Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate with family and friends and to think about all we are thankful for.  A lot has changed since March 2020 and our celebrations and holidays may not look the same as in years past. But, as we look back on 2021, we have a lot to be thankful for.  We want to share a bit of what makes all of us here at DLC thankful:


Bobby’s New and Happy Home

 

Man in Red Sox sweater and hat in front of table surrounded by four family members smilingBobby is a 69 year old man who is very connected to his loving family. He has an intellectual disability and has been living in group homes for much of his adult life. After spending some time in a rehabilitation facility, Bobby was placed in a medical group home far from his family despite multiple requests by his siblings to keep him close to home. In addition to being far away, Bobby’s well-being quickly declined. He stopped talking, was losing physical skills, and was emotionally disconnected. His family was very concerned and despite multiple calls to facility staff and the Department of Developmental Services (DDS), nothing was done to improve his situation. Bobby’s family reached out to DLC and we took his case. Unfortunately, Bobby then developed additional medical conditions and was hospitalized and then put into a short-term rehabilitation facility. DLC advocated for Bobby, and attended meetings with the vendors and DDS. Soon thereafter, a placement was found for him in a beautiful group home 5 minutes away from his family. Bobby moved into his new home in time to celebrate his birthday with his family. Bobby and his family are so pleased that he is close and doing so well in his new home.


“Aiko’s” Success At Getting A Standing Wheelchair

 

Heart-shaped balloons flying out of windowAt 26, “Aiko” works full-time, travels, and enjoys cooking. She is also a wheelchair user following a recent accident. Aiko had a manual wheelchair but was struggling with moving around and maintaining her independence. She had to move in with her parents and rely on her mother for assistance with cooking, cleaning, and other activities of daily living that she could not participate in without a wheelchair that would allow her to stand. On top of that, sitting in the wheelchair all day was making it impossible for a recent laceration to heal due to the constant pressure on the wound.  Aiko had a device that allowed her to change positions, but it was clunky, she needed help to get into it, and it was not practical for her lifestyle, which includes her full-time job. Aiko knew she would be able to better move around with a standing wheelchair and it would give her more freedom. She applied for the device but was denied by MassHealth. Aiko contacted DLC and DLC’s attorneys immediately began working on appealing the denial. After months of waiting, a hearing, another denial, (another accident with an inadequate power wheelchair that Aiko trialed on her own), and a request for a rehearing, Aiko’s request for a standing wheelchair was finally approved by the Assistant Secretary for MassHealth without the hearing based on the letter requesting the rehearing that DLC prepared.  Aiko is incredibly excited for the new experiences and opportunities the standing wheelchair will open for her. She returned to living independently in her own apartment shortly after receiving the standing wheelchair.


Residents with Print Disabilities Can Independently Vote By Mail

 

Ballot box with person casting vote on blank voting slipMany voters with disabilities experience barriers to voting privately and independently and require third part assistance. The lack of accessibility in voting programs became abundantly clear with the COVID-19 pandemic and remote voting. This year, DLC has continued to work with legislators to update proposed voting laws to require accommodations that provide accessible electronic access to vote by mail. DLC has been working with voters and Massachusetts cities and towns to secure accessible remote voting programs, including entering into a settlement agreement with the City of Boston. For the recent November 2021 election, we were very excited that accessible electronic vote by mail was available in Boston, Worcester, Cambridge, Watertown, Quincy, and West Springfield as an accommodation to allow voters with disabilities who cannot effectively access a standard print ballot an equal opportunity to vote independently and in private.


The Advice and Information We Give Makes a Difference

 

Wooden singpost with "help, support, advice, guidance" arrows against blue sky.With only about 20 advocates to cover all the issues for people with disabilities in the Commonwealth, we constantly have to make really difficult decisions about how we devote our limited resources. We are thankful that many times, even if we cannot represent someone, the information, advice and guidance we can give is helpful:

“Thank you so much for your compassion and support! I truly appreciate the light you have brought to my dark!”

“With my multiple disabilities and my tendinitis I could not have written this letter without you. I am very much aware that you could be working in another job and making a whole lot more money … so I hope it gives you some reward to know that even though you could not take my case on you helped me so much.”


 

Thank you for all your support over this past year. We hope you have a lovely Thanksgiving Day.

– From all of us at DLC

 

 

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