Shawn McDuff appears in North Shore 100

The 20 percent of the population that, according to the latest census, lives with some kind of disability, could have no better advocate than Shawn McDuff, deputy director of the Independent Living Center of the North Shore and Cape Ann.

“He’s the smartest man I know,” said Mary Margaret Moore, executive director, who includes marketing director, webmaster and expert advisor on community advocacy among McDuff’s duties.

The center helps people with disabilities live independently and participate in the community. It also organizes people to resist discrimination and push for social change.

McDuff uses a wheelchair because he has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, which progressively weakens his muscles. He serves as “a role model in how to live fully and productively and completely with disabilities,” Moore said.

“Living independently doesn’t necessary mean alone,” McDuff said. “It means people are able to make choices and live their lives as they choose with necessary supports.”

“I feel pride in being someone who is disabled who goes to work everyday and makes a contribution to the community.”


New flexibility for states to improve Medicaid and implement innovative practices

New rules will make Medicaid more flexible and efficient, helping states provide better care and lower costs

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today announced four initiatives to give states more flexibility to adopt innovative new practices and provide better, more coordinated care for people with Medicaid and Medicare while helping reduce costs for states and families.  The initiatives support the Obama administration’s work to make Medicaid more flexible and efficient and to address long-term cost growth.  Several of the announcements also help implement provisions of the Affordable Care Act.  Today HHS announced:

  • Fifteen states will receive federal funding to develop better ways to coordinate care for people with Medicare and Medicaid coverage, also known as dual eligibles, who often have complex and costly health care needs.
  • All states will receive increased flexibility to provide home and community-based services for more people living with disabilities.
  • All states are eligible to receive more money to develop simpler and more efficient information technology (IT) systems to modernize Medicaid enrollment.
  • A proposal by the state of New Jersey for flexibility to expand health coverage for nearly 70,000 low-income residents has been approved.

“Medicaid programs provide health coverage for millions of low-income Americans who otherwise would lack access to health care,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.  “With these new resources and flexibilities, states will have new options to make their Medicaid programs work better for the people they serve, while helping lower their costs.”

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National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program

On April 6, 2011, the FCC issued an order to set up the first ever National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program to enable low-income individuals who are deaf-blind to access 21st century communications services.  Established as a pilot program, the NDBEDP will help ensure that deaf-blind individuals have access to the Internet, and advanced communications, including interexchange services and advanced telecommunications and information services. The Order is the first of several we are expecting this year to implement the provisions of the 21st Century Communications & Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (“21st CVAA”).

Funded with $10 million allocated from the Interstate Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) Fund each year, the FCC said that the best approach is to establish a two-year pilot program with the option of extending this for a third year. The FCC will assess the program then to see what is most efficient and effective for administering the NDBEDP on a permanent basis.  Under the NDBEDP pilot program, the Commission will certify and provide funding to one entity in each state to distribute equipment to low-income individuals who are deaf-blind. Here are some of the NDBEDP details:

•Of the $10 million, up to $500,000 is set aside for national outreach efforts.
•Each state will initially receive a minimum initial funding allocation of $50,000, with the balance of the available funds allocated in proportion to each state’s population.
•Certified programs must submit documentation to support claims for reimbursement for NDBEDP equipment and related services, up to each state’s funding allocation.
•Certified programs must submit reports on their activities and expenses every six months, disclose potential conflicts of interest, and conduct annual independent audits.
•To be certified, entities must apply for certification to receive funding support under the NDBEDP pilot program within 60 days of the effective date of the rules.  The Commission will certify only one entity for each state.
•Consumer eligibility is limited to individuals who are deaf-blind as defined in the Helen Keller National Center Act.
•Because of the unusually high medical and disability-related costs incurred by people who are deaf-blind, the low-income eligibility threshold is set at 400% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
•Equipment for distribution includes specialized and off-the-shelf equipment, separately or in combination, as long as it meets the needs of the deaf-blind individual and makes communications services covered under the CVAA accessible.
•Costs of the equipment distributed, warranties, maintenance, repairs, and refurbishing will also be covered, if reasonable.
•Also covered are related services, if reasonable, such as state and local outreach efforts, individual assessments of a deaf-blind person’s communications equipment needs, equipment installation, and individualized training of consumers on how to use the equipment.
This COAT story is on the website with Order attached in WORD, see COAT story or go to FCC website. Thanks for all you did to ensure we got the 21st CVAA enacted and with this program included!

Jenifer Simpson, Senior Director for Government Affairs
American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD)
Washington, DC USA,

Accessible vacation in St. John

Our friend Tom went on vacation to St. John and was thrilled to stay in an accessible ecotent where he was able to do most everything on his own. Tom also enjoyed a day cruise on a 50 foot Catamaran and shared these videos with us!

Check out this new video of the accessible ramp from the parking lot to his vacation spot on the side of the mountain…