Disability Network Southwest Michigan's quarterly newsletter
March 2020

Office Closure Notice

After much consideration, research and conversations with staff and community partners, we have decided to take proactive measures to combat the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. As of March 13, 2020, we have suspended face-to-face services with customers across our eight county region through April 3, 2020. All Disability Network hosted events, including peer support and advocacy groups, are cancelled through April 3, 2020.

We will still be providing services to customers and community members via:
At this time we are unsure how long these precautions will be in place. We will update the home page of our website with any new information. Please know that all events beyond April 3 are tentative at this time.

Ableism . . . A common form of disability discrimination
text graphic_ _Ableism_

There is no question we live in an ableist world. In its simplest form, ableism is the belief system that tells us it is better to be non-disabled than it is to be disabled. Ableism also examines disability discrimination on a systemic level by looking at the ways our society designs physically and socially segregated systems.

Much of society's bend toward ableism stems from the medical model of disability, where we first come to understand disability-something is "wrong" with this person and that "something" needs to be fixed. This is how we are taught to think about disability. What we need to recognize is that just because something is different, does not mean it's broken, wrong, or bad; it's just different. 

Follow this link to read the rest of this article about Ableism.

Have you registered with Smart 911?

Smart911 provides 9-1-1 call takers and first responders with critical information you want them to know during an emergency. Over 80% of calls made to 9-1-1 come from mobile phones. When you dial 9-1-1 from a mobile phone, the 9-1-1 call takers have very little information to help you - only your phone number and a very general sense of your location. This is a serious problem in an emergency when seconds count, particularly if you have medical conditions or are unable to safely speak.

Once you have set up your Smart911 Safety Profile, when you call 9-1-1, your profile information displays on the 9-1-1 screen and the call takers can view all the information you provided such as your addresses, medical information, home information, medications, and emergency contacts. You can provide as much or as little information as you like and you can enter information for your entire household in one account.

Smart911 is a national service which means your Smart911 Safety Profile travels with you and is visible to any participating 9-1-1 center nationwide. Visit Smart911  to learn more and to set up your account profile.

Preparing the Next Generation of Advocates
Advocacy Academy in its ninth year
We are excited to be offering Advocacy Academy again this summer for the ninth year in Kalamazoo. Advocacy Academy is a six-week, paid, summer program for youth and young adults. Advocacy Academy provides training in advanced advocacy and leadership skills while participants do meaningful work in the Disability Rights Movement. Advocacy Academy also provides valuable employment experience and training which can be applied to other life experiences. Many of our previous participants have received employment recommendations based on their performance during Advocacy Academy.

We are currently accepting applications for Advocacy Academy 2020. We are seeking individuals with disabilities who are between 16-29 years of age, able to commit to the entire six-week position, and are motivated to increase their leadership skills.

Follow this link for more information or to apply for this year's Advocacy Academy.

Meet Alex . . . An Advocacy Academy Graduate
At the age of 20, after completing high school, Alex was eager to move out on her own and be more independent. She participated in Advocacy Academy and was a natural working within the group dynamics; she quickly showed strong leadership skills and was very enthusiastic about the group's advocacy work.

That fall, following Advocacy Academy, Alex got a job as a customer service representative at a local bowling alley. She enjoyed the work and quickly began assuming additional responsibilities and helped to train new employees. At the same time, a friend of hers was looking for a roommate and Alex was thrilled to move out on her own. Alex is being trained at work for a promotion to Shift Manger after just a couple of months of being hired. She is enjoying the freedom and independence of living on her own.

Follow this link to read more of Alex's story.
Need help completing the Census? 
Ask our Information & Referral staff - we're here to help!
hands in a circle - _Everyone Couts. Everyone Wins_ And We_re Counting on you__

Reception for " Patient No More"

museum exhibit
Patient No More is an exhibit curated by The Institute on Disability currently on display at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum. The exhibit focuses on the 504 Sit-in of 1977, an important chapter in the Disability Rights Movement, when disability rights activists staged the longest lasting civil rights protest in history.

As part of the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Kalamazoo Valley Museum and Disability Network Southwest Michigan invite you to join us at a public reception for the exhibit; light refreshments will be served.

Thursday, May 7 | 3:00 - 5:00 PM
Kalamazoo Valley Museum | 230 N. Rose Street, Kalamazoo

Parking ramps convenient to the museum are located on Rose Street at the corner of Eleanor Street and at the corner of Water Street; on-street parking is also available in the area.
Know Your Rights
Overview of laws protecting people with disabilities It's important to know your rights. In this workshop we will be discussing the laws that protect people with disabilities in the areas of employment, housing, public places, voting, transportation and education. The information in this workshop is intended as an overview for the purpose of advocating for your rights; we are not providing legal advice.

This workshop is being offered in April in St. Joseph and Kalamazoo. Follow this link for more information and to register for Know Your Rights.

Disability & Employment
How, When & Why to Talk About Your Disability to an Employer
In this workshop you will learn the only reason you have to tell an employer about your disability or medical condition and the best way to ask for an accommodation at work. We will also cover your rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act and employment resources available to you.

This workshop is being offered in May in Kalamazoo, Lawrence and St. Joseph. Follow this link for more information and to register for Disability & Employment.

DO'S & DON'TS: Assistance Animals
There is a lot of confusion about what qualifies as a service animal and how they differ from emotional support animals. There are specific laws regarding what type of assistance animals are allowed in different places and whether an establishment can deny access to an assistance animal.

This workshop is being offered in May in Three Rivers and Kalamazoo. Follow this link for more information and to register for Do's & Don'ts: Assistance Animals.

Ableism 101 & 102
In it's simplest form, ableism is the belief system that tells us it is better to be non-disabled than it is to be disabled. Ableism also examines disability discrimination on a systemic level by looking at the ways our society designs physically and socially segregated systems.
We offer an introduction to the concept of ableism in Ableism 101. Ableism 102 builds on what you learned in 101 with a deeper examination of the causes and impacts of ableism and what it means to be truly inclusive. (Please note you must have attended 101 prior to attending 102.)  
Ableism workshops are being offered in June in Kalamazoo and St. Joseph. Follow this link for more information and to register for Ableism workshops.
SAVE THE DATE:  July 24th | ADA Anniversary Celebration

2020_30 The 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act
Mark your calendars for a celebration of the thirtieth anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act on Friday, July 24 from 11:30 AM ­to 1:30 PM. We are hosting a community-wide event at our Kalamazoo office, including a free lunch, awards, and speakers. We invite all community members and organizations to join us!
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.