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The articles in this issue help readers understand what it is like to live with a visual impairment and how the church can become more inclusive toward people living with impaired vision or blindness.

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Acerca del diez por ciento de la población en Norte America viven con discapacidades visuales. Los artículos en esta edición ayudan a los lectores entender como es vivir con una discapacidad visual y como la iglesia puede ser más inclusiva hacia personas que viven con discapacidades visuales o ceguera.

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This issue of Breaking Barriers is by and about young people who live with disabilities.

October 7, 2010 0 0 comments
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EDICION #87 OTOÑO 2010 - Un Ministerio de la Iglesia Cristiana Reformada   y la Iglesia Reformada en America  Disability Concerns

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Articles feature stories - humorous, informative, encouraging, and even painful - about churches and individuals in their encounters with accessibility.

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Con el vigésimo aniversario del Acta de Americanos con Discapacidades el día 26 de Julio, hemos enfocado nuestra edición de verano de Rompiendo Barreras en esta importante legislación.

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Our name, Breaking Barriers, takes on new meaning with this ­issue as Disability Concerns of the Reformed Church in America and of the Christian Reformed Church publish this newsletter together.

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EDICION #85 PRIMAVERA 2010  Un Ministerio de la Iglesia Cristiana Reformada   y la Iglesia Reformada en America Disability Concerns

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In this issue find articles, meditations, and even a modern psalm of praise about embracing each person as an image-bearer of God.

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The theme of this issue is Mental Health.

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The theme of this issue is Disability and Emergency Preparedness.

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The theme of this issue is Down Syndrome.

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This is a literary theme issue.

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The theme of this issue is Cerebral Palsy.

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The theme of this issue is Autism Spectrum.

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The theme of this issue is Aging.

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The theme of this issue is volunteering, preaching and disability, and more.

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This is the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Issue.

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The theme of this issue is Caregivers.

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In this issue: Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder, a modern lament psalm, and more.

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In this issue: Hearing impairment, inclusion, and more.

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In this issue: A broken neck, toxic noise, Friendship Ministries, and more.

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In this issue: Communion for people with cognitive impairments, having a disability in New York City, and more.

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In this issue: Depression, doubt, dignity, and more.

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In this issue: Suffering, skydiving, multiple sclerosis, and more.

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This is an amazing testimony! I am truly left without words.

Thank you, Bekki and Staci, for sharing this very special and purposeful story! 

  Apparently, it already has.  According to John Oliver, not only do black people have to contend with bureaucratic obfuscation but with logistics as well.  Some of those offices are not opened every day of a business week but only a few hours in a given month, so if you don't have the right papers at the right time, you can miss several opportunities to vote in primary elections thereby being effectively denied your right to vote.  In the mean time some of the politicians who supported this sort of legislation have been seen on TV voting in someone else's place for or against a bill in the state's congress.  We're supposed to support justice, so if there is such a law in the books of your state, then you should work to have it repealed.  If you don't know, find out. It might not help black voters this time around since governments are NOT known to turn on a dime, especially if they adopted such a racist policy in the first place, but at least they may be able to vote without hindrance next time.

Michele, I too have heard similar reports. The U.S. Supreme Court's decision three years ago to invalidate several parts of the voting rights act may make matters worse for African American voters this time they vote for president. 

 Some time ago I watched an episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver in which he talked about voting and how some states make it extremely difficult for black people to vote with the Voter I.D. laws they have passed in which those poor people NEVER have the proper documents to be eligible to vote, so I'd suggest that in some states being black is a disability that the state government makes no attempt to help.  If anything they deliberately complicate the voting process for coloured people. You might want to watch this episode just to see the hypocrisy of the politicians who pass this sort of legislation.  You can find it on Youtube.

Cindy, thanks for your comment and for your plan of action. Please post another comment with the results! One other way to encourage citizens with physical disabilities to vote is to make absentee voting not only easier to do but also intentionally promoted by election officials. If citizens knew that absentee voting was available to them, and if they had an easy path to receive a ballot and send it in, that would go a long ways toward giving more people the vote. 

Goodness, reading this and thinking about my polling place has me rather horrified, as well as a little embarrassed that I hadn't thought about it before.  I live out in the country and we vote at a small community center with a dirt parking lot, narrow door with concrete steps to the threshold, and a porta-potty bathroom.  I am planning to call our county government and ask what accommodations are available for someone who can't handle that situation--I'm guessing that they would have to make special arrangements to go to the courthouse, but it's probably safe to say mine isn't the only rural county with similar problems and many rural citizens with disabilities are probably effectively discouraged from voting. 

 I've worked as poll secretary in some provincial elections, and in cases like that the person who is blind can be accompanied by a friend or relative who will tell them the names of the candidates and what party they stand for.  Usually, the candidates are listed in alphabetical order since that is neutral.

Michele, thanks for your mother's story. You are right that most accessibility thought is put into accessibility for people who use wheelchairs, but other challenges must be considered too, such as the struggle your mother has walking long distances. I also wonder how well people with visual impairments are able to place their vote. 

 Not me personally, but my mom did at one municipal election.  She has angina, which is a form of heart disease, and she went to vote at an advance polling station that required a lot of walking one year, and when she got to the desk to vote she complained about having to walk all that distance, and the person in charge said she was taking note of the complaint.  You see, a lot of the accommodations when they are made, are almost always only in terms of wheelchair-bound people, who are assumed to be able to wheel themselves around to any distance as long as they don't have to overcome the hurdle of steps or stairs, but people who have heart problems often find walking long distances very hard because they get out of breath easily.  And that day, when my mom got back to the car after voting, she told my dad not to bother because it was too far, and he had even more difficulty walking than my mom. I can't think of the proper term right now but it has to do with the heart not pumping hard enough and fluid accumulating on the lungs.  In Canada, we don't vote for everything at once.  Federal, provincial and municipal elections are held separately, and municipal elections are governed by provincial laws, so they vary from one province to another.  Then we also have to vote for school-board officials. However, we don't vote for judges or sheriffs or any law-enforcing officials.  Judges are appointed by governments; police officers have to do a three-year professional junior college program (in Québec) after which they go to a police academy and are picked by municipal or provincial police corps upon graduation from said academy.

 But what I want to emphasize here is that not all disabilities require the same accommodations, and what works for people in wheelchairs is not necessarily good for people with heart or respiratory problems.  It's NOT a one size fits all. 

Thank you for this, Mark. This past Sunday I commented on our dependence on God, playing off Independence Day as you said in the comment above. I appreciate how you also write of our dependence on others, too! ~Stanley

Independence, like freedom and happiness, are complex subjects which seem to confuse many people. The Declaration Of Independence, for example: under which economic or political system can't a person chase after happiness? When some people complain, "We are losing our freedom," I respond, "If you had more freedom then what would you do differently?" The response usually is something about taxes, guns, or smoking pot.

Reformed Protestant Christianity is the only system that guarantees catching happiness with the only proviso being that one is "elect" before he is born. How can this be? Because Freedom and happiness are mental states. I think therefore I am free and happy. <G>

Hi Michele, yes, independence for nations is much different than independence for individuals. I was playing off the U.S. celebration of Independence Day to make a point about how much each of us needs each other and God. 

 True.  But when people talk about independence, I don't think that's what they mean.  What the founders of your country meant by independence was that as a country the U.S.A. could make its own decisions without needing permission from the King of England, nor would it have to pay taxes to another country for its goods.  Of course, we are all interdependent, and that is good and healthy, but the independence of nations from colonial regimes is another story.

Yes, it's another taste of the Kingdom. For people who live or are vacationing near Holland Michigan, I encourage you to visit. Worship happens every Sunday at 6 PM at 15468 Riley St, Holland, MI 49424. Worship is outdoors under a big tent all summer, or inside in case of inclement weather. AND . . . first Sunday of each summer month includes a hot dog roast starting at 5:30. 

Thanks for sharing this Mark! I love the idea of a "no-shush" church; what a great picture of being the body of Christ together in worship. 

I haven't seen the movie yet. Or maybe I have, I can't remember. Yep, my partner says we have seen it. But he has Alzheimer's, so........

I haven't seen it yet, nor have I seen Me Before You, but Finding Dori looks like a MUCH better film.

I try not to be a one-issue voter, but an issue like justice for people with disabilities makes it really tempting to do so. The statistics are startling.

I am grateful for the leadership of IDAC (among others) on this. Thank you for taking the time to post this so it can be shared.

This is also true for children. My church makes few concessions for the children, arguing that if they attend for long enough they'll turn into real people, ie adults. We miss so much when we marginalise or ignore the little, weak, or elderly.

 When our congregation decided to build an elevator--ramps would have been even more costly because we would have needed one for outside, which was the easy part, and one for inside--we already had people in our congregation who were suffering from arthritis for whom climbing stairs was painful.  It has proved to be a long-lasting investment even though we got the cheapest model available, or almost, and many men from the congregation did as much of the work as possible that did not require technical expertise.  That is one way churches can cut down on expenses.

Michele, yes. When I was in Canada last week, I heard as much about the US presidential elections from people as I do hear - and recommendations who NOT to vote for! 

 It's difficult for Canadians NOT to be aware of Presidential election campaigns south of the border.  When you're a mouse in bed with an elephant, as PM Pierre Elliot Trudeau, the late father of our present prime minister, used to say; you have to always be aware of what the elephant is going to do next.  But since I can't vote in that election there isn't much point in sending that letter.

Del, Thanks for offering these reflections. We had some discussion about this on the Network a few years ago, and the discussion was even more extensive on Think Christian. I encourage you to check out the comments on both pages. 

This has been an illuminating read in understanding some of the dynamics of anxiety and suggestions for how anxiety can be addressed and accommodated. Thank you Jarett, Josh, and Annika for sharing this and for your commitment to one another.

Thank you Josh and Jarett for bravely sharing your story. It really highlights the need for all of us to become more educated and more sympathetic to those with mental health issues. I think as a church we have a long way to go to removing the stigma we place on others. I pray your story is another step forward. 

Yes! Yes! Yes! Beautifully said, Michele. 

 Mental illness is less stigmatized than it used to be, but in some areas they are still the lepers of our age.  And yet, mental illnesses are NOT contagious.  You can't catch one by touching someone who suffers from a mental illness, regardless of which illness it happens to be.

 Mark, 

Did you include me in the list of speakers?

Hats off to Jarrett, Josh, Annika, and the whole group for making this work for Jarrett! I wonder how this experience will linger with everyone in the days, weeks, and years to come. I have a guess about one thing: Jarrett's openness about the challenges he was facing may have helped everyone to become a bit more open and vulnerable about their own struggles. 

Patricia, thanks so much for sharing this part of your story!

For those eagerly waiting, part 2 is now live

Looking forward to part 2!

 

With the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit, some people I have known for a long time, and others I had not ever heard of before, have connected with me because of this exposure and we have been enabled to make some soft sweet music together.  I am so blessed to have a tiny part in proclaiming God's wondrous love and care for people in whatever life situations surround them right now.  I challenge all of you readers to ask God for someone to join with you today in showing His love, whether it be in a quiet soft way or in a jubilant lively way!  You might be surprised by His choice for your connection.today.

Sincerely,

Patricia Ann Siebersma Haveman

pathave32@gmail.com

Eagerly awaiting part two!

Annika, thanks for posting this. Looking forward to part 2!

Michele, I don't know of equivalent programs in Canada. That's why I listed 211.ca as a resource.

If you are Canadian and reading this, do you have an answer to Michele's question? 

 Mark, Do you know if there is any equivalent program in Canada?  I can't say for Québec because the provincial government has been cutting services beyond the fat, and many parents and teachers complain that they are overwhelmed because they have too many kids with learning disabilities in their classes and not enough help to manage them.

 Very well said.

Doug, Yes, and though it's not said in this paraphrase, Mark's and Betty's love for each other springs from the love both of them know in Jesus Christ. 

Thanks for posting Mark.  Were all marriages reflective of this perspective, divorce wouldn't happen.

What a beautiful picture of love! Thanks for sharing. 

 I have shared it with the elders of my church.

Ban citizen ownership and the US can have the safe streets, schools, and neighborhoods that Mexico does. 

  That's nice, but for my part I look forward to not hearing voices anymore, and the problem with them is that you can hear them whether your hearing is good or not since they are a product of the brain and not something that comes from the outslde.  I have a hearing impairment also but the only reason my voices no longer plague me as they used to is because I take medications to control them.  For me heaven will mean being rid of schizophrenia for good.  If you identify with your handicap to the point that you can't imagine being freed of it at the resurrection fine and dandy, but personally I can't wait to leave that in the grave.  Or better yet, on my deathbed.

 This is one of the reasons I have decided to become a Regional Advocate.  Fortunately, the classis I work for is receptive to this issue.  Not the gun violence part so much because the right to bear arms is not part of the Canadian Constitution, and as a whole our country counts fewer gun-related massacres in ten years than the U.S.A. in one year.  To give you an idea, here in Québec we still commemorate the Polytechnique massacre that happened in 1989.  There have been a couple more since then, but that's all.  

A great resource is the Friendship Ministries website (www.friendship.org). I would also recommend that you not be afraid to direct part of the message directly to the friends and to use some sort of visual or tacticle lesson if possible. 

 It appeared in May of last year, either the 19th or the 26th as a guest post. 

Here's the article on the network that Michele is talking about: On Chronically Normal People

Thanks for the information. Michele, where on the Network can we find that one article?

 Oh, and by the way there will be two articles in the Spring issue of SZMAGAZINE due to appear on April 4th that I wrote. They only publish online now, but you can get a subscription for $50.00 that will allow you to print as many copies as you want.  These subscriptions are mostly for organizations since they usually have the funds to afford that. One of them was already published on the CRC Network. 

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