#DIW Episode 1 – #IDEA Requirements and Results-Driven Accountability

Day in Washington Episode 1 – IDEA Requirements and Results-Driven Accountability. This Disability Policy Video-cast will explore and discuss subjects of interest to the disability community. Each episode will cover a specific issue within disability, spotlight specific bills or regulations and/or a disability-related news article.

This episode highlights the U.S. Department of Education’s change in IDEA requirements from a compliance focus to an emphasis on outcomes referred to as Results-Driven Accountability. Please comment and subscribe to see new videos and disability news!

The main video is posted as a part of the Lead On Update but I hope to repost here and include my original text/transcript in the comments. Thanks for watching!

The New Day in Washington

DayinWashingtonLogoYes, Day in Washington is back.  I hadn’t quite anticipated this but it seems there is still a need for policy and legislative analysis on disability issues.  :) However, there are a few changes.  Day in Washington is now part of the Lead On Network.  From their website:

The Lead On Network works to share the knowledge, expertise and resources that are necessary to promote individual leadership and engagement that can foster a society that is inclusive of individuals with disabilities.

We support and promote projects and programs that are designed and developed with disability as a core component but that address broader issues around justice and equality regardless of race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation status or ability.

In addition, we provide information, educational opportunities, training, technical assistance, social media support, and consulting services to individuals, organizations, public and private sector entities.

The Lead On Update is our flagship resource, providing an aggregation of significant disability-related news and media articles as well as original content, articles, and video programming. Published weekly, the Update is a one-stop shop to learn what is happening in the disability community.

Also, we’re moving to video! Day in Washington will now be available on Youtube.  Exciting things are ahead.


Day Al-Mohamed

PS And yes, we DO have a new logo too.


Day in Washington is Closed

Just a quick note to folks that because of many other commitments both work-based and personal, it has become necessary to close Day in Washington.  It isn’t fair to you to have the site continue along without regular updates.  The archives will continue to be available and it is my sincere hope to one day be able to bring back the site to what it was intended to be – a weekly update (and podcast) of all things disability policy and politics.  Thank you for sharing the journey with me.


Day Al-Mohamed

I Wish You Were Dead – The 2013 National Disability Day of Mourning

Remember Lives Taken - 2013 National Disability Day of Mourning

“I wish you were dead.”

It is a terrible thing to say or even think to another human being.  Imagine it being said to a young person with a disability.  Now imagine someone following through on that threat.  Now imagine them receiving no condemnation for the action.  That was the case of George Hodgins, a 22-year-old autistic man from California.  He loved hiking, and walking through shopping malls, and stopping at the Disney Store.  And in 2012, he was shot to death by the person who should have loved him the most – his own mother.

“I wish you were dead.”

George Hodgins’s death inspired the first vigil.  As stated by Zoe Gross at the time, George’s story was discussed and presented as the story of a mother who snapped under the pressure of caring for her son, and the story of other parents who felt the same way. It became a story about a lack of services for families with special-needs children, as though a lack of services is a justification for murder.  It became about them and George was “erased from his own murder.”

“I wish you were dead.”

On March 1, 2013, the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network, Not Dead Yet, and the National Council on Independent Living held the second annual National Disability Day of Mourning to remember people with disabilities who had lost their lives at the hands of their family members or caregivers.  Disability is either inspirational or a soul-crushing burden, and those with disabilities are either world champions, or helpless, hopeless millstones.  There is nothing in between.  And the killing of people with disabilities is euthanasia, merciful, and understandable. The heartbreak is that this Day of Mourning is needed to remind the world that people with disabilities’ lives have value.

“I wish you were dead.”

No one should ever have to hear that.  No one, in their last moments in this world, should ever have to suffer such a betrayal.  And no one should be erased. For these people with disabilities, the tragedy wasn’t their life, but their death.  All their future promise and love stolen from the world. Forever.


This essay is cross-posted at the Lead On Update.

Women in Combat Today, People with Disabilities in the Military Tomorrow?

The following article was originally written for the Lead On Update.

Recently, Leon Panetta, Secretary of Defense, lifted the ban on women in combat. Women would be allowed equal opportunity to participate in combat operations. There have been a variety of responses from the public, but I think that in general most people are generally in favor of the change. And to be fully honest, it wasn’t like this was not happening already. There are women medics, women Military Police (MPs)), women helicopter pilots and women in other positions who, while not officially part of combat units are “attached” to such units or operating under the same or similar conditions. To ignore that reality is to denigrate their risks and their sacrifices.

But this leads me to the next question. If we are allowing women in to combat, when will we allow people with disabilities to serve? The idea may sound laughable to some in the general public but the call to serve is just as strong among people with disabilities as any other community. Keith Nolan, a young man who is deaf who also happened to be a top performer in the California State University ROTC program said, “All I really want to do is join the Army. I want to do my duty, serve my country and experience that camaraderie, and I can’t, owed to the fact that I’m deaf.” And he isn’t alone. There’s even a Facebook Page for people with disabilities who want to join the military.

Even considering all of that, the reality is, just as the case with women, we already have people with disabilities in the military, and some even in war zones. Some are individuals with learning disabilities, some with mental health conditions, or attention deficit disorder, or autism; I even know of a naval officer, recently retired, with cerebral palsy and 20 years of service.

The Army’s Continue on Active Duty (COAD) program is putting military men with clear, visible disabilities back into combat, and retaining and retraining others for other forms of active duty. As of June last year, sixty-nine amputees have returned to active duty. Also of note, Fort Belvoir, Virginia, a 100-year old, 47,000-man (and woman) garrison is now commanded by Colonel Gregory D. Gadson. Colonel Gadson is a double-amputee. At a ceremony where Gadson was presented with command of the garrison by Lieutenant General Michael Ferriter from Army Installation Management Command, Ferriter said, “He [Gadson] has shown that it isn’t about what you cannot do, it’s about what you can do. He’s able to lead and get right to things that need to happen.”

If that is the case, then qualified people with disabilities should be allowed to enlist in the military and operate in active non-combat duty roles. I add the caveat of qualified in recognition of the responsibilities and selective criteria that may be necessary for certain jobs and positions. This shouldn’t be a heavy lift. In fact, when considering how to do this on a large scale, there is precedent. In 2011, the Israeli Defense Forces were creating an official policy of integrating people who are disabled prior to military service into the armed forces.

People with disabilities, given the examples above, and just as women, are “already there.” They are serving in the offices and on the ships; in the medical tents and out in the trenches. The Army (and indeed the other branches) want to keep their investment in these soldiers; the disability isn’t a barrier, at least not compared to the skills and value these individuals bring. Imagine what additional skills and talents would be available to the United States Armed Forces if they had access to the 50 million Americans with disabilities.