June 2017

Louisiana Launches ABLE Program

The ABLE National Resource Center, managed by National Disability Institute (NDI), is excited to congratulate the State of Louisiana on becoming the 23rd state to launch an ABLE program. The Louisiana ABLE program, named LA ABLE, will be managed by the Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance (LAOFSA) and the Louisiana Tuition Trust Authority (LATTA). Louisiana ABLE Accounts will only be available to eligible Louisiana residents with disabilities.

LA ABLE allows qualified individuals with disabilities to save up to $14,000 a year in an ABLE account without jeopardizing their eligibility for federally-funded means tested benefits, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid. The funds in the account can be used for disability-related expenses that assist the beneficiary in increasing and/or maintaining his or her health, independence or quality of life.

For more information on the LA ABLE program and how to enroll, please visit www.able.osfa.la.gov.


Connections 2017 will be hosted at HDC in New Orleans on August 25-26 by the Louisiana Deafblind Project for Children and Youth and the Collaborative for Students with Unique Communication Needs. More information can be found here, with registration link below:

Connections 2017 Event Website Link:
This site links to the electronic on-line registration form and payment information. It also links you to download a copy of the registration form if paying by check.

Connections 2017 Direct Link to On-Line Registration Form:
This link allows you to complete the on-line registration form and then at the end has a link to the above page for entering payment information.

HDC Partners with Team Gleason for ALS Conference: Follow-up

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In partnership with Team Gleason, the Human Development Center hosted a conference addressing communication strategies for people with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). The two-day conference called ALS, Communication and All That Jazz took place June 9 and 10, 2017, at the LSU Health New Orleans’ Human Development Center, 411 South Prieur Street. About 120 people were in attendance in what is hoped to be the first annual conference.  The feedback from the participants was overwhelming positive:

  • “Wonderful conference.”  “Fantastic.”  “All speakers were amazing!” “Great conference, very worthwhile.” “Please make it annual.”
  • “One of the best conferences I have ever attended for ALS. All speakers were very knowledgeable and engaging.”
  • “This conference was an excellent value for the speakers and CEUs provided. Thank you so much for initiating it. I would definitely return!”
  • “The pALS panel was very powerful and an eye-opening look into life with ALS for the individual as well as their care-takers.”
  • “Seeing ALS patients for the first time reminded me why I am doing the research I’m doing.”
  • “Excellent. Thank you for this affordable, content-rich opportunity.”

During the conference, national experts addressed subjects including no-tech, low-tech and high-tech augmentative communication strategies, pro-active message banking, strategies to enhance speech clarity, voice banking, partner-assisted scanning and laser pointer with low-tech boards, assessment and feature matching for speech-generating technology, successful use of computer/AAC device strategies, as well as environmental controls and home automation systems for all budgets. Attendees also participated in a hands-on demo and practice with communication technologies. The presenters included John Costello and Peggy Dellea from Boston Children’s Hospital, Lisa Bardach from ALS of Michigan, and Team Gleason’s Austin Edenfield. The highlight of the conference was a panel discussion with six people with ALS (pALS) and their primary caregivers (cALS) who offered their insights on communication strategies. Links to the agenda and associated presentations, handouts and videos can be found here.

Nutrition Is for Everyone – June 2017

At the close of the first pilot year, the Louisiana project looks back and celebrates its successes. Over the last year, the project offered four Cooking Matters courses that taught individuals with disabilities and their family members and friends the skills and confidence to eat, cook and shop healthfully on a budget. These six-week courses engaged more than 70 participants in hands-on nutrition and culinary instruction where they chopped, mixed and stirred their way to healthier diets. Additionally, our project selected and trained seven Deputy Nutrition Ambassadors, including individuals both with and without disabilities, to act as nutrition instructors and advocates in their communities. Response to the program has been overwhelmingly positive and many participants report improvements in dietary behaviors even six to eight weeks after the end of Cooking Matters classes. Cooking Matters is a program of Share Our Strength, a national organization working to end childhood hunger in the United States, and more information can be found at cookingsmatter.org.

In the coming year, the Louisiana project is excited to expand its programming to reach even more people across the state of Louisiana. The project will pilot single day nutrition education events, in addition to the six-week Cooking Matters courses, where participants will learn how to integrate more fruits and vegetables into their diets. The project also looks forward to selecting and welcoming its new Deputies for the coming year.