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Networking event provides learning about those with disabilities

September 08, 2009|By TRISH RUDDER

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. -- A networking event to share information about being disabled, care giving, and learning about disabilities through simulations, will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at Berkeley Springs High School.   

Saturday's inaugural event, called disAbility Awareness Day, is "not to focus on DIS-abilities, but rather disABILITIES," said Lori Hansroth, one of the coordinators for the Morgan County Advocates for disAbility Awareness (MCAdA).

The nonprofit organization is hosting the event as an opportunity for the disabled and caretakers to network and gather information, as well as for those who don't have disabilities to learn more about what it's like to deal with a disability through simulation activities, Hansroth said.

Hansroth said simulation activities include exhibiting the difficulties of maneuvering a wheelchair, and showing people what it's like to have hearing and vision problems.

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Two speakers will touch on the event's theme that "being disabled doesn't change who you are; it only changes what you can do," Hansroth said. The speakers have accomplished a great deal, even though they are disabled, she said.

Panel discussions for people with disabilities, and one for caregivers, will be held.

About 50 vendors will be available to talk with people, including Social Security/Medicare specialists, support groups and disability equipment suppliers.

This event also will help educate the public about disabilities and share stories about how many cope and succeed, Hansroth said.

Improvements can be made to homes and businesses in Morgan County to make sure ramps and door openings meet federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) code regulations, Hansroth said.

"We live in a community that attracts retirees," she said.

Mike McKechnie of Mt. View Builders said he will have a booth at the event. He said his company is retrofitting existing homes and building new homes to make them ADA-compliant.

He said doors, ramps and bathrooms are the most important for wheelchair accessibility.

"We can take any home and retrofit it," McKechnie said. He said in the new homes Mt. View is building, "We have partially if not completely built them to be ADA compliant at the homeowner's request."

Hansroth said that according to the U.S. Census Bureau, West Virginia ranks at the top in the nation for the number of adults with disabilities -- 24 percent of the state population. The state also ranks third highest in the U.S. for the number of children with disabilities and fourth highest in the number of seniors age 65 and older with disabilities.

If you go:



What: disAbility Awareness Day

When: Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Where: Berkeley Springs High School, 149 Concord Ave., Berkeley Springs, W.Va.

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