The IMAGE Center is a 501 (c)(3) organization – donations to which are tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law. A copy of our current financial statement is available upon request by calling our office at 410-982-6311.
Researching affordable, accessible, and integrated housing is a difficult and time-consuming process. Here at The IMAGE Center, we work with individuals on identifying their options and advising them on various research opportunities to help broaden their research, keeping their access needs in mind throughout the process.
This consumer was living in a home with rent that was too high for her to afford. In addition, this person’s former living arrangements were becoming unsustainable due to the dirty environment of the property beginning to impact her health. We were able to place this consumer on the Section 811 waiting list, which is an affordable housing program for individuals with disabilities who live on a fixed income. The program can also work with consumers on addressing their access needs. Here is what this consumer shared with us over the phone about her experience in being a new tenant with the Section 811 program!
Housing Waiting Lists
Here at IMAGE, we act as the case managers to place people on the Section 811 and Weinberg housing waiting lists. These waiting lists are managed by the Maryland Department of Disabilities and are income-based project units scattered throughout the state of Maryland.
Other Housing Options
Not all individuals qualify for these waiting lists, and other callers are not wanting to rent an apartment. Others still want to get on waiting lists, but need to explore more immediate housing solutions in the meantime. To address these community needs, we are also equipped with a wide variety of referrals that we can connect individuals with to ensure that they get the support and information that will best fit their situation. We can connect individuals to a homebuying agency for people with disabilities, shelter referrals, roommate research suggestions, and supportive housing resources.
Do you not know where to start to request a reasonable accommodation from your property management company? We assist individuals in drafting reasonable accommodations letters so that they can receive the accommodations they require to increase their independence in the community and maintain their current housing situation. This service is available to any individual in the community who feels they want to submit a reasonable accommodation request.
Who to Contact About Housing?
For more information about our housing resources, please contact email@example.com or call 443-320-4008.
April 26th I AM featured Medical Professionals with expertise in Spinal Cord Injuries (SCI) on COVID Vaccines and people with SCI sharing personal vaccine stories. Join Dr. Judy Stone, Dr. Suzanne Groah and Dr. Terrence Sheehan who will answer questions and give their perspective on the vaccines. Ian Ruder, Editor New Mobility as well as John Michaels from RFI and Michael Saunders from IN will share their personal experiences as people with SCI who have received the vaccine.
The fourth in a four-part series: ABLE Accounts—Are They for Me? Series.
This month, the Free Bridges Helpdesk Transition Tip Tuesdays explores ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience) accounts so that you can decide if they would work for you and your needs. In this fourth installment of the series, we examine additional information that can help you decide if an ABLE account is right for you—now or in the future.
Forty-four states, including Maryland, offer ABLE accounts, but you do not need to open an ABLE account in the state you live in. Seventeen states do require that you be a resident in order to set up an ABLE account under their program. However, the remaining 27 states, including Maryland, permit any qualified person to open an ABLE account regardless of residency.
May have only one ABLE account
Each qualified person may only have ONE ABLE account. If you have an ABLE account with one state and want to transfer it to another state, this is permitted, and the ABLE program staff should be able to help you do this.
Investment options available
ABLE accounts offer investment options so that your contributions will in value. This growth is tax-free. Different state programs offer different investment choices.
In Maryland, you may choose to leave the funds in a cash account or choose one of three investment options.
There are minimums and fees
ABLE accounts cost money to administer. Also, programs may have minimum requirements for setting up an account and for contributions. However, these minimums are usually quite low.
In Maryland, fees and minimums are also follows:
Initial contribution minimum: $25
Annual account fee: $35 (billed at $8.75 per quarter)
Minimum contribution (after initial): $10
Fees for investments (mutual funds): Annual fee of between 0.30% and 0.38% of fund value
Words of warning
Risk of asset forfeiture upon death
If an ABLE account owner dies with money remaining in the ABLE account, the state may file a claim for repayment of medical assistance provided to the ABLE account owner. The state may only make claims for medical assistance provided after the ABLE account was created, and the state cannot claim more money than is in the account.
College Scholarship Service (CSS) Profile
While ABLE accounts are not considered as assets for college financial aid through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, the same rules do not apply College Scholarship Service (CSS) Profile, a private financial aid tool administered by the College Board that charges a fee to use. The CSS Profile counts ABLE accounts as assets. If you are considering applying to a school that requires the CSS Profile, it is advisable to call the Admissions Office to discuss this matter.
Using ABLE funds for unqualified purposes
If you use ABLE funds for expenses that are not qualified [see Part 2: Who Qualifies for an ABLE Account, and How Can Funds Be Spent?], those distributions will be taxable as income, and there is an additional 10% penalty for distributions not used for QDE. This can reduce the amount of money available, so it is useful to ensure that you spend your ABLE distributions on QDEs.
Join us next month as we move into May celebrating the coming of Spring and the transition from K-12 school to post-secondary life with our “Life After IEPs Series.” We’ll discuss when and why things change and delve into post-secondary rights and responsibilities in educational services, equipment, and accommodations.
Follow the Bridges Helpdesk Facebook page for more transition tips, and please contact the Free Helpdesk for Maryland Blind/Low Vision Transition Students, Families, and Educators anytime using:
Voice mail: Call (443) 320-4003, leave a voice mail message, and we will return your call
This unique project is being coordinated through The IMAGE Center of Maryland, a center for independent living in Towson, and it is funded by a grant from the Maryland Department of Education Division of Special Education/Early Intervention Services.
Video Description: Jazz music plays in the background. IMAGE/VME logo is shown that resembles a gear. Text: Join us next week – April 19-23 as we celebrate National Occupational Therapy Month! Volunteer OTs tell their stories! Celebrate Nat’l Occupational Therapy Month – Daily social media posts @ 12:30pm (April 19-22); Facebook Live event (April 23) @ 12:30pm. Four photos are shown. Three are up close pictures of volunteer occupational therapists. One photo is shown of a volunteer occupational therapist working with a young man who is using a wheelchair. Text: Carol Wheatley. Monday. Photo is shown of Carol Wheatley. Text: Meghan McCormack. Tuesday. Photo is shown of Meghan McCormack. Text: Helene Dubay. Wednesday. Photo is shown of Helene Dubay next to a young man who is using a wheelchair. Text: Marlene Riley. Thursday. Photo is shown of Marlene Riley. Text: 12:30pm. Facebook. Instagram. Daily Posts. Then….. on Friday – Facebook Live Discussion. “OTs, Community, CILs”. 12:30pm. Featuring Dr. Sonia Lawson, Towson University. Friday’s Moderator. Photo is shown of Dr. Sonia Lawson. Text: And Towson U OT Students. Bethany. Hannah. Jonathan. Taylor. Four photos are shown of Towson students Bethany, Hannah, Jonathan, and Taylor. Text: IMAGE VME celebrates OTs next week! @vmeimage. Learn more! Volunteer! Donate! imagemd.org. 410.982.6311.
Monday: Carol Wheatley’s Story
Video Description: Music plays in the background. IMAGE/VME logo is shown that resembles a gear. Text: Volunteer OTs Tell Their Stories. Celebrate Nat’l. Occupational Therapy Month – Daily social media posts @ 12:30pm (April 19-22); Facebook Live Event (April 23) @ 12:30pm. Four photos are shown of volunteer occupational therapists. Three images are shown of up close still photographs of Carol Wheatley during her virtual interview. Text: Carol Wheatley. Volunteer OT. Video Interview is shown of Carol Wheatley. Carol says: “Hi, my name is Carol Wheatley and I’m an occupational therapist. I recently retired from MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital in Baltimore. Prior to that, I worked at the Workforce and Technology Center for many years, and that’s where I first heard about VME. When I was a little girl, my uncle lost his left arm above the elbow in an industrial accident. He showed me his prosthesis, and explained how his therapist taught him to use it. I wanted to help people in the same way. For approximately the past thirty-five years, I’ve been active in VME. Some of my most memorable volunteer experiences were the devices that the engineers built to make it possible for musicians to continue to play – A floor stand for a one-handed trumpet player, and a guitarist who needed a device to hold the guitar on his lap in his wheelchair, as well as a pick holder for his hand. These devices have been so important, as they allow a person to continue to participate in the activities that define who they are, and I’m glad to have been able to contribute, and I want to thank VME for this opportunity and for the work that they do.” Image is shown of a trombone player using a wheelchair and playing his trombone with the support of a stand that is built out of wooden planks, a metal base, and cushioning for the bottom of the trombone to rest upon. Image is shown of a man using a wheelchair and holding an electric guitar that has been adapted to sit comfortably in his lap. A volunteer occupational therapist looks over the man’s shoulder smiling. Text: Thank you Carol. Celebrate with us. National OT Month. This week @ 12:30 daily. Learn more! Volunteer! Donate! imagemd.org. 410.982.6311.
Tuesday: Meghan McCormack’s Story
Video Description: Music plays in the background. IMAGE/VME logo is shown that resembles a gear. Text: Volunteer OTs Tell Their Stories. Celebrate Nat’l. Occupational Therapy Month – Daily social media posts @ 12:30pm (April 19-22); Facebook Live Event (April 23) @ 12:30pm. Four photos are shown of volunteer occupational therapists. Three images are shown of up close still photographs of Meghan McCormack during her virtual interview. Text: Meghan McCormack. Volunteer OT. Video Interview is shown of Meghan McCormack. Meghan says: “Hi, my name is Meghan McCormack. I’m an occupational therapist, and I work for Baltimore City Public Schools. I was first interested in occupational therapy in high school when I was volunteering at a day care, and an occupational therapist would come in and work with some of the kiddos. It was really interesting to me that she would use play as a way to help them develop skills. It looked so fun, and it looked cool, and that’s kind of what got me started on being interested in occupational therapy as a profession. I’ve been volunteering with VME for three years, and the most memorable part of volunteering has been working with the engineers at the monthly meetings, collaborating with them, because truly it is a group of professionals where there are limitless possibilities for coming up with custom solutions, trying to break down these barriers. It’s really shown to me the impact that an occupational therapist can have in these settings, because we truly are experts in function and making sure that the fit between the person and this custom piece of equipment really matches what they want to be able to do, what activity they want to be able to participate in, and what area of their life they are really looking to participate.” Image is shown of Zoom meeting with 16 attendees, including many volunteer engineers. Image is shown of a woman’s hand next to measuring tape. Text: Getting the right fit. Image is shown of a person using an armrest attachment on a wheelchair. Text: Thank you Meghan. Celebrate with us. National OT Month. This week @ 12:30 daily. Learn more! Volunteer! Donate! imagemd.org. 410.982.6311.
Wedesday: Helene Dubay’s Story
Video Description: Music plays in the background. IMAGE/VME logo is shown that resembles a gear. Text: Volunteer OTs Tell Their Stories. Celebrate Nat’l. Occupational Therapy Month – Daily social media posts @ 12:30pm (April 19-22); Facebook Live Event (April 23) @ 12:30pm. Four photos are shown of volunteer occupational therapists. Text: Helene Dubay. OT Volunteer. Angela Tyler, VME Program Manager, narrates: “When we think of long term volunteers, Helene Dubay fits the bill. She has been an OT volunteer for 12 years, and has been going full throttle since day one. Helene reports she was originally going to be a home economics teacher, but there was an abundance of teachers at that time. OT offered an opportunity to still help people, especially with their daily living skills. Plus with OT, there was an opportunity to work in other settings and to transfer if need be. Helene co-chairs our VME monthly client meetings, also known as CST. Helene is part of the team that reviews all client requests, meets with the clients now on Zoom, and makes recommendations for custom devices for our volunteer engineers to build. Helene naturally connects with all of our clients, and is often known for getting hugs along the way. We appreciate the resources, recommendations, and the passion she brings to VME, as well as to the community.” Images are shown: 1) Helene working with a young man who is using a wheelchair. 2) Helene sitting on the floor working with a young girl who sits in an adapted chair. Another woman sits beside them assisting. 3) Helene poses at a vendor table with two other volunteers at a resource fair. 4) Helene sits at a vendor table at a resource fair with another volunteer. 5) Up close photograph of Helene. 6) Helene poses with 8 other volunteers and staff of the IMAGE Center’s Zoo Partners Program. 7) Helene stands beside a girl who is using an adapted bicycle. 8)Helene stretches her arms out to a young boy sitting in a chair, and he stretches his arms back toward her. 9) Helene hugs a girl who is standing next to an adapted bicycle. Text: Thank you Helene! Celebrate with us. National OT Month. 12:30pm daily – this week. Learn more! Volunteer! Donate! imagemd.org. 410.982.6311.
Thursday: Marlene Riley’s Story
Video Description: Music plays in the background. IMAGE/VME logo is shown that resembles a gear. Text: Volunteer OTs Tell Their Stories. Four photos are shown of volunteer occupational therapists. Two up close photographs are shown of Marlene Riley. Text: Marlene Riley. Volunteer OT. In a video interview, Marlene Riley says: “Hi, my name is Marlene Riley, and I’m an occupational therapist and clinical faculty with the Towson University Occupational Therapy Program. I first learned about occupational therapy when I was in high school, and at that time the Maryland Rehabilitation Center had just opened in Baltimore City on Argonne Drive, and it wasn’t very far from where I lived. Like most high school students, I wanted to get a job, so I started working there in the food service department in the summer, and then once school started in the evenings and the weekends. The center was really one of only a few rehab centers in the country, and I didn’t realize that at the time, I just thought that every city had one. That’s actually now the Workforce Technology Center. In addition to the clients that were there for assessments and vocational training, many of the staff also had disabilities. It was really my experience with both the clients and the staff that I learned more about abilities than disabilities. I just felt so inspired by the resilience and abilities of the people that I met, that I really wanted to pursue work in the rehab field. Flash forward to 2013, and I learned about Volunteers with Medical Engineering and looked into volunteering with them. Of all places to be located, they were in the very same building, the Maryland Rehab Center, now Workforce Technology Center. It was really a good experience to sort of come full circle to find out that here I was now actually in the rehab field, and able to contribute in a different way. Thinking about the volunteering and the different clients that we met over the last several years, I thought about a recent project that kind of summarizes the value of volunteering with VME. A particular client had an arm amputation, and in addition she had other mobility limitations and needed a platform walker. She had a platform made using a low temperature plastic, the kind that occupational therapists typically use. But the thing about the low temperature plastic is it doesn’t really hold up over time, so it was no longer functioning for her and she literally was not able to walk without having a platform on her walker. Working closely with two engineers, we were able to design a high temperature plastic, and the thing is that as an OT I understand the functionality and I understand the type of design, but I can’t do CAD drawings and I don’t have that engineering kind of background. Working with the two engineers, we were able to make a new platform and line it with something that was more durable, and the client was able to resume her mobility. I can remember the three of us, the two engineers and myself, looking at this client. She told us that she hadn’t been able to use her walker in over a year, but she said it actually took that long for her to find VME and to connect and be able to have the device made. That just warmed my heart so much, because it really impressed that to me the creativity and innovation of the volunteers working together can provide solutions and enable clients to demonstrate their abilities rather than disabilities.” Images shown: 1) Sign that says: Workforce & Technology Center. 2301 Argonne Drive. 2) Platform for walker with a plastic concave armrest. 3) Up close view of the armrest on the platform. 4) CAD drawing of the armrest and platform. 5) Platform attached to walker. 6) Marlene standing next to a woman using the platform on her walker. Text: Thank you Marlene. Tomorrow – Fri. April 23. 12:30-1pm. Facebook Live Discussion. “OTs, CILs & Community”. @vmeimage. Learn more! Volunteer! Donate! imagemd.org. 410.982.6311.