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About 38,000 Wisconsin farmers have a limitation or disability. That’s according to numbers from a program called AgrAbility of Wisconsin.  Wisconsin Public Radio interviews  a leader of AgrAbility about how they help farmers manage the disabilities they may sustain on the farm.

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In a new Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, CDC reports findings from a comparison of data on COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations from January 2020 to November 2021 for two groups of Medicare beneficiaries:

  • Adults (of any age) who were initially eligible for Medicare due to disability (“disability-eligible beneficiaries”).  
  • Beneficiaries who became eligible for Medicare when they turned 65 (“age-eligible beneficiaries”).

(People who became eligible for Medicare due to disability but who had reached the age of 65 were counted only in the disability-eligible group; nearly half of the disability-eligible beneficiaries were over the age of 65.)  

CDC found:

  • Overall, incidence and hospitalization rates were significantly higher for disability-eligible beneficiaries than for age-eligible beneficiaries.
    • The overall incidence rate was 35 percent higher for disability-eligible beneficiaries
    • The overall hospitalization rate was nearly 50 percent higher for disability-eligible beneficiaries.
    • The one exception was for American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) beneficiaries; rates were higher for age-eligible AI/AN beneficiaries than for disability-eligible AI/AN beneficiaries.
  • The differences in hospitalization rates are even more stark for people 65 and older.
    • For people ages 65-74, the hospitalization rate for disability-eligible beneficiaries was more than two and a half times that of people without disabilities.
    • Disability-eligible beneficiaries ages 75-84 were nearly twice as likely to be hospitalized than their age-eligible peers.
  • For both groups:
    • Hospitalization rates were highest for AI/AN beneficiaries, followed closely by Black and then Hispanic beneficiaries.
    • Incidence rates also were highest for AI/AN beneficiaries, followed by Hispanic and then Black beneficiaries.
    • Both incidence and hospitalization rates increased with age .

It’s important to note that the report findings cannot be extrapolated to say that all people with disabilities are at higher risk of hospitalization than older adults.

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Wisconsin voters with disabilities continue to be concerned about the ability to vote in upcoming elections. In previous elections, people with disabilities could have another person drop off their absentee ballot if they couldn't get to the polls or drop off places. However, a court ruling January states that people must drop off their own ballot. The case is now awaiting a decision from the Wisconsin Supreme Court which is expected very soon. 

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The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) announced a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to establish minimum standards and requirements for projects funded under the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Formula Program. These minimum standards will help ensure a national electric vehicle (EV) charging network that is user-friendly, reliable, and accessible to all people and interoperable between different charging companies with similar payment systems, pricing information, charging speeds, and more. FHWA invites interested persons to submit comments on any aspect of the information collection in the published notice.

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The Biden-Harris Administration has launched a new initiative to expand the availability of at-home tests that are more accessible for people who are blind or have low vision. The tests work with a compatible Bluetooth-enabled smartphone and a free app to provide users with audible instructions and audible test results. Read more about the tests.

How to get the tests:
Order online or by calling 1-800-232-0233.
  • Each order will include two rapid-antigen tests that are more accessible for people who are blind or have low vision.
  • Orders will ship free, while supplies last.  

Because supplies are limited, please order the more accessible tests only if you do not have options for using the standard tests. If you have someone you trust who can help you administer the test and interpret results (in person, or through a video platform like FaceTime or Zoom), or can use assistive technology (such as AIRA or Be My Eyes), please order the standard tests.

This initiative complements the Administration’s efforts to expand production of more accessible tests and work with private sector partners on the development of new accessible tests. 

Need more assistance? 
The trained staff at the Disability Information and Access Line (DIAL) can provide additional assistance with:
  • Ordering tests.
  • Understanding instructions for test administration and test results.
  • Providing alternative instructions for traditional at-home tests for people who are unable to access, read, or understand the manufacturer’s version.
  • For those who cannot use an at-home test, DIAL operators can:
    • Assist with ordering “swab and send” kits to collect a sample and mail it back for results.
    • Connect callers to local organizations for assistance locating other testing options in their community, including in-home testing programs or transportation or companion support to visit a community-based testing site.
Call 888-677-1199 Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Eastern) or email DIAL@usaginganddisability.org.
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The Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law almost 32 years ago, but, yet, there are several public places that still aren't accessible--especially streets and sidewalks. A study found that pedestrian wheelchair users are 30% more likely to be killed in crashes than non-wheelchair users. Their research found that 65% of curb ramps and 48% of sidewalks across the country are not accessible. The team looked at over 400 government entities, and only 13% had ADA plans readily available; only seven of them met the minimum criteria. Advocates want the new infrastructure bill, which includes $11 billion for transportation safety programs, should be spent on curb ramps, sidewalks and roads designed to slow traffic to make crossing streets safer. 

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 Newsmakers Host Lisa Pugh will sat down with Patti Jo Becker, Community Living Alliance – Director of Operations, and Lynn Gall, WI Department of Health Services – Family Caregiver Support Programs Manager, to discuss workforce shortage and support for working caregivers. The Wisconsin workforce shortage is worsening in part due to a group of employees who are often overlooked: family caregivers. As baby boomers age out of their jobs and begin requiring care, it is often their grown children and spouses who are stepping in, balancing work and new responsibilities at home. A recent statewide survey shows more than eight in ten employed caregivers are reducing work hours or quitting work entirely. On this Newsmakers episode experts discuss survey results, tell us what employers are saying and share recommendations for improvement.

To watch the program, users will need to register for a free, Basic account. 

Watch now

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The National Council on Independent Living released its 2022 Advocacy Priorities Guide. This document contains specific information on the national legislative and policy priorities identified biannually by the NCIL membership, including funding for the Independent Living Program, healthcare and long-term care, housing, transportation, education, and more.

View guide

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