July 2012


A Publication of Disability Network Southwest Michigan

Changing Lives. Changing Communities.

 Celebrating Freedom & IndependenceFireworks 


On the 4th of July, Americans traditionally celebrate the qualities of freedom and independence. In fact, we often refer to the 4th of July as "Independence Day".  Similarly, on the 26th of July, many of us celebrate the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a civil rights law that mandates freedom from discrimination and segregation based on a disability - another important "Independence Day."


Here at Disability Network, we celebrate our Ramp Up Program volunteers that make freedom and independence possible for people with disabilities in Ramp Up July 2012Southwest Michigan.


This July, two groups partnered with our Ramp Up volunteers to build ramps for 3 families in Kalamazoo.  The groups were  Impact Kalamazoo, a group of youth and adults from Haven Reformed Church, and the Youth Group from the First United Methodist Church of Kalamazoo.  Additionally this month, Disability Network was able to assist a family in South Haven to get a ramp, providing the freedom and independence to get out of the house, come and go without assistance, and be part of the community. 


Our Ramp Up Program is funded by City of Kalamazoo, the United Way of Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region, Kalamazoo Community Foundation, First United Methodist Church of Kalamazoo and private donations from people like you.  For more information, contact Karen Halsted at (269) 345-1516 x 115.

Voting is the Easiest Kind of Advocacy
Be Sure to Vote on August 7, 2012

Voting in elections is the first step in making your voice heard in a democracy, and elected officials pay attention to the ideas and concerns of people who vote.  Your vote is your voice in the election process.


Primary Election is held by the political parties to select their nominees for the offices to be elected at the upcoming general election. In a primary, Republicans run against Republicans and Democrats run against other Democrats. And, of course, if other parties qualify to appear on the primary ballot, their candidates run against each other as well. In a primary, you may vote on only one party's candidates. You cannot split your ballot between the various political parties or your vote will not be counted.


As a result of redistricting based on the 2010 Census, certain Congressional, Legislative and County Commission district boundaries have changed.  Be sure you know your district for each race.  You can call your local clerk's office or you can visit www.michigan.gov/sos and click the big VOTE button.  This will take you to the Michigan Voter Information Center where you can enter your information and get a sample of the ballot you will be using in the August primary. 


Questions about voting?  Contact Michele at (269) 345-1516 x 116or Joanne at (269) 982-7761 at Disability Network - we're happy to help! 



Jo Slusher works in our Information and Referral Program and our Independent Living Skills Program.  When you call us with a question, Jo just might be the friendly voice assisting you.


Holly Smith works in our Independent Living Skills Program, assisting youth and adults reach their goals for self  sufficiency. Brandi Gibbs


Brandi Gibbs works in our Community Education  & Systems Advocacy Program, providing support to our advocacy work and increasing our presence throughout Southwest Michigan.

 Fulfilling the Promise

of the ADA


The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) just turned 22 years old! 

 Signing ADA 

The ADA is a civil rights law that says people  cannot be discriminated against or excluded due to their disability. It is a simple idea that reflects our values of equality and equal opportunity here in America.  Unfortunately, carrying out the promise of the ADA, the nuts-and-bolts of HOW Americans end discrimination and exclusion, has been anything but simple. 


Progress made in 2012:


►March 15, 2012 was the date that new accessibility requirements brought about by the ADA Amendments Act of 2010 went into effect, impacting new construction, alterations, effective communication, designated event ticketing, the hotel industry and more.


►The FCC issued rules that re-instate video description for television, making TV programs accessible to people with visual disabilities by providing narrated descriptions of a program's key visual elements inserted into natural pauses in the TV show's dialogue.  


►A federal court held that the ADA applies to Website-Only Businesses, striking down arguments by the business

community that the ADA only applied to physical buildings. Web-based businesses will need to ensure equal access for users who have a variety of disabilities. (National Association of the Deaf, et al. v. Netflix) 


This progress didn't just happen. It is result of sustained advocacy efforts from the disability community and its allies: People just like you who speak up and speak out to elected officials and government leaders. Thank you!  








Adults 50 years and older and adults 18 years and older with a disability are being asked to take the Michigan Aging and Disability Needs Assessment Survey www.needsmichigan.com.  Your input matters - please take the survey today! 




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And bookmark our website www.dnswm.org.


The more you're connected, the more you'll know!




In order to keep the public informed about various disability issues the White House has been hosting monthly calls. To learn about future calls, request to be added to the White House Disability e-mail distribution list by visiting the White House website.  These calls are open to the public and offer a unique opportunity to hear about important disability issues from individuals who work in the Federal government. You can also submit questions before the call at www.disability.gov 




Our Berrien/Cass office has grown in size! 

Our office is located at 2900 Lakeview Drive (inside the Area Agency on Aging building). 

Stop in and see us! 





Berrien County

August 7 @ 1:00 Disability Roundtable

   Tools & Techniques for Accommodations


August 23 @1:00 Change & Communication

  Free advocacy workshop - RSVP by 8/15/12


September 4 @ 1:00 Disability Roundtable

    Ableism, Allies and Oppression


Calhoun County

August 21 @ 1:00 Disability Roundtable

    Tools & Techniques for Accommodations


September 18 @ 1:00 Disability Roundtable

    Ableism, Allies and Oppression


Kalamazoo County

July 31 @ 1:00 Crafty Ladies

    A time for women who like to craft!


August 14 @ 1:00 Disability Roundtable

    Tools & Techniques for Accommodations


September 11 @ 1:00 Disability Roundtable

    Ableism, Allies and Oppression


October 22 @ 5:00 Annual Meeting

   Save the date!  We'll be at CityScape.


Look for our booth at community resource events all over Southwest Michigan! For more information, go to www.dnswm.org or call our  Community Education Staff at (269) 345-1516 or (269) 982-7761.

Want to Donate in a

Non-Monetary Way?


Our Nursing Facility Transition Program works to help people in nursing facilities move back into the community. Some people we help transition back into the community need items to help   furnish their new living space. The NFT program accepts donations of the items listed below (new or gently used):

Pots and Pans


 Kitchen items (can openers, dish trays, hot  pads, measuring cups and spoons) 


 Dishes, cups & silverware


 Pots and pans


 Small kitchen appliances (coffee pots, microwaves, toasters, crockpots)


 Small furniture (end tables, lamps, coffee tables, night stands, etc.)


 Home telephones






If you have items you are interested in donating, please contact Lisa Hansen at (269) 345-1516 x 111. 


BARRY Berrien Branch Calhoun Cass Kalamazoo ST. JOSEPH VAN BUREN



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