Reflections on the National Forum on Disability Issues

October 2, 2012 by JoLynne Lyon

Gordon watches the forum

The National Forum on Disability Issues did not succeed in attracting the two presidential candidates. That said, it was a heckuva lot more interesting than we expected.

Disability is a relevant national issue. A recent, weighted survey found that 51 percent of respondents either had a disability, or had a family member or close friend with one. The forum itself was sponsored by 50 different organizations and viewed in numerous locations, including ours. It was billed as the only campaign event with a unique, disability-specific view.

It was a step forward for a group that, as Ted Kennedy Jr. put it, talks a lot but doesn’t get out and vote.

Both candidates appointed representatives to speak for them and field questions.

Ted Kennedy Jr. was President Obama’s representative. He spoke passionately for people with disabilities, as a proud member of the disability community. (He lost a leg in his fight with bone cancer as a child.)

“We know that people with disability don’t want a handout, they want a job,” he said. “We’re the only group out there that want to pay more taxes… But we don’t want to trigger the loss of health care benefits.”

Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Washington) represented Governor Romney. She is the mother of a child with disabilities. While stressing that it’s important to maintain protections for people with disabilities, she said it would be great if government programs could be more efficient.

Both representatives said attitudes toward people with disabilities need to change. They both said employment for people with disabilities is important.

They disagreed on plenty of points, though. Here’s a sampling of their views:

Ted Kennedy Jr.

Kennedy said Governor Mitt Romney would slash the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act  by 20 percent. He pointed out that the Republican Party Platform asks its members to vote against the UN’s Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. And he argued against the Republican idea of block grants for Medicaid, which amount to a cap.

The most important question he would pose the candidates was this: How they would expand jobs and independent living for people with disabilities? The answer would be telling, he said–it would show whether the candidate’s attitude was based on fear or pity or respect for civil rights.

Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers

States and private companies have found innovative solutions that the Federal Government could learn from. Rodgers pointed to Walgreen’s stores, which are now being built using universal design, and a Wal-Mart experiment that put “must-have” items in an easy-t0-reach spot at the front of the store.

Budget realities mean that policymakers have to make some hard decisions, she said, but the government–and the provisions of the Affordable Care Act–are not being honest about the true cost of delivering services. She argued that more should be done to address the actual cost of health care.

Her question to the candidates: How would they open the door of opportunity for people with disabilities to have jobs? Would they think beyond those typically open to people with disabilities?

Tags: , , ,

National Disability Employment Awareness Month

October 5, 2011 by cpehrson

Held each October since 1945, National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) is a national campaign that raises awareness about disability employment issues and celebrates the many contributions of America’s workers with disabilities.

This year’s theme is “Profit by Investing in Workers with Disabilities.” The theme honors the contributions of workers with disabilities and reminds the public that they represent a highly skilled talent pool that can benefit the work force.

Kathy Martinez, assistant secretary of labor for disability employment policy said, “Workers with disabilities represent all skill sets and are ready to get the job done. This year’s theme focuses on improving employment opportunities that lead to good jobs and a secure economic future for people with disabilities and the nation as a whole.”

The CPD values the many employees with disabilities that are on staff.  As well as being highly skilled, they are a daily reminder of the importance of the work that is being done here.




Tags: ,

CPD Legacy Story: Karen Robinson

September 27, 2011 by cpehrson

This CPD Legacy Story is from Karen Robinson.  Karen volunteers at the Mountain Plains Regional Resource Center, part of the Center of Technical Assistance in Excellence in Special Education (TAESE) at the CPD.

By Karen Robinson as told to Connie Pehrson.

When I was looking for a part time job over twenty years ago, little did I know I would find the perfect job!

I have worked at the Mountain Plains Regional Resource Center at the CPD for the past 23 years. I started out working in the MPRRC Library with Julia Burnham (now retired), doing some filing. I now work a day or two each week for a couple of hours shredding papers, helping with the recycling, book binding, and whatever else they need done.  I like working here because they allow me to be flexible with my schedule. I have recently decided to continue to work here as a volunteer so that I can stay in touch with all of the great people that have become my friends through the years.

Having cerebral palsy hasn’t slowed me down much.  The Cache Valley Transit buses help me to get to and from work because I am able to get my electric scooter on it easily.

The buses also help me get to the activities offered by the local Options for Independence Center in Logan.   I have made some great Halloween costumes for their annual Halloween Party, and have had my picture in the Herald Journal showing them off a couple of times.  Most of the time I win first place!  I have also come in first place a few times in their 3K scooter/power chair races held each year.

I like my job, and I like to work.  Coming to work each week gets me out of the house and gives me a feeling of satisfaction.  I want to thank all of the great people at the MPRRC for letting me come and helping me to be productive and independent.

Here's a selection of photos showing Karen in her Halloween costumes.

Tags: , ,

Utah DD Council sets new goals for next 5 years

September 19, 2011 by cpehrson

The Utah Developmental Disabilities Council is a CPD partner agency that supports and advocates for individual with developmental disabilities.  They have recently completed their new 5 year plan for 2012-2016.

Their goals for supporting people with disabilities are focused on the following areas:

Goal 1: Support the development of opportunities for people with disabilities to pursue a range of post public school  education experiences.

Goal 2: Support the development of networks of self- and community-advocates in becoming effective change agents.

Goal 3: Support self- and community-advocates in leadership opportunities.

Goal 4: Support the evolution of community resources and supports that empower people with disabilities and their families to lead independent lives in their communities.

Goal 5: Support the development of opportunities for people with disabilities to get and keep jobs.

You can read the 5-Year Plan in its entirety online.

We applaud the DD Council for the valuable work that they are doing to improve the lives of people with disabilities in Utah.

Tags: , ,

Job hunting? Some good advice

August 1, 2011 by cpehrson

The latest figures for June 2011 show that the unemployment rate for persons with disabilities is almost 8 percent higher than that for persons with no disabilities–16.9 percent compared to 9.0 percent.  Those numbers reflect a 1.3 percent increase in unemployment rate for people with disabilities compared to a 0.6 percent decrease for people without disabilities (2010 statistics).

That puts a lot of people with disabilities out looking for work.  Not an easy thing to find these days.

For those who haven’t looked for work in the last decade, things have changed drastically in the employment field.  There is an article written by Anthony Balderrama that outlines some of those changes and gives some good, solid advice about how to apply for a job, how to prepare for an interview, and the impact that the digital world has on this process.

We can all use as much help as possible when it comes to job hunting.  Hope this article helps you out.






Tags: ,