RCIL Information and Referral Team received their certification as a Community Resource Specialist through the Alliance for Information and Referral System (AIRS).  This credential demonstrates their ability to work directly with consumers either via phone, e-mail, or in-person to provide mediated information and referral systems navigation.  This certification is very valuable for RCIL because RCIL offers information and referral to anyone with or without a disability who are looking for resources.  These services ranged from providing phone numbers and printed materials to providing information about RCIL services and eligibility and even referrals to other agencies that will best meet the individual’s needs.  Congratulations to the Information and Referral Team!

Learn fall prevention techniques and exercises as well as hearing from community experts regarding overall health and wellness.  This program is free to the public.  The meetings are every Thursday from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. in the Flinthills Room at Newman Regional Health in Emporia, KS.  The first meeting starts on April 4, 2019.  Below is their schedule.

April 4: Introduction to Program and Exercises
April 11: Moving about Safely
April 18: Advancing Exercises and Home Hazards
April 25: Vision & Falls, Community Safety and Footwear
May 2: Managing Medications, Bone Health, Sleep Better
May 9: Getting Out and About
May 16: Review and Plan Ahead

They are currently taking applications.  If you are interested, contact Bobbi Larson at Newman Regional Health at 620-343-6800 ext. 2246.

Do you need assistance to pay your utility bill? The Kansas Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP) is a federally funded program that helps qualifying households pay a portion of their home energy costs by providing a one-time per year benefit. The deadline for 2019 LIEAP application is March 29, 2019. For more information, visit the Department for Children and Families (DCF) website here to review their qualifications and their application. You can print and mail the application or complete the application online. Feel free to contact your local RCIL office if you need assistance to complete the LIEAP application.

An emergency or disaster can happen at any time. Do you have a plan in place to help you keep in touch with your family and friends? What about some of basic essentials like food, water, electricity or even telephones? While each person’s abilities and needs are unique, every individual can take steps to prepare for all kinds of emergencies from fires to tornadoes to floods.  It is best to prepare for an emergency ahead of time by making an emergency plan that fits your own personal needs and those of your loved ones.  Follow the 3 steps listed below to create a plan for any disaster.

Step 1 Get a Kit: put together basic supplies, medications and medical supplies, an extra set of wheelchair batteries, etc. and copies of important documents.

Step 2 Make a Plan: write a plan on paper and put it in your supply kit, make a list of emergency contacts, find locations to go inside and outside of your home, make transportation arrangements if needed, and decide how to handle situations when accommodations are not available.

 Step 3 Be Informed: understand what might happen and know what types of emergencies are likely to affect your region.

For more information about the 3 steps you can visit Ready website at www.ready.gov.  It’s time to be prepared!

We all know that accessible parking is reserved for people with disabilities who have a permit, placard or accessible parking plates. We also know where accessible parking is typically located on level ground and close to an accessible entrance to a store, restaurant, or recreational event. Most accessible parking spaces have an extra “hashed off” area to the right or to the left of the parking space. This additional space serves as an access aisle. Those aisles are needed to permit a person using a wheelchair, electric scooter, or other mobility device to get in and out of their vehicle safely and independently.

Everyone knows if you don’t have a permit, it is illegal to park in accessible parking spaces; however, we all have witnessed someone without a permit parking in an accessible parking space. Let’s face it – it is so convenient to run into a store for just a minute to grab something quick. Yet, “just a minute” is 60 seconds too long. There is usually a person with a disability who is looking for an accessible parking space by the time that person runs in and out of the store. This scenario also applies for parking in the yellow striped access aisles. The most common issue usually happens when a wheelchair user is ready to leave but have no way getting into their vehicle due to the access aisles being blocked by a car, motorcycle, or shopping carts.

So when accessible parking and/or access aisles are used illegally, it forces people with disabilities who need those parking spaces to wait until parking is available or have to park at the very end of the parking lot. This can easily frustrate them because they have to use up more time and energy to get in to a store. It is especially difficult in times of bad weather such as rain or snow.

So let’s do the courteous thing by showing our respect and never parking in an accessible parking space unless you have a permit, placard or accessible parking plate. Also remember to never park in the striped access aisles next to accessible parking spaces even if you have a permit or plates.

 

If you have not had many interactions with persons with disabilities, you may not know exactly how to act. For example, you may ask yourself “how do I talk to someone in a wheelchair?” or “how do I interact with someone who is blind or deaf?” These questions often come to our minds whether we have a disability or not.

The United Spinal Association put together a Disability Etiquette booklet for all of us to learn and to have a better understanding about interacting with people with disabilities.

This booklet provides the basics, tips on specific disabilities, service animals, and much more. To give you an idea of what you can learn from the booklet, below is the portion about the basics of disability etiquette.

ASK BEFORE YOU HELP

Just because someone has a disability, don’t assume he/she needs help. If the setting is accessible, people with disabilities can usually get around fine. Adults with disabilities want to be treated as independent people. Offer assistance only if the person appears to need it. And if he/she does want help, ask how before you act.

BE SENSITIVE ABOUT PHYSICAL CONTACT

Some people with disabilities depend on their arms for balance. Grabbing them-even if your intention is to assist-could knock them off balance. Avoid patting a person on the head or touching his/her wheelchair, scooter or cane. People with disabilities consider their equipment part of their personal space.

THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK

Always speak directly to the person with a disability, not to this companion, aide or sign language interpreter. Making small talk with a person who has a disability is great; just talk to him/her as you would with anyone else. Respect his/her privacy. If you ask about his/her disability, he/she may feel like you are treating him/her as a disability, not as a human being. However, many people with disabilities are comfortable with children’s natural curiosity and do not mind if a child asks them questions.

When communicating to people with disabilities or about people with disabilities, keep in mind what words and phrases you are using. Below are some guidelines that will help you understand.

Disability vs. Handicap

  • A disability is a condition caused by such things as an accident or trauma, disease, or genetics that limits a person’s vision, hearing, speech, mobility, or mental function.
  • A handicap is a constraint imposed upon a person, regardless of that person’s ability or disability. These constraints can be physical or attitudinal. For example, stairs and curbs are handicaps imposed on those who use wheelchairs.

Always remember that the person is not the condition. Keep all your speech person focused, not disability focused. Avoid terms which carry a negative connotation such as abnormal, afflicted, confined, crippled, defective, handicap, invalid, lame, palsied, retarded, stricken, sufferer, victim, and withered. Instead use empowering individualized vocabulary. Also, don’t clump them with phrases like “the blind” or “the disabled.”

DON’T MAKE ASSUMPTIONS

People with disabilities are the best judge of what they can or cannot do. Don’t make decisions for them about participating in any activity. Depending on the situation, it could be a violation of The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) to exclude people because of a presumption about their limitations.

RESPOND GRACIOUSLY TO REQUESTS

When people who have a disability ask for an accommodation at your business, it is not a compliant. It shows they feel comfortable enough in your establishment to ask for what they need. And if they get a positive response, they will probably come back again and tell their friends about the good service they received.

The key thing to remember is if you are ever unsure what to do or say with a person who has a disability just ask them. They are willing to help you to understand and learn. You can learn more about disability etiquette such as specific disabilities by going to www.unitedspinal.org and click on disability etiquette booklet. Or you can go to your local RCIL office to view a hard copy of the booklet in their resource library.

Before I close, I would like to include a final word from disability etiquette booklet that is important to know. It says,

“People with disabilities are individuals with families, jobs, hobbies, likes and dislikes, and problems and joys. While the disability is an integral part of who they are, it alone does not define them. Don’t make them into disability heroes or victims. Treat them as individuals.”

Do you need assistance to pay your utilities bills?  Starting January 18, 2012 The Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP) applications will be available at your local Social Rehabilitation Services (SRS) office and on the SRS website through March 30, 2012.

LIEAP is a federally funded program that helps eligible households pay a portion of their home energy costs by providing a one-time per year benefit.  You will receive a paper application in the mail if you are a 2011 LIEAP applicants and December recipients of food, cash, or medical assistance.  LIEAP applications can be submitted online or by mail starting January 18th through March 30th.

The following summary describes basic LIEAP eligibility provisions.  If you need additional information you can contact SRS at 1-800-432-0043.

In order to qualify, applicants must meet the following requirements:

  1. An adult living at the address must be personally responsible for paying for heating costs incurred at the current residence, payable either to the landlord or to the fuel vendor.
  2. Applicants must demonstrate a recent history of payments toward purchase of the primary heating energy.
  3. The combined gross income (before deductions) of all persons living at the address may not exceed 130% of the federal poverty level according to the guidelines listed below:

Persons Living
at the Address

2012 Maximum Allowable
Monthly Income

1

$1,180

2

$1,594

3

$2,008

4

$2,422

5

$2,836

6

$3,249

7

$3,663

8

$4,077

9

$4,491

10

$4,905

11

$5,319

12

$5,732

 

 

Starting January 1, 2012 everyone will be busy filing their 2011 Income taxes, Homestead tax refund, and/or Food Sales tax refund. The deadline to file is April 17, 2012.  Independent Living Specialists (ILS) at RCIL will be available to teach consumers that are interested to learn how to file their Homestead tax refund and Food Sales tax refund on their own.

There is a resource library in every RCIL office that has a computer and internet access if you prefer to file your tax refunds electronically.  You can use the library on your own or with ILS assistance.

If you are a person that would rather have someone do it for you every year there are free Volunteer Income Tax Assistance programs (VITA) in every local community.  They are trained by Internal Revenue Services (IRS) on how to file Homestead and Food Sales tax refunds and Incomes taxes electronically.  They will be available on a first come first served basis with evening appointments available.  To find out where your local VITA site in your area you can contact your local Department on Aging, Community Action Program, Senior Center, Public Library, or County Clerk.

To prepare your taxes you will need the following information:

  • Photo ID
  • Social Security cards for all persons claimed on each return
  • Birth dates for all dependents
  • All documents showing 2011 income such as W-2, 1099’s, Social Security year-end statements, and Unemployment statements
  • Interest & dividend statements
  • A copy of your 2011 return (if possible)
  • Real Estate Property Tax Statements (if applicable)
  • Persons claiming childcare expenses should bring name of provider, address, phone number, tax ID number, and amount paid
  • If you prefer to receive your refund checks as a direct deposit you should bring bank or credit union routing and account numbers