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Employment Stories Wanted!

The Alliance for Full Participation, an organization of which The Arc is proud to be a founder and partner to help increase employment opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), is seeking short videos telling stories of integrated employment for people with I/DD. These can be success stories, job searches in progress, or stories about a job that didn’t work out. We are looking for videos and stories from people with intellectual and developmental disabilities; employers; direct support providers; family members; co-workers—all those who have an employment story to share.

How to Share

Keep it simple, short (about 2 minutes) and to the point. Whether you’re using an expensive camera, a smart phone, or something in between to shoot your story, try to keep the camera steady and balanced. Use a tripod if you can. If you don’t have an external microphone, try to have the speaker close to the camera so the audio will be clear.

Include visuals that show your story—you working at your job, looking for a job, the people you work with, etc. Try not to make a “talking head” video that only shows one person talking. Be creative, and most importantly, HAVE FUN! This is your chance to share your story with hundreds, maybe even thousands, of viewers.

A lot of time people want to share a lot of facts in their videos, like where they work, how long they’ve been working somewhere, how many hours they work, and the exact tasks they do. Facts are important, but feelings help make a good story. Make sure you are telling how the employment experience makes you feel.

Once you have created your video, create an email. In the email message, include your name and email address. If you want, you can also include a brief description of the video. Attach your video file to the email and send to: df6w0q165cv4@m.youtube.com

This will automatically upload the video to the AFP YouTube Channel.

NOTE: YOUR VIDEO FILE SIZE MUST BE SMALLER THAN 25MB.

If the video file size is bigger than 25MB, contact Carol Walsh cwalsh@allianceforfullparticipation.org and she will coordinate with you.

The AFP YouTube channel is located at: http://www.youtube.com/user/RealJobsAFP

A national team of reviewers will watch your video and choose several to premiere during the plenary session at the Alliance for Full Participation Summit: Real Jobs—It’s Everyone’s Business, November 17-19, 2011 at the Gaylord National Harbor, in Washington, DC. We will also create a compilation of all the submissions to show at the exhibit hall at the conference. If you would like to attend the Summit, register now here. Early bird rates end July 31.

If you have any questions, please contact Carol Walsh at cwalsh@allianceforfullparticipation.org, www.allianceforfullparticipation.org. Please note The Arc is not collecting these videos and cannot answer any questions. We are helping to spread the word as part of our partnership with the Alliance for Full Participation, so please direct any questions or comments to them. Thanks!

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Let the Voting Begin!

Who will be the winner of The Arc’s Achieve with us contest? That’s up to you.

For the past month, we have been receiving entries from people with intellectual and developmental disabilities competing for a chance to win a trip to Washington, D.C. and have their story of achievement featured in ABILITY Magazine. We’re narrowing the field to a set of 10 finalists – that’s where you come in. Visit www.facebook.com/thearcus between July 15 and August 15 and vote for your favorite story. The Arc will choose the grand prize winner from among the top 10 vote getters.

If you or someone you know entered, plan to vote before August 15. If you don’t have a favorite yet, view all of the inspiring stories of achievement on our Facebook fan page and tell us who should win with your vote! There are 100+ amazing stories and every one of them deserves to be checked out. It may be really difficult to decide a winner. You can get the full contest details and rules at www.facebook.com/thearcus and be sure to encourage everyone you know to vote! Thanks for helping to make this contest a success.

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Reflections on Tracy Morgan, Other Celebrities and the “R-Word”

This week, when The Arc staff learned of Tracy Morgan’s comments in a recent comedy show in New York City, we knew we had to respond. Not because we are against free speech – as an organization dedicated to protecting the rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, we wholeheartedly support freedom of speech and other constitutional rights. We responded because we don’t like to see hateful, hurtful speech aimed at people with disabilities.

Tracy Morgan is a very successful comedian who made a joke that he thought was funny in the moment, and certainly anyone has a right to laugh at whatever jokes he or she wants. Some people think we’re being oversensitive, and that’s understandable. Mr. Morgan has more leeway because of what he does – making people laugh – and that means he pushes boundaries and social norms. We can appreciate that, but what we don’t think he realized is that the language he used is hurtful to many, many people. And it’s The Arc’s job to stand up for them.

This isn’t about free speech, defining comedy or free publicity as much as it’s about making sure society treats people with disabilities with respect.

In the last year, we’ve called out NBA star LeBron James and former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel for using similar language. And each time, it has sparked a lively conversation about free speech and human rights. We’re thrilled to be a part of this debate because these public figures (and everyone else in the conversation) can share with all of society why the “r-word” and other derogatory terms directed at people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are not okay.

People have a right to express themselves. And we at The Arc can take a joke, but we are compelled to stand up when it crosses into territory that hurts the people we represent.

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Serious Star Power Coming to The Arc’s National Convention

You might need sunglasses to attend The Arc’s National Convention in Denver this September. We’re bringing serious star power to the stage with major wattage coming from Hollywood and the intellectual and developmental disability (I/DD) sector.

First up is Dr. David Braddock, a major star in the I/DD community as head of the Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities and the driving force behind the “State of the States in Developmental Disabilities” which offers insight into crucial public policy issues. Dr. Braddock has just updated this vital report for 2011 and will share his thoughts on where we stand on disability policy today.

Plus, Lauren Potter from the hit TV show GLEE will be on hand to present this year’s Image and Inclusion Award for accurate and positive portrayals of I/DD in the media. Lauren, who has Down syndrome, is not only a talented actress but has recently become a very visible spokesperson for the I/DD movement. She filmed a compelling PSA for Spread the Word to End the Word campaign against the “r” word with her co-star Jane Lynch and has spoken out against bullying. She was recently in Washington, D.C. with The Arc to help us publicly release the results of the landmark FINDS (Family and Individual Needs for Disability Support) survey and taped a special message to close our newest PSA currently airing across the country.

Finally, Convention attendees will be treated to a keynote presentation from best-selling author and noted animal scientist Dr. Temple Grandin, who has autism. Dr. Grandin’s life and work was the subject of a popular 2010 HBO biopic starring Clarie Danes. The film was highly-praised and recognized with Emmys, Golden Globes and a Peabody Award.

As you can see, it’s an all-star lineup so grab your autograph book and make your reservations now for The Arc’s National Convention September 16-19 in Denver, CO.

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Achieve With Us and See Yourself in ABILITY Magazine

The Arc recently kicked off our Achieve with us contest inviting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to share their inspirational stories of achievement for a chance to win a trip to Washington, D.C. Now, we’ve sweetened the pot by partnering with ABILITY Magazine, the leading source for information on health, disability and human potential. This award-winning publication has provided new insights into individual levels of ability for nearly 20 years and they want to feature the winning entry in The Arc’s Achieve with us contest in an upcoming issue.

So if you or someone you know has a winning story to share, visit www.facebook.com/thearcus and enter today for your chance to win a 2-day, expenses paid trip to the nation’s capital and be featured in the pages of ABILITY Magazine. Plus, they’re kicking in a free one-year subscription to the magazine for the winner along with 25 complimentary copies of an issue to share with friends and family. Enter NOW until July 14 then encourage everyone you know to vote for your story between July 15 and August 15 to win! Who knows, your smiling face could end up in the pages of ABILITY Magazine!

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Groundbreaking FINDS Report Picked up by National Media

The Arc recently released the results of its groundbreaking Families and Individual Needs for Disability Support (FINDS) survey and media across the country have been covering the startling statistics. A major goal for this project has been to raise awareness of The Arc and the urgent unmet needs of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), and the media has responded by reporting findings from the survey to the general public and highlighting the work of local chapters.

We know that while we have come a long way in promoting and protecting the human rights of people with I/DD, there is still much more work to be done. Throughout our efforts to bring about greater awareness, two findings from the survey have struck a nerve – one-third of parents and caregivers (potentially 1 million families) reported that they are on waiting lists for government funded services, with the average wait more than five years. And in this recession, 62 percent of caregivers reported a decrease in services for their family member with a disability, leaving them financially vulnerable.

On the morning of June 14, we released Still in the Shadows with Their Future Uncertain, our report on the FINDS data. The Arc’s CEO Peter V. Berns and Lauren Potter, star of the hit FOX show “Glee,” participated in more than twenty television and radio interviews in top media markets across the nation, including Boston and Greensboro, North Carolina. Peter and Lauren shared the findings of the report and talked about what needs to be done to improve the lives of people with I/DD. Following these interviews, The Arc hosted a press conference at the National Press Club to officially unveil the report, and the national newswire Reuters quickly ran a story. Throughout the day, media continued to pick up on the report, interviewing local Arc executive directors and self-advocates, like Jamie Liban and Katherine Olson from The Arc of Virginia who did an in-studio interview at WTVR in Richmond.

The FINDS survey continues to have momentum, as Health & Home Report, one of the longest running syndicated video magazines on television, will begin airing on July 1st one of the television interviews with Peter and Lauren. Health & Home Report is hosted by an award winning reporter and anchor, Laura DeAngelis, and has gained a loyal following because of its useful consumer tips and interesting stories. The show is distributed to 20 broadcast stations and 91 cable systems across the country, reaching an audience between 3 to 4 million.

We encourage you to read the FINDS survey report and spread the word about The Arc’s call-to-action to motivate 1 million Americans to join the movement for people with I/DD. Use this information to make the case to everyone you know that more needs to be done to help people with I/DD be fully included and participate in the community throughout their lifetimes. Build on the publicity generated by media coverage of the report and share this blog with your networks. Thank you!

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New Survey Shows Urgent Unmet Needs for Disability Support

The Arc recently had the opportunity to measure the urgent, unmet needs of individuals and families living with I/DD and find out where our society is succeeding in offering them support and where we’re falling short. In conjunction with researchers at the University of Minnesota, we conducted an unprecedented survey of more than 5000 individuals with I/DD, their family members and caregivers covering a host of issues from education to housing to planning for the future and discovered that many with I/DD are unnecessarily living in the shadows of society for lack of support to meet their most basic needs.

This week, we released the top findings from that survey in a publication called Still in the Shadows with Their Future Uncertain and outlined the steps we need to take as individuals, as families, as advocates and as a country to address the most pressing needs. Here are just a few of the most dramatic findings from the survey that should inspire us to action.

  • 62% of caregivers report that the level of services for their family member with a mild or moderate disability is decreasing; 70% of families with severe disabilities report a decrease in services.
  • 72% of family respondents provide direct financial support to their family member with disabilities and 52% of families are paying for care out of their own income.
  • More than 80% of families reported not having enough retirement savings for their future as a result of using personal funds to compensate for the lack of services available to their loved one.

We invite you to read the full report available now and join us in our movement through the call to action outlined in the report. Or, find out more about how you can get involved with The Arc to help bring about positive change, offer opportunity and foster hope for people with I/DD everywhere.

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Achieve With Us and Win a Trip to Washington, DC

The Arc works on a daily basis to empower people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to achieve full and satisfying lives. But its individuals like you who actually do all of the achieving! So, to put the spotlight on you and celebrate your achievements, we launched a contest to identify the amazing achievements of people with I/DD across the county.

Enter The Arc’s Achieve with us contest between now and July 14 for a chance to win a trip to Washington D.C. to visit your representatives in Congress and The Arc’s national office on a 2-day, expenses paid trip simply for sharing your story of achievement with The Arc. So if you, or someone you know who has an intellectual or developmental disability has a story to share. Then be sure to encourage everyone you know to vote for your story between July 15 and August 15 for your chance to win!

Here’s how to Achieve with us!

  • Write a short (500 words or less) narrative/essay telling us your story of achievement and submit it along with a photo at www.facebook.com/thearcus between June 14-July 14. (Photo not required by encouraged). Entries can come from individuals with I/DD who are 18 or older, their parents, guardians, caregivers or friends or from the parents or guardians of children under 18 who have I/DD.
  • Spread the word and encourage everyone you know to view your entry and “vote” for you between July 15-August 15.
  • If you win, you’ll hear from us after August 15 to make arrangements for you and a guest or caregiver to come to Washington, D.C. before December 20 and share your story with The Arc and elected officials on Capitol Hill. Check out complete contest details at www.facebook.com/thearcus.

Send in your story and tell us about your achievements on Facebook today. Then be sure to get out the vote starting July 15 and you could win!

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Are You Coming to Denver for The Arc’s National Convention?

Dr. Temple Grandin

Dr. Temple Grandin

Registration is now open for The Arc’s 2011 National Convention in Denver, Colorado, September 16-19. You should join us this year. It’s simply the biggest and best opportunity to connect with others in the intellectual and developmental disability community such as members of The Arc, chapter staff and volunteers, professionals and experts in the field plus individuals with I/DD and their families.

This year, we’ll be Achieving New Heights with special appearances from Dr. David Braddock, the force behind the “State of the States in Developmental Disabilities” assessment of state performance on issues important to the I/DD community and Dr. Temple Grandin, the noted scientist and subject of the award-winning biopic Temple Grandin, a film about her accomplishments and living with autism.

We have a special treat for those of you who attended last year’s Convention. Actress Lauren Potter from Glee, who stole the show along with her co-star Robin Trocki in Orlando, returns this year. Lauren, who has Down syndrome, was a delight at last year’s event, meeting and greeting fans for hours.

In addition to the roundup of informative and enlightening sessions covering topics such as advocacy, leadership, innovation, and public policy, we’re bringing back the popular Exchange – a roundtable discussion group. And, we’re turning the Exhibit Hall into a dynamic Marketplace where you can find out more about programs, services and products designed especially for you. Look for Entrepreneur Alley, where budding businesspeople with I/DD can showcase their entrepreneurial spirit.

Register now before August 5 for discounted registration and room rates at the Sheraton Denver Downtown.

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Sad Night for Glee Fans Makes The Arc Smile

Warning: this post contains plot spoilers from last night’s episode.

Robin Trocki speaking at The Arc's 2010 National ConventionFans of the hit Fox TV show Glee were given an emotional episode last night as Jane Lynch’s character, Sue Sylvester, dealt with the shocking death of her sister Jean, played by Robin Trocki. Jane talked to EW.com about how tough it was to film the funeral scenes since she knew it meant the end of an enjoyable working relationship with Robin. Those of you who attended The Arc’s National Convention in Orlando last year may have had the opportunity to meet Robin, who has Down syndrome, along with her Glee co-star Lauren Potter as they accepted The Arc’s inaugural Image and Inclusion Award for positive and accurate portrayals of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the media. If you did, we’re sure you share Jane’s sentiment as it was clear that Robin was just as friendly and kind in real life as the character she portrays.

In her interview about the episode, Jane Lynch noted that people with Down syndrome can have shorter life expectancies than the average American due to health issues associated with their disability. However, with advances in medical care, some of those issues are not as life-threatening as they once were. Jane also spoke to the unique sibling relationship between the characters that many people who have a brother or sister with I/DD will instantly recognize. The Arc applauds the creators and producers of Glee for creating the characters of Jean and Becky (Lauren Potter) and giving them such rich lives complete with challenges and achievements, friends and family, joy and sorrow…included, participating and contributing just like everyone else. That makes us smile.

To Jean – goodbye, we’ll miss you. And to Robin – thanks!