National Council on Disability Report Outlines Solutions for Improving Equality and Increasing Federal Savings

National Council on Disability  crest

In November, the National Council on Disability (NCD) released National Disability Policy: A Progress Report, which assesses US disability policy and examines how emerging trends and government policies influence the quality of life of Americans with disabilities. NCD also provides recommendations for improving the quality of life of people with disabilities.

"The current economic downturn is having a disproportionate negative effect on the quality of life for people with disabilities and their families,” said Jonathan Young, NCD chairman. “A strong federal commitment to the implementation and enforcement of the standard set forth by the Americans with Disabilities Act will be central in determining both success and savings in these difficult economic times. This report provides a necessary snapshot of where we're at—and clear, workable suggestions for moving forward."

The NCD addresses the gamut of issues for people living with disabilities, including housing, transportation, healthy living, emergency preparedness, parental rights and technology access. The report offers an assessment of government policies relating to these topics. The NCD also recognizes the preference for home-based care and recommends that Congress eliminate the institutional bias in Medicaid.

Some highlights of the report’s recommendations are

  • The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) should increase affordable, accessible and integrated housing for people with disabilities.
  • HUD should increase housing vouchers for people with disabilities.
  • Congress and HUD should create a permanent home modification fund to pay for reasonable accommodations in private market housing.
  • Congress should redirect federal housing and treatment funds now supporting institutional facilities (nursing homes, etc.) toward integrated housing options.
  • Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention should conduct a national public awareness campaign focusing on the benefits of fitness and healthful lifestyles for people with disabilities and the need to make leisure and recreational activities accessible and inclusive.
  • Congress should hold a hearing to examine the experiences of air travelers with disabilities, industry best practices and enforcement activities by the US Department of Transportation and develop corrective actions to make nondiscrimination in air travel a reality.
  • Congress should pass legislation that charges the Office of Disability Integration and Coordination (ODIC) with coordinating within the US Department of Homeland Security and with other key stakeholders to integrate people with disabilities into emergency preparedness, mitigation, response and recovery.
  • ODIC should provide training for people with disabilities on preparing for emergencies, including training for people with disabilities who have limited English proficiency.
  • States must eliminate statutes that include disability as grounds for termination of parental rights.
  • The Department of Education should issue further guidance to colleges and universities on meeting the accommodation needs of underserved disability categories in higher education settings as well as on meeting the accommodation needs of students with disabilities in undergraduate, graduate and professional education.
  • The Office of Disability Employment Policy should conduct an information awareness campaign to dispel myths about disability and educate employers about the benefits of hiring employees with disabilities through a variety of media outlets, involving the disability and business communities in the process of developing the campaign.

A copy of the full report is available here.