Front Page Blog

Monday, January 5, 2015 - 09:14

By Shelia Newman, MS, President

Retiring Senator Tom Harkin and I have common interests. We share a passion for improving the quality of life for people with disabilities and we both support the ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. We have both been to Cuba twice and we have both been criticized for our comments about Cuba’s healthcare system. 

Neither Senator Harkin nor I said that Cuba has better healthcare than the US - what we said is we think Cuba’s healthcare “system” is impressive.

Senator Harkin and I praised the strengths of Cuba’s system, including a focus on preventative healthcare and training enough healthcare workers to serve every community. We are not alone in our praise. Salim Lamrani, in an October 2014 Huffington Post blog wrote: “During her recent visit to Havana in July of 2014, Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), impressed by the country's...

Thursday, December 18, 2014 - 10:30

By Anna Lenhart, MPH, Project Manager

When I think about American cities that can best illustrate the complex relationship between health and environment there is no more interesting picture than the one painted by New Orleans, the venue for the November 2014 American Public Health Association (APHA) 142nd annual meeting. The theme of the meeting was “Healthography: How Where You Live Affects Your Health and Well-being,” a concept gaining a lot of momentum in public health and across various private and federal, state and local initiatives. This approach to health and well-being considers both the built environment and the social elements that make up a community, as well as the relationship between the two.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the built environment includes “all of the physical parts of where we live and work (e.g., homes, buildings, streets, open spaces, and infrastructure).” CDC's Built Environment and...

Monday, December 1, 2014 - 09:17

December 3, 2014 is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. The goal of this observance is to foster understanding of disability issues and encourage support for disability rights as well as dignity and inclusion for people with disabilities in all aspects of life. Worldwide, there are 1 billion people with disabilities. The disadvantages they face—limited access to health care, education and employment opportunities; exclusion in everyday life activities; poverty and mistreatment—are well-documented. Family and friends are also affected, effectively increasing the impact of disability. How can disability discrimination be recognized as anything other than a human rights issue? 

Yet, the U.S. Congress has declined to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), also known as the Disability Treaty, signed in 2009. The CRPD is the first international treaty to address disability rights and endorse self-determination of...

Thursday, November 13, 2014 - 09:23

By Angelica P. Herrera, DrPH, MPH, Senior Research Analyst

November is National Caregiver Month, a time to pay tribute to the 44 million individuals caring for older adults and people with disabilities in the United States. Family caregivers have an increased risk of negative health outcomes, including the erosion of physical, emotional and financial health. What can we do to ease their burden? In addition to an array of aging support services provided through a complex network of federally funded programs under the Older Americans Act, Home and Community Based Service State Medicaid waivers, and other emerging programs, the advancement of assistive technology can help bridge the gap between the services family caregivers can safely and comfortably provide and the complete spectrum of supports their family member may need.

Assistive technology is a general term for an assortment of devices, supports, and systems, including: electronic medication...

Wednesday, October 29, 2014 - 09:21

By Stephanie Mensh, Senior Analyst

October 29, 2014 is World Stroke Day and the launch of I am woman: Stroke affects me, a two-year, world-wide campaign sponsored by the World Stroke Organization (WSO) and supported by national organizations like the American Stroke Association (ASA). According to the WSO, women have a higher risk of stroke than men, a higher mortality rate from stroke than men, have worse outcomes from stroke than men, and often receive less care than men, despite responding equally well to care.

Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death, and a leading cause of disability. In the U.S., someone has a stroke every 40 seconds, resulting in 790,000 Americans having a new or recurrent stroke each year. Globally, that number is close to 15 million. The...

Wednesday, October 22, 2014 - 09:00

By Jane Rath, Vice President

As supervisors and managers, often we think of our responsibilities as meeting deadlines, managing costs and budgets, hitting our sales or profit goals and keeping our bosses and customers happy. And it does mean all of that, but there is also a responsibility to the people who help us make all these things happen – our employees.

When I was in school, learning about management and business, nobody talked about this aspect of the job. Yet finding the right people for tasks, keeping them engaged, providing them with the growth opportunities that allow us to build a stable and committed team can be one of our biggest challenges as managers.

It is a delicate match-making dance to bring together the right skill set to each and every task. Throughout this process we strive to tease out each individual’s strengths and weaknesses, shoring up the weakness with training and support and leveraging strengths for our team’s success. If...

Friday, October 10, 2014 - 09:19

Reflections on the NASUAD 2014 HCBS Conference

By Ellen Speckman-Randall, Policy Analyst

As population demographics continue to shift, long term services and supports are increasingly important to improve health and quality of life for individuals of all ages and abilities. A key component of long term services and supports are home and community-based services (HCBS), which provide opportunities for individuals, including people with disabilities and chronic conditions, to receive services in their own homes or communities.

As a member of the New Editions Money Follows the Person (MFP) Technical Assistance (TA) Center, I work to support states as they focus on improving and expanding HCBS through Medicaid waivers. In September, I joined several other MFP TA Center team members at the 2014 National Association of States United for Aging and Disabilities (NASUAD) HCBS conference in Crystal City, VA. The annual conference is a not-to-be...

Monday, September 29, 2014 - 09:22

College and Work: Students with Disabilities Can Do Both

By Jayme Pendergraft

September is College Savings Month—a month to remind and encourage people to start a 529 Plan.  Section 529 plans make it easy and affordable for the average family to plan ahead for the cost of college attendance and are available in 49 states and the District of Columbia. Across the nation, many activities are held during September to recognize the importance of saving for college.

Today, a college education is a costly, but often a necessary qualification to get a job. For those whose families didn’t save, it’s still possible to get that degree. Students with disabilities and their family members have some important resources available...

Wednesday, September 3, 2014 - 13:42

Guide Dogs Enhance Independence and Offer Companionship

By Jonathan Cohn

September is National Guide Dog Month and celebrates the work of guide dogs in the United States, raising awareness, appreciation, support and money for guide dog schools and organizations.

In 1929, The Seeing Eye ( became the first organization in the U.S. to breed, raise and train guide dogs. Today blind citizens and their guide dogs form teams that are protected by the American with Disabilities Act. In July, 2007, I entered the program at Guide Dogs for the Blind in Portland, Oregon. After four weeks of training, I returned home to the Washington, DC area with a 60 pound Yellow Labrador named Sultan. 

Sultan has been with me every day, except for...

Tuesday, August 26, 2014 - 11:09

By Ebony Smith

August 26th is Women’s Equality Day, a national observance started in 1971 to commemorate the 1920 ratification of the 19th amendment, giving U.S. women the right to vote. While 94 years may seem like a lifetime, and a lot of progress has certainly been made, there is still work to be done. Women’s Equality Day is great opportunity to call attention to women’s ongoing efforts toward achieving full equality. 

Strong women begin as empowered girls, and whether they are rocking the vote or rocking an instrument, everyone benefits from a sense of shared experience, friendship, community and support. That is why I am part of an organization known as Girls Rock! DC. Founded in 2007, Girls Rock! DC is an annual week long music camp designed to empower a diverse collective of female youth between the ages of 8 and 18. Campers from across the Washington, D.C. area participate in themed workshops, instrument lessons, and band rehearsals all...