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         January 2021
 
 
 
 
Give Me Five:

Five things you need to know
 
 
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Check out ARI's COVID-19 Resource Page for updated info & resources!
 
 
 
 
 
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1.) Inmates with disabilities in MD State Prisons win discrimination lawsuit

Maryland has settled with inmates with disabilities to the tune of a $360,000 settlement. The 6 plaintiffs who filed the federal lawsuit said the state prison system ignored their rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act and denied them crucial accommodations. Maryland’s Board of Public Works approved the settlement in December 2020.

The settlement is a real victory for prison inmates with disabilities. 
“When you’re put in jail, you lose almost all of your civil liberties,” said Honick, the plaintiffs' lawyer, “but what you’re not supposed to lose is your human dignity.” 
Most of the plaintiffs have been released from prison since the lawsuit was filed in October 2019, according to state records.

A spokesperson for the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services stated that their department now has an ADA coordinator and has made big changes at Dorsey Run Correctional Facility, a Jessup prison which appears frequently in the lawsuit. "The Department is currently undergoing a complete Department-wide ADA compliance audit," the statement said. "... The ultimate long-term goal is to use this information to create a barrier-free environment for detainees, inmates, visitors and non-custody staff."

But this isn't the first time the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services has been accused of disability-based discrimination. In June 2019 the department settled for $1.4 million in a lawsuit filed on behalf of vision-impaired inmates. The lawsuit claimed that vision-impaired inmates were forced to rely on other inmates for basic activities, such as reading mail - and this vulnerability placed them at increased risk of abuse. 

Let's hope Maryland's Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services learns its lesson this time - discrimination doesn't pay off. We will be watching.
 
 
 
 
 
A picture of a group of youth with disabilities posing in the MD State Legislature Building with the caption saying 'Maryland Youth Leadership Forum impacted me by showing me how to live independently and showing that I am a leader for my rights.' - Noah, 2020 MDYF Delegate"2.) Upcoming Events
Check out these upcoming events brought to you by and with our local partners. ARI's biweekly Wednesday info sessions will resume on January 27th. Follow us now on Facebook to stay up-to-date on everything we're doing! 

(I AM) live every Monday from 2-3pm - Presented by Maryland's Centers for Independent Living Have you missed us? Tune in next week to join Maryland's unprecedented community of disability advocates! This week, an advocate with a rare - and oftentimes fatal - disease shared her reasons for opposing physician-assisted suicide. Check out I AM's YouTube for a sneak peek at what you can expect when you join us at our next session on January 25th! Don't forget to "Like" and "Follow" our Facebook page to receive notifications for future sessions. 

Monday, January 25th on I AM: "Patti Dorn, a professional in Insurance Regulation from the Maryland Insurance Administration, will share information about life insurance: what it covers, doesn’t cover and the importance of having it. Anna Moretti, a nurse and attorney from Montgomery Hospice, will provide a greater understanding of Advance Directives and why you may want to consider making your end of life preferences known. Join us for these important but challenging conversations. Questions encouraged!" Register now.

"Live & Thrive" Support Group on Friday, January 15th from 2-3pm. Are you a person with a disability? Do you live in a nursing facility or in the community? Have you felt isolated during the pandemic? Do you want to make new friends and learn about your
communities resources? Zoom'n the conversation with nursing facility residents
and people with disabilities living in the community! For the zoom link and information on obtaining technology to join meetings please contact Crystal Brockington with The IMAGE Center at 443-219-7407 or Shannon Minnick with Independence Now at 240-638-0070.

"Meditation and Tips for Relaxation, with Staci Jones" on Wednesday, January 27th from 1-2pm. Could you use a little light in your life these winter days?  Join ARI for a 30-minute meditation session, led by Staci Jones.  Meditation can assist with: increasing calmness and physical relaxation; improving psychological balance, and enhancing overall health and well-being. For the remainder of the session, we'll discuss things that can bring you joy and help you to relax. Register in advance.

"Accessible Resources for Independence (ARI): Our Programs, Staff, and Vision for Independent Living" on Wednesday, February 10th from 1-2pm. Come one, come all! On 2/10, we invite anybody and everybody to virtually join ARI as we explain our vision of independence for Anne Arundel and Howard County residents with disabilities, and how our programs help to achieve that. Learn from our leadership about ARI's role in the history of Centers for Independent Living nationwide. Our Program Managers will present on their respective programs, detailing exactly how individuals with disabilities in these 2 counties can receive our various services. Questions are encouraged! Register in advance.

Remote Conference Captioning (RCC) for ARI's Biweekly Zoom events is provided courtesy of Maryland Relay. This RCC is provided in English. For additional information or to request accommodations other than English-language RCC for such events, please contact Office Manager Nicole Griffith at ngriffith@arinow.org or (443) 713-3918.

Partner Events:
 
 
 
 
 
abstract illustration of fingerprint in shades from beige to black3.) Free PPE and Safety Supplies

Yes, COVID-19 is still infecting our communities.

Yes, vaccines are now being administered to priority populations - there is hope for a return to normalcy.

Yes, we must keep following public health precautions to protect our communities.

But worry not! ARI's gigantic stockpile of cloth masks, disinfectant wipes, toilet paper, and hand sanitizer is ready to arrive on your doorstep.

You read that right - ARI is mailing out safety supplies to Anne Arundel and Howard County residents with disabilities for free! Cloth masks, hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, toilet paper rolls - pick all or some of the above, just make sure to request enough for your entire household. Here's how: Simply complete this questionnaire and we will get your care package in the mail ASAP. If you need further assistance, please contact ARI's COVID-19 Response Coordinator Audrey Sellers at asellers@arinow.org or (443) 713-3915.
 
 
 
 
 
 
brick wall with "FREE STUFF" and an arrow drawn on it in black spray paint4.) Energy Assistance through OHEP's Critical Medical Needs Program

Have you heard of the Critical Medical Needs Program (CMNP), offered through the Office of Home Energy Programs (OHEP)?
The CMNP provides rapid assistance with past-due energy bills and pending utility service shutoffs to medically vulnerable households who meet income eligibility guidelines. The Program relies on trained Navigators who identify energy customers meeting its medical and financial eligibility criteria, and then assist those customers through the CMNP application process. ARI has its own in-house Navigator for this program, which means you have a direct path to energy assistance if you qualify. For more information or assistance, please contact Audrey Sellers, ARI's COVID-19 Response Coordinator, at asellers@arinow.org or (443) 713-3915.
 
 
 
 
 
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5.) Lawmakers Introduce Federal Legislation To Prevent Organ Transplant Discrimination

Federal legislation - the "Charlotte Woodward Organ Transplant Discrimination Prevention Act" -  has finally been introduced to uphold the rights of qualified organ transplant candidates with disabilities! Introduced by Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA) and Katie Porter (D-CA), this Act prohibits discrimination against individuals based on their disability when seeking an organ transplant. State-level legislation enforcing non-discrimination policies for organ transplants has passed in 13 states, including Maryland. This federal legislation would reinforce rights protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, ending organ transplant discrimination across the country.
 
If passed, the Charlotte Woodward Organ Transplant Discrimination Prevention Act will mandate that a person’s capacity to comply with post-transplant treatment requirements is not considered a significant reason to deny them a transplant procedure. Moreover, this bill requires that health care providers make policies, practices and procedures accessible to qualified recipients with disabilities. The bill is named for Charlotte Woodward, an advocate with Down syndrome who received a life-saving heart transplant almost 9 years ago. Since then, she has advocated tirelessly to ensure others with Down syndrome and other disabilities have the same access to transplants. You too can advocate for equal access to transplants. Check out this advocacy toolkit assembled by the National Down Syndrome Society to get started.
 
 
 
  
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