Petition to U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Senate
Fair Pay for People with Disabilities: Pass the TIME Act
My name is Kayla McKeon. As the first registered federal lobbyist with Down syndrome, I need your help to show Congress it’s time to pass the Transitioning to Integrated and Meaningful Employment (TIME) Act, H.R. 1377, a bill which will make it illegal for employers to pay individuals with disabilities anything less than a minimum wage. It’s a little known fact that the majority of people with disabilities in our nation are paid below the federal minimum wage - sometimes as little as 30 cents an hour. There is no other class of people that employers can legally pay so little.People with disabilities are ready, willing and able to work but struggle to gain economic self-sufficiency due to the antiquated laws that hold us back. Now is the time to claim our civil right to earn a fair and equal wage! The National Down Syndrome Society, the leading human rights organization for all individuals with Down syndrome, has identified subminimum wage as one of the issues that we need and can work quickly to change. Passing the TIME Act will amend Section 14c of the Fair Labor Standards Act that allows employers to pay individuals with disabilities below minimum wage. Passing the TIME Act will be a huge step forward for individuals with Down syndrome and other disabilities. I love being the first registered lobbyist with Down syndrome because I get to work with representatives and senators to help make our lives better. I have always believed if they can see my face or others with a personal story, they will remember us when they are voting. I want them to remember me and how I am capable of doing this job and deserve to be paid fair and equal wages. My friends deserve the same - they are capable and deserve to be paid accordingly, that is why I am working so hard to pass the TIME Act. Join me in my fight for a fair and equal wage for all people with disabilities. Please sign this petition to show your support and ask your elected representative to cosponsor the TIME Act, H.R. 1377.
Petition to Bill Schuette, Jeff Sessions, Department of Homeland Security, Gary C. Peters
Keep Francis Anwana, a deaf and disabled immigrant, in the United States
Francis Anwana is a deaf and disabled Nigerian immigrant who came to the United States of America on a student visa when was just 14 years old. Once enrolled at the Michigan School for the Deaf, Francis was taught sign language and given resources for his cognitive disability which were not afforded to him in his native Nigeria. Francis is now 48, lives in an adult foster care facility and works small jobs at a church in Detroit. He has said he's happy here. Michigan has been his home for 34 years. Nigeria is not a country he has been accustomed to since he was a teenager. On September 5th, ICE notified Francis that he would be deported on September 11th. Advocates were able to delay his deportation and set a meeting with immigration officials. Several years ago, Francis' visa was not renewed because caretakers lost track of his case since he was frequently moved around group homes. Due to his disability, he reads at a second-grade level. Francis depends on the help of others to initiate and aid in his residential status proceedings. Several attempts have been made to achieve citizenship for Francis, which he has been denied and instead placed in deportation proceedings. An attempt was also made to seek asylum based on the conditions people with disabilities are treated in Nigeria, but he was denied. (Link below on how the disabled are treated in Nigeria) Francis has no criminal record and has been compliant with ICE officials. Join us in telling ICE officials and elected officials that the deportation of Francis Anwana would be inhumane. To deport him would mean taking him from the resources and community where he has been allowed to flourish, only to release him into an environment in which he would not be able to receive proper medical care and treatment. Deportation would mean treating his disability as a crime. Please sign and share our petition to help Francis remain in the USA. Resources: https://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/detroit/2018/09/08/deaf-immigrant-deportation-francis-anwana/1226728002/ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5433448/ https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.usatoday.com/amp/1243524002
Petition to Christina Abernethy
Time For Change-Not On The Floor! Disability Friendly Restrooms
Please help me spread the word and create much needed change! When your child or another loved one has a disability, families often feel isolated. Due to a lack of resources and proper supports, there are many times when they just can’t do certain things or go certain places like everybody else. What happens when families do make the choice to venture out for the day and then realize there are no accommodations for your loved one who faces unique and difficult challenges? One of those challenges on my mind and heart that I know tens of thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of people can relate to being able to utilize public restrooms. Where do I change my son who is 7 years old and 70 pounds? He’s too large for the baby changing station, of course. If I try to change him standing up, it creates a mess and he gets even more upset. We are left with no choice but to change him on the FLOOR. That's right ... a cold, dirty, germ-laden floor. No parent or caregiver should have to lay their child (or adult loved one) on a public restroom floor and change them while everyone is staring and pointing fingers. And how absolutely degrading is that to the individual being changed? It is mortifying for them and it is unacceptable. Every time I change my son in public, my heart breaks a little more. Quite frankly, it brings me to tears. My sweet boy has autism and sensory processing disorder. Public restrooms are already difficult for him because of the loud sounds (automatic flushing toilets, blaring hand dryers, rapid flowing sinks, music playing as if you were in a concert hall) Typically he has to wear his noise cancelling head phones just to go into a public restroom or he cannot tolerate them at all. It is very stressful for him. When he has a toileting accident while we are in public, we are forced to change our son ... on the floor. I’ve created a video for you to watch and share to further spread this critical message. We need to get the word out and talk about the difficulties that families like ours face every day! We are grateful that our son is able to stand and able to walk, but what are families doing with their loved ones that are in wheelchairs? I can tell you from previous conversations with other parents ... they leave. Their loved ones sit in soiled underwear or pull-ups for an entire car ride home and they get changed in the privacy of their home. Not only are they punished by sitting in their own urine or bowel movements, but often lose out on a family outing or social opportunity because public places have no reasonable, sanitary, or humane accomodations. This NEEDS to change! We CAN and MUST do BETTER. We should not be forced to leave or change our loved ones on dirty floors of public restrooms. There needs to be an area that is safe, private and accommodating for families with disabilities. Adult changing tables need to be added so that our families and their loved ones can be an ACTIVE, INCLUSIVE part of the community. I am at the begininning stages of trying to implement changes. I am asking you to please watch my video, sign my petition, and help me get the word out about just how very important this issue is to families with loved ones who have special needs. I will continue to reach out to state legislators, contact more business owners, and have dialogue with organizations to assist. I will continue to post updates as they become available. Thank you in advance for your support! https://www.facebook.com/LoveHopeandAutism/videos/1961784077230402/
Petition to Department of Veterans Affairs, President of the United States, Department of Defense
Give Corey the benefits and care he has earned!
My son was assaulted by a soldier breaking his neck. He was hit from behind because he didn’t want to get into the car with them. The Army says this is my son’s fault because if he had gotten in the car when he was told to, he wouldn’t have been hit breaking his neck. After breaking his neck the soldiers picked Corey up and placed him in the back of a compact car between two other soldiers. They had a Sgt and a paramedic meet them in the parking lot of the barracks where the paramedic evaluated my son and did not call an ambulance for him to stabilize him. It took about 3 hours for them to get Corey to the military hospital where they did not have a neurosurgeon. The Army refuses to transfer him to a WTU they refuse to start a medboard and they refuse to say this is in the line of duty. SOLDIERS did this to my son. SOLDIERS moved my son around and hauled him around in a car for hours with a broken neck. A Paramedic trained by the army looked at my son, documented that he was barely breathing, paralyzed, had low blood pressure and heart rate, and was in and out of consciousness. This paramedic had a responsibility to call an ambulance to stabilize my son’s spinal cord and administer oxygen, fluids, and medication for his heart rate and blood pressure. A paramedic had the responsibility to transfer my son to a hospital with a neurosurgeon on duty to stabilize my son. Due to the care and treatment he received at the hands of soldiers and a paramedic on post, my son suffered bleeding into the spinal cord as well as having bone fragments impinging on his spinal cord. He went from paraplegic to quadriplegic all while in he hospital. Now my son is not eligible for any grants for adaptive technology, home and vehicle modifications, transport to and from therapy, durable medical equipment, or home health care. He is not eligible because the Army refuses to take responsibility for their part in my son’s injuries. I cannot sue because of something called the Fares Doctrine. My son has suffered enough! For the rest of his life he will have to have someone help him with everyday tasks. He cannot even control his own bowel and bladder function. He is 23 years old. Help me get the benefits my son deserves!! I have 5 kids and have worked hard to get where I am. I am a RN who works at the VA hospital in our area and I am going to lose my job. My FMLA is up this month and I will have to return to work. They won’t even let me work part time so I can care for Corey. Without the benefits being withheld we will lose everything! I can’t leave him by himself and he has to go to therapy. I was told last week to apply for Medicaid. I shouldn’t have to. He is coveeed on my insurance and the army has some responsibility for the extent of his injuries. PLEASE help in any way you can! To read more of our story or to help share or donate to help with modifications we so desperately need for our home please follow this link https://www.youcaring.com/coreyshackelford-1038083 or you can find my story on Facebook @accountabilityforcorey
Petition to v. Kirvelaitis, p. Camalliere, m. Skibinski, c. Hogan, c. Sanders, t. burton, t. culcasi, s. pointon
Justice for Miss Mary (Mary Inman)--Lemont Library
According to the patch and those interviewed, Ms. Mary Inman was recently dismissed from her position at the library without cause after a year of possible discrimination and hostility. The matter needs to be looked into immediately. Miss Mary is the "face" of the Lemont Library and has touched so many lives both young and old. She has served the residents of Lemont for 31 years and deserves our support. Through her hard work and programs, she has helped community members come together to make meaningful and lasting relationships, and played an important role in the lives of many children (generations of children). This petition is linked to the board members' email addresses. Let them know that the people of Lemont are upset, and that they need to find out exactly what transpired at the library. Any wrong doing needs to be righted. The library is funded by taxes paid by the people of the community, and Miss Mary is definitely highly revered by those people. If she struggled with completing her job due to health issues as somewhat suggested by the article, then we provide accommodations or modifications to support her so that she can complete the job because she has earned that after 31 years of dedication and service-- we do not dismiss her. Photo courtesy of the Lemont Patch Link to the article: https://patch.com/illinois/lemont/firing-beloved-lemont-librarian-angers-residents
Petition to Dannell P. Malloy
Keep Camp Harkness Alive
In the State of Connecticut, a grievous fault has occurred. Governor Dannel Malloy has been making extreme budget cuts in all of the wrong places and our special needs community is feeling the brunt. It has been brought to my attention that my son's Birth to Three agency is being forced to close its doors due to funding not being provided by our crumbling state. Birth to Three’s mission is to “strengthen the capacity of families to meet the developmental and health-related needs of their infants and toddlers who have delays or disabilities.” Some of the remaining agencies will be merging together, leaving fewer resources to appropriately serve the population. My son has received therapy services from this same agency since he was six months old due to torticollis and his premature size. Thanks to his amazing therapists, they have helped him crawl, walk, make leaps and bounds with his speech and provided us with additional supports that we will forever be grateful for. It is mind boggling to think that not only will his therapists be out of their jobs, but what the future holds for so many families who rely heavily on these services. How could the state of Connecticut possibly cut services to babies with developmental delays and disabilities when early intervention is so crucial? There is more devastating news and this affects not just infants, but ALL people living with disabilities. Governor Dannel Malloy has a “proposed” bill to shut down Camp Harkness, our state park serving people with disabilities. Camp Harkness is unique among all state parks, bequeathed to our state veterans and children and adults of all ages living with disabilities. This special state park offers access and opportunities not available in other state parks and is the only beachfront camp in the entire country for people with disabilities. Through the vast use of cabins, cottages, participants of special events, tent campers, and day visitors numbering in excess of over 35,000 per year, as well as usage by 106 other groups and agencies, it is evident Camp Harkness is a “jewel” like our governor went on record to say. Governor Dannel Malloy visited Camp Harkness in the summer of 2013 to give praise to the camp and the services that they provide. He visited due to the restorations that occurred after Hurricane Sandy devastated the grounds in the fall of 2012. “Camp Harkness is a jewel of Connecticut,” said Governor Malloy. “This is the only beachfront camp for individuals with disabilities in the country and with FEMA’s help like so many other communities in Connecticut, it has been restored to its original beauty.” http://www.ct.gov/dds/cwp/view.asp?Q=527392 Our state has invested significantly over the past number of years to improve the facilities and the user experience. The federal government allocated FEMA funds as well as to preserve this jewel of Connecticut. They too saw the importance and significance of Camp Harkness to those who need it. How can Governor Malloy so easily negate the needs of his citizens and the feelings of the federal government? So much has been invested in Camp Harkness and Malloy seeks to undo it with one swift swipe of his pen. I strongly urge you to please sign this petition and stand behind the 35,000 families of the special needs community who benefit so greatly from this state facility and keep this one of a kind state park open to the people who deserve this wonderful park the most. Be the voice of this community that doesn’t have the reach to share their feelings and experiences directly with those who have the power to decide the future of such a beautiful and meaningful place!
Petition to Don Davis
Vehicles for the Vulnerable
Like many families with disabled family members, transportation is a struggle with my son Jayden and me. A wheelchair accessible van would alleviate our issues, but the cost is too high for a working mother with student loan debt and other expenses that come with daily life. Medicaid can help, but their policies make it nearly impossible to get what families need. They help with accessible vehicles in two ways. They will either pay to add modifications to an unmodified vehicle, or they will help with the purchase of a previously modified vehicle by paying the cost of the conversion toward the total price of the vehicle. Recently, I requested an already modified vehicle, and was approved but only for $7,175.00. A conversion costs upwards of $20,000. I learned that for unmodified vehicles, Medicaid pays for nearly 20 conversion items, but will only cover four items on a previously modified vehicle. Many conversion items on previously modified vehicles are necessary for even the most basic conversion. For example, any vehicle with a ramp needs a lowered floor, but that item isn't covered by Medicaid for previously modified vehicles, though it IS covered on unmodified vehicles. If Medicaid would cover the same conversion items on a previously modified vehicle as they do on unmodified vehicles, I would be able to purchase the vehicle and finance the remaining cost. I don't want to buy an unmodified vehicle because there is no guarantee modifications would be approved, and the conversion process itself takes eight to ten weeks. I have already been battling Medicaid for over three months. Please sign this petition to require Medicaid to cover the same conversion items on a previously modified vehicle that they cover on a modified vehicle. My child should not have to be confined to our home over a policy which can be revised to work in favor of our disabled children, rather than against them. ********* While I'm fighting this policy, I still need adequate transportation for my son. Therefore, I am posting the link to a GoFundMe Campaign to raise the money to purchase a vehicle in the meantime. Any money raised will be applied to the cost of the vehicle, whether Medicaid helps or not. Thanks again!******** https://www.gofundme.com/JaydensNewRide&rcid=r01-153791699669-e7741e5ab4bd4035&pc=ot_co_campmgmt_w
Petition to Charlie Baker, Massachusetts State Senate, Massachusetts State House
Disability for Firefighters with Parkinson's Disease due to toxins on the job.
A fire can expose firefighters to millions of chemicals and toxins. We have become aware of the massive risks these toxins pose for first responders, who breathe them in, ingest them, and absorb them through the skin while putting their lives on the line. Most states have adopted “cancer presumptive laws,” meaning that if a firefighter gets cancer on the job, they are automatically awarded accidental disability to see them through their illness. But the increased rate of Parkinson’s Disease (PD), a degenerative brain disorder, in firefighters has mostly been ignored. I am a firefighter who was recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s. I am not alone -- while the rate of PD in the general population is 3 out of 1000, it is 30 out of 1000 for firefighters. I am young to be experiencing this disease, but that’s often how it works for emergency responders, and there is mounting evidence that our exposure to burning chemicals is the culprit. I have 12 years left until I reach retirement, and, unfortunately, I am not sure I'll be able to keep working that long. My state of Massachusetts has great presumptive laws for firefighters, not only for cancer, but for heart and lung disease as well. It is now time for our legislators to include Parkinson’s Disease among these illnesses. We cannot ignore the connection between toxic chemical exposure and PD anymore. While PD usually develops slowly among the general population, symptoms often hit firefighters fast, seemingly out of nowhere. Research now suggests that toxin-induced PD has a more rapid onset than genetic PD, another indicator that we are, indeed, contracting this illness on the job. For those of us struggling with Parkinson’s, walking, talking, grasping and even blinking become increasingly difficult tasks to accomplish. Needless to say, continuing to work as firefighters while battling this disease is most often not possible. Indiana recently became the first state to include Parkinson’s in its presumptive law. This has provided unimaginable relief to many firefighters, who were running out of sick time, and facing unemployment and massive medical bills due to their debilitating disease. We now must band together and demand that more states recognize the link between firefighting and PD, and include PD among the illnesses covered by their presumptive laws. Please sign this petition to include Parkinson's in Massachusetts’ presumptive law, which would allow firefighters with Parkinson's to retire on full accidental disability.