Category Archives: Disabilitiies

“She’s considered the mother of disability rights — and she’s a ‘badass’” – The Washington Post Magazine

judy heumanm

by David A. Taylor

“Judy Heumann’s pandemic year started off extremely well. In late January 2020, she attended a Sundance screening of “Crip Camp,” a documentary about disabled young people — including her — who, after meeting at a Catskills summer camp run by hippies in the 1970s, went on to shape the disability rights movement and change federal law. It was a surprise hit and became an Oscar nominee for best documentary.

“The following month, she published a memoir called ‘Being Heumann.’ (She hadn’t known when the film would be released, so the timing was a coincidence.) Publishers Weekly hailed the book as ‘thoughtful and illuminating.’

“Then, just days before the world shut down, Heumann — who has made her home in D.C. since 1993 — joined Trevor Noah on ‘The Daily Show.’ At one point in the interview, Noah called her a ‘badass’ and asked her about the time, in 1972, when she ‘decided to shut New York down” with a disability rights protest.”

Watch the 10 minute Trevor Noah interview here.

Continue reading this Washington Post Magazine article, click here.

Disability Rights Pennsylvania Announces COVID-19 Vaccine Hotline for People with Disabilities | news release

DRP vax program

Harrisburg, PA – Disability Rights Pennsylvania (DRP), a leader in disability rights advocacy for more than forty years, will operate a Vaccine Hotline to assist Pennsylvanians with disabilities who are interested in getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

People with disabilities who have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine, or who are experiencing problems getting it, can call DRP at (833) DRP-2-VAX, (833- 377- 2829) or email DRP at vaccine@disabilityrightspa.org between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Please contact the DRP Vaccine Hotline if you:

  • are denied a reasonable accommodation at your vaccination site
  • encounter physical accessibility or effective communication barriers at your vaccination site
  • can’t leave your home to get the vaccine due to a disability
  • need transportation to get to your vaccination appointment
  • need help finding a vaccination appointment due to a disability
  • would like more information about the importance of receiving a vaccine 

“Pennsylvanians with disabilities need and want to be vaccinated to protect themselves, those they love, and the community at large,” said Peri Jude Radecic, Chief Executive Officer of Disability Rights Pennsylvania. “They cannot be denied their right to choose a life-saving COVID-19 vaccine due to illegal barriers on scheduling websites or at vaccination sites, or the failure of providers to administer or deliver the vaccine in a manner that is reasonable in light of their disabilities.”

Through the Vaccine Hotline, DRP staff can provide legal advice to Pennsylvanians with disabilities on how civil rights laws ensure their ability to access the COVID-19 vaccine.  Staff may also provide information, resources, and/or direct assistance related to scheduling a vaccine, connecting with transportation services, and resolving problems that are preventing a person with a disability from getting the vaccine.

Information and resources are also available on the Vaccine page of DRP’s website at https://www.disabilityrightspa.org/covid19/#vaccines.

Individuals who speak languages other than English should state their language and an interpreter will be connected to the call. Callers using the Pennsylvania Relay Service can dial 711.


Disability Rights Pennsylvania (DRP) is the statewide protection and advocacy agency for Pennsylvanians with disabilities. DRP protects and advocates for the rights of people with disabilities so that they may live the lives they choose, free from abuse, neglect, discrimination, and segregation. DRP’s vision is a Commonwealth where people of all abilities are equal and free. www.disabilityrightspa.org.

Ottawa, Canada: “Family begged to have sister with Down syndrome vaccinated sooner. Now she’s on a ventilator with COVID-19” – CBC

“Research suggests people with Down syndrome who contract COVID-19 have significantly increased risk of death”

covid downs“Demetra (Toula) Zouzoulas, 44, shown on her birthday. Her sister says she asked repeatedly if Toula could be vaccinated before those with Down syndrome became eligible. She says every request was denied.” (Submitted by Olga Zouzoulas )

by Nicole Williams

“Toula Zouzoulas, 44, who has Down syndrome, has spent the last year terrified of catching COVID-19, according to her sister Olga Zouzoulas.

“Now, Toula is on a ventilator, fighting for her life in the ICU of Montfort Hospital in Ottawa after testing positive.

“Zouzoulas said she feels all this could have been avoided if her sister had been vaccinated, arguing that Toula and others with Down syndrome should have qualified sooner.

“Under Ontario’s vaccine rollout program, those with intellectual or developmental disabilities are considered high-risk under Phase 2, but didn’t become eligible until May 3 — too late for Toula who contracted COVID-19 a week earlier.

“‘The government didn’t see them as the highest risk and they failed. They failed my sister,’ said Zouzoulas.”

Keep reading this article at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, click here.

“‘Your mouth becomes a minefield’: the Americans who can’t afford the dentist” – The Guardian

“Pandemic job cuts have meant many people have no insurance to pay for dental work – and the poorest are hardest hit”

older persons dentistryMillions of Americans have no dental insurance coverage and cannot afford to pay out of pocket for extensive dental care needs.” Photograph: Megan Jelinger/Reuters

by Michael Sainato

“Maureen Haley, 66, lost her home in Florida in the wake of the 2008 recession. She now lives in a camper near Greensboro, North Carolina, relying on social security and Medicare to make ends meet and pay for healthcare.

“But Haley has problems with her teeth, and cannot afford to see a dentist to have them fixed.

“’My teeth problems are the biggest problem I have each day,’ said Haley. ‘I need root canals and implants. I have a tooth impaction. I have to massage the heck out of it to get the air out of my gums and cheek after chewing a meal. Painful is an understatement, and the worry of how this may affect my heart compounds it.’

‘She worries about remaining independent, and not ending up in a nursing home. On a limited income, her decisions revolve around what is most pressing, such as fixing her vehicle and drug prescriptions. The last time she was able to visit a dentist was three years ago, and she was given an estimate of over $8,500 for the work she needs.”

Continue reading this article at The Guardian, click here.


In September, 2019, PA Link to Aging and Disability Resources Service Area coordinator, Brian Long, appeared with others on a panel at a United States Senate Special Committee on Aging Hearing entitled, “Promoting Healthy Aging: Living Your Best Life Long Into Your Golden Years.” 

In his testimony, he reinforced “Partial and total tooth loss is something that a larger share of older persons deal with, particularly if they are from disadvantaged populations. We know that older seniors, women, persons of color, current smokers, and those with lower incomes and less education are more likely to have fewer or no remaining teeth. Missing teeth and gum disease are prevalent among many older people in those demographics. Earlier lifestyle choices and forgoing dental treatment, perhaps, have contributed to this, but we know that the absence of regular dental care and treatment can lead to disastrous health consequences.

“Again, affordability is a huge contributor. The issue of coverage for dental, vision and hearing services is about healthy
aging. Without access to these services, we know that older adults have a greater likelihood of:

  • Experiencing social isolation or mental health issues
  • Becoming the victim of a scam
  • Having difficulty accessing transportation resources
  • Struggling to adhere to their prescription medicines
  • Encountering hazards in the home”

“Many Older Adults Lack Even Simple, Helpful Equipment” – The New York Times

“Railings, grab bars, shower chairs and other inexpensive devices can make it easier to continue living at home, but not enough older people acquire them.”

assistiive devicesCredit…Rosem Morton for The New York Times

by Paula Spahn

“In 2019, John Hancock had become so disabled after a hospitalization that he went close to a year without being able to take a bath or a shower. Using a walker, he could, with difficulty, move around the townhouse in Baltimore where he lived with his daughter and grandson. But because he felt too unsteady to climb into the tub, one of them had to help him with sponge baths.

“Then a program at Johns Hopkins called CAPABLE (Community Aging in Place — Advancing Better Living for Elders) sent a nurse, an occupational therapist and a repair person to provide some inexpensive assistive devices. ‘It made a tremendous difference in my life,’ Mr. Hancock, a retired school cook, said.

“Over several visits, the team asked about his needs and priorities and supplied a shower chair and a rubber bath mat. The repair person installed grab bars around the tub, attached a hand-held shower nozzle and added a railing next to the toilet. Mr. Hancock learned how to use it all.

“’I feel safe and I feel secure,’ he said recently. ‘I don’t have to call somebody to help me. I feel independent, and I’ve been independent all my life.’ Recovering well from a recent stroke, Mr. Hancock, now 64, can not only bathe on his own but can also cook for himself, manage stairs and go to church.”

Click here to read this article in its entirety at The New York Times.


Be sure to register for this Link-sponsored Webinar:

May 6, 2021 @ 11:00 am – “Is Assistive Technology just a device?” | Shelly Houser, presenter (Register in advance for this webinar: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_VwCzY-5-SN2j6GtFNokISA. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.)

This is a FREE webinar you’ll not want to miss: register now, you’ll gain a whole new perspective on independence and inclusion.

S

When: May 6, 2021 11:00 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Topic: WEBINAR: Is Assistive Technology just a device?

Register in advance for this webinar:
https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_VwCzY-5-SN2j6GtFNokISA

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

“2 women are ‘boommates,’ educating others about sharing homes later in life” – Arizona Daily Star

boom mates“Deb Knox, left, shows Sharon Kha her choices as she prepares their lunch, April 6, 2021. The two came together four years ago when Kha needed help living in her home and Knox needed to get out of mortgage.” – Kelly Presnell / Arizona Daily Star

by Carmen Duarte

“Five years ago, Sharon Kha knew her living situation needed to change.

“She needed help because her Parkinson’s disease was advancing. She was diagnosed in 2003 with the brain disorder that leads to shaking, stiffness and difficulty with walking, balance and coordination.

“’I knew that I could no longer live alone, but I wasn’t ready to move into assisted living,’ recalled Kha, 77.

“’I needed someone to cook my evening meal and someone to live in my house who could respond if I fell,’ said the former broadcast journalist and retired associate vice president for University of Arizona Communications who also served as assistant to the UA president. She retired in 2005.

“A friend mentioned Deb Knox, 76, a self-employed businesswoman who is a writing coach for those interested in writing memoirs and autobiographies. Knox moved from New England to Tucson 20 years ago. She wanted to downsize and sell her midtown condo to get out from under a mortgage.

“Kha and Knox talked on the phone about five times, and their personalities clicked, said Kha.”

Read this article in its entirety at the Arizona Daily Star, click here.

PA Link Service Area 13 YouTube series interview: Pat Lally

Earlier this month, the Pennsylvania Link to Aging and Disability Resources Service Area 13 launched its YouTube channel.

One facet of the initiative was to highlight and introduce Service Area 13 partner entities to educate viewers to the array of services and programs available for persons in Berks, Lancaster and Lebanon Counties.

“Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRC) are a nationwide effort to take a seamless approach in the way we assist seniors and adults with disabilities who need help with activities of daily living. The ADRC in Pennsylvania is known as the Link.

“How can the Link assist you and/or your family?

    • Easily connect you to local services/supports through any Link partner agency
    • Explore existing options to ensure a secure plan for independence
    • Assist consumers with applications to determine funding eligibility
    • Help consumers remain or return to their community because of a disability, an illness or accident, or to transition from an institution back to the community

“There is no charge for information and assistance provided by any Link or Link partner agency.”

Pat Lally

The first partner interview was conducted yesterday. Link project interviewer, Margie Pizarro, chatted with Pat Lally, Program Manager of the Pennsylvania Link to Aging and Disability Resources about the Aging and Disability Resource Center. Click here to see that interview.


If you are a Link partner agency/organization and would like to be a featured interview in this series, let us know.

Call or text: 717.380.9714 or email blllink@mail.com to get on the schedule.

Link Service Area 13 partners launch YouTube channel.

youtube channelWe’ve been announcing this project for several months at the separate Link cross-training meetings — now the Pennsylvania Link to Aging and Disability Resources | Service Area 13 YouTube channel has launched.

You can access it here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZwmzU3Q5WW8SZK4COihQMA

Margie Pizarro will be interviewing Service Area 13 Link partner agencies to learn more about their services and programs in 15 minute ZOOM interviews. Those interviews will be posted at the Link Service Area 13 YouTube channel for everyone to view and share.

If you are a Link partner agency/organization and would like to be a featured interview in this series, let us know.

Call or text: 717.380.9714 or email blllink@mail.com to get on the schedule.

“Woman With Developmental Disability Among Victims In Boulder Shooting” – Disability Scoop

victim-composite-10

(Top row, from left) Tralona Bartkowiak, 49; Kevin Mahoney, 61; Denny Stong, 20; Jody Waters, 65; Teri Leiker, 51; (Bottom row, from left) Officer Eric Talley, 51; Suzanne Fountain, 59; Rikki Olds, 25; Lynn Murray, 62; Neven Stanisic, 23. (Photos courtesy of friends and family)

by Kyle Fredrickson, The Denver Post

DENVER — “The University of Colorado’s Golden Buffalo Marching Band gathers every Friday night before home football games to rally fan support in the heart of Boulder.

“Nobody loved the Pearl Street Stampede quite so much as Teri Leiker.

“’She was there even before we started gathering, which is half-an-hour before the stampede started,’ CU marching band director Matt Dockendorf said. ‘She was just a staple. She was kind of a personal cheerleader for the band.’

“Leiker, 51, was a longtime King Soopers employee who was shot and killed along with 9 others Monday at the Table Mesa Drive location in Boulder. She was also a member of Boulder’s ‘intellectual and developmental disabilities community,’ according to a statement from Special Olympics Colorado.”

Read the entire article at Disability Scoop, click here.


“Boulder shooting victims: Identifying the 10 lives lost” The Denver Post