International conference on Disability Law presented on Second Life

Virtual Ability, Inc. a disability rights community with an active presence on Second Life® will be presenting an International Disability Rights Affirmation Conference on Saturday and Sunday, July 23/24, in Second Life.

In 2006, the United Nations held a Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The text of the Convention was adopted by the UN General Assembly, and now has over 100 signatory states, including the US and the European Union.

Legislation to protect the rights of persons with disabilities is becoming common around the world. However, the June 9 World Health Organization study, the World Report on Disability, found significant barriers to equal access for persons with disabilities still exist.

This international conference will begin to explore legal protections around the world for persons with disabilities. Featured panels of persons from around the world will discuss local legislation that supports the rights of persons with disabilities. Panelists come from Australia, Belgium, Costa Rica, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and the UK.

Featured presenters include Scott Gill, Simon Walsh, Sister Abeyante, and Roberta Walker Kilkenny.

Gill is Executive Director of Access 2 independence, a Center for Independent Living in Iowa, US; he will talk about the independence movement. Walsh is head of his own consulting firm in the UK; he will compare the US ADA legislation with the UK’s DDA. Abeyante is a Salvatorian Sister; she will discuss advocacy for disability (civil and human) rights. Kilkenny is a college instructor; she will present about the significance of the UN Convention.

Presentations by the National Service Inclusion Project and the Job Accommodation Network will highlight disability services available in the US. Other sessions will feature peer support, comedy, and dance, both as part of the affirmation celebration.

Presentations will take place in Sojourner Auditorium on Virtual Ability Island within Second Life: http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Virtual%20Ability/54/170/23. The full schedule of confirmed presenters is posted inworld, and at http://virtualability.org/IDRAC2011.aspx.

Alzheimer’s Caregiver support group to begin on Second Life

As I was reviewing my blog just now, I realized that I have not posted in quite a while.  I am now a caregiver for a relative with Alzheimer’s Disease and have been quite busy.  My new role has given me a personal view of what it is like to live with a permanent disability.  Unfortunately it has left me little time to post on my blog.  There has been a great deal of news in the legal world of Social Security Disability and I have many items to write about so I hope to be returning soon on a more regular basis to post.

In the meantime, I would like to mention two items of interest to people who may be caring for an individual with Alzheimer’s.  First, the Social Security Administration processes claims for an individual who has “early-onset Alzheimer’s disease” under the compassionate allowance policy.  This means that the Social Security Administration acknowledges that the individual has a serious disability and will process the claim quickly and with minimal medical evidence.  If you are caring for someone with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, you should assist him or her as soon as possible to apply.  The income will no doubt be beneficial.

Second, from personal experience, I highly recomend joining a caregiver support group.   The Alzheimer Association is a wonderful organization and can assist you in locating a group.  I am pleased that I can also recommend a new online caregiver support group on Second Life©.  On Monday, August 30, 2010 at 5:30 p.m. (SL time), Zsuzsa Tomsen (RL: Susan Toth-Cohen, PhD, OTR/L) will  discuss  best ways to manage difficult situations when caring for persons with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Zsuzsa will first summarize and discuss key strategies found most helpful for caregivers in a research study  using examples from the best-selling book, The 36 Hour Day. Then,  participants will be asked to share their experiences about their own “best practices” for successful negotiating and managing challenging situations in caregiving.  The discussion will take place at http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Fatimas%20Cherished/232/85/26

I hope you will join us.  If you have any questions about how to log onto Second Life and finding our group, please feel free to contact me.

Continuing Legal Education seminar on attorneys with disabilities offered in Second Life

In February I became president of the Second Life® Bar Association. I am excited about the upcoming year and hope to bring new educational content to our members and create networking opportunities between members and other users of Second Life.

It may surprise you to learn that people who are disabled are most active on Second Life. Those folks who have physical disabilities in real life find that Second Life provides them with opportunities to engage in activities without regard to physical limitation. One of the biggest communities in Second Life is an organization called  “Virtual Ability.  The folks of Virtual Ability help people with all disabilities learn to navigate in Second Life. They also provide real life support – mental health counseling, assistance with obtaining devices to use computers. and much more I could write a post (and maybe I will) about the wonderful work that the volunteers at Virtual Ability do.    For now, I hope you will check out Virtual Ability’s website.

I am proud that the Second Life Bar Association and Virtual Ability will be co-sponsoring a seminar on bias in the legal profession that will focus on attorneys with disabilities.   This seminar has been approved for one hour of continuing legal education credit, including the one hour on bias in the legal profession. For those of us in California who need that one hour of credit in that area, we know how hard it is to obtain.  Linda Batiste and Beth Loy from the Job Accommodation Network, West Virginia University will be discussing the professional work environment for lawyers with disabilities. They will discuss barriers faced by attorneys with disabilities and what employers need to do in order to accommodate lawyers with disabilities.

Linda Carter Batiste, JD, is a Principal Consultant with the Job Accommodation Network (JAN), a free consulting service funded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy.   She has in-depth training on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and employment law as well as accommodations related to mobility impairments, emergency evacuation, and substance abuse.

Dr. Beth Loy is a Principal Consultant with the Job Accommodation Network (JAN). She is a national researcher and speaker in the disability field and has a Ph.D. in Resource Economics with a specialization in social policy. At JAN, she provides research, writing, and statistics support regarding accommodation benefits and costs and the economic impact of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The seminar will take place on March 17, 2010 at 12:00 noon, pacific standard time on Second Life. For more information and to register, please check the website of the Second Life Bar Association or feel free to contact me directly.