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Weekly Resource: Blink Health

Submitted by Nancy McClellan Hickey, PACE, Inc. Executive Director

For today’s Weekly Resource, we’re discussing Blink Health.

About 1/3 of prescriptions are not picked up because the person prescribed the medication cannot
afford it. Prices of prescriptions vary immensely an example is Lipitor. It can range in price from $163.54 to $26.59. With a service that groups patients and leverages their buying power, Blink Health, it can cost as low as $9.94. Prilosec typically costs $19.61 and in Blink it is $6.94.
Blink Health is free app and website (blinkhealth.com) that lets you find the lowest price of 15,000
generic drugs, pay that low price within the Blink App and pick the prescription up at your pharmacy.
There is no membership fee, no monthly cost. There are 60,000 participating pharmacies including
Walgreens, CVS, Target and Walmart. You can save up to 99% on prescriptions.

This is a relatively new endeavor and it is in the first stages. Generic drugs are first, then eventually it will do the same with over the counter drugs. Blink does not coordinate with insurance and you must talk to your insurance company to determine if Blink payments count towards your deductible.

Dr. Oz featured the app on one of his shows and Forbes has also made mention of the unique
entrepreneurial venture.

Weekly Resource: Upcoming FREE Eye and Hearing Testing

Submitted by Kendra Schroder, Independent Living Coordinator

For today’s Weekly Resource, we’d like to share with you some information about a FREE health event coming up in our area! Thanks to the Lion’s Club and Promise Healthcare for making this happen!

Here is the information we received directly from Promise Healthcare:

The Champaign Lions Club and the Lions of Illinois Foundation will provide free Diabetic Retinopathy screenings to help detect early warning of diabetic retinopathy or possible macular degeneration of the eye. The screenings will take place on Thursday, June 9, from 9:30 am to 3:30 pm at Frances Nelson, 819 Bloomington Road in Champaign.

Anyone of any age may be tested, but it is especially important for adults of age 55 and up. If undetected, diabetic retinopathy can have severe visual consequences and even lead to blindness. The screening for diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration is a free service provided by the Lions of Illinois Foundation made possible by donations to local Lions Clubs and the Lions of Illinois Foundation.

The screenings are free and open to the general public. Individuals interested in having their eyes screened and/or hearing tested should register at Frances Nelson when they arrive for the test. Each test will take approximately five minutes and the results will be mailed to each individual. In some cases this test also provides an early indication of diabetes. This is not an eye test like one would do to receive glasses.

“We are pleased that the Lions Club has chosen Frances Nelson to offer this service to our patients and the community as a whole, said Nancy Greenwalt, Executive Director of Promise Healthcare.

“Lions Clubs are the largest service club in the world,” according to Marvin Paulsen, local member of the Champaign Lions Club. “Their main focus is and always has been on eyes, eyesight, and hearing.”

Other projects the Lions Club is involved in is the collection of used eyeglasses, low vision testing, providing eye glasses for people in need, and reducing river blindness. The screening for diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration and hearing is a free service provided by the Lions of Illinois Foundation made possible by donations to local Lions Clubs and the Lions of Illinois Foundation.

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Check back next week for more resources from PACE!

Weekly Resource: ExactCare Pharmacy

Submitted by Sherry Longcor, Reintegration Coordinator

Today’s weekly resource is excellent for someone looking for an easy, convenient option for receiving their prescriptions. Check out Exact Care Pharmacy – great local service is available, and prices are comparable to your current walk-in pharmacy!

www.exactcarepharmacy.com

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Check back next week for another Weekly Resource from PACE!

Weekly Resource: BridgingApps.org

Submitted by Jermaine Raymer, PACE Program Director

Bridging Apps is a website which specializes in mobile applications for persons with disabilities. They have a massive list of apps which are broken out by disability, what task they help with, price, operating system, and so on. Further, many of the apps are tested by people with the relevant disability to truly test their effectiveness. This website is a great resource for anyone looking to find mobile applications designed specifically to tackle the particular barrier someone is facing.

Visit www.bridgingapps.org to find out more!

Weekly Resource: Luminosity

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Weekly Resource Submitted by: Dylan Boot, Independent Living Specialist

Luminosity is a site where you can go and exercise your mind by playing brain games. The free version has three free games that will test your memory, attention and mental speed and it will show you how you stack up against other people your age. Coming back and playing these games on a regular basis will keep your brain healthy and fit. Using your brain in this manner will greatly benefit you as you age and may even prevent conditions like Alzheimer’s and dementia from developing.

Try it out today! visit www.luminosity.com to learn more.

Weekly Resource: Motion Savvy

Submitted by Alan Thomas, Deaf Services Coordinator

Life can be very hard for those who are deaf or hard of hearing. There’s the frustration that comes when people simply have trouble communicating with you. Unfortunately, for many of the 370 million deaf people in the world, their inability to communicate is often perceived as an intellectual handicap which is likely preventing some very brilliant minds in our society from reaching their full potential. Ryan Hait-Campbell, CEO and founder of Alameda, California based MotionSavvy, is one of those brilliant minds. He, along with his colleagues who are all also deaf, have developed a groundbreaking technology that combines the latest in motion sensing and mobile computing called the UNI.

UNI consists of three parts: a tablet computer, a specially-designed smart case, and a mobile app. The smart case contains hardware from Leap Motion and consists of a couple of cameras to track the location of both the user’s hands and fingers. The app, which is powered by the tablet, translates the hand and finger movements of sign language into audible speech or text displayed on the screen. The app in turn can also translate spoken word into written text for the deaf person to read.
UNI does more than simply interpret; it also learns. Just like spoken language, sign language consists of various “dialects” and “accents”. UNI learns your own style of signing as you train it to improve its accuracy. It will also grow smarter through a database of new gestures and terms that are “crowdsigned” by its users.

For more information, visit www.motionsavvy.com.

Check back next week for more resources from PACE!

Weekly Resource: CaptiVoice

Weekly Resource submitted by Nancy McClellan-Hickey, PACE Executive Director

This week we’d like to introduce you to an awesome app called Capti Narrator. This is great for people with visual impairments or attention issues that may impact ability to read a screen. Check it out below, and click this link to read more about the Capti app!

Capti Narrator is an app that lets you listen to digital information on the go. From text to speech you can even put web pages in your reading list and listen to them while driving. You can choose voices with different accents, some are male and some female. Digital content can be listened to hands free. Speaking of free, there is a free version that supports screen readers for Jaws and NVDA and VoiceOver for iPhone and iPad. You can jump to the next or previous word, sentence paragraph, heading, page or a search keyword. You can sync your playlists and even reading position across all devices.

If you purchase Premium it will even translate words into anyone of 26 languages. You get a full text playlist search, It puts images in text creates different playlists, and plays Word Challenge a game that will help you build vocabulary. The file size limit is up to 100 MB in size default limit is 10 MB.

Supported Formats:

Adobe PDF (.pdf)
Microsoft Word (.doc, .docx)
Microsoft PowerPoint (.ppt, .pptx)
Plain and Rich text (.txt, .rtf)
EPUB books (.epub)
OpenDocument (.odt, .odp)
DAISY books (.zip)

Content Resources:

Project Gutenberg: read any book from the public domain library of 50,000+ titles
Bookshare: people with disabilities can read any book among 400,000+ titles
Google Drive
Dropbox
OneDrive
Pocket
Instapaper
Your PC, flash drive
Email attachments (iPhone, iPad)
Copy-paste via clipboard (iPhone, iPad)
Other Capti users (AirDrop)

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Check back next week for more resources from PACE! If there’s a resource YOU would like to hear about it, please let us know by emailing info@pacecil.org!

Weekly Resource: Brain Injury Association of Illinois

Submitted by Kendra Schroder, Independent Living Coordinator

This week, we continue our new weekly tradition of publishing a blog post that links you to valuable resources available online or in your community.

I’ve worked with people with brain injuries for over a decade, so this cause is near to my heart. I’dd like to introduce you to the Brain Injury Association of Illinois. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 1.7 Million people sustain a brain injury every year. These can result in anything from death to a concussion, and in may cases, can leave lasting effects that change a person’s life forever. The BIAIL is available as a resource for Illinois residents who live with brain injury, as well as the friends and family who love them.

To visit BIAIL’s website, click this link.

Here is the mission of BIAIL:

The Brain Injury Association of Illinois (BIA of IL) is a not-for-profit, statewide membership organization comprised of people with brain injuries, family members, friends and professionals. BIA of IL is part of a network of brain injury associations across the United States, and is an Affiliate of the national Brain Injury Association, Inc. (BIA) which was founded in 1980. The BIA of IL is the only statewide organization in Illinois serving individuals with Acquired Brain Injury, their families and professionals who treat them. We work to assist in developing communication channels between families and professionals in a way that improves relationships and cooperation, enhances teamwork and helps decrease potential issues that might arise . Due to decreased resources, lengths of stay, rehabilitation and care needs, and changing family structures, the BIA of IL feels collaboration is critical for effective service delivery. The Brain Injury Association of Illinois works with local, state and national organizations to consistently lead Illinois in providing quality, affordable and accessible services to people with brain injuries and their families. The BIA of Illinois is dedicated to providing information, resources, advocacy, and support.

biail

Finding the Positive: Self-Determination

Submitted by Sherry Longcor, Reintegration Specialist

During my journey toward self-determination I have discovered many important things. Throughout a large part of my life, I struggled and didn’t understand why until I looked deeper into who I am at the core of my being. Oddly enough, the catalyst that made me search the depths of my soul came after a disabling illness. In 2005, I was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor. Medical treatment for this tumor left me unable to walk, barely able to speak, and with the left half of my face paralyzed. I realized then a strength and determination that I had not previously realized I had.

Many of the parts of my history are painful to recall. My life was not filled with opportunity, encouragement, or guidance but, somewhere inside I always longed for something better. I realized after my disabling illness that each person carries unique talents and gifts to share with our society when assessable opportunities, support, and skilled guidance are available. I became very aware of the need to find something wonderful and unique inside of my soul that I could share with society. I realized the impact of my disability would force me to create a new path – a path that would highlight my abilities and minimize my disability. My new path included returning to school and seeking a degree in a field where I might help others along their journey of self-determination.

Here at PACE, our staff is focused on assisting people with disabilities to have lives that are self-directed with the focus on each person’s distinct gifts and talents. Each of us can use the strength of self-awareness that we gain while dealing with a disability and ultimately fulfill the goal of having a self-determined life.

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Check back soon for more info from PACE!

Weekly Resource: Disability Scoop!

As we mentioned last week, we’re changing it up on the blog from now on! We want to connect you with valuable resources you can use in your everyday life.

Today’s submission was provided by Dylan Boot, Independent Living Specialist.

This website is an online news source for all news related to disability. The site also has a classifieds section listing jobs nationwide that have some connection to disability. Check it out and get the scoop!

Visit Disability Scoop Website here!

disability scoop

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If you have questions about disability-related resources for yourself, please contact PACE and one of our staff will assist you!

Sign of the Times

Contributed by Alan Thomas, Deaf Services Coordinator

We’re changing things up here on the blog! In order to better provide you with helpful information and resources, PACE Staff will be sharing some of our favorite online articles and resources related to disabilities. We encourage you to check out each and every one – we are sure you’ll find them very useful!

Today we’re sharing an article from Scientific American that discusses the value of technology in the lives of the Deaf community. Video calling and apps like Glide or services like FaceTime are incredibly powerful when it comes to helping Deaf people communicate in their primary language of American Sign Language.

Check out the article here! We’d love to hear how technology has helped you or someone you know!

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As you may know, we continue to await a budget agreement from the State of Illinois. Once an agreement is reached and we can once again fully staff our office, we intend to make some much needed improvements to our website. (Hopefully a completely new one!) Until then, please continue to read our blog here and check out our Facebook page for updates on what’s happening at PACE!

Misunderstanding What You Can’t See

Contributed by Matthew Robertson, Transition Coordinator

Many people say, “I’d have to see it to believe it.” There are people with disabilities that aren’t perceivable. How can one understand or know something they can’t see? It starts with awareness.

According to the National Alliance for Mental Illness, approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. experience mental illness in a year and 1 in 5 of children ages 13 – 18 years experiences a severe mental disorder. These statistics are alarming. We all go to school or work with or have a family member that has mental illness.

People with mental illnesses may not want to share their disability and that’s okay. Others may not know they have a disorder. Persons with a traumatic brain injury may not know they can’t remember the incident. Someone that’s always energetic and makes impulsive decisions may not realize they have ADHD.

The symptoms of mental illnesses need to be taught and understood. In a school of 1,000 kids, statistically, 200 experience a severe mental disorder; you may never realize that many are affected. Observing them socialize you may never know either. I believe the symptoms of mental disorders may be are seen as personality traits and may be placed in a social groups accordingly.

There are over-achievers, top of their class; motivated 110%, neat, and use a certain color ink. They have clean lockers and specifically arranged. They sound like perfect students and have good traits. They have a routine; but for some, if their routine is altered, they become anxious because they are obsessive-compulsive.

Some kids draw on their work, tapping pencils or feet, during class. They are viewed as kids that annoy everyone and don’t care. Some kids don’t care but some may not be able to focus because they have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. NAMI estimates 9% of children 3-17 have ADHD. When their symptoms are at their worst, they are treated as if they could stop, and then punished. Schools need more awareness.

Every school has kids with no energy, interest, or concentration, don’t do well in school, socially awkward, or have a low self-esteem. These kids are misunderstood and called burn-outs. They may have depression. If not treated properly, some use drugs, alcohol, or do self-harm. They are looked down upon for being “druggies” or “cutters” and viewed as selfish if they commit suicide. People should see the substance abuse as a cry for help and not as something people do because they don’t fit in. People with depression need support.

Mental illnesses can be hard to understand and easily overlooked. If symptoms are recognized, awareness may help with their own disorder or someone else. For more information, visit the NAMI website here.

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If you are interested in local mental health resources, contact PACE for more information. We may also be able to work with you to develop an Independent Living Plan in addition to any mental health resources you may receive.

Seeing Differently

Submitted by Avi Laird, Low Vision Coordinator

I have heard multiple times, this year, that I have changed lives.

Recently, I have been getting new people to my Low Vision department, on average, one new per each day that PACE has its doors open. And I have been fortunate enough to make a difference in so many of these lives. When you are first going through a new experience; especially a medical one, and do not know where to turn, it seems as if you are alone. When people walk through the doors of PACE, they still may feel that way, but in several of my cases, when they walk out they start seeing things differently.

I have had people come in with anger, because they can no longer drive or other issues, and they feel as if people are treating them as if they can no longer do anything else. This is not the case, as we work together with you, you can do the things you did before, but many times the how is going to be different.

In Low Vision Services, we have the opportunity to work with you in groups, one-on-one, or both. Bringing your support people, family, friends, are always welcomed, if that is what makes you feel comfortable. Or if you prefer, the space we make, can be independent and away from the noise of everything else.

You decide.

I cannot fix your vision, but I can talk to you about changing your outlook, and with that we can work together toward whatever you want to do. We can start as simple as a magnifier – move to getting reading materials or talking devices – and go onto more active lifestyles. I have contacts with everything from Amateur Radio / HAM Radio to a Blind Skiers group!

There are also Low Vision Groups available that allow people to be with others with a form of peer mentoring; where you can ask questions and learn more. Questions like: Who is a good doctor? Will this procedure hurt? How do you find a lost item? Does anyone know where I can get a ride? How do I get transportation? And many more questions…. Feel free to bring your list of questions: PACE Low Vision Group Members have answers. Call PACE for a specific locations and times.

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We’ll see you next week with more from PACE!

Wheelathon 2016 Entry Information

Hello everyone! We are getting excited for this year’s Wheelathon! Below, you will find the links to our Wheelathon forms. Forms are also available for pickup at PACE, Inc. at 1317 E. Florida Avenue in Urbana. All proceeds benefit PACE as we continue to serve people with disabilities in Champaign, Douglas, Edgar, and Piatt, and Vermilion counties. Thanks in advance for helping raise money for our center!

Wheelathon 2016 takes place on Saturday, April 23rd, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Meadowbrook Park. Come on out and wheel, push, or walk! We have some fun, family-friendly activities scheduled, and free lunch for all participants! The Wheelathon is an annual event that helps raise awareness of accessibility issues among people with disabilities, and gives people who do not have a disability the opportunity to wheel around a paved route to experience what it’s like to use a wheelchair of their own.

All Team Rosters and Individual Donation Sheets are due to PACE by Friday, April 22nd. Anyone who raises at least $20 gets a free Wheelathon t-shirt! Come join the fun!

Interested in being a Team Captain? Organize a team of your friends and family to raise money for PACE! Check out this info sheet:
Wheelathon2016Team Captain

If you’re ready to form a team, use this sheet to track team members, amount donated, and T-Shirt size.
Click the link and print it out:
Wheelathon2016Team roster

Not sure you want to be a captain? Don’t have a team of your own? Raise money and participate individually! Here’s your registration form!
Click the link and print it out:
Wheelathon2016 individual participant registration and pledge 1

We look forward to seeing you there!

Wheelathon 2016 Flyer2

Centers for Independent Living and the Fifth Core Service

Submitted by Nancy McClellan-Hickey, Executive Director

Since the opening of the first Centers for Independent Living in the early 1970’s, there has been a mandate for each center to provide four core services. PACE provides these services and they are Advocacy, Information and Referral, Skills Training, and Peer Counseling. Recently through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, an amendment has been made to add a fifth core service: Transition.

One type of transition is Reintegration. Over the years the Centers took issue with their peers being financially trapped in nursing homes – yes, that happens. People have the ability to live independently in the community with supports such as home services, personal assistance, emergency response systems, and accessibility adjustments in their home. When these issues are addressed, a person can return to the community to live independently. Centers have seen this and advocated for it for years, each Center talking to their legislators and educating them as to how this allows the person to regain control over their lives. Beyond that, it costs the State less than institutionalization by about one third. Seemed like a no brainer but the bureaucracy needed time to grow too for the government to get in on it.

Now centers also include Youth Transition from school to work or continued education. PACE is currently applying for funding to allow us to work with young people who want to make that transition. A center in Rockford has been working in this area and has developed a curriculum they use in the schools to prepare kids for decisions regarding work or continued education. Through this program, kids get a chance to meet and talk to their adult peers who have been through those transitions and see employed people who have disabilities as their role models. They can think about how they would adapt the work or learning environment, whether to disclose a disability to an employer, and other questions not usually offered by traditional education. As you would expect, that can be a powerful motivator. As for schools, they will get to hear from the adult peers as well – peers who have already been through those systems – which in turn helps the schools learn how to better assist students with disabilities navigate their transition from high school to work or higher education.

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Keep an eye on PACE’s Facebook page for updates on the fifth core service, and as always, check back next week for more from PACE!

Accountability

Submitted by Kendra Schroder, Independent Living Coordinator

I spent over a decade of my career working in hospitals. As regulations changed and policies were updated, we were at times inundated with new trainings and information to remember. One training I recall specifically was an “Accountability Training” designed for the entire hospital staff. When we all heard we were assigned to attend this training, we scoffed a bit. Accountability?? Are we not accountable every day simply by showing up to work and completing our assigned tasks? We later learned that the point of the Accountability Training was about taking responsibility for more than just showing up, clocking in, and clocking out. It was about learning to say “I’ll own that” when a situation got tough and no one wanted to follow-up on it. Accountability means taking charge, taking responsibility, and “owning it” when it would be much easier to forget about it.

Let’s face it – it can be really hard sometimes to do more than “show up” in life. Perhaps you have a disability that makes it difficult to focus, or one that causes pain or decreased mobility. Perhaps you are stressed about how to pay for prescriptions or medical bills, when you know you really should be focusing on the task at hand, whatever it may be. The bottom line is, even if we have extenuating circumstances, chances are, we still have something in our life or our workplace that requires us to show up and “own it” – to be accountable.

If you need a partner in accountability, consider meeting with a PACE facilitator. We can help you set goals and hold yourself accountable for achieving them. It can be something as simple as sticking to a workout plan to improve your health, or as intimidating as learning to be an advocate for yourself or another person with a disability, or as complex as locating the right kind of assistive technology to adjust to a visual deficit. A PACE facilitator can be the person you report back to about the progress YOU are driving in your life. We can help you set goals and organize the steps to take to achieve them. We can’t do it for you, but we can be there with you and help you hold yourself accountable for your own independent living plan. Accountability is an important life skill that you can master to improve your independence and your long-term success. Sometimes all it takes is having another person on your team, and at PACE, we hope to be that for you.

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Speaking of accountability, don’t forget to call our leaders in Springfield, who should all be held accountable for the tasks we voted them into office to complete. Illinois needs a budget. Centers for Independent Living like PACE need a budget. We encourage you to contact Springfield today and remind your legislators that Centers of Independent Living are doing their work, and that our lawmakers should be as well. Tell them to pass a budget that includes funding for Centers of Independent Living and People With Disabilities.

Use this link and type in your address to find contact information for your local legislators.
Or you can call, write, or fax a message to Governor Rauner:

207 State Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
Phone: 217-782-0244
Fax: 217-524-4049

Change: It Can Be Good!

Submitted by Glenna Tharp, Independent Living Specialist

Groundhog Day was this week. That “special” day when we anxiously await to see
when change is coming. Of course we want Spring to come early, but I really don’t believe whether a groundhog, or any other object that can cast a shadow, really has anything to do with when Spring arrives. Change is going to happen, sooner or later.

Change is hard; even if it’s for a pleasant reason of the change of seasons. There is cleaning to do, storm windows to take down, lawn preparation, lawn furniture to drag out of storage, etc.

I’m sure we could all tell about changes in our lives that were difficult; or even some which are occurring right now. Change is always happening here at PACE. Staff comes and goes; our consumers come and achieve goals, then leave. Some come back when a new obstacle gets in the way of their independence.

Not only do the people we see change, but things change here too. I’ve worked here since November 2007. In that time I’ve worked under four different Program Directors; seen new paint and carpeting, two new copy machines, and technological changes too numerous to mention – or for me to understand. My responsibilities have changed too. Under one funding source, I worked with people with development and intellectual disabilities. Then funding changed and I work with many diagnoses. A small part of my job is to work in the Personal Assistant Program. Other things I do involve the Community Reintegration Program. I also do equipment loan, MTD Passes, and file maintenance. So just like any place of employment, staff at PACE wear many hats and must have the ability to accept change.

But the biggest change for me has been the implementation of a new software program all staff uses now to document the work we do. It’s called CILsFirst. With each phone call, each time we have contact or provide a service for a consumer, a goal is set, met or dropped; we enter that data into our data base. It’s only different from the method of writing on paper like we used to do in that it’s easier to retrieve for reports, and there is less paper used. This change has been hard, but it has been for the good.

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If are a person with a disability and would like support as you navigate the changes in your life, contact PACE today! One of our facilitators will discuss setting up an Independent Living Plan, which can include learning to feel better about yourself as you work through your challenges, or to locate local support groups, peer mentoring opportunities, or to develop problem-solving skills necessary for daily life. If we aren’t able to address your specific needs, we’re happy to direct you toward another solution!

Check back next week for more from PACE!

Dealing with Stress

Submitted by Sherry Longcor, Transition Coordinator

Everyone experiences stress. There is no way to eliminate stress; however, there are ways to cope with it, and techniques to use to better cope with the impact stress has on a person.

The first thing that helps me is to stay aware of the warnings my body provides (i.e. frequent headaches, upset stomach, poor quality of sleep, feeling overemotional, becoming more forgetful, and increase in joint pain). When I begin to feel these patterns, I know it is time for me to slow down and take care of myself. It helps me to remember that negative things coming towards me are not about me. It helps me when I am realistic about my abilities and my disabilities. It helps me when I remind myself that other people do not have to understand me.

After I become aware that I’m beginning to feel very stressed and I remind myself of what is mine to carry and what is not mine to carry, I’m able to slow down and begin to take care of myself. I am better able to organize my thoughts and determine what my true responsibilities are and I realize my emotions are directly connected to the amount of stress I am feeling. I try to remember that stress is an internal thing that others may not be aware you are feeling and to what degree you are feeling it. I am then able to be more effective in completing my tasks and keeping up with my responsibilities. I find it helpful to write down a complete list of the things that I must do in order of importance. When writing a list, I try to remain mindful of other people’s need for my time. I believe this is of key importance as we interact in our work life, our home life, and in our social life.

After I have made my lists, completed my tasks, and fulfilled my responsibilities, I begin to focus on how I can let go of the stress that has built up in my body. There are many ways people find to relax. For me, I like to talk it out with a caring friend or family member, or to take a warm bath and put on my softest clothes, or feed myself healthy food. I also like to take some time alone with myself to think about how I can do my job better the next time. The true beauty of being human as we can always set a goal for ourselves to do better the next time.

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If you are a person with a disability and are interested in setting goals to work on dealing with your stress, give PACE a call today!

Visit us again next week for more from the PACE Staff!

New Ideas

Submitted by Jermaine Raymer, Program Director

As an organization, PACE thrives on the consumer-directed nature of our programs. This means that PACE and our services are made better when the people who utilize our services help design them.

There are indeed many ways that you, as a consumer and community member, can contribute toward helping ensure that PACE achieves our mission of ensuring that people have the opportunity to be as independent as they wish to be.

PACE hosts regular advisory committees for our different programs. At these various committee meetings, consumers provide input about the services they would like to see the program offer, as well as comments on what the program does well, and what we could do better.

ADVISORY SCHEDULE:

• Community Reintegration Program – Thursday, January 29th at 1:00PM
• Deaf Advisory Committee – Thursday, February 18th at 6PM
• Visual Impairment North of 55 Advisory – Wednesday, March 2nd at 1:30PM
• Personal Assistant Advisory – Tuesday, March 22nd at 1PM
• Opportunities for Independence Advisory – Thursday, March 31st at 1PM

In addition to these advisories, we are always looking for input on our services, and clever ways we can spread the message out about disability awareness and independent living.

One of the ways we are looking at doing this is by distributing a quick and/or funny comment about the benefits of having a disability. First, we need your suggestions about what to call the comments, and secondly, we need comments. A great example is, “The upside about being blind, is that I’ve never seen road kill!”

Submit any of your ideas to jermaine@pacecil.org

We think that little comments like this that are distributed to the public will give people a new perspective on disabilities, and get people thinking about things they may otherwise not consider throughout their daily routines.

And if you have any ideas on how PACE can become more visible or how we can spread the word about independent living, email info@pacecil.org and let us know how we can keep the disability movement going forward.

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Thanks for reading and be sure to check back next week for more from PACE!

The Benefits of Participating in Support Groups

Submitted by Dylan Boot, Independent Living Specialist

When you think of support groups and group counseling, what comes to mind? That you’ll be forced to share your deepest, darkest secret or even to talk at all? That it’s not for you because you’re very independent and just won’t benefit? That all it is is listening to the leader talk? That it isn’t as effective as scheduling one-on-one appointments with your counselor or specialist? That you’ll be judged or criticized by others in the group?

If any of these concerns have crossed your mind, you are not alone! Many people are hesitant to try support groups. However, in the vast majority of situations, the concerns that I listed above are not true. Yes, there are some poorly run support groups, but not many. If you try a group out and you decide it’s not for you, it’s okay to seek out another group in the area.

There are many benefits of participating in support groups. Attending these groups helps people realize that they are not alone – that there are others dealing with similar issues. Also, being in a support group can help you develop new skills and teach you how to relate to others.

I encourage you to try a support group. PACE has a number of them to try out! Our groups have various focuses, from adjusting to low vision or blindness, to learning independent living skills, to support groups for the Deaf and hard of hearing to readying people to search for, and obtaining, a job. If you are looking for something different, you can visit the Family Service Self Help Center and search for other support groups, or give us a call at PACE and we’ll be happy to assist you in finding a group that meets your needs.

Contact PACE if you would like more information regarding support groups or group counseling.

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Check back with us next week for more from the PACE staff!

Deaf Etiquette: What To Say vs. What Not To Say

Submitted by Alan Thomas, Deaf Services and Volunteer Coordinator

Do you struggle to determine the right and wrong things to say to a Deaf person? I want to add a positive element to it. In a conversation I had within the Deaf Community, we discussed the fact that a lot of times, people just don’t know much about Deaf culture/community, or that such a thing even exists. People outside the Deaf community may do or say something that is offensive or off-putting, but it’s not because they’re being malicious – they may just think they’re helping.  People just may not know the right way to handle a situation. It was something to think about. In this post you’ll not only learn what NOT to do, but what TO do when communicating with a Deaf person. Enjoy! And don’t hesitate to give us a call here at PACE if you are in need of further education or have any questions!

DON’T:

Say, “Wow you speak so well for a Deaf person.”

DO:

Realize if you really want to comment on their speech, say it a different way.  The offensive part is “for a Deaf person.”

DON’T:

Say, “You must be really smart to be able to talk.”

DO:

Realize that if you want to comment on their speech, you could say, “you speak really well.” or “You must have worked really hard on your speech.” Any level of speech is hard work, often involving hours and hours of lessons.  Remember: speech doesn’t indicate intelligence.  You may mean well, but make sure what you’re saying is actually nice and not demeaning.

DON’T:

Say, “Why don’t you get a cochlear implant?”

DO:

Ask them about the assistive device they do use.  Or ask them about their decision to not use a CI or hearing aid (if they don’t use them).

DON’T:

Say, “Have you thought about getting ear transplants?”

DO:

Think before you speak.  There are no such things.

DON’T:

Say, “You have hearing aids, shouldn’t you hear normally now?”

DO:

If you truly want to learn about their hearing aids, ask them a more in-depth and specific question.  What is their hearing loss?  How effective are their hearing aids?  Do they like them?  What are some of the hard things about using a hearing aid?

Cochlear implants and hearing aids really are personal decision.

  • Cochlear implants are not a cure-all.
  • You still don’t hear the same way a hearing person does.
  • They don’t always work.
  • They are not reversible.
  • The surgery can be incredibly painful and recovery can be difficult.
  • There can be complications.
  • They are at least $30,000.

If they are what an individual wants to use — awesome!  If they don’t, that’s awesome too.  Be respectful in the way you approach this highly sensitive topic. Hearing aids mostly amplify the background sounds.  Have you ever watched a movie where the soundtrack was loud, but you couldn’t hear the actors?   You turn up the volume but you still can’t hear.  Or, pretend you’re in a crowded cafeteria and you’re trying to hear the person across from you, that’s what it is like.

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Be sure to check back next week for more from PACE!

Advocacy: Educate and Enlighten

Submitted by Nancy McClellan-Hickey, Executive Director

Over the years I have noticed many different reactions to advocacy. It has become apparent that some people are made for it – they love it. They excel at it. Others know the importance of it and will take part how ever they are comfortable.  Some like to talk directly to decision makers, some like to write, others call, and some live for the demonstration. Yet others feel awkward about advocacy. One consumer’s parents said they didn’t “want him out making trouble, like a hippie.” Advocacy, to them, meant holding signs and chanting or publicly shaming people.  Advocacy is simply defined as promoting /supporting. In the case of access, that is more often than not, done by educating.

We all have our priorities; they differ from person to person. You need the person you are advocating with to either insert your priority into his or move it up in his list.    How do you do that? Educating is often a way that shortcuts the whole process. Very often the “average Joe” has no disability experience, or what experience they do have is very limited. He simply doesn’t see what you see about the situation. The best advocate I ever knew told me she just talked about bare necessities: the need for the change. She believed in the basic good of people and if they understood, “they will want to do the right thing.” She was moving her need up in their priorities through enlightenment.

One of my early experiences was years ago when a consumer called and said he had reached the point with his landlord that the landlord would not take his calls any longer. The consumer wanted the landlord to scoop the snow from the sidewalk so he could get to his car…not an out of line request, so how was there a problem?  First of all, the landlord wasn’t scooping until later in the day but the consumer needed to get to work. So the consumer called and left messages, and the landlord eventually started scooping earlier. Still, he was getting messages from the consumer. That was about the time he got fed up and quit responding at all. The consumer was just trying to point out that the pathway was not wide enough for his wheelchair.  It was a nice clear walkway for those who walk, but the landlord wasn’t considering the use of the wheelchair. We wrote a letter from PACE with the need for wider walk way and a thank you for the effort already put forth. After the letter, the landlord started scooping a wider path and everyone was content. The landlord did do the right thing – once he understood.

You see, sometimes advocacy is simply about increasing the public’s understanding. Encouraging them to change their perspective and consider the need. It really can be as simple as that.

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Be sure to check back next week for more from PACE!

Hidden Costs of the Illinois Budget Crisis

Submitted by Kendra Schroder, Independent Living Coordinator

I was a good student growing up. I paid attention and studied hard. Things were relatively easy for me (until advanced math courses came along in high school – ha!). I took for granted the fact that I would finish high school and go to community college, thanks to help from my parents. Eventually, I would complete my bachelor’s degree, which would cost me a fair amount in student loans – but I still always knew the opportunity was there for me, and I never questioned the fact that I would have some sort of an education.

For people with disabilities or limited financial means, an education may not be so easy to come by. It can take a lot more effort, time, patience, and resources to simply complete high school. An individual is then at risk to enter adulthood without even a GED, a basic requirement for many employment opportunities. When this is the case, the cycle may then be perpetuated. People who have low income and poor education remain oppressed, and as a result, their children are at risk for the same, and so on…

At PACE, we can work with our consumers who have educational goals and may need a bit of guidance from a facilitator to accomplish goals they’ve set for themselves. I was in the midst of this recently with a current consumer, who is interested in acquiring her GED but has been struggling in her current program. We decided to reach out to Parkland College, one of many local community colleges that offer adult education programs such as GED completion and English as a Second Language. We were excited to get her set up and ready to start the program, and to also utilize the additional resource of Parkland’s Office of Disability Services for an added extra layer of support for her educational goals.

Upon contacting Parkland, we were informed that all Adult Education courses were postponed until further notice. Any guesses as to why?? If you guessed lack of state funding, you were right. Sadly, my consumer has hit yet another road block on the path toward her educational goals because the State of Illinois cannot come to an agreement on how to solve the budget crisis.

I would like to take a moment to remind our readers to reach out to state legislators. Let them know that the budget crisis is effecting thousands of people in need of services across the state, and that they need to reach an agreement before it’s too late. Opportunities are being lost. Families, people with disabilities, and the elderly are all at risk. It’s time for legislators to come to an agreement so that the people who need state services can move on with their lives.

It takes a lot of bravery to reach out as an adult and attempt to further your education. With help from facilitators at PACE, consumers can navigate the steps toward reaching their educational goals, but until a budget agreement is reach, we are all on hold. Contact state legislators today and flex your advocacy muscles! If you need information on who/how to contact them, give us a call at 217-344-5433. Thanks in advance!

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Be sure to check back next week for more from PACE!

Challenges of the Holiday Season

Submitted by Glenna Tharp, Independent Living Specialist

Ahhh – Thanksgiving… It’s a time to reflect on what we’re thankful for. But some of us might be feeling we don’t have a very long list, or feel that ours is empty. Other people might run out of ink before they get their list complete! Mine would be a long list; but at the same time, it causes me to reflect on those who have much shorter or even empty lists.

Is it simply a matter of attitude? Or does one have to have everything to be thankful for anything? What kind of giver of thanks are you?

I know people that have plenty of money, a nice home, people that love them, and have full use of all their body parts, but still lack a sense of peace. And I’ve known people who have less financially, have lost touch with their families, have medical issues, or are a person with a disability, and they believe they have much for which they are grateful.

Let’s also consider the upcoming holiday season. Does the advent of Christmas or Chanukah send you into melancholy, depression, or anxiety? Even in the best of relationships, these holidays can cause people to feel some anxiety, due to the extra pressures we may believe are demanded of us. We second guess ourselves about preparing “correctly,” and being around people we normally don’t live with, regardless of how much we love and enjoy them, can bring on stress.

Plus there are temptations! There are many rich foods and drink we don’t normally touch, including alcohol, and it may make us feel pressured to and eat or drink when we know it to be unhealthy. Or we may avoid items we need to have, because we do not want people to notice that we need something different; we don’t want to feel that we are an inconvenience, and thus treat ourselves poorly in the process. And also, be aware of the temptation to spend money you might not have!

If you are struggling with any of these issues, there is a facilitator at PACE that can help you get through these difficult, yet perhaps pleasant, holidays. Some support groups and worship organizations have programs that help during the difficulties of this time of year. I once saw a poster that said, “The only part of my life I can really control is my ATTITUDE!”

Take a look at the lives you touch this season, and be aware of life circumstances that might make the season difficult for others, or even for yourself.

I hope your Thanksgiving was enjoyable. And I hope your holiday season is as stress free as you can make it.

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Be sure to check back next week for more from PACE! And a special reminder – be sure to attend our Independent Living Skills Group on Monday, December 21st at 6 p.m. We’ll discuss this very topic!

The Positive Impact of Independent Living

Submitted by Sherry Longcor, Reintegration Coordinator

Often in our jobs, our day-to-day tasks become overwhelming and we forget about the impact we can have when we help others. The PACE reintegration team recently assisted a family move back to the community from a nursing institution. This wonderful couple had been separated in institutions for years due to illness and disability. A short time ago a letter was received at PACE that truly highlights the impact we can each have when we reach out to help others regain their dignity, self-determination and independence.

The family writes about how wonderful it will be to be safe and warm this winter in a home of their own. The letter speaks of feeling safe and happy knowing they are finally together. They speak of the joy and excitement they had on the day they moved into their new community home and of the appreciation they have to all the people who helped them put their independent life back together. They state that, through the help of others, they will be able to start a new story that is full of joy, friends and family.

After reading this letter I feel renewed energy and determination to continue to assist others in their journey toward independence. Often, the work of reintegration is hard and demanding – it’s easy to get lost in all of the tasks that have to be completed on the road to assisting someone move back to the community. But when we take the time to realize the impact we can have in assisting people with disabilities as they build the life of their own choosing, the long hard days at work are forgotten and the joy is all that is remembered.

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Be sure to check back again soon for more from PACE!

Assistive Technology for People with Disabilities

Submitted by Jermaine Raymer, Program Director

Having a disability in today’s world is different from before. While there have been changes in terms of physical, social, and attitudinal access, some of the biggest changes/advances have come in the area of Assistive Technology: technology that is designed to help those with disabilities or special needs lead more productive and independent lives. Here is a small sample of the technology available. (Please note: while I specifically mention the names of organizations, there are multiple resources for similar information.)

VEST (Versatile Extra-Sensory Transducer) is being developed to be a wearable vest which takes sound-waves and converts them into vibrating pulses a wearer feels on their back. The aim for VEST is to be a low-cost, non-invasive piece of assistive technology which will allow the Deaf to more fully experience the world. Read more about VEST here.

Navigate and experience the world with Animotus. It is a 3-D navigation device that allows the visually impaired to use GPS easily. Currently, people with low-vision who use GPS put on headphones to hear directions, and this blocks their hearing. Animotus is a cube which shape-shifts to tell a person which direction to turn. Read more about Animotus here.

Augmented Communication is in constant change. “Scene and Heard Communication” is a mobile application designed to allow those with severe speech difficulties to communicate. Pick what you want to say on the screen and have the phone verbalize it. Read more about Scene and Heard Communication here.

For information on mobile apps specifically targeted at accessibility, go to www.bridgingapps.com. This site has hundreds of apps listed by the particular accessibility challenge they aid with, has detailed reviews, and has the cost of the app.

“Assistive Technology Update” and “ATFAQ (Assistive Technology Frequently Asked Questions)” are podcasts put out by Easter Seals Crossroads in Indiana. These podcasts explore different topics in assistive technology, and give listeners the opportunity to hear from leaders in the field. Visit Easter Seals here.

Every state has an “Assistive Technology Act Program.” These programs are designed to give people with disabilities access to assistive technology. Each of these programs offers device loans, and many offer cash loans to assist with the purchase of technology. To find your state’s program, go to here. This website is run by the Association of Assistive Technology Act Programs, and is a great resource for not only locating the program in your state, but also for finding out about advocacy efforts dealing with assistive technology.

Use #assistivetech on Twitter, and find out the latest information on what’s happening in the world of assistive technology.

Whichever way you find out about this world of assistive tech, remember that it is all about access and independence. It is important you find the technology which works best for you. The point of technology is to empower independence, but without knowledge of the technology, access is lost.

Post-Graduation Transition for Students with Disabilities

Contributed by Dylan Boot, MS, CRC, Independent Living Specialist

Recent changes in legislation and policy have led to a rejuvenated effort by Centers for Independent Living (CILs) nationwide to provide transitional support to young adults with disabilities graduating high school. When I was hired back in May and first heard about this, I jumped at the chance to be the lead person to help get PACE ready for this change. Why? Not too long ago I was the one graduating high school and I remember how nervous and frightened I was to suddenly be solely responsible for the decisions that I made in a great, big, often unforgiving world.

Youth with disabilities often have a vast support system consisting of family, friends, teachers and other special education professionals. This support system is very important and usually has the youth’s best interests at heart. However, the downside to this is after graduation much of this support (particularly from their school) fades away suddenly, leaving the youth to make his/her own decisions. If he/she has not been guided and prepared for this challenge, it can be quite terrifying and young adults often simply end up staying at home with their parents and not living their lives to their fullest potential. It can be scary even if the youth is ready, as I was… well, for the most part, anyway!

The good news is: there are organizations out there that can pick up the slack and provide support similar to what the schools had provided. CILs, including PACE, are on that list of organizations. All young adults have to do is seek us out! PACE staff, including myself, are more than willing to sit down and help establish an independent living plan and goals that will help the young adult along a path to achieve his/her dreams. There is one crucial difference though: all the decision making power lies with the young adult, not the PACE staff member.

Unfortunately, few are told of the resources available to them upon graduating high school (or even beforehand). If you are reading this, you probably already know of the services available at PACE. However, if you’ve just found us or if you know of a young adult with a disability that may not know about us, contact us or simply stop by our office and learn about our services. Chances are very likely that we can assist you in improving your life in some way. We are here to help!

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Be sure to check back next week for more from PACE, Inc.!

An Alternate Halloween History Lesson: October 31st, 2015

Submitted by Avi Laird, Low Vision Coordinator

The old worlds of Egyptians, Hebrews, and others allowed a person being persecuted to have protection within their borders, away from those who would do them harm. This passed into Greece, where asylum was often granted in various alters and churches, to be adopted later by modern church and state. And this, in several cases, was good and righteous.

In this same time, we find that people with disabilities were quite misunderstood, and what was unknown, or scary, had people placed in places away from harm: in asylums.

People with Epilepsy were said to be possessed by demons fighting to get out. A young lady, who had suffered abuse, was said to have been “tempted by the devil,” to cover up an inconvenient pregnancy. People would be placed in an asylum because others did not take the time to understand what was going on with the person who had a mental or physical disability. Maybe, a son would be left to inherit, and he was a “demon spawn,” instead of morally placing the blame where it belonged; there were easy answers.

These were to be places to care for those who could not, for whatever reason, care for themselves. Or so they claimed.

Asylums sold tickets; and people viewed those who were suffering at the hands of “those who know best” as they continued to mistreat, experiment, and drug people into frenzy or submission.
The care of these people was placed in the hands of those who would be responsible for their well-being in every way possible. It did not matter if a person had a disability or not, everyone was placed together, and many were turned from humans into something else: subjects.
Test subjects.

Although true, without this, some medicines would not have been discovered as quickly; it does not excuse the mistakes of the past.

We feel relief knowing it was in the past. Here and now, we do not think like that, we do not stereotype or discriminate in that manner.

But let us stop and think – maybe for a minute or two… is this true? Does your haunted house look like an asylum? Instantly, asylum equals scary. Why? Does it have scary monsters, movie characters, something of fantasy? Or does it show people with physical or mental illness as scary? What of that scary TV show on cable? Or that scary movie everyone wants tickets to see?

History is again repeating itself: instead of trying to understand people with disabilities, we are again being misunderstood, shown to be scary, and displayed – for a price…

The Power of Kindness

Submitted by Matthew Robertson, Transition Coordinator

Being a person without a disability, I don’t understand all of the true struggles a person with a disability or multiple disabilities may go through. I’ve seen people in public – at a grocery store, for example – in a power chair that the store provides; try to reach something on the top shelf with some struggle. That person may be very strong willed and/or may not ask for help, in order to remain as independent as possible, and rightfully so. I’ve also seen the people that walk by without a care in the world as to whether that person may need help or not, and this bugs me.

Did the woman trying to reach crackers need help? Did she want help? Did she feel like it would be a burden to ask? These questions bother me to go unanswered when some may just say, “She’s riding around in the store’s power chair, and she’s just lazy.” Yes, she may be able to stand and take a couple steps, but that doesn’t mean those steps aren’t very painful. We don’t know what everyone has been through and that’s okay, as long as judgments are not made.

It is not an obligation to help everyone you think needs help, or appears less able than you, because they may be very capable! I just feel that if you are a kind soul and see a person, with a disability or not, having a hard time, ask if they would like some help. Smile, be kind, wish them a wonderful day, but most of all, be understanding.

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Be sure to check back next Friday for more from PACE!

Respectfully Filling The Void

Submitted by Avi Laird, Low Vision Coordinator

Reading is among my favorite hobbies. I read everything written on whatever; tablets, computers, yard signs, posters, billboards, etc. My favorites are books; I enjoy the weight, the turn of the page, the lignin scent ….

Print-size can be smaller, and lighting may not be ideal, but as the weather changes; snuggling-up with a blanket and warm books; whether sitting in the living-room, on the porch, a swing, or where-ever is comfortable and listening to the voices of characters as they go through their journeys is cherished.

I like knowing when a StarTrek spinoff named a character Odo, it was “a nod” to the St. Odos of long-ago. My favorite is St. Odo of Canterbury who loved books and languages. I also admire St. Hildegrad of Bigen, who was a polyhister (an expert in several fields), who wrote about science, and medicine, and used her influence to write music and books. St. Hildegard suffered blindness from migraines that she turned into influential messages; we too can turn our disabilities into power.

We may not be saints, but we can use our voices to convey important messages.

Famous authors use the same themes in a more modern sense.

Tolkien writes about the seemingly simple themes of good versus bad within a grand background; but in the end, it is a single character, whose choices make the difference. “Even the smallest person can change the course of history.”

Frodo claimed his destiny, when it seemed easier to give-up; you are aware he doid not succeed alone or dredge without cheer. He was with friends, which traveled with him side-by-side. They didn’t hold the same burden, but together, they walked the same journey; each with different perspectives, and with their own unique abilities and disabilities. “Deeds will not be less valiant because they are upraised.” Together they made the journey complete.

Will a heavy burden, cause you to submit or will you overcome and set in motion the choices of what is “good” and “right” against the odds that seem impossible?

“It is not the strength of the body, but the strength of the spirit.” ~ J.R.R. Tolkien

In the Narnia books;, Aslan, gives animals the power of speech and then commands them to use that “power for justice and merriment.” C.S. Lewis also shows the theme of responsibility but not without balance; care of oneself, including enjoyment.

We may think we cannot do anything or the burden too overwhelming; but we can join our voices (written or otherwise) with those lives we touch; even unknowingly. We need to allow our friends to support us, speak together, and speak out ourselves. Together we can make the journey….

….But I linger; as the wind rustles; turning over a new page, and begin again.

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Be sure to check back next week for more from PACE!

Where would we be without CILs?

Contributed by Nancy McClellan-Hickey, Executive Director

Thirty years ago this community was excited and relieved to finally have a place where the needs of people who have disabilities were addressed. I remember it clearly, as the brand new PACE was like a dry sponge soaking up a flood of people with unmet needs. We have increased from two to twelve people and now serve five counties – still a bit of a stretch – but now Illinois is experiencing a budget impasse. What will that do to PACE consumers and the other Illinois CILs consumers that rely on Independent Living services being there to support their effort to maintain or achieve independence?

I keep thinking about this when I look at the budget impasse. Our Accountant, Staff, Board and volunteers are doing our very best to keep things going. But we could really use your support.

Telling your legislators how you use PACE, and what you have accomplished with the help of Centers for Independent Living is important. Let them know how ill-equipped mainstream services can be when you need services tailored to disability needs. If you are Deaf, tell them about all the times you have had to explain to service providers (with no interpreter) about their responsibility to hire an interpreter. Who will be there to explain the pros and cons of disclosing a disability to a potential employer? Who will tell the mother of a child with a disability where to get information when she knows very little about education access and processes and she sees her very bright kid having trouble in school? Will there be anyone to catch other needs for adaptive equipment, medical advocacy, peer support and so on? Who will recruit people with disabilities to sit on decision-making boards that shape our lives? Where is the oasis for people who have disabilities – where they don’t have to explain and advocate for everything they need? Where will be that source of pride and dignity where we all rejuvenate by simply being there among others who “get it”?

Tell the Governor what you feel about the services centers like PACE, Inc. offer in Illinois. Encourage your family and friends to make their feelings known as well. Now is the time to speak out. Sign up on the PACE website to receive advocacy alerts through the legislative tree. We tell you when there is an opportunity to voice your opinion about an issue that affects the disability community. Now is the time to speak out about the budget and what you need. Americans with Disabilities have come a long way, but we still have far to go.

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Be sure to come back next week for more from PACE! And don’t forget to follow us on Facebook for more frequent updates!

Disability Employment Awareness Month

Submitted by Kendra Schroder, Independent Living Coordinator

Personally, October is my absolute favorite month. We celebrate our wedding anniversary and my husband’s birthday, there are pumpkin-flavored pastries and apple cider overflowing store shelves, the air is crisp, the leaves are turning, there are bonfires and hayrides galore… What’s not to love about this month?

In addition to all of the lovely October goodies listed above, did you know that October is also Disability Employment Awareness Month? This month, we celebrate the contributions made to the workforce by people with disabilities. If it weren’t for people like Ed Roberts, Judy Heumann, and Justin Dart (all people with disabilities whose work was invaluable to the disability rights movement), my coworkers and I would not be here today. Because Ed, Judy, and Justin focused on what they could do instead of what they couldn’t do, people with disabilities now have a voice and a chance to demonstrate the contributions they are able to make to the workforce today. It is our responsibility to continue to ensure people with disabilities are able to work if they choose. We are MORE than our disabilities. We are real individuals with real skills, knowledge, talents and the educational and/or vocational background to contribute greatly to the world around us. May we never assume a person is less capable simply because they are blind, or deaf or use a wheelchair. May we give EACH person with a disability the chance to show just how great their contributions can be.

PACE plans to begin a job skills training group for people with disabilities in the near future. Please stay tuned and call us if you have questions.

I am so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” – Anne of Green Gables

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**Be sure to check back next Friday for more news from PACE!

Advocates For Access: Advocacy is a Core Service

Submitted by Glenna Tharp, Independent Living Specialist

Did you know PACE holds monthly open meetings to organize advocacy efforts? This meeting is known as Advocates for Access (AFA). Advocacy is, and has been, a core service area of PACE, and the Independent Living Movement, from its beginning. Installation of audible crosswalks, preventing construction of roundabouts, and captioned movies in local theaters are examples of AFA efforts to make our community more accessible to people with disabilities.

Our advocates also educate businesses and government agencies about accessibility. We have a flyer for business owners with the title “Accessibility is Good Business.” If a store owner or manager wonders if they are serving all potential customers, we are eager to do an assessment of their facility and point out how to make their business more accessible to people with disabilities – a market they may be missing. Just because a person has a disability does not mean they don’t have money to spend.

With the passage of the ADA and its enforcement in regard to curb cuts and other architectural changes allowing accessibility for all, there have been improvements in physical barriers. However attitudinal
and systemic barriers still exist. With fewer physical barriers in our community there has been a recent need for advocacy beyond the local level and dealing with systemic and attitudinal barriers. For example, is it right for a person to only have $2,000 in assets if they are on SSI? This prevents people with disabilities from saving money beyond what they might need for emergencies.

The heart of AFA is our volunteers and consumers. If you are aware of an unfair issue needing to be addressed, we hope you will consider taking action to correct it. One way is to join AFA and become involved. Meetings are held, here at PACE, the 3rd Wednesday of each month from 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm in the conference room. All are welcome.

*It is best to call in advance in case of a rare schedule change.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.

~ Margaret Mead

Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits in Illinois

Contributed by Deanna Power at Social Security Disability Help

If you or a loved one has a disability, you will know that additional expenses are endless, from medical bills, to therapy, to home alterations. Whether you’re unable to work and need assistance or require help with meeting your child’s needs, Social Security Disability (SSD) may provide the support you require.

SSD programs include:

• Supplemental Security Income (SSI) –pays benefits to disabled individuals of any age as long as they meet the income/financial resource requirements

• Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) – pays benefits to qualified disabled workers who have worked throughout their lives and paid Social Security taxes
Both programs require that you have a severe disability, and medically qualifying is the same for both SSDI and SSI. Once approved for disability, you may also receive medical coverage through Medicare or Medicaid.

• Medicare is automatically available to people who have been disabled for at least 24 months.

• Medicaid may be available to SSI recipients, though in Illinois you must submit a separate application for benefits.

You can apply for Medicaid at any Department of Human Services (DHS) office in the state. If you qualify for Medicare, you’ll automatically receive enrollment information from Medicare prior to your eligibility date.

Medically Qualifying for Benefits in Illinois:

In Illinois, only about 32 percent of applicants receive an approval during the first review of their claim. You can increase your chances of approval by:

• Having a detailed and accessible medical history

AND

• Matching or meeting a Blue Book listing.

The Blue Book is the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) list of impairments and contains information on the medical records required to support a claim for benefits. You can find the full Blue Book online here. Work closely with your doctor to ensure:

• Your medical records reflect your mental and physical limitations

AND

• Your medical history contains the tests and other diagnostic information the SSA requires for your specific condition.

If you don’t meet a Blue Book listing, you may still get benefits through a residual functional capacity (RFC) analysis. The SSA looks at your daily abilities and limitations to determine if you’re disabled.

If both of these avenues fail, you can appeal your denial. In Illinois, a little over half of applicants are approved after appealing.

Applying for SSD in Illinois:

SSDI applications can be completed online or at your local SSA office. SSI applications require a local appointment. Here are just a few of the nearly 50 offices in Illinois at which you can submit applications:

• Champaign – 101 S. Country Fair Dr., Champaign, IL 61821
• Danville – 400 N. Vermilion St., Danville, IL 61832
• Peoria – 815 W. Pioneer Pkwy, Peoria, IL 61615
• Springfield – 3112 Constitution Dr., Springfield, IL 62704
• Springfield – 2715 West Monroe Street, Springfield, IL 62704

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Be sure to check back next Friday for more from PACE!

First Look, Second Sight

Submitted by Jermaine Raymer, Program Director

Live sporting events are some of the most action packed, thrilling, and communal events which society has to offer. And often, due to their nature, lighting, sound quality, aisles, and lack of central focus, they can be some of the most difficult events for people with all manner of varying disabilities to attend, and thus participate in this integral part of our social fabric.

This topic arose in my mind last night as I, a person who is legally blind, was looking for tickets to a Dallas Cowboys game (I haven’t decided where yet). One of my newer acquaintances called, and replied, “but you wouldn’t be able to see the field…” when I told them that I was looking at treating myself to this little excursion.

Let’s ignore that many people with “perfect” vision say they have trouble seeing the field when sitting at the top of an NFL stadium, and dive into the more pertinent part of this discussion. While it is true that I can’t see the field, and making it to and from my seat and the concession stands may be a bit more difficult, I can truly say it’s about the atmosphere—the ebb and flow of the crowd, hi-fiving (or taunting) the people around me, and simply just having the experience.

If you notice, many of the items I cited as being benefits might not be accessible for persons with other disabilities attending sporting events. For those with mobility issues—accessible seating is often separated from other seating, and there may not be the opportunity for interaction with other fans. And for those who are deaf or hard of hearing, there may be no access to the announcements across the PA system.

So while most everyone gets a better view from home, there’s often a much better experience in the stands.

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Be sure to check back later this week for more from PACE!

Working Together, One Step at a Time

Contributed by Dylan Boot, Independent Living Specialist

When Ed Roberts started the Disability Rights Movement back in the 1960s, it was a movement for everybody. People with all types of disabilities were welcomed and valued. When people were fighting to get the American’s with Disabilities Act passed in the late 1980s, again, people with all disabilities came together in partnership and spoke with one voice.

This sense of togetherness and friendship is just as important now as it was then. There are still many problems to be fixed and issues for which to advocate. Even though some of these things affect certain disabilities more than others, it definitely helps when everyone supports each other. There is more to gain when working together than we get when working separately. You may have heard that there is strength in numbers; this is definitely true in our case!

As we struggle for equality in our society, we must be sure to treat ourselves equally as well. No disability is above any other. We must also keep in mind that we cannot always see a person’s disability but that does not mean it is not there, nor is it any less important.

People with different disabilities have different perspectives, different abilities and strengths, and different ways to help our cause. Treat people… all people… the way you would like to be treated.

Mahatma Gandhi once said: “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” Gandhi lived by this mantra, and while we all can’t be Gandhi, we can all work together to bring about positive changes to this world. It all begins with an idea and a single step…

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Check back next Friday for a brand new blog!

Increasing Internet Accessibility for the Deaf

Contributed by Alan Thomas, Deaf Services Coordinator

Twenty-five years ago, few television shows or movies were captioned. Today, thanks to advancing technology and Federal Law, you can turn on the television and watch most shows with captions. Also, thanks to improved technology and the volunteer efforts of movie studios and movie distributors, you can now buy or rent many DVDs with captions.

Increasingly, people are watching television shows and movies that are redistributed over the Internet. People can download these television shows and movies from the Internet and watch them on their computers or other internet enabled devices. Additionally, people may decide to save these shows and watch them later. However, almost none of these television shows and movies, even television shows which were captioned in their original release, are captioned when redistributed over the Internet. Presently, only a fraction of the multimedia on the Internet must be captioned or otherwise made accessible to people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Many organizations such as Centers for Independent Living, the National Association of the Deaf (NAD), and state associations of the deaf, continue to advocate for increased Internet captioning. The law is generally clear that government agencies must make their websites accessible. The law is less clear about business websites. Finally, the law does not require television shows and movies that are redistributed over the Internet to be captioned… yet.

The NAD Law and Advocacy Center is seeking to make changes to the Communications Act that will expand the television Closed Captioning rules to television program producers and distributors who redistribute television programs or other video over the Internet.
People are also advocating for broadband Internet access to be available, affordable and accessible to all Americans.

Below is a link to a law you may not know about. Some sections apply to our daily life:

The Communications Act of 1934 found online at:

https://transition.fcc.gov/Reports/1934new.pdf

Section 225 (Relay Services)
Section 255 (Accessible Equipment and Services)
Section 710 (Hearing Aid Compatibility)
Section 713 (Video Programming Accessibility).

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Thanks for reading! Be sure to check back with us next week for more info from PACE!

Overcoming an Injury

Contributed by Matthew Robertson, Reintegration Specialist

At twelve, I went on my first hunting trip with my adoptive family. It was a great experience in nature until Ryan set his shotgun on the truck tailgate and BANG!

There I was; falling backwards into the ditch behind me grabbing my thigh in agony as blood soaked my coveralls. Through the deafening ring of the shot and the immediate confusion I heard screaming, “What happened!?” Seconds felt like hours. With enough adrenaline, I ran to the truck. My adoptive-father and Shawn, who was also shot, got in and we sped off. I was going unconscious. Shawn knifed my coveralls open. He saw major blood loss and cut off circulation with his hands. At the hospital he courageously picked me up, hobbling into the ER saying, “treat him first!”

After lying in the hospital for hours pushing the pain medication button countless times, the pain was still severe. When it was time to go home, I was panicking over what felt like unrelenting cramps that tore muscle. My leg was stiff and it was a nightmare.

At home all I did was lie in bed and take meds. I only got up to eat, clean the wound and use the bathroom. I was immediately depressed. I started as a Forward in basketball and we wanted to fulfill our dream of going to State playoffs; that dream died.

The next morning was the worst experience of all. My adoptive-mother told me, “You’ve gotta move your leg.” I could barely move. “I can’t!”

She pushed my leg toward my chest and pulled out relentlessly. I was screaming to get her to stop to no avail. After minutes of terror, I realized I could move my leg some. I was determined that my leg WOULDN’T stiffen up again. I got out of bed and thought of every painful step as one toward recovery; becoming myself again.

After one week, I begged coach to let me practice. He said when I could hop, I could start. I started putting weight on my leg, which seemed impossible. I broke down, and got angry; “Why did this happen to me!?” Every fall I rose from more determined. I hobbled when I ran and could jump awkwardly. Coach made me practice against our biggest player and told me that to strengthen myself, I had to push beyond my doubts and work through the pain. He was right. Sectionals came and I felt ready although not completely healed. Coach finally put me in. Within seconds the opposing team in-bounded the ball, which I intercepted. A fight for the ball started and two players knocked me over and the pain was back. With teammates and the crowd helping, I got up and made free-throws.

I did it.

Although badly injured, help from family and friends eased recovery. If my adoptive-mom wouldn’t have forced me into stretching my leg, I may have waited weeks to deal with the excruciating pain. I then realized I could get better despite injury. That enabled the ability to say, “This is horrible, but I can change this!” That challenged me; set the goal of getting back on the court. This experience showed me that no matter what impairment anyone may have, there are people who will help you recover, even when it may be painful to do so; they will be there every step of the way.

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At PACE, we want to be here for you whether you are recovering from an injury or living independently with a disability. Don’t forget to check back next week for more thoughts from the staff at PACE!

Illumination on “One Thousand Points of Light”

Contributed by Avi Laird, Low Vision Coordinator

“I don’t exist when you don’t see me
I don’t exist when you’re not here
What the eye don’t see won’t break the heart
You can make believe when we’re apart
But when you leave I disappear
When you don’t see me…”

~Bruhn, Andreas / Taylor, Andrew

Oft we miss what we do not see, what we cannot see or what we refuse to see. And often, people either do not show, or hide symptoms of a disability. Sadly, to say out-loud, “I am a person with a disability,” is somehow is looked down upon or stigmatized in our society. Or inversely looked upon as some sort of hero-worship, if a person that has a disability can do it, then so can I. Or worse yet, dismissed with a single thought, “Even I can do that…”
In the dark of night, we feel all that is negative seemingly enter us and we become alone.
Many of us become guilty of no longer talking or visiting “those people” as they take too much time, or we feel if we hurry through this for them, it will somehow get to the point we used to be. We find it easier to complete their sentences or finish other things they have started. We rush to have things like they were before.

It is the same with any disability or loss. It will never be “the same.” It will be different and it is almost certainly unfair.

Then we think, perhaps there is hope, and we expect that anything is possible. It is further possible, we reason, you did not abandon us because of what we cannot do; but rather there was another reason, and we begin to see the light.

We no longer will sit in the shadows lonely; we start slowly feeling, reaching, learning anew, and move to become independent. Adaptation revolves around a variety forms, and for those who feel the light begin to slowly warm their rightful place, we now envision a world where put in our rightful claim: we belong!

The simplest of ideas, now are reached with a friendly hand, or planned into smaller bits that progress naturally, almost unnoticed. We can visualize when you honorably come back to “see” us again. We dutifully and even loving accept you. Perhaps our lives will look upon a time when we foresee that blossom; and will not be who you left, but rather who we become.

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Be sure to check back next Friday for a new post on what’s happening at PACE.

Eliminating Barriers

Submitted by Nancy McClellan Hickey, Executive Director at PACE, Inc.

Centers for Independent Living are cross-disability. That means we serve all types of disability.

A simple statement but a rather revolutionary concept. First of all, a lot of people don’t see the link between all disabilities. That is a powerful link – barriers to independence. For the Deaf it may be communication barriers, for a person using a wheelchair it might be stairs, for someone with a mental illness it could be stigma. Though the barriers change in nature they are still barriers. CILs work with consumers to identify and eliminate barriers to their independence. Sometimes the barriers are the consumers own attitude after being surrounded by years of doubt from others. We don’t fix people, we rearrange the environment so to speak. People with disabilities are not broken, they are unique and so their needs are not always addressed in the way the world sets up for John Q Public. Some would say John is “normal”. I would not. I would say John is average. This is the revolutionary concept, setting up the environment instead of labeling people as broken.

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Be sure to check back every week for more from PACE!

What does independence mean to you?

Contributed by Kendra Schroder, Independent Living Coordinator

Independence can look very different from one person to the next. For some, independence means working with a personal care aide to get dressed, prepare a meal, and get to work. For others, independence means using adaptive eyewear while out running errands or participating in hobbies. Although it may not look the same from person to person, the ability to live life independently is a right we at PACE do not take for granted.

Through my work at PACE, I can help facilitate independence for people who feel they may have lost a sense of it in their own lives. One of the programs I get to be a part of is Illinois’s free amplified phone program through an organization called Illinois Telecommunications Access Corporation, or ITAC. I recently worked with a man who was in his nineties. He still lives completely independently at home, but has a hearing impairment and simply cannot hear to talk on the phone. This makes him feel isolated and at times, unsafe – how would he call out in case of an emergency if he can’t hear the person on the other end of the line? If his son calls to check on him and there’s something he needs, how would he communicate if he can’t hear through the receiver? After spending some time talking with him about his life, his background, and his goals related to communication via telephone, we tested phones and decided on one that worked best for him. He was amazed at how well he could hear his son’s voice on the amplified phone he chose, and he was touched that someone took the time to sit with him and talk. What he said to me at the end of our appointment really stuck: “I feel like you actually listened to me. You’re talking to me just like I’m a normal person – not talking around me, or over me, or just to my son here… Thank you for that.” For this consumer, independence meant not only communicating independently via telephone, but being given the opportunity to be communicated with – to feel as though he is a person, not just another number in the system.

We all have different paths to independence, and while the route may take different turns from one person to another, we at PACE can be here to help you navigate the twists and turns, and to lend a listening ear along the way.

Speaking Up

Submitted by Glenna Tharp, Independent Living Specialist

I’m a little bit shy in front of crowds. Sometimes when an opportunity to say something is past, I regret letting my shyness get in the way of speaking up.

Such an occasion occurred Saturday, July 25, 2015 at the PACE Picnic at Meadowbrook Park in Urbana. Board members, staff, consumers, and friends gathered for a celebration of the passing of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). It was a fine celebration with hotdogs on the grill, good side servings, beverages and a cake commemorating why we were celebrating. There was storytelling, games, awards, a raffle, and lots of good conversation among our friends. I even met some consumers that I never see because other staff serve them, which is always nice.

But on the way home, I thought Gosh, I wish I would have thanked the board for having the foresight to keep enough money in reserves, and protect our line of credit, to ride out these rough times as the state struggles with the budget. It has been a worry to EVERYONE who rely on our state government to responsibly pay for social services. Of course, the staff at PACE was concerned what would become of our consumers, and our jobs, come July 1st. I consider it a blessing that our consumers are continuing to be served, and I continue to get paid. I think we have all had to consider what we would do if the state social services no longer received services, or if our State government would collapse. What would you do?

I’m just so grateful the good board members and administrators here at PACE are on top of things.

Glenna beautifully illustrated how shyness can be a trait that gets in the way when we’re trying to communicate with others. We at PACE want to remind you that if you are a person with a disability who wants to create a goal focusing on increasing your assertiveness, we are here to help facilitate that! Assertiveness is a skill that takes time to master. You don’t have to do it alone!

Be sure to check back next Friday for a new post on what’s happening at PACE.

Facing Fear

Submitted by Sherry Longcor, Transition Coordinator

Living an independent life after institutionalization: Facing fear.

“Be of good cheer. Do not think of to-day’s failures, but of success that may come to-morrow. You have set yourselves a difficult task, but you will succeed if you persevere; and you will have a joy in overcoming obstacles–a delight in climbing rugged paths which you would perhaps never know if you did not sometimes slip backward, if the road were always smooth and pleasant. Remember, no effort that we make to attain something beautiful is ever lost.” -Helen Keller

In my role as a Transition Coordinator, I spend my work hours assisting persons with disabilities regain their independence in a community home after leaving institutions. While each person experiences great joy and excitement during this life transition, many also face fears of their own battles and hardships along this journey. Many are afraid to be alone and have fears about their ability to self-manage their own life. For some, this is the first time in their life that they are becoming truly independent.

It is important for each of us to know that this type of fear is not uncommon. Even people who have never spent time in an institution, or who have had many years of living alone, face these fears. It is natural to worry about failures and to stress over choices that we are unfamiliar, but we must remember; the only sure way to fail is when we do not try. You are never alone as long as you have courage, determination, and the will to create the life that you love. Others can help us accomplish our daily needs; but only you can feed your soul.

Be sure to check back next Friday for a new post on what’s happening at PACE.

What is the DON Score?

Submitted by Jermaine Raymer, Interim Program Director

One of the most contentious parts of the budgetary battle currently raging in the State Capitol is the Determination of Needs (DON) score. In short, this score is what determines whether someone qualifies for services through the Department of Rehabilitation’s Home Services Program. And if it is determined that a person qualifies, the DON is used towards determining the number of hours of Personal Assistant (PA) services for which they are eligible.

The minimum score to qualify for services is twenty-nine and has remained at this level for more than thirty years. However, the budget that the Governor put forward this February, proposes to raise the minimum qualifying score up to thirty-seven. This is a drastic change! There is not a transition plan in place for the more than twenty thousand Illinois residents who may lose PA services. Every person who has a DON score less than 37 would be put at risk. Many persons with disabilities utilize Personal Assistant services to remain independent, maintain jobs, and simply participate in society. And if they lose these vital services; there is a chance that they could find themselves back in a nursing home, which has proven to cost the State even more money!

We at PACE urge you to click on this link, enter your address, and contact your legislator. Simply let them know you want the DON score to remain the same! Thank you for your advocacy!

And remember, check back next Friday afternoon for a brand new blog!

The blog is back! This week we’re talking state budget.

Submitted by: Dylan Boot, Independent Living Specialist

We at PACE would like to reintroduce you to the PACE Blog.  Once per week there will be a blog posted on Fridays on various subjects.  We encourage you to check back frequently, read our blogs and, if you’d like, leave a comment on PACE’s Facebook page.

This week’s blog topic is a very serious one.  The state of Illinois still does not have a permanent budget.  In most cases, a budget is a best guess of all your income and costs for a specific amount of time, usually a month or a year.  If you are responsible, you control your costs so that they are less than or equal to your income.

The state’s budget is determined by all politicians and the Governor.  The budget must be decided by July 1st, if it is not then the state is not able pay its bills.  Most years, there is an agreement on the budget and the state pays its bills for that year.  Unfortunately, this year the politicians cannot agree, mostly because the state’s costs are much higher than its income.  Since it’s after July 1st, this means that there is no money available for many social services.

What does this mean for PACE?  Until Illinois passes its budget, PACE will not be getting any money from the state to pay any of its bills.  PACE and its staff are working hard to stay open as long as possible.  We are also working hard to advocate the importance of what we do here at PACE to the Governor and our politicians.  We encourage you to do the same!  Please call, e-mail or write your politicians and tell them to put their differences aside and pass a budget so PACE can stay open.

If you do not know who to contact, call PACE and we will be happy to look this information up for you!

And remember, check back next Friday afternoon for a brand new blog!

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.

clary-icon-2-1_1

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”

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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.

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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???

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

THE ADA AND THOSE WHO FOUGHT FOR IT

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.

Good Summer Read

My friend loaned me a book she thought I might enjoy: She was right! It was SO good, I must tell you a little bit about it.  The title is The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon.  Rachel is the  sister of a person with disabilities, and wrote a book about her experiences with her sister.   You may have heard of, because it was made into a Hallmark film – Riding the Bus with My Sister, (2005).  If you’ve seen that beautiful film, hang on if you read the book, because it’s even better!

The Story of Beautiful Girl is fiction, but tells the story of deinstitutionalization of people with disabilities.   The story begins in 1968, on a stormy November night, when a mute young woman,  Lynnie, and a deaf man, Number 42,  show up at a random farmhouse occupied by a widowed retired elementary school  teacher, Martha.  Lynnie is holding a newborn child, which the couple hides in the attic.  Shortly authorities arrive and Lynnie is captured.  Number 42 escapes.    Just as police escort her out the door, she whispers to Martha “hide her”.  That’s where the history of the characters begins to be uncovered; the drama and suspense of the hiding and the struggles of the characters unfold.  The beautiful language informs the reader of the horrors of institutional living, and the movement created for people to exercise their civil rights of self-determination.

If you’re looking for a good summer read – pick up this book, but clear your calendar because if you are like me, you won’t be able to put it down.

Ahh Spring; Preparing for Disasters with a Disability

AH  SPRING!  It’s finally here.  Just when I’m feeling all up-beat about the awakening of the earth, the budding of the trees, the joy of longer days of sunshine coaxing the flowers to bloom, the newscasts remind me that it’s also a time to get ready for possible damaging storms.  To me, this is the only negative thought of the season of Spring.

In my life experience, I’ve learned that most negative thoughts can be replaced by a positive attitude.  So I just gather my emergency preparedness items and realize how blessed I’ve been to live through a handful of tornadoes and am no worse for the wear – because I’ve been prepared.  I’ve got my flashlight, radio, extra batteries, some candles and matches – in a watertight container.  I keep a blanket handy, along with my bicycle helmet and a hatchet.  My cell phone is always near, and I have a stash of granola bars, nuts and raisins, peanut butter and crackers, and jugs of water.  If things get bad, I even have a first aid kit.  At the risk of sounding boastful, I even keep my pet taxi handy to keep my pet safe. So I figure I pretty well know how to play the disaster preparedness game.   Until I received the Emergency Preparedness Tips for Those with Functional Needs from the Illinois Terrorism Task Force.

I was amazed at how poorly I’ve been prepared for weather, or any other type of disaster!  This handy publication has chapters with specific disaster tip with titles such as:  Cognitive Impairments, Deaf or Hard of Hearing, Life Support Systems, Mental Health and Substance Abuse Problems, Mobility Impairments,  Senior, Service Animals and Pets, and Visual Impairments.  There are several pages listing what should be in a Disaster Kit, and a form for you to make your own Health Card.  It also includes several Agency references and the FEMA Guide:  Preparing for Disaster for People with Disabilites and Other Special Needs.  Go online to check it out: http://www.illinois.gov/ready/SiteCollectionDocuments/PreparednessTips_FunctionalNeeds.pdf.

 

 

 

DPN: Deaf President Now

Q: What major event took place in the deaf community in 1988?

A: Deaf President Now (DPN)!  In March 1988 deaf students at Gallaudet University rose in protest and it became known as “the week that the world heard Gallaudet.”

I had already left the previous year, so I was unable to participate.

I woke up one morning in March 1988, a cold and snowy day and went down to the corner to purchase my daily newspaper as was my habit. The headline on the newspaper was stunning: “Students Close Gallaudet University.” I couldn’t believe it!

As the week unfolded, details started trickling out bit by bit. An old friend who was outside the Mayflower hotel when it all began told me how angry students booed the announcement that a hearing president had been hired. He told me how the students had marched all the way from that hotel to Capitol Hill or the University (I can not remember which it was).

One night I drove to the campus just to see what was going on and to get a taste of the atmosphere. It was unreal, with the students totally in charge. I was allowed on campus because I was deaf, but they turned back others who were not deaf.

The editorial cartoons, the marches, Marlee Matlin on Nightline…that week was so memorable. It marked a true turning point for the deaf/hard of hearing community. Employers began to take more notice of potential deaf employees, deaf people who had never been promoted received promotions, people around the world started to change their attitudes, and deafness was everywhere in the media for a while.

What was most impressive about that week was the way the deaf/hoh community pulled together and the public relations machine was so effective. It showed that when the deaf/hard of hearing community really wants something, it knows how to get it.

“Deaf President Now” is ancient history to the current generation of deaf children. But it paved the way so that a deaf child today CAN dream of becoming president of Gallaudet University.

As everyone was saying in 1988…PAH!

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

Pursuit of Happiness

Monday, January 21st was Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday.  I had the day off work, so I took the opportunity to go with another Part-time PACE Staff member to visit a former consumer who now lives out of our service area, who we’ll call Kevin, and who happens to be a friend of my co-worker.

Kevin’s life story fascinates me.  He was born with cerebral palsy prior to passage of the ADA.  His public education was basically an exercise in warehousing by the small local school district.  At age seven, his parents divorced; and he was taken in by his parental grandparents.  This caused deep resentment by the grandparents toward Kevin’s mother.  They loved and cared for him as responsibly as they knew how.  As often happens in loving families, the caregivers feared allowing their youngster to grow and become independent from them.  The grandparents wanted Kevin to remain their little boy.  But Kevin was becoming a man.  He was very conflicted, like all people are as they grow older; he wanted to be a man, but wasn’t sure he had the skills to make his own decisions, and he didn’t want to hurt his grandparent’s feelings.  When he came to PACE he was taught communication and advocacy skills, and began to let his grandparents know, that he loved them, but at the same time wanted more independence.  Too, his grandparents began to face the fact that they were becoming less and less able to physically provide all the care Kevin needed.  So they moved into a retirement facility and Kevin moved into a nearby group home.

I had visited Kevin 13 months earlier.  What was clear at this visit is that Kevin is doing exceptionally well; is extremely happy; and is becoming his own man in his own right.  The group home is lovely and well staffed.  Kevin, to his grandparent’s chagrin, has his own bank account, debit card, and is managing his funds well.  He has a new,  reciprocally loving relationship with his mother; who is taking more responsibility for her son’s wellbeing.  He is making life decisions for himself, such as a living will, arranging his own social events, and things he just wasn’t allowed to do before he became his own advocate.

Both myself, and the other staff member who was with me on this pleasant outing, agree – thinking of Kevin is an uplifting and rewarding affirmation of the power of one finding their own voice and using it to make their life better.

Earlier that day, I listened to President Obama’s second Inaugural Address and could apply his words to Kevin’s American experience of living with freedom and liberties that once were denied him.  He is living his life in pursuit of happiness.  And seeing that helps me live mine in the same way.

 

 

The Barriers Concept

One thing people with all types of disabilities have in common is barriers.  The Independent Living movement is about removing those barriers, whatever they are and joining together all disabilities to advocate for each other as well as one’s self.   The world was designed for John Q Public… who, wouldn’t you know, doesn’t have a disability.    If the majority of people were all blind the world would be set up differently.   Perhaps we would still be riding horses that know the way.  We might all know Braille and the printed word would be obsolete until computers came along; you can bet there would not be low hanging branches over sidewalks for us to smash into.   No coat hangers off the wall that come out at just above eye level to bash is in the forehead without warning as we walk down the hallway.   To many people, lights would not be so important and to others even more important.     We might have ropes for walkways to slide our hands on to find our way.   Stories would be descriptive audio instead of visual like movies. Having a Seeing Eye dog might be as popular as cars are now.

Barriers come in different types and it helps to know them so you are aware of where you find them.

The barriers which restrict or prevent people from performing or participating and which are the focus of advocacy efforts often fall in the following areas:

Structural                        Communication

Social/Attitudinal              Economic

Psychological                    Programmatic

 

Structural /Architectural  Barriers restrict or prevent a person from free and independent movement from one place to another.

Example:  A flight of stairs can prevent a person in a wheelchair from entering a building.

Social/Attitudinal Barriers represents attitudes or personal beliefs of members of our society that are based on prejudice regarding a particular disability or people with disabilities in general.

Example: A non disabled person is hired for a job over a person with a disability even though that person’s qualifications are equal to or better than the non-disabled person’s.

Psychological Barriers are barriers maintained by people with disabilities themselves.  They exist when individuals have learned to believe that they are not capable.

Example:  A person sees no point in going to school to learn a skill, because they do not think they would get hired for a job anyway

Communication Barriers prevent the free and independent exchange of information.

Examples: A deaf person cannot use an ordinary telephone or join a meeting because they cannot hear the person’s voice.

Economic Barriers exist such that people cannot afford basics, cannot gain access to basic opportunities.

Example: A person with an illness may face high medical costs yet be unable to acquire health insurance at a reasonable cost or at all.

Programmatic Barriers exist when needs of people with disabilities are not taken into consideration in the planning of a new program or activity.

Example: A senior service that provides van service but does not provide a lift for seniors with wheelchairs therefore the senior program is not accessible to wheelchair users.

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?

Anonymous

 

Aging Baby-Boomers

I’m a baby-boomer.  Sometimes I forget how old I really am – like when I think of all the things I plan to get done during the weekend, and by noon on Saturday I’ve had to sit down and rest several times.  Or when I realize I can’t stay bent over in my flower bed very long before my back begins to hurt.  Yes – we’re all aging.  The good news (maybe) is that we’re also living longer.

Right now, I have a medical disability, but I’m not really disabled – yet.   I’m starting to think about my quality of life as I grow older.  What accommodations/equipment will I need as I become less mobile?  Will I have enough money to get the things I need?  What am I going to do when I can’t safely drive anymore?  Who can I rely on for help when I need it?

Did you know the Illinois Department on Aging is developing a State Plan on Aging?  They’ve thought of many things to consider as our population ages.  But I wonder if they will be prepared to deal with all the baby-boomers that will soon be flooding their office for services.  Will they be able to offer me choices, or will my options be limited?  Will I be allowed to make my own choices, or is their plan to manage my life?  Will the programs my parents have benefited from in their 80s be available for me if I live that long?

I’m glad I’m thinking of these things now.  I realize there are garden benches to help me tend my flowers.  And I’m beginning to know I have stamina limitations that I need to consider in regard to time management.  I also realize that I need to manage my insurance and savings plans in a way that will ensure I can afford the resources I will need.  I’m even looking into seeking advice from a financial planner or trusted friend with good financial skills.  I’m grateful I live in a town that has public transportation (both city and rural), and I probably need to learn how to use them now, rather than later.  Many people have children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, or other family members they may be relying on for help when they need it (no matter what their age), but not everyone has an offspring or extended family.  Even if they do, there is no guarantee those family members will be willing or able to help.  Hiring personal assistance should probably be considered in my financial planning.

I’m also glad there are organizations like the Illinois Department on Aging and PACE.  PACE has been asked for input on the plan, and we are advocating for independence for this aging population, and considerations for those with all types of disabilities.  I hope everyone involved in my life as I age will keep in mind “nothing about me with out me.”  Use of PACE equipment loan and personal assistant programs might also be in my future.

Self-Determinism

“One friend, one person who is truly understanding, who takes the trouble to listen to us as we consider a problem, can change our whole outlook on the world.” — Dr. E. H. Mayo

I was born in the mid-1950s to a large working-class family. We lived in what was then considered the typical traditional family, where the man was the breadwinner and the woman was wife, mother, and homemaker. I was socialized to grow up and become a wife and mother, to be pretty and well mannered, a.k.a; voiceless. For many years, I stayed true to that training. I dropped out of school, married young, and gave birth to my children instead of pursuing an education or a career.

Research shows high rates of marital failure, lowered levels of education, and greater risk of poverty and domestic abuse for females in this demographic; my life experience fits well into this statistical set. As I grow into the person I want to become I have had to face several misconceptions in my beliefs about myself and in the manner in which I could function in the world. My disabilities following brain surgery in 2005 was my first personal encounter with physical limitation, particularly an impaired ability to communicate. I quickly gained a larger perspective on the barriers faced by people with disabilities and a new respect for the difficult work required to overcome these challenges. As a person with disabilities, I simply want the supports that level the playing field…I want the same rights and dignities afforded those who are “temporarily able.”

My personal fight to recover from my medical circumstances provided not only the opportunity to recognize the true depths of my determination to succeed, but also gave me a strong desire to focus my life in the area of peer support and advocacy. My personal experience helped me understand that communication goes beyond the ability to speak and hear. Persons with physical, visual, or facial impairments also experience a loss of communication tools. I consider the use of computer emoticons (i.e., smiley faces, sad faces, angry face, etc.) to be proof of the human need to communicate with something more than words. Humans need non-verbal communication to gain the correct connotation of words. When we do not have the benefit of body language, facial expression, or tone of voice, communication can suffer. In cases of people who have sudden loss, as with stroke or traumatic brain injury, communication ability becomes crucial to understanding and helping address the many other disabling effects of these traumatizing illnesses.

I believe each and every person carries unique talents and gifts to share with our society when accessible opportunities, encouragement, peer support and strong self-determination are present. The driving force behind my goal of helping others is my desire to offer myself as a tool of support for others who are experiencing roadblocks to achieving their fullest potential. My personal history and my difficult life situations have given me the determination to fight for the life I want. Many parts of my past are painful to recall and were not filled with opportunity, encouragement, or guidance. Today I hope to use my understanding of those hardships and the perseverance of my spirit that continues to fight to make something beautiful out of those circumstances. I believe that my own experiences have given me a passion to encourage others as they define their own life course.

 

 

 

Spirit, 9 months old deaf female cat….

Spirit, 9 months old female white cat is deaf since birth. Though not all odd-eyed white cats are deaf, Spirit is one of them.

Spirit was adopted by us (Alan Thomas and Kathleen Hutton) three weeks ago.

We use our American Sign Language as the prime means of communication. By using body language, Spirit knows right away if we call her to come over.

Spirit has much sharper vision than hearing cats. Because of her deafness, she has adjusted herself to the environment. She is very sensitive to vibrations. When we enter the room where Spirit is asleep, we often tap the floor or pet her back to let her know that we are near her.

Spirit loves to be petted. She often walks up to us love and attention. A sense of touch provides smoothingness to many deaf cats.

Even though Spirit cannot hear, she knows when you are signing.  She enjoys anything that creates vibration such as a vacuum cleaner and she’d sit on it when it’s on while many other cats would run away from it.

Spirit is strictly an indoor cat but she does not miss the great outdoors by sitting by the window, watching her daily bird.

Spirit is just like any other cats when it comes to play. She loves her toys, cardboard boxes, and bottle caps. Even though she cannot hear, she never feels any different and is perhaps more affectionate because of her love of being petted.

Spirit’s world may be quiet, but it is full of colors, vibrance, touch and smell. To us, there is nothing cuter than seeing Spirit lazing on her bed, snoozing away.

We want Spirit to feel independence and can able to do anything expect hear.

Tips for deaf cat owner…

How to Help Deaf Cats Adapt.

Most cats will learn to adapt to their deafness over time but there a few things as an owner you can do to make things a little easier for them.

  • Always approach your cat from the front
  • If severely deaf and living in a busy urban area you may want to confine your cat to a penned area while outside for their safety.
  • It is possible to teach some ASL for the cat to recognize from afar, these are similar to distance dog hand signals.
  • If out at night time a flash light can be used to call your cat in. It may take some time for the cat to recognize this but cats are curious creatures, so flashing a light would grab there attention.
  • Make sure your cat is wearing a collar whilst outside which indicates that they are deaf in case they get lost.

In summary, owning a deaf cat need not be any different from owning a hearing cat. In most cases the cat will compensate for its disability and be able to live a normal happy life.

Low Vision Center is Closing

PACE legislative Tree ALERT
 
Carle Low Vision Center is closing May 31st.  Champaign-Urbana and the surrounding communities are losing a valuable service.  The closest low vision clinics to PACE consumers will be in Pontiac and Effingham.  This means that many people with visual impairments will not have access to a low vision exams.  Please contact Carle Foundation Hospital CEO, James Leonard, and voice your opinion of  Carle’s decision to close the Low Vision Center.  If you received an exam at the clinic, let him know what it meant to you.  Several people who started the East Central IL Low Vision Support Group, that meets at PACE, were also instrumental with opening the Carle Low Vision Center.  Call Dr. Leonard at 383-3003 or write him at Carle Foundation Hospital, 611 W. Park, Urbana, IL 61801.  Perhaps Carle will reconsider the decision if the community voices our concerns.

Victoria Raistrick, M.Ed..Visual Impairment Services Coordinator

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.

The Impact of Language

If you can read this without thinking “politically correct” and rolling your eyes or sighing you have achieved an open mind.

Words have connotations and denotations.
Denotation is a literal meaning of the word
Connotation is an association (emotional or otherwise) which the word evokes

Take the word “cozy”. We know it denotes warm and comfortable. Now what feeling or emotion does it bring to mind? Is it a pleasant word to you? Some will have an image of being on the couch with a quilt and pillows sipping a warm cup of tea. One woman told me it was an unpleasant word to her because it made her think of small places and she was claustrophobic. Either way there is an emotion evoked and the word takes on more meaning than just a definition.

Take the word “handicapped”. Defined it is having a disadvantage that makes doing something more difficult. To some this is the definition of disability. For others the word is offensive compared to “person with a disability”. Whether true or not, it has been suggested this word started when beggars who were disabled were in the streets with their cap in hand – begging for their very survival, well of course they could not work. Not such a good connotation. For me it is an old word from a time having a disability was like an end to life instead of a change in life.

It’s not that we can never slip into those words out of habit, it is just an awareness that sometimes words undermine what we want. A person is reduced to only their disability with words like epileptic, diabetic. Oh sure you won’t get counted off for grammar, but what else are we loosing? An actual person with a name?

Get rid of the R word like the civil rights movement got rid of the N word? I am going to.

Where does it end? Hopefully never and we keep looking at ourselves and thinking about how what we say can impact ourselves or others and we all just keep getting better and so does the world.

Momentum

I remember watching my grandfather walk in his later years and thinking he tended to go back and forth from leg to leg without bending his knees… it reminded me of a penguin. My mother took on that walk as she aged and eventually had three knee replacements…. Yes three but on two legs. I am doing the penguin imitation now with two deteriorating knees. My hip has already been replaced. You guessed it… arthritis.

It is a challenge to walk in crowds, sort of like wheeling my mother’s wheelchair in a crowd years ago. We liked to go to festivals and invariably I would get irritated with people dashing in front of us and expecting us to slow down or stop from a full roll- immediately. My mother was a large woman and we had momentum once we got started, a momentum I valued because it enhanced my push. Over time I developed a technique I would on occasion bring out. I would look past the crowd and pretend I didn’t see anyone dashing in front of us. I would barrel ahead as if daring someone to try and stop us. People are less likely to dash if you aren’t noticing them. In fact once they made the dash I would look down and see just how close we could get to them without actually touching them. I think some of them could feel the breeze. It was still a matter of holding the chair back but somehow it didn’t bother me as much as when others initiated the sudden brake. Mom wasn’t wild about the game, but I pointed out her foot rests were her first line of defense. They extended out beyond her sensitive feet – much like a cow catcher on a locomotive. I promised to be careful not to let anyone fall into her lap and no one ever did.

Unfortunately it is harder now, Mom is long gone and I am trying to hobble in the crowd from bench to chair etc. I don’t have a steel body bumper like Mom’s old wheelchair I just have a cane. I think I will have to be a lot older and cuter to get away with a cane whack maybe someday. A sudden brake of my gate now means PAIN. The people who initiate this sequence are always so oblivious to the pain they activate. Have you ever noticed how pain and anger go together? My husband use to say anger is a secondary emotion. That means you are first scared and your reaction then becomes anger. I see it a lot with fear, which is my reaction to being pushed down. Then anger because I don’t like being scared I will fall and break a piece of myself. My biology instructor use to liken it to an attack of a saber tooth tiger…. I guess the saber tooth is extinc, however, we still react to things as if we are defending our lives from that tiger because our ancestors were the fittest and survived because of the life preserving reaction. Sometimes it is just a reaction inside but none the less it is a significant fear response and tends in some of us to bring on a significant anger. That is when people get whacked with a cane or feel the breeze of a wheelchair on their heels. Until I get old and cute, I will have to grit my teeth.

By: Nancy McClellan-Hickey

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