Transportation, home health care and employment are expected to be the main areas of interest at a public hearing this week sponsored by the Howard County Commission on Disability Issues.
The seven-member commission, which advises the county executive and county council on disability issues, will consider information from the hearing as they develop a work plan for the coming year, said Ann Wicke, the commission's executive secretary.
The hearing will begin at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Maryland School for the Deaf on Route 108 at Old Montgomery Road.
"We rely on this and really want people to come," said Wicke. "We had 35 people testify last year and that was very helpful."
The commission is concerned with all types of disabilities, including physical and developmental deficits and mental illness.
Many disabled people rely on the Urban Rural Transportation Alliance to get around, but URTA's services have been strained in the past few years.
"The demand has just increased enormously," Wicke said. "Not just with people with disabilities, but with the elderly and low income."
An increasing number of disabled people need personal attendant care at home, but are finding they either can't afford the service or it's simply not available.
Home health personnel can help people with such daily living skills as bathing, eating and cleaning, and allow the disabled to live as independently as possible, Wicke said.
"The idea of independence for a person with a disability is whatever it takes for that person to feel he's in charge of his own life," Wicke said.
"If you're a person who has to have assistance to get into bed and an attendant is not there overnight, then you have no control," she said.
Medical assistance and some insurance policies cover personal attendant care, but many policies do not.
Wicke said the need for this service will have to become an issue of statewide concern before any major improvements come about.
Those attending the commission's public hearing will be able to speak or sign their comments, which will be included in the commission's annual recommendations to the county executive and the county council.
Information: 992-2617 or 992-2462 (TDD). A sign interpreter will be available and transportation can be arranged by contacting URTA at 997-7433.