CDR Forward Together…News and Noteworthy

A publication of the Center for Disability Rights   March 2013

Helping Each Other Succeed – CDR Support Group Success

It seems that the old adage “One for all and all for one” offers the apt theme for the CDR support group Helping Each Other Succeed (HEOS)

HEOS was originally started by Roger Kamm as the Gaylord Disability Support Group. In 2001, it was moved to CDR sponsorship and renamed Helping Each Other Succeed, with Kamm as facilitator.  It is a group open to people of all ages and all types of disabilities. Kamm believes that “the value of the group is as good as its members… and their support has been great.”

The group has a mixture of programs such as featured speakers, group discussions, and social activities. One example is the group’s annual autumn trip to the Big E last September.

HEOS member Denise Pragano, disabled since 1999, has attended meetings since its inception. As she notes: “Being able to talk about my disability really helped me get through the early rough years. I could talk about anything and knew it would not go any further than that room.”

The group has met at CDR’s Conference Center for 11 years, but now due to office space consolidations, is searching for temporary meeting space until CDR acquires additional and suitable space.

The benefits of group support by and from each other is echoed by Joe Stanford, “Sometimes that you have problems similar to others and being around others with similar problems seem to offer solutions that anyone not in the group would even think of…”

Strength in numbers, as another old saying suggests, typifies the success of HEOS. Denise sums up the value of the value of supporting one another in tackling their daily obstacles of living with a disability: “All of this helped me get over many hurdles…I realized I was not alone”

People: CDR Member reiterates need for CIL funding

By Fred Frank

When I read the executive director’s column in the last issue of Forward Together about persons with disabilities, I have a few thoughts regarding the future of independent living. Given the uncertainty of future state funding for Centers of Independent Living (CILs), I have concerns for their future.

Let me tell you a little bit about myself before and after my disability. After college I eventually became and international executive recruiter, I was on top of the world with no knowledge of or care about disabilities. But that was about to change when…I came down with a bacterial infection that robbed me of my fine motor sensors

Years of wheelchair use and of rehabilitation followed. Yet the desire to live as independently as before prompted an awareness of disabling conditions and the barriers that stymie independence for far too many people. The events following my recuperation have allowed me to further learn and utilize a newfound awareness of disabilities, such as:

  • Being an employee of a CIL for many years, including as a housing  coordinator for the Money Follows the Person rebalancing project.
  • Attending the signing of the A.D.A. in Washington D.C. in 1990
  • Was VP of  the CT Association of Centers for Independent Living
  • Served on many boards of organizations involved with disability issues

Over twenty-five years, I arranged many groundbreaking advances for people with disabilities. One incident that stands out was from when I was Regional Disability Program Navigator for Fairfield County and the Valley I was leaving my doctors office riding down the elevator, when a man standing next to me said, “Hey, aren’t you Fred Frank?” I want to shake your hand for finding employment for my disabled son, he has autism.” I have many more stories like this.

In the infinitesimal wisdom of legislators, and various State Agencies, should the State reduce further or eliminate CIL funding, it will adversely affect very many consumers who rely on the services the enable independent living provided by the state CILs that the state could or even would supply.

I became involved in the disability movement to assist disabled persons in fully reaching their potential. If you want to assist, please contact CDR.

Executive Director – What does “Independent Living” mean to you? By Marc Anthony Gallucci Esq., CDR

Over the years, I have learned that Independent Living or IL means different things to different people.  In fact, there are several official definitions of it from the one found in Section 704 of the Rehabilitation Act (where Centers for Independent Living are defined), to the one found in the Older Americans Act, to the one defined by the American Association of Realtors.

But for most of the folks connected with our IL movement, IL is personal. It is what they encounter and experience every day – or what they wish for every day. In my opinion, IL comes down to one fundamental thing, self-autonomy, or the feeling that what happens to oneself is largely in ones own self control.

We all have experienced the feeling of not being in control at least some of the time in our lives. Certainly our individual lives can be affected by the environment, the people with whom we share our life, and the circumstances in which we find ourselves. Not everything is within our control.

Self-autonomy is a matter of the degree of self-control that we want or feel that we ought to have.  This is why some folks are happy even though they have little control over what happens to them, and other people who exercise a relatively higher degree of control are not as content.  But all things being equal, people are happier, healthier, and live longer when they feel that that are largely in control of what happens to them.

Some folks see IL as a luxury that they cannot comprehend.  They live each day in survival mode just trying to stay alive, or out of pain, or out of the hospital.  Some are struggling financially and are relieved just to make it another month without being on the streets. Some are in crisis.

Many of the folks in these types of situations are not very good candidates for IL – at least not at the moment. But for most folks with disabilities, IL is certainly within their grasp.

So what prevents folks with disabilities from pursuing – truly pursuing – their hopes and dreams and seizing control over their lives? There are probably many factors, but lack of knowledge, fear of risk, and fear of failure are probably the most prevalent.  As much as people like to complain about their lives, they are too afraid to change things. And many folks, especially those who have grown up with disabilities, simply have never been given the chance to experience making a decision by themselves or taking an action independently.

This is, fundamentally, the reason for the existence of Centers for Independent Living like CDR. I think we sometimes forget this while we are busy designing, developing, and delivering services. Our entire system of funding and accountability is set up to measure how many units of service we are providing, or how many consumers obtain access to some benefit, or how many consumers get a job.

The ultimate test of our efforts and endeavors should be this: are we increasing our consumers’ control over their own lives?  Are we empowering people to take and exercise control? Are people happy with their lives?  Indeed, ask yourself this question – are you happy with your life?

May you always have good health, a happy heart, and inspiring dreams for the future.

From the past: Handicapped Are Globetrotters Too Editor’s note: This article was published for a TWA employee newsletter November 12, 1973. Disregard the term ‘handicapped’ in common use back then…instead focus on the common sense attitudes that all travelers, disabled or not, be treated with dignity always, in any era…“I have traveled extensively by air. I have encountered greater courtesy, more intelligent assistance and generally better treatment both in the air and in air terminals than anywhere else I have been since becoming blind”.In short, Elmer Beckett, a blind executive of Goodwill Industries, doesn’t think you can legislate common sense, tact and personal consideration in handling the physically handicapped traveler. He stressed this point before an FAA conference at which representatives of the airlines and of associations of handicapped people exchanged views on suggested government regulations pertaining to carriage of handicapped passengers.Noting that the comfort, speed and convenience of air travel has provided all but the most seriously handicapped the means to go anywhere in the world Mr. Beckett spoke out against any “demeaning” rules or regulations which could inhibit this independence. “I think establishing a criterion as to functional disabilities would be a grave error and work to the disadvantage of all handicapped persons” he said. “People with similar disabilities may function in entirely different levels of independence in any given situation,” he added.  Participants stressed that within their physical limitations handicapped persons function as normally as anyone else, and that their temperaments are as varied as other airline passengers.Airlines historically have provided certain special services to handicapped travelers. One example, there is a wheelchair to carry a paralyzed person onto the plane arid to his seat, as a conventional wheelchair is too wide to fit on board.

Most rehabilitated handicapped traveling by air do not require or expect any special attention which would disrupt routine duties or detract from the safety and comfort of their fellow passengers.

Special acknowledgement for use of this public domain article is made to the State Historical Society of Missouri Research Center at University of Missouri-Kansas City

The Air Carrier Access Act – Enables travel by air to all

The preceding 1973 article from seemed to portend future legislation to codify disabled air travel without discrimination. The Air Carrier Access Act of 1986 was passed by the U.S. Congress as a response to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and signed into law in 1990.

As noted by the USDOT: The Air Carrier Access Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in air travel.  The ACAA assists disabled travelers in travel planning, such as:

  • Carriers cannot deny the carriage of a power wheelchair and to have an onboard wheelchair
  • Carriers must permit service animals to accompany the disabled passengers at their assigned seat.

See more at the .pdf publication A Guide to the Air Carrier Access Act

Notes from My Ride

By Brandon Foster, GNHTD

Based upon consumer input at ADA Advisory Committee Meetings, Greater New Haven Transit District is purchasing software to greatly improve those processes.

The supplier is RouteMatch Software, and the installation of the improved hardware and software will begin by the second quarter of 2013. Enhancements for our riders will include the following:

  • Reminder telephone calls the night before a scheduled ride, and calls the riders when a vehicle is a predetermined time or distance from a pickup location
  • More flexibility when requesting a missed return ride due to real time dispatching
  • The ability to check on and cancel rides without customer service assistance.

GNHTD will keep everyone informed of the ongoing progress of the project in during ADA meetings and in future issues of Forward Together.

We have also instituted an Inclement Weather Notification line for the convenience of our riders. During severe inclement weather riders can check on the status of the agency by calling; 203-288-6282 and selecting Option 8. This is similar to the current Event Line (Option 6). GNHTD will continue to provide information to CDR members through this newsletter.

Hailing Accessible Taxis: Connecticut – Accessible…NYC?

In Connecticut, those needing wheelchair-accessible taxi are ahead of many other areas. The two largest cab companies in the state offer accessible and environmentally friendly taxis in their fleets…

New natural gas cabs rolling out for wheelchair users: Metro Taxi of West Haven operates wheelchair-friendly taxis that run on compressed natural gas. Rides are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Link to the New Haven Register article

Not so much so in New York City. There have been many impediments to the deployment of accessible taxis due to interference of city officials. The following articles from the New York Daily News give us a glimpse into some of these problems:

1) Law requiring yellow taxicabs be wheelchair accessible: Only 232 cabs in the fleet of more than 13,000 yellow taxis in the City are wheelchair-accessible. The city plans to expand the fleet with the addition of 2,000 accessible taxis. However the Bloomberg administration has said converting the whole fleet isn’t necessary to provide adequate service.

2) NYC choice of van for Taxi of Tomorrow violates federal disabilities law: The City Controller rejected the contract that the Mayor Bloomberg signed with Nissan for 13,000 vans for use as NYC taxis. However, these are not wheelchair-accessible, and vans used as taxis must be so under the ADA. Nissan says a third party vendor can retrofit its vans for access – far better would be to open the market to factory-built wheelchair-accessible vehicles produced by any accredited manufacturer. Links:

New York Daily News article 1

New York Daily News Article 2

Brain Injury Alliance CT (BIAC) 2013 Annual ConferenceThis BIAC event will be held on Friday, March 1at the Hilton Hartford, 315 Trumbull St. Registration will begin at 7:30 AM, the program starting at 8:30.Hundreds of medical professionals, educators, and service providers willparticipate in a day of discussion and education.This conference is designed for personnel such as direct care workers, educators, neurologists, occupational and physical therapists and other service providers.Workshops will discuss using baseline testing in concussion management, accessing community services within the Veterans Administration, CT Healthcare System and improving school outcomes after TBI. This conference includes the following national experts:Matthew Pennington, A veteran, brain injury survivor and star of the A Marine’s Guide to Fishing

Steven Flanagan, MD, Chairman, Rehabilitation Medicine at NYU; Medical Director, Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine

Ann Glang, PhD, Center on Brain Injury Research and Training Research Scientist, Oregon Center for Applied Sciences

Lunch will be provided. For more information, contact BIAC by phone at 860-219-0291, or e-mail at [email protected] Monday-Thursday: 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM, Friday: 8:30 AM to 2:00 PM

The Center for Disability Rights is a consumer-controlled, community based organization – a single point of access to resources for all people regardless of the nature or type of disability


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