Posted in Air carrier access act, Emotional support animals

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

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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 https://disabilitylawsandvoices.com/2018/01/31/keep-your-peacock-to-yourself-please 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.

Ihttp://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-biz-american-airlines-emotional-support-animals-20180514-story.html

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.

http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/blogs/stateline/2018/03/21/thousands-lose-right-to-vote-under-incompetence-laws

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/opinion-bishop-disability-voters_us_x5af5b085e4b0e57cd9f9042f

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

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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!

//www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2018/05/portland_to_settle_with_wheelc.html

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

“I watched as much as I could…”

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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?

https://thebea.st/2w0dnK2?source=email&via=desktop

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/donald-trump-to-paralympians-you-are-tough-to-watch_us_5ae4f0c9e4b02baed1babaef