Accessible Events and Happenings – September 2019

That’s a wrap for VSA MinnesotaVSA Minnesota is moving ahead toward its Sept. 27 shutdown. Before then, celebrate with Minnesota’s […]

Dog in Clyde's Cruiser wagon

That’s a wrap for VSA Minnesota
VSA Minnesota is moving ahead toward its Sept. 27 shutdown. Before then, celebrate with Minnesota’s longtime organization for the arts and disability, and plan for its transition.

The farewell celebration is 6:30-9:30 p.m. Wed, Sept. 23 at Illusion Theater, 528 Hennepin Avenue in Downtown Minneapolis. ASL, AD and OC offered. The event is free, and all are welcome. FFI: 612-332-3888, [email protected]

One more round of Accessibility in the Arts workshops is planned, 1-4 p.m. Tue, Aug. 13 in Detroit Lakes at the Historic Holmes Theatre, 806 Summit Ave. and Tue, Aug. 20 in Grand Rapids at the Reif Arts Center, 720 NW Conifer Drive. Request any needed accommodations in advance.

The workshops are free, but preregister, by calling 612-332-3888 or 800-801-3883 or emailing [email protected]. List name and organization, any need for accommodations and which workshop will be attended.

Learn about accommodations for people with disabilities, disability etiquette and emerging trends in the field of arts access. Electronic resource lists, internet links and suggested contacts will be provided along with refreshments. The sessions target arts administrators, board members and anyone interested in access to the arts for people with disabilities.

VSA Minnesota’s final Emerging Artists Exhibit and Reception is 6-8:30 p.m. Thu, Aug. 15 at Cowles Center for Dance & Performing Arts, 516 Hennepin Ave., Mpls. AD, ASL and OC offered. The event is free, and all are welcome.

Six Minnesota artists who received VSA/Jerome Emerging Artist Grants in 2018 will show their new work at a reception and program. Meet the artists and participate in activities and refreshments that evening. A 7 p.m. program will feature poetry, spoken word and comments by the artists. The exhibit will run through Thu, Aug. 22.

Artists whose works will be featured are D. Allen, Minneapolis — poetry, essay; John Lee Clark, Hopkins — poetry; Mike Harris, Jr., Minneapolis — painting; Harrison Halker Heinks, Edina — photography; Chris Juhn, Burnsville — photography and Shelia D. Nelson, St. Paul — photography. Juhn has photos in this month’s issue of Access Press.

VSA Minnesota administered these annual grants for 23 years to enable Minnesota VSA Minnesota staff members have worked for several months to rehome the organization’s programs. Minnesota Access Alliance is taking over the arts calendar. More information about that transition will be available in late August. The alliance also plans to add VSA resources to its website.

Springboard for the Arts will take on some services for artists with disabilities. COMPAS will add students with disabilities to its school residencies.

The Metropolitan Regional Arts Council is taking on the ADA Access Improvement Grant program for metro area arts organizations. The Guthrie Theater accessibility office will loan out VSA’s caption display (as the theater does now with audio description equipment. VSA Minnesota furniture, equipment and supplies will be made available to other nonprofits.


Attend the Woofaroo
Can Do Canines hosts it annual Woofaroo celebration 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sat, Sept. 14 at the Can Do Canines facility, 9440 Science Center Dr., New Hope, MN.

Dog in Clyde's Cruiser wagon

The Can Do Canines Woofaroo is coming up.

The outdoor family-fun event includes a one-mile fundraising walk, dog costume contest, prizes, dog-centric vendors, food, live music, and more. Fundraise as an individual or as a team. FFI:


Walk for Thought The Minnesota Brain Injury Alliance hosts the 2019 Walk for Thought at 10 a.m. Sat, Sept. 21 at three locations in Minnesota: Duluth’s Leif Erikson Park, St. Cloud’s CentraCare Health Plaza and Long Lake Regional Park in New Brighton. Register a team or walk as an individual FF:

Hearing loss? New resource is available
People with hearing loss can learn more about assistive technology, communications access and other issues at a new website launched in August by the Minnesota Department of Human Services.

The site is designed for people who are deaf, hard of hearing, deafblind and late-deafened; people experiencing age-related hearing loss; and people who live, work and provide services to people with hearing loss. It features captioned videos in American Sign Language, or ASL, and English. Funding comes from a special legislative appropriation approved in 2017.

“This website will help all Minnesotans affected by hearing loss,” said Interim Assistant Commissioner Stacy Twite.

“We hope they’ll bookmark the site and come back to it when they need information.”

The site is organized around the most common issues faced by people with hearing loss:

Assistive technology. Information about the kinds of assistive technology can help people discover how they can improve access to communication and environmental sounds.
Communications access. The site helps people find ASL interpreters and CART (Communications Access Real-time Translation) services, get telephone equipment, and understand legal issues related to communications access.
Life with hearing loss. The site has resources about living with hearing loss and combined hearing and vision loss, as well as options for learning ASL.
Information, resources and services. It includes links to information about deaf mentors for families with deaf or hard of hearing children, support groups, and mental health services from therapists fluent in ASL. The site also has information about classes, events and grants.

Videos focus on issues such as the Telephone Equipment Distribution program and how to connect with experienced DHS staff. The DHS Deaf and Hard of Hearing Division can be reached at 1-800-657-3663 voice, 651-964-1514 videophone, or email [email protected]. The URL for the website is


UPCOMING PACER WORKSHOPS Simon Technology Center Family Fun Day and Tech Expo is 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sat, Sept. 21 at PACER Center. From high-tech gadgets to technology that supports everything from play to learning to employment, there will be plenty to explore and try at the Simon Technology Center Family Fun Day and Tech Expo. Come explore the possibilities of assistive technology and enjoy interacting with a variety of devices for children, teens, and adults. Explore our Innovation Lab, learn to code robots, attend story time, and get creative with accessible art and do-it-yourself activities. The event is free but advance registration is encouraged.

The ABCs of the IEP: Making the Individualized Education Program (IEP) Work for Your Child is offered 6:30-8:30 p.m. Mon, Sept. 23 in Brainerd. The workshop will help parents understand how to use the Individualized Education Program (IEP) to benefit their child. A PACER booklet will be used to understand how each required part of the IEP can be developed to meet the child’s needs. Parents will gain knowledge about how to participate effectively in the annual IEP meeting. Parents need to bring a copy of their child’s most current IEP, and their child’s most recent school special education evaluation report.

Ten Topics to Help Your Child Success in School is offered 6:30- 8:30 p.m. Mon, Sept. 23 at Pacer Center. Parents who participate in this workshop will learn about 10 important areas in special education and acquire skills, knowledge, and several useful tools they can use to help their child with disabilities be more successful. The event is funded in part by a grant from the Minnesota Department of Education. Workshops are free but advance registration required. FFI: PACER, 952-838-9000, 800-537-2237,


Book readers sought
Volunteers are a valuable resource at Radio Talking Book, broadcasting local news and information programs to blind and print-impaired listeners from sites around the state and at the Communication Center in St. Paul. The goal is to provide accurate and timely information to our thousands of listeners throughout Minnesota and across the nation. FFI: Roberta Kitlinski, 651-539-1423


Be a tutor
Minnesota Reading Corps and Minnesota Math Corps are seeking 1,700 tutors for the 2019-20 school year by asking residents to Help Minnesota Be More. Give Your Time As A Tutor. Both full- and part-time tutors are being recruited to begin a year of paid service this fall. By joining Reading Corps or Math Corps, individuals will be helping more than 35,000 students statewide. Reading Corps and Math Corps are statewide initiatives to help every Minnesota student become a successful reader by the end of third grade, and proficient in math by the end of eighth grade. Tutors are being sought for three different levels of commitment: 35, 25 or 18 hours a week. Tutors receive a stipend every two weeks and can earn up to an additional $4,200 for student loans or tuition, which can be gifted to a family member if the tutor is 55 or older. Many tutors also qualify for additional benefits like free health insurance and child care assistance. Sign up soon as tutors start work in August. FFI:,


Help with Tapemark tournament
The Tapemark golf tournament has a change in date, moving from June to Sept. 20-22 at Southview Country Club, West St. Paul. The event, which raises money for people with disabilities, relies on many volunteers to make the tournament a success. Spots are available for volunteers with disabilities. Be a start assistant, help with registration or do other tasks. Volunteers get a food and beverage voucher and a T-shirt. There is a dress code for volunteers, who need to be ready to help, rain or shine. FFI: Michelle Theisen, The Arc Minnesota at 952-915-3670 or [email protected]


Open the door to education
Help adults reach their educational goals and earn their GED. Tutor, teach or assist in a classroom with the Minnesota Literacy Council. Give 2-3 hours a week and help people expand their opportunities and change their lives through education. Provides training and support and accommodations for volunteers with disabilities. FFI: Allison, 651-251-9110,  [email protected], or go here.


MCIL hosts classes and activities
The Metropolitan Center for Independent Living provides many life skills classes as well as fun outings and events for people with disabilities. MCIL is at 530 N. Robert Street, St Paul and most activities are there or start there. Classes and events are listed on the website, Click on “Classes Groups and Sessions” for updated information or to print their calendar. Please give two weeks’ notice if the alternative format or other accommodations are needed. Events are free, accessible and mostly scent-free. The People of Color with disabilities group meets 5:30-8 p.m. the third Thu of each month. FFI: 651-603-2030


Classes and support in Sauk Rapids – Independent Lifestyles, Inc., 215 North Benton Dr., Sauk Rapids, offers many groups and classes, for free or a small fee. Advocates for Independence meet 2-4 p.m. first and third Wed, for persons with disabilities who wish to increase leadership and assertiveness skills. No classes on holidays. Free. Learn self-dense and improve fitness with a free one-month introductory classes, for both adapted martial arts and Tae Guk Known Do. Wear loose clothing and bring a bottle of water. The classes are on Fridays unless there is a holiday. Scott Ridlon is instructor. FFI: 320-267-7717, 320-281-2042


Vision loss group offers activities
Vision Loss Resources provides free and low-cost activities in the Twin Cities for people who are blind or visually impaired. Life skills classes for those with low vision; card games, craft classes, book clubs, walking groups, dinners out, special outings and technology classes are among the offerings. Participants need to RVSP to participate, at least three working days prior to an event. The calendar is also available on the Vision Loss Resources website and as a printable large-print PDF document for those who wish to print their own or additional copies. A new policies handbook will be introduced in February. It has been developed to help everyone understand VLR policies, practices and eligibility requirements. Copies will be available in both the St. Paul and Minneapolis locations. All participants attending Community Center activities will need to sign the one-page summary and community center participation agreement form. FFI: RSVP hotline, 612-843-3439; activity line and audio calendar, 612-253-5155,


Mental health support offered
NAMI Minnesota offers more than 500 free educational classes and presentations statewide each year, along with help in navigating the mental health system. NAMI also has more than 70 free support groups for people living with a mental illness and their families.

In the Twin Cities NAMI has about two dozen family support groups, more than 20 support groups for people living with a mental illness, anxiety support groups, groups for veterans and other groups. Led by trained facilitators, groups provide help and support. Parent resource groups are facilitated by a parent who has a child with a mental illness and who has been trained to lead support groups. A group meets 6:30-8 p.m. on the second and fourth Monday at Eagle Brook Church, 2401 East Buffalo St., White Bear Lake. FFI: Jody Lyons 651-645-2948 x109.

Family support groups help families who have a relative with a mental illness. A group meets at 6:30 p.m. the second and fourth Wed at Centennial United Methodist Church, 1524 Co. Rd. C-2 West, Roseville. FFI: Anne Mae. 651-484-0599.

Open Door Anxiety and Panic support groups help people cope with anxiety disorders. One group meets 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. the second and fourth Thursday in Room 104, Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, 700 Snelling Ave. S., St. Paul. Another group meets 6:30-8 p.m. the first and third Thu at Woodland Hills Church, 1740 Van Dyke St., St. Paul.

A peer support group is offered for LGBTQ adults living with a mental illness. The group meets 1-2:30 p.m. Sat, Living Table United Church of Christ, 3805 E. 40th St, Mpls. FFI: David, 612-920-3925, 651-645-2948.

Young Adult NAMI Connection is a free support group for persons ages 16-20. One group meets 7-8:30 the first and third Thursday at Friends Meeting House, 1725 Grand Ave., St. Paul. A group also meets 7-8:30 p.m. on the first and third Thu at Dental Office of Dr. Crandall & Associates, 2300 East Highway 96, White Bear Lake. The group is facilitated by young adults who live with mental illnesses and are doing well in recovery. A full calendar of all events is offered online. FFI: 651-645-2948,

Hope for Recovery workshop
NAMI Minnesota offers Hope for Recovery workshops, six hours of resources and help for family and friends of a teen or adult living with a mental illness. The workshops are also helpful for people living with a mental illness who are doing well in their recovery. Obtain information about mental illnesses, treatments, crisis management, suicide prevention, the mental health system and local resources along with practical strategies for helping a loved one or friend. This includes learning the LEAP strategy for improving communication: Listen, Empathize, Agree-on what you can, and Partner. Preregistration required. Bring a bag lunch. FFI:


Adult support groups offered
AuSM offers free support groups for adults with autism spectrum disorder. Groups include those for adult family members, women with autism spectrum disorders and independent adults with autism. Check the website for upcoming groups. Groups meet at the AuSM offices at 2380 Wycliff St. FFI: 651-647-1083 ext. 10,


St. Cloud Area Parkinson’s Disease group
St. Could Area Parkinson’s Disease Support Group typically meets 1- p.m. third Mon of each month at ILICIL Independent Lifestyles, 215 N. Benton Dr., Sauk Rapids. Next meetings are Mon, May 20 and June 17. Meetings are open to those diagnosed with Parkinson’s, their families, caregivers and the general public. The free group provides support, education, and awareness about the disease. FFI: 320-529-9000


Family courses on mental illnesses offered
NAMI Minnesota (National Alliance on Mental Illness) offers a free educational course that helps families gain a greater understanding of mental illness, discuss resources, build communication skills, reduce stress and find support. More than 4,000 Minnesota families have benefited from this course. Join others for this series taught by family members who have walked the walk. Two courses are offered soon. The Family-to-Family course meets weekly for 12 weeks on Mondays starting 6:30-9 p.m. Sept. 23 at NAMI Minnesota, 1919 University Ave. W., Suite 400, St. Paul and on Wednesdays starting 6-8:30 p.m. Sept. 18 at Canvas Health, 7066 Stillwater Blvd. N., Oakdale. FFI: Dinah, 651-238-6110 (St. Paul) or Marilyn, 651-497-6858 (Oakdale).


PACER workshop sampling
PACER Center offers many useful free or low-cost workshops and other resources for families of children with any disabilities. Workshops are at PACER Center, 8161 Normandale Blvd., Bloomington, unless specified. Workshops are offered throughout the state, with some workshops available online. Advance registration is required for all workshops. At least 48 hours’ notice is needed for interpretation. Many workshops are live-streamed. Check out PACER’s website and link to the newsletter of statewide workshops that allows participants to pick and choose sessions designed for their needs. Workshops are free but advance registration required.

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