Gene Crayton, Paralyzed Veterans’ First African-American President

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Gene Creyton, PVA

Gene Crayton was born on a southern Illinois farm, 15 miles north of where the Ohio and Mississippi river’s meet, the fifth of six kids, Crayton learned early about duty, service and a hard day’s work.

His father, a share cropper, died when he was two years old and it was up to his mother to keep the farm going and raise the family.

Crayton’s sense of service followed him throughout his early life and at the young age of 17, during his junior year of high school, Crayton enlisted in the U.S. Navy Reserve. After graduation, he entered active duty where he attended Hospital Corps School at the U.S. Naval Hospital in San Diego, on his way to becoming a corpsman.

“I had hoped to become a doctor,” says Crayton. “As corpsman, I was constantly helping people and doing things to keep people from getting sick. Those duties constantly fed my desire to help others by doing things to help improve their lives. And in some cases, save their lives.”

Crayton soon reported for a training aboard the U.S.S. Purdy where he spent his time working in the sick bay. It wasn’t long after the Purdy that the young sailor would be called to serve in Vietnam.

Crayton was assigned to the 26th Marine Regiment to serve as corpsman. Since the Marine Corps has no medical personnel of its own, it has historically forged a tight bond with the Navy.

Typically referred to as “Doc,” a Navy corpsman will train alongside their Marine unit, often doing the same type of tactical training and physical fitness training as the Marines.

Crayton ultimately served during the Tet Offensive where he saw many tragic injuries and saved numerous lives. His unit was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for its extraordinary heroism in action.

“One thing that I don’t think many people talk about, but when I was in Khe Sanh, Vietnam right before the Tet Offensive started, I had never seen a place so beautiful in my life,” Crayton recalls.

“The banana trees and the different colors of the foliage and the birds. And then of course, Tet hit and all of that changed. I think, if you want to talk about anything, the experience was an extension of my learning as far as culture is concerned. Remember, I was a 17-year-old kid when I went to boot camp. I learned about different cultures and learned how to take care of myself.”

After leaving active duty, Crayton moved to St. Louis, where he was assigned to the local Marine Corps Reserve unit. Respiratory therapy was a new field at that time and Crayton took a job at Deaconess Hospital.

“At the time, there were only 200 registered respiratory therapists in the United States,” says Crayton. “So, people that had training were in demand. When I went to apply they asked me when do you want to start to work?”

Crayton held that job until an automobile accident left him a T-5 paraplegic. He was honorably discharged from the Navy not long after and left wondering what would come next.

“I was injured when I was 21,” says Crayton. “After going through the post-injury depression and all of that, I adapted the attitude that I can do it. That attitude ultimately gave me my life.”

Crayton spent his first few post-injury years a recluse, desperately trying to regain control of his new life.

“I had no freedom, no independence, I didn’t drive, I wouldn’t go anywhere unless someone took me,” says Crayton. “After the change, I got out, found my own apartment, learned to drive and had a couple of jobs before discovering Paralyzed Veterans of America, which lead me to where I am now.”

Like so many veterans before him, Crayton discovered the resources and camaraderie of Paralyzed Veterans of America (Paralyzed Veterans) and it wasn’t long before he fully inserted himself into the Gateway Chapter. There, he learned about the organization, traveled to Washington, D.C., for legislation testimony and quickly rose in the ranks of the organization ultimately serving as chapter secretary, president and national director.

Crayton became the first African-American national president during the Paralyzed Veterans’s 63rd Annual Convention in Miami.

It was an opportunity to better the organization and help other people,” says Crayton. “But I don’t think I had a very successful presidency to be honest with you. I look back on it now and believe the things I was trying to accomplish were right, but I just went about it in the wrong way. I tried to be responsive to everybody … no one was too big and no one was too small for my time.”

Crayton wouldn’t change a thing and credits Paralyzed Veterans for helping shape the man he is today.

“Being with the Marines certainly taught me discipline,” says Crayton. “I’m not sure it [military service] affected my life as I am now. I give the credit to Paralyzed Veterans and the positive influence over the man I am now. Paralyzed Veterans taught me many skills on being a better leader, how we lobby for the veterans and their benefits and I had a chance to see some of the most prestigious events in and around our nation’s capital.”

As we honor Black History Month, Crayton reflects on the men and women who blazed a trail before him and continues to advocate for education and employment; two of his most passionate platforms.

“Growing up, I heard a great deal about Booker T. Washington, who was before my time, but nonetheless was a strong voice of the African-Americans post-slavery,” says Crayton. “Of course, I enjoyed hearing the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, and as time went on I learned about some of the athletes and the contributions that they made, such as Joe Louis, who was known for his contributions to the United Service Organization (USO). I absolutely enjoyed the stories of the Tuskegee Airmen and had the honor of meeting a few of them over the years. They blazed the trail for other African-American pilots.”

Crayton encourages young African-Americans to enlist in the military, but to get a military occupational specialty that will benefit a secure civilian livelihood.

During Black History Month, Crayton has a deep appreciation and respect for the men and women who helped blaze a trail for him. He follows their example by advocating for education and employment for African-Americans, which are two of his most passionate platforms.

King once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?” It’s safe to say Crayton has spent his life working on a great answer to King’s question.

Source: Paralyzed Veterans of America

Bob Dole’s Disability Rights Legacy Marked the End of a Bipartisan Era

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Bob Dole at the 2016 Republican National Convention with Mike Pence

By Eric Garcia, The SoapBox

In 1969, Bob Dole gave his maiden speech on the Senate floor on a topic with which he was intimately acquainted. From the moment he lost the use of his right arm and the feeling in his left, in Italy as a soldier in World War II, the challenges of a world not built for disabled people animated both Dole’s life and his political persona: Journalists familiarized readers with his trademark strategies, from holding a pen in his right hand to keep his fingers from splaying to wearing loafers, since he couldn’t tie his shoes. More importantly, the impact of it on his life shaped his ideas and played a role in his own determinations about whom he hired.

In that first address to the Senate, Dole told the story of a man who became a paraplegic and was referred to the state-federal vocational rehabilitation office, which enabled him to get a job as an insurance agent, have a new home, and adopt a child. “It takes place now because the Congress and the federal government initiated and guided a vital, vigorous program of vocational rehabilitation,” he said.

Dole’s praise of a federal government program was surprising given his role as a Republican “hatchet man.” At different points, Dole served as Republican National Committee chairman under Richard Nixon; Gerald Ford’s running mate in 1976; Senate majority leader; and thrice as presidential candidate, his last foray coming in 1996 as the GOP standard-bearer who could not prevent Bill Clinton’s reelection.

At the same time, Dole was a consummate dealmaker whose efforts helped bring about the Americans With Disabilities Act, which he co-sponsored not just with Republicans such as John McCain and Orrin Hatch but with prominent liberal Democrats like Ted Kennedy and Tom Harkin, as well. President George H.W. Bush would sign the bipartisan bill into law.

“The fact that the ADA was bipartisan was hugely important, and Senator Dole was a key player in that,” said Chai Feldblum, the lead attorney on the team that drew up the bill. Feldblum’s words are all the more remarkable considering she more famously worked as the legislative counsel of the American Civil Liberties Union’s AIDS Project, and they illustrate how concern for disabled people once spanned the wider political spectrum, from liberals like her to Republicans like Justin Dart and Evan Kemp, who served on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission during the Reagan and Bush administrations.

Dole’s passing on Sunday has allowed Washington, D.C., to engage in one of its favorite activities—reminiscing on the days when bipartisanship reigned; the ADA looms large as a prime example. But it also forces a round of uncomfortable questions, regarding the way the Republican Party has strayed from Dole’s heyday, abandoning the positions on disability rights it once proudly defended.

“The history of the Republican [Party] writ large in the area of civil rights, up until recently, there’s been a strong and sustained advocacy for civil rights,” said Tom Ridge, who was a Republican congressman at the time of the ADA’s passage and is now chairman of the National Organization on Disability. Ridge’s words about the decline of bipartisanship on disability aren’t empty “party of Lincoln” platitudes: Dole voted for the Civil Rights Act as well as the Voting Rights Act; he brokered a compromise that helped extend the Voting Rights Act in 1982 with future ADA collaborator Kennedy.

“Regrettably, there hasn’t been as strong a champion within the Republican Party since he left the Congress,” said Ridge.

The arc of Dole’s political career traces the trajectory of a Republican Party that largely gave up on governing in favor of promulgating a scorched-earth form of politics as America entered the 1990s. Similarly, as the Republican Party has shifted from being a party that focuses on using government to enact conservative policies to a party that simply wants to defang government, it might mean the end of the old way of disability advocacy and the successes it wrought.

Dole’s introduction to disability was inextricably linked to a desire for bipartisanship. As he recovered at Percy Jones Hospital, Dole met future Democratic Senators Phil Hart and Daniel Inouye. His recovery would also guide Capitol Hill’s debates in a direction favorable to the disabled.

“I was a nurse, and he liked me because a lot of nurses helped him get through his disability after World War II,” said Maureen “Mo” West, who was Dole’s adviser on disability during the debate around the Americans With Disabilities Act, noting that Dole’s chief of staff at the time, Sheila Burke, was a nurse as well. Before that, West had worked for Senator Lowell Weicker, the liberal Republican from Connecticut who introduced the ADA in 1988, who conservatives loathed so much, William F. Buckley endorsed Joe Lieberman to replace him.

But Washington’s recherche du temps perdu betrays the fact that even at that time, disability advocates did not receive a smooth ride in the halls of power. In fact, when the initial legislation for the ADA was first introduced in 1988, Dole had his own concerns—such as the removal of the “undue hardship” criteria for reasonable accommodations, what was considered a public accommodation, and what those public accommodations would be required to do in terms of retrofitting—despite being a co-sponsor.

And gauzy memories about the ADA’s passage gloss over those whom the law left behind. The ADA specifically excluded homosexuality from protection against discrimination, and lumped it in with “transvestism, transsexualism, pedophilia, exhibitionism, voyeurism, gender identity disorders not resulting from physical impairments, or other sexual behavior disorders.”

The bipartisanship of the era didn’t always lead to laudatory results when conservative Democrats teamed up with right-wing Republicans. This was the case when Senator Jesse Helms, the racist and homophobic senator, attempted to rekindle an amendment from conservative Democratic Representative Jim Chapman from Texas that would have allowed for restaurants to shift people with diseases such as AIDS from working in food-handling jobs.

The conservative movement, unmoved by the spirit of bipartisanship that guided the ADA’s passage, vehemently denounced the law. Upon its signing, National Review chided the law in a piece titled “Disabling the GOP.” Conservatives lumped the ADA together with a litany of other bills passed contemporaneously, such as the Clean Air Amendments Act and the 1991 Civil Rights Act. Ed Feulner, the founder of the Heritage Foundation, decried all three pieces of legislation as “a new onslaught of economic and social nannyism.”

Click here to read the full article on The SoapBox.

Pediatricians say the mental health crisis among kids has become a national emergency

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Pediatricians say the mental health crisis among kids has become a national emergency

By , NPR

A coalition of the nation’s leading experts in pediatric health has issued an urgent warning declaring the mental health crisis among children so dire that it has become a national emergency.

The declaration was penned by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Children’s Hospital Association and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, which together represent more than 77,000 physicians and 200 children’s hospitals.

In a letter released Tuesday, the groups say that rates of childhood mental health concerns were already steadily rising over the past decade. But the coronavirus pandemic, as well as the issue of racial inequality, they write, has exacerbated the challenges.

“This worsening crisis in child and adolescent mental health is inextricably tied to the stress brought on by COVID-19 and the ongoing struggle for racial justice and represents an acceleration of trends observed prior to 2020,” the declaration from the pediatric groups says.

When it comes to suicide in particular, the groups point to data showing that by 2018, suicide was the second-leading cause of death for people between the ages of 10 and 24.

Teenage girls have emerged particularly at risk. From February to March of this year, emergency department visits for suspected suicide attempts were up 51% for girls ages 12 to 17, compared with the same period in 2019, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Overall, the data shows that in 2020, the percentage of emergency department visits for mental health emergencies rose by 24% for children between the ages of 5 and 11 and 31% for those 12 to 17, compared with 2019.

“Young people have endured so much throughout this pandemic and while much of the attention is often placed on its physical health consequences, we cannot overlook the escalating mental health crisis facing our patients,” the American Academy of Pediatrics’ president, Dr. Lee Savio Beers, said in a statement.

The crisis affects children of color even more
The declaration from the pediatric groups notes that the disruptions children and families have experienced during the pandemic have disproportionately affected children of color.

A recent study in the journal Pediatrics showed that 140,000 children have lost a parent or grandparent caregiver to COVID-19. A majority of those children were kids of color.

The study showed that, compared with white children, Native American children were 4.5 times more likely to have lost a primary caregiver. Black children were 2.4 times more likely, and Hispanic children nearly twice as likely.

“We are caring for young people with soaring rates of depression, anxiety, trauma, loneliness, and suicidality that will have lasting impacts on them, their families, their communities, and all of our futures,” said Dr. Gabrielle Carlson, president of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Click here to read the full article on NPR.

Senate will grill tech execs after report that Instagram can harm teens’ mental health

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Senate will grill tech execs after report that Instagram can harm teens’ mental health

By Lauren Feiner, CNBC

A Senate panel plans to bring tech executives back to Capitol Hill following a revealing report from The Wall Street Journal about the impact of Facebook’s Instagram platform on teens’ mental health.

Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., ranking member of the Senate Commerce subcommittee on consumer protection, announced the hearing in an interview on CNBC’s “Closing Bell.” Blackburn said the hearing would take place in a couple weeks and would include representatives from Facebook, TikTok, Twitter, Snap and Google-owned YouTube.

A spokesperson for Blackburn said a hearing date and the specific attendees from the companies have not yet been confirmed.

The Journal’s report, which the outlet said was based on internal documents from Facebook, revealed that the company had been aware of significant negative impacts of its photo-sharing Instagram app on teenage girls. At a March hearing, CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified in response to a question about children and mental health, that research he’s seen shows that “using social apps to connect with other people can have positive mental-health benefits.”

While the research cited in the Journal’s report did not show entirely negative effects, it seemed to cut against Facebook’s narrative about mental health. That angered several lawmakers across parties and chambers of Congress, some of whom called for Facebook to abandon plans to create a child-focused Instagram product.

“What we know is a lot of this anecdotal information that we had from parents, teachers, pediatricians about the harms of social media to children, that Facebook was aware of this,” Blackburn said. “They chose not to make this public.”

Blackburn said her staff met Friday with a whistleblower who has worked for Facebook, and who had access to documents on which the Journal reported.

Although both the House and the Senate have hauled tech CEOs to Congress several times over the past couple years, Blackburn said she expects this hearing to stand out because of its bipartisan nature. She said she is working with the subcommittee’s chair, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., on the effort and the two will look at rules around how social media is able to market to children, as well as statutes meant to protect them online, like the Children’s Online Privacy Protection (COPPA) Rule.

Representatives for Blumenthal did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“We are determined to do something in a bipartisan way that is going to protect our children in the virtual space, that will allow them to be able to use the internet, do Zoom school if they need to, do research, but to be protected and to have their privacy protected when they are online,” Blackburn said.

Click here to read the full article on CNBC.

Biden admin says ‘long COVID-19’ could qualify as a disability

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Biden pictured with the american flag. The Biden administration on Monday released new guidance on how to support those experiencing long-term symptoms of COVID-19 as part of a broader effort to recognize the 31st anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

BY Morgan Chalfant, The Hill

The Biden administration on Monday released new guidance on how to support those experiencing long-term symptoms of COVID-19 as part of a broader effort to recognize the 31st anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Justice rolled out guidance making clear that symptoms of “long COVID-19” could qualify as a disability under the federal civil rights law.

The guidance makes clear that long COVID-19 is not automatically a disability and that an “individualized assessment” is necessary to determine whether a person’s long-term symptoms or condition “substantially limits a major life activity.”

The Administration for Community Living at HHS also released a guide outlining services provided by community-based organizations to help individuals experiencing long-term symptoms after contracting COVID-19.

Additionally, the Education Department released a resource document including information about the responsibilities of schools and public agencies when it comes to providing services and “reasonable modifications” for children and students for whom long-term COVID-19 symptoms qualify as a disability.

Finally, the Labor Department launched a new webpage that includes information and links for workers experiencing long COVID-19, like information on employee benefits.

Most individuals who contract COVID-19 recover and see symptoms dissipate within a few weeks of experiencing effects from the virus. However, some individuals who have contracted the coronavirus have reported experiencing new or ongoing symptoms a month or more after testing positive for the virus.

Research released by the nonprofit FAIR Health last month found that a quarter of people who had COVID-19 sought care for new medical problems at least a month after being diagnosed with the virus.

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The Biden administration on Monday released new guidance on how to support those experiencing long-term symptoms of COVID-19 as part of a broader effort to recognize the 31st anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Justice rolled out guidance making clear that symptoms of “long COVID-19” could qualify as a disability under the federal civil rights law.

The guidance makes clear that long COVID-19 is not automatically a disability and that an “individualized assessment” is necessary to determine whether a person’s long-term symptoms or condition “substantially limits a major life activity.”

The Administration for Community Living at HHS also released a guide outlining services provided by community-based organizations to help individuals experiencing long-term symptoms after contracting COVID-19.

Additionally, the Education Department released a resource document including information about the responsibilities of schools and public agencies when it comes to providing services and “reasonable modifications” for children and students for whom long-term COVID-19 symptoms qualify as a disability.

Finally, the Labor Department launched a new webpage that includes information and links for workers experiencing long COVID-19, like information on employee benefits.

Most individuals who contract COVID-19 recover and see symptoms dissipate within a few weeks of experiencing effects from the virus. However, some individuals who have contracted the coronavirus have reported experiencing new or ongoing symptoms a month or more after testing positive for the virus.

Research released by the nonprofit FAIR Health last month found that a quarter of people who had COVID-19 sought care for new medical problems at least a month after being diagnosed with the virus.

Biden celebrates anniversary of Americans with Disabilities Act
French parliament approves COVID-19 passes for restaurants, domestic…
The White House announced the new resources on Monday morning, before Biden and Vice President Harris were slated to deliver remarks in the White House Rose Garden commemorating the 31st anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Then-President George H.W. Bush signed the sweeping civil rights act into law in 1990. Biden, who at the time was a Democratic senator representing Delaware, co-sponsored the legislation, which prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in a wide range of settings, including places of employment, schools, community living and transportation.

Click here to read the full article on The Hill.

A More Perfect Union: Celebrating Inclusivity at Inauguration

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Amanda Gorman speaking behind podium at inauguration

By Natalie Rodgers

This year’s presidential inauguration was different than any other inauguration in the past. Not only did the United States swear in its first woman Vice President and introduce the world to the youngest inaugural poet, this year’s ceremony could arguably be one of the most inclusive ceremonies to date for people with disabilities.

While this may not come as a shock given President Biden’s early promises of disability inclusion throughout his campaign, the ceremony not only attempted to cater to the specific needs of varying disabilities, but also showed the country how we should be better considering this kind of inclusion in our day-to-day lives.

Before the ceremony had even begun, the inaugural committee made several livestreams available with different types of translations and accessibilities. This was to ensure that everyone could watch the inauguration live without feeling excluded from any part of it. The committee displayed these livestreams on the “Accessible Inauguration” webpage which offered live coverage accompanied by closed captions, audio descriptions, ASL translations and even Cued Speech transliteration. These kinds of resources were also made available for the children’s inauguration event that was hosted by Keke Palmer.

Unfortunately, the website did experience many technical difficulties that rendered some of the day’s events inaccessible such as incorrect captions and cut away shots to show the audience rather than ASL interpretations of the Pledge of Allegiance that was done by Fire Captain Andrea Hall.

But despite those cuts, Hall’s leadership through the Pledge of Allegiance proved to be just as integral and important to including disability in the narrative. In a conscious effort of inclusion, Hall led the Pledge verbally and through American Sign Language, a rarity for the Inauguration.

“I really just wanted to pay homage to the deaf and hard of hearing community,” CBS reported Hall saying, “The words of the pledge are significant not just for us, but for them as well.”

Hall’s signing of the Pledge of Allegiance was also an homage to her late father who was deaf and ensured that the Pledge was one of the first pieces she learned in ASL.

Other forms of representation throughout the ceremony were present, but more subtle. As Reverend Father Leo O’ Donovan prepared to lead the invocation, Missouri Senator Roy Blunt asked the crowd “Stand if you are able.” Advocates for disability inclusion have been trying to encourage the normalization of the sentence for years to include those in wheelchairs or with conditions in which standing was not an option. Though a short moment in the scheme of the event, many took to Twitter to show their appreciation of the phrase’s inclusion, crediting it as one of the most appreciated and notable moments for them.

Other more subtle forms of inclusion could be seen in the performances of the inauguration. After capturing the attention and appreciation of the world through her poem, “The Hill We Climb,” Inaugural poet Amanda Gorman revealed that she has dealt with an auditory processing disorder and a speech impediment for most of her life. Up until a few years ago, Gorman heavily struggled pronouncing words with the “r” or “sh” sounds and used poetry as a way to practice her speaking skills while expressing her thoughts.

“The voice I’m hearing aloud can’t pronounce Rs, can’t pronounce ‘sh.’ It kind of sounds a bit garbled,” Gorman told TODAY. “But I hear this strong, self-assured voice when I am reading this simple text, and what that told me is the power of your inner voice over that which people might hear with their ears.” While many credit Gorman’s poetry as a device for her to overcome her impediment, Gorman claims that she still struggles with her impediment at times and her condition better frames her identity as a storyteller.

Her inclusion in the inauguration is also reflective on President Joe Biden, who has also openly spoken of his own speech impediment, a stutter. President Biden, even with his new position still advocates for the normalization of speech impediments that has inspired others with similar conditions around the world.

Since the beginning of his campaign, President Joe Biden has promised for further inclusion and accessibility to an array of differing abilities. Though his inauguration was not the perfect model for what these changes would look like, it does show the kind of attention to inclusion that needs to continue to better unite the nation.

Sources: TODAY, CBS News, The Verge, CNN

Biden Plan Would End Subminimum Wage, Offer Stimulus Checks To More With Disabilities

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Joe Biden Giving a speech wearing Blue suit and tie

By Disability Scoop

In his first major undertaking, President-elect Joe Biden wants to do away with a decades-old option to pay workers with disabilities less than minimum wage while giving stimulus payments to more people in this population.

Biden unveiled a $1.9 trillion proposal late last week to address the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the economic fallout from it. The so-called American Rescue Plan includes $1,400 in direct payments to many Americans as well as funding to support vaccine distribution, reopen schools and support state and local governments while

(Photo Credit – Alex Wong/Getty Images/TNS)

also extending unemployment benefits and expanding paid leave.

Notably, the plan would provide stimulus payments for adults with disabilities who are considered dependents for tax purposes. These individuals have been disqualified from the previous rounds of direct payments issued by the federal government since the start of the pandemic.

The proposal also calls for eliminating subminimum wage for people with disabilities.

Under a law dating back to 1938, employers are able to receive special 14(c) certificates from the U.S. Department of Labor allowing them to pay individuals with disabilities less than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

But many disability advocates have been pushing for years to end the practice, which they say is outdated and exploitative. Some states and cities have already banned employers from paying subminimum wage and, as a candidate, Biden pledged to support a phaseout of the program.

Read the full article at Disability Scoop. 

How the Child Care for Working Families Act Benefits Children With Disabilities and Their Families

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A child in a wheelchair at the park with his mother

By MK Falgout and Katie Hamm 

More than 1.1 million children under age 6 in the United States receive services for a disability,1 while 2.5 percent of parents of young children have a disability that affects their workforce participation.2

All families, including those with disabilities, benefit from access to affordable child care that will support their children’s development in inclusive and enriching environments. These programs also provide parents with the support they need to thrive. But the dearth3 of inclusive, affordable child care options causes job disruptions for parents of disabled children at twice the rate of those whose children do not have disabilities.4 This fact sheet highlights how the Child Care for Working Families Act provides a comprehensive solution to meet the child care needs of all families.

Families of children with disabilities and the current child care system

The current child care system requires additional public resources to reach all the families who need high-quality services. This lack of public investment results in a mostly private-pay system that marginalizes historically underserved communities.

  • Although 1 in 8 children ages 3 to 5 who is enrolled in an early childhood program has a disability or significant social or emotional challenges,5 nearly 1 in 3 parents of disabled children report that finding available slots is a primary difficulty in accessing child care, compared with 1 in 4 families with nondisabled children. 6
  • Nearly one-third of children with disabilities live in poverty,7 making most licensed child care options nearly impossible to afford.8
  • Children of color are underrepresented in early intervention9 programs through infancy and toddlerhood for reasons pertaining to disproportionate lack of access to quality health care.10
  • New data suggest that in all but six states, no more than 2 percent of children who receive a child care subsidy have a disability.11*
  • Children ages 3 to 5 who have disabilities are 14.5 times more likely to face suspension or expulsion than children without disabilities,12 due in part to the fact that only 1 in 5 early childhood educators and providers report “receiving training on children’s social and emotional development.”13
  • Child care workers, primarily women and disproportionately women of color, earn on average less than $12 an hour,14 and only 1 in 5 early childhood educators receives training on children’s social and emotional development.15 Both of these realities contribute to the inadequate support for providers caring for children with disabilities, given that nearly 10 percent of the early childhood workforce works mostly with children who have disabilities.16

The Child Care for Working Families Act benefits children with disabilities

The Child Care for Working Families Act (CCWFA) creates a new standard for inclusive and accessible child care by investing in communities historically underserved by an underfunded child care system dependent on parental fees to cover the high cost of care.17 Just as importantly, the CCWFA ensures that providers are appropriately compensated for providing quality child care. More specifically, the bill has the following benefits:

  • The CCWFA prioritizes policies and funding that serve disabled children in high-quality, inclusive early learning environments by:
    • Affirming the importance of child care in supporting children with disabilities by setting benchmarks that ensure the system provides care for children with disabilities alongside children without disabilities.
    • Investing in expanding the supply of high-quality, inclusive child care for children with disabilities and infants and toddlers with disabilities.
    • Requiring states to consider the additional cost of providing high-quality and inclusive care to children with disabilities when developing child care provider payment rates, as well as requiring that parents of disabled children are consulted in the process of developing these rates.
    • Requiring states to provide training opportunities for child care providers so that they can learn how to care for children with disabilities and conduct developmental screenings.
    • Prohibiting the use of suspensions, expulsions, and adverse behavioral interventions in all child care settings receiving public funds.
    • Establishing a new funding stream to provide early intervention services in child care settings.
    • Allowing states to prioritize funds to construct or renovate child care, including for providers who are caring for children with disabilities.

Continue on to AmericanProgress.com to read the complete article and to view original sources.

Eligible Voters With Disabilities Increase By Nearly 20%

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People voting at polling booths

As the November election draws near, new research finds that the number of voters with disabilities across the nation has grown exponentially and could make the difference in how races are decided.

There are an estimated 38.3 million eligible voters with disabilities in the U.S., according to a report out this month from the Rutgers University Program for Disability Research. That represents an 19.8% increase since 2008 and outpaces a 12% rise in voters without disabilities during the same period.

Moreover, the researchers noted that when people with disabilities and the family members they live with are factored, disability issues are significant to 28.9% of the electorate.

“The sheer size of the disability electorate makes it clear that people with disabilities and their family members have the potential to swing elections,” said Lisa Schur, a professor in the Department of Labor Studies and Employment Relations at Rutgers and an author of the report. “While their partisan split is similar to that of other citizens, people with disabilities put a higher priority on health care and employment issues, so how candidates deal with those could be decisive.”

The report is based on an analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2014-2018 American Community Survey and Census population projections for 2020-2021.

The new figures suggest that there are more potential voters with disabilities than there are Black or Hispanic voters in this country.

Researchers behind the report cited a surge in turnout among people with disabilities in 2018 and said turnout could be especially strong this year given the expansion of mail-in voting due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Continue on to DisabilityScoop to read the full article. 

Voting could be more difficult for people with disabilities in upcoming presidential election

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Americans queuing at a polling place

Voting is one of our most important civil rights, but it isn’t always accessible for paralyzed veterans and other people with disabilities.

Paralyzed Veterans of America has launched the “Access Your Vote” campaign to help voters plan ahead to avoid problems during a challenging year.

A report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office about voters with disabilities, released on Nov. 2, 2017, found fewer than half of polling locations were accessible during the 2016 presidential election. This year, during the COVID-19 pandemic, things could become even more difficult for voters with disabilities, due to added cleaning and distancing protocols, longer waits, fewer polling locations and the risk of exposure to the virus.

Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act requires state and local governments to ensure people with disabilities have full and equal access to all government-provided services, programs and activities, including the opportunity to vote. However, PVA members have reported barriers to voting in previous elections such as inaccessible sidewalks, insufficient accessible parking and long lines.

“Voting is an important civil right that our veterans have fought to protect. It should be accessible and safe for everyone, including those with disabilities, and PVA is making sure that happens. It’s especially important to help voters make a voting plan in a year that’s complicated by a pandemic,” says David Zurfluh, U.S. Air Force veteran and Paralyzed Veterans of America national president.

PVA represents veterans with spinal cord injury and disease, such as MS and ALS, and is urging all Americans, especially those with disabilities, to make an individual voting plan now by visiting PVA.org/vote for state-specific information, early voting guidelines and a checklist for creating an individual plan.

“People with disabilities absolutely need access to their polls. This is a community of over 60 million Americans, and the only way to ensure our needs are met is to make sure we can cast our votes with reasonable accommodations safely and securely in all 50 states,” says David Zurfluh.

For in-person voting, PVA recommends visiting your polling place ahead of time, so there’s time to report potential problems to local officials.

About Paralyzed Veterans of America
Paralyzed Veterans of America is the only congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated solely for the benefit and representation of veterans with spinal cord injury or disease. For more than 70 years, the organization has ensured that veterans receive the benefits earned through service to our nation; monitored their care in VA spinal cord injury units; and funded research and education in the search for a cure and improved care for individuals with paralysis.

As a life-long partner and advocate for veterans and all people with disabilities, Paralyzed Veterans of America also develops training and career services, works to ensure accessibility in public buildings and spaces, and provides health and rehabilitation opportunities through sports and recreation. With more than 70 offices and 33 chapters, Paralyzed Veterans of America serves veterans, their families and their caregivers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Learn more at pva.org.

Tank Crewmen Saved by One Soldier’s Cell Phone

LinkedIn
Disabled veteran sitting on a hospital bed with a prosthetic leg

By Elaine Sanchez

A year after his accident and the loss of his leg, Spc. Ezra Maes is still amazed at the circumstances that led to his survival. If you ask, he’ll credit his survival to a uniform belt, smartphone and “shockingly good” cell service.

What the 21-year-old soldier fails to mention is the sheer force of will it took for him to stay alive.

“If I didn’t help myself, my crew, no one was going to,” said Maes, now assigned to the Brooke Army Medical Center Warrior Transition Battalion at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas. “I knew I had to do everything I could to survive.”

A year earlier, the Army had deployed Maes, an armor crewman stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, to Poland in support of a joint training mission called Atlantic Resolve. He served as the loader for the main cannon of an M1A2 Abrams tank, a massive 65-ton tank known for its heavy armor and lethal firepower.

Exhausted on the second day of a weeklong rotation in Slovakia, he and two other crew members fell asleep in the tank that evening. He was jolted awake a few hours later by the sudden movement of the tank heading downhill.

“I called out to the driver, ‘Step on the brakes!'” Maes said. “But he shouted back that it wasn’t him.”

The parking brake had failed. The crew quickly initiated emergency braking procedures, but the operational systems were unresponsive due to a hydraulic leak.

The tank was now careening down the hill at nearly 90 mph. “We realized there was nothing else we could do and just held on,” Maes said.

After a few sharp bumps, they crashed into an embankment at full speed. Maes was thrown across the tank, his leg caught in the turret gear. He then felt the full force of the tank turret sliding onto his leg. His initial thought was his leg was broken. His next thought was he needed to get free so he could assist Sgt. Aechere Crump, the gunner, who was bleeding out from a cut on her thigh. The driver, Pfc. Victor Alamo, was pinned up front with a broken back.

“I pushed and pulled at my leg as hard as I could to get loose and felt a sharp tear,” Maes said. “I thought I had dislodged my leg, but when I moved away, my leg was completely gone.”

Freed from the pressure of the turret, the blood poured out of his wound at an alarming rate, but with other lives on the line, Maes pushed his panic and any thought of pain aside. He pulled himself up and into the back of the tank to grab a tourniquet from the medical kit. Halfway there, he began to feel lightheaded from the blood loss.

“I knew I was going into shock,” he said. “All I could think about was no one knows we’re down here. Either I step up or we all die.”

Maes began shock procedures on himself — stay calm, keep heart rate down, elevate lower body — and cinched his belt into a makeshift tourniquet to slow down the heavy bleeding. He called out to Crump, who had staunched her bleeding with a belt tourniquet, to radio for help.

Maes’ heart sank when Crump said the radio wasn’t working.

But then he heard an incredible sound: his cell phone was ringing.

Maes’ phone was the only one that wasn’t broken and the only one with working cell phone service. With one leg cut and the other broken, Crump crawled to reach Maes’ phone and threw it down to him. He unlocked the phone and sent his friend a text. Help was on the way.

His last memory of that location was his sergeant major running up the hill carrying his leg on his shoulder. “I wanted to keep it, see if it could be reattached, but it was pulverized,” Maes recalled.

Maes, who had also broken his ankle, pelvis in three places, and shoulder, was rushed to a local hospital, his first helicopter ride, before being flown to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany and then on to BAMC. Between an infection he picked up overseas and nearly daily surgeries to fight it, he spent four months in intensive care.

“I feel super lucky,” he said. “My crew all does. So many things could have gone wrong. Besides my leg, we all walked away pretty much unscathed.”

A year later, Maes is immersed in physical and occupational therapy at the Center for the Intrepid, BAMC’s outpatient rehabilitation center. Maes works out intensely with Candace Pellock, a physical therapy assistant. Against the backdrop of the hospital, he moves across the gravel on crutches with an ever-present smile despite the Texas heat and strain of balancing on uneven ground.

It’s all in preparation to receive his long-term prosthetic leg through a cutting-edge procedure called osseointegration. For this procedure, not unlike a dental implant, BAMC surgeons will implant a titanium rod in the bone of Maes’ residual limb, rather than a traditional socket, to attach the prosthesis.

While he was having a tough time emotionally before the accident, Maes now sees each day as a gift. It’s a second chance he’d like to share with others who may be having a tough time post-injury or trauma.

“When something like this happens, it’s easy to give up because your life won’t be the same, and you’re not wrong,” he said. “Life will take a 180, but it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Don’t let it hinder you from moving forward.”

At 21, Maes has a new attitude and a new lease on life. With combat arms in the rearview mirror and inspired by the CFI’s care, he plans to become a prosthetist and help others regain their mobility.

But what he doesn’t plan to do is switch his phone service.

As he puts it, “My cell phone saved my life.”

Source: defense.gov

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Upcoming Events

  1. City Career Fair
    January 19, 2022 - November 4, 2022
  2. The Small Business Expo–Multiple Event Dates
    February 17, 2022 - December 1, 2022
  3. CSUN Center on Disabilities 2022 Conference
    March 13, 2022 - March 18, 2022

Upcoming Events

  1. City Career Fair
    January 19, 2022 - November 4, 2022
  2. The Small Business Expo–Multiple Event Dates
    February 17, 2022 - December 1, 2022
  3. CSUN Center on Disabilities 2022 Conference
    March 13, 2022 - March 18, 2022