Skipper’s story

Having spent 35 years of my life living quite independent of government services and support systems there came a day when my lifestyle irrevocably changed. A new medical
condition increased my level of disability to the point where even previously simple tasks, such as transferring on and off the bed, or into the shower, or car, became too
difficult to do alone. At that moment it felt like my life, as I knew it, was over. In an attempt to remain free of external support and care I placed the onus and responsibility for my extra care on my wife. Ignoring the fact that her health was on the decline, what with heart surgery then cancer, she took on the extra burden without questioning it.

Eventually, however, the early morning rituals, the day-time support and the night-time needs, all became too much, even for someone as determined as my wife. I actually thought my family life was over. My independence gone and I seriously contemplated taking steps to go into a nursing home or the Quad Centre. It was a terrible thought. No more waking up in the sweet silence of my own bedroom with the sun shining through, then, later, with a fully charged chair heading off for an early morning excursion through the park or along the coast with my dog, no afternoon tea on the patio, being alone, or setting my own timetable for the day. It was a frightening time in my life.

I had known that it might come to this one day. I had friends who had made this hard transition, some by choice, others by necessity. But like each of us I thought of myself as different.
It was a telephone call from a friend who knew I was struggling that made all the difference. She suggested I contact the LAC in my area and ask for some help. Despite having worked for the government I had little knowledge of what was available by way of information, support, advocacy, funding. It took the LAC a long time to convince me that he was not going
to interfere, or take over my life – he was there to help; he was there to set in motion actions that would keep me in my home with a quality of life that, even with the best of intentions, a
nursing home cannot offer.

His knowledge and determination to diffuse my fears and help me retain the life we had built was overwhelming. Together over weeks of regular phone calls and home visits we  dentified each problem, each concern and found the answers to my needs and our needs as a family. One by one systems were established, timetables were set out and my transport problems were addressed. Today, some four LACs later, I still wake up in my own bedroom, I still walk my dog each day, I can relax in my own garden and I can reflect on just how
much my life has changed, and not changed. Thanks to the creation of a unique system of holistic care infused with incredibly caring and creative individuals – my life is still

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NAD Board of Directors Approve New ASL Position Statement

The Board of Directors of the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) approved a new position statement on American Sign Language (ASL) at its January 2008 meeting in Santa Fe, NM. The NAD reaffirmed its stance that acquisition of language from birth is a human right for every person, and that deaf infants and children should be given the opportunity to
acquire and develop proficiency in ASL as early as possible. ASL is recognized as the sign language of the American deaf community.

“This ASL position statement now brings us full circle and draws upon the original values of our founders,” said Bobbie Beth Scoggins, NAD President. “Since 1880, the NAD has worked
tirelessly to preserve, protect, and promote ASL as human right. The NAD also strongly believes in the right of deaf children to achieve linguistic fluency in both ASL and English so that they can become fully participating, contributing, and productive members of American society.”

To view the full position statement in ASL and English, visit www.nad.org/ASLposition.

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AbilityNews Gets a Facelift

You may have noticed some recent changes to the look and feel of AbilityNews. Michael Croft, an expert in print and design graphics has joined the AbilityNews team. Michael is
employed at The Billings Gazette, and also does freelance graphic and design work as MC Design. We are very excited about the new ideas that Michael brings to the AbilityNews
team, and to have the support of someone with a professional background in media print and design.

For over three years, my wife and I have worked behind the scenes at AbilityNews providing layout and design support. Now, my role will evolve to include additional marketing and
editing support. My wife will appreciate the extra few hours of “free time” – with five young kids at home, every minute of down-time matters. In any case, AbilityNews expresses
gratitude to Brenda Snizek for her gracious, unheralded support over the years!

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Message from Vern

When I was little I didn’t think that I would have two wonderful kids, a job that I liked doing, and good people around me. I have had a lot of difficult challenges in my life, but I have faced them head-on and I am going to keep doing it with the help of my family and friends. My girls mean the world to me because I had a doctor tell me that I wasn’t going to amount to much. He was obviously wrong, and I obviously didn’t listen to him.

When I became a father I thought that it would be easy but it wasn’t. There was a ton of new responsibilities to learn. I want to thank my grandmother for being the good example that she is, and along with my parents, helping me to raise my own children. My kids are very good kids, they are number one in my life. Thanks for reading!

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