Posted in Accesibility for People with disabilities, disability civil rights

Who Needs Straws? Lots of People

It seems like a no-brainer: Get rid of straws and we’ll all leave a smaller carbon footprint.

But this only works if we don’t think about the people who need them. See the article below for more details.

https://www.cnn.com/2018/07/11/opinions/starbucks-plastic-draw-hurts-disabled-like-me-blake/index.html

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Posted in Accesibility for People with disabilities, Air carrier access act

The Skies Just Got Friendlier for People with Disabilities

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.

https://www.nationalmssociety.org/About-the-Society/News/Society-Applauds-New-FAA-Law-Making-Travel-More-Ac

Posted in Accesibility for People with disabilities, ADA Title III, Baseball

Braille on Baseball Uniforms Outshines the Orioles’ Season

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.”

Good on the Orioles!

And remember, there’s always next year…

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/dc-sports-bog/wp/2018/09/19/orioles-become-first-u-s-pro-team-to-incorporate-braille-on-uniforms/

Posted in Accessibility for people with disabilities, disability civil rights, Mobility Devces

“I decided in that moment I would never be confined again.”

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!

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/stop-saying-wheelchair-bound_us_5b59f898e4b0de86f494bcfc

Posted in Accessibility for people with disabilities, Air carrier access act

Nothing “Fake” in this News Story about Service Animals

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We have recently been inundated with news stories about peacocks, turkeys and other assorted creatures, who are joining or attempting to join us on airline flights.

Not surpringly, this has occasionally resulted in conflicts between humans v. animals, animals v. animals and humans v. humans. Although these instances are relativly rare, the negative publicity casts a shadow on people with disabilities who genuinely need those animals in order to access airplanes.

It doesn‘t help that there is also tremendous misinformation out there about what the law actually says. That’s why it was refreshing to come across an article by the Washington Post that explains the issues in a very clear and easy-to-read style.

One of the most important points made is the following:

Although the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) limits the definition of  “service animals“  to dogs and miniature horses, this is not true with the airline industry, which is covered by a different law – The Airline Carrier Aviation Act (ACAA).  Under that law, airlines are required  to allow certain other animals on board.  This is because unlike the ADA, the ACAA covers what are called “emotional support animals,“  animals that are not there to perform specific tasks, but whose job is to generally ease anxiety and provide a degree of security to their handlers.

Without these animals, some passengers with disabilities may not be able to access airplanes. And since accessibility is the heart and soul of all disability laws,  it must be fiercely protected.


The US Department of Transportation has recently issued proposed rules to add more restrictions on animals aboard airlines. In a subsequent post, I will discuss what I consider to be the pros and cons of these rules. In the meantime, I have provided links both to these rules and to the Washington Post article.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2018/national/amp-stories/service-and-support-animals-explained/

https://www.transportation.gov/individuals/aviation-consumer-protection/service-animals-including-emotional-support-animalsv

Posted in Accessibility for people with disabilities, ADA reform, ADA Title III, disability civil rights

Ready to Roll…on Washington!

 

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The ADA Education and Reform Act is horribly misnamed, and I’m sure that was intentional.

If enacted , this law would severely limit the rights of individuals with disabilities to file lawsuits against businesses that do not accommodate them.  For example, if a wheelchair user could not get into a store because there was no ramp, she could no longer immediately file a lawsuit against the establishment.  Instead,  she would be required to give written notice of her intent to sue and would then have to wait at least 60 days for the store to fix the problem.  And because the store would only need to show that it had made “substantial progress” towards compliance, this process could string out for a long time, with the individual still unable to make her case for access.

I am attaching a post I wrote for this blog back in February, which goes into more detail about this serious attack on disability rights. I am also attaching a recent article that provides more information and  announces that there will be a demonstration in Washington DC next week, to oppose this law.

Those of us of a certain age clearly remember the Marches on Washington in the 60’s. This is designed to send the same kind of message: Justice is for everyone, no matter what our current mode of transportation.

https://disabilitylawsandvoices.com/category/americans-with-disabilities-reform-act/

]http://www.13abc.com/content/news/ADA-Changes-Spark-Controversy-485611731.html

Read about the demonstration here: 

https://www.unitedspinal.org/events/roll-on-capitol-hill/

 

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Posted in Accesibility for People with disabilities, ADA Title III

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

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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.

https://www.ada.gov/regs2010/smallbusiness/smallbusprimer2010.htm`

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 Accesibility for People with disabilities, disability civil rights

Posting by Joe Shapiro describes a Senseless Courtroom Tragedy.

 

Joe Shapiro  just shared an astonishing  and horrendous news article on Facebook. It’s about a female inmate who appeared in court to answer criminal charges. She had a respiratory disease and had asked the judge to let her use her breathing apparatus. But the judge, astonishingly, denied her request. A few days later, she died.

The “I can’t breathe” rallying cry would be ominously appropriate here, too.

See link below:

https://www.facebook.com/joe.shapiro.94/posts/1508940372547758

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