Disability News Service, Resources, Diversity, Americans with Disabilities Act; Local and National.

Friday, January 31, 2014

U.S. Access Board Webinar: Accessible Routes on Sites (February 6, 2014) - RSVP

The next webinar in the Board's free monthly series will take place February 6 from 2:30 – 4:00 (ET) and will cover requirements in the ADA and ABA Accessibility Standards for accessible routes on sites. The session will review scoping and technical provisions for accessible routes from site arrival points to accessible facility entrances and to accessible elements and spaces on sites.

For more information, & registration instructions,visit  www.accessibilityonline.org.

For the U.S. Access Board: http://www.access-board.gov/

Broadway Theaters group agree to settle ADA (Accessibility) suit with U.S. Attorney - Jan 2014

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Files And Simultaneously Settles Lawsuit Against Nederlander Organization Covering Nine Of Broadway’S Most Historic Theaters

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Nederlander Organization Agrees to Provide Dozens of Wheelchair Accessible and Aisle Transfer Seating Locations, and Eliminate Hundreds of Barriers to Accessibility

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today the filing and settlement of a lawsuit in Manhattan federal court against NEDERLANDER ORGANIZATION, the owners and operators of nine of Broadway’s most historic theaters, the BROOKS ATKINSON, the GERSHWIN, the LUNT FONTANNE, the MARQUIS, the MINSKOFF, the NEDERLANDER, the NEIL SIMON, the PALACE, and the RICHARD RODGERS, involving violations of the Americans With Disabilities Act (the “ADA”). The settlement, in the form of a consent decree, was entered today by U.S. District Judge Katherine Polk Failla.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Today’s resolution marks the culmination of years of work to ensure that one of New York City’s leading cultural and entertainment treasures – Broadway theater – is accessible to people with disabilities. As a result of this suit and settlement, coupled with a similar lawsuit filed by the Office against the Shubert Theaters in 2003, over twenty of the leading Broadway theaters, operated by the two largest Broadway theater organizations, will be more accessible than ever before.”
According to the Complaint and Consent Decree filed in Manhattan federal court:
In the course of an investigation and negotiation over several years, the U.S. Attorney’s Office identified numerous ADA violations at each of the nine theaters operated by NEDERLANDER ORGANIZATION. Two of the theaters were constructed over one hundred years ago, in the 1910s; four of the theaters were constructed during the 1920s; and the remainder were constructed in the early 1970s and the 1980s. The ADA generally requires that, under these circumstances, barriers to accessibility be removed where it is readily achievable to do so. Throughout the Government’s investigation and the negotiation of the Consent Decree, NEDERLANDER ORGANIZATION agreed to remove hundreds of barriers to accessibility.
Under the Consent Decree, NEDERLANDER ORGANIZATION agrees to continue and eventually conclude its efforts to improve accessibility at its theaters over the next three years, as the schedules of shows at the theaters permit. NEDERLANDER ORGANIZATION will do the following:
  • provide a total of 70 wheelchair accessible seating locations, and direct its ticket vendors to accord priority to persons with disabilities in selling those seating locations;
  • provide a total of 134 aisle transfer seating locations for persons who are able to transfer from a wheelchair into a seat, and direct its ticket vendors to accord priority to persons with disabilities in selling those seating locations; and
  • eliminate over 500 individual barriers to accessibility in theater restrooms, concession counters, waiting areas, and box offices.
In addition, NEDERLANDER ORGANIZATION will pay a $45,000 civil penalty to the United States.
Since President George H.W. Bush signed the ADA into law in 1990, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York has played a significant role in bringing numerous New York City institutions into compliance with the ADA regulations. They include Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center, the Metropolitan Opera, Yankee Stadium, Madison Square Garden, the Apollo Theater, the Puck Building, the Shubert Theaters, the Rainbow Room, and Radio City Music Hall.
To file a complaint alleging that any place of public accommodation within the Southern District of New York is not accessible to persons with disabilities, use the Civil Rights Complaint Form available on the United States Attorney’s Office’s website, www.usdoj.gov/usao/nys. Complaints should be sent to:
U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of New York
86 Chambers Street, 3rd Floor
New York, New York, 10007
Attention: Chief, Civil Rights Unit
Assistant U.S. Attorneys David J. Kennedy and Rebecca C. Martin are in charge of the case.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Housing Action Illinois: 2014 United for Homes Campaign Update for Illinois Endorsers

as shared by our friends at Housing Action Illinois ...

Housing Action Illinois

United for Homes Campaign Update for Illinois Endorsers

As we reach the end of the first month of 2014, Housing Action Illinois is reaching out to people affiliated with endorsing organizaitons to provide an update on our efforts to support the United for Homes Campaign to fund the National Housing Trust Fund through reform of the mortgage interest deduction, as well our related efforts to secure funding for the Trust Fund from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Why This is Important

Nationally, for every 100 extremely low income renters, there are only 30 affordable and available rental homes. In Illinois, there are only 28 such units, meaning that many of these households are paying more than half of their income just to keep a roof over their head of their families.
With the National Housing Trust Fund, we know we can eliminate this gap in the availability of affordable homes. Once funded, the National Housing Trust Fund will expand, preserve, rehabilitate and maintain the supply of rental housing affordable to America’s poorest families.

The United for Homes campaign proposes to fund the National Housing Trust Fund through modifications to the current mortgage interest deduction. The changes are simple: reduce the size of a mortgage eligible for a tax break to $500,000, and convert the deduction to a 15% non-refundable tax credit.

These changes would produce a fairer tax policy, and would raise almost $200 billion in revenue over ten years that could be used to end homelessness and address our most important housing problems. For Illinois, this could more than double the amount of federal funding currently available for the development of affordable rental housing each year

2013 Second Half Accomplishments

Endorsements: During the last six months of the year, we just about doubled the number of endorsing organizations in Illinois, ending the year with 117 endorsers with at least one endorser in in each of Illinois’ 18 House districts. Across the country 1,461 organizations have endorsed the campaign.  (See the list of endorsers at http://nlihc.org/unitedforhomes/endorsers.)

Outreach to Senators Durbin and Kirk:  We had several meetings with staff for both Illinois Senators, Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk, during trips to Washington DC to educate them about the campaign.  Our goal is to gain their support for including the United for Homes proposal as part of any larger tax reform package that the Senate might consider in the future.

Outreach in Key House Districts:  We held 7 "roundtable discussions" in key House legislative districts, attended by more than 50 people, to strengthen existing endorsers and recruit new endorsers.   We also held approximately 20 one-on-one relationship building meetings where we included discussions about the United for Homes Campaign.  The focus of our work in House districts is to get legislators to endorse H.R. 1213,  the Common Sense Housing Investment Act of 2013, which provides funding for the Trust Fund and other housing programs through the savings generated by mortgage interest deduction reform.
Support from Local Governments:  On December 16th, the Park Forest Village Board formally adopted its 2014 Legislative Agenda, which includes support for H.R. 1213.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Funding: 
In July, when the National Low Income Housing Coalition and the Right to the City Alliance filed a lawsuit against then Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Director Ed DeMarco for not making legally mandated payments from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to the National Housing Trust Fund we generated press coverage by Chicago Muckrakers (available at http://bit.ly/1bsC1vC).

This year has started well, as 33 Senators, including Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, sent a letter to new FHFA Director Mel Watt on January 23 asking  him to end the suspension of contributions to the Trust Fund, stating that funding for affordable rental housing is needed now and asserting that “the time is long overdue to lift the current suspension.”

The Year Ahead

In 2014, in addition to ongoing work on the efforts outlined above, the focus of our work will be on working with our endorsing organizations to do in-district small groups meetings with key federal legislators and getting local elected officials and governments to endorse the campaign.

We encourage groups that have endorsed the campaign to get more involved through work in your local community and/or helping us plan campaign strategy through participating on a statewide Steering Committee.

If you want more information about the campaign and/or want to discuss how you can support these efforts, please reply to this email or visit the campaign website at http://unitedforhomes.org.

Finally, thanks for endorsing the campaign!  Your support is important to the effort.

Housing Action Illinois 
11 E. Adams #1601
Chicago, IL 60603

Illinois Council of the Blind (ICB) “Spring Fling” - fundraiser April 26

as shared by the Illinois Council of the Blind (ICB) ...




     Join us on Saturday, April 26, 2014 from 4:00-9:00 PM.The venue name is 115 Bourbon Street, located at 3359 W. 115th Street, Merrionette Park, IL for the Illinois Council of the Blind (ICB) “Spring Fling” featuring the rockin’ tunes of Blind Reflexx as part of their “Talk, Play and Rock Tour”.  Admission also includes a buffet dinner, draft beer, wine and soft drinks.  There will also be a silent auction, raffles and fun. 

    Tickets are $35.00 for adults and $15.00 for children age 6 to 20, age 5 and under are free.  We are looking for a few volunteers. If you are interested please contact the ICB office. The ticket price for volunteers is $15.00.

     Funds raised will help ICB provide scholarships for students who are blind, reading materials for children who are blind through our Dots for Tots program and other things.  Food, fun and great music await you at the renowned 115 Bourbon Street on April 26, 2014.  Please contact our office at 217-523-4967, icb@icbonline.org or go to www.icbonline.org to purchase tickets or get more information. If you cannot attend, support ICB by purchasing a raffle ticket. Just call the office for more information.  Non-profit regulations prevent us from selling raffle tickets on-line.

National Council on Disability (NCD) Letter to the President and Labor Secretary Tom Perez on the Impending Minimum Wage Executive Order

January 30, 2014

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500
The Honorable Thomas Perez
Secretary of Labor
U.S. Department of Labor
200 Constitution Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20210
Dear Mr. President and Secretary Perez:
On behalf of the National Council on Disability (NCD), an independent federal agency that advises Congress and the Administration regarding laws, policies, practices, and procedures that affect people with disabilities, I write in response to the 2014 State of the Union address and a subsequent White House call with community advocates regarding the impending Executive Order to raise the minimum wage for employees of federal contractors. NCD applauds your commitment to reducing income inequality, and urges the steadfast inclusion of Americans with disabilities in these efforts.
We were disheartened to learn through a White House call yesterday that the Administration does not have the intention of crafting the planned Executive Order in such a way as to apply the raised minimum wage to people with disabilities who are currently employed by federal contractors who pay them subminimum wages. Because the Executive Order will not raise the wages of these individuals outright, as a result, the Executive Order will only have a negligible, trickle-down effect on employees with disabilities employed by contractors who pay them subminimum wages, as wages paid under this program will simply be calculated in relation to the new minimum wage. This may mean that a worker receiving pennies an hour today may receive a dime as a result of the Executive Order. Surely we can do better than this.
As aptly stated in your address, Mr. President, “The best measure of opportunity is access to a good job.” Surely, a good job includes a fair wage. Twenty-four years after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a fair wage must be available to everyone who works, including Americans with disabilities. However, that is far from reality for most people with disabilities living in America today.
People with disabilities are three times more likely to live in poverty,[1] and only 18.7 percent of people with disabilities participate in the workforce, compared with 68.3 percent of people without disabilities.[2] In addition, sadly, for many people with disabilities who are counted as participating in the workforce, even the current minimum wage eludes them because of antiquated laws and regulations that permit compensation that at times provides mere pennies an hour. Through an outdated, little-known provision in the Fair Labor Standards Act known as the Section 14(c) program, the federal government permits employers with Section 14(c) certificates to pay people with disabilities less than the prevailing minimum wage. This currently affects over a quarter of a million Americans with disabilities – a glaring example of the income inequality that we applaud your Administration for wanting to stamp out. For workers with disabilities, equal rights, let alone a living wage, is still a dream deferred.
NCD believes that the Section 14(c) program is a policy relic from the 1930s, when discrimination was inevitable because service systems were based on a charity model, rather than empowerment and self-determination, and when societal low expectations for people with disabilities colored policymaking. NCD stands for the principle that no person with a disability should be discriminated against in an employment setting by being paid less than the minimum wage available to all other citizens.
In our 2012 report, Subminimum Wage and Supported Employment, NCD recommended a gradual phase out of the 14(c) program and a concurrent shift of investment into supported employment.[3] As America rightly works toward increasing the minimum wage, we must assure that people with disabilities have the opportunity to rise to the same heights as other Americans.  
If the Administration agrees with this principle and wants to stamp out income inequality for all Americans, including Americans with disabilities, we urge you to reconsider what was shared on yesterday’s White House conference call and explicitly state in the Executive Order that the increase in minimum wage for employees of federal contractors applies to all employees of federal contractors, including the thousands of Americans with disabilities who are currently being paid less than the minimum wage under the Section 14(c) program. Additionally, we urge the Administration to publicly state its support for congressional action to phase out and eliminate the 14(c) program for all workers, just as it has publicly supported an increase in the federal minimum wage for workers without disabilities.
As affirmed in the State of the Union address, “if you cook our troops’ meals or wash their dishes, you should not have to live in poverty.” We agree. Unequivocally, this must apply to all Americans, including people with disabilities. If executive action is appropriate to raise the wages of Americans without disabilities, it should be appropriate to raise the wages of those with disabilities.
NCD looks forward to working with the Administration to ensure that all Americans, including people with disabilities, have the tools necessary to lift themselves out of poverty, including a fair and equitable wage. If we can be of service as you consider the language of your Executive Order or on related issues, please do not hesitate to call on us.
Jeff Rosen
[1] U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey, Employment Situation: 2011(Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2011).
[2] U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Table A-6. Employment status of the civilian population by age, sex, and disability status, not seasonally adjusted (last modified January 10, 2014), available athttp://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t06.htm.
[3] National Council on Disability, Subminimum Wage and Supported Employment (2012), available athttp://www.ncd.gov/publications/2012/August232012/.
For the National Council on Disability (NCD): http://www.ncd.gov/

Announcing NLIHC's 2014 Housing Policy Conference Workshops! - April 27 - 30, 2014 - Washington, DC

as shared by National Low Income Housing Coalition ...

NLIHC Conference
NLIHC Conference

Attend NLIHC's 2014 Housing Policy Conference to become an expert on today's most critical affordable housing issues! In addition to speakers, networking opportunities, and an evening reception celebrating the National Low Income Housing Coalition's 40th anniversary, the conference will feature a wide range of workshops including:
  • Getting Ready for Release of National Housing Trust Fund Dollars
  • Funding for the National Housing Trust Fund Now and in the Future: Housing Finance Reform
  • United for Homes Campaign: Building Support for Mortgage Interest Deduction Reform to Fund the NHTF
  • Facing Budget Limitations: Strategies for Restoring and Increasing HUD Funding
  • Securing Rural Housing Funding: Recent Challenges and Future Opportunities
  • Maintaining Rights for Tenants after Foreclosure: The Campaign to Make PTFA Permanent
  • Low Income Voter Engagement
  • Natural Disasters: Working with HUD and FEMA in Your StateStill Out of Reach: the Housing and Minimum Wage Debate
  • How to Organize a Tenant Association
  • Affordable Care Act Connections: Implications for Housing Plus Services
  • Low Income Housing Tax Credit Issues and Innovations
  • Tools for Multifamily Preservation
  • Ask HUD: Community Planning and Development
  • Public Housing Rental Assistance Demonstration: What Now?
  • Let’s Talk About Housing: Working with the Media
  • Private Sector Solutions to Affordable Housing
  • Ending Veteran Homelessness: Meeting the 2015 Goal
  • Establishing a 501c4: Expanding Your Organization’s Advocacy Work
  • Building Local Partnerships to Address Housing Needs
Click here to view the full list of 2014 workshops

Don't miss the chance to save on your conference registration. Early registration rates end this Sunday, February 2. Regular registration rates will apply on Monday, February 3.

Questions? Emailconference@nlihc.org



Seven-year-old Ahmad is smiling so hard he has to use his hands to pull his mouth in to a more serious expression. He tilts his head slyly towards his new visitor, a female Handicap International staff member, and then puts his pinky finger to his cheek. “I’m so happy you’ve come because you’re so beautiful,” he says with a wink. His mother puts her hand to her forehead in feigned embarrassment while everyone else bursts out laughing.
“I like flirting with girls,” says Ahmad shyly, holding his hands over his eyes--but with a slight gap between two fingers so he can still see everyone’s reaction. “I’m also happy because I have paper and markers and can draw horses.”
Ahmad slides on to the floor, grabs his markers, and sets to work drawing horses. Horses running, horses jumping over walls, and a horse carrying him on its back—wheelchair and all. “I loooove horses.”
“Ahmad was born happy and smiling and he’s stayed that way ever since,” says Safia, his mother. “Even now—with both legs gone, no father, and no home but this one cold room—he still helps us all remember to smile.”
Safia sits outside huddling by a small fire with her four older children and a few neighbors. They live in a unfinished cement building with no running water or heat on a derelict olive farm. A big stray dog with streaks of mud running its white kinky hair cautiously circles the property, hoping to find a meal amidst the trash heaps. It’s cold and windy on this hillside and there are no shops nearby.
“No,” says Safia. She cannot bare to talk about the events that led them to this place. Her older children and the neighbors whisper a few details. Safia’s husband died in 2009, but the family was still living in relative comfort. Then the war came and a bomb landed behind Ahmad when he was outside playing. His legs were gone below the knees. There were no hospitals or doctors so a very rough amputation was performed on the spot. The family fled to Lebanon in November 2012. Ahmad had to be carried or wormed about on the ground. Then, a few months ago, Handicap International discovered him and brought him a wheelchair.
“Let’s have a look at your legs,” says Lotfi , Ahmad’s Handicap International physiotherapist. Lotfi carefully unwraps the bandages around Ahmad’s stumps and then asks him how they feel. But Ahmad’s more interested in impressing the women in the room with his good looks. He tries on a hat, but decides to do without it. After smoothing his hair back, he puts Lotfi’s bandage scissors in between his teeth like he’s biting a rose.
“Ok, time to get serious,” says Lotfi, biting his lip to hold back his laughter. “We need to get you stronger.”
After doing some strengthening and flexibility exercises on the groud, Lotfi asks Ahmad to get in his wheelchair and come outside. Lotfi wants Ahmad to practice maneuvering his wheelchair on rough ground and around obstacles. Ahmad complies for a little while, but then decides it’s time to race. He pulls the wheels hard and flies from Lotfi to his mother and back again, like ping pong ball. When they were finished, Ahmad asks Lotfi for a kiss.
“My work is difficult because I have so many sad cases,” says Lotfi, who sees about 50 other beneficiaries each week. “However, Ahmad is a joy to work because he is so positive. It feels more like play than work.”
Ahmad agrees that life is better with Lotfi and Handicap International. “I used to be so low on the ground but now I am ‘up.’ I can even go to school,” says Ahmad.
“All of his teachers at school love him,” says Ahmad’s older brother Firas. “He is a very good student and does particularly well in math.”
Safia would like to do more to help her children but she has no income and relies on loans from relatives. Since she and her family have been in Lebanon for more than a year, they also do not qualify for many NGO assistance programs, which tend to be reserved for new refugees. However, the family will soon benefit from enrollment in Handicap International’s cash program. The organization carefully selects vulnerable families and individuals to receive $200 per month for five months. Using bank cards, they will be able to take out cash to pay for whatever necessities they choose: food, rent, heat, school supplies.
Ahmad says wishes he could get his legs back but knows that’s not going to happen. For now, he has the dream to help other people who have had their legs hurt: “I’m studying to be an orthopedic surgeon.”


FOR "HANDICAPPED INTERNATIONAL" WEBSITE: http://www.handicap-international.us/

Family Support Network: 2ND ANNUAL INFORMATIONAL SEMINAR - all family member's of a person with a developmental disability - Chicago March 27, 2014 - RSVP

as shared by the "Family Support Network" ...

We would like to invite you to participate in our 2nd Informational Seminar which will offer an opportunity to showcase your services and/or products. In addition it will be an opportunity for professionals to earn CEUs! This event will take place on Thursday, March 27, 2014 from 9am-3:30pm in The Bethune Room at the Heritage Plaza Banquet Facility which is located at 1550 West 95th Street in Chicago, IL 60643. (located across the street from Third Baptist Church). There is free parking in the Church parking lot. NO PARKING IN THE CURRENCY EXCHANGE LOT!
Attendees will include individuals and/or families of individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities looking for available resources, professionals and providers seeking information about resources and information to share with their families.
THIS IS A FREE EVENT for FAMILIES/INDIVIDUALS with disabilities – however registration is required.


To Register Please Click Here

MARCH 27TH, 2014
9 A.M. – 3:30 P.M.
  • Michael Hurt, Deputy Director, Bureau of Quality Management Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD), will provide an overview of Developmental Disabilities’ Provider Information.

  • Shirley Perez, Executive Director of the Family Support Network will share information about options using the Home-based program and Ligas!

  • David Ogunbode, Executive Director, Community Service Options, Inc. will share information with families/professionals about the role of the PAS agency as the “gateway” for consumers seeking services and other information we need to know!

  • Representatives from various organizations will share with you information about the services they provide.
The Heritage Plaza Banquet Facility
The Bethune Room
1550 West 95th Street
Chicago, IL 60643
(Located across the street from Third Baptist Church)
Free parking in Church parking lot
Families ONLY register via email at Cynthia@familysupportnetwork.org
Or call (708) 331-7370
Shirley Perez, Executive Director

Families only you may begin registering TODAY by sending an email to Cynthia or calling 708-331-7370! Throughout the day there will be ample time for families to visit with vendors!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Chicago 2014 cabin fever - Chicago's amazing museums offer free or discounted admission days - info

Chicago has amazing museums with unbelievable artifacts including a 67 million year old T. rex, moon rocks, dolphins and one of the most extensive displays of rare art this side of the Louvre. Chicago's museums offer an unforgettable experience for visitors and are a proud symbol of cultural pride for locals. As an added bonus, many of these institutions offer free or discounted admission days.

Please note: For many of the museums, you must be an Illinois resident and show proof of residency to take advantage of the free admission days. Dates are subject to change and may not include fees to view special exhibits. Visit individual museum websites for admission details, as well as policies for specific community members such as military personnel and local school groups.

For services for people with disabilities, please check with the individual museum or location.

Free general admission for Illinois residents on these upcoming 2014 dates:
January 6-8, 13-15, 21-22, 27-29
February 3-5, 10-12, 17-19, 24-25

Admission to the Art Institute of Chicago is free to Illinois residents every Thursday evening from 5-8pm.

Additionally children under age 14 are always free and the public can enjoy the following museum areas free of charge:
The Ryan Education Center in the Modern Wing, as well as all programs for families and children within the center
The North and South Gardens (accessible from Michigan Avenue)
The Nichols Bridgeway connecting the museum to Millennium Park
The Bluhm Family Terrace on the 3rd floor of the west pavilion of the Modern Wing

Free general admission for Illinois residents on the following 2014 dates:
January 6-10, 13-17, 20-24, 27-31
February 4, 11, 18, 25
March 10
May 5
June 1-6
September 8-12, 15-19, 22-26, 29
October 6, 7
November 3
December 8

Free general admission for Illinois residents on these upcoming 2014 dates:
January 21-22, 29-30
February 3-6, 11-13, 18-19, 24-27

Free general admission for Illinois residents only on the following 2014 dates:
January: 11-14, 19-21, 24-28
February: 3-4, 10-11, 16-18, 24-25

Free admission for Illinois residents only on the following 2014 dates:
January 20
February (every day of the month except Saturdays)
March 4
July 4
August 10, 19-21, 26-28
September (every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday of the month)
October 1-2, 7-9

Free admission for visitors age 15 and under on Target Free First Sundays, offered the first Sunday of each month. Additionally there is free admission for all visitors on Kraft Free Family Night, offered Thursday evenings 5-8pm.

Admission is free for Illinois residents on Tuesdays year round.

Thursdays are suggested donation days for Illinois residents year round.

Admission is free to all on each Sunday of the year. The museum also offers free admission rates (on school days) to all Chicago Public School students.

Admission is free for all visitors every Tuesday, year round.

Admission is free for all visitors on the second Tuesday of the month, year round.

Tours are free on Wednesdays, year round (not applicable to groups of ten or more).

Tours are free on Wednesdays, year round (not applicable to groups of ten or more).

Tours are free on Wednesdays, year round (not applicable to groups of ten or more).

Related Information of Listings

Adler Planetarium
1300 S. Lake Shore Dr.
Chicago, IL 60605
(312) 294-0360

Art Institute of Chicago
111 S. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60603
(312) 443-3600

DuSable Museum of African American History
740 E. 56th Pl.
Chicago, IL 60637
(773) 947-0600

Museum of Science and Industry
57th Street and Lake Shore Dr.
Chicago, IL 60637
(773) 684-1414

Swedish American Museum
5211 N. Clark St.
Chicago, IL 60640
(773) 728-8111

Shedd Aquarium
1200 S. Lake Shore Dr.
Chicago, IL 60605
(312) 939-2438

The Field Museum
1400 S. Lake Shore Dr.
Chicago, IL 60605
(312) 922-9410

Clarke House Museum
1827 S. Indiana Ave.
Chicago, IL 60616
(312) 326-1480

Glessner House Museum
1800 S. Prairie Ave.
Chicago, IL 60616
(312) 326-1480

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
2430 N. Cannon Dr.
Chicago, IL 60614
(773) 755-5100

Disabled war hero Cory Remsburg is 2014 State of Union high point

WASHINGTON — Wounded veteran Cory Remsburg had met President Barack Obama three times before Tuesday night— once in France and twice since a roadside bomb in Kandahar, Afghanistan, on his 10th deployment. Number four was at Obama’s State of the Union address, when the Army Ranger inspired the emotional high point of the evening.
Toward the end of Obama’s policy-heavy address, the president gestured toward the uniformed man from Phoenix seated next to first lady Michelle Obama and described the difference between the Remsburg he’d met the first time— “sharp as a tack”— and the wounded warrior his fellow soldiers found face-down in a canal, underwater, with shrapnel in his brain.
“The next time I met him, in the hospital, he couldn’t speak; he could barely move,” Obama said to the now-silent crowd in the House chamber. “Over the years, he’s endured dozens of surgeries and procedures, and hours of grueling rehab every day.”
As Obama spoke, the heads of lawmakers, Supreme Court justices and Cabinet members swiveled to their right and upward toward Remsburg, who had been clapping all evening by patting his right hand on his chest. His left hand lay curled in a brace.
Remsburg, seated beside his father, Craig, is still blind in one eye and struggles on his left side, Obama said. But he’s slowly learned to speak, stand and walk again. He’s been awarded the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.
“Like the Army he loves, like the America he serves, Sgt. 1st Class Cory Remsburg never gives up and he does not quit,” Obama said.
Everyone in the chamber stood and applauded Remsburg for a minute and 44 seconds, the most sustained applause of the evening.
Wearing a bow tie under his uniform, Remsburg stood, waved and gave a thumbs-up. Obama returned it.
As Obama made his way out of the House chamber, Remsburg was helped up the steps of the gallery by his father. What was left of the crowd turned toward him again and applauded.
Associated Press writers Alan Fram and Henry C. Jackson contributed to this report.
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

U.S. Congresswoman McMorris Rogers offers compelling vision for Americans with Disabilities - AAPD Press Release

as shared by The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) ,,,

Press Release:


Congresswoman McMorris Rogers offers compelling vision for Americans with Disabilities

Calls on Americans to define people based on potential not limits 

For Immediate Release
January 29, 2014
Contact: Brianna Gross
Phone: 202-521-4319
Washington, DC (January 29, 2014) -- The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), the largest disability rights organization, applauds Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rogers’ integration of the disability community into her State of the Union GOP response. AAPD is encouraged that McMorris Rogers shared her personal story of her son with Down syndrome and the importance of defining people based on their potential, not their limitations.

As the mother of a son with Down syndrome, McMorris Rogers knows firsthand the challenges that people with disabilities face such as in education, the workplace and health care. Currently, Americans with disabilities face an unemployment rate of 14.7 percent which is twice the unemployment rate for Americans without disabilities. McMorris Rogers understands that many have the same aspiration to work toward the American Dream.

AAPD is encouraged by McMorris Rogers’ vision of a growing economy and middle class open to anyone, including people with disabilities like her son, and encouraged by the consensus that a health care solution cannot discriminate based on a pre-existing condition. AAPD believes that including people with disabilities in the American workforce will only make a stronger economy and middle class.

AAPD looks to Congress and the Administration to work together to continue to support policies that promote equal opportunities for people with disabilities in the year to come.

About AAPD
The American Association of People with Disabilities is the nation's largest disability rights organization. We promote equal opportunity, economic power, independent living, and political participation for people with disabilities. Our members, including people with disabilities and our family, friends, and supporters, represent a powerful force for change. To learn more, visit the AAPD Web site: www.aapd.com

ADA Legal Webinar Series, March 12, 2014 - “The ADA and Religious Institutions.” - RSVP

The ADA National Network announces a new sessions for the ADA Legal Webinar Series, March 12, 2014 focusing on “The ADA and Religious Institutions.”

 Although religious institutions are largely exempt from the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) there are situations where these entities are indeed covered by the law. What does this mean for religious entities that operate schools? Are employees of religious organizations covered by employment provisions under the ADA? Further, what about religious entities receiving federal funds such as faith-based grants? Does the ADA apply to those operating businesses open to the public? The presenter will also discuss some of the more recent cases and examples of these situations and whether the ADA applies. During this session we will examine how the ADA applies to religious institutions/organizations with regards to:
  1. Title I- Employment
  2. Entities that receive federal funds under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
  3. Title III- Public Accommodations and operation of Commercial Facilities

Consultant, Disability and Family Law
When:   March 12, 2014
Time:      1:00pm-2:30pm Central Time
 Registration is available on-line at http://www.ada-audio.org/Webinar/ADALegal/Schedule/

ADA Conferences
877-232-1990 (V/TTY)

BBB warns of `One Ring` cell phone scam in 2014

CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) (Jan 29, 2014) -The Better Business Bureau is warning cell phone users to be on the lookout for a new scam that could result in unauthorized charges appearing on their monthly wireless statement.

Dubbed the "One Ring" scam, a computer sends thousands of calls to random cell phone numbers, rings once, and then disconnects. Curious customers who return the missed call could be charged $19.95 for an international call fee and an additional $9 per-minute charge, a release from the BBB said.

Consumers who have been scammed report the calls come from the Caribbean Islands, including Grenada, Antigua, Jamaica and the British Virgin Islands, the BBB said.

"As yet, we have not had any complaints filed (in northern Illinois) but given how rapidly this scam is spreading and growing across the country, our opinion is it won't be long," Steve Bernas, president of the Better Business Bureau in Chicago, said in the release.

Cell phone users who think they may have fallen victim to this scam are advised to alert their phone carrier and keep an eye on their bill, the BBB said.

"To be as safe as possible, the best thing to do if your phone rings, and it's an international number you don't recognize, don't answer and don't call back," Bernas said.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Inside America’s fragmented safety net for the disabled: ‘You work until you die’ interview with Joe Entwisle

Have to share this wonderful article - 
BY HAROLD POLLACK, The Washington Post; January 24

Joe Entwisle first came to my attention over Twitter, where he is a high-volume contributor under the moniker @wheelieboy. Joe has worked extensively in several areas of disability policy and practice. He is now a Senior Health Policy Analyst at Health & Disability Advocates (HDA) here in Chicago. His Huffington Post essay “Debunking the Disability Trap” is a valuable look, from the inside, at the opportunities and the employment barriers that people really face when they rely on federal disability programs. We’re accustomed these days to hearing about Medicaid’s many shortcomings and the perverse incentives associated with public disability benefits. Entwisle’s storyprovides a valuable reminder that such programs support a worthy path to independence and well-being for millions of people.

Joe and his dad Charles Entwisle met me last Friday to discuss what he regards as widespread misperceptions about the lives and capabilities of people who live with significant disabilities or functional impairments. We met on the street in the Loop and wandered into the Harold Washington Library to find some quiet space to talk. Joe deftly maneuvered the tight spaces in his high-tech wheelchair, which he operates through a combination of sips and puffs into an air-tube. Using a special stylus he holds in his mouth, he operates his Android phone with similar dexterity on various forms of social media.
Now  41, Entwisle was rendered quadriplegic at the age of 16  in a wrestling accident. He brings a distinctive, occasionally ribald perspective on the value of Medicaid, the complex gaps in disability policy and the comic possibilities of the tiny aisle wheelchairs used for commercial air travel. Below is an edited transcript of our conversation.
Harold Pollack: Let’s start with some basic details. As the picture makes clear, you’re in a sip-and-puff wheelchair.
Joe Entwisle:  It all runs on sip-and-puff. It’s pretty basic technology. Hard puff goes forward. Soft puff goes right. Soft sip goes left. Hard sip goes backwards. ...  It’s a pretty wonderful technology. It gets me ready to go.
HP: We parked on a winter day in Chicago around the corner and maneuvered through the semi-cleared sidewalks, etc. I take it you’re very agile with that.
JE: Oh yeah. I can get anywhere, in the woods, across grass and wherever I need to go. It really is good technology.
HP: It’s also $45,000. How do you pay for things like that?
JE: Fortunately, I’ve got insurance through my employer, which is really good. I have a secondary insurance which actually comes from my dad’s policy. He was a federal employee at the time I had my injury. Within the federal coverage, if you’re injured as a minor that coverage stays with you …
And then I have Medicaid as a wrap-around. It helps cover the long-term care cost which would otherwise be pretty much devastating.
HP: Do you need Medicaid now to cover some things that aren’t covered in your other insurance?
JE: Particularly on the long-term care side, for attendant care. Medicaid is huge. It’s a payer of last resort. Medicaid really is the only payer of any resort when it comes to long-term care.
HP: Do you have attendant care that would help you with things right now?
JE: Yeah. I’ve got somebody who comes up 4 in the morning. Then if I’m at home, I do a lunch round at one o’ clock. Then I have somebody who comes to put me to bed at around 10 o’ clock at night …
HP: You telecommute a lot. But you also come down on the train from southern Milwaukee to the Chicago Loop, cruise the mile to work, and put in a regular work-day quite often.
JE: Yeah. I get dropped off at the train station, which is what I normally do. Today's an exception with subfreezing temperatures, which is why I drove down. Usually catch the train at the airport to downtown. In Chicago, it’s roughly a mile to the office. I just walk the rest of the way down. It’s really pretty short. It seems like a quick commute. Especially with the technology these days, I can work all the way down on the train. An hour and 20 minutes is pretty efficient to get from Milwaukee airport to downtown Chicago.
HP: Just to put out on the table some things people will be curious about, tell me about your injury.
JE: I had an injury at wrestling practice -- which was fortunate because if it was during a match it would screw up your record. It’s one of those injuries where crazy things happen. I had a football coach who begged me not to wrestle over the prospect of football scholarships. That was the plan to go to college. I’d wrestled since I was 5, and it’s a sport I love. It made me a much better  football player. Athletics were my passion.
HP: You’re a very solid-looking guy. I can see you as a football player.
JE: I feel rather doughy at this point.
HP: We all do.
JE: I was on a vent for about nine months. For some reason, I was able to get my lungs back, which wasn’t expected. I’m a C 4-5 quadriplegic as result of spinal cord injury. I graduated with my high school class, went to college, grad school. At some point, you make a decision about what you want to do with your life. For me, the injury wasn’t going to change my goals. It’s up to you on choosing what you do.
HP: That injury was 25 years ago. Charles, that must have changed your life quite a bit as well.
Charles Entwisle [Joe’s father]: Yeah. It was definitely a shock. We were almost inundated. The city of Glendale where we lived was good to us. They held all kinds of fundraisers for Joe. They got him his first van with the lift and everything so he can get around. He ended up in summer school that year and catching up what he lost. He went back and ended up graduating with his class and went on with his bachelor’s at Whitewater and went to Madison for a masters in rehab psych.
HP: Joe, maybe we’d start with your current job. What do you do for a living?
JE: I’m a senior policy analyst for Health & Disability Advocates here in Chicago. I’m really proud to work for an organization that does so many incredible things. Most of my own focus has been around health-care policy and employment policy, particularly as it relates to employment and individuals with disabilities. We’ve done a lot of work with states in designing Medicaid Buy-in programs.
HP: Many readers won't know what a Medicaid Buy-in program is. Can you explain that?
JE: Two pieces of legislation -- the Balanced Budget Act and the Ticket to Work -- authorize states to build these Medicaid Buy-in programs. Medicaid buy-in programs allow people with disabilities to buy into Medicaid as if it were a regular insurance program. Basically states started to understand that the (Medicaid) programs that provide access to long-term care all required individuals to have to meet two qualifications: (1) to be medically needy, but also (2) financially needy. It’s that “financially needy” piece that has continually kept people impoverished. It’s required poverty in order to stay alive. To get access to services, you’ve got to be really dirt poor.
The feds and states now realize that there are advances in technology, advances in medicine, and that with those advances you can have a significant medical condition, a significant disability, without diminishing your capacity for full-time competitive employment. If you look at what it costs to keep people on programs and to keep them impoverished, states have been literally financially cutting off their noses to spite their face, as a way to keep people out of programs. When you require access to long-term care, Medicaid is often your only option.
Had the Affordable Care Act have been around before my injury, I would have faced a different situation. My insurance at that time provided access to some of the long-term care pieces, at least to the attendant care. But this pretty quickly evaporated because I exhausted the lifetime expenditure cap on these attendant services. At that point, my only access to care was through Medicaid. For many people, in order to survive, that’s the option.
I should also explain some other things. Social Security operates two separate programs for individuals living with disabilities: SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) and SSI (Supplemental Security Income).
These are two different programs each with their own rules. SSDI eligibility is linked with your work history. SSI eligibility comes by nature of being medically and financially needy. SSDI offers a more generous cash benefit. However, the SSI side, which is a base safety net program, has better work incentives. It also comes connected to a much better insurance program (Medicaid) than the SSDI program does (Medicare). It is somewhat odd that you have better work incentives and health care with SSI, despite a number of ways those benefits come attached with pitfalls. Regardless, SSI has always made full-time work an option for me ever since I graduated from school.
HP: So you are currently an SSI recipient? That’s what pays for your attendant care and related services?
JE: Yes, of course you have to monitor your resources and your income. You’re always better off working if you are on SSI. There’s almost no scenario where you’re not better off working on SSI. Under the “two for one” formula, for every $2 you earn, they reduce your cash benefit by $1. Since SSI cash benefits are limited, you gradually wean your way off the cash component of the program. In my work history, I exceeded twice the SSI benefit a long time ago. So I receive help with my health care, but no cash benefit.
Every state has federal administrative arrangements called 1619(a) and 1619(b) programs within SSI. 1619(a) means you weaned your way off a part of the cash benefit but you still retain some cash benefit. With 1619(b) you’ve eliminated the cash benefit, but you retain your connectivity to health care. Now, every state has a cap. The average is usually around $30,000. There’s a formula I can go into that’s really boring. The main point is that these allow you to work and to maintain your connectivity with Medicaid benefits, even if you might have reduced or zero cash benefits as your earnings rise over time. Social Security has put many of the basics into the Red Book, which gives you an overview of work incentives. (More specific information on SSI work incentives can be found here.)
You can also ask for what’s called the individual threshold. Basically, what Social Security has done is pretty smart. They’ve said if you have medical costs that are so exorbitant that your income is too low to cover these costs, then you can actually ask for a higher income threshold than what the traditional state limit would allow.
In my situation, the nature of my disability imposes costly demands on long-term care. At that point, you can earn a pretty significant amount of income without losing SSI supports, i.e. Medicaid. I have been fortunate in the work I have been able to pursue while maintaining my connectivity to the health services I need.
For a lot of folks who work competitively, it’s really about the access to long-term care. This is where Medicaid Buy-ins come in. These programs allow you to buy into Medicaid much as you would a traditional health insurance program. You’re buy into Medicaid and paying premiums, which allows you to have higher income and asset caps than other Medicaid programs. Forty-three states have buy-in programs and each state makes determinations on income and asset eligibility.
HP: Now you are subject to stringent asset limits on your savings and your wealth.
JE: Correct. Excluding my house and my car, I must suppress my liquid assets to remain below a $2,000 cap.
HP: That asset limit seems pointless and gratuitously harmful in your situation. One either finds various strategies to work around the requirement, or it prevents people from planning their futures. You can’t prepare for your retirement. If you have children, you can’t properly save for their college, all that kind of stuff.
JE: The reality for someone in my situation is that retirement usually isn’t an option. You work until you die, literally. A friend of mine is a perfect example. It’s almost creepy the similarities in our life. Both of us had a spinal cord injury at 16. Both of us were injured wrestling. Both of us are policy analysts. He’s a really good guy. He’s 63 years old. He started working for the state many years ago. Yet because of the odd rules around Medicaid eligibility and the differential treatment of earned and unearned income, he literally cannot retire. He knows he has to work until he’s dead or until some rules change. As soon as he starts to draw unearned income (retirement), he’s not going to be eligible for health-care programs or he’ll have to spend down to essentially $710 a month. He could no longer afford his house. He could no longer afford even the taxes on the house.
HP: These asset limits seem especially perverse when low-income adults who get coverage today because of the ACA’s Medicaid expansion don't face the same limits. That seems very hard to justify.
JE: It does. ... In one way I understand where these requirements come from. People who have the means to pay for long-term care should do so. Yet the reality is that very few people could ever afford to do it. Fortunately there are many ways to think about how we balance out the system. It’s exciting to see incentive options within the Affordable Care Act that might revamp long-term care.
For example, the Balancing Incentives Program provides an alternative to traditional long-term care service delivery methodology. Our state eligibility assessments have always been about: How does this person fit into a nursing-home level of care. They’ve always been targeted to nursing home placement. Yet the reality is: (1) nursing home services are very costly and (2) the outcomes and satisfaction for people are often horrific.
HP: How does ACA actually change these arrangements?
JE: It gives states a number of options (see this wonky overview) to rebalance choice between community care and nursing home care and to change the way they deliver services. States that can shift in the direction of greater community care and can receive slightly higher federal Medicaid matching rates, which is a powerful incentive.
States also have options to change the way they assess eligibility. Wisconsin is a great state to look at as far as how they have designed their assessments. These have traditionally been done by nurses. It’s a really long and laborious, expensive process.
There are more flexible ways to do that. Wisconsin has coordinators who provide assessments in the community based on a functional screen: people’s ability to perform various activities of daily living (ADL and IADLs, in the language of such things). Not only do these assessments look specifically at the strict healthcare medical needs, these also explore what’s actually required to meet your needs in daily life. It also seeks to infuse employment issues into everything that you do. These sorts of improvements allow you to redirect services towards more flexible options, and to really target community options first. On top of that, it infuses employment at each step of the way, which is the largest cost-saving component states can implement over the long-term.
HP: What does that mean when you say “community first” practically?
JE: For eons, long-term care services and entitlements have been targeting nursing homes, moving people towards the nursing homes to that level of care. If you need some significant assistance, then you should be in a nursing home. ... At this point, really it’s so much cheaper to keep people in their own homes, living on their own. The health outcomes are better, and individual life satisfaction is incomparably better. Particularly with advances in technology and medicine, people can live the same life that they had before, just with different ways of getting around.
HP: ACA also included the CLASS Act -- Community Living Assistance Support Services. Many people in the disability community were excited by CLASS. Unfortunately, the CLASS Act imploded and was repealed.
JE: This was an immense disappointment. CLASS was finally an option where you could look at freeing yourself from  being tied to so many of the strings that come with Medicaid. The honest reality is that Medicaid isn’t just health insurance. For many folks, it’s really a health-care loan. In many states, there is estate recovery that comes attached to Medicaid, particularly in long-term care services. It’s a piece that’s being whittled down regarding health-care reform, but it’s there.
HP: So you can stay in your home while you are receiving services. But after you die, the value of your home is often legally available to repay Medicaid for the services that you required …
JE: Correct.
HP: One of the tensions in CLASS was that the disability community was very excited about it, but nobody else was.
JE: Right. Most people don’t know what they have to lose. Everyone is temporarily able-bodied. ... People don’t realize that, especially when they’re young. When I was 16, it would have never occurred to me that that disability would ever be a part of my future. You don’t realize quite how fragile life is.
You never think that things like that are going to happen, but they happen all the time. … As we age, these are natural aspects of living. If CLASS could free people from insecurity, and from the indignities of Medicaid asset tests, that would just be an unbelievable gift. Yet people take all of that for granted.
HP: How do you spend your workday?
JE: One of the things I really love about my job is it never seems to be the same day twice. We work with partners and states on many different issues. Some of it’s working on seamless supports to make sure that there’s no wrong door when folks present for services, that employment is the primary driver across services when people come in to receive benefits, etc. I like to think we take a policy approach of working smarter and not harder based on policy options available ...
For a long time, we’ve had a pretty strong legal team. We were one of the last organizations that actually pick up law suits against the state itself. … We have had a great deal of experience and found a lot of success in bringing everyone together: Not just individuals who receive services, but also other stakeholders, people who deliver services, decision-makers at the state level and others. We put these disparate groups together in a room to figure out where the pitfalls, where the essential issues lie, and a couple of special things blossom from that.
You get the big picture as well as the specifics of all the issues, where things are right, not just from one individual, from everyone in the room. It becomes a greater understanding and sometimes a bit of a unifier, too. A colleague once told me: “Everything that happens gets done based on relationships.” I think he’s right in a lot of ways. The ability to bring everyone together in a room, figure out what the issues and the gaps are, do some cluster mapping around on what the gaps are, and establish policy to fill those pieces. It’s part of that old feedback methodology of policy analysis: You analyze, build, implement, assess, repeat. You keep going through that circle until you get it right.
HP: We haven’t talked much about the Americans with Disabilities Act. How does that make itself felt in your life?
JE: One huge benefit of the ADA has been to expose the American public to the pertinent issues. The biggest particular piece for me has been nondiscriminatory access to transportation, to hotels, the curb cuts and so on. These provisions aren’t perfect or ironed out well. They’re still huge in people’s lives …
For me, when it comes to access to jobs, I find the ADA somewhat interesting because it makes some employers nervous about lawsuits.
I worked with some states that have done polling with affected businesses to say what kind of accommodations they are making for folks. The results are surprising, because many go far beyond what’s actually required in the ADA. And really, as an individual with a disability, I see my disability as a value-added credential. I found a way to work around any barriers in everything I do. I think it makes me a better employee. I work really hard to do what I do because I want to be better each and every day, which actually has little to do with disability.
Now, there’s another piece that’s part of the mix where I’ve seen … where paternalism has really taken hold, and has diminished people’s skills because they don’t get good management saying: “You’re putting out a terrible product.” It’s something that terrifies me every day. I worry that somehow, someone’s not going to tell me, “This is not going to cut it” to somehow protect my feelings.
It’s fascinating. You have this fear that because you have a disability that someone would treat you differently regarding work expectations. Bill Russell put equality in the finest statement ever, especially when it comes to employment. He said, “You know you’ve reached equality when you get fired for the same reasons as everyone else.” He’s so spot-on.
People shouldn’t be hired if they can’t perform the essential function of the job. This is crystal clear in ADA, and it’s true whether somebody has a disability or not. … Someone with a disability is usually used to being pretty flexible around many areas of life . Not everyone, of course. ... But there are a lot of obstacles that arise unexpectedly that you’re used to working around which tends to make you actively think as a troubleshooter.
We talk about these issues in the “beyond the label” campaign. We all have different aspects of our lives that get labelled, whether you’re the loud guy who talks too much at parties or the person who dresses funny. It doesn’t change the way you do your job, and that’s true of disability itself as well.
HP: Those ads are pretty funny. You tap into a comical dimension in many of your comments, including the logistics of traveling. You’ve done a lot of traveling in your work.
JE: Yeah, I’ve been a little bit of everywhere.
HP: How do you do that? If you want to go to Philadelphia for a day, how do you do that?
JE: Philadelphia has the worst airport in the U.S., I swear to God, but please don’t tell anyone I said that. Essentially, it’s all about planning ahead. Some airlines are better than the others. Southwest has always been amazing. It just kills me that Midwest Express is gone.
You let the airline know that you’re a disabled passenger. American is really good. It is one of the few airlines where if you go on the Web site and you check the box that says “Disabled Passenger,” someone will actually  call you. I almost thought I was being punked the first time it happened. I heard: “We heard you’re a disabled passenger. What can we do to help?” I'm like, “Who is this, really?”
Sure enough, they were all about making sure things were prepared for your flight. Basically it's making sure the airlines understand your needs (transfer assistance, lifting help, aisle chair, etc.) to make sure that help is available when you arrive. Not only does it make your flight and transfer easier, it expedites loading, which is a win-win for everyone.
When I travel, they transfer me onto an aisle chair, which I always joke and say that it’s the thong version of a real wheelchair. They are seriously tiny chairs, as in thin enough to glide easily down an airplane aisle. The first time I saw one, I thought, “I'm 6’4” and I go about 240. Where do I put my other butt cheek?”
I also have a hard time getting my shoulders through the aisles. Chairs aren’t made to carry broad shoulders. But that’s where you end up going. They strap you in, Hannibal Lecter style. They put cross straps across your arms, across your legs, and then they transfer you onto the plane itself. Once on board, they stow your wheelchair down with the cargo and you’re off.
It takes some extra planning. You may have to find a rental car that's accessible, especially if you have a problem getting access to public transportation. Finding accessible cabs is another interesting process, particularly when you are quite tall. It requires a lot of extra planning, but it’s all quite worth it.
Many people say, “Wow, it’s a big pain in the ass to fly anywhere.” It still beats the hell out of driving there. The drive to Hawaii is a nightmare. I've probably got the right body content to float there, but I’ll take the plane.
HP: That’s probably a good place to end it.