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This week's blog includes tips and timelines from Case Advocate (and seasoned poll worker) Molly Klocksin to make sure you have the opportunity to cast your vote this year, and beyond.

With the start of the school year, parents of children with disabilities might have new questions regarding assistive technology devices that could benefit their students in the classroom. Kristi Berst, the Education Program Coordinator at the Assistive Technology Partnership (ATP), discusses some of the services provided by the ATP - Education program amid recent structural changes. Kristi also provides useful information on how to access ATP - Education's services.

Disability Rights Nebraska is encouraged by recent news indicating Nebraska is moving forward with its Olmstead Plan, and recognizes the Developmental Disabilities Planning Council for their instrumental support in funding the process. Why is Olmstead important and how does it affect real people? Read more in this blog post.

Every child probably attends a new school at some time in his or her life, but for children with disabilities, the regular discomfort of that situation can combine with their disability to make the “new” status even more difficult. Although it may never be possible to totally eliminate the rough ride, there are things that can be done to smooth out some of the bumps.

Guest blogger Paulissa Kipp clarifies Assertive Rights and their importance in self-determination for people with disabilities.

"Complete Streets" aims to increase safety for pedestrians in the Panhandle and is working with members of the local disability community to determine the effectiveness of the changes they are making.

Disability Rights Nebraska is introducing the Lay Advocacy model for Inclusive Education in Nebraska. The program is rooted in the premise that, when students with disabilities are viewed through the same lens as those without, they are provided the same opportunities to make friends with classmates, participate in school activities, and thrive in their school communities.

Non-stop action in the legislature this session with senators introducing 469 new bills and 236 new legislative resolutions this session. Disability Rights Nebraska worked with allies and advocates to bring about legislative policy change for persons with disabilities in Nebraska and worked with senators to develop language on disability-related bills.

In an average week, nursing facilities in the United States administer antipsychotic drugs to over 179,000 people who do not have diagnoses for which the drugs are approved. The drugs are often given without free and informed consent. The drugs’ use as a chemical restraint—for staff convenience or to discipline or punish a resident—could constitute abuse under domestic law and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment under international law.

Extended school year services (ESY) can be a great support to help students with disabilities retain what they learned throughout the previous school year.

In the near future, SSDI beneficiaries who live within a handful of Nebraska counties might receive a mailing inviting them to participate in the Promoting Opportunity Demonstration. In our most recent blog post, staff attorney, Michael Elsken, explains the new demonstration and what it means for eligible SSDI beneficiaries.

Did you know that Nebraska has the highest voter participation rate among persons with disabilities in the United States? How'd we get there and how do we keep it up?

When a business is inaccessible, it does not just impact the individual with the disability. Denying access to a person with a disability means that those who are with the individual have to choose whether to abandon their companion or not visit the place of business.

Disability Rights Board Member Michael Warner shares his thoughts on how LB 968 would immensely improve not only the quality of a person's work viability and options, but the overall quality of life of people with disabilities.

Between now and the beginning of April, if you are on Medicare, you may be receiving a new “red-white-and-blue” Medicare card. Staff Attorney Michael Elsken tells what to expect and why and how to protect your information.

LR 296 comes up for hearing at Noon today, Feb. 21, 2018. The resolution, sponsored by Senator Lynn Walz, would appoint a special committee to study the conditions and treatment of individuals with mental illness within State-Licensed Care Facilities.

Karen Masterson, a Case Advocate at Disability Rights Nebraska, discusses her personal experience with helping a friend navigate the services available to people with developmental disabilities in Nebraska. In her blog post, she also talks about Disability Rights Nebraska's new vision and mission statements and how they align with her own concerns about vulnerable populations.

Best practices in guardianship focus on those options that are the least restrictive. Marla Fischer Lempke from Nebraska's Office of Public Guardian examines the options and shares some resources.

Disability Rights Nebraska has joined with the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), the Collaboration to Promote Self-Determination (CPSD) and other disability rights organizations nationwide to protest an action that can be seen as a further attempt to undermine the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Case Advocate Molly Klocksin reflects on caring for an aging relative and new resources available through the Aging & Disability Resource Center (ADRC).

“Social development” school activities, like holiday programs, are intended to promote social growth while being fun for the child. Parents can work with the school to make sure that a child with a disability has the joyful opportunity to listen for the “hooves on the rooftop” with peers, and not the frustrated stomping of adults.

Living with a disability means following a new set of rules each day. But one rule remains the same: living independently is not always about what you can and cannot do for yourself. Disability Rights Policy Intern Shanae Heard shares her thoughts on independence, dependence and adaptability.

In Part II of her blog series, Carol Countryman examines real-life experience of people with mental illness living "in the community" and contrasts it with what could be a more typical life.

Carol Countryman muses on how easy it is to fall into the trap of unconscious bias around people with mental health issues, and more positive options, in the wake of the Las Vegas shootings.

US Senator Tammy Duckworth represents the state of Illinois in the U.S. Senate. She is an Iraq War veteran and has physical disabilities as a result of her time in combat. In this article from the Washington Post, she expresses her deep concerns about the HR 620, the so-called "ADA Education & Reform Act".

What difference do clear vision and mission statements make in disability rights work? CEO Eric Evans discusses the value and use of our updated vision and mission statements in keeping Disability Rights Nebraska's day to day work focused on the big picture.

Halloween costumes that mock mental illness can easily contribute to already existing stigma--a major barrier to treatment.

Is a former state psychiatric hospital an appropriate setting for retirement living? Case Advocate Molly Klocksin questions the imagery.

The revised Affordable Care Act (ACA) repeal plan from Senators Bill Cassidy and Lindsey Graham, which is also backed by Senators Dean Heller and Ron Johnson, would give states broad waiver authority to eliminate the ACA’s core protections for people with pre-existing health conditions. These waivers would come on top of the proposal’s elimination of the ACA’s marketplace subsidies and Medicaid expansion, its radical restructuring of the rest of the Medicaid program, and its large cuts to total federal funding for health insurance coverage.

Read Disability Rights' top six points in response to Nebraska's draft Consolidated State Plan for the Every Student Succeeds Act. This plan will be submitted to Federal Department of Education within the next week. There are concerns about how the proposed state plan addresses the needs of students with disabilities, and controversial practices like aversive behavioral interventions and seclusion and restraint.

People with disabilities in Nebraska's jails and prisons are not receiving the medical and mental health treatment they need. Staff Attorney Brian Craig argues that rehabilitation is not possible if people are denied care and denied access to programming.

“We who have been labeled mentally ill stand in unity with all the oppressed people of this society. We stand with those who experience, or have experienced, the trauma of racism, sexism, homophobia, anti-immigrantism, ableism, and all other forms of ‘othering’ people not like ourselves. We condemn the gathering of white supremacists in Charlottesville and the violence that their creed of hatred produced..."

There are countless positive and beneficial aspects of being employed that should be accessible to all people who want to work, and "reasonable accommodations" can make it possible for a person with a disability to have equal employment opportunities.

People receiving Social Security benefits CAN work - especially students - if you follow a few guidelines. Disability Rights Nebraska Attorney Mike Elsken fills you in.

CEO Eric Evans lays out the basis of the sharpened advocacy focus in our new strategic plan.

Service dogs mean freedom for many people. Guest Blogger Roxann Hamilton shares her thoughts on the many ways a canine companion provides support to a person with a disability.

With the recent attacks on disability from both the federal and state government, people with disabilities are in danger of losing their ability to live in the community. It's time for all of us to come together to address the threat.

Throughout the years, parents and their children have lobbied toy companies to make dolls that reflect a wider variety of our world’s population. Thanks to advocacy by parent groups, dolls lining the shelves of toy stores today are more likely to have different features.

The legislative session is full of both expected and unexpected twists, turns, and developments. It is the place where advocacy is preached, prized, and practiced. Senators, advocates, lobbyists, and concerned citizens propose and respond to new ideas, and much more. Public Policy Director Bradley Meurrens talks about this past legislative session.

The transition into adulthood isn't easy for anyone, including young people with disabilities. Learning self-advocacy skills can help teenagers and young adults with disabilities speak up for themselves and live the lives they envision for themselves. Administrative secretary, Tess Barnes, discusses the importance of building self-advocacy skills in Disability Rights Nebraska's most recent blog post.

People with disabilities are at grave risk of losing assistance that allows them to not only live more independently, but to participate in the classroom and receive the medical care they need in President Trump’s proposed budget plan, titled “A New Foundation for American Greatness”.

The human needs community is concerned about the massive attack the FY18 Trump Budget takes on low-income and vulnerable people. Read CHN’s Statement on the Trump Budget, “The Trump Budget: A Harsh Attack On Our Own People.”

One out of every 100 special education students was restrained by school personnel or secluded in school from his or her peers in the 2013-14 school year, presumably to quell behavior that teachers considered disruptive or dangerous.

In all, the House bill takes roughly $1 trillion over ten years out of Medicaid and subsidies to help low- and middle-income people afford decent coverage and meet high deductibles and cost-sharing charges — and uses the bulk of this money to give lavish tax cuts to the nation’s richest people instead.

Staff attorney, Michael Elsken writes about the regulations that entitle students with disabilities to transition services. He discusses the Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act and what it means for employment opportunities for the disability community.

Community Outreach Disability Advocate Mindy Baird from our Scottsbluff office shares her experience with a pro-active, cross-agency collaboration on transportation. In that geographically broad area, a greater range of dependable transportation options will make it easier for people with disabilities in the panhandle to live a typical life.

Toys are for kids, not adults. Adults with physical or mental disabilities are still adults. Pets are one of life’s joys. And I think real pets are the best kind for all of us.

Public Policy Director, Bradley Meurrens, discusses disability rights advocates' involvement in the legislative process. Meurrens explains why it is important for citizens to reach out to their legislators and provide their perspectives on policy.

Case Advocate Karen Masterson paints a more detailed picture of the "why" and the "what" of Information and Referral.

New Kaiser Family Foundation paper contains data on how the AHCA can impact nonelderly adults with disabilities.

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