Alaska State Independent Living Council (SILC)
FY 2010 Legislative Priorities
Background: The State Independent Living Council is comprised of Alaskans, a
majority of who have disabilities, and who are appointed by the Governor to provide
guidance and direction to the State’s Independent Living Program through the Division
of Vocational Rehabilitation, Department of Labor. The program funds four Centers for
Independent Living (CILs) and these Centers provide a wide array of services to
Alaskans with disabilities and seniors who seek to live independently in the community.
The SILC develops a three-year strategic plan called the State Plan for Independent
Living (SPIL). A priority discussed in the 2007-2010 SPIL is the need to improve and
expand services to Alaskans with disabilities living in rural and remote communities. We
hope fewer Alaskans and their families are forced to make the difficult decision of
moving their loved ones to urban areas or into nursing homes hundreds of miles away
to gain access to needed services. Like the American population in general, Alaska’s
population of seniors and persons with disabilities is growing rapidly, and the stress on
our long-term care systems is evident, costing the state hundreds of millions of dollars
in Medicaid alone. Centers for Independent Living save the state money, by allowing
Alaskans with disabilities to live independently at home and by enabling seniors to age
in place rather than move to publicly subsidized assisted living homes and nursing
Picture if you can, a to wn where every curb has a curb cut and ramp - - where
children with disabilities are fully integrated into all schools and all grades with non-
disabled children -- where buses are equipped to pick up any type of passenger,
including those who use wheelchairs or have other mobility impairments -- where
closed or open captioning is available on every TV station and for every program --
where in-home services are available at any time and for any person, regardless of
type of disability or level of income.
Such a picture is possible. It is a picture of equal opportunity and access for all.
-- Maggie Shreve
The SILC supports such a picture of true independence for all Alaskans.
Due to the severity of the current economic conditions, the SILC and CILs are focusing
our advocacy efforts upon the following priority for the FY 2010.
Increased funding for Home Modification and Home Barrier Free Access (DHH S)
We encourage the Legislature to support funding for MH Housing - Home Modification
and Upgrades to Retain Housing, reference #33671. This capital project provides
housing modifications for persons experiencing a disability, allowing them to remain in
their homes, and potentially reducing the cost of providing supported housing. This
project increases the accessibility of current housing so that Trust beneficiaries and
other special needs populations can move into or remain in their own homes. Typical
kinds of assistance provided are accessibility modifications or additions (e.g., widening
doorways, remodeling bathrooms or kitchens, installing entrance ramps, adding
bathrooms or bedrooms) and related equipment.
In addition, the SILC and Centers for Independent Living support s the
Increased funding for the expansion of the Aging and Disability
Resource Centers-Now that the State of Alaska Division of Senior and
Disability Services has assumed leadership of the ADRC program, increased
funding will be needed to sustain the expansion of this valuable program.
Home and Community-Based Services Rate Reviews-Establish regular
and periodic rate reviews and adjustments for all home and community-based
Adult Dental Services-Reauthorize the adult dental Medicaid services to
avoid costly and potentially catastrophic dental emergencies later in life.
Alaska Housing Trust-Enact legislation creating the Alaska Housing Trust
with appropriate sufficient funds to support meaningful services through the
Public Transportation Fund-Establish an Alaska Public Transportation Fund
for coordinating a public transportation system.
Senate Bill 83-This bill proposes to repeal the Governor’s Committee on
Employment and Rehabilitation of People with Disabilities, and to create the
State Vocational Rehabilitation Committee. This committee will function as
the State Rehabilitation Council and the Assistive Technology Advisory
Council, which will bring the committee into compliance with federa l acts.
SILC FY 2010 State Advocacy Priorities 2
At Home At Last
Submitted by Access Alaska
A.B., age 27, born in Soldotna, Alaska, was a long way from home when she experienced
a near fatal anoxic brain injury as a result of a vehicle accident TBI, followed by a heart attack
and coma. The all knowing professionals in the medical community of Texas gave A.B.’s mother
little in the way of encouragement. Since A.B. was a long way from immediate family, her
mother chose to bring her to a long-term care facility in Anchorage, Alaska, located five b locks
from the family home. Within two weeks of being admitted to the facility, A.B.’s physical state
had declined to the point that she was curling up into a fetal position and had become non-
responsive. Medical staff at the St. Elias Long-Term Care Facility actually used the term
“vegetative state” in A.B.’s records. This cast a shadow of hopelessness across her chances of
getting therapy from providers who only reviewed her records, but didn’t meet A.B. in person.
A call was placed to the Access Alaska Consumer Directed Personal Care Service
program (CDPCS) for assistance in helping A.B. transition from the long-term care facility to her
home environment. Independent Living Specialist, T. Frank Box, was present in the family home
as A.B. was brought in by a medical transport team. He witnessed that A.B. was able to
communicate her displeasure of being nonverbal and her happiness in being with her mother
very clearly. Within two weeks of her arrival home, another assessment was done and A.B. was
sent to a facility in Washington State for five weeks of intensive therapy.
With collaboration between service providers including the State of Alaska Waiver
Services & Nursing Home Transition Program, the team worked to make A.B.’s wish of living at
home become a reality. A variety of Access Alaska service programs helped the family. The
Access Alaska Consumer Directed Personal Care Service Program (CDPCS) provided Personal
Care Attendant services to A.B. in her home. With grant funds from the Mental Health Trust
Authority and Access Alaska’s Home Modification program, a variety of local contractors built
an arctic entry-style covered wheelchair ramp leading into the house. Access Alaska’s Loan
Closet program supplied a lift chair and reclining wheelchair so A.B. can get out of bed and
access the community.
A.B. is now living in her mother’s home in Anchorage, where she has access to local
resources, in- home medical care, and most importantly, 24-hour family access to monitor her
SILC FY 2010 State Advocacy Priorities 3
At Work On Her Own Terms
Submitted by Southeast Alaska Independent Living Center
SAIL has continued to help individuals with significant disabilities plan out and achieve their
goals in many aspects. Below is a letter from a woman with significant mental health issues, as
well as a history of substance abuse. She came to SAIL for help with applying for Social
Security benefits, which ultimately she was awarded. After becoming stable on her medication,
she then decided to return to work, and SAIL staff assisted her with a benefits plan to help her
understand and plan for the changes that may occur to her Social Security benefits while she is
To Whom it May Concern,
When I first came to SAIL, I had to have a supportive friend come with me because I was so
overwhelmed. We had an appointment with [SAIL Staff], who greeted us with such a genuine
kindness and sincerity that I was able to settle down a little. Then she explained the [Social
Security Administration benefits application] process to us very clearly and simply....[SAIL
Staff] was extremely kind, knowledgeable and helpful and I felt secure having her as a resource.
It was easy to trust her because she just beamed with pure, genuine care and concern for me.
She is a real human being and I couldn’t have found anyone more helpful than her.
The next time I met with [SAIL staff], I was able to go by myself because I trusted her and knew
she cared about me. She was so eager to help me and answered all my questions, always helping
me make sense of it all.
[SAIL staff] collaborated with my counselor at Vocational Rehabilitation, and together, they
helped me go back to work and start my own business. WOW! Thank you so much, [SAIL staff]
for being my angel.
SILC FY 2010 State Advocacy Priorities 4