After understanding their immense value to those affected by autism, we are pleased to announce HICKIES - the no-tie shoelace replacement - as our newest Business Supporter. Together we have launched a donation campaign to aid in the education, development, and support of those affected by autism. In order to take part and receive a 20% discount on your purchase, please visit www.hickies.com and enter coupon code AWARENESS at checkout. HICKIES will donate 25% to the Autism Society for all purchases made on www.hickies.com using the code AWARENESS.
Also, please be sure to check out the HICKIES autism campaign video. It's pretty cool!
The Autism Society wants to congratulate the State of Nebraska for launching the ENABLE program. ENABLE is a national program, offering enrollment to qualified individuals with disabilities both in Nebraska and throughout the country. ENABLE allows qualified individuals with disabilities to save up to $14,000 a year in an ABLE account without jeopardizing their eligibility for federally-funded, means-tested benefits, such as Social Security and Medicaid. The funds in the account can be used for disability-related expenses that assist the beneficiary in increasing and/or maintaining his or her health, independence or quality of life.Millions of individuals with disabilities and their families are often relegated to a life of poverty as a result of not being allowed to build even the most modest levels of resources. Individuals receiving supports through Social Security, Medicaid and other publicly-funded programs are often disqualified from those supports if they have more than $2,000 worth of resources or assets. Now, with the launch of nationwide ABLE programs, individuals with disabilities and their families will be able to better secure their financial futures and help offset the often significant financial challenges that can accompany living with a disability.
For more information on ENABLE and how to enroll, please visit http://enablesavings.com.
For more information related to ABLE programs and accounts in general, and for the latest news regarding other state programs, please visit the ABLE National Resource Center at www.ablenrc.org.
Disabled people have significant protections when they rent living space. First, when you are seeking a rental, landlords are not allowed to ask whether you have a disability or illness, or ask to see your medical records. After moving in, your landlord may have to provide you with accommodations, at the landlord's expense, and your landlord may have to allow you to make reasonable modifications to your living unit at your own expense.
Who Is Considered Disabled?The federal Fair Housing Act and Fair Housing Amendments Act (42 U.S. Code §§ 3601-3619, 3631) prohibit discrimination against people who:
The policy behind this rule is simple: No matter how well-intentioned, the landlord cannot make decisions about where and how you will live on the property that he would not make were you not disabled. For example, if there are two units for rent -- one on the ground floor and one three stories up -- the landlord must show both units to an applicant who uses a wheelchair, however reasonable he thinks it would be for the person to consider only the ground floor unit.
Mental or Emotional ImpairmentsIf you had, or have mental or emotional impairments that make you disabled, or if you appear to have them, you must be evaluated by the landlord on the basis of your financial stability and history as a tenant, not on the basis of your mental health. A landlord may reject you only if he can point to specific instances of past behavior that would make you dangerous to others (such as information from a previous landlord that you repeatedly threatened or assaulted other residents). If you cannot meet the good-tenant criteria that the landlord applies to all applicants (such as a minimum rent-to-income ratio), you may be rejected on that basis, though landlords must consider a proffered cosigner if you are otherwise qualified for the rental but for your income.
Disabled Tenants' Right to Accommodations by the LandlordLandlords must accommodate the needs of disabled tenants, within reason, at the landlord's own expense (42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3)(B)). As a disabled tenant, you may expect your landlord to reasonably adjust rules, procedures, or services in order to give you an equal opportunity to use and enjoy your dwelling unit or a common space. Accommodations can include such things as parking: If the landlord provides parking in the first place, providing a close-in, spacious parking space would be an accommodation for a tenant who uses a wheelchair.
Does your landlord's duty to accommodate disabled tenants mean that you can expect every rule and procedure to be changed at your request? No. Although landlords are expected to accommodate "reasonable" requests, they need not undertake changes that would seriously impair their ability to run their business. For example, if an applicant who uses crutches prefers the third-story apartment in a walk-up building to the one on the ground floor, the landlord does not have to rip the building apart to install an elevator. That expense would be unreasonable.
Disabled Tenants' Right to Make ModificationsLandlords must allow disabled tenants to make reasonable modifications to their living unit or common areas at their expense, if needed for the person to comfortably and safely live in the unit. (42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3)(A).) You have the right to modify your living space to the extent necessary to make the space safe and comfortable, as long as the modifications will not make the unit unacceptable to the next tenant, or if you agree and are financially able to undo the modification when you leave.
Examples of modifications undertaken by a disabled tenant include:
Proof of Need for Accommodation or ModificationLandlords are entitled to ask for proof that the accommodation or modification you have requested will address your needs. For some disabilities -- for example, installing a ramp to accommodate a wheelchair -- the solutions are obvious. But other disabilities, especially mental ones, are not obvious, and their accommodation isn't either -- for example, removing doors to accommodate a person who is fearful of closed spaces. Without some proof, your landlord has no way of knowing whether your request is legitimate or a ruse to obtain special treatment.
If you want a specific accommodation or modification and your disability is not obvious (or if you anticipate an argument with your landlord regarding the necessity of what you have proposed), have your proof ready before you make your request. Ask your physician or therapist for a letter attesting that you need what are asking for and that it will meet your needs. To protect your privacy, carefully explain to the physician or other writer that he need not explain the disability; he need only certify that the changes you would like are appropriate to your situation.
For all the legal and practical information you need to protect your rights as a renter, no matter what state you live in, get Every Tenant's Legal Guide, by Marcia Stewart and Janet Portman (Nolo).
June 14, 2016
The ABLE National Resource Center is excited to congratulate the State of Tennessee on the launch of the country’s second ABLE program. ABLE TN is a national program, offering enrollment to qualified individuals with disabilities both in Tennessee and throughout the country.
ABLE TN allows qualified individuals with disabilities to save up to $14,000 a year in an ABLE account without jeopardizing their eligibility for federally-funded means tested benefits, such as Social Security and Medicaid. The funds in the account can be used for disability-related expenses that assist the beneficiary in increasing and/or maintaining his or her health, independence or quality of life.
Millions of individuals with disabilities and their families are often relegated to a life of poverty as a result of not being allowed to build even the most modest levels of resources. Individuals receiving supports through Social Security, Medicaid and other publically-funded programs are often disqualified from those supports if they have more than $2,000 worth of resources or assets. Now, with the launch of nationwide ABLE programs, individuals with disabilities and their families will be able to take a step to better secure their financial futures and to help offset the often significant financial challenges that can accompany living with a disability.
ABLE TN focuses on efforts to ensure minimal costs associated with establishing and maintaining an ABLE account. Total annual asset-based fees range from 0 percent to 0.63 percent, depending on the investment selections held within an account. There are no sales or distribution charges or fixed account maintenance fees associated with ABLE TN accounts. The total annual asset-based fee includes the underlying investment expenses and program management fee. The annual asset-based fee is divided over 12 months and applied to the account balance at the end of each month.
ABLE TN and the Ohio STABLE Account program are currently the only two programs enrolling beneficiaries in the country, and they are doing so only via their online portals. However, we expect several other states, including Nebraska, Florida and Utah, to be launching their ABLE account programs in the very near future. In fact, both Nebraska (a national plan) and Florida (an in-state only plan) are expected to launch prior to July 1st.
For more information on ABLE TN and how to enroll, please visit www.abletn.gov.
Earlier this month, the Autism Society participated in a briefing on successful employment outcomes for youth with significant disabilities. The program was hosted by the Collaboration to Promote Self-Determination (CPSD), a coalition of 10 disability organizations, including the Autism Society, that advocate for the "modernization of the federal adult system of services and supports for persons with disabilities". The event coincided with the release of The Implications of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act for Seamless Transition of Youth with Significant Disabilities, a policy brief prepared by Richard G. Luecking, Ed.D. for CPSD.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) is studying the services needed by youth and early intervention services for children on the spectrum. The study is commissioned out of the response of Representative Christopher Smith's office who we worked very closely with to make sure this happened. The first part of the GAO study has been released and finds that federal programs provide a variety of intervention services to young children with autism. The second part of the GAO study on services needed by youth with autism who are transitioning to adulthood will be released in August.
The Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) wants your input to help identify priority topics for inclusion in the 2016 IACC Strategic Plan for ASD. The new plan will cover research, services and policy issues related to the 7 Questions covered in the IACC Strategic Plan. Click here to submit your comments. The comment period will be open from June 15, 2016 - July 29, 2016.
If you or your child has a professional diagnosis of autism, the Autism Society invites you to learn more about SPARK, a new online research study sponsored by the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative. The mission of SPARK is clear: speed up research and advance understanding of autism by creating the nation’s largest autism study. Joining SPARK is simple – register online and provide a DNA sample via a saliva collection kit in the comfort of your own home. Visit www.SPARKforAutism.org. Together, we can help spark a better future for all individuals and families affected by autism.
You may have already heard that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has proposed to ban the use of electrical stimulation devices to treat aggressive or self-injurious behavior. The FDA has determined that these devices present an unreasonable and substantial risk of illness or injury. The proposed ban on use would encompass both existing and future devices. The Autism Society of America will be submitting written comments on this proposed ban, but really know that they would like to hear from YOU! We would like to encourage you to take some time to review the proposed rule and submit your own comments.
The deadline for comments is May 25, 2016. For more information, please view the Federal Register display notice and submit a formal comment or go to the FDA Medical Device Bans webpage.
Many tools exist to turn a house into a safe, child-proof home. But beyond safety, other challenges exist when it comes to parents and siblings sharing space with a child on the autism spectrum. As an architect, and the mother of a son with autism, I’ve combined my experience to develop creative yet simple design ideas that help reduce conflict between children with ASD and their family members. If you are designing a brand new home, or considering a renovation, aside from implementing ADA strategies such as wider door openings, here’s a list of items to consider as you design building plans.