Bill would help disabled find aid

Published: March 4, 2004
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By GEOFF PENDER – THE SUN HERALD

JACKSON – There are numerous government, nonprofit and faith-based services available to Mississippians with disabilities. But tracking down all the available services can be a daunting, heart-wrenching chore for the disabled and their family and friends.

“When I had my spinal cord injury 12 years ago, my family was aghast – they didn’t know where to turn,” said Sheila Burnham of Madison, past president of the Coalition for Citizens with Disabilities. “We had already built a wheelchair ramp and everything, then found out later that there had been funds available to help.”

The coalition and others are pushing Mississippi Access to Care legislation that would create a clearinghouse for services, a “single point of access” for people with disabilities to learn about various programs available.

“There have been children with cerebral palsy whose parents didn’t find out about an early intervention program until the children were too old for it,” Burnham said.

Proponents of the legislation are not asking for state funding; they expect grants would be available to run the clearinghouse.

A House committee is expected to take up the legislation today. It is House Bill 1407.