The iKan-RCIL program started in August of 2010 and its purpose is to teach people who are blind/have low vision and are 55 years or older how to live as independently as possible. IKan-RCIL has been possible with contracts awarded from Kansas Rehabilitation Services (KRS) that allows funding for orientation and mobility training, assistive technology aids and devices, and independent living training. RCIL recently received its third contract which will last through 2020.

Since inception, iKan-RCIL has more than doubled in size from 15 counties in 2010, to 32 counties beginning in July 2017. The coverage area includes the following counties: Allen, Anderson, Bourbon, Brown, Chase, Chautauqua, Cherokee, Clay, Coffey, Crawford, Dickinson, Doniphan, Elk, Geary, Greenwood, Jackson, Labette, Lyon, Marion, Marshall, Montgomery, Morris, Nemaha, Neosho, Osage, Pottawatomie, Riley, Shawnee, Wabaunsee, Washington, Wilson, and Woodson. This is including the nine counties RCIL began covering in July (Chautauqua, Cherokee, Crawford, Elk, Labette, Montgomery, Neosho, Wilson, and Woodson.)

iKan-RCIL map 2017

To be eligible for this program you must live in one of the above mentioned counties, be 55 years or older and have a vision loss that affects your daily living. Mandy Smith, Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist, who is based out of the Osage City office provides the services for this program. She travels to individuals’ homes to teach the skills and/or give items that will allow individuals to be as independent as possible. This program is free to the individual and can be provided in any home setting. Mandy also does presentations to promote services and educate the public. Mandy will also be hosting independent living classes through the next three years throughout the 32 counties. Look for more information on these classes in the near future.

ikan-RCIL Flier

Do you want to help others? Are you looking for rewarding work with a flexible schedule and great hourly pay?  Resource Center for Independent Living, Inc. (RCIL) is seeking to hire patient, and caring Transitional Living Specialists, committed to creative problem solving and overcoming barriers,  to work one-on-one with individuals in their homes who have experienced traumatic brain injury as they re-learn life skills.  Experience not required. Paid training is provided.  Applicants must meet background check requirements.  Opening available in the following areas: El Dorado, Potwin, Fredonia, Overland Park, Lawrence, Devon/Fort Scott, LaCygne, and Quenemo.  RCIL is a non-profit organization that is committed to working with individuals, families, and communities to promote independent living and individual choice to persons with disabilities.  Submit resume or request an application via email to or by calling Tania Harrington at 800-580-7245. 


ATK Expo

Please keep September 12-14 open to join the Assistive Technology (AT) Expo at the Topeka Expo Center.  More than 20 AT sessions will be given ranging from independent living, community, employment, education and recreation.  There will also be around 200 booths set up in the Expo hall.  The AT Expo is free to the public!  The AT Expo is put on by Assistive Technology for Kansans (ATK)

Below is a link for more information on the AT Expo.

RCIL was awarded part of the grant from Kansas Rehabilitation and Services (KRS) to serve individuals who are 55 years and older and are blind or have low vision.  RCIL has been serving this population since August of 2010 with the PILR/RCIL/SKIL consortium that was also funded by a grant from KRS.  This time, however, RCIL applied on their own.

This program is titled iKan-RCIL and covers 23 counties from Northeast Kansas to Southeast Kansas. These counties include: Allen, Anderson, Bourbon, Brown, Chase, Clay, Coffey, Dickinson, Doniphan, Geary, Greenwood, Jackson, Lyon, Marion, Marshall, Morris, Nemaha, Osage, Pottawatomie, Riley, Shawnee, Wabaunsee and Washington.  (There is a map below which iKan-RCIL’s area is in yellow.)  iKan-RCIL county coverage changed by no longer covering Cowley, Butler, Elk, Linn or Sumner counties.

Funds provided for this program are included to pay for services to individuals who have low vision or blindness and are 55 years and older.  Services include teaching independent living skills to promote independence and allowing the individual to live in the environment they chose.  Also, orientation and mobility which individuals are taught how to travel safely, independently and efficiently and this can include learning to use a white cane, talking GPS and many other tools.  Other services include advocacy, information and referral, peer counseling and deinstitutionalization.

If you are interested in learning more or know someone who would benefit from these services please call (785) 267-1717 and ask for Mandy Smith.


Is it possible to eat healthy and still stay on your budget?  I’ve always heard “But eating healthy always costs so much more.”  I guess it depends on what your definition of eating healthy is but really it doesn’t have to cost any more than eating “regularly or non-healthy”.  Eating healthy really has to do with portion control and watching what enters your body.  Below are some “cheap and healthy” foods.

  • Bag of brown rice costs around $2.00 {which is even cheaper when you think of all the servings}
  • Whole wheat pasta and bread costs around $2.00 {again, many servings}
  • Yogurt costs around $0.50-$1.00
  • Old-fashioned oats costs around $4.00 {Totals around $0.17 per servings}
  • Frozen vegetables costs around $2.00. –  I think people forget about frozen being a healthy option, but this is a great way to go so you can just cook how much you need and put the rest up and they won’t go bad like fresh vegetables will.
  • Bag of potatoes costs around $4 for 5 pounds!
  • Canned tuna costs around $1.00-$2.00.  Tuna is great to use in a main dish (combine with whole wheat pasta mentioned above), or in a sandwich (whole wheat bread also mentioned), or add on a salad.
  • Bagged Spinach costs around $2.00

With buying these simple cheap items you are on your way to a healthy life style.  These food items also are easy to make with very little prep time in the kitchen which makes them family friendly.

Do you have any suggestions for healthy cheap food items or recipes?  Contact me at

Lighting is so important when trying to accomplish daily tasks. Think about when you are outside and the sun is so bright you are unable to see. Think about when you are indoors and cannot find the light switch in a new environment. Lighting becomes even more important when you have a vision loss.

When a person is losing or lost part of their vision, having the most appropriate lighting possible can make all of the difference. I’ve had people say “I can see anything with the right light.” But one must realize the right light does not mean the brightest light. One consumer explained to me that when she goes outside it’s like she’s looking at a mountain of snow with the glare coming off of it. And no one light source works the best for everyone. Most people with low vision do see best with natural light (sunlight). Others see best with a blue tinted or yellow tinted light to eliminate glare.

If a person isn’t using enough light, they may be missing information they shouldn’t have to be. A lot of people like direct light on the item they are trying to see. There are many lighting options including lamps, overhead lights, windows for natural light and magnifiers with built in lights. As for which will work best it is up to the person and his/her eye condition. I recommend trying different lighting sources and options before other devices or equipment that can be very costly.

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  It’s time to be prepared!

I solicited ideas for this blog post from our followers on Twitter and Facebook. Thanks to @Wayne2poles for the topic regarding how people with disabilities can live alone and can afford it.

Being gainfully employed is the best way to be able to afford to live independently. Not only does it allow you to bring home more money that disability benefits alone, but it offers you empowerment, success, and fulfillment.

Finding a job as a person with a disability has always been more difficult than finding one as an able-bodied person. Now state and local governments are slashing assistance, public transportation companies are raising fares and decreasing services, and the job market is flooded with people who are out of work, making most jobs more difficult for anyone to get.

Despite the best efforts of people with disabilities and their advocates, finding or retaining employment can be very difficult at this time. That means that we must become ever more resourceful to live within our very limited means.

Following are some tips to help you live independently on a very tight budget.

    • Apply for benefits that you are eligible for – In Kansas, if you are a person with a disability you may be eligible for some types of public assistance such as Medicaid, Food Stamp benefits, utility assistance through LIEAP, and day care assistance. To apply you can visit the SRS website.
    • Know what services and resources are available to you – Centers for Independent Living(CILs) including the Resource Center for Independent Living are great community resources. We can help connect you with local food banks, volunteer programs, community funding programs, and other services that can help you make it through a tight month.
    • Take charge of your budget – The importance of this step cannot be overstated. A good way to start is to keep a daily record of what you spend, even if it’s 50 cents for a soda. This link is to a great article on getting started with a budget including a worksheet you can print off to start tracking. Once you know what you are spending, you can use these free worksheets to create your own budget. This is another area in which CILs can come in handy. One our our core services is Independent Living Skills Training. You can receive education and assistance in learning how to set up and manage your own budget.
    • Find local couponing groups – To help your grocery and household item budget stretch more, consider joining local groups that teach and support you to use coupons. Inspired by a television show; groups have popped up all over the nation dedicated to extreme couponing. While you don’t have to necessarily be extreme, using some of these techniques can be very beneficial. There are also several online groups and forums devoted to the topic.
    • Weatherproof your home or apartment – Many cities and counties have organizations that can help low income tenants or owners weatherize their homes. This will save a large amount on utilities. Here is also an online do-it-yourself weatherization guide.
    • Join a local Freecycle groupFreecycle groups consist of local people willing to give away or trade items or services for other items or services. This is a great way to obtain a needed item you can’t afford as well as make sure things that you aren’t using are going to people who need them.


These are just a few ideas to help you stretch your budget. I would love to hear from you regarding other techniques and resources, leave them in the comments and thanks for reading!

As we edge closer to winter, the leaves are changing and falling, the air is cooler, and the days are shorter. These are expected changes we prepare for each year. This year, Kansans with disabilities are experiencing many other changes.

There is a new administration in Kansas state government and in SRS, over the last several months words like “reform” and “managed care” have been making frequent appearances. There are also the not unexpected Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) waiver changes that began yesterday after a somewhat confusing implementation process.

What does this all mean for you? In all honesty, we aren’t sure yet. There are certainly parts of the equation that we understand, such as Financial Management Services (FMS) implementation, but there are many more parts that have yet to be fully revealed.

The Resource Center for Independent Living has been a part of the dialogue from the beginning, offering our ideas, concerns, and opinions at every opportunity to do so. We have worked closely with other Centers for Independent Living and agencies for the disability community to form a strong, cohesive voice seeking to protect and ensure the rights of people with disabilities do not get overlooked in the demand to save costs and trim budgets.

Kansas has a long history of progressiveness in the disability arena, ensuring personal choice and the Independent Living Philosophy have been a part of our Medicaid programs and that Centers for Independent Living have a seat at the table when it comes to making decisions regarding the lives of people in the disability community.

We will keep working to ensure that Kansas remains a national leader in disability rights and we ask that Kansans with disabilities join with us. This blog has information within it of various advocacy efforts you can be involved in, such as writing letters to the editor, contacting Legislators, and others. If you are interested in receiving advocacy updates and calls to action from us please email me and I will add you to our contact list.

Changes are coming and it’s up to the disability community to ensure that our rights and our best interests are protected. For our part, RCIL will work to keep you updated on changes as we receive information, answer any questions that you may have, and continue to be a voice for Kansans with disabilities.

The Resource Center for Independent Living would like to wish all of you a happy and safe Halloween. Across the country emergency preparedness organizations within local governments and other agencies have embraced the possibility of a Zombie Apocalypse as a fun way to get folks to tune into the necessity of being ready to face a disaster. is a site full of information to help families and communities prepare themselves for emergencies. From tornadoes to earthquakes, radiation scares to fires the importance of advanced readiness cannot be over-emphasized.

The disability community has its own individual needs in case of disaster (or rampaging zombie hordes). Please check out the disability specific section on Ready.govfor tips and guidelines to ensure you are prepared.