Disability News Service, Resources, Diversity, Americans with Disabilities Act; Local and National.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Study Shows Shifting Realities of Caregiving in 2015, Reinforces Need for Education, Resources and Services

CHICAGO, March 31, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Ready or not! This familiar childhood phrase that you hear called out during neighborhood games carries the same sentiment around what has become "the new normal" for 66 million1 Americans of all ages. You never know when you'll be called upon to provide care for a loved one--whether you're ready or not.

Because Americans are living longer today, the face of caregivers is changing. More of us are taking on this enormous responsibility at much younger ages. Not only is the face of caregiving changing, but also the responsibilities and type of care provided, and many Americans aren't ready.

In fact, findings from the Many Faces of Caregiving Study recently released by the national nonprofit Easter Seals through the support of Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual) showed one-third of the country's younger generations--Millennial and GenX--already identify themselves as caregivers.

"Supporting caregivers is at the core of everything Easter Seals is about – it's in our DNA," says Jed Johnson, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives, Easter Seals. "Beyond providing services directly to people with special needs, Easter Seals has always been committed to providing supports and counsel to caregivers to let them know they aren't alone in what can be a challenging – yet rewarding – experience."

Perceptions vs. Realities 
While there is a misconception that most caregivers provide care to loved ones due to a physical condition (e.g., limited mobility, use of wheelchairs, rehabilitation), the Easter Seals' Many Faces of Caregiving Study showed 77 percent of caregivers actually provide care for emotional or mental health conditions, memory problems or dementia.

In addition, we often think of caregivers as women, but the study also showed that just as many men as women are stepping up to provide care to loved ones.

Not Quite Ready
 The majority of study respondents (70 percent) have not yet had the critical conversation with their families and loved ones about the future, as it relates to their life care planning. In addition, not even half (47 percent) of caregivers surveyed admit to being very satisfied with the care they are able to provide, reinforcing the need for continued support and education for all.

"There is clearly a need to increase efforts to help people understand the need for and to create a Life Care Plan," says John Chandler, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, MassMutual. "This is a topic of conversation we need to have earlier in life whether it be when people are in their 20s, 30s or 40s. It's never too early."

Caregiving Today
Caregiving looks different for everyone. Whether a young newlywed is taking care of her husband who was injured in war, a son or daughter taking care of aging or ailing parents, a sibling helping his or her brother or sister with Down syndrome, or a parent taking care of a child with autism or other disabilities, caregiving is pertinent to so many today.

"More than 42 million caregivers provide an estimated $450 billion in free, unpaid care annually to adults at any give point in time2," continues Johnson. "Easter Seals is here to support them as they make a tremendous contribution to their loved ones and our communities."

About Easter Seals - Easter Seals is the leading non-profit provider of services for individuals with autism, developmental disabilities, physical disabilities and other special needs. For nearly 100 years, we have been offering help, hope, and answers to children and adults living with disabilities, and to the families who love them. Through therapy, training, education and support services, Easter Seals creates life-changing solutions so that people with disabilities can live, learn, work and play. To learn more about Easter Seals and services in communities nationwide, visit www.easterseals.com.

About MassMutual - Founded in 1851, MassMutual is a leading mutual life insurance company that is run for the benefit of its members and participating policyowners.
MassMutual Financial Group is a marketing name for Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual) and its affiliated companies and sales representatives. MassMutual is headquartered in Springfield, Massachusetts and its major affiliates include: Babson Capital Management LLC; Baring Asset Management Limited; Cornerstone Real Estate Advisers LLC; The First Mercantile Trust Company; MassMutual International LLC; MML Investors Services, LLC, Member FINRA and SIPC; OppenheimerFunds, Inc.; and The MassMutual Trust Company, FSB.

1 Caregiving in the United States; National Alliance for Caregiving in collaboration with AARP. November 2009

2 Valuing the Invaluable: 2011 Update; The Growing Contributions and Costs of Family Caregiving; AARP Public Policy Institute

SOURCE: Easter Seals http://www.easterseals.com

Illinois has Two lawmakers with Disabilities facing off in U.S. Senate race

In Illinois we have 2 candidates with Disabilities for the U.S Senate, Incumbent Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and U,S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.). We will follow and update information, we will be posting information available, and we will be neutral in our reporting on the Illinois U.S. Senate election.
Jim at Ability Chicago Info.

U.S. Sen Mark Kirk
Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.)

as published by The Hill, By Jonathan Easley | March 30, 2015

The Illinois Senate race in 2016 could be the first to have two lawmakers with severe physical disabilities facing off.
Incumbent Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), who is up for reelection in 2016, is still recovering from a massive stroke he suffered in early 2012.
He's facing a challenge from a disabled Iraq War veteran, Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), who launched her Senate bid on Monday and is the front-runner to win the Democratic primary.
Duckworth lost both her legs in Baghdad in 2004, when the Blackhawk helicopter she was piloting was shot down.
Those physical disabilities have become integral parts of each candidate's biography and will likely play critical roles in their 2016 campaigns.
Kirk has introduced legislation to help stroke survivors and been one of the leading advocates for stroke research in the Senate. He has sought to highlight his recovery since he was first hospitalized in early 2012. 
He usually uses a wheelchair to get around Capitol Hill, and his speech is sometimes slurred. However, most of his motor skills have returned. He showcased his physical recovery in February, when he climbed to the top of the Hancock Center in downtown Chicago, one of the largest buildings in the country, as part of the “Hustle up the Hancock” charity event.

For Duckworth, the incident that took her legs shaped the image she promotes of a battle-hardened military veteran who can face down any challenge.

She was the first disabled female veteran elected to the House and recounted the story of the helicopter crash in a video announcing her Senate candidacy on Monday.

“In 2004, while flying a combat mission in Baghdad, an RPG tore through our cockpit, taking my legs and part of my arm with it,” Duckworth said. “The only reason I made it home was because of the heroism of my courageous buddies who risked their lives to save mine.
"I view my time now as a bonus, and that has allowed me to speak up without fear,” she added.
Duckworth and Kirk were both proponents of a United Nations treaty on International Disability Rights that the Senate has declined to ratify.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Betty Threatt, reportedly locked up her Son with Cerebral Palsy and no one noticed

Betty T. Threatt
thanks for public safety reporting to, 
The Washington Post, article By Keith L. Alexander and DeNeen L. Brown | March 29, 2015

When the mother dropped her 9-year-old son off at his father’s Washington home last June, the father was struck by the appearance of the boy, whom he had not seen in about a year. The child appeared to be malnourished. He had bruises and burn marks, and there were bits of duct tape stuck to his wrists and ankles, his father later told social workers.

Taurus Bulluck, 30, rushed his son to Children’s National Medical Center. Doctors determined the boy had 60 injuries, according to D.C. Superior Court documents. They called police.

Police said that over a period of three months, between March and June 2014, the boy’s mother and her then-boyfriend kept the child locked in a bedroom in their Southeast D.C. apartment as “punishment” for misbehaving. The mother later told police she was “embarrassed” because the boy has cerebral palsy, according to court papers. She also said she “hated” her son and blamed him for a miscarriage, the papers said.

The mother, Betty T. Threatt, 27, (photo) is to appear Monday before Judge Rhonda Reid Winston in D.C. Superior Court, and her attorney said in court that she intends to enter a plea deal with prosecutors. Neither side would discuss details of the agreement. Her former boyfriend, Lester O. Jackson, 52, rejected a plea offer and is to go to trial in July.

Court, police and social service documents, along with family interviews, present a harrowing tale of how the boy allegedly ended up locked away without anyone noticing. Bulluck told social workers that Threatt had stopped allowing him to see their son. When ­Threatt moved to the District from Prince George’s County in February 2014, she failed to enroll him in school, according to two officials with knowledge of the case. The boy’s grandmother said she eventually became so worried that she called social services.

Threatt, Jackson and their attorneys would not comment publicly, and Bulluck did not return repeated calls and messages left with family members.

Threatt told social workers that she was born to a mother who was addicted to crack cocaine, an allegation her mother declined to address. At age 9, Threatt was sent to an inpatient psychiatric facility for treatmentafter putting the family cat in a microwave and turning it on, according to social services documents. “I got meds for my anger and therapy,” she told a court-appointed psychologist recently. She said she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

Threatt said that a year after she returned home, she was raped by her mother’s boyfriend, an allegation that her mother denies. By the time she was 13, Threatt gave birth to the first of her five children.

‘I thought I could trust her’

The boy was the second-oldest of Threatt’s children. For the first few years of his life, he was raised by Threatt, his father and his paternal grandmother in Bulluck’s family home in the 300 block of Decatur Street NW. Threatt, Bulluck would tell a social worker, “moved in and out” of the house several times during the boy’s early years, then finally left for good, leaving Bulluck and his mother to raise the boy.

When his mother died in 2013, Bulluck told social workers, he felt he could no longer care for his son and sent the boy to live with ­Threatt. “I thought I could trust her,” Bulluck told a D.C. social worker, according to a 28-page document prepared on Oct. 23.

Bulluck said he visited his son at Threatt’s apartment on weekends for a year, according to the report. But Bulluck lost contact with Threatt after she began dating Jackson and eventually moved, according to the social services report. Threatt would not give him her new address, he told social workers, and allowed him to speak with his son only with the phone on speaker.

As 2014 wore on, Bulluck became more concerned about his son’s whereabouts, according to the report.

He told a social worker that Threatt told him she had sent the boy to live with his maternal grandmother. The grandmother, Lora Brighthaupt, 56, said in an interview that it wasn’t true. She said she, too, became worried about the boy last year.

In February 2014, Threatt and Jackson moved with the boy and his three younger siblings from Temple Hills, in Prince George’s, to the District. Police said that soon after the move, the couple began locking the boy in a bedroom and withholding food.

According to the police charging document, Threatt received about $700 a month for her son as part of his government disability check. She told social workers she also received about $732 a month in Social Security for her disability.

Threatt told police she had Jackson change the locks on the boy’s bedroom so it locked from the outside, according to the charging documents. She also told authorities that she struck the boy with a belt and that she and Jackson wrapped the boy’s ankles and wrists with duct tape, the documents state.

Sometime over the next few months, Bulluck and Brighthaupt both began searching for the boy, according to Brighthaupt. “I hadn’t seen my grandson in four months. My family hadn’t seen him. There had to be something wrong,” she said.

Brighthaupt said she contacted D.C. Public Schools but got no answers. She said she and Bulluck later went to a school where she thought the boy was enrolled. “They would not allow us to come in the building and check and see if he was there,” she said.

Eventually, Brighthaupt said, she called the D.C. Child and Family Services Agency. A spokes­woman for the agency declined to comment on whether an investigation was launched.

Bulluck would later tell a social worker that he thought Brighthaupt’s call prompted Threatt to drop their son off at his home on June 18.

After her arrest a few days later, Threatt’s three younger children, ages 1, 4 and 7, were placed in foster care. It is unclear who had been caring for her oldest daughter. A neglect case has been filed against Threatt involving the younger children.
More than a week in hospital

When the boy was 5, he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, which mostly affected his left hand, according to the social worker’s report. After her arrest, Threatt told a detective that she was “ashamed” of her oldest son. Social workers did not detail any signs of physical abuse of Threatt’s other children.

Prior to her arrest last June, Threatt had little contact with police. In 2009, D.C. Superior Court records show Threatt was arrested for driving without a license. In 2012, she was arrested for assaulting her landlord and was ordered into anger management classes.

Threatt’s family blames Jackson for the alleged abuse. “My daughter wasn’t like that until she met” Jackson, Brighthaupt said. “She wasn’t into drugs. She didn’t drink; she didn’t do nothing. I’m not saying it was anybody’s fault. I’m just saying my daughter was not like that before she met that man.”

Threatt’s sister, Asia Brighthaupt, 30, said, “It was the man, the dude my sister was with, who made her do those things.”

Jackson, who has a 1-year-old with Threatt and adult children ages 34, 27 and 22, told a social worker that he and Threatt dated for about four years and that the relationship was “up and down.”

In 1992, Jackson was arrested for handgun possession. The outcome of that case is not clear. Prosecutors also allege that Jackson, while in the couple’s apartment, pulled out a handgun, pointed it at his head in front of Threatt and the children and said he would pull the trigger.

The boy, now 10, spent more than a week in the hospital, where he was treated for his injuries and monitored by the psychiatric unit. “Mr. Bulluck was practically living at the hospital with his son, attending team meetings, attending therapy session (both physical and mental) to learn how to care for his son post-discharge,” the social worker wrote.

Later, the child received therapy, working on walking long distances, climbing stairs and his speech.

A teacher told a social worker in October that the boy, now in the third grade in a Southeast elementary school, was “clingy” and that there was some concern about his performing at grade level. But overall, the teacher said, the boy was “doing well.”

The boy’s grandmother said he was “excellent” and likes football and basketball. “He doesn’t talk about what happened,” Brighthaupt said.

Bulluck told social workers that he is now focused on raising his son.

“It’s all about school, video games and getting back to normal,” he told the social worker.

As for what police say happened with his son’s mother, “I will teach him to respect her, because she is his mother, but never to forget,” he said.

Julie Tate and Jennifer Jenkins contributed to this report.

EEOC Seeks Public Input on Plan to Review its Significant Regulations, includes employment of People with Disabilities

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission


EEOC Seeks Public Input on Plan to Review its Significant Regulations

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today that it is inviting the public to provide input on its ongoing review of significant existing EEOC regulations to determine whether they should be modified, streamlined, expanded, or repealed.  The review is conducted pursuant to Executive Order (EO) 13563, "Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review," found at 76 Fed. Reg. 3821 (Jan. 21, 2011). 
Comments may be submitted to Public.Comments.RegulatoryReview@eeoc.gov through April 20, 2015.
Executive Order 13563 directed federal agencies to develop preliminary plans for periodically reviewing significant regulations.  The goal is to make agencies' regulatory programs more effective in achieving their regulatory objectives and less burdensome to the public.
In July 2011, the EEOC developed a Final Plan for Retrospective Review of Significant Regulations.  The EEOC has since submitted Retrospective Regulatory Review status reports semi-annually, at the request of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB).  In its most recent timeline for retrospective review, published today, the EEOC projects the agency's retrospective regulatory review activities through 2023.
The EEOC invites members of the public to provide feedback on the following questions:
  • Which regulations and/or reporting requirements should the EEOC consider for review, modification, streamlining, expansion or elimination, and why?
  • Are any EEOC regulations and/or reporting requirements outdated, ineffective, insufficient, inconsistent, redundant, duplicative or excessively burdensome? 
  • Are there alternative regulatory approaches for particular EEOC regulations and/or reporting requirements that would reduce the burden on regulated entities while maintaining the same level of protection for applicants, employees, employers, employment agencies, federal agencies, and unions?  If so, please describe.
The EEOC welcomes feedback on these or any other retrospective regulatory review matters within the EEOC's jurisdiction.
Public input on the EEOC's retrospective regulatory review efforts may be submitted to Public.Comments.RegulatoryReview@eeoc.gov through April 20, 2015.  Regarding any EEOC regulations currently open for public comment, we encourage members of the public to submit comments through the appropriate page at www.regulations.gov.
Comments may be disclosed to the public.  While private or personally identifying infor­mation will be redacted, please do not include any information in submitted comments that you would not want made public.
For additional information regarding the EEOC's retrospective review of significant regulations, see http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/regulations/comment_retrospective.cfm.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination.  More information about the EEOC can be obtained at www.eeoc.gov.  

U.S. Army Senior leaders encounter a unique mission, Defense Dept. 'Disability Employment Program'

Courtesy Photo
Army Col. D.D. Mayfield, Defense Contract Management Agency Chicago commander, visits with employees of ORC Industries, in LaCrosse, Wis. The contractor, whose mission is to provide people with disabilities opportunities for gainful employment, is a long-time supplier of clothing and textile products to the armed forces.

nice article by Army Lt. Col. Matthew Phelps
DCMA Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE - Army Col. D. D. Mayfield, Defense Contract Management Agency Chicago commander, and members of his senior leadership team recently visited several strategic contractors in upper Wisconsin. The purpose was to engage on-site quality assurance specialists and contractor personnel to discuss the challenges of geographical offices and small-business warfighter support.

The visits all proved productive, but one experience stood out. ORC Industries in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, has been a long-time, consistent supplier of clothing and textile products to the armed forces. This historical description could define any number of government-small business relationships across America, but ORC’s story is unique. The contractor is a non-profit supplier with a mission to advance the independence, productivity and self-sufficiency of people with disabilities through employment opportunities, according to their mission statement.

“I think Department of Defense acquisitions through companies like ORC Industries show that efforts like the DoD Disability Employment Program are only a piece of the hiring, advancement, and retention of persons with disabilities,” said Mayfield. “The U.S. government’s energies go well beyond internal hiring processes and inject into the marketplace a continual effort to improve employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities and help break down the barriers often rooted in misinformation and misunderstandings about what it's like to live with a disability.”

Mayfield and other agency team members met with ORC employees and toured the factory floor. The contractor’s defense products include ponchos, the improved rain suit, soft shell jackets and pants, wind shirts, hard shell rain suits, field tarpaulins, tents, and they are the exclusive supplier of the Navy’s “Dixie cup” hat.

“This visit really exposed the great, but too-often unnoticed efforts, of our nation’s smaller companies who have for years played a vital role in supporting the warfighter,” said Mayfield.

Senior leaders from Chicago and Milwaukee also met with local agency personnel during the visit. Mike Wamsley, DCMA Milwaukee quality assurance representative, and his team members manage 48 open delivery orders from Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support valued at more than $15.3 million supplying in excess of 104,000 clothing and textile products.

“Mike excels at tailoring his surveillance approach to match the capabilities, personality and pace of the company while ensuring the agency’s mission of being the independent eyes and ears of DoD and its partners,” said Mayfield. “The Wisconsin trip let me see first-hand the challenges our geographical offices and personnel have executing contract oversight and ensuring the terms and conditions of their cognizant contracts.”

Mayfield also said that he is impressed everyday by DCMA Chicago and Milwaukee acquisition professionals because they “illustrate a depth and versatility in both functional expertise and personal communication that drives contract management office success in delivering global acquisition insight that matters.”


IRS Various Services for People with Disabilities

Disability.gov; By Guest Blogger Kathy Davis, a Lead Senior Communications Specialist in the Wage and Investment Division of the Internal Revenue Service 

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) understands the growing need to ensure individuals with disabilities receive equal access to tax assistance and financial education information. We have established guidance, programs and policies to support taxpayers with disabilities, as we are aware that they face unique challenges when attempting to meet tax obligations.
To address these challenges, the IRS provides many services that help all taxpayers – and those with disabilities often find these services particularly helpful.

Free Tax Preparation Services:

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (VITA/TCE) programs offer free tax return preparation generally to people who make $53,000 or less. IRS-trained volunteers provide free service along with electronic filing to qualified taxpayers.
The IRS community partners host VITA/TCE tax return preparation sites across the country, helping those who cannot do their own returns or afford paid preparers. Last year, our VITA/TCE sites prepared more than 3.6 million tax returns. This resulted in nearly $4 billion in refunds. Taxpayers who took advantage of this free service also saved money in return preparation fees. More than 500,000 of the 3.6 million returns were prepared for people with disabilities.
To find nearby VITA or TCE locations, visit:www.irs.gov/Individuals/Free-Tax-Return-Preparation-for-You-by-Volunteers or use the Locator Tool. You can also call 800-906-9887 FREE or download the IRS2Go App, which is available in English and Spanish. The app provides features to help taxpayers check on the status of their tax refunds, obtain tax records, find free tax preparation providers and stay connected with the IRS through social media channels like YouTube and Twitter. More than half of all visitors to the Where’s My Refund? page on IRS.gov were mobile users. iPhone and iTouch users can update or download the free IRS2Go app by visiting the iTunes App Store. Android users can visit Google Play to download the free IRS2Go app.

Important Tax Credits and Filing Tips:

There are several tax credits available to people with disabilities. The first is the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Last year, more than 27 million taxpayers received more than $65 billion. The average amount of the EITC paid out in 2013 was $2,335 and lifted an estimated 6.5 million people out of poverty, including 3.3 million children. Estimates show 20 percent of Americans who qualify for the credit do not claim it. Research also shows there are approximately 1.5 million people with disabilities who did not file a tax return, but may be eligible for this credit. Many of the people who do not file are below the income threshold that requires them to file a tax return; however, the only way to receive this credit is to file a federal tax return. You must have earned income to receive this credit. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) are not considered earned income.
Child and Dependent Care Expenses are another tax credit often overlooked by people with disabilities. Many individuals and families use this credit when they have children under the age of 13 enrolled in a qualifying daycare or babysitter facility. However, if the person being cared for is physically or mentally unable to care for himself, which means the qualifying person cannot dress, clean or feed himself because of physical or mental disabilities, there is no age limitation as long as one spouse is working. Individuals who must have constant attention/care to prevent injury to themselves or others are also considered not able to care for themselves.
Individuals with disabilities are often concerned that a tax refund will impact their eligibility for one or more public benefits, including Social Security disability benefits, Medicaid and Food Stamps. The law is clear that tax refunds, including refunds from tax credits such as the EITC, shall not be taken into account as income for purposes of determining eligibility for benefits. Tax refunds and credits shall not count as resources for a period of 12 months from receipt of the refund. This applies to any federal program and/or any state or local program financed in whole or in part with federal funds.
The safest and fastest way anyone can get their tax refund is by filing electronically and choosing direct deposit. Refunds can be a great way to invest in your financial future. You can direct deposit your refund into one checking or savings account or split your refund into two or three checking or savings accounts and purchase U.S. Savings Bonds using Form 8888, Allocation of Refund (Including Savings Bond Purchases). Buying savings bonds with your refund is a great way to begin or increase your overall savings.

Resources Available on IRS.gov:

The IRS’ Alternative Media Center ensures the IRS adheres to laws designed to enhance access to government information by members of the disability community. The Alternative Media Center also works diligently to provide alternative media resources to customers with disabilities through the IRS.gov website.
Hundreds of accessible federal tax forms and publications are available for download from the IRS Accessibility page. Visit IRS.gov, select the “Forms & Pubs” tab and then the “Accessible” tab to access the accessible forms and publications. You can choose from large-print, text, accessible PDFs, e-Braille or HTML formats that are compatible with screen readers and refreshable Braille displays. The IRS also provides American Sign Language videos with the latest tax informationPublication 907Tax Highlights for Persons with Disabilities, explains the tax implications of certain disability benefits and other issues.

About the Guest Blogger

Kathy Davis is an IRS lead senior communications specialist in the Wage and Investment Division. In this position, she is responsible for outreach communications to all individual taxpayers. One of her primary responsibilities is working closely with the staff that oversees and administers the free tax preparation programs known as VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) and TCE (Tax Counseling for the Elderly). She works to ensure the public is aware of these available services and what they have to offer. Kathy has been with the IRS for 30 years serving in various technical and non-technical positions.

For More on Disability Information, visit Disability.gov

Friday, March 27, 2015

Kansas Special Needs H.S. Student told he can't wear Varsity Letter Jacket -Online Petition

wow guess I'm glad I'm not in this part of Kansas.

report from KSN.COM, by Craig Andres | March 26, 2015
WICHITA, Kansas – A Wichita woman claims her special needs son was asked to remove his letter jacket at school.

The student, Michael Kelley, has Down Syndrome and autism. Kelley is not a varsity athlete but participates in extra-curricular special needs basketball.

His family bought him a varsity letter like the other kids wear, but recently, his mother says he was asked to not wear the jacket.

Turns out, the letter is an official Wichita East High School varsity letter, and East High says he is not supposed to have that letter.

KSN talked to his mother Jolinda Kelley. She says Michael, her adopted son, is one of a kind and loves to play basketball.
When he was recognized for participating, Jolinda bought a varsity letter and put that letter on the jacket.

She was shocked when she says he was asked at school to take the jacket off.

“Another parent, from what I am told, was upset that my son was wearing his letter jacket.”

The mother claims her son was asked to take that jacket off and was given a sweat shirt to wear instead.

The family says it was told only varsity teams can wear the letter according to East High’s policy.
East High Principal Ken Thiessen says, “Teachers told the parents they would prefer he not wear the letter on his jacket.”

Thiessen pointed out his special needs teachers do a lot of volunteer work, like organizing basketball games, and he appreciates their efforts.

KSN also asked Thiessen if the school would consider giving a varsity letter to special needs kids.

“We have considered it, and our decision was no. We decided that is not appropriate in our situation because it is not a varsity level competition.”

Thiessen says his building decided varsity letters would be for varsity letter winners only. KSN found out that there is no district-wide policy in Wichita.

The family turned to J. Means, USD 259’s Athletic Director. He told the family that when he was the athletic director at Northwest High their policy was to allow special needs students to earn letters, just like other athletes.

KSN reached out to school board members to ask if they would consider making a district-wide policy.

“I would definitely be willing to look at it and be sure that kids are being treated fairly,” said Lynn Rogers, USD 259 Board Member.

As for Jolinda, she says she understands each school can make the rules, but she wants to see a rule change.

“It’s not just my son. It’s every student that was out there last night. It’s every student that’s there on Fridays that plays their hardest and to the best of their capability regardless what that is.”

KSN reached out to USD 259 Superintendent John Allison. He was in meetings today.

East High will celebrate the varsity basketball team winning state this year, and the team will be recognized by the school board Monday night.

KSN will continue to follow this story and will be at the meeting to ask school board members about special needs students and varsity letters.


The Chicago Lighthouse celebrates over 100 years serving people who are blind or visually impaired, purchase a Personalized Commemorative Brick!

wonderful idea to help The Chicago Lighthouse for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired celebrating over 100 years of serving the community! 

As The Chicago Lighthouse celebrates more than 100 years of serving people who are blind or visually impaired, you can help us pave the way into our next century of service.
By purchasing a personalized commemorative brick, your gift will help support the existing and future state-of-the-art programs for thousands of people who walk through our doors every year. Your brick will be prominently placed in the Children’s Garden at the front of our main campus, and will be a lasting reminder of your support of The Chicago Lighthouse. The engraved bricks can be purchased for yourself or in honor or memory of friends or loved ones.
Your one-time donation to The Chicago Lighthouse will make a lasting impression.
Engraved bricks are available in three different sizes and price levels.
4"x 8" Commemorative Brick
$250: 3 lines of text, 12 characters per line
8"x 8" Commemorative Brick
$500: 5 lines of text, 12 characters per line
12"x 12" Commemorative Brick
$1,000: 6 lines of text, larger lettering, 12 characters per line, prominent location in garden
Return completed form and payment to:
The Chicago Lighthouse
1850 W. Roosevelt Road
Chicago, IL 60608
For more information, call Cacia Sit at 312-997-1331 x3137 or email cacia.sit@chicagolighthouse.org.
For The Chicago Lighthouse website: http://chicagolighthouse.org/

Illinois Action Alert: Fight for Disability Community Based Services!

Action Alert as shared from Access Living on the Illinois 2016 Budget Cuts we are facing - Please Take Action!

Dear Access Living friends and allies,
We have an action alert for you to do today, plus a recap of this week!
First, we’d like to call on you to take action at this link to let our legislature’s leaders know that we CANNOT keep taking cutbacks to key community services like independent living, mental health supports, home services, and public transit.  One email will automatically send to the top six leaders in this budget fight; you can CALL them too at their district offices:
Senate President John Cullerton (D) (773) 883-0770
Senate Minority Leader Christine Christine Radogno (R) (630) 243-0800
Senate Appropriations I Chair Heather Steans (D) (773) 769-1717
House Speaker Michael Madigan (D) (773) 581-8000
House Minority Leader Jim Durkin (R) (630) 325-2028
Human Services-Appropriations Chair Greg Harris (D) (773) 348-3434
Every email and every call is recorded by their staff in the constituent records, and the leaders check to see how many people are contacting them.  Can you make this happen TODAY?
The reason this is so important is because this week, the General Assembly passed a bill to fix the giant hole in last year’s budget, which did not have enough money to finish the year.  There was a 2.25% across the board cut for most items (with an exception for some mental health and developmental disabilities programs), and big cuts to “special state funds.”  Not a pretty bill, but it is done and anyone who gets state funding is figuring out the impact now.
Because that has now passed, it is time to bear down to fight for next year’s budget, the one that begins onJuly 1 of this year, which is what the Governor’s proposal has been about.  The legislative leaders REALLY need to hear from YOU about your concerns for disability supports.  The good news is, people with disabilities ROCKED the Capitol this week!
On Wednesday, about 30 Access Living community members joined 300 other folks with Going Home Illinois for an amazing rally in the Capitol Rotunda.  It happened to be the MS Society’s lobby day too so there were LOTS of people there visiting legislative offices to fight for disability issues.  The Going Home Coalition called on Governor Rauner to close six of Illinois’ seven large state-operated developmental centers, or institutions, for people with developmental disabilities.  They operate at a total cost of $429 million to the state to serve 1,730 people; those 1,730 people could be served in the community at a cost of $92 million. Kudos to the advocates for taking a stand! You did a wonderful job.
So please, help us build on the good work this week by contacting the six leaders RIGHT NOW!
Let’s go Illinois!
Amber Smock
Director of Advocacy, Access LIving

For ACCESS LIVING, visit: https://www.accessliving.org/