Archived Story

More doors opening up for self-advocates

Published 4:40pm Saturday, March 10, 2012

A national group launching this week is one of a growing number of opportunities for people with disabilities to take a lead in the advocacy community.

The new group known as the National Council of Self Advocates is an initiative of The Arc and is open to the organization’s members with disabilities from across the country.

It’s being billed as a chance for self-advocates to network, educate the public and become community leaders.

“This is an opportunity for us to voice our opinions and show what self-advocates across the country care about,” said Joe Meadours, one of three self-advocates who sit on The Arc’s national board and will head up the new council. “If we don’t have the proper services we won’t have a quality life.”

While there are organizations led entirely by people with disabilities, there has been a growing movement toward including those with developmental disabilities in leadership positions traditionally held by family members, professionals and other interested parties.

In addition to The Arc, the National Council on Disability, the President’s Committee on People with Intellectual Disabilities and Autism Speaks are among the groups headed by typically developing individuals that have tapped those with developmental disabilities to serve in recent years.

 Obama Administration to increase scrutiny of special ed

Federal education officials say they’re looking to encourage better academic achievement among students with disabilities rather than simply ensuring schools follow the law.

In an announcement late last week, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said his agency’s special education division will be retooling its annual school reviews, which are designed to assess whether or not services are being provided to those with disabilities as required under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

Officials say they’ve been successful at verifying that appropriate resources are in place for students with disabilities, but acknowledge that more needs to be done to improve outcomes.

“For too long we’ve been a compliance-driven bureaucracy when it comes to educating students with disabilities,” Duncan said.

“We have to expect the very best from our students — and tell the truth about student performance — so that we can give all students the supports and services they need. The best way to do that is by focusing on results.”

Specifically, Education Department officials say they’re looking to find ways to spur increased academic performance and graduation rates.

Officials provided few details about how they hope to accomplish this, but said they will be halting the site-visit portion of their annual reviews for the coming school year so that a better review system can be devised that focuses on improving outcomes.

Your support makes the difference

The 17th Annual Rose Sale will be held Feb. 21 – March 27 with pick-up /delivery date of April 3 (Tuesday before Easter).

Let someone know that you care and support the work of The Arc of Mower County by supporting our 17th Annual Rose Sale.

Order forms are available on our website at or you may use the insert in the February 2012 and March 2012 editions of VISIONS.

You can also email your orders to and mail your payment to The Arc.

The 2nd Annual Taste of Mower County will be held 4:30 – 7:30 on Saturday, March 24 in the Holiday Inn Grand Ballroom in Austin.

Enjoy unlimited tastings of signature offerings from Mower County’s finest chefs. Tickets are available now and cost $25 for individual or $40 for couples.

There are sponsorship opportunities available with great benefits.

 Upcoming Events

•Monday: Health and Wellness Exercise Class, from 4 to 5 p.m.

•Tuesday: Movie and Munchies, from 6 to 8 p.m.

•Wednesday: Mower County Special Olympics Bowling, from 4 to 5:30 p.m.

•Thursday: Newsletter assembly, from 2 to 4 p.m.; Karaoke, from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

•Friday: St. Patrick’s Dance, from 6 to 8 p.m.

•Saturday: Wii and Dice Bowling, from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.

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