Advocate for the Disability Community in New Jersey: Your Voice Matters

advocate for disability community

The COVID-19 pandemic hit the world hard. Life came to a screeching halt, and for almost two years everything we did, like how we work, our interactions, and even getting food and common household staples became challenges.

For the disability community, life became even harder and the world even narrower. Many with sensory conditions found themselves unable to wear masks and shop. People saw their services shuttered and their hard-won skill progression erode.

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How Do You Measure Inclusion in the Workplace?

graph how to measure inclusion in the workplace

When it comes to hiring in the workplace, diversity is a rather easy area to measure. It’s not difficult to make goals and measure metrics to assure the Human Resources recruiters are hitting various targets.

On the other hand, measuring inclusion is far more difficult. In a sense, the only way to truly measure inclusion is by starting to have conversations with various teams at your company. From management down, ask questions and not only listen to answers, but create strategies to integrate new ideas for inclusionary practices into your company’s culture.

Asking these questions could include personal 1:1 meetings with teams and managers, managers sending out micro surveys to their teams, or by a companywide annual employee survey asking employees to share their opinions anonymously. Yes, you’ll have to ask the hard questions… so be ready to read what could be harsh responses. However, employee feedback is the only way to truly gauge if your company is doing its role to be part of the DEI solution, rather than adding to the problem.

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Help Make Inclusionary Language Accessible

two images of people smiling

Sticks & Stones May Break Your Bones, But WORDS Matter Too

There’s no doubt about it, some people think before speaking; their mind-to-mouth edit filter is in full functioning order, and some who suffer terribly from “open mouth, insert foot” syndrome. When this happens, it’s usually the listener who bears the brunt of the faux pas.

Since July is Disability Pride Month, we thought now would be a great time to look at how people communicate when talking about disabilities. Most people could use a refresher course in inclusionary language.

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Creative Ways to Keep Connected This Winter

Creative ways to keep connected this Winter

Wintertime can be challenging for many people, especially during this socially distant time. Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, many family members were separated for the holidays and were not able to participate in their usual family traditions. It is so important to check in with your mental health and make extra efforts to connect with loved ones. Cold, snowy weather has even made outdoor dining and activities hard to find.

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5 Ways to Make the Most of Your Next Telehealth Therapy Appointment

5 Ways to Make the Most of Your Next Telehealth Appointment

Telehealth for Your Mental Health

Tablet with a bunch of cloud connections atop it - money, writing, etc.

Let’s face it – 2020 has been a bad year for mental health. Not only have our lives been upended by a deadly pandemic, one of the best ways to cope with the mental backlash has been affected as well. Attending therapy can be beneficial in many ways; however, during these challenging times therapy can provide additional support. Thankfully, telehealth is quickly becoming the new and accepted alternative to traditional as opposed to in-person therapy.

With the rise of secure streaming technologies, we can meet with our therapist while staying safe in the comfort of our own homes. Still, this can be different and sometimes require us to make adjustments if we’re going to get the most out of our telehealth sessions. Here are some tips to help make this transition a little easier:

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  1. Check to see if you have access to the right technology for your appointment. Different providers have different platforms they’re using to administer telehealth sessions. Do you need a computer? A microphone? A broadband internet connection? Speak with your provider beforehand and ensure you have the equipment you need to speak with your therapist.
  2. If you don’t live alone, finding a private place for your appointment can be difficult. You want to make sure others in your home cannot overhear your conversations. Ensure those you live with know you are having an appointment and ask them to respect your privacy by staying away from the room where you are having your session. Utilizing earbuds or headphones with a microphone attachment can be helpful for this as well. You won’t have to speak as loudly and you’ll be the only one who can hear your therapist. You can ask your housemates to put on headphones during this time as well (ask them to catch up on their latest podcast or listen to some music)
  3. Try to minimize distractions during your session. Turn off your phone, email, and any other notifications that could pop up during your appointment. Maximize the chat window so you don’t see anything on your desktop that could catch your attention. Also, remember to clear your physical space as well. Maybe leave yourself one thing to fidget with if that keeps you focused, but otherwise try to keep your space clear and clean so you can focus on your session.
  4. Since you are not “commuting” to and from your therapist’s office, allow time to decompress after your session. Sometimes that commute allows for a recovery time we don’t often consider, with that buffer removed from your therapy routine, you need to make time for a transition. Allow yourself 10 minutes after your session to listen to music, stretch, or do some yoga prior to return to normal household activities.
  5. Not commuting to therapy also allows individuals a greater chance of keeping therapy appointments because there are fewer obstacles to overcome. However, don’t allow these appointments to catch you off-guard just because of their convenience. There are still often penalties for missing an appointment. Set a reminder on your phone for a few minutes before the appointment to ensure you’re on time and prepared. The more you do this, the more of a habit it will become.

Remote Counseling Works!

We hope you are able to use these tips to make the most of your next telehealth therapy appointment. It’s incredibly important to take some time to nurture your mental health during this time of isolation and uncertainty. We hope you’ll take advantage of telehealth counseling, but there are also steps you can take to provide self-care. We encourage you to read up on our tips on how to stay “mental healthy” during the pandemic. Easterseals offers telehealth accommodations for some services so if you’re interested, please visit our website and let us know how we can help.

Do you have any other advice on how to make the most of telehealth appointments? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Five Things People with Disabilities Should Know About Voting

Vote 2020

Know Your Voting Rights

The election is right around the corner, taking place on Tuesday, November 3. At Easterseals New Jersey, we want voting to be as easy and accessible an experience as possible. That’s why we have put together a list of five things voters with disabilities need to know about their voting rights, how they can vote, and where to turn should they have any questions.

  1. The upcoming election will be a vote-by-mail election. However, if you are unable to vote by mail, in-person voting will be available in at least one polling place per municipality. Please contact your local County Clerk for more information on available locations and accommodations.
  2. Voting is your right as a citizen and no one should tell you otherwise. If you are experiencing challenges voting, please call 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683). You can also request assistance in voting by filling out our 2020 Voting Pledge!
  3. Polling places MUST be accessible to disabled voters. Do not be afraid to speak up if you feel your rights are being violated. To learn more about voting rights in New Jersey, please check out the State Division of Elections Voter Rights and Accessibility webpage here.
  4. You are allowed to, but not required to have someone help you vote. For in-person voting, this can be a poll-worker or someone you bring with you. Any person may assist you in completing a vote-by-mail ballot.
  5. You have the right to vote privately and independently. If someone is violating your right to vote privately and independently, please call 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683) to report your situation and receive assistance.
Vote 2020 disability / disabled

This only a shortlist of important items, so please let us know if you have any additional questions about how to ensure you can vote in 2020. You can also check out our Voting Information Center website for more detailed information and helpful voting tools.

Happy voting!

Enrich Your Quarantine Watchlist With Disability Content Worth Watching

Disability shows movies streaming

At the moment, most of us are stuck inside trying to keep ourselves entertained until this period of quarantine concludes. A great way to pass the time is by immersing yourself in a new show or movie. When looking for something to watch, most of us like to pick a story we can see ourselves in. If that’s the case, why do we rarely see movies or tv shows that portray characters with disabilities, especially in main roles? Furthermore, how often are these characters played by actors with the disability they are portraying? 

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The Pandemic Mental Health Advice Not Enough People Are Talking About

Covid-19 mental health

Here’s What You’re Probably Not Hearing Enough of…

If you check the news or head to social media, you will surely be met with endless headlines of COVID-19 related news and health warnings. You will probably be given tons of virus-related advice and instructions on how to stay physically healthy. What you are less likely to hear, however, is a reminder to check in on your mental health.  

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YOU Count, so Be Counted: 2020 Census

US Census 2020

Why Should I Fill Out the Census?

Because it’s important to people with disabilities and their families!

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Every 10 years, the United States counts everyone who lives in the country, regardless of age, nationality or ability. It is important that everyone – especially individuals and families living with a disability – respond to the 2020 Census. Information collected in the Census will inform the allocation of more than $675 billion in federal funds for states and communities each year for the next decade. That includes money for services that ensure people with disabilities have access to the supports they need to thrive!

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