Tag Archives: Disability

Autism Awareness Month

Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are a group of developmental disabilities that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges.

ASDs are “spectrum disorders” which means ASDs affect each person in different ways, and can range from very mild to severe. People with ASDs share some similar symptoms, such as problems with social interaction. But there are differences in when the symptoms start, how severe they are, and the exact nature of the symptoms.


Types of ASDs
There are three different types of ASDs:

  • Autistic Disorder (also called “classic” autism)
    This is what most people think of when hearing the word “autism.” People with autistic disorder usually have significant language delays, social and communication challenges, and unusual behaviors and interests. Many people with autistic disorder also have intellectual disability.
  • Asperger Syndrome
    People with Asperger syndrome usually have some milder symptoms of autistic disorder. They might have social challenges and unusual behaviors and interests. However, they typically do not have problems with language or intellectual disability.
  • Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS; also called “atypical autism”)
    People who meet some of the criteria for autistic disorder or Asperger syndrome, but not all, may be diagnosed with PDD-NOS. People with PDD-NOS usually have fewer and milder symptoms than those with autistic disorder. The symptoms might cause only social and communication challenges.


Signs and Symptoms
ASDs begin before the age of 3 and last throughout a person’s life, although symptoms may improve over time. Some children with an ASD show hints of future problems within the first few months of life. In others, symptoms might not show up until 24 months or later. Some children with an ASD seem to develop normally until around 18 to 24 months of age and then they stop gaining new skills, or they lose the skills they once had.

A person with an ASD might:

  • Not respond to their name by 12 months
  • Not point at objects to show interest (point at an airplane flying over) by 14 months
  • Not play “pretend” games (pretend to “feed” a doll) by 18 months
  • Avoid eye contact and want to be alone
  • Have trouble understanding other people’s feelings or talking about their own feelings
  • Have delayed speech and language skills
  • Repeat words or phrases over and over (echolalia)
  • Give unrelated answers to questions
  • Get upset by minor changes
  • Have obsessive interests
  • Flap their hands, rock their body, or spin in circles
  • Have unusual reactions to the way things sound, smell, taste, look, or feel


Diagnosis
Diagnosing ASDs can be difficult since there is no medical test, like a blood test, to diagnose the disorders. Doctors look at the child’s behavior and development to make a diagnosis.

ASDs can sometimes be detected at 18 months or younger. By age 2, a diagnosis by an experienced professional can be considered very reliable. However, many children do not receive a final diagnosis until much older. This delay means that children with an ASD might not get the help they need.


Treatment
There is currently no cure for ASDs. However, research shows that early intervention treatment services can greatly improve a child’s development. Early intervention services help children from birth to 3 years old (36 months) learn important skills. Services can include therapy to help the child talk, walk, and interact with others. Therefore, it is important to talk to your child’s doctor as soon as possible if you think your child has an ASD or other developmental problem.

Even if your child has not been diagnosed with an ASD, he or she may be eligible for early intervention treatment services. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) says that children under the age of 3 years (36 months) who are at risk of having developmental delays may be eligible for services. These services are provided through an early intervention system in your state. Through this system, you can ask for an evaluation.

In addition, treatment for particular symptoms, such as speech therapy for language delays, often does not need to wait for a formal ASD diagnosis.

Learn about types of treatments »


Causes and Risk Factors
We do not know all of the causes of ASDs. However, we have learned that there are likely many causes for multiple types of ASDs. There may be many different factors that make a child more likely to have an ASD, including environmental, biologic and genetic factors.

  • Most scientists agree that genes are one of the risk factors that can make a person more likely to develop an ASD.
  • Children who have a sibling or parent with an ASD are at a higher risk of also having an ASD.
  • ASDs tend to occur more often in people who have certain other medical conditions. About 10% of children with an ASD have an identifiable genetic disorder, such as Fragile X syndrome, tuberous sclerosis, Down syndrome and other chromosomal disorders.
  • Some harmful drugs taken during pregnancy have been linked with a higher risk of ASDs, for example, the prescription drugs thalidomide and valproic acid.
  • We know that the once common belief that poor parenting practices cause ASDs is not true.
  • There is some evidence that the critical period for developing ASDs occurs before birth. However, concerns about vaccines and infections have led researchers to consider risk factors before and after birth.

ASDs are an urgent public health concern. Just like the many families affected in some way by ASDs, CDC wants to find out what causes the disorder. Understanding the risk factors that make a person more likely to develop an ASD will help us learn more about the causes. We are currently working on one of the largest U.S. studies to date, called Study to Explore Early Development (SEED). SEED is looking at many possible risk factors for ASDs, including genetic, environmental, pregnancy, and behavioral factors.


Who is Affected
ASDs occur in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups, but are almost five times more common among boys than among girls. CDC estimates that about 1 in 88 children has been identified with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

More people than ever before are being diagnosed with an ASD. It is unclear exactly how much of this increase is due to a broader definition of ASDs and better efforts in diagnosis. However, a true increase in the number of people with an ASD cannot be ruled out. We believe the increase in ASD diagnosis is likely due to a combination of these factors.

Within the past decade, CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network has been estimating the number of people with an ASD in the U.S. We have learned a lot about how many children in the U.S. have an ASD. It will be important to use the same methods to track how the number of people with an ASD is changing over time in order to learn more about the disorders.


If You’re Concerned
If you think your child might have an ASD or you think there could be a problem with the way your child plays, learns, speaks, or acts,contact your child’s doctor, and share your concerns.

If you or the doctor is still concerned, ask the doctor for a referral to a specialist who can do a more in-depth evaluation of your child. Specialists who can do a more in-depth evaluation and make a diagnosis include:

  • Developmental Pediatricians (doctors who have special training in child development and children with special needs)
  • Child Neurologists (doctors who work on the brain, spine, and nerves)
  • Child Psychologists or Psychiatrists (doctors who know about the human mind)

At the same time, call your state’s public early childhood system to request a free evaluation to find out if your child qualifies for intervention services. This is sometimes called a Child Find evaluation. You do not need to wait for a doctor’s referral or a medical diagnosis to make this call.

Where to call for a free evaluation from the state depends on your child’s age:

  • If your child is not yet 3 years old, contact your local early intervention system.You can find the right contact information for your state by calling the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY) at 1-800-695-0285.Or visit the NICHCY website. Once you find your state on this webpage, look for the heading “Programs for Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities: Ages Birth through 3″.
  • If your child is 3 years old or older, contact your local public school system.Even if your child is not yet old enough for kindergarten or enrolled in a public school, call your local elementary school or board of education and ask to speak with someone who can help you have your child evaluated.If you’re not sure who to contact, call the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities at 1.800.695.0285 or visit the NICHCY website. Once you find your state on this webpage, look for the heading “Programs for Children with Disabilities: Ages 3 through 5″.

Research shows that early intervention services can greatly improve a child’s development. In order to make sure your child reaches his or her full potential, it is very important to get help for an ASD as soon as possible.

Side Entry Versus Rear Entry Wheelchair Vans

The question of a Rear Entry wheelchair van versus a Side Entry van often comes up in conversation when a first time buyer enters the accessible van market. There are several things to consider; first, the family or care giver needs to decide on where the wheelchair user is going to sit. If the person in the wheelchair is able to drive and will be independent there are other things to consider, but for now, let us stay with an assisted member of the family.

Door height is an issue. For that we need to know how tall the person sits in their wheelchair.

Scooter or Power chair is next. Size and weight combination will come into play as we move along in the discovery process.

Will the person transfer into a  seat or will they remain in their wheelchair while traveling?

Okay, now we get into seating. The side entry offers both mid-section and front seat options with tie-downs located throughout. In a rear entry van, the mid-section to rear of the vehicle, are the only seating options while remaining in the wheelchair.

There are five passenger seats available for family members in a side entry van versus six available seats in a rear entry. Both are in addition to whoever is in the wheelchair, which gives a total of six people in a side entry and up to seven in a rear entry.

For folks with a long wheelchair or scooter the rear entry is ideal. Over six feet of space is afforded to tie down the wheelchair and no turning to forward face is necessary.

A side entry requires up to eight feet accommodating the lowering of the ramp allowing access into your van. This may prohibit the use of the ramp while inside a garage or if someone parks to close while at the mall or a doctor’s appointment.

The rear entry does not have the blocked in problem, you are always accessing your van from the aisle.

In summation, like anything else, it is best to try before you buy. Our Mobility Center has both styles of wheelchair vans. See which style suits your lifestyle and then consider the purchase of either a new or used mobility equipped van. Always consult with your mobility product specialist for any additional questions you may have.

Holiday Travel Preparation

With the holidays only a few short weeks away, it’s time to get plans for family visits and end of year trips finalized before the busy season is in full swing. Traveling with a disability that requires mobility equipment can quickly become a stressful task if proper accommodations have not been made in advance.  Preparing ahead of time can save you some headaches when it is time to board your plane. Here are some things to keep in mind when planning your upcoming vacations:

  • Be sure to inform your airline if you or someone you are traveling with uses a wheelchair, mobility equipment or will need to bring medical equipment onto the aircraft.
  • Ensure you have refilled prescriptions for any medications you may need throughout the duration of your trip.
  • If you need to rent a car, make these arrangements in advance to guarantee a handicap accessible vehicle.
  • If possible, bring any tools you might need in case you experience any issues with your wheelchair. If you have replacement parts, it might be a good idea to bring these along as well.
  • If your wheelchair must be checked for your flight, make sure to tag it as you would the rest of your luggage. Include your name and contact details, as well as those of your hotel or wherever else you may be staying.
  • Staying somewhere other than home can be a challenge so make sure your hotel or other arrangements are accessible by wheelchair (if necessary) and can otherwise accommodate you.
  • Plan to arrive at the airport as early as possible to ensure you have plenty of time to make your way through security and finalize any special accommodations you might require for your mobility equipment.
  • When booking your flights, know that passengers requiring a wheelchair are generally the first to board and last to leave the plane, meaning that connecting flights with short layovers may become difficult.

Despite having to take select special measures, those living with disabilities should not be apprehensive to fly or travel. Airlines have become more and more accommodating and understanding, making this the perfect time to book a vacation and get back in touch with faraway friends and family.

State Disability and Health Programs

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) state-based disability and health programs inform policy and practice at the state level. These programs ensure that individuals with disabilities are included in ongoing state disease prevention, health promotion, and emergency response activities.

CDC supports 18 state-based programs to promote equity in health, prevent chronic disease, and increase the quality of life for people with disabilities. Each program customizes its activities to meet its state’s needs, which broadens expertise and information sharing among states.

The programs’ goals are to:

  • Enhance program infrastructure and capacity.
  • Improve state level surveillance and monitoring activities.
  • Increase awareness of health-related disability policy initiatives.
  • Increase health promotion opportunities for people with disabilities.
  • Improve access to health care services for people with disabilities.
  • Improve emergency preparedness for people with disabilities.
  • Effectively monitor and evaluate program activities.

The goals of the state disability and health programs align with those of Healthy People 2020 related to disability:

  • Removing barriers to participation in social, spiritual, recreational, community and civic activities.
  • Improving access to primary care, and health and wellness programs.
  • Identifying people with disabilities in data systems.
  • Increasing surveillance and health promotion programs.
  • Providing graduate-level courses in disability and health.

States funded by CDC for Disability and Health Programs:

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arkansas
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina


Alabama

Program activities include:

  • Promoting inclusion of persons with disabilities in all aspects of policy development, planning, and execution of state based public health programs.
  • Using Federally Qualified Healthcare Centers to assist with capacity assessment of ability to meet the needs of those with disabilities and determine barriers to inclusiveness.
  • Increasing health promotion opportunities for persons with disabilities through adaptation of existing public health programs, such as Scale Back Alabama, and increasing the number of children with disabilities who participate in mainstream physical education and after-school programs.

 

Alaska
Program activities include:

  • Developing accurate and timely outreach for Alaskans experiencing disability and their care providers.
  • Building the capacity of a cross-agency disability advisory council that reviews and evaluates program activities, assists with sustainability plans, and provides recommendations for policy change.
  • Providing technical assistance, training, and other support for existing community-wide initiatives designed to improve the health of Alaskans experiencing disability.

The Alaska Disability and Health Program is a collaboration between the State of Alaska’s Department of Health and Social Services, Division of Public Health, Section of Women’s, Children’s, and Family Health and the Governor’s Council on Disabilities and Special Education, and is housed in the Division of Public Health.

 

Arkansas
Program activities include:

  • Enhancing program infrastructure and capacity through the expansion and support of an Advisory Board and increasing the representation of individuals with disabilities on public health program committees.
  • Improving state-level surveillance and monitoring by conducting a statewide needs assessment to look at the health status and access of people with disabilities, developing documents comparing demographics and health disparities of Arkansas and the U.S.
  • Increasing awareness of health-related disability policy initiatives through Disability Policy Summits; educating and supporting advocates on proposed policy initiatives and disseminating information to policy makers.
  • Increase health promotion opportunities for people with disabilities by supporting training that maximizes the health of people with disabilities and implementing health awareness and education campaigns.
  • Improving access to health care for people with disabilities by looking at the accessibility of healthcare facilities, and educating healthcare professionals through continued education, as well as internship placement for students in 11 different health related disciplines.
  • Improving emergency preparedness among people with disabilities by reviewing state emergency plans for accessibility, involving people with disabilities in county level planning, providing training, and ensuring shelter access by identifying and surveying pre-designated shelter sites.

The Arkansas Disability and Health Program is housed in the Partners for Inclusive Communities at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

 

Delaware
Program activities include:

  • Creating systems-level change through active participation on statewide councils, committees, and workgroups that are addressing health and disability issues and implementation of goals and objectives of the Plan for Action, A Strategic Plan for Delaware to Promote Health and Prevent Secondary Health Conditions in Individuals with Disabilities.
  • Providing technical assistance for health care, fitness, and recreation providers and facilities to improve accessibility and inclusion of individuals with disabilities in health examinations, exercise programs, and recreation activities.
  • Providing education, awareness raising, and resources sharing through the program’s interactive website www.gohdwd.org and email newsletters to individuals with disabilities, family members, professionals, policymakers, and legislators.

The Delaware Disability and Health Program, Healthy Delawareans with Disabilitiesis housed in the Center for Disabilities Studies at the University of Delaware.

Florida
Program activities include:

  • Promoting breast cancer awareness and encouraging recommended screening among women 40 years of age or older who have a disability (the Right to Know Campaign) with partners such as the Florida Centers for Independent Living and the Florida Area Health Education Centers.
  • Increasing the capacity of health care providers in Florida to provide quality health care to people with disabilities by training medical students, and medical and allied health professionals.
  • Increasing the quantity and quality of disability and health-related data in Florida and providing the epidemiologic capacity to analyze these data.

The Florida Disability and Health Program is housed in the Office of Disability and Health at the University of Florida.

Illinois
Program activities include:

  • Monitoring the health status and health-related behaviors of people with disabilities, and sustaining and expanding the statewide infrastructure to prevent secondary conditions and promote the health of people with disabilities in Illinois.
  • Increasing evidence-based health promotion and prevention opportunities and resources available for people with disabilities to promote healthy lifestyles and reduce the risk of chronic disease and secondary conditions.
  • Assisting health professionals to gain the knowledge and tools necessary to work effectively with people with a disability to increase the availability and accessibility of health promotion and prevention services, interventions, and resources.

The Illinois Disability and Health Program is housed in the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Iowa
Program activities include:

  • Developing a statewide network of community providers that offer the Living Well with a Disability intervention program.
  • Identifying evidence-based strategies to increase awareness and education opportunities for health professionals.
  • Promoting accessible health care and support services to increase independence among people with disabilities.

The Iowa Disability and Health Program is housed in the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Massachusetts
Program activities include:

  • Designing and implementing training and technical assistance for health care providers and public health programs on the Americans with Disabilities Act to ensure inclusion of people with disabilities in state funded programs, services, and activities.
  • Providing the knowledge base needed to design programs related to healthy aging, health and disability, and secondary health conditions.
  • Working with state agencies and community partners to identify, implement, and evaluate evidence-based health promotion programs among older adults and people with disabilities (for example, the Stanford Chronic Disease Self-Management Program).

The Massachusetts Disability and Health Program is housed in the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

Michigan
Program activities include:

The Michigan Health Promotion for People with Disabilities Program is housed in the Michigan Department of Community Health.

Montana
Program activities include:

  • Recruiting, training, and supporting disability advisors to participate in Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services advisory groups and integrate disability and health into public health planning and evaluation processes.
  • Recruiting, training, and supporting state disability leaders to assess and improve the accessibility of community health and fitness programs.
  • Conducting Living Well with a Disability, an eight-week peer-facilitated, health promotion workshop with Montana’s four Centers for Independent Living.

The Montana Disability and Health Program is a collaboration between the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services and the University of Montana Rural Institute, a Center for Excellence in Disability Education, Research, and Service.

New Hampshire
Program activities include:

  • Training students, self-advocates, families and professionals through coursework, seminars, workshops and conferences.
  • Providing technical assistance to organizations and individuals to improve their capacity to include all citizens.
  • Serving as a resource for information to policymakers and government officials.
  • Disseminating information to families, consumers, community members and professionals via books, monographs, articles, videos, newsletters, the Internet and press coverage, including TV, radio, newspapers and consumer forums.
  • Conducting applied research to better understand and address the needs of individuals with disabilities.
  • Engaging in collaborative activities and joint projects with organizations that share common goals.

The Institute on Disability (IOD) is housed within New Hampshire’s University Center for Excellence on Disability (UCED).

New York
Program activities include:

  • Implementing the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) Center for Community Health Inclusion Policy, which requires all Center for Community Health programs to ensure accessibility and inclusion for people with disabilities throughout all funding opportunities. The proposed activities to implement inclusive local and statewide public health programs must also include an evaluation of the effect and reach of the policy.
  • Educating and training NYSDOH program managers, primary program implementation staff, NYSDOH contractors and partners about the health disparities experienced by people with disabilities and providing strategies, resources, and potential partners that will enable the integration of people with disabilities in their program areas.
  • Supporting an advisory body comprising individuals with disabilities, other state agencies, community-based organizations, and providers to inform program activities, as well as representing multiple external agency advisory committees to direct consideration of health care and health promotion needs of people with disabilities.

The New York Disability and Health Program is housed in the New York State Department of Health.

North Carolina
Program activities include:

  • Supporting the collection, analysis, and dissemination of data on people with an intellectual or developmental disability, or both, to better assess the health status of North Carolina adults.
  • Promoting accessible environments to support full community participation and engaging people with disabilities by developing accessibility checklists for health care practices and by providing training on adaptive and inclusive fitness and how to remove barriers to fitness facilities.
  • Increasing access to domestic violence and sexual assault services for people with disabilities with the implementation of adaptive equipment and enhanced disability awareness among domestic violence and sexual assault agencies.

The North Carolina Disability and Health Program is housed in the North Carolina Office on Disability and Health, and is a collaboration between the Division of Public Health of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

North Dakota
Program activities include:

  • Forming a consumer-driven advisory council that reviews the progress of the program activities, reviews data related to the health of people with disabilities, assists with development of a strategic plan, and provides recommendations for addressing issues related to the health and wellness of North Dakota citizens with disabilities.
  • Reducing health disparities in the areas of obesity, diabetes, and tobacco use among people with disabilities.
  • Ensuring people have accurate information on disability and health issues and promoting communication, planning, and implementation of health- and disability-related services across service systems.

The North Dakota Disability and Health Program, named the Disability Health Project, is a collaboration between the North Dakota Center for Persons with Disabilities at Minot State University; the Center for Rural Health at the University of North Dakota; and the North Dakota State Health Department, Division of Chronic Disease, Office for the Elimination of Health Disparities.

Ohio
Program activities include:

  • Improving state-level surveillance and monitoring activities with epidemiologic expertise from the Government Resource Center (GRC).
  • Advancing health-related disability policy initiatives in Ohio.
  • Promoting the health of people with disabilities through demonstration projects and train-the-trainer sessions.
  • Improving access to health care for people with disabilities through our partnership with the Ohio Association of Community Health Centers.
  • Revising Ohio Emergency Management Plans and committees to be inclusive of people with disabilities, increasing the number of PWD who have emergency plans, training first responders on the needs of PWD, and improving the accessibility of emergency shelters.

The Ohio Disability and Health Program is composed of the Ohio Department of Health, the Ohio State University Nisonger Center, the University of Cincinnati UCEDD, and the Ohio Colleges of Medicine Government Resource Center (GRC).

Oregon
Program activities include:

  • Conducting Healthy Lifestyles workshops for people with disabilities (in English and Spanish) to improve quality of life in partnership with the Centers for Independent Living and other disability organizations.
  • Implementing the Right to Know campaign and breast health education events, providing mammography technologist training, and assessing Oregon’s mammography clinics to improve breast cancer awareness and screening among women with disabilities.
  • Providing individualized emergency preparedness training for Oregonians with disabilities as well as working with key community and state partners to ensure that emergency preparedness planning and training efforts include topics relevant to the health and safety of people with disabilities.

The Oregon Disability and Health Program is housed in the Oregon Office on Disability and Health at Oregon Health and Science University.

Rhode Island
Program activities include:

  • Promoting the health and wellness for people with disabilities through inclusive self-management, evidence-based programs.
  • Monitoring, supporting and implementing effective healthcare transition from pediatric to adulthood within a positive youth development framework that promotes self-determination and an activated patient model.
  • Providing professional development for practitioners working with people with disabilities, including training, targeted technical assistance, and access to assistive technology.
  • Addressing special needs of people with disabilities in health promotion programs, health strategic planning, emergency preparedness, preventative health screening programs, and healthcare facility access.
  • Increasing access to quality of health-related data of people with disabilities in Rhode Island and using epidemiology and evaluation analysis to monitor the health disparities.

The Rhode Island Disability and Health Program is housed in the Office of Special Needs of the Health Disparities and Access to Care Team at the Rhode Island Department of Health.

South Carolina
Program activities include:

  • Increasing the knowledge of professionals and paraprofessionals in South Carolina to meet the preventive, primary, and secondary health needs of people with disabilities.
  • Conducting ongoing surveillance with Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) and administrative datasets as secondary sources via the South Carolina Disability Cube Project.
  • Working to achieve more livable communities for people with disabilities by facilitating access to primary care physician offices, increasing access to fitness and recreation facilities, and working with community planning agencies to improve outdoor space using principals of universal design.

The South Carolina Disability and Health Program is housed in the University of South Carolina School of Medicine.

Be Prepared For Natural Disasters

Natural disasters can take place at any moment and can come in any form from floods, severe weather, earthquakes and more, yielding unfortunate outcomes without warning.  Being prepared can save lives and planning is important; know who will help you if you need assistance or if you need to evacuate.

Be Informed
Ensure you have the proper equipment to stay up-to-the-minute on breaking news and changing weather patterns. You may need a radio for this, specifically one that runs on batteries so be sure you have extras. Know when, where and what local branches of organizations like American Red Cross, have planned in your specific location, and find out how they can help. Also, ensure you can maintain contact with those outside of your home, having a phone car charger and jumper cables could be essential.

Make a Plan
For people with mobility challenges, assistance can be crucial.

If are a caregiver, or if you have assembled a “Help Team” to assist a person in need:

  • Be helpful in letting others know exactly what you need and when you need it.
  • Contact family, friends, neighbors or social service agencies if and when possible.
  • Try to have someone available who can lift and carry heavy objects such as wheelchairs or other medical equipment.
  • Give at least one other person a key to the person’s home.
  • Each team member should have the contact information for the others.
  • Name a substitute caregiver in case the original is unavailable.

Develop an evacuation strategy with your “Disaster Team,” and consider the following:

  • Where are the closest special needs emergency shelters and what are the different routes you can take to reach them?
  • What supplies must you take with you that are used every day?
  • Whom should you inform that you are evacuating?
  • How much gas do you have and how much will much will you need? Be sure to keep your vehicle’s gas tank over 1/2 full at all times.

Make a Kit
Assemble your kit well in advance with the help of a list and be sure to include:

  • Water – Keep one gallon of water per person (and per pet) per day for at least three days. Make sure you replace the water every six months.
  • Food – Keep at least a 3-day stock of non-perishable food that requires little cooking and no refrigeration in a safe place. Include a manual can opener and eating utensils.

For those with mobility disAbilities:

  • Pair of heavy gloves to use while wheeling or making your way over glass and debris
  • Extra battery for your motorized wheelchair or scooter
  • Jumper cables or specific recharging device to be connected to an automobile’s cigarette lighter
  • Patch kit or can of “seal-in-air product” to repair flat tires
  • Spare cane or walker
  • Food, medicine, favorite toy, and other care items for your service animal
  • Plastic bags, disposable gloves, and other items for the animal’s care

Find out if you qualify for assistance and fill out a form in advance to ensure your safety should the need arise. And be aware of FEMA resources in your area, including their capabilities and the best way to reach them.

How To Make Your Kitchen Wheelchair-Friendly For the Holidays

Brisk air, shorter days and finding a pumpkin patch on every corner can only mean one thing—holiday season is upon us and with it come delicious feasts enjoyed with loved ones. For some of us, this also means lots of time spent in the kitchen. Whether you’re cooking, washing dishes or just gathering in the house’s social center, a kitchen that’s accessible to all family members makes for an inviting place to enjoy time together. Making your kitchen space more wheelchair-friendly can seem overwhelming, but with a few adjustments and considerations, you, and any other wheelchair user in your circle, can feel comfortable taking part in holiday traditions.

Kitchen Counters
Because the typical height of a wheelchair armrest is about 29”, a recommended counter-top height for a person using a wheelchair is a minimum of 28” and should be no higher than 34”. There should also be a space of at least 24” in height and 30” in width to accommodate the wheelchair underneath while working at the counter. This way, you, or any person with a disAbility in your family, can easily reach the counter for food preparation, storage or sneaking a bite of that side dish before it’s quite ready.

Sinks
An important tip to keep in mind when installing a wheelchair accessible sink is to place the drain near the back of the sink. This keeps a space clear of obstructions under the sink where a person using a wheelchair can move into without issue. Also be sure any hot water pipes are insulated to prevent burns. Finally, accessible kitchen sinks should be only 5” to 6 ½” deep with a single lever faucet to make for simple operation

Wall Cabinets
Lowering wall cabinets by about 3” (from the standard 18” above the counter to 15”) would make the second shelf accessible for persons in wheelchairs. By also including pullout cutting boards and drawers with full extension glides, your kitchen could be transformed into an accessible haven. An alternative solution would be to install shelving lifts inside cabinets. These will lower the shelves, and their contents, to an accessible height for those with disAbilities.

Appliances
Installing or lowering wall ovens, microwaves or other mounted appliances to approximately 31” from the floor can make them more convenient to operate from a wheelchair. When it comes to a stove-top, positioning control knobs at the front of the appliances eliminates the need to reach across a hot cooking surface and makes it easier for those with mobility limitations to feel more comfortable cooking up something yummy.

These adaptations can help make your kitchen easy to navigate and give you the perfect space to try those holiday recipes you’ve been eying.

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?

Helpful Tips for Caregivers

Spending an average of 20 hours per week, more than 65 million people provide care for a chronically ill, people with disAbilties or aging friend or family member each year. For these individuals, caregiving can prove to be a rewarding opportunity, however there are many challenges they must face along the way. If you provide care for a person with a disAbility, here are some important things to keep in mind in order to ensure your own well being.

Ask for and accept help when you need it. As anyone can attest to, when one thing goes awry, other things can follow. Sometimes caregiving can become an overwhelming task and your to-do list will seem infinite. If you feel the stresses of your responsibilities becoming too heavy a weight, don’t hesitate to ask others for help. There might be other family members or friends willing to take your loved one to their appointments or even prepare meals in advance for them.

Do the best you can and don’t give in to guilt. Understand that there will be situations you won’t be able to fix or undo. Focus on what you are able to provide, and push aside feelings of inadequacy.

Seek social support and get to know other people in your position. Local and online support groups can be an amazing resource for meeting other, often experienced, caregivers able to provide encouragement and advice. Maintaining social and emotional connections can significantly improve your ability to manage the stress associated with caregiving.

Be willing to learn. Organizations such as the Red Cross offer courses on caregiving and there are countless online resources designed to teach you more about the particular condition your loved one is facing. An educated approach to caregiving can benefit both you and the ones you care for.

Take care of yourself as you do your loved ones. It’s important not to put your own health and well being aside when caring for a person with a disAbility. Make sure you’re seeing your doctor as often as it is recommended and stay on top of any concerns or symptoms you may be experiencing. Make it a point to get a good night’s sleep as often as possible and consume a healthy, balanced diet.

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.

Ways To Adjust A Home For Someone With A DisAbility

There are many different types of disAbilities, therefore, when making changes to a home to accommodate someone with a disAbility, you first need to consider the individual’s specific needs, then the dimensions to follow based on disAbility access laws.

Here are some things to consider when adjusting the home to meet the needs of someone with a disAbility:

Counters and Tables
In the house you may have to adapt counters and tables. They may need to be lowered. They will also need extra open space underneath so that someone using a wheelchair can move closer to the counter or table. You should also consider making sure there is enough space available to maneuver a wheelchair around the house.

Appliances
Some other objects that can be useful in the kitchen for someone with a disAbility include an electric can opener, an electric jar opener and food processor for vegetable cutting. When buying a stove, make sure the knobs are in front so the person using a wheelchair can reach them and turn the oven on or the top burners on.

Toilets
In the bathroom you should consider having elevated toilet seats. Make sure you have bars by the toilet for someone who lacks balance to hold onto while sitting down or standing up. If you have someone that is using a wheelchair you need to have available a sliding board so you can transfer them from the wheelchair to the toilet.

Sinks
Extended levers on the faucet make it easy to turn on and off the water. The sink may need to be lowered to insure accessibility. You might also want to consider making sure that there is space underneath the sink so that there is room to maneuver a wheelchair.

Bath mats
If the bathroom has a bathtub, then make sure you have a floor length mat with a non-slip backing so it will adhere to the floor to prevent the disabled person from tripping over the mat.

Outlets
Arrange the furniture in the room so outlets are easily accessible.

Lighting
Make sure your lamps are touchable or react to sound so that the person with the disAbility can turn lights on and off when no one is around to help them.

Phones
Make sure the phone is cordless so the individual can carry it around with them and answer a call when the phone rings.

Kitchenware
You can buy silverware with Styrofoam that makes it easier for someone with a disAbility to hold the utensil and use it while eating.

Door handles
Use handles as opposed to knobs so the individual with a disAbility can open and close doors by themselves without assistance. When buying a refrigerator make sure the handle is either on the left or right hand side depending on the needs of the individual.

Doors and walkways
When adapting the home for a wheelchair make sure the doors open wide enough for the wheelchair to go through and halls are uncluttered.

For the deaf
When adapting the home to someone who is deaf make sure you will have a TTD — teletype device so the individual can make phone calls for themselves.

Doorbells
Connect the doorbell to the lights so they will flash when a phone call comes in or when someone rings the doorbell for someone who is deaf.

Showers
When adapting a shower you should consider installing a shower seat so that someone who is unable to stand can shower while sitting. If the person uses a wheelchair you will need a transfer board so they can transfer themselves to the seat without assistance. Another option for a person using a wheelchair is to have a shower that they can roll their wheelchair into. You may also want to consider having a shower head with a wand, that way it can be lowered so that it is more accessible for a person who needs to shower while seated.

These are just a few things to consider when adapting a home to meet the needs of someone with a disAbility. Above all, make sure to ask individuals with a disAbility what their needs are to adjust the home for them.

State Disability and Health Programs

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) state-based disability and health programs inform policy and practice at the state level. These programs ensure that individuals with disabilities are included in ongoing state disease prevention, health promotion, and emergency response activities.

CDC supports 18 state-based programs to promote equity in health, prevent chronic disease, and increase the quality of life for people with disabilities. Each program customizes its activities to meet its state’s needs, which broadens expertise and information sharing among states.

The programs’ goals are to:

  • Enhance program infrastructure and capacity.
  • Improve state level surveillance and monitoring activities.
  • Increase awareness of health-related disability policy initiatives.
  • Increase health promotion opportunities for people with disabilities.
  • Improve access to health care services for people with disabilities.
  • Improve emergency preparedness for people with disabilities.
  • Effectively monitor and evaluate program activities.

The goals of the state disability and health programs align with those of Healthy People 2020 related to disability:

  • Removing barriers to participation in social, spiritual, recreational, community and civic activities.
  • Improving access to primary care, and health and wellness programs.
  • Identifying people with disabilities in data systems.
  • Increasing surveillance and health promotion programs.
  • Providing graduate-level courses in disability and health.

States funded by CDC for Disability and Health Programs:

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arkansas
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina


Alabama

Program activities include:

  • Promoting inclusion of persons with disabilities in all aspects of policy development, planning, and execution of state based public health programs.
  • Using Federally Qualified Healthcare Centers to assist with capacity assessment of ability to meet the needs of those with disabilities and determine barriers to inclusiveness.
  • Increasing health promotion opportunities for persons with disabilities through adaptation of existing public health programs, such as Scale Back Alabama, and increasing the number of children with disabilities who participate in mainstream physical education and after-school programs.

 

Alaska
Program activities include:

  • Developing accurate and timely outreach for Alaskans experiencing disability and their care providers.
  • Building the capacity of a cross-agency disability advisory council that reviews and evaluates program activities, assists with sustainability plans, and provides recommendations for policy change.
  • Providing technical assistance, training, and other support for existing community-wide initiatives designed to improve the health of Alaskans experiencing disability.

The Alaska Disability and Health Program is a collaboration between the State of Alaska’s Department of Health and Social Services, Division of Public Health, Section of Women’s, Children’s, and Family Health and the Governor’s Council on Disabilities and Special Education, and is housed in the Division of Public Health.

 

Arkansas
Program activities include:

  • Enhancing program infrastructure and capacity through the expansion and support of an Advisory Board and increasing the representation of individuals with disabilities on public health program committees.
  • Improving state-level surveillance and monitoring by conducting a statewide needs assessment to look at the health status and access of people with disabilities, developing documents comparing demographics and health disparities of Arkansas and the U.S.
  • Increasing awareness of health-related disability policy initiatives through Disability Policy Summits; educating and supporting advocates on proposed policy initiatives and disseminating information to policy makers.
  • Increase health promotion opportunities for people with disabilities by supporting training that maximizes the health of people with disabilities and implementing health awareness and education campaigns.
  • Improving access to health care for people with disabilities by looking at the accessibility of healthcare facilities, and educating healthcare professionals through continued education, as well as internship placement for students in 11 different health related disciplines.
  • Improving emergency preparedness among people with disabilities by reviewing state emergency plans for accessibility, involving people with disabilities in county level planning, providing training, and ensuring shelter access by identifying and surveying pre-designated shelter sites.

The Arkansas Disability and Health Program is housed in the Partners for Inclusive Communities at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

 

Delaware
Program activities include:

  • Creating systems-level change through active participation on statewide councils, committees, and workgroups that are addressing health and disability issues and implementation of goals and objectives of the Plan for Action, A Strategic Plan for Delaware to Promote Health and Prevent Secondary Health Conditions in Individuals with Disabilities.
  • Providing technical assistance for health care, fitness, and recreation providers and facilities to improve accessibility and inclusion of individuals with disabilities in health examinations, exercise programs, and recreation activities.
  • Providing education, awareness raising, and resources sharing through the program’s interactive website www.gohdwd.org and email newsletters to individuals with disabilities, family members, professionals, policymakers, and legislators.

The Delaware Disability and Health Program, Healthy Delawareans with Disabilitiesis housed in the Center for Disabilities Studies at the University of Delaware.

Florida
Program activities include:

  • Promoting breast cancer awareness and encouraging recommended screening among women 40 years of age or older who have a disability (the Right to Know Campaign) with partners such as the Florida Centers for Independent Living and the Florida Area Health Education Centers.
  • Increasing the capacity of health care providers in Florida to provide quality health care to people with disabilities by training medical students, and medical and allied health professionals.
  • Increasing the quantity and quality of disability and health-related data in Florida and providing the epidemiologic capacity to analyze these data.

The Florida Disability and Health Program is housed in the Office of Disability and Health at the University of Florida.

Illinois
Program activities include:

  • Monitoring the health status and health-related behaviors of people with disabilities, and sustaining and expanding the statewide infrastructure to prevent secondary conditions and promote the health of people with disabilities in Illinois.
  • Increasing evidence-based health promotion and prevention opportunities and resources available for people with disabilities to promote healthy lifestyles and reduce the risk of chronic disease and secondary conditions.
  • Assisting health professionals to gain the knowledge and tools necessary to work effectively with people with a disability to increase the availability and accessibility of health promotion and prevention services, interventions, and resources.

The Illinois Disability and Health Program is housed in the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Iowa
Program activities include:

  • Developing a statewide network of community providers that offer the Living Well with a Disability intervention program.
  • Identifying evidence-based strategies to increase awareness and education opportunities for health professionals.
  • Promoting accessible health care and support services to increase independence among people with disabilities.

The Iowa Disability and Health Program is housed in the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Massachusetts
Program activities include:

  • Designing and implementing training and technical assistance for health care providers and public health programs on the Americans with Disabilities Act to ensure inclusion of people with disabilities in state funded programs, services, and activities.
  • Providing the knowledge base needed to design programs related to healthy aging, health and disability, and secondary health conditions.
  • Working with state agencies and community partners to identify, implement, and evaluate evidence-based health promotion programs among older adults and people with disabilities (for example, the Stanford Chronic Disease Self-Management Program).

The Massachusetts Disability and Health Program is housed in the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

Michigan
Program activities include:

The Michigan Health Promotion for People with Disabilities Program is housed in the Michigan Department of Community Health.

Montana
Program activities include:

  • Recruiting, training, and supporting disability advisors to participate in Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services advisory groups and integrate disability and health into public health planning and evaluation processes.
  • Recruiting, training, and supporting state disability leaders to assess and improve the accessibility of community health and fitness programs.
  • Conducting Living Well with a Disability, an eight-week peer-facilitated, health promotion workshop with Montana’s four Centers for Independent Living.

The Montana Disability and Health Program is a collaboration between the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services and the University of Montana Rural Institute, a Center for Excellence in Disability Education, Research, and Service.

New Hampshire
Program activities include:

  • Training students, self-advocates, families and professionals through coursework, seminars, workshops and conferences.
  • Providing technical assistance to organizations and individuals to improve their capacity to include all citizens.
  • Serving as a resource for information to policymakers and government officials.
  • Disseminating information to families, consumers, community members and professionals via books, monographs, articles, videos, newsletters, the Internet and press coverage, including TV, radio, newspapers and consumer forums.
  • Conducting applied research to better understand and address the needs of individuals with disabilities.
  • Engaging in collaborative activities and joint projects with organizations that share common goals.

The Institute on Disability (IOD) is housed within New Hampshire’s University Center for Excellence on Disability (UCED).

New York
Program activities include:

  • Implementing the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) Center for Community Health Inclusion Policy, which requires all Center for Community Health programs to ensure accessibility and inclusion for people with disabilities throughout all funding opportunities. The proposed activities to implement inclusive local and statewide public health programs must also include an evaluation of the effect and reach of the policy.
  • Educating and training NYSDOH program managers, primary program implementation staff, NYSDOH contractors and partners about the health disparities experienced by people with disabilities and providing strategies, resources, and potential partners that will enable the integration of people with disabilities in their program areas.
  • Supporting an advisory body comprising individuals with disabilities, other state agencies, community-based organizations, and providers to inform program activities, as well as representing multiple external agency advisory committees to direct consideration of health care and health promotion needs of people with disabilities.

The New York Disability and Health Program is housed in the New York State Department of Health.

North Carolina
Program activities include:

  • Supporting the collection, analysis, and dissemination of data on people with an intellectual or developmental disability, or both, to better assess the health status of North Carolina adults.
  • Promoting accessible environments to support full community participation and engaging people with disabilities by developing accessibility checklists for health care practices and by providing training on adaptive and inclusive fitness and how to remove barriers to fitness facilities.
  • Increasing access to domestic violence and sexual assault services for people with disabilities with the implementation of adaptive equipment and enhanced disability awareness among domestic violence and sexual assault agencies.

The North Carolina Disability and Health Program is housed in the North Carolina Office on Disability and Health, and is a collaboration between the Division of Public Health of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

North Dakota
Program activities include:

  • Forming a consumer-driven advisory council that reviews the progress of the program activities, reviews data related to the health of people with disabilities, assists with development of a strategic plan, and provides recommendations for addressing issues related to the health and wellness of North Dakota citizens with disabilities.
  • Reducing health disparities in the areas of obesity, diabetes, and tobacco use among people with disabilities.
  • Ensuring people have accurate information on disability and health issues and promoting communication, planning, and implementation of health- and disability-related services across service systems.

The North Dakota Disability and Health Program, named the Disability Health Project, is a collaboration between the North Dakota Center for Persons with Disabilities at Minot State University; the Center for Rural Health at the University of North Dakota; and the North Dakota State Health Department, Division of Chronic Disease, Office for the Elimination of Health Disparities.

Ohio
Program activities include:

  • Improving state-level surveillance and monitoring activities with epidemiologic expertise from the Government Resource Center (GRC).
  • Advancing health-related disability policy initiatives in Ohio.
  • Promoting the health of people with disabilities through demonstration projects and train-the-trainer sessions.
  • Improving access to health care for people with disabilities through our partnership with the Ohio Association of Community Health Centers.
  • Revising Ohio Emergency Management Plans and committees to be inclusive of people with disabilities, increasing the number of PWD who have emergency plans, training first responders on the needs of PWD, and improving the accessibility of emergency shelters.

The Ohio Disability and Health Program is composed of the Ohio Department of Health, the Ohio State University Nisonger Center, the University of Cincinnati UCEDD, and the Ohio Colleges of Medicine Government Resource Center (GRC).

Oregon
Program activities include:

  • Conducting Healthy Lifestyles workshops for people with disabilities (in English and Spanish) to improve quality of life in partnership with the Centers for Independent Living and other disability organizations.
  • Implementing the Right to Know campaign and breast health education events, providing mammography technologist training, and assessing Oregon’s mammography clinics to improve breast cancer awareness and screening among women with disabilities.
  • Providing individualized emergency preparedness training for Oregonians with disabilities as well as working with key community and state partners to ensure that emergency preparedness planning and training efforts include topics relevant to the health and safety of people with disabilities.

The Oregon Disability and Health Program is housed in the Oregon Office on Disability and Health at Oregon Health and Science University.

Rhode Island
Program activities include:

  • Promoting the health and wellness for people with disabilities through inclusive self-management, evidence-based programs.
  • Monitoring, supporting and implementing effective healthcare transition from pediatric to adulthood within a positive youth development framework that promotes self-determination and an activated patient model.
  • Providing professional development for practitioners working with people with disabilities, including training, targeted technical assistance, and access to assistive technology.
  • Addressing special needs of people with disabilities in health promotion programs, health strategic planning, emergency preparedness, preventative health screening programs, and healthcare facility access.
  • Increasing access to quality of health-related data of people with disabilities in Rhode Island and using epidemiology and evaluation analysis to monitor the health disparities.

The Rhode Island Disability and Health Program is housed in the Office of Special Needs of the Health Disparities and Access to Care Team at the Rhode Island Department of Health.

South Carolina
Program activities include:

  • Increasing the knowledge of professionals and paraprofessionals in South Carolina to meet the preventive, primary, and secondary health needs of people with disabilities.
  • Conducting ongoing surveillance with Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) and administrative datasets as secondary sources via the South Carolina Disability Cube Project.
  • Working to achieve more livable communities for people with disabilities by facilitating access to primary care physician offices, increasing access to fitness and recreation facilities, and working with community planning agencies to improve outdoor space using principals of universal design.

The South Carolina Disability and Health Program is housed in the University of South Carolina School of Medicine.

Top Tips For Helping A Student With A Disability Settle Into a University

Waving a child off to university for the first time is never easy. But if they also happen to have a disability, either physical or mental, the practical aspects of letting go become even more complicated.

Where possible, encourage your child to take the lead in establishing what your role should be. Finding ways to communicate about what they hope to achieve from their time at university, and helping them to plan the first few steps is a useful way for everyone to get used to the transition.


Identifying needs

Sit down together and have an honest conversation about how you both feel that disability affects your child’s life. What sort of support do you normally offer? What happens if nobody is there to support them? What makes it more difficult for him or her to manage their condition? What coping strategies make it easier?

Draw up a brief outline of what a regular day or week looks like, taking into account bad days as well as the best. You can use this to identify key needs and health risks – a handy reference point during university visits and open days, or when applying for disability support packages (like Disabled Students Allowance and Social Services support).

This is also a useful exercise to repeat after your child’s first term or year at university: how is it different to what you both expected? Are there any additional obstacles that you might need to address?


Choosing a university

It’s always worth visiting potential universities to get a realistic feel for how it suits your student child. An off-campus site may cause challenges for physically impaired students if they have to travel all over town for lectures, or if there are lots of cobbled streets or hills.

A lot of older buildings may not be fully wheelchair accessible. If getting lost is an issue, it’s a good idea to map out regular routes together and try them out a few times before term begins.

It’s also worth thinking about the impact of living on campus, and how different types of accommodation may impact study and socialising. Is the university near a good medical facility, for instance? Some students will want to consider how close to home they are: nothing is less cool than having your mum pay an unexpected visit when all your mates are over, but having somebody near enough to make the journey might be useful in emergencies.

Remember, all universities have a legal obligation to make reasonable adjustments to a course or building to cater for a recognised medical need. Speak to university representatives to find out who will be looking out for your child. All universities should have a disability support team, so get in touch to discuss the help that they can offer.


Creating a network

Working together, make a list of the people your child is able to turn to for assistance and support. This may be parents, friends, family doctors, tutors and / or university disability support teams. Encourage your child to have discussions with the people who support them about the assistance they think they might need. Is there somebody who can make a check-in phone call once a week? Would it help to plan regular reviews or a quick visit every now and then?

Make sure expectations are clear, but reasonable – it’s important that everybody’s needs are being met, including your own. If your child has organisational difficulties, they might want to stick the list on a wall, or somewhere easy to find in an emergency.

Don’t forget that when they are over the age of 18, they may be entitled to support from social services. Contact your local council for more information.


Applying for extra support

Disabled Students Allowance (DSA) can offer helpful aids you may not have thought of: from adapted desks, to funding for taxis, to note takers. Information is available here.

DSA applications take a long time to be processed, and will need to be assessed by a representative before any funding or equipment is offered. It can also take months for this equipment to actually arrive, so make a note of deadlines and submit the applications as soon as you can.

These forms can be incredibly overwhelming: help to fill them out in as much detail as possible (as always, taking into account your child’s worst health days) may make the process less frustrating.


Being heard

Universities are huge, complex administrative bodies and it is easy to get lost within the system. If nobody speaks up when a student is facing challenges, even relatively small ones, it’s likely that they will be missed.

But part of the university experience is also about learning through making mistakes. Try not to panic if it seems that your child’s needs aren’t being met. Keep up the communication to make sure that these issues do not spiral out of control.

Being available during emergencies may be necessary, but for day to day issues, it will be a huge achievement every time the student in question is able to seek out the support they need themselves.

Pushing hard enough to ensure that all needs are being met can be frustrating and difficult, but nobody responds well to force. One of the hardest challenges for everyone involved with a disability can be finding the right tone to ask for what is necessary.Helping to find ways to communicate their own needs with confidence and positivity is probably the best gift you can offer at a time like this. Keep coming back to your initial plans and reassessing the situation. Your input and relationship will probably change along the way, but this is all just part of the process, and an entirely necessary part of becoming the parent of a grown-up human being.

Helping to find ways to communicate their own needs with confidence and positivity is probably the best gift you can offer at a time like this. Keep coming back to your initial plans and reassessing the situation. Your input and relationship will probably change along the way, but this is all just part of the process, and an entirely necessary part of becoming the parent of a grown-up human being.

The Difference Between Service, Therapy and Emotional Support Animals

Many times, the terms service, therapy and emotional support are mistakenly used interchangeably to describe an animal accompanying a person with a disability. While animals falling into each of these categories can be invaluable additions to the lives of their owners, their training and characteristics are notably different and as such they have varying responsibilities and rights.

Service Animals
Undergoing rigorous and highly specific training, service animals are taught to provide special, sometimes life-saving services to persons with disabilities. Dogs are most commonly used for this type of work, with certain breeds, such as Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers, being popular for their temperament, versatility, size and intelligence. Due to the nature of their roles, service dogs are granted certain rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act, like being allowed to accompany their owners into establishments inside which pets are not generally allowed. Service dogs can be trained to provide countless services to their owner depending on his or her needs, from alerting their owners to the sounds of smoke alarms or ringing phones to pulling their wheelchairs or leading them through a crowd.

Therapy Animals
Therapy animals also receive extensive training but their role in a person’s life is a little different than that of a service dog. These animals provide psychological and physiological therapy to individuals other than their handlers, visiting hospitals, schools, nursing homes and other such institutions. These animals are trained to socialize and interact with those around them during their time on duty, participating in various activities while maintaining a calm demeanor. While dogs are also common in animal-assisted therapy, horses and dolphins, amongst many others, have been known to take on the challenge. Professional handlers may not be in charge of an animal’s training, however their training must meet certain criteria as specified for the organization for which they will work.

Emotional Support Animals
While emotional support animals are not required to undergo special training, their presence in a person’s life can be tremendously beneficial. By providing comfort, support and a calming presence, this type of animal can help relieve anxiety and reduce stress. Emotional support animals do not fall under the same category as service or therapy animals, however they are afforded certain rights. The Fair Housing Act allows ESAs to bypass “no pet” policies in housing complexes while the Air Carrier Access Act permits these animals to travel alongside their companions in an aircraft, as long as they possess the proper documentation.

Service, therapy and emotional support animals offer guidance and assistance to their owners or handlers in unique yet indispensable ways. For a person with a disability, these types of animals can make a world of difference.

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.

Arthritis Awareness

Arthritis is very common but is not well understood. Actually, “arthritis” is not a single disease; it is an informal way of referring to joint pain or joint disease. There are more than 100 different types of arthritis and related conditions. People of all ages, sexes and races can and do have arthritis, and it is the leading cause of disability in America. Nearly 53 million adults and 300,000 children have some type of arthritis. It is most common among women and occurs more frequently as people get older.

Common arthritis joint symptoms include swelling, pain, stiffness and decreased range of motion. Symptoms may come and go. They can be mild, moderate or severe. They may stay about the same for years, but may progress or get worse over time. Severe arthritis can result in chronic pain, inability to do daily activities and make it difficult to walk or climb stairs. Arthritis can cause permanent joint changes. These changes may be visible, such as knobby finger joints, but often the damage can only be seen on X-ray. Some types of arthritis also affect the heart, eyes, lungs, kidneys and skin as well as the joints.

There are different types of arthritis:

Degenerative Arthritis
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. When the cartilage – the slick, cushioning surface on the ends of bones – wears away, bone rubs against bone, causing pain, swelling and stiffness. Over time, joints can lose strength and pain may become chronic. Risk factors include excess weight, family history, age and previous injury (an anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, tear, for example).

When the joint symptoms of osteoarthritis are mild or moderate, they can be managed by:

  • balancing activity with rest
  • using hot and cold therapies
  • regular physical activity
  • maintaining a healthy weight
  • strengthening the muscles around the joint for added support
  • using assistive devices
  • taking over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers or anti-inflammatory medicines
  • avoiding excessive repetitive movements

If joint symptoms are severe, causing limited mobility and affecting quality of life, some of the above management strategies may be helpful, but joint replacement may be necessary.

Osteoarthritis can prevented by staying active, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding injury and repetitive movements.

Inflammatory Arthritis
A healthy immune system is protective. It generates internal inflammation to get rid of infection and prevent disease. But the immune system can go awry, mistakenly attacking the joints with uncontrolled inflammation, potentially causing joint erosion and may damage internal organs, eyes and other parts of the body. Rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis are examples of inflammatory arthritis. Researchers believe that a combination of genetics and environmental factors can trigger autoimmunity. Smoking is an example of an environmental risk factor that can trigger rheumatoid arthritis in people with certain genes.

With autoimmune and inflammatory types of arthritis, early diagnosis and aggressive treatment is critical. Slowing disease activity can help minimize or even prevent permanent joint damage. Remission is the goal and may be achieved through the use of one or more medications known as disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). The goal of treatment is to reduce pain, improve function, and prevent further joint damage.

Infectious Arthritis
A bacterium, virus or fungus can enter the joint and trigger inflammation. Examples of organisms that can infect joints are salmonella and shigella (food poisoning or contamination), chlamydia and gonorrhea (sexually transmitted diseases) and hepatitis C (a blood-to-blood infection, often through shared needles or transfusions). In many cases, timely treatment with antibiotics may clear the joint infection, but sometimes the arthritis becomes chronic.

Metabolic Arthritis
Uric acid is formed as the body breaks down purines, a substance found in human cells and in many foods. Some people have high levels of uric acid because they naturally produce more than is needed or the body can’t get rid of the uric acid quickly enough. In some people the uric acid builds up and forms needle-like crystals in the joint, resulting in sudden spikes of extreme joint pain, or a gout attack. Gout can come and go in episodes or, if uric acid levels aren’t reduced, it can become chronic, causing ongoing pain and disability.

Diagnosing Arthritis
Arthritis diagnosis often begins with a primary care physician, who performs a physical exam and may do blood tests and imaging scans to help determine the type of arthritis. An arthritis specialist, or rheumatologist, should be involved if the diagnosis is uncertain or if the arthritis may be inflammatory. Rheumatologists typically manage ongoing treatment for inflammatory arthritis, gout and other complicated cases. Orthopaedic surgeons do joint surgery, including joint replacements. When the arthritis affects other body systems or parts, other specialists, such as ophthalmologists, dermatologists or dentists, may also be included in the health care team.

Huntington’s Disease

Huntington’s disease (HD) is an inherited brain disorder that results in the progressive loss of both mental faculties and physical control. Symptoms usually appear between the ages of 30 to 50, and worsen over a 10 to 25 year period. Ultimately, the weakened individual succumbs to pneumonia, heart failure or other complications.

Everyone has the HD gene but it is those individuals that inherit the expansion of the gene who will develop HD and perhaps pass it onto each of their children.

Presently, there is no cure. Although medications can relieve some symptoms, research has yet to find a means of slowing the deadly progression of HD.

Current estimates are that 1 in every 10,000 Americans has HD and more than 250,000 others are at-risk of having inherited it from a parent. Once thought a rare disease, HD is now considered one of the more common hereditary diseases.

Every person who inherits the expanded HD gene will eventually develop the disease.
Over time, HD affects the individual’s ability to reason, walk and speak

Symptoms Include:

  • Personality changes, mood swings and depression
  • Forgetfulness and impaired judgment
  • Unsteady gait and involuntary movements
  • Slurred speech and difficulty in swallowing

The Scope of HD
Approximately 30,000 Americans have HD, but the devastating effects of the disease touch many more. Within a family, multiple generations may have inherited the disease. Those at-risk may experience tremendous stress from the uncertainty and sense of responsibility. In the community, lack of knowledge about HD may keep friends and neighbors from offering social and emotional support to the family, fostering unnecessary isolation.

The Huntington’s Disease Society of America (HDSA) has a nationwide network that provides support and referrals for individuals with HD and their families.

Genetic Testing for HD
Individuals can be tested for the gene that causes HD. The test may be used to confirm a diagnosis of HD, but may also be used as a predictive test before symptoms arise. Some individuals at-risk for HD feel that it is important to know whether they carry the gene. Others ultimately choose not to be tested. While the actual procedure is simple, the decision to have the test is not. HDSA recommends that persons wishing to undergo presymptomatic testing for HD do so at one of our HDSA Centers of Excellence, or at a testing center with specific training in working with HD. A list of these testing centers is available from HDSA

HD affects both sexes and all races and ethnic groups around the world.
The Decision to test is highly personal and should never be rushed or forced.

Who is At-Risk?
Every child of a parent with HD has a  50/50 chance of inheriting the expanded gene that causes the disease. If the child has not inherited this expanded gene, he or she will never develop the disease and cannot pass it on to their children.

Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA)
The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) protects people from discrimination by health insurers and employers on the basis of their DNA information. This federal law also enables individuals to take part in research studies without fear that their DNA information might be used against them by health insurers or in the workplace.

However, GINA protections do not extend to long term care, disability or life insurance policies. Anyone contemplating testing should first consider adding one or more of these types of policies before starting the testing process.

Advocacy
HDSA advocacy works to advance legislation and policy to improve the lives of HD families by raising awareness about HD in the U.S. Congress, by promoting legislation, policy and regulations that would help individuals in the HD community, by educating Federal agencies about HD, and by partnering and collaborating with national organizations that have common goals. Learn more at www.hdsa.org/advocacy.

Join us in the fight against HD
YOU can help HDSA in our efforts to end HD and provide resources for those who must face this disease daily. Both funds and volunteers are needed. Contact the HDSA National Office to find out how YOU can help.

HD does not skip generations; if one does not inherit the expanded gene, one cannot pass it on

An End To HD?
In 1993, researchers identified the gene that causes HD. Since then, research has moved quickly towards developing treatments and, ultimately, a cure. HDSA supports the goals of clinical and basic research at leading research facilities globally.

Clinical and observational trials are an important way you can help to sustain the momentum of HD research and move potential new therapies through the approval process. Visit the Research section of the HDSA website for more information and to find a trial in your area. There are opportunities for all HD family members – gene positive, at-risk, gene negative, and caregivers – to participate.

About HDSA
The Huntington’s Disease Society of America (HDSA) is the largest 501(C)(3) non-profit volunteer organization dedicated to improving the lives of everyone affected by Huntington’s disease. Founded in 1968 by Marjorie Guthrie, wife of folk legend Woody Guthrie who lost his battle with HD, the Society works tirelessly to provide family services, education, advocacy and research to provide help for today, hope for tomorrow to the more than 30,000 people diagnosed with HD and the 250,000 at-risk in the United States.

Where to find help
You are not alone in facing HD. HDSA has developed a nationwide network that includes Chapters and Affiliates, HDSA Centers of Excellence, Support Groups, and Social Workers that are ready to assist you with referrals and resources in your area. To learn more, please visit www.hdsa.org or call 888-HDSA-506.

Research worldwide is working to unlock the mystery of HD and find a cure

National Stroke Awareness Month

What Is A Stroke?
A stroke is a “brain attack”. It can happen to anyone at any time. It occurs when blood flow to an area of brain is cut off. When this happens, brain cells are deprived of oxygen and begin to die. When brain cells die during a stroke, abilities controlled by that area of the brain such as memory and muscle control are lost.

How a person is affected by their stroke depends on where the stroke occurs in the brain and how much the brain is damaged. For example, someone who had a small stroke may only have minor problems such as temporary weakness of an arm or leg. People who have larger strokes may be permanently paralyzed on one side of their body or lose their ability to speak. Some people recover completely from strokes, but more than 2/3 of survivors will have some type of disability.

Stroke by the Numbers

  • Each year nearly 800,000 people experience a new or recurrent stroke.
  • A stroke happens every 40 seconds.
  • Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S.
  • Every 4 minutes someone dies from stroke.
  • Up to 80 percent of strokes can be prevented.
  • Stroke is the leading cause of adult disability in the U.S.

Autism Spectrum Disorders

Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are a group of developmental disabilities that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges.

ASDs are “spectrum disorders” which means ASDs affect each person in different ways, and can range from very mild to severe. People with ASDs share some similar symptoms, such as problems with social interaction. But there are differences in when the symptoms start, how severe they are, and the exact nature of the symptoms.


Types of ASDs
There are three different types of ASDs:

  • Autistic Disorder (also called “classic” autism)
    This is what most people think of when hearing the word “autism.” People with autistic disorder usually have significant language delays, social and communication challenges, and unusual behaviors and interests. Many people with autistic disorder also have intellectual disability.
  • Asperger Syndrome
    People with Asperger syndrome usually have some milder symptoms of autistic disorder. They might have social challenges and unusual behaviors and interests. However, they typically do not have problems with language or intellectual disability.
  • Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS; also called “atypical autism”)
    People who meet some of the criteria for autistic disorder or Asperger syndrome, but not all, may be diagnosed with PDD-NOS. People with PDD-NOS usually have fewer and milder symptoms than those with autistic disorder. The symptoms might cause only social and communication challenges.


Signs and Symptoms
ASDs begin before the age of 3 and last throughout a person’s life, although symptoms may improve over time. Some children with an ASD show hints of future problems within the first few months of life. In others, symptoms might not show up until 24 months or later. Some children with an ASD seem to develop normally until around 18 to 24 months of age and then they stop gaining new skills, or they lose the skills they once had.

A person with an ASD might:

  • Not respond to their name by 12 months
  • Not point at objects to show interest (point at an airplane flying over) by 14 months
  • Not play “pretend” games (pretend to “feed” a doll) by 18 months
  • Avoid eye contact and want to be alone
  • Have trouble understanding other people’s feelings or talking about their own feelings
  • Have delayed speech and language skills
  • Repeat words or phrases over and over (echolalia)
  • Give unrelated answers to questions
  • Get upset by minor changes
  • Have obsessive interests
  • Flap their hands, rock their body, or spin in circles
  • Have unusual reactions to the way things sound, smell, taste, look, or feel


Diagnosis
Diagnosing ASDs can be difficult since there is no medical test, like a blood test, to diagnose the disorders. Doctors look at the child’s behavior and development to make a diagnosis.

ASDs can sometimes be detected at 18 months or younger. By age 2, a diagnosis by an experienced professional can be considered very reliable. However, many children do not receive a final diagnosis until much older. This delay means that children with an ASD might not get the help they need.


Treatment
There is currently no cure for ASDs. However, research shows that early intervention treatment services can greatly improve a child’s development. Early intervention services help children from birth to 3 years old (36 months) learn important skills. Services can include therapy to help the child talk, walk, and interact with others. Therefore, it is important to talk to your child’s doctor as soon as possible if you think your child has an ASD or other developmental problem.

Even if your child has not been diagnosed with an ASD, he or she may be eligible for early intervention treatment services. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) says that children under the age of 3 years (36 months) who are at risk of having developmental delays may be eligible for services. These services are provided through an early intervention system in your state. Through this system, you can ask for an evaluation.

In addition, treatment for particular symptoms, such as speech therapy for language delays, often does not need to wait for a formal ASD diagnosis.

Learn about types of treatments »


Causes and Risk Factors
We do not know all of the causes of ASDs. However, we have learned that there are likely many causes for multiple types of ASDs. There may be many different factors that make a child more likely to have an ASD, including environmental, biologic and genetic factors.

  • Most scientists agree that genes are one of the risk factors that can make a person more likely to develop an ASD.
  • Children who have a sibling or parent with an ASD are at a higher risk of also having an ASD.
  • ASDs tend to occur more often in people who have certain other medical conditions. About 10% of children with an ASD have an identifiable genetic disorder, such as Fragile X syndrome, tuberous sclerosis, Down syndrome and other chromosomal disorders.
  • Some harmful drugs taken during pregnancy have been linked with a higher risk of ASDs, for example, the prescription drugs thalidomide and valproic acid.
  • We know that the once common belief that poor parenting practices cause ASDs is not true.
  • There is some evidence that the critical period for developing ASDs occurs before birth. However, concerns about vaccines and infections have led researchers to consider risk factors before and after birth.

ASDs are an urgent public health concern. Just like the many families affected in some way by ASDs, CDC wants to find out what causes the disorder. Understanding the risk factors that make a person more likely to develop an ASD will help us learn more about the causes. We are currently working on one of the largest U.S. studies to date, called Study to Explore Early Development (SEED). SEED is looking at many possible risk factors for ASDs, including genetic, environmental, pregnancy, and behavioral factors.


Who is Affected
ASDs occur in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups, but are almost five times more common among boys than among girls. CDC estimates that about 1 in 88 children has been identified with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

More people than ever before are being diagnosed with an ASD. It is unclear exactly how much of this increase is due to a broader definition of ASDs and better efforts in diagnosis. However, a true increase in the number of people with an ASD cannot be ruled out. We believe the increase in ASD diagnosis is likely due to a combination of these factors.

Within the past decade, CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network has been estimating the number of people with an ASD in the U.S. We have learned a lot about how many children in the U.S. have an ASD. It will be important to use the same methods to track how the number of people with an ASD is changing over time in order to learn more about the disorders.


If You’re Concerned
If you think your child might have an ASD or you think there could be a problem with the way your child plays, learns, speaks, or acts,contact your child’s doctor, and share your concerns.

If you or the doctor is still concerned, ask the doctor for a referral to a specialist who can do a more in-depth evaluation of your child. Specialists who can do a more in-depth evaluation and make a diagnosis include:

  • Developmental Pediatricians (doctors who have special training in child development and children with special needs)
  • Child Neurologists (doctors who work on the brain, spine, and nerves)
  • Child Psychologists or Psychiatrists (doctors who know about the human mind)

At the same time, call your state’s public early childhood system to request a free evaluation to find out if your child qualifies for intervention services. This is sometimes called a Child Find evaluation. You do not need to wait for a doctor’s referral or a medical diagnosis to make this call.

Where to call for a free evaluation from the state depends on your child’s age:

  • If your child is not yet 3 years old, contact your local early intervention system.You can find the right contact information for your state by calling the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY) at 1-800-695-0285.Or visit the NICHCY website. Once you find your state on this webpage, look for the heading “Programs for Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities: Ages Birth through 3″.
  • If your child is 3 years old or older, contact your local public school system.Even if your child is not yet old enough for kindergarten or enrolled in a public school, call your local elementary school or board of education and ask to speak with someone who can help you have your child evaluated.If you’re not sure who to contact, call the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities at 1.800.695.0285 or visit the NICHCY website. Once you find your state on this webpage, look for the heading “Programs for Children with Disabilities: Ages 3 through 5″.

Research shows that early intervention services can greatly improve a child’s development. In order to make sure your child reaches his or her full potential, it is very important to get help for an ASD as soon as possible.

Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialists

Getting on the road to independence can be a long and twisting journey, but there are individuals, businesses and organizations ready, willing and able to help make it a smooth ride. Working with a Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialist (CDRS) and a Mobility Dealer is one of the first and most important steps to take when purchasing mobility equipment or a new or used handicap accessible vehicle. Below are just some of the ways these specialists can make it easier for you to get behind the wheel.

Assessing Your Needs
Before taking to the road, you must complete a driving evaluation to determine your abilities as a driver. A CDRS-conducted evaluation will not only asses your driving skills as a driver with a disability, but will also match you with the most appropriate and best solutions for your mobility needs.

Safety First
By ensuring your mobility needs are met, a driving evaluation from a CDRS can help ensure you’ll be safer while on the road. These comprehensively trained specialists work with Mobility Dealers that are extremely knowledgeable about mobility solutions, provide individual, in-person evaluations and with their support and guidance, you can feel confident knowing that your time behind the wheel will be as secure as possible.

Adapted Driving Programs
A number of organizations also offer Adapted Driving Programs designed to help drivers with disabilities feel confident behind the wheel. Under the guidance of a CDRS, drivers can get hands-on training on how to stay safe and in control on the road. Some programs, such as senior safety courses, even help individuals find the best driving routes to common destinations and assist in learning rules and regulations affecting their driving environments.

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.

Spring has sprung! Is your garden ready?

Do you have limited mobility and enjoy gardening? Or is gardening something you’ve always wanted to try because you love spending time outdoors? Here are some useful tips to help you adapt your garden and/or get around obstacles you may have:

  • Depending on your disability, it might be easier to focus more on raised beds or container growing. Make sure any ground level areas are low maintenance to keep the digging and weeding needed to a minimum.
  • If you use a wheelchair or walking aid, paths in the garden/greenhouse need to be wide enough and with ample turning space.
  • Look for lightweight, ergonomic tools that are designed to be easier to grip. Newer types of prosthetic grips with specific uses have even been developed for amputees. Spring-released tools can help compensate for weak hands. Cordless power tools can also be a big help.
  • Watering is crucial to any successful garden but some watering cans can be awkward to carry, so choose a design you can manage easily. A lightweight plastic watering can with flat sides should be easier to carry and tip than a round can.
  • If you prefer to use a hose, a hose reel should be easier to manage than a standard hose. There are also lightweight expanding, or ‘curly’, hoses which are easier and lighter to pull into position, and they spring back into place.
  • Gardening is great exercise and it’s always satisfying to see the beautiful results of all your hard work. The key is to adapt and learn, but most importantly to get outside and enjoy yourself.

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.

Autism Awareness Month

Autism Awareness Month

The importance of recognizing Autism throughout the month of April is to help better educate and raise awareness to the public. Autism is a complex mental condition and developmental disability, characterized by difficulties in the way a person communicates and interacts with other people. Autism can be present from birth or form during early childhood, typically within the first three years. Autism is a lifelong developmental disability with no single known cause.

People with autism are also known as having Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) both terms are often used interchangeably. People with ASD have a set of symptoms unique to themselves; no two people are the same. ASD affects people in different ways, and can range from very mild to severe. Although some symptoms are similar, such as challenges with social interaction, there are differences in when the symptoms start, how severe they are, and the exact nature of the symptoms.

If you are looking for a way to get involved, donate for just want to learn more information about Autism you can visit the websites of some great organizations such as Autism Speaks, Autism Society and the National Autism Association.

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.

 

March Is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

President Ronald Reagan declared March to be Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month in 1987, urging “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.”

What is a Developmental Disability?

Definition of Developmental Disability
Developmental Disability means a disability that is manifested before the person reaches twenty-two (22) years of age, which constitutes a substantial disability to the affected individual, and is attributable to mental retardation or related conditions which include cerebral palsy, epilepsy, autism or other neurological conditions when such conditions result in impairment of general intellectual functioning or adaptive behavior similar to that of a person with mental retardation. Unless otherwise specifically stated, the federal definition of “Developmental Disability” found in 42 U.S.C. 6000, et seq., shall not apply.

  • A. Impairment of general intellectual functioning means that the person has been determined to have an intellectual quotient equivalent which is two or more standard deviations below the mean (70 or less assuming a scale with a mean of 100 and a standard deviation of 15), as measured by an instrument which is standardized, appropriate to the nature of the person’s disability, and administered by a qualified professional. The standard error of measurement of the instrument should be considered when determining the intellectual quotient equivalent. When an individual’s general intellectual functioning cannot be measured by a standardized instrument, then the assessment of a qualified professional shall be used.
  • B. “Adaptive behavior similar to that of a person with mental retardation” means that the person has overall adaptive behavior which is two or more standard deviations below the mean in two or more skill areas (communication, self-care, home living, social skills, community use, self-direction, health and safety, functional academics, leisure, and work), as measured by an instrument which is standardized, appropriate to the person’s living environment, and administered and clinically determined by a qualified professional. These adaptive behavior limitations are a direct result of, or are significantly influenced by, the person’s substantial intellectual deficits and may not be attributable to only a physical or sensory impairment or mental illness.

“Substantial intellectual deficits” means an intellectual quotient that is between 71 and 75 assuming a scale with a mean of 100 and a standard deviation of 15, as measured by an instrument which is standardized, appropriate to the nature of the person’s disability, and administered by a qualified professional. The standard error of measurement of the instrument should be considered when determining the intellectual quotient equivalent.

 

Definition of Developmental Delay
A developmental delay is the slowed or impaired development of a child who is under 5 years old and who is at risk of having a developmental disability because of the presence of one or more of the following:

  • Congenital syndromes and conditions associated with delay in development,
  • Metabolic disorders,
  • Prenatal and perinatal infections and significant medical problems,
  • Low birth weight infants weighing less than 1200 grams,
  • Postnatal acquired problems known to result in significant developmental delays, OR:
  • A child less than 5 years old who is delayed in development by 1.5 standard deviations or more in one or more of the following areas; communication, self-help, social-emotional, motor skills, sensory development or cognition, OR
  • A child less than 3 years of age who lives with one or both parents who have a developmental disability.

What To Consider When Shopping For A Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle

If you have a disAbility and don’t yet have an accessible vehicle, it’s difficult to know where to start. You’ve worked with your doctor and therapist, maybe even a certified driver rehabilitation specialist (CDRS), but they don’t know your budget, your preferred car or van, or where the nearest mobility dealer is.

Your medical team will help, of course, but you have homework to do:

Set a budget
How much can you afford to pay for a new or used wheelchair van? Figure in the down payment, monthly payment, insurance, gas and an estimate for yearly maintenance. Look for rebates, grants, loans, etc. to help reduce the price tag.

Research, research, research
Your doctor or therapist may recommend necessary adaptive equipment, but there may be other equipment you’d like. Check out the many options available now.

Testing, testing
If you can, test drive different vehicles at the mobility dealership to get the feel of spaciousness, ease or difficulty of loading, driving and parking, etc.

As you narrow the choices down, you might want to rent your top choice for a weekend or week-long trip. Time on the road will determine if the make and model are right for you.

Ask yourself these questions

  • Does it fit lengthwise and width-wide in my driveway or garage?
  • Is there space enough for the ramp or lift to deploy?
  • Can I easily reach and work all the controls?
  • If you plan to use a transfer seat- Is the seat comfortable? (Like your favorite chair at home—can you sit in it for hours and still be comfortable?)

There are many factors to consider that you may not have thought about until you test drive several candidates.

Find a mobility dealer
You will need to find an expert on wheelchair accessible vehicles and adaptive equipment. There are some things to consider when searching for the perfect mobility dealer to assist you.

  • Where are they located?
  • How experienced are they?
  • Do they offer a full-service shop?
  • How many vehicle options do they have available?

Are You Prepared For An Emergency?

An emergency can range from something relatively small such as getting locked out of your house, to something requiring a lot of preparation such as a blizzard or fire. Making sure you have a plan for as many situations that may come up in your life is the only sure way to make it easier.

Here are some starter ideas for prepping in case of an emergency.

Basic Supplies:

  • One gallon of water per day per person for at least three days
  • Non-perishable food supply for three days (including can opener if necessary)
  • Hand crank radio for emergency alerts
  • Flashlights and extra batteries
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Dust mask
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Local maps
  • First aid kit

If you have a disability, here are some important things to also consider.

  • Pet food and supplies for service animal
  • Medication and medical supplies for at least a week
  • Backup equipment that can run in the event of a power outage
  • Extra eyeglasses, hearing aids, medical batteries, and oxygen
  • Medical records and cards
  • Family records and important documents in a waterproof/fireproof container
  • Operating guide for medical equipment
  • Emergency contacts list

Communicating with Family
Possibly the most important thing you can do to prepare is to talk about it. Share your plan with friends and family so that they are aware of what you will be doing in a certain situation. Giving them a copy of your plans and also copies of operating equipment if necessary will allow them to come to aid if need be.

Finally, make sure you are educated. Learn your local community warning system announcements so that you can be one step ahead. Enroll in assistance programs or find out how to contact them. And be aware as you go about your day. Find out what local hazards are more likely to presents themselves, such as robbery, flood zones, or tornadoes.

Using a few simple steps is all it takes to prep your house for an emergency. Although your plan and preparation might not be perfect, having something is always better than nothing.

February Is American Heart Month: Are You at Risk for Heart Disease?

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. Every year, 1 in 4 deaths are caused by heart disease.

The good news? Heart disease can often be prevented when people make healthy choices and manage their health conditions. Communities, health professionals, and families can work together to create opportunities for people to make healthier choices

During the month of February, Americans see the human heart as the symbol of love. February is American Heart Month, a time to show yourself the love. Learn about your risks for heart disease and stroke and stay “heart healthy” for yourself and your loved ones.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD)—including heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure— is a leading cause of disability, preventing Americans from working and enjoying family activities. CVD costs the United States over $300 billion each year, including the cost of health care services, medications, and lost productivity.

Understanding the Burden of CVD
CVD does not affect all groups of people in the same way. Although the number of preventable deaths has declined in people aged 65 to 74 years, it has remained unchanged in people under age 65. Men are more than twice as likely as women to die from preventable CVD.

Many CVD deaths could have been prevented through healthier habits, healthier living spaces, and better management of conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes.

Take It One Step at a Time

You can control a number of risk factors for CVD, including:

  • Diet
  • Physical activity
  • Tobacco use
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • High blood cholesterol
  • Diabetes

As you begin your journey to better heart health that can last a lifetime, keep these things in mind:

  • Try not to become overwhelmed. Every step brings you closer to a healthier heart, and every healthy choice makes a difference!
  • Partner up. The journey is more fun—and often more successful—when you have company. Ask friends and family to join you.
  • Don’t get discouraged. You may not be able to take all of the steps at one time. Get a good night’s sleep—also important for a healthy heart—and do what you can tomorrow.
  • Reward yourself. Find fun things to do to decrease your stress. Round up some colleagues for a lunchtime walk, join a singing group, or have a healthy dinner with your family or friends.

Plan for Prevention
Try out these strategies for better heart health. You’ll be surprised how many of them can become lifelong habits!

Work with your health care team. Get a checkup at least once each year, even if you feel healthy. A doctor, nurse, or other health care professional can check for conditions that put you at risk for CVD, such as high blood pressure and diabetes—conditions that can go unnoticed for too long.

Monitor your blood pressure. High blood pressure often has no symptoms, so be sure to have it checked on a regular basis. You can check your blood pressure at home, at a pharmacy, or at a doctor’s office.

Get your cholesterol checked. Your health care team should test your cholesterol levels at least once every 5 years. Talk with your health care professional about this simple blood test.

Eat a healthy diet. Choosing healthful meal and snack options can help you avoid CVD and its complications. Limiting sodium in your diet can lower your blood pressure. Be sure to eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables—adults should have at least five servings each day. Eating foods low in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol and high in fiber.

Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese can increase your risk for CVD. To determine whether your weight is in a healthy range, health care professionals often calculate a number called body mass index (BMI). Doctors sometimes also use waist and hip measurements to measure a person’s body fat.

Exercise regularly. Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight and lower cholesterol and blood pressure. The Surgeon General recommends that adults should engage in moderate-intensity activity for at least 150 minutes per week. Remember to incorporate exercise into your day in different ways: take the stairs instead of the elevator, or rake the yard instead of using the leaf blower. Exercising with friends and family can be a great way to stay healthy and have fun.

Don’t smoke. Cigarette smoking greatly increases your risk for CVD. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, quit as soon as possible. Your health care team can suggest ways to help you quit.

Limit alcohol use. Avoid drinking too much alcohol, which can increase your blood pressure. Men should stick to no more than two drinks per day, and women to no more than one.

Manage your diabetes. If you have diabetes, monitor your blood sugar levels closely, and talk with your health care team about treatment options.

Take your medicine. If you’re taking medication to treat high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, or another condition, follow the instructions carefully. Always ask questions if you don’t understand something. If you have side effects, talk with your health care team about your options.

Together, we all can prevent and manage heart disease, one step at a time.

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.

Be Prepared For Natural Disasters

Natural disasters can take place at any moment and can come in any form from floods, severe weather, earthquakes and more, yielding unfortunate outcomes without warning.  Being prepared can save lives and planning is important; know who will help you if you need assistance or if you need to evacuate.

Be Informed
Ensure you have the proper equipment to stay up-to-the-minute on breaking news and changing weather patterns. You may need a radio for this, specifically one that runs on batteries so be sure you have extras. Know when, where and what local branches of organizations like American Red Cross, have planned in your specific location, and find out how they can help. Also, ensure you can maintain contact with those outside of your home, having a phone car charger and jumper cables could be essential.

Make a Plan
For people with mobility challenges, assistance can be crucial.

If are a caregiver, or if you have assembled a “Help Team” to assist a person in need:

  • Be helpful in letting others know exactly what you need and when you need it.
  • Contact family, friends, neighbors or social service agencies if and when possible.
  • Try to have someone available who can lift and carry heavy objects such as wheelchairs or other medical equipment.
  • Give at least one other person a key to the person’s home.
  • Each team member should have the contact information for the others.
  • Name a substitute caregiver in case the original is unavailable.

Develop an evacuation strategy with your “Disaster Team,” and consider the following:

  • Where are the closest special needs emergency shelters and what are the different routes you can take to reach them?
  • What supplies must you take with you that are used every day?
  • Whom should you inform that you are evacuating?
  • How much gas do you have and how much will much will you need? Be sure to keep your vehicle’s gas tank over 1/2 full at all times.

Make a Kit
Assemble your kit well in advance with the help of a list and be sure to include:

  • Water – Keep one gallon of water per person (and per pet) per day for at least three days. Make sure you replace the water every six months.
  • Food – Keep at least a 3-day stock of non-perishable food that requires little cooking and no refrigeration in a safe place. Include a manual can opener and eating utensils.

For those with mobility disAbilities:

  • Pair of heavy gloves to use while wheeling or making your way over glass and debris
  • Extra battery for your motorized wheelchair or scooter
  • Jumper cables or specific recharging device to be connected to an automobile’s cigarette lighter
  • Patch kit or can of “seal-in-air product” to repair flat tires
  • Spare cane or walker
  • Food, medicine, favorite toy, and other care items for your service animal
  • Plastic bags, disposable gloves, and other items for the animal’s care

Find out if you qualify for assistance and fill out a form in advance to ensure your safety should the need arise. And be aware of FEMA resources in your area, including their capabilities and the best way to reach them.

Warfighter Sports

Warfighter Sports have provided 8,200 wounded warriors and family opportunities to participate in more than 30 sports since 2003, free of any costs.

The mission of Warfighter Sports is simple:
Provide adaptive sports to severely wounded warriors free of cost. Thanks to generous supporters, they have supported 1,500 wounded warriors just last year alone.

Apply To Be  A Warfighter Here

Warfighter Sports Individual Training Grants
Warfighter Sports is offering grants to veterans and members of the armed forces with permanent physical disabilities who do not have nearby access to adaptive training in the sport of their choice.

Grant funding can be used to assist with participation expenses associated with their individual sport goals. Successful applicants will be awarded grant funding as well as Warfighter Sports apparel to wear during their participation.

The goal of this program is to help veterans and members of the armed forces with permanent physical disabilities gain independence in their chosen sport, so that even if an adaptive club is not available nearby, they have the ability to participate in non-adaptive programs alongside family and friends.

Grants of up to $1000, per warrior, per year are available on a rolling basis until all funds have been spent. Funds are only distributed once valid receipts and reports have been received by Disabled Sports USA. Applicants will be notified if their grant is approved within 21 business days of their submission.

Grant Qualifications:

  • Veterans or members of the armed forces with a permanent physical disability* who do not have nearby access to adaptive training in their chosen sport
  • Veterans or members of the armed forces with a permanent physical disability* who are seeking advanced training, competitive or classification opportunities in their chosen sport
  • $1000 maximum grant awarded per year
  • Must participate in qualified sporting activity (see application for specific list)

*i.e. spinal cord injury, amputation, vision impairment, traumatic brain injury, nerve/joint or muscle damage that permanently impedes function.

 Sample Expenses Covered:

  • Travel expenses to train in an adaptive sport if not offered locally
  • Travel to attend classification opportunities or Paralympic competition
  • Coaching fees for individualized instruction
  • Adaptive sports equipment not covered by the VA

Reporting Requirements: 

The following is to be submitted no later than two weeks post-activity or by September 1, 2015 (whichever is soonest)

  • Brief summary of program outcomes (one paragraph)
  • Photo of participation in activity (preferably while wearing Warfighter Sports provided apparel)
  • Provide valid receipts for expenses

Communication Awareness

The first step to respectfully communicate with a person with a disAbility is simply by making an effort. 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.

Furthermore, it’s crucial to recognize individuals. For example: Jane is Jane/John is John. S/He is not one of “the handicapped,” “the paraplegics” or any other all-inclusive term. S/He is one, able individual who has paraplegia. The condition does not define her/him, and though s/he may be proud and affiliated with communities who engage paraplegia, it’s best to allow s/he 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.

Experienced Mobility Equipment Dealers

When it comes to finding the right transportation solution for your needs the options are almost endless. There’s accessible minivans, trucks, wheelchair and scooter carriers, lifts, ramps, hand controls, transfer seats etc. To ensure you are getting the right mobility products for your specific needs it’s important to get the help of an experienced mobility equipment dealer. Most local mobility equipment dealers have been in business for years and over that time have gained the knowledge and expertise to fit you with the very best product for your situation.

Quality mobility equipment dealers will meet with you in person to help determine your individual needs and what adaptive vehicle or equipment is best for you. They’ll ask you questions about you, your disability, your wheelchair or scooter, how you’ll be using the vehicle, will there be additional drivers, your budget etc.

It’s important that you ask the mobility equipment dealer some specific questions, as well. You’ll need to find out if they offer 24-hour emergency assistance, are their technicians trained and certified, and are they a full service automotive shop. You then have to ask yourself if you feel like they’re easy to work with and ultimately if you want to do business with this dealership.

Whether you buy new or used will depend on your finances but the most important thing is that the vehicle is designed to fit your requirements. Your local mobility dealer is the key to getting you into the right vehicle. Based on your disability, together, you can easily determine what’s the best transportation solution for you.

Find Financial Resources for Your Mobility Needs

Far too often, you find it hard to afford many of the tools and resources that you need in everyday life. For that reason, there are several alternative ways to get funding that will ensure that you get the assistance you need to live a hassle-free life without worrying about breaking the bank.

Here are a few sources of financial assistance to look into if you are finding it hard to cover all of your mobility expenses.

Medicare:
Usually offered only through private companies, Medicare can be a good option for certain medical devices and equipment and is based on your medical necessity for the goods or services you may need help with.

Medicaid:
While there is no exclusive list in terms of medical equipment covered, cases are approved on a case-by-case basis. Medicaid is a great option to look into if your expenses and needs aren’t covered by Medicare.

The IRS:
Did you know that certain mobility aids such as adaptive driving equipment can be deducted from your federal taxes? Contact your local tax adviser to see what equipment and supplies you use regularly to see if they can be deducted.

State Programs:
Check with your state’s vocational rehabilitation agencies to see if your mobility needs are approved for financial assistance. If any of it helps you get to work or perform your job efficiently, you may be covered here. Aside from that, you may also want to check out your local Center for Independent Living to see if they have any other resources that you can look into for financial assistance.

Vehicle-Related:
If you’ve recently had any adaptive equipment or ramps installed in your vehicle—or, for that matter, if you’ve recently purchased wheelchair van—there are some dealerships that will reimburse you for such things. Check with your local mobility-friendly dealership to learn more.

With these resources at your disposal, you can hopefully stop worrying about money and focus more on living a stress-free life where your mobility needs are easily met.

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.

Checking Gifts Off That Holiday Shopping List

Trying to think of what to get everyone on that Holiday shopping list of yours can be a burdensome task. Fortunately, we have done our research to provide you with a great list of gift options.

Technology

  • Voice activated dialers let you speed dial contacts by just saying their name into your phone.
  • Amazon’s Kindle is a sleek, lightweight (weighing less than a paperback book) eBook reader. The sleek new screen makes it possible for those with limited mobility in their hands to turn the pages of a book.
  • Dragon speech recognition software makes it easier for anyone to use a computer. You talk, and it types. Use your voice to create and edit documents or emails, launch applications, open files, control your mouse, and more. Compatible with both Windows and Mac.
  • Intela Voice Activated Light Switch – By verbally saying a word or phrase, turn on or off lights and other appliances. The voice activated light switch works with nearly all small to medium devices.

Accessories

  • Gloves are always a good buy for a person who uses a manual wheelchair. You can find wheelchair gloves that are made from textiles and leather and that are infused with patented nanotechnology that allows the wearer to operate any touch screen device without removing the gloves.
  • The WeatherBreaker is a canopy that attaches to wheelchairs or scooters to protect you from the sun and rain.
  • The MiniTray attaches to your scooter or power chair armrest. When you need it, flip it up from the side. When not in use, flip it back down like an airline tray.
  • Armrest pouches and seatback bags are useful gifts for wheelchair users. They are perfect for storing cell phones, wallets, shopping items and much more.

Tools

  • An aluminum grabber bar is a great tool for those that have limited mobility. They add the advantage of independence instead of having to ask for assistance.
  • A dressing stick assists with putting on sweaters, shirts, pants, coats and more. There are also tools to assist in putting on shoes and socks as well to keep them on.

Experience

  • Give the gift of experiences. Everyone enjoys a night out at a nice restaurant, or a great play or comedy show. Look for vouchers and gift cards for local attractions online. Be sure to check with the establishment to ensure it is accessible.

Before purchasing, be sure the product will work for the particular person you are buying for, consider the product style and look and make sure you buy from a reputable supplier to ensure the product performs the function intended. Happy Holidays!

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?

How To Make Your Kitchen Wheelchair-Friendly For the Holidays

Brisk air, shorter days and finding a pumpkin patch on every corner can only mean one thing—holiday season is upon us and with it come delicious feasts enjoyed with loved ones. For some of us, this also means lots of time spent in the kitchen. Whether you’re cooking, washing dishes or just gathering in the house’s social center, a kitchen that’s accessible to all family members makes for an inviting place to enjoy time together. Making your kitchen space more wheelchair-friendly can seem overwhelming, but with a few adjustments and considerations, you, and any other wheelchair user in your circle, can feel comfortable taking part in holiday traditions.

Kitchen Counters
Because the typical height of a wheelchair armrest is about 29”, a recommended counter-top height for a person using a wheelchair is a minimum of 28” and should be no higher than 34”. There should also be a space of at least 24” in height and 30” in width to accommodate the wheelchair underneath while working at the counter. This way, you, or any person with a disAbility in your family, can easily reach the counter for food preparation, storage or sneaking a bite of that side dish before it’s quite ready.

Sinks
An important tip to keep in mind when installing a wheelchair accessible sink is to place the drain near the back of the sink. This keeps a space clear of obstructions under the sink where a person using a wheelchair can move into without issue. Also be sure any hot water pipes are insulated to prevent burns. Finally, accessible kitchen sinks should be only 5” to 6 ½” deep with a single lever faucet to make for simple operation

Wall Cabinets
Lowering wall cabinets by about 3” (from the standard 18” above the counter to 15”) would make the second shelf accessible for persons in wheelchairs. By also including pullout cutting boards and drawers with full extension glides, your kitchen could be transformed into an accessible haven. An alternative solution would be to install shelving lifts inside cabinets. These will lower the shelves, and their contents, to an accessible height for those with disAbilities.

Appliances
Installing or lowering wall ovens, microwaves or other mounted appliances to approximately 31” from the floor can make them more convenient to operate from a wheelchair. When it comes to a stove-top, positioning control knobs at the front of the appliances eliminates the need to reach across a hot cooking surface and makes it easier for those with mobility limitations to feel more comfortable cooking up something yummy.

These adaptations can help make your kitchen easy to navigate and give you the perfect space to try those holiday recipes you’ve been eying.

A Helping Hand: Useful Apps for Caregivers

Caring for a loved one with a disability on your own (or even with the support of the rest of the family) can be a demanding job. It’s safe to say that most of us would welcome extra help. A surprising place to find some additional support is your smartphone. Apps come in all shapes and sizes, and can help lighten your load and make your everyday tasks just a little bit easier. Here are some of our favorite and most useful apps for caregivers.

CarePartners (Free)
Created by Lifeline, this free mobile app makes caregiving a team effort. Invite your family members or other loved ones to a private, secure network where you can coordinate and organize tasks, assign jobs to group members or ask for volunteers, and add your tasks to your phone’s calendars to set reminders.

CareZone (Free)
Carry your loved one’s most important information with you wherever you go. Store social security numbers, insurance information, medications (including dosages, refills, etc.) and emergency contacts with this app and be sure your information is safe with constant back ups, encrypted data and private storage that is never shared with a third-party.

PocketPharmacist (Free)
Stay in control of your loved one’s prescriptions and medications with access to extensive drug information, including overlapping side effects, precautions and costs. You can also organize prescriptions and set medication reminders with this app, as well as sync it with Walgreens to easily refill your Walgreens prescriptions.

iRelax (Free)
Melt away the day’s stress and escape to a calming oasis with the iRelax app. Listen to soothing sounds like the ocean surf, a forest night or just white noise and let your mind and body find complete relaxation. You could even enjoy these tracks with the one you’re caring for, as they make for an excellent break throughout the day.

November is National Epilepsy Awareness Month

Epilepsy affects about 2 million people in the United States and is characterized by recurrent, unprovoked seizures. Delayed recognition of these seizures and inadequate treatment increases the risk for additional seizures, disAbility, decreased health-related quality of life and, in rare instances, death.

Although epilepsy can occur at any age, the condition is more likely to begin among children less than 2 years of age and adults older than 65 years. As do many who live with other chronic disorders, those with epilepsy often face challenges related to managing epilepsy treatment, symptoms, disAbility, lifestyle limitations, emotional stress, and stigma.

CDC’s Managing Epilepsy Well (MEW) Network is composed of individuals interested in improving the care of people with epilepsy. MEW Network members, including representatives from U.S. universities, community-based organizations, and CDC are working together to develop and test self-management programs and tools that help people with epilepsy better manage their disorder and improve their quality of life.

MEW programs available to communities include WebEase, UPLIFT, and PEARLS. WebEase (Epilepsy Awareness Support and Education) is an Internet self-management program designed to improve medication adherence, stress management, and sleep. UPLIFT (Using Practice and Learning to Increase Favorable Thoughts) is an Internet and telephone program that combines cognitive behavioral therapy with mindfulness to treat depression in people with epilepsy. PEARLS (Program to Encourage Active Rewarding Lives) is a home-based, collaborative-care depression treatment program for adults with epilepsy.

Interventions that are currently being tested by MEW network researchers include a self-management program that combines self-regulation and social support for adults with refractory epilepsy; an electronic decision-support system for clinics to improve self-management communication and behavior; and a consumer-driven self-management program. New projects include a telephone intervention for rural dwelling adults with epilepsy and cognitive impairment, and self-management training for adults with epilepsy and co-existing serious mental illness.

New York Updates the Handicap Symbol

You see them in parking lots, bathrooms, license plates and public transportation. It’s easily recognizable, yet most don’t think about them too much. It’s the handicap symbol, and in New York it’s getting a fresh look after 45 years.

What started as an illegal art project in Rhode Island by Sara Hendren and Brian Glenney soon transformed into a movement for change recognized by the government. Their original idea was to liven up the “stiff, robotic” look into a more active and human looking symbol. The message is to get away from presenting the look as a disAbility, and rather show that it is still a person in the chair who is still moving forward.

Inspiration for Mobility
An attempt to change the symbol in 1994 was proposed but failed. However, it did succeed as the inspiration for the new design, which was built on a grass-root platform spreading awareness through the right routes to reach real change. The biggest adopter so far is the state of New York, which signed the change into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo. In addition, NFL team Jacksonville Jaguars, the Boys and Girls Club in South Boston, and the Museum of Modern Art had all also updated their handicap logos to the new look.

The language of the symbol is also making a change. Using the word accessible now rather than handicap presents a more positive light on the symbol and thought process alike. The specific look of the logo now has the person leaning forward with arms back and wheel accented to appear spinning so that the overall appearance shows motion.

Handicap Symbol Represents Movement
No movement comes without concerns however, and the main issue presented with the Accessibility Icon Project is that it resembles an athlete and doesn’t represent the disabled as a whole. Though true from this perspective, the designer Sara Hendren pushes to move the focus away from a literal interpretation to its symbolism. The movement is not solely about a new look, but brings attention for us to take action and rethink disAbility in society.

Only time will tell if the project will gain national or even worldwide change. What is known though is that it starts conversations and gives people a new way to look at those different around them.

How to Stay in Shape During the Off Season

It is hard to keep in shape during the fall and even more so in the winter season. This holds true more so for a person who is differently abled. During the time of bad weather, like rain or snow, it is almost impossible to get around or to get out and do a little running or pushing. There are always alternatives though, you could purchase or make your own weights. If you are less of a strength person and more of a stamina or cardio person, you can always take the time to go for a roll around the neighborhood or nearest public track, if there is one.

If you lack the transportation, are unable to leave the house, or bad weather bothers you such as rain, you can always invest in an indoor rolling trainer. This device assures you a cardio workout from the comfort of your own house or garage. Equipment like this can get exceptionally pricey, unfortunately. Some may think, “Why the high price for pieces of metal welded together?” if this is you, you can always construct your own.

There are stores online that sell the equipment such as these, that are needed for a person whose day to day life involves a disAbility.

If you are a handy person and like to make things there are also videos online on sites such as YouTube that have “Do It Yourself” videos on how to construct a rolling trainer. If you are looking for an alternative to working out this fall or winter season and do not know where to start, here are some simple questions to ask yourself. What is the purpose of wanting to get in shape? What do you need to work on more: strength, speed, stamina or all of the above?

You will need to figure out what exercises you are capable of. Once you have figured out your abilities and where you want to go with your workouts/exercises, the, there is no better time to start your road to health or training for a sport then as soon as possible. Make sure to be happy with your choices and be safe in your workout endeavors.

Ways To Adjust A Home For Someone With A DisAbility

There are many different types of disAbilities, therefore, when making changes to a home to accommodate someone with a disAbility, you first need to consider the individual’s specific needs, then the dimensions to follow based on disAbility access laws.

Here are some things to consider when adjusting the home to meet the needs of someone with a disAbility:

Counters and Tables
In the house you may have to adapt counters and tables. They may need to be lowered. They will also need extra open space underneath so that someone using a wheelchair can move closer to the counter or table. You should also consider making sure there is enough space available to maneuver a wheelchair around the house.

Appliances
Some other objects that can be useful in the kitchen for someone with a disAbility include an electric can opener, an electric jar opener and food processor for vegetable cutting. When buying a stove, make sure the knobs are in front so the person using a wheelchair can reach them and turn the oven on or the top burners on.

Toilets
In the bathroom you should consider having elevated toilet seats. Make sure you have bars by the toilet for someone who lacks balance to hold onto while sitting down or standing up. If you have someone that is using a wheelchair you need to have available a sliding board so you can transfer them from the wheelchair to the toilet.

Sinks
Extended levers on the faucet make it easy to turn on and off the water. The sink may need to be lowered to insure accessibility. You might also want to consider making sure that there is space underneath the sink so that there is room to maneuver a wheelchair.

Bath mats
If the bathroom has a bathtub, then make sure you have a floor length mat with a non-slip backing so it will adhere to the floor to prevent the disabled person from tripping over the mat.

Outlets
Arrange the furniture in the room so outlets are easily accessible.

Lighting
Make sure your lamps are touchable or react to sound so that the person with the disAbility can turn lights on and off when no one is around to help them.

Phones
Make sure the phone is cordless so the individual can carry it around with them and answer a call when the phone rings.

Kitchenware
You can buy silverware with Styrofoam that makes it easier for someone with a disAbility to hold the utensil and use it while eating.

Door handles
Use handles as opposed to knobs so the individual with a disAbility can open and close doors by themselves without assistance. When buying a refrigerator make sure the handle is either on the left or right hand side depending on the needs of the individual.

Doors and walkways
When adapting the home for a wheelchair make sure the doors open wide enough for the wheelchair to go through and halls are uncluttered.

For the deaf
When adapting the home to someone who is deaf make sure you will have a TTD — teletype device so the individual can make phone calls for themselves.

Doorbells
Connect the doorbell to the lights so they will flash when a phone call comes in or when someone rings the doorbell for someone who is deaf.

Showers
When adapting a shower you should consider installing a shower seat so that someone who is unable to stand can shower while sitting. If the person uses a wheelchair you will need a transfer board so they can transfer themselves to the seat without assistance. Another option for a person using a wheelchair is to have a shower that they can roll their wheelchair into. You may also want to consider having a shower head with a wand, that way it can be lowered so that it is more accessible for a person who needs to shower while seated.

These are just a few things to consider when adapting a home to meet the needs of someone with a disAbility. Above all, make sure to ask individuals with a disAbility what their needs are to adjust the home for them.

Helpful Tips for Caregivers

Spending an average of 20 hours per week, more than 65 million people provide care for a chronically ill, people with disAbilties or aging friend or family member each year. For these individuals, caregiving can prove to be a rewarding opportunity, however there are many challenges they must face along the way. If you provide care for a person with a disAbility, here are some important things to keep in mind in order to ensure your own well being.

Ask for and accept help when you need it. As anyone can attest to, when one thing goes awry, other things can follow. Sometimes caregiving can become an overwhelming task and your to-do list will seem infinite. If you feel the stresses of your responsibilities becoming too heavy a weight, don’t hesitate to ask others for help. There might be other family members or friends willing to take your loved one to their appointments or even prepare meals in advance for them.

Do the best you can and don’t give in to guilt. Understand that there will be situations you won’t be able to fix or undo. Focus on what you are able to provide, and push aside feelings of inadequacy.

Seek social support and get to know other people in your position. Local and online support groups can be an amazing resource for meeting other, often experienced, caregivers able to provide encouragement and advice. Maintaining social and emotional connections can significantly improve your ability to manage the stress associated with caregiving.

Be willing to learn. Organizations such as the Red Cross offer courses on caregiving and there are countless online resources designed to teach you more about the particular condition your loved one is facing. An educated approach to caregiving can benefit both you and the ones you care for.

Take care of yourself as you do your loved ones. It’s important not to put your own health and well being aside when caring for a person with a disAbility. Make sure you’re seeing your doctor as often as it is recommended and stay on top of any concerns or symptoms you may be experiencing. Make it a point to get a good night’s sleep as often as possible and consume a healthy, balanced diet.

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.

5 apps for people with disabilities

It’s no mystery that smartphones have completely changed the way we view our everyday activities. Whether we are communicating with loved ones across the country or snapping photos of our pets, our various devices are rarely ever more than an arm’s reach away. For people with disabilities, these devices have improved accessibility in areas that extend past communication methods. From emergency assistance access to applications that boost independence, here are a few of the most useful apps for people with disabilities:

1. Color Identifier uses your device’s camera to detect colors in order to assist those with visual impairments. The intuitive app will quickly identify the color, speak and display its unique name and provide the color’s HEX value.

2. HearYouNow allows people with limited hearing abilities to increase the volume of sounds around them. Using a pair of headphones, users can have presentations, TV shows or even just the sounds inside their home relayed to their smartphones in real-time.

3. Medication Reminder is an easy to use app that prompts users to take their medications as prescribed to them. Simply set the time you wake up, as well as the time you generally go to bed and how many doses you are required to take in a day, and the app will calculate your medication intervals and send you reminders.

4. Built in accessibility features such as enlarged text, voice-to-text and an on-screen control panel that eliminates the use of small, sometimes hard to operate buttons have given individuals with disabilities options on how to use their phones in the most comfortable ways.

5. Having an emergency information card directly on your smartphone can make a world of difference during trying times. The ICE Standard app lets you fill in important information about yourself that may be necessary in emergency situations. Details like allergies, emergency contacts and medical conditions may be added and pulled up during an event in which you may be unable to relay those facts.

With technology moving forward at a faster pace each day, the world of accessibility boosting applications continues to grow.

Essential iPhone Apps For People With Disabilities

Phone apps have revolutionized the way we go about our everyday lives. Need directions? Looking for great Mexican food? Want to know the weather? As they say in the Apple commercials, there’s an app for that. Developers have created over 500,000 apps for the iPhone alone, as well as countless others for Android and Blackberry devices. Below is a list of iPhone apps specifically designed for people with disabilities to help make their day-to-day lives easier.

Parking Mobility – Report disabled parking violations to your city in less than 2 minutes. When you see a vehicle parked illegally, simply launch the app, take 3 photos and submit. The city is notified and they ticket the vehicle. You can also share, find and suggest disabled parking locations anywhere in the world. Simply tap the map pin and you can quickly see that parking location’s details including number of spots, rear or side accessibility, cost etc.

A Special Phone – This app was produced specifically for people with disabilities in order to make calling friends, family and loved ones fast and easy. To make a call, simply open the app, type in the number on the magnified keypad and shake the phone or press call. For speed dialing, users can save up to 6 contacts, which can be reached through shaking the phone once for Contact 1, twice for Contact 2 etc. The phone states the contact’s name and the phone dials automatically. It also has the capability to recognize voice commands in different languages and dialects.

Help Me Now! GPS Phone Tracker – This app is great to have if you ever get lost or need help in an emergency. The GPS tracking device will send a message to your selected contacts telling them your location.

Physiotherapy Exercises – This free app is great for anyone living with a spinal cord injury who wants to stay physically fit. There are over 600 exercises available and the user can search the app based on a particular exercise or their level of injury/personal condition.

iAdvocate – This app helps parents share and develop specific learning strategies for children with learning disabilities. The parents can then work collaboratively with the child’s school and teachers to improve their overall education experience while making sure the child’s needs are met.

State Disability and Health Programs

State Disability and Health Programs
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) state-based disability and health programs inform policy and practice at the state level. These programs ensure that individuals with disabilities are included in ongoing state disease prevention, health promotion, and emergency response activities.

CDC supports 18 state-based programs to promote equity in health, prevent chronic disease, and increase the quality of life for people with disabilities. Each program customizes its activities to meet its state’s needs, which broadens expertise and information sharing among states.

The programs’ goals are to:

  • Enhance program infrastructure and capacity.
  • Improve state level surveillance and monitoring activities.
  • Increase awareness of health-related disability policy initiatives.
  • Increase health promotion opportunities for people with disabilities.
  • Improve access to health care services for people with disabilities.
  • Improve emergency preparedness for people with disabilities.
  • Effectively monitor and evaluate program activities.

The goals of the state disability and health programs align with those of Healthy People 2020 related to disability:

  • Removing barriers to participation in social, spiritual, recreational, community and civic activities.
  • Improving access to primary care, and health and wellness programs.
  • Identifying people with disabilities in data systems.
  • Increasing surveillance and health promotion programs.
  • Providing graduate-level courses in disability and health.

States funded by CDC for Disability and Health Programs:

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arkansas
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina


Alabama

Program activities include:

  • Promoting inclusion of persons with disabilities in all aspects of policy development, planning, and execution of state based public health programs.
  • Using Federally Qualified Healthcare Centers to assist with capacity assessment of ability to meet the needs of those with disabilities and determine barriers to inclusiveness.
  • Increasing health promotion opportunities for persons with disabilities through adaptation of existing public health programs, such as Scale Back Alabama, and increasing the number of children with disabilities who participate in mainstream physical education and after-school programs.

 

Alaska
Program activities include:

  • Developing accurate and timely outreach for Alaskans experiencing disability and their care providers.
  • Building the capacity of a cross-agency disability advisory council that reviews and evaluates program activities, assists with sustainability plans, and provides recommendations for policy change.
  • Providing technical assistance, training, and other support for existing community-wide initiatives designed to improve the health of Alaskans experiencing disability.

The Alaska Disability and Health Program is a collaboration between the State of Alaska’s Department of Health and Social Services, Division of Public Health, Section of Women’s, Children’s, and Family Health and the Governor’s Council on Disabilities and Special Education, and is housed in the Division of Public Health.

 

Arkansas
Program activities include:

  • Enhancing program infrastructure and capacity through the expansion and support of an Advisory Board and increasing the representation of individuals with disabilities on public health program committees.
  • Improving state-level surveillance and monitoring by conducting a statewide needs assessment to look at the health status and access of people with disabilities, developing documents comparing demographics and health disparities of Arkansas and the U.S.
  • Increasing awareness of health-related disability policy initiatives through Disability Policy Summits; educating and supporting advocates on proposed policy initiatives and disseminating information to policy makers.
  • Increase health promotion opportunities for people with disabilities by supporting training that maximizes the health of people with disabilities and implementing health awareness and education campaigns.
  • Improving access to health care for people with disabilities by looking at the accessibility of healthcare facilities, and educating healthcare professionals through continued education, as well as internship placement for students in 11 different health related disciplines.
  • Improving emergency preparedness among people with disabilities by reviewing state emergency plans for accessibility, involving people with disabilities in county level planning, providing training, and ensuring shelter access by identifying and surveying pre-designated shelter sites.

The Arkansas Disability and Health Program is housed in the Partners for Inclusive Communities at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

 

Delaware
Program activities include:

  • Creating systems-level change through active participation on statewide councils, committees, and workgroups that are addressing health and disability issues and implementation of goals and objectives of the Plan for Action, A Strategic Plan for Delaware to Promote Health and Prevent Secondary Health Conditions in Individuals with Disabilities.
  • Providing technical assistance for health care, fitness, and recreation providers and facilities to improve accessibility and inclusion of individuals with disabilities in health examinations, exercise programs, and recreation activities.
  • Providing education, awareness raising, and resources sharing through the program’s interactive website www.gohdwd.org and email newsletters to individuals with disabilities, family members, professionals, policymakers, and legislators.

The Delaware Disability and Health Program, Healthy Delawareans with Disabilitiesis housed in the Center for Disabilities Studies at the University of Delaware.

Florida
Program activities include:

  • Promoting breast cancer awareness and encouraging recommended screening among women 40 years of age or older who have a disability (the Right to Know Campaign) with partners such as the Florida Centers for Independent Living and the Florida Area Health Education Centers.
  • Increasing the capacity of health care providers in Florida to provide quality health care to people with disabilities by training medical students, and medical and allied health professionals.
  • Increasing the quantity and quality of disability and health-related data in Florida and providing the epidemiologic capacity to analyze these data.

The Florida Disability and Health Program is housed in the Office of Disability and Health at the University of Florida.

Illinois
Program activities include:

  • Monitoring the health status and health-related behaviors of people with disabilities, and sustaining and expanding the statewide infrastructure to prevent secondary conditions and promote the health of people with disabilities in Illinois.
  • Increasing evidence-based health promotion and prevention opportunities and resources available for people with disabilities to promote healthy lifestyles and reduce the risk of chronic disease and secondary conditions.
  • Assisting health professionals to gain the knowledge and tools necessary to work effectively with people with a disability to increase the availability and accessibility of health promotion and prevention services, interventions, and resources.

The Illinois Disability and Health Program is housed in the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Iowa
Program activities include:

  • Developing a statewide network of community providers that offer the Living Well with a Disability intervention program.
  • Identifying evidence-based strategies to increase awareness and education opportunities for health professionals.
  • Promoting accessible health care and support services to increase independence among people with disabilities.

The Iowa Disability and Health Program is housed in the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Massachusetts
Program activities include:

  • Designing and implementing training and technical assistance for health care providers and public health programs on the Americans with Disabilities Act to ensure inclusion of people with disabilities in state funded programs, services, and activities.
  • Providing the knowledge base needed to design programs related to healthy aging, health and disability, and secondary health conditions.
  • Working with state agencies and community partners to identify, implement, and evaluate evidence-based health promotion programs among older adults and people with disabilities (for example, the Stanford Chronic Disease Self-Management Program).

The Massachusetts Disability and Health Program is housed in the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

Michigan
Program activities include:

The Michigan Health Promotion for People with Disabilities Program is housed in the Michigan Department of Community Health.

Montana
Program activities include:

  • Recruiting, training, and supporting disability advisors to participate in Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services advisory groups and integrate disability and health into public health planning and evaluation processes.
  • Recruiting, training, and supporting state disability leaders to assess and improve the accessibility of community health and fitness programs.
  • Conducting Living Well with a Disability, an eight-week peer-facilitated, health promotion workshop with Montana’s four Centers for Independent Living.

The Montana Disability and Health Program is a collaboration between the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services and the University of Montana Rural Institute, a Center for Excellence in Disability Education, Research, and Service.

New Hampshire
Program activities include:

  • Training students, self-advocates, families and professionals through coursework, seminars, workshops and conferences.
  • Providing technical assistance to organizations and individuals to improve their capacity to include all citizens.
  • Serving as a resource for information to policymakers and government officials.
  • Disseminating information to families, consumers, community members and professionals via books, monographs, articles, videos, newsletters, the Internet and press coverage, including TV, radio, newspapers and consumer forums.
  • Conducting applied research to better understand and address the needs of individuals with disabilities.
  • Engaging in collaborative activities and joint projects with organizations that share common goals.

The Institute on Disability (IOD) is housed within New Hampshire’s University Center for Excellence on Disability (UCED).

New York
Program activities include:

  • Implementing the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) Center for Community Health Inclusion Policy, which requires all Center for Community Health programs to ensure accessibility and inclusion for people with disabilities throughout all funding opportunities. The proposed activities to implement inclusive local and statewide public health programs must also include an evaluation of the effect and reach of the policy.
  • Educating and training NYSDOH program managers, primary program implementation staff, NYSDOH contractors and partners about the health disparities experienced by people with disabilities and providing strategies, resources, and potential partners that will enable the integration of people with disabilities in their program areas.
  • Supporting an advisory body comprising individuals with disabilities, other state agencies, community-based organizations, and providers to inform program activities, as well as representing multiple external agency advisory committees to direct consideration of health care and health promotion needs of people with disabilities.

The New York Disability and Health Program is housed in the New York State Department of Health.

North Carolina
Program activities include:

  • Supporting the collection, analysis, and dissemination of data on people with an intellectual or developmental disability, or both, to better assess the health status of North Carolina adults.
  • Promoting accessible environments to support full community participation and engaging people with disabilities by developing accessibility checklists for health care practices and by providing training on adaptive and inclusive fitness and how to remove barriers to fitness facilities.
  • Increasing access to domestic violence and sexual assault services for people with disabilities with the implementation of adaptive equipment and enhanced disability awareness among domestic violence and sexual assault agencies.

The North Carolina Disability and Health Program is housed in the North Carolina Office on Disability and Health, and is a collaboration between the Division of Public Health of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

North Dakota
Program activities include:

  • Forming a consumer-driven advisory council that reviews the progress of the program activities, reviews data related to the health of people with disabilities, assists with development of a strategic plan, and provides recommendations for addressing issues related to the health and wellness of North Dakota citizens with disabilities.
  • Reducing health disparities in the areas of obesity, diabetes, and tobacco use among people with disabilities.
  • Ensuring people have accurate information on disability and health issues and promoting communication, planning, and implementation of health- and disability-related services across service systems.

The North Dakota Disability and Health Program, named the Disability Health Project, is a collaboration between the North Dakota Center for Persons with Disabilities at Minot State University; the Center for Rural Health at the University of North Dakota; and the North Dakota State Health Department, Division of Chronic Disease, Office for the Elimination of Health Disparities.

Ohio
Program activities include:

  • Improving state-level surveillance and monitoring activities with epidemiologic expertise from the Government Resource Center (GRC).
  • Advancing health-related disability policy initiatives in Ohio.
  • Promoting the health of people with disabilities through demonstration projects and train-the-trainer sessions.
  • Improving access to health care for people with disabilities through our partnership with the Ohio Association of Community Health Centers.
  • Revising Ohio Emergency Management Plans and committees to be inclusive of people with disabilities, increasing the number of PWD who have emergency plans, training first responders on the needs of PWD, and improving the accessibility of emergency shelters.

The Ohio Disability and Health Program is composed of the Ohio Department of Health, the Ohio State University Nisonger Center, the University of Cincinnati UCEDD, and the Ohio Colleges of Medicine Government Resource Center (GRC).

Oregon
Program activities include:

  • Conducting Healthy Lifestyles workshops for people with disabilities (in English and Spanish) to improve quality of life in partnership with the Centers for Independent Living and other disability organizations.
  • Implementing the Right to Know campaign and breast health education events, providing mammography technologist training, and assessing Oregon’s mammography clinics to improve breast cancer awareness and screening among women with disabilities.
  • Providing individualized emergency preparedness training for Oregonians with disabilities as well as working with key community and state partners to ensure that emergency preparedness planning and training efforts include topics relevant to the health and safety of people with disabilities.

The Oregon Disability and Health Program is housed in the Oregon Office on Disability and Health at Oregon Health and Science University.

Rhode Island
Program activities include:

  • Promoting the health and wellness for people with disabilities through inclusive self-management, evidence-based programs.
  • Monitoring, supporting and implementing effective healthcare transition from pediatric to adulthood within a positive youth development framework that promotes self-determination and an activated patient model.
  • Providing professional development for practitioners working with people with disabilities, including training, targeted technical assistance, and access to assistive technology.
  • Addressing special needs of people with disabilities in health promotion programs, health strategic planning, emergency preparedness, preventative health screening programs, and healthcare facility access.
  • Increasing access to quality of health-related data of people with disabilities in Rhode Island and using epidemiology and evaluation analysis to monitor the health disparities.

The Rhode Island Disability and Health Program is housed in the Office of Special Needs of the Health Disparities and Access to Care Team at the Rhode Island Department of Health.

South Carolina
Program activities include:

  • Increasing the knowledge of professionals and paraprofessionals in South Carolina to meet the preventive, primary, and secondary health needs of people with disabilities.
  • Conducting ongoing surveillance with Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) and administrative datasets as secondary sources via the South Carolina Disability Cube Project.
  • Working to achieve more livable communities for people with disabilities by facilitating access to primary care physician offices, increasing access to fitness and recreation facilities, and working with community planning agencies to improve outdoor space using principals of universal design.

The South Carolina Disability and Health Program is housed in the University of South Carolina School of Medicine.

30 Seconds: AAPD’s Campaign to Stop Bullying

This PSA from The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) shows students speaking out against bullying. Take 30 seconds, watch it, and share widely. School should be a safe place and current statistics show that over 85 percent of students with disabilities have experienced some form of bullying. If you are being bullied or see someone being bullied,let someone know. Together we can change the culture of oppression and fear that prevents us from speaking out when it happens to us, our classmates and even our students.

Bullying is more than kids being kids—it can make school a hostile place and prevent students from receiving the education that is their civil right.

This silent epidemic must be stopped. Now.

Disability Discrimination Facts

Disability Discrimination
Disability discrimination occurs when an employer or other entity covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended, or the Rehabilitation Act, as amended, treats a qualified individual with a disability who is an employee or applicant unfavorably because she has a disability.

Disability discrimination also occurs when a covered employer or other entity treats an applicant or employee less favorably because she has a history of a disability (such as cancer that is controlled or in remission) or because she is believed to have a physical or mental impairment that is not transitory (lasting or expected to last six months or less) and minor (even if she does not have such an impairment).

The law requires an employer to provide reasonable accommodation to an employee or job applicant with a disability, unless doing so would cause significant difficulty or expense for the employer (“undue hardship”).

The law also protects people from discrimination based on their relationship with a person with a disability (even if they do not themselves have a disability). For example, it is illegal to discriminate against an employee because her husband has a disability.

Note: Federal employees and applicants are covered by the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, instead of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The protections are mostly the same.

Definition Of Disability
Not everyone with a medical condition is protected by the law. In order to be protected, a person must be qualified for the job and have a disability as defined by the law.

A person can show that he or she has a disability in one of three ways:

  • A person may be disabled if he or she has a physical or mental condition that substantially limits a major life activity (such as walking, talking, seeing, hearing, or learning).
  • A person may be disabled if he or she has a history of a disability (such as cancer that is in remission).
  • A person may be disabled if he is believed to have a physical or mental impairment that is not transitory (lasting or expected to last six months or less) and minor (even if he does not have such an impairment).


Disability Discrimination & Work Situations
The law forbids discrimination when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, and any other term or condition of employment.

Disability Discrimination & Harassment
It is illegal to harass an applicant or employee because he has a disability, had a disability in the past, or is believed to have a physical or mental impairment that is not transitory (lasting or expected to last six months or less) and minor (even if he does not have such an impairment).

Harassment can include, for example, offensive remarks about a person’s disability. Although the law doesn’t prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that aren’t very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted).

The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client or customer.

Disability Discrimination & Reasonable Accommodation
The law requires an employer to provide reasonable accommodation to an employee or job applicant with a disability, unless doing so would cause significant difficulty or expense for the employer.

A reasonable accommodation is any change in the work environment (or in the way things are usually done) to help a person with a disability apply for a job, perform the duties of a job, or enjoy the benefits and privileges of employment.

Reasonable accommodation might include, for example, making the workplace accessible for wheelchair users or providing a reader or interpreter for someone who is blind or hearing impaired.

While the federal anti-discrimination laws don’t require an employer to accommodate an employee who must care for a disabled family member, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) may require an employer to take such steps. The Department of Labor enforces the FMLA. For more information, call: 1-866-487-9243.

Disability Discrimination & Reasonable Accommodation & Undue Hardship
An employer doesn’t have to provide an accommodation if doing so would cause undue hardship to the employer.

Undue hardship means that the accommodation would be too difficult or too expensive to provide, in light of the employer’s size, financial resources, and the needs of the business. An employer may not refuse to provide an accommodation just because it involves some cost. An employer does not have to provide the exact accommodation the employee or job applicant wants. If more than one accommodation works, the employer may choose which one to provide.

Disability & Medical Exams During Employment Application & Interview Stage
The law places strict limits on employers when it comes to asking job applicants to answer medical questions, take a medical exam, or identify a disability.

For example, an employer may not ask a job applicant to answer medical questions or take a medical exam before extending a job offer. An employer also may not ask job applicants if they have a disability (or about the nature of an obvious disability). An employer may ask job applicants whether they can perform the job and how they would perform the job, with or without a reasonable accommodation.

Disability & Medical Exams After A Job Offer For Employment
After a job is offered to an applicant, the law allows an employer to condition the job offer on the applicant answering certain medical questions or successfully passing a medical exam, but only if all new employees in the same type of job have to answer the questions or take the exam.

Disability & Medical Exams For Persons Who Have Started Working As Employees
Once a person is hired and has started work, an employer generally can only ask medical questions or require a medical exam if the employer needs medical documentation to support an employee’s request for an accommodation or if the employer believes that an employee is not able to perform a job successfully or safely because of a medical condition.

The law also requires that employers keep all medical records and information confidential and in separate medical files.

Top Tips For Helping A Student With A Disability Settle Into a University

Students-400.jpg
Waving a child off to university for the first time is never easy. But if they also happen to have a disability, either physical or mental, the practical aspects of letting go become even more complicated.

Where possible, encourage your child to take the lead in establishing what your role should be. Finding ways to communicate about what they hope to achieve from their time at university, and helping them to plan the first few steps is a useful way for everyone to get used to the transition.


Identifying needs

Sit down together and have an honest conversation about how you both feel that disability affects your child’s life. What sort of support do you normally offer? What happens if nobody is there to support them? What makes it more difficult for him or her to manage their condition? What coping strategies make it easier?

Draw up a brief outline of what a regular day or week looks like, taking into account bad days as well as the best. You can use this to identify key needs and health risks – a handy reference point during university visits and open days, or when applying for disability support packages (like Disabled Students Allowance and Social Services support).

This is also a useful exercise to repeat after your child’s first term or year at university: how is it different to what you both expected? Are there any additional obstacles that you might need to address?


Choosing a university

It’s always worth visiting potential universities to get a realistic feel for how it suits your student child. An off-campus site may cause challenges for physically impaired students if they have to travel all over town for lectures, or if there are lots of cobbled streets or hills.

A lot of older buildings may not be fully wheelchair accessible. If getting lost is an issue, it’s a good idea to map out regular routes together and try them out a few times before term begins.

It’s also worth thinking about the impact of living on campus, and how different types of accommodation may impact study and socialising. Is the university near a good medical facility, for instance? Some students will want to consider how close to home they are: nothing is less cool than having your mum pay an unexpected visit when all your mates are over, but having somebody near enough to make the journey might be useful in emergencies.

Remember, all universities have a legal obligation to make reasonable adjustments to a course or building to cater for a recognised medical need. Speak to university representatives to find out who will be looking out for your child. All universities should have a disability support team, so get in touch to discuss the help that they can offer.


Creating a network

Working together, make a list of the people your child is able to turn to for assistance and support. This may be parents, friends, family doctors, tutors and / or university disability support teams. Encourage your child to have discussions with the people who support them about the assistance they think they might need. Is there somebody who can make a check-in phone call once a week? Would it help to plan regular reviews or a quick visit every now and then?

Make sure expectations are clear, but reasonable – it’s important that everybody’s needs are being met, including your own. If your child has organisational difficulties, they might want to stick the list on a wall, or somewhere easy to find in an emergency.

Don’t forget that when they are over the age of 18, they may be entitled to support from social services. Contact your local council for more information.


Applying for extra support

Disabled Students Allowance (DSA) can offer helpful aids you may not have thought of: from adapted desks, to funding for taxis, to note takers. Information is available here.

DSA applications take a long time to be processed, and will need to be assessed by a representative before any funding or equipment is offered. It can also take months for this equipment to actually arrive, so make a note of deadlines and submit the applications as soon as you can.

These forms can be incredibly overwhelming: help to fill them out in as much detail as possible (as always, taking into account your child’s worst health days) may make the process less frustrating.


Being heard

Universities are huge, complex administrative bodies and it is easy to get lost within the system. If nobody speaks up when a student is facing challenges, even relatively small ones, it’s likely that they will be missed.

But part of the university experience is also about learning through making mistakes. Try not to panic if it seems that your child’s needs aren’t being met. Keep up the communication to make sure that these issues do not spiral out of control.

Being available during emergencies may be necessary, but for day to day issues, it will be a huge achievement every time the student in question is able to seek out the support they need themselves.

Pushing hard enough to ensure that all needs are being met can be frustrating and difficult, but nobody responds well to force. One of the hardest challenges for everyone involved with a disability can be finding the right tone to ask for what is necessary.Helping to find ways to communicate their own needs with confidence and positivity is probably the best gift you can offer at a time like this. Keep coming back to your initial plans and reassessing the situation. Your input and relationship will probably change along the way, but this is all just part of the process, and an entirely necessary part of becoming the parent of a grown-up human being.

Helping to find ways to communicate their own needs with confidence and positivity is probably the best gift you can offer at a time like this. Keep coming back to your initial plans and reassessing the situation. Your input and relationship will probably change along the way, but this is all just part of the process, and an entirely necessary part of becoming the parent of a grown-up human being.

Helping First Time Disabled Drivers with Mobility Equipment

Helping First Time Disabled Drivers with Mobility Equipment
First time disabled drivers with mobility equipment face unique milestones and considerations when preparing for the road. Parents and caregivers must seriously consider if they feel their child or loved one with a disability is adequately prepared for driver education. While that is a decision for each party to make individually, we offer advice for those who would like to begin preparing for the day their loved one takes the wheel.

Provide them with early mobility experience.
If your loved one is in a power wheelchair or has the ability to operate a bike with three wheels, helper handles or an arm operated bike, use these vehicles to practice safe crossing, learn about street signs and signaling and to strengthen spatial and visual skills necessary for safe motor vehicle operation.

Allow them to co-pilot your drives.
If your loved one is at the age of developing an interest in driving and directions, have them provide turn-by-turn directions to your destination. Developing navigation skills and a familiarity with the routes they might frequently take will provide comfort and confidence when they get behind the wheel for the first time. Additionally, have them call out speed limits, lights changing color and other road signs they must be conditioned to note while driving.

Seek out a driver rehabilitation evaluation.
Go ahead and set up an evaluation with your Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialist long before the “real” test. This assessment will offer useful insight into both their strengths and areas in need of improvement. This will also confirm if your loved one is a candidate for safe driving. If you have concerns with their vision, reflexes, ataxia, or any additional areas pertinent to driving, such as mobility equipment, they may be disqualified from getting their license.

According to a study commissioned by The National Disability Authority, twice as many people with disabilities, as opposed to those without, do not drive a car regularly. This doesn’t have to be the case! Driving with a disability is a matter of equipping your loved one with the right education, practice and equipment to operate the vehicle. Hand controls, steering aids, ramps, lifts and other adaptive equipment give people with disabilities the freedom to take on the road and gain independence.

Adaptive Driving Aids: Reduced Effort Modifications

Experienced users of adaptive driving aids, as well as those who have just been introduced to them, will appreciate the depth of experience and the number of options available to them here at VMi New England Mobility Center and Automotive Innovations, Inc.

Adaptive driving aids are as diverse as the people who use them, but they do fall into several distinct categories; basic driving aids, reduced effort modifications and advanced driving controls.

Reduced Effort Modifications

Reduced Effort Steering
Reduced effort modifications are used in conjunction with hand controls and other adaptations to reduce the physical strength required to perform the operations of braking and steering. Reduced effort braking and reduced effort steering are modification packages that make the steering wheel or brake pedal easier to turn or push. The level of assistance or “reduced-effort” is adjusted to the level prescribed by the driving rehabilitation specialist, based on the strength of the driver.

  • Drive-Master’s low effort and no effort braking modifications significantly reduces the required pressure needed to press down on a pedal to brake.
  • Drive-Master’s reduced effort steering modification reduces the amount of effort it takes to move a steering wheel. There is low effort to no effort available depending on the model of car and tire size.

Adaptive Driving Aids: Advanced Driving Controls

Experienced users of adaptive driving aids, as well as those who have just been introduced to them, will appreciate the depth of experience and the number of options available to them here at VMi New England Mobility Center and Automotive Innovations, Inc.

Adaptive driving aids are as diverse as the people who use them, but they do fall into several distinct categories; basic driving aids, reduced effort modifications and advanced driving controls.

advanced driving system

Advanced Driving Controls

Advanced driving controls, or “high-tech driving systems” have advanced tremendously over the years, thus creating options for drivers with higher levels of disability. Advanced driving controls are truly a custom solution. As a result, the key components of these systems are combined, fitted and installed based on an extremely thorough process of evaluation, prescription and fine-tuning.

Hand Controls
Hand Controls in the advanced driving aid category are of course more advanced and are typically for individuals with very limited mobility and strength for operating a vehicle. A slight touch of various adaptive devices allow the car to accelerate and brake with ease.

  • Electric Gas and Brakes are operated from an electric servo in the form of a joystick or lever input device. Individuals can then use their hands to control their speed and to brake.
  • Pneumatic Gas and Brakes are operated from an air pressure system and controlled by an easy joystick, foot pedal or other device.

Steering Controls

  • Horizontal Steering accommodates a limited range of motion when the driver cannot use a conventional steering wheel.
  • Reduced and Zero Effort steering is for users who do not have adequate strength to operate the vehicle with factory resistance levels.
  • Electric steering allows the steering control to be located almost anywhere to assist the operator. They can be operated in the forms of miniature steering wheels or joysticks.

Electronic Gear Selection
Electronic Gear Selection allows the operator to push a button for a gear selection.

Remote Accessory Controls

  • Voice Scan uses one to two targets or buttons to operate a multitude of functions within the vehicle while utilizing a verbal audible menu.
  • Single Touch allows vehicle functions to be moved to a different location in order to fit the needs of the disabled driver.

Adaptive Driving Aids: Basic Driving Aids

Experienced users of adaptive driving aids, as well as those who have just been introduced to them, will appreciate the depth of experience and the number of options available to them here at VMi New England Mobility Center and Automotive Innovations, Inc.

Adaptive driving aids are as diverse as the people who use them, but they do fall into several distinct categories; basic driving aids, reduced effort modifications and advanced driving controls.

Basic Driving Aids

2013 Toyota Tacoma Hand Controls installed at VMi New England Mobility Center Automotive Innovations, Inc.
Basic driving aids are adaptations which are engineered to allow you to utilize the more “able” aspects of your body in order to operate your vehicle. Hand controls, left foot gas pedals and pedal extensions are among the many options that fall into this category.

Hand Controls
Hand Controls allow you to use the upper part of your body to do what might be difficult for the lower parts – such as braking and accelerating. A variety of hand control options are available to fit your needs and preferences.

  • A Push/Pull is the basic of hand controls allowing you to push forward to brake and pull back to accelerate.
  • A Push Right Angle is a hand control where you push forward to brake and pull down towards your lap to accelerate.
  • A Push/Twist is a hand control where you push forward to brake and twist similar to a motorcycle grip to accelerate.

Steering Controls
Steering Controls are adaptations added to the steering wheel of a vehicle. Steering controls make steering for those with limited grip or strength an easier task.

  • A Spinner Knob is a small knob that presses firmly in the palm of your hand. A spinner knob gives the operator a steady grip and the ability to steer with one hand.
  • A Palm Grip is made only by MPD and allows your hand to comfortably sit in a lightweight aluminum wrap with sheepskin liner. The Palm Grip allows firm steering control for those who have little or no gripping ability. The Palm Grip is ideal for those with arthritis.
  • A Tri-Pin is a steering grip that comfortably rests your hand in-between three pins. The pins are adjustable and can be used to accelerate, brake or be used on the steering wheel instead of a spinner knob. If need be, they can also be custom fitted to operate the turn signal, horn and dimmer.

Extension Controls
Extension Controls are driving aids that give users the extra inch they need to be comfortable in their accessible vehicle. Whether they are shorter than average or have limited strength in their arms these adaptations can make all the difference in driving.

  • Pedal Extensions are for vehicle operators who can not reach the gas or brake pedal. Pedal extensions give the driver the inches they need to sit and drive comfortably at a safe distance from the airbags.
  • Turn Signal Extensions consist of a simple rod to the right side of the steering wheel that can be adjusted appropriately to meet the needs of the driver.
  • Key Extensions are available for those who have trouble with the turning motion of starting their vehicle. The additional leverage is adjustable to fit the needs of the operator.
  • Steering Column Extensions allow up to six inches between the operator and the steering column.

Foot Controls
Foot Controls are for individuals who have zero to limited feeling in their feet. Foot controls are also valuable to those who may have a prosthetic limb and need to use their left foot to drive.

  • Left Foot Gas Pedals allow drivers to accelerate using their left foot. A pedal is attached to the accelerator that is located on the left side of the brake. A guard is then placed over the original accelerator so that the right foot does not inadvertently rest on the factory installed pedal.
  • An Accelerator & Brake Guard is a shield that goes over the accelerator, brake or both when the operator is using hand controls to operate the vehicle. An accelerator and brake guard is a safety feature that prevents operators from accidentally resting their foot on the brake or accelerator.

Winter-Maintenance Tips for Your Wheelchair Van

Winter Driving
Maintain Your Mobility Equipment

We recommend keeping the bottom door track of your handicapped van clear of any debris by vacuuming out the track every 2 or 3 weeks. Debris in the bottom track will cause the door motor to work harder and even weaken or burn out prematurely. Such problems will only be more of an inconvenience in cold weather.

Check Your Brakes
Make sure your brakes are in good working condition. You should never postpone having brake work done because you never know when you might have to drive on snowy or icy roads.

Check Your Lights
Headlights are essential in snowy weather; not only do they help you see clearly, but they also help others see you. So you make sure your lights are clean and that all bulbs and fuses are working properly.

Remember Your Fluids
We advise having all fluids (including brake fluid, antifreeze, washer fluid, transmission fluid, power-steering fluid, etc.) checked and “topped off.” In addition, we also recommend that you consider keeping a half tank of gas in your accessible vehicle at all times–you don’t want to run out of gas in an emergency.

Don’t Forget Your Battery
Having your battery checked is especially crucial for handicapped accessible vans. The cold weather is strenuous on any battery but even more so on an accessible van’s battery. An accessible van has to power ramps, lifts, and doors, so it uses more battery power than other minivans. A common problem we see at our Mobility Center is customers who do not drive their accessible van enough to keep the battery charged and healthy. You can keep the battery charged by driving your vehicle more than 3 hours a week or by using a battery charger. Under normal conditions, batteries will typically last for 3½ years, so if your battery is older than that, we recommend that you make sure that it’s in good condition or think about replacing it.

Good Tire Maintenance Is Crucial
Good tires might be one of the most essential driving tools in winter weather. Worn, bald, badly aligned, or badly balanced tires can cause accidents in any type of slippery weather. You’ll need to test the air pressure and tread on your tires and have your tires rotated so that the better ones are in the front for more traction and control. If you need new tires soon, don’t wait, get them now! If you have snow tires and live in areas with heavy and frequent snowfall, don’t hesitate to use them.

Don’t Forget Your Windshield
Taking care of the windshield on your wheelchair van entails more than having good wipers. Windshields on minivans and full-sized vans are large, so having good wipers and properly functioning rear and front defrosters are musts. Also, small dings in a windshield can become large cracks when it’s cold. Cracks are a result of the stress of having freezing temperatures on the outside of the windshield and the warm heater on the interior of the windshield. If this occurs, fix the ding and avoid the risk of replacing a costly van-sized windshield!

Snow Equipment
If you ever get stuck or break down in snow or other inclement winter weather, having the appropriate equipment to get yourself out of your vehicle is important. We recommend keeping a shovel, sidewalk salt, snow scraper/brush, jumper cables, spare tire, jack, and flares in your vehicle during the winter months. Also, if you live in an area with frequent and/or heavy snowfall, keep tire chains in your vehicle for extra traction.

Emergency Kit
Another recommendation is keeping a snow emergency kit in your car. Your emergency kit should include a cell phone, a cell-phone car charger, a blanket, a flashlight with good batteries, hand warmers, snacks, and water. Your kit should be able to keep you relatively comfortable while waiting in your vehicle for assistance to arrive. Please remember, if you’re waiting in your vehicle for assistance, make sure your exhaust pipe is clear of any snow or ice so carbon monoxide won’t enter the vehicle.

Lastly, we always recommend that, if you can, you stay in when the road conditions are bad. However, if you need to venture out, here are some precautions to remember when driving in bad weather:

Clear All Snow Off Your Vehicle
Make sure that you clear all of the snow and ice off of your vehicle before you go anywhere. Ice and snow clumps that aren’t cleared off can be very dangerous because they can suddenly shift and obstruct your view or fly off your vehicle into another driver’s view. Allow yourself extra time before venturing out to take the steps needed to clear all of the snow off your accessible vehicle—even if it includes asking a friend or neighbor for assistance.

Slow Down
Reducing your speed by 50% allows more control over your vehicle in the event that you begin to skid or hydroplane. However, slowing down too much or stopping on heavy snow-filled roads can cause a vehicle’s tires to spin and get stuck in the snow. While driving in snow, you should keep some momentum so that your tires are continuously moving and you don’t lose traction.

Recovering From a Skid
If you’re driving in inclement weather and your vehicle starts to skid, the best thing to do is to steer in the direction you want the front of the vehicle to go—and not hit your brakes. Your normal reaction might be to brake, but that can make the wheels lock up, making steering difficult. Driving in the snow can be dangerous, so if you aren’t comfortable, try to avoid the roads in severe weather.

Rust Prevention
Prevention is better than a cure. There are a number of products that can offer prevention against rust. Products are available either as oils, waxes, fluids and coatings.  The range is vast, but our rust prevention processes, product, plan and application has been found to be most effective. Our rust proofing is ever evolving and has been for over the past 25 years.

  • Our rust proofing formula does more than just cover the metal required, we apply it as a high-pressured spray, ensuring protection to your handicap accessible vehicle’s most critical areas by penetrating, displacing existing moisture and protecting the many vulnerable crevices of your automobile.

 

As seen in the picture below this van has heavy rust and metal fatigue due to a lack of maintenance.
IMG_0697Once the rust is this bad there’s not much we can do other than replace the van.
So call us or come in today to rust proof your van before it’s too late.

How Car Insurance Fees Can Be Lowered For Handicapped Drivers

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One common misconception about car insurance is that handicapped drivers pay more for coverage than non-handicapped drivers. This simply is not true. Federal law prevents car insurance companies from discriminating against handicapped drivers due to their disabilities. Many states have additional laws on the books, and even if car insurance companies were allowed to discriminate, they would likely discriminate in favor of handicapped drivers; statistically speaking, they are more careful than non-handicapped drivers and much less likely to be involved in accidents. Nevertheless, handicapped drivers need the lowest possible rates on car insurance just as much as all other drivers, and it is worthwhile to know a few ways that they can cut their car insurance fees.

Handicapped drivers should first look for safety discounts because this is one of the fastest ways to change premium rates without adjusting the coverage levels. Many car insurance companies offer safety discounts for any drivers who have vehicles with special safety features like side airbags and anti-lock brakes. You can find out whether your car insurance company offers these discounts by studying your policy contract or simply by calling your car insurance agent and asking about available options. If your car is already outfitted with safety features, you are wasting money by not asking for discounts, and if your car is not outfitted, you might look into having some low-cost safety measures installed to keep your car insurance fees low. Ask whether modifications that you have made to a car for your handicap qualify for discounts; even something like oversized mirrors can often have a positive effect on premiums. Other discounts will apply to handicapped drivers who take road safety courses, students, and even drivers who have simply kept their insurance coverage up for a specified length of time. The key is to ask-you will often be surprised at how quickly your car insurance fees will drop.

Online car insurance websites can also help handicapped drivers to find lower rates. Reputable websites will not ask about a driver’s handicap or even inquire as to the handicap status of the driver. Instead, car insurance websites will ask questions about your vehicle and driving record to determine how much of an insurance risk that you pose, and this information will be submitted to car insurance companies in order to return a few quotes. These websites make it easy to look at your insurance options, which in turn, can help a driver to find a better policy than what he or she currently has. Always take the time to compare car insurance quotes. Handicapped drivers and all other drivers can benefit from this, as it is the best possible way to keep rates down.

Amputee Veteran embarks on cross-country bike trip from Maine

Rob Jones Journey -  Marine Veteran Cross Country Bike Trip

More than 50,000 U.S. soldiers, sailors and Marines have been injured in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. Nearly 2,000 of them are now amputees. Marine veteran Rob Jones says his cross country bike trip is for them.

From a distance, the 28 year old looks like any other cyclist enjoying the last of autumn’s splendor in the Camden foot hills in Maine. It’s only up close that you realize this is no ordinary bike trip – since Jones’ legs are man made.

“I’m a combat engineer, so my job when there are IED’s is to find them. I found it with my foot,” said Jones. He lost both legs above the knee in Afghanistan, but not his determination.

He’s riding across the country, 5,400 miles in all, from Bar Harbor, Maine to San Francisco. Calif. He has an entourage of one; his 17-year-old brother Steve Miller.

They will spend around 6 months sleeping on cots in the back of a box truck, eating camping food along the way. They log around 30 miles a day.

Jones can’t stand on his bike to power up the hills because he has no knee joints. Because he has no knees, he can’t use his quads. He powers the bike with his hips and hip. But this Marine says he’s never shied away from a challenge. “The harder you push yourself, the more you’re gonna grow as a person. That’s what life is about for me,”.

Jones powerful message is painfully clear to his kid brother who watches every move he makes from behind the wheel of the support truck. “If someone can do an activity that requires legs, and do it without legs, then you can do anything,” said Miller.

Jones will donate 100 percent of any donations to three charities: The Coalition to Salute Americas Heroes, The Marine Semper Fi Fund and Ride 2 Recovery. He’s hoping to raise more than $1 million.


To follow Jones’ journey across America click here
Rob Jones cross-country bike trip journey


Donate to The Coalition To Salute America's Heroes
To make a donationDontae to The Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund
click here
Donate to Ride2Recovory

Massachusetts Mobility Resources

Massachusetts Office on Disability (MOD)
Description:
The Massachusetts Office on Disability (MOD) is the state advocacy agency for people with disabilities. MOD’s goal is to make sure that people with disabilities have the legal rights, opportunities, support services, and accommodations they need to take part in all aspects of life in Massachusetts. MOD helps people of all ages.

One of MOD’s main duties is to make sure that the state government, the local governments, and private organizations comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. MOD informs residents about their rights under the law, investigates complaints, and works to correct any violations. MOD services are free.

Services: The Massachusetts Office of Disability has three main programs:

  • The Government Services Program provides technical assistance and advice to state and local governments on all disability-related issues. MOD makes sure that government regulations and policies meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. MOD offers guidance to public service agencies and makes public policy recommendations on behalf of residents with disabilities.
  • The Client Services Program helps individuals who need help with disability-related problems. MOD operates an information and referral system to help residents find the services they need and learn about their legal rights. MOD also investigates complaints and helps correct civil rights violations. MOD’s Client Assistance Program (CAP) helps residents who are having problems with federally funded vocational rehabilitation and independent living programs.
  • The Community Services Program helps communities become more responsive to the needs of residents with disabilities. MOD trains individuals and community organizations to advocate for the rights of the disabled. MOD offers technical assistance and information about accessibility laws. The goal is to improve access to public and private places, programs, and services for people with all types of disabilities.

Contact Information:
Massachusetts Office on Disability
One Ashburton Place, Room 1305
Boston, MA 02108
Telephone:617-727-7440
Toll-free: Voice/TTY: 800-322-2020
Fax: 617-727-0965
Web site: Massachusetts Office on Disability (MOD)

Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC)
Description:
The Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC) helps people with disabilities find employment and live independently. The MRC serves Massachusetts residents age 18 and older. The MRC helps people with all types of disabilities except blindness. Legally blind residents can get services from the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind.

Services:

  • The MRC is the state agency in Massachusetts responsible for Vocational Rehabilitation (VR), Community Services (CS), and Disability Determination Services (DDS). The MRC also assists with public benefit programs, housing, transportation, and consumer issues. Some MRC programs and services have specific eligibility requirements. Most are free.
  • The Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Program helps people with disabilities find work or go back to work. The VR program works with various organizations in the community to help create jobs for Massachusetts residents with disabilities.
  • The Office of Community Services (CS) offers a variety of services to help people with disabilities live independently in their communities:
  1. The Brain Injury and Statewide Specialized Community Services (BISSCS) program helps Massachusetts residents who have externally caused traumatic brain injuries.
  2. Protective Services tries to prevent the physical, emotional, or sexual abuse of people with disabilities by their caregivers.
  3. Independent Living Centers provide advocacy, personal care management, and independent living skills training.
  4. The T22 (Turning 22) Independent Living Support Program helps young people with physical mobility disabilities who want to live independently in their communities.
  5. The Home Care Assistance Program for disabled adults under age 60 provides help with homemaking tasks (see Home Care Assistance Program).
  6. Other in-home and community living support services are also available.
  7. The Assistive Technology (AT) Program buys and installs assistive devices and provides training and follow-up for users.
  • Disability Determination Services (DDS), funded by the Social Security Administration (SSA), determines medical eligibility for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. Disability examiners use medical and vocational information to make their decisions.

MassMATCH
MassMATCH is a statewide program to help Massachusetts residents with disabilities find, pay for, and use assistive technology (AT) that can make a difference in their lives. The MassMatch web site offers information and advice about:

  • assistive technology (AT) products
  • AT demonstration centers
  • AT funding sources (insurance, loans, government assistance, private charities)
  • where to buy, borrow, swap, and sell AT equipment

MassMATCH (Maximize Assistive Technology in Consumers’ Hands) is a partnership between the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission, other state human services agencies, and community-based organizations.

Contact Information:
Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission
Fort Point Place, Suite 600
27 Wormwood Street
Boston, MA 02210-1616
Telephone: Voice/TTY: 617-204-3600
Toll-free: Voice/TTY: 1-800-245-6543
Web site: MassMATCH

Massachusetts Commission for the Blind (MCB)
Description
:
The Massachusetts Commission for the Blind (MCB) provides rehabilitation and social services to legally blind Massachusetts residents of all ages. These services help people who are legally blind live independently as active members of their communities. The MCB contacts all legally blind people in the state to offer support services.

Eye care providers in Massachusetts are required by law to report all cases of legal blindness to the MCB. The MCB keeps a confidential registry of all legally blind people in the state. The Commission issues Certificates of Legal Blindness to people on its register. These certificates allow legally blind residents to get exemptions and deductions on income tax, property tax, and auto excise tax. The Commission also issues an identification card, similar to a driver’s license, for personal identification and proof of legal blindness.

Services: The Massachusetts Commission for the Blind provides the following services:

  • Vocational Rehabilitation (VR), including diagnostic studies, counseling and guidance, individual plans for employment (IPE), restorative and training services, rehabilitation and mobility instruction, assistive technology, adaptive housing, job placement, and post-employment services
  • Assistive technology
  • Independent living social services, including homemaking assistance, assistive devices, mobility instruction, and peer support groups
  • Specialized services for blind seniors (BRIDGE program)
  • Specialized services for blind children, including referrals for early intervention, public benefits, respite care, and socialization and recreation programs
  • Specialized services for blind/deaf individuals and others with multiple disabilities
  • Rehabilitation instruction, including Braille and typing, use of low-vision devices, labeling and record keeping, food preparation, home safety, and self-care techniques
  • Orientation and mobility instruction, including guide dogs
  • MassHealth services for financially eligible people who are legally blind, including long-term care services, hospital services, personal care attendants, private duty nursing, and transportation services
  • Consumer assistance and advocacy for issues related to blindness such as housing and job discrimination, guide dog issues, or transportation problems

Most services are offered free of charge to all registered legally blind Massachusetts residents. Some services have additional eligibility requirements.

Contact Information:
Massachusetts Commission for the Blind
48 Boylston Street
Boston, MA 02111
Toll-free Voice: 800-392-6450
Toll-free TDD: 800-392-6556
Fax: 617-626-7685
Web site: Massachusetts Commission for the Blind (MCB)
Vocational Rehabilitation Client Services Manual
Technology for the Blind
Laws and Regulations
Locations of MCB offices

Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (MCDHH)
Description:
The Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (MCDHH) is the state government agency that works on behalf of Massachusetts residents who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. The MCDHH serves as an advocate to make sure that deaf and hard-of-hearing residents have the same access to information, services, education, and other opportunities as the hearing population.

Services: Some of the services that the MCDHH provides are:

  • Communication access, training, and technology services
  • Case management services, including specialized services for children
  • Interpreter and CART translation services
    Note: CART (Communication Access Realtime Translation) service translates spoken words into a visual print display that can be read on a computer monitor or other display device.
  • Independent Living Programs, including peer mentoring, assistive technology, consumer education, self-advocacy, and other independent living skills

Contact Information:
Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (MCDHH)
Executive Office of Health and Human Services
600 Washington Street
Boston, MA 02111
Telephone: 617-740-1600 / TTY: 617-740-1700
Toll-free: Voice: 1-800-882-1155 / TTY: 1-800-530-7570
Fax: 617-740-1880
Web site: Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (MCDHH)
The Savvy Consumer’s Guide to Hearing Loss
MCDHH Resource Directory
Regional Offices of the MCDHH
Interpreter and CART Services
Independent Living Services

Massachusetts Department of Mental Health (DMH)
Description:
The Massachusetts Department of Mental Health is the state agency that oversees treatment programs, support services, regulations, and public policy for Massachusetts residents with mental illness. The DMH supports a community-based system of care.

The Department of Mental Health serves adults with long-term or serious mental illness, and children and adolescents with serious emotional disturbances. For adults, the mental disorder must be persistent and must interfere with the ability to carry out daily life activities. For children, the disorder must limit the child’s ability to function in family, school, or community activities.

Residents must file an application and get DMH approval before they can get services. Applications are available on the DMH web site at DMH Service Application Forms and Appeal Guidelines. Applicants can get short-term services while waiting for DMH approval for continuing care.

Services:
The DMH provides continuing care services to Massachusetts residents who cannot get needed services from other agencies or programs. DMH services include:

  •  continuing care inpatient facilities
  • residential treatment centers
  • in-home treatment
  • outpatient services
  • skills training
  • supported employment
  • case management

Contact Information:
Massachusetts Department of Mental Health (DMH)
Central Office
25 Staniford Street
Boston, MA 02114
Telephone: 617-626-8000
TTY: 617-727-9842
E-mail: DMH Email
Web site: Massachusetts Department of Mental Health
DMH Local Offices: DMH Offices

Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services (DDS)
Description
:
The Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services (DDS) is the state agency that provides support services to Massachusetts residents with intellectual disabilities. The DDS works with many provider agencies throughout the state to offer services to adults and children and their caregivers. Individuals with intellectual disabilities and their families play an active role in making decisions about their lives and in choosing the support services they want and need.

The DDS has an application for services that must be completed before services can be approved. The application is available on the DDS web site: Application for DDS Eligibility

Services: The DDS offers a wide range of support services for adults, including:

  • Service coordination
  • Housing options
  • Employment skills training and transportation to work
  • Non-work related skills training
  • Family support services, including respite care
  • Life skills training and support (food shopping, cooking, etc.)

DDS’s services for children include:

  • Service coordination
  • Family support services, including respite care
  • Partnership program for families of children with significant health care needs
  • Autism support centers
  • After-school and summer camp programs

Contact Information:
Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services
Central Office
500 Harrison Avenue
Boston, MA 02118
Telephone: Voice: 617-727-5608
TTY: 617-624-7783
Fax: 617-624-7577
Web site: Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services (DDS)
Local DDS offices: DDS Area Office Locator

Disability Law Center (DLC)
Description:
The Disability Law Center (DLC) is a private non-profit law firm that gives free legal assistance to Massachusetts residents with disabilities who have been discriminated against because of their disability.

The Disability Law Center helps people with all types of disabilities, including physical, psychiatric, sensory, and cognitive. The DLC provides legal help with problems such as discrimination, abuse or neglect, or denial of services, when they are related to a person’s disability.

Services:
Services include information and referral, technical assistance, legal representation for individuals and groups, and advocacy. The Disability Law Center helps with disability-related legal problems in these areas:

  • Access to community services
  • Special education
  • Health care
  • Disability benefits
  • Rights and conditions in facilities

The DLC does not have the resources to help everyone who has a disability-related legal problem. The DLC sets priorities each year based on the needs of the community. See DLC Priorities. The DLC chooses cases that will have the most impact on the lives of people with disabilities.

Contact Information:
Disability Law Center (DLC)
11 Beacon Street, Suite 925
Boston, MA 02108
Voice telephone: 617-723-8455 / 800-872-9992
TTY: 617-227-9464 / 800-381-0577
Web site: Disability Law Center

DisabilityInfo.org
Description:
The DisabilityInfo.org web site helps people with disabilities, their families, and service providers find disability-related resources in Massachusetts. It has information on a wide variety of programs, agencies, and services for Massachusetts residents with disabilities.

The site is maintained by New England INDEX, a nonprofit technology group. New England INDEX collects information from over 100 members of the Massachusetts Network of Information Providers for People with Disabilities (MNIP) and puts the information on one web site for easy access.

Services:
On the DisabilityInfo.org web site, you can find:

  • disability programs, services, and agencies in Massachusetts
  • disability consultants, including advocates, educators, therapists, counselors, and other specialists
  • physicians and dentists with experience working with people with disabilities
  • local and regional offices for human service agencie
  • local disability agencies that you can call for help
  • fact sheets about many different types of disabilities
  • disability-related laws and regulations
  • disability news
  • information about assistive technology
  • other resources for people with disabilities

Contact Information:
Web site: DisabilityInfo.org
Database search
Get help from a local agency
Fact sheet library
Contact us
New England INDEX
200 Trapelo Road
Waltham, MA 02452-6319
Telephone: 781-642-0248
Toll-free: Voice: 800-642-0249
Toll-free: TTY: 800-764-0200
E-mail: info@DisabilityInfo.org

Mobility Resources For Massachusetts Residents

How do I get a disabled parking placard?
If you are legally blind or cannot walk more than 200 feet without rest or assistance, you can get a disabled parking placard from the Registry of Motor Vehicles. Your doctor or other medical professional must certify your medical condition. You can get a temporary placard or a permanent placard depending on how long your condition will last. The placard is free.

You can get an application for a disabled parking placard at any RMV Branch Office or from the RMV web site: Medical Affairs Forms. You should complete and sign the first page of the application, then have your health care provider complete and sign the second page. Mail or bring the completed application to the RMV.

  • If you mail your application, allow 30 days for the Medical Affairs office to process it. Send your application to:
    Medical Affairs/ RMV
    P.O. Box 55889
    Boston, MA 02205
  • If you bring your application to the office, Medical Affairs will process it the same day. The walk-in address is:
    Medical Affairs/ RMV Office
    25 Newport Ave EXT
    Quincy MA

You are allowed to use the placard only when you are in the vehicle, or when you are being dropped off or picked up. For more information, see Disabled Parking FAQs on the RMV web site.

If you lose your placard, you can apply for a duplicate. For instructions, see Applying for a Duplicate Placard on the RMV web site.

How do I find adaptive driver’s education classes?
If you need specialized driver’s education because of your disability, you can get adaptive driving lessons at one of the schools listed on the Registry of Motor Vehicles web site at Specialized Driver’s Education Programs (at the bottom of the page). Programs are customized to meet your needs, and can be adapted for a wide range of physical, cognitive, and emotional disabilities. Vehicles with hand controls and other specialized equipment are available.

Adaptive driving programs include:

How do I get a health care proxy?
A health care proxy is a simple legal document that allows you to choose someone to make medical decisions for you, if, for any reason, you are unable to make these decisions yourself.

You can find information about health care proxies on our Advance Care Planning page. Please follow this link: How do I get a health care proxy?

How do I make a living will?
A living will is a document in which you describe the type of medical treatment you want if you become terminally ill or permanently unconscious. It allows you to make end-of-life decisions while you are physically and mentally competent to do so.

You can find information about living wills on our Advance Care Planning page. Please follow this link: How do I make a living will?

How do I get a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order?
You have the right to decide if you want medical workers to use CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) to try to save your life if your heart stops or if you stop breathing. This is a decision you should make with your doctor, family members, and other people you trust. If you do not want CPR to be used, you must get a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order from your doctor.

You can find information about DNRs on our Advance Care Planning page. Please follow this link: How do I get a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order?

How do I give someone permission to see my medical records?
A federal law known as HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) protects the privacy of your medical information. HIPAA limits the ways doctors, pharmacies, other health care providers, health insurance companies, nursing homes, and Medicaid/Medicare can share your personal health information.

You can find out how to give health care providers permission to share your medical information on our Advance Care Planning page. Please follow this link: How do I give someone permission to see my medical records?

How do I get a power of attorney?
A power of attorney is a legal document in which you give another person (your “agent”) the right to handle financial and legal matters for you.

You can find information about naming a power of attorney on our Advance Care Planning page. Please follow this link:How do I get a power of attorney?

How do I get a Massachusetts ID card?
If you do not have a driver’s license and you are a resident of Massachusetts, you can get a Massachusetts ID card to use as official identification and proof of age. You can get an ID card at any full-service Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) office.

You can find information about Massachusetts ID cards in our “How Do I …? section for seniors. Please follow this link:How do I get a Massachusetts ID card?

How do I get a service animal?
A service animal is a dog or other animal that has been specially trained to provide assistance to a person with a disability. A service animal performs tasks that the person with the disability cannot do independently. For example, service animals can be trained to help people who are blind or deaf, are mobility impaired, have diabetes or seizure disorders, are autistic, or have other physical or mental disabilities.

For a list of organizations that provide service dogs, see:

Eligibility requirements and costs vary from one organization to another. Many organizations provide service animals for free, but ask you to pay your own expenses while attending training sessions. An interview is usually required before you are accepted into a program.

Massachusetts Disability Grants Handicap Funding MA
People with disabilities in Massachusetts can solve their lack of funding for handicap needs, such as a wheelchair van, through disability grants, financing programs, loans, and more. Browse the largest resource for Massachusetts disability grants to help pay for new wheelchair vans or handicap accessible van conversions. AMS Vans will deliver handicap vans to Massachusetts or nationwide.

Disability Grants in Massachusetts
The handicap funding for the disabled listed below may or may not assist in financing a handicap van. Check with the local Massachusetts grant provider for a complete list of requirements.

The Massachusetts Assistive Technology Loan Program: The Massachusetts ATLP provides people with disabilities access to low-interest cash loans to purchase handicap vans and vehicle modifications to accommodate a wheelchair.

How to Apply for Massachusetts Grants or Mobility Funding
Massachusetts residents seeking assistance with the purchase of handicap vans for sale should contact the mobility funding programs listed above about disability grants offered. We are delighted to accept all funding assistance programs to ensure your handicap needs are met. If we missed a grant program you’re familiar with, please let us know and we will add it to our list of mobility funding sources in Massachusetts.

Pass on the Ribbon & Help Spread Rett Syndrome Awareness

Rett Syndrome Awareness Month

Rett syndrome is a rare, severe, “girls only” form of autism. It’s usually discovered in the first two years of life, and a child’s diagnosis with Rett syndrome can feel overwhelming. Although there’s no cure, early identification and treatment may help girls and families who are affected by Rett syndrome.

Who Gets Rett Syndrome?
Rett syndrome is an autism spectrum disorder that affects girls almost exclusively. It’s rare — only about one in 10,000 to 15,000 girls will develop the condition.

In most cases of Rett syndrome, a child develops normally in early life. Between 6 and 18 months of age, though, changes in the normal patterns of mental and social development begin.


What Are the Symptoms of Rett Syndrome?
Although it’s not always detected, a slowing of head growth is one of the first events in Rett syndrome. Loss of muscle tone is also an initial symptom. Soon, the child loses any purposeful use of her hands. Instead, she habitually wrings or rubs her hands together.

Around 1 to 4 years of age, social and language skills deteriorate in a girl with Rett syndrome. She stops talking and develops extreme social anxiety and withdrawal or disinterest in other people.

Rett syndrome also causes problems with muscles and coordination. Walking becomes awkward as girls develop a jerky, stiff-legged gait. A girl with Rett syndrome may also have uncoordinated breathing and seizures.


What Causes Rett Syndrome?
Most children with Rett syndrome have a mutation in a particular gene on the X chromosome. Exactly what this gene does, or how its mutation leads to Rett syndrome, isn’t clear. It’s believed that the single gene may influence many other genes involved in development.

Although Rett syndrome seems to be genetic, the faulty gene is almost never inherited from the parents. Rather, it’s a chance mutation that happens in the girl’s own DNA. No Rett syndrome risk factors have been identified, other than being female. There is no known method for preventing Rett syndrome.

When boys develop the Rett syndrome mutation, they die shortly after birth. Because boys have only one X chromosome (instead of the two girls have), the disease is more serious, and quickly fatal.


How Is Rett Syndrome Diagnosed?
A diagnosis of Rett syndrome is based on a girl’s pattern of symptoms and behavior. The diagnosis can be made on these observations alone. Discussions between a doctor and a girl’s parents will help determine important details, such as when symptoms started.
Genetic testing can help confirm the diagnosis in 80% of girls with suspected Rett syndrome. It’s possible that genetic testing can help predict severity.


Treatments for Rett Syndrome
There are treatments available for Rett syndrome that focus on helping a girl live the best life she can with the condition. Physical therapy can help improve mobility; speech therapy may help somewhat with language problems; and occupational therapy helps girls perform daily activities — like bathing and dressing — independently.

Experts believe that therapy can help girls with Rett syndrome and their parents. Although a “normal” life may not be possible, some improvement can be expected with therapy. Participating in activities — including school — and improved social interaction are sometimes possible.

Medicines can treat some of the problems with movement in Rett syndrome. Medication can also help control seizures. Unfortunately, there is no cure for Rett syndrome.


What to Expect With Rett Syndrome
Many girls with Rett syndrome can be expected to live at least into middle age. Researchers are still following women with the disease, which was only widely recognized in the past 20 years.

Symptoms of Rett syndrome don’t usually improve over time. It is a lifelong condition. Often, there is a very slow worsening of symptoms, or symptoms remain stable. Girls and women with Rett syndrome will rarely be able to live independently.

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.

Side Entry Versus Rear Entry Wheelchair Vans

2013 Dodge Grand Caravan SXT rear entry wheelchair van newenglandwheelchairvan.com12 VS 2013 Toyota Sienna VMI Northstar

The question of a Rear Entry wheelchair van versus a Side Entry van often comes up in conversation when a first time buyer enters the accessible van market. There are several things to consider; first, the family or care giver needs to decide on where the wheelchair user is going to sit. If the person in the wheelchair is able to drive and will be independent there are other things to consider, but for now, let us stay with an assisted member of the family.

Door height is an issue. For that we need to know how tall the person sits in their wheelchair.

Scooter or Power chair is next. Size and weight combination will come into play as we move along in the discovery process.

Will the person transfer into a  seat or will they remain in their wheelchair while traveling?

Okay, now we get into seating. The side entry offers both mid-section and front seat options with tie-downs located throughout. In a rear entry van, the mid-section to rear of the vehicle, are the only seating options while remaining in the wheelchair.

There are five passenger seats available for family members in a side entry van versus six available seats in a rear entry. Both are in addition to whoever is in the wheelchair, which gives a total of six people in a side entry and up to seven in a rear entry.

For folks with a long wheelchair or scooter the rear entry is ideal. Over six feet of space is afforded to tie down the wheelchair and no turning to forward face is necessary.

A side entry requires up to eight feet accommodating the lowering of the ramp allowing access into your van. This may prohibit the use of the ramp while inside a garage or if someone parks to close while at the mall or a doctor’s appointment.

The rear entry does not have the blocked in problem, you are always accessing your van from the aisle.

In summation, like anything else, it is best to try before you buy. Our Mobility Center has both styles of wheelchair vans. See which style suits your lifestyle and then consider the purchase of either a new or used mobility equipped van. Always consult with your mobility product specialist for any additional questions you may have.

Presidential Proclamation – NDEAM 2013

National Disability Employment Awareness Month, 2013
By the President Of The United States Of America
A Proclamation

Our Nation has always drawn its strength from the differences of our people, from a vast range of thought, experience, and ability.  Every day, Americans with disabilities enrich our communities and businesses.  They are leaders, entrepreneurs, and innovators, each with unique talents to contribute and points of view to express.  During National Disability Employment Awareness Month, we nurture our culture of diversity and renew our commitment to building an American workforce that offers inclusion and opportunity for all.

Since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, we have made great progress in removing barriers for hardworking Americans.  Yet today, only 20 percent of Americans with disabilities, including veterans who became disabled while serving our country, participate in our labor force.  We need their talent, dedication, and creativity, which is why my Administration proudly supports increased employment opportunities for people with disabilities.  To that end, I remain dedicated to implementing Executive Order 13548, which called on Federal agencies to increase recruitment, hiring, and retention of people with disabilities.  As a result of our efforts, the Federal Government is hiring people with disabilities at a higher rate than at any point in over three decades.  Most recently, we updated the rules to make sure Federal contractors and subcontractors are doing more to recruit, hire, and promote qualified individuals with disabilities, including disabled veterans.  And thanks to the Affordable Care Act, States are taking advantage of new options to support and expand home and community-based services.

In the years to come, I will remain committed to ensuring the Federal Government leads by example.  This year, as we mark the 40th anniversary of the Rehabilitation Act, I will continue to marshal the full resources of my Administration toward effective and comprehensive implementation.

If we swing wide the doors of opportunity for our family, friends, and neighbors with disabilities, all of us will enjoy the benefits of their professional contributions.  This month, let us uphold the ideals of equal access, equal opportunity, and a level playing field for all Americans.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim October 2013 as National Disability Employment Awareness Month.  I urge all Americans to embrace the talents and skills that individuals with disabilities bring to our workplaces and communities and to promote the right to equal employment opportunity for all people.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirtieth day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand thirteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-eighth.

BARACK OBAMA

Keep Calm It’s Only An Extra Chromosome

keep calm its only extra chromosome - Down Syndrome Awareness Month

Despite the incredible number of medical advances which have enriched and extended the lives of people with Down syndrome, Trisomy 21 continues to be extremely misunderstood. Many people look at Down syndrome through the lens of outdated stereotypes and misconceptions.

Down Syndrome Awareness Month, celebrated each October, is one way to change that. The goal of Down Syndrome Awareness Month is, of course, to spread awareness, to educate about Down syndrome, and to celebrate people who have Down syndrome, and their abilities and accomplishments.

Facts about Down syndrome:

  • What is Down syndrome?
    Trisomy 21, or Down syndrome, is a genetic disorder which is caused by a full or partial third copy of the 21st chromosome. There are three types of Down syndrome. Trisomy 21, or nondisjunction, is the most common kind, seen in 95% of Down syndrome cases. The extra chromosome is present in every cell in the body. Translocation Down syndrome occurs in about 4% of Down syndrome cases and is caused by a partial copy of the 21st chromosome breaking off and attaching to another chromosome (usually the 14th chromosome). Finally, Mosaic Down syndrome is the rarest case, seen in about 1% of Down syndrome cases. Mosaic Down syndrome happens when the nondisjunction of an extra chromosome is present in some, but not all, of the body’s cells. Some cells will have 47 chromosomes, while the rest will have the typical 46 chromosomes.

 

  • Is Down syndrome rare?
    No, Down syndrome is not rare. It is the most commonly occurring genetic disorder or birth defect. One out of every 691 babies born in the United States will have Down syndrome, and there are over 400,000 people who have Down syndrome living in the United States. Down syndrome occurs in all races, and while women are at a greater risk of conceiving a child with Down syndrome as they get older, the majority of babies with Down syndrome are born to younger mothers.

 

  • What are the effects of having Down syndrome?
    People with Down syndrome usually have hypotonia, or low muscle tone, and developmental delays. Early intervention programs and therapies are able to help children with Down syndrome reach the same milestones as typical children, albeit at a slightly longer pace. The rate at which the person with Down syndrome reaches these milestones, as well as the developmental delays he or she has, will be highly individual. There usually are cognitive delays as well, ranging from mild to moderate. It is important to remember, though, that each person with Down syndrome is different, just like typical people. People with Down syndrome are also at increased risk for various medical conditions, such as heart defects, hearing problems, thyroid conditions, childhood leukemia, and Alzheimer’s. However, medical advances have made most of these issues highly treatable, to the point where people with Down syndrome have life expectancies similar to those of people with typical chromosomes.

 

  • What are the physical characteristics of Down syndrome?
    There are common markers for Down syndrome, which include almond-shaped eyes, a single crease in the palm, flat facial features, small ears, and extra space between the big toe and second toe. However, each person with Down syndrome is an individual, so some people may exhibit many of these characteristics, while others will not have any.

 

  • Can people with Down syndrome lead normal, fulfilling lives?
    People with Down syndrome often do work and make contributions to society. They also get married, as well as have friendships and other meaningful relationships. Unfortunately, most men with Down syndrome cannot have children, or have a lower fertility rate than typical men. About 50% of women with Down syndrome are able to have children. Thirty-five to fifty percent of children born to a mother with Down syndrome will also have Down syndrome, or other developmental delays. Most importantly, people with Down syndrome do lead happy, fulfilling lives. Studies have consistently shown that people with Down syndrome overwhelmingly report being happy with themselves, their lives, and how they look.

 

  • Are people with Down syndrome always happy?
    No. People often refer to people with Down syndrome as always happy, or as constantly full of love and joy, but this does a disservice to people with Down syndrome. They experience the full range of emotions, just like everyone else. Reducing them to one emotion or one feeling reduces them to less of a person. They feel happiness, along with sadness, anger, frustration, and countless other feelings, and they deserve to have those feelings acknowledged.

National Disability Employment Awareness Month Facts & Figures

National Disability Employment Awareness Month 2013 facts & figuresHeld each October, Disability Employment Awareness Month is a national campaign that raises awareness about disability employment issues. The opportunity to earn a living and be self-supporting is a broadly held goal by Americans. Work is a foundation of stability for individuals and can give one’s life meaning and purpose.  Unfortunately, the rate and level of employment for people with disabilities is staggeringly low. Labor force participation is 22% for people with disabilities as compared to 69% for people without disabilities.

National Disability Employment Awareness Month 2013

Because We Are EQUAL to the Task

2013 NDEAM Poster

Held each October, National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) is a national campaign that raises awareness about disability employment issues and celebrates the many and varied contributions of America’s workers with disabilities. The theme for 2013 is “Because We Are EQUAL to the Task.”

NDEAM’s roots go back to 1945, when Congress enacted a law declaring the first week in October each year “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.” In 1962, the word “physically” was removed to acknowledge the employment needs and contributions of individuals with all types of disabilities. In 1988, Congress expanded the week to a month and changed the name to “National Disability Employment Awareness Month.” Upon its establishment in 2001, ODEP assumed responsibility for NDEAM and has worked to expand its reach and scope ever since.