Disability Network Southwest Michigan quarterly newsletter
October 2017
man in wheelchair at business meeting
October is National Disability Employment Month

The purpose of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) is to educate people about disability employment issues and celebrate the many and varied contributions of workers with disabilities.  
Held annually, NDEAM is led by the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy, but its true spirit lies in the many observances held at the grassroots level across the country every year. Employers of all sizes and in all industries are encouraged to participate in NDEAM.
Click Here to Read More
Volunteer of the Year:
Ashlee Eichler

We held our annual Volunteer Appreciation dinner in September where we announced this year's Volunteer of the Year-Ashlee Eichler.
Ashlee has volunteered with Disability Network for the past 3 years providing support in our Berrien/Cass office. In addition to helping with the Divine Diva's peer support group, you are likely to see Ashlee at our agency booths or at our Book Club meetings in St. Joseph.
Ashlee is also a great advocate for Disability Network; she tells everyone she meets about the work we do! Thank you Ashlee for all your hard work and dedication as a volunteer at Disability Network!

Michigan Disability Summit Scheduled

Disability Network/Michigan has partnered with Michigan Disability Rights Coalition and the Michigan Statewide Independent Living Council to hold a one-day Disability Summit. The summit is open to customers, families, support staff and professionals to engage in learning opportunities regarding self-determination and community-based living and employment options for people with disabilities.
The summit is being held on Thursday, October 12, 2017 at the Okemos Hotel and Conference Center located at 2187 University Park Drive in Okemos, Michigan.
Follow this link for more information about the Michigan Disability Summit.
Express Vote machine
New Accessible Voting Machines
Coming to Michigan

New voting equipment is coming to all counties, cities and townships throughout Michigan. The change in voting systems will include providing new accessible voting machines, replacing the "AutoMark" machines that have been used throughout Michigan for many years. The new systems will be in place for Election Day this November 7. 
Click here to read more about the new voting machines.
Know Your Voter Rights!
By federal law, each polling location must include at least one accessible voting machine. If you require assistance using the machine or completing your ballot, you can bring someone with you to help you or ask the polling staff to assist you.
congress bldg icon
The ADA is Being Threatened!
What you need to know about HR 620

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is under serious threat by a Bill that has been introduced in the House of Representatives. The Bill is titled "The ADA Education and Reform Act of 201 (H.R. 620)."  
Title III of the ADA requires businesses to pro-actively provide barrier-free access to their establishments. Since it's passing, the business community has been reluctant to comply with ADA requirements. If passed, H.R. 620 would significantly reduce the effectiveness of Title III requirements.  
Click here to read more about H.R. 620
Resources for Getting Help with your Home Heating Bills

This fall, agencies providing assistance with utility bills will be newly funded and ready to assist. Here are two resources throughout the state of Michigan:
  • The State of Emergency Relief & Weatherization Program through the Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS) has funding available to assist qualified applicants from November through May. For more information visit their website or
    contact your local DHHS office.
  • True North Community Services offers resources for heating assistance. Visit their website and select "Heat & Energy" from the Assistance menu or go to their Resource Search page and enter your county, select Heat & Energy as a category and view other resources.
For local resources contact our Information & Referral Department.
woman pondering
Disability & Employment Workshops

Disability Network Southwest Michigan is conducting disability disclosure workshops throughout Southwest Michigan during the month of October. Join us for this free workshop to learn about disclosing your disability or medical condition at work.
Follow this link for details about our Disability & Employment Workshops.
Investing In Disability

Investing In Disability
These workshops are just one example of how our Advocacy & Community Education team support the Disability Rights Movement in Southwest Michigan.  
When we invest in disability, the entire community benefits. Join Disability Network Southwest Michigan in creating a diverse and inclusive community by investing in people with disabilities. We cannot do this important work without your support.
Lunch & Learn Fall Movie Series

Disability Network is hosting a fall Lunch & Learn movie series at both our Kalamazoo and St. Joseph offices. Join us for a movie and light lunch and then we'll discuss the t opic of the movie.We'll be watching:
  • Front of the Class on Friday, October 20
  • Including Samuel on Friday, November 17
Follow this link for all the details about our Lunch & Learn movie series.
Book Club deco
A Piece of the World

Join us at either our Kalamazoo or St.
Joseph office on Wednesday, November
1, 12:00-1:30 p.m. to discuss A Piece of the
World written by the bestselling author of
Orphan Train, Christina Baker Kline.

Visit our website for more details about our Lunchtime Book Club.
medical icon
Open Enrollment for Healthcare
November 1 - December 15

If you are planning to sign up for healthcare coverage through the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as "Obamacare," the open enrollment period is November 1 through December 15. You can sign up or find more information online at www.healthcare.gov. If you have questions about enrolling or whether you qualify for healthcare under the ACA, call their help line at 1-800-318-2596.
Are You in Need of a Device to Make Your Life Easier?
The A.T. Loan Fund Can Help!
The Assistive Technology Loan Fund (ATLF) is available to help people pay for tools for independence. The ATLF is a low interest loan available to people with disabilities and their family members to help purchase items like wheelchair-accessible vehicles, hearing aids, mobility devices, communication devices, or adapted recreation equipment. The ATLF can also pay for home modifications, including ramps, to make your home more accessible. For more information, contact Lewis Whalen at whalenl@dnswm.org or (269) 345-1516 x107.

Anne _ Aimee
Meet our Newest Staff Members
Please help us welcome the newest staff members hired at Disability Network Southwest Michigan. Anne Kooy (left) and Aimee Spieker (right) are both working as Independent Living Specialists and will be serving our entire eight-county service area.
About Disability Network Southwest Michigan
Disability Network Southwest Michigan serves 8 counties in Southwest Michigan: Barry, Berrien, Branch, Calhoun, Cass, Kalamazoo, St. Joseph, Van Buren

Office Locations:
Kalamazoo: 517 E. Crosstown Pkwy., Kalamazoo, MI  49001, phone: (269) 345-1516
St. Joseph: 2900 Lakeview Avenue., St. Joseph, MI 49085, phone: (269) 985-0111

For the accessibility and well-being of our employees and visitors, Disability Network Southwest Michigan is a fragrance-free office. Please do not wear perfume, cologne or other scented products when visiting.

Mission Statement:
We educate and connect people with disabilities to resources while advocating social change.

Vision Statement:
Our vision is a community that values disability as human diversity, free of attitudinal barriers, where all people benefit with full access and inclusion.

Our Publications:
The LINK is our quarterly newsletter, available in printed format or emailed in electronic format.
Disability Digest is a monthly e-newsletter focused on Disability Rights issues and upcoming Disability Network happenings. Available in electronic format only.

You can sign up online for our publications at www.dnswm.org, or contact Dale at
abbottd@dnswm.org or (269) 345-1516 x123.Current and past issues of our publications are available on our website at www.dnswm.org.

This newsletter is available in alternative format upon request.

Support Our Work:
You can help support the work we do with a tax-deductible donation to Disability Network. Visit our website to donate online or call Kristen at (269) 345-1516 x119.