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Tune In to See The Arc at the White House!

Tomorrow, 150 leaders of The Arc from across the country will attend a White House Community Leaders Briefing just for The Arc. Over the course of the day, leaders of chapters of The Arc , including people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), will be briefed by high level White House and Administration officials on topics ranging from Medicaid to education to community living for people with I/DD, and have the chance to engage with and ask questions of these officials.

You are invited to tune in online. The opening session of the day will be streamed live, courtesy of The White House live feed at www.whitehouse.gov/live from 8:00 to 11:00 a.m. ET. Participants will also be live-tweeting from the event so feel free to join in by following the #AtTheWH hashtag on Twitter.

You can also share your thoughts by tweeting at @TheArcUS or leaving a comment on our Facebook page.

We hope you are able to tune in and watch this exciting opportunity for The Arc!

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2011: The Year in Review

The Arc has achieved great things in 2011. We had a busy year in 2010 too. With your support, we:

Thank you for your continued support of us in everything we do. We’re looking forward to what we can do together in 2012.

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Shooting Beauty

I was approached to preview a new documentary film about an aspiring fashion photographer whose career takes an unexpected turn when she discovers a hidden world of beauty at a day program for people living with significant disabilities. Shot over a decade, the film puts you in the shoes of Courtney Bent as she overcomes her own prejudices when she begins adapting cameras for the individuals at the program, providing them the opportunity to take pictures and videos from their own unique perch (many of them are in wheel chairs).  Making video and photography accessible for these new photographers to document their world and their interpretation of “beauty” enables us to see a whole different kind of documentary.

Shooting Beauty presents an opportunity to see beauty from a different vantage point. As an organization focused on people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, The Arc appreciates the respectful and sensitive way the filmmakers reflected Courtney’s transformation while showcasing the characters’ growing artistic perspectives. It’s an excellent depiction of what it means to be able to fully participate in one’s community through artistic expression.  I enjoyed watching the film come together and think you will too.

There’s some buzz building up about this film, with the Girl Scouts of the Nation’s Capital launching a patch program for it and Best Buddies International officially partnering with the producers to screen it. And, now the producers have officially launched a website dedicated to promoting the film and it’s many programs.

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Blue Beanie Day 2011: Celebrating Web Standards

Today, The Arc’s web team donned blue beanies. Kevin Wenzel (The Arc’s web producer) and I got a few strange looks, even after he sent out a staff-wide email explaining why web designers and developers everywhere put on blue beanies today.

Colleagues keep asking us and we’ll keep telling them why. We support web standards and the hats signify that we’ll follow that set of best practices for standardized, accessible, universal web design and development.

In the past 18 months, The Arc has made a lot of progress toward doing a better job embracing web standards. We redesigned our main website, rolled out three new blogs and launched two additional sites – keeping web standards in mind from the very beginning. Right now, we’re working hard toward making small tweaks on the back-end of our sites that will make a big difference when it comes to web standards and web accessibility. We’ll share more on that as we move forward.

In the meantime, at least you know why web staffers everywhere are wearing blue beanies, and why Kevin and I look a bit like lumberjacks today.

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An Update on Eliza: “Why Not Me?”

Readers of The Arc’s blog might remember Eliza Schaaf, the college student with Down syndrome who was removed from her art class at Southern Oregon University just a few hours shy of completion last year because school officials determined that she did not meet academic standards for participating.

Eliza, her family, fellow students and others in the community petitioned the school to allow her to finish the course, but ultimately they declined. Eliza’s family started a blog for her detailing her experiences and allowing others to express support for her. Throughout the spring and summer of 2011, Eliza asked the school to address the issue of her exclusion and garnered support in the form of a petition signed by all of her classmates and a resolution passed by the school’s Student Senate. Although the school eventually did revise some of their policies, they would not respond to Eliza directly.

Although Eliza was disappointed by the outcome of that situation, she has moved on to bigger and better things! Students from Chapman University filmed a documentary about Eliza’s experiences. The film, called “Hold My Hand,” is currently screening at film festivals across the country and will be aired on Southern California Public Television. And, now Eliza is on a speaking tour advocating for inclusion at colleges and universities. In addition to being invited to participate on the keynote panel at the State of the Art Conference on Postsecondary Education and Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities at George Mason University in Virginia, she has conducted workshops with SOU and Chapman University Students and it taking her “Why Not Me?” presentation to a variety of conferences in hopes of creating change in the way postsecondary educational institutions work to include students with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

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Nationwide Emergency Alert Test May Not Have Visual Disclaimer

On November 9, 2011, at 2:00 p.m. ET, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will conduct the first-ever nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) consisting of an announcement on every TV and radio channel. This system allows FEMA to communicate important information to citizens in the event of a national emergency. The November 9 alter is ONLY a test of the notification system and no action is required.

However, some people watching cable television may receive only an audio – not visual – notice that this is only a test due to technical limitations of the system. People with hearing impairments will see what appears to be an actual emergency alert but will not see any text on the screen indicating that this is only a test. If this applies to you, don’t be alarmed if you see what appears to be an emergency alert on November 9, it is only a test and no action is required.

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The Arc in the News!

The Arc has been getting great news coverage both nationally and locally in the last few weeks. We wanted to share with you some of the most exciting stories.

  • New York Daily News – The Arc responds to Congresswoman Bachmann’s comments about vaccinations causing “mental retardation”.
  • msnbc.com – CEO of the Arc Peter V. Berns discusses the use of the R-word, and why it is unacceptable. This is also in response to Congresswoman Bachmann’s comments, but focuses more on the use of derogatory language to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities as opposed to the lack of evidence for her claims about vaccinations.
  • NBC 9 News in Denver – A great piece about The Arc’s 60th Convention in Denver including an interview with CEO of The Arc, Peter V. Berns, footage of the convention, and an interview with an all-star volunteer and self-advocate Ann Rossart.
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The Arc: Featured in TIME Magazine

TIME Magazine September 12 Cover

Cover image courtesy of TIME Magazine

Did you happen to read the September 12, 2011 issue of TIME Magazine? If so, you and 19 million readers nationwide would have seen a two-page spread all about The Arc. Missed it? Don’t worry, we have it here! The feature focuses on the incredible work The Arc and our network of 700+ Chapters does as illustrated through the stories of some of the people we serve.

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New Medicaid Resource Available From The Arc

The Arc is excited to announce a valuable new resource available to help guide people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families through the complexities of Medicaid benefits, services and supports. The Medicaid Reference Desk offers detailed, state-by-state information about Medicaid benefits, a glossary of terms, answers to frequently asked questions, person-centered planning resources and a blog from The Arc’s training specialist about issues related to Medicaid, self-advocacy and person-centered planning.

Medicaid is the largest source of financing for disabilities services in the United States.  For people with disabilities and for those who provide their care, Medicaid serves as a valuable safety net.  Often the only source of financial assistance for health care, Medicaid plays a critical role for people with disabilities in providing coverage and access to care. Medicaid is, however, extremely complicated.  At least half of the funds for Medicaid programs come from the Federal government with the remainder coming from state funds.  Federal law contains detailed requirements and limitations on eligibility, services, and financing. But, state law varies widely.

This project was made possible by a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration on Developmental Disabilities (Grant No. 90 DN0215). We encourage you to explore the Medicaid Reference Desk via www.thedesk.info.

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We’ve Moved! Please Make Note of the New Address

Late last week, we began the process of moving our office. We only moved a few blocks over (from our old office in downtown Washington, DC), but it was still a monstrous task. Thank you for being patient as we went through the process, and experienced a bit of downtime for our website and email.

Everything is business as usual now. However, please make note of our new address. It is:

1825 K Street NW, Suite 1200, Washington, DC 20006

All of our phone numbers, fax numbers and email addresses remain the same.

The architects and construction crew have worked the past few days on putting the final touches on our new space. We’ll post some photos as soon as we can.

Thanks again for your patience!