Tag Archives: accessible

Doggie Day – What You Might Not Know About Service Dogs

On October 14, AMS Vans is participating in disAbility Link’s Doggie Day event! This event will educate folks about service dogs, offer low-cost vaccinations for your service dog, and have fun activities and prizes for kids!

Service dogs are a worth-while investment because they have, in fact, been proven to enhance the lives of their partners by making them feel more independent, which in turn boosts self-esteem and provides more opportunities to experience more things.
Continue reading

Top Tips to Improve Handicap Accessible Gardening

an example of a wheelchair accessible garden

Summer is here, and it is a great time to get out in the fresh air and work in the garden. Many people find gardening therapeutic; it offers physical as well as mental and emotional stimulation. With the help of special adaptive tools, nearly anyone with a disability can still reap the benefits of indoor or outdoor gardening. With careful planning and the right tools, gardens can be designed to work around most limitations.

Handicap Accessible Garden

Tips for Planning an Accessible Garden

Instead of giving into the impulse to jump right in, taking time to map out your garden will allow you to ensure that caring for your garden will be possible. Here are a few considerations to get you started:

  • Plan garden paths to have a firm surface such as concrete walkways or rubber mats between rows, and allow at least 3 feet of walkway for wheelchair access.
  • Raise the beds of the garden to at least 2 feet tall for wheelchair users or for those who have difficulty bending or kneeling to garden.

raised garden bed is wheelchair accessible

  • Consider the width of the bed. For wheelchair users, 2 feet is an ideal reach, while 2.5 feet is ideal for those that can stand. If you can place walkways on either side of the bed, you can double the width to 4 feet for wheelchair reach or 5 feet for standing reach.
  • Place newspaper or weed-suppressing membranes down and plant your garden in slits in the material or paper and apply plenty of mulch around plants to discourage weeds from taking root.

Adaptable Gardening Tools

Traditional gardening tools may present a challenge for certain types of disabilities. Consider some of the following tools to make gardening easier:

tool for accessible gardening special trowel handle for accessible gardening special cultivator for accessible garden special handles can make garden tools more usable


  • Cut and Hold tools are available in various sizes and require the use of only one hand. These tools allow for pruning and dead heading, and make working with difficult to reach areas a breeze.
  • Snap-on, twist-on, and clip-on heads provide additional reach when used in a sitting position.
  • If reaching the soil level is a challenge, there are a variety of gardening tools manufactured for people with disabilities. These often have handles that allow the hand and wrist to remain in a neutral, stress-free position.

There are so many benefits to working in a garden, from the fresh air and vitamin D to just the pleasure of watching things grow. Why not make gardening part of your summer this year?

Wheehclair Accessible Gardening


Image sources:

Wheelchair Accessibility Not a Priority at Hollister Clothing Store Chain

Inaccessible Hollister stores

The Hollister clothing store in the Colorado Park Meadows shopping mall was recently cited by a local judge for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by not providing adequate access for individuals who use wheelchairs. Wheelchair accessibility is a major concern for shoppers with physical disabilities, and violations of the ADA can often go unpunished. This was not the case in Colorado when the US District Judge Wiley Daniel ruled that the store was in clear violation of the ADA.

This ruling comes after two years of legal wrangling between Colorado residents and the Hollister stores, which are a brand owned by Abercrombie & Fitch Co. Five wheelchair users and the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition took on the clothing giant in a lawsuit in 2009, citing that the store did not provide clear wheelchair accessible entrances. The wheelchair users claimed discrimination because the main entrances to the store were not wheelchair accessible. The main entrances were built to resemble porches with steps leading up to the doors.

Inaccessible Hollister stores

The filers of the lawsuit claimed that the entrances violated the ADA because these main entrances were not on ground level and had to be accessed by taking steps. According to the law, all main entrances must be equally accessible to individuals with and without disabilities, and entrances cannot be “segregated” or split into disabled and non-disabled access.

The stores claimed that they were following the law by providing wheelchair accessible entrances at the side of the building, to either side of the main porch entrances. Hollister also claimed that these accessible doors were not separate from the main entrances and that they were used by the general public as well as individuals with disabilities.

Inaccessible Hollister stores

The judge ruled that the Hollister stores did violated the ADA by not providing equal access to all and by segregating their disabled entrances. According to the Denver Post, the judge stated that the clothing store “took a micro view” which allowed them to comply with details in the regulations without taking the aims of the ADA to heart and fulfill its “overarching aims.” Judge Daniel told the Denver Post, “To say that the issue of which door is used by the majority of customers is a genuine issue of fact ignores the obvious.”

For continued reading, this is an interesting first-person take on navigating a different Hollister store from a wheelchair:


VH1 Award Honors Inclusive Cheerleading Founder with Special Recognition

The Sparkles Cheerleaders

Sarah Cronk, the creator of the Sparkle Effect, a non-profit organization that helps high schools around the world create inclusive cheerleading programs, was awarded the $100,000 as part of VH1’s Do Something Award. The award recognizes teens who promote social change, and Sarah’s organization aims to help teens learn that individuals with disabilities are capable of great things. Just 18-years-old and cheerleader herself, Sarah created and coached the first inclusive cheerleading team that includes both students with disabilities and without disabilities when she was just 15-years-old!

Sparkle's Sarah Cronk Wins Do Something Award

Sarah started an inclusive cheerleading squad—the Spartan Sparkles—at her high school after noticing the struggles of her brother, who has autism, to fit in and find social outlets. Her brother was befriended by the school’s swim team captain, and Sarah saw how this simple act of inclusion changed her brother’s life for the better. A cheerleader herself, she wanted to help other kids with disabilities like her brother’s have a better high school experience and enjoy sports and other extracurricular activities that they had not been able to enjoy.

Founder Sarah Cronk and some of her Sparkles Cheerleaders

The Spartan Sparkles cheerleading squad, which performed at sports games along with the regular squad, was a huge success. In 2009, the program reached capacity, and instead of congratulating herself on a job well done, Sarah wanted to expand the program. She then created the Sparkle Effect with the goal of helping other high schools create similar inclusive sports programs for teens with developmental and physical disabilities. The Sparkle Effect provides mentors, support, training, grants for uniforms, as well as a free starter kit for schools and organizations who want to start inclusive sports programs.

Map of Sparkles Cheer Team Locations
Map of Sparkles Cheer Teams Across the USA

“Students at all the schools have reported that cheerleaders who are on the squads who have disabilities are being included outside of the squad,” Sarah said in a video that aired during the VH1 show. “People are more willing to talk to them at school. It puts the spotlight on their abilities rather than their disabilities.”

Sparkles Cheerleaders

The Sparkle Effect now helps over 50,000 students with and without disabilities understand the importance of inclusion. The Do Something Award will help the program expand and reach even more teens, so that a new generation of people will be able to understand that abilities are more important than disabilities.

Three cheers for Sarah!


Teen Behind Inclusive Cheerleading Awarded $100K On VH1