Help More Adults like Aiden and Amanda Fulfill their Hidden Potential.
Aiden and Amanda are twin girls who have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Throughout their childhood, both girls attended public school. Aiden has graduated from high school and is now enrolled in classes at Ivy Tech Community College; she aspires to work with children and infants. Amanda plans to complete her GED and then further her education in the field of nutrition.
In addition to school, both twins hold jobs: Aiden is a day care helper and Amanda is a Kmart stock clerk. The girls live together (by themselves and in their own home) and share chores, laundry and cooking duties. Currently, the twins receive ongoing support from skills coaches and Amanda is participating in the Supported Employment Program at Easterseals Crossroads. This past year, both Aiden and Amanda were awarded their driver's licenses after completing the Driver's Evaluation and Training program at Easterseals Crossroads. For these sisters, their new-found transportation freedom is an intregal part of their overall path to adult independence.
Monday, November 21, 2022, 4:58 PM
This is my favorite time of year. I love reflecting on the year and recognizing what I’m thank…
This is my favorite time of year. I love reflecting on the year and recognizing what I’m thankful for. And then, once Thanksgiving is over, the days start leading up to New Year’s Eve, which symbolizes the closing of a chapter and the beginning of a new one. For me, a new year feels like a clean slate and a fresh start, an opportunity to look at it from a brand-new lens.
I started 2022 feeling cautiously optimistic. I wrote a post like this before last year, focusing on the pandemic. It was very therapeutic to write it all down — to think to myself, “Okay, it was a rough year, but I’m going to sit here and I’m going to find those silver linings.”
This year feels like a breath of fresh air compared to the last two. It wasn’t perfect — no year ever is — but sitting down and finding its silver linings, expressing what I’m thankful for, comes much, much easier in 2022. So here is my reflection in all its glory!
Gratitude is something I constantly work on. On bad days, I could always have the mindset that the entire day was awful, and “at least there’s tomorrow.” I’m learning now that there’s always something to be thankful for, even if it takes some time. I think that’s something we should all strive for.
I hope you all have a happy Thanksgiving, enjoy the rest of 2022, and have a hopeful, positive opening to 2023. Happy holidays!
Tuesday, November 8, 2022, 10:05 AM
While selfishly I’ve always thought people with disabilities – the community of which I identify – w…
While selfishly I’ve always thought people with disabilities – the community of which I identify – were more “thoughtful,” specifically in our opinion of access, now I can proclaim our thoughtfulness as fact!
As a Project Manager for Change for Balance, a boutique strategic communications company, and as a self-proclaimed “connector,” I brought together our client, Easterseals, with my friends at AARP with the idea of commissioning a voter survey among our two shared constituencies – people with disabilities and older Americans aged 50+.
And guess what? We did it! You can check out the full results of the Easterseals and AARP survey here.
But, if you’ll allow me to get straight to the results this “connector” found interesting, stick with me.
With strong bipartisan support – I just knew this would be true – people with disabilities aged 50+ support expanding voting access, including voting by mail, voting absentee, and ballot drop boxes.
While much of the media pits the major parties at odds on many issues, fundamental access to voting is a united issue for people with disabilities 50 and older. For a very diverse and intersectional population, that’s nice. Simply put, it’s not political – it’s all about access!
Tony Coelho, the esteemed former United States Congressman and primary sponsor of the Americans with Disabilities Act, puts it perfectly “Voting access is not politically motivated as it is supported by Democrats and Republicans alike. In that regard it’s like passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act.”
Another interesting result – and this applies mostly to in-person voting – is when given a list of multiple accommodation options, 43% of respondents say they utilize an accommodation when voting.
I’m not good with math, but 43% of what is expected to be 30 million people with disabilities 50+ voting in the midterm election is a lot! Those who require just a little extra help will cast their ballot.
While this survey reveals many other important issues to the disability and older American groups, including inflation and other pocketbook issues, a resounding number of people just want access.
Unfortunately, as discovered in previous conversations with my friends at Rutgers University, it’s likely there are a number of people with disabilities who don’t participate in the elections because of accessibility barriers. “If people with disabilities voted at the same rate as everyone else, there would be 1.75 million more voters,” said Lisa Schur, professor, and co-director of the Rutgers Program for Disability Research.
We know it, Rutgers reinforces it – at the end of the day, the disability community wants greater access, from restaurants to airlines to casting our ballots. And, when we have it, we damn sure will participate!
Tuesday, November 8, 2022, 9:53 AM
Here’s why it’s cool to have a Senator who uses a wheelchair to get around: she’s an accessibility e…
Here’s why it’s cool to have a Senator who uses a wheelchair to get around: she’s an accessibility expert! Tammy Duckworth, our Senator here in Illinois, served in Iraq and lost both legs when a rocket-propelled grenade struck the helicopter she was co-piloting in 2004. After she won the 2017 election for Senator of the State of Illinois, an article in the Chicago Tribune pointed out that running a Senate campaign involves lots of travel and complicated logistics. From the article:
Duckworth said she and her staff have a pre-event checklist to make sure the site is up to their standards — and that means making sure even the bathrooms are wheelchair accessible.
“I don’t go to any place that isn’t accessible even though I have artificial legs that I can walk in; it’s on principle,” she said. “If someone in a wheelchair can’t get in it, I’m not going to do an event there because just because I can get in there doesn’t mean somebody else can.”
The article said that during her campaign Duckworth often heard from voters who question her ability to serve. A question about using a wheelchair in public during the campaign came up when she first ran for Congress. “I’m not ashamed I’m in a wheelchair. I earned this wheelchair,” she said. “I’ve always insisted it’s not something that we hide.”
A seasoned member of Congress now, Senator Duckworth joined Representative Sarbanes of Maryland last month to introduce the Websites and Software Applications Accessibility Act (S. 4998 , H.R. 9021)) in both houses of Congress. The bill will require employers, state and local governments, and private businesses to make their websites and applications accessible.
Much has been made about how people with disabilities benefitted from digital access during the COVID pandemic, but casual conversations I’ve had with people with visual impairments tell me how frustrated they’ve been with technology, the high number of web sites that are not easy to use if relying on speech software and the hours they’ve wasted trying to make it work.
I am blind, and my husband Mike is sighted. During the pandemic Mike has had to take over much of the on-line ordering we do, the forms we are asked to fill out on line, and the online streaming we do. I get a lot of messages in my in box about plays and concerts and lectures that are available on line free of charge, but when I give that a try, the links and buttons are not accessible – frustrating!
If passed, this new legislation will make it clear that the Americans with Disabilities Act applies to websites and applications. I already know that my Senator will be voting in favor of the bill — she’s the one who introduced it to the Senate! Now it’s time for me to take action and find out who my House member is and contact them. You can do the same by linking to the official U.S. House of Representatives web site.