LSA-DN Weekly Update

Disability Network News
Friday, May 29, 2020


Advocacy Update

Join Us in Urging Support for “Main Street Lending Program” Loans for Nonprofits

Thank you again for your work on the frontlines caring for people while taking extraordinary steps to protect your staff and people served, and for your engagement in our advocacy efforts to secure additional federal financial relief for health and human services nonprofits of all sizes to support this important work.

We have another prime opportunity now to ask Senators to weigh in with The Federal Reserve Board (the Fed) to urge them to include nonprofits as eligible recipients of the Main Street Lending Program in the next round of funding. The Fed is continuing to develop guidelines for this program, authorized under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act as a low-interest loan program for mid-sized businesses with up to 15,000 employees to provide funding to be used to retain at least 90 percent of the recipient’s workforce.  This program is especially important given that the Paycheck Protection Program currently doesn’t provide funding for nonprofits with more than 500 employees.

Unfortunately, as of April 30, the Federal Reserve has published an FAQ indicating that nonprofits are NOT currently eligible for this program (see Question E6). However, the Fed has stated that they recognize "the critical role that nonprofit organizations play throughout the economy and [are] evaluating a separate approach to meet their unique needs." Given that the CARES Act provides the Federal Reserve with the authority to include nonprofits in this program, we hope you will join us in contacting your Senators to ask them to support nonprofits through this program, as well as including our key priorities in their next round of coronavirus relief legislation. Click here to use our quick advocacy tool to write your Senators.

House Passes The Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act (HR 7010)

This week, the House of Representatives came back into session and passed a bill extending the period of time recipients of Paycheck Protection Program funds have to spend the funds and still qualify for forgiveness. The Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act (HR 7010), sponsored by Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN) and Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX), would extend the period from 8 to 24 weeks.  The bill would also modify the current requirement put in place by the Treasury Department that 75% of the funds be spent directly on payroll, instead requiring only 60%.  A similar effort led by Sen. Marco Rubio (which would have extended the time to 16 weeks) failed in the Senate last week, but may be considered again when the Senate next returns to session (expected next week.)  The Small Business Administration also recently released the application form funding recipients must use to apply for loan forgiveness. 

For DN work groups or website login information, please email Jen Beltz at


Even before coronavirus, Social Security was staring at a shortfall

Thinking long term when you have short-term problems is hard to do. That’s the situation with the financial stability of Social Security.

So much focus has been on efforts to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus, and on the economic fallout that has resulted in millions losing their jobs, that the most recent report on the financial health of the Social Security Trust Funds didn’t get much news coverage. While Social Security isn’t bankrupt, it’s certainly facing a serious shortfall in income to cover promised payments.

By next year, Social Security’s cost is estimated to exceed total income, according to the latest trustee report for the Social Security and Medicare trust funds.

More from The Washington Post

The Inaccessible Internet

When virtual events began proliferating due to calls for social distancing, Camisha Jones saw a silver lining. For years, she has had limited access to in-person events due to undifferentiated connective tissue disease, which causes, among other symptoms, joint pain and fatigue. But now that many events would be taking place online, she realized she could attend more poetry readings than usual.

Her enthusiasm was short-lived. “I find myself opting out of events because very little effort is being made to provide accessibility services for them,” said Jones, who works as the managing director of a poetry organization and lives in Herndon, Virginia, in an email interview.

In addition to chronic pain, Jones also has Ménière’s disease, a disorder of the inner ear that causes fluctuating hearing levels as well as other symptoms. In order to enjoy online events, she needs to be able to read what speakers are saying through captioning or a transcript. However, few organizations are using real-time automatic captioning for their livestreamed events, though the feature is available for free on platforms like Facebook and YouTube. While autocaptions are less accurate than human transcribers, the technology has improved over the years. In choosing not to use it, event organizers are shutting out more than 48 million deaf and hard-of-hearing Americans.

More from Slate

For Many Caregivers and People With Disabilities, WFH Was Never Just A Perk

Janet Pearce had a career that most people only dream of. After starting as a researcher at NBC News in 1967, she rose through the ranks to become a senior producer, first at the “Today” show and later at “The Brokaw Report.” Her work won awards. And more than 35 years into her tenure at NBC, her enthusiasm had not flagged. “I never want to let work go,” Ms. Pearce, who died in 2018, told a New York Times reporter in 2003. “I loved it since the day I started.”

But by the time of that interview, Ms. Pearce was spending fewer days at the office. She had learned almost a decade earlier that she had multiple sclerosis, and her symptoms and treatments were no longer reconcilable with full-time life in the newsroom. So she started working from home two days a week. Her workplace had become incompatible with her health and well-being.

Sound familiar?

More from The New York Times


Florida Supreme Court Destroys Precedent Protecting Mentally Disabled People From Execution

On Thursday, the Florida Supreme Court’s new conservative majority allowed the state to resume executing individuals who may be intellectually disabled, shredding a precedent no one asked them to destroy. Its 4–1 decision carves a loophole in state law and grants Florida the authority to kill disabled prisoners who were sentenced under an unconstitutional law. Remarkably, Florida did not even ask the court to overturn this precedent; the conservative justices did so on their own initiative. That astounding breach of judicial protocol has sent shockwaves through the state, further demonstrating that Florida’s high court has embarked upon a political agenda that is far removed from anything that might plausibly be called judging.

More from Slate

Nonverbal Students Being Denied An Education During Pandemic, Lawsuit Says

Students with autism are illegally being denied an education during the government-ordered coronavirus school shutdown, a lawsuit filed this month alleges.

The outcome of the lawsuit, seeking class-action status and filed in federal court in Philadelphia on behalf of two Bucks County children, could potentially affect thousands of students with disabilities.

At its heart is a claim that Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf failed to name as “life-sustaining” services those that provide in-person education to nonverbal and partially verbal children with autism — kids for whom online instruction and services are ineffective.

More from Disability Scoop

Research & Reports

Are Patients With Down Syndrome Vulnerable to Life-Threatening COVID-19?

Patients with Down syndrome are at increased risk of respiratory syncytial virus- and H1N1-related death. Literature on COVID-19 in Down syndrome patients is unavailable thus far. We describe the clinical course of 4 patients with Down syndrome during an outbreak of COVID-19. In all four patients, disease course was severe, warranting hospital care in three patients, with fatal outcome in one patient. Another patient receives supportive care in our institution. Our case series is the first report on probable increased risk of life-threatening disease course of COVID-19 in patients with Down syndrome. Proper surveillance, the adherence of social distancing, and the use of personal protective equipment will be essential in reducing morbidity and mortality in our patients.

More from Acta Neurologica Belgica

Resources, Opinions & Opportunities

Google Offering New Tools To Help Those With Disabilities

Google is introducing new technology to simplify smartphones for those with cognitive disabilities and it’s beefing up its map program to make it easier to know if destinations are accessible.

The company said this month that it is releasing an app called “Action Blocks” for Android devices that’s designed to make routine smartphone tasks — like calling mom or turning the lights off — less cumbersome.

With the app, users can create a one-touch button that displays on their home screen to complete actions that typically require multiple steps.

More from Disability Scoop

New CDC Resources Related to People with Disabilities and Service Providers

Student developers aim to create a game for children on autism spectrum

Over the past decade, game studios have made big strides toward accommodating players with physical disabilities. Features and changes such as color blind mode, holding a button instead of repeatedly tapping it, adding subtitles and adjusting their size and controller remapping have widened the game-playing audience immeasurably. But what can developers do to include players with developmental disorders, such as autism?

One group, mostly composed of members of the Montreal-based entertainment company Reflector, recently mulled this question with Kelsea Kircoff, a specialized education teacher who had often worked with children on the spectrum. The idea took root, and Project Pālaka was born.

More from The Washington Post

Upcoming Events

LSA-DN 2020 Summer Meeting
August 5-7, 2020
Details TBD

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