Voting for ALL
By: Mary Jacob
Voting is one of our nation's most fundamental rights and an assurance of our democracy. Yet for too long, many people with disabilities have been excluded from this core aspect of citizenship. People with disabilities have been prevented from voting because of prejudicial assumptions about their capabilities. Important federal civil rights laws were enacted to prevent such forms of discrimination and protect the fundamental right to vote for all Americans. These laws and a brief overview are:
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal civil rights law that provides protections to people with disabilities that are similar to protections provided to individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age, and religion. Title II of the ADA requires state and local governments ("public entities") to ensure that people with disabilities have a full and equal opportunity to vote. The ADA's provisions apply to all aspects of voting, including voter registration, site selection, and the casting of ballots, whether on Election Day or during an early voting process.
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA) also contains provisions relevant to the voting rights of people with disabilities. The VRA requires election officials to allow a voter who is blind or has another disability to receive assistance from a person of the voter's choice (other than the voter's employer or its agent or an officer or agent of the voter's union). The VRA also prohibits conditioning the right to vote on a citizen being able to read or write, attaining a particular level of education, or passing an interpretation "test."
The National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA) aims, among other things, to increase the historically low registration rates of persons with disabilities. The NVRA requires all offices that provide public assistance or state-funded programs that primarily serve persons with disabilities to also provide the opportunity to register to vote in federal elections.
The Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) requires jurisdictions responsible for conducting federal elections to provide at least one accessible voting system for persons with disabilities at each polling place in federal elections. The accessible voting system must provide the same opportunity for access and participation, including privacy and independence that other voters receive.
Individuals with disabilities should be encouraged to vote at every election. However, in order for them to vote - they must first register.
How to Register to Vote:
Registering to vote is done in many different ways. Individuals can go to the Registrar of Voters Office in person, or by mail or even on-line at www.geauxvote.com. In most cases you will need some form of official identification and proof of residency. Occasionally neighborhood groups might sponsor voting signup fairs and even most governmental agencies offer individuals the opportunity to sign up.
Anyone with a disability is eligible to vote UNLESS you are under a judgment of full interdiction or limited interdiction with suspension of voting rights. If you would like to vote in this upcoming election on October 24, 2015, the registration deadline was September 23, 2015. However, with the probability of a run off on November 21, 2015, individuals are encouraged to still register. The deadline to register to vote in the run off is October 21, 2015.
Preparing to Vote:
Good citizens take voting seriously and do their homework before Election Day. This includes learning about all the candidates, constitution amendments, and propositions. There is no right or wrong vote. Individuals with disabilities need to think about their own values, how they would like to live, where they'd like to live - not so much geographically, but in an institution, group home or community, and things that are important to them. Then you need to use that information and compare it to the candidate beliefs and what the constitution amendments and propositions truly mean if they are passed. It's also important to know where you go to vote. At the end of this article will be some links to important resources that may help you in making decisions on Election Day.
How to Vote:
You have a few options on how you'd like to vote. The most common way people vote is going to the voting polls on Election Day. If needed, you have the right to an accessible voting booth and/or assistance of another individual. Another option is early voting at the Registrar of Voters office. This is usually done a couple of weeks before the election and perfect for individuals that might not be able to make it to the polls on Election Day. The final way is to vote by mail. This is referred to as absentee voting. Many deployed military people do this because they cannot be there in person to cast their votes. However, if you have health reasons or other problems that prohibit you from voting in person, this may also be an option for you. Even though it isn't required, I recommend everyone bring an official state identification card or driver license with them when they go to vote.
Every year elected officials make decisions that impact everyone in our state. Part of the process to impact those decisions is your right to vote. Elected officials like to hear from their constituents. These are the people that vote them into office. If you are not registered to vote or don't exercise your right to vote, you basically have very little, if any, voice with these elected officials. Don't give up that right by not registering to vote or not voting during all elections.
www.geauxvote.com- Gives you a complete list of all qualified candidates, register to vote, general voter registration information and more.
Secretary of State - Provides you with information on your voting precinct by name or address and party affiliation.
Sample Ballot - Allows you to search for sample ballots by parish and precinct. Candidate Surveys - Candidate Surveys - The Advocacy Center sent surveys to all candidates for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Secretary of State, State Representative and Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to find out more about their thoughts on issues impacting people with disabilities.
If at any time you have problems with registering to vote or voting, the Advocacy Center has a hotline to help. Call 800-960-7705 for assistance.
Check out these other great articles we've provided for you this month:
Operation House Call
In our second article from parents for parents, Andrea Chauvin writes about her experience as a volunteer parent working with pediatric residences. Andrea's son is diagnosed with Autism and she recognizes how important it is for doctors to treat the whole child - not just the current ailment.
"The residents have been able to see first hand, our extra locks on the exterior doors, alarms on windows and bedrooms and other measures we have had to take to keep our son safe. They have learned about many of the school system challenges we have faced and just how exhausting advocating can be, just to get the mere basics of what our son needs. We have discussed obstacles when shopping, traveling, dining out and socializing with his peers and our own. These are discussions that do not take place in a typical pediatric visit."
To read more about Andrea's experience with Operation House Call, please click here
Want to contribute to Family Ties? This section is dedicated to parents or other family members that want to contribute family friendly articles for others. These articles should be directly related to your experience as a parent, sibling, or other family member of an individual with a disability. To submit an article for consideration, please send it to Liz Dumas at [email protected] All articles will be reformatted. Pictures in the format of jpeg are highly encouraged.
Learning Opportunities by FHF
Educating and Training
- October Workshops -
Wednesday, October, 14, 2015, 10:00 am - 12:00 pm, East Bank Regional Library, 4747 W. Napoleon Ave., Metairie, LA - Driving with a disABILITY: Do you have a disABILITY? Do you want to learn to drive? Come find out what you will need to do, how to prepare, driving requirements, and much more. To register call 504-888-9111 or toll free 1-800-766-7736.
- October Webinars -
Thursday, October 8, 2015, 11:00 am - 12:00 pm - History on IDEA and A Brief Overview of Special Education for Parents and Families: Understand the basics of Special Education and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This course will explain how the process of special education works, including Child Find, and Response to Intervention (RTI); making a referral; what to expect from an evaluation; how to prepare for an Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting and how to resolve disputes.
Friday, October 9, 2015, 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm - Parents of children with disabilities often ask, "How will I know my child is learning and making progress?" This workshop helps parents answer that question as they learn how to gather information from special education and general education sources. Parents learn how to use this information to help their child.
Wednesday, October 14, 2015, 8:00 pm - 9:00 pm - Supports, Modifications, and Accommodations for Students: For many students with disabilities-and for many without-the key to success in the classroom lies in having appropriate adaptations, accommodations, and modifications made to the instruction and other classroom activities. Join us as we explore and discuss various options and examples of support available to help your child become successful.
Friday, October 16, 2015, 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm - Section 504 Accommodations for the Classroom: This webinar will look at Section 504 of the Vocational Rehabilitation Act, which forbids discrimination on the basis of disability. Ideas for using a Section 504 Plan to access educational services for a student who needs them, but does not qualify for special education, will be presented. Accommodations and modifications for the classroom will also be discussed.
Tuesday, October 20, 2015, 11:00 am - 12:00 pm - Do you know what PPEP is? Parent Pupil Education Program: This is a statewide program For Families of Children with Hearing Loss. So join us to get informed of their great services that can be helpful to you.
Wednesday, October 21, 2015, 11:00 am - 12:00 pm - Supports, Modifications, and Accommodations for Students: For many students with disabilities - and for many without - the key to success in the classroom lies in having appropriate adaptations, accommodations, and modifications made to the instruction and other classroom activities. Join us as we explore and discuss various options and examples of support available to help your child become successful.
Thursday, October 22, 2015, 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm - Progress Monitoring: What Does it Mean and what do Parents Need to Know? Progress monitoring is the process of evaluating student performance using assessments on a repeated basis to determine how well a student is responding to instruction. Information gained from progress monitoring is essential to developing quality IEP goals, and planning and delivering effective intervention. Specific examples of progress monitoring will be shared.
Friday, October 23, 2015, 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm - New Opportunities for Students in Pre-Employment Transition Services - the promise of WIOA (Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act). WIOA adds a new section to the Rehabilitation Act which requires each state to provide, or otherwise arrange for the provision of, pre-employment transition services for all eligible students with disabilities. This includes: job exploration counseling; work-based learning experiences (e.g., in-school or after school opportunities including internships) in an integrated environment to the extent possible. To learn more for your high school child join us in the informational session.
Learning Opportunities Provided by Others
Education and Training
FHF thinks it is important for individuals to be armed with enough information to either assist or make decisions around disability issues that impact your life or that of a family member. Therefore, we are happy to share the following training opportunities others are doing around the state. Please note we do not handle registration for these opportunities.
The Louisiana State Personnel Development Grant (LaSPDG) is hosting a series of webinars in October 2015. All webinars will begin at 10:00 am. The topics include:
October 7 - Data Based Decision Making: Analyzing School Level Discipline Data. Presented by: Monica Ballay
October 14 - Culturally Responsive Practices: A Discussion of Effective Behavior Intervention for Challenging Students. Presented by: Daniel NoackLeSage, One Step At A Time Behavioral Services, LLC
October 21 - Inclusive Practices: Co-Teaching Observations and Coaching. Presented by: Dr. Richard Villa
- Family Engagement: Partner with Families with Low Income for High Student Achievement. Presented by: Dr. Joyce Epstein Click here for more information
October 5, 2015 - PEAK Autism Conference, Baton Rouge, LA: Susan Stokes, M.A., CCC-SLP, Educational Autism Consultant - "Whodunit!" Unraveling the Mystery of Social Relation Skills for Student/Child with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Practical Uses of Technology for Assessment and Intervention. Click here for more information
October 16 - 17, 2015 - Childcare Association of Louisiana 2015 Fall Education Conference, West Baton Rouge Conference Center in Port Allen, LA: We have a great line-up of speakers on early childhood education and a track for owners and directors on Friday, October 16th and a track for owners, directors and teachers on Saturday, October 17th. Click here for more information
October 20, 2015, Greater Baton Rouge Resource Information Workshop, 9:00 am - 2:00 pm, Jones Creek Library, 6222 Jones Creek Rd., Baton Rouge, LA:
Learn about services and supports for Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs. Click here for more information
Education and Training
If you've ever done an internet search on a topic, you know first-hand how difficult it is to sort through the thousands of links that come up with the search. Below is a list of some of our favorite links for the month that others have shared with us. We hope you find them as informative as we did.
- Quality Health Care for Children with Special Health Care Needs: Quality is a key factor when families, employers, and Medicaid agencies choose and pay for health care for children with special health care needs. Family Voices has identified the following principles to help assess quality systems of healthcare for CSHCN.
El hostigamiento entre los niño nunca se debe permitir: Hay ocasiones en que un niño se dedica a agredir, intimidar o atormentar a otro niño sin descanso. Usualmente los niños que son agredidos de este modo son más débiles o más pequeños, sufren de timidez y se sienten indefensos.
Bullying: It's Not OK: Bullying is when one child picks on another child again and again. Usually children who are being bullied are either weaker or smaller, are shy, and generally feel helpless.
- Helping Your Child with Test-Taking - Helping Your Child Succeed in School: You can be a great help to your child if you will observe these do's and don'ts about tests and testing
- TEEM Academy provides employment services and advocacy through our unique job readiness and job placement program. We put humanity to work!
Bill Would Increase Access To Special Needs Trust
- This Bill would allow individuals with disabilities to create a trust fund under their own name. Under current law, it must be created by a family member, grandparent, legal guardian, or the court.
- 3rd grader starts school year with speech about autism - At the start of the school year, Jackson Cook, a third grader from West St. Paul, spoke to his class. He shared with them what it is like for him to have autism, how his brain works differently, and how this can affect his behavior. Watch a video of Jackson's speech and the reaction he received from the kids in his class.
Learning Disabilities (LD) Awareness Month
- Learning Disabilities Awareness Month (October) is a time where people pay special attention to children and adults with learning disabilities. During this month, Reading Rockets asks each of you to teach one person one new thing about learning disabilities. If you find an interesting article or resource here, consider passing it along to a friend, family member, or colleague.
Legislative Advocate wanted for Jefferson Parish
Louisiana Developmental Disabilities Council and Families Helping Families of Jefferson is looking for a dynamic, outgoing person that knows how to build relationships and have a passion for people with disabilities.
This is not your every day job - this is a passion to use your talent to bring legislators into the world of disabilities and help them understand why disability services need to be funded.
Louisiana Citizens for Action Now (LaCAN) is a statewide grassroots network of individuals, families and advocates who have worked together since 1988 advocating for a service system that supports individuals with disabilities to live in their own homes rather than having to be segregated from their communities in a facility to receive support. Specifically, they have advocated for implementation of Louisiana's Community and Family Support System Plan.
The Jefferson Parish LaCAN Team Leader:
- Serves Jefferson Parish and should be a resident of Jefferson Parish
- Works 50 - 60 hours a month
- Starting Pay is $10 - $12 hr.
The LaCAN Team Leader will:
- Develop the Grassroots Network - Leaders recruit new members.
- Maintain the Grassroots Network - Leaders develop relationships with their members, keeping them informed, connected, encouraged, and engaged in advocacy activities.
- Lead the Grassroots Network - Leaders develop relationships with their local Senators and Representatives and serve as a model for interaction with these policymakers.
- Support the Grassroots Network - Leaders serve as a link between their members and the policymakers who represent them.
Applicants should have:
- Excellent verbal and written communication skills
- Strong organizational skills
- Be proficient in Microsoft Word and Excel
- Have public speaking experience (Paid or Unpaid)
- Reliable transportation
- Ability to travel to Baton Rouge when necessary
- Have an unwavering belief that people with disabilities shouldn't be segregated.
- Priority will be given to an individual with a disability, a family member and current LaCAN members.
If you think you have what it takes, please send your resume to [email protected] This position is NOT a Families Helping Families of Jefferson position - but support, supervision and office space is provided by FHF of Jefferson.
Bi-Lingual Education Advocate Needed
Families Helping Families of Jefferson is searching for an education advocate that is fluent in reading and speaking Spanish and English to support parents of children with disabilities and youth with disabilities. This is a full time 40 hr a week position. Paid holidays, vacation and sick leave.
Over 500 already registered to be Superheroes against Bullying!
5K and Fun Run against Bullying
Saturday, October 3, 2015
LaSalle Park & Zephyr's Parking Lot
6600 Airline Highway, Metairie, LA
8:30 am - Fun Run
9:00 am - 5K
On-site Registration opens at 7:30 am.
- On Site Race Day Registration
- Free Food & Drinks
- Free Beer
- Live Music by 5eaux4
- Awards for 5K winners
- Superhero against Bullying wristbands for everyone
- Dress up as your favorite Superhero!
- Custom Banner for all schools with 50 or more registrants.
- Prize for Top Fundraising Team
- Prize for Top Fundraising Individual
Newell Normand, Sheriff, Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office and Isaac Joseph, Superintendent, Jefferson Parish Public School System
Equip Sports Performance
Jefferson Parish Councilman Paul Johnston
Jefferson Parish Councilman Elton Lagasse
Elmer Chee Wees
Guillory's Deli and Tamales
Gulf Coast Bank and Trust
Hannis T. Bourgeois
Honorable Michael Yenni
New Orleans Zephyrs
Olister's Napoleon Room
Unglesby & Williams, a Collaborative Law Firm
X-Trainers Personal Training
Cynthia Lee-Sheng, Jefferson Parish Councilwoman
Representative Nick LoRusso
The Jefferson Chamber of Commerce
Tim Walker, Chief of Police, Harahan
Unity of Metairie
Sponsorship Opportunities are still available.
Extensive Lending Library
Families Helping Families has an extensive lending library. Books, dvds and more are here, free of charge for families and professionals to check out. You are welcome to come and browse our library during our office hours, Monday through Friday, 9 am to 4 pm. If you cannot make it into our office, you can see a complete list of our inventory and any item can be mailed to you. Just click here to see a complete list of items in our lending library.
Before you buy it - check to see if we have it!
Changing Lives. Every Day.
Success Story of the month.
Every day we hear wonderful things about the work we do for individuals in the community. One of the things that keep us going daily are the success stories we hear.
Father becomes stronger advocate for his Son! After feeling like he was getting the run around and needed guidance regarding his son's educational rights, Mr. Selim contacted FHF.
Developmental Disabilities Services Directory
The Office for Citizens with Developmental Disabilities provides supports and services through a variety of locations throughout the state to support the dignity, quality of life and security in the everyday lives of people with developmental disabilities and their families, acting as the Single Point of Entry.
OCDD Central Office
Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals
Office for Citizens with Developmental Disabilities
628 North 4th Street
Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70802
PO Box 3117, Bin #21
Baton Rouge, LA 70821-3117
Waiver Registry Dates
As of September 28, 2015 the following dates have been reached on the waiver registry, a.k.a the waiting list.
New Opportunities Waiver (NOW) - 8/18/2004
Children's Choice Waiver - 3/31/2006
Supports Waiver - 11/3/2012
Not sure where you are on the registry? Call 1.800.364.7828.
Invest in the future of FAMILIES HELPING FAMILIES of JEFFERSON.
Become a stakeholder by supporting ALL disabilities of ALL ages, by making a one time gift, or monthly contributions. You will be making a difference to large outcomes!
FHF is a 501 (c) 3 not for profit organization. In addition to our grants and contracts we depend on the generosity of individuals like you. All donations are tax deductible.
In addition to cash donations, there are many other ways you can show your support. Click here
to learn more about how you can help. With your support, we will have the strength and resources to help Louisiana residents improve their lives.
State Employees Can Now
Invest in FHF
Through Payroll Deductions
Families Helping Families of Jefferson and Louisiana Parent Training and Information Center is a 2015 Louisiana State Combined Charitable Campaign (LA SCCC) Charitable Organization.
Our LA SCCC code to designate donations to FHF is 1020.
Federal Employees Can Now
Invest in FHF
Through Payroll Deductions
Families Helping Families of Jefferson has been approved for inclusion in the 2015 Combined Federal Campaign (CFC). Any federal employee anywhere in the United States and overseas can designate their tax deductible donation to Families Helping Families of Jefferson.
Our CFC code to designate donations to FHF is 85990.
OTHER places to find us:
Visit the Families Helping Families Booth at the following events:
- Tuesday, October 13, 2015, 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm, THE PARENTING CENTER SCHOOL FAIR - Children's Hospital Auditorium, 200 Henry Clay Avenue, New Orleans, La. 70118
A Little Lagniappe:
A little of this and a little of that - more stuff that might interest you.
- Jefferson Parish Human Services Authority - Regional Advisory Committee for Development Disabilities currently has openings for self advocates or parents of individuals with developmental disabilities. If you are interested in becoming a member of the JPHSA RAC, please contact Mary Jacob at [email protected]
The Louisiana Rehabilitation Council was established in compliance with federal regulations governing the Rehabilitation Act (P.L. 102-569). The LRC works with Louisiana Rehabilitation Services (LRS) to ensure the involvement of individuals with disabilities in the development and delivery of vocational rehabilitation services to Louisianans with disabilities. The Louisiana Rehabilitation Council Meetings are quarterly held in different areas of the State. Please take note all meetings are open public forum. The meetings scheduled are from 2015/2016:
October 29-30, 2015 - Baton Rouge, Marriott Hotel
January 28-29, 2016 - Baton Rouge, Embassy Suites
April 28-29, 2016 - Baton Rouge, Embassy Suites
July 28-29, 2016 - Baton Rouge, Location to be determined
If you would like to be considered for membership on the Council or would like more information about the LRC, you can contact Paige Kelly (225) 219-2947 or toll free at 1-800-737-2958. E-mail: [email protected]
- Save the Date! Saturday, November 7, 2015 - Autism Society Conference 2015 "Lassoing for Autism" - McNeese State University, Lake Charles, La. Keynote: Dennis Debbaudt Click here for more details
- Friday, October 9, 2015, New Orleans Treme Center, 600 N. Villere St., New Orleans, LA 70116, #YouthSpeak Talent Showcase - What does injustice look like to you? How will you stand up against it? IN RECOGNITION OF YOUTH JUSTICE AWARENESS MONTH and the hundreds of youth who are taken from their communities and enter the justice system of Louisiana, the #YouthSpeak Talent Showcase will be a night for you to display, perform, and share art responding to the questions above. Click here for more information
Click here for a list of Staff or Board Members
Families Helping Families of Jefferson is your one stop shop for disability information. We are the only family resource center for individuals with all disabilities, all ages and their families in Jefferson Parish. We offer services across the lifespan.
Louisiana Parent Training and Information Center (LaPTIC) is a program of Families Helping Families of Jefferson and a grant from the US Department of Education; Office of Special Education (OSEP) as Louisiana's official and only statewide federally funded Parent Training and Information Center.
Two Groups You Want to JOIN!
LaCAN is a statewide grassroots network of individuals, families and advocates who have worked together since 1988 advocating for a service system that supports individuals with disabilities to live in their own homes rather than having to be segregated from their communities in a facility to receive support. Specifically, they have advocated for implementation of Louisiana's Community and Family Support System Plan. To join or learn more about LaCAN,
LaTEACH (Louisiana Together Educating ALL Children) is a statewide grassroots advocacy network created for the purpose of effecting systems change. LaTEACH promotes appropriate, inclusive education for all students. LaTEACH works to make parents, educators, the general public, and state leadership informed and supportive of research-based and effective practices used appropriately for each student. To join or learn more about LaTEACH,
Connect with FHF and be in the KNOW!