A Publication of Disability Network Southwest Michigan
January 2011

 Changing Lives. Changing Communities.

Disability Network Celebrates 30 Years!


Disability Network Southwest Michigan began in 1981 when a small group of disability rights activists formed what was then called the Kalamazoo County Center for Independent Living.  Its main purpose was "To help the handicapped community achieve and maintain independent living and to facilitate the education of the handicapped and the general community

concerning...handicapped culture."

Will Harter & Bunny Gaines-Summey
Will Harter & Bunny Gaines-Summey, founding members


A lot has happened in 30 years.  We've changed our name a couple times (remember when we were Disability Resource Center?), we've grown geographically, we've adapted to changing times and to the changing needs of people with disabilities.  We've changed laws and policies that impact people with disabilities.  We've let go of programs that are no longer needed and added new ones when a need became apparent.  


What has not changed in 30 years is our commitment to creating fully inclusive communities, free of discrimination and segregation based on disability, and our commitment to providing tools and supports to others with disabilities working toward self sufficiency. 

Ron Lambe with Vision & Mission Statements
  Ron Lambe, Board Chair stands next to the new Vision & Mission statements in our lobby.


In October 2010, our Board of Directors unveiled the updated Vision and Mission statements for Disability Network Southwest Michigan.  They build upon the values we have held for 30 years, and lead us into the future:


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


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

                                    The Date You Receive Your Food

                               Assistance Benefits Will Change in 2011


The Department of Human Services (DHS) is changing the dates most people will get their food assistance benefits, starting in January 2011.


The change will be based on the last digit of your recipient identification number.


 Food Assistance Dates


Example: A person whose ID number ends in 4 will receive benefits on January 7, February 8, GroceriesMarch 9, April 10 and on the 11th day of every month beginning May 2011.


If you have questions you can contact your caseworker or Disability Network.




Blind Starfish: Meets the 2nd Tuesday of most months at 7:00 PM.


Brain Injury Survivors: Meets Thursdays from 1:30 PM to 3:30 PM.


Women with Disabilities: Meets Tuesdays from 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM.


Spinal Cord Injury Group: Meets periodically throughout the year.


All groups meet at 517 E. Crosstown Parkway, Kalamazoo. Call (269) 345-1516 for more information.

      Workshop Attendees Alert
           Us to ADA Violations

Presentation AudienceTwo very large businesses - one in Berrien County and one in  Kalamazoo County - have changed their on-line job applications after two people attending our How When & Why to Disclose a Disability to an Employer workshops alerted us to illegal questions about disability they found on the forms.


Job applications cannot ask if you have a disability or if you will need an accommodation to do a job.  This is a protection you have a right to                  under the Americans with Disabilities Act.


"In both these instances, the companies removed their illegal question voluntarily and immediately after we contacted them," says Paul Ecklund, our Disability Rights Advocate.


A big thank you to the people who brought this to our attention!  Everyone can play an important role in changing policies and practices that negatively impact people with disabilities.


If you see an application with an illegal question about disability, call us at (269) 345-1516 or toll free at (877) 674-5209.  




This workshop is for people with disabilities who want to learn about their rights and responsibilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and to know how, when and why to tell an employer about a disability.

March 2, 2011      Battle Creek     1:00 - 3:00

March 24, 2011    Paw Paw          1:00 - 3:00

April 6, 2011         Hastings           1:00 - 3:00



Call Michele at (269) 345-1516 x116 to register.




Starting May 1, 2011, new Social Security Recipients will have to get benefits in the form of direct deposits or on a debit card.

 Debit Card

People already on Social Security will have until March 1, 2013 to make the switch to direct deposit ora debit card to receive benefits.


To help with the switchover for those still getting paper checks, the government has created a website, and a  toll free phone number, 1-800-333-1795, that people can call for assistance.



WRKR 107.7


benefiting Disability Network


Date: Saturday, January 29, 2011 Poker
Time: Registration begins at 9:00 am; Play begins at 10:00 am
Location: Wayside West, 3406 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo 49008

Cost: $100

Only 120 player slots are available!
Pre-registrations is required.
Register at
Call Kristen at (269) 345-1516 with questions.

Accessibility at Disability Network


Starting in February, we will have audio versions of Disability Network's brochures and newsletters available on our website!


We created these audio versions to ensure that people with a print disability have access to our publications.  The audio versions are simply a Listening at Computerrecording of someone reading the information out loud.


A person with a print disability cannot effectively read printed documents and needs an alternative format.  A print disability can be the result of a  visual, physical, developmental, cognitive, or learning disability.


An audio document is one type of alternative format.  You might see the statement "Alternative formats available upon request."  This typically refers to printed documents that are available in Braille, large print,                    electronic, or audio versions.


We are a role model of accessibility for agencies and businesses in Southwest Michigan.  Having audio versions of our publications available is just one of the ways we lead by example in creating a welcoming and accessible environment.



New signs have arrived announcing the presence of our Berrien/Cass office at 2900 Lakeview Avenue, St. Joseph, MI  49085.


If you have a disability related question, our Berrien/Cass Disability Information & Referral staff are happy to help!  Call (269) 985-0111.


 Disability Network Sign


BARRY Berrien Branch Calhoun Cass Kalamazoo ST. JOSEPH VAN BUREN



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