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Disability Digest

The monthly DISABILITY RIGHTS e-publication
Disability Network Southwest Michigan
October 2016
Are You Planning to Vote?

In this video people with a variety of disabilities talk about the importance of voting and resources available to assist with voting.

November 8 is Election Day - be sure your vote is counted! #DisabilityVote
Supreme Court to Review FAPE Mandate

Supreme Court Building
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) mandates that schools must provide "free and appropriate public education" (FAPE) to children with disabilities. But who is to say what is "appropriate?" For the first time in more than three decades, the U.S. Supreme Court will consider how much educational benefit schools must provide to students with disabilities.

Read this article from Disability Scoop for more information.

Join our Advocacy Teams!

Change starts with YOU! Join others who are improving transit and accessibility in Kalamazoo! TAG (Transportation Advocacy Group) and Access are advocacy groups organized at Disability Network to help improve access in Kalamazoo.  Follow this link to the Advocacy Teams page of our website for more information on how YOU can get involved and become an advocate for access! 
Sweatshops Are Not the Model We Want to See!

woman working in sheltered workshop
A recent article in The Battle Creek Enquirer outlined both sides of the sheltered workshop issue. While some people believe segregated work environments paying sub-minimum wage provide an otherwise unavailable opportunity for people with disabilities, others see it as a convenient status quo that is stuck in the past.

The problem isn't that people with disabilities can't do the job, it's that jobs suitable to fit their skills are not being made available. Unfortunately there is currently little incentive to change the system and there exists a need for stronger advocacy on the part of our Michigan Department of Health and Human Services leadership to ensure appropriate funding is available for supported or customized employment in non-segregated workplaces with opportunity for equality of wages.  
Our Official Position

Three years ago Disability Network Southwest Michigan's Board of Directors voted unanimously to adopt the following official position:

Individuals with disabilities should have the opportunity to be employed in non-segregated, regular workplaces. Virtually all individuals with disabilities can be employed and earn the same wages as people without disabilities. When needed for such employment, they should have access to supported or customized employment. They should be afforded options other than sheltered workshops, day treatment, clubhouses, and other segregated programs.

We will be hosting a screening of Rooted in Rights' original documentary "Bottom Dollars." The film exposes the exploitation of nearly 250,000 people with disabilities in the U.S. that are being paid far less than the minimum wage. The documentary calls for the phase out of  sheltered workshops, and offers solutions for fair wages and inclusive employment.

You can view this trailer for Bottom Dollars and watch for more information about our showing dates coming soon!
Lunchtime Book Club with a MOVIE!

Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving
At December's Lunchtime Book Club meeting we will enjoy a light lunch, discuss the book and then watch the movie. Didn't read the book? Come join us for lunch and the movie!

The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving is bursting with energy and filled with moments of absolute beauty. The story ponders life's terrible surprises as well as what it takes to truly care for another human being.

The Lunchtime Book Club will meet on Wednesday, December 7 in both our Kalamazoo and St. Joseph offices. For more information about Disability Network Southwest Michigan's Book Club, visit the Book Club page of our website.

Michigan Protection & Advocacy Service, Inc. (MPAS) is the independent, private, nonprofit organization designated by the governor of the State of Michigan to advocate and protect the legal rights of people with disabilities in Michigan. MPAS services include information and referral, short-term assistance, selected individual and legal representation, systemic advocacy, monitoring, and training.
Disability Network Southwest Michigan
Kalamazoo Office
St. Joseph Office
517 E. Crosstown Parkway
2900 Lakeview Avenue
Kalamazoo, MI 49001
St. Joseph, MI 49085
(269) 345-1516
(269) 985-0111