September 4, 2015
by Sara Croft   |   0 Comments

Today's staff spotlight features JerriAnn McFarland, Office Manager of Deaf Community Services. JerriAnn has dedicated 16 years to Easter Seals Crossroads through assisting individuals who are Deaf, and she continues to make a difference in our community each and every day. We asked JerriAnn to tell us more about why she decided to learn sign language, why she joined Easter Seals Crossroads, and what keeps her motivated.


When did you decide to learn sign language? What made you come to that decision?

I don’t think I ever really decided to learn sign language. It was the language used in the household when I was born. Both my grandparents were Deaf so learning to sign was not really an option but a necessity in order to communicate with them.

Has sign language impacted you in ways other than employment? If so, how?

I believe sign language has impacted my life by becoming a big part of my life. I have many friends who are Deaf, as well as family members, so being able to effectively communicate with them means a lot to me.

What got you interested in applying for a position with Easter Seals Crossroads? Or, how did you hear about the job and why did you want to apply?

I became interested in applying for a job with Deaf Community Services as a way to make my Grandpa proud of me, and to feel a part of the Deaf world. My mom was/is a working interpreter and my grandparents were Deaf so this was my “in” I was already part of the community but I needed to feel like I had role in the community.

How long have you been a staff member?

I have been a staff member since February 15, 1999. Wow, seeing that in black and white makes it seem so official. It doesn’t feel like it’s been 16 years.

What keeps you motivated to be the best at what you do?

My motivation to do my best stems from actually loving what I do, and having a purpose. I also know that being here made my grandpa so proud and now that he is no longer here I feel this keeps me connected to him.

Is there a story of someone you have served that has stayed with you over the years?

All of the clients that I have worked with in one capacity or another have a place in my heart, so to give a specific story is a bit of a challenge to me. I appreciate knowing the clients trust me and are appreciative when they continue to see me year after year.

Visit our web page for more information about sign language interpretation, case management services, and requesting an interpreter through Deaf Community Services.


September 2, 2015
by Sara Croft   |   0 Comments

Project SEARCH Indiana is underway at both the Community Hospital North and East locations. High school students with disabilities are enrolled in the program to help them transition out of school by experiencing a workplace environment where they have roles and responsibilities. 

Kelly Pattison, a newly hired job coach, has spent her time assisting the students with employment skills. She has provided them with business cards they can hand out to their colleagues and offers guidance to assist them with understanding the nuances of employment that many people take for granted. 

Nick Interviewing

Nick is interviewing for an internship at Heart Hospital Rehab. He got a hair cut and wore a suit for the big day. He is holding his business card, which he will give to his interviewer.

Cody with environmental services

Cody is interning for Environmental Services. He came to the program extremely eager and wanted to clean.

Kwame at the Sleep Center

Kwame is interning at the Sleep Center. His goal is to be a manager, and the Sleep Center is teaching him all kinds of office skills: computer indexing, scanning, copying, assembling folders for doctors, and making coffee.

Maria in maternity

Maria is interning at Maternity. This is a big job. The maternity department is two floors. In this picture, Maria and I are with Sarah. Sarah is a graduate of Project SEARCH and is employed in this department. She now assists in training current interns.

Project SEARCH Indiana exists at both Community Hospital North and East thanks to the work of Angie LeGrande, Keith Fox and Kelly Pattison. These Easter Seals Crossroads staff members are dedicated to not only assisting these students with their internships, but also providing them with valuable skills they will use for the rest of their lives. To learn more about Project SEARCH Indiana and the five collaborating agencies, visit http://www.eastersealscrossroads.org/project-search-indiana

August 12, 2015
by Sara Croft   |   0 Comments

For the fourth year in a row, Easter Seals Crossroads has been selected as the charity partner for The Glo Run – a glow-in-the-dark nighttime 5k run/walk – in Indianapolis. Race participants will make their way through a neon safari of lights, the GLOasis, kissing giraffe tunnels, the cheetah’s den, and more before finishing for the base camp bash.

Person Being Painted with Glo Paint

However, all of that fun can’t happen if there aren’t volunteers to hand out glo swag at registration, help direct racers on the course, provide water at water stations, and cheer everyone on as they cross the finish line.

Easter Seals Crossroads is recruiting 35 volunteers for this year’s event on Saturday, September 5 at White River State Park in downtown Indianapolis from 6:00 to 10:30 p.m.

Volunteers will receive a neon t-shirt to wear while volunteering and have access to the live DJ base camp bash. Please contact Tessa Barnard, Volunteer Coordinator, at tbarnard@eastersealscrossroads.org if you’re interested in volunteering. The Glo Run is responsible for assigning volunteer duties depending on their needs for the evening.
You can run/walk in The Glo Run and help Easter Seals Crossroads too! Use the code easterseals to get your 5K run/walk registration for only $25 and 10% of that will come back to us. Registration includes a neon t-shirt, glo swag, and a ticket to the base camp bash following the race. Registrants can also opt to donate to Easter Seals Crossroads when they sign up to attend, and any donation over $5 means even more glo gear for the participant.

For more information about The Glo Run, visit http://theglorun.com/indianapolis/index.html.

August 11, 2015
by Sara Croft   |   0 Comments

In 2014, the unemployment rate for individuals with a disability was 12.5%, more than double the 5.9% for those with no disability according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Why is this percentage exceedingly higher for individuals with a disability? According to authors Jenell L.S. Wittmer, an assistant professor of management at the University of Toledo, and Leslie Wilson, president and CEO of Wilson Resources, while employers who hire individuals with disabilities regularly experience less turnover, less absenteeism and higher productivity, front-line staff and hiring managers continue to have uncertainties about hiring workers with disabilities due to preconceived myths.

Check out this list of 5 debunked myths from our Indiana Government about hiring individuals with disabilities and the true facts behind them.

MYTH: The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) forces employers to hire unqualified individuals with disabilities.
FACT: Applicants who are unqualified for a job cannot claim discrimination under the ADA. Under the ADA, to be protected from discrimination in hiring, an individual with a disability must be qualified, which means he or she must meet all requirements for a job and be able to perform its essential functions with or without reasonable accommodations. No accommodation must be provided if it would result in an undue hardship on the employer. At Easter Seals Crossroads, each of our job applicants develop a thorough job plan, which identifies their needs and goals prior to starting their job search. This allows us to match job candidates with careers using an individualized approach.

Assistive Technology computer with keyboard

MYTH: Accommodating workers with disabilities costs too much.
FACT: Reasonable accommodation is usually far less expensive than many people think and in many cases is similar to the accommodations for employees without disabilities, such as technology and workplace ergonomics. At Easter Seals Crossroads, accommodations for our job candidates are identified as part of their individual job plans so both the employer and the employee know from the beginning what accommodations will be necessary. Our Assistive Technology Clinicians provide on-the-job evaluations and recommendations for necessary equipment and computer software. We work closely with Vocational Rehabilitation, a state-funded agency, which may provide funding for those services. 

MYTH: Under the ADA, employers must give people with disabilities special privileges, known as accommodations.
FACT: Reasonable accommodations are intended to ensure that qualified individuals with disabilities have rights in employment equal—not superior—to those of individuals without disabilities. A reasonable accommodation is a modification to a job, work environment or the way work is performed that allows an individual with a disability to apply for a job, perform the essential functions of the job, and enjoy equal access to benefits available to other individuals in the workplace. 

MYTH: It will be difficult to supervise employees with disabilities.
FACT: A Harris poll found that 82% of managers said employees with disabilities were no harder to supervise than employees without disabilities. Employees with disabilities should be held accountable to the same job standards as any other employee. Managers should be confident that their supervisory skills will work equally well with employees with disabilities.

MYTH: Under the ADA, an employer cannot fire an employee who has a disability.
FACT: Employers can fire workers with disabilities under three conditions: The termination is unrelated to the disability; the employee does not meet legitimate requirements for the job, such as performance or production standards, with or without a reasonable accommodation; or because of the employee’s disability, he or she poses a direct threat to health or safety in the workplace.

As you can see, hiring an individual with a disability is no different than hiring an individual without a disability. Our Employment Services program provides qualified job applicants to the Indianapolis business community in conjunction with evaluations and recommendations for workplace accommodations from our Assistive Technology program. Our ability to offer both of these critical components allows employers to rest assured that they are hiring qualified candidates who have the support they need to get the job done.

For more information about our qualified job seekers, please visit our For Employers page. To learn more about workplace accommodations, please visit our Assistive Technology page. 

August 5, 2015
by Sara Croft   |   0 Comments

Volunteers are critical to our mission of serving children and adults with disabilities and their families. From events like Hallow's Eve and The Glo Run to providing mock interviews or providing respite to parents and caregivers, volunteers allow us to advance the reach of our mission far beyond what our staff are capable of doing on our own. 

During the July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015 fiscal year, over 700 volunteers gave their time to assist us with our events and services. The total number of volunteer hours racked up to 9,182 - that's a savings of $205,128 to Easter Seals Crossroads. 

Lacrosse Team Volunteers

Here's what our volunteers had to say about their experience:

"I liked developing a relationship with my rider and helping them achieve something important to them." - iCan Bike volunteer

"I liked getting to meet and interact with so many different kids and watch them grown throughout the week." - iCan Bike volunteer

"This started as service learning for school and I enjoyed it so much I kept coming back!" - Parents' Night Out volunteer

"This is truly a wonderful place! I love the experience that Easter Seals Crossroads gives to their volunteers." - Parents' Night Out volunteer

"The biggest takeaway for me is experiencing the positive energy and the uplifting spirits of the consumers that participate in CHEER. It really is infectious." - Dean Weseli, Advisory Board Member and CHEER volunteer

A special shout out goes to these community groups for volunteering in large groups:

Epsilon Sigma Alpha
Sertoma of North Downtown Indianapolis
Liberty Mutual
Indy Volunteer Meet-Up Group
Eli Lilly and Company
University of Georgia
Rotary Club of Indianapolis-Metropolitan
University of Dayton
Hamilton Southeastern Fishers Boys Lacrosse Team

Here are a few photos that highlight volunteer experiences during the last fiscal year:


liberty Mutual Volunteers

Whether you are a skills-based volunteer looking to utilize your expertise or you have a few spare hours per week that you would like to fill, we always have a variety of volunteer needs available. Visit our Volunteer Page to learn about upcoming opportunities or to fill out the volunteer application. Contact Tessa Barnard, Volunteer Coordinator, at tbarnard@eastersealscrossroads.org or 317-466-1000 to discuss group volunteer opportunities or for further volunteer related questions. 

July 29, 2015
by Sara Croft   |   0 Comments

Can you believe August is just around the corner and its already time for school supply shopping? For most families, this time of year creeps up way too quickly and we find ourselves unprepared for the school year. Shopping for school supplies is hard enough, but finding the right tools for students with a learning disability can be tricky. Here are seven unique apps that your student can use at school that you can find and use from the comfort of your home.

1. ModMath – ModMath is a free app created by Henry, a student with dyslexia and dysgraphia. This app allows users to type math problems instead of writing them by hand, which proves very helpful for individuals with dyslexia, dysgraphia, and ADHD. The app displays virtual graph paper and a calculator. It also provides the option for the user to print out his/her work, or email it to a teacher. For more information, check out their Kickstarter page.

2. Voice Dream Reader– Voice Dream Reader is a text-to-speech app that offers the widest selection of high quality voices of any accessible reader. With this app, users can read virtually anything such as PDF, Word, and text files in Dropbox, Google Drive and more. Voice Dream Reader is also fully accessible with VoiceOver support for the visually impaired. It is highly customizable to fit each individual’s needs. Children with dyslexia, auditory-processing or vision impairments may find this app especially beneficial. This is a great tool to help children learn how to use adaptive technologies to achieve academic and personal goals.

Speech Selection Screenshot

3. Lectio – Lectio is an app created by a mom from Indianapolis for her son after he was diagnosed with dyslexia. Lectio is very user friendly and does not require an internet connection; simply launch the app, take a picture, and press and highlight a word to have it read aloud. There is also a dictionary feature that can easily be accessed by pressing and holding down on a word.

4. Speech Selection – Speech Selection is not an actual app that you can purchase but is instead already built into iOS5; located in the accessibility features in Apple devices. Much like the app Lectio that was mentioned earlier, this feature allows you to select a paragraph and have it read aloud. The text can be read in a variety of languages and also includes a dictionary option. Unfortunately, it does not allow you to take a picture like Lectio and is only available for Apple devices, but if you would rather not have another app or perhaps do not have the storage for it, here is a wonderful option for individuals with dyslexia, visual impairments, or other learning disabilities.

5. Epic Win – Homework and house chores tend to be extremely mundane for most individuals. For individuals with ADHD, the dullness makes it ever harder to focus and complete chores. Epic Win is an app that transforms these tasks into an exciting game! By “destroying” a task you earn points to level up your character. Homework and chores will never be the same.

6. Inspiration Maps – Inspiration Maps is a visual learning tool that allows students to create organized diagrams and outlines. It is recommended by the International Dyslexia Association for literacy instruction. Inspiration Maps is intended for students in fourth grade and up, however, they do have a version for grades K-5.

7. iThoughts – Many individuals with learning disabilities have several thoughts or ideas they would like to execute into a paper, for example, but many struggle with organization. As a result, they may create a tangled web of both related and unrelated ideas. iThoughts is a unique mind mapping tool that helps students organize these thoughts. With this app, individuals are able to organize their information, thoughts and ideas effectively.

Shopping for school supplies can be tricky but we hope that these apps help ease your transition into the new school year. For more information on apps and assistive technology, visit the INDATA Project at www.eastersealstech.com

Today's post was written by Sam Sanders, Marketing Assistant at Easter Seals Crossroads.

July 15, 2015
by Sara Croft   |   0 Comments

Hungry for something other than your everyday lunch routine? Come and join us on Friday, July 24th from 11:00 a.m – 2:00 p.m in celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Enjoy a hearty lunch at Food Truck Friday on Georgia Street (intersection of Capitol Ave) along with the opportunity to browse adaptive vehicles brought by BraunAbility, Superior Van & Mobility and Easter Seals Crossroads. At noon, Mayor Greg Ballard will speak about how the ADA has impacted the City of Indianapolis. Also, be sure to stop by and meet Case Calvert, one of the members of our five time national power soccer champions, Circle City Rollers Power Soccer Club, and learn about how he drives his accessible van.

Look forward to music from X103 and make sure to grab a Celebrating Accessibility t-shirt (S-XL) for $15.00 to help support the programs at Easter Seals Crossroads. Celebrating Accessibility bumper stickers in the shape of Indiana will also be available. 

Celebrating Accessibility

The purpose of this event is to celebrate the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This is a wide-ranging civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on disability. The ADA was signed by President George H.W. Bush on July 26, 1990. Without the ADA, the programs and services provided by Easter Seals Crossroads would not be as effective – such as our drivers training and evaluation programs. 

Want to learn more about the ADA? Easter Seals is hosting a Twitter chat on Thursday, July 23 at 1 pm CST / 2 pm EST to talk about the ADA's impact and what still needs to be done in the disability rights space. Follow #ADAToday to join in on the conversation.

We can not wait to see you there and celebrate 25 years of ability!

Celebrate ADA

June 29, 2015
by Sara Croft   |   0 Comments

Have you and your family ever been to a polo match? Join us as we gather at Hickory Hall Polo Club on Friday, August 7 and help support Easter Seals Crossroads and Cancer Support Community as the charity partners.

CampAbility Horseback Riding

Image of CampAbility on a horseback riding field trip in 2014

What: Hickory Hall Polo Club 

When: Friday, August 7 at 5:00 p.m.

Where: Hickory Hall Polo Club - 7551 E 100 N, Whitestown IN 46075

Cost: $20.00 cash per car

Hickory Hall Polo Club is the only polo club located in Indiana and is an excellent environment for a unique Friday evening with the family. Gates open at 5:00 p.m., and the match begins at 6:15, however, be sure to get there early for the opportunity to participate in as many activities as you would like.

Experience an evening of polo, games, and food, along with exciting half time entertainment, a wine pull, and a variety of other fun activities. Consider purchasing a VIP ticket for the exclusive opportunity to take a barn tour to see the horses and their living quarters before and after the match. The barn is not open to the public and only a VIP ticket will allow you to enter this beautiful facility.

This is a family friendly event with a variety of kid’s activities available; nonetheless, your pop-up canopies, Frisbees, and footballs are also highly encouraged. Afraid of leaving the dogs home alone? Bring them too as treats will be available.

General admission is only $20.00 per car with the option of an exclusive VIP barn tour for an additional $20.00 per person. Proceeds from the event will benefit both Easter Seals Crossroads and Cancer Support Community. We hope to see you there!

For more information or VIP tickets contact Sam Sanders, Marketing Assistant at ssanders@eastersealscrossroads.org or 317-466-1000.

June 25, 2015
by Sara Croft   |   0 Comments

Riding a bike is something many people take for granted. Some children learn this skill at a very young age while others may experience challenges. That's why we offer iCan Bike in partnership with Rainbow's End Optimist Club and Indy Parks. 

Since 2008, Easter Seals Crossroads has provided iCan Bike to teach children and adults with special needs how to ride a conventional bike in a 5 day summer camp.

Candice Aviles of RTV6 came to Perry Park yesterday to interview Rainbow's End Optimist Club, one of iCan Bike's extraordinary partners, and spread the word about the camp. You can view the segment here.


June 23, 2015
by Sara Croft   |   0 Comments

Camp FUEL kicked off their first session this week with a field trip to Distelrath Farms, located off of Raymond Street in Indianapolis. Adolescents ages 11-18 with disabilities or special needs participate in Camp FUEL to benefit from fun and unique experiential learning activities such as field trips, skill building and mentoring.

Campers spent the morning participating in farm chores such as shoveling, planting, picking up sticks, installing lights and other general farm maintenance. After the chores were completed, everyone had plenty of time to meet the animals and have some fun. 

Goats on the farm

Bunnies on the farm

The tech team fixing lights for the farm

This group was building light fixtures to place throughout the farm.

Here you'll see campers removing the soil from several potted plants and dumping it out on this large canvas.

Here you'll see campers removing the soil from several potted plants and dumping it out on this large canvas.

Campers were helping create a trench for better flow of rain water.

Campers were helping create a trench for better flow of rain water.

Campers were helping create a trench for better flow of rain water.

Picking up sticks is a daily activity on the farm!

Picking up sticks is a daily activity on the farm!

Here you'll see campers removing plants and replanting them elsewhere.

Feeding the pigs

Walking back to the farm

Group photo

Camp FUEL is currently full and in session. To learn more about the program, contact Joelle Samples, Respite Manager, at jsamples@eastersealscrossroads.org.