Monday, April 2, 2018

Clinton County Public Transit Route Deviation Trainings

Clinton County Public Transit Route Deviation Training - Presented by the Clinton County Planning Department

On May 1, 2018, Clinton County Public Transit will change its Paratransit policy, essentially eliminating door-to-door transportation for people with disabilities within the City of Plattsburgh. CCPT will shift instead to route deviation.

The Clinton County Planning Department and CCPT will hold a series of trainings to orient riders to the new system. Dates and times are below:

Presented by the Clinton County Planning Department
Clinton County Government Center
137 Margaret Street
Plattsburgh, NY 12901

Scheduled trainings:

Travel training will consist of a 20 minute presentation on the new bus schedule and how Route Deviation works, followed by an opportunity to ride the bus and see Route Deviation in action.

If you wish to attend, call 518-561-1452. If you can’t attend but would like more information and opportunity for input, call NCCI at 518-563-9058.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Stephen Hawking, 1942-2018

As you may have seen in the news this week, Stephen Hawking, arguably the most famous and admired theoretical physicist in the world, died Tuesday.

Professionally, he is known as a physicist comparable to Albert Einstein. He held the same Mathematics chair at the University of Cambridge as Sir Isaac Newton. He was known especially for ground breaking theories about black holes and the nature of time and space. And in 1988 he published a best-selling book about these subjects, A Brief History of Time. These achievements alone would have warranted coverage of Hawking’s death on the evening news and the top of our internet news feeds.

The reason we in the disability community have taken such note of Stephen Hawking’s passing is that he was also one of the most famous disabled people in the world. Hawking was diagnosed with ALS, (known as motor neuron disease in the United Kingdom), when he was still an undergraduate. He was told he had just a few years to live, but he lived to the age of 76. For much of his life and professional career, he was almost completely paralyzed, and used an electric wheelchair and speech synthesizer he controlled with tiny head movements. For decades, his wheelchair and synthesizer voice became iconic, both in his professional field and in popular culture. (See the clips below of some of Prof. Hawking’s appearances on TV shows).

Already there is some discussion about how Prof. Hawking’s death and life is being covered. Is there too much emphasis on his disability, or not enough? Was his disability a tragic impediment he overcame, or an important part of the man he became? Was he a disability advocate, or just a renowned physicist who just happened to have a disability?

Fortunately, since tackling deep questions was Prof. Hawking’s speciality, he would probably be happy to see us wrestle with what his life meant to all of us.

Here are some articles with more information and perspective on Stephen Hawking and the impact of his life:

Ian Sample, The Guardian - March 14, 2018

BBC - March 14, 2018

Do You Actually Know Why Stephen Hawking Was Famous?
Tanya Basu, Daily Beast - March 14, 2018

James Gallagher, BBC - March 14, 2018

Alex Barasch, Slate - March 14, 2018

Stephen Hawking, United Nations Human Development Report - 2018

Alia E. Dastagir, USA Today - March 14, 2018

Stephen Hawking, Wheelchairs, Death, and Freedom
Karen Hitzelberger, Claiming Crip - March 15, 2018

Saturday, March 10, 2018

By The Numbers: NCCI Services 2016 / 2017

The main goal of providing services at NCCI is to assist individuals with disabilities, and others dealing with disability issues. Each person we work with has an individual story, and each person who achieves or maintains their independence is a win, for them and for all of us.

Once in awhile though, it's useful to take a step back and look at what all of our services throughout the year look like. Exactly who are we serving? Which of our services are the most in demand? What kind of impact are we having in the North Country community?

Have a look ...

Note: These figures represent the number of people who received services at least once during the past full October-September year. Most of these people received services multiple times, though each is counted here only once.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Winter Paralympics

The 12th Winter Paralympic Games will take place in PeyongChang, South Korea, March 9-18, 2018. The games will start with Opening Ceremonies on Friday the 9th, and continue over the next 9 days. 550 disabled athletes from 49 countries will compete in six events:

Alpine skiing
Cross-country skiing
Ice sledge hockey
Wheelchair curling

Paralympic Games are the pinnacle of competitive sports for people with disabilities. They run concurrently with both the Winter and Summer Olympic Games every four years, usually about two weeks after and at the same location and using the same facilities.

PeyongChang 2018 Paralympic Games logoSimilar to the Olympics themselves, the Paralympics are exciting, inspiring, informative ... and occasionally controversial. One of the aims of the Paralympics is to show the world what people with various disabilities can do in competitive athletics, with the right adaptations and determination. Each Paralympics fosters high hopes for further transforming attitudes towards people with disabilities in general throughout the world.

At the same time, while the disability community typically enjoys and celebrates the Paralympics as a showcase for disability sports and disabled athletes, there is an undercurrent of concern about exactly what messages about disability are received by the viewing public. Some are concerned that showcasing Paralympians as examples of disability achievement sends a distorted message, that disabled people can literally do anything if given the chance. While this is in a sense true, most disabled people have complex needs and face barriers in society that make simple independent living a genuine challenge.

Also, in recent years there has been some debate within disability sports about how disabled athletes are qualified and categorized based on their precise impairments. Some excellent athletes are always left out because of minute deviations in their actual disabilities, and efforts to match people evenly and fairly can be messy.

On the positive side, broadcasters have steadily increased the number of hours of Paralympic coverage in recent years. NBC will air over 250 hours of the 2018 Winter Paralympics, which is double the coverage of the last Winter Paralympics in Sochi, Russia. And again, similar to all the Olympics themselves, the Paralympics tends to transcend it’s controversies, reservations, and social critiques ... no matter how valid ... as the sheer spectacle and fun takes over.

Here are some links to help you enjoy the 2018 Winter Paralympics:

2018 Paralympics - Wikipedia

Monday, February 26, 2018

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Work Incentives Workshop

Presenter: Norman L. Karp, Certified Benefits Specialist

When: Wednesday April 18th and 25th, 10:30am - 12 Noon.


North Country Center for Independence
80 Sharron Ave
Plattsburgh, NY 12901 

For more information or to register contact Norman Karp at: 
Phone: (518) 563-9058, ext. 110 or (518) 354-0198 

Seats are limited, so reserve your spot today!!!

Are you (or someone you know) receiving Social Security disability benefits and interested in exploring your work options?

Do you have questions about work like these ...

• Can I work and still keep my Social Security benefits? 
• Can I work and keep my healthcare benefits?
• Who can help me understand how working will affect my benefits? 

What are the advantages of you going back to work?

• More money! More money! More money!
• Becoming more self-sufficient
• Meeting new people

Social Security makes this possible with work incentives, such as:

• Impairment Related Work Expenses or Blind Work Expenses
• Plan to Achieve Self Support (PASS Plan)
• Student Earned Income Exclusions
• Continued Medicaid Coverage (1619 B)
• Trial Work Period Months and Substantial Gainful Activity 
• Expedited Reinstatement
• Extended Period of Eligibility and Extended Medicare Coverage

So, if you or someone you know wants to work but isn’t sure how to get started, this Work Incentives Workshop is the place to be!!!

Sunday, February 25, 2018

New Medicare Cards

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that they will begin mailing new Medicare cards to all people with Medicare in the near future.

Sample image of new Medicare cards
Instead of a Social Security Number, the new card will have a Medicare Number that’s unique to each person with Medicare. The new card will help protect identities and keep personal information more secure. Medicare coverage and benefits will stay the same.

Medicare will automatically mail new cards at no cost to the address on file at Social Security. So if you are on Medicare, it’s important to make sure your address is up-to-date. An address can be updated easily by signing in to or creating a “my Social Security account”.

As beneficiaries begin to receive cards, keep in mind these 3 important tips:

1. Destroy your old Medicare card right away.

2. Use your new card. Doctors, other health care providers, and plans approved by Medicare know that Medicare is replacing the old cards. They are ready to accept your new card when you need care.

3. Beware of people contacting you about your new Medicare card and asking you for your Medicare Number, personal information, or to pay a fee for your new card. Treat your Medicare Number like you treat your Social Security or credit card numbers. Remember, Medicare will never contact you uninvited to ask for your personal information.

For more information on the new Medicare cards, click here to visit the Medicare website.

This notice comes to us from Virginia Commonwealth University’s National Training and Data Center, which coordinates information programs on disability-related benefits, including Social Security Work Incentives.

For more information on benefits applications, planning, and assistance, contact Norman Karp, Benefits Specialist at the North Country Center for Independence, 518-563-9058, Ext. 110, or send an email to

Saturday, February 17, 2018

By The Numbers: Independent Living in New York State

The flyer below is from the New York Association on Independent Living … providing an overview of disability in New York State, and the work of Independent Living Centers throughout New York. Click each graphic to see a larger version ...

What Are Independent Living Centers (ILCs)? ILCs are community-based nonprofits run by, and for, people with disabilities. We provide vital advocacy, services, and supports to individuals so that they can live fully independent, integrated lives in their community.  Why are ILCs essential?  ILCs serve individuals of all ages and with all types of disabilities. In 2016, the State’s network of Independent Living Centers provided direct services to over 100,000 people with disabilities, family members, and other non-disabled individuals.  ILCs serve any and all people with disabilities  43% physical disability 25% mental health disability 23% cognitive disability 9% sensory disability  Approximately 25% of the individuals with disabilities served by ILCs report more than one type of disability.  ILCs SAVE the state money by helping people live in the community! ILCs are incredibly cost effective, saving millions of New York State taxpayer dollars each year as a result of reducing and preventing institutionalization.  Since 2001, New York’s ILCs have prevented 31,585 individuals from being institutionalized. Assisted 5,342 individuals transition from a segregated institutional setting back to the community.  The Work of ILCs to transition and divert people with disabilities from institutional placement has saved the state more than $2 billion since 2001.  How this translates? For every State dollar invested in ILCs, ILC transition activities save the State more than $9 in institutionalization costs.  ILC funding has been stagnant for the last decade. ILC funding is not keeping pace with costs, much less inflation. ILCs have had to lay off staff — many of who have disabilities — and cut services. An additional $5 million in crucial funding would allow centers to keep providing vital services and address unmet needs — and continue to save the state money.

It’s been 27 years since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, yet people with disabilities are still falling behind in major core indicators compared to their non-disabled peers. ILCs help to address this disparity on the individual, local, and state level.  Employment New Yorkers with disabilities still face major disparities in employment compared to their non-disabled peers. 78% of working age people without disabilities are employed. 33% of working age individuals with disabilities have jobs. Only 21% of working age individuals with disabilities work full-time.  Income For New York State households that do not include working-age people with disabilities, median household income is $73,800, it is only $41,700 when a working age member of the household has a disability.  Poverty About 12% of working-age New Yorkers without disabilities live in poverty, whereas 30% of working-age New Yorkers with disabilities fall below the poverty line.  ILC services address these disparities and assist individuals to live fully independent and empowered lives.  Most frequently delivered direct services:  6,931 Vocational 6,931 Personal Assistance 8,092 Housing Assistance 8,245 Peer Counseling 17,939 Benefits Counseling 17,939 Advocacy 10,665 Independent Living Skills 8,543 Assistive Technology All ILC data from NYS Education Department, ACCES-VR; all disability status data from Cornell University.  ILCs Create Community Change! ILCs address disparities by advocating locally and with the State to remove systemic barriers, making communities more inclusive and accessible for all.  - ILCs advocate for affordable and accessible housing! Advocacy from the ILC network has led to the creation of invaluable programs that help people with disabilities live independently in their community, including the Access to Home home modification program and the Olmstead Housing Subsidy program.  - ILCs advocate for accessible transportation! All Amtrak stations north of Albany are now accessible, thanks to a campaign by ILC advocates. In New York City, ILCs played a key role in the landmark decision to make 50% of all yellow taxis accessible by 2020.  - ILCs advocate to increase integrated employment options! Most recently, ILCs successfully advocated for the State’s Employment First Initiative, which makes integrated employment with appropriate supports and services a priority.  New York Association on Independent Living 155 Washington Avenue, Suite 208, Albany, NY 12210 518-465-4650 phone - 518-465-4625 fax -

Saturday, February 10, 2018

YouTube Videos Week, Day 5

This week, (February 5-9, 20188), we are sharing two disability-related YouTube videos each day. The idea is for more people to actually see these terrific videos, but also to remind everyone that YouTube is a great place to find amazing disability-related stories and ideas. These and other videos will also be added to a “Must-See Videos” playlist at the NCCI YouTube Channel.

I got 99 problems... palsy is just one | Maysoon Zayid

Pro Infirmis «Because who is perfect?»

Friday, February 9, 2018

YouTube Videos Week, Day 4

This week, (February 5-9, 20188), we are sharing two disability-related YouTube videos each day. The idea is for more people to actually see these terrific videos, but also to remind everyone that YouTube is a great place to find amazing disability-related stories and ideas. These and other videos will also be added to a “Must-See Videos” playlist at the NCCI YouTube Channel.

Able Privilege, Re-Conceptualizing Disability: Alan Larson at TEDxSFA

Steve Silberman: The forgotten history of autism

Thursday, February 8, 2018

YouTube Videos Week, Day 3

This week, (February 5-9, 20188), we are sharing two disability-related YouTube videos each day. The idea is for more people to actually see these terrific videos, but also to remind everyone that YouTube is a great place to find amazing disability-related stories and ideas. These and other videos will also be added to a “Must-See Videos” playlist at the NCCI YouTube Channel.

Stare at Shannon - Episode 10 - Supermarket Edition

My Gimpy Life - Series Trailer

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

YouTube Videos Week, Day 2

This week, (February 5-9, 20188), we are sharing two disability-related YouTube videos each day. The idea is for more people to actually see these terrific videos, but also to remind everyone that YouTube is a great place to find amazing disability-related stories and ideas. These and other videos will also be added to a “Must-See Videos” playlist at the NCCI YouTube Channel.

Our fight for disability rights and why we're not done yet | Judith Heumann | TEDxMidAtlantic

2016 ASAN Gala: Ari Ne'eman

Monday, February 5, 2018

YouTube Videos Week, Day 1

This week, (February 5-9, 20188), we are sharing two disability-related YouTube videos each day. The idea is for more people to actually see these terrific videos, but also to remind everyone that YouTube is a great place to find amazing disability-related stories and ideas. These and other videos will also be added to a “Must-See Videos” playlist at the NCCI YouTube Channel.

Rebelwheels NYC Channel Trailer | #DisabledYouTuber

Chronic Pain/Illness: When to push and when to rest... [CC]

Monday, January 29, 2018

NYAIL NYS Budget Notes

ACTION ALERT in bold white letters on a dark red background

Each January, the Governor of New York proposes a budget for the state, with full details on program and department funding, as well as any policy proposals that would have an impact on state spending for the new year. This "Governor's Budget" is only a proposal. None of it is enacted until the State Assembly and Senate pass it. And while what is eventually passed usually looks something like the original budget proposal, at least in broad terms, many details of the final budget can be different. Cuts can be restored or shifted. New ideas can be adopted, altered, or eliminated. Some departments and programs will get less that what the Governor may have proposed, some more.

In other words, the Governor's proposed budget is never a "done deal" on the day of it's announcement. There is time for negotiations, and for advocates like those of us concerned with disability issues to make our arguments for how we feel state resources should be used and allocated.

Logo of the New York Association on Independent LivingThe following is an initial look at Governor Cuomo's proposed 2018 budget, highlighting aspects that are relevant to people with disabilities in the State of New York. The analysis is provided by the New York Association on Independent Living:

Given that New York State has a budget deficit of over $4 billion, all expectations were that this would be a difficult budget year. The following is an initial overview of relevant proposals in the proposed Executive Budget.

Funding for Independent Living Centers:

The proposed budget keeps IL level funded for yet another year. While this is very disappointing, given the budget climate, it is not a surprise. We will turn our advocacy to the legislature for support for an increase in the Senate and Assembly budgets.

Health / Medicaid:

The proposed Executive Budget includes a number of proposals designed to limit future enrollment in Medicaid Managed Long Term Care (MLTC). These proposals include:
  • New applicants must have a UAS score 9+ and require community based LTSS for more than 120 consecutive days. Given that the nursing home level of care is a UAS score of 5, this is a very high bar.
  • Limits participants switching MLTC plans to once a year
  • Carves out nursing homes from MLTC
  • Carves out non-emergency transportation from MLTC
  • Bans MLTC plans from marketing their program.
Additional Medicaid proposals include:
  • Eliminate spousal refusal
  • Reduce resources that a community spouse can maintain to $24,180
  • Commissions study of home care availability in rural areas. Based on assessment, made $3 million, minus costs of analysis, to go toward Medicaid rate increases for fee for service as well as NHTD and TBI Waivers.
  • Increases number of Assisted Living Program (ALP) beds
- Requires background checks for care managers interacting with children or adults with developmental disabilities
- Raises the cap on physical therapy (PT) visits from 20 to 40, but leaves 20 limit cap on occupational therapy and speech therapy
- Eliminates prescriber prevails


Long Term Care Ombudsman Program (LTCOP) is level funded at $1.1 million.


- Level funds Access to Home at $1 million
- Re-appropriates funds for Access to Home for Veterans
- Does not include a Visitability Tax Credit


The budget includes proposals for early voting and same day voter registration

Additional items

- Includes a commitment to launch a peer support initiative for adult home residents to help transition to the community
- Funds 200 new supported housing beds

We will continue to review the budget for relevant proposals as we begin to develop NYAIL’s Budget response. Please let me know if you identify additional proposals in the budget on which we may want to respond.

Meghan Parker
Director of Advocacy
New York Association on Independent Living

The North Country Center for Independence will be joining NYAIL and the other independent living centers in New York in a Legislative Day in Albany, Monday, February 12, 2018. This will be our first organized opportunity to tell our state legislators, and the Governor, what our concerns are, and proposed better ways to support New Yorkers with disabilities. Click here for more details on the NYAIL Legislative Day.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Staff Perspective: A New Understanding

By Jenna Drollette, CDPAP Assistant

For most of my life I have had numerous encounters with people who are “differently abled.” I've seen many of their struggles. But I have never experienced them first hand. I have always experienced them by observing and assisting. Which allowed me to have compassion and empathy but limited my ability to have a full understanding of how they view the world as someone who is distinctive. This only partially prepared me for today's undertaking. Or so I thought. My friend Jacky, who lives her daily life in the “differently abled” community, and I decided to conduct an experiment to help me see things from her perspective.

I started the day with a struggle right off. The sidewalks had a layer of snow on them that was quite difficult to propel a wheelchair through. My hands were cold, and it took quite a bit of my strength, but I pushed through it. A few times during the day people that knew about this project asked me; why I chose the day after a snowstorm to do this, or why didn't I wait until the spring. Honestly, I did have a choice. I could have waited for a nicer day. But I simply told them that someone who is “differently abled” doesn't have the choice. I wanted to get the full experience, no matter what the obstacle may be.

3 dimensional stick figure in a wheelchair at the bottom of a flight of stairs
Once we arrived at the Angell College Center (ACC) from Macdonough Hall, we headed to get breakfast. One of the first things I noticed, while we waited in line to order our food, was the way people reacted around us. Some would stare in what seemed like wonder, and some looked and then looked away or put their head down and avoided looking again. When Jacky and I first met, when she was a freshman, I had noticed this reaction in people. As the semesters passed the looks seemed to dissipate. Was it because they eventually got comfortable with her there? Maybe. Today was very similar to then. A new person that is different. Should we look? Should we avoid because she is visibly different? Only people who recognized me, and people I had spoken to before approached me and asked questions.

The snow on the sidewalk and the strange looks were just some challenges I faced throughout the day. The doors I came upon seemed to be problematic for me as well. I have a new appreciation for the automatic/power doors that allow for easier access into a building. Unfortunately, not all the doors had buttons and not all the buttons to open the doors worked. When I came upon the first power door with a dead button, at Kehoe, I was kind of shocked and a bit angry at the fact that one of the few accessible entrances was not accessible. I struggled to open a heavy door without the aid of my body weight to pull. Then I struggled to hold the door with one hand and maneuver my wheelchair into the doorway. Luckily, a young man came over and did his best to hold the door for Jacky and I. That young man was the first stranger to offer help when there was an obvious struggle.

For the next few hours I was around people who I have spoken to before, or have seen before. Most were Jacky's classmates, and know I am with Jacky often. So my next undertaking was my lack of comfort. As I said earlier, I was trying to get the full experience. So I had done my best to not use my legs to aid me in any way. I would move my feet slightly on the foot rests, but I didn't stand up or cross my legs like I usually do for comfort. Sitting in one position for so many hours was becoming slightly painful. All I allowed myself to do was use my arms to lift my bottom off the seat to a different spot. But there was really nowhere to move to ease my discomfort. For me, this was a challenge. Being able bodied, when my body gets uncomfortable or in pain, I can easily change position or stretch to feel better. But, again, to get everything from this experience, I endured it.

I found myself experiencing an array of emotions throughout the day. I started the day with a fierce determination, even when I was faced with the difficult task of pushing myself through the snow. After coming across more people, experienced confusion and then taken aback by their reaction to me. Coming to the dead door button, I was shocked, defeated, and angry that this is the reality for many who are “differently abled.” I was happy and relieved to find that there were some people who would provide assistance, but was disappointed that the number was so few. The majority of people would just pass by, when they witness me struggling. At the end of the day I was still determined, but I was exhausted too.

Overall, I found that throughout my experiences, and with my awareness of some of the struggles Jacky faces, I was given a deeper sense on how much I don’t understand. I have come to see that I have taken my ableness for granted, in some sense. In reflection, I have come to realize that a day in a wheelchair, for me, is just that. I am an able bodied person, and will only be able to get the full experience if I am not. But I now possess a deeper knowledge of this life. I have a grown admiration for the life of a person who is “differently abled.” Through this experience, I found that I am now changed. I have a new view on the world, and I am humbled by it. These people face many struggles, but they aren’t defined by them. People are not one dimensional beings, we are made up of multiple identities and experiences. A physical aid does not define a person, but is just one facet of a multitude of their identities.