CPD alumni ponders a changing career

March 31, 2009 by JoLynne Lyon

Adrienne Akers at work in the early 1980s.

Adrienne Akers at work in the early 1980s.

2009 Alumni of the Year Adrienne Akers reflects on life at the Center for Persons with Disabilities, which has undergone two name changes and several shifts of focus. Her own career has taken some unexpected turns since she started work at the Exceptional Child Center in the early 70s. read more

To Change the World…Start with Yourself

March 27, 2009 by cpehrson

On Tuesday, March 31, thousands across our nation will pledge to do something that will change them and the people they are around forever…they will pledge to stop using the word “retard.” Spread the Word to End the Word is a National Awareness Day to raise awareness of the hurtful effects of the word “retard(ed)” and encourage people to pledge to stop using it. This pledge campaign was initiated by the Special Olympics, an organization dedicated to empowering people with intellectual disabilities through sports activities.

Special Olympics launched its Spread the Word to End the Word campaign in August 2008 when the film “Tropic Thunder” hit theatres. Special Olympics, along with a coalition of 17 disability organizations throughout the country including National Down Syndrome Society, American Association of People with Disabilities, The Arc of the United States and Best Buddies spoke out against the film, which featured the prominent use of the R-word.

Respectful and inclusive language is essential to show people with intellectual disabilities respect and to give them dignity. Much of society does not recognize the hurtful, dehumanizing and exclusive effects of the word “retard(ed).” Maybe it takes knowing and loving someone who is intellectually impaired to be offended by the use of that word.

“Most people don’t think of this word as the language of hate, but that’s exactly what it feels like to millions of people with intellectual disabilities, their families and friends,” said actor and activist John C. McGinley, of the hit show “Scrubs.”  McGinley added, “I choose to believe that most of us are fundamentally good and that we’re just not aware that the word is offensive and that it hurts.”

That is the goal of the Spread the Word to End the Word campaign-to promote awareness and initiate change. As a parent of a fantastic son who is intellectually impaired, I urge all of us to be aware of the words that we use and to be part of the change that will break down barriers and stereotypes.

I challenge you to make that pledge on March 31st to stop using the R-word and any other words that bring someone else down. Get to know someone with intellectual disabilities. Spend time with them. I promise you that you will be changed forever.

Traveling on Public Transportation

March 19, 2009 by cpehrson

Traveling when you have a disability can be daunting, if not down right impossible.  Those with a mobility device, such as a wheelchair or an electric scooter,  frequently postpone or cancel their travel plans due to the barriers that might occur along the way.

Jane Nielsen, a member of the CPD Advisory Council, tried to  travel by plane with her power wheelchair.  During the flight, it was shoved in the cargo bin and was pressed against something that held down the power control the whole flight and the hand control unit broke off.  When she arrived at her destination, the motor had burnt out.  She hasn’t traveled since.

Gordon Richins, the Consumer Liason at the CPD, often has to travel out of state for his job, and his power wheelchair has paid the price with several mishaps.  Gordon’s philosophy is “Nothing can stop me!” so he continues to make travel arrangements and hopes for the best.

Personally, I am reluctant to make out of state travel plans that would require me to bring along my electric scooter, as I don’t trust the airlines to protect it from being damaged during transport. This is both a disappointment and a frustration, and reinforces my feelings of being “disabled.” Mark Innocenti, Assistant Director of the Research and Evaluation Division at the  CPD, once said, “People are disabled only when their environment makes them feel disabled.” I agree  wholeheartedly.

I wonder if there are others who have had similar experiences with public transportation, I encourage you to share your comments with us on this blog.

An organization located in Colorado Springs, CO, Meeting the Challenge, Inc. (MTC), is conducting a national survey designed to collect information from people with disabilities regarding their experiences with public transportation. The information gathered will be used to determine what barriers still exist in public transportation for people with disabilities and will be used to create Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) technical assistance materials directed toward alleviating those barriers.

This on-line survey can be accessed from this link at http://mtcinc.transit.sgizmo.com/. You can respond to this survey through March 31.

Web accessibility study seeks middle and high school IEP students

March 19, 2009 by JoLynne Lyon

WebAIM, a CPD initiative for improving web accessibility,  is conducting a study on how to make the web more friendly to students with cognitive and learning disabilities. We need your help!  We are looking for students with an IEP from ages 12-18 (7th grade to 12th grade).  There will be compensation for those willing to participate.  If you know a student who is willing to participate, please visit this website or contact Dr. Cyndi Rowland.  Thank you for your help!

One-time Social Security payment

March 18, 2009 by Bryce

In May 2009, Social Security will distribute a one-time payment of $250 to Social Security and Supplemental Security Income beneficiaries nationwide. The payments are provided under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.  A leaflet which discusses distribution of the one-time payment in greater detail is available.

Please help us get the word out to people with disabilities and their families about this one-time payment.