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Friday, July 31, 2015

About 20 percent of Amerians have a disability, USA Today says CDC reports

(posted by JERRY WOLFFE)

CDC: 1 in 5 American adults live with a disability

Jennifer Calfas, USA TODAY9:54 a.m. EDT July 31, 2015



One in five American adults have at least one kind of disability, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released Thursday.

The study, drawn from 2013 data, says 53 million Americans have a disability.

“We know disability types and related challenges can vary,” said Elizabeth Courtney-Long, a health scientist with CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. “In order to understand and address their needs, we need to understand their diverse circumstances. This report provides a snapshot into that.”

The findings come days after the 25th anniversary of the implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits the discrimination of someone because of his or her disability in the workplace, transportation, telecommunications, and places of public accommodation, said Jerry Wolffe, an ADA Phase II Implementer who was trained by DOJ and EEOC to help implement and teach the law after it was signed 25 years ago.

The researchers defined a disability as a self-reported impairment in one or more of five areas: vision, cognition, mobility, self-care or independent living. For people to have one or several of these disabilities, the study says they have to identify with the specific qualifications the researchers defined in questions.

The study defines a disability with vision as blindness or difficulty in seeing with glasses on. A disability for the cognition category means having a hard time with memory or making decisions due to a physical, mental or condition. For mobility, a disability entails having difficulty while climbing stairs. A self-care category means needing help dressing or bathing, and an independent living disability was defined as needing help to run errands.

The study is also the first state-by-state analysis of Americans with disabilities from CDC. The report found Southern states often had higher percentages of people with disabilities. For example, in Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee, 31.5%, 31.4% and 31.4%, respectively, of the state adult population has a disability.


Southern states are also more likely to have chronic diseases, including heart disease and diabetes.

The percentage of Americans in Midwestern and Northern states were nearly half those from Southern states. In Minnesota and Alaska, 16.4% and 17.7% of state residents, respectively, reported a disability.

The report also found adults who have lower education levels, lower income or are unemployed were more likely to have a disability. Broken down by race, the study revealed African American and Hispanic Americans were more likely to have a disability than white Americans.

Carol Glazer, president of the National Organization on Disability, a non-profit dedicated to the disabled community in the U.S., told USA TODAY the findings should be viewed to see how disability affects income and unemployment levels.

The non-profit's research has found that 20% of people with disabilities have a job, while 69% of people without disabilities are employed. However, younger Americans with disabilities have nearly the same access to education as children without disabilities, Glazer said. Glazer is optimistic that more educated and disabled individuals will lead to more employment among the disabled community.

"Where education goes, employment will follow," she said.

The CDC partners with several national and state disabilities programs, including the Special Olympics Healthy Athletes program and the National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability, among others.

Courtney-Long, a co-author on the CDC report, said she believes the report will allow public health officials to understand the prevalence of Americans with disabilities.

The Americans with Disabilities Act, which President George H.W. Bush signed into law on July 26, 1990, opened doors to people with disabilities to enter the workforce without discrimination and creation of more accessible locations and working conditions.

“By prohibiting discrimination and ensuring opportunity, the ADA has opened doors and brought dreams within reach,” said Attorney General Loretta Lynch at an anniversary event on July 23. “It has made our workforce stronger and our society more inclusive. And it has enhanced our nation’s understanding and recognition of all that Americans with disabilities can achieve when they are given more and nothing less than an opportunity to contribute on equal terms.”

The findings also come during the Special Olympics World Games held in Los Angeles. About 6,500 athletes from 165 countries gathered this year for the event, which has occurred since 1968. Individuals with intellectual disabilities participate in the Games each year.

“My husband and I have seen Americans unite in so many ways across the country,” said first lady Michelle Obama at the Opening Ceremony on July 25. “These Games are a perfect reflection of that unity. They show us that we’re all in this together – that we can lift up our friends and neighbors, and that we can bring out the best in each other to reach even higher heights.”

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Program to employ those with disabilities found to be fraudulent

From Cable News Network
Jerry Wolffe's Voices Blog
The nation's premier federal program that provides work for people who are severely disabled is mired in widespread corruption, financial fraud and violations of the law, numerous sources tell CNN. And instead of helping the severely disabled find work, the taxpayer-funded agency is at times allowing jobs to be taken away from the disabled, the sources say.
AbilityOne, along with the nonprofit agency that manages its program for the severely disabled, SourceAmerica, are being investigated by authorities for illegal operations, financial fraud, mismanagement, operating in violation of the law, steering of contracts, and possibly obstruction of justice. Several inside sources tell CNN the program is among the worst cases of its type they've ever seen in a federal agency.
CNN has learned the U.S. Department of Justice has begun its own investigation into the various allegations. In addition, at least four separate inspectors general offices have active investigations into AbilityOne and SourceAmerica. The OIG from the General Services Administration, Department of Defense and the Veterans Administration are among those investigating, all led by the Office of Inspector General from the State Department.
What is AbilityOne?
The AbilityOne program was first created with ambitious, altruistic goals by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Congress in 1938 to help give jobs to the blind.
The AbilityOne program funnels about $3 billion per year of taxpayer money to fund contracts for goods and services across the country. For a company to get a contract with AbilityOne, 75 percent of that company's work must be performed by blind or severely disabled employees, who cannot work in a normal job.
But CNN has learned that as many as half the companies contracting with SourceAmerica under AbilityOne may be operating in violation of the law, without enough severely disabled employees, according to sources with knowledge of the program. There are no such allegations of wrongdoing with AbilityOne's contracts for blind people.
What this means is the program responsible for making sure severely disabled people are being hired with taxpayer money through federal contracts is not enforcing or following the law, according to numerous inside sources with knowledge of the organization.