Why does the CIL continue to be involved with disaster readiness?

CIL’s are huge advocates of emergency management and preparedness, but why do we prepare our communities for emergencies to the extent that we do? Often times, people with disabilities get lost in all the commotion during disasters and they end up placed in an environment that may appear to meet their needs, but actually doesn’t, such as a nursing home or psychiatric institution. This is why it’s extremely important that everyone is prepared beforehand and aware of all their resources. The CIL does our best to make sure these resources are accessible to everyone!

If you’d like to learn more about why it’s important to prepare for disasters, and why CIL’s will always be heavily involved with disaster readiness, this article is an informative read. The Emergency Management sector of Government Technology goes into depth on this issue and explains why this happens and how best to avoid it.

For more on emergency preparedness visit the Administration for Community Living’s Emergency Preparedness blog, and stay updated with us — the CIL will always be here for you!

HUGE thank you to our conference contributors!

On May 20th, the Center for Independent Living and The Villages Public Safety hosted an Emergency Preparedness Conference for people with disabilities, senior adults, and the community. This conference was aimed to update people on how to best prepare for emergencies and to ensure they’re exposed to all of the resources that are available to them.

We would like to thank all of the companies, vendors, and speakers for helping out with this conference. Without the support and contributions from these following organizations, we would not be able to put on conferences that address these crucial topics!

  • SECO Energy
  • Winn-Dixie
  • Dunkin’ Donuts
  • Rohan Recreation Center
  • The Village Public Safety
  • Sumter County Emergency Management
  • Comfort Keepers
  • Lake County Emergency Management
  • APD
  • Clear Caption
  • Shine
  • Lowe’s of Wildwood
  • Dept. of Health
  • Dept. of Health volunteers’
  • Dept. of Health SNP
  • Dept. of Health MRC
  • Family Network on Disabilities
  • Tony Delisle (CILNCF) & Beth Meyers (Florida Independent Living Council, Inc.)
  • David Casto (Sumter County Emergency Management)
  • Chris Littlewood (Instructional Technology Coordinator/St. Pete College)
  • Tralene Lucas (SECO Energy)

Thank you again to all of these organizations for your unwavering support and contribution!

Amazing Give- Only One Week Away!

For the fourth year in a row, the Center for Independent Living will be participating in The Amazing Give, a 24-hour online fundraiser that is hosted by the Community Foundation of North Central Florida. The donations raised through the Amazing Give are an essential part of supporting our organization. This event is only ONE WEEK AWAY, so be sure to mark your calendars!

From 6 p.m. on March 20 to 6 p.m. on March 21, you will be able to support our organization by visiting our campaign page at:

This year, donations raised will directly support our High School High Tech and Transition Services! Our goal this year is to raise $10,000 dollars, and we know we can reach it with your generous support!

In addition, please help us kick-off the Amazing Give at Adam’s Rib Co. on March 20 from 6-8 p.m.! 10% of the proceeds from your meal will be donated to the Center if you mention you’re supporting the CIL for the Amazing Give! Check out the flyer below for more details about the Kick-Off.

Computer Science Exploration Project | A Promising Practice in Introducing Computer Science

To expose high school students with disabilities to computer sciences and related careers, the CIL of North Central Florida’s High School High Tech program undertook the Computer Science Exploration Project. The Project offered a series of nine hands-on events. An event was held once a month and included visits to:

  • Florida State University’s High Magnetic Field Laboratory – During this visit students participated in hands-on demonstrations, self-guided tours, and visits with scientists to learn how computer technology related to the research being done in the lab.
  • Palm Bay High School – At this event participants were introduced to a competition robotics team. Students participating on the team explained the process they went through to create their robots and demonstrated their robots.
  • Sid Martin Biotech Incubator – Participants in this event were shown how computer science technology is used to enhance BioTech research.
  • New Horizons Computer Learning Center – Over the course of two visits participants learned about the school and the computer technology programs they offer, as well as the technology they use to implement their online classes.
  • Naval Air Station Jacksonville (NAS JAX) – During this event students were allowed to use the flight simulators that naval pilots utilize for training and to experience the amazing technology used to create real-world simulations in a safe environment.
  • University of Florida’s Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department – The University of Florida’s robotics teams and education programs opened up their lab to demonstrate their creations and explain the technology behind them.
  • GWIZ (a local science museum) – Here students were introduced to the Lego Mindstorms programmable robots. During the remaining activities in the series they programmed the robots so that they could complete specific tasks.

Evaluation results of the Computer Science Exploration Project suggest that the forty-one participants developed a greater interest in and understanding of computer science and likelihood of pursuing a career in computer science. On a Likert scale of 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest) post-event surveys 80% of the participants reported that they enjoyed the program activities and 31% reported considering a career in the computer science field. A comparison of the pre- and post-surveys revealed a 20% increase in student’s awareness, interest, and appreciation of computer science and associated career fields. The students who attended the majority of the events expressed a greater understanding of computer science. A few students reported a change in their intended career path as a result of their participation; one student who was planning a career as a professional football player changed his mind to pursue aviation after the NAS JAX trip while another student switched from the medical field to computer technology after the robotics and New Horizons events.

The Computer Science Exploration Project is a promising practice for helping students with disabilities gain a better understanding and appreciation of computer science and related career fields.

For more information about this project visit the North Central Florida High School High Tech Computer Science Exploration Project.

This activity was been funded by a minigrant from The Computer Science Collaboration Project (CSCP). CSCP is partially funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Division of Computer and Network Systems, Broadening Participation in Computing (CNS-0940646).

Florida’s way: Nursing home profits trump sick kids’ special needs | Fred Grimm The Miami Herald

The feds just don’t understand how we do business down here in Florida. The Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division fired off a letter to the state attorney general’s office last week, threatening to sue the state for sticking medically fragile kids in geriatric warehouses.

Apparently the feds regard these individual as mere children. In Florida, they’re considered the very cogs that keep the state’s faltering nursing home industry humming along. They’ve been privatized.

The letter from Assistant U.S. Attorney General Thomas E. Perez charged that the state was failing to provide the appropriate community-based services required by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“Hundreds of children are currently segregated in nursing facilities throughout Florida,” Perez wrote. “They are growing up apart from their families in hospital-like settings, among elderly nursing facility residents and other individuals with disabilities. They live segregated lives — having few opportunities to interact with children and young adults without disabilities or to experience many of the social, educational and recreational activities that are critical to child development.”

If the feds come down to Florida with some outlandish notion that the welfare of young Medicaid recipients ought to trump business interests, then, sure, the situation will sound like a Dickensonian nightmare. Perhaps Perez didn’t realize it, but the reason we consign kids to old folks’ homes was explained right there on Page 6 of his 22-page letter.

“During our investigation we learned that … the state has overseen the placement of hundreds of children into nursing facilities. For a majority of the children referred to these facilities, the state pays an enhanced rate of over $500 per day per child, which is more than double what the facility receives from the State to serve elderly individuals and other adults.”

There you have it. Double the reimbursement. Nursing homes may not be so good for the children, who could be cared for at home as out-patients, probably for less money, but children are very good for nursing homes.

Back in March, a coalition of advocates filed suit against Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration claiming that AHCA had illegally warehoused some 250 fragile children in adult nursing homes and was pressuring the parents of some 3,500 others now receiving treatment at home to move their kids into geriatric facilities.

The charges looked even more unseemly next to a report from the Florida Association for Medically Fragile Children, which stated: “The number of older men and women in nursing homes in Florida is decreasing. So owners of geriatric facilities are now competing to take fragile children in order to remain profitable, without regard to their special needs.”

The report stated, “With their eye on their shrinking bottom lines, geriatric facilities are lobbying to fill their empty beds with medically fragile children and young adults. But they are not equipped to do so. Even worse, they are lobbying to provide reduced levels of care.”

AHCA filed a narrow legal answer to the federal lawsuit, denying any illegalities, leaving the moral issues unaddressed. The agency looked bad. Gov. Rick Scott’s administration looked bad. But AHCA has remained obstinate. Paolo G. Annino, director of the Health Care Access Project at the Florida State University law school, one of the advocates behind the lawsuit, said Friday that AHCA has not even hinted at a settlement. “I’m really finding this hard to understand,” he said.

Instead, the festering lawsuit caught the attention of the Justice Department, which hired a consultant and launched its own investigation, visiting nursing homes in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Tampa, and St. Petersburg that housed some 200 of these children. The DOJ described finding children who could be treated at home, who could be living with their family and interacting with the community, but were kept in isolated nursing home wards. Meanwhile, Perez said, the state has cut the availability of in-home services so drastically that parents of other medically fragile children are being forced to institutionalize those kids, too.

Perez warned that the Supreme Court has held that “public entities are required to provide community-based services to persons with disabilities when (a) such services are appropriate, (b) the affected persons do not oppose community-based treatment, and (c) community-based services can be reasonably accommodated.”

The court warned that “institutional placement of persons who can handle and benefit from community settings perpetuates unwarranted assumptions that persons so isolated are incapable or unworthy of participating in community life.” And that “confinement in an institution severely diminishes the everyday life activities of individuals, including family relations, social contacts, work options, economic independence, educational advancement, and cultural enrichment.”

Sure, that may be the law. That also may reflect the values of a moral society. But that’s just not the Florida way.

If these medically fragile children expect to be treated as well as nursing home operators, well, let them hire themselves a lobbyist.

That’s how we do business here in Florida.

** Photographs are courtesy of Mike Coonan Photography and our friends from The Florida Office on Disability and Health (FODH) at The University of Florida.

Read more here:




“Boogie Nights” | Fundraiser

Join us for a night of retro fun as we return to the 70’s & 80’s this Saturday Night, August 25th, at The Sharab Lounge. Proceeds from “Boogie Nights” will benefit our youth program, High Scool High Tech, by helping to pay for this year’s field trips.  We hope to see you there!!
Tickets can be purchased at the CIL, Stein Mart or at the door Saturday Night.

Nursing Home Transition

More than 1.6 million Americans live in nursing homes and probably won’t leave the homes until their deaths. Several small studies have suggested that for-profit nursing homes, which make up two-thirds of the nation’s nursing homes, offer poor care. Of the homes in this study that had similar findings, 65.8% were investor owned, 27.7% were nonprofits, and 6.5% were public.

Nurse staffing in all types of nursing occupations was lower at investor-owned homes, which may have something to do with care quality. Investor owned homes were larger than private nursing homes, which may impact quality. Yet public nursing homes were usually larger than investor owned homes and rated higher on care quality. The most obvious explanation for poor care, the researchers theorized, is that profit seeking takes funds from clinical care. The nation’s largest nursing home often make $5.28 per patient each day. Harrington, C., Woolhandler, S., Mullan, J., Carrillo, H., & Himmelstein, D. U. (2001, September).

Does investor ownership of nursing homes compromise the quality of care? American Journal of Public Health 91(9), 1452-455. See

Art Show will benefit CIL’s youth program

Our first Art Fundraiser “Perspectives” was wonderfully received and attended. We want to thank our awesome corporate sponsors:

Terranova Catering
Corks and Colors Studio
Edible Arrangements
Harold’s Frames and Gallery
Sam’s Club
The Top
Wine and Cheese Gallery


The High School/High Tech Program will be hosting its first Art Fundraiser, entitled“Perspectives”.  The event will be  held on Saturday, May 26th at the Hippodrome Theatre from 6-8 pm.  Tickets are now on sale for $15 in advance and $20 at the door.  Students will be serving appetizers, desserts, and beverages as they display their artwork, both for sale and admiration.  There will also be student led presentations of some of our favorite workshop activities as well as a timeline juxtaposing the history of art with the history of disability rights and advocacy.  It promises to be a fun evening and both HS/HT staff and students are looking forward to it and hoping to share the evening with you.

Saturday, May 26th at the Hippodrome Theatre from 6-8 pm

If you, or someone you know would like to order tickets, please email Amy Tarpe.

View the Perspectives flyer for more info >

Here are of our HS/HT students working on their art!



Advocacy Update

July 17, 2012


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — While survivors finish repairs to their homes or find a new place to live, money may be available to help them pay for a clean and safe place to stay.

Survivors who have been staying with friends or relatives because their homes were damaged or destroyed by Tropical Storm Debby may qualify for temporary rental assistance.

Florida survivors living in a county designated for Individual Assistance may be eligible for federal disaster aid. By law, the Federal Emergency Management Agency cannot duplicate insurance benefits.  CLICK HERE TO READ MORE…

June 28, 2012

Click to view The Department's statement

The Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) is committed to improving the delivery of services to Floridians who are deaf or hard of hearing.  It is essential that the Department eliminate or reduce barriers these clients experience when seeking services through our programs.

To reach this goal, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and DCF have entered into an agreement to ensure that auxiliary aids and services are provided for these clients or their companions.  This website has been designed to provide DCF staff as well as the Department’s contracted service providers with resources enabling them to meet our goal to eliminate or reduce barriers, thus ensuring effective communication with deaf or hard of hearing clients and companions as outline in the agreement.  Questions regarding any information contained on this website should be directed to the DCF Office of Civil Rights, 1317 Winewood Blvd., Building 1 Room 110, Tallahassee, Florida 32399-0700.  Staff may also call the DCF Office of Civil Rights at (850) 487-1901 or the Region Civil Rights Officer.

April 16, 2012

U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division:

According to regulations issued [by the Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division]and in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 2010, many hotel pools are likely to be noncompliant with ADA regulations by March 12 when they take effect.  According to the regulation created in 2010, hotels must have pool lifts to provide people with disabilities equal access to pools and whirlpools or have a plan in place demonstrating they are trying to obtain a lift.  The fine for not complying with this rule is up to $55,000.  Most hotels have pools and the cost of pool lifts ranges from $3,000 to $6,000.  It is being reported that many hotels may close their pool altogether to avoid having to purchase such a lift.  New hotels being built must include the lift in the pools’ construction plan.  While the American Hotel & Lodging Association, the hotel industry’s lobby coalition, has requested that the Department of Justice extend the deadline, reports state this request was not granted and the regulations did go into effect yesterday.  Eve Hill, Deputy Chief of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division stated, “They’ve had quite a bit of time to do their planning.  If they have legitimate reasons in good faith that they can’t comply, then that will be taken into account.”  For more information, visit:

Fisher House | Updates

Gainesville Fisher House Foundation – Press Release
GAINESVILLE, FL, Jan. 25, 2012 —

Jay Leno auctions off George W. Bush-signed Tractor, proceeds split to benefit Gainesville Fisher House Foundation

Over the weekend, Jay Leno, popular late night television host, auctioned off his tractor, “Lil Tug,” for $535,000 at the

Photo Credit: New Holland

Barrett-Jackson Auction in Scottsdale, AZ to benefit America’s military and their families.  “When we heard the news that our Gainesville Fisher House Foundation would be receiving $235,000 of the proceeds, we were elated,” said Executive Director of the Gainesville Fisher House Foundation, Patti Fabiani.  “We’re so grateful that Jay Leno supports the troops that serve our great nation and that he understands the importance of family. We couldn’t thank him enough.  “The proceeds will be used to create a home away from home for military families staying at the Malcom Randall VA Medical Center.

Barrett-Jackson, a car auctioning company, has long been recognized for its commitment to philanthropy due to its no-fee and no-commission auctioning of vehicles for charity since it held its first car show benefitting the Scottsdale library and community arts center in 1967.

Although the company raises funds for numerous organizations, a major focus is intersecting patriotism and philanthropy.  The company recently hosted an event benefitting the Armed Forces Foundation and is currently a major supporter of Paralyzed Veterans of America. To date, Barret-Jackson has generated more than $34 million in charity.

Supporting America’s military in their time of need, we provide “a home away from home” that enables family members to be close to a loved one at the most stressful time — during hospitalization for an illness, disease or injury.  Please visit Gainesville Fisher House Foundation’s website to learn more.