LSA-DN Weekly Update

Disability Network News
Friday, June 19, 2020


Advocacy Update

Protecting Family Caregivers from Discrimination Act (S. 3878)

Sen. Cory Booker has introduced legislation, the Protecting Family Caregivers from Discrimination Act (S. 3878), establishing employment discrimination protections for spouses, parents, grandparents, siblings and others who care for a relative of any age with special needs. The bill prohibits employers from retaliating against workers who seek enforcement of discrimination protections; prohibits employers from firing, demoting or taking other adverse actions against workers who are caregivers for their loved ones; and establishes a grant program to assist in combating and preventing such discrimination. Once posted, bill text will be available here. See related news clip under National section below.

Paycheck Protection Program EZ Loan Forgiveness Application

In addition to its new application form for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, related to changes required by a newly enacted law, the Small Business Administration (SBA) has just released the "Paycheck Protection Program EZ Loan Forgiveness Application." You can find the loan forgiveness application at SBA's website here. If you still need to apply for a PPP loan, full information on the program can be found on the SBA website here. For further information, please contact Sarah Dobson, Director of Public Policy and Advocacy, at or 202-499-5832 or Jen Beltz at or (202) 499-5846.

Coronavirus Resources

Lutheran Services in America has compiled a list of COVID-19 news and resources that is regularly updated. In particular, we are tracking philanthropic and federal funding opportunities and requirements for our members and compiling a list of upcoming webinars, meetings, and events. Be sure to check out these pages and feel free to reach out to or with any related questions you have. 


COVID-19's transportation implications for people with disabilities

Despite COVID-19’s mandated social distancing measures, people with disabilities, older adults and other vulnerable populations still need access to life-sustaining transportation services and deliveries. As noted by the Washington Post, “Transit is not an urban amenity; it’s life support for people who need it.” To understand the profound impact transportation has on individuals living with disabilities, we have to acknowledge their increased risk of contracting COVID-19, either from underlying health conditions or from the lack of social distancing due to required care or other essential supports. The Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund warns, “The virus itself hits people with underlying conditions harder, and long-standing discrimination in our healthcare system means that people with disabilities are most likely to bear the burden of ‘rationing’ measures that hospitals and providers will put into place as patient needs strain the resources of the U.S. healthcare system.” The “rationing” measures imposed on people living with disabilities does not end with the U.S. health care system; it extends further to our nation’s transportation services and mobility management sector.

More from The Hill

Blind Voters Fear Loss of Privacy With Shift to Mail Voting

Not that long ago, Ann Byington had to squeeze into a voting booth with a Republican poll watcher on one side and a Democrat on the other reading her voting choices out loud so her ballot could be marked for her and the selections verified.

Blind since birth, Byington welcomed the rise in recent years of electronic voting machines equipped with technology that empowered her and others with disabilities to cast their ballots privately and independently.

But now, as election officials plan a major vote-by-mail expansion amid fears of voting in person during the coronavirus pandemic, Byington worries she is being left out. When the presidential primary in Kansas was held entirely by mail last month, the 72-year-old Topeka resident had to tell her husband how she wanted to vote so he could fill out the ballot for her.

“I’m back to where we started,” Byington said. “I’ve lost all my freedom to be independent, to make sure it’s marked how I want it to be marked.”

More from The New York Times

Senate Proposal Seeks Protections for Family Caregivers

Employers would be barred from discriminating against workers who care for family members with developmental disabilities or other special needs under a new federal bill.

Legislation introduced this month in the U.S. Senate would prohibit employers from refusing to hire an applicant or taking “adverse action” against an employee — including firing, demoting or mistreating them — because of their caregiving responsibilities.

More from Disability Scoop


Cop Who Killed Nonverbal Man At Costco Violated Department Policy

A Los Angeles police officer violated department policy when he fatally shot a man with a mental disability and wounded the man’s parents while shopping at a Costco, the Police Commission ruled this week.

LAPD Chief Michel Moore also found the off-duty shooting out of policy and will now decide whether the officer, Salvador Sanchez, will keep his job.

More from Disability Scoop

Parents, Educators Split Over Resuming In-Person Special Education

Parents and education officials are sharply divided over the possibility of resuming in-person education for students with disabilities after Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order allowing districts to restart face-to-face special education instruction for the summer.

Roughly 40,000 students with disabilities who attend specialized District 75 schools get extra instruction during the summer as part of their legally-mandated special education services — support the New York City Education Department has been planning on providing virtually. More from Disability Scoop

Research & Reports

Sleep Problems In Babies Might Signal Autism

Babies who have trouble falling asleep might later be diagnosed with autism, a new study suggests.

In a study led by the University of Washington and published recently in the American Journal of Psychiatry, researchers found that “sleep problems in a baby’s first 12 months may not only precede an autism diagnosis, but also may be associated with altered growth trajectory in a key part of the brain, the hippocampus.”

More from Disability Scoop

Despite Recommendations, Genetic Testing Rare Among Those With Autism

It is widely recommended that individuals with autism receive a battery of genetic tests, but new research finds strikingly few people on the spectrum partaking.

Just 3 percent of those with autism have received both chromosomal microarray and fragile X testing, according to findings from a study published recently in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Medical Genetics and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry all recommend both assessments in order to determine more precisely what might underlie an individual’s symptoms and point to treatment options, the researchers said.

More from Disability Scoop

Resources, Opinions & Opportunities

Calling Trump unwell doesn't hurt Trump. It hurts disabled people.

President Trump’s struggle to walk down a ramp and access a glass of water during his commencement address at the United States Military Academy at West Point has once again sparked questions about his well-being. Cable news networks like MSNBC and CNN dedicated time to discussing the president’s health and fitness for office.

Social media blew up with activities including #TrumpWaterChallenge and #HowToRamp. The Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump Republican group, pushed the hashtag #TrumpIsNotWell on social media, which led to Trump defending himself on Twitter. More from The Washington Post

How can we help vulnerable residents get proper protection in Heroes Act

As Congress continues crafting the next COVID-19 recovery bill, it is essential that they build in adequate services and support for those living with intellectual disabilities and mental health challenges. Their vulnerability to this virus is a double edged sword, one whose cut will be felt for years to come. They are both at high risk for severe illness should they become infected and for the serious social, economic, and health impacts when they lose access to their programs. The HEROES Act can indeed by heroic, but only if it has the proper protections in place for vulnerable New Jersey residents.  More from

Lutheran Services in America's Front Line Heroes

Each day, Lutheran Services in America posts a story about heroes working on the front lines. Those posts are meant to celebrate the extraordinary work of Lutheran social ministries, and elevate the commitment to serving communities throughout crises. Read front line hero stories here.

To submit stories front line hero stories, email Caitlyn Gudmudsen at

Upcoming Events

LSA-DN 2020 Summer Meeting
August 5-6, 2020
Agenda for what will be our virtual summer meeting due to COVID-19 concerns to be shared shortly

LSA-DN 2021 Winter Meeting
February 24-26, 2021
Details TBD


For more information on our topic specific work groups, please email Jen Beltz at

  • Policy & Advocacy Team
  • Culture and Engagement Workgroup
  • Administrative Cost Survey Working Group

Keep in Touch

Lisa Morgan
DN Convener
Chief Operating Officer, Lutheran Family Services of Virginia

Rita Wiersma
DN Treasurer
Chief Executive Officer, Accord

Jen Beltz 
VP, External Affairs, Lutheran Services in America