Editor’s Column – September 2002

On the front page, we gave each candidate for U.S. Senate the opportunity to speak out on the disability-related issues […]

On the front page, we gave each candidate for U.S. Senate the opportunity to speak out on the disability-related issues of concern to him.  Did each of them address the issues that are of concern to you?  They all talked about some of the major issues:  affordable accessible housing, transportation, access to parks and recreational facilities, and the dignity the disability community should be afforded.

However, not one candidate specifically addressed one of my major concerns!  What about MiCASSA, the Medicaid Community-based Attendant Services and Supports Act?  Many disability advocates throughout the country have been fighting for years to get this bill passed.  The first version of this bill was introduced in June 1997, by Newt Gingrich, and would have mandated that every state adopt a universal personal attendant program as an option to nursing homes and institutions for the disabled and elderly.  The difference between that first bill and the new version authored by Senator Harkin is that the latter includes cognitive assistance and support for the developmentally disabled.  We need to make sure that every congressperson recognizes the importance of the choices provided by MiCASSA, as well as the savings it would bring.  We also need assured support of this bill from every congressperson that wants to be endorsed by the disability community.  This bill is not a privilege it is the right to make a dignified choice.  For more on MiCASSA, see page 9.

For both election time and everyday life, Dr. Judith E. Heumann has suggestions on how to get involved politically (page 3).  Get the answers that will allow you to make an informed decision.  Make sure each candidate knows that the disability community is not a silent community and that we are a voting community.

And John Tschida reminds us on page 5 that we have the right to vote by absentee ballot.  Many of you may already be aware of this option but if this is new to you, call your county auditor and request a ballot by mail so that your vote will be counted.

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You may remember Derek VanderVeen and his article “Pack Your Value” in the June issue.  This month, on page 3, Derek with his unique perspective contributes a piece about his experience with Botox, as well as sharing its background as a therapy.  Thanks, Derek, for working with us.

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Linda Larson gives us a glimpse of Dr. Heumann’s speech at the 12th anniversary ADA conference in Minneapolis.  Thanks again to ADA Minnesota for bringing in such a wonderful speaker and our gratitude to you, Linda, for the highlights.

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Jim Czechowicz disguised as an employee of Social Security, but actually one of our crack reporters brings us an article on the recent Association for Persons in Supported Employment (APSE) conference.  It’s clear from Jim’s article that people are talking about hiring persons with disabilities and discussing the advantages of doing so.  One of Jim’s major sources Katherine McCary of SunTrust Bank in Richmond, Virginia describes some of the specific advantages and introduces the Business Leadership Network (BLN), a key resource to help businesses become more friendly workplaces for those in the disability community.  See page 6 for more information.  Thanks, Jim!

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We also thank all who replied to the Access Press Reader Survey.  A summary of the responses is below.  The survey does give us insight on what you like and dislike, as well as suggestions that can improve the paper.  If you haven’t filled out the survey, it’s not too late you can download it from the Access Press website (www.testing.accesspress.org).

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Once again, our columnists have written outstanding pieces.  Our appreciation goes out to Ellen, John, and Pete and to Jeni for her technology update.

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Cannon Valley Publishing, the company that prints Access Press, has been recognized for participation in the Northfield High School vocational program for students with special needs.  We would like to congratulate them.