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Friday, January 25, 2013



Recent Disability Updates

Note: If you received this email as a forward but would like to be added to the White House Disability Group email distribution list, please visit our website at and fill out the "contact us" form in the disabilities section, or you can email us at and provide your full name, city, state, and organization.

Recent disability announcements include the acknowledgement of Americans with disabilities in the President's inaugural address, the introduction of audio descriptions for public tours, the release of new guidance from the Department of Education on the obligation of schools to provide opportunities for students with disabilities to participate in extracurricular athletics, and that announcement of a new strategic plan regarding Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. 

In addition, the Department of Justice has charged five individuals with 196 indictments, including the violation of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, for targeting individuals with disabilities in a Social Security fraud scheme. The Justice Department also recently filed comprehensive agreement resolving litigation concerning conditions of care at the former Arlington Developmental Center. Lastly, the Department of Housing and Urban Development recently announced that Bloomington, Minnesota-based U.S. Bank National Association will pay $12,000 to a loan applicant with disabilities under a Conciliation Agreement. Read more about all of these stories below.

Inaugural Address by President Barack Obama

"We, the people, still believe that every citizen deserves a basic measure of security and dignity.  We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit.  But we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future.  (Applause.)  For we remember the lessons of our past, when twilight years were spent in poverty and parents of a child with a disability had nowhere to turn."

Read the full inaugural address at the following link:

White House Announces Audio Descriptions for Public Tours

President Obama and the First Lady have long been committed to ensuring that the White House is truly the People’s House, and that Americans with disabilities are fully integrated into our society.  Continuing on that commitment, the White House Visitor’s Office is pleased to announce the availability of an audio description for those taking a White House tour. This will give blind and visually impaired Americans and persons with other print disabilities the opportunity to listen to an audio described tour as they visit the historic, public rooms of the White House.

Read more about the audio descriptions at the following link:

U.S. Department of Education Clarifies Schools' Obligation to Provide Equal Opportunity to Students with Disabilities to Participate in Extracurricular Athletics

The Department's Office for Civil Rights issued guidance clarifying school districts' existing legal obligations to provide equal access to extracurricular athletic activities to students with disabilities. In addition to explaining those legal obligations, the guidance urges school districts to work with community organizations to increase athletic opportunities for students with disabilities, such as opportunities outside of the existing extracurricular athletic program.

Read more about this story at the following link:

Strategic Plan for Improving Management of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act Announced

The new strategic plan provides a more comprehensive and structured approach to further improve agencies’ management of the requirements of Section 508.  This approach includes actions agencies need to take to (1) increase transparency, (2) strengthen accountability, and (3) improve collaboration regarding accessible EIT.  

Read the memorandum on the strategic plan at the following link:

Federal Charges Allege Captors Held Adults with Disabilities in Subhuman Conditions to Carry Out Social Security Fraud

Linda Weston, her daughter and three co-defendants are charged in a 196-count indictment, unsealed today, with racketeering conspiracy, murder in aid of racketeering, hate crimes, sex trafficking, kidnapping, forced human labor, theft, fraud, and other violent crimes. The indictment alleges that Weston and her associates carried out a racketeering enterprise that targeted victims with mental disabilities and as part of a scheme to steal disability payments from the victims and the Social Security system.

Read more about this story at the following link:

Justice Department Obtains Comprehensive Agreement to Resolve Long Standing Litigation Regarding the Rights of People with Developmental Disabilities

The Justice Department announced that it recently filed in federal court a comprehensive agreement that will resolve long running litigation with the state of Tennessee originally concerning conditions of care at the former Arlington Developmental Center (ADC).  

Read more at the following link:

HUD, US Bank Settle Disability Discrimination Claim

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently announced that Bloomington, Minnesota-based U.S. Bank National Association will pay $12,000 to a loan applicant with disabilities under a Conciliation Agreement settling allegations that the bank required him to provide unnecessary documentation to establish he would continue receiving disability income for three years before they would approve his mortgage loan.

Read more about at the following link: 

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We are proud of Robin Renshaw, transition specialist at Nevada PEP, for receiving the
Personal Advocate award from the Nevada Disability and Advocacy Center.


My name is Michele Santee. I am the Intakes Specialist here at Nevada PEP. I wanted to share my families experiences with the Holiday Season. I have a 9 year old son named Ashton who has Autism. When the Holiday’s come around we experience a lot more stress than usual, as I am sure most of our PEP families do!


During this time of year we have to find more untraditional ways to celebrate. Family gatherings are certainly hard on our kids. I remember one year we were invited to a Christmas dinner at a very close friends’ home. There was a table displayed beautifully with food, snacks, and desserts. There was a turkey in the center of the table. My son ran right over to that turkey and ripped the leg off and began his Christmas feast! I could feel all the eyes in the room on me. Of course, my son doesn’t notice and continues to devour his stolen turkey leg with the biggest smile on his face – I can still vividly remember that moment.  I laugh about this now, but I remember the feeling I had at that moment. I felt like I ruined everyone’s Christmas dinner and I was uncomfortable for the remainder of the time we spent there. Family gatherings are also tough for our kids that are not comfortable with large groups, loud music, and lots of commotion. My son in particular can only handle very short burst of excitement before the inevitable meltdown begins. Over the years we have learned through my son’s body language when enough is enough! Because of this we have been able to successfully enjoy gatherings in very small doses. One quote that reminds me of my son and something I try to remember during this stressful time is “less is more” .


There is so much more to the Holiday season than gatherings. What about the change in weather? Our kids, especially our sensory sensitive kids, have a hard time with changing their wardrobe and understanding when it’s sunny it doesn’t mean it’s warm out. We had taken a road trip to the East Coast to visit with my extended family and my son had never experienced snow or the frigid cold weather. He grew up most his life in San Diego and Las Vegas. One morning while we were there I was fixing the kids breakfast and my son was just fine running around the house, as usual. When I went to call the kids for breakfast, I find the front door was wide open. I immediately run outside, no shoes, and in my pajamas. I found a fresh set of footsteps leading to the backyard. There he was curled up in the snow not sure what to do, in his birthday suit!  My son is notorious for wearing birthday suit while in the home. But he has learned, snow is very cold. Still to this day when we talk about snow he immediately tells me “snow cold”.


Christmas morning in my house is probably much different than most traditional Christmas mornings. My daughter, Amelia, loves unwrapping gifts. My son on the other hand sees a wrapped gift as a box with a bunch of Christmas pictures all over it. He doesn’t enjoy the element of surprise. Surprises upset my son because he likes everything to be predictable. So, under our tree Christmas morning we have half our gifts all wrapped and the other half unwrapped. It helps keep my son engaged with the family while he checks out all his new toys and while we unwrap our gifts. It works for us and makes the morning more predictable and enjoyable for our son.


What I am trying to say is, the Holiday Season can be very stressful on our families. In particular on our children with special needs. You need to find ways to make the Holiday’s fun, fulfilling, enjoyable for your family. Sometimes this means celebrating a little different and there is nothing wrong with being different. My family enjoys our new unique traditions it makes our family special to us. Holidays can be hard with all the change, excitement, and seasonal stress on top of all your regular stress. You have to try and laugh through the trying times and surround yourself with people that understand your family and that can laugh along with you. I wish all of our PEP families a wonderful, safe, and different Holiday Season! Cheers!


Nevada PEP is proud to announce that Havander Davis was awarded the honor of being the Private Sector Employee of the Year by WEET (Work Enhancement Employment Team)!  Join us in congratulating Havander, as we all know he is deserving of the honor. 



Significant Policy Guidance for the U.S. Department of Education - Creating Equitable Opportunities for Children and Youth with Disabilities to Access Physical Education and Extracurricular Athletics. 

Recently, a report by the United States Government Accountability Office revealed that, despite legislation obligating states and schools to provide equal access, opportunities for physical activity are limited for children and youth with disabilities. The Policy Guidance is the initial response to the GAO recommendation that “the Secretary of Education facilitate information sharing among states and schools on ways to provide opportunities in PE and extracurricular athletics to students with disabilities.” The document will help disseminate information on improving opportunities for children and youth to access PE and athletics and to refer the reader to sources of additional information regarding the inclusion of children and youth with disabilities in PE and athletic extracurricular activities. The Office for Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Education will be providing separate and additional guidance on the legal aspects of the provision of extracurricular athletic opportunities to students with disabilities to comply with the second recommendation by the GAO to the Department in its report.

For more information about the GAO findings and recommendations 

For more information about the Policy Guidance visit