The United Spinal family consists of a variety of programs sharing in one very important goal: to empower people with spinal cord injuries and disorders (SCI/D) to live with greater independence and greater opportunity. Hit the streets with United Spinal’s programs to see what we’re accomplishing on the ground level to help people with SCI/D across the good ol’ USA.
Wheelchair Medic completed over 80 road calls this past month to individual homes and clinics in the New York tri-state area, servicing wheelchairs and equipment to keep people moving.
VetsFirst continued working with the US International Council on Disabilities and other members of the disability and veterans communities to seek ratification of the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD). The CRPD would improve access for disabled veterans and other Americans with disabilities that live, work, or travel abroad. The treaty is critical to maintaining America’s leadership role on disability rights and to eliminating disability discrimination throughout the world.
VetsFirst also spent three days on Capitol Hill meeting with 11 members of Congress and committee staff for the House and Senate Committees of Veterans’ Affairs regarding its public policy priorities for 2013.
UsersFirst launched its new Mobile Registration Form to rally wheelchair users and disability advocates in the fight to challenge disability policies and improve access to mobility equipment.
UsersFirst worked closely with numerous NSCIA member chapters, including IL, MI, TN, and KC, to sharpen their grassroots advocacy efforts.
UserFirst also helped launch the “Wheelchair User Experience” at the 29th International Seating Symposium–ISS (wheelchair tech conference) in Nashville, TN. This event marked the first time that the expo floor at ISS was open to the public rather than just professionals, giving wheelchair consumers the opportunity to check out the latest products and services from over 100 exhibitors that will enhance their mobility and independence.
Spinal Cord Central (SCC) Information Specialists resolved over 340 disability and member-related inquiries. Information Specialists also fielded a call seeking SCI rehab options for the family of a young man living with high quadriplegia and using mechanical ventilation. With staff intervention, the family was connected directly to the rehab program director of one of our member hospitals, who helped smooth the pathways to the man’s admission for inpatient rehab, rather than direct placement into a nursing home setting with no intervening SCI rehab.
SCC also shipped 135 New Beginning backpacks to hospital members and other new injury cases. These backpacks serve to help people with SCI/D find quality healthcare and resources; employment opportunities and education; choose the proper adaptive equipment and home modifications; locate peer support groups; and find a new beginning.
United Spinal joined the fight to restore funding promised for New York State spinal cord injury research and potentially a cure. State government has been swiping up these dollars earmarked for research, putting them into a “general” spending fund to be used however it wants. So we’re calling on people to take action now to stop this greedy cash-grabbing.
We are also advocating in Illinois to prevent a state law that woud require prior auhorization for all wheelchair repairs and to protect access to the right wheelchairs to meet the needs of each person.
Our Legal Affairs department discussed a NYC bill to make taxis accessible with Council Speaker’s Chief of Staff & Transportation Committee Counsel. A hearing is scheduled on the bill for April. It continued working to ensure polling places are accessible to all. Staff also met with Upper West Side Business Improvement District (BID) regarding “drive-by” lawsuits in which a single plaintiff has sued 120 locations seeking ADA compliance. Legal Affairs is attempting to work with the BID and merchants to improve accessibility and discourage these types of suits.
Accessibility-Services trained over 400 design professionals, builders/contractors and code enforcement officials in Maryland, Florida, Pennsylvania, and New York on state and federal accessibility requirements. It also completed 16 plan reviews and 51 site inspections––including a new NFL football stadium and a National Museum of Natural History––to ensure accessibility standards.
See you next month!