County Comment: Disability awareness month features needs survey kickoff

CAPTION: October is Disabilities Awareness Month in Washington County
(L-R) John Barr, DAC Chair Peggy Martin, Co-Chair Joe Kuhna



County Comment
Disability awareness month features needs survey kickoff
By Norman Bassett
Washington County Public Information Officer

On October 5th, the Washington County Board of County Commissioners proclaimed October as Disability Awareness Month in the County, in line with similar pronouncements nationwide.
This year the Disability Advisory Committee (DAC) to the Commissioners is initiating a survey of the needs of persons who have disabilities in the County, with October as the kickoff month for that assessment.
DAC Chairperson Peggy Martin told the Commissioners that the survey will focus on areas identified as being unmet or underserved in the County. The document, available in both print and on-line form will be available for distribution soon. Service provider agencies will distribute forms to their clients, and an on-line form will be available, with a link from the County website.
Identifying information supplied will he held in confidence, and used to show only overall trends in needs across the County. Areas to be surveyed are Transportation; Employment; Housing; Human Services; Child Care; Respite Care; Education; Technology; Adaptive Equipment; Health Care; Voting, Emergency Services, and Veterans services.
A similar survey was conducted in 2005. From that assessment, the County was able to identify a number of transportation needs, and information was used in obtaining grant funds to coordinate and consolidate some human services transportation.
Community Action Transportation, known as CAT, is an offshoot of a subcommittee of the DAC that was formed in the wake of inquiries from the County Commissioners about transportation efficiencies. The State of Maryland also requires human service agencies to be part of a transportation coordination plan.
One example of the way the transportation program has worked is coordination of services to persons living in the Hancock area. Prior to the survey and subsequent grant, there were four separate vehicles making trips foam Hagerstown to Hancock each day to bring consumers into Hagerstown for services.
Under the coordination program, the number of vehicles was reduced, saving funds that had been spent on vehicles, drivers, fuel and eliminating duplication of effort.
The same efficiencies are being seen in and around Hagerstown each day, Martin said, with CAT providing transportation for clients of Goodwill, Star Community, Department of Social Services and employers in the Hopewell Road area.
The survey is currently online at http://wcdac2010survey-eng.questionpro.com and will be linked to the County website at www.washco-md.net. Survey forms in alternate formats or in Spanish will be available by calling the County Office on Disability Issues at 240-313-2077.