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United Spinal Association Broadens Its Reach with Users First: Giving Voice to All Wheelchair Users
Date:5/12/2011

NEW YORK, May 12, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- United Spinal Association has announced the inclusion of Users First as a new program that advocates for improved access to seating and mobility equipment by empowering wheelchair users, clinicians, and providers.

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Users First, formerly Users First™ Alliance - a national non-profit formed in 2007, focuses on uniting and strengthening the voice of mobility device consumers, such as wheelchair users. These people with disabilities have had limited freedom when choosing equipment critical to their quality of life and independence due to government and health insurance company restrictions.

As a program of United Spinal -- the single, largest membership organization dedicated to improving the lives of people with spinal cord injuries and disorders nationwide -- Users First initiatives will be supported by the organization's expansive peer support network, wide-range of national programs, and over 60 years of experience in the advocacy arena.  

"By combining our resources, we are now in position to spark change in the long-established 'one-size-fits-all' mentality when it comes to mobility equipment," said Paul J. Tobin, president and CEO of United Spinal.

"With United Spinal Association's legacy and strong programs that infuse our community's efforts, from grassroots initiatives and community building to legislative issues, we can offer people with disabilities comprehensive support and community resources on a national level never seen before," said Users First executive director, Ann Eubank, LMSW, OTR/L, ATP.

"People should not have to sacrifice functional outcomes and performance when choosing their equipment. We are committed to ensuring people with disabilities nationwide have access to wheelchairs and other equipment so they can live the lives they choose," she added.

In addition to leading the Users First initiative, Ms. Eubank will also assume the role of vice president of Community Initiatives for United Spinal, working to integrate all parts of the organization with the communities served.

The service delivery process for the durable medical equipment market is complicated and inefficient.  Due to discriminatory policies, governmental bureaucracy and health care budget cutting, funding has eroded.  This has resulted in limited consumer choice and third-party payer control over therapy practices.

Users First also offers wheelchair users, clinicians, and equipment providers tools and resources that inspire action and motivate change.

About United Spinal Association

www.unitedspinal.org

United Spinal is a national 501(c) (3) nonprofit membership organization formed in 1946 by paralyzed veterans and is dedicated to improving the quality of life for all Americans with spinal cord injuries and disorders (SCI/D), including multiple sclerosis, spina bifida, ALS and post-polio. It played a significant role in writing the Americans with Disabilities Act, and made important contributions to the Fair Housing Amendments Act and the Air Carrier Access Act. Individual membership is free. United Spinal was instrumental in getting New York City to create sidewalk curb ramps and accessible public transportation that has been used as a model for many United States cities.

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Anne Eubank

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