Advocacy

As advocates for our readers with disabilities, AMS Vans brings you relevant news, emerging issues and inspirational stories. Significant, new ideas and events are transforming the lives of people with disabilities throughout the world. We cover individuals and organizations who help those with disabilities improve their living conditions. Read about celebrities who establish coalitions and non-profits in support of handicapped children. You’ll learn how people with disabilities use their personal struggles to modify the attitudes and perceptions of an unenlightened society with impressive results. It’s all about upgrading the status-quo for people with disabilities.

man's hand on wheel of wheelchair

How to Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits After a SCI

If you have suffered a serious spinal cord injury that has left you unable to work, you might be eligible to receive Social Security Disability benefits. Spinal cord injuries result from trauma suffered by the tissue, nerves, and bones around the spine. Usually an accident, such as serious fall or a car crash, causes injuries to the spinal cord. The symptoms can vary significantly, but most of these injuries lead to a loss of functioning.

Where the spine has been injured affects the symptoms and their severity. Numbness and pain are the most common symptoms suffered from such injuries. These injuries might cause problems in other parts of the body. As an example, injuring the middle spine might cause loss of function in the areas below it. If there is only partial injury to the spine, which means there are functioning areas below the injury, it is considered an incomplete spinal cord injury.

Meeting the Medical Criteria for a Spinal Cord Listing

close up of book spine with a penThe Blue Book, which is the medical guide used by the Social Security Administration (SSA), covers spinal cord injuries under Section 1.04– Disorders of the Spine. To be approved for disability benefits using this listing, you must be able to provide medical evidence that shows spinal cord damage. You will also need proof that your spinal cord injury causes nerve root compression that results in weakness, pain, and the inability for effective ambulation. These things must be shown through physician statements, medical images, and treatment records.

If you are paralyzed, but don’t qualify through that listing, refer to Section 11.00 – Neurological Disorders. Spinal cord disorders are evaluated under Listing 11.08. Spinal cord disorders with complete loss of function are under listing 11.08A, which covers a lack of sensory, autonomic, and motor functioning of the affected body part. Spinal cord disorders with disorganization of motor function are under listing 11.08B, which addresses in less than a complete loss of functioning in the affected body part, which means a reduction of functioning.

Medical Vocational Allowance

Individuals who have spinal cord injuries might not be able to work because of being in a wheelchair, because of incontinence issues, or because of the overall body fitness decrease that causes them to be unable to perform any work, including a sedentary job. The SSA will review the overall picture and the different circumstances when rendering a decision. An individual will only be approved for disability benefits if he or she can show that they are unable to work because of the spinal cord injury.

Using a medical vocational allowance, you can be approved for disability benefits by all your symptoms and conditions being considered in conjunction with your age, educational background, work history, and transferrable skills. This will determine what kind of work, if any, you can perform.

Applying for Disability Benefits

If you are ready to apply for Social Security Disability benefits, you can start the process online. You can also start the process over the phone by calling 1-800-772-1213 or by calling and setting up an appointment with a representative at your local SSA office. Documentation, including hard medical evidence, is the key to having a successful disability claim.

Learn more from Disability Benefits Help here.

Resources Found Via:

Disability Benefits: https://www.ssa.gov/disability/
AMS Vans: https://www.amsvans.com/about
Blue Book Description: https://www.disabilitybenefitscenter.org/glossary/blue-book
Blue Book Listing: https://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/1.00-Musculoskeletal-Adult.htm#1_04
Blue Book Listing: https://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/11.00-Neurological-Adult.htm#11_08
Medical Vocational Allowance: https://www.disabilitybenefitscenter.org/glossary/medical-vocational-allowance
Apply Here: https://www.ssa.gov/applyfordisability/
Local Offices: https://secure.ssa.gov/ICON/main.jsp

Celebrating 29 Years of the Americans With Disabilities Act

Disabilities are nothing new. However, the fact that the country has been helping people with disabilities is still relatively new. This month, we celebrate 29 years of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Developed in 1990, the Americans With Disabilities Act was a milestone that has created equal opportunities for people with disabilities.

It Started With the Capitol Crawl capital crawl where people with disabilities climbed the steps of the U.S. capitol building

In March of 1990, there were dozens of activists with disabilities who got out of their wheelchairs in order to “crawl” up the steps to the Capitol building to protest that the government wasn’t sufficiently advocating for those with disabilities.

It took quite a while for the ADA to pass through Congress. It was introduced in 1988 with bipartisan support. Since it took so long to pass, the Capitol Crawl was used to garner support and show that our community wouldn’t be ignored. After that, Congress pushed it through, becoming law in July of the same year.

What the Americans With Disabilities Act Offers

The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits people with disabilities from being discriminated, including in such areas as public accommodations, transportation, employment, access to local and state government programs, as well as communications.

A variety of different federal agencies will enforce or investigate claims surrounding ADA. This includes the US Department of Labor, US Department of Transportation, FCC, US Equal Employment opportunity Commission, the US Department of Justice, the US Department of Education, the US Department of Health and Human Services, and even the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board.

Developed in 1990, the Americans With Disabilities Act was a milestone. Indeed, it ensures that people do not discriminate against the disabled.

Confident business owners planning new business strategies.

Since the ADA was passed, communities have become more and more accessible. This includes everything from mandatory wheelchair accessible parking to curb-cuts. Almost all buses today are wheelchair accessible. Employers can’t discriminate against someone because of a disability. Government buildings have gone through renovations to allow access to all. Service dogs are protected and allowed to serve their owners, regardless of where they are.

The Timeline of Changes

Although the ADA was first developed in 1990, changes have been ongoing, providing even more rights to those with disabilities. For example, in 1991 there were more laws that focused on public accommodations. Then, in 1992, the ADA expanded to include employers with 25 or more employees. In 1999, there were two rulings by the Supreme Court that helped ensure that more people were covered by the Americans with disabilities act, including those taking certain types of medication. Even in 2006, there were updates to transportation regulations.

President Bush signs the Americans with Disabilities Act on July 26, 1990

President Bush signs the Americans with Disabilities Act on July 26, 1990

By 2008, there was the ADA Amendments Act, known as ADAAA. This was signed into law by Pres. George W. Bush as a way of counteracting the Supreme Court’s narrow interpretation of disability. It provided broader protection from discrimination. Further, it ensured that the definition of disability included having a mental or physical impairment that significantly limits one or multiple areas of life.

While the ADA and the following amendments have gone so far to ensure access and protect the rights of Americans with disabilities, there is still much work to be done. Attitudinal barriers and enforcement of the law continue to be a challenge for many people. We’re proud at AMS Vans to be a part of the fight!

Learn more about becoming a disability rights advocate from United Spinal Association here.

A Solution for Those With Disabilities

At AMS Vans LLC, we have been helping those with disabilities for over 20 years, all across the nation. We’ll work directly with you to provide quality wheelchair accessible vans that provide you with the mobile freedom that you desire. We offer a number of conversions – and you can find long and short-term rentals as well as direct sales to meet your personal needs. With AMS Vans, you can count on nationwide delivery and service, leasing and financing options and unmatched customer service.

5 Actors on Wheels Making Moves in Hollywood

The characters we see on film and TV are becoming more and more diverse. It’s not uncommon these days to see a character with a disability in a show or movie. In the past, though, most actors portraying those characters were played by actors without disabilities. But, thanks to the hard work and perseverance of many dedicated individuals, people with disabilities are taking their rightful place in Hollywood among the stars.

Here are some actors on wheels that have made a name for themselves in the entertainment biz.

1. Micah Fowler

actor micah fowler

Micah Fowler, Image: IMDB

What did you get for your eighteenth birthday? For Micah, he got a lead role in a TV series. The show Speechless is about JJ, a young adult living with cerebral palsy. It aims at giving viewers insights on the challenges faced by people, and specifically teens, with special needs. They tackle issues like dating, parenting, disability awareness, healthcare and more.

Born in 1998 in New Jersey, he started acting when he was five because of his older sister and best friend, Kelsey. He took the next step in his career after his sister booked a role on Broadway. This led him to roles in Blue’s CluesSesame Street, and the film Labor DayMicah is also an ambassador to the Cerebral Palsy Foundation and devotes his time to the foundation’s efforts when not performing.

2. Teal Sherer

actress teal sherer

Teal Sherer, Image: IMDB

Teal went from taking theatre classes in college and working on school productions, to starring in the Emmy nominated film Warm Springs alongside Kathy Bates, and working closely with Kenneth Branagh as he prepared for his role of Franklin D. Roosevelt. She has appeared on TV on Survivor’s Remorse, The Guild, and more recently on NCIS: New Orleans. Also a dancer, Teal has performed with the Full Radius Dance Company and appeared on the NBC pilot of I’m with Stupid.

Teal is well-known in the disability community for her web series My Gimpy Life, which won the 2013 Best Female Comedy Performance at the Web Television Awards. She has also been featured in national commercials for clients including Liberty Mutual insurance, Disneyland (Cars Land) and Chrysler.

Next up for Teal, she’ll be starring in the Pulitzer Prize winning play Cost of Living in Vancouver, Canada! And, we’re sure much more!

3. Daryl ‘Chill’ Mitchell

actor daryl Chill Mitchell holding an award

Daryl “Chill” Mitchell, Image: NewMobility.com

Daryl ‘Chill’ Mitchell is without a doubt one of the most recognizable faces when it comes to actors who roll, with film and TV credits dating back to the 80’s. His staying power is a testament to his work ethic and likable personality – and we can expect to see Chill on the big screen for years to come.

Starting as a member of a hip hop group in the 1980’s, he saw further success in acting with roles in films like House Party, The Inside Man, Galaxy Quest and 10 Things I Hate About You, to name a few. He also made appearances in TV shows like The Cosby Show, Becker, Brothers and Desperate Housewives. Since 2014 he has had a role on NCIS: New Orleans and joined the cast of Fear The Walking Dead in 2018.

Chill has paved the way for so many other actors on wheels -and we’re really proud to have as a customer here at AMS Vans in Atlanta!

4. Ali Stroker

actress and Tony award winner Ali Stroker

Ali Stroker, Image: AliStroker.com

You may have heard Ali Stroker‘s name recently, as she just became the first performer in a wheelchair to win a Tony Award for her role of Ado Annie in the revival of the classic Broadway show Oklahoma!!

She has performed at the Kennedy and Lincoln Centers, earned a Barrymore Award nomination for her role in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and was cast as Tamara in ABC’s show Ten Days in the Valley. A talented singer as well, Ali was a finalist on the second season of The Glee Project, and later appeared as a guest star on Glee in 2013. She played the role of Anna in Deaf West’s 2015 revival of Spring Awakening and appeared on the new Lethal Weapon TV series.

Being the first isn’t new to Ali Stroker. In fact, she became the first actress in a wheelchair to earn a degree in Fine Arts from New York University in 2009. Further, in 2015, she became the first performer in a wheelchair to appear on Broadway. If you have kids, you may have also seen her cameos on Sesame Street!

5. Santina Muha

actor and comedian Santina Muha

Santina Muha, Image: IMDB

Growing up in New Jersey as a member of an extended Italian family, humor has been a big part of Muha’s life. Paralyzed at the age of 6 after being involved in a car accident, she found that comedy would often ease the tension in a room. Santina grew up studying pop culture and learning from her favorite actors on TV – and from a young age, it was clear she was destined for stardom. Today she is a comic, actress, writer, storyteller and improviser currently plying her trade in Los Angeles.

Since joining UCB in 2013, Santina has contributed to their shows; hosting Rollin’ with my Homies, and writing and performing her one-woman show, That Girl in the Wheelchair. Not only is Santina raising awareness and dismantling stereotypes for people in wheelchairs through her comedy and writing, but she is also improving physical access to stages around UCB that have never been accessible before.

Santina is best known for her roles on Comedy Bang! Bang!One Day at a Time and starring opposite Joaquin Phoenix in Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot. Keep an eye out for this Jersey girl, because you’ll be seeing much more of her!

If you're an actor in a wheelchair, Hollywood is ready for you! With dedication and hard work, your dream can come to life! #actorswithdisabilities Click To Tweet

 

disability mobile apps

Top 8 Mobile Apps for Persons with Disabilities

When 12-year-old Alexander Knoll saw a man in a wheelchair struggle to get through a heavy door in his hometown of Post Falls, Idaho, he was struck with an ingenious idea. What if there were an app or website that could communicate to persons with disabilities which stores in the area had automatic doors? And from that simple consideration, an adaptable solution was born.

The young entrepreneur went to work, developing the Ability App — a free accessibility application akin to Yelp which helps people with disabilities navigate public spaces by providing information about wheelchair ramps, disabled parking, braille menus and more. One visit to the Ellen DeGeneres show and a check from Shutterfly for $25,000 later, Alex’s idea is on its way to completion.

In fact, mobile apps for Android and iOS smartphones are rapidly helping people with disabilities to find their way around the world much better — and helping to live better lives in the process. From travelling guidance to accessibility hacks — even personal dating — here are the top 8 mobile apps for persons with disabilities. Continue reading