Olmstead Ownership for Older Adults

Administration for Community Living

Editor’s Note: This blog was cross-posed from the Administration for Community Living (ACL) blog.

By Edwin Walker, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Aging

Yesterday marked the 17th anniversary of a landmark Supreme Court decision. In Olmstead v. L.C. the Court ruled that people who need assistance with activities of daily living such as eating, bathing, dressing and walking cannot be unnecessarily segregated. They must receive services in the most integrated setting possible.

This decision, based on the Americans with Disabilities Act, has great implications for older adults.

All people should have the opportunity to live, work, retire, and contribute to diverse neighborhoods and communities, regardless of age or disability. The Olmstead decision has helped make that vision a reality for older adults and people with disabilities alike by shaping policy that ultimately provides services. For example, in the 2006 and again in 2016 Congress reauthorized the Older Americans Act, each time helping reshape the systems that provide long-term services and supports to include more home-and-community-based services.  As a result, more older adults now get help with dressing, grocery shopping, and other routine tasks, making it possible for them to continue living in their homes.

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Ensuring All People with Disabilities Can Answer One Simple Question

A photo of John Kemp

By Guest Blogger John D. Kemp, President & CEO, The Viscardi Center

Who do you aspire to be? When asked, no matter what your age, it’s likely an individual you can relate to in some sense. All too often this question, seemingly simple in nature, becomes difficult for people with disabilities to answer. Why… because many with disabilities have few aspirational role models, leaders and mentors they can liken themselves to in their midst.

For this reason, the Henry Viscardi Achievement Awards were established in honor of our organization’s founder, Dr. Henry Viscardi, Jr. Dr. Viscardi, who used prosthetic legs, transformed the lives of countless individuals with disabilities around the world. In fact, he served as disability advisor to eight presidents, wrote eight books, was the inspiration for countless disability-related organizations, led the first U.S. business to be staffed primarily by employees with disabilities, and opened an accredited, private school giving children with severe physical disabilities the opportunity for an education in a more traditional setting.

Most importantly, Dr. Viscardi was one to admire. A shining example and living proof for thousands of children and adults with disabilities, including myself, that we should aim high and that we could accomplish anything we put our minds to academically, vocationally and socially. I now have the privilege of leading the organization he founded over 60 years ago. The Viscardi Center continues to educate, employ and empower people with disabilities, guide employers on the benefits of an inclusive workforce, and shape policy changes that will benefit the people it serves.

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Wired Together

Brain IDEAS Symposium August 5, 2016

By Guest Blogger Wayne Connell, Founder and President, Invisible Disabilities® Association

Neuroplasticity, brain training, brain-based therapy, rewire your brain, brain mapping, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), mindfulness, therapeutic humor, microbiome, unconscious mind, attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, dyslexia, Alzheimer’s, Down syndrome, nutrition, stroke, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI). We hear so many scientific and medical buzzwords today. What do they all mean and why should I care? Very good question!

I am sure you have heard the phrase, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” People usually make this comment when we find out some habit or trait about a person and we believe, that’s just the way they are, or when we are trying to teach someone something new and it doesn’t seem to be catching on.

Animals are trained to perform certain tricks or to behave in a certain way until it’s ingrained in them. Over and over and over again until they get it right and it becomes second nature to them. Try teaching a dog to “not sit” once they have learned the command “sit!” I guess we could possibly teach them to stand versus to not sit. Sounds complicated to me and probably hard to teach especially after many, many dog years of sitting on command. This is the reason why it is tough to teach an old dog new tricks or almost impossible to unlearn existing ones.

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Small Steps Essential in Returning to Work

Paula Reuben Vieillet, President and Founder, Employment Options Inc.

By Guest Blogger Paula Reuben Vieillet, President and Founder, Employment Options Inc.

One of the major hurdles of returning to work after a disability related absence is the mindset of “It will take too long to get from here to there,” or just simply not knowing where to start.

Small steps can help bring simplicity to the process of returning to work and not make it seem so daunting!

The first step is to become aware of the desire to work and why. Sure, there is always the need for money and paying bills, but desire is motivational. How can going back to work also help you as a person? What can working add to your life?

Those who have returned to work will tell you it was great to get out of the house and be around people again. Work at home employees will express gratitude for something to do in the house and have productivity and focus in their day. Most everyone who returns to work really likes meeting new people, whether working face to face or virtually. Working can be so much more to someone than just a paycheck!

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One man and three women, one of whom is in a wheelchair, seated at a table and talking.

Editor’s Note: This blog was cross-posted from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Blog.

I’ve worked in the disability employment policy arena for more than 20 years, and a lot has changed in this time. Looking back, the progress I’m most thrilled about isn’t just the policy action we’ve seen. Rather, it’s the significant shift in how we as a nation talk about disability and employment.

Today, disability has rightfully taken its place in the larger conversation about workplace diversity. Leading companies are now actively working to align diversity with their corporate brand, both internally and externally. This is because they know that inclusion works. They know that groups representing a range of perspectives outperform those with superior, but similar, skill sets. And they know that, as one of the nation’s largest minority groups, people with disabilities are an essential voice to have at the table.

Reflecting this perspective, #InclusionWorks will be the theme for National Disability Employment Awareness Month 2016.  NDEAM is a nationwide campaign that celebrates the contributions of workers with disabilities and educates about the value of a diverse workforce inclusive of their skills and talents. Although not observed until October, we announce the annual theme each spring to help with advance event planning.

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