graphic of a chalkboard background with a collage of photos depicting people with various disabilities, genders and races and text that reads Independence, Inc. quarterly e newsletter summer 2023

Disability Pride has been described as "accepting and honoring each person’s uniqueness and seeing it as a natural and beautiful part of human diversity." - American Bar Association website - Celebrating Disability Pride Month

July is Disability Pride Month, Marking the Signing of the ADA. What does Disability Pride Mean to YOU?

One of the best descriptions of Disability Pride Month I've seen or heard in a while, came from the American Bar Association website: "Disability Pride Month celebrates disabled persons embracing their disabilities as integral parts of who they are, reclaiming visibility in public and interacting fully with their disabilities out in the open, and rejecting shame and internalized ableism. It is a time for the disability community to come together, uplift, and amplify one another’s voices and be heard. Disability pride has been described as “accepting and honoring each person’s uniqueness and seeing it as a natural and beautiful part of human diversity.” This is just one point of view. What Does Disability Pride mean to you? Learn more about Disability Pride Month and ways you can engage in advocacy efforts, celebrations and educational opportunities to help break down barriers to equity and independent living by visiting The ARC website: Why and How to Celebrate Disability Pride Month

Join our Monthly Long-COVID Support Group!

If you have had Covid-19 and have since experienced long-term, lingering, worsening or new symptoms that are affecting your physical, mental or emotional health and well-being, contact us today! Peer Support can help! Continue Reading ►

image of a female seated at a desk engaged in a zoom meeting on her laptop

Service Highlight: Getting Assistive Technology and Durable Medical Equipment into the Hands of People with Disabilities is a Vital Component of Independent Living

image of a hand written letter from a consumer, thanking Independence, Inc. for their service and assistance in helping her find a desktop low-vision magnifier and lending it through the loan bank program.  A quote from the letter states: Daniel showed us the machine. He demonstrated how to use it. We didn't know such a helpful machine existed. He said it was a donated item with no fee attached. Thank you so very much for your kindness and support to me.

Above: Independence, Inc. consumer, Martha Jean O'Tool, sent a handwritten letter of gratitude to our office following her experience with our equipment loan bank. Through our Durable Medical Equipment Loan Bank, Assistive Technology and Kansas Telecommunication Access programs, we help consumers meet their independent living goals with a variety of mobility, assistive technology and independent living products and tools that helps them live safely, informed and well-connected in the homes of their choice. We're so happy you were able to find what you needed, Martha!

Right top: Items in the Independence, Inc. Equipment Loan Bank; Middle: Kansas TAP program equipment on display; Bottom: Unknown female pictured with a desktop magnifier.

Graphic includes red, white, blue and yellow elements including a ring of stars and several wavy lines with text that reads: ADA thirty three.  Nineteen Ninety to Twenty Twenty Three. Celebrate the ADA! Americans with disabilities act.

July 26 Marks the 33rd Anniversary of the Signing of the Americans With Disabilities Act!

While much has been accomplished to remove barriers in access, rights and independence of people with disabilities, much is left to do. Barriers, including attitudinal, systemic, physical and technological, still exist that make it difficult for the disabled population to enjoy inclusion into society, employment, entertainment, recreation, education, healthcare and more.

Yes, join us in celebrating the remarkable progress and pathways the ADA has created, but also join us in continued advocacy and education to help level the playing field for all people and every body.

For more information, events and ways you can celebrate and honor the ADA, visit the ADA National Network.

Workgroup Aims to Identify Housing Concerns and Sustainable Solutions Through a Tenant Experience Survey for Renters in Douglas County

Renters make up over half of all people in Douglas County and represent a higher likelihood of experiencing housing instability and displacement. The Sexual Violence Prevention Workgroup of LiveWell Douglas County, created a comprehensive survey to hear from renters throughout the county and city, to better understand and identify key issues and unique challenges that tenants face. Results from this survey will be used as a springboard to creating housing solutions that work for everyone in our community.

If you live in Douglas County, are currently renting your home or apartment, are looking for rental housing or have lived in rental housing in the past 24 months, your response is not only welcome, but needed!

Please visit or scan the QR code below to take the survey. Survey responses are voluntary and confidential and will take approximately 15 minutes to complete.

Info graphic with a cartoon style image of a young male holding a replica of a home in his hand and pondering with a questions mark above his head. Text reads, if you are currently renting, have rented in the last 24 months, or are looking for rental housing, your response is needed!
QR code for Tenant Survey

Collaborative Effort Among Kansas Youth Services Organizations, Leads to Collective "Pathways to Partnership" Grant Application

Funding Approval Would Help Establish Kansas Youth Transition Network (KYTN) Councils to Facilitate Sustainable Systems Change for Youth With Disabilities and Create Seamless Transition Services

Independence, Inc., in collaboration with the Kansas Department of Education, Kansas Rehabilitation Services, and other community service providers, has submitted an application to the U.S Department of Education "Pathways to Partnerships" Grant.

Funding for the grant would come from the Disability Innovation Fund (DIF) Program to uphold Title 29 U.S.C chapter 16, section 705(5) of the Rehabilitation of Act in "supporting innovative activities aimed at increasing competitive integrated employment (CIE) for youth and other individuals with disabilities." [source: Rehabilitation Services Administration: Disability Innovation Fund - Pathways to Partnerships]

"Providers across the state came together to write and submit the grant proposal with the three key required partners (listed above). Evan Dean with the KU Center on Developmental Disabilities at the University of Kansas played a key role in writing the grant response and providing technical assistance" said Jill Dudley, Independence, Inc. Executive Director. "Eight other Centers for Independent Living across Kansas were also important contributors in the process".

adult female sits to the left of a student, both facing a computer screen. The adult female is pointing to something on screen.

Pictured above: Unknown adult female works with a student on job readiness and transitioning into competetive integrated employment.

If awarded the grant, Independence, Inc. and partner organizations, would develop local networks (called KYTN Councils) of youth with disabilities, their families, youth service organizations and employers to facilitate systems change focused on expanding and enhancing the transition service system in the state of Kansas, to foster more positive, meaningful and streamlined transition and employment outcomes.

The grant-funded program would serve youth and young adults with disabilities ages 10 to 24 and if awarded, will span five years and provide funding for the development of pilot transition sites across the State of Kansas supporting youth with disabilities and their families in the transition process.

Extreme Temperatures and Other Climate Factors can Wreak Havoc on an Asphalt Parking Lot! Ours is Getting a Facelift!

a parking lot is under construction awaiting a new surface
image of a portion of a parking lot that is under construction. In the forefront is a patch of grass and in the background is a building. A section of yellow caution tape is pictured partially surrounding the construction area.
A section of sidewalk in front of the Independence, Incorporated building is torn out and wood concrete forms are in place, waiting for new concrete to be poured.

With accessibility in our parking lot, to our front door and beyond, as a top priority, leaving pot holes and other deterioration hazards like upheaval (when the asphalt cracks and creates a bump) or fatigue cracks, is not an option. Maintaining an accessible and safe driveway, parking lot and sidewalk system is critical.

When our parking lot and sidewalk began to show signs of wear and aging, we knew we had to invest in the property and the safety of our staff and consumers. We hired City Wide Facility Solutions to evaluate and bid our project and City Wide's Craig Thomas is now managing the project.

A big shoutout to the company for their excellent care of our parking area. City Wide Facility Solutions wants to be the First Choice for all your facility needs, and with their professionalism, experience and wide array of commercial solutions, we couldn't agree more.

City Wide Facilities Solutions logo

On Days with Soaring Temps pushing 100, Consider Using Independence, Inc. Accessible Transportation to Get Out and About!

Shopping? Visiting Friends and Family? Medical appointments? Whatever you have going on this Summer, we have your transportation needs covered with our local rides within Douglas County and Medical Rides to the Greater Kansas City and Topeka Areas.

Our fabulous drivers will get you where you need to go wiht great care, a friendly smile, and ice cold AC!

To find out more and book your ride, visit our website!

The Bob Bethell KanCare Oversight Committee Seeking Consumer Testimony on Experiences with Home and Community Based Services

The Bob Bethell KanCare Oversight Committee meeting is coming up and consumer testimony is always welcome and encouraged!

Are you a person with a disability on KanCare? Do you have experience with the Home and Community Based Services waiver? If so, the committee would like to hear from you! Experiences, whether positive or negative, suggestions for systems change and other personal testimony is an important part of making sure the Kansas Medicaid system is working as well as possible for its members.

image contains a gallery room in the Topeka Capitol Building with members of the public sit listening to testimony about KanCare

Pictured above: Dan Goodman, Executive Director for Kansas Advocates for Better Care, gives testimony at a January, 2022 Bethell KanCare Oversight Committee meeting while other members of the public listen and await their turn to speak.

Questions and consumer testimony should be directed to Elizabeth Cohn, Senior Research Analyst, Kansas Legislative Research Department, at or 785-296-4382.

Submission deadline for PDF electronic submission is Tuesday, July 25 at 5:00 pm and paper copies are due by Friday, July 28 at 5:oo pm. The session will be held Wednesday, August 2nd and Thursday, August 3rd. To view notes on the April 24th Committee, visit the Kansas Hospital Association "Capitol Comments" article.

Summer may be in Full Swing, but our Fall Fundraising Campaign is Just Around the Corner!

Bulletin board background with a white card held by a push pin and text that reads The Independence, Inc. Fall Fundraiser is Just around the corner. Graphics in dark blues and greens and the Independence, Inc. logo are also displayed.

The good news is, you don't have to wait until fall to give! Not only do we value your monetary gift to help support our programs and services, but more importantly we value you as a partner - someone invested in advocating for people with disabilities, thinking about and talking about accessibility issues, and making an impact in our communities, our systems and our built environment to ensure that all people enjoy equal rights and access to all our communities have to offer. This includes removing attitudinal barriers that impact the way people are viewed in society and educating our friends and neighbors about what access and equity means to a person with a disability. Give today through our secure website and visit our resource page on the ADA and the history of the independent living movement to learn more about the history of discrimination against people with disabilities and the progress that is being made. What better way to celebrate Disability Pride Month and the 33rd Anniversary of the signing of the ADA?