Owning an Accessible Home

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by Zachary Trautenberg  – zkylet@me.com

picture of Zachary Trautenberg in a motorized wheelchair in a home under constrution

Zachary Trautenberg

What is a home? A home is a place to call your own. It is a place where you feel safe and are most comfortable. Owning your home can give you a sense of security and the ability to create a sanctuary. It allows you to have control and freedom. If done right a person with a disability should feel the least disabled in their own home. It will take a lot of time and planning, but steps can be taken reduce limitations.

There are lots of great resources that can support a person with a disability who owns their own home. When it comes to taxes you can write off many of the modifications that are made for accessibility. In many counties you can also be exempt from paying property taxes. Organizations like Vocational Rehabilitation can assist with the cost of certain modifications. Blue Badge Homes, http://www.bluebadgehomes.com, is new website that acts as a marketplace for accessible real estate. Chances are you will never find exactly what you want. Just look for something with good bones and potential. The fun is getting to make it exactly the way you want it. Do not be afraid to get messy, get creative, and think way outside the box.

If you like this article and want to read more by Zachary Trautenberg, check out his blog Independent and Accessible Living at http://www.independentaccessibleliving.com.

Is there a right – to – die?

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By: Aaron Carter Bates, Esq.
On November 2, 2014, the following headline hit the newswires, Brittany Maynard, right-to-die advocate, ends her life.”  Mrs. Maynard’s story had captured the nation’s attention in the weeks
leading up to ending her life via assisted suicide, but why? What made Mrs. Maynard’s story more compelling than the countless others who lost the battle to terminal illness? Is there a “right-to-die”? Are advocates needed in the development of a recognized “right-to-die”?
My initial reaction to these types of heady issues are “better left to better minds,” but I think I have a decent grasp of both the impact of assisted suicide legislation on the disabled community and the importance of autonomy when facing two (2) separate illnesses designated as “terminal”: spinal muscular atrophy and leukemia.
Starting with the micro, while I greatly respect the medical profession, I personally learned a long time ago that their word is far from gospel. Medical prognostication honestly stopped being a real consideration for me as it pertained to my form of muscular dystrophy. I reached a point where virtually everything I was doing was never on the map when I started out, so why would I go back
to the “map” looking for a path through new challenges? This mindset eventually took hold when it came to being diagnosed with leukemia, a process that took weeks due to my doctors’ initial unwillingness to consider that someone with SMA could also have a relatively rare form of leukemia. After the inevitable shock wore off, it was again, looking for the next challenge, only something I can discover. Did I consider death? Sure. Did I consider available, or limits in, end-life options? Not really. I had so much to do, so much to live for. So, at this level, I just never reached the point that Mrs. Maynard did, and that’s fine.
However, in the weeks leading up to Mrs. Maynard’s death, something concerning began to happen: the discussion shifted to the lack of availability of assisted suicide options, which necessitated her move to Oregon and the need for autonomy in healthcare options. As a litigator and advocate for the disabled community, I am keenly aware of the problems of assisted suicide
legislation within our community and its frightening prospects. In Oregon, where Mrs. Maynard died, there is considerable evidence that people with mental illness and depression are given lethal drugs, despite the claims of proponents that these conditions disqualify a person. Even alleged legal safeguards are often undermined in Oregon. Finally, it is often the feeling of being a burden on family or caregivers that is the given reason for assisted
suicide in that state.
In reality, suicide is not illegal in and of itself. Where was the overwhelming need for “assistance” before this particular story? There is none. Further, there is a host of direct evidence supporting the reality that assisted suicide legislation disproportionately impacts the disabled. Accordingly, as a community, before we jump on the health autonomy train, let’s make sure we know where the train is taking us.
The Miami Foundation is having their 3rd annual Give Miami Day on November 20, 2014.  The event starts at midnight on November 20th and lasts for 24 hours. Disability Independence group will be a part of this amazing event.  Support DIG and join the movement.  http://givemiamiday.org/#npo/disability-independence-group-inc

Taiwanese Delegation Visit

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International Visitor Leadership Program

Taiwanese Delegation Visit

DIG was honored to spend the afternoon with Tarry Lee, Chun-Chieh Lin and Grace Chang.  They came to the United States from Taiwan to learn about protecting the rights of the disabled.  They were visitors to the United States under the auspices of the Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program.

      International Visitor Leadership Program with the Taiwanese Delegation with Tarry Lee, Grace Chang, and Chun Chieh Lin.

The Miami Foundation is having their 3rd annual Give Miami Day on November 20, 2014.  The event starts at midnight on November 20th and lasts for 24 hours. Disability Independence group will be a part of this amazing event.  Support DIG and join the movement.  http://givemiamiday.org/#npo/disability-independence-group-inc

Medical Model v. Social Model of Disability

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By: Aaron Carter Bates, Esq.

Headshot of Aaron Bates dressed in a suit and tie.

A big issue in the disability rights community is self-determination and representation within key community stakeholders. In the disability arena there are two models organizations follow: the medical model and social models of disability. An organization that ascribes to the medical model compares a disability to a fatal disease and places its inordinate resource priorities on seeking a cure for people with disabilities or “patients.” It starts from the assumption that those living with certain disabilities are not capable. These groups ground the disability experience in human physiology, viewing disability as a physical condition intrinsic to the individual which decreases a person’s quality of life. The top priority of this model is to focus on a “cure,” or, in the words of the WHO, make the person more “normal.”

In short, disability means illness or impairment under a medical model. Because it views its disabled constituency as too hopelessly afflicted by disability to make informed decisions, its constituency and leadership are comprised of those without the disability – including parents and supporters of the particular disability group – not the people who are actually disabled. This model has dominated the formulation of disability policy for most of the 20th century.

Organizations that primarily engage in advocacy ascribe to the social model of disability, which seeks to create a more inclusive society instead of putting the onus to change on individuals with disabilities.  For example, the National Federation of the Blind formulates this model of disability by framing the problem as the misconceptions surrounding blindness, not blindness itself.  These are organizations who presume the competence of people with disabilities and then set out to change the world to get the accommodations necessary to achieve equal treatment.

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, however, uses the social model and maximizes independence and control over one’s decisions regardless of how disabled someone is (including severe intellectual disability) using a “supported decision-making” model. “Nothing about us without us” was the rallying cry during negotiations/lobbying for this treaty.

http://www.disabilitytreaty.org/app/make-a-call?2&engagementId=38236

The Miami Foundation is having their 3rd annual Give Miami Day on November 20, 2014.  The event starts at midnight on November 20th and lasts for 24 hours. Disability Independence group will be a part of this amazing event.  Support DIG and join the movement.  http://givemiamiday.org/#npo/disability-independence-group-inc

Disability History and Awareness Weeks

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Disability History and Awareness Weeks

By: Rachel Goldstein

On June 13, 2008, in large part due to the advocacy efforts of Rachel Goldstein
Florida Youth Council, Governor Crist signed into law Senate Bill 856, creating section 1003.4205 of the Florida Statutes, entitled “Disability History and Awareness Instruction”. This law requires school districts to designate the first two weeks of October as “Disability History and Awareness Weeks” and gives the school districts discretion to determine how the history and awareness activities will be provided. The law promotes providing instruction for students in public schools to expand their knowledge, understanding, and awareness of individuals with disabilities, the history of disability, and the disability rights movement.

According to this law, the goals of disability history and awareness instruction include:

(a)  Better treatment for individuals with disabilities, especially for youth in school, and increased attention on preventing the bullying or harassment of students with disabilities.

(b)  Encouragement for individuals with disabilities to develop increased self-esteem, resulting in more individuals with disabilities gaining pride in being an individual with a disability, obtaining postsecondary education, entering the workforce, and contributing to their communities.

(c)  Reaffirmation of the local, state, and federal commitment to the full inclusion in society of, and the equal opportunity for, all individuals with disabilities.

This law is an important step in the promotion of further understanding and awareness of disability history, the disability rights movement and inclusion of persons with disabilities. By integrating disability history and awareness into the school curriculum a youthful audience is being reached, which will hopefully help to change societal attitudes and misconceptions about individuals with disabilities. It is my hope that the goals of Disability History and Awareness Instruction are reinforced throughout the school districts on a year-round basis in order to effectuate meaningful change.

The Miami Foundation is having their 3rd annual Give Miami Day on November 20, 2014.  The event starts at midnight on November 20th and lasts for 24 hours. Disability Independence group will be a part of this amazing event.  Support DIG and join the movement.  http://givemiamiday.org/#npo/disability-independence-group-inc