UCP Seguin Enterprises: Creating Opportunity and A Space in the Community

Special thanks to Julie Lerch, Senior Director of Seguin Enterprises, for her assistance in contributing to this blog!

October is National Disability Employment Awareness MonthOur affiliate in the Chicago area, UCP Seguin of Greater Chicago, has worked to help provide job training for people with disabilities through two of it’s unique enterprises, Seguin Garden and Gifts and Seguin Auto Center.

UCP’s national office recently caught up with Julie Lerch, Senior Director of Seguin Enterprises, to learn more about their history and the impact of employment for people with disabilities.

The welcome sign for Seguin Auto Center.

Seguin Auto Center

Seguin Auto Center began as a small crew washing the vehicles in parking lot in April 2004 and grew into a full detailing and car wash service. Built solely through donations and the help of the community, Seguin Auto Center provides a range of services, which includes full vehicle detailing and hand car washes. In addition to the services provided at the Auto Center, they also own a used car lot. Though the amount of cars for sale to the community varies, each of the vehicles available for purchase were secured through donations. Seguin Auto Center also works with various nonprofits in the Chicago metro area, helping to administer their vehicle donation programs. This can include processing donations, cleaning up those that are suitable for selling on the Seguin Auto Center used car lot, and recycling the cars that are not able to be sold. Once the vehicle is sold or recycled, Seguin Auto Center sends a check to the non-profit partner for the proceeds of the donation. According to Julie, this is a win-win for both the nonprofit partner and Seguin Auto Center.

Employees at Seguin Autocenter washing a car.

The lot sells more than just cars. Starting in April and running through Thanksgiving, the Seguin Auto Center hosts a market every Saturday & Sunday. Vendors rent a space for $13 to $18, and sell a wide range of items, from housewares to clothing, pretty much whatever they like. It also creates a wonderful opportunity to engage the community with UCP Seguin and for the vendors to earn income and promote the items that they have for sale. 

Seguin Garden and Gifts

A display for “UCPSeguinMade” ceramics.

In addition to Seguin Auto Center, UCP Seguin also runs Seguin Garden & Gifts. Seguin Garden and Gifts came about from a successful Horticulture therapy program and a growing lawn and landscaping crew that maintained the lawns at the UCP Seguin CILA homes, in addition to a small, off-site craft store.

Seguin Garden and Gifts features a 4,000 square foot greenhouse and 2,000 square feet of retail space. Construction on the space began in 2007. The greenhouse offers a variety of edibles, annuals, perennials and houseplants, depending on the season. “UCPSeguinGrown,” a line of organically grown vegetables and herbs are available in the Spring, all grown by participants. The retail side features gardening merchandise, home decor, holiday items, and features a section of “UCPSeguinMade” ceramics, jewelry, cards, and plants.

Both Seguin Garden and Gifts and Seguin Auto Center offer competitive employment for people with disabilities with varying needs and supports. They help to provide employment training and life skills, and currently have 87 employees who have worked over a total of 18,000 hours.

Planting in the garden. 

Find out more about UCP Seguin of Greater Chicago’s Enterprises by going here.

For more information on employment and people with disabilities, check out our Facts About Employment Blog.

Share Your Photos for UCP’s “Halloween Without Limits!”

It’s time for UCP’s “Halloween Without Limits.” From now until October 31st, share your most creative costume photos and show us how you celebrate a “Halloween Without Limits”! We want to see your style and how you make Halloween your own!

UCP’s “Halloween Without Limits” is open to all ages, children and adults alike, who get into the Halloween spirit. We invite parents and individuals with disabilities to share their most creative, kooky, and fun costumes to our Facebook page by tagging @UnitedCerebralPalsy and using the hashtag #HalloweenWithoutLimits!

It doesn’t matter if you’re a princess or a hero, a ghost or a ghoul, as long as you have gone the extra mile to accommodate a disability.

Photos of children under the age of 18 MUST be submitted by a parent or guardian. Or you must have the permission of the parent of guardian of the child in the photo for submission. 

The rules are simple:

All you have to do is post your photos to UCP’s Facebook page using #HalloweenWithoutLimits so we can all see them!

Check out photos from last year!

We can’t wait to see your photos!

Share Your Video for World CP Day!

“What do you want the world to know about CP?”

In honor of World CP Day 2017, UCP wants you to tell the world what you want to know about Cerebral Palsy (CP)! All you have to do is send us a short (less than a minute) video telling us what you’d like the world to know about CP and your video could be featured as part of video celebrating World CP Day on October 6th. 

 

For questions, and to submit your video, please email UCP National’s Marketing Specialist, Kaitlyn Meuser at kmeuser@ucp.org. 

Capital Home Care on the Impact of Personal Care for People with Disabilities

Karin Hitselberger, Public Education Associate

Home and personal care can be an essential aspect of life for many people with disabilities and their families. Home care services play a vital role in helping some individuals with disabilities live their lives independently in their own community, helping to ensure that they are able to live a life without limits. Capital Home Care, a program of UCP of Central Pennsylvania, is a non-medical home care provider for individuals over the age of 18 in the Central Pennsylvania area.

Home care is a term that encompasses a variety of different services that can be received in a consumer’s home. Angela Griffith, Director of Capital Home Care, explains that the services provided through Capital Home Care can be anything from assistance with chores, to help getting to (or participating in) activities in the community, personal care assistance, and a range of other tasks. Each consumer receives customized care; no two people are exactly alike, so each person’s care may look a little different.

Angela says one of the most important things to understand about home care is that personal care services are essential for enabling people to live at home with their families or independently, which many would be unable to do without home care services.

Angela started with Capital Home Care as a Personal Care Attendant, or PCA, and says one thing people may not realize is the impact these services have not only on the consumer but also the provider, adding that providers get as much out of the experience as they give to consumers.

Angela says that she’s been able to experience this impact first-hand, having had the opportunity to accompany one of Capital Home Care’s consumers and his PCA to the Pennsylvania State Capitol to advocate for disability policy.

“People don’t often realize the impact it has for the caregiver and the consumer…that was great to see, and a reminder for me of what we do every day,” she says.

To find out more about home care, or other services your local UCP affiliate may provide, contact them using the affiliate locator on our website.

From right, Angela Griffith, along with a consumer and his PCA at a Pennsylvania Lobby Day

From right, Angela Griffith, along with a consumer and his PCA at a Pennsylvania Lobby Day

United Cerebral Palsy Statement on Hurricane Harvey

We share the feelings of so many health and human service organizations across the U.S. who are watching the storm and recovery efforts underway in Southeast Texas.

We are thinking of all the families and communities who have been impacted by the storm. We know, from experience, that a storm of this magnitude can produce unimaginable destruction– and may compromise the safety of people living with disabilities.

United Cerebral Palsy affiliates in Oklahoma and Louisiana are actively engaged in the recovery efforts underway and may assist as called upon. We are also monitoring the storm and the possible impact it may have for our affiliates in Louisiana and other neighboring areas. UCP affiliates work diligently on disaster preparedness plans to ensure that the individuals and families in their care, across the U.S. and Canada, are always kept safe in any type of emergency and UCP National supports their efforts.

For information regarding the status of Harvey, please visit HHS’ Public Health Emergency website: https://www.phe.gov/emergency/events/harvey2017/Pages/default.aspx

Residents in the Houston area may also find resources at the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities: http://www.houstontx.gov/disabilities/

To ensure that you. your family and your loved ones are prepared in the event of a natural disaster, we recommend our blog post at My Life Without Limits: http://mylifewithoutlimits.org/disaster-preparedness-month-tips-and-tricks-to-help-you-live-a-life-without-limits/

FEMA‘s resources for people with disabilities, access, and functional needs: www.fema.gov/resources-people-disabilities-access-functional-needs

Additional preparedness tips and resources can be found on UCP’s website at: http://ucp.org/resources/health-and-wellness/safety/disaster-preparedness/

 

Facts About Employment

This post and the accompanying infographic are by UCP’s Summer 2017 and Programs and Development Intern, Sara Shemali

 

The worst global recession in recent history, the great recession, yielded unemployment rates which peaked in 2009 at 10 percent. Lowering this exceptionally high rate of unemployment became a national priority in America. Yet, the current rate of unemployment for people with disabilities still stands at 10.5 percent, over double the rate of current unemployment for people without disabilities and still greater than that peak rate of 10%. The difficulty that people with disabilities experience when finding and applying for jobs has rippling effects, making it harder for them to achieve financial autonomy and gain independence, as well as a myriad of other benefits of employment.

Barriers and Benefits

Individuals with disabilities face significant barriers to employment that persist regardless of education, race, age,or gender. According to data collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2016, at all levels of education, people with disabilities are less likely to be employed than their able-bodied counterparts. This data reflects the obstacles many people with disabilities face when looking for and obtaining work. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, in a 2013 news release, reported that 70.8 percent of people with disabilities between the ages of 16 and 64 had experienced at least one barrier to employment in the past. These barriers include a person’s own disability, lack of education or training, insufficient transportation, and the need for accommodations on the job.

When individuals with disabilities are given the resources to overcome these barriers, they are valuable assets to the companies that hire them. Supportive employment for people with disabilities, such as the partnership between UCP of the North Bay and WineBev, has long proved to be effective. WineBev implemented a successful training program which provides not only accessible but also competitive employment for people with disabilities. Another company found that the young people with disabilities that they hired had an attrition rate of only one percent, compared to 10 to 15 percent for people without disabilities. Their workers with disabilities were also more productive than their workers without. Furthermore, a recent study published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders demonstrates a link between having a developmental disability and being able to come up with unique and creative solutions to problems.This trait makes people with developmental disabilities excellent candidates for jobs which require divergent and out of the box thinking.

The Business Case

Employment of people with disabilities is not just a worker issue. It is also imperative to analyze the benefits of hiring individuals with disabilities from a business point of view. One concern employers may have about hiring a candidate with a disclosed disability is the cost of accommodations. However, the Job Accommodation Network has found that most (59%) of accommodations cost nothing to employers to implement. One accommodation that employers are increasingly making is allowing employees with disabilities to work from home some or all of the time, an accommodation that more and more workplaces offer to employees with or without disabilities anyway. It is currently estimated that 463,000 people with disabilities, making up 7.1 percent of people with disabilities, regularly work from home.

When accommodations do incur some cost, 36 percent of employers reported a one-time cost, typically around five hundred dollars. Only five percent of employers reported that the cost of accommodations was ongoing or a mixture of one-time and ongoing costs. In addition to being low-cost, accommodations can have a number of positive consequences, including retaining valuable employees and increasing the employee’s productivity, reducing employee absenteeism, improving employee interactions, and increasing productivity for the company as a whole. Employers also have a variety of free resources at their disposal to help them meet the needs of their employees with disabilities, including the Employer Assistance and Resource Network (EARN) and consulting from the Job Accommodation Network (JAN).

Technology and the Future

Although the levels of unemployment for individuals with disabilities may seem staggering when compared to the unemployment rate of people without disabilities, there is promise for improvement in the future. As technology advances, new devices that further accessibility and that improve health and longevity will likely increase employment of people with disabilities. The BrailleNote Apex, one such new technology, features a word processor, calendar, media player, web browser, and GPS, among other things, all in braille and in one device which assists the visually impaired. Assistive technologies are not only becoming more sophisticated but also more commonplace and integrated into the workplace. For example, Microsoft has just announced its plans to integrate eye-tracking features into Windows 10, which will make the software more accessible, and make it easier for programmers to improve and innovate new eye-tracking applications and accessories. These advancements will make it easier for people with disabilities to access job opportunities and work without limits.

For more information regarding employment for people with disabilities check out UCP’s Facts about Employment infographic

For a detailed image description of the infographic, click here.

 

 

UCP National Talks Assistive Tech with Provail

This post was written by UCP Summer 2017 Programs and Development Intern, James O’Connor

 

“We try to ask ourselves: what would make this person’s life better, faster, easier?”

This is what motivates Brenda Chappell, Director of Clinical Services at Provail, a UCP affiliate located in Seattle, Washington. Brenda recently spoke to us about Provail’s assistive technology programs.

[Image Description: A white woman with short brown hair wearing a green sweater and a black scarf holds a smartphone to a book while reading in what appears to be a children’s classroom. She is looking off to the side.] Photo: Lawrence Roffee

 

Assistive technology is an umbrella term that covers equipment, software, system, or any item that is used by people to find and or maintain a job and/or perform activities of daily living. Technology can be big, like an automated lift for van or bath, or small, like a Velcro-attached grip for a fork or a pen. It can be new-age interactive voice activated software for speech therapy or a wheelchair component. It can be high-tech–a computer screen operated by eye movement or low-tech, like a specially-designed door handle for people with muscle strength or dexterity problems.

Assistive technology can often be complex and very user-specific, and this is where Provail’s team plays an important role. At their AT (assistive technology) clinic, they take a holistic approach to finding the best technology for each person.

Brenda and her colleagues’ AT  programs bring professionals from Provail into schools and homes to recommend AT, and teach users, parents, teachers, therapists, and caregivers the best ways to put a person’s AT to best use. Provail works with kids as young as 4 years old, as well as adult clients, and individuals all the way through the lifespan.

Brenda notes that students with earlier access to AT have overwhelmingly better outcomes in both learning and lifestyle. She makes it clear that enabling mobility and communication at an early age are core to the program at Provail. “Before this unique program, we would see adults coming into the clinic with no AT and no mobility. Now, parents doing a 10-week program with us are finding successes that they never knew were possible.”

On top of helping people find and use the best possible AT for their needs, Provail also helps connect users with typical and alternative funding sources, making the stressful process of financing AT easier for many of their clients.

As assistive technology becomes more complex, more varied, and more common, it is important to put people first and keep in mind Brenda’s important question: what would make this person’s life better, faster, easier?
Check out your local affiliate to find out more about what type of AT services may be available, including financial resources that may be available.

Reflecting on the ADA with UCP Staff and Interns

Coauthored by Sara Shemali and James O’Connor

Two women pose for a photo in front of the Capitol Building. One of the women is using an electric wheelchair.

“When I was 15 or 16 years old my best friend, my sister and I decided to go out for ice cream. We went to a new shop in the town nearby. Even though it was a new building, it was an old style ice cream shop that had been built to invoke that aesthetic; and, there was no ramp in the front of the store– only steps. The only ramp was in the back, leading up to the emergency exit. The employees told us they weren’t allowed to let us in through the back door. We were shocked but, after arguing and getting nowhere, we went someplace else. When we got home, I was still pretty upset. When my mom asked what happened, we told her the story. And she explained to me that what I had experienced was discrimination and illegal under the ADA. I think that was the first time I really understood what the ADA meant for me as a person with a disability.“

 

This is what our supervisor, Karin Hitselberger, said when asked about her most memorable experience of the ADA as a child. We spoke to her and Kaitlyn Meuser, the Marketing Specialist here at United Cerebral Palsy’s National Office, right before today’s 27th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) because we wanted to gain insight into the many ways that the ADA has shaped the experiences of individuals with disabilities in America.

 

As Program and Development interns for UCP’s National Office, James and I started our summer with a lot to learn about the history of the disability rights movement. We both carried what turned out to be fairly common misconceptions about the ADA, and we asked Karin and Kaitlyn, who both happen to have cerebral palsy, about some of those most common misconceptions.

 

For me, learning more about the ADA throughout my internship, I realized just how comprehensive of a piece of legislation the ADA is. Whereas some may know it only as the law that regulates curb cuts and ramps, or just an anti-discrimination law, in reality it serves both of those purposes in addition to many more. Karin continued by highlighting just how multifaceted the ADA is. She pointed out the misconception and tendency to discuss the ADA in only one of its many capacities, without appreciating the diverse avenues in which it helps individuals with disabilities.

 

Karin also discussed the pivotal role that individuals with disabilities played in crafting the ADA. While the role of passionate allies cannot be overlooked, the engagement of individuals who encounter the barriers that the ADA addresses daily was crucial to passing the ADA law that we know today.

 

As a person without a disability, I had experienced the ADA in action even before I became an intern at UCP, although I had always witnessed it as an outside observer. One vivid memory I will always remember is a neighbor of mine, with cerebral palsy, whose mother had to advocate for him to be involved in gym class, and given the reasonable accommodations he needed to participate. Gym class was a privilege I had always taken for granted, but he had to fight to be afforded the opportunity I had. Interning at UCP has allowed me to step out of my bystander role and become more informed and involved on issues related to disability. Instances of discrimination in schools, hiring, and the workplace still occur today, but one point both Karin and Kaitlyn brought up was that because of the passage of the ADA, such discrimination is illegal (such as refusal to provide reasonable accommodations), and action can be taken to stop these practices. The ADA sets a baseline: a clear standard for inclusion, which is not only vital in itself but also opens the door to continue the conversation about disability and the next steps towards truly equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities.

 

My fellow intern James shares his perspective below:

 

When I started my summer here at UCP National, I was at least aware of the existence of the ADA, but was not even close to understanding its importance. As I have gotten to know more people who have been personally impacted by this legislation, and learned more about the history of the disability rights movement, I’ve come to understand how transformative the ADA has been to the disability community. It has enabled so many people to work, travel, and access the world around them.

 

My experience at UCP has allowed me to connect the curb-cuts and accessible elevators, that I see everyday, to the freedom and rights of the friends I have made here. I’ve had the pleasure of traveling to and from various events with Karin, who uses a wheelchair, and have had to rethink so much that I previously took for granted. I now find myself constantly looking for ramps and elevators, and generally reevaluating the accessibility of my surroundings. It really has fundamentally changed the way that I see the world, and I feel that I am beginning to understand how important the ADA is as a result.

 

Although the ADA is a much-needed starting point for legislation regarding disability, Karin and Kaitlyn agree there is more work that needs to be done to remove substantial barriers that individuals with disabilities still face. Getting into buildings is a right that needs to be afforded to individuals with disabilities, but access to the building itself is not the end of accessibility. Karin points out that physically having the ability to get into a movie theatre isn’t enough if a wheelchair user wouldn’t have anywhere to sit, or if there are no closed captions for someone who is Deaf. Cultural inclusion and universal design for individuals with disabilities are both still a work in progress.

 

While there is work remaining to continue to advance the rights of people with disabilities, it is of paramount importance to reflect on how much closer the ADA has brought us towards the ideals of equality and civil rights for all people.

ADA Education and Reform Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a historic piece of civil rights legislation for  individuals with disabilities, was passed 27 years ago this week. Since that time, individuals with disabilities have been able to seek enforcement of the law to ensure that they have access to public spaces.

 

The ADA helps to curb the discrimination faced by people with disabilities but Congress is currently considering the ADA Education and Reform Act, a bill that would change the ADA: granting more leniency to businesses, and prolonging the process of remedying ADA failures by these businesses. The bill is controversial and many advocates for people with disabilities are speaking up against it.

 

Supporters of the bill seek to remedy the issue of “drive by” lawsuits, a term used to describe when a person goes to a business for the singular purpose of filing a lawsuit under the ADA. These lawsuits are seen by many as solely efforts of financial gain at the expense of businesses, instead of efforts to resolve legitimate barriers to access for individuals with disabilities. While the existence of such lawsuits is problematic, there is no consensus on the best way to address this issue.

 

The bill would allow business owners a “pause in litigation,” giving them 60 days to acknowledge their violation of the ADA, and then another 120 days to make “substantial progress” towards remedying the issue. The bill, currently being considered in the house, has 14 co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle. Although not an issue that is divisive along party lines, the bill does not draw universal support because of its civil rights and practical implications.

 

While the supporters of the bill seek to protect businesses, its opponents strive to protect the civil rights of individuals with disabilities. The ADA has been recognized as a crucial step towards inclusion and civil rights for individuals with disabilities, and its importance for individuals with disabilities cannot be overstated. It would be reasonable to assume that individuals with disabilities would support legislation which strengthened the ADA—the very legislation that guarantees them civil rights. Yet, individuals in the disability community and their advocates are opposed to the poorly-named ADA Education and Reform Act.

 

As a reminder, the ADA does not require the payment of monetary damages to individuals with disabilities when a violation occurs. Rather, it is a handful of states that have laws which allow monetary damages, which is how “drive by” lawsuits became profitable for plaintiffs in those states.

 

This proposed law would amend the ADA by requiring an individual with a disability to submit a special notice to the business. The individual would have to consult a legal adviser to craft the notice, and include the specific sections of the ADA that are being violated. Thus, the burden rests on the individual with the disability, once they are denied access to a public accommodation, to have extensive knowledge of the ADA and to seek legal counsel to provide this special notice to the business.

 

Once the notice has been provided to a business, the business has nearly six months to make any progress regarding the violation, even when the issue would not take much time or money to fix. This is the case with ADA concerns, because the ADA already contains provisions which protect businesses, only requiring that changes be made when they are readily achievable and can be done “without much difficulty or expense.” Even then, there exist extensive resources for business owners to make these changes, including a Department of Justice ADA hotline and website, and ten federally funded ADA centers which provide resources and training in every state.

 

The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (of which UCP is a member) opposes the bill: 

“We know of no other law that outlaws discrimination but permits entities to discriminate with impunity until victims experience that discrimination and educate the entities perpetrating it about their obligations not to discriminate. Such a regime is absurd, and would make people with disabilities second-class citizens.”

 

In short, this bill is an inefficient means to address the issue of “drive by” lawsuits, and creates substantial barriers to the enforcement of the civil rights of the world’s largest minority group, individuals with disabilities.  

 

#KnowMedicaid

 

As Google search results indicate, many more Americans have grown concerned about losing their (or a family member’s) Medicaid benefit. We at UCP are receiving an increasing number of inquiries about Medicaid and the services and supports it provides for many individuals with disabilities and their families.

 

Even without a pending health care bill in Congress, it can be overwhelming to navigate the process of accessing the funding and benefits necessary to receive the support needed so you or your loved one can live a life without limits. While there is no one way to simplify the process, there are ways to make it a bit easier. The tips and tricks below will help you in your conversations with Medicaid and other agencies.

 

When you’re done checking out our tips, you will also find a PDF guide with the contact information for Medicaid (and related agencies in all 50 states) at the bottom of this post.

 

Keep Records of All Conversations, and Be Sure to Seek Clarification When Necessary:

 

Whenever calling your state or any other entity) regarding services and supports, be sure to keep notes about your conversation including: who you speak with , what department they are in, what department they refer you to, and any other pertinent details.

 

This is really important in the case that there is any confusion or conflicting information during the process , because you will be able to provide past information about what you were told and when.

 

It is also a great idea to ask the person you are speaking to to follow up with an email, if possible; that way you are able to see their summary of the conversation, and open up a dialogue that may help in the future should there be any misunderstandings.

 

Remember That State and Federal Agencies Are Not Identical:

 

When working with Medicaid, or any other government program or agency, it is important to be aware of the difference between the agency in your state, and the federal agencies in Washington, DC.

 

While agencies can be connected, the state agency handles state programs and issues and the federal agency counterpart handles national ones. When getting information about services and supports, it is vital to differentiate between what is available and provided by your state, and what might also be available on the national level.

 

This is also key because these differences affect how programs are funded, and may alter the process required to become eligible. Sometimes programs may be jointly run on the state and national level, but it is still important to be aware of when you’re talking to, or about, your individual state versus when you’re looking at things on a national level.

 

Not All States Run Programs the Same Way, (or a Call Agencies by the Same Name):

 

Another reason it is important to be aware of the difference between state and federal programming is because the way programs, such as Medicaid, are administered can vary significantly from state to state.

 

Therefore, be sure to investigate how things are run in your specific state, and not go off of the experiences of an individual who may live someplace else. A program that is provided through the Department of Health and Human Services in one state may be provided through the Department of Welfare in another.

 

Before getting discouraged and thinking something doesn’t exist, always remember to try a different name or department, because you never know what it might fall under in your state.

 

Always Ask for Other Options:

 

Just because one program, grant, or service is not an option for you, doesn’t mean there isn’t something out there that can help with your situation. Even if you find out that the program you are looking into will not work (or be available) based on for your situation,, be sure to ask the person you’re speaking with if they know of any other programs that may be able to help.

 

When considering your options, it is also important to remember that different programs have different eligibility requirements. So, be sure to provide as much information as possible to determine if you are eligible for a specific program.

 

Obtaining services through Medicaid (or other agencies) is rarely a simple process, but we hope that these tips– as well as our guide of various state offices involved in the administration of services and supports for individuals with disabilities– will make your journey a bit easier.
Do you have any other tips or tricks you would like to add to the list? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag #KnowMedicaid. To learn more about Medicaid in your state, check out our resource guide.