Category Archives: ADA

No Room at the Inn.

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two scooters loaded into our van.

well, i’m on vacation, the first vacation in years. it’s piggybacked onto a conference my partner, andy griggs has in oakland.  so we planned to drive up the coast, stay near san luis obispo, drive to emeryville, near oakland, stay for a few days, head back, stay in santa cruz, and come home.

tonight we get to our hotel on avila beach,  which we were able to get at a great rate, through a special program. it’s a very nice place.  i checked the web page and called in advance, before booking the room, where  a high degree of wheelchair access was indicated; even a lift to allow for pool and spa access (which neither of us needs, but it’s an indication that we would be welcome and accommodated, unlike those places where they go out of their way to keep us out. — more on this later.) when i spoke to hotel staff,  i very carefully explained that we didn’t need a wheelchair adapted room (lower cabinets, walk in shower, etc.) but that we needed to be able to get to the room without obstacles (stairs, for example) and be able to get our scooters in the room.  i even asked how many elevators there were and was told that there were two. (because i’ve had the experience of no access because the only elevator is broken and i just couldn’t get to my room.)

we get to the hotel and ALL the accessible parking spaces are taken. the other spaces are down a steep hill, and past rows of cars, which is really dangerous for wheelchair users because cars can’t see us and we can be backed into.  it’s 9:30 PM.  after considerable negotiations a very kind clerk and a very rude security guard “let” us park in the blue striped space which risks a hefty ticket and towing fee.  no other option was given to us and our offer to have the security guard park our car for us is rejected. initially we were told we would have to park down the hill. i explained that we couldn’t do that, that i wasn’t even sure the scooter could get up the hill.  i was exhausted and explained that i was now in a an impossible situation, that they were basically telling me to do something i cannot do.  AND I CALLED BEFORE BOOKING THE RESERVATION.  we we’re told that they have met their legally required number of spaces. like that makes the fact that i can’t leave and can’t stay, any better.  i check and see that neither of the cars on either side of the blue striped space, is a van, which would mean our car would be blocking side door van lift access to their car.

the clerk was embarrassed by the behavior of the security guard who showed absolutely no empathy, and had made sure to repeatedly tell me what he could not do and how the legal responsibility of the hotel had been met. (except that I HAD CALLED BEFORE MAKING THE RESERVATION, AND THEY SHOULD HAVE LET ME KNOW THAT PARKING MIGHT MIGHT MIGHT BE A PROBLEM.) “he’s usually a very nice guy, she said.

“well, dis-ability brings out sociopathy in normally empathic people.” i explain. we’ve seen this before, a lot. many of my fb buddies have seen this on online discussions, and my real world friends have seen this in situations like the one described here, when we go out in public, where absolute cruelty without consequence is demonstrated unabashedly.

we park the car, and head off to the pool and i relax in the hot tub, to the extent that one can relax while paying to be discriminated against. we get up to our room. it’s now 11:00 and we’ve had a long day and we have NO SPOONS* left, and i notice a message light on the phone and call the front desk to find out that while the hotel won’t be towing us for parking illegally in the blue striped space, if another guest calls the cops, we could end up away from home without a car and have to spend some serious time and money to get our car back.

so far no one has offered us anything other than NO-pologies, like “i’m sorry you’re upset”, we’ve not been offered any comps or real options.

what they do offer us, is to allow us to re-park our car at the base of the hill and access the hotel via the employee entrance. had they offered this when we were in the lobby, we would have been fine with this. but it’s 11 PM and we can barely move.  this means scooting down to the lobby, loading the scooter into the van, driving the van down the hill, parking, unloading the scooter  and scooting back up to the room, which is about 2 blocks of corridors from where they are now suggesting we park the car.

andy decides to take them up on this offer, because risking getting a huge ticket or having our car towed is just NOT an option.

earlier in the day we saw a restaurant in santa barbara, and i wish i had pictures, but my digital camera was in the car, and my iphone was out of electricity. it was a restaurant that could have been accessible, it was even ramped, but the management had carefully placed signs and plants and tables in such a way that access was impossible.

this is why so few pwds go on vacation.

now, before some bar hopping, “slunting” pedantic activists from yale, or USC,  privilege bait me (you know who you are!)  for having the nerve to complain that i can’t access a luxury vacation (it’s not like low end travel is even remotely an access option!), please tell me, are there any other demographics to whom hotels and restaurants would acceptably bar access; would refuse to provide equal service for the same payment?

the day was otherwise pleasant, beautiful coast, photography, talking in ways we haven’t before, or at least so long ago,  i can’t remember,  and much needed time together, but right now, i don’t really want to be here, and yet i also am just not able to leave, either. i do hope tomorrow is better.

and returned to the room, and tells me the charger to my scooter isn’t working. we have one charger between us, for two scooters. hoping we don’t lose that one too.

relax relax relax.  ohhhhhhhhhhmmmmmmmmmmm.

*http://www.butyoudontlooksick.com/articles/written-by-christine/the-spoon-theory/

The Wheelchair Nuisance (or; Why Can’t Those People Just Go Away?)

By Emma Rosenthal
(Rosenthal submitted the following statement as an oped to The L.A. Times, in response to the article: Suits continue despite law to curb litigation” Friday September18, 2010. Let’s see if they print her commentary! Meanwhile, you read it here, first!)

The characterization of disability access litigation as nuisance lawsuits is profoundly dismissive, cruel and hurtful and belies a general resentment and reluctance of full inclusion for people with disabilities. This essential civil action is the only legal remedy provided to secure minimal civil rights for this significant sector of the population. L. A. Times reporter, Louis Sahagun‘s open hostility to disability access; ridiculing the extreme physical, social and emotional stress caused by constant barriers to society’s resources, makes his article read more like a tabloid editorial than a news report. The account didn’t cover the extreme ongoing lack of accessible public services for people with disabilities, but rather asserted that despite legislation intended to prevent litigation, people with disabilities continue to misuse the courts to assert our rights through “nuisance” lawsuits.

Sadly, for many people, basic human rights ARE a nuisance.  Those people are called bigots.

Anyone who either uses a wheelchair, scooter or walker,  or those who spend time with people with disabilities, know that there no need to invent abuses of civil rights legislation for disability access. Many shops including those in major tourist sections of this city: Olvera Street, Little Tokyo, Chinatown, Sunset Junction, Fairfax, Melrose, Venice Beach, are not accessible.  Many stores clog up narrow aisles with displays and merchandise. Several local farmers markets use space in ways that are not only inaccessible to many shoppers, but, in setting up stalls, block accessible parking spaces and wheelchair ramps. Much of the L.A. housing stock, many local dog parks, playgrounds, paved walking trails, theaters, nightclubs, hotels and motels, places of worship, medical facilities, public transportation, sightseeing tour buses and trolleys, taxis, airport shuttles, human rights/peace organizations, labor organizations, public libraries, post offices, schools and universities, domestic violence shelters, are likewise frequently inaccessible.  While many facilities may have been built to comply with ADA regulations, the use of a venue quickly renders the space inaccessible:  lowered service counters that are not staffed (or are used to display ads to local theme parks), line cordons that aren’t wide enough for wheelchairs or scooters,  bath rooms  or hallways blocked by lockers and boxes, carts that  are left in the middle of aisles by store personnel, store scooters that are not charged between uses, leaving patrons stranded, accessible parking space usage that is  unenforced  or is used to display merchandise

Disability is a significant predictor of unemployment, homelessness, institutionalization, violent crime victimization, bullying, and poverty due to lack of access to social services, jobs, housing, education and medical care.  While the Chambers of Commerce and Merchants’ Associations cry foul, they repeatedly allot their ample resources, not to finding solutions or providing information to their members and supporting new businesses in assuring compliance, but rather to extensive lobbying campaigns to prevent new legislation from getting passed, and existing legislation from being enforced.  Use of the term “nuisance” to label the lawsuits that attempt to right these abuses, is a manipulative twist of words intended to increasingly turn the public against this vulnerable, marginalized population.  As for the merchant who exclaimed “Why would we want to limit access to anyone with cash in their pockets?”  Why indeed?   It’s not like there isn’t historic precedent. What excuse did Southern lunch counter owners and White Business Associations give for their disinterest in increasing their customer base?

Truth is, people with disabilities are to be unseen and unheard. Our mere presence is, for many, an offense and decreases the cachet of an establishment.

I have never filed a lawsuit for lack of access, though the opportunity presents itself every time I venture out into the world.  I may get litigious one day, but right now it’s just not what I want, nor how I should have to use my time. I do point out barriers to access and explain that such accommodations would result in more patrons, participation and greater sales (and would provide employees greater job security should they become disabled too).  Usually the response is either hostile or feigned indifference, offense, ridicule and humiliation.  Only in a few exceptions, were even the smallest (and often insufficient) changes made. So I am grateful for lawyers and individuals such as Eric Moran who have the courage, the patience and the tenacity to demand full human and civil rights for everyone.

In the face of grave injustice, someone has to be a nuisance!

DISABILITY ACTION ALERT: FLAG THIS ON CRAIGSLIST

CRAIGSLIST has a community enforcement program, where members of the community can flag an ad that violates law or other sensibilities. The organization A Place Called Home, has several job “opportunities” that have CLEARLY discriminatory critieria:

“hysical and Mental Demands
• Able to work in chaotic and high noise level environment typical of a youth center
• Sit and walk throughout the day /Stand and walk for several consecutive hours during class time
• Lift up to 20 pounds occasionally
• Speech and hearing within normal ranges; speech clarity sufficient for standard face to face and telephone communications ”

Follow this link to all of these ads, click on each one, and flag it as prohibited (menu on upper right corner of the ad.)

http://losangeles.craigslist.org/search/jjj?query=a+place+called+home+is+seeking&srchType=A

job opportunity helping youth with self esteem

People With Disabilities NEED NOT APPLY!

What follows is my inquiry to a post to the L.A. Culture Net list serve for a job opportunity, along with the actual announcement.  I encourage my readers to consider a quick email letting the agency know what YOU think of their reasonable accommodations and the requisites of the ADA re dis-ability accommodations.  There’s no reason why a person with a dis-ability shouldn’t be able to handle an administrative position or that minor accommodation might provide this agency with a greater, perhaps more desirable candidate pool, especially considering the salary range for this ADMINISTRATIVE POSITION!!!

_____________________________________________

DO YOU HIRE PEOPLE WITH DIS-ABILITIES?

“Physical and Mental Demands
• Able to work in chaotic and high noise level environment typical of a youth center
• Sit and walk throughout the day /Stand and walk for several consecutive hours during class time
• Lift up to 20 pounds occasionally
• Speech and hearing within normal ranges; speech clarity sufficient for standard face to face and telephone communications
• Must be willing to work flexible schedule (including some evenings and weekends)”
COULD YOU BE MORE CLEAR: PEOPLE WITH DIS-ABILITIES NEED NOT APPLY!!!!

—–Original Message—–
>From: Angela <angela@apch.org>
>Sent: Aug 4, 2010 2:16 PM
>To: laculturenet@yahoogroups.com
>Subject: [LACN] A Place Called Home is seeking an Educational Services Manager
>
>A PLACE CALLED HOME (APCH)
>
>
>A Place Called Home is seeking an Educational Services Manager
>Reports to: Director of Programs FLSA Status: Exempt
>Hours:  Full-Time Benefits: Competitive health insurance package, paid vacation, and 401K matching plan
>
>A Place Called Home is a dynamic, non-profit youth center in South Central Los Angeles.  APCH provides educational programs, counseling, mentoring, music, dance and art classes, and fitness opportunities.  As youth participate in our programs, they discover interests and talents and develop a better sense of themselves and their place in the world around them.  Our goal is to increase the likelihood that youth will stay in school, pursue higher education, attain viable jobs, and become active citizens capable of making positive change in the world in which they live.  (www.apch.org)
>
>SUMMARY
>The Educational Services Manager is responsible for successful implementation of academic programs for A Place Called Home including tutoring, assessment, collaboration with local district schools, intervention plans, etc. The Educational Services Manager is also responsible for supervising department staff, volunteers, and interns.
>
>Responsibilities  (Please request to view job description to view a complete list of responsibilities)
>• Oversee academic programs and classes (Literacy, CPU, Math, Writing, Poetry, etc.) and tutoring programs
>• Collaborate with local schools to coordinate services for members secure all relevant educational materials and agendas
>• Collaborate with departments to provide academic support to required programs (i.e. dance, sports, counseling, BTF, etc.)
>• Work in partnership with counseling and case management to develop personalized academic plans for individuals in academic crisis and or identify and refer members requiring counseling
>• Train, supervise, and evaluate Ed Services staff, interns, and volunteers
>• Develop educational criteria to assess readiness of all volunteers
>• Develop and Evaluate overall curriculum for Educational Services
>• Develop assessment tools and facilitate academic assessments for members appropriate grade level placement in tutoring or intersession programs
>• Plan and coordinate various educational ceremonies and enrichment activities (i.e. Academic Achievement Awards, Graduations, Field Trips)
>• Conduct parent/teacher meetings
>• Prepare and submit reports and paperwork (Bi-monthly, class reports, etc.)
>• Attend all meetings (Supervisor’s, Department, Staff, etc.)
>• Responsible for creating a visually exciting, fun, and clean learning environment (posters, bulletin boards, etc.)
>
>Technical and Performance Skills
>Bi-lingual (English and Spanish) (Written and Oral) Required
>Excellent Oral and Written Communication Skills Classroom management skills
>Proofreading Skills Professionalism
>Computer Skills Time Management and Organizational Skills
>Collaborative Skills (ability to work with collaborative partners, staff, students, volunteers)
>Excel and Database Management Multi-tasking
>Detail oriented Dedicated to excellence
>
>Education/Training/Experience
>Degree: B.A. degree in Education or related field
>Minimum of 3 years in teaching capacity
>Minimum of 2 years in management capacity (minimum of 2 full-time equivalent staff members)
>
>Physical and Mental Demands
>• Able to work in chaotic and high noise level environment typical of a youth center
>• Sit and walk throughout the day /Stand and walk for several consecutive hours during class time
>• Lift up to 20 pounds occasionally
>• Speech and hearing within normal ranges; speech clarity sufficient for standard face to face and telephone communications
>• Must be willing to work flexible schedule (including some evenings and weekends)
>
>EEO
>Background screening required
>
>To apply, please send your cover letter and resume, to Angela Maldonado; HR Director at angela@apch.org   (E-mail submission only/No phone inquiries)
>
>42,000, – 44,000

Kathy Running Horse Wells 1957-2010


kathy and i both came into dis-ability together, especially the intolerance within the teachers’ unions for full, dignified inclusion. we both shared the initial shock at the pervasiveness of dis-ability exclusion, ridicule and hostility. i have, we have lost a real sister in the struggle. i loved her so much. i will miss her very very much. perhaps those at this years nea convention, when the mourn for her, can, in her honor, demand the nea convention, at the very least, address the issues of accessibility (and dignity) that have gone ignored for years.
-emma

andy griggs, emma rosenthal and kathy wells

A Valiant Sister Warrior’s Crossing

It is with great sadness and love that we share the following message from NEA AI/AN Pacific Regional Director and CIEA President, our brother Clyde Hodge.Dear Brothers and Sisters,(I’ve just checked into Baton Rouge and am writing this as soon as possible.)

It is my very sad duty to inform you that our friend and ally, long time CTA and NEA AI/AN Caucus member and American Indian rights activist Kathy Running Horse Wells crossed over to be with her ancestors today, at about 4:00 PM Pacific daylight Savings Time, today, June 24 2010, at a hospital in the SF Bay Area due to complications from diabetes.

To quote Cheryl Whitney who called to let me know, “CTA and NEA AI/AN caucuses and Union work was her life.” We will miss Kathy and wish she were still with us, but we must celebrate her struggles, battles, and successes in the work she did for NEA, CTA, the AI/AN Caucuses, and the American Indian/Alaska Natives educational community. She was a Strong-hearted Warrior.

I trust you will say a prayer in your own way for the family, friends, and other loved ones Kathy left behind, and please allow yourself a prayer as well.

In sadness and solidarity,

All my Relations,

Clyde

It is also of note that we share and continue Kathy’s advocacy for disability access and inclusion at the NEA-RA. Kathy shared with Emma Rosenthal and others many times, the humiliation that was typically experienced by union activists with dis-abilities. Tommy Flanagan  CTA/NEA  American Indian/Alaska Native Caucus

ruth and kathy summer 2009

Commentary on “my sister came home from school wanting books on sign language”

i’ve seen this come up on facebook, several times and “liked” by several of my fb friends:
“When my sister was younger she came home from school one day and demanded I take her to the library so she could get books on sign language.I asked why? She told me there was a new kid at school who was deaf and she wanted to befriend him.  Today I stood beside her at their wedding watching her sign “I DO””

a quick search shows that this STORY is posted on several pages, including a phishing page, and a feel good page full of the types of platitudes that do more harm than good for people with dis-abilities.  (think positive.  don’t complain, don’t raise REAL social issues, cause that’s just negative.)
so as a dis-ability rights activist, addressing real issues of access and human rights on a daily basis, i ask:
where is this school that has one student who is deaf?
how was this child taught sign as an integrated part of language development,  if not in school?
where were the other kids who were deaf?
how did this child learn, if the teacher didn’t sign, and if the student didn’t receive instruction with other students who spoke his language?
how may women who are deaf “like” this post about a hearing woman marrying a man who is deaf?
can “deaf studies” be taught in arizona schools?
why does this story make hearing people feel good?
if this was a story about a white girl and a black boy, would the story be as “inspiring” or would it seem trite and insulting? (and how would black women feel about it?)
how many of the people who “like” this story, have friends who are deaf or are otherwise dis-abled?
how many of the people who “like” this story are outraged or even notice dis-ability discrimination, refuse to patronize restaurants, stores,  educational institutions, non-profit organizations, health care facilities etc. that are not fully inclusive,  demand sign language interpretation at all public events, demand classrooms with “special” education students  fully integrated within the general population and with full funding and materials to insure real educational access, and an assertive anti-bully campaign to protect students with dis-abilities who are more likely to be the targets of bullies?
demand that parents with dis-abilities have full  access to their children’s educational institution as easily as parents without dis-abilities?
do people who “like” this story find my questions offensive or over sensitive?  are more comfortable with dis-ability defined by people not considered to be dis-abled (in this case, hearing people) than by people with dis-abilities?
how many have attempted to communicate or have had actual contact  with people who are deaf?
what really matters to people with dis-abilities is: justice, access, inclusion, empowerment, self-definition.  exceptional stories about isolated people with dis-abilities really don’t help us much and have much more to do with how people without dis-abilities feel about their relationship with people with dis-abilities, than with how we identify ourselves, what we need, or how we see the dominant society which my romanticize the company of one or two of us who “break free” from the imposed isolation, and in the context of deafness, from their larger community and identity, but does little to really engage people with dis-abilities or include people with non-conforming physical characteristics into the larger society.

Call out on dis-ability access in the left

 

Yesterday I posted this as a facebook note, inviting activists to participate in a dialogue on establishing awareness on dis-ability inclusion in the human rights social justice movements.  I invite readers to likewise, join the discussion.  Here is the facebook link.  It’s easy to join facebook, and it is an excellent vehicle for this type of dialogue building. 

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=361031147521&id=1081303180&ref=mf

In Los Angeles, and I would imagine other cities as well, the left, progressive, the anti-war movement has been in the rearguard on the issue of dis-ability access, affirmation and full inclusion. Beyond a few friends saying i’ve raised their consciousness, I’ve seen very little change. On the other hand, I’ve been rather brutally attacked because of my dis-ability or accused of being divisive for suggesting we include more people in the movement. Many of the progressive community’s organizations don’t have accessible locations, meaning they don’t hire people with dis-abilities (pwds) they don’t have interns who are pwds (so that pwd students have less experience entering the workforce), they often don’t have events that are accessible, and even if the venues are accessible, have little monitoring to assure that the space, once filled with people, equipment and materials, remains safe, accessible and humanizing for pwds. 

Pwds have little opportunity to inform the movement. Many of the groups who claim to be vanguard revolutionary groups are by the nature of their infrastructure, exclusive of pwds, implying that there is no place for pwds in the vanguard of the movement.

I would like to start a dialogue (is that too much to ask) on this issue. Please indulge this gimp gurl, who has for the most part, like many gimps before me, given up on going to progressive events because more often than not, the experience is humiliating, dangerous, isolating and insulting. 

Can we create a language and an ethic of inclusion and stop the practice of treating pwds as the invisible or absent other?
Can we include it in our canon of isms that are part of the course of study any movement cadre would be familiar with?
Can we determine a protocol for event planning, notification, accommodation, safety and inclusion?
Can we look, collectively for creative ways to solve the financial issues that impede (and yet can NEVER be an excuse) full inclusion?
Can we train our own cadre in accessibility facilitation, sign language interpretation, etc. to deter costs?
Can we find ways to make inaccessible venues fully accessible? (We’ll carry you up the stairs isn’t it– and what will you do to assist in an inaccessible bathroom?)
Can we familiarize ourselves with the language, protocol and etiquette of inclusion? 
Can we take responsibility for inclusion, including pwd informed advocacy?
Can we all start to demand that events and locals be fully accessible and inclusive? (When was the last time you complained that a restaurant or event required stair climbing?) 

IDEAS? QUESTIONS? PROBLEMS? CONCERNS?

(BUT NO EXCUSES!)