New In-Home Technologies for Independent Living

Many barriers to independent living exist for people with disabilities, but new in-home technologies can help most families remove some obstacles. While these technology options won’t replace the development of all life skills, they can support  individuals to live more independent lives and offer their families peace of mind. At our housing conference in October, we invited a panel of tech innovators to present their remote support solutions. Read more to learn about these tools.

Night Owl Support Systems

Based in Madison, Wisconsin, Night Owl Support Systems specializes in home monitoring technology. They tailor equipment to each person’s need, so they are able to offer individualized support. Night Owl’s services consist of live remote monitoring. By providing care remotely, Night Owl offers clients independence, safety, and security.

With the use of person pagers, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, temperature and moisture sensors, and movement sensors, remote monitor staff interacts when assistance is needed. This option serves as an alternative to paid overnight care. Prior to beginning services, Night Owl’s staff works with clients to develop support plans. To learn more about Night Owl Support Systems, visit their website today

Rest Assured

Since 2006, Rest Assured has been providing cost-effective care to individuals with disabilities. Rest Assured provides remote support for people with disabilities, whether living independently or with their families.

The support Rest Assured provides can be tailored to the needs of each individual. With varying levels of support, clients can choose from active support and check-ins or emergency watch as needed. Various supports are available, including two-way audio/visual communication, smoke and temperature detectors, electronic sensors, and more. To get in touch with Rest Assured, visit their website

Simply Home

Committed to innovation, Simply Home’s founders dreamed of creating a way for seniors and individuals with disabilities to live at home. With more choice and control, Simply Home’s clients are able to develop their independent living skills.

Beginning with a person-centered assessment, Simply Home then designs a custom system. After activating the new system, individuals with disabilities can often live independently, relying on real-time alerts and insights alongside ongoing customer service. Click here to watch a full demo. Find out if Simply Home is right for you by contacting them.

New In-Home Technologies Make a Difference

Do you or someone you know need assistance living independently? Find out if one of these new in-home technologies is the right choice. Reach out to these passionate, innovative companies to discover what remote supports could mean for you and your loved ones.

In-Home Support Tech Contacts

Night Owl Support Systems, LLC: Duane Tempel

Rest Assured: Dustin Wright

Simply Home: Cameron Kempson

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!

Opportunities for Continuing Education for Adults

Offering continuing education for adults is important to the growth of an inclusive community. That’s why Center for Independent Futures was proud to offer three opportunities to expand horizons last week. Together, we learned from an expert on sexual education and from individuals with disabilities, creating opportunities for new perspectives.

Changing How “Intelligence” Is Defined

On Sunday, October 21st, we were happy to offer a free screening of Dan Habib’s new film Intelligent Lives. On this crisp autumn day, we gathered with members of the Evanston community and beyond to share how we think of intelligence.

A father and son laugh together. The words "The IQ test told us nothing about my child's potential" are in front of brown background.There are nine different, commonly recognized types of intelligence. These different types range from traditional ideas of intelligence, like mathematical-logical thinking and linguistics. However, this idea also includes types of intelligence like interpersonal and existential intelligences.

Intelligent Lives tackles this idea by following the lives of three individuals with disabilities who have received low IQ test scores, yet they are able to thrive in their full, busy lives. Each of these individuals has a different type of intelligence that helps them succeed. Micah, for example, has high interpersonal intelligence and is great with people; Naieer has spatial intelligence that informs his art.

Many of the film screening attendees shared that they enjoyed the film. One young man left the film and, feeling empowered, he told us, “I could be like Naieer or Micah. I could go to school or live on my own like them.”

Reflecting on Sex Education for People With Disabilities

White letters on blue background says Know More. White text on black background says Stop Sexual Violence.Monday, October 22nd, Susy Woods joined us to discuss sexual education for people with disabilities in two separate workshops. Susy Woods has been a disability advocate for 36 years, serves on the ARC of Ilinois Board, is active in Illinois Imagines, and so much more. Over the course of her long career, she found that both parents and educators needed help figuring out how to include people with disabilities in sex education.

In two workshops, one for parents and the other for educators, Susy discussed real-world examples of sexual violence and the warning signs of sexual abuse. We are grateful that Susy took the time to travel from Springfield and share her knowledge. Stay tuned for video from the workshops!

Last week was a big one here at Center for Independent Futures! We all learned a bunch about intelligence and sexual violence prevention. If you are interested in learning more about either of these events, please email Connor Larsen or call (847) 328-2044.

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.

Explore Housing & Supports with Experts

We are proud to announce our 2018 housing conference Community Partnerships: Creating Housing and Support Options for Individuals with Disabilities.

Join us at National Louis University’s Northshore campus on Friday, October 12th from 8:30 am – 3:30 pm, and hear from a variety of professionals working to create and support housing options for individuals with disabilities. Purchase tickets on the event page.

We are pleased to offer Human Service Professionals and Educators a certificate for 6 CEU/CPDUs for the day.

Options in Inclusive Community Housing

Young woman smiling into camera in front of blurred backgroundOur keynote speaker, Micaela Connery, is the founder and CEO of The Kelsey. Inspired by her cousin Kelsey, Micaela has been working on inclusion in communities her entire life. She has seen firsthand the housing crisis facing adults with disabilities and their families. She spent a year studying this issue in detail at the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies. The Kelsey exists to turn the challenge of disability housing into the opportunity of an inclusive community.

Community Partner Panels: Supports & Housing

Developers across the country are partnering with stakeholders to create supported alternative housing solutions. Representatives from The Kelsey, HODC, Scioto Properties, Rainbow Village, Movin’ Out and Three Oaks Communities will present how they are creating exciting opportunities.

Our remote support provider panel features Night Owl Support Systems, LLC, Rest Assured, and Simply Home. The panelists will explore how technologies are being used to support individuals with disabilities in living more independently.

Hear from families working to create community-based alternative housing options using our New Futures Initiative. With funding from The Coleman Foundation, we have partnered with agencies like Clearbrook  and the families they serve to work toward creating alternative housing options.

Engage Civic Leaders for Support

Former Oak Park Mayor David Pope Our endnote speaker, former Mayor David Pope, will share how you can effectively engage elected leaders and city administrators in your community. David now works with Oak Park Residence Corporation to create diverse communities in Oak Park.

Clark McCain (The Coleman Foundation) will provide closing statements on building community partnerships within our own communities.

Interested in learning about community-based housing alternatives? Don’t wait! Get your tickets for this conference today!

For more information and questions about registration, email our office or call (847) 328-2044.

Sponsors

Coleman foundation logo@properties logo with red @ sign

Summer Camp for Transition Students

The end of summer is approaching, but at Center for Independent Futures, we will be leaving summer with a bang! This summer, we hosted two summer camp options for Evanston Township High School Transition House students. The first, Life Tools Camp, we have been offering for eight years, and the second is a five-week Transportation Camp.

Community Resources at Life Tools Camp

Transition students smile during game of kickball at Life Skills CampCynthia and Sharon have run Life Tools Camp since the beginning of this program. Between the two of them, they have yet to miss a year! According to Cynthia, at Life Tools Camp, “We spend time in the community each day, learning safe routes to walk to some destinations and taking the bus or Metra to others.”

As a result, Life Tools Camp students were able to visit and learn about community resources. The students learned from ComEd Ambassador Brian about energy use and conservation, plus a former student from the Transition House met with the campers and discussed how the experience impacted them. In addition to these activities, the group visited the Evanston Public Library, walked to the Evanston Ecology Center, and even took a trip to downtown Chicago – a first for some students.

From learning to playing, Life Tools Camp is an opportunity for students to receive hands-on training in critical life tools while also getting to know their community.

Discovering Transit with Transportation Camp

We hosted a new summer camp too: Transportation Camp. Over the course of five weeks, students from the Transition House met with Sharon and Laura on Fridays.

Each week, they met at the Center for Independent Futures office, and then they went over the information they needed to know for the day. They were asked questions such as, “When do you use your Ventra card?” and “Which stops will we get on and off at today?” The camp covered transportation via Metra, CTA train or bus, and navigating the Evanston area.

We were excited to provide this opportunity, and we hope to offer similar Transportation Camps in the future.

Grateful for Our Community Supporters

Evanston Community Foundation funded our Transportation Camp grantWe want to thank all the Evanston community for welcoming our campers throughout these programs. In addition, we want to thank the Evanston Community Foundation for graciously funding our new Transportation Camp opportunity.

We also want to thank Evanston Township High School for partnering with us to offer life skills programming to their Transition House students. To learn more about our work in schools, click here.

Presentation at National Down Syndrome Conference

Chrissy & Cynthia at the National Down Syndrome ConferenceCenter for Independent Futures hit the road again last month! Schools Consultant Chrissy and Community Life Coordinator Cynthia flew to Dallas in the middle of July. They faced the heat of Texas to present to the National Down Syndrome Congress (NDSC) Conference.

At the National Down Syndrome Conference, parents, self-advocates, siblings, and volunteers gather to learn from industry experts. Thousands of people come to the conference to hear the newest information in the field. Center for Independent Futures was honored to be considered a leader in the field at this conference.

“We were pleased when we were asked to submit a proposal to present at the NDSC,” said Cynthia. “Our informative and interactive presented, ‘A Roadmap to Hope: Creating a Circle of Support for Your Adult Sibling,’ was well received.” Cynthia also expressed how wonderful it was to reconnect with other groups who are using the Full Life Process around the country, like Club 21.

Explore the Full Life Process

Though we don’t focus on labels here, we designed our Full Life Process to help anyone with an intellectual or developmental disability who needs support. It covers eight areas that encompass a full life, including home life, wellness, getting around, and more. The Full Life Process includes three crucial steps: planning, skills inventory, and skills training.

Those three investigative and planning steps help individuals work toward discovering their hopes and dreams – and then achieving them. After acknowledging obstacles, our process helps to develop action plans to develop necessary skills. We love sharing our Full Life Process throughout the country, providing schools & agencies with tools to facilitate person-centered planning.

Thank you to the NDSC for inviting Chrissy and Cynthia to speak at the Conference, and thank you to the audience for participating and engaging! Finally, keep an eye out for where our training consultants fly off to next!  

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.

Sharing the Full Life Process

Our partnerships with schools and agencies put our person-centered approaches in the hands of teachers and human service professionals working to support individuals to build full, independent lives. By sharing tools and resources, we help schools like Stevenson High School prepare students for the transition after graduation.

Partnering with a Blue Ribbon School

Logo for Stevenson High SchoolSince opening in 1965, STEVENSON HIGH SCHOOL has been a recipient of four Blue Ribbon Awards for Excellence in Education. As one of the best high schools in America, Stevenson’s Special Education Division works diligently to understand its students as individuals and help them choose their paths through self-advocacy.

As part of Stevenson’s Transition Team, Megan Sugrue has worked to build a program based on teaching the vital skills necessary for life after high school.  The Full Life Process has been an essential addition to their program. “The Full Life Process curriculum is high quality, visually appealing, and focused on skills attainment,” Megan says. “The online application makes it easy for me to find the lesson plans and resources relevant for individual students.”

Working with the online application, Stevenson students are able to have a voice in creating the life they envision. “Some students don’t see themselves as people with strengths,“ relates Marney Orchard, a Center for Independent Futures School and Agency Consultant working with the Stevenson team. “I love how this process allows students to reflect, recognize their talents, and express what they want for their future.”  

Moving Forward with Stevenson High School

Stevenson High School crestMegan has become an advocate for the Full Life Process with other educators. “In addition to the curriculum, professional development and training to use the platform are provided,” Megan tells her peers. “Center for Independent Futures’ professional, responsive, and personable support staff are available to problem solve and troubleshoot as needed.”

Using the Full Life Process, Megan’s days as a transition educator are smoother and more efficient. The Stevenson team is beginning to bring data collected from the Full Life Process into Individualized Education Plan meetings. We are excited to continue supporting transition programs like Stevenson’s across the state of Illinois and beyond.

7 Answers You Need About ABLE Accounts

A Better Life Experience (ABLE) accounts are new savings accounts for individuals with disabilities. If you would like to be able to save more than $2,000 for rainy days in your future, ABLE accounts are probably something you have considered. On March 22nd, Center for Independent Futures proudly hosted JJ Hanley from the Illinois State Treasurer’s Office for a presentation on the new ABLE accounts.

If you are worried you aren’t eligible for or have other concerns about ABLE accounts, read this blog to learn from Director of IL ABLE, JJ Hanley, about the ins and outs of these new savings accounts.

1. What is an ABLE account?

Scrabble pieces spell out "savings account," which is what ABLE accounts are.ABLE accounts are new savings accounts, specifically for individuals with disabilities. This is a way for you to save money without losing any of your SSI or SSDI benefits — or any other federal, means-tested benefits. States created ABLE accounts with the hope they would help individuals have the opportunity for independence and self-reliance.

2. Do I qualify for an ABLE account?

Now that you know what an ABLE account is, you are probably asking if an ABLE account is right for you. There are very few qualifications to meet for ABLE accounts. First, you must have a disability. Second, the age of onset of your disability must be before age 26.  However, that does not mean that you had to be diagnosed before age 26. If your disability started at age 15, but you weren’t diagnosed until age 32, you can still qualify for an ABLE savings account.

3. Who should open an ABLE account?

An ABLE account is right for you if you’re someone with a disability, and you want to be able to save more than $2,000 at a time. This is particularly true if you are working a job. You can save $15,000 a year in an ABLE account without affecting your SSI benefits, and you can save up to $100,000 within an account.

4. When can I use an ABLE account?

You might have many questions about when you can use savings from an ABLE account. The quick answer is: any living expenses related to a disability. But as these accounts are new, you may need to experiment to find out what limits exist, if any. One goal in creating ABLE accounts is to end the isolation within the community, so there is a lot of wiggle room in what counts as disability related.

5. What options do I have with ABLE accounts?

There are several options to choose from when you decide to open an ABLE account. You can either open a checking account or one of six risk-targeted investment options. It is important to discuss these options with someone you trust before making a decision.

6. How do I open an ABLE account?

You should not go to a bank and try to open one of these accounts because most people won’t know what you’re referring to. You can open an ABLE account online through the ABLE IL website or by calling the Illinois ABLE office.

7. Whose name is a debit card in with an Authorized Individual?

A gold piggy bank against a dark backgroundFinally, if there is an Authorized Individual included on the ABLE account, the agency issues the debit card in the Authorized Individual’s name. This means that if an individual is unable to make financial decisions on their own, a parent or legal guardian is able to make sure the money is spent when necessary.

At Center for Independent Futures, we would like to extend another big thank you to JJ Hanley for sharing this information with us. Now you can watch the full video from JJ Hanley’s presentation at Center for Independent Futures right here on our website.

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