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 www.toledozoo.org 419-385-5721

Art Museum/Glass Pavilion www.toledomuseum.org 419-255-8000

Metroparks www.metroparkstoledo.com 419-407-9700

Toledo Botanical Gardens www.toledogarden.org 419-536-5566

Willis B. Boyer www.willisbboyer.org 419-936-3070

Sandpiper Cruises www.sandpiperboat.com 419-537-1212

Wolcott House www.wolcotthouse.org 419-893-9602

Toledo Firefighter Museum www.toledofiremuseum.com 419-478-3473

577 Foundation www.577foundation.org 419-847-4174

Ritter Planetarium www.rpbo.utoledo.edu 419-530-2650

Ft. Meigs www.ohiohistory.org 419-874-4121

Maumee Indoor Theater www.maumeeindoor.com 419-897-8901

Ohio Theater (ohiotheatre@sbcglobal.net) 419-241-6785

Oregon, Ohio:

Maumee Bay State Park www.maumeebayresort.com

Sandusky, Ohio:

Cedar Point /Soak City www.cedarpoint.com

Merry-Go-Round Museum www.merrygoroundmuseum.org

Ghostly Manor Thrill Center www.ghostlymanor.com

Great Wolf Lodge www.greatwolf.com

Lagoon Deer Park www.sanduskyfunspot.com

Castaway Bay www.castawaybay.com

Port Clinton, Ohio:

African Safari www.africansafariwildlifepark.com

Camp Perry Lodging www.cplcc.com

Island Adventure Fun Center www.island-adventures.net

Put-in-Bay Jet Express www.jet-express.com

Oak Harbor, Ohio:

Magee Marsh Wildlife Area

Crane Creek State Park

Marblehead, Ohio:

Prehistoric Forest www.mysteryhill.com

Monsoon Lagoon www.monsoonlagoonwaterpark.com

Marblehead Lighthouse State Park

Fremont, Ohio:

Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center www.rghayes.org

Milan, Ohio:

Edison Birthplace www.tomedison.org

Aurora, Ohio:

Geauga Lake Wildwater Kingdom www.wildwaterfun.com

Cleveland, Ohio:

Cleveland Zoo www.clemetzoo.com

Christmas Story House Museum www.achristmasstoryhouse.com

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame www.rockhall.com

Canton, Ohio:

Pro Football Hall of Fame www.profootballhof.com

Whitehouse, Ohio:

Butterfly House www.butterfly-house.com

Whitehouse Shrimp Farm www.shrimp-farm.com

Waterville, Ohio:

Bluebird Passenger Train www.tlew.org

Grand Rapids, OH:

Mary Jane Thurston Park

Canal Boat/Mill

Downtown Shops

Bowling Green, OH:

Civil War Museum www.acwmo.org

Snook’s Dream Cars snooksdreamcars.com

Ottawa, Ohio:

Harley Davidson Museum www.benbreecehd.com

Archbold, Ohio:

Candy Cane Christmas Shop www.candycanechristmas.com

Sauder Village www.saudervillage.org

Columbus, Ohio:

Columbus Zoo www.columbuszoo.org

German Village

COSI www.cosi.org

North Market www.northmarket.com

King Arts Complex www.kingartcomplex.com

Olentangy Indian Caverns www.olentangyindiancavern.com

More Resources:

Michigan and the Irish Hills Lakes & attractions www.brooklynmi.com

Ohio Seasonal Guide www.seasonalguide.com

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.]

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Learning to Ride

If you think someone with a developmental disability can't learn to ride a bike, think again.

Since 1999, Lose the Training Wheels Inc. has been teaching individuals with developmental disabilities how to ride two-wheel bikes - and with its special coaching and equipment, the success rate nationally has been an astonishing 70% -- far above what most would have expected more than a decade ago. Clearly, we need to look at the "hidden" abilities of the developmentally disabled with new eyes.

Locally, the Lucas County Board of MR/DD, Lucas County Special Olympics, Maumee Valley Civitan and Wersell's Bike and Ski Shop are sponsoring this year's week long "Lose the Training Wheels" camp from August 10-14 at the Tam-O-Shanter facility in Sylvania.

The program utilizes a stepping stone process. Each participant moves through a progression of bike types, beginning with an ultra stable training bike, and gradually progressing toward a conventional two-wheeler. Each biker attends one 75-minute session daily for five consecutive days.

Bike Camp last summer was a huge success, with 84% of the participants successfully learning to ride a two-wheel bike, placing NW Ohio above the national average. If you haven't yet tried something like this with your MR/DD son or daughter, I couldn't recommend it more. For registration information please call Tracey at 419-380-5175 -- but call soon as space is limited.

Ride on!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

He's My Friend

...or, "Love me -- Love my Dog."

Many of us know that current laws protect the rights of certain disabled persons (such as the blind) when it comes to bringing your "service animal" along with you as you travel. Hotels and motels, restaurants, and other public businesses are required to allow you equal access to their establishments, within the guidelines set forth by the ADA. For a nice FAQ on those guidelines, and how a business owner must comply, see here. For the rest of us (abled and disabled alike) a pet is often not just a simple animal. They also offer us comfort, support and companionship. They are a beloved member of our family.

For someone with a cognitive or emotional disability, a "pet" can be an anchor to stability (or at least familiarity) while on an extended road trip or vacation.

Some disabled people live in near isolation, and for them, the idea of being separated from their "best friend" is unbearable, even if it is only for a few days. What if you have no close by friends or family who can shelter your pet while you're away? You could just stay at home... or, you could try and find a hotel at your destination which will love your dog as much as you do. Thankfully, that's no longer as hopeless a task as it used to be.

Allow me to introduce you to DogFriendly.com. Dog Friendly provides a service that any pet owner will immediately appreciate... they collect data on hotels and motels which have "open door" policies that include your dog (and sometimes cats too.) This can save you a lot of work and worry if you're planning to take Fido on your next family vacation. They offer online searches, guides, a newsletter, and even a blog for tips and tricks of the trade for dog lovers. Oh, and yes, it's free.

So, as vacation season rapidly comes upon us, give DogFriendly.com a closer look. You'll be glad you did. Just be sure if you're planning to take your furry friend on a long cross-country trek that you make allowances for his (or her) special needs. Food, water, frequent stops for "rest" and most important of all, remember that dogs don't wear seat belts. Drive safely!

Woof! Woof!

This Just In: Blog visitor Amy was kind enough to let me know of yet another great resource out there called GoPetFriendly.com. Not only do they provide up-to-date info about Pet Friendly accommodations, but they also have information on just about anything else you might need if you plan to travel with your pet... er, best friend. I was very impressed with their site, and I think you will be too. Thanks Amy!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


... or, "and another one rides the bus."
(with a special nod to "Weird Al Yankovic" for that wonderful parody of Queen's song, "Another One Bites The Dust.")

T.A.R.T.A. (Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority) is our regional mass transit system, and this is one time when we of the disabled community can be especially proud. Each and every TARTA bus is equipped with a lift to accommodate people in wheelchairs. Since 1971, TARTA has been the "Ride of Toledo" and currently boasts over 40 routes in and around the Toledo metropolitan area, serving nine communities. TARTA's member communities include Toledo, of course, as well as Maumee, Ottawa Hills, Perrysburg, Rossford, Spencer Twp., Sylvania, Sylvania Twp. and Waterville. While the coverage area isn't perfect, and run times could always be better, the system works for the vast majority of those who choose to use it... and fares are a dollar or less, depending on factors like age or disability. Passes are also available, making paying for your trips quick and easy. See the website (linked above) for more details, schedules and exact service area.

Not able to make it to the bus stop? Not a problem. TARTA also offers a service called T.A.R.P.S. (Toledo Area Regional Paratransit Service.) These "mini-busses" cover the same area as their regular busses, but offer service directly to and from your home. You can even make reservations up to seven days in advance. The cost is $2 per trip and is a great option for doctor visits, shopping trips, or just to get a ride downtown for a fun adventure... like a ball game for instance. Request information or an application by calling the TARTA ADA office at 419-245-5225, M-F, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. or just visit their website if you prefer. 

So what are you waiting for? Summer is here (and as we Ohio natives know, it won't last long) so why not plan a bus trip soon? There's plenty to see and do in Toledo, and for once a physical disability may no longer be a good enough excuse to just stay at home. :)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Ramps and Renovations

... and what they can mean to people like us.

If you were working on a crossword puzzle, and read the clue "A four-letter word for freedom" I'm sure you'd scratch your head for quite a while before you came up with the word ramp, but for anyone with impaired mobility, a ramp is exactly that. Freedom. The same can be said of lowered counter tops, and other types of home renovations. All can mean greater freedom for those of us with a disability, or at the very least, a greater sense of comfort and control.

Every house on our street (most built shortly after WWII) use a common style of architecture where the main floor is elevated above the ground, requiring one to climb at least a couple of steps to allow entry. There is a practical reason for this, as it turns out. We happen to live in an area of the country which receives a lot of rain throughout the year. In fact, springtime flooding is not at all uncommon. That said, what is practical for one situation is not always practical for another, and for the disabled, steps simply are not practical. They are a significant barrier to many of us.

The simplest solution, aside from having someone carry you in and out (yes, I'm joking) is a ramp. One might also consider an electric lift of some kind, and indeed there are a few situations where a lift is a better choice, but I still have to go with the low-tech ramp as my structural enhancement of preference. They have no moving parts, are generally sturdy enough to last for years, and require little or no maintenance. They also allow you to "age in place" within your current home, a definite plus.

Almost any general contractor can probably build you a ramp, but I have seen (and used) more than a few ramps over the years, and in my humble opinion, if you're going to build a ramp, have it done right the first time. A poorly designed and constructed ramp is not only a waste of your money, it's a danger to yourself and to others.

Ordinarily, finding a good carpenter would be a hit or miss kind of proposition, but we in the Toledo area enjoy a considerable advantage here. Allow me to introduce you to Accessible Renovations, Inc. With over 30 years in the construction and renovation business, they bring a level of expertise and professionalism to their craft that must be seen to be appreciated. Do visit the website for a look at their online photographic portfolio. Never have I seen a better marriage of form and function. They build ramps, of course, but they also handle just about any other home renovation you might need... and their motto says it all, "Barrier-free solutions for better living."

Disclosure time. I never receive goods or payment in exchange for my mention of a product or company in this blog. My reviews are a result of investigation and personal experience. In this case, Accessible Renovations are currently designing a ramp for my home, and it is due in part to this personal experience that I make the glowing statements that I do. If you need a ramp or other home renovation, give them a call. I'm betting my reputation, right along with theirs, that you won't be disappointed.

'Nuff said.

So what does one do if you need a ramp, but lack the necessary funds to have one built? Thankfully, if you live near Lucas County, you can contact The Ability Center of Greater Toledo. Since 1997, The Ability Center has completed over 400 home accessibility projects (e.g. wheelchair ramps and bathroom modifications) using government grants totaling more than $1.5 million. You can apply for a ramp or bathroom modification under their grant program by completing a downloadable application from their website, or you can call them at 419-885-5733 (voice or TTY) or toll-free at 866-885-5733.

Oh, and if you do call either of these fine organizations, please tell them about this Blog. I'm sure they'd love to know where you heard about them. Thank you. :)