The Advocacy Newsletter of ILRCSF
Knowledge is power. How many times have you heard this phrase? Have you ever thought about what it really means? In the near future, ILRCSF will be giving consumers opportunities to learn about a wider range of subjects that support Independent Living. We're working on this because we really believe this phrase: knowledge is power. This month's issue of DELA focuses on the power of information, how being informed supports people in their quest to be independent, and how information is most useful when it's shared. We've got some great stories about how consumers are turning knowledge into power at ILRCSF, how YouTube is changing the way people learn, useful links to online classes that are free to the public, a link to a wonderful interview with Ed Roberts that's a must for anyone who wants to know more about the disability rights movement, and lots more.
Knowledge, Power, and Independent Living
People come to ILRCSF because they want to establish or maintain their independence. When folks ask me what we do for people at ILRCSF, I usually explain that we don't do things for people, we provide them with the support and information they need to do for themselves. We're all about helping people find out about their options, and their rights...about expanding their knowledge in a variety of areas, so that they can plan the lives they want.
In order for readers of DELA to get an idea of what we do at ILRCSF, and how crucial information and knowledge are, when it comes to making informed choices, I asked some ILRCSF staff members to discuss their experiences working with consumers.
Aine Casey - Work Incentives Coordinator :
"Most people who attend my workshops are surprised to find out just how many options they have, when it comes to paid work. Depending on their particular benefits package, most consumers I meet can do some part-time work, or even return to work full time for a trial period, without the risk of losing their safety net. Most of them can lock in their healthcare, too. There's no hard and fast rule but, once I know exactly what a particular consumer's situation is, I can inform him of just what his options are. One example of this is Lee, a consumer who had been out of work and collecting Disability benefits for several years, due to a chronic condition."
Lee first attended a workshop at ILRCSF because he was was starting to feel stronger, and really wanted to get back to work. He had a job offer on the table, and wanted to give it a try, but he was afraid: what if he went back, and found that it was too much? How would he be able to support himself if he gave up his Disability benefits, only to find himself unable to work full time? At Aine's bi-weekly "How Work Affects Your Benefits" workshop, he learned that people who wanted to return to work did, in fact, have options. After the workshop, he met with Aine to discuss his specific circumstances. He learned that he could return to work full time to on a trial basis, and test the waters. If it proved too much for him within six months, he could forego the job without losing his Disability benefits. Lee accepted the job offer without fear, and is now a working full time.
Victoria Tedder - Housing Coordinator
"Housing is definitely an area where knowledge is power, especially in San Francisco, where rents are high and accessible units are few and far between. People who attend my weekly housing workshop, or meet with me one-to-one need information, not just about waiting lists and apartment searching, but about their rights as tenants. I meet with a lot of consumers who live in Section 8 housing, and one issue that's come up is the difference between assets and income. If you live in Section 8 housing, and a relative passes away and leaves you money, as long it's below a certain threshold, it counts as an asset, and not income. People living in Section 8 are allowed to have assets. Some consumers are afraid they'll lose their Section 8 housing because of a one-time bequest, but that just isn't so. Another housing issue where knowledge is power is Rent Control, and how it protects tenants in San Francisco."
Anna and her partner of ten years co-signed a lease in a rent-controlled apartment and lived together for seven years. When the relationship ended amicably, Anna stayed in the apartment. The landlord contacted Anna and told her she'd have to start fresh with a new lease, and a rent increase of several hundred dollars. Not being able to afford such a steep increase, Anna was about to start searching for a new apartment, until a friend advised her to call ILRCSF and get more information about her rights before making any decisions. She learned that the landlord had no right to increase the rent by hundreds of dollars, or demand a new lease be signed. As one of the original tenants, named on the original lease, Anna was protected by Rent Control laws. Armed with information about her rights, Anna contacted her landlord, told him she'd be staying on at the apartment she'd called home for seven years, that she had no intention of signing a new lease, and that she'd been made aware that his planned rent increase was, in fact, illegal. Anna is still in her apartment.
Derek Zarda - Device lending Library Coordinator :
"The Device Lending Library is ILRCSF's newest program, and I meet all kinds of people who have all kinds of needs. A lot of them aren't sure what they really want - that's why they're interested in the idea of trying before buying. Many people come because they're hoping to identify the right device to help them overcome a barrier at work or school. I recently met with a woman named Rosa, who had a really different type of barrier that she was looking to overcome."
In December, a wheelchair user named Rosa contacted Derek to say that she'd been invited to go on a road trip with friends who drove a van. She really wanted to take the trip, and was wondering if there was some way she could do this without her friends having to make expensive alterations on their automobile. Derek told her that among the items ILRCSF lends out from the Device Lending Library (DLL) are portable ramps, and that they are lent out to consumers free of charge. Rosa had no idea this would even be an option. She not only borrowed a portable ramp, but she sent us a postcard from The Grand Canyon. In it, she said she was having a great time, that the ramp was exactly what she'd needed, and that she'd never imagined taking an extended road trip could have been so easy.
YouTube: The Online Academy You Never Thought Of
YouTube, the online community where anyone can post a video about anything is a lot of fun. What a lot of people don't realize is that it can also be a great place to learn something new. A simple search on YouTube can illustrate just how many things there are to learn from videos posted by the public. One consumer who'd recently undergone colon surgery told us she learned more about learning to manage her condition from videos posted on YouTube by her peers, than she did from the 30-minute consultation with a Stoma nurse that her insurance covered.
English as a second language (ESL) is an area where YouTube offers a wealth of resources. Lots of people are uploading informative and educational videos, and lots of people are using YouTube to polish up on their English. An unexpected benefit from some of these videos is that they're also useful to people with speech and language delays or impediments. Rachel's English is a series of YouTube videos developed for ESL, but which people living with aphasia and apraxia are finding especially useful.
There are literally thousands of videos on YouTube that are more than just fun or entertaining. Try having a look around - be creative in your search. A good starting place is their education section, where you'll find videos of high school and university lectures, workshops, and lessons in subjects ranging from basic math to Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, to string theory. One of our favorite YouTube channels is TEDx, which features tons of short talks from TED (Technology,. Entertainment, Design) conferences that take place all over the country.
|12 Dozen Places To Educate Yourself Online For Free...and more|What would you say if I told you that you could go to college for free? How about if I told you you could do it without leaving your home? Some of America's finest universities are offering free classes on the internet. For those of us who don't have the resources or time to sit in a classroom, or who encounter barriers, when it comes to getting to a college campus, the internet is proving to be a powerful tool. This site lists 12 dozen free, online education opportunities offered by universities including Yale, Harvard, Tufts and UC Berkeley, to name a few. Another online resource we love is Project Gutenberg, which provides free access to thousands of books that are in the public domain.
Interested in learning to speak Chinese? This site lists the best online sources for children or adults who have an interest in learning a new language.
Ed Roberts: An Oral History of the Independent Living Movement.
In disability rights circles, Ed Roberts is known as the father of the Independent Living movement. During a time when people with disabilities had little or no access to higher education, student housing, or even sidewalks, Ed Roberts decided he would attend UC. Berkeley, live on campus, and enjoy student life just as other students did. That was just the start. To find out more about Ed Roberts, the Independent Living philosophy, and the disability rights movement, check out this great resource from the California State Archives.
|Attention: Changes in Paratransit Service |
The following letter was sent out to ParaTransit users in San Francisco. Please share this information with anyone who uses Paratransit.
Dear SF Paratransit Access Rider:
Recently we completed a competitive procurement process for our SF Access service and awarded a contract to MV Transportation. On January 8, 2012, MV will begin to provide these services. Mobility Plus Transportation (MPT) will no longer operate the service. You should notice no difference during this transition except the MV logo on the buses and the uniforms of the drivers. All aspects of the service will remain the same, including the fare, contact phone numbers (reservations and "where's my ride"), the reservation process and currently active standing orders. You may even see the same drivers you've been used to in the past.
As a reminder, "where's my ride" and reservations phone number is (415) 285-6945. In the unlikely event you should you need to contact the MV offices directly after January 7, 2012, their phone number will be (415) 657-1522. Should you need to contact MPT after January 8, you may call them at (415) 643-2181.
The San Francisco Paratransit office is working with both contractors during this transition to ensure that the transition between providers is seamless and transparent to you. Again, I want to assure you that your SF Access service will continue uninterrupted.
Should you have any questions please contact San Francisco Paratransit at (415) 351-7052. You may also contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Director of Operations
San Francisco Paratransit
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.
February 2012 Schedule
February 2 Basic Benefits Overview
February 9 How Work Affects Your Benefits
February 16 Basic Benefits Overview
February 23 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 Schedule|
ILRCSF's offices will be closed on Monday, February 20th, in observance of Presidents' Day.
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: