What is IRIS?

IRIS Include, Respect, I Self-Direct is Wisconsin's Self-Directed Supports Program for older people and adults with disabilities.

In IRIS you determine the combination of supports and services you need, including who will provide the services and when and how they will be provided. The IRIS team is available at every step to help you build the life you want with the support you need!

Learn more about the IRIS program >

Mission Possible: 2014 Self-Determination Conference

The theme for this year's Self-Determination Conference, “Mission Possible: Discovering the Potential in our Communities”, explores life in our communities. What does it mean to belong? How does one get involved? What can we contribute to our communities?

The Mission

Every good mission has a plan, expert consultants, help from everyday citizens, and a few good tools. The Self-Determination Conference is uniquely designed to bring the experiences of self-advocates together and guide people with the help of professionals, family members, and support staff. Learn from their experiences and imagine the possibilities! The Conference offers creative tools to help individuals with disabilities get the support they need to get the life they want. Self-determination and self-directed supports offer opportunities to look beyond traditional ways of support.

“This Conference changed my life. There are so many things I've learned. But now I think I can do it! You can feel the energy!”  - 2013 Conference Attendee

Discover the untapped potential of your community, create opportunities to participate, and stretch your ideas of a meaningful life.

Who can attend?

Adults and transition-aged youth with disabilities and their family members, service providers, educators, state employees, IRIS staff, MCO staff, ADRC staff, county staff, and support brokers can attend.

Conference Highlights

•Monday (November 10): four pre-conference sessions followed by the “Mission Possible: Making Connections Kick-Off” that brings people together in a creative and fun way to help individuals expand their personal and professional connections.

•Tuesday (November 11) and Wednesday (November 12): powerful keynote presentations from self-advocate Alisha Cloutier, international consultant, Darcy Elks, AIDD Commissioner Aaron Bishop, DHS Deputy Administrator Beth Wroblewski, and a special mystery guest.

•Tuesday Evening: back by popular demand, the fabulous Talent Show and Open Mic, where everyone is invited to share their talents.

More information about the conference - including the keynote speakers, events, and sessions - can be found on the conference website. Registration for the website is available online, as well. People interested in a scholarship can register on the conference site.

If you have questions please contact Fil Clissa at fil.clissa@wisconsin.gov and 608-266-5395.

Heating and Energy Assistance

The summer is a great time to plan for winter heating costs. The Wisconsin Heating and Energy Assistance Program (WHEAP) is now processing applications for heating assistance. This is a federally-funded program that can help eligible households pay for heating, electricity, energy crisis situations, and furnace assistance. The amount of assistance depends on household income, heating costs, and household size.

The program usually offers benefits from October 1 to May 15. Because of last year’s propane shortage, applications can be submitted immediately. For people using propane, the program will estimate the amount of heating benefits a person will receive for the winter and lock in a lower summer price with a propane dealer.

25,000 energy assistance participants who use propane will receive letters requesting their applications as soon as possible.

Many factors, such as poor weather and a late corn harvest, caused an unusually high demand for propane last year, increasing prices to over $4.00 per gallon. Currently, the average propane price is $1.69 per gallon. 

Last year, the program assisted 224,731 households with heating assistance. For more information on WHEAP, call 1-866-432-8947 or visit www.homeenergyplus.wi.gov.

IRIS Connections: Community Matters

The latest issue of IRIS Connections is now available. Take a moment to check it out!

  • Learn about the value of community
  • Read about three IRIS Participants who are forming meaningful connection in their community
  • Discover helpful community living resources
  • View upcoming events

Back issues of the IRIS Newsletter are always available under the Newsletter tab. Questions or comments about the newsletter? Email us at .

Self-Determination and Art Meet with the 2014 Mosaic Art Contest

Drawing from the 2013 Mosaic Art ContestBPDD encourages self-advocates to enter artwork that represents self-determination!

Self-advocates are encouraged to submit original artwork for the 2014 Mosaic Art Contest!

Mosaic is a unique art contest for self-advocates who live in Wisconsin and want to express what self-determination and/or self-advocacy means to them through their art. The theme for the 2014 contest is Mission: Possible – Discovering the Potential in Our Communities. Your art submission should focus on this theme. The art contest is sponsored by the Wisconsin Board for People with Developmental Disabilities (BPDD) and is conducted in conjunction with the 2014 Wisconsin Self-Determination Conference. 

BPDD will accept artwork in three categories: 2-D visual art, photography, and poetry. All submitted artwork will be featured on BPDD’s Facebook Page and all participants will receive a certificate of participation. One overall Grand Prize Winner will be awarded and each category will recognize one Top Prize Winner. All artwork will be displayed at the 2014 Wisconsin Self-Determination Conference.

Print from the 2013 Mosaic Art ContestPrizes for the 2014 Mosaic Art Contest: 

  • Grand Prize Winner - $500
  • Top Prize Winner - $200 (one for each category)

More information about the art contest is available, including: artwork categories and guidelines, contest rules, and awards, recognition, and prizes. Information about how to submit your artwork, including the entry 

form, is also available. The deadline to submit artwork is 12:00 p.m. on Friday, September 5, 2014.

All entries must be original artwork created by the person submitting the artwork. A self-advocate is an individual with a disability who is eligible for - or using - long-term care supports. Only entries from self-advocates living in Wisconsin will be accepted. Artwork should represent the theme of self-determination.

If you have any questions, or need assistance with submitting your artwork, contact Fil Clissa at or (608) 266-5395.

DHS Website Update

The IRIS portion of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services website has been updated. This website is a great resource for people looking to gain general information about the IRIS program.

helping you find a home

WIHousingSearch.org is now available to help you find available homes in your area. This website site provides basic and advanced accessible searches to locate housing that meets individual needs. Visitors can search by proximity, which allows them to find properties within a selected distance from desired locations such as work, school, public transit, or a family member’s house. Other helpful resources such as a rent calculator and links to other housing resources are also available. All searches are free and anonymous.

WIHousingSearch.org is supported by a bilingual call center available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. (CST). Contact the call center, toll-free at 1-877-428-8844.

This new tool is made possible with funding from the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, and the Wisconsin Division of Housing.

IRIS Community Data

On July 31, 2014 the following people were included in IRIS:

Illustration of a group of people
10,837 IRIS Participants

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