LSA-DN Weekly Update

Disability Network News
Friday, July 31, 2020


Alert: Schedule Change & New Zoom Link for LSA-DN Summer Meeting

Due to scheduling challenges, we have changed the LSA-DN Summer Meeting next week from our original dates of Aug 5–Aug 6, to solely Thurs Aug. 6th from 9:00 am – 1:00 pm (eastern).

Because of this schedule change, we have cancelled the original Zoom meetings for which you may have registered and have created a new Zoom meeting link (below).  Note that you will NOT need to pre-register, but can simply click through to the Aug. 6th meeting at 9 am eastern using this link below.


Meeting ID: 918 8774 9922 Passcode: 378996 One tap mobile +13017158592,,91887749922#,,,,,,0#,,378996# US (Germantown)

+13126266799,,91887749922#,,,,,,0#,,378996# US (Chicago)

Dial by your location +1 301 715 8592 US (Germantown)
+1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
+1 929 205 6099 US (New York)
+1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma)
+1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)
+1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)

Meeting ID: 918 8774 9922

Passcode: 378996

Find your local number:

The Lutheran Services in America Strength & Service Series

Upcoming Series Webinar

  • 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.

Advocacy Update

Senate Draft of Next Coronavirus Relief Bill Introduced: Many Improvements Needed

On Monday, the draft version of Senate Majority Leader McConnell’s Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools (HEALS) Act, his response to the HEROES Act passed in the U.S. House of Representatives in May, was introduced and negotiations among lawmakers began.  In its current form, the bill is not an adequate response to the needs of health and human services nonprofits or our country’s most vulnerable people.  It neglects many of the areas most important to our members as outlined in our key priorities and our ongoing advocacy efforts, including forgivable loans for nonprofits of all sizes and additional targeted financial resources for nonprofit front line health and human services providers.  We know that this draft version of the Senate bill is the next step in negotiating a final version of this possibly final relief package, so it is vital we make our voices heard now before the final bill is completed.

Please join us in sending a message to your Senators by clicking here to use our advocacy tool.   House Passes Legislation to Shore Up Child Care, Help Support Return to Work

On Wednesday, in a bipartisan vote of 249 to 163, the House passed the “Child Care is Essential Act,” H.R. 7027.  The bill would provide $50 billion to a Child Care Stabilization Fund, within the existing Child Care and Development Block Grant program, to be awarded to child care providers during and after the COVID-19 public health emergency.  The money would be used to help stabilize the child care sector and support providers to safely reopen and operate, thus providing workers the child care they need to return to or remain in their jobs.  Supporters of the bill are hopeful that some or all of its provisions may be included in the final version of the HEALS Act.

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.


Senate COVID-19 Relief Proposal Overlooks Disability Community, Advocates Say

As negotiations begin in earnest on Capitol Hill for another coronavirus relief bill, advocates are warning that the needs of people with disabilities are on the verge of being ignored again.

U.S. Senate Republicans unveiled their $1 trillion proposal this week to address the ongoing pandemic. The legislation, known as the HEALS Act, calls for another round of stimulus payments to individuals, liability protections for businesses and funding for schools, among other initiatives.

However, disability advocates say what’s most notable is what’s missing.

More from Disability Scoop

One Laid Groundwork for the ADA; The Other Grew Up Under Its Promises

Before the Americans with Disabilities Act granted people with disabilities greater protection and accessibility, a little-known law set the groundwork.

In 1977, Judy Heumann helped lead a peaceful protest that forced the government to follow through with Section 504. As part of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act, the law would force hospitals, universities and other public spaces that received federal money, to remove barriers to accessibility for all Americans. But its implementation was long delayed over the costs necessary to retrofit buildings to comply with the law.

"We were being disregarded, not having ramps, not having accessible bathrooms, not being able to get across the street, not being able to get on buses," Heumann said in an interview with NPR.

More from NPR

Disabled Americans mark milestone as crisis deepens job woes

The Americans With Disabilities Act was a major turning point in opening large parts of U.S. society to disabled people, but three decades after its passage disabled workers still face higher unemployment than other adults -- a problem compounded by the coronavirus pandemic.

More from The Washington Post


Wisconsinites with disabilities now eligible for federal unemployment assistance

Wisconsinites with disabilities will now be eligible for federal unemployment benefits after the U.S. Department of Labor reversed course this week.

About 1,500 people who receive disability benefits applied for federal pandemic assistance after losing work because of the coronavirus outbreak. But their claims have been stalled as the Evers administration and congressional Wisconsin Democrats urged the federal labor officials to revise its rules for the state's disabled residents. 

The intervention came after Department of Workforce Development Secretary Caleb Frostman discovered the federal assistance could be off-limits for people with disabilities because state law bars people receiving Social Security Disability Insurance benefits from also receiving regular state unemployment benefits. 

More from Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Pitt receives federal grant to study how autonomous vehicle industry serves people with disabilities

The University of Pittsburgh will spearhead a national study about the accessibility of autonomous transportation for people with disabilities after receiving a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The grant and 18-month study were announced Thursday by Diana Furchtgott-Roth, the transportation department’s deputy assistant secretary for research and technology, during a virtual celebration for the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

More from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

How People With Special Needs Are Coping With The Pandemic

For the past four months, Antonio Izzo, 25, has lived in a group home around the clock. And his family is feeling the consequences of the separation, his mom said.

Before the pandemic, he’d spend every weekend back home with his parents and three younger siblings. They’d laugh at how he loved to sing in the shower and talk about the public transit system.

During the week for the past four years, Antonio, who has autism, lived at a group home in the Redland to gain independence.

But COVID-caused isolation has created loneliness in Antonio Izzo and the rest of his family. It’s just one of the many challenges that people with disabilities have faced during the pandemic.

More from Disability Scoop

Strangers send Skippack man thousands of cards and letters while he awaits a double-organ transplant

Joe Eitl’s family always knew the day would come when he might need a heart transplant.

Joe, 37, was born with Down syndrome and cardiac defects; he has a hole in his heart and only one ventricle instead of the normal two. When he was a toddler, he underwent the first of many surgeries to improve his condition. Since then, he has undergone other open-heart procedures and catheterizations and has been treated with medications. But these have been stopgap measures, not cures, said his mother, Peg Eitl.

More from The Philadelphia Inquirer

Research & Reports

Majority Of School Districts Not Accessible For Students With Disabilities

Thirty years after the Americans with Disabilities Act became law, most of the nation’s public school districts remain inaccessible to students with disabilities, government investigators say.

A Government Accountability Office report out late last week finds that in 63 percent of public school districts, at least a quarter of facilities aren’t physically accessible to those with disabilities. Problems at the schools included steep ramps, inaccessible playgrounds and restrooms and door handles that are difficult to use, among other issues.

More from Disability Scoop

The Black and White Disability Gap Widens With Age

With the 30th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) happening this weekend as Black Lives Matter protests continue, it’s a good time to look at the intersection between race and disability in the United States. The figure below compares disability rates by age, sex, and race for non-Latinx adults. The data in the figure comes from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS). A person is counted as disabled if they answer “yes” to any one of five questions in the survey.

More from CounterPunch

Research study to examine why financial program for children with disabilities is underutilized

Since 2014, the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act allows states to create tax-advantaged savings programs for eligible individuals with disabilities. While many families with children with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) disproportionately live with financial hardship and in poverty, the ABLE Act, which has the potential to address financial distress and improve life outcomes, has been underutilized.

Rumi Agarwal, a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Public Health at the Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work,recently was awarded a grant from the Social Security Administration’s Analyzing Relationships between Disability, Rehabilitation and Work (ARDRAW) Small Grant Program to examine financial planning experiences among these families, specifically in respect to the ABLE Act.

More from Florida International University

Disability and COVID-19: who counts depends on who is counted

Recent publications have highlighted how people with disabilities could be at increased risk from COVID-19, and have made calls for a disability-inclusive pandemic response. However, little attention has been given to a crucial underlying factor that precludes movement towards addressing inequities: the scarcity of disability data. Without data, the impact of COVID-19 on people with disabilities remains unknown.

Early calls were made to publish COVID-19 data by other inequity strata including age, race, and sex.3 A key difference from disability is that these variables are more likely to be collected and are compulsory in some cases.4 Although progress still needs to be made in further improving data collection and addressing disparities by age, sex, and racial groups, the existence of collected data allows researchers and officials to provide accurate evidence of disparities, and form the basis for a data-driven pandemic response.

More from Lancet Public Health

Resources, Opinions & Opportunities

I remember life before the Americans with Disabilities Act. Now, we need to do more.

Sunday marks 30 years since passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The landmark civil rights legislation secured unprecedented freedoms and civil rights for the disability community — estimated to comprise nearly 20% of the United States population. Recently, we've also enjoyed unprecedented visibility. But is that enough?

As a 57-year-old lifelong wheelchair user, I remember what life was like before the ADA. I remember before ramps and braille signs and emotional-support animals were commonplace. I've seen improvements that surpassed my wildest hopes and expectations. More from USA Today

Octavia Spencer: Cast more actors with disabilities

Oscar-winning actress Octavia Spencer says Hollywood needs to do better casting people with disabilities.

The star of “The Help” and “Hidden Figures” is part of a new video campaign timed with the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act this month.

“Casting able-bodied actors in roles for characters with disabilities is offensive, unjust, and deprives an entire community of people from opportunities,” she says in the nearly three-minute clip.

More from The Washington Post

Into America Podcast: Into People with Disabilities in a Pandemic

From the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, many officials warned it was crucial to slow the spread of the virus to protect what they called the most vulnerable people: the elderly and those with underlying conditions. The people who have been mentioned far less often are those with disabilities.

Having a disability isn’t a risk factor for COVID-19 on its own, but according to the CDC, people with disabilities often do have other health conditions that put them at risk. It can also be harder for some people to socially distance if they have caretakers or are in a group home setting.

It’s hard to know the full scope of the risk because there’s no comprehensive data on COVID rates among people with disabilities, but around the country, some group homes for disabled people have been coping with serious outbreaks.

On this episode of Into America, 30 years after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Trymaine Lee talks with disability rights advocate and writer Andrew Pulrang about how people with disabilities are weathering the pandemic and navigating the future.

More from NBC News

BU Prof: Nursing Home COVID Deaths Point To Discrimination Against People With Disabilities

It's been 30 years since the landmark Americans With Disabilities Act banned discrimination against people with disabling physical or mental health conditions.

Similar to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the law prohibits discrimination in employment and mandates access in public accommodations.

But some people are questioning just how much the ADA is being honored when it comes to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

WBUR's Jack Lepiarz spoke with George Annas, professor of health law, ethics and human rights at Boston University, about whether, in the face of COVID-19, the law is working.

More from WBUR

We're 20 Percent of America, and We're Still Invisible

On July 26, 1990, President George Bush signed the Americans With Disabilities Act into law. Like the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the A.D.A. was watershed legislation, the culmination of a decades-long campaign of organized protest and activism. It, too, was a victory in the struggle for equality for a group of people who had been systematically denied basic rights and access to public spaces and services. On the 30th anniversary of the law, it’s only natural to want to celebrate. And we should. Yet just as many of the injustices that the Civil Rights Act aimed to eliminate are still very much with us, and still being resisted, the full promise of the Americans With Disabilities Act has yet to be realized. We are not yet where we need to be. More from The New York Times

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
9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Eastern

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


For more information on our topic specific work groups, please email Doug Walter 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

Doug Walter
Director of Policy and Advocacy, Disability Network, Lutheran Services in America