Disability Network Southwest Michigan's quarterly newsletter
July 2020

ADA Thirtieth Anniversary Celebration
A different kind of celebration

text graphic_ 2020_30 The 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act
2020 marks the thirtieth anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Disability Network Southwest Michigan holds an annual event each July to celebrate the landmark legislation which granted rights and provided independence to so many people. This year, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, our celebration will look a little different­-a virtual, online celebration has been planned for Friday, July 24; participants are invited to log in or call in at 11:45 before the program starts at 12:00 noon.

Follow this link for all the details and to register for our 2020|30 event .

Meeting with our Customers Again . . .

Over the past three and a half months, Disability Network staff have done an outstanding job of staying connected to our customers and community while working remotely from our homes. Following directives from Governor Whitmer's office and recommendations from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), we have developed a COVID-19 Preparedness & Response Plan which outlines processes for a phased-in plan of resuming operations in our offices.

As of July 6, we are beginning a phased-in process of  resuming face-to-face meetings with our customers. We are taking every precaution to protect our customers and staff from further spread of Coronavirus. Follow this link for details about meeting with our customers again .
RAMP-A-THON supports our  
Ramp Up program

Disability Network's annual RAMP-A-THON kicks off at our ADA celebration on July 24. RAMP-A-THON raises money to construct or purchase ramps for people with mobility disabilities in our service area. A ramp makes it possible to do something as basic as getting to the mailbox, as important as getting to doctor appointments, and as critical as being able to vacate in the event of an emergency. Ramps allow everyone equal opportunity to be a vibrant part of their community.
Rampathon lunch bag

Make a RAMP-A-THON donation of $5 or more on or before our ADA Celebration on July 24 to receive a RAMP-A-THON insulated lunch bag!

You can make a donation online or drop a check in the mail to:
RAMP-A-THON / Disability Network
517 E. Crosstown Parkway
Kalamazoo, MI 49001

Special Thanks to our RAMP-A-THON corporate sponsors:
Finishing Sponsors:
sponsor logos
  • Allied Mechanical Services
  • Integrity Back & Brain
  • Senior Services of Southwest Michigan
Framing Sponsors:
  • Charles River Laboratories
  • Ron Jackson Insurance
  • AVID, an Employee Resource Group of Whirlpool Corporation
Foundation Sponsors:
  • Aetna Better Health of Michigan
  • Northside Ministerial Alliance
  • Paragon Ophthalmology
Your RAMP-A-THON dollars at work: Meet Lynn

man in wheelchair on ramp_ waiving
Lynn is a World War II veteran who lived at home with his sons until he had a stroke. Following his stroke, he was moved to a nursing facility and his family wasn't sure that he would be able to live at home again. Lynn is a big University of Michigan fan; every week he would host a family gathering at his house to watch the U of M game. His sons contacted Disability Network Southwest Michigan to inquire about having a ramp built on Lynn's house so that he could come home on the weekends and keep the family tradition going which was so important to Lynn.

Through our Ramp Up program, Disability Network partnered with Battle Creek Habitat for Humanity to build a ramp on Lynn's home, allowing Lynn to come home and spend quality time with his family.
New ways of "getting the job done" may open opportunities for people with disabilities

New ways of "getting the job done" may open opportunities for people with disabilities
If there is a silver lining to experiencing a modern-day pandemic, it may be the shift in how people think about alternative ways people can work. With main-stream America (and the rest of the world for that matter) turning to a "work from home" environment, the traditional model of "office work" is being challenged. Disability Rights advocates are hopeful that this shift in thinking will have a positive effect on employment for people with disabilities who may need an accommodation, like remote work, to be successful in employment. Thinking outside the box of what the "workplace" is may pave the way for people with disabilities in the business world. 
Clear face masks assist many with communication
woman wearing clear facemask

Face masks have become ubiquitous worldwide since the COVID-19 pandemic arrived. While they are a great aide to reducing the spread of germs and viruses, they create a problem for many people who are deaf or hard of hearing who rely on reading lips and facial expressions to communicate. COVID-19 has added distance between people as well as a reluctance to pass paper or electronic devices back and forth which puts even more emphasis on the need to read someone's lips and expressions when conversing, and face masks create a significant barrier to this.

In response, several companies have developed transparent face masks which allow people to view the person's mouth movements while they are speaking. Clear face masks are a form of assistive technology which help everyone with better communication.
Funds available for assistive technology

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 about ATLF, email Leatrice Fullerton  at or call (269) 345-1516 x118.
Celebrating Disability Rights in July 

2020_30 logo
In addition to our ADA Anniversary Celebration event, we are hosting a number of disability rights themed events during the month of July. Due to COVID-19, these events will all be held online. Participants can join using a computer or call in on a phone. Pre-register for the events you want to participate in and you will be sent the needed information to connect to the event.

Click on these events for all the details and to register.

  • Tuesday, July 7, 2:00 to 3:30
  • Tuesday, July 14, 2:00 to 4:00 PM
  • Thursday, July 16, 9:00 to 11:00 AM
  • Tuesday, July 21, 9:00 to 11:00 AM
  • Thursday, July 23, 2:00 to 4:00 PM
  • Thursday, July 30, 2020, 5:30 - 7:00 PM
Community Education Remains Online Through Summer

Our Community Education programming will remain online through the summer. In addition to the July events listed above, below is a list of Community Education events for August and September. Look for details on our website for these events as they get closer.

  • How to Make a Difference in Your Community
  • What to Do When an Employee Discloses a Disability
  • Web Movie: Who Cares About Kelsey?  
  • Web Movie: Crip Camp
  • Ableism 101
  • Disability Language & Etiquette
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 and is available in alternative format upon request.
Disability Digest is a monthly e-newsletter focused on the Disability Rights Movement 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.