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Application for Revenue Sharing Funds from Alameda County
It is an indisputable fact that the blind and the disabled are among the most mistreated minority groups in the country. Many members of this minority group are often never informed of the benefits for which they are eligible, and sometimes they are deliberately misinformed. They are discriminated against in employment, in housing, and particularly in transportation. Even if they did receive the full benefits which they are statutoraly entitled to, they would yet be at a great disadvantage.
The Center for Independent Living, Inc. is a rehabilitation services organization, serving physically disabled and blind people living within the norther Alameda County area. Unlike other agencies, the CIL has a consumer approach to rehabilitation services. This means that it has been planned and is staffed by disabled and blind individuals who have first-hand experience and knowledge of disability. It also means that clients will contribute to the program's operation and direction to insure that the CIL remains flexible and responsive to the needs of the people it serves.
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The overall objective of the CIL is to substantially improve the conditions affecting the lives of physically disabled and blind people by maximizing their opportunities for personal choice in the events and processes which affect their daily lives.
In the past, the diabled and blind have dealt seperately with their problems. The CIL recognizes the common problems and goals of the disabled and blind and the potential strength and effectiveness of a coalition in a service and advocacy organization. The CIL coalition will help promote a sense of solidarity among disabled and blind people, and with the strength of this solidarity, public awareness of the rights and needs of this large, potentially productive minority group can be increased.
After the CIL has been in operation for a few years, its impact will spread beyond the disabled and blind population to the Northern Alameda County as a whole. As increasing numbers of blind and disabled attain functional independence, they will naturally begin to get out onto the streets and participate in community life in general. As a result, the public at large will become aware of the diabled and blind people living in its midst. This increased awareness can lead to acceptance of the blind and disabled; along with the recognition that they possess abilities as well as disabilities; it will also serve to dispel many of the myths and fears which are responsible for much of the alienation that exists between the able-bodied and the handicapped. In short, the CIL services program will facilitate the integration of the disabled and blind into the larger
― 3 ―society not only by providing actual supportive services, but also by attacking indirectly the attitudinal barriers that also do much to impede this integration.
The objectives set forth here are admittedly ambitious. But if, as expected, the CIL succeeds in achieving those objectives, the impact will be felt far beyond the small area it serves directly. The desirability of establishing similar programs in other areas will soon become apparent. Groups undertaking such programs in the future will undoubtedly find the CIL's pioneering experience a most valuable resource.
b) Specific Objectives
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There are two sets of criteria for defining the poverty of blind and disabled persons. The first is an economic indicator. There are at least 11,000 recipients of Aid to the Totally Disabled (ATD) and 950 recipients of Aid to the Blind (AB) presently residing in Alameda County.
― 5 ―These people receive basic living grants ranging from $166 per month to about$200 per month. In addition, there is an indeterminate number of blind and disabled people receiving social security or other minimal sustenance levels of financial aid. The second set of criteria for defining poverty is the discrimination of poor architectural design, unfair housing practices, poor levels of self-care training, the lack of protective legislation, a public transportation system which many cannot use (people with wheelchairs or poor mobility training cannot use AC Transit), and the myriad of environmental factors that cause disabled and blind people to lead lives of isolation and despair.
Existing services for the disabled and blind are inadequate in that virtually no agency delivering them has enough resources to provide services and support at the level that is needed. But the inadequacy of services often goes deeper than an insufficiency of resources, important though it is; it also arises from fundamental approaches to the problems which are narrowly focused, shortsighted and/or fragmented.
In order to be a fully participating community member, a disabled or blind person must play an active role in providing those services necessary for the development of independent living skills. The following examples illustrate. A disabled person is unlikely to do well in his academic studies if he has to face recurring medical problems, but instruction in relatively simple preventative measures would allow him to sharply reduce or even eliminate many of these
― 6 ―problems. It is impossible for a blind person to go to school, hold a job, maintain an apartment, or participate in social activities without thorough training in the use of a white cane or guide dog. Because of resource and faculty limitation, adequate mobility training is not available to all who need it.
Many disabled persons need daily personal attendants. Locating attendants is a task for which public assistance agencies have proven inadequate and which is a bewildering catch-as-catch-can process for families. Access to a pool of potential attendants maintained by an organization with the skills and mandate to do so will, we believe, substantially ease the burden on families and disabled persons alike. Home tasks which would otherwise keep a blind or disabled person from living independently and managing a home can be accomplished with the knowledge and use of simple techniques and mechanical arrangements and devices such as modified door knobs and stove controls, thermostats, and other electrical appliances as well as braille labels for canned and packaged foods; Balkan bed frames etc. Individual solutions to home and self-care arrangement problems can be found through informal communication with other disabled and blind people and through personalized help in making the necessary adaptations. Many blind and disabled people are ignorant of their capabilities and the opportunities which should be open to them because they are denied psychological support from active disabled and blind people and exposure to what living, training, and financial arrangements are available. Similarly, after recovering his health, a newly disabled or blind
― 7 ―person is released from the hospital often without knowledge of any alternative to depending on his family for survival or living confined and isolated in an institution. It takes education, encouragement, help with transportation and appointments, and concerned follow-up before an individual learns what it is he needs and wants and develops the ability to get it for himself.
These are but a few examples of the deficiencies which pervade the rehabilitation service network. On the one hand, existing agencies serving the blind and disabled, receive requests for services that they cannot or will not handle; on the other, many if not most of those who are served by these agencies still do not receive some services which really meet their needs. In large part, this is because most agencies offer services only narrowly defind, concrete areas. moreover, agencies are rarely sufficiently familiar with the services provided by other agencies, so that when an agency receives a request for help that it is not equipped to handle, it is often not even able to refer the person making the request to a more appropriate agency—if in fact one exists. It is almost as is the burden is on the disabled and blind to fit themselves to the services available rather than on existing agencies to adapt their services to the needs of their clients.
9. Application and Results of Funding Requests Elsewhere
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In June of 1972, we received $ 50,311 to implement the project. With these funds we have hired fifteen staff members and have accomplished the following:
I. Target Population Survey
We have conducted limited seperate surveys of both the disabled and blind populations in the target area of Berkeley, Albany, Kensington, Emeryville, and northern Oakland. The questionnaires surveyed the type and degree of disability, age, race, sex, living situation, amount and type of help required, and the desirability proposed by CIL. The surveys have provided much useful information, but have not provided a good estimate of the size of the target population or its geograpghic distribution. This information has been limited by the lack of a practical method of mass distribution and, we suspect, by the difficulty many blind people have in acquiring correspondence readers. We, therefore, have turned to more statistical techniques and have developed the necessary estimates by the use of three seperate methods. These include applying Social Security prevalence rates by disability type to the population figures. The data is extrapolated from the Bureau of the Census, 1970, figures on disability and the Susan Ridge formula [*] correlating age, sex, race, and income to prevelance of disability. We are confident that the results give a workable picture of the target population by census tract.
II. Community Service Agencies Survey
A graduate studies class at the University of California,
― 9 ―Department of City and Regional Planning was conducted during the Winter quarter, 1973. It was directed under the supervision of the Research and Evaluation division of the CIL and in cooperation with the Alameda County Comprehensive Health Planning Agency. The class investigated existing rehabilitation service agencies and organizations serving the Berkeley area. The R.E.D. is also conducting a more subjective survey based upon the personal experiences of disabled and blind persons contacted through CIL activities. Reports are also written as the CIL conducts on-site visits with rehabilitation agencies or through the development of cooperative working relations.
Work is currently underway on a directory of existing agencies, their services, acceptance criteria, etc. We expect to complete the major portion of this directory within four months.
III. On-Site Visits
During the last year, members of the CIL staff and board have visited the following rehabilitation services organizations:
In addition, the CIL has ongoing correspondence with at least fifty other consumer organizations around the country.
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IV. Physician's Survey
A survey of physicians with offices in the Berkeley area has been conducted. Questions included the willingness of the physicians to accept Medi-Cal clients, experience with disabled and/or blind clients, accessibility of office, etc.
Since October of 1972, the CIL has sought funds from over one hundred governmental agencies, foundations, and private sources. Seven requests were successful. Only one proposal is still under consideration (the SRS Research and Demonstation grant request), and there seems to be little probability of it being funded due to a change in federal guidelines and budget cutbacks. The following foundations and individuals have awarded us grants or have donated funds:
With these funds we have accomplished the following:
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10. Why program should be funded and what problems will be caused if program is defunded while in progress?
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The kinds of services that we provide and intend to provide, as well as the need for them have been outlined above. The Rehabilitation Services Agency has named us one of the two most important programs serving the disabled in this country.
The City of Berkeley has made it possible for us to acquire an adequate facility and to cover our phone, postage, consumable supplies, and duplication costs for a three year period. We have fifteen staff members now working at 20 and 50 % of $8,000 annual base salary. The base salary is half of what personnel, doing similar kinds of work, make working for such agencies as the California State Department of Rehabilitation or the Alameda County Department of Social Welfare. As of November 15, 1973, we will no longer have any funds to pay personnel, operate our transportation services, or publish our newletter.
The dedication of CIL staff members is such that many will continue to work for no pay. All will stay if they can continue to receive the $135-$335/a month salary they are currently receiving. These staff members are entitled to a fair and decent wage. Further, several new services (such as wheelchair repair and medical counseling) are dependent upon being able to hire additional staff members 11. Participation with existing community groups:
The CIL has established working relationships with the following agencies:
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13. Future Program Plans
The Research and Evaluation Division (RED) is a separate and already existing component of the Center for Independent Living, Inc. The RED is staffed by individuals who have completed graduate work
― 15 ―at the University of California in the fiolds of city planning, social policy planning, and public policy analysis. The RED also has a direct liaison with the University's Institute of Urban and Regional Development. In addition to carrying out individual research projects, the RED designs and implements evaluation studies for the various programs funded under the CIL corporation. In evaluating each project, the Division selects several questions for research that are thought to be of critical interest both to the funding source and to the staff and clients of the project.
The subjects specific to the proposed CIL Services Project which are likely to be of greatest interest are: (a) the impact of CIL services on the observed behavior and attitudes of the project's clients, and (b) the potentiality of total or partial self-support of the various project services. Research into these two subjects involves structuring and implementing a methodology designed to address a series of questions including but not limited to the following:
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At the end of the first year of the project's operation, the Research and Evaluation Division will present a report to the CIL Services Project staff and to the funding source detailing the results of the study.
15. Staff Personnel:
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(Note a): In addition to the above paid staff members, there are about ten or eleven volunteer staff members.
(Note b): Fringe benefits are set at a standard 15%.
Consistent with federal and state laws, the CIL will develop a program of supplementary benefits to diabled and blind employees which will enable them to meet the extra expenses peculiar to their needs which are occasioned by their employment. This benefit will be in addition to a group mutual policy which reflects the extraordinary medical costs disabled employees must typically expect to bear.
(Note c): Typing is now done by volunteers for the most part, though some staff do typing as their other duties permit.
(Note: This budget is negotiable. The survival of this program depends upon financial aid from external sources at this time. There are no more than five such programs in the country. There should be a CIL in every county in every state of the country.)