From the Editor's Desk
Elaine McHugh

The Consumer's Voice had its first successful mailing using our new format. Many of you contacted us with your thoughts and suggestions. Most have been positive and very much appreciated.

In our last issue, we invited our readers to consider writing an article for future issues. Gail Rosensweig accepted the challenge and her article, Emergency Service Providers, a community based alternative to the emergency room for individuals experiencing a mental health or emotional crisis, appears in this issue.

Also appearing in this issue, we received an article from Barbara Walz about Overdrive Media. Barbara introduces the system and speaks of the great success she has had being able to access books from the library system via an online digital library.

Should you like to write an article for the Consumer's Voice please call me at 617-204-3664. We look forward to your call.

The Annual Consumer Conference planning continues. This year's Conference theme is Beyond Independence . The Conference sponsors are the MRC, MCDHH, MCB and SILC. Each agency will be sending out their own invitations to consumers. If you are interested please call your case manager or counselor.

The SRC will be meeting on June 6, 2011 at the Lawrence Public Library. The agenda includes a public hearing for the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC) Vocational Rehabilitation and State Supported Employment Programs from 2:30pm-3:30pm.

One last thought/comment. We have had great response from readers who would like to switch from the Consumer's Voice as a paper document to the Consumer's Voice sent electronically. If this would be your choice please e-mail us at consumer.involvement@mrc.state.ma.us. Please include your name and mailing address so we may correct our records.
 

From the Director's Desk
Emeka Nwokeji

I intend to use this article to welcome you to the MRC Consumer Involvement Program and the State Rehabilitation Council and to increase your awareness and knowledge of Consumer Involvement activities.

On March 14, 2011, the State Independent Living Council (SILC) organized a well-attended Legislative Education Day at the State House. This was made possible by the collaboration and co-sponsorship of the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC), the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind (MCB), Massachusetts Commission for Deaf and Hard of Hearing (MCDHH), the State Rehabilitation Council (SRC) as well as the Disability Policy Consortium (DPC) and many others.

Steve Higgins, outgoing MASILC Coordinator, told me that over 250 people came to the State House for this important gathering of citizens with disabilities, their families, friends and those who provide services to them. This event opened up with Commissioner Charles Carr's remarks. He recognized the importance of Personal Care Attendant (PCA) services.

House of Representatives, State Senators and their aides prepared for and received a number of visits from attendees. Every visit showed the strong support for programming and budgets that support the consumer's right to live independently in the community and work in the profession of their choice. As you may know, the State budget process begins with the Governor's budget, released in January 2011. At the time of the Legislative Education Day the Governor's budget had undergone many amendment measures, stemming from public hearings held by the Joint Committee of the House/Senate Ways and Means Committee. As a result, the Governor has proposed a cut to the MRC line item 4120-4000, which will impact the following MRC programs.

Independent Living Services will receive a cut of about $550,000. In addition, the Housing Registry budget, that at this time is down to $100,000, will be eliminated. Furthermore, the MRC Adult Supported Living Program will be cut about $250,000.

As we are about to go to press, the MRC continues to receive further budget cuts. The FY12 Budget is not yet final. The budget will move through the House and Senate and each branch will release their budget; the House and Senate will have the opportunity to override the Governor's vetoes. Since the final FY12 Budget will not be available for a few months, we must work under the assumption that the Governor's budget will take effect in July. "As such, we will soon develop plans to implement these reductions", said Commissioner Charles Carr.
 

Massachusetts Annual Independent Living Education Day at the State House
Melodee Whitman

Funding for Independent Living Centers benefit all citizens of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Independent Living Centers are facing a cut in the Governor's Budget for 2012 of $550,000 beginning in July 2011. If these cuts materialize more people with disabilities will be left without options.

In 2010 ILCs assisted 192 people to move from costly institutional settings to a community of their choice. Another 183 people are in the process of achieving the same goal. The transition from an institutional setting to the community saves countless dollars for the Commonwealth.

Independent Living Centers answer over 10,000 phone inquiries from consumers and family members each year.

Independent Living Centers provide assistance to consumers to find employment in partnership with Vocational Rehabilitation Services.

My attendance at the Independent Living Day brought back fond memories of my work as an intern under Gov. Paul Cellucci in 1998. Today, I am visiting my Representative to speak about Independent Living and the necessity of keeping these programs adequately funded. Additionally, I am emphasizing the cost effectiveness of community living versus existing in an institutional setting.

During the day I met advocates from the Berkshires to Boston. People with whom I spoke had varying stories of their personal journey with disability. Every attendee had the same goal: keep adequate funding for Independent Living Centers and continue to offer living in a community setting.
 

EEOC Announces Final Bipartisan Regulations for the ADA Amendments Act: Regulations Implement Congressional Intent to Simplify Definition of Disability
Source: The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's EEOC

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's (EEOC) final regulations to implement the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA) are now available for public view on the Federal Register website at www.ofr.gov

Like the law they implement, the regulations are designed to simplify the determination of who has a "disability" and make it easier for people to establish that they are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

"The ADAAA is a very important civil rights law," said EEOC Chair Jacqueline A. Berrien. "The regulations developed by the Commission to implement the ADAAA clarify the requirements of the law for all stakeholders, which is one of the Commission's most important responsibilities."

"Based on the hard work we did at the Commission over the past months, I am confident these regulations will work well for both people with disabilities and employers," said Commissioner Chai Feldblum, who joined the EEOC in April, 2010. "It was our job as an agency to carry out the intent of this landmark law and I believe we have done so successfully." Feldblum was one of the lead negotiators on the original ADA as well as on the Amendments Act.

"Just as the ADAAA was the result of a considerable bipartisan effort by Congress, the final rule represents a concerted effort of EEOC Commissioners representing both parties to arrive at regulations that hold true to that bipartisan Congressional intent," said Commissioner Constance S. Barker. "I was pleased to have been able to vote in favor of the final rule."

The ADAAA went into effect on January 1, 2009. In the ADAAA, Congress directed the EEOC to revise its regulations to conform to changes made by the Act, and expressly authorized the EEOC to do so. The EEOC issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking comment on proposed regulations on September 23, 2009, and received well over 600 public comments in response. The final regulations reflect the feedback the EEOC received from a broad spectrum of stakeholders.

The ADAAA overturned several Supreme Court decisions that Congress believed had interpreted the definition of "disability" too narrowly, resulting in a denial of protection for many individuals with impairments such as cancer, diabetes or epilepsy. The ADAAA states that the definition of disability should be interpreted in favor of broad coverage of individuals. The effect of these changes is to make it easier for an individual seeking protection under the ADA to establish that he or she has a disability within the meaning of the ADA.

The ADAAA and the final regulations keep the ADAAA's definition of the term "disability" as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; a record (or past history) of such an impairment; or being regarded as having a disability. But the law made significant changes in how those terms are interpreted, and the regulations implement those changes.

Based on the statutory requirements, the regulations set forth a list of principles to guide the determination of whether a person has a disability. For example, the principles provide that an impairment need not prevent or severely or significantly restrict performance of a major life activity to be considered a disability. Additionally, whether impairment is a disability should be construed broadly, to the maximum extent allowable under the law. The principles also provide that, with one exception (ordinary eyeglasses or contact lenses), "mitigating measures," such as medication and assistive devices like hearing aids, must not be considered when determining whether someone has a disability. Furthermore, impairments that are episodic (such as epilepsy) or in remission (such as cancer) are disabilities if they would be substantially limiting when active.

The regulations clarify that the term "major life activities" includes "major bodily functions," such as functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, and brain, neurological, and endocrine functions. The regulations also make clear that, as under the old ADA, not every impairment will constitute a disability. The regulations include examples of impairments that should easily be concluded to be disabilities, such as HIV infection, diabetes, epilepsy, and bipolar disorder.

Following the dictates of the ADAAA, the regulations also make it easier for individuals to establish coverage under the "regarded as" part of the definition of "disability." Establishing such coverage used to pose significant hurdles, but under the new law, the focus is on how the person was treated rather than on what an employer believes about the nature of the person's impairment.

The Commission has released two Question-and-Answer documents about the regulations to aid the public and employers including small business in understanding the law and new regulations. The ADAAA regulations, accompanying Question and Answer documents and a fact sheet are available on the EEOC website at www.eeoc.qov/.

The EEOC enforces the nation's laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.qov.

Patrick-Murray Administration Announces $110 Million In Federal Funding For Community Living Initiatives

Patrick-Murray administration announced that Massachusetts will receive $110 million in federal funds over five years as part of the Money Follows the Person (MFP) program, which supports seniors and individuals with disabilities so they may live in their own homes or in community settings successfully. Massachusetts is one of 13 states to receive federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) funding for the program and will receive $13.5 million in the first year, the largest grant awarded.

"We have always been committed to the principle of Community First and ensuring that Massachusetts residents have more choices for access to care and how they want to live," said Gov. Patrick. "We will use this funding to ensure that both seniors and individuals with disabilities who want to live in their own homes and communities have the support they need to do so successfully."

With this federal funding, the state will support the transition of more than 2,200 Medicaid-eligible individuals who are currently living in institutional settings, including nursing homes and rehabilitation facilities, into community-based care. As part of this effort, the state will initiate a more robust means of identifying eligible participants; counsel individuals about available community-living options; and provide transition and long-term support services.

"This grant offers significant support for seniors and individuals with disabilities," said Secretary of Health and Human Services Dr. JudyAnn Bigby. "By offering more funding for community supports, we are giving individuals an array of options for enriched residential living and care."

The MFP program provides individuals living in nursing homes or other institutions with new opportunities to live in the community with the services and supports they need. Individuals who will benefit from these home-and-community based services include elders and people with intellectual, developmental and/or physical disabilities, mental illness, and brain injury, among other conditions. "This federal funding is a tremendous boost to our efforts to expand choices and improve the lives of our members," said Medicaid Director Terry Dougherty. "This project will strengthen our commitment to transitioning elders and people with disabilities to the community from institutional settings and improving MassHealth's quality infrastructure, data resources, and reporting capabilities."

Charles Carr, Commissioner of the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission, added: "Our cross-disability approach will greatly advance our efforts to make sure that people in institutional settings, regardless of their disability, have the opportunity to move to the community."
 

"The Executive Office of Elder Affairs welcomes this additional funding to offer a broader array of services and supports to those individuals who would prefer to return to community living from their institutional settings," said Secretary of the Executive Office of Elder Affairs, Ann L. Hartstein. "This grant will allow us to fulfill the dreams of people with disabilities who prefer to live in their homes with community-based supports."

"The Independent Living Centers are looking forward to making this new opportunity for people with disabilities a reality for those currently stuck in institutional settings," said Jim Krudenier, Executive Director of the Stavros Center for Independent Living.

"Money Follows the Person will provide an additional opportunity for the Commonwealth's Aging and Disability Consortia to assist nursing facility residents to successfully transition to community settings," said Dale Mitchell, Executive Director of Ethos, a non-profit organization that promotes the independence, dignity, and well-being of elders and people with disabilities.

As part of this initiative, the Executive Office of Health and Human Services has a Memorandum of Agreement with the Department of Housing and Community Development to collaborate on the creation of housing options for individuals transitioning from institutions into the community over the course of the five-year grant demonstration period.

The Office of Medicaid, which is serving as the grant lead, is collaborating with a broad range of state government partners, including the Executive Office of Elder Affairs, the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission, and the Departments of Developmental Services, Mental Health, and Public Health.

George Fortier appointed to Area Director for the Milford Area Office
Dino DeBartolomeis, West District Director

On behalf of the Agency, I am pleased to announce that George Fortier has been appointed to the position of Area Director for the Milford Area Office.

George has been employed with the MRC since 1978. He has been a Unit Supervisor for the Milford Area Office for the past 17 years and has also served as a Unit Supervisor for 11 years in the Natick, Worcester and Sturbridge Area Offices.

George has a Master's Degree and a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies in Counseling Psychology from Anna Maria College and from Assumption College. He is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor and a Licensed Rehabilitation Counselor.

Since 1998, George has also been an adjunct professor at Assumption College. Please join me in wishing George the very best of success in his new position of Area Director.
 

Appointment of Mark Dore, Area Director of the Greenfield Area Office
Dino DeBartolomeis, West District Director

On behalf of the Agency, I am pleased to announce that Mark Dore has been appointed to the position of Area Director of the Greenfield Area Office.

Mark has been employed with MRC in the Pittsfield Area Office as a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing since 1994; he has also provided services to the Greenfield and North Adams Area Offices as well.

Mark has a CAGS in Rehabilitation Administration from San Diego State University and also earned an Executive Master of Management and Disability Services (EMMDS) from the University of San Francisco.

Prior to his employment with the MRC, Mark was the Director of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services at Stavros Center for Independent Living, Inc. in Springfield, MA.

Mark has been a strong and motivating force in furthering statewide and community based services for the deaf and hard of hearing. Again, please join me in wishing Mark the very best of success in his new position of Area Director.
 

Diversity Director
Mary F. Connelly, Esq.

My name is Mary F. Connelly, Esquire and on March 14, 2011, I became the MRC's Director of Diversity. Many of you are familiar with my biography because Deputy Commissioner Goshgarian emailed all staff announcing my arrival.

Therefore, I will just summarize it here: I am a member of the Massachusetts Bar and a graduate of Boston University School of Law. I have been employed by the Commonwealth since January of 1996 in roles related to Civil Rights compliance. Before joining state service, I was employed as a staff attorney at the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute.

I have been asked to describe what I see myself doing as the agency's Director of Diversity. Executive Order 526 which Governor Patrick signed into law on February 17, 2011 governs the work of Diversity Directors like me who take responsibility for:

  • Affirmative Action/Equal Employment Compliance
  • Assisting with Recruitment and Outreach; Bulletin 16 Compliance (Programmatic Access for People with Limited English Proficiency)
  • Bulletin 19 Compliance (Physical and Programmatic Access for People with Disabilities)
  • Diversity/Civil Rights Training
  • Ensuring Non-Discrimination in Agency Policies/Practices
  • Hiring Oversight/Monitoring
  • Oversight of Agency Supplier Diversity (formerly Affirmative Marketing) Program Compliance
  • Processing Reasonable Accommodation Requests
  • Sexual Harassment /Discrimination Investigations

I may also conduct inquiries into claims of workplace violence.

The above duties involve interacting with applicants, employees and recipients of services. Typically, I work closely with a variety of managers to resolve issues brought to my attention. To address discrimination claims brought forward by clients, I work closely with the Ombudsperson and with Area Directors. Once Mr. Albert Jones retires in late June, 2011, I will also assume his duties as Human Resources Liaison. I am fortunate enough to already be acquainted with many of you since I served as the MRC's Diversity Officer in the past when I was an employee of the EHS HR Cluster. My hope is that I will be able to act as a resource for any of you with questions about matters related to the roles of Director of Diversity or HR Liaison.

I maintain an open door policy and welcome your questions. My office is located on the 6th floor at AO. My email address is Mary.Connelly@MassMail.state.ma.us and my telephone number is 617-204-3736.

Experience teaches that email is often the best way to reach me. I am delighted to be here at the MRC and look forward to hearing from you about how I can assist you with your Diversity related needs.
 

Did You Know?
Girard A. Plante

After a bicycle accident on a crisp autumn evening on September 30, 1974, I became the next person with a disability in my hometown in upstate New York. The result of my supposed teen-age invincibility was a spinal cord injury at the C3-4 level.

Some 36 years later, I still vividly recall lying on the ground staring straight up into a star-filled sky willing my body to pick itself up and get ready for the next early-morning delivery of the daily newspaper, then off to high school with my twin and youngest sister.

Normalcy would not return the way me and my wonderful family prayed it might. Instead, my limp body got lifted onto a stretcher and taken on a fast and frightening trip to the hospital where I was born. I faced a future filled with uncertainty as I stayed six weeks in the Acute Care setting without moving anything but my head from side to side. Then a three-week stay in a cross-town hospital proudly proclaimed as a bona fide spinal cord rehabilitation facility. That archaic hospital was more akin to Civil War era than 1970s Vietnam War rehab. As a result, my courageous parents mutually agreed to send me nearly 3,000 miles to Englewood, Colorado, to the world-renown Craig Hospital, which specializes exclusively in treating and caring for people with spinal cord injuries and severe head trauma. I realized quickly the world of disability would be foreign. At 15 years young I yearned to return home to family, friends, and familiarity and continue our previous life.

Three months at Craig provided me with a comprehensive education that taught me how to live with my disability and gave me the knowledge required to educate caregivers. One of the first aspects of working with my Occupational Therapist, Cathy Manley, who helped rebuild my life, would be to communicate. The preferred tool was an electric typewriter with its cumbersome carriage that slid right to left upon typing each sentence.

Typing each key stroke while holding a mouth stick between my teeth was challenging and quickly fatiguing to my neck's weakened muscles. Putting words to paper never seemed so slow or awkward. Frustration adjusting to the newfangled writing tool nearly grew out of control. Giving up and giving in seemed a better option.

After a few weeks, I began to see my key pecking pick up considerably in speed and proficiency. My newfound ability to communicate surprised even this formerly superb athletic boy whose optimism shone brightly from the moment I jumped out of bed to begin each day - no matter the weather or the chores that lie ahead.

In 1982, I traded in my old Royal for the newer sleek, carriage-free IBM Selectric III typewriter. The next upgrade to my writing machine came six years later with the incredibly versatile Word processor. Certainly, the typewriter became a dinosaur fraught with limits. Or so I thought.

Turn the calendar ahead to the 21st century to January 2011, and for the first time in the 36 years living with my disability, I learn about Typewriter Art. That's the assignment given me by the Voice Editor Elaine McHugh for this issue.

Could creating art be even remotely possible, never mind probable, using a typewriter?
Sure enough such works of art did come to life on the typewriter by artist Paul Smith, who never bought into the myth that cerebral palsy dictated a destiny to uselessness. Yet creating art from a typewriter? Even I was skeptical, until I researched Smith's amazing story.

Severe spasticity spurred Smith's creativity in devising a technique to use the typewriter to create pictures of places he frequently visited. Smith would lift his stronger left arm over his right arm to control the spasticity and allow for a more precise key stroke. Not having the ability to press keys simultaneously, he locked the Shift key down at all times to create his pictures. The following characters that appear atop the number keys allowed Smith to work his magic: @ # $ % ^ & * ( ) _

Paul Smith was born in Philadelphia on September 21, 1921. He didn't attend public school. He learned from his parents and educated himself. Along with becoming a unique artist who mastered his gift of creating pictures using the crude method of a typewriter, Smith's mastery at chess grabbed attention amongst the board game's elite.

Smith's favorite creations were the places he visited frequently and the daily life he witnessed since childhood. He created dozens of pictures of boats, fishermen hauling in their day's catch, ships and seascape backgrounds. And his myriad other creations included notable people such as American presidents. Although he never published his works of art, Smith's art has been placed into collections.

Paul Smith never sought fame as he contentedly created typewriter art in his family home. Yet fame found him as his amazing work caught the eyes of many interested in his unique method, which began when he was age 15.

Despite his well-documented accounts of how he created art using a typewriter, Smith has had detractors. One artist claimed that Smith "copied" one of his "original" pictures, and then discounted the originality of Smith's decades-long typewriter art portfolio.

Nevertheless, Smith has a legion of followers who maintain his collection of works on a website. Paul Smith died June 25, 2007. He was 85.

To learn more about Paul Smith, visit www.paulsmithfoundation.org
 

Emergency Service Providers
Gail Rosensweig

Individuals experiencing a mental health or emotional crisis now have somewhere to turn for help other than a hospital Emergency Room, and a number to call other than 911 involving the police.

There are 21 innovative mental health Emergency Service Programs (ESP's) in Massachusetts, each serving a particular service area. Trained mental health ESP teams are now available all day, every day, to provide mobile mental health services in ESP site offices and, when appropriate, community based crisis stabilization beds. Alternatively, an ESP team can make a home visit or go anyplace within their service area, where the person being visited feels comfortable.

ESP's are a community based alternative to the Emergency Room. ESP mental health clinical and nursing staff provide behavioral health, crisis assessment, intervention and stabilization services. All MassHealth and Medicare recipients are eligible for ESP services, and most ESP's accept some private insurance. All ESP's provide services to the uninsured.

Many people experiencing a psychiatric crisis have the common experience of staying in the Emergency Room for hours even days waiting for evaluation, discharge or admission to a mental health facility.

ESP settings are much more comfortable than the hospital Emergency Room, where people with mental illness are often forced to remove their clothing, be put in restraints or seclusion awaiting evaluation and referral. If there is a medical issue the ESP will send the person to the Emergency Room for medical clearance. In fact, some ESP's have established working arrangements with local Emergency Rooms. In most cases, it is not necessary to send the person to the Emergency Room.

Stabilization beds at the community based ESP office are short term and designed to provide a home like environment that encourages recovery. Utilization of respite beds often prevents a psychiatric facility admission. It is important to understand that most ESP teams include a certified peer specialist, someone who has lived the experience of having a mental illness, who is a uniquely qualified and experienced counselor and understands what the ESP client is going through.

To access an ESP quickly, call the statewide ESP toll free number (877) 382-1609 and enter your zip code and get the number for your local ESP. ESP lines are staffed by masters' level clinicians 24 hours per day, 7 days a week. Needs are assessed and a treatment plan is put into place by the consumer and the team. If a person is not connected to a mental health professional, appropriate arrangements are made. A listing of ESP's and the communities they cover is available at www.masspartnership.com, click on ESP Directory.

Gail Rosensweig is an Occupational Therapist currently working as a research assistant at the Center for Public Representation (CPR). CPR is a public interest law firm representing people with disabilities and has offices in Newton and Northampton, MA. CPR's Emergency Services Initiative encourages the use of ESP's as an alternative to the hospital Emergency Room.
 

Neurologic Music Therapy
Larry Espling

Neurologic Music Therapy is the therapeutic application of music to cognitive, sensory, and motor dysfunctions. It is based on neuroscience research and utilizes standardized techniques that are targeted at a specific brain function and at improving a specific neurological deficit. Individuals with neurological based motor difficulties, speech/language delays, behavioral issues, and genetic or congenital disorders may benefit from this therapeutic intervention. The neurologic music therapist works very closely with the multi-disciplinary team in developing goals and objectives that meet functional outcomes.

Many children with special needs have an interest to play an instrument, but struggle with traditional music lessons. The neurological music therapist develops music lessons that are individualized to emphasize each child's particular strengths. Material is presented in a multi-sensory format that is fun and engaging. Adaptations may include: Color coding to replace or augment traditional music notation. Use of visual schedules and other visual aids to increase focus and decrease frustration. The use of improvisation and song writing to practice learned skills. Inclusion of the child's preferred music and activities. Adaptation of the physical environment as needed.

Each Neurologic Music Therapy technique is designed to target a specific brain function. Research has shown that rhythm changes the brain's behavior and alters the responses of the neurological system. These changes can be seen in the domains of sensor, motor, cognitive, and speech/language functions.

The Neurologic Music Therapy sessions are fun and interactive. They can be individual or a group. Each consists of singing, movement, playing instruments, song writing and listening.
 

Options Counseling
Rachel Weiner, Director of Options Counseling Program, at Executive Office of Elder Affairs

Options Counseling assists individuals in need of long term care support to make an informed choice about the services and settings that best meet their long term support needs, encouraging the widest possible use of community-based options to allow people to live as independently as possible in the setting of their choice.

Individuals and caregivers receive unbiased information about a range of long term care support options, such as personal care services, transportation, and medication management and are informed of the resources to help pay for services.

The program also provides decision-support to identify next steps in the process and help in connecting with services if needed. Options Counseling is a free service and made available statewide through community-based agencies.

The services are for seniors age 60+ and adults with a disability.

Options Counseling is administered by the Executive Office of Elder Affairs and the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission and is a service of the Aging and Disability Resources Consortia (ADRC).

To locate an Options counselor near you please call the Executive Office of Elder Affairs at 617-727-7750.

Overdrive Media
Barbara Walz

I am a MRC client and I want to share a program that I've found helpful. It's called Overdrive Media and it's available free through your public library. I discovered this when I became unable to read books. Holding them, repeatedly turning the pages and holding my neck still, is a problem. I do use all the free media available such as books on CD and MP3s but this goes a step further. I can use it without sitting still, changing discs or putting things in or on my ears.

To access this program I go through the Central Western Massachusetts Online Digital Catalog. If you are in another part of the state you would use the library system you are a part of, say the Minuteman or the Northeast Mass. To be able to use this service you need a library card that is current and in good standing. Call or go to your public library to get set up with the latter. This makes thousands of titles available to you. There are several genres too. Once you are ready, you can use this service any time.

There are several devices you can use to run the Online Digital Catalog. I use a PC but it runs on Mac and handheld too. When you get on Overdrive there are many ways to search. The home page allows you to see the new titles and examples that run on different gadgets. It is important to check and see if your device is compatible.

Also, there is a drop down search menu. My favorite is the advanced search. Here you can limit your search to device, language, author, subject, date added and show only titles that are current. It allows you to have up to 7 books at a time and gives you 2-3 weeks to listen to them. And if a book isn't available you may reserve it for later use and they will send you an email message when it is ready. You can also get videos and e-books there.

Once you go on the site you will find it very helpful. Everything I've said and more is plainly there. There is also a My Help Beta. If you aren't comfortable with computers, call your library and set up a time they can assist you. If you don't have an Internet connection go to the library and use theirs. And if you don't have a computer, they can set you up with one to use in the library.

I feel fortunate to have things like this available to me. More and more, instead of disabled I feel differently abled!

Barbara Walz is a patron of Forbes Library, Northampton, MA.

Featured Artist

Leo V. Stronach, a Boston resident, was exposed to fine arts through education and the Museum of Fine Arts. Leo indulges in multiple mediums such as watercolor, pastels, colored pencil, graphite, charcoal, photography, ceramics and woodworking.

To contact this artist please email Artwiz37@yahoo.com
 

The Consumer's Voice

A publication of the MRC State Rehabilitation Council
Youcef "Joe" Bellil, Chairperson
Charles Carr, Commissioner, MRC
Elaine McHugh, Editor

Contributing Writers
Mary F. Connelly, Esquire
Larry Espling
Girard A. Plante
Gail Rosenswieg
Barbara Walz
Melodee Whitman

MRC Staff Editors
Emeka Nwokeji, Director, Consumer Involvement
Sheila Wojdakowski, HR/Customer Relations
Leslie Wish, ICC Program Coordinator
Lisa Weber, CI Program Coordinator

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.

For further information contact Emeka Nwokeji, Director of the Consumer Involvement Program, at 617-204-3665. To receive the newsletter electronically, send an e-mail to consumer.involvement@mrc.state.ma.us


This information is provided by the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission.