LSA-DN Weekly Update

Disability Network News
Friday, July 24, 2020


The Lutheran Services in America Strength & Service Series

Lutheran Services in America is taking full and active advantage of the virtual space to help our member organizations nationwide stay in the know on new and evolving practices and resources — curating a broad lineup of topics and subject matter expertise. This month we are pleased to launch our continuing virtual program, the Strength & Service Series. Strength & Service is an ongoing, interactive, virtual gathering of the best minds in our space, laser-focused on examining and tackling the unintended consequences and uncertainties in today’s climate — all with the goal of helping move your organization forward.

By drawing on the expertise of external influencers and our member organizations’ own vital lessons learned, we’re able to share tailored content and facilitate deeper connections to help meet your unique needs during this historic moment. The combination of our broad array of providers and central thought leaders in our space will make for truly symbiotic, interactive dialogue in a safe and trusting space — exactly when we all need it the most. We view these timely virtual convenings as critical to your organizations, to the many people you serve and to the future of Lutheran social ministry in America as a whole.

Upcoming Series Webinars

  • August 25, 2020 Time: 1–2:30 p.m. EDT Host: Corey Flournoy, Principal at Creative Outreach Consulting, LLC and Global Head of Inclusion and Diversity at Groupon
    Register here

    The goal of allyship is to create a relationship in which marginalized people feel valued, supported, and heard. Being an ally is not a label - it is a verb.

    Leaders from throughout the Lutheran Services in America network are invited to join an engaging, guided conversation about an important relationship needed for success. Though sometimes difficult to achieve for marginalized employees, allyship can be a dynamic and powerful learning and relationship-building tool. By building meaningful two-way relationships imbued with empathy, allies offer and give each other support and commit to lean on and learn from each other. Allyship can strengthen and change the Lutheran Services in America network for the better across cultural lines. This interactive, 90-minute virtual session will be led by Corey Flournoy, Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion at Groupon and founding partner of Creative Outreach Consulting in Chicago.

    Registration is limited to Lutheran Services in America member organizations. Capacity is limited to 100 attendees.


Outline of Next Senate Relief Package Begins to Emerge

On Thursday, details about the first draft of Leader McConnell’s legislative proposal for the next coronavirus relief package began to emerge.  While lawmakers cautioned that this is just a preliminary draft, it represents the first step in negotiating the final version of the bill which lawmakers are expected to vote on in the next two weeks.  Included at this point is a second round of forgivable loans via the Paycheck Protection Program for entities with 300 or fewer employees, broad liability protections for businesses and health care providers, a reduction in the amount of enhanced unemployment insurance benefits, and an enhanced employee retention tax credit. The next version of the bill is anticipated next week. We encourage you to join us in asking Senators to include our key priorities in this package by sending them a message using our advocacy tool.

Please Join Us in Urging Senators to Support People with Disabilities and Those Who Serve Them

Since conversations continue among Hill staff tied to a potential fourth COVID-19 relief package, we invite you to join us in an LSA-DN outreach effort to reach and help influence your Senators. We ask that you urge them to include in the next COVID-19 relief bill specific provisions benefitting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and to safeguard the Medicaid-funded supports they rely on to be safe during the pandemic. These provisions were included in the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act passed by the House of Representatives on May 15, and it is critical that they be included in the Senate version of this legislation:

  • A 10% increase in funding for Home- and Community-Based Services
  • Classification of Direct Support Professionals as essential workers, thereby making them eligible for increased wages through the “Heroes Fund”
  • Additional funding for the Public Health & Social Services Emergency Fund to ensure appropriate relief for community disability providers

You may contact your Senators either using our advocacy tool to send email messages, OR by calling their offices. You may identify your state’s two Senators and find their phone numbers by clicking here.

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.


Schools Want IDEA Liability Protections From Congress

Concerned that the pandemic will prompt an onslaught of special education litigation, school leaders want federal lawmakers to grant them liability protections related to their obligations under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

AASA, The School Superintendents Association, as well as the National School Boards Association and the Association of Educational Service Agencies are calling on Congress to include the protections in the next COVID-19 response legislation.

More from Disability Scoop

How Equity Is Lost When Companies Only Hire Workers With Disabilities

As a summer associate, Haley Moss wanted to be writing motions and attending depositions — not analyzing data. But that’s what she found herself doing at her new law firm job in 2017. Her manager knew she had autism, and Ms. Moss said she wondered if the job duties given to her were based on assumptions that she could synthesize information “like a human supercomputer. ”The Miami-based lawyer felt similar constraints at other jobs.

“I think it’s a really difficult thing to unpack because as a new lawyer, of course I wanted to learn anything I could and always wanted to have important work to do,” said Ms. Moss, 25, who in January 2019 became the first openly autistic lawyer to be sworn into the Florida Bar. “But I always felt this pressure to perform above level at times in those types of technical tasks to live up to the belief. I didn’t want to disappoint anyone.”

More from The New York Times

Biden Calls For End To Waiting Lists For Medicaid Waivers

With a new $775 billion plan, former Vice President Joe Biden says he wants to eliminate the wait for Medicaid home- and community-based services while increasing support for caregivers.

The presumptive Democratic nominee for president issued a wide-ranging proposal this week to address the nation’s “caregiving crisis” that touches on everything from better care for the elderly and people with disabilities to boosting access to affordable child care and preschool.

More from Disability Scoop

Building Accessibility Into America, Literally

The Capitol Crawl, it came to be called. In March 1990, several dozen activists, cheered on by supporters, left their canes and wheelchairs and pulled themselves up the steep stone steps of the United States Capitol.

They wanted to pressure Congress into ratifying the Americans With Disabilities Act. At the heart of what became a landmark of civil rights legislation was the elemental role of architecture and design — literally building accessibility into cities, products, public spaces and workplaces, without which equity would remain just talk. Business leaders predicted doomsday costs if the A.D.A. passed. The New York Times even published an editorial titled “Blank Check for the Disabled?

Thirty years on, the A.D.A. has reshaped American architecture and the way designers and the public have come to think about civil rights and the built world. We take for granted the ubiquity of entry ramps, Braille signage, push buttons at front doors, lever handles in lieu of doorknobs, widened public toilets, and warning tiles on street corners and subway platforms. New courthouses, schools and museums no longer default to a flight of stairs out front to express their elevated ideals. The A.D.A. has baked a more egalitarian aesthetic of forms and spaces into the civic DNA.

But there’s still a long way to go.

More from The New York Times

People with disabilities see huge job losses; will pandemic roll back ADA gains?

Thirty years ago, the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law, giving people with disabilities their hard-fought civil rights — the first comprehensive law addressing the needs of people with disabilities. President George H.W. Bush once confided it was among his proudest achievements.

We mark this significant anniversary this Sunday, July 26, but there is a cloud hanging over any celebrating. As we consider the enormous implications of the novel coronavirus on our society, we are worried about how this crisis ends for people with disabilities. We also are concerned there could be a rolling back of the gains we’ve seen since the ADA became law.

More from The Hill

After #OscarsSoWhite, Disability Waits for Its Moment

If history is a guide, one of the surest ways to get an Oscar is by being a nondisabled person playing a disabled character.

About 25 actors have won Oscars for such performances, including Jamie Foxx for “Ray” (2005) and Angelina Jolie for “Girl, Interrupted” (1999), according to the Ruderman Family Foundation, which advocates for inclusion of people with disabilities in employment.

More from The New York Times


About half of California prison inmates killed by COVID-19 were disabled, advocates say

More than half of the California prison inmates who’ve died after contracting the coronavirus as of early this week had disabilities known to the state corrections department, according to a group of attorneys who are suing the state for better conditions.

More from The Sacramento Bee

Apples Invests In Housing For People With Developmental Disabilities

Technology-giant Apple is putting up money for housing for people with developmental disabilities.

The company said this month that it will create more than 250 new affordable housing units “many of them reserved for veterans, the homeless or formerly homeless and residents with developmental disabilities.”

The move is part of a broader $2.5 billion initiative announced in 2019 to help address the housing crisis in California, where the company is based.

More from Disability Scoop

Research & Reports

Exploring What Disability Means Today, And Could Mean Tomorrow

Disability is something that affects just about all of us at some point. If you aren’t born with a disability, you may temporarily become disabled through an injury or an illness. Many people also age into disability, or see a loved one, friend or co-worker live with it.

We considered that as we planned a special project on the legacy of the Americans With Disabilities Act, which was passed 30 years ago. As two of the lead editors on the project, we commissioned about two dozen articles and essays — publishing online Tuesday, and in a special print section this weekend to coincide with the anniversary on July 26 — that consider disability as a widely shared experience that intersects with many aspects of modern life.

Our sources included dozens of disability advocates who spoke candidly about their experiences, and many of the articles were written by well-known writers in the disability community.

More from The New York Times

Sharing Voices, Driving Change

Since 1972, BraunAbility has been dedicated to changing the lives of people living with mobility challenges and those who care for them. Every day we devote ourselves to making life a moving experience for all by shaping the future of global mobility transportation. Together with our employees, we focus on improving the communities in which we live, work and do business through our commitment to mobility inclusion, independence and corporate citizenship. 

This year represents the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  Since then, our society has made progress toward increased inclusion for people with mobility disabilities - but we still have a long way to go.

More from BraunAbility

School Districts Need Better Information to Help Improve Access for People with Disabilities

In addition to their role in education, public schools serve as voting locations, emergency shelters, and more. But can people with disabilities access all public school buildings?

Our national survey found two-thirds of school districts had facilities with physical barriers that may limit access. For example, steep ramps at school entrances can make it hard for people with disabilities to get in.

The Departments of Justice and Education can work together to help school districts understand the Americans with Disabilities Act and provide technical help tailored to public school buildings. Justice should take the lead in providing information.

More from U.S Government Accountability Office

Only one fifth of school students with disability had enough support during the remote learning period

Only 22% of family members and carers of students with a disability agreed they had received adequate educational support during the pandemic. Many respondents in our new research, and survey, on behalf of Children and Young People with Disability Australia (CYDA) reported being forgotten in the shift to remote learning, or being the last group to be considered after arrangements had been made for the rest of the class.

A number of parents and carers said the pandemic period gave them an insight into the level their child was working at. This occasionally came as a surprise, as parents discovered with adequate support their child could complete work at a much higher level than the school had recorded.

More from The Conversation

Resources, Opinions & Opportunities

I shouldn't have to risk my life to vote

I should not have to choose between exercising my right to vote and my health.

I am a 39-year-old mother of five who until four years ago was in perfect health, or so I thought. Soon after my twins were born in 2016, my mother found me unconscious in a parking lot at work. The day-to-day activities of my life were about to change significantly. I’d have episodes of speech loss and facial numbness. I was diagnosed with a horrible and painful rash. On any given day I could be in an ambulance on my way to the hospital. I went to the emergency room more times than I can count. I had $37,000 worth of testing done by my doctors over a two-week period. We were desperate to find the cause. I saw so many doctors and specialists, it was dizzying, until finally a rheumatologist diagnosed me with Behcet’s disease. More from The Washington Post

What the Americans With Disabilities Act Has to Teach Today's Protesters

Judy Heumann, Brad Lomax, Chuck Johnson. Can you picture their faces? Although these three activists each played a crucial role in the fight for the rights of disabled Americans, who represent the largest minority group in our society, none are world-famous the way Rosa Parks is, or Gandhi. This Sunday, the Americans With Disabilities Act turns 30 years old. A movement is underway to recognize the undersung heroes who brought it to life. It’s also calling attention to the way their aggressive and effective direct action tactics could serve as a model for the protest movement currently rebelling against President Donald Trump’s racist, sexist, and ableist regime. More from TNR

Don’t Forget Disability: 3 Ways to Increase Accessibility in Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Work

Imagine trying to get to a COVID-19 testing site when you have cerebral palsy and use a wheelchair, or wanting to stay on top of news about Black Lives Matter protests in your community when you’re Deaf or blind. For the over 61 million Americans living with disabilities, access to physical locations, and digital information, as well as effective technology is critical. As a busy entrepreneur with a disability, Daman Wandke can relate; he relies on tech to stay on top of his consulting, connect with his team and customers, and keep a pulse on what’s going on in the world.

“Living with a disability, I understand the day-to-day challenges people like me overcome, especially in the workplace and when interacting online with organizations as a consumer,” said Wandke, disability studies instructor at Western Washington University and founder of Wandke Consulting.

According to Wandke, disability rights are civil rights and need to be a part of every organization’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) plan. ”Now is the time for leaders to embed accessibility into DEI initiatives,” said Wandke. With July 26, 2020, marking the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Wandke says its important this work be done correctly, not only to meet the law but to utilize as a foundation to build off of, not up to. More from Whatcom Talk

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

Share your stories with LSA-DN!

If you have stories or news that you would like to share within the LSA-DN, we would love to include them in the weekly newsletter. Email Caitlyn Gudmudsen at with submissions.

Upcoming Events

LSA-DN 2020 Summer Meeting
August 5-6, 2020
Agenda forthcoming

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