Many years ago the main vehicle of choice for persons that were wheelchair bound were large full size vans. Over the years this changed and the vehicle of choice became the minivan. I have only used minivans and for the most part they do their job. The simplistic design of the modification, the size, and gas mileage make it very desirable. The truth is there is very little that is cool about a minivan. You can dress it up, trick it out, and fill it with luxury, but at the end of the day it is like putting lipstick on a pig.
Today, July 26th the Americans with Disability Act turns 25 years old. The Americans with Disability Act is a law designed to make the United States accessible for persons with disabilities. Originally enacted in 1990 it has been updated over the 25 year period.
The Americans with Disability Act is a great tool that has literally and figuratively opened many doors for persons with disabilities, but it is not perfect by any means. The biggest challenge for persons with disabilities is the fact that our abilities and inabilities are extremely unique. Each and every persons has certain strengths and weaknesses. The best accommodation for one person may not be the best accommodation for another. For example, I have recently been looking at refrigerators and many are rated accessible by the standards set in the Americans with Disability Act, but these refrigerators are still not accessible for me.
My advice is always follow the regulations in the Americans with Disability Act if for no other reason then for not getting sued. Just be there to assist a client, friend, and or family member that has a disability. Do your best to assist them even if that means going above and beyond the Americans with Disability Act. For example, if the door to your store is legally considered accessible by the Americans with Disability Act, but you see someone in a wheelchair struggling offer to hold it for them.
I see the Americans with Disability Act as a set of legal guidelines for us to follow. I also do not believe that it should mean we ignore what is right in front of us. We have a moral duty to try and provide the best services for everyone regardless of our abilities or inabilities.
I believe that the Americans with Disability Act has done some amazing things for persons with disabilities, but I believe that it should be a living document ever evolving and expanding. I feel that the United States and the Americans with Disability Act is amazing, but we can continue to learn and make things better.
I do a lot of shopping online for two main reasons. First, I typically can find a great deal which I think is a major part of the overall shopping experience. Second, as a person with a disability it is just easier to click and have it all delivered to my door. It might sound funny, but there is also something rewarding about getting a package in the mail.
Amazon is one of my all time favorite places to shop online. I find you can buy almost anything including food and household items. I also really trust the reviews and ratings that people provide as many contain the good, the bad, and the ugly. I typically go on Amazon to research a product even if I do not purchase it through Amazon.
One of my favorite services is Amazon Prime which allows you to get majority of your items delivered in two days with no minimum purchase. Since I signed up for Amazon Prime I have significantly increased my online shopping to include many items I would never have thought to order online in the past. I also got an Amazon Visa which gives me triple rewards for my shopping on Amazon.
Amazon is constantly introducing new services to make shopping even easier. First, is the Amazon Button which allsows you to simply press a button to order a product. For example, you can put a button on your washing machine and when your laundry detergent is running low you just press the button to place an order. Second is Amazon Prime Now a new service that allow you to get items delivered in less than two hours. Last is Amazon’s subscripition service which allows you to automatically have items delivered on a schedule. For example, every month you can have a bottle of toothpaste delivered.
Next week July the 15th is Amazon Prime Day which will have specials that will be bigger than Black Friday. To particpate in Amazon Prime Day you need to be an Amazon Prime member. I would encourage you to sign up for a free thirty day trial membership of Amazon Prime even if it is simply to take advantage of Amazon Prime Day. Each person that signs up using the link below will help support this blog. Please consider signing up and tell your friends to sign up via this blog.
As you probably know from reading my blog I am in the process of renovating my new home. I have found ways to make most of the items accessible for my needs. I am planning to Incorporates a lot of technology to make everything extremely accessible. Since I was a little kid I was a huge fan of the Jetsons and the house in the movie Casper. I think my home will have more wiring than a space station. I will be using a variety of software which includes CastleOS, MobiLinc, and iRule. These products will allow me to control my home either by voice, my iPhone, my iPad, my computer, a wall interface, or on a schedule. I am also now investigating the possibility of using wearable technology. I will be automating almost everything which includes my lights, air conditioning, doors, window coverings, water, entertainment system, television, music, and some furniture. I was also lucky enough to find an amazing oven that will make it much easier for me to cook. I am now struggling with how to make the refrigerator accessible. I am also looking for a way to make the pocket door between my bedroom and living room electric. I would love to hear your thoughts, ideas, and suggestions. I also want to hear what you have done to make your home special.
I have recently entered the 4th Annual National Mobility Awareness Month Local Hero Contest which is run by the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association. The winner of the contest can win a new accessible vehicle. I am not sure if I will win or not, but I only have a chance if people vote. Please vote each day through May 31st, 2015 and remember to answer the bonus question. To vote click on the “Get Started” button below which will take you to my profile page and to find out the answers to the bonus questions follow me on Twitter @zkylet.
April was Fair Housing Month and in celebration I recently wrote the following article for the Disability Independence Group‘s monthly newsletter.
What is a home? A home is a place to call your own. It is a place where you feel safe and are most comfortable. Owning your home can give you a sense of security and the ability to create a sanctuary. It allows you to have control and freedom. If done right a person with a disability should feel the least disabled in their own home. It will take a lot of time and planning, but steps can be taken to reduce limitations.
There are lots of great resources that can support a person with a disability who owns their own home. When it comes to taxes you can write off many of the modifications that are made for accessibility. In many counties you can also be exempt from paying property taxes. Organizations like Vocational Rehabilitation can assist with the cost of certain modifications. Blue Badge Homes is a new website that acts as a marketplace for accessible real estate. Chances are you will never find exactly what you want. Just look for something with good bones and potential. The fun is getting to make it exactly the way you want it. Do not be afraid to get messy, get creative, and think way outside the box.
A while back I wrote the blog entry One Step Closer about how the Florida International University Electrical and Computer Engineering students were assisting me to make my kitchen accessible. The students just finished their prototype for their senior project. They are now in a competition and need help getting votes. Please help me support them back by liking their video at https://www.facebook.com/Savi.Perez/videos/10153298493187803.
This blog and my projects have led me to meet some amazing people. Their assistance and support has done so much to help me. One of those people is Matt Chiste, Home Automation Guru, who recently wrote a blog about the CastleHub where he mentioned this blog and me. Please check out the article by clicking here.
One of my sponsors is a company called CastleOS that created a system that allows people to control almost everything in their home using their voice. CastleOS recently created a new CastleHUB that will make the implementation of the system even simpler.
From the very beginning I thought that CastleOS was an ideal product for persons with disabilities. Christopher Cicchitelli the Chief Executive Officer of CastleOS thought so as well. CastleOS is certified with the Veterans Administration as a home environmental controller which allows disabled veterans in some cases to get CastleOS at no cost.
To take their desire to help support persons with disabilities one step further CastleOS created a buy one give one program as part of their CastleHub Kickstarter Campaign. CastleOS is offering backers that pledge $999 or more the option to not only buy a CastleHUB for themselves, but to buy one for a person with a disability as well. Check out this program and the other ways CastleOS is supporting persons with disabilities by visiting their CastleHub Kickstarter Campaign.