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!
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.
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?
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.
Twenty-nine years ago, it was fine for your potential employer to ask if you had ever had back surgery, had filed a workers’ compensation claim, or had recently spent time in the hospital.If you were a wheelchair user and had business at the upstairs county courthouse, you had two choices: ask the guards to carry you up or drag yourself up on your stomach.And since there was also no requirement that sidewalks have curb cuts, you had to take your chances when you rolled yourself down the sidewalk and then hoped to get yourself and your wheelchair safely onto the street.This sad landscape changed forever in 1990, when the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed. As discussed elsewhere in this website, the ADA requires non-discrimination and reasonable accommodation in areas like employment, state and local government and most private businesses that are open to the public.Of course, there are still massive violations of the ADA everywhere you look. The difference, however, is that there now is some legal apparatus to turn to for redress. And the more people do that, the more that things like elevators and curb cuts will become the norm.If you want some quick and thorough education about the ADA and other disability laws, go to https://adata.org. You will find a treasure trove of easy-to read explanations, as well as examples, recent court cases and even quizzes to test how much you have learned.And…it’s free!Happy Birthday, ADA!
On July 27, 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became law. We are now celebrating it’s 28th anniversary.
The ADA is the reason we expect to see ramps and curb cuts, as well as close-captioning and braile.
Please celebrate and be mindful of the disability civil rights movement and how it ultimately led to this revolutionary law. As indicated in the press and in other articles in this site, it is now under attack as never before.
You’ve probably been reading about or experiencing the increasing presence of animals on airplanes. They range from the bizarre (an unsuccessful attempt to bring a peacock on board) to tragic (a passenger believing she had to flush her hamster down the toilet, a dog suffocating in a storage bin).
All of this is in reference to the federal law that requires airlines to accommodate passengers with disabilities. The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) defines “disability” in the same way as does the Americans with Disabilities Act: a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity. That legalese is another way of saying that the limitation must be significant – a temporary illness or even a broken leg are usually not serious enough to fit within the legal definition.
But those lines have become increasingly blurred by press coverage and public discourse, and the prevailing belief now seems to be that ANYONE can have a service or emotional support animal on a plane – just because they can get a doctor to say that they need one.
I and others have written extensively about the damage this does to people with real disabilities who genuinely need those animals to help them while they are on a plane and maneuvering through he rest of life.
Fortunately, as the attached article shows, several airlines are examining their policies on passengers with animals. And there is still time to give your input to the Department of Transportation on this issue.
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.
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.
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.