Submitted by Lou Ann Kibbee
The National Council on Independent Living held our conference and annual meeting on July 20th-24th in Washington, D.C. The Annual Awards Banquet was held the evening of July 24th at the Grand Hyatt Ballroom. This year's National Advocacy Award winners were selected by NCIL's leadership and recognized at the Annual Awards Banquet. In presenting the Frank Harkin Memorial Award, created in honor of his brother, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) gave a rousing speech in support of the ADA Amendments Act and the Community Choice Act. And in accepting the award on behalf of his father, Congressman Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), gave an equally moving speech in support of the ADAAA, CCA, and the Mental Health Parity Bill. The National Advocacy Award was presented to ADAPT and was accepted by all of the ADAPTers in the room as they made their way to the stage leading their hallmark rally cry, "Free Our People! Now!" The Diana Vietz Award for youth leadership was accepted by Brad Williams, on behalf of Stephanie Orlando. Brad spoke of Stephanie's outstanding leadership among young advocates in New York. Lee Schulz was recognized for his lifelong commitment to NCIL, IndependenceFirst, and the Independent Living movement in Wisconsin and across the country as he accepted the Max Starkloff Lifetime Achievement Award.
The highlight of the evening for Kansas advocates was when Kelly Buckland, NCIL President presented the Presidents Award to Shannon Jones of the Kansas SILC who thanked her colleagues for their love and support. As everyone in the Kansas disability community knows, Shannon is so deserving of this award. She works hard day after day to assure people with disabilities in Kansas and nationally is guaranteed their freedom and human rights to be contributing citizens and live in the community where they choose. Kansas advocates should all be proud to have Shannon as one of our own!!
Thanks to Tom Olin for the picture of Shannon Jones, Kansas SILC and Kelly Buckland, NCIL President.
By: Anne-Marie Hughey, Legislative & Policy Advocate
"Get Involved in Politics as if Your Life Depended Upon It, Because it Does!" These words were spoken by Justin Dart, father of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and disability rights leader at every speech he gave. Why were these words so important that Justin repeated time and time again? Justin believed that every individual not only had the right and responsibility to vote, he or she also had the right and responsibility to get to know candidates, educate them on issues important to us, and help those candidates, who we believe would fight for our issues on the local, state and/or national level, get elected.
This is a very important election year in Kansas and the Nation. Elections will be held for every seat in state Senate and House, every U.S. Kansas Congressional seat, US Senator Pat Roberts' seat and the position that will determine the course of our nation over the next four years, the President of the United States. On November 4, 2008, every Kansans 18 years of age and older will have the responsibility and opportunity to vote for their candidate.
However, before we choose for whom we want to vote, we all must become informed voters. We need to look at who is running for those offices, and get to know what each candidate stand for.
How do you get involved in politics? There are a number of things you can do to help you become a more informed voter:
•· Get to know the candidates. Contact him or her and talk with them about issues important to you. The Statewide Independent Living Council (SILCK) website has posted some sample questions you can use when you go to public/candidate's forums or speak with them individually on disability and human rights issues. The sample questions can be found at http://www.silck.org/candidate_questions_2008.htm
•· Volunteer to help him or her get elected. Many candidates have limited funds, and are always looking for volunteers to help with mailings, phone calling, putting up election signs, etc. Volunteering will not only help the candidate, it will also help those candidates who have limited knowledge of disability issues get a first hand education. Note: if you work for a non-profit, you are not allowed to do any type of work for the candidate while you are on the clock.
•· Go to your local candidate's forums, and other events where you can hear in a public meeting what she or he stands for.
•· Help others become informed voters. Talk with your family, friends and neighbors about what the candidate stands for and why you believe he or she is the best person for the job.
•· Donate money. If you have the resources, send your candidate money to help with his or her campaign. Even a small donation can help a candidate, maybe by buying a few more election signs, or do one more mailing.
The disability community has a great deal at stake in this election. We need to have elected officials who know and believe in our issues. Sometimes it only takes one or two votes on the house floor that could win or lose a vote that could affect our rights and freedoms. Get involved in Politics! Your Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Independent Living does depend on it!
General Information for the Kansas 2008 Election
It is important that all Kansans eligible to vote in the 2008 election do so. Following dates and websites are regarding the 2008 election.
October 20, 2008 is the last day to Register to Vote in the general election. You can get the voter registration application at http://www.kssos.org/forms/elections/voterregistration.pdf or contact SKIL for a registration application.
October 31, 2008 is the deadline for voters to apply for advanced voting ballots to be mailed. If you are not able to get to the polls on Election Day, you can vote in advance of the election. You can get an application for advanced voting at http://www.kssos.org/forms/elections/AV1.pdf
November 4, 2008 General Election Day
If you are new to Kansas or have not voted before and you are not sure which district you live in, or who the candidates are running in your district, you can find it by going to www.ipsr.ku.edu/ksdata/vote or you can contact your local county election office. All county election office contact information can be found at http://www.voteks.org/voteks/electionofficer.html
A full list of Candidates and their contact information is available at
Summer at SKIL
This Summer SKIL is celebrating in all of our area office locations. The first celebration was in Columbus, Kansas for the Cherokee County area. Cindy Zahm took some great photos and would like to remind everyone that we can all help each other. " Feel the Power of thew Disability Vote" has been the theme of the events. The next celebration will be in Independence, Kansas at Riverside Park. All area legislative candidates have been invited. There will some great smoked hamburgers and all the trimmings. Drawings and door prizes as well. Plan to be in Independence Thursday August 14, 2008. Activities begin at 4:00PM. Enjoy the photos Cindy sent from Columbus and maybe you can be the Independence photos.
2008 ADA Celebration
Submitted by Annette Tucker; Photos by Skip Smith
Parsons, KS – Approximately 650 people showed up for the ADA America Wins Celebration hosted by the SKIL Resource Center Friday in downtown Parsons. Food, prizes, and a variety of activities were available at no charge in a street party held to observe the 18th anniversary of signing the Americans with Disabilities Act. Several t-shirts were given away that featured a picture of President George Bush the signing the act into law on July 26, 1990. Justin Dart, who was instrumental in getting the ADA enacted, was sitting on the president’s right side. Parsons City Commissioner Bill Wheat was on hand for the official opening of Friday’s celebration. Kansas Representative Rich Proehl and Labette county commission candidate Rick Hizey spoke to the group along with Beth Bradrick who read a letter on behalf of 2nd District Congresswoman Nancy Boyda. An accessible voting machine was demonstrated by Labette county Clerk Linda Schreppel. Awards were presented to Par Com for having an accessible business and Wal-Mart for community giving. According to Independent Living advocate Greg Jones, his daughter Allie and Sara Colyer received autographed pictures with Senator Pat Roberts from a recent trip to Washington, D.C. for the 25th anniversary of American Disabled for Attendant Programs Today or ADAPT. Team Bank was recognized for a contribution for Washington trip along with other local businesses sponsoring Friday’s ADA celebration.
Disability Rights Protestors Force Meeting with Bush Administration
WASHINGTON, DC (July 23, 2008) - Over 200 disability rights advocates from across the country protested outside the U.S. Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) located at Potomac Center Plaza.
The boisterous group chanted until the Assistant Secretary of OSERS, Tracy Justesen, came down and agreed to meet with a delegation from the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL). The NCIL delegation presented the memberships demands to the Assistant Secretary.
Specifically at issue is RSA's recent interpretation of the Rehabilitation Act and the negative impact it will have on the operation of Statewide Independent Living Councils (SILC's). Despite years of accepted operation, RSA has limited the scope of councils so that they function according to minimum statutory duties.
"In Kansas, by advocating for public policy issues, we have increased the employment rate for people with disabilities by 20%," stated Shannon Jones of Topeka, Kansas.
"These types of advocacy efforts are being thwarted by RSA's narrow interpretation of SILC duties. Once again, people with disabilities will be marginalized because of bureaucratic nonsense." After meeting for more than an hour, RSA agreed to respond in writing to NCIL's demands. While NCIL looks forward to their response, they are concerned about how these restrictions will continue to impede policy related to people with disabilities.