Dr. Al Condeluci Presenting at QIDP Conference

This month, on January 29, the ARC of Illinois is hosting their 17th annual QIDP Conference for service professionals and self-advocates. Held at the ARC of Illinois office in Frankfort, Illinois, the conference begins at 8:30 am and ends at 4:30 pm. Don’t miss out on this chance to learn about how to build community and teach self-advocacy, plus four unique breakout sessions in the afternoon!

Al Condeluci: Building Community Through Social Capital

Dr. Al Condelucci, who will be presenting at the QIDP ConferenceThe ARC’s keynote speaker this year is Al Condeluci, an advocate and leader in the field of disability study. Dr. Condeluci’s work focuses on using social capital and interdependency within communities.

In his keynote presentation, Dr. Condeluci will discuss how to build community using the social capital that exists around you. Throughout his presentation, attendees will learn major elements of social capital, 4 key steps to developing new friendships, and how interdependent paradigms interact.

Al Condeluci is no stranger to Illinois. In fact, he was also the keynote speaker at the first Center for Independent Futures housing symposium! If you missed his presentation on social inclusion 3 years ago, view the video here.

Breakout Sessions: From Self-Advocacy to Government Benefits

Each attendee at the QIDP Conference will attend two out of four breakout sessions. Bruce Handler & Nora Fox will present on the safety and the dignity of risk, while Tara Ahern will be speaking about empowering survivors of sexual assault.

ARC Illinois logo, ARC Conference Attendees will also have the opportunity to hear from Sherri Schneider about government benefits and what has or hasn’t changed. Last but not least, the final option for breakout sessions will be Krescene Beck on why self-advocacy matters.

How to Register for Annual QIDP Conference

Are you interested in attending the QIDP Conference? Check out the brochure for this event and fill out the registration information! Several of Center for Independent Futures’ direct service staff will be there – go ahead and say hello!

Learn About Sexual Violence Prevention from Susy Woods

In the age of the #MeToo movement, it is becoming common to speak out against sexual violence within many industries and communities. Center for Independent Futures supports all who speak up against sexual violence, and we believe it is crucial not to leave out one population that is disproportionately affected by sexual violence – but is often the least heard.

People with disabilities are part of a historically marginalized group who often rely on others for assistance and care. Unfortunately, sometimes the people designated as caretakers or friends take advantage of a lack of sex education for individuals with disabilities.

The following workshops are from Susy Woods. Susy conducts workshops year round about educational rights and sex education for individuals with disabilities. Her previous audiences include Public Health departments and DRS staff, as well as families and agency staff.

Center for Independent Futures Offers Workshops

Flyer for parents’ workshop

Thanks to generous funding from the Woman’s Club of Evanston and the A. Montgomery Ward Foundation, we are offering two workshops on Monday, October 22 at One Rotary Center. The first workshop from 1:00-3:00 pm is for parents of students with disabilities in high school or transition programs. The second workshop is for teachers and agency staff from 4:30-6:30 pm and covers topics like the warning signs of sexual assault and what to teach.

Flyer for school & agency staff workshop

Susy Woods is presenting these workshops to educate families, teachers, and agency staff about sexual violence prevention and how to handle sexual violence accusations. To register for the parent workshop, visit the event page. For school & agency staff, register here. The Rotary Center has very limited seating, so act fast!

Classes for Individuals with Disabilities

Finally, we are offering classes for individuals with disabilities to teach them about self-defense and sexual violence. Many sex education classes exclude people with disabilities, even though this group has the same natural feelings that any other group of adults may feel.

We are offering six classes for women with disabilities, including self-defense classes at Tier 1 Training Center. We will also host six classes for men with disabilities. Led by a male staff member, the class will cover topics including definitions of sexual violence and consent.

We will include these classes on our upcoming activities calendar and added to the online calendar. You can find registration details there as well.

Inclusive Education on Sexual Violence Prevention

We are proud to offer these workshops and classes to the Evanston and North Shore communities. To the Woman’s Club of Evanston, we want to offer our thanks for making these events possible.

3 Things to Know About the ADA

Logo with ADA on it, as well as traditional symbols for various disabilitiesIn 1990, Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in a step to shift the country toward accessibility for all. The 28th anniversary of the bill’s passage is on July 26th. Since 1990, the ADA has been defined and redefined again to include all levels of disabilities, including mental health challenges.

Laws can change as new situations arise. In fact, that is how the United States has expanded the ADA so far. With new challenges, lawmakers include additional elements or amendments to solve similar problems in the future. What are some other ways the law has changed? What else do individuals with disabilities and families need to know?

How to Get Accommodations You Need

For most, if not all, accommodations, it is necessary to have the proper documentation ready. According to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, disability documentation may take the form of a letter on medical letterhead stationery, records from a government agency that issues benefits, or certification from a private counselor that provides benefits.

Other documentation may apply, so always ask to make sure you know what you need.

How to Receive Support at Universities

The process of receiving support differs from school to school, but similar documentation is usually necessary. Following documentation, students can work with the appropriate office to coordinate support.

Being a self-advocate is important to receiving support in college. Students with disabilities may need to approach their teachers and discuss their support needs in person. For example, when classes are in inaccessible buildings, it could even be possible to move the class to an accessible classroom.

How to Check for Accommodations at Businesses

Logo for ADA Network checklistAll government buildings and offices, as well as businesses and nonprofits, must be accessible to people with disabilities on an equal basis as others. The ADA National Network provides checklists online to help with this.

The ADA Network has several checklist versions available, including fillable and non-fillable Word documents and PDFs. The sections in this checklist include accessibility of entrances, bathrooms, and access to goods and services.

Finding accessibility resources is not always easy. But if you know what businesses and buildings are supposed to have, you can help make the world more accessible for everyone.

Medicaid Cuts Threaten Our Community

United States Capitol BuildingDear friends,

Recent media has focused on how Russia may have impacted the election and the voting process, one of the cornerstones of our democracy. As we share concerns about threats from others, we must be equally concerned about threats from within.

A very serious threat that requires your immediate attention and action is proposed changes to Medicaid funding. By June 30, the Senate is expected to vote on legislation to significantly alter and reduce services provided through the Medicaid program. This proposed reduction will drastically affect the lives of individuals with disabilities, impacting their access to the basic liberties of Americans. 

At risk are Medicaid services that provide essential supports, including Home and Community Based Services. These allow individuals to access the workplace, purchase and prepare meals and engage with fellow community members. All of these everyday activities may be threatened by the proposed cuts.

Now is the time to act to protect these liberties. I implore you to call your elected representatives to share the devastating impact that cuts to Medicaid would have on your family and your community. To find contact information for your representative, click here. Senators outside of Illinois also need to hear our voices, particularly in Alaska, Arizona, Maine, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. If you know anyone in these states, encourage them to call their Senators to support Medicaid.

Thank you for joining with us to protect the futures of individuals with disabilities.

Sincerely,

Ann C. Sickon
Executive Director
Center for Independent Futures

 

To learn more about the proposed bill, view information from the Arc of the United States by clicking here.

Click here to read a letter from the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law about the damages these cuts will cause in communities.

Sign On to Improve Paratransit Services

Photo of Pace transit busGetting around the community is essential to a full life. The Americans with Disabilities Act ensures the existence of paratransit to supplement accessible public transportation, providing individualized rides without fixed routes or schedules. Unfortunately, these services don’t allow the same flexibility as other methods of transportation.

“The way the system is currently designed, you have to call 24 hours ahead for next-day service,” Stephen Hiatt-Leonard explains. “Persons who are certified to use the service have to plan their schedules around transportation. There is no spontaneity in their lives.”

Stephen, a student at Southern Illinois University, is working to change these problems to give individuals with disabilities access to the transportation they need to take advantage of daily opportunities. He created a petition directed at Pace Suburban Bus, which oversees paratransit services in Chicagoland.

To support Stephen’s campaign to improve these transportation services, click here to sign his petition on Change.org. Read on below for a letter from Stephen about why this change is so important to individuals with disabilities.

Hello,

My name is Stephen Hiatt-Leonard. I’m a senior at Southern Illinois University Carbondale currently majoring in rehabilitation services. I’m also an ADA Pace Paratransit user.

I came to the realization this summer that ADA Paratransit does not give individuals with disabilities who are eligible for the service the flexibility to do things with their friends or at a moment’s notice – because we have to call 24 hours in advance for next-day service.

It is my goal to change that and have ADA Paratransit services available the same day clients call for reservations. The Southern Illinois University Carbondale paratransit system has something similar to this where we can call 24 hours or 1-2 hours for same-day service.

My paratransit work began at SIU, where the paratransit system did not serve students well. As a Senator for students with disabilities in the Undergraduate Student Government, I worked with administration to correct the problem. In a year, we had a new paratransit system in place.

Next, on to Chicago and Pace. There is a lot of work to do to make Pace more user-friendly. I began a petition on Change.org and am currently accepting signatures. The major change is to make the service more accessible to passengers through the ability to call and be picked up in a short period of time, like an hour, rather than making a reservation the day before. The current system limits the ability to make and keep last-minute appointments, to interact in the community as others are able to do, and to be spontaneous. This update is not going to happen quickly, but my hope is that eventually we will be able to see the change.

Stephen Hiatt-Leonard

Evanston, Ill.
Student at Southern Illinois University Carbondale
Rehabilitation Services program at the Rehabilitation Institute

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