Disability Network Southwest Michigan quarterly newsletter
January 2019
Accessible Computer Lab Comes to Kalamazoo Office

man at computer with headset on
As a result of a generous gift from a local funder, Disability Network Southwest Michigan has recently installed an accessible computer lab in our Kalamazoo office.

Assistive technology, such as screen readers, large print keyboards and adaptive mouse pads, are required for some people with disabilities to access the technology they need. These items can be expensive and are not realistic for many budgets. The computer lab at Disability Network provides accessibility options not typically found in other community locations offering public access to computers.

Follow this link to learn more about our accessible computer lab.
Make Emergency Preparedness your New Year's Resolution!    

Emergencies can strike at any time and winter weather brings some additional hazards. This year, why not make a New Year's resolution to put together an Emergency Preparedness Kit so you will have the peace of mind knowing that you are ready for anything!
Emergency Kit

What to include in your
Emergency Preparedness Kit:
  • A supply of bottled water and food that won't go bad and doesn't need to be cooked
  • Flashlights, batteries, cell phone charger
  • First aid supplies and a supply of any medicines
  • Warm blankets and a change of clothing
  • Extra toiletries and hygiene items. A collection of travel size items will save space and give you a variety of what you need.
  • Up-to-date contact information for people or services you may need to reach in an emergency and copies of your ID and insurance card

Follow this link for more information about Emergency Preparedness.
Intelligent Lives

man in studio painting
From award-winning filmmaker Dan Habib comes the film Intelligent Lives, a catalyst to transform the label of "intellectual disability" from a life sentence of isolation into a life of possibility for the most systematically segregated people in America. Intelligent Lives stars three pioneering young American adults with intellectual disabilities who challenge perceptions of intelligence as they navigate high school, college, and the workforce.

Join us at the Van Buren ISD Conference Center in Lawrence for this Lunch & Learn event. Follow this link for all the details.
More Than 7,000 Served in 2018!  

Disability Network Southwest Michigan has wrapped up our books for fiscal year 2017-2018. Here's a look at 2018 by the numbers:
  • 7,332 people served in 8 counties
  • 5,860 Information & Referral requests answered
  • 1,378 people with disabilities received Independent Living supports
  • 753 youth with disabilities served
  • 247 people received Social Security Benefits Counseling
  • 16 Veterans with disabilities received Independent Living supports
  • 29 ramps built
  • 48 people with disabilities transitioned out of nursing facilities and into community-based living resulting in saving Michigan taxpayers over $3,600,000
  • 167 people with disabilities received transportation assistance
  • 236 presentations in the community with 2,937 people participating
  • 39 informational booths in the community
January 23 is Ed Roberts Day
"Disability is Strength. Our number one issue is still old attitudes toward us and those old attitudes see us as helpless and unable and disability can make you very strong and very able."  --Ed Roberts

January 23 is Ed Roberts Day. Roberts is often referred to as "the father of the Independent Living Movement" because of his persistent and successful advocacy work for disability rights beginning in the 1960s. Advocacy continues to be the cornerstone of the Independent Living Movement. CILs throughout the country have adopted the phrase, "Nothing about us, without us," which reflects the deeply held principle that people with disabilities should be included in, and central to, discussions and policy making pertaining to disability.

You can be an important part of effecting meaningful change in your community, or the broader community, by working with advocacy groups, contacting your local, state or national representatives, joining committees that create policy, or simply showing up at committee meetings to add strength to the voices of others.

Follow this link to read more about Ed Roberts and the Advocacy Teams at Disability Network Southwest Michigan.

The Rise & Triumph of the Disability Rights Movement     

text graphic_ Defiant Lives
Join us for this ALL NEW Disability Rights workshop! We will watch and discuss the new documentary film, Defiant Lives which traces the origins of the world-wide disability rights movement. This film tells the stories of the individuals who bravely put their lives on the line to create a better world where everyone is valued and can participate in society.

This workshop will be offered in January in Kalamazoo, Battle Creek, and St. Joseph. Follow this link for all the details about our workshop, The Rise & Triumph of the Disability Rights Movement.
Assistive Technology Resources
"Assistive technology" and "assistive devices" are names for the tools & gadgets that might be the key to remaining independent at home for people with a variety of disabilities. You will find a list of Assistive Technology resources on the Assistive Technology page of our website. 
The Assistive Technology Loan Fund (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. 
2019 Movie Series
movie series text graphic

We are hosting a series of disability-themed movies over the next few months. Join us for lunch, watch the movie and discuss the issues afterward. The films we'll be watching and discussing are:
  • Intelligent Lives (February)
  • Keep the Change (March)
  • Infinitely Polar (April)
Join us for one, two or all three movies. We are offering each of these events in Kalamazoo, St. Joseph, and Battle Creek. Follow this link for all the details about our 2019 movie series.
Are you looking for a Peer Support Group?
paper dolls holding hands
Peer support connects people to others with the same or similar situation. Peer support can provide emotional, social and practical assistance as well as fostering understanding and trust among group members in a safe environment.

Disability Network Southwest Michigan maintains an extensive list of disability-related peer support groups throughout Southwest Michigan on our website.

Additionally, Disability Network facilitates several peer support groups. In Kalamazoo County we host a Brain Injury Survivors Support Group and Phenomenal Women, a support group for women with disabilities. In Berrien County we facilitate Divine Divas, a support group for women with developmental disabilities. Follow this link for more about these support groups on our website.

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.