Members of Congress are back home this week for recess, so it’s the perfect time to meet with them about the Disability Integration Act (DIA)! If your Senators or Representative have still not signed on to the DIA, take action over the recess by urging them to become a cosponsor!
The Disability Integration Act (S. 910 and H.R. 2472) is a critical bill that would reverse the institutional bias and help disabled people stay in our homes and communities. The DIA is the next logical step in our fight for disability rights and the only piece of legislation that will protect our community from institutionalization. We need ALL of our Members of Congress to support the DIA!
We know the disability community has the power to make things happen, and every meeting, email, call, and action counts. Use this recess to educate your Senators and Representative on the DIA and urge them to become a cosponsor! Tell them that living in our own communities and making choices about our lives is our right, and as our elected officials, it’s their responsibility to protect that!
Learn more about the DIA at www.disabilityintegrationact.org.
by Andy Rausch and Joe Reinecker
SMILE is a new positive behavior support system SKIL has developed recently. SMILE is an acronym that stands for Successful Manageable Inclusion Leadership and Encouraging. The concept was first brought to CEO Shari Coatney's attention by SKIL Special Projects Coordinator John Stacy Denham, who had read about Fortune 500 companies adopting similar programs.
“I had originally talked to Shari Coatney about setting it up with the kid's program, and when she heard about the positive behavior support I was interested in putting together for that, she thought that was something we could do system-wide, completely across the board,” explains Denham.
“Basically what it does is it sets up positive behaviors you want to see and it rewards people for that as opposed to coming down on people for breaking the rules.” The concept behind SMILE is that it establishes a shared language and verbiage that all customers and employees at SKIL can use. For example, Information and Referral Specialist Heather House recently coined the term SKILsters for customers and representatives, and the term has since caught on.
The idea behind SMILE is to enforce inclusion and to make everyone feel they are part of a collective family at SKIL. According to Denham, the introductory SMILE project was handing out little cut-out smiley faces to people who were smiling as an attempt to reward desirable behavior.
Hello, I am a deaf doctoral candidate at the California School of Professional Psychology at Alliant International University, doing my dissertation on the social experiences of deaf/Deaf or hard of hearing people in social interactions. The purpose of this study is to understand social experiences that deaf children have had, and how those experiences affect them as adults.
I am distributing this survey to deaf/Deaf and hard of hearing people who are in regular contact with hearing people, have had hearing impairments before the age of three, and live in the United States and Canada. The survey will take around 25-35 minutes to complete. I understand that your time is limited, and your participation is appreciated. Your participation would be voluntary and anonymous. There will be a drawing for five people to win a $50 Amazon gift card for participating. The odds of winning are between 3% and 7%, depending on the number of responses.
To take the survey, go to this link:
To learn more about the study, you can also visit this website:
Many thanks in advance,
Holly Siegrist, M.A., M.S.
Clinical Psychology Psy.D. Doctoral Candidate
California School of Professional Psychology
Alliant International University
San Francisco Campus
Doris Ekstrom participated in the Fishing Has No Boundaries event in Hayward, WI, for 20 years and always enjoyed attending, not only for the fishing, but to visit with friends she had met over the years. She was known for her smile and outgoing personality: she always visited with everyone. In December of 1985, she had toxic shock syndrome and in January of 1986, she had both legs amputated below the knees along with most of her fingers. After 17 weeks in the hospital, she said,” I went in the hospital on a gurney and walked out on new legs.”
She was now on her way to a new lifestyle, and did not let these new challenges stop her. She was still able to fish with the help of a sleeve that fit on her left arm to hold her fishing rod and she had enough of her fingers on her right hand to be able to reel the fish in. In October of 2001 she was diagnosed with breast cancer and from then until her death in November of 2010 she kept her attitude positive. This scholarship is in her honor and what Fishing Has No Boundaries meant to her.
More information can be found at the FHNB, Inc website.
by Andy Rausch and Joe Reinecker
ADAPT (Americans Disabled for Acessible Public Transit) is a national grassroots community that organizes disability rights activists to engage in nonviolent direct action, including civil disobedience, to assure the civil and human rights of people with disabilities to live in freedom. When ADAPT first began in 1983, its primary mission was to assist the disabled in getting quality public transportation. Since that time their goals have changed, becoming broader. Today they strive for equal rights for the disabled in just about every arena possible.
The Kansas ADAPT group was established in 1991. At one time SKIL, like many other Kansas centers for independent living, was heavily involved in this grassroots activism.
“At one point by the late 1990s to the early 2000s, Kansas had one of the biggest groups in the country,” explains Mike Oxford, national organizer for ADAPT. “We had four different state sub-groups, and we were very active with these different groups. But frankly, around the time of the Great Recession of 2008, the budget were a big harm. Then behind that came changes to the largest funding streams that the centers were using—the Medicaid self-directed kind of services—and those things changed the way the centers had previously had income and operating budgets, which hurt their ability to help fund grassroots efforts like ADAPT. Combining with that has been our modern era of the Brownback Administration and things like Kancare and managed care and all of that... Those things created a climate and conditions where centers didn't feel like they had the ability to donate money and engage in grassroots activism the way they had previously.”
Today, Oxford says, Kansas ADAPT is starting to reemerge in the wake of government-orchestrated threats to the disabled community. “A lot of these centers are coming back to these grassroots movements and working through this,” Oxford explains. “So I'm really excited. We've been through a lot, but we still maintained a presence. We still maintained our ADAPT identity here in Kansas. We're still very well known and respected. I'm just looking for being in a zeitgeist where we're going to go the other way, where centers are now going to feel like they have to reengage in activism and they want to get involved in this. Because we're fighting for our lives right now. There are threats such as cutting Medicaid to trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act to threatening Medicare. Over the years I've seen that the real grassroots groups rise up when they feel threatened, and right now the threat is real and the need to fight back is very big.”
This past year Kansas ADAPT held a protest outside Senator Moran's office in Pittsburg in an attempt to convince the senator not to vote for the dismantling of the ADA. “That was one of the best protests we saw here in Kansas this last year,” says Oxford.
There are talks of a reemergence of ADAPT at SKIL in Parsons. Parties interested in getting involved can go to the Kansas ADAPT page on Facebook for more information or contact SKIL to express their interest directly.