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Friday, March 30, 2012

Illinois House Passes Anti-Bullying Measure HB5290 | March 30, 2012

As posted by 'chicagoist'...

An anti-bullying bill passed the Illinois House this week and is heading to the Senate. State Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) introduced the legislation, which emphasizes "restorative" measures over "punitive" measures when dealing with bullying at school.

Cassidy told ChicagoPride.com the legislation is a critical step to ensure children's safety, building on the The Safe Schools Act. ChicagoPride.com writes:

The measure, known as HB5290, would require the Illinois State Board of Education to create a "template for a model bullying prevention policy" that individual school districts would use when establishing policies.

"To get straight to the heart of bullying in our schools, it will take a comprehensive approach among parents and educators," Cassidy told the Windy City Times. "By giving school district the tools to combat bullying and working with the community to offer youth programming and professional development for staff, we can help ensure a safe and healthy learning environment for children and schools."
The bill was pushed through despite opposition from the House GOP caucus. Several GOP members defected to vote for the bill, which passed 61 to 49.

# Contact the author of this article or email tips@chicagoist.com with further questions, comments or tips.

# http://chicagoist.com/2012/03/30/illinois_house_passes_anti-bullying.php

CHA program assists People with Disabilities secure apartments, and leave institutions | March 30, 2012

Lawrence Matthews isn't even sure how he ended up in the nursing home. The 56-year-old remembers falling on the ice in January 2009, waking up in the hospital, groggily signing some papers then being moved to a facility he's spent the last three years trying to get out of.

Now, he and his wife _ who he met in the nursing home _ recently moved into a place of their own along Chicago's lakefront thanks to a federal program that helps people with disabilities who are 61 and younger leave institutions and secure apartments using public housing vouchers.

The Non-Elderly Disabled program administrated by the Chicago Housing Authority has helped dozens of low-income people like Matthews who landed in nursing homes because of a medical need then couldn't afford to move out once their conditions improved.

There's a movement to transition people out of nursing facilities and into homes of their own. In December, a federal judge in Chicago approved a settlement in a class-action lawsuit that could help thousands of disabled, low-income Illinois residents move out of nursing homes.

Government officials say such programs save tax dollars, while advocates believe everyone benefits from having people with disabilities better integrated into communities. Matthews says he's grateful to no longer feel stuck.

"Money keeps you in the nursing home," he said. "It's not where we wanted to spend the rest of our lives."

The CHA has partnered with Access Living, an advocacy group for the disabled, to administer the voucher program. Access Living helps identify residents in institutions who are interested in relocating, finds accessible living arrangements in the private market and works to smooth the transition, including taking people shopping for groceries and appliances.

Participants pay 30 percent of their annual adjusted income for rent, and the federal Housing Choice Voucher program pays the rest.

Independent living costs about half of what it costs to house someone in an institution, where the money must cover facility expenses such as staff, maintenance and insurance, advocates say. In a home setting, the expenses are rent, medical costs and personal assistants if they're needed for just one person, rather than an entire building.

"The state doesn't need to be charged 24 hours for everyone who's in a nursing facility," said Rahnee Patrick, director of independent living at Access Living. "Some people may, not everybody will."

Federally mandated surveys at nursing homes show one in five residents would rather live in the community, Patrick said.

For the CHA, the so-called NED program has been a chance to help a unique and previously unreached population.

Amanda Motyka, Americans with Disabilities Act compliance manager for the CHA, remembers walking into an Access Living event and getting a hero's welcome.

"They pointed CHA out, `that's who freed you from your nursing home,'" she said. "Everyone's clapping...it's very touching."

Matthews, who was sidelined from his job as a laboratory optician by health problems, broke his hip during the fall on the ice and lost his place to live as he recuperated. He learned of Access Living from another resident at the nursing home, and he was pleasantly surprised that it only took months _ not years _ for him and his wife to move from the facility and into their apartment.

His wife immediately fell in love with the place, a 20th-floor duplex with dramatic views of Lake Michigan. The couple married on Valentine's Day 2010.

For the couple, having a home of their own means living by their own rules in their own space.

"There's too many similarities between prison and the nursing home," Matthews said.

.Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed

12-year-old boy with spina bifida Robbed of money raised for his wheelchair basketball team

Cary, N.C. It's a crime that's difficult to imagine – a thief knowingly steals money meant for a charity from a boy who can't walk.

But that's what happened last week to Nolan Turner, a 12-year-old Cary boy with spina bifida who was working to raise money so that his wheelchair basketball team to play at his school, Briarcliff Elementary.

Nolan had raised $250 of the $1,000 needed to transport equipment and wheelchairs made especially for sports from the Durham-based nonprofit Bridge II Sport's headquarters to the school.

He had set up a table in front of his home and was selling bottled water when the thief took the cash.

"I made the mistake of telling him I couldn't walk, and he took the money and walked away," Nolan said Thursday.

A week later, Nolan says he is surprised by the generosity of donors who have pledged more than $28,000 for the cause.

I'm happy. I'm really, really happy," he said.

Briarcliff Elementary will be able host the basketball team this spring, and because Nolan has raised so much money, organizers say there is enough to buy much needed equipment – each wheelchair can cost up to $5,000 – and a trailer to haul it.

Cary police are still looking for the thief – described as a black man in his 20s who is either bald or has short hair. He is described as being between 5 feet 6 inches to 5 feet 8 inches tall.

Nolan says that, if the thief were in need, he would have helped.

"If he had just asked me for a few dollars, I would give that to him."

Reporter: Amanda Lamb
Photographer: Chad Flowers
Web Editor: Kelly Gardner

# As Reported by WRAL.com Raleigh:Durham:Fayettville N.C.
# http://www.wral.com/news/local/noteworthy/story/10923585/

Advocates Warn Cuts To Home Services Will Harm Illinoisans With Disabilities | March 30, 2012

Article by Brandon Campbell : PROGRESS ILLINOIS

{photo: home services rally}

Advocates for Illinois residents living with disabilities are continuing to voice their opposition to cuts in health services and facilities proposed in Gov. Pat Quinn’s budget while simultaneously decrying the millions in tax incentives given to the Chicago Mercantile Exchange last year.

On Wednesday afternoon, a group of about 30 activists belonging to groups like Chicago Adapt and Access Living, both of which are Chicago-based disability rights organizations, rallied outside of the CME’s headquarters on South Wacker Drive.

The group, some of whom were in motorized wheelchairs, warned that cuts to the Home Services Program laid out in the 2013 budget will prevent about 14,000 people from receiving those services, which include home delivered meals, personal assistants, and community-based adult day care among others.

Amber Smock, director of advocacy with Access Living, was at the rally. She told Progress Illinois in an email that these short-term cuts could end up costing Illinois residents more money in the long run.

“First, the effect of these cuts will be that people will be forced into costly nursing homes and institutions. The Illinois taxpayer will pay for this,” Smock said.

“Second, once these programs are cut, it is extremely difficult to rebuild them. Disability advocates fought for these programs for two reasons: because people want to be able to live in their own homes and because these programs are more cost effective than institutional settings.”

Smock also said cuts to these services will rob many disabled Illinoisans of their independence and could drastically cut the income of home service workers.

Access Living is working with state legislators to promote alternatives to the cuts, which include two similar bills – one in the state Senate and one in the House – both of which would increase funding for the Home Services Program from the $113,864,900 suggested by Quinn to $399,380,000. Smock said her organization supports a progressive tax structure, which would place less of a burden on low-income residents, to increase state revenues and cover the additional costs.

Gary Arnold, a spokesperson for Access Living, said the activists chose to picket in front of the CME because of “inequities in the budget.” Arnold pointed to the $85 million tax breaks the state gave to the financial exchange last year, which cut the company’s tax bill in half, while Illinois is poised to slash disability services.

“What we really wanted was a representative from CME to come and address the group,” Arnold said in a phone interview Wednesday. “We wanted them to work with the community, to contact Quinn and help us support home services, but no one from CME was willing to speak with us.”

Progress Illinois received a response of “no comment” from CME after a call was placed to the company’s public relations department.

Quinn has defended his proposed cuts citing Illinois’ nearly $8 billion in unpaid bills as justification for the austerity measures. Meanwhile, back in January Moody’s Investors Service dropped Illinois’ debt rating to the lowest in the nation. Last year, Illinois raised income and corporate taxes by about 66 percent and 46 percent respectively.

Laurence Msall, president of the Chicago-based Civic Federation, a government watchdog group, recently told the Los Angeles Times that simply raising taxes while cutting services “is not enough to fix the problem.”

Wednesday’s rally comes just two weeks after thousands of union healthcare workers held similar protests across Illinois where American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees decried the pending closing of 24 human service offices and the potential loss of 3,000 jobs.

# http://progressillinois.com/quick-hits/content/2012/03/30/advocates-warn-cuts-home-services-will-harm-illinoisans-disabilities

For PROGRESS ILLINOIS visit: http://progressillinois.com/

Weekly Message: Momentum March 30, 2012 | American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD)

As shared from AAPD:

Mark's Weekly Message: Momentum

As you read this, a new page of AAPD’s history is unfolding. We are relocating to the HSC Foundation’s headquarters, which also houses other disability, veterans, and civil rights organizations. This move is not only about packing boxes and reorganizing old files. It’s part of a shift in our movement for equality.

We are not changing our principles or our purpose: we were founded to fulfill the ADA’s goals: independent living, equal opportunity, economic power, and political participation. AAPD’s staff and board live this mission every day. The shift is in scope. Over 21 years after the ADA was signed, the “ADA generation” is entering the work force. This generation of young people has had unprecedented opportunities but still face daunting obstacles. Job opportunity is the most important issue for these job-seekers—and other Americans with and without disabilities.

22% of U.S. workers are employed by a federal contractor. Access to jobs in this sector is critical to our community’s economic success. That’s why we have fight for a rule that will require government contractors to take action to employ people with disabilities. A proposed rule implementing § 503 of the Rehabilitation Act would do just that—fulfilling a decades-old promise and putting our community on a level playing field with other groups. This is the most significant chance to improve employment opportunity since the ADA. Business opposition could kill this rule if we don’t fight for it. You can help. Write a letter to the editor of your local paper. Tell friends to do the same. If you work for a federal contractor or know people who do, make your case.

Access to affordable transportation is a prerequisite to exercising other rights—such as the right to vote, to secure education and health care, and get to work. America’s transportation system is not serving our community adequately. We are chipping away at the barriers in our paths every day. AAPD has joined our allies in the movement to secure accessible taxicabs in New York, DC, and beyond. We will not be forced to wait in the rain as cabs pass us by and pick up people without disabilities. We blocked a discriminatory parking system in DC. In the process, we not only knocked down another barrier to our freedom—we found allies in city council members and government officials who are ready to fight along with us. This is what makes me hopeful.

Even in 2012, I’m struck by how many buildings remain inaccessible. In 2012, it shouldn’t be difficult to find a place for the whole AAPD staff to enjoy a holiday lunch or celebrate a milestone. But it still is. Even the office building where I’m writing this has serious accessibility problems. Which brings me back to our new space in the HSC Foundation building. In some ways, it is just an office. Our success depends upon the great work that we will do there. But it is much more. This building is an outstanding example of universal design incorporated into absolutely every element of the space. It is beautiful, functional, and accessible. This CAN be done. Not at “job-killing” prices. Not at the expense of design or comfort.

Accessibility has been legally required for a long time, but reality hasn’t caught up with the law yet. When donors, visitors, corporate partners, and advocates visit our new space, they will experience true accessibility. We will educate on it and immerse then in it. And I believe that they will walk away that much more committed to integrating it into their own buildings.

Thank you for supporting AAPD over the years. The best is yet to come.


# For the American Association of People with Disabilities :

Recording Catches Two Alabama Teachers Mistreating Special Needs Student | March 30, 2012

By CHRISTINA NG | Good Morning America

..Two Alabama teachers have been put on administrative leave after the mother of a 10-year-old student with cerebral palsy attached an audio recorder to the bottom of his wheelchair and caught them scolding him about drooling, among other things.

Jose Salinas, or as his friends and family call him, "Little Joe," is in fourth grade at Wicksburg High School, a public school in Newton, Ala. Jose has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair at school, but is high-functioning and can walk with a walker and loves to talk at home about Power Rangers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

His mother, Melisha Salinas, a nursing student, knew he didn't enjoy school and would come home sick many days, but he would tell her he had a "good day" every day when she asked.

"We knew he hated going to school. We tried every medical test we could think of, but we never could find anything wrong," she said.

A psychologist told Salinas, 31, the problem could be stress or anxiety, but she didn't know the source.

One day, a little girl in Jose's class who lives in the neighborhood told Salinas that the teacher's aide had been mean to Jose three times that day. Salinas got Jose to confirm two of the instances, but wanted to be sure.

"I went ahead and put a recorder on his wheelchair to make sure for myself," Salinas said.

She recorded several days of class in mid-March and was "shocked" with what she heard.

"You drooled on the paper," a male's voice, allegedly that of teacher's aide Drew Faircloth, could be heard saying impatiently. "That's disgusting."

"Keep your mouth closed and don't drool on my paper," a woman's voice said, allegedly teacher Alicia Brown. "I do not want to touch your drool. Do you understand that? Obviously, you don't."

Over the three days of recordings, Salinas said Jose received about 20 minutes of actual instruction and spent almost the entire day sitting in silence with no one speaking to him.

"I could not believe someone would treat a child that way, much less a special needs child," Melisha Salinas told ABCNews.com. "The anger in his voices ... and the thing he was getting angry about, [Jose] just can't help."

"Why is my paper wet?" the female teacher demanded. "Look at me and answer. That's not an answer. That's not even a word."

"Do you seen anybody else at this table drooling? Then, stop," she said. "You have got drool all over your face and it is gross."

After Salinas listened to the recordings, she took Jose out of school. She said that when Jose is at home, she can't get him to stop talking, but in the tapes he was "dead silent."

"It broke my heart. He had probably been going through that for almost two years," Salinas said of the time Jose has been in the care of the teacher and aide.

Neither Brown, Faircloth nor the Houston County School's office responded to requests for comment.

Salinas took the recordings to the school board and the teachers were put on administrative leave. But last Friday, the teachers were back at school.

"They were back at the school and my children were there so I got them out of school and so did several angry parents," Salinas said. "I just lost all hope. Nobody was listening to me."

The normally "shy and reserved" Salinas had hoped to handle the matter quietly with the school, but when the teachers were returned to their positions, she shared the recordings with her local newspaper.

The community has rallied around Jose. A Facebook page called, "We Got Your Back Little Joe!!!" has nearly 5,000 supporters.

"Wow! Sickening to hear any child treated like that," one person wrote.

Another wrote: "I cannot begin to imagine what your family and little Joe are going thru [sic] ... I don't even know you guys and I have cried many times hearing this. My heart breaks and I just would love to hug him over and over."

By Monday, the teachers were back on paid administrative leave, and on April 9 the school board will meet to decide what further action to take.

For now, Jose is back in school and his mother said he has been doing much better.

"He's so much happier when he gets home from school," Salinas said, adding that he hasn't been sick since the teachers were removed. Classmates have noticed the difference, too, telling Salinas that Jose is "smiling all the time, talking all the time, nothing but happy."

# http://gma.yahoo.com/recording-catches-teachers-mistreating-special-needs-student-213919460--abc-news-topstories.html

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Autism Rate is Now 1 in 88 : CDC announced new data | March 29, 2012

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Press Release March 29, 2012

CDC estimates 1 in 88 children in United States has been identified as having an autism spectrum disorder

CDC data help communities better serve these children

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1 in 88 children in the United States has been identified as having an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to a new study released today that looked at data from 14 communities. Autism spectrum disorders are almost five times more common among boys than girls – with 1 in 54 boys identified.

The number of children identified with ASDs ranged from 1 in 210 children in Alabama to 1 in 47 children in Utah. The largest increases were among Hispanic and black children.

The report, Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders – Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 14 Sites, United States, 2008, provides autism prevalence estimates from 14 areas. It was published today in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

“This information paints a picture of the magnitude of the condition across our country and helps us understand how communities identify children with autism,” said Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “That is why HHS and our entire administration has been working hard to improve the lives of people living with autism spectrum disorders and their families by improving research, support, and services.”

“One thing the data tells us with certainty – there are more children and families that need help,” said CDC Director Thomas Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “We must continue to track autism spectrum disorders because this is the information communities need to guide improvements in services to help children.”

The results of CDC’s study highlight the importance of the Obama administration’s efforts to address the needs of people with ASDs, including the work of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The IACC’s charge is to facilitate ASD research, screening, intervention, and education. As part of this effort, the National Institutes of Health has invested in research to identify possible risk factors and effective therapies for people with ASDs.

Study results from the 2008 surveillance year show 11.3 per 1,000 8-year-old children have been identified as having an ASD. This marks a 23 percent increase since the last report in 2009. Some of this increase is due to the way children are identified, diagnosed and served in their communities, although exactly how much is due to these factors is unknown. “To understand more, we need to keep accelerating our research into risk factors and causes of autism spectrum disorders,” said Coleen Boyle, Ph.D., M.S.Hyg., director of CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities.

The study also shows more children are being diagnosed by age 3, an increase from 12 percent for children born in 1994 to 18 percent for children born in 2000. “Unfortunately, 40 percent of the children in this study aren’t getting a diagnosis until after age 4. We are working hard to change that,” said Boyle.

The most important thing for parents to do is to act quickly whenever there is a concern about a child’s development.

•Talk to your child’s doctor about your concerns.
•Call your local early intervention program or school system for an assessment.
•Remember you do not need a diagnosis to access services for your child.
To learn more about this study, visit www.cdc.gov/autism.

For information on CDC’s tools to help families track their child’s development, visit www.cdc.gov/actearly

To learn more about the research CDC is doing on autism, visit www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/research.html.

To learn more about the Administration’s commitment to combating autism, visit http://www.hhs.gov/autism/factsheet_autism_support.html.


U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

CDC works 24/7saving lives, protecting people from health threats, and saving money to have a more secure nation. Whether these threats are chronic or acute, manmade or natural, human error or deliberate attack, global or domestic, CDC is the U.S. health protection agency.

# http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2012/p0329_autism_disorder.html

Chicago to increase Accessible Taxicabs in 2012 | March 29, 2012

March 28, 2012 (CHICAGO) (WLS7) -- There are new, environmentally-friendly taxis in Chicago, accessible to people with disabilities.

These new taxis operate on composed natural gas, which should help save on fuel. The taxis are also roomy and built for people with disabilities in mind so they can get around more conveniently.

Prior to Mayor Emanuel's new ordinance, Chicago had 92 wheelchair accessible vehicles. As of today, there are 139.

(Copyright ©2012 WLS-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

# http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news/local&id=8599476

For more of Chicago ABC7 Disability Issues visit: http://abclocal.go.com/wls/channel?section=news/disability_issues&id=7098492

ACTION ALERT - March 29, 2012 - call for full funding for Home Services in Illinois

Dear Access Living friends and allies:

This morning, Access Living consumer advocates and staff are on the way to Springfield! Thanks to Tom Wilson and Curtis Harris for organizing everyone. Our main focus today is educating legislators about the new home services/CIL/Community Reintegration Program bills as follows:

SB3913 (Forby): http://ilga.gov/legislation/97/SB/PDF/09700SB3913lv.pdf

HB6141 (Golar): http://ilga.gov/legislation/97/HB/PDF/09700HB6141lv.pdf

We are asking legislators to sign on support! Please contact your legislators and ask them to support these bills. Senators should sponsor SB3913 and reps should sponsor HB6141. They call for full funding for Home Services, flat funding for CILs, and twice the funding for the Community Reintegration Program because it is a long term investment (moves people into the community from nursing homes).

Wish us luck!

Amber Smock
Director of Advocacy
Access Living of Metropolitan Chicago
(312) 640-2191 (VP)

Preview: 2012 Reel Abilities Chicago Disabilities Film Festival, in Oak Park, IL - April 25-29 at various venues

By Melissa Black Ford ; Oak Park Journal | March 27th, 2012

We are all different. Yet we share one thing in common — our human experience. When we focus on our differences, judging someone based on appearances or mental or physical abilities, then we can't connect. We miss out on meaningful conversations, opportunities to learn about ourselves and others, and what binds us.

By failing to accept one another, we fail to accept ourselves.

To help us "explore, discuss and celebrate the diversity of our shared human experience," four community agencies (Seguin, Oak Leyden Developmental Services, Aspire and Community Support Services) serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Oak Park, River Forest and the greater Chicago area are sponsoring the first Reel Abilities Chicago Disabilities Film Festival, April 25-29 at various venues in Oak Park.

{photo: A family portrait with Karen and Glenn Hunter and Georgia's sisters, Emma and Cate}

This multifaceted arts festival featuring award-winning films, followed by panel discussions as well as music, art and dance events, attempts to raise awareness about developmental disabilities and the need for inclusion to reduce the stigma and discrimination people with disabilities deal with on a daily basis.

Recently, I spent a morning with Georgia Hunter and her parents, Glenn and Karen Hunter, to discuss her life, her accomplishments and her personal challenges. Georgia is a loving, sweet and passionate 23-year-old born with Down syndrome.

Sitting in the Hunters' living room, I asked them what our focus should be.

"I really want to focus on our similarities as humans, not our differences," Karen replied. "I want to look at the positives and not the negatives." For the past 23 years, Karen and Glenn Hunter have been loving, guiding and advocating on behalf of Georgia from an empowering perspective: Georgia can do what anyone else can do; sometimes takes her a little longer.

Glenn got the interview rolling: "Even though Georgia has Down syndrome, she is very high functioning. She has social skills and can easily be integrated into the community. It really just gets down to how the individual is accepted. Georgia has had tremendous support as she has moved through pre-school, Whittier, middle school and high school. Ninety-eight percent of her school experience has been a positive. Her experiences, including after-school programs through Opportunity Knocks, West Suburban Special Recreation Association and Seguin Services have been a fabulous support for her in getting her to this point.

Karen: That's true. Georgia is a twin and we have another daughter who is only a year and half older. When they were little — three kids in a year and a half — we were just too busy to do different things; they were just lumped together in whatever they did. It was easier to do the same thing with everyone, so the expectations were there. She was just doing what everyone else did even though it might have taken her a little longer.

What were some things you and your family did, Georgia?

Georgia: We played sports. My dad did ice hockey and my mom was in swimming and tennis. My twin sister, Cate, did tennis, soccer, volleyball. My oldest sister, Emma, did volleyball and soccer. For me, I did bowling, tennis, basketball and softball. When I was little, I played T-ball with my twin sister, and in the final championship game it was my team against my sister's team. It was a twin-sister showdown and Cate struck me out.

What are you doing now?

Georgia: I got a job coaching at Marion Street Cheese Market. Now I work at Trader Joe's.

Glenn: The state of Illinois mandates that you have services through your 22nd birthday in the public school system and then you're cut out. Your child no longer receives services through the high school, such as speech, OT or other therapies. That's where Seguin Services comes in, offering life skills, job coaching and job supervision for kids with disabilities transitioning from high school into the next phase.

Karen: Through their Building Bridges to the Future program, Seguin has assigned a job supervisor to Georgia, who checks in with her at Trader Joe's, keeping in touch with her employers to ensure she is getting the training she may need, dealing with any scheduling issues, providing whatever help Georgia needs to be as independent as she can be. That's what we all hope for our kids, to be on their own and survive in the world.

Georgia: We have orchids at Trader Joe's, which is good because my mom is addicted to orchids. I got my mom some flowers for her birthday. They are purple, my mom's favorite color.

Karen: I do love purple! It's been incredibly supportive to have Seguin's involvement picking up where the high school left off regarding job training and support roles. Georgia really likes her case manager, Dick Biggins. They get along famously. His family was involved in starting Seguin 50 years ago for his sister, who also happens to have Down syndrome. And the people at Trader Joe's have provided in-house workers to work alongside Georgia and train her. She loves working at Trader Joe's.

Georgia, besides your job at Trader Joe's, are you working anywhere else?

Georgia: I have a second job. I work at the Dole library and put movies and books in order. Sometimes I bring home movies for my dad. My mom gives me books to return that are overdue. I'm reading a book about Anne Frank; she is one of my favorites.

Karen: Georgia also did an interview on Radio Disney for Special Olympic Illinois. She discussed how she felt about the "R-word" [retarded] being said around her and her friends.

Georgia: I was called a retard once when I was little. I told a teacher because I didn't want to be bullied. I walked away, but there was a fight. Since high school, I have never been threatened because I am too cute and too adorable [she said, smiling].

Karen: It was just one kid you were having trouble with. Grammar school and middle school years were difficult. Maybe around Georgia's sophomore or junior year in high school, she started gaining friends.

Georgia: I did a program called CITE, Community Integrated Transition Education. I did that for three years at the high school; it is held at the River Forest Community Center. When I got out of school, I felt really bad because I didn't get to see my friends as much.

What do you do now to have more contact with your friends?

Georgia: I'm back playing basketball. I had a mishap along the way; I injured my right knee playing. I had a tough time. What happened was my knee gave out. I heard a huge snap and the next day I had to do surgery. I was so scared and I was really crying. They cleaned up my knee and when I woke up, my mom was there. We went to get some ice cream.

Karen: That's right; we went to get ice cream right away.

Georgia: The worse part was when my friends were staring at me. I don't like people staring at me because I had crutches. I just graduated out of physical therapy to get my knee better so I can play basketball again.

Karen: Yes, Georgia was anxious and concerned about being stared at in her own friend community. It was hard for her. Opportunity Knocks [OK], another local agency has been a wonderful opportunity for Georgia and other kids, offering services and support that used to be provided by the public school system for adults with developmental disabilities over 22. Georgia has felt really lonely without her friends and OK has helped her reconnect with them.

Georgia: I see pretty much all of my friends at Opportunity Knocks. Also, I'm the official assistant coach of the Huskie Special Olympic basketball team at the high school. I'm even allowed to go to state if the team makes it. There are two teams for basketball — Varsity and JV. Both teams are co-ed. This year the Varsity is all boys, but when I played basketball at the high school, I was the only girl on Varsity. I played point guard. We won our division and we played really, really well.

What team do you play with now?

Georgia: The WSSRA Bobcats, but "it's not about losing or winning; it's about being teammates." That's my favorite quote.

Karen: I like that quote, too.

Speaking of which, I hear you give speeches.

Georgia: I am a Special Olympic Global Messenger. I give speeches to different groups about Special Olympics and what it means to me. I've spoken to the Knights of Columbus, the National Board of Special Olympics where there were 500 people. I've even spoken to the Trans Siberian Orchestra Concert; there were 5,000 people in the audience. They had 3-D lights and everything!

Five thousand people! How did you feel?

Georgia: Nauseous!

Karen: Georgia has even given speeches to schools, people volunteering for Special Olympics, people who are donating money. She talks about how great Special Olympics is for her. She gets kids to see how much she can really do, especially in front of middle-schoolers.

Georgia: I get to talk about what I did in my life. How to become a coach or athlete or volunteer.

Karen: Being a Global Messenger has helped Georgia a lot. It's given her a lot of self-confidence, self-concept, self-esteem and ...

Georgia: Passion!

Karen: Yes, and passion. Self-esteem is a big issue in this population. It can be hard to feel good about yourself because you have the opportunity for so many people to tell you you can't do things.

You have great parents, Georgia.

Georgia: I know, I love my parents!

What advice can you give to other parents as they try to address the dreams and aspirations of their children with developmental disabilities?

Glenn: You are always going to be your children's best advocate. But with a child with special needs, you have to take it to another level. No one knows what your child needs more than you do. It's your job to be their best voice. Don't take no for an answer when you are fighting for your child and know it is a fight and that everyone wins when you are successful for your child.

Karen: It looks different in every situation. From birth through 3, services are provided from an outside agency. From 3-22 years, those services are provided through the school system, so that's how you get into the educational system. The hard part when you first start is sitting down with professionals who have had a short observational period with your child. They all have pages of reports about your kid and all she can't do. You are sitting there hearing negatives and as a parent, all you can think about is what your child can do. You can't dwell on the negative. That was our introduction to knowing that we had to be strong advocates for Georgia — to get the best supports, therapies, services so she could be the best person she could be.

Georgia: [Nodding] It's just your ability to do your best.

Tell me about your abilities, Georgia.

Georgia: My ability is to be stronger every day. I take care of myself every day when I go to work, take showers, brush my teeth, get stuff ready for work, ride my bike every day (but not in the snow). I call Paratransit to take me to work and back home. That's what I do.

Georgia left, then came back and informed us she had just booked her ride to work the next day by calling Paratransit. With a big smile on her face, she celebrated by giving each of us a high-five.

For more information visit chicago.reelabilities.org.

# http://www.oakpark.com/News/Articles/03-27-2012/Preview:_Reel_Abilities_Chicago_Disabilities_Film_Festival,_in_Oak_Park

Paralympians Provide Example, Inspiration to Disabled Vets | March 27, 2012

By Donna Miles ; American Forces Press Service

SNOWMASS VILLAGE, Colo., March 27, 2012 – As disabled veterans gathered at the base of Snowmass Mountain to tackle their first ski runs on adaptive skis during the National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic, they had an unexpected cheering squad: U.S. Paralympians, including two training for the 2012 Summer Games in London.

Positioned slopeside yesterday to encourage their fellow veterans sat Scott Winkler, an Army veteran who was paralyzed from the chest down after falling from an ammunition truck in Tikrit, Iraq, in 2003, and Kari Miller, a former Army reservist who lost both legs and had her left arm crushed when a drunk driver hit her car in 1999.

Both now Paralympians, they provide what Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki called “great examples of what determination, dedication and hard work can result in” as he addressed disabled veterans during opening ceremonies for the winter sports clinic.

{photo: Chris Devlin-Young, a disabled Coast Guard veteran and four-time Paralympian, left, looks on as Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki shakes hands with Scott Winkler, a Paralympian training for the upcoming Summer Games, during opening ceremonies for the National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic. VA photo}

About 400 veterans, including nine active-duty service members and 94 veterans of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, are participating in the clinic that started yesterday and runs to March 30.

Rattling off a long list of disabled veterans who have risen to the highest levels of competition, Shinseki called them an inspiration to other veterans struggling to come to grips with their disabilities. “They are special examples for all of us,” he said, as they continue to represent their country in world competition.

Winkler, an Army specialist when he was wounded, admitted that he had to be “dragged” to his first sports clinic for wounded warriors in Colorado Springs, Colo., in 2006. It was there that he threw his first shot put, and he combined talent and determination to break the Paralympic shot put record within a year. In 2008, he became one of the first Iraq War veterans to make it to the Paralympic Games in Beijing, where he placed fifth in his category.

In November, he won a gold medal at the 2011 Parapan Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, and he’ll head to London in late August to compete for a spot on the 2012 team.

Looking at his success, Winkler doesn’t see himself as any different from other disabled veterans. “I believe everybody has hidden talents somewhere in their body,” he said. “It’s a matter of when it comes out. And if you don’t get out there and try, you will never know. So you have to keep driving yourself to knock down those barriers.”

Winkler, who lives in Augusta, Ga., continues to work with wounded warriors at nearby Fort Gordon to encourage them to reach beyond their comfort zones. “I enjoy inspiring people, helping them realize that there is life after injury and what they can do if they don’t give up,” he said. “It’s not the disability. It’s the ability.”

Miller recalled the tough days first days as a double amputee, and the physical and emotional healing she found returning to her beloved basketball court. “I started playing wheelchair basketball before I even had my stitches out,” she said.
She went on to earn a spot on the University of Illinois wheelchair basketball team, before getting introduced to a new love: sitting volleyball.

She was a natural, getting named to the U.S. Paralympics women’s sitting volleyball national team in 2005 and finishing fifth in the world championships in Roermond, Netherlands. From there, her trajectory went skyward. She earned a gold medal during the 2009 Euro Cup in Roermond and silver medals during the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing and the 2010 World Championships in Edmond, Okla.

Also in 2010, she was named USA Volleyball sitting player of the year and best libero, or defensive specialist. Now training for the London games, Miller took time out from her schedule to attend her first winter sports clinic and encourage her fellow veterans.

Miller credits her sport competition and work with the U.S. Olympic Committee Paralympic Military Program with helping her realize her potential as an athlete with a disability. “Paralympic sports opened my mind to a different world,” she said. “I learned that I had options.”

Now, she said, she hopes to share those lessons with other disabled veterans so they can see that they, too, can find release and healing through sports therapy and competition. But just as importantly, she added, she wants to be a sounding board for her fellow veterans as they work through the healing process.

“Some of them are in the middle of the struggle, and I want to be here to listen to their stories and if I can, help them through their transition,” she said. “When I think about the legacy I want to leave, a medal is not good enough. If hearing my story, or my listening to yours, helps you move forward, then that’s what I want to leave behind.”

Other veteran Paralympians who compete in winter sports popped into the clinic to greet the participants before heading to the 2012 U.S. Adaptive Alpine National Championships at nearby Buttermilk Mountain in Aspen, Colo.

Among them was Chris Devlin-Young, a Coast Guard veteran who got his first exposure to skiing at the 1987 National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic, three years after a C-130 Hercules crash in Alaska left him a paraplegic.

Devlin-Young admits he was mad at the world at the time about losing of use of his legs and said he had little interest in trying out skiing. But the first time down the hill, he was hooked. “It gave me adrenaline and control,” he said. “It gave me my life back.”

A four-time Paralympic Winter Games medalist, he claimed the gold at the 2010 International Paralympic Committee Alpine Skiing World Championships and became the the World Super G sitting Paralympic champion in 2011.

But through his long winning streak, he’s never forgotten how the Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic changed his life. Devlin-Young continues to return to the clinic to serve as a guest instructor and mentor for other disabled veterans.

“My goal is to inspire and help others with disabilities to realize their potential,” he said. “The opportunities for athletes with disabilities are unlimited; they just need the courage and strength to reach out for help.”

Winkler said he recognizes that Paralympic-level competition isn’t for everyone. But he called recreational therapy a key to mental, physical and emotional well-being he said can make all disabled veterans healthier and feeling better about themselves.
“You don’t have to stop life,” he said. “You can take it as high as you want, and have fun doing it.”

That’s the message behind the Veterans Affairs Department’s new “Mission ReDefined” program, which encompasses VA’s adaptive sports programs and Paralympics grant program.

The idea, explained Christopher Nowak, who runs the program, is to engage veterans early in their rehabilitation and give them a renewed sense of purpose and hope for the future.

“Adaptive sports have a long history in VA, and our objective is to challenge veterans to redefine their capabilities, set goals, train and compete in their communities,” he said.

The winter sports clinic, jointly sponsored by VA and Disabled American Veterans, is just one of the programs that exposes disabled veterans to these new opportunities. The program is open to veterans with disabilities ranging from spinal cord injuries and orthopedic amputations to visual impairment and neurological conditions.

As they learn adaptive Alpine and Nordic skiing and get introduced to rock climbing, scuba diving, trapshooting, wheelchair fencing, sled hockey, snowmobiling, and sled hockey during a six-day program, many discover a whole new world of opportunity.

“You may have been injured, but life isn’t over,” Shinseki told them. “There is still a lot of living to do for all of us.”

A new link on the VA website outlines opportunities available through the Mission ReDefined program.

Eric K. Shinseki

Related Sites:
National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic
Department of Veterans Affairs
Disabled American Veterans
Mission ReDefined


Disabled Australia Cop Comes To Chicago For Rehab at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago | Match 28, 2012

Reporting Mike Parker ; CBS2 Chicago

CHICAGO (CBS) – It happened in the Australian wilderness. A young police officer was bitten by a mosquito and became immobilized, a quadriplegic who also cannot speak.

{photo: Ryan Marron, a police officer from Perth, Australia, traveled to Chicago to visit the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago for treatment after he was bitten by a mosquito, resulting in encephalitis that left him paralyzed and unable to speak. (Credit: CBS)}

Now he has traveled from down under to Chicago. Here, police officer Ryan Marron hopes he can regain what was lost. CBS 2’s Mike Parker has his story.

The Chicago Police Department’s Pipe and Drum Corps and members of the department’s Sergeants’ Association marched through O’Hare International Airport with a new arrival in America on Wednesday — disabled Perth, Australia, police officer Ryan Marron.

He and his loved ones hope that his paralysis can somehow be cured at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. His life partner Toni Misitano has been at his side throughout his ordeal.

“I’m just hoping for Ryan to be able to regain his independence and get back to work as a serving police officer,” she said. “It’s his love, it’s his career and we’re just trying very badly to get out life back.”

A year ago, in the Australian outback, a strong and healthy police constable – Marron – was bitten by a mosquito. He contracted encephalitis and rapidly lost the ability to move and to speak. So on Wednesday, he ended a grueling 30-hour flight from Australia to Chicago, a journey of faith and hope that he can be made whole again.

Misitano said of the Rehabilitation Institute, “They’ve been rated number one for the past 21 years, and I think if anyone is going a difference in Ryan’s recovery, it’s going to be here.”

Marron’s brother Jeremy also made the long trip.

“Let’s hope this is a really good beginning of another sort of life journey for Ryan,” he said.

As Ryan Marron sat in a Chicago Police vehicle, waiting for his first trip into the city, he wept as Toni Misitano wiped his tears.

Marron begins his therapy at the Rehabilitation Institute on Monday. It is believed he’ll be a patient in the Institute’s recently opened “Ability Lab.” It is the first of its kind anywhere.

# http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2012/03/28/disabled-australia-cop-comes-to-chicago-for-rehab/

From Awareness to Respect | By Guest Blogger Commissioner Sharon Lewis, Administration on Developmental Disabilities

By Guest Blogger Commissioner Sharon Lewis, Administration on Developmental Disabilities, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

The Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act considers the issues of “self-determination, independence, productivity, and integration and inclusion in all facets of community life” for individuals with developmental disabilities. All of these values presume respect for people with developmental disabilities. Where respect is lacking, self determination and independence are often denied. Integration and inclusion without respect become merely symbolic. As we celebrate Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month 2012, it is clear we have achieved much over the past 50 years, but we still have far to go before we can claim full success.

In recent conversations with young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (ID/DD), I have heard many incredible stories about their college experiences, their great jobs and their wonderful apartments and shared living arrangements – lives that don’t sound very different from those of other twenty-somethings. The young woman from Massachusetts who graduated and is now working as a teacher’s assistant at competitive wages. The guys from Wisconsin who just moved into apartments in an inclusive community where they host football parties for their neighbors on the weekends, and are excited to be able to invite girls over (without the watchful eyes of their mothers!). The young woman from Iowa who is supported by her family in her efforts to run her own coffee shop – a popular local gathering place and a connection to the community. And my friend from Oregon who has worked for an independent bookseller for more than a decade, hiring his own staff and purchasing his own vehicle, despite having no verbal language and other significant disabilities.

Yet for each of these positive stories, I hear dozens and dozens more from youth and young adults who have not yet been able to experience the lives they hope for – people who have experienced abuse at the hands of a provider or a family member; been physically restrained or secluded in our schools; who want a real job but cannot escape the sheltered workshop environment; who want to live on their own or with friends but are stuck in an institution, group home or with family; who have significant communication or behavioral barriers and do not have access to the support they need in order to express their choices, let alone their dreams.

For nearly every one of these young adults, whether they are enjoying good opportunities or experiencing substantial barriers, the path to and through adulthood is still often fraught with discrimination, low expectations, limited opportunities and lack of respect for people with ID/DD. Despite decades of civil rights protections, we still have more than 115,000 people with ID/DD living in large congregate institutions, while more than 120,000 people wait for home and community-based services. The graduation rate hovers around 35 percent, less than a quarter of people with ID/DD work in competitive integrated employment and people with ID/DD experience disproportionately high poverty rates.

At the same time, we have recently seen media stories and difficult debates about wrongful birth lawsuits, growth attenuation treatments (medical treatments that involve administering estrogen in order to reduce growth) for the convenience of caregivers, continued use of aversive therapies, bullying among our youth and use of harmful restraints in schools. Just last week, autistic adults held a candlelit vigil to remember the life of a young man with autism killed by his mother in a tragic murder/suicide, while some wondered whether it was understandable for a mother to commit such an act.

What do these stories and these statistics tell us about ourselves and our society’s assumptions about people with intellectual and developmental disabilities? How far are we from meaningful self-determination, independence, productivity, integration and inclusion?

At what point do we move from seeking simple awareness about intellectual and developmental disabilities to expecting meaningful respect for people with ID/DD?

Self advocates understand the difference. They are working tirelessly to eliminate the R-word, to expand home and community living options, to convince employers to give people with disabilities a fair chance at a fair wage, to empower youth with disabilities to speak for themselves, to help families understand why it is important to maintain high expectations…quite simply, to change our perceptions and fundamentally shift attitudes across this country about people with ID/DD.

Ensuring that we have a strong and vibrant self-advocacy movement across our country is a key priority for the Administration on Developmental Disabilities (ADD). ADD has been working with national self advocacy organizations (Self Advocates Becoming Empowered, Autistic Self Advocacy Network, National Youth Leadership Network), our network (Developmental Disabilities Councils, Protection and Advocacy systems, University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities), and the National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disability Services to host a series of regional self-advocacy summits involving every state and territory. By bringing together state leadership teams, we hope to energize and guide our efforts to support the self-advocacy movement at both the state and national level, and ensure that the next generation of self-advocacy leaders has a solid foundation to build upon.

We all have a responsibility to ensure that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities receive not only our care, but our respect. It is time to move beyond awareness.
Sharon Lewis was appointed Commissioner of the Administration on Developmental Disabilities in March 2010. Prior to her appointment as Commissioner, she served as the Senior Disability Policy Advisor to the U.S. House Committee on Education & Labor and as a Kennedy Public Policy Fellow for the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Children & Families. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2010 Distinguished Leadership in National Disability Policy Award and the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Chairman’s Award.

Commissioner Lewis also worked for the Oregon Developmental Disabilities Coalition, the Oregon Family Action Coalition Team, founded DisabilityCompass.org and managed the Oregon Partners in Policymaking Program. She is a parent to three daughters, including one with a disability. She is also a native of Michigan and a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis.
# As posted at Disability.Gov.Blog: http://usodep.blogs.govdelivery.com/2012/03/26/from-awareness-to-respect/

State of Illinois crackdown on disability fraud - New law would impose tougher penalties | March 28, 2012

By Travis Morse | The Journal-Standard

Freeport, Ill. — Supporters hope a new law that creates harsher penalties for disability fraud will help ensure that disabled residents in Illinois have more places to park, said Dave Druker, a spokesman for Secretary of State Jesse White.

“The whole concept is to create more disability parking for people who need it,” Druker said. “Hopefully, people will get the message this way.”

If signed into law, the legislation, House Bill 5056, would toughen penalties for those who abuse parking privileges designed to assist the disabled, states a news release from White’s office. The bill was approved last week by the Illinois House of Representatives, and is now being considered by the Senate.

According to Druker, the law targets a particularly offensive type of disability fraud. This crime involves a non-disabled person who uses a placard and/or disability license plates that once belonged to a disabled person who is now deceased.

“It’s something the Secretary is especially offended by,” Druker said, adding that people who commit this crime make it more difficult for the genuinely disabled to find parking spots. “The Secretary has formed a task force to study this issue to see if other aspects should be looked at.”

Currently, this kind of fraud falls under the category of general misuse of a placard or plate, which is a minor offense. The legislation would create a new offense for this action, making it a Class A Misdemeanor, which is punishable by a minimum one-year driver’s license revocation and a $2,500 fine.

Also, the legislation would increase the license suspension periods for violators of the general misuse of a placard or plate law, the release states.

Druker said he is optimistic about the new law’s chances for success.

“We expect it should do well in the Legislature,” Druker said.

In the mean time, White has formed a subcommittee to find ways to eliminate disability fraud and abuse. This is part of an overall effort to perform a “top-to-bottom review” of the state’s Parking Program for Persons with Disabilities, the release states.

“The goal of the subcommittee is to eliminate fraud and misuse, and to ensure that disability parking spots are available for those truly in need,” White said in the release.

A time frame was not available for when the Senate will vote on House Bill 5056.

# http://www.journalstandard.com/news/x586034641/State-considers-crackdown-on-disability-fraud

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Children With Autism Bullied Three Times More | March 26, 2012

As Posted at DisabilityScoop; By Michelle Diament

In the largest look ever at autism and bullying, new research shows that children on the spectrum are significantly more likely than other kids to be bullied.

Researchers polled nearly 1,200 parents across the country and found that 63 percent of kids with autism have been bullied. What’s more, some 39 percent of parents said their child with autism had been bullied within the last month compared to just 12 percent of typically developing siblings.

While many within the autism community have long believed that bullying is an especially acute problem for those with the developmental condition, the preliminary findings released Monday add to a growing body of scientific evidence on the topic.

“Even though I expected it to be a big problem, it was bigger than I even thought,” said Connie Anderson, community scientific liaison at the Interactive Autism Network, a national autism registry at the Kennedy Krieger Institute which conducted the ongoing survey.

With concrete findings, the researchers say they hope policymakers and educators can be encouraged to take steps to address the issue.

For the survey, parents across the country were asked about the bullying experiences of their kids with autism ages 6 to 15 and about the experiences of their typically developing children within the same age group. Findings reflect the experiences of 1,167 kids with autism and 795 children without.

Overall, those with autism were more likely to be bullied in fifth through eighth grade and kids attending regular public school were 50 percent more likely to be bullied than those enrolled in private schools or special education environments, the survey found.

Certain attributes also appeared to play a role. Specifically, kids with autism who are inflexible, have frequent meltdowns and those who talk obsessively about particular topics are at higher risk, researchers said.

In most cases, parents reported that children who were bullied were teased, picked on or made fun of. In other instances, kids were ignored, left out, called names or subject to pushing, hitting, kicking or slapping.

Kids with autism aren’t just victims of bullying, however. In 17 percent of cases, parents said that their children were both subject to and had been accused of being bullies themselves.

“I hope this is really good evidence for society at large that this is a problem,” said Anderson, who in addition to her research role is also the parent of a child with autism who has been bullied. “It’s really sad to know that this is going on.”

Analysis of the survey is ongoing and the researchers said they plan to submit final findings to a peer-reviewed journal within the next year.

Copyright © 2012 Disability Scoop, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

# For Disability Scoop visit: http://www.disabilityscoop.com/

JJ’s List working to improve access for all across Chicago’s north and northwest suburbs | March 27, 2012

BY TODD SHIELDS ; Wilmette Life

{photo: Tim Finnegan (standing, left), of Wilmette, and Kristyn Smith (seated, left), of Glenview, are members of the Disability Awareness Players and trained employees of Glenview State Bank on Waukegan Road in January. | Photo courtesy of JJ's list}

Similar to secret shoppers, people with disabilities are fanning out across Chicago’s north and northwest suburbs, testing businesses for services to disabled customers.

They arrive unannounced and often write online about their experiences for everyone to read, whether it concerns automatic doors for the disabled or when it’s OK to guide the blind.

The online posts appear on JJ’s List, an Evanston nonprofit that since 2008 has helped businesses and employees accommodate the disabled, as well as improving their economic and social futures.

In a wheelchair, Kristyn Smith, 22, noticed in November the only entrance to Glenview State Bank on Glenview Road was a revolving door.

“I’m a customer there and have been since I was a teenager,” said Smith, a 22-year-old Glenview resident.

“The bank wasn’t aware of the problem, but the door was fixed. A swinging one was put in,” she said.

In January, Glenview State Bank’s main office on Waukegan Road invited the Disability Awareness Players, a group of JJ’s List members, to teach and train employees more about meeting needs of the disabled.

The seminar was Smith’s first session.

“It was interesting and I enjoyed it. I would definitely do it again,” said Smith, who has arthrogryposis, a disorder that causes muscle weakness and joint contractures.

“Some people may not know this, but most people don’t like their wheelchairs moved without asking first. A wheelchair is like a body part and we don’t like it,” Smith said, who works at the Perk Center Café in Glenview as a cashier.

She graduated from Glenbrook South High School in Glenview n 2008.

Terry Schneider is a branch manager and vice president at Glenview State Bank in Northbrook, and she attended the training event.

“What struck me the most was how blind people may need assistance on the street, but did not like just being grabbed and led, especially when stepping off a corner,” said Schneider, of Glenview.

She also learned to communicate directly to people with speaking difficulties.

“A gentleman had a hard time speaking, but he didn’t want us asking someone, ‘What did he say?’ They want to be spoken to and basically treated like everyone else. Look them in the eye,” she said.

Anthony Ortale, a teller supervisor at Glenview State Bank on Golf Road in Glenview, has a disabled cousin and he has been a volunteer for Misericordia/Heart of Mercy.

How to address the disabled was new information for Ortale.

“Person-first language was new to me, meaning the disabled want to referred to as a person or people with disabilities, not just disabled person. They want to be seen as a person, first,” he said.

The Disability Awareness Players also can practice job interviewing skills at the training sessions.

In addition to Glenview State Bank, Siemens Corp., Northern Trust Bank, Whole Foods Market and Deerfield and Highland Park public libraries have participated in the disability awareness programs.

Founder and executive director J.J. Hanley was inspired to start JJ’s List while filming “Refrigerator Mothers,” an award-winning PBS documentary on autism in 2002.

“I started it as a response to the lack of opportunities for individuals with disabilities after graduating from high school, especially in Illinois,” said Hanley, of Wilmette.

Her son, Tim, has autism spectrum disorder and will enter Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., in fall.

“It’s a vast wasteland out there of few higher learning or work opportunities. Illinois also ranks (last) in the country for providing alternative living opportunities for the disabled.

“Instead, Illinois institutionalizes individuals with disabilities more than any state in the nation,” she said.

When people with disabilities approach businesses lacking in accommodations, often managers readily ask for training, Hanley said.

“Glenview State Bank was not afraid of Kristyn’s review, but saw it as a chance to build relations with customers.

“It takes a savvy, smart business to see this because people with disabilities are living and working individuals getting around in the community,” she said.

JJ’s List has reviewed 198 businesses, such as bookstores, big box retailers, restaurants, snack shops, doctors’ offices and sports/recreation facilities.

Wilmette resident Tim Finnegan, 17, has written business reviews for the list since 2009.

“When I need help in a grocery store and there’s an employee to help me, then they get a positive review,” said Finnegan, who has high-functioning autism.

“I write negative pieces so businesses will call us up and get better with their services for us,” said Finnegan.

He attends the Cove School for children with learning disabilities in Northbrook, and Finnegan has plans to enter Elmhurst College, the University of Iowa or National Lewis University.

# http://wilmette.suntimes.com/news/11561087-418/jjs-list-working-to-improve-access-for-all.html

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Colleen’s Story: Part II – Marriage, Raising a Family & Going to Work - her experiences in life as a wife and mother with a disability raising three children, and eventually entering the workforce.

By Guest Blogger Colleen M. Feldman

This is the second post in a three part series by Colleen M. Feldman, who contracted polio in 1941, just prior to her 13th birthday. In this post, she addresses her experiences in life as a wife and mother with a disability raising three children, and eventually entering the workforce. Mrs. Feldman brings a unique perspective to Disability.Blog, having lived with a disability more than 50 years before the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became law. She is also the mother of Disability.gov’s Content Manager, Robert Goldstraw.

At the age of 20, I married and subsequently, had three children. My generation of women didn’t seem to be motivated to enter the world of work, so I was reasonably content to be a housewife/homemaker. But when it came time for high school and college for my children, I began to think seriously about looking for a job.

At the age of 34, I went job hunting, and had my first of many experiences with employment discrimination. I would go to job interviews where it was openly talked about that the reason I wasn’t a “good fit” was because of my disability. I was bluntly rejected by two large companies. One personnel manager asked me, “Do you honestly think you could handle a job?” I clearly remember saying, “Do you honestly think I would waste my time being interviewed if I thought I couldn’t?” I was hurt and angry. I came home and furiously shampooed a rug on my hands and knees – that rug had never been so clean!

I was advised to go to the state vocational rehabilitation (VR) agency for an interview and testing. Through VR, I was eventually hired by the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration. I worked in state government for 23 years and retired with a pension and good benefits. Yet even there, in a state government job, I experienced what I’d call harassment and discrimination by a supervisor. Things hadn’t changed much by 1980 it seems. One day, my supervisor asked me to pick up some heavy charts and medical records and bring them to her. After I did, and she said, in the presence of others, “I just wanted to see if you could do it.” I was so humiliated and embarrassed. Back then I don’t think many knew what, if any, actions could be taken when subjected to that kind of harassment and discrimination at work.

After the 1940s, I never once saw a doctor for polio again until the 1980s. I attended a meeting of people who had been living with polio for many years. It was held in the same hospital I had been in as a young girl. All sorts of medical professionals were there – doctors, nurses, social workers, psychiatrists, psychologists and physical and occupational therapists. I walked out of that meeting and sat in the hallway as they discussed Post Polio Syndrome. Aggravated, I said, “There’s nothing ‘wrong’ with us, we’re just worn out from trying to act how you think is ’normal.’” Everyone within ear shot agreed with me. We pushed ourselves. I knew many people with polio from my three lengthy hospital stays, a social club and three years at a camp (Camp Greentop in Thurmont, MD) for children with disabilities. We were all considered “type A” and over achievers.

Throughout my 40s, I continued to work, but did not drive. One morning, I woke up to an announcement on the radio saying, “We excel at teaching older and disabled people how to drive.” I made an appointment with the company and the rest is history. I learned to drive with hand controls and continue to drive to this day at the age of 83. It’s a privilege and I am grateful that I am still able to drive, and for the technology that makes it possible.

To be continued….next Tuesday April 3, 2012

Check out Part I of the series, from March 21, 2012 :

As posted at -
Disability.Blog, the official blog of Disability.gov :

Gadget helping partially paralyzed triathlete beat the odds | article & video | March 23, 2012

by Kristine Harrington ; azfamily.com

TEMPE, Ariz. -- An Arizona State University triathlete suffering from partial paralysis is beating the odds and competing again with the help of a little device no bigger than your iPod or cellphone.

“I never had a doubt I’d be out doing what I loved again,” said Allysa Seely, who is gearing up for a triathlon race, training with her team at ASU. “You can always go faster and you can always go harder."

It's the challenge and the camaraderie that Seely likes best.

“When you are out on the course, it doesn't matter where you are, there are always people telling you great job, keep going, you got this, just a little bit farther!”

And it's that spirit that has helped carry Seely through a rough four years.

“I was diagnosed with chiari malformation and basilar invagination. It's a congenital anomaly where the base of the skull and top of spine are formed incorrectly, essentially pushing the brain stem down to the spinal column,” Seely explained.

That caused some neurological damage that led to dystonia in Seely's foot, making walking, never mind running, hard to do.

"My way of life changed," she said. “I just kept telling myself tomorrow is a new day."

Refusing to sit still and unhappy with a brace that left her flat-footed, Seely risked injury, running on the side of her foot until last August when she was introduced to the Walkaide.

“It uses electrical stimulation to stimulate my nerves in my leg to make my foot flat so I can step on it when I run,” Seely said. “As soon as I take a step, it fires and goes back to where most people would say is normal.”

Typically this device is used to help stroke survivors, people with spinal-cord injury or cerebral palsy walk, so formatting it to keep up with Seely's six-minute mile pace was initially a challenge for Bret Bostock at Hanger Prosthetics and Orthotics.

“The timing of the device is so unique and we have to make it fire at the right time, stop at the right time and reset to fire again,” Bostock explained.

After six months, they've finally got it.

“I never doubted it and I think that's what got me here today," Seely said.

Seely is now training for the Collegiate Nationals where she will compete in April with an ultimate goal of competing in the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii as soon as 2014.

# http://www.azfamily.com/video/yahoo-video/Gadget-helping-partially-paralyzed-ASU-triathlete-beat-the-odd-143968896.html

U.S. Access Board Webinar on the ADA and ABA Standards: "The Basics" on April 5, 2012 | RSVP free

The next webinar in the Access Board’s monthly series will take place April 5, 2012 from 2:30 to 4:00 (ET) and will review “building block” provisions in Chapter 3 of the ADA and ABA Standards. This session will cover requirements for ground and floor surfaces, turning space, clear floor and ground space, knee and toe clearances, protruding objects, reach ranges, and operable parts.

Whether you follow the 2010 ADA Standard or the Architectural Barriers Act Standard, the application of the “building block” provisions contained in Chapter 3 are critical in designing accessible elements and spaces. These provisions provide criteria for ground and floor surfaces, turning spaces, clear floor and ground spaces, knee and toe clearances, protruding objects, reach ranges, and operable parts. This session will review how to apply these criteria and provide guidance on some common errors in design.

•Jim Pecht
Accessibility Specialist/Librarian
US Access Board
•Dave Yanchulis
Coordinator of Public Affairs
Office of Technical and Information Services
US Access Board
Continuing Education Recognition Available:
•Certificate of Attendance (Free)
•AIA CES (free) : 1.5 Credits
•AICP CES (free) : 1.5 Credits
•LA CES (free) : 1.5 Credits
•UI CEU (free) : 0.15 Credits

To register for this free webinar, visit

Questions for the webinar can be submitted in advance through this website.

'ARTS OF LIFE’ HOSTS GALLERY OPENING AND DINNER | April 6, 2012 | a Chicago non-profit organization fostering artistic growth in developmentally disabled adults

How We Make It’ Gallery Event Celebrates the Life of Its Founding Artist

The Arts of Life, a Chicago non-profit organization dedicated to fostering artistic growth in developmentally disabled adults, is pleased to announce the opening of its latest art show How We Make it at the Arts of Life Studio and the Kinzie Corridor Arts Gallery at 2010 W. Carroll Ave. The opening event, taking place on Friday, April 6th from 6 pm-10 pm, will also serve as a heartwarming celebration of the studio’s founding artist Veronica Cuculich.

How We Make It will showcase the talents of the Arts of Life staff, interns and volunteers in recognition of the support they’ve given the studio and its artists. Some of the participating artists are working on their art pieces side-by-side in the gallery from March 16th to 30th to further demonstrate the spirit of creative collaboration.

Accompanying the art opening will be a memorial for founding artist Veronica Cuculich whose extraordinary life and art continues to inspire the Arts of Life community. During the event, there will be a viewing of the documentary feature Life and Where I’m At: The Life and Art of Veronica Cuculich, which showcases Ms. Cuculich’s important role in the creation of the Arts of Life.

Afterward, guests will perform in a themed open mic limited to songs written or inspired by Elvis, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton and Ms. Cuculich herself. There will also be a potluck dinner featuring all of Ms. Cuculich’s favorite foods—pulled pork, Italian food, fruit, macaroni and cheese, Oreos, pizza, pudding and coffee.

The opening is free and open to the public. Donations are welcome.

The following artists will have their work shown in a slide show in San Francisco next Saturday the 31st of March at a screening of Art Slam 2012. This takes place in the de Young Museum’s Koret Auditorium during the Open House and Disability Arts Festival.
Daniel Brendel
Stefan Harhaj
Carolyn Kelley
David Krueger
Bill Lilly
Shannon Mallers
Mike Marino
Kathy McDonald
Ridley Mondala
Christianne Msall
Adam Pick
Frances Roberts
Linda Ruzga
Kristopher Schenkel
Alexander Scott
Kelly Stone
Tim Stone
Benjamin Torres
Debbie Vasquez
Bobby Verran
Marianne Wehr
Jean Wilson
Joshua Wykes
Christina Zion

For more information visit 'The Arts of Life" at:

State of the Science: Disability and Rehabilitation in Rural America Webinar : Free : April 17 to April 20, 2012 - RSVP

A web conference on

•Rural issues
•Disability issues
•The intersection of the two
Four nationally-acclaimed leaders in rural policy and practice will describe their philosophy and approach toward preserving the heritage of rural America while solving the problems rural Americans face. Each will describe conceptual models and strategies that might have promise in addressing the issues faced by people with disabilities. Leaders in disability and rural rehabilitation will respond to each paper to provide insight on how the models might be used by rural people with disabilities and agencies that serve them. Presenters, respondents, conference hosts, and attendees will have an opportunity to explore how to integrate disability issues into the broader rural agenda.

This web conference will address one topic each day. We encourage attendee participation. To participate before the webcast, please read the conference paper and submit a comment, question, or scenario you would like the presenter to address during his or her presentation.

Presenters: Brian Dabson, Cornelia Flora, Don Macke, and Vincent Francisco will discuss broad trends in rural policy, rural community development, rural economic development and employment, and rural realth. Each is nationally and internationally-recognized in their area of expertise. We are fortunate to have them on board to explore and identify gaps and possible linkages to include disability issues into mainstream rural issues and policy.

When: April 17 through the 20th, 2012 | 10:00 – 12:30 mountain time each day.

Cost: Free

Registration: https://www4.gotomeeting.com/register/706633311

# http://rtc.ruralinstitute.umt.edu/sos_conference/

Breathing Lessons | ACADEMY AWARD WINNER! Video | portrait of a complex, intelligent, beautiful and interesting person, who happens to be disabled

Breathing Lessons Synopsis

ACADEMY AWARD WINNER! According to Mark O'Brien, ""The two mythologies about disabled people break down to one: we can't do anything, or two: we can do everything. But the truth is, we're just human."" O'Brien was a frequently published journalist and poet, and a contributor to National Public Radio. He contracted polio in childhood and, due to post-polio syndrome, spent much of his life in an iron lung. Yet for more than forty years, he fought against illness, bureaucracy and society's conflicting perceptions of disability for his right to lead an independent life.

Breathing Lessons breaks down barriers to understanding by presenting an honest and intimate portrait of a complex, intelligent, beautiful and interesting person, who happens to be disabled. Incorporating the vivid imagery of O'Brien's poetry, and his candid, wry and often profound reflections on work, sex, death and God, this provocative film asks: what makes a life worth living?

# Visit SnagFilms for Breathing Lessons, & other Documentaries :

Western Illinois University Pledge to remove the ‘R-Word’ from your vocabulary at WIU | March 25, 2011

Macomb, Ill. — The Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) at Western Illinois University is asking students, faculty, staff and WIU community members to pledge to remove the “R-Word” from their vocabularies.

According to Lacey Busby (Pecatonica), a sophomore special education major who is a member of the CEC organization at WIU, Western will be commemorating the national “R-Word: Spread the Word to End the Word” campaign Thursday, April 26 and Friday, April 27. Busby said, on those dates, there will be a banner hung in various places on the WIU-Macomb campus.

“People will be able to sign the banner, which will serve as their written pledges to remove the ‘R-Word’ from their vocabularies,” she said. “We will also be hosting a display at Celebrating Disability Culture Day Wednesday, March 28 in the Multicultural Center.”

Busby said the times and locations the banner will be available for signing will be as follows:

April 26
9 a.m.-2 p.m. at Horrabin Hall

April 27
9-11 a.m. at Morgan Hall
11 a.m.-1p.m. at University Union Concourse
1-3 p.m. at Stipes Hall

Busby also noted that t-shirts with the “3E Love” symbol (a wheelchair heart logo) will be available for sale for $15 each at the CEC display during the March 28 event. She said all proceeds from the t-shirt sales will go toward CEC fundraising profits, which are used for service activities in various special education classrooms and professional-development activities for CEC members.

The “R-Word: Spread the Word to End the Word” campaign is sponsored Special Olympics, Inc., an international non-profit organization incorporated in Washington, D.C. More information about the national campaign is available at www.r-word.org.

According to the “R-Word” website, the American Medical Association (AMA) House of Delegates has recommended the AMA editorially revise its policies to delete the term “mentally retarded” and replace it with “individuals with intellectual disabilities.” The site notes that, “While the recommendation still needs to be approved, this is a huge step in the recognition of people-first language in the medical community.”

Busby added that organizing the “R-Word: Spread the Word to End the Word” event at Western is a way to support this effort, as well.

For more information about the “R-Word: Spread the Word to End the Word” event at Western, contact Busby at LL-Busby@wiu.edu.

# WIU University Relations

A Club of Their Own: newly formed group will allow students with disabilities to take part in service projects, fundraising and charity | Plainfield, IL | March 25, 2012

By Michelle Mullins ; The Plainfield PATCH

When some special education students in Plainfield School District 202’s P-STEP program found out that a new club would be formed especially for them, they began to cheer.

“They were very excited,” said Jim Donahue, a vocational coordinator for P-STEP and an advisor for the new club. “Their eyes lit up.”

About 20 students with disabilities have joined Plainfield’s Aktion Club, a branch of the Kiwanis organization and the only service club for adults with disabilities.

Students in District 202’s P-STEP, or Post Secondary Transition and Education Program, are between 18 and 21 years old and take part in community-based employment as well as instruction to give them all the necessary supports until just before their 22nd birthday.

Holly Weigel, Plainfield Academy’s special education administrator, explained why it is important for students with disabilities to take part in the Aktion Club.

“It’s rare for those with developmental disabilities to belong to a club,” Weigel said. “The socialization is huge. Traditionally, developmental disabled people get stuck at home. They haven’t had many opportunities for leadership.”

People with disabilities also want to be treated like everyone else, connect with their community and give back, and the Aktion Club allows them to do so.

The club, which is sponsored by the Plainfield, Naperville Evening, Romeoville-Bolingbrook and Aurora Golden K Kiwanis clubs, is a service-based organization, operating similar to the Key Clubs found in all four of District 202’s high schools.

“We give these young folks a chance to be a leader,” said Fred Jacobs, Kiwanis lieutenant governor for the Illinois-Eastern Iowa District. “We want to give them that feeling that we get, the feeling to give back to the community. We hope the community looks at these members for their abilities, not their disabilities.”

Already, the group has elected officers and started to brainstorm fundraising ideas, research various charitable groups to support and plan social events with other Aktion Clubs in the area.

The group will also determine how to spend its time on service projects.

In addition to raising funds, many Aktion Club members volunteer their time and services, such as helping at nursing homes or animal shelters, Jacobs said.

Donahue said the young adults are excited to take part in the club, and the club will provide them with a sense of belonging, pride and accomplishment while they learn about leadership and responsibility.

Another goal is to develop independence, Weigel said.

“Independence is highly desired,” she said. “You can disable people by holding back their independence.

“Mom and dad want their children to have the same type of life that non-disabled children have. They want them to work and to belong to a community.”

# http://plainfield.patch.com/articles/aktion-club-helps-district-202-students-with-disabilities

Saturday, March 24, 2012


Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - 14:00PRESS RELEASE

For immediate release on Wednesday 21 March 2012


On Wednesday 21 March 2012, World Down Syndrome Day, Down Syndrome International (DSi) is delighted to announce the recipients of the 2012 World Down Syndrome Day Awards.

2012 is the third year of the World Down Syndrome Day Awards, presented to individuals or organisations whose voluntary, professional or scientific activities have strengthened and enriched the lives of people with Down syndrome, or contributed to scientific advancement related to Down syndrome.

This year’s recipients are as follows:

Voluntary and Professional Awards

individuals with Down syndrome receive awards for outstanding self-advocacy:

Robert Pio Hajjar (Canada) – Motivational speaker, former athlete and Founder of Ideal-Way Inc.

Prathamesh Date (India) – Worked in software, newspaper, library and logistics.

María Alejandra Villanueva (Peru) – Fought successfully for the right of people with intellectual disabilities to vote in Peru.

Sheri Brynard (South Africa) – Outstanding academic achiever and motivational speaker.

Rafael Calderón-Almendros (Spain) – Acclaimed academic and performance musician

3 individuals receive awards for outstanding voluntary and professional activities:

Sahira Abdul Lateef Mustafa (Iraq) – Founder and President of Down Syndrome Association of Iraq and Head Teacher of Hiba Centre for Down Syndrome in Baghdad.

Christy Lynch (Ireland) – Advocate of employment and community integration and CEO of KARE, Ireland.

Dr Abdulrahman AlSwaid (Saudi Arabia) – Paediatrician and Medical Geneticist and founder of Arabic voluntary family support and awareness forum Werathah.com.

All recipients are invited to a formal presentation of World Down Syndrome Day Awards for the years 2010-2012 taking place at the 11th World Down Syndrome Congress (WDSC) in Cape Town, South Africa from 15-17 August 2012.

For further information on the recipients of the 2012 World Down Syndrome Day Awards or to learn more about World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD), please visit the DSi website www.ds-int.org or the WDSD website www.worlddownsyndromeday.org. For further information on the WDSC please visit the website www.wdsc2012.org.za.

ILLINOIS 4th Quarterly Report of Nursing Home Violators | October - December 2011 - link, resources

October - December 2011

The Illinois Department of Public Health has initiated action, as indicated, against the following facilities which have been determined to be in violation of the Nursing Home Care Act, or has recommended decertification to the Director of the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, or the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for violations in relation to patient care, pursuant to Titles XVIII and XIX of the Social Security Act.

For the FULL list for October - December 2011 :

For the homepage of Illinois Department of Public Health, Nursing Homes in Illinois for more information & resources, visit: http://www.idph.state.il.us/healthca/nursinghometestjava.htm