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More oversight seen as needed for home, community services

More oversight seen as needed for home, community services More oversight is needed for programs that provide care and services for people with disabilities and the elderly, according to a report from the state’s legislative auditor. The 84-page report, which focused on $2.4 billion in home and community-based services spending and providers, was hailed by disability coalitions ARRM and Best Life Alliance for shedding ...

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Clock is ticking: Disability issues highlighted at large rally

Clock is ticking: Disability issues highlighted at large rally “We deserve to have our voices heard and our issues addressed.” Those words, spoken by Apple Valley parent Kelly Kausel, summed up the sentiments of this year’s Disability Matters Day at the Capitol. A large crowd packed the February 28 event, filling the rotunda and lining up two deep along the second and third floor railings. ...

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Mixed news with surplus, federal cuts

Following the money at the state and federal levels has a renewed urgency for Minnesotans with disabilities and their allies. The February 28 announcement of a $1.65 billion state surplus for fiscal year 2018-2019 and a $743 million ending balance for the current biennium, has generated calls for more spending on caregiver programs and an ...

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Editor’s Column – March 2017

The Minnesota legislative session is in full swing and moving at a very rapid pace, with deadlines for legislation to be heard in both chamber committees by March 10. "The first committee deadlines were adopted in 1971 as part of the Permanent Joint Rules. There were two deadlines, one for bills in the house of ...

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History Note: Protests, podium appearances created lasting ADA images

During March, Women’s History Month, Access Press honors women who played a role in the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). They are sometimes described as the “mothers” of the ADA. This month is a look at some of the women whose actions created lasting images linked to the ADA’s passage. Information is ...

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Low caregiver pay prevents people from succeeding

Low caregiver pay prevents people from succeeding By Jeffrey P. Straub My wife and I are the parents of a 26-year-old with cerebral palsy. Joshua was born 10 weeks premature and had an inter-cranial bleed that resulted in spastic quadriplegia. Despite his disability, he has graduated from Southwest Minnesota State University with a double major in history and creative writing (with honors). He is ...

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Consumer-Directed Community Supports eyed for change

Consumer-Directed Community Supports eyed for change The push for more self-direction through the Consumer-Directed Community Supports (CDCS) program has met a positive response from legislative committees in recent weeks. Whether a good reception means funding to expand and change the program remains to be seen. The Arc Minnesota is one of the groups leading the charge for more people with disabilities to ...

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Choices, integration are working for many, but are threatened

At age 25, our son was presented options about where he could live and work. He chose to live in a residential group home with three other gentlemen with disabilities, and 24-hour live-in staff. At about the same time, he chose a nonprofit day training and habilitation program that helped with employment opportunities. Soon our son ...

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Radio Talking Book – March 2017

Connect 700 The State of Minnesota aspires to be a leader in employing people with disabilities. For some, interviewing, assessment, selection, and testing methods may not accurately measure their skills and abilities to perform the job. Connect 700 provides another path to a state job for people with certain disabilities. It allows eligible individuals with disabilities ...

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People & Places – March 2017

People & Places – March 2017 For many people with disabilities, finding and retaining a job is a priority. In Minnesota, surveys indicate that 50 percent of people with intellectual disabilities and 40 percent of people with physical disabilities who are unemployed want to work. In his latest budget, Gov. Mark Dayton has proposed new employment services to ensure more Minnesotans with ...

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In Memoriam – March 2017

Herndon led on and off the court John Herndon is remembered as a student leader on and off of the Southwest Minnesota State University basketball court. The straight-A student and Mustangs wheelchair basketball team captain died February 14 after going into cardiac arrest during practice. The team is more like a family, with players recruited from around ...

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Regional News in Review – March 2017

Safety concerns highlighted Some lawmakers are demanding answers after a Fox 9 investigation highlighted safety concerns involving Metro Mobility, a taxpayer-funded ride service for the elderly and people with disabilities. Sandra Kline was seriously hurt after one of her rides. She was trying to exit a lift when it malfunctioned and her wheel chair tipped. She ...

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Accessible Events & Services – March 2017

More events information: VSA Minnesota is here. The website has a large calendar at in the upper right hand corner of its home page. For information on galleries and theater performances around the state join the Access to Performing Arts email list at access@vsamn.org or call VSA Minnesota, 612-332-3888 or statewide 800-801-3883 (voice/TTY). To hear ...

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March 2016 issue

Here's our entire March 2017 issue in pdf format. Please note you may need to create a log in to print or download this copy. Enjoy!    

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Families call for state intervention, parental fees ‘out of control’

Families call for state intervention, parental fees ‘out of control’ High fees are keeping too many Minnesota families out of the Medical Assistance/ Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act (TEFRA) program. Families in the program make many sacrifices to pay fees meant to keep children with disabilities healthy and living in the community. More than 50 parents and children gathered January 28 in Roseville to share their ...

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Longtime community leader Bjerkesett gave many a place to call home

Longtime community leader Bjerkesett gave many a place to call home Countless people with disabilities have enjoyed accessible housing, thanks to Michael Bjerkesett. Bjerkesett’s death January 18 sent shock waves through his large circle of friends and triggered an outpouring of sadness from around the world. Family and friends recall his twinkling eyes, ready smile and zest for life. A celebration of his life was held ...

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Care crisis plays out at capitol

Minnesota’s home care crisis continues to play out at the capitol. More pay and benefits for home care workers are at the forefront for several groups. Advocates got mixed news after Gov. Mark Dayton released his budget last month. Supporters for increased pay are working against a backdrop of thousands of job vacancies in the home ...

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Editor’s Column – February 2017

Since the Minnesota legislative session started, there have been hundreds of new bills introduced, including two that are of interest concerning caregivers, home care and home care agencies. Both were introduced on February 6, and both were authored by Sen. Jerry Relph (R -St. Cloud). Together the bills are aimed at easing the workforce shortage ...

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Providing digital access – Accessible360 helps make websites, apps accessible

Providing digital access – Accessible360 helps make websites, apps accessible Since 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has ensured equal opportunity for Americans who live with physical and mental conditions that limit their means. While wheelchair ramps, closed captioning and wider doorways have become commonplace, the digital realm still lags behind. Accessible360, founded by entrepreneur Mark Lacek, seeks to fix that oversight. The company’s purpose ...

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Radio Talking Book – February 2017

Aging Eyes Initiative Seniors faced with vision loss are often riddled with anxiety and stress. A few years ago, SSB started The Aging Eyes Initiative to meet the growing need to provide services to seniors losing vision.  This program trains people currently working with seniors to provide a first level of support to seniors in the ...

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History Note – Many women played key roles in the passage of the ADA

In 1987, Congress declared March as National Women's History Month. A special presidential proclamation is issued every year to honor the extraordinary achievements of women in the United States. Countless women with disabilities have played key roles in the disability rights movement, the movement from institutionalization to community living, education reforms and the passage of the ...

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In Memoriam – February 2017

Moran was a skilled interpreter Deaf and hard-of-hearing Minnesotans remember Kathy Moran for her work as an advocate as well as a skilled interpreter. Moran was honored in January at a Minneapolis memorial service. She died weeks after being diagnosed with cancer. “She wanted to make sure that deaf folks could participate in life as fully ...

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Excessive regulations compound the state’s care crisis

Excessive regulations compound the state’s care crisis Minnesota’s providers of home and community based services for people with disabilities face a serious workforce crisis. The Star Tribune reported last year that there are 9,000 open positions in this field. This dilemma has been years in the making and can be attributed in part to a shrinking labor pool, greater service demands and ...

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People and Places – February 2017

People and Places – February 2017 Six Twin Cities arts groups receive arts access grants Six Twin Cities arts organizations have been awarded ADA Access Im­provement Grants by VSA Minnesota. The nonprofits will use grants, totaling $67,320, to make arts programs more accessible to people with disabilities. Funded projects include Artabil­ity, part of People Incorporated, St. Paul, which encourages mental health through visual ...

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People shouldn’t have to live in poverty to get help they need

On February 1 I testified on behalf of Minnesota Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (MNCCD) before the Senate Committee on Human Services Reform and Policy. We support the governor’s budget increase for Minnesota Supplemental Aid—Housing Assistance (MSA-HA), but we also request consideration for MNCCD’s other top priorities: Enhancements and upgrades to Consumer Directed Community Supports ...

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