Advocacy for Independence

April 2024

Deaf History Month

Deaf History Month was declared in 1997 by the National Association of the Deaf (NAD). It is celebrated during this time of year to honor three catalytic events for the d/Deaf and hard of hearing community.

·        April 15th, 1817: American School for the Deaf opens as the first public school for d/Deaf people.

·        April 8th, 1864: Gallaudet University is founded as the world’s first advanced educational institution for d/Deaf people.

·        March 13th, 1988: I. King Jordan is nominated by Gallaudet University as their first Deaf President, after a series of protests and advocacy actions.

“Deaf President Now!” was the rallying cry of Gallaudet students as they protested the Board of Trustees’ choice to appoint Elisabeth Zinser, the only hearing candidate, as the university’s President. The protest continued for eight days as students confronted the Board, boycotted classes, and marched multiple times to Capitol Hill. Faculty and staff of Gallaudet met and decided to vote in complete support for the protests. The demands included:

·        Zinser must resign and a deaf president be selected.

·        Spilman must resign from the Board.

·        The percentage of deaf members on the Board of Trustees must be increased to at least 51%.

·        There must be no reprisals against any of the protesters.

All the demands were met, and Gallaudet University finally had its first Deaf President after 124 years. Deaf President Now (DPN) has come to represent self-determination and empowerment for d/Deaf and hard of hearing people and is an example of the strength of disability advocacy movements.

For further resources on d/Deaf history and experiences, please access the links below:

A brief history of Black Deaf people in America

What It’s Like Being Deaf and Arab in the U.S.

We Can’t Breathe: The Deaf & Disabled Margin of Police Brutality Project

Deaf World Against Violence Ohio

Disclaimer: The information and links provided in this newsletter do not necessarily reflect the views of CILO’s staff, management, and Board of Directors.

CILO Advocacy Updates

Cincinnati Pride Disability Advocacy

CILO staff is collaborating with leaders of the Cincinnati Pride planning committee to incorporate accessibility and accommodations into this year’s parade and festival. We want to hear from you about what would make an event like Cincinnati Pride a safer, comfier, and more accessible environment for attendees with disabilities. Submit your feedback and suggestions on this topic via email Dee Henry.


Accessibility Training Session for Landlords and Property Managers

Last month, CILO’s Disability Rights and Advocacy Specialist and Core Services Intern were invited to host a training for landlords and property managers part of the Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority’s (CMHA) Housing Choice Voucher program. The event included:

·        Data on housing rights and people with disabilities in Hamilton County.

·        An overview of the Fair Housing Act and the areas it covers.

·        Explanations of reasonable accommodations and home modifications, along with best practices to manage these requests.

·        Tangible ideas for landlords to make properties more accessible.

Are you interested in accessibility training for your business and staff? Email Dee Henry for more information.


Disability Q*mmunity

CILO's Disability Q*mmunity is a peer support and self-advocacy group for 2SLGBTQIA+ people with disabilities to talk about shared experiences and take action to make our communities safer and more accessible for us. People of all identities are welcome at the Disability Q*mmunity. Our next meeting will take place on May 14th at 6:00PM. Email Dee Henry with any questions.

Local Advocacy News

Subminimum Wage

In March of 2024, Cincinnati lost Hamilton County Auditor Brigid Kelly. Not only was Auditor Kelly a fierce advocate for Ohioans as a whole, but she also specifically spoke up for her constituents with disabilities. When she was serving as a State Representative, Kelly and Representative Dontavius Jarrells introduced Ohio House Bill 716 "Eliminate subminimum wage for persons with disabilities". This bill aims to ensure that Ohioans with disabilities are paid a fair wage for their work. It is currently listed as being In House Committee.

“Since the establishment of the federal minimum wage in 1938, a special minimum wage has existed for individuals with disabilities. This provision allows employers, holding a 14(c) certificate from the US Department of Labor (DOL), to pay individuals with disabilities less than the federal or state minimum wage that is generally mandated for all other workers.” (APSE)

The Association of People Supporting Employment First (APSE) is one of the groups providing education and building awareness to phase out 14(c) and subminimum wage programs in the United States. Read APSE’s press release and resources here.

In 2023, the Center for Independent Living Options signed onto the 14(c) Task Force’s Letter to Congress supporting the Employment First and Greater Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities Act to eliminate subminimum wage in the state of Ohio.

Want to make your voice heard on the national level? The American Association for People with Disabilities has resources to contact your member of Congress and ask them to pass the Transformation to Competitive Integrated Employment Act. This national bill has bipartisan support. It will phase out subminimum wage while providing states with resources for workers with disabilities to transition to fill integrated and competitive jobs.


Supported Decision Making: Ohio Senate Bill 213

Have you heard of supported decision making (SDM)? “SDM empowers people to direct their own lives to the greatest extent possible by selecting people to help them make decisions. SDM promotes self-determination and independence.” Read the Supported Decision Making Network of Ohio’s (SDMNO) one-pager explaining the concept of supported decision making here.

SDM can be an alternative to guardianship, aligning with the Center for Independent Living Option’s mission to empower people with disabilities to lead independent and inclusive lives in the community. SDM can also be used even if someone does have a legal guardian. It is a practice that anyone can use and potentially benefit from. Learn how to make an informed decision here.

Ohio’s Senate Bill 213 would recognize supported decision making in Ohio law. In February 2024, the bill had its first hearing in the Ohio Senate Judiciary Committee. Stay tuned for a Call to Action for commentary and testimony submission opportunities.

If you or your organization are interested in promoting supported decision-making in Ohio, you can join the Supported Decision Making Network of Ohio’s monthly meetings by using the link on their webpage.

National Advocacy News

Call to Action: Ensuring Wheelchair Users Can Fly with Dignity

Over the past years, many instances of discrimination against wheelchair users by airlines and airport staff have come to light. Please read Flying with a Disability: Local Progress and the Work That Remains for more information on the experiences of flying with a disability.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is acknowledging this problem by proposing a new rule to improve the experience for airline passengers who use wheelchairs. The rule sets more standards for assistances services, training for airline staff and contractors, and mandates that airlines repair or replace wheelchairs if mishandled by the airline.

US DOT is requesting comments from the public on the proposed rule. You can also comment on two additional topics that are not currently mentioned in the proposal:

·        Lavatory size on twin-aisle aircrafts

·        Reimbursement of the fare difference between a flight someone could've taken if their wheelchair fit in the aircraft and the more expensive flight they had to take instead.” (ACL)

Comments can be submitted online, by mail or fax, or hand-delivered until Monday, May 13, 2024.

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