Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Statewide Independent Living Council

2017 Independent Living Conference Workshops and Speakers

crowd listens to speakers


Affordable Housing for People with Disabilities

Courtenay Loiselle and Maggie Dionne Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission The presentation will include an overview of affordable housing programs including state, federal and private housing providers. Resources that can be used in the housing search process as well as general requirements for verifications will be reviewed. Reasonable accommodations and modifications will also be covered.

Statewide Transition to Adult Program Meeting

Ann Hermann, Mass Rehabilitation Commission
This workshop period is for TAP program staff, supervisors and agency collaborators.

Weight and Seating Independence Project

Kobena Bonney, MassMATCH Coordinator, MRC, Louise Norton, Director of Assistive Technology, UCP Berkshire
The Weight and Seating Independence Project (WSIP) works in partnership with three ILCs and the two MassMATCH AT Regional Centers to improve access to wheelchair accessible scales and digital pressure mapping systems for individuals with paralysis in Central and Western Massachusetts. The project has placed wheelchair accessible scales in four Independent Living Center locations for public access, and added portable accessible scales in the device loan inventory at the Pittsfield and Worcester AT Regional Centers for individuals to borrow and use at home.   In addition, digital pressure mapping systems have been added to the device loan inventory, also for personal use at home. Persons with disabilities can try out the pressure mapping systems at the AT Regional Centers and then borrow one to use at home.   The equipment is available to others who may borrow the equipment for use with individuals recovering from pressure ulcers or otherwise at risk.

This workshop will describe the background and goals of the project, demonstrate the use of the scales and pressure mapping system, and discuss how the information gained may be used by individuals to prevent pressure injuries and maintain or improve their overall health and independence.

Stress 101: Staying Afloat in Turbulent Times

Joanne Eno
We are living in uncertain times where we are bombarded with what often seem like daily threats to our Independence and our way of life. We constantly hear about potential cuts to such services as healthcare, housing and education. This may all seem stressful and overwhelming at times. This workshop is designed to assist independent living center staff with recognizing and dealing with stress. This is crucial if staff is to remain affective in their roles. This workshop will teach staff to be mindful of their own stress responses. Particular emphasis will be given to how they react to consumer stress. Strategies to avoid "taking on" someone else's stress will be offered. Techniques for personal stress management will be offered as well skills training and resources for consumers. Suicide prevention will also be discussed. The importance of building personal support networks and community alliances will be addressed as these relate to the philosophy of independent living.   

Home Smart Home

Ammar Ibrahim, Stavros board of home devices The smart home - which at its most basic is enabling various devices around the home, such as thermostats, lighting and door locks, to be connected to the Internet and controlled via a smartphone - is going to be a huge boon to accessibility. Smart Home is becoming more financially accessible to people with disabilities. This workshop will educate advocates and consumers on Smart Home, review safety and security and provide information on how Smart Home can increase independence for people who have low mobility, low vision or who are blind.

Social Security Disability Benefits 101

Mary Glanden, LandAjob A main concern for many consumers is the loss of their disability benefits if they work; however, there are many safety nets called Social Security Work Incentives. This workshop will review both SSDI and SSI Work Incentives. This workshop will empower advocates and consumers with knowledge to help smooth the transition from dependence on benefits to life on work, minimize the risks of benefits issues with SSA and provide understanding on how to utilize work incentives for a better financial outcome.

MassDOT ADA Transition Plan Update

John Lozada and Ammie Rogers Mass Dot The MassDOT ADA Transition Plan Working Group has assessed and prioritized nearly 26,000 curb ramps across the Commonwealth and we are now taking steps to remediate these ramps and taking other steps to make the Commonwealth's Highway infrastructure more accessible for people with disabilities. In our work, we have also studied policies and practices, other physical assets and areas of need, such as our on-line accessibility. All of this work is subject to public consideration and comment, so we hope to explain this effort to ensure that the public feels comfortable weighing in. We are also expanding our work to use what we have learned and build to help municipalities achieve compliance at a local level. MassDOT representatives will provide an overview of the efforts taken to date, and will welcome comments from workshop participants as part of this discussion.

A Dialogue with Employers

Kathy Petkauskos University of Massachusetts Medical School, Work Without Limits, Kristine Biagiotti-Bridges, Dell EMC Jackie McGravey, MAPFRE Insurance, Marcia Bowles from UMass Memorial Health Care
In this interactive session, members of the Massachusetts Business Leadership Network, representing some of the state's leading employers, will share a comprehensive overview of why businesses are committed to disability diversity inclusion as well as some of the strategies and best practices companies are using to create inclusive work cultures and employment practices. They will also review and discuss with the audience some basic do's and don'ts for human service providers when approaching, engaging and building relationships with employers. Last, the presenters will review the specific skill sets candidates need to be successful in today's market as well as future labor force needs, and provide insight and recommendations on the competitive application process including interviews and online applications.

Understanding Autism: Essential Tips and Tools for Youth Workers

Steve Slowinski, Partnership for Youth with Disabilities
At present, the CDC estimates the prevalence of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) as 1 in every 68 children. In other words, if you work with youth, the odds are that you've likely encountered youth with autism in your program! This has left many youth workers asking important questions: what is autism? How do we best incorporate and support these youth? And how do we design programs, classrooms, and events that are inclusive to all forms of neuro-diversity? This training will provide an overview of autism, including common strengths and challenges. Participants will learn tips for communication, behavior management, role modeling proper social etiquette, and encouraging active participation for youth with autism. Participants will learn practical tips on enhancing the ability of organizations and programs to be more inclusive of individuals with autism.

Increasing utilization of assistive technology for individuals across the lifespan

Marylouise Gamache Executive Office of Elder Affairs, Ann Shor Massachusetts Rehabilitation Council, Kobena Bonney Mass Rehab Commission- Mass Match, Rachel Weiner Executive Office of Elder Affairs This workshop will provide a brief overview of the MA No Wrong Door (NWD)/Aging and Disability Resource Consortia (ADRC) system and the various Assistive Technology services and resources available to assist people with disabilities to age in place. These will include an overview of the NWD/ADRC system in MA, information about the services/resources available and how to connect to their local NWD/ADRC as well as an overview of AT programs that can assist consumers and resources for financing AT devices.

Introduction to MassHealth Eligibility

John Gerardi
This workshop is designed as an introduction to MassHealth eligibility. We will walk you through the application process and describe the eligibility requirements for MassHealth benefits.

Sustaining a quality PCA Workforce through recruitment, training and retention

Lisa Sirois PCA Workforce Council/Executive Office of Health and Human Services, Rebecca Gutman 1199 SEIU PCA Union, Harneen Chernow Training and Upgrade Fund/1199 SEIU PCA Union During the first half of the workshop, the presenters will share an overview of their projects and initiatives to build and strengthen the PCA workforce. The second half of the workshop will be a listening session to elicit feedback from participants about their experiences with recruitment, training and retention of PCAs.

Ableism, Racism, Sexism, Oh my!: Let's explore intersectionality for a new generation of IL

Jennifer Lee Stavros Center for Independent Living, Shaya French Boston Center for Independent Living       Disability community is diverse. Intuitively we know that a Black woman who uses a wheelchair will experience different barriers and prejudice than a White man who is Blind. But how do we respond to those realities in our ILCs? In this workshop we'll discuss intersectionality-a term that means that gender, race, sexual orientation-and the other categories that comprise a person's identity-intersect to simultaneously influence an individual's experience. We'll discuss how issues like access to reproductive health care, the criminal justice system and environmental degradation are relevant to persons with disabilities and should be given more attention by disability centered agencies. Lastly, we will also talk about solutions and the benefits of adopting a more intersectional perspective within Independent Living Centers.

Bryt: Bridge for Resilient Youth in Transition

Paul Hyry-Dermith Brookline Center for Community Mental Health The Brookline Center for Community Mental Health’s BRYT Team supports schools in developing and continuously improving programs providing integrated clinical, academic, family support, and care coordination services to students who have missed extensive amounts of school due mental health (and in some cases overlapping medical) issues. As of September 2017 there are 72 Massachusetts schools in BRYT’s rapidly growing network. This will include an overview of the need for these programs, how they work, and the data supporting them, along with a discussion about possible collaboration and mutual support between BRYT-model programs and local ILCs.

An Overview of the ABLE Savings Plan

Martha Savery MEFA      This workshop will provide an overview of Attainable, the Massachusetts ABLE Savings Plan. The federal Achieving a Better Live Experience (ABLE), ACT enacted in December 2014 permits the establishment of the ABLE Savings Accounts under Section 529A of the Internal Revenue Code. Attainable, is offered by MEFA and managed by Fidelity Investments. The workshop will cover the basic tax benefits, disability benefit considerations, eligibility and questions from the audience.

Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) Overview

Roderigo Monterray MA DPH Office of Health Equity      Mr. Monterrey will provide an overview of the Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) Standards, not as a checklist of "to-dos" but as a framework for continuous quality improvement. Using the tools developed by the MA DPH over the past 10 years, MR. Monterrey will also familiarize attendees with how CLAS standards can be applied to all programs providing health and human services.

NAMI Massachusetts: Reaching out and changing minds

Florette Willis, Megan Wiechnik, Judi Maguire NAMI Massachusetts This workshop is for those seeking education and support about mental health. NAMI Massachusetts has a large group of dedicated volunteers, trained by NAMI, who bring their wisdom to those affected by mental health, physical health issues caused by mental health problems, mental health issues that result from physical health issues, and addiction. We will introduce our programs, which also include advocacy and community outreach, and discuss opportunities for community participation, volunteering and training. Learn about how :
  1. NAMI programs empower those in recovery
  2. NAMI programs have supported family members with young or adult children with emotional issues
  3. NAMI's COMPASS program can help you navigate the mental health system and assist with questions regarding housing, legal issues, insurance etc
  4. NAMI's outreach to schools, police departments, companies, medical schools, colleges, hospitals etc. is changing attitudes to those who may have a mental health issues
  5. NAMI can help YOU!

Recreation and leisure time management: Not just fun and games.

Joanne Eno
Independent Living Centers provide information and referrals to consumers to recreational events and leisure time activities. However, consumers and others may regard leisure time activities as a luxury rather than a necessity. This workshop asserts that ILC staff should view leisure time management as an area for skills training rather than merely providing referrals to groups and activities. The process of identifying, participating in and remaining involved in leisure time and recreational activities can both mirror and enhance the job seeking process. This workshop will explore the link between the development of leisure time management skills and the identification of, attainment and maintenance of vocational goals. Additionally, involvement in leisure time activities has other benefits including, opportunities to practice social and leadership skills, opportunities to explore one's likes and dislikes, meeting new people and reducing stress. Participants will learn to assist consumers with identifying and overcoming barriers to participating in leisure activities. Strategies for identifying activities which can be done indoors, outdoors with others or by oneself will be addressed. Steps for creating an action plan will be discussed. Finally, the link between leisure time management, other independent living goals and vocational attainment will be addressed.

Creating a Postsecondary Vision

Nancy Mader, Joseph Katz, Federation for Children with Special Needs This workshop builds on young adults' strengths to develop a post-secondary vision and establish action steps to reach their goals. This is an interactive workshop that leaves participants with tools to tackle transition planning.
  1. Understanding where to start to develop a postsecondary vision
  2. General understanding of Person-Centered Planning
  3. General understanding of Transition Assessment
  4. Understanding and ability to write a vision statement
  5. Next steps... how to build the IEP around the vision


Updates from MCB / MRC and MCDHH

panel of MCB MRC and MCDHH commissioners

Innovations Panel

Innovations Panel

Changing Face of Health Care in Massachusetts Panel discussion

health care panel


Sarah Wendell Launderville

Sarah Launderville Sarah Wendell Launderville has worked in the disability rights movement since 1997, and has a psychiatric disability. She is the Executive Director of the Vermont Center for Independent Living and was recently elected Vice-President of the National Council on Independent Living and serves as the President of the Vermont Coalition for Disability Rights. She has a MS in Human Services, Organizational Management and Leadership. She serves on various disability rights boards and committees including the NCIL Womens Caucus, NCIL Parenting Task Force, VT SILC, VT SRC and Disability Rights Vermont. She is the mother of three and is an adjunct faculty member at Springfield College. In her free time, she likes getting arrested with ADAPT.

Dan Tsai

Daniel Tsai is the Assistant Secretary for MassHealth and Medicaid Director for the Commonwealth. Tsai was appointed in January 2015 by Governor Charlie Baker to oversee the state’s ~$15 billion Medicaid program, which covers one in four residents in the Commonwealth. In his role, Tsai is responsible for ensuring a robust and sustainable MassHealth program. That includes developing new policies, payment models, and operational processes that improve the way health care is delivered to 1.8 million low-and moderate-income individuals and individuals with disabilities.
Before joining HHS, Tsai was a Partner and leader in McKinsey & Company’s Healthcare Systems and Services practice. He has significant experience on design and implementation of innovative, state-wide health care payment systems for Medicaid, Medicare and Commercial populations, and has worked closely with multiple state Medicaid programs, private payers, and health services companies. He received a Bachelor of Arts in applied mathematics and economics from Harvard University.
Assistant Secretary Tsai and his wife live in Boston’s South End, where he volunteers at a local community health center.

Dennis Heaphy

Dennis currently works at the Disability Policy Consortium as a Health Care Advocate with an emphasis on public health and healthcare policy. He serves as co-chair of Disability Advocates Advancing our Healthcare Rights (DAAHR), a coalition of disability and other healthcare advocates working on the Dual Eligibles Initiative and broader healthcare reform. He serves as chair of the Massachusetts One Care Implementation Council and vice chair of the 1115 waiver Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment (DSRIP) program, “DISRIC” committee. Prior to working at DPC, Dennis served as Americans with Disabilities Act Project Coordinator for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and consultant. In addition to his work in public health, Dennis’ experience includes teaching English as a Second Language at St. Francis House, serving as a chaplain at Georgetown University and adjunct faculty member at Emmanuel College. Dennis holds an M. Div, Med and MPH.

Brian Rosman

Brian Rosman is Health Care For All’s Director of Policy and Government Relations. His work focuses on policy research and analysis related to Massachusetts and national health reform, public health coverage programs, health payment methods, private insurance concerns and other policy issues. Brian also teaches health policy to Masters of Public Policy students at Brandeis University and to advanced degree nursing students at Regis College, and he lectures at UMass Medical School, Tufts School of Public Health, BU School of Law and Harvard Medical School. Before joining HCFA in 2003, Brian was a senior policy associate at the Schneider Institute for Health Policy at Brandeis University's Heller School. He also served as research director and general counsel for the House staff of the Joint Committee on Health Care of the Massachusetts legislature and as counsel to the Massachusetts Senate Committee on Ways & Means. Brian has a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a degree in Political Science from Stanford University.

Mary Margaret Moore receives award for service from NCIL

Mary Margaret receives award
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