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News
Americans with Disabilities Act Turns 24

July 25, 2014

By Pat Young, President of The Arc of Florida

Tallahassee, FL (July 24, 2014) - This month marks the 24th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). It's a civil rights law that seeks to eliminate discrimination against people based on their disability. The ADA applies to discrimination in employment, state and local government services, privately operated public accommodations, transportation and telecommunications.

The Arc of Florida, a non-profit organization that advocates on behalf of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), has seen positive changes in these areas since the ADA was signed into law in 1990. Just a few years before its passage, many Floridians with I/DD were institutionalized. Today, many are living and working in their community.

While great strides have been made in our society, discrimination still exists. Attitudes, poor enforcement of the law, underfunded programs and fiscal difficulties in state and local government budgets all contribute to the on-going need to be vigilant advocates for full inclusion and equality.

There are still issues here in Florida. In 1999, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a landmark case Olmstead v. L.C. that unnecessary segregation of individuals with disabilities in institutions is a form of discrimination. Despite this, our state continues to house some individuals with I/DD in institutions and children in nursing homes.

We hope our elected leaders will work to fund additional community-based programs, ensuring that all Floridians are treated equally and able to live in the community, where they belong.

 
Agency for Health Care Administration Withdraws Proposed iBudget Handbook

June 4, 2014

Tallahassee, FL (June 4, 2014) – The Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) has withdrawn the version of the iBudget handbook that was proposed for adoption at a public hearing on May 14, 2014.

"We thank AHCA for withdrawing this version of the handbook and look forward to working with them to develop one that promotes community-based programs for the individuals we serve," said Deborah Linton, chief executive officer of The Arc of Florida, a non-profit organization that advocates on behalf of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD).

The Arc of Florida objected to the latest version of the handbook after noticing it was not the same draft that stakeholders spent the last three years working on. The Arc had concerns about numerous changes that could have significantly limited many direct care services. The Arc's rule challenge to the proposed handbook will be withdrawn, with the hope of working cooperatively on a new draft.

 

 
Floridians with Developmental Disabilities Get Relief from Chronic Pain

Governor and Legislature Fund Critical Dental Program

June 2, 2014

Tallahassee, FL (June 2, 2014) – Governor Rick Scott signed Florida's budget into law today. It includes a $2 million special appropriation for The Arc of Florida dental program that will help hundreds of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD).

"We are grateful to Governor Scott and the Legislature for continuing this important program," said Pat Young, president of The Arc of Florida, a non-profit organization that advocates on behalf of individuals with I/DD. "Many Floridians with developmental disabilities have suffered from dental pain for more than a decade. They will now be pain-free."

A number of individuals being served by the program have extensive disabilities and require extraordinary care. One 30-year-old man from Port St. Lucie who has cerebral palsy is blind, can't speak, has never walked and has such bad scoliosis, he hasn't been able to leave his home for three years. Steven Baker must be transported to the hospital for dental procedures by a specially trained team of professionals to prevent having seizures and passing out during the trip.

"It's a heart break every morning to see Steven," said Claudette Baker, his mother. "He hasn't been eating properly because he's in pain. I'm very thankful and grateful for this opportunity."

Since the dental program began in 2012, The Arc recruited 139 practices across the state and treated 650 Floridians with I/DD who could not afford dental care. Services include fillings, root canals, crowns, extractions and dentures. The special appropriation will ensure the program continues through the 2014 – 2015 fiscal year.

 
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