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Disability Rights Activists along with Taxi and Limo driver groups to protest City Hall

Over 100 taxis and Uber Black limos, UberX, as well as disability advocates will join together to call for an end to the discriminatory practices of ride hailing company Uber during a protest in front of City Hall at 12:30pm, today, February 11th.

The drivers and the disability community are calling on Mayor Jim Kenney to step in to prevent discrimination by Uber’s ride-hailing service, UberX, along with competitors like Lyft. “UberX discriminates against people in wheelchairs, people with service animals, even pregnant women in labor,” said Thomas H. Earle, civil rights attorney and CEO of Liberty Resources, Inc.  Nationally, Uber is brushing off numerous discrimination lawsuits by claiming the Americans with Disabilities Act does not apply to them. “This is a fight for our civil rights. Philadelphia’s disability rights community fought for wheelchair-accessible taxis for decades.”

Only six out of 1,600 taxis are currently accessible. In Philadelphia, Uber charges passengers in wheelchairs more than twice the rate charged to other passengers. UberWAV costs $3 per mile, compared to $1.10 per mile for UberX.  In contrast, the law requires taxis and limos to charge the same rate to all riders with or without wheelchairs or service animals. Ride-hailing services like UberX are operating illegally in Philadelphia, with no protections for riders or drivers. Accidents with UberX vehicles may not be covered by insurance. Even in the face of multiple class-action lawsuits, Uber insists UberX drivers are contractors rather than employees, meaning drivers have no right to earn minimum wage or organize a union.  Uber is lobbying hard in Harrisburg to pass Senate Bill 984, which would legalize ride-hailing companies without requiring them to play by the same rules as taxis and limos. Last year, then-Councilman Kenney sponsored a resolution calling on the state to legalize UberX and Lyft in Philadelphia. The Mayor’s spokeswoman defended Uber in January, saying, “We use them all the time.”

See LRI delivers signed petitions asking for an end to discriminatory practices by Uber.

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Who was Ed Roberts?

As one of the pioneers of the Independent Living movement, Ed Roberts has had a profound and lasting impact on improving the lives of people with disabilities.

Roberts was born on January 23, 1939.  At the age of 14, he contracted polio and became paralyzed from the neck down, except for two fingers on one hand and several toes. He slept in an iron lung at night.

His career as an advocate began when a high school administrator threatened to deny his diploma because he had not completed driver’s education and PhysEd. He then had to be his own advocate to get the support he needed to attend college, because his own rehabilitation counselor thought he was too severely disabled to ever get a job. He later went on to create the Berkeley Center for Independent Living, the first independent living service and advocacy program run by and for people with disabilities.

In 1976, Roberts was appointed Director of the California Department of Vocational Rehabilitation–the same agency that had once labeled him too severely disabled to work.
Hundreds of CILs around the world are based on his original model.  

It’s in the spirit of Ed Roberts that Liberty Resources continues his work to advocate with and for people with disabilities.

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Report indicates hunger is highest among people with disabilities

Food insecurity rates among households that include adults with disabilities are well above the overall national food insecurity rate of 14.3 percent, based on the most recent evidence. According to USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS), food insecurity impacts one-third of households with a working-age adult who is out of the labor force due to disability1, and one-quarter of households with a working-age adult with a disability who has remained in the workforce.2

Adults with disabilities also experience disproportionate rates of “very low food security” (previously referred to as “food insecurity with hunger”), the most serious subcategory of food insecurity. Half of food insecure households that include adults with disabilities experience “very low food security,” compared to one-third of all food insecure households.

Click the link to read the full report

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Nearly 1 in 3 people with disabilities live in poverty

A confluence of factors ranging from prejudice to the complexity of support systems are leaving people with disabilities disproportionately impoverished, a congressional report finds.

More than two decades after the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the nation has made significant progress in ensuring that places are physically accessible, but a 2014 investigation by the U.S. Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee finds that major social and economic barriers remain.

The committee solicited feedback from more than 400 Americans with all types of disabilities over the summer. What they learned was that this population is struggling to find work, maintain needed supports and access basic infrastructure like transportation. Overall, twice as many people with disabilities live in poverty as compared to those who are typically developing and less than 30 percent of working-age people in this population are participating in the workforce, far less than the 78 participation rate for other Americans, according to the Senate report.

Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, the committee’s chairman called the current situation an “urgent national challenge.”

“Congress needs to address these concerns,” Harkin said at a hearing Thursday to discuss the issue. “We need strategies to break through these barriers and create paths to the middle class for the nearly 29 percent of people with disabilities living in poverty.”

Steps ought to be taken to increase the availability of accessible housing and transportation, the committee report found, and to simplify communication around available government programs to ensure that people with disabilities understand what supports are offered and how to qualify for them.

Click here to read the full article.

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Who invented the braille alphabet?

Braille was invented by a nineteenth century man named Louis Braille, who was completely blind.

Braille’s story starts when he was three years old. He was playing in his father’s shop in Coupvray, France, and somehow managed to injure his eye. Though he was offered the best medical attention available at the time, it wasn’t enough—an infection soon developed and spread to his other eye, rendering him blind in both eyes. While a tragedy for him, had this accident not happened, we wouldn’t have braille today.

There was a system of reading in place for the blind at the time, which consisted of tracing a finger along raised letters. However, this system meant that reading was painfully slow and it was difficult to discerning by touch the relatively complex letters of the alphabet. As a result, many people struggled to master the embossed letter system.

braille-alphabetIn 1821, Braille’s teacher, Dr. Alexandre Francois-Rene Pignier, invited a man named Charles Barbier to speak to a classroom of young blind students at the National Institute for Blind Youth in Paris. Barbier had developed a “night writing” system for the military using raised dots after Napoleon requested a system of communication that soldiers could use even in darkness without making any sound in the process.

Barbier’s system was too complex for the military and was rejected. However, it was thought that it might be useful for the blind, which led Dr. Pignier to invite Barbier to come demonstrate it.

As it stood, the Barbier invention wasn’t quite up to functioning as a system of touch-based reading and writing, being overly complex (using a 6×6 dot matrix to represent letters and certain phonemes).  Further, this large dot matrix made it so unless you had very large fingertips, you couldn’t feel all the dots in a single matrix without moving your finger. Still, Braille was inspired and, as a young teenager, he began experimenting. He took a piece of paper, a slate, and a stylus, punching holes and attempting to find something that worked.

In 1825, Braille was just barely sixteen, but he thought he had hit upon something that was functional and superior to the existing embossed letter system. His original code consisted of six dots arranged in two parallel rows, each set of rows representing a letter. This configuration was simpler than Barbier’s system, but still versatile enough to allow for up to 64 variations, enough for all the letters of the alphabet and punctuation. It was also easily adapted to languages other than French. Most importantly, rather than needing to trace out a whole letter, it was much easier to feel the configuration of dots, making reading for the blind significantly faster and easier.

Dr. Pignier was pleased with Braille’s work and encouraged his students to use Braille’s new system. Unfortunately when Dr. Pignier introduced The History of France written in braille for his students, he was dismissed from his position as headmaster, due to his insistence on pushing Braille’s system rather than the standard embossed letter system of the day.

Nonetheless, Braille himself became a teacher at the Institute and taught his code to the students who passed through, spreading the knowledge.

In 1834, when Braille was in his mid-20s, he was invited to demonstrate the uses of braille at the Exposition of Industry, which was being held in Paris that year, further spurring its popularity. By this time, Braille had also published a book about how to use the code. It was mostly written in embossed letters with braille thrown in to demonstrate its use.

Despite this, the National Institute for Blind Youth that Braille worked at still refused to officially adopt his system.  It wouldn’t be until 1854, two years after Braille died and eight years after a school in Amsterdam started using it as their primary reading/writing system, that Braille’s former school finally adopted braille due to students overwhelmingly demanding the change.  By the late nineteenth century, braille had been adopted throughout most of the world, excepting the United States, who held out until 1916.


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2017 LRI Board of Directors Meetings

Meetings of Liberty Resources’ Board of Directors are listed below.  LRI Board meetings are open to our Consumers, Staff and invited guests.  Meetings are held from 4 – 6pm with dinner is served at 3:30.

801 Arch Street
6th Floor
Wade Blank Room A

  • Thursday, January 19, 2017
  • Thursday, March 16, 2017
  • Thursday, May 18, 2017
  • Thursday, July 20, 2017
  • Thursday, September 14, 2017
  • ANNUAL MEETING: Thursday, November 16, 2017

Click here to check out upcoming events at Liberty Resources!

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Wade Blank, champion of the early disability rights movement and ADAPT founder

Wade Blank began his lifelong struggle in civil rights activism with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Selma, Alabama.  It was during this period that he learned about the stark oppression, which occurred against people considered to be outside the “mainstream” of our “civilized” society.  By 1971, Wade was working in a nursing facility, Heritage House, trying to improve the quality of life of some of the younger residents.  These efforts ultimately failed.  Institutional services and living arrangements were at odds with the pursuit of personal liberties and life with dignity.

In 1974, Wade founded the Atlantis Community, a model for community-based, consumer-controlled, independent living.  The Atlantis Community provided personal assistance services primarily under the control of the consumer within a community setting.   The first consumers of the Atlantis Community were some of the young residents “freed” from Heritage House by Wade (after he had been fired).  Initially, Wade provided personal assistance services to nine people by himself for no pay so that these individuals could integrate into society and live lives of liberty and dignity.  In 1978, Wade and Atlantis realized that access to public transportation was a necessity if people with disabilities were to live independently in the community.  This was the year that the American Disabled for Accessible Public Transit (ADAPT) was founded.

Today, Liberty Resources continues the work of Wade Blank through its Nursing Home Transition program and the Transition to Freedom Fund.  Click here to learn more about the Transition to Freedom Fund.



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Help shape the statewide agenda for independent living by telling YOUR story!



Tell your story about living with a disability to the people who will develop the next three-year Statewide Plan on Independent Living (SPIL)


Date:      Thursday, November 12, 2015

Time:      11:00 am – 2:00 pm

Where:    Liberty Resources, Inc.   714 Market Street, Wade Blank Room, 2nd Floor   Philadelphia, PA 19106

Sponsored by: Pennsylvania Statewide Independent Living Council (PASILC) in partnership with Liberty Resources and the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR).


If you are unable to attend in person, written testimony may be submitted (by December 31, 2015) to: PASILC, 207 House Street, Suite 107, Camp Hill, PA 17011 or email to  To reserve your spot and to request accommodations, call Fran at (215) 634-2000, ext. 225.

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End of August Events at LRI

Don’t miss out on these end-of-the-month activities at Liberty Resources, 714 Market Street, Philadelphia.  It may be hot and humid outside but it is cool and comfortable inside LRI. 

Thursday, August 20:  Managed Care Update.  Come and learn what has happened since last month’s Update.  2:30-4:00 PM, Wade Blank A Room.  

Friday, August 21:  Getting to Know You…& You & You. New Social Group will focus on meeting new people building friendships and community participation.  1:00-3:00 PM, Wade Blank B Room.  For more information, call Chris at 215-634-2000, Ext. 217. 

Wednesday, August 26: Fair Housing Workshop. Learn about your housing rights and what to do if you believe your landlord is discriminating against you.  1:00-3:00 PM, Wade Blank B Room.  Call Katie at 215-634-2000, Ext. 412. 

Wednesday, August 26:  SciFi Connections. Watch a television science fiction program and follow-up with discussion and refreshments.  2:00-4:00 PM, Wade Blank A room. Call Patrick at 215-634-2000, Ext. 695.


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Home and Community Based Services Supports Coordinator

This position is funded through the Department of Welfare’s (DPW) Office of Long Term Living (OLTL) and provides consumer directed services to a caseload of approximately 55-60 consumers.  SC ensures consumers receive the services needed to live, learn, work and socialize in their communities.  This includes the ability to identify, provide and maintain regular supports to assure continuity of care while maintaining compliance with all contract and funding regulations.

Time: 9AM–5PM *Flexibility in your work schedule will be required.

Days: Monday-Friday

Hours Per Week: *37.5

Click on the link to read the full description





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