Building Financial Solutions for People with Disabilities

The following free webinar is from the US Department of Labor

Get Empowered: Make the Most of Your Job and Improve Your Financial Security Building Financial Solutions for People with Disabilities

February 27, 2020 – 2:00 – 3:30 p.m. ET

showing money growthIf you are a person with a disability who is getting ready to enter the workforce or who recently did, you probably have a lot of questions related to your new job and your financial security. We want to help you find the answers so that you are empowered to take steps to achieve your financial goals.

As we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act and America Saves Week, join the U.S. Department of Labor, America Saves, and the LEAD Center for a webcast to learn about ways to improve your financial security. National experts from the National Disability Institute will discuss ABLE accounts that can help you save for some of your goals without threatening disability benefits. Hear a personal account from staff at the Department’s Office of Disability Employment Policy about moving from disability benefits to employment and achieving financial independence. The Department’s Employee Benefits Security Administration will provide information and resources on financial planning to help achieve your goals. This includes budgeting, managing debt and determining a target retirement saving rate so you can make the most of your workplace-provided retirement plan. Learn more about workplace-provided retirement saving plans – the easiest way to save for a secure retirement.  America Saves will share how direct deposit can help with saving for all of your goals.

So, during America Saves Week, get empowered. The more you know, the more prepared you will be to make decisions for your financial security today and in the future. Start today by registering for this webcast!

Use this link to register for this webinar…

Photo credit: Image licensed through Creative Commons by PixaBay

Accessible Polling Facilities and the ADA

The word "vote" with a wheelchair embeddedThe Great Lakes ADA Center in collaboration with the ADA National Network invites you to attend the March ADA Audio Conference Series session titled “Accessible Polling Facilities and the ADA” featuring  Julie Brinkhoff, Co-Director/PI, Great Plains ADA Center.

Session Description: This presentation will cover resources available to election officials to evaluate the accessibility of polling locations, specifically the ADA Checklist for Polling Places developed by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in 2016. The presentation will discuss training polling place staff and volunteers on key issues related to disability voting rights, disability awareness, and avoiding barriers to voting access. The presentation will include real life examples, images and graphics to illustrate the content.

Date: March 17, 2020

Time: 2:00 – 3:30 pm Eastern Time

Cost: Free

This session is offered via the telephone and/or via a web based webinar platform. The session will be captioned via the web based webinar platform.

Registration is available at www.ada-audio.org  (You will need to set up an account if you do not have one already).

Questions regarding the session should be directed to webinars@adagreatlakes.org or at 877-232-1990 (V/TTY).

Maine CITE to Exhibit at Brain Injury Resource Fair

BIAA-Maine logoAlong with many other organization, Maine CITE will be exhibiting at the 2020 BIAA-ME Brain Injury Resource Fair taking place on Monday, March 2, 2020 at the Augusta Armory, 179 Western Ave.

The event, hosted by Brain Injury Association of America – Maine Chapter (BIAA-ME), provides an opportunity to connect with resources, services, and support for brain injury survivors, family members, caregivers, friends and professionals.

Tables and exhibitors include:

  • Brain injury service providers
  • Assistive technology
  • Advocacy and legal information
  • Support, recreational/social groups
  • Veteran organizations
  • Housing and employment
  • Maine brain injury waiver

The Fair is free for attendees; however, registration is required. To attend, please use this link to register.

If you do not have an email address or if you need assistance with registration, contact Sarah Gaffney at 207-522-6601. All attendees are strongly encouraged to register online in advance.

 

Legislature Recognizes February 2020 as 211 Month

211 Maine logoSince becoming a statewide service in 2006, 211 Maine has received over 750,000 calls. Every month, 211 receives thousands of calls from people in need of referrals. In 2019, the most common reasons individuals contacted 211 Maine were for heating assistance, utilities assistance, mental health services, housing/shelter, and food.

Many Maine citizens contact 211 Maine to seek assistance in acquiring assistive technology (AT) devices or services. Specialists are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week by texting a Maine zip code to 898-211 or by dialing 211. 211 Maine is a collaborative effort of the United Ways of Maine, the State of Maine, and The Opportunity Alliance as the Contact Center Partner.

Maine Legislature Honors 211

The Maine Legislature voted to recognize February 2020 as 211 Month with bipartisan support. Finding help for complex needs like shelter, substance use, mental health, or food access can be hard for many Mainers looking for themselves or someone they know. Fortunately, there is a resource here in Maine to help.

Sen. Susan Deschambault (D-Biddeford) presenting the Joint Resolution to the State Senate on Feb. 11, 2020. “211 Maine is a free, confidential avenue for people of all ages to access information and resources,” said Rep. Abigail Griffin (R- Levant).

“It allows people to connect with professionals who can help or lead them in the right direction. It provides assistance with different issues such as crisis, housing, health services and other useful information. I co-sponsored the 211 Resolution so that more people will be aware of this helpful service.”

The Joint Resolution recognizing 211 Month in Maine was cosponsored by Sen. Susan Deschambault (D-Biddeford), Rep. Abigail Griffin (R-Levant), Sen. Michael Carpenter (D-Houlton), Sen. Ned Claxton (D-Auburn), and Rep. William Tuell (R-East Machias).

“When you call 211, you speak with trained professionals who can direct you to the right program or resource and point you to the next step,” said Sen. Susan Deschambault (D-Biddeford). “Back in December, I mentioned the 211 program in a column I wrote for The Courier. I ended up receiving many calls and emails from people who told me that they were grateful to learn about 211.”

“Finding the right resource can be confusing and frustrating,” said Liz Cotter Schlax, United Way of Greater Portland CEO/President and President of the 211 Maine Board of Directors. “While the internet can be helpful, often what a person really needs is to have a conversation. With 211, they speak directly with an actual person right here in Maine. That is so valuable.”

Read more about 211 Month in Maine…

Update of Accessibility Guidelines for Rail Cars

From the U.S. Access Board

US Access Board logoPublic Hearing on the Advance Notice on Updating the ADA Accessibility Guidelines for Rail Vehicles
March 10, 2020, 2:00 – 4:00 (ET)
Access Board Conference Center
1331 F Street, NW, Suite 800
Washington, D.C.

The U.S. Access Board is initiating rulemaking to update its accessibility guidelines for rail cars covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and seeks public comment on this effort. As indicated in an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking it published on 2-14-2020, the Board plans to update provisions in the ADA Accessibility Guidelines for Transportation Vehicles that apply to vehicles used in fixed guideway systems, including rapid, light, commuter, and intercity rail. The Board requests information from the public for its use in developing a proposed rule.

The Board intends to update these guidelines, which were published in 1991, according to an advisory panel it organized. The Rail Vehicles Access Advisory Committee, which included representatives from advocacy organizations, transit operators, rail car manufacturers, and other stakeholders, reviewed the existing guidelines for rail vehicles and recommended how they should be updated to address accessibility issues, advances in technology, changes in car design, and other factors. The Committee’s report provides recommendations on provisions for vehicle communications, boarding and alighting, on-board circulation, seating, and rooms and spaces.

The advance notice discusses the committee’s report and includes questions posed by the Board. The Board seeks comment on both the substance of the recommendations from the committee as well as related questions about the feasibility or potential impacts on vehicle design, operations, and cost. It is also interested in research, data, and technologies on improved accessibility to rail vehicles.

Questions raised in the notice address coverage of new and remanufactured vehicles, variable message signs, hearing induction loops, vehicle ramps and lifts, car doors, between-car barriers, handrails and stanchions, wheelchair spaces, and vertical access in bi-level cars. The Board will use the information collected to draft a proposed rule which also will be made available for public comment.

The advance notice, which includes Instructions for submitting comments, is posted at www.regulations.gov (Docket ATBCB-2020-0002). Comments are due May 14, 2020.

In addition, the Board will hold a public hearing on March 10 from 2:00 – 4:00 (ET) that will provide an opportunity to submit comments either in person or by phone. Those who wish to provide testimony should contact Rose Marie Bunales at (202) 272-0006 or bunales@access-board.gov .

For further information, visit the Board’s website or contact Juliet Shoultz at (202) 272-0045 or shoultz@access-board.gov for technical questions or Wendy Marshall at (202) 272-0043 or marshall@access-board.gov for legal questions.

 

State provides guidance on new Hearing Aid mandate

Regarding the recently passed and enacted legislation related to 24-A M.R.S. § 2762, a law which requires health insurance carriers in Maine to provide hearing aid coverage in all individual and group health plans, the Maine Bureau of Insurance in the Department of Professional and Financial Regulations has published the following Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) documentation:

New Hearing Aid Mandate, Effective January 1, 2020

Q: I have insurance and I need hearing aids. Does this new law mean my insurance will cover the cost now?

A: It depends on several factors:

Type of Insurance

The following types are required to provide the benefit:

      • Fully funded major medical policies, including ACA coverage;
      • Short-term limited duration policies

These types are exempt from all State health insurance benefit mandates:

      • Medicare products, including Medicare Supplement and Medicare Advantage plans (federally exempted by Social Security/Medicare);
      • Self-insured plans, except state or municipal governmental and multiple-employer welfare association (MEWA) plans;
      • Plans other than comprehensive major medical or short-term limited duration: accidental injury; specified disease; hospital indemnity; dental; vision; disability income; long-term care; other limited benefit health insurance.

Benefit Details, Deductibles, Cost, Networks, and Renewal Dates

Coverage amount:

      • Up to $3,000 per hearing aid for each hearing-impaired ear; and
      • Available every 36 months.

Deductibles: You should be aware that you could still be responsible for all or part of the cost if you have not yet met your annual deductible at the time you purchase a hearing aid.

Cost:  If you purchase a hearing aid that costs more than $3,000, you should assume you will need to pay the amount over the $3,000 out of your own pocket, even if you have met your deductible – unless your policy specifically provides a greater benefit.

Network:  You could also be responsible for all or part of the cost if you use a provider who is not part of your plan’s network.

Renewal dates:  If you have a group plan that is required to provide this benefit, but it renews later in the year, the benefit will not be included in your coverage until that time.

Q: I know I have hearing issues. Do I need to go to my primary care office before going to see a hearing specialist and getting a prescription for hearing aids?

A:  Whether you are able to self-refer to a specialist and whether pre-authorization is required to purchase a hearing aid would depend on your policy contract.  Check with your insurer and/or your employer’s benefits department.

Q: Will my insurance cost more because of this mandate?

A:  The cost of providing the new benefit is built into the premium and should be very minimal (the Bureau’s 2014 report estimated that the cost per policyholder could be $.47 per month).

If you have questions beyond this FAQ, please contact the Maine Bureau of Insurance

Habitat for Humanity of Greater Portland’s Critical Home Repair

Habitat for Humanity of Greater Portland logoHabitat for Humanity of Greater Portland’s Critical Home Repair service helps low-income homeowners make needed repairs so they can live in a safe, healthy, and affordable home. This program is part of a Habitat for Humanity’s nation-wide effort to serve homeowners who are affected by age, disability or family circumstances and struggle to maintain the integrity of their homes.

Habitat for Humanity of Greater Portland recognizes that new home construction is only a part of the solution for quality, affordable housing. The Critical Home Repair program is part of our broader community development strategy to transform and strengthen communities. It not only addresses the health, safety and affordability of the individual residences in neighborhoods, it also strengthens connections within the community and helps preserve affordable housing stock.

How it Works

The Critical Home Repair program requires an affordable payment from the homeowner for a portion of the repair costs. Applicants will be scored and ranked by level of need. Not all applications will be approved. This program serves homeowners in Cumberland County who have a household income below 80% of HUD Area Median Income.

Examples of Work to be Done

  • Roof leaks
  • Accessibility issues, ramps, etc.
  • Stair repairs
  • Structural work, not to include foundations

Work We Will Not Do

  • Mobile or modular homes (except ramps)
  • General cosmetic repairs, including but not limited to: flooring, painting, carpentry, etc.
  • Window replacement
  • Bathroom renovations or repair (only for accessibility)

Program Outline

Homeowners will apply by a deadline, and will need to demonstrate:

  • A household incomes at or below 80% of HUD median income
  • A Tax Assessment Building Value less than $200,000. They have paid their property taxes on time
  • They are current on their mortgage
  • They must own (name on title) and occupy the home and have lived in the home for over three years
  • Willingness for Habitat to conduct a credit check and background check on all residents over age 18

Scope, Costs, and Payments

Habitat will review the home for needed repairs and prepare a scope of work and price recommendation. Families will pay only a portion of the actual costs of materials and sub-contracted in-kind labor, based on their income. For example, if the materials and contracted labor are $6000, the family’s income as a percentage of Area Median Income will be the percentage of costs they pay. For example, a family of four making 30% of AMI ($23,000) will repay only 30% of repairs, or $1800. A family making $46,000 will repay 60% of repairs. Habitat will donate the balance of the project costs. Payment terms may be available.

For More Information and to Apply

Contact Molly Brake at molly@habitatme.org / 207-772-2151 ext. 104 or visit the Habitat for Humanity of Greater Portland’s Critical Home Repair website 

 

 

Maine SILC conducts needs assessment survey

Maine SILC logoIndependent Living philosophy emphasizes that people with disabilities are the best experts on their own needs. Individuals should have the ability to decide how to live, work, and take part in their communities.

The Maine Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC) supports these efforts by influencing public policy and promoting opportunities for individuals with disabilities to live independently in all facets of their lives. The Maine SILC is an independent nonprofit organization that is not contained within any State agency.

Maine SILC is conducting a survey to gather information about services that provide support to people with disabilities. The information you provide in the survey will help set goals for the next three years.

The Survey seeks information from a person with a disability, parents or guardians of a person with a disability, or representatives of a person with a disability.

The deadline to complete the survey is March 31, 2020.

Please use this link to go directly to the survey…

Tools for Living: How Technology is Transforming the Experience of Independence.

The following free webinar is sponsored by GrandCare Systems

Date And Time

Fri, February 21, 2020
1:00 PM – 2:15 PM ET

Program Description

woman using digital magnifierEvery day, 10,000 baby boomers are eligible for Medicare. Not only do 90% of today’s seniors wish to stay home for longer, we simply don’t have the physical capability nor can we afford to push the same traditional caregiving models. This is why professional caregivers and senior housing providers are turning to smart technologies to save on the costs of personal caregivers, enable independence, offset caregiver shortages and connect residents with family members.

Speakers:

  • Laura Mitchell, CEO of GrandCare, Principal at Laura Mitchell Consulting
  • Laurie Orlov, Analyst & Founder, Age in Place Technology Watch
  • Dr. Bill Thomas, Founder ChangingAging.org, the Greenhouse Project, Eden Alternative and Minka
  • Ryan Frederick, Founder & CEO, SmartLiving 360

This webinar will cover the technology ecosystem, housing models, technology in long term care vs. private homes, challenging caregiving norms and implementation best practices.

Registration

Use this link to register for the meeting and then,

Use this link to Join the online meeting:

Dial-in number (US): (425) 436-6399 Access code: 155680#

Online meeting ID: media644

Access to air travel for passengers who use wheelchairs

From the U.S. Access Board

Study Initiated on Equipping Passenger Aircraft with Wheelchair Restraint Systems

US Access Board logoThe U.S. Access Board is undertaking a study that has the potential to advance access to air travel for passengers who use wheelchairs. As directed by Congress, this project will assess the feasibility of equipping passenger planes with restraint systems so that passengers can remain in their wheelchairs on flights. Having to transfer out of wheelchairs makes air travel very difficult, if not impossible, for many people with disabilities.

The Board is conducting this study through the National Academy of Sciences’ Transportation Research Board (TRB). TRB has organized a committee of experts to evaluate the feasibility of in-cabin wheelchair restraint systems. Members include experts in aircraft interiors and safety engineering, accessibility, wheelchair design and crashworthiness, airline operations, and other disciplines. Committee members will evaluate the design, engineering, and safety requirements for equipping aircraft with locking or tiedown mechanisms for non-motorized and motorized wheelchairs used as seats. If such restraint systems are found to be feasible, the committee will then assess the wheelchair restraint systems that can be used to accommodate passengers using wheelchairs through all phases of flight, from boarding to deplaning.

The committee will hold its first meeting February 5 – 6, 2020 at the Access Board’s conference center. Most sessions will be open to the public and available by web conference. Those attending in person do not need to register in advance, but registration is required (free) to attend online.

Visit TRB’s website for further information on this project, the meeting agenda, and the committee.

Questions about the study can be directed to Mario Damiani of the Access Board at damiani@access-board.gov, (202) 272-0050 (v), or (202) 272-0066 (TTY). Inquiries about attending the committee meeting or registering for the web conference should be addressed to Anusha Jayasinghe of TRB at AJayasinghe@nas.edu or (202) 334-2401