State Independent Living Council Discussion Archive

NATSILC: Theres Something Happening Here

Posted by: Lou Diehl
Date Mailed: Monday, June 2nd 2003 11:26 AM

Date: Sat, 29 Mar 2003 13:23:41 EST


Recent developments in the independent living arena seem to support the
warnings that many have chosen to discount for quite some time. 

Many months ago Emma Sullivan, a founding member of the Alliance for
Compliance, gave a 45-minute presentation to the board members of the
National Council on Independent Living (NCIL).  She forecast of dire
consequences should this organization, which is supposed to advocate for
the good of the independent living movement, choose not to act swiftly
upon the information that had been provided to NCIL over and over again
about RSA's refusal to enforce Title VII of the Rehabilitation Act. 

Emma's "Call to Arms" presentation to NCIL last fall can be found at: 

NCIL board members have repeatedly assured members of the Alliance that
the NCIL position paper on the Rehabilitation Act addressed most of the
concerns we had raised (although in fact the paper missed the core
underlying causes of the issues it identified). 

You may have seen the Action Alert sent out by NCIL and others about the
fact that NCIL paper or no NCIL paper, there was a real push to
reauthorize the Act as is. 

The Alliance has joined with others whose warnings about the Coalition of
State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation programs (CSAVR) and its
open actions against the growth of the independent living movement have
gone unheeded for far too long. 

You may have read the recent memorandum issued by the head of CSAVR, which
highlights their position that they, not the people whose interests they
purport to be watching out for, know best.  Their lobbying funds are
enormous, their power much greater than ours. 

NCIL has sent conflicting messages to its membership about its plans to
pursue, or not pursue, legal action against RSA for failure to enforce
federal law and regulation.  First they said attorneys had said they had
no standing, since the problems only impacted their membership, not NCIL
as an organization.  Then they said they were still consulting with
attorneys, and hadn't yet decided. Some NCIL leaders reminded us that they
were volunteers with other responsibilities, and that they staff was
limited, and encouraged individual organizations to file the lawsuit that
they said was needed to straighten things out. 

So it was disconcerting when NCIL began to advertise its availability to
coordinate conferences and workshops for others.  Confusing, as well,
since they have historically used a consultant to coordinate the annual
NCIL Conference -- the same conference where in recent years the RSA
Commissioner was invited to give an update on what was happening in that

This year, NCIL Director Anne Marie Hughey has told members that due to
RSA's position on the Governor's appointment of the SILC Chair, NCIL has
rescinded the invitation to Commissioner Joanne Wilson.  So there
seemingly won't be a formal opportunity for the members to pose questions
or share information. 

In the meantime, more and more states are acting to completely eliminate
or tremendously cut their IL budgets.  Other states continue to disregard
or belittle the value of the role that Congress intended for Centers for
Independent Living. And in Indiana, they are still awaiting the report
that RSA promised to issue within 30 days about the many violations they
found during a week-long visit.  It's been nearly a year, and the
situation worsens by the day while the state awards "real choice" dollars
earmarked to develop alternatives to institutionalization to make videos
and develop exercise programs. 

What has been called "the Indiana situation" has indeed begun to spread.
Is your state next? 

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