Wednesday, September 30, 2009

National Council on Disability releases health care report


NCD #09–588

September 30, 2009

Contact: Mark S. Quigley


National Council on Disability Calls for Health Care Reform for People with Disabilities

WASHINGTON—The National Council on Disability (NCD) today released a report entitled The Current State of Health Care for People with Disabilities, calling for immediate health care reform for people with disabilities.

According to NCD Chairperson John R. Vaughn, “NCD undertook this study in 2007 to focus the nation’s attention on the health care disparities experienced by people with disabilities, and to provide information and recommendations that can help to eliminate health care inequities for people with disabilities.“

The report provides a road map for eliminating the pervasive barriers to health care for people with disabilities, which will improve the quality of life, productivity, and well-being of greater numbers of Americans as the population ages.

Some of the recommendations include:

Congress should amend the Minority Health and Health Disparities Research and Education Act to broaden the definition of “health disparity population” found in 42 U.S.C. § 287c-31(d) to encompass “populations for which there is a significant disparity in the quality, outcomes, cost, or use of health care services or access to or satisfaction with such services as compared to the general population,” as specified in 42 U.S.C. § 299a-1(d).

Congress should establish a technical assistance system through which states, health plans, clinics, hospitals, diagnostic and treatment centers, individual medical practitioners, equipment manufacturers, people with disabilities, and others can easily obtain centralized information on universal standards of care and related practical resources for ensuring full access to culturally competent health care services for people with disabilities.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) must step up monitoring and enforcement of the ADA and Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act for health care facilities and programs. DOJ must focus additional resources on compliance monitoring and investigation of Title III complaints concerning programmatic access violations of the ADA and Section 504 by health care providers.

Congress should ensure that reform of the health care system in the United States responds to the basic needs of people with disabilities by making certain that health care coverage is available and affordable to all people with disabilities without pre-existing condition limitations.

According to NCD Health Care Committee Co-Chair Anne M. Rader, “People with disabilities bear a disproportionate burden of poor health compared with the general population and use preventive services at a lower rate than people who do not have disabilities.”

For many, health care in the United States is not always available or affordable, and gaps in coverage can present insurmountable obstacles to obtaining appropriate care and maintaining good health. Lack of health care provider education and disability cultural awareness and competency also creates significant barriers for people with disabilities when they try to access care.

The root causes of these longstanding health and health care inequities involve multiple, complex factors that are embedded in the historical evolution of the nation’s health care structure, and the parallel research and public health emphasis on disability prevention and cure. One especially serious outcome of this evolutionary process is a highly fragmented health care delivery system, which is unable to reconcile the competing interests of cost containment and patient-centered care, which is an important tool for achieving culturally competent care for people with disabilities.

According to NCD Health Care Committee Co-Chair Victoria Ray Carlson, “Immediate action must be taken where existing research reveals the clear need for such strategies as enhanced health care provider education, greater clinical research, enhanced payment systems, and the removal of policy and procedural barriers and other physical barriers to receiving quality health care services.”

There is no simple solution to the complex and entrenched problems people with disabilities experience when they seek health care. Key elements of any move toward reform must include action by Congress, Federal agencies that have a role in health care, professional medical associations, organizations of medical educators, accreditation organizations, the public health community, and the disability community.

For more information or to receive a copy of the report, please contact NCD’s Mark S. Quigley, at or by telephone at 202-272-2004.

# # #

Mark S. Quigley

Director of External Affairs

National Council on Disability

1331 F Street, NW, Suite 850

Washington, DC 20004


202-272-2022 fax

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Former homeless addict , now a church pastor, advocates for homeless

He talks about the ways faith groups helped him get off the streets and now works toward finding housing and reaching out to those still homeless.

Criminalizing homelessness

When the Safe Cities Initiative began in 2006 in Los Angeles, it targeted behaviors such as sitting on the street,littering, sleeping past 6 a.m. on the streets and jaywalking in an attempt to better Skid Row. Police say their goal is to provide a temptation free area for the homeless addicts who are trying to go straight. In a piece by NPR, however, it says:

According to a study at UCLA, police officers wrote about a thousand tickets a month during the first year of the program. LAPD records indicate that they're writing fewer of them now. Still, even a single ticket would be one too many for Casey Horan. She's the executive director of Lamp, a Skid Row organization that works with the mentally ill.

"They're targeting people who are on the street," she complains. "It's the whole premise of this Safer City Initiative to invest enormous police resources into very, very petty things, which are really a consequence of someone's illness or a consequence of having to survive on the streets."

The article talks about Jason Diamond, a 31 year old former crack addict. He claims that he's received from 10 to 15 tickets for littering, jaywalking and drinking in public. Since he can't afford to pay the fines, warrants are issued which means he can be picked up and processed through the jail system, an experience others are going through as well.

Yesterday homeless activists were at the LA City Council meeting, chanting Shame on You and holding upside down American flags to protect the Safe Cities Initiative. They testified about the effect of the program, saying it "had resulted in the harassment of Skid Row residents and an exodus of homeless residents out of the area."

The NPR article asks: so where have those homeless people gone?

A better question is whether programs like this go to the root of the problem. Do they result in just moving the homeless population to different areas? How about offering treatment options for addiction and housing? How about the high percentage of homeless people who have disabilities?

In the NPR article, the mayor claims that over the past three years since the program started, 796 housing units have been constructed, but most are not completed.

On page 24 of a 2008 report on homelessness, statistics show that two fifths of sheltered homeless adults have disabilities, under the broader definition used by HUD which includes those with substance abuse. (See chart on page 25).

The report notes on page 27 and 28 that the average annual SSI payment is 44 per cent below the poverty level, creating deep poverty among those unable to create a work history. It also notes the greater difficulties with acquiring accessible housing among the disabled population. In 2008 , over 39% of long term stayers in shelters were disabled, the report indicates on page 52.

The rest of the report shows where homelessness is concentrated in the U.S. It should come as no surprise that Florida and California cities are listed, due to their climates. Nor, after reading the statistics, should it come as any surprise that providing housing is a necessary and humane solution if the goal is to do more than shift the homeless population around.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Dignity wheelchair allows in home care

Dignity Medical Devices first product release is a growing line of wheelchairs that allow the occupants of the chair to toilet throughout the day without the need for bodily transfer. via

The Dignity wheelchair was invented by Greg Johnson, whose mom has MS, and realized the issues she was dealing with. The use of the chair frees up caregivers and allows the person to regain independence and privacy. It will reduce falls as well and allow some people to avoid nursing home care.

The video below shows how the product works. The user remains seated, rolls over a regular toilet, pulls a lever which drops the center of the chair seat, adjusts her clothing and toilets. The chair, unlike a commode, allows use of a bathroom toilet directly. The front footrests and the height of the chair have been adjusted for easy clearance.

The website can be found here.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Home swap- disability style

For an extraordinary story about a man whose neighbors allowed him to use their accessible home while he was recovering from injuries, see this article.

Disability Pride and Power

In this video, a woman with paraplegia describes her journey toward empowerment and what disability pride and power mean to her. In a second video, a female amputee talks about how her identity has changed after becoming active toward working for disability rights.

A woman with cerebral palsy talks about being institutionalized at the age of 12 after her parents called the state for help with her care and her eventual journey toward working for disability rights.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

They could be allies

A friend of mine was in the post office in her wheelchair when she overheard a man with a leg cast on telling another friend how he was so glad he was no longer "wheelchair bound". In front of her, as she sat in her wheelchair, he told his friend how he couldn't go out in a wheelchair or do anything. His friend commiserated with him.

Then this morning I see this article by a teacher who was temporarily using a wheelchair. She writes how it kept her "homebound and schoolbound".

Neither person who had the experience of being in a wheelchair got the point: it's the fact that there isn't adequate transportation that's more of an issue than "being in a wheelchair" or, as people keep insisting on saying "wheelchair bound". The latter, considered archaic language by some of us using wheelchairs (who are perfectly aware that we are not 'bound' to our chairs), undermines the perception of a wheelchair as a viable form of mobility, even a preferable one to some who would do better with one but fight it because of such perceptions.

If you ask me, it all comes back to writing off the potential of people with disabilities -not wanting to put resources into affordable transportation and durable medical equipment. Keeping these perceptions alive is part of that equation. It's so ingrained into some folks that they enter into the experience of using a wheelchair and leave it, even for months, without ever questioning those perceptions, without ever asking the why's. Why isn't there available and affordable transportation for a power chair user to go to the movies, out to dinner in many places? Why do they still sell and rent such heavy manual wheelchairs that they can't be pushed and navigated around in the community?

And it's so sad. Because these folks could be allies. Instead- and in many cases unwittingly- they further the misperception that using a wheelchair means being bound.

UPDATE: Here's another one: Disability Changes the view

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Social Security owes "fugitive felons" millions under settlement

After cutting off "fugitive felons" who are neither fugitive nor felons, Social Security now owes millions to those caught up in the error.

According to the Wall Street Journal:

The supposed fugitives include a disabled widow with a previously suspended driver's license, a quadriplegic man in a nursing home and a Nevada grandmother mistaken for a rapist.

At least 200,000 elderly and disabled folks were among those who lost their benefits under the Fugitive Felon program launched in 1996. Under a recent settlement, monies to them will be repaid. Among the errors that led to this were cases of mistaken identity and the use of outstanding warrants for even minor offenses, whether the person was actually fleeing. Even when the warrants were cleared, Social Security went after people for overpayment.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Pennsylvania law to protect vulnerable adults stuck in legislature

Pennsylvania is one of five states lacking a law to protect adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, according to this article. It tells the story of Michael Ferrara, 25, who cannot identify who abused him, but suffered injuries in a February 2008 assault while living in a group home.

Michael's doctor said that the injuries indicated Michael was "subjected to choking and trauma to the head, face and neck".

Because no charges were filed, the person responsible is free to continue to work with vulnerable adults since there is no protection under the law for those between 18 and 59 living in private residences.

Related: An Assessment of the Need for an Adult Protective Services Program (pdf)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Inclusion and hope

Next time you feel like laughing at someone searching with a metal detector, remember Terry Herbert of the UK. He stumbled upon a fortune in Anglo-Saxon gold on a neighbor's farm. Over five days he unearthed what is now declared 1500 pieces of treasure with a 14 year old metal detector. Terry, who is unemployed, admits there are those who have laughed at him over the 18 years he's done this hobby. But he kept hoping to find something.

There's no doubt that Terry's situation is far different from those who seek eternal spiritual treasures, not material ones. But you have to hand it to him for persistence and optimism.

All this reminded me of Paul Tillich's The Right to Hope and his discussion of foolish versus genuine hope. Tillich's discussion about waiting in openness and the pull between despair and hope drew my attention:

There are two kinds of waiting, the passive waiting in laziness and the receiving waiting in openness. He who waits in laziness, passively, prevents the coming of what he is waiting for. He who waits in quiet tension, open for what he may encounter, works for its coming. Such waiting in openness and hope does what no will power can do for our own inner development. The more seriously the great religious men took their own transformation, using their will to achieve it, the more they failed and were thrown into hopelessness about themselves. Desperately they asked, and many of us ask with them, Can we hope at all for such inner renewal? What gives us the right to such hope after all our failures? Again there is only one answer: waiting in inner stillness, with posed tension and openness toward what we can only receive. Such openness is highest activity; it is the driving force which leads us toward the growth of something new in us. And the struggle between hope and despair in our waiting is a symptom that the new has already taken hold of us.

The inner renewal or transformation which cannot be brought about by will alone creates a spiritual tension that leads to resolution only when we realize that it is dependent on a worldview that is more mature, inclusive of everyone. Through our openness to those around us, we find what we seek.

As Tillich notes:

"We do not hope for us alone or for those who share our hope; we hope also for those who had and have no hope, for those whose hopes for this life remain unfulfilled, for those who are disappointed and indifferent, for those who despair of life, and even for those who have hurt or destroyed life. Certainly, if we could only hope each for himself, it would be a poor and foolish hope. Eternity is the ground and aim of every being, for God shall be in all."

.It is not just a distinction between earthly and spiritual treasure that matters.

Those seeking personal salvation separate from others, those who seek a relationship with God apart from all fellow human beings, will miss the mark entirely.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Being strong

I was speaking with a woman (let's call her Ann) who recently acquired a spinal cord injury. Ann was in tears because of some of the changes in her lives she was going through. Her husband is divorcing her and Ann had to move to a small apartment, giving up a large and comfortable home. But those changes weren't what upset her most.

Ann was distraught because a friend told her she wasn't being strong enough. The woman told Ann that she wouldn't be around her until Ann got her act together and 'was herself again'.

I asked Ann if she believed in God.

Ann said she did.

So I told her about this blog post I read a while back that a military mom wrote. And I thought I'd share it on here too.

The writer said it was a good thing that God didn't throw away those of us who are at our weakest and only keep those who are at that moment strong. She wrote:

I've had some weak moments in my life, particularly during this deployment, where I've felt very close to dried up. I'm not bursting out with color, I'm barely making a mark. And yet, God in His incredible way, knows how to infuse me, how to strengthen me, how to bring me back to my original condition that He created me to be.

We all go through difficult times. It's not necessary to label ourselves- or allow others to label us- in hurtful ways if we show some emotion. I explained to Ann that she will find out who her real friends are. True friends find ways to be helpful in concrete ways or offer constructive suggestions rather than casting judgment in one sentence zingers.

And sometimes they just know enough to listen quietly.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

National Council on Disability to Recommend Health Care Changes for People with Disabilities

WASHINGTON—The National Council on Disability (NCD) will release its latest report, The Current State of Health Care for People with Disabilities, on the NCD Website at 10:00 a.m. EDT on September 30, 2009.

The report focuses the nation’s attention on the health care disparities experienced by people with disabilities, and provides information and recommendations that can help to eliminate health care inequities for people with disabilities.

This report provides a road map for eliminating the pervasive barriers to health care for people with disabilities, which will improve the quality of life, productivity, and well-being of greater numbers of Americans as the nation’s population ages.

via list serv

Monday, September 21, 2009

The correlation of learned helpessness and medical equipment design under the medical model

Quickie wheelchairs, which are much lighter than the medical model behomeths commonly available in nursing homes, hospitals and for those unable to afford ultralight wheelchairs, were invented for a wheelchair user years ago. Marilyn Hamilton found that the heavier wheelchairs prevented her from being as independent as she could be, and two friends set out to design a product that would enhance wheelchair users' lives. Marilyn cofounded Quickie wheelchairs to provide them to others.

As I struggle using a medical model heavy manual wheelchair (mind you, this is my secondary chair since I use a power chair most of the time), I can't help but wonder about the correlation between learned helplessness and the design of this - thing they call a wheelchair. It weighs three times as much as the wheelchair I had that broke. Its front wheels seem to curl up like a possum when I try to go over a threshold, like into my own bathroom. The arms on it prevent me from moving laterally at all- there's no way to reach over them with my disability and no way to remove them. The footrests stick out at an angle which means I have to move extremely slowly through hallways, but of course that's not a problem since pushing it is like pushing a spare table around.

Lest you think I'm writing this just to vent, let me point out what this has shown me. I'm less likely to move at all. I've asked my assistant to move things closer and have had to eliminate many of the independent tasks I used to do. I'm leaving things undone that I could have done before. Worse yet, I am worn out by the end of the day even though I'm doing an iota of what I used to do.

So what if a person only has access to these heavy duty wheelchairs? He or she (and those around them) winds up thinking that the limits on that equipment are part of the disability when actually its the wheelchair that's part of the problem. Of course someone would feel limited and learn to ask for more help using a piece of equipment that's heavier and unable to allow independent movement.

Yes,, those of us who have had access to quickie wheelchairs and ultralightweight ones are surely very lucky people. Instead of learning helplessness, we learned what we could do with that equipment.

Thank you , Marilyn.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

60 Minutes feature on the Deka Arm

The Pentagon's attempt to improve prosthetic limbs was featured on 60 minutes this evening: the Deka Arm. It connects to the body using balloons, allowing heavier items to be lifted. Buttons located in one's shoes control the arm. A Vietnam vet was shown grabbing a bottle of Coke and drinking it, as well as handling small nuts and screws with the Deka Arm. Another amputee was shown picking up a single grape without crushing it. Some of the technology used in prosthetic legs, such as the Power Knees, is applied. The Deka Arm is now undergoing clinical testing.

Friday, September 18, 2009

I forgot to check with the cat....

...about the width of the new wheelchair.

Turns out it's not as wide as my old one and Buddy can't curl up and sleep in it. He's too.....fluffy.

I'm having some trouble pushing it but maybe Buddy can get behind and give me a nudge here and there.

[image description: My tuxedo longhair cat Buddy is shown seated in a wheelchair.]

Falling slowly

The trick of falling out of a wheelchair safely is to fall slowly. I learned that in wheelchair tennis.

I played a woman who regularly fell out of her wheelchair, in a kind of tuck and roll stance. She always landed well, bounced back into her wheelchair and continued playing without much of an interruption. I saw wheelchairs turn over, placing people in a position of a turtle with a hardshell on their back. They came up swinging as soon as their chair was turned over.

So I've learned not to be afraid of taking a few falls out of a manual chair. Yesterday, after duct taping the sling on the manual chair, I fell twice out of it. I was able to fall slowly, so I'm not injured, just in a bit of pain. So I had to get into the power chair and stay there without doing any pushing at all. Knowing that will lead to the loss of some of my strength, I ordered the equivalent of a rental wheelchair to give me something to push. It's heavy, but it was inexpensive and at least I can push it a little to try to maintain what I have worked to keep.

Anyhow, here's a song for all those who fall slowly, no matter where, no matter when, no matter how. The important thing is always to keep your eye on the ball.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

This seems appropos this morning....

As the last screw pops out of the sling of my manual titanium wheelchair this morning, this video seemed appropriate. More duct tape is in order.

Since the manual wheelchair isn't my main wheelchair any more (I use it in the house when I can to maintain some muscles for transferring), I can't afford right now to buy myself another ultralightweight one since I'm paying off my power chair. As a retired wheelchair tennis player, I know enough about my body to realize that if I stop pushing totally, it'll affect my ability to transfer, a life changing issue regarding independence. So I've been looking for a year for an affordable and used replacement light enough to push, without any luck. Any but the heavier ones just cost too much, even though wheelchairs are made of bicycle parts in reality. The heavier it is, the more unrealistic I'll be able to push it as a quadriplegic.

But hey I'll keep looking.

And here's to our health care system from The Life of E Patient Dave- We're 37:

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The health care debate in musicals

Scene 1: Claimant asks for coverage he/she paid for (scene from Oliver! Please Sir I want some more)

Scene 2: Deciphering the policy after coverage is denied (My Fair Lady: The Rain in Spain)

scene 3: Appealing the insurance denial (Les Mis: I dreamed a dream)

Scene 4: Second denial of coverage (On the Town: Lonely Town)

scene 5: Trying to change the system (Man of La Mancha: The Impossible Dream)

Monday, September 14, 2009

A prayer for those who feel burdened

May those who are seen as burdens know that the love of an all knowing, all seeing God will sustain them and His arms embrace them.

May those who feel burdened find respite in knowing that they, too, are interdependent in this world, and can ask for help.

May we seek God to lift our burdens, rather than judge the most vulnerable among us. May we be accountable in our thoughts, words and deeds to the Lord who knows what we think, say and do at all times.

May everyone find room in their heart for the forgiveness that our human failings requires, both now and in the hereafter.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Game over: Serena versus the line judge

As a retired competitive wheelchair tennis player, I saw my share of tossed rackets and profanity on court during the decade I played the sport. I saw players hurl their rackets to the ground in exasperation after a bad play and would joke that I couldn't because mine was duct taped on. I saw them question line calls. I heard profanity and a few tirades.

At one tournament I played down south, the line official told us before the match began that he was a Baptist and said that there would be a penalty for any cursing on his court. I knew my opponent had a habit of cursing and realized this could be an issue. In the northeast where I generally played, none of the officials called him on it. In the second set, first game, my opponent lost his cool and cursed. The official issued a warning. In the second set, third game, my opponent cursed again. The official walked over to him and said "Now I told you, I don't want to hear any of that" and gave him a point penalty. " My opponent did not curse again.

This morning some people are questioning the calls during the Williams-Clijsters match last night. Serena Williams, who was warned by an official when she threw her racket to the ground, approached a line official after a foot fault was called and used profanity, pointing her racket at the female official. I couldn't hear what was said, although the microphones apparently picked up some of it, which papers are reporting.

The rules are there for a reason. Behavior that is not allowed on the court is usually distracting to an opponent and falls under the category of unsportsmanlike behavior. It is also true that it can be distracting to officials or make their jobs impossible to do. A tennis match requires that officials maintain control.

Why? Because as a former player, I can tell you that the game of tennis isn't just physically demanding. It requires the ability to think, to strategize. Having no parameters on behavior would be like trying to play chess with your opponent jumping up and down and cursing after a move. It's both distracting and unfair. Worse yet, such antics are used intentionally by some players to regain control of a match when things don't go their way. I've seen it time and time again in matches where officials didn't make calls they should have. I once had an opponent disappear for a half hour leaving me in the 90 degree heat on a court. The official didn't call my opponent on her long bathroom break and wouldn't allow me to get into the shade. Although I was ahead by a set, I was almost unable to play due to overheating when she returned and lost the match. I found out later she was sitting most of the time in front of a cooling fan inside the building by a ladies' room.

So there are reasons why rules should be enforced. Sometimes as a player you just have to play on even though you disagree with the call by an official. Serena, as a professional tennis player, should know that. When you walk (or roll) onto a court in a USTA match, you agree to abide by the rules, whether the prize money is fifty dollars for a wheelchair tennis player or - well- lots more for an able bodied one.

She's not the only player, however, to lose a match due to unsportsmanlike conduct. John McEnroe was defaulted in a masters match in 2008 after four calls.

Update: Serena Williams has issued an apology for her behavior on court.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Helpful videos for new quadriplegics

Greg, who has been a C-4 quadriplegic for nine years, offers a series of YouTube videos showing the way he does things based on years of experience and trial and error. In this opening video, he introduces the series and talks about his wish to help others dealing with quadriplegia.

In this video , Greg talks about how using velcro helps him deal with remotes and keep objects he needs close by.

He also has videos about everything from making a bathroom accessible to using his computer and driving a modified van. Greg also shows how he independently puts on a shirt, brushes his teeth, shaves and washes his hair at a sink with a specialized faucet. You can find the rest of his videos here.

Thanks, Greg.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Wheelchair tennis opens at the US Open: on court and off the court

As rain pounds the tristate area this morning, yesterday's action in wheelchair tennis may be the newest update. You can find results at

And wheelchair tennis was in the courts this week- not the tennis court, but a real court. A NY judge ruled that a filmmaker who is making a film about wheelchair tennis players couldn't shoot video of the wheelchair tennis competition.

The filmmaker, Alan Rich, argued he should be allowed to do so because matches aren't aired by TV stations.

UPDATE: More results and details about the players can be found in this article.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A lack of civility

During the speech of the President last night, Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina shouted out "You lie!"when President Obama said none of the health care programs he's proposing would "apply to illegal immigrants".

The President calmly replied "That's not true."
The health care debates have been heated and the lack of civility in the town hall meetings has been appalling. William Peace wrote about a woman in a wheelchair at a town hall meeting who was jeered by others.

As you can see in the video, the jeering was so bad that Marianne Hoynes could barely speak over it or be heard. As she talked about living with a disability, the cost of her medication and trying to survive in the system as it is, the shouting continued. As she spoke about basic human rights, and asked others to listen to the voice of the disabled, the level of disrespect shown by those at the meeting spoke more to not only their refusal to listen, but to their refusal to look for any solutions to those who are suffering. Her views were unwelcome.
There are times we all have to agree to disagree, but when we've reached a point where some citizens act to silence others who they perceive as having fewer rights, I see that as the beginning of the end of civil discourse and I fear that more than anything else. Without the ability to have heated debates in which all sides of the issue are heard, we cannot call ourselves a democracy.
Last night confirmed my belief that this is where the health care debate is going. It's become more about power and shouting down those who are vulnerable - or those who speak for them -than about its substance. One liners are bandied about to cut off any discussion or games of "gotcha" are played. Fear is rampant due to misinformation and exaggerations.
Those who read history know that this is not the first time, nor will it be the last, that our country faces a controversial issue. It is also not the first time that shouting has happened in Congress. But it is the nature of what is being said - the accusation of lying to the leader we elected- and the timing of it -during a nationally televised speech- that requires scrutiny.
This is about a lack of respect for our president and the office he holds, but it goes further than that. It's about pressing one's agenda, or one's party's agenda, at any cost.
We as Americans need to send a message to our own elected officials that it is not only counterproductive to engage in such behavior, but unacceptable. Those who represent us, no matter what their party affiliation, must begin to open their minds to solutions when so many of our citizens who are sick and face impossible financial burdens are crying out for help. Ignoring these voices, heckling them, jeering them or shouting them down or those who speak on behalf of them won't make the problem go away. Nor does it absolve us of our moral responsibilities to each other as fellow citizens.
It is time to engage in civil discourse.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Independence matters

Joseph Mathis, who has a C-6 spinal cord injury, is shown in this video working out to build up his muscles so he can do independent transfers and push a manual wheelchair part of the time. A staff member at Shepherd hospital discusses what goes into his rehab to do these independent tasks. The video also shows the Vitaglide, a new piece of exercise equipment that many of my friends and I do wish gyms would carry. It works for people in wheelchairs and helps build up many of the muscles needed. It's unfortunate that, as we all debate the high costs of medical care, we offer so few opportunities for people with disabilities to exercise independently toward goals that would keep down and lower the cost of their care outside of medical settings, which would be more cost effective.

I know personally how important it is to attain and hold onto as much independence as possible. Being able to do a few things can make an enormous difference not only in your quality of life, but the amount of caregiving required. I wish Joseph all the best as he moves toward his future.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Entre les murs

I watched this documentary last night, which YouTube describes as:

Teacher and novelist François Bégaudeau plays a version of himself as he negotiates a year with his racially mixed students from a tough Parisian neighborhood.

The movie used actual students as actors. The script is an adaptation of Begaudeau's novel.

from the Cannes review:

Chronicling a year in the life of a junior high school class in a rougher section of Paris, there's something undeniably French about the film: the cultural challenges, the uneasy-yet-unescapable mix of cultures and races in the classroom, the plot's turn on a subtler point of formal French grammar. But at the same time, these kids and their teacher (Francois Begaudeau) are going through a series of challenges and opportunities that will be familiar to anyone who's ever gone to school: The tedium of work, the charged-yet-collegial relationship between student and teacher, the subdivisions in the halls.

It's a pretty brave movie, showing raw interactions between teacher and student in difficult situations, as well as dealing with sensitive issues such as parents' different cultural responses to the discipline of students, achievement and academic struggles.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Fighting Irish fight back

A female US Open player is in the news asking why the women's match was moved instead of the men's match last night. Safina questioned why, as a number one seed, her match was moved to Louis Armstrong stadium after the day matches ran overtime - instead of the men's match last night (which had number 14 and number 21 seeds playing) -and was told by officials that they preferred a five set match.

Unfortunately, Safina went on to lose her match.

Notre Dame, on the other hand, had a blowout against Nevada, beating them 35-0 after an abysmal season last year. Charlie Weis was cautiously optimistic afterwards in his press conference.

How do you keep momentum rolling from a game that was so long ago? A lot of it has to do with hunger. These guys are hungry.This was their first opportunity to show that they're a different team. It was just a good start.

Next week they face Michigan.

My blogging has gone awry since the US Open has been in town. The live streaming is great, not to mention the blow by blow comments on Twitter by tennis fans at #usopen. Makes me miss tennis a bit.

Hope everyone is having a great holiday weekend.

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Traveling Wheelchair visits the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help -The Mission Church

The Traveling Wheelchair went to the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Mission Hill, where the services were held for Sen. Kennedy. You'll find a review here.

Kenny writes:

Once arriving at The Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Mission Church I was pleased to see there is a beautiful wheelchair accessible ramp located on the side of the stairs leading to the entry door. This historical church was built between 1876 and 1878 and it is nice to a beautiful historical building can be ‘Accessible to All’!! The entry door at the top of the ramp is not automatic so Ric held the door open for me as I drove my Permobil C350 Power Chair inside. The church is absolutely beautiful, quiet and peaceful. Located in the foyer are some brochures which provide a full history of the church. The church was elevated to basilica status in 1956 by Pope Pius XII.

Inside is glorious! The center and side aisles are spacious and wide with plenty of room to wheel your chair. The paintings, altars, shrines and statues are breathtakingly beautiful as well.

Kenny goes on to describe the seating, the votive area, and the altars (the latter have no wheelchair access). Neither do the confessionals. Kenny gave them two stars for access, with some suggestions, but gave

FIVE STARS for its Magnificence, Holiness, Healing and Peace it offers to its visitors.

" FIVE STARS to Senator Edward Kennedy. May your Legacy and Dream Live On! Thank-You and God Bless! "

Please go on over and see the beautiful photos and read the rest of Kenny's review.

Related : Making God More Accessible

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Phil's plan: a documentary about living with a disability

The last year of western suburb Phil Cantore's life is documented in "Phil's Plan."

"Phil's Plan" was produced by Mark Curcio, Stuart Lasky and Phil, while they were seniors at DePaul University.


UPDATED: YouTube version of video - received emails that the other video was not playing on here so replaced it. For the ABC video with captions, please go to the link above.