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Posts Tagged ‘ADA

Victory!

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by Treadmarkz

Good news! After a couple of years of asking, borderline complaining, and explaining to my landlords why it would really be helpful to me and beneficial to them to put in a ramp in the front of their office building, I was told today that it fits into their budget to put one in this spring.

I know what you’re thinking, it fits into their budget? Well it is only one step. But it does get complicated to pull myself up that one step. And I told them that having that ramp there would look good to potential renters who are in wheelchairs.

Just to catch new readers up, two years ago I had been told that they might be able to do it but I would have to pay for the materials and labor myself. And then later I was told that corporate told the land lord here that they wouldn’t be able to do it at all. People always ask me “Isn’t that against the Americans with Disabilities Act? Apparently not.

Funny how now that I don’t know how much longer I am going to be living in this apartment, it is finally getting done. But at least it will be there for future residents with disabilities.

The Next Big Questions for the United States of America

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Treadmarkz

One of the biggest, most deeply debated questions in the U.S. has been answered. Will we ever have a Black President? Well, Obama is half Black and half White. So I guess technically “Will we ever have a Black president?” is still the big question. But Obama’s election is considered to be a huge step in the right direction by millions of Americans as well as many millions of well wishers around the world. In many ways this has nothing to do with Obama’s race. The goodwill he is receiving certainly owes much to Obama’s ideas; his policies and his outlook for the future of this country and how it relates to the rest of the world.

But we also must keep in mind that his election has shown the world that the U.S., supposedly so far ahead of the rest of the world, has finally made a concrete statement to the rest of the world about its “open-mindedness.” After all there have been female heads of state all over the world, including many places in the supposedly-backward Middle East, for a long time. Not in the States, though.

In 2012 – or 2016 when Obama is no longer eligible for the Presidency – will it be considered a step backward if a White male is once again elected president? Certainly it will not be a step backward if Obama makes good on his ideas and becomes a well-respected president, and the next president continues where Obama left off.

Is this the crossroads of history when we can start asking not if, but when will there be an Asian U.S. President? When will there be a Hispanic, “Native American” or Middle Eastern, or Jewish or Muslim or Atheist U.S. President, or a president who is a “little person”?

When will we have an openly homosexual President? (see James Buchanan). Certainly the debate over “gay” marriage in the U.S. right now makes this an unlikely atmosphere. But the Civil Rights movement came to a crescendo 40 years ago, and Barack Obama has been elected. Will we see a gay president in 2048?

When will we have an openly disabled U.S. President? (see Franklin D. Roosevelt). The Americans with Disabilities Act empowered millions in 1990. Will we see a president who is blind, or a president who will without reservations appear on television in his wheelchair, or, let’s say, without his prosthetic in the year 2032? John McCain has a minor disability due to a war wound which he spoke openly about when the issue came up about him not using the Internet. And he came close to the White House.

These are just some of the possibilities that the election of Barack Obama has brought closer to being a reality. Now all we have to do is watch how history plays out.

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.

A Time Machine With Hand Controls, Preview of Episode IV

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by Treadmarkz,

Greetings. After our last trip in time to London in 1948, the time machine was running low on plutonium. But we had plenty of gasoline, enough to get us to Russia, a ghastly place in 1948 whether you were disabled or not, but still it was about 100 times safer for a disabled person than Germany had been just 5-10 years earlier.

And thankfully with the Nuclear Age just having dawned, we were able to find some plutonium. So it’s been a while, but it won’t be long before we will be heading to our next space-time destination, Washington D.C., USA, in the year 1990 as we see firsthand the story behind the passing of the ADA into law. It’s more interesting than you may think! Take a trip with me, there and then, in the next episode of “A Time Machine With Hand Controls. Coming Soon!

In the meantime, check out the previous Time Machine With Hand Controls posts, to see where and when we’ve been.

A Time Machine With Hand Controls, Episode II – The Vietnam War

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by Treadmarkz

After the Vietnam War, almost 200,000 people came back home with a variety of debilitating war injuries and disabilities. They were amputees, they were blinded by flying shrapnel, they were deaf from unprotected ears during bombings, they were paraplegic, they were quadriplegic and they were mentally disabled from the stresses and horrors of the war.

But they came home.

With them, came a long list of socioeconomic issues that the country had not been confronted with since the down days of the Depression.

The Disabled American Veterans of the World War, established in 1920 had helped the 200,000 injured and disabled survivors of WWI. Of this number, those that suffered a permanent disability experienced the same troubles, joblessness, homelessness, alcoholism, etc. But many of them ended up in a mental institution or a home for the disabled, because their was no real other way to help them.

But for the vets of the Vietnam War, they came home without much in the way of benefits. Much less than their WWII counterparts received. Much of the social activism of the late 1960s and early 1970s can be attributed to the living conditions of the veterans. The first Vet Centers were not established until 1979. It took that long for veterans of WWII and any remaining disabled survivor of WWI, who were experiencing much of the same trouble that the Vietnam vets were, to get help.

Alcohol and drug use among veterans were rampant. These problems led to homelessness. I think we’ve all seen what has become somewhat of a stereotype, a man in a wheelchair on a street corner with the sign scribbled in permanent black marker on a piece of flattened cardboard box: “Disabled Veteran, Please Help” or something to that effect, with a bucket in his lap for any spare change he may receive from a generous passerby. This started after the Vietnam War. Before that, people in wheelchairs were rarely seen in public.

Terrible as their situation was, it took the story of the disabled from being buried in the back section to a big bold headline on the front page. For it was in the 1970s when legislation began to work its way through that made employment opportunities more accessible to the disabled, leading in part to the ADA, improvements in wheelchair technology and wheelchair athletic associations. It had to be so.

Thousands of the prospective young workforce, a workforce that once made this country thrive, were maimed, and therefore inactive. There had to be a way to get these people back into the world as the productive members of society that we are today. Because the country was in a major recession by the latter part of the seventies. In fact you might say that the many disabled who came back from the Vietnam War, needing employment contributed to the push-button workforce that is so prominent today. The Jetsons called it in 1962! It’s not push-button finger but carpal tunnel syndrome that we of the desk job suffer from in this modern age.

A Time Machine With Hand Controls, Preview of Episode II

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by Treadmarkz,

Sticking with the theme of war from my last posting, it’s time for another adventure with me, the backwards traveler, the ancient four-wheeled rambler as I roll across the space-time continuum to give a little insight as to the living conditions of the disabled throughout history.

Join me, won’t you, as I visit a magical land called “America-After-the-Vietnam-War”.

Stay tuned…

When You Have a Tank-Wheelchair, You Can Pretty Much Do Whatever the Bloody Hell You Want…

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…in fact you could probably go ahead and tell the ADA itself to go get…..lost.

by Treadmarkz

I think that anyone in a wheelchair has had days when they wish they had a chair like this one. Forget wheelchair accessible parking spots, forget worrying about finding a ramp. This chair would pretty much allow the user complete and total freedom, not to mention authority. You’d turn from a worrier to a warrior pretty damn quick, that’s what I’m trying to say.

    The only downside is that with a chair like this, should the U.S. Government decide to reinstate the draft, people in wheelchairs would no longer be ineligible. Take a look at the link above.

PS: In all seriousness, I do have tremendous respect for the ADA and what it has done for those of us with disabilities, and am grateful for those who fought hard for it.

A Time Machine with Hand Controls, Episode I – The Middle Ages

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by Treadmarkz

Announcing a new segment here at treadmarkz.wordpress.com…”A Time Machine with Hand Controls” in which I explore living conditions for the disabled throughout history.

I have written about my thoughts on what my life may have been like had I grown up on a farm and not in a small town, and exploring that possibility has lead me to want to explore another dimension.

Time.

What kid hasn’t wondered what his/her life would be like if they’d been born in another time? My favorite place and time period is Europe in the Middle Ages (between the years 500 roughly, to about 1300-something, when brains became important again in Europe.

I love to read about the Middle Ages. The wars, the struggles for survival, and even the schmaltzy fictitious legends of knights in shining armor. But living in it? First off, without the use of my legs I would have been useless in the Wars for the Holy Sepulchre (the Crusades) unless I was able to come up with a way to hold fast in the saddle while wielding a sword and fighting off “infidels”.

During the Middle Ages in Europe, the law of the land was feudalism, which means you were “allowed” to work the land in exchange for protection from your lord (usually some fat guy who got someone to do all his fighting for him). Incidentally this is where the modern term “landlord” comes from.

There was no place to buy your food unless you wanted to travel miles to the nearest market place. If not, you were to grow and raise and graze your own food. Traversing the land to get to said market would be a chore in and of itself for someone without use of their legs, as their was no Quickie wheelchairs in the Middle Ages. There is record of wheelchairs being used in China in the sixth century but in Europe not until well after the Middle Ages and even then their use was restricted to the Royals. And anyway, a wheelchair certainly would have done little good for a disabled peasant who worked the fields.

Most European-based surnames are rooted in the trade of those in the Middle Ages who were lucky enough to be self-sufficient and not to be dependent on a lord. Tanner, Smith, Shoemaker, and Miller are all examples that come to mind.

But let’s be honest. Technology did not allow the disabled the freedom we enjoy today. There was no ADA protecting the rights of the disabled in the work force. And there was no social security. Most disabled people scraped a living together however they could, and this was hard, as other folk saw them as witches or bad omens, the blind often seen as some kind of oracle with inner vision that the rest of us did not possess. Again, stereotypes can be used to one’s advantage! Much in the same way that the eight-limbed girl from India has been recently doted on as a reincarnated Vishnu. Can you blame them for running with it? I would!

In closing, it has come to my attention that in the Middle Ages, everyone had the middle name of “the” – Alfred the Great, Harold the Bold, Henry the Unready, Philip the Goofy. Whatever. Well, I would be Forrest the Lame, of course. But I digress.

“Music Within” Film Portrays the Cerebral Palsy Experience, Tells the Tale of the Birth of the ADA

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by Treadmarkz

I saw a preview last weekend for a film that came out last year. I’d never heard about it until I saw this preview, but based on the preview I wanted to share some information about it. It is called “Music Within”. Based on a true story, the film is about a deaf man, played by Ron Livingston, and his friend who has cerebral palsy, played by Michael Sheen. The story is about how these two men and a group of friends set about to change people’s perceptions about people with disabilities, and along the way play an important role in the creation of the ADA, and the improvement in hiring practices involving those with disabilities.

Since the preview seemed to focus on the man with cerebral palsy, my first impression was the realization that I am in a wheelchair, with spina bifida, but I know very little about many other disabilities, especially cerebral palsy, and I really wish I did. I try to be empathetic toward those with disabilities which take more from them than mine takes from me. For that matter, I don’t understand what it is like to be deaf either. I suppose we think we can understand that just by covering our ears, but imagine covering your ears 24/7…My point is that I am certain that I don’t understand completely.

Then I found out that Michael Sheen is not disabled, so my second impression was that I wished that his character had been played by an actor who really had cerebral palsy. But then I realized, through some level-headed debate with my wife, that this is what makes Sheen an “actor”. He is acting as a person with cerebral palsy.

I just thought the story would be that much more moving had the character with cerebral palsy been played by someone who knew exactly what it was like to have it. But I trust that Sheen did a sufficient amount of research for the part, as serious actors often do.

I am going to try to get my hands on a copy of “Music Within” so I can understand, and learn more about the ADA. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

New ADA-style Law in Korea Could Warrant 3 Years in Jail for Discriminating Hiring Practices

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by Treadmarkz

Can you imagine an employer going to jail for three years for discriminating against a job applicant based on disability? That appears to be a possibility under the new law in the Republic of Korea. Punishment’s will start being handed down one year from today after a “preparation period”.

The law is supposed to be a step away from affirmative action, to give disabled citizens more dignity, freedom and choice. To me the situation described in the paragraph above doesn’t sound like affirmative action – it sounds like UBER-Affirmative action.

I said ADA-style because that is the intent behind it, to “let (disabled people) live as normal a life as possible with assistance” Many aspects of the new law seem to be quite ADA-like. But as the story in this LINK shows, there are still a few leaps forward to be made, going by ADA-like standards, that is.
Of course the ADA is not the 10 Commandments. It has faults of it’s own, as we all must recognize. Though it has allowed us a tremendous freedom that I am thankful for every day.