Facing the Day with Dignity

Today is the 25th anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This landmark legislation guaranteed increased access for people with disabilities in almost every facet of community life. The doors to full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency for persons with disabilities opened metaphorically and literally in many cases.

11JE04GDAs an organization which serves and supports people with a broad range of disabilities and their families, UCP is keenly aware of the profound difference this singular act made in the lives of so many people – whether they realize it or not.

 

At the 25 year mark, there now exists an entire generation of people with disabilities who have matured into adulthood under the legal protections of the ADA. They expect accessible entrances to public building, wheelchair ramps and curb cuts, closed-captioning and sign language interpreters, and accessible public transportation options. And, for 20-somethings without disabilities, these accommodations have become a part of their consciousness as well. Even if they don’t experience disability personally, many people benefit from the changes brought about by the ADA. Just think of the young mother with a stroller who no longer has to deal with high curbs at each crosswalk.

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However, there are still physical and attitudinal challenges to overcome and advocates are still needed. Every year, investigations are open and lawsuits are filed over issues of ADA compliance. And, every year, government officials, disability experts, lawyers and judges debate the meaning and application of various provisions in the law. Are the drivers for companies like Uber and Lyft independent contractors, not necessarily bound by the ADA? Are service animals always allowed in public school classrooms no matter the circumstances? What, exactly, do the words “reasonable accommodations” mean?

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Like any other law, we will continue to debate the details and try to adapt interpretation of the now decades-old language to a rapidly changing landscape. However, we think that the true accomplishment of the ADA will not ultimately be judged by changes to transportation, education, or access to a local public library. The real victory to be claimed by the disability advocates and allies who worked for the law is the opportunity it provides for people with disabilities to face each new day with dignity that comes with full equality.

 

Regardless of the tactics it employs, the law explicitly states that:

 

“Physical or mental disabilities in no way diminish a person’s right to fully participate in all aspects of society…

 

It makes the unequivocal statement that in the eyes of Congress, representatives of “We the People,” people with disabilities are people, first and foremost, as well as full citizens of the United States. It is a recognition that the aspects of our society which prevent a person with a disability from being fully able to participate need to be addressed and Congress intends to provide a “…national mandate for the elimination of discrimination against individuals with disabilities.” It is the law of the land and confirmation that people with disabilities should never again have to accept anything less than opportunities provided to their peers.

How Well Does Your State Serve People with Disabilities?

Arizona, Maryland, Missouri, New York & Hawaii Top 2015 Case for Inclusion Rankings

 

United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) released the 2015 Case for Inclusion today, an annual report and interactive website used to track state-by-state community living standards for Americans living with intellectual and developmental disabilities (ID/DD).

To download and read the entire Case for Inclusion report or explore the data, visit cfi.ucp.org.

TCase for Inclusionhe annual Case for Inclusion examines data and outcomes for all 50 States and the District of Columbia (DC), ranking each on a set of key indicators. These indicators include how people with disabilities live and participate in their communities, if they are satisfied with their lives, and how easily the services and supports they need are accessed. The report is a product of a comprehensive analysis of each state’s progress or failures in providing critical services to individuals living with disabilities.

In addition to rankings, the report digs deeper into two critical issues facing people with disabilities and their families: waiting lists for services and support and transitioning from high school into an adult life in the community.

Since 2006, the rankings have enabled families, advocates, the media and policymakers to measure each state’s progress or lack of improvement and gain insight into how the highest-ranking states are achieving their success. An interactive website allows visitors to compare and contrast results among selected states and dig deeper into the data.

The report puts each State’s progress into a national context to help advocates and policymakers in their missions to improve life for people with disabilities and their families.

  • Advocates should use this information to educate other advocates, providers, families and individuals, policymakers and state administrations on areas needing improvement. The data can support policy reforms and frame debates about resource allocation. Advocates can also use the information to prioritize those areas that need immediate attention and support funding to maintain high quality outcomes, eliminate waiting lists and close large institutions.
  • Elected officials should use this report as a guide on which issues and States need time and attention and, possibly, more resources or more inclusive policies.
  • Federal and State administrations should use this report to put their work and accomplishments in context and to chart a course for the next focus area in the quest for continuous improvement and improved quality of life.

Stephen Bennett“Ultimately, the goal of all of this is to promote inclusion and enhance the quality of life for all Americans,” said Stephen Bennett, President and CEO of United Cerebral Palsy. “UCP is committed to shining a light on how well states are actually serving people with disabilities and, by extension, their families and communities. Also, we want to provide the proper national context for this data so that we can truly use it to drive progress.”

 

How is your state doing? 

 

  1. All States still have room for improvement, but some States have consistently remained at the bottom since 2007, including Arkansas (#49), Illinois (#47), Mississippi (#51) and Texas (#50) primarily due to the small portion of people and resources dedicated to those in small or home-like settings in these four states. Mississippi and Texas also do not participate in NCI.
  1. 32 States, down from 38, meet the 80/80 Home and Community Standard, which means that at least 80 percent of all individuals with ID/DD are served in the community and 80 percent of all resources spent on those with ID/DD are for home (less than 7 residents per setting) and community support. Those that do not meet the 80/80 standard are Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Virginia.
  1. As of 2013, 14 States report having no state institutions to seclude those with ID/DD, including Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Indiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia and Washington, D.C. Another 10 States have only one institution each (Arizona, Delaware, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming). Since 1960, 220 of 354 state institutions have been closed (5 more in the past year alone), and 13 more are projected to close by 2016 in California, Massachusetts, New Jersey (3), New York (2), Oklahoma (2), Tennessee (2) and Virginia (2).
  2. For people with disabilities life should be without limits26 States, up from 18, now report meeting the 80 percent Home-Like Setting Standard, which means that at least 80 percent of all individuals with ID/DD are served in settings such as their own home, a family home, family foster care or small group settings like shared apartments with fewer than four residents. The U.S. average for this standard is 79 percent. Just eight States meet a top-performing 90 percent Home-like Setting Standard: Arizona, California, Colorado, D.C., Hawaii, Nevada, New Hampshire, and Vermont.
  1. Ten States, up from seven last year, report at least 10 percent of individuals using self-directed services, according to the National Core Indicators survey in 29 States. These States include Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Utah and Virginia.
  1. 42 States, up from 39 last year, participate in the National Core Indicators (NCI) survey, a comprehensive quality-assurance program that includes standard measurements to assess outcomes of services. A total of 29 States, a 50% increase from last year, reported data outcomes in 2014.
  1. Only 14 States report that they are supporting a large share of families through family support (at least 200 families per 100,000 of population). These support services provide assistance to families that are caring for children with disabilities at home, which helps keep families together, and people with disabilities living in a community setting. These family-focused state programs were in Arizona, California, Delaware, Louisiana, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Alabama and Pennsylvania reported that they were providing higher levels of family support in last year’s ranking.
  1. Just 8 States, down from 10 last year, report having at least 33 percent of individuals with ID/DD working in competitive employment. These States include Connecticut, Maryland, New Hampshire (newly added), New Mexico, Oklahoma, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia (newly added). Louisiana, Nebraska, Oregon and Virginia reported that they met this threshold in last year’s ranking, but reported a decrease in competitive employment this year.
  1. 14 States report successfully placing at least 60 percent of individuals in vocational rehabilitation in jobs, with fifteen States reporting the average number of hours worked for those individuals placed being at least 25 hours. Three States report at least half of those served got a job within one year. Only California met the standard on all three success measures this year compared to last year’s ranking, when Nebraska and South Dakota were the only two states to report meeting all three thresholds.
  1. Waiting lists for residential and community services are high and show the unmet need. More than 322,000 people, 5,000 more than last year, are on a waiting list for Home and Community-Based Services. This requires a daunting 44 percent increase in States’ HCBS programs. 16 States, a decrease from 22 last year, report no waiting list or a small waiting list (requiring less than 10 percent program growth).

2013_donation_overlay_buttonYour support makes The Case for Inclusion possible each year. Make a gift today to help UCP continue to fulfill its mission of a Life Without Limits for people with disabilities and their families by providing advocacy, support and services. 

UCP Releases Case for Inclusion Rankings and Report

Arizona, Maryland, Missouri, New York & Hawaii Top 2015 List

 

Washington, D.C. (July 16, 2014) – United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) released the 2015 Case for Inclusion today, an annual report and interactive website used to track state-by-state community living standards for Americans living with intellectual and developmental disabilities (ID/DD).

The Case for Inclusion examines data and outcomes for all 50 states and the District of Columbia (DC), ranking each on a set of key indicators, including how people with disabilities live and participate in their communities, if they are satisfied with their lives, and how easily the services and supports they need are accessed. By taking these factors into account, UCP is able to publish this comprehensive analysis of each state’s progress or failures in providing critical services to individuals living with disabilities.

In addition to rankings, the report digs deeper into two critical issues facing people with disabilities and their families: waiting lists for services and support and transitioning from high school into an adult life in the community. Two case studies examine how states are approaching those issues.

Since 2006, the rankings have enabled families, advocates, the media and policymakers to measure each state’s progress or lack of improvement and gain insight into how the highest-ranking states are achieving their success. To enhance the usability of the report, UCP publishes tables of the data from which the report was compiled on an interactive website where visitors can compare and contrast results among selected states.

“Ultimately, the goal of all of this is to promote inclusion and enhance the quality of life for all Americans,” said Stephen Bennett, President and CEO of United Cerebral Palsy. “UCP is committed to shining a light on how well states are actually serving people with disabilities and, by extension, their families and communities. Also, we want to provide the proper national context for this data so that we can truly use it to drive progress.”

To download and read the entire Case for Inclusion report or explore the data tables, visit cfi.ucp.org.

 

Significant Takeaways from the 2015 Ranking

Promoting Independence

  1. All States still have room for improvement, but some States have consistently remained at the bottom since 2007, including Arkansas (#49), Illinois (#47), Mississippi (#51) and Texas (#50) primarily due to the small portion of people and resources dedicated to those in small or home-like settings in these four states. Mississippi and Texas also do not participate in NCI.
  1. 32 States, down from 38, meet the 80/80 Home and Community Standard, which means that at least 80 percent of all individuals with ID/DD are served in the community and 80 percent of all resources spent on those with ID/DD are for home (less than 7 residents per setting) and community support. Those that do not meet the 80/80 standard are Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Virginia.
  1. As of 2013, 14 States report having no state institutions to seclude those with ID/DD, including Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Indiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia and Washington, D.C. Another 10 States have only one institution each (Arizona, Delaware, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming). Since 1960, 220 of 354 state institutions have been closed (5 more in the past year alone), according to the University of Minnesota’s Research and Training Center on Community Living. Another 13 more are projected to close by 2016 in California, Massachusetts, New Jersey (3), New York (2), Oklahoma (2), Tennessee (2) and Virginia (2)
  1. 26 States, up from 18, now report meeting the 80 percent Home-Like Setting Standard, which means that at least 80 percent of all individuals with ID/DD are served in settings such as their own home, a family home, family foster care or small group settings like shared apartments with fewer than four residents. The U.S. average for this standard is 79 percent. Just eight States meet a top-performing 90 percent Home-like Setting Standard: Arizona, California, Colorado, D.C., Hawaii, Nevada, New Hampshire, and Vermont.
  1. Ten States, up from seven last year, report at least 10 percent of individuals using self-directed services, according to the National Core Indicators survey in 29 States. These States include Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Utah and Virginia.

Tracking Health, Safety and Quality of Life

  1. 42 States, up from 39 last year, participate in the National Core Indicators (NCI) survey, a comprehensive quality-assurance program that includes standard measurements to assess outcomes of services. A total of 29 States, a 50% increase from last year, reported data outcomes in 2014.

Keeping Families Together

  1. Only 14 States report that they are supporting a large share of families through family support (at least 200 families per 100,000 of population). These support services provide assistance to families that are caring for children with disabilities at home, which helps keep families together, and people with disabilities living in a community setting. These family-focused state programs were in Arizona, California, Delaware, Louisiana, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Alabama and Pennsylvania reported that they were providing higher levels of family support in last year’s ranking.

Promoting Productivity

  1. Just 8 States, down from 10 last year, report having at least 33 percent of individuals with ID/DD working in competitive employment. These States include Connecticut, Maryland, New Hampshire (newly added), New Mexico, Oklahoma, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia (newly added). Louisiana, Nebraska, Oregon and Virginia reported that they met this threshold in last year’s ranking, but reported a decrease in competitive employment this year.
  1. 14 States report successfully placing at least 60 percent of individuals in vocational rehabilitation in jobs, with fifteen States reporting the average number of hours worked for those individuals placed being at least 25 hours and three States reporting at least half of those served getting a job within one year. Only California met the standard on all three success measures this year compared to last year’s ranking, when Nebraska and South Dakota were the only two states to report meeting all three thresholds.

Serving Those in Need

  1. Waiting lists for residential and community services are high and show the unmet need. More than 322,000 people, 5,000 more than last year, are on a waiting list for Home and Community-Based Services. This requires a daunting 44 percent increase in States’ HCBS programs. 16 States, a decrease from 22 last year, report no waiting list or a small waiting list (requiring less than 10 percent program growth).

CP Wiki Write-athon Offers Cash Prizes for Content

The World CP Initiative, in which United Cerebral Palsy plays an active role, has just launched a Wiki that is devoted exclusively to cerebral palsy. Throughout June and July, UCP and the other organizations which make up the World CP Initiative, will be promoting a CP Wiki Write-athon to encourage people to post content on the Wiki.

About the Wiki

For those of you who are not familiar, the Wiki is an online knowledge base on cerebral palsy and related topics for everyone: people with disabilities, parents, caretakers and professionals in the medical and disability fields. It’s just getting started, so we your help to create and improve content and to spread the word.CPWikiWriteAthon

Join the Competition

The CP Wiki Write-athon competition runs throughout June and July. There are 30 x $500 prizes for the best and most content added – including the best organization page and the best country page.

Spread the Word

Anyone can write about CP and take part in the Write-athon. You can write about services, people, sports, technology, travel, health, employment, education, films, books… any CP-related topic.

Please spread the word:

1.  Share this blog post with your family and friends

2.  Print out and post this write-athon poster at your school, workplace, community center, library or other public places you visit

3. Add this news item to your personal blog or website if you have one

4. Replace your Facebook cover pic with the World CPWikicover for June and July

5. Use the simple template on the wikihome page to create a page about CP in the United States

6. ‘Like’ the World CP Day Facebookpage and share the Wiki updates

Jump In and Add Content! 

As you’re browsing the wiki, remember that it’s fine to add or edit wherever you want. Anything you change or do will show up on the wiki for others to pick up and expand on – and as the site grows you’ll see that happening more and more! In the wiki world we say “Be bold!” because anything you do is valuable. Even if you ‘break’ something, a fix is always just a few clicks away – and somebody will come around to fixing it sooner rather than later. So don’t be afraid to give it a try.

 

UCP’s 2015 Annual Conference Wrap Up

UCP’s 2015 Annual Conference, “Reflecting Our Mission, Focusing Our Vision,” concluded in Chicago on Friday with nearly 200 leaders of UCP’s membership gathering to discuss current affairs, honor distinguished colleagues and supporters and share knowledge to improve the network.

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Several special guests, including UCP Celebrity Youth Ambassador, RJ Mitte joined in the sessions. Mr. Mitte is best known for his role a Walter White, Jr. in AMC’s “Breaking Bad.” He actively supports disability causes and speaks about his experiences as an actor with a disability to raise awareness. He just  wrapped several feature films over the last year, including DIXIELAND starring alongside Faith Hill and Riley Keough, which just premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2015 and was first role he’s portrayed a character without a disability.

In addition to sharing his views on the future for people with disabilities in a session called “Reflecting on Our History, Focusing on our Future,” he presented UCP’s annual Outstanding Youth Award honoring Daniel Lopez and Lake Periman and Life Without Limits Award honoring O’Ryan Case. Daniel and Lake have made a huge impact on their central Florida community of Lake Mary, raising thousands of dollars for United Cerebral Palsy of Central Florida over the past four years. They have worked tirelessly to organize events and engage the media and their community to raise awareness about cerebral palsy. O’Ryan Case is an individual with CP who has demonstrated leadership and achievement to such a degree that he is a significant role model to people with and without disabilities through his work at UCP’s national office.

ORyan Case_RJ Mitte 2

Dr. Eva Ritvo was awarded with the Volunteer of the Year Award for her work and efforts for UCP of South Florida. And, Dr. Charlie Law and UCP of Greater Birmingham were recognized for their Life Without Limits clinic with the Outstanding Program of the Year award.

Awards Committee_Dr. Ritvo_RJ Mitte

Lake_RJ_DanielAlso, UCP was honored to hear from Joe Russo, Deputy Commissioner from the Chicago Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities who spoke about the ADA’s 25th Anniversary celebration in Chicago. He joined a panel with Mr. Mitte, CEO of UCP of NYC Ed Matthews and the venerable Jack Schillinger to discuss the past, present and future of UCP.RJ_Joe Russo_Gloria_Armando_Central AZ
Jack Schillinger, Chair Emeritus of UCP of South Florida and current Bellows Fund Chair celebrated his 95th birthday with the honor of UCP’s Chair Award given by Gloria Johnson Cusack in recognition of the direct impact he has had on the lives of people with disabilities and their families during his long career.

Linda Johns, CEO of East Central Alabama United Cerebral Palsy was given one of the most prestigious honors this year, receiving the Kathleen O. Maul Leadership Award. This is presented to an affiliate leader who embodies the leadership characteristics that were embraced by Executive Director, Kathy Maul, for whom the award is named.Maul Award Winner

On Wednesday evening, the attendees were joined by the winning teams who competed in UCP Life Lab’s Innovation Lab, held on Tuesday and Wednesday And, on Thursday evening, UCP held a special screening of “Margarita With a Straw” – a critically-acclaimed film about a woman with cerebral palsy. The movie was inspired by the daughter of Sathi Alur, a member of the World Cerebral Palsy Institute who held an informal Q & A session after the screening.

Enjoy more photos from the event on UCP’s Facebook page and make your plans now to join us next spring in Las Vegas for the 2016 Annual Conference (dates to be determined).

UCP Thanks Our Sponsors!

Merz Pharmaceuticals

MetLife Center for Special Needs Planning

Careerbuilder

Therap

Uber

Infinitec, a Program of UCP Seguin of Greater Chicago

Ability Magazine and Abilityjobs.com

Blackbaud

Twin Brothers Step Up for UCP’s Steptember Challenge

United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) kicks off its annual Steptember Challenge registration period today with the announcement that Martin and Adrian Konstantinov will be our official Steptember Ambassadors in 2015. Following in the footsteps of past ambassadors such as Team Hoyt, the 15-year-old twin brothers are committed to raising awareness and funds to help people with disabilities and their families through United Cerebral Palsy.

Steptember is a four-week event designed to generate support for people with cerebral palsy and other disabilities. Beginning on September 2, teams from around the world will challenge themselves to take 10,000 steps a day and fundraise along the way until September 29, 2015. Nearly any activity, including biking, physical therapy and yoga, can be converted into steps on the Steptember website.

In 2012, the Konstantinov brothers co-founded the successful Lake Scary 5K in their hometown of Lake Mary, FL to benefit one of UCP’s local affiliate organizations on behalf of a friend with cerebral palsy. Now that their family has relocated to Washington, D.C., the brothers plan to put their energy and enthusiasm into helping UCP’s national efforts to rally teams participating in this year’s Steptember event. Last year, over 10,000 people participated in the challenge and raised more than $3 million globally through more than 170 organizations involved in the effort.

Being Honored in 2013

“We want to continue to spread awareness about cerebral palsy and contribute to this cause that we already feel closely attached to,” said the Konstantinovs.

The twins will be working with their Director of School Activities at the Maret School in DC to engage fellow students in the Steptember Challenge and will be on hand to help UCP promote the event. Not only do the funds raised during September directly benefit people with disabilities served by 80 UCP affiliates in the US and beyond, the steps taken directly benefit the participants as well in leading a more active lifestyle.

“We are beyond impressed with the efforts of these young men’” said Stephen Bennett, President and CEO of UCP. “They are an excellent example of the idea that a world of good can come from the intention to make the world a better place for just one person. Through their desire to help their schoolmate, they are benefiting thousands on people with disabilities.”

Email Tile vs 3

For more about Steptember, please visit www.steptember.us.

Cleveland Clinic Children’s and UCP of Greater Cleveland Co-Host “Go Baby Go”

Kids, start your engines! Cleveland Clinic Children’s and UCP of Greater Cleveland will kick-off Northeast Ohio’s first Go Baby Go workshop, Saturday, May 16 at UCP of Greater Cleveland.

UCP Cleveland

Cleveland Clinic

National Interstate Insurance will supply equipment to engineer 25 ride-on toy cars designed to put local youngsters with disabilities on the fast track to mobility. Skilled craftsmen will customize cars to the unique personality of each youngster before families count down for the tykes to take the wheel during a special a “drive time” race. Backed by support of more than 100 skilled craftsmen and families, Go Baby Go Cleveland is the largest volunteer event in the organization’s history.

Go Baby Go was created in 2006 by Dr. Cole Galloway – who will attend the event. He is the associate chair of the University of Delaware’s Department of Physical Therapy. The program was created to give children with spina bifida, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome and other mobility disabilities a chance to socialize, move around more easily and keep up with their siblings and peers.

Studies show that the power of independent mobility supports the development of strong cognitive, social, motor, and language skills in young children.

Go Baby Go Cleveland is presented in partnership with Cleveland Clinic Children’s, Cleveland State University, Health Aid of Ohio, Miller’s, National Seating & Mobility, National Interstate Insurance, Permobil, Replay for Kids, and UCP of Greater Cleveland.

More About Cleveland Clinic Children’s

Cleveland Clinic Children’s is a part of the Cleveland Clinic health system and offers full medical, surgical and rehabilitative care for infants, children and adolescents. Cleveland Clinic Children’s supports 126 acute care beds at Cleveland Clinic’s main campus and 284 pediatric beds system wide; in addition, pediatric services are available at 43 Clinic sites in Northeast Ohio. A staff of more than 300 full-time pediatricians and sub-specialists see 800,000 pediatric visits each year and provide hospital care for 18,000 children per year. Cleveland Clinic Children’s is a non-profit, multi-specialty academic medical center integrating clinical care, research and education. Cleveland Clinic Children’s consistently ranks among the “Best Children’s Hospitals” by U.S.News & World Report. Visit us online at www.clevelandclinic.org/childrens and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/clevelandclinicchildrens.

More About UCP of Greater Cleveland

The mission of UCP of Greater Cleveland is to empower children and adults with disabilities to advance their independence, productivity and inclusion in the community. The not-for-profit organization serves 1,100 children and adults with disabilities from Northeast Ohio and maintains a staff of over 170 employees offering comprehensive Children’s Services and Adult Services. With low administrative costs, 92 cents of every contributed dollar goes directly to the programs and services offered to children and adults. The headquarters of UCP of Greater Cleveland – the Iris S. and Bert L. Wolstein Center – are located at 10011 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, 44106. The agency has two other locations in Westlake and Highland Hills, as well as two group homes and various vocational sites throughout Greater Cleveland. Please visitwww.ucpcleveland.org.

 

Making Technology Accessible for Everyone

The following post from Microsoft Chicago’s director and community advocate Shelley Stern Grach first appeared on www.microsoft-chicago.com on April 23. United Cerebral Palsy’s Life Labs initiative is hosting it’s first Innovation Lab at Microsoft‘s Technology Center in Chicago May 19-20. Find out more about the event and how you can be a part of this intense two-day design challenge at www.ucpinnovationlab.org

 

How many of you are aware that 2015 marks the 25th anniversary of the American Disabilities Act?

I wasn’t until a few months ago, when I received  a call from United Cerebral Palsy. They were interested in hosting a hackathon for 100 people in May, and were looking for space to hold the hackathon. Fortunately, the Microsoft Technology & Innovation Center is ADA-compliant, and we are now thrilled to be hosting this wonderful program on May 19-20, when developers will be creating apps to help people with disabilities. At about the same time, I received a call from Chicago Public Schools to see if we could host a job shadow day for CPS students with disabilities. Those two calls sparked my interest, and  I also started to pay more attention to ADA 25 and to how meaningful technology can be to those who have a disability. To recognize and celebrate the important strides for people with disabilities, 2015 will be celebrating ADA 25 all year long and Chicago will be celebrating ADA 25 Chicago. This blog is the first in a series recognizing ADA 25 and its impact.

Our mission and social responsibility at Microsoft is to enable people throughout the world to realize their full potential with technology. To that end, we invested in creating an environment that capitalizes on the diversity of our people, and the inclusion of ideas and solutions, that meets the needs of our increasingly global and diverse customer base.

And that means developing technology that is accessible to anyone – regardless of age or ability. Technology has the potential to become our sixth sense.

People with disabilities are among the most marginalized groups in the world. People with disabilities have poorer health outcomes, lower education achievements, less economic participation and higher rates of poverty than people without disabilities.

Microsoft has a long history and commitment to accessibility. For more than 25 years, Microsoft has focused on creating technologies that make devices easier to use for individuals with a wide array of difficulties and impairments. Microsoft has listened, gained insights, and applied what it’s learned. The result is an increasing momentum toward the goal of making devices accessible and useful to all people. Today we empower hundreds of millions of people of all abilities around the world to use technology to enter the workforce, stay connected with friends and family, get things done and take full advantage of a digital lifestyle. We’ll spend more time in May looking at how apps can positively impact the lives of people with disabilities.

Today, I want to share with you how impressed I am with the teachers and students at CPS who visited us last week.

Making Technology Accessible for EveryoneLet’s start with CPS teachers like James Taylor. First, you just have to love his name! But more importantly, James spends his time focusing on all the students with disabilities at CPS, and one small part of his day is putting together field trips for the students to businesses, so the students can experience the corporate world. Originally, James thought we would have 2 or 3 students sign up. We had 27! Everyone arrived early and we began our day with a wonderful presentation by Paul Edlund, Chief Technology Officer – Microsoft Midwest, about the future of technology. It was a highly interactive session, with lots of questions and student engagement.

We then had a full tour of the Microsoft Technology & Innovation Center, led by Beth Malloy, Director, Microsoft Technology Center – Chicago and Bradley Trovillion, Technical Solutions Architect. The students examined our Internet of Things Fishtank, played Xbox and used the Kinect to understand motion capture of movement and worked real time on our PPI.

Making Technology Accessible for Everyone

After lunch, we had a terrific presentation via Skype by Patrick Maher, Director of Civic Engagement, SPR Consulting. SPR is a Microsoft Partner and Pat suffered a spinal cord injury during college. In addition to his very motivational personal story, Pat emphasized the great opportunities for careers in technology for people with disabilities. Pat runs a meet up group called ITKAN, which supports people with disabilities in the Technology field.

Making Technology Accessible for Everyone

He also showed an amazing video which I highly recommend:

The entire staff of the Microsoft Technology and Innovation Center were honored to support these wonderful teachers and students at CPS. It’s most rewarding when we received the following thank you note from James, which told us that our message hit home and that we have helped to fill the pipeline of students who are interested in careers in technology:

“Pat and Shelley I want to say thank for participating and hosting the students.  Overall the students enjoyed the experience and I’m hoping to get a few involved with ITKAN in the next few months.  A majority of the students are gearing up to graduate and after this job shadow day, some are being swayed over to the computer field.  Pat I want to say thank again for sharing your experience with us, and giving motivation to the students.  And again, thank you and the rest of the team for being great hosts.  Hopefully we can do this again later this year or next year and open some doors for upcoming graduates.  I will share these videos and get some feedback, hopefully this will generate some questions for opportunities and get the students more involved with the IT world.” 

To learn more about Microsoft’s investment in accessibility, see how our products have built-in accessibility features.

UCP Affiliates Earn Awards for Excellence

UCP would like to congratulate our 2015 Awards for Excellence winners! Thank you for your hard work and dedication you show to our affiliates organizations and people with disabilities and their families in your communities. These amazing programs and people will be honored at UCP’s Annual Conference in Chicago May 20-22.

The 2015 Award Winners:

Nina Eaton Program of the Year
Life Without Limits Clinic (nominated by UCP of Greater Birmingham)
This award is given to a program or service of a UCP affiliate that has made an extraordinary contribution to the quality of life of people with disabilities, enabling individuals served to become more independent, productive, or integrated into the family or community.
Ethel Hausman Volunteer of the Year
Dr. Eva Ritvo (nominated by UCP of South Florida)
This award is given to a volunteer who has made an outstanding contribution to a UCP affiliate and to the quality of life of people with disabilities.
Outstanding Youth
Daniel Lopez and Lake Periman (nominated by  UCP of Central Florida)
This award honors youth who have significantly enhanced the lives of people with disabilities through care giving, volunteerism, advocacy, innovation or fundraising.
Life Without Limits
O’Ryan Case (nominated by UCP National Staff)
This award goes to an individual with disabilities who has demonstrated leadership and achievement of such caliber as to be a significant role model to individuals with and without disabilities.
In addition to these awards, UCP will be honoring 100 outstanding volunteers at the Annual Conference, which we call our Victory 100. UCP believes in the strength of its volunteer network and values volunteers as the working core of the UCP family. The organization was founded through the efforts of volunteers, and we continue to build on that strength. The UCP Victory 100 Awards recognize the dedicated volunteers who have given 100 or more hours of support to UCP through our affiliates across the country.

What Do YOU Know about UCP?

United Cerebral Palsy: Life without limits for people with disabilities

What do YOU know about UCP? We’re a network of affiliated nonprofit organizations working to ensure a Life without Limits™ for both children and adults with a broad range of disabilities and their families.

Tell Us More About The UCP Network.

UCP’s approximately nearly 80 affiliated organizations range from large providers like Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare in Minnesota, to smaller but no less impactful organizations from New England to California. Our affiliates’ influence can be felt as far away as Canada and Australia.

Each organization acts independently to provide the advocacy, support and services needed in their communities. Many have programs in place to address direct needs for therapy, housing, transportation, employment and family support. Many spend time advocating for public policy changes at the local, state and even national level. Many work to raise awareness of the issues facing people with disabilities and their families, and all work to secure the necessary resources to carry out UCP’s mission.

Who, Exactly, Do You Serve?

UCP is proud to serve people with a range of disabilities, their families, and by extension their communities. Sometimes, you will hear that 65% of the people served by UCP affiliates have disabilities in addition to, or other than, cerebral palsy. While percentages vary by affiliate and can change over the years, the truth is that UCP places a priority on serving people in need, regardless of diagnosis. UCP providers typically serve people with the most severe and multiple disabilities.24JL04GD

At the national level, UCP advocates for change in public policy. And, we work to raise awareness of the major issues common to many people with disabilities: access, resources, support and respect. At the local level, UCP affiliates work hard to provide the supports and services most needed in their communities. Their capacity to serve is only bound by the resources they have available.

If You Serve People with All Disabilities, Why Are You Called United Cerebral Palsy?

We are proud of our heritage. United Cerebral Palsy’s name has a long history, going back to 1949. In the 1940s, there were not many options for families of and people with cerebral palsy and other disabilities. What began as the brainstorm of a few parents of children with cerebral palsy quickly grew in to a nationwide crusade to improve the lives of people with all disabilities. From it’s inception, UCP brought issues about cerebral palsy and other developmental disabilities to the forefront of the national media.

While the words “United Cerebral Palsy” do not fully express the scope of our work, UCP has served as a trusted name for millions of people for more than 60 years. As with many iconic brands, which have grown and evolved over time, the true heart of our identity lies in the associations people make when they hear our name, not in the name itself.11JE04GD

Why Don’t You Just Focus on Cerebral Palsy?

Because more than 176,000 people rely on UCP every day. If we can advocate for a public policy that provides access to more affordable housing options for with disabilities, should we apply that policy only to people with CP? If we can encourage respect for all people, should we only try to put an end to bullying against children with CP? If we can inspire an innovator to design a device that is more accessible, should we insist that only people with CP be able to use it? United Cerebral Palsy works hard to help individuals overcome barriers to a Life Without Limits™, and we have found that sometimes the biggest barriers of all are the ones that come with assigning labels and defining limits.