LSA-DN Weekly Update

Disability Network News
Friday, June 11, 2021


Strength & Service Series

Cyber Attacks: Are You at Risk?
July 15, 1-2 pm ET

It is predicted that a business is being hit by ransomware every 11 seconds in 2021, and that it results on average 16-19 days of downtime. Join this session to learn about Cyber Risk management, the latest trends, including the role and important considerations around cyber insurance coverage and top cybersecurity best practices you should be implementing.

Presenters: Rafael Haciski, Vice President at Johnson Kendall Johnson, and Alexandra Bretschneider, Cyber Practice Leader Johnson Kendall Johnson

Register here

Innovations Looking Forward: What Worked & What Is Here to Stay in Senior Services
July 21, 1-2 pm ET

Senior living providers embraced new strategies and tools to keep residents, their families, and the workforce safe, healthy, and happy during the sudden onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many new engagement technology, communication strategies, and workforce strategies evolved out of necessity and have become the “new normal” in day-to-day senior living operations. While the feeling of crisis mode has begun to subside or slow down, what do senior living leaders think are the tools & strategies that are here to stay beyond the pandemic? How will leaders continue to think differently and more strategically – what considerations should be made moving forward?

During this webinar, Dave Gehm, President and CEO of Wellspring Lutheran, and Sloan Bentley, President and CEO, Lutheran Life Communities will discuss with Jack York, Cofounder of IN2L, the innovative strategies that their teams adopted during the COVID-19 pandemic and what they think will remain part of the norm of senior services in the future.

Register here

Our COVID-19 Vaccine Resources Hub

Lutheran Services in America network in peer guidance & resources on developing COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution and Communication plans for your organizations.

Lutheran Services in America has created a COVID-19 Vaccine Resources Hub, which we are continuously updating, to assist with vaccine distribution and communications plans of our member organizations. Check out these latest resources including:

If you have any resources or strategies your organization would recommend to increase access and reduce barriers to the COVID-19 Vaccine, please share with with us at

Honoring Our Frontline Heroes

Lutheran Services in America is proud to honor the incredibly brave front line workers serving during this historic time in our national network.  We proudly offer digital booklets to recognize this extraordinary work with our Front Line Heroes series. Our Winter issue joins Summer and Fall 2020 issues that highlight the courageous efforts of our members dating back to March of last year, as part of a continuing campaign to lift up the impact our members are making on their communities across the country. You can find these issues and an overview video on our new Front Line Heroes page. Please feel free to share these resources on your own social media pages, and to email Chris Findlay ( with stories from your organization you would like to see included in our upcoming issues.

Advocacy Update

President Biden ends discussions with Senate Republicans aiming at a bipartisan infrastructure package; looks for alternatives. On Tuesday, President Biden broke off his on-going discussions with Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) aimed at crafting a bipartisan Senate proposal to move forward his infrastructure proposal, the American Jobs Plan.  While both the president and Senate Republicans made significant concessions, Mr. Biden ultimately determined that the latest Capito offer would not bring both sides to agreement.  Beyond a divide on the scope and size of the package, a fundamental area of disagreement remains on how to pay for the package.  President Biden has made concessions on his desire to raise the corporate tax rate, while Republicans support a pay-for through unused funds from previous legislative packages enacted since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Looking at other options, Mr. Biden has turned to a bipartisan group of centrist Senators, led by Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), who are drafting their own proposal, to urge them to keep working.  Progressive Senate Democrats are urging the president to move the package forward through the budget reconciliation process, which would not require any Republican votes if the president can keep the entire Democrat caucus intact.

It does not appear that the president has made any concessions to reduce or eliminate the major $400 billion investment in home and community-based services (HCBS) for aging adults and persons with disabilities included in his original proposal; however, it is our understanding that due to the size of the investment, the provision could still be scaled back or eliminated.

Lutheran Services in America has been advocating in support of key provisions of the American Jobs Plan, particularly the $400 billion HCBS investment and a provision for $213 billion for affordable housing and homelessness services and is urging the inclusion of the WORK NOW Act legislation (S. 740) to provide nonprofit health and human services organizations funding to pay wages, salaries, and benefits to retain staff and meet services’ demand.  Please join us in this effort through our advocacy alert calling for inclusion of these key initiatives in the package.


FDA Approves Device To Help Detect Autism

Federal regulators authorized a first-of-its-kind device to help primary care doctors determine whether or not a child has autism, potentially allowing kids to be diagnosed far sooner by avoiding lengthy waits for specialists.

The Food and Drug Administration gave the green light to market the Cognoa ASD Diagnosis Aid this month, which will be branded Canvas Dx.

The machine learning-based software uses an algorithm to analyze data submitted by parents and health care providers in order to return a “positive for ASD” or “negative for ASD” response for a child.

More from Disability Scoop

Ten Senate Democrats and Republicans say they reached five-year, nearly $1 trillion infrastructure deal

A bipartisan group of 10 Senate Democrats and Republicans reached a new deal on infrastructure on Thursday, agreeing to a nearly $1 trillion, five-year package to improve the country’s roads, bridges, pipes and Internet connections.

The new blueprint, described by four people familiar with the plan, marks a fresh attempt to resurrect negotiations between congressional lawmakers and the White House after an earlier round of talks between President Biden and the GOP fell apart this week. But it remains unclear if the early accord will prove to be enough to satisfy either the White House or a sufficient number of lawmakers on Capitol Hill at a time when disagreements between the parties are rife. The new deal is the product of five Democrats and five Republicans — Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), and Mark R. Warner (D-Va.).

More from Washington Post

Ed Department Wants Feedback On Discipline Of Students With Disabilities

Students with disabilities often face more disciplinary action at school than other kids and federal officials say they’re looking for ideas about how to put an end to the disparity.

The U.S. Department of Education is seeking public comment on discipline in schools serving those in pre-K through high school.

“All students deserve access to safe, supportive schools and classrooms. Discrimination and use of exclusionary discipline can negatively impact students’ abilities to learn, grow and thrive,” said Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “We’re seeking information so that the department can help schools and educators confront disparities and create inclusive school environments that set all students up for success.”

More from Disability Scoop

UZURV, Accessible Avenue announce partnership for expanding on-demand transit for people with disabilities

“Over the course of the last five years,” said UZURV’s CEO John Donlon, “UZURV has developed an amazing team and technology platform that is revolutionizing transportation for people with disabilities. We have experienced tremendous growth as more and more transit agencies have begun to recognize that it is possible to provide on-demand transportation that delivers independence and freedom while also saving money over more traditional paratransit services. Our partnership with Accessible Avenue will help us further refine our services to meet the needs of communities who need it most.”

Brooks added, “UZURV represents the next step in the evolution of transportation for people with disabilities who cannot always use conventional public transit service. In the past and in many locations to this day, customers who depend on paratransit have to schedule every aspect of their lives at least a day in advance. Which is extremely challenging for anyone with a family or a job or the desire to live a spontaneous life. By building a network of specialty-credentialed drivers that have been vetted, trained and certified to provide safe, high-quality and accessible transportation on-demand, UZURV is changing the game, and the chance to contribute to their efforts is a dream come true. Because it’s not only benefitting my industry, it’s benefitting me and other people with disabilities who want to travel with dignity and flexibility.”

More from Mass Transit


Maine: Justice Department Resolves ADA Complaint with Maine Department of Health and Human Services

The Justice Department today reached an agreement with the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to resolve alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

A young man with intellectual disabilities (ID) filed a complaint with the Justice Department alleging that Maine imposed restrictions that placed him at serious risk of having to move from his own home into a congregate setting in order to receive the services he needs. Congregate settings are multi-person homes or facilities where residents receive needed services. This agreement will help ensure that Mainers with ID and autism can receive the personal assistance they need in their own homes.

More from U.S. Department of Justice

Advocates oppose Virginia Beach housing project because it would institutionalize people with disabilities

Over the past couple of months, a city-supported housing project for people with disabilities has faced heavy criticism for defaulting on a no-interest loan and not getting off the ground quickly enough.

But another movement to kill the residential project known as Vanguard Landing is bubbling under the surface.

Advocates for the disabled have encouraged city officials to cut ties with the project. They say creating an isolated housing community in rural Virginia Beach only for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities isn’t the best practice or the type of housing people with disabilities want.

Tonya Milling, executive director of advocacy group The Arc of Virginia, said housing people together based on disabilities is not OK and that national standards have evolved in recent decades.

More from Daily Press

California bill to end subminimum wage for workers with disabilities passes Senate

In 2022, California is set to raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour. As of now, not all workers in the state will qualify for the raise.

Since 1938, employers in California have been able to apply for a certificate that has allowed them to pay employees with disabilities less than the federal minimum wage.

"It's not really fair that you're getting treated like less of a person than other people are," said Michael Pugliese, who used to make around $2 an hour at his previous job working as an electronic assembler.

Pugliese, who is on the autism spectrum and now works at Lucky Penny's Dog, said he's grateful his new employer treats him like the rest of his colleagues.

"He came in here and put himself out there and showed me he can do the work. He's proved his place here every day that he's here," said Chris Vaquerano, owner of Lucky Penny's.

More from Spectrum News 1

Research & Reports

Harvard Law School Project on Disability provides legal support during pandemic

For people with disabilities the COVID-19 pandemic has had particularly pernicious repercussions, from increased exposure to the virus among those living in congregate settings to overtly discriminatory governmental policies, such as Alabama’s policy — now rescinded — to deny people with intellectual disabilities access to ventilators in the event of a shortage. Knowing that people with disabilities would be especially vulnerable during the pandemic to problems with healthcare access and other issues, HPOD immediately turned its attention to COVID-related initiatives and advocacy including supporting a complaint to the federal Office of Civil Rights about Alabama’s discriminatory policy. “We find even more urgency and need now for the work we do,” says Stein, who among many contributions to the field of disability law participated in the drafting of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. “The need has been staggering, and we’ve been privileged to be able to help.”

More from Harvard Law Today

Airlines have lost or damaged more than 15,000 wheelchairs since late 2018

The Department of Transportation proposed collecting data on damage to wheelchairs and scooters back in 2011, but those details weren’t included in regular reports until December 2018. It took an amendment to the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization by Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) to finally make the information available. 

“Every airline passenger deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, but too often that is not the case,” Duckworth, a double amputee, said in a statement in 2018. “I know from personal experience that when an airline damages a wheelchair, it is more than a simple inconvenience — it’s a complete loss of mobility and independence. It was the equivalent of taking my legs away from me again. No air traveler should be left in the lurch, immobile on a plane.”

An effort to better handle such devices has been underway in the United States for at least a couple of years.

More from Washington Post

Resources, Opinions & Opportunities

Organizations that are working toward a more inclusive and neurodiverse workforce

More often than not, when autism, ADHD, dysgraphia, dyslexia and other neurodiverse profiles come up in conversation or in public discourse, words like "challenge,” "hardship,” "disability,” "disorder,” "condition" and "special needs" typically cross the mind. To think about these diagnoses strictly in these terms overlooks the big picture in that there is growing evidence that certain exceptional abilities are directly relevant. As an autistic individual, I can personally attest to several of these: attention to detail, intense focus on tasks, pattern recognition, analytic thinking and moral decisionmaking, to mention just a few. Considering that these and other pertinent skills are valuable and marketable, the problem of extreme underrepresentation of neurodiverse people in the workforce is one that needs to be addressed.    

Several surveys conducted in recent years by the Department of Labor, the Autism Society of AmericaThe ARC and others show a grim employment picture for those of us on the autism spectrum and those diagnosed with intellectual and developmental disabilities in general. More than 80 percent unemployment has been the result more than once. Thankfully, awareness of this issue is actively being raised and an increasing number of organizations and companies are stepping up to the plate, though there is still a long way to go.

More from The Hill

Upcoming Events

LSA-DN 2021 Summer Meeting (virtual)
August 5, 2021
1:00-5:00 p.m. Eastern


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, enCircle

Myra Griffie
Interim DN Treasurer
Chief Operating Officer, Lutheran Services Carolinas

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