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2014 B/CS Local Candidate Forum

2000px-Texas_flag_map.svg

Author: Andrew Morse, Special Project Coordinator at BVCIL

 shutterstock_155724839

 

On October 22, 2014 the Bryan/ College Station Chamber of Commerce, in conjunction with HEB markets and the George Bush Presidential Library, held a question and answer forum with the candidates for local government offices and the candidates for state government offices. The event was hosted by the George Bush library and broadcast live on WTAW 1620 AM and filmed for later streaming by KBTX.

The format was question and answer and each candidate was given about one minute to respond. The topics ranged from classroom size in local schools to the question of water rights at the state level. All of the candidates appeared well prepared, sincere, and knowledgeable in their responses. The event itself was very efficiently run. There was very little lag between each question and answer session and the moderator did an excellent job at holding the candidates to their time limit.

Overall, this was a very informative and enjoyable event. The questions were relevant to each office and it seemed like the candidates had enough time to relay their basic message to the public. For anyone interested in politics, seeing it on the local level is much different than it is at the national level. I would recommend anyone interested in government or politics to attend next year’s forum.

 


To listen or watch the forum in its entirety, click the following link:

http://www.kbtx.com/home/headlines/2014-Candidate-Forum-by-BryanCollege-Station-Chamber-of-Commerce-280204282.html


The following is a list of candidates that participated in the forum:

 

Bryan School Board Place

David Stasny (Incumbent)

Roy Flores

 

College Station School Board Place 6

Michael Schaffer

Kimberly McAdams (Incumbent)

 

State House of Representatives District 14

Andrew Metscher (Democrat)

Bruce Pugh (Libertarian)

 

State Senate

Joel Shapiro (Democrat)

Matt Whittingham (Libertarian)

 

College Station City Council Place 1

Blanche Brick (Incumbent)

Gabriel Pereira

 

College Station City Council Place 5

Linda Harvell

Julie Schultz (Incumbent)

 

Bryan City Council District 4

Mike Southerland

Kyle Incardona

Andrew Morse is our Special Projects Coordinator here at BVCIL. For more information on housing or questions about the above article, call us at 979-776-5505 and we’ll get you the information you are looking for.

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Affordable Housing Resource Guide

afford housing

Author: Andrew Morse, Special Project Coordinator at BVCIL

The following is an Affordable Housing Resource Guide for Bryan-College Station. This guide was put together by the Housing Consortium, a group of local agencies working together to improve availability and access to affordable housing in the B/CS area. You can view the images in a higher resolution and larger format by clicking on them.

 

AHRG page 1

 

Affordable Housing Resource-singles 29-8-14_Page_2

 

Affordable Housing Resource-singles 29-8-14_Page_3

 

Affordable Housing Resource-singles 29-8-14_Page_4

 

 

 

Andrew Morse is our Housing and Advocacy Specialist here at BVCIL. For more information on housing or questions about the above article, call us at 979-776-5505 and we’ll get you the information you are looking for.

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White Cane Safety Day

White Cane Heart 2

White Cane Heart 2

 

WHITE CANE SAFETY DAY: October 15

White Cane Safety Day has been celebrated around the world on October 15 of each year since its formal declaration in the United States in 1964. The date is set aside to celebrate the achievements of people who are blind or visually impaired and the important symbol of blindness and its tool of independence, the white cane.

Even before the first formal declaration of White Cane Safety Day, the first local law regarding the right of people who are blind to travel independently with the white cane was passed in 1930 in Peoria, IL. In 1966, Dr. Jacobus tenBroek, the founder of the National Federation of the Blind, drafted the model White Cane Law, which came to be known as the Civil Rights Bill for the Blind, the Disabled, and the Otherwise Physically Handicapped. The original wording of his law contained a provision designating October 15 as White Cane Safety Day. Today there is a variant of the White Cane Law on the statute books of every state in the U.S.

In 1963, the National Federation of the Blind assembled in convention and voted to encourage governors of all fifty states to proclaim October 15 as White Cane Safety Day. In response, a joint resolution of the U.S. Congress (H.R. 753), authorizing the President of the United States to proclaim October 15 of each year as White Cane Safety Day, was signed into law the next year. Almost immediately, President Lyndon B. Johnson officially proclaimed the first White Cane Safety Day in 1964, commending those who were blind for their growing spirit of independence and their increased determination to be self-reliant. The Proclamation has continued every year since. In 2011, White Cane Safety Day was also named Blind Americans Equality Day by President Barack Obama.

The State of Texas also recognizes White Cane Safety Day each year on October 15 with a formal Proclamation signed by the Governor. Local committees and organizations across the state hold celebrations, festivals, and awareness-raising events.

Attributions:

 

 

Article from: Office of the Governor Rick Perry, Committee on People with Disabilities

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ADA Technical Assistance For Polling Place Access for Voters with Disabilities

enter-polling
U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Disability Rights Section

Department of Justice seal


Solutions for Five Common ADA
Access Problems at Polling Places

Voting is one of our nation’s most fundamental rights and a hallmark of our democracy. Voting in-person on Election Day is the way most Americans cast their ballot and vote, but for far too long, many voters with disabilities who use wheelchairs or other mobility devices have had difficulties getting inside polling places to vote because of architectural barriers. Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires public entities to ensure that people with disabilities can access and use their voting facilities.

This publication provides a brief discussion of physical barriers to access in five commonly found areas at polling places: parking, sidewalks and walkways, building entrances, interior hallways, and the voting area itself. It is intended to assist election officials to meet their ADA obligation to provide polling places that are accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities. To provide access to the polling place, a route into and through the polling place must be accessible to voters with disabilities. This accessible route should connect each area, from parking to the voting area and back again and should be the same route all voters take. If this is not possible and alternate routes must be used to provide access for voters with disabilities, temporary signs should direct voters to and along these alternate accessible routes.

While locating polling places in accessible facilities makes ADA compliance more likely, there may be times when that is not possible and the use of temporary measures to provide access will be necessary.

overhead view of the front of a polling place

Entrance to a polling place with the accessible route
shown from parking and drop off areas into the polling place

Temporary Measures

While permanently removing architectural barriers is preferable, this document provides some low-cost, temporary solutions that can provide temporary access for people with disabilities on Election Day.

picture of person using a wheelchair entering polling place

A person using a wheelchair enters a polling place

Temporary measures may not be suitable for every polling place that has physical barriers that block access. For example, if the only entrance door at a polling place is 29 inches wide, then propping the door open or providing a doorbell for a poll worker to open the door will still not allow a person using a wheelchair or a walker to pass through the door. If another accessible entrance is not available, the door must either be permanently modified or the polling place must be relocated to an accessible facility.

Common Problems

Parking

Problem

Many polling places provide parking for voters but the provision of accessible parking is often overlooked. Parking areas may lack accessible parking spaces with adequate access aisles and signs, or may be on a sloped surface. Also, because other entrances – not the main entrance to the building – are commonly used as entry points to the polling place, especially at large facilities such as schools, permanent accessible parking may not be close to the entrance to the voting area.

All of these barriers can prevent voters with disabilities from reaching the polling place.

image showing a person using a scooter getting out of van at a temporary van parking space marked with traffic cones to create a  parking space and access aisle

A van parked in a temporary accessible parking space
marked with traffic cones to create the access aisle
and accessible route and a temporary ramp provides access to the sidewalk

ADA Requirements

Parking provided at the polling place must meet specific minimum width requirements for spaces and access aisles so voters with mobility disabilities can get out of their car or van. Generally, the access aisle must be of at least 60 inches wide for cars and 96 inches wide for vans. Van spaces can also have an access aisle at least 60 inches if the width of the van parking space is at least 132 inches. A sign, with the International Symbol of Accessibility, must mark each accessible parking space. Van-accessible spaces must be designated as such on the sign at these spaces. If only one accessible space is provided, it must be a van-accessible space. Accessible parking spaces must be in a level area with no steep slopes and on the shortest accessible route from parking to the accessible entrance to the polling place.

Temporary Solutions

Temporary parking must be located on the most level area available and as close to the accessible entrance as possible. Traffic cones and portable signs can be used to create accessible parking spaces and access aisles.

photo of a temporary sign providing direction

Temporary sign providing direction to the area for van-accessible parking

Sidewalks and Walkways

Problem

If sidewalks and walkways are in disrepair, it can be difficult, and sometimes impossible, for a voter using a wheelchair or other mobility device to safely navigate to the polling place. Often, sidewalks and walkways are uneven, cracked, or contain potholes, gravel, dirt, or grass. Some sidewalks do not include curb ramps or, if they do, the ramped section is too narrow or steep.

Photo of a sidewalk with broken pavement, raised sections, and patches

A sidewalk with raised and broken sections is a barrier to access

ADA Requirements

Sidewalk or walkway surfaces must be at least 36 inches wide, without abrupt level changes (no level change greater than ½ inch), and the surface must be stable, firm, and slip resistant. Curb ramps should not be too steep (no steeper than 1:12).

Temporary Solutions

Temporary plates (no more than ½ inch thick) can be used to cover holes or cracks and provide a more level walkway. Ramps at least 36 inches wide, with a slope no more than 1:12, may be used to provide temporary access over curbs or onto sidewalks.

Entrances

Problem

The entrance area must be level (no level change greater than ½ inch) and should not slope steeply in any one direction. All door openings must provide a minimum width of 32 inches and there must also be enough room for a person using a wheelchair to maneuver to open the door, including 18 inches of clear space beyond the latch side of the door. Additionally, the door hardware must not require tight grasping, pinching, or twisting, and the height of the door threshold must not be greater than ½ inch.

ADA Requirements

The entrance area must be level (no level change greater than ½ inch) and should not slope steeply in any one direction. All door openings must provide a minimum width of 32 inches and there must also be enough room for a person using a wheelchair to maneuver to open the door, including 18 inches of clear space beyond the latch side of the door. Additionally, the door hardware must not require tight grasping, pinching, or twisting, and the height of the door threshold must not be greater than ½ inch.

Temporary Solutions

The use of temporary ramps can provide access over steps or high thresholds. If the area in front of the door is not level or does not provide adequate maneuvering space, then the door may be propped open to allow the person using a wheelchair to enter the polling place. If one door of a double-leaf door is not wide enough, propping open the second door may provide enough clearance. In some circumstances, temporary levers or other adapters that do not require tight grasping, pinching, or twisting, may be installed over existing door hardware to provide independent access. Alternatively, a temporary doorbell or buzzer system may be used to alert a poll worker to open the door or doors for the voter.

image showing a door to a polling place being held open by staff

Entry doors to the polling place can be
propped open or opened by staff to provide access

image showing a temporary ramp installed at the entrance to a polling place

A temporary ramp with handrails and edge
protection provides access over steps

Hallways

Problem

man who is blind walking with a white cane runs into a drinking fountain that is a protruding object

In many polling places, particularly those in large facilities such as schools and apartment buildings, hallways contain drinking fountains, coat racks, fire extinguishers, and other protruding objects. These objects may pose hazards to voters with vision disabilities, who may bump into them if they are not detectable by a sweep of a cane.

ADA Requirements

Wall-mounted objects located between 27 inches and 80 inches above the floor may not protrude or stick out from the wall more than 4 inches.

Temporary Solutions

Place traffic cones or other cane-detectable barriers, such as planters or portable railings, at or under protruding objects. Cane-detectable barriers can also be placed to re-direct voters with vision disabilities around or away from the protruding object. An alternate pedestrian route that does not include the protruding object, if available, may be appropriate.

image showing several wall-mounted objects mounted so they are not protruding objects and a man using a white cane using the base of the wall as a shoreline

A voter who is blind walks along a corridor with wall-mounted objects
that are not protruding objects because they do not protrude
more than 4 inches from the wall,
are mounted above 80 inches or are recessed into an alcove

Voting Areas

Problem

Voting often occurs in a small room or area within a building, with little space at the check-in tables and voting machines, making it difficult for voters with mobility disabilities to move through the voting area and cast their ballots. In winter months or during the rainy season, election officials may use cardboard, plastic floor coverings, tarps, or mats to cover the floor. These coverings can make it difficult to navigate and can easily become trip hazards for voters with disabilities and others.

ADA Requirements

There must be a minimum 36 inch wide route in and through the voting area. There also must be enough clear floor space in at least one voting station or booth to allow a voter using a wheelchair or other mobility device to approach, maneuver, and leave the voting station. Floor surfaces must be stable, firm, and slip resistant.

Temporary Solutions

Arrange check-in tables and voting stations to provide an accessible path for the voter to go from the check-in table to the voting station and out again. At least one voting station should provide at least 30 x 48 inches of clear floor space to allow a voter using a wheelchair or other mobility device to maneuver. All floor coverings, such as cardboard or plastic sheets, should be removed or firmly affixed to the floor to provide a stable and slip-resistant floor.

image showing a woman using a power wheelchair pulling up to an accessible voting machine

An accessible voting station with clear floor space

view of a polling place showing accessible route and turning space.

Overhead view of the polling place showing
the accessible route and maneuvering spaces
for voters who use mobility devices

Voting Access: Where to Start

To provide temporary access to voters with disabilities, election officials should always keep in mind the accessible route into and through the polling place. Understanding how all voters arrive at the polls, park or drop people off, move through the facility and the voting area, and back out again will help identify physical barriers that will need to be remediated. Using the tools discussed in this document can provide temporary access and will ensure that voters with disabilities can fully participate in the election process.

Voting Access: Some Useful Resources

This document provides guidance on providing temporary access to polling places. Election officials should note that the ADA requires jurisdictions to select polling sites that are accessible or can be made accessible for elections. The ADA title II regulation and the ADA Standards for Accessible Design set out what makes a facility accessible and should be used to determine the level of accessibility at each facility being used or considered for use as a polling place. Election officials should consult the Justice Department’s ADA Checklist for Polling Places for more detailed guidance on how to assess whether a polling place is fully accessible to voters with disabilities or if barriers can be removed.

The Checklist, title II regulation, and the ADA Standards are available at
www.ada.gov.

In addition, election officials should consult the Department’s 7-page publication on the rights of voters with disabilities, The Americans with Disabilities Act and Other Federal Laws Protecting the Rights of Voters with Disabilities, also available at www.ada.gov.

 

You can go to the following link to fill out a survey that will allow Disability Rights Texas to know if your polling place is accessible:
Accessible Polling Survey

For More Information

For information about the ADA, please visit our website or call our toll-free number.

ADA Information Line
800-514-0301 (Voice) and 800-514-0383 (TTY)
24 hours a day to order publications by mail.
Monday – Wednesday, F
9:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.,
Th 12:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. (Eastern Time) to speak with an ADA Specialist.  All calls are confidential.

ADA Website
www.ADA.gov

To receive e-mail notifications when new ADA information is available, visit the ADA Website’s home page and click the link near the lower right corner of the page.

October 9, 2014

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Fair Housing P.U.S.H.

p

Author: Sandra Becerra, Independent Living Facilitator at BVCIL

Many people don’t realize their right to request accommodations and modifications to their homes when they have a disability. Use the acronym PUSH to help you remember your rights as a person with disabilities to get what you need in order to live more independently.

 p
Push for the right…

…to live without barriers in homes where people with disabilities desire to live.

 

 

u
Until you request it…

…it may not get done. Request accommodations and modifications to common areas/entrances (must be reasonable).

 

 

s
Do Something!

Know your rights, ask questions, educate yourself as well as your landlord. No response is unacceptable!

 

 

h


Make it happen!

Follow-up and take action; Non-compliance from the landlord is discrimination. File a complaint with Housing Discrimination/U.S. Department of Housing.

 

 

Remember that you have these rights to request these things.

So, PUSH until something happens!

Websites for more information or help:
-http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/fair_housing_equal_opp/14disability

-www.HUD.gov

-http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/private-and-public-sector-guidance/guidance-for-all/pre-equality-act-guidance/guidance-for-service-users-pre-october-2010/housing-and-property

Sandra Becerra is our Job and Housing Specialist here at BVCIL. For more information on housing or questions about the above article, call us at 979-776-5505 and we’ll get you the information you are looking for.

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Thank you, Grace!

Nice-Thank-You-Image

We wanted to take the time to recognize one of our volunteers for her outstanding work with BVCIL. We nominated Grace to be the “Shining Star” of 2-1-1’s weekly newsletter, Community Information Digest. Below you can read the excerpt from the newsletter about her efforts and the things she has done for Brazos Valley Center for Independent Living:

Brazos Valley Center for Independent Living (BVCIL) would like to honor a volunteer who has provided many hours of class support since January 2013 – Grace! Grace does not volunteer as part of Service Learning project or a service requirement for a campus organization. She sought us out after researching local volunteer opportunities; we are very grateful she did!

Grace initially provided Origami classes twice per month, bringing her own supplies and prepping for lessons. Grace volunteers for other types of art and recreation classes and assisted at Book Club last year when we needed her. Where ever there is a need, she finds time to help out around her full-time TAMU class schedule.

Grace is always very patient and kind to any class participants. Grace volunteers year-round. Some examples of her dedication: this summer, she volunteered to assist with Teen+ Summer Camp for two hours a day/4 days in August, and in July she was a big help at the ADA Celebration at Tiffany Park, despite the excessive heat- very cheerily teaching Origami and assisting with crafts. Grace always smiles, shows effort to learn participants’ names, and makes sure they know that she values their abilities in whatever task she is supporting. BVCIL staff truly appreciate Grace’s gift of her time, sharing her talents with others, and her serene personality- she always helps with ‘clean up’ after class, is able to observe who needs the most encouragement and always asks if there are ways she can assist. Grace is truly valued for her support of our mission.

Thank you, Grace, for your many hours and talents that you have provided us. You have been a wonderful example for our community and for all that have walked through our doors.

thankyou_Arizona

-BVCIL Staff

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Accessibility Help Desk

Accessibility Booth Banner

Logo for Texas Reds Festival. The picture is an outline of the State of Texas with a giant t-bone steak covering from the tip of Texas near Brownsville to about Ft. Worth.  The steak has a cluster of purple grapes with a green vine situated on top of the steak as if stretching horizontally from the Texas New Mexico border to the Texas Arkansas border.ANDBrazos Valley Center for Independent Living logo

Look for the Accessibility Help Desk near the shuttle drop off location.  Below is a list of what you will find at the help desk. This is a community service brought to you by the Brazos Valley Center for Independent Living. Please stop by and say howdy!

  • Information about:
    • Accessible parking;
    • Transportation options;
    • Restrooms;
    • Exit routes;
    • Accessible routes; and
    • Where to find gluten free food options.
  • Materials in alternate formats:
    • Tactile maps; and
    • Braille schedules.
  • Concierge services/items including:
    • Long bendable straws;
    • Wheelchair charging station;
    • Loaner wheelchair;
    • Service animal relief area;
    • Transportation; and
    • Designated driver services.
  • On-site services:
    • Sighted-guides;
    • Sign Language Interpreting; and
    • Personal Attendants.

The BVCIL is a consumer-based, consumer-controlled, cross-disability, cross-cultural, non-residential, private nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation. BVCIL’s mission is to promote the full inclusion and participation of individuals with disabilities in all aspects of community life.

 

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HIRING @ Department of Disability Services (TAMU)

Now Hiring

Program Coordinator for Adaptive Technology Services

 
BRIEF POSITION OVERVIEW
The Program Coordinator for Adaptive Technology Services is responsible for the alternative format production process and the management of assistive technology (software and hardware) used by students with disabilities affiliated with the Department of Disability Services.
 
RESPONSIBILITIES

 

  • Coordinate, monitor and assist with the alternative format production process for audio books, electronic text, large print, and Braille.
  • Assess assistive technology (AT) needs and provides training and support to students who use AT equipment and software. 
  • Conduct presentations and workshops for students, faculty and staff to increase general knowledge of assistive technology and alternative format materials.
  • Manage AT equipment and software inventory.  Maintain lending library. Keep up to date on new technology and make recommendations for upgrades and purchases.
  • Recruit, hire, train, supervise and evaluate 4-8 student assistants.
  • Assist with maintaining department websites and databases ensuring that web accessibility standards are met.
  • Work supportively within the department, providing coverage to the main office and testing center when assigned.
  • Consult with campus units and departments regarding accessibility issues and laws.
  • Serve on University, Division and Departmental committees and task forces.
  • Evening work and/or travel may be required.
  • Other duties as assigned.

 

 
QUALIFICATIONS

 

  • Required Education & Experience: Bachelor’s degree or any equivalent combination of training and experience. Three years of administrative experience.

 

 

 

  • Preferred Education & Experience: Bachelor’s degree in information technology, special education or closely related field. Three (3) or more years of related administrative experience (assistive technology, information technology, educational technology, disability services, etc.). -OR – Master’s degree in educational technology, rehabilitation counseling, special education, information technology or related field and one (1) or more years of related administrative experience.

 

 

 

  • Special Knowledge: Preferred knowledge of working with adults with disabilities in higher education, broad knowledge of disabilities, and thorough knowledge of assistive technology and alternative format production. Knowledge of web accessibility, captioning and/or Braille transcription.

 

 

 

  • Salary:  $33,700-39,500

 

 

 

  • Application Deadline: Review of applications will begin June 19, 2014 and will continue until position is filled.  Preferred application deadline is July 1, 2014.

 

 
 
ABOUT THE UNIVERSITY AND DEPARTMENT
Texas A&M University is a land-grant, sea-grant, and space-grant institution located in College Station, Texas. The university is centrally located, approximately equidistant from three of the ten largest cities in the United States (Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio) and the state capital (Austin). The university’s enrollment is more than 50,000 students studying for degrees in twelve academic colleges including the Health Science Center and School of Law.
 
The Department of Disability Services is one of seventeen departments in the Division of Student Affairs.  Disability Services promotes an inclusive environment at Texas A&M University by facilitating appropriate accommodations, empowering students to be self-advocates, and educating the campus community.  Disability Services offers accommodations counseling, evaluation referral, disability-related information, adaptive technology services, sign language interpreting and transcription services for academically related purposes. 
 
 
TO APPLY
All applicants must complete the official university online application at http://jobpath.tamu.edu
 

 

  • See posting number S00990FY14

 

 
 
All correspondence and questions related to the positions and search should be directed to:
 
Tracey Forman, Assistant Director and Search Committee Chair
Department of Disability Services
Cain Hall B118, 1224 TAMU
College Station, Texas  77843-1224
 
Telephone:  (979) 845-1637
Fax:             (979) 458-1214
Email:          traceyf@disability.tamu.edu
Website:      http://disability.tamu.edu
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Congratulations Kristin!

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A big congrats goes out to our Health & Fitness Facilitator, Kristin Valadez on her recent graduation from Texas A&M University with a Bachelor’s degree in Animal Science. Kristin will also start working full-time with us over the summer!

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