Dela, on her wheelchair, taking a walk through Chinatown with a friend
In This Issue
Bridgett Brown: Disability Rights Advocate
Suicide Prevention Forum
Video Competition
Toolkit for Returning Veterans
Survey for PWD
Public Meeting on Service Animals
Japan Earthquake Relief for PWD
Help ILRCSF provide Community Access Tickets to PWD
ILRCSF Benefits Workshop Schedule
Quick Links

The Advocacy Newsletter of ILRCSF


In this month's issue of DELA, we hear from ILRCSF's Eligibility Specialist, Bridgett Brown, who has agreed to discuss her experience as a person with a psychiatric disability dealing with law enforcement. Bridgett, who has been with ILRCSF for over 15 yrs, has worked closely with a group called Stomp Out Stigma providing  sensitivity training to Bay Area police officers who are on the job, and to cadets who are still undergoing police training. Bridgett also sits on an advisory panel to the SF Police Commission, which recently announced plans to roll out a team of specially trained police officers to address crisis situations involving suspects with mental illness



 This issue also includes information about an upcoming public meeting in San Francisco regarding service animals, a video competition that focuses on people with diabilities and recreation, links to important resources and events pertaining to veterans, and information about the recent natural disasters in Japan, and how the relief effort is reaching out to people with disabilities.





Bridgett Brown


Eligibility Specialist, Disability Rights Advocate, Poet, Person Living with a Disability


My experience with the police has been interesting, and not what some people might expect.


About 15 years ago I felt I was about to have an episode. My psych disability  is episodic. I work full time, have an apartment, manage my finances, spend time with friends - all the things that everyone else does. I have episodes, though, often triggered by stress. These episodes are infrequent - as I've grown older, years and years can go by between them. But they take a toll on me.  I've learned to recognize the warning signs. I think a lot of people with psych disabilities do this - learn to listen to what their minds and bodies are telling them. So I knew the signs, and felt the best thing for me would be to check into the hospital.


Believe it or not, when I went to the hospital and explained what I was going through, I was turned away. I was told that I wasn't in crisis, which was ridiculous. That's where this thing about people with disabilities being the best experts on their own needs comes in: I knew that I was about to crash, and I was trying to make sure that I was in a safe space when it hit. I was an adult and I'd taken care of myself for a long time, already, by then. There I was, trying to explain that I could feel an episode coming on, and the people at P.E.S. (Psychiatric Emergency Services) were advising me to make an appointment with my doctor to have my meds adjusted. It didn't make any sense, and it only added to the stress I was already experiencing.


Later that same day, it was just as I'd known it was going to be. A full-on episode. I was confused and scared, but also irritated because I'd tried my best to do what I knew was right for me, only to be turned away at the P.E.S. door. Even though I was having an episode, I knew I wanted and needed medical attention. In my confused state I ended up at a building that I thought was the hospital - it had a big set of double doors and an awning. There were even names of doctors listed on the directory. I tried to get in thinking "This is a hospital - a safe place. This is where I need to be until this passes." Of course, it wasn't a hospital, at all. It was a residential facility for senior citizens. The people inside heard me knocking loudly on the doors and must have called the police.


I know people probably have a set idea about what someone with a psych disability is like when they're experiencing an episode or a break, but people are different. For me, even though I was exhausted, confused, scared, and angry I was also rational enough to know that my best bet at getting the help I knew I needed would be by trying to communicate with the police. When they showed up on the scene and asked me to leave, I told them that I was sick and asked them to call my family. They did that, and my parents explained that I had a history of mental illness and that I should be taken to hospital, as I was asking. I don't have much memory of my trip to the hospital, but I do remember that I wasn't handcuffed or treated like a crime suspect.



Unlike some people, who have had very negative experiences with law enforcement, I felt the police officers who answered that call really wanted to help me. Not everyone has been as lucky as I have. I think it's important that anyone planning to become a police officer actually get a chance to sit down and meet the people in the community that he or she will be working to protect - including people with psych disabilities. This is why I became involved with Stomp out Stigma. Stomp Out Stigma facilitates sensitivity training for police officers and cadets. What I like about this program is that it's not just a bunch of cadets reading a chapter in a book about mental illness. It's about people like me - people with psych disabilities, standing up and telling our stories, and answering questions. It's about breaking down barriers and giving these officers a chance to ask questions that they might never get to ask, otherwise.


The most common question I'm asked at these police trainings and workshops is, "What is it like?" People want to know what it feels like when I'm experiencing an episode. I tell them what my experience is like - my warning signals, my physical symptoms, that kind of thing. More importantly, I tell them that no two people are exactly the same, that there are all sorts of psych disabilities and that these disabilities present in different ways to different people. I also tell them that there are some basic, common sense practices they can put into place, and questions they can ask themselves. For instance, I know I tend to get very loud when I'm having an epsiode. This is because one of the symptoms I experience is hearing sounds and voices in my head. These sounds drown everything else out, and I have to speak loudly to even hear myself. A police officer who's not thinking about this as a possibility might assume that someone who's screaming at them is being aggressive, and he might act rashly on that assumption. If he knows, on the other hand, that a person with a psych disability might need be loud in order to hear himself, and is not necessarily trying to be aggressive, it could certainly help the officer make a decision about how to act that doesn't escalate the situation.


I enjoy this part of my work as a disability rights advocate. I think it's important for those of us with disabilities to tell our stories and become involved in our own communities.  I actually have a good friend who's a police officer. His son has a psych disorder. Having a friend who's open about her disability has been helpful to him, as a parent. I also think his personal circumstances have helped him in his police work.



Suicide Prevention in Veterans: A Community Forum


Join Bob Basker Post 315 on

Sunday, May 1, 2011

From 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM

At the historic

San Francisco Veterans Building

401 Van Ness Ave, Room 223

This community forum could

save the life of someone you know.

Guest Speaker

Mark Stalnaker, Ph.D.

Staff Psychologist & Suicide Prevention Coordinator

San Francisco VA Medical Center

Free of Cost, Refreshments Served

For more information please call 415-255-7331 


Video Competition


Attention, filmmakers! The National Center on Physical Activity and Disability is sponsoring a video contest entitled, "How do you get enough?" NCPAD is a nonprofit organization focused on physical activity and health promotion for people with disabilities.


Being physically active is good for everybody. This is especially true for people with disabilities who tend to participate in less physical activity, carry excess weight, and have higher rates of chronic heart disease and other health conditions. The intention of this video contest is to illustrate to society that people with disabilities can live healthy active lifestyles, as well as to share various ways to get physical activity into the lives of individuals with disabilities and activity limitations.


Whether it's indoor or outdoor, recreational or competitive, solo or team, easy or intensive, show us (and the rest of the world) how you (successfully or unsuccessfully) get enough activity in a 1- to 10-minute video clip! See the video contest rules and entry form atžion=1593 .  For a sample video, please visit


Valuable Resource for Returning Veterans

Service members transitioning to civilian life can now receive online career counseling and training through a new service recently launched by the Department of Defense. 

Career Decision Toolkit was developed by the Office of Wounded Warrior Care and Transition Policy to assist service members who are wounded, separating, demobilizing, or retiring as they seek jobs or educational opportunities.

The Toolkit includes an array of assessment tools and information regarding career paths, financial planning, job search skills, and other subjects of interest to service members transitioning to civilian life.

For more information on the online Career Decision Toolkit, visit or contact the Office of Wounded Warrior Care and Transition Policy at 703-428-7649 or


People with Disabilities - Your Opinions are Needed!

Please take 5 minutes to fill out this brief survey. A team of researchers at the University of Michigan have developed a short "snapshot" survey of people with disabilities to ask them about their identities and their experiences.

Go to:

Your input will help us to better understand how people with disabilities view their lives and the society in which they live. Together, these surveys may lead to positive change for people with disabilities in a number of different ways. We appreciate you taking the time to participate in this important research effort, and please feel free to pass along this information to anyone you think may be interested!

Please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns at

You can also learn more about who we are and this project at the following website:


Public Meeting on Service Animals

The San Francisco Mayor's Office on Disability is hosting a public meeting on the topic of service and emotional support animals to clarify the various disability rights laws that apply to this issue and to educate the disability community about  rights and responsibilities.  We want to hear from the community about the benefits of service or support animals and what, if anything you would like to see changed in the City of San Francisco.  We want to hear YOUR story!

Date:                 May 23, 2011 2:00 - 4:00 PM

Location:         San Francisco City Hall, Room 400


For more information or to request accommodations for the meeting please call Joanna or Ken at 415-554-6789 voice, 415-554-6799 TTY or e-mail



Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief: Helping People with Disabilities

To support people with disabilities affected by the Tohoku-Kanto Great Earthquake on 11 March, DPI-Japan, JIL, Yumekaze Foundation and other DPOs have established "Relief Headquarters for Persons with Disabilities of Tohoku-Kanto Great Earthquake".

The site is now available In English, and there is downloadable information available in several languages.

To make a donation, please visit the following site.


Help ILRCSF provide Community Access Tickets to our consumers

Community Access Ticket Service (CATS) provides cultural, recreational and educational experiences to tens of thousands of people though partnership with hundreds of social-service organizations.  These types of experiences represent positive socialization and community integration opportunities that are otherwise unavailable.  CATS has successfully provided these experiences to over 300,000 people since 2004.

ILRCSF is trying to raise $375 to purchase a one-year membership to CATS, which would enable us to provide free tickets to museums, plays and other cultural events to consumers. To help us make the CATS program a part of what ILRCSF has to offer people with disabilities, please specify on the note section your donation check, "CATS."

Donations may be sent to:


649 Mission Street, Floor 3

San Francisco, CA 9410

ILRCSF Benefits Workshop Schedule


ILRCSF offers two different workshops on benefits:


1. Basic Benefits Overview

2. How Employment Affects your Benefits - for those on SSDI &/or SSI


All workshops are on Thursdays at 9:30am. However, only one topic - basic benefits or employment -- is covered each Thursday.   Please attend the workshop that best suits you. For example, if you need information about applying for SSDI, SSI, Medi-Cal or other benefits, come to the Basic Benefits Overview workshop.  If, on the other hand, you already receive SSDI or SSI and are considering going to work, come to the workshop entitled How Employment Affects Your Benefits. At this Employment Workshop you will learn how to use work incentives to keep some of your benefits as you transition into a job, as well as how to use the PASS program, and Ticket to Work. To hear the schedule of upcoming workshops, call 415-543-6222 ext. 155.


Upcoming workshops:




April 21           

Basic Benefits Overview

April 28           

Basic Benefits Overview




May 5 

How Work Affects Your Benefits - for those on SSI &/or SSDI

May 12           

Basic Benefits Overview

May 19           

How Work Affects Your Benefits - for those on SSI &/or SSDI

May 26           

Basic Benefits Overview




June 2           

How Work Affects Your Benefits - for those on SSI &/or SSDI

June 9           

Basic Benefits Overview

June 16          

How Work Affects Your Benefits - for those on SSI &/or SSDI

June 23          

Basic Benefits Overview


NOTE: ILRCSF is wheelchair accessible and provides reasonable accommodations upon request. In order to be fully accessible to all people with disabilities, ours is a scent-free office.


When visiting ILRCSF, please do not wear any scented products, including perfumes, aftershave, hairspray, etc.

The Independent Living Resource Center San Francisco is a 501(c)3, not-for-profit organization. Donations from the public support our mission to ensure that people with disabilties are full social and economic partners both within their families and within a fully accessible community.
Tax deductable donations may be sent to:
649 Mission Street, 3rd Floor,
San Francisco, CA 94105
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