Celebrating the 2019 Arc of Florida Champions

Arc of Florida, CEO, Kirk Hall presents Representative Travis Cummings with The Arc of Florida 2019 Champion award in recognition of exemplary leadership and service to Floridians with disabilities. The Arc of Florida is sincerely appreciative of Representative Cumming’s support during the 2019 legislative session.

We are grateful to all of our 2019 Arc of Florida Champions for their unwavering commitment, dedication and impassioned advocacy for improving the lives of Floridians with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Image result for disabilities house smiling       Image result for a home for everyone

The Arc of Florida supports affordable and accessible housing for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

With the start of the 2020 Legislature a little more than a month away, affordable housing advocates have renewed their plea for state lawmakers to fully fund Florida’s housing programs.

In the current year, lawmakers approved $200 million for the housing programs, including $115 million for areas impacted by Hurricane Michael in 2018.

“We only have one message. And that is that we use our voice to say: ‘Use the housing trust funds for housing,’’’ said Jaimie Ross, president of the Florida Housing Coalition.

The advocates praised Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis who for the second year pledged his support for fully funding the affordable housing programs. His $91.4 billion budget proposal for 2020-21 includes $387 million for the housing programs.

The 2020 Legislature begins its 60-day session on Jan. 14. The affordable housing funding will be part of the state budget negotiations, which will not be settled until the final days of the session, which is scheduled to end on March 13.


Carnival Cruises Are Going “Sensory Inclusive”

Six Carnival cruise ships have been certified as sensory-inclusive. Here’s what that means:

Carnival Cruise Line is joining the ranks of the sensory-inclusive to help guests with autism, Down syndrome, ADHD, PTSD, and other disabilities.

Carnival announced earlier this week that the crews of six ships based out of Miami and Fort Lauderdale have been certified as sensory-inclusive by KultureCity, an Alabama-based nonprofit group that promotes accessibility.

The current list of certified Carnival ships includes the Carnival Sunrise, which is based at Fort Lauderdale, as well as the following Miami-based vessels: Carnival Horizon, Carnival Conquest, Carnival Sensation, Carnival Magic and Carnival Victory.

Spokesman Vance Gulliksen told USA TODAY that employees on the rest of Carnival’s fleet will be certified by March 2020.

So what does it mean for a cruise ship to be sensory-inclusive?

Hundreds of guest-facing staffers – including those in guest services and those who work directly with children through Carnival’s Camp Ocean youth programs – are available to answer questions about how various attractions might affect people with those sensory issues. In addition, youth staffers are trained on how to tell the difference between sensory overload and a tantrum and react accordingly so they can calm the child. They’re also equipped with gear such as weighted vests, sensory games and conversation cards to facilitate communication.

“We appreciate Carnival Cruise Line for taking this important step in making their vacations accessible to everyone,” said Dr. Julian Maha, the co-founder of KultureCity.

Guests on sensory-inclusive Carnival ships can check out sensory bags with noise-canceling headphones and other gear to help people with sensory disabilities remain calm and communicate..

In addition, KultureCity has curated “sensory bags” that guests can check out for use during their Carnival cruises, free of charge. The kits include noise-canceling headphones, fidget toys, a visual feeling thermometer that helps guests express their emotional state non-verbally and a lanyard to make it easy for trained crew members to find and assist them. Guests interested in checking out a bag can inquire at guest services.

“Carnival Cruise Line is to be commended for training their staff about autism and offering sensory bags that will enable individuals with autism and their families to have an enjoyable cruise,” autism advocate Dr. Temple Grandin said in a press release.

Article by: Jayme Deerwester, USA TODAY