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Looking Back, Looking Forward: 2010 Wrap Up

It’s been an amazing year to be a part of The Arc. The support of people like you has been crucial in furthering our mission to provide hope and opportunity for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Looking back on 2010, our 60th anniversary year, we are in awe of what you have helped us accomplish. And, looking forward to 2011, with your continued support, we are poised to accomplish even more.

The Arc works to foster respect and access for individuals with I/DD and their families, giving them the power to achieve full and satisfying lives as valued, contributing members of their communities. In 2010 alone we moved ever closer to our goals through:

  • The passage of Rosa’s Law, removing the derogatory term “mental retardation” from federal laws
  • The establishment of new protections guaranteeing people with disabilities can’t be denied health insurance or have their coverage ended
  • The creation of a new voluntary public insurance program for long-term services and supports to help people live in their own homes, not institutions
  • The development of new criminal penalities for hate crimes against people with disabilities
  • The launch of Walmart Foundation-funded School-to-Community Transition services in 50 U.S. communities

The Arc is determined to build on the progress of 2010 and foster change in 2011 through a huge initiative to provide a strong new brand identity under which all of our 730+ chapters can come together. You’ll find out more about that in your February 2011 E-newsletter just before the national launch of the new brand. In the meantime, we’ll be moving forward with Autism NOW, an information and resource center just established by a $1.87 million grant from the Administration on Developmental Disabilities. And, we’ll be putting to work a large grant from NISH to foster community-based employment opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Thanks for being a supporter of The Arc. We rely on the generosity and loyalty of friends like you!

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Film Company Seeks Families Living With Autism

Pie Town Productions, which has produced television shows for Discovery, TLC, and A&E, including the Emmy award-winning A Baby Story, is seeking families with multiple children diagnosed with Asperger’s and/or autism. They are planning a documentary-style series to shed light on misconceptions about the disorders.

The company would like to connect with families who have two or more children on the autism spectrum who are under 18 years of age and live at home. Focusing on a family with multiple children with ASD will allow the series to explore how it affects each individual differently. Their stated intent is to follow such a family and produce a thoughtful and respectful series leading to greater understanding and sensitivity about the disorders through the real-life perspectives of the family members featured.

You can find out more about Pie Town Productions at www.pietown.tv. They are currently producing Meat and Potatoes for the Food Network and the family documentary series Downsized for WE. If your family is interested, you can contact Lauri Lannan at 818-255-9277.

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Ann Cameron Caldwell Appointment Connects The Arc With Academia

The Arc’s very own Research and Innovations Officer, Ann Cameron Caldwell, Ph.D., was appointed as an affiliated research assistant professor at the University of Illinois’ Department of Disability and Human Development (DHD) in the College of Applied Health Sciences.

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Ann Cameron Caldwell talks about the Autism Now center at The Arc’s 2010 Convention.

This honorary appointment at Dr. Caldwell’s alma mater will not only allow her to pursue more formalized research relating to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities but will greatly enhance The Arc’s ability to generate new knowledge via research. And as Ann Cameron’s star rises in the academic community, the light will reflect well on The Arc and it’s new Autism NOW resource center, which she heads under a large federal grant.

The Department on Disability and Human Development is part of the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD), hosts many federally-funded programs including the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Aging with Developmental Disabilities. Also, it offers one of the premiere doctorate programs in Disability Studies.

“This is truly an honor, and I look forward to advancing efforts to better understand the needs of and solutions for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families,” stated an always-humble Caldwell, who remains fully engaged in her position at The Arc. Pat yourself on the back, Ann Cameron! This is something truly special.

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HollyRod Foundation Giving Away Free iPads to Children With Autism

Many people with iPads love all the fantastic things you can do with them. The folks at the HollyRod Foundation think children with autism should be no different.

The foundation, started by Holly Robinson Peete and Rodney Peete thirteen years ago to give a voice and a hand to those striving for quality of life when theirs has been diminished due to disease or disorders, is giving away free iPads to children with autism.

This giveaway isn’t just about handing out the latest and greatest gadget, but helping children with autism communicate with the world around them in a richer, more fulfilling way.

To find out more about the giveaway, and to download an application, visit the foundation’s webite. Don’t forget to spread the word about this to parents, self-advocates and anyone else who might be interested.

Here are the eligibility requirements:

  • The individual you are applying for must have a diagnosis on the autism spectrum (as identified in diagnosis report).
  • Reside in the United States of America .
  • Be non-verbal or minimally verbal (as identified in speech pathology report).
  • Be in financial need: Gross income not to exceed $35,000 single income family or $50,000 two-income family (as identified by documentation).
  • Have access to a computer and an iTunes account (some programs must be downloaded on a computer and transferred to the iPad due to size).
  • A professional on your team (i.e., speech pathologist, doctor, teacher) must be willing to take responsibility of the gift card that downloads the applications.
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Have You Experienced Disability-Based Discrimination at a QuikTrip Facility?

Do you know anyone that may have experienced disability-based discrimination at a QuikTrip facility and wants to file a claim?

In early July, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against QuikTrip Corporation under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), alleging that the company had discriminated against individuals with disabilities at QuikTrip gas stations, convenience stores, truck stops, and travel centers. The company owns and operates more than 550 such facilities throughout the Southeastern, Southwestern, Midwestern, and Southern regions of the United States.

A Consent Decree with the lawsuit, United States v. QuikTrip Corporation, was approved by the U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska Court on July 19, 2010 establishing a $1.5 million fund to compensate individuals who experienced discrimination at QuikTrip.

Help spread the word about the fund’s existence to anyone who may have experienced disability-based discrimination at a QuikTrip facility and wants to file a claim. The time period for filing a claim is approximately 180 days from July 19, 2010.

Payment eligibility and the amount of any payment will be made by the U.S. Department of Justice after all claims have been received.

Please visit this link for more information.

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When the White House Calls…

The White House imageWhitehouse.gov asked us to give you a heads up on a series of teleconference you might find interesting or useful. When the White House calls…we answer – so here’s your heads up.

Starting this Friday, December 3, the White House will begin hosting monthly teleconferences with updates on various disability issues. Also, these calls will be an opportunity for the Obama Administration to introduce people who work on disability policy in the federal government. We’d love to get comments from any of you who join in on the calls to find out what the hot button topics are and if they address concerns that are important to you.

Just for fun, you might also check out whitehouse.gov to see what’s going on. There is a treasure trove of information about the administration, our government and current issues ranging from civil rights to education to healthcare. You can tune into presidential addresses and even follow the Presidential blog, which recently posted an informative analysis on Medicare from the Wall Street Journal.

Call Information

Dial into the teleconference Friday, December 3 at 11:00 a.m. Eastern

(800) 230-1092

Title: Disability Call (use instead of code)

For live captioning, at time of call, log this website.

Image by Davidlat.
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Eliza’s Story: “I Am Not a Disability”

Every student wants to learn. Every artist wants to create. Every person wants an opportunity to be the best they can be. The administration at Southern Oregon University has denied Eliza Schaaf all three.

Eliza graduated high school this year, loves expressing her creativity and decided to take that to the next level in college by enrolling in an art course called Introduction to Ceramics.

“I have always loved learning and I like working with clay,” Eliza says. “I just wanted to take a course and learn the basics of pottery with other college students my age.”

However, university officials have shut her down. Just seven classes short of completing the requirements for the entire course, Eliza was removed from class. University administrators told Eliza, “At this time, Southern Oregon University does not offer a program specifically designed to provide specialized learning opportunities for students with intellectual disabilities. We have determined that even with the support of the accommodation(s) available at the post-secondary level, you are currently not otherwise qualified to meet the academic standards necessary to participate in this course.”

Eliza has Down syndrome and had attended previous classes with the help of a personal assistant. Eliza’s art projects were progressing nicely, and now all she wants to do is finish them.

In her words: “I have never thought of myself as being disabled. I am not a disability. I am a person who loves to learn.”

You’re totally missing the point. That’s what The Arc would like to say to the administration at Southern Oregon University.

It’s not just about what she might reasonably be expected to learn. It’s not just about how much she “gets” out of what’s going on. It’s not just about academic progress. It’s about allowing her to participate in the college experience to the best of her ability, alongside classmates who support her.

What Can You Do?

  • Spread the word via social media.
  • Tweet about it using the hash tag: #4eliza
  • Make a donation to The Arc so that we can help Eliza and cases like hers, directly.
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Did You Miss Convention? Here’s a Wrap-up

There are plenty of recent posts about the 2010 National Convention in Orlando on the blog, but if you missed any of the action, check out our Convention 2010 Wrap-up page. It has recaps of all of the major happenings at convention, plus a link to our Flickr gallery that includes tons of photos.

Thanks to everyone who made it to Orlando, and we hope to see you next year in Denver.

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Branding: What’s the Big Deal?

The Arc’s CEO, Peter Berns, was recently quoted in an excellent article about branding nonprofit organizations. The article offers nonprofits a new perspective on branding, taking it out of the realm of sales and marketing, and putting it squarely in the realm of relationship-building. It points out that a brand encompasses every aspect of an organization and therefore does not belong exclusively to the marketing team, but should be understood and promoted by everyone.

Branding is generally thought of in terms of selling and product or service-and therefore sometimes dismissed by nonprofit organizations who believe they’re not in the sales business. But a big part of selling a product is building some sort of relationship with the consumer, much the same way we build relationships with our constituents, both the people we serve and those who support us.

That is why branding is such a big deal in the nonprofit arena, and why The Arc is undertaking a huge initiative in 2011 to introduce a new brand identity to the world. Branding doesn’t end with a new logo, or new colors or a slick brochure or ad. Branding is carried on every day, by every staff member, volunteer and advocate every time they tell someone about The Arc, organize a workshop, host an event, and even just answer the phone. Read this article and start thinking about how you define and support our brand and what a difference that can make.

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Families Fight to Care For Children With Disabilities at Home

Check out this NPR story reported by Joe Shapiro about families fighting to care for their kids with disabilities at home. It’s a window into families caring for someone with disabilities and getting long-term health care. The story highlights The Arc’s position that people in the Medicaid program should have care at home and in the community, not in an institution or nursing home.

You’ll meet Olivia Welter, 20, of Illinois, who like countless thousands, is cared for at home and requires intensive 24-hour care. She gets life-saving medical care through a program provided by Illinois’ Medicaid program. But since it’s a program for children, she will no longer be eligible for that care when she reaches 21.

It’s expensive to care for Olivia at home – nurses cost about $220,000 a year – less than half the cost of what the state counts as the alternative — having her live in a hospital. Olivia’s parents, Tamara and John Welter, are grateful for what Illinois has done in the past but they figure they’ve saved the state millions of dollars by keeping her at home.