The Advocacy Newsletter of ILRCSF
A Message from ILRCSF Executive Director, Jessie Lorenz
Dear Friends of ILRCSF,
2011 will surely go down in history as the year the 99% woke up and began to "Occupy" public spaces, demanding an end to oppressive conditions. But for us in the Disability Rights community, this is not an entirely new idea. After all, in April of 1977, the San Francisco Federal Building became the site of what would become the longest occupation of a Federal Building in US history. For 45 days, people with disabilities demanded enforcement of the first major law to bar discrimination against the disabled - Section 504 - and we won. We did that. Yes, the Independent Living movement knows a little something about occupation.
As the late, great father of Independent Living, Ed Roberts, once said, "Most psychiatrists and service professionals who work with us tell us that anger is a bad thing...a stage to get over or something that we need to overcome. But anger is a powerful energy. We don't need to suppress or get over our anger, we need to channel it into making change for the greater good." His words could not be more timely. In a year that has us facing deep cuts to social spending, we know that this means that people in our community have their very lives at stake while the gap between the rich and the poor widens daily. There is, indeed, much cause for anger.
In 2011, ILRCSF worked to channel that anger in several ways. First, following the retirement of our previous Executive Director, Herb Levine - himself a participant in the 504 sit-in - we launched The Herb Levine Legacy Fund, a donor-driven program which makes small grants to grassroots projects that focus on disability rights, consumer empowerment, accessibility, and Independent Living at the local level. Next, we continued our work to ensure the FAIR Education Act, which guarantees the history of people with disabilities and the disability rights movement are included in the public school curriculum, is not overturned, and that the Act is successfully implemented. Additionally, we are part of a coalition promoting the Longmore Amendment, named for another luminary of the disability rights movement whom we lost this year, the beloved Bay Area historian and scholar, Paul Longmore. It will enable people with disabilities to accept academic scholarships and fellowships without fear of losing their health benefits, a fight Paul began and one we intend to finish. And finally, in partnership with other agencies and labor unions, we organized several rallies and protests to the proposed cuts in services for people with disabilities, both strengthening the ties between ourselves and other marginalized communities, and asserting that people with disabilities are a part of the 99%.
As we approach 2012, I am heartened by seeing my brothers and sisters with disabilities out in the streets, right alongside the rest of the world, paving the way for a better future. It is an exciting time to be alive and independent. We at ILRCSF thank you for all you do and we hope that you will continue to support our work by making as generous a year-end gift as you are able. Do it because we are not finished yet - do it because, as Ed said, we must once and for all, "Let the shameful wall of exclusion finally come tumbling down."
ILRCSF's Device Lending Library
One of the newest jewels in ILRCSF's crown of services and resources we make available to the public is the Device Lending Library, or DLL. Managed by Derek Zarda, the DLL provides consumers with an opportunity to borrow all types of assisted technology, and use it for 30 days. This is a great way to test drive various forms of AT before making a decision to buy. It's also a good way for consumers to make sure they have the AT they need, while their own equipment is being repaired or serviced.
While the DLL includes some very high-tech items, such as Ipads, netbooks, hand-held GPS devices, and electronic note takers, we also have some great low-tech devices; tried and true pieces of AT that are no less important or effective than sophisticated electronics. One of the items that are in most demand are our portable ramps. These are perfect for special events, or to bridge the gap while one's home is being modified.
The DLL is part of the Assistive Technology Network, which means that we are able to lend out AT to people outside of San Francisco.
To read more about the DLL, check out the piece Derek wrote for the AT network's website.
|211: The Bay Area's Best Kept Secret|
Have you ever wished there was one place you could contact to find out about the different types of resources that are available to you in the community? ILRCSF has lots of resources specific to people with disabilities who want to pursue or maintain their independence. We don't however, run a food bank, or a job training program. We don't offer legal assistance or run an after school program. When consumers ask us for advice on where to turn to address these and other issues, we use 211 to locate appropriate services that are closest and most convenient for them.
What is 211?
211 is telephone information line/online database that provides people with up-to-date information on a wide range of human services available to them. It is free to use, and callers may choose to remain anonymous. Operated by The United Way, an organization that has set the national standards for Information and Referral services, 211 is a valuable tool that many people are unaware of.
How does one reach 211?
Just dial 211 from any phone. If a service or resource is available in your area, the 211 operator will be able to provide you with not only contact details, but specific details about accessibility, hours of operation, and what you may need to bring with you or have ready when you call or visit.
What happens when I dial 211?
When you call 211, an Information and Referral specialist will introduce herself and ask you some questions about what you're looking for. You do not have to provide your full name, but it's best to answer any questions being asked. The answers you provide will help make it possible for the 211 Information and Referral Specialist to connect you to resources and services that best meet your needs. By providing the information you're asked for, you may find that there are services and resources available to you that you'd never even thought of.
If you have internet access, you can access the Bay Area 211 database online, and perform your own search, by city or Zip code.
|Holiday Activities in San Francisco|
San Francisco is a beautiful place during the holiday season. Whether you celebrate Chanukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, New Year's Eve, or are simply looking for fun and affordable activities for you and your family as the year winds down, there is definitely something out there for you.
About.com's San Francisco site has an entire column dedicated to free holiday events in The City.
The San Francisco Chronicle's SF Gate lists every type of event and activity you could dream of - from street fairs, to comedy shows, to bowling.
Fun, Cheap SF boasts an up-to-date list of events and activities throughout the Bay Area that are all either free or very low-cost.
Goldstar offers tickets to area events and performances at a huge discount - sometimes free.
Last, but certainly not least, The San Francisco Public Library offers a rich array of events, including readings and performances, exhibits, and classes. The SFPL also offers a wide range of Accessibility Services. It's one of The City's gems, and one of the rare places that has something for everyone.
Senior Meal Site Holiday Schedule
|IPads as AT: How To Afford One|
Ever since Apple introduced the Ipad, people have found uses for it that Stave Jobs probably never imagined. Parents of children with autism were among the first to recognize the Ipad's potential. Unlike purpose-built communication devices that perform just one function, the number and type of functions of the Ipad is only limited to the number and types of apps produced for it. Add to that the fact that the Ipad, while not inexpensive, is more affordable than most dedicated communication devices. Unfortunately, health insurance does not cover the cost of an Ipad, for the simple reason that it was not initially intended as a therapeutic or communication device for people with autism. How, then, does one go about getting an Ipad for ones' child, without breaking the bank?
Autism Advocate Laura Shumaker has shared some ideas for parents that may well bring their children closer to accessing this technology. As is the case so often in the disability community, Ms. Shumaker has been industrious and creative, and come up with some interesting and original methods for connecting people with AT that can help with communication and learning, and be an overall benefit to quality of life.
If you're thinking about getting an Ipad, please remember the Assistive Technology Network and ILRCSF's Device Lending Library.
ILRCSF Ecionomic Empowerment Workshops:
Benefits and Work Incentives
ILRCSF has two staff members who focus on Economic Empowerment. They provide information, support and advocacy regarding benefits and eligibility, work incentive programs, and emergency rental assistance programs.
Economic Empowerment staff work one-to-one with many consumers on specific topics and goals. They also lead two different types of group workshops every week:
1. Basic Benefits Overview
2. How Employment Affects your Benefits - for those on SSDI &/or SSI
For most consumers, attending a group workshop is the best way to begin working with ILRCSF's Economic Empowerment staff.
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.
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 called 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.
January 2012 Schedule
January 5 Basic Benefits Overview
January 12 How Work Affects Your Benefits
January 19 Basic Benefits Overview
January 26 How Work Affects Your Benefits
NOTE: ILRCSF is wheelchair accessible and provides reasonable accommodations upon advanced 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.
|ILRCSF Holiday Hours|
ILRCSF's offices will be closed on Friday, December 23 and Monday, December 26th.
We will also be closed on Friday, December 30th and Monday, January 2nd.
ILRCSF staff and board wish our friends a happy and healthy New Year.
The Independent Living Resource Center San Francisco is a 501(c)3, not-for-profit organization. Donations from the public support our workshops, one-to-one services, multi-cultural outreach, advocacy and systems change work, the Herb Levine Legacy Fund, and this newsletter. Please consider making a donation to help us keep offering information, support and advocacy to people with disabilities.
Tax deductible donations may be sent to:
649 Mission Street, 3rd Floor,
San Francisco, CA 94105
You can find out more about ILRCSF by following us on the Internet: