Tag Archives: ACB

The Definition of “Disability”

Martina Navratilova, a well-known poet once said “disability is a matter of perception. How an accurate statement that is! When many hear the word disability, they may think of someone with Down syndrome, a person in a wheelchair, or one who is blind. A person who has limited function physically or mentally is referred to as disabled. Kris Boehm, my father, defines disability as a person who has difficulty with a particular task. My thoughts reflected such a viewpoint as well. Do I continue to have such an perspective?
In 2010, I lost my sight due to an attempted suicide. I only knew of one other blind individual, so I was unaware of what my future held out for me. Would I be able to pursue the same goals and live an active life as before? Would I be able to partake in the same hobbies activities as before? Initially, I thought not. How can a person with no vision live an independant and fruitful life?
My self-determination and positive attitude aided me in seeking out the education and tools that are available to the blind. I came into contact with other fine examples of blind individuals who did not let their lack of vision hinder them from pursuing meaningful and fulfilling lives.Thus, I feel that just because a person may have a limitation, whether it be physical or mental, with the proper training and education, such characteristics that appear to be a disability are no disability at all! For instance, blindness may be preconceived as a limitation, yet being vision impaired can be easily overcome with technology, education, and the right mindset.
A disability is something that limits you from performing a certain task. Hence, if you have the right training and education and you have learned to perform the same tasks you used to, just differently, how is that a disability? Can a person without an obvious impairment be considered disabled? Imagine a six foot six inches tall man trying to fit in a Mini Cooper. Such a tall person may not be able to fit comfortably in such a vehicle or have the ability to drive the coupe. Could he not be considered disabled by circumstance? I believe so. Therefore, if your physical impairment does not limit or hinder you in your daily activities, is it a disability? I believe not.
I have met doctors, chemists, teachers, golfers, Olympians, and business owners that are blind but “see” no limits as to what they set their mind on. I had the pleasure of meeting Mark Rickobono, the first blind man to drive a self-driving car, hitting speeds up to 43 mph in his first drive! Such examples motivate and reaffirm the notion that the only thing that will hinder me is myself.
Do others perceive the disabled as capable individuals? Unfortunately no! Due to ignorance and the inconsistencies from the media, the majority feel that those with disabilities are helpless and inferior. The disabled have advocated for themselves to legislate for equality in today’s world. For instance, in the United States, an outdated law entitled Section 14C of the Fair Labor Standards Act, discriminates against those who are disabled; the 1938 act allows companies to apply for certificates in order to pay disabled individuals pennies on the dollar, far lower than the minimum wage. In fact, businesses such as Goodwill pay their disabled employees as low as 12 cents an hour- and it’s legal! These same employers have multi-million dollar owners and managers that exploit the provisions of the Fair Wages Act. They even receive tax deductions, government cutbacks, and other incentives that find their way into their own pockets. Organizations, such as the National Federation of the Blind and the American Foundation of the Blind, are working hard to legislate and repeal these unjust standards.
Often, parents and families of disabled children, due to being unaware of the availability of training and sources within hands reach, shelter their child so much that the child feels as if someone has to do everything for them. Such a person’s communication and interaction skills with others suffer due to their sheltered environment. This presents a challenge, but not a challenge that cannot be overcome with the proper training and education.
How does language influence how we view people with disabilities? The misconceptions and attitudes towards the abilities of disabled persons reflect onto the vocabulary and expressions used today. We may subconsciously discriminate against one with a perceived disability. Thus, such language transfers to the conscious mind, affecting our interpretations and opinions. The inaccurate belief that the disabled are not capable of overcoming their ailment highlights the need for further education and advocacy.
So are all ideas of disabilities accurate? No! Even though we live in 2014, much more effort and work is needed to educate the world about disabilities. Organizations, such as the National Federation of the Blind and the American Council of the Blind, lead the front to change what it means to be blind in the eyes of those blinded by false assumptions. Many blind have more vision than a sighted individual; numerous paralyzed persons in wheelchairs have walked through trials and tribulations triumphantly to live happy and satisfying lives! Technology has aided many to accomplish tasks that the everyday person would think be impossible. We disable ourselves only if we limit ourselves in our thinking! I asked my father, since having a son who recently lost his vision, has his thoughts on disabilities changed? He replied, “Yes… At first I thought we would become caretakers…but my viewpoint now is that perhaps the disability for many is their perception of how a person can adapt in order to be a whole person. Given the right opportunity and motivation we all can overcome anything others perceive as a disability… My son has proven that to me.”
So, what are your perceptions in referring to the disabled? Never be “handicapped” by preconceived notions!

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My article: A Blind Eye to Equality

Turning a Blind Eye to Inequality
Written by James Boehm
Your boss just handed you a check for a weeks worth of work. The payment reflects a week worth of work consisting of an eight to five time frame. As you glance down at the the piece of paper, looking at the total amount, you notice a minute total of $1.35. You rub your eyes to ensure that your vision is not playing tricks on you. As you verify with the calendar to your left, you verify that, yes, it is the year 2013, not 1803. How is this possible? Can such a form of recompense for services rendered be justified legally?
Now consider this: You have just become a proud parent of a beautiful baby girl! The newborn portrays a perfect balance of her parent’s features. What a proud moment in a new parent’s life! You hold your new addition to your family and observe this little one, who at first sight of his new parents, presents a smile of contentment. Soon, the nurses proceed to take the child from the delivery room and prepare the child for the nursery. You did not know as the physicians file out of the room, this will be the last time you would see your child for quite some time. In fact, later on you are notified that you are not perceived to be a capable parent, and thus the child has been put in the care of a stranger rather than you. What an indescribable feeling that words of pain and sorrow cannot even begin to portray!
No one would think, especially now in our advanced and civilized society, would such circumstances occur. Yet such occurrences are experienced by individuals with visual impairments so frequently it terrifies even the most courageous. Blindness should not be a factor in determining if a person is capable of raising a child. Such issues arise due to the misconceptions of abilities of the blind. When considering the qualifications for employment or parenthood, blindness should not be a determining factor.
There have been many advances in education and laws that uphold the unalienable rights of the blind and disabled. It was not until the second half of the twentieth century that attention was brought to the protection of rights of the blind in various aspects. In 1990, the statutes of the ADA, the Americans with Disabilities Act, outlined numerous regulations on healthcare, accessibility in transit, public education, housing, and labor, to name a few. While there have been many strides towards equality, the common discrimination brings to light the need to educate the public that there is still a lot of work to do. Many organizations, including the NFB, National Federation of the Blind,The American Council for the Blind (ACB), and The American Foundation of the Blind (AFB), actively take part in education, training, and legislation for the visually impaired. Likewise, these organizations educate the public on the misconceptions of blindness. History and numerous examples have shown that people who are blind, with the proper training, education, and tools, can competitively work along side the sighted public.
The blind have the right to receive fair and competitive wages in their employment. Sub-minimum wages are being paid to blind and disabled persons in the work force. According to the Braille Monitor, a 78 year old provision called the Fair Labor Standards Act, permits United States companies to receive certificates from the government when the company has hired a blind or disabled person (Danielson). With such a certificate, a person can be paid sub-minimum wages. Companies like Goodwill advertise and boast about their hiring of disabled workers. Nevertheless, these same companies have been documented as paying absurdly low hourly rates. “…Goodwill affiliates operate manufacturing operations that employ people with disabilities under special wage certificates at wages as low as 22 cents per hour…” (Danielson). Organizations, such as the National Federation of the Blind, and American Council of the Blind, protest against and boycott such companies, exposing the companies’ inequitable standards. In the aforementioned article, director of public relations for the National Federation of the Blind, states, “Don’t donate to or purchase goods from Goodwill until it adopts a responsible corporate policy to pay its works with disabilities at least the federal minimum wage Current legislation is in the works to amend the ADA so companies will no longer take advantage of the laws that actually were set forth to protect the disabled. The discriminating employers argue that changes to current legislation would create a financial hardship , causing them to either to shut down or terminate employees. Such idiotic reasoning is attempting to frame the employers as victims. How can employers consider themselves victims when the revenue they collect is beyond the income derived from the actual productivity of the worker who is disabled? Such companies that give the perception that they are helping the disabled community receive tax benefits, public funding, donations, preferred contracts before one of their employees even step foot into the factory. In contrast, such justification exposes the perverse exploitation the existing provisions authorized by the Fair Wages Act.
Now, another misconception that negatively affects the blind community is in parenting. Blindness should not be a determining factor in establishing if a person is capable of raising a child. According to The Huffington Post, in 2012, parents with disabilities “continue to be the only distinct community has to fight to retain and sometimes gain custody of their own children” (Crary). A Time Magazine article entitled “Rocking the Cradle- Ensuring the Rights of Parents,” notes that parents with disabilities face discrimination when the welfare of a child or family law, becomes an issue as well as adoption (Rochman). In 1990, The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed by Congress, implemented to protect parents with disabilities. Yet, the ADA at times has fallen short, pushing visually impaired parents into legal quicksand. Two thirds of state child welfare law list some type of disability as grounds for removing a child from the confines of a parents care and terminating the parental rights.
In a March 2010 ABC news report, a young blind family had just given birth to a lovely baby boy, but were dumb founded to find out that they could no longer have their child, could not hold the newborn, and would have to agree to supervised visits in order to see their son throughout the week (James). The NFB eagerly and rightfully brought suit against the hospital and child welfare services. The federation was successful in the legal battle, bringing an end to the discriminatory misconceptions expressed towards the capable, blind young family. One of the parents, Erika Johnson, stated after the ordeal, “We’re visually impaired, not mentally impaired. And you know we’re just like everybody else, we just can’t see as well. (James)
Luci Alexander, a blind parent of two children under the age of 10, and the director for blind services in New Mexico, stated in March of 2013 that “blind parents perform the same duties of caring for a child.” Blind parents can execute necessary tasks for their children auditory just as well as those who do those same activities visually. A visually impaired parent can tell by sound distinctions if a child has a baby bottle in their hand or toy, to see if the child has acquired an item it should not have. Likewise, no matter if a parent is sighted or not, a child can pick up things off the floor or get into mischief. The point is the parent has to be observant and mindful of the child’s behavior. Disability rights lawyer Robyn Powell comments on this in the Huffington Post article previously mentioned saying, “Of course there are going to be some parents with disabilities who would be lousy parents – that’s the same with parents without disabilities” (Crary). Obviously, orderliness, preparation, and a conscientious effort to have a safe home environment is necessary, and all of this can be done quite effectively by the unsighted.
In conclusion, today’s misconceptions of blindness cause inequalities in regards to fair wages and employment and the rights of parents. Those who place stereotypes are blinder than the blind themselves. The misconception is if you do not have sight, you do not have the capacity. What people fail to realize is that blind people develop alternate ways of performing day-to-day tasks. Thus, the blind have demonstrated effectiveness and the ability to be beneficiaries of fair wages, employment, as well as not allowing their blindness be a determining factor of if they are a capable parent. Blindness misconceptions must be addressed further because the blind community is growing. According to Tina Lubarsky, an advocate for the ACB and a physical therapist, “Diabetic rhetanopothy is the leading cause for blindness today, affecting thirty percent of people with diabetes.” In an article “Don’t Blame the Eater, , David Zinzinko stated, “by 2050, one in three adults will suffer form type two diabetes.” If such trends continue, this means that one ninth of the population will suffer from diabetic retanopothy or some form of blindness. Urgency is needed to educate the public regarding the many misconceptions of blindness, and that further legislation is needed to protect and uphold the equality of all persons regardless of gender, disability, race, etc. Likewise, blindness should not be a factor when determining employment, fair wages, or distinguishing the capability of a potential parent. The exploitation of the disabled as a resource for charity revenue and fundraising must come to an end! Next time you get your paycheck, remember that the visually impaired are just as capable and deserve the same treatment in all of life’s aspects including in employment and parenthood.

Charger the Size of a Tube of Lip Stick On Sale On Amazon Until August 21st.

At the worst of times, our powered devices’ battery life fails us. I came across this nifty little charger that is the size of a tube of lip stick. You can purchase it on Amazon at a discounted price until the end of August 2013. Check out the link below for more information. The device will work on your I phone, Ipod, Ipad, and other devices. The I phone can be charged over 2 times with this device! Try to die on me now Mr Battery!
http://appadvice.com/appnn/2013/08/anker-is-offering-a-great-deal-on-its-astro-mini-external-battery

Seeing Eye Guide Dog User Denied Access to Cab Services

Woman says cab driver refused her a ride because of seeing-eye dog
By Bob Heye KATU News and KATU.com Staff Published: Aug 2, 2013 at 12:40 AM PDT Last Updated: Aug 2, 2013 at 2:04 PM PDT

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Deb Marinos says a Broadway Cab driver refused to give her a ride because she had a seeing-eye dog.
PORTLAND, Ore. – A woman who is blind says a Broadway Cab driver refused her service because she had a seeing-eye dog with her.

It all unfolded at Union Station, and an Amtrak worker confirmed what happened to Deb Marinos.

Marinos had gotten off the train and was trying to get to OHSU for a scheduled checkup but a Broadway Cab driver, and then a second cab driver both refused to give her a ride.

“I have a little tiny bit of vision,” she said. “I’m what’s called legally blind, but I have no peripheral vision. So the dog provides me the ability to cross streets and find curbs and doors.”

Marinos rides Amtrak all the time – commuting to work in Salem and Portland and also traveling the country to conferences and legislative assemblies in her job as a vocational rehabilitation counselor for the Oregon Council of the Blind.

She was stunned when she went to get into a Broadway Cab and the driver refused to let her in.

“And he says, ‘No, she has a dog. I’m not takin’ her. No dogs. Dogs aren’t allowed by the company.'”

A second Broadway driver said he’d take her, but he already had a fare. The next cab back was a Sassy Cab, a subsidiary of Broadway Cab.

“The cab behind him, Sassy Cab, says ‘No, I don’t do dogs either,'” Marinos said. “And then the fourth cab got out to see what all the fun was about and they said, ‘OK, we’ll take you.'”

An Amtrak helper known as Red Cap argued with the cab drivers’ refusals.

“Amtrak is so incredibly good at taking care of us, and the Red Cap today was just absolutely. He was just like all over them and could not believe it – that they’d never had that before where they’ve had someone turned down,” Marinos said.

And if you think allergies to dogs is behind all this, Marinos said that’s not a factor. She’s allergic to dogs. Her service dog breed is hypoallergenic.

KATU didn’t get a response from Broadway Cab Thursday night. City regulations say “No driver shall … refuse to transport to his requested destination any passenger of proper demeanor who is able to demonstrate the ability to pay the fare.”

Marinos met both of those requirements.

A city spokesperson said the city is starting a formal investigation into the incident and that Broadway Cab is cooperating with investigators.

From Hobby To Business

I enjoy creativity. Thus, at age 15, I started working with automobiles in customization and restyling. In 2001, I started my own business “Custom Effects.” In 2010, after 15 years in the business, a new chapter of my life began. Around this time I had lost my sight and was completely blind. I could still run my business, but I took my change in life as an opportunity to try new things that I may have not thought of participating in before. Further, I wanted to train others in assistive technology and empower others to independence and success.
As I embark on this journey, I want to continue to express my creativity and style. Thus in 2011, I noticed that all these mobility canes that the blind used were white and plain. I wanted a dressy cane, something that reflected my style. I searched online with no success. I decided that well then I will be the first. I dressed up my cane in black and fleur de liss accents and a spiraling silver metallic stripe. My cane was a hit. Well, why can’t I take my skills of my former trade and apply them to making canes for others? The rest is history. What was a hobby became a business that I immensely enjoy. I have a website up, http://www.kustomcane.com that receives a lot of traffic. I have now sold canes from the Golden Gate Bridge in California to Stone Hedge in England. I have come up with other accessories to accent the canes, such as charms,mobility bells, personalized braile charms, and Cane Shield, a protective coating. Kustom Cane has a Facebook page and Twitter page that I enjoy sharing products, ideas, and interaction with friends and customers.as well. I look forward continuing my education to empower others while also reflecting their personality on their canes!

James’ Top Five I phone Accessible Apps as of August 2013

James’s Top App Picks
As you open the assisted living magazines pages of the numerous devices that are available for the blind to continue in an independant lifestyle, it is invigorating. If you purchased every device to aid you in your daily life activities-like a money identifier, and color reeno- GPS trecker, OCR scanner and recognition software,Calendar,timers, note recorders,bar code scanners,- to name a few, you would be spending thousands upon thousands and would thus need to invest in a large suitcase on wheels or borrow the local grocery stores shopping cart to transport all the devices with you. Further, you will be spending so much money on these items, that once you have acquired these things, you Won’t have the money to use them because you are broke. How nice Apple has provided us with an alternate solution: one device-that handles all those individual devices, and many times in a superior fashion. So, you begin to comprehend how much time and space you will save without having to haul that Piggly Wiggly shopping cart around.Thus, When you tally all the amounts of the prices of those individual devices,and them compare it to the iPhone and of the many things that is already built into its operating system,as well as purchasing the apps that specifcifically pertain to your needs.The variations of price between the two situations are astronomical.The I phone is todays SwiSS Army Knife. A knife that isconpact,has just what you need, and works well with a purpose.
Here are my top apps. I based this on which apps I use the most, accessibility, ease of use, and reliability. I likewise attempted to pick apps of various purpose.
1. Look Tell Money Reader
Instantly recognizes currenciesand speaks denomination with use of the camera. Works fast and with little effort. 21 currencies supported.LookTel Money Reader provides Voice Over support for several languages including English, Spanish, French, Italian, German, Polish, Portugese, Russian, Korean, Finnish, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Japanese, Greek, Hungarian, and Mandarin.
2. Tap Tap See
TapTapSee is a free app that helps the blind and visually impaired become more independent in their day-to-day activities.
Identify any object around

Ability to identify US paper currency

Can determine images, colors, and limited text transcriptions. Automatic flash
Auto-focus sound
3. Blind Square

Top 5 Apps
Blind Square
I have found this to be the best GPS app due to its ease of use and layout. No need to hunt and peck for buttons to get your location or direction. Just shake your phone. Blind Square will give the your current address, the nearest intersection, it’s distance, and uses the clock direction to tell you where things are according to where you are facing. I use this to explore new areas with confidence.
4. In Class
A very helpful app for note taking. Best app I have found to organize your notes according to subject or class. In Class will determine which class you are in and will automatically pull up a note for that particular class. Besides text, add audio, video, Photos, and files to your notes if you wish. Share your notes via Facebook, email, messaging. Easily set reminders for assignments and projects. This app has many features to aid you in being organized and efficient.
5. Text Grabber
I am amazed by the capabilities of this app. Last semester I was able to read my fellow classmates’ papers in a in-class workshop using Text Grabber. Take a picture of a document and let Text Grabber do the rest. Further, the app will translate the scanned text into other languages.Or consider this: You have a document in a different language. Take a photo with Text Grabber and the app will translate the text into whatever language you want and read it to you. Edit the text, share via email, mss, or send toyour Evernote account.
Honorable Mentions:
These apps deserve mentioning 🙂
-I Blink Radio
Bookoos of information on technology, legislation, news,resources,entertainment, blogs, podcast,support groups, and so much more.
-i iVzWiz
A personal visual assistant. Unlike Tap Tap See or other apps like OMB, which use visual recognition software,iVzWiz sends your photo and a short audio recording of your liking to actual webworkers, or your social media to get information.
-NFB Newsline
Get access to local and national newspapers. Read the latest Times, National Geographic, and numerous other magazines or periodicals. Notifies you or current weather conditions and alerts. Many features.
-Smart Recorder
Another app for note taking. Record audio and sync with all of your devices.Easy interface with one of the best audio recording quality I have found.
-Mail Shot Group
Organize your contacts and create groups with ease.
-Focus
For all you Facebook lovers-another way to access your Facebook. A simplified and more consistant interface.
I hope these apps will aid you in your independance,confidence, and day to day travels. New apps come out every day and current app get updates or new features. I strive to keep up with the latest new developments of accessible technology and applications. If you or someone you know would like to receive emails on my latest findings,feel free to share my email with them: jimmydagerman80@gmail.com. The only consistant thing in this world is change. The evolution of technology and accessibility is ever advancing. Working together, we will evolve ourselves into successful contributors of society.

Bullet proof…How possible?

Here is the manuscript to a speech I gave in class in April 2013 about my life experience and the growing rate of suicide.
Bullet-proof
When I hear the word “bullet-proof,” the words that come to mind are strength and survival. With unwavering determination, life’s obstacles will be unable to stand in your way of success. I know that is easier said than done.
Today, many are overwhelmed by life’s pressures. According to the New York Times in 2012, researchers found that the rate of suicide between 2008 and 2010 quadrupled compared to the previous ten years. A study by the United States Center of Disease Control says that an average of one person dies every 16.2 minutes. Hence, by the time our class is dismissed today, six people will have taken their life. I was almost one of those statistics three years ago. A number of conditions, including a six year divorce ordeal, the onslaught of manic depression, and the crash of the automotive industry that my business depended on were a lethal concoction that caused me to give up on life on the 28th of January, 2009. Waking up three days later in the ICU, I was unaware of what had happened, why I couldn’t see. My arms were restrained so that I could not remove the breathing tube or other vital equipment. This was the scariest time of my life. I could not see, move, or speak. At first, I felt like an Etch-A-Sketch, shaken after a life of achievement, and that I had to start all over again from scratch. Yet, after surviving a fifteen percent mortality rate and only losing my eyesight to a gun shot wound, I was most fortunate to still be alive! After of two days of coming to grips with what transpired, I had a renewed determination. I had two choices. I could have either been cared for, or I could take care of myself. I learned that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I had learned to live, and now lived to learn.
Life’s hardships cannot hinder the success of a determined individual. I realized that just because my situation had changed, my life though had just begun. Since then, I have received the education and training so that I can do everything I did before I lost my sight, just differently. I started a new business recently and returned to school so I may be equipped to empower others. I have met so many influential and inspirational that I would not have had the opportunity to meet. I want people to see that disability fosters the ability to reach out and empower others.
Blindness has actually been a blessing, being a fertilizer for my soul, developing my growth into a once again strong, independent person. Around my neck, a brass dog tag is inscribed in braille with the word “bullet-proof.” It reminds me daily that not even a bullet will hinder me from pursuing great things.Works Cited

Carey, Benedict. “Increase Seen in U.S. Suicide Rate Since Recession.” New York Times 4 Nov. 2012.
“National Suicide Statistics at a Glance.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. N.d. Web. 22 Apr. 2013.