Friday, October 7, 2011

My Mind Prison

In a country that prides itself on inclusiveness some disabled populations continue to struggle to gain equality, understanding and attention. The National Association of the Deaf’s "Law and Advocacy Center" has affirmed that equal access to all medical services in hospitals and private doctors’ offices has high priority. Health providers often mistake a person who is deaf with a person who has developmental disabilities. Each of whom a has needs, but different ones. This confusion results in a lack of communication accommodations, such as sign language interpreters, that would allow for clear information sharing.

Recently the Resource Center for Independent Living’s deaf advocates LuAnn Hines and Vonne Gulak called on all advocates to make a concerted effort to compel New York State businesses and agencies to abide by the equal access tenets of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). LuAnn and Vonne are advocates for deaf individuals and businesses, helping both groups understand their individual rights and legal responsibilities under the ADA.  The ADA states that hospitals, medical and legal offices, and mental health care providers must provide qualified sign language interpreters on an as needed basis for deaf consumers. Vonne and LuAnn are familiar with the frequent refusals of many health care providers to obtain sign language interpreters and many service providers request that deaf patients bring their own interpreter. Friends and family members may not be qualified to translate complicated medical or legal language accurately and are not considered appropriate interpreters in health care  settings. By law, interpreting services must be obtained by the provider. Since sign language is usually the “first language” of deaf Americans, it is ethically imperative that deaf individuals be accommodated appropriately.

Vonne Gulak writes that “communication is the main cry of the deaf, and that lack of communication cuts people off from the world”. She observes that communication barriers prevent individuals who are deaf from “unlocking their minds” and moving on with their lives. Responding to the need by deaf individuals for health and legal related advocacy, assistive technology and suitable communication accommodations, RCIL has provided knowledgeable deaf advocates, a Lion’s Club Assistive Technology Loan program and also provides certified sign language interpreting services throughout central New York. Without a unified effort by communities to acknowledge that the differences among us need not be permanent barriers, our deaf neighbors will be seen, but not heard. 

- Kate F. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

What do Occupy Wall Street and Disability Rights have in common?

People finding their voice.

At the time of the writing, the number of people protesting in the Wall Street area is growing. Without a designated leader or specific agenda, participants are expressing their anger with corporate greed and the ineffectiveness of government. Similar protests are spontaneously emerging around the country. Where this will go, how much life does it have, and what will emerge is not clear at all. What does seem clear, however, is that people are not satisfied with a political economy that has a growing and blatant disparity between the various social classes.

As government spending at every level is reduced, unemployment remains at 9%, the poverty rate increases, and foreclosures continue. Simultaneously, many S&P companies are increasing dividends and profitability. Rancor amongst elected officials continues while the approval rating of Congress is lower than it was for O.J. Simpson during his trial.

Yes, people are angry.

They are angry at a system that is not solving problems. They are angry at government cuts that look at bottom lines without understanding the ripple effect. They are angry at the tax structure. They are angry at being “graduated” from services. They are angry at cuts in heating assistance when oil prices are up 38% from a year ago.

They are angry about not having a voice.

What is taking place on Wall Street and cities throughout the country is a demand to be heard. Everyone should listen and they should listen closely – this is what democracy sounds like.

- Burt Danovitz

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


If you are an individual who is looking for a new Medicaid Service Coordinator due to the recent changes taking place with the Central New York Developmental Disabilities Services Office (DDSO), please note:

RCIL is a provider for Medicaid Service Coordination and can assist you with this process. We are currently serving Oneida, Herkimer, Lewis, Madison, Oswego, and Onondaga Counties.

At RCIL, our mission is to ensure a fully accessible, integrated society that enables full participation by people with disabilities. We also firmly believe that you have the right to remain you. It is our goal to support you to ensure your transition to a new Service Coordination agency is smooth and your needs are met, no matter what they may be.

Please feel free to contact the following individuals to with your transition:

Bridget Ferdula – 624-2521
Michelle Murphy – 624-2546

Thank you.  We look forward to working with you.