May 4, 2018
VOR Weekly News Update
VOR is a national organization that advocates for high quality care and human rights for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities
VOR promises to empower you to make and protect quality of life choices for individuals with developmental disabilities
To ensure your reservation at the Hyatt,
your room must be booked by May 11th @ 4:00 pm EDT

VOR's Annual Meeting & Legislative Initiative
Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.
June 9 - 13, 2018
VOR 2018 Annual Conference and Washington Initiative
June 9 - 13, 2018
All meetings will take place at the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill, 400 New Jersey Ave., NW, Washington, D.C.
Saturday, June 9, 2018
Registration: Network with families from across the country mmmmmmmmmmmm Noon
VOR Board of Directors Meeting & Report to Membership mmmmmmmmmmmmm 12:30 pm
          Annual meeting of the VOR Board of Directors, open to all members
          Committee Reports and Presentations
          Time will be provided for member questions and comments
Installation of VOR 2017-2018 Officers and Board Members mmmmmmmammmmm 3:30 pm
Reports from the States mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmammmmmmmmmm 4:00 pm
          Participants report on news from their states. Session is moderated by VOR Board Members
Sunday, June 10, 2018
Registration: Network with families from across the country mmmmmmmmmmmm 11:30 am
VOR Legislative Initiative 2018 mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm Noon
      Opening Remarks - Joanne St. Amand, President and Hugo Dwyer, Executive Director
      Panel Discussion on State Advocacy – Liz Belile (TX). Susan Jennings (PA), Rita Winkeler (IL)
      Guest Speakers – Kate McSweeny, Vice President on Govt. Affairs & General Counsel at ACCSES
     (Other speakers TBA)
Legislative Briefing mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm 3:00 pm
           Panel Discussion and Issue Briefing. Folders for Congressional visits will be distributed.
Awards and Events mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm 5:00 pm

VOR’s Sunday Dinner at The Dubliner - 7:00 pm
Sunday Dinner at The Dubliner is optional. The price is $35 per person. Alcoholic beverages are available at an extra charge.
We ask that you make a reservation in advance.

Monday, June 11 – Wednesday, June 13, 2018
The Washington Initiative
Visits to Capitol Hill - Personal meetings with Members and Congress and their staff are the most effective way to educate and influence federal lawmakers. Join VOR members and advocates from around the country to convey the importance of residential choice and family decision-making to Members of Congress. Be sure to plan enough time to cover your state’s Congressional Delegation.
Monday, June 11                                    Informal De-briefing mmmmmmm 6:30 - 8:00 pm
Tuesday, June 12                                    Informal De-briefing mmmmmmm 6:30 - 8:00 pm

To register for the conference and legislative initiative or make a dinner reservation at the Dubliner, go to:


VOR Members:
____        $90 per member if paid by April 30, 2018
____       $110 per member if paid after May 1, 2018
Non-VOR Members:       (Fee includes 1 year membership (Reg. $45)
____         $125 per person if paid by April 30, 2018
____        $150 per person if paid after May 1, 2018

Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill      400 New Jersey Ave, NW    Washington, D.C.    20001
We have a bloc of rooms available for conference attendees.
droppable-1525460223944The VOR Group rate is $279 for single or double rooms, plus tax, per night. Larger rooms & suites are also available.
To make your reservations online, go to:
If you do not have internet access, c all 1-888-421-1442 and mention “VOR’s Annual Conference” when making your reservation.

Congressional Lists Are Available NOW!
It's time to start making appointments for with your legislators for
Hill Visits during the Legislative Initiative, June 11 -13


Researchers Eye Controversial Marijuana Compound To Treat Severe Autism

By Gary Robbins, The San Diego Union-Tribune via Disability Scoop, May 1, 2018
The University of California, San Diego will try to alleviate severe autism in children by giving them a non-psychoactive chemical found in marijuana, a project funded by the biggest private donation ever made in the U.S. for such research.

The $4.7 million study involves the controversial compound cannabidiol, or CBD, which is widely marketed nationwide as something of a miracle drug, capable of treating everything from cancer to post-traumatic stress disorder.

Regulators believe CBD does show therapeutic promise. But they also say the miracle drug claims are wrong or based on anecdotes rather than scientific evidence. Last fall, the FDA warned four companies to stop saying things like, “CBD makes cancer cells commit ‘suicide’.”

UC San Diego dealt with the issue by asking the Ray and Tye Noorda Foundation of Lindon, Utah, for $4.7 million to study whether CBD can ease the most severe symptoms of autism, including seizures, self-injuring behavior and crippling anxiety.

The foundation agreed, and it is urging the federal government to remove marijuana from its list of
Schedule 1 drugs so that cannabis can be widely studied.

Schedule 1 drugs are defined as substances and chemicals that have no accepted use in medicine and a high potential for abuse. As a result, the government provides little money to study marijuana.

The listing contradicts the findings of many federal, industry and university scientists who say cannabis appears to be helpful for treating a variety of diseases and disorders, including epilepsy, chronic pain and the vomiting associated with chemotherapy.

Parents are pressing scientists to expand their research to autism spectrum disorder. Some parents have given CBD to their children with autism, notably in states like California where medical and recreational marijuana are legal.
“I’ve spoken to parents who swear that this is effective — but it needs to undergo scientific research,” said Scott Badesch, president of the Autism Society of America, which is based in Bethesda, Md.

Test Predicts Autism In Babies As Young As 3 Months
By Shaun Heasley, Disability Scoop, May 3, 2018
New research suggests that a simple, inexpensive test may be able to accurately identify whether or not children as young as 3 months will go on to have autism.

A study published online this week in the journal Scientific Reports found that the developmental disorder can be flagged in infants by measuring electrical activity in the brain using an electroencephalogram, or EEG.

The test was able to pick up on autism in some babies by 3 months and had near-perfect accuracy by 9 months.

“EEGs are low-cost, non-invasive and relatively easy to incorporate into well-baby checkups,” said Charles Nelson, director of the Laboratories of Cognitive Neuroscience at Boston Children’s Hospital and a co-author of the study. “Their reliability in predicting whether a child will develop autism raises the possibility of intervening very early, well before clear behavioral symptoms emerge. This could lead to better outcomes and perhaps even prevent some of the behaviors associated with ASD.”

The study looked at 99 children considered to be
at high risk for autism because they had an older sibling with the condition as well as 89 low-risk kids. All of the participants had EEGs at ages 3, 6, 9, 12, 18, 24 and 36 months and they took part in a traditional behavioral evaluation for autism.

Using computational algorithms, researchers assessed six different frequencies of the EEGs and were able to offer a “highly accurate” prediction of autism risk at just 3 months.

“The results were stunning,” said William Bosl, an associate professor of health informatics and clinical psychology at the University of San Francisco who worked on the study. “Our predictive accuracy by 9 months of age was nearly 100 percent. We were also able to predict ASD severity, as indicated by the (Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule) Calibrated Severity Score, with quite high reliability, also by 9 months of age.

Alaska - Arc Chapter To Pay Nearly $2.3 Million Over Medicaid Billing

By Annie Zak, Anchorage Daily News, May 1, 2018

An Anchorage nonprofit that serves people with developmental and intellectual disabilities has agreed to settle allegations about false Medicaid claims.The Arc of Anchorage will pay the Alaska Medicaid Program nearly $2.3 million, according to a statement from the Alaska Department of Law.

“The state contends the Arc submitted or authorized the submission of false claims to the Alaska Medicaid Program,” the statement said. “Specifically, the state contends the Arc billed for services not provided, and billed for overlapping services with the same provider. The state further
contends that the Arc failed to repay money owed to the Medicaid Program identified in audits performed by the Arc.”

The Arc received formal notice that an investigation was underway in May 2016, the nonprofit said in an emailed statement.

The organization’s current CEO, Barbara Rodriguez-Rath, was not in her current role when the billing problems occurred, the statement said. The billings in question happened between 2012 and 2016.

As part of the settlement agreement, the Arc of Anchorage is also required to enter into a five-year “corporate integrity agreement” with the Office of the Inspector General to prevent fraud, waste and abuse in the future.

Over the past week, a series of articles on the Ohio's crisis in meeting the needs of the I/DD community have been published in the Columbus Dispatch. We feature three of these articles below, followed by a letter from VOR's Caroline Lahrmann.
Crisis in Care: Number of support workers for the disabled plummets as demand rises
By Rita Price, The Columbus Dispatch, April 29, 2018
The commercial lasts less than a minute. Time enough, Ben Young hopes, for viewers to see what he needs and to imagine what he can give.
“Come change my life,” Young says in a computer-generated voice. “I promise it will change yours forever. Help me help myself.”

The pitch, from a bright and determined young man who can neither feed nor dress himself, or even speak clearly without aid of technology, is part of a statewide campaign to recruit the workers known as “direct support professionals.” The well-being of Young and tens of thousands of other Ohioans with developmental disabilities turns on the availability of competent and reliable support providers.

But the pool has gone frighteningly shallow.
Companies and nonprofit agencies that offer care and support to people with disabilities say they are struggling more than ever to attract workers, forcing some to terminate services and decline new clients. Parents go without sleep and take leave from their jobs to fill in. Adults and children with disabilities become frustrated, confused or upset at the churn of names and faces and routines.
We have a workforce crisis on our hands that is of mammoth proportions,” said Mark Davis, president of the Ohio Provider Resource Association.Davis, whose organization represents agencies that employ direct-support workers, said surveys show employee turnover at 50 percent.

Ten to 20 percent of jobs are vacant. About two-thirds of workers qualify for federal health-care assistance, and a majority put in overtime so people such as Young, who is severely affected by cerebral palsy, don’t go without critical services.
“We believe that 76 percent of people are working six days a week,” Davis said.

Awareness is part of the problem. Many would-be workers simply don’t know about the demand or have a notion of how rewarding the field can be, Davis said.

The bigger issue is pay. The average hourly wage for a direct-support provider in Ohio during 2016 was about $11.16 an hour — less than $24,000 a year.

Crisis in Care: Lack of quality caregivers, constant turnover tough on the disabled, families
By Rita Price, The Columbus Dispatch, April 30, 2018
More than a few times, Kenna Robinett says, she was asked to stop meddling and micromanaging. The agencies that had been hired to provide support and care for her twin nephews, both of whom have severe autism and cannot communicate verbally, said they could handle the situation if she would give them a chance.

“So I started tracking only the things that weren’t related to me or my opinions,” Robinett said.
The spreadsheet filled up quickly anyway.

Some of the entries seem ridiculous: Employees microwaving bread sticks on high for 10 minutes, until they looked like charcoal. Ice cream stored in a kitchen cabinet drawer, Hot Pockets served frozen.

Other notations were cause for alarm: A call from school after one of the 19-year-olds showed up with feces on his hands. Complaints from neighbors who heard screams. A message from a caseworker telling Robinett, who was in a Florida airport at the time, that there would be no one to care for the teens as of 3 p.m. that day because the disability-services agency was in trouble and shutting down.
“The quality of support that we’ve gotten from the agencies is not sufficient for me to be out of the picture,” Robinett said.

Demand is soaring for a workforce to help people with intellectual and developmental disabilities live as they and their families choose. But low wages, high levels of responsibility and a lack of awareness about “direct-support professional” jobs has led to a staffing crisis that threatens the promise of community living for thousands of Ohioans and others throughout the nation.

Advocates say employee turnover often exceeds 45 percent. “That comes at a cost, at the continuity of care,” said Gabrielle Sedor of the American Network of Community Options and Resources.

To be sure, the direct-support field has numerous competent and compassionate workers, along with well-run agencies. Scattered others seem poorly conceived. No matter their stature, many struggle to secure good employees willing to help care for society’s most vulnerable people in exchange for retail and fast-food pay rates.

Proposal aimed at whittling down waiting list for Medicaid waiver program
By Rita Price, The Columbus Dispatch, May 5, 2018
Amanda Biel’s 8-year-old daughter is on a waiting list for Medicaid-funded services that she probably doesn’t need. But because it often takes years to obtain one of the Medicaid waivers that pays for home- and community-based services for people with disabilities, Biel got her child in line early — as a toddler — just in case.

“I’m one of those thousands and thousands of parents who was told, ‘This is what you do,’” said Biel, who lives in Worthington.

The waiting list is now some 49,000 people long. State and county officials and many advocates say it’s become more of a haphazard compilation than accurate representation of the children and adults who most need help.

Biel agrees. She’s part of a “Fix the List” coalition that helped craft a proposed rule that spells out new waiver waiting-list requirements and procedures, including an assessment tool to determine eligibility. For years, individuals and families have been able to add names to the list on their own with little or no input from service coordinators.

The median wait time for a waiver in many Ohio counties exceeds six years. Most other states also have waiting lists for the highly sought waivers, which allow people with disabilities to get support such as personal care and homemaker services
while living in their communities instead of the residential centers known as ICFs, or intermediate-care facilities.

Not all advocacy groups support the proposed changes. Disability Rights Ohio submitted testimony that said the proposed rule misses the mark by focusing on managing the list instead of broad changes to the system, such as better pay and training for direct-support workers, expanded funding for waivers and making sure people have “real choice” about the services they receive.

Addressing those problems, executive director Michael Kirkman said, would eliminate the need to “fix the list.”

The Ohio Olmstead Task Force also withdrew its previous support, saying a recent change to the proposal seems to require counties to talk to waiting-list candidates about non-waiver, “institutional” options such as ICFs.

“This language forces individuals and families to reconsider their choice of community-based services due to lack of available resources,” Renee Wood, the task force chairwoman, said in written testimony.

Letter: Many Families Consider Care Facilities Superior
By Caroline Lahrmann, The Columbus Dispatch, May 4, 2018

The Dispatch articles regarding pay for professionals serving the intellectually disabled threw an important residential care option under the bus — intermediate care facilities (“Crisis in Care” series, April 29-30). Speaking from experience as a parent of disabled children, ICFs are loving homes that offer comprehensive care and community integration. Some ICFs are as small as community homes and others are large.

Regardless of size, ICFs are appreciated and highly regarded by families who struggle to find
safe and appropriate care for their disabled loved ones.

A workforce crisis does exist that affects both ICFs and community settings equally. Low pay and funding is one symptom of the problem. The difficulty of the work is another. Creative solutions are necessary, but pitting families and their care settings against each other is not the answer.

Individuals who take advantage of the economies of scale available in large ICF homes alleviate pressure on the community system, thus allowing more people to be served across all settings. Maintaining a full continuum of care options also ensures that individuals can find the right setting best suited to their needs, maximizing health, safety and happiness.


There was an error on page 7 in the print edition of the Spring, 2018 VOR Voice.

The article on HR 4547 incorrectly stated, "the Social Security Administration will provide a minimum of $25,000,000 annually to each state’s Protection and Advocacy agency. "

The corrected text reads:
VOR’s Concerns: While this Act ostensibly purports to protect the Social Security system from misuse of finances by representative payees who oversee funds for a beneficiary, and while this bill does have several laudable ideals, it also raises concerns for VOR families. Of greatest concern is the provision in Section 101, in which the Social Security Administration will provide a minimum of $25,000,000 annually, to be divided among the various state Protection and Advocacy agencies. The P&A’s are given the authority to identify representative payees and investigate their use, or misuse, of funds. We are concerned by P&A’s history of abusing their mandate by discriminating against ICF’s while overlooking abuses in the HCBS waiver system they are charged with protecting.

The error has been corrected in the online version of the VOR Voice, available on our website at or just click here
Massachusetts - Channel 5 Uncovers Tip of the DDS System Iceberg

By Dave Kassel, The COFAR Blog, May 4, 2018

A Channel 5 investigative report earlier this week disclosed that group homes and other providers of services to the developmentally disabled are often not informed about substantiated abuse allegations against individuals they hire as caregivers.

The TV news report also made the important point that abusers of disabled persons in Massachusetts are rarely prosecuted for those crimes.

In no way are we criticizing Channel 5 in saying they have uncovered the tip of an iceberg with their findings. Their report revealed more to the public about the Department of Developmental Services system than the rest of the media in the state and most state and legislative investigative authorities have reveald in recent years.

At the same time, it is important to keep in mind that abuse and neglect are only the most outward and visible signs of an overall breakdown in DDS’s largely privatized system.
In the past several months, we have tried to make the Legislature’s Children, Families, and Person’s with Disabilities Committee aware of these interrelated issues.

One of the first pieces of legislation that we think needs to be enacted is the guardian rights bill (H. 887), which has been stuck in the Judiciary Committee, effectively since 1999. The bill would require that probate judges presume that parents of developmentally disabled individuals are the proper guardians for them. That bill, if it ever passed, would give basic rights to family members that are not currently extended to them.

We think that proposed legislation to impose fines on providers that provide substandard care or that otherwise fail to adequately respond to instances of abuse could follow from that.

The Channel 5 report discussed the need for an additional piece of legislation (S. 2213), which would establish a registry containing the names of individuals who have had abuse or neglect allegations substantiated against them by the Disabled Persons Protection Commission or other agencies that investigate those issues.

Connecticut - To Prevent Strike, House Passes Bill Raising Wages Of Workers Who Care For The Disabled
By Sandra Gomez-Acevez, The Hartford Courant, May 2, 2018
n an effort to prevent a looming strike, the House of Representatives on Wednesday approved a bill that increases the wages of thousands of workers who care for people with intellectual disabilities at private group homes and day programs across Connecticut.

The measure was approved 88-62, with nine Republicans voting in favor. In a preliminary vote earlier in the day, the legislation passed 77-71 on strict party lines, with two Democrats absent.
The legislation now heads to the evenly split Senate, and its fate there — and whether a vote will be held before Monday’s strike — remains unclear. Three fiscally conservative Democrats could tip the balance on the agreement, giving Republicans the advantage.

For three hours Wednesday afternoon, the House debated the agreement, which is almost identical to one proposed by Ben Barnes, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s top budget adviser. The agreement, if approved by the Senate and signed by the governor, would raise the wage for the workers to at least $14.75 an hour and provide a one-time 5 percent raise for workers now earning more than $14.75 but less than $32 an hour. The workers’ wage scales have been largely unchanged for more than 10 years.

About 2,500 unionized workers are planning to strike on Monday if an agreement on wage increases is not passed by the General Assembly. The workers serve about 12,000 “high need
individuals with developmental disabilities” D’Agostino said.

“These are some of the most difficult and demanding tasks imaginable,” he said as the debate began about 3:40 p.m. Wednesday.
“There’s a massive disruption if [the strike] happens. … Our attention is focused on this right now because of the threat of the strike.”

Rep. Melissa Ziobron, R-East Haddam, and the ranking House Republican on the appropriations committee, immediately raised concerns about the legislation’s predicted cost.

“Once again, we are putting forward plans with no ability to pay for them because we don’t know the revenue package from my good friends on the other side of the aisle, but we know their spending plan,” Ziobron said.

A Republican amendment to give the workers a 1 percent cost-of-living adjustment, at a cost of $18 million, was rejected on a party-line vote.

“I have to say I am really disappointed in my colleagues on the other side of the aisle,” said Rep. Catherine Abercrombie, D-Meriden. “We’re all in this building trying to do the right thing. … Do we think it’s better for these people to go on strike and leave all these vulnerable people with nobody to serve them? No.”

The Right to Choose where to work: CRI, Wisconsin Groups Advocate for Disability Rights for Work
Samantha Stetzer, Chippewa Herald, Apr 27, 2018
Without Chippewa River Industries (CRI), Chris Jakubowicz isn’t sure what her son, Justin Jakubowicz, would do during the day.
For TJ Lane, CRI is safe.

Those who oppose CRI’s employment center model claim it’s segregated, that it doesn’t pay workers enough and it limits those with disabilities from working in the community.

Dave Lemanski, CRI’s president and CEO, disagrees.

“…who’s defining community? Why should I define it,” Lemanski said. “TJ should define what her community is. Justin should define what he determines his community is, and they should be able to live meaningful lives within that definition.”

CRI, an employment center headquartered in Chippewa Falls that offers employment and life skill opportunities and training for those with disabilities, celebrated National Day for Choice on Tuesday, April 24, advocating for their employees and those with disabilities to have the right to choose where they work and live.

The day was developed by the A-Team, a grassroots advocacy group that began in Fort Atkinson and has eight established chapters in Wisconsin. Twelve states have joined the A-Team’s efforts with established chapters.

The group promotes the work centers like CRI is doing by providing employment to people with disabilities and advocates against laws and regulations that claim the centers like CRI segregate those with disabilities away from the community and don’t pay enough by not offering minimum wage.

The wage argument, explained Ginger Waegli, support services manager at CRI, is that work centers are unfair because facilities not provide minimum wage to employees.

Through certificate approval every two years, Lemanski said the center provides payment to its employees based on a piece rate wage. Paying minimum wage, Lemanski said, is not realistic
when looking at “production percentages and predictability” because the facility’s employees may work at a “lower pace” than other workers.

Furthermore, Lemanski said he believes it would be discriminatory for the center to not allow people with disabilities work in the center, which focuses on sub-packaging and assembly for local and national businesses, Waegli said.

Lane and other CRI employees and advocates made a trip to Madison in March to talk to local lawmakers about supporting centers like CRI and advocating for the right to choose where to work.
The group joined more than 100 advocates in the Capitol and met with Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, Rep. Kathy Bernier (R-Lake Hallie) and an aide from Sen. Terry Moulton’s office (R-Chippewa Falls).

Wisconsin, Waegli said, has been relatively supportive of facilities like CRI.

In 2017, the state passed Resolution 51 through the Employment First Bill (Bill 625), which acknowledged the value of employment centers and services for individuals with disabilities and noted that the new state law should not prohibit someone from working within the facilities.

The resolution is extra backing for CRI.

“There’s a big there’s been a big push in the last five to 10 years to close these places,” Lemanski said. “Defund them, don’t fund them, and cut off their lifeline – that’ll force those people with disabilities into the community.”

“But where do they go,” Waegli responded. “That’s the issue. We serve 150 people here. Where would they go if we weren’t here? What would they do? Would they be sitting at home watching TV?

… And all the work we do is real work… it is real work that’s meaningful.”

Canada - Families plead with Ontario Government to Keep Sheltered Workshops Alive
By Caryn Lieberman, Global News, May 1, 2018
Duncan McDonald packs his lunch before he heads off to work at Torchlight Services in Guelph.
The 28-year-old has been attending the program since he graduated high school.

“I love working with my friends,” McDonald, who has Down Syndrome, explained.

But like other sheltered workshops in the province, Torchlight Services will no longer be providing work for people like McDonald because the province has been phasing out the program since 2015.

“With the official passage of Bill 148: Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017, the exemption to the Employment Standards Act that allowed for sheltered workshops in Ontario and denied either minimum wages, or overtime or hours of work protection or all of the above, has been removed,” Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services spokesperson Daniel Schultz noted.

Opponents of the program said it was exploiting people with disabilities by paying them less than the minimum wage. But families of participants at Torchlight Services said it has nothing to do with the money.

“For Duncan, having Down Syndrome and having a disability, he’s found a place where he can have a job that is meaningful to him that he does well and that he’s proud of,” Susan Wahlroth, Duncan McDonald’s mother, said.

She questioned whether the government’s decision may be a violation of human rights against the most vulnerable members of society.
“That choice of how he wants to spend his day has been taken away,” she noted.

“The special needs population is so diverse you have a number of different disabilities in there and within each disability you have a huge spectrum and everybody is capable of different things.”

At Torchlight Services, Bruce Poole’s eldest son, who has Autism and is non-verbal, sits quietly sorting screws in two boxes. It’s a simple task, but one that he enjoys.

“That work meant everything to him, you can put a puzzle in front of him, you can put colouring in front of him, but it doesn’t mean anything to him. He needs to be productive,” Poole, who also sits on the Board at Torchlight, explained.

“It’s a freedom of choice of employment. They don’t have to come here, they’ve chosen to come here because they like the environment, especially the staff that are trained and dedicated.”

Call For Entries! 2018 Application Period Now Open for Disability Reporting Contest

Posted on March 22, 2018 by
The National Center on Disability and Journalism

The National Center on Disability and Journalism is accepting entries for the 2018 Ruderman Foundation Awards for Excellence in Reporting on Disability.

This award is the only journalism contest devoted exclusively to disability coverage.

The Ruderman Foundation Awards for Excellence in Reporting on Disability recognize the best reporting on disability issues and people with disabilities that is being done in the U.S. and abroad.

More than $20,000 in cash awards will be given to first-, second- and third-place winners in large media and small media categories.

There is no entry fee for the competition, which is open to digital, broadcast and print media outlets.
Contest entries are due by midnight on Aug. 6, 2018. Entries must have been published or aired between July 1, 2017, and July 31, 2018. Entries are accepted from outside the U.S., although the work submitted must be in English. Awards are given to individuals or teams.

The 2018 winners will be recognized at a fall 2018 ceremony in Washington, D.C., featuring a keynote speaker on disability coverage as well as a disability reporting workshop for journalists.

Indiana - Task Force to Examine Support Needs for Hoosiers with Disabilities

A state plan for the support needs of Hoosiers with intellectual and developmental disabilities will get an update soon for the first time in 20 years. A new state task force aimed at helping the estimated 100,000 Indiana residents has scheduled meetings across the state.

The link to the livestream can be found here.
Dates, times and location for each meeting of the task force are as follows:
  • Wednesday, June 27, 2018, 10 a.m.--2 p.m. CT, Valparaiso
  • Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018, 11 a.m.--3 p.m. ET, New Albany
  • Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2018, 11 a.m.--3 p.m. ET, Columbia City
All meetings are open to the public and will be streamed live. Public comment will occur prior to the start of each meeting to provide input regarding services and supports for people with disabilities. Requests for accommodations for meetings of the task force should be made by contacting Kristina Blankenship at at least 48 hours in advance of the task force meeting.
For more information, visit:

VOR's Annual Meeting & Legislative Initiative
Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.
June 9 - 13, 2018
The conference will be held at the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill again this year. This is a very nice hotel and it is only a short walk to the Capitol and the Senate and House Office Buildings. We have reserved a bloc of rooms at the hotel for the event.

We are also accepting reservations for our Sunday Dinner at the Dubliner . This is an added event, with a $35 Prix-fixe menu that includes salad, entree, dessert, and non-alcoholic beverages (alcoholic beverages are available at an additional cost). This event has been popular in past years, so make sure to reserve your seat when you register. Space is limited, and this event has reached capacity in recent years, so make sure to reserve now!
836 South Arlington Heights Road #351 Elk Grove Village, IL 60007
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