DAC-Redding office relocates

The Disability Action Center’s office in Redding has a new location.

The non-profit independent living center recently moved to 2876 Park Marina Drive in Redding, vacating its old location on West St.

The office has a new manager: Wendy Longwell.

Dwight Phillips handles certain assistive technology needs for consumers.

Office hours are 9-5 Monday-Friday. The phone number: 242-8550.

EVAN J. KEMP Jr., 60, CHAMPION of DISABLED PERSONS

Evan J. Kemp Jr., who had to take a Government job in 1964 because nobody else would hire a disabled lawyer, died at a hospital near his home in Washington on Tuesday, satisfied that he had helped to make the world a bit more accepting of people like him. He was 60 and, as the chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 1990, helped shape the landmark Americans With Disabilities Act.

His wife, Janine Bertram, said the cause has not been determined but was not related to Kugelberg-Welander disease, the progressive and degenerative form of spinal muscular atrophy that had dogged him since he was 12.

Evan J. Kemp at signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990

Evan J. Kemp at signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990

For a man in a wheelchair, Mr. Kemp cut a fancy swath through the corridors of power. That was partly because he was an expert bridge player who had card-playing cronies all over official Washington, and partly because he was so bright that as his friend C. Boyden Gray, who was President George Bush’s counsel, put it yesterday, ”He was usually three steps ahead of everybody else and would sort of sit there bemused until the rest of us caught up.”

But it was mainly because he was a man with a mission.

A perennial hard-luck guy who turned his misfortunes into opportunities, Mr. Kemp had been battling the odds since he was a budding 12-year-old football player and heard a doctor tell him that the sporadic muscle weakness he had been experiencing was an incurable disease that would kill him before he was 14.

Two years later, when he was defiantly still alive, his doctors said that they had been wrong and that he really had another incurable disease, one that would kill him before he was 20. (It was not until he was 28 that he received the diagnosis that stuck.)

By some measures, Mr. Kemp should have been grateful when he found a Government job in 1964. He had made it through Washington & Lee University and graduated in the top 10 percent of his class at the University of Virginia Law School.

But after 39 different law firms turned him down, Mr. Kemp, a native of New York who grew up in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, realized that there was no room in private practice for a lawyer so disabled that he lurched when he walked.

He may have been glad enough to get a job with the Internal Revenue Service, and later one with the Securities and Exchange Commission, but when he asked whether he could use the commission’s garage entrance because it made access to his office easier, he was told that he could use the entrance but would have to park elsewhere no matter how hard it might be for him to walk from his car.

Then in 1971 the garage door slammed down him as he was going to work, fracturing a leg so badly that when the fractures healed he could no longer walk even laboriously and had to use a wheelchair.

”When I was walking I had the same disability,” he once said. ”But when I was in a wheelchair it was more visible,” so visible that he was yanked off the commission’s management track and told that a man in a wheelchair would not be suitable for a supervisory position.

In 1977 he filed a job discrimination suit and won, but by then he had become so incensed at the way the disabled were treated throughout society that he left the Government in 1980 to become the director of the Disability Rights Center.

As not only Washington’s leading advocate for the disabled, but also a Republican, Mr. Kemp was named to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by President Ronald Reagan in 1987. By the time President Bush made him the chairman three years later, Mr. Kemp had already played a major behind-the-scenes role in writing the American for Disabilities Act, which extended protections to the disabled.

Source:   http://www.nytimes.com/1997/08/14/us/evan-j-kemp-jr-60-champion-of-disabled.html

DISABILITY ADVOCATES PROTECT ACCESS

ADA IS PROTECTED AND EXPANDED BY TESTIMONY IN SACRAMENTO

We can thank the remarkable testimony from the disability community January 23 & 24 at the California Building Standards Commission for convincing the Commission to revise some of the most egregious of the code change proposals that concerned us.   Congratulations to everyone who called in and those who attended the hearing.  Great job!

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Here’s what was accomplished:

1. The exception for “structural impracticability” that was proposed to apply to both new and existing construction will be eliminated.

2.  We will no longer be held forever to using the 2010 code for telephones, restrooms, drinking fountains, signs and entrances.  As the proposed code was written, any building that was remodeled and had to make these features accessible would not have to make any upgrades if they met the 2010 standards.  Instead, the this section will be amended to allow this kind of “grandfathering” only for one code cycle back (the code changes every three years.)

3.  An accessible route will be required to water slides, wrestling & boxing arenas, animal containment areas, and raised diving boards & diving platforms

4.  Hotel and motel rooms which are not accessible will still have to have accessible room and bathroom entrances and access into and through the bathroom.  Access into the bathroom had been proposed to be eliminated.

5.  The color contrast required for way finding surfaces for persons with vision impairments will be maintained.

6.  The center line of toilets will have to be between 17 and 18 inches from the wall.  The proposed code was to allow 16 to 18 inches, which would create a barrier for many users.

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Many issues for the vision impaired were discussed by those testifying and will also be the subject of future code development as will be our issues which did not get addressed yesterday.  The Commission also voted to direct the State Architect to work more openly with people with disabilities.

What we will have in the new code that goes into effect January 1, 2014 is the best of the ADA Standards which provide more access requirements than we have had in state code and the best of the state code which we have used since 1982.

It’s amazing how effective the disability community can be.  However, much appreciation must go to the Secretary Anna Caballero who chairs the Commission meetings.  She was most gracious and went out of her way to insure we had an opportunity to make ourselves heard.  Appreciation also goes to the staff for the State Architect, who met advocates the evening of the 23rd to discuss our concerns, which was very helpful in clarifying the issues so that they could be addressed under the parameters of the Commission authority.

GOV. BROWN SIGNS ADA REFORM BILL

Business Groups are Thrilled;
Disability Advocates are Unhappy

In a rare bipartisan action, the Legislature and Governor Brown worked together to craft new legislation in an attempt to move the state forward in bringing more businesses into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  SB 1186, co-sponsored by Senate President Darrel Steinberg (D-Sacramento) and Senator Bob Dutton (R-Rancho Cucamonga) was passed with overwhelming support from both parties and signed by the Governor in September.

The major provisions of SB 1186 are:

  • bans “demand for money” letters,

  • requires attorneys to send a notice letter at least 30 days before filing a lawsuit

  • prevents “stacking” of multiple claims to increase monetary damages

  • significantly reduces damages against business owners who correct alleged violations within 60 days of receiving a complaint

  • requires landlords to disclose whether their buildings or properties are state-certified and in compliance with ADA laws

“We are extremely pleased that Gov. Brown recognized that disabled access lawsuits are out of control and that change was needed,” said Kim Stone, president of the Civil Justice Association of California, an industry-sponsored advocacy group.

“This bill should provide some relief to small business owners who are making good faith efforts to comply and it should help rein in unscrupulous plaintiffs’ lawyers who have been exploiting the Americans with Disabilities Act for financial gain,” Stone said.

Sen. Steinberg said SB 1186 is a compromise that applies a “common sense approach” to resolve difficult issues.

“The whole point of our state and federal disability access laws is to remove barriers for the disabled, giving them full and equal access to businesses like everyone else. Up until now, unfortunately, it was often cheaper and quicker for business owners to settle out of court than to remove those obstacles,” he said.  “SB 1186 will instead provide more incentives to fix the violations and enhance accessibility.”

While acknowledging many good points in the new law, representatives from Californians for Disability Rights were concerned with several provisions.  Businesses can now claim ‘good faith’ attempts to comply with the ADA in new and remodeled projects that fail to meet standards.  In so doing, they will be given reduced penalties and additional time when they may have failed to consult with professionals versed in the ADA prior to attempting modifications.  These reduced penalties may work to incentivize non-compliance.

Since the passage of the ADA in 1990, 50% tax credits have been available to encourage businesses to move forward with providing the legally required access to disabled people.  Businesses and government have had 22 years to move into compliance.  With such a high level of financial support and 22 years since passage of the ADA, advocates rightly want to know the fundamental question, “If not now, when?”

Disability advocates are concerned that business interests are using this issue of alleged “renegade attorneys” to disguise core opposition to the ADA itself. “If you can’t criticize the law, then go after the attorneys,” said Tony Goldsmith, civil rights attorney and member of the legislative committee of Californians for Disability Rights.

At the bottom of the food chain are the people living with disabilities who sincerely wish to experience full access to all the U. S. has to offer.  To conflate the issue of the actions of a few attorneys with the desire of disabled people to assert their rights is to risk diminishing public support for the requirements of the ADA.  People living with disabilities also want to experience freedom and independence.  Enforcement of the ADA is essential to the realization of the dream.
The independent living movement takes this issue seriously.  We hope that the compromise worked out in this law translates into moving many more businesses into providing the full access required by the ADA as envisioned by the authors of the law.

The bill is an urgency measure, meaning it will take effect immediately.

ON THE OCCUPY MOVEMENT

 Independent Living Services of Northern California 

ILSNC’s STATEMENT ON THE “OCCUPY MOVEMENT”

November 8, 2011

ILSNC sends a message of support to peaceful protesters in Oakland, all other American cities and around the world.  We call upon all protesters to remain steadfast in their commitment to non-violence.  We condemn not only the violence and excessive force recently deployed by the Oakland Police, but also the vandalism perpetrated by misguided individuals who reject the values of the Occupy Movement.

ILSNC believes that public protest and non-violent civil disobedience is often necessary to correct injustice.  It’s a core American tradition going back to the founding of our democracy.  From the Boston Tea Party to the women’s suffragette and labor movements; from the civil rights sit-ins to the Section 504 and ADA occupations by disability rights pioneers, our cherished victories required direct action.

Since long before the economic crash of 2008, people with disabilities have been fighting relentless cuts to our support programs and services. In California, we’re facing even more cuts, including a massive “trigger cut” to In-Home Supportive Services on December 15th.  This planned 20% reduction hangs like an axe over the head of thousands of low-income people with disabilities.  Having been pushed to the limits of human endurance, we clearly identify with the pain and frustration expressed by the new “Occupy” movement.  Many of us feel like the general population has finally caught up with what we’ve been experiencing for a very long time.

Throughout this economic crisis we have asked for nothing more than shared sacrifice. We assert that catastrophic program cuts can be prevented by employing fair, common sense tax reforms to produce desperately-needed revenue.  Tragically, as public treasuries continue to drain, our elected leaders act like obedient servants to the tax-cutting demands of their powerful campaign donors.  The full weight of “deficit reduction” is therefore borne by those already struggling in poverty.

While we live in fear of the next cut, enormous tax breaks are given to corporations who promise to “create jobs” that never materialize. Bankers whose blatant criminality destroyed millions of American jobs luxuriate in billion-dollar bailouts while unemployed protesters are arrested for “camping.” As vital disability programs and services are gutted, we learn that 2/3 of U.S. corporations – particularly the largest and most profitable – pay zero annual income taxes. Fear-mongering politicians bloviate about the federal deficit while pouring trillions of dollars of new debt – not to mention thousands of young American lives – into the bottomless pit of so-called “national defense.”

In today’s “pay to play” political environment, now intensified by the U.S. Supreme Court’s disgraceful “Citizens United” decision, we find ourselves either patronized or completely ignored.  Now is the time for everyday Americans to unite and organize a bold resistance to the onslaught.  We believe that the peaceful protests taking place in over a thousand U.S. cities demonstrate the beginning of a new awakening.

For these reasons ILSNC urges members and allies of the disability community to take action now.  Make a personal commitment to contribute and to persevere for as long as it takes.  Get involved with disability advocates in your community.  Visit and support your local Occupy encampment. While you’re there, educate on disability issues and advocate for inclusion. Help build diverse alliances and think beyond immediate self-interests. Do whatever you can – start today!

Despite enormously powerful forces that stand against us, indifferent to the suffering of millions, we are confident in the power of our unity. Each of us has the ability to make a personal choice to work together for the common good. We will succeed if we can overcome our own apathy, disunity and defeatism.

We are the inheritors of a world made possible by the activists who came before us.  Let’s honor their legacy, change our lives and save our children’s future by seizing this moment to do something great.  Occupy Wall Street can become our best chance to restore fairness and opportunity before it’s too late. There has never been a better time to build the powerful kind of coalition we’ve dreamed about. And we’ll only have ourselves to blame if it turns out otherwise.

“Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation are people who want crops without ploughing the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning; they want the ocean without the roar of its many waters. The struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, or it may be both. But it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand; it never has and it never will.”

– Frederick Douglass