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Local and State Activities



Disability Rights Advocates Across the Nation Are Demanding Inclusion From Congress During COVID-19: 

This weekend, the U.S. Senate has been working on a vast COVID-19 stimulus package for the country, which once again excludes people with disabilities rights and needs during this pandemic. The disability community continues to ban together with a collective voice to make sure we are heard and included in the next COVID-19 package by emailing, calling, and using social media to get members of Congress to take our demands seriously. There has been a specific focus to target House and Senate leaders Nancy Pelosi, Kevin McCarthy, Mitch McConnell, and Chuck Schumer that they MUST prioritize the rights and needs of people with disabilities in the next Coronavirus relief package.

People with disabilities are disproportionately impacted during disasters and emergencies, we are 2-to-4 times more likely to die or be injured in a disaster or emergency, and COVID-19 is no different and potentially worse. There have already been concurrent disasters during this pandemic with the tornado in Nashville, Tennessee and the earthquake in Salt Lake City, Utah. Our government and response system is not prepared for the anticipated concurrent disasters that are to knock on our nation’s doors for the general public, let alone the disability community they continue to exclude and ignore.

If we are going to get through this, we need Congress to pay attention to our collective voice and make sure the third bill includes things like:

  • Passing the REAADI for Disasters Act (HR. 3208 & S. 1755)
  • Passing the Disaster Relief Medicaid Act (HR. 3215 & S. 1754)
  • Funding for Medicaid Home and Community Based Services (HCBS)
  • Funding for Personal Care Attendants (PCAs) and Direct Support Professionals (DSPs)
  • Funding for educational services for students with disabilities and protection of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
  • Ensuring access to medications
  • Increase funding and expansion of nutritional services
  • Funding for Centers for Independent Living (CILs) and other disability-led non-profit organizations
  • Expand Social Security caps for people on fixed incomes (SSI or SSDI) to receive cash payments like everyone else, without worrying about income or asset limits that put crucial benefits at risk.
  • Protect people with disabilities civil rights to ensure there is no discrimination in health care. There are no limitations or waivers for civil rights protections!
  • Permanently reauthorizing Money Follows the Person, to make sure that people who are institutionalized during the crisis can return to their homes and communities.


Contact your Members of Congress:

Call the Capitol Switchboard at: (202) 224-3121 (voice) or (202) 224-3091(tty) and ask to be connected to your members of Congress.

Email, Text, Mail a letter to your member of Congress by using the Resistbot tool –

Text the word RESIST on iMessage, Messenger, Twitter, Telegram, or to 50409 on SMS* and Resistbot will find out who represents you in Congress or your state legislature, turn your text into an email, fax, or postal letter, and deliver it to your representatives in 1-2-3.

You can use this easy tool to find your members of Congress. This tool also has links to each member’s Twitter and Facebook and a link to contact them via email.

You can also email your members directly through this portal put together by our friends at NDSC that uses the Center for Public Representation’s script.

[See sample email or call script below]You can also use these tools from The Arc and Accessing Living:

Email your Members of Congress using this letter and this tool from The Arc.

Email your Senator using this letter and this tool from Access Living.

Tweet at your Members of Congress and tell them that they must include the disability community’s needs in the new Coronavirus relief package.

Sample Tweets from ASAN: 

  1. I call on @MEMBER-OF-CONGRESS to include people with disabilities in the 3rd #COVID19 relief package! #WhatWeNeed
  2. Including people with disabilities in the #COVID19 relief package isn’t optional, @MEMBER-OF-CONGRESS. We need your help to get our community in the 3rd package. #WhatWeNeed
  3. Disabled people are disproportionately impacted by #COVID19. #WhatWeNeed is inclusion in the 3rd COVID19 relief package.

Tweet at Congressional leadership–Mitch McConnell, Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, and Kevin McCarthy to demand that our community be included in the package.

Sample Tweets from ASAN: 

  1. @GOPleader, we NEED disability inclusion in the 3rd #COVID19 relief package! People with disabilities are disproportionately impacted during this crisis. #WhatWeNeed
  2. I’m counting on @SpeakerPelosi to boost the voices of the disability community, and get us included in the 3rd #COVID19 relief package #WhatWeNeed
  3. The 3rd #COVID19 relief package must include the needs of people with disabilities. Can I count on you to fight for us, @senschumer? #WhatWeNeed

Additional Sample Tweets from AAPD: 

  1. People with disabilities are at risk as #COVID19 spreads across the country—tell Congress to prioritize people with disabilities in #Package3 and pass legislation that meets the needs of everyone #WhatWeNeed
  2. We’re glad Congress passed two bills to respond to the #COVID19 pandemic – but more still must be done right now to support people with disabilities, including funding for HCBS, Housing, and more: #WhatWeNeed
  3. Ask your Member of Congress to pass a new #COVID19 relief bill that addresses the needs of people with disabilities during this crisis! #WhatWeNeed

Sample Tweets about REAADI & DRMA: 

  1. @MEMBER-OF-CONGRESS the disability community is disportionately impacted in disasters & emergencies. Do you think we are #REAADI for a concurrent disaster during this #COVID19 pandemic?
  2. @MEMBER-OF-CONGRESS #WhatWeNeed is the REAADI for Disasters Act and Disaster Relief Medicaid Act to pass in order to survive a concurrent disaster during #COVID19.
  3. @MEMBER-OF-CONGRESS not only do we need permanent funding for MFP but we also need Money to Follow the Person in Disasters! Pass the Disaster Relief Medicaid Act!

Easy Email or Call Script:

Hello, this is [Name]. I’m a resident of [Town, State].

I am [calling/writing] to ask [Senator’s or Representative’s Name] to please ensure that legislation in response to the coronavirus pandemic addresses the rights and needs of people with disabilities. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act that was just passed is an important first step, but more must be done now to meet the needs of people with disabilities, who are especially impacted by this crisis.

I ask that you also ensure any future legislation include:

Passing the REAADI for Disasters Act (HR. 3208 & S. 1755) and the Disaster Relief Medicaid Act (HR. 3215 & S. 1754) in preparedness for a concurrent disaster or emergency the REAADI for Disasters Act and Disaster Relief Medicaid Act will provide funding for CILs and other disability-led organizations, will provide training and technical assistance centers, will enforce our civil rights to equal access of disaster programs and services, and will allow “Money to Follow the Person in a Disaster.” These bills created by, for, and with the disability community will address many of the concerns and issues people with disabilities face in disasters and emergencies.

Increased Medicaid funding for Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) to help state Medicaid systems cope with increased need during this crisis. The Families First Act’s increased funding is a good starting point, but more will be necessary.

Funding for personal care attendants (PCAs) and direct support professionals (DSPs), among other things, this funding could be used to increase rates for PCAs/DSPs; provide paid sick time, family leave, overtime or hazard pay to PCAs/DSPs; and provide HCBS to individuals on waiting lists.

More funding for educational services for disabled students and protection of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Senator McConnell’s recent proposal opens the door to waiving protections under IDEA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. As schools are working hard to ensure that learning continues even as schools are closed, now more than ever we need IDEA and Section 504 to be protected. And, we need significant increases in funding to State educational agencies (SEAs) and local educational agencies (LEAs) for IDEA instructional and support services during this pandemic!

Permanent reauthorization of the Money Follows the Person (MFP) program to allow states to continue to support the transition of people with disabilities from institutions into the community and lessen the threat to their health and rights of posed by unnecessary institutionalization in congregate settings

Access to medications including removal of barriers to 90-day supply of medication and medical supplies, as well as flexibility around the amount that can be filled/refilled, and ongoing access to long-term services and supports.

Paid leave coverage for when a person needs to fill in to provide care to a family member with a disability because their care worker is sick or their program closes. The Families First Act did not include paid leave coverage in these circumstances.

Emergency income relief that includes people with disabilities. This means eliminating or raising asset limits in the means tested programs many people with disabilities rely on, including SSI, SSDI, SNAP, and Medicaid.

Increase funding and expansion of nutritional services. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act expanded some nutritional services, but it didn’t go far enough. Congress needs to increase funding and further expand nutritional services, including SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and Meals on Wheels.

Increase funding for Centers for Independent Living (CILs) and other disability-led organizations to be able to respond to and meet the needs of people with disabilities during this pandemic and other disasters and emergencies.

Protections for the civil rights of people with disabilities, including ensuring they are not forced into institutional settings (where they are also at higher risk) or discriminated against in access to care and treatment.

Thank you!

[IF LEAVING A VOICEMAIL: please leave your full street address and zip code to ensure your call is tallied]

A reminder from our friends at ASAN: 

Our independence, our health, and our lives are on the line-and we cannot let our elected officials forget that. Now more than ever, we must let those who represent us know that there will be nothing about us without us.

Thank you to all who have put together tools and resources for the disability community to use when advocating for our rights. 

Special thanks to American Association of People with Disabilities, Autistic Self Advocacy Network, Access Living, Center for Public Representation, Center for American Progress, National Council for Independent Living, The Arc of the United States, and many many more for the additional information, resources, templates and advocacy tools during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We at The Partnership are thankful for the community that unites along side us – thank you all, for all you do for people with disabilities before, during and after disasters and public health emergencies.


The Jan La Belle Scholarship
Application Deadline is March 31st, 2020

Eligible applicants must meet all of the following criteria:

– The applicant must be an individual with a disability.
– The applicant must be a Florida resident.
– The Applicant must be an individual who will be entering a college or post-secondary educational program in Fall 2020

How it works
One or more Jan La Belle Scholarship winners are selected annually for a total possible non-renewable award. Award amounts are based on several factors, including available funds and the number of eligible applicants.

The Jan La Belle Scholarship offers the following two application options for individuals with disabilities:

Option A – Academic (Standard Diploma)
• Meeting of all Florida FSA standards or approved Disability Portfolio;**
• Community service leadership or involvement; and
• Receipt of any other scholarship awards.

Option B – Career or Trade Skill Development
• Accomplishments in the field of interest;
• Community service leadership or involvement; and
• Receipt of any other scholarship awards

For More Information Please Click here

2020 NCIL Youth Scholarship Applications Now Open!

NCIL is proud to announce the 2020 Youth Scholarship Fund. For the sixth year in a row, we will be offering scholarships to our Annual Conference for youth with disabilities ages 18 – 26 who may otherwise be unable to afford the cost of attendance.

NCIL offers three tiers of scholarships:

Local: Up to $110 to cover the cost of registration for youth with disabilities living in the Washington DC/Baltimore metropolitan area (this includes youth who will be in the area at the time of the conference for a summer internship or job).

Regional: Up to $975 to cover registration, travel, and hotel costs for youth with disabilities living in the Region III area (Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia).

National: Up to $1,200 to cover registration, travel, and hotel costs for youth with disabilities living in other areas of the United States.

At this time, we are unable to accept youth from outside the United States. If you are under 18 years old and would like to apply, please contact Cara Liebowitz directly at

For the second year in a row, we are also offering the Emet Tauber Youth Scholarship. Emet Tauber was a former Youth Scholarship recipient and NCIL board member who sadly passed away in 2019. Emet’s life was changed by the Youth Scholarship Fund and he was passionate about enabling others to have the same opportunities. Therefore, the Emet Tauber Youth Scholarship will be awarded each year to at least one youth with a disability who is also trans and/or Jewish in recognition of Emet’s activism within both of those communities. If you would like to be considered for the Emet Tauber Youth Scholarship, follow the prompts on the application form under the “Emet Tauber Youth Scholarship” section.

If you’d like to apply for a youth scholarship, please fill out the online application by April 24, 2020. This is a highly competitive process and no applications will be considered after the deadline. Applicants will be notified if they received a scholarship within two weeks of the application deadline.

NCIL’s Youth Scholarship Fund is 100% funded by NCIL supporters like you. Please consider making a donation to the Youth Scholarship Fund so that we can keep providing this amazing experience for youth with disabilities.

A gathering of people with disabilities in the State of Florida throughout our State Capitol, including Senate Chambers.

We want to thank our fellow CILs and partners. We also met with Senator Broxson, Representaive Hill, Representative Williamson’s Legislative Aide Sydney Fowler, Senator Gainers Legislative Director Kim Rodgers, and had many additional conversations at the capitol and are appreciative of everyone involved.

Thank you,

Carolyn L. Grawi, MSW, LCSW, LMSW, ACSW, ADAC
Executive Director
Center for Independent Living Disability Resource Center


Florida CIL Day 2020 Group Shot

Letter From:

Jane E. Johnson
Chief Executive Officer
Florida Association of Centers for Independent Living
325 John Knox Road, Bldg. C, Tallahassee, FL 32308

Many, many thanks to all of you who came to Tallahassee for CIL Day yesterday! Your collective visits and voices really made an impact – throughout the Capitol. Even though the official Legislative Session doesn’t begin until January 14th, we are already off to a great start!

If you have any doubt about your impact, just go to minute 10:32 on the video coverage of yesterday’s House Local, Federal & Veterans Affairs Subcommittee (link) and see the CIL network in action.

The bill that passed (HB 39) was amended to include a more inclusive definition of disability thanks to successful advocacy by Corey Hinds! Tony Delisle and Carolyn Grawi gave compelling testimony on behalf of the CIL network! Other CIL stakeholders filled the meeting room and submitted comments on the record in support of the bill! Behind the scenes making everything run smoothly: Kristen Herron, Beth Meyer, Robert Cox and Shelly Gurr turned the 22nd floor of the Capitol into the perfect venue for our midday meeting. And out front leading the way – ! !  Georgia McKeown!! – our fearless (and tireless) lobbyist and friend!

If you would like to send a note of appreciation to any of the special guests who took the time to speak to our group, their contact information is below:

Senator Aaron Bean

Rep. MaryLynn Magar

Rep. Randy Fine

Rep. Mike Gottlieb

Rep. Loranne Ausley

Dept. of Elder Affairs Secretary Richard Prudom

AHCA Secretary Mary Mayhew

VR Director Allison Flanagan

Able Trust CEO Tony Carvajal

Thank you again for your time and effective advocacy!


Florida Telecommunications Relay, Inc.  – Can you hear me now?

Photo of Karen Jackson and Allison Bell

Karen Jackson with Allison Bell One of many Independent Living Services of the CIL Disability Resource Center is FTRI (Florida Telecommunications Relay, Inc.). Karen Jackson is one our IL/FTRI Specialists.

Ms. Allison Bell was referred to CILDRC/FTRI by her Audiologist due to her hearing loss. We looked at her choices of the hearing impaired phones bases on what would be best for her. Karen set up the XLC3.4 and made a few test calls with her while adjusting the volume, ring styles and the  tone for her. Allison states “I am very excited that CILDRC/FTRI Programs were able to improve my ability to understand and communicate with others.” Allison also reports that she is a top ranked associate at JC Penny Department Store and discussed how it is hard to hear and understand customers. Allison was provided a demo with a pocket talker. She will submit an ADA Reasonable Accommodation request to her employer from the advocacy services she received at the center. Allison says, “I am striving to not just be one of the top associates in the district, but to be able to excel in the region.” People with disabilities are able to do anything anyone else can do, some times we just do things a little differently. The center is a place where all may come to work toward their individual success.   Thank you Allison! Great work Karen!

Making a Difference – Hunter

CILDRC is committed to removing barriers to achieving goals for independence. Sometimes, those goals are related to assistive devices.

CILDRC provided funding for replacing batteries on a power wheelchair for a teenager. Hunter said “I am independent now, Mom”!

From Roseann, mother of consumer Hunter:

“As a parent to a child who has many health concerns, completing daily living skills can be a difficult task. That is until I was introduced to the Center for Independent Living. The people here assist anyone with a disability in any way they can. Not only did they get my son’s battery operated wheelchair up and running, but they also purchased a shower chair that was able to fit in my tub perfectly!! ‘I’m taking a shower like the big kids!’ – Hunter

Roseann stated “the services Hunter received not only has had an effect on him, it has decreased the intensity of the labor involved in the crucial care I provide for my son, which has now been turned into an effortless, uncomplicated and manageable job.”

CILDRC is proud assist consumers and their caregivers to have successes in the community.


Gulf Regional Demonstration Center Demonstrates Assistive Technology to Assisted Living Facility