Voting: Your Right & Your Independence

American flags symbolize the importance of the vote voting for independence & self-advocacy among people with disabilities

“Election Night at Rockefeller Plaza” Photo by: Marco Verch, in the Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons

 

Voting. It’s the right of every American citizen. Voting: It’s your right. Participating in U.S. democracy is also a unique chance to self-advocate and express one’s independence. Both of these are core values at Advancing Opportunities as well; they are at the heart of our mission and credo. All too often, however, people with disabilities find themselves excluded from this critically important process. Fortunately, here in New Jersey, information and resources on voting are available to every individual with a disability.

Voting - Its Your Right

This brochure has information to help New Jersey voters. It was developed by the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School – Boggs Center, in collaboration with Disability Rights New Jersey and the New Jersey Council on Developmental Disabilities.

 

Although the November general elections receive the greatest press (and social media) coverage, it is the primary election when the two major parties, the Democrats and Republicans nominate their candidates for the general election in November. These individuals represent a wide variety of views on important issues not only at the national level, but also (and sometimes more important) the state, county, and municipal levels. Information on the positions of the gubernatorial (in New Jersey) and other candidates are available on this special page.

 

Disability Rights NJ VotingDisability Rights New Jersey is New Jersey’s designated protection and advocacy system for people with disabilities pursuant to federal statutes intended to protect the legal, civil, and human rights of people with disabilities. The organization reminds us that people with a disability have the right to vote independently and in private. In addition, both the polling place and the machines must, by federal and state law, be fully accessible. Poll workers have been trained to offer voters with disabilities the assistance they need, but they cannot enter the voting booth or recommend a candidate. Voters with a disability may also bring a friend, family member, or agency worker to help out.

Although all voters should receive a paper sample ballot, one can also look up this information online at BallotpediaThe Alliance Center for Independence in New Jersey has many other excellent resources on its page should these be needed. General New Jersey voting information is available on the NJ Department of State website.

On Primary Election Day, June 6, 2017, Disability Rights New Jersey will have attorneys available by telephone to answer your questions concerning any disability-related voting problem you might experience. Call 800-922-7233 or e-mail Mciccone@drnj.org between 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. Disability Rights New Jersey is New Jersey’s designated protection and advocacy system for people with disabilities pursuant to federal statutes intended to protect the legal, civil, and human rights of people with disabilities.

I Voted Sticker

Oh, yes, the November general election. The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), “a convener, connector, and catalyst for change, increasing the political and economic power of people with disabilities,” has set up July 17 through 21 as National Disability Voter Registration Week, the focus of its Rev Up! campaign. More information on that and Crip the Vote will be featured in a future article in this space.

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Our Most Notable and Favorite Disability Articles for the Week Ending January 6, 2017

Gingerbread Castle in Hamburg, New Jersey

Gingerbread Castle. Although this former family amusement park in Hamburg, NJ,is now abandoned, it still tries to project its former glory and maintain dignity. The site is well looked after by local law enforcement, keeping vandalism at bay.

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.

 

 

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Advancing Opportunities job announcement of the week:

Advancing Opportunities has immediate openings for part-time Direct Support Professionals in residential care programs throughout New Jersey.

Candidates will be providing direct care to men and women with disabilities in residential support programs and group home settings. This entails includes supervision and/or assistance with personal care, daily living activities, recreational pursuits, transportation, medical appointments, or any other needs the individuals may have.

In January, we will be holding job fairs, each day from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., as follows:

  • Tuesday, January 10: Marlboro Public Library, 1 Library Ct., Marlboro, NJ
  • Wednesday, January 11: Phillipsburg Public Library, 200 Broubalow Way,Phillipsburg, NJ
  • Wednesday, January 18: 322 Rte. 46 W., Ste. 290, Parsippany, NJ.

If these locations or times are not convenient, please visit: http://advopps.org/directcare_openings

 

 

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

A New Jersey high school hockey goalie uses his mask to spread a message of autism awareness.

To build a future for their son, a Dallas couple plans $12 million community for young adults with autism.

 

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

The Sparrow sensory cart helps make Asperger’s more manageable for a teen.

 

Advocacy and self-advocacy:

This is an excellent article on going beyond the need of genetic testing and counseling, giving parents the tools they will need to accept their child’s disability and meet his or her needs, along with their own.

People with disabilities help other people with a disability.

 

Assistive technology:

 This 10-year-old girl has invented an amazing climbing mobility device.

Assistive technology finds its way to Ohio farms.

 

 

Employment for people with disabilities:

Where is autism employment heading in 2017?

 

Civil rights and accessibility:

Meet the guide dog that spies on people who ignore his owner.

The U.S. Department of Education released three new sets of guidelines today to assist the public in understanding how the Department interprets and enforces federal civil rights laws protecting the rights of students with disabilities.

 

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

A model with chronic pain offers positive insights for 2017.

Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro together brings a sense of community among the athletes and staff with disabilities.

Fans at a heavy metal concert make way so a man with cerebral palsy so he can have a place near the stage.

 

 

Disability awareness and appreciation:

A review of positive depictions of blindness in popular culture in 2016.

An advocacy organization enumerates the most noteworthy depictions of autism in the arts.

An autism documentary is planned for early 2017 on A&E.

 

Beauty, fashion, glamour people with a disability:

Adaptable, fashionable clothing worthy of a male model in a wheelchair.

 

Medical news – research:

Genes affecting our communication skills relate to genes for psychiatric disorder.

The Genius of Braille: A Real Eye-Opener

Louis Braille was a disability advocate for the blind.

Louis Braille (1809-1852)

In 1809, on January 4, Louis Braille was born.  At age 5, the curious boy was blinded in an accident with one of his father’s tools.  However, Louis refused to let his disability stop him from getting the most of life.  As a teen at the Royal Institute for Blind Youth in Paris, he self-advocated by developing the system of writing that, to this day, bears his name.  In his honor, the 4th of January has been declared World Braille Day.

Braille’s alphabet consists of a series cells containing, in a 2 x 3 grid, as a raised dot or a blank space. Though there are only six dots or spaces, they can be combined in 64 different ways, allowing for other characters, including letters from the alphabets of other languages.  In other words, braille is not a language, but a code for transcribing many other languages.  Nowadays, there are two main types of braille: Grade 1 and Grade 2.  Grade 1 is a functional letter-by-letter transcription of text.  Grade 2 uses combinations of letters in a single braille character, allowing for much shorter documents; it is the most widely accepted form of braille.

braille-alphabet-2

 Br The basic braille alphabet consists of cells of six dots, raised in a variety of combinations and permutations. There are also symbols for punctuation and letter combinations.

Braille provides access to written communication for blind people, in other words, accessibility beyond physical means such as access ramps.  In other words, braille is a form of inclusion, allowing everyone to participate in an important aspect of society, regardless of their disability.  In creating the braille system for reading and writing for the blind, Louis Braille was advocate and self-advocate for people with disabilities par excellence.  And for his part in developing the braille writer, Louis Braille was also one of the great assistive technology specialists of all time.

 

 

brailler-4

The braille writer creates the raised dots for braille text rather than printing individual letters or characters. As with the typewriter, the basic layout of the braille writer has been incorporated in modern assistive technology braille input devices.

“Access to communication … is access to knowledge, and that is vitally important for us if we [the blind] are not to go on being despised or patronized by condescending sighted people. We do not need pity, nor do we need to be reminded we are vulnerable. We must be treated as equals—and communication is the way this can be brought about.”

—Louis Braille

 

 

 

Living with “Everyday Asperger’s”

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Everyday Aspergers, by Samantha Craft

A little girl, a free spirit, loved to spend hours absorbed in the sights, sounds, and smells of nature.  She saw herself as a caterpillar, “set free upon endless green, nibbling at the gifts before her.”  That is, “until the rain came.”  Caterpillar became Butterfly, lovely and able to reach great heights.  However, as she did so, her world became both smaller and larger.  Everything was unfamiliar and ever-changing.  With all that was good, also came evils Caterpillar had never known.  Yet she was able to see “Caterpillar Land,” and realized that “butterflies don’t have to let go of the caterpillar to fly.”

In the same manner, Samantha Craft goes between adulthood and childhood, relating each one to the other.  The challenges of Butterfly are those of an autistic woman on the higher end of the spectrum – Asperger’s.  Craft offers 150 vignettes of “everyday Asperger’s,” providing an insight into living with – and ultimately accepting – the condition.  Though most of the time, Craft speaks as Butterfly, in some of the pieces, she ventures into memories of her childhood and teen years, when she was Caterpillar.  These vignettes are not in chronological order.  I fact, at times they seem random, a reflection of the thought process of someone with ADHD, a condition that often accompanies autism.  Yet, everything is held together by the book’s theme of describing life with “Everyday Apserger’s.”

Early on, Craft refers to herself as “an autistic woman” and “an Aspie,” not “a woman with autism” or “a woman with Asperger’s.”  These conditions are not something she has; they are who she is.  This is the essence of the neurodiversity movement, as described by Craft’s colleague, Steve Silberman, in his groundbreaking book, NeuroTribes.

Craft writes with a spirit of humor and warmth, both of which are present even in her darkest moments.  Craft earned respect and gained a following with her essay, “Ten Traits (Females with Aspergers,” which is included here.  Since then, more and more women (and men) with Aspergers have recognized themselves, identifying with Crafts adventures and misadventures, and Everyday Aspergers is the product of ten years of such essays.  “This journey is all about my identity,” says Craft.  “I’m trying to figure out how Asperger’s defines who I am as an individual.”  This early essay sets the tone for such questions as what role she would like to play, as an alien dropped down from “Planet Aspie” to a world in which they are wired differently.  Or is she different?  Most likely, in keeping with the theme of neurodiversity, we are all different.  That said, Craft still acknowledges the importance of people with Asperger’s in recognizing when they commit social faux pas and how to best adapt to society at large and find peace within themselves.

Disability Self-Advocates Sought for New Jersey Transportation Study

transport-study

The Arc of New Jersey and the Rutgers Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation are collaborating on a research study about how adults with disabilities use different modes of transportation. They are seeking self-advocates to share their stories about how they get around and their hopes for future transportation systems.

Participants will answer questions in a brief interview conducted by members of the New Jersey Self-Advocacy team. The answers will be used to develop a report about the positive and negative aspects of current transportation options.

To learn more about the project, contact NJSAP@ArcNJ.org or call Lorraine Seid, at 732-749-8514.

Our Most Notable and Favorite Disability Articles for the Week Ending September 2, 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.

Fosterfield's Hay Rake

With summer almost over, this hay rake will soon be put to use to gather hay to feed the animals for the winter. This is one of many agricultural implements on displayed – and actually used – at Fosterfield’s Farm. Fosterfield’s is a living historic farm in Morristown, NJ, accurately re-creating 19th century farming. Photo: Daniel L. Berek

 

 

Advancing Opportunities job announcement of the week:

Advancing Opportunities is hiring caring and committed residential services pros!  If you live in central New Jersey and are interested, please stop by our open house on September 7, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.  You can also apply online.

 

 

Special education (including college for students with disability):

Learning Ally launches program for blind and visually impaired students.

Tips for children with dyslexia, from a dyslexic author.

Most children who learn more than one language gain valuable skills, and researchers say this may also be true for children with autism.

 

 

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

Inspired by a desire to help her grandmother with Alzheimer’s remember important family days, a teen creates a “timeless” app.

 

 

 Advocacy and self-advocacy:

A blind 25-year-old woman is starting Harvard Law School to make a difference for others: “I had to advocate for myself every day.”

ACI, the New Jersey Alliance Center for Independence offers workshops to encourage people with disabilities to learn about the issues, self-advocate, and vote.

 

 

Assistive technology:

A talented young engineer creates affordable and versatile assistive technology device to help paralyzed people take a sip.

 

 

People with a disability in the arts:

A supremely talented artist and photographer born with severe birth defects creates masterpieces… with her feet.

A young photographer uses his creative photography to document and cope with his depression.

 

 

 Disability awareness and appreciation:

“Disabled people don’t exist to make non-disabled people feel better.”

A ten-year-old autistic boy writes a poem about how he feels; his teacher and parents are astounded.

 

 

Beauty, fashion, glamour people with a disability:

 Fashion designers who create clothes for people with disabilities are profiled.

An orphan girl with Down syndrome is now a fashion model for a major store.

 

 

Medical news – research:

Researchers have charted the human cerebral cortex in unprecedented detail, adding to what is known about the brain’s bumpy outer layer.

 

 

 Employment for people with disabilities:

A new report shows continuing gains in employment among people with disabilities.

Our Most Notable and Favorite Disability Articles for the Week Ending August 5, 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.

Historic Speedwell - Factory Building and Waterwheel

Historic Speedwell, Morristown, NJ: The factory building was built in the late 1820s to support a cotton mill. The waterwheel is located in the smaller structures in the foreground. It was in this house that on January 11, 1839, Alfred Vail and Samuel F.B. Morse held the first public demonstration of the electromagnetic telegraph. Photo: Daniel L. Berek, 2016

 

 

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

 News: “NJ’s Early Intervention System Remains Robust and Ready to Help”

The A. Harry Moore School, a Jersey City, N.J., school that serves students between the ages of 3 and 21, is at the forefront of what experts say is a broader move to supplement special education with technology.

 

 

Special education (including college for students with disability):

Here are some ways in which to help a child with a learning disability cope with anxiety about going back to school.

Most children who learn more than one language gain valuable skills, and researchers say this may also be true for children with autism

 

 

Inspirational and Informative (or Both!):

Many men with autism are happy and lead independent and productive lives.

 

 

 Advocacy and self-advocacy:

A Ukrainian model in a wheelchair advocates for all people with a disability in her country.   She was recently interviewed recently on AXS Chat.

 

 

Assistive technology:

An important research study, “Accessing the Value of Accessible Technologies for Organizations,” highlights the importance of accessibility in the workplace.

A new Google voice-activated app helps people with many disabilities.

Gestype is a new phone keyboard for people with visual impairment.

 

 

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

Many women with ADHD also feel lonely.

China’s Hou Bin aims to “reach new heights” at the 2016 Rio Paralympics.

 

 

Medical news – research:

Children with autism, ADHD, and OCD all show similar disruptions in their brain structure.

“Princeton University and Simons Foundation researchers have developed a machine-learning approach that for the first time analyzes the entire human genome to predict which genes may cause autism spectrum disorder, raising the number of genes that could be linked to the disorder from 65 to 2,500.”

 

 

Employment for people with disabilities:

One entrepreneur shares what he has learned by hiring more employees with disabilities.

 

 


Animals and animal therapy:

Here’s a beautiful story of how a service dog changed the life of a boy with autism and helped his family.

Beloved children’s writer Laura Numeroff introduces her new book, Raising a Hero, about training a service dog.