AOTA’s Older Driver Safety Awareness Week: For Seniors Seeking Assistance & Guidance

Categories: Guest Blogger, Transportation

AOTA Older Driver Safety Awareness Week Logo - Living Life to Its Fullest Occupational Therapy
By Elin Schold Davis, OTR/L, CDRS, Project Coordinator for the American Occupational Therapy Association’s Older Driver Awareness Week

Through AOTA’s Older Driver Safety Awareness Week (Dec. 5—9, 2011), The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) along with AAA, AARP, The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc. and other organizations, are raising awareness of ways to keep seniors safe on the road for as long as possible, and of resources available to maintain independence if driving is no longer an option.

Driving is a very difficult activity that requires certain physical, visual and cognitive abilities. As people age, those abilities often change in subtle ways. For example, older drivers may find it more difficult to see while driving at night, so they reduce night driving and plan their trips primarily in daylight.

Most of us go to the doctor for regular physical check-ups. It’s also just as important to get a check-up for driving fitness. After all, for most of us, driving is our main way to stay connected to the community and is a key to our independence.

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Celebrating 25 Years of the Air Carrier Access Act

Categories: Transportation

A photograph of a person in a wheelchair at an airport kiosk.
Reposted from Fast Lane, the Official Blog of the U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood

At the Department of Transportation (DOT), we are committed to improving access for everyone to our transportation systems, and ensuring that all passengers receive the respect they deserve before, during and after their trips. One of the most effective tools for pursuing these goals is the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), the landmark law that prohibits discrimination in air travel on the basis of disability.

Last month, representatives of the aviation industry, advocates for persons with disabilities and current and former government officials gathered to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the ACAA. This celebration was hosted jointly by the DOT, the Air Transport Association and the National Council on Disability.

The Air Carrier Access Act, enacted in 1986 and signed into law by President Reagan, is one of the most significant civil rights triumphs in our nation’s history.

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AOTA’s Older Driver Safety Awareness Week: Starting the Conversation with a Parent or Loved One

Categories: Caregiving, Guest Blogger, Transportation

By Guest Blogger Elin Schold Davis, OTR/L, CDRS, Project Coordinator for the American Occupational Therapy Association’s Older Driver Awareness Week 

A Photograph of Older Adult's Hand Holding a Car Key
Why dedicate a week to older drivers? The concern for their safety and independence is greater now than at any other time in our history. More than 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 each day, a trend that is expected to continue for the next 19 years. And by the year 2040, one in five Americans will be 70 or older. 

The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) along with AAA, AARP, The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc. and other organizations are raising awareness of ways to keep seniors safe on the road for as long as possible. We are also working to let people know about resources to help seniors maintain their independence through mobility options. 

AOTA’s Older Driver Safety Awareness Week is December 5-9, 2011, and it is our hope that during this time, families of older drivers will start conversations about important topics related to driving and older Americans, such as driving safety, when to stop driving and transportation options for seniors who can no longer drive safely.

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Celebrating the International Day of Persons with Disabilities - December 3, 2011

Categories: Civil Rights, Guest Blogger

Picture of Judith Heumann, Special Advisor for International Disability Rights, Department of State
By Guest Blogger, Judith Heumann, Special Advisor for International Disability Rights, Department of State

On the eve of December 3, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, it is worth noting that 2011 also marks the 30th anniversary of the International Year of Persons with Disabilities. Much has happened to advance the rights, equality and inclusion of persons with disabilities since the International Year was adopted by the United Nations (UN) in 1981. International Decades of Disabled Persons have been adopted by the UN, the Asia Pacific region, the Americas and the African region, advancing activities to combat discrimination on the basis of disability. 

In 1990, with its adoption of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the United States became the first country in the world to adopt national civil rights legislation unequivocally banning discrimination against persons with disabilities. A global pioneer, the ADA has inspired adoption of disability rights legislation around the world, including the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The CRPD is the first international treaty to comprehensively address the rights of persons with disabilities, and has unified the global community with a common language of disability rights.

In celebrating this year’s International Day, and in a spirit of reflection, the State Department is hosting a screening of the Independent Lens film, “Lives Worth Living.” This documentary charts the history and rise of the disability rights movement in the United States. It shows how far we have come in striving for a society where persons with disabilities can live their lives on their own terms, through access to education, employment, transportation, political participation and other fundamental spheres of life. It also demonstrates the power of unity, and how historically marginalized members of civil society can claim their place as agents of change in championing rights and freedoms, not only for themselves but for all people. 

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Observing World AIDS Day

Categories: Guest Blogger, Health

World AIDS Day LogoBy Miguel Gomez, Director, AIDS.gov

Today, December 1, we commemorate World AIDS Day. This has been a year of reflection as we marked the 30th anniversary of the first reported cases of AIDS on June 5, 1981. AIDS is still here, and it affects all of us in the U.S. and around the world. AIDS has been, and continues to be, an important issue for the disability community, which has worked diligently to end stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS and ensure that they have access to job skills training, employment services, housing and other supportive services.

This year has also been a year of hope; the result of key scientific and policy advances that now make it possible for us to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Now, it is time to look to the future.

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“No Boundaries” Education

Categories: Education, Guest Blogger

CAST Universal Design for Learning Logo
By Patricia K. Ralabate, Ed.D., Director of the National UDL Center, and David Gordon, Director of Communications at CAST and co-editor of A Policy Reader in Universal Design for Learning (with Jenna W. Gravel and Laura A. Schifter, Harvard Education Press, 2009)

In reading and reflecting on Disability.Blog’s No Boundaries Employment Series, we are inspired by the many stories of individuals who have overcome many barriers to enjoy meaningful and productive careers. And we know that meaningful careers begin with excellent education for everyone – a “no boundaries” education.  

The goal to expand learning opportunities for all individuals is gaining ground in education policy, practice and research through the growing field of universal design for learning (UDL). As Harvard Law School Dean and civil rights champion Martha L. Minow has written, “Universal design for learning is one of the few big and truly transformative ideas to emerge in education over the past two decades.”

What is UDL? In 2008, Congress defined UDL in the Higher Education Opportunity Act as “a scientifically valid framework for guiding educational practice that (a) provides flexibility in the ways information is presented, in the ways students respond or demonstrate knowledge and skills, and in the ways students are engaged; and (b) reduces barriers in instruction, provides appropriate accommodations, supports and  challenges, and maintains high achievement expectations for all students, including students with disabilities and students who are limited English proficient.”  

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No Boundaries Photo Project: Adil Sanai, Merchandise Floor Associate

Categories: Employment, No Boundaries Employment Series

A Photograph of Adil Sanai Working at a Clothing Department Store
Advancements in technology have dramatically changed the lives of individuals with disabilities, not only improving their independence, but also helping them accomplish tasks more efficiently. For Adil Sanai, technology gave him a voice.

Born in 14/G-D, Okara, Pakistan, Adil immigrated to the United States with his family in 1999. After spending more than 15 years of his life unable to stand, walk or even close his mouth, he underwent multiple surgeries to correct complications from cerebral palsy. “In Pakistan, my family carried me everywhere we went,” Adil shared through his Chat PC, a hand-held augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) device. “I was very determined to have a better life in the United States.”

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Career Connection Series: A Closer Look at the Ticket to Work Program

Categories: Career Connection Series, Employment, Guest Blogger

Can you explain how the Ticket to Work program works? And what services a person with a disability would have to go through to find a job.

My Employment Options For Job Seekers with Disabilities and Other Challenges

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

If you are a person with a disability that receives benefits through the Social Security Administration and wants to work, you are in luck. Not only are free job placement services available to you through the Ticket to Work program, but employers are eager to hire through this program to create a more diversified staff and receive tax credit incentives. Many employers are hiring for seasonal jobs right now to handle the holiday rush!

What is The Ticket to Work program? This is a voluntary program that is designed to let a person with a disability try to return to the workforce, without sacrificing their benefits. If you are between the ages of 18 and 64 and receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), you are automatically eligible to participate in the Ticket to Work program.

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Family Caregivers Need Access & Training on Assistive Technologies

Categories: Caregiving, Community Life, Guest Blogger, Technology

Family Caregiver Alliance, National Center on Caregiving Logo
By Guest Blogger Kathleen Kelly, MPA, Executive Director, Family Caregiver Alliance, National Center on Caregiving

As the demographics shift to reflect an aging population, innovation abounds in the area of developing new assistive technologies to make life tasks easier for an individual with disabilities or for a family caregiver. How can you find out about existing or new technologies? One answer is finding information on the Internet, and a recent online survey of caregivers provides some insight into this question.

Recently, the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation in the Department of Health and Human Services embarked on a project entitled, “Accelerating Adoption of Assistive Technology to Reduce Physical Strain among Family Caregivers of the Chronically Disabled Elderly Living at Home.” A large title – and charge – to figure out the best ways to match assistive technologies to specific needs and then, get those technologies into the hands of family caregivers to use.

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America: It’s Time to Get Seizure Smart! What You Learn Could Save a Life

Categories: Guest Blogger, Health

The Epilepsy Foundation's Get Seizure Smart logo
By Guest Blogger Tony Coelho, Epilepsy Foundation Interim CEO

November is National Epilepsy Awareness Month and the Epilepsy Foundation’s national initiative – Get Seizure Smart – is a grassroots public awareness campaign aimed at getting information about seizure first aid and recognition into the hands of as many Americans as possible, so they will know how to respond if they see someone having a seizure. Even though epilepsy is the most common neurological disorder affecting all age groups, it is still largely misunderstood by the general public.

This year, another 200,000 people will be diagnosed with epilepsy, and an estimated 25,000 to 50,000 will die of seizures and related causes. Some people live well with controlled seizures, while others – approximately one-third of Americans with epilepsy – have seizures that are resistant to medical treatment. It causes many people to live with constant anxiety, wondering when the next seizure will strike. No age group or demographic is exempt. It is estimated that 1 in 100 children will be diagnosed with epilepsy before age 20, and the number of cases in the elderly continues to soar as the baby boomer generation approaches retirement age. Currently, more than 570,000 adults ages 65 and older in the United States have the condition.

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