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 disability civil rights

You will be Reading Less of Me for a While…

I will shortly start writing a new blog for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. This blog will contain many of the same themes and information as the current one.

Although I intend to keep publishing information on the current blog, there will be less of it for a while, as I get up to speed on the new one.

If you have comments or questions about anything related to disability or disability law, please continue to ask them on the form below. I CAN’T GIVE YOU LEGAL ADVICE, of course, but I can perhaps give you some resources to help you get the information you need.

And as always, I believe the best place for online disability information is https://www.ada.gov/.

CHEERS!

Helen Russon



Posted in disability civil rights

“When Squirrels Fly”

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.

See article below:

https://www.koin.com/news/national/flight-delayed-due-to-emotional-support-squirrel/1511295119

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Posted in Affordable Care Act, disability civil rights, Health insurance, Jim abbott

Ask your Congressperson to Oppose the Latest Blow to Obamacare

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.

See the links below for more information.

https://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2018/08/01/skimpy-health-insurance-plans-pre-existing-conditions

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/08/01/634539877/under-new-rules-cheaper-short-term-health-care-plans-now-last-up-to-three-years

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 disability civil rights, Franklin d. Roosevelt

New Video Surfaces of Franklin Roosevelt Walking

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Few, if any,  presidents were as beloved as Franklin Roosevelt.

Roosevelt came to office at a very volatile time in our nation’s history. He is credited with lifting our country out of the Great Depression, as well as rallying the country to defeat a murderous  despot.

Roosevelt succeeded largely because of his intellect, his determination and his boundless charisma. Families would crowd around the radio during his “fireside chats” and were comforted and encouraged by what he said.

But few knew the lengths he went to conceal the fact that he could not walk. He had contracted polio at age 39 and his legs were virtually useless. In reality, he struggled to get in and out of cars, often used a wheelchair and even resorted to being carried or crawling on the floor when necessary.

The press did not photograph him during the times he was struggling to move. This was apparently never a stated policy;  photographers just put their cameras down during those moments.

But a rare video has just been released that actually shows Roosevelt walking. How did this video come about? It was not taken by the press but by a tourist, who was unaware of this practice and who just kept his camera rolling.

In viewing this video, one is struck by how effective Roosevelt was in hiding his disability. He had undergone years  of physical therapy and body building,  and had developed the strength to swing his legs forward with his upper body strength. You also can see in the video that he supported himself by holding onto his bodyguard with one arm and a cane in the other. When he reached the podium, he clung to it and his bodyguard discretely left.

When one understands this about Roosevelt, he is even more  inspiring. But it’s impossible not to wonder what he also might have accomplished if he didn’t (justifiably) feel the need to put so much time and energy into disguising his disability.  And it’s fascinating to ponder if he would handle things the same way today.

http://time.com/5325424/video-president-roosevelt-walking/

Posted in disability civil rights

Thanks to “The Whole Person” for giving me the whole truth: It’s the 28th, not the 27th, anniversary of the ADA!

When you get lemons, make lemonade! In my earlier post today, I mistakenly wrote that this was the 27th anniversary of the ADA.

But the attached article helped me learn that I was wrong, and also helped  me learn about “The Whole Person:” a great nonprofit group in Kansas City. As you will see, their whole philosophy is that people are people first.

Such a simple concept: Why do so many people have such trouble understanding it?

https://fox4kc.com/2018/07/27/on-28th-anniversary-of-ada-metro-residents-with-disabilities-share-4-ways-we-can-improve/

Posted in Accesibility for People with disabilities, ADA reform, Books, literature and other media, disability civil rights

Happy 27th Birthday, ADA! We couldn’t have done it without you.

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The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) had its 27th birthday on July 26, 2018.

Before this law, people with disabilities had few tools to help us gain access to places and opportunities that most  people take for granted.

The link below contains many of the landmark court decisions and rewrites that have shaped the current version of the ADA. There are also links to articles about historical events that helped legislators realize that this law could not be delayed any longer.

And…these links will take you to the actual words of the ADA. They describe our right to work, to go to stores and offices, to have curb cuts available and to be participants in (not just observers of) modern life.

So happy birthday, ADA, and here’s to many more!

https://adata.org/ada-timeline