By Jane McClure, Editor
Access Press has long written about the staffing catastrophe we people with disabilities find ourselves in. I am fortunate in that my disabilities don’t require a lot of hands-on help yet, but I am wary of the time when that changes.
The other night the issue became all too real. While waiting for my bus, two men with disabilities approached me. They were very worried about how to catch a bus back from a dinner to their group home. They had never taken the bus by themselves before and were to be home by a set time.
We navigated paying for bus passes and we three boarded the bus. I told the driver to make sure they got off at their stop as it was after mine. Another woman on the bus agreed to help.
They were grateful. I was annoyed, but not at them. The obvious question is, where is a staff member? Well, there likely isn’t one.
Friends have had to give up their homes and move into group homes, where they also face a lack of staff. Or staff dictates schedules in ways that are challenging, such as dinner at 4 p.m. because that because that best fits their schedules. So much for the promises of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Olmstead decision. We cannot participate fully in the community if we cannot do so on our own. We need staff.
I’ll be posting a few times a week with the new Access Press website. You’ll read a wide range of news and musings that won’t be in the monthly print paper.
A little bit about me: I’ve been an editor at Access Press for several years and worked much of that time with the late Tim Benjamin. I live with several disabilities. I also write for St. Paul community papers, and like to do a bit of history writing and research now and then.
My cats Sweet Pea and Scratch like to help out by rearranging notes from time to time.
I’m from north central Iowa and grew up on a cattle farm. Much to my late father’s dismay, I was never good with a lasso. The cattle likely appreciated that.
Jingle Bell Run
The annual Arthritis Foundation Jingle Bell Runs are taking place across the country. Minnesota’s run is in Minneapolis on Dec. 10. Sign up or learn more at https://events.arthritis.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.event&eventID=1427
A numbers game
Do you like numbers? A fun time sink is the U.S. Census website and its month-by-month breakdown. Read more at https://www.census.gov/library/spotlights/by-the-numbers/november/
You can go to the website and subscribe to emails. Or just search the site for information. There’s a lot of good information about disability. The Census Bureau collects data on disability primarily through the American Community Survey and the Survey of Income and Program Participation. Perhaps you’ve taken part in one of these surveys.
The Census Bureau also has an extensive online library on disability issues. You can learn about the subjects covered in the data and how to access it.
We may not always be excited to see the census taker or to fill out forms but the information gathered is so very important and shapes public policy in many ways. Of course with the recent election we were mindful of how the most recent census affected Congressional representation, and which states gained or lost House seats.