Access for All:
The Americans with Disabilities Act requires that all people with disabilities have access to housing, parking, government and business offices, shopping, recreation, entertainment, etc.
For more information and a list of print, audio, and video publications addressing accessibility contact the US Department of Justice ADA Information Line:
- Voice: 1-800-524-0301
- TDD: 1-800-514-0383
- On-line: www.ada.gov
Carry "Proof of Disability" with you:
It is now required in most states that someone with a disability must provide “proof of disability” to use certain services or privileges, such as parking in a specially marked accessible stall. When you obtain certain vocational rehabilitation services or apply for a National Park Service pass or disabled parking card, you are required to have proof, in the form of a dated and signed doctor’s authorization, that you are disabled. In Wisconsin, when your parking pass is renewed, you again need to get your doctor’s signature, on the supporting materials that come with the card, and keep that proof in your vehicle or with your pass. Make it easier on yourself and make a copy of your doctor’s letter and carry it with you. Then if you are ever questioned about your right to services or privileges, you can prove your disability, on the spot.
If you are Deaf or have another disability that may make it difficult for you to communicate effectively, you should carry proof of your disability on your person and make up a card for your dash that says, “I am Deaf,” or whatever your disability is. That way, should you be pulled over by the police, they will understand that you are not drunk or unresponsive.
Full Service at the Gas Pump:
The Americans with Disabilities Act requires gas stations, including self service stations, to provide refueling assistance to people with disabilities without additional cost.
This means that people with disabilities can have someone pump gas for them without paying the higher full-service price. There are limitations, for instance self-service stations with only one person on duty are not required to provide this service, but they are encouraged to do so if at all possible. Develop a relationship with a station near your home and ask them to help you; when traveling stop at newer looking stations and look for the assistance call button to request help. If all else fails, ask another customer to help you. Remember you are not imposing; you are giving them the gift of doing a good deed that day. For more information, contact the US Department of Justice ADA Information Line:
Working with a Disability:
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was heralded at its inception in 1990 as “the world’s first comprehensive declaration of the equality of people with disabilities” however it contained omissions and areas requiring clarity. The ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA) enacted in 2009 with final regulations just being completed in 2010, clarified the intent of the law and filled in the gaps, reinstating the broad scope of protection originally intended.
Disability is no longer limited to just the obvious — deafness, blindness, intellectual disability, missing limbs, and mobility impairments; the expanded list includes impairments that are not as readily visible to others. According to ADAA, any chronic illness, physical or mental condition, or bodily function that substantially limits “major life activities” including “caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working” meets the definition of “disability.” The amendment is “nonexhaustive,” making provision for currently unrecognized conditions, for people whose condition is episodic, fluctuates or otherwise unpredictable, and specifies that an impairment that limits one major life activity need not limit any others to be considered a disability. For more information on how the ADA Amendments Act affects your disability rights at work, contact:
If you cannot get out, perhaps they will come to you.
This time of year, weather gets unpredictable. For many parts of the country snow and ice, wind and torrential rains create barriers to someone with a disability getting out. Thankfully many services are available for people who are elderly or disabled that come to you so you do not have to go out. Here are just a few:
- Your Local Library - will answer questions and provide information over the phone and if you have a disability, many have volunteers that will deliver books and audio/video materials to your door. Contact your local library for details.
- RSVP - If you are over 60 and you have trouble getting around, RSVP volunteers will provide rides to medical appointments and provide other services. This is a government sponsored program with chapters in many communities. To find out more, visit the Senior Corps website or look up RSVP in your phone book.
- Grocery Delivery - Good nutrition is important but if you cannot get out to the grocery store for fresh food, good nutrition is hard to come by. Call your local grocery store and ask if they deliver to seniors or people with disabilities. There may be a small delivery charge, but that’s a small price to pay to remain safe at home.
- Meals on Wheels - If cooking a wholesome meal is difficult and you cannot get out to get one, Meals on Wheels volunteers will deliver a wholesome meal to your door. For more information, contact your local Senior Center or Department of Social Services.
These are just a few of the services provided to seniors and people with disabilities. For a complete listing in your area, contact the United Way - just dial 211.
Employment Training and Assistance
If you are out of work and have a disability, even old age (over 50), you qualify for assistance in finding work through the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. This is a state agency that provides job related education, training, resume’ writing, and even a job coach to help you through the steps of finding and retaining employment. To aid hiring and after you are hired, they will even assist your employer in funding "reasonable accommodation" so you can continue working. If you live outside of Wisconsin, this agency may have a different name, so ask about this service at agencies that provide social services or labor statistics.
FREE Federal Lands Access Pass for People with Disabilities
Anytime is a great time to get outdoors and see America the Beautiful. With an America the Beautiful – National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass, U.S. citizens or permanent residents with permanent disabilities can visit Federal parks, forests, and lands FREE. This lifetime access pass provides the passholder and their guests FREE access to fee areas (some restrictions apply) and 50% discounts on some expanded amenity fees. The pass can only be obtained in person at the park and documentation of permanent disability is required (statement by a licensed physician; document issued by a Federal agency such as the Veteran’s Administration, Social Security Disability Income or Supplemental Security Income; or document issued by a State agency such as a vocational rehabilitation agency). For more information, visit: http://www.nps.gov/fees_passes.htm.
FREE Resources for People with a Chronic Illness or Disability
There are a number of national organizations that provide information for people challenged by disabilities. Some are specific to a particular disability, such as the American Council of the Blind or support groups for various conditions such as the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Others are government agencies that provide information for people with all kinds of disabilities, often listing a variety of resources, agencies, or companies that provide services to this group. For a list of several helpful government agencies, see FREE Resources for Making Life Easier™ with a Chronic Illness or Disability.
Find Aging in Place Remodelers
The National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) trains remodeling contractors on how to remodel houses to help those with limitations due to aging or disabilities remain independent and stay in their homes longer and more safely. NARI is currently certifying contractors as Aging in Place Specialists. So if you need help making your home more accessible, contact the NARI chapter in your area and ask for referrals to remodeling contractors who are certified or specialize in Aging in Place. To find a chapter near you, visit the NARI Website.
Independent Living Support
Independent Living Centers nationwide provide accessibility information and assistance to people with disabilities. Please use the following link to find a Center for Independent Living or Statewide Independent Living Council near you. Click here.
FREE Wheelchair Service at Airports
If you are traveling by air and you cannot manage the long walk from the front door to the gate, ask the airline to schedule a wheelchair escort for you. Whether you have a permanent disability or a temporary one, due to a broken leg or recent surgery (a friend’s daughter used this service to fly home after a Cesarean birth), an escort will meet you at the door to the airport, take you through check-in, baggage, and security and wheel you right to the door of the plane where other assistance and devices such as an aisle chair are available if needed. Upon landing, an escort will meet you at the plane and wheel you to the front door and wait with you until your ride arrives. Ask about this service when booking your flight.
Participate in a Memory Study
If you have a chronic illness and you struggle with memory issues, Quincy Bioscience may be able to help. They are studying the effects of a calcium binding protein, originally found in jellyfish, on brain function. Various research trials focus on specific segments of the population, such as people with multiple sclerosis, autism, neuopathy, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, and more. Under the name HOPE Trials, research studies are being developed that allow anyone to participate via an Internet connection. If you are interested in learning more about HOPE Trials, go to www.HOPEtrials.com.
FREE Tips for Making Life Easier™
Meeting Life's Challenges is owned by someone with a disability and hires only people with disabilities. The practical Tips for Making Life Easier™ are gleaned from everyday experiences and challenges and added to our Website so others may benefit. Our Tips/Products section provides strategies for living and reviews unique products for making life easier regardless of you limitations. To make finding the tips most important to you easier, we are adding a new Tips List to our Website each month focusing on a specific topic. Titles include: 10 Tips for Memory Proofing Your Home, 15 Tips for Staying Independent, 12 Tips for Reasonable Accommodation10+ Tips for Making Life Easier™ When Traveling, and more. Follow this link and check out our Top Tips Lists. Once you do, please let us know what you think and if there is a topic you would like to see covered, you may email: Shelley@MakingLifeEasier.com
Interstate Highway System Signs Aid Navigation
Traveling on the Interstate highways is easier when you understand the system. If you tend to get confused, remember that:
- Odd-numbered roads go north and south while even-numbered roads go east and west.
- Three-digit routes beginning with an even number travel in a circle around a metropolitan area, eventually rejoining the main highway; three-digit routes beginning with an odd number are a spur into the city and end there.
- An easy way to determine whether your exit ramp is to the right or to the left is to observe the position of the small exit number panel on the top of Interstate road signs. If on the right side of the sign, it's a right lane exit ramp. If it's on the left side, it's a left lane exit.