Independence With a Disability February 2008 MILP Montana Independent Living Project Promoting Independence for People With Disabilities
Serving: Beaverhead, Broadwater, Deer Lodge, Gallatin, Granite, Jefferson, Lewis & Clark, Madison, Meagher, Park, Powell, Silver Bow, Sweet Grass, and Wheatland counties.
2008: A New Vision of Transportation
It is a new year and MILP is looking forward to many creative and innovative new services in the disability community. Among our major goals for 2008 is to plan, develop, and implement a Transportation Voucher System in Montana and our staff is already hard at work seeking funding, information, and resources to accomplish this goal. In rural areas where there is little or no public transportation, this innovative strategy is a method for directly increasing opportunities for people with disabilities to participate in community life. The transportation voucher model is extremely flexible and adaptable both as a stand-alone program or a supplement to existing public transportation system. Our vision is to develop a network of individuals who may be paid, volunteer and/or any public or private transportation providers that are willing to provide transportation services for those in need. The option development relies on consumers to pilot demonstration models which may be unique to a community and builds on the strength of a consumer's current social network and ingenuity. This may involve building a "Pay Per Ride" service provided by family, volunteers, students, etc. or organizing and hitch-hiking a coalition of drivers working for automotive dealers that already traverse the city many times a day. In Helena and Bozeman, MILP has submitted grant applications to MT DOT for "New Freedom" funds. If granted, this would fund the beginning phase of the voucher project. The goal is to produce viable models in a community which can then be integrated into its Transportation Advisory Counsel's (TAC) coordinated plan. It would then be adopted as a part of the public transportation service options for the disability community in general.
Is Your Home Accessible?
Another one of MILP's major goal areas for 2008 is to establish and maintain a Helena chapter of the Regional Access Mobility Program (RAMP) of Montana. The RAMP program of Montana, currently serving Missoula and the Ravalli County area, is a network of resources pertaining to structural modifications to improve accessibility in the home. RAMP assists people with disabilities in acquiring structural modifications such as ramps, lifts, grab-bars, widened door spaces, etc. in their homes. MILP hopes to coordinate with the program director from the Missoula chapter of RAMP to locate information, funding, and resources to mirror their accomplishments and develop lasting resources in the Helena area. Recently, MILP obtained funds from the Montana Association for Rehabilitation (MAR) to facilitate a community meeting to introduce the RAMP program to local carpenters' unions, labor groups, community services providers, and others interested in developing long-term community capacity to support and expand a network of resources that will be available for people with disabilities seeking structural home modifications for accessibility. The following are just a few of the services that the Helena chapter of RAMP will provide:
Locating low-cost or donated materials,
Coordinating with volunteers, local carpenters' unions, labor groups, and other resources,
Providing access consulting,
Providing design information, and
Conducting ADA compliance reviews.
Beware! The Lowdown on Scams
We have all probably been told to be aware of scams, identity theft and other cons. We also tend to think that "it wont happen to me". Con artists are very good at what they do and , many times, people are drawn into a scam without even realizing it. Not only can your credit and bank accounts be at risk, but your Medicaid, Medicare, private insurance, and even social security can be stolen. The recent holiday season brings out the charitable side in all of us. Merchandisers, organizations, and scammers alike know this and prey on our compassion. Our intent is not to scare anyone, but please be careful to protect yourself. Telephone scams are on the incline. NEVER give out your personal information to a caller and never sign a form unless you know exactly what you are signing. Don't accept offers to profit fro cashing a money order, claiming a lottery ticket or to receive a wire transfer. Remember: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Also keep in mind these other safety tips: 1) Be extra cautious when out doing your shopping; keep your handbag or wallet within your reach, lock your car, pay attention to your surroundings and people "hanging out". At home, be cautious of opening your door for a stranger. People in our communities have been taken advantage of while trying to offer assistance to a "stranger in need". Always shred or tear up credit card offers, personal mail, and any other identifying information. Call someone you trust if you think you have been targeted or think you may have inadvertently given in to a scam. We are always available to confidentially discuss any issues such as these. -Tami Hoar-Butte
TIDBITS Did You Know...
-It takes a week to make a jellybean.
-The Baby Ruth candy bar was actually named after Grover Cleveland's baby daughter, Ruth.
-In Temperance, MS, you can't walk a dog without dressing it in diapers.
-Falling coconuts kill 150 people every year.
ATTENTION! POLL WORKERS NEEDED!
MILP is currently teaming up with the Montana Advocacy Program to recruit potential poll workers for the 2008 primary and general elections. MAP will provide training to people with or without disabilities in all aspects of disability etiquette and laws in the voting setting.
Call 1-800-245-4743 for more information!
Update on Accessibility for Performing Arts
When Same Difference Inclusive Theatre Company, an outreach program of Silver Bow Developmental Disabilities Council in Butte, determined that they were in need of an affordable and accessible performance space, they had their work cut out for them. Because this company features performers with and without disabilities and focuses on disabilities awareness, several agencies in Butte were willing to reduce or waive rental fees to support the cause. However, accessible venues could not be found. This prompted Founding Director, Melissa Ann Hansen, an Independent Living Specialist at Montana Independent Living Project, to seek assistance from a variety of resources to build an 87 foot indoor ramp at a theatre space donated to the group by community Counseling and Correctional Services. At a loss for funding, Hansen nearly rented a storage unit and vowed to run the theatre from her car, as she did when the program was established in 2004. Prior to doing that, she approached Montana Independent Living Project for assistance, and to her delight, was pledged support in creating accessibility at the new theatre space. The ramp is being built by Sayatovic Construction of Butte, with volunteer assistance from members of Same Difference Inclusive Theatre Company. The ramp spans two stairwells, and provides for audience members to enter the theatre as well as the accessible restrooms,and features a back ramp that will allow performers with mobility needs to enter the stage. Thank you Montana Independent Living Project, Community Counseling and Correctional Services, Sayatovic Construction, and the volunteers who are improving accessibility for so many.
-Melissa Ann Hansen-Butte
Smile...You're Getting Older!!
Being in the generation lovingly referred to as the "baby boomers" and realizing that this group is rapidly approaching senior citizen status, I have been thinking, "What will it be like for me as I age?" As if in answer to my question, I received these tidbits in my email. It may not answer all of my questions, but at least it can bring a smile to my face!
-Reporters interviewing a 104 year-old woman: Reporters ask: "And what do you think is the best thing about being 104?" The woman replies: "No peer pressure."
-The Senility Prayer: Grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway, the good fortune to run into the ones I do, and the eyesight to tell the difference.
-I've had two bypass surgeries, a hip replacement, new knees, fought prostate cancer and diabetes. I'm half blind, can't hear anything quieter than a jet engine, and I take 40 different medications that make me dizzy, winded, and subject to blackouts. I have bouts of dementia, poor circulation, and can hardly feel my hands and feet anymore. I can't remember whether I'm 85 or 92 and have lost all my friends....Thank God I still have my driver's license!
-From the desk of Connie, SDPAS Helena
What's New in Self-Directed Personal Assistance?
Since we're unveiling our first newsletter in almost a decade, it seemed like an excellent opportunity to get some news out to all of our Self-Directed Personal Assistance Services (SDPAS) Program consumers and workers. First off, a new year means new forms for Personal Care Assistants (PCA's). Please make sure to obtain these forms and start using them as soon as possible. Most importantly, MILP is further encouraging consumer-direction and is no longer conducting PCA background checks but leaving the decision, instead, to the consumer. Also, the w-4 and I-9 forms are updated yearly, so fresh forms should always be kept handy. Second, most of you are aware of the new Policies and Procedures Manual- if not, please contact your local SDPAS Program Manager as soon as possible. It is critical that we get acknowledgements back regarding this change, so please do your best to get yours in.
Thirdly, be sure to keep the 2008 PCA time period sheet handy as it has also been updated.
Finally, please be sure-as consumers- to train your PCA's in the appropriate way to fill out time-sheets. If there is any confusion, your local SDPAS Program Manager is always available to help.
Here is to a fabulous 2008 and feel free to call whenever we can help!
Independence with Limited Ability
Independence and the ability to perform basic activities of daily living are of little concern to many, but to me, they have been a life-long struggle. I am an Independent Living Specialist at Montana Independent Living Project, in Helena and I lost both of my arms in 1963. I have since had prostheses in the form of hooks and have adapted to life with limited abilities. Recently, I experienced another accident and underwent surgery, followed by 56 days without the use of my prostheses, and extensive rehabilitative physical therapy. The recent loss of my prostheses has been an eye-opening experience for me. Until now, I had nearly forgotten what it was like to not be able to eat, toilet, dress, or otherwise function without the aide of another person. Being totally dependent for a period of time and having to re-learn how to perform the functions of daily living has instilled a new and revitalized appreciation for the abilities that I do have, limited though they may be.
This is an example of the inherent value of individuals with disabilities working with others who have disabilities. Living day to day with a disability and its ups and downs, gives the employees at MILP a peer perspective of the ongoing challenges our consumers face. Or passion and intensity about noncompliance with disability laws and programs is often viewed as "maladaptive, anger, or unhappiness", but we feel that it is more often fueled by lack of understanding from the general public and the insistence that we just be "patient". Many times, patience is just not an option.
Don't Miss It! A presentation by Same Difference Inclusive Theatre Company With Members of Montana Thespian Troupe 5474 & the Butte High School Drama Club in ZOMBIE PROM A New Musical
Music by Dana P. Rowe Book and Lyrics by John Dempsey Based on a story by John Dempsey and Hugh Murphy
Directed by Melissa Ann Hansen Musical Performance by the Butte High Band Music conducted by Andrew Scruggs
Proceeds to benefit Montana Thespian Troupe 5474, Butte High School
Butte High School Auditorium March 14th-16th
Friday 7pm Saturday 2pm and 7pm Sunday 2pm and 7pm
COST: Students $8 Adults $10 Seniors $8
Zombie Prom is produced through special arrangement with Samuel French, Inc.
Come dressed in a zombie costume! Best costume wins a fabulous prize!
Service Animals: It's the Law
Service animals are animals that are individually trained to perform tasks for people with disabilities such as guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling wheelchairs, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, or performing other special tasks. Service animals are working animals, not pets. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), businesses and organizations that serve the public must allow people with disabilities to bring their service animals into all areas of the facility where customers are normally allowed to go. This federal law applies to all businesses open to the public, including restaurants, hotels, taxis and shuttles, grocery stores, hospitals and medical offices, theatres, health clubs, parks, and zoos. The following are just a few guidelines set down by the ADA that businesses must adhere to in regard to service animals:
-Businesses may ask if an anmimal is a service animal or ask what tasks the animal has been trained to perform, but cannot require special ID cards for the animal or ask about the person's disability.
-People with disabilities who use service animals cannot be charged extra fees, isolated from other patrons, or treated less favorably than other patrons.
-A person with a disability cannot be asked to remove his/her service animal from the premises unless: (1) the animal is out of control and the owner does not take effective action to control it or (2) the animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others.
-Businesses that sell or prepare food must allow service animals in public areas even if state or local health codes prohibit animals on the premises.
Imagine being able to visit your friends or family and not having to be concerned about gaining entrance to the house/apartment. Also imagine being able to use the bathroom when you are visiting and not having to cut your meeting short to find a restroom that is accessible. A new movement within the Independent Living community is afoot which will make change and do just that. MILP has recently become involved in a new structural accessibility incentive called Visitability. Visitability deals with possible changes in codes and guidelines for the way homes are built to allow for basic accessibility. The changes in standards involve:
-At least one entrance without steps,
-Wider door spaces, and
-An accessible 1/2 bathroom on the main floor.
MILP staff recently attended an informational seminar and training conference to gain familiarity with the concept of Visitability and is currently in the planning stage for taking action on it. MILP plans to use Peer Advocates to immerse themselves in the community and get the word out on Visitability. Stay tuned, this is just the first stride in developing long-term standards for accessible home building.
Quote of the Day
"I told the doctor that I broke my leg in two places...He told me to stop going to those places."
The Year in Review: The Best of 2007
In the past year, MILP has served over 300 consumers and provided information and referral services to at least 350 individuals with disabilities. The following information shows the approximate number of consumers served during 2007, with needs in seven of our major service areas:
-Assistive Technology 15
-IL & Life Skills Training 150
-Personal Assistance 115
In 2007, MILP employed 3 IL Specialists, 3 SDPAS Program Managers, and 6 Peer Advocates along with its Executive Director to provide Direct Support Services to its consumers and 5 administrative and financial employees to research, develop, and maintain new and existing services. MILP also employed 262 people in the SDPAS program. Many thanks, also, to the MILP Board of Directors; including: President Sam Prestipino, Monica Garrahan, Scott Birkenbuel, Janice Doggett, Judy Harris, Sam Larango, and Elizabeth Chute. Among MILP's many ongoing advancement incentives in 2007 are the expansion of youth, transportation, and access to health care services. During 2007, MILP increased its number of consumers between the ages of 5 and 24 by 77%. Two ongoing youth programs include:
-The Same Difference Inclusive Theatre Company-an innovative public education and community recreation program for youth with and without disabilities, and
-The Equity Project-a classroom model/service learning project aimed at youth to adult transition services.
Continued participation in the Transportation Advisory Council by MILP's Executive Director, 2 IL specialists and at least 2 Peers has ensured that the disability community's voice is at the table in transportation related issues. MILP staff and Peers also participated in the AimFree Health Club Accessibility incentive by performing accessibility surveys at local health clubs in Helena, Butte, and Bozeman. This incentive provided an accurate picture of the current status of health club accessibility and paved the way for future incentives to improve access to health care in the community.
Montana Independent Living Project, Inc. (MILP) is a not-for-profit agency that provides services that promote independence for people with disabilities in fourteen counties in Montana. MILP's primary mission is to promote independence for people with disabilities. We strive to support the development and expansion of community-based services that directly facilitate independence, productivity, and quality of life for people with disabilities. Our four core services include:
-Information and Referral- Our trained and knowledgeable staff are available to provide information and/or referrals to outside agencies regarding all aspects of disability needs.
-Independent Living Skills Training- We have advocates available to assist people with disabilities in obtaining the skills they need to live independently.
-Individual and Group Advocacy- We can provide information and training regarding individual civil rights and responsibilities involving local, state, and national issues.
-Peer Advocacy- A person who has experienced a disability may be able to provide peer advice and support to others with disabilities in a one-on one setting.
MILP is also a participant in the Medicaid Self-Directed Personal Assistance Services (SDPAS) Program. This program is designed to support consumers who wish to manage their own in-home personal care services. Whether you are in need of assistance with housing, transportation, personal assistance, access to health care, accessibility, social security, public assistance, or any number of other services, MILP's trained professionals are here to get you the support you need.
Epilepsy and Genius
"Sometimes the same things that cause epilepsy result in giftedness. If you damage an area of the brain early enough in life, the corresponding area on the other side has a chance to over-develop."
This is just one of many theories in the mysterious connection between Epilepsy and Genius. Socrates, Aristotle, Sir Isaac Newton, Pythagoras, and Leonardo de Vinci are just a few of many great minds thought to have also experienced Epilepsy.
Montana Independent Living Project
1820 11th Avenue Helena, MT 59601 406-442-5755
626 Ferguson Suite 1 Bozeman, MT 59718 406-522-7300
MILP is a not-for-profit agency governed by a consumer-controlled Board of Directors whose lives have been personally impacted by a disability. It is funded in part by the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as amended in 1992 (Title VII- Independent Living Services), and the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (Disability Services Division). To obtain accessible formats of this website information contact MILP's Helena office at (406) 442-5755 or toll free at 1-800-735-6457.