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Disability Network Southwest Michigan

Independence Leads to Advocacy

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Nicole, a 34-year-old Barry County resident, identifies as having several disabilities, including a leg amputation. Nicole was working with Michigan Rehabilitation Services (MRS) to find employment and her counselor made a referral to Disability Network for Social Security Benefit Planning services to see how employment may impact her benefits. As a result, Nicole learned about freedom to work Medicaid and the Ticket to Work program and started seeking work from home opportunities.

Nicole also identified barriers to living independently that she wanted to address, including assistance with navigating the ACA Marketplace which allowed Nicole to find a health coverage that fit her needs. Nicole had an in-home OT evaluation completed and then Disability Network staff and her looked into numerous community resources for funding for home modifications to make it more accessible for her. Nicole was ultimately able to obtain furniture for her living area that allows her greater accessibility and independence.

Nicole also became involved with a few of the support and advocacy groups through Disability Network, including the Kalamazoo County Access team. The Access team works on projects that improve accessibility for people with disabilities in Kalamazoo County and educates businesses and community leaders about barriers to full inclusion. Nicole is now looking at what the Access team has started in Kalamazoo County and wants to bring this type of advocacy efforts to Barry County. She said “I want to bring awareness of accessibility to my own county.”

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