5 Myths Disabled Patients Desperately Want Debunked

As a young woman battling serious illness, with multiple hidden medical devices, I have found there is a high incident rate of unnecessary, and hurtful comments by those assuming I am not sick. This encounter seems to be a reoccurring experience for many patients battling hidden, or invisible disabilities. After contacting a small population of disabled individuals on Instagram, it seems there are five specific stigmas that patients desperately wanted dispelled.

1. Wheelchairs are only for paraplegics. There is a large stigma surrounding wheelchairs and their uses. Many people believe these mobility aids are for patients completely bound to the chair, with an inability to leave it. This is in fact only one use of a wheelchair, and a very narrowed view of its capacity to bring mobility to individuals. Wheelchairs are mobility aids, meaning, anyone needing assistance with mobility can benefit from there use. Whether it be severe fatigue, neuropathy, muscle weakness, joint pain, or a connective tissue disorder making the body unstable, many individuals require the use of mobility aids. These patients might not look ill, and may even be able to walk seemingly normally, however, that doesn’t mean they can walk for long distances, walk without causing extreme pain, or walk without damaging their bodies. These patients may use wheelchairs while out shopping, on a vacation with family, or while attending a long event. On good days you may see these individuals without the aided mobility of their chair but, that doesn’t mean that tomorrow they wont need it.


2. Disabled parking stalls are only for those with mobility aids. This is a myth that causes so many patients already battling emotional trauma due to serious illness unnecessary distress from cruel comments. The majority of patients prescribed handicap parking stalls have an invisible disability, meaning, you cannot see their ailment. The use of a mobility aid such as a wheel chair, walker, or crutches is only one of the criteria that qualifies an individual for these parking stalls.



The Department of Motor Vehicles expresses the qualifications for a placard vary by state but, some of the medical conditions that could cause you to receive a placard are as followed:

“The loss of use of your legs or hands.
The inability to walk two blocks without resting.
Heart, lung, or circulatory disease.
Strokes or epilepsy.
Mental health problems.
Age and other forms of serious illness.”

This list, while unspecific, gives great examples of conditions you would be unable to see, but would cause the individual an inability to park at the back of a crowded lot. Cancer, cystic fibrosis, congestive heart failure, pulmonary fibrosis, COPD, and neuromuscular disease are just a few of the conditions that could be incorporated in this list that may not requirre the aid of a visual device, but absolutely would require that the patient has a closer parking spot. Never judge an individual by only what you can see, they may be hiding more than you know.

3. Service animals are only for the blind, and must wear a vest. As the need for daily assistance has increased due to the high prevalence of serious illness in this country, many individuals have turned to the use of service animals. A service animal is defined under the ADA as, “a dog that has been individual trained to do work, or preform tasks for an individual with a disability.“ Today many patients battling illness benefit from the use of a service dog that can alert them of an impending medical situation. Dogs can be trained to specialize in many different areas such as: diabetic alerts, severe allergy alerts, visual assistance, hearing impaired assistance, mobility assistance, psychiatric assistance, seizure alerts, or medication/injection alerts. Pups will undergo years of training in order to properly alert their owners of these conditions, which in turn creates a better quality of life for the patient. While many owns who possess service animal may look completely normal, they are battling disabilities that require assistance they cannot provide themselves. Please keep in mind that you may not be able to tell this animal is on duty if the individual doesn’t have a visible disability, especially since there is no ADA requirement that states a service animal must wear any form of distinguishing ID. Always use caution before petting an animal as they may be executing a life saving task.

4. Handicap restroom stalls are only for those with mobility aids. This is another myth where patients suffering invisible disabilities take the brunt of hurtful comments directed out of ignorance. Handicap restroom stalls, while made large to accommodate those with mobility aids such as wheelchairs and walkers, are not only for that purpose. These large stalls are also to accommodate patients that need extra room to preform tasks such as draining an colostomy bag of fecal matter, voiding a drainage bag of urine, or even releasing stomach acid by a tube fed patient. These stalls are also used by those that need the aid of a bar rail to access the toilet. Though the patient may look like a healthy individual, they may have a medical device hidden under their clothes, or have a disease that caused deteriorating joints. Please be respectful, and null of judgment when someone exits a handicap stall.

5. If you aren’t obviously ill you do not have a serious disease. If you have read all the way to number five you have more than likely seen a theme throughout this post; invisible disability is misunderstood. Many ailments, conditions, illnesses, and diseases are often well hidden. While that lovely young woman pulling into the handicap parking stall may look like a flourishing, well put together individual, she could be battling for her life with medical devices hidden right under her clothes; a feeding tube, central line, ostomy bag, and catheter are just out of site. That young gentleman with an adorable furry Labrador may look like he is simply taking a walk with mans best friend, but wait another moment and the dog is now visually disturbed, attempting to alert his owner of an oncoming seizure. The middle aged man walking into the handicap restroom stall may have serious muscle weakness from a degenerative illness causing him to need the hand rails to pull himself up off the toilet, and the beautiful college student using a wheelchair may have lung disease and cannot breathe well enough to make it across campus on foot. Never be quick to judge those around you, as they may be fighting a war within their bodies you simply cannot see.

Content provided by The Huffington Post: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/5-myths-disabled-patients-desperately-want-debunked_b_10101390.html

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U.S. Access Board’s New YouTube Channel

U.S. Access Board’s New YouTube Channel

person in wheelchair at elevatorThe U.S. Access Board has launched its own channel on YouTube to further share and disseminate information. It features a message from Executive Director David M. Capozzi on the Board’s mission and the services it provides to the public. Animations on accessibility that the Board has developed as part of its online guide to the ADA and ABA Accessibility Standards are also available on the channel.

“The Board’s new platform on YouTube provides another means of engaging our audience and sharing information,” notes Capozzi. “We look forward to uploading additional content in the future.”

Visitors can subscribe to receive updates on new material that is added to the channel.

Guide Dogs for the Blind event “San Diego Fun Day”

Guide Dog Friends,

Guide Dogs for the Blind

ADA Sign Depot, Inc. has supported Guide Dogs for the Blind with ongoing annual donations since 2013

On Saturday, April 21st the Guide Dogs for the Blind fun event “San Diego Fun Day” will be held at Rucco Park in San Diego.

The park is located at N. Harbor Blvd. and Pacific Highway. The event runs from 9:00 am until 3:00pm. There will be many Guide Dogs there in attendance, as well as many puppy’s in training for you to see. A Fun Day event is for puppies in training to become guide dogs, and their handlers or puppy raisers. There are different stations that test the puppies behavior, obedience, and temperament. Plus it tests the handling skills of their puppy raiser for timing, consistency and praise.

Here is the website for the event. https://sandiegofunday.org/venue

You need not register for the event, unless you have a puppy in training or a career changed dog.

We will be previewing the new Puppy Trailer as well.

Hope you can join in the fun!

Susan Neff
Guide Dogs for the Blind
Regional Major Gifts Officer
sneff@guidedogs.com | 1.415.488.2345
350 Los Ranchitos Road, San Rafael, CA 94903

Saved: The Americans With Disabilities Act—For Now

Sen. Tammy Duckworth Saves the Americans With Disabilities Act—For Now

Apr 3, 2018, 12:19pm Robyn Powell
Full article

HR 620 is an assault on disability rights and completely upends enforcement of the ADA

Senator Tammy Duckworth Aaron P. Bernstein Getty ImagesLast week, Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and 42 of her Democratic Senate colleagues wrote to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) pledging to block a vote on the ADA Education and Reform Act (HR 620). Passed in the U.S. House of Representatives in February, HR 620 would devastate the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) by undermining enforcement provisions that safeguard accessibility in public accommodations.

Forty-three senators committing to oppose a Senate version of HR 620 is enough to filibuster the legislation, making it unlikely that a vote will go to the floor at this time. This, advocates say, warrants a celebration.

As I have explained previously for Rewire.News, HR 620 is an assault on disability rights and completely upends enforcement of the ADA. Since the ADA’s passage nearly 28 years ago, people with disabilities have enjoyed two means for enforcing their rights under the ADA if a business is inaccessible: They can bring a lawsuit in court or file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), which will investigate the alleged accessibility barrier and determine if the business violated the ADA. If the DOJ decides that the business did violate the law, the agency may sue the business on the person’s before or enter into mediation with the complainant and business. Both means of enforcement generally allow for a swift resolution.

However, if HR 620 becomes law, enforcement of the ADA will become burdensome for people with disabilities. This, in turn, will likely lead to less accessibility in public accommodations.

“HR 620 would gut the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by eliminating incentives for businesses of any size, including the largest corporate hotel, restaurant and movie theater chains, to make their facilities accessible to people with disabilities,” Duckworth and her colleagues wrote.

“Instead, businesses would be encouraged to avoid complying with the nearly 30-year-old law until people with disabilities notify them that they are unable to enter their facility. Businesses would be allowed to discriminate for at least 120 days following notification, and they would only need to make ‘substantial progress’ towards accessibility to make their facility ADA-compliant. That would set a dangerous precedent by forcing Americans living with disabilities to personally experience the humiliation of discrimination—and then be required to educate those who violate their civil rights—before having violations of their civil rights remedied,” the letter continued.

Proponents of HR 620 say that changes to the ADA are needed to prevent so-called drive-by lawsuits, where attorneys and people with disabilities use the ADA for their own monetary gain by filing frivolous claims. Yet, as the Democrats noted in their letter, HR 620 will do nothing to stop such cases because “these private actions seeking damages are filed pursuant to specific State laws that unlike title III of the ADA, authorize monetary damages. HR 620 would make no change to those state laws and therefore fails to address lawsuits seeking damages.”

Duckworth has been a staunch opponent of HR 620, writing in an op-ed in the Washington Post in October 2017 that this legislation would make people with disabilities “second-class citizens again.” For Duckworth, a disabled veteran and wheelchair user, accessibility is deeply personal.

The ADA was passed in 1990 with bipartisan support and involved significant compromise between the business and disability communities. In fact, during the drafting of the ADA, people with disabilities gave up the right to seek monetary relief for ADA violations as part of negotiations. The ADA also allows for exceptions if remedying accessibility barriers is too costly for businesses. In addition, businesses can receive tax incentives for making their public accommodation accessible.

“Congress carefully crafted title III of the ADA to make sure private enforcement actions prioritize achieving readily accessible barrier removal and are an affordable avenue for Americans with disabilities to seek relief. The expectation was that businesses would make themselves accessible before people with disabilities showed up at their place of business, rather than waiting until receiving a notice that people with disabilities have been excluded before starting to think about complying with the law,” wrote Duckworth and her colleagues.

Disability rights advocates saw the letter from Duckworth and her colleagues as a victory. “This letter is a huge win in the fight to protect the ADA. We are incredibly grateful to Senator Duckworth for her leadership on this issue, and for authoring a letter that so clearly states how dangerous and misguided bills like H.R. 620 are—and how important the ADA is,” the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) said in a statement.

With commitment from nearly all Democratic senators—except Sens. Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Joe Manchin (D-WV), and Bill Nelson (D-FL)—to oppose HR 620, Duckworth has gained enough votes to filibuster any attempt to bring the bill to the Senate floor.

Although disability rights advocates are celebrating this achievement, they are well aware that they are likely to face more fights in the future. HR 620 is just one of many recent attacks on disability rights by the GOP. Since President Donald Trump took office, people with disabilities have had to continuously fight against threats to nearly every facet of life. Indeed, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights recently began dismissing hundreds of disability-related claims, following new agency guidance that requires the dismissal of cases from those who file a “pattern” of complaints.

“[I]f history has taught us anything, we know the efforts to roll back our rights are not over. Bills like this have been introduced for years, and the business community is unlikely to stop trying to chip away at the ADA,” NCIL stated.

Stephen Hawking Turned His Disability into a Strength

“When you are faced with the possibility of an early death,” he recalled, “it makes you realize that life is worth living and that there are a lot of things you want to do.” – Stephen Hawking

Stephen W. Hawking, the Cambridge University physicist and best-selling author who roamed the cosmos from a wheelchair, pondering the nature of gravity and the origin of the universe and becoming an emblem of human determination and curiosity, died March 14th at his home in Cambridge, England. He was 76.

“Not since Albert Einstein has a scientist so captured the public imagination and endeared himself to tens of millions of people around the world,” Michio Kaku, a professor of theoretical physics at the City University of New York, said in an interview.

Dr. Hawking did that largely through his book “A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes,” published in 1988. It has sold more than 10 million copies and inspired a documentary film by Errol Morris. His own story was the basis of an award-winning 2014 feature film, “The Theory of Everything.”

What is equally amazing is that he had a career at all. As a graduate student in 1963, he learned he had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a neuromuscular wasting disease also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. He was given only a few years to live.

His illness, however, had robbed him of the ability to write down the long chains of equations that are the tools of the cosmologist’s trade. Characteristically, he turned this handicap into a strength, gathering his energies for daring leaps of thought, which, in his later years, he often left for others to codify in proper mathematical language.

He was a man who pushed the limits — in his intellectual life, to be sure, but also in his professional and personal lives. He traveled the globe to scientific meetings, visiting every continent, including Antarctica; wrote best-selling books about his work; married twice; fathered three children; and was not above appearing on “The Simpsons,” “Star Trek: The Next Generation” or “The Big Bang Theory.”

He celebrated his 60th birthday by going up in a hot-air balloon. The same week, he also crashed his electric-powered wheelchair while speeding around a corner in Cambridge, breaking his leg.

In April 2007, a few months after his 65th birthday, he took part in a zero-gravity flight aboard a specially equipped Boeing 727, a padded aircraft that flies a roller-coaster trajectory to produce fleeting periods of weightlessness. It was a prelude to a hoped-for trip to space with Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic company aboard SpaceShipTwo.

Asked why he took such risks, Dr. Hawking said, “I want to show that people need not be limited by physical handicaps as long as they are not disabled in spirit.”

His own spirit left many in awe.

Excerpts provided by the New York Times.

To read the full New York Times article: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/14/obituaries/stephen-hawking-dead.html

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Sensible reform needed to fix nation’s ADA

The Americans with Disabilities Act Education and Reform Act of 2017 is a vital opportunity to advance the mission of the ADA while protecting business owners from costly lawsuits.

Since 1990, the ADA has served an important purpose by expanding access for disabled Americans to public places. Unfortunately, the law has all too often been abused, with serial litigants taking advantage of the law to file lawsuits purely for monetary gain. For instance, one serial litigant here in California has filed 2,000 lawsuits in federal court since 2004.

Every year, thousands of lawsuits are filed in federal invoking, in particular, Title III of the ADA which, as the Justice Department explains, “prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in the activities of places of public accommodations.” Examples of places of public accomodations include businesses, restaurants, movie theaters and doctors’ offices, locations that are generally open to the public.

Under the ADA, people who believe they are being denied access in places of public accomodation due to architectural barriers are allowed to file a lawsuit.

The ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017, or H.R. 620, seeks to make the sensible reform of requiring would-be plaintiffs to first provide written notice to the owner or operator of the business with a description of the barrier, the circumstances in which the barrier prevented access and whether the barrier is permanent or temporary.

Business owners would then have 60 days in which to respond with a plan to address the problem. Failure to respond would then allow the would-be plaintiff to proceed with a lawsuit. Business owners who do respond in time will then have an additional 60 days to correct the issue.

This simple, commonsense fix to encourage compliance without requiring costly litigation strikes a reasonable balance between the interests of disabled individuals and the business community.

In the last couple of years, Arizona, California and Minnesota have enacted laws aimed at reducing “drive-by lawsuits” by allowing a grace period for businesses to address certain ADA violations before being subjected to litigation. It’s time for Congress to do the same.

The bill passed the House of Representatives with bipartisan support last month. For the sake of curbing the abuse of a well-intended law and our court systems, we encourage the Senate to take up the proposal and pass it as soon as possible.

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Justice Department Reaches Settlement with Atlantis Events, Inc., to Resolve ADA Violations


This week the Justice Department reached an agreement under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requiring Atlantis Events, Inc., to provide interpreters or other aids or services to individuals with disabilities who are deaf or hard of hearing and traveling on Atlantis cruises and vacations.

Atlantis sells vacations by buying and then reselling to the public cabins on ships and rooms at resorts. The Department’s investigation found that Atlantis denied effective communication to three individuals who are deaf, and who had planned to take an Atlantis vacation cruise.

The settlement agreement requires Atlantis to adopt ADA accessibility policies, train its employees on the ADA, appoint a corporate ADA compliance officer, and designate an ADA shipboard contact on all cruises to respond to ADA-related issues. Atlantis will pay $10,000 to the United States in civil penalties and $9,000 in damages to the individuals harmed by its denial of interpreters and other aids.

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People interested in finding out more about the ADA or this agreement may call the toll-free ADA Information Line at 1-800-514-0301 or 1-800-514-0383 (TDD), or access the ADA website at https://www.ada.gov.

How Adaptive Clothing Empowers People with Disabilities

How Adaptive Clothing Empowers People with Disabilities
Do you have a favorite T-shirt or pair of jeans that transforms you and makes you feel confident — makes you feel like you? That’s because what you wear can affect your mood, your health and your self-esteem, says fashion designer Mindy Scheier. Inspired by her son, who was born with a degenerative disorder that makes it hard for him to dress himself or wear clothing with buttons or zippers, Scheier set out to make clothing that works for everyone, including the differently abled. Learn more about how she’s made fashion history by producing the world’s first mainstream adaptive clothing line.

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Mindy Scheier · Fashion designer

Mindy Scheier is the founder of the Runway of Dreams Foundation. Prior to launching the nonprofit, Mindy spent over 20 years working in fashion as a key member of the design team for the INC collection and stylist for Saks Fifth Avenue in New York City.


Justice Department Settles with Restaurant that Refused Veteran with Service Dog

Justice Department Settles with Restaurant that Refused Veteran with Service Dog

The Justice Department reached an agreement under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) with the When Pigs Fly BBQ Pit restaurant in Westfield, New York to resolve a complaint under title III of the ADA.

The Department’s investigation found that the restaurant discriminated against a veteran with PTSD when it refused to seat him and his family in the main dining room because he was accompanied by his service dog.

The settlement agreement requires the restaurant to adopt and implement a service dog policy; provide training on the service dog policy to employees and managers; and post the service dog policy at the restaurant and on the restaurant’s website and in its advertising. The When Pigs Fly BBQ Pit cooperated with the Department throughout the investigation.

People interested in finding out more about the ADA or this agreement can call the toll-free ADA Information Line at 1-800-514-0301 or 1-800-514-0383 (TDD), or access the ADA website at https://www.ada.gov.