Anniston Star Article Regarding George W. Bush’s Support of CRPD–George-W–Bush-was-right-to-support-treaty-for-those-with-disabilities?instance=top_center_featured


Leave a comment

Posted by on December 7, 2012 in Disability Rights


Disability Rights and Resources Incorporates Universal Design Features

Lobby View]This 8,000 s.f. building now serves as the headquarters of Disability Rights and Resources to provide independent living services to people with disabilities and for future exhibits and interpretive displays.   Programs will be developed according to universal design principles.  Focus will be on highlighting the disability rights movement in Alabama and the United States. This facility is a gem on the civil rights trail, across from the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, and will serve as a model for buildings throughout the region.  All was synthesized into the overall design so no one element sticks out as just for people with disabilities.  This is also a green project that re-purposes a former residential and commercial site.

The Architect and Project Designer is Cohen Carnaggio Reynolds.  Accessibility Consultant is Hecker Design, and Landscape Architect is Macknally Ross Land Design.  The building contractor is Stewart Perry.  Office furniture was provided by Office Environments.

Universal design is the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.  Universal design is design for the comfort of everyone, not only those with disabilities.

Below are some of the elements of universal design that were incorporated into the building project.

1.  Flush transition between parking spaces and sidewalk, eliminates the need for curb ramps.

2.  Passenger loading zone at front door..a flush transition between passenger loading zone and front door approach walk, eliminating the need for a curb ramp.

3.  Placement of truncated domes as a tactile and visual clue not only for blind pedestrians, but to aid drivers in positioning their cars in parking spaces so they do not hit the vertical bollards.

4.  Installed custom automatic doors that can be operated that can be operated by hand or by a footrest of a power wheelchair, or someone carrying a package.

5.  Green metal canopy over the front and rear doors ties into the lobby so that people with low vision have an additional directional cue to the center’s reception desk.

6.  Specified thin wall mounted big screen TV’s will be installed so they would not present a hazard for blind and visually impaired visitors approaching the reception area.

7.      Motion control lighting is not only more convenient for people with certain mobility impairments, it will result in reduced energy costs.

8.  Provided a floor mounted urinal in the men’s public restroom that will aid wheelchair users with personal hygiene.  This also assists children use the urinal.

9.  Provided 5 different accessible toilets so disabled users who may prefer to transfer from one side of the wheelchair or the other will have the choice of which toilet to use.

10.  Quiet room for people who may be experiencing migraine headaches, stress, and similar conditions.    This room is equipped with sound deadening insulation and an accessible daybed.  The room also offers a large single user restroom.  Individuals who benefit from personal assistance have greater flexibility and privacy.  The room is also a private place for mothers to breastfeed or use a breast pump.

11.  Universally designed teaching kitchen that has countertops for a wide range of users.  Installed the dining counter with special cane detectable rails to minimize the likelihood that blind users would run into the exposed corners of the counters.  These railings are 4” below the bar countertop and back 4” from the counter edge to be cane detectable.

12.  Planter in the patio to increase recreational opportunities for individuals with an interest in gardening.  Height of the planter is within convenient reach range of people who use wheelchairs or sit on a stool while tending the garden.  Users may sit on the brick ledge surrounding the raised planters

13.  Adjustable height workstations to accommodate people of different sizes and people who use various mobility devices.  Open office furniture allows staff that uses sign language to communicate can do so across the room.

14.  Installed more accessible doors to have the same or greater options to get out of the building in case of an emergency.

15.  Passive day lighting around the office area so people on the interior can see the outdoors from the central administrative office, technology lab, kitchen, board room, and conference room.

16.  Windows in office, kitchen, technology lab, board room, and conference room allow for easier communication and collaboration, regardless of disability.

17.  Site selection—selected a site that will allow for a one story facility, not requiring ramps, steps, or platform lift, making easier access for all.  Building is located on bus route.

18.  HVAC—zoned in order to accommodate the climate needs of a wide variety of staff and visitors.

19.  Use of stained concrete is amenable to wheelchair users.  Used low-pile, level-looped carpeting easier for wheelchair users to move on than cut-pile carpet.

20.  Minimized level changes between floor finishes and have gently sloped transitions where there is change in floor finishes.

21.  Installed pantry units to insure the greatest amount of storage and ease of access for users of all heights.

22.  Configured the building with the reception area and lobby positions between the accessible passenger loading zones in the east and the accessible parking to the west.  This offers a greater opportunity to serve visitors regardless of method they take to arrive at the center, and provides a greater sense of security because both entrances can be seen at the same time.

23.  Public sidewalk is flush with driveways serving the front entrance.  No additional curb ramps would be required for pedestrians.  To eliminate the 4 curb ramps that would have been required where the public sidewalk along 15th street crosses the approach driveways at the front entrance, we poured a flush transition between the concrete sidewalks and asphalt driveways, while retaining safe separation of pedestrian routes of vehicles through the use of strategically place bollards.

24.  Light switches in the multi-purpose room are positioned to allow for greater than normal flexibility in lighting controls.

25.  Table in board room is round and will accommodate a variety of wheelchair users and will normalize the typical hierarchy associated with corporate conference tables, and will provide for more efficient communication among meeting participants, including individuals with hearing impairments who may relying upon assistive technology and interpreters.

26.  Reception area and circulation space (corridor) between board room and multi-purpose room are wide enough to display the history of disability rights.  Allows for more convenient circulation for people with all types of abilities.


Tags: ,

National Council on Independent Living Hails Supreme Court’s Affordable Care Act Decision

For Immediate Release:

June 28, 2012


Kelly Buckland , Executive Director National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) in Washington DC : 202-207-0334

Dan Kessler , NCIL Board President and Executive Director of Disability Rights and Resources in Birmingham , AL : 205-251-2223

Lou Ann Kibbee , NCIL Vice President and IL Program Manager of SKIL Resource Center in Hays, KS : 785-623-8069

Susan Dooha , Executive Director of the Center for the Independence of the Disabled, New York in NYC, NY : 646-442-4163

National Council on Independent Living Hails Supreme Court’s Affordable Care Act Decision

Washington, DC – The National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) – a membership organization that advances independent living and the rights of people with disabilities through consumer-driven advocacy – hails the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as a validation of the Act’s opportunities for people with disabilities. Since President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law, millions of people with disabilities have benefited by being able to access coverage that could have previously been denied, expand coverage that was previously limited, and pursue more options to receive services in their own homes rather than nursing homes and institutions.

“In short, for people with disabilities, the Court’s decision is historic,” said Kelly Buckland , NCIL’s Executive Director. “This decision means that people with disabilities will have new community living options to live in their own homes and will be able to access essential health care coverage regardless of pre-existing conditions.”

NCIL has focused on ACA opportunities that move the country closer to a more integrated society where all people are afforded the opportunity to lead an independent life. These provisions include the Community First Choice Option, the Balancing Incentives Program, and Money Follows the Person, all of which further opportunities for people with disabilities to live integrated in communities across America.

“We are thrilled that the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act,” said Dan Kessler , NCIL’s Board President and Executive Director of Disability Rights and Resources in Birmingham , AL. “Because of the ACA, no longer will states have excuses to rely on nursing facilities and other institutions that warehouse people who do not need or want to live there. This is one of the great civil rights fights of our time: to ultimately see all people with disabilities live integrated in the community, not locked away in segregated settings.”

What the Law Does for People with Disabilities: Because of the ACA, more than 17 million children with pre-existing conditions will no longer be at risk of being denied coverage. In 2014, that protection will extend to anyone of any age with a pre-existing condition. The law protects people with disabilities from dollar limits on health benefits, ensuring that people with disabilities will continue to receive the coverage they need. The law improves physical access to medical equipment and services, ensuring that inaccessibility won’t get in the way of an individual’s health care needs.

“This feels like moving a mountain,” said Andy Curry, NCIL Healthcare Subcommittee Chair and Executive Director of the Tri-County Independent Living Center in Ogden , UT. “We believe that people with disabilities have the same constitutional protections as any other person to enjoy the right to a fully integrated life and the ACA has been a major boost to advancing this right.”

In addition, the law furthers the promise of the 1999 U.S. Supreme Court’s Olmstead decision, which gives people with disabilities the right to receive long term services and supports in the most integrated setting in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The law extends and enhances the Federal Money Follows the Person program, which in the past five years has helped 20,000 people move out of institutions and into less costly, more independent, community-based settings. The law also creates the Community First Choice Option, which offers the incentive of a six percent increase in Federal Medicaid matching rate for states that provide community services as an alternative to institutional services for people with disabilities enrolled in Medicaid.

The decision does eliminate the federal government’s authority to penalize states for choosing not to expand Medicaid, making the Medicaid expansion – like the provisions eliminating the institutional bias – optional. This could have serious consequences for people in states that choose not to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. “We now have the tools to provide health care and eliminate the institutional bias, but it’s up to states to make that happen. In a time when states face serious fiscal concerns, they may be reluctant to initiate or continue this expansion, so state-level advocacy is now more important than ever,” said Susan Dooha , Executive Director of the Center for Independence of the Disabled, NY. NCIL calls upon disability, aging, religious, labor and civil rights groups to work together to advocate that states take advantage of these new opportunities and develop state-level My Medicaid Matters campaigns because MY MEDICAID MATTERS.

As a membership organization, the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) advances independent living and the rights of people with disabilities through consumer-driven advocacy. NCIL envisions a world in which people with disabilities are valued equally and participate fully. For more information visit:


Disability Rights and Resources Awarded Challenge Grant from Alabama Power Foundation

Disability Rights and Resources has been awarded a $10,000 challenge grant from the Alabama Power Foundation.  Funds raised go toward our new building. If you would lIke to contribute, you can write a check to Disability Rights and Resources, and mail to Dan Kessler, 1418 6th Ave N., Birmingham, AL. 35203. You can also donate by going to our website at, and clicking on the DONATE button. All gifts are tax deductible.  Gifts of all sizes are welcome.


Magic City Chocolate Challenge Tickets available on-line.  

Purchase Tickets

Purchase tickets at

Leave a comment

Posted by on June 17, 2017 in Uncategorized


Disability Rights & Resources at 2017 Advocacy Day

Leave a comment

Posted by on June 17, 2017 in Uncategorized


NCIL Director to Ask Congress for $200 Million in Additional IL Funding: Your Support Urgently Needed!

On Wednesday, April 29, Kelly Buckland, NCIL’s Executive Director, will be testifying in front of the U.S. House of Representatives Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee at their Public Witness Hearing. Kelly will be addressing the crucial need to increase funding for Independent Living, and the vital role that Centers for Independent Living play in the lives of people with disabilities. Read Kelly’s testimony. 
From 2012-2014, CILs provided the four core services to nearly 5 million individuals with disabilities. In that same period CILs moved 13,030 people out of nursing homes and institutions, and provided services such as housing assistance, transportation, personal care attendants, and employment services, to hundreds of thousands of people with disabilities. Every day, CILs are fighting to ensure that people with disabilities gain and maintain control over our own lives.
We know that this cannot occur when people reside in institutional settings. Opponents of deinstitutionalization say that allowing people with disabilities to live in the community will result in harm. We say that it’s time to get rid of those outdated, paternalistic attitudes and allow people with disabilities REAL choice in where and how they live, work, and otherwise participate in the community. The 13,030 people CILs successfully transitioned out of nursing homes and institutions from 2012-2014 clearly prove that deinstitutionalization works.
Congress demonstrated their understanding and support for this when WIOA was passed and transition was added as a fifth core service. However, with IL being the only federally funded program mandated to provide transition services, the need for funding is critical! Moreover, CILs need additional funding to restore the devastating cuts to the Independent Living program, make up for inflation costs, and address the increased demand for independent living services. Right now, the Independent Living Program is receiving nearly $3 million less in funding than we were in 2010. This is simply unacceptable.
The value of CILs cannot be overstated. People with disabilities deserve to be the decision-makers in our own lives, and CILs provide that opportunity to millions of individuals. We need to make sure that Congress hears this! The Subcommittee is accepting written testimony for the record from the public through April 29, and they need to hear from you! Input from the IL community will provide an incredible amount of support for NCIL’s written and oral testimony.
NCIL has also created a sample testimony for your use.

You should feel free to change and personalize this as much as you want – just make sure your testimony adheres to the guidance provided above and does not exceed 5 pages. Once it’s finished, you can send it as an email attachment to with the subject line FY 2016 written testimony for the record or fax it to 202-225-3509.
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 27, 2015 in Uncategorized


Tags: ,

Alabama Medicaid Expanding Health Home Program April 1

More than 250,000 Medicaid recipients with chronic health conditions will soon have access to enhanced care coordination and other services to improve their overall health when the Alabama Medicaid Agency expands its Health Home program on April 1, 2015.

Six probationary Regional Care Organizations (RCOs) have signed contracts to operate Health Home programs. The groups include: Region A: Alabama Community Care – Region A and My Care Alabama; Region B: Alabama Care Plan; Region C: Alabama Community Care – Region C; Region D: Care Network of Alabama; and Region E: Gulf Coast Regional Care Organization. Click here to see a regional map.

The program, which has operated since 2012 as Patient Care Networks in 21 counties of the state, is expanding statewide as an interim step toward implementation of full-risk Regional Care Organization. RCOs are locally-led managed care systems that will ultimately provide healthcare services to Medicaid enrollees at an established cost under the supervision and approval of the Alabama Medicaid Agency.

In contrast, the Health Home program is defined by the federal government as an optional Medicaid program that integrates and coordinates care for patients with certain chronic conditions to achieve improved health outcomes. In Alabama, the Health Home program is set up to add an additional level of support to Patient 1st Primary Medical Providers (PMPs) by intensively coordinating the care of patients who have or who are at risk of having certain chronic conditions: asthma, diabetes, cancer, COPD, HIV, mental health conditions, substance use disorders, transplants, sickle cell, BMI over 25, heart disease and hepatitis C.

Care management, or coordinated care, in the Health Home program is done by connecting patients with needed resources, teaching self-management skills, providing transitional care and bridging medical and behavioral services, among other efforts.

“This interim step is designed as a building block for probationary RCOs that are working toward full certification by facilitating network development and providing resources while offering the probationary RCOs an opportunity to demonstrate that they have resources to manage patients in their region,” said Dr. Robert Moon, Chief Medical Officer and Deputy Commissioner for Health Systems.

Leave a comment

Posted by on March 23, 2015 in Uncategorized


Birmingham Museum of Art Schedules Events to Celebrate ADA25

Free // Space is limited; reservations are required. To reserve your spot, call 205.254.2964. VIP tours are offered each second Saturday and fourth Wednesday, and by appointment for school-age or adult groups; call 205.254.2964 for more information.

In this program for adults, specially trained docents present the Museum’s collection by means of verbal descriptions, three-dimensional tactile models based on original works of art, and sculpturey. The experience may be enhanced by related music and/or art-making to provide multi-sensory access to the visual arts.

·         Artists with Disabilities: Dale Chihuly, Claude Monet, and Josiah Wedgwood all had different, potentially career-ending disabilities. Yet, they all found ways to become masters of their art form.

o    May 9, 10am // Mary Helen Crowe, Docent [Register by May 4]
o    May 27, 1pm // Mary Helen Crowe, Docent [Register by May 22]
Free // no reservations required
·         May 9, 1pm // Artists with Disabilities // Mary Helen Crowe, Docent // Dale Chihuly, Claude Monet, and Josiah Wedgwood all had different, potentially career-ending disabilities. Yet, they all found ways to become masters of their art form.
Free // no reservations required
Feed your body and mind at noon every Tuesday for a 20-30 minute gallery talk. Stay for lunch at Oscar’s Café, and they will throw in a free dessert!

·         May 19, 12 noon // Accessibility for All at the BMA // Kristi McMillan, Assistant Curator of Education, and Terry Beckham, Exhibition Designer // Join us for a look at how the BMA opens its building, exhibitions, and programs to all visitors through universal design and other accessibility strategies.



ADA Conference Set for April at Auburn

The City of Auburn is proud to partner with the Auburn University Office of AA/EEO/ADA, the U.S. Access Board, and Auburn Chamber of Commerce host the Auburn 2015 Accessibility Conference April 27-28 at the Auburn University Hotel and Conference Center.    
This conference is intended to provide the latest information on the 2010 ADAAG and proposed PROWAG (Public Right-of-Way Accessibility Guidelines) standards along with implementation strategies, and best practices for achieving compliance.  The topics presented are designed for professionals involved in the design and build industries. Sessions will be presented by the U.S. Access Board, the agency that developed the 2010 ADA Standards of Accessibility. The ADAAG sessions will address aspects of parking, accessible entrances, accessible routes and interior spaces.  The PROWAG sessions will cover pedestrian access to sidewalks and streets, including crosswalks, curb ramps, street furnishings, pedestrian signals, parking, and other components of public rights-of-way. Sessions will also cover Chapter 10 of the 2010 ADA Standards of Accessibility, which deals with removing physical barriers that can prevent children and adults with disabilities from accessing all elements of recreational activities, such as playgrounds, sporting facilities and outdoor spaces.
Please visit the link below for more information and the register for this free event.
Space is limited to 300 participants, so please submit your registration soon.  CEU’s will be offered through the International Code Council. 
Hope to see you in April!

Leave a comment

Posted by on March 21, 2015 in Disability Rights, Events



Birmingham Rolls out 9-1-1 Texting

911textBirminghham is one of the first cities in the state to offer text to 9-1-1. This new technology will allow people to text during an emergency. It’s meant to benefit the speech and hearing impaired, but Councilor Steven Hoyt says there are many situations where texting will replace traditional emergency calls. Although it’s federally mandated under the Americans with Disabilities Act, less than 20 percent of 9-1-1 call centers in the U.S. utilize this feature. Birmingham is also offering a reverse 9-1-1 notification system which sends out emergency messages via email, text and voice calls. Birmingham officials hope the success of the new system pushes other municipalities in the county and state to move forward with their own text to 9-1-1 plans. For more information go to