Looking to Get Healthy in the New Year?

Blog: Looking to Get Healthy in the New Year?

If healthy eating, exercise and weight loss are at the top of your 2022 New Year’s resolutions list, you’re not alone. These goals are very common but also difficult to achieve.

Sticking to a diet and exercise regimen is especially challenging for individuals with autism and intellectual disabilities who “are far more likely to be overweight, with rates of obesity for disabled adults and children 58% and 38% higher than for their able-bodied counterparts, respectively,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The propensity for being overweight and sedentary puts disabled individuals at increased risk for obesity and health problems such as cardiovascular disease, sleep disorders, gastrointestinal problems and Type 2 diabetes.

Yet, with the right information, guidance and community, there is hope for disabled young adults who want to keep their weight down and minimize their risk for obesity-related health complications.

For example, a pilot program out of the University of Cincinnati found that “young adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and intellectual disabilities (ID) were able to lose or maintain their weight with a system of education and support in place.”

The year-long program included 17 young adults, six parents and 10 staff members who participated in a program that included lessons on healthy eating and exercising; and group sessions that used goal-setting to motivate participants.

The program taught participants about healthy eating using MyPlate, the United States Department of Agriculture’s dietary guidelines. The young adults were educated about the food pyramid and five food groups as well as portion size and the presence of vitamins and minerals in food. They were also coached to eat fewer unhealthy foods.

The exercise segment of the program included material about the health benefits of exercise.  Participants were introduced to different types of exercise and helped to recognize how finding exercise they enjoyed makes it easier to commit to a fitness routine.

During the program, the young adults participated in group interviews where they shared their impressions of the program. They were weighed and measured at different intervals throughout the year.  Parents were asked to complete surveys about their adult children’s progress. At the end of the program, two participants had lost significant amounts of weight while the others maintained their weights. According to News Medical Life Sciences, both participants and parents were satisfied with the results of the program.

While this program appears to have positive results, experts agree that the best time to familiarize children with ID and autism about nutrition and fitness are when they are young. According to a report by Bright Hub Education, “children with intellectual disabilities face certain nutritional issues as they reach adulthood, thus increasing the need for nutritional education. … Teaching students about nutrition in school can give them the tools they need to minimize their risks of these conditions by eating healthy.”

Bright Hub recommends that teachers use hands-on lessons to teach students about healthy eating. If classrooms have play kitchens, teachers are advised to use play food to teach nutrition. Teachers are also encouraged to teach students about the food pyramid. One effective multisensory teaching technique is to lay down “a large sized version of the food pyramid with the type of food and the number of servings written in bold in each section.” Students can then be asked to put the appropriate play food in each section of the food pyramid.” If play food isn’t available, teachers can use photos of food in the same way.

Parents can reinforce lessons at school by taking children grocery shopping and involving them with food preparation, menu planning, prep cooking and table setting. Children can also be encouraged to exercise along with their parents and siblings.

Olay Offers Greater Access to its Products

Blog: P&G

As the popular Ray Stevens song goes, “Everybody’s beautiful in their own way…”

We couldn’t agree more. But until very recently, it was difficult to find beauty products that were accessible to all. Those that did exist were typically available through small, independent companies and weren’t sold in chain stores or at department store makeup counters.

With its new disability friendly packaging, beauty brand Olay North America has taken a major step forward in changing the status quo of the beauty industry.

In early November, Olay, which is owned by Procter & Gamble—an American multinational consumer goods corporation that makes everything from Pampers to Tide to Bounty to Crest—announced it would begin selling its most popular skincare products with a newly designed limited edition “easy open lid.”

The lid will make opening popular Olay products, including the Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream, Vitamin C + Peptide 24 Face Moisturizer, Retinol 24 Face Moisturizer and Collagen Peptide 24 Face Moisturizer, easier for individuals with a range of disabilities including arthritis and joint pain, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, fine motor challenges and limb length disparities. Additionally, the lid features the label “skin cream” in braille. Products with the easy open lid are available on Olay’s website at olay.com/opentochange.

The innovative design comes as a result of customer feedback and was created for individuals with disabilities in consultation with disabled consumers. It is not clear why Olay decided to make the easy lid a limited edition. Hopefully, it will continue production if the design change is well received.

“We were honored to work closely with a passionate group of people to bring this easy open lid to life,” said Chris Heiert, Senior Vice President of Olay in a recent press release.

“As a global brand, it’s our responsibility to ensure that ALL consumers have access to products that serve their needs and fit seamlessly into their daily lives. But we can’t do it alone, which is why we’ve chosen not to patent this lid, and rather share the design widely with the beauty community. Our hope is that others will join us in our efforts in making products more accessible for everyone.”

To encourage the beauty industry to embrace inclusive product design, P&G is offering the design for the easy open lid on its website at no charge to other beauty brands.

Back in 2018, P&G’s Herbal Essence haircare line updated its shampoo and conditioner bottles so that people with low vision and blindness could distinguish between the two products. The brand’s shampoo bottles are designed with four raised lines on the bottom of the plastic containers while the conditioner bottles have a raised grid of eight circles. This small change makes a big difference to those who cannot read the products’ labels.

P&G says these design changes are just the beginning. The corporation has made a commitment to make all its packaging easier to open by the year 2025.

10 Ways to Find Discounts this Holiday Season and Any Old Time

Blog: 10 Ways to Find Discounts

With the holiday season underway and inflation wreaking havoc on Americans’ budgets, most of us would welcome the opportunity to save some money. If you or a family member has a disability, chances are you have many additional expenses that make staying within a budget especially challenging.

Fortunately, there are ways to have fun without breaking the bank. People with disabilities are sometimes offered discounts for travel, entertainment, and more.

We’ve done some research about discounts for people with disabilities — during the holiday season and beyond — that may be flying under the radar. Here’s what we discovered:

1. Regal Cinemas
If you’re fully vaccinated and feel ready to go back to the movies, Regal Cinemas has you covered with free wheelchair-accessible seating, and free admission for an assistant/companion who accompanies a guest with disabilities.

2. Amtrak
Traveling this holiday season? If so, be sure to check out Amtrak’s discounts for people with disabilities. According to the company’s website, “Amtrak offers a 10% rail fare discount to adult passengers with a disability. Passengers with a disability travelling on Downeaster trains (Boston, Massachusetts, to Portland, Maine) are eligible for a 50% discount. Child passengers with a disability are eligible for the everyday 50% child discount plus an additional 10% off the discounted child’s fare, regardless of the service on which they travel. Amtrak also offers a 10% discount for persons traveling with a passenger with a disability as a companion. Those designated as a companion must be capable of providing the necessary assistance to the passenger with a disability.

3. Club Go
Lucky enough to be vacationing for the holidays? Club Go describes itself as “the world’s only discount club for travelers with disabilities.” The company offers a special platform called Accessible Go and offers deals of up to 60% off hotels, motels, and resorts.

4. AT&T
The telecom company offers discounted landline and wireless phone plans of to 25% off for individuals with disabilities.

5. National Library Service
Holiday season is a wonderful time to curl up with a good book. NLS offers free braille and talking book library service for people with low vision or blindness and those with reading disabilities. According to the NLS website, “Through a national network of cooperating libraries, NLS circulates books and magazines in braille or audio formats, which are instantly downloadable to a personal device or delivered by mail free of charge.”

6. Metropolitan Museum of Art
Heading to New York City for the holidays? Be sure to visit the Big Apple’s magnificent museums. Individuals with disabilities who visit The Metropolitan Museum of Art can expect the museum to provide listening devices, audio guides, large print booklets, wheelchairs, and other accessibility services. Best of all, caregivers get in for free!

7. C4 HealthLabs
Many people find relief from a variety of symptoms in CBD products. If you have a documented disability, you can receive 10% off your purchase from C4 HealthLabs.

8. License to Fish
Did you know that many states offer free fishing licenses to people with disabilities? Check out this article from fishing experts Tackle Village, which contains all the information you need to reel in the savings.

9. Brooklyn Museum
If you’re in New York City over the holidays, head over to The Brooklyn Museum.  The museum offers $10 admission to people with disabilities, and their caregivers receive free admission.

10. San Diego Zoo
Who doesn’t love a trip to the zoo? Zoos including the San Diego Zoo, the Virginia Zoo, the Philadelphia Zoo, and the San Francisco Zoo are among the many zoos that offer free or discounted admission for people with disabilities and/or their caregivers. Check out your local zoo to see if there are deals to be had.

Note: Many of these discount programs may require proof of disability. Please see websites for additional information.

COVID Long Haulers: the New Disabled

Earlier this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that one in four American adults—61 million—live with some sort of disability.

That number is expected to rise as the Baby Boomers—the generation born between 1946 and 1964 – continue to age. According to the Population Reference Bureau, while Americans are living longer, “a growing body of research suggests that baby boomers in their 50s and 60s are in poorer health—with more chronic disease and disability—than earlier generations at the same ages …”

But Baby Boomers aren’t the only group joining the ranks of the chronically ill and disabled. COVID “long haulers” —those with lingering symptoms of COVID-19 that can be debilitating—are also struggling with chronic illness and disability. Many “long haulers” are young, and some find themselves unable to work because of their symptoms. They are also finding it challenging to qualify for disability benefits and to find physicians who understand their disease and how to treat it.

As Dr. Claire Pomeroy, an infectious disease physician and researcher, writes in a Scientific American article, “Unlike the common cold or even influenza, this virus causes a bewildering array of symptoms that persist long after the acute illness is resolved and can render some affected unable to resume their usual activities.”

Pomeroy says that while scientists and physicians seek answers to the medical questions posed by long COVID, it is up to public health and policymakers to be ready for long haulers and their healthcare needs, including disability insurance, workers compensation and other services.

In recent months, long haulers have begun organizing and forming advocacy groups that are pushing for research and treatment options to address their myriad symptoms. In some ways, long COVID sufferers have an advantage over people with similar symptoms who don’t know where their illnesses originated. Knowing why they are ill may make it easier to get the attention of members of the medical establishment, scientists, philanthropists, and public health experts.

Says Ed Yong, a science writer for The Atlantic: “The risk is that long COVID becomes yet another neglected disease whereby some uncounted number of people become debilitatingly sick every year and fruitlessly bang for help on the door of an unconcerned medical establishment. But a better future is also possible, in which long-haulers—vocal, united, and numerous—finally galvanize research into the long-term consequences of viral infections; in which such research proceeds quickly as patient experts become partners; in which the world gets ways of preventing and treating long COVID, ME/CFS [Myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) or myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome] and other marginalized conditions…”

Here at Enabling Devices, our hope is that the efforts of long haulers will influence researchers, physicians, and healthcare administrators to find cures and treatments, not only for long COVID but also for the millions of other individuals with more than 7,000 rare and as yet, incurable diseases.

5 Hints for a Terrific Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Dinner Table with Roast Turkey

The pandemic isn’t over yet. But thankfully, for those of us who are fully vaccinated, this year’s holiday season promises to be far more festive than last year’s.

While this return to some semblance of normalcy is a welcome relief, for families with disabled children, the prospect of a return to large social gatherings can be a mixed blessing.

Here are some tips to ensure that your family’s Thanksgiving is a good time for all.

1. Don’t forget the masks!

Bummer though it may be, the facts are the facts. Even if teens and adults in your family have received their vaccines, as of this writing, vaccines have just been authorized for children under 12. And while being fully vaccinated generally provides good protection, those who are older or immunocompromised can still get quite sick if they contract the virus. According to Healthy Children.org, a website from the American Academy of Pediatrics, “children and youth with special health care needs (CYSHCN) may be at increased risk for more severe illness and complications. This includes children with chronic physical, developmental, behavioral or emotional conditions, disabilities, and those with medically complex conditions.”

 2. Plan Ahead

Careful planning is key to successful holiday activities. If you’re traveling by plane, train or other means of public transportation, be sure to pack books, snacks, portable toys and sensory items such as a weighted vest, to keep children busy and calm on the trip. If your child is medically fragile, find out about healthcare facilities in the community you’re visiting. Double check hotel reservations, especially if you will require special accommodations for your child.

3. Prepare your child

After nearly two years of limited social interactions, your child may need to brush up on her social skills. Talk with her about what to expect at holiday gatherings and remind her of social protocols. Roleplay appropriate behaviors and reacquaint her with family members and friends through photos and memory sharing. Social stories are great way to teach children with social skills challenges to navigate the holidays. Special education advocate Lisa Lightner’s blog, A Day in Our Shoes has some great Thanksgiving-themed social stories that can serve as a jumping off point.

4. Talk with your host

If your holiday plans include visiting a friend or family member’s home, get the lay of the land beforehand. Have an open, honest discussion about your child’s needs and how best to accommodate them at the event. For example, find out what’s on the menu. If your child is on special diet or is just a picky eater, there’s no need for the host to change the menu. If you know what’s being served, you can supplement the meal by bringing food your child favors. Similarly, if your child becomes overwhelmed by large groups, noise, smells or other sensory experiences, ask your host if she would mind directing you to a space where your child can go to rest, play quietly, or watch TV if he becomes overstimulated. Most hosts will be more than happy to accommodate your child. If that’s not the case, maybe you should consider skipping the event.

 5. Don’t overdo it

While holiday season can be joyous, it can also be exceedingly stressful. After almost two years of quarantine, most of us are feeling anxious about returning to large gatherings. Children, especially children with disabilities, may feel this anxiety even more intensely than the rest of us. Respect that and adjust your holiday plans accordingly. If you and your family aren’t ready to resume pre-pandemic levels of socialization, that’s completely legitimate. Friends and family who love you will understand.

Apple’s Map Guides Now Include Ratings for the Deaf

Blog Apple’s Map Guides

Last summer, Washington, D.C.–based Gallaudet University and technology giant Apple announced a new partnership that will help deaf, hard of hearing and deaf-blind individuals to identify businesses that are “deaf-friendly,” by using the tech company’s Map Guides Project.

According to Apple, Map Guides—available in the Maps app—consists of “editorially curated guides from trusted brands and partners… to help [users] discover great places around the world to eat, shop, and explore.” As new sites and businesses are established, the guides are updated with new recommendations.

Beginning last July, the guides include ratings of D.C. businesses and attractions based on their “deaf friendliness.” According to Forbes, Gallaudet —a prestigious university established especially for deaf and hard of hearing students in 1864—used the following criteria to rate D.C. area businesses:

  • Is the location’s customer/audience base geared toward the Deaf Community with ethical consciousness of our language, culture, and community resources?
  • Is the site owned and operated by deaf and hard-of-hearing people, or does the site employ deaf and hard-of-hearing people?
  • Has the location embraced and found the significance, worth, and value of American Sign Language (and other signed/tactile languages), deaf people, and deaf culture?
  • Does the site show consideration and inclusion of deaf and hard-of-hearing people in their workplace, audience, and community?

Wondering how a business and its employees can become “deaf–friendly?” Here’s what business consultants deaffriendly Consulting recommends:

  • When interacting with customers, annunciate clearly so that people who are hard of hearing can understand you
  • Use body language and facial expression to facilitate communication
  • Make sure the lighting in your business office is good so that deaf customers who can speech-read are able to see your lips move
  • Maintain good eye contact and don’t turn away when speaking with deaf customers
  • If necessary, don’t be afraid to use old-fashioned paper and pen to communicate
  • Consider learning ASL (American Sign Language)
  • Communicate through email, text or relay instead of telephone
  • Budget for sign language interpreters and captioning services
  • Ensure that your technology is reliable, up-to-date and does not take the place of human interaction
  • When in doubt, ask deaf customers what works best for them

Deaf-friendly practices aren’t only beneficial to deaf, deaf-blind and hard of hearing customers. They are also good business, says deaffriendly Consulting.

“Committing to being deaf-friendly is the most risk-averse move you could make,” the consulting firm’s website says. “Consider the U.S. demographic ticking clock: More than 1 billion people in the world have a disability, according to the World Bank. Throw in our massive population of aging Baby Boomers, and it’s inevitable that most everyone will live with disability at some point during their lives.

More specifically, says deaffriendly, “of all disability types, the demographic with hearing difficulties encompasses the highest discretionary income by far: $9 billion… The second-highest disability group represents only $3 billion, according to an April 2018 report called “An Undervalued Market: The Purchasing Power of People With Disabilities.

A Look Back on the Tokyo Paralympics

Blog Paralympics

It’s been over a week since Paralympic athletes departed Tokyo, yet we’re still catching our collective breath after witnessing the electrifying and awe-inspiring performances of Paralympic athletes in this year’s Paralympic Games.

If you watched the games for the first time, or if you weren’t aware of the games’ fascinating history, read on…

The first Paralympic games were held on July 28, 1948, about 35 miles northwest of London. The games took place on the same day as the 1948 Olympics opened in London. According to the International Paralympic Committee, “the competition was first introduced by Sir Ludwig Guttmann, an English neurosurgeon, at his Stoke Mandeville Games for World War II veterans with spinal cord-related injuries. Later, other disability groups also established their own international sports organizations, which arranged various competitions.”

At the end of the 20th century, the Paralympic games, which had grown by leaps and bounds, became a biannual (summer and winter) event like the Olympics and took place every four years shortly after the Olympics games concluded.

Today’s Paralympics include athletes representing “six different disability groups—amputee, cerebral palsy, visual impairment, spinal cord injuries, intellectual disability, and ‘les autres’ (athletes whose disability does not fit into one of the other categories, including dwarfism),” says Brittanica.com.

These athletes compete in many of the same sports that are part of the Olympics. For example, the Paralympics include Alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, and biathlon at the winter games and cycling, archery, and swimming for the summer games. Sports such as basketball, tennis and rugby are played in wheelchairs. Goalball, a sport for visually impaired athletes, and boccia, which is like bocce or lawn bowling, can only be seen at the Paralympics.

This year, the Paralympics included two new sports – Badminton and Taekwondo.

Highlights of this year’s games

China was the top winner of the 2020 games. For the fifth consecutive games, China came away with 96 gold medals and 207 total medals. The runner-up for the 2021 games was Great Britain, which came in second for the ninth consecutive time, winning 41 gold medals and total of 124 medals. In third place was the United States, the winner of 37 golds and 104 total medals. Finally, The Russian Paralympic Committee was in fourth place, with 36 golds and 118 total medals.

Athletic triumphs

There are too many triumphs to mention in a single blog post, but here are some highlights of the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.

  • The first gold medal of the 2020 Paralympics was won by Australian cyclist Paige Greco, 24, who lives with cerebral palsy. Greco won gold for the C1-3 3,000m individual pursuit, with a time of 3:50.815. She set a new world record!
  • Swimmer Suzuki Takayuki of Japan won the host country’s first gold medal with a time of 1:21:58 in the men’s 100m freestyle – S4.
  • Afghanistan-born Abbas Karimi, a swimmer on the Refugee Paralympic team, made the final of the men’s 50m butterfly S5 event. Karimi finished third with a time of 36.36 and qualified for the men’s 50m butterfly S5 final. Though he finished last, this was a significant accomplishment.
  • Italian fencer Bebe Vio, who lost both legs below the knee and both arms below the elbows due to meningitis, defeated PR (People’s Republic of) China’s Zhou Jingjing for the second time. The 24-year-old athlete scored 15-8 in the gold medal match in individual foil. Vio also defeated Jingjing in 2016 in the Rio Games.
  • PR China’s Zhao Shuai, 26, won his third consecutive Paralympic gold in the men’s table tennis singles 8. Shuai lost his arm when it was amputated after a car accident at 4 years old. Shuai beat Ukraine’s Viktor Didukh 3-1 in the final and he also won a gold medal in the men’s table tennis team event.
  • Cyclist Oksana Masters, 32, won gold in the U.S. women’s cycling H4-5 Time Trial. Masters is also a champion cross-country skier, having won two golds at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Paralympic Games. Masters’ legs were injured by in-utero radiation poisoning from the Chernobyl nuclear reactor accident.
  • Markus Rehm of Germany is known as the “Blade Jumper” because of his amazing long jump ability. At the 2021 games, Rehm won gold for his 8.18m jump. The winning jump is the third consecutive Paralympic victory for the 33-year-old athlete who uses a leg prosthesis and won gold in the 4x100m relay at Rio.
  • Cyclist, Sarah Storey, 43, of Great Britain won her 17th gold medal after winning the cycling C4-5 road race with a time of 2:21:51. Storey was born with a nonfunctioning left hand. The 2021 games marked her eighth Paralympic Games and her fourth time competing as a cyclist. Previously Storey, whose first Paralympics was at age 14 in Barcelona, was a Paralympic swimmer. She switched to cycling after a severe ear infection kept her out of the pool.
  • Lisa Gjessing of Denmark, already a four-time world champion and three-time European champion, became a Paralympic champion in taekwondo. Gjessing, 43, was originally part of Denmark’s able-bodied taekwondo squad but switched to para taekwondo in 2012 after she lost her left lower arm to cancer. This was the first time that taekwondo was included as a Paralympic sport and Gjessing won her gold with a final score of 32-14.

If you missed the games, you can still catch highlights here.

Stylish Back-to-School Shoes Accessible to All

Blog.Stylish Back-to-School Shoes

Back-to-school shoe shopping–it’s a fall ritual for many American families. Now that the fashion industry has finally begun to recognize that individuals with disabilities make up a sizable portion of the general population, more and more companies are designing apparel to meet their needs. Just-in-time for the upcoming school year, shoe designer Steve Madden has created a new line of kids shoes with features that make it easier for children with disabilities to find fashionable footwear.

According to Disability Scoop, “for its fall collection, the company said that six of its ‘hottest kids styles’ have been tweaked with features like extra-long Velcro, zippers with tabs, elastic laces, removable insoles and outsoles and wider widths in order to accommodate a variety of needs.”

Danielle McCoy, Steve Madden’s director of corporate development and investor relations says the company has been working on its new adaptive footwear line for children since 2019. That year, members of the Steve Madden Kids Team attended the Runway of Dreams fashion show where they spoke to children with disabilities who shared their desires to have shoes that resembled the ones their classmates wore. The children said it was frustrating that fashionable footwear was generally inaccessible to them. As McCoy told Disability Scoop, “it became clear that Steve Madden had an opportunity not only to fill a sizeable gap in the marketplace, but also to create a world where people with disabilities had the same opportunities to express themselves through fashion.”

Steve Madden, which collaborates with online retailer Zappos, joins companies including Nike, Ugg, Stride Rite and Billy Footwear that also sell shoes designed especially for children with disabilities. In addition, says website The Mighty, some shoes not targeted for kids in the disability community may also work for your child. For example, Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Toddler High Top Shoes, has “a quick fasten strap that makes the shoes easier for putting on. It also runs a half size larger, allowing room to accommodate AFOs [Ankle Foot Orthosis].”

Likewise, Hook and Loop 680v5 Shoes from New Balance, TSUKIHOSHI Kids Neko shoes and Saucony Kids S-Velocer call this program has A/C shoes are good choice for young children who wear braces, says The Mighty. Additionally, “Hatchbacks Freestyle Kids are orthopedic shoes, specifically designed to work with AFOs.”

Back to school shopping and preparing for the start of the school year can be challenging. Hopefully, the information in today’s blog post will make getting ready a little easier.

New Reality Show: “Born For Business”

Blog: New Reality Show

Searching for a watch-worthy reality show? We’ve got just the ticket. “Born For Business,” a new documentary series by Bunim/Murray Productions, the creators of “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” and “Born This Way,” premieres on NBCUniversal’s streaming service Peacock and CRAVE on August 23. “Born For Business” is also presented by Shopify Studios, a comprehensive commerce platform that helps users to start, run, and grow a business.

The 10- episode show features four entrepreneurs with disabilities trying to run their small businesses amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. They are:

  • Qiana Allen, owner of Culture’s Closet, one of the nation’s most successful clothing stores for plus-sized women. Qiana has lupus but she doesn’t let that slow her down. Allen told RespectAbility, a disability advocacy nonprofit, “Culture’s Closet is about more than fashion. ‘We teach plus-sized women how to love themselves.’” Allen said she chose to appear on the show and to share her personal story because “she recognized how important it is to show people with disabilities and plus-size women in ways that they are not often typically seen.  She saw “Born For Business” as the perfect opportunity to do just that.”
  • Collette Divitto, founder of Collettey’s Cookies, who lives with Down syndrome. After Divitto graduated from college, she was unable to find a company that would hire her. A talented baker, Divitto decided to start her own company. What’s more, she hires other people with disabilities to work in the business. According to Disability Scoop, so far, she has sold over 300,000 cookies!
  • Chris Triebes, who lives with spinal muscular atrophy and runs a concert production company, two concert venues and a music festival ticketing service. Triebes told RespectAbility he wanted to share his story on “Born For Business” because of “the lack of representation of people with disabilities in media … especially when it comes to portraying stories of proactive business owners making their own opportunities and succeeding.” Triebes, a single father, “laments the often-repeated tropes of pitied people with disabilities who are painted as helpless or unresourceful.”
  • Lexi Zanghi, who has a debilitating anxiety disorder, launched a designer clothing business called Always Reason that recently opened its first brick and mortar location on Long Island, N.Y. Zanghi chose her business’s name after the old saying “Everything happens for a reason.”

Jonathan Murray of Bunim/Murray Productions told RespectAbility he was compelled to create the series because “for too long, people with disabilities have been shut out of the workplace. With ‘Born For Business,’ we are showing how people with disabilities have long been using entrepreneurship to create an economic livelihood for themselves.”

Be Ready Should an Emergency Arise

Between the pandemic and an avalanche of natural disasters, the past year and a half has reminded all of us about the importance of emergency preparedness. For older adults and people with disabilities, it’s even more critical to be ready should disaster strike.

For example, those with mobility challenges face greater risk when a disaster such as a hurricane or fire demands that they vacate their homes quickly. In addition, during natural disasters or emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic, their ability to obtain food, medicine, personal assistance and medical care may be compromised. How can people with disabilities keep themselves safe?

Stay aware

  • Ready.gov recommends individuals with disabilities stay abreast of any weather disasters forecasted in their areas. “Keep a NOAA Weather Radio tuned to your local emergency station and monitor TV and radio. Follow mobile alerts and warnings about severe weather in your area.”
  • Download the FEMA app to receive “real-time alerts from the National Weather Service for up to five locations nationwide.”

Have a plan

  • Ready.gov suggests creating a support network of individuals willing to help and keep in touch with you in case of an emergency. These may be family members, friends or people at your school, workplace or volunteer job. Keep their contact information in a safe and waterproof place.
  • Consider all your day-to-day needs such as medication; food supply; accessible transportation; medical equipment; communication devices; and access to medical facilities and determine how you will get these needs fulfilled should an emergency occur.
  • If communication is an issue for you, prepare “laminated pictograms and keep Braille/text communication cards, if used, for two-way communication,” Ready.gov recommends.
  • Don’t forget your pets. If you need to evacuate, take your furry friend with you, but be aware that you may not be able to take him or her to an emergency shelter. Enlist the help of a family member friend or veterinary office that can take care of your pet while you’re out of your home.

Create an emergency kit that includes:

  • Three-day supply of food and water
  • Portable electric radio or TV with extra batteries
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • First-aid kit
  • Toiletries
  • Sanitation items such as toilet paper, wipes and hand sanitizer
  • Clothing and blankets
  • Copies of all identification documents and credit cards

Homeowners’ insurance company Bankrate recommends seniors and individuals with disabilities take certain precautions to ensure that their cars are properly outfitted in case they need to leave their homes immediately:

  • Purchase a siren alarm. “Compatible with both your home and vehicle, a siren alert is an easy way to call for help in an emergency, especially for those drivers with hearing loss,” writes Lena Borrelli for Bankrate.
  • Install assist bar or strap. Make sure your car is a sturdy assist bar or strap so that you can get in and out of the car in a hurry, says Bankrate.
  • Invest in safety features. If you’re in the market for a new or used car, you might be surprised to learn about the many new safety features that are standard in today’s automobiles. Look for cars with features such as hands-free navigation, lane keeping assistance, pedestrian detection, and forward collision warning, says Bankrate. These features can make all the difference, especially when the driver is reacting to the stress of an emergency.

Enabling Devices hopes that this blog post gets readers thinking about how to keep themselves safe in the event of an emergency. For more information and safety tips please visit ready.gov, RedCross.org, CDC.org and bankrate.com.