February’s White House Disability Group Call was held on February 29th, 2012 at 3pm EST. The call was led by Kareem Dale, Associate Director, White House Office of Public Engagement & Special Assistant to the President for Disability Policy. Mr. Dale announced the speakers for today’s call: Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez, Civil Rights Division of the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and Marcie Roth, Director, Office of Disability Integration and Coordination (ODIC) of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Mr. Perez spoke about the enforcement of the Olmstead Act. In recent years there have been over 40 cases dealing with Olmstead enforcement in 25 states. There have been settlements, agreements and DOJ Findings Letters that have resulted from these cases. Mr. Perez gave an example of each. The first example dealt with the Settlement Agreement reached with the Commonwealth of Virginia on January 26th, 2012. This particular settlement agreement dealt with the Civil Rights Division’s ADA Olmstead investigation in Virginia into whether or not persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities have been served in the most integrated settings that are appropriate for their needs. The settlement requires several things from the Commonwealth of Virginia. Mr. Perez’s second example was an Agreement reached with the State of Georgia that would help people with mental illness and developmental disabilities gain supported housing and employment via the expansion of services. Mr. Perez’s final example dealt with a Findings Letter to the State of Mississippi that was issued in December of 2011 which concluded that Mississippi is violating the ADA’s integration mandate through it’s provision of services to people with mental illness and developmental disabilities. The Civil Rights Division provides Settlement Agreements, fact sheets, statements of interest for these and other cases via their website. Mr. Perez also provided an information line for those interested in these matters: 800/514-0313 (V) and 800/514-0383 (TTY).
Ms. Roth spoke about about promising practices in emergency preparedness for people with disabilities. One example that she gave was the Alianza Program in New Jersey. She also spoke about including the disability community as part of the team to plan emergency preparedness and she suggests that people be more involved in personal planning. She also spoke about the resources available at FEMA.gov for people with disabilities and that these resources are available in multiple languages (including Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, Haitian-Creole, Greek, and Kmer). Ms. Roth also spoke about FEMA’s Think Tank, which will allow interested parties be part of the dialouge in generating creative solutions.
The calls are off the record and not for Press purposes.