Archive for August, 2010

Report on the U.S./Costa Rica Cross-Cultural Disability Rights Leadership Program

Sunday, August 29th, 2010

Below is a report from Kathryn Carroll on a disability rights exchange program she participated in this summer in Costa Rica. The program is open to students 25 and under in case anyone is interested in participating next year.

“So Much Time and So Little To Do… Wait a Minute, Strike That, Reverse It”:

U.S./Costa Rica Cross-Cultural Disability Rights Leadership Exchange Program

by Kathryn Carroll

Whenever people ask me what I did in Costa Rica for two weeks this June, I have trouble describing it in ten words or less. (The name of the program itself was eleven words long.) The activities and learning experiences I had during the exchange program helped me develop as a person, promoted disability awareness, and bolstered disability rights activism. It was also one of the most chock-full two weeks I’ve ever had.

The program fulfilled a multitude of functions that have manifested themselves in my life. I was able to learn about a new culture through my gracious hosts. The other delegates and I enjoyed experimenting with new foods while also studying basic Spanish, American Sign Language and Costa Rican Sign Language. Each delegate had an experience with disability, which allowed me to connect instantly with others and share experiences. As delegates, we visited organizations which focused on different aspects and types of disability. Thus, I was able to become more knowledgeable about pan-disability issues and experience. Just the other day, for example, I used some of this knowledge when a person who is deaf started a conversation with me and I had no problem transitioning into a conversation using an interpreter. Each delegate in the program was from the vicinity of New York City. We formed strong friendships that likely won’t be forgotten as we return to our lives in New York. The connections we made will serve the purpose of disability activism in New York and elsewhere. In fact, these connections are already serving this purpose.  Recently, I met up with two other delegates in Chicago to attend the Disability Pride Parade where I got to meet local activists and learn from them. Finally, through site visits and other activities, the other delegates and I were all able to gain an understanding of disability rights in Costa Rica. While meeting wonderful people from abroad, we asked questions of the leaders of disability organizations, government agencies, educational institutions, and medical institutions. We were also asked questions in return. Even though Costa Ricans referred to their own country as part of the “third world,” the attitude towards disability of many of the people whom we met along our journey places them squarely in the “first world.” There was a marked desire to see change for more inclusion. Costa Rica’s peaceful history and growing economy have given it the chance to work on disability rights. The country has laws that demand inclusion of people with disabilities much like the United States, but there is still much work to be done.

This exchange program gave me more than I could possibly relate here. While providing a doorway to a new culture, it fostered networking and friendship opportunities with some amazing people. I hope this program encourages others to study abroad, learn about disability rights and be active participants of their world.

Report from the NCD Summit 2010

Sunday, August 29th, 2010

Below is a report from the National Council on Disability Summit 2010 by NALSWD member Kathryn Carroll and Anmol Bhatia, a graduate student at University of Arkansas at Little Rock, both of whom attended the summit.

Report from the NCD Summit 2010

By Anmol Bhatia and Kathryn Carroll

From July 25-28, 450 consumers with disabilities, disability community stakeholders and representatives from Congress and federal agencies gathered in Washington to provide recommendations for disability policy for the next decade and beyond. The event was coordinated by the National Council on Disability (NCD), a federal agency composed of fifteen members who provide advice to the President, Congress and executive branch agencies with the task of promoting “policies, programs, practices and procedures that guarantee equal opportunity for all individuals with disabilities” (NCD website).

The theme of the Summit, “Living, Learning and Earning,” was designed to launch a national dialogue on disability policies and programs in the 21st century. The summit also celebrated the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act. A few lucky participants were able to visit the White House to witness President Obama sign an executive order stating that the United States Federal Government will be a model employer in hiring people with disabilities. Anmol was one of the lucky few; “It was really exciting to be at the South Lawn, the very place where the ADA was signed into law 20 years earlier.”

At the summit, participants engaged in dialogue and roundtable discussions to identify emerging opportunities to improve the coordination of disability policies, programs, and advocacy efforts as well as to energize collaborative networks to guide future disability policy. According to Jonathan Young, the Chairman of the NCD, the summit theme “emerged from my resolute belief that our greatest challenge in disability policy involves coordination across many silos – congressional committees of jurisdiction; federal agencies; and all levels of government. Rather than discuss separate policy ‘tracks’ as NCD has done in the past [housing, telecommunications, transportation, education, etc.], I am committed to integrating the silos to meet the real-life challenges of living, learning, and earning.”

Beneath the surface of these challenges, attitudinal change towards disability is taking place, and using the right language is crucial. One speaker explained it this way, quoting Mark Twain; “The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter. It’s the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” Another recurring theme was that people need to be able to govern their own lives and make their own choices. On this subject, Mazen Basrawi, Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights at the Department of Justice, said “We need to give people the maximum choice possible so they can reach their maximum dream possible.”

As participants in the Summit, we found the discussion interesting and the atmosphere open to suggestions from all participants. The eager participation of stakeholders in the plenary sessions was very encouraging. At one instance, a prominent Conservative rabbi asked the National Council for guidance on how to prepare religious centers for the possibility of people with disabilities seeking refuge there during disasters. Making emergencies preparedness cognizant of people with disabilities is policy goal for the future as well, and community participation is welcomed by the Council. Kathryn, as a new law student, felt that her input might not be regarded as important at the lunch roundtable. Nevertheless, when she was invited to share her opinions about the greatest challenges facing young people with disabilities, she found her co-participants taking notes. As a person who has traveled abroad several times, Kathryn also appreciated the speech given by Susan Sygall, the CEO of Mobility International USA, an organization that arranges international exchanges for disabled students and professionals. Anmol feels that the opportunities MIUSA is providing will give Americans an appreciation for how fortunate people in the United States really are. “Living in India, I have witnessed the challenges a blind person faces… it is really beneficial for Americans to experience the way life is for disabled individuals outside the United States.”

The goal of NCD was to continue a national dialogue started at the summit. To this end, the NCD has launched a Facebook page ( which will allow those who were not able to participate to provide input on the same questions posed to the participants and continue the dialogue. According to Mr. Young, “this Summit is an important milestone, but only one step in a process that will continue after the summit.” As participants of the summit, we encourage you to take advantage of the Facebook page and provide your personal input. The event was an excellent start for dialogue on an important topic, but the work continues and much more must be done.

National Council on Disability Website:

Disability-Friendly Dorms at U. Illinois

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

U. of I. Opens User-Friendly Dorm for Students with Disabilities

The University of Illinois writes a new syllabus for standards in student housing.

Nugent Hall opened this week, marking a new milestone in the university’s commitment to students with disabilities.

The dorm houses Beckwith-supported residents with physical disabilities on the first floor. The suite-style rooms include a remote control ceiling lift designed to transfer a student from bed to an in-room bathroom. It’s the first dorm in the country to make the technology a standard feature, according to the Daily Illini.

Each room also includes programmable controls for lights, temperature and window blinds, as well as emergency power outlets in the case of a power outage.

About 150 students without disabilities will live on the other floors, with that number expected to expand to about 500 students when the residence hall is completed in two years.

Nugent Hall is the first new dorm on the Champaign campus in more than 40 years. It’s construction comes at a time when the University is raising tuition by 9.5-percent for incoming freshman for the 2010-2011 school year.

Nugent Hall is named in honor of Tim Nugent. Nugent founded the Division of Resources and Educational Services in 1948.

DOJ Outreach for Job Seekers with Disabilites

Saturday, August 21st, 2010

Attorney General Eric Holder has announced a series of outreach efforts that the Department of Justice is undertaking to increase the number of job applicants with disabilities at the agency. The following press release is obviously great news for everyone on the job hunt and, though a bit long, is packed with potentially useful info.


This is Ollie Cantos, Member of the Attorney General’s Committee on the Employment of Persons with Disabilities, sending this email under the authorization of Chairman Fred Parmenter.

On July 20, 2009, we issued a comprehensive email, containing numerous resources to help arm students and job-seekers with disabilities as they endeavor to work here at the U.S. Department of Justice either as employees or interns.  It was in response to the memorandum issued by Attorney General Eric Holder on May 27, 2009, calling for increased hiring of persons with disabilities throughout the Department.  Since that time, numerous people have contacted the Committee; and, we continue to work with each of them to secure opportunities to join in our Department’s noteworthy work.

Concurrent with all of this, Attorney General Holder has created a Diversity Council, composed of component principals and specifically charged with the task of increasing the richness of talent and ability of qualified men and women from diverse backgrounds within the Department’s career civil service personnel.  Of significance here, this specifically included persons with disabilities.  This Council, which reports directly to Attorney General Holder, is headed by the Associate Attorney General, and the Council’s Executive Director is Channing Phillips, Deputy Associate Attorney General, a new and permanent position created by the Attorney General to work on a continual basis to advance diversity and full inclusion throughout every Department component.  Further, the Attorney General felt that employment of additional qualified persons with disabilities throughout the Department was so important that, on July 21, 2010, at the event aptly named Justice For All, held on Capitol Hill and hosted by the American Association of People with Disabilities, he announced the creation of the post of Special Assistant for Disability Resources, who is to work on a full-time basis to advance the disability-related goals of the Diversity Council and who reports directly to Deputy Associate Attorney General Phillips (see

On July 26, 2010, at a White House event that celebrated the 20th anniversary of the signing of the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act into law, President Barack Obama issued an Executive Order, renewing the commitment originally made by President Bill Clinton to hire an additional 100,000 persons with disabilities into Federal Government ranks (see  This serves to bolster the work of the Department even further, building upon our being the first Cabinet-level agency in this Administration to call for increased hiring of qualified persons with disabilities.

Today, we renew the call for all students and job-seekers with disabilities to consider our Department as their preferred place of work.  We need attorneys and non-attorneys to apply for positions for which they are qualified and in which they are interested.  We also ask that such individuals who choose to self-identify disability on a voluntary basis contact the Attorney General’s Committee by calling (202) 616-3030 [voice/relay/VRS] in order to receive supplementary instructions on how to ensure that their applications be given additional consideration.  The Committee will work individually with applicants with self-identified disabilities.  Those wishing to reach the Committee by email should send inquiries to me at with the subject line “Interest in Working at DOJ.”

On another front, the Committee is actively continuing to build a resume bank to which disability program managers and hiring managers may refer when proactively seeking candidates with disabilities to fill existing and pending vacancies.  The Committee is also actively lending support to fellow federal agencies by sharing information, processes, and work product as a way to promote enhanced government-wide effectiveness as we all come together in a unified way to carry out the President’s Executive Order.

We want you to be among our latest success stories, so please do not delay in getting in touch with us.  We are eager to be of support.  In order to provide the kind of substantive materials that will meaningfully assist you as you move forward, we are including four attachments.  The first is an accessible PDF version of the Attorney General’s memorandum dated May 27, 2009, which was described above.  The second is a comprehensive article that provides dozens of employment-related resources that may assist students and job-seekers with disabilities and their advocates in learning about opportunities for refining their focus with career goals, finding and securing internships in all sectors, and going to or returning to work in the non-profit, for-profit, and governmental sectors.  Third, you will find general information about the process for becoming a federal employee as put together by the Partnership for Public Service (also see Here, you will learn key information, including what to expect at every stage of the selection process and what should be included in a “federal resume” which is, by nature, different from what is typically submitted when seeking employment in the private sector.  Though this publication is geared toward students, the information would also be of interest to others as well.  Finally, for those interested in serving as part of the Department’s Bureau of Prisons (BOP), we are including important reference information.

Supplementing all of this, below, you will find details about attorney and non-attorney job vacancies within the Justice Department.  Since these webpages are updated regularly, it is strongly advisable to bookmark these for future and ongoing reference.  To learn about the areas of law practiced by each Department component, visit:

Whether you are a person with a disability or are networked with such individuals, please forward this email far and wide in order to maximize opportunities for people with disabilities to become an integral part of our Justice Department team by filling jobs for which they are individually qualified.  Please spread this information to your email network; post it on websites; include this in organizational publications; share these resources via Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter; and otherwise do all that you can to help us infuse this Department with more people with disabilities than have ever worked here before!

As I have spoken with members of the disability constituency who have come to us with the desire of joining our Justice Department family, some who felt a level of despair have said that they are on the verge of giving up entirely.  They essentially have felt like saying, “Why bother?  It’s no use.”  To such individuals, we ask them not to give up hope.  Our Department is actively seeking talent from a wide variety of sources, including from among the disability community.  Now, more than ever, is the time to buckle down, to put your best forward, and to move ahead with an eager anticipation for what the future holds.  One person even recently said to me, “Ollie, it’s tough in this economy to find a job even generally, much less if you have a disability.”  My answer, “In THIS economy, especially in light of how we are looking for great talent and as the affirmative employment of people with disabilities is supported at the very highest levels, now is PRECISELY the time to shine.  The tough economic climate demands the kind of talents and abilities that are an integral part of who you are, therefore placing you in a rather unique position to pitch what you have to offer in adding value to our work.”  Read what we are about at and, as you find vacancies that match what you may contribute, give us a call.

Thank you for all your help in getting the word out.  Your efforts will most definitely make a real difference in people’s lives.

Supplementing this announcement, for information about “Schedule A” Hiring Authority, found at 5 C.F.R. §213.310(u), which proactively facilitates expeditious hiring of individuals with disabilities into the Federal Government at all levels, it is important to download, read, and distribute important publications that have been put together by the Leading in the Employment of Americans with Disabilities (LEAD) Initiative of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.  These brief but powerful educational materials are individually geared toward Federal Government hiring managers, human resources professionals, and disability program managers as well as service providers and job applicants with disabilities themselves.  These are found on a page of the Job Accommodation Network at:

In addition, the Federal Disability Workforce Consortium, a dedicated cadre of agency representatives from throughout the Federal Government, stands ready to be of assistance as well.  For further information and details, Visit:

Best of luck to all those who are endeavoring to secure opportunities for gainful employment!



Department of Justice agencies post vacancy announcements directly on the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s USAJobs Web site where you can search by location, job series, or DOJ agency. This link goes to current Department of Justice vacancies:

Here are some additional important links:

Opportunities for Law Students

Attorney Vacancies

Apply for a Job at the FBI

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives –Vacancy Announcements

Civil Division

Civil Rights Division

Criminal Division

Environmental and Natural Resources Division

Executive Office for United States Attorneys

National Security Division

Office of the Inspector General

Office of Justice Programs

Tax Division

U.S. Trustees

Job-seekers may Become a My USAJobs Member to post and create a resume, apply to Federal Government jobs, and receive automated job alerts via the Office of Personnel Management’s USAJobs site.  See:

Note:  Where agencies offer electronic submission of job applications, job-seekers may submit their resume electronically. Where electronic submission is not offered, they may use this site to create a resume, and mail it to the address listed in the vacancy announcement.

Connecticut Adopts New Rules for Questioning Bar Applicants with Mental Disabilties

Saturday, August 21st, 2010

This June, Connecticut, known for its invasive approach to questioning candidates for bar admission about their mental disabilities, adopted new rules in attempt to narrow the scope of permitted inquiries in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.  See article below from the Connecticut Law Tribune.

Scholarship to Attend the CCB Convention in San Diego

Saturday, August 21st, 2010

The Blind Students of California (BSC) is offering a scholarship to help defray the costs of attending this fall’s CCB convention in San Diego. The deadline to apply is September 15th. See the press release below from BSC.

Do you want to attend the fall CCB convention in San Diego, but money
is a little short? You may be in luck. Blind Students of California
(BSC) is offering one $100 stipend to attend the CCB fall convention.
Qualified applicants should be current students, legally blind, and
first time CCB convention attendees. You must also not be a
scholarship winner, or a chapter delegate for the fall. The BSC board
asks that you attend both the BSC program and the CCB banquet. We also
encourage you to attend all CCB general sessions. After the
convention, we ask that you write a short article for the Blind
Californian about your experience at the convention, in consultation
with the BSC president. Qualified candidates will participate in a
short telephone interview with the BSC officers. The application
deadline is September 15. If you are interested, please submit an
accessible document (a text file or Word 2003 document), to
You should include your name, address, phone
number, e-mail address, school, and major. In addition, please submit
a short essay about why you think BSC should award you the $100
stipend to attend the convention.

DREDF Fellowship

Friday, August 6th, 2010

Great fellowship opportunity for rising 3Ls interested in disability rights. The application deadline is August 15. See announcement below for full details…

DREDF Fellowship Sponsorship Announcement

Seeking Collaboration on Access to Health Care Project Proposals

August 2010

The Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, Inc. (DREDF), seeks candidates for collaboration on Skadden Fellow and Equal Justice Works Fellow applications for the two year period beginning in September 2011.  If awarded, such fellowships offer recent law graduates the opportunity to obtain training in litigation as well as many other aspects of a public interest practice.  DREDF works with prospective fellows to develop projects that address disability civil rights law issues, and has been successful in obtaining past fellowship awards.

Founded in 1979 by persons with disabilities and parents of children with disabilities, DREDF is a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the civil rights of individuals with disabilities through legislation, litigation, informal and formal advocacy, and education & training of lawyers, advocates, and clients with respect to disability issues.  Since 1988, DREDF has taught disability rights courses at Bay Area law schools, and works regularly with law student interns.

DREDF seeks to sponsor a candidate to work on disability civil rights issues in the context of access to health care.  Applicants are encouraged to propose and discuss ideas in this area.  Criteria for sponsorship include the following:

  • Demonstrated commitment to public interest law
  • Established knowledge of and interest in civil rights laws
  • The ability to work independently and cordially with others
  • Strong academic performance; excellent legal research and writing skills

Applications invited on or before August 15, 2010.  Individuals with disabilities, minority and women candidates are especially encouraged to apply.  Please prepare a detailed cover letter describing your interest in DREDF and the Fellowship.  Send it along with your resume, transcript, list of three references, and a writing sample to:

Attn: Law Student Fellowships


2212 6th Street

Berkeley, CA  94710


Disability Rights Fellowship at Brown, Goldstein & Levy

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

Brown, Goldstein & Levy is accepting applications for its disability rights fellowship, geared toward recent law grads and/or judicial clerks with disabilities. See the announcement below.

Greetings everyone:

In September 2009, Brown, Goldstein & Levy, LLP welcomed its first Disability Rights Fellow.  We are now accepting applications for our third annual Disability Rights Fellowship to begin in September 2011. The Fellowship offers a recent law school graduate or judicial clerk with a disability the opportunity to participate for a year in all phases of disability rights litigation at our firm in Baltimore, Maryland. Brown, Goldstein & Levy is a 14-lawyer law firm devoted principally to litigation. The firm has developed a national reputation for its high-profile, high-impact disability rights cases.  The one-year fellowship will begin in September 2011. The application deadline is November 15, 2010.   Please visit our website for additional details about the fellowship and the firm and to download an application:

Please feel free to pass this information along to individuals who you believe would be interested in a great opportunity to both gain experience and put their knowledge and drive to good use.



Gregory P. Care, Esquire

Brown, Goldstein & Levy, LLP

120 E. Baltimore Street

Suite 1700

Baltimore, Maryland 21202

Phone:  410-962-1030 ext. 1316

Fax:  410-385-0869