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RE: Another Civil Right Now Limited:
I personally am appalled a the DOJ decision on the matter of service dogs and access to businesses. As the author stated, I fear this is the beginning of "the slippery slope". Business owners have been looking for a reason to deny access to service dogs for some time and now, thanks to the DOJ, they have found a legitimate one.

Asking a disabled person to disclose the nature of their diability is not only a violation of that person's privacy but incredibly rude. Those of us who have a 'hidden' disability but who use a service dog will be doubly challenged by these businesses. Not only will we have to disclose the nature of our disability but it is conceivable that we will be asked to "prove" it. I am hard of hearing and have a dog to alert me to the sounds I cannot hear; to look at me it would appear that I am "normal". If challenged about my dog, I would have to tell that I cannot hear well and use the dog for this purpose; this would probably not seem to the high school kid working at McDonald's a good enough reason to bring a dog into the store. But one of the most important reasons I have the dog is that he alerts me to anyone walking up behind me or otherwise out of my line of sight.

The DOJ ruling is, in effect, asking us to choose between having our service dogs with us at all times (the ideal situation) or having access to the businesses we want to patronize. It is an unfair and unjust ruling that violates not only our civil rights but our right to privacy about our disabilites. I hope that the disabled community will rise up and protest this ruling loud and long.

Cynthia J. Brown

- Wed, 16 Mar 2005
RE: Incontinence, by John Kelly:
I agree with much of the article. First of all, I believe suicide is wrong in general, that it is "taking the easy way out", and I believe that applies to anyone, disabled or not. However, that is just my personal belief. Some people out there believe each individual is in charge of their own decision on whether or not they want to live, and that alone is justification for assisted suicide. Maybe, in an ideal world, that is true, but we don't live in an ideal world. We live in a world where mentally incompetant people with caretakers may say they want to die without understanding what they are really saying. We live in a world where some people are deaf, or mute, or in a coma and unable to contribute to their medical decisions. Who decides for those people? If you can answer that question, then where do we draw the line between caretakers who can decide and caretakers who must defer to the individual?

I don't believe assisted suicide should be ruled out entirely, because there is a large number of people who are mentally competant, understand the meaning of assisted suicide, and after careful consideration, still want to die. While I may not agree with those people, I have to respect their rights. But we all know how easily assisted suicide can be abused, and Jack Kevorkian is a fine example (recall his infamous televised assisted suicide, which served only to exploit the patient). What we should do instead is treat it with an open mind and at least look into ways that those who make an informed decision to die can do so respectfully. Exploring our options can never hurt.

Bonnie Mattingly
Newark, DE

- Wed, 9 Mar 2005
RE: The Friendly Skies, Amended
Duh! Stephen Kuusisto seems not to have been thinking clearly when he wrote this piece. His claim that people are overjoyed to sit with a dog while flying is clearly contradicted by the pressure on the airlines to change the policy. I suspect that some of the very people who Kuusisto believes loved sitting with his dog are the ones who subsequently complained. The truth of the matter is that people tend to be fond of their own animal companions, but not other folks.'

The article raises an issue that I kept hoping the author would address, but he did not. Only a minority of blind people use guide dogs. So, it is obviously not necessary to fly with a dog accompanying a person. Can't he use some other means of navigation when flying?

Another issue that may be influencing this situation is the proliferation of 'service' dogs. People are now claiming they use dogs to help them in really dubious ways. For example, people with psychological problems and epilepsy are claiming to need service dogs, despite the lack of any medical support for such a remedy. I suspect that one way to maintain support for service dogs for people who really need them is to oppose the increase in use of them by people who don't. Hopefully, organizatons serving the handicapped with take a lead in doing this.

J.G. <pajaranita@netscape.net>

- Mon, 7 Mar 2005
RE: Review of The Sea Inside
I found this article interesting but somewhat predictable in that the critic Art Blaser isn't giving us as audience members credit for being thinking creatures who can make discriminations for ourselves. When I go to the movies I make evaluations of the stances of characters...I don't simply just swallow a "message." Sometimes I vehemently disagree with a movie's "message" as I interpret it. The best movies, to me, present complexity to an important issue, and I think The Sea Inside does this. Mr. Blaser, in my view, didn't give enough weight to the exploration in The Sea Inside, done so well and with so much emotional power, of the many kinds of love that humans experience and strive to experience, with or without so-called "able" bodies.
Carol Edelstein
Northampton, MA
- Sun, 6 Mar 2005
RE: Who 'owns' Terri Schiavo?
The right to life is a conservative view, the right to die is a liberal one. The rights for the disabled concern both sides. The lawyers representing her should throw out the politics and stick with that. She is disabled, and can't tell anyone what she wants!! She has rights as they pertain to citizens with disabilities! This is the only approach that can win.

No one noticed the disabled groups that are pleading for Terri's life. That itself is a tragedy. This tragedy can be played out in the courts as an example of how easy it is to get wrapped up in politics and forget about this woman. The good news it that all this bickering from both sides has brought Terri the attention that may just save her life. If she is isn't killed by the state, her future chances for getting rehabilitation are also greater. They should take up a collection to pay off the husband, so the parents can take care of their daughter. The nation is watching.
Bert dotson
Willimantic CT
-Thu, 24 Feb 2005
RE article: Dangerous Times
Thank you, Steve Drake, for your intelligent review of the much over-rated "Million Dollar Baby". As a female boxer, I have come to know through four years of training what is contained in "the heart" of a boxer.
As the movie's opening monologue suggests, the heart is about integrity, going past your limits, and earning respect. Unfortunately, "Million Dollar Baby" was only concerned with these attributes being played out by Hilary Swank's character, Maggie, leaving a very poor image of the other boxer's for speculation.
Eastwood filmed the movie in a classic boxing gym, but managed, purposefully it seems, to discredit what boxers are all about. A contender challenges not only the opponent, but first and foremost him or herself. The training involved redefines the way one views oneself, and consequently, the way one views life.
Boxing is an external expression of the same energy used in other physical disciplines, such as yoga. Those with a proclivity toward violence may be drawn to the sport, yet that energy must shift eventually into a spiritaul agitation in order to accel and master the demand and oft-times grueling training boxers undergo.
It is an endeavor toward transformation, loosing the self to develop a stronger sense within, which is what is summoned and relied one in the ring.
Countless boxers have told stories of how the sport literally saved their lives from great mental and emotional despair, granting confidence and breakthroughs in perceived limitations on all levels of human experience. Yet Eastwood chose to stop the journey at violence, creating and furthering a stereotype: Boxer as hoodlum.
In the "heart" of any sportsman, one does not utilize the skills cultivated over months and years to beat up a hapless wannabe, as in the case of Danger's character. To portray boxers in such a light, including the various gym buddies who stood by and watched, cheering, is a cheap path toward the infusion of drama.
Sexism in the form of the gym boys teasing Maggie in regard to her breasts was another gratuitus injection by Eastwood. In reality, male boxers, and most other athletes for that matter, are not threatened by females within the sport, since they do not fight one another.
In my few years of training and thousands of hours clocked in varoius gyms across the country, I have NEVER witnesses nor heard about such behavior. What I have observed is respect, offers of guidance and compiments in some form from every male I've encountered.
What value do these scenes add to this "love story" as Eastwood names it? It appears to be an easy attempt at endearing Maggie into the hearts of the viewers, by making those around her rough and abusive.
It is not a credible approach to those who know and practice the sport. Another incredulous moment occurs in Maggie's final bout wherein the champion throws a punch after the bell had rung, ending the round. Again, simple, predictable and without any creative vision leading to the inspiration for her fall. DO NOT READ ON- SPOILERS
Other reality checks-
As Maggie lies in her bed at the "rehab center", she maintains a tremendous reduction in circulation to her leg, leading to amputation. What kind of rehabilitation center is this?
And lastly, if this is a love story, why would Frankie pull out her oxygen tube BEFORE giving her the adrenaline? Why pull it out at all? And isn't adrenaline a stimulant? Gratuitus effect, and unfortunately, people don't think enough for themselves to recognize an in-effective, uncreative film when they see it.
As Stephanie Zacharek wrote in her review of "Mystic River", Eastwood has been revered as a director for reasons that probably have more to do with iconography than with actual talent."
The movie was predictible, boring, and most sadly, uninspiring. Its poor choices and non-sensical story-line left me angry, but instead of going to hit the heavy bag, I sat down to write this commentary.
Lorna Magarian
EDITOR'S NOTE: Read more letters on this topic.
- Thursday, February 24, 2005
RE: The Friendly Skies, Amended
Like Stephen Kuusisto, I travel on a regular basis and fly to many different cities in the continental United States. While I do not have a guide dog, I do use a wheelchair and whenever I travel I become acutely aware of my disability. Why does this happen? Simply put, airlines and affiliated services such as rental car rental companies make travel exceptionally difficult for disabled passengers. While I have had many positive experiences when flying or renting a car, I have had far more negative encounters. If I have learned one thing, it is to never depend upon the airlines to do what is required by law. For instance, I have made two round trips on SONG airlines (this is Delta's version of Jet Blue) to Florida in the last few weeks. Of the four flights I have taken, only once have I sat in the row that is supposedly reserved for disabled passengers. Each time I flew I was given different reason for why I could not sit in the reserved row -- the only row that I can get to independently. My experience on SONG was not unusual -- I have had the same problem with Delta, Northwest, American, and United airlines this year.

As most disabled people know, the airline industry has had a long standing bias against disabled people. In making travel needlessly difficult airlines discourage disabled people from flying and I have no doubt that if airlines were dependent upon disabled passengers they would have gone out of business a long time ago.

The problem is not just with the airlines -- again, like Kuusisto, when I travel I am always struck by the fact I rarely see other disabled passengers. I have never seen a blind passenger with a seeing eye dog and only once have I flown on a plane where another passenger used a wheelchair. Over the years I have learned how to manipulate airline personal and remain as independent as humanly possible. For the uninitiated, however, flying can be nothing short of miserable. The only way this will change is if more disabled people hold airlines accountable. This means disabled people must assert their rights and apply pressure on the airlines to meet the letter of the law. If this does happen, all disabled people may be harmed by repressive legislation now pending.

William J Peace
- Thursday, February 24, 2005
RE: The Friendly Skies, Amended
i agree with the writer and think it is awful to charge more for service dog. they would not do that in france.
Edith Piaf <edith.piaf51@caramail.com>
- Tuesday, February 22, 2005 at 19:03:10 (EST)
RE: The Friendly Skies, Amended
I am also blind. I have a guide dog from Guiding Eyes for the Blind. These animals are well trained and are very clean. I have people on the plane tell me they wished the kids were as well behaved and quiet as the dog.
I travel about six times a year on a plane if not more. I would lose my independence if I could not fly with my dog. How could one go cargo and than try finding your dog or worrying if it would be injured on the plane.
Let us not go back to the dark ages. Many blind are not able to pay for two tickets. Are we so small minded that we would do something to put a bigger burden on a blind person.
Dory Bartell <bartelld@verizon.net>
Wesley Chapel, Florida USA
- Monday, February 21, 2005 at 18:26:28 (EST)
I get letters from the state all the time regarding posting for employees or u will be fined. When The ADA LAW WAS INFORCED i was a freshman in highshcool, through out my businness oriented life i have NEVER AND I MEAN NEVER SEEN A LETTER REGARDING ADA SPECS. . We purchased the restaurant 2 years ago, NOT ONCE DID I READ THAT OUR RESTAURANT WAS NOT HANDYCAP ACCESABLE. This restaurant has served millions of wheelcharied customers, and NOT ONE COMPLAINT OF ACCEABLITLY,.. Your working backwards MR MOLSKI your are NOT the sherrif of Califronia. your money hungry parlized idiot that crashed your motor cycle. IS THAT OUR FAULT?. We have worked many hours and many stressfull days to make this business turn. WHO ARE U THINKING U CAN TAKE OUR HARD EARNED MONEY AND LAUGH YOURSELF TO THE BANK.
San fransisco, ca usa
- Monday, February 21, 2005 at 07:40:51 (EST)
I just want to say that I am a mother ,and I would want my children to live.I have watched Etwn(Mother Angelica)for the program on Terri Schiavo.She deserves to live.I think her husband is afraid if she can speak again, she might say something that might incrimanate him Of something that only she knows,and at the same time he continues to lose all the money he was awarded for malpractice
She is not on life supports,it's just feeding tubes.No one has the right to take any ones life.And I think,because she is still very young,that if giving her the right treatments and theraphy,she could still live a reasonable life,until God decides to take her.
East prvidence, RI usa
- Sunday, February 20, 2005 at 20:29:45 (EST)
Re: Blind Pew Walks Everywhere in Columbus, Ohio

I, myself, have seen many of the scenes Steven Kuusisto describes. I have Neuro-cardiogenic Syncope. At best, I am mobile with a cane. At worst, I am not mobile at all, confined to my bed. In between, I use a manual wheelchair, but not often. I cannot get a driver's license with my condition.

Sidewalks are "hit-and-miss" will ADA compliant curbs, where they exist at all. The public transit can deny access if your motorized transport is longer than 40". Only a few of the newer models of "scooters" are shorter than that. Mine I inherited from my mother. I have to pay for the maintenance myself. Just the batteries cost $250 a pair (they need replacing).

"Reasonable accomodation" here seems to mean none at all. Most properties will not upgrade and claim hardship if asked to do so. I've seen ADA access that was not possible to get to; buildings with ramps where the curbs do not have one. Our business is not wanted, it seems.

I am hidden. I am invisible. I'm not wanted.
Ron K.
Reno/Sparks, NV US
- Thursday, February 17, 2005 at 05:10:06 (EST)
Re: No Guts, No Glory:

I just read Ingrid V. Tischer's "No Guts, No Glory". It was
awesome! I've been following Terri's story since mid 2003, but I've been
tracking it intensely for the last month, and nothing I've seen yet has
equaled the intense heartfelt passion (coupled with inteligence) expressed
here by Ms. Tischer. Well said. Thank you for speaking your mind!

Tiffany Dortignac <1of14@earthlink.net>
Whittier, CA
- Wednesday, February 16, 2005 at 12:18:51 (EST)
Re: The lawsuit dilemma by Mary Johnson:

I am not physically handicapped, so I read this article simply as an ordinary citizen interested in public policy. I remember when the ADA passed, and I was pleased. I saw it as a giant step toward making life easier for handicapped folk. It would now be possible, I (yes, naively) thought, for a handicapped person to choose a restaurant based on what he wanted to eat rather than on whether he could get access. Of course I am less pleased, all these years later, about how ignorant business owners remain about ADA requirements, and downright angry about those who wilfully ignore them.
I believe that litigation is necessary. I worked for a major retailer that had significant ADA issues, and no intention of resolving them -- and it wasn't a matter of ignorance. Big national chains don't violate the ADA in ignorance -- they have battalions of lawyers keeping watch over their every move. But mom-and-pop stores and restaurants often have no idea they're in violation. A toilet being 15" high instead of 17" high is not something your average small business owner even thinks about. And -- hate to say it -- that's pretty reasonable. Given the maze of legalities a small business has to navigate, it's almost certain that something will slip through the cracks, and they'll find themselves in violation of some federal law, or zoning regulation, or city code of some kind.
For precisely that reason, it seems to me that the most reasonable approach is to raise the issue with the business owner, sans lawyers, first. This does absolutely nothing to hurt your ability to sue later on if the results aren't satisfactory, and it gives the business owner a chance to do the right thing without having to waste money on lawyers. Most importantly, it communicates to the owner and the community at large that the disabled community is not taking out its frustrations on business owners; it just wants the access to which it is legally entitled.
For the same reason, the 90-day notice amendment to the ADA makes a lot of sense to me. And if what the disabled community really wants is access to (currently) noncompliant businesses, then there's no reason to oppose it. It wouldn't stop anyone from suing a busines owner who refuses to comply, and it would give the owner the chance to do the right thing. Strong opposition to the 90-day notice concept smacks of disabled citizens wanting revenge on noncompliant businesses, not access to them. Your fellow citizens recognize this, and you're losing ground in the court of public opinion because of it.
The Bill of Rights has been significantly weakened in the last 50 years because public opinion wasn't behind it -- and that's the *Constitution*. What makes you think it won't happen to the ADA if public opinion turns against you? Molski's approach may force compliance, but in the long run, you simply can't afford what it will cost you.
T Nichols
Orange, CA USA
EDITOR'S NOTE: Read more letters on this topic.
- Tuesday, February 15, 2005 at 18:46:36 (EST)
Regarding My Grand Deception by Ed Eames, Ph.D.: His story was all too common not so long ago. And is still a current issue. I am deaf and have just sent a letter to DOT regarding their measure which would change the airline rules for service dogs. They think it's fair to bump us from flights if there's insufficient room for our dogs in the cabin, or force us to put them in cargo, or force us to pay for another seat. If you need a dog to help you move, having him/her in cargo is no help. Bumping us from flights? We have connections to make also. Forcing us to pay for two seats? Dr. Eames touched on this, mentioning that 70% of us disabled folk are unemployed. Does the DOT think our Social Security checks are ample to pay for extra seats? And what of psychiatric and other invisible disabilities? If we don't hobble or wheel around are we less disabled?
Thank you, Dr. Eames, for bringing this isuue to the public's attention. We're sick and tired of being treated like second-class citizens. Is Dr. Eames less intelligent or capable or learned because he's blind? Of course not. And neither am I.

Christina Wheldon <calebhunts@yahoo.com>
Espanola, NM USA
EDITOR'S NOTE: Read Comment now on proposed Air Carrier Access Act regulations
- Thursday, February 10, 2005 at 11:06:17 (EST)
Re: your review of Murderball:

I have known the reviewer well since childhood and we lived in the same city (Chicago) when he was injured in the 1970s. I now live in the small town we both grew up in, a town much too small and parochial to ever screen Murderball. So without benefit for now of actually seeing the film, I have a much better idea of what it's supposed to portray. The movie, as outlined by Hooper, seems to resemble the psyche of the reviewer. Early despair turned positive, at least for Ed. He's again a great friend to have around. The circumstances that sent him to the chair need not be a terminal sentence, he has shown. Now that Ed has convinced me to get the movie, I will count the days until it's on video.

Greg Stanmar <gregstanmar@insightbb.com>
Peru, IL
- Wednesday, February 09, 2005 at 15:35:28 (EST)
Re: We Need to Talk!
I agree almost fully with the comments about the need for a disability community in 'We Need To Talk'. I wish to add that those with chemical injury are part of such a community, and a much larger one than most are aware of. Latest estimates are that about 3% of the population have MCS (multiple chemical sensitivity) to the degree that it causes them to be unemployable. Like others with more obvious disabilities, those with MCS have serious troubles finding safe housing (to say nothing of a safe city street or public building). And of course they are often also beset by the psychological difficulties that any serious disability brings in a society that does not understand or support those with such conditions. I make these comments in case the author of 'We Need To Talk', or those reading it, are also unaware that these 'Invisible Cripples' are also members of the disability community. For a description of what life is like with MCS:
steven rowat
roberts creek, BC Canada
- Tuesday, January 25, 2005 at 20:00:38 (EST)
Re: "Hey, Phil, How's Discrimination Workin' For You?"

i read this article and i wonder how discrimination is working for him. i turn the channel everytime i see his face. i have no desire to hear his words. even my children have recognized untruths to his advice when we were watching him. what made me decide to finally turn him off completely was the day he was doing a program and had a couple on the show with a child that they were questioning his outrageous behaviors. "dr" phil then made some untrue statements regarding mental illness. i was very upset. i have two children in my home that deal with mental illness issues and what he said that day was absolutely ignorant! those of us that must deal with the world of mental illness work hard to educate people correctly and stop the judgement of those we love. we do not need a tv personality that millions watch spreading untruths! this man infuriates me.
annie <sw44magannie@yahoo.com>
mt u.s.a.
- Saturday, January 22, 2005 at 16:18:59 (EST)
Re After the Waves:

The Pacific Ocean Tsunami Warning System works well when tsunami are
trigged by earthquakes accross the ocean (4-12 hours away). But with
tsunami triggered by local earthquakes (which generally precede volcanic
eruptions) waves can hit the shores in under 3 minutes. Hundreds have
died from tsunamis in Hawaii.

The rule here is : if you're at the shore
and feel an earthquake, move to higher ground FAST. Unless the Pacific
Ocean Tsunami Warning System is upgraded for immediate warning (in under
10 seconds) millions of people in Alaska, Hawaii, and the west coast
are at risk.
Susan Golden
Kailua Kona, HI
- Friday, January 21, 2005 at 06:52:16 (EST)
I was wondering if you could muster up more articles about issues that people with mental illness face. Mental Illness is considered a "disability" isn't it, even though it is not so physical or sensory in nature ?
Barb Seegert <bseegert@mac.com>
Wausau, WI United States
- Friday, January 21, 2005 at 01:07:01 (EST)
Mary Johnson refers to MYSTIC RIVER in her 1/11/05 article [ Killing us Kindly ] , specifically Eastwood's depiction of the killer as being mute and using sign language to communicate. This character is described that way in Dennis LeHane's book, which the movie is based upon. The young man in question was not really mute, he chose to not speak and only pretended to be mute, both in novel and film. As many sins as we can lay at Eastwood's door, this was not really one of them.

One would hope that the message of a movie like THE BONE COLLECTOR would resonate more, in which a quadreplegic is convinced to not commit suicide because he finds utility in his life. This was a major motion picture, not a Lifetime special shown once and forgotten. It pops up on cable frequently. Warts in all, it contains a positive message and one that Hollywood should heed.
Mark Orr <otrfan@comcast.net>
Smyrna, TN USA
- Friday, January 14, 2005 at 11:46:45 (EST)
Re: The Wrong Message -- Still

We very much appreciate these excellent comments, as well as the outstanding alternative activities presented here. We intend to take these ideas to heart and remove the simulation activities discussed when we reprint the Awareness Activities Booklet. Our intent has always been to create Disability Awareness Month activities and materials that educate and create positive attitudes about people with disabilities, promoting the concept of people with disabilities being included as valued members of their communities.

Please contact us at the Council if you have suggestions for additional awareness-building activities that you would be willing to share.

Indiana Governor s Council for People with Disabilities

Suellen Jackson-Boner, Executive Director <GPCPD@gpcpd.org>
Indianapolis, IN
- Tuesday, January 11, 2005 at 09:54:19 (EST)
Re: 'As unpleasant as possible to ride' (paratransit in Louisville):
You know, I cannot believe people still discuss para-transit like a service which might someday work. IT CAN'T! I worked at an independent living center Salt Lake for over ten years as Transportation Coordinator, We worked with ADAPT in the old days 1984,85,86 etc when a lot of this stuff was taking place. We said then, para-transit would never work, and sure enough it never has. We keep tolerating it like we believe it will.

I now work for the state here in Utah. I run an Information and Referral line here in the state for people with disabilities. I keep hear the same old issues: "...but I need to go to the doctor's today..." "I see people walking on the but they won't let me ride and I use a wheelchair"; "I WAS TRAPPED ON THE BUS FOR THREE HOURS FOR A 20 MINUTE TRIP!!"

I believed then and I believe now that para-transit is wrong and will never work. Every vehicle must be accessible. Thank God, all buses ordered are accessible--now we just have to make sure the drivers use the lifts etc.

Lifts on the buses, all the buses, was all we ever wanted, we fell into the trap when we accepted para-transit...change is so hard.

Mark Smith
Mark Smith
Salt Lake City, Ut
- Friday, January 07, 2005 at 13:30:07 (EST)
Re: "No Rest for the Disabled Travelers":
I use a manual wheelchair and the lack of accessibility in interstate rest areas is mind-boggling. Here we are, 14 years after the signing of the ADA and we still have to fight to receive the most basic accommodation.

I live in Florida and travel back to my home state of Iowa several times a year. Alabama rest areas along I-65 have the most crude restrooms of any I have seen. I wrote a letter in April of 2004, to Joseph McInnes, Director of the Alabama DOT, expressing my frustration in the small inaccessible stalls. He did write me back to say that he hoped to have the problem corrected within the near future.

In September I went back to Iowa and nothing has been done. Again, I have to squeeze into the small space while bruising my legs. Not only are the stalls too small but they are usually the stalls that are out of order and have broken locks. It's not like those who can use another stall, we ususally only have one option. And they wonder why we file lawsuits. Is there any other way to get their attention?

Becky Cadwell <bgcadwell@hotmail.com>
Panama City, FL USA

- Thursday, January 06, 2005 at 11:51:39 (EST)
Re: Roll Models and the Roiling of Normalcy:

I found the article to be very insightful, informative, interesting and humorous. It made me think about how I deal with my own disability. I like the idea"what comes around goes around" but I am NOT saying this to offend the writer.
Jenny <Jcblack80@yahoo.com>
OH United States
- Wednesday, January 05, 2005 at 22:33:28 (EST)
There is a wealth of wisdom and know how locked up in the aged in nursing homes.

The public libraries have lots of machines. Why don't the nursing homes? There is a 24/7 need.
gwenith upton
casper, wy usa
- Monday, December 27, 2004 at 18:38:14 (EST)
Fantastic. As a disabled person ( with a college degree ) who has been in 2 ( !) I support you 1000%

I'll commit suicide rather than go into one again.
Niels Pemberton
Reston, Va USA
- Thursday, December 23, 2004 at 21:01:38 (EST)
Re: Stories of Accommodation::

Well, as for accomodations, ADA, or the like ...I'm real close to laundry room! The door is hinged and hard to open and close! I'm a wheelchair user half paralyzed. Plus it has a ramp newly put also. I requested stating I'm unable to access door to open it or getting in with ease! Owner states ADA approved it and Owner saying reason to keep bugs out!! That I do not believe. I tried get help since I have vocal impairment at no avail recieved proper help. Well the apt manager I call to support door open so I can wheel in their with laundry basket on my lap. Getting out I dread cuz' I have go backwards. That don't seem phase anyone. I never look forward to calling in order do my laundry. I try much as possible do stuff independently. I use to go do laundry but its hardship hassle, but I gotta do it!
Lauren Harrington <LHarri6837@aol.com>
Cantonment, FL USA

- Tuesday, December 21, 2004 at 22:34:26 (EST)
The article 'This Precious Cause' Medical Marijuana and Disability Rights was a balanced and well researched article considering the limited data that is available out there on the medical uses of marijuana. I d like to see research with double-bind tests and placebos before formulating an opinion on whether or not marijuana should be legalized for medical purposes.
When we speak of "disability rights" I'm sure we would agree that we are not asking for "liberties" that the non-disabled do not have, such as "the right to die". What we want is an equal playing field -- and many times medication is the tool that levels the playing field. On the other hand, we, as a community, can no longer afford to play-down or ignore the fact that 50%+ of our community has a serious drug and/or alcohol addiction. That is 3 or 4 times higher than the general population. I believe, and have proven to myself, as well as, some doctors, that alcohol drastically reduces my spasms and increases my mobility and decreases my pain. In my perception, this is absolutely true. My able-bodied, alcoholic father says that alcohol does the same for him. Other CP s claim marijuana helps them in the same way that alcohol helps me, but marijuana does nothing for me. So maybe it s really the matter of drug of choice . I could go to any doctor, and because I shake, rattle and drool, get just about any drug I wanted (including a lethal dose), so doctors are not reliable at assisting us in bettering our lives either out of ignorance or they just don t care.
I believe that marijuana does help some people with certain types of disabilities, I just do not want to ignore the fact that our community does have a high incidence of addiction and whether we speak about legal or illegal substances that may help us, we also need to speak of our propensity towards addiction and how that may or may not play into the discussion.

Renee Wood <Babydoe8@aol.com>
Toledo , Ohio USA
- Thursday, December 02, 2004 at 15:16:07 (EST)
I do not feel that marijuana is a "Disability Rights" issue. With that said, I followed your link to NORML in your article and I entered the word "Cerebral" in the search box on that page. It came up with two articles from 1996 about a "Medical Marijuana Activist" with Cerebral Palsy named "Darrel Paulsen":


It includes his Felony court case from 1996 I believe. It also includes a postal address to contact him at that time in St. Paul, MN to help toward his legal fees. I "Googled" him and came up with a couple more links:

Articles from around 2000:

Article from this year:

So with just about 60 seconds of searching I found an "Activist" with ties to NORML who has CP and is very active with the marijuana issue. So perhaps if Cal Montgomery or someone else wants to continue looking for the "Disabled Activist" point of view from someone who seems to feel that there are valid "disability rights" issues for ilicit drugs.

If it is indeed Darrel Paulsen that Cal Montgomery was trying to get in contact with via NORML, hopefully this information will help. It will give the "Gimp Pothead" point of view to help "balance" the issue.

Again, I am not a person who advocates for any illegal drugs. In fact, I feel that the penalties should be harder and people with disabilities who are convicted of such laws should not get a "Slap on the wrists" because they are disabled, for their convictions.

If valid research occurs, and an unbiased MEDICAL opinon can come out of it (not something that is just to support NORML and other drug positve organizations)... then perhaps I might be willing to change my point of view. But someone taking illegal narcotics, to get high and to also claim some medical reason to "excuse' it... just seems like a joke to me. Look at the last link, where Mr. Paulsen is out being an "activist" by "lighting up" on the street in Washington D.C., and it shows that this 30something person may not just be using it for his CP. Obviously his behavior shows that perhaps he has "inhaled" much too much. I think that the government fears paying for PCA services for Mr. Paulsen in prison, so he keeps getting a "Get Out Of Jail Free" card. So he just continues to flaunt the law, and have his "recreational drug" wherever he pleases. Oh well, guess that is a benefit of being a "Pothead" in a power chair.

John Benjamin Tatum

Mansfield, Ohio

- Wednesday, December 01, 2004 at 18:33:30 (EST)
Re The Wrong Message:
Though I can totally understand where you are coming from in this article I do have to say that I disagree to an extent. I am a senior in college and ran across this article while working on a project to make a disability awareness activities. At my college we do not do these activities in order to feel sorry for those with disabilities. We do these activities because I am an education major and as a teacher I need to understand how to effectivly accomidate for all kinds of disabilities. As a part of our project we are alowing the other students to feel the frustration of having a disability, but we are also providing accomidations and modifications (which when we become teachers, will be required by by law). The goal of this project is not to make us, nondiablied, students feel sorry for those that do have disabilities but for us to be able to understand (even a little bit) the frustrations that can come from a disability if not properly accomidated for by the teacher.
Olathe, KS USA
- Monday, November 29, 2004 at 20:15:04 (EST)
Re: 'no handicapped in heaven':
people who believe in an afterlife believe that the consciousness of the deceased lives on in some form. since the physical body is obviously no longer functioning, it follows that the limitations of that body are no longer in effect for the consciousness of that being. when someone says something like: 'there are no disabled people in heaven' all he or she means is a rephrasing of the question: 'if you
could choose to not be disabled at all, would you so choose?
for myself, i would certainly say yes to that question. and i would do so even if ALL concievable aspects of the Social Model Of Disability were fully manifested in the real world.
randy <douglasrandolph@aol.com>
clearwater, fl pinellas
- Monday, November 29, 2004 at 06:11:49 (EST)
Re: Accessible Communication is Freedom of Speech:
I think the article is very on point except for one jarring quote: "No one is even bothering to help tell these people about this technology, though."

You are. I am. Lots of us are.

Didn't used to. Do now.


William Loughborough <love26@gorge.net>
Goldendale, WA U.S.A.
- Sunday, November 21, 2004 at 17:27:26 (EST)
Re: Another Civil Right Now Limited:
I've encountered this before... why do I need a service dog, when I can do everything that my dog does for me. *sigh* And if you are blind, your attitude is more likely to be, "Service Dogs don't need to be with you in public, because you can see, and don't need any help." That was the attitude of a blind person who was "helping" to rewrite Washington State's "White Cane law", to include service dogs, and move it to the basic civil rights law.
Dana Marshall <ot-adogs@danawheels.net>
Sumner, WA USA
- Sunday, November 21, 2004 at 17:18:33 (EST)
Re: Another Civil Right Now Limited:
The Costco case in Washington was a loss for all of us with service animals. But did you know that Costco doesn't follow the policy at all times? I have walked into the SAME Costco that was sued with my service dog undressed (not visually identified as a service dog), and not been challenged at all. It's true I use crutches to walk, that I DON'T have an invisible disability, but Costco CHOOSES who to ask the question of. This is alarming, as it shows that Costco discriminates against anyone who doesn't LOOK disabled, while it doesn't for those that do. And Costco doesn't just do this at one location, it does it at a lot of them. Had I been asked (and I was), I would have sued Costco for their ADAAG violations, and added the service dog stuff to the suit. But my recommendations were ignored by the lawyer, and now we all have to deal with it. In talking to Costco's lawyer, I was told that this decision is accepted by the DOJ for enforcement all over the USA, but if you call the DOJ, they will say they are "undecided". Costco wants to decision to be binding all over the US for all businesses, but it's not YET. Just in WA, and I live in WA. Damn.

Dana Marshall <ot-adogs@danawheels.net>
Sumner, WA
- Sunday, November 21, 2004 at 17:14:27 (EST)
Re: article on institutions:
Hello, I just wanted to comment on your article on the incarceration of the mentally retarded and mentally ill. I myself work at a Massachusetts DMR (state) institution, and you're accurate on many respects about how people were commonly taken from their homes and brought to places like the Fernald School. Parents also were barraged by their physicians when a child with mental retardation was born, being told such things as you'll never be able to take care of this child, there are people here from the state that can help you...Just let them take your child, and parents, being told this by their doctors did this, many times with heavy hearts about not only feeling obligated to give their child away, but also that they, according to the doctors, couldn't do it on their own.

The social stigma of having a child with mental retardation was also a heavy factor for many parents because that somehow at that time, and many still ignorantly believe today, was a sign that the parents had "defective" genes in them and had passed them on. Nothing could be further from the truth, but at that time less attention was paid to simply accepting and loving someone with mental retardation, and segregation was instead the order of the day. Fernald was simply one of the many institutions where children and even adults were brought to be taken out of the watchful and extremely critical eye of society, my institution was another, but now I just feel that people should know that the focus has in many ways reverted back to the earliest intentions of these places, which was the belief that "we need to help them and make a place that's theirs", and that's definitely happened. People think of insitutions and hospitals for the mentally ill and retarded and think that they are automatically torturous places that are miserable to be in, but speaking about centers for the mentally retarded, I can say that in my experience that nothing could be further from the truth. Where I work at least, the place is their house, the staff are their friends, and we're there for them, and the staff for the most part, the ones who are there for the right reasons, love the residents like they're our own family.

My spin on the place that I work at is that when they're there they're on their turf, nobody there is gonna stare at them and gawk, nobody is gonna point, nobody is gonna make ignorant comments about them because they may do things differently than the majority of society. This is both a positive and a negative however. We can't protect them from these aspects of life forever, and eventually they will have to establish a place in society, with our help, where they aren't looked at differently than other citizens, and we've already started doing that by involving our activities with the community.

The point of my response was to just draw some attention to the great things that are being accomplished by people that serve and are served by institutions and that it's not all negative. Mistakes were made in the past, but many of them have been learned from and thus corrected, and that today's institution for the mentally retarded are not what they once were.
Robby B
MA United States

- Saturday, November 20, 2004 at 10:33:21 (EST)
Re: Stories of Accommodation::

Dr. Frank's research on ADA accommodation is much needed and very welcome.
Sherril Johnson

- Wednesday, November 17, 2004 at 18:02:18 (EST)
Re: the Smithsonian Shuttle Incident:

It appears the Smithsonian isn't doing too well about access. We went to the Air and Space Museum a few years ago and decided to go to the IMAX movie. I asked at the castle information desk if the movie was open captioned. I was told it was. I asked at the information desk at the Air and Space museum if the movie was open captioned. I was told it was. When we bought tickets, my husband asked if the movie was captioned. The ticket taker said it was. We climbed to our seats and the movie started. It was not captioned. I went back to the information counter at the Air and Space museum to complain. The man there said I should have asked the usher for a device--he didn't know what it was called. I said, "Rear Window Captioning Device?" That was it. No one had mentioned it to me. Twice I had asked if the movie was open captioned which means that the captioning would be there for everyone to see. But it was closed captioned, and no one told me to ask for the Rear Window device, which is a clutzy screen. I wrote out a complaint, including all contact information. No one ever contacted me. The son is right. No one cares.
Jan Christensen
Arlington, TX USA

- Tuesday, November 09, 2004 at 23:33:19 (EST)

Re: Wheelchair "scooter" users nationwide press case for sidewalks, safer highways:

I hope on one hand that scooter drivers/riders can succeed with sidewalkless area protests and court decisions. I also hope that allies in the fray are sought.

The blind, the afolks who need walking for excercise, and the merchants and service providers in the area would form a force to be reckoned with.

The numbers of advocates for children are strong, too! Children can't drive, don't they need sidewalks as well?

I'm a pedestrian many places where I'm told "Its not safe for you to..." but I have no choice. As a blind member of a rural community their are busy roads with little room provided for pedestrians---or bicyclists, for that matter! Our neighboring town of Augusta is not including sidewalks in newly developing areas of town, Walmart and its connected shopping areas, the university close by, and the Civic Center have almost no sidewalks from the main arteriol nearby because the main arteriol, (not a limited access highway) has no sidewalks either. The constituency that needs 'em doesn't get heard, its the drivers that rule...

How about suggesting that the Regional Transportation Advisory Councils in each state hold their meetings in an accessible pedestrian friendly place?

People with disabilities must get on any transportation advisory panels---and then have a big constituency of collaborators.

Anyone in Maine want to help?
Steve Hoad <mainefun40@hotmail.com>
Windsor, ME

- Sunday, November 07, 2004 at 13:51:42 (EST)
Re: Wheelchair "scooter" users nationwide press case for sidewalks, safer highways :

Great article, this is an issue that needs more attention. As a motorized wheel chair user of 2 years I have had my problems as well. While I find it wonderful that Medicare is willing to help us get these marvelous chairs there is no attention to how we will be able to use them outside our homes.

For the past 2 years the only place I could take mine is to the local Kingdom Hall (church) and back and even though it is just a short way there are problems like those lovely considerate people that park alongside the sidewalk ramps making them unuseable and then you have to turn around and go back to the last one and then use the street. Then when I get to the Hall a kindly Elder tells me to be carefull as I could get hurt. I really wanted to ask him if he is so concerned had he ever thought of offering me a ride. But trying to live as a christian it behooves me not to say such things. Bad enough that I think them.

Then there is the house that I must pass that has two big barking lunging rotweilers and while I am a dog lover these pups could well get over that fence and I would be the next meal. And to make the trip more exciting there is a huge bump where the pavement on one block in the sidewalk is 2 inches higher than the one you are on then you get this big bump at the end and say to yourself oh well I didn't need that kidney anyway. Then you smile and go on. But I have to say my county is improving things I can now get to a nearby shopping center but not the ones that have the stores that have the good sales but it is a start right? I would though warn the ladies that use the chairs if they wear long dresses with them to be careful to tuck the dress around their legs twice when going up steep ramps my dress fell back and got wrapped up in the wheel and both times ripped the dress almost off of me before I thought to take my hand off the stick :-) It sure would be nice if Medicare gave us a wheel chair van to go with the chairs so that we could go where we need to go with the chairs. !

I go three times a year to Crownsville Md. about 70 miles a year for special religeous meetings and the place is relativly large and I could really use the chair there but lo and behold I have no way to get it there. Then there is the big three day district religeous convention in Richmond again the chair would really be a big help but again I have no way to get it there. Then we do have the metro access which is curb to curb but it costs $2.50 each way which is way less expensive than a cab but when your disability check is less than $600.00 that is a lot of money and makes you consider not useing it often. But I guess one has to be gratefull for what we have in our situation and hope that these programs continue to get better.
Pauline Spaulding
Falls Church, VA

- Sunday, November 07, 2004 at 13:50:47 (EST)
Re: The Smithsonian Shuttle Incident :

Whether the author should have climbed up the steps of the bus is a toss up. Whatever, I don't think he should keep worrying about it. Having become recently wheelchair bound I am finding allthe hassles and challenges. I was walking impaired for many years before I was in a wheelchair.

Institutions are smug in thinking if on the surface they provide "accommodations for the disabled" they have done what they need to do. I believe that more disability friendly things will come as we not neccasarily fight all the time but put continual pressure on law makers and companies. I think the focus should be not out of pity but out of good economic sense in the work world and out of profit in the corporate world. Disabled people travel with other people and they will stay at the best place for the disabled family member.

I believe as children with disabilities are mainstramed more and more disabled people will not be unusual. "normal" children will not have the fear that comes with lack of contact with disabled people. Contact will allow children to see that disabled children are really just like them.

I approached a wayside rest stop in rural Louissiana one day. There was a huge group of young girls waiting to use the restroom. I was in horrible pain just able to hoof it to the door in pain. I was not going to fight with the children, I would wait my turn. A young girl of about 10 hollered to me "Lady with the cane you need to come to the beginning of the line" It was not an embarrasment to me. She did it quite casually. I suspect that someone close to her has a disability. She understood the issue quite well. Too bad most adults don't have that spirit.

There will always be a line between aggression and assertion when it comes to disability rights. I surely do not always have a clear cut idea of what is best all of the time. I try to do what I think is best in the circumstance that I find myself in a given time.

Jane Vaughan
Tampa, FL

- Sunday, November 07, 2004 at 13:48:31 (EST)
Re: The Wrong Message -- Still:

The activity itself is not the problem but rather the method in which it is delivered. At one end of the spectrum, YES, disability simulation exercises can be grossly misdone and communicate the wrong message about people with disabilities. Society does not need anymore dog and pony shows.

To completely cease such an activity is unfortunately overly reactive and contentious. Hostility and defensiveness will be the natural reaction to the author's POV, much like the school psychologist's. The feelings and situations accounted by the author are observable as a natural reaction to disability and a normal part of the adjustment process. This is what should be harnessed/taught along with the opportunity to talk about reasonable accomodations and exploring our prejudices to find the notion of acceptance and independance somewhere on the pity-supercrip continuum: Empathy not Sympathy
Derek Reed
Dayton, OH
- Sunday, November 07, 2004 at 16:07:48 (EST)
Re: The Wrong Message -- Still:

I am a legislative advocate for individuals with disabilities. I have been working on disability issues for about six years now starting with work as a substitute teacher in exeptional education programs. I worked the last two years at a day rehabilitation center for people with developmental disabilities. Now I work at Independence First an Independent Living Center in Wisconsin.

I just wanted to say that I found this article on disability simulation very enlightenting. I took a social work course in college in which we were asked to simulate a disability and write a paper about it. Even then, before I had worked at all with the individuals I do now, I had one friend who used a wheelchair and something about the assignment did not feel right to me. I didn't do it. I simulated disability simulation and wrote a paper as if I'd done it.

I have had hearing issues since I was small so I wrote my paper on deafness, knowing that I have the possibility of experiencing deafness someday. Your article really made me think and though I didn't like the assignment and didn't really participate. I didn't think too much of it until now.
Alie Kriofske Mainella
Milwaukee, WI
- Sunday, November 07, 2004 at 16:03:11 (EST)
Re: The Wrong Message -- Still:

I agree with most points in the article that hosting these simulations can sometimes lead to spreading the wrong message however, I have had a different experience...

Some of my colleagues participated in such an event and after having to go through piles of barricades with a manual wheelchair many commented that they would be more vigilant in assisting with snow removal outside of our work building area.

I have become very frustrated with the lack of understanding and common sense solutions that would help eliminate barriers I encounter everyday. Sometimes folks just don't seem to "get it" until they have an experience of navigating a wheelchair in a simulation type situation.

I am torn after having read this article as I see a small value in the simulations and I also agree that for some people (with very closed minds) they tend to gather the wrong ideas and formulate the wrong message of what the simulation is trying to do which is to educate and invoke action on all of society to make universal design more available (and affordable).

Thanks for these ideas shared in the article.

- Sunday, November 07, 2004 at 13:40:19 (EST)
Re: The Wrong Message -- Still:

I did a disability simulation in 1987 that I believed was successful. I was an 8th grade homeroom teacher, and after getting parental permission, I had two adult volunteers bandage kids' nondominant thumbs to the palm of the hand and then insert the hand into close-fitting stretchy thumbless mittens I had made. I had hypothesized that this was about the correct degree of disability to give them an idea. They were to wear the mittens as long as they felt they wanted to, up to a full day of school (it was a day on which they changed for PE). Most did the whole day. Some experienced cramping. All experienced frustration and some considerable anger. Most finished the day and had the feeling that it had been much harder than they'd expected but they had figured it out. Most ended with a feeling of pride at having managed and showed off their hands like badges of honor.

I did the simulation because I was sick of their being in awe of me (I'm a quad) and wanted to show them they could live with a disability too, and grow to feel it was no big deal.

Soon after, I felt that I had probably made it too easy. But I came to feel that this was more what I wanted than making it too hard so they would end up feeling pity (a feeling I don't think they'd ever experienced towards me).

The fact that I've never done it since (I'm still teaching) probably shows that I must have done it for me rather than for the students.
Mary Eves
Burlington, IA

- Sunday, November 07, 2004 at 13:38:46 (EST)
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