Issue X - December 19, 2022
Winter Issue
Dear Members, Families, and Friends,

As we enter the long winter holiday season, for many it is a time for giving thanks and sharing one's gratitude for friends, family, and loved ones. It is also a time for seasonal transitions and travel. If you are planning to travel this year for a holiday or vacation, be sure to book your travel plans in advance and know what your travel rights are and when and where you can get assistance. Below, we have some tips on traveling with a disability, holiday travel, and travel in winter. We have also listed accessible and inclusive events across the Southern Tier. This month we also bring you a member story from Garrison Scott who traveled to New Jersey for vacation.

This month, we would also like to hear from youour membersabout topics on rights that you are interested in learning about. At STC, we care about your rights as a member of an inclusive and diverse society and we want to share with you important information regarding your rights. For more information, see the International Human Rights Day banner under the Member and Family Support section of this newsletter. As always, we bring you upcoming webinars and some that you may have missed. We hope you find this newsletter insightful and informative.

Jess and Carey
Jessica Colon
Regional Director - Eastern Region
Carey Peters
Regional Director - Western Region
Travel Rights
As a traveler with a disability, your rights are protected—but do you know what those rights are? The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects certain rights including your right to accessible public transportation. See the full provision below:

ADA Title II: Public Transportation

The transportation provisions of title II cover public transportation services, such as city buses and public rail transit (e.g. subways, commuter rails, Amtrak). Public transportation authorities may not discriminate against people with disabilities in the provision of their services. They must comply with requirements for accessibility in newly purchased vehicles, make good faith efforts to purchase or lease accessible used buses, remanufacture buses in an accessible manner, and, unless it would result in an undue burden, provide paratransit where they operate fixed-route bus or rail systems. Paratransit is a service where individuals who are unable to use the regular transit system independently (because of a physical or mental impairment) are picked up and dropped off at their destinations.

If you have questions and complaints about public transportation, they should be directed to:

Office of Civil Rights Federal Transit Administration U.S. Department of Transportation 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE Washington, D.C. 20590 (888) 446-4511 (voice/relay)

Questions can also be directed to your care manager!
Member Story
Above: Garrison Scott on vacation
Ask Garrison what he enjoys and the first thing he might tell you is: to travel. But it wasn't until Garrison started working with Nicole Lavo, at STC, that anyone became aware of Garrison's travel goals and where this goal was realized. This past July, Garrison took a trip to New Jersey with a friend. This trip was made possible due to the support that he has received from STC and his sister whose advocacy for Garrison helped him get the support he needed.

It took time to plan this trip. With the help of the house manager at the community home in which Garrison lives, and Nicole, Garrison was able to save his money to make the trip a possibility. During the week, Garrison works in janitorial services for a residential and commercial rental provider that offers affordable, quality rentals in the Binghamton region. Garrison enjoys his job, which allows him to save for future travel.

During his time in New Jersey, Garrison took shopping trips to Hobby Lobby and a local casino. He also went sightseeing and shopping in the some of the nearby towns, including New Hope, Pennsylvania, and Frenchtown in New Jersey. While in New Hope, Garrison picked up a souvenir t-shirt representing the town and a mug. More than travel, Garrison loves to walk. On his trip he visited Merrill Creek reservoir, which offers ample hiking trails and lake. And of course, he dined out on the town in the evening.

In his spare time, Garrison loves to create diamond art (more on this, below) and is eager to start in on the new diamond art projects that he picked up on his travels. Thank you, Garrison, for sharing your travel story with us and for introducing us to the new craft of diamond art!
Above: Garrison on vacation standing next to an old vehicle; Garrison visiting a winery; Garrison smelling flowers
What is Diamond Art?
Diamond art is similar to both cross-stitch and paint-by-numbers. The artist works with a pre-designed piece of self-adhesive canvas that one then affixes with vibrantly colored resin rhinestones. The canvas is numbered to the correlating colors of the diamonds to create a beautiful craft work that can be framed to hang.
Health and Safety News
Travel and Travel Support During the Holidays:

Travel during the holidays can be strenuous and frustrating, but it does not need to be this way. Booking travel well in advance can be one benefit of foreseeing any problems that might arise and give one more flexible booking dates and cancellation options than booking last-minute. You might foresee challenges like getting around in inclement weather, as well as navigating holiday crowds. Below, is an interesting graphic provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that illustrates some of the busiest travel dates of the year. For more information on flying during the holidays, you can visit their Holiday Travel page.

It is always best to research your destination ahead of time, so that you can guarantee that your needs will be met. Research will also give you the opportunity to learn about your destination, the accommodations it may or may not have available, and to reserve accommodations and accessibility options ahead of your arrival.

A few things to consider while booking your travel and accommodations:
  • Stay connected while you travel
  • Have phone numbers for a friend or family member, and your care manager, available to you. You may also want to forward your accommodation's information, such as a hotel or bed and breakfast, including the address and phone number (where available)
  • Service Animals
  • Consider what might you need to travel with a service animal
  • Assistive equipment
  • Consider your best mobility options and whether or not to bring a powerchair or wheelchair
  • Know where you can get a wheelchair and/or medical equipment providers and repair services
  • Accessible Bathrooms and Adult Change-Stations
  • This link will help you locate airports across the USA that have accessible adult change-stations: Airports in the USA with Adult Change-Stations

If you are interested in travel and your rights as a traveler, or if you are planning a trip and need assistance, always remember to reach out to your care manager!
Staying Safe in Winter:

  • Wear weather-appropriate clothing
  • Dress warm in cold weather
  • Have a good pair of winter boots and traction devices for walking
  • Equip your wheelchair or powerchair with snow tires, but always follow operation and safety guidelines in the user manual
  • Don't forget your hat, scarf, and gloves!
  • Be sure to have extra layers
  • Base layers will keep your warm, while mid-layers can be taken off when too warm
  • Choose a soft and sustainable cloth like merino wool that wicks when it gets wet and when you sweat
  • Monitor your health
  • Stay hydrated
  • Avoid hypothermia and frostbite by keeping warm. Use hand warmers and carry extra layers when you expect to spend long periods of time outdoors

The University of Utah has put together an informational webpage with tips for safe mobility in winter for those who use wheelchairs and powerchairs. Read more at the link, Wheelchair Safety in the Snow
Is it RSV, COVID-19, or FLU?
What is RSV:

According to the CDC, the respiratory syncytial (sin-SISH-uhl) virus, or RSV, is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms.

Some symptoms may include the following:
  • Runny nose
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Fever
  • Wheezing

Most cases of RSV will clear up in a week or two, however RSV can be cause for concern when contracted by infants and older adults. RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis (inflammation of the small airways in the lung) and pneumonia (infection of the lungs) in children younger than 1 year of age in the United States.
What is COVID-19:

According to the CDC, COVID-19 is a disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Some symptoms may include the following:
  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

It is very contagious and was quickly spread around the world. COVID-19 most often causes respiratory symptoms that can feel much like a cold, a flu, or pneumonia. COVID-19 may attack more than your lungs and respiratory system--it can affect other parts of your body.
What is Flu?

According to the CDC, influenza (flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. Some people, such as people 65 years and older, young children, and people with certain health conditions, are at higher risk of serious flu complications.

Some symptoms may include the following:
  • fever* or feeling feverish/chills
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • runny or stuffy nose
  • muscle or body aches
  • headaches
  • fatigue (tiredness)
  • some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
The influenza A and B viruses that routinely spread in people (human influenza viruses) are responsible for seasonal flu epidemics each year.
Member and Family Support
International Day of Persons with Disabilities
At STC, we work to ensure that the people we support have the same opportunities of those living without a disability. Our care managers know and understand the importance of equity and inclusion in daily life, in the work force, and beyond. As outlined by the United Nations: "Disability inclusion is an essential condition to upholding human rights, sustainable development, and peace and security. [...]The commitment to realizing the rights of persons with disabilities is not only a matter of justice; it is an investment in a common future."

We are committed to this common future, which is why we support integrated housing and work and volunteer placements, as well as being advocates for accessible places and inclusive spaces. If you have questions about inclusion, accessibility, or your rights, please reach out to your care manager!
Did you know? 

  • 80% of the one billion population of persons with disabilities live in a developing country
  • An estimated 46% of older people aged 60 years and over are people with disabilities
  • One in every five women is likely to experience disability in her life, while one in every ten children is a child with a disability
International Human Rights Day
December 10
Human Rights Day is observed every year on the 10th day in December — the day the United Nations General Assembly adopted, in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). This document proclaims the inalienable rights that everyone is entitled to as a human being, regardless of race, color, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. It is available in more than 500 languages; to read the document in an easy-to-read, illustrated format, click here.

Throughout 2023, Southern Tier Connect will provide "micro-trainings" on your rights as a person and a person with a disability. If there is a topic that you are interested in leaning about, contact them at the email below!
Understanding Provisional Eligibility
The eligibility process review is the way that the Office of People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) determines if you are eligible for OPWDD-funded support and services. Did you know that if eligibility is determined prior to the age of eight it is often referred to as “Provisional Eligibility”? Provisional eligibility means that a child manifests “substantial delays or specific congenital or acquired conditions that result in a high probability of a developmental disability if services are not provided, and whose condition and/or functioning may improve significantly over time, as a result of treatments and services”. If a child is found provisionally eligible, they will need to reapply for services before turning eight to ensure they continue to meet the qualifications to receive OPWDD-funded supports and services. The process is very similar to the initial review, but new assessments may be needed. Your care manager will remind you of this process as it becomes applicable to you and support you through each step, including making referrals for any new assessments that may be needed and obtaining copies of necessary documentation.

For a reminder on the process refer to our Flow Chart (Steps 4 & 5 are applicable to this process). As always, please reach out to your care manager with questions you may have!
Telehealth 101
What is Telehealth?
Telehealth is the remote delivery of health care services using communication technology. Depending on your doctor, different technological platforms may be used but the concept is the same across the board – a doctor’s visit via your phone, tablet, or computer without the hassle of driving and waiting to be seen for non-emergency conditions.

What are the benefits?
Access: Access is a huge benefit for patients. Not only is telehealth convenient because you can do it from your home, but it also offers flexibility to access providers and removes barriers like office location.

Another benefit that a patient gains is avoiding the wait in a doctor’s office or emergency room for non-emergency concerns. For patients, when you are getting ready to see your doctor, there are concerns like traffic, parking, and wait times. You check in and wait. You get your vitals done and wait. You get roomed and wait. If you are going to be waiting, what better place than at home? A telehealth visit can reduce a several-hour long process to a far more efficient, 20-to-30-minute virtual encounter.

Telehealth can also bring specialty care close to home for those living in rural areas where access to certain types of care can require travel.

Cost: The copay for telehealth visits is often less expensive than, or similar in cost to, an in-person office visit. Cost savings also comes from efficiencies like eliminating drive time to a physician’s office, and for many patients it will save them the cost of lost wages from taking time off work.

When should you utilize telehealth?
Telehealth visits cover everyday illnesses such as the flu, conjunctivitis (pink eye), bladder infections, yeast infections, acid reflux, and certain skin conditions. Telehealth professionals can also provide treatment plans for mental health services, like the treatment of depression, anxiety, or stress.

What telehealth does not include are emergency-related health concerns such as stroke, heart attacks, and major accidents.

Your telehealth checklist
Now that you know a bit more about telehealth, you may have questions on how to prepare for your first appointment. Follow this checklist to make the most of your appointment.

  • Choose a private place: Finding spur-of-the-moment privacy can sometimes be difficult, especially if you live with other people. So, before your appointment, choose a quiet room for your virtual appointment and ask your family or roommates to respect your privacy. This way you won't worry about interruptions.

  • Consider technical aspects: Whether you're using a smartphone, computer, or tablet, it's recommended that you learn how to utilize your provider's app or video chat software before your visit. Some providers may use well-known video services such as FaceTime (for Mac users), WhatsApp, and Skype (Windows). Or you might decide to simply speak to your doctor over the phone, if that's an option.
  • Check with your provider ahead of time to learn the ins and outs. This will help ease any stress or worry about the technicalities of the visit.

  • Prepare your medical history: When booking your appointment with an online doctor, you'll be asked to fill in your complete medical history and answer questions related to your symptoms. Be sure to gather relevant documents regarding your medical history ahead of time. For example, if your primary care physician offers an online health portal, it's recommended to have your information pulled up and ready to go for your visit.
  • Your telehealth doctor may also ask you questions about your lifestyle, job, family life and, if appropriate, your mental health history. The purpose of the appointment is to provide you with the best possible care and treatment. Sharing personal details allows your doctor to diagnose and provide quality care.

  • Get your documents ready: Like any doctor's appointment, you should be ready with the following pieces of information:
  • Your list of prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, and supplements
  • Your pharmacy phone number and address.
  • Your primary doctor's name and contact info (if this is not the doctor that you’re seeing)
  • Insurance or credit card information.

  • Jot down questions to ask: It's natural for a doctor's appointment to make you a little nervous—especially when it's with a new doctor—so you may forget to ask crucial questions during your visit. That's why it is recommended to make a list of questions to ask your doctor. While each person's healthcare situation is unique, here are seven sample questions to get you started:
  • What is the diagnosis?
  • Will I need any medical tests?
  • What can I do to get better?
  • Do I need a prescription?
  • What do I do if my symptoms continue?
  • How can I access the information/treatment plan from today's appointment?
  • Can I contact you if I have follow-up questions?

  • Write down your treatment plan: Your treatment plan may be as simple as "drink plenty of fluids and get some rest." In some cases, however, you may need to have a prescription filled or to make an appointment to see another doctor or specialist in person. If possible, take notes on the treatment plan and what your next steps are during your appointment.

  • Discuss follow-up care: In some cases, one appointment is all you need to diagnose and treat routine health conditions like a cold or the flu. But if symptoms persist or you need ongoing care to check chronic conditions, you may need follow-up care through another telehealth appointment or in person. You may also need a prescription, so discussing the next step is helpful.

If you have questions about how to take advantage of telehealth opportunities with your doctors, please reach out to your care manager! We can help you to explore and better understand this option for quality healthcare. 
Events Happening Near You
A List of Accessible and Inclusive Events & Places to Visit
Over the Holidays and into the New Year
Events in Tompkins County:

  • For a list of all of the holiday events (and beyond) happening in Ithaca, visit their events page, here: Visit Ithaca

Events in Broome County:

  • Broome County Festival of Lights: From November 21 – January 1, Broome County holds its annual Festival of Lights in Otsiningo Park. $25 per car. For more information and directions, visit their website: Broome County Festival of Lights

  • Gaffer District & Holiday Tree Lighting: Enjoy a Crystal City Christmas in the Gaffer District of Corning. They offer city tours, boutique shopping, lots of public art, and more! Visit their website, here: Gaffer District Events

  • Roberson Museum and Science Center, Home for the Holidays: Between November 17 – January 6 the Roberson Museum and Science Center is transformed for the holidays. Roberson offers mansion tours, craft workshops for kids, and live entertainment every weekend! Plus, Seasonal Planetarium shows (additional $4).Reservations can be made online (link below) or by calling Roberson 607.772.0660. Visit their website for more info: Home for the Holidays

Events in Cortland County:

  • Enjoy Winter Solstice in the Garden at the Cornell Botanical Garden in Ithaca. Register to join a guided tour the Mullestein Winter Garden to learn all about plants that thrive over the winter season. This event takes place outside; general admission is $15. Register here: Winter Solstice in the Garden

  • For other events happening in Cortland County, visit their events page at Experience Cortland

Events in Chenango County:

  • The Wolf Mountain Nature Center: Looking for something a little different? The Wolf Mountain Nature Center provides sanctuary to 22 animals, from wolves to foxes, located in 12 various enclosures across 70 acres. Trails are grassy or gravel and contain uneven terrain, however they are easily navigable by persons with disabilities and physical challenges. The gift shop and restrooms are accessible; admission is $8. Visit their website for more info: The Wolf Mountain Nature Center

Events in Oneida County:

  • Bank of Utica New Year's Eve Party: Celebrate the New Year with the Bank of Utica, the City of Utica, and its Public Safety Departments for a free New Year’s Eve event, featuring live music and entertainment. Visit the New Year's event webpage, here: Utica New Years Eve Party

  • Boonville Snow Festival: Get ready for another exciting year of snowmobile racing with Boonville's annual Adirondack Cup Ice Oval Snowmobile Racing. For more information on this year's races, held in late January, visit their webpage, here: Boonville Snow Festival

Events in Otsego County:

  • First Day Hike: This event takes place on Sunday, January 1, 2023 at 10:00 AM at Glimmerglass State Park. The first 100 people to enter the park will receive a First Day Hike giveaway. This event is free and takes place outdoors; be sure to wear proper clothing and footwear. Visit the state park webpage, here, for more information: Glimmerglass State Park Events

Events in Fulton County:

  • Paul Nigra Center for Creative Arts: Offers adaptive classes in arts and crafts throughout the year, as well as holiday activities through the season. For more information, visit their website: Paul Nigra Creative Arts Center

Watch the I Love NY website for events listed across the state. As always, you can reach out to your care coordinator for more information about events, places to visit, and accessibility in your city, town, or region.
Get Ready for Summer Camp!
New, Upcoming Webinars all about Summer Camp
Save the Dates for Our Annual Summer Camp Webinars
Save the dates! We are scheduling our annual Summer Camp Webinars for February 8th & 9th, from 10 am to 12pm. Registration links will be sent out in the new year.

This is your opportunity to learn about summer camps happening in your area. Last year, we invited several summer camps to give mini-presentations on their programs, eligibility requirements, cost, and registration process. So, remember to save the date for 2/8 and 2/9 to learn which camp is right for you! We will send a separate email with Summer Camp information and links to webinar registration.
In Case You Missed It...
Pre-Paid Funeral Planning

This recorded webinar will answer your questions about prepaid funeral planning, which includes pre-planning expanses and what the benefits of pre-planning are. This webinar, held in October, provides useful information for getting started in discussing your celebration of life arrangements and guaranteeing that your values and beliefs are upheld after your death.
Public Housing & Section 8

The U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development provides Section 8 housing, a rental subsidy program, designed to help low-income, single people and families pay their rent, thus allowing them to live in safe, sanitary, and healthy conditions, in an environment and community that is right for them.

CareerNext & The College Experience

The College Experience prepares students with intellectual disabilities for independent living and competitive employment.

CareerNext is designed to support students with Autism or other learning differences pursue an Associate’s Degree, Bachelor’s Degree, or Credited Career Certificate.

The GetThere transporatation program provides individual and group travel training. They also provide assistance for eligible individuals who need transportation to healthcare appointments, transportation to employment services and training on how to use public transportation. Serves: Broome, Chenango, Delaware, Otsego and Tioga counties.
STC Staff Bowling Party
Southern Tier Connect staff members from across the region enjoyed a day out bowling at East Main Lanes in Sidney, NY. The teams reviewed an employee engagement survey, talked about organizational updates, and enjoyed a seminar on wellness. Items were raffled off throughout the afternoon. We don't have to tell you how much fun was hadcheck out the photos below!
We hope you enjoyed this edition of The Connection e-newsletter. Did you know that you can now read all of our past newsletters archived on our website? Please be aware that we are currently updating our archive. Stay tuned for more!
Share your story for our next edition!

Do you have a story to share? A resource that could be beneficial to others?
Send an email to You can also tell your care manager you if would like to be featured in our next issue and have them set up a time for us to interview you. Tell us about your goals, your accomplishments, or just something fun you have been up to. Your stories are important to us!

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