Monday, October 20, 2014

Vote for ChiPubSchools to receive Funds from to build barn for Chicago Equestrian program, opportunities to special needs children and adults!

The Farmers Insurance Dream Big Challenge is giving away five $100,000 grants to teachers across the country. We've narrowed it down to 15 finalists, and you can vote for your favorite through November at Learn more about our finalists and the big dreams they have for their communities.

Chicago High School for Agriculture Sciences is home to Chicago’s only working farm and is the only viable location for an equestrian program for regular and special needs kids and adults. The school’s population comprises 13 percent special needs students and 50 percent of the families are below the poverty level. Currently, students can only ride outside and, with Chicago winter’s being what they are, this severely limits the time the students have with the specially-trained horses. If Kendall were to win the $100,000 grant, she’d help fund an indoor arena, which would not only extend the program year round but also offer more opportunities to special needs children and adults throughout the area.

VOTE for  Raise the Barn Roof

"Open Dialog with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission" on Disability Issues - Webcast Oct 21 - rsvp

as posted at ADA Online Learning / ADA National Network

The ADA Audio Conference Series provides in-depth information on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This program is designed to enhance an individual's existing knowledge base or facilitate continued learning regarding regulations and trends under the ADA.
Join in for one of the most popular sessions in the ADA Audio Conference Series. Listen to an update on EEOC Enforcement and Guidance Activities and pose your questions to our speaker. This is an interactive session and you are encouraged to bring your tough issues and concerns forward. Learn from what others may be experiencing and the questions and issues that they may have as well.

Sharon Rennert, Senior Attorney Advisor, ADA and Gina Division, Office of Legal Counsel, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Date:  October 21, 2014
Time:  2:00pm -3:30pm ET (calculate the start time based on where you are joining from)

Registration is available at

Connecting via webinar platform - No charge
Connecting via Toll Free Telephone - $25.00 Per connection (non-profit) and $40.00 Per Connection (for-profit)

This session is real-time captioned via the webinar platform.

Questions regarding this session or registration can be directed to or by calling 877-232-1990 (V/TTY)

Fake Service Dogs on the rise, as Disabled Face Discrimination


Easy to purchase knock-off vests causing problems for disabled

as reported by Paul Giorgio, Special Projects Producer for |Oct 19, 2014

It takes months of training and a major financial investment for a dog to become a certified service animal. But that's not stopping able-bodied people from claiming their ordinary pets are trained service dogs.
It's the latest trend in pet accessories, and it's based on deception. A growing number of dog owners are dressing their pets up in fake service vests to gain access to public spaces.
Whether out of convenience or companionship, critics say it's cutting into the rights of the disabled.
The vests are easily available online. One could be purchased along with 50 ID cards for $19.95. No proof of service dog training was required to make the purchase.
Kristie Baker knows the practice well. Baker, a polio survivor, has been using service dogs for over 20 years. She said the last five years or so there's been a shift in how she's treated by businesses.
Baker finds herself answering more questions from suspicious managers.
"We've been questioned probably ten times more since people have been able to get 'I'm a working dog' harnesses online," said Baker. "All of a sudden it's like, 'What are you bringing that dog in for? Is it there to help you?'"
Baker worries that the rights of all disabled people are being eroded by uneducated and careless pet owners.
"The pet dogs misbehave, they'll bark, they'll growl at people or they'll pee inside a building. Merchants are becoming a little bit cautious," Baker said.
Canine Companions for Independence, a nonprofit organization that provides trained assistance dogs for the disabled, has drafted a petition asking the Justice Department for action.
The group hopes to have 50,000 signatures by March. At which time they hope to take the issue to local and national legislators.
Web Extra: View the petition
CCI instructor Jen Hanes trains service dogs. She said service dogs spend months at a facility learning how to stay calm and focused in crowded environments.
Hanes said without proper training pets can be nervous, anxious and defensive in crowded situations -- a potentially dangerous combination for both the animal and patrons.
"They haven't had any training out in public," Hanes said. "So they go out, they're exposed to another dog or exposed to different sounds, distractions in the environment and it causes inappropriate behavior. The dog is acting out. It could definitely be a threat to a disabled handler, someone who may not have the same amount of strength or reaction speed than an able bodied handler has." 
Hanes said a common excuse owners use is that the pet dog is there for emotional support. A distinction not covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Service dogs must be able to perform a task.
"If they say, 'Oh well, the dog's presence helps me,' or, 'I like having the dog near me.' You want to make sure that it's actually doing a task," said Hanes.
Hanes said she's seen first hand how the dogs she trains change lives. She's worried that a few bad actors may take away some of her students' new found independence.
"For them to come along with a legitimate service dog and be denied access because of the poor behavior the person before them or the dog before them is really unfortunate," said Hanes. "Ultimately it doesn't effect just you, it affects many other people."
Advocates stop short of asking for a nationwide ID card or other government permit. They say a significant number of people train their own service dogs and added documentation could be an added burden. 2014 by Graham Media Group. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed


For all posts related on the 'Fake' Service Animal epidemic: CLICK HERE

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Getting a rise out of RISE (viewpoint on diversity initiative of people with disabilities)

interesting article by Kiran Misra, as published in The Chicago Maroon (The student newspaper of The University of Chicago) | Oct 17, 2014


The first sentence of an e-mail from the campus diversity initiative RISE about upcoming speaker Blake Leeper, a Paralympian athlete, reads, “Blake Leeper was raised to believe that the only disability in life is a bad attitude.” Seems harmless right? Complimentary even? Not so fast. Such statements bring with them a number of complex implications for the view nondisabled people have of disability.

This is not admiration. This is not empowerment. Quotes like these, plastered across pictures of people with disabilities, are a demonstration of nondisabled people dismissing disability as a matter of attitude, which means they can avoid addressing the real problems—inaccessibility and discrimination. There are barriers for people with disabilities that extend far beyond “attitude,” because this world was literally built by nondisabled people for nondisabled people. The world is, in fact, very inaccessible, and smiling at a steep set of stairs isn’t going to turn it into a ramp; thinking optimistically about troubling and deep-rooted attitudinal barriers, which cause employers to underpay and under-hire people with physical and mental disabilities, isn’t going to erase these conceptions and get you a job. This quote and many others like it are prime examples of victim-blaming in the form of a micro-aggression that serves only to perpetuate inequities in society.

And that’s what makes this such a problem—ableism is complex and often carefully hidden behind a layer of apparent harmlessness. It is very often not ill-intentioned. And this is true of all other -isms as well—sexism, racism, and ageism to name a few. Discriminatory and demeaning behavior isn’t restricted to violent hate crimes, outright slurs, and genocide.

This sort of media that exploits disability to prove a fallacious point about optimism has a name, albeit a colloquial one—inspiration porn. Inspiration porn typically consists of an image of a person with a visible physical disability, emblazoned with a quote like the aforementioned “the only disability in life is a bad attitude,” or, “your excuse is invalid,” or, “before you quit, try.”

This inspiration porn only exists so that nondisabled people can put their worries into perspective. It exploits the assumption that no matter how bad something is in a nondisabled person’s life, it could not possibly be as bad as having a disability. These feel-good tools, as “inspiration,” are based on the assumption that people with disabilities have terrible lives, and that it takes extra courage to live them. In fact, it is rare to find any representation of disability in popular media that doesn’t use the derogatory language: “suffers from,” “victim of,” “defying the odds,” “wheelchair bound/confined,” or the ever-misleading “overcoming disability.”

But the fact of the matter is that oftentimes people physically can’t “overcome” their disability. When people use the phrase “overcoming disability,” what they are actually referring to is overcoming the societal barriers put in place by an ableist society. This occurs in such a way that it removes the burden from the parties responsible for this discriminatory behavior and foists it upon those being discriminated against. It removes a person’s humanity and individuality. This is not a compliment. This is using the extraordinary achievements of a few people with disabilities to shame other people with disabilities who need accommodations. People with disabilities are not here to serve simply as living, breathing models of inspiration. This sort of behavior is reductive and objectifying.

Using a snapshot of people with disabilities as a tool to convey a message to, primarily, non-disabled people, involves playing on stereotypes and assumptions. Few people portrayed in these pictures are ever labeled with their name. And that is exactly the point. It does not matter who the people in these photographs are, as long as their representation is enough to guilt nondisabled people into action. These pictures create a pressure that asserts that disabled people are not ever allowed to be mad or frustrated, because that would no longer be “inspirational,” would no longer be “overcoming.”

That’s why I don’t think that people with disabilities are inherently “inspirational” by merit of existing. For the same reason that I don’t think that all Asians are smart, that all black people are good at basketball. Because these are stereotypes. These are dehumanizing. They force an entire group of people to conform to one characteristic imposed on them externally and punish them if they fail to meet the impossible standards. This is apparent in cases even as recent as the media portrayal of Mike Brown’s murder—because he wasn’t white, one small transgression in his past landed him in the “no angel” category, whereas people from privileged groups would be given free passes for falling within the human realm of mistakes and limitations. The same applies to people with disabilities and their apparent duties as inspirations. One small step out of line and harsh criticism and labels abound. 

This is the privilege of being an “unmarked” person, a privilege from which many of us here at the University of Chicago benefit. We get to define how people see us, largely free of assumptions based on certain combinations of race and gender as well as ability. It is time we see all minority groups for what they are—diverse, complex, and multidimensional people. Not an inspiration. Not an idea. People with disabilities are worth more than being depicted as objects to spur action in their nondisabled peers and it is mere exploitation to think otherwise.

The fact of the matter is that until people with disabilities have the same rights and access that nondisabled people do, it’s not only patronizing and objectifying to assert that their only barrier to full participation in society is access, it’s actually a severe barrier to any sort of societal equality. Until we stop pretending that disability is just a matter of attitude, there is no pressure for anyone to address with the real human rights violations that occur when people with disabilities are denied access to participation in society. This is a right that is violated every day, all around the world, a hundred times over. It’s time we stop sugar-coating it.

DISCLAIMER: A current debate within the disability rights activism community is the usage of person-first versus identity-first language (‘person with a disability’ versus ‘disabled person’). Many activists prefer person-first language, because it asserts that someone isn’t defined by any single qualifying characteristic. However, how each person chooses to identify is up to them and my use of person-first language in this article in no way asserts it is the unanimously right thing to do. It needs to be considered individually by the person being described individually on a case-by-case basis.

Kiran Misra is a second-year in the College majoring in public policy and comparative human developement.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Medicare: What You Need to Know when starting

Consumer Reports
Medicare comes in four parts, each of which covers particular services or types of insurance. Virtually everybody who gets Medicare eventually enrolls in the first two parts, which have been around since the program started in 1966.
  • Part A covers hospital inpatient care, some types of home health care, hospice care, and care in skilled nursing facilities. There is no premium for Part A if you or your spouse has earned at least 40 Social Security work credits. (Here are your options if you don't have those credits.)
  • Part B covers doctor services, outpatient hospital care, preventive care, and some types of home health care. You have to pay a monthly premium for Part B. In 2014, it's $104.90 for individuals with an income of less than $85,000 a year and couples with an income of less than $170,000. Higher-income beneficiaries pay more.
The second two parts were added later.
  • Part C, also known as Medicare Advantage, is an alternate way of getting your Part A and Part B benefits. Instead of the government paying your provider directly, Part C plans are run by Medicare-approved private insurance companies. If you elect to get your benefits through Part C, you must also be enrolled in Part A and Part B.
  • Part D covers prescription drugs. This is an optional benefit that is only available through private insurance companies. Most Medicare Advantage plans include Part D. 
For more details on exactly what each part of Medicare covers, see Medicare's website.
No matter how you choose to receive your Medicare benefits, you will receive certain preventive services for free, such as immunizations and screening tests for breast and colon cancer.
When you can enroll
The "initial enrollment period" for Medicare consists of the three months before, the month of, and the three months after your 65th birthday. If you want your coverage to start the month you turn 65, sign up during that first three-month period.
If you are already receiving Social Security, Medicare will automatically enroll you. If not, you must enroll on your own either online through or at a Social Security office.
When to enroll in Part A
Nearly everyone who becomes eligible for Medicare should enroll in Part A immediately, because it has no premium. This is true even if you are still working and have health insurance through your job. It will get you into the system and you'll start receiving "Medicare & You."
When to enroll in Part B
This is trickier. If you get it wrong, it can cost you money.
If you are already retired or will retire right at 65, the answer is simple: sign up for Part B the same time you enroll in Part A.  If you are still working, you're going to have to figure out the right time to enroll on your own.
It's really important not to mess this up. If you don't sign up for Part B when you should, you will be hit with a harsh late enrollment penalty. The penalty is a permanent increase in your Part B premium of 10 percent for every year that you should have been enrolled but weren't.
So for instance, if you sign up for Part B two years after you should have, your premium will be 20 percent higher.  
When to enroll in Part D, your drug plan
You should sign up for Medicare Part D at the same time that you enroll in Part B. It's important to be prompt. There is a permanent premium penalty for enrolling late.
There's one situation that will exempt you from this late enrollment penalty. That is if you have other drug coverage, such as an employer or retiree plan, that is as good as Part D coverage. (Your plan administrator can tell you whether your plan's drug coverage meets this qualification.)
Next: Medicare Advantage or Medigap—which to choose
Your first big decision upon signing up for Medicare is whether to get your benefits through original Medicare, with a supplemental Medigap plan, or through a private Medicare Advantage plan. Our guide walks you through the differences and discusses the pros and cons of each.
article from ConsumerReports Oct 16, 2014

Thursday, October 16, 2014

New research center to focus on family caregivers of elderly, disabled

Provided by University of Illinois at Chicago 

The University of Illinois at Chicago has received a five-year, $4.3 million grant from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research and the Administration for Community Living to establish a new, multi-institutional center to study the needs of families caring for people with disabilities. More than 65 million family caregivers in the U.S help 12 million seniors and people with disabilities to live at home. While family caregivers save the federal government billions each year in long-term care services, "these caregivers aren't getting much support in return," said principal investigator Sandy Magaña, professor of disability and human development at UIC. Family caregivers themselves often suffer health and stress-related problems, too, she said, due to the demands of providing care at home.
"By gaining a better understanding of the experiences of —the services they use, and the needs and challenges they face—we can help set policy and research agendas that will lead to improvements in the health and well-being of individuals with disabilities of all ages, racial and ethnic backgrounds and the family members that help support them," Magaña said.
Currently, Magaña said, support services for caregivers of the elderly and caregivers of people with disabilities are isolated from each other.
"There are lots of good interventions and ideas within the aging and disability 'silos' that can and should be exchanged," Magaña said, which would help experts devise new, combined support programs that would strengthen both.
The new Research and Training Center on Family Support will bring together experts on aging and on disabilities—to guide research, and to develop a national resource center. Co-principal investigators on the grant are Tamar Heller, professor and head of disability and  at UIC, and Joe Caldwell, director of long-term services and support policy at the National Council on Aging.
The center will conduct several major research projects over the next five years and develop a strategic plan to prioritize research for federal funding. Interviews with family caregivers will inform the agenda the researchers set for policymakers, Magaña said.
Trends in caregiving—such as self-directed care, in which individuals remain in charge of deciding what services and supports they need—is another focus of the center. Researchers will also evaluate the experiences of families using managed care.
Collaborating institutions include the Lurie Institute for Disability Policy at Brandeis University, the National Resource Center for Participant-Directed Services at Boston College, the RTC on Community Living at the University of Minnesota, the National Alliance for Caregiving, and the National Council on Aging. Organizational partners include The Arc, Easter Seals, and the Sibling Leadership Network.

Disaster preparedness must include people with disabilities | EDITORIAL By Mike Ervin

By Mike Ervin, Progressive Media Project | Oct 15, 2014

When the next natural disaster strikes, many people with disabilities are bound to find themselves in harm’s way due to poor disaster planning by public officials.

A lawsuit settlement reached in late September may improve access to emergency services in New York City and provide a roadmap for improving access everywhere else.

The lawsuit was filed in 2011 after Tropical Storm Irene hit New York. The lawsuit accused the city of not meeting the evacuation, transportation and sheltering needs of people with disabilities in its emergency plans.

The settlement, which needs the approval of a federal judge, requires that at least 60 shelters be capable of accommodating about 120,000 people with disabilities.

But the problem goes well beyond physical access and well beyond New York.

A report issued in June by the National Council on Disability, which advises Congress and the president on disability issues, warns: “Unfortunately, history has repeatedly shown that the concerns of people with disabilities and others with access and functional needs in emergency situations are frequently overlooked or minimized.”

The report gives the graphic example of New Jersey resident Carole Lazorisak, who is deaf. As Hurricane Sandy rapidly approached, she did not hear the evacuation warnings and instructions that were issued only verbally. The storm ripped her home off of its foundation and filled it with five feet of water. After finding her way to a local shelter, she still felt isolated because no arrangements had been made for communicating with deaf people.

According to the report, blind people are also left behind when websites with emergency information are not compatible with screen reader technology.

“The communication needs of people with disabilities are not being fully integrated by emergency managers in planning effort,” the report says.

All this is in spite of the fact that many laws, such as the American with Disabilities Act, require this type of communication to be accessible.

With the laws and technologies we have today, there is no excuse for abandoning anyone with a disability in an emergency.

It’s illegal, it’s immoral and it’s totally unnecessary.

Mike Ervin is a Chicago-based writer and disability-rights activist with ADAPT. He wrote this for Progressive Media Project. Readers may write to him at: Progressive Media Project, 409 East Main Street, Madison, Wis. 53703; email:

Five more states join program that aids students with disabilities

by Taylor Russell, for The Independent Florida Alligator and Campus Communications

University of Florida's College of Education project added five more states to its $25 million project to assist teachers in better serving students with disabilities.
The Collaboration for Effective Educator Development, Accountability and Reform Center (CEEDAR) provides opportunities for teachers to master specialized instruction and help their students with disabilities succeed. 
Paul Sindelar, a co-director for the center, said New Hampshire, Georgia, Utah, Montana and Ohio were the latest states to join the program.
The Office of Special Education Programs of the U.S. Department of Education federally funds the center.Sindelar said UF’s program acts as a technical assistance center to improve leadership planning.
“We have a specific focus on the preparation of classroom teachers and the success of students with disabilities,” Sindelar said. 
Florida, California, Connecticut, Illinois and South Dakota were the first states to participate in the project when it received its initial funding in January 2013.
The Office of Special Education Programs has already committed $15 million to the project, and it will donate another $10 million through 2017, when 10 more states take part in the project. Sindelar described the project’s application process as elaborate. Fourteen states applied, but only five were accepted.
“It is a very competitive, rigorous application process with much careful review,” Sindelar said.
The center also works with states to reform policy on students with disabilities by writing new standards and licensure. 
Mary Little, a University of Central Florida professor and exceptional student educator, works with researching and planning for the national center. Little said UF manages the three universities in Florida that are part of the center.
“The program is a cohesive and systemic  approach to educational reform,” she said. 
Erin Neely, a UF education junior, is pursuing an early childhood education degree with a strong focus in special education. She said she has seen positive changes in special education classrooms. 
“Students with special needs require more attention,” Neely, 20, said. “Teachers must be prepared to exert that extra effort to ensure that they are giving students with special needs the best education possible.”

OUTTAKES: 6th Annual Disability Culture Cabaret - Nov 14th - Chicago

Come enjoy live performance of poetry, spoken-word, music, comedy, and touchable artwork

WHEN: Friday, November 14th, 2014 | 6:30 - 8:00 PM

Access Living
115 West Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60654

Featured Artists:
George Brimmage
Pennie Brinson
Nili Broyer
Marisa Choate
Ibby Grace
Arlene Malinowski
Chris McGuire
Andy Slater
Manako Yabe

And emcee, Kris Lenzo

Personal Assistants, Narrative Description and Sign Language Interpretation will be provided

This event is brought to you by Access Living; Bodies of Work: Network of Disability Arts and Culture; Department of Disability and Human Development, University of Illinois at Chicago.
This program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency; This program is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Organization: Bodies of Work: A Network of Disability Arts and Culture

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

What A Difference Differences Make" explores the challenges and abilities of disAbilities: A Radio Documentary by Jane Leder

as shared by Jane Leder

For more from Jane Leder website: CLICK HERE

Fight for Disabled Rights Has Gone on Too Long

article by Leah Morrigan | Huffpost Canada | Oct 14, 2014

Thank goodness for the 1960s and the upheavals it caused, I find myself saying these days.

It was a time of the dismantling of the old guard, where groups outside of the circle of old white men in suits who controlled everything fought for -- and gained -- their rights. The civil rights movement gave a voice and dignity to once oppressed groups: people of colour, women, gays and lesbians, children, the disabled, as well as entities that could not speak for themselves at all like animals and the Earth.

Though the movement for disabled rights began in earnest in the early 1900s, it wasn't until the mid-century civil rights movement that this group made great gains. Prior to this, the Anti-Defamation League explains that during the 1800s, people with intellectual and physical disabilities were greatly stigmatized and marginalized, pitied, and considered "unfit and unable to contribute to society, except to serve as ridiculed objects of entertainment in circuses and exhibitions."

Many disabled people were forced into institutions and asylums, and the "segregation of persons with disability were considered merciful actions, but ultimately served to keep people with disabilities invisible and hidden from a fearful and biased society."

As of 2011, The Guardian reports the global number of disabled people at 15 per cent of the population, or 1 billion people, and "despite a robust disability rights movement and a shift towards inclusion, disabled people remain second-class citizens."

Sadly, one in five disabled people worldwide still experience difficulties, but hope reigns eternal.

All over the world, individuals and advocacy groups support and offer services to the lives of the disabled, including the United Nation's Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) which has its own Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The UN organization's mandate includes respect, non-discrimination, full participation and inclusion in society, accessibility, and equality for disabled men, women, and children worldwide.

Specific to UNESCO's rights for the disabled are large North American organizations with profound and far-reaching services and philosophies for intellectual and physically challenged individuals. Community Options focuses on the betterment of the lives of the severely disabled and recognizes that these people require specific environments, special equipment and technology, housing, and clinical and staff support specific to their needs.

Founder and CEO, Robert Stack, recognized the importance of education for the disabled when he was just 13 years old. Through extensive education and international entrepreneurial business development in non-profit management, Stack went on to develop Community Options, an agency with a high quality and cost-effective reputation to support its clients. The not-for-profit operates 35 offices in the U.S. and has established housing, independent living, and medical assistance for 1,500 disabled people to date, and empowered thousands more. Clients receive job training and employment opportunities owned and operated by Community Options, or with community partners.

Born of the University of California at Berkley campus in the early 1970s, the Independent Living movement focuses on the rights of the disabled to lead lives of their own choosing and participate fully in society. Independent Living's philosophy was embraced in Canada during the 1980s and the European Network on Independent Living in 1989. It is comprised of individuals and community-based resource centres founded on the rights of disabled people to live with dignity and make their own decisions about their lives. Independent Living Canada thrives with many national disability organizations to support and assist the visually and hearing impaired, the intellectually and physically challenged, and mental health survivors.

These are only two of many worldwide organizations that respect the disabled and make life better for them and their families, and the outpouring of global support for these people is astounding. As we move further away from the antiquated thought of silencing disabled persons and hiding them in institutions, we can revel in the magnificence of the civil rights movement that has released all of us from the mentality of oppression to accept each other as we are: human beings, warts and all.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Chicago CTA: Complaints up about rude operators, and complaints about issues affecting riders with disabilities increase

As the issues with CTA, Priority Seating has been ongoing for years, and that in spite of CTA insisting that 'Strollers' are not a issue and there personnel are trained to follow CTA Stroller Policy. The reality is that CTA management, nor the CTA  Board of Directors have not fulfilled so many promises on 'Stroller Wars'. This is one of the main reasons I choose not to stay on the CTA ADA Advisory Committee when my term ended last year, I was tired of the lack of sincerity of CTA on this issue, and very limited support by most of the fellow committee members,
I also want to Acknowledge Tracy Swartz with the Chicago Redeye for this article. In the Article it is reported the Stroller Complaints for this year, I personally reported 9 complaints, (the way CTA logs complaints has always been very questionable) in 2014.and I gave up.      Jim at Ability Chicago Info

CTA: Complaints up about rude operators

CTA stroller policy placard

By Tracy Swartz, Chicago RedEye | Oct 14, 2014

More riders are filing complaints to the CTA about rude bus drivers and train operators, CTA statistics show.
The CTA has logged 97 rider complaints about rude operators this year through September, versus 66 complaints during the same time last year, according to data presented Tuesday at the CTA's quarterly riders with disabilities advisory committee meeting.
There were 82 total complaints about rude operators in all of 2013, CTA data show.
Overall, there were 109 more complaints about issues affecting riders with disabilities this year through September, from 420 complaints in 2013 to 529 complaints in 2014.
The most common complaint was about CTA employees who didn't follow protocol laid out by the Americans with Disabilities Act, a 1990 law intended to ensure equal transit access for riders with disabilities.
Those type of complaints include workers not helping to secure wheelchairs in priority seats and fare problems on buses. Riders with disabilities can board the CTA at a discounted rate.
A spokesman for ATU Local 241, the CTA bus worker union, did not respond to a request for comment.
ADA-related complaints comprise about 4 percent of the 13,655 complaints the CTA has received this year through September.
The highest jump in ADA-gripes was from July to September, when 239 complaints were logged, compared to 163 complaints in the same period in 2013.
In July, the CTA began tracking complaints specifically related to riders and strollers taking up priority seating intended for riders with disabilities and the elderly.
Federal law requires the CTA to set aside some seating on buses and trains for the elderly and riders with disabilities. Some CTA communications also encourage riders to stand up for pregnant women.
There already have been 14 complaints about priority-seating problems from July to September and four complaints about strollers. Previously, these complaints were included in other complaint categories and not broken out separately so it is not easy to tell if these priority seat and stroller complaints were up or down versus 2013.
While some transit agencies including the Pace suburban bus system have implemented rules requiring riders to fold up their strollers before boarding buses, the CTA allows riders to keep their strollers open as long as strollers don't clog aisles or take up priority seating when riders with disabilities or the elderly need the seats.
In 2012, the agency launched a stroller etiquette campaign, and bus drivers passed out fliers to remind riders of the decade-old stroller policy. The CTA said in May stroller complaints were down 60 percent in the six months after the informational campaign.
John Ward, a CTA bus facilities manager, told the ADA committee the hierarchy for priority seating is riders in wheelchairs or scooters, riders with other physical disabilities not in mobility devices, the elderly, then expectant mothers.
Ward said he works with bus drivers on how to approach riders with strollers in priority seating.
"No one appreciates being told in front of the entire bus to move," Ward said.,0,2684616.story
Copyright © 2014 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC


For all the previous posts on CTA "Priority Seating" and "Strollers": CLICK HERE

Inline image 2 

For a bit of take on reality, and a few laughs...

Monette McLin imitates a woman riding the bus in Chicago

Chicago CTA bus driver claims she was fired for having one prosthetic eye

wanted to share, and would welcome any thoughts and feedback on this one...

CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -
By Dane Placko, FOX 32 News Investigative Reporter | Oct 14, 2014

There are a lot of things a person with one eye can do, but driving a bus isn't one of them -- at least not under the law.

Yet, FOX 32 News has learned that a woman with a glass eye has been driving a CTA bus for years -- until last week.

Investigative reporter Dane Placko reports the reason for her dismissal is in dispute, but the CTA is now trying to figure out how she got the job in the first place.

"Yes I do [have a prosthetic eye]," said Karen Harris. “I had it when I passed the job. I passed every single vision test that there is."

Harris, 44, has been driving a bus for the CTA since 2008 and has had an Illinois commercial driver's license for 15 years. That's despite the fact that her left eye was replaced with a prosthetic due to an infection in her childhood.

"They hired me this way. This has been a way of life for me," Harris said.

However, under state law, anyone with a commercial driver's license is required to have two working eyes, so they have good distance judgment and depth of field.

Harris said the CTA never asked, and she never told.

"I never went in deceiving anyone. I go and I take the vision test like the next person," she said.

But Harris said in 2011, an estranged family member called the CTA and told them about her glass eye, which led to harassment from her colleagues and name-calling.

"They spread the rumor around the garage, but they never asked me personally about it. The manager said things to me, like 'what are you looking for, your eye?'" Harris said.

But the CTA said there's nothing in her personnel file to indicate they knew about her condition.

On Friday, the CTA fired Harris for what a spokesman calls a variety of rules violations, including insubordination, a confrontation with a supervisor and falsifying a report.

However, Harris is convinced she was fired because of her glass eye.

"I think they're very embarrassed. I think they all are embarrassed because for six years I've taken a vision test every year and passed them all," she said.

The tests are actually performed every two years by a doctor under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and every four years by the Illinois Secretary of State's office when CDL holders renew their license.

The CTA doesn't require a vision test upon employment because someone with a valid CDL should have had that performed already.

Amazingly, when Harris collapsed during a confrontation with her boss in 2013, a doctor who examined her wrote the pupil in her glass eye reacted to light. Although, he did note the pupils are unequal.

"There's plenty of people out there doing different things that have different characteristics than others. But it doesn't stop them. And this is one of the things that doesn't stop me. This doesn't stop me. They're trying to stop me," Harris said.

And that's the mystery, how did she pass? She has had only two minor accidents with no injuries in her career.

Harris said she should be able to drive with one eye, but Illinois' Secretary of State is taking it seriously and launching an investigation into how she got her license.

Ice Bucket Challenge turned into sick joke against 15 yr old boy with Autism; Five teens charged finally

this post contains multiple posts as this develops in what should be a Hate Crime against a Person with a Disability... 

Five teens charged in Ice Bucket Challenge attack on teen with autism

 OCTOBER 14, 2014
 BY KARA SUTYAK | FOX8 Cleveland

CLEVELAND- Five juveniles have been charged in the Ice Bucket Challenge attack on a 15-year-old with autism.
Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty announced Tuesday afternoon that based on evidence gathered during a thorough investigation by the Bay Village Police Department, three of the juveniles were charged with two counts of delinquency, assault and disorderly conduct; the other two juveniles were each charged with a single count of disorderly conduct.
The teens– who range in age from 14-16– are accused of dumping a bucket of human waste and tobacco spit over the teen’s head on Aug. 18; it was captured on video (see below post).
A team of prosecutors from the Juvenile Division of the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office reviewed the evidence in consultation with Bay Village police and recommended charges.
The prosecutor’s office said the evidence indicates the five teens who are charged were friends with the victim and regularly did things together; the victim was invited to one of the other boy’s homes to take part in the ALS Challenge.
In a press release, First Assistant County Prosecutor Duane Deskins, who heads the office’s Juvenile Division, said, “The victim and the five charged juveniles were and are friends and classmates. They regularly associate with one another and, at times, engage in distasteful and sophomoric pranks. However, this incident is clearly different. It crossed a moral and legal line, and even the five alleged perpetrators understand that and have expressed regret.”
Bay Village police will ask the three juveniles facing more serious charges to come to the police station with their parents to surrender and be booked. They will then be released pending an appearance in Juvenile Court; the other two juveniles  will be summoned to appear before the Juvenile Court Intake and Diversion Office.
The victim’s family has been consulted and agrees with the charges.
The attack caused outrage across the nation. Celebrities like Cleveland’s Drew Carey and Jenny McCarthy offered money to aid in the investigation.
Stay with FOX 8 News and for more details as rhey develop CLICK HERE

as reported on FOX8 Cleveland, BY MARK ZINNI | Sept 3, 2014

**Important note: The family asked that we show the video to make other parents aware of bullying.**

BAY VILLAGE, Ohio – Police are investigating an alleged case of bullying involving a teenager with autism who took the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.
“Once we found out about it, we were just horrified,” said Diane, the mother of the Bay High School student.  She claimed her youngest son was videotaped as feces, urine, spit and cigarette butts were dumped on his head by a group of juveniles.
“I want these kids held accountable for what they did to him and they targeted somebody who just didn’t really understand what was going on,” she said.
FOX 8 News is not identifying the family by last name to help protect their son.
According to the victim’s mom, Diane, the video was discovered on her 15-year-old son’s cell phone. She, along with her husband and other son, Jacob, wants it to be made public.
“I mean, the first thing that popped into my mind was like, why could someone – how could someone do this?” said Jacob. “How could someone really be this cruel to someone?”
In the video, the boy with autism is seen standing in the driveway of a home off school grounds. He’s wearing only his underwear as a bucket of fluid is poured from the roof of the garage. The bucket allegedly contained a mix of bodily fluids instead of ice water.
“He was embarrassed because he did not know what the contents were until afterwards and then he didn’t want anybody to know,” said his mom. “They used his phone to tape it and they put it up on Instagram.”
“This is just too far. It’s really bad,” said his brother, Jacob.
The Bay Village Police Department was made aware of the alleged incident on Wednesday. According to Det. Kevin Krolkosky, criminal charges could be filed.
“It’s disturbing to watch, you can obviously tell that somebody has been taking advantage of there,” said the detective.
Det. Krolkosky met with the parents and said it’s not a prank; it’s possibly a crime committed on the boy with autism by a group of juveniles who could face delinquency charges.
A spokesperson for Bay High School, where the victim is a student, said they’re now working hand-in-hand with police as they investigate.
“Obviously, if possible, we do want to hold those individuals accountable for their actions,” said Det. Krolkosky.
The police are just beginning their investigation and we’re told it could take a few weeks to file charges but they have a good idea who was involved.
“The bucket challenge is supposed to be raising awareness for this disease and now they’ve turned it into a sick joke,” said the victim’s mom. “I just can’t understand why kids would do something this cruel.”
The boy’s mom and dad wanted the video released to make other parents aware of bullying so they’ll have a conversation with their kids on how to treat people.

Drew Carey Offers $10,000 Reward to Catch Teens Responsible for ‘Horrendous’ Ice Bucket Challenge Prank

“Price Is Right” host Drew Carey wants to catch a group of Ohio teenagers responsible for a “horrendous” ALS Ice Bucket Challenge prank on an autistic boy, and is willing to chip in a $10,000 toward a reward fund.
“WTF? Just saw this. Horrendous. These kids should be arrested and expelled,” Carey tweetedafter reading a report about a group of Bay Village High School students who tricked a 14-year-old special needs student into dumping a bucket full of urine, spit and feces on his head.
“If the Bay Village PD wants to start a reward fund to find who did this, contact me. I'll donate $10k,” Carey added.
Both the police department and Bay Village school district are eager to discipline the teens responsible for filming the prank Police Chief Mark Spaetzel called “reprehensible.”
Investigators are reviewing a copy of the video, which the attackers recorded on the victim's phone and then posted to social media.
Carey, a comedian and former sitcom star, grew up in the Cleveland area, and is willing to offer his $10,000 to an autism charity if the teenagers responsible for the prank are found without any monetary incentive.
If they find them w/out reward $, then done :) RT @sonicslifer:@DrewFromTV They'll find them no problem. Give the ten k to Autism Speaks!