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Accessible Assistive Technology Resources Bridges Blog Independent Living Resources Series: Diving Into December 2021

Diving Into December: Organizing Your Mail

Throughout December, we have reflected on the previous year, and we have begun to set goals for the swiftly approaching New Year. December is a great time to get organized to be ready for all that the holiday season and the New Year has to offer, so get excited to dive into these topics with us this month:

  • Organizing Your Wallet
  • Organizing Your Kitchen
  • Organizing Your Clothing
  • Organizing Your Mail

In this fourth installment of our “Diving into December” series, we will take a look at the best ways to organize mail and other important printed documents.

Why It Matters

Even though many organizations and government agencies have gone paperless, many still send out important notices and action items in the mail. It may not be as common as it once was, but keeping on top of your mail and ensuring that you are holding on to important documentation is a key part of transition and moving into adulthood. Read below to learn more about how to organize your mail, whether it is junk mail, an action item, or an important notice.

Reading Mail

The first step to organizing mail is to know what each piece of mail is and what it says. There are a variety of ways to do this, including:

Types of Mail

Being aware of which kinds of mail and documents are important can help you have a better idea of how you may want to sort them. Here is an overview of some types of mail or documentation you can expect:

  • Important Notices: Holding onto any notices you receive /is important because you may need to offer them as documentation in the future. For example, you could receive a notice that your student loan of a particular amount was approved, or you may receive your benefits letter from the Social Security Administration (SSA).
  • Action Items: One form of mail is the action item letter. SSA may be sending you a letter to check in with you, or a doctor’s office may be sending you a bill for a co-pay you owe. You will want to take note of what the sender is asking and how they suggest you take action, such as going online, calling a specific phone number, or sending in a letter or check.
  • Identifying Documentation: Many schools, apartment complex applications, and training facilities require that you submit critical documentation, including your social security card, birth certificate, or immunization records. These are important documents to keep set aside so that you can be sure not to lose them.
  • Junk Mail: Junk mail can take the form of advertisements or anything that you feel is not relevant to you. There is not much you need to do with junk mail, although it is worth noting that being sure to dispose of the mail is important because it will help you avoid piling up mail that you would then have to go through once again.

Organizing Mail

Once you know what all of the items are and you have an understanding of these kinds of mail, you may then organize them accordingly. Here are some tips for organizing mail and other important documents:

  • Envelopes: Using large envelopes to organize mail can help you keep track of and then locate particularly important documents. You may use brightly colored envelopes, Braille your own envelopes, or make some sort of tactile indication on the envelopes to differentiate them. An alternative to this method is creating labels on index cards and using paper clips to keep the index card with the corresponding mail item.
  • Filing System: At any basic office supply store, you can find an accordion file folder that is divided into sections by paper or plastic. You could label each section in Braille or with your favorite indicators to know what papers are contained in each section.
  • WayAround: WayAround sells labels (called WayTags) specifically to help with office organization. You may purchase WayTags and then use the WayAround app to type in what you want to be spoken when each label is scanned. You might choose to include a simple label about what the item is, or you could add in any information that you want to be sure to have on file for yourself in the future. Then, you can use the app later to scan the WayTag for each file and hear the label and any other stored information read aloud to you.

Contact us

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.

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Accessible Assistive Technology Resources Bridges Blog Independent Living Resources Series: Diving Into December 2021

Diving Into December: Organizing Your Clothing

Throughout December, we have reflected on the previous year, and we have begun to set goals for the swiftly approaching New Year. December is a great time to get organized to be ready for all that the holiday season and the New Year has to offer, so get excited to dive into these topics with us this month:

  • Organizing Your Wallet
  • Organizing Your Kitchen
  • Organizing Your Clothing
  • Organizing Your Mail

In this third installment of our “Diving into December” series, we will take a look at the best ways to organize clothing so that you feel confident in what you wear wherever you go.

Why It Matters

Wearing clothing that you can identify is important, whether you are dressing for an internship or you want to be sure you are reaching for your favorite t-shirt on a casual Saturday. Organizing and identifying clothing can feel like a very visual task, but with a few tips and tricks, you can feel confident that you are selecting clothing from your wardrobe that matches and suits the occasion.

Labeling and Organizing Clothing

Everyone has a different way to organize and identify clothing, and we encourage you to develop the system that works best for you. Reference this list to get some ideas for how to create your own organization system:

  • A simple cut in the tag of a piece of clothing can help you differentiate between items. For example, you could put a vertical cut in the tag of all of your black clothing items, a diagonal cut in the tag of all of your gray clothing items, and a horizontal cut in the tag of all of your navy items.
  • Strategic closet or drawer organizing can help keep items in their proper place for quick access. Perhaps you have one side of the closet for shirts, and another for pants. Perhaps you choose to organize your closet by color or season.
  • You never have to worry about matching socks again with pairing tools, such as safety pins or sock locks. You can simply take off your socks after a long day and either (1) use a safety pin to keep them together or (2) feed them through the plastic holder to keep them together. Both will keep your socks paired through the laundry process – both washing and drying, and they keep your socks together in the sock drawer as well. Safety pins can be purchased from dollar stores or retailers like Wal-Mart or Target, and sock locks can be purchased on Amazon or from specialty retailers like the NFB Independence Market sock locks (Item number AIG59S), LS&S sock locks,  and Maxi-Aids sock locks.
  • Consider going through your wardrobe once a year or so with a friend, family member, or hired shopper to ensure that your clothing is free of stains or other natural wear and tear so that you can always feel confident that you look your best!

Specific Labeling Ideas

You may feel that you want to have the maximum information available to you on your clothing labels. There are several different options that involve attaching a customized label to your clothing using a pin or a needle and thread:

  • WayAround: WayAround has a special line of labels (WayTags) that can be attached to clothing using a needle and thread. Once you have gotten your WayTags, you can download the WayAround app and create the content for each label. You could choose to include the color, laundry instructions, and style of dress (casual, professional, formal, etc.). Then, when you scan the tag later with the app, all of the tag information you entered in will be read aloud to you.
  • Braille Clothing Labels: These premade Braille aluminum labels can be attached to your clothing with a needle and thread or a pin. The labels are very small and are safe to launder. They are available from specialty retailers like the NFB Independence Market labels (Item numbers AIG44B and AIG86B), LS&S labels, and Maxi-Aids labels.

Contact us

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.

Categories
Accessible Assistive Technology Resources Bridges Blog Independent Living Resources Series: Diving Into December 2021

Diving Into December: Organizing Your Kitchen

As we enter December, we reflect on the previous year and begin to set goals for the swiftly approaching New Year. December is a great time to get organized to be ready for all that the holiday season and the New Year has to offer, so get excited to dive into these topics with us this month:

  • Organizing Your Wallet
  • Organizing Your Kitchen
  • Organizing Your Clothing
  • Organizing Your Mail

In this second installment of our “Diving into December” series, we will take a look at the best ways to organize visually-labeled items in your kitchen.

Why It Matters

Even if you are not much of a fan of cooking or have little exposure to how to cook nonvisually, keeping an organized kitchen can help you feel more confident in terms of preparing basic meals independently. You can organize your kitchen with various labels and/or strategic shelving, and then you can quickly locate any item you need without any hesitation. Whether you have goals of preparing quick meals or becoming a full-fledged chef, keeping an organized kitchen that is easy for you to navigate is key to whatever cooking activity you want to accomplish.

Methods for Labeling

Labeling items in Braille or audio indications can help you to quickly identify items in your kitchen. There are many ways to do this, and we encourage you to experiment and decide which method works best for you or use a combination of these methods:

Braille labels

You can create Braille labels at home using basic adhesive labels or Dymo Tape, and a slate and stylus or Braille writer. We recommend Braille labeling items that will last a long time, such as a spice container.

WayAround

This product is an app that you can download to your phone that allows you to create and scan labels (called WayTags) that you can purchase from the WayAround website. You could include anything you want in the label, including important notes such as what the item is, its expiration date, nutrition facts, and any cooking instructions. After creating the label, you can place it on an item, and later when you want to identify it, you can scan it with the app and your phone will speak aloud everything that you included in the label. Learn more about WayAround’s kitchen-specific labels here.

PenFriend

This is a device that allows you to create labels using your voice. You can include anything you want in the label, and then scan it later to identify it using the PenFriend device. The PenFriend will then play your recorded voice saying what the product is and any other item information you included in the recording. Find out more about the PenFriend here.  

Other Ways to Identify Items

Labeling is a fantastic way to keep your kitchen organized, but it can take time, and, depending on the labels used, there can be cost involved. There are other ways to maintain organization even when time and money are limited:

Strategic item placement

Establishing a system where you plan to store certain items in specific places can be a helpful way to identify items without necessarily having to label them. Perhaps you keep your favorite cereal all the way on the left-hand side of the cupboard, or maybe you keep canned soups on the bottom shelf and all other cans on the upper shelf. Or perhaps you keep the pepperoni frozen pizza above the veggie frozen pizza so that you always know which one you want to grab depending on your preference.

Tactile indicators

Placing a tactile indicator quickly on an item can be a fast and easy way to ensure you will be able to identify it. Do you want to make sure you eat the frozen green beans instead of the frozen veggies? You could place a snack bag clip on one of the bags to instantly tell them apart. Do you want to have the broccoli cheddar soup instead of the loaded potato? You can place a rubber band around one can to tell them apart. You could even put a small notch in the lid of a spice container using a knife to serve as a tactile indicator. For example, you could put a notch in the salt lid so you can tell it apart from the pepper by feel. Remember to make a very small notch or blemish which would be tactile, but not such a strong tactile mark that the lid would then be open.

Get creative

Think of ways to organize your kitchen that will be both memorable and workable for you. Remember that you are the one who needs to access the food items, and so making a system that works for you is key. The Bridges Helpdesk is here to help you brainstorm ideas to ensure that your kitchen is exactly how you want it to be regardless of the task at hand.

Contact us

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.

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Live Chat

I AM: Monday, December 13, 2021

Community planning is a portion of the government involving the creation of strategies to achieve social, economic, and environmental sustainability. Planners have the power to make changes at the neighborhood level so knowing your local planners and what they do is important if you want to have a voice in those changes. Community planning has a history of exclusion when it comes to disability and that needs to change. This presentation discusses how to include those with disabilities in neighborhood planning and the ways in which community members can get involved in the planning process. 

Recording of the Independence Amplified Maryland event from December 13, 2021.

Don’t forget to visit our registration website to donate to support these events or register for upcoming calls!

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Teen Blog

Teen and Young Adult Programs December 2021 Newsletter

News from IMAGE Teen and Young Adult Programs December, 2021

Highlights

Keep Kids Connected this Holiday Break
Keep your kids engaged this holiday season! There are lots of resources and business’s in our community that promote opportunities for recreational activities and events for Teens and Young Adults with disabilities. Does your family have a favorite activity that you engage in over the holidays or winter break?! Share it with us at IMAGE jleone@imagemd.org We are excited to share new resources with families for continued engagement.

IMAGE of a Sky Zone facility: trampolines and foam pit.
IMAGE: Inside a Sky Zone facility. Shown is a trampoline and foam pit area.

Sky Zone: Sensory Hours


Visit https://www.skyzone.com/programs/sensory-hours to find a park near you and a schedule for holiday break sensory hours.

Picture of a iFly Indoor Skydiving building
IMAGE: The outside of a iFLY Indoor Skydiving building.

iFLY: All Abilities Night


Visit https://www.iflyworld.com/programs/all-abilities/ for specially designed flying event nights.

Peer Mentor Spotlight

Cartoon Sticky Note that says "Next Time".
IMAGE: A post it note cartoon image that says “Next Time”.


Fall Application is CLOSED!

Applications for students wishing to become Peer Mentors for the Fall session of the Connect program have now closed!


Interested in applying for Peer Mentorship?


Application will reopen this winter! Stay tuned!


Questions? Email Jessica Leone at Jleone@imagemd.org


Celebrating Fearless Moments

At IMAGE we encourage our teens and young adults to step outside of their comfort zone to reach their greatest potential. One way that we do that is by reminding students that is okay to be unapologetically themselves, fearless of who they are and what others may or may not think of them. We hope this month’s celebration of fearlessness past and present inspires you to celebrate yourself and all that you contribute to the world around you!


Here is to being FEARLESSLY you today!

Female student handing cash to a store employee during a Connect Program session.
IMAGE: A female student exchanging money at a store register during a Connect Program session.

Taking it back with this image of long term program participant Karissa Phillips tackling money handling, communication and organization skills during a past Connect holiday shopping event. Karissa is presently still participating in our Connect program for teen and young adults now as a Peer Mentor where she assists other participants in reaching their greatest level of independence.

Two hands connecting two separate puzzle pieces.
IMAGE: Two hands fitting together two separate puzzle pieces.

The Connect Program
THE FALL SESSION IS FULL!!! Stay tuned for future session registrations.

October 19th 6-7pm (Virtual)November 2nd 6-8pm (In-Person)November 16th 6-7pm (Virtual)November 30th 6-8pm (In-Person)December 14th 6-7pm (Virtual)December 28th (In-Person)

The Connect Program is a program that empowers teens and young adults with disabilities to step outside of their comfort zone, make connections with their community, build social experiences and recognize and achieve skills needed for increased independence in adulthood. These skills include money management, time management, social and communication skills, personal hygiene, meal planning and decision making skills just to name a few.

Contact jleone@imagemd.org learn more.

IMAGE: Student work samples from a PreETS Training session exploring the questions “What is Self-Advocacy?”

PreETS Self Awareness and Self Advocacy Training Program
Registration is currently full for our current sessions. Inquire today about winter session availability.

Want to be referred for this program? Contact Jessica Leone jleone@imagemd.org for information
The Self Awareness & Self Advocacy Training program through DORS is a five week program utilizing curriculum designed to empower teens with disabilities to explore areas of self awareness and promote the importance of self advocacy to enhance the overall independence and vocational opportunity of each student. During this program students will work with professional staff from The IMAGE Center to begin to engage in curriculum addressing Self Awareness & Advocacy, Disclosing Disability, Rights, Future Outlook, Transition Outlook and Utilizing Resources.
Contact jleone@imagemd.org learn more.

Support Youth Programs at The IMAGE Center

plant growing in cupped hands
IMAGE: A pair of hands holding a growing plant.

Sponsor a Student Today!

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