By Forum staff reports on Sep 1, 2015 at 4:13 p.m.

Freedom Resource Center Executive Director Nate Aalgaard tries out the new fully automatic mobility device. Dave Wallis / The Forum

Freedom Resource Center Executive Director Nate Aalgaard tries out the new fully automatic mobility device. Dave Wallis / The Forum

FARGO – MATBUS has added three new buses to its fleet used in the Fargo-Moorhead metro area. Two 40-foot New Flyer Excelsior hybrid buses and one 35-foot New Flyer Xcelsior diesel bus will soon be part of the MATBUS fixed-route fleet.

The buses were built by New Flyer Industries, St. Cloud, Minn. Each 40-foot hybrid electrical bus cost $645,000 and the 35-foot diesel bus cost $440,000. They were purchased through capital grants from the Federal Transit Administration along with the transportation departments in North Dakota and Minnesota. Fargo and Moorhead provided 20 percent in local matching funds.

The new buses feature innovative technologies, including devices where passengers with disabilities can be secured into the bus via a fully automatic rear-facing wheelchair station. The new buses also allow three bikes to be transported at one time, versus the current two-bike capability. There are additional digital interior display monitors to indicate upcoming route stops and enhanced LED lighting on the interior and exterior.

Passengers will also experience a quieter ride and smoother acceleration due to the design of the power train engine. The 40-foot buses are able to hold more than 80 passengers and quicker boarding and de-boarding will be possible with wider doors and aisles. For added safety, there are on-board cameras and door sensors.

The hybrid buses generate less than 50 percent of the greenhouse gases emitted by typical diesel vehicles.

http://www.inforum.com/news/3829932-new-buses-f-m-feature-innovative-technology

Wayne Dyer orange juice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I was preparing to speak at a conference and I decided to bring an orange on stage with me as a prop for my lecture. I opened a conversation with a bright young fellow of about twelve who was sitting in the front row. “If I were to squeeze this orange as hard as I could, what would come out?” I asked him.

He looked at me like I was a little crazy and said, “Juice, of course.” “Do you think apple juice could come out of it?” “No!” he laughed. “What about grapefruit juice?” “No!” “What would come out of it?” “Orange juice, of course.” “Why? Why when you squeeze an orange does orange juice come out?” He may have been getting a little exasperated with me at this point. “Well, it’s an orange and that’s what’s inside.” I nodded. “Let’s assume that this orange isn’t an orange, but it’s you. And someone squeezes you, puts pressure on you, says something you don’t like, offends you. And out of you comes anger, hatred, bitterness, fear. Why? The answer, as our young friend has told us, is because that’s what’s inside.” It’s one of the great lessons of life. What comes out when life squeezes you? When someone hurts or offends you? If anger, pain and fear come out of you, it’s because that’s what’s inside. It doesn’t matter who does the squeezing—your mother, your brother, your children, your boss, the government. If someone says something about you that you don’t like, what comes out of you is what’s inside. And what’s inside is up to you, it’s your choice.

When someone puts the pressure on you and out of you comes anything other than love, it’s because that’s what you’ve allowed to be inside. Once you take away all those negative things you don’t want in your life and replace them with love, you’ll find yourself living a highly functioning life.

Thanks, my young friend, and here’s an orange for you!” ~Wayne Dyer

 

Posted on June 18, 2015 by Tracey Lloyd

http://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/relationshipsandmentalillness/2011/08/about-deltra-coyne-author-of

Some people are anxious when starting a new relationship during mental illness recovery. They may wonder when they will be healthy enough to consider a new romantic relationship or even a first date. But there can be behavioral clues that tell you when its healthy for you to start a new relationship during mental illness recovery. I have experienced some of these during my recovery from various depressive episodes.
It is important to know yourself and identify your mental health triggers before you begin dating during mental illness recovery. That way, you can learn which aspects of dating and relationships are likely to cause you distress and signal possible relapse.

Move Slowly When Starting a Relationship During Mental Illness Recovery

The second time I was hospitalized for depression, I met a Noah while I was in treatment. We talked to each other during free time and shared aspects of our lives and our diseases. After he was released, he called me at the hospital and expressed interest in getting together in the “real world.” I was feeling better than I had in weeks, so we exchanged phone numbers and began talking every day once I’d been discharged. As we became closer, he invited me on trips and talked about our future together. I began to fall for Noah, believing that he would sweep me off my feet and that we could travel the world. Then, on what was to be our first date, he never showed up, giving me a disjointed excuse the next morning about keys and his boss and picking up his mother.

relationship

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a few more conversations I realized that Noah had stopped taking his medication and had a mental illness relapse, causing him to fabricate stories and lose track of commitments. I felt badly for him, but also for myself because I’d slipped very quickly into depending on someone that I didn’t know. I realized that I was using the fantasy of being with Noah to combat my lingering feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness. My reliance on Noah’s attention told me that I was still recovering from depression even though I felt better and was out of the hospital. Whether it is accurate or not, I still believe that I may have recovered more quickly had I spent more time getting in touch with myself instead of focusing on a new relationship during my mental illness recovery.

Know Your Triggers in Your Relationship During Mental Illness Recovery

It is possible to have a healthy relationship during mental illness recovery, but you should be self-aware enough to understand what relationship aspects trigger your disease. I learned this firsthand when attempting to date after a long bout of bipolar depression. Matt was a classmate from high school with whom I reconnected on Facebook. He expressed interest in me very early in our communication. He also told me that he was not monogamous and wanted to see me in addition to other women. I agreed, with trepidation, believing that his interest was more important than his other paramours.

Matt and I went out a few times, but I was plagued with self-doubt. Was I prettier than the other women? What could I say to make him choose me instead of the other women? I made Matt tell me about his other relationships and the more I knew, the more insecure I became, and I acted on that insecurity by over-communicating with Matt. When he stopped seeing me, I was devastated for a few days. Then I realized that I just wasn’t ready for a relationship. Had I been fully recovered and healthy, I never would’ve agreed to see Matt to begin with. And if I had dated him, I would have been better able to regulate my emotions during the encounter.

Relationships are necessary to help us through our mental illness recovery, but romantic and dating relationships can cause particular triggers for our diseases. It is important to always monitor your symptoms when interacting with new people so that a new relationship doesn’t lead to a relapse.

Find Tracey on TwitterFacebookGoogle+ and her personal blog.

 

Threshold

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The level area just outside the door extends out about 36”, not the 60” the Standards call for.  This door is designed as an exit only and not an entrance. A person exiting the door will experience about a ¾ “ vertical drop and a crack that is about ¾ “ wide. Something that can’t be seen is the door is sticky and required a very large force to push open.

Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves. (Carl Jung)

What we see in others is quite often what we see in ourselves. And what irritates us in people is maybe what we don’t like in ourselves. What you judge in someone you are actually judging in yourself.

Therefore what you notice and what irritates you in others can teach you important things about yourself. Things you may not be aware of. In a way people can be like a mirror for you. A mirror that can help you to learn more about yourself, what you fear and how you may be fooling yourself.

Wishing you peace and wellbeing as you look inside yourself and discover the true source of your irritation.

PS: Remember to hold the ones you love just a little closer and tighter this week (without expectations).
everything that irritates us - Copy

“As human beings we need to check our privileges in regards to our abilities. In order to harness the power and diversity and innovation of our society, we have to realize that our minds and bodies experience the world in very different ways. If we are able to create access and be more intentional about how we create access, then we are doing everyone good.” (Allie Cannington, AAPD Board Member)

6 Forms of Ableism We Need to Retire Immediately

By Julie Zeilinger

http://mic.com/articles/121653/6-forms-of-ableism-we-need-to-retire-immediately

Nearly 1 in 5 people in the United States has a disability, according to a 2012 Census Bureau report. Yet many forms of discrimination against the disability community not only persist, but are actually largely normalized and even integrated into our culture’s very understanding (or, more accurately, disregard) of disabled people’s experiences.

Ableism refers to “discrimination in favor of able-bodied people,” according to the Oxford English Dictionary. But the reality of ableism extends beyond literal discriminatory acts (intentional or not) to the way our culture views disabled people as a concept. Ableism is also the belief that people with disabilities “need to be fixed or cannot function as full members of society” and that having a disability is “a defect rather than a dimension of difference,” according to the authors of one 2008 Journal of Counseling & Development article on the topic, as reported byFeminists with Disabilities.

This interpretation of difference as defect is the true root of ableist acts that cause far too many to feel marginalized, discriminated against and ultimately devalued in this society. Here are just six forms of this behavior that, though largely normalized, need to be retired immediately.

1. Failing to provide accessibility beyond wheelchair ramps

Source: Getty

Source: Getty

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Perhaps the most obvious form of discrimination people with disabilities face is the inability to access places and services open to their able-bodied counterparts — even with laws in place to prevent such inequality.

As Tumblr user The (Chronically) Illest noted, while most people think “just [putting] wheelchair ramps everywhere” is sufficient, true accessibility accommodates all types of disabilities — not just physical disabilities that specifically bind people to wheelchairs. Accommodations can also include “braille, seeing-eye dogs/assistant dogs, ergonomic workspaces, easy to grip tools, closed captions … class note-takers, recording devices for lectures” and other services and alterations.

Though accessibility is certainly a matter of convenience and equity, a lack of accessible resources can impact the very wellbeing of people with disabilities. Individuals with disabilities have reported not being able to receive health care because their providers’ facilities weren’t accessible, and one study found that women with disabilities particularly face increased difficulty accessing reproductive health care, just to name two examples.

2. Using ableist language

Source: Getty

Source: Getty

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ableism has become undeniably naturalized in the English language. Many people not only use words like “crazy,” “insane” or “retarded” without a second thought, but many adamantly defend their use of these terms, decrying anybody who questions their right to do so as too “politically correct” or “sensitive.” But this personal defense fails to recognize that ableist language is not about the words themselves so much as what their usage suggests the speaker feels about the individuals they represent.

“When a critique of language that makes reference to disability is not welcome, it is nearly inevitable that, as a disabled person, I am not welcome either,” Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg wrote in a 2013 Disability and Representation article. But beyond individual feelings, ableist language can contribute to a foundation of more systemic oppression of people with disabilities as a group.

“If a culture’s language is full of pejorative metaphors about a group of people,” Cohen-Rottenberg continued, that culture is more likely to view those individuals as less entitled to rights like “housing, employment, medical care, education, access, and inclusion as people in a more favored group.”

3. Able-bodied people failing to check their privilege 

Source: Getty

Source: Getty

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It may not seem like a big deal in the moment, but able-bodied individuals fail to recognize the privilege of having access to every and any space accessible. As Erin Tatum points out at Everyday Feminism, plenty of people may not directly discriminate against people with disabilities but effectively do so by using resources allocated for them. For example, many able-bodied people use handicapped bathroom stalls or take up space in crowded elevators, rather than taking the stairs and leave room for people with disabilities who don’t have other options, without a second thought.

While these actions may not be the product of ill will, they are evidence of the way able-bodied privilege manifests in our society. There’s a general cultural notion that “disability is something inherently negative,” Allie Cannington, a board member of the American Association of People with Disabilities, told Mic. “There’s a level of silencing that happens, and erasing of the disabled experience as an important experience because able-bodied experiences are the privileged experiences in our society.”

4. Assuming people with disabilities have no autonomy

Source: Getty

Source: Getty

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“There is a very narrow-minded perception of disability,” Cannington told Mic. “That narrow-minded assumption that all individuals with disabilities need and want certain things,” and assuming those individuals “constantly need help without actually asking the person [if they do],” is a common ableist experience Cannington and far too many others have faced.

“Automatically helping us without asking first should never be done,” Tiffiny Carlson said in a 2013 Huffington Postarticle. “We know when to ask for help. Just wait for us to speak up.”

5. Feeling entitled to know how people became disabled

Source: Getty

Source: Getty

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Able-bodied people will often assume that our existence represents some kind of mystery that they need to get to the bottom of,” Tatum explained at Everyday Feminism. But putting the onus on people with disabilities to explain themselves — to essentially describe how and why they live in their bodies — is inappropriate, unfair and insulting.

This frequently occurs, Tatum noted, among young children whose parents allow them to ask people with disabilities what happened to them, presumably because they believe the answer will provide a “social lesson” that underscores “the importance of tolerance and accepting difference.” In actuality, allowing children to do so just teaches them that “they are entitled to demand explanation and justification from everyone who’s different than them.”

“It’s not our job to educate anyone, children or adults,” Tatum said. “Everyone has the right to go about their day without being accosted.”

6. Assuming disability is always visible

Source: Getty

Source: Getty

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Though their experiences are undoubtedly distinct from individuals with physical disabilities, people with non-apparent disabilities certainly face ableism as well. There is pervasive stigma surrounding mental illness, for example, and it can and often does lead to inequitable treatment, such as forced institutionalization and medication and a lack of agency in treating one’s mental health, Cannington told Mic.

But beyond being denied the autonomy of making personal choices, this form of ableism may even cause individuals physical harm — especially when compounded with race and class. “People with psychiatric disabilities are disproportionately victims of police brutality because of ableism,” Cannington said. “It’s a huge form of ableism not often named as ableism.”

And mental illness is hardly the only non-apparent disability. Individuals who experience learning disabilities, developmental intellectual disabilities and even chronic illness may identify as disabled, for example, but because they are not predominately recognized as such may be denied the help and resources they need.

“As human beings we need to check our privileges in regards to our abilities,” Cannington concluded. “In order to harness the power and diversity and innovation of our society, we have to realize that our minds and bodies experience the world in very different ways. If we are able to create access and be more intentional about how we create access, then we are doing everyone good.”

 

Julie Zeilinger is a staff writer at Mic as well as the founder and editor of The FBomb (thefbomb.org), a feminist blog partnered with the Women’s Media Center. She is also the author of “A Little F’d Up: Why Feminism Is Not A Dirty Word” and “College 101: A Girl’s Guide to Freshman Year.”

 

Uber argues that as a technology company, it is not subject to laws regulating public transit and other transportation providers, such as the ADA, or “required to provide accessible vehicles or accommodations.”

An UBER application is shown as cars drive by in Washington, DC on March 25, 2015. Uber said it was ramping up safety in response to rape allegations against a driver in India and growing concerns about background checks for operators of the popular ride-sharing service. In other cities where Uber operates, critics had complained that a lack of licensing and background checks of drivers could imperil those who use the service. AFP PHOTO/ ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS        (Photo credit should read Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images)

An UBER application is shown as cars drive by in Washington, DC on March 25, 2015. AFP PHOTO/ ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS (Photo credit should read Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images)

Sometimes it slips Kristin Parisi’s mind that she’s disabled. After 25 years in a wheelchair—the result of a car accident when she was 5 years old—her means of transportation no longer registers as abnormal.

“It’s one of those things I forget—that I’m disabled—until someone tells me I am,” the 30-year-old public-relations executive says.

That reminder came in early April, when she left her office in Boston on a rainy day to meet an Uber she’d ordered on her phone. When the driver pulled up in his Mercedes sedan he took one look at her and said, “No, no, no.” He indicated her wheelchair. “That’s never going to fit in my car.” It would, Parisi replied—it fits easily into the trunk of her own compact car. After an extended argument, she gave up. She ended up getting a ride with a passerby and his teenage daughter.

A twice-weekly Uber customer of two years, Parisi was surprised by the slight. “The first incident was, I thought, a fluke,” she says. Two weeks later, she ordered another car on Uber. The woman behind the wheel again told Parisi her chair wouldn’t fit in the trunk. This time, Parisi didn’t take no for an answer. She says she loaded herself and her chair into the back of the car without help from the driver, only to receive an earful of abuse for the entire trip to the airport.

Parisi says the driver called her an “invalid” and said she “must not be a Christian” and needed to “develop thicker skin.” At the end of her ride, Parisi says the driver asked if she was going to give a bad review. “I said, ‘It has nothing to do with bad review, it has to do with illegal practice,’” she says. “‘You have to understand what you’re doing is not only mean—it’s against the law.’”

Uber has launched a war to make itself exempt from the anti-discrimination law.

The Americans with Disabilities Act was voted into law in 1990 to ensure equal rights and prevent discrimination of people with disabilities. Under the ADA, transportation providers are required by law to accommodate wheelchair users if the equipment can fit in their car.

Uber argues that as a technology company, it is not subject to laws regulating public transit and other transportation providers, such as the ADA, or “required to provide accessible vehicles or accommodations.”

Does the Americans with Disabilities Act apply to Uber? Is Uber a technology company, as its representatives contend, or is it a transportation company? A growing number of lawsuits may resolve larger issues relating to Uber’s business model and how the company eventually may be compelled to serve people in wheelchairs.  The ride-hailing app companies are currently under no requirements to provide wheelchair-access.

“The Department of Justice has found that the ADA does apply to Uber and its competitors,” said Carol Tyson, the director of disability policy at the United Spinal Association, referring to a statement of interest filed by the department in February concerning a lawsuit in California.

Federal lawyers intervened in the lawsuit filed by the National Federation of Blind alleging Uber violates the ADA. Uber moved to dismiss the case on the grounds it is a “technology company” but the Department of Justice disagreed.

Whether Uber is a tech or transport company may ultimately not matter, according to Clyde Terry, a member of the National Council on Disability, a government agency that advises the president and congress. The ADA applies to both classifications, Terry said.

“The question is whether the ride-sharing companies are actually public accommodations. If they are, then they are covered by Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act,” said Terry in an interview with WAMU 88.5

Terry contends that Uber and its competitors would be better off complying with the law than fighting litigation.  “One would think their business model would embrace the ADA rather than fight the ADA,” he said.

Uber has recently added the ability to order a wheelchair-accessible vehicle using its app in certain major cities like New York and San Francisco. But it’s unclear if or when the option will be available elsewhere.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/05/21/uber-disability-laws-don-t-apply-to-us.html

http://wamu.org/news/15/08/17/uber_does_not_serve_disabled_people_say_dc_advocates

http://fortune.com/2015/05/22/uber-lyft-disabled/

A man found an eagle’s egg and put it in a nest of a barnyard hen. The eaglet hatched with the brood of chicks and grew up with them. All his life the eagle did what the barnyard chickens did, thinking he was a barnyard chicken. He scratched the earth for worms and insects. He clucked, cackled, and would thrash his wings and fly a few feet into the air.

Years passed and the eagle grew to adulthood. One day he saw a magnificent bird high above him in a cloudless sky. It glided in graceful majesty among the powerful wind currents with scarcely a beat of its strong golden wings.

The eagle looked up in awe. “Who’s that?” he asked.

“That’s the eagle, the king of birds,” said his friend. “He belongs to the sky. We belong to the earth- -we’re chickens.”

So the eagle lived and died a chicken, for that’s what he thought he was. (Anthony de Mello)

Freedom Friday: Art + Accessibility

When the milestone Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed on July 26, 1990, individuals with disabilities were guaranteed equal access to social realms that most of us take for granted: employment, public transportation, and commercial facilities such as shopping malls, restaurants, and hotels.

Today’s Freedom Friday shares examples of “capturing the spirit of the law (ADA) by making art accessible to every American.”

According to our new Arts Data Profile #7, the 2012 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts showed that the nearly 28 million U.S. adults, or 12 percent of the adult population, who have some type of disability were equally likely as all adults to have engaged in some forms of arts participation, such as creating visual arts, doing creative writing, or consuming art via electronic media. Not every mind or body will experience art the same way. But every mind and body is entitled to the experience.

Beyond applause, artistic exhibitions and festivals offer participants a chance to interact with the wider community in a way that’s typically difficult.  The conversation shifts, and becomes about the artwork rather than about a person’s physical condition. “When [audience members] see and experience the art, that’s a connection to the individual as a person and not as a person with a disability,”

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the law’s passage, The NEA Arts publication Art + Accessibility (see link below) highlights organizations and individuals that capture the spirit of the law by making art accessible to every American—something the NEA supports and strives to achieve. We explore how museums bring visual art to those with limited sight, and how the Matheny Medical and Educational Center enables people with severe disabilities to create their own masterpieces. We also look at how acclaimed architect Michael Graves used his own disability to transform healthcare design, how theater can build confidence in children who stutter, and how the inaugural DisArt Festival is challenging people’s notions of what it means—and doesn’t mean—to be an artist with a disability.

http://arts.gov/sites/default/files/nea_arts/FINAL_NEA%20Arts_1_2015.pdf

Freedom Resource Center is proud to host the 3rd annual “Art of Freedom”, October 20, 2015.  The event will take place at Dakota Medical Foundation, 4141 28th Avenue South, Fargo, ND.  For an application or information on submitting original artistic creations, contact Wanda at 701-478-0459 or wandal@freedomrc.org.  Submissions are due by October 13, 2015.

By Pam Fessler (http://www.npr.org/people/2100470/pam-fessler)

http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/07/23/424990474/why-disability-and-poverty-still-go-hand-in-hand-25-years-after-landmark-law

If you have a disability in the U.S., you’re twice as likely to be poor as someone without a disability. You’re also far more likely to be unemployed. And that gap has widened in the 25 years since the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act was enacted.

“Every man, woman and child with a disability can now pass through once-closed doors into a bright new era of equality, independence and freedom,” President George H.W. Bush said when he signed the bill into law on July 26, 1990.

The ADA banned discrimination based on disability and was intended to ensure equal opportunity in employment — as well as government services and public accommodations, commercial facilities and public transportation.

But it hasn’t always worked that way, especially when it comes to expanding economic opportunity for the 58 million Americans with physical and mental disabilities.

Paralyzed, But Still In Pursuit Of His Dreams

You just have to look at what 27-year-old Emeka Nnaka of Tulsa, Okla., goes through on an average day to understand some of the reasons why.

Six years ago, Nnaka was playing semipro football for the Oklahoma Thunder when he went to make a tackle and broke his neck.

“I remember players saying, ‘Meka … you gotta get up. Let’s go.’ And I remember telling them, ‘Give me a second,’ ” recalls Nnaka. “And one second turned to two seconds turned to three seconds.”

He was paralyzed from his chest down. Today, Nnaka gets around in a motorized wheelchair, and has limited use of his hands.

But he still has big dreams. He plans to finish his undergraduate education this summer and start working on a master’s degree in human relations. He wants to become a licensed counselor, and hopes someday to have a home and a family he can support.

One key to his success could be the new accessible van he received in December with help from the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services and a group of friends, who held an online fundraising campaign for him, #MakeMekaMobile.

 

Before the van, Nnaka had to rely on a special lift service provided by the city to get around. But those rides had to be booked at least a day in advance, and often involved long waits and complicated schedules.

“I’d spend about three hours in transportation daily when I was riding the lift. So think about three hours out of your day in which you’re not doing anything,” he says.

As a result, it was extremely difficult to get anything done. Without the van, Nnaka says, it would have taken him all day to run an errand he recently did in about an hour and a half: going to a staffing agency to fill out paperwork for a job.

Nnaka runs an errand at a local Wal-Mart before heading home in Tulsa. Before he got his own van, Nnaka had to rely on a special lift service provided by the city to get around. Kenneth M. Ruggiano for NPR

Nnaka runs an errand at a local Wal-Mart before heading home in Tulsa. Before he got his own van, Nnaka had to rely on a special lift service provided by the city to get around.
Kenneth M. Ruggiano for NPR

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Problems Start In The Parking Lot

Just having a job is highly unusual for someone with a disability. Fewer than 1 in 5 disabled adults are employed, one reason so many are poor.

The local United Way has hired Nnaka for a part-time position to talk about the group’s work with programs for disabled individuals, including at the Center for Individuals with Physical Challenges, where Nnaka volunteers.

But when he got to the staffing agency, he ran into a number of challenges that those with disabilities often face.

The problems started outside the building, where the strip next to the handicapped space where he parked was too narrow for the ramp he uses to unload his wheelchair. He had to park over the line on the other side to get out. He says if another vehicle had been parked in the adjoining space, he would have been stuck.

And when Nnaka wheeled up to the front door, he found that there was no button to push to open it automatically. The building was constructed before the ADA, and while ADA standards highly recommend automation of exterior doors, it’s not required. He had to wedge the side of one arm under the handle, cracking the door open slightly. He then wiggled his chair back and forth like a crowbar to get in.

When Nnaka got into the tiny elevator, he couldn’t turn his chair around to reach the buttons. Fortunately, there was another passenger to help.

Once inside the staffing agency, he had to move the computer mouse slowly with a clenched fist to fill out nine pages of forms.

This former athlete seems to struggle through even the smallest task. Still, Nnaka hopes to show employers that it’s worth hiring him and others who face similar challenges, that they have a lot to offer. He says one problem facing people with disabilities is that many companies think they’re not up to the job, or think hiring them is not worth the effort.

‘Employers Are Scared To Hire Us’

And there is a vigorous debate over why so many individuals with disabilities are unemployed. According to the Employment and Disability Institute at Cornell University, 28.4 percent of disabled adults worked in 1990, compared with 14.4 percent in 2013.

Debbie Eagle, who’s been blind since birth, is one of Nnaka’s colleagues at the Center for Individuals with Physical Challenges. She volunteers there, teaching the visually impaired how to use technology.

Debbie Eagle, a 43-year-old who has been blind since birth, says she can't find work, even though she has a bachelor's degree in special education. She volunteers at the Center for Individuals with Physical Challenges in Tulsa. Kenneth M. Ruggiano for NPR

Debbie Eagle, a 43-year-old who has been blind since birth, says she can’t find work, even though she has a bachelor’s degree in special education. She volunteers at the Center for Individuals with Physical Challenges in Tulsa.
Kenneth M. Ruggiano for NPR

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She says she’d really like if either she or her husband — who is also visually impaired — could find a well-paying job so that they are “not dependent on the government.”

But try as she might, the 43-year-old says, she can’t seem to find work, even though she has a bachelor’s degree in special education. Eagle blames employer ignorance — as well as the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“Employers are scared to hire us,” says Eagle, “because they don’t know what kind of accommodations we require. And if they don’t meet what we consider to be reasonable accommodations, they’re afraid we’ll sue them.”

Eagle says she can’t prove that this is the reason, but she’s pretty sure it is.

Michael Morris, executive director of the National Disability Institute in Washington, D.C., agrees that some employers are hesitant to hire people with disabilities.

“Attitudes change slowly,” he says, adding that he doesn’t think there’s a single reason for the gap between the employment rate for those with disabilities and those without.

After a class Eagle teaches to the visually impaired on how to use technology, she helps her students navigate their way into the hall. In addition to her volunteer work, Eagle plays piano at the center. Kenneth M. Ruggiano for NPR

After a class Eagle teaches to the visually impaired on how to use technology, she helps her students navigate their way into the hall. In addition to her volunteer work, Eagle plays piano at the center.
Kenneth M. Ruggiano for NPR

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘The System Is Not Set Up To Succeed’

Morris says a lack of accessible transportation is one big problem for disabled individuals trying to work or go to school. And he says that students with disabilities are less likely to graduate from high school and college, putting them at a disadvantage in a competitive workplace.

He says another obstacle to employment is that if recipients of federal disability payments save more than $2,000, they risk losing their benefits, including medical care.

“The decision becomes, ‘Wow, I think I’m going to just stay put where I am.’ Which is the equivalent of a life sentence of poverty,” Morris says.

In fact, that asset limit was a big problem for Nnaka when donations began pouring in for his new van. At one point, he says, he kept $4,000 in cash in the closet of the small apartment he shares with his father. If he had put the money in the bank, he could have lost the $700 monthly disability check he needs to survive.

The irony, he says, is that the money was earmarked for buying a van that he would use to go to school and get a job — making him less reliant on government aid.

“The system is not set up to succeed,” Nnaka says.

Nnaka's father, Phillip, asks him for help figuring out a problem he is having with his phone in the apartment they share. Kenneth M. Ruggiano for NPR

Nnaka’s father, Phillip, asks him for help figuring out a problem he is having with his phone in the apartment they share.
Kenneth M. Ruggiano for NPR

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Morris says the outlook is improving, though. Congress recently passed a law that will soon allow some disabled adults to save more money by establishing special accounts — exempt from the cap — in which certain savings can be placed. Federal contractors are also required to set goals for hiring more disabled workers. And Morris says a growing number of students with disabilities are earning degrees and getting internships.

“That actual experience does more to change attitudes, change perception, right through to their HR offices that say, ‘Wow, hidden talent pool. Let’s explore it,’ ” says Morris.

He thinks, though, that it could take another 25 years before the promise of economic independence envisioned by the ADA is achieved.

Nnaka agrees that many doors have been opened since the law was enacted, but he says it hasn’t been enough.

“There’s so much more that people with disabilities need, to be inclusive and included in this society. To have just the same opportunity that anybody else has,” he says.

Unfortunately, he adds, the ADA has led many people to believe that all the barriers are gone.

Poverty, Disability and Employment

There is a widening gap between those with work-limiting disabilities and those without when it comes to household income, employment and poverty.

You can view the chart in the original article.

http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/07/23/424990474/why-disability-and-poverty-still-go-hand-in-hand-25-years-after-landmark-law