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Volume 26, Number 12

CMS changes could affect more people

Charlie Smith Award winner shares her experiences, lessons in life

by Jane McClure

by Access Press staff

Controversy continues over the competitive bidding program overseen by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS). This time, specialized wheelchair accessories could be affected by program changes. Those who need specialized auxiliary attachments could end up paying more for the items needed for daily life, having fewer choices in what they can buy and having longer waits to obtain needed items or to have items repaired. Unless Congress can pass bills before year’s end, the changes will take effect on January 1, 2016. That is when CMS is set to expand the competitive bidding program to include specialized wheelchair accessories or attachments. The program expansion will slash reimbursement rates for seat and back cushions, power recline and tilt systems, specialty drive controls and other complex rehabilitative technologies that people with disabilities depend on to help with daily living. Many CMS changes- p. 15

Everyone has a story and was born with a purpose. While people are not born as leaders, advocates or teachers, they may take on those roles as life unfolds. They may find their purpose in life after experiencing struggles of their own, or becoming involved in the struggles of others. Those were themes of the speech 2015 Access Press Charlie Smith Award winner Jessalyn Akerman-Frank gave at the newspaper’s annual banquet November 6 in Bloomington. A low roar of conversation was dominant during social hour, along with music and the other events of the evening. The overflow crowd went silent to enjoy, watching and listening to the Charlie Smith Award winner Jessalyn Akerman-Frank used American American Sign Language Sign Language to deliver her speech. presentation of the award Photo by Erin McKee winner’s speech and the nominating speech by Darlene Zangara. At deaf LGBTQI community and founded an award the end of each speech everyone in the crowd event to promote pride among its members. shook their hands in the air in the sign lanShe has amassed a long resume of community guage of applause. It made for a very inclusive service since moving to Minnesota in 2001. spirit, having everyone with hands in the air. Akerman-Frank’s family and many friends attended Akerman-Frank is a longtime deaf commuthe banquet, as did many supporters of Access Press. nity advocate, and is committed to helping This is the newspaper’s 25th year, so the banquet those who deal with domestic violence issues. was also a celebration of its history and anniversary. Award winner shares - p. 15 She is also deeply involved in Minnesota’s

December 10, 2015 Nonprofit Org. U.S. Postage PAID Twin Cities. MN Permit No. 4766 Address Service Requested

Five percent increase

Best Life Alliance rallies to support caregivers by Jane McClure

More pay is needed for those who care for people with disabilities and elders. The Best Life Alliance, a coalition of more than 130 groups statewide, has launched its quest for $90 million from the 2016 Minnesota Legislature. Group supporters filled the State Office Building media room December 1 to

Longtime personal care attendant Sam Subah addressed the media about the campaign, while co-chairperson Pam Gonella looked on. Photo courtesy of ARRM

make their case for an increase. They were joined by legislative allies, Sen. Kent Eken, DFL-Twin Valley, and Rep. Matt Dean, RDellwood. Best Life Alliance is the new name for The 5% Campaign, which has been a presence at the capitol in recent years. The money sought by the alliance would provider a five percent increase to home and community-based service providers. The group did get a five percent increase in 2014 but fell short during the 2015 session. If state lawmakers pass an increase in 2016, it would take effect July 1. The shortage of personal care attendants has reached a critical stage, according to Best Life Alliance members. More than 90,000 Minnesotans with disabilities and elders need care, but are all too often unable to find help. Low pay and long hours mean jobs can be hard to fill. People who enjoy their work providing care must sometimes take two or three jobs to make ends meet. Pam Gonnella, campaign co-chairperson, said she recently called the home where her adult daughter Sarah lives. A staff member who was leaving cried when Rallying support for caregivers - p. 7

“Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” — A. A. Milne


Many people enjoyed the 2015 Access Press Charlie Smith Award banquet. Pages 8-9 MN-CCD hosts kickoff for 2016 legislative session, seats new board members. Page 3 Assisted suicide proposal raises many troubling questions. Page 4 Attorney who files many access claims has woes of his own. Page 7 State grants provide support to an array of programs. Page 13

INSIDE Accessible Fun, pg 11 Events, pg 12 People & Places, pg 5, 10, 13 Radio Talking Book, pg 14 Regional News, pg 6

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Tim Benjamin We finally got some snow on the ground with just a few days left in 2015—and then it melted in our 40degree week. We can only hope that the rest of the winter is as mild as it’s been. Good news from Commissioner Myron Frans of the Minnesota Management and Budget Department on the state’s financial forecast. The available balance is $1.206 billion, which is a two percent or $90 million increase over what the state forecast at the end of the 2015 legislative session. And much of the savings is, in their words, “…primarily driven by lower health care rates and payments in the medical assistance programs.” The legislature should be encouraged to spend a considerable part of that surplus to create more equity in the medical assistance program. The 5% Campaign, now Best Life Alliance, was successful in promoting legislation that resulted in a five percent reimbursement increase to home and community-based services in 2014. But the campaign was not successful in achieving any compensation growth in 2015. The rumor was that there was a general sense in the 2015 legislature that “direct support providers got a five percent financial expansion last year and there are other worthy programs this year.” Considering the overhead cost savings they yield for the state’s Medical Assistance budget, homecare workers should get an increase to match the nursing

home workers’ incomes. The home care workers should get the same pay rate as their counterparts, in nursing homes. The pay rate should be evenhanded working in either location. For 2016, the Best Life Alliance is requesting a five percent increase in home and community-based services to be divided up into three components; Workforce compensation (wages), enhanced quality of life and person-centered services (advancing services that address individual needs and choices). Both of the latter components could be huge advances in the quality of life of people with disabilities, so I wonder if the funding strategies should be separated. Most legislators are in agreement that community and home-based services are the direction Minnesota needs to go. If the legislators are serious about that commitment they should put more capital into these “quality and person-centered components.” Besides, I keep thinking, doesn’t the Olmstead Plan require these projects? Shouldn’t separate funds be dedicated to compliance for the federally required plan? A federal rule that seems to be threatening to tangle up other waiver services in Minnesota is the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) new broader spousal impoverishment rule. Medicaid has had rules in place to protect, or disregard, a percentage of a noninstitutionalized or ablebodied spouse’s income and assets, not considering them in the approval of community-based services. In Minnesota, we’ve called that a “spousal disregard rule.” Without the Minnesota state disregard rule in place, a spouse may not retain his or her full salary, 401(k)s, college funds for children, pensions and retirement funds and several other assets. While Medicaid had only applied a certain level of impoverishment to

spouses of institutionalized Medicaid recipients, the ACA has now applied such rules to recipients of community-based services. The federal rule would require the noninstitutionalized spouse to spend down assets to a level of poverty qualifying for aid, thus impoverishing both the able-bodied and the spouse with disabilities. To avoid this outcome, married couples would be incentivized to divorce in order for the noninstitutionalized spouse to maintain his or her assets. This doesn’t seem at all as though it was the intent of the law, but the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare indicated that they interpret the ACA to require spousal impoverishment to all recipients of institutional and home-based long-term services and supports. The ACA authors likely had no intentions of impoverishing or forcing families to divorce in order to allow both spouses a secure quality of life. In a state like Minnesota which is more progressive and family-friendly, it would be forcing many into poverty and losing lifetime savings and accumulated retirement funds. There are a lot of healthcare, senior care, and disability advocates working on this issue right now, and it can’t be fast enough. The primary response from Minnesota’s Department of Human Services is not to make any quick decisions until more facts have become clear. The Access Press Charlie Smith Award event was, once again, a fabulous success—and it was obvious in the sight of 200-plus people waving their hands in the air in applause for the deaf community leader, advocate Jessalyn Akerman-Frank. Our centerfold pictures and the smiles on the faces of so many participants tell the story: everyone had a fun time, talking with old friends and learning more about our community and the wonderful people in it. Hope you have a great holiday season and will talk again next month. ■

HISTORY NOTE 25th anniversary

Reflecting on a year of celebration, lessons of history People with disabilities can reflect on the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as 2015 winds down. In Minnesota and across the nation, many celebrations were held to mark this important legislation and its impacts on our community. Most celebrations were held on or near July 26, the anniversary date, including the celebration at the Minnesota History Center. A number of events took place in Washington, DC where the ADA was signed into law by President George Herbert Walker Bush. Before the 25th anniversary year draws to a close, it’s worth acknowledging all of those who came before us and were active in the disability rights movement. Many of the original activists have passed away but their contributions are worthy of recognition. It’s also worth noting the many history resources for those interested in learning more about the ADA and the events leading up to its passage and the 2008 passing of the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA). Our partners at the Minnesota Governor’s Council on

Developmental Disabilities have been generous in sharing stories about ADA history, through the council’s participation in the ADA Legacy Project. The project celebrates the impact of the ADA on disability rights, and honors the contributions of individuals with disabilities and their allies who persevered in securing the passage of this landmark civil rights legislation. In July 2012, the council was asked to participate in the ADA Legacy Project. Over a 2½ year time period, a monthly Moment in Disability History feature was posted on its website, marking important happenings and recognizing some of the many, many leaders across the country who contributed to the passage of the ADA. The Americans with Disabilities Act, Perspectives on the 25th Anniversary is a compilation of those history moments. It provides an opportunity to learn about this history, gain a better understanding of the immensity of the efforts that led to July 26, 1990, and continue the work that remains in order to fully realize what was envisioned when the movement began.

Volume 26, Number 12 • Periodicals Imprint: Pending ISSN Advertising Sales Business Manager/Webmaster Michelle Hegarty Dawn Frederick 612-807-1078 Co-Founder/Publisher/Editor-in-Chief Cartoonist Co-Founder/Publisher Wm. A. Smith, Jr. (1990-1996) Charles F. Smith (1990-2001)

Executive Director Tim Benjamin

Scott Adams

Production Board of Directors Brigid Alseth, Steve Anderson, John Clark, Managing Editor Ellen Houghton with Presentation Images Kristin Jorenby, Halle O'Falvey, Carrie Salberg, Jane McClure Distribution Cheryl Vander Linden, Walt Seibert and S. C. Distribution Mark Zangara Editorial submissions and news releases on topics of interest to persons with disabilities, or persons serving those with disabilities, are welcomed. We reserve the right to edit all submissions. Editorial material and advertising do not necessarily reflect the view of the editor/publisher of Access Press. Paid advertising is available at rates ranging from $12 to $28 per column inch, depending on size and frequency of run. Classified ads are $14, plus 65 cents per word over 12 words. News, display advertising and classified advertising deadline is routinely the 25th of the month. When the 25th falls on a weekend, deadline is the next Monday. Access Press is a monthly tabloid newspaper published for persons with disabilities by Access Press, Ltd. Circulation is 11,000, distributed the 10th of each month through more than 200 locations statewide. Approximately 450 copies are mailed directly to individuals, including political, business, institutional and civic leaders. Subscriptions are available for $30/yr. Low-income, student and bulk subscriptions are available at discounted rates. Application to mail at Periodicals Postage Prices is Pending at the St. Paul, MN 55121 facility. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Access Press at 161 St. Anthony Ave, Suite 901, St. Paul, MN 55103. Inquiries and address changes should be directed to: Access Press; % The Capitol Ridge Inn Offices; 161 St. Anthony Ave; #910; St. Paul, MN 55103; 651-644-2133; Fax: 651-644-2136; email:

It is available in pdf or epub format and can be found at mnddc/ Look under the heading for the ADA Legacy Project. The book is almost 140 pages long. It includes detailed footnotes, which can guide readers to further information on a particular topic. Its section feature events before the ADA, events tied to the ADA’s passage and after the ADA. Some of the information used to compile the book is from Georgetown University’s ArchiveADA. It, too, is a great source of information. ArchiveADA can be found at The archive contains interviews, court cases, articles and other useful documents for anyone interested in specific aspects of ADA history. ■ The History Note is a monthly column sponsored by the Minnesota Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities, or and

December 10, 2015 Volume 26, Number 12

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Annual meeting

MA reform will be disability consortium’s focus by Jane McClure

Playing off yet another year of construction at the state capitol, the Minnesota Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (MN-CCD) will start the 2016 legislative session with a theme of “constructing our future.” More than four dozen members of the consortium attended the group’s annual meeting December 4 at Goodwill-Easter Seals in St. Paul. They looked ahead to the 2016 legislative session, elected board members and reviewed 2015 accomplishments. The consortium’s board and staff are gearing up for the next legislative session. The 2016 Minnesota Legislature convenes Tuesday, March 8. It will be a short session, so advocates need to be ready to mobilize quickly on their bills. Disability policy summits were held throughout the state this fall to gather information from community members and discuss what priorities should be. MN-CCD members reviewed a draft policy agenda with Policy Committee co-chairs Susie Schatz and Dan Endreson. Endreson said the policy agenda will continue to be reviewed, up until the session starts. The MN-CCD lead policy initiative this session will be Medical Assistance (MA) Reform. MA provides adults and elders with disabilities access to services and supports that keep them living in the community. But state-mandated asset and income standards force too many people to spend down assets and live in poverty to keep services and supports needed for independence. Many people contend that the spend-downs make it difficult to maintain any kind of good quality of life. MN-CCD is asking state lawmakers to raise the MA income and assets standards in order to reduce the spend-downs. In 2015 progress was also made on raising the MA excess income standard or spend-down from 75 percent of the Federal Poverty Guideline to 80 percent. MN-CCD and its member groups want to continue to focus on a continued raise. “The crux of this issue will be personal stories,” said Schatz. MN-CCD is collecting stories from people affected by the spend-downs and will feature them in the 2016 version of the annual Faces of Disability exhibit. The exhibit has been a centerpiece of the lobbying effort for people with disabilities. Because of ongoing capitol construction, 2016 will mark the second year in which the popular exhibit won’t be in the capitol rotunda. Instead, it’s likely that posters will be displayed throughout the State Office Building near state lawmakers’ offices. That was seen as effective way to get the word out about the need for MA reform. MN-CCD will also be involved in a coalition policy initiative, with the Best Life Alliance, which is working to obtain a five percent increase to address low wages and the crisis in home and community-based services. (See related story.) In ongoing policy initiatives, MN-CCD will be following two efforts that have both been years in the

making. MN-CCD will be advocating for implementation of the Olmstead Plan. The plan is to provide guidance to better integrate people with disabilities into the great community. Olmstead is likely to be a focus on many bills. The consortium will also be monitoring and weighing in on Community First Services and Supports (CFSS), tracking the transition into and implementation of the program. CFSS will replace the longtime Personal Care Attendant (PCA) program, once everything is in place for it to move forward. MN-CCD will also be involved with two different collaborative efforts, on what it calls policy partnership. The Move Minnesota group is now called Transportation Forward. The statewide group is seeking changes as well as more transparency in how transportation of all types is funded. A key issue for the disability community is how to best meet paratransit needs, especially outside of the Twin Cities. But the group has already lost out on a possible gas tax increase, as Gov. Mark Dayton has announced he is not bringing that idea forward in 2016. The second effort is the Homes for All campaign, which focuses on expansion of affordable housing statewide. A focus for the group has also been accessible housing and that is expected to continue in the upcoming session. MN-CCD’s Grassroots Advocacy Committee members are encouraging community groups to get in-

volved with the Tuesdays at the Capitol. The events draw more than 500 people in 2015. More than half of those who attended identified themselves as selfadvocates. Sixteen different legislators attended. Sponsor or co-sponsor groups are sought for the 2016 session. The advocacy committee also honored outstanding advocates and legislators, and sponsored a button contest to celebrate self-direction, independence and life in the community. Three button designs were chosen from more than 70 contest entries, with buttons handed out at the annual meeting. MN-CCD also elected five new or returning board members December 4: Randall Bachman, Axis Health Care; Kristen McHenry, Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute; Susie Schatz, Lutheran Social Services; Linda Simenstad, Rudolph Community and Care, and Joan Willshire, Minnesota State Council on Disability. Nikki Villavicencio and Gayle Syrdal have resigned from the board, so there are two openings, said Board Chairman David Hancox. MN-CCD will continue to seek members to fill the openings. MN-CCD represents more than 50 disability advocacy organizations. It recently hired a new director, Sheryl Grassie. Grassie has been meeting with member organizations since taking the lead position. For more information, go to or visit the consortium’s Facebook page. ■

Broad disability reforms sought Gov. Mark Dayton and several prominent lawmakers say they intend to produce a broad package of reforms in the 2016 legislative session. The comments were made after a Star Tribune series on life with disability in Minnesota, which described limits on jobs, housing and other life choices community members’ face. The articles described how Minnesota has fallen far behind other states in provides services for people with disabilities.

Documents reviewed by the Star Tribune show that Minnesota is among the most segregated states in the nation for working people with developmental disabilities such as Down syndrome and autism and that hundreds of people with disabilities are being sent, sometimes against their will, to state-licensed group homes where they live with strangers in settings far from their home communities. It also found that people Broad reforms sought - p. 12

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Consistent staff equals quality care

by Pam Gonnella

I am excited to be co-chairing the Best Life Alliance, formerly The 5% Campaign, this year. I am grateful to so many of you who helped advocate for a rate increase for Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) for people with disabilities and older adults over the last few years. But our work is not done! As you may know, the increase in 2014 was a step in the right direction. However, a serious workforce crisis continues and funding has not kept up with rising costs. The Best Life Alliance is energized and focused on one goal: asking lawmakers to prioritize funding in 2016 to address the crisis and support reforms so people with disabilities, older adults, and the caregivers who support them can live their best life. The coalition supports reforms that promote quality services, choice, and individualized options for older adults and people with disabilities. Why the name change: The new name will allow us to transition from a shortterm, “one ask” campaign to an ongoing HCBS coalition. There is a great energy, positivity and broad impact behind this name. It speaks to everyone touched by services: the best lives of people served, caregivers and family members. My family’s story: As the mother of a 33-year-old daughter, Sarah, who has severe disabilities and lives at a group home in Mendota Heights, I see firsthand how the workforce crisis is affecting services. Sarah suffered a severe brain injury from viral encephalitis when she was just five years old. Sarah can no longer speak, has a seizure disorder and is partially blind. She depends on others to feed, dress and bathe her, and wears a helmet to protect her from falls. In spite of so many challenges, Sarah is a very happy person. As a family, we took care of Sarah at home for 25 years with the help of direct care workers. One worked with us for 17 years and one for 24 years, so we know the positive impact of loyal, caring and skilled direct support professionals. A rate increase for HCBS will help provide better wages for the direct care workers who do these skilled and important jobs. Quality staff are needed to make sure that people with disabilities—like my daughter Sarah—and older adults have the best lives possible. Need for quality, stable workforce: My daughter lives in a home with five other people who have high needs. Their staff must be highly trained to meet their medical needs including being proficient in the use of lifts, standers, tube feedings and medications. They must constantly monitor the safety needs and be adept at understanding body language of the individuals who can’t speak. In addition to a

highly trained and caring workforce, this also requires continuity in staffing. The staffing situation at Sarah’s house, like so many others in Minnesota, has been impacted by especially high turnover. Some describe this as the worst they have seen in two decades. Recently, I called the house and talked to a staff member who was working her last day. She cried as she told me how much she would miss the people she supports. But she was leaving due to the high staff turnover, Pam Gonnella difficulty in filling work shifts, and continued low wages. Community-based services increase independence and allow people to be active participants in their communities. They promote health and safety, foster skill development, provide job coaching, meet medical needs, allow people to volunteer, and more. But quality care depends on consistent, quality staff. Without reasonable compensation for direct care workers, it is more and more difficult in this job market to attract and maintain staff. This will only get worse if we do nothing. We also know that turning reforms, including those laid out in Minnesota’s Olmstead Plan, into reality will require a skilled and stable workforce. Ways to get involved: With a projected surplus in Minnesota’s budget, now is the time to take action. We know that legislators will have many priorities during the short 2016 session that begins on March 8, so it is critical that we continue to speak out to make a rate increase a priority. You can help. • Learn more on the Best Life Alliance webpage. • Like the Best Life Alliance on Facebook and follow @BestLifeAlliance on Twitter. • Contact your legislators about why a rate increase in 2016 is important to you, or write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. Thank you for joining us in advocating for a rate increase in 2016 so that people with disabilities and older adults can live their best life! ■ Pam Gonnella, and Steve Larson, are co-chairs of the Best Life Alliance, a nonpartisan coalition of more than 130 Minnesota service providers, caregivers, selfadvocates and families advocating for Home and Community-Based Services.

Why disabled people like me fear medically assisted suicide by Stephanie Woodward

Having been born with a physical disability, I am all too familiar with the overwhelming number of people who feel that decisions should be made for me, not by me. I know the tactics used to coerce disabled people into doing what someone else thinks is best because they’ve been used on me. I am well aware of the “ableist’’ notions that society holds—that having a disability is a tragedy, that we’re a waste of resources and a burden on society, and that we’re ‘brave’ to live with our disabilities (which essentially means that most people would rather die than be ‘brave’ and live with a disability like me). We’re often regarded as incapable of making our own decisions and unworthy of respect. However, when one disabled person announces they want to die, they’re lauded in the press and on social media. Sara Myers, for example, has Lou Gehrig’s disease and has received a slew of media attention for wanting assisted suicide because she began to experience disability. Media focused on Myers’ use of a wheelchair and her need for assistance in showering and toileting to demonstrate why assisted suicide should be available to her. (For full disclosure, I use a wheelchair and have needed assistance with both showering and toileting in my life, and I expect I’ll need more assistance as I age. I take it very personally when media and society lists these as valid reasons to want to die.) With all of these negative stereotypes and stigmas against disabled people, combined with the praise a disabled person receives when they announce that they want to die, nothing scares me more than the legalization of assisted suicide. Legalized assisted suicide has a disproportionate impact on people with disabilities. While everyone else receives suicide prevention, people with disabilities and certain illnesses and old people will receive a fast pass because our lives are viewed as less worthy. Current legislation proposed in New York to legalize assisted suicide not only has no realistic way of

protecting from mistake, coercion or abuse, but also lists no reporting requirements. This means that any doctor could prescribe a lethal dose and any person could administer that dose to kill a person, with medical confidentiality preventing any oversight. No independent witness is required during the death of an individual, so there’s no way to ensure that the individual administered the lethal dose himself or herself. In a world where abuse of people with disabilities and seniors is rampant, this alone is cause for concern. Legalized assisted suicide has a disproportionate impact on disabled people. For example, an adult child of an ill 80-year-old woman could accompany her mother to the doctor to obtain the lethal dose, and then administer it without her mother’s consent. Situations like this have already happened. Kate Cheney, an 85-year-old woman with early dementia, was brought to her doctor by her daughter to obtain a prescription for the lethal dose in Oregon where assisted suicide is legal. The doctor refused to write the prescription. Unfortunately, that did not prevent Cheney’s death. Instead, Cheney’s managed care provider found a different doctor to prescribe the lethal dose. This second doctor had Ms. Cheney undergo a psychiatric exam and found that Cheney lacked the capacity to make this decision, so the lethal dose was, again, not prescribed. Cheney’s daughter became very angry and demanded that her mother undergo another evaluation. This psychologist deemed Cheney competent, but noted that Cheney’s ‘choices may be influenced by her family’s wishes and her daughter, Erika, may be somewhat coercive.’ Soon thereafter Cheney took the lethal dose and died. My concerns about assisted death are shared widely throughout the disability community. In fact, every major disability rights organization that has taken a stance on assisted suicide opposes its legalization. Our concerns extend further than abuse. As I mentioned, disabled people frequently encounter members of society who believe that they know what is best for us. The medical community is one of the biggest offenders. The medical community has historically encouraged parents not to have or raise their disabled children, has prevented disabled people from reproducing by forcibly sterilizing us without our consent, and has forced us into nursing facilities and other institutions simply because of our disabilities. To have this community in charge of deciding who can access assisted suicide is incredibly troubling. In recent years, plenty of medical professionals have deemed that assisted suicide is appropriate solely if a person is disabled. For example, according to the New England Journal of Medicine, most of Dr. Jack Kevorkian’s victims were not terminally ill, they simply had disabilities. Furthermore, the top reasons given for wanting assisted suicide are not pain or fear of future pain, but feeling like a “burden on others,” experiencing a “loss of autonomy,” or a “loss of dignity.” These factors are all disability related, as disabled people are often made to feel like burdens because we need assistance, which also contributes to the perceived loss of autonomy and dignity. I, along with my allies in the disability community, urge all to understand that assisted suicide is not a “right” to be glorified, but a double standard that is lethal Medically assisted suicide - p. 5

December 10, 2015 Volume 26, Number 12

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New service center opens

PEOPLE & PLACES Recycle lights, cords with ProAct

ProAct worked untangled light strings and prepared to recycle them. Photo courtesy of ProAct

Worn out holiday lights and cords shouldn’t go into the trash. Take them to any of the dozens of recycling bins across three counties south of the Twin Cities. Individuals from ProAct began gathering the lights and cords last month, and will properly recycle them. The annual recycling program helps the environment and provides work for people with disabilities. People with disabilities process the cords and bulbs at ProAct’s Eagan and Red Wing facilities through January 2016. It’s an extension of the Recycling Association of Minnesota and its “Recycle Your Holidays” program. The locations served by ProAct are among more than 450 in the metro area. This year the locations served by ProAct include Inver Grove Heights. The lights and cords will be individually disassembled by people with disabilities at ProAct’s Eagan and Red Wing facilities, said ProAct Production Coordinator Jennifer Cavalier. The collection locations aren’t able to accept cord adapters, battery packs, plastic rope lights or CFL lights. “The program is a win-win-win,” said Maggie Mattacola, executive director of operations for the Recycling Association of Minnesota. The customers of local businesses have a free recycling option, valuable recyclables are kept out of the landfill and meaningful employment opportunities are provided for people with disabilities. The program is in its sixth year. WCCO Television is a program partner. Drop-off locations serviced by ProAct are offered in Dakota, Goodhue and Wabasha counties. ■ Medically assisted suicide - from p. 4 to communities that are already marginalized, oppressed and abused. We deserve the same suicide prevention that nondisabled people enjoy, because despite the widespread belief otherwise, I assure you, our lives are worth living. ■ Stephanie Woodward is a graduate of Syracuse University College of Law and is the director of advocacy at the Center for Disability Rights in Rochester, N.Y.

Hennepin County has opened its fifth regional human service center, this one located in downtown Minneapolis. The newest location, meant to serve residents who live and work in central and northeast Minneapolis, is in remodeled offices on the fifth and sixth floors of the Health Services Building, at 525 Portland Ave. That building is home to several other Human Services and Public Health Department programs. Hennepin County programs serve about 14,500 people with disabilities, helping them live in their home communities. “We want to make our services accessible to people in the communities where they live,” said Rex Holzemer, assistant county administrator for human services. “More convenience means people connect with services earlier and we can help them get back to self-sufficiency as quickly as possible.” The new site is part of a larger plan to decentralize Hennepin County’s human services access from a

concentration of offices in downtown Minneapolis, to six sites spread across the county and closer to where residents live, work and attend school. With services in their neighborhoods, Hennepin County residents in need of economic benefits can integrate needed visits with their financial workers and other county staff into their daily routines. The Century Plaza building, at 12th Street and 3rd Avenue, formerly the county’s main human services office, will close in 2017 once all of the regional offices are established. All of the regional sites offer free parking, easy access to mass transit, and childcare during their visits. For the new site, limited parking is available in the HCMC parking ramp. Enter on South 6th Street. Four other regional human services offices already are open, in Brooklyn Center, Bloomington Hopkins and North Minneapolis. Earlier this month, the county celebrated the groundbreaking of a South Minneapolis human service center, which is expected to open in 2017. ■

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Jesson moves to state appeals court Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) Commissioner Lucinda Jesson will fill a vacancy on the Minnesota Court of Appeals. Gov. Mark Dayton announced the appointment December 4. Jesson has led the largest state government department since 2011. DHS has a $36 million budget and 6,200 employees. In a news release Dayton said that Jesson did a superb job managing the department. “Her impeccable qualifications for this position speak for themselves,” Dayton said. “I am certain she will bring the same measure of excellence to the Minnesota Court of Appeals as she has demonstrated during her service at the Department of Human Services.” Jesson expressed gratitude for the new opportunity, telling Minnesota Public Radio that public service has always been the cornerstone of her career. She was one of two state appeals court judges appointed this month. She has led the agency through a number of major program and policy changes. She was commissioner during major work on the Olmstead Plan, which lays out how the state will best integrate people with disabilities into all aspects of community life. ■ (Source: Minnesota Public Radio)

Insurance notices cause panic Hundreds of Minnesotans with disabilities received cancellation notices for their state-funded health insurance. County social workers were flooded with panicked calls from people with mental illnesses and intellectual disabilities who received cancellation notices after missing their November premium payments. More than 2,300 people statewide have received cancellation notices. The changes affect Medical Assistance for Employed Persons with Disabilities, or MA-EPD. The program is meant to encourage work by permitting people with disabilities by paying a premiums to retain low-cost medical insurance while earning more money than is normally allowed under the state plan. About 9,000 Minnesotans are enrolled in MA-EPD. State officials said the notices resulted in a change in payment dates, from mid-month to the fourth. Coverage can be reinstated if people pay by the end of December. But the notices upset many people. Kim Michals of South St. Paul, who has bipolar and borderline personality disorders, recalls “feeling panicked” and “sinking into a desperate state of anxiety,” after receiving his cancellation notice in the mail last week. Although state officials reached out to inform community members of the change, county social workers warned of large numbers of cancellations. “We freaked out” after learning of the changes, said Jackie Poidinger, a program manager for Hennepin County. “This is a pretty vulnerable population to just cut them off. For us, we knew we had to get more proactive.” ■ (Source: Star Tribune)

‘Intractable pain’ added to cannabis program After 15 years of constant pain from nerve damage sustained in a biking accident that paralyzed him “from the armpits down,” David Lambert said an expansion of the medical cannabis program has the potential to transform his life. Last month Minnesota Health Commissioner Ed Ehlinger announced that intractable pain will be added to the narrow list of conditions allowed to utilize Minnesota’s medical cannabis program. Those diagnosed with intractable pain can start receiving medical cannabis treatments on August 1, 2016. The change is expected to add thousands of patients to the program. So far, only 760 people statewide have signed up for the program, which has been affected by high prices and a limited pool of patients. Minnesota currently limits its program to treating one of just nine

conditions, making it one of the most restrictive medical cannabis programs in the country. Minnesota Medical Solutions CEO Kyle Kingsley, whose organization operates a medical cannabis dispensary in Rochester, said the announcement marks “a big day for patients in Minnesota.” He emphasized that, despite the expansion, Minnesota’s standards for defining intractable pain is more limited than other states so it wouldn’t lead to a “free-for-all situation like Colorado.” “I’ve tried every other possible method over many years,” Lambert said. “Marijuana improves my life a lot. It allows me to be out of bed a lot more. It allows me to spend more time with my wife than I usually can (because of the pain).” ■ (Source: Rochester Post-Bulletin)

PCAs’ right to organize upheld Personal care attendants have won a victory in their fight to unionize. The 8th Circuit U.S Court of Appeals December 3 upheld the lower court ruling in the case of Greene versus Dayton, reiterating the right of home care workers in Minnesota to continue organizing through the State Employees International (SEIU) Healthcare Minnesota. The case was heard earlier this fall. Sumer Spika, a mother from St. Paul who works in home care and is a vice president of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, said union advocates are pleased with the court’s decision. “We are very excited to put this particular lawsuit behind us and continue our work to improve our industry for thousands of families across Minnesota. But we know there are other legal attacks still being made against our right to organize improved standards for home care workers and clients, including in the Bierman versus Dayton case, and we will not let any court challenge stop us from moving forward.”

Spika said that while she is proud of the gains the group made with its first contract, it has many more steps before it can get from $11 to $15 per hour. She said it is important that personal care be treated as a career and not as a temporary job. “Our work, done predominantly by women and people of color, has been undervalued for far too long. With our union, we are beginning to fight back and ensure that workers and the people we serve have a voice, and we won’t let any lawsuit stop us. We are glad that this particular lawsuit is behind us as we move forward in our work to improve the lives of thousands of families across our state,” she said. No decision on an appeal has been announced. Those who oppose unionization contend it is a right to work issue. ■ (Source: SEIU Healthcare Minnesota)

Computer access program saved

Pay-for-performance program awards $9.5 million across the state

Comcast has stepped in save Internet service that about 8,500 households in the Twin Cities were about to loss. The service is used by elders, people with disabilities and low-income families. PCs for People is a nonprofit that offers refurbished computers to people in need. For years the nonprofit has also offered Internet services to thousands of lowincome Twin Citians through a wireless-data network from Sprint. When Sprint suddenly announced it was shutting down its outdated network in early November, PCs for People Executive Director Casey Sorensen scrambled to keep his clients connected. Comcast’s “Internet Essentials” offers high-speed home Internet for $10 a month, plus free Wi-Fi, free installation and free Internet training. No contract or credit check is required which sets it apart from other providers, Sorensen said. Those who need service are clamoring to sign up. One registration event in St. Paul drew more than 100 families. (Source: Star Tribune)

Nursing homes throughout Minnesota will launch a variety of quality improvement efforts - leading to outcomes such as better sleep, fewer falls, less depression and lower staff turnover—with a total of $9.5 million in funding through a Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) program. Under the Performance-based Incentive Payment Program, nursing homes sign contracts with DHS to earn higher payments for implementing projects designed to make improvements in key areas they identify themselves. The funding is for the next one to three years. “Projects designed by the nursing homes have been shown over the years to improve quality not just in targeted areas, such as mental health and improved mobility, but to improve nursing home quality overall,” said Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson. Regional News - p. 7

BDC Management Co. is now accepting applications for our accessible waiting lists at the following affordable communities Albright Townhomes Buffalo Court Apartments Elliot Park Apartments Evergreen Apartments Franklin Lane Apartments Hanover Townhomes Lincoln Place Apartments Olson Towne Homes Prairie Meadows Slater Square Apartments Talmage Green Trinity Apartments Unity Place Vadnais Highlands Willow Apartments Woodland Court Apartments

Minneapolis Buffalo Minneapolis Hutchinson Anoka St. Paul Mahtomedi Minneapolis Eden Prairie Minneapolis Minneapolis Minneapolis Brooklyn Center Vadnais Heights Little Falls Park Rapids

(612) 824-6665 (763) 684-1907 (612) 338-3106 1-800-661-2501 (763) 427-7650 (651) 292-8497 (651) 653-0640 (612) 377-9015 (952) 941-5544 (612) 340-1264 (612) 623-0247 (612) 721-2252 (763) 560-7563 (651) 653-0640 (320) 632-0980 1-888-332-9312

We are accepting applications for our large number of mobility impaired accessible units. Please call us for more information.

1 BR 2 BR 2 BR 1 BR 1 & 2 BR 1 BR 2 BR 1 BR 2 & 3 BR EFF & 1BR 2 BR 1 BR (sr) 2 BR 3 BR 1 & 2 BR 1 BR

December 10, 2015 Volume 26, Number 12

Pg 7

Lawyer who targets access issues has woes, too An attorney who has sued more than 120 Minnesota business over accessibility issues is now facing the possibility of sanctions related to his past legal practices. Paul Hansmeier is the focus of a 43-page petition alleging misconduct. The Minnesota Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board filed the petition seeking to suspend or disbar Hansmeier. The lawyers’ board petition, filed in October, was made public last month. It has received attention because Hansmeier is also involved in a legal fight over his recent bankruptcy petition. A U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge has sought the liquidation of his assets. A court trustee and attorneys for claimants believe that he has sought bankruptcy protection in bad faith and is transferring assets improperly. Hansmeier has contended he needs to file bankruptcy so that he and his family can get on with their lives. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kathleen H. Sanberg has ordered Hansmeier’s case converted to a liquidation from a reorganization. Hansmeier’s attorney argued against liquidation, saying that would prolong the case. But the judge has disagreed. Hansmeier recently told a Fox 9 reporter that he intends to fight the bankruptcy court petition. If he chose to do that, it could take up to a year. The bankruptcy case isn’t Hansmeier’s only chal-

lenge. The lawyers’ board case centers on a previous practice of Hansmeier’s and not on the accessibility lawsuits. Court documents and the lawyers’ board petition state that Hansmeier and his associates would plant links to pornography on various file sharing sites. They would then use legal processes to get the names of those who had downloaded material, and threaten them with lawsuits or public exposure. Most people chose to settle, for amounts ranging from $2,000 to $4,000. That got the attention of state and federal court judges around the United States. One California judge accused Hansmeier and his associates of extortion. A Fortune magazine article stated that the scheme brought in more than $15 million. If Hansmeier is suspended or disbarred, the access lawsuits would be affected. Hansmeier could not continue to represent his clients. Someone else would have to take the cases or they would have to be dropped. For several months Hansmeier has made headlines for suing businesses throughout Minnesota, on behalf of a group called the Disability Support Alliance. Hansmeier and group members contend they want businesses to provide access as required under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The lawsuits, filed in state and federal courts, have

been very costly for small businesses. Several businesses in different Minnesota cities, from Marshall to White Bear Lake to Rochester, have been targets. Minneapolis and St. Paul businesses have also been sued. Some business owners have said it would be easier for them to close instead of making costly improvements. Other businesses were sued as they were making accessibility renovations. Some lawsuits center on what are considered minor violations, such as a ramp that is not totally within ADA compliance. Critics contend that some cases have been settled out of court without accessibility improvements being made. Business owners have said that while they want to provide access, they question the benefit of nuisance lawsuits. The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and local business groups have rallied to help businesses. Business leaders have said they are looking at ways to address the situation through state law changes. One Minneapolis bar owner went so far as meeting with members of Congress. The Minnesota State Council on Disability (MSCOD), which has a long history of helping business and work sites provide access, has also stepped in. MSCOD has posted information about the case and how it can help businesses, at accesswithoutbarriers ■

Rallying support for caregivers - from p. 1

“To me there is no better job than being a caregiver and helping someone to live their best life,” Subah said. But being able to do that requires adequate compensation. Dean and Eken said they are sympathetic to the caregivers’ needs. Dean, who chairs the House Health and Human Services Finance Committee, indicated that savings from some health care programs could be redirected to disability service programs. Dean also noted the five percent increases nursing homes have received over the past two years, and the positive and stabilizing effect that has had on hiring. Some advocates present said that nursing home work has lured away some workers who provided home and community-based services. “Home and community-based services were left behind last session,” Eken said. He said the state must stop the “hemorrhaging” of that workforce. “This is a priority,” Eken said. “I really see this as the challenge of our times.” Eken and Rep. Rod Hamilton R-Mountain Lake, are sponsors of the 2016 five percent legislation. Three-fifth of the increase would provider for worker pay raises, while the rest would be used to improve care. Eken added that he sees the five percent as a stopgap measure and that caregiver wages must not be allowed to continue to fall behind. Those who support the five percent increase are encouraged by news of the state’s favorable financial

Sarah Gonnella and two of her caregivers attended the press conference.

condition. State finance officials December 3 projected the state’s budget surplus at almost $1.9 billion. While that is encouraging news for those seeking adequate support for programs, it also signals the potential for high-profile spending fights during the 2016 session. The 2015 session ended with almost $900 million left over when spending agreements couldn’t be reached. The projected available surplus will actually be about $1.2 billion, after $665 million goes to budget reserve accounts and repayments. That is required by state law. ■

Oak Terrace Health Care Center in Gaylord will receive $110,000 for an organization culture change project emphasizing person-centered care. Quality of life survey responses to questions related to relationships, satisfaction and mood will be used to measure the outcome of the project. Other grant winners include facilities in Willmar, Cook, Crystal, Lake Park, Graceville, Duluth, Grand Rapids, Greeley, Henning, Lake Ridge, Olivia, St.

Louis Park, Whitewater, Lynwood, Twin Rivers, New Hope, Battle Lake, Brainerd,, Inver Grove Heights, Maplewood, Stillwater, Waconia, St. Paul, Paynesville, Roseau, Greenbush, Jordan, Red Wing, Faribault, Rochester, Karlstad, Tracy, Truman, Woodbury, Minneapolis, Forest Lake, Barnesville, Grand Meadow, Mabel, Bemidji, Thief River Falls, Buffalo, Waite Park, Little Falls and Inver Grove Heights. ■

she told Gonnella how much she would miss the people she worked with. “But she was leaving due to the high staff turnover, difficult in filling work shifts, and continued low pay,” Gonnella said. Caregiver Sam Subah also addressed the group. He has worked as a direct support professional since 1995. While Subah said he has been grateful for the work opportunities and for the people he has helped, the pay he and others received is lagging behind other types of work. Subah said he struggles with balancing responsibility to those he works with to needing to provide for his own family. He currently works three jobs, putting in 60-80 hours a week. Subah said it’s a dilemma many other caregivers face. “There were times that I felt like leaving and finding another job that pays more, but each time I came face to face with making that decision, I felt like I was walking away and leaving them more vulnerable than when I got there,” he said. Gonnella and Subah spoke of how low wages can affect client care. Gonnella’s daughter Sarah was fortunate to have two long-term caregivers. But now high staff turnover has a negative impact on her care and the care of others in the home she lives in. Subah said a wage increase would not only lower the current rate of staff turnover, it would also make caregiving more attractive as a career choice and not as a steppingstone to better jobs. Regional News - from p. 6 Jesson visited St. Benedict’s Senior Community in St. Cloud to learn how the CentraCare Collaborative will use a total of $400,000 in program, funding for a restorative sleep program at St. Benedict’s and CentraCare Collaborative’s other nursing facilities in Melrose, Monticello and Sauk Center. Strategies to promote more restful sleep will include new lighting, noise reduction and use of sleep monitoring technology to assess residents’ sleep patterns. Other facilities receive funding October 1, 2015, through September 30, 2018. Another program funded is at Golden Living Center in Henning, which will receive a total of $40,000 to develop a mentorship program aimed at reducing the turnover of certified nursing assistants and increasing job satisfaction. The outcome of the project will be measured by worker retention rates. Hayes Residence in St. Paul will receive a total of $68,000 to implement a mood improvement project for a younger population through the use of therapeutic communication, a therapeutic art program, technology and other activities. The facility will measure the incidence of worsening or serious resident behavior problems to determine the impact of the project.

Photo courtesy of ARRM

Pg 10 December 10, 2015 Volume 26, Number 12


Award event emcee Laura Betker of KARE-11 congratulated Heidi Weaver of EnviroBate.

Eagan nonprofit honors those who provide jobs

ProAct’s Cathy McCoy recognizes Peter Jarvis with Hilton Garden Inn.

ProAct Employer of the Year honors went to organizations that have bettered the lives of people with disabilities through employment opportunities and partnership with the Eagan-based nonprofit. Four winners were announced at ProAct’s annual recognition banquet last month. The winners are Carquest, Cub Foods, Enviro-bate, Hilton Garden Inn, IMV Technologies USA and City of Red Wing. “Having work to do provides a sense of well-being and satisfaction to all of us,” said ProAct President and CEO Steven Ditschler. “And, employers play a large role in our internal and external operations as we serve people with disabilities, who provide a product or service that benefits others.” The Supported Employment award was shared by two winners, Carquest and Cub Foods. The relationship with the auto parts store developed over 25 years, and culminated with the recent retirement of a ProAct individual. “They have provided him with equal opportunities as an employee of Carquest and supported him as his skills grew,” said Sherri Coons, a ProAct designated coordinator. Leaders of the auto parts store also threw their longtime employee “the retirement party of a lifetime,” she said.

ProAct Designated Coordinator Matt Briggs, right, presented the award to Cub Foods leaders Chris Hagedorn and Nick Weins.

Betker looked on as Sales Manager Greg Pechman, left, congratulated IMV Technologies’ Angela De Mirjyn and Eric Salonen.

The other honoree, Cub Foods at Town Centre in Eagan, hired ProAct consumer Teddy Taft to work at the meat counter earlier this year. Taft also cleaned the store. Designated Coordinator Matt Briggs made regular visits to the grocer, and found that managers there had helped Taft to thrive in his various tasks. Taft died unexpectedly in August and was honored posthumously with an Employment Success Award. Winning the Community Employment Award is Hilton Garden Inn in Eagan. ProAct sends housekeeping crews on a daily basis to support Hilton’s employment needs. It also employs a ProAct laundry crew each day. Vocational Partner Award winner EnviroBate is an environmental contractor that provides hazardous material abatement and other services. Individuals from ProAct experience vocational assessments or work tryouts at the Minneapolis business in a completely integrated setting, said Anna Shields, a ProAct vocational specialist. “EnviroBate has been extremely flexible and understanding with us,” she said. “They have supported ProAct and the individuals we serve, providing em-

Red Wing staff congratulate Operations Foreman Dan Anderson, with the City of Red Wing. Red Wing was named Employer of the Year by ProAct in Red Wing. It was the sole winner of this recognition. Photos courtesy of ProAct

ployment experiences to individuals looking to enter the workforce.” The winner of the Business Partner Award is IMV Technologies USA, an international company with offices in Maple Grove. IMV is a repeat award recipient. “It’s more of an honor for us,” said Eric Salonen, who serves in supply chain and operations with IMV. “It’s humbling to be able to partner with them, a muHonoring those who provide jobs - p. 14

New leader for Lupus Foundation of Minnesota Tharan Leopold has been hired as president of the Lupus Foundation of Minnesota. He succeeds Jennifer Monroe, who was president for the past seven years. Leopold was previously executive director of foundation and alumni for Dakota County Technical College. “We are excited to have Tharan join us at the Lupus Foundation of Minnesota,” said Jason Price, chairman of the Lupus Foundation of Minnesota Board. “As we strengthen our mission, we are constantly striving to develop state-wide relationships with constituents impacted by lupus and donors who advance our efforts. We look forward to having him at the helm as we expand our reach and work.” “I feel extremely honored to have been hired for this position,” said Leopold. “I thrive on challenges, and the work of this organization is a very worthwhile challenge—to realize a vision of a world that is free of lupus.” Leopold brings a 20-year track record of fundraising and business expertise to the Lupus Foundation of Minnesota. Prior to his work at Dakota County Technical College, Leopold served as assistant director of advancement at Shattuck-St. Mary’s School in Faribault. Before that, he was an account executive at KEYC-TV in Mankato. Leopold earned his BS from Southwest Minnesota State University and an MA in Speech Communication from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Lupus is a disease where the immune system turns against parts of the body it is designed to protect. This leads to inflammation and can affect many different body systems, including joints, blood cells and organs. Difficult to diagnose, it can range from mild to life threatening in severity. Lupus can occur at any age. For more information, visit: ■

Mental health program for deaf, hard of hearing wins award The Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) mental health program for people who are deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing has received a prestigious statewide award for its work. The Gordon Allen Community Award from the Minnesota Association of Deaf Citizens was presented to the program on Oct. 16 at the organization’s 61st biennial conference in St. Cloud. “We are proud this mental health team is being recognized for its expertise in providing linguistically accessible and culturally affirmative mental health services to Minnesotans who are deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing,” said Jennifer DeCubellis, DHS assistant commissioner for community supports. “These are critical services to support the wellness and independent functioning of individuals.” The DHS Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Mental Health Program includes a statewide response team fluent in American Sign Language that helps deaf and hard of hearing adults get a range of mental health services within their community. Mental health services for children, adolescents, families and adults who are deaf, deafblind or hard of hearing also are available through community organizations under contract with DHS. Child and adolescent mental health services are provided primarily in schools but also in homes and on an outpatient basis. ■

December 10, 2015 Volume 26, Number 12 Pg 11

ACCESSIBLE FUN The Cocoanuts Guthrie Theater presents a comical Marx Brothers romp, at Guthrie Theater, McGuire Proscenium Stage, 818 2nd St. S., Mpls. ASL and AD offered 7:30 p.m. Fri, Dec. 11. Captioning offered 7:30 p.m. Fri, Dec. 11, and 1 p.m. Sat, Dec. 12 and Wed, Dec. 16. Tickets reduced to $20 for AD/ASL, $25 for captioning (regular $34-85). FFI: 612-377-2224, access_services

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas Lakeshore Players Theatre presents the adventures of a mouse, a little girl, an elf and Santa Claus, at Lakeshore Players Theatre, 4820 Stewart Ave., White Bear Lake. ASL offered 2 p.m. Sun, Dec. 13. (If no ASL seats are reserved within two weeks of the performance, the ASL-interpretation will be cancelled). Assistive listening devices available. Tickets reduced to $10 for ASL patrons (regular $16, senior $14, student $13). FFI: 651-429-5674,

Black Coffee Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story History Theatre presents the story of the 1950s band, Buddy Holley and the Crickets, at History Theatre, 30 E. 10th St., St. Paul. Captioning offered 2 p.m. Sun, Dec. 13. The accessible entrance is on the east side of the building off Cedar Street; the theatre has six spaces for wheelchairs, plus companion seats; hearing enhancement devices and Braille or large print playbills are available. Tickets $30-45. FFI: 651-292-4323,

A Charlie Brown Christmas Stages Theatre Company presents the Peanuts gang’s Christmas story, at Hopkins Center for the Arts, 1111 Mainstreet, Hopkins. Sensory-friendly show is 10 a.m. Sat, Dec. 12. Captioning offered 1 p.m. Sat, Dec. 19. Tickets $20, $17 senior 60 and older, $13 student. FFI: 952-979-1111, option 4, ask for accessibility pricing,

Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol Park Square Theatre presents the holiday tale, at Park Square Theatre, Andy Boss Thrust Stage, 20 W. 7th Place, St. Paul. Captioning offered 7:30 p.m. Dec. 10-12 and 2 p.m. Sun., Dec. 13. AD offered 7:30 p.m. Fri, Dec. 18. ASL offered 2 p.m. Sun, Dec. 20. Assistive listening devices available. ASL/AD/OC single ticket discount is half-price for patron and one guest (regular $38-58); age 30 and under $21; senior age 62 and older $38; rush tickets $22 cash only, available 10 minutes before performance; subject to availability. FFI: 651291-7005,

Little Women Commonweal Theatre Company presents the popular Louisa Mae Alcott story, at Commonweal Theatre, 208 Parkway Ave. N., Lanesboro. AD show is 1:30 p.m. Sat, Dec. 12, with pre-show at 1:10 p.m. Please make AD reservations at least one week in advance. Two-week notice requested for a Braille program. Five-week notice requested for ASL interpreting. Assistive listening devices available at the box office; special seating available for persons with mobility issues. Tickets reduced to $15 for AD/ASL patrons (regular $30; student $15). FFI: 507-467-2525,

The Santaland Diaries Lakeshore Players Theatre presents David Sedaris’ story of a department store elf, at Lakeshore Players Theatre, 4820 Stewart Ave., White Bear Lake. ASL offered 7:30 p.m. Sat, Dec. 12. (If no ASL seats are reserved within two weeks of the performance, the ASLinterpretation will be cancelled). Assistive listening devices available. Tickets reduced to $10 for ASL patrons (regular $16, senior $14, student $13). FFI: 651-4295674,

A Christmas Story - The Musical Chaska Valley Family Theatre presents the humorous quest for a Red Ryder air rifle, at Chaska High School Auditorium, 545 Pioneer Trail, Chaska. ASL offered 7:30 p.m. Sat, Dec. 12. Tickets $17 (student to age 17 $12). FFI: 952-250-7206 (for reserved seats in ASL section),

Dance Revolutions University of Minnesota Dance Theatre presents an innovative selection of pieces, at the U of M Rarig Center, Whiting Proscenium Theater, 330 21st Ave. S., Mpls. AD offered 7:30 p.m. Sat, Dec. 12. Tickets (prices include all fees) $16, $11 U of M faculty/staff/alumni/retirees, $6 students (any college or under 18). FFI: 612624-2345,

Under the Mistletoe: A Holiday Romance The Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus presents holiday favorites, at Ted Mann Concert Hall, 2128 4th St. S., Mpls. ASL offered 8 p.m. Sat, Dec. 12. Listening devices, large-print and Braille programs available on request. Tickets reduced to half-price for ASL patrons (regular $25-48, includes all fees). FFI: 612-624-2345,

Theatre in the Round Players presents Agatha Christie’s play featuring Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, at Theatre in the Round, 245 Cedar Ave., Mpls. AD presented 2 p.m. Sun, Dec. 13. Tickets $22. Discounts available Sun. for students with ID and seniors 62 and older. FFI: 612-333-3010,

Gifts from the Mary Griggs Burke Collection Mpls Institute of Arts, Japanese Galleries, 2400 Third Ave. S., Mpls. offers ALS tours at 1 p.m. on the first Sun of the month. Find the “tours meet here” red circle by the Information Bar in the upper lobby except as noted differently. Interpreted tours are also scheduled on other days. On the second weekend of each month, free tours are offered for visitors with memory loss, Alzheimer’s and their friends or care partners. Free. FFI: 612-870-3000 or 612-870-3131,

Eddie Albert Twait art show St. Paul artist Eddie Albert Twait’s watercolors are on display through December at Vision Loss Resources, 1936 Lyndale Ave. S. (at Franklin), Mpls. It is part of a series coordinated by VSA Minnesota. Free during business hours 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Mon-Fri. FFI: VLR 612-8712222, VSA MN 612-332-3888,

A Midwinter Night’s Revel

‘Here I Am’ Exhibit at MRA

Walking Shadow Theatre Company presents a yuletide story, at Red Eye Theater, 15 W. 14th St., Mpls. AD offered 3 p.m. Sun, Dec. 13 and 7:30 p.m. Thu, Dec. 17. Tactile tour half hour before show. ASL offered 7:30 p.m. Fri, Dec. 18 and 3 p.m. Sun, Dec. 20. Tickets reduced to $10 for AD/ASL (regular $22-30). FFI: 612-375-0300,

Three dozen Minnesota artists with disabilities have artwork in the “HERE I AM” exhibit at MRA - The Management Association, through the end of 2015. Originally submitted for VSA Minnesota’s Arts Access Chautauqua, the 30 artworks along the main hallways at the MRA headquarters reflect where the artists feel they are today as individuals with disabilities. Artists are listed on the VSA Minnesota website. The free exhibition can be viewed during normal business hours, 9 a.m.- 4 p.m., 9805 45th Ave. N., Plymouth, just off Highway 169 near County Road 9. MRA, formerly TruSight, is a not-for-profit employers association that supports more than 4,000 employers with human resources leadership and management services. The exhibits it hosts provide opportunities for persons with disabilities to share insight into their disabilities through artwork and personal biographies.

Miss Richfield 1981’s Christmas Cone of Silence Illusion Theater presents everyone’s favorite diva and her wiliness to discuss all topics, at Illusion Theater, 528 Hennepin Ave., 8th floor, Mpls. AD offered 7 p.m. Sun, Dec. 13. ASL offered 8 p.m. Sat, Dec. 19. Assistive listening devices available. Tickets Thu/Sun $32-42, Fri-Sat $38-48; senior/student/group discounts. ASL/AD patrons use the code DISCTV for 40 percent off tickets. FFI: 612-339-4944,

More events information Between the Worlds In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre presents a tribute to the beauty and mystery of the winter solstice, at Avalon Theatre, 1500 E. Lake St., Mpls. Receptions follow each performance. ASL offered 7p.m. Fri, Dec. 18. Tickets $20, $16 child, student, senior, $15 group of 15 or more. Ask about pay-what-one-can. FFI: 612-721-2535, ext. 23;

Junie B Jones in Jingle Bells, Batman Smells Youth Performance Company presents the story of a little girl and her take on Christmas, at Howard Conn Fine Arts Center, 1900 Nicollet Ave., Mpls. ASL and AD offered 1 p.m. Sat, Dec. 19. Tickets $15, child/senior $12, $10 group. VSA discount applies. FFI: 612-6239080,

It’s a Wonderful Life Rochester Civic Theatre presents Frank Capra’s Christmas story, at Rochester Civic Theatre, 20 Civic Center Dr. SE, Rochester. ASL offered 7 p.m. Sat, Dec. 19. Tickets $29, senior $24, student $19. Please indicate ASL seating when booking tickets. FFI: 507-282-8481,

Straight White Men Theatre B presents the story of a father and sons at Christmas, at Theatre B, 716 Main Ave., Fargo. ASL offered 7:30 p.m. Sat, Dec. 19. Tickets $20, student $10. FFI: 701-729-8880;

VSA Minnesota is at The website has a large calendar at the upper right hand corner of its home page. For information on galleries and theater performances around the state join the Access to Performing Arts email list at or call VSA Minnesota, 612-332-3888 or statewide 800-801-3883 (voice/ TTY). To hear a weekly listing of accessible performances, call 612-332-3888 or 800-801-3883. Another web events’ listing is (c2: caption coalition, inc.), which does most of the captioned shows across the country. Facebook is another way to connect with performances. Sign up to connect with Audio Description Across Minnesota ( Connect with ASL interpreted and captioned performances across Minnesota on Facebook Another resources is Minnesota Playlist, with a recently updated website calendar with all the ASL-interpreted, audio described, captioned, pay-what-you-can shows and other features. Go to ■

Pg 12 December 10, 2015 Volume 26, Number 12

UPCOMING EVENTS Advocacy Plan for conference Save the date of Sat, March 19 for the Meeting of the Minds Dementia Conference, a collaboration between the Alzheimer’s Association and Mayo Clinic. It’s a day filled with dementia information, presentations, support and resources for people with mild cognitive impairment or early dementia, families, friends and professionals. It will be held at St. Paul RiverCentre. General conference registration will open at 9 a.m. Mon, Jan 4. FFI: Deborah Richman, 952-857-0551, New Equity Advisory Committee Metropolitan Council is seeking applicants for a newly created advisory board to help advance equity in the Twin Cities region. The Equity Advisory Committee will advise the Council in advancing equity in the region, and specifically how the council implements the equity commitments in Thrive MSP 2040, the region’s long-range development plan. Members of this committee will influence council decisions related to regional policies on transportation and transit, local planning, housing, environmental issues and more. The committee will have 21 members, representing geographic districts to assure region-wide representation, as well as people from different races, incomes, abilities and backgrounds. Applications will be accepted through at least Jan. 4, 2016. FFI: 651-602-1630 Take part in survey The Minnesota Statewide Independent Living Council (MNSILC) is a governorappointed council of volunteers dedicated to developing statewide planning and policies necessary to support individuals to make their own choices in all areas of their lives. MNSILC is conducting a statewide needs assessment to better understand the experience of people with disabilities in Minnesota. Results from this

survey will inform the writing of the next State Plan for Independent Living, which will be in effect from 2017-2019. This plan is shared with legislators, advocates and others and guides MNSILC’s work as well. MNSILC collaborates with Vocational Rehabilitation Services, State Services for the Blind, and Minnesota’s eight Centers for Independent Living. To help the survey, consumers need to weigh in with their experiences as a person with a disability in Minnesota, especially with regard to living independently. Survey respondents and spaces for on-site data collection are needed. FFI: Laura Schauben, Wilder Research, 651-2802700, for survey questions; Pam Taylor, 612-5181497, to be a data collection site MNSILC questions; to take the survey go to

Youth and families PACER offers workshops PACER Center offers many useful free or low-cost workshops and other resources for families of children with any kind of disabilities. Workshops are at PACER Center, 8161 Normandale Blvd., Bloomington, unless specified. Advance registration is required for all workshops. Check out PACER’s website and link to the newsletter of statewide workshops that allows participants to pick and choose sessions catered to their needs. Technology for Girls STEM Club: Mrs. Frost’s Holiday Disaster is 6-8 p.m. Tue, Dec. 15 at PACER. A thief has stolen Mrs. Frost’s holiday candy and she wants to know who took it. Can you help solve the mystery using science and math skills? Middle school girls with disabilities are invited to join in this fun activity led by members of the Eagan Green Girls Robotics Club. Mrs. Frost is sure to share her holiday treats with everyone who helps nab the suspect. FFI: PACER, 952838-9000, 800-537-2237,

Broad reforms sought - from p. 3 with disabilities face waits of months, even years, for state financial assistance that can pay for housing, therapy and other tools for greater independence. The large waiting lists and segregated facilities underscored the need for fundamental reforms, possibly in the form of a single, comprehensive bill that would remove some long-standing barriers to integration, legislators and disability advocates said. While many reforms are possible through the state’s Olmstead Plan, getting those reforms pass will require bipartisan support. One strategy under study is to send subsidies directly to individuals and their families, so they can obtain work and housing supports of their choosing, rather than to institutions such as sheltered workshops and group homes. Another is changes in reimbursement rates for disability employment programs. Rates could be adjusted to give sheltered-workshop operators more incentive to help their workers find jobs in the community, by compensating them more for job coaches and other community support. ■ (Source: Star Tribune)

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Fax: 952-472-1458


Information/ assistance Family to Family course The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Minnesota offers a free, 12-week educational course that helps families gain a greater understanding of mental illness, discuss resources, build communication skills, reduce stress and find support. More than 3,000 Minnesota families have benefited from this course, which is taught by family members who have walked the walk. The course starts 6:30-9 p.m. Thu, Jan. 7, at Canvas Health, 8451 E. Point Douglas Road, Cottage Grove. FFI: Donna, 651788-6363. Crisis Link line open A new Crisis Link has been launched as part of, the state’s comprehensive website for services, resources and information. Crisis Link connects people with resources for dealing with a variety of intense situations, including mental health and/or substance abuse problems for both children and adults, need for emergency housing or longer term housing, fear of being harmed, or need for health care, food, a job or transportation. Crisis Link has an extensive listing of contact information for helping organizations, primarily government and nonprofit agencies, including suicide and domestic violence hotlines. It features an online chat service available from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays to ensure people get to the information they need. Crisis Link is integrated into Minnesota’s information and assistance system that includes, in addition to the Minnesota website, the Senior LinkAge Line at 1-800-333-2433, or Disability Linkage Line at 1-866-333-2466.FFI: http:// Vision loss group offers activities Vision Loss Resources offers 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. FFI: RSVP hotline 612-843-3439; activity phone 612-253-5155, MCIL offers classes and activities The Metropolitan Center for Independent Living (MCIL) offers many life skills classes as well as fun outings and activities 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 alternative format or other accommodations are needed. Events are free, accessible and mostly scent-free. FFI: 651-603-2030 Adult support groups offered Autism Society of Minnesota (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 web site for upcoming groups. Groups meet at the AuSM offices at 2380 Wycliff St. FFI: 651-647-1083 ext. 10, UCare meetings UCare hosts informational meetings about its UCare for Seniors Medicare Advantage plan, as well as informational meetings about the UCare’s new UCare

Choices and Fairview UCare Choices health plans available on MNSure, Minnesota’s health insurance marketplace. Learn about the various plans, as well as key dates and penalties associated with health care reform. Meetings are held all over the region. UCare for Seniors has more than 75,000 members across Minnesota and western Wisconsin. UCare serves Medicare-eligible individuals and families enrolled in incomebased Minnesota Health Care Programs, such as Minnesota Care and Prepaid Medical Assistance Program; adults with disabilities and Medicare beneficiaries with chronic health conditions and Minnesotans dually eligible for Medical Assistance and Medicare. FFI: 1-877-5231518, Mental health support offered NAMI of Minnesota offers more than 300 free educational classes statewide each year, along with help in navigating the mental health system. NAMI also has more than 60 free support groups 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. A NAMI Connection peer support group for adults recovering from mental illness meets 6:30 p.m. on the second and fourth Wed, at Centennial Methodist Church, 1524 Co. Rd. C-2 West (Snelling at Co. Rd. C-2), Roseville. FFI: 651-6452948. A family support group meets in St. Paul on the second Wednesday of each month at 6-7:30 p.m., at Goodwill-Easter Seals, at the Fairview location in room 123. FFI: Sonja, 651-357-2077. The partners and spouses support group meets at 6:30 p.m. on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month at 6:30 p.m., at Falcon Heights United Church of Christ, 1795 Holton Street (Holton & Garden). For more information, call Melissa at 651-354-0825.A full calendar of all events is offered online. FFI: 651-645-2948,

Volunteer, Donate Share a smile Brighten the day of a senior citizen in north or southwest Minneapolis and have fun. Visit an elder and do things together: movies, games, crafts or just friendly conversation. Hang out with a senior on a regular basis and do things that you both enjoy, like watching a movie, playing games or friendly conversation. Onetime or ongoing opportunities through the NIP Senior Program. FFI: Jeanne, 612746-8549, 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 just 2-3 hours a week and help people expand their opportunities and change their lives through education. The literacy council provides training and support and accommodations for volunteers with disabilities. FFI: Allison, 651251-9110,, ■

December 10, 2015 Volume 26, Number 12 Pg 13

PEOPLE & PLACES Live Well at Home grants announced Services that help older adults in Minnesota stay in their homes as they age are receiving more than $7 million in funds appropriated by the Minnesota Legislature and Gov. Mark Dayton, and awarded by the Minnesota Department of Human Service (DHS). The 62 projects being funded through the department’s Live Well at Home grants, previously known as Community Service/Community Services Development grants, provide a variety of services and supports that allow older Minnesotans to remain in their homes rather than move to nursing homes or other more expensive settings. “Minnesota is a national leader in long-term services and supports for older adults in part because we provide this seed money to community organizations and providers to be creative in helping people remain in their homes as they age,” said DHS Commissioner Lucinda Jesson. “In addition to helping meet daily needs such as nutrition and housekeeping, these grants promote new technology and other innovations that benefit both older Minnesotans and their caregivers.” She announced the grants while visiting the Fergus Falls home of a Pioneer-Care client. PioneerCare is using the Live Well at Home grant to expand the use of technology by older adults and their families, empowering them to live more independently in their current homes. Many grant recipients are non-profit community organizations that use a combination of paid staff and volunteers to provide core home and communitybased services so that people throughout Minnesota regardless of income can remain in their own homes for as long as possible. These grant recipients are required to generate income by charging for services through the use of a sliding fee scale. Projects receiving grants in state fiscal year 2016: Adult Day Services, Beltrami, Cass, Clearwater and Hubbard counties, transportation, adult day services, $219,061 Aging Services for Communities, Blue Earth, Brown, Carver, Dakota, Freeborn, Goodhue, Le Sueur, Nicollet, Rice, Scott, Sibley, Steele and Waseca counties, transportation, respite, homemaker services, $200,000 Amherst H. Wilder Foundation, Ramsey County, caregiver support and education, $166,506 ANGELS Living at Home Block Nurse Program, Aitkin County, caregiver support, respite, transportation, home modification, health promotion, chores, homemaker, companion, service coordination, $50,000 Argyle H.O.P.E. Living at Home Block Nurse Program, Marshall County, respite, transportation, health promotion, chores, homemaker, companion, service coordination, $101,077 Arrowhead Parish Nurse Association, Aitkin, Carlton, Cook, Itasca, Lake, Pine and St. Louis counties, caregiver support, health promotion and chronic disease self-management, $33,375 Atwater Area Help for Seniors, Kandiyohi and Meeker counties, caregiver support, respite, homemaker, transportation, chores, companion, service coordination, health promotion, $52,900 Avinity, St. Louis County, health monitoring technology, $358,051 CAPI USA, Hennepin County, companionship, transportation, health promotion, homemaking, service coordination, $73,078 Care Partners of Cook County, Cook County, caregiver support and education, respite, companion, transportation, health promotion, chores and service coordination, $75,374 Chippewa County-Montevideo Hospital, Chippewa, Lac Qui Parle, Swift and Yellow Medicine counties, care coordination, caregiver support and health promotion, $125,222 Community Partners, Lake County, transportation, health promotion, chores, homemaker, companion, service coordination, respite, caregiver support, $51,000 Como Park Living at Home Block Nurse Program, Ramsey County, transportation, care coordination/ service management, health promotion and chronic disease management, $98,912 Conway Battle Creek Healthy Seniors, Ramsey County, transportation, chore, health promotion, service coordination, caregiver support and respite, homemaker services, $84,940

DARTS, Dakota County, home modification and repairs, $80,860 Dayton’s Bluff Seniors Living at Home Block Nurse Program, Ramsey County, transportation, health promotion, chores, homemaker, companion, service coordination, caregiver support, $99,000 Duluth Lighthouse for the Blind, Aitkin, Carlton, Cook, Itasca, Koochiching, Lake and St. Louis counties, care coordination, caregiver support and direct service, $253,120 East Side Neighborhood Services, Hennepin County, adult day services, transportation, caregiver support, care coordination, health promotion, $129,301 East Suburban Resources, Inc., Washington County, chore and homemaker services, $41,742 Family Pathways, Chisago, Isanti, Kanabec, Mille Lacs and Pine counties, caregiver support and consultation, respite, companionship, transportation, health promotion, elder abuse prevention, chores, homemaker, service coordination, $250,000 Family Service Rochester, Olmsted County,

A program given a grant is Store to Door’s delivery service Photo courtesy of Store to Door

caregiver support, respite, companionship, transportation, health promotion, chores, home modification, homemaker and service coordination, $91,340 Floodwood Services and Training, Inc., Carlton and St. Louis counties, adult day services, $93,451 Foley Area CARE, Benton County, transportation, chore services, health promotion, service coordination, companion, homemaker services, $72,100 Granite Falls Living at Home Block Nurse Program, Chippewa and Yellow Medicine counties, dementia-friendly community development, health promotion and chronic disease, $102,502 Grove City Area Care, Meeker County, transportation, caregiver support, care coordination, chore, companion, health promotion, $123,561 Hamline Midway Living at Home Block Nurse Program, Ramsey County, transportation, caregiver support, care coordination, chore services and health promotion, $66,000 Interfaith Caregivers Faith in Action in Faribault County, Faribault, Martin, Watonwan counties, chore, health promotion, service coordination, caregiver support, companion, homemaker, $153,645 Keystone Community Services, Ramsey County, transportation, care coordination/service management, chore, companion, health promotion, homemaker, $165,871 La Crescent Area Healthy Community Partnership, Houston County, transportation, chore homemaker, $85,574 Lake Region Health Care, Clay, Grant, Otter Tail

and Stevens counties, care coordination and service management, $123,647 Lakes and Pines Community Action Council, Inc., Aitkin, Carlton, Chisago, Isanti, Kanabec, Mille Lacs and Pine counties, caregiver support, $118,765 Living at Home of the Park Rapids Area, Becker, Hubbard and Wadena counties, transportation, caregiver support, home modification, health promotion, chores, homemaker, service coordination, volunteer management, $103,400 Longfellow-Seward Healthy Seniors Program, Hennepin County, caregiver support, transportation, health promotion, chores, homemaker, companion, service coordination, $64,200 The Lutheran Home Association, Blue Earth, Brown, Carver, Le Sueur, Nicollet, Scott and Sibley counties, caregiver support, care coordination, health promotion and chronic disease self-management, $250,000 Mahube-Otwa Community Action Partnership, Becker, Hubbard, Mahnomen, Otter Tail and Wadena counties, chore, homemaker and home modification, $250,000 Merriam Park Living at Home Block Nurse Program, Ramsey County, transportation, caregiver support, respite care, health promotion, chore and homemaker service, service coordination and volunteer management, $101,431 Metro Meals on Wheels, Anoka, Hennepin, Dakota, Ramsey, Scott and Carver counties, service coordination, $56,227 Minnesota Brain Injury Alliance, Anoka, Benton, Carver, Chisago, Crow Wing, Dakota, Hennepin, Isanti, Ramsey, Rice, Scott, Sherburne, St. Louis, Stearns, Washington and Wright counties, health promotion and chronic disease management, $77,914 Nokomis Healthy Seniors, Hennepin County, transportation, health promotion, chores, homemaker, companion, service coordination, $92,974 North East Neighborhoods Living at Home Block Nurse Program, Ramsey County, transportation, caregiver support and education, respite, health promotion, chores and service coordination, $50,000 North End - South Como Block Nurse Program, Ramsey County, transportation, care coordination and service management, chore, companion, health promotion, $130,000 North Shore Area Partners, Lake County, transportation, caregiving support and education, respite, chores, homemaker, companion and service coordination, $83,668 Our Lady of Peace, Ramsey County, caregiving support, respite, transportation, chores, health promotion, non-skilled home care, service coordination, companionship, $47,500 The Owatonna Healthy Seniors Program, Steele County, caregiver support, respite, transportation, chores, companion, service coordination, $87,706 PARTNERS, Otter Tail and Wilkin counties, transportation, care coordination and service management, health promotion and chronic disease management, $80,900 Paynesville Area Living at Home Block Nurse Program, Kandiyohi, Meeker and Stearns counties, transportation, caregiver support, service management, chore, homemaker, companion and health promotion, $87,642 Live Well at Home grants - p. 15

Pg 14 December 10, 2015 Volume 26, Number 12

Radio Talking Book December Sampling Holiday programming change Since the Minnesota Radio Talking Book began in 1969, normal programming has been suspended over Christmas. In the past more than 30 hours of Christmas stories have been shared. The population of Minnesota has changed over the years so in light of the state’s changing diversity, holiday programming changes are planned. Starting this year Radio Talking Book won’t suspend airing of books over the Christmas holiday. Books will continue on the regular schedule. Instead, Christmas programming will replace magazine programming. Listen for future changes that recognize the many holidays of other faiths as those holidays occur.

Books available through Faribault Books broadcast on the Minnesota Radio Talking Book Network are available through the Minnesota Braille and Talking Book Library in Faribault. Call 1-800722-0550, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. The catalog is online at, click on the link Search the Library Catalog. Persons living outside of Minnesota may obtain copies of books via inter-library loan by contacting their home state’s Network Library for the National Library Service. Listen to the Minnesota Radio Talking Book, either live or archived programs from the previous week on the Internet at Call the Talking Book Library for a password to the site. To find more information about Minnesota Radio Talking Book Network

Honoring those who provide jobs - from p. 10 tually beneficial relationship.” ProAct has processed more than a million swine insemination straws for IMV and employs an extensive quality control process, said ProAct Sales Manager Greg Pechman. A record crowd of more than 600 turned out at the Prom Center in Oakdale for the event, which was emceed by meteorologist Laura Betker from KARE 11 Television. ProAct is headquartered in Eagan and has additional operations in Red Wing, Zumbrota and in Hudson, Wis. Its mission is to provide person-centered services that enhance the quality of life for people with disabilities in the areas of employment, life skills, and community inclusion. ■

events go to the Facebook site at RadioTalkBook Audio information about the daily book listings is also on National Federation for the Blind (NFB) Newsline. Register for NFB Newsline by calling 651-539-1424. Access Press is featured at 9 p.m. Sundays on the program It Makes a Difference. Chautauqua • Tuesday – Saturday 4 a.m. Vitamania, Nonfiction by Catherine Price, 2015. 14 broadcasts. Begins Dec. 17. In spite of an understanding of the importance of vitamins, there is little consensus on how much humans require or what vitamins actually do. Read by Yelva Lynfield. Past is Prologue • Monday – Friday 9 a.m. A Royal Experiment, Nonfiction by Janice Hadlow, 2014. 33 broadcasts. Begins Dec. 14. Though Americans know King George III as a tyrant, he was a man with a poignant agenda. He was determined to be a new kind of king, with a happy, loving family. Read by Marylyn Burridge. Bookworm • Monday – Friday 11 a.m. Come Rain or Come Shine, Fiction by Jan Karon, 2015. Eight broadcasts. Begins Dec. 22. Father Tim’s adopted son, Dooley Kavanagh, has graduated from vet school and opened his own clinic. Since money will be tight, he and Lace Harper want to keep their wedding simple. Read by Nancy Felknor. The Writer’s Voice • Monday – Friday 2 p.m. All Who Go Do Not Return, Nonfiction by Shulem Deen, 2015. 14 broadcasts. Begins Dec. 22. Raised in an insular Hasidic sect of Judaism, Shulem Deen knew little about the outside world. But his curiosity led him into investigating the tenets of his religion and his faith unraveled. L - Read by Dan Sadoff. Choice Reading • Monday – Friday 4 p.m. Season of Storms, Fiction by Susanna Kearsley, 2001, reissued 2014. 17 broadcasts. Begins Dec. 14. In 1921, Italian poet Galeazzo D’Ascanio wrote his last play, inspired by his mistress, Celia Sands. Then Celia vanished and the play was never performed. Now his grandson plans to stage the masterpiece and has offered the lead to an English actress with the same name. Read by Connie Jamison. PM Report • Monday – Friday 8 p.m. Outpost, Nonfiction by Christopher R. Hill, 2014. 16 broadcasts. Begins Dec. 21. Ambassador under several different presidents, Christopher Hill writes bluntly about bureaucratic warfare in D.C. and expresses criticism of America’s aggressive interventions. In his service to the U.S., he was sent to some of the most dangerous areas. Read by Art Nyhus.

Night Journey • Monday – Friday 9 p.m. Down Don’t Bother Me, Fiction by Jason Miller, 2015. Eight broadcasts. Begins Dec. 23. In one of the last working collieries in downstate Illinois, the body of a reporter is found. The coalmine’s owner calls on Slim, known for “bloodhounding,” to discreetly investigate. But now Slim is in danger of getting burned. L - Read by Don Gerlach. Off the Shelf • Monday – Friday 10 p.m. The Untold, Fiction by Courtney Collins, 2014. Seven broadcasts. Begins Dec. 28. Jessie is on the run. Bands of men are desperate to claim the reward on her head, and behind them are two more – one her lover, the other the law. L - Read by Michele Potts. Potpourri • Monday – Friday 11 p.m. The Underground Girls of Kabul, Nonfiction by Jenny Nordberg, 2014. 11 broadcasts. Begins Dec. 21. Afghanistan has a culture ruled almost entirely by men. In that culture, the birth of a son is celebrated, the birth of a daughter is mourned. A third kind of child is a girl raised as a boy, and presented that way to the outside world. Read by June Prange. Good Night Owl • Monday – Friday midnight The Unraveling of Mercy Louis, Fiction by Keija Parssinen, 2015. 12 broadcasts. Begins December 21. Mercy Louis is the star of Port Sabine’s championship girls’ basketball team. She seems destined for greatness but the road out of town is riddled with obstacles. A fatal discovery near her school ignites a witch hunt and community and family secrets threaten the lives of the town’s girls. Read by Natasha DeVoe. After Midnight • Tuesday – Saturday 1 a.m. The Lost Boys Symphony, Fiction by Mark Andrew Ferguson, 2015. 13 broadcasts. Begins Dec. 15. After Henry’s girlfriend Val leaves him and transfers to another school, his grief begins to manifest in bizarre and horrifying ways. Convinced everything will make sense if he can find Val, he leaves the suburbs and marches toward the city. L - Read by Mike Piscitelli.

Weekend Program Books Your Personal World (Saturday at 1 p.m.) is airing Goddesses Never Age, by Christiane Northrup, M.D., and Scary Close, by Donald Miller; For the Younger Set (Sunday at 11 a.m.) is airing How to Catch a Bogle, by Catherine Jinks; Poetic Reflections (Sunday at noon) is airing Corridor, by Saskia Hamilton, and Selfish, by Albert Goldbarth; The U.S. and Us (Sunday at 4 p.m.) is airing Degrees of Freedom, by William D. Green. ■ Abbreviations: V – violence, L – offensive language, S – sexual situations.

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December 10, 2015 Volume 26, Number 12 Pg 15

Award winner shares - from p. 1 Akerman-Frank was chosen from a large field of nominees for the award, which is given in honor of Access Press founding editor Charlie Smith. “It was another great event, and we very much appreciated all who came out to honor a very deserving Charlie Smith Award winner,” said Access Press Executive Director Tim Benjamin. “Jessalyn Akerman-Smith exemplifies the spirit of service and community activism that defined Charlie Smith’s life. We’ve very proud that she is our 2015 award winner. We wish her much success as she continues her advocacy work.”

Akerman-Frank drew on her own life story and her work to make her points. “We become who we are because of what we experience,” said Akerman-Frank. She used examples ranging from a client’s job loss due to miscommunication to a story of a domestic abuse survivor. Akerman-Frank’s understanding of what life as a deaf person would mean initially came during her years at Gallaudet University, the historic deaf university in Washington, D.C. She went there for college after growing up in Wisconsin, in a large and supportive family. “That is when I learned that the world has more barriers than access, that there were more walls to

CMS changes - from p. 1 of the items help wheelchair users avoid medical problems, some of which can be life-threatening. Consumers, medical equipment providers and advocacy groups are sounding the alarm, contending that the change could make it more challenging or impossible for many Americans to find and purchase the equipment they need. For home medical equipment providers, the change raises the potential problem of financial losses. It also raises the difficult choice for providers of either dropping equipment lines or charging consumers more. The change is the latest in a series of moves linked to the competitive bidding program. Competitive bidding is a Medicare program that was implemented to provide cost savings for CMS. But it has made it more difficult for some beneficiaries to obtain the medically necessary equipment and services needed for daily life. Competitive bidding has greatly affected the home medical equipment industry and consumers. Advocates are pushing for Congress to pass two measures, House Resolution 3229 and Senate File 2196, to stave off the wheelchair accessory competitive bidding proposal. The bills will provide a legislative technical correction to clarify that CMS cannot apply Medicare competitive bidding pricing to the complex rehabilitation wheelchair accessories. The legislation must pass by December 31. Members of Congress are contending that the change would violate the intent of past federal actions and would reduce payment rates for 171 wheelchair accessory codes from 20 percent to more than 40 percent. Donald E. Clayback, executive director of the National Coalition for Assistive and Rehab Technologies (NCART), is among many advocates urging that consumers and home medical equipment providers contact their representatives. In a letter to members, Clayback said, “Our window of opportunity is getting

smaller, but building on the positive developments (people) can make a difference.” “This change will make it very difficult, or impossible, for millions of Americans to find the vital complex rehabilitation equipment they need. Since Medical equipment providers cannot sustain loss of revenue per accessory sold, they will either have to stop providing this equipment or charge you for the difference,” said People for Quality Care, an Iowa-based advocacy group. The pending changes are the latest wrinkle in an ongoing controversy over competitive bidding. For many years Medicare contracted with many home medical equipment providers throughout the United States. Consumers could purchase equipment and goods from vendors in their home communities. But in recent years Medicare has worked with providers through a competitive bidding process. Places where bidding took place were rolled out across the country over a period of years, and with different types of equipment and supplies. Low bidders receive contracts from Medicare. Competitive bidding has been widely criticized for disrupting longstanding relationships between people with disabilities and their equipment and supply providers. In some cases, the new companies are much farther away. That makes life more challenging when equipment breaks, when power is disrupted or when other life-threatening events occur. People for Quality Care contends that some chosen providers aren’t specialized home medical equipment service providers, nor do all carry the equipment they won bids to provide. “The Medicare-accepted lowbid equipment is the cheapest equipment available, which could lead to future malfunctions,” a People for Quality Care publication stated. For updates on the legislation, visit or ■

Live Well at Home grants- from p. 13 Pelican Rapids OAKS Living at Home Block Nurse Program, Otter Tail County, caregiver support, transportation, health promotion, chores, companion, service coordination, $72,300 Pillsbury United Communities, Hennepin County, transportation and health promotion, $125,587 Pine Island Area Home Services, Dodge, Goodhue and Olmsted counties, transportation, health promotion, caregiver support, respite, chores, homemaker, companion, service coordination, $31,000 PioneerCare, Becker, Clay, Douglas, Grant, Hubbard, Otter Tail, Stevens, Todd, Wadena and Wilkin counties, care coordination and health promotion, $209,443 Red Lake County Social Services, Red Lake County, chore, homemaker, caregiver support, health promotion and chronic disease management, $121,334 Southeast Seniors Living at Home Block Nurse Program, Hennepin County, transportation, caregiver support, care coordination, chore, companion, health promotion, homemaker, chronic disease management, $68,400 St. Anthony Park Area Seniors, Ramsey County, transportation, caregiver support, care coordination, chore, home modification and repair, $96,800 City of Stephen, Marshall County, transportation, health promotion, chores, homemaker, companion, service coordination, $54,500 Store to Door, Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott and Washington counties, grocery delivery, $40,000 Todd County, Todd, Cass, Crow Wing, Morrison and Wadena counties, kitchen renovation, $127,255 Tri-Community Living at Home Block Nurse Program, Marshall County, transportation, health promotion, service coordination, companionship, $99,648

Tri-Valley Opportunity Council, Inc., Clay, Kittson, Lake of the Woods, Mahnomen, Marshall, Norman, Pennington, Polk, Red Lake and Roseau counties, transportation and companion services, $100,000 Trust, Inc., Hennepin County, transportation, caregiver support, $60,882 Vine Faith in Action, Blue Earth, Le Sueur, Nicollet and Watonwan counties, outreach and service coordination to immigrant and rural elders, $250,000 Volunteer Services of Carlton County, Inc., Aitkin, Carlton and St. Louis counties, development of wellness center, health promotion, $250,000 City of Warren, Marshall County, transportation, chore services, health promotion, service coordination, companionship, $40,000. ■

EMPLOYMENT Employment ads are $22-$25 per col. inch. Mail to: Access Press, 1821 University Ave. #104S, St. Paul, MN 55104 FAX 651-644-2136 • Email:

Assistant Director: Career Development Center Minnesota State University, Mankato Provide individual and group career and job/internship search guidance, services, and programming for students/alumni; coordinate MnSCU graduate survey; and serve as key member of department management team. Required Qualifications: Master’s degree in Counseling, Student Personnel, Education, or Business and 3 years of related experience in career services, student affairs, or human resources. Review of applications begins December 7, 2015 and continues until finalists are selected. Visit for complete job posting and application instructions.

tear down than doors to walk through, more teaching moments (which is okay) than common or shared knowledge. I learned from the best,” she said. Akerman-Frank shared her experiences and of those of others, to explain the isolation and lack of respect people feel when they cannot communicate with others. Life as a deaf person and with those who don’t understand American Sign Language brings unique challenges. “I know we may look different on the outside, but on the inside we all want the same basic things — to contribute to society, to feel good about our jobs, to live a life with choices, not limitations and to be seen as valued citizens of this society. It’s important that we try on other shoes or hats, if you will, for it’s important that we hear others and their stories too,” she said. “I make it my personal responsibility to practice community accountability,” said Akerman-Frank. “I need to contribute to our community that I want to improve, to live in, to make better, because I also live in that community, too.” Akerman-Frank thanked many community members, friends and family members for their support. “This award will be a reminder of the work accomplished, the work needed to still be done and the ultimate goal that we are all working to achieve and that is that everyone has an enhanced quality of life.” This year’s banquet at the Minneapolis Airport Marriott featured a social hour, silent auction and picka-prize raffle, music and displays. Banquet attendees especially enjoyed vying for the many prizes offered. The banquet space was packed full, with many of the past award winners and nominees on hand to honor Akerman-Frank. The banquet has become a tradition for many in Minnesota’s disability community. Benjamin said that the newspaper’s board and staff plan an even bigger and better event for 2016, and that planning is already underway. The banquet would not be possible without its many volunteers, silent auction and pick-a-prize raffle donors, and sponsors. Without them, the banquet would not be possible. Their efforts are appreciated. The 2015 Editor-in-Chief sponsors are UCare Minnesota, People Enhancing People, NHHI, Medica, In Home Personal Care, IMed Mobility, AXIS Healthcare and AccraCare. Proofreader sponsors are Vinland National Center and Allina Health/Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute. Tamarack Rehabilitation Technologies, Inc and Handi Medical Supply are Keyliner Sponsors. Newspaper production terms denote the level of sponsorship. ■

CLASSIFIEDS Access Press Classifieds are $14 for the first 12 and 65¢ per word thereafter. They must be prepaid. Mail to: Access Press care of The Kelly Inn Offices; 161 St. Anthony Ave; #910; St. Paul, MN 55103; 651-644-2133 • FAX 651-644-2136 Email:

FOR RENT Lewis Park Apartments: Barrier-free housing with wheelchair users in mind. Section 8 subsidized. Oneand two-bedroom units. For more information on availability call 651-488-9923. St. Paul, MN. Equal Opportunity Housing. Calvary Center Apts: 7650 Golden Valley Road, Golden Valley, MN. A Section 8 building now accepting applications for our waiting list. Call 9 am to 4 pm, Mon – Fri 763-546-4988 for an application. Equal Opportunity Housing. Find your new home with At Home Apartments. Call 651-224-1234 or visit for an apartment or town home. Equal Opportunity Housing. Oak Glen of Edina will be opening the waiting lists for 1 and 3 bedroom subsidized housing beginning 11/16/15. The waiting lists close on 12/18/15. Call 952-941-1558 for an application. HOME FOR SALE Handicap accessible single-family home in Elko New Market. 6,084 Finished Sq. Ft on 10 acres with pool. 5 Bedrooms, 5 Bath, ramp to front door, 4-stop Crescent/ Matot elevator… too many accessible features to list. $1,099,000. FMI: Contact Patti Schmidt with Coldwell Banker Burnet, 612-414-7100.

Pg 16 December 10, 2015 Volume 26, Number 12

Ap15 12wpgs8to9  
Ap15 12wpgs8to9  

Dec. 2015 issue