Thursday, August 9, 2012

Update on the Progress of Ratification of CRPD

Hearing Loss Association of American, along with many other disability organizations united in their support of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), urges members of the US Senate to ratify CRPD. While CRPD was voted out of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on July 26, 2012, it did not make it to the Senate floor before the August recess. With enough support, CRPD could be scheduled for debate before the full Senate in September.

What’s Next: As the Senate enters into their August recess, our goal is to secure the votes in order to achieve a successful Senate floor vote in September. We urge you to contact your senators’ local offices to request a visit with the senator while they are back home in your state so you can ask them to pledge support.

For more information, visit the Hearing Loss Association Website at 

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

ACTION ALERT UPDATE: Support the CRPD as it Heads to the Senate Floor!

 Call on Your Senator to Support the
Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Last week on July 26, 2012, the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, HLAA watched as the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations voted to send the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) to the Senate Floor for a vote. The room was packed with disability advocates who could barely restrain themselves from applause as the vote was taken.

But we are not done yet. To ratify a treaty, two-thirds of the Senate – a supermajority – must agree. We need see strong bi-partisan support to get approval of CRPD in the Senate. Every Senator needs to hear from the disability community. 
Read more at Action Alert Update on CRPD

Friday, July 20, 2012


The U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Business Meeting will resume next Thursday, July 26, at 9:30 am in the Senate Dirksen Office Building, Room G50.  The markup and vote on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is scheduled to be taken up at that time.

There is still time to make your voices heard. Let your Senators know you support the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Please put this on your calendar to attend and bring your colleagues and friends.  We must fill the hearing room again for this important mark up.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Senate Postpones Vote on CRPD

IMPORTANT UPDATE! We have received word that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's scheduled markup and vote on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilties has been delayed by Senators not yet in support. The vote, orginally scheduled today, July 19, 2012, has been postponed. There is still time to make your voices heard. Let your Senator know you support the Convention on the Rights of Persons wtih Disabilities.

For more information, see:

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Action Alert: Support the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities!

Urgent: Calls Needed NOW to Support the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Last week's warm reception in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was good for people with disabilities but it provoked a storm of calls from the opposition led by the Homeschool Legal Defense Association and Rick Santorum. We need to raise our voices in determined response!

HLAA supports ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Let your Senator know where you stand!


·        Identify yourself and your connection to disability (person with a disability, parent of a child with a disability, family member, etc.)

·       Tell your Senator:  “I support ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and as your constituent I request that you support the CRPD at the Committee meeting on July 19, vote in favor of the treaty in Committee, and move it forward to a floor vote in the Senate!”

·        If you prefer to use email, send an email that includes your full name, address, and phone and/or email address.


For more information about CRPD, see, Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities


The following is a list of Senators on the Foreign Relations Committee. Please contact your Senator today. If your Senator does not sit on the Committee, call or email the Chairman, Senator John Kerry and Ranking Member Senator Frank Lugar.

Thank you!

Chairman: Senator John Kerry (D-MA)
(202) 224-4651

Chief counsel: Andrew Keller OR

Ranking Member: Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN)
(202) 224-6797

Chief counsel: Michael Mattler OR

Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) COSPONSOR OF CRPD!!
(202) 224-6441

Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA)
(202) 224-3553

Foreign Relations Legislative Aide: Ann Norris ( OR

Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD)
(202) 224-4524

Foreign Relations Legislative Aide: Katharine Beamer ( OR

Senator Bob Casey, Jr. (D-PA)
( 202) 224-6324

Foreign LA: Damian Murphy ( OR

Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) COSPONSOR OF CRPD!!!
(202) 224-5042

Foreign LA: Halie Soifer ( OR

Senator Bob Corker (R-TN)
(202) 224-3344

Foreign LA: Stacie Oliver ( OR

Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC)
(202) 224-6121

Foreign LA: Lydia Morgan ( OR

Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) COSPONSOR OF CRPD!!!
(202) 224-2152

Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK)
(202) 224-4721

Foreign LA: Joel Starr ( OR

Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA)
(202) 224-3643

Foreign LA: Chris Sullivan ( OR

Senator Mike Lee (R-UT)
(202) 224-5444

Foreign LA: Miriam Harmer ( OR

Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ)
(202) 224-4744

Foreign LA: Jodi Herman ( OR

Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL)
(202) 224-3041

Senator Jim Risch (R-ID)
(202) 224-2752

Foreign LA: Chris Socha ( OR

Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)
(202) 224-2841

Foreign LA: Chad Kreikmeier ( OR

Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) COSPONSOR OF CRPD!!!
(202) 224-6621

Foreign LA: Matt Padilla ( OR

Senator Jim Webb (D-VA)
(202) 224-4024

Foreign LA: Marta Ross ( OR

Friday, December 16, 2011

Predatory Pursuit of Students by For-Profit Colleges

HLAA as well as other disability and consumer advocacy organizations were welcomed to a meeting the Senate HELP Committee (Health, Education, Labor and Pensions) focusing on issues related to predatory recruiting of students by for-profit colleges. At that meeting, participants discussed the newly released report by the US Government Accounting Office (GAO) detailing questionable academic practices, as well as poor results for these colleges. “Once again a report reveals that too many students at for-profit colleges end up without a diploma and saddled with debt,” said Senator Tom Harkin.

76% of for-profit colleges are owned by Wall Street firms, including Goldman Sachs. Once these firms take over the schools, often academic considerations became secondary to profits. Even though over 86% of revenues comes from federal tax payer dollars in the form of student loans and grants, these colleges spend the majority of their revenues (approximately 60%) on marketing and profits, not academics. For example, Bridgepoint Education, a publically traded for-profit company spent 29.7% of its income on marketing, 30.3% on profits. Other for profits spent between 18%-22% of their funds on marketing. CEO Andrew Clark of Bridgepoint Education, Inc’s compensation in 2009 was $20.5 million.

The HELP Committee got involved because many of these students found that after taking the coursework, they couldn’t get the jobs they were looking for. Many ended up not finding jobs at all. Others found jobs but at a lower salary than people who attended state or community colleges. And all were saddled with debt. Without a job, these students find it difficult to pay back their loans. The rate of defaults on government loans has increased steadily since 2005.

The HELP Committee is also concerned because they are seeing more and more veterans targeted by these companies. The New York Times September 21, 2011 reports that returning veterans eager to earn post-secondary degrees have been exploited by unscrupulous for-profit companies. PBS’ Frontline reported that some recruiters signed up Marines with serious brain injuries who could not remember what courses they were taking. “Vast sums are involved. Between 2006 and 2010, the money received in military benefits but just 20 for-profit companies soared to $521.2 million from $66.6 million.” (NYTimes, For Profit Colleges, Vulnerable G.I.’s,” September 21, 2011. )

Why was HLAA invited to a meeting about predatory practices by for-profit companies?

The HELP Committee has been gathering information about for-profit companies aggressive recruiting of students for over a year. They are now reaching out to a variety of communities of people who may have been targeted by these companies.

We know that people with disabilities in general, including people with hearing loss, are often underemployed or unemployed in the best of times. In a sagging economy, we are often “last hired, first fired.” People who are out of work often turn to schools to get the education and training they need to get back to work. It wouldn’t come as a great surprise if people with disabilities were among those targeted by these for-profit companies.

HLAA is seeking input from students, or people who know students, who have been targeted by these companies. If you have information on this topic, contact us. People who want to do better by going back to school should have all the information they need to get the best education possible.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Join the Captioned Conference Call with FEMA & FCC Today

EAS Test: Don’t Stress; It’s Only a Test

HLAA has been working with FEMA and the FCC regarding an important test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS). We have posted an FCC announcement on our home page regarding this test to alert people that the test may not be accessible. If you are watching this 30 second test on broadcast television or satellite or a service provided by your phone company, you should be able to see and hear during the test that it is not an actual emergency. However, if you are watching via cable television, you or may not get a visual message along with an announcement that it’s a test. People watching need to be aware that it is only a test, that there is no need for concern.

We applaud FEMA and the FCC for working hard to get a test out soon so they can determine where the problems are with the system. We know they are working on the issue of visual access. Other problems may arise as well. The more that FEMA and the FCC can learn about the flaws of the system, the more able they will be to make any future alerts fully accessible to all people with hearing loss and solve any problems to ensure that when an emergency does happen, all of us will get the information we need.

HLAA has just learned that a conference call, with captions, has been set up to advise the community about this test. If you are interested in learning more, plan to join the call this afternoon at 4:30 pm ET with FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. Below is the message HLAA received from FEMA:


Teleconference Call to Take Place November 7th at 4:30 pm ET

Test to Take Place November 9, 2011 at 2 p.m. ET

Dear Colleagues;

Many of you have told us you have passed along the information we sent out last week about the upcoming nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System. We thank you for your help. Please remind the communities you serve about this nationwide test, being held Tuesday, November 9th at 2pm ET. Here are more tools and information about the test, all on one page:

We're also happy to announce that FEMA's Administrator Craig Fugate and Damon Penn, Assistant Administrator, National Continuity Programs Directorate as well as leadership from the FCC will participate in teleconference call with the disability community on Monday, November 7th at 4:30 pm Eastern. We invite you to participate in this call, find out more about the test, and why the test is an important step towards building a modern, accessible alert and warning system.

To participate in the call:

(800) 320-4330, Participant Code is 247177

To access captioning for this call, click this link:

Event ID=1855918

Thank you!

FEMA wants everyone to know about the upcoming Emergency Alert System (EAS) test and how it may impact them. Please share this message with your communities and through your social networks.

• FEMA’s Emergency Alert System website:

• FEMA Administrator’s Message – In English

• FEMA Administrator’s Message – In Spanish

As part of our larger efforts to strengthen our nation’s preparedness and resiliency, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will conduct the first nation-wide test of the Emergency Alert System on November 9th, at 2 p.m. ET. The test will occur simultaneously across the United States and the U.S. territories and will last approximately 30 seconds, after which regular programming will resume. The test will appear on all broadcast radio and television stations, cable television systems, satellite radio and television systems, and wireline video service systems. The test will not involve landline or mobile phones or other infrastructure such as power grids.

Testing the Emergency Alert System plays a key role in evaluating and improving the systems we need in place to ensure our nation is prepared for all hazards and that people within its borders are able to receive critical and vital information through the system, should it ever be needed. It’s important to keep in mind that this is not a pass or fail test of the Emergency Alert System, but an opportunity to improve the system on a national level. Below we have provided a template for both a press release and/or a newsletter that you can use in your organizations to help inform your stakeholders, partners and continuances.

The national Emergency Alert System is an alert and warning system established to enable the President of the United States, if needed, to address the American public during emergencies. It is another critical communications tool that can protect the public and strengthen our nation’s resiliency. The National Weather Service, governors, and state and local authorities also use parts of the system to issue more localized emergency alerts. The test is an important exercise in ensuring that the system is effective in communicating critical information to the public in the event of a real national emergency.

This national test will help federal partners and EAS participants determine the reliability of the system, as well as its effectiveness in notifying the public of emergencies and potential disasters both nationally and regionally. The test will also provide the FCC and FEMA a chance to identify improvements that are needed to build a new, modernized, and fully accessible Emergency Alert System.

To help inform, and support the distribution of this information, FEMA has developed a toolkit of useful information which consists of the following examples and video links with additional information about the test.

If you have questions, please contact us at