WBEZ | Access Living http://www.wbez.org/tags/access-living Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Friends honor disabled brother's legacy http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/friends-honor-disabled-brothers-legacy-111510 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/StoryCorps 150206 Scott Nance Adam Ballard.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Scott Nance and Adam Ballard are part of a network of disability activists who frequently shut down intersections and grind business to a halt in order to draw attention to the needs of the disabled.</p><p>Nance and Ballard had volunteered separately to scope out the site of the group&rsquo;s next protest when they met.</p><p>Nance hadn&rsquo;t planned to be on the same bus as Ballard that day. But when the two friends interviewed at Access Living earlier this month for StoryCorps, they agreed it was a fitting place for their friendship to begin. Since then, the two have been arrested together for protesting for the rights of people living with disabilities.</p><p>Ballard uses a wheelchair and though he has been disabled his entire life, only sought out a community of other disabled people as an adult. That came after he had an accident that put him in a nursing home for several months.</p><p>Nance, on the other hand, was born with an audio disability, as were his brother and sister. But Nance&rsquo;s brother Devin also had physical, developmental, growth, learning and speech disabilities. For many years, Scott Nance acted as his brother&rsquo;s personal attendant. But then Devin died suddenly and tragically. &quot;That put me in a really dark place,&quot; Nance says. &quot;And I didn&#39;t crawl out of that hole until we did this march in front of the White House.&quot;</p><p>Nance was passing out flyers with other disability activists in Washington, DC, when he had a realization. A woman asked him why he was there and &quot;in that moment I had to challenge myself and think. And I gave her an honest answer. I&#39;m here for my brother.&rdquo;</p><p>&quot;He died at the age of 26,&quot; Nance says, of his brother Devin. &quot;And that&#39;s ridiculous that we live in a society where that still happens. He was someone who loved life. Loved playing catch. Loved going out in the community. He died alone and he never should have been in a position to die alone like that.&quot;</p><p>&ldquo;I never met Devin,&rdquo; Ballard says. &ldquo;You entered my life after all that had gone down. But a couple years ago I think we were out drinking and it happened to be Devin&#39;s birthday so I offered a toast to your brother. And I said, &lsquo;Here&#39;s to your brother because if he&#39;s even halfway responsible for the man you are now then I&#39;m really sad that I didn&#39;t know him.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p></p> Fri, 06 Feb 2015 09:30:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/friends-honor-disabled-brothers-legacy-111510 CHA runs program to help disabled get own homes http://www.wbez.org/news/housing/cha-runs-program-help-disabled-get-own-homes-97818 <p><p>Lawrence Matthews isn't even sure how he ended up in the nursing home. The 56-year-old remembers falling on the ice in January 2009, waking up in the hospital, groggily signing some papers then being moved to a facility he's spent the last three years trying to get out of.</p><p>Now, he and his wife — who he met in the nursing home — recently moved into a place of their own along Chicago's lakefront thanks to a federal program that helps people with disabilities who are 61 and younger leave institutions and secure apartments using public housing vouchers.</p><p>The Non-Elderly Disabled program administrated by the Chicago Housing Authority has helped dozens of low-income people like Matthews who landed in nursing homes because of a medical need then couldn't afford to move out once their conditions improved.</p><p>There's a movement to transition people out of nursing facilities and into homes of their own. In December, a federal judge in Chicago approved a settlement in a class-action lawsuit that could help thousands of disabled, low-income Illinois residents move out of nursing homes.</p><p>Government officials say such programs save tax dollars, while advocates believe everyone benefits from having people with disabilities better integrated into communities. Matthews says he's grateful to no longer feel stuck.</p><p>"Money keeps you in the nursing home," he said. "It's not where we wanted to spend the rest of our lives."</p><p>The CHA has partnered with Access Living, an advocacy group for the disabled, to administer the voucher program. Access Living helps identify residents in institutions who are interested in relocating, finds accessible living arrangements in the private market and works to smooth the transition, including taking people shopping for groceries and appliances. (Disclosure: Access Living is a partner of Chicago Public Media, WBEZ's parent company.)</p><p>Participants pay 30 percent of their annual adjusted income for rent, and the federal Housing Choice Voucher program pays the rest.</p><p>Independent living costs about half of what it costs to house someone in an institution, where the money must cover facility expenses such as staff, maintenance and insurance, advocates say. In a home setting, the expenses are rent, medical costs and personal assistants if they're needed for just one person, rather than an entire building.</p><p>"The state doesn't need to be charged 24 hours for everyone who's in a nursing facility," said Rahnee Patrick, director of independent living at Access Living. "Some people may, not everybody will."</p><p>Federally mandated surveys at nursing homes show one in five residents would rather live in the community, Patrick said.</p><p>For the CHA, the so-called NED program has been a chance to help a unique and previously unreached population.</p><p>Amanda Motyka, Americans with Disabilities Act compliance manager for the CHA, remembers walking into an Access Living event and getting a hero's welcome.</p><p>"They pointed CHA out, 'that's who freed you from your nursing home,'" she said. "Everyone's clapping...it's very touching."</p><p>Matthews, who was sidelined from his job as a laboratory optician by health problems, broke his hip during the fall on the ice and lost his place to live as he recuperated. He learned of Access Living from another resident at the nursing home, and he was pleasantly surprised that it only took months — not years — for him and his wife to move from the facility and into their apartment.</p><p>His wife immediately fell in love with the place, a 20th-floor duplex with dramatic views of Lake Michigan. The couple married on Valentine's Day 2010.</p><p>For the couple, having a home of their own means living by their own rules in their own space.</p><p>"There's too many similarities between prison and the nursing home," Matthews said.</p></p> Mon, 02 Apr 2012 10:22:11 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/housing/cha-runs-program-help-disabled-get-own-homes-97818 Poet Sheila Black considers pain, disability, selfhood and ‘the problem of normal’ http://www.wbez.org/story/poet-sheila-black-considers-pain-disability-selfhood-and-%E2%80%98-problem-normal%E2%80%99-97579 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2012-March/2012-03-23/AP071025036303.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-23/AP071025036303.jpg" style="width: 512px; height: 511px;" title="Kahlo's 1939 painting 'Los Dos Fridas.' (AP/Collection Museo de Arte Moderno)"></p><p>Sheila Black was born with a rare medical condition that gave her crooked legs. Then when she was 13 years old, she underwent a procedure to straighten them -- although the word “procedure” might not adequately describe what she went through.</p><p>“I had my legs radically straightened,” she says. In the first of a number of surgeries Black would have over the course of her life, doctors performed a double osteotomy -- breaking her legs in six places, then re-pinning the bones back together. “I walked a lot better [after the surgery],” Black recalls. “But I had the strange sense of having betrayed the person I was.” Black elaborated: “For me the question of disability was really a problem of normal. The problem was all the normal people out there."</p><p>Black grew into an award-winning poet whose creative interests include what a collaborator has described as “anomalous embodiment,” or what one might more simply describe as physical disability. In one poem she channels that moment of teenage post-surgical self-betrayal, and imagines herself as two people – the person she was before the surgery, and the person she became afterward, as if existing side by side:</p><p style="margin-left: 0.5in;">She<br> was me before I became so fallen. Sneaking<br> Salem cigarettes with the other girls on the fourth<br> floor bathroom. Trying so hard to fit in you could<br> see that desire—a sheen on my skin. The year I<br> learned to walk again—a wheelchair, crutches, crutches<br> discarded, everyone said how it was a miracle, so<br> wonderful, such a great, great thing, as if I could now<br> be welcomed into the club of people. A door closed<br> somewhere, and she was behind it.</p><p>The poem’s title, “Los Dos Fridas or Script for the Erased,” alludes to the title of a 1939 self-portrait by Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, in which Kahlo also depicts two versions of herself side by side: one injured and one healthy, arteries intertwined. Kahlo was in a bus crash at age 18 that left her with a horrifying array of broken bones – pelvis, spine, clavicle, ribs, plus 11 fractures in her leg – as well as permanent damage to her reproductive system. She went through more than 30 surgeries over the course of her life, and was often in so much pain that she had to remain bedridden for weeks at a time.&nbsp;</p><p>Black says that she too experienced extreme pain because of her disability and surgeries, but that Kahlo’s work and legacy proved to be a powerful example of working through the pain. “Frida Kahlo taught me to see [pain] as sort of a forceful, creative thing,” Black explains. “A way of making me pay attention to the world around me.”</p><p>Together with co-editors Jennifer Bartlett and Michael Northen, Black helped assemble the anthology <em>Beauty is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability</em> (Cinco Puntos Press, 2011), which collects the work of several differently-abled writers.</p><p>Nine poets from the anthology read in Chicago earlier this month, including Black. You can hear her recite “Los Dos Fridas” in the audio above.</p><p><a href="../../series/dynamic-range">Dynamic Range </a><em>showcases hidden gems unearthed from </em>Chicago Amplified’s <em>vast archive of public events and appears on weekends. Sheila Black read at an event presented by </em><a href="http://www.accessliving.org/"><em>Access Living</em></a><em> in March. Click </em><a href="../../story/beauty-verb-97306"><em>here </em></a><em>to hear the event in its entirety.</em></p></p> Sat, 24 Mar 2012 11:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/poet-sheila-black-considers-pain-disability-selfhood-and-%E2%80%98-problem-normal%E2%80%99-97579 Settlement improves living opportunities for disabled Chicagoans http://www.wbez.org/story/settlement-improves-living-opportunities-disabled-chicagoans-91260 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-August/2011-08-30/748709408_ae955a68f6.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Disabled Cook County residents have reached a settlement with the state of Illinois about the rights of disabled Medicaid residents in nursing homes. U.S. District Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow in Chicago ruled Tuesday that people living outside of nursing homes can receive state-provided services in their alternate housing.</p><p>Ben Wolf, associate legal director of the ACLU, said the organization hopes the rest of the state will follow suit with Cook County. "We expect that the reform process will demonstrate both that people, many people want to move to the community when given the chance with the right services and support, and that moving them to the community will actually not cost the state more money, and in some instances will actually save the state money," Wolf said.</p><p>The lawsuit, <em>Colbert v. Quinn</em>, is not the first of its kind. The 1999 Supreme Court case <em>Olmstead v. L.C.</em> held that institutionalization of disabled people is discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Marca Bristo, President &amp; CEO of Access Living, a disability advocacy group, compared <em>Olmstead </em>to cases like <em>Brown v. Board of Education</em> and <em>Roe v. Wade</em>.</p><p>Wolf believes that that's an accurate comparison.&nbsp;"<em>Olmstead </em>is a case that crystallizes the rights of people with disabilities who were needlessly institutionalized," he said. "And we're delighted that Governor Quinn and Michael Gelder, his chief health advisor, have signed on to a legally enforceable committment to move the state in a different direction."&nbsp;</p><p>Plaintiffs, including Lenil Colbert, the disabled man for whom the case was named, claim that Illinois could save over two thousand dollars a year per person by housing patients in apartments and not nursing homes. After having a stroke at the age of 32, Colbert became partially paralyzed, and was placed in a nursing home. "I volunteered my time, my name, and my story to this case for several reasons," said Colbert. "I was never given the choice to receive support in my own home." Colbert now lives alone, where he receives about five hours of services a day.&nbsp;</p><p>The state of Illinois will be required to spend $10 million in the first 30 months of implemenation to help over a thousand residents move. Court approval, and a fairness hearing set for December 20, are required before the case becomes state policy.</p><p>"We expect and hope that the number of people who will be [in nursing homes] for long term stays will radically diminish," Barca said.</p></p> Tue, 30 Aug 2011 17:22:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/settlement-improves-living-opportunities-disabled-chicagoans-91260 Dear Chicago: Make neighborhoods accessible http://www.wbez.org/story/access-living/dear-chicago-make-neighborhoods-accessible <p><br> <div id="PictoBrowser120123132149">&nbsp;</div><script type="text/javascript" src="http://www.db798.com/pictobrowser/swfobject.js"></script><script type="text/javascript"> var so = new SWFObject("http://www.db798.com/pictobrowser.swf", "PictoBrowser", "500", "650", "8", "#EEEEEE"); so.addVariable("source", "sets"); so.addVariable("names", "Dear Chicago: Make neighborhoods accessible "); so.addVariable("userName", "chicagopublicmedia"); so.addVariable("userId", "33876038@N00"); so.addVariable("ids", "72157628999161379"); so.addVariable("titles", "off"); so.addVariable("displayNotes", "always"); so.addVariable("thumbAutoHide", "off"); so.addVariable("imageSize", "medium"); so.addVariable("vAlign", "top"); so.addVariable("vertOffset", "0"); so.addVariable("colorHexVar", "EEEEEE"); so.addVariable("initialScale", "off"); so.addVariable("bgAlpha", "80"); so.write("PictoBrowser120123132149"); </script><p>&nbsp;</p><div>Rene Luna, 55, became paralyzed after a car crash in 1977. Now he gets around town in a motorized wheelchair.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The federal Americans with Disabilities Act as well as state laws aim to provide Luna and other people with physical disabilities equal access to businesses and public places. The City of Chicago includes accessibility guidelines in its building code. However, advocates such as Luna feel the city doesn’t uniformly enforce these standards. This is especially problematic in poorer, older neighborhoods that have seen less investment or renovation. Ironically, many of these same neighborhoods have higher concentrations of people with disabilities.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Luna’s appeal to the new mayor: Ensure accessibility in all of Chicago’s neighborhoods, not just downtown. He took WBEZ to Pilsen, a mostly Latino neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side, to explain why accessibility should be a priority for Chicago’s new mayor and newly-elected city council.</div><div><em>&nbsp;</em></div><div><a href="http://wbez.org/dearchicago">Dear Chicago</a> is a project of WBEZ’s <a href="http://chicagopublicmedia.org/partnerships/content-initatives">Partnership Program</a>. Rene Luna was nominated for the series by <a href="http://www.accessliving.org/">Access Living</a>, where he works as a policy analyst.</div></p> Mon, 24 Jan 2011 13:54:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/access-living/dear-chicago-make-neighborhoods-accessible Dear Chicago: Make neighborhoods accessible http://www.wbez.org/story/access-living/dear-chicago-make-neighborhoods-accessible-0 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/Luna_4212.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Rene Luna, 55, became a quadriplegic after a car crash in 1977. Now he gets around town in a motorized wheelchair.</p> <div>The federal Americans with Disabilities Act as well as state laws aim to provide Luna and other people with physical disabilities equal access to businesses and public places. The City of Chicago includes accessibility guidelines in its building code. However, advocates such as Luna feel the city doesn&rsquo;t uniformly enforce these standards. This is especially problematic in poorer, older neighborhoods that have seen less investment or renovation. Ironically, many of these same neighborhoods have higher concentrations of people with disabilities.</div></p> Mon, 24 Jan 2011 11:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/access-living/dear-chicago-make-neighborhoods-accessible-0