From the Hill – July 2021

Kristen McCone Gordon

Ensuring Workplaces are Accessible to All 

The New England Chapter of Paralyzed Veterans of America is joining forces with our partners in the disability advocacy community in Massachusetts to support AN ACT REMOVING BARRIERS TO WORK THAT DISCRIMINATE AGAINST PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES, MOBILITY IMPAIRMENTS, AND SENIORS (The Accessible MA Act). 

In 1968, Massachusetts led the nation’s efforts to make communities accessible for all by creating the MA Architectural Access Board (MAAB). The Board balances the interests of property owners and accessibility needs by establishing and enforcing building codes during permitting. However, the MAAB was not given purview over workplaces, so current code does not require workspace accessibility even in new or extensively renovated buildings.

The ACCESSIBLE MA Act would finally allow the MAAB to meet the promise of the ADA and enforce accessibility in new or renovated workplaces. It will also guide developers and architects on innovative ways to provide access.

It is well past time for Massachusetts to provide accessible workplaces. Given the accessibility issues throughout the state, it’s no surprise that the unemployment rate for people with disabilities in MA is twice that of non-disabled people. Our members, and all individuals in the disability community, have the right to find meaningful and rewarding work. The ACCESSIBLE MA ACT is a strong step in removing discriminatory barriers.

I look forward to keeping you informed of our progress in advancing this legislation. We are also reviewing workplace accessibility issues and legislative options in our other New England states. If you have experienced workplace accessibility challenges in any New England state, please reach out to me at kristen@newenglandpva.org. 

Join our efforts in advocating for fertility benefits for our service-connected members

We still need your help in urging Congress to pass the Veterans Families Health Services Act (H.R. 2734/S. 1280). This bill would permanently authorize Assistive Reproductive Therapies (ART) to include In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) services, gamete donation, and surrogacy for veterans with service-connected infertility, and include the treatment of veteran spouses in applicable cases.

Please take action by clicking HERE and sending an email directly to your Representative’s office. 

This legislation would greatly expand and improve access to assisted reproductive technology for service members and veterans by:

Allowing service members to cryopreserve their gametes before deployment to a combat zone or hazardous duty assignment as well as after an injury or illness;

Permanently authorizing fertility treatment and counseling, including assisted reproductive technology like IVF, for veterans and service members;

Allowing for the use of donated gametes, which ensures that veterans’ and service members’ spouses, partners, and gestational surrogates are appropriately included in eligibility rules;

Providing support for service members and veterans to navigate their options, find a provider that meets their needs, and ensure continuity of care after a permanent change of station or relocation;

Expanding options for veterans with infertility by allowing VA to provide adoption assistance; and

Requiring VA and the Department of Defense to facilitate research on the long-term reproductive health needs of veterans.

The New England Delegation has expressed interest in this issue but they need to hear from more constituents. Please CONTACT your Representatives and ask them to cosponsor The Veterans Families Health Services Act (H.R. 2734/S. 1280) today. Please tell your family, friends, and neighbors to do the same!

NEPVA encourages more New England Congressional Delegation members to cosponsor PVA’s legislative priorities

We are thrilled to announce that Congresswoman Chellie Pingree has pledged her support of the Air Carrier Access Amendments Act of 2021 as a cosponsor!  

Additionally, Congressman Jared Golden and Senator Angus King have both signed onto the AUTO Act as cosponsors. The entire Maine Congressional Delegation has now officially pledged their support of this critical piece of legislation.

To learn more about our PVA legislative priorities, and to take action by contacting your Representatives, please visit the PVA resource page.

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