Wednesday, July 23, 2014
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Changing the World

RCIL's ultimate goal is to seek integration of and equal access for all people with. As long as people with disabilities are seen as helpless burdens for whom the "normal" world should have sympathy -- rather than being viewed as untapped resources -- society will continue to harbor a bias toward "putting people away" -- and everyone's tax dollars will go to pay for unnecessary and expensive institutionalizations.

Instead, RCIL envisions a world in which everyone -- regardless of disability -- lives in the most integrated and independent setting possible and has the opportunity to contribute to the economic, political, and social life of our community.

RCIL weaves advocacy into every service it provides, and has several programs focused specifically on making change happen. Click on any for a more detailed description:

Disability Rights Online Action Center

RCIL makes it easy to learn about key legislation and important issues that impact disability rights. This link will redirect you to an Independent Living Systems Advocacy Network site.

Disability Rights Coalition

Designed to engage community members interested in changing our local, state, and national attitudes toward disability and the systems these attitudes impact.

Looking for a way to get involved? The Disability Rights Coalition (DRC) is an initiative designed to engage community members interested in changing our local, state, and national attitudes toward disability and the systems these attitudes impact.

With the guidance and expertise of RCIL staff, DRC members identify barriers affecting people with disabilities and tackle these through participation in any of six key areas:

    Education
  • Employment
  • Health Care
  • Multicultural Outreach
  • Advocacy
  • Commerce Change

These committees meet to develop strategies to identify and most effectively address issues -- and to work together to find ways to lead the advocacy efforts needed to tear down barriers to access and participation by people with disabilities.

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Disability Institute

Works to initiate discussion of public policy, deepen awareness and understanding of key issues through research and outreach, and training.

The RCIL Disability Institute works to stir up discussion, deepen awareness and understanding of key issues, and train educators, health care professionals, businesses, government agencies, and the community. The Disability Institute provides the following:

  • A forum for research and debate about disability-related issues and policies
  • Education and training
  • Access to a network of educational, governmental, and medical institutions
  • Development of regulatory, legislative, and policy suggestions

In addition to research, policy development, and debate, the Disability Institute offers the following community education opportunities:

  • Adaptive technology workshops — Trainings focus on the latest adaptive technology, including computer software, adaptive equipment such as screen readers and large keyboards, TTY/TDD equipment, and much more.
  • Adult day services workshops — Interactive sessions explore caregiver issues and the role of adult day services in avoiding unnecessary nursing home placement of elderly persons. How does the physical and emotional stimulation of adult day care affect people with dementia? How can your organization get involved?
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) training — Learn what your business needs to know about this crucial civil rights law, including the facts about reasonable accommodations, what you can and can't ask in a job interview, and how you can benefit from tax credits and other employer incentives.
  • Disability Awareness — Employment sites, schools, and colleges are provided interactive/hands-on programs to learn about the issues of disability lifestyle, technology, disability rights, integration, and personal stories.
  • Employment — Training and workshops on topics related to integrated, competitive employment for individuals with disabilities are available for employment professionals, counselors, job coaches, and human resource managers.
  • Conferences and educational seminars — Stay at the forefront with the latest in emerging disability-related issues and current trends.

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Individual and Systems Advocacy

As one of the functions at the core of the independent living center philosophy, advocacy runs through everything we do at RCIL. Our case managers work with individuals to increase self-help and self-advocacy skills and knowledge. There is no set agenda for the individuals who access our services -- rather, our consumers identify their own independent living goals and set their own pace to achieve them.

Our job is simply to provide support for the process of achieving full participation and equality -- equal access to education, employment, housing, transportation, recreation, health care, the judicial system, and local, state, and federal government.

To accomplish this, RCIL staff work to provide community education regarding disability-related issues and to identify discriminatory trends and physical or attitudinal barriers that impact individuals but are rooted in the community and existing systems. RCIL staff are affiliated with more than 200 community, state, and national organizations, which provide forums for staff to be influential in policy development that impacts systems and service delivery, funding decisions, and the building of support relationships between agencies.

The center played a significant role in several pieces of key disability rights legislation passed at both the state and national levels, including the NYS Accessible Public Transportation Act, the Accessible Voting Rights bill, and the Nursing Facility Transition and Diversion Medicaid Waiver Program. RCIL is also recognized for its expertise in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and routinely conducts workshops and provides technical assistance in the private and public sectors to government, private clubs, businesses, institutions, and professional organizations.

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Nursing Home Transition

If you were injured in a car accident, would you suddenly want to have the decision about where you live taken out of your hands? Is it right that only people who can afford to pay out of pocket have choices that include staying at home?

The Supreme Court decision in Olmstead v. L.C. (1999) affirmed the right of individuals with disabilities to receive services in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs. As a result, communities across the nation are learning how easy and affordable it is to get individuals with disabilities set up in their own homes.

An important legal framework - The Olmstead Decision
Nursing homes are required to talk to individuals and families about residents' possible desire to live in the community again, and the State is required to develop a comprehensive plan to support this option. This decision mandates that individuals with disabilities, including the elderly, must be served by the State (Medicaid/Medicare) in the least restrictive setting. The Court's decision provides an important legal framework for our mutual efforts to enable individuals to remain in or return to their homes and communities.

The challenge
Most people prefer to stay in their own homes. Yet Medicaid still spends 70 percent of its long-term care dollars on nursing homes and only 30 percent on alternative, community-based programs. At the moment, in New York State and across the nation, the long-term care system funded by Medicaid still makes it far easier to qualify for and receive supports in a nursing home setting than in the community.

Contrary to misconceptions that nursing home care is more economical, the fact is that medical advances have improved mobility and health for older individuals and people with disabilities to the point where these same supports can be provided cost-effectively within the community.

Transitioning Assistance
An obstacle to transitioning back into the community is the lack of funding to cover costs associated with setting up a new household. While individuals transitioning to community living have sufficient ongoing income to support their living expenses, they often lack funds for household furnishings such as basic food supplies, bed, couch, chair, dishes and silverware, bed linens and towels, rent and utilities deposits and hook-up charges, window blinds, and other needed items. This may require as little as $500, but it can be a real roadblock for people who want to return home.

How RCIL can helpwith transitioning
Having an advocate in your corner can make all the difference. Knowing your rights and having someone who has experience with the system assist you in working with health officials helps to facilitate the process and ease the transition. RCIL works closely with private and state entities and policymakers to create change, navigating the process together to ensure the most unrestricted outcome possible.

What many people don't realize is how quickly and cost-effectively a transition can be made. RCIL offers a Nursing Home Transition Program to assist people who want to move back home but lack the startup funding to make this possible. Under this program, a transition fund set up in cooperation with the Developmental Disabilities Planning Council and VESID is available to help individuals with basic transition costs.

This means that there's no need to wait. If you don't want to be in a nursing home or are at risk of being moved to one, contact RCIL.

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Your Resource for Independent Living in Central New York


Social Enterprises

Utica Office

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409 Columbia St.
P.O. Box 210
Utica, NY 13503-0210
Voice (315) 797-4642
TDD (315) 797-5837
Fax (315) 797-4747

The Dorothy Smith Center
for Advocacy at RCIL

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1607 Genesee Street
Utica, NY 13501
Voice (315) 797-4642

Amsterdam Office

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347 West Main Street
Amsterdam, NY 12010
Voice (518) 842-3561
TDD (518) 842-3593
Fax (518) 842-0905

LDA North Country

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Suite 102
210 Court Street
Watertown, NY 13601
Voice (315) 785-9440

Herkimer Office

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Steuben Center
401 E. German St.
Herkimer, NY 13350
Voice (315) 866-7245
TDD (315) 866-7246
Fax (315) 866-7280

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