October has been designated Disability History and Awareness Month in Missouri by the Governor’s Council on Disability (GCD) and locally by Ozark Independent Living (OIL).

OIL is a non-profit organization that has been serving people with disabilities in Douglas, Howell, Oregon, Ozark, Shannon, Texas and Wright counties for close to 20 years. Both the GCD and OIL promote full participation and inclusion for individuals with disabilities in all aspects of community life by seeking to educate citizens, businesses, schools and others of their rights and responsibilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which is marking its 25th anniversary in 2015.

The GCD and OIL also provide information about compliance with the ADA and assistive technology to maximize the productivity and independence of people with disabilities.  

Officials with OIL outlined some of the programs they offer in the seven-county region:

•Consumer Directed Services (CDS) allows an individual who is Medicaid active to hire a caregiver to provide personal care in the individual’s home. People using the services must be at least 18 years of age, be able to direct their own care and have a physical disability. Examples of services provided include meal preparation, bathing and household tasks.

•Independent Living Services (ILS) has for many years provided four core services: information and referral, life-skills training, advocacy and peer support. Transitioning has recently been added as a fifth service area. The goals for transitioning include helping people with disabilities move from nursing facilities into their own homes and to help students who are leaving high school to transition into their communities and/or the workforce. All efforts are aimed at assisting individuals to stay as independent as possible.

•Independent In-Home Services (IIHS) provides in-home services to the elderly and to those with disabilities, enabling them to remain living in their own home. Such services include advanced and basic personal care, nurse visits, homemaker chores and respite. A variety of payment options are available through this program.

•Telecommunications Access Program (TAP) provides free adaptive phones and other communication devices for qualified individuals with hearing and/or vision impairments.

•Transportation to medical appointments within certain limitations.

For more information about available resources, services and programs call 417-257-0038, log onto or come to the OIL office at 109 Aid Ave. in West Plains (8 a.m. to noon and 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday).

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