Tomorrow, July 14th, is the last day to register to vote for the primary election on August 4th.  You may register online, by mail, or in person.  The link to register is https://www.vote.org/register-to-vote/kansas/

According to vote411.org the process for an absentee ballot is as follows:

To vote by mail, follow these instructions:

  • Complete the application for an advance ballot
  • Provide either your driver’s license number on the ballot application or a copy of your photo ID document with your application
  • Return the application to your county election office before the registration deadline for the next election
  • The ballot will be mailed to you. Complete and return your ballot to your county election office by mail for the next election
  • All ballots must be received in the county election office by the close of the polls on Election Day
  • You may request assistance in applying for and casting an advance voting ballot

Advance ballots are mailed out beginning 20 days before the election until the 4 days before an election. Make sure you apply for an advance ballot before the deadline to receive your ballot in the mail.

If you have anymore questions your local county election office will be able to help you.  Your vote matters, make sure to cast your vote August 4th (and November 3rd in the general election).

 

 

The Kansas Disability Caucus, Inc. would like to announce registration is open for the Kansas Online Disability Caucus on August 12th-14th. After our Board had to make a difficult decision to cancel the in person Disability Caucus event on the same dates in Topeka, we felt it important that we provide some sessions online. We are excited with the sessions to be presented to provide important information to the Kansas disability community, as well as gather information from you all to give us direction of where our advocacy efforts should be focused. The KDC Board strongly believes in “Nothing About Us Without Us”. This is your opportunity to provide input and learn more about exercising your right to vote. And it is all FREE!!!! Deadline for registration is July 26th.

Check out the attached announcement and register online! (First one is a Word Document, second is PDF)

KS Disability Caucus – Online Announcement 2020

KS Disability Caucus – Online Announcement 2020

Researchers with the Great Lakes ADA Center in the Department of Disability and Human Development at the University of Illinois at Chicago are seeking participants to complete an online survey about work, internet use, and disability rights.

Who is eligible for this study?
Survey participates must:
Identify as having a disability.
Be 18-24 years old.
Work or be currently seeking employment.
Live in the United States.

What does the research involve?
It involves an online survey that includes questions about how and where you work, how you use different social networking websites, and your familiarity with disability rights related issues. You do not need to have any prior knowledge in order to participate. Survey participants can enter a drawing for one of eight $50 Amazon gift cards.

Questions? Contact:
Robert Gould, PhD (Principal Investigator).
Assistant Clinical Professor
Director of Research, Great Lakes ADA Center
Department of Disability and Human Development
University of Illinois at Chicago
rgould3@uic.edu
(312) 413- 2299

I get questions many times about available apps for people who have vision loss. I thought I’d write a brief description of 5 apps that have great features for people who are blind or visually impaired.

  1. LookTel Money Reader – This app uses the camera on the back of the phone/tablet and then says out loud along with large print on the screen what nomination the bill is. This allows easy money identification at home or while out.
  2. Tap Tap See – This app also uses the camera to take a picture of an object the person needs to identify. Using an internet search Tap Tap See will give an audio description of the item.
  3. Be My Eyes – Be My Eyes is similar to Tap Tap See, it uses the camera but you connect to a live person. This person is a volunteer so they do not have any training with working with people with vision loss. The person with the vision loss uses their camera to show what item they need identified or read and the volunteer assists them.
  4. KNFB Reader – While this app is not free like the others it has a purpose most would find priceless. This app converts text to speech and/or Braille for users. It can read documents long and short by taking a picture using the camera on the phone/tablet and using ocular character recognition (OCR) can read the document out loud.
  5. Seeing AI – This is one of my favorite apps. Seeing AI has multiple purposes again using the phone/tablet’s camera. This app can identify text such as KNFB Reader using OCR for short and longer text. And unlike any other OCR it is able to read some handwriting! It can also identify money like the LookTel Money Reader. It has a bar code reader to give product description and read labels. It can also give a description of people and the scene/surroundings indoors.

These apps are not a one size fits all or needed for everyone but a great tool for a person’s tool kit. If you have questions on how to download or anything else please contact Mandy Smith at (785)528-3105.

 

National Alliance on Mental Illness, NAMI, is offering the following supports:

First, we are implementing monthly workshops via online to provide educational topics.  To do this, we are seeking workshop topics and presenters.  If interested in submitting a workshop proposal, you can learn more at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/2020-2021_Online_Workshops

Second, we implemented an online support group for Front Line, Essential Workers.  Is a secured platform and password protected.  Please share the registration link with those in your network who may be in need of some support during these challenging times.  Please register for Essential Worker NAMI Connection Group for Kansas on June 15, 2020 7:00 PM CDT at:  https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/526593908598952715

Third, our first Educational Workshop is scheduled for July 17, 3p – 4p.  The workshop topic is on NAMI HelpLines, “Who Ya Gonna Call?  NAMI HelpLines!” Please share the registration link with those in your network: Who Ya Gonna Call? NAMI HelpLines! on Jul 17, 2020 3:00 PM CDT at: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/4801870051254978829

Travel to Provide Essential HCBS

 RCIL has received calls from concerned Direct Support Workers regarding the need for travel documents while they are working for their consumer during “stay at home” ordered periods. RCIL has received official direction from the Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services that Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) are considered essential healthcare. KDADS said, “We are being assured by the Emergency Operations Center that there will be no widespread efforts to stop folks to ensure they are out and about for an “essential” reason. We have seen the letters that other industries have been issuing to their employees and we have been told those will not be necessary. At this time, I would just assure consumers and DSWs that they can perform their essential travel/duties. If something changes, we will let everyone know.”

RCIL has had direct communication with several local law enforcement agencies (City of Topeka Police Department, City of Burlington Police Department, etc.) and have been repeatedly reassured the individuals traveling in their cars or who are performing essential functions (grocery shopping, going to the pharmacy, etc.) will not be asked to provide paperwork regarding their essential functions.  If you are asked, “Where are you headed”, simply be honest and let them know you are providing essential home care duties.

 Direct Support Worker Background Checks

During this time of COVID-19 crisis (at least until May 1, 2020), RCIL will cover the cost of Direct Support Worker (DSW) background checks for NEWLY HIRED DSWs.  RCIL realizes that temporary or additional DSWs may need to be hired and this is one thing RCIL is doing to expedite the process.

Kansas Department for Aging and Disabilities Services (KDADS) is allowing DSWs to start working while the background checks are pending.  DSWs still need to complete the forms and submit them to RCIL.  The eligibility requirements still apply.  Individuals with prohibited offenses are not eligible to work as a DSW.  Click here to see the List of Prohibited Offenses:  http://rcilinc.org/dsw

Temporary HCBS Policy Changes Regarding Conflict of Interest

​KDADS is temporarily (for all waivers) allowing payment for Personal Care Services to family caregivers or legally responsible individuals, suspending the conflict of interest mitigation.  These services may be delivered in a person’s home or a temporary setting, including a family member’s home.  RCIL will still need to have completed DSW Hire Packets for these temporary situations so that we can issue wage payments.  As always, call 785-528-3105 to request packets.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for Home and Community Based Services

 RCIL asked Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services (KDADS) about how consumers and their Direct Support Workers (DSWs) can access Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) (gloves, masks, etc.) use while providing Personal Care Services and Enhanced Care Services.  KDADS said that consumers and DSWs could contact their local county emergency management or health department.  However, please keep in-mind that PPE is in incredibly short supply worldwide.  While those entities are serving as the hub for PPE and managing how it is distributed it is highly likely that they will not have PPE to distribute.  Please follow the safety measures already shared including heightened sanitation and social distancing whenever possible.

 RCIL Office Staffing

RCIL is working to provide the same great service consumers have come to expect but within the guidelines developed to prevent the spread of the virus.  All offices are closed to walk-in traffic and no home visits are being conducted however, RCIL is still hard at work behind the scenes while complying with the “10 or less” rule. RCIL’s Main Office in Osage City is working in shifts.  Our telephones are being answered live from 8:00 to 4:00, Monday-Friday but when call volume is high you may need to leave a voicemail.  Your call will be returned as quickly as possible.  Our Information and Referral services are also being provided.  RCIL’s phone number is 785-528-3105.

For payroll issues you may prefer to communicate with us by email:  payrollhelpdesk@rcilinc.org

Home and Community Based Services

The health and safety of our consumers, their Direct Support Workers (DSWs) and our staff is the Resource Center for Independent Living’s (RCIL) utmost importance.

With the development of COVID-19, RCIL is following the CDC’s current recommendations and recommend that all consumers and their DSWs follow the CDC recommendations of heightened sanitizing, handwashing, not touching your face, social distancing, not going to work if you are sick or fall in any of the restricted “groups” that have been identified by the CDC.  However, it is very important if you are a DSW and not sick, and your consumer requires or wants your services, please continue to work for them.  Implement the heightened sanitizing practices by washing your hands often, cleaning areas that are frequently touched and isolating yourself as much as possible by social distancing (6 feet from each other). 

In order to be compliant with social distancing, our staff has split their hours worked in the main Osage City office and are closed to the public walk-in traffic.

 RCIL will continue to provide the same great service but it may be delivered in a different manner.   We encourage consumers and DSWs to be even more vigilant in using the mandated AuthentiCare EVV system to accurately record their DSWs time worked.  Incomplete claims, due to missing clock in or clock out times or not clocking in correctly, will take up precious staff time to rectify.  Due to the split time being worked by RCIL staff, we may not be able to make the weekly calls to everyone or correct all of the incomplete claims, as we have in the past, in order to meet payroll deadlines.  For incomplete claims, Verification of Time Worked forms will be mailed to the consumer for competition of the missing information.  We will process as many of those completed Verification of Time Worked forms as we are able to before processing each week’s payroll.  That is why it is imperative that the AuthentiCare EVV system is used, and used accurately.  

Please be patient as we are working diligently to provide the same great service as we always have and meet the needs of our consumers and their DSWs while working under some new conditions.  Our payroll will continue as usual and we do not anticipate any disruption in service.   

If you have questions or know that you have missing clock in or clock out times, RCIL’s telephones will continue to be answered either in person, or by voicemail, 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.  Leave a message including the consumer’s name, DSW’s name, and the issue you may have with the consumer/Authorized Representative confirming the information provided along with a contact telephone number.   You can call the RCIL office anytime at 1-785-528-3105 or 1-800-580-7245.  You can also email RCIL at payrollhelpdesk@rcilinc.org or fax to 785-528-3665.

Regarding other programs and services

Since RCIL offices are closed to the public until further notice and a timetable for them to re-open is uncertain, please remember to call ahead before coming to an RCIL office. Information is changing constantly so check our website www.rcilinc.org and Facebook page regularly for updated information.

Consumers who were working with a Peer Specialist or Independent Living Specialist can still call 785-528-3105 for assistance.

Consumers who need to borrow or return a durable medical device should call 785-528-3105 to check on program status before traveling to their local office.  Need to return borrowed equipment?  Feel free to call and extend your loan date or Equipment can be left outside RCIL’s main entrance at 1137 Laing Street in Osage City.  Please do not leave equipment at any other RCIL office

Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services (KDADS) Secretary Laura Howard today announced that visitation at all four state hospitals has been restricted effective immediately as a measure of precaution to reduce exposure of COVID-19 to residents and staff.
“Restrictions on visitors at state hospitals are a difficult but necessary step in our mission to encourage social distancing and limit exposure to the virus not only for our residents, who are some of the most vulnerable Kansans we serve, but our staff as well,” Secretary Howard said. “To date, there have been no cases of COVID-19 in any of our state hospital facilities and we are making vigilant efforts to continue to provide a safe, healthy environment.”
Consistent with Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ guidance recently released for nursing facilities, new restrictions on visitors and non-essential individuals entering the Kansas Neurological Institute, Parsons State Hospital and Training Center, Osawatomie State Hospital and Larned State Hospital are in place:
• Restricts all visitors, effective immediately, with exceptions for compassionate care, such as end-of-life situations;
o No one showing signs or symptoms of a respiratory infection, such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, or sore throat is allowed on campus.
o No one having been in contact with a person with a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 is allowed on campus.
o No one having traveled to countries with sustained community transmission within the last 14 days is allowed on campus. Currently those countries include Italy, Iran, China and South Korea. An updated listing of these countries can be found at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/after-travel-precautions.html.
• Restricts all volunteers and nonessential health care personnel and other personnel (i.e. barbers);
• Restricts internal and public group activities or appointments;
• Implements active screening of residents and health care personnel for fever and respiratory symptoms;
• Suspends the Foster Grandparent Program (unique to KNI) and volunteer programs;
• Redirects vendors and deliveries to alternate sites on campuses; and
• Closes facilities on state hospital campuses to the public.
Parents and guardians of residents at state hospitals are being asked not to come to campuses and instead check with hospital administration about alternative ways to communicate with their loved ones. Each hospital will work to accommodate visitors via telephone or video if possible.
In end-of-life cases, visitors will be equipped with personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks, and the visit will be limited to a specific room only.
“The populations we serve in our state hospitals are in many cases more vulnerable to COVID-19 than others. That, coupled with the rapid spread of COVID-19 in people who are in close proximity to each other on an ongoing basis, make it necessary to restrict, or in some cases suspend, normal day-today activities,” Deputy Secretary of Hospitals and Facilities Scott Brunner said.
For more information on COVID-19 visit the Kansas Department for Health and Environment’s Resource Center at: www.kdheks.gov/coronavirus.
You also can call 1-866-534-3463 (1-866-KDHEINF).

RCIL’s Mandy Smith will be hosting the following events:

  • Low vision fair April 7th at the Parsons Public Library from 1:00-3:00pm
  • Low vision independent living classes April 23rd and 30th at the Riley County Senior Center in Manhattan from 1:00pm-3:00pm
  • Low vision fair May 13th at the Marion Senior Center from 12:15pm-2:15pm

Please look for more information in the future or call Mandy at (785)528-3105 if you have questions.

I’m a few days late but National Braille Day is celebrated on January 4th, which is Louis Braille’s birthday.  As most know, Louis Braille created Braille at a young age after going blind from accidently poking his eye out and obtaining an infection that affected his second eye.  Louis created Braille after learning a form of night writing the France military was using.

It is important to celebrate National Braille Day or at least discuss it after the fact (LOL) as it is a reminder of how important Braille is.  Braille allows those with vision loss the ability to access print and allows independence.  Louie Braille died in 1852, before he was able to see how great his invention was for future generations.