Tag Archives: disabilities

National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

March is recognized as National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. If you or a friend, co-worker, loved one or client has a developmental disability, this month is for you!

Thanks to the advocacy efforts of The Arc in the 1980’s, February 26, 1987 President Ronald Reagan officially declared Proclamation 5613 making March National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month.

The proclamation called for people to provide understanding, encouragement and opportunities to help persons with developmental disabilities to lead productive and fulfilling lives. March is recognized by groups across the country as a time to speak up about the challenges facing people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and their families.

Most people have disabilities of one kind or another. The differences lie mostly in degree and whether our disabilities are seen or unseen. We can help remind others of this important celebration during Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month by sharing these important facts:

Spread the word to your friends and family!

  • Developmental disability is a natural part of the human experience and affects about 4.6 million Americans.
  • All people with developmental disabilities can be productive, contributing members of their communities!
  • Many people with developmental disabilities rely on publicly funded services and supports in order to fully participate in community life.
  • During times of economic decline, essential services and supports for people with developmental disabilities are often threatened.
  • The power of people with disabilities is strongest when their voices are united with each other and their friends, families and other allies.
  • Policy makers can only make good public policy when they hear from the people directly affected by their decisions!

What can you do to advocate for individuals with special needs?

  • Spread the word about Development Disabilities Awareness Month through email, blog, and website updates.
  • Contact local, state, and federal legislators to “Don’t Cut Our Lifeline” – The Arc.
  • Get involved to protect Medicaid services for people with special needs.
  • Learn about essential services for your loved one with special needs.

Everyone wants, and deserves, to enjoy life, feel productive and secure. But in March, we take extra steps to raise awareness about the needs and rights of the people with disabilities and to celebrate their contributions to our communities and society as a whole!

President Reagan’s personal invitation
I invite all individuals, agencies, and organizations concerned with the problem of developmental disabilities to observe this month with appropriate observances and activities directed toward increasing public awareness of the needs and the potential of Americans with developmental disabilities.

I urge all Americans to join me in according to our fellow citizens with such disabilities both encouragement and the opportunities they need to lead productive lives and to achieve their full potential.”

Tips For Including People With Disabilities At A Party

With the holiday season upon us, it’s easy to hold a party where all guests — with and without disabilities — feel welcomed, respected and have fun. All it takes is some planning.

 Don’t be afraid to include guests with disabilities
People with disabilities have their disabilities 24/7, so they know how to create work-arounds so that they feel comfortable. If you know someone has a disability, use a simple strategy — ask the person what they need to be fully included. All too often people with disabilities are not invited to events, or don’t go because they feel embarrassed to “put someone out” by asking for a simple thing that will help them attend. By telling them that their presence is valued, and asking what they need, you will build a new level of trust and affection. For example, one of the biggest things that aging loved ones need is a ride. So help them find a carpool or send an accessible taxi or ride to pick them up and return them home.

RSVP
Not all disabilities are visible, so you may not know that someone you want to include in your event has some special needs. By including a line about accommodations in the invitation’s RSVP, you are already letting guests know that everyone is welcome. If it’s a party for children, parents can tell you, right off the bat, what their child’s needs might be to attend the party. They will be happy you asked! “We want everyone to have fun — please let us know if you have dietary restrictions or require other special accommodations to attend! We will do our best to meet everyones needs.” Note that you aren’t promising to meet all needs — if you can’t find a sign language interpreter at the last minute or there is another issue, for example, you will be able to let your guest know in advance. Indeed, they may be able to help you find a solution!

Physical Access
Most public places are accessible. However, because religious institutions are exempted from the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), many of them are not fully accessible. Thus, if your event is at a venue that is not physically accessible to all, move it to a place that is. That can mean a different room in a place of worship, or to a completely different place. Venues should have a ground level entrance or ramp, an elevator if it’s upstairs, and accessible bathrooms. Most public places (hotels, restaurants, bowling, video games, pools, bounce houses, etc.) are usually equipped for people with disabilities. Just check with the venue ahead of time. If you have someone coming who uses a wheelchair, you should also put the menorah on a table that is low enough for them to also be able to light candles.

Special Diets
Anyone can have allergies, celiac disease or lactose intolerance, but you won’t know unless you ask on the invitation RSVP. Making sure there is an option for cake, snacks, treats and other food for these guests can be as simple as picking up a gluten free cupcake to serve with the cake. It is thoughtful to have refreshments that everyone can enjoy.

Addressing attitude
Kids and adults can be daunted when encountering someone who is different from them. If it’s a children’s event you can talk to the group at the start of the party about kindness and respect for each other and each others differences. A party is a great opportunity for kids to learn about one another.

Involving parents
Parties can be exhausting for the hosts. Asking a parent or two to volunteer to help at the party, particularly if it’s a big group, can lighten the load for the hosts. Parents may feel more comfortable, especially if their child has social anxiety issues, if they are invited to stay or help as an option.

Sensory overload awareness
Parties can cause sensory overload for any child or adult. But for a person with autism or a sensory processing disorder, a party can be really overwhelming. Offer opportunities for guests to take a break, perhaps in a quiet room away from the crowd. Some venues may have options for turning down music or minimizing stimulation — and that is useful anywhere there are a lot of kids! Latex allergies (balloons) and chemical sensitivities (use of highly scented cleaners or staff wearing perfumes) are real issues. Solutions: Use alternative mylar balloons. Ask people to not wear strong scents, and choose unscented cleaning products.

Communication
If a guest attending the party is non-verbal or communicates in other ways such as American Sign Language or a communication board, talk about it with the guests. Installing free Dragon software onto an Ipad in advance can enable you to speak with someone who is deaf as it instantly transcribes what you are saying. Having an interpreter can be worth the cost, as all the people can communicate and maybe learn a little sign language! Remember to speak directly to a child or adult whether s/he is verbal or not.

Reading, Cognitive Access and Vision Issues
Children and adults with cognitive, learning disabilities or vision impairments might not be able to read the menu, instructions for a scavenger hunt or a game score sheet. Pictures and verbal instructions are useful, as well as pairing children with those who can help. It’s always great to have an extra pair of reading glasses around if you are inviting seniors. But you can always tell someone who can’t see or read what they will need or what to know.

Enjoy the party!
Don’t let inclusion stress you out. If you are reading this list and considering these tips, you’re already doing more than most! Stay positive, smile and throw that PARTY!

Roadside Assistance for Drivers with DisAbilities

Getting stuck on the side of the road due to a vehicle malfunction can be a major inconvenience and can keep you from achieving your goals for the day. For a person with a disAbility driving an adaptive or wheelchair accessible vehicle, this inconvenience can quickly become a big problem.

Coverage
Make sure you select coverage that follows you from vehicle to vehicle. In other words, even if you are driving a rental or a family member’s car, under this coverage, you will be entitled to roadside assistance.

Towing
Finding out the details in advance when it comes to towing can make a significant difference if you ever find yourself stranded. Will they provide an accessible vehicle for transportation? Will they tow your vehicle to a dealership or to the place of your choosing, such as a repair shop? What are the mileage limits? These are all questions you’ll need the answers to prior to settling on a provider, as they will determine the efficiency of the service.

Additional Services
From help locating hotels to maps and directions, roadside assistance plans can come bundled with a wide variety of additional services. Analyze the plans the provider offers to make sure you’re only paying for the services you might need to use.

Something to Think About
If you are a wheelchair user who drives his or her own vehicle, you might want to consider choosing a provider that caters specifically to persons with disAbilities.

 Drivers with or without disAbilities should consider purchasing a roadside assistance program to protect them in the event of an unforeseen vehicle malfunction. Determining the best option for you may be tricky, but keeping these things in mind may make the decision a bit easier.

Home accessibility

Whether it’s an unexpected injury or a birth condition, a temporary disAbility or something you’ve been dealing with your entire life, a physical limitation can make all the difference in how a person completes his/her everyday tasks. Something as simple as entering and exiting your home can become challenging if your home has not been properly assessed and made accessible for those with disAbilities. In order to make sure your home is as welcoming and as accessible as possible, we encourage you follow these tips for transforming your habitat.

Entry Ramps and Lifts
From one step to one flight, stairs are a difficult hurdle and hazardous to a person living with a disAbility. Entry ramps or wheelchair lifts can be permanent or portable solutions for homes in need of becoming wheelchair accessible, providing ease of access into the house. Entry ramps prove to be especially beneficial when carrying heavy luggage, groceries or moving furniture. Aside from allowing a wheelchair user to easily enter and exit the building, ramps offer convenience to guests wheeling strollers or using walkers.

Handrails and Support Bars
Installing handrails and support bars along staircases, bathtubs, toilets and other areas where a person with a disAbility may struggle without them is an easy way to make your home more accessible. Make sure handrails following staircases extend beyond the first and last steps, providing maximum support. You can also purchase floor-to-ceiling poles and install them at various locations throughout the home. Placing these poles adjacent to couches ease in day-to-day movement through the space. They are designed to aid those with disAbilities in standing, sitting or transferring to/from a wheelchair.

Mind Your Floors
Cluttered hallways, loose rugs and high thresholds can be a danger to someone trying to maneuver through the building in a wheelchair. Try to keep your traffic areas free from unnecessary decorations such as side tables and rugs that cannot be secured to the floor. Plush carpets may also prove to be a hindrance for someone with a disAbility, so use hardwood or tiled floors wherever possible. Additionally, you can purchase flat thresholds at hardware stores, which make transferring from carpeted to non-carpeted areas less of a hazard.

Accessibility in the Workplace

With more and more people with disAbilities entering the workforce each year, the demand for increased accessibility on job sites continues to grow. While many places of employment adhere to ADA standards, there are other things to consider when looking to improve accessibility. If you’ve just started a new job or have found certain difficulties completing your duties at your current position, these two strategies can help better problematic situations.

Speak Up and Ask About Accessibility
Perhaps the building’s entrance is equipped with a ramp and automatic door opener but the door to your office or company suite is not. Maybe the accessible bathroom or stall is too small and difficult to maneuver in, or your cubicle doesn’t allow you to make turns in your chair. Most of these issues have relatively simple solutions and employers shouldn’t be hesitant to requesting changes to the building manager or scheduling the updates themselves. However, if you do not speak up and report these issues, they might go permanently unnoticed. Even if you find that your employer is not convinced that the changes are necessary, be sure to stress to them that workers are likely to be much more productive in an environment they can easily access and feel comfortable in.

If You Have a Disability Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help
While we wish every single building or office in the world was 100 percent accessible, sometimes people with disAbilities must work around unavoidable barriers. If you find that there are aspects or areas of your job that you cannot independently complete or access, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Whether it’s by opening a heavy door or carrying your laptop to the conference room, most of your colleagues would be happy to be of assistance. It might be especially helpful to designate a routine for a specific co-worker to help with a task you know you’ll be performing each day.

Whether it’s your first job or where you plan to retire, your place of employment should be comfortable and accessible – an environment in which you can thrive. Report issues and ask for help whenever you need it and you’ll be working towards a fulfilling and rewarding career.

Steer Yourself In The Right Direction To Find The Perfect Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle

Purchasing or financing a wheelchair accessible vehicle takes time, money and a little bit of research. Because of the many available options when it comes to handicap vehicles, and the investment they require, knowing where to start your search is crucial and can shape the entire process. NMEDA member dealers work with individuals with disAbilities, as well as their caregivers and families, to ensure we steer you in the direction of the perfect vehicle for you. Here are a few useful tips and resources:

Go to the Pros
By going straight to a NMEDA members dealership, like ourselves, you’ll be sure that you’re getting the best possible care and attention, as well as professional service. All dealerships are required to adhere to strict quality standards under our Quality Assurance Program and, will provide you with the best solutions for your specific needs. Starting your search at a NMEDA dealer near you means you are sure you get behind the wheel of a handicap vehicle that’s right for you.

Establish Your Needs
Who will be the vehicle’s primary driver? Will you be driving from a wheelchair, transferring into the vehicle’s seat or transporting a loved one with a disability? Will you need to enter and exit the vehicle on your own or will help be nearby? Are you looking for a truck, car, minivan or a SUV? The answers to these questions can help determine what kind of adapted vehicle and equipment you need before diving into inventory listings.

Know Your Budget
We know that one of the most difficult parts of purchasing a new vehicle is making sure the cost is within your means. When it comes to finding a wheelchair accessible or adaptive vehicle, there are more options than you might realize. There are several state and government organizations in place to help get you the car you need.

Culinary Arts Adapted

Ready to take the heat again? Think it’s time to get back in the kitchen? Whether you miss tending to a fiery passion for food or you’re tired of day-old delivery, dreams of putting a pan back in your hand can quickly become a reality again.

People with disAbilities might initially shy away from seemingly difficult hobbies or chores. But the chances are high that they are also unaware of the exciting alternatives available in the adaptive community. Your cooking days are not over simply because you are seated in the kitchen. In fact, adaptive cooking classes often require that instructors (those not living with a disAbility) perform culinary tasks just as their respective students would.

More important than pursuing or renewing a passion for cooking is the nutritional and financial value in preparing your own meals. Now more than ever, we are reminded on a daily basis of the financial climate we live in. Preparing your own meals at home helps you save money and empower you to eat more nutritious foods, cooked to your liking. So, make yourself at home in the kitchen with ease with a little help from gadgets and gizmos like the one-handed bottle opener, one-handed can opener, and self-stirring cookware. Cut your favorite fruits and veggies with a specially crafted cutting board and you’re well on your way to whipping up your favorite meal, on your own.

If you’re not a hot shot in the kitchen, but you want to be, ask local community centers if they offer adaptive cooking classes. Who knows, this could be your chance to start something new and exciting for your friends to enjoy. All it takes is willing participants, and who doesn’t like food?

Rett Syndrome Awareness

What is Rett Syndrome?
Rett syndrome is a postnatal neurological disorder seen almost always in girls, but can be rarely seen in boys. It is not a degenerative disorder.

Rett syndrome is caused by mutations on the X chromosome on a gene called MECP2. There are more than 200 different mutations found on the MECP2 gene. Most of these mutations are found in eight different “hot spots.”

Rett syndrome strikes all racial and ethnic groups, and occurs worldwide in 1 of every 10,000 to 23,000 female births.

Rett syndrome causes problems in brain function that are responsible for cognitive, sensory, emotional, motor and autonomic function. These can include learning, speech, sensory sensations, mood, movement, breathing, cardiac function, and even chewing, swallowing, and digestion.

Rett syndrome symptoms appear after an early period of apparently normal or near normal development until six to eighteen months of life, when there is a slowing down or stagnation of skills. A period of regression then follows when she loses communication skills and purposeful use of her hands. Soon, stereotyped hand movements such as handwashing, gait disturbances, and slowing of the normal rate of head growth become apparent. Other problems may include seizures and disorganized breathing patterns while she is awake. In the early years, there may be a period of isolation or withdrawal when she is irritable and cries inconsolably. Over time, motor problems may increase, but in general, irritability lessens and eye contact and communication improve.

Rett syndrome can present with a wide range of disability ranging from mild to severe. The course and severity of Rett syndrome is determined by the location, type and severity of her mutation and X-inactivation. Therefore, two girls of the same age with the same mutation can appear quite different.


Testing and Diagnosis
Rett syndrome is most often misdiagnosed as autism, cerebral palsy, or non-specific developmental delay. In the past, making the correct diagnosis called not only for a long list of diagnostic tests and procedures to rule out other disorders, but it also took from months to years waiting to confirm the diagnosis as new symptoms appeared over time. Today, we have a simple blood test to confirm the diagnosis. However, since we know that the MECP2 mutation is also seen in other disorders, the presence of the MECP2 mutation in itself is not enough for the diagnosis of Rett syndrome. Diagnosis requires either the presence of the mutation (a molecular diagnosis) or fulfillment of the diagnostic criteria (a clinical diagnosis, based on signs and symptoms that you can observe) or both. Below is a list of labs to share with your ordering physician that can do the MECP2 sequencing + deletion analysis, and the list of diagnostic criteria.

Things You Should Know Before Renting a Wheelchair Accessible Van

Whether your own wheelchair accessible vehicle is undergoing repairs or modifications or you’re testing the adaptive automobile waters before taking the plunge with the purchase of one, renting a Wheelchair Accessible Van is an affordable, convenient and comfortable way of improving your mobility.

If you’re looking to rent this type of vehicle, these are some good tips to keep in mind.

How Much Does It Cost To Rent A Handicap Van?
If you’re all about saving your pennies, there are many ways to reduce the cost of renting a wheelchair accessible van. Here are just a few:

  • Avoid renting an accessible vehicle airport. Enjoy lower taxes and minimal fees by going to a dealer or rental agency outside the airport grounds.
  • Reserve online whenever possible to take advantage of special offers.
  • Fill up the tank before returning the vehicle. More often than not, this will be less expensive than paying the fill-up fee or pre-paying for gas at the rental agency.
  • Don’t double up on insurance. If your personal auto insurance already covers you for rentals, make sure you don’t sign up for redundant coverage.

Where to Go
Many mobility dealers maintain a fleet of accessible cars or conversion vans for rental purposes. Identify and contact the location nearest you to find out if they have handicap vehicles available to meet your needs. There are also a number of companies that specialize in accessible rental vehicles.

When to Rent
A wheelchair accessible van or car can transform the lives of people with disabilities or temporary mobility impairment. Renting a wheelchair accessible vehicle can be particularly helpful when:

  • Your current wheelchair accessible vehicle requires repairs or maintenance over a period of multiple days.
  • You’re going on a road trip or long ride – a rented wheelchair accessible vehicle can make these much more comfortable. Even if you own a wheelchair accessible vehicle, you might still consider renting a vehicle in order to avoid putting the mileage and wear on your own van.
  • A loved one or family member with a disability visits. If you don’t own an accessible vehicle, renting a wheelchair accessible vehicle can facilitate transporting your friends and family.

Respect Accessible Spaces

Going out in public is often riddled with obstacles for people with disAbilities. While this is largely due to inaccessible structures like stairs and narrow doors, so many unnecessary barriers are created by able-bodied people who place themselves where they shouldn’t be. That’s not to say that someone with a disAbility has special privileges. Rather, reserved access locations are intended to give people with disAbilities equal opportunities to experience the world around them. Here are some accessible places where able-bodied people should not be:

Handicap Parking Spaces
By far, the most frustrating obstacle put in place by able-bodied people is parking illegally in handicap accessible parking spaces. Though often thought that handicap parking is one of the “perks” of having a disAbility, the reality is that it’s a necessity, not a convenience. Most people with a disAbility get around in a wheelchair accessible vehicle that’s adapted with either a foldout/in-floor ramp or a lift so they can easily get in and out of their vehicle. If they don’t have access to a parking spot with enough space, there is literally no (safe) way for them to get out of their vehicles, which directly prevents them from getting where they need to go.

There are countless times when entering many parking lots that you’ll find that the only accessible spots are occupied by someone who doesn’t have a proper license plate or a permit. It is also common that vehicles park illegally in the white/blue lines next to the accessible spots making it impossible for the owner to access their vehicle which leaves them stranded.

Parking illegally in a handicap spot denies an important means of access to all people who legitimately need the accessible spaces. Able-bodied people have an entire parking lot full of spaces to choose from; disabled people usually only have a few accessible spaces. The accessible spaces are not there for the convenience of people who are lazy, or for people who claim they just needed to run into the store for a second. Illegal use of any part of a accessible parking space is inexcusable in any situation.

Accessible restroom stalls
While using the restroom at multiple locations you will find that most stalls are empty except the accessible one. Able-bodied people see the big, roomy bathroom open and are drawn to it; it’s understandable not wanting to be cramped into a small stall. However, using accessible bathroom facilities, especially when others are available, does demonstrate that people with disabilities aren’t in society’s conscience as being just as likely to be out in public as non-disabled people.

If every other stall is taken, it’s obviously okay to use it. But since people with disAbilities cannot physically get into regular sized restroom stalls, it’s not asking too much for able-bodied people to leave the one accessible bathroom option open when there are five other empty ones that are readily available.

Accessible shower stalls
Much like accessible bathroom stalls, there’s usually only one accessible shower facility in places like shared college dormitory restrooms and gym locker rooms. The accessible stalls are roomier and they often have a fold-down seat attached to the wall. Although this may be tempting for non-disabled people who want a shower with room to dance around or have a place to rest tired feet the accessible facilities are not intended for the convenience of able-bodied people.

Apparently, this is a hard concept for people. Frequently you’ll discover that every shower stall is empty except for the accessible one.  Unfortunately it seems that able-bodied people see accessible showers as a luxury, rather than realizing that they are a necessity for disAbled people.

Accessible dressing rooms
Most stores have a large dressing room that qualifies as “accessible.” Unfortunately, they are rarely, if ever, properly labeled or guarded by store employees. Hence, some of the worst offenders of able-bodied people who block public access are the ones who use accessible dressing rooms.

Some people who actually need the accessible stall have to wait for 15-20 minutes (give/take) while able-bodied people take their time in the only accessible dressing room, even though several other regular dressing rooms are available. Able-bodied people need to realize that they have fifteen dressing rooms to choose from while people with disAbilities, that actually need an accessible room, only have one option.

Respect Accessible Spaces
If you don’t have a disAbility, then next time you just have to grab a gallon of milk or try on a bunch of shirts, please reconsider and don’t take up the only reserved accessible places. Leaving accessible places open for the people who truly need them is a super simple way to promote inclusion and acceptance of the disAbled community.

Beginner’s Tips: Searching for the Right Wheelchair Van

If you’re a first-time buyer looking to purchase a wheelchair accessible vehicle things might seem a little overwhelming at first. You most likely have some questions and concerns when starting out, and that’s fine. We have several mobility vehicle experts/dealers and resources available to help you along the way.

Still, there’s never any harm in getting informed before you step onto your first lot as you look for a handicap van that meets your needs. Being equipped with information when you start looking for a mobility van will help you make a well-informed decision. It will also help you better express to us exactly what you are looking for.

There are a few basic pieces of information that can help you make your decision and learn more about accessible vans. Before heading out to shop around, there are some things you can to do prepare for your search.

  • Think about the options and features you are going to need in order to travel comfortably and without any hassle. This will give you a better idea of what sort of van you need while also giving a glimpse of what sort of price range you might be looking at.
  • Consider whether or not you’ll routinely have passengers such as family and friends and the room they might need.
  • Be realistic about the budget you have to work with. There is no sense in making another headache later on with a vehicle payment you can’t afford.

In addition to these tips, there are also several ways you can make the process easier outside of home. First and foremost, you could talk with one of our mobility consultants/experts to find out about benefits and features available to you in regards to whatever disability you may have.

We will let you try out a van before any money is put down. Take advantage of this opportunity to find out more about certain features and options that may suit your needs. Most of all, make sure you can ride comfortably.

Stay Active with a Disability: Quick tips

Regular physical activity provides important health benefits for everyone, including people with disabilities. Getting active can help you:

  • Strengthen your heart
  • Build strong muscles and bones
  • Improve coordination
  • Relieve stress, improve your mood, and feel better about yourself

Before you begin…

  • Talk to your doctor about the types and amounts of physical activity that are right for you. If you are taking medicine, be sure to find out how it will affect your physical activity.
  • It’s also a good idea to talk to a trained exercise professional. Find a fitness center near you that is comfortable and accessible. Ask if they have experience working with people with similar disabilities.

Aim for 2 hours and 30 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activities.

  • These include walking fast or pushing yourself in a wheelchair, swimming, raking leaves, or other activities that make your heart beat faster.
  • Start slowly. Be active for at least 10 minutes at a time.

Do strengthening activities 2 days a week.

  • These include sit-ups, push-ups, or lifting weights.
  • Try working on the muscles that you use less often because of your disability.

Find support and stick with it.

  • Take along a friend, especially if you are trying out a new activity.
  • If you don’t meet your physical activity goal, don’t give up. Start again tomorrow.
  • Be active according to your abilities. Remember, some physical activity is better than none!

Teens with Disabilities: Learning to Drive A Handicap Accessible Vehicle

The majority of teenage kids will assert that learning to drive not only makes for an exciting experience but also marks a very important moment in life – moving a step closer towards achieving independence. Teens living with a disability are not exempt from this feeling. When it’s time to teach your child to drive, there are a few important things to keep in mind to ensure your child’s safety and the safety of others on the road.

Regardless of your age, preparedness is essential when it comes to driving. For those living with disabilities, the process of how you prepare can be slightly different, but it is certainly equally as important. Teens and new drivers with disabilities must complete a drivers’ assessment prior to beginning lessons in order to determine what sort of adaptive equipment or techniques he or she must use while driving. Steering aids, hand controls, or ramps/lifts may be necessary for your teen to be ready to get behind the wheel and recommendations will be made by the assessment administrator (most often by a certified driver rehabilitation specialist) after a proper exam.

While some teens will require little additional equipment in order to operate a vehicle, others may need more thorough vehicle conversions. If purchasing a new handicap accessible vehicle is not in your budget, there are used options available to suit your child’s needs, as well as rentals and loaners made available by some driving schools.

Qualified driving specialists will be able to relay information on your state’s driving laws for people with disabilities, how to operate the vehicle, as well as how to get in and out of the car without additional assistance, should they need to do so.

Throughout this journey towards adulthood, it’s vital that you remain your teen’s number one fan. A supporting and encouraging environment can dramatically improve your child’s outlook on taking on the road, raising their self-confidence and making them an overall better driver. Remember, learning how to drive takes time, but with your support, the expertise of driving coaches and the accessibility of a modified vehicle, your teen will be on his or her way to being a licensed driver!

Government Grants for People with Disabilities

Find government grants and financing for handicap vehicles for people with disabilities nationwide. Money can be located with a little patience and a lot of research through various government programs. We’ve compiled a list of the most well-known government grant programs to assist your search for help funding a wheelchair van.When paying for a handicap van, you can use money from government grant programs for people with disabilities, as well other funding resources like disability grants, loans, fundraiser money, foundation endorsements, or any other funding source. We’ll work with your chosen foundations or any government grant program, after they verify financial assistance, to get you on the road!

To learn more about applying for wheelchair van grant funding to buy a handicap van or convert a pre-owned minivan, read “How to Apply for a Grant for Wheelchair Vans, Mobility Equipment, or Minivan Conversions.”

Government Wheelchair Van Financing Resources
Fund your wheelchair van with these government grant programs provided by the U.S. government and locally in your state.

Administration for Children & Families
On this website, new funding opportunities are displayed as they become available.

Grants.gov
The U.S. government resource listing federal grants available.

Medicaid
Sometimes provides assistance when children or other special circumstances are involved.

Medicaid/Department of Human Services (DHS)
Children are screened as part of the Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment (EPSDT) program of Medicaid. Under Medicaid’s “rehabilitative services,” people often receive handicap van or lift funding to achieve their “best possible functional levels.”

Vocational Rehabilitation (VR)
Located within each state’s Department of Human Services (per state), helps you prepare for work, train for a job, find a job, or keep a job as early as high school. Services are prioritized according to the severity of the disability.

Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS)
Check your state’s branch for grant availability.

Division of Developmental Services (DDS)
Check your state’s branch for grants.Those with Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits from the Social Security Administration can contact the agency about its Plan to Achieve Self Support(PASS). A PASS plan sets aside income to buy equipment or services in a way that keeps income, as well as resources, below the SSI eligibility cut-off so there are no reductions in benefits. The emphasis is on whether the handicap van or equipment will help the SSI recipient become vocationally self-sufficient. It’s important for an individual to contact and receive the approval of Social Security before setting up a PASS plan. Once money has been set aside for a PASS, spending it on something else can result in the loss of SSI benefits.Please note: You can use multiple sources of funding that include grants, loans, and other funding assistance. If you’re unable to find government grants for people with disabilities or need to acquire more money to help pay for your wheelchair van and/or mobility needs, check out more opportunities at our mobility finance page.

Accessible Fun Family Summer Activities

Picnics in the park are a great way to have a nice and affordable time with your family. Most parks are also easily accessible for those in wheelchairs, so pack your favorite snacks and just enjoy the amazing weather. Some local parks will have music playing, or community events that the whole family can enjoy—some even welcome dogs so you can enjoy the day with your furry friend.

Why not take a trip to a museum? Not only are most museum entrance fees affordable, but also this idea is a great way for you and your family to discover foreign cultures, classic masterpieces and more of history, while having a great time doing it.

Have a family game night. Who doesn’t love some mildly intense family competition? Find your favorite board games and plan a night in with the family. Great snacks are a definite must for this kind of fun, so make sure you have plenty of finger foods and yummy treats to munch on while you play. If you’re inviting friends or family members over to your home, it’s always a good idea to ask if there are any special dietary needs or food allergies you should know when planning the evening’s menu.

At home science experiments are a fun way to keep kids engaged even while they’re on summer break. It’s been shown that being away from school, kids lose a third of what they learned the previous year. Help them retain their knowledge and go back to school smarter than ever before by doing fun at home experiments and projects.

Horseback riding and/or fishing have also proven to be very therapeutic for folks with disabilities. Both items provide a great opportunity to be outside in a healthy environment.

Volunteering is definitely the least costly and most rewarding way to spend your time this summer. There are tons of different organizations and causes that you can dive into as a family. Pick a cause, assemble your team and give back to your community this summer.

Prep Your Vehicle For Summer

Summer heat and unexpected breakdowns are hard on those with disabilities. High summer temperatures also take their toll on the engine. Follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule in the owner’s manual and your vehicle will hopefully make it through the summer in a breeze.

Some jobs you or a friend may be able do, while others are best left to the professionals.

  • Check the air conditioning and inspect belts and hoses. When is the last time you had the entire system inspected?
  • Inspect batteries and cables for corrosion, cracks and dirt. Have it tested if it’s near the end of its warranty. It’s a lot easier to replace a battery before a trip than replace a dead one on the side of the road.
  • Have a professional inspect your brake pads and linings for wear.
  • Change the engine oil and filter according to the service schedule. Check fluids, including coolant, brake, automatic transmission, windshield wiper and power steering.
  • Replace wiper blades once a year.
  • You probably check your tires’ air pressure, but what about the spare?
  • You can significantly alter the car’s performance by rotating the tires.
  • Test the lights – interior and exterior, including turn signals and high beams – to make sure they work. And clean them.
  • Change the air filter. A dirty filter lowers gas mileage and reduces engine performance.
  • Consider an inspection by a qualified technician before leaving on a trip. Repairs made on the road will be more costly.
  • A professional should inspect the radiator, pressure cap, belts and hoses. If it’s time, flush and refill the cooling system.

Buckle up and don’t leave home without your cell phone and your disabled parking permit.

Toy Like Me

Toy Like Me

Toy Like Me is a recent Facebook campaign calling for more representation and diversity in the toy industry with their main goal being the production of toys for children with disabilities. The page features submissions from parents who have given makeovers to existing toys to better represent their kids. Makies, a UK dollmaker, responded to the campaign by developing accessories for their dolls such as hearing assistance devices and walking aids, as well as creating a doll with a distinct birthmark.

The company has a process similar to Build-a-Bear, where you can choose what clothing and accessories you’d like your doll to have, but goes a step further by allowing the customization of facial features, hairstyle and skin color. This is already a great way for kids who look nothing like Barbie—which is majority of kids in the world—to be able to have a toy in their own likeness. According to Metro UK, the company will soon release a line that includes hearing aids and canes and are working on a character that uses a wheelchair. They are also testing the ability to customize facial characteristics, so parents will be able to design a doll with a facial birthmark in the same spot as their child.

Makies uses 3D printing technology, which allows the dolls to be produced and shipped out faster than any other traditional doll-making process. A blog post on the company’s website says that the dolls should be up in their store soon. Both boy and girl dolls are available, at the price of $115 USD. As for the campaign, the fight for all-inclusive toys is far from being over. Toy Like Me is continuing their crusade by encouraging major toy corporations, like Mattel and Playmobil, to get on the bandwagon and produce more diverse toys.

For more information please check out the Toy Like Me Facebook page!

Have You Voted For Your Local Hero?

Click here to view the stories and submit your vote!

What is the Local Heroes Contest?
This is the 4th annual National Mobility Awareness Month. During this month NMEDA has an amazing promotion where they encourage people with disAbilities to embody the spirit of Life Moving Forward by raising awareness of the many life-changing mobility vehicle solutions available today.

NMEDA and their members are mobility advocates dedicated to changing the lives of those living with disAbilities by providing access to quality handicap accessible vehicles and adaptive equipment. Whether you are living with a disAbility or have dedicated your time to helping someone who is, they want to hear your story of perseverance and strength.

For your chance to win a FREE wheelchair accessible vehicle enter NMEDA’s contest by telling them what makes you (or your loved one) a Local Hero!

This year they will be giving away 4 handicap accessible vehicles:

  • one to a caregiver
  • one to a senior (60+)
  • one that is battery powered (for in-town driving only)
  • one in the general category.

Over 18 million people in North America are living with restrictive mobility issues. This is your chance to change the lives of just a few of those triumphing in the face of adversity.

Local Heroes Contest! Enter To Win a Free Accessible Vehicle!

This is the 4th annual National Mobility Awareness Month. During this month NMEDA has an amazing promotion where they encourage people with disAbilities to embody the spirit of Life Moving Forward by raising awareness of the many life-changing mobility vehicle solutions available today.

NMEDA and their members are mobility advocates dedicated to changing the lives of those living with disAbilities by providing access to quality handicap accessible vehicles and adaptive equipment. Whether you are living with a disAbility or have dedicated your time to helping someone who is, they want to hear your story of perseverance and strength.

For your chance to win a FREE wheelchair accessible vehicle enter NMEDA’s contest by telling them what makes you (or your loved one) a Local Hero! You can enter here

This year they will be giving away 4 handicap accessible vehicles:

  • one to a caregiver
  • one to a senior (60+)
  • one that is battery powered (for in-town driving only)
  • one in the general category.

Over 18 million people in North America are living with restrictive mobility issues. This is your chance to change the lives of just a few of those triumphing in the face of adversity.

The 2015 Local Heroes Contest Begins Next Week

NEMEDA Local Hero Contest – Enter or Vote Today!

May Is National Mobility Awareness Month

Join the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA) in celebrating the 4th annual National Mobility Awareness Month. During this amazing promotion, they encourage people with disAbilities to embody the spirit of Life Moving Forward by raising awareness of the many life-changing mobility vehicle solutions available today.

NMEDA and their members are mobility advocates dedicated to changing the lives of those living with disAbilities by providing access to quality handicap accessible vehicles and adaptive equipment. Whether you are living with a disAbility or have dedicated your time to helping someone who is, they want to hear your story of perseverance and strength. Once the promotion begins, tell them what makes you, or your loved one, a Local Hero for a chance to win a Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle.

This year they will be giving away 4 handicap accessible vehicles:

  • one to a caregiver
  • one to a senior (60+)
  • one that is battery powered (for in-town driving only)
  • one in the general category.

Find out more about NMEDA and the work they do within the disAbled community and stay tuned for this year’s events!

You can summit your stories on April 15, 2015.
Voting for your favorite Local Hero story will begin on May 1 and end on May 31.

Over 18 million people in North America are living with restrictive mobility issues. This is your chance to change the lives of just a few of those triumphing in the face of adversity.

Adaptive Golf

Whether you want to learn the game or hone your skills, there is a golf program for everyone! Many solutions exist for whatever stops you from enjoying the game of golf, from carts to clubs to accessories and specialty devices.

  • Adaptive golf carts now have swivel and extending seats and armrests to play while seated as well as elevating lifts that allow paraplegics and others with limited leg strength to play from a standing position.
  • Adaptive golf clubs can have special grips for those with missing fingers, deformed hands, osteoarthritis or loss of strength. Some are specialized for seated or standing golfers. Some club shafts are bent for seated individuals.
  • Gloves and grip aids include prosthetic golf grip devices, elastic gripping devices and more.
  • Accessories include tee setters and ball retrieval systems to reduce bending. One device even stabilizes your balance.

Search for a golf program for those with disabilities in your area to get tailored instruction from golf instructors certified to teach. For more information, check out national associations like the National Alliance for Accessible Golf, the Disabled Sports USA, and/or the United States Golf Assoc.

The Adaptive Golf Foundation of America has scrambles, classics, opens, championships and tournaments across the country throughout the year.

Universal design

Universal design

Universal Design makes things safer, easier and more convenient for everyone.
Universal Design involves designing products and spaces so that they can be used by the widest range of people possible. Universal Design evolved from Accessible Design, a design process that addresses the needs of people with disabilities. Universal Design goes further by recognizing that there is a wide spectrum of human abilities. Everyone, even the most able-bodied person, passes through childhood, periods of temporary illness, injury and old age. By designing for this human diversity, we can create things that will be easier for all people to use.

Who Does Universal Design Benefit?
Everyone.
Universal Design takes into account the full range of human diversity, including physical, perceptual and cognitive abilities, as well as different body sizes and shapes. By designing for this diversity, we can create things that are more functional and more user-friendly for everyone. For instance, curb cuts at sidewalks were initially designed for people who use wheelchairs, but they are now also used by pedestrians with strollers or rolling luggage. Curb cuts have added functionality to sidewalks that we can all benefit from.

What can be Universally Designed?
Everything.

  • Universal Design can apply to anything that can be designed, including products like door handles, kitchen utensils and smartphones.
  • Universal Design can be applied to architecture and the built environment, including public and commercial buildings, as well as residential buildings and family homes.
  • Universal Design can also be applied to the community at large through urban planning and public transportation.

Universal Design vs. the Americans with Disabilities Act
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a piece of legislation that protects the civil rights of people with disabilities by ensuring that they are not unfairly denied access to job opportunities, goods or services due to their disability. The ADA includes the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design, which outlines accessibility requirements for buildings and facilities. There is a great deal of overlap between what is required under the ADA and what would be suggested by Universal Design, but there are also differences. The ADA outlines the bare minimum necessary in order to curb discrimination against people with disabilities, while Universal Design strives to meet the best practices for design, which are always evolving and improving as we continue to learn more about how to best meet people’s different needs. The ADA focuses solely on the civil rights of people with disabilities, while Universal Design is designed with everyone in mind. The ADA does not apply to single family residences, while Universal Design can and should.

Below are some examples of universal designs:

Low Force Flooring Materials
There is actually a reason that short, stiff carpets and hard surface floors are found in most public buildings. If you use a wheelchair, you know how difficult it can be to push through even slightly plush carpet. Wheelchairs, handcarts, strollers – they are all easier to operate on hard surfaces.

Seamless Room Transitions
Room thresholds are most common in transitions between areas of carpeting and hard surfaces, and those lips can be not only difficult, but painful to maneuver over. Sticking to a consistent flooring style and removing those thresholds can make a huge impact on ease of maneuvering an interior.

Access for Pools
An hour of freely moving around in the water gives people with severe arthritis, muscle atrophy, and more a way to recover and live a significantly more pain-free life. This is why an increasing number of public pools have accessible chairs on metal arms by the side of the pool.

Lever Handles Instead of Knobs
Knobs, while being visually more appealing, require quite a bit more arm and wrist torque to move the bolt. Lever handles require both less force and overall motion.

Close Captioning/Large Print
Tablets, eReaders, smartphones, and more have shortcuts to increase font size easily – another great example of subtle universal design. This is the same principle behind why Netflix, YouTube and others alike now have captioning built in. Disability or not, these features can make life easier.

 

Great Career Options For Those With DisAbilities

In today’s highly-competitive workforce, finding a quality job can be a challenge. For individuals with disAbilities, the competition is even more extreme, but there are some positive changes on the horizon. Career opportunities are greater than they have ever been for individuals with disAbilities. This is largely credited to the ADA, which helps accommodate people with disAbilities and works to prevent discrimination within the workforce.

Here are a few great options for those with disAbilities to claim a spot on the workforce.

  • Working From Home
    From jobs as writers, salespersons or teachers through online courses, people with disAbilities have a wide variety of options available when it comes to working from home. There are also excellent opportunities for teaching gigs outside the home, as most schools are very wheelchair-friendly.
  • Working in Finance
    Accounting and financial jobs are viable career paths for those that need mobility help as office buildings have become more and more accessible throughout the years. Ernest & Young was listed as number one on Diversity Inc.’s “Top 10 Companies for People With DisAbilities” list. Also on the list was the Hardfort Financial Services Group.
  • Working with Computers
    Another great option for a career is one involving computers. This Internet and electronic age is booming. With more demand for people that are technologically savvy comes more prospects for job seekers. IBM is not only another one of the top employers for candidates with disAbilities but also a leader in computer technology. Computer systems analysts and software developers usually require a bachelor’s degree in computer sciences or a similar field, but technical vocation jobs are available for those without related degrees and require less schooling.
  • Legal Careers
    The legal world is another field that is accommodating for mobility assistance. Being a lawyer for those who share your disAbilities may even be your niche.  There are many other options for a legal career such as being a legal secretary, paralegal or legal assistant, all of which require certification but do not necessarily require a degree.
  • Government Jobs
    Lastly, the government is a great employer for people with disAbilities. Since the 1980s, federal employment has remained at 7 percent.

Where to Find your Career
The easiest place to start looking today is on online job boards. While there are many job boards to choose from, GettingHired.com accommodates people with disabilities by providing special search filters.

No matter where you start your search, it’s important to get out there and jump into the job hunt, knowing that the ADA, and yourself, can demand the necessary accommodations for equal opportunity in the workforce.

Is Your Business Accessible and Safe?

More awareness has been focused on making buildings accessible and safe for those with disAbilities. With the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, businesses must provide everyone equal access around their property. However, despite these regulations there are still businesses that have failed to meet federal guidelines. For those failing to comply, fines and penalties can be severe and can potentially lead to the closure of the business if changes are not made in a timely manner. According to the ADA, businesses are required to make reasonable accommodations allowing everyone to enjoy the goods and services provided by the business. In order to comply, several areas must be addressed.

Entryways
Wheelchair users find many businesses almost impossible to enter. If the only access to a building is steps or stairs, the ADA requires that a wheelchair-accessible ramp be provided to allow easy access to the building.

Auxiliary Communication Assistance
For those individuals who are blind or need other assistance with communication, the ADA also requires businesses to make the appropriate accommodations for them as well. Signage outside offices, bathrooms and other areas is required to have words in Braille, and employees who have communication disabilities are also required to have access to closed-captioning and sign-language interpretation if needed.

Bathrooms
For years bathrooms in almost all businesses were obstacles that many found to be nearly insurmountable challenges. However, with the passage of the ADA, using a bathroom has become much easier for both customers and employees with a disability. According to ADA regulations, all bathrooms should have at least one stall that is designed for people with a disability. The door to the stall is required to be wide enough for a mobility device to easily go through, and the stall large enough to have room for the individual and another person if necessary to assist. Hand rails are also required for safety and comfort, and the sinks are to be low enough for a person using a wheelchair to easily reach and use.

Parking
All states require businesses to provide parking spaces that are designated exclusively for drivers with a disability. The parking spaces should be clearly marked and located as close to the business as possible, and are usually near a wheelchair-accessible ramp. The penalties for parking in a handicapped parking space can be severe, often resulting in a fine of $500 and the vehicle being towed away at the owner’s expense.

Aisles
While the least-regulated aspect of most businesses, aisles still fall under ADA rules and must be in compliance with federal regulations. Under ADA rules, aisles in retail businesses or others as well must be free of any barriers that would prohibit a person in a wheelchair from gaining access to that area. However, it’s recommended by most experts that in addition to being barrier-free, all aisles be clear of clutter and be made wide enough for shoppers using a mobility device to easily navigate. While not required by law, doing so is seen as an act of courtesy and respect for employees and customers.

Fines and Penalties
To ensure your business is in compliance with ADA laws, it’s a good idea to have a safety audit. Hiring an expert to conduct a safety and accessibility audit is the best way to ensure your business is in full compliance and is in no way violating ADA regulations. Under Title III of the ADA, the maximum penalty for a first violation of ADA rules is set at $75,000. For a second violation, the fine goes up to $150,000. If the Department of Justice finds evidence of repeated violations, the fines can accrue significantly and can greatly affect businesses that are operating with profit margins that have little or no room for error. The federal government is currently very aggressive with its ADA enforcement, with healthcare businesses currently being targeted for investigation due to the DOJ’s Barrier-Free Health Care Initiative.

While much has been done to make the world an easier place for people of all abilities to live and work, it is clear there is still much work left to be done. However, with continued ADA enforcement equal access is getting easier by the day.

The Pros and Cons of Public Transportation

The Pros of Public Transportation
Public transport is becoming increasingly accessible for passengers with disabilities and many buses and trains are now equipped with wheelchair access. There has also been an increase in public transport routes, which for many people may open up new opportunities to use public transport.

Many passengers with disabilities are entitled to public transport subsidies and fare reductions. This can make public transport an excellent option for those who are traveling on a budget or do not have access to their own vehicle.

Bus and train rides can also be very enjoyable experiences for many special needs children who are fascinated by watching the world zoom by outside of the window.

The Cons of Public Transportation
Public transport can mean long waiting times and unexpected delays. It can often also become crowded and noisy, which can make life difficult for children and adults with special needs. For those who require a wheelchair, space can also be a challenge. Whilst public transport can be a great solution for those who happen to be on the right bus route or train line, unfortunately, not everyone is so lucky.

False Assumptions About DisAbilities and Employment

More than 80% of Americans with disAbilities are unemployed.  Most of these people would very much prefer to be employed.  Sometimes the barriers to employment are related to the disAbility itself, and sometimes the barriers are created by co-workers and employers in the form of false assumptions.

It’s not fair.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against Americans who have disAbilities. The ADA requires employers with 15 employees or more to make “reasonable accommodation” to enable a person with a disAbility to perform at his or her job.  The accommodations level the play field so that a person with a disAbility can make contributions in the workplace.  In other words, accommodations make the workplace more fair, not less fair.

Employees with disAbilities are too expensive.
More than half of all workplace accommodations or adjustments cost nothing to the employer.  These include accommodations such as permitting sitting instead of standing, or standing instead of sitting.  For the accommodations that do require an expenditure, there is typically a one-time cost of about $500 (such as a wheelchair-accessible desk), which quickly pays for itself in the form of increased productivity, decreased insurance and training costs and longer tenure of the employee.

There’s no proof that this person can do the job.
In most cases, the only way to prove this is to go ahead and do the job.  If proof of ability were to be required of every applicant, no one would ever be able to get his or her first job and no one would ever be promoted to higher levels of responsibility.  This assumption is a good example of blatant discrimination.

All new employees should be healthy.
Employers are prohibited from asking employees about medical conditions either before or after being hired, but they are allowed to ask if an applicant is capable of performing the job requirements.  Medical screenings are permitted as long as all employees go through the same screening for job-related requirements.  The truth is that many new employees have some type of pre-existing medical condition, such as a thyroid disease, a pregnancy or a history of depression.  The same consideration must be given to employees with disAbilities, according to the ADA.  Every applicant deserves to be considered on the basis of past qualifications and present job requirements.

How To Choose An Accessible Vehicle For A Child

Wheelchair vans are often needed by families who have children with disAbilities. Vehicles with special features are available and/or can be converted to accommodate them. The most important step is to start with an appointment with a mobility specialist.

Here are a few facts needed to help determine which accessible option best fits the needs of your child and your family.

The Child’s Size
A mobility consultant should be incredibly thorough in compiling the details such as wheelchair width and height, your child’s height while seated in the wheelchair, and other essential information, which should help identify the perfect van for your family.

Your child’s age and size are factors, too. If your child is young/small the vehicle that they easily fit into now could possibly be out grown. It is important to not only think of their needs now, but also to keep in mind that their needs may change in the future.

The Family’s Size
Consider the size of your family. A big family (5-7 children) might need the extra room provided by a full-size van. For smaller families, an adapted minivan should work nicely, and both vehicle styles can be equipped for wheelchair accessibility. Keep in mind that even an only child will have friends who will join you for an occasional outing.

The Child’s Condition
Along with wheelchair size, your child’s condition has tremendous bearing on vehicle selection. When a child with limited mobility travels with a ventilator or feeding tube, the vehicle must accommodate it. In such situations, rear entry access is often the better option.

Side entry vans require the wheelchair user to maneuver into position; an operating ventilator or feeding tube on an independent portable stand can easily make positioning awkward. Rear entry access eliminates the need to maneuver–the wheelchair and ancillary equipment roll directly into position from the back of the van.

Seating
If you or a caretaker needs to assist your child, it would be helpful to have a seat right next to the wheelchair, as the front passenger seat can make interaction awkward.

Now is a good time to talk about the front-passenger seat, which can be adapted for portability, so you can remove it completely. With a wheelchair docking system installed, the coveted front-passenger position is wheelchair-ready.

That said, size definitely matters here. The laws in some states restrict the size of a child riding in that position, with a typical recommendation of 50 lbs.+ and the ability to tolerate the force of a deployed airbag. A child with a frail or sensitive physical condition should be seated in the middle of the vehicle for safety. Make sure to familiarize yourself with your state’s seat-belt laws for wheelchair passengers.

Passengers
When there are several passengers in the van, middle seating in the vehicle would put your child at the center of attention and always part of the fun. The side entry accessible van has an array of configuration possibilities, including jump seats and the potential for passenger seating in front, alongside, and behind the wheelchair user in any accessible van.

Focus on the Future
When you find the accessible vehicle that fits the needs of you, your child and family now but are concerned about the changes that may come over time, discuss them with your mobility consultant. Future you has a few options. Keep in mind that additional modifications can be made to your vehicle to better fit you and your family. Another option future you will have is to trade in your vehicle for a newer one that will fit your needs better.

Full Sized Accessible Wheelchair Vans

Ask people with disAbilities—when purchasing a handicap or accessible van—size matters. The full-sized van is a good option for those with a large family, those who travel often, those with additional equipment and accessories, those who need to tow large loads, or big or tall passengers or drivers.

Most minivans do not have roof modifications so you don’t have as much interior space.  Roomy full-size vans gain space by raising the roof, lowering the floor or both, and also have the advantage of more power and load carrying capacity.

Full-sized van:

  • Its weight-carrying capacity is significantly more than a minivan’s. It can hold the weight of a power wheelchair and even accommodate two individuals in wheelchairs.
  • It offers a lowered floor for the center, passenger or driver position; raised roof, raised doors; lifts and adaptive driving aids.
  • A raised roof makes it easy for someone to enter the van seated in a wheelchair or for a caretaker to tend to them or walk in and out of the entrance.
  • Doors are raised in conjunction with a roof to enable a person in a wheelchair to enter without having to bend over or have a caretaker tilt the wheelchair back.
  • Larger wheelchairs or motorized wheelchairs require floor-lowering or roof-raising modifications that a full-size van allows.

4-Point Tiedown Wheelchair Securement Systems

For people with disAbilities, it is vital to remember how to correctly fasten the wheelchair securements in an accessible van. The four-point tiedown secures a wheelchair with four straps attached to the wheelchair at four separate securement points and attached to the vehicle at four separate anchor points.

If it’s been a while, read and follow all manufacturers’ instructions. If you have a 4-point tiedown but have lost the instructions or a new caregiver is helping, follow the tips below to ensure your safety.

  • Always position the wheelchair and rider facing forward.
  • When securing a WC19 wheelchair (WC19 wheelchair is a crash-tested wheelchair with four clearly identified securement points that meet the design and performance requirements of ANSI-RESNA WC19 Wheelchairs Used as Seats in Motor Vehicles.), attach the straps to the securement points provided on the wheelchair. Tighten them to remove any slack.
  • If you don’t use a WC19 wheelchair, attach the straps to welded junctions of the wheelchair frame or where the frame is fastened with steel bolts indicated by six raised lines or bumps on the bolt head.
  • Do not attach tiedowns to adjustable, moving or removable parts of the wheelchair.
  • Rear securement points should be high enough to result in angles of the rear tiedown straps between 30 and 45 degrees to the horizontal.
  • If your non-WC19 wheelchair has a tilt seat, attach both the front and rear straps to either the seat frame or the base frame.
  • Floor anchor points for rear tiedown straps should be located directly behind the rear securement points on the wheelchair. Front tiedown straps should anchor to the floor at points that are spaced wider than the wheelchair.
  • Clamp-type securement devices are not recommended since they do not provide effective securement in frontal crash testing.

Invisible DisAbilities

Invisible DisAbilities

In general, the term disAbility is often used to describe an ongoing physical challenge. This could be a bump in life that can be well managed or a mountain that creates serious changes and loss. Either way, this term should not be used to describe a person as weaker or lesser than anyone else. Every person has a purpose, special uniqueness and value, no matter what hurdles they may face.

In addition, just because a person has a disAbility, does not mean they are disAbled. Many living with these challenges are still fully active in their work, families, sports or hobbies. Some with disAbilities are able to work full or part time, but struggle to get through their day, with little or no energy for other things. Others are unable to maintain gainful or substantial employment due to their disAbility, have trouble with daily living activities and/or need assistance with their care.

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) an individual with a disAbility is a person who: Has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; has a record of such an impairment; or is regarded as having such an impairment (Disability Discrimination).

Furthermore, “A person is considered to have a disability if he or she has difficulty performing certain functions (seeing, hearing, talking, walking, climbing stairs and lifting and carrying), or has difficulty performing activities of daily living, or has difficulty with certain social roles (doing school work for children, working at a job and around the house for adults)” (Disabilities Affect One-Fifth of All Americans).

Often people think the term, disAbility, only refers to people using a wheelchair or walker. On the contrary,  the 1994-1995 Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) found that 26 million Americans (almost 1 in 10) were considered to have a severe disAbility, while only 1.8 million used a wheelchair and 5.2 million used a cane, crutches or walker (Americans with Disabilities 94-95). In other words, 74% of Americans who live with a severe disAbility do not use such devices. Therefore, a disAbility cannot be determined solely on whether or not a person uses assistive equipment.

The term invisible disAbilities refers to symptoms such as debilitating pain, fatigue, dizziness, cognitive dysfunctions, brain injuries, learning differences and mental health disorders, as well as hearing and vision impairments.  These are not always obvious to the onlooker, but can sometimes or always limit daily activities, range from mild challenges to severe limitations and vary from person to person.

Also, someone who has a visible impairment or uses an assistive device such as a wheelchair, walker or cane can also have invisible disAbilities. For example, whether or not a person utilizes an assistive device, if they are debilitated by such symptoms as described above, they live with invisible disAbilities.

Unfortunately, people often judge others by what they see and often conclude a person can or cannot do something by the way they look. This can be equally frustrating for those who may appear unable, but are perfectly capable, as well as those who appear able, but are not.

The bottom line is that everyone with a disAbility is different, with varying challenges and needs, as well as abilities and attributes.  Thus, we all should learn to listen with our ears, instead of judging with our eyes.

Winter Weather Tips for People with DisAbilities: Don’t Get Left Out in the Cold

From commuting to work in your wheelchair accessible vehicle to visiting friends and family following the busy holiday season, here are some winter safety tips for people living with disAbilities.

Function Over Fashion
Dress in layers. Air gets trapped between the layers and acts as insulation. Wearing multiple layers of clothing also gives you the ability to remove layers when you perspire or add them when you get chilled.

Try to avoid wearing cotton clothing, as it will stay wet once it gets wet. Consider moisture wicking, polypropylene and other lightweight, man-made fabrics.

Wear warm gloves. Gripper driving gloves not only keep your hands warm but can help prevent slipping when sleet or ice stick to wheelchairs and other surfaces. Carry an extra pair of gloves with you, in case one pair gets wet.

Protect Your Face
Use sunscreen. People don’t think about it but when the sun reflects off of snow, severe sunburns can occur.

Another good idea is to use Vaseline on exposed areas of your face. It helps prevent your face from getting dry or chapped by acting as a moisture insulator.

Getting Around
Using a wheelchair in snow can be very strenuous, especially if you’re not accustomed to it. Always be careful when maneuvering through the snow, as the extra exertion could have negative effects on your body. If possible, have somebody with you to help.

Pneumatic tires or those made from soft rubber can give wheelchairs better traction on snow and ice. An alternative is to use mountain bike tires that have knobby treads.

Always take your time on slippery surfaces so you don’t go into a slide and lose control. Be especially mindful while driving a mobility vehicle and keep winter driving tips for maneuvering over slush, ice and snow in mind.

Batteries can lose 60% of their charge when temps get cold, so keep them warm with covers.

Make sure you take proper care of your handicap accessible vehicle by following the appropriate winter car-care suggestions.

Don’t Forget Your Pets
Dogs can suffer from hypothermia and frostbite, too. If you’re accompanied by a service animal or taking a pet outside, consider a dog coat and boots for their feet. It’s also a good idea to keep a blanket in your vehicle for your pet.

Paratransit Services

Paratransit Services have vastly changed the way individuals with disAbilities get around their hometown, increasing both their freedom and independence to travel where they want, when they want.

What Is Paratransit?
Paratransit is a specialized, door-to-door transport service for people with disabilities who are not able to ride fixed-route public transportation. This may be due to an inability to:

  • Board, ride or disembark independently from any readily accessible vehicle on the regular fixed-route system.
  • Access existing accessible fixed-route transportation because that transportation is not available at the needed time on that route.
  • Get to boarding/alighting locations of regular public transportation.

Typically, paratransit is provided in a demand-responsive mode (i.e., the person with a disAbility must make a telephone call to arrange service).

The passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990 recognized that people with disAbilities have the same rights as other citizens to access services and facilities that are available to the public, including transportation. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is responsible for the enforcement of ADA’s transportation requirements.

Eligibility Requirements
Since most true paratransit services are subsidized by federal, state or county governments, or other municipal agencies, users must be able to meet one of the following three eligibility requirements. (Note: Individuals may be eligible for paratransit on the basis of a permanent or temporary disability. The individual must meet one of the three eligibility criteria, whether permanently or for a limited period of time.)

Category 1:
Individuals who are unable, because of a physical or mental impairment, to board, ride or disembark independently from any readily accessible vehicle on the regular fixed-route system. Among others, this category includes people with mental or visual impairments who, as a result of their disability, cannot navigate the system. This means that, if an individual needs an attendant to board, ride or disembark from an accessible fixed-route vehicle (including navigating the system), the individual is eligible for paratransit.

Category 2:
Also eligible are those people with a physical or mental impairment who could use accessible fixed-route transportation, but the accessible fixed-route transportation is not available at the needed time on a particular route (the accessible vehicle is down for maintenance, the lift cannot be deployed, etc.).

Category 3:
Any individual with a specific impairment-related condition that prevents that person from traveling to a boarding location or from a disembarking location on the system. In this case, the impairment must prevent travel to or from a fixed-route stop. Significant inconvenience or difficulty does not form a basis for eligibility under this section. Further, barriers not under control of the public entity providing the fixed-route service (such as distance or weather) do not by themselves form a basis for eligibility under this section. These situations are resolved on a case-by-case basis, determined by evaluating the interaction between the impairment-related condition and the barrier in question.

Costs
Again, since most true paratransit services are subsidized, the cost to the rider can be very low, as opposed, for example, to the cost of an accessible commercial taxi or limousine service, which provides door-to-door service but does not qualify as a true paratransit service. It should be noted that Medicare does not pay for transportation services except in the case of emergency.

When you contact a paratransit service through one of the methods outlined below, you should specifically request information about such things as cost per trip, advance notice requirements, scheduling of return transportation, etc.

Increase Your Awareness On DisAbilities

Anyone, at any time, could acquire a disAbility. We see, read and hear about it almost every day. So, we must educate ourselves and learn what those with disAbilities need us to understand:

  • DisAbilities affect many lives and most people do their best to enjoy their lives. No need to feel sorry.
  • Don’t refer to the person as a disAbled person or handicapped, a better term to use is person with a disAbility.
  • Just seeing the disAbility is wrong. They are people with different abilities.
    · The person will always be who they are. What they like, feel, care about and know is not defined by the their challenges.
    · We each have different frames of mind. Interact with the person, not the disAbility.
  • Parking spaces are valuable. Using an accessible space when you don’t need it is highly frowned upon.
  • Don’t push or touch a wheelchair unless you ask first. Some people may take offense of you trying to help, others may be grateful.
  • Always respect personal space.
  • Don’t ask a person in a wheelchair to hold things for you.
  • When speaking at length with someone in a wheelchair, if available grab a seat or kneel down so you are on the same level and can hear you better.
  • Always talking about the disAbility or referring to it is annoying and uncomfortable.
    · DisAbilities should not always be the topic of discussion.
    · You don’t have to be scared, or feel you have to know the “right” thing to say. Being honest and real is enough.
  • Although some may be physically constrained, that doesn’t mean they don’t have something to contribute, or ways in which they can be involved.
    · Being involved and a part of everyday, regular life is important.
    · Just because a person looks or appears like they don’t understand, doesn’t mean they don’t.
  • Think before you speak and act.

 Simply understanding and seeking further knowledge about things you are not sure of is key. People with disAbilities want to  and should be treated as equals. This is why broadening everyone’s knowledge on disabilities is important. NMEDA’s awareness campaign, National Mobility Awareness Month (in May), helps show folks that seniors and people with disAbilities can live active, mobile lifestyles – a need we understand. We hope to educate people on different disAbilities and, in turn, hope that more people will become aware and spread the knowledge.

Financing A Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle

One of the top reasons people with disAbilities don’t own adequate transportation is because they cannot afford it. The good news is there are a variety of options to consider when you’re looking for financing to purchase a wheelchair accessible vehicle. Don’t hesitate to do your homework and pursue all the possibilities that might be available out there. In addition to the traditional financing sources available from a vehicle dealership you may also want to consider:

Third Party Sources
There are numerous nonprofit groups and funding programs that can provide funding for a wheelchair accessible vehicle. But you will need to do your research to find out who can help. For example, the Muscular Dystrophy Family Foundation might be able to help if you have Muscular Dystrophy or United Cerebral Palsy may be able to assist with resources if you have Cerebral Palsy. Other philanthropic groups like the Masons, the Jaycees, and Easter Seals may provide assistance, as well.

The PASS Program
If you are on Social Security Income (SSI), you may want to take a look at the PASS Program. PASS stands for Plan to Achieve Self Success and is a program that provides the resources to help you reach a predetermined goal. For example, if you said you needed a wheelchair accessible vehicle to get to work or to attend school, the money for the vehicle would be provided each month to cover the payments.

Fundraisers
They may not be for everyone, but they can be effective and many people have successfully raised the money to pay for a wheelchair accessible vehicle with a fundraiser. Fundraising events can be held by family, friends, schools, churches, just about anyone who can rally a group of people together to work and contribute towards your cause.

Vocational Rehabilitation
Assistance will vary depending on where you live but the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services in your state may be able to help pay for the modifications to your vehicle. Many of the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) may also offer financial assistance.

Adaptive Equipment Solutions To Help Arthritic Drivers and Others

People with severe arthritis, people with Muscular Sclerosis, Muscular Dystrophy and others with disAbilities can drive again with the help of a mobility equipment expert. To find the specific product solution for your driving challenges, consult with a Physical or Occupational Therapist, Driver Rehabilitation Specialist and a Mobility dealer. Here are just a few adaptive mobility devices that they may recommend to keep you on the road.

If your hands are too weak to turn the steering wheel, there’s a solution:

  • Joystick Driving Systems allow one-hand operation of brake, accelerator and steering and only require ounces of pressure to use.

If you can’t reach controls on your dashboard or steering wheel, there’s a solution:

  • Remote Wiper, Horn, Dimmer Switch, Signals and Headlight Controls. This control relocates these functions to a more reachable location. The driver uses a switch with the hand, elbow, head or knee.

If you have leg spasms, there’s a solution:

  • Pedal Block (for gas and brake) guards against inadvertent engagement of gas or the brakes due to a spasm.

Questions To Ask Yourself When Searching For a Mobility Specialist Dealer

Now that you have made the decision to purchase a wheelchair accessible vehicle, you need to shop around for the best provider. Many people turn to a mobility specialist dealer. Here are some considerations you may want to keep in mind when doing your research and shopping.

Stock
What vehicle brands does the dealer offer? Do they have a wide-range of vehicles for you to choose from? Do they provide both new and used choices? Do they convert other vehicles besides vans, like SUVs and trucks?

Range of Conversions
Does the company offer the ramp and product options that are specified to your needs? Do their vehicles provide the safety features and equipment you need?

Aesthetics
Which vehicle best fits your personality and will keep you happy in the long run?

Location
Is the dealer close to where you live?

Funds and Financing
Is purchasing from this provider beneficial to you in terms of cost? Do they provide a range of priced vehicles, or are all of their products around the same price?

Reviews
What have others said about this company? Are they a reputable dealer or have they had issues? Does the dealer provide feedback from previous customers or is it hard to find customer reviews?

On-Site Evaluations
In addition to the evaluation from a Certified Rehabilitation Specialist, will I receive another evaluation from the dealer? How will they know the equipment will fit properly? Will it be safe for me to drive?

Training
Once I have purchased my vehicle, how will I learn to use my new equipment? Will the dealer provide me training? Will they be available to address any questions I may have regarding the use of my equipment?

Customer Care
What does the company provide for you? Do they offer incentives like 24-hour local emergency service, warranties and/or trained Ability Specialists that can help you in your decision?

Dealers
Is the mobility specialist well informed and up-to-date on the technical skills necessary in today’s mobility market? Do they belong to the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association – the industry association for safe and reliable transportation options for people with disabilities?

Each of these factors are important to consider during the buying process.

Airport Travel Tips for Wheelchair Users

Architectural designers have made access to airports far easier these days for those using wheelchair accessible vehicles.  Traveling can be stressful for any individual, but the airport crowds and airplane accessibility can be even more challenging for travelers with disAbilities. While the process will never be completely hassle-free for anyone, we have compiled a list of pointers that we feel may alleviate some of the stress involved in air travel.

Security Checkpoints
Before flying, its always a good idea to do the research and educate yourself on the procedures you or your loved one in a wheelchair will encounter with TSA screenings.  Instead of being asked to pass through the scanner, TSA regulations call for wheelchair users to submit to a pat down.  If you are uncomfortable with this procedure, you are welcome to ask for a private screening.  TSA agents will be able to assist you, if necessary, with removing your shoes or placing any extraneous items on the x-ray belt.  More in depth information is available on TSA policies and procedures for travelers with disAbilities and medical conditions.

Boarding and De-Boarding the Aircraft
Airplanes are wheelchair accessible vehicles, but it is wise to arrive early enough to your gate (recommended time is about an hour in advance) to get you and your wheelchair checked in for your flight. In this process, be absolutely sure that your chair has been tagged. This ensures that your chair reaches your final destination with you. You may also request to pre-board your flight so that you have ample time and room to be comfortably seated before the crowd files onto the plane. Know that you will be the first on the plane, but the last to de-board after all the other passengers have excited the aircraft.

Car Rental
If you will be renting any wheelchair accessible vehicles with hand controls, know that you should order your vehicle at least 48 hours in advance to ensure the proper vehicle is ready when you reach your destination. Additionally, do your homework ahead of time to ensure you’re working with a car rental company located inside the airport if at all possible. This prevents the hassle of reaching the car rental station via bus or tram.

We strongly encourage you to call your airline and car rental companies in the beginning of your travel planning process in order to explain the equipment you will be traveling with, and make the best arrangements possible to allow for smooth travels.

Benefits Of Owning A Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle

With adaptive technologies emerging each year, mobility vehicles have become more powerful than ever before. These handicap solutions have changed the lives of countless persons with disAbilities and helped alleviate some of the everyday challenges of just as many caregivers. If you’ve been considering the addition of a wheelchair accessible vehicle to your family, here are three ways in which owning a handicap van or car can empower you and transform your entire life.

Safety
Whether you’re a person with a disAbility, a dedicated caregiver or an able-bodied family member, safety is a universal concern and one of the main benefits of owning a vehicle designed for adaptive use. Besides power wheelchair lifts and transfer seating options, these vehicles are built to be used by persons with limited mobility, meaning they have been modified to be a secure transportation solution. Additionally, the high-quality equipment used in handicap van conversions reduces the risk of injury while getting in and out of the vehicle, as well as transferring from a wheelchair to a built-in seat. With wheelchair ties, in-floor ramps and alternative restraint options, a wheelchair accessible van can provide the added safety you need to feel confident on the road.

Freedom
For many people, owning a mobility vehicle means having the freedom to be able to go anywhere, any time. Often, persons with physical disAbilities are able to operate a handicap accessible car or van independently, without the need to have a caregiver help them in and out of the vehicle. Thanks to lifts, ramps and transfer seats, as well as hand controls and other conversion options, wheelchair vans have helped countless individuals regain their freedom after an injury or due to a medical condition, transforming their lives for the better.

Accessibility and Ease of Use
Automatic ramp systems, in-floor ramp technology, low-effort steering and many other adaptive conversion possibilities make operating mobility vehicles simple and convenient. This accessibility not only makes these vehicles easy to grow accustomed to, it also prevents injuries that can occur if the proper equipment is not utilized. Practicality and usability are two huge benefits of owning a wheelchair accessible vehicle, as they make getting from point A to point B a seamless and enjoyable process.

Ready to begin your search for the perfect wheelchair accessible vehicle? Contact us or your local NMEDA dealer today to discuss the purchasing process and the best options for your needs.

Steer Yourself In The Right Direction To Find The Perfect Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle

Purchasing or financing a wheelchair accessible vehicle takes time, money and a little bit of research. Because of the many available options when it comes to handicap vehicles, and the investment they require, knowing where to start your search is crucial and can shape the entire process. NMEDA member dealers work with individuals with disAbilities, as well as their caregivers and families, to ensure we steer you in the direction of the perfect vehicle for you. Here are a few useful tips and resources:

Go to the Pros
By going straight to a NMEDA members dealership, like ourselves, you’ll be sure that you’re getting the best possible care and attention, as well as professional service. All dealerships are required to adhere to strict quality standards under our Quality Assurance Program and, will provide you with the best solutions for your specific needs. Starting your search at a NMEDA dealer near you means you are sure you get behind the wheel of a handicap vehicle that’s right for you.

Establish Your Needs
Who will be the vehicle’s primary driver? Will you be driving from a wheelchair, transferring into the vehicle’s seat or transporting a loved one with a disability? Will you need to enter and exit the vehicle on your own or will help be nearby? Are you looking for a truck, car, minivan or a SUV? The answers to these questions can help determine what kind of adapted vehicle and equipment you need before diving into inventory listings.

Know Your Budget
We know that one of the most difficult parts of purchasing a new vehicle is making sure the cost is within your means. When it comes to finding a wheelchair accessible or adaptive vehicle, there are more options than you might realize. There are several state and government organizations in place to help get you the car you need.

Home accessibility

Whether it’s an unexpected injury or a birth condition, a temporary disAbility or something you’ve been dealing with your entire life, a physical limitation can make all the difference in how a person completes his/her everyday tasks. Something as simple as entering and exiting your home can become challenging if your home has not been properly assessed and made accessible for those with disAbilities. In order to make sure your home is as welcoming and as accessible as possible, we encourage you follow these tips for transforming your habitat.

Entry Ramps and Lifts
From one step to one flight, stairs are a difficult hurdle and hazardous to a person living with a disAbility. Entry ramps or wheelchair lifts can be permanent or portable solutions for homes in need of becoming wheelchair accessible, providing ease of access into the house. Entry ramps prove to be especially beneficial when carrying heavy luggage, groceries or moving furniture. Aside from allowing a wheelchair user to easily enter and exit the building, ramps offer convenience to guests wheeling strollers or using walkers.

Handrails and Support Bars
Installing handrails and support bars along staircases, bathtubs, toilets and other areas where a person with a disAbility may struggle without them is an easy way to make your home more accessible. Make sure handrails following staircases extend beyond the first and last steps, providing maximum support. You can also purchase floor-to-ceiling poles and install them at various locations throughout the home. Placing these poles adjacent to couches ease in day-to-day movement through the space. They are designed to aid those with disAbilities in standing, sitting or transferring to/from a wheelchair.

Mind Your Floors
Cluttered hallways, loose rugs and high thresholds can be a danger to someone trying to maneuver through the building in a wheelchair. Try to keep your traffic areas free from unnecessary decorations such as side tables and rugs that cannot be secured to the floor. Plush carpets may also prove to be a hindrance for someone with a disAbility, so use hardwood or tiled floors wherever possible. Additionally, you can purchase flat thresholds at hardware stores, which make transferring from carpeted to non-carpeted areas less of a hazard.

Culinary Arts Adapted

Ready to take the heat again? Think it’s time to get back in the kitchen? Whether you miss tending to a fiery passion for food or you’re tired of day-old delivery, dreams of putting a pan back in your hand can quickly become a reality again.

People with disAbilities might initially shy away from seemingly difficult hobbies or chores. But the chances are high that they are also unaware of the exciting alternatives available in the adaptive community. Your cooking days are not over simply because you are seated in the kitchen. In fact, adaptive cooking classes often require that instructors (those not living with a disAbility) perform culinary tasks just as their respective students would.

More important than pursuing or renewing a passion for cooking is the nutritional and financial value in preparing your own meals. Now more than ever, we are reminded on a daily basis of the financial climate we live in. Preparing your own meals at home helps you save money and empower you to eat more nutritious foods, cooked to your liking. So, make yourself at home in the kitchen with ease with a little help from gadgets and gizmos like the one-handed bottle opener, one-handed can opener, and self-stirring cookware. Cut your favorite fruits and veggies with a specially crafted cutting board and you’re well on your way to whipping up your favorite meal, on your own.

If you’re not a hot shot in the kitchen, but you want to be, ask local community centers if they offer adaptive cooking classes. Who knows, this could be your chance to start something new and exciting for your friends to enjoy. All it takes is willing participants, and who doesn’t like food?

Sled Hockey: A Sport For All Abilities

Sled Hockey - A Sport For All Abilities

The popularity of sled hockey is on the rise.
Many DSUSA chapters offer sled hockey opportunities, as do other independent clubs across the country.  The sport received a huge boost when USA Hockey took over as the national governing body for sled hockey and sled hockey programs. For the past 10 years, USA Hockey-sponsored sled hockey programs have sprung up across the U. S., with the national team selected by the organization. Also fueling interest in the sport is the National Hockey League (NHL), which hosted the first USA Hockey Sled Classic in Littleton, Colo., and Denver this past October. Four teams made up of 46 players, many on current and recent U.S. national team rosters, played under their NHL affiliate’s jersey – Colorado Avalanche, Chicago Blackhawks, Philadelphia Flyers, and Pittsburgh Penguins. Organizers hope to ultimately have all 32 NHL teams represented in future Sled Classics. And let’s not forget the U.S. Sled Hockey team which won gold in the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games in Vancouver. Amputee goalie Steve Cash, who didn’t allow a single goal in five games, won an ESPN ESPY award for Best Male Athlete with a DisAbility.

Who Can Play
Sled hockey is played by a wide range of players with a variety of mobility limitations:  amputees, spinal cord injuries, spina bifida, along with anyone who has a permanent disAbility that limits participation in stand up hockey.  In addition, with the exception of the highest level of competition, non-disAbled players are encouraged to participate.

“To play sled hockey, the only requirement is that you have a disAbility that prohibits you from playing stand up. That makes it very broad,” said Tom Carr, CTRS/L, assistant director of outreach and athletics, at Northeast Passage.

Northeast Passage, DSUSA’s Chapter in New Hampshire, has a thriving sled hockey program that attracts as many as 200 participants throughout the winter season. “As a team sport, it’s one of the fastest growing,” Carr said.

Part of its appeal is that there is little difference between sled hockey and stand up hockey in how the game is played. “It’s fast-paced and a full contact sport. The main difference is it’s played on a sled,” he said.

Sled hockey is a great form of exercise and fitness. It increases strength and coordination and also conditions the upper body. The balance used to propel, play the puck, and turn and stop gives arms, back and abdominal muscles a workout.  Those who play regularly quickly notice an increase in overall strength and balance both on and off the ice.

Necessity is the Mother of Invention
Sled hockey had its beginning in the early 1960s when some enterprising athletes at a physical rehabilitation center in Sweden wanted to play the game. The men modified a metal frame sled with two regular-sized ice hockey skate blades that allowed the puck to pass underneath. Their hockey sticks were round poles with bike handles.

The growth of the sport was slow to develop but by 1969, Stockholm had a five-team league that included both disAbled and able-bodied players. Ice sled hockey was first demonstrated at the Paralympic Winter Games in Sweden in 1976, and then again at the 1988 Innsbruck Paralympics. It became an official event at the 1994 Lillehammer Paralympics.

The game and equipment
Unless there is a penalty, there are six players for each team – three forwards, two defensemen, and a goalie. Substitutes may be made when play is stopped, or on the fly.  Previously, periods were 15 minutes in length, but this year they have been increased to 20 minutes, the same as stand up hockey. Play is on a regulation sized ice rink with standard size nets and puck. Checking and high-speed slapshots are common features of the sport.

Carr noted that sled hockey players typically own their own sleds for the best customized fit.  “Once someone gets into the sport, they want and need their own equipment,” he said. Players can get a basic hockey sled and pair of sticks for (approximately) $1,000.

Sleds are usually made of light-gauge aluminum, consisting of a customized “bucket” to sit in. A backrest can be used depending on the ability of the athlete. A frame supports the bucket, legs and feet, and is mounted on two skate blades attached under the bucket.  Athletes with double amputations tend to have an advantage here, since they can use shorter sleds with no leg supports, resulting in a smaller turn radius.

Instead of one hockey stick, players use two for propulsion, passing and shooting.  The sticks may be up to 100 cm long but are usually between 75-95 cm and can be wood, aluminum, or composite materials. The sticks have metal picks on one end for players to propel themselves.

“It helps if you have decent upper body strength and hand grip, but even then there are modifications and adaptations that can be made,” Carr said.  “Even those with limited grip can have sticks secured to their hands allowing them to participate.”

Players are outfitted with a hockey helmet, gloves, and body protection. Goalies wear basically the same equipment but do make modifications to the glove; metal picks are attached to the backside allowing the goalie to maneuver.

Sled hockey has a relatively small number of equipment suppliers to provide the sleds, sticks and picks that are unique to sled hockey. All other hockey equipment that is necessary such as helmets, gloves, etc. can be bought from any other stand up hockey equipment supplier.

Things You Should Know Before Renting a Wheelchair Accessible Van

Whether your own wheelchair accessible vehicle is undergoing repairs or modifications or you’re testing the adaptive automobile waters before taking the plunge with the purchase of one, renting a Wheelchair Accessible Van is an affordable, convenient and comfortable way of improving your mobility.

If you’re looking to rent this type of vehicle, these are some good tips to keep in mind.

How Much Does It Cost To Rent A Handicap Van?
If you’re all about saving your pennies, there are many ways to reduce the cost of renting a wheelchair accessible van. Here are just a few:

  • Avoid renting an accessible vehicle airport. Enjoy lower taxes and minimal fees by going to a dealer or rental agency outside the airport grounds.
  • Reserve online whenever possible to take advantage of special offers.
  • Fill up the tank before returning the vehicle. More often than not, this will be less expensive than paying the fill-up fee or pre-paying for gas at the rental agency.
  • Don’t double up on insurance. If your personal auto insurance already covers you for rentals, make sure you don’t sign up for redundant coverage.

Where to Go
Many mobility dealers maintain a fleet of accessible cars or conversion vans for rental purposes. Identify and contact the location nearest you to find out if they have handicap vehicles available to meet your needs. There are also a number of companies that specialize in accessible rental vehicles.

When to Rent
A wheelchair accessible van or car can transform the lives of people with disabilities or temporary mobility impairment. Renting a wheelchair accessible vehicle can be particularly helpful when:

  • Your current wheelchair accessible vehicle requires repairs or maintenance over a period of multiple days.
  • You’re going on a road trip or long ride – a rented wheelchair accessible vehicle can make these much more comfortable. Even if you own a wheelchair accessible vehicle, you might still consider renting a vehicle in order to avoid putting the mileage and wear on your own van.
  • A loved one or family member with a disability visits. If you don’t own an accessible vehicle, renting a wheelchair accessible vehicle can facilitate transporting your friends and family.

The History of the Wheelchair

From its early inception to modern design, the world of wheelchairs and mobility solutions has rolled through a very interesting evolution.

We live in a day and age where technology has forged the reality of power chairs, smart chairs and beyond, but history tells us the first known wheelchair, then known as the invalids chair, has developed into an extremely useful resource for people with disAbilities and has fostered a simultaneous campaign to raise awareness and understanding for its users.

The Early Days
It’s predicted that the very first renditions of the wheelchair rolled out in China, though Phillip II of Spain is largely attributed to its mainstream acceptance. Spanish inventors designed the chair for Phillip II, who was suffering from Gout.

No surprise that royalty got its own renditions.

As for the commonwealth, mobility solutions were largely the responsibility of the families and servants of the loved one with a disAbility or up to the individual with the disAbility, themselves. German watchmaker and paraplegic, Stephan Farfler was one such individual who designed a personal solution in 1665. Farfler engineered a hand cranked tricycle — called the manumotive carriage — which is said to have also inspired modern day bicycles.

Bath Chairs and Beyond
In 1783, Englishmen John Dawson invented another three wheeled rendition which he so creatively named the Bath Chair, after the town of Bath, England. The contraption appeared somewhat reminiscent of old-fashioned bathtubs and could be drawn by animals or pushed by hand.

By the late 1800s however, the clunky Bath Chairs were due for a revisit and patents started surfacing for chairs that utilized two larger wheels in the back and smaller casters in front to achieve maneuverability and better comfort for its users. Rubber wheels and pushrims were also added for self-propulsion and independent use.

Wheelchairs as We Know Them
At the turn of the 20th century, wheelchairs began to take the shape of our common perceptions, largely influenced by their need for wounded soldiers and veterans, ripples of the early modern warfare. During these years of conflict, the world experienced an influx in amputations and battle wounds that sparked a growing need for mobility solutions.

In 1916, British inventors were already designing early power chairs and in 1932, Harry Jennings engineered the world’s first folding wheelchair out of tubular steel.

Following the Second World War, Canadian inventor, George Klein, pioneered the world’s first electric power chair to enable veterans returning from battle.

Nowadays technology has empowered wheelchair conversion vans, electric lifts for people with disAbilities, prototype exoskeletons and beyond. From its humble beginnings to modern marvels, the history of wheelchairs has made a grand impact on the world around us.

Accessibility in the Workplace

With more and more people with disAbilities entering the workforce each year, the demand for increased accessibility on job sites continues to grow. While many places of employment adhere to ADA standards, there are other things to consider when looking to improve accessibility. If you’ve just started a new job or have found certain difficulties completing your duties at your current position, these two strategies can help better problematic situations.

Speak Up and Ask About Accessibility
Perhaps the building’s entrance is equipped with a ramp and automatic door opener but the door to your office or company suite is not. Maybe the accessible bathroom or stall is too small and difficult to maneuver in, or your cubicle doesn’t allow you to make turns in your chair. Most of these issues have relatively simple solutions and employers shouldn’t be hesitant to requesting changes to the building manager or scheduling the updates themselves. However, if you do not speak up and report these issues, they might go permanently unnoticed. Even if you find that your employer is not convinced that the changes are necessary, be sure to stress to them that workers are likely to be much more productive in an environment they can easily access and feel comfortable in.

If You Have a Disability Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help
While we wish every single building or office in the world was 100 percent accessible, sometimes people with disAbilities must work around unavoidable barriers. If you find that there are aspects or areas of your job that you cannot independently complete or access, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Whether it’s by opening a heavy door or carrying your laptop to the conference room, most of your colleagues would be happy to be of assistance. It might be especially helpful to designate a routine for a specific co-worker to help with a task you know you’ll be performing each day.

Whether it’s your first job or where you plan to retire, your place of employment should be comfortable and accessible – an environment in which you can thrive. Report issues and ask for help whenever you need it and you’ll be working towards a fulfilling and rewarding career.

Roadside Assistance for Drivers with DisAbilities

Getting stuck on the side of the road due to a vehicle malfunction can be a major inconvenience and can keep you from achieving your goals for the day. For a person with a disAbility driving an adaptive or wheelchair accessible vehicle, this inconvenience can quickly become a big problem.

Coverage
Make sure you select coverage that follows you from vehicle to vehicle. In other words, even if you are driving a rental or a family member’s car, under this coverage, you will be entitled to roadside assistance.

Towing
Finding out the details in advance when it comes to towing can make a significant difference if you ever find yourself stranded. Will they provide an accessible vehicle for transportation? Will they tow your vehicle to a dealership or to the place of your choosing, such as a repair shop? What are the mileage limits? These are all questions you’ll need the answers to prior to settling on a provider, as they will determine the efficiency of the service.

Additional Services
From help locating hotels to maps and directions, roadside assistance plans can come bundled with a wide variety of additional services. Analyze the plans the provider offers to make sure you’re only paying for the services you might need to use.

Something to Think About
If you are a wheelchair user who drives his or her own vehicle, you might want to consider choosing a provider that caters specifically to persons with disAbilities.

 Drivers with or without disAbilities should consider purchasing a roadside assistance program to protect them in the event of an unforeseen vehicle malfunction. Determining the best option for you may be tricky, but keeping these things in mind may make the decision a bit easier.

Rett Syndrome Awareness

What is Rett Syndrome?
Rett syndrome is a postnatal neurological disorder seen almost always in girls, but can be rarely seen in boys. It is not a degenerative disorder.

Rett syndrome is caused by mutations on the X chromosome on a gene called MECP2. There are more than 200 different mutations found on the MECP2 gene. Most of these mutations are found in eight different “hot spots.”

Rett syndrome strikes all racial and ethnic groups, and occurs worldwide in 1 of every 10,000 to 23,000 female births.

Rett syndrome causes problems in brain function that are responsible for cognitive, sensory, emotional, motor and autonomic function. These can include learning, speech, sensory sensations, mood, movement, breathing, cardiac function, and even chewing, swallowing, and digestion.

Rett syndrome symptoms appear after an early period of apparently normal or near normal development until six to eighteen months of life, when there is a slowing down or stagnation of skills. A period of regression then follows when she loses communication skills and purposeful use of her hands. Soon, stereotyped hand movements such as handwashing, gait disturbances, and slowing of the normal rate of head growth become apparent. Other problems may include seizures and disorganized breathing patterns while she is awake. In the early years, there may be a period of isolation or withdrawal when she is irritable and cries inconsolably. Over time, motor problems may increase, but in general, irritability lessens and eye contact and communication improve.

Rett syndrome can present with a wide range of disability ranging from mild to severe. The course and severity of Rett syndrome is determined by the location, type and severity of her mutation and X-inactivation. Therefore, two girls of the same age with the same mutation can appear quite different.


Testing and Diagnosis
Rett syndrome is most often misdiagnosed as autism, cerebral palsy, or non-specific developmental delay. In the past, making the correct diagnosis called not only for a long list of diagnostic tests and procedures to rule out other disorders, but it also took from months to years waiting to confirm the diagnosis as new symptoms appeared over time. Today, we have a simple blood test to confirm the diagnosis. However, since we know that the MECP2 mutation is also seen in other disorders, the presence of the MECP2 mutation in itself is not enough for the diagnosis of Rett syndrome. Diagnosis requires either the presence of the mutation (a molecular diagnosis) or fulfillment of the diagnostic criteria (a clinical diagnosis, based on signs and symptoms that you can observe) or both. Below is a list of labs to share with your ordering physician that can do the MECP2 sequencing + deletion analysis, and the list of diagnostic criteria.

Stay Active with a Disability: Quick tips

Regular physical activity provides important health benefits for everyone, including people with disabilities. Getting active can help you:

  • Strengthen your heart
  • Build strong muscles and bones
  • Improve coordination
  • Relieve stress, improve your mood, and feel better about yourself

Before you begin…

  • Talk to your doctor about the types and amounts of physical activity that are right for you. If you are taking medicine, be sure to find out how it will affect your physical activity.
  • It’s also a good idea to talk to a trained exercise professional. Find a fitness center near you that is comfortable and accessible. Ask if they have experience working with people with similar disabilities.

Aim for 2 hours and 30 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activities.

  • These include walking fast or pushing yourself in a wheelchair, swimming, raking leaves, or other activities that make your heart beat faster.
  • Start slowly. Be active for at least 10 minutes at a time.

Do strengthening activities 2 days a week.

  • These include sit-ups, push-ups, or lifting weights.
  • Try working on the muscles that you use less often because of your disability.

Find support and stick with it.

  • Take along a friend, especially if you are trying out a new activity.
  • If you don’t meet your physical activity goal, don’t give up. Start again tomorrow.
  • Be active according to your abilities. Remember, some physical activity is better than none!

Beginner’s Tips: Searching for the Right Wheelchair Van

If you’re a first-time buyer looking to purchase a wheelchair accessible vehicle things might seem a little overwhelming at first. You most likely have some questions and concerns when starting out, and that’s fine. We have several mobility vehicle experts/dealers and resources available to help you along the way.

Still, there’s never any harm in getting informed before you step onto your first lot as you look for a handicap van that meets your needs. Being equipped with information when you start looking for a mobility van will help you make a well-informed decision. It will also help you better express to us exactly what you are looking for.

There are a few basic pieces of information that can help you make your decision and learn more about accessible vans. Before heading out to shop around, there are some things you can to do prepare for your search.

  • Think about the options and features you are going to need in order to travel comfortably and without any hassle. This will give you a better idea of what sort of van you need while also giving a glimpse of what sort of price range you might be looking at.
  • Consider whether or not you’ll routinely have passengers such as family and friends and the room they might need.
  • Be realistic about the budget you have to work with. There is no sense in making another headache later on with a vehicle payment you can’t afford.

In addition to these tips, there are also several ways you can make the process easier outside of home. First and foremost, you could talk with one of our mobility consultants/experts to find out about benefits and features available to you in regards to whatever disability you may have.

We will let you try out a van before any money is put down. Take advantage of this opportunity to find out more about certain features and options that may suit your needs. Most of all, make sure you can ride comfortably.

Respect Accessible Spaces

Going out in public is often riddled with obstacles for people with disAbilities. While this is largely due to inaccessible structures like stairs and narrow doors, so many unnecessary barriers are created by able-bodied people who place themselves where they shouldn’t be. That’s not to say that someone with a disAbility has special privileges. Rather, reserved access locations are intended to give people with disAbilities equal opportunities to experience the world around them. Here are some accessible places where able-bodied people should not be:

Handicap Parking Spaces
By far, the most frustrating obstacle put in place by able-bodied people is parking illegally in handicap accessible parking spaces. Though often thought that handicap parking is one of the “perks” of having a disAbility, the reality is that it’s a necessity, not a convenience. Most people with a disAbility get around in a wheelchair accessible vehicle that’s adapted with either a foldout/in-floor ramp or a lift so they can easily get in and out of their vehicle. If they don’t have access to a parking spot with enough space, there is literally no (safe) way for them to get out of their vehicles, which directly prevents them from getting where they need to go.

There are countless times when entering many parking lots that you’ll find that the only accessible spots are occupied by someone who doesn’t have a proper license plate or a permit. It is also common that vehicles park illegally in the white/blue lines next to the accessible spots making it impossible for the owner to access their vehicle which leaves them stranded.

Parking illegally in a handicap spot denies an important means of access to all people who legitimately need the accessible spaces. Able-bodied people have an entire parking lot full of spaces to choose from; disabled people usually only have a few accessible spaces. The accessible spaces are not there for the convenience of people who are lazy, or for people who claim they just needed to run into the store for a second. Illegal use of any part of a accessible parking space is inexcusable in any situation.

Accessible restroom stalls
While using the restroom at multiple locations you will find that most stalls are empty except the accessible one. Able-bodied people see the big, roomy bathroom open and are drawn to it; it’s understandable not wanting to be cramped into a small stall. However, using accessible bathroom facilities, especially when others are available, does demonstrate that people with disabilities aren’t in society’s conscience as being just as likely to be out in public as non-disabled people.

If every other stall is taken, it’s obviously okay to use it. But since people with disAbilities cannot physically get into regular sized restroom stalls, it’s not asking too much for able-bodied people to leave the one accessible bathroom option open when there are five other empty ones that are readily available.

Accessible shower stalls
Much like accessible bathroom stalls, there’s usually only one accessible shower facility in places like shared college dormitory restrooms and gym locker rooms. The accessible stalls are roomier and they often have a fold-down seat attached to the wall. Although this may be tempting for non-disabled people who want a shower with room to dance around or have a place to rest tired feet the accessible facilities are not intended for the convenience of able-bodied people.

Apparently, this is a hard concept for people. Frequently you’ll discover that every shower stall is empty except for the accessible one.  Unfortunately it seems that able-bodied people see accessible showers as a luxury, rather than realizing that they are a necessity for disAbled people.

Accessible dressing rooms
Most stores have a large dressing room that qualifies as “accessible.” Unfortunately, they are rarely, if ever, properly labeled or guarded by store employees. Hence, some of the worst offenders of able-bodied people who block public access are the ones who use accessible dressing rooms.

Some people who actually need the accessible stall have to wait for 15-20 minutes (give/take) while able-bodied people take their time in the only accessible dressing room, even though several other regular dressing rooms are available. Able-bodied people need to realize that they have fifteen dressing rooms to choose from while people with disAbilities, that actually need an accessible room, only have one option.

Respect Accessible Spaces
If you don’t have a disAbility, then next time you just have to grab a gallon of milk or try on a bunch of shirts, please reconsider and don’t take up the only reserved accessible places. Leaving accessible places open for the people who truly need them is a super simple way to promote inclusion and acceptance of the disAbled community.

Boston Abilities Expo 2014

Boston Abilities Expo 2014

Abilities Expo is a CELEBRATION of what you CAN DO

Imagine everything you need, all under one roof! For more than 30 years, Abilities Expo has been the go-to source for the Community of people with disabilities, their families, seniors, veterans and healthcare professionals. Every event opens your eyes to new technologies, new possibilities, new solutions and new opportunities to change your life. Where else can you discover ability-enhancing products and services, play a few adaptive sports, learn new dance moves, attend informative workshops and only scratch the surface of what Abilities Expo has to offer? Register for free today.

Adaptive Sports for People With Disabilities

People with disabilities are capable of anything they set their minds to — and sports are no exception.

Adaptive sports, otherwise known as para-sports or sports for people with disabilities, are just that. These sports promote mobility, community and excitement while offering physical benefits for people with disabilities.

Adaptive sports span a broad spectrum, from mild modifications on traditional games to the invention of brand new sports as a whole. Whether you’re a seasoned athlete or just looking to jump into the action for the first time, there’s sure to be a sport for you.

Traditional Adaptive Sports
Many adaptive sports are a nod of the cap to mainstream sports, such as basketball, soccer, baseball, tennis and hockey. Not surprisingly, there are youth and adult leagues for both individual options (like fishing, bowling and Bocce) and team activities.

General formats typically remain the same and may serve as a great entry point for newcomers to pull from their familiarity of the sport and its strategy. Joining a team is also a great way to make new friends, establish workout partners, find a carpool buddy and build community. Not to mention, sports are a great excuse to burn calories, and maybe even get some fresh air.

Interestingly enough, adaptive sports and their athletes have inspired brilliant technology for participants with disabilities. Whether you are paraplegic, blind or have some other disability, if you use a wheelchair, wear a brace, drive a mobility vehicle or have other equipment to accommodate your needs, para-sports have options for you. Adaptive technology is available for a wide range of sports and includes a variety of equipment, such as:

  • Ringing soccer balls
  • Forearm fishing supports
  • Retractable-handle bowling balls

The goal of this type of equipment is to provide you more independence and freedom so you can focus on the fun.

Adventurous Outdoor Para-Sports
If traditional is a bit too tame for your liking, many adventurous outdoor sports are also out there.

From horseback riding and biskiing, kayaking and even downhill biking, adaptive sports are conquering the court, the slopes and everything in between. Not unlike their traditional counterparts, adventure sports are a great way to reclaim range of motion, build muscle, clear the head and get a healthy kick of adrenaline from time to time.

Some athletes, like Aaron “Wheelz” Fotheringham (born with Spina Bifida), have even broken into the extreme sports venue, proving sometimes a wheelchair ramp can be inspiration for larger ramps.

Where to Start
It’s easy to start a new sport or join a team. As long as you keep a few of the fundamentals in mind, you’ll be having a blast in no time.

Here are some basics to help you dive in:

  • Search your community for leagues and events
  • Join a team and/or find a mentor (someone who can show you the ropes)
  • Upgrade your equipment if you’re really serious
  • Practice makes perfect

Remember that everyone had to start somewhere and athletic skill is often the accumulation of effort. What’s most important is a willingness to learn and a desire to have fun.

And chances are, there is a team somewhere looking for a person just like you!

How to Respectfully Communicate with People with Disabilities

The first steps of empowering and respectfully communicating with people with disabilities are making an effort and fine tuning awareness. There’s no absolute formula for compassion, but putting forth the effort — any effort, really — goes miles.

Recognize there are trigger words that often carry a deep connotation of disrespect and disregard for a magnitude of communities. Titles like “cripple,” “retard,” “slow” and “vegetable” carry vulgar consequence, but conversations surrounding people who have disabilities deserve a deeper level of understanding than simply avoiding a handful of hurtful words.

These people are humans, not disabilities.

Build, Don’t Box

Common tongue often highlights a person’s disabilities like the elephant in the room. A more active approach is to acknowledge and applaud one’s abilities. Focus on the person, not the disability. And, just like any of us, we each have our challenges but we don’t go around telling people we “suffer from” one thing or the other. This language would steal any sort of confidence that we might overcome our daily hurdles.

You wouldn’t say, “Joe’s a crippled, paraplegic banker with a handicap van.”

This approach confines Joe and his potential, boxing him into a stigma of predetermined deficiency.

“Joe is a banker with paraplegia who drives a mobility vehicle,” builds Joe as a capable human. Seeing Joe first and foremost as a person instead of a condition shows respect for his ample abilities.

Furthermore, it’s crucial to recognize individuals. Joe is Joe. Joe is not one of “the handicapped,” “the paraplegics” or any other all-inclusive term. Joe is one, able individual who has paraplegia. The condition does not define Joe, and though Joe may be proud and affiliated with communities who engage paraplegia, it’s best to allow Joe the opportunity to define those relations.

Never Stop Learning

Simply put: Don’t be afraid to ask. If you’re concerned you don’t know how to interact with people with disabilities, voicing your innocent naivety may be the wisest approach. Instead of shying away from the conversation and further alienating that person, seek out a respectful opportunity to ask about his or her story.

Take a stand to empower people with disabilities through your awareness, speech and understanding.

Teens with Disabilities: Learning to Drive A Handicap Accessible Vehicle

The majority of teenage kids will assert that learning to drive not only makes for an exciting experience but also marks a very important moment in life – moving a step closer towards achieving independence. Teens living with a disability are not exempt from this feeling. When it’s time to teach your child to drive, there are a few important things to keep in mind to ensure your child’s safety and the safety of others on the road.

Regardless of your age, preparedness is essential when it comes to driving. For those living with disabilities, the process of how you prepare can be slightly different, but it is certainly equally as important. Teens and new drivers with disabilities must complete a drivers’ assessment prior to beginning lessons in order to determine what sort of adaptive equipment or techniques he or she must use while driving. Steering aids, hand controls, or ramps/lifts may be necessary for your teen to be ready to get behind the wheel and recommendations will be made by the assessment administrator (most often by a certified driver rehabilitation specialist) after a proper exam.

While some teens will require little additional equipment in order to operate a vehicle, others may need more thorough vehicle conversions. If purchasing a new handicap accessible vehicle is not in your budget, there are used options available to suit your child’s needs, as well as rentals and loaners made available by some driving schools.

Qualified driving specialists will be able to relay information on your state’s driving laws for people with disabilities, how to operate the vehicle, as well as how to get in and out of the car without additional assistance, should they need to do so.

Throughout this journey towards adulthood, it’s vital that you remain your teen’s number one fan. A supporting and encouraging environment can dramatically improve your child’s outlook on taking on the road, raising their self-confidence and making them an overall better driver. Remember, learning how to drive takes time, but with your support, the expertise of driving coaches and the accessibility of a modified vehicle, your teen will be on his or her way to being a licensed driver!

Jobs Ideas for People with Disabilities

Finding a job when you have a disability can be a little bit of a challenge if you don’t know where to start. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits employers from rejecting qualified applicants because of a disability – but that doesn’t mean all companies have buildings designed to accommodate. If you have limited mobility and plan to work at an office, make sure the building is wheelchair-accessible before applying.

While all jobs may not be the best jobs for people with disabilities, there are definitely some options. Some jobs allow you to work from home while others require minimal movement throughout the day. If you have a disability that limits your mobility, but are in need of employment, try one of the following jobs for people in wheelchairs.

Work-from-Home
The most obvious job option for people in wheelchairs is one that allows you to work from home. This can include anything from medical transcription, data entry, technical support, freelance writing or graphic design, web development or even inbound sales.

Government Work
Since the government sets the standards that prohibit discrimination, it has some of the best jobs for people with disabilities. Many federal agencies even have recruiters specifically dedicated to helping people with disabilities find an appropriate position.

Mystery Shopper or Product Tester
Some stores and restaurants will hire secret shoppers to visit their establishment and rate the experience. These may be places you visit anyway, and if not, it might be a good opportunity to let the business know if they are lacking in accessibility. Other companies hire product testers to try out their new products, which can be done from the comfort of your home. Once you sign up, the company will send you products and pay you to provide reviews (bonus: free stuff!).

Call Center Employee
Many companies use call centers for customer service or sales. Call center workers can sometimes work from home, but even if they can’t, this job requires limited mobility throughout the day. If you have good communication skills and are comfortable with a computer, this is a great option, as companies seem to always be looking for call center employees.

Legal Secretaries, Legal Assistants or Paralegals
While these positions usually require certain training or schooling, if you have the qualifications, working in the legal field is a viable job option for people in wheelchairs. People in these positions generally work in an office and perform tasks that do not involve any physical labor. Plus, should you need to appear in court, most courthouses have the appropriate accommodations for wheelchair access.

2014 Red Book

2014 Red Book

Introducing the Red Book 2014

Purpose
of the
Red Book

One of the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) highest priorities is to support the efforts of disabled beneficiaries who want to work by developing policies and services to help them reach their employment goal. The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs include a number of employment support provisions commonly referred to as work incentives.

The Red Book is a general reference tool designed to provide a working knowledge of these provisions. We write the Red Book primarily for educators, advocates, rehabilitation professionals, and counselors who serve persons with disabilities. We also expect that applicants and beneficiaries will use it as a self-help guide.

The Red Book contains a general description of our disability-related policies. For information specific to your situation regarding eligibility or benefits, you may need to contact us. You will find our contact information on HOW TO REACH SOCIAL SECURITY.The Red Book, including the Spanish language version, is available online at www.socialsecurity.gov/redbook.

 

Purpose of Employment Supports

Congress intended the employment support provisions to provide you with the assistance you need to move from benefit dependency to independence. Employment supports help you to enter, re-enter, or stay in the workforce by protecting your eligibility for cash payments and/or health care until you achieve this goal.

Different rules apply to benefits based on retirement or age. We cover those rules in other publications. Most SSA publications and other public information materials are available at our Internet site, Social Security Online, located at www.socialsecurity.gov.

“Plain Language”

We tried to keep the Red Book clear and brief. We followed “Plain Language” guidelines. We generally use “we,” “us,” and “our” to refer collectively to SSA, the Social Security Act, our regulations, and operating instructions. We use “you” and “your” to refer to the person who is claiming benefits based on disability.

Previous Editions

This 2014 edition replaces all previous editions.

What’s New in 2014?

Automatic Adjustments Effective January 1, 2014

Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA)
The SGA amount for persons with disabilities other than blindness is $1,070 per month in 2014.

For persons who are blind, the amount of earnings that indicate SGA is $1,800 per month in 2014. Details on SGA are on HOW DO WE DEFINE DISABILITY.

Trial Work Period (TWP) Months
The monthly earnings amount that we use to determine if a month counts as a TWP month is $770 per month in 2014. Details on the TWP are on TRIAL WORK PERIOD.

Federal Benefit Rate (FBR)
For 2014, the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) FBR is $721 per month for an eligible individual and $1,082 per month for an eligible couple.

Student Earned-Income Exclusion (SEIE)
For 2014, the amount of earnings that will have no effect on eligibility or benefits for SSI beneficiaries who are students is $7,060 a year. The amount of earnings that we can exclude each month, until we have excluded the maximum for the year, is $1,750 a month. Details on the SEIE are on STUDENT EARNED-INCOME EXCLUSION.

Medicare Part A Hospital Insurance
For 2014, the monthly Medicare Part A Hospital Insurance base premium is $426, and the 45 percent reduced premium is $234.

Medicare Part B Supplemental Medical Insurance

For 2014, the Part B Supplemental Medical Insurance monthly base premium is $104.90. Details on Medicare for Persons with Disabilities Who Work are on SSDI ONLY EMPLOYMENT SUPPORTS.

Medicaid While Working
For 2014, we increased the Medicaid While Working State Threshold Amounts for persons with disabilities. We use yearly state threshold amounts to decide if earnings are high enough to replace SSI and Medicaid benefits. We listed the 2014 amounts for each state on SSI ONLY EMPLOYMENT SUPPORTS.

How to Reach Social Security

Internet Access

Our Internet site, Social Security Online, is located at www.socialsecurity.gov. Most SSA publications and other public information materials are available at this site.Links that may be of interest to the community serving individuals with disabilities:

By Telephone

Call our toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. If you have a touch-tone telephone, recorded information and services are available 24 hours a day, including weekends and holidays.If you are hearing impaired, call our toll-free TTY/TDD number 1-800-325-0778 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Find Your
Local Office

If you have a problem or question, try our toll-free telephone number first. Our telephone representatives will either help you or put you in contact with your local office, if needed. Many local telephone directories list local offices under “Social Security”.If you have Internet access, you can find your local office by going to the Social Security Office Locator on our website, Social Security Online, at www.socialsecurity.gov/locator. Enter your postal ZIP code to get the address, telephone number, and directions to your local office.

By Mail

If you have been unable to resolve a problem after calling our toll-free telephone number or after contacting your local office, you may write to the Office of Public Inquiries:

Social Security Administration
Office of Public Inquiries
6401 Security Blvd.
Baltimore, MD 21235-6401

 

Request copies of the Red Book or other SSA Publications

If you want copies of the Red Book or other public information materials, you can:Email: OFSM.OSWM.RQCT.Orders@ssa.gov;
Fax: 410-965-2037;
Phone: 410-965-2039; or
Mail: Social Security Administration
Office of Supply & Warehouse Management
Attn: Requisition and Quality Control Team
2508 Robert M. Ball Building
6401 Security Blvd.
Baltimore, MD 21235-6301We will not ship to Post Office boxes.

How Do We Define Disability?

Our Definition of Disability:
To meet our definition of disability, you must not be able to engage in any substantial gainful activity (SGA) because of a medically-determinable physical or mental impairment(s):

    • That is expected to result in death, or
  • That has lasted or is expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months.

NOTE: There is a separate definition of disability for children (under age 18) who are applying for the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. A disabled child also qualifies for the SSI employment supports described later in the Red Book.

What is Substantial Gainful Activity (SBA)
We use the term “substantial gainful activity” to describe a level of work activity and earnings.

Work is “substantial” if it involves doing significant physical or mental activities or a combination of both. For work activity to be substantial, it does not need to be performed on a full-time basis. Work activity performed on a part-time basis may also be SGA.

“Gainful” work activity is:

    • Work performed for pay or profit; or
    • Work of a nature generally performed for pay or profit; or
  • Work intended for profit, whether or not a profit is realized.

We use SGA as one of the factors to decide if you are eligible for disability benefits. If you receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, we use SGA to decide if your eligibility for benefits continues after you return to work and complete your Trial Work Period (TWP) (see TRIAL WORK PERIOD). If you receive SSI benefits based on disability, we apply different standards to determine if your eligibility for benefits should continue. For details on how we calculate SSI benefits, see SSI ONLY EMPLOYMENT SUPPORTS.

We do not use SGA as a factor to determine initial eligibility for SSI benefits if you are blind.

How Do We Evaluate Your Activity for SGA Purposes?
We generally use earnings guidelines to evaluate whether your work activity is SGA.

The amount of monthly earnings we consider to be SGA depends on the nature of your disability. The Social Security Act specifies a higher SGA amount for persons who meet the definition of blindness described by the law. For details on our rules about earnings and blindness, see SPECIAL RULES FOR PERSONS WHO ARE BLIND. If your impairment is anything other than blindness, earnings averaging over $1,070 a month (for the year 2014) generally demonstrate SGA. If you are blind, earnings averaging over $1,800 a month (for the year 2014) generally demonstrate SGA for SSDI.

We usually adjust these amounts every year based on increases in the national average wage index

What If You Are Self Employed?
If you are self-employed and your disability is not blindness, the way we evaluate your work activity for SGA purposes will depend on whether we evaluate your work activity before or after you have received SSDI benefits for 24 months and the purpose of the evaluation. We will evaluate your work under The Three Tests or the Countable Income Test to determine if your work activity is SGA, depending on when you worked.

The Three Tests:
We apply three tests to evaluate your work activity when you initially apply for SSDI and before you have received SSDI benefits for 24 months. We will also use the three tests to evaluate your work activity during the re-entitlement period to determine if we can reinstate your benefits in the Extended Period of Eligibility (EPE) (see EXTENDED PERIOD OF ELIGIBILITY). Your self-employment work activity is SGA if:

    • You render significant services to the business, and you had average monthly earnings over the SGA level ($1,070 in 2014); or
    • Your work is comparable to the work of persons without disability in your community engaged in the same or similar businesses; or
  • Your work is worth more than the SGA level earnings in terms of its effects on the business or when com-pared to what you would have to pay an employee to do the work.

The Countable Income Test:
We apply the countable income test if you have received SSDI benefits for at least 24 months. We will only use the countable income test to determine whether you have engaged in SGA and if your disability has ended as a result of that SGA.

We will compare your countable earnings to the SGA earnings guidelines. If your monthly countable earnings average more than $1,070 (in 2014), we will determine that your work is SGA unless there is evidence that you are not rendering significant services in the month. If your monthly countable earnings average less than $1,070, we will decide that your work is not SGA.

If you are self-employed and your disability is blindness, we decide SGA based on whether you have received a substantial income from the business and rendered significant services to the business. We make this determination using your countable earnings. We also use your countable earnings to determine whether your work is SGA and we can reinstate benefits during the EPE (see EXTENDED PERIOD OF ELIGIBILITY).

If you are self-employed, your disability is blindness, and you are age 55 or older, special rules apply. If your earnings demonstrate SGA but your work requires a lower level of skill and ability than the work you did before age 55, or when you became blind, whichever is later, we will suspend, not terminate, your benefits. Your eligibility for SSDI benefits continues indefinitely, and we pay your benefits for any months earnings fall below SGA.

Overview of our disability programs

We manage two programs that provide benefits based on disability or blindness, the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program.

Social Security Disability Insurance
SSDI provides benefits to disabled or blind persons who are “insured” by workers’ contributions to the Social Security trust fund. These contributions are based on your earnings (or those of your spouse or parents) as required by the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA). Title II of the Social Security Act authorizes SSDI benefits. Your dependents may also be eligible for benefits from your earnings record.

Supplemental Security Income Program (SSI)
The SSI program makes cash assistance payments to aged, blind, and disabled persons (including children) who have limited income and resources. The Federal Government funds SSI from general tax revenues. Many states pay a supplemental benefit to persons in addition to their Federal benefits. Some of these states have made arrangements with us to combine their supplemental payment with our Federal SSI payment into one monthly check to you. Other states manage their own programs and make their payments separately. Title XVI of the Social Security Act authorizes SSI benefits.

When You Receive Both SSDI And SSI
We use the term “concurrent” to describe persons who are eligible for disability benefits under both the SSDI and SSI programs. To show how a person’s concurrent benefits would be affected by returning to work, we have provided an example on EXAMPLE OF CONCURRENT BENEFITS WITH EMPLOYEE SUPPORTS.

NOTE: The SSDI and SSI programs share many concepts and terms, however, there are also many very important differences in the rules affecting eligibility and benefit payments. The following table summarizes differences between the SSDI and SSI programs. These differences are important as many persons may apply or be eligible for benefits under both programs.

Comparison Of The SSDI and SSI Disability Programs

SSDI SSI
Source of payments Disability trust fund General tax revenues
Minimum Initial Qualification Requirements
  • Must meet SSA’s disability criteria
  • Must be “insured” due to contributions made to FICA based on your own earnings, or those of your spouse or your parents.
  • Must meet SSA’s disability criteria.
  • Must have limited income and resources.
Health Insurance Coverage Provided Medicare. Consists of hospital insurance (Part A), supplementary medical insurance (Part B), and Medicare Advantage (Part C). Voluntary prescription drug benefits (Part D) are also included. Title XVIII of the Social Security Act authorizes Medicare. Medicaid. A jointly-funded, Federal-State health insurance program for persons with limited income and resources. It covers certain children, and some or all of the aged, blind, and disabled in a state who are eligible to receive federally-assisted income maintenance payments. Title XIX of the Social Security Act authorizes Medicaid. The law gives the states options regarding eligibility under Medicaid.
How do we figure your monthly payment amount?

We base your SSDI monthly payment amount on the worker’s lifetime average earnings covered by Social Security. We may reduce the amount if you receive Workers’ Compensation payments (including Black Lung payments) and/or public disability benefits, for example, certain state and civil service disability benefits. Other income or resources do not affect your payment amount. We usually adjust the monthly payment amount each year to account for cost-of-living changes. We can also pay SSDI monthly benefits to dependents on your record, such as minor children.

To figure your payment amount, we start with the Federal Benefit Rate (FBR). In 2014, the FBR is $721 for a qualified person and $1,082 for a qualified couple. We subtract your countable income from the FBR and then add your state supplement, if any.

We do not count all of the income that you have. The income amount left after we make all the allowable deductions is “countable income”.

The sections on SSI employment supports explain some of the ways that we can exclude income.

We usually adjust the FBR each year to account for cost-of-living changes.

Is a State Supplemental Payment provided? There is no state supplemental payment with the SSDI program. Many states pay some persons who receive SSI an additional amount called a “state supplement”. The amounts and qualifications for these state supplements vary from state to state.

Returning To Work

What Are Your Responsibilities When You Return To Work?
If you receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, you or your representative must promptly report any changes in work activity. You must tell us right away if:

    • You start or stop work;
    • You already reported your work, but your duties, hours, or pay have changed;

You can report changes in your work activity by phone, fax, mail, or in person. Call our toll-free number 1-800-772-1213 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, or visit your local SSA office. You can find your local office by going to our website at www.socialsecurity.gov.

When you report changes in your work activity, we will give you a receipt to verify that you have properly fulfilled your obligation to report. Keep this receipt with all of your other important papers from Social Security.

When Will We Review Your Disability?
We will review your case periodically to see if your condition has medically improved or if you can perform substantial gainful activity (SGA). We will also review your case if we receive information that you may have medically improved.

If you have received SSDI benefits for at least 24 months, we will not do this review just because you are working.

If you receive SSI benefits, we may review your case if you work and are eligible for Medicaid While Working or if there are changes in your work status. We will not review your case more often than once a year.

We will not perform a review to see if your condition has medically improved while you are using a Ticket to Work (see SSDI AND SSI EMPLOYMENT SUPPORTS). When Will Your Benefits Stop?
If you receive SSDI benefits and we find that you no longer meet the requirements for disability due either to work at the SGA level or medical improvement, we say that your disability “ceased”. If we find that your disability ceased due to work at the SGA level, our decision is effective in the month shown by the evidence. If we find that your disability ceased due to medical improvement, our decision is effective in the month shown by the evidence, or the month we give you written notice, if later. In either case, we pay SSDI benefits for the cessation month and the following 2 months. We call these 3 months the “grace period”.

Your SSDI benefits may continue:

  • If we cease your disability due to your work at the SGA level and then your earnings fall below SGA within the Extended Period of Eligibility (see EXTENDED PERIOD OF ELIGIBILITY), or
  • If we ceased your disability due to medical improvement and you are participating in a program of vocational rehabilitation or similar services (see VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION).

If you receive SSI benefits and we find that you no longer meet the requirements for disability due to medical improvement, we say that your disability “ceased”. Our decision is effective with the month shown by the evidence, or the month we give you written notice, if later. However, your SSI eligibility continues for that month and the following 2 months if you meet all the non-disability-related requirements including the income and resources tests. We call these 3 months the “grace period”.

If we cease your disability due to medical improvement, your SSI benefits may continue if you are participating in a program of vocational rehabilitation or similar services, employment services, or other support services (see VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION.

You are not eligible for an SSI payment for any months you do not meet the non-disability eligibility requirements, for example, the income or resources tests.

 

How Do employment Supports Help?

The employment-support provisions are intended to assist you in your efforts to become self-sufficient through work. Employment supports can help you find a job or start a business, protect your cash and medical benefits while you work, or save money to go to school. If your benefits end because of your work and you have to stop working later, employment supports can make it easy to begin receiving benefits again.

We discuss each employment support on the following pages. You should view all of the employment supports as a total package to fully appreciate the multiple levels of support available to help you achieve your personalized goal of greater economic independence. The following table provides a brief description of the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) employment supports. The last column in the table indicates the page number in the Red Book where you can find a more detailed description of the employment support.

SSDI Employment Supports
The SSDI employment supports provide help over a long period of time to allow you to test your ability to work, or to continue working, and gradually become self-supporting and independent. In general, you have at least 9 years to test your ability to work. This includes full cash payments during the first 12 months of work activity, a 36-month re-entitlement period during the extended period of eligibility, and a 5-year period in which we can start your cash benefits again without a new application (see EXPEDITED REINSTATEMENT). You may continue to have Medicare coverage during this time or even longer.

SSI Employment Supports
The SSI employment supports offer ways for you to continue receiving your SSI checks and/or Medicaid coverage while you work. Some of these provisions can increase your net income to help cover special expenses.

Once you receive SSI, we consider that your disability continues until you medically recover, even if you work. If you cannot receive SSI checks because your earnings are too high, your eligibility for Medicaid may continue while you are working. In most cases, if you lose your job or are unable to continue working, you can begin receiving checks again without filing a new application.

Guide To Employment Supports

Employment Support
(Alphabetically Listed)
How This Employment Support
Can Help You
Blind Work Expenses (BWE) Do you work and receive SSI based on blindness?
Continued Payment Under a Vocational Rehabilitation or Similar Program (Section 301) Has your medical condition improved and are you participating in a vocational rehabilitation or similar program?
Earned Income Exclusion How do we figure your monthly SSI payment amount if you work?
Expedited Reinstatement (EXR) If your benefits ended because you successfully returned to work, can you get benefits again if you stop working?
Extended Period of Eligibility (EPE) How long can you receive SSDI benefits after you return to work?
Impairment-Related Work Expenses (IRWE) Do you pay for items or services related to your disability that you need in order to work?
Medicaid While Working – Section 1619(b) What happens to your Medicaid after you return to work?
Medicare Continuation What happens to your Medicare after you return to work?
Medicare for Persons with Disabilities Who Work What happens if you are no longer eligible for free Medicare Part A because of your work?
Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS) Do you want to set aside money to pursue an employment goal?
Property Essential to Self-Support (PESS) Do you receive SSI and own property or resources that are essential to your means of self-support?
Reinstating Eligibility Without a New Application How can you restart your SSI cash payments if you stop working?
Special SSI Payments for Persons Who Work – Section 1619(a) What happens to your SSI cash benefits when your earned income is substantial but you are still disabled?
Special Benefits for Persons Eligible Under Section 1619 Who Enter a Medical Treatment Facility What happens to your SSI payment if you are working, but you have to enter a medical facility?
Subsidy and Special Conditions Do you work and receive SSDI but have extra help on the job or have fewer or simpler tasks than other workers?
Ticket to Work (Ticket or TTW) Do you want assistance to help you return to work?
Trial Work Period (TWP) How can you test your ability to work without losing your SSDI benefits?
Unincurred Business Expenses Do you receive SSDI and are you self-employed?
Unsuccessful Work Attempt (UWA) What happens to your SSDI benefits if you try to return to work but have to stop working or reduce your hours because of your disability?

 

Resources To Assist You Return To Work

You can get information about SSA’s employment support provisions at any of our SSA field offices around the country. You may also call us toll free at 1-800-772-1213, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Work Incentive Liaison (WIL)
Each of our local Social Security offices has a WIL who provides advice and information about our work incentive provisions and employment support programs to individuals with disabilities and outside organizations that serve those with disabilities.

Area Work Incentives Coordinator (AWIC)
AWICs are experienced employment support experts who:

    • Coordinate and/or conduct public outreach on work incentives in their local areas;
    • Provide and/or coordinate and oversee training on SSA’s employment support programs for all personnel at local Social Security offices;
    • Handle sensitive or high profile disability work-issue cases, if necessary; and
  • Monitor the disability work-issue workloads in their areas.

Information on how to contact your local AWIC is available at www.socialsecurity.gov/regions/.

Benefits Planning Query (BPQY)
A BPQY provides information about a beneficiary’s disability cash benefits, health insurance, scheduled continuing disability reviews, representative payee, and work history, as stored in SSA’s electronic records. The BPQY is an important planning tool for a beneficiary, an AWIC, Plan to Achieve Self-Support Specialist, benefits counselor, or other person who may be developing customized services for a disability beneficiary who wants to start working or stay on the job. For instructions on reading and interpreting a BPQY statement as well as details on the components of a BPQY statement, see BPQY Handbook.

We provide BPQYs to beneficiaries, their representative payees and their authorized representatives of record upon request. Beneficiaries can request a BPQY by contacting their local SSA office or by calling SSA’s toll free number, 1-800-772-1213 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. People who are deaf or hard-of-hearing may call our toll-free TTY/TDD number, 1-800-325-0778, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.

If someone other than the beneficiary, representative payee, or appointed representative (a benefits counselor, for example) wishes to receive a BPQY, they must submit two SSA-3288 forms (Consent for Release of Information) that have been signed by the beneficiary. One is to authorize the release of Social Security records and the other to authorize the release of Internal Revenue Service earnings records. Both releases must contain the beneficiary’s Social Security number or the claim number. Copies of the SSA-3288 are available at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/online/ssa-3288.pdf

Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) Projects
WIPA projects are community-based organizations that receive grants from SSA to provide all Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI )disability beneficiaries (including transition-to-work aged youth) with free access to work incentives planning and assistance. Each WIPA project has counselors called Community Work Incentives Coordinators (CWIC) that:

  • Provide work incentives planning and assistance to our beneficiaries with disabilities;
  • Conduct – often in partnership with other community organizations – outreach efforts to those beneficiaries (and their families) who are potentially eligible to participate in Federal or state employment support programs; and
  • Work in cooperation with Federal, state, private agencies and nonprofit organizations that serve beneficiaries with disabilities.

If you are one of the many Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or SSI disability beneficiaries who want to work, a WIPA project can help you understand the employment supports that are available to you and enable you to make informed choices about work.

WIPA services are available in every state, the District of Columbia, and the US Territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. If you want to locate the WIPA organization nearest you, please call 1-866-968-7842 (Voice) or 1-866-833-2967 (TTY). You can also find contact information in our service provider directory on our website at: www.socialsecurity.gov/work.

Work Incentives Seminar (WISE)
WISE feature information to help Social Security disability beneficiaries make the decision to re-enter the workforce or to work for the first time. All WISE take place via free internet-based webinars. The webinar format allows beneficiaries and other interested parties to learn about vital employment resources from Social Security without having to travel to another location.

Some of the webinars are designed to address a broad range of disabilities, while others target people in specific disability categories or age ranges. They may feature various employment service providers, including Social Security approved Employment Networks, State Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies, Protection and Advocacy Services, and WIPA organizations. Some WISE also feature former beneficiaries who have used the Ticket to Work (TTW) program to become employed and offer first-hand accounts of their success.

Beneficiaries and other interested parties may register for scheduled WISE online via our website at www.chooseworkttw.net or by calling the Ticket to Work Help Line at 1-866-YOURTICKET (1-866-968-7842) or for TTY call 1-866-833-2967 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. EST. Archived versions of past events are also available.

Protection and Adocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security
In every State, U.S. Territory and the Tribal Nations, there is an agency that protects the rights of persons with disabilities. This Protection and Advocacy System administers the SSA-funded PABSS program. Each PABSS agency can:

  • Investigate any complaint you have against an employment network or other service provider that is helping you to return to work;
  • Give you information and advice about vocational rehabilitation and employment services;
  • Tell you about SSA’s work incentives that will help you to return to work;
  • Provide consultation and legal representation to protect your rights in the effort to secure or regain employment; and
  • Help you with problems concerning your individual work plan under the Ticket to Work program.

These services are free to persons receiving SSDI or SSI benefits based on disability or blindness. If you want to locate the PABSS agency nearest you, please call 1-866-968-7842 (Voice) or 1-866-833-2967 (TTY). You can also find contact information in our service provider directory at: www.socialsecurity.gov/work.

Individual Development Accounts(IDA)
If you are working and have limited income, you may be eligible for an IDA through the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program or an Assets for Independence Act (AFIA) grant. An IDA is a trust-like bank account that helps you save your earnings to go to school, buy a home, or start a business. When you make a deposit to the account, a participating non-profit organization matches your deposit. The typical match is one dollar for each dollar that you deposit. The Federal government adds an additional match, limited to $2,000 for an individual or $4,000 for a household over the life of the program (usually five years).

If you have an IDA through TANF or an AFIA grant, we do not count any earnings you deposit into your account, any matching deposits, or any interest earned as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) income or resources. As a result, your SSI benefits may increase.

Note: IDAs that are not federally funded are not exempt from SSI and will be counted under the income and resource rules of SSI.

We do not determine whether you are eligible to have an IDA. For more information about IDAs and to locate a program in your area, visit: www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ocs/programs/afi.

American Job Centers
American Job Centers (formerly known as One-Stop Career Centers) provide job seekers, with and without disabilities, a variety of tools and services to help them get back to work. Services include training, referrals, career counseling, job listings and other similar employment-related services. Tools, many of which are available on-line, assist job seekers with career exploration, skill assessments (including identifying transferable skills), credential listings, and job openings. Customers can visit a Center in person or connect to the Center’s information through PC or kiosk remote access. Many American Job Centers are also Employment Networks (see EMPLOYMENT NETWORK) and can accept your ticket under the TTW Program. You can locate your closest American Job Center at www.servicelocator.org.

Job Accommodation Network (JAN)
JAN provides free, expert, and confidential guidance on workplace accommodations and disability employment issues to help people with disabilities enhance their employability. JAN consultants offer one-on-one guidance on workplace accommodations, the Americans with Disabilities Act and related legislation, and self-employment options for people with disabilities. Assistance is available both over the phone and online. You can contact JAN by phone at 800-526-7234 (Voice) or 877-781-9304 (TTY). The JAN website (www.AskJAN.org) is a rich source of information that makes a chat service available and features the Searchable Online Accommodation Resource.

Federal Employment Of People With Disabilities
The Federal Government’s Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has a special hiring authority for hiring workers with disabilities that have certain significant physical, psychiatric, or mental disabilities. These are also known as targeted disabilities. For more information see the OPM Web site at: www.opm.gov/disability/index.asp.

AmeriCorps
AmeriCorps is a national network of service programs that engage Americans to meet the nation’s needs in priority areas like disaster services, economic opportunity, education, environmental stewardship, healthy futures, and veterans and military families. We exclude the stipend that AmeriCorps members receive in the determination of SSI benefits. For Social Security Disability Insurance recipients, the income exclusion only applies to the AmeriCorps VISTA program. For more information, go to the AmeriCorps website at www.americorps.gov.

 

SSDI and SSI employment Supports

Subsidy and Special Conditions )SSDI and SSI Eligible)

When do we consider Subsidies and Special conditions? We consider the existence of subsidies and/or special conditions when we make an substantial gainful activity (SGA) decision. We use only earnings that represent the real value of the work you perform to decide if your work is at the SGA level.
What is a subsidy? A “subsidy” is support provided by your employer that may result in your receiving more pay than the actual value of the services you perform.
What are special conditions? “Special conditions” refers to support and on the job assistance provided by your employer, or by someone other than your employer, for example, a vocational rehabilitation agency. Because of this support, you may receive more pay than the actual value of the services you perform.
How can you tell if a subsidy or a special condition applies to you? A subsidy or special condition may exist if:
    • You receive more supervision than other workers doing the same or a similar job for the same pay; or
    • You have fewer or simpler tasks to complete than other workers doing the same job for the same pay; or
    • You are given additional or longer paid breaks than other workers doing the same job for the same pay; or
    • You have a job coach or mentor who helps you perform some of your work

Do subsidies or special conditions affect my SSI payments?

No, we do not consider subsidies or special conditions when we figure your SSI payment amount.
Unsuccessful Work Attempt (UWA) (SSDI and SSI Eligible)

What is a UWA? A UWA is an effort to do substantial work, in employment or self-employment, which you stopped or reduced to below the substantial gainful activity (SGA) level after a short time (6 months or less) because of:

What is the benefit of a UWA if you receive Social Security Disability Insurance? When we make a SGA decision to determine if your disability continues or ceases because of your work, we do not count your earnings during a UWA.
Can a UWA occur during the Extended Period of Eligibility (EPE)? Yes. During the EPE (see EPE), we consider a UWA as part of our SGA decision for months up to and including the month we decide your disability has ceased.
Can a UWA occur during the Trial Work Period (TWP)? No. We do not consider a UWA during the TWP (see TWP) or after we decide that your disability has ceased.

Does a UWA affect your monthly Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payment?

For SSI, we only consider a UWA at the time you file an initial claim. After that, we do not consider a UWA in figuring your SSI payment.


Impairment-Related Work Expenses (IRWE) (SSDI and SSI Eligible)

How can IRWE help you? We deduct the cost of certain impairment-related items and services that you need to work from your gross earnings when we decide if your work is substantial gainful activity (SGA). It does not matter if you also use these items and services for non-work activities.
When will we deduct your IRWE? We deduct IRWE for SGA purposes when:

  • The item(s) or service(s) enables you to work;
  • You need the item(s) or service(s) because of a physical or mental impairment;
  • You pay for the item(s) or service(s) and are not reimbursed by another source such as Medicare, Medicaid, or a private insurance carrier;
  • The cost is “reasonable”, that is, it represents the standard charge for the item or service in your community.
How do we use IRWE to figure your Supplemental Security Income (SSI) monthly payments? If you receive SSI benefits, we will exclude IRWE from your earned income when we figure your monthly payment amount if you meet the requirements above and you paid the expense in a month that you received earned income or performed work while you used the IRWE.
Can IRWE be deducted during a non-work month? Generally, you must be working in the month you pay for an IRWE. However in certain situations, we can deduct IRWE amounts for expenses you pay before you start or after you stop work.
What types of expenses are deductible? The following table outlines the types of expenses that are deductible as IRWE.

Examples Of Deductible and Non-Deductible IRWE(SSDI and SSI Eligible)

TYPE OF EXPENSE IRWE DEDUCTIBLE NOT DEDUCTIBLE
Transportation Costs The cost of structural or operational modifications to your vehicle that you need to travel to work, even if you also use the vehicle for non-work purposes. The cost of driver assistance or taxicabs you need because of your disability rather than the lack of public transportation.Mileage expenses at a rate determined by us for an approved vehicle and limited to travel to and from work. The cost of your vehicle whether modified or not.The costs of modifications to your vehicle that are not directly related to your impairment or critical to the operation of your vehicle, for example, paint or pin striping.Your travel expenses related to obtaining medical items or services.
Attendant Care Services Services performed in the work setting.Services performed to help you prepare for work, the trip to and from work, and after work; for example, bathing, dressing, cooking, and eating. Services that incidentally also benefit your family, for example, meals shared by you and your family. Services performed by your family member for a cash fee where he/she suffers an economic loss by reducing or ending his/her work to help you, for example, if your spouse must reduce his or her work hours to help you get ready for work. Services performed on non-workdays or help with shopping or general housekeeping, for example, cleaning and laundry.Services performed for someone else in your family, for example, babysitting. Services performed by your family member for payment “in-kind”, for example, room and board.Services performed by your family member for a cash fee where he/she suffers no economic loss. This includes services provided by your non-working spouse.
Medical Devices Deductible devices include wheelchairs, dialysis equipment, pacemakers, respirators, traction equipment, and braces. Any device you do not use for a medical purpose.
Prosthesis Artificial hip, artificial replacement of an arm, leg, or other parts of the body. Any prosthetic device that is primarily for cosmetic purpose.
Residential Modifications If you are employed outside of home, modifications to the exterior of your house that permit access to the street or to transportation; for example:

  • Exterior ramps
  • Railings
  • Pathways

If you are self-employed at home, modifications made inside your home in order to create a workspace to accommodate your impairment. This includes enlarging a doorway into an office or workroom and/or modifying office space to accommodate your dexterity challenges

If you are employed outside of home, modifications to the interior of your house.If you are self-employed at home, cannot deduct any modification-related expenses that you will deduct as a business expense when determining SGA.
Routine Drugs & Routine Medical Services Regularly prescribed medical treatment or therapy that is necessary to control your disabling condition, even if control is not achieved. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Anti-convulsant drugs
  • Anti-depressant medication
  • Psychotropic medication
  • Blood level monitoring
  • Radiation treatment
  • Chemotherapy
  • Corrective surgery for spinal disorders
  • Counseling, mental health and therapy services
  • Your physician’s fee relating to these services.
Drugs and/or medical services used for your minor physical or mental health problems, for example:

  • Routine physical examinations
  • Allergy treatments
  • Dental examinations
  • Optician services.
Diagnostic Procedures Procedures related to the control, treatment, or evaluation of your disabling condition; for example, brain scans, and electroencephalograms. Procedures not related to your disabling condition, for example, allergy testing.
Non-Medical Appliances & Devices In unusual circumstances, devices or appliances that are essential for the control of your disabling condition either at home or at work; for example, an electric air cleaner if you have severe respiratory disease. Your physician must verify this need. Devices you use at home or at the office that are not ordinarily for medical purposes and for which your doctor has not verified a medical work-related need. These include:

  • Portable room heaters
  • Air conditioners
  • Dehumidifiers
  • Humidifiers
Other Items & Services Expendable medical supplies; for example, incontinence pads, elastic stockings, and catheters. The cost of a service animal including food, licenses, and veterinary services. An exercise bicycle or other device you use for physical fitness, unless verified as necessary by your physician. Health insurance premiums.

Plans To Archieve Self-Support (PASS) (SSDI and SSI Eligible)

How can a PASS help you? A PASS allows you to set aside other income besides your Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and/or resources for a specified period of time so that you may pursue a work goal that will reduce or eliminate the SSI or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits you currently receive. For example, if you receive SSDI, wages, or other income, you could set aside some of that money to pay expenses for education, vocational training, or starting a business as long as the expenses are related to achieving your work goal.We do not count the income that you set aside under your PASS when we figure your SSI payment amount. We do not count the resources that you set aside under your PASS when we determine your initial and continuing eligibility for SSI.A PASS can help you establish or maintain SSI eligibility and may increase your SSI payment amount. For example, if you receive $800 per month in SSDI, you have too much income to be eligible for SSI. But if you otherwise qualify for SSI and have a work goal, you could use some of your SSDI to pay for PASS expenses to help you reach your work goal. Because we would not count the portion of your SSDI you are using toward your PASS, this could reduce your countable income enough so you could be eligible for SSI.In addition, other agencies may not count income that SSA has excluded for a PASS when they determine your eligibility for housing assistance or the Supplemental Nutrition assistance Program (food stamps).
Who can have a PASS? If you receive SSI or could qualify for SSI after setting aside income or resources so that you may pursue a work goal, you could benefit from a PASS.
What are the requirements for a PASS? Your Pass must:

    • Be designed especially for you;
    • Be in writing. We prefer that you use our form, the SSA-545-BK. . You can get copies of the PASS form, SSA-545-BK, at your local office, from any PASS Expert, or from our website at www.socialsecurity.gov/online/ssa-545.html;
    • Have a specific work goal that you are capable of performing;
    • Have a specific timeframe for reaching your goal;
    • Show what income you receive (other than your SSI payments) and/or resources you have that you will use to reach your goal;
    • Show how you will use your income and resources to reach your work goal;
    • Show how the money you set aside will be kept separate from other funds;
    • Be approved by us; and
  • Be reviewed periodically by us to assure your plan is actually helping you make progress towards your work goal.

Who Can Help You Set Up A Plan To Acheive Self-Suppost (PASS)? (SSDI and SSI Eligible)

Anyone may help you with your PASS; for example, vocational counselors, social workers, benefit specialists or employers. We will evaluate the plan and decide if it is acceptable. We can also help you put your plans in writing.SSA has specially-trained employees (PASS Specialists) that work with the PASS program. When you submit a written PASS proposal to a PASS Specialist, he or she will review it to:

    • Make sure the work goal is reasonable;
    • Make sure that you need the items and services listed on the PASS application to reach the work goal;
    • Make sure the expenses are reasonably priced; and
  • Work with you to make any needed changes.

The following Internet site provides a map that you can use to locate the PASS Cadre for your area. www.socialsecurity.gov/disabilityresearch/wi/passcadre.htm.

Where can you get more information about a PASS? You can get a PASS Specialist’s telephone number by calling our toll-free number 1-800-772-1213 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday or visit our website at: www.socialsecurity.gov/disabilityresearch/wi/passcadre.htm.You can ask for a pamphlet entitled Working While Disabled — A Plan for Achieving Self-Support (SSA Publication No. 05-11017). It is also available online at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/EN-05-11017.pdf. You can also get a copy from your local office or by calling our toll-free number 1-800-772-1213 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Examples Of A PASS (SSDI and SSI Eligible)

A Sample PASS (SSI ONLY)

Example 1 – Wages Being Excluded under an approved PASS

    • Billy wants to go to school to become a social worker.
    • Billy works part time and earns $665 per month.
    • We figure Billy’s countable income using the earned income formula (See SSI ONLY EMPLOYMENT SUPPORTS)
      $665 – $20 = $645 – $65 = $580
      $580 / 2= $290 in countable income.
    • Billy’s earned income reduces his SSI benefit of $721 by $290 per month to $431.
    • He agrees to spend the $290 in countable income on his education and we approve a PASS.
  • We set aside this income and his SSI increases by $290/month for the PASS timeframe. Billy receives $721 in SSI benefits, and has $290 to use for approved PASS expenses.

A Sample PASS (SSDI ONLY)

Example 2 – SSDI Being Excluded under an approved PASS

    • Maria wants to go to school and become a paralegal.
    • She receives $800 in SSDI benefits
      • Maria’s employment goal needs to be expected to generate enough income to eliminate SSDI. (Have expected earnings over $1,070 per month SGA for 2014)
      • Maria determines she needs $780 per month for tuition, books, and school supplies. We can exclude up to $780 per month in SSDI income. This represents the full amount of Maria’s SSDI payment after deduction of the SSI general exclusion. This will make Maria eligible for the full SSI payment ($721 for 2014).
  • Maria must use the SSI payment of $721 for living expenses and use the PASS funds of $780 for approved plan expenses.

 

Ticket To Work (TTW) (SSDI and SSI Eligible)

What is a Ticket? The TTW Program is an innovative program for persons with disabilities who want to work and participate in planning their employment. The TTW Program increases your available choices when obtaining employment services, vocational rehabilitation (VR) services, and other support services you may need to get or keep a job. It is a free and voluntary service. You can use the Ticket if you choose, but there is no penalty for not using it. You might not be subject to a continuing disability review while you are using your Ticket.
How can I take part in the Ticket Program? This program is available in all 50 states and 10 United States Territories. Many Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income disability beneficiaries are eligible to obtain services from a state VR agency or another approved provider of their choice. We call these approved providers “Employment Networks.” Employment Networks (ENs) are private organizations or government agencies that have agreed to work with Social Security to provide employment services to beneficiaries with disabilities. You can participate in the program by contacting an EN or by calling the Ticket Call Center at the number below. For a list of approved ENs, please visit www.socialsecurity.gov/work.

Where do I get more information?

For more information on the TTW Program, including a list of approved ENs, call 1-866-YOURTICKET (1-866-968-7842) or for TTY call 1-866-833-2967 between 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern time (Monday through Friday).You can find information about the TTW Program online at www.socialsecurity.gov/work.

Continued Payment Under A Vocational Rehabilitation Program Or Similar Program (Section 301) SSDI and SSi Eligible)

How do I qualify for continued payment under Section 301? If we find that you are no longer disabled due to medical improvement, your benefit payments usually stop. However, if you are participating in an appropriate program of vocational rehabilitation (VR) or similar services, your benefits may continue until your participation in the program ends.To qualify for continued payments under Section 301:

    • You must be participating in an appropriate program of the VR or similar services that began before your disability ends under our rules; and
  • We must review your program and decide that your continued participation in the program will increase the likelihood of your permanent removal from the disability benefit rolls.

What is an appropriate program of the VR or similar services?

Here are some examples of appropriate programs:

    • The Ticket to Work; or
    • A Vocational Rehabilitation Agency using an individualized plan for employment (IPE); or
    • Support services using an individualized written employment plan; or
    • A Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS); or
  • An individualized education program (IEP) for an individual age 18 through 21.

How long may my benefits continue?

Under Section 301, your benefits may continue until you:

    • Complete your program; or
    • Your participation in the program stops; or
  • We decide that your continued participation in the program will not increase the likelihood of your permanent removal from the disability benefit rolls.

Expedited Reinstatement (EXR) (SSDI and SSI Eligible)

What is EXR? EXR is a safety net for people who successfully return to work and lose their entitlement to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits and payments. If your cash payments ended because of your work and earnings, and you stop work within 5 years of when your benefits ended, you may be able to have your benefits started again right away through a request for EXR.
How does EXR help you? If you have stopped receiving benefits due to your work, we may be able to restart them again. The EXR provision allows you to receive up to 6 months of temporary cash benefits while we conduct a medical review to decide if we can reinstate your benefits. You may also be eligible for Medicare and/or Medicaid during this provisional benefit period.
Who can we reinstate? You are eligible to request EXR if you meet all the following requirements:

    • Your previous entitlement to SSDI benefits terminated due to performance of substantial gainful activity (SGA); or your previous SSI disability/blindness eligibility terminated because of excess earned income or a combination of earned and unearned income;
    • You are not performing SGA in the month you apply for EXR;
    • You are unable to work at the SGA level due to your medical condition;
    • Your current medical impairment(s) is the same as, or related to, your original disabling impairment(s); and
  • You request EXR within 5 years from the month your benefits stopped.

What happens after my request for reinstatement is approved?

The month we reinstate your disability payments begins your initial reinstatement period (IRP). The IRP can last for 24 months (not necessarily consecutive), and ends when you have received 24 months of payable benefits. If you receive SSDI benefits, we can pay you for any month during the IRP that your earnings are not substantial gainful activity (SGA) (see SGA). If you receive SSI benefits, the normal income counting rules apply (see SSI ONLY EMPLOYMENT SUPPORTS).

When is a month not counted as a payable month?

If you receive SSDI, any month you perform SGA, or did not receive a payment due to any of the following reasons:

    • prisoner suspense
    • sanction penalty
    • deportation
    • alien outside of the United States
  • failure to provide a Social Security Number

If you receive SSI, any month a payment is not due based on the normal payment and computation rules (excess income or resources) is not considered a payable month. However, months of eligibility under 1619(b) (see MEDICAID WHILE WORKING) or months in which your entire check is withheld to recover an overpayment, are counted as payable months.

When is the IRP completed? The IRP is completed when you have received a total of 24-months (not necessarily consecutive) of payable benefits.

What happens after completion of the IRP?

If you receive SSDI benefits, you are entitled to:

    • a new 60-month period to file an EXR request if your reinstated benefits are terminated due to SGA; and

 

SSDI only employment Supports

 

Trial Work Period (TWP) (SSDI eligible)

How does the TWP help you? The TWP allows you to test your ability to work for at least 9 months. During your TWP, you will receive full Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits regardless of how high your earnings might be as long as you report your work activity and you have a disabling impairment.
When does the TWP start? Your TWP starts when you begin working and performing “services”. In 2014, we consider your work to be services for the TWP if your gross earnings are more than $770 a month, or if you work more than 80 hours in self-employment in a month. Your TWP cannot begin until the first month you are entitled to SSDI benefits, or the month you file for benefits, whichever is later.
How long does the TWP last? The TWP continues until you accumulate 9 TWP service months (not necessarily consecutive) within a rolling 60-month period.

What happens when you complete your TWP?

After you complete your TWP, you begin your Extended Period of Eligibility (EPE) (see EPE. During the EPE, we evaluate your work and earnings to decide if you can work at the substantial gainful activity (SGA) level (see SGA).
What else do you need to know about the TWP?
    • You are not eligible for disability benefits or a TWP if you work at the SGA level within 12 months of the start of your impairment(s) and before we approve your claim for disability benefits. This is because your impairment does not meet our definition of disability (see HOW DO WE DEFINE DISABILITY).
    • We can consider medical evidence that might demonstrate your medical recovery at any time. Therefore, it is possible for your benefits to stop due to your medical recovery before the end of your TWP.
    • We will not conduct a continuing disability review if you are participating in the Ticket to Work program and you are using your Ticket (see TICKET TO WORK).
  • Unsuccessful Work Attempts do not apply during the TWP (see UWA).

Usually, we adjust the dollar amount of TWP “services” each year based on the national average wage index.

Does the TWP apply to Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

No. A TWP does not apply to the SSI program.

Extended Period of Eligibility (EPE) (SSDI eligible)

What is the EPE? The EPE begins the month after the Trial Work Period (TWP) ends, even if you are not working that month. The first 36 months of the EPE is the re-entitlement period.
How does the EPE help you? During the 36-month re-entitlement period, you get benefits for all months your earnings or work activities are below the substantial gainful activity (SGA) level as long as you continue to have a disabling impairment. We suspend cash benefits for months your earnings are over the SGA level. If your earnings fall below the SGA level in the re-entitlement period, we can start your benefits again. (This is a different rule than Expedited Reinstatement (EXR) that we describe on EXPIDITED REINSTATEMENT.)
What happens the first time you work above SGA? The first time that you work above SGA in the EPE, we will decide that you no longer meet the requirements for disability due to work, and we say that your disability ”ceased”. We will pay benefits for the month your disability ceased and the following 2 months. We call this the grace period. If your earnings fall below SGA and you are still in the 36-month re-entitlement period, we can restart your benefits without a new application.
Can you continue to receive benefits after the 36-month re-entitlement period ends? If you are not working above SGA and are eligible for a benefit payment for the 37th month of the EPE, you will continue to receive benefits until you:

    • Work a month at the SGA level, or
  • Medically recover.

What happens if you work after the re-entitlement period ends?

Your benefits will end if you work above SGA after the 36-month re-entitlement period. However you may be able to start your benefits again if you stop work within the next 5 years (see EXR on EXPIDITED REINSTATEMENT.)

Do you get an EPE under Supplemental Security Income?

No. The EPE applies only to persons who receive Social Security Disability Insurance cash benefits.

Unincurred Business Expenses (Self-Employment) (SSDI eligible)

What are unincurred business expenses? “Unincurred Business Expenses” are contributions made by others to your self-employment business effort. For example, if the state vocational rehabilitation agency gives you a computer for your business, or a friend works for your business as unpaid help, these are “unincurred business expenses”.We generally follow the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) rules to figure your net earnings from self-employment. The IRS only allows you to deduct expenses you actually paid or incurred debt. When we make a substantial gainful activity decision, we also deduct unincurred business expenses from your net earnings because we want an accurate measure of the value of your work.

What qualifies as an unincurred business expense?

For an item or service to qualify as an unincurred business expense:

  • It must be an item or service that the IRS would allow as a legitimate business expense if you had paid for it.

Do unincurred business expenses affect your Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments?

No. We do not deduct unincurred business expenses from earnings when we figure your SSI payment amount.

Continuation of Medicare Coverage (SSDI eligible)

What is Continuation of Medicare Coverage?

Most persons with disabilities who work will continue to receive at least 93 consecutive months of Hospital Insurance (Part A); Supplemental Medical Insurance (Part B), if enrolled; and Prescription Drug coverage (Part D), if enrolled, after the 9-month Trial Work Period (TWP). You do not pay a premium for Part A. Although cash benefits may cease due to work, you have the assurance of continued health insurance. (93 months is 7 years and 9 months.)
When does this start? The 93 months start the month after the last month of your TWP.
How do you qualify? You must already have Medicare and be working at substantial gainful activity, but not be medically improved.

Medicare for Persons with Disabilities Who Work (SSDI eligible)

Can you buy Medicare coverage? Yes. After premium-free Medicare coverage ends due to work, you can buy continued Medicare coverage, as long as you remain medically disabled. If you have limited income and resources you may be eligible for state assistance with these costs under various Medicare Savings Programs. Your state Health and Human Services agency makes the determination about whether you qualify for this help.

Who is eligible to buy Medicare coverage?

You are eligible to buy Medicare coverage if:

    • You are not yet age 65; and
    • You continue to have a disabling impairment; and
  • Your Medicare stopped due to work.

What kind of Medicare coverage can you buy?

Premium Hospital Insurance (Part A) is available at the same monthly cost that uninsured eligible retired beneficiaries pay. If you have less than 30 quarters of coverage, the premium is $426 in 2014. However, you may qualify for a reduction in this premium (see below).Premium Supplemental Medical Insurance (Part B) is available at $104.90 per month in 2014.You can buy Part A separately without Part B. You cannot buy Part B unless you also buy Part A. Premium Prescription Drug coverage (Part D) is also available.

Do you qualify for a reduction in your monthly Part A premium?

You may qualify for a 45 percent reduction in the monthly amount of your premium for Part A. You qualify for the reduced premium of $234 in 2014 if you:

    • Have 30 or more quarters of coverage on your earnings record; or
    • Have been married for at least 1 year to a worker with 30 or more quarters of coverage; or
    • Were married for at least 1 year to a deceased worker with 30 or more quarters of coverage; or
  • Are divorced, after at least 10 years of marriage, from a worker who had 30 or more quarters of coverage at the time the divorce became final.
When can you enroll? You may enroll:

    • During your initial enrollment period (the month you are notified about the end of your premium-free health insurance and the following 7 months); or
    • During the annual general enrollment period (January 1 through March 31 of each year); or
  • During a special enrollment period. You can enroll at any time while you are working, covered under an employer group health plan, still have a disabling impairment, or during the 8-month period that begins with the first full month after your employment or group health plan coverage ends, whichever occurs first.

For Part D, you may enroll (or change plans) during the annual coordinated election period (October 15 through December 7 of each year). The effective date for the enrollment is January 1 of the upcoming year. There also will be special enrollment periods for some situations.

How does it work with an employer’s group health plan? Generally, if you purchase Part A and maintain your employer group health plan, Medicare will be your primary payer if you are working. Your group health plan would become a secondary payer.
When does the state pay premiums for Medicare? States are required to pay Part A premiums for some working persons with disabilities. You qualify if you:

    • Are eligible to enroll in Medicare Part A for persons with disabilities who work; and
    • Meet certain income and resource standards; and
    • Apply for assistance with your state Medicaid agency; and
  • Are ineligible for Medicaid on any other basis.

Note: Persons with disabilities who work should contact their state health and human services agency for information. See HELP WITH MEDICARE PART A PREMIUMS.

SSDI at a Glance – What Happens When You Go to Work (SSDI eligible)
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) employment supports can help you protect your cash and medical benefits while you work. When your benefits end because of your work and you have to stop working later, employment supports can make it easy to begin receiving benefits again. You should view all of the SSDI employment supports as a total package to fully appreciate the multiple levels of support available to help you achieve your goal of greater economic independence.

 

Beginning the Process – The Trial Work Period (TWP) Your TWP is a time when you can test your ability to work. During your TWP, we pay you disability payments no matter how much you earn. Details on the TWP are on TWP.Your TWP is a time when you can test your ability to work. During your TWP, we pay you disability payments no matter how much you earn. Details on the TWP are on page 28.How it works:

    • Lasts for 9 months
    • The 9 months do not have to be in a row
  • Must take place within 60 months (5 years)

For 2014, the monthly earnings amount that we use to determine if a month counts as a TWP month is $770 per month. The 2014 self-employment earnings or activity that we use to determine if a month counts as a TWP month is $770 per month or 80 hours per month.

The Next Step– The Extended Period of Eligibility (EPE) Your EPE starts the month after your TWP ends. Details on the EPE are on EPE.How it works:After your TWP ends, you get a 36-month EPE. Whether we can pay you during this period depends on how much you work and earn.During your EPE:

    • We can pay you for any month your work and earnings are not at a substantial gainful activity (SGA) level, and
  • We can pay you for the first month that your work and earnings are substantial and for the next 2 months

Your benefits will terminate if your work is substantial in any month after your EPE ends.

Your Safety Net-Expedited Reinstatement (EXR) EXR is your safety net if your cash benefits end because of your work. If you make less money or you have to stop working because of your disability, we may be able to restart your benefits right away if

    • You stop working above the SGA level, and
    • Your disability is the same as or related to your current disability, and
  • You make your request within 5 years of when your benefits end.

Details on EXR are on EXR.

What About Medicare If your disability payments stop because of your work, the Medicare coverage you have can continue if your disability still meets our rules. It can continue for at least 93 months after your TWP ends. Details on Continuation of Medicare Coverage are on CONTINUATION OF MEDICARE COVERAGE.

 

SSI only employment Supports

Earned Income Exclusion (SSI eligible)

Do we count all your earned income when we figure your Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payment? We do not count the first $65 of the earnings you receive in a month, plus one-half of the remaining earnings. This means that we count less than one-half of your earnings when we figure your SSI payment amount.We apply this exclusion in addition to the $20 general income exclusion. We apply the $20 general income exclusion first to any unearned income that you may receive.The following table shows two examples of how we apply the general income exclusion and the earned income exclusions.

Examples of the Earned Income Exclusion (SSI eligible)
Examples of the Earned Income Exclusion

Situation 1
Ed receives $361 SSDI each month,
wages of $289 each month,
and no other income.
$ 361
SSDI
-20
General income exclusion
$ 341
Countable unearned income
$ 289
Earned income
-65
Earned income exclusion
$ 224
-112
½ remaining earnings
$ 112
Countable earned income
$ 341
Countable unearned income
+112
Countable earned income
$ 453
Total countable income
$ 721
2014 Federal Benefit Rate
-453
Total countable income
$ 258
SSI payment
Available income:
$ 361
SSDI
+289
Earned income
+268
SSI
$ 918
Total Monthly Income
Situation 2
Ed receives wages of $450 each month,
no SSDI, and $13 of unearned income
from another source.
$ 0
SSDI
$ 13
Other unearned income
-20
General income exclusion
$ (7)
Remaining general income exclusion
$ 450
Earned income
-7
Remaining general income exclusion
$ 443
-65
Earned income exclusion
$ 378
-189
½ remaining earnings
$ 189
Countable earned income
$721
2014 Federal Benefit Rate
-189
Total countable income
$ 532
SSI payment
Available income:
$ 450
Earned income
+13
Other unearned income
+532
SSI
$ 995
Total Monthly Income

Student Earned Income Exclusion (SSI eligible)

How does the SEIE help you? If you are under age 22 and regularly attending school, we do not count up to $1,750 of earned income per month when we figure your Supplemental Security Income payment amount. The maximum yearly exclusion is $7,060. These amounts are for the year 2014; we usually adjust these figures each year based on the cost-of-living.
What is the definition of “regularly attending school?” “Regularly attending school” means that you take one or more courses of study and attend classes:

    • In a college or university for at least 8 hours a week; or
    • In grades 7-12 for at least 12 hours a week; or
    • In a training course to prepare for employment for at least 12 hours a week (15 hours a week if the course involves shop practice); or
  • For less time than indicated above for reasons beyond the student’s control, such as illness.
Does home schooling qualify? If you are home-taught, you may be considered “regularly attending school” if:

    • You are instructed in grades 7-12 for at least 12 hours a week; and
  • The instruction is in accordance with a home school law of the state or other jurisdiction in which you reside.

If you are home-taught because of a disability, you may be considered “regularly attending school” by:

    • Studying a course or courses given by a school (grades 7-12), college, university or government agency; and
  • Having a home visitor or tutor who directs the study.
How do we apply the income exclusion? We apply the SEIE before the general income exclusion or the earned income exclusion.

Property Essential to Self-Support (PESS) (SSI eligible)

How does PESS help you? We do not count some resources that are essential to your means of self-support when we decide your continuing eligibility for Supplemental Security Income.
What is not counted? We do not count your property if you use it in a trade or business (for example, inventory or goods) or personal property you use for work as an employee (for example, tools or equipment). Other use of the item(s) does not matter.We do not count up to $6,000 of equity value of non-business property that you use to produce goods or services essential to daily activities. An example is land you use to produce vegetables or livestock solely for consumption by your household.We do not count up to $6,000 of the equity value of non-business income-producing property if the property yields an annual rate of return of at least 6 percent. An example is a rental property.You must be using the property we are excluding under the PESS provision for your self-support activities. If you are not currently using this property because of circumstances beyond your control, you must expect to start using it again within a reasonable period of time, usually 12 months.
What type of resources do not qualify as PESS? We do not consider liquid resources, for example, stocks, bonds, or notes as PESS, unless you use them as part of a trade or business.

Special SSI Payments for Persons Who Work – Section 1619(a) (SSI eligible)

What is Section 1619(a)? You can receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) cash payments even when your earned income (gross wages and/or net earnings from self-employment) is at the substantial gainful activity (SGA) level. This provision eliminates the need for the trial work period or extended period of eligibility under SSI.
How do you qualify? To qualify, you must:

    • Have been eligible for an SSI payment for at least 1 month before you begin working at the SGA level; and
    • Still be disabled; and
  • Meet all other eligibility rules, including the income and resource tests.
How does it work? Your eligibility for SSI will continue for as long as you meet the basic eligibility requirements and the income and resource tests. We will continue to figure your SSI payment amount in the same way as before. If your state provides Medicaid to persons on SSI, you will continue to be eligible for Medicaid.
Do you need to apply? You do not need to file a special application. Just keep us up to date on your work activity.

Reinstating SSI Eligibility Without a New Application (SSI eligible)

How does it help you? If you have been ineligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments due to your work, you may be able to restart your SSI cash payments again at any time without a new application.If you have been ineligible for SSI and/or Medicaid for any reason other than work or medical recovery, you may be able to restart your SSI cash payment and/or Medicaid coverage within 12 months without a new application. When your situation changes, contact us and ask about how you can restart your SSI benefits and/or Medicaid.If your cash payment and Medicaid benefits ended because of your earned income, or a combination of earned and unearned income, and you stop work within 5 years of when your benefits ended, we may be able to start your benefits again under Expedited Reinstatement (see EXPEDITED REINSTATEMENT).

Special Benefits If You Are Eligible Under 1619 and Enter a Medical Facility (SSI eligible)

How does it help you? If you are working and eligible under section 1619, you may receive a Supplemental Security Income (SSI) cash benefit for up to 2 months while in a Medicaid facility or a public medical or psychiatric facility.
What happens if you enter a Medicaid facility? Usually, if you enter a Medicaid facility where Medicaid pays more than 50 percent of the cost of care, your SSI payment is limited to $30 per month, plus any state supplement, minus any countable income. However, if you enter a Medicaid facility while you are eligible under section 1619, we will figure your benefit using the full Federal Benefit Rate for up to 2 months.
What happens if you enter a public medical or psychiatric facility? Usually, if you are in a public medical or psychiatric facility, you are not eligible to receive an SSI payment. However, if you enter a public medical or psychiatric facility while you are eligible under section 1619, your SSI cash benefits may continue for up to 2 months. For this provision to apply, the facility must enter an agreement with us that will allow you to keep all of your SSI payment.

Medicaid While Working– Section 1619(b) (SSI eligible)

How does it help you? After you return to work, your Medicaid coverage can continue, even if your earnings (alone or in combination with your other income) become too high for a Supplemental Security Income (SSI) cash payment.
How do you qualify? To qualify, you must meet all of the following qualifications:

    • Were eligible for an SSI cash payment for at least 1 month;
    • Would be eligible for cash payment except for earnings;
    • Still be disabled;
    • Still meet all other eligibility rules, including the resources test;
    • Need Medicaid in order to work; and
    • Have gross earned income that is insufficient to replace SSI, Medicaid, and any publicly funded attendant care. (See following “threshold amount” discussion.)

The “threshold amount” is the measure that we use to decide whether your earnings are high enough to replace your SSI and Medicaid benefits. Your threshold amount is based on:

    • The amount of earnings that would cause your SSI cash payments to stop in your state; and
  • The average annual per capita Medicaid expenditure for your state.

If your gross earnings are higher than the threshold amount for your state (see following chart), you may still be eligible if you have:

    • Publicly funded attendant or personal care; or
  • Medical expenses above the state per capita amount.
Do all states use the same Medicaid eligibility rules? Most states use our SSI eligibility rules to determine Medicaid eligibility. However, the following states use their own eligibility rules for Medicaid that are different from our SSI eligibility rules:

Connecticut Minnesota Ohio
Hawaii Missouri Oklahoma
Illinois New Hampshire Virginia
Indiana North Dakota

If you live in one of these states, you will continue to be eligible for Medicaid under section 1619(a) or 1619(b) if you were eligible for Medicaid in the month before you became eligible for section 1619.

2014 State Threshold Amounts for Persons with Disabilities (SSI eligible)

STATE THRESHOLD STATE THRESHOLD
Alabama $26,420 Montana $30,227
Alaska $56,786 Nebraska $37,894
Arizona $35,773 Nevada $30,841
Arkansas $30,482 New Hampshire $38,505
California $36,928 New Jersey $34,405
Colorado $34,055 New Mexico $33,349
Connecticut $68,340 New York $44,657
Delaware $40,447 North Carolina $34,424
District of Columbia $39,833 North Dakota $43,582
Florida $30,750 Ohio $36,063
Georgia $28,820 Oklahoma $30,252
Hawaii $36,713 Oregon $32,725
Idaho $40,196 Pennsylvania $35,897
Illinois $27,829 Rhode Island $34,452
Indiana $37,010 South Carolina $30,142
Iowa $32,338 South Dakota $36,599
Kansas $34,584 Tennessee $36,313
Kentucky $29,725 Texas $33,407
Louisiana $31,235 Utah $34,103
Maine $32,411 Vermont $38,783
Maryland $41,746 Virginia $33,862
Massachusetts $39,730 Washington $29,683
Michigan $34,260 West Virginia $30,531
Minnesota $51,268 Wisconsin $33,361
Mississippi $28,499 Wyoming $36,447
Missouri $36,140 N. Mariana Islands $18,324

2014 States with Separate Threshold Amounts for Blind Persons(SSI eligible)

STATE THRESHOLD
California $38,248
Iowa $32,866
Massachusetts $40,579
Nevada $33,464

 

Special Rules For Persons Who Are Blind

What do you mean by special rules for persons who are blind? Employment supports, in general, are special rules that help you return to work or work for the first time. Congress included language in the law specifically to make it easier for persons who are blind to go to work. These special rules apply only to persons who are blind.
How do we define blindness? Blindness is central visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye with best correction, or a limitation in the field of vision in the better eye so that the widest diameter of the visual field subtends an angle of 20 degrees or less.
Do the same conditions of blindness apply in Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI)? No. Under SSDI, this condition has to have lasted or be expected to last at least 12 months. There is no duration requirement for blindness under SSI.
What employment supports are available only to persons who are blind? Blind work expenses are available if you receive SSI based on blindness (see BWE).

How We Apply Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) Under SSDI to Persons Who Are Blind

How do we determine SGA for blind SSDI beneficiaries who work? For the year 2014, if you are blind, average monthly earnings over $1,800 will ordinarily demonstrate that you are performing SGA. This is higher than the current guideline for non-blind disabled workers. We generally change the SGA level for beneficiaries who are blind every year to reflect changes in general wage levels.

REMINDER: If you are blind, you may use any or all of the deductions from earnings that apply to the SGA decision.

How do we apply SGA to blindSSDI beneficiaries who are self-employed? We decide if work activity is SGA for self-employed persons who are blind solely on their earnings. We do not look at time spent in the business or services rendered as we do for non-blind self-employed persons.
How do we determine SGA for SSDI beneficiaries who are blind andage 55 or older? Special rules apply after your 55th birthday. If your earnings demonstrate SGA but your work requires a lower level of skill and ability than the work you did before age 55 or when you became blind, whichever is later, we will suspend, not terminate, your benefits. Your eligibility for SSDI benefits continues indefinitely, and we pay your benefits for any month earnings fall below SGA.
Does SGA apply to persons who are blind under SSI? No. If you meet the medical definition of blindness, we do not use SGA as a factor to determine your SSI eligibility. Your SSI eligibility continues until you medically recover, or your eligibility ends because of a non-disability-related reason. See COMPARISON OF MONTHLY SSI PAYMENT WITH BWE VERSUS IRWE for an explanation of how we figure your SSI payment amount.

Blind Work Expenses (BWE) (SSI eligible)

How do BWE help you? We do not count any earned income that you use to meet expenses that you need to earn that income when we decide if you are eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and figure your payment amount. To qualify you must be eligible for SSI based on blindness.

How is BWE different than impairment-related work expenses (IRWE)?

The BWE items do not have to be related to your blindness. When we figure your SSI payment amount, we treat BWE items differently than IRWE. We do it this way because it always results in a higher SSI payment amount for you. The table below shows how your monthly payment would be affected by BWE versus IRWE.
Examples of BWE
  • Service animal expenses
  • Transportation to and from work
  • Federal, state, and local income taxes
  • Social Security taxes
  • Attendant care services
  • Visual and sensory aids
  • Translation of materials into Braille
  • Professional association fees, and
  • Union dues.

Comparison of Monthly SSI Payment With BWE Versus IRWE

With $40 BWE With $40 IRWE
$361 — Earned Income $361 — Earned Income
-20 — General Income Exclusion -20 — General Income Exclusion
$341 $341
-65 — Earned Income Exclusion -65 — Earned Income Exclusion
$276 $276
-138 — 1/2 Remaining Earnings -40 — Impairment Related Work Expenses
$138 $236
-40 — Blind Work Expenses -118 — 1/2 Remaining Earnings
$ 98 — Countable Income $118 — Countable Income
$721 — 2014 Federal Benefit Rate $721 — 2014 Federal Benefit Rate
-40 — Blind Work Expenses -118 — Blind Work Expenses
$623 — SSI Payment $603 — SSI Payment

Accommodations for Persons Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

We recognize our duty to inform you of your rights and responsibilities under our programs.
Website We make every reasonable effort to maintain the accessibility of our websites:

Letters We offer the following delivery options for most of our letters and other communications:

  • Standard print notice by first class mail
  • Standard print notice by certified mail
  • Standard print notice by first class mail and a follow-up call to read the notice within five business days of the date of the notice;
  • Standard print notice and Braille by first class mail;
  • Standard print notice and a compact disc (CD) that contains a Microsoft Word file by first class mail. The Word CD should work with most screen readers but not in an audio CD player.
  • Standard print notice and large print (18-point font) notice by first class mail; or
  • Standard print notice and an audio CD by first class mail. The audio CD should work in most CD players

Please visit our website at www.socialsecurity.gov/notices to request one of the options listed above. You may also call us toll-free at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) or contact your local Social Security office.If none of the options listed above work for you, please call us toll-free at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) or contact your local Social Security office to request another accommodation.

Publications are available in alternate formats This book, The Red Book, and some other publications are available in alternative media. You can get some of these materials in Braille, audiocassette tape, disk, or enlarged print form. You can find a list of the publications available in alternate formats on our website at: www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/alt-pubs.html.You may order these publications while you are online, or you may contact our Braille Services Team by telephone at: 410-965-6414, or 410-965-6408, or by fax at 410-965-6413. TTY users may call 1-800-325-0778.

Additional Help WIth Health Care For Persons with Disabilities

 

Medicaid Buy-In for Working Persons with Disabilities

How does it help you? Your state may allow you to buy Medicaid if you are disabled and no longer entitled to free Medicaid because you returned to work.
How do you qualify? You may qualify if you:

  • Meet the definition of “disabled” under the Social Security Act; and
  • Would be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments if it were not for your earnings.

If you are not an SSI recipient, your state decides if you are disabled. Your state will not consider whether you are working when it makes that decision.

How can you get more information? Contact your state Medical Assistance office. Call 1-800-MEDICARE to get their telephone number. (TTY users call 1-877-486-2048.) Ask about the Medicaid buy-in program.

Help with Medicare Part A Premiums

How does it help you? If you are under age 65, disabled, and no longer entitled to free Medicare Hospital Insurance Part A because you successfully returned to work, you may be eligible for a program that helps pay your Medicare Part A monthly premium.
How do you qualify? To be eligible for this help, you must:

  • Continue to have a disabling impairment; and
  • Sign up for Premium Hospital Insurance (Part A); and
  • Have limited income; and
  • Have limited resources; and
  • Not already be eligible for Medicaid.
For more information To find out more about this program, contact your state Medical Assistance office. Call 1-800-MEDICARE to get their telephone number. (TTY users call 1-877-486-2048.) Ask about Medicare for Qualified Disabled and Working Persons.

Affordable Care Act (ACA)
Need health insurance or know someone who does? Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, more Americans now qualify to get coverage that fits their needs and budgets. Visit the Health Insurance Marketplace at www.HealthCare.gov or call 1-800-318-2596 to get more information. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, you may call TTY 1-855-889-4325. Please note, Medicare is not part of the Health Insurance Marketplace. If you are a Medicare beneficiary, you do not have to replace your Medicare coverage with Marketplace coverage.

 

Example of concurrent benefits with Employment Supports

Many persons are eligible for benefits under both the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs at the same time. We use the term “concurrent” when persons are eligible for benefits under both programs. Below we describe how a return to work may affect a person’s concurrent benefits.

Tom files applications for SSDI benefits and SSI on February 27, 2004. His medical condition caused him to stop work beginning February 14, 2004. We call this date his “alleged onset date” of disability.

Tom was approved for disability benefits.

Tom receives an award letter on June 7, 2004, stating he is approved for disability benefits with his alleged onset date of February 14, 2004.

March 2004 Tom’s SSI benefits begin the month after he filed his application. He is eligible for $564 per month (the FBR in 2004). Tom also becomes eligible for Medicaid.
August 2004 Tom’s SSDI benefits begin. This is the month after Tom completed his 5-month waiting period. The 5 months began the first full month after Tom’s approved onset date of February 14, 2004. The 5 months were March, April, May, June, and July 2004. Tom is eligible to receive SSDI benefits beginning August 2004. His monthly benefit amount is $300 which reduces his SSI to $284:$300 SSDI – $20 general income exclusion = $280 countable unearned income$564 FBR – $280 countable unearned income = $284 SSI payment

 

Tom qualifies for Medicare.

August 2006 Tom qualifies for Medicare after 24 months of entitlement to SSDI benefits. Medicare Hospital Insurance (Part A) is premium-free; Medicare Supplementary Medical Insurance (Part B) is optional but there is a premium. Tom’s state pays his Part B premium for him because he is eligible for SSI and has been covered by Medicaid since March 2004. Tom now has both Medicare and Medicaid. Medicare is the primary payer and Medicaid is the secondary payer.

 

Tom wants to work.

December 2008 Tom contacts his local Social Security office on December 7, 2008, to learn how a job will affect his SSDI, SSI, and health insurance benefits. Tom is a certified auto mechanic, and a local car dealership has offered him a job.

 

Tom returns to work.

January 2009 Tom begins work at the car dealership. The dealership pays him $1,600 a month.

 

How Tom’s work affects his SSDI benefits.

January 2009 Tom’s trial work period (TWP) begins. During the TWP, Tom can continue to receive full SSDI benefits for at least 9 months regardless of the amount of his earnings. Each month that Tom earns over $700 in 2009 ($770 in 2014) will count as a TWP service month. His TWP ends with the 9th TWP service month in a rolling 60-month period.
September 2009 Tom provides pay stubs showing his steady work activity since January 2009. We determine Tom’s TWP months are January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, and September 2009. Tom completes his TWP in September 2009.
October 2009 Tom’s extended period of eligibility (EPE) begins the month after his TWP ended. For the next 36 months (through September 2012), Tom will be paid benefits for any month he does not work over the substantial gainful activity (SGA) level. We refer to this 36-month period of time as the re-entitlement period.

Is Tom performing SGA?
We know from Tom’s pay stubs that he receives $1,600 a month in wages. Tom tells us that he is able to complete only 4 car repairs a day, compared to his co-workers who complete an average of 6-8 car repairs a day. Tom believes he is paid the same salary as his fellow co-workers. If this is the case, Tom’s employer may be subsidizing his wages.

We contact the employer and learn that the employer is paying Tom $1,600 a month, the same rate as experienced employees who complete 6-8 repairs a day. The employer pays Tom the same rate as the experienced employees because he knows about Tom’s disability and understands it takes him longer to complete tasks. The employer calculates that the actual worth of Tom’s services is $1,400 a month. This means that Tom has a monthly subsidy of $200, which is the difference between what he is paid ($1,600) and what his employer says his services are worth ($1,400).

Tom takes a taxi to and from work and provides receipts which show this cost is $350 per month. Tom’s treating physician confirms that his condition prevents him from driving. He cannot take public transportation because crowded situations aggravate his condition. Since Tom pays for his work transportation and there is a medical need for him to take a taxi, we can deduct the cost of his transportation expenses as impairment-related work expenses (IRWE).

We use Tom’s subsidy and IRWE to determine if his earnings are SGA as follows:

$1,600 wages – $200 employer subsidy – $350 IRWE = $1,050 monthly earnings

$1,050 is over the monthly SGA level for 2009 of $980, so Tom is engaging in SGA in the first month of his EPE, October 2009.

Tom’s SGA level work activity affects his benefits in the EPE.

January 2010 We stop Tom’s SSDI benefits. Tom does not meet our requirements in October 2009 because we determined he was engaging in SGA. We can pay Tom for the month of cessation and the 2 following months. We refer to these 3 months as the “grace period”. Tom’s grace period months are October, November, and December 2009.For any month that Tom’s earning fall below the SGA limit during his 36-month re-entitlement period, we can restart his benefits without a new application. If we restart Tom’s benefits during the re-entitlement period, he can continue to collect benefits if his work activity is below the SGA limit, even after the 36-month re-entitlement period ends.

 

Will Tom’s entitlement to SSDI terminate?

October 2012 Tom’s entitlement will terminate if his work activity continues at over the SGA level. This is the first month after the end of the 36-month EPE. Tom’s entitlement may stop earlier than October 2012 if he no longer meets our disability requirements.

 

How does Tom’s work activity affect his SSI benefit?
SGA rules are different for SSI. For SSI disability benefits, we only consider SGA when the initial claim is filed (unless the disability is blindness, then we do not consider SGA at all). We do not consider SGA after a person becomes eligible for SSI. However, we must determine whether the person continues to meet the non-disability requirements, including income and resources. We determine the effect of Tom’s earnings on his SSI eligibility and payment amount on a month-by-month basis.

January 2009 Tom’s income for January 2009 through December 2009 is SSDI of $300 per month and wages of $1,600 per month. Because Tom’s monthly income does not change, the calculation will be the same for all months in 2009.First, we figure his countable unearned income by subtracting the $20 general income exclusion from his SSDI:$300 SSDI – $20 = $280 countable unearned income Next, we calculate his countable earned income by first subtracting the $65 earned income exclusion from his wages:$1,600 – $65 = $1,535From this amount, we deduct the $350 IRWE for the taxi transportation:$1,535 – $350 IRWE = $1,185

Note: Tom’s subsidy is not an earned income exclusion for SSI; subsidy applies only to the SSDI SGA determination. This means we cannot subtract the $200 monthly subsidy when we figure his SSI payment and eligibility. However, the IRWE deduction applies to both the SSDI SGA and SSI payment determinations.

The second step in figuring Tom’s earned income is to divide this result by 2:

$1,185 ÷ 2 = $592.50 countable earned income

We now add the countable unearned income and the countable earned income to determine total countable income:

$280 countable unearned income + 592.50 countable earned income = $872.50 total countable income

Finally, we subtract the total countable income from the SSI FBR to determine SSI eligibility and payment amount:

$674 (FBR in January 2009) – $872.50 countable income = $0 SSI payment

Tom will not receive SSI payments for January 2009 through December 2009 because of his SSDI benefits and monthly earnings. However, he is still eligible for SSI and Medicaid While Working (under section 1619(b) of the Social Security Act) as long as his earnings remain under his state’s threshold amount, he needs the Medicaid coverage, and he continues to be eligible for SSI except for his earnings.

Tom will not receive SSDI benefits beginning January 2010 as long as he works over the SGA level.

January 2010 Tom reports that he received a pay increase to $1,900 per month beginning in January. His IRWE has increased to $400 per month. Tom’s only income is his wages since he is not receiving an SSDI payment. Here is how we figure his SSI eligibility and payment amount for January 2010.We subtract both the general income exclusion and earned income exclusion from monthly earnings:$1,900 wages – $20 general income exclusion – $65 earned income exclusion = $1,815$1,815 – $400 IRWE = $1,415 ÷ 2 = $707.50 countable earned income$674 (FBR in January 2010) – $707.50 countable income = $0 SSI payment Tom is not eligible for any SSI payment unless his earnings or IRWE change.

 

Will Tom continue to have Medicaid?
Medicaid will continue as long as Tom’s earnings are below his state’s threshold amount, he needs the Medicaid coverage, and he continues to be eligible for SSI except for his earnings. During this time, he is eligible for an SSI payment for any month that his countable income is under the FBR amount. When Tom’s earnings exceed the state threshold amount, his Medicaid will end. However, he may then be eligible to buy into Medicaid if he resides in a state that has the optional Medicaid buy-in program.

Will Tom continue to have Medicare?
Tom will no longer receive SSDI payments, but his Medicare coverage will continue for at least 93 months after his TWP (which ended September 2009) as long as he continues to have a disabling impairment (has not medically improved). Tom’s Medicare coverage will terminate on July 1, 2017.

Tom could then choose to purchase Premium Medicare Hospital Insurance coverage (Part A). If he purchases Part A, he can purchase Part B. He can qualify for the Part A reduced rate since he has earned at least 30 quarters of coverage. We will base Tom’s Medicare Insurance (Parts A and B) premiums on the rates in 2017, the year his premium-free coverage ends.

Tom will have to file an application with Social Security if he decides to purchase Medicare coverage in 2017. He will also have to undergo a medical continuing disability review. Tom can purchase Medicare coverage if we determine that his medical condition has not improved after conducting this review.

If Tom still has Medicare when he turns age 65, it will automatically convert to Medicare under the Aged provisions.


Summary of Example with Concurrent Benefits

Date Event
03/04 SSI benefits and Medicaid start
08/04 SSDI benefits start
08/06 Medicare starts
01/09 Work starts
TWP begins
SSI stops due to earnings
09/09 TWP ends
10/09 EPE begins
Work at SGA continues
SSDI benefits cease, grace months
for payment are 10/09-12/09
01/10 SSDI benefits stop
09/12 EPE ends
Extended Medicare begins
10/12 SSDI termination month
Medicaid ends if earnings are over state
threshold amount
07/17 Extended Medicare stops
May be able to purchase Premium HI
and/or buy into Medicaid
09/17 Last month to file for EXR if no longer working
and still disabled

 

Demonstration Projects Update

 

SSA conducts numerous research and demonstration projects to study ways to improve services to our current and future beneficiaries. These projects can lead to ways to better serve persons with disabilities, as well as potentially changing program rules to allow for better coordination among other federal and state programs.

 

Benefit Offset National Demonstration (BOND)
BOND tests a $1 reduction in benefits for every $2 in earnings over substantial gainful activity (SGA) levels, in combination with benefits counseling, with the goal of helping beneficiaries with disabilities return-to-work. The demonstration allows beneficiaries to face this gradual reduction in their benefits, eliminating the abrupt loss of cash benefits. We began a pilot of BOND in January 2011 and full implementation began in late April 2011. A final report is due in 2017.

 

Youth Transition Demonstration (YTD)
We designed the YTD project to further the goal of increasing employment of persons with disabilities. The YTD focuses on youths ages 14-25 who receive Supplemental Security Income, SSDI, or childhood disability benefits, or who are at heightened risk of becoming eligible for such benefits. YTD sites develop service delivery systems and partnerships with Federal, State, and local entities to assist youth with disabilities to successfully transition from school, which may include post-secondary education, to employment and economic self-sufficiency. All six of the random assignment sites have completed YTD services. The 12-month impact reports for all of the sites have been posted and can be found at www.socialsecurity.gov/disabilityresearch/interimreports.html. The 24-month impact reports for all of the sites have been posted and can be found at www.socialsecurity.gov/disabilityresearch/documents/YTD%20Final.pdf

 

Current Events
To keep up with the latest developments and get information about local contacts, visit our Internet website at: www.socialsecurity.gov/disabilityresearch. This site provides information on major activities such as our demonstration projects work incentive policies, and other relevant resources. You can also sign up to get e-mail notices when we post updates.

 

Glossary

Area Work Incentive Coordinator (AWIC) An AWIC is an experienced employment support expert who:

  • Coordinates and conducts public outreach on work incentives in his or her local area; and
  • Provides, coordinates and oversees training on our employment support programs for all personnel at our local offices.
Benefit Planning Query (BPQY) The BPQY is an important planning tool for disability beneficiaries or any person who may be developing customized services for a disability beneficiary who wants to start working or stay on the job. The BPQY provides current information about your disability cash benefits, health insurance, scheduled continuing disability reviews, representative payee, and work history, as stored in our electronic records.
Blind Work Expenses
(BWE)
If you are blind, we do not count any earned income that you use to meet expenses in earning that income when we decide your SSI eligibility and payment amount. Common examples of BWE include state and federal payroll taxes, and money spent for meals at work.
Break-Even
Point
The dollar amount of total income (after we apply all applicable deductions) that will reduce the SSI payment to zero for a particular case. Your break-even point depends on your earned and unearned income, living arrangements, applicable income exclusions, and state supplement, if any.
Childhood Disability Benefits (CDB) A person disabled before age 22 may be eligible for child’s benefits if a parent is deceased or starts receiving retirement or disability benefits.The adult child—including an adopted child, or, in some cases, a stepchild, grandchild, or step grandchild-must be unmarried, age 18 or older, and have a disability that started before age 22.Also referred to as “disabled adult child (DAC) benefits”.
Continuation of Medicare
Coverage
If your benefits stop because you are working you can receive at least 93 consecutive months of Medicare coverage after your trial work period (TWP). This provision allows your health insurance to continue even after your benefits have stopped.
Continuing Disability Review (CDR) Our process of obtaining complete current information about your condition to decide if your SSDI or SSI benefits should continue.
Countable Income The amount of money left after we have subtracted all available deductions from your total income. We use this amount to decide your SSI eligibility and payment amounts.
Countable Income Test One of the tests we may use to evaluate self-employment income if you have received SSDI benefits for 24 months.
Employment Network (EN) An EN is a qualified public or private organization under contract with us to coordinate and deliver employment services, vocational rehabilitation services, or other support services to beneficiaries who are participating in the Ticket to Work program.
Expedited Reinstatement (EXR) A safety net if your cash benefits end because of your work. You may request reinstatement of your benefits within five years of when they ended if you stop working at the substantial gainful activity (SGA) level because of your impairment. You may get up to six months of provisional (temporary) benefits while we make a decision on your request.
Extended Period of Eligibility (EPE) A consecutive 36-month period that follows your TWP. During your EPE, you may still receive payments depending on how much you work and earn. We can pay you disability benefits during your EPE if:

  • your condition is still disabling, and
  • your work is not SGA.

Your benefits will end if your work is substantial after the end of your EPE.

Federal Benefit Rate (FBR) The basic benefits standards used in computing the amount of your federal SSI payments. Benefit levels differ for individuals and couples living in households and for persons in Medicaid institutions. Federal benefit rates may be increased annually to reflect increases in the cost of living.
Impairment-Related Work Expenses
(IRWE)
When we make a SGA decision, we can deduct the cost of items and services that you pay out of pocket and that you need to work because of your impairment. Some examples are: medicines, co-pays, service animals, counseling services, and attendant care services. It does not matter if you also need the items for normal daily activities. We can usually deduct the cost of these same items from earned income to figure your SSI payment.
Initial Reinstatement Period (IRP) Your IRP begins with the first month that we reinstate your disability payments. The IRP can last for 24 months (not necessarily consecutive), and ends when you have received 24 months of payable benefits. If you receive SSDI benefits, we can pay you for any month during the IRP that your work and earnings are not SGA. If you receive SSI benefits, the normal income counting rules apply.

Medicaid (Medi-Cal in California, AHCCS in Arizona)

 

Medical coverage provided to a person by the state title XIX program.

Medicaid Protection for Persons with Disabilities Who Work

A state may provide Medicaid coverage for persons with disabilities who:

  • have earnings that are too high to qualify for SSI under current rules; and
  • are at least 16, but less than 65 years of age; and
  • meet state resource and income limits.

A state may also provide Medicaid coverage to these persons when they lose coverage due to medical improvement, but who still have a medically determinable severe impairment.

Medical Improvement Expected

If we approve your claim for disability benefits, we may also decide that we expect your disabling impairment(s) to improve. If so, we will schedule your case for a future review in less than three years.
Medicare Health insurance program for eligible disabled persons and persons age 65 or older usually consisting of:

  • Hospital Insurance under Medicare (Part A)
  • Supplemental Medical Insurance under Medicare (Part B); and
  • Voluntary prescription drug coverage with a Prescription Drug Provider (PDP) (Part D).

Low-income beneficiaries with Medicare can get Extra Help paying their prescription drug coverage premiums by filing an application with SSA. More information is available at: www.socialsecurity.gov/prescriptionhelp.

Medicare for Persons with Disabilities Who Work If you are disabled and you return to work, you can buy continued Medicare coverage when your premium-free Medicare ends due to work activity. States are required to help you pay the hospital insurance premiums if you have limited income and resources but are not eligible for Medicaid.
Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS) Under an approved PASS, you may set aside income and resources over a reasonable time that will enable you to reach a work goal to become financially self-supporting. You can use the income and resources that you set aside to obtain training or education, purchase equipment, establish a business, etc. We do not count the income and resources that you set aside under a PASS when we decide SSI eligibility and payment amount.

Property Essential to Self-Support (PESS)

We do not count some or all of certain property necessary for self-support when we apply the SSI resources test.

Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries for Social Security (PABSS)

In every State, U.S. Territory and the Tribal Nations, there is an agency that protects the rights of persons with disabilities. This Protection and Advocacy System administers the SSA-funded PABSS program.
Resources Resources are anything you own. For example, bank accounts, stocks, business assets, real estate property, or personal property that you can use for your support and maintenance are considered resources. We do not count all of your resources; i.e., life insurance policies, when we decide if you are eligible for SSI benefits.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

SSDI provides benefits to disabled or blind persons who are insured by workers contributions to the Social Security trust fund. These contributions are based on your earnings (or those of your spouse or parents). Your dependents may also be eligible for benefits from your earnings record.Social Security Disability Insurance is authorized under title II of the Social Security Act.

Student Earned Income Exclusion (SEIE)

If you are under age 22 and regularly attending school, the SEIE allows you to have some of your earnings excluded from your income. We usually adjust the amounts we can exclude each year based on the cost-of living.

Subsidies and Special Conditions

Supports you receive on the job that may result in more pay than the actual value of the work you perform. We use only the actual value of the work you perform when we make an SGA decision.

Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA)

We will evaluate your work activity if you are applying for or receiving disability benefits under SSDI, or if you are applying for benefits because of a disability (other than blindness) under SSI. Under both programs, we generally use earnings guidelines to evaluate your work activity to decide whether your work is substantial, and whether we may consider you disabled under the law.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

The SSI program makes cash assistance payments to aged, blind, and disabled persons (including children) who have limited income and resources.Supplemental Security Income program is authorized under title XVI of the Social Security Act
SSI Income SSI income is:

  • Earned income – money received from wages, including from a sheltered workshop or work activity center, self-employment earnings, royalties and honoraria received for services; and
  • Unearned income – money received from all other sources; for example, gifts, interest, pensions, Social Security, and veteran’s benefits. Unearned income also includes “in-kind income” (food or shelter) and “deemed income” (some of the income of a spouse, parent, or sponsor of an alien).
The Three Tests We may use these tests to evaluate self-employment income when you initially apply for SSDI, and before you have received SSDI benefits for 24 months. We also use the three tests to determine if we can reinstate your benefits when we evaluate your work activity in the EPE.
Ticket to Work (TTW) The TTW Program is for SSI or SSDI beneficiaries who want to work and participate in planning their employment. Participation in the TTW program increases your available choices when obtaining employment services, vocational rehabilitation services, and other support services you may need to get or keep a job. It is a free and voluntary service. When you participate in the TTW program, you are using your ticket. You might not be subject to a continuing disability review while you are using your Ticket.
Trial Work Period (TWP) The TWP lets you test your ability to work or run a business for at least nine (9) months and receive full SSDI benefits if you report your work activity and your impairment does not improve.
Unincurred Business Expenses Support contributed to your self-employment effort by someone else for example, free rent, donated supplies, or unpaid help from friends or family members. If you are self-employed, we deduct unincurred business expenses from earnings when we make an SGA decision.
Unsuccessful Work Attempt (UWA) An UWA is an effort to do substantial work (in employment or self-employment) that you stopped or reduced to below the SGA level after a short time (six months or less) because of your impairment, or the removal of special conditions related to your impairment that were essential to your work. We do not count earnings during a UWA when we make an SGA decision.
Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) The VR program is a public program administered by a State VR agency in each State or U.S. territory to help people with physical or mental disabilities become gainfully employed.
Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) Projects WIPA projects are community-based organizations that receive grants from SSA to provide all Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI )disability beneficiaries (including transition-to-work aged youth) with free access to work incentives planning and assistance. Community Work Incentives Coordinators (CWIC) are professionals who work for WIPAs, meet with beneficiaries, and provide important information about your benefits and how working would affect your SSA income and health care.
Work Incentives Seminars Events (WISE) A free, internet-based seminar that gives Social Security disability beneficiaries information they need to make a decision about going back to work or working for the first time. WISE feature various employment support service providers, such as Vocational Rehabilitation, Protection and Advocacy Services and Employment Networks. Some WISE address a broad range of disabilities, while others target people in specific disability categories or age ranges. WISE information may be accessed 24-hours per day at your convenience.

 


Social Security Administration
SSA Pub. No. 64-030
ICN 436900
January 2014
Developed by:
Social Security Administration
Office of Retirement and Disability Policy

National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

March is recognized as National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. If you or a friend, co-worker, loved one or client has a developmental disability, this month is for you!

Thanks to the advocacy efforts of The Arc in the 1980’s, February 26, 1987 President Ronald Reagan officially declared Proclamation 5613 making March National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month.

The proclamation called for people to provide understanding, encouragement and opportunities to help persons with developmental disabilities to lead productive and fulfilling lives. March is recognized by groups across the country as a time to speak up about the challenges facing people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and their families.

Most people have disabilities of one kind or another. The differences lie mostly in degree and whether our disabilities are seen or unseen. We can help remind others of this important celebration during Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month by sharing these important facts:

Spread the word to your friends and family!

  • Developmental disability is a natural part of the human experience and affects about 4.6 million Americans.
  • All people with developmental disabilities can be productive, contributing members of their communities!
  • Many people with developmental disabilities rely on publicly funded services and supports in order to fully participate in community life.
  • During times of economic decline, essential services and supports for people with developmental disabilities are often threatened.
  • The power of people with disabilities is strongest when their voices are united with each other and their friends, families and other allies.
  • Policy makers can only make good public policy when they hear from the people directly affected by their decisions!

What can you do to advocate for individuals with special needs?

  • Spread the word about Development Disabilities Awareness Month through email, blog, and website updates.
  • Contact local, state, and federal legislators to “Don’t Cut Our Lifeline” – The Arc.
  • Get involved to protect Medicaid services for people with special needs.
  • Learn about essential services for your loved one with special needs.

Everyone wants, and deserves, to enjoy life, feel productive and secure. But in March, we take extra steps to raise awareness about the needs and rights of the people with disabilities and to celebrate their contributions to our communities and society as a whole!

President Reagan’s personal invitation
I invite all individuals, agencies, and organizations concerned with the problem of developmental disabilities to observe this month with appropriate observances and activities directed toward increasing public awareness of the needs and the potential of Americans with developmental disabilities.

I urge all Americans to join me in according to our fellow citizens with such disabilities both encouragement and the opportunities they need to lead productive lives and to achieve their full potential.”

Grants and Funds Available for People with Disabilities:
 Listed by State



Alabama

  • People with developmental disabilities and their families may apply for Short-Term Assistance & Referral Programs (STAR) to address short-term needs, maximum of $2,500 per recipient. Used for: environmental modifications, adaptive equipment; services such as behavioral training, personal care, medical appointments. It also offers an alternative loan program. Contact: Helen Baker, 334-293-7012.

Alaska

  • The state of Alaska provides Developmental Disabilities (DD) Mini-Grants, maximum of $2,500/year for beneficiaries with disabilities with funding from the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority (AMHTA). Used for: unmet medical, dental, hearing, therapeutic equipment and services; home improvement needs. Contact: Amy Westfall, amyw@stonesoupgroup.org.
  • People with developmental disabilities and their families may apply for Short-Term Assistance & Referral Programs (STAR) to address short-term needs, maximum of $2,500 per recipient. Used for: environmental modifications, adaptive equipment; services such as behavioral training, personal care, medical appointments. It also offers an alternative loan program. Contact: Laurie Cooper, 907-465-3135,laurie.cooper@alaska.gov.
  • National Multiple Sclerosis Society – Alaska may provide funding for those living in Alaska. Contact: 907-562-7347.
  • Paralyzed Veterans Association (PVA) provides support to paralyzed veterans. Contact: Northwest Chapter of PVA, 800-336-9782.

Arizona

  • Arizona Loan$ for Assistive Technology (AzLAT) provides two financial loan programs for those with physical disabilities, AzLAT and S.E.E.D. Loan$ to support self-employed entrepreneurs with disabilities. Loans range from $500 to $10,000 Contact: Pamela Alcala, 602-776-4670, pamela.alcala@nau.edu.
  • The Arizona Technology Access  Program (AzTAP) provides a network for people with disabilities to find adapted equipment or assistive technology (AT) in the hands of someone who can benefit it. These are listed by individuals; some items are listed as free, others do have an associated cost.

Arkansas

  • Independent Choices focuses on helping adults with physical disabilities receive direct care in the home. They may provide funding support. Contact: 800-682-0044.

California

  • Access for Athletes – Challenged Athletes Foundation offers grants for athletes with physical disabilities. Grants are awarded to purchase equipment including sports wheelchairs, handcycles, mono skis and sports prosthetics. Contact: JulieAnne White, 858-210-3506, julieanne@challengedathletes.org.

Colorado

  • University of Colorado Denver services the AT Funding $ources website, which helps those with physical disabilities in Colorado find state and county funding opportunities. Searchable by age, disability, county and area of need. Contact: 800-255-3477, at@at-partners.org.


Connecticut


Delaware

  • The Adam Taliaferro Foundation provides financial support to student-athletes who are injured in sanctioned team events. Contact: ostrumg@yahoo.com.
  • The Specialized Services Fund (SSF) from DSAAPD provides funding to help those with physical disabilities with the costs of transportation, home modification and AT devices. Maximum lifetime funds: $10,000. Contact: New Castle County, 302-453-3820; Kent & Sussex Counties, 302-424-7310.

District of Columbia

  • Assistive Technology Program offers various resources to help people with physical disabilities find technology to improve their quality of life. It includes funding opportunities as well as resources to find the right solutions. Contact: 202-547-0918.

Florida

  • The Millennium Angel Foundation provides grants to those who have a physical disability because of an accident. Contact: 800-573-8853, angelfoundation@msettlements.com.

Georgia

  • Tools for Life offers a variety of services to ensure those with physical disabilities have access to technology in their lives. Programs include demonstrations, funding opportunities, reuse program, evaluations and assessments. Contact: 404-638-0390, info@gatfl.org.

Hawaii

  • Assistive Technology Resource of Hawaii offers various resources to help people with physical disabilities find technology to improve their quality of life. It includes funding opportunities as well as resources to find the right solutions. Contact: 808-532-7110.

Idaho

  • Idaho Assistive Technology Project provides assistive technology resources for those with physical disabilities in Idaho. Resources include financing, exchange program and training. Contact: 208-885-6097,sueh@uidaho.edu.
  • The University of Idaho offers Operation Education for military veterans who have been disabled in service. It offers scholarships and funding opportunities for college. Contact: 208-885-9026,operationeducation@uidaho.edu.
  • The Arlen B. Crouch Foundation may offer funding for those with physical disabilities. Contact: 208-324-3117.


Illinois

  • The Multiple Sclerosis Foundation offers the Brighter Tomorrow Grant to provide goods/services to improve quality of life of those with disabilities. Max award of $1,000. Contact: 1-888-MSFOCUS.
  • Illinois’ Cystic Fibrosis Foundation offers a scholarship for young adults with disabilities that wish to further their education after high school. Contact: 847-328-0127, mkbcfsf@aol.com.

Indiana

  • Indiana Assistive Technology Act provides alternate funding options for assistive technology equipment and services. In addition, the office provides device training and loans. Contact: 888-466-1314.

Iowa

  • In partnership with the University of Iowa, the Iowa Program for Assistive Technology offers funding, training and other programs to help those with physical disabilities obtain assistive technology equipment and services. Contact: 319-356-4463.

Kansas

  • The Kansas Assistive Technology Cooperative (KATCO) is an organization run by consumers that coordinates and provides finances for the purchase of assistive technology services and equipment to help people with disabilities gain economic and functional independence. Contact: 866-465-2826.
  • Assistive Technology for Kansans provides financing options for assistive technology equipment. It also offers device training and “try out” programs. Contact: 800-KAN-DOIT.

Kentucky

Louisiana

  • The Louisiana Assistive Technology Network provides loans, funding opportunities, training and other programs to provide assistive technology equipment and services to those with physical disabilities. Contact: 225-925-9500.


Maine

  • Multiple Sclerosis Society – Maine Chapter provides funding for software, tools and durable medical equipment. Contact: 800-344-4867, info@msmaine.org.
  • Keep Seniors Home provides funding to help seniors with mobility issues as they age. Funding is available for home modifications and renovations. Contact: 207-645-3764.


Maryland


Massachusetts

  • Travis Roy Foundation offers individual grants to help those with spinal cord injuries. The funds can be used to upgrade and maintain equipment, including vehicles. Contact: 617-619-8257.
  • MassMatch provides funding opportunities for assistive technology. It also offers programs including device training and equipment loans. Contact: 617-204-3851.


Michigan

  • The Michigan Assistive Technology Program provides training, funding opportunities and other programs to help those with physical disabilities obtain assistive technology equipment and services. Contact: 517-333-2477.

Minnesota

  • The STAR Program offers funding resources for those with physical disabilities to obtain assistive technology equipment and services. Contact: 651-201-2640.

Mississippi

  • The Mississippi Assistive Technology Division provides training, funding opportunities and other programs to help those with physical disabilities obtain assistive technology equipment and services. Contact: 800-443-1000.

Missouri

  • Missouri Assistive Technology provides funding opportunities, device loans and training programs for those with physical disabilities. Contact: 816-655-6700, moat1501@att.net.

Montana

  • MonTech provides funding opportunities, device loans and training programs for those with physical disabilities. Contact: 406-243-5751, montech@ruralinstitute.umt.edu.

Nebraska

  • Assistive Technology Partnership provides funding opportunities, device loans and training programs for those with physical disabilities. Contact: 888-806-6287.

Nevada

  • The Assistive Technology for Independent Living provides funding and resources for assistive technology equipment and services for those with physical disabilities. The organization offers other programs, including training. Contact: Northern Nevada, 775-353-3599; Southern Nevada, 702-333-1038.

New Hampshire

  • Assistive Technology in New Hampshire offers funding opportunities for those with physical disabilities. Funding can be used for assistive technology equipment, services, etc. It also offers training and other programs. Contact: 603-862-4320.

New Jersey

  • The Adam Taliaferro Foundation provides financial support to student-athletes who are injured in sanctioned team events. Contact: ostrumg@yahoo.com.
  • The Assistive Technology Center provides funding resources for those with physical disabilities who wish to obtain assistive technology equipment or services. Contact: 888-322-1918.

New Mexico

  • New Mexico Technology Assistance Program offers loans, donation programs, training and other resources to help those with physical disabilities. The program focuses on helping those with disabilities obtain the assistive technology they need. Contact: 505-425-3690.

New York

North Carolina

North Dakota

Ohio

Oklahoma

  • Oklahoma Assistive Technology Center offers resources so people with disabilities are able to obtain assistive technology. The agency offers programs including funding and training. Contact: 405-271-3625.

Oregon

  • Assistive Technology offers resources so people with disabilities are able to obtain assistive technology. The agency offers programs including funding and training. Contact: 541-440-4791.
  • Incight Education offers a scholarship for those with disabilities. The scholarship is used for those who are full-time students at a trade school, college or university. Contact: 971-244-0305.
  • The Blanche Fischer Foundation provides grants to those with physical disabilities residing in the state of Oregon. To be considered, residents must show a financial need for funding relating directly to the disability. Grants can be used to pay for disability equipment, access ramps and transportation to related conferences. Â Contact: 503-819-8205.
  • Mobility Unlimited helps those with physical disabilities obtain mobility equipment so they are able to live independently as well as maintain employment. Contact: 877-516-0605.

Pennsylvania

  • The Adam Taliaferro Foundation provides financial support to student-athletes who are injured in sanctioned team events. Contact: ostrumg@yahoo.com.
  • Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation offers resources so people with disabilities are able to obtain assistive technology. The agency offers programs including funding and training. Contact: 484-674-0506.

Rhode Island

  • Assistive Technology Access Partnership offers resources so people with disabilities are able to obtain assistive technology. The agency offers programs including funding and training. Contact:requests@ors.ri.gov.

South Carolina

South Dakota

  • DakotaLink offers resources so people with disabilities are able to obtain assistive technology. The agency offers programs including funding and training. Contact: 803-645-0673.

Tennessee

Texas

  • Texas Assistive Technology Network offers resources so people with disabilities are able to obtain assistive technology. The agency offers programs including funding and training. Contact: 713-744-6559.

Utah

  • Utah Assistive Technology Program offers resources so people with disabilities are able to obtain assistive technology. The agency offers programs including funding and training. Contact: 435-797-9032.

Vermont

Virginia

  • Virginia Assistive Technology System offers resources so people with disabilities are able to obtain assistive technology. The agency offers programs including funding and training. Contact: 804-662-9990.

Washington

West Virginia

  • West Virginia Assistive Technology System offers resources so people with disabilities are able to obtain assistive technology. The agency offers programs including funding and training. Contact: 304-293-4692.

Wisconsin

Wyoming

  • Daniel’s Fund offers scholarships to help individuals with disabilities fund college. Scholarship amounts vary. Contact: 307-673-1987.
  • WIND Assistive Technology Resources offers resources so people with disabilities are able to obtain assistive technology. The agency offers programs including funding and training. Contact: 888-989-9463.

Funding Your Wheelchair Van with a Grant


Mobility beyond the wheelchair is out there, but so often, it’s out of reach financially for individuals with disabilities who have spent thousands on medical care. There are several avenues that lead to funds for a wheelchair accessible vehicle or adaptive equipment for driving, like loans, government assistance, mobility rebates and grants. So what’s great about grants?

Grant money doesn’t need to be repaid, which makes it especially attractive. What’s more, grant opportunities are plentiful; relevant grant-making organizations and foundations will supply partial or complete funding on wheelchair accessible vans for sale or assistive equipment; and you can combine funds from several sources to purchase the freedom and independence an accessible vehicle provides. Obtaining a grant to fund an accessible vehicle requires patience, perseverance and a detailed application process. Though it sounds daunting, these tips will help you navigate the process:

  • Be Patient

Grant providers don’t work in your time frame. They process thousands of applications just like yours, so you may wait longer than you’d like for a response. Expressing your aggravation to the grant provider might be counterproductive. Lowering your expectations will also lower your level of frustration during your quest for grant money. If you’re prepared for progress to move slowly, you’ll be thrilled if it takes less time than you expect.

  • Be Prepared with Necessary Information

With the likelihood you’ll want to apply to several granting institutions, it simply makes sense to have your basic information gathered and quickly accessible, so you can begin filling out an application as soon as you’ve identified another potential grant opportunity. Though the requirements on grant applications vary, you’ll need personal information on all of them, such as your Social Security Number, driver’s license number (if you have one), marital status, financial information and personal background details. It’s all about expediting the application process on your end. Keep in mind that funding organizations have different policies and requirements, so you’ll need to be flexible.

  • Line up Medical Records and References

Granting institutions will want to see your medical records. Your physician can provide you with a copy. Some physicians prefer to send your records directly to the granting institution. Either way, be sure your physician understands why you need your medical records. While you’re at it, ask your physician to write a letter of recommendation. It’s not necessary, but a letter from your physician, written on letterhead stationery, can often be helpful when applying for a grant. Ask that the letter be addressed to a generic individual (“Dear Sir or Madam” or “To Whom It May Concern”), so you can include a copy with each application.

Now’s the time to get references to support your efforts – ask close friends, neighbors, colleagues, church members and anyone who you believe will provide convincing, compelling input about your character and disability. Funding organizations want their personal perspective about your accomplishments, your attitude and how you manage your disability on a daily basis. Your references can also comment on how grant money to buy a wheelchair accessible vehicle would improve your present lifestyle.

  • Make Your Case

Your mission is to help the funding organization understand your personal history, your challenges and the impact any hardships have had on your life. Be honest and persuasive in telling your story to the grant provider (including an articulate, straightforward narrative, 1-2 pages in length), describing your plans for the funding and its potential positive effect on your future. Focus on setting yourself apart from other applicants with an emotional, inspiring account. You’re in competition for a limited amount of money, so this is important.

  • Research and Identify Appropriate Granting Institutions

You now have the necessary documents and backing to begin applying for grants. Start your research with these handicap van grants, sorted by location, medical need, veterans, special needs children and others to find one or more grants for your specific situation. If you search the Internet, use “disability grant providers,” “disability grants” and other relevant keyword phrases to find foundations and organizations. If you’re a disabled veteran, check with the Veterans Administration. Remember, you can combine sources to amass as much money as possible for your wheelchair van or adaptive equipment.

Organizations that support specific conditions often provide grants to people living with that disorder. Examples include United Cerebral Palsy, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA).

When you’ve identified a potential granting organization, read their mission statement and get an application form. Craft a cover letter in which you align your needs with the organization’s goals to demonstrate how you can help achieve the provider’s objectives. This is essential information for the funding organization.

  • Contact the Grant Providers

If at all possible, speak or write to the person in charge when you begin the application process to fund your handicap van. Typically, assistance programs will assign a project officer or contact person to help you through the details. Always be polite and thank them for their time. Through this direct line of communication, you can have your questions and concerns addressed. Get a contact name, phone number and email address for every organization to obtain status updates on your application. Request information on their timeline for choosing a candidate for the funding opportunity.

  • Stay Organized and Aware

With multiple applications at different stages in the process, it’s essential to keep track of your documents and deadlines. You should be able to put your hands on documents and paperwork at any given moment. Devise a system to remind yourself of important dates and deadlines, and be sure everything is submitted on time. Stand out from other applicants by demonstrating your desire to earn their financial assistance – meet all deadlines and stay up-to-date on the status of your applications.

Keep copies of all of your applications (electronic or paper copies, or both), and save any confirmation numbers or application numbers you may receive in a safe, readily accessible place. You may be asked for them at some point.

It may take time and effort to get the funding you need for a wheelchair van or adaptive equipment, but it’s absolutely worth it to gain the freedom and independence that can change your life.

National Disability Employment Awareness Timeline

National Disability Employment Awareness Month TimelineThis year’s theme is “Because We are EQUAL to the Task.” This theme mirrors the reality that people with disabilities have the talent, education, desire, training, and experience to be successful in the workplace.

October is Rett Syndrome Awareness Month

Rett Syndrome Aweareness month

What is Rett Syndrome?
Rett syndrome is a postnatal neurological disorder seen almost always in girls, but can be rarely seen in boys. It is not a degenerative disorder.

Rett syndrome is caused by mutations on the X chromosome on a gene called MECP2. There are more than 200 different mutations found on the MECP2 gene. Most of these mutations are found in eight different “hot spots.”

Rett syndrome strikes all racial and ethnic groups, and occurs worldwide in 1 of every 10,000 to 23,000 female births.

Rett syndrome causes problems in brain function that are responsible for cognitive, sensory, emotional, motor and autonomic function. These can include learning, speech, sensory sensations, mood, movement, breathing, cardiac function, and even chewing, swallowing, and digestion.

Rett syndrome symptoms appear after an early period of apparently normal or near normal development until six to eighteen months of life, when there is a slowing down or stagnation of skills. A period of regression then follows when she loses communication skills and purposeful use of her hands. Soon, stereotyped hand movements such as handwashing, gait disturbances, and slowing of the normal rate of head growth become apparent. Other problems may include seizures and disorganized breathing patterns while she is awake. In the early years, there may be a period of isolation or withdrawal when she is irritable and cries inconsolably. Over time, motor problems may increase, but in general, irritability lessens and eye contact and communication improve.

Rett syndrome can present with a wide range of disability ranging from mild to severe. The course and severity of Rett syndrome is determined by the location, type and severity of her mutation and X-inactivation. Therefore, two girls of the same age with the same mutation can appear quite different.


Testing and Diagnosis
Rett syndrome is most often misdiagnosed as autism, cerebral palsy, or non-specific developmental delay. In the past, making the correct diagnosis called not only for a long list of diagnostic tests and procedures to rule out other disorders, but it also took from months to years waiting to confirm the diagnosis as new symptoms appeared over time. Today, we have a simple blood test to confirm the diagnosis. However, since we know that the MECP2 mutation is also seen in other disorders, the presence of the MECP2 mutation in itself is not enough for the diagnosis of Rett syndrome. Diagnosis requires either the presence of the mutation (a molecular diagnosis) or fulfillment of the diagnostic criteria (a clinical diagnosis, based on signs and symptoms that you can observe) or both. Below is a list of labs to share with your ordering physician that can do the MECP2 sequencing + deletion analysis, and the list of diagnostic criteria.

October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month

Down Syndrome Awareness month VMi New England

Down Syndrome Awareness Month is chance to spread awareness, advocacy and inclusion throughout the community.  During the month of October, we celebrate individuals with Down syndrome and make people aware of their abilities and accomplishments.

It’s not about celebrating disabilities; it’s about celebrating abilities.

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What Is Down Syndrome?

Down syndrome (or Down’s syndrome) is a chromosomal disorder caused by an error in cell division that results in an extra 21st chromosome. The condition leads to impairments in both cognitive ability and physical growth that range from mild to moderate developmental disabilities. Through a series of screenings and tests, Down syndrome can be detected before and after a baby is born.

The only factor known to affect the probability of having a baby with Down syndrome is maternal age. That is, less than one in 1,000 pregnancies for mothers less than 30 years of age results in a baby with Down syndrome. For mothers who are 44 years of age, about 1 in 35 pregnancies results in a baby with Down syndrome. Because younger women generally have more children, about 75 – 80% of children with Down syndrome are born to younger women.

What causes Down syndrome?
Down syndrome occurs because of an abnormality characterized by an extra copy of genetic material on all or part of the 21st chromosome. Every cell in the body contains genes that are grouped along chromosomes in the cell’s nucleus or center. There are normally 46 chromosomes in each cell, 23 inherited from your mother and 23 from your father. When some or all of a person’s cells have an extra full or partial copy of chromosome 21, the result is Down syndrome.

The most common form of Down syndrome is known as Trisomy 21, a condition where individuals have 47 chromosomes in each cell instead of 46. This is caused by an error in cell division called nondisjunction, which leaves a sperm or egg cell with an extra copy of chromosome 21 before or at conception. Trisomy 21 accounts for 95% of Down syndrome cases, with 88% originating from nondisjunction of the mother’s egg cell.

The remaining 5% of Down syndrome cases are due to conditions called mosaicism and translocation. Mosaic Down syndrome results when some cells in the body are normal while others have Trisomy 21. Robertsonian translocation occurs when part of chromosome 21 breaks off during cell division and attaches to another chromosome (usually chromosome 14). The presence of this extra part of chromosome 21 causes Down some syndrome characteristics. Although a person with a translocation may appear physically normal, he or she has a greater risk of producing a child with an extra 21st chromosome.

September has been designated by Congress as National Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month

september has been designated by congress as national spinal cord injury awareness month newenglandwheelchairvan.com

September has been designated by Congress as National Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month. Sponsored by Sen. Mark Rubio of Florida, the resolution notes:

  • the estimated 1,275,000 individuals in the United States who live with a spinal cord injury (SCI) cost society billions of dollars in health-care costs and lost wages;
  • an estimated 100,000 of those individuals are veterans who suffered the spinal cord injury while serving as members of the United States Armed Forces;
  • every 48 minutes a person will become paralyzed, underscoring the urgent need to develop new neuroprotection, pharmacological, and regeneration treatments to reduce, prevent, and reverse paralysis; and
  • increased education and investment in research are key factors in improving outcomes for victims of spinal cord injuries, improving the quality of life of victims, and ultimately curing paralysis.

“Paralyzed Veterans of America is passionate about its commitment to increasing awareness, supporting research to find a cure and advocating for exceptional quality of care for patients with spinal cord injury/disorders

Research into treating or finding a way to reverse paralysis from spinal cord injury is often expensive and hard to come by, involving specialized equipment and staff that many hospitals and research centers cannot afford. Government funding and support, as well as that of the private sector, will be crucial in the search for a treatment for paralysis.

Paralyzed Veterans of America has since its inception supported research in spinal cord science as well as educational initiatives to improve the lives of individuals with spinal cord injury—more than $100 million into research that promises new therapies, treatments and potential cures for paralysis. Top researchers supported by Paralyzed Veterans now confidently speak of a cure.

Abilities Expo Boston September 20-22

Abilities Expo  Boston September 20-22

boston abilities expo event for people with abilities september-20-22 vminnewengland.com

BOSTON, August 24, 2013 /VMiNewswire/ — VMi New England’s community of people with disabilities—which also includes families, caregivers, seniors, wounded veterans and healthcare professionals—welcomes the much-anticipated return of the Abilities Expo Boston on September 20-22, 2013 at The Boston Convention & Exhibition Center. Admission is free.

Abilities Expo Boston will take place in Boston, United States Of America for three consecutive days. In this international trade show latest and advanced disAbility products and services will be given supreme importance. The main purpose of this expo is to make the  people aware of the developmental changes which are taking place in this sector. At the same time this event will provide relevant and useful information to the disabled and senior individuals.
Abilities Expo Boston is a must attend event for the caregivers, healthcare professionals and the eminent experts related to this field. In this event they will get a chance to share their knowledge and experience with each other in this trade show.

Boston Abilities Expo September 20-22 2013

Boston Abilities Expo September 20-22

boston abilities expo event for people with abilities september-20-22 vminnewengland.com

For almost as long as we’ve been servicing and selling wheelchair vans , The Abilities Expo has been improving the lives of Americans with disAbilities, their families, caregivers and healthcare professionals. This unique forum features three days of cutting-edge products and services, compelling workshops, fun-for-the-whole-family activities and has become the leading event for the community of people with disabilities (PWDs).

Abilities Expo reaches out to all ages and all sectors of the Community including wounded veterans, persons recovering from immobilizing accidents, seniors with age-related health concerns, children with disabilities, individuals with mobility and spinal issues, people who have vision and hearing impairments, people with developmental disabilities and many more. Whether your challenges are mild or severe, this is your event.

Exhibitor Profile

Automobiles, van/conversions – Assistive technologies – Bathroom equipment – Beds, furnishings & accessories – Chairs & accessories – Clothing & apparel – Daily living aids – Durable medical equipment – Exercise, recreational, sports equipment & services – Home medical equipment & services – Incontinence products – Insurance & insurance services – Legal services – Publications – Ramps/lifts – Rehabilitative care/services – Residential programs – Seating/positioning systems & accessories – Travel & hospitality services – Wheelchairs, scooters & walkers

Boston Abilities Expo– Event for People with Abilities–Makes Boston Debut September 20-22

Abilities Expo–the Nation’s Leading Event for People with Abilities–Boston September 20-22

boston abilities expo event for people with abilities september-20-22 vminnewengland.com

BOSTON, August 22, 2013 /VMiNewswire/ — VMi New England’s community of people with disabilities—which also includes families, caregivers, seniors, wounded veterans and healthcare professionals—welcomes the much-anticipated return of the Abilities Expo Boston on September 20-22, 2013 at The Boston Convention & Exhibition Center. Admission is free.

Abilities Expo has enjoyed tremendous success in bringing life-enhancing products and services, education, resources and fun to people with disabilities in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Houston, Atlanta and San Jose each year.

The Abilities Expo Boston will feature an impressive line-up of exhibits, celebrities, workshops, events and activities to appeal to people of all ages with the full spectrum of disabilities—including physical, learning, developmental and sensory disabilities.

“We are thrilled for the opportunity to bring Abilities Expo to Boston,” said David Korse, president and CEO of Abilities Expo. “We can’t wait help people explore the possibilities and open their eyes to all the things they can do.”

The Latest Products and Services
Attendees will experience cutting-edge products and services for people with a wide range of disabilities. They will find mobility products, devices for people with developmental disabilities, medical equipment, home accessories, essential services, low-cost daily living aids, products for people with sensory impairments and much more.

Relevant Workshops
A series of compelling workshops which address pressing disability issues will be offered free-of-charge to all attendees. Sessions will focus on travel, emergency preparedness, therapeutic recreation, thriving as a parent of a unique child, home accessibility, finding the correct mobility device and that is just for starters.

Sports, Instruction, Dancing and More!
Abilities Expo does not merely inform, it engages and it entertains. Attendees of all levels of ability will learn the latest hip hop dance moves and play a host of adaptive sports like rowing, power soccer and more. And the kids will love the face painting!

Meet the Animals
Animals have become an intrinsic part of the community of people with disabilities. Some are essential to the healing process, while others help their human partners become more independent. Expo-goers will enjoy assistance dog demos, and learn how service monkeys can help people with special needs.

Celebrity Encounters
Meet Chelsie Hill, co-founder of the dance sensation Team Hotwheelz and one of the dynamic divas of Push Girls, Sundance Channel’s award-winning, boundary-breaking docu-series that traces the lives of four women in Hollywood who happen to be in wheelchairs.

Jennifer French, silver medalist for Sailing at the 2012 Paralympian Games and the 2013 Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year, will conduct a workshop and book signing for her new autobiography, On My Feet Again.

Come to VMi New England’s Mobility Center were every day is a Ability Expo

September is National Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month

WILL YOU STAND UP FOR THOSE WHO CAN’T?

September is National Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month

september is national spinal cord injury awareness month newenglandwheelchairvan.com

Every 48 minutes someone in the U.S. is paralyzed from a spinal cord injury.  Millions worldwide are living with paralysis as a result and living with the knowledge that there is currently no cure for their injury.

In an effort to raise awareness about the critical need for better treatments and preventive measures, September has been designated National Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month by the U.S. Senate, the result of a resolution co-sponsored by Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Bill Nelson (D-FL).  To bolster the resolution’s message, we are launching an awareness campaign lasting the entire month of September.

The goal of the campaign is to ask “Will You Stand Up For Those Who Can’t?”  The intent is to create a national conversation about the devastation of paralysis, and to bring this condition to the forefront of public awareness.

“Paralysis does not discriminate.  People need to realize that paralysis can happen to anyone at any time,” said Nick Buoniconti.  “But the reality of today’s statistics can’t be disputed.  Every 48 minutes another person in the U.S. will become paralyzed. That is simply unacceptable. Each of us must do what we can to make a difference.  I am personally asking you, will you stand up for those who can’t and do one or more of the following?”

We are asking our friends and supporters to:

Make a donation in honor of a loved one, caregiver, scientist or organization who is working to improve the life of those injured.  If you would like to host a small fundraising party at your house, please email bfinfo@med.miami.edu and we will send you more information.

“The inspiring work of The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis has touched the lives of millions of young athletes, accident victims and troops in harm’s way and I commend them for it,” said Sen. Rubio. “By designating September as National Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month, I hope we can further educate the public about how crippling accidents can be prevented while promoting the important work being done to help victims walk again.”

Trade In a Vehicle Towards a Wheelchair Van

boston trade in a vehicle towards a wheelchair van newenglandwheelchairvan.com/

cash paid for your wheelchair van

VMi New England Mobility Center accepts trade-in vehicles toward the purchase of an wheelchair accessible van. Get a trade-in quote with some of the best rates in the mobility industry. Update your current  wheelchair van, or trade in a car, truck, minivan, full-size van, sports car, or accessible vehicle towards a new or used handicap accessible ramp van. We use a variety of modern up to date appraisal tools, including Kelley Blue Book, NADA, and the Manheim Market Report. We will assess your vehicle’s trade-in value and provide you with a great offer towards the purchase of new wheelchair van or a used handicap van with new or used conversion.

Trade In Vehicle Requirements

We will accept virtually all non-modified vehicles that are preferably under 10 years old with odometers at 100,000 miles or less. You can also trade in a converted mobility vehicle from Braun, VMI, Rollx, and, even a AMS converted handicap vans.

Submit Your Vehicle’s Information
The first step is to call or email us about your trade. The basic information you provide helps our mobility consultants create the best trade-in deal possible for you. Be sure you include the correct VIN and mileage, and submit photos of your vehicle.

Trade-in Inspection
A mobility consultant will typically give a trade-in quote as soon as your vehicle is brought in for inspection. After a price is agreed upon, we will write you a check. For nationwide customers, we will pick up your trade-in at the time that we deliver your new or used handicap van.

All trade-in offers are based on a first hand inspection, and if a vehicle isn’t represented accurately, we reserve the right to withdraw the offer once the vehicle is personally inspected by our evaluator.

 

United Spinal Establishes Advisory Committee of Spinal Cord Injury Experts

united-spinal-establishes-advisory-committee-of-spinal-cord-injury-experts newenglandwheelchairvan.com

United Spinal Association has appointed a new Medical and Scientific Advisory Committee (MSAC) to offer guidance and expertise in assisting people living with spinal cord injuries and disorders (SCI/D) locate the very best resources to maximize their quality of life.

The MSAC is comprised of representatives of the multidisciplinary SCI/D health care community including clinicians, scientists, researchers and other professionals.

Committee chairman, Dr. Christine Sang, states, “Our mission is to maximize the quality of life of all people living with SCI/D. We envision a world in which all people living with SCI/D have access to every opportunity that improves health and quality of life.”

The committee will work directly with United Spinal’s membership division, NSCIA and its national resource center.

The goal of the MSAC is threefold:
• Provide information and guidance in medical/other health care-related topics
• Identify and address health care policy issues that impact the SCI/D community
• Inform the SCI/D community of the latest advancements in research relevant to their health and independence

“The MSAC is reflective of United Spinal’s ongoing commitment to actively supporting the highest possible quality of life for persons living with SCI/D,” said Pat Maher, MSAC and United Spinal board member, speaking on behalf of all members of the advisory committee.

“Whether you’re managing a newly acquired injury or diagnosis, or addressing the challenges around aging and SCI, the MSAC is committed to supporting our members and the entire SCI/D community to remain informed on critical health care matters,” he added.

“In the wake of any devastating diagnosis, people and their family members need to know that the information they’re receiving is accurate. We are incredibly fortunate to have the MSAC as a resource for the SCI/D community,” said Paul J. Tobin, president and CEO of United Spinal Association.

United Spinal’s NSCIA national resource center, Spinal Cord Central, provides information and resources to meet the needs of over one million individuals with SCI/D and:

• Their families and friends
• The medical and scientific community
• Service and business professionals
• The media; students; government; elected officials; and the public.

United Spinal and The Buoniconti Fund Team Up to Improve Peer Support for People Living With SCI/D

United Spinal Association and The Buoniconti Fund today announced their plans to create a coordinated national network of peer support groups called the “Spinal Network” that will set higher standards in assisting people living with spinal cord injuries and disorders (SCI/D).

The goal of the Spinal Network is to ensure more peer support groups in cities and towns across the United States are connected to the very best resources to help people with SCI/D maintain independent and active lifestyles.

united-spinal-and-the-buoniconti-fund-team-up-to-improve-peer-support-for-people-living-with-scid

“There are a variety of SCI/D support groups out there, both new and old. Unfortunately, there is very little coordination between them and their standards can be drastically different,” said Paul J. Tobin, president and CEO of United Spinal Association.

“In many cases, a person with SCI/D who has had great peer support may move to a new community with minimal support. Even worse, someone may leave a rehab facility with no support whatsoever and no clear picture of how to overcome new challenges,” added Tobin.

To date, over thirty support groups in 20 states have received funding through grants from The Spinal Network for their commitment to improve the lives of people with SCI/D.

“We believe there is a strong need for greater support for individuals and families that are affected by spinal cord injuries and disorders. The Spinal Network will help bridge that gap between people living with SCI/D and their community so they are able to not only return home, but gain a new understanding and outlook on life,” said Marc A. Buoniconti, president of The Buoniconti Fund and one of the founding members of the Spinal Network.

The Spinal Network will address this issue by establishing a strong national peer-to-peer support base, backed by United Spinal’s membership division, National Spinal Cord Injury Association (NSCIA), and its 70-plus national chapters and extensive resource center.  Guidance will be provided on all facets of living with SCI/D, including employment, affordable housing, transportation, health care, home- and community-based independent living, education, peer support, and leisure and recreation.

Extensive tools and training will also be provided to leaders of each peer support group that joins the Spinal Network to help group participants adjust to SCI/D––from tips to improving social interactions and overcoming day-to-day challenges, to developing new self-management skills.

The Spinal Network is established through a partnership between The Buoniconti Fund; United Spinal Association and its membership program NSCIA; and tremendous support from Founding Corporate Sponsor Hollister, Inc.––a world leader in urological products.

The Spinal Network will offer grant opportunities, which are available to all support groups in the SCI/D community in the United States. Grants will be awarded bi-annually to groups who meet specific criteria.

Additional micro-grants will be awarded bi-annually based upon available funding and will encourage program innovation and outreach efforts to people newly affected by SCI/D.  Finally, the Spinal Network will work to ensure that peers can find out what they need and when they need it, as they move from one area to another.  As every person with SCI/D learns in rehab, one of the most reliable sources of information about living with SCI/D is another person who has been there.  The Spinal Network will help make those connections.

To learn more about the Spinal Network peer mentoring program, go online to: www.spinalnetwork.org or contact the NSCIA’s Resource Center at: peers@spinalcord.org or by phone:  800-962-9629.

cinemAbility disAbility, film, and changing society

If art is a reflection of life, than we should look to film to examine the progress we’ve made and the lessons we’ve learned about inclusion.

CinemAbility   Disability, Film, and Changing Society newenglandwheelchairvan.com

 

That’s exactly what a new documentary titled CinemAbility, which premiered in Los Angeles last week, seeks to do. The film, sponsored by BraunAbility and produced and directed by Jenni Gold, a longtime friend and customer, takes a detailed look at the evolution of disability in entertainment. As a wheelchair user who lives with muscular dystrophy, she was the perfect catalyst to set the project in motion.

She brought a few well-known friends along for help, including celebrities like Jamie Foxx, William H. Macy, Ben Affleck and Beau Bridges. All shared their experiences with disability in film or television and any pre-conceived notions they had about playing such a character.

Unbeknownst to each, the actors and actresses were asked the same question: What is the first portrayal of a disability that you remember in entertainment? Answers ranged from a blind Audrey Hepburn in Wait Until Dark to Daniel Day-Lewis in My Left Foot to Tom Cruise in Born on the 4th of July.

CinemAbility   Disability, Film, and Changing Society newenglandwheelchairvan.com

The common theme among each interview: we need more. We’ve come a long way from the days of black and white Charlie Chaplin films when people with physical disabilities were portrayed as carnival freak show entertainment. Hollywood doesn’t always get it right, however, and many of the industry’s notable actors, actresses and directors are intentionally seeking to change that.

CinemAbility premiered Friday, July 26th, which was, appropriately, the 23rd anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act. For a list of cities that will show the film on its national tour, visit www.cinemability.com or follow CinemAbility on Facebook.

 

Able Flight Brings Wheelchair user to the Sky

able flight brings wheelchair user to the sky boston newenglandwheelchairvan.com

Humanity has always seen flight as one of the most sublime images of freedom in motion. It seems almost unfair that our feathered friends get to move about so quickly to wherever they may please. It seems to be nothing short of magical. Piloting an aircraft was a pipedream for wheelchair users for many a year; that is, until 2006.

Charles Stites founded the non-profit group, Able Flight, for the sole purpose of giving those accustomed to wheels a new pair of wings. Able Flight works to give scholarships to people who have physical disabilities for the purpose of obtaining a Sport Pilot license. Some of the group’s funding goes to purchasing special modified aircraft for people with differing needs to have a plane to fly.

Nothing says it better than the mission statement used by foundation: Able Flight’s mission is to offer people with disabilities a unique way to challenge themselves through flight training, and by doing so, to gain greater self-confidence and self-reliance.

The program received a special boon in 2010 when a partnership with the premiere Purdue University Department of Aviation Technology took place. Able Flight offers a range of scholarships for students to go learn from the world-class flight instructors at Purdue.

Most flight instruction takes place during the months of May and June, for a total of 5 to 6 weeks. This time covers ground-based classwork and in-flight training, all leading up to the check ride tests. Most flight training is now conducted with Able Flight’s joint training program at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. Career training can take place at a number of locations.

The scholarship types range from a full-ride scholarship for those looking to obtain a Sport Pilot license, to those seeking training for a career working on and with Light Sport Aircraft in either maintenance or dispatching. Another scholarship is made available for those who had a pilot’s license and are seeking to get back in the air after an injury.

To see pictures of students in training, and in flight, click here.

The requirements are basic as well. Applicants must be a U.S. citizen seventeen years or older with a disability. Recipients have had disabilities ranging from lost limbs and SCI to congenital birth disorders.

Leonardo Da Vinci captured a strong sentiment for those who admire the sky, Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.

Thanks to Purdue University and Able Flight, being in a wheelchair doesn’t mean just looking into the sky any longer.

The Ralph Braun Foundation enters new Grant Cycle

The Ralph Braun Foundation will be opening a new funding cycle on August 1, 2013.  The two month time period will be operated similarly to the past cycles with the application process closing on September 30th. The grants are awarded to those who have most of their funding secured and just need a little additional help to meet their goal.

The Ralph Braun Foundation has been awarding grants for three years with 12-15 grants being awarded annually.

Ralph Braun

The  entire application process must be completed online. The application must be filled out completely and all attachments sent electronically with the application. We will be funding mobility transportation equipment such as new or used accessible vehicles, wheelchair lifts, car-top wheelchair carriers, scooter lifts, access seats, etc. Eligible products may be funded at 25% of the cost with a grant cap of $5000.

All applicants must be working with a NMEDA (National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association) certified mobility dealer to determine and quote the proper product to meet their needs.

The grant applications will be reviewed after the process closes on September 30, 2013, and grant award letters will be sent on October 15, 2013.  All purchases must be completed and checks sent to dealers by December 15, 2013.  Please read all application rules and fill out applications completely and submit your completed application along with all requested attachments together. We are looking forward to receiving many good applications again this cycle and assisting several people with their purchases.

The Ralph Braun Foundation was created in honor of what Ralph stood for, ability for all. The Ralph Braun Foundation exists as an entity outside of BraunAbility. Funds from the grant can be used towards any mobility need from any manufacturer.

Copies of Ralph’s autobiography, “Rise Above” can be purchased from the foundation. The foundation graciously accepts donations on their site as well.

The application can be found here.

are you looking to trade or sell your wheelchair van?

Used Conversion Vans and

Non-Adaptive Autos Can be Used Toward a Down Payment

are-you-looking-to-trade-or-sell-your-wheelchair-van newenglandwheelchairvan.com

We often get phone calls or e-mails asking if we take trade-ins — or if we’re interested in purchasing a used accessible van. In some cases, the trade-in vehicle is a non-adaptive regular automobile, van, SUV  or truck. The answer in all cases is yes. For trade-ins, we can give you a fair market value for your adaptive and non-adaptive vehicle. The trade-in vehicle can be used toward a down payment on any new or used wheelchair van for sale. We do all the paperwork on your trade-in as part of the financing process. All you need is the title.

If you’re looking to trade in your current wheelchair van or looking to sell one that is no longer being used, contact us online here. We can often have a representative in your area respond within 24 hours. Live on-site inspections and a test drive by one of our technicians may be required before a final assessment and offer can be made.

What If I don’t Live Near One of Your Locations?

If you live outside of our service area and have a converted van for sale, we have national buying specialists who handles all of our out-of-area used vehicle purchases.

vmi to deliver honda odyssey with northstar to local heroes contest winner, steve herbst

vmi-to-deliver-honda-odyssey-with-northstar-to-local-heroes-contest-winner-steve-herbst newenglandwheelchairvan.com

PHOENIX, Ariz. – August 6, 2013 – Vantage Mobility International (VMI), a leader in the manufacturing and distribution of wheelchair accessible, full-size and minivan conversions, will deliver a 2013 Honda Odyssey Touring Edition with VMI Northstar conversion on August 7, 2013, at MobilityWorks in Villa Park, Ill., to Steve Herbst, a winner of the 2013 Local Heroes Contest.

The Local Heroes Contest, which provides an opportunity for people with disabilities to win a wheelchair accessible vehicle, attracted over two million people who submitted and voted for their Local Hero. The contest is a part of National Mobility Awareness Month and championed by the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA).  Herbst, a Palatine, Ill., resident was identified as one of three winners in May.

“Being a part of the Local Heroes Contest is a special way for VMI to help raise awareness of the amazing people in our communities who live with disabilities,” said Monique McGivney, director of corporate communication at VMI. “It also gives us the opportunity to help deserving families, like the Herbsts, enjoy greater independence with a wheelchair accessible van that meets their specific needs.  I’m confident the 2013 Honda Odyssey Touring Edition with VMI Northstar conversion, which has been customized specifically for Steve, will make a positive difference in his life.”

The black 2013 Honda Odyssey Touring Edition with VMI Northstar conversion includes the following standard features:

  • Maximum interior space for wheelchair maneuverability
  • SURE DEPLOY backup system allows users to stow or deploy the mobility ramp van conversion even in the event of complete power failure
  • Wider, usable accessible ramp surface with an ultra-low, 8.0 degree accessible ramp angle with 800lb. wheelchair ramp capacity
  • Easily accessible interior buttons, handles and switches
  • Obstruction-free doorway allows easy entry/exit for able-bodied passengers

“The Local Heroes Contest couldn’t have come at a better time,” said Herbst.  “I lost the ability to drive my previous vehicle shortly before we heard about the contest. Throughout the contest we had tremendous support from friends, family and co-workers.  We received almost 38,000 votes, which is very humbling to think about.  We’re especially grateful to VMI for being a part of this contest and providing us with their Honda Odyssey with their in-floor ramp, which was customized with the hand controls that will allow me to drive again.   VMI’s generosity will help me regain my independence and stay involved in the community, which are very important to me and my family.”

enhancing the client experience wheelchair vans in new england

enhancing-the-client-experience-wheelchair-vans-in-new-england newenglandwheelchairvan.com

VMi New England Mobility Center is always looking for ways to make the client experience more enjoyable – whether it’s coming in for service, purchasing a van or stopping buy to see which van fit the best. Below are some of things we’ve been working on to keep our clients satisfied and coming back. Getting your stamp of approval to recommend us to family and friends is a key ingredient to our success. We hope that your experience with us is always a good one.

Online

Our new website makes it easier for people to find a mobility solution that fits their needs and budget. We’ve added dozens of detailed pages on a variety of adaptive equipment options, such as scooter lifts and hand controls. We’ve recently updated our online van showroom to help visitors find the perfect handicap vans for there needs. We also have a large number of Face Book fans who follow our weekly blogs and postings. “Like Us” and see why more people are visiting every day already have!

In the Showroom

VMi New England Mobility Center has built one of the best showrooms and reception areas in the north east this past year to make our visitors feel more at home. Others are in process or being planned for. Large flatscreen televisions have been put in place.

Fresh brewed coffee is always available for our morning arrivals and comfortable seating areas let people relax while reading a book or magazine. Wireless connectivity allow for working on a laptop or wireless device. When you come to our facility, you will meet friendly people who want to help. Our clients are like family.

Consulting

We’ve added more certified mobility consultants too our staff and continue to train others who want to work in this very fulfilling industry. Consultations to discuss and demonstrate all of our mobility products are always free of charge. For those clients who want to drive with the use of mobility equipment or driving aids, we can bring in a Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialist (CDRS) to talk about evaluations and training – or put you in contact with one nearby. Selecting the right vehicle and other optional mobility equipment, such as a turning seat, is key to be happy customer.

“Getting good advice from a consultant early in the process is critical to making the right decision. We pride ourselves on customer satisfaction – and that’s where the most important part of being happy with us and the vehicle begins.” Jim Sanders

Wheelchair Vans & Lift Options

We have one of the largest network of mobility manufacturing partners in the industry. We represent nearly every major brand of wheelchair van conversions, specialty seating, securement, scooter lifts and wheelchair lifts available. Our goal is to inform you of every choice available and to consult on which ones meet your physical needs and chair or scooter requirements. We want to enhance your life with a solution that you’re going to be comfortable with for many years to come. Solutions that make it easier for you and your family to enjoy an active life. Additionally the company is run by one of the most experienced people in the country at building High-Tech driving equipment and vans for passengers and individuals who drive from a wheelchair. He offers unmatched practical and theoretical foundation in the application of vehicle modifications for individuals with disabilities. With over 27 years experience, he continues to spearhead new and exciting technological advancements in this growing and emerging market.

In the Community

Our local staff at the VMi New England mobility center is active in various organizations and events around the country. Every week, there is an event going on where we want to participate: Fund raisers; tradeshows; bike rides, motorcycle runs; walks; expos; in-service training; socials; and many other community events. Our blog is full of stories sharing event information and photos of clients and friends. If we can’t participate, we’ll help in other ways, like posting information on our sites including our Linkedin, Face Book page and Twitter pages. If you would like us to come and speak or participate at an event near you, please let us know.

Service

We have put into place new scheduling procedures that allow for the Service Managers to get our clients in and out as quickly as possible. This allows for having the right service bays, parts and technicians ready to work on your vehicle (or lift) at the scheduled date and time you are to arrive. We’ve increased our training requirements and manufacturer communications to make sure the work is done properly with the latest instructions and components. If your van is under its original adaptive equipment warranty, or registered in our extended warranty program, we’ll identify and apply the appropriate coverage so that all costs are minimized.

Client Satisfaction

We utilize an independent survey that follows up with each of our clients – applying satisfaction scores to numerous categories. These surveys are then reviewed by our senior management and store General Managers on a weekly basis. Whether you came in for service, purchased new or used wheelchair vans, or had new hand controls installed, we take your feedback seriously and immediately correct any issues that need attention. We are proud to say our satisfaction scores are very high compared to most industry studies. We will continue working hard to keep your business.

where to buy wheelchair van in boston

where-to-buy-wheelchair-van-in-boston newenglandwheelchairvan.com

Wheelchair Conversion Vans from VMi New England and Automotive Innovations

The Honda Odyssey is known for its reliability and comfort, and it’s one of the most popular minivans on the market today. Because of this, VMI has taken the Odyssey and added its VMI Northstar conversion to create one of the most exciting new lowered floor minivans around. This wheelchair conversion van comes with lots of extra touches for your convenience and comfort, and it drives smoothly. Come test drive the converted Honda Odyssey at our Bridgewater, MA Mobility Center today!

We are your New England source for secondhand handicap accessible vans of all sorts. We offer both used VMI Northstars and Summits as well as many secondhand full size accessible vans. Every used handicap vehicle that we offer comes with the safety essentials like wheelchair tie downs, and you can also upgrade any of our vehicles with optional equipment such as an EZ Lock or handicap vehicle controls.

Celebrating 23 Years of the ADA A Message from the Acting Assistant Attorney General

celebrating-23-years-of-the-ada-a-message-from-the-acting-assistant-attorney-general newenglandwheelchairvan.com

Celebrating 23 Years of the ADA:
A Message from the Acting Assistant Attorney General

Twenty-three years ago this week, our nation committed to a comprehensive mandate to eliminate discrimination against people with disabilities by enacting the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The Civil Rights Division is proud to play a critical role in enforcing the ADA, working towards a future in which all the doors are open to equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living, integration and economic self-sufficiency for persons with disabilities. In honor of the 23rd anniversary of the ADA, each day this week we have celebrated Department of Justice enforcement efforts that have opened gateways to full participation and opportunity for people with disabilities. Visit our ADA Anniversary Week webpage to learn more: http://www.ada.gov/ada-23-anni.htm.

In April 2013, the Civil Rights Division issued a report detailing recent accomplishments in enforcing federal laws that prohibit discrimination and uphold the civil and constitutional rights of all who live in America. As described in the Report, the Division achieved results for people with disabilities in over 1,600 actions under the ADA, including lawsuits, settlement agreements, and successful mediations from 2009-2012. The Report also describes the Division’s extensive ADA technical assistance and outreach program. In the past four years, Division staff helped more than 200,000 people who called our ADA Information Line to learn how the ADA applies to them. In Fiscal Year 2012, the Division answered more than 60,000 calls. Click here for links to the Accomplishments Report pages detailing disability rights enforcement efforts http://www.ada.gov/disability-rights-accomplishments.htm (html) andhttp://www.ada.gov/disability-rights-accomplishments.pdf (pdf).

Equal opportunity for those with disabilities is a vision that the Division hopes will soon extend beyond our nation’s borders. There are over 50 million Americans with disabilities, including 5.5 million veterans living abroad who frequently face barriers when they travel, conduct business, study, live or retire overseas. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities improves protections for persons with disabilities overseas, and allows the full range of U.S. accessibility rights and benefits to spread throughout the world. The Division continues to play an active role in the quest for U.S. ratification of the Convention to ensure additional gateways open for people with disabilities across the globe.

Here at home, we have come a long way in the journey for equal justice under the law for people with disabilities. We are frequently reminded, however, that — in the words of the late Senator Edward Kennedy — “the business of civil rights remains the unfinished business of America.” The Civil Rights Division plays a critical role in helping the nation realize the promise of its founding principles. Over the past 23 years, the Division has continued our nation’s journey toward equal justice. But we have more work to do. Today, on the 23rd anniversary of the ADA, I am happy to reaffirm the Division’s commitment to the promise of equal opportunity for people with disabilities in the months and years to come.

Jocelyn Samuels


ADA Home Page

Wheelchair Van Service Considerations Maine

Wheelchair Van Service Considerations in ME

maine wheelchair-van-service-considerations newenglandwheelchairvan.com

At VMi New England Mobility Center, we believe that the service you receive in Maine after you purchase a wheelchair van is just as important as the service you received during your purchasing process. Our main goal is to keep you and the other passengers in the vehicle as safe as possible, which is why our wheelchair van service offerings are unlike any others in the vehicle modification industry.

Trained Service Technicians

All VMi New England Mobility Center Technicians are certified in the mobility equipment that is sold, installed, and serviced.  We are held to the highest standards in the adaptive vehicle industry.

Some of Longest Warranties in the Vehicle Modification Industry

We want to protect our customers and make sure that we offer the best options for them.

Operational Maintenance Program

For more than 27 years we have implemented and evolved a multi-faceted operational maintenance schedule unavailable at any other facility in the country to assist you in maintaining optimum driving performance while also assessing critical component deterioration before it occurs. Our Service Technicians will provide you with list of all work performed on your wheelchair accessible vehicle and a list of any items that may require future attention. Also, we will inform you of any upcoming maintenance and service you may need done to your wheelchair accessible vehicle in order to make sure your adaptive vehicle is in top condition.

Other dealers want your old vans to rust and fall apart so they can sell you a new one.

Wheelchair van rust not at newenglandwheelchairvan.com if you bring it to us for service
a local mobility dealers idea of taking care of your wheelchair van

Operational Maintenance of Adaptive Mobility Equipment on:

  • Lowered Floor Wheelchair Van (New & Used)
  • Full-Size Wheelchair Vans (New & Used)
  • Primary and Secondary Driving Controls
  • Wheelchair Lifts and Scooter Lifts
  • Wheelchair Securement Systems (automatic and manual)
  • Power Seat Bases
  • Power Door Operators

Special service work or repairs to your Adaptive Equipment

Installation of new Adaptive Equipment on new and used wheelchair vans such as:

  • Hand Controls
  • Wheelchair Lifts and Scooter Lifts
  • Raised Doors
  • Lowered Floors
  • Specialized gas, brake, and steering systems
  • Turning Automotive Seats

Vermont Commercial Wheelchair Vans

According to the 2005 American Community Study by the Center for Personal Assistance Services, approximately 95,000 individuals living in Vermont are considered to be disabled in some manner. Specifically, about 2.4% of the population of Vermont have difficulty with every day tasks such as taking a bath, getting dressed, moving about the house, and driving.

vermont-disability vermont-commercial-wheelchair-vans newenglandwheelchairvan.com

At the VMi New England Mobility Center, we offer specialized transportation products and services for private and commercial use. For more than 25 years we have been servicing the commercial and personal wheelchair vehicle needs of the state of Vermont including the Burlington area and Chittenden, Franklin and Grand Isle counties.

If your business needs a new or used accessible van, bus, shuttle or other commercial vehicle in Vermont, look through our online inventory to find the vehicle that’s right for you. View our commercial accessible vehicles, used vans and buses, modifications and accessories or visit our commercial wheelchair van and bus inventory.

We can help you evaluate how many passengers you need to carry, Vermont state regulatory requirements and other commercial considerations when buying a wheelchair van, replacement parts or accessories.

After VMi New England Mobility Center helps you locate the perfect commercial wheelchair van, bus, shuttle, or ambulette, we deliver! We can deliver it right to your door. We will drive, tow or trailer your wheelchair accessible vehicle to Vermont, to your business. We often make deliveries to Burlington, South Burlington, as well as Franklin, Grand Isle and Chittenden counties, so contact us today for your commercial mobility needs, so contact us today.

Learn more about delivery information for Vermont wheelchair vans and parts and our commercial warranty.

We look forward to helping your business provide exceptional service to your wheelchair users, school students, group homes, and rehab centers in the great state of Vermont.

Accessible Parking Spaces ADA Design Guide

ADA Design Guide 1 – Restriping Parking Lots

accessible-parking-spaces-ada-design-guide newenglandwheelchairvan.com

Accessible Parking Spaces

When a business, State or local government agency, or other covered entity restripes a parking lot, it must provide accessible parking spaces as required by the ADA Standards for Accessible Design. Failure to do so would violate the ADA.

In addition, businesses or privately owned facilities that provide goods or services to the public have a continuing ADA obligation to remove barriers to access in existing parking lots when it is readily achievable to do so. Because restriping is relatively inexpensive, it is readily achievable in most cases.

This ADA Design Guide provides key information about how to create accessible car and van spaces and how many spaces to provide when parking lots are restriped.

(illustration showing a woman getting out of the driver’s side of a car into a manual wheelchair)

 

Accessible Parking Spaces for Cars

Accessible parking spaces for cars have at least a 60-inch-wide access aisle located adjacent to the designated parking space. The access aisle is just wide enough to permit a person using a wheelchair to enter or exit the car. These parking spaces are identified with a sign and located on level ground.

 

Van-Accessible Parking Spaces

Van-accessible parking spaces are the same as accessible parking spaces for cars except for three features needed for vans:

a wider access aisle (96″) to accommodate a wheelchair lift;

vertical clearance to accommodate van height at the van parking space, the adjacent access aisle, and on the vehicular route to and from the van-accessible space, and

an additional sign that identifies the parking spaces as “van accessible.”

One of eight accessible parking spaces, but always at least one, must be van-accessible.

 

(illustration showing a van with a side-mounted wheelchair lift lowered onto a marked access aisle at a van-accessible parking space. A person using a wheelchair is getting out of the van. A dashed line shows the route from the lift to the sidewalk.)

Features of Accessible Parking Spaces for Cars

(plan drawing showing an accessible parking space for cars with a 96 inch wide designated parking space, a 60 inch wide min. marked access aisle and the following notes)

Sign with the international symbol of accessibility mounted high enough so it can be seen while a vehicle is parked in the space.

If the accessible route is located in front of the space, install wheelstops to keep vehicles from reducing width below 36 inches.

Access aisle of at least 60-inch width must be level (1:50 maximum slope in all directions), be the same length as the adjacent parking space(s) it serves and must connect to an accessible route to the building. Ramps must not extend into the access aisle.

Boundary of the access aisle must be marked. The end may be a squared or curved shape.

Two parking spaces may share an access aisle.

 

Three Additional Features for Van-Accessible Parking Spaces

(plan drawing showing a van-accessible parking space with a 96 inch wide designated parking space, a 96 inch wide min. marked access aisle and the following notes)

Sign with “van accessible” and the international symbol of accessibility mounted high enough so the sign can be seen when a vehicle is parked in the space

96″ min. width access aisle, level (max. slope 1:50 in all directions), located beside the van parking space

Min. 98-inch-high clearance at van parking space, access aisle, and on vehicular route to and from van space

Minimum Number of Accessible Parking Spaces

(text of following table)

Table showing the minimum number of accessible parking spaces. Text following contains contents of the table.

Total Parking decorative blank spaceTotal Minimum decorative blank spaceVan Accessible decorative blank spaceAccessible Parking

Spaces Provided decorative blank spaceNumber of Accessibledecorative blank space Parking Spacesdecorative blank space Spaces with

(per lot) decorative blank spaceParking Spaces decorative blank spacewith min. 96″ min. decorative blank space60″ wide

decorative blank space(60″ & 96″ aisles)decorative blank spacewide access decorative blank spaceaisle access aisle

 

1 to 25 1 1 0

26 to 50 2 1 1

51 to 75 3 1 2

76 to 100 4 1 3

101 to 150 5 1 4

151 to 200 6 1 5

201 to 300 7 1 6

301 to 400 8 1 7

401 to 500 9 2 7

501 to 1000 2% of total

parking provided 1/8 of Column A* 7/8 of Column A**

in each lot

1001 and over 20 plus 1 for

each 100 1/8 of Column A* 7/8 of Column A**

over 1000

one out of every 8 accessible spaces ** 7 out of every 8 accessible parking spaces

 

Location

Accessible parking spaces must be located on the shortest accessible route of travel to an accessible facility entrance. Where buildings have multiple accessible entrances with adjacent parking, the accessible parking spaces must be dispersed and located closest to the accessible entrances.

When accessible parking spaces are added in an existing parking lot, locate the spaces on the most level ground close to the accessible entrance. An accessible route must always be provided from the accessible parking to the accessible entrance. An accessible route never has curbs or stairs, must be at least 3- feet wide, and has a firm, stable, slip-resistant surface. The slope along the accessible route should not be greater than 1:12 in the direction of travel.

Accessible parking spaces may be clustered in one or more lots if equivalent or greater accessibility is provided in terms of distance from the accessible entrance, parking fees, and convenience. Van-accessible parking spaces located in parking garages may be clustered on one floor (to accommodate the 98-inch minimum vertical height requirement).

 

Free Technical Assistance

Answers to technical and general questions about restriping parking lots or other ADA requirements are available by telephone on weekdays. You may also order the ADA Standards for Accessible Design and other ADA publications, including regulations for private businesses or State and local governments, at any time day or night. Information about ADA-related IRS tax credits and deductions is also available from the ADA Information Line.

Department of Justice

ADA Information Line

800-514-0301 (voice)

800-514-0383 (tty)

 

Internet

You may also review or download information on the Department’s ADA Internet site at any time. The site provides access to ADA regulations, technical assistance materials, and general ADA information. It also provides links to other Federal agencies, and updates on new ADA requirements and enforcement efforts. Internet address:

www.usdoj.gov/crt/ada/index.html

 

Reference:

ADA Standards for Accessible Design (28 CFR Part 36):

§ 4.1.6 Alterations;

§ 4.1.2 Accessible Sites and Exterior Facilities: New Construction, and

§ 4.1.6 Parking and Passenger Loading Zones.

Wheelchair Van Service Considerations New Hampshire

Wheelchair Van Service Considerations in NH

New Hampshire  wheelchair-van-service-considerations newenglandwheelchairvan.com

At VMi New England Mobility Center, we believe that the service you receive in New Hampshire after you purchase a wheelchair van is just as important as the service you received during your purchasing process. Our main goal is to keep you and the other passengers in the vehicle as safe as possible, which is why our wheelchair van service offerings are unlike any others in the vehicle modification industry.

Trained Service Technicians

All VMi New England Mobility Center Technicians are certified in the mobility equipment that is sold, installed, and serviced.  We are held to the highest standards in the adaptive vehicle industry.

Some of Longest Warranties in the Vehicle Modification Industry

We want to protect our customers and make sure that we offer the best options for them.

Operational Maintenance Program

For more than 27 years we have implemented and evolved a multi-faceted operational maintenance schedule unavailable at any other facility in the country to assist you in maintaining optimum driving performance while also assessing critical component deterioration before it occurs. Our Service Technicians will provide you with list of all work performed on your wheelchair accessible vehicle and a list of any items that may require future attention. Also, we will inform you of any upcoming maintenance and service you may need done to your wheelchair accessible vehicle in order to make sure your adaptive vehicle is in top condition.

Other dealers want your old vans to rust and fall apart so they can sell you a new one.

Wheelchair van rust not at newenglandwheelchairvan.com if you bring it to us for service
a local mobility dealers idea of taking care of your wheelchair van

Operational Maintenance of Adaptive Mobility Equipment on:

  • Lowered Floor Wheelchair Van (New & Used)
  • Full-Size Wheelchair Vans (New & Used)
  • Primary and Secondary Driving Controls
  • Wheelchair Lifts and Scooter Lifts
  • Wheelchair Securement Systems (automatic and manual)
  • Power Seat Bases
  • Power Door Operators

Special service work or repairs to your Adaptive Equipment

Installation of new Adaptive Equipment on new and used wheelchair vans such as:

  • Hand Controls
  • Wheelchair Lifts and Scooter Lifts
  • Raised Doors
  • Lowered Floors
  • Specialized gas, brake, and steering systems
  • Turning Automotive Seats

ADA’s Impact on Everyday Lives

ADA’s Impact on Everyday Lives

ada-impact-on-everyday-lives newenglandwheelchairvan.com

Overview

Since its passage in 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is slowly but surely changing the landscape and the lives of individuals with disabilities and their families every single day. Instead of repeatedly having to argue for their right to equal access and equal opportunity to participate in the programs, goods and services available to individuals without disabilities, children and adults with disabilities are discovering that—while the landscape is still not fully barrier free—they can usually go about their business without encountering barriers or interruption.

The articles below illustrate the ways in which the ADA impacts the lives of community members, employees, college students and families living the Southeast Region of the United States. These stories—and others—are repeated every day in communities, businesses and on campuses throughout the United States.

Index of Contents

Accessible Cities: People with Disabilities Survey Public Facilities

Over a three year period, small teams of people, with and without disabilities, visited city halls, libraries, civic centers, and parks in 14 cities in Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North and South Carolina, and Tennessee. Their goal was to check the accessibility of these civic places and to see how well these public sites met the access needs of individuals with a variety of disabilities.

The intention was not to ‘catch their cities napping’ or to report them for not being in full compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Instead, the goal was to examine and report on how easily—or not—people with visual, hearing, and mobility disabilities could enter a public facility and use the services available to people without disabilities.

One of the goals of the ADA is to remove access barriers and promote full and equal participation in civic life for individuals with disabilities. The cross-disability teams of people looking at access to public facilities in seven Southeast states were part of the Community Participation Research Project, conducted jointly by the Southeast ADA Center, its State Affiliates and the Burton Blatt Institute at Syracuse University. This research project was unique because it used Participatory Action Research (PAR). PAR research is developed and implemented in full collaboration between people with disabilities and researchers, focusing on their concerns and interests while still maintaining research protocols and validity.

In this study, seven teams of 5-6 researchers surveyed sites in a total of 14 cities, two cities in each state. The cities were matched in terms of demographics. The only difference was that one city had previously reached a Settlement Agreement with the Department of Justice to correct access barriers identified in one or more of its city facilities. Georgia was used as a pilot site to test the survey instruments and the way in which the local researchers were trained. Cities in the other six states were surveyed over the next two years, with state teams visiting both of their two cities within a few days of each other.

One of the things they found was that many of the public entities did not fully understand what good access means. As one local researcher explained,

“It is unfortunate that some public venues think they are providing adequate access to services, but the consumer’s experience may be quite different.”

They also found that public entities often did not realize that people with different disabilities had different access needs. For example, two local researchers—one who uses a wheelchair and one who is blind—had very different experiences when they visited the same library. Both were able to enter the library easily. However, the person using a wheelchair was able to use the library’s computer independently to locate the book he wanted while the woman who was blind discovered that she could not use the library computers with a screen reader and that the staff didn’t know how to open the software that would let her search the files by herself.

In fact, one of the study findings was that people who were blind or who had low vision found the city sites less accessible overall than did people who used wheelchairs or who were deaf.

For example, because the public restrooms in a city park were not identified in Braille and raised lettering, one man who was blind started to enter the women’s restroom by mistake. Another, more frustrating, situation took place in a public library. One researcher asked about library materials for individuals with vision-related disabilities and received little helpful information. However, in talking to another researcher later, she discovered that the library had a good collection of audiobooks.

Researchers who used wheelchairs or who were hard-of-hearing also discovered some problems. Individuals who use wheelchairs identified barriers related to parking enforcement, steep ramps, counter heights, thresholds, and door handles. Another researcher contacted a civic center prior to arriving and asked if they had an assistive listening system (ALS). He was told that they did not have an ALS but on the day of the performance when he asked again, he was given headphones without comment or delay.

As a researcher pointed out:

“Most of the places I went, there was more assistance available than I turned up beforehand [on the website or by contacting the site directly]. Perhaps people didn’t know what was available or had not been trained to answer questions about providing assistance. All public places should have a brochure or flyer printed to show what accommodations or assistance they have.”

Researchers using a TTY (Telecommunication Device for the Deaf) found many public agencies either did not have one or did not know how to use it. And, in some cases, researchers noted that absent or hard to find and see signage, for accessible entrances, emergency exits, or identifying restrooms, was frustrating and challenging. More seriously, one researcher reported that when emergency exit information was reviewed for the audience at a civic center, there was no mention of accessible emergency exits.

Despite these access issues, the researchers reported delight at the many examples of accessibility that they encountered, including some new discoveries such as accessible park benches and picnic tables. One researcher noted “this was the most accessible website I have ever seen. I could completely access the entire website and library into my screen reader.” They also noted many staff contributed to positive experiences, including demonstrating a willingness to put together a needed accommodation. One researcher reported receiving a “very prompt and helpful response” and another added “excellent facility for accessibility. Staff is knowledgeable and sensitive to persons with disability.” In fact, almost two-thirds of the time researchers found that entities had a staff member who coordinated services for people with disabilities. Even when access barriers were encountered, the willingness of staff to try to resolve the issue went a long way toward easing the researchers’ frustration.

Finally, the PAR project provided opportunities for increased understanding and appreciation of all the issues involved in providing good access. Because people with disabilities were integral to the research from start to finish, they were aware of subtle access needs that others without disabilities would likely overlook. Their participation in the project also increased their own awareness of the areas where more education and guidance were needed.

“It’s always eye opening to realize how few people take issues of accessibility truly into consideration when running public places. Clearly, much more information is needed and ways to implement them developed.”

Another commented:

“I know how to get around my own city. Know the accessible entrances and how to ask for the accommodations I need. But when I visited the other city, I was clueless. Sometimes I had to circle the building several times before I found the accessible entrance or figured out where the elevator was. How would someone visiting my city figure out how to get places? I never thought about that before.”

As a result of their involvement with the PAR project, many researchers expressed positive feelings from having engaged in the site visits, learned a good deal, and for some, left feeling a greater desire to engage in local change efforts to remove access barriers.

The researchers also noted a growing awareness on the part of city staff:

“The last person who visited the city hall was one of the research team members without a disability. As she entered the hallway near the offices, she heard a couple of individuals talking. A gentleman said, “What I want to know is, are we prepared?” A woman responded, “We have spaces for wheelchairs….” The gentleman then said, “I’m not just talking about people in chairs, I mean all types – do we have alternative formats?””

The rest of the conversation was not clear. However, the team members clearly had increased staff awareness of the full range of disability access needs.

For free, confidential information, technical assistance and answers to all questions regarding the ADA, please contact your regional ADA Center by calling 1-800-949-4232 (voice/tty).

Accessible Businesses Welcome Everyone

For most people, their major concern when running errands and shopping is whether they can fit it all they need to do into the time available. For people with disabilities, however, particularly for those with physical disabilities, their major concern is whether they can get into the stores or buildings in the first place and, once in, whether they have access to the goods and services they need.

Stores, theaters and other buildings were not intended to shut out people with disabilities—but the built environment has been highly effective in denying access to people who have limited use of hands or legs. A single step, a one-inch threshold, a heavy door, or a round doorknob can make entry into a building difficult, if not impassible. And once someone with a mobility impairment has struggled to get inside, cluttered aisles or objects blocking call buttons on elevators can significantly impede their ability to do what it is that they came inside to do, whether that is to buy a new shirt or visit a physician’s office.

“For the most part, the bigger retail stores—like Walmart, Kohls, TJ Maxx—have plenty of room for me to get around,” says Dylan Brown of Nashville, TN. “But I still run into problems with the amount of items they try to put into the very small stores in malls and strip malls. Overstocking in the small stores means that I can’t get through the aisles, so I just don’t go in.”

Dylan has quadriplegia as the result of an automobile accident in 2002 and uses a powered chair. He drives an adapted van and can usually get around Nashville and do what he wants to do except when it comes to some places that are unclear on the concept of accessibility:

“There’s a newly renovated, posh bar in town. It has access into the bar and the restrooms are accessible. But there is not one seat in the place where I would be eye-level with my peers. Even the booths have a step up. I went out to the smoking patio but that was built up also, with wood high-rise seating all around the edge. There was no way I could have a drink and be at eye level with my friends. I couldn’t even put my drink down without reaching up to the table. It’s like they went out of their way to make it inaccessible.

“I felt so uncomfortable. I know I’m in a chair but I’m always around active people, and you get going and you just forget. Then, when you get to a place that is so blatantly inaccessible, the term crippled comes back in.”

The Americans with Disabilities Act, passed nearly unanimously by both houses of Congress and signed into law by President George H.W. Bush on July 26, 1990, mandates that places that offer their goods and services to the public must be accessible to people with a variety of disabilities. Effective January 26, 1992, all places of business have been required to make their goods and services available to and useable by people with disabilities to the extent that it is readily achievable (e.g., that changes can be accomplished without much difficulty or expense). Furthermore, all new construction and renovations to existing buildings must be accessible to and usable by people with disabilities to the fullest extent possible.

Lack of access is more than an inconvenience for people with disabilities; for many, accessible stores, professional offices, theaters, libraries, state and local government offices and medical facilities can mean the difference between a life of independence and full immersion in the community and one of dependence and restrictive living situations.

Living Independence for Everyone (LIFE) of Mississippi, the statewide Center for Independence (CIL) in Mississippi, believes so strongly in promoting independence for people with disabilities that the CIL uses Americorps volunteers to do community access surveys to ensure that people leaving nursing homes or other congregate facilities will be able to move about effectively within the community. The Americorps members in Project LINC focus on those places that individuals with disabilities were most likely to want to use. When doing a Project LINC site survey, the Americorps volunteers introduce themselves to the places they want to survey, provide information about the ADA and explain that their purpose is to make places more accessible for people with disabilities, not to report anyone for failure to comply with the ADA. They then ask permission to conduct the survey and to return at a later date for a follow-up visit.

Desmeon Thomas, of Jackson, Mississippi, was both an Americorps volunteer doing the surveys and a beneficiary of increased access in his immediate community. Desmeon sustained a spinal cord injury in 2002 when he was 19 years old. He approached the LIFE Center for assistance in learning how to live with a disability. When he learned about Americorps and Project LINC, he signed up as an Americorps volunteer, receiving a stipend for his work on the project and becoming eligible for $4000 year for his two years of service to put toward his education.

As Desmeon explains, “we would survey places that are just around the corner from where someone moving into a community would be living. That means places like corner stores, dollar stores—we surveyed a lot of dollar stores; that’s where we can afford to shop!—fast food restaurants and grocery stores.

“I’m quadriplegic, so I need a lot of help with everything. I use a power chair so I can get around on my own, but I’m not the lightest person in the world, and my parents are getting older. I didn’t want to have to go into a nursing home but I knew I couldn’t stay with my parents much longer either. So I looked for a way to live on my own. LIFE hooked me up with the Medicaid Waiver* program that pays for personal attendants to help me 8 hours a day, 7 days a week. I use them for four hours in the morning to get me up and dressed and ready for the day, for four hours at night to get me ready for bed.

“Now I rent my own house, drive a Dodge Caravan and can do most of my own shopping. Grocery stores have been great! I can get around easily, and they always send someone to help me if I ask. My power chair helps raise me up so I can usually reach things on the shelves. If not, the grocery store clerks help me.

“And the other places I need to go are also pretty accessible, thanks to the survey work we did. Well, sometimes I need to go into a side or back entrance to some places…and the movie theater near me only has accessible seats right in the very front row, which is too close to the screen and makes it hard to watch without getting a stiff neck. But for the most part I can get where I need and want to go.”

*The Medicaid Waiver: Section 1915 (c) of the Social Security Act enables states to request a waiver of applicable federal Medicaid requirements to provide enhanced community support services to those Medicaid beneficiaries who would otherwise require institutional care.

Reasonable Accommodations Mean Getting the Job Done

Employees with disabilities may do a job differently—they may use adapted computers, screen reading software, large print materials or raised desks that can accommodate a wheelchair—but they get the job done like any other employee in their position. They are not asking for special treatment or to be excused from performing the essential functions of their jobs. But they do ask that they be given the tools or supports they need to perform these tasks competently.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed almost unanimously by both the House and the Senate in July 1990. It provides civil rights protections to individuals with disability and prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability. Title I of the ADA requires that employers make reasonable accommodations unless making those accommodations creates significant difficulty or expense. Reasonable accommodations are changes to the workplace or the way things are customarily done; they are intended to allow qualified employees with disabilities to perform the essential functions of their jobs.

Why is the Americans with Disabilities Act Needed?

Cheri Hofmann, who has a significant hearing loss, had worked as a paralegal position for 13 years, collecting awards and superior performance reviews throughout her career. Until her job duties changed in her 14th year, she never needed any changes to her workplace or different equipment to perform her job well. When her job duties in changed, however, she asked for a few, modest changes to her workplace.

“In my 14th year, my job had additional duties that required me to be able to assist clients while others were on break and to answer phones. I asked for a mirror to be placed where I could see the door opening when clients came in, a head set for the telephone with amplification, and to re-position my desk to also have a better view of the front door. They refused the mirror, saying it would be a distraction to the other paralegals; they said to reposition my desk would cause the entire area to have to be changed; and they said they ordered a head set, but it never came. Instead they gave me a phone with a volume control but it was not effective.”

None of these changes cost more than $30, but without them, Cheri was unable to do her job and was eventually forced to leave.

Cheri’s difficulties with her employer took place before the ADA too effect. Under Title I of the ADA now, however, employers with 15 or more employees are required to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified applicants or employees with disabilities unless to do so would result in an undue burden. Reasonable accommodations are changes to the workplace, modifications in workplace policies, or provision of assistive technology that allow a qualified employee with a disability to perform the essential functions of the job.

What are Reasonable Accommodations?

A reasonable accommodation is any change to the work environment or to the way that things are customarily done that enables an individual with a disability to enjoy equal employment opportunities. Rene Cummins, Executive Director of a Center for Independent Living in North Carolina, has low vision who relies on assistive technology every day. She uses a screen reader to read computer text and a scanner to scan print materials into the computer where they can be read back to her. Christinne Rudd has cerebral palsy and walks with a cane. Her employer in Florida provided a printer in her office so that she doesn’t have to go to the main printer to retrieve letters and other documents. Her employer has also offered to provide a scooter, if necessary, when there are employee outings and reimburses her for cab fare for her local travel on company business.

Patricia Valladares is an outreach worker for a social services agency in Tennessee. Patricia is blind and uses JAWS software that reads computer text, and the Open Book program that scans in printed material and reads it back so she can read read and save printed documents. She also asks that handouts for conferences and trainings be given to her on CDs.

John Hobgood is a social worker in Texas who recived a traumatic brain injury in a motor vehicle accident. As the result of his head injury, John has difficulty paying attention, so he uses a daytimer to keep his schedule and relies on the Outlook calendar computer software to remind him of appointments. Reading is difficult, so John uses free screen reader software from Readplease.com. Individuals with traumatic head injury often have difficulty concentrating at the end of the day. When his agency moved to a 4-day week of 10 hour days, John and another co-worker asked for a modified schedule in which they would remain on the 5-day week. Their requests were granted, and the two come into work on the 5th day, lock the door, answer phones, and catch up with their paperwork.

John Duplessis, a social worker in Alabama who became legally blind as an adult, relies on a tape recorder that is “glued to my side for dictating notes and recording conversations that I need to remember.” He uses Zoom Text software to enlarge text on his computer screen and uses its speech function to read aloud what is on the screen. John also has talking Caller I.D. on his landline and cell phones to announce the name and number of incoming calls. In addition, he uses glasses with magnification to read printed documents and to write. Even so, he notes wryly, “I don’t write quickly and my penmanship is not very good.”

Not all effective accommodations need to be provided by the employer. Many people with disabilities can use “off the shelf” assistive technology to meet their personal needs. For example, Eric Dupre who has a learning disability thrives in his fast-paced, unpredictable job as a news photojournalist. To keep himself on track, Eric carries “a small pad with me each day to write down my schedule and use an electronic pocket reminder for assignments that may be projected in the future. I use a GPS to assist me to find locations where I have to be. I purchased my own accommodations for under $100.”

Although many people with disabilities can perform all their job duties without an accommodation of any sort, others encounter workplace barriers that hinder or prevent them from performing competently on the job. By mandating reasonable accommodations and changes to the work environment as long as they do not create an undue burden, Title I of the ADA make it possible for qualified employees with disabilities to demonstrate their competence and ability to perform on the job.

Inclusion from the Start: Campus Collaboration Avoids Access Pitfalls

When changes are made to a college or university campus, planning ahead for access avoids costly errors. It also avoids the inadvertent creation of access barriers that make it difficult or impossible for students, visitors, and staff with disabilities to enjoy full use of all that the institution has to offer. One university—Florida State University (FSU) in Tallahassee—has taken steps to ensure that neither of these problems occur on their campus.

FSU’s fully collaborative process ensures that access is included from the very start when any new construction or renovation is planned. This entails coordination and collaboration among nearly 80 individuals, including the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity Compliance, the Facilities Vice President, Facilities Designer, Facilities Planners, and Project Manager as well as representatives from 20 or more other campus departments. It also requires some creative thinking and planning to assure maximum access throughout all phases of what can be a lengthy period of construction.

As Amy Wagner, Assistant Director of the University’s Office of Equal Employment Opportunity Compliance explains,

“We try to proactively address construction issues prior to the initiation of any new construction efforts. However, there are times in which we have had to make adjustments during a construction build due to the length of time a project would take to complete. For instance, during a 10-month construction project, a sidewalk was opened and closed at various points and required a phasing in/out of the project. The road under construction was a half mile long and the construction was done in four phases. We discussed the impact of a phased project on students with and without disabilities. In addition, we examined the options for maintaining access during the construction period. Breaking the project into four phases allowed for access at all times during the construction process. As one section was completed, it was then re-opened to provide access while another section was closed according to the phased project schedule.”

In addition, collaboration and cooperation among all offices and departments has nurtured an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect. Key players are routinely invited to participate in meetings in addition to the quarterly meetings of the entire planning team to ensure that accessibility concerns are addressed early on. For example, the campus is currently undergoing new construction activity in which Ms. Wagner has been called upon by project managers to address concerns involving ADA-related access issues such as installation of sidewalks, doorways, hood vents in school laboratories, detectable warnings, signage, and accessible routes/pathways around construction zones.

Ms. Wagner prefers not to refer to a project as challenging but as one that is “unknown territory” requiring innovative thinking and creativity on the university’s part to ensure that it is ADA compliant in all of its activities.

Florida State University entered into “unknown territory” in 2011 when the FSU Flying High Circus, one of only two collegiate circuses in the United States, wanted to purchase a new tent, seating, and flooring. The Circus wanted to purchase an interlocking floor but was aware that it might present access concerns. FSU wanted to ensure that the flooring was accessible to people with disabilities and did not present the possibility of a trip-hazard or an accessibility barrier for wheelchair users in the event the interlocking pads became disengaged. Ms. Wagner spent time researching precedence and best-practices governing this type of situation. As a result, the new tent, seating areas, and paths of travel throughout the tent not only meet but exceed the ADA standards for accessible seating and paths of travel.

FSU’s intentional effort to include Ms. Wagner in all planning efforts related to new construction projects is an example of a university that is committed to ensuring full inclusion and ensuring that full access is at the forefront of any and all ventures to enhance and/or improve the campus infrastructure. Ms. Wagner reiterates the importance of her office’s collaboration with facilities and maintenance staff, construction managers, and others involved in the planning of new construction from the very start to ensure that access and full inclusion are primary considerations throughout the life of any project.

The ADA: It’s a Family Affair

In our family, if I couldn’t go, none of us could go.

Most people think of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as legislation that promotes access and equal opportunity for people with disabilities. What they often don’t realize is that the ADA also creates access and equal opportunity for families and friends as well.

Why the ADA? Just ask Sara Ezell.

“In the past 40 years, I have seen things change hugely. It’s been an exciting time because of the ADA. If not for the ADA, where would I be today?”

Sara grew up in a close-knit family. Because she was born with osteogenesis imperfecta, a bone disorder often called “brittle bone disease,” Sara used a wheelchair most of the time. When she was a child, “accessibility was an issue everywhere. Disability was not an issue in our family, but access was. When I could not get into a restaurant or a store with my brothers and parents, it was an insult to our whole family—and we didn’t go in. In our family, if I couldn’t go, none of us could go.”

When Sara became a teenager, things got to be embarrassing, especially when she went out on a blind date. Faced with the prospect of getting into an inaccessible entrance, Sara’s date would offer to lift her and her chair up the two stairs at the entrance, making an awkward situation even more uncomfortable.

When Sara entered Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, pre-ADA in 1989, no freshman dorm rooms were accessible. Vanderbilt was determined to have Sara on campus, so they turned an administration office into a dorm room. As Sara explains, “we made do with it. All of my neighbors were Deans, and I got to know them pretty well. But after 5:00 PM, no one was there. It was not too bad, but it was not a natural dorm experience, and I missed the experience of living in a dorm with other students.”

Vanderbilt continued in its efforts to provide campus-wide access, including dorm rooms, for its students with disabilities. Although the ADA had recently been passed and would be going into effect within two years, “nobody knew what to do yet. There was a two-inch thick book of scoping requirements from the US Access Board that the University used but it wasn’t clear who would pay for the changes.

“It took a lot of doing, but by the time I graduated, I was living in a hall with other students—and I had a choice of rooms to pick from! And with every dorm renovation, the University would add more rooms. After I graduated, I went to work for the ADA office at Vanderbilt. And it was fun to see the faces of incoming freshmen with disabilities when I told them you can live here or here and here…”

As Sara reflects on her experiences pre- and post-ADA, she notes that “now so many places are completely accessible. It’s amazing to see.”

It’s still a family affair

Sara’s disability has had a rippling effect across generations. Both of her brothers worked at an Easter Seals camp in East Tennessee one summer and loved it. Her oldest brother, Chase, got a degree in Recreational Therapy. Chase was interested in physical accessibility of Tennessee State Parks, so he wrote his Master’s Thesis on the topic—using Sara as a guinea pig to “try out” the steepness of ramps and the smoothness of trails. “It was not always fun,” she recalls.

As for the next generation, Sara says, “Kids get it at a level that adults just don’t.”

“My two nieces and my nephew are my pride and joy, and they are not afraid to ask questions about disability. My niece Evelyn has befriended a little girl in her classroom who has cerebral palsy. And she had a lot of questions for me, like ‘why does she have a lady with her all the time?’ My niece just wanted to understand so she could figure out how she could help her and sit with her at lunch.

“It’s been fun to teach them about accessibility. My little nephew is just now starting to discover about accessibility. When we are together and there’s some place that his Aunt Sissy cannot go, he’s annoyed to death and just doesn’t understand. There’s a generation of militant little people who are going to be just great!”

Rhode Island Commercial Wheelchair Vans

According to the Center for Personal Assistance Services, about 155,000 individuals living in Rhode Island were considered to have a disability in 2005. Specifically, about 2.6% of the population of Rhode Island have difficulty with every day tasks such as taking a bath, getting dressed, moving about the house, and driving.

rhode-island-disability rhode-island-commercial-wheelchair-vans newenglandwheelchairvan.com

At the VMi New England Mobility Center, we offer specialized transportation products and services for private and commercial use. For more than 25 years we have been servicing the commercial and personal wheelchair vehicle needs of the state of Rhode Island including Providence and Newport, as well as Briston, Kent and Washington counties.

If your business needs a new or used accessible van, bus, shuttle or other commercial vehicle in Rhode Island, look through our online inventory to find the vehicle that’s right for you. View our commercial accessible vehicles, used vans and buses, modifications and accessories or visit our commercial wheelchair van and bus inventory.

We can help you evaluate how many passengers you need to carry, Rhode Island state regulatory requirements and other commercial considerations when buying a wheelchair van, replacement parts or accessories.

After VMi New England Mobility Center helps you locate the perfect commercial wheelchair van, bus, shuttle, or ambulette, we deliver! We can deliver it right to your door. We will drive, tow or trailer your wheelchair accessible vehicle to New Hampshire, to your business. We often make deliveries to Providence and Newport, so contact us today for your commercial mobility needs, so contact us today.

Learn more about delivery information for Rhode Island wheelchair vans and parts and our commercial warranty.

We look forward to helping your business provide exceptional service to your wheelchair users, school students, group homes, and rehab centers in the great state of Rhode Island.

Wheelchair Van Service Considerations Vermont

Wheelchair Van Service Considerations in VT

vermont wheelchair-van-service-considerations newenglandwheelchairvan.com

At VMi New England Mobility Center, we believe that the service you receive in Vermont after you purchase a wheelchair van is just as important as the service you received during your purchasing process. Our main goal is to keep you and the other passengers in the vehicle as safe as possible, which is why our wheelchair van service offerings are unlike any others in the vehicle modification industry.

Trained Service Technicians

All VMi New England Mobility Center Technicians are certified in the mobility equipment that is sold, installed, and serviced.  We are held to the highest standards in the adaptive vehicle industry.

Some of Longest Warranties in the Vehicle Modification Industry

We want to protect our customers and make sure that we offer the best options for them.

Operational Maintenance Program

For more than 27 years we have implemented and evolved a multi-faceted operational maintenance schedule unavailable at any other facility in the country to assist you in maintaining optimum driving performance while also assessing critical component deterioration before it occurs. Our Service Technicians will provide you with list of all work performed on your wheelchair accessible vehicle and a list of any items that may require future attention. Also, we will inform you of any upcoming maintenance and service you may need done to your wheelchair accessible vehicle in order to make sure your adaptive vehicle is in top condition.

Other dealers want your old vans to rust and fall apart so they can sell you a new one.

Wheelchair van rust not at newenglandwheelchairvan.com if you bring it to us for service
a local mobility dealers idea of taking care of your wheelchair van

Operational Maintenance of Adaptive Mobility Equipment on:

  • Lowered Floor Wheelchair Van (New & Used)
  • Full-Size Wheelchair Vans (New & Used)
  • Primary and Secondary Driving Controls
  • Wheelchair Lifts and Scooter Lifts
  • Wheelchair Securement Systems (automatic and manual)
  • Power Seat Bases
  • Power Door Operators

Special service work or repairs to your Adaptive Equipment

Installation of new Adaptive Equipment on new and used wheelchair vans such as:

  • Hand Controls
  • Wheelchair Lifts and Scooter Lifts
  • Raised Doors
  • Lowered Floors
  • Specialized gas, brake, and steering systems
  • Turning Automotive Seats

Maine Commercial Wheelchair Vans

According to the 2005 American Community Study by the Center for Personal Assistance Services, approximately 228,000 individuals living in Maine are considered to be disabled in some manner. Specifically, about 2.7% of the population of Maine have difficulty with every day tasks such as taking a bath, getting dressed, moving about the house, and driving.

maine-disability maine-commercial-wheelchair-vans newenglandwheelchairvan.com

At the VMi New England Mobility Center, we offer specialized transportation products and services for private and commercial use. For more than 25 years we have been servicing the commercial and personal wheelchair vehicle needs of the state of Maine including the Portland area and Cumberland, Sagadahac and York counties.

If your business needs a new or used accessible van, bus, shuttle or other commercial vehicle in Maine, look through our online inventory to find the vehicle that’s right for you. View our commercial accessible vehicles, used vans and buses, modifications and accessories or visit our commercial wheelchair van and bus inventory.

We can help you evaluate how many passengers you need to carry, Maine state regulatory requirements and other commercial considerations when buying a wheelchair van, replacement parts or accessories.

After VMi New England Mobility Center helps you locate the perfect commercial wheelchair van, bus, shuttle, or ambulette, we deliver! We can deliver it right to your door. We will drive, tow or trailer your wheelchair accessible vehicle to Maine, to your business. We often make deliveries to Cumberland County, Sagadahoc County and York County, so contact us today for your commercial mobility needs, so contact us today.

Learn more about delivery information for Maine wheelchair vans and parts and our commercial warranty.

We look forward to helping your business provide exceptional service to your wheelchair users, school students, group homes, and rehab centers in the great state of Maine.

Wheelchair Van Service Considerations Connecticut

Wheelchair Van Service Considerations in CT

connecticut wheelchair-van-service-considerations newenglandwheelchairvan.com

At VMi New England Mobility Center, we believe that the service you receive after you purchase a wheelchair van is just as important as the service you received during your purchasing process. Our main goal is to keep you and the other passengers in the vehicle as safe as possible, which is why our wheelchair van service offerings are unlike any others in the vehicle modification industry.

Trained Service Technicians

All VMi New England Mobility Center Technicians are certified in the mobility equipment that is sold, installed, and serviced.  We are held to the highest standards in the adaptive vehicle industry.

Some of Longest Warranties in the Vehicle Modification Industry

We want to protect our customers and make sure that we offer the best options for them.

Operational Maintenance Program

For more than 27 years we have implemented and evolved a multi-faceted operational maintenance schedule unavailable at any other facility in the country to assist you in maintaining optimum driving performance while also assessing critical component deterioration before it occurs. Our Service Technicians will provide you with list of all work performed on your wheelchair accessible vehicle and a list of any items that may require future attention. Also, we will inform you of any upcoming maintenance and service you may need done to your wheelchair accessible vehicle in order to make sure your adaptive vehicle is in top condition.

Other dealers want your old vans to rust and fall apart so they can sell you a new one.

Wheelchair van rust not at newenglandwheelchairvan.com if you bring it to us for service
a local mobility dealers idea of taking care of your wheelchair van

Operational Maintenance of Adaptive Mobility Equipment on:

  • Lowered Floor Wheelchair Van (New & Used)
  • Full-Size Wheelchair Vans (New & Used)
  • Primary and Secondary Driving Controls
  • Wheelchair Lifts and Scooter Lifts
  • Wheelchair Securement Systems (automatic and manual)
  • Power Seat Bases
  • Power Door Operators

Special service work or repairs to your Adaptive Equipment

Installation of new Adaptive Equipment on new and used wheelchair vans such as:

  • Hand Controls
  • Wheelchair Lifts and Scooter Lifts
  • Raised Doors
  • Lowered Floors
  • Specialized gas, brake, and steering systems
  • Turning Automotive Seats

New York Commercial Wheelchair Vans

According to the Center for Personal Assistance Services, about 2,537,000 individuals living in New York were considered to have a disability in 2005. Specifically, about 2.8% of the population of New York have difficulty with every day tasks such as taking a bath, getting dressed, moving about the house, and driving.

 new-york-disability new-york-commercial-wheelchair-vans newenglandwheelchairvan.com

At the VMi New England Mobility Center, we offer specialized transportation products and services for private and commercial use. For more than 25 years we have been servicing the commercial and personal wheelchair vehicle needs of the country of New York; the Metropolitan New York and Hudson Valley areas, including Suffolk, Nassau, Dutchess, Orange and Ulster counties.

If your business needs a new or used accessible van, bus, shuttle or other commercial vehicle in New York, look through our online inventory to find the vehicle that’s right for you. View our commercial accessible vehicles, used vans and buses, modifications and accessories or visit our commercial wheelchair van and bus inventory.

We can help you evaluate how many passengers you need to carry, New York state regulatory requirements and other commercial considerations when buying a wheelchair van, replacement parts or accessories.

After VMi New England Mobility Center helps you locate the perfect commercial wheelchair van, bus, shuttle, or ambulette, we deliver! We can deliver it right to your door. We will drive, tow or trailer your wheelchair accessible vehicle to New York, to your business. We often make deliveries to Kingston, Poughkeepsie, as well as Suffolk County, Nassau County, and New York City, so contact us today for your commercial mobility needs, so contact us today.

Learn more about delivery information for New York wheelchair vans and parts and our commercial warranty.

We look forward to helping your business provide exceptional service to your wheelchair users, school students, group homes, and rehab centers in the country of New York City, so contact us today for your commercial mobility needs.

Wheelchair Van Service Considerations Rhode Island

Wheelchair Van Service Considerations in Rhode Island

Rhode Island wheelchair-van-service-considerations newenglandwheelchairvan.com

At VMi New England Mobility Center, we believe that the service you receive in Rhode Island after you purchase a wheelchair van is just as important as the service you received during your purchasing process. Our main goal is to keep you and the other passengers in the vehicle as safe as possible, which is why our wheelchair van service for you in RI offerings are unlike any others in the vehicle modification industry.

Trained Service Technicians

All VMi New England Mobility Center Technicians are certified in the mobility equipment that is sold, installed, and serviced.  We are held to the highest standards in the adaptive vehicle industry.

Some of Longest Warranties in the Vehicle Modification Industry

We want to protect our customers and make sure that we offer the best options for them.

Operational Maintenance Program

For more than 27 years we have implemented and evolved a multi-faceted operational maintenance schedule unavailable at any other facility in the country to assist you in maintaining optimum driving performance while also assessing critical component deterioration before it occurs. Our Service Technicians will provide you with list of all work performed on your wheelchair accessible vehicle and a list of any items that may require future attention. Also, we will inform you of any upcoming maintenance and service you may need done to your wheelchair accessible vehicle in order to make sure your adaptive vehicle is in top condition.

Other dealers want your old vans to rust and fall apart so they can sell you a new one.

Wheelchair van rust not at newenglandwheelchairvan.com if you bring it to us for service
a local mobility dealers idea of taking care of your wheelchair van

Operational Maintenance of Adaptive Mobility Equipment on:

  • Lowered Floor Wheelchair Van (New & Used)
  • Full-Size Wheelchair Vans (New & Used)
  • Primary and Secondary Driving Controls
  • Wheelchair Lifts and Scooter Lifts
  • Wheelchair Securement Systems (automatic and manual)
  • Power Seat Bases
  • Power Door Operators

Special service work or repairs to your Adaptive Equipment

Installation of new Adaptive Equipment on new and used wheelchair vans such as:

  • Hand Controls
  • Wheelchair Lifts and Scooter Lifts
  • Raised Doors
  • Lowered Floors
  • Specialized gas, brake, and steering systems
  • Turning Automotive Seats

New Hampshire Commercial Wheelchair Vans

According to the Center for Personal Assistance Services, about 174,000 individuals living in New Hampshire were considered to have a disability in 2005. Specifically, about 2.5% of the population of New Hampshire have difficulty with every day tasks such as taking a bath, getting dressed, moving about the house, and driving.

new-hampshire-disability new-hampshire-commercial-wheelchair-vans newenglandwheelchairvan.com

 

At the VMi New England Mobility Center, we offer specialized transportation products and services for private and commercial use. For more than 25 years we have been servicing the commercial and personal wheelchair vehicle needs of the state of New Hampshire including Manchester, and Merrimack, Belknap, Rockingham and Strafford counties.

If your business needs a new or used accessible van, bus, shuttle or other commercial vehicle in New Hampshire, look through our online inventory to find the vehicle that’s right for you. View our commercial accessible vehicles, used vans and buses, modifications and accessories or visit our commercial wheelchair van and bus inventory.

We can help you evaluate how many passengers you need to carry, New Hampshire state regulatory requirements and other commercial considerations when buying a wheelchair van, replacement parts or accessories in New Hampshire.

After VMi New England Mobility Center helps you locate the perfect commercial wheelchair van, bus, shuttle, or ambulette, we deliver! We can deliver it right to your door. We will drive, tow or trailer your wheelchair accessible vehicle to New Hampshire, to your business. We often make deliveries to Hillsborough County, Strafford County, Rockingham County, Belknap County and Merrimack County, so contact us today.

Learn more about delivery information for New Hampshire wheelchair vans and parts and our commercial warranty.

We look forward to helping your business provide exceptional service to your wheelchair users, school students, group homes, and rehab centers in the great state of New Hampshire.

Wheelchair Van Service Considerations Massachusetts

Wheelchair Van Service Considerations in Massachusetts

boston wheelchair-van-service-considerations newenglandwheelchairvan.com

At VMi New England Mobility Center, we believe that the service you receive in Massachusetts after you purchase a wheelchair van is just as important as the service you received during your purchasing process. Our main goal is to keep you and the other passengers in the vehicle as safe as possible, which is why our wheelchair van service offerings are unlike any others in the vehicle modification industry.

Trained Service Technicians in MA

All VMi New England Mobility Center Technicians are certified in the mobility equipment that is sold, installed, and serviced.  We are held to the highest standards in the adaptive vehicle industry.

Some of Longest Warranties in the Vehicle Modification Industry

We want to protect our customers and make sure that we offer the best options for them.

Operational Maintenance Program

For more than 27 years we have implemented and evolved a multi-faceted operational maintenance schedule unavailable at any other facility in the country to assist you in maintaining optimum driving performance while also assessing critical component deterioration before it occurs. Our Service Technicians will provide you with list of all work performed on your wheelchair accessible vehicle and a list of any items that may require future attention. Also, we will inform you of any upcoming maintenance and service you may need done to your wheelchair accessible vehicle in order to make sure your adaptive vehicle is in top condition.

Other dealers want your old vans to rust and fall apart so they can sell you a new one.

Wheelchair van rust not at newenglandwheelchairvan.com if you bring it to us for service
a local mobility dealers idea of taking care of your wheelchair van

Operational Maintenance of Adaptive Mobility Equipment on:

  • Lowered Floor Wheelchair Van (New & Used)
  • Full-Size Wheelchair Vans (New & Used)
  • Primary and Secondary Driving Controls
  • Wheelchair Lifts and Scooter Lifts
  • Wheelchair Securement Systems (automatic and manual)
  • Power Seat Bases
  • Power Door Operators

Special service work or repairs to your Adaptive Equipment

Installation of new Adaptive Equipment on new and used wheelchair vans such as:

  • Hand Controls
  • Wheelchair Lifts and Scooter Lifts
  • Raised Doors
  • Lowered Floors
  • Specialized gas, brake, and steering systems
  • Turning Automotive Seats

Connecticut Commercial Wheelchair Vans

According to the 2005 American Community Study by the Center for Personal Assistance Services, approximately 408,000 individuals living in Connecticut are considered to be disabled in some manner. Specifically, about 2.3% of the population of Connecticut have difficulty with every day tasks such as taking a bath, getting dressed, moving about the house, and driving.

connecticut commercial and personal wheelchair vans newenglandwheelchairvan.com

At the VMi New England Mobility Center, we offer specialized transportation products and services for private and commercial use. For more than 25 years we have been servicing the commercial and personal wheelchair vehicle needs of the state of Connecticut including the Greater Hartford, Greater Bridgeport, Greater New Haven, Torrington, and surrounding counties.

If your business needs a new or used van, bus, shuttle or other commercial accessible vehicle in Connecticut, give us a call to find the vehicle that suits your requirements. Contact us for any of your commercial wheelchair vehicles, used vans and buses, modifications and upfit needs

We can help you evaluate how many passengers you need to carry, Connecticut State regulatory requirements and other commercial considerations when buying a wheelchair van, replacement parts or accessories in Connecticut.

After VMi New England Mobility Center helps you locate the perfect commercial wheelchair van, bus, shuttle, or ambulette, we deliver! We can deliver it right to your door. We will drive, tow or trailer your wheelchair accessible vehicle to Connecticut, right to your business. We often make deliveries to Fairfield County, New Haven County, Hartford County, Tolland County, Middlesex County, and Litchfield County, so contact us today for your commercial mobility needs.

Learn more about delivery information for Connecticut wheelchair vans and parts and our commercial warranty.

We look forward to helping your business provide exceptional service to your wheelchair users, school students, group homes, and rehab centers in the great state of Connecticut.

toyota sienna rampvan wheelchair & scooter accessible van

The Toyota Sienna wheelchair and scooter accessible van offers accessibility and convenience in a sporty, streamlined package. The bold, new attitude of this popular vehicle is a refreshing take on the traditional van.

boston toyota wheelchair vans newenglandwheelchairvan.com

The one touch power entry and exit system includes a power sliding side door, a power ramp, and a power auto-kneel system to reduce ramp angle and make the van easier to enter and exit for wheelchair or scooter users. The Toyota Sienna wheelchair van also features easily removable front seats to allow a wheelchair user to drive the vehicle (when properly equipped with hand controls) or to ride in the front passenger position.

The lightweight aluminum ramp extends to allow easy access to the interior for wheelchairs and scooters. A durable, non-skid powder-coated finish ensures superior traction. In the event of power failure, the ramp can be operated manually.

To make boarding even easier, most of our vans feature an integrated “kneeling” system. An actuator lowers the rear suspension while the door opens, which reduces the slope of the auto ramp.

Ramp van Standard Features

Auto Door The original door operator opens the sliding door at the touch of a button. The door can be operated with the standard remote control, or with one of the several interior control switches.

Auto Kneel The Rampvan features a “kneeling” system to make entering and exiting your vehicle even easier. An actuator lowers the rear suspension while the door opens, which reduces the slope of the automatic ramp.

Auto Ramp The lightweight ramp is offered in both In floor and Foldout versions, and offers unparalleled ease of access for wheelchair and scooter users. In the event of power failure, both the door and ramp can easily be operated manually.

Lowered Floor Up to 14.75″ lower than conventional minivans, the Ramp van’s floor is lowered from the firewall to the rear axle. With a choice of three securement positions, wheelchair users can enjoy the ride — and the view — from their chair

Removable Seating Both the driver and passenger seat can easily be removed for those who wish to ride up front or drive. By simply unlocking the seat base from the vehicle, the entire assembly can be rolled out of the vehicle via the ramp and reinstalled just as easily when needed.

The Ramp van combines sophisticated engineering with a combination of style, class, interior space and superior quality. At the heart of the Ramp van is the Toyota Sienna minivan chassis. Each Ramp van features a lowered floor to provide generous head room for wheelchair or scooter users. An integrated power sliding door and ramp enable full access to the vehicle. By offering conversions with both fold-out or in-floor ramps, we ensure that each customer gets the right conversion for his or her needs.

mobility van markets new england and beyond

VMi New England Mobility Center customers have come to us from all over the United States, from New England to Tennessee, Michigan to the District of Columbia. Our Bridgewater facility offers a unmatched capability to sell, service allow us to supply accessible commercial vehicles and personal-use wheelchair vans to clients throughout the area.

us census disability by state

Personal Conversion Wheelchair Vans

Our Bridgewater Mobility Center offers full service and sales to individuals throughout all of New England

Commercial Accessible Vans, Buses and Shuttles

We often sell, service, and deliver vehicles to the following areas:

States

Are you outside of any of these locations and still interested in a VMi New England Mobility Center conversion van or mobility product? Contact our expert sales staff, as we may still be able to assist you in finding the perfect commercial wheelchair van or accessible personal-use modification.

Commercial Use Wheelchair Vans And Buses

commercial-use-wheelchair-vans-and-buses  newenglandwheelchairvan.com

VMi New England Mobility Center provides commercial wheelchair vans and buses, shuttle vans, shuttle buses and specialized conversions such as ambulettes and non-emergency medical transportation vehicles. We provide sales, service, rentals and all necessary replacement parts and accessories.

Many commercial wheelchair van, bus and shuttle floorplans are available. Call for up to date  commercial wheelchair van, bus and shuttle inventory. Call 508-697-6006 to speak to one of our commercial wheelchair van specialists right now.

Commercial Vans, Buses and Shuttles

Whether your clients are wheelchair users, ambulatory patients, school students, nursing homes, group homes, rehab centers, or extended care facilities, all have unique commercial handicap accessible van with commercial wheelchair lift transportation needs.

Some questions you’ll want to consider:

  • How many wheelchair passengers will you transport?
  • How many ambulatory/walking passengers will you transport?
  • What will be the typical combination?
  • Do you have to meet ADA or other regulatory requirements?

Whether it is maximizing client capacity, choosing a style that will blend in a neighborhood setting, or maximizing headroom for client and staff comfort, we provide wheelchair accessible vans, buses, and shuttles that balance those needs with the same great quality the industry has come to expect.

  • View our Commercial Accessible Vehicles
  • Find out about Used Vans and Buses

Commercial Vehicle Inventory

We carry both new and used wheelchair vans, buses and shuttle vans. We also list wheelchair van conversion “shells” that have been mostly completed and are only waiting for wheelchair position, seating instructions and other final details. We do our best to seek out quality used vehicles and make all necessary repairs and modifications before offering them for sale.

Van and Bus Modifications and Accessories

Wheelchair vans, buses and shuttles must work in numerous industries, applications and working conditions while serving people who are equally diverse. The number of clients and staff that must be transported, their age and abilities, regulations and corporate image are all major factors that influence and are affected by the modifications available. To make this possible, there are many modifications and accessories that can be added to wheelchair vans buses and shuttles to customize them for the end-user’s needs. Among the van and bus modifications available are wheelchair tie-downs, lifts and entryways.

  • See what Modifications and Accessories are available

Commercial Help and Resource Center

Our Commercial Help and Resource Center will help to answer many of your most common questions. The Commercial Help and Resource Center includes resources that we feel could provide benefit to our customers. Service tips, new product information, regulatory changes and many other subjects are covered on a regular basis. Our sales, service and management teams, as well as a few “industry expert” guests, put their thoughts and experiences to work for you. We are available for any questions you may have! At VMi New England Mobility Center, we strive to ensure that our customers and dealers get the results they value the most.

Commercial Warranty Information

Warranties on commercial wheelchair vans, buses and shuttle vans can sometimes be complicated because components such as the base chassis, heating and air conditioning, body modifications and other modifications come from different manufacturers and have varying lengths and depths of warranty coverage.  Our goal is to save you time and effort and keep your costs low.

Vans and Accessible Vehicles in Massachusetts

Vans and Accessible Vehicles in Massachusetts

boston vans-and-accessible-vehicles-in-massachusetts

You can have the wheelchair accessible van you want delivered straight to your home. VMi New England Mobility Center, Inc. provides nationwide sales and delivery services to our customers across the United States from our mobility headquarters in Bridgewater, MA. Our mobility consultants can help you find the handicap van that fits your individual needs, so you can gain the mobility you desire.

VMi New England Mobility Center sells new and certified pre-owned handicap vans and accessible vehicles that have been hand-picked to ensure our customers receive a wheelchair van that will last. Each new mobility vehicle comes with a brand-new conversion and warranty. Our inspection process and safety features make our handicapped vans ideal for individuals, families, and commercial businesses. You can browse our showroom first hand and see our selection of wheelchair vans for sale to find the one you want.

Delivery of your handicap van is as easy as the selection process. VMi New England Mobility Center delivers to any Massachusetts city. You can be in Boston, Cambridge, Foxboro, or Wilmington, and we will deliver your handicap accessible van direct to your driveway. Depending on the mobility vehicle you choose, we can deliver your accessible van within 48 hours. It’s just that easy.

Once you find the new or used wheelchair van you like, the next step is to contact a mobility consultant via email or telephone. He or she will take the time to explain the process and answer any questions you may have about van selection and safety features. We are proud of our customer service and glad to say we offer our customers a low price guarantee on all newly modified mobility center conversions. You can check out the competition, and you will find that we not only have best value in wheelchair vans, but our vans last longer. Give us a call today and learn how we can help you gain freedom and independence at 508-697-6006.

 

Massachusetts Wheelchair Accessible Transportation Services

 

VMi New England wheelchair vans Boston, MA

Massachusetts Wheelchair Accessible Transportation Services

Contact our certified mobility consultants at the mobility center with any questions about purchasing wheelchair accessible vehicles.
Links to ADA Paratransit, Wheelchair Accessible Taxi, and Non-Emergency Medical Transportation Services available in Massachusetts.

 
– ADA PARATRANSIT –
– REGULAR & WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE TAXI SERVICES –

Beverly – Tri-City Taxi – Peabody, Danvers, Beverly, Salem, Marblehead

Boston – Boston Cab Dispatch – Boston
Boston – Brain Tree Taxi – Boston
Boston – Charlestown Taxi – Boston
Boston – Chelsea Taxi – Boston

Boston – East Boston Taxi – Boston
Boston – Hello Taxi – Brookline, Allston, Brighton, Boston
Boston – Hyde Park Taxi – Boston
Boston – Malden Cab – Boston
Boston – Massachusetts Cab – Boston