What's New

Disability Rights Wisconsin Provides Testimony for U. S Senate Hearing on Vouchers

Disability Rights Wisconsin provided testimony on July 20 during a hearing held by U.S. Senator Ron Johnson: “The Milwaukee Parental Choice Program: A Pioneer for School Choice Programs Nationwide.” To read the testimony, click here.

President Speaks on the ADA

The President of the United States spoke at yesterday’s ADA reception at the White House. Twenty-five years ago, the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law — a landmark piece of legislation prohibiting discrimination based on disability.

To read Mr. Obama’s remarks, click here.

The passage of this act was one of America’s great civil rights triumphs. It was the culmination of many years of struggle by the countless people who marched, organized, and refused to be treated as second-class citizens.

Join Us to Celebrate Wisconsin’s ABLE Creation!

Representative John Macco (R – Ledgeview), invites you to an event to celebrate a new era for people with disabilities and their families in Wisconsin.

The signing of Wisconsin’s 2015-17 budget means families and individuals with disabilities will for the first time be able to start saving for the future with new ABLE Act Accounts. It is time to celebrate!

When: 10:00 am on Monday, August 10th, 2015

Where: Options for Independent Living
555 Country Club Road, Green Bay, Wisconsin

What: A Celebration with Families and People with Disabilities who have New Options for Independence through ABLE Act Accounts

Please RSVP:
Contact Lisa Pugh with Disability Rights Wisconsin: Lisa.Pugh@drwi.org or Ben Joniaux, Benjamin.Joniaux@legis.wisconsin.gov if you plan to attend.

What is an ABLE Account?
The purpose of an ABLE Account is to encourage and assist individuals with disabilities and their families to save funds to maintain health, increase independence, and improve quality of life. ABLE stands for “Achieving a Better Life Experience.” An ABLE Account will allow individuals with qualified disabilities and their families across Wisconsin to put away their own funding for specified items, such as housing, transportation, employment training and support, assistive technology, personal support services, health care expenses and other needs while not jeopardizing the person’s eligibility for Medicaid and other programs that provide essential supports that are not otherwise available. Wisconsin’s ABLE Act provision recognizes the extra and significant costs of living with a disability and will support people to increase their independence.

Print and share this event invitation: Join Us to Celebrate Wisconsin’s ABLE Act Accounts.

Read more about Disability Rights Wisconsin’s Support for the ABLE Act in Wisconsin: Disability Rights WI Supports ABLE Act Provision.

For more details about the accounts: ABLE Accounts FAQ.

Advocates Await Assurance that IRIS will be Replicated in Wisconsin’s New Managed Care System

On June 30 the Legislative Fiscal Bureau issued this memo outlining how the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee budget motion does not address key parts of the current IRIS program including:

  • Maintaining the policy that anyone who is eligible for Family Care is eligible for self direction.
  • Access to the ongoing support of an IRIS Consultant to implement a self-direction plan.
  • The calculation of an Individual Budget based on an objective measures of a person’s functioning.
  • The requirement that all eligible individuals be provided information on the self direction option.

When the original budget motion passed on May 27 legislators had indicated that although IRIS was being folded into Family Care as a self-direction option that it would be essentially identical to the current IRIS program.

Advocates will continue to work with the Legislature to secure fixes to the budget motion to maintain IRIS.

Nominations Wanted!

Disability Rights Wisconsin needs your help identifying individuals, businesses, agencies, or government identities that deserve recognition for efforts to support the Spirit of the ADA. Please download this form, fill in your nominations and email it or mail it to:

Disability Rights Wisconsin
Attention: Ryan Williams
6737 W. Washington St. Suite 6737
Milwaukee, WI 53214

Title: Joint Finance Committee votes Tuesday on Special Education funding

On Tuesday the legislature’s budget committee votes on K-12 education funding, including funding for students with disabilities.  Click here for the document outlining the priorities the Survival Coalition of Wisconsin Disability Organizations shared with the finance committee about students with disabilities.

Those priorities include:

- An increase in special-education funding including specific support for high cost students.

- A commitment to changes in open enrollment  policies that preserve student and family rights.

- Support for the representative Rob Brooks Better Bottom Line proposals that support youth in transition to work or college.

Disability Rights Wisconsin continues to oppose expansion of vouchers or special needs vouchers that do not protect the rights of students and take funding away from public schools where the great majority of students with disabilities are educated.

DRW Listening Session – Mental Health Emphasis – Green Bay – Friday, June 5

The Board of Directors and the Mental Health Advisory Committee of Disability Rights Wisconsin will conduct a Listening Session on Friday, June 5, 2015 in Green Bay from 4:30 to 6:30 at the Hyatt on Main/KI Convention Center.

Help shape our advocacy plans for the future. Come and speak or just listen to what others in your community have to say.

Comments on all disability areas are welcome, but we particularly want to hear from the mental health community.

WHEN:  Friday, June 5, 2015 from 4:30 to 6:30 PM

Hyatt on Main/KI Convention Center-Breakout Center
333 Main Street
Green Bay, WI  54301

For a flyer with details, click here.


Support the ABLE Act for People with Disabilities and their Families in Wisconsin: Call Your Legislator by May 14

Rep. John Macco and Senator Howard Marklein have drafted a bill to bring the benefits of ABLE Act Accounts to Wisconsin. Disability Rights Wisconsin worked with the legislature to make sure this bill will work for Wisconsin residents. The Wisconsin ABLE Act bill will finally allow people with disabilities and their families to earn and save for the extraordinary expenses they often face.

The bill allows people with disabilities and their families to earn and save up to $14,000 per year to purchase a defined list of items typically challenging to access under current income limits, including dental care, assistive technology, transportation, housing, employment training, education, and more. ABLE Accounts are tax-advantaged savings accounts–income earned by the accounts would not be taxed. In addition, for the first time, eligible individuals and families will be allowed to establish ABLE savings accounts that will not affect their eligibility for SSI, Medicaid, Wisconsin long-term care programs and other public benefits.

Under federal law, people with disabilities cannot have more than $2,000 in assets at any time—an amount that hasn’t changed in 30 years. Tax-exempt savings accounts provide people with the opportunity to maintain economic stability and preserve critical health care coverage. The maximum total amount of contributions that may be made to a Wisconsin ABLE account is tied to the maximum contribution limit of Edvest, Wisconsin’s 529 plan. The current limit is $330,000.

Want to Learn More? See both the draft ABLE Act bill here: May 7 ABLE Act bill draft and an FAQ on ABLE Accounts from the National Disability Institute here: ABLE Accounts FAQ.

And please consider calling your legislator by May 14 and asking them to sign on to Wisconsin’s ABLE Act • Tell them how finally being able to save for the future will help you or your family.

To find contact information for your legislator: Call 1-800-362-9472 and ask to confirm your representatives, or go to the following link and type your address in the box: Find My Legislators.

ACTION ALERT: Tell Your Legislator to Support the Born Motion to Remove Changes to Long-Term Care from the Budget

Representative Mark Born-R, Beaver Dam, has introduced a motion that would take the changes to Family Care, IRIS and Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRCs) out of the 2015-17 Biennial Budget. Now other legislators need to join Representative Born to make this happen! The motion is not final but is under consideration in the legislature. Representative Born and other legislators have concerns about the lack of details in the current budget proposal and are asking for more research and input from stakeholders to understand how these major changes to long-term care programs will affect people with disabilities, the elderly, their families and the state. As the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee makes final decisions about what stays in or comes out of the budget, they need to hear that people with disabilities, the elderly, family members and communities want these changes removed from the budget NOW! The current proposal to turn Family Care into a statewide for-profit insurance plan, to eliminate IRIS and to dismantle ADRCs have caused great concern statewide.

There are still many unanswered questions: Family Care, IRIS and ADRCs: Questions.

Here are the 4 Action Steps YOU Can Take:

1. Call or write your legislator and say: “Will you support the budget motion authored by Representative Mark Born to take the significant changes to our state’s long-term care system out of the budget? I am very concerned about the changes to Family Care, IRIS and ADRCs for these reasons (tell your story). I think these changes need to come out of the budget now so that stakeholders can provide input and so the state can better understand all the impacts. Bottom line: we need many more details and answers to our questions.”

2. Ask your legislator to confirm with you that they will publicly support the Born Motion and will contact the co-chairs of the Joint Finance Committee to ask them to pull the changes to Family Care, IRIS and Aging and Disability Resource Centers out of the budget.

3. Share the Born Motion with your legislator and people in your community. Ask people you know to contact their legislators as well. The motion is linked here: Born Motion.

4. Share with your legislators this list of questions that still need to be answered: Family Care, IRIS and ADRCs: Questions. Ask your legislator if they will help you get answers to your questions.

Don’t Know Who Your Legislator is? • Go here and type your address in the box: Find My Legislators. • Or call this toll-free number: 1-800-362-9472.

Watch the Long Term Care Informational Series

DRW was the host and facilitator along with our partners – AARP, the Wisconsin Board for People with Developmental Disabilities and People First Wisconsin – of two informational briefings in the Capitol recently. Our goal was to provide basic information to legislators on Wisconsin’s long-term care system.

Here are links to the briefings:


Family Care & Family Care Partnership

Here are materials provided to attendees of the briefings:

IRIS Basics LTC Budget Briefing

Family Care and Family Care Partnership LTC Budget Briefing.