February 2010

Model in Wheelchair Stars in Fashion Campaign

Wheelchair Fashion Model
The British department store, Debenhams, has cast wheelchair user Shannon Murray in its recent fashion campaign for famous designer Ben de Lisi’s brand called Principles.
The campaign also includes three other models that the company considers more realistic: Tess who is 5 feet 4 inches and considered petite, Tokumbo Daniel, who is a size 10, and Kate Fullman, who is a size 16.

Shannon has been modeling for over fourteen years, but she felt the Debenhams shoot was different because it was “another small step towards inclusion and representation.”

This was the first High Street campaign to feature a woman in a wheelchair, and disability advocates were mostly positive about the images. A spokesperson from the Direct Action Network, Clair Lewis, said: ‘As long as the campaign is more than just a brief moment of tokenism then I think it should be welcomed,’ she said.
‘Britain is a varied placed filled with women of different sizes and ethnic backgrounds. The models and high street windows should reflect that variety but all too often they don’t.’

When asked his thoughts about the campaign, fashion designer Ben de Lisi added: “I think Shannon looks amazing.”

We think she does too! What do you think?

More: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1253699/Wheelchair-user-set-disabled-model-star-major-High-Street-campaign-Debenhams.html?ITO=1490

Stevie Wonder to Accept AAPD Image Award

On March 10, at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington D.C., legendary musician and recording artist Stevie Wonder will be awarded the American Association of People with Disabilities Image Award. (AAPD).  This will be the first time the AAPD has honored an entertainer whose personal example helps to improve the way people with disabilities are perceived by society.  Blind since infancy, Stevie Wonder has won 25 Grammy Awards, an Academy Award, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, as well as the Song Writers Hall of Fame.  Because of his work with the disability community, as well as the anti-apartheid movement, he was chosen as the United Nations Messenger of Peace on International Day of Persons with Disabilities in 2009.
“Stevie Wonder is a global leader who has used his extraordinary talents to be an ambassador for civil rights and social justice,” said Andrew J Imparato, President and CEO of AAPD. “We’re thrilled to be able to recognize his achievements with this inaugural award.”
Founded in 1995, the American Association of People with Disabilities has been a voice for change, politically, economically, and socially.  They have helped unite the diverse community of people with disabilities.

Music Legend Stevie Wonder To Accept Award At AAPD Gala @ Top40-Charts.com – 40 Top 20 & Top 40 Music Charts from 25 Countries

People With Disabilities Risk Losing Funding for Job Services

Disabled Man Working in Bookstore

If you ask Michael Medina about his last job he will tell you “Stacey’s Bookstore, That’s No.1, that’s a wonderful store…it’s the biggest bookstore I ever been to. A wonderful store. You can work as you want-long as you want.”

Michael Medina is 52 years old and has developmental disabilities. Last March the book store he worked for went out of business and he lost his job as a janitor. It is a tough job market, but even more so for the Michael Medina’s of the world as every state considers cutting funding that helps to place people with disabilities in jobs.

Medina, like thousands of others is a client of The Arc. A national nonprofit, The Arc offers support services to those with developmental disabilities. Unfortunately they are at risk of losing precious state funding by September. For now, some large national chains are stepping up to the plate in increasing numbers. Companies like Walgreens, McDonald’s and Safeway continue to create opportunities for people with disabilities. For now, Michael Medina with the help of his job coach has been offered a job as a bagger at Trader Joe’s, and is working hard!!!

Has it been hard for you or your loved one to find employment?  Have any non-profits helped you along the way?

What Happens When Kids Age Out of Special Education?

Special Needs Child

If you are a special needs student, when you reach the age of 21 your education and therapy services run out. It is known as “aging out.” The Individual Disability Education Act guarantees free appropriate education, including any therapies needed, from ages 3 to 21. The federal government provides the funding to the states.

It is over at the age of 21 and the young adults as well as their families are on their own. What happens to these young adults? Where do they go after they “age out?”

Ellen D’Ascenzo is the mother of one such child. Speaking of her daughter Nicole, Mrs. D’Ascenzo says: “There has to be a way that Nicole can continue to be among her peers with disabilities, in an appropriate day treatment program,” she said. “Currently, there is no such place in the area. STAR (Society for the Advancement of the Retarded) in Norwalk does a wonderful job, but their program is designed for more functional individuals with special needs.”

Cerebral Palsy Center of Westchester (CPW) is interested in setting up a program in Norwalk, however CPW requires a minimum of 15 young adults before they can begin a Connecticut program. A 7,000-square-foot handicap-accessible site has been found. Mrs. D’Ascenzo has reached 10 families who are also affected by the “aging out” of their special needs children. Mrs. D’Ascenzo is sure that there are many more in the Norwalk area that would benefit from this program, and is meeting and networking with other families.

Have you been affected by the “aging out” process? If so, what has your family done?

Source: https://www.acorn-online.com/joomla15/wiltonbulletin/news/localnews/50026-special-needs-students-face-aging-out-dilemma.htm

Wheelchair Sports for Seniors

Staying active is paramount for seniors, to aid continued good health in both mind and body. Seniors in wheelchairs often participate in wheelchair sports that have adapted rules to accommodate not only their physical abilities, but limited mobility as well.

History of Handicap Symbol


One of the most recognized symbols is the handicap symbol, officially called the International Symbol of Access. It is a royal blue square overlaid in white with a stylized image of a person using a wheelchair. It is maintained as an International Standard which means of transcends all languages, and its appearance is uniform in every country in the world. The image is a copyright of the International Commission on Technology and Accessibility.

Rehabilitation International, a federation of 145 organizations in 82 countries that conducts programs to assist people with disabilities and work for prevention, rehabilitation and integration decided to create the International Sign of Access. In 1968, Susan Koefoed submitted her design with six other potential symbols to be judged by an independent and international jury. Shortly after, Susan’s symbol became one of the most commonly recognized symbols in the world as the International Symbol of Access.

After the design was voted in deliberations began to identify exactly what the symbol was to denote officially. A document on guidance was prepared for the uses of the International Symbol of Access bearing in mind varying circumstances in different countries.

The Specific Uses of the International Symbol of Access

  • Mark a parking space reserved for mobility vehicles used by disabled people or blue badge holders
  • Mark a vehicle used by a disabled person, often to denote to enforcement authorities permission to use an accessible parking space
  • Mark a public lavatory with facilities designed for wheelchair users
  • Indicate a button to activate an automatic door
  • Indicate an accessible transit station (e.g. table) or vehicle with accessible seating
  • Indicate a transit route that uses handicap accessible vehicles (e.g. ramped curbs on sidewalks and elevators in lieu of stairs or escalators in buildings with multiple floors)

In addition to these basic uses, Rehabilitation International further defined the International Symbol of Access by publishing guideline set forth in the “Guidelines for Improving Access for Disabled People” in 1983. The main points of the document are to set a minimal standard that public entities provide:

  • A barrier free approach to the building
  • An accessible entrance
  • Accessible and usable facilities
  • Accessible and usable toilets

The International Symbol of Access is to be displayed at the key points of first use and at the principal entrance of all these mandated accessible environments.

Organizations like Rehabilitation International and ongoing amendments to laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) continue to mandate appropriate accommodations be made for the disabled. This is so they may enjoy the quality of life all citizens, regardless of physical ability, are entitled to as set forth in the ideals this country was founded on.

How to Do a Wheelie in a Wheelchair

Learning how to do a wheelie in a wheelchair is more than a cool party trick to amaze your friends. It’s a necessary skill you will need to guide your chair up onto curb that don’t have accessible ramps as well as popping a wheelie to lean against a wall in a semi-reclined position to relieve the pressure of sitting in a chair all day. Popping a wheelie also assists you to turn around in a small space.

What exactly IS a wheelie? Wheelies are based on 2 basic principles. First, the front of the chair is raised by pushing backwards on the back of the chair. It’s the back of the chair that does the lifting, there is no need to get a running head start to pop a wheelie. The other principal is balance. When you lift the front end of the chair, as soon as you feel weightless, you’ll know to begin compromising by shifting your body weight forward and backward as needed to maintain balance.

Before you start practicing, there are several safety points to address. First, get permission from your doctor. It is recommended that you use a spotter when first teaching yourself to pop a wheelie. A spotter is someone that will maintain control of the wheelchair while practice learning how to balance your weight on the two back wheels. Before beginning, make sure your anti-tip tubes are down. This will prevent your chair from tipping backwards and cause a fall until you are more comfortable doing wheelies. While using a spotter and anti-tip tubes will greatly reduce the amount of times you fall, it is almost certain that you will fall a few times. No fall can be completely safe, however if you tuck your chin to your chest, your chances of coming out of the fall without injury is markedly improved.

Getting a feel for your chair on two wheels is a great way to start. Place your hands at the top of your wheels and slightly left (about 11:00 on a clock). Now lean forward and arch your back forward. Bounce your body off the back of the chair and lean back while holding your hands still. Keep practicing. When you can bounce the front end off the ground, you’ll be ready to move forward.

Once you can bounce the front end of your chair, it’s simply a matter of changing your center of gravity by pushing your chair forward while your body weight is going backwards.

You are now ready to actually “pop” wheelies by bouncing on the back of your chair and pushing forward at the same time. Reach back and place your hands at 10:00 on the wheels. Lean forward, arch your back forward and then begin to push forward quickly while letting your body come back against the chair. When you back hits the chair, your hands should be right at the top of the wheels. Continue to lean back and push the chair forward. Now your front end should start to leave the ground. By the time your hands get to 2:00, your front end should feel weightless, and you should be starting to think of leaning forward and backward to maintain your balance.

AMS Vans Announces New Rear Entry Access Van


AMS Vans, Inc. Now Carries New Rear Entry Access Van

NORCROSS, GA –  AMS Vans, Inc. is proud to announce the newest addition to their array of mobility products.  The Rear Entry Access van, also known as the long channel conversion, will fulfill a niche, rounding out their line of conversion vans. This eagerly-awaited model has a 99-inch long lowered floor ~ a full 33.5 inches more than the short channel ~ and seats up to two wheelchairs and four additional occupants.

The new long channel van is ideal for taxi services, non-emergency medical transport companies, and wheelchair passengers who may require just a bit of extra room.  It also offers flexibility with seating options, allowing wheelchair passengers to ride as far forward or rearward in the channel as they are comfortable.  Assisted living facilities, colleges, churches, and any other group that may have need to transport more than one wheelchair occupant at a time will find this to be the perfect solution.  Any provider that services multiple passengers in wheelchairs will also enjoy the peace of mind that comes with having a generous 56” high door opening and 31” wide ramp.  That, combined with the longer channel, ensures that you can provide handicap mobility to almost any wheelchair occupant that you wish to serve.

The AMS long channel rear entry van is fully ADA compliant, as are all AMS rear entry wheelchair vans.  It offers the same great safety features and reliability of any AMS van, which customers have come to rely on for many, many years.  AMS is always working to stay on the cutting edge of accessible mobility.  Having provided accessible vans to the wheelchair community for over 10 years, AMS knows the difficulties that can come with traveling for these customers and is dedicated to meeting and exceeding their mobility needs.  Their goal to produce the best values at the lowest prices has allowed them to remain a leader in the industry.  This latest unveiling is yet another example of how AMS Vans, Inc. strives to make sure that your mobility needs are met with excellence!

AMS Vans, Inc. is located in Norcross, GA, just North of Atlanta, and sells and delivers its products all across the United States, from coast to coast.  For more information on buying a rear entry accessible vehicle or van conversions for your minivan to be converted to the long channel wheelchair van, please contact AMS Vans at 800-775-VANS or go to www.amsvans.com.  Our mobility consultants are available from 8am – 8pm EST to serve you.

Budget Cuts Endanger People with Disabilities

For Americans with disabilities who are unable to survive without government assistance, the economic crisis we are facing is devastating. Even though the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has been very supportive of those and are being forced to rely on charity instead of relying on a paycheck.

The commonwealth’s FY 2011 budget, as recommended by Gov. Deval Patrick, contains especially tragic consequences for people with developmental disabilities.
Cuts for people with developmental disabilities include:

– 300 people losing their homes and residential supports;

– 35 group homes being shuttered;

– 450 people losing their jobs and employment training;

– 1,000 families losing individual, family and respite services;

– 400 families losing minimal help for their disabled child to keep the child in the home and out of a costly out-of-home placement.

When the state’s revenue collapse threatened to cut millions from disabilities programs last fall, hundreds of families participated in a “Vigil to Save the Safety Net.” Loved ones with disabilities were brought to the waiting room of the governors office so they could personally ask the governor to protect crucial services. Involved were a number of elderly parents who were terrified of what would happen to their disabled children.

“In the next two months, the Legislature and the governor will determine where disabled people cut off from services will go. Let’s hope compassion reigns and these programs are restored.”

Blumenthal: Budget crisis threatens people with disabilities – Waltham, MA – The Daily News Tribune

Young Boy Harassed at Philadelphia Airport

Born 16 weeks prematurely 4 year old Ryan Thomas is developmentally delayed. He had just started walking last March when his family planned a trip to Disney World to celebrate his birthday. At the Philadelphia International Airport the TSA screener forced young Ryan to remove his braces and walk through the metal detector without the aid of his Mother. Ryans father asked to speak to a supervisor before they boarded their flight. It is reported that the supervisor stood by the screener.

An apology finally came last week from TSA’s security director Bob Ellis. The Philadelphia Inquirer was told that the boy should have been swabbed for traces of explosives in a private screening area in place of the action that was taken. The TSA has an official blog with a public forum sections. Travelers have cited previous problems when the agency made disabled people remove leg braces. In one incident in 2008, a woman in Seattle had to remove her braces and “stumble through the magnetometer.”