Posted in Home health care for disabled, Olmstead decision

Shortage of home health care workers causes some young people to be “warehoused” indefinitely


Many thanks to Joe Shapiro ( for posting  the article below on Facebook.

Because of the severe shortage of  home health care workers, many young people with disabilities are somewhere they don‘t want and don‘t need to be:  in nursing homes or assisted living facilities. Yet if they were able to find and hire people to take care of them at home, they could live much more independently and also cost the taxpayers a lot less.

I have been a home health care worker and I know the physical and emotional strain it puts on a person. And since the pay is not that much different from working at a fast food place, I might well have chosen the latter before too long.

In the Olmstead decision (see below), the Supreme Court ruled that it is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act to continue to “warehouse” people with disabilities in institutions, if their health conditions do not warrant it. But with the shortage of people willing to take on this kind of work for the current available wages,  this landmark court decision could be rendered relatively meaningless.

It is time for an adjustment in our economy, and for some of our nation’s wealth to “trickle down” to the people that want to be liberated from institutions, and the people who can help them make that a reality.一minnesotans-with-disabilities-into-institutions/481835481/


Posted in Air carrier access act, Service animals

Punches fly in the sky over service dog

This was a deaf couple on an airplane with their service dog. That much I know, and I’ll let the FBI figure out the rest.

But it looks like it could be yet another situation where  anger erupted over people with disabilities legally using their service animals.  Or it could be that the deaf passenger himself instigated the violence, in which case the disability laws should not be used as an excuse.

No matter how or why this sorry situation unfolded, it reminds us that before we let anger take over, we should try to understand what we think we are seeing.


Posted in Accesibility for People with disabilities, ADA Title III

No, a grocery store does NOT have to put Braille on soup cans!



Many businesses are understandably still nervous about the AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT (ADA). They are afraid that they will have to spend exorbitant amounts of money to accommodate people with disabilities who want to shop in their stores or visit their offices. Among the urban myths out there is that every product in a grocery store has to have Braille on its label,  every building of more than one story has to have an elevator, and  every entrance must be wheelchair-accessible.

None of that is true. Businesses are only required to use “reasonable” efforts to accommodate those with disabilities. And what is “reasonable” is different for each establishment. A huge chain store is going to be expected to do a lot more than a mom-and-pop grocery store, because the chain store has more resources. And even though the current administration is trying to eliminate them, as of right now there are tax credits for businesses who spend money to comply with the ADA.

So what if a visually-impaired person wants to know about the ingredients in a can of soup? In most cases, it is perfectly acceptable to have an employee read the ingredients to the customer. What if someone in a wheelchair wants to go into a store where the front entrance is not accessible? As long as there is an accessible entrance somewhere, that should be sufficient.  Or it may be necessary to arrange for items to be delivered to the customer.

With businesses that are being constructed or altered after 1992, there are specific requirements for things like doorways, parking places and restrooms. But the good news is that the difference in cost of building accessible and non-accessible facilities is negligible. And think of all the additional customers you’ll attract!

The link below gives many other examples of how businesses can comply with the ADA.`

Posted in Air carrier access act, Emotional support animals

No peacocks allowed – American Airlines updates its policy on emotional support animals


A few months ago, a passenger got some unwelcome publicity when she unsuccessfully  tried to bring her “emotional support peacock” with her on an United Airlines flight.

( See for more information).

Since then, there has been an increase in news reports about ill-fated service and/or emotional support animals on flights. This includes a passenger who says she was told to (and did)  flush her emotional support hamster down an airline toilet, as well as a puppy who tragically died after being placed in an overhead bin. This and other negative publicity has caused several airlines to  re-examine their policies regarding animals on airplanes.

There’s no question that this is a very difficult issue. While airlines are required to allow service and emotional support animals on planes for passengers with disabilites, many passengers are taking advantage of the fact  that they don’t have to pay extra for animals they label as  “service” or “support” animals. That, along with the natural reluctance to probe into customers’ claims of being “disabled,” has resulted in increasing numbers of untrained and unruly animals on flights. And of course, the people who pay the highest price are people with true disabilities who really need those animals and who have trained them appropriately.

As a result, several airlines are re-examining their policies and trying to impose more structure while still following the law. One example is American Airlines, which has just announced a new policy that will go into effect on July 1. This policy will prohibit  amphibians, goats, hedgehogs, insects, nonhousehold birds and animals with tusks, horns or hooves from boarding their airplanes. An exception will be made  for miniature horses that have been trained as service animals.

The new policy will also require that customers traveling with support  or service animals submit documentation about their animals. They will also have to sign a form indicating that the animals will not be disruptive on the flight. While there’s not much that can be done mid-flight if an animal doesn’t live up to this promise, at least we’re moving in the right direction!

For more information, see the link below.


Posted in disability civil rights, Voting rights for people with disabilities.

While we worry about Russia, let’s also fix the voting problems here at home

It’s beyond unnerving to think that Russia might have interfered with the 2016 election. I think most would agree that no matter how long the current investigation takes, it should proceed. Nothing is more important than the integrity of our elections.

But there’s another less dramatic way wherein tens of thousands of our most vulnerable citizens are being disenfranchised.

It’s common knowledge that when a person is adjudicated to be mentally incompetent, a court will often appoint a family member to be a conservator – to take over decisions regarding the individual’s health care or financial matters. Less well-known is the fact that in 39 states and the District of Columbia, judges have the option of unilaterally checking a box declaring that the individual lacks the mental capacity to vote – for life.

Worse yet, there are no uniform standards for judges to refer to in making that decision. In some cases, judges will disenfranchise an individual because they do not know the president’s or the mayor’s names. Under that standard, couldn’t a lot of non-disabled people also lose their right to vote?

Fortunately, disability advocate groups are pressuring their legislatures to come up with a more defined and universally-applied standard for judges to use in making this life-altering decision. And their efforts are starting to be successful. See the links below for more information.

Sometimes it’s easier to blame a foreign power than to look in our own backyard.

Posted in Accesibility for People with disabilities, ADA Title II, Curb cuts, disability civil rights

It’s not just about Bicyles: The City of Portland Will be Building More Curb Cuts



Anyone with mobility problems understands the value of curb cuts. Without them, we are much more vulnerable and unsafe.

We may try to somehow jump our wheelchairs or walkers up onto the curb, or try to use our canes as pole vaults as we “leap” from street to sidewalk. We may try to use the street as an erstwhile sidewalk, or ask a stranger for help. But the most likely thing is that we will simply decide that the danger is not worth the risk and turn back. This is one of the ways that people with disabilities are effectively shut out of  events and activities that are routine for most people.

This kind of dilemma is largely why the AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT (ADA) was enacted. One of the ADA’s requirements is that cities build curb cuts into newly-constructed sidewalks or into sidewalks that are being repaired or otherwise altered.

I live in Portland, Oregon, which is famous for being progressive, green and extremely bicycle-friendly. But Portland was recently sued by wheelchair users, who claimed that the city was  not installing enough curb cuts nor adequately maintaining the sidewalks.

Portland has just settled this case for $13 million dollars. Part of the agreement is that the city will construct 1500 curb cuts a year.

We sure can use them!


Posted in disability civil rights, Disability sterotypes, Paralympics, Public Perceptions of Disability

“I watched as much as I could…”


In the early 20th Century, several U.S. cities had laws that actually forbade people with disabilities from showing themselves in public.

These were the notorious “Ugly Laws.” For example, Chicago’s law forbade anyone who was “diseased, maimed, mutilated, or in any way deformed, so as to be an unsightly or disgusting object from being in the public view.”

Those laws are gone now, but there are still people who would prefer not to have to look at those of us with disabilities. And one of them appears to be our president.

Recently, President Trump met with several members of the U.S. Paralympic team, to congratulate them on games well played. But while he was honoring them and calling them “inspirational,” he also said he had only watched “as much as I could” of the games. This was because, “It was a little tough to watch.”

I have attached links below that show President Trump’s remarks, as well as the very eloquent response to him by the U. S. Paralympic organizers. I will let this information speak for itself.

But isn’t he really saying that he would rather not look at us unless he has to, and wasn’t it this kind of thinking that created the Ugly Laws in the first place?