Friday, December 25, 2009

Seasons Greetings!

Whatever holiday you celebrate, may the best the season has to offer be yours.

Thank You for your readership, and support.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

So Where You Been?

After a nearly perfect record of weekly blog posts running since January of this year, I suddenly dropped off the face of the earth... or so it would seem. While the "alien abduction" story has more "thrill factor" I really can't run with that, as much as I might like. However, if I ever am abducted by visitors from some far distant world, I promise to faithfully report on how ADA compliant they were. After all, that's what I do.

So where have I been all this time? For one (and this is big) I've been performing a juggling act of sorts between BVR and Lourdes College -- I start in Spring 2010 - less than a month from now. Most of the hard work is done. I finally have my new wheelchair. I have a new ramp. I have an account with TARTA for transportation. I'm registered for classes. All that's left (as far as I know) is tuition and book procurement.

Plenty to do on that front, with each organization having their own sets of procedures, and me in the middle, trying to tie the loose ends together. Still, I'm close, and I'm looking forward to returning to school and meeting the new people, and challenges, I will find there. Lourdes is a great college, and I can't remember the last time I met such friendly and helpful staff.

As a side note to that, I originally planned to include updates on my adventures and lessons learned while at Lourdes in this blog, but decided against that in the end. Ultimately, the two topics really deserve their own stages, and so, beginning soon, I will be launching a new blog called "Lourdes on Wheels." Watch for it here

Another "distraction" has been the Buckeye Barrier Buster website, which underwent some changes over the past few months. One big change was that I decided to fold my other project, the Toledo Access Guide, into the website. You can learn more about that by visiting the website, and while there, please sign up for a free membership. From now on, all important updates and announcements concerning our advocacy organization will be posted there. This blog will go back to it's roots, with topics of interest to our disabled community.

So that's what I've been up to. How about you? I hope the snow and cold have not been posing a barrier to your intended lifestyle, and I hope your holiday, whichever you may celebrate, is special. I'll see you in 2010!

P.S. Beginning next week I will occasionally feature a guest blogger on relevant topics of interest locally, as well as globally. I hope you find the new expanded format informative and entertaining. Thank each of you for being a faithful reader as I bring my first year to a close. I wouldn't be here without you, even if I could. We're in this together, as it should be.

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Are You Prepared?

Disaster can strike at any time.

Nobody likes to think about a disaster, or sudden emergency. It's scary, and it makes us very uncomfortable. We think that it will never happen to us, and thankfully, most times we are right. Still, the chance always exists that at some point we will experience a fire, a severe storm, or an extended power outage. For an able-bodied person, this can be an inconvenience. For a disabled person, this can pose a serious risk to our health and safety, or perhaps even our lives.

This week's post is not meant to frighten you. What follows are a few possible scenarios, and how you can prepare for them. Obviously I can't foresee every possible circumstance, so keep that in mind as you read, and make adjustments as necessary. Ready? Let's get prepared!

Fire. Perhaps one of the more common types of emergency, it's the one we certainly dread the most.

We're sleeping soundly in our warm comfy bed when suddenly an annoying beeping sound rouses us from our slumber. As wakefulness hits, we realize it's the smoke detector! (You do have working smoke detectors in your home, right? You should have at least one on each floor of your home, and replace the batteries with fresh ones at least once a year.)

You reach the bedroom door... but wait. If it's closed, always press your hand against the wood or door knob first. If it's hot, don't open it - fire is likely on the other side. If the door it still cool to the touch, or already open, proceed with caution toward the nearest exit.

A word on exits: Always try to have at least two viable exits from the house, and if possible, each bedroom. While this may be impossible in every circumstance, it's a good thing to plan for anyway. If fire is blocking the front doorway, you need to get out the back. If that's not possible, you should be prepared to break out a window. While you may not be able to climb out through a window by yourself, the presence of a broken window can alert fire or rescue personnel that you are trapped in the house. A small hammer kept near the window can be a real life saver.

While fire is scary, and hot, the most common deaths in a fire are caused by smoke inhalation. If the house is already in flames, it is likely that it will also be filled with heavy black smoke, which can render you unconscious in moments. Two things can help here. One is to soak a towel in water, and drape it over your head. This can keep much of the smoke out while you head for the nearest exit. The other is keeping as close to the ground as possible. Smoke is hot, and collects near the ceiling, leaving a small gap of cooler air near to the floor. If you can, crawl to the exit. This will take longer, but will also buy you extra time to make your escape.

Finally, if you have time to call 9-1-1 before you must exit (but don't waste time making that call if it delays you too much) be sure to mention that you are handicapped, and may have trouble getting to safety. This will alert first responders to look for you immediately upon their arrival.

Storms & Power Failures. These two often go hand-in-hand. A severe thunderstorm, or a tornado, moves through the area. Each has its own risks, but in both cases it's possible that downed power lines could leave you isolated in your now darkened home... perhaps for days. Do you have a plan for surviving without power for an extended period?

The consequences are many. No electricity means no way to charge your electric wheelchair. It may also mean no way to charge a cell phone, and no way to prepare a meal if you use a microwave. In winter, it would mean no heat, and in summer, no air conditioning. It might even represent a threat to your life if you use a mechanical device to aid your breathing, for example. In this final circumstance, it is imperative that you call 9-1-1 at once to alert them to your situation. Also, before disaster strikes you should also notify your local utility providers so that they can keep your name and address on their priority reconnection list.

So what about tornados? Obviously if you're in your home you should stay there. A special exception is a mobile home, but I don't need to educate you about that one. Okay, so where do you go if the alert sirens are blaring? The first choice should always be your basement, but often this is not an option for persons in a wheelchair. In that case, the main floor will have to do. Pick a room with as few windows as possible, or a hallway near the center of the house. Then just wait it out. A tornado moves very quickly, and most pass through a town in a matter of only 10-20 minutes. Hopefully this will never happen to you, but knowing where to go and what to do ahead of time can mean the difference between a good outcome and a bad one. Plan ahead.

I could go on quite a bit on this subject, but I think I've made my point. Everyone should have a disaster plan, of course, but it's especially important for the disabled. I hope you will think about this over the course of the next few days, and then act. It could save your life, or the lives of those you love.

Until next time, be safe.

Note: We have a wonderful e-book (in universal PDF format) on disaster preparedness for the disabled in our Buckeye Barrier Busters Library, free for you to download and consult. Please click on this link to go directly to the page, or just visit, and click on the Library Link. Thanks to FEMA and the American Red Cross for making this publication available to our community.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Employment Awareness Month

For Immediate Release                                                 September 30, 2009
- - - - - - -

Fair access to employment is a fundamental right of every American, including the 54 million people in this country living with disabilities. A job can provide financial stability, help maximize our potential, and allow us to achieve our dreams. As Americans, we possess a range of vocational opportunities to make the most of our talents and succeed in a chosen career; those with disabilities are entitled to the same opportunities. During National Disability Employment Awareness Month, we recommit ourselves to implementing effective policies and practices that increase employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities.
In the past half-century, we have made great strides toward providing equal employment opportunities in America, but much work remains to be done. As part of that continuing effort, we must seek to provide opportunities for individuals with disabilities. Only then can Americans with disabilities achieve full participation in the workforce and reach the height of their ambition.
My Administration is committed to promoting positive change for every American, including those with disabilities. The Federal Government and its contractors can lead the way by implementing effective employment policies and practices that increase opportunities and help workers achieve their full potential. Across this country, millions of people with disabilities are working or want to work. We must ensure they have access to the support and services they need to succeed.
Recognizing the need for equal employment opportunities, we must also strengthen and expand the educational opportunities for individuals with disabilities. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act substantially increased funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and provided more than $500 million for vocational rehabilitation services, including job training, education, and placement. If we are to build a world free from unnecessary barriers, stereotypes, and discrimination, we must ensure that every American receives an education that prepares him or her for future success.
Each day, Americans with disabilities play a critical role in forging and shaping the identity of our Nation. Their contributions touch us all through personal experience or through that of a family member, neighbor, friend, or colleague. We grow stronger as a Nation when Americans feel the dignity conferred by having the ability to support themselves and their families through productive work. This month, we rededicate ourselves to fostering an inclusive work culture that welcomes the skills and talents of all qualified employees.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim October 2009, as National Disability Employment Awareness Month. I call on all Americans to celebrate the contributions of individuals with disabilities to our workplaces and communities, and to promote the employment of individuals with disabilities to create a better, more inclusive America, one in which every person is rightly recognized for his or her abilities and accomplishments.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirtieth day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fourth.

My commentary:
Recognition is not only a warm and comforting thing, it can be a force for positive and powerful change as well. Those of us with disabilities just want a chance to make a contribution to society and to help support our families and loved ones. Many of us have a lot to offer in the workplace, if we're but given a chance. Thank you, Mr. President, for recognizing us.
-- Lawrence Moore, proud (and yes, disabled) American

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Why So Shortsighted?

When insurance companies just get it plain wrong.

If you've been disabled for long (or have cared for someone with a disability) you no doubt have discovered by now that insurance companies are rarely all that pleasant to deal with... or even when pleasant, they often are not as helpful as they should be. Case in point: Medical or adaptive equipment.

I get around, and I hear stories. One woman needed new batteries for her wheelchair, for instance. Her insurance wouldn't pay for batteries (a consumer expense, said they) but they would pay for a new wheelchair if she qualified. Hello?

In my own case, new rubber tips were not allowed (at a cost of under $10) for my crutches, but new crutches were available, at a cost of $100. Hello?

And finally, a case I heard about just this week, about a woman with a speech impediment who found a less expensive option than the text-to-speech converting computer her insurance had purchased for her. She'd learned that a common off-the-shelf iPhone ($300) and a certain app ($1) combo worked better for her than the computer her insurance had approved -- which totaled an astounding $8000. Her request for the iPhone was denied.


Insurance agencies, and especially MediCare, are strangling in rules and red tape. State MediCaid is sometimes even worse. Applying for a durable good or medical service is a process that could try the patience of Job. All too often, people are denied over and over because the goods or services in question fail to meet one criteria or other, forcing persons in dire need to wait, or worse, to be denied altogether.

Technology is advancing way ahead of the bureaucracy when it comes to insurance coverage, and this is a shame, given that newer technology often comes at a much lower cost. Take the iPhone as one example. A simple and yet powerful device that can be used to make calls, of course, but also comes with the capability to run literally hundreds of applications (like tiny computer programs) to perform a plethora of useful functions, like speech translation, navigation, information searches, and so on. Useful to the disabled? You bet! covered by insurance? Yeah, nice try.

So do I have a solution to this problem? I wish I did. For right now, all we can do is seek out these modern answers to our problems, and then begin the arduous task of lobbying our insurance companies, and government, to make them available to us through insurance. The irony is, the insurance companies will thank us (sort of) for saving them a bundle.

Or will they? Nah. What was I thinking? :)

Monday, September 7, 2009

Say What?

Sometimes, people just don't think...

I look at the photo above, and I have to laugh... and I ask myself, what exactly was the person thinking when they posted that sign? Did they see the irony, or did they just complete their assigned task, and move on?

It could be a photoshop fake, of course, except that I have seen many such examples of "selective blind spots" to just pass it off without a closer look. And yes, I do realize that able-bodied persons often accompany friends who are in wheelchairs to stadium events, such as ball games. Perhaps the sign was meant for them, and I'm just reading my own bias into it?


Then again, perhaps not. I have, in the past, called ahead to find out if a certain store or restaurant might pose some kind of barrier to my use of it, and was told in no uncertain terms that the building was "fully handicapped accessible." Sometimes the voice on the other end of the phone was right... but seemingly more often than not, they were wrong. Either there was a small (to them) step blocking the only entrance, or the racks and displays were too close together, or the sole public restroom just happened to be upstairs. Neither of us ended that day happily. Me, from having wasted a trip for nothing, and they from missing out on a potential sale.

Now, in all fairness I realize that no single person can be expected to know enough about every type of disability out there to answer the question of access with 100% accuracy. My diatribe today is not about that. Rather, I'm speaking today of what I earlier described as "selective blind spots" -- or put another way, just not seeing something as a barrier because it's never been a barrier to you.

Allow me to digress just for a moment and share an example of "blind spots" not related to disability. Once many years ago our area was hit by a severe winter storm. It passed rather quickly, dumping over a foot of snow, and bringing down the entire power grid to over half of the city. The damage was pretty bad; we had no power (and thus no heat) for almost a week.

One by one friends and family called in to check up on us. Yes we were fine, thank goodness, but of course we had no lights or heat. "I can loan you an electric blanket" one helpful relative offered. Another offered an electric space heater. Except for nearly freezing to death, it was pretty funny at the time.

The point is, none of these people were stupid, by any means. All were anxious to help. They just couldn't help falling into the blind spot that often develops when we become used (dependent) on things being a certain way. Often, it takes something like a snow storm (metaphorically speaking) to shake them out of this world view so they can see reality in a whole new way.

This is the purpose of educating people about disability issues. This is why I write this blog. If you come upon someone with a blind spot that impacts your disability, don't criticize them. Instead, enlighten them. Do it with humor, and gentleness. Remember too, that what may seem to painfully obvious to us may not be so obvious to them.

Meanwhile, keep a spare electric blanket handy, just in case. :)

Friday, August 21, 2009

A Ramp to Freedom!

When steps just aren't good enough.

Some people believe that the world was created in seven days. To be honest, I've always believed that claim to be more metaphorical than literal, but a recent experience has convinced me that miraculous things can indeed happen in such a short period of time. In my case, a new world was not created, but rather was opened up to me, and it only took three days instead of seven. Let me tell you all about it, in pictures as well as words.

Day 1 - 9:00 am: Here you can see me standing at the top of our old steps which lead up into the sun room at the rear entrance to our house. Clearly they have seen better days. In fact, an occupational therapist recently described them as "hazardous." She was not exaggerating. The steps were cracked, the rails were shaky, and even termites seemed to shy away from them. Clearly, they had to go before they killed someone.

That someone would be me.

Day 1 - 5:00 pm: By the end of the first day, the old steps had been dragged away (and I'm told they now rest upon a nice pile of old lumber scraps somewhere, waiting to be burned - this thought makes me strangely happy) and the framework of the ramp was already in place. As you can see, new steps now lead up to a sturdy platform where the old steps once stood. Construction was delayed a bit while suitable lumber was located and brought to the site. Only the best will do when Accessible Renovations does a job, and it took more than one stop before enough lumber could be found. Thanks guys. I appreciate the extra effort.

The new steps are wider, and lower in height. If need be, I can use these steps while the rest of the ramp is under construction. Elapsed time, about 6 hours including lunch and rest breaks. I am more than a little impressed. Oh, did I mention this? The "work crew" is comprised of exactly one man. Let me introduce you...

The Crew: Here he is folks. His name is Rick and he works for Accessible Renovations, the contractor placed in charge of this job by The Ability Center of Toledo, and of course approved by me before construction began. Rick doesn't exactly strike you as a superman, until you've seen him hoist a stack of twelve-foot 4x4's onto his shoulder and carry them from the truck and around the house to the work site all by himself. It was like watching a magician perform a magic trick... you wanted to ask him how he did it, but on the other hand, you just didn't want to spoil the sense of wonder. It's all I could do to keep myself from pulling up a chair to watch.

Day 2 - noon. The framework is really coming together now. The railings are up, as is the flooring of the ramp from the doorway to the first platform, where I'm standing. Not sure what I was pointing at when the first photo was taken, but I'm sure it must have been interesting. LOL!

Not much left to do now, it seems, except finish the flooring and rails on the second ramp segment which will "switch back" from here toward the house... or more precisely, the concrete patio area, and the side entrance to the garage. The slope is so gentle (30 degree angle if I remember correctly) that walking up and down takes almost no effort at all. My ramp is nearly finished now, I'm told. I find myself growing excited.

Day 3 - 4:00 pm. Today the last flooring section was finished, and the entire ramp structure was spot checked, sanded, and then checked again. I'm no carpenter, but I'm willing to bet that this ramp may well outlive the house. The site was then cleaned up perfectly, and I was invited to inspect the finished project. I walked the full length of the ramp for the first time, and smiled. I can't wait to run this baby in the wheelchair (still on order as I write this) and I am certain it will be a perfect fit.

Prologue: I felt an odd sense of freedom as I walked this ramp for the first time. Before now, I'd considered the old steps a nuisance. But if I'm to be honest, they were much more than that. Of late, I've been (subconsciously perhaps) avoiding having to leave the house. As I age, and my disability progresses, climbing steps is no longer such an "easy" task. Some days, when I'd come home especially tired, I required the help of my sweet wife (hi Lydia!) to make it up the last step. Clearly, I was losing my freedom. Now I have regained a measure of that, thanks to Rick, and Matt Lee of Accessible Renovations, and Mary Kowalik of The Ability Center of Toledo, and of course others known (and unknown) to me. Thank you all, for returning to me my freedom. If I can ever return the favor, you know where I live. Feel free to use the ramp. :)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Autism + Internet = ?

The ZAC Browser... a solution to a very real problem.

As my trip to the "ADA Day at the Zoo" event last week reminded me, there's still a whole lot I don't know about the hardware and software that already exists to help those of us who live with a disability. A case in point is Autism, and some software I discovered only last week that could make cruising the internet a lot easier (and safer) for anyone with that disorder.

The ZAC (Zone for Autistic Children) Browser offers a simplified interface that makes accessing the web much easier and less confusing for most users. What follows is the story of the ZAC Browser in the creators own words. Please see their website for additional details, and important compatibility information.

The origins of Zac Browser

ZAC Browser was originally designed in response to a family problem. In 2002, we were blessed with the arrival of our grandson, Zackary. From very early on, Zackary demonstrated signs of development disorders and in 2005, he was diagnosed with severe autism. For the love of our grandson, it was a pleasure to call together our talents to create an Internet browser specifically dedicated to his needs.

The beginnings of Zac Browser

Zackary demonstrated a lot of frustration with computers at his school. We were able to determine several reasons whenever he used a conventional browser. First we recognized that there were just too many useless functions for Zackary. The right hand mouse button would be a source of frustration. The functions used to reduce or close the browser would have the window disappear and give access to the task bar and the Windows menu functions which all lead to accessing diverse software on the computer along with the uninstall program function.

The creation of Zac Browser

Following the disappointing results obtained with the use of a conventional browser, we designed a software package specifically adapted for him. We designed a "full screen" program that cannot access the task bar, the Start menu and also cancels the right hand function of the mouse. The buttons are limited to essential functions and the browser prevents the child from accessing inappropriate sites. Children suffering from autism are known for being able to adapt easily to PECS (pictograms) so we designed an icon based navigation system like the PECS system.

Zackary’s first experience with the Zac Browser

From the moment that Zackary tried out the Zac Browser we noticed that he had no more frustrations when using the computer. He was no longer able to click on anything that would bring up unpleasant surprises. So we gave complete control to Zackary and so he was able to play, be entertained and took best advantage of what technology has to offer.

Once we noticed the benefits for Zackary it became obvious that this immense virtual playground should be shared with the whole world.

We know that parents who take care of children with autism must dish out a lot of money to ensure the well-being and the proper development of their child. We wish to contribute in our own way and offer you Zac Browser absolutely free.

The official launch was at the end of April 2008 and it was an instant success thanks to the wide media coverage that we were lucky to benefit from.

The future of Zac Browser

We can now count on over a million users in different languages: English, Spanish and French. We don’t expect to stop there. We are following through with our commitment and continue refining Zac Browser so as to always be on the cutting edge of technological advances. Without you having to continually upgrade, Zac Browser automatically adds new sites and videos as they become available. We are also committed to expanding Zac Browser with other languages. If you wish to get involved and contribute to the expansion of Zac Browser, please consult our "Associate" section.

What’s new in Version 1.5

A drawing board
New sites
New videos
Compatibility with the latest Flash sites
Increased speed in loading videos
Color changes of the Browser background
Changes to the "Smiley" in another category
Added application for "Zac Crash Recovery"
Added shortcut to "The Autism"
Added shortcut to our new forum

Ordinarily I'd close with a short summation of this products features, and my own observations and evaluations. However, this time that has proved problematic at best. While I could download and run the browser, I lack the expertise or experience to give this product the proper review it deserves. Therefore, I leave that up to you. If you've tried the ZAC Browser, or are willing to try it, I'd welcome any comments, positive or negative, that you'd care to post.

Until next time, thank you for your readership, and support.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

ADA Zoo Day (pt. 2)

All I can say is... WOW!

As I expected, the 9th annual "ADA Day at the Zoo" event was a rousing success. With almost perfect weather, and nearly all of the 100 expected vendors attending, there was plenty to see and do... and to learn.

My wife and I arrived shortly after opening at 10 am -- and I'm glad we arrived when we did. The main parking lot was already almost full (we got lucky and found one of the few remaining "permit only" spaces near the main gate) and I watched in awe as several buses loaded with kids arrived only seconds behind us. It was going to be a busy and crowded day at the zoo.

I was pleased to note the large number of scooters and wheelchairs gathered nearby as we all made our way toward the admissions gate. The success of an event such as this depends greatly on drawing a large crowd, and so far, it was looking good. Wearing my official "Buckeye Barrier Busters tee-shirt" and with business cards firmly in hand (well okay, in my wife's purse) we crossed the bridge and headed toward the first cluster of vendors.

The purpose of this event for me was to introduce myself to the other attendees and hopefully introduce as many people as possible to my now officially launched organization, and of course, this Disability Awareness Blog. To my joy, I found most of the vendors to be very positive and complementary about my efforts and message. I know I made a few new friends, and I hope to keep in touch with them now that they know where to find me.

To mention all of them in today's posting would be almost impossible, but I did collect at least ten pounds worth of handouts and business cards. Expect to see the results of that collection in future blogs. But, before parting for this week, I do want to make mention of a few people I found of special interest.

One young woman, Kimberlie Sherman of Breaking Barriers, was especially memorable. I wish I had half her energy. As a professional Disability Consultant, she specializes in helping folks to find programs and resources specific to their disability -- and not just locally, but nationally. If you haven't had much luck with winding your way through the system, give her a try. I'm sure she'll do her very best to help you out.

Another very nice lady I met that day was Kay Bennett of The Arc of Lucas County. They offer support, education and advocacy for people with developmental disabilities, and have been doing so for over fifty years. Kudos, Kay -- you and your fine group are doing an excellent job!

I also had the pleasure of meeting Steven Kiessling, the executive director of Camp Courageous. Since 1963, this fine organization has been providing "the outdoor experience" to our area's special needs children. Steven was nice enough to extend a personal invitation for me to come out and see their camp for myself, and I just might do that. I'll even bring the marshmallows, Steve! :)

As I said, these were only three of the many friendly and committed people I met last monday, and I'll certainly introduce you to a few more in the coming weeks. In closing, I had a great time at the ADA Zoo Day this year, and I'm already making plans to attend next year. I hope you're doing the same.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

ADA Day at the Zoo

Come for the info, stay for the animals!

Summer is here, and once again the Ability Center of Greater Toledo will be hosting it's annual "ADA Day at the Zoo" event. They'll be on hand with plenty of free information to educate the public about the wide range of goods and services available to help our area residents who live with a disability.

This is their ninth annual event, held to celebrate the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990. It is an opportunity for those interested from NW Ohio and SE Michigan to gather and share information about a wide spectrum of disability-related goods and services. There will be 100 booths lining the walkways of the zoo this year, manned by representatives of area agencies and vendors who offer all manner of goods, services, information and support.

This year the ADA Day at the Zoo will be held on Monday, July 27th and will run from 10 am to 3 pm. (Remember, admission is free to residents of Lucas county on Mondays if you arrive before noon.) If you need additional information on this event, please call Barb Manning at The Ability Center: 419-885-5733 or Toll Free at 866-885-5733.

Need Toledo Zoo information? Visit their recently updated website here. Oh, and they do have a limited number of wheelchairs and motorized scooters on hand for rental, so don't let that stop you. Just arrive early, or call ahead if this is something you need.

I plan to attend this event, and I hope you will too. If you've never been to the Toledo Zoo, this is the perfect time, and know that our zoo is nearly 100% accessible, guaranteeing a great time for everyone! Come and meet me at the zoo!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Odds & Ends

A little bit of everything...

I'm trying something a little bit different this week. Instead of my usual "topic of interest" I thought I'd share what's happening in my real life for a change. Some of you may enjoy this "detour" and some of you won't -- for you in group two, I'll return to the old format next week. Group one folks? Here we go!

Item 1: As some of you know, last year I applied for services from the Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation. My decision to leave my previous occupation (Licensed Massage Therapist) was a bittersweet one, having made some very good friends along the way. I kept the friends (good news there) but decided to leave the profession because I was no longer able to meet the physical demands of such work.

Almost a year later, I have passed the testing and evaluations. I have successfully interviewed professionals currently working in the Toledo area. Based on those interviews, I have chosen a new profession and I have the approval of the B.V.R. to go ahead and start evaluating schools.

As of this moment it is down to two: The University of Toledo, and Lourdes College. I must now make appointments to visit the schools before making a final decision. Oh, and my new chosen profession? Substance Abuse Counsellor/Case Worker. A bit of a change from massage therapy, yes? I'll let you know how that goes.

Item 2: If you've read earlier installments of this blog you are aware that I am having a ramp built onto the back entrance of our home, thanks to the kind generosity of The Ability Center of Greater Toledo. The bids are in, and a final decision was made, leaving nothing left but to sign the paperwork and watch in awe as craftsmen (and perhaps craftswomen) construct a ramp which will enable me to better exit and enter our home. I plan to take "before and after" photos and post them here sometime after the sawdust settles. Stay tuned.

Item 3: Not many of you know that since around January of this year I have been working on a secret project. The project comes in three parts, and I'm ready to unveil the first two parts today.

Part 1a. Introducing Buckeye Barrier Busters. Since my arrival here over a decade ago I have become (sometimes painfully) aware of the hit-or-miss nature of accessibility to buildings and events here in the Toledo area. We need education and awareness, to be sure, but a little activism now and again probably won't hurt either.

To that end, I have created -- an organization dedicated to raising awareness of the barriers to access within our community, and working to remove those barriers. The website still needs a lot of work, but it's up now, and everyone is welcome to sign up for a free membership. We need your voice, so I hope you'll consider lending yours to our cause.

Part 1b. I'd also like to introduce you to our online community site, the Buckeye Barrier Busters Forum. Free to join and use as well, we have discussion groups, support groups, live chat room capability, streaming music, a photo album, an events calendar, and more being added all the time. Please come visit, and feel free to post a hello. Oh, and tell your friends too. The more the merrier!

Item 4: Just so you don't think this is all about me, I did want to tell you about the coolest new application (for the iPhone) I learned about earlier this week. Called the RunPee, this app does pretty much exactly what the name implies -- it tells you when the "slow parts" of a movie are coming up, so you can "run for it" and get back in time so you don't miss anything important or exciting. Just start it when the movie begins, and then if nature calls, you can just look at the screen on your iPhone and read when the next window of opportunity will arrive. It even fills you in on what you missed (via scrolling text) while you were away. While not created exclusively for the disabled, I know from personal experience just how useful such a device can be. If you've got an iPhone, you may never see a movie the same way again. :)

And that brings this week's posting to a close. I hope you've been enjoying the wonderful weather we've been having... and until next week, Go Buckeye's!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Local Attractions

Thinking about a "Staycation" this year?

A new concept we're hearing about these days is the "Staycation" -- in other words, finding attractions closer to home in lieu of the more "traditional vacation" which involves travel, and of course, spending a lot more money.

What follows is a nice list of local options for your summer vacation this year if you decide to stay close to home. Not all of these places may be handicapped accessible, however, so do call ahead if that is a concern for you.

Around Toledo:

Toledo Zoo 419-385-5721

Art Museum/Glass Pavilion 419-255-8000

Metroparks 419-407-9700

Toledo Botanical Gardens 419-536-5566

Willis B. Boyer 419-936-3070

Sandpiper Cruises 419-537-1212

Wolcott House 419-893-9602

Toledo Firefighter Museum 419-478-3473

577 Foundation 419-847-4174

Ritter Planetarium 419-530-2650

Ft. Meigs 419-874-4121

Maumee Indoor Theater 419-897-8901

Ohio Theater ( 419-241-6785

Oregon, Ohio:

Maumee Bay State Park

Sandusky, Ohio:

Cedar Point /Soak City

Merry-Go-Round Museum

Ghostly Manor Thrill Center

Great Wolf Lodge

Lagoon Deer Park

Castaway Bay

Port Clinton, Ohio:

African Safari

Camp Perry Lodging

Island Adventure Fun Center

Put-in-Bay Jet Express

Oak Harbor, Ohio:

Magee Marsh Wildlife Area

Crane Creek State Park

Marblehead, Ohio:

Prehistoric Forest

Monsoon Lagoon

Marblehead Lighthouse State Park

Fremont, Ohio:

Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center

Milan, Ohio:

Edison Birthplace

Aurora, Ohio:

Geauga Lake Wildwater Kingdom

Cleveland, Ohio:

Cleveland Zoo

Christmas Story House Museum

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Canton, Ohio:

Pro Football Hall of Fame

Whitehouse, Ohio:

Butterfly House

Whitehouse Shrimp Farm

Waterville, Ohio:

Bluebird Passenger Train

Grand Rapids, OH:

Mary Jane Thurston Park

Canal Boat/Mill

Downtown Shops

Bowling Green, OH:

Civil War Museum

Snook’s Dream Cars

Ottawa, Ohio:

Harley Davidson Museum

Archbold, Ohio:

Candy Cane Christmas Shop

Sauder Village

Columbus, Ohio:

Columbus Zoo

German Village


North Market

King Arts Complex

Olentangy Indian Caverns

More Resources:

Michigan and the Irish Hills Lakes & attractions

Ohio Seasonal Guide

So what are you waiting for? Get out and go!

[Special thanks go to Diane Frazee of the United Way's Family Information Network for providing the bulk of this week's blog posting. Thank you, Diane, for your tireless support of Ohio's disabled, and their families.]