Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Unethical Ad Campaign Action Alert

The British charity Action for Children is currently showing a television advertisement that depicts an autistic boy, "Dan," as controlled by a monster that causes him to "lash out." The ad presents a harmful and misleading view of the autistic population by suggesting that Dan's autism is monstrous, that violent behavior is characteristic of autism, and that there is a non-autistic child somewhere inside the monster who needs to be rescued.

To send letters to the charity and to British authorities protesting this unethical ad campaign, visit the Action for Children Unethical Ad Campaign Alert on ASAN's action page at The page provides a basic letter that can be personalized to express the writer's individual views.

Update: The ad has been withdrawn, thanks to all who wrote to object.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Disability Recommendations for Obama

A coalition of disability advocacy organizations, including ASAN, has presented policy recommendations to the incoming Obama administration on disability issues:

Disability Groups Send Recommendations to Obama

Dear President-elect Obama,

Congratulations on capturing the hearts, minds, and hopes of our nation! As grassroots, community-based, consumer-controlled disability organizations, which collectively represent over 50 million Americans with the full spectrum of disabilities, we look forward to working with you and your administration to make cost-effective policy changes to enhance the lives of and restore the civil liberties Americans with disabilities.

Attached you will find nine summaries of the top policy issues facing Americans with disabilities. Taking action on your commitment and these policy measures will not only benefit citizens with disabilities, our nation’s wounded warriors, and the ever-growing aging population, it will benefit all Americans and save our government millions of dollars as individuals with disabilities become full participants in society.

They include:

· Employment: Reversing the persistently high percentages of people with disabilities who are not working but are ready, willing and able to work;

· Education: Increasing access and opportunities for physical activity, and improving quality;

· Health Care: Improving access and decreasing disparities and inequities;

· Home and Community-based Services (HCBS): Promoting effective community-based services as alternatives to costly nursing homes and other institutions and increase the FMAP to states;

· Disability Research: Promoting a quality of life and participation-based research agenda;

· Civil Rights: Reinvigorating civil rights enforcement, extending access requirements to new technologies, and continuing to restore protections stripped away by hostile courts;

· Human Rights: Protecting human rights of individuals with disabilities at home and abroad;

· Emergency Preparedness, Response and Recovery Needs: Planning, coordinating, and providing resources to support people with disabilities before, during, and after a crisis; and

· Genetic Science and Technology: Promoting ethical use of new technologies.

Like you, we stand and sit on the shoulders of so many who have come before us. As our nation approaches the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 2010, we embrace the disability rights principle, “Nothing About Us, Without Us.” For too long others claimed the need to speak for us, but no other group – professionals or relatives – speak for us.

Additionally, we urge you to embrace the fundamental principles for sustainable change, which are essential elements to building healthy, resilient, empowered communities. As you move forward with deliberate speed and consideration, we urge your administration to:

· Provide oversight of federal agency public policy, regulatory, and enforcement actions, and collaborate with consumer and community-based disability organizations as partners to better serve the ever-expanding population of more than 50 million Americans with disabilities;

· Hire qualified professionals with disabilities, who have expertise in policy areas, throughout the administration, including a Special Assistant to the President on Disability Policy;

· Include individuals with disabilities in policy formation in all areas addressed by the administration, and integrate representatives of our community on all advisory boards of all major agencies;

· Provide services that serve people with disabilities across the life span, from cradle to grave, and all those with increased needs for health care, health promotion, and long-term services and community-based supports;

· Incorporate consumer-directed services and include consumers in policy development;

· Embrace the disability experience as part of culturally competent policy and diversity at all levels of planning, policy formulation, implementation, and evaluation; and

· Focus on “universal design” as a cost-effective innovative way to enhance the quality of life and level of participation of all Americans in community life and incorporate it into infrastructure changes in the economic stimulus package so we upgrade the infrastructure for all to use;

Thank you for your support of the need for the federal government to be “diligent about making sure the states enforce the rights affirmed by the Olmstead decision.” Enabling people with disabilities to live independently in their own homes and communities, rather than being forced into costly Medicaid-funded nursing homes and other institutions will ensure civil liberties, enhance the quality of life and full participation of all Americans by creating stronger, sustainable communities of inclusion and acceptance to honor the 10th Anniversary of the Olmstead decision.

As a community of individuals with disabilities, we ask for nothing more than what other Americans expect and already have. We seek inclusion. We seek a voice for the disability rights message in the change you create. As you create more jobs for Americans, include jobs for Americans with disabilities. As you improve education for America’s students, include students with disabilities. As you improve the healthcare system, include the healthcare needs of individuals with disabilities. As you restore civil rights to Americans, include the civil rights of individuals with disabilities. To paraphrase your now immortal words, – We are not a nation of disabled and non-disabled Americans. We are the United States of America.

We stand ready to work with you and look forward to an opportunity to discuss our priorities with you personally in the coming months.


American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD)

Access Living

American Disabled for Attendant Programs Today (ADAPT)

Autistic Self Advocacy Network

Boston Center for Independent Living (BCIL)

California Foundation for Independent Living Centers (CFILC)

Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF)

Generations Ahead

Little People of America

Metro-West Center for Independent Living (MWCIL)

National Association of the Deaf (NAD)

National Coalition for Disability Rights (NCDR)

National Coalition of Mental Health Consumer Survivor Organizations

National Council on Independent Living (NCIL)

National Empowerment Center

National Federation of the Blind (NFB)

Self Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE)

Special Olympics

Texas State Independent Living Council (TX SILC)

World Institute on Disability (WID)

For Policy Recommendations on each policy issue click links above

Ari Ne’eman
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network
1660 L Street, NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC 20036

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Workplace Accommodations

Dayton attorney Matthew D. Stokely of the law firm Altick & Corwin recently gave a presentation on the 2008 amendments to the Americans with Disabilities Act, which will provide much more protection from disability discrimination in America's workplaces. Mr. Stokely noted that the more expansive language in the amended act will benefit workers with developmental disabilities, who filed very few charges of discrimination under the previous version of the law, and that many people are still uncertain as to the specifics of how to provide accommodations for such workers.

ASAN Southwest Ohio contacted Mr. Stokely to offer assistance in advising his employer clients on ways to provide accommodations for workers with developmental disabilities. In many instances, such a worker may need an adjustment to the workplace environment in order to be more productive and comfortable. For example, an autistic worker may be very productive in a quiet location with minimal distraction but is likely to have difficulty focusing in a busy office with a great deal of conversation and interruption. Accommodations for workers with developmental disabilities often are easy to implement, at little or no cost to the employer.

Mr. Stokely replied that he appreciated the email and would be happy to discuss such matters. In addition, he mentioned that he also represents individuals in employment discrimination matters. His contact information is listed below, for those who may be interested:

Matthew D. Stokely
Altick & Corwin Co., LPA
1700 One South Main St.
Dayton, OH 45402

Edit: Here is a link (thanks to Dora at the autism blog) with useful suggestions for accommodation of autistic workers:

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Recommendations for the Obama Transition Team‏

ASAN has presented recommendations to the incoming Obama administration regarding policy priorities for autism issues. A statement by ASAN President Ari Ne'eman discussing these recommendations is posted below:


This past Friday, we met with representatives from the Office of the President-Elect on Autism Policy. The meeting was attended by representatives from the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network, Easter Seals, TASH, the Marino Foundation, Autism Speaks and the Autism Society of America. At the request of the Office of the President-elect, we presented to the new administration our top three policy priorities for the coming year: 1) Supporting and Empowering autistic adults, 2) Ending School Abuse and Ensuring a Free and Appropriate Public Education for Every Student, and 3) Balancing the Research Agenda in Support of Quality of Life. You can read our recommendations to the new Administration on our website and we encourage you to post them on your blogs, listservs and elsewhere.

Although these are our top three priorities, they do not represent our only action items and we are pleased to report that the incoming administration expressed a strong interest in remaining in continuous contact on these and other issues. It is absolutely essential that we ensure that autistic self-advocates have a voice at the policy table and we will continue to keep you up to date as we advocate for the autistic community.
Nothing About Us, Without Us!
Ari Ne'eman
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network
1660 L Street, NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC 20036