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” http://www.aoa.gov/aoaroot/press_room/observances/oam/archive/archive.aspx). You can read President Obama’s Older Americans Month proclamation at http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/presidential-proclamation-older-americans-month.
In recognition of this year's theme, Age Strong! and Live Long!, we at Disability.Blog are taking the opportunity to highlight the resources Disability.gov provides for older Americans, including those with disabilities.
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. Disability.gov's Education (http://www.disability.gov/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” (http://www.dol.gov/odep/pubs/fact/cfm.htm) located in the Mentoring & Internships folder (http://www.disability.gov/education/student_resources/school_to_work/mentoring_&_internships), is an excellent resource to help young people with disabilities as they transition from high school to higher education or 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.
Disability.gov's Employment section (http://www.disability.gov/employment) 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 (http://www.disability.gov/home/i_want_to/find_a_job) for helpful tips.
Or if you are enjoying retirement, help support initiatives like the Campaign for Disability Employment, (http://www.whatcanyoudocampaign.org) which recognizes that "At work, it's what you can do that matters."
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.
Disability.gov's Technology section (http://www.disability.gov/technology) 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 (http://www.dm.usda.gov/oo/target/discovery/index.html) 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 (http://www.disability.gov/technology/news_%26_events) folder of Disability.gov’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.
Disability.gov's Emergency Preparedness section (http://www.disability.gov/emergency_preparedness) 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” (http://www.rochesterredcross.org/Portals/1/RRC-pdfs/Disaster_Prep_for_Seniors.pdf) located in the “Personal Preparedness” section of Disability.gov (http://www.disability.gov/emergency_preparedness/personal_preparedness/home).
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.
Disability.gov's Civil Rights (http://www.disability.gov/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” (http://www.disability.gov/home/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 (http://www.ada.gov/enforce.htm#anchor218282) resource on how to do so, located in the Filing Complaints (http://www.disability.gov/civil_rights/filing_complaints) folder of Disability.gov.
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.
Disability.gov's Health section (http://www.disabi
lity.gov/health) includes resources on health care, health insurance, and disabilities and chronic conditions, as well as information for caregivers and providers.
Disability.gov offers an Older Adults (http://www.disability.gov/health/specific_populations/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 (http://www.nia.nih.gov/NR/rdonlyres/E2A819E3-8BAA-46AA-89E8-321B527D8A2B/0/Exercise_and_Physical_ActivityYour_Everyday_Guide_from_The_NIA.pdf).
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.
Disability.gov's Transportation section (http://www.disability.gov/transportation) covers information on accessible transportation, funding sources, transportation providers and more.
Did you know that Disability.gov 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 Disability.gov page. For an example of the types of state information you can find on Disability.gov, visit the Transportation section for the state of California at http://www.disability.gov/state/california/transportation.
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. Disability.gov 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 (http://www.disability.gov/housing) 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 (http://www.disability.gov/housing/housing_assistance/supportive_housing) folder is the Accessible Space, Inc. Web site (http://www.accessiblespace.org) which offers independent and assisted living apartments in more than 18 states for very-low income adults with physical disabilities, as well as seniors.
Understanding the benefits system is often essential to ensuring you receive the benefits for which you are eligible.
Disability.gov's Benefits section (www.disability.gov/benefits) 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 (http://ssa-custhelp.ssa.gov/cgi-bin/ssa.cfg/php/enduser/std_alp.php?p_page=1&p_cv=1.105&p_pv=&p_prods=&p_cats=105). Questions to answers about applying for benefits (http://www.disability.gov/benefits/social_security_cash_benefit_programs/applying_for_benefits) can also be found in this section.
1. Community Life
One of the main goals of Disability.gov is to help community is to provide information and resources that advance and ensure the full participation of people with disabilities in their communities.
Disability.gov's Community Life section (http://www.disability.gov/community_life) 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 (http://www.seniorcorps.gov) program and other Volunteering and National Service Programs (http://www.disability.gov/community_life/volunteering_%26_national_service_programs).
We hope that through this post, you have gained a better understanding of the resources available on Disability.gov and how they can better help you!