The unique challenges that the Deaf, hard of hearing, blind or Deafblind individuals face require different methods of teaching and communicating.

MERIL has information and resources about a variety of sensory disabilities.


I am greatly appreciative for all you have done, not only concerning accommodations, but also for simply existing. Up until now, I was the only deaf person I knew. I knew of course that there were other deaf people out there, but that’s where they were, out there. Now I feel so much more motivated and connected to the world simply because I met you.  Katelyn Vernon

Youth Transition Services

MERIL offers Youth Transition Services which assist youth with disabilities to transition to the world after school and provides an opportunity for school-aged children to learn about diversity, acceptance of others and treating all persons with dignity and respect.

I moved to St. Joseph a little over a year ago and a friend told me that I must meet the Deaf services (Communication Services) at MERIL right away.  I love MERIL because they helped me in finding resources and taught me how to self-advocate better.  Deaf Services and Bridge Interpreting knew what my sign language skills were and they always communicate with me, using MY language!  They also make sure that I have the right interpreter for my appointments.  I am very impressed with MERIL!!”   Carol Madsen


Radio Spots Featuring Communication and Transition Services

**If you are trying to read a script below and it does not automatically download, right-click the link and save to view.

MERIL Transition Services– August 2015
MERIL Transition Services Tools and Team – August 2015
Transition Services Scripts – August 2015

MERIL – Figuring Out the Issues – October 2014
Figuring Out the Issues Script – October 2014

MERIL – Array of Needs – October 2014
Array of Needs Script – October 2014

MERIL – Change a Life – October 2014
Change a Life Script – October 2014

MERIL – Changes in Our Community – October 2014
Changes in Our Community Script – October 2014




The Money Follows the Person (MFP) Demonstration grant is an initiative to support adults with disabilities or the aging, transition from an institutional setting (i.e., skilled nursing facilities or state habilitation centers) to specified community settings.  Eligibility for services and the development of transition plans are coordinated with the Department of Health and Senior Services Regional MFP coordinator, MERIL’s Transitional Coordinator, the participant, nursing facility and family members, if available.

Eligibility Criteria:

      • Currently residing in skilled nursing facility for a period of not less than ninety (90) consecutive days
      • Eligible for Medicaid benefits for at least one day while residing in the nursing facility.  The Medicaid benefits must be in effect immediately prior to the day of enrollment in to the MFP Demonstration.
      • Eligible for Medicaid benefits after the transition to the community
      • Moving to qualified housing in which the health and welfare of the individual can be assured
      • Eligible for Home and Community Based Services (HCBS), including nursing facility level of care
      • Agreeable to the terms set forth in the MFP Participant Agreement, which must be signed by the participant.

The Transition Plan Must Include:

        • Housing support preferences and needs
        • Personal care support preferences and needs
        • Medical and behavioral support needs, including a risk management plan
        • Community building/networking support preferences and support needs
        • Transportation needs
        • Assistive technology, adaptive equipment, and mobility needs
        • Employment/day activity preferences and support needs

MFP participants are eligible for the MFP Demonstration grant funding of up to $2,400 per individual to assist with transition costs for the first year of transition.  The funds can be utilized for the following:

          • Current rent/utility deposits (one time only)
          • Cleaning supplies
          • Toiletries
          • Household items, including the purchase of furniture
          • Groceries (one time only)

Click here to view a video created by the Missouri Department of Social Services.

Contact us for more information.





The Mission of Focus on Independence:

To increase the independence of people with spinal cord injuries by reducing their need for glasses and contact lenses through vision correction surgery.

Who We Are:

Focus on Independence is a not for profit organization that provides no charge laser vision correction to individuals who are disabled and unable to use their arms or hands to handle eyeglasses and contact lenses.

Dr. Durrie created Focus on Independence as a way to use his skills to give back to the community and help individuals suffering from paralysis regain some of their independence.

To date nearly 100 people have benefited from this program that provides no charge laser vision correction, typically a $5900 value.

Jessica Cox, Dr. Durrie, and his team.

A New Freedom – Jessica’s Story

Jessica Cox Chamberlain, the first MERIL referral to Focus on Independence, had her surgery in October of 2012.

Jessica was born without arms and the doctors do not know why she was born “differently-abled.”  She has made achievements with her feet that most people only dream about.  Jessica is the world’s first licensed armless pilot, as well as the first armless black-belt in the American Taekwondo Association.  Jessica has learned to live her life with her feet.  Now she shares her story with people around the world.

“Focus on Independence has given me a new freedom to be even more active and experience adventure with one less thing to worry about, while at the same time inspiring the world that anything is possible.” – Jessica Cox Chamberlain

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the eligibility criteria?

  • If a person has a disability that prevents them from putting on their glasses or putting in their contacts themselves, they may be considered.
  • The patient should be able to see well with the use of glasses/contacts and their eyewear prescription should not have changed in the last two years.
  • The patient must be over 18 years of age.

How long does the procedure take?

In most cases, both eyes can be treated the same day.  When both eyes are treated, the patient is in the surgery room for about 20 minutes.  Tests are performed both before and after surgery so the total time spent at the surgery center is around 90 minutes.

Should I expect to have pain during and after surgery?

Anesthetic eye drops are used during the surgery to numb the eyes so there is no pain during the surgery, although some patients may experience a mild discomfort or a pressure sensation during their procedure.  After the procedure, some patients experience a burning or scratchy feeling and light sensitivity for 1 to 2 hours.  These can be addressed with an over-the-counter pain reliever or artificial tears.

Will I have 20/20 vision after surgery?

While 20/20 vision cannot be guaranteed, Durrie Vision’s goal is to reduce the patient’s dependence on corrective lenses.  The vast majority of patients are extremely happy with the results and are able to do most activities without depending on corrective lenses following surgery.

Durrie Vision’s commitment to you is that we will not perform laser vision correction on anyone that we feel does not have a good possibility of achieving independence from glasses and contacts.

What are the chances of losing my sight permanently as a result of surgery?

In the many thousands of LASIK cases performed worldwide, there are no known recorded incidence of anyone losing their eyesight due to this procedure.

Contact Us:

For more information or to determine if you or someone you know may be a candidate, please contact MERIL at 816.279.8558.

Focus on Independence is made possible by: 







Based on individual eligibility and available funding, MERIL’s Participant Assistance Fund is designed to help our service participants in a variety of ways:

  • funding to assist with home modification to promote accessibility (ramps, grab bars, bathroom modifications, etc.)
  • funding to assist with securing durable medical equipment (lift chairs, wheelchairs, walkers, shower seats, etc.)
  • emergency assistance funding
  • provision of adaptive equipment as available (magnifiers, video phones, etc.)

To access this fund, service participants work with Community Independent Living Specialists to request funds or equipment on an individual, as needed basis. The request is then provided to the committee who reviews the requests and recommends approval based on available funding and established criteria.

MERIL also participates in a “Gifts in Kind” program and periodically receives donated goods from local businesses. These items are then made available at no cost to our participants with disabilities.








Medical Information

in an Emergency

   Bring the Vial of Life into Your Home

                               Your Basic Medical Information Can Save Your Life!

The Vial of Life is designed to speak for you when you can’t speak for yourself. It contains important medical information that can assist emergency personnel in administering the proper medical treatment.

MERIL is proud to offer FREE Vial of Life kits.

Stop by our office in St. Joseph or Maryville to obtain your kit.