Westchester Independent Living Center

Putnam Independent Living Services

March 2023

The WILC team has a lot of helpful information to share this month! Please read along to find some valuable tips and resources to kick-start your health and

well-being this Spring.

Honoring the Life of Judy Heumann

Photo credit: John Duricka/Associated Press

The disabled community is mourning the loss of Judy Heumann, a disability rights activist and a quadriplegic who passed away earlier this month at the age of 75. Judy’s career began when she advocated for her right to be allowed to work as a teacher in New York City when discrimination against people living with disabilities was more prominent. She helped begin a revolution that influenced the government’s involvement in the lives of people living with disabilities, such as herself. The WILC & PILS teams are thankful for the progress that Judy has made, paving the way for future disability activists. 

To learn more about Judy Heumann and her accomplishments, click HERE.

Community Assessment Survey for Older Adults 2023

The New York State Office of the Aging (NYSOFA) and the Association on Aging in New York are working with the research firm Polco to launch the state's first-ever community assessment survey of older adults. These survey results will be an enormous contribution to the state's Master Plan for Aging (MPA).

The survey is available online for anyone age 60 and over to complete. The survey is at https://polco.us/ny23op and is open until March 30, 2023. 

Social Security Continuing Disability Review Report 

To make it easier for people to submit, adult beneficiaries who do not have a representative payee can now complete the medical Continuing Disability Review Report (Form SSA-454) using their personal my Social Security account.


Social Security regulations require periodic reviews of the current medical condition of all people receiving disability benefits to determine if they continue to have a qualifying disability. Details about the Continuing Disability Review process are here.

The Social Security Administration sends requests for updated disability reports by mail. Eligible beneficiaries now have the option to either return the report by mail or complete the forms using their personal my Social Security account. If eligible, the person can log in to their account and complete the Continuing Disability Review Report (Form SSA-454) and Authorization to Disclose to Information to the Social Security Administration (Form SSA-827). 

Answering Your Questions About Braille

What is Braille?

Unified English Braille (UEB) is a tactile (touch) alphabet used by blind people to read and write. All Braille letters or symbols are formed within a Braille cell.  Each Braille cell can contain up to six dots (two columns of three), numbered 1-6.  The dots “raised” in each cell determine what the letter or symbol means. Braille is not a language but can be used when reading and writing any language, following its same rules for writing and punctuation. 

Is Braille hard to learn?

Braille is taught on a one-to-one basis and can be learned by individuals at any age. For success in reading and writing Braille, an individual must be motivated to learn and practice as it takes time, patience and the ability to memorize and to recall what was learned. Because Braille requires the reader to feel the Braille cells, Braille may be challenging to learn for individuals with loss of feeling in the hands and fingers. Others with a cognitive impairment, dementia, Alzheimer’s, a history of strokes, additional disabilities or poor fine motor coordination may also have difficulty learning Braille. Blind and visually impaired children and adults who are learning English can simultaneously learn Braille for reading and writing purposes, provided they have a qualified instructor able to teach them.

What are Braille grades? Do I have to start learning Braille at Grade I? 

There are two levels or grades of UEB. Everyone starts Braille instruction with Grade I, which is also known as uncontracted Braille. It consists of Braille letter-for-letter substitution of the print counterpart. Some individuals may wish to also learn Grade II Braille, or contracted Braille. Grade II Braille is made up of contractions that substitute shorter sequences for the full spelling of commonly occurring words or letter groups. Grade II Braille makes it possible to read more quickly and it requires less storage space. 

How long does it take to learn Braille?

The time it takes to learn Braille often depends on an individual’s goals for using Braille. If an individual wishes to learn Grade I Braille only, the individual may be able to learn Braille in a few short months. If an individual wishes to fluently read and write Grade II Braille, the individual will need to learn contracted Braille, which can take more than one year to learn. The learner’s motivation and commitment to learning Braille will also impact the time it takes to learn. 

To read more, click HERE.  

The Affordable Connectivity Program

If you or someone you know needs help paying for internet service, you may qualify for a monthly discount on a new or existing internet service plan through a government program called the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP).

You may also qualify for a one-time device discount of up to $100, to buy a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers.

To apply, visit AffordableConnectivity.gov or call 1-877-384-2575 to request an application.

Upcoming Webinars

Westchester Residential Opportunities, INC. (WRO) Presents: Fair Housing 101

Join us to learn more about fair housing rights and the protected classes.

DATE: Tuesday, March 21, 2023

TIME: 11:00 am – 12:00 pm 


To register, email ebussian@wilc.org or call (914) 682 – 3926 x 2131

FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student AID) How to Apply 

Join us to learn who qualifies for FAFSA and how to apply. 

DATE: Wednesday, March 22, 2023 

TIME: 11:00 am – 12:00 pm 


To register, email ddellisanti@wilc.org or call (914) 682-3926 x 2131

Social Skills Group 

Ages 18-27 years old

Join us for four weeks in a safe space to learn social skills and techniques. 

DATE: Mondays, March 27; April 3; April 10; April 17, 2023

TIME: 11:00 am – 12:00pm 


To register, email ddellisanti@wilc.org or call (914) 682-3926 x 2131 

ADA: The American Disabilities Act Know Your Rights!

Presented by: Michael Hellman, ADA Specialist/Community Advocate 

DATE: Wednesday, April 5, 2023

TIME: 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm 


To register, email ebussian@wilc.org or call (914) 682 – 3926 x 2131

Interview Skills Workshop  

Join us to learn skills to make a good impression on your interviews. 

DATE: Wednesday, April 12, 2023

TIME: 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm 


To register, email ddellisanti@wilc.org or call (914) 682-3926 x 2131 

Virtual Resource & Transition Fair

The Putnam County Transition Consortium, Brewster Central School District and Green Chimneys will be holding a virtual Resource and Transition Fair on During the Fair, local agencies will be available to provide information about their programs and services now and into the future for families & students with and IEP or 504 plan. There will also be breakout sessions presented by the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) and Adult Continuing Career and Education Services (ACCES-VR).  

DATE: Monday, April 27, 2022, 

TIME: 4:00 pm – 6:00 p.m.


To register, click HERE. For more information, contact Jessica Baumann at jbaumann@putnamils.org or (845) 228-7457. 

Facebook  Instagram  LinkedIn

Westchester Independent Living Center

10 County Center Road 2nd floor

White Plains, NY 10607

(914) 682-3926 (Voice)

(914) 259-8036 (VP)

(914) 682-8518 (FAX)


Facebook  LinkedIn

Putnam Independent Living Services

1441 Route 22, Suite 204

(Tompkins Mahopac Bank building)

Brewster, New York 10509

(845) 228-7457 (Voice)

(914) 259-8036 (VP)

(845) 228-7460 (Fax)