Wishing you peace and wellbeing as you lift each other up emotionally and spiritually by your kinds words and actions.

I believe that you control your destiny, that you can be what you want to be. You can also stop and say, ‘No, I won’t do it, I won’t behave this way anymore. I’m lonely and I need people around me, maybe I have to change my methods of behaving,’ and then you do it.  (Leo Buscaglia)

Wishing you peace and wellbeing as you control your destiny.

PS: Remember to hold the one’s you love just a little closer and tighter this week.

12 Steps for Self Care

  1. If it feels wrong, don’t do it.
  2. Say “exactly” what you mean.
  3. Don’t be a people pleaser.
  4. Trust your instincts.
  5. Never speak bad about yourself.
  6. Never give up on your dreams.
  7. Don’t be afraid to say “No”.
  8. Don’t be afraid to say “Yes”.
  9. Be KIND to yourself.
  10. Let go of what you can’t control.
  11. Stay away from drama and negativity.
  12. LOVE

Wishing you peace and wellbeing as you work your 12 steps.

PS: Remember to hold the one’s you love just a little closer and tighter this week.

(source of the 12 Steps for Self Care is unknown – found in multiple sources)

 

Accommodating people with disability isn’t that hard; it’s partly about putting in effort but mostly, it’s about having the right attitude, as this story shows.

When Aaron Seldomridge first visited a Starbucks in Ephrata, Pennsylvania, he was with his mom, Janiece. Aaron has autism and Janiece asked barista Anisa Dujnic if they had a picture menu. Yes, they did. Anisa and Janiece helped Aaron to point to an image of an iced grande chai and repeat the words. A few weeks later, Aaron went to the counter with his mom and placed his order without the menu. And then, he started putting in his request — and paying for it — on his own.

Because Aaron was in an environment in which he felt encouraged and comfortable, he was confident enough to go it alone. “It’s great steps for him to take as a person,” Anisa said.

Really, it didn’t take much, just a little attention. Some customer customization–no more than goes into making, say, a mocha frap.

Stories like this make you wonder why accommodating kids and adults with disabilities seems like such a big deal to some people. Yes, on the surface this is just about serving a drink, which doesn’t take a whole lot of effort.

But at its heart, as special needs parents like me know, this isn’t “just” about a barista going the extra mile. It’s about a mindset: The readiness to give extra assistance to someone who needs it. The openness to working with the person with disability or a parent to figure out what can help. The willingness to find another way. The patience for letting things take their course. And the pure humanity of celebrating another person’s success.

I’d say this story is the exception, not the rule, in terms of attitudes toward welcoming people with disabilities. I know this firsthand from experiences with my son, Max, who has cerebral palsy — most recently, the program coordinator who flat out refused to accommodate him. Even within the Starbucks world, with its typically welcoming atmosphere, it boils down to individual mindsets (despite what the law might say); at one Starbucks in Brighton, NY, a woman with a brain injury who has a service dogsaid she taped an employee telling her that she could not come in with her dog.

Welcoming and accommodating kids and adults with disability should be a natural, organic part of society.

It’s so simple.

It’s no biggie.

If only….

Article by Ellen Seidman.  Ellen blogs about kids with special needs, she is a mother, and a magazine editor.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ellen-seidman/everyone-should-treat-peo_b_5754600.html?utm_hp_ref=email_share

June 1, 2014 | by Stephen Luntz


 

photo credit: PETA. An example of the misleading advertising

PETA have released online advertisements using two discredited studies to link autism to dairy consumption.

Unusually for PETA, the ad admits to a certain element of doubt. “More research is needed, but scientific studies have shown that many autistic kids improve dramatically when put on a diet free of dairy foods”. However, that is as far as the uncertainty goes. They patch up the limited studies with anecdotal accounts of anonymous parents whose children supposedly got better after being taken off milk products.

What PETA do not admit is that this further research has already been done and it shows that for all the reasons to give up dairy, a connection to autism is not one of them. The two studies PETA relies on had sample sizes of just 36 and 20 people respectively, barely enough for a pilot study. Dr Emma Burrows, an autism researcher at The Florey, Australia’s largest neuroscience institute, expressed concern about the statement. ”The balance of evidence suggests that this link does not deserve any media attention,” said Burrows. “This is just adding to the multitude of conflicting and bewildering recommendations that parents of children with autism have to sift through.”

The PETA ad also glosses over the initial papers concluding that gluten (usually from non-animal products) was as harmful as casein from milk products, the alleged source of the problem. Some children are indeed negatively affected by casein and should definitely be given diets free of animal milk, particularly that from cows, which is higher in casein than that of many other mammals. However, evidence for a connection to autism was always weak and has now been firmly discredited.

 

I discovered that people are not really afraid of dying; they’re afraid of not ever having lived, not ever having deeply considered their life’s higher purpose, and not ever having stepped into that purpose and at least tried to make a difference in this world.  (Joseph Jaworski. Synchronicity: The Inner Path of Leadership.)

Wishing you peace and well being as you make a difference in this world.

PS: Remember to hold the one’s you love just a little closer and tighter this week.

A PROCLAMATION BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

Americans with disabilities lead thriving businesses, teach our children, and serve our Nation; they are innovators and pioneers of technology.  In urban centers and rural communities, they carry forward our Nation’s legacy of hard work, responsibility, and sacrifice, and their contributions strengthen our economy and remind us that all Americans deserve the opportunity to participate fully in society.  During National Disability Employment Awareness Month, we celebrate the Americans living with disabilities, including significant disabilities, who enrich our country, and we reaffirm the simple truth that each of us has something to give to the American story.

This year’s theme, “Expect. Employ. Empower.,” reminds us that every American has a right to dignity, respect, and a fair shot at success in the workplace.  For too long, workers with disabilities were measured by what people thought they could not do, depriving our Nation and economy of the full talents and contributions of millions of Americans.  Nearly 25 years ago, the Americans with Disabilities Act codified the promise of an equal opportunity for everyone who worked hard, and in the years since, Americans with disabilities have reached extraordinary heights.  But when employees with disabilities are passed over in the workplace or denied fair accommodations, it limits their potential and threatens our democracy; when disproportionate numbers of Americans with disabilities remain unemployed, more work must be done to achieve the spirit of what is one of the most comprehensive civil rights bills in the history of our country.

My Administration remains committed to tearing down the barriers that prevent Americans with disabilities from living fully independent, integrated lives.  We have supported programs that more effectively prepare workers, including those with disabilities, for high-growth, high-demand careers, and we have found new ways to encourage businesses to foster flexible workplaces that are open to diverse skills.  We are also working to ensure those living with disabilities have access to the resources that support employment, including accessible housing, transportation, and technology.

Meaningful careers not only provide ladders of opportunity into the middle class, but they also give us a sense of purpose and self-worth.  When Americans with disabilities live without the fear of discrimination, they are free to make of their
lives what they will.  This month, we renew our commitment to cultivate a more inclusive workforce, and we continue our efforts to build a society where everyone who works hard has a chance to get ahead.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim October 2014 as National Disability Employment Awareness Month.  I urge all Americans to embrace the talents and skills that individuals with disabilities bring to our workplaces and communities and to promote the right to equal employment opportunity for all people.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirtieth day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand fourteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-ninth.

BARACK OBAMA

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go… (Theodor Seuss Geisel – Dr Seuss)

Wishing you peace and wellbeing as you decide what direction you will go.

PS: Remember to hold the one’s you love just a little closer and tighter this week.

By Micah Solomon, Contributor, Forbes

Kanye West just set the new record for insensitivity to customers with disabilities: Last night he stopped his show in Sydney to insist that two disabled audience members–one who was forced to prove that he couldn’t get out of his wheelchair, one who was forced to wave his prosthetic leg–get up and dance. Kanye (not actually being Jesus) was ultimately unable to get them on their feet, even after inciting the rest of the crowd to loudly boo them for holding up the show.

My question for you as a businessperson, as a leader, is this:  How does that story make you feel?  Probably a bit angry, but maybe also a wee bit smug? “We wouldn’t treat people that way around here.”

It’s understandably easy to feel smug about and removed from the most outrageous, visible abuses of customers with disabilities, whether from a clueless Kanye encouraging 10,000 people to boo someone with a prosthetic leg or from the clothing retailer Ann Klein when its store made news by refusing entry to a loyal, blind customer with a service dog.

These are straightforward offenses compared to the more subtle insults and daily insensitivity encountered by customers–perhaps in your own organization. Here, I want to call your attention to subtle aggravations you may be causing to potentially fabulous customers—and what to do about it.

A large and growing part of your customer base: A bottom-line reason to care

People with disabilities constitute a large and growing segment of the population. Furthermore, the public whom you serve includes an even larger, and also growing, proportion of people who are children of, parents of, spouses of, siblings of, or simply fond of people with disabilities. Don’t assume that showing active kindness to this segment will go unrewarded or that callousness will go unnoticed.

The best attitude to take

Strive to visibly and actively welcome and encourage people with disabilities–from the moment of entry, which is a very important touchpoint in every business and often the first place someone with a disability encounters what seems to them like ignorance or even hostility.

Your company’s entrance—your visual ‘‘hello’’—is where your attitude toward customers with disabilities is most clearly on display. I do understand how in some business settings, after years with nobody in a wheelchair showing up, keeping your ramps clear and in top condition may seem like a service to . . . exactly nobody. But I don’t think of it that way. Instead, I want you to consider that by visibly inviting and welcoming disabled clients you send a powerful message not only to them, but to their families, friends, and the myriad others who care about them. It says that you have broken down barriers to entry; you’re on the right side of this issue.

Many disabilities are subtle

People in our society with disabilities include those who use wheelchairs and many who don’t, in fact the majority of physically challenged customers don’t use wheelchairs or scooters.  (The universal use of the wheelchair symbol to indicate disability may be responsible for this common misconception.)  The spectrum includes visual disabilities of greater and lesser severity, chronic pain, lack of manual dexterity and other issues that are less visible–or invisible!– yet affect our customers and their loved ones.

This is a good reason to use ‘‘universal access’’ levers for all your doors (doing a few of them doesn’t cut it) instead of round doorknobs at all of your points of entry, on restroom facilities, and wherever else possible within your facility. It’s also an important reason to make doors self-closing and only lightly weighted. It is a good investment to read some of the best source books on this subject: Directly or indirectly, thousands of dollars have likely been spent—or should be spent—making the ‘‘bones’’ of your facility appropriate for disabled customers; your research will ensure that investment is used appropriately.

Roadblocks you may not be aware of in your facility

Barriers can occur at many places other than entry and exit points. For someone using a wheelchair, a single narrow hallway with no reasonable and clearly marked alternate route can botch the whole deal. Here are some other bottlenecks  I’ve seen that shout ‘‘I don’t care much about you!’’

  • A celebrated spa that always has a fresh floral arrangement perched on (and thus blocking the use of) the toilet stall’s grab bar
  • A lavishly renovated espresso cafe—with a juice cooler jutting out to make the turn into the restroom impossible in a wheelchair
  • The railing for a bustling National Park Service gift shop’s ramp that is entirely obscured by overflow merchandise
    Office building elevators that have the slot for keycard access placed high above the buttons
  • The many businesses that put their vehicles and dumpsters in the cross-hatched areas next to handicapped spaces, apparently unaware that this area is necessary for wheelchair and scooter loading and unloading

In addition to the physical aspects of your facility, it is important to consider the way your staff interacts with the physically challenged guests they are assisting. Too often I see service workers towering over a guest in a wheelchair or grabbing a visually impaired guest by the arm in an attempt to guide her somewhere (rather than offering an arm for the guest to take). There are plenty of good training programs on the market for how to properly serve disabled customers. It is well worth investing in one.

Visual and auditory disabilities, and technological change

Visual and auditory disabilities are also quite common. Make sure you’re creating an unusually positive ‘‘greeting’’ for such customers and their allies, in person and online. The web has huge potential as an equalizer for people with sight and hearing loss.  As a first step, make sure you aren’t inadvertently slamming a virtual door in their faces in any of these common ways:

  • Inappropriate use of CAPTCHAS:  Efforts to block spammers and hacker (certainly important) can also end up barring disabled customers, in this case those with visual impairments. Websites frequently require the input of a CAPTCHA (CAPTCHA is a laborious acronym for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart) to join a site or use its contact forms; but by doing so without an audio alternative or other non-visual substitute, it also blocks out customers who have sight impairments.

This is bad business, unethical and potentially illegal, by violating Section 508.2 (Section 508, an amendment to the United States Workforce Rehabilitation Act of 1973, is the federal law requiring that all electronic and information technology developed, procured, maintained or used by the federal government be accessible to people with disabilities—further defining “accessibility” as the ability to be used as effectively by those with disabilities as by those without.) Note, though, that many of the available audio alternatives to CAPTCHAs are incredibly difficult to use as well (try one out yourself and see), so be thoughtful in choosing and implementing these, too.

  • Lack of appropriate channel flexibility and design in customer service and customer support: Be sensitive to this when providing customer care. Not all your customers can interact with your IVR (interactive voice response telephone systems). They may have hearing loss or vocal limitations to the point that it’s not possible.
  • Inappropriate web design: Not everyone can see the graphics-intensive Website you’re so proud of. It may be entirely unreadable by blind customers who depend on screen-reading technology. This is why it’s so important that you follow good accessibility protocols in designing your Website. (If your Web designer says, “What’s that?” or “That’s not important” when you bring up accessibility, take your business elsewhere or partner your Web designer with an expert in this area.)

To give a simple example of what you need to watch out for, consider the issue of graphics without readable alt tags. An alt (alternate) tag describes or substitutes for the image when using a text reader. Think of it as a caption. Make sure your web team checks the comprehensiveness and accuracy of your alt tags just as carefully as you proofread your site for, say, dead links.

How you treat employees may reflect the spirit of Kanye as well

Part of the mistake that Kanye made was this:  he assumed that everyone in his audience could comfortably stand up and dance– that if you weren’t visibly disabled, then sitting down meant you’re a slacker or an ingrate who was refusing to get with the program. He actually got thousand upon thousand of fans to chant “stand up, stand up” all the way to the point where it was clear they couldn’t. But are you doing the same at your office?  For example: in holding trendy “standup meetings.” While I strongly endorse short, even microscopic meeting lengths, calling them “standup meetings” and taking the chairs out of the office is incredibly discriminatory.  Many, many employees (as well as at least as many of your customers) are unable to do, physically, everything that a fully able-bodied person is.  And they shouldn’t have to humiliate themselves, to “out” themselves, to get this point across.

 

Micah Solomon is a customer service consultant, customer experience consultant, speaker and the bestselling author most recently of High-Tech, High-Touch Customer Service

http://www.forbes.com/sites/micahsolomon/2014/09/14/are-you-as-bad-as-kanye-heres-how-to-fix-your-customer-service-experience-for-customers-with-disabilities/

 

In this bathroom there is no room to turn a wheelchair around and close the bathroom door. The door swing should swing toward the bathroom wall, not into the bathroom.