Wednesday, April 08, 2015

The Deaf Community and Mental Health Services - A Report


"Another issue that causes problems for individuals who are deaf and need the mental health system is the education they have received from childhood. The education of children who are deaf is seriously lacking. Although people who are deaf perform normally on I.Q. tests, the average reading levelofhigh school graduates who are deaf is below the fourth grade. Again, communication is an issue: Teachers working with students who are deaf often lack the sign language proficiency and specialized training required to communicate adequately. Strategies that could solve this problem are being considered. Public mental health systems, clinicians, and other public mental health professionals, however, need to be aware of the significant English-language deficits and concomitant generalinformation gaps among many mental health consumers who became deaf before learning a language (prelingual deafness)."

http://www.nasmhpd.org/docs/publications/archiveDocs/2002/Deaf.PDF

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Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Senator Paul's Views on Discrimination


Senator Paul, in an interview with Rachel Maddow, puts forth his opposition to the federal government banning discrimination by private businesses. If this view were accepted, title III of the ADA would be repealed. He announced today that he is running for President. 
Marc 

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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Center for Independent Living of South Florida Advocacy Blog: Update on Medicaid Managed Care Concerns

Center for Independent Living of South Florida Advocacy Blog: Update on Medicaid Managed Care Concerns: March 18, 2015: The CILSF is talking with various Managed Care companies in South Florida (Region 11- Miami Dade and the Keys) to educate ...

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Update on Medicaid Managed Care Concerns

March 18, 2015:

The CILSF is talking with various Managed Care companies in South Florida (Region 11- Miami Dade and the Keys) to educate them about problems experienced by enrollees with disabilities. Calls to a variety of doctors, dentists, and pharmacists, across all Managed Care companies, reveals that ADA discrimination is rampant.

AHCA, the state agency responsible for oversight over Managed Care, has begun distancing itself from the problem, no longer responding to complaints or calls, and engaging in a cursory "investigation" of complaints I filed, "investigations" they closed after minimal effort and little actual investigation. I have been told only to talk to their General Counsel's Office, which no longer responds to calls or emails. My invitation to AHCA to have them participate, by phone, in an upcoming discussion with the disability community, on Friday, April 3rd, from 10-12 noon, was declined. I am hopeful that they change their position, and can spare at least one employee from the thousands that work for them, to hear what is happening to enrollees with disabilities that the state of Florida forced into enrolling in Medicaid Managed Care.  We have also invited Managed Care companies, and hope they will participate as well. We'll see.

I am in discussions with several Managed Care companies, and want to hear from enrollees with disabilities about their experiences so that we can try to fix the problem.

If you want to participate in the discussion on Friday, April 3rd, call 1-866-730-7514.  Enter PIN number 938460.

Marc



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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Do Your Notices of Upcoming Public Meetings Exclude People with Disabilities?

Do Your Notices of Upcoming Public Meetings Exclude People with Disabilities?

When you are preparing your next notice of a public meeting, consider whether your invitation or flyer unintentionally excludes people with disabilities. How would a person who needs a sign language interpreter or printed material that you are handing out in Braille get these accommodations if you don't tell them how to ask for them?

"If you need accommodations to participate, call ______ at ______ at least _____ days in advance of the meeting to make your request" is all it takes.

If you don't provide an opportunity to make the request, plan to pay the price when someone needing the accommodation shows up and you can't provide the service. You have excluded them - you have discriminated against them on the basis of disability, in violation of the ADA. If you are a recipient of federal financial assistance, you have also violated Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. and may lose your federal funding.

If you post the announcement, and get no requests, then you are off the hook. You don't have to provide the accommodations absent the request. But without the announcement, you are taking a very major, and unnecessary, risk.

Marc



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A Note of Support For Sharen Browning and the Power Group

The Center for Independent Living of North Central Florida recently fired a well respected staff member, Sharen Browning, who ran a group called the Power Group, and then disbanded the Power Group, both without notice, without explanation, and without discussion. In doing so, the CIL leadership caused many to question why. The You Tube video that has been posted about this, located at http://youtu.be/Nf-ohBw7q0Q, also raises serious concerns about why the Director found it appropriate to seek to have Ms. Browning's sister arrested when she came to the CIl to help her sister. Take a look at the video, and see what you think.

I don't know the folks at the CIL of North Central Florida, and imagine that the situation there is difficult and divisive.  I'm sure the Board of Directors have some hard decisions ahead of them, and one has to wonder how this will affect how funders see the Center. The sudden and unexplained firing of Sharen Browning, and the decision to seek to have her sister arrested when she came by to help her sister pack and to provide support mystifies and outrages many. And it should.

The video posted on You Tube causes the viewer to wonder why this happened, and to wonder what effect the decision to not only terminate Sharen but to also eliminate the program she ran, without discussion, will have on the consumers who relied on the program, and on the reputation of the CIL.

I work at a CIL, and I know how important the programs CILs offer to the community are. I have seen, firsthand, how CIL staff relate to consumers, peer to peer, and how empowering it is to have a staff person with a disability help a consumer with a disability. There is an awareness that when one has a disability, one sees the world differently from those who are not disabled, and that one experiences the world quite differently. I have seen it in my advocacy work, and I have seen it when I watch my colleagues work with our consumers. There is no question that the Power Group that Sharen dedicated her life to on behalf of the CIL of North Central Florida became a community unto itself, and brought its members self-esteem, empowerment, and pride. The Power Group allowed its members to value themselves, to trust in themselves, and to empower and trust in one another. Firing Sharen, and closing the group, without discussion and without explanation, is not merely shocking, it is a betrayal of the ideals of what Centers for Independent a Living stand for. There is a saying in the disability community - Nothing About Us, Without Us. Firing a disability leader, and disbanding her life's work, without notice, without explanation, and without respect, makes a mockery of that ideal.

The Director of the Center not only owes an apology to Sharen and to the members of the Power Group, she owes an apology and an explanation to the disability community at large.  And she should, at the very least. allow the Power Group to continue. This will not go away quietly, nor should it.

Marc

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