Artist Sees Painting as a Way of Life
Artist Sees Painting as a Way of Life

Categories: Community Life

SummerMelody_largeBy Guest Blogger Mel Finefrock, editor and freelance writer

Prior to losing his sight due to complications with epilepsy, John Bramblitt processed his world and his experiences through drawing. Amidst grieving and adjusting to a life with blindness as a secondary disability, he found that he felt isolated both from himself and people around him. When he realized that what was missing in his life was art, he began to dabble in painting by touch.

At first, painting helped Bramblitt to express his anger with regard to the loss of his sight, but over time, he found that those feelings were replaced by a sense of peace and calm. Self-doubt gave way to self-confidence; aimlessness to purpose; and desolation to hope and joy. Through art, Bramblitt rediscovered himself and found a way to connect with others, starting with friends and family and eventually branching out to the public.

Of course, Bramblitt wasn’t aware initially, beyond a certain point, of the therapeutic effects which art had on him or, furthermore, that he would begin to deliver therapy to others. “I didn’t even think of painting as therapy for me – I thought it might actually be a little dysfunctional – so I didn’t tell anybody at first,” Bramblitt recounts. “But after six to eight months, I was so much calmer and happier, and then I wanted to do a show so I could meet other artists, because I wanted to meet other people who were just as obsessed as I was about art.”

At last, Bramblitt found the sense of community he had come to miss so much; to him, it was refreshing to be in the presence of like-minded people who may not necessarily have been going through the same things he was, but who had struggles of their own and could relate on that level.

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Why Disability Inclusion Won’t Work
Why Disability Inclusion Won’t Work

Categories: Civil Rights & Voting, Community Life

A cartoon stick figure stands with the words "Quality Control" and "Rejected" stamped on his back.

By Guest Blogger Kathe Palermo Skinner, M.A., L.M.F.T.

As a marriage and family therapist with multiple sclerosis, I write for this blog and others like it, getting the opportunity to be a source of strength for people and their families. That’s why I was surprised when one organization denied my professional presence because I didn’t have that specific chronic illness/disability.

Though illness-specific groups may be essential to living well, the “micro” view of disability dilutes what’s important for the non-disabled world to know. Advocating for one chronicity over another may be a reason society doesn’t see an inclusive, “macro” view of disability/chronic illness.

For inclusion to be successful, the commonality between disorders needs emphasis, not the differences between them.

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Understanding Disability in America Using Census Bureau Statistics
Understanding Disability in America Using Census Bureau Statistics

Categories: Community Life

Census Disability Data Slide

By Guest Blogger Amy Steinweg, survey statistician, U.S. Census Bureau

July 26, 2014 marked the 24th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Do you know how federal, tribal, state and local planners know the characteristics of local populations in order to improve services such as more accessible transportation? Or, how someone can evaluate the success of these programs? The answers to both of these questions are: U.S. Census Bureau statistics.

The Census Bureau collects disability data throughout the year and on multiple surveys. The most useful survey for this purpose may be the American Community Survey (ACS). The ACS has the largest sample size of any of the Census Bureau surveys. As a result, it can produce estimates for places, cities and counties, in addition to larger geographies. The ACS includes six questions on disability and a variety of additional topics such as demographics, employment and health insurance coverage.

Statistics about the size, distribution and needs of the population with disabilities are essential for developing disability employment policy. For the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), information about functional limitations are important to ensure that comparable services are available to all people with disabilities. Under the Older Americans Act, federal grants are awarded to states and tribal areas based on the number of elderly people with physical and mental disabilities.

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