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Entries in Natalie Roden (5)


Medical Access & Accommodations


Admit it, going to the doctor can be a drag and annoying experience.  It involves a lot of waiting, talking about personal subjects, being told to do more or one thing less of another, and etc.  Now imagine getting into the office is physically hard, or the examination room is too small for you turn around in.  Even worse, the doctor’s equipment does not work because you can not access it easily.  This is what people with disabilities have to deal with at times when they go to the doctor.  Even though much of todays society has become much more keen to disability awareness and accessibility, there are important places, such as a doctors office, that are essential yet still not accessible in terms of ADA accomodations, though legally they are required to be.

The first rule of thumb for doctors’ offices is how big the actual examination needs to physically able to have a clear space on the floor of at lest 30”x 48”.  The examination table needs to be adjustable and there needs to be space for the patient to do a side transfer on to the table.  There need to be space between the table and wall need to be adequate enough for the staff to assist a patient, all routes through public spaces need to be accessible, and the door way has to be at least 32” to enable a wheelchair to go through.  There also is a need for accessible equipment that can be adjustable for a person in a wheel chair such as mammogram machines and x-ray machines.  In addition, all bathrooms gurneys, and grab bars need to be made available to a person in a wheelchair or who need them.

The ADA states “Reasonable modifications to policies, practices, and procedures when necessary to make health care services fully available to individuals with disabilities, unless the modifications would fundamentally alter the nature of services( i.e. alter the essential nature of the services.)” with disabilities…” This means that all people are eligible and have the civil rights to a good doctor.  A medical service can not deny anyone their services on the basics of disability.  An attendant comes to help a patient at an appointment if he needs it, but patients are not required to bring their own attendants.  If an attendant is provided, they help the patient un dress and dress. but usually they are supposed to go into the waiting room during the actual examination time.

The patient with disabilities is completely able to make decisions for themselves.  The doctor should directly address the patients and not their attendants when talking to them.  A doctor can not make a patient with a disability to wait longer than a person without.  There needs to be an adequate amount of room that are wheelchair accessible, just like any business needs to have an adequate amount of disabled parking places.

This information and stories on personal experiences and tips were shared at Lauren Steinberg’s Rights in a Bag workshop on patients' right in the medical world.  People were able to get information on what their rights were and learned ideas for doctors that are not as commonly known as they should be. In the workshop, it was also discussed that  doctors should have a protocol as to the rights of  disabled patients and what they need to do to accommodate them. It is a growing phenomenon that doctors need to learn more about disability. Luckily for some people, the respect that people with disabilities in doctor’s offices have become better in recent times.


Education and Individual Education Plans (IEPs)

Education is essential to a person’s life. It is hard though for people with disabilities to get accomidations that they need.  This is why in the legal world, there is a plan for students with learning disabilities called an Individual Education Plan or (IEP).  There are also very simple accommodations that are legally required for schools to implement.  Unfortunately, many schools will make it hard for parents to get their child's accommodations.

According to, an IEP is a plan the educators and parents can make for “kids with delayed skills or other disabilities” to help them succeed and to get services that are available to help the child to succeed in school and to achieve goals that have been set as a part of the IEP. Kids who are eligible to get an IEP include: kids with learning disabilities, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or (ADHD), emotional disorders, cognitive challenges, autism, hearing impairments, visual impairments, speech or language impairments, phyisical impairments, and developmental delays. This is a wide spectrum of children, which includes a variety of disabilities. Each IEP is planned for the specific child and no two plans are the same. Individual Education Plans can be obtained from observations that have been made on a student’s performance in academics, a conference with a parent/guardian or the student, or a student analysis. When a child is approved for an IEP, a team or supports for the child is assembled including therapists that are needed in the specific child’s situation, a special educator, teachers, a representative of the child, and most importantly a district representative. At the first IEP the team will make a plan as to what the IEP should entail.  The team will discuss the needs of the child and goals for the school year.  The IEP will be reviewed anually.

As part of the IEP plan, there may be services that are offered, though out the day.  For example, small reading groups with a teacher’s aid, vision therapy, hearing therapy, physical therapy, counseling, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and other services.  Other accommodations may be a notetaking aide for people who have trouble taking notes in class, the use of a computer, etc.  These accommodations can be changed at any time based on the child’s needs and progress.

The process of getting an IEP is complex and can be a struggle at times to deal with. The school district is required to help a child obtain an IEP if the resources they can provide are not substantial enough.   Many children in a private school setting may not be able to get the same services that a child in a public school setting can get.  Although the range of disabilities that can be eligible for an IEP are quite wide; not all children with disabilities will get one especially if they are in a private school setting. On the other hand, when an IEP plan is obtained, it can change a child’s educational life for the better and make a huge impact on the achievements and success that the child has in an educational setting.


Speaking for your Disability Rights

Over 2,000 people gathered on a rainy day in front of the front West Steps of the capitol in Sacramento California on the 25th, of May 2011 for the Annual Disability Capitol Action Day. This day was dedicated to people with disabilities to rally and stand up for not cutting programs and organizations funding in the State of California budget that help people with disabilities. Many groups travelled to be represented and to participate in this day and to participate in a “parade of organizations that proudly announced their arrival to the capitol with noise makers, mega phones and chants as they walked up the last few blocks to the capitol building in hopes that all the senators and people that worked in the building would hear them. When the organizations arrived they were greeted by 26 booths along the capitol’s sidewalks representing different organizations that attended the rally and gave out freebies and informational pamphlets.

Organization that attended included Y.O.! Youth organizing disabled and proud, Disabled American Veterans, AARP, Alta California Regional Center, California Association of Public Authorities for IHSS (CAPA), California Collation of Mental Health, California Disability services association, California Foundation for Independent Living Services, California In – Home Supportive Services Consumer Alliance (CICA), California Network of Mental Health Clients, California Telephone Access Program, California United Homecare Workers, Congress of California Seniors, Counseling California, Disability Rights California, Hamilton Relay, Mental Health Services Oversight & Accountability Commission, NAMI California, National Association of Social Workers – CA, SDSU Interwork Institute, Silicon Valley Independent Living Center ( SVILC), The Arc of California, Traumatic Brain Injury Services of California (TBISCA), UCP of Sacramento and Northern California, United Domestic Workers, (UDW), and United Advocates for children and families. People were able to walk around and get information on services that they rotationally could use and as a whole people were able to see and more importantly people who work in the capitol were able to see the array of programs that they may be hurting by doing budget cuts. As people were looking and scouting around,  there were also key note speakers who spoke on behalf of their organization and what their organization does.

After the speakers, there were groups of people who went into the capitol and talked to senators, representatives and legislators. Groups had main talking points and parts legislation emphasized. Some of these points that people were in favor of included the Olmsted case, health care, teaching people about disability history, and famous disabled people and letting stereotypes go.  Some of the bills that people were up in Sacramento to oppose were “Not in my Backyard.” and many parts of the state budget that would hurt programs they use like IHSS and social security. People also people talked about their support for In Home Supportive Services or (IHSS) which gives services to people with disabilities in the comfort of their own home. People also talked about their everyday life and what it means for them to have attendents and the fact that they are very helpful, but these services do cost a lot of money and without the financial support that they get it would be hard for them to get the services they need. Therefore, the budget cuts would hurt us, the disability community in many ways. The Disability Capitol Action Day was full of hope for people with disabilities and was a day in which people who are not usually heard were able to have a voice in the government and were able to share what they needed. People with disabilities are still making sure that their voice are heard and are getting what they need to live a life that is comfortable and successful and have equal rights that they deserve.


"No Place like Home"

“There is no place like home, there is no place like home.” This quote was famously said by Judy Garland (Dorothy) in the Wizard of Oz. This should be a universal way in which people view housing. In California, the housing market is not too good. There is continuously a lack of funding from the California budget regarding many things including housing. But, people are making do with what they have and what different organizations have to offer.

The Center for Independent Living (CIL) located in Berkeley CA, is making a difference. On May 24th, around 50 people came to CIL and got to hear about a number of organizations that help people with disabilities and seniors with housing and shelter programs and needs. The presentation was called “Housing 101” Organizations included; CIL – Housing Dept and Modification program, Berkeley Housing Authority, St James Hotel, Eden I/R or 211, St Mary’s Center, Veteran Affairs Supportive Housing (   Veteran Administration), Alameda County Area Agency on Aging, A Place for Mom's Family, Resources for Community Development, and the Oakland housing authority. The presenters gave a brief summary of each of their organization and after the forum the audience was free to walk around and talk to the representatives from the different organizations.

One particular way that the people universally can get information about housing and social services is by dialing 211. This service is available in many different languages 24/7 and is free for anyone to call. The representative described 211, as being an informational line in which a live operator would answer and be able to help people with everyday tasks such as getting groceries and paying bills. The woman who came was from the Alameda section of 211 and said that Alameda County also helps people with housing. The 211 service also will call homeless shelters every morning and evening and help people to find shelter to stay during the night. There is a database of about 2700 organizations that help people out in California.

A big emphasis was also put on housing and programs for seniors and veterans. Places like "A Place for Mom’s Family", Alameda County Area on Aging, and Affairs Supportive Housing (Veteran Administration) all help seniors and vets. A woman from CIL who did in home accommodations such as grab bars to get in and out of a shower, ramps and other in home assistive living devices was there. She talked about how it is the law that these things must be allowed to be put in.

All of the organizations were able to give out information on affordable housing and finding shelters that will help single women. The whole point that all of the organizations were trying to get across was to keep people from going to a nursing home and able them to stay at their own houses. It was mentioned that it would cost 5 times more to send a person to a nursing home than it would to have organizations that would help them with In Home Health Services (IHSS).  All in the entire workshop was a success. Participants were able to gather a lot of information from that panel of esteemed speakers and were hopefully able to get what they need. There are different housing workshops and programs at CIL every week. If you or somebody you know is in need of housing information, please feel free to come to the Ed Roberts Campus in Berkeley and see what you can learn.


Accessing Services at The AT Network

Natalie Roden

What is it like to live with a disability? As a person who lives with a disability everyday, it is quite true that it can be hard. Accommodations can be needed in many situations, especially when it comes to accommodations and assistive technology (AT). Luckily the AT network specializes in helping people to know what their rights are. The AT Network also helps to provide people with the assistive technology if needed.

AT Network helps with funding to get people different assistive technology devises that they need. For example, they will help find funding for people with disabilities. The AT Network also helps people to make businesses and homes “disability friendly.” They help to make businesses including resterraunts, stores, rental units, electronic resources. For homes, some accommodations include help for the visually impaired, people with hearing loss, and memory loss. In addition, they also can provide people with the right devices such as software for kids with Autism, accessible computers, assessments and modified vehicles. Modified vehicles may include hand brakes, gas in place of pedals and a modified computer may include speech recognition software and a modified keyboard. The AT Net work does not just help people with what they may need when it comes to physical accommodation.

“The AT Network is dedicated to protecting your rights.” ( They will help with laws and advocacy for people with disabilities. This includes both federal and state laws. More specifically federal laws includes bills such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, Medicare, the Assistive Technology Act of 2004, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act  (IDEA), AT & Department of Veterans Affairs, Reasonable Accommodations in businesses, and The Disability Law Handbook. State laws that the AT Network will help with include: Medi- Cal, Civil Rights Act, different types of accommodations, the Lanterman Act, rehabilitation services, special education and regional centers.  They will also help advocate for peoples’ rights in general. This is a great part of the program because there are many confusing acts, bills, and laws that have been passed, but do give people many rights. They may not be completely clear to people who have not gotten the proper training and have not done a lot of research. Therefore, the AT Network has done the research and will be able to explain the laws and help people to gain and retain their rights.

In conclusion, the AT Network enables many people in a way “Start a new life” and have what they need to accommodate in their normal life and to have the ability to live a life that will help them to be accepted into society. The AT Network has helped many people of all ages. The Mother of a boy named Christopher (a boy with Downs Syndrome who used and assistive speech program by using an “Alphatalker” provided by the AT Network,) shared this: “You can only imagine how it feels to come home, sit down and have Chris come up to you for the first time in his life and initiate on his own, actual clear verbal conversation. That --Hi Mom-- was the most beautiful sound I have ever heard." This is only one of the many successes that the AT Network has helped a client to experience. Please read further for more amazing success stories.