Older Americans Month – Age Strong! Live Long!

Did you know that May is Older Americans Month? It is a time to celebrate the accomplishments and contributions of our aging citizens, and was established in 1963 as "Senior Citizens Month” by President John F. Kennedy (Source: Administration on Aging’s "History of Older Americans Month” You can read President Obama’s Older Americans Month proclamation at

In recognition of this year's theme, Age Strong! and Live Long!, we at Disability.Blog are taking the opportunity to highlight the resources provides for older Americans, including those with disabilities.

10. Education

Learning doesn't end after graduation, and education sets a sturdy foundation for leading full and independent lives. 

You can help by teaching the next generation how to plan and set goals for their future now – whether you are a grandparent, educator or mentor.'s Education ( section offers resources on topics such as the school-to-work transition, post-secondary options, financial aid and much more.

The Office of Disability Employment Policy's (ODEP) publication “Career-Focused Mentoring for Youth: The What, Why & How” ( located in the Mentoring & Internships folder (, is an excellent resource to help young people with disabilities as they transition from high school to higher education or employment.

9. Employment

Pushing for the right to be recognized by abilities, not differences, is an essential theme surrounding the employment of individuals with disabilities. As many Americans – especially those aging with disabilities or who have acquired a disability due the aging process – know, it can be an on-going struggle.'s Employment section ( includes information on job training, workplace accommodations and supports and self-employment, as well as resources for employers interested in recruiting, hiring and retaining individuals with disabilities.

Not sure where to start the job-hunting process?  Take a look at our “I want to find a job” page ( for helpful tips. 

Or if you are enjoying retirement, help support initiatives like the Campaign for Disability Employment, ( which recognizes that "At work, it's what you can do that matters."

8. Technology

Advances in technology have leveled the playing field for many people with disabilities at home, school and in the workplace. However, understanding how to use the latest tools can sometimes be overwhelming and difficult.'s Technology section ( covers information about different types of assistive and accessible technology, providers and programs, funding sources and more.

The USDA’s TARGET Center's Discovery Series ( offers Webinars that explain how to use different forms of assistive technology and how to use technology to make the workplace more accessible for everyone. Visit the News and Events ( folder of’s Technology section for more information on upcoming trainings. 

7. Emergency Preparedness

We know preparation is a key component of mitigating the negative effects of a disaster or emergency, especially for older Americans. So don't wait for something to happen – develop a plan now and include your family, friends, caregivers and others in the process.'s Emergency Preparedness section ( provides resources on topics such as personal and organizational preparedness, emergency management planning and disaster recovery.

We also offer emergency preparedness information specific to individuals and aging Americans with disabilities. For example, read the Red Cross' guide “Disaster Preparedness for Seniors by Seniors” ( located in the “Personal Preparedness” section of (

6. Civil Rights

Older Americans with disabilities can certainly affirm that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was a significant accomplishment for individuals with disabilities but as we all know, there is still work to be done on advancing the civil rights of people with disabilities.'s Civil Rights ( section offers information on laws and regulations, enforcement actions, filing and resolving complaints and much more.

Want to learn more about sections of the ADA? Visit our “I want to learn about disability laws” ( page.

Looking for more information on how to file a complaint? Check out the Department of Justice ADA Enforcement ( resource on how to do so, located in the Filing Complaints ( folder of

5. Health

With a theme like Age Strong! Live Long!, you would think we would have listed health as the number one topic (and indeed it's a vital one for the welfare of all people with disabilities). Nevertheless, we believe our top five topics are all equally important.'s Health section (http://www.disabi
) includes resources on health care, health insurance, and disabilities and chronic conditions, as well as information for caregivers and providers. offers an Older Adults ( page in the Specific Populations folder of the Health section that includes resources such as the National Institutes on Aging’s Exercise & Physical Activity: Your Everyday Guide (

4. Transportation

Accessible transportation is critical for older individuals with disabilities in order to have the freedom to travel where, when or how they choose. Many of us take transportation as a given, but for aging Americans in rural areas, public transportation is not always an option.'s Transportation section ( covers information on accessible transportation, funding sources, transportation providers and more.

Did you know that also provides a list of available resources in your state? Choose your state from the drop-down menu under “Information by State” located on the left-hand side of any page. For an example of the types of state information you can find on, visit the Transportation section for the state of California at

3. Housing

Accessible housing is a topic that is often of great concern for older Americans with disabilities. Many people wish to stay in their homes as they get older, but they are not sure how to do so. offers resources on alternatives to institutional care and programs that help seniors and people with disabilities stay in their communities. The Web site also offers resources on supportive housing, how to improve accessibility in your own home and information for caregivers and family members. 

The Housing section ( also provides resources on topics such as housing assistance, homelessness, accessibility and universal design and housing discrimination.

A recently-added resource in our Supportive Housing ( folder is the Accessible Space, Inc. Web site ( which offers independent and assisted living apartments in more than 18 states for very-low income adults with physical disabilities, as well as seniors.

2. Benefits

Understanding the benefits system is often essential to ensuring you receive the benefits for which you are eligible.'s Benefits section ( helps visitor understand benefits programs including Social Security disability programs, work incentives and employment supports, nutrition assistance programs (sometimes known as “food stamps”) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).

Examples of resources in this section include a guide that answers frequently asked questions about Social Security Benefits ( Questions to answers about applying for benefits ( can also be found in this section.

1. Community Life

One of the main goals of is to help community is to provide information and resources that advance and ensure the full participation of people with disabilities in their communities.'s Community Life section ( covers independent living, sports and leisure activities, volunteering and national service programs, disability history and more. 

This section includes information on programs such as the Senior Corps ( program and other Volunteering and National Service Programs ( 

We hope that through this post, you have gained a better understanding of the resources available on and how they can better help you!


Countdown to the 20th Anniversary of the ADA: Day 60 – Where Is Mary Now?

By Guest Blogger Susan Parker, Director of Policy Development, Office of Disability Employment Policy, U.S. Department of Labor

When I met Mary in 1995, she was wearing a pretty blue dress. It was the middle of the school day in her thatched-roof classroom. The teacher’s instruction stopped briefly to welcome us – members of a United Nations-sponsored mission into a West African war zone. This war zone, where thousands of displaced persons of all ages had gathered, sat in the Ivory Coast’s patchy jungle bottom – land shared with Liberia’s border, the Tabou River.  In the midst of recording first-hand observations, and conducting interviews with victims about the brutal cruelties they had experienced, our African stateswoman leader stopped without a word and motioned for me to come inside the makeshift school.

Mary, who was about ten years old, and I moved towards one another as though being guided by puppet strings. She grabbed my hand and in a soft voice said, “Sit there.” As I did as I was told, I felt her teachers’ eyes on my back. Mary’s large brown eyes confirmed the words her voice spoke:

“My father, him a school master; they came and got him and killed him in our house.  My mother and sister, screaming, tried to save him. The bad men hit them and drugged them away. I be the oldest. I watch and say nothing. They be bad men with machetes. I say to myself I must tell this story so not now to make them mad with me.” 

The young girl had pushed through her reaction to witnessing her family’s death and quietly told me the story.  Those were the first words she had spoken in months, according to her teachers. The eyes that were boring into my back were now next to me, as I sat silent.  I held her hand, and attempted to mop up the tears streaming down my cheeks.

Even though thousands of miles and many years now separate Mary and me, I think of her often as I consider the civilians, children, veterans and returning service members who live every day with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). About 8 percent of the U.S. population (approximately 24 million people) will develop PTSD at some point in their lives. Among military veterans, PTSD is quite common. Approximately 30 percent of Vietnam War veterans experience PTSD over the course of their lifetimes, and recent data compiled by the Rand Corporation suggest that approximately one in five service members who return from Afghanistan and Iraq experience symptoms of PTSD or depression.  And, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), more than 7 million American adults age 18 and older have PTSD.

Unfortunately, societal misconceptions and fears about uncontrollable violence keep many individuals with PTSD from fully participating in their communities and the workforce. However, the truth is that those with PTSD are rarely a threat to themselves or others.

For More Information

For more information about myths and facts about PTSD and how to help others who have been through traumatic events, please visit the following Web sites:

  • International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies –


Countdown to the 20th Anniversary of the ADA: Day 61 – People with Disabilities & Crime

By Guest Blogger Jason Olsen, Office of Disability Employment Policy, U.S. Department of Labor

“Always the innocent are the first victims… So it has been for ages past, so it is now.

 - J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Ever since I was a bouncer at a night club many years ago, I have had an interest in personal safety. Both back then, and now, it has been about survival. Of course, at the time (in the last millennium), I stood at 6’4”. Now, as a wheelchair user, I sit at about 4’6”. Back then I saw myself as invincible.  Age and wisdom have changed that misconception, helping me recognize that I could be the victim of crime or hate just like anyone else – perhaps even more so since my spinal cord injury.

With many Americans facing high unemployment rates and the possibility of losing their homes, the likelihood of an increase in incidents of crime in the U.S. is growing. Consider, too, that crimes against people with disabilities already occur all too frequently, and the prospect of what the future holds can be downright terrifying.

Such concerns are not unfounded. The Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), Office of Justice Programs highlighted the following facts in a report entitled "Crime Against People with Disabilities, 2007" (

  • Age-adjusted rate of nonfatal violent crime against persons with disabilities was 1.5 times higher than the rate for persons without disabilities.
  • Persons with a disability had an age-adjusted rate of rape or sexual assault that was more than twice the rate for persons without a disability.
  • Females with a disability had a higher victimization rate than males with a disability; males with a disability had a higher rate than females without a disability.
  • Persons with a cognitive functioning disability had a higher risk of violent victimization than persons with any other type of disability.
  • Persons with more than one type of disability were victims of violent crime in over one-half of the incidents involving a person with a disability.

In 2007 alone, persons age 12 or older with disabilities experienced about 716,000 nonfatal violent crimes, including rape or sexual assault (47,000), robbery (79,000), aggravated assaults (114,000) and simple assaults (476,000). They also experienced about 2.3 million property crimes during the year.

While living in fear is not exactly helpful, it is important to be aware and careful.  Aggravated assaults and simple assaults are the most common crimes, and after making the morning commute on a crowded train, I can understand why. Have you ever asked people to move out of the disability seating area before they have had their morning coffee? Snide comments and bad attitudes are usually on full display.  I have been fortunate that on these mornings I haven’t been assaulted. I think that the fact that I am surrounded by other passengers has discouraged any hateful retribution from fellow travelers.

All joking aside, here are some safety tips that can reduce the risk of crime.

  • Stay alert and tuned-into your surroundings, whether on the street, in an office building, at the shopping mall, while driving or waiting for bus;
  • Send a message that you’re calm, confident and know where you’re going;
  • Be realistic about your limitations. Avoid places or situations that put you at risk;
  • Know the neighborhood where you live and work. Always be familiar with the location of your local police, fire stations, public telephone, hospitals, restaurants or store that are open and accessible; and
  • Avoid establishing predictable activity patterns. Most of us have daily routines, but never changing routines can increase the risk of crime.

One of the safety tips that I am still adjusting to is being realistic about my limitations. I need to realize that I am not a 6’4” tough guy anymore that can fight my way out of a bad situation or easily flee from an even worse one. Things may be different for me now, but that doesn’t mean I can’t still protect myself and be alert and aware. Safety starts with knowledge.


U.S. Department of Justice Files Briefs in Florida, Illinois & New Jersey to Support Supreme Court’s Olmstead Decision

The Justice Department has announced that it has filed briefs in three separate cases in Florida, Illinois and New Jersey as part of its continuing effort to enforce civil rights laws that require states to end discrimination against and unnecessary segregation of persons with disabilities. The department's filings support two private lawsuits seeking relief in Florida and New Jersey, as well as a proposed statewide class action settlement in Illinois. The briefs allege that the three states are failing to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Supreme Court’s decision in Olmstead v. L.C.

For more information visit


Countdown to the 20th Anniversary of the ADA: Day 62 – the Workforce Recruitment Program

Over the past few months, we have posted on Disability.Blog about youth and adults with disabilities and their desire to participate in the American workforce. We have talked about the importance of people with disabilities having the freedom to earn and spend their time and money as they choose, and the impact of these choices in the post-ADA era.  

Today let’s shift our attention a bit, and focus on employers, who may be asking, “How do I bring talented, qualified workers with disabilities onto my team?”  If you are an employer – read on, this post is for you….

First, let’s dismiss the myth that it’s difficult to find qualified and talented candidates with disabilities. Here’s the truth: there are many thousands of individuals with disabilities – at all levels of education and experience in a variety of fields – who are looking for jobs. And they are not hard to find!

However, many employers don’t have the time or staffing to conduct extensive searches for prospective candidates, and this is where the Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP) can help! 

The WRP is a free, nationwide database of over 2,100 job candidates with disabilities seeking employment in a wide variety of fields. This service is made available to employers through a partnership between the U.S. Department of Labor’ Office of Disability Employment Policy and the U.S. Department of Defense.  It’s a recruitment and referral program that connects federal and private sector employers nationwide with highly motivated postsecondary students and recent graduates with disabilities who are eager to prove their abilities in the workplace through summer or permanent jobs. Since 1995, the WRP has provided employment opportunities for over 5,500 students.

Federal recruiters travel to college campuses across the county to interview eligible undergraduates, recent graduates and post-graduate students, and compile information for the WRP database.  This database contains profiles of qualified, pre-screened candidates and lists their skills, education and experiences. Because WRP is often used to identify interns for summer positions, some consider it just a seasonal program; but WRP is so much more! It’s a tool that a hiring manager, supervisor, CEO or decision-maker can use at any time, whether to hire one new person or staff an entire office.

With the WRP database, you have access to candidates from across the United States at your fingertips. Are you looking for a 45 year old Master’s candidate in Public Administration with military experience? How about a college student in Missoula for your Montana branch office? Maybe you need a law student who has worked internationally and now lives in the Boston area? Through the use of WRP, you can not only create a diverse workplace, but also have direct access to future leaders in your field. 

The 2010 WRP database contains candidates from over 230 schools, representing all academic backgrounds, who are seeking associates, bachelors, masters, doctoral and law degrees, and includes those who self-identify as U.S. Veterans.  Features of the WRP database include access to students’ resumes and transcripts, as well as real-time hiring reports.

For More Information

Federal employers can tap into this ongoing recruitment resource online at  Private sector, nonprofit and state and local government employers can request free, unlimited searches by contacting the Employer Assistance & Resource Network (EARN) at 866-327-6669, by email at or online at

Please go to for more information and consider using WRP to fill all of your vacant positions this year!