2021 Delaware LIFE Conference, Part 2

 

audio version (opens in a new tab)

 

Introduction

This is part 2 in my series of articles about the

2021 Delaware LIFE Conference

which I attended virtually in September over 3 days. Here is a link to my blog post about

part 1 about the 2021 Delaware LIFE Conference.

As I wrote last week, it was held on September 15, 21 and 22. Session recordings are not available to the public or attendees who did not request them as a disability accommodation. This fact was reiterated at every session which I attended. However,

LIFE Conference presentation materials

are available online for anyone to access. In this blog post, I will summarize some of what I learned on day 2 of the conference.

 

Adapted Driving

I do not use a mobility device such as wheelchair or scooter, and am not able to drive because I am blind. However, I found the

adapted driving presentation

interesting. I learned about assistive technology tools which can help some mobility device users to drive. The two speakers represented

MobilityWorks.

Someone who needs adaptive driving (example: wheelchair) should have a consultation to specify mobility needs before looking at vehicles. This includes mobility progression to ensure a vehicle will be helpful long-term. Additionally, it is important to consider the needs of passengers who typically travel with the driver with disability. The mobility device currently used such as wheelchair needs to be measured. The weight and height of a person with a disability needs to be considered because wheelchair ramps have weight limits. Personal vehicles can sometimes be adapted for wheelchair users. A fold-out ramp can hold up to 1000 pounds. It is mechanical requiring maintenance. Bottom line: consider individual needs and how the vehicle will be used. When a prescription is required for adaptive driving, it should be requested from a certified driver rehabilitation specialist. Reason: this person is knowledgeable about adaptive equipment. A certified specialist also helps ensure equipment is installed safely. Federal funding for adaptive driving is typically through the Veteran’s Administration. State funding can also be waiver funding through the Affordable Care Act or vocational rehabilitation. The state does not pay for vehicles, but will pay for adaptive driving needs. Private funding to help cover the cost of adapted driving technology can include a trust or

GoFundMe.

I will now focus on emergency preparedness.

 

Emergency Preparedness

The

emergency preparedness presentation

provided emergency preparation advice and tips for people with disabilities. It is important to consider both preparing for disasters and behaviors/patterns which change when disaster strikes. The

Delaware Division of Public Health

and

Delaware Emergency Management Agency

can be useful resources. Be aware of surroundings. This helps with focus. It is important to receive communication and communicate with other people. One of the presenters said the

Center for Disabilities Studies at the University of Delaware

put together a communications card. The options during emergencies are shelter-in-place or evacuation. It is important to figure out if shelter-in-place would increase your chance of survival. Take care of yourself first. One of the presenters was a Delawarean who uses a wheelchair. She stated the importance of keeping a wheelchair charged. This includes a portable charger. Additionally, service animals need sufficient food. If asked to leave by officials, follow instructions. Shelter locations are known at the time of emergencies. A shelter can ask if an animal is a service dog due to disability and what the service animal does. Demonstration of a service animal’s purpose is not necessary. The service animal’s owner is responsible for the dog. If the service animal is out of control, the owner can be instructed to take the animal away. One of the presenters said that an emotional support animal is not a service dog. I choose to share two additional emergency preparedness resources which the presenters did not reference.

 

Disability-Focused Emergency Preparedness Resources

Both of these emergency preparedness resources focus on people with disabilities. The

Pacific ADA Center

in California provides webinars about emergency preparedness and management, with a focus on people with disabilities. I suggest checking out

upcoming Pacific ADA Center Emergency Management and Preparedness Webinars

and

archive of Pacific ADA Center emergency management and preparedness webinars.

I have attended a number of Pacific ADA Center emergency management webinars during the past year or two. I find the webinars to be educational and interesting. I also suggest checking out the web site of the Pennsylvania-based

Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies.

The organization is disability-run and disability-focused. Their web site offers relevant emergency-related resources, including education through training. I will conclude my blog post with a discussion about smart homes.

 

Smart Home Technology

I do not live in a smart home, but I found the

smart home presentation

interesting because I learned about possibilities. Smart Home Technology

Smart homes can be useful for people transitioning to independent living in the community or someone at risk of nursing home placement. Smart homes can provide communication tools and help with shopping. Example: water leak alarm or automatic stove shut-off. Additionally, automatic deliveries and bill paying can be considered smart home tools. However, smart homes typically mean remote control access. Remote controls can be operated by smartphone, push button or mouse. A presenter who specified having a disability then played a video demonstrating his smart home. The video caught my attention when he opened his door and a recording of himself was played providing verbal instructions. Bottom line: So much is possible for people with disabilities, whether we are talking about adapted driving, smart homes or emergency preparation.

 

Question for Readers

After reading my blog post this week, what have you learned is possible for people with disabilities? I will return next week with a final article about the 2021 Delaware LIFE Conference.

 

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