The Consumer's Voice
26th Annual Consumer Conference
The Annual Consumer Conference is just around the corner. This year's theme will be Pathways to Employment and Beyond, focusing on gaining employment as well as living a rich fulfilling life through recreational activities. We will be offering an informational job fair and related workshops.
Please join us at the Quincy Marriott Hotel on November 30 and December 1. The Conference offers a unique opportunity for advocates and people with disabilities to network with one another and with the MRC staff. For more information call 617-204-3638 or visit mass.gov/mrc > Advocacy > Consumer Invovlvement > Consumer Conference.
Partners for Youth with Disabilities Receive $25,000 Grant from the UPS Foundation
On June 1, 2006, Senator Edward M. Kennedy joined employees of United Parcel Service (UPS) and the UPS Foundation in South Boston to award Partners for Youth with Disabilities with $25,000 grant. The funding will help support the Partners for Youth with Disabilities' extraordinary efforts towards the expansion of their mentoring program. Senator Kennedy has worked tirelessly on behalf of people with disabilities, knocking down walls of discrimination, including authoring the Americans with Disabilities Act.
A non-profit organization dedicated to empowering young people with disabilities to reach their full potential, Partners for Youth with Disabilities has served as a statewide and nationwide model for developing one-on-one mentoring programs.
Senator Kennedy met with UPS employees, Partners for Youth with Disabilities members and with individuals who will directly benefit from this award. The UPS Foundation was created in 1951 to champion innovative solutions to social problems ranging from hunger to literacy to volunteerism.
Cambridge Accepts National Organization on Disability's $25,000 Accessible America Award
On June 12, 2006, Cambridge, Massachusetts, was honored with the top prize in the National Organization on Disability's (N.O.D.) Accessible America Competition. All U.S. cities and towns were eligible to enter the competition. At the afternoon ceremony at City Hall, Cambridge Mayor Kenneth E. Reeves was on hand to accept the Accessible America top prize from N.O.D. President Michael Deland and Vice President Nancy Starnes.
Cambridge surpassed dozens of competing towns, cities and counties nationwide whose mayors or chief elected officials submitted applications describing their community-wide efforts to be welcoming and accessible to persons with disabilities. Cambridge is being heralded as a model for its focus on disability issues and its successful design of programs, services and facilities that are accessible for all citizens and visitors. According to the U.S. Census, more than 14 percent of the city's residents have physical, mental, sensory or psychiatric disabilities.
N.O.D.'s Community Partnership Program, through a generous grant from UPS, administers the $25,000 cash prize in the Accessible America Competition. The money, presented to the mayor, encourages further progress and will be used to fund local disability-related efforts.
Cambridge's thoughtful and welcoming attitude impressed the Accessible America Competition judges, five leading national disability advocates and experts. Through its Commission for Persons with Disabilities, the city encourages participation in social life, shopping and dining with a Façade Improvement Program, which offers matching grants to help sales or service establishments remove access barriers. In addition, over two dozen city parks and playgrounds have been made accessible.
The Office of Tourism and Chamber of Commerce publishes and disseminates guides that include access information. The city's public transportation system is fully accessible, and Cambridge provides seven wheelchair accessible taxis, as well as a Taxi Discount Coupon Program to expand transportation options for persons with disabilities. Citizens with disabilities serve on the local Emergency Planning Committee and work closely with Cambridge emergency management staff and public health planners to ensure emergency preparedness planning activities effectively meet the access, communication and program needs of residents with disabilities.
Cambridge's faith communities play a particularly important role in addressing the city's demographically diverse population. More than 31 percent of the city's residents speak a language other than English at home and more than 25 percent are foreign born. Cambridge created an outreach program to some ninety Christian, Jewish, Muslim and other religious congregations in the city to help them make their facilities, programs and services accessible to all worshipers with disabilities.
"Cambridge finished at the top of a group of outstanding applicants," said N.O.D. President Michael R. Deland. "I hope other communities will be inspired by Cambridge's example, as well as all of the distinguished winners of this award. Communities should strive to become more livable for everyone, including those of us with disabilities. It is exciting that so many cities and towns nationwide are committed to our goal of full participation for America's 54 million people with disabilities in all aspects of life."
Accessible America Competition applicants are asked to demonstrate an exceptional commitment to offering their citizens with disabilities full and equal opportunities to participate in community life, including access to jobs, education, religious worship, voting, transportation, housing, emergency preparedness planning and services, and the entire range of social, recreational, cultural and sports activities. A call for entries in the 2006 Accessible America Competition was issued in celebration of the 16th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act on July 26, 2006.
Webcast Commemorating the 16th Anniversary of the ADA
TVWorldwide.com, a fast-growing web-based global TV network, announced that it's Internet TV Channel for the community of people with disabilities, AT508.com (www.AT508.com), will provide an archived webcast of the National Council on Disabilities Town Hall Meeting event commemorating the 16th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Along with TV Worldwide, AT508.com channel sponsor The Pacielllo Group (TPG), is making this webcast possible through its generous support to offer a first hand perspective on issues facing the ADA as it celebrates its 16th anniversary.
The meeting, which is officially known as "A National Dialogue on the State of Disability," was held Wednesday, July 26, 2006, from 9:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m., at the National Press Building in Washington, DC. The free webcast of the meeting will be available as an archived video for one year on www.tvworldwide.com.
This town hall meeting, observing the 16th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), was made possible by strong intergovernmental support and collaboration of people throughout the federal government. This significant engagement attests to the ongoing importance of ADA. The National Council on Disability (NCD) has expressed its gratitude to the collaborating agencies that worked with NCD to plan this town hall meeting and those cosponsoring agencies.
"ADA represents a true milestone in the recognition of the rights of people with disabilities," said Paciello. "Without its passage, millions of Americans would be denied access to opportunities that are enjoyed each day by those who do not have disabilities. This is also a day to focus on the challenges that confront this growing population. As we move further into the information age, the IT industry needs to ensure that products and services are equally accessible."
"As a long-time developer of streaming media content for the community of people with disabilities, we are excited about again webcasting this important anniversary," commented Dave Gardy, Chairman and CEO of TVWorldwide.com. "Thanks to AT508.com's compelling programming, the channel has grown rapidly over the last few years."
The American Association on Mental Retardation Has a New Name!
In case you have not heard, the American Association on Mental Retardation (AAMR) in June voted to officially change its name. AAMR is now the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD).
The web site for the organization, so far, remains www.aamr.org. Visit the site to read more details about the name change.
PCA Bill Receives Unanimous Vote
A bill aimed at improving the quality of life of seniors and people with disabilities by establishing a consumer directory of qualified personal care assistants received unanimous House approval Thursday, July 27, 2006.
By a 156-0 margin, the House approved Bill H-4758, to create a statewide directory of in-home caregivers and a six-member council, led by consumers, to oversee the management of the directory.
The council would also establish a back-up system to ensure that those who need assistants can access one when their primary assistant is not available. The implementation of the new system will cost $800,000 annually.
New EEOC Publication Addresses Employment Rights of People with Hearing Loss
Q&A Fact Sheet Coincides with Anniversary of Landmark Disabilities Act
Cari M. Dominguez, Chair of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), announced the issuance of a new question-and-answer (Q&A) fact sheet on the application of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to job applicants and employees who are deaf or who have hearing impairments. The new publication, the sixth in a series of Q&A documents about specific disabilities in the workplace, is available online at www.eeoc.gov/facts/deafness.html.
"One goal of this fact sheet is to counter the myth that individuals with some level of hearing loss are generally less competent, less productive, or would require more attention and supervision than their peers who do not have hearing loss," said Dominguez, who announced the issuance of the new document at a town hall meeting sponsored by the National Council on Disability in observance of the 16th anniversary of the ADA.
She added: "As our nation observes the anniversary of the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act, we should be mindful that disability does not mean inability, and that every individual deserves the freedom to compete on a fair and level playing field. People with disabilities represent a vast pool of untapped talent for employers."
The new Q&A publication includes many real-life examples that illustrate the kinds of jobs that people with hearing loss successfully perform and the wide range of accommodations available. Topics addressed in the document include:
- When a hearing loss is a disability under the ADA;
- When an employer may ask an applicant or employee about a hearing impairment and what it should do if an applicant voluntarily discloses the impairment;
- What type of reasonable accommodation an applicant or employee with a hearing disability may need; and
- What an employer should do if it has safety concerns about an applicant or employee with a hearing impairment.
According to published reports, between 2000 and 2004, estimates of the number of people in the United States with self-described "hearing difficulty" ranged from 28.6 million to 31.5 million. A "hearing difficulty" can refer to the effects of many different hearing impairments of varying degrees. The number of individuals with hearing difficulty is expected to rise rapidly by the year 2010 when the baby-boomer generation reaches age 65. As compared to other age groups, the percentage of individuals with hearing difficulty is greatest among those individuals age 65 and above.
EEOC's latest ADA publication helps to advance the goals of the New Freedom Initiative, President George W. Bush's comprehensive strategy for the full integration of people with disabilities into all aspects of American life. The New Freedom Initiative seeks to promote greater access to technology, education, employment opportunities and community life for people with disabilities. An important part of the New Freedom Initiative strategy for increasing employment opportunities involves providing employers with technical assistance on the ADA.
EEOC enforces Title I of the ADA, which prohibits employment discrimination against people with disabilities in the private sector and state and local governments, and the Rehabilitation Act's prohibitions against disability discrimination in the federal government. In addition, the EEOC enforces other federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex and age. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.
New Services for Adults
Effective July 1, 2006, MassHealth will cover the following services for eligible adults. Certain conditions and limitations may apply, including, but not limited to, prior authorization for certain services. Providers of the services listed below should refer to their MassHealth provider manual for specific conditions and limitations.
- Dental Services: MassHealth will cover medically necessary dental services including exams, prophylaxis, restorations and certain endontics, including root canals and dentures. Some of these services need prior authorization. Adults will no longer have to qualify for a special circumstances designation for services provided on or after July 1, 2006.
- Vision Services: MassHealth will cover medically necessary eyeglasses, eyeglass parts, eyeglass dispensing, certain contact lenses and other visual aids, including magnifying aids. (These vision services are not covered for members enrolled in MassHealth Essential.)
- Chiropractor Services: MassHealth will cover medically necessary services provided by a chiropractor. (Services provided by chiropractors are not covered for members enrolled in MassHealth Essential.)
- Orthotics: MassHealth will cover medically necessary orthotic services. In addition to other changes, coverage for orthotic shoes will no longer be restricted to members with severe diabetic foot disease. (Orthotic services are not covered for members enrolled in MassHealth Essential.)
- Prosthetics: MassHealth will cover medically necessary prosthetic services.
- Certain 24-hour substance abuse treatment services: MassHealth will cover 24-hour post-medical detoxification and substance abuse treatment services, defined as Level IIIB and Level IIIC by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health's Bureau of Substance Abuse Services.
- Acute inpatient hospital administratively necessary days: MassHealth will cover all administratively necessary inpatient stays.
Fort Myers' John R. Vaughn Appointed by President Bush to National Council on Disability
John R. Vaughn, a resident of Fort Myers, Florida, was appointed by President George W. Bush to serve as a member and chairperson of the National Council on Disability (NCD) (www.ncd.gov). The U.S. Senate confirmed Mr. Vaughn's nomination on August 3, 2006.
Mr. Vaughn is a retired executive in the financial services industry. He is also a former commissioner of the Virginia Department of Rehabilitative Services and commissioner of the Virginia Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired. Mr. Vaughn was appointed to the Florida Rehabilitation Advisory Council for Blind Services by Governor Jeb Bush and was also appointed to U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Elaine Chao's Working Committee on Work Place Issues in connection with President Bush's Twenty-first Century Work Force Initiative.
East Ridge Tennessee's Lisa Matheiss Appointed by President Bush to National Council on Disability
Lisa Mattheiss, a resident of East Ridge, Tennessee, was appointed by President George W. Bush to serve as a member of the National Council on Disability (NCD) (www.ncd.gov). The U.S. Senate confirmed Mrs. Mattheiss' nomination on August 3, 2006.
Mrs. Mattheiss is the parent of a child with special needs. She is a Parents Advisory Council member/volunteer at TC Thompson Children's Hospital in Chattanooga and is the founder and executive director of LifeLine Ministry of Hamilton Baptist Church. Mrs. Mattheiss is involved with the board of Tennessee's Parent Training and Information organization, STEP, Inc. (Support and Training for Exceptional Parents, Inc.) and the Tennessee Respite Coalition.
Naperville Illinois' Victoria Ray Carlson Appointed by President Bush to National Council on Disability
Victoria Ray Carlson, a resident of Naperville, Illinois, and Iowa native, was appointed by President George W. Bush to serve as a member of the National Council on Disability (NCD) (www.ncd.gov). The U.S. Senate confirmed Ms. Carlson's nomination on August 3, 2006.
Ms. Carlson is a homemaker with three young girls. She was the executive director of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society Iowa Chapter. She has worked at the U.S. Departments of Energy and Housing and Urban Development and for Senator Robert Dole in the Republican Leader's Office. In addition, Ms. Carlson was the Iowa Organization Coordinator for Branstad for Governor and worked in the Iowa House of Representatives. Ms. Carlson was also a member of the Iowa Persons with Disabilities Commission.
New Smyrna Beach Florida's Chad Colley Appointed by President Bush to National Council on Disability
Chad Colley, a resident of New Smyrna Beach, Florida, was appointed by President George W. Bush to serve as a member of the National Council on Disability (NCD) (www.ncd.gov). The U.S. Senate confirmed Mr. Colley's nomination on August 3, 2006.
Mr. Colley is a decorated Vietnam veteran who has been active in veteran and disability issues for over three decades. In 1984, he was selected the Handicapped American on behalf of President Ronald Reagan and is a past national commander of Disabled American Veterans. Mr. Colley's service includes positions as vice chair of the President's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities and chairman of the Veterans Administration Advisory Committee on Rehabilitation, among others.
NCD is an independent federal agency making recommendations to the President and Congress to enhance the quality of life for all Americans with disabilities and their families. NCD is composed of 15 members appointed by the President and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. In its 1986 report Toward Independence, NCD first proposed that Congress enact a civil rights law for people with disabilities. In 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law.
NCD's overall purpose is to promote policies, programs, practices and procedures that guarantee equal opportunity for all individuals with disabilities, regardless of the nature or severity of the disability; and to empower individuals with disabilities to achieve economic self-sufficiency, independent living, and inclusion and integration into all aspects of society.
Reasonable Accommodations and Federally Funded Housing
Two recent HUD actions deserve the attention of disability advocates:
1. On July 7, 2006, HUD obtained a $12,000 settlement for a resident of the St. Louis City Housing Authority (SLCHA, i.e., public housing), who alleged the SLCHA violated the Fair Housing Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 in refusing to transfer her to an accessible unit.
Yvette Acon, a resident with a degenerative spinal disc disease, requested a transfer to a first-floor unit because her condition made it difficult to walk and climb stairs. Ms. Acon claimed that the SLCHA denied her request for a transfer even though she had provided medical documentation to support her need for an accessible apartment. [We all know of these cases!]
Under the Fair Housing Act and Section 504, housing providers are required to make reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities by changing their rules, policies, practices or services so a person with a disability will have an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling unit or common space.
Ms. Acon and SLCHA resolved the complaint by entering into a conciliation agreement. Under the agreement, SLCHA will pay Ms. Acon a monetary settlement of $12,000 and allow her to transfer to the first available apartment that meets her needs. [Unfortunately, we have also all heard of these situations.]
2. On July 18, 2006, HUD issued a Corrective Action Order (CAO) to the Housing Authority of the City of Gainesville, Florida, (GHA) to remedy its noncompliance with fair housing laws and regulations. During 2005, HUD found GHA to be in noncompliance with fair housing laws and regulations in several program areas.
Previously, HUD had issued letters of findings of noncompliance in GHA's Public Housing and Multifamily Housing programs with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, and had charged (GHA with violating the Fair Housing Act by failing to make a reasonable accommodation for a married couple with disabilities. GHA has not entered into a Voluntary Compliance Agreement (VCA) or undertaken the necessary steps to remedy the noncompliance. [In Information Bulletin #111, May 18, 2006, we provided a list of VCAs by Housing Authority. If your HA has an outstanding VCA and its' still violating its terms, this Gainesville complaint could be pursed.]
The CAO restricts GHA's access to all Capital Fund Program (CFP) funds not already obligated or under contract to expenditures necessary to cure the civil rights noncompliance and to remedy emergency situations. The CAO also requires GHA to obtain HUD approval for all obligations and expenditures of CFP funds. The restriction is in effect until GHA implements a HUD-approved Voluntary Compliance Agreement to remedy its fair housing deficiencies. HUD may take further enforcement actions if GHA fails to execute and implement a VCA in a timely manner.
What Disability Advocates Could Do:
While historically individual complaints filed with HUD received mixed action and results, the above two actions suggest disability advocates should file more individual complaints. The two remedies -one money for the person discriminated against and the other restricting the Housing Authority's expenditures of capital funds -may be available in other cities. Our experience is that each regional HUD office is quite different. It's quite easy: a letter to your regional HUD office on behalf of the person with the disability. We suggest you also send a copy of the complaint to national HUD to Kim Kendrick, FHEO, HUD, 451 7th St S.W., Wash, D.C., 20410.
Nothing will happen unless you take action. Power concedes nothing without a struggle.
National Council on Disability Makes Recommendations to Improve Emergency Preparedness and Response Plans for People with Disabilities in 2006 Hurricane Season
On August 3, 2006, the National Council on Disability (NCD) released The Impact of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita on People with Disabilities: A Look Back and Remaining Challenges, a guide for the President, Congress, and other emergency planners to develop inclusive emergency preparedness and response plans.
According to NCD chairperson Lex Frieden, "Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated the lives of many people who lived in the Gulf Coast region. Fortunately, millions of Americans opened their homes and their hearts to hurricane survivors while local, state and federal government employees worked around the clock to evacuate and rescue people. With almost a year since the hurricanes made landfall and wreaked havoc on the lives of many, we now have a clearer understanding of what went right, as well as what went wrong, with the response and recovery efforts."
"People with disabilities were disproportionately affected by the hurricanes because their needs were often overlooked or completely disregarded. Their evacuation, shelter and recovery experiences differed vastly from the experiences of people without disabilities. People with disabilities were often unable to evacuate because transportation was inaccessible. For example, most evacuation busses did not have wheelchair lifts. Moreover, people with visual and hearing disabilities were unable to obtain necessary information pertinent to their safety because said communication did not comply with federal law. To ensure that people with disabilities do not experience similar injustices during future catastrophes, emergency plans must acknowledge and address the difficulties experienced by people with disabilities discussed within this paper, as well as include people with disabilities in the rebuilding effort," Frieden concluded.
NCD offers findings and recommendations on the impact of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita on people with disabilities to guide the President, Congress and other emergency planners to develop inclusive emergency preparedness and response plans.
- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) should strengthen the Medicare and Medicaid accreditation requirement that nursing homes maintain comprehensive evacuation and emergency response plans, and HHS should strengthen its post-accreditation reviews of evacuation plan compliance.
- Congress should adopt the principles embodied in Livable Communities to guide the provision of reconstruction funds, promoting a Gulf Coast that includes:
- Affordable, appropriate, accessible housing
- Accessible, affordable, reliable, safe transportation
- Physical environments adjusted for inclusiveness and accessibility
- Work, volunteer, and education opportunities
- Access to key health and support services
- Access to civic, cultural, social and recreational activities
- Community and city governments should include people with disabilities in emergency planning at all levels.
- The American Red Cross should ensure shelters and other emergency services are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and Sections 504 and 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.
Based in part on its eerily prophetic 2005 report Saving Lives: Including People with Disabilities in Emergency Planning (www.ncd.gov/newsroom/publications/2005/saving_lives.htm) that preceded the disaster, and on data emerging in the storms' aftermath, NCD believes there is ample basis for believing that suffering was proportionally greater for people with disabilities than it need have been.
NCD hopes this paper will receive the attention it deserves and history will not repeat itself in this and future hurricane seasons.
For more information or to obtain a copy of the paper, please contact Mark S. Quigley at 202-272-2004.
Be Ready for B.Fit!
Outpatient Program at The Boston Home Fills Void, Provides Rehab and Wellness Services to Adults with MS
Every Thursday morning, 48-year-old Gale Jones of Boston takes The Ride to The Boston Home (TBH) in Dorchester, a long-term-care facility for adults living with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and other progressive neurological diseases. Gale looks forward to an invigorating day of rehabilitation and social interaction provided through TBH's new B.Fit! outpatient program. At TBH, she joins others in the community who have MS and whose needs for therapy and socialization have not been met - until now.
"B.Fit! fills a void by providing much needed services to adults with disabilities who are living at home. This program is an innovative response to what we have identified as an inadequate level of community-based services for this population," says Linda Guiod, RN, VP/Chapter Program at the Central New England Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS), which offers B.Fit! in partnership with The Boston Home.
According to Marva Serotkin, President and CEO of TBH, "The waiting list for The Boston Home continues to grow, and it is now at 140. It is important that these and many other underserved adults with MS have an opportunity to benefit from specialized services designed to help them become more independent and empowered. We are grateful to our colleagues from the local NMSS chapter for collaborating with us to make B.Fit! a reality."
Serotkin also recognized the Cabot Family Charitable Trust for providing a grant for start-up funding for the program.
Nurturing the Spirit, Stimulating the Mind and Addressing Clinical Concerns
Gale and the other participants in B.Fit! have access to a variety of structured and customized offerings based on their individual needs. B.Fit! includes rehabilitation for physical, occupational, and speech therapy, assistive technology and exercise. The program involves many ongoing activities provided daily for the 96 residents at TBH, with support from the Home's dedicated staff of nursing professionals, physicians, and specialists in rehabilitation, social services, wellness, spirituality, technology and nutrition. In addition, a key feature of the program is social interaction.
Gale enjoys her exercise classes and the physical and mental stimulation she receives. Most of all, she values socializing with her peers and new friends.
"Before I heard about B.Fit!, I tried to network with other people in the community who had MS," says Gale. "Now, it's much easier for me to go to The Boston Home and meet with other people in similar circumstances. The social connections at the Home are very special to me. My friends used to call me 'Miss Independent,' but it's hard to do it on your own. With the help of this program, I'm becoming 'Miss More Independent.'"
David Young-Hong, D.T., who coordinates the B.Fit! program, admires Gayle's enthusiasm. "In my experience, the social aspects of our program are just as significant as the therapies," he says. "Actually, therapeutic services work on many levels, and we provide the kind of social, emotional and intellectual support that engages the participants. At the end of the day, they leave feeling more vital and energized. Without this kind of an outlet, many people with MS can become isolated, and isolation can lead to depression."
Social activities at TBH include current events, creative writing, bridge games, entertainment and cultural outings. B.Fit! also connects participants to the outside world through what TBH residents call their "cyber cafe." Here, TBH staff assist residents and outpatients with email and other computer programs.
"The Boston Home is a pioneer in assistive technology," says Guiod. "By using the tools of advanced technology, people with MS can become more self-reliant." Devices such as voice activation, environmental controls, and digital photography with adaptive cameras are all available to program participants.
Another key program feature is care management, which helps participants navigate the health and human services network. Also, as needed, the program manager will communicate with the participants' physicians.
"You might say we're tying to build a community without walls," says Serotkin. "By offering these outpatient services, we are helping members of the community as well as our residents. Both groups have similar challenges, and they have much to share. As far as we know, The Boston Home is the country's first long-term-care facility to integrate outpatients and residents in a social and rehabilitation program that serves moderately to severely disabled adults in the continuum of care."
"This is a truly unique program," adds Young-Hong. "It is very rewarding to see our residents and the outpatients getting to know each other and supporting each other."
The smile on Gale's face speaks volumes: "I feel very comfortable at The Boston Home," she says. "It all comes together here."
Seeking Additional Support
B.Fit!, which now runs from 10:00 am-4:00 pm every Thursday, offers a sliding-fee scale to individuals based on financial need. Anyone with a progressive neurological disorder can apply.
Serotkin says that negotiations are underway to establish contracts with insurance carriers and MassHealth. TBH and NMSS are also looking for additional funding to ensure the program's continued success.
"We would like to expand our program and continue our advocacy efforts for this underserved population," Serotkin says. "We are hoping to offer B.Fit! five days a week and serve at least 30 outpatients in our first year."
The Boston Home, now celebrating its 125th anniversary, is recognized by the NMSS as the model for standard of care for adults with progressive neurological diseases. Recently, the president of NMSS presented TBH with an outstanding service award for its exemplary care. For more information or to make a referral to B.Fit!, contact David Young-Hong at 617-825-3905 x300, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit TBH's web site at www.thebostonhome.org.
MetroWest Consumer Council Minutes
June 28, 2006
Members present: Kevin Goodwin, Nan Kurtz, Patricia Laughlin and Nancy Sullivan
Members excused: Patricia Prell
Staff: Janice M. Ngau
Updates on Council Members
- Council Members expressed their continued concern for Bob Donahue and send him their best wishes
- Former Council member, Karen Foran, is expecting twins this Fall and the Council wishes her the very best.
- Nancy Sullivan shared a poster for the ADA Committee of a Hudson Fundraiser event, which will be held on September 9, 2006 from 7:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. at the Hudson Elks, and she also reported that the Hudson Community Day event scheduled for June was rained out.
- Kevin Goodwin reported on the statewide transportation committee meeting in Hyannis
- Kevin Goodwin will be attending the SRC meeting in July
- Nan Kurtz reported on the work she has been doing on emergency preparedness for people in Hudson with disabilities and who live at her housing complex. She has prepared some checklists and will share them with the Council at the July meeting.
- Kevin Goodwin has prepared a presentation to use with local community groups and disability commissions to recruit new members to the Council. He made a presentation to Council members and received very positive and supportive feedback. Council members will be sent copies to give them an opportunity to review, edit and comment.
- Kevin Goodwin will follow-up with M.O.D. to see if there are any changes of updates to the list of disability commissions for the July meeting.
- During the July meeting, the list of disability commissions and community organizations will be reviewed and a priority list will be developed for contact.
Taunton Advisory Council Minutes
April 10, 2006
Members present: Ann Marie Paulson, Will Parks, Leslie Wish, Emeka Nwokeji, Marcel Dube and our guest Sabrina Cazeau-Class. Peg Anderson, the Fall River MRC Area Director was also in attendance.
Introduction and Approval of Minutes: The meeting of the Taunton Advisory Council was called to order at 4:00 pm by the facilitator, Francis Verville. William Parks recorded the minutes. The minutes of the January 9, 2006 meeting were reviewed and approved.
Information Sharing-all: Ann Marie reported she was appointed co-chair of this year's statewide Consumer Conference. A planning committee has been formed and will be meeting in early May. Peg Anderson renewed her desire to start a similar council in Fall River and her attendance today is to get a sense of our Council. Members offered ideas, advice and support to Peg. Emeka is requesting we host a presentation by the Partners for Youth with Disabilities mentoring program (pyd.org).
MRC Update - Marcel Dube, Taunton Area Office Director
Statistics: Marcel reported on the statistics for the third quarter of the state FY 06, and 95 consumers were successfully placed so far this year. The annual goal is 136. The staff has been successful in developing 215 plans so far this year. Marcel also reported that 514 individuals have been referred to the Taunton Area Office, which is 112 percent at the 75 percent point of the year. In terms of statewide (24 offices) benchmark rankings, the Taunton Area Office is 18th for rehabilitations, 7th for acceptances and 14th for plan approvals. The number of referrals they are presently handling is overwhelming.
Personnel: No new changes. A counselor continues to be out on FMLA and we continue to have a contractor (retiree) covering the consumers on that caseload. Marcel also reported that George Brocke has recovered from his medical situation and he recently returned to his duties as the South District Director. George will be invited to our next meeting.
Career Center Activities: Taunton MRC continues to collaborate with the two Career Centers in Taunton and Attleboro, and results are good and progressive. Marcel continues to serve as the Chairperson of the Disability Action Committees (DAC) to help improve the service provision for folks with disabilities at the local Career Centers. The DAC, in cooperation with Bristol's WIB Youth Council, is hosting a resource workshop on 4/26 entitled: "Serving Youth with Disabilities."
Legislative Update: In February 2006, Marcel represented the Commissioner at a CSAVR meeting. The meeting's focus centered on developing future direction of the Public VR Program. On the federal side, the agency continues to be concerned about the reauthorization of the Rehab. Act within the Workforce Investment Act.
Public Hearing: Marcel announced the office will be hosting a MRC Public Hearing on Pandemic Preparation for the VR and Supported Employment Programs on Thursday, May 18th from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM. Marcel also reported the office and the agency are very much involved in pandemic (Avian Flu) preparation.
The Taunton Advisory Council's Annual Report was distributed. Emeka reported he is attempting to reestablish district advisory councils, in addition to local councils, like Taunton. More to come.
Marcel reminded the group they will be called upon to advocate when the need arises. The group was also informed about the Advocacy Day at the State House on 4/12 at noon to support the PCA Quality Home Care Workforce
Guest - Sabrina Cazeau, MRC Protective Services Director, presented information about Protective Services (PS) at MRC. The Protective Services Department is co-located with the VR office in Taunton. Protective Services is responsible for the investigation of complaints of abuse of individuals with disabilities (ages 18-59) by a caretaker. PS staff conduct investigations and provide services to abused individuals to prevent further injury. Their services are provided if the consumer desires them. Sabrina reported in the previous fiscal year PS staff conducted 250 investigations. Generally, 85 percent of the investigations have merit. Members were encouraged to call the Disabled Person Protection Commission at 800-426-9009, if they are aware of a disabled person being abused by a caretaker.
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CI Program Coordinator
The Consumer's Voice
This newsletter is an independent publication sponsored by the MRC State Rehabilitation Council. The opinions expressed in this newsletter do not necessarily reflect the policy and practices of the MRC. They are solely the opinions of consumers of MRC programs and services.
This information is provided by the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission.