Reporting period 10/1/11 – 9/30/12
1) How many self-advocates received information and skills?
1a) Number of People First members in attendance:
Attendance for information and skills received over the course of the year throughout nine chapters is 1,014. Two of the nine chapters are no longer active.
1b) What information was made available during meetings?
Members received a wide range of information on topics from leadership skills, fiscal management, how to effectively run their own People First chapter meetings, national issues including post secondary education, employment, Federal budget cuts, health care reform, the ABLE and Keeping All Students Safe Acts, voting procedures and candidate platforms for the 2013 Presidential election to local issues including transportation, employment, state budget cuts and caregiver options with Medicaid. They also received information on how to be their own healthcare advocate and how to use social media for grassroots self-advocacy.
1c) What skills were obtained from the information provided?
Members learned how to vote including the basics of voting procedures, where to go to research candidates and issues, where to go to ask about or access local services, and how to contact their legislators so they can take leadership roles in legislative initiatives. Members learned fiscal skills on how to manage their individual and local chapter bank accounts including how to open a bank account, how to add/subtract money and how to budget for future expenses, how to be a better self-advocate regarding their own healthcare including how to make their own doctor appointments, why it’s important to know about their medicines, how to keep a health notebook with important medical information and how to avoid certain health risks like diabetes. Members also learned how to use social media for grassroots self-advocacy efforts including how to set up and use a Facebook and Twitter account for advocacy and promoting awareness.
1d) What advocacy and policy-making activities did this organization participate in?
Reno People First chapter members testified at a Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) meeting to ask that the board re-evaluate their current recommendations to award a contract for accessible transportation services to a company they felt would not meet their needs. Members also participated in a workshop with RTC to discuss the needs of individuals with disabilities when using accessible services. People First collaborated with the Arc of Nevada to provide advanced self-advocacy and legislative action planning sessions. Members participated in a letter writing campaign to Governor Sandoval to ask that he support the Independent Caregiver Option and on a national level, members helped to educate themselves and others about the 2013 presidential candidates and how their platforms would effect individuals with disabilities. They also participated in a letter writing campaign to their senators to encouraging them to support the ABLE and Keeping All Students Safe Acts.
2a) Members of each chapter will answer 2-3 question survey to gauge the effectiveness of information being provided.
A survey was conducted for members in all chapters across the state in January of 2012. Results are as follows:
– Satisfaction with self-advocacy meetings overall – 71% of members were either satisfied or highly satisfied with their meetings.
– Satisfaction with topics presented by speakers – 67% of members were either satisfied or highly satisfied with topics presented.
3) What are the expected results of the goals?
3a) Increased legislative involvement by self-advocates.
As previously reported, members have been active in legislative issues on both a local and national level with educational trainings, organized testimony and letter writing campaigns. Plans are in place to partner with the Arc of Nevada for a coordinated Legislative Action day in March of 2013.
3b) Self-advocacy organization will be working towards self-sufficiency and an increase in membership to each chapter.
Trainings have been provided to chapter members and board members on leadership skills, fiscal management, how to run their own chapter meetings and what skills are needed to be an effective board member. Sustainability binders have been provided to all the chapters that includes all the information they need to run their meetings as independently as possible. All chapters have worked toward opening and being responsible for their own bank accounts. Board members have re-evaluated and revised their by-laws to enable a stronger leadership base and infra-structure for individual chapters. Promotional materials for People First of Nevada were ordered and distributed to chapters across the state to hand out to local business and resource fairs to boost awareness and membership. Chapters also hand out flyers in their communities to educate and promote awareness of People First and their meetings. Sixteen new members have joined People First across the state.
At the April 2012 Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) Board meeting in Reno, the Para-transit (accessible transportation) Eligibility ACCESS contracts were discussed. The Board was going to accept the RTC’s staff recommendations to award the contract to a company out of state that would require individuals with disabilities to use an online application and renewal process in place of the current in-person paper application process at a local organization that has held the contract for many years and is familiar with the clientele’s needs that use their services.
Reno People First members learned of this and were concerned due to the fact that:
a) Not all individuals with disabilities have access to, or are able to use a computer.
b) This would not allow individuals with disabilities to apply in person and access the individualized assistance they may require in completing or renewing their applications.
Reno chapter members were able to educate themselves on the issues above and join with other community members in testifying against the award during the public comment session at the May 2012 RTC Board meeting. As a result, the board voted to re-evaluate RTC staff’s recommendation to award the contract to the out of state agency and on July 20th the RTC introduced steps to address People First’s concerns including a new evaluation committee created with current users of RTC ACCESS and advocates for individuals with disabilities and determining that the new application process will include paper applications.
On January 12th, the RTC grant for Para-transit Eligibility ACCESS was re-awarded to the local agency that previously held the contract and would continue to provide in-person support to help individuals with disabilities complete or renew their application for accessible transportation services using the paper or on-line process, which-ever they preferred to use.