Home Articles posted by jermaine

Thank You

Some of you may have gotten our holiday mailing requesting donations for the purchase of an Interactive Display. And to those of you who have donated, thank you. And to those who haven’t, there’s still time.

The donations in conjunction with a grant from the Community Foundation of East Central Illinois have gone a long way towards putting us in a position to purchase this piece of technology which will allow our consumers with a wide-range of disabilities to more easily communicate and collaborate on a single device, instead of each group having a device which works only for their particular disability.

We can’t possibly convey to the Community Foundation and you-our supporters how much the overwhelming support towards this effort has meant in allowing us to meet the challenges of expanding service needs and increasing technological and fiscal demands.


Support Groups & You

by Bruce Meissner Ph.D

Today I’d like to talk a bit about support groups, how they work and how they can help.

Whether you’re dealing with a chronic illness or disability, emotional problem, life transition, or just want to learn more about a particular issue, your community may have a group where you can come together with people in similar situations and develop strategies and other interventions that can help you deal with these personal and sometimes complex issues.

Support groups give encouragement, a level of intimacy and camaraderie, particularly during difficult times. As face-to-face interactions within the community are becoming more and more scarce, support or self help group comprised of people in the same situation may help fill that void. Over the past 25 years, there has been a huge increase in the number of support groups in the United States. Today there are several hundred’s of distinctly different types of support and self help groups in our Country.

Although support can vary greatly, some common themes shared by all is that they are places where people can share personal stories, express emotions, and be heard in an atmosphere of acceptance, understanding and encouragement. Consumers share information, resources, and engage in peer counseling. By helping others, group members commonly feel strengthened and empowered themselves though the process. Besides furnishing support, some groups also focus on community education and advocacy.
Here at PACE we try to address many important and sometimes personal issues in our low vision support groups. Our groups discuss general issues surrounding vision loss and blindness, along with specific issues such as magnification, home safety, transportation, activities of daily living, advocacy and much much more.

All are welcome to attend our groups and we encourage you to tell family and friends about us.
Group Schedule
1. Piatt Co. (Monticello), the “See You” low vision group meets the 1st Tuesday of the month at Maple Point Assisted Living Center in Monticello from 1:30-3p
1000 N Union Drive, Monticello IL
2. Champaign Co. (Urbana), the “East Central Illinois” (ECI) low vision group meets the 1st Wednesday of the month here in Urbana at PACE Inc. from 1:30-3p
1317 E. Florida Avenue, Urbana IL
3. Champaign Co. (Rantoul), the “Prairie Village” low vision group meets the 3rd Friday of the month at the Prairie Village Retirement Community from 1-2p
200 International Drive, Rantoul IL
4.Vermilion Co. (Danville), “VIPIO” (Visually Impaired Persons Inspiring Others) low vision group meets the 4th Monday of the month at the Danville Public Library from 1:30 -3p
319 N. Vermilion Street, Danville, IL
5. Edgar Co. (Paris), the “Edgar” low vision support group meets quarterly (every 3 months) on the 4th Wednesday of the month at the Paris Public Library from 1:30-2:30
207 S. Main Street Paris, IL
6..Champaign Co. (Savoy), the “Windsor of Savoy” low vision support group meets the 4th Friday of the month at the Windsor of Savoy Independent and Assisted Living Community from 10:30-11:30
401 Burwash Avenue, Savoy IL
7. Douglas Co. (Tuscola) “White Caners” low vision support group, is currently being reestablished and we hope to have news of new meeting day/time for this group in the near future. Announcements will be made.

Remember everyone is welcome and if you have any questions about these groups feel free to contact Bruce Meissner Ph.D., CRC, Coordinator of Visual Impairment Services at PACE Inc. Center for Independent Living. Thank you and I hope to see you soon.

Visual Impairment Services

PACE welcomes Bruce Meissner as the newest member of our team, and asks you to welcome him as the new Coordinator of Visual Impairment Services. Bruce returns to PACE after getting his P.h.D in Rehabilitation Science from Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

During his PACE career, Bruce has worked with Judy West as an intern the the Visual Imapairment Services program, and has also worked with Hadley in the Personal Assistant Program

If you or anyone you know is experiencing vision loss due to a new or worsening condition, accident, or for any other reason, Bruce would be happy to meet with you to discuss how PACE might be able to help with assistive technology, skills training, peer counseling, or a support group.

In any case, please contact Bruce at 217-344-5433(voice), 217-689-0289(video), or by email at bruce@pacecil.org.

Sheltered Employment, and the Pay Scale

Recently, discussion around the office was sparked by this blog post from “The Hill”


By Dr. Fredric K. Schroeder – 07/30/13 10:00 AM ET

For most of human history, society has believed that people with disabilities are incapable of productive work. This was the belief in 1938, when Congress exempted employers of workers with disabilities from paying their workers the federal minimum wage. Since then, attitudes about workers with disabilities have slowly changed, and our nation’s laws and policies have changed with them. Recognizing that Americans with disabilities could work and make a living, Congress passed the Rehabilitation Act in 1973. This historic law recognized that people with disabilities should not be discriminated against in employment and strengthened a system, funded by the federal government and administered through state agencies, that prepares Americans with disabilities for competitive employment in the mainstream workforce.

Despite this important policy shift, however, the provision of federal law allowing certain employers to pay workers with disabilities less than the federal minimum wage remains in place. Although many Americans with disabilities receive the training and opportunity they need to find jobs that are both personally and financially rewarding, some 400,000 workers with disabilities remain trapped in segregated, subminimum wage employment in what is called the “sheltered workshop” system. Many of these workers have intellectual disabilities and are placed in sheltered workshops by their legal guardians out of misplaced compassion and the outdated belief that disabled people can’t really work. This is no longer justifiable for any reason, if it ever was; it is discriminatory and immoral. The National Federation of the Blind, on whose board I serve, and fifty other organizations of people with disabilities support legislation that would repeal the obscure provision of the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act that keeps this unconscionable practice alive.

Until now, people with disabilities and their advocates have managed to keep the rehabilitation system legally walled off from the separate and unequal subminimum wage employment system. When I served as commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration during the Clinton administration, we issued regulations ending the practice of rehabilitation agencies placing individuals with disabilities in segregated, subminimum wage jobs and counting them as successful employment outcomes. Imagine my dismay when the latest reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act, which contains the reauthorization of the Rehabilitation Act, was introduced and referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (the HELP Committee) with language—in a new Section 511—that would allow rehabilitation agencies to place workers in subminimum wage employment.

The effort to pass this legislation is being led by HELP Committee Chairman Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and ranking member Sen Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), who claim that they have introduced this new provision to curtail the placement of young people in subminimum wage jobs. Harkin has good reason to want to stop this practice—one of the most shocking and shameful instances of subminimum wage employment was exposed in his state a couple of years ago. A turkey processing operation was paying men with intellectual disabilities forty-one cents an hour and housing them in an unheated, roach-infested “bunkhouse.” I do not doubt Harkin’s sincerity, but I do question his method of trying to stop it from happening again.

Section 511 purports to permit placement in subminimum wage work only as part of training for later competitive employment, with a review of the worker’s status required every six months. But this approach would merely write subminimum wages into the Rehabilitation Act—where there has never before been any language authorizing subminimum wages. Sheltered workshops often claim that they are training their workers, but we know from sad experience and extensive study that 95 percent of the workers who enter sheltered workshops never leave them. Section 511 does nothing but require a rehabilitation counselor to certify that a worker is in “training” every six months. This proposal will simply make the rehabilitation system complicit in the exploitation of disabled workers from the time they are old enough to leave school—or possibly earlier—until they die.

The way to end discrimination against and exploitation of workers with disabilities is to stop allowing the payment of subminimum wages. A bill being considered in the House of Representatives, the Fair Wages for Workers with Disabilities Act, would do this responsibly.Sabotaging the Rehabilitation Act by placing language in it that allows rehabilitation agencies to place workers in sheltered workshops, even with purported restrictions, won’t work, and in fact will make the situation worse. When the HELP Committee considers this legislation on Wednesday, Section 511 should be stripped from the bill.

Schroeder served as commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration under President Bill Clinton from 1994 until 2001. He is currently first vice president of the National Federation of the Blind and a research professor for the San Diego State University Research Foundation.


Below is my response to the post

While it may be fundamentally unfair for these provisions to exist for the disabled, a couple of real world issues exist: Most of the jobs which a large number of these sheltered workshops perform could be easily automated or outsourced, and having this wage structure is the only thing keeping the companies who enter into these agreements with agencies like DSC from using one of these options.

Truly, these provisions shouldn’t exist, but the truth is that: if they didn’t, the jobs probably wouldn’t exist here at all.

The follow-up question might be: would the people in these workshops be better off following some other avenue (i.e. college programs)? But then again, some of the college programs for people who might otherwise be in one of these workshops have been described as “nothing but warehousing.”

While philosophically, it’s easy to come out absolutely opposed to these things (which I do), there are real world questions which must be answered about what truly happens to the people who have these jobs, and I don’t think the answer is “They’d still have the job, but with better pay.”

So while the carve out seems repugnant, maybe it’s necessary???


So what’s your opinion, where should the act go, and what are the alternatives?


While the Americans with Disabilities Ace is paving the way for great changes in the lives of us with various disabilities, and deserves celebration, does anyone consider the people who fought for it? To me, the strength, courage, persistence and forward-thinking of the men and women who sacrificed to  make the lives of future generations of people like themselves deserves as much attention as the benefits of the law itself.

For many of us, the idea of being militant, standing up for what we believe or know to be right despite its challenges, — legal and otherwise, — may seem impossible, and even frightening. Many of us have been taught, by society as well as by family perhaps, to not make waves, to be noticed as little as possible. In short, to be invisible.

The movers and shakers who brought about the creation and passing of the ADA weren’t just professionals; they came from all walks of life, and risked whatever was important to them to make things happen.

So, along with recognizing the value of the law itself, let’s celebrate the lives, efforts and power of the people who made it happen, and hope that, like them, we may live with courage, caring and a vision of what the future can hold for all of us.




The Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities in Illinois (CCDI) is responsible for providing the leadership, education, information, and planning required to support grassroots organizing efforts in Illinois.   CCDI also hosts an annual meeting and carries out other projects as directed by the Board. The Executive Director is accountable to the CCDI Board of Directors and is responsible for administration and coordination of all of the organization’s activities. He/she communicates with partner organizations and with Illinois officials and legislators regarding the rights of Illinois residents with disabilities.

Qualifications: Personal experience with disability and commitment to the Independent Living philosophy and advocacy for the rights of persons with disabilities very important. Bachelor’s degree or equivalent disability rights/independent living experience plus at least three years administrative experience required. The successful candidate will have strong communication skills, a demonstrated history of leadership, and knowledge of not-for-profit guidelines.

To apply, send cover letter, resume and names and phone numbers of at least three professional references by March 29, 2013. Applications may be sent electronically in Microsoft Word to the Search Committee to: scil@scil.org.   Applications may also be delivered or mailed (postmarked no later than March 29, 2013) to:

Search Committee

Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities in Illinois

3 West Old State Capitol Plaza

Suite 1

Springfield, IL 62701

No phone calls please

PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES, MINORITIES AND VETERANS ARE STRONGLY ENCOURAGED TO APPLY.   CCDI is committed to a diverse workforce through affirmative action and equal opportunity. Accommodations available upon request for interview.

Transportation: Arenas of Advocacy

Very few topics touch all of our lives like that of transportation—After all, this topic shapes how we get work and school, how our friends and family come to us,  and how we all get to the most important parts of our lives.

The importance of this issue is why PACE is committed to being a strong voice in the area of transportation, and why it is necessary for all of us to remain up-to-date on the most recent developments in this arena.

One such development is the Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP); The LRTP is one of the documents which will play a large part in determining how the Champaign-Urbana metropolitan area develops all the way to 2040.

The first opportunity for you to get involved, learn about the LRTP, and give your opinion on things we might not be thinking about will be on Wednesday, February 27 at 5PM on the fourth floor of Illinois Terminal. At this event, you will get to view the informational video, witness the unveiling of the interactive website, and meet with the people developing the plan. We encourage all of you to come and be a part of this important piece of CU’s continued growth.

The other major transportation arena PACE is involved in is the Human Services Transportation Plan (HSTP). The HSTP is a gathering of social service agencies, transportation providers, and state agencies in Champaign, Clark, Coles, Cumberland, DeWitt, Douglas, Edgar, Macon, Moultrie, Piatt, Shelby, & Vermilion counties.

The HSTP is concerned with building a unified transportation network across this vast expanse in which those with disabilities and those individuals with limited income can travel seamlessly. The HSTP is focused on ensuring that riders have access to the recreational, employment, and health resources which exist in East Central Illinois.

In both of these arenas, PACE is advocating on behalf of our consumers, and working to ensure that the Champaign-Urbana metropolitan area and indeed all of East Central Illinois is an inclusive community which works for all of its residents. We encourage you to watch for updates on the HSTP, and definitely attend the LRTP Kickoff meeting on Wednesday, February 27th.

Community Reintegration

The Community Reintegration Program is designed to reintegrate individuals between the ages of 18 – 59 who are interested in moving back into the community from a nursing facility setting, and are only barred by their financial situation from doing so.

The Community Reintegration Program is intended to be a one-time process to help with the initial set up of basic living arrangements, as well as linkages to services needed to live independently.

What the Community Reintegration Program can do for nursing home residents:

–         Locate and secure affordable housing

–         Assist with the first month’s rent and deposit

–         Provide household items

–         Provide assistive equipment and devices

–         Arrange home remodeling for safe living environment

–         Provide training in independent living skills

–         Make referrals of personal assistant services

–         Provide personal assistant management training

–         Provide case management

–         Provide advocacy and peer support

For more information about the Community Reintegration Program contact Chris Bott or Sherry Longcor at 217-344-5433

The Dignity of Risk

What if you never got the chance to make a mistake?

What if your money was kept in an envelope where you couldn’t get to it?

What if you never got a chance to be good at something?

What if you were always treated like a child?

What if your only chance to be with people different from people like you was with your own family?

What if the job you did was not useful?

What if you never got to make a decision?

What if the only risky thing you could do was to act out?

What if you couldn’t go outside, because the last time you did, it rained?

What if you took the bus once and got lost, and now you can’t take another one?

What if you got into trouble and were sent away, and you couldn’t come back because they always remembered you were “trouble?”

What if you worked and got paid 46 cents an hour?

What if you had to wear your winter coat when it rained no matter how hot it was because it was all you had?

What if you never had privacy?

What if you could do part of the grocery shopping, but weren’t allowed to do any of it becuase you couldn’t do all of the shopping?

What if you spent three hours every day just waiting?

What if you grew old an never knew adulthood?

What if you never got a change?



The Table Of Life

So being a foodie, I tend to see many things in an epicurean context, and services for people with disabilities in the Champaign-Urbana area are no different.

When we look at the traditional model for serving those with disabilities, agencies tend to be like that stuffy place where they have a pre-set menu, and they look at you weird if you want to leave off the shallots, or have your steak cooked to medium.

But at PACE on the other hand, offers people  with disabilities in Champaign, Douglas, Edgar, Piatt, and Vermilion counties a wide range of individual ingredients to choose from, and the consumer (person with a disability) builds their own meal.

This idea of a consumer controlled experience makes PACE unique in the East Central Illinois communities which we serve, and is a reason for the success which we enjoy every day in watching people take joy in directing the path of their own lives.

To keep the model vibrant, and the selection varied, PACE needs your help to keep the bins of ingredients stocked, and the chef’s around to whip up the creations of the consumer. Thus, your donation will help PACE fight this era of cutbacks, and will help maintain the table space for our consumers.




Rental Rebates


Because a lot of rental properties and their schedules are directly tied to the university’s schedule, many housing options have been devoured. But all this means is—Opportunity.

It’s housing season in Champaign-Urbana, and landlords are busy reviewing, refreshing, and remodeling their apartments, duplexes, houses, and townhouses. And during this time, it is important for permanent residents to take an inventory of their housing needs, and be prepared to jump on the opportunities which will make themselves apparent over the coming months.

Over the coming months, newspapers and websites will be full of landlords and tenants offering specials for unused space. From the landlord’s perspective, they don’t want empty properties, and thus will begin to offer rental specials as school gets back into session, and they see that the last minute renters haven’t filled their vacancies.

From the tenant side of the coin, there are always a fairly large number of students who either rent too much space, or simply are not using the space at all. Sometimes, they find new places to live with friends, they don’t comeback, or get kicked out of school.

In any case, they will try to sublet at least a bedroom to attempt to reduce the amount of their expenses, or their overall loss. But in these cases, remember that they are the ones who want something from you, and that they should be willing to give you a deal to help them out.

Once upon a time, I personally got two months of my rent paid for by subletting from a student who decided not to return. But in any case, the moral of the story is; Pay attention for the next several months, there will be deals for the smart shopper as we head through the summer and into early fall.

Change font size