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.

Rally Against More Cuts

Services for disadvantaged citizens have already been cut to the bone.  Join us to protect vital services.  Your well-being depends on it.  Federal magistrate Wilkens has prevented a 20% cut in IHSS because that would force people from their homes into nursing homes.  Governor Brown wants to cut more next year.   Child care support for people looking to get off welfare is threatened.  Senior nutrition support is threatened. Join us.  We need you & you need us to protect your services.

Wednesday January 18, Noon on the South steps of the Capitol.  Transportation will be provided by ILSNC, 1161 East Ave.  Leave Chico at 9:30 sharp.

Click on this link to view the flyer.

01 18 12 Sac State of the 99% Flyer 1

IHSS CUTS POSTPONED

Judge grants reprieve to 372,000 on cuts to in-home care

A federal judge has apparently granted at least a temporary reprieve to 372,000 elderly and disabled Californians who faced a 20 percent cut in their in-home care on Jan. 1.

U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken of Oakland issued a temporary restraining order Thursday that prohibits the state from taking any immediate steps to carry out the reductions — in particular, from mailing out notices to all recipients, starting next week.  Wilken said a lawsuit by disability-rights groups and other advocates raised “serious questions” about whether the cuts would violate federal health and disability laws by forcing recipients into nursing homes.

That means it’s highly unlikely the reductions can take effect Jan. 1, said Stacey Leyton, one of the lawyers who filed the suit. She said the state’s attorneys had told Wilken they needed to send out the notices next week to start the clock running for cutbacks on New Year’s Day.

The judge has tentatively scheduled a hearing Dec. 15 on a request for a preliminary injunction that would block the cuts indefinitely. Even if she decides the state acted legally and denies the injunction, Leyton and other advocates said the cutbacks probably would be delayed by at least a few weeks. And Wilken’s ruling Thursday contained some strong language suggesting that she might well issue an injunction: She said the proposed reductions would put recipients “at imminent and serious risk of harm to their health and safety” and also risk “unnecessary and unwanted out-of-home placement, including institutionalization.” The state’s only concern is saving money, she said, while in-home care patients face “life-or-death consequences.”

The program, called In-Home Supportive Services, provides care to about 440,000 low-income Californians, including the blind and disabled and those over 65 who need help with daily tasks to live at home. The federal government pays about 60 percent of the cost.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation in June that required the 20 percent cutback in services to 372,000 recipients in January if the state’s revenues fell short of projections, which they did. The law allows recipients to apply for an exemption if they can show they would be at serious risk of being forced into an institution. But lawyers for the recipients say the exemption uses the same flawed standards that Wilken rejected in 2009 when she blocked the state from eliminating in-home care to 36,000 people and cutting it back for another 97,000.  ….

Source:  San Francisco Chronicle Politics blog, December 1 2011

For detailed and up-to-date information on In-Home Supportive Services, please visit http://www.ihsscoalition.org

100 Attend Town Hall on Healthcare

Monday evening, a full house of 100 people attended an exciting and inspiring town hall meeting describing the successful new strategy  employed by activists in Vermont from 2008 to the present day.   One of the strongest messages heard was that only through dogged determination and a strong commitment to promoting unity based on principles of inclusion can any progressive movement succeed.

It was truly empowering to learn that so many dedicated activists were so committed to the first principle of reform, which is universality.  Attempts were made by opponents to dilute the resulting legislation by proposing to not cover undocumented immigrants.  It could easily have been people with disabilities since most have Medi-Cal and are technically covered with one form of insurance.  Since most of us suffer at the expense of an inferior brand of health insurance, we urge y0u to join the single-payer movement.  You can make real contributions and receive an improved, truly universal 100% coverage “Improved Medicare for All” healthcare system as a result.  In Butte County, the Butte County Health Care Coalition would welcome your contribution of effort.

The 6 Principles of Real Healthcare Reform are:

  1. Universality

  2. Comprehensive, High-Quality Level of Care

  3. Affordable, Based on Ability to Pay

  4. Costs Must Be Contained

  5. Accountability

  6. Transparency

If you would like to be the beneficiary of such a wonderful improvement in your healthcare options, consider volunteering for the Butte County Health Care Coalition.  Additional information is available on their website at : http://www.buttesinglepayer.org

In our society there is a new opening for deep changes.  If you are tired and discouraged from getting the short end of the stick lately, we encourage you to get active.  In the 60’s, disabled activists gained important civil rights through participation in the social justice issues of the day.  Now is our time to gain new rights by joining with other activists.  What better place to start than by joining the other activists fighting for a fair and just healthcare system, one in which disabled citizens share with others in living a better quality of life.