- By Stephanie Hickey -
I know that everyone asks themselves this question: "Will I ever find true love?" But this is a particularly tricky question if you are disabled. My insecurities aren't eased by tasteful remarks I read, such as one about Kevin McHale: Artie from Glee. To paraphrase, it went: "He's hot! I'd do him; too bad he's in a wheelchair." That wonderful comment hits the core fear disabled men and women have regarding love. Being disabled, can I really loved? Remarks like this also leave us with the attitude we are lucky to find someone, anyone to love us because we are disabled, as if it takes a very special kind of person to love someone with a disability. And kudos to them for doing so!
I used to feel that way--that being disabled I'd be lucky to find anyone to love me. I was I was always particularly self-conscience of my many operation scars. Will a man be repulsed by these? Would he find them strangely beautiful? Perhaps, what I hoped for most is that he wouldn't notice them at all; he wouldn't even care.
And then it happened. I actually met someone. He acknowledged my scars, but he didn't care about them. But still I worried whether or not I would be capable of meeting his physical needs in a girlfriend. What if he liked taking long walks, or worse, hikes in the mountains? Would he laugh at me if I fell? What if he didn't understand my days, the days my pain kept us from meeting? Like the scars, it didn‘t matter. And he never laughed at me. I was lucky. I found someone who understood the limitations my disability put on our relationship, never letting it affect how much he cared about me. And it did strain our relationship at times, even if he is very gallant and still insists it never interfered in any way. We eventually went our separate ways, not because of my disability, but because of the other factors that occur in relationships. He was not my true love--just my first love.
Now I’m on the search for true love again--and older--new insecurities plague me, particularly as a woman. I fear I may not be able to have children. What if I could have children? Could I be a physically adequate enough mother to provide the playfulness and exertion children need? How will that affect a relationship?
Although these worries nag at me, I realize they’re nothing more than the baggage I’ll carry into a relationship. What woman isn't insecure about her body? What man isn't insecure about his body? And what woman doesn't fear that she may not make the best mother her children need? We all come with insecurities and all relationships come with complications; disabilities may make things in a relationship more complicated, but that doesn‘t mean the obstacles are insurmountable or that they are even obstacles. Anyone who finds true love is blessed and if I stumble in my search for true love, it is not because I am disabled, but because I am human and we stumble in our search for love. Being disabled doesn't mean true love isn’t out there for you to find, even if it seems that way. It may just be harder to see it when it is in front of you.
Photo Credit Flickr
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
- By Stephanie Hickey -
Friday, December 9, 2011
- By Keith Hosey -
Why don’t we talk more about disability pride? I believe that disability is natural and that people with disabilities can do anything non-disabled people can do, we just do things a little differently sometimes. I understand that not everybody feels like I do about their own disability, but consider this: Eleanor Roosevelt once said “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” If we can’t be proud of who we are, how can we ever expect society to treat us as equal?
We need more pride in the disability community. We need to celebrate our heritage and our abilities. Other minority groups celebrate their proud heritage, so why not us too? This community has athletes, comedians, professionals, actors, CEOs, etc. People with disabilities have climbed Mt. Everest won Ms. America and even became President. We have quad rugby, paralympians and the third most used language in America (ASL). We are the largest political minority and, as consumers, we have huge spending power.
Even though Club Foot is one of the most common congenital disabilities in the world, I only knew of one person who was like me when I was growing up, a female figure skater. I could identify with her because we shared the condition of club feet. Only one person who I could say, “hey, she’s like me, I can be successful too.”
We need to recognize and celebrate those people who are role models with a disability. We have Marlee Matlin, Ray Charles, Penelope Trunk, Muhammed Ali, James Durbin and Mark Zupan. We have Leroy Colombo, a Deaf man known as the “world’s greatest lifeguard,” who saved more than 900 lives. We need more role models – and not just the famous ones, but neighbors and friends - to be proud of their abilities and of this community so that kids can say, “hey, he/she’s like me, I can be successful too.”
Are you a person with a disability? We need YOU. Celebrate your disability pride.
Thursday, October 27, 2011
People with disabilities have the right, like other registered voters, to cast their ballots at polling places that are accessible to them. This includes, but is not limited to, people physically accessing their polling places in order to vote independently and privately.
You may have been notified that your polling place has been moved or noticed some changes when you voted in the May Primary. These changes have happened for Kentucky to be in compliance with federal laws regarding voter access. The Commonwealth, like all other states, is required by several federal laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Help America Vote Act, to make voting fully accessible to all voters, regardless of disability.
We, as advocates, have heard from people with disabilities over the years who have used absentee ballots to vote because they were unable to enter their polling places due to physical barriers. Use of absentee ballots should no longer be a necessity.
The Secretary of State, the State Board of Elections, County Clerks, the Kentucky Disabilities Coalition, and other disability rights advocates have been working hard to ensure that polling places are physically accessible and have at least one accessible voting machine. Kentuckians with disabilities can vote independently and privately. No longer are individuals with disabilities prevented from casting their votes in voting booths like other registered voters.
If you are an individual with a disability who experiences problems with accessibility on Election Day, call your county clerk for help. You may also contact the State Board of Elections (1-800-246-1399), Protection and Advocacy (1-800-372-2988), or the KY Office of the Americans with Disabilities Act (1-877-423-2933).
Protection & Advocacy
100 Fair Oaks Ln, 3rd Floor
Frankfort, KY 40601
Kentucky ADA Coordinator
KY Office of the Americans with Disabilities Act
500 Mero Street, 2nd Floor
Frankfort, KY 40601
Thursday, October 20, 2011
Friday, September 2, 2011
I’d like to talk about so-called professionals, self-determination, the “Lizard Brain”, and how they matter to me and you. I recently read the book Linchpin by Seth Godin. It’s a great book – it will inspire you. Linchpin talks about the “Lizard Brain,” that voice inside all of us that tells us we’re not good enough... we won’t succeed. It likes comfort, safety and routine; it fears change and the chance of success. It fears these because it fears the unknown.
A very good friend of mine last year told his personal story to a group of high school students for Disability Mentoring Day. I have heard the story before; it’s great, it’s inspiring and I enjoyed him telling it with such passion to these students. You see, he had a brain aneurism in the womb that has caused some learning differences. He was told by his high school guidance counselor that college was a waste of time for him. He was better off just talking some job out of high school and settling for what he could find, according to the counselor. He was told “No”, “you can’t” and “you’ll never be good enough,” by a so-called professional who should inspire the students they work with, not discourage them.
There are so many wonderful individuals in the education industry (and I am lucky to know some) who are doing great, inspiring things for students and especially students with disabilities. I hate that people like this guidance counselor had to sully their profession. This really goes across the spectrum of those I like to call “so-called professionals” who are in a position to do so much to inspire people to achieve, but for whatever reason, they think everyone needs their prescribed “dose of reality”. This includes teachers, guidance counselors, coaches, mentors, case workers, therapists, etc.
What if that counselor had said, “Hey, I know you want to do this and I think you should try it. I’m going to be honest with you, it won’t be easy and there’s a chance you may fail, stumble, or give up. If this is what you want, then reach for it and I’m here to support you.” What a difference! Luckily, my friend is a stubborn and hard headed guy. “No you can’t” fueled him for the nineteen years it took to get his degree. He now has his bachelors and is in a Masters’ program to be a teacher in special education.
The Lizard Brain tells him to stop, to quit. It says “That counselor was right; he’s a ‘so-called professional’ after all.” Peter is the Lizard Brain’s worst enemy. Not only does he know how to silence the voice, he works hard to silence it in other people too. He failed Algebra six times in college and I’m sure there were times when he wanted to give up, but he has good friends and family who cheered him on. Now I know that he will pay it forward as a teacher, because I know that his passion is teaching and coaching individuals to success. He said it best at Disability Mentoring Day 2010, “You have dreams? Pursue your dreams. People tell me I can't because of my disability… I'm in the business of proving them wrong.”
Thursday, August 25, 2011
- By Barbara Davis -
DMD is a wonderful experience, both for those who have never worked, and for those who have worked but are facing a career change due to disability. The two hour mentoring event allows the opportunity to learn about a job, to develop self-esteem, learn new skills and to discover something new about oneself. It is also an opportunity to develop contacts and references in the business world. Some individuals who have participated in DMD have found jobs, either directly or indirectly, as a result of participation in DMD.
On top of all that, it is just plain fun.
Students with disabilities who shadow mentors in a group setting seem to enjoy interacting with the other students. They have a chance to make friends with someone who is interested in the same career and form a bond with someone who isn’t going to say, “You can’t do that,” to them. During the lunch portion they share stories and perspectives, and sometimes phone numbers. They share jokes. Everyone that I have spoken with over the years has had glowing reports of their experiences with DMD. Some have gone on to shadow a mentor a second time, in a different field. This has enabled them to compare two careers that might be of interest in order to determine which career suits best.
Some students may shadow a mentor alone and then compare their experience with others who have also shadowed alone. Either way, the friendships, business contacts and new skills have made for a positive and rewarding experience.
If you would like to know the fun of participating in DMD, call Larry Hosey at 502-589-6620. You can also visit www.calky.org to learn more about DMD.
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Heaven must be missing some Angels...
To me that is obviously true...
Each and everyone of you give and re give until the day is through...
Then when the dawn returns again with a need confronting you...
We are greeted with a heart felt voice...
One with reassurance, truth and choice...
Who marches on and takes a stand...
For all who needs a helping hand...
So believe me now my dearest friends as I speak of true...
Heaven must be missing some angels each and everyone of you!!
With all my heart..Sandra L. Monroe
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
- By Barbara Davis -
As students are getting ready to head back to school, I am reminded of a quote I recently read from musician James Durbin. He said, “A teacher once told me I’d never amount to anything.” As a person with multiple disabilities and the mother of two sons with autism, reading that quote made me sad because it brought back a lot of memories of similar teachers for both my sons and me. Fortunately for all of us, we also had some pretty amazing teachers who made a real difference in our lives.
James has Asperger’s Syndrome – a high functioning form of autism – and Tourette’s, which causes facial twitching and other symptoms. Despite this teacher’s remark, he went on to perform in a local theater group, in local rock bands, and ultimately, to audition for American Idol and make it all the way to the top four. He also has a fiancée and a two-year-old son. I’d say he definitely amounted to something.
A teacher’s job is not only to educate, but to guide, mentor, inform and encourage. A good teacher strives to equip a student with the means to reach his or her fullest potential; she (or he) does not tear a student down and put up barriers to success. Thankfully, many students like James go on to use these hurtful words as a challenge, and they are able to accomplish wonderful things in their lives.
Other students, unfortunately, may automatically internalize those hurtful words, especially if heard from more than one teacher. Students with disabilities and other “differences” are vulnerable to being bullied from their peers. This is outrageous enough, but they certainly shouldn’t be bullied by the teachers who are supposed to be guiding and encouraging them.
A teacher often has a lasting impact – positive or negative - on his/her students. Fortunately, good ones outnumber the bad in my experience. If you are a teacher, or are aspiring to be one, I hope you will do whatever you reasonably can to enable your students to reach their fullest potential. If you are a student who has a teacher who belittles and discourages you, I hope you will not let your teacher’s hurtful words keep you from reaching your fullest potential. When you refuse to allow others to discourage you, you become the best person you are capable of being. You also show the teacher and the rest of the world that disabled doesn’t mean unable.
Photo Courtesy of Keith Hosey. All rights reserved.
Friday, July 29, 2011
- By Keith Hosey -
On Sunday July 24th New York joined the elite few states that recognize GLBT people as human beings and full citizens by legalizing and legitimizing same-sex marriage (while my state went as far as passing a law banning same-sex marriage a couple years ago). Congratulations to the GLBT community for this win, it’s fantastic and I’m happy for all the couples that have gotten married so far.
But I’m straight and a disability rights activist, why should I care about GLBT rights (other than the fact that I have numerous friends who happen to be gay)? Maybe it’s because of the way I was raised, to value people as people. I carry a picture of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in my wallet with the quote “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”. I believe in civil rights and equality for all people. I can’t talk about disability rights without acknowledging the rights of everyone.
Someone once told me that I only care about disability rights because I work for the Center. That makes me smile and laugh. Sometimes I wish it was a nine-to-five belief. I believe that every person, no matter their background, genetic markers, birthrights, origins, etc. deserves to have the respect of being treated as a human being. I don’t understand discrimination, possibly because I’ve personally experienced it. I don’t think that anyone should have to endure discrimination in a free society, that we should all be afforded due respect as people.
I don’t understand people who can fight so fervently for their personal social justice cause and not care about the other groups. I’ve known people who steam at the use of the word “fag” then ask me why it matters if they use “retard”... It’s just a word after all, they say. I believe that we’re all tied together in this fight for equality. How an African-American is treated in a business has an effect on the disability or GLBT community -- and vice versa. The “glass ceiling” in women’s pay equality is as frustrating to me as an inaccessible business. Are my civil rights any less important than yours? Are yours less than mine? I personally don’t think anyone else’s value is less important than mine. Because we’re all only people after all… and isn’t that what civil rights are all about?
- By Pinalben “Pinky” Patel -
I have been a vocational rehabilitation client since 2003. I am grateful for VR’s help in getting me two laptops, Dragon NaturallySpeaking, a lift for the family van, course books, and other software throughout the four years of my college education. My disability, Fredreich's ataxia, is a progressive disease so there is no telling what type of assistive technologies I would require as time goes on, and VR helped me get a ceiling lift, a Dragon NaturallySpeaking update for my new laptop I just bought, and a wheel chair accessible van even after college.
Without their financial support, I might have never completed my degree in Print Communications from Murray State University or be a published freelance writer. However, I do have a suggestion, which could improve VR’s services for people in a situation such as mine.
When I needed an aide for the school day, VR provided funding but never helped in finding one. It was very difficult to find reliable attendants on my own.
I had people who called and set up an interview, but they did not show up when time of the interview came. Some aides I hired just did not show up when it was time for them to come. They just have a smiling, gracious face until they just don't come. And finding a substitute when the aides did not show up or wanted a vacation was a nightmare too.
I think an organization would have better luck in finding reliable people to work. Therefore, instead of funding the person who has to hire aides, VR should give money for the aides directly to the college he or she is attending to hire attendants. It would be so nice to know when you get off the transportation you are using, that someone will be there for you. That was the feeling I had in high school, but I did not realize it until I started college.
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
- By Robin Ungar –
I was born with Strabismus (both eyes crossed). From infancy through my early teens, I had to have surgery seven times to correct the Strabismus, and then to reconstruct the front left side of my head with plastic surgery. I started wearing glasses with an eye patch on the left eye at three and a half years old.
Although I do not remember the surgeries, I do remember some of the teasing I got because of my appearance. I am the youngest of three children and my condition and surgeries only served to reinforce my siblings' tendency to be protective of me when others teased me about my appearance. In fact, my appearance was so different from everyone else's that I did not have a baby picture to put in the year book my senior year of high school because all of the pictures that we did have were of my head being buzzed, which I hated, but my sister loved.
During my school career, I learned slower than other children and received individual attention through the IEP program. In high school, my parents were told by my high school counselor that I would not graduate from college. Well with my determination and persistence, I finally graduated from U of L with a BA in Psychology in May 2010. No one tells me that I can't do something and the word can't is no longer in my vocabulary. However, I do admit that I never thought I would graduate from college either, but with the love and support that I got from my family and friends, not to mention my proofreader, I finally did it!
I started at Murray State University in the fall of 1992. I chose Murray State University because of the great program they have with helping individuals with learning disabilities. So what was the problem that I ended up at U of L instead? Being that I lived on campus, I had to take more then one class at a time and that affected my grades too badly and after being put on academic probation and suspension too much, I dropped out of college in 1995, but only temporarily. As a promise to my mom on her death bed and to prove, not only to myself, but to my high school counselor as well, I started at U of L in the spring of 2003, the semester after my mom passed away. To assure my success, I took just one class a semester.
Not only did the surgeries affect my appearance as a child, but I personally believe and think that it has affected my facial expression even as an adult because I do not smile. I was actually told by my eye doctor that it has nothing to do with the surgeries I had. Due to my lack of smiling, I am looked upon as being angry, when, in fact, I am not. I am on medication for anger/depression. I sometimes wonder if my anger/depression issues stems from when I was being teased all of the time due to my surgeries and has just gotten worse because of my mom passing away.
My next big goal in life is to find my dream job working with individuals who have special needs (i.e. intellectual and mental disorders). I want to help people like I have been helped all of my life. I also want to let special needs individuals know that they are not stupid (they are actually very smart), that it is okay to be a slow learner, and to not let someone tell them that they can't do something.
I want to mention the song "Don't Laugh At Me" by Peter, Paul, & Mary. It is a great song and one of my favorites. It has to do with people that are different. I hope you all have a chance to listen to it at some point in your life.
People can be really cruel. Please do not be that person.
Saturday, July 16, 2011
- By Keith Hosey –
Washington DC: National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) 2011 Conference.
This is my second year in a row at the NCIL conference. It’s invigorating and energizing to be around so many advocates who have literally changed the course of civil rights and inclusion for people with disabilities in America. It’s empowering to see so many people with disabilities gather and organize to advocate in our Nation’s Capital. Revolutionaries, radicals & general rabble rousers from all over the country who are fighting for the same thing that we are in Kentucky: independence, choice, equality, our fair share of the American dream.
It’s a reminder for me. It’s a reminder that we are in a fight, a fight against ignorance, intolerance and indifference towards people with disabilities. It’s also a wonderful reminder of what we’re fighting for, of what’s at stake, of what’s possible. Throughout the year, we in the movement – I – sometimes forget what it’s all about. I forget the big picture: there’s a nationwide independent living movement out there, a civil rights movement for people with disabilities, “nothing about us without us”, “free our people”, “our home our choice”.
Then I get here. The energy is palpable and everyone feeds off of each other’s excitement. We take over a hotel, a multi-block radius, with wheelchairs, scooters, walkers, crutches, white canes, service animals. There are little people, amputees, people who limp, stutter, stagger, swagger, and move in mannerisms that are different, people who talk with their hands and fingers. I often wonder what other guests and people on the streets think about us. But by the 2nd day, we’re part of the natural mosaic, people don’t give second looks, they don’t stare, they don’t bat an eye. The other guests stand in the lobby with us like it’s any other Thursday. To me, that’s what we’re fighting for, what’s at stake, what’s possible. It’s an amazing conference and I wish everyone with a disability could experience it once to experience the energy.
Image Property of Independence First of Milwaukee, WI.
Monday, June 27, 2011
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
"I would never have known if you hadn't told me." People tell me this often. They're referring to my being disabled. I've previously mentioned that I am not visibly disabled. I, in essence, "pass" as--for desperate want of a better word-- "normal". And individuals make this remark in a flattering tone, when it's the least complimentary thing one can say.
I have no wheelchair or leg braces. I can walk heel-toe, heel-toe (as opposed to awkwardly stumbling on my toes) beautifully, but the little things get me. Muscle spasms go unnoticed under dinner tables, cramps fill my wrists, and after tiring, I can no longer walk my good walk. Strolling down the street, I fall suddenly--apparently for no reason. My ankles have tightened up and given out on me. I have constant back pain I hide well. It's challenging for me to use (control them with precision) a computer mouse or a manual can opener and I want a man who will cut my steak. It's not romantic, but all these tasks are thorny propositions for me. But none of these situations are really obstacles to my daily life. They are simply irritations, minor nuisances.
Most irritating are people's attitudes that I encounter--their frustrations because I do find some tasks challenging and they see no obvious reason why I should. I don’t look like I deal with constant back pain, which medication only eases and gives me the capability to do things. This attitude doesn't bother me because I know those feeling that dissatisfaction don’t know my history. They don’t know my first sixteen years of life were filled with leg braces, wheelchairs, surgeries, therapy, therapy and still more therapy.
I suppose the most upsetting thing about “passing” is the internal struggle with which I deal. I don’t always disclose my disability, for fear of being judged as fishing for sympathy. I feel like I'm hiding my disability as something of which I am ashamed when nothing is further from the truth. But what is most painful is the inner conflict I feel when I am around the “visibly disabled”. I do not feel sorry for them. I know they don’t want or need my sympathy. But I experience terrible guilt. Those first sixteen years were packed with so many difficulties, challenges and so much hard work that I'm incredibly proud of myself, knowing how far I've come--that I've improved enough to "pass". I also realize how blessed I am that my condition could improve to this point, but it stings when I see someone whose condition I know can only improve so far, or perhaps not at all. Why should I be so blessed? Why can I not trade some of my progress so that other disabled individuals' conditions can advance? These thoughts always haunt me when I am with the visibly disabled and it pains me that some may think I don't understand their struggles because I "pass".
My parents say I shouldn't feel any guilt; I should thank God for my blessing and leave it at that. But I can't. For every blessing I count, I also wish I could share my blessings, my advances for every disabled person I know. As much as the difficulty of cutting my own steak or controlling a computer mouse is with me, so is the ever-present twinge of guilt I have for "passing". And I have to deal with it like I do everything else: realize it's a challenge but understand it's not impossible and move on.
Is your disability hidden? How do you feel about having a visible/invisible disability?
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
- By Keith Hosey -
“If you like me, you won’t discriminate against me.” – Cass Irvin
In case you missed it, March 2nd was Spread The Word To End The Word day (the r-word, “retard”). So what’s the big deal? Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me, right?
Wrong. I used to use words without regard. I’d call things I didn’t like “gay” or “retarded.” Here was my reasoning: I didn’t mean anything by it. I was calling a thing ‘retarded,’ not a person. What was the problem?
Nobody’s perfect and I’ve certainly learned my lessons, I have since cut much of it out of my language (and continue to strive toward that goal). Now, in life, I correct people when they don’t use appropriate language. This applies to it all bigotry-charged words; racial, sexual orientation, disability related, etc. With disability related words, I am sometimes scoffed or mocked, it doesn’t really matter to some, it’s “too politically correct.”
When you use the r-word as a cut down, it hurts real people - people who might be you neighbors, friends or coworkers who have a relative with an intellectual disability. People you have never met standing behind you at the store or sitting next to you in a restaurant. Still think it’s a victimless crime?
Words are indicative of attitudes and world views. I grew up with a disability. Crippled, gimp, retard are all words that have been used at one time or another as weapons against me. Verbal weapons aimed to hurt and bully me. They pierced me to the core, sharply cut my heart, spirit, confidence, my world view of myself. I’ve seen this pain in other people, too. I’ve seen the hurt a word can do to individuals, family members, and friends.
When you talk about “cripples”, when you say that something is “retarded”, I remember every time those words were used as weapons against me. I remember the pain they caused before I was strong enough, proud enough in myself and my differences to not let it hurt. I know it hurts many others like me and, as strong as I am, it still stings a little. It stings because, if you use those words, you don't accept my peers with disabilities as equals. If you accept me as equal, if you consider yourself as not being bigoted, you cannot use these words. I will not accept it. It’s not “too much political correctness”, its respect… for me and others with disability as your equal.
I’ve written about the r-word and ableism before and so has my co-blogger, Stephanie Hickey. As Writer Jeff Goins said, “Do yourself and the world a favor and stop using the word “retard.” Period. No questions. No excuses. Just stop. Stop calling your friends “retards”… When you open your mouth and words like “retard” come out, well, it makes you look dumb. And a bigot. And kind of a jerk.”
Most people in “polite society” will hesitate to use the n-word, the three letter f-word for gay people. They are no different than my words. Some people think they are different because they don’t think it hurts anyone. Me, they hurt me. I have been called crippled, gimp, retard. I have a congenital disability and deserve your respect, so please don’t use those words that have made people with disabilities feel inferior for centuries. It’s time to change. In 2011, I’m making it personal.
Monday, April 11, 2011
Monday, April 4, 2011
- By Barbara Davis -
April is a busy month. There is April Fool’s Day (1st), tax time (15th), Easter (24th) and – in the
· Autism Awareness Month: Autism can be overwhelming and confusing to those who have it, parent it, or provide healthcare, education and other services to those who have it. Local and national organizations keep us informed about all aspects of autism. To find these organizations type “autism information and support” in Google. You can add the name of your town to these words to find local service providers and support groups.
· National Child Abuse Prevention Month: Child abuse causes physical and mental disabilities, and even death. Children must be protected, not just in April but every day of the year. Additionally, every disabled parent knows the fear of having children removed from the home as a result of the parent’s disability. Disability advocates need to be vigilant in heightening awareness of parenting and disability issues.
· National Parkinson’s Awareness Month: With Parkinson’s my great-grandmother’s hands shook so badly she couldn’t feed herself with ease, and at the time (late 60’s) medications didn’t help much. Today medications and treatments do make a difference, and stem cell research offers hope for an eventual cure. Visit www.parkinson.org to learn more.
· Fair Housing Month: Speakers from CAL and other service providers will be at the Main branch of the Louisville Free Public Library on April 14 from 1-4 p.m. to celebrate Fair Housing Month.
· Stress Awareness Month/National Humor Month/World Health Day (April 7th): Stress elevates blood pressure, causes strokes and heart attacks, increases pain, causes tension headaches and worsens a number of disabilities. Humor helps to manage stress. Googling “stress management” provides information on stress management techniques. World Health Day (http://www.who.int/world-health-day/en/) focuses on a variety of health issues in the
· No Housework Day (7th): Do we really have to be told not to do housework?? Individuals with disabilities often struggle with housework. The internet is a wealth of information on cleaning shortcuts and adaptive tools for helping us manage our daily household chores. If you need housekeeping assistance and cannot afford to pay for it, call 211 for information on programs in your area that might help.
· Take Our Child to Work Day (28th): An excellent opportunity to let our children see that disabilities do not have to keep us from working.
Photo Credit Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wxmom/5579291631/
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
My journey to CN Tower in
The next day we passed the
We went to
Most of our relatives in
All of the public places we went to in
We decided to see
However, a person who has been dealing with a disability most of her life and who likes to think of herself as a physical disabilities advocate, I notice places where wheelchair accessibility is needed. It just makes me angry when I see public places don't have accessibility even though it could be easily installed with little cost. If it were a poor country like
I found four places to be really annoying during my visit. One was a bus/boat ride in
The main annoyance was the building we stayed in. I understand that private apartments don't have to be accessible, but shouldn't getting into the building be accessible? Since the apartment building was high-rise, there were elevators but getting to the elevators was the annoyance. My cousin found a flat sheet of wood that we used as a portable ramp for my electric chair. Most of the time, we felt stuck in the building once we were in because it would be such a hassle to come out. I wish I met the owner of the building-- unfortunately I don't speak as well as I write to give him a piece of my mind! Yes, it would be so helpful if architects or contractors spent a day in a wheelchair before designing a building.
I had been told I am the only person in a wheelchair who thinks about accessibility and advocacy. Of course, that advice is wrong. People with disabilities don't usually and should not accept things the way they are especially if they are unfair. I just really wanted to give you a heads-up if you are ever in a situation like mine.
But in no way I am saying this trip was not worth it. It was a great trip! I am so grateful that I got to go to these places because I know that there are many people who don't get to see what I saw. We also attended a baby shower for my sister-in-law (in my Indian culture, a baby shower is not a small female-only party; it is a big ceremony!). The party was fabulous!
Photo courtesy of Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/joie86/3731610979/
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Thursday, March 17, 2011
March 3, 2011
Mr. John Leonard
Center For Accessible Living
305 W. Broadway
Dear Mr. Leonard:
This is a letter of thanks to all those involved in building the ramp for my mother,
The builders did a wonderful, professional job building the ramp. Everyone who has seen it has commented on it positively. There have been no negative comments. Some of the comments have been:
“They really did a good job.”
“That will last a long time.”
“Everything fits together perfectly.”
“They must have used a nail gun to drive the nails”, because he didn’t notice hammer marks. (He also commented that he notices details.)
These are only a few that come to mind. Our comment is that “it exceeds expectations”.
I think this is a wonderful program because it addresses the handicap without regard to a financial need. My mother lives with us because she cannot live alone physically or financially. We could not have afforded to build it for her but the fact that we are responsible for her may have caused problems with financial qualification. I hope this program can help others as much as it has helped us.
Thanks again for all you have done to the program coordinators, builders, program funders, and anyone else responsible for the program that I have not mentioned.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Thursday, March 3, 2011
Have you been touched by
Go ahead and see, I’ll wait.
Not bad, right?
So, show us your talent. Here are the details:
Submissions must be an original four- to eight-line poem or stanza that reflects what you think about the work or mission of the Center for Accessible Living.
Keep it clean and appropriate, please. Materials deemed inappropriate will be removed.
YOU vote! We will post all the submissions throughout the month on our Facebook page and you vote by “liking” your favorites. So watch our page this month and vote for your favorites. Winners will be chosen by your votes and
Winning Prizes. Well, you’re all winners, but we at
3rd place: CAL T-shirt and your poem will be put on our website, calky.org.
2nd place: CAL T-shirt and your poem will be put on our website, calky.org.
1st place: Your poem will be submitted as
So, get writing!
Photo Credit: Flickr
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Monday, January 31, 2011
Slowing Others Down
By Stephanie Hickey
Today’s world is fast paced. Everyone’s got to get where they have to get right away or calamity will ensue. Pesky people with disabilities tend to slow others down.
I was riding the bus, which was running behind: a frequent occurrence lately, but bus riders (disabled or not) have had to adjust. There was already one passenger in a wheelchair on the bus and, a few stops later, was another individual in a wheelchair waiting for the bus. The driver was courteous and patient, helping the woman onto the bus and buckling her into her seat. I was irritated that the bus was behind schedule; still, I knew it was not this woman’s fault and was understanding. But the other passengers!
I heard low groans and frustrated sighs even as she was being lifted into the bus. I bit down a sigh of my own frustration at their attitude, but I broke down and decided to write this when the bus driver was having difficulty securing the woman in her seat. I heard low mutters, “Oh, Come on” in a tone like an unfinished sentence. I could hear the unsaid, “Another one just had to get on, didn’t they”?
Perhaps I’m being over-sensitive because I have a disability. But I wanted to pose questions to the other passengers. Wasn’t the bus already behind schedule? Weren’t all of us going to be late to our appointments or arrangements? Wasn’t the driver’s difficulty fastening her seatbelt more a product of Murphy’s Law, rather than the fact she that was in a wheelchair? That old saying: “Anything that can go wrong will; everything will take longer than expected”?
Don’t disabled people have the right to get where we need to go? We have appointments we can’t miss and friends we want to meet. So why the need for snide mutters and irritated groans? And don’t you think she felt awkward embarrassment feeling them stare at her, while knowing she was slowing everyone down, even if unintentionally?
It’s not a nice sensation feeling others’ irritation at your slowing them down. I suffer this at every crosswalk I make. I can only walk as fast as I can walk and feel no need to try to walk faster so someone can arrive where’re they’re going only two minutes earlier than they would if I weren’t there. I particularly feel awkward when I’m crossing as a driver turns at a red light. Drivers are so eager to immediately make that turn that I can almost feel the side of their cars scrap my ankles! Can’t they at least let me get me past?
This applies to all pedestrians, who technically have the right of way. So I’m asking not only for a little respect for disabled pedestrians and bus riders, but to exercise some patience for everybody trying to go about their way. You’re not going to get there any faster than you’re going to get there, so stop rushing and stop complaining because you may have to wait a lousy two minutes.
Photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/viriyincy/4544935532/