International Day of Persons with Disabilities & “Achieving 17 Goals for the Future We Want

idpd-logo-rev-4-300

Although most awareness months and days are on a national scale, this December will feature a global undertaking to raise awareness and promote advocacy.  December 3 is the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities.  This is an effort to “promote action and raise awareness about disability issues and draw attention to the benefits of an inclusive and accessible society for all.”  Observed since 1992, this day focuses on a different theme around the world each year.  For 2016, the theme is “Achieving 17 Goals for the Future We Want.”

The objective of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities is to raise awareness of all types of disabilities and dispel archaic ideas and stereotypes and stigma, as these are often “the greatest barrier to their full and equal participation in society and development on an equal basis with others.”  Moreover, over the course of our lives, most of us will become disabled to some degree.

Nearly 1 in 7 people worldwide live with a disability.  Of great concern are the barriers they face, which prevent them from being fully included in important parts of daily life, in such areas as transportation, employment, and education.  In addition, many people with disabilities are not fully able to participate politically, a key to maintaining active citizenship in a democracy and being self-advocates for needed changes.

The International Day of Persons with Disabilities recognizes not only physical disabilities, but also mental, cognitive, and emotional disabilities.  Already a vulnerable group, these people, often face discrimination in employment and other areas of daily living or, at the very least, confront considerable hurdles to accomplishing these tasks effectively.

idpd-infographic-final

Addressing Inclusion

Last year, the theme was “Inclusion Matters: Access and Empowerment for People of All Disabilities.”  As a result, the UN earlier this year adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals to provide a greater degree of inclusion for all people with disabilities.  The UN efforts address the current status of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, an international treaty comprising eight principles:

  • Respect for inherent dignity, individual autonomy including the freedom to make one’s own choices, and independence of persons
  • Non-discrimination
  • Full and effective participation and inclusion in society
  • Respect for difference and acceptance of persons with disabilities as part of human diversity and humanity
  • Equality of opportunity
  • Accessibility
  • Equality between men and women;
  • Respect for the evolving capacities of children with disabilities and respect for the right of children with disabilities to preserve their identities.

idpd_poster_generic

And, did you know:

Coming Out Autistic – When You Don’t Believe

Coming Out Autistic – When You Don’t Believe

“Coming out” autistic is hard in any circumstance, as it involves self-acceptance. It becomes a an even greater challenge when others treat it with skepticism.

Anonymously Autistic

Coming out Autistic is hard. It’s even harder when the person in front of you doesn’t believe a word you are saying.

People who’ve known me for years say things like –

“Why are you complaining all of the sudden? You never used to talk about Autism or complain about these problems before. It’s like you’re happy to have a disability. You just want attention.” 

These people are less than half right.

Yes, people who have known me for years have never heard me complain about my sensory issues. When I was a little girl and tried to explain my problems to people nobody believed me – so I stopped.

When I was in school I was very sick. My school building’s busy environment and florescent lights were painful and made me physically sick to. The doctors told my mother that there was no physical reason for my sensory complaints…

View original post 773 more words

Our Most Notable and Favorite Disability Articles for the Week Ending November 25, 2016

At Advancing Opportunities, we excel in providing residential and respite services to people of with all disabilities, along with advocacy and education services for parents and guardians and assistive technology support.  As a leader in the field, we are pleased to share our experience, knowledge, and expertise with the disability community through our social media outlets: Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.  In our Disability and Ability Highlights of the Week column, we will select the best of what we found and shared and present them.  Please click on the titles with embedded links to find the full article.

 

Please stop by our website, http://advopps.org/, and find out all we have to offer.  In addition, we are specialists in the area of assistive technology and offer a huge array of services; the Assistive Technology Center is New Jersey’s premier source of information and equipment.

trenton-barracks

The Trenton Barracks, used during the Revolutionary War, are an important landmark in the New Jersey state capital; they are close by the main offices of Advancing Opportunities. Photo: Daniel L. Berek

 

 

Advancing Opportunities job announcement of the week:

The Director of Business Development shall be responsible for developing and implementing a comprehensive internal and external marketing and intake plan that fulfills Advancing Opportunities’ residential contract and expands the residential services throughout the state. The Director of Business Development promotes the professional development that enhances operational activities and the specialized services provided to service recipients of Advancing Opportunities.   He or she performs other duties as deemed necessary for the agency.

 

 

Required Skills and Abilities:

  • A valid non-provisional Driver’s license
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • Excellent judgment, problem solving, organizational, and time management skills
  • Excellent interpersonal skills and ability to communicate effectively with individuals with disabilities, families, co-workers, staff, supervisors, funding sources, and other social service agency personnel
  • The ability to work independently with minimal supervision
  • Excellent understanding of the legislative process
  • Ability to analyze, and report on, laws and/or government regulations
  • Ability to travel statewide
  • Demonstrated knowledge of, or ability to learn, general HR policies, practices and procedures.

 

 

Disability in the news (mostly in New Jersey, the population we serve):

A musical and theater program in Morristown, NJ, has been created for autistic children.

 

For parents of a child with a disability (parenting, special needs):

CHADD offers parents tips on preparing for the holidays with ADHD.

 

Special education (including college for students with disability):

CHADD has compiled a list of important articles on various aspects of ADHD in the news, including research and special education.

 

Civil rights and accessibility:

Examining the hate in hate crimes committed against people with intellectual disabilities

 

People with a disability in the community (disability rights and acceptance):

Bringing undiagnosed people with autism spectrum disorder “out of the shadows”

For Deaf Tennis Player, Sound Is No Barrier

 

Disability awareness and appreciation:

A man paralyzed by spinal cord injury reflects and talks about his condition and his life.

 

Beauty, fashion, glamour people with a disability:

Paralympians join top label in a bid to break fashion barrier.     Yet, why aren’t more big brands designing clothes for people with disabilities?

 

Medical news – research:

Eye-tracking measures in a recent study show that young children with autism do not avoid eye contact on purpose; instead, “they miss the significance of social information in others’ eyes.

Brain studies show that autism and ADHD co-occur more often than most people believe.

Giving Thanks, DisABLED Style

happy-thanksgiving

Things, er, people to be thankful for.  After all, in the disability community, it is really the people in our lives who make all the difference.

Yes, there are things when we think about assistive technology, for example.  There are custom-designed wheelchairs, handy smartphone apps, braille keyboards, communication devices…. However, it is the people behind these wonderful products who matter most – the people who design and build them, the assistive technology specialists who work with people of all disabilities to find the right device and counsel how to use it.

So, yes, it’s mostly about people.  And, on Thanksgiving, most of us spend time with family.  So, that is where we will start.  In most cases, it is family members who are the primary caregivers.  Caring for a son or daughter, mother or father, brother or sister, or grandparent with a disability is a round-the-clock responsibility family members undertake with the strongest sense of love.  We, at Advancing Opportunities, give thanks to all our wonderful families.

Families, however, occasionally need a well-deserved break.  Many are thankful for family support services personnel – respite workers and the like.  In, addition, the individuals themselves receive the gift of socializing with their peers, often in community settings.

And there are individuals with all disabilities in community residential homes.  The residential support professionals provide care with uncompromising dedication round the clock.  Some are working right now, as you are reading this.

There are so many other people who make life better for individuals with disabilities. Teachers and other educational professionals and assistants, for example.  Many people work behind the scenes, performing managerial and clerical work to make it all happen.  Let us not forget the generosity of the many benefactors, individual and corporate, who make it all happen.

For all these people – you – we are thankful!

Our Most Notable and Favorite Disability Articles for the Week Ending November 18, 2016

At Advancing Opportunities, we excel in providing residential and respite services to people of with all disabilities, along with advocacy and education services for parents and guardians and assistive technology support.  As a leader in the field, we are pleased to share our experience, knowledge, and expertise with the disability community through our social media outlets: Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.  In our Disability and Ability Highlights of the Week column, we will select the best of what we found and shared and present them.  Please click on the titles with embedded links to find the full article.

 

Please stop by our website, http://advopps.org/, and find out all we have to offer.  In addition, we are specialists in the area of assistive technology and offer a huge array of services; the Assistive Technology Center is New Jersey’s premier source of information and equipment.

new-jersey-national-guard-museum

An F-84 peeks through the memorial gate at the New Jersey National Guard Museum, dedicated to all service personnel who have served in the NJNG at home and overseas. Photo: Daniel L. Berek

 

 

Advancing Opportunities job announcement of the week:

Advancing Opportunities, Inc., has an immediate opening for a Human Resources Assistant.  The Human Resources Assistant will primarily be responsibilities for maintaining the HRIS database by entering all new hires, terminations, and changes, ensuring that all I-9 Forms and Driver’s abstracts are up-to-date and archiving personnel files for terminated employees. Performs other duties as from time to time are deemed appropriate.  Routinely deals with highly sensitive and confidential matters.

Required Skills and Abilities:

  • Good working knowledge of Microsoft Outlook, Word, and Excel are required.
  • Self-starter with integrity and confidence who strives to achieve.
  • Team player with well-developed interpersonal skills who is comfortable in a cross-functional environment.
  • Demonstrated aptitude to effectively learn and master new software systems
  • Excellent organizational skills to include prioritizing and managing tasks efficiently to meet established deadlines
  • Ability to maintain and ensure strict confidentiality and produce a high volume of work with a high degree of accuracy.
  • Strong customer service commitment. Must be able to relate well and cooperate with others to effectively coordinate activities and accomplish goals.
  • Solid problem solver that can identify and resolve problems in a timely manner.
  • Strong numerical ability and data entry skills and knowledge of HRIS
  • Demonstrated ability to perform well in a multi-task environment while maintaining a high level of attention to detail
  • Demonstrated knowledge of, or ability to learn, general HR policies, practices and procedures.

 

 

Advancing Opportunities News

Advancing Opportunities is planning a series of workshops for high school students with disabilities who are planning to earn a college degree or postsecondary certification. The college/carreer workshops will be held in 2017.

We believe feedback from parents like you will help us design and put into place a College/Career Institute that is most beneficial for students. The survey is available online. Thank you!

 

 

Disability in the news (mostly in New Jersey, the population we serve):

The New Jersey Self-Help Group Clearinghouse has a new Web page, a valuable source for people with disabilities in the state.

Autism grants help New Jersey families coordinate care.

The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) grants focus on youth farm safety and agricultural careers for people with disabilities

 

 

Special education (including college for students with disability):

When are the lines between assistive technology and educational technology blurred?

A forward-thinking support program helps autistic students stay in college and succeed.

 

 

Civil rights and accessibility

Transportation options for people with developmental disabilities looking for community access remain limited.

 

Informative, positive, noteworthy (or all three!):

The kindness of a child, toward her brother with autism:  At 6, she’s already an excellent disability advocate!

An interesting journal article:  Are There Alternative Adaptive Strategies to Human Pro-sociality?  The role of collaborative morality in the emergence of personality variation and autistic traits

 

Advocacy and self-advocacy:

A disability advocate tells the story of how, after he became quadriplegic, of accepting and asking for help proved a difficult challenge.

“Courage, not weakness”  On accepting support.

 

People with a disability in the arts:

A New Jersey photographer with Asperger’s has a sharp eye.

 

Disability awareness and appreciation:

“I am real, I am human, and I feel!”  Because people with autism often have difficulty in expressing emotions doesn’t mean they lack empathy.

 

Medical news – research:

Sensory abnormalities could be among the first signs of autism risk — and a target for early treatment.

Sodium channel gene takes diverging paths in autism and epilepsy.

 

I am Real, I am Human, and I Feel!

There are many ways to have and express feelings and emotions. In a neurodiverse community, these are neither good not bad. And having difficulty expressing these because of autism does not mean an autistic individual lacks feelings, emotions, and empathy.

The Aspie Teacher

Imagine that you are having a serious conversation with someone that you have been involved with for almost 20 years and they end up telling you that they don’t know what makes you happy.

How would that make you feel?

Distraught? Shocked? Beside yourself? Dumbfounded?

How about all of the above?

This scenario actually happened to me recently and it was all of the above for me. There I was with someone I had devoted my life to and this person had no idea what makes me happy.  How could this be?  I knew this person inside and out.  How could they not know me?

I had to give myself sometime to process this revelation and to figure out how this was even possible. I have encountered this type of thing before, but never at this level.

 I was told growing up that I was stuck-up just because I didn’t…

View original post 1,858 more words

Looking Back: 2016 Was a Good Year for International Disability Sports Competition

This summer, we had the Rio Summer Olympics.  Then, there were the Rio Paralympics.  And in October, the best of championship athletics for people with disabilities and the latest in assistive technology are combining forces in what is known as the Cybathlon. Among the technologies used were robotic prostheses, brain-computer interfaces, all-terrain powered wheelchairs, and powered exoskeletons.

The first international competition of its kind, Cybathlon was conceived and organized by the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule, ETH Zürich.  Founded in 1855, it counts Albert Einstein among its alumni and professors.  Cybathlon was a competition in six disciplines:

  • Powered exoskeleton race
  • Powered arm prosthesis race
  • Powered leg prosthesis race
  • Brain-controlled computer game
  • Powered wheelchair race
  • Muscle-stimulated bike race

The top moments can be seen and relived in a series of videos on the Cybathlon YouTube channel.  In the future, according to a PBS report, robotic arms and other limbs can be life-changing for our wounded veterans.

 

 

As to be expected, coverage was widespread:

  • Scientific American and the BBC brought the complex technology to the interested lay reader.
  • Swissinfo and Endgaget covered the events before, during, and after the Cybathlon, “combining innovation and competition.
  • Techradar hailed the Cybathlon as an important force that will influence the Olympic games in the future.

In short, the Cybathlon will be a critical element in promoting assistive technology for people with physical disabilities in all walks of life.