Toastmasters Speechcraft Course Hosted by Disability Network West Michigan

Come gather with us at a Speechcraft event in a fun and relaxed course setting!

Toastmasters Speechcraft speakers training

The Toastmasters Speechcraft program has designated our team with helping to roll their program into the Oceana and surrounding areas.

Do you have an upcoming job interview? Work presentation? Wedding toast?
Get the speaking skills you need now and the course if free to the public.

Coordinated by: Laura St. Louis, Community Inclusion Specialist from Disability Network West Michigan

Dates and Times: Wednesdays, April 6, 2022 – May 25, 2022 Noon – 1:00pm

Location: Virtual Classroom via Zoom – To register: or Contact Laura @ 231.683.9043

This is an 8-week on-line course to build your leadership and communication skills. We encourage people with disabilities to register to support our vision of inclusive communities. All skill levels are encouraged to register for a more diverse learning experience. Each week attendees will learn, present & receive insightful feedback from your peers. Certificate of achievement to add to your professional portfolio.

Thanks to Disability Network West Michigan 907 State St., Suite 102 Hart, MI 49420 and anonymous donor through the Oceana Community Foundation to support and invest in your communities.

If you have questions, please contact Laura St. Louis by email or @ 231.683.9043.

Different Not Less

“It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.” -Maya Angelou

From a peer in the classroom to a cousin who uses a wheelchair or a character seen in their favorite TV show odds are your child is going to see a person with a disability at some point, which will pique their curiosity, which is a great time to have a conversation.

Unfortunately, the typical response to this situation is too often to shy away or dismiss the observations, but instead, I think it’s important that we don’t try to convince your child that someone with a disability is just like they are. Instead, acknowledge that just because the person might look a little different on the outside or move around differently, that doesn’t make that person bad or less.

An example of how to better handle the conversation if referring to a cousin who’s a wheelchair user is by saying, “The muscles in their legs don’t work like yours… that’s why they use a wheelchair to get around.” Or “They were born with one leg. So they have to use a prosthetic leg, which was made by a Doctor to help them get around easier.”

It’s also extremely important to try and keep emotional descriptive words out of the conversation. If you say someone’s disability is “sad” or “awful,” your child may become sad or develop a negative mindset towards differences/disabilities, and begin to feel that life with a disability is a life that is less than their own.

In closing, while these conversations can indeed be challenging to have, they not only offer valuable teaching and learning tools for both sides in the moment, but they double as an opportunity to make the world better for all generations, both current and future as every step forward is another opportunity to rid the world of the stigma surrounding such a misunderstood demographic. Disability is just another example of the human condition… just people, doing their best with what they have, which is more than enough for all of us.


We kicked off this summer with a Multi-Peer Group BBQ Picnic at Muskegon’s Smith-Ryerson Park. What another awesome opportunity to enjoy fresh air and the great outdoors together with tasty food, fun games and amazing conversation. It was an awesome opportunity to see many of you we have only seen via Zoom for over a year.

Thank you so much to all the staff and our consumers who participated…hope to see you again at our end of summer picnic!

Call 231-722-0088 for information about any of our peer groups and how to join us today!


All our peer groups, Veteran’s Connection, Women’s Stronger Together and the youth Ignite Fire have been combined this summer for some much needed community engagement and outdoor FUN!

In June we kicked the summer off with the Free Fishing Saturday at Fisherman’s Landing. DNWM was able to provide rod, reels and bait to all participants. We were also thrilled to provide fishing licenses to five participants with a grant awarded to DNWM to support community inclusion!

If you would like more information concerning any of our groups, please call us at 231-722-0088


Students from Fruitport High School recently took part in Disability Network West Michigan’s Career Exploration Camp! The eight-day camp, supported through the partnership with Michigan Rehabilitation Services, culminated in a community car wash designed by the students.

From budgeting and marketing to cash control and community outreach, the students were able to build a successful business that took in over $350 in just two hours! (A huge THANK YOU to Tiki Boiz for donating lunch to everyone who bought a car wash!)

In addition to building a successful business model, students learned valuable work, life and self-advocacy skills. These skills, along with the Social Coaching curriculum facilitated by Pioneer Resources, provide the necessary building blocks for becoming ready to work in the community….and spend money in the community! Enjoy back-to-school shopping with your Walmart gift cards, campers!

How COVID-19 Has Highlighted the Importance of Accessibility – Guest Blog Contribution by Jen Vianney

For most of the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted how we go about our daily lives. With hygiene measures being practiced at all times, mandatory mask rules in public places, and social distancing to keep each other safe, these seemingly major changes are a small price to pay to flatten the curve.

While abiding by these rules is easy for able-bodied folks, we’ve forgotten that persons with disabilities need to be included in all aspects of our society to survive the global health crisis. Today, there are 61 million adults in the US who live with a disability, and it’s only correct that we strive to make the world a more accessible place for everyone ⁠— especially during these times of crisis.

One key issue for people with disabilities that has been highlighted by the pandemic is accessibility on the web. As most of us avoid social gatherings to keep ourselves and our families safe, social media and the internet have provided us with a way to remotely connect with the people we love in a safe environment. However, this digital shift is not all-inclusive for people with disabilities. Online, a lot of websites don’t have accessible pages or haven’t adopted accessibility systems to cater to people with disabilities and older folks. For this reason, it can make some individuals with disabilities feel increasingly isolated and lonely in a time when physical socialization is non-existent.

Additionally, many folks with disabilities who need routine medical care may also find it difficult to access such facilities during the pandemic. As healthcare institutions struggle to accommodate the huge influx of people suffering from COVID, some of the procedures and treatments needed by persons with disabilities have been de-prioritized. Furthermore, there is yet another huge gap in the workforce as burnout and stress forced some healthcare workers to put their own health and safety first, temporarily throwing in the towel.

Thankfully, hospitals have started to ramp up their telehealth capabilities to serve non-COVID-19 patients and those who need routine medical care. However, there is still a need for accessible telehealth services for persons with disabilities. As we’ve mentioned, many portals, apps, and websites still lack digital accessibility and can deter vulnerable people from getting the necessary medical care they need.

Aside from making these programs more accessible to those with disabilities, telehealth workers are training to become more digitally oriented so they can serve wider demographics. After all, nurses are key to the telehealth industry. For this reason, modern nursing careers have started incorporating digital strategies so that they can provide care in non-traditional settings. Whether that is through informatics specialists or nurse managers, these healthcare workers are adapting fast to a digital world. As telehealth is becoming the norm, there is a dire need for nursing education that balances human and technological care — learning how to do their tasks such as scheduling patients and monitoring health remotely, too. Through nurses and other healthcare professionals understanding current industry trends and unique patient needs, people with disabilities will be able to understand and assess what care they need.

True enough, the problem with digital platforms not having accessibility features is alarming to say the least. This underlines how crucial it is to include everyone when it comes to digital transformation ⁠— as this can be the only way people with disabilities survive global crises such as the one we’re experiencing now.

Post solely for the use of

By Jen Vianney


Disability Network West Michigan (DNWM) is a non-profit organization that assists individuals with disabilities to gain and maintain independence in everyday living and encourages them to become active members of their communities.  We are currently seeking the role of Communication Manager.

This is being posted as a part-time, non-exempt role, with consideration of full time available for the right candidate.  This position is responsible for raising the awareness of DNWM activities and services through outreach, marketing and resource development plans.  DNWM is committed to the independence and inclusion of people with disabilities and is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

We strongly encourage people with disabilities and minorities to apply.  Additional information about our agency can be found at  Submit a cover letter AND resume by Friday, May 28, 2021.

Communications Manager Job Description


Disability Network West Michigan (DNWM) is a non-profit organization that assists individuals with disabilities to gain and maintain independence in everyday living and encourages them to become active members of their communities.  We are currently seeking the role of Finance Director.

This is a full-time, non-exempt role, responsible for accounting/bookkeeping functions, grant accounting, financial monitoring, ensuring agency is audit ready and general accounting to include but not limited to payroll and budget prep and monitoring.  DNWM is committed to the independence and inclusion of people with disabilities and is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

We strongly encourage people with disabilities and minorities to apply.  Submit a cover letter AND resume by  Sunday, February 28 to [email protected].

Finance Director Position Description

Meet Stephanie Deible – New MISILC Committee Appointee

Governor Whitmer recently made new appointments to the Michigan Statewide Independent Living Council (MSILC).

We are pleased to introduce one of the newest appointees, Stephanie Deible of Newaygo County to MSILC!

Stephanie L. Deible, of Grant, is the executive director of Ms. Wheelchair America, Inc. She holds a Master of Education in Student Affairs and Leadership from Grand Valley State University.

Ms. Deible is appointed to represent residents of this state, including residents who represent the underserved or tribal communities.

She will serve for a term commencing July 21, 2020 and expiring December 31, 2021.




We may not be able to high five in the hallways or chat at the lockers, but 14-26 year olds can still have a great time learning what they need to make their employment dreams come true! That’s what Danielle Bennett, Youth Transition Specialist at DNWM, does every week. Whether in person or virtual, Danielle facilitates many of our pre-employment transition classes; helping youth get ready to take their futures’ by storm!