Outreach Newsletter: September 2010

Celebrating ADA’s 20th Anniversary

See the pdf version here.

Spotlight On ADA’s 20th Anniversary

The Sacramento Regional office celebrated the 20th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) on July 26, 2010 at the west steps of the Capitol. Family members, advocates and individuals with disabilities came together to celebrate the landmark event. The ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by employers, public facilities, state and local governments, public and private transportation, and in telecommunications.

Sara Granda, an attorney who challenged the State Bar on disability rights issues in the California Superior court, was a guest speaker at the event, along with Ana Acton, a community partner and leader in the independent living movement. Both women spoke of the importance of the ADA to the disability community. People from all over Northern California joined Disability Rights California in supporting the cause.

Bay Area Regional Office: “Disabled and Proud, Say it Loud!” Proclaimed at the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Celebration

The 1st Annual West Coast Disability Pride Parade and Festival, the first ever of its kind in California, took place on July 24, 2010 in San Jose. The Festival brought the disability community together to celebrate progress made by the ADA and recognized the need for additional advocacy for people with disabilities. Disability Rights California staffed an information table and made numerous publications available. Publications covered such topics as Transportation Rights, Voting, Accommodations in the Courts, Regional Center Services and Entitlements, Special Education, Conservatorship, and Employment Rights. The parade route began at the Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County and concluded at the Silicon Valley Independent Living Center, where the festivities took place. As participants marched, they chanted, “Disabled and Proud, Say it Loud!”

Fresno Regional Office: Empowering the Asian Community on Voting Rights

On April 27, 2010, ten consumers attended a training about cuts to regional center services and voting rights at the Empowerment Institute. Connie Cha, Executive Director, greeted Disability Rights California staff and provided a tour of the new center. The Empowerment Institute was established in 1996 as a one stop resource center for the Asian community and other minorities with disabilities and their families. The agency supports people with disabilities in maximizing participation in the community; helps individuals to direct their own lives; offers access to health, social and vocational services; and provides interpretation and translation services in Southeast Asian languages.

Lisa Navarro and Leilani Pfeifer, Multicultural Affairs Outreach staff, presented information about regional center service cuts. Mazie Moua, Administrative Assistant provided Hmong interpretation. The training was interactive and engaging. Thovinh Banh, Staff Attorney and Daniel Meadows, Developmental Disability Peer/Self Advocate (DDPSA) gave participants information about their voting rights. Different role-playing scenarios gave everyone an opportunity to understand their rights and the voting process. The participants were really excited to learn that they could make a difference!

Los Angeles Regional Office: “Improving the Lives of People with Disabilities” At the 2010 Abilities Expo

The 2010 Abilities Expo has grown into one of the largest, one-stop resource event since its beginning in 1979. The event takes place every year in different parts of the state. This year, Mary Rios, Multicultural Affairs Advocate, and Beatriz Garcia, Administrative Assistant from the Los Angeles Regional office, attended the event on April 9-11 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Abilities Expo was sponsored by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and approximately 6800 participants attended. For the last 30 years, Abilities Expo has been dedicated to educating and improving the lives of Americans with disabilities, senior citizens, families, caregivers, and healthcare professionals. The event featured assistive technology such as accessible vehicles, mobility devices, and accessible computers. Workshops included “Tips to Low-cost Home Modifications,” “Benefits to a Canine Companion,” and many more. Activities for families and children were offered. Disability Rights California staff provided information about our services and many recipients thanked us for supporting the event.

Sacramento Regional Office: Summer Fun at the Special Education Carnival

This summer, the Travis Airforce Base-Airman & Family Readiness Center hosted a family carnival which focused on community resources for children who need special education services.
For the last couple of months, Sacramento Regional Office staff worked with advocates from the Airman & Family Readiness Center to prepare for the event. The center assists active duty military members by providing a wide range of services and information. Some of the families assisted include children with various disabilities.

Each month, the Center hosts a disability resource event, and in July, advocates and military personnel organized a carnival. Families learned about resources available to them from the surrounding Solano County area. Many families were transferred to Travis Airforce base from around the country and are unaware of resources available in the local community and need assistance accessing those services.

Sacramento Regional Office staff participated in the carnival and handed out brochures, special education CDs and more. Jose Arroyo, Informational and Referral Advocate, conducted on-the-spot intake, gathering information and making referrals.

In September, the Regional Office plans to jointly host an advocacy training for military families. The training will cover rights to special education, regional center services and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Disability Rights California looks forward to providing ongoing training and advocacy support to these families.

San Diego Regional Office: Parents Learning About Their Children’s Rights to Services

On May 28, Griselda Delgadillo, Multicultural Affairs Advocate, presented a special education training to approximately 30 Spanish-speaking parents from “Arcoiris,” which means “Rainbow” in Spanish. Arcoiris is a support group established in Garden Grove, Orange County by Cecilia Mercado. Cecilia is also a member of Fiesta Educativa and an employee/parent of Team Advocates Special Kids (TASK). The support group brings together parents of children from different disabilities throughout Orange County and provides ongoing support. A majority of the families have young children, from birth to three years old, and are new to the service system.

Parents had several questions about the process, including how the evaluation and assessment process worked and when they could ask for an independent educational evaluation if they were not satisfied with the one performed by their school district. Parents asked for more information, noting they would have additional questions once they began the process.

Native American Share Their Culture in Southern California
Soaring Eagles Pow Wow

On June 27, San Diego Regional office staff, Griselda Delgadillo, Multicultural Affairs Advocate, Phyllis Preston, Native American Affairs Advocate, Katherine Philbin, Legal Secretary and Ivan Guillen, Intake and Referral Advocate, participated in the Soaring Eagles Pow Wow. The event was hosted by the Southern California American Indian Resource Center Inc. (SCAIR), a not-for-profit organization that provides educational and community services for Native American Indians in San Diego County. The pow wow brought tribal groups together to explore how to preserve traditional cultural tribal ways. They showcased displays of artistic creations, such as Indian sculptures, paintings, apparel, personal adornments and jewelry. Participants sampled the traditional fry bread, Indian tacos or popovers, soups and stews.

Disability Rights California provided information about the services we offer to families who have members with disabilities. Families who stopped by the table to pick up our brochures and publications were very appreciative of our participation at the event.

Native American Affairs: New Partnerships in Northern California

The Native American Advocate Training is results from a new partnership between Disability Rights California and California Indian Legal Services (CILS). CILS Acting Program Director, Alex Cleghorn and Program Director Delia Parr joined Sacramento Regional office staff Phyllis Preston, Native American Affairs Advocate and Leilani Pfeifer, Multicultural Affairs Coordinator in the collaboration.

The training focused on special education, cuts to regional center services and housing rights. California Indian Legal Services staff presented on special education. Participants role played to practice using the information learned. Later that afternoon, Jay Koslofsky, Senior Attorney, discussed housing rights and finally Andy Holcombe, Client’s Rights Advocate, outlined the effects of cuts to services provided under the Lanterman Act.

Many of the advocates in attendance worked with families living in remote areas of northern California, where services are scarce. The advocacy skills they learned at the training will help them better serve people with disabilities in these underserved areas.

Approximately 30 advocates from Shasta, Butte, Trinity, Lake, San Joaquin and Mendocino counties attended the training at the Wins Conference Center in Redding, California. It was sponsored and hosted by the Redding Rancheria Tribal Government. With the new partnership, our goal is to increase awareness of disability rights and access for Native Americans residing in remote or low-income communities.

Office of Clients’ Rights Advocacy: Consumers Play Clients’ Rights Mega-Bingo!

Participants traveled from the far away foothills and distant cities to interact with and enjoy a fun day with their peers at the Self-Advocacy Council 6 quarterly meeting, held on August 6 at Enslen Park in Modesto. Over 250 people attended from Stanislaus, San Joaquin, Tuolumne, Calaveras and Amador counties.

The Office of Clients’ Rights Advocacy’s (OCRA) Leinani Walter, Clients’ Rights Advocate, Filomena Alomar, Assistant Clients’ Rights Advocate, and Gail Gresham, Supervising Clients’ Rights Advocate, led the activities using a self advocacy learning game called “Clients’ Rights Mega-Bingo.” Self-Advocacy Council Board members and Area Board 6 staff who also attended were happy to help out. Participants packed the community hall, yelling out answers and ideas about clients’ rights throughout the game. Participants really enjoyed themselves. OCRA staff developed colorful paper bingo cards. Self-advocates/participants received prizes during the bingo game. As the hot afternoon approached, it was time to end the day. Prizes were passed out to everyone, such as small flashlights, dry erase boards/pens, pencils, pens and plastic folders.

Emergency Preparedness Training held at Alta California Regional Center

Jackie Coleman, Clients’ Rights Advocate, and Elizabeth Kennedy, Assistant Clients’ Rights Advocate, provided Emergency Preparedness training to 35 Alta California Regional Center consumers at the Easter Seals Day Program. Easter Seals offers services that are individualized, family-focused and tailored to meet the specific needs of each community served.

At the training, consumers gave examples of different types of emergencies, such as a fire, an earthquake, or a flood. OCRA discussed the importance of feeling safe and steps to take to be safe, including a discussion of the items consumers should keep in a bag or backpack. Next the group played bingo and called out the names of items from pictures that OCRA showed the consumers. These included items such as flashlights, identification, medication, and food. When a row filled up on a bingo card, the player called out “SAFETY” and won a prize. The training received rave reviews. Participants had fun and many people said they would go home and work on their own safety plan in case there was an emergency.

My Own Choice: Self-Advocacy Training

On May 13, 2010, the South Central Los Angeles Office of Clients’ Rights Advocacy (OCRA) visited the Paramount Adult School. Paramount Adult School focuses on promoting and developing leadership skills for adults with disabilities. The school focuses on self-confidence, leadership, personal advancement, and supports consumers to make independent decisions about their vocational, personal and academic choices. OCRA provided a training on self-advocacy to 14 young adult using the DDS materials, entitled “My Own Choice”. Anastasia Bacigalupo, Clients’ Rights Advocate, and Christine Armand, Associate Clients’ Rights Advocate, got students to talk about what they envisioned for themselves in the near and distant futures. The training was a success and consumers were really engaged with the material. The self advocacy message was re-enforced by having students create posters describing their life choices.

The teacher reported that many of the consumers felt good about being able to make their own choices and brought the completed “My Own Choice” worksheet to their IEP and IPP meetings.

Developmental Disabilities Peer/Self Advocacy Unit: Consumers Gather to Learn About Changes to the Lanterman Act

On June 13, a cool, breezy day in San Diego, Developmental Disability Peer Self-Advocacy (DDPSA) staff had the honor of hosting one of the opening sessions at the annual San Diego People First Conference. The event opened with an energetic presentation by Maria Marquez and Scott Barron to a crowd of 36. Jackie Chiang, from the Office of Clients’ Rights Advocacy (OCRA) joined DDPSA staff on the panel. The training covered changes to the Lanterman Act and reductions in services, as well as how they might qualify for an exemption if they don’t agree with a regional center’s decision to cut services. Maria, Scott and Jackie emphasized the importance of getting services documented in the IPP and walked participants through the appeals process. The audience enjoyed the presentation and some felt more comfortable with the process. During the session, audience members told personal stories and asked for suggestions on how to handle problems from their peers. Overall, the training was very successful.