Hoping to receive feedback from individuals with disabilities, advocates and other interested individuals, the Kentucky Office of Vocational Rehabilitation hosted a forum recently at the Harlan County Extension Depot. A large group of concerned individuals, including Harlan’s own Pathfinders for Independent Living, were on hand to answer questions about available services and needs.
“This is a planning meeting for the three-year state independent living plan,” said Pathfinder for Independent Living Director Sandra Goodwyn. “We do this in stages. This is the first meeting where we are asking for ideas and suggestions. I will present those to a committee, who will then, from your input and input from across the state, develop a plan. Then they will hold two official public meetings, giving 30-day notice for these meetings in November.”
After the plan is completed, Goodwyn said the plan will be presented to the U.S. Department of Education, under their Vocational Rehabilitation section. She said by the first of July, the plan must be approved by the council, Kentucky Office of Vocational Rehabilitation and by Rehabilitation Services Administration in Washington, D.C. The plan will go into effect in October 2013.
Goodwyn said the plan is to help the state deliver independent services to persons with disabilities.
“This is for any person with any disability and at any age,” said Goodwyn. “It’s for educational, employment or living in your own home purposes. Originally, this program began under the Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973. That act has been amended through the years.”
Goodwyn said there are plans that can be developed for students at schools with the help of parents.
“It’s an individual plan to help students with their studies,” said Goodwyn. “No matter what their disability is, the disability has been incorporated and they consider that. If they need special equipment, the school can get it.”
Goodwyn said a disability may be just that a person cannot do as many things for themselves as they could a few years ago or it may be a situation that requires that the individual have a personal care attendant all of the time.
“Pathfinders assist individuals with disabilities to be self-sufficient and empower them to express their own wishes regarding how they live their lives,” said Goodwyn. “In order to reach these goals we offer four core services: advocacy, independent living skills, information and referral and peer counseling.”
Also attending the forum was state Rep. Rick Nelson. He said he had attended several of these meetings and helped Pathfinders for Independent Living on several issues in the past.
“I have a lot of respect for our Pathfinders for Independent Living here in Harlan,” said Nelson. “They do an incredible job of helping our citizens with disabilities live a more normal life.”
Reach Nola Sizemore at 606-573-4510 or at email@example.com