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Archive for the ‘legal system’ Category

Disabled People: Don’t Vote Absentee Unless You Absolutely Must!

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by Treadmarkz

It’s probably a little late for this but I just read that absentee voting costs the county – at least the county that I am living in – about $10 per ballot, which is about twice as much as each ballot costs the county on Election Day. I don’t know why that is, but I also know that many of the people that are casting absentee votes are giving “disability” for a reason they need to vote early.

Since this election is about ceasing the unnecessary spending in government and getting back to pooling our resources into things that are important, I implore you if you are disabled, please do not vote absentee, unless you really need to, to avoid the crowds, which is completely understandable. And I ask that anyone else who may attempt to fabricate a reason why they need to vote early, to avoid doing so. Show that you really believe in changing the way we do things for the greater good!

Since there isn’t much time until Election Day, please pass this on to anyone you think should read this.

I am Treadmarkz, and again, I approve this message.

Wheelchairs Anonymous

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by Treadmarkz

I went the other day to pick out my new wheelchair, and to fill out the paperwork for the wheelchair dealer to send in to the State of Minnesota so I could get my request approved by Medical Assistance, and two things stuck out, for me.

First thing: I had to get a prescription for my wheelchair. Why? I am clearly disabled and in need of an alternative method of locomotion. My legs won’t cut it. Why do I need proof that I need a chair? Are there people who are abusing wheelchairs? Are people overdosing on wheelchairs? Is there some illegal underground trafficking of wheelchairs that I don’t know about? Well, okay, with this one, if more people lose their social security, and MA and all that, this may happen. But as far as I know, this has not become an issue.

And secondly, when I was filling out the paperwork, I was asked my Social Security # and my MA card’s number, of course, and my address and phone number so they could contact me, of course. But then, out of the blue, Question #5 read, verbatim: “What is your role in society?” I thought “What the bloody hell?” I didn’t know where to start. But I knew what they were getting at. Again they don’t want to be giving away wheelchairs to just any bum off the street! You never know what the hell they’ll do with ’em! So I told them about my job where I am in a hectic office environment where I put on a lot of miles, not to mention the fact that I have a life and occasionally I, imagine this, go places!

But I didn’t need that. It’s National Disabled Employment Awareness Month for cryin’ out loud, and they want to know why I need a functional wheelchair? They don’t ask walkies that question when they buy a pair of shoes, do they? Nope. Just us.

Furious Male Liberal Defends Sarah Palin AND Her Baby

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by Treadmarkz

I am not a fan of Sarah Palin’s political views overall, but ever since her introduction as McCain’s running mate at the RNC, she has been taking a lot of crap because she had her baby son Trig, who has Down Syndrome, at the convention. Because of this, I can no longer remain silent on the issue. A few things are being said in the media about her little guy’s appearance on the National Stage that are really getting me steamed.

1. That having him at the convention was a political stunt to demonstrate how “pro-life” she is. Just because 80% of women who find out their unborn baby has Down Syndrome have an abortion according to this story does not mean that keeping your baby makes you any more of a saint than anyone else. After all, it is your baby we are talking about, not an everyday inconvenience that one chooses how to dispose of. I think Palin had her baby at the convention because he is a part of her family and she was introducing herself, and her family, to the country. Case closed.

2. By making the above into such a big time news story, the media made it seem as though not having an abortion in a similar situation would be noteworthy, somehow. Following through with a pregnancy which you know will result in a child with a disability is not a pro-life thing, it’s not a Christian thing, it’s not a Republican or Conservative thing. It is about love, and we all have that in us somewhere. Even us God damned baby killer pagan liberal Democrats!

3. One doctor went so far as to express concern that Palin’s example will lead other expectant mothers NOT to abort when the expected child is found to have a disability! What the Hell? Look, I have spina bifida, I know what a handful my disability was as a child, but there is always HELP one can gain through doctors (if they know what they are talking about), family members, the community, etcetera. And this is not even an issue of taking away people’s CHOICE. It is an issue of giving a baby with a disadvantage a CHANCE.

This doctor is worried that the mothers of fetuses with Down Syndrome will not be prepared to take care of the child. Well, I doubt very much that my own mother grew up training all her life to have a baby with spina bifida. Mothers who have children with disabilities find ways to cope with the circumstances they are given, and they do so out of love, the greatest power in the world. The greatest human quality. And Sarah Palin is a human being.

All of the negative attitudes toward Palin having this baby will reinforce the misconception that having a child with a disability is beyond the average human being. It encourages abortion of “imperfect” children. I am not going to get into the pro-life/choice argument because it’s a dead end as far as I can see. I am just using my own life experience here. I am pro-chance, my friends. Making her out to be either a saint or simply irresponsible will only serve the point of view that the chance to life should not be given so freely.

And quite frankly these attitudes have me really concerned coming from fellow liberals. Do they realize they are reinforcing every stereotype that conservatives have toward them and hold to be so repugnant? No wonder Barack Obama is losing so many supporters, even though he has absolutely nothing to do with this.

Gang Up For Accessibility

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by Treadmarkz

An organization in my hometown, called Arc Southeastern Minnesota has recently held it’s first annual Wheelchair Accessibility Awareness event. Basically what they did was they got a large number of people in wheelchairs, and their loved ones, to converge upon the city in groups to test the public establishments for accessibility. While putting them to the test, Arc was also driving home a point by having so many people in wheelchairs dropping by these establishments at one time:

Things MUST change!

The usual list of problems were found: those door-opener buttons taking forever to open in the first place in a lot of places, if they even have them. And have you ever pressed the elevator button, and then when it comes and you try to get in, the door closes on you? Yeah, that was another one of the key findings. Other problems discovered where narrow aisles and doorways, accessibility to restaurants and other every day establishments, and of course wheelchair accessible parking at these establishments.

Now its just a wait to see if their experiment made a difference in how the owners of the places they visited choose to run their businesses.

Do they want our business?

If they do they will make the changes necessary. Unfortunately most business owners will do the bare minimum required of them by the Americans with Disabilities Act, and even then they grumble about the cost. Maybe there needs to be a government subsidy for these businesses to make these changes, but I guarantee you the dollars spent by business owners to make the changes will be paid back in full by our dollars spent as their customers. There are more of us than they may imagine. They just don’t see us around much because getting into their buildings may be more trouble than it’s worth.

If you live in a town that you feel needs a little upgrade in accessibility in general, and you have a local disabled advocacy organization, please suggest conducting a similar experiment.

What Would America Be Like For the Disabled Under McCain? Here is a Preview.

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by Treadmarkz,

I saw this video on another person’s blog so I just linked to it because I think it is important to people to see this. Click the link and then play the video that comes onto the screen. I think it is telling of John McCain’s attitude toward the disabled and the issues we face. Listen carefully to what the woman in the video is asking and of course to McCain’s response.

The woman is asking McCain to support a bill giving disabled people more complete freedom of choice when it comes to public housing.

Surely I don’t expect him to say yes to everything he is asked, just so he looks good to as many people as possible, so I respect him for being honest. But he shot down the legislation the woman referred to, and then was not very specific about alternatives. Did not give the issue a lot of time. By “continue to upgrade the Americans with Disabilities Act” I just wonder, for whose benefit will these “upgrades” come?

A Chance to See How the Disabled Other Half Live

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by Treadmarkz

I recently wrote a posting imploring disabled people in Canada to let me know they were there and that they were reading “Treadmarkz”. This led me to look at the rest of the map and realize that my readership in Russia is almost zippo. I was doing some research to see what topics I could tackle to try to reach out to my Russian disabled friends. That led me to a great blog that really sums up everything that I’d been attempting to do with the Canada posting and the planned Russia posting. It is all about what its like to be disabled…outside of America.

I added it to my blog roll and I’d like to direct your attention to it. It is called “Outside America.” Give it a look. For those of you who are in the States, it will be eye-opening I am sure. And I guess for anyone on the planet it may be eye-opening to see how the disabled live in any other country which “Outside America” covers. And it covers a lot of ground, I can see. Check it out, in my blogroll on the right.

A Time Machine with Hand Controls, Episode IV: The ADA Becomes a Law

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by Treadmarkz

The ADA is a complex piece of legislation. I will not try to comment on or cover everything that is in it. But in this episode of “A Time Machine with Hand Controls, you will see the steps that were taken over a period of 25 years which led to the signing of the ADA in 1990.

Because the ADA was just an extension of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which did not cover discrimination based on disability. So really what this means is that from 1964 to 1990, it was illegal to discriminate based on color gender, age, etc, but if you were in a wheelchair or were blind, or an amputee, or had any of a wide range of mental disabilities, you were not covered, you were not protected by the U.S. Government. That is part of why the only disabled people you saw out in public were the homeless Vietnam War veterans in wheelchairs out on the street begging for money. The opportunity to be a full, thriving successful member of society was extremely limited.

In 1973 things got better with the Rehabilitation Act, but even this only pertained to programs conducted by Federal agencies. It did not protect anyone from discrimination in every day life. Jobs, accessibility to buildings where one may conduct every day business, take part in social activities, entertainment, etc.  After the 1973 Rehabilitation Act, the disabled could now get government jobs and receive benefits of government programs, but those programs were limited at the time. Accessibility to public buildings, public transportation, and employment in the public sector was not open to folks with disabilities until 1990.

In 1986, the National Council on Disability demanded that one law be passed protecting the rights of all people with disabilities. But we all know how slow federal government works on these kinds of things. It still took a couple of years. In fact the first draft of the ADA was written in 1988, two years before it passed.

Around this same time, the Civil Rights Act was rewritten to include people living on Federal Funds, i.e., people on Social Security, which did in fact cover a lot of people with disabilities. But not all of them.

The Fair Housing Act also came in 1988, and made discrimination against the disabled in public housing illegal, which in itself led to more accessible apartment buildings. But really it just said that land lords could not decline someone rental based on their disability.

So as you can see, the ADA really came together in a slow, choppy process, in pieces, over time, culminating in 1988 when many things were happening for the disabled at one time and somebody noticed it and said “Hey, why don’t we give these people some Civil Rights” while we are at it?”

Good idea.

Wheelchairin’ in the Bike Lane

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by Treadmarkz

It strikes me as really dumb that it is illegal for people on bicycles to ride on the sidewalk. They are required to ride down on the street in the “bike lane”. Right next to where the traffic is zooming by! Two-ton chunks of metal are hurtling by at 40-60 miles per hour and these people on bikes can’t go on the sidewalk, because why? Because pedestrians might get hurt if they are hit by a bicycle? I think this is the idea behind the law. But hey, I am in a wheelchair and I can speed down the sidewalk pretty darn fast if I choose to. I don’t choose to, being a civilized man. And I think that, like me, a person on a bicycle can probably manage to control his/her speed if he/she sees pedestrians approaching on the sidewalk.
Should I take my wheelchair in the bike lane? Is it technically legal for me to take the sidewalk in my wheelchair? If it is okay, is it only because the wheelchair is my primary means of getting around, and a bicycle is a recreational vehicle? If so, then what if I took one of those hand-cycles out on the sidewalk? It’s a recreational vehicle. But yet, as a disabled person, it would still be my only means of getting around at the time, so they’d have to let me go on the sidewalk right?
Doesn’t make any sense. Are we willing to put some people more at risk than others of being hit by a car? Is this discrimination based on the person’s level of ability? I mean hey, I’m the one in the wheelchair here, I am the one getting special treatment, whose life is not being endangered, so far be it from me to complain, but I am looking out for everyone here.

Accessible Public Transportation Woes

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by Treadmarkz

I have said before that I am in a wheelchair and I am capable of driving but I do not have a license. I have to consider that my own choice. Therefore, I know the options I have if I am unhappy with public accesible transportation. However, I do pay for this service, and as such I feel I have every right to complain when the service is not up to par.
The service I use is a city-funded company. What this means is that the company is going to get funding no matter how they perform. No matter how many people abandon them because of poor service, they will get funding.
Most cities have a mixture of city funded and independent accessible transport companies, and my city is no exception. The problem is that the independent companies can charge a much higher price. True, they will work harder to do right by their clientele, but they will charge up to $50 for a ride (literally). Meanwhile the city-funded companies will hire anyone who can answer a phone to take down reservations, and when they get it wrong and you call in to complain, the answer you recieve is something like “What do you want for a $2 ride?”

Granted, this is about the same price as the regular city bus, so that’s great when they get it right, but if you miss work because of the inadequate employees they hire, it would not matter if it cost 2 cents!

Is this a nationwide problem with handi-transit? I would like to hear other people’s opinions on the problem and how it could be fixed.

A Ghost From Oscars Past

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by Treadmarkz

Last night, I watched the Oscars with my wife. Though there were some good movies nominated, I saw Hillary Swank at one point during the show and it reminded me of 2004, when her film “Million-Dollar Baby” won best picture. I saw that one in the theatre with my wife, and though I don’t really remember my full reaction, I do remember hating the ending.

Let me give you a little background, or skip this paragraph if you’ve seen it. It is about a boxer (Swank) who takes the female ranks by storm, earning a title match. During that match, she is viciously attacked and sustains a broken neck, and is paralyzed from the neck down. The rest of the movie involves her struggle to come to terms with the fact that she is no longer a fully-functional physical being, even though she had made her living with physical activity. When her family comes to take control of her fortune, she realizes that this is the only reason they showed up, so she decides that she has nothing to live for and asks her trainer and close confident (Clint Eastwood) to “end her suffering.” He struggles with this but does fulfill her wish by administering a lethal overdose.
This is very long-story-short, but the film raised a lot of eyebrows in the disabled community in ’04. When we went to see it, I honestly had no idea that this character was going to become disabled. I don’t remember anything about that in the previews. Its often said the movie was marketed as a “Rocky in a sports bra” but with a political agenda.

I am disabled, but I always have been. And as I said in an earlier posting, I can’t begin to imagine what it would feel like to lose those capabilities while you are at your physical peak of youth. And I have heard people say “If I ever became disabled, I’d kill myself.” But I have always had a hard time believing that, if it actually happened, they would still feel the same and kill themselves. I am sure it would cross anyone’s mind, in the situation Swank’s character was in, but Swank’s character seemed optomistic and driven during her boxing days. And it seemed as though she was being shown ways she could make the very best out of the cards she’d been dealt, just before “the end.”

So, first, while admitting that I have not experienced what Swank’s character did, I don’t think this movie reflects reality. I have a friend who was an athlete and stage actress, and a very social person until she was paralyzed from the neck down when she was 16. Since then, she has always been very positive, and she took the “social” part of herself and used it to make the world a better, more hopeful place for people in her situation, by going on a speaking tour about her experience.
Second, does this movie, and the death wish of Swank’s character suggest a low value on life itself? Her limbs didn’t work, and I understand that this would deny a person the freedom they’d enjoyed all their life, but she could still dream, and share her dreams and work with people to make them a reality. She could teach people based on her experiences. And she could still love and be loved (her trainer loved her like a daughter).
In short, I hated this movie.
Just kidding, it presents an argument from one point of view. It’s not mine, but I can appreciate its merits. As a disabled person, though, I hate to see anyone thinking that the loss of limbs is the loss of life, and I don’t like the movie for depicting that attitude so bleakly.