UsersFirst, which advocates for improved access to seating and mobility equipment by empowering wheelchair users, clinicians, and providers, is now a program of United Spinal Association –which recently announced its merging with National Spinal Cord Injury Association (NSCIA) to become the single, largest membership organization dedicated to improving the lives of people with spinal cord injuries and disorders nationwide.
UsersFirst initiatives will be supported by the organization’s chapter and peer support network, wide-range of national programs, and more than 60 years of experience in the advocacy arena.
UsersFirst, formerly Users FirstTM Alliance – a national non-profit formed in 2007, focuses on uniting and strengthening the voice of mobility device consumers, such as wheelchair users, many of whom have had limited freedom when choosing equipment critical to their quality of life and independence due to government and health insurance company restrictions.
“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 UsersFirst 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 UsersFirst initiative, Eubank will also assume the role of vice president of Community Outreach for United Spinal, working to integrate all parts of the organization with the communities served, including working with NSCIA Chapters and membership.
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 what doctors are able to prescribe.
UsersFirst also offers wheelchair users, clinicians, and equipment providers tools and resources that inspire action and motivate change.
UsersFirst offers a way for providers, clinicians or wheelchair users to learn more about issues related to access to seating and mobility equipment, and empowers those individuals to work toward improving that access.
UsersFirst will be exhibiting at all Abilities Expo shows in 2011 (http://www.abilitiesexpo.com/ ), and Eubank will be speaking at numerous audiences around the nation. For more information or to sign up to be part of the UsersFirst initiative, visit http://www.usersfirst.org/ .