the future if it causes adverse selection (the spiraling of costs that could occur when people with high health care costs are separated into their own health plans).

In Alaska, we've been making great progress in pushing HB 218, legislation that would increase transparency around the use of specialty tiers. The bill is currently in the Senate Rules Committee and we are hoping it will pass before the session adjourns on Sunday.

We are also looking at this issue in Montana - the first step is documenting the extent to which people with MS are actually affected by this issue. Our Montana Government Relations Committee is very interested in learning more about this issue, so let us know if you have high drug costs.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The high cost of MS on the national stage

Check out this recent article on the Huffington Post about Mitt Romney's wife, who lives with MS. It's true that health insurance coverage varies widely in this country and it's incredibly difficult to get health insurance once someone is diagnosed with a disease like MS. For those who can afford it, health care is available. For everybody else, good luck! Luckily, the Affordable Care Act will change that, if it's upheld by the Supreme Court.

Is your party caucus in Washington accessible?

As you may have noticed, there’s no presidential primary in Washington State. Instead, voters state their preference for presidential candidates by attending their party caucuses.

On March 3, the Republicans held their party caucuses. Now, the Democrats are scheduled to hold their party caucuses – this coming Sunday, April 15.

If you attend the Democratic caucus, please fill out the survey below (also available on the DRW website ( ). If you attended the Republican caucus last month, it is not too late to turn in a completed survey.

The survey is a non-partisan effort to collect information that will help parties make their activities more accessible to voters with disabilities.


2012 Political Party Caucus Accessibility Survey

Survey purpose. We are seeking information about the accessibility of political party caucuses for party members with disabilities. We plan to provide the results of this survey to the political parties for their use in identifying and removing barriers to access and improve responses to requests for accommodation.

Survey sponsors. This survey is being conducted by Disability Rights Washington (DRW), Disability Business Technical Assistance Center Northwest (DBTAC Northwest), Governor’s Committee on Disability Issues and Employment (GCDE), and the State Independent Living Council (SILC).

Directions. If you wish to participate in this survey, simply attend the caucus for your preferred political party, and return the survey. You can print out this survey, fill it out, and mail it to DRW or you can e-mail it to DRW.

Please e-mail to: Please put “Caucus Survey” in email subject line.

Please mail to: Disability Rights Washington 315 5th Avenue South # 850
Seattle, WA. 98104

Caucus locations and dates:
Saturday, March 3 - Republican Party caucus
For your caucus locations call (425) 460-0570, or visit:

Sunday, April 15 - Democratic Party caucus
For your caucus locations call (206) 583-0664, or visit:

Survey. Please answer the questions below.

1. Information about access? Were you able to obtain the information you needed about the accessibility of the caucus location or how to get an accommodation? Example: Did the party provide a contact for requesting an accommodation? Was the website announcing the caucus accessible to you?

2. Transportation? Was it difficult to get to the caucus? Example: Was public transportation available to the site? Was assistance available to carpool? Was there sufficient accessible parking available?

3. Accessible route to the caucus? Could you get from parking to the caucus room without difficulty? Example: Were there steps? If you use a wheelchair, was there room to maneuver? Please identify any barriers.

4. Full Participation in caucus? Were you able to fully participate in the caucus? Please indicate any examples of actions that were taken that made the caucus more accessible, as well as barriers to access. Examples: Were accommodations provided so you could hear the discussion? Was written material in a format you could read? Were you able to participate in the delegate selection voting and discussion? If not, why not?

5. Participate in party activities? Are you able to participate in other party activities you heard about at the caucus? Examples: Will you be able to attend the party convention as a delegate?

6. Other concerns or positive comments? Please provide any additional information about the accessibility of the caucus you attended that you think is relevant.

Location and Date
Please identify the location of the caucus you attended:
Date of Caucus:

The following information will not be disclosed without your permission.

Your name:

If you wish to be provided with the results of this survey, please provide the following:

Your address:

Your email address:

Thank you for completing this survey.

For information about this survey, or to request accommodation or alternate formats, please visit our website or contact David Lord, Disability Rights Washington at

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Seattle Commission for People with Disabilities needs new members

The Seattle Commission for People with disAbilities is a sixteen-member body of sincere and energetic volunteers who use their collective capabilities to demonstrably improve the City of Seattle.

To create an inclusive Seattle by confronting barriers, raising awareness, and bridging communities.

· Advise the Mayor, City Council, and city departments on ways to improve access to city resources
· Facilitate consumption of city services and improve opportunities for participation in civic life for people with disabilities
· Encourage understanding between and among the disability community and the larger Seattle community
· Advocate on behalf of people with disabilities in the larger Seattle community
· Provide technical and policy guidance on issues of disability and accessibility

Commissioners are expected to devote at minimum ten hours per month to Commission work, including monthly Commission meetings and active participation in at least one Committee. Applicants are encouraged to attend a Commission meeting to see how the Commission works and to meet the Commissioners. For more information, see the website:

The Commission reflects the diversity of Seattle’s disability community and is committed to being a model of inclusion. To meet that goal, we strive to use the principals of universal design to inform our policies, practices, and procedures.

To apply, send an application, resume, and cover letter to Felicia Yearwood by April 26, 2012.

By Email: or
By Fax: (206) 684-0332 or
By mail: Felicia Yearwood
Seattle Commission for People with disAbilities
810 Third Avenue, Suite 750
Seattle, WA 98104-1627

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

ANOTHER special session for the Washington legislature….

Is it acceptable in your job to miss deadlines, increase costs unnecessarily, and let down the people who pay your salary?  It’s not in mine either, but our legislators seem to think that is perfectly acceptable job performance.  Though we know that there are many representatives in our state government who believe in protecting our most vulnerable citizens, there are just as many who cling to ideology that tells our most vulnerable to fend for themselves. Below is a portion of an email that my representative, (11th) Zack Hudgins, sent to his constituents on March 21st summarizing the situation in Olympia right now.

“Because the House and Senate were unable to agree on a supplemental operating budget during regular session, we are currently in a 30 day special session. (As a reminder, there was a philosophical shift in the Senate during the last week of regular session, when three conservative Senators voted with Republicans to move a Republican written budget out of the Senate. This changed the dynamic of Majority Democrats in the House negotiating with Majority Democrats in the Senate, and pushed us into a difficult to resolve situation resulting in our special session.)

 Since the end of special session, Governor Gregoire has been meeting regularly with leaders from all four caucuses to iron out the major areas of difference between the budget approved by the House and the budget approved by the Senate (some are calling it the Republican plus three budget). In the midst of the negotiating meetings, the Senate Republican leaders released another budget proposal to the media. This new plan appears to be moving in the right direction for funding our public schools and higher ed system, (no cuts to education is the same position the Democrats have taken) but the Republican +3 budget contains some pretty major differences in other important areas.

Those differences are relatively small, dollar-wise, but represent very divergent values. If the newest Republican +3 proposal is passed as written, some of the most vulnerable people in our state will be devastated:

·         14,500 disabled people will lose their medical coverage

·         10,000 disabled people will lose their homes

·         3,350 low-income families will lose their only source of income during this recession

·         12,300 low-income families will lose their food assistance

I want to get the budget written and approved as soon as possible, but we can’t sacrifice our basic values for simple expediency. A budget isn’t just about numbers, it’s about people.”

Now is the time to contact your State legislators and let them know that a budget that will have a devastating effect on the MS Community is not what we sent them to Olympia for.  

Remember It’s Time for Action! Washington

Cheers! – Holly Hawker, Activism Committee Chair