Friday, June 26, 2009

Visitability Workshop a Success

On Monday of this week, Alabama Power hosted a Visitability Workshop. Eleanor Smith, the main speaker at the workshop, defines visitability as a movement to change home construction practices so that virtually all new homes - not merely those custom-built for occupants who currently have disabilities - offer a few specific features that make the home easier for people who develop mobility impairments to live in and visit. The emphasis is on entering a home and fitting through the interior doors. Ms. Smith spoke to a group of about 100 attendees, and talked about the positive aspects of making a home visitable and the reasons why it is imperative to make all new homes visitable. Graham Sisson, the state ADA Coordinator, gave a brief overview of the City of Birmingham's Visitability Ordinance. Charles Moore, the Executive Director of the Habitat for Humanity of Greater Birmingham, spoke about Habitat's experience with visitability. The workshop concluded with a panel discussion, facilitated by Dr. Gary Edwards of United Cerebral Palsy of Birmingham. The panel included Scott Renner, Charles Moore, Cindy Yarborough, HUD Field Office Director , Eleanor Smith, and Scott Phillips. The panel took questions from the audience. There was an opportunity for people to tour two "visitable" homes in Birmingham after the workshop.

If you would like more information about visitability and how to get involved, go to

Independent Living Resources of Greater Birmingham would like to thank our co-sponsers of this event. They are: The City of Birmingham, Habitat for Humanity Greater Birmingham, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Collaborative Solutions, Inc., Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program, Governor's Office on Disability, and United Cerebral Palsy of Greater Birmingham.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

URGENT Action Alert Calls Urgently Needed to All Senators - Support Health Care Reform

People with all types of disabilities have a significant stake in securing comprehensive health reform legislation this year that improves access to quality, affordable health and long term services and supports. According to a 2008 National Center for Health Statistics report[1], from 2001–2005, approximately 19% of non-institutionalized adults with mobility, sensory, and cognitive disabilities and mental illnesses and 17% of people with complex disabilities (such as those that limit self-care, work, or social or leisure activities) reported being uninsured. This is compared to approximately 19% of adults who do not have a disability who were uninsured. Twenty-eight percent of people with mental illness reported being uninsured, the highest rate among people with disabilities.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee has begun its mark-up on health reform legislation. This historic legislation addresses many of these access issues including: prohibiting discrimination based on health status or disability; requiring guaranteed issue of insurance policies; prohibiting pre-existing condition exclusions; prohibiting life-time and annual caps on coverage; and inclusion of community-based long term services and supports.

Offices on the Hill are being flooded with calls and emails opposing health care reform. Please contact your Senators as soon as possible to voice your support for health care reform efforts. This will likely be the only vehicle for enacting long term services and supports.

Your voice is needed now. Use this toll-free number to contact the offices of your two Senators: 866-210-3678.

Urge others to call their Senators, also! Our voices must be heard this week!

[1] : B. Altman and A. Bernstein, Disability and Health in the United States, 2001–2005, (Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics, 2008).

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Call or Write your Senator and Representative supporting the Community Choice Act.

Now is the time to contact Senators Sessions and Shelby, as well as your Representative asking them to support the Community Choice Act.

Currently, every state that receives Medicaid is required by law to provide nursing home services, but paying for medical or personal care services in the home remain optional. This means if a person needs any kind of personal care services, he or she is not given a choice as to where they live, the state determines where they live. In Alabama, 8 out of every 10 people that require personal care services and on Medicaid are placed in nursing homes.

The Community Choice Act requires states to offer medical or personal care services for Medicaid-eligible consumers who want to stay in or return to their homes and communities. This act will allow people with disabilities the choice of where they want to live and live the American Dream!

Currently, only Representative Jo Bonner supports this bill from the Alabama Delegation. Please let your Senator and Representative know that you support the Community Choice Act and would like their support for this bill.

Below are links to the contact information for each member of the Alabama Delegation and a sample letter to your Senator and Representative. If you wish to use the letter, just copy and paste into a word document and add what you wish.