Friday, October 31, 2008

IMPORTANT ELECTION NEWS: Correction on Early Voting Hours

Important Correction to Early Voting Hours for Saturday, November 1st. NOT ALL of the Counties are going to be doing extended hours on Saturday!!!

Please check the North Carolina State Board of Election Website for where your Early Vote Site is and what time it will close on Saturday!

You can see more information at WRAL!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Election 2008: Special Announcement-Early Voting Hours Extended for Saturday

WRAL news is reporting that all Early Voting locations will be open four extra hours on Saturday, November 1st.

This announcement is from the North Carolina State Board of Elections and does cover all 100 counties.

Election 2008: Early Voting Ends November 1st

Quick reminder: It is not to late to vote early! That is right, while you are running around doing that last minute Halloween costume purchase or last minute Halloween candy purchase please consider stopping to vote!

We encourage you to vote early.  The lines on Tuesday, November 4th are expected to be long and we do not want you to miss out on casting a ballot in this important election.

Early Voting sites are open until this Saturday, November 1st.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Election 2008: Problems at the Polls? Here is Who to Call

If you are a person with a disability and you experience any problems at your polls that limit your right to vote, we need you to report it.  There are three organizations that are open and ready to take your calls.

Please report barriers to voting to the following organizations:

The NC State Board of Elections at 866-522-4723.

Democracy North Carolina at 888-OUR-VOTE.

The Election Protection National Hotline at 866-OUR-VOTE.

Election 2008: Your Voting Rights!

We encourage you to use Early/One Stop Voting sites that are now open around the state to cast your vote! We also encourage you to know your rights as a voter! If you are a person with a disability voting in this election there are two laws that protect your rights, one is the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines the other is the Help America Vote Act (HAVA)

The North Carolina Board of Elections site states the following on Voter Accessibility for people with disabilities:

Voting Accessibility
North Carolina boards of elections are committed to ensuring compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG). Most polling places in the State are accessible to all voters.

Unfortunately, some localities do not have the available structures or adequate funding to alter them. Contact your county board of elections to learn more about your particular voting facility. Note the “reassignment of polling place” provision should your polling place not be accessible in the near future.

Adaptive technology and ballots in accessible media are available upon request. Contact your County Board office and make them aware of your voting needs.

When a voter with a disability appears to vote at his or her precinct on election day, he or she may take advantage of the provisions in G.S. 163-155 and G.S. 163-152(a).


If a disabled voter does not wish to vote curbside, and the polling place is not sufficiently equipped to allow comfortable or adequate entrance to the building, there is another option in G.S. 163-130:
"G.S. 163-130. Satellite voting places. A county board of elections may, upon approval of a request submitted in writing to the State Board of Elections, establish a plan whereby elderly or disabled voters in a precinct may vote at designated sites within the precinct other than the regular voting place for that precinct. The State Board of Elections shall approve a county board's proposed plan if:

All the satellite voting places to be used are listed in the county's written request
The plan will in the State Board's judgment overcome a barrier to voting by the elderly or disabled persons;
Adequate security against fraud is provided for; and
The plan does not unfairly favor or disfavor voters with regard to race or party affiliation.


"G.S. 163-166.9. Aged and disabled persons allowed to vote outside voting enclosure. In any primary or election any qualified voter who is able to travel to the voting place, but because of age, or physical disability and physical barriers encountered at the voting place is unable to enter the voting place or enclosure to vote in person without physical assistance, shall be allowed to vote either in the vehicle conveying such person to the voting place or in the immediate proximity of the voting place. . ."


"G.S. 163-166.8. Assistance to voters in primaries and general elections. In a primary or general election, a registered voter qualified to vote in the primary or general election shall be entitled to assistance in getting to and from the voting booth and in preparing his ballots in accordance with the following rules:

Any voter shall be entitled to assistance from a near relative of his [her] choice.

Any voter in any of the following four categories shall be entitled to assistance from a person of the voter's choice, other than the voter's employer or agent of that employer or officer or agent of the voter's union:

1. One who, on account of physical disability, is unable to enter the voting booth without assistance;

2. One who, on account of physical disability, is unable to mark his ballots without assistance;

3. One who, on account of illiteracy, is unable to mark his ballots without assistance;

4. One who, on account of blindness, is unable to enter the voting booth or mark his ballots without assistance."


In 1999, disability advocacy leaders, along with local election officials developed the North Carolina Task Force on Elections Access. The Task Force's primary goal is to seek solutions to the issues faced by both voters with disabilities and election officials. The elections community is committed to issues involved in all voters exercising their right to vote and in doing so with dignity and pride.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Election 2008: The Arc of Wake County-Candidate Forum

Wednesday is the date! We have a good list of candidates who will be participating. Please come prepared with your questions!

Wednesday, October 22nd 7 - 9 pm
Raleigh Council Chambers
222 W. Hargett St. Room 201 Raleigh, 27601

Dont miss your chance to ask questions and find out where our candidates stand in the upcoming election.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Monday Quick HIts: Hot Policy Topics for This Week

It is going to be a very busy week at the North Carolina General Assembly. With under 16 days to go until the election, committee meetings are scheduled for every day this week. Planning ahead we see a big decrease in meetings for next week. There are some meetings of great interest to our community this week. There is a Health Care Oversight meeting on Tuesday and then on Thursday the House Select Committee on Compensation for Victims of Eugenics Sterilization Program meets.
As always, all of these meetings are open to the public.

North Carolina:

Monday, Oct. 20

10 a.m. | The Child Fatality Taskforce meets, 1228/1327 LB.

Tuesday, Oct. 21
10 a.m. | The Health Care Oversight meets, Joint Legislative Committee meets, 1228/1327 LB.

10 a.m. | The House Select Committee on Televising Sessions meets, 1425 LB.

10 a.m. | The Agency Review Sub-Committee of Joint Legislative Committee on Domestic Violence meets, 421 LOB.

Wednesday, Oct. 22

10 a.m. | The Legislative Study Commission on Children and Youth meets, 1027/1128 LB.

1 p.m. | The Joint Select Committee on Arts Education meets, 1228/1327 LB.

Thursday, Oct. 23

10 a.m. | The North Carolina Study Commission on Aging meets, 544 LOB.

1 p.m. | The House Select Committee on Compensation for Victims of the Eugenics Sterilization Program meets, 1124/1224 LB.

1 p.m. | The House Study Committee on Unbanked and Underbanked Consumers meets, 1228/1327 LB.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Same Day Voting/Early Voting Begins in North Carolina Today!

Beat the rush and vote today.  If you head over to The Arc of NC Election 2008 blog you will find information regarding Same Day Voting/Early Voting.  

We encourage you to learn about the candidates. We have many sites listed on the Election Blog to help you with that.

Also remember that the judicial races and many others are non-partisan.  

Remember also to turn over your ballot! The other candidates are on the back of the ballot!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Coalition Announces: Presidential Candidate Forum

The Coalition has been contacted by the Obama/Biden Presidential campaign with an offer to speak with North Carolina mental health, developmental disability and substance abuse advocates about the campaign's position on these issues and to hear from advocates about their concerns. The campaign will be sending a representative to speak with and answer questions from Coalition members and the public. This is a wonderful opportunity to hear from and educate a Presidential Candidate’s policy committee on the important SA/DD/MH issues that need to be addressed at the Federal level.

This is not a debate event between candidates; only one candidate’s campaign will be present. Please note that the Coalition has contacted the McCain/Palin campaign with a similar offer, and are doing the same with the NC Republican Party. Should they respond with interest, a similar event will be held to speak with them on these same issues.

The forum is open to the public and we encourage individuals, families, providers, advocates, and anyone concerned with developmental disabilities, addiction, and mental health to attend.

Date: Tuesday, October 21st
Time: 6 p.m. with doors opening at 5:30 p.m.
Where: Meredith College Chapel, Raleigh NC

Snacks & beverages will be served beginning at 5:30 p.m.

Spread the word and plan to attend!

Please come with QUESTIONS!

For directions to 3800 Hillsborough St, Raleigh, NC visit Our thanks to Meredith College and the Meredith College Democrats for their sponsorship of the event.

Joint Legislative Oversight Committee Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, Substance Abuse: Agenda

The Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse will meet on Thursday, October 16, 2008. The meeting will be in room 643 of the Legislative Office Building. The meeting is open to the public and can be heard on line at the North Carolina Legislative website.


1. Greetings and Opening Comments 10:00 – 10:15
Representative Verla Insko, Co-Chair
Senator Martin Nesbitt, Co-Chair

2. Local Management Entities 10:15 – 11:15

a. Albemarle LME
Charlene Allen, Finance Officer
Dr. Hunter Thompson, Medical/Clinical Director

b. Johnston LME
Dr. Janis Nutt, Area Director

c. Critical Measures: LME Performance Matrix
Shealy Thompson, Ph.D., Quality Management Team Leader
Division of MH/DD/SAS, DHHS

3. State Facilities 11:15 – 11:45
a. State ADATC Facility Update
Helen Wolstenholme, ADATC Team Leader, Div. of MH/DD/SAS, DHHS

b. State Psychiatric Hospitals
Michael Lancaster, MD, Co-Director, Div. of MH/DD/SAS, DHHS

4. Community Support Services 11:45 – 12:30

a. Snapshot of Published Monthly Reports
Leza Wainwright, Co-Director, Div. of MH/DD/SAS, DHHS

b. Overview of Legislative direction
Gann Watson, LOC staff

c. Update on Appeals Process
Tara Larson, Acting Director, DMA, DHHS

Lunch 12:30 – 1:30

5. Program Evaluation Division 1:30 – 2:00
a. Evaluation of the MH/DD/SAS System
Yana Samberg, Program Evaluation Division, NCGA
Dr. Carol Ripple, Program Evaluation Division, NCGA

6. NC Council on Developmental Disabilities Summit 2:00 – 2:45
a. Review and Recommendations
Valerie Bradley, President,
Human Services Research Institute

7. CAP MR/DD Services Provided by Family Members 2:45 – 3:00
Leza Wainwright, Co-Director Div. of MH/DD/SAS, DHHS

Adjourn 3:00

Election 2008: It's Debate Night!!

Please check out the Election 2008 blog for information on two important debates that are happening this evening!

Joint Legislative Oversight Committee Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, Substance Abuse: Meeting

The Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse will be meeting on Thursday, October 16, 2008. The meeting will begin at 10:00am in room 643 of the Legislative Office Building. This meeting is open to the public. If you are unable to attend you can listen on line at the North Carolina General Assembly webpage.

We will update this post later today with the agenda.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Election 2008: Sample Ballot Information (Edited for Clarification See Bold)

Before you head out to vote....take a moment to familiarize yourself with your local ballot. This year the ballot has four parts. So here they are:

1. Vote for the Presidential Candidate of your choice.

2. Vote for the party of your choice. Democrat, Republican or Libertarian straight party ticket are your choices here. If you vote for a straight party ticket you can skip the Partisan Race section of the ballot. will still NOT have voted for the Judicial races and Non Partisan candidates.

3. Partisan Races are next on the ballot. These include your choice for United States Senate and House of Representatives as well as your choice for North Carolina Senate and House. In addition you will find all state offices, such as commissioner of insurance or labor, in this section.

4. Non Partisan Races are the last on the ballot. These are your judicial candidates.

Want to see a sample ballot here is an example.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Election 2008 Important Information.

The election is quickly coming up and we want to encourage you to take the opportunity to learn more about how to vote in North Carolina.  To help with this we have been blogging the election and voting information on our Election 2008 blog.

We have an interesting article up now from the Huffington Post discussing the disability vote.  We also have links up that will help you access early voting options in our state.

This election is important.  Your vote will matter. Take the time to read up on your rights at the polling places and learn more about the candidates.

Monday Quick HIts: Hot Policy Topics for This Week

North Carolina:

The election is under thirty days away but the General Assembly is still in full swing with its interim committee meetings. Here is your list of meetings of interest for this week.

Mon, October 13, 2008

10:00 AM Child Fatality Taskforce - Unintentional Death Committee 1228/1327 LB

Tue, October 14, 2008
10:00 AM Education Oversight Committee, Joint Legislative 643 LOB
10:00 AM NC Study Commission on Aging Public Hearing - Lake Lure

Wed, October 15, 2008
9:00 AM Local Social Services Issues, Joint Study Committee on 421 LOB
9:00 AM Joint Legislative Education Oversight 643 LOB
2:00 PM Information Technology, Joint Select Committee on 421 LOB

Thu, October 16, 2008
10:00 AM Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse, Joint Legislative Oversight Committee 643 LOB

Thursday, October 2, 2008

North Carolina Disability History and Awareness Month

In North Carolina, October is Disability History and Awareness Month.  This month we will take a look at the many contributions that people with disabilities have made to our nation.  We will also be doing a new series of poll questions to test your Disability History aptitude.

National Disability Employment Awareness Month 2008-Presidential Proclamation

National Disability Employment Awareness Month, 2008
A Proclamation by the President of the United States of America

White House News
During National Disability Employment Awareness Month, we reaffirm our commitment to ensuring that our Nation's promise extends to all our citizens.

Millions of Americans live with disabilities, and many other Americans will become disabled at some point in their lives. To integrate people with disabilities more fully into every aspect of life, our country is working to advance greater freedoms at work, in schools, and throughout communities. By expanding employment opportunities and fighting false perceptions that hinder people living with disabilities from joining the workforce, we can uphold America's moral values, strengthen our economy, and make America a more hopeful place.

More than 7 years ago, my Administration announced the New Freedom Initiative, which expanded upon the landmark reforms of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Since then, the Initiative has increased access for people with disabilities through technology, provided additional educational opportunities for youth, and integrated more Americans into the workforce. My Administration remains committed to empowering all people to reach their full educational, social, and professional goals. To learn more about the Federal Government's disability-related programs, please visit

To recognize the contributions of Americans with disabilities and to encourage all citizens to ensure equal opportunity in the workforce, the Congress has designated October of each year (36 U.S.C. 121) as "National Disability Employment Awareness Month."

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim October 2008 as National Disability Employment Awareness Month. I call upon Government officials, labor leaders, employers, and the people of the United States to observe this month with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of October, in the year of our Lord two thousand eight, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-third.


# # #

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Breaking News: Senate Passes Bailout Bill

With a vote of 74 yes and 25 nayes the Senate has passed their version of the Bailout Bill.  The Senate version included several "sweeteners" including Mental Health Parity.
Why Mental Health Parity? The Senate needed to attach their bailout bill to an existing legislation and this pick is a good one.

Here are the "sweeteners" as presented by CNN News:

  • An increase in the amount that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation will insure in bank accounts: to $250,000, up from $100,000
  • A fix that would prevent middle-class taxpayers from paying the alternative minimum tax
  • A number of tax extensions favored by either Republicans or Democrats
  • Tax exemptions for renewable energy
  • A measure that would require health insurers to treat mental health issues the same way they treat physical illnesses
So how did the Senators from North Carolina vote?

Senator Dole voted No.  Senator Burr voted Yes.


Take Action!

Help us Block Cuts in Services for People with Developmental Disabilities

The Arc is asking for your help in making one last legislative push to address one of our most important unresolved issues before Congress adjourns for the election.

Yesterday, September 30, Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY) and five other senators introduced the Preserving Access to Healthcare (PATH) Act of 2008 (S. 3656). This bill would delay for six months cuts to Medicaid outpatient payments.


The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued the Proposed Outpatient Rule in September of 2007. This regulation would narrow the definition of outpatient hospital and clinic services and limit Medicaid reimbursement under the hospital outpatient benefit to only those services covered by Medicare.

Importing Medicare concepts into the Medicaid program does not recognize the inherent differences between programs, which serve very different populations. Some of these key differences and their resulting impact under the proposed regulation are summarized in the table below.


Medicare Coverage

Impact of Outpatient Rule on Medicaid

Day Treatment

Medicare does not pay for day programs for individuals with developmental disabilities.
Medicare does not pay for day treatment such as intensive psychiatric rehabilitation.
No funding for day treatment programs for persons with psychiatric or developmental disabilities.

Comprehensive primary care and ancillary services.

Medicare does not recognize clinics that provide comprehensive primary care and ancillary services. Therefore it reimburses them as if they were visits to private physicians.
No funding for some clinic services, such as lab and radiology services.

Select Services

Medicare does not pay at all for certain services such as vision, psychiatric and dental services
No funding for clinics that specialize in mental health services or services for individuals with developmental disabilities.

Take Action

Call your Senators TODAY. While time for legislative action is running short, there is still an opportunity to build support before Congress leaves for the election!

(Do not call the Capitol Switchboard - all circuits continue to be busy. Use your Senators' office numbers provided when you enter your zip code in the "Call Now" window).

Blind Advocates Protest Against the Movie "Blindness"

Hollywood is experiencing yet another protest against a new film release. "Blindness" a film about Blind people who are quarantined in a mental asylum is the second film of the year to be protested by disability rights activists.  
This film depicts people who are Blind in the worst of stereotypes, depicting people who have become recently Blind as "depraved and as monsters" stated Marc Mauerer-President of the National Federation of the Blind.  
Earlier this summer the movie "Tropical Thunder" depicted people with intellectual disabilities in a negative and demeaning manner.  This film was protested by people with developmental disabilities throughout the country.  The Arc of the United States and Special Olympics both released statements regarding the disrespectful and harmful use of the R-word and the hurtful characterization portrayed by actor Ben Stiller of a person with an intellectual disability.
These films cause serious issues for people with disabilities.  Media plays an integral role in our society and the constant barrage of negative imaging of people with disabilities creates real barriers to our communities full acceptance in society.  These films need to be held accountable for the messages that they are delivering. 

Associated Press Article: Blind Activists Plan Protest of Movie "Blindness"

Blind activists plan protest of movie 'Blindness'
By BEN NUCKOLS – 23 hours ago
BALTIMORE (AP) — Blind people quarantined in a mental asylum, attacking each other, soiling themselves, trading sex for food. For Marc Maurer, who's blind, such a scenario — as shown in the movie "Blindness" — is not a clever allegory for a breakdown in society.
Instead, it's an offensive and chilling depiction that Maurer fears could undermine efforts to integrate blind people into the mainstream.
"The movie portrays blind people as monsters, and I believe it to be a lie," said Maurer, president of the Baltimore-based National Federation of the Blind. "Blindness doesn't turn decent people into monsters."
The organization plans to protest the movie, released by Miramax Films, at 75 theaters around the country when it's released Friday. Blind people and their allies will hand out fliers and carry signs. Among the slogans: "I'm not an actor. But I play a blind person in real life."
The movie reinforces inaccurate stereotypes, including that the blind cannot care for themselves and are perpetually disoriented, according to the NFB.
"We face a 70 percent unemployment rate and other social problems because people don't think we can do anything, and this movie is not going to help — at all," said Christopher Danielsen, a spokesman for the organization.
"Blindness" director Fernando Meirelles, an Academy Award nominee for "City of God," was shooting on location Thursday and unavailable for comment, according to Miramax. The studio released a statement that read, in part, "We are saddened to learn that the National Federation of the Blind plans to protest the film `Blindness.'"
The NFB began planning the protests after seven staffers, including Danielsen, attended a screening of the movie in Baltimore last week. The group included three sighted employees.
"Everybody was offended," Danielsen said.
Based on the 1995 novel by Nobel Prize winner Jose Saramago, "Blindness" imagines a mysterious epidemic that causes people to see nothing but fuzzy white light — resulting in a collapse of the social order in an unnamed city. Julianne Moore stars as the wife of an eye doctor (Mark Ruffalo) who loses his sight; she feigns blindness to stay with her husband and eventually leads a revolt of the quarantined patients.
The book was praised for its use of blindness as a metaphor for the lack of clear communication and respect for human dignity in modern society.
Miramax said in its statement that Meirelles had "worked diligently to preserve the intent and resonance of the acclaimed book," which it described as "a courageous parable about the triumph of the human spirit when civilization breaks down."
Maurer will have none of it.
"I think that failing to understand each other is a significant problem," he said. "I think that portraying it as associated with blindness is just incorrect."
The protest will include pickets at theaters in at least 21 states, some with dozens of participants, timed to coincide with evening showtimes. Maurer said it would be the largest protest in the 68-year history of the NFB, which has 50,000 members and works to improve blind people's lives through advocacy, education and other ways.
The film was the opening-night entry at the Cannes Film Festival, where many critics were unimpressed.
After Cannes, Meirelles retooled the film, removing a voice-over that some critics felt spelled out its themes too explicitly.
Meirelles told The Associated Press at Cannes that the film draws parallels to such disasters as Hurricane Katrina, the global food shortage and the cyclone in Myanmar.
"There are different kinds of blindness. There's 2 billion people that are starving in the world," Meirelles said. "This is happening. It doesn't need a catastrophe. It's happening, and because there isn't an event like Katrina, we don't see."