A Prayer For National Healing

By Mark Hagen

“A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

I’ve been thinking of this quote by President Abraham Lincoln often this past year. We are one week removed from one of our nation’s most acrimonious and divisive elections. Pundits and “experts” are taking credit, assigning blame, and assessing what went wrong or what went right – dependent, of course, on one’s political leanings.

I happened to be in Washington, D.C. on Election Day.

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Employment Opportunities

By Connie Horn

As we start Disability Employment Awareness Month many people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are successfully employed, but as a whole, unemployment among people with disabilities still remains high. One reason for this is the barriers they face to employment.

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The Successfully Innovative Organization

By David Morstad

I am fresh from a Leadership Retreat within my own organization.

Its theme was innovation – how to foster it, how to more effectively create a culture in which it might flourish, and maybe just how to stay out of its way. One of the focal points of the week was a morning of conversation with representatives from two businesses with no real connection to the field of developmental disability support services:  GE Healthcare and Trek Bicycles.

What do these two companies, both high preforming and highly innovative, do when it comes to encouraging and benefiting from the innovative process? A couple of important ideas emerged from the conversation. Continue reading

The Sibling Role

By Katy Geisleman

In many children’s lives, parents tend to play a more “protective” role in the development of their children. Parents are the ones who provide for their children’s needs, who teach and train them and who advocate for them every step of the way. This is especially true when the child has a disability.

Growing up with a brother who is autistic and nonverbal, I saw my parents take this role very seriously. Not only did they provide for Matthew’s basic needs, they went out of their way to make sure he had the therapies and other supports that he needed. They were – and still are – incredible advocates for him. They have fought many battles for him in regards to schooling, employment, etc. Continue reading

I Want To Find A Job.

By Matthew Hobson

“According to the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Labor, over 41 million Americans currently deal with the challenges of disability, including an unemployment rate in excess of 72%. In addition, 13 million Americans have a ‘go-outside-the-home’ disability.”

- National Telecommuting Institute

People can often overlook those of us with disabilities like we have nothing to offer.

Employers seem uninterested or too afraid to give us a chance to prove what we can do. The jobs we can do vary as much as we do. The types of jobs for people with disabilities can obviously depend on the type of disability the person has. I want a job where I can use my typing ability. I do not have any other skill since I do not have the ability to use my hands well to do many jobs. Continue reading

Soft Skills vs. Hard Skills: What’s Desirable?

By Lynn Wiles
Bethesda Lutheran Communities

Employers describe “soft skills” as those that cannot be taught but that are intrinsic to good workers.

When polled, the three soft skill traits most often identified as “desirable” among workers by almost 1,000 U.S. and Canadian employers were:

  • Motivation,the inherent drive one has to work.
  • Reliability,equated with doing one’s tasks consistently.
  • Dependability,which differs from reliability as defined by employers to encompass consistent attendance and punctuality. It is being able to be counted on. Continue reading

Paratransit Services… A Luxury?

By Connie Horn

Recently I came across the following article in The Baltimore Sun. The writer of the article said:

“The Metropolitan Transit Authority’s mobility program for the disabled looks like an expensive and unnecessary luxury. On a recent 20-minute trip to West Baltimore I spotted three of these vans that were either empty or had only a single passenger. This program must cost millions of dollars; how can we possibly afford it? If there is a justifiable need surely it can be met more efficiently by a private carrier. It seems there could be a good story here about an opportunity to cut excessive government spending.”

In the past few months I have written blogs on the topic of community accessibility for people with disabilities, so this article hit a nerve with me, especially when the writer said “looks like an expensive and unnecessary luxury.” Continue reading

Are all Leaders Supervisors? Are all Supervisors Leaders?

By Ellen Hierl

I have been immersing myself in supervisor and leadership materials recently in preparation for a project on leadership.  The more I read the more convinced I am that leadership does not equal supervision.  In fact, I think we deceive ourselves when we think that supervisors are naturally the leaders of the people they manage. Continue reading

Does Disability Mean Inability?

By Connie Horn

Sometimes, it is easy for people – even people with disabilities – to be lulled into believing that disability is a virtually impenetrable barrier to success. Yet nothing could be further from the truth. Continue reading

Beyond Social Capital – Civic Wellness and Personal Sustainability

By Albert Van Kleeck
Albert Van Kleeck Consulting

During the past several years I have dedicated a considerable amount of time to thinking about and developing different approaches to how we think about our lives and the lives of those we impact and support. I’ve thought about how moving through life one day to the next or from dawn to dusk could be so much easier and make much more sense for so many of us. And I’ve framed this thinking with the terms Civic Wellness and Personal Sustainability.

I haven’t yet come to a decision regarding which of these terms is the best fit for the concept. Perhaps either or both would work, maybe neither one. I’m open to suggestion and all contributions to a wider body of knowledge are always welcome. Continue reading

Realities of Employment Regulations

By Mark Hagen

The United States Department of Labor (DOL) has proposed new regulations which would require federal contractors and subcontractors to have seven percent of their workforce comprised of people with physical disabilities, intellectual and developmental disabilities or mental illness.  This regulation would add official hiring goals to existing regulations that prohibit discrimination against people with disabilities in hiring and recruiting practices. Continue reading

It’s About Jobs

By David Morstad

Upon meeting someone for the first time, one is inclined to ask two simple things:

What’s your name?
What do you do?

The two big questions.  Second only to our name, it seems that our job speaks to our identity in the eyes of others and, at least to some extent, serves to make us complete.  For those of us providing disability support services,  the message is clear:  It’s about jobs.  Such is the conclusion – and the mission – of the recent Alliance for Full Participation (AFP) 2011 Summit, the theme of which was, “Real jobs – It’s everyone’s business”.

When it comes to work, people challenged with intellectual and developmental disabilities continue to emerge from a service model designed to provide activity and look (at least a little) like real work: Sheltered workshops.  Continue reading

Managed Care for Adults with Disabilities

By Cathy Ficker Terrill

The states currently looking at managed care for community long term care for the DD population as a pilot are Vermont, Arizona, Michigan and Wisconsin. These states do not plan to use commercial health management organizations (HMO’s) to act as the managed care organization (MCO).

In Arizona and Vermont a state agency functions as the MCO. In Michigan and Wisconsin, the states purchase Medicaid long term care through risk based contracts with local MCO’s, formed largely from existing local service delivery systems. Continue reading