I am an attorney with a disability, and I co-teach a class on disability law. But because laws are just words, I would like to learn and convey more of the real world of living with a disability in the 21st Century.
We’re all a little anxious as we wait for our airline baggage after a flight. We hope that our suitcase will happily bounce down onto the conveyer belt and we can grab it and be on our way.
If our luggage is delayed or damaged in some way, it’s always a major irritant. We have to fill out forms and wait for the items to be returned or replaced.
But what if the damaged item is your wheelchair, walker or scooter? It then becomes much more than an inconvenience – it may literally cause you to be stranded at the airport for an indefinite period of time. This is especially true if it was a device specifically designed for you and your disability.
Fortunately, Congress has just passed a law that will make airlines more accountable. On October 5, 2018, the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act, H.R. 302, was signed into law. Among other things, this new law requires airlines to more closely track mobility devices on flights, as well as pay increased penalties for damaged equipment. Airlines are also required to enhance training for security officers on this issue.
One of our biggest challenges is to help people understand that our mobility devices are really an extension of ourselves, and should be treated as such. This new law brings us closer to that goal.
For more information, see the article below by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
A few days ago, an airplane full of passengers was sitting on the tarmac in Orlando, Florida, waiting to take off. But there was a two-hour delay while the passengers had to deplane and the police were called.
This is not an uncommon event, but what made this situation unique was the reason it happened. It wasn’t a belligerent passenger, a switch that wouldn’t go off, or a door that wouldn’t close. It was a squirrel.
A woman had tried to bring the squirrel onto the plane, saying it was an emotional support animal (ESA). She had also apparently called ahead and advised the airline that she would be bringing an ESA on board, but she did not say it was a squirrel. The airline pointed to its policy, which states that the only ESA’s allowed on flights are dogs and cats.
It would be short-sighted to just blame this passenger. Assuming that she did call the airlines beforehand, it sounds like she was a victim of yet another miscommunication between airlines and passengers on this issue.
In addition, I wonder about the airline’s policy. Assuming we are talking ESA’s and not service animals, what is the rationale for allowing only cats and dogs on airplanes? Is there medical or psychiatric literature supporting the proposition that these are the only “legitimate” emotional support animals? If so, I have never heard about it.
All of this supports the ever-growing public chorus for airlines to be more specific about their criteria for allowing ESA’s on airplanes. The U.S. Department of Transportation is currently studying the issue and is expected to come out with new regulations in the future.
Let’s hope these regulations do more than just identify the animals that are “suitable” for boarding. It would be useful if they also clarified who is eligible to bring animals on board (people with disabilities), as well as required airlines to train their employees in how to manage both animals and the humans that travel with them.
Shaquem Griffin does not think of himself as an inspiring figure. He just wants to play football like his twin brother. The main differnce between them is unlike his brother, Shaquem has only one hand.
Shaquem was born with a birth defect that necessitated his hand being amputated when he was four years old. This did not stop him from doing what he wanted to do, which was play football. It also didn’t deter him when a coach from an opposing team told him, “You need two hands to play football.”
“It was like I was defective or something,” Shaquem said of that comment. But he shrugged it off and kept playing.
And now he is playing on the Seattle Seahawks. As Frank Bruni of the New York Times says below:
“In this rancorous country, we’re buffeted more than usual by reminders of humanity at its worst. Griffin is a glimpse of us at our best — of our ability to reframe hardship as challenge, tap extraordinary reserves of determination and achieve not just success but grace.’
FORGET that the Baltimore Orioles have lost 111 games and are having the worst season in their history.
REMEMBER that On September 18, 2018, the Orioles became the first U.S. professional team to use Braille lettering on their uniforms.
This was in honor of the National Federation of the Blind’s move to Baltimore 40 years ago. Each uniform had “Orioles,” as well as the player’s name, spelled out in Braille characters. Braille alphabet cards were also handed out during the game.
The team was originally going to do something to commemorate the 28th Anniversary of the Amerians with Disabilities Act. When they learned about the NFB anniversary, however, they decided to have make their tribute closer to “home.”
I am writing to protest the Trump administration’s latest effort to deny health insurance to people who have pre-existing medical conditions.
This is very personal to me, because I have multiple sclerosis. So did my mother and my grandmother. But I now have many more opportunities than they did to slow down the progression of my disease through the use of new medications.
The problem is that these medications can cost up to $40,000.00 a year. That’s why the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was such a godsend. Among the many ways it protects people is by making it unlawful for insurance companies to deny coverage for people with pre-existing conditions.
But as mentioned above, the current administration is trying to destroy these protections, one stealthy step at a time. The latest tactic is a new federal regulation that would make it legal for insurance companies to offer “short term” insurance plans that do not have the same protections as the ACA.
And yes, it would again be legal to deny coverage for people because of pre-existing conditions.
As of now, this rule is scheduled to take effect at the end of September. I urge everyone to put pressure on their elected representatives to stop the further victimization of people who are already so vulnerable.
It’s so easy to assume that “nothing can be done” for people with disabilities, especially in emergency situations. That makes it easy for those of us with disabilities to start believing that, too.
But there’s a lot that can in fact be done to prepare for emergencies, such as putting together supply kits, keeping vital phone numbers at the ready, regularly changing batteries for mobility devices or hearing aids, making sure your friends and family know how to contact you, etc.
As recently mentioned, the ADATA Center has tremendous amounts of information about all of this. They also have webinars and podcasts on the subject – all for free.
Check out the link below for more information. And be prepared!
If you’re looking for information about disability rights, Colorado has a fantastic service available. It is called “Disability Law Colorado.”
Disability Law Colorado has information about service/emotional support animals, employment, public accommodations and a host of other issues that are vital for people with disabilities and their advocates to understand.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last couple of years, you’re aware of the escalating controversy about people who abuse disability law by bringing animals on airplanes and calling them “emotional support animals(ESA’s).”
Because of the massive confusion over what airlines can and cannot require in these cases, the default position is for airline personnel to not ask any questions and let the parties (human and otherwise) board. The result has been an increasing public resentment over flights where animals are roaming the aisles and urinating, defecating, biting, snarling and sometimes injuring people.
I have already written several posts about this issue, and I’m not going to repeat myself here. But I wanted to invite you to read an article that focuses on people who really need those animals in order to carry on the functions of daily life.
In the unlikely event that any of the “abusers” are reading this post, this is a plea for them to stop and think about how their actions impact people who are using the law in the way it was intended.
A rollator is a walker with wheels. It is hard to describe the freedom I felt when I first used one.
Rather than walking (often staggering) slowly and always thinking about falling, I was able to actually look up and enjoy (or at least take in!) the world around me as I moved about.
I was no longer at the mercy of some unobservant person who might accidentally knock me down. This was both because I was more stable and because my “wheels” signaled to others to be more careful around me. And I can definitely understand why Heather M. Jones, the writer of the article below, described her first ride in a wheelchair as “like flying down Route 66…”
Lest this sounds too “pollyannaish,” let me assure you that above all, I wish I did not have multiple sclerosis and did not need this device. But since I do, this is one of the things that greatly enhances my quality of life.
And for others who think that something like this (or a cane, a wheelchair or a scooter) might make their lives more manageable, I definitely encourage you to at least give it a test drive!