In this Issue:

National News

  • Advocacy Ensures a Better Future
  • Social Security and You
  • Money Follows the Person Act in Senate
  • Prescription Drug Coverage for Uninsured

Local - Wisconsin News

  • Wisconsin State Budget Rally
  • Milwaukee Computer Club
  • Accessible Pontoon Boat Launched in Western WI
  • It’s the Spring Thing to do in Milwaukee
“To try when there is little hope is to risk failure; not to try at all is to guarantee it.”

Spring 2005 CommunicAbility Vol. 5, Ed. 2

New Horizons Un-Limited Inc. (NHU) is a non-profit organization based in Milwaukee with a mission to make information and life experiences accessible to people with life-long disabilities, their families and caregivers. To learn more about our mission and activities, please visit the New Horizons Un-Limited website at www.new-horizons.org or e-mail horizons@new-horizons.org.

Don’t Wait for Change…Make it Happen

The following article was written by Marilyn Fidler and originally appeared in the October 2004 edition of In Gear, a publication of the Mid Ohio Board for Independent Living (MOBILE), a center for independent living in Columbus, Ohio. Article reprinted here with permission from the author and MOBILE.

Advocacy Ensures a Better Future

The best way to ensure a better future is through advocacy today. We can all take steps to make things better not only for ourselves, but for everyone in our community. All people with a disability have experienced some type of problem with accessibility – a business or store may not have a TTY, accessible parking, elevator, ramp, or curb cut, just to name a few. So,what approach do you take when you come up against a barrier? You could do nothing, hoping that someone else will address the issue. Or, you could just give up, thinking that nothing will ever change, so why waste your time. Or, you could advocate for change! Advocacy is not difficult. It could entail a simple conversation, letter or phone call. For example, a few years ago, I was stopped at a rest area on Interstate 71 (in Ohio). An attendant thought she was right when she told me that I could not take my [service] dog into the restroom. In this case, a simple conversation explaining that I have a working dog who accompanies me everywhere I go, failed to do the job.

So, I made a few phone calls and found the state official in charge of staff at the rest areas. I wrote a letter explaining the situation. Within two weeks, I received a return phone call followed by a letter. The official requested that I let her know when I would be traveling I-71 again so the [attendant] could make a personal apology. I have never been confronted by staff at that rest area again, because they are now educated on the Americans with Disabilities Act [provision] covering service animals. In the future, others with service animals will not encounter this barrier. Here are a few guidelines to help you be a better self-advocate:

    1. State the problem clearly, be precise when explaining the problem.
    2. Explain what you expect to be done about the problem.
    3. Back up your stance by citing the ADA or other relevant disability laws.
    4. Be calm, we want to inform and educate (losing your cool will only alienate the person you are trying to educate and cause that person to be resistant to change).
    5. Follow up – check back to make sure the problem has been resolved or to see why it has not been resolved.

What happens if the issue has not been resolved? Go a step further and file a complaint with the governing federal agency, write a letter to a government official, or write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. If you are unsure of ADA laws or of what has to be done to bring things into compliance, call your local center for independence living advocacy specialist. They can help you formulate a plan of action, give you the information about ADA laws, or help write a letter. To locate the center that serves your area, visit the ILRU Directory of Centers online at www.ilru.org/jump1.htm. If you do not have access to the Internet, contact NHU at (414) 299-0124.

Social Security and You

Social Security provides benefits to 47 million Americans, including more than 7 million people with disabilities and their families. For many of these people, it is their only financial certainty, their only source of income. As you have undoubtedly heard, thanks to projected shortfalls, big changes have been proposed for the Social Security System. More specifically, the President has suggested the creation of Private Accounts. The debate has been intense. One voice, however, has been missing from this debate, your voice, the voice of the disability community. As such, when most people talk about Social Security changes, they only discuss how privatization will impact retirement benefits. Why, because the voice of the Senior Community has been heard loud and clear. This should be a very serious concern for you as an American with a disability, because changes in the program could have a huge impact on everyone who gets benefits – including you! It’s up to you to ensure that people with disabilities are included in the debate.

In an effort to educate the disability community on how proposed changes to Social Security could impact benefits, the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) has developed a series of Fact Sheets on Social Security. The Fact Sheets will answer the following questions:

  • What Benefits Do People with Disabilities and Their Families Get from Social Security?
  • How Does Social Security Help People with Disabilities & their Families?
  • How is Social Security Funded?
  • How Does Social Security Protect Young Workers and Their Families?
  • How Will Individual Private Accounts Affect Social Security?
  • How Are the Social Security & SSI Disability Programs Different?

    The CCD has also developed a checklist that can help you evaluate how proposed changes could impact your benefits. To download the fact sheets, visit CCD online at www.c-c-d.org/FactSheets/index.htm.

    National News

    Money Follows the Person Act introduced in Senate

    Senator Tom Harkin recently announced that he introduced the Money Follows the Person Act of 2005. This legislation would shift federal long-term care spending from nursing homes to communitybased services. The Act would reimburse states 100 percent for the community services that an individual needs during the first year after they move out of a nursing home or similar facility. After that first year, the individual would remain in the community, and states would receive their regular Medicaid match for their services. "This bill would allow people with disabilities to have choices that we all take for granted--to live with family and friends, not with strangers; to live in a neighborhood, not a nursing home or institution," Harkin said. "Federal Medicaid policy should reflect the consensus that Americans with disabilities should have an equal opportunity to contribute to our communities and participate in our society as full citizens." To learn more about this Act, visit Thomas – Legislative Information on the Internet at http://thomas.loc.gov/ and search for S. 528.

    Together RX Access Card Program offers savings on prescriptions for uninsured

    Eleven of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies banded together to launch The Together Rx Access Card, a free savings program that helps qualified individuals and families save anywhere from 25%-40% on over 275 brand-name prescription drugs and other prescription products. This program was launched in response to the crisis that many uninsured Americans are facing in obtaining necessary medications. To be eligible, you must not be eligible for Medicare and have no other prescription drug coverage (public or private). Your household income must be equal to or less than $30,000 for a single person, $40,000 for a family of two, $50,000 for a family of three, $60,000 for a family of four, $70,000 for a family of five. You must also be a legal US resident. For more information, visit Together RX online at www.togetherrxaccess.com or call (800) 444-4106.

    Wisconsin News & Events

    Wisconsin Budget Rally at State Capitol

    Join other advocates and Wisconsinites with disabilities at the Spring Budget Rally on Wednesday, May 11, 2005 in the rotunda of the State Capitol in Madison. The theme for the rally is "Invest in Independence". The rally will address the crisis in the Medicaid program and propose a solution for it. The current Medicaid budget is in a state of crisis with a shortfall of over $600 million for the next two-year budget. The legislature is starting to talk about making cuts to services or changing eligibility criteria. This could affect many people with disabilities. Make sure you let your lawmakers know how Medicaid cuts will impact your quality of life. For more information on the rally, contact Disability Advocates: Wisconsin Network at (608) 266-7826 (Voice), (608) 266-6660 (TTY) or visit them online at www.dawninfo.org/.

    Join the Club, the Computer Club that is

    Milwaukee Recreation, a program of Milwaukee Public Schools will be hosting their 6-week Spring Computer Club beginning on April 29th from 4:00-5:00 p.m. at the Fifty-five Plus Center located at 2414 W. Mitchell Street in Milwaukee. The club is open to adults of all ages and will help you explore a computer and all its functions. Topics will include word processing, e-mail, Internet, games and more. Registration is $17 for City of Milwaukee residents and $34 for non-residents. The registration deadline is April 14th. For more information, or to receive a registration form, call (414) 647-6065.

    Accessible Pontoon Boat launched by "Squirrels"

    Late last summer, the North American Squirrel Association (NASA), a non-profit organization dedicated to assisting people with physical disabilities gain access to hunting and fishing opportunities, launched an accessible Pontoon Boat off the north shore of Lake Onalaska in Western Wisconsin. The boat is available to use free of charge to any person with a physical disability and their guests. To check on the boat's availability and to reserve the boat, visit the NASA organization website at www.nasasquirrel.org or call Tony, the organization's president at (608) 781-3636.

    It's the Spring Thing to Do

    The snow has melted (well, almost) and the daffodils are slowly (very slowly) popping up…a sure sign that the dreary days of winter are behind us. With the sun beaming warmly and the days stretching longer, now is the time to get out and discover all that Milwaukee has to offer…

      The Wil O Way Key card program will coordinate several free sails this summer in collaboration with the Milwaukee County Office for Persons with Disabilities and the Community Sailing Center Program. People with disabilities, along with their families and friends are invited to participate in the sailing and activities afterwards. Thanks to the recent installation of a Hoyer Lift, people using wheelchairs can now easily transfer from the dock to the boat. Sailing dates include Fridays, June 24th, July 29th and August 19th. Each date will be able to accommodate forty people and up to five people who need Hoyer lift assistance. Sailors will need to have some upper body strength. Space is limited and reservations are required. For more information, call or email Bridget Bannon at (414) 278-3938, bbannon@milwcnty.com.

      If you have not yet strolled through the magnificent Calatrava addition to the Milwaukee Art Museum, now is as good a time as ever. In addition to the museum's permanent collections, they always have something unique to offer their patrons, from arts workshops to their Feature Exhibition, Degas Sculptures, running through June 5, 2005. This exhibition presents a rare opportunity to view in a single exhibition all 73 bronze sculptures by the great French Impressionist master, Edgar Degas. Tickets for this exhibition are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, $8 for students, and free for children 12 and under. This ticket includes general Museum admission. Group tour reservations and discounts are available by calling (414) 224-3842. For more information on this exhibition, visit the Milwaukee Art Museum online at www.mam.org.

      MILWAUKEE PUBLIC MUSEUM The museum, in addition to its standard exhibits is hosting the special exhibit, Pearls: A Natural History, through June 26, 2005. Featuring 500,000 pearls set in nearly 600 pieces of jewelry and artwork, the exhibition highlights jewels worn by the world’s rich and famous. Highlights of the exhibition include rare pendants crafted by Renaissance goldsmiths, a 19th century Russian icon cover of gold encrusted with natural pearls and a 100-million-year-old iridescent fossil ammonite shell from Madagascar. As a complement to the exhibit, the museum is also offering activities and workshops including jewelry-making and several “Adventure Weekends.” Tickets to Pearls: A Natural History are $14 for adults (16-61), $12.50 for seniors (62+), and $9.50 for children (3-15). For more information, or to order your tickets, call (414) 278-2728 or (888) 700-9069.

    If you know of any events or news that might interest your disability community, please let us know about them. We can be contacted via phone at (414) 299-0124 or via e-mail at horizons@new-horizons.org. Thank you!

    NHU’s Spring Raffle and Silent Auction a Great Success

    This year’s Raffle for Opportunity and Silent Auction was a tremendous success. As a matter of fact, thanks to all of our wonderful prize donors, it was our most successful Raffle and Silent Auction to date. We’d like to extend a special thank you to all of our generous prize donors…

    Gold ‘n Treasures, Wagon Trail Resort, Wilson’s Restaurant, Castle Rock Hideaway, Chula Vista Suites, Radisson Hotel, Milwaukee Wave, Milwaukee Admirals, Milwaukee Bucks, Green Bay Packers, Saz’s State House, Milio’s Sandwiches, Pizzeria Piccola, Bartolotta Restaurants, Safe House, Next Act Theatre, The Milwaukee Rep, Chamber Theatre, Sunset Playhouse, Comedy Sportz, Betty Brinn Children’s Museum, Circus World Museum, Discovery World, German Fest, Polish Fest, Milwaukee Public Museum, Milwaukee Art Museum, Schlitz Audubon Nature Center, Chason’s Salon, YMCA of Greater Milwaukee, Wisconsin Athletic Club, Earthwerx Jewelry, Sybaris, The Pampered Chef, Great Harvest, Winkie’s, Raggs Kids Club, Quality Candy, Stone Creek Coffee, Alterra Coffee, Menards Ede Therapeutic Massage, Milwaukee Sheriff’s Office

    Of course we cannot go without saying a big thanks to all of our volunteers who kindly solicited donations, sold raffle tickets, coordinated the silent auction gift baskets and staffed the event. Thank you all, for your time and creative talents.

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