CfDC Minutes — January 5, 2011

Attending: Jack Bernard, Chair; Doug White, Vice Chair; Tracy Wright, Tom Bayer, Susan Bourrie, Nyshourn Price, Jason Towler (welcome!); Jennifer Krajcovic (welcome!); Carolyn Grawi; Margaret Hough; Christa Moron; Scott Williams; Els Nieuwenhuijsen; Carol Tucker; Leslie Rott (welcome!) ; Pam Baker-Trostle; Patricia Anderson (welcome!); Anna Ercoli Schnitzer (scribe).

Brief introductions were made around the table.

Susan addressed her difficulty in using UM web email with her screen reader. Several people (including Scott and Steve) have responded with offers to help improve this situation.

Jason described the Ypsilanti Public School program comprised of 273 students with a variety of disabilities. He is looking for jobs/jobsites that will allow the students to learn skills, offering free labor while they do so. There seem to be very limited possibilities this year (last year there were 12 offers, this year only — despite the fact that liability insurance is taken care of by the school). The new high school graduation requirements are very difficult to achieve for students with special needs. They can receive a Certificate of Completion, but this is not accepted by 4-year institutions. Many of the students are low income and many are emotionally impaired. How to bridge the gap to the workplace in view of the severe job shortage, particularly in Michigan?? Jason has a website and will advertise businesses that employ his students. There is a partnership with EMU for rebuilding computers. He and Jennifer are making presentations to try to interest employers in the students and to point out the advantages of hiring disabled workers. Michigan Rehabilitation Service closed many of its cases because of budget/staff constraints. Jason is trying to establish a microenterprise (creating his own business) to employ the students. Zingerman’s has a program that employs some individuals with disabilities and so does Busch’s. Funding in the State of Michigan is dropping even further providing a gloomy outlook for the future.

Jennifer is looking for places to accommodate a big group for recreational ventures. No funding is available for this purpose.

If anyone has any leads on job possibilities or even shadowing on jobs for his students, Jason Towler, Transition Coordinator for Ypsilanti Public Schools can be contacted at: .

Pam reported as a “street social worker” that self advocacy is the key and that the emotionally impaired teenagers have no role models. She also reported that Brian Close of the AATA worked to install a blue light at the library to indicate when a special taxi had arrived to pick up a special passenger; he would work with UM to make this happen, too, Pam said.

Jack stated that human services and programs will be cut for everyone, both statewide and nationwide; the numbers of un- and underemployed will dramatically increase. Money goes to “at risk” youth rather than to those with special needs, and the two funds are separate. The Michigan Commission for the Blind also closed some of its cases to save money.

Patricia described the success of Gentle Heron on Second Life, a medium that works very well for people with mobility and other challenges. Patricia suggested that Jason attend A2B3 (Ann Arbor Bi Bim Bop), which meets for lunch every Thursday at Eastern Accents on Fourth Ave., Ann Arbor. Employers sometimes announce job openings there.