Thursday, September 08, 2005

2006 Paul G. Hearne/AAPD Leadership Awards APPLICATION

Well, I did it! I just sent of the actual application by email. As I promised, I have copied the actual application below for all of you to see. It summarizes what I have accomplished to date, and what I hope to accomplish in the future. As those of you who have read a few of these blogs probably realize, the hardest part of this application was KEEPING THE WORDS DOWN TO UNDER 700!! I'm just too wordy at heart!

Here's the application. I'll keep you informed about the outcome.

SERIOUS BARRIERS

Like the distinguished Disability Pioneer, Paul G. Hearne, whose lifetime achievements inspired this Leadership Award in conjunction with AAPD, I too have spent a lifetime helping others access their personal and professional rights and goals.

The overarching concepts that have driven me for more than thirty years as a human resources executive and for the past 5 years, as an “emerging disability advocate” helping people with disabilities, are the following.

Disabled people, like people everywhere, need to:

1. understand their CURRENT situation, through research and learning, and adopt a constructive “attitude”;
2. develop a “picture” of their DESIRED situation, and seek out people, processes, and organizations to assist them in achieving their desired situation;
3. take responsibility for finding resources (people, places, jobs, etc.) to assist them in reaching their desired situation.

After thirty years of “relapsing/remitting” multiple sclerosis becoming “secondary progressive/chronic”, it was time to take my own advice and recognize that I am a disabled person. Knowing I didn’t possess a full knowledge of my disease
[1], I did know that I needed a financial safety net for my day-to-day life.

Through research, I uncovered many serious barriers for disabled people including:

1. they have a limited knowledge of their disease, symptoms, and impact it has on their lives;
2. they fail to accept the “new reality” that they can successfully function as a disabled person;
3. they need to learn how to effectively communicate their physical limitations to their friends, family and health care support team;
4. it is difficult to understand financial and medical insurances;
5. they have to contend with “silo disease associations”;
6. there are many challenges ahead including employment, education, and day-to-day living.

As a disABLED person, I documented my journey so that I could walk beside others in theirs. Focusing documentation primarily on the communication, health care and medical and financial insurance barriers I have achieved the following.

1. Successfully qualified for LTD
[2]; and, triggering ADA[3], defined a job that benefited my company and allowed me full pay for a year while on LTD.
2. Qualified for SSDI
[4] within 30 days the first time around.
3. Created a Disabilitykey Workbook of actual examples, blank forms, and step-by-step “How-To” processes.
4. Created a website:
www.disabilitykey.com containing information for overcoming health and financial insurance barriers.
5. Spent three years working as an Expert on the “About.com” helping people (200+) nationwide.
6. Became a Mentor with BIOGEN
[5], and the subject-matter of a national article focused on assisting MS patients (over 50).
7. Worked with, and participated in, the first Oregon State Caretaker Conference, discussing “Self-Advocacy” and effective communication.
8. Conducted a seminar on how to apply for SSDI
[6] with the Oregon Chapter of the National MS Society’s Program Director.
9. Rewrote the Disabilitykey Workbook (as an e-book) to be “disease generic” and reduced the price to $9.95.
10. In June, began a “Disabilitykey Blog” addressing all topics of interest. Fifty-three blogs have been written, and my website averages 1,300 “hits” per week.


FIVE-YEAR GOALS; IMPACT OF AWARD ON GOAL ACHIEVEMENT

In the next five years I will extend the scope of helping the disabled access the personal and professional rights and goals that they deserve. In collaboration with my “mentor/supportive colleague” Ann Balzell
[7] and, with both the recognition and financial assistance from this award, I will accomplish the following.

1. Attend training to become a certified “Chronic Disease Self-Management Program
[8]” Trainer, and train other trainers in Oregon disease associations.
2. Conduct communication, self-advocacy and SSDI seminars to Oregon disease associations, breaking down “silo disease associations”.
3. Continue Disabilitykey bloging, and providing the Disabilitykey Workbook.
4. Work through partnerships with local disease associations, and human resources associations, to educate HR professionals about ADA and reasonable accommodations.
5. Work with local partners to identify and resolve personal and professional problems that face disabled people. Ideas include: having local disease associations link to my blogs; soliciting ideas on associations’ websites; conducting informational meetings at disease associations, etc.
6. Work collaboratively with AAPD to take locally successful processes nationwide.


Thank you very much for the opportunity to be considered for this award. (691 words)

[1] I am using the word “disease” to cover also: illness, condition, and injury.
[2] LTD - Long Term Disability.
[3] ADA - Americans with Disability Act.
[4] SSDI - Social Security Disability Insurance.
[5] BIOGEN - Pharmaceutical Company that manufactures MS medications.
[6] Comments on assistance from About.com and the MS article can be found at the www.disabilitykey.com website; “About Us” link; “Reviews and Testimonials”.
[7] Ann Balzell, Program Director, Portland Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and the person who authored my letter of support.
[8] Established by Stanford University.

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