Summer 2007 Edition
Steadfast and Strong: Responding to Traumatic Brain Injuries at Fort Campbell
ADA Restoration Act
Supreme Court Affirm Parental Involvement
Just One Hour to Change Tennessee
New Education and Abuse Law Protect Rights of Children
Cover Photo: From left to right at the TBI Symposium, Major Michael McGhee,
Chief of Behavioral Health at Blanchfield Army Community Hospital; Colonel
Keith W. Gallagher, Hospital Commander at Blanchfield Army Community
Hospital; Senator Rosalind Kurita, D – Clarksville, District 22.
Inside Front Cover:
Headline: 17th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act
July 26, 2007 marks the 17th anniversary of the Americans with
Disabilities Act. The ADA gives civil rights protections to individuals with
disabilities similar to those provided to individuals on the basis of race, color, sex,
national origin, age, and religion. It guarantees equal opportunity for individuals
with disabilities to access businesses, employment, transportation, state and
local government programs and services as well as telecommunications.
In late July organizations across the state will bring together people with
disabilities, their families, friends and advocates to celebrate this Day of
Chattanooga - ADA Awareness Review on July 30th, sponsored by the Tri-
State Resource & Advocacy Corporation (TRAC). Staff and volunteers will be
touring local entities to review plans for accessibility and recognize their
improvements. For more information call (423) 892-4774 (v/tty).
Jackson - ADA Celebration from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Jackson Center for
Independent Living with Bar-B-Q picnic, essay contest ―What ADA Means to Me,‖
guest speaker, exhibits and art displays. For more information call the JCIL at
Nashville - ADA Celebration at Two Rivers Mansion sponsored by the Center
for Independent Living of Middle Tennessee. For more information contact Tom
Hopton at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (615) 292-5803.
Memphis - ADA Celebration from 10 a.m. to noon in Memphis, sponsored by
the Memphis Center for Independent Living and the Mid-South Chapter of the
Paralyzed Veterans of America. For more information and to RSVP call Renee at
On July 27th in Knoxville Spirit of ADA Awards Celebration at the Crowne
Plaza in Knoxville, TN at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, July 27, 2007.
The event will feature winners of the Spirit of ADA Awards, a dinner and
celebration, and a silent auction. Tickets are $25.00. Call the disABILITY
Resource Center at 865-637-3666.
List of Articles in Order Presented
InFormation – A Season of Independence
Unleash the Artist Inside
Children’s Corner – Health and Education
Member Feature – Paralyzed Veterans of America
Coalition Project – Annie‘s Road to Freedom
Steadfast and Strong – Responding to Traumatic Brain Injuries at Fort
News & Issues – ADA Restoration Act
❏ Work Incentives Planning and Assistance
❏ Supreme Court Affirms Parental Involvement
❏ Just One Hour to Change Tennesssee
❏ 2007 General Assembly Wrap-up
❏ New Education and Abuse Law Protect Rights of Children
Road to Freedom Rolls through Tennessee
Coalition Quarterly Credits:
Special thanks to the following contributors: Joanne Bregman, Wendy Douglas,
Sharon Mount, Pam Williamson, LTC. Williamson as well as the men and women
of our Armed Services. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the
Coalition and its Members. The Coalition Quarterly is published by the
Tennessee Disability Coalition four times a year. The Coalition Quarterly may be
reprinted with permission of the Coalition. Headquartered at 480 Craighead
Street, Suite 200, Nashville, TN 37204. Telephone (615) 383 9442, TTY (615)
292-7790, Fax (615) 383-1176. On the web at www.tndisability.org
Headline: InFormation – A Season of Independence
By Carol Westlake, Executive Director
As I reviewed the content for this issue I realized that without intention, the
theme had become FREEDOM – fitting for a July issue. Afterall, there are two
days in July during which we celebrate freedom and independence – July 4 and
More than 230 years ago our forefathers faced down an imperious king
and signed the Declaration of Independence. They knew a price would be paid
for such a revolt, but they were willing to not only put their own lives on the line,
but those of their families and neighbors.
The act of signing the Declaration of Independence, and a hard-fought
war, bought them the right to speak freely, the right to assemble, the right to
petition for redress and the right to elect average citizens to represent them in a
Just 17 years ago that government acknowledged the rights of people with
disabilities by enacting the Americans with Disabilities Act. The ADA was the
result of a different kind of hard-fought war. A war waged to remove the barriers
of ignorance and misunderstanding that formed a ―wall of exclusion.‖ Those with
and without disabilities soldiered side-by-side in the effort to achieve equal
opportunity and equal justice for people with disabilities, finally offering a full
measure of American freedom.
The President's emphatic directive on that July 26th -- "Let the shameful
walls of exclusion finally come tumbling down"—neatly encapsulated the simple
yet long overdue message of the ADA: that 43 million Americans with disabilities
are full-fledged citizens and thus entitled to legal protections that ensure equal
opportunity and access to the American Dream. Enactment of the ADA reflects
deeply held American ideals which treasure the contributions individuals can
make when free from arbitrary, unjust, or outmoded societal attitudes and
practices. The ADA reflects a recognition that the surest path to America's
continued vitality, strength, and vibrancy is through the full realization of the
contributions of all citizens.
Today I‘m asking you to take time to remember those brave individuals
who made sacrifices on our behalf; lives sacrificed; families shattered, and
dreams never realized. In the American Revolution, and in the fight for disability
civil rights, the courage of patriots gave us the freedoms we enjoy today. You
have heard it said that ―with freedom comes responsibility.‖ Each of us carries
the responsibility of shielding our freedoms from those who might seek to
diminish them. The challenges to freedom today come from more subtle
weapons than muskets and from directions less evident than a military column.
Erosions to our freedoms are as likely to come from cultural values, personal
prejudice, and our own complacency.
The effort to maintain a government of the people, by the people and for
the people – for ALL people - begins at home and that is why this month, on the
anniversary of the founding of our country and the passage of the ADA, I am also
asking you to honor the people who came before us by supporting freedom and
Undertake acts of independence. Support the independence of others.
Above all, engage in the civil and political life of your community. All of
America needs to hear our voices loud and clear as protectors of individuals, of
communities, and of civil rights. We need to make sure everyone enjoys the
rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness outlined in the Declaration of
Celebrate FREEDOM and do your part! The responsibility is clear.
“On that sunny day, more than 3,000 people cheered, wept and hugged each other as
they witnessed the signing of the act that guaranteed that they were, at last, citizens,
with equal rights, in a country where their government wanted them to have the
opportunity to participate in and contribute to all aspects of public life.” -- Evan Kemp Jr.
Headline: Artists with Disabilities: Unleash the Artist Inside – Frist Center
The Frist Center is holding a statewide Call for Works, for an exhibition
highlighting adult artists with disabilities. Entries are open to emerging and
professional artists, ages 18 years and older, living in Tennessee who have a
physical, cognitive or mental disability.
The exhibition, scheduled from May 16 to Sept. 14, 2008 in the Frist
Center‘s Conte Community Arts Gallery, will provide an opportunity for emerging
and professional artists with disabilities to showcase their work, to promote
disability awareness, and to eliminate barriers for people with disabilities through
the arts. All Frist Center visitors will be able to view artwork in this gallery space
free of charge.
―At the Frist Center, we have long been committed to reaching out to all
areas of our community and beyond, and we are tremendously excited about this
opportunity to again recognize the work of local artists in our state,‖ says Frist
Center Outreach Educator Susie Elder, who is coordinating this exhibition. ―We
are pleased to be working with a number of advisors, organizations and
community leaders in developing this wonderful exhibition, and we are
particularly pleased that VSA arts Tennessee is offering sessions to help artists
of all abilities learn how to develop portfolios of their work.‖
Artists are asked to submit up to five slides or JPEG images of their work.
Work size should not exceed 40 inches in width or height. Due to exhibition
space limitations, three-dimensional work more than 12 x 12 x 12 inches cannot
be accepted. Artists should not submit actual work for the review process.
Applicants should include an artist's narrative (no more than 200 words)
and a personal artist statement (no more than 100 words). Entry forms and full
details are available on the Frist Center‘s website, www.fristcenter.org. All
proposals must be submitted by Oct. 1, 2007.
A panel of distinguished practicing artists, educators and arts
administrators will select the final works for the exhibition. The selection
committee will announce selected works for the exhibition by Nov. 15, 2007. All
decisions are final. Late proposals will be not considered.
The Advisory Group and Programming Partners for the exhibition include
artists and community members with and without disabilities, Centerstone,
Pacesetters, Inc., Technology Access Center, Tennessee Arts Commission,
Tennessee Disability Coalition, Tennessee Performing Arts Center, Vanderbilt
Kennedy Center for Research on Human Development, Vanderbilt University
Medical Center, and VSA arts Tennessee.
For further information about the Frist Center‘s Call for Works, please
contact Shannon Schuirmann at (615) 744-3355 or by e-mail at sschuirmann@
Headline: Children‘s Corner: Mother of the Year Perseveres
Many families across the state have children with significant health care
needs that require in home nursing care. One mom in East Tennessee, who
works hard advocating for her daughter‘s services, has been recognized by the
Tennessee Justice Center as Mother of the Year, 2007.
Sadiatou Barrows cares for her daughter, Binta, in addition to raising her
two sons, Lamin and Museapha, and works full time. As a single parent it is hard
to make ends meet, especially when you must keep an adult in the home while
nursing care is being provided. Add a nursing shortage and life can be very
strenuous on everyone in the family.
Not only has Sadiatou missed many hours of work, but her older son had
to leave college for a semester to help with his sister‘s care when new rules went
into place requiring an adult be in the home during nursing services. He is now
back in school, attempting to regain his scholarship.
However, Sadiatou takes everything in stride and attempts to find answers
through a myriad of agencies including Family Voices of Tennessee, STEP,
DMRS, and the Tennessee Justice Center. When asked about her Mother of the
Year award, Sadiatou said ―… thanks to the Tennessee Justice Center for
honoring me as mother of the year award! I feel that this award is undeserved
because I am only performing the duties that any mother would do under the
Headline: Family Voices and Easter Seals Outreach
CoverKids, the state‘s new insurance program, is designed to cover
children who do not qualify for TennCare/Medicaid but whose parents can‘t afford
or don‘t have access to private coverage. Family Voices of Tennessee in
collaboration with Easter Seals is reaching out to make sure all children have
insurance coverage in Tennessee. Family Voices will be conducting 6
information workshops across the state during July and early August.
The guidelines for CoverKids coverage can be found on the internet at
www.covertn.gov/ cover_kids.html or by calling (866) CoverTN. To learn more
contact Family Voices at (888)-643-7811 or contact Easter Seals at (615) 292-
Persons in Family Unit 150% FPL 150-250% FPL
1 up to $15,314 $15,315 - $25,525
2 up to $20,534 $20,535 - $34,225
3 up to $25,754 $25,755 - $42,925
4 up to $30,974 $30,975 - $51,625
5 up to $36,194 $36,195 - $60,325
6 up to $41,414 $41,415 - $69,025
7 up to $46,634 $46,635 - $77,725
8 up to $51,854 $51,855 - $86,425
Headline: Raymond‘s Room: Ending the Segregation of People with Disabilities
Imagine an 8 by 10 foot room.
What does it look like?
What do you see inside?
Take a deep breath.
What do you smell?
Did you imagine a room with 2 sets of bunkbeds?
How about a room with the bunkbeds and a portable toilet?
Did you imagine up to four people in this room overnight - with no means of
leaving? With the stench of the portable toilet?
Chances are you did not initially see any of those images in your mind.
But now you do. Although it is hard to imagine this harsh reality, it is even harder
to believe that this room existed in the United States in the l970‘s. But it did - in a
residential facility for children with autism. Not that long ago. Raymond’s Room:
Ending the Segregation of People with Disabilities is a poignant, thought
provoking book by Dale DiLeo. The room that was described came to be known
as Raymond‘s Room because a child named Raymond spent most of his time in
that room – for his own protection. For DiLeo, this room represents what is wrong
with the way services are provided to people. DiLeo states that ―This book is my
way of apologizing, Raymond, for what I did not do many years ago.‖
In this book are anecdotes from DiLeo‘s experiences in working with
people with disabilities and includes criticisms, recommendations, and promises
of the future. He discusses the exclusion, isolation, and powerlessness of people
with disabilities and the self-serving, change-resistant ―disability industrial
complex‖ that keeps people down. Recognizing that many people with disabilities
need the support of publicly-funded systems, DiLeo calls upon the service
providers to minimize the perception of disability by helping people learn the
unwritten rules of behavior, the cultural norms. In conclusion, he states ―We just
need to stop accepting what is and start creating what should be.‖
To learn more about Raymond’s Room visit: www.raymondsroom.com
Headline: Meet Ashley …
Ashley is a beautiful two-year-old child who loves daily interaction with her family.
Her foster mother says, ―Ashley is a good baby and she likes to be around the
family.‖ Ashley has cerebral palsy and is not walking or talking so she is
dependent on her care giver. Ashley has a feeding tube and will need a home
that is wheelchair accessible.
What You Can Do For Ashley
Ashley needs an adoptive family who would be able to make a lifelong
commitment and advocate for her needs. She needs a family that is
knowledgeable and experienced in taking care of the needs of a child with
special medical conditions.
For More Information
Call Adrienne Preston or Toni Davis at (901) 578-4252 or (901) 578-4267 or visit
Headline: Member Feature - Mid-South Chapter Paralyzed Veterans of America
Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) was founded more than 61 years
ago by and for veterans of the armed forces with spinal cord injury or disease
(SCI/D). Paralyzed Veterans of America is a dynamic, broad-based organization
with at least 34 chapters, 59 national service offices and more than 19,000
members in the United States and Puerto Rico.
The Mid-South Chapter was founded in March of 1956 and serves
veterans in Tennessee, Arkansas, Alabama, and Mississippi. The chapter
provides a variety of programs and activities to meet the needs of its members
and other Americans with disabilities.
The Mid-South Chapter is dedicated to making a difference in the
community. Members volunteer countless hours at the Memphis, Birmingham,
Jackson, and Little Rock VA Medical Centers, and the Tutt Fan VA Nursing
Home in Alabama. They work closely with VA personnel to insure that SCI/D
patients are getting the care they need and deserve. PVA has service officers in
each state to assist members in applying for and obtaining veterans benefits.
The Mid-South Chapter also advocates for the civil rights of its members
as well as other veterans and people with disabilities. This chapter‘s members
serve as volunteers on state and local advisory boards, helping to ensure that
local building codes and ordinances comply with the Americans with Disabilities
Act and that architectural barriers are removed. The Government Relations
Director at Mid-South PVA was chosen to be on one of only 20 teams selected
across the nation, to attend the Easter Seals – Project Action - Mobility Planning
Services Institute held in Bethesda, MD.
Over several days, the Institute developed an action plan to make
transportation options accessible for people with disabilities in every community.
The plan‘s focus is ―To increase ridership by people with disabilities and seniors
on fixed route buses by identifying potential incentives and improvements.‖
Also among the Mid-South PVA‘s missions is to help newly injured
veterans integrate back into society by helping them recognize that they can still
pursue their dreams and goals, even if they have to do it in a different way. Every
year, a team from the chapter competes at the National Veterans Wheelchair
Games. The games were held in St. Louis this year with 575 PVA members
competing, including 22 new athletes who have served in recent Middle East
conflicts. The Mid-South team of 16 athletes won more than 30 medals
competing in events such as basketball, softball, relay races, billiards, quad
rugby, and air guns.
Additionally, the annual Mid-South Chapter 9-Ball Tournament draws
billiard players from all over the country. There were more than 30 participants
who competed last year over a two-day period and won over $3000 in prizes
collectively. The Mid-South Chapter‘s basketball team, the Rollin‘ Grizzlies, has
also participated in a Regional Wheelchair Basketball Tournament for the last
five years. Clearly a very active organization, Mid-South PVA also has season
tickets to Memphis Grizzlies and Memphis Redbirds sporting events for the use
of its members and inpatients. Other recreational activities include day trips to
local museums, art galleries, and other areas of interest.
The chapter also helps other similar organizations to stay active. Mid-
South PVA was instrumental in helping to open a recreation room on the Spinal
Cord Injury wing of the Memphis Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC). Not
only is the facility a way for long-term patients to combat boredom and
restlessness while they recover, it also helps to boost morale and encourage
patients to pursue a speedy recovery. Plans are already in the works to open a
second room that will be used for a theater and computer lab. Of course, this
project could not have happened without the cooperation of the hospital director,
Mrs. Pittman, and the Interim Chief of SCI, Dr. Richardson.
Finally, among the Mid-South PVA‘s numerous ventures is its barbecue
team, the Para-Porkers, who participated this year in the Memphis In May
International Barbecue Contest on the banks of the Mississippi River. This year
marked the team‘s 15th year in this competition. The perfect weather this year
provided a wonderful atmosphere for members, inpatients, outpatients, staff and
invited guest to visit and eat finger-licking good barbecue.
The Para-Porkers are still the only group out of more than 300 teams whose
members are made up of people with disabilities. The Para-Porkers have brought
a new level of public awareness to the people with disabilities and have proven
that people with spinal cord injuries can enjoy a full, active lifestyle.
The Mid-South Chapter supports research to find cures for paralysis
through contributions to the PVA Research Foundation. Through donations to the
PVA Education Foundation, Mid-South PVA strives to improve the lives of people
with spinal cord dysfunction through consumer information and health-care
The Paragraph, our chapter newsletter is meant to enhance our members'
quality of life by offering a bi-monthly review of our programs and activities,
including notice of upcoming events and features. To learn more about The Mid-
South Paralyzed Veterans of America, contact us by phone at 1-(800)-767-3018
or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Headline: Coalition Feature - Annie‘s Road to Freedom
―When am I going to move into my group home?‖ That was the first,
excited question I heard upon my initial meeting with Annie who always referred
to her community home as her group home. At the time I was not sure if she was
in the process of transitioning from the State‘s developmental center or not. Over
time I learned that Annie had a passion to leave the cottage that she had lived in
for so many years and to move into a home that belonged to her. Although she
did not want to disconnect from all of the women that she had made friendships
with, she wanted to move away from the constraints and the lack of
independence and choices that came with living
in a developmental center.
Annie has difficulty hearing, but she is very good at reading lips. Although
I knew some sign language, my slowness would frustrate her. It became easier
to just write everything down. Annie would read all of my questions back to me
and then answer them. With each and every visit, her question remained the
same, ―When am I moving?‖ Her family loved her but was concerned that the
transition into the community would not be safe or supportive enough.
Annie did get a chance, however. For several months she met with two
other ladies while she anxiously waited for a house to be found. She was beyond
excited. We were all beyond excited. It looked as if Annie‘s dream would fi nally
come true for her. Then the unexpected happened. One of the people changed
their mind. Then everyone involved changed their mind. Once again, Annie was
left behind, with her hopes for her ―group home‖ gone.
I knew that there had to be another option. I sent a letter to the Deputy
Director of the State of Tennessee Division of Mental Retardation Services
(DMRS) West Tennessee Regional Office, the DMRS Deputy Commissioner,
and the Court Monitor asking if the Olmstead Decision could be used to help
Annie move out of the institution. My letter was sent to the People First attorneys.
On behalf of Annie, they filed another petition with the court. Although I didn‘t
know if any action was taken with that document, things started changing for
Annie. There was more interest in her moving. Annie‘s family started to become
open to the idea of her moving again.
Due to her self-advocacy efforts, Annie‘s never ending desire to move was
realized in October, 2006. Her voice was heard, her dream came true, and she
was able to leave the invisible barriers and constraints of the institution. She
faces new challenges today, but the same fighting spirit that kept her hope alive
for so many years will surely carry her through these new ones.
* The name has been changed for reasons of confidentiality.
The Advocacy Program Helps Other’s Find their Road to Freedom
The Tennessee Disability Coalition‘s advocacy program is a specialized
program of court-ordered individual advocacy services available to people with
intellectual disabilities who have left or are leaving the state‘s institutions. Our
advocates assist individuals with intellectual disabilities to ensure that they can
exercise their rights to control their own lives and their choices are honored by
family members, providers and others.
The Coalition‘s advocates are ―on the ground‖ in West and East
Tennessee currently serving almost 700 individuals. Often advocates learn about
or notice issues for the person before others in the system. They often call
attention to issues before they become a larger problem. The advocates' role is
solely focused on the person.
Quality advocacy services can help identify not only individual, but
systemic issues related to:
• health and safety
• civil and human rights
• barriers in the system
Over the past ten years of providing advocacy services, Coalition staff
have learned that:
• It takes more than rules and regulations to keep people safe. People
keep people safe.
• The presence of a person outside of the system who has regular contact
and who has developed a strong relationship with an individual over time
is an individual's greatest protection.
• Monitors look at services, not the person. The person may be receiving a
service, and the service is a quality one. However, it may not be what the
person needs or wants.
• Professional visitors often have "tunnel vision" and focus on particular
issues (medical, therapy, etc.). When the advocate visits, the total person
and his/ her environment are viewed as a whole, and the issues are then
• There is a high rate of turnover within the system. In many instances,
advocates have been, and continue to be, the only constant (aside from
family) in an individual‘s life.
• As a result of the longstanding relationships, advocates have historical
knowledge of the individual and his/her supports. Individuals with
intellectual disabilities have learned that they can trust their advocate to be
there for them and to help them as they speak for themselves.
• Advocacy services are an enhancement to self-advocacy. Both can, and
should, work together for the individual.
• Many times a person can speak for himself/herself, but may not be
―heard‖ by others. This is often due to the fact that other people‘s
perceptions about the person interfere. As a result, the individual‘s
strengths, capabilities, and self-defined needs often go unrecognized. A
professional advocate can assist others to "hear" what the person is
• If advocacy services were not available, the person's voice would be
More Stories of Advocacy
➢ An individual residing in a supported living situation was being put to bed by 5
p.m. because of staffing shortages in his home. When the advocate learned of
this situation, she immediately called a Circle of Support (COS) meeting. During
this COS the advocate was able to get her point across that the agency is solely
responsible for arranging staff for any supported living residence, but must not
manipulate the person being served in order to accommodate the staff or
➢ Another individual being served by an advocate was happy in most aspects of
his life. He enjoyed his home, worked a part-time job at Kroger, and enjoyed the
company of the people around him. However, he had not heard from any of his
family in a number of years and was always saddened when his housemate
would go away for family visits. The advocate began some extensive research.
After reading volumes of files, found this man‘s sister and contacted her. The
sister was ecstatic when she learned that her brother was alive and well. This
family has been re-united through the diligent work of the advocate.
➢ One individual has had a very difficult life that eventually led to him to jail.
While he was in jail, his advocate encouraged him to take classes during the day,
but he did not want to and refused. The advocate then talked with him about a
work release program, and after looking into it he took an interest. The advocate
called the work release board and made an appointment for the individual‘s
Independent Support Coordinator (ISC) and the advocate to talk with them. Staff
with the board were very surprised to have an outside organization taking an
interest in the individual and were impressed that the visitors‘ log showed that the
individual was visited every month by his advocate and/or ISC. Within three
weeks of the meeting the individual was employed through the work release
program where he participated until his release from prison.
Headline: Feature Story - Steadfast and Strong: Identifying and Responding to
Traumatic Brain Injuries at Fort Campbell
Suanne Massey had been focused on the growing concerns reverberating
throughout the military community: Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (MTBI) and the
Service Members living with this silent epidemic. She wondered what
TBI resources, if any, are available to my fellow servicemen and women. Where
can I learn about “local” TBI resources? How do I help them to access these
Ms. Massey, formerly with the Military Severely Injured Center (MSIC) at
Blanchfield Army Community Hospital (BACH) sought answers that would bring
valuable information home to the Fort Campbell community - ASAP!
In late summer of 2006, Ms. Massey was introduced to Paula Denslow,
Coordinator of Project B.R.A.I.N., a statewide project of the Tennessee Disability
Coalition. A conversation began and soon a relationship with BACH blossomed.
As conversations continued, so grew the collective knowledge of the TBI
resources that were immediately available for Soldiers, their families, and
healthcare professionals. While working together momentum grew like that of
snowball racing down the snow covered Smokey Mountains.
In the fall of 2006, using a converted hospital room as office space, a
meeting took place with Cherub I. Williamson, FNP-C, LTC, AN, Chief,
Deployment Health Service, at BACH; Wendy Douglas, Case Manager; Oveta
Gray, RN, BSN, Discharge Planner; Suanne Massey, MSIC; and Paula Denslow.
"For a moment silence filled the room as we recognized the enormity of our
concerns. With the support of the military command, jumping from conversation
to an action strategy, we set our sights on planning an event for Soldiers, their
families, and the healthcare community, " explained Denslow.
Fast approaching was the next deployment of soldiers so time was not on
our side. Project B.R.A.I.N.‘s curriculum piece, Brain Injury 101: Supporting
Students in the Classroom could be quickly modified as an educational and
awareness presentation addressing the needs of our Soldiers and those who
support them. Once the powers that be at Fort Campbell acknowledged that the
wheel need not be reinvented, but customized for our service men and women,
precious time was saved.
Formerly as Chief, Deployment Health Service at BACH, LTC Williamson,
is now proudly serving in Iraq after deployment earlier this year as Medical
Director for Out-Patient Services at Camp Cropper. LTC Williamson‘s vision was
to host a TBI event educating Soldiers, families and the medical community as to
what resources were available including how to connect with the organizations
who provide these services. Fort Campbell is geographically situated in
Tennessee and Kentucky so collaborative efforts brought together resources for
a symposium that united the Brain Injury Associations of TN and KY as well as
rehabilitation services from both states.
According to LTC Williamson, ―Head injuries, no matter how minor, always
pose the threat of causing a traumatic brain injury. Statistics have shown that
young men have a higher incidence of risky lifestyles leading to repeated
chances for head injuries. Apply that inherent risk to our Soldiers at war, who are
constantly in danger of harm from an explosive event, and the end result is all too
frequently a traumatic brain injury.‖
―The subtle symptoms of a mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI) are easily
dismissed as dehydration, fatigue, hunger, etc… This form of unintentional denial
is quite characteristic of a young person‘s infallible attitude. Unfortunately, this
denial leads to repeated exposure which in turn could lead to repetitive insults.
MTBI can cause a wide range of physical and neuron-cognitive changes affecting
thinking, movement, language, memory, emotions and personality. These
sometimes subtle, easily deniable symptoms can cause significant stress on the
Soldier and the Soldier‘s family. Some symptoms may appear immediately after
the injury and other symptoms may not appear for several days or weeks.
Untreated MTBI usually leads to personal, marital and professional problems that
may adversely affect the Soldier‘s future.‖
―Early recognition of MTBI is the hallmark in affording an improved chance
of significant recovery. The Department of Defense has recognized this important
step in the treatment of MTBI. Supported by a grant from the Defense and
Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC), a group of civilian and military medical
experts from the Brain Trauma Foundation developed the Guidelines for the Field
Management of Combat-Related Head Trauma. Screening tools such as the
Military Acute Concussion Evaluation (MACE) and suggested algorithmic
approaches to assessment, treatment, triage, and transport are provided, with
the end result always focused on improvement of outcomes and reduction of long
Recognizing March as Brain Injury Awareness Month, BACH collaborated
with Project B.R.A.I.N. and the Brain Injury Associations of Tennessee (BIAT)
and Kentucky (BIAK) to offer a TBI Symposium featuring two tracks on MTBI.
―Brain injury doesn‘t just affect the wounded soldier; it affects the entire family.
BIAK‘s purpose in participating in this event was to provide information about
how we are able to assist soldiers and families,‖ said BIAK‘s Family Outreach
Coordinator, Eddie Reynolds.
BACH‘s Case Manager Wendy Douglas shares her perspective, ―Since I
began working as an active duty case manager in the Deployment Health Clinic
on Ft Campbell, Kentucky, much attention has evolved on the reintegration of
Service Member‘s with MTBI. The more severely brain injured have immediate
medical attention as the injury presents itself in an obvious way. The MTBI
Service Member may not present so obviously and sometime suffer silently. This
places a great deal of importance on the initial assessment and interview of that
individual Service Member by the first responders at the scene, then again as
they transition through the medical screening overseas and again by the case
manager and the primary care manager upon arrival in CONUS (Continental
―It has been my experience that an individual may not know to report a
'knock out' or even remember the event to report it. Because we have a group of
dedicated, hardworking men and women serving as our protectors that from their
perspective should be ‗strong‘ and ‗fearless‘ thus, admitting to what may be
perceived as a weakness of character, hesitate to report any symptoms that may
present as a behavioral or ‘mental health‘ concern,‖ said
The Service Member is evaluated initially by first responders, medic‘s,
followed by an aid station, and then another evaluation and potentially a short
stay, if appropriate, in another major hospital in Germany. There they receive
even more care and are reevaluated for potential return to CONUS (Continental
United States) or back to their unit, of course that‘s dependent on what is
―My (Ms. Douglas) job as a case manager of the active duty soldier has
now evolved to include a more detailed history of all head injuries prior to
entering the service, including past history of head injury as a child, as well as on
the battle field during their tours of duty. In the assessment interview this
information can alert providers of the potential need for additional diagnostics
and interventions. As the Service Member‘s primary point of contact, it is my
responsibility to alert the primary care manager of assessment changes and
concerns. As their case manager, I may be the first person they feel comfortable
talking to about symptoms that are presenting as behavioral changes. Let‘s face
it, having emotional changes or just not feeling like themselves can be pretty
difficult for a brave young man or woman to admit out loud.‖
―The symposium held at Ft Campbell, March 29, 2007, served as a
catalyst for the Service Member to educate themselves about brain injuries as
well as provide resources of information available for them. It also served to
furnish the healthcare providers an expansion of their knowledge base to ensure
the best possible care and rehabilitation available for our brave soldiers. Also,
very importantly, validating what a service member may have been experiencing
internally,‖ said Wendy Douglas.
―Educating Service Members and their families that these changes may
have been a result of a physical injury is critical. This symposium brought it – TBI
– out in the open. Compassionately, presenters listened to stories shared by
Service Members and wanted to make it known that the Service Member realizes
they are not alone and that what changes they are experiencing is nothing to be
ashamed of, and that these changes are not a weakness of character. When TBI
is properly identified, therapies and services can be prescribed to improve
outcomes for individuals and their families.‖
―Finally, this event shared openly our (BACH‘s) pro-active concerns for the
well being of the Service Member and their families as well as to establish that
we, as healthcare providers, want to assist the person‘s rehabilitation efforts
improving their quality of life. This event was demonstrative of one of the ways
we are taking to help service members in their recovery process,‖ commented
Family Relationships; National Supports and Services
Susan Connors, President and CEO of the Brain Injury Association of
America (BIAA) shares its current efforts, ―Earlier this year, the BIAA entered into
a partnership with ABC News Anchor Bob Woodruff, his wife Lee, and other
members of the Woodruff family to establish the Bob Woodruff Family Fund for
TBI. The Fund is raising money to support military personnel who have sustained
a TBI and their families by making grants to nonprofit organizations, providing
direct financial assistance and supporting medical research, public education,
and prevention of TBI.‖
―We are honored to help Bob and Lee as they embark on their mission to
support, protect and heal returning veterans with TBI and their families,‖ said Ms.
Connors. ―The Woodruffs are an inspiration for military and non-military TBI
survivors and families.‖
―Caring for someone with a brain injury has been described as a
tremendous burden, but one that is deeply satisfying. Research shows that
caregivers face numerous health risks and serious illnesses, including heart
disease, hypertension, poor immune function, increased substance abuse, and
mental health problems. Family caregivers receive little support themselves,
despite documented physical hardships and psychological stress. Family
caregivers also have more workplace challenges; their household incomes
sustain more lost wages and greater lost productivity.‖
―The Brain Injury Association of America has teamed up with the Military
Officers Association of America and Wounded Warrior Project to support the
Heroes At Home Act of 2007, which would provide training, certification and
compensation to family members who work as personal care attendants for blast
brain injury survivors. BIAA and its military partners are collaborating on many
other legislative proposals that would ensure service members who sustain TBI‘s
receive the right treatment, right now from specialty trained TBI clinicians. Visit
the BIAA‘s website at www.biausa.org to learn about these initiatives.‖
For details about Fort Campbell‘s TBI Support Group, contact Angela
Webster, TBI Service Coordinator of the Tennessee Traumatic Brain Injury
Program at 1-800-882-0611.
For More information:
Project B.R.A.I.N. Jennifer Jones, M.S., CRC, CBIS
www.tndisability.org/brain Resource Specialist
Paula Denslow, Coordinator firstname.lastname@example.org
(615) 383-9442 Brain Injury Association of TN
TTY/TDD 615/292-7790 www.biaoftn.org
email@example.com Brain Injury Association of Kentucky
Brain Injury Association of
www.biausa.org Tennessee TBI Program
1 (800) 882-0611
Defense and Veterans Brain Injury m
Center Military Severely Injured Center
www.dvbic.org/pdfs/DVBIC_Fact_Sh with 24/7 Family Support
eet_2006.pdf 1 (888) 774-1361
Headline: News & Issues
ADA Restoration Act: A Course Correction
When President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities
Act (ADA) into law on July 26, 1990, the event represented a historical
benchmark and a milestone in America‘s commitment to full and equal
opportunity for all of its citizens. The ADA was the world‘s first comprehensive
civil rights law for people with disabilities.
The purpose of the ADA was ―to provide a clear and comprehensive
national mandate for the elimination of discrimination against individuals with
disabilities.‖ The provisions of the ADA addressing architectural, transportation,
and communication accessibility have changed the face of American society in
numerous positive ways by enhancing the independence, full participation,
inclusion, and equality of opportunity for individuals with disabilities. For example,
many doctor‘s offices, hospitals and courthouses are more accessible to people
who use wheelchairs. Local theaters offer some of their live performances with
audio descriptions or sign language interpreters for persons with visual or
Unfortunately, from a legal standpoint, not all of the news is positive. Over
the past 17 years, some of the fundamental provisions of the ADA have been
narrowed by Supreme Court rulings. Consequently, the ADA currently does not
provide the scope of opportunities and protections that were originally expressed
by the legislators and disability advocates involved in the creation and passage
of the law. ―When the ADA was enacted, Congress intended that the executive
agencies and the courts would continue the broad, flexible interpretation of the
definition [of disability] and scope of coverage under Section 504 [of the
Rehabilitation Act of 1973] previously adopted by executive agencies and
courts.‖ In addition, the Supreme Court affirmed in its decision in the School
Board of Nassau County v. Arline that the ―Section 504 definition [of disability]
‗acknowledged that society‘s myths and fears about disability and disease are as
handicapping as are the physical limitations that flow from actual impairment.‖
Therefore, the Court emphasized that ―Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act was
designed to protect individuals who are discriminated against because of the
negative attitudes of others toward them, whether or not they have an actual
physical or mental impairment.‖
In a series of ADA cases alleging employment discrimination on the basis
of disability (e.g., Sutton v. United Airlines, Alberston’s v. Kirkingburg, Murphy v.
United Parcel Service, and Toyota Motor Manufacturing v. Williams), the
Supreme Court has ―moved away from a broad remedial interpretation it had
previously given to the Rehabilitation Act [of 1973 and its amendments] and the
disability definition in the Arline case‖. In its place, the Court adopted, and has
since applied, a significantly narrower approach.‖
This narrower approach is considered to be similar to the reasoning
historically used by the courts in Social Security and disability benefit cases.
These cases placed the burden on the individual to prove that s/he is medically
disabled enough to receive certain benefits. The impact of the court‘s new
employment issues is that millions of Americans who want to work - and who
were otherwise intended by Congress and the ADA to be able to work free from
discrimination - have had the door of opportunity shut in their faces because of
these legal decisions. As a result, an individual may be not be hired or fired
because s/he has a physical or mental condition that may or may not pose an
actual barrier to his/her ability to perform a particular job. Many employees with
disabilities have no recourse under the law as it is being interpreted, because
courts focus on whether the employee is covered or not, rather than on whether
illegal discrimination has occurred. The authors of the ADA did not envision this
scenario when the law was developed and passed.
Many people who are committed to the basic principles of civil rights,
including supporters of the ADA, believe that these court decisions and the
reasoning behind them are deeply flawed. They believe that the courts have
ignored common sense, defied clear Congressional intent, and disregarded
explicit federal regulations when interpreting the ADA. Moreover, the courts have
ignored legal history and precedence, including Section 504 of the Rehabilitation
Act of 1973 and state anti-discrimination laws that allowed people to sue for
unfair discrimination based upon a broad definition of disability.
The ADA Restoration Act
The National Council on Disability (NCD), in its December 1, 2004 report,
Righting the ADA, urged the [George W. Bush] Administration and Congress to
support legislation that will ―right‖ the course of the ADA and protect the civil
rights of people with disabilities. It further states that ―legislation is urgently
needed to restore the ADA to ‗assure equality of opportunity, full participation,
independent living, and economic self-sufficiency‘ for Americans with disabilities.‖
The report included a draft bill, the ADA Restoration Act of 2004, designed to
restore the original intent of the ADA.
Responding to the NCD report and similar concerns of national disability
rights advocates, Representatives James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (RWis.) and Steny
H. Hoyer (D-Md.), introduced HR 6258, the Americans with Disabilities Act
Restoration Act of 2006, on September 29, 2006. HR 6258 is intended to restore
the definition of disability to the original meaning intended by Congress in 1990.
The legislative goal is to clarify that the ADA covers any individual with an
impairment, as defined by the bill, without consideration of the severity of the
impairment, the use of mitigating measures, or whether the impairment is
episodic or long-term. In addition to restoring the definition of disability, the ADA
Restoration Act proposes technical amendments to the ADA, including replacing
the phrase ―against an individual with disability‖ with ―on the basis of disability.‖
This change will harmonize the ADA with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other
civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion,
national origin, and sex.
This change will also make clear that the ADA is intended to be equal to
the legal provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other civil rights laws. HR
6258 also amends the definition of ―qualified individual,‖ as defined in Title I of
the ADA, to ensure that employers focus on the essential job functions or the
employment qualifications of an individual with a disability and not on the
The ADA Restoration Act would allow ―Americans who have been denied
the right to demonstrate that they have been subjected to discrimination…[to] be
judged on the basis of their abilities, not their actual or perceived disabilities.‖
The Act continues to be a work in progress and there is much to be done. At
press time, the Congressional Health Committee is considering a hearing,
however, a date has not been scheduled.
by Pamela R. Williamson, Director of Training and
DBTAC: Southeast ADA Center
The following are source materials for this article. For a full copy of the article
with complete footnotes, contact Donna DeStefano or go to
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the U.S. Department of
Justice. (1991). Americans with Disabilities Act Handbook (EEOC-BK-19).
Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.
Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Pub. L. No. 101- 336, §2, 104 Stat. 328
(1991). National Council on Disability. (2004). Righting the ADA. Washington,
D.C. Retrieved June 27, 2007 from
Consortium of Citizens with Disabilities. (2006). Background and Justification for
and Summary of the ADA Restoration Act. Retrieved June 27, 2007 from http://
Sensenbrenner, F. James (March 26, 2007). Transcript: Third Annual Tony
Coelho Lecture in Disability Employment Law and Policy. Retrieved June 27,
2007 from www.nyls.edu/pdfs/SensenbrennerSpeech.pdf.
DBTAC: Regional ADA Centers ADA Audioconference, (May 15, 2007).
Transcript: ADA Restoration Act: Legislative Update. Retrieved June 27, 2007
ADA Restoration Act Timeline
July 26, 1990
ADA Signed into Law by President H.W. Bush
Supreme Court Rules in Sutton v. United Airlines, Albertson‘s v. Kirkingburg,
Murphy v. United Parcel Service - Narrows Definition of Disability
Supreme Court Issues Decision in Toyota Motor Manufacturing v. Williams;
Places Burden of Proof of Disability on Plaintiff, Provides Interpretation of
National Council on Disability Releases Report righting ADA, highlighting the
initial ADA Restoration Act.
September 13, 2006
Testimony Presented to House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution –
The ADA: Sixteen Years Later
September 29, 2006
6258 (ADA Restoration Act of 2006) Introduced by Congressman Hoyer and
March 26, 2007
Lecture by the Honorable F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. regarding the ADA
Headline: Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA)
In October 2006, the Social Security Administration (SSA) replaced the
Benefits Planning, Assistance and Outreach Program with the Work Incentives
Planning and Assistance (WIPA) program. The Program was renamed because
of an increased emphasis on work incentives, return to work supports, and jobs
SSA, as authorized by the Ticket to Work and
Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999, awarded cooperative agreements to a
variety of community organizations to serve as WIPA projects. Two organizations
operate Tennessee‘s WIPA Projects called Benefits To Work, The Center for
Independent Living of Middle Tennessee and the Tennessee Disability Coalition.
Benefits To Work provides state SSA disability beneficiaries access to work
incentive planning and assistance services.
The goal of Benefits To Work is to better enable SSA`s beneficiaries with
disabilities to make informed choices about work. The program includes
Community Work Incentive Coordinators (CWICs) who:
Provide work incentives planning and assistance directly to SSA`s
beneficiaries with disabilities to assist them in their employment efforts;
Conduct outreach to beneficiaries with disabilities (and their families),
who are potentially eligible to participate in Federal or State work
Work in cooperation with Federal, State, and private agencies and
nonprofit organizations that serve beneficiaries with disabilities;
Refer beneficiaries with disabilities to appropriate Ticket To Work
Employment Networks based on the beneficiary's expressed needs;
Provide general information on the adequacy of health benefits
coverage that may be offered by an employer of a beneficiary with a
disability and the extent to which other health benefits coverage may
be available to that beneficiary in coordination with Medicare and/or
Provide information on the availability of protection and advocacy
services for beneficiaries with disabilities and how to access such
Work Incentive Planning and Assistance is about establishing partnerships
that enhance the self sufficiency and economic wellness of beneficiaries and
recipients, while at the same time supporting employment interests. If you would
like to discuss the use of work incentives or would like additional information,
please call our toll free number 1-(888)-839-5333.
For More Information
Benefits to Work - (888) 839-5333 (toll free)
Tennessee Vocational Rehabilitation Services
Maximus (Ticket to Work Program Manager)
Headline: JUST ONE HOUR to Change Tennessee
If you are interested in making a difference for people with disabilities and
have JUST ONE HOUR to give, then we want you! This summer and fall the
Coalition is seeking out people in every county who can give us just one hour to
help push for positive changes in public policy during legislative sessions.
In JUST ONE HOUR you can call a legislator, write a letter, or send an e-
mail that will mean so much to our efforts to pass legislation that can impact
education, home- and community-based services, and so much more.
So you aren’t sure how to make an impact or what to say? That‘s
okay. We are all in this together and we‘ll keep you up-to-date about what‘s going
on at the legislature as well as help you make those important contacts with key
legislators if you can give us JUST ONE HOUR a month during the legislative
If only half of the Coalition Quarterly‘s 10,000 readers dedicated JUST
ONE HOUR each legislative session, the impact on the state legislature would be
monumental! It is so easy and takes so little time. Won’t you join us?
We are looking for people to take part in the Legislative Action Network,
whether you join the Coalition or not. If you are interested please fill out the
return envelope to let us know that you want to join the team. Even if you can
only offer JUST ONE HOUR A YEAR, it will mean so much. With more than
8,600 hours in a year we know you can do it!
For more information about membership or the Legislative Action Network
contact Todd at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Headline: Supreme Court Affirms Parental Involvement
Do parents have independent, enforceable rights when it comes to a
child? Can a parent without legal training or legal representation go to court to
ensure a free appropriate public education for their child? ABSOLUTELY!
In Jacob Winkelman v. Parma City Schools the United States Supreme
Court issued a unanimous decision that parents have the right to represent their
child in court even if they are not attorneys. The court states ―IDEA defines one
of its purposes as seeking ‗to ensure that the rights of children with disabilities
and the parents of such children are protected‘"
In reversing the lower court which ruled against the parents, the Supreme
Court stated, ―The Court of Appeals erred when it dismissed the Winkleman‘s
appeal for lack of counsel. Parents enjoy rights under IDEA … they are ...entitled
to prosecute IDEA claims on their own behalf. The decision by Congress to grant
parents these rights was consistent with the purpose of IDEA and fully in accord
with our social and legal traditions … It is beyond dispute that the relationship
between a parent and a child is sufficient to support a legally cognizable interest
in the education of one‘s child.‖
Finally, the court updated the minimal standards set out for a Free
Appropriate Public Education thirty-five years earlier in ruling that ―The Act
defines a ‗free appropriate public education‘ pursuant to an IEP to be an
educational instruction ‗specially designed … to meet the unique needs of the
child with a disability … coupled with any additional ‗related services‘ that are
‗required to assist a child with a disability to benefit from [that instruction]‖
The importance of the Supreme Court's ruling cannot be overstated. We,
as parents, should take full advantage and exercise our right to be a part of the
IEP team and process to help guide the education of our children.
Credit: Background information found on www.wrightslaw.com
Headline: 2007 General Assembly Wrap-up
Legislators Tackle Dozens of Disability-Related Bills
This spring marked the first year of a two-year session for the General
Assembly. The session was notable not only for the shake up in leadership with
Republicans taking control of the state senate, but also the shift in focus from
TennCare to education.
For persons with disabilities the session was notable for the sheer number
of higher profile disability related bills including several positive bills supported by
the Tennessee Disability Coalition, the Arc of Tennessee, the Disability
Coalition on Education, the Tennessee Mental Health Consumers Association,
and AARP of Tennessee. However, muddying the waters was legislation that
would cut funding to support Coalition programming for families and children
such as Project Brain and Family Voices.
The Coalition focused on two bills early in the session. The first bill
updates language in Tennessee Code relevant to voting and was passed into
law. The second bill was the Home- and Community-Based Services (HCBS)
Identification and Assessment Act which would establish a system of
identification and assessment of persons seeking long-term care so they could
avoid being institutionalized by diversion to home- and community-based
services. This bill remains alive and kicking for the Spring 2008 session and if
passed next year it will provide a strong fi rst step toward improving access to
HCBS in Tennessee.
Late in the session the Coalition provided assistance with passage of the
Special Education Due Process and Child Abuse Prevention Act (see page 23)
and closely followed efforts by freshman Senator Lowe Finney and
Representative Mark Maddox to create a comprehensive Department of Aging
and Disability to improve coordination and administration of services to seniors
and person with disabilities.
Bills that Became Law
Alzheimers Disease Task Force – Establishes a task force to assess the
current and future impact of Alzheimers disease on Tennesseans. It will submit a
report of its findings and recommendations to the General Assembly and
Governor in February 2008. Lead sponsors were Senator Tim Burchett and
Representative Joe Armstrong.
Epilepsy Prescriptions – Prohibits a pharmacist from substituting one anti-
epileptic drug for treatment of epilepsy for another anti-epileptic drug without prior
signed informed consent from the prescribing physician and the patient or
patient‘s legal representative. Includes exceptions for hospitals, nursing homes
and mental health facilities. Sponsors were Senator Tim Burchett and
Representatives Lois DeBerry, Joe Armstrong, Joanne Favors, and Gary
Isolation or Restraint of Person with Mental Illness – Allows the Department
of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities to determine by rules those
people who are authorized to restrain or isolate persons with mental illness or
severe emotional disturbance for purposes of safety. Requires that a health
professional in charge of that person‘s care be notified. Sponsored by Senators
Doug Jackson, Beverly Marrero, and Charlotte Burks as well as
Representatives David Shepard, Jim Hackworth, Bill Harmon, Henry
Fincher, and Mark Maddox.
Law Enforcement Training – Requires all police and highway patrol officers be
provided training on proper response to persons with mental illness.
Also requires commission‘s curriculum to include such training. Sponsored by
Senators Roy Herron, Beverly Marrero and Charlotte Burks as well as
Representative Mark Maddox.
Licensure Exemption for Personal Support Services – Appears to narrow the
licensing exception for individuals providing personal support services to a single
client with mental illness, serious emotional disturbance, or developmental
disability. Individuals may still be exempt from licensing requirements if providing
services to only one person and not holding themselves out as being in the
business of providing services. Sponsored by Senators Joe Haynes, Jerry
Cooper, Beverly Marrerro, and Charlotte Burks plus Representative
Restraint and Seclusion – Establishes a commission, including representation
from the disability community, on methods of restraints used on students who
receive special education services. The commission will report its findings and
recommendations to the General Assembly and it is expected that new
legislation will be introduced based on the commission‘s work. Sponsors were
Senators Doug Jackson, Rusty Crowe, Reginald Tate, and Beverly Marrero
and Representatives Sherry Jones, Dennis Ferguson, Barbara Cooper, Gary
Odom, G.A. Hardaway, and Larry Miller.
Veterans with Disabilities – Authorizes property tax relief for veterans
permanently and totally disabled from service-connected activities. Lead
sponsors were Senator Rosalind Kurita and Representative Charles Curtiss.
Vision Screening – Allows and encourages schools to seek free or low-cost
vision exams for students who are unable to pay for them. Sponsored by
Senators Thelma Harper and as well as Representatives Ben West, Jim
Coley, Gary Moore, and G.A. Hardaway.
Voting and the Tennessee Code – Updated the Tennessee Code by replacing
outdated language such as ―handicapped voter‖ with ―voter with a disability‖ as
well as redefining disability to match the ADA definition. Sponsored by Senators
Tim Burchett, Mark Norris, Bo Watson, Bill Ketron, Joe Haynes, and Jim
Tracy plus Representative Sherry Jones.
Bills That are Still Pending
Administration of Anti-Seizure Medication – Legislation has been sent to
summer study that would allow properly trained volunteer school personnel to
administer anti-seizure medications, including diazepam gel, to a student in an
emergency situation. Sponsored by Senators Bill Ketron and Reginald Tate as
well as Representative Jim Coley.
Mental Health Testing Restrictions – Requires written parental notification and
consent before a school can order emotional or mental health screening for a
student. Lead sponsors are Senator Diane Black and Representative
RNs and Prescriptions – Would allow RNs to dispense prescription drugs when
a pharmacist provides supervision on-line by computer under certain conditions.
Sponsors are Senator Tim Burchett and Representative Nathan Vaughn.
Voting by Absentee Ballot – Would permit any registered voter to vote by
absentee ballot thus making elections more accessible for many with disabilities.
This legislation has been sent to a Joint Study Committee. Sponsored by
Senator Doug Jackson and Representative David Shepard.
Bills that Failed on a Vote
Hearing Screenings for Newborns – Two competing bills were introduced to
require that newborns receive hearing screens prior to discharge from the
hospital and each failed in committee. Senators Thelma Harper and Tim
Burchett as well as Representatives Mary Pruitt and Joe McCord were
sponsors of the competing bills.
Bills Taken Off Notice
Bills that are taken “off notice” or sent to “general subcommittee” are not dead;
however, they often are not revived for future consideration. With support from
the public these bills can be resurrected in the spring of 2008.
Care of Students with Diabetes – Would allow adult volunteers, in addition to
school personnel, to perform certain diabetes care tasks for students. It specifies
criteria for instruction and training. Sponsored by Senators Jamie Woodson and
Randy McNally as well as Representative Eric Swafford.
Class Sizes – Required schools to take into consideration the needs of students
with disabilities when establishing class sizes. It would have required the State
Board of Education to set formulas that would lead to smaller class sizes if one or
more students with disabilities within a class required additional attention.
Sponsored by Senator Raymond Finney and Representative Harry Brooks.
Community Choices Act of 2007 – Would allow patients living in an
intermediate care facility or certain nursing homes to transition to home care by
instituting a ―money follows the person‖ program. It would also allow nurses to
delegate certain health maintenance activities to unlicensed persons. Sponsored
by Senator Ward Crutchfield and Representative Mike Kernell.
Definition of Wheeled Mobility Devices – Adds certain Medicare wheelchair
codes to the list of exemptions from the definition of ―wheeled mobility device‖ for
regulation of health and related facilities. Sponsored by Senator Diane Black
and Representative Mike Turner.
Dental Coverage for Cover Kids – Two similar bills require that dental coverage
be included for children as a benefit of the Cover Kids program. Sponsors of the
bills include Senators Doug Jackson and Diane Black as well as and
Representatives Mike Turner, Joey Hensley, and David Shepard.
Hearing Aids for Children – Requires certain health insurers to offer hearing aid
coverage for children as an optional benefit. Would limit the benefit payable to
$1,500 per hearing aid for each hearing impaired ear every 36 months. Exempts
TennCare from the requirement. Sponsored by Senator Mark Norris and
Representative John J. Deberry.
Traumatic Brain Injury Waiver – In its original form requires the state to submit
a federal waiver proposal for services to persons with an acquired brain injury.
Sponsored by Senator Rusty Crowe and Representative Nathan Vaughn.
Five Bills to Watch in 2008
Blind Vendor Program – Exempts local jails, prisons, and workhouses from a
state requirement that priority for operation of vending facilities must be given to
individuals who are blind. The bill was rewritten to create a summer study
committee that would review the Blind Vendor Program and report back to the
General Assembly. Sponsored by Diane Black and Representatives Debra
Maggart, Susan Lynn and Mike McDonald.
Department of Aging and Disability – Sen. Lowe Finney hit the ground
running in his first term by introducing a bill with Representative Mark Maddox
to create a Department of Aging and Disability that would elevate the needs of all
people with disabilities to a cabinet level department as well as put Tennessee in
a better position to improve home- and community-based services. The bill is still
working its way through the legislature and its final form is uncertain. It may
ultimately lead to a Department of Aging or perhaps a Department of Aging and
Adult Services so your support will be critical to ensuring that the bill does not
lose its focus on people with disabilities.
Funding Cuts to Coalition Programming - Thanks to the many calls and letters
of Coalition friends across the state, legislation designed to cut a significant
source of funding by 66% was stalled in the General Assembly this spring.
However, the legislation by Senator Tim Burchett and Representative Janice
Sontany may resurface in 2008.
HCBS Identification and Assessment Act – Establishes a system for periodic
assessments of current and future Medicaid recipients to determine suitability
and desire for home- and community-based care. Sponsored by Senator Doug
Jackson with Representatives David Shepard and Joey Hensley.
Health Insurance Coverage – Among other things it would remove
requirements that some health insurers provide certain coverage for breast
cancer screenings, reconstructive breast surgery, pediatric nursery care of
newborns, diabetes equipment and supplies, and bone density testing. It would
also eliminate the Autism Equity Act. Sponsored by Senator Dewayne
Bunch and Representative Brian Kelsey.
Headline: New Education and Abuse Law Helps Protect Rights of Children
The Special Education Due Process and Child Abuse Prevention Act
passed this spring thanks to efforts of families across the state who repeatedly
contacted legislators and attended legislative hearings.
Rep. Rob Briley and Sen. Bill Ketron, the main sponsors, each saw this bill
as a first step to improving the way special education disputes are resolved and a
means of leveling the playing field for parents in special education disputes. In
supporting the bill they each spoke passionately about wanting to help families
advocate for the needs of their children.
This bill does several important things:
Child Abuse Protections – it prohibits the Department of Education, the State
Board of Education, local boards of education and local education agencies
(school districts) from hiring any individual who has committed abuse against a
child or an adult or who is listed on the sex offender‘s registry. This provision will
require each agency to submit the names of all potential employees to determine
whether they have been identified as an abuser.
With regard to administrative complaints:
requires the Department of Education to establish a system for
submitting administrative complaints on the internet,
allows the Department of Education to require the provision of
compensatory education for substantive violations of IDEA, as well
as procedural violations that result in a substantive denial of FAPE,
all violations and corrective measures will be published on the
With regard to mediation and due process:
all mediators will either be contracted by or employed by the
Secretary of State‘s office and all administrative law judges (ALJ)
will be employees of the Secretary of State‘s office,
all training in special education law provided to mediators and ALJs
will be conducted by the Tennessee Administrative Office of the
final orders in due process cases must make a finding of who the
prevailing party is on each issue in the case,
all due process final decisions will be posted on the Department
attorneys representing either a school district or a child are not
considered members of the IEP team.
The changes required by this new law are important for several reasons.
Now that the Department can require a remedy of compensatory education in
certain situations, families may be able to resolve their dispute through the
administrative complaint process if they are unable to do so using a more
informal process with their school district. Previously, the only way to accomplish
this was through a due process litigation. Moreover, prior to this bill all mediators
and administrative law judges were selected, trained, and paid directly by the
Department of Education.
Headline: A Final Word - Coalition Membership
Historically the Coalition has focused on organizational membership so
that it could draw upon the strengths of many groups across the state to push for
vital changes in public policy. However, as the Coalition begins to build a
grassroots Legislative Action Network the time seems ripe to remind our friends
and readers that they too can join the Coalition.
Annual membership is just $10, but can be waived it if poses a hardship.
Membership dues help cover things like this magazine and other
communications about disability issues.
To join the Coalition just fill out the envelope enclosed with this issue,
include your membership dues, and add a stamp, then send it our way.
We‘ll take care of the rest.
Headline: The Road to Freedom: Keeping the Promise of the Americans with
This fall the Tennessee Disability Coalition, its members, and partners will
serve as state host to the ADA Road to Freedom Tour which will be making stops
all across the state:
Memphis, October 29
Jackson, October 30
Nashville, October 31
Knoxville, November 1
The Road to Freedom Tour is a national awareness campaign inspired by
the historic journey of Justin and Yoshiko Dart who traveled across America to
mobilize support for passage of the ADA in 1990. Sponsored by ADA Watch, the
year-long, cross-country bus journey launched from Washington, DC on
November 15th, 2006. Its mission is to engage audiences across the United
States with the story of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the history of the
disability rights movement.
The Road to Freedom‘s aim is to remind Americans of the promise of the
ADA – freedom, inclusion, and equal opportunities for children and adults with
physical, mental, cognitive and developmental disabilities. With the powerful
support of the Tennessee disability community, the tour will raise public interest
in disability issues and encourage public officials to tackle disability issues such
as employment, public accommodations, housing, education, and transportation.
Among the exhibits featured are Tom Olin‘s historical photographs of the
struggle for disability rights that have been featured at the Smithsonian Institute.
Tour stops will also include a narrative of the grassroots history of the ADA as
written by Arlene Mayerson of the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund
(DREDF). In addition, the Coalition hopes to hold press conferences on state
disability issues with public officials at each stop.
This will be an excellent opportunity to celebrate the history of the ADA
and the disability rights movement as well as learn more about the movement‘s
origins and how we can continue to advocate for people with disabilities. For
more information or to learn how you can help contact Courtney Jenkins-Atnip at
email@example.com or by phone at (615) 383-9442.