Tag: trainings for people with disabilities

Be Prepared: Resources to Assist People with Disabilities in Planning for an Emergency

Over the past month we have discussed the need for emergency preparedness and the positive impact training has made on people with disabilities. This week, I would like to share additional resources related to emergency preparedness. The following sites provide valuable information for all.

MA Emergency Shelters

Disability Policy Consortium Publications
Scroll to a section marked “DPC Emergency Preparedness Discussion Papers”. The Shelter List is first in that section;  click “Get”.
**PLEASE NOTE: This is only a partial list and some information may be out of date. Contact your town’s fire, police, or emergency manager to ask about shelter locations.

Emergency Supplies

FEMA Basic Disaster Supplies Kit
FEMA offers examples of what to include in your emergency supply kit.

“ICE” Your Phone

How to “ICE”, In Case of Emergency, Your Phone
Add emergency contact numbers of friends and family to your cell phone by putting the word “ICE” in front of them. ICE stands for “In Case of Emergency” and responders will look for it. For instructions (and a free sticker) visit this site. If you don’t have a cell phone, write the numbers down and store them in a safe place.

Personal Emergency Plan Template (large print)

Disability Policy Consortium Publications
Go to the 2nd item on that page and click “Get”. This will allow you to fill in specific information about yourself and carry it with you in an emergency.

Power Outage Planning for Medical Equipment

Home Use Devices / How to Prepare for and Handle Power Outages for Medical Devices that Require Electricity
Published by the Food and Drug Administration, the Center for Devices and Radiological Health, and the Department of Health and Human Services.

This booklet asks specific questions about any assistive equipment you may use. Answering them will increase knowledge about your equipment, and what to do in case of a power outage.


Active Planning: Response and Planning for Cities and Towns

Join the Active Planning Project at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center and receive a  free emergency response training. This information is extremely valuable for public health and public safety emergency responders, planners and managers in learning more about emergency response for people with disabilities. As part of the process, we help you hold a meeting with the local disability community to review your town’s emergency plan for gaps.

To schedule your town’s training or for more information contact:  Patrick Gleason at 781-642-0128 or Patrick.Gleason@umassmed.edu

Emergency Preparedness Training for Self-Advocates

Nate Trull, self-advocate, is available to provide free, two-part emergency preparedness trainings to self-advocates and organizations in Massachusetts.

For more information, or to schedule a training with Nate, please contact  Patrick Gleason at 781-642-0128 or Patrick.Gleason@umassmed.edu

Emergency Preparedness Training Makes Great Impact On Individuals With Disabilities

Nate, Mary and Brian sharing their " to go" bags at Minute Man ArcThis week’s blog entry includes comments from Mary Blauvelt, who attended an emergency preparedness training given by self-advocate Nate Trull in 2010. Read on for more of her thoughts.

As a Board Member for Minuteman ARC based in Concord, Massachusetts, and co-president of its internal group SAFE (Self-Advocacy For Everyone), Mary Blauvelt understands the challenges that individuals with disabilities can face. One of the biggest involves being prepared in case of an emergency. Emergencies can take any form at any time, and knowing what to do may save someone’s life. To that end, the ARC invited self-advocate Nate Trull to present a workshop in May, 2010, and a follow-up in October 2010.

Why we need to be prepared

“I hadn’t really thought about emergencies before, except when the weathermen would say a watch or warning was coming”, Blauvelt said. “But Nate’s training really taught me about why it was important for people with disabilities to be prepared. What if someone uses a wheelchair and can’t leave independently? What if someone cannot hear the news reports telling them to leave? There need to be plans, so that people with disabilities can help themselves.”

A “go bag” for everyone

GO Bags
Blauvelt especially liked Trull’s recommendation of a “go bag”; that is, an easily portable bag of items that you can just “grab and go” when an emergency hits.

“That was really fun and I learned a lot. We all made our own go bags during the training, and Nate helped us realize what should go in them. We put in things like a portable radio, non-perishable food and water, a list of any medicines we take, a phone with a cord, manual flashlights and batteries.”

Being prepared is helpful for all

Trull’s training covered other topics as well, like developing an emergency plan, and making a list of people who could help out in an emergency. Trull’s interest in emergencies and assisting others dates back to his time as a “Life Scout” in the Boy Scouts organization.

“Doing these emergency preparedness trainings really means a lot. I truly enjoy helping people, advocate for themselves, and increasing their knowledge when I’m done,” he said.

Blauvelt agreed, especially in her case. “I feel much better prepared for emergencies now. Nate’s presentation was very helpful, and I hope information like his will help many more people.”

Forum Offers People with Disabilities the Tools to Vote

Place to Vote with accessible signThis week I am pleased to introduce Rick Camara from the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) Northeast Region. Rick has been instrumental in forming a collaboration with Mass Advocates Standing Strong (MASS) and the Northeast Arc to present a Voting Forum,“Your Vote Counts” on August 9, 2012.

This week Rick shares his thoughts about voting and how efforts such as the forum will assist people with disabilities in the process.

The importance of every vote

The right to vote has always been important to me. Decisions that our country makes are decided by those of us who vote. Being a citizen in America gives me the basic right to vote and effect change. Voting gives me the right to state my opinion on an issue or support a candidate that I am passionate about.

Voting is also a way to tell elected officials what matters to you and to elect candidates that will support what you believe is important.

By voting, you can make your voice be heard.

More than 35 million Americans with disabilities are eligible to vote, but not all do. Just think; if everyone voted you could make a big change on who is elected and on policies that are important to people with disabilities. Voting is a very powerful human right. illustrating to all that you count and are valued.

Learning about the voting process

Voting Booth
At the Forum on August 9, 2012 you will hear from self advocates, legislators, and other citizens about the importance of voting. You will hear the How, When, Where, and Why of Voting, and we will even show you how simple it is to vote. You will hear from local legislators about how they are elected to represent you and how to get their support on issues that you value and are passionate about.

You will also meet two gentlemen, one a self advocate and the other a very concerned citizen, who will talk about how they received political support on something that was very important to them. They will share some of the details on how they were successful and how you could do the same.

Most importantly, at this Voting Forum you will have the opportunity to register to vote if you do not vote presently, as we will have a representative present from The League of Woman Voters to assist you in registering to vote.

For more information on the Forum contact Rick Camara at 781 641-7310.

And don’t forget, your opinion is important and every vote counts.

You have the right to vote banner

Voting: An Important Issue for Everyone

Vote ButtonHas it really been four years since our last Presidential election? Somehow I find that hard to believe but it’s true, and once again we need to start thinking about who we want to vote for.

Whether you are strongly committed to a specific candidate or not quite sure yet who you want in office, we all need to be registered to vote and start paying attention.

For people with disabilities, it is especially important to vote not only for the President, but also in state and local elections. A new official in office can make budget changes that effect services like job coaching or residential staff. Or maybe there are other issues that are really important to you like education or the environment.

Whatever the issue may be, you need to decide what is important to you in making the world a better place.

Choosing an issue

Sometimes choosing an issue that we are passionate about is overwhelming, as I learned when teaching at Suffolk last spring. I asked my business students in their first class to share with me what the most important issue was to them in the next Presidential election and I was surprised to see many of them actually needed suggestions.

Growing up in the 70s, this was a bit of a concern.

Now this was a bright, involved, 20- something group of students but what I realized is they had never been encouraged to really think about social issues that affect their lives. Maybe it is because the media chooses the issues they think are important for us, and we just follow along.

Getting ready to vote

Voting ballot
That’s where education and general discussion comes in. If you haven’t already, you can easily find out how to register to vote. The website, https://registertovote.org/forms/register/registration/massachusetts.html, in fact will give you the information you need.

But more important, you need to start thinking about the issues that mean something to you and talk about it. Talk to your family, friends, coworkers, anyone whose opinion you respect and make some decisions about how you want things to go in the world.

Then look at the candidates running for office, their websites can be very helpful, and decide who will make the world a better place, in your opinion.

This month, we will learn about a panel discussion being coordinated by DDS to help educate people with disabilities about how to vote, how to choose and why it is important. You will hear from Rick Camara who is coordinating the event and is passionate about getting people out to vote.

If we start doing our homework now, come November, we will be educated voters. And then maybe we will see changes in the world that we can be proud of.

Training Resources for Adults with Disabilities

Teacher with Adult LearnersThere are many trainings for people with disabilities both in state and around the country. The following include those recommended through discussions with self advocacy groups around the state.

Trainings in Massachusetts

Self Advocacy Leadership Series / Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council
Contact Sandy Houghton at 617-770-7676

Offers a ten week self-advocacy leadership program that provides education, training and support to people with developmental disabilities.

Assistive Technology Workshops / Easter Seals
Contact Jeff McAuslin at 774-641-6340,

Easter Seals assistive technology staff share their expertise through informative workshops, course offerings, iPad and product spotlights.

Healthy Sexuality / Relationship Training / DDS Central/West Region
Contact Pat Carney at 413-5083,

Offers sexuality training for people with intellectual/developmental disabilities in agencies, school systems and on an individual basis.

Mass Advocates Standing Strong (MASS)
To schedule a training session contact: 617-624-7549, mass.office.info@gmail.com

Offerings include “How to start a self advocacy group”; “Awareness and Action”, an abuse awareness and action program; and “Explore, Prepare, Act”, an employment training.

Training Resources in other states include curriculum, higher education, webinars and conferences.

Self Advocates Becoming Empowered, SABE
P.O. Box 30142
Kansas City, MO 64112

SABE is the self advocacy organization for the United States and their website includes resources for conferences, webinars and publications.

UNH Institute on Disability 
10 West Edge Drive
Suite 101
Durham, NH 03824
phone: 603-862-4320

This comprehensive website offers extensive resources, curriculum, workshops and webinars.

The Pennsylvania Training Partnership for People with Disabilities and their Families
1755 N 13th Street
Student Center
Room 411S
Philadelphia, PA 19122
Contact Carol Csaniz at 1-866-865-6170 or TTY: 1-215-204-1356

The Partnership provides state-wide training, technical assistance, mentoring and leadership development by and for people with disabilities.

Self Advocate Shares Experience as a Successful Trainer

Nora McShane, Guest Blogger

This week we introduce Nora McShane who is returning as a guest blogger to share her experience as a trainer. Nora has lived independently for the last six years and became involved with her self advocacy group  several years ago. She is currently the president of  the S.A.F.E. group at Minute Man Arc in Concord  and a member of their Board of Directors.

Becoming a trainer

Recently, I was asked by my mentor, Sue Crossley, to present a training about proper nutrition at an advocacy meeting in Worcester.  At first I felt a little anxious but I was also excited at the opportunity.

I was encouraged to give my own presentation entitled “Making Healthier Food Choices” as well as a separate training using an iPad. Sue came to my apartment and gave me training on how to use the iPad. The training made me feel more confident because I had learned a new skill.

Building confidence

When I got to the Worcester meeting I felt really excited. I was so honored to be able to teach my peers about nutrition and living a healthier lifestyle. There were around a dozen people from H.M.E.A. who were willing to hear me speak and be their trainer. Everyone watched and listened while I presented my own food plate demonstration. Everyone seemed eager to learn and ask questions.

After the training I felt very positive about my performance and I felt like I had accomplished a goal. I made positive strides toward being a more confident public speaker.

I’m glad I was asked to participate; it’s good to feel like I’ve been helpful. It feels good to share my knowledge with others.

Join us next week to hear about additional trainings being offered throughout the state by and for people with disabilities.

Health, Choice, and Responsibility: Self Advocates Take Control of Their Lives

Guest Blogger, Pam GreenThis week I am pleased to introduce our guest blogger, Pam Green, Shared Living Placement Coordinator and Self Advocacy Advisor for Horace Mann Educational Associates (H.M.E.A).

During my college experience, I first majored in Communication Disorders and then switched to Sports Management. Curiously enough, the first 15 years out of college I managed a Health Club then owned my own fitness studio. In 1994, I started working for H.M.E.A., a wonderful company that supports individuals with developmental disabilities.

It is here where I first learned about self-advocacy and the importance of opportunity for all.

Self Advocates choose to learn

Leaders Educate Advocacy Delegate Empower Respect Support (L.E.A.D.E.R.S.) GroupTwo years ago, with the support of H.M.E.A. I was offered the role of co-advisor for a local chapter of Mass Advocates Standing Strong, (M.A.S.S.). It soon became apparent that this group was eager to learn, explore, and take control of their lives.

While researching topics and trainings for this group, I came across the curriculum for My Health, My Choice and My Responsibility, developed by the Westchester Institute for Human Development in collaboration with the Self-Advocacy Association of New York State. Topics include developing a health plan, self-advocating at the doctor’s office, physical activity, nutrition, safety and cleanliness in the home, hygiene, and emotional health. The program is designed to be used directly by users with special needs to learn about healthy living.

Bingo! Finally, 33 years since college, I found a way to make BOTH of my majors relevant in this one training!

App offers self directed learning

What’s really wonderful about this training is Able Link’s cognitively accessible self-directed learning App for iPads. With monies received from a grant, we were able to purchase two iPads for the self-advocates to use during our sessions. We also incorporated the opportunity for each self-advocate to co-train with an advisor, adding to their learning experience.

Each session has been a wonderful collaboration of personal experience and sharing among the self-advocates. They listen to each other. The teach each other. They want to learn more.

If we truly want to support individuals with developmental disabilities, we must continue to offer individuals the opportunity to learn.

“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other”
John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Sexuality and People with Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities

picture of couple from shoulders up looking away

As a sexuality educator, I have been honored to meet individuals with developmental disabilities, their families and paid caregivers in a variety of circumstances. Many understand and embrace the idea of people with disabilities as sexual beings. Some struggle with the topic, and are not quite sure if they are ready to pursue additional information.

Regardless of their comfort level, the people I meet are seeking assistance to help their client, loved one or themselves understand and express their sexuality in safe, healthy and fun ways.

Defining Sexuality

In my experience, I have learned that having a broader understanding of what sexuality is provides everyone involved with information and tools to overcome hesitation and begin to proactively build supports for the person. This is the definition I use:

Sexuality is the integration of physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual aspects of an individual’s personality that express maleness and femaleness. It begins at birth and affects all the senses; it is not limited to genitals. Sexuality involves identity, reproduction, sensuality and intimacy.

From: Who Cares? A Handbook on Sex Education and Counseling Services for Disabled People. (Cornelius, D., Chipouras, S., Makas, E., Daniels, S. 1979. University Park Press, Baltimore.)

A definition that make sense

I like this definition for several reasons.

First, by saying that sexuality is both part of our personality and a lifelong part of who we are as human beings, it emphasizes the inherent nature of sexuality for all people.

Second, it lists four aspects of our personality that are integral to our sexuality: physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual – clarifying that the physical aspect is only one area of sexuality, not the entire deal.

Finally, it identifies four avenues through which we both develop and express sexuality: identity, reproduction, sensuality and intimacy.

Sexuality is a part of us all

It is important to have a good idea of what sexuality entails so that the thought of it doesn’t scare us away from providing education, support and opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) to fully develop this important aspect of their personality.

Sexuality is always a part of who we are and we, as family members and paid caregivers, must create healthy and safe ways for children and adults with I/DD to build their own ways of understanding and expressing sexuality.

Patricia Carney
Patricia Carney