The Declaration!   MCIL: Action and Advocacy

 The newsletter of the Memphis Center for Independent Living  

April 2016

5th Annual Fish Fry Fundraiser
Benefiting The Peer Outreach Program (POP)

Friday, April 8, 2016  
from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm at   The Memphis Center for  Independent Living
1633 Madison Ave. Memphis, TN 38104

Catfish fillets, spaghetti, coleslaw, French fries, dessert and sodaFish Fry text graphic with a styalized fishAll for $10 per plate

  Donation is tax deductible


For more information or pre-orders ready for pick-up, please contact 901-726-6404, ext. 108

Get Out in the Community!

Being part of the community

is worth the struggle                             by Louis Patrick

My wheelchair is five years old, so, theoretically, Medicare would approve my getting a new one. I talked to the company I’ve been dealing with for several years, and we agreed on the specifications for a new chair. I should have known things are never so easy. I got a call last week from someone in the company telling me that Blue Cross had turned me down. They needed more infor mation—preferably medical, of course. He said the company would re-file.

It’s been my experience that it’s not wise to leave such matters unattended. I called BC/BS’s “customer service” line and asked to speak to someone in the group who had denied my claim.  The sweet young rep explained that she couldn’t do that; they had different phones. She looked up my records and told me that, yes, my claim had been denied, they didn’t have enough information to establish that I needed an ultra-light chair, but that I had the right to “appeal.” They had not received an appeal from the company yet. She called them and found out they had not have received the denial by mail yet; she would fax it to them. If I liked, she could fax or mail the appeal application to me, but, no, they aren’t allowed to use email.

Now, first thing, I’m 68 years old, as is my wife. Silly me, that alone seems like reason enough; nobody my age should have to lift a tank of a wheelchair. I didn’t think to tell the rep that, however. I did tell her that I’m very active; I’m out and about very often through the week. I drive and need to be able to get my chair in and out of the car easily. Also, my wife needs to be able to get the chair in and out of the trunk when she and I are riding together. And I reminded her that being active in the community, dealing with other people, is a well proven tonic for health. Staying bottled up at home alone is a killer.

Insurance companies are great believers in Nancy Reagan’s philosophy: “Just say no.” Whenever possible, deny claims. Adjudicate. Wrap up the claim in red tape. Many, if not most, people will simply accept the denial. I was at the Center talking about this with a good friend. She had just been denied payment on a feature that reclines the chair, taking pressure off the tush. She was told she was eligible for a “Group 2” chair but not a “Group 3” chair. Again, to be active in the community for several hours the reclining feature is very helpful—and healthful.

I’ve also heard before that Medicare was clamping down on heavy duty wheelchairs unless needed IN the home. This is a straight-forward matter of health: Get out of the house! Get out in the community! It’s better for you.

Never take no for an answer. Fight for the equipment you need to stay active.

Louis Patrick is on the Board of MCIL.

What is a “Significant” Disability?
MCIL’s response to the Administration for Community Living concerning “significant”

By Christina Clift
In discussing people with disabilities and the role of centers for Independent Living, the word “significant” when used to describe the people served or who should be on staff should be taken out of any future rules. The word “significant” implies that there is a hierarchy or value placed on types of disabilities. Does that mean a person who cannot see is less disabled than someone who cannot walk? Is someone who cannot walk more disabled than someone with an intellectual disability? The answer should be no. A person with a disability regardless of the nature of the disability faces the same discrimination and barriers. So why put more of a label on them than their diagnosis already does?

Even within disability categories that way in which they manifest is different for every person. Some people with Cerebral Palsy can walk, talk without difficulty and have normal vision. Should one person with Cerebral Palsy be more “significant” than another just because the CP manifests in more ways?

The language should reflect that we are people with disabilities and we are equally valued and should receive equal service Not that some of us are less or more valued just because of our diagnosis’s. A simple definition of disability is that a person has a body part that works differently, but that doesn’t mean we wanted to be looked at as a “special” or “significant” class of people.

CIL’s fight for equality, equal access and to knock down barriers that society has regarding people with disabilities. We don’t need to add to our struggle by continuing the use of”significant” when talking about our people and disability.

Fair Housing for People with Disabilities

Memphis Fair Housing Center Offers Help

The 1988 Fair Housing Amendments Act extends the civil rights protection of the Fair Housing Act to people with disabilities much like the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act. To further our mission to fully integrate people with disabilities, MCIL worked with the Urban Institute on a national study that was published last June on “Discrimination in the Rental Housing Market Against People Who are Deaf and People Who Use Wheelchairs.”

The study found:

  • Providers are less likely to respond to homeseekers who are deaf or hard of hearing.

  • People who use wheelchairs are more likely to be denied appointments to view rental housing.

  • People who use wheelchairs are less likely to be told about or shown units that are suitable.

  • Housing providers fail to provide a clear response or explicitly deny a quarter of the homeseekers who request a reasonable modification.

MCIL was proud to take part in this national survey but it is most important that you take action if you feel you have been discriminated against. It is illegal to deny housing to a person because of a disability or creating different terms and conditions for a person with a disability. The 1988 Fair Housing Amendments Act requires renters to make some reasonable modifications for people with disabilities and renters must make reasonable accommodations to policies and practices.  

People with disabilities do face discrimination and you may need help with determining if you are protected, what is illegal and what the law requires. The Memphis Fair Housing Center offers assistance for free each month at the Benjamin Hooks Main Public Library. Each third Tuesday of the month at 3030 Poplar you can meet with an attorney from the Memphis Fair Housing Center.

The Memphis Fair housing Center investigates complaints of discrimination because of a mental or physical disability. You may contact the Memphis Fair Housing Center at: 901-432-4663. MFHC is open Monday through Friday, from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm.

Peer Support at MCIL
MCIL puts peer support and information on the road

Janice Craven

By Janice Craven,

MCIL Independent Living Team

Since coming to MCIL full-time in February 2014, I have had the opportunity to be involved in 2 very exciting projects. Previously, I was the Assistant Director of a Pre-School for 16 years, so working at MCIL was a new and exciting challenge for me.

The Peer-To-Peer Mentoring Project is funded by TennCare as part of the federal Money Follows the Person program.  The purpose of Peer-To-Peer is to Transition CHOICES Members out of Nursing Facilities and into the Community. Peer mentors, who also have a disability, work with the members pre- and post-transition to assist them in learning or brushing up on “survival skills” they will need to live in their own home.

Members are required to complete the CHOICES training and may also choose to learn more about Budgeting Your Money, Housing 101, Organizing and Prioritizing Your Life, Managing Your Supports, How To Be Your Own Best Advocate and Stress Management. In keeping with Independent Living philosophy of “nothing about us without us,” peer mentors are trained to be a trustworthy friend to walk the path to Independence alongside the Member.

Members are expected to actively participate in making decisions about how they want to live and work with the Mentor to make their dream of living independently come true!

In September 2014, MCIL ON THE ROAD began what we thought was going to be rather daunting task of doing outreach into the under-served areas of Millington and Tipton County. There are many people in these areas who have a wide range of disabilities but minimal resources available to meet their needs. There is little or no knowledge of the few supports in place and often no transportation available to use the services.

The time I have spent “on the road” has flown by and no doubt there is much work yet to be done. In the coming months, MCIL will continue to work toward helping the residents in these close-knit, often forgotten areas to acquire and develop the skills needed to live where and how they wish. MCIL ON THE ROAD has been met with great enthusiasm and support from many organizations in Millington and Tipton County.  We look forward to establishing more relationships with those who share our dream of inclusion in all aspects of Community Life for people who have any type of disability.

I recently attended a meeting with others who work primarily with people who have a disability. At the conclusion, the facilitator stated that what we are doing if not a JOB but rather a CALLING. I can honestly say this is how I’ve felt from the first day I had the privilege of becoming a member of the MCIL team.


Analysis of the MCIL Federal Report
Each year MCIL submits a federal “704 report”

By Tim Wheat

The Memphis Center for Independent Living’s federal 704 Report does not have a wide reach outside our federal funders and state network, but it can say a lot about our Center. Following is my analysis of the major areas in the 704 report.

Subpart A deals with Administrative data and is a breakdown of where the money comes from. This reporting year the MCIL overall income is down .06% from the 2014 total. This fall is mostly due to the end of the Urban Institute survey. The donations total is also down, but revenue from other resources is up.

The Total Income graph shows a .06% fall from 2014 this year. MCIL income grew from 2012 to 2014.

The Total Income graph shows a .06% fall from 2014 this year. MCIL income grew from 2012 to 2014.

MCIL will report an overall drop in consumers this year in the federal report. From a high of 394 in 2013 to 360 last year and 309 for this reporting period.

However; over this same period of time, MCIL has shown a steady rise in New Consumers served in the reporting period and a decline in “carry over” consumers from year-to-year.

Looking back at the past 704 reports shows that MCIL has progressively improved the number of consumers closed with completed goals.

The decline in “carryover consumers” is a healthy decline. It shows that staff are beginning a Consumer Service Record (CSR) with a consumer and assisting them followed by closing the CSR. Some of our CSRs go back a long way, but the staff is working to only keep open records on people who are actively working on a goal.

Looking back at the past 704 reports shows that MCIL has progressively improved the number of consumers closed with completed goals.MCIL is reporting a .05% decline in Information and Referral over the past year and only 209 fewer than 2012.

MCIL is reporting a .05% decline in Information and Referral over the past year and only 209 fewer than 2012. This mild decrease may be a result of updated address list.

Looking at just this year’s report, the 704 can provide a snapshot MCIL consumers. This year’s report shows a steady increase from our outreach efforts and an increase in the number of people served that do not fall into the major demographics of African American and Caucasian.The pie chart shows 76.4% African American; 19.7% Caucasian; 1.3% Hispanic/Latino; 0.32% Asian.

The pie chart shows 76.4% African American; 19.7% Caucasian; 1.3% Hispanic/Latino; 0.32% Asian. The 2012 report showed 98% of MCIL consumers were in the two major demographics, this year African American and Caucasian consumers make up 96% of the consumers.

Likewise, this reporting period shows that MCIL served a variety of people with disabilities. The largest category served was physical disability, 40%. Multiple disabilities includes consumers who state more than one disability and could include any combination of types of disabilities. More than one quarter of MCIL consumers reported multiple disabilities. Vision with nearly 14%, cognitive at 11% and the other categories had less than 10%.

40% had physical disabilities, vision with nearly 14%, cognitive at 11% and the other categories had less than 10%.

Our 704 report will also show that MCIL serves mostly people who live in Shelby County. Our outreach has been successful, and MCIL will report we serve people with disabilities from De Soto and Marshall Counties in Mississippi; Crittenden County in Arkansas as well as Tipton and Fayette Counties in Tennessee.

Read the Federal MCIL "704" Report

Overton Park Planning for Accessibility
Overton Park planning is not just about parking, MCIL demands access

By Tim Wheat

Most of the 250 people at the First Baptist Church on Broad Street were interested in Memphis Zoo parking and vehicle parking on the Overton Park Greensward. However; the company hired by the Overton Park Conservancy is also planning upgrades in accessibility to be part of the overall plan at Overton Park.

Steve Auterman, a senior associate at the architecture firm Looney, Ricks, Kiss pointed to an essential part of the framework for any changes in the park. Like complying with Code Enforcement, Auterman said that any solution also had a “duty of care to the public” who use the park. Part of this duty is compliance with the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act.

“We have pushed off compliance to the ADA for a time in the Park,” Auterman said showing two slides with people using wheelchairs. “There are no accessible curb ramps. When I say the park must be accessible to everyone, I mean everyone .”

The balance of the public meeting was laying out parking solutions, but I felt it was clear that MCIL’s participation in the focus group and our request that inclusion of people with disabilities be a guiding principle for all renovations, and to remedy existing access issues in the park, was clearly heard by the planning group.

“This is not a park for all users,” said Steve Auterman said at the February 2 meeting at the Brooks Museum of Art.  “If you use a wheelchair there are areas you cannot go.”

MCIL is determined to follow this process and work to include you in our advocacy. Please let the Center know how you feel about access in Overton Park

New tools for transportation

By Christina Clift

As a person with a disability that prevents me from driving, legally that is, I think that it is very important to keep my

transportation toolbox well stocked with a variety of tools.  Of course, it contains typical tools like friends and family, public transportation, my own two feet, and cabs.  However, over the last six months I’ve added two new tools to my transportation toolbox.

At first I was somewhat skeptical on how they would work, but they’ve turned out to be one of the best things I’ve ever added.  Uber and Lyft are my two new transportation tools.  While they are not accessible to every person with a disability, they help provide independence in getting places for me.  I can only hope that they will become accessible to all.

Uber and Lyft provide transportation to individuals on demand.  You don’t have to give them a three day advanced notice.  You don’t have to even give them an hour notice.  You just open the app that you have downloaded to your smart phone and request a ride.  Unlike

MATAplus, you get a real time feedback on your driver’s estimated time of arrival that is 95 percent accurate.  This is done through utilizing the GPS (global positioning service) in both the rider’s and driver’s phone.

Many people might think that this type of transportation service is not safe, but so far it has been for me. By doing background checks on the drivers, ensuring that the vehicles are in good repair, and providing the photo of the car, driver, and license plate, is a good start.  The rider also rates the driver anonymously once the trip is over.  Rating your driver three stars or less, you are not matched up with that driver again.  The same rule applies for the drivers rating riders.

Finally, since no cash is exchanged for payment and instead is done through the app and whatever credit card you designate, ensures another layer of safety.  If you’d like help in getting started with Lyft or Uber, I can send you a link for a free ride.  Feel free to contact me at (901) 726-6404 or

TennCare Redetermination

What is redetermination and how will it affect millions of Tennesseans healthcare coverage

By Allison Donald
Redetermination is the process by which the Tennessee Department of Human Services (DHS) evaluates the ongoing eligibility status of TennCare Medicaid and TennCare Standard enrollees. Starting in December, TennCare entered into the final phase of the redetermination process.

There have been many challenges during this process that has left many Tennesseans confused and without medical coverage. This year’s redetermination process will look different than in previous years.  DHS workers are said to be helping fill out and fax renewal packets.  Enrollees who do not have a caseworker they can contact, may call the Tennessee HealthCare Campaign (THCC) with basic questions about the Renewal Packet, but there may lengthy wait times.

The state is required to extend coverage for all enrollees who can be determined by review of records already available to the state.  Also, the state is required to send enrollees notices that are pre-populated with any information already available to the state to give enrollees an opportunity to provide any missing information.

The state must also provide assistance in person or by phone for the redetermination.  The enrollee is required to keep TennCare informed of any changes in contact information.  The enrollee must report any changes in income, household composition and must respond to the redetermination notice within 30 days. Enrollees also must provide supporting documentation, as requested by the state. ADAPT Marches for Medicaid equality

According to TennCare Division of Healthcare Finance and Administration, “All Medicaid agencies like TennCare are required to redetermine the eligibility of members on at least an annual basis. Due to the many complicated changes to Medicaid that took place starting January 1, 2014, the federal government encouraged Medicaid agencies to suspend redetermination efforts in order to focus on other tasks. Most Medicaid agencies – including TennCare suspended redetermination efforts.”

Phase one of the redetermination process began in May and September for approximately 720,000 individuals.  TennCare used SNAP data (food stamps) data gathered by DHS to redetermine eligibility.  No one lost eligibility as part of phase one.

October through December was the start of phase 2 of the redetermination process TennCare sent notice to 300,000 selected enrollees.  The notice asked individuals to sign and return a form if their circumstances changed since their last eligibility review.

Phase 2 involves a confirmation mailing in which, enrollees must complete the form and fax or mail it to TennCare to complete the redetermination process. It is especially important that all notices are returned to the address and fax number noted on the notice.  In Phase 2, even if individuals are not able to complete the forms he or she will remain in TennCare.

Phase 3 started in November of 2015 with a pilot group of 10,000.  This step will require enrollees to respond to extensive requests for information (RFI).  It will affect people due for redetermination, whose eligibility was not redetermined in phase 1 or 2.  If the enrollee fails to respond to the notices in Phase 3, TennCare will be terminated.

The challenges vary.  Notices are very confusing and must be read carefully to understand what steps to take.

If you are experiencing any difficulty during the process please feel free to contact the Tennessee Justice Center (TJC) at


A Portrait of 

Deborah Cunningham and other works by

Sher Stewart

A fifty-year retrospective

April 23, 2016,

7:00 PM to 10:00

Memphis Center for Independent Living

1633 Madison Avenue, Memphis, TN

Sher Stewart will have a TRIBUTE show on what would have been Deborah's birthday. This unique collection celebrates the Civil Rights and Social Justice theme loved by Deborah, the long-time Director of MCIL. Sher Stewart, an artist all her life will unveil a new portrait of Deborah Cunningham for the Center.

The TRIBUTE will also be a unique fund-raiser for MCIL and the causes that Deborah loved and fought for. Sher will show a fifty-year retrospective of her work including disability rights all for sale.

"Deborah is the one who got me involved in disability rights," said Sher. "I have been arrested seventeen times in civil, non-violent disobedience for disability rights."

Sher is the artist behind the "Heroes of the ADA" that she made for the tenth anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act back in 2000. The work includes a montage of Disability Rights activists like Justin Dart, Evan Kemp and of course, Memphis' own Deborah Cunningham. Sher will have the original artwork "Heroes of the ADA" specially framed for this show donated by the Art Center.

Tim Wheat,
Apr 5, 2016, 10:18 AM
Tim Wheat,
Apr 5, 2016, 10:19 AM