On December 19th, Montanans will join the 5th anniversary celebrations of the U.S. ABLE Act. The Stephen Beck, Jr. Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act recognizes the late Mr. Beck, who paved the way for a better life for his daughter, Natalie, and for individuals like Natalie, by empowering millions of eligible Americans to save money for their future. The ABLE Act established a tax-advantaged program for qualified individuals and their families to save money for disability-related expenses.
After the passage of the ABLE Act, Montana established its ABLE program during the next state legislative session. Senators Fred Thomas, Mary Caferro, and Cynthia Wolken co-sponsored SB 399; it passed the Montana Senate 49-1, the House 100-0, and was signed by Governor Bullock on May 5, 2015. Today, nearly 300 people living with disabilities have Montana ABLE accounts.
Read more about ABLE
The future of health begins with you. Your Family history can tell researchers a lot about medical issues that might be related to your genes. What researchers find out from studying this information could lead to better treatment and disesase prevention for all of us.All of US research project wants to bring precision medicine to every American. The goal of All of Us is to advance precision medicine. Precision medicine is health care that is based on you as an individual. It takes into account factors like where you live, what you do, and your family health history. Precision medicine’s goal is to be able to tell people the best ways to stay healthy. If someone does get sick, precision medicine may help health care teams find the treatment that will work best.
Stephen Mikita, J.D., is a Participant Representative on the Steering Committee forAll of Us, a National Institutes of Health research study that aims to gather health data from 1 million Americans in order to advance precision medicine. An assistant attorney general for the state of Utah, Mikita makes time to participate in the Steering Committee in order to represent the unique concerns of those with disabilities. He took time to chat recently about his role with the project and his hopes for its ultimate impact.
How do you feel about being included in this historic project and what are your objectives in participating in this effort to build a more inclusive picture of Americans’ health?
I am one of four Participant Representative on the All of Us Steering Committee. This committee oversees all aspects of the program and helps give direction to it. I was selected from among a lot of applicants to be one of the first two—there are now a total of six Participant Representatives on the Steering Committee. I think it speaks well of the All of Us mission and commitment to include diverse Americans, and particularly those of us with disabilities, on the committee. Participants in the All of Us Research Program are treated as true partners. The focus is on capturing data and information to achieve the ambitious goals of precision medicine. One size doesn't fit all.
Last night a federal judge in Texas struck down the Affordable Care Act as unconstitutional. In this case, the legal challenge to the law was based on the fact that Congress eliminated the penalty for the individual mandate in last year’s tax bill and the Supreme Court had previously ruled that the individual mandate of the ACA was constitutional because it was an exercise of Congress’s taxing authority. With the elimination of the penalty, Republican attorneys general had challenged the law now saying that without the tax the individual mandate must fall and with it, the rest of the ACA.
Two things should be noted about this decision: first, it will almost certainly be appealed and will probably end up at the Supreme Court for a decision. Second, it will have no legal affect while these appeals go through so the ACA marketplace is still open for business. As today is the last day to enroll in many states (see yesterday’s blog for some exceptions), do not let yesterday’s court ruling deter you from enrolling in health insurance!
Read more at https://nationaldisabilitynavigator.org/2018/12/15/judge-strikes-down-aca-oe6-continues/
Financial help available for most people to get health insurance. Go to www.healthcare.gov today and #GetCovered.
Action Talking Points and Key Statistics
- Access to health insurance coverage is critical to addressing disparities in health outcomes among people with disabilities:
Enroll in or change 2017 Marketplace health insurance right now until January 31, 2017! The American Association on Health and Disabilities has made enrollment easier with disability-related resources for Marketplace Navigators to provide health insurance information and support that is relevant to consumers with disabilities.
The Montana Disability & Health Program has organized these resources for use during Open Enrollment at: [http://mtdh.ruralinstitute.umt.edu/?page_id=7107] to get started!
Also, to begin health insurance enrollment, Cover MT can help you find a Navigator near you!
For those of you who won't be at AUCD this year, this is the poster that we will present on The Safety Project. It's been one of the most enjoyable and important projects we've done!
Thanks for all of your support. Enjoy!
Rosemary and Trinity
Movin' On in Montana is a transition seminar for high school students with disabilities who are considering college. It is hosted at the University of Montana by the Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities. Forty-eight Montana high school students have participated since 2015.
View this webinar from these expert presenters, all of whom have lived experience as self-advocates, to discover ways of teaching these skills to others and fostering them in yourself.
The University of Montana invites applications to fill the position of Program Director for MonTECH at the Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities at the University of Montana. MonTECH provides assistive technology tools and services to people throughout the state of Montana and oversees various assistive technology (AT) programs.
The successful candidate will solicit input from various stakeholders to effectively promote and direct the program. The program director will demonstrate discretion and independent judgment in regard to program efforts and will be responsible for remaining current with developments in the field of assistive technology. This position will directly supervise staff, manage multiple grants and contract budgets and coordinate assistive technology services throughout the state. Consultation and collaboration will be key functions of this position, both internally and externally.
Continue reading MonTECH Program Director position
These days, the use of social media as a tool for employment plays a significant role in today’s job market. Whether someone is looking for a job, interested in keeping a job, or wanting to network within a profession, various social media platforms can be utilized to advance employment goals.
Uses for Social Media and Employment:
Prospective employees use Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram to network, research potential employers, mitigate “digital dirt,” and promote themselves.
Employers use social media and other search tools to investigate potential employees, fact-check resumes, and research common connections.
Continue reading how LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram can assist Vocational Rehabilitation consumers with job search and employment on the RTC: Rural website.
People with intellectual disabilities (ID) are at high risk for abuse. Unique risks include:
- Perception of being easy targets for victimization
- Communication barriers
- Difficulty identifying treatment as abusive, reporting abuse, and recognizing abuse as a crime
- Lack of education about safety from abuse
There is a need for the development and systematic evaluation of a safety program for people with ID.
View The Safety Project poster.
Leveling the Playing Field: Improving Technology Access and Design for People with Intellectual Disabilities
This is an important report regarding use of AT for people with IDD to attain independence. The first page describes the history.
Using social media for employment is an important strategy for anyone on the job market. When searching for a job, consumers must often look well beyond the “help wanted” section of the newspaper. As a result, job search strategies have changed dramatically and social media increasingly plays a part in searching for and maintaining a job. With that in mind, the Use for Social Media for Employment study was created to evaluate Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) counselors’ knowledge of and approach to social media.
Continue reading about social media on the RTC: Rural website.
“A leader for change” is how one colleague put it. Another said, “Without Theresa there would be many young people who would not be getting the education…to prepare them for the future.” They are talking about Theresa Baldry, a long-time disability advocate and part-time UM staff based in Miles City, Montana. Theresa was recently recognized by the Montana Rehabilitation Association with the 2014 President’s Award. This honor is given annually to an individual who has made a major contribution to the rehabilitation of persons with disabilities on a state-wide basis.
Theresa’s UM colleagues said it this way, “Her personal journey raising a son with disabilities has given Theresa amazing insight into the process that is needed to assure that individuals with disabilities have appropriate choices.” They add, that she is a “strong advocate” and that her “experience enables her to provide practical guidance and information.”
Among many other things, Theresa coordinates MonTECH activities in eastern Montana working primarily with schools and local communities to improve educational and life outcomes for young people with disabilities. MonTECH is a major community support of UM’s Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities.
Below are five simple steps that YOU can take today to make a big impact on falls for older adults and adults with disabilities in your community:
- Raise awareness by posting and disseminating this simple and colorful infographic -- 6 Steps to Prevent a Fall -- from the National Council on Aging.
- Check shoes, boots, and assistive devices and be sure that they are “winterized.”
- Ingrid – Ice Gripper Cane Tip is available at Fashionable Canes and Cozy Winters
- Yaktrax Spikeless Ice & Snow Shoe Gripper Sole Covers are at Fashionable Canes
- Keen shoes can be found at OnlineShoes
- Try this inexpensive way to make wheelchair snow tires
- Encourage older adults to carry a Ziploc bag filled with a lightweight kitty litter in their pocket and cast it out ahead of themselves on very slick surfaces. More information about using kitty litter for traction can be found here.
- ‘Tis the season for gift giving! Encourage adult children to give fall-proofing holiday gifts to their parents:
- Fall alarm systems that are motion triggered without hitting a button
- Higher toilets in the home
- Replace multifocal glasses with single vision eyeglass lenses
- Grab bars in bathroom and next to outside steps or inside thresholds
Continue reading fall prevention
By Maclaen Burningham, Rural Institute Consumer Advisory Council Member
In August 2014, I interviewed Nate of Polson, Montana, as an Emerging Leader. I have included the questions I asked Nate and his responses below. Because Nate doesn't speak, I sent him the questions ahead of time and his family communicated with him to develop his answers. His dad spoke for him in the interview, with occasional nods of the head in agreement by Nate to what his dad said.
Maclaen: Thank you for agreeing to this interview. I am going to ask you some questions. Please answer them as thoroughly as you can. You don't have to answer any questions you don't want to answer. We want to help other young adults and their families understand how you are able to live, work, play and learn in your community. Where do you live?
Nate: I live in an apartment that used to be part of a duplex. My parents live upstairs. This gives me the potential in the future to gain more independence by learning to take care of myself.
Maclaen: Where do you work or volunteer?
Nate: Although currently I do not have paid employment, I volunteer at the local food bank with my dad. We re-package potatoes, recycle cardboard and pick up donations from a local grocery store. I enjoy the work as well as time with the staff.
Continue reading the interview with Nate...
Please share this during our season of giving and remembering others.
Mon-Fri 9 AM—4 PM
MonTECH/ UM’s Rural Institute
700 SW Higgins, Suite 200, Missoula, MT 59803
Call 406- 243-2841 or 243-5511
Please don't throw away good and lightly used medical equipment. Pass it on to another Montana resident in need.
All kinds of medical equipment accepted.
Adaptive equipment for children with disabilities is always in need. Plus, sometime or other, we all need crutches, canes, walkers, wheelchairs, commodes, tub benches etc. When you no longer need the equipment or device, consider donating it for another Montanan to use.
Benefiting all Montanans experiencing temporary or permanent disability.
Chris Clasby, a former employee of UM’s MonTECH (Montana's Assistive Technology Program), is featured in a recent Montana PBS episode of "Backroads of Montana.” You will see how Chris uses adaptive equipment to continue experiencing the outdoors after his accident that left him paralyzed from the neck down.
Chris floats down the Missouri River on a modified raft using an adapted fishing rod that works off compressed air. He operates the casting and reeling with his chin. He moves the controller left and right to cast and presses down to reel in the line. “It's the same feeling I had when I fished before I had a disability. Disability does not define you. I’m still the same person I was. It's the same exact thing.”
Continue reading about outdoor recreation
In November, ten University of Montana Rural Institute Consumer Advisory Council (CAC) members from Big Sandy, Columbia Falls, Helena, Polson, Missoula and Miles City traveled to Billings for the 2013 Montana Youth in Transition conference.
Continue reading about workshop
Julia Hammond, a University of Montana doctoral student in Clinical Psychology with a neuropsychology and child & family emphasis, received a scholarship to attend the mid-November conference of the Association of University Centers on Disability (AUCD). Julia is preparing to work with children with neurodevelopmental disorders such as traumatic brain injury and autism.
Continue reading about leadership training