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Hoosiers with Disabilities Feel Effects of Sequestration, Education

Image: accessABILITY - Center for Independent Living is one of several independent living centers across Indiana helping connect people with disabilities with resources. Logo courtesy accessABILITY
Image: accessABILITY - Center for Independent Living is one of several independent living centers across Indiana helping connect people with disabilities with resources. Logo courtesy accessABILITY
March 18, 2013

INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana's Independent Living Centers are already seeing negative effects of the federal sequestration on people with disabilities, according to Melissa Madill, the executive director of "accessABILITY" - Center for Independent Living in Indianapolis.

"In vocational rehabilitation - a program that assists folks with disabilities in getting employment - they've had a 5.1 percent cut, across the board," she specified. "It is going to impact the availability of services for people. Unfortunately, it really impacts the people who are in the greatest need."

Madill noted that a lack of housing for people with disabilities is the number-one reason clients call, followed by transportation and jobs.

The independent living center director said educating the general public - adults and kids alike - about people with disabilities and their issues would help prevent some tough situations.

"There's a lot of bullying anyway and kids with disabilities who look different or sound different, or behave differently, are often the targets of bullying and abuse," she declared.

Madill said her organization goes into schools to teach youngsters about disabilities, differences and acceptance. They also emphasize that using words like "crippled" and "retarded" is not acceptable.

She said a scary reality for people with physical and developmental disabilities is the possibility of being abused.

Many with disabilities have caregivers who help with daily activities. Madill said her organization has started providing classes for those with disabilities.

"Building safe and healthy relationships, keeping their bodies safe," she emphasized. "Understanding what 'no' really means and, you know, 'good touch - bad touch.' How do you possibly know what that means when somebody touches your body in all those places daily, caring for it?"

Find more information about Independent Living Centers from the Indiana Council on Independent Living at icoil.org.

More information is also at abilityindiana.org.

Leigh DeNoon, Public News Service - IN