Visit This Completely Accessible Museum!

USOPM

A new museum in Colorado Springs, Colorado is making history by honoring Olympians and Paralympians on an equal playing field.

The United States Olympic and Paralympic Museum (USOPM), which opened July 30, brings to life the history, culture, and ambitions of the Olympic and Paralympic Games from its beginnings in Ancient Olympia to the Olympic and Paralympic Games of today.

And while it’s not ideal for a museum to open during a pandemic, the USOPM has been welcoming guests who respect the institution’s strict health and safety regulations.

According to museum CEO Christopher Liedel, the USOPM “has been 10 years in the making.” Liedel says, “The museum is more than a sports museum. It is a museum of hopes and dreams. And we think the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum will provide athletes and fans alike with a space to celebrate friendship, determination and all the best values Team USA athletes embody.”

The 60,000-square foot building, designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro and exhibit design firm Gallagher & Associates, houses 12 galleries and is built on principals of universal and inclusive design theories [design that serves everyone]. USOPM visitors can create their own unique tours through the museum based on their sports preferences and accessibility needs.

With features including wheelchair accessibility, accessible media, tactility, open captioning and American Sign Language, the museum is meant to be 100 percent accessible to people with all types of disabilities.

To ensure that the museum’s design and accessibility features would best meet the needs of disabled visitors, the design team consulted with Paralympic athletes including pistol shooter Mike Tagliapietra and goalball athlete Matt Simpson. As Tagliapietra told Paralympic.org News, “I remember the first thing I said to them was please don’t put carpet in the museum. It makes it difficult to push wheelchairs around on it.”

“The goal is to eliminate any differences in the museum experience among people with varying physical abilities,” says New York Times writer Ray Mark Rinaldi.

The museum’s exhibitions, fabricated by Creo Industrial Arts include: Hall of Fame; Introduction to the Games; Athlete Training; The Lab; Parade of Nations; Summer Games; Winter Games; The World Watches; Medal Collection; a theater with NBC-produced film titled, “To Take Part”; Medal Ceremony; and a gallery with changing exhibitions that’s currently displaying the works of the official painter of five Olympic Games — LeRoy Neiman.

The exhibitions themselves also erase differences between athletes of varying physical abilities by giving equal attention to the accomplishments of Olympians and Paralympians. For example, the museum’s 460 artifacts include Olympic skater Peggy Fleming’s skating costume and ice skates as well as Paralympian John Register’s prosthetic leg and running shoe. Instead of dividing the museum into a Paralympic section and an Olympics section, the exhibition’s only division is between summer and winter games. Likewise, the museum isn’t focused only on Olympic and Paralympic winners. As Rinaldi writes: “The athletes who earned medals and enduring public adoration at the Games receive the same recognition as those who went home empty-handed.” Because it’s not about winning or losing. It’s about how you play the game!”

10 Resources for Getting Through the Pandemic

Resources for Getting Through

COVID-19 is taking a toll on all of us. We’re afraid of contracting the virus, worried about unemployment and the loss of financial security, grieving for those who have died and are sick and uncertain about when and if life will ever return to normal. For individuals with disabilities and their families, worries may be even greater. According to the CDC, most hospitalized COVID-19 patients — 90% — of hospitalized patients have one or more underlying conditions.

At Enabling Devices, we’re all about making life easier for our customers and community. To that end, we’ve compiled some information about new legislation and resources that may help individuals and families during this unprecedented time.

 COVID-19 Legislation to Help Families and Schools

1. The CARES Act

It’s been about two months since President Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) into law. The law provides more than $2 trillion in direct aid for workers, families, hospitals, small businesses and local governments fighting the coronavirus.

If your adjusted gross income is less than $75,000 a year as an individual or $150,000 for a couple, you may have already received a no-strings-attached payment of $1200 to offset losses of income due to the pandemic. If not, it should arrive any day. Families in that income bracket with dependents will also receive $500 per child. If your income is higher, but still less than $99,000 per individual or $198,000 per couple, you are entitled to some portion of $1,200.

For more specific information, check out this May 6 article in Business Insider. Another good source for details especially pertinent to individuals with disabilities and their families is howtogeton.wordpress. We don’t know yet whether stimulus checks will be a one-time thing. Currently, some lawmakers are pushing the federal government to issue another round of stimulus checks. Fingers crossed!

2. Education Stabilization Fund

Enabling Devices’ school customers may be particularly interested in the CARES Act’s funding of the $30 billion Education Stabilization Fund. The Fund is distributed between the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund; The Elementary and Secondary School Education Relief Fund (ESSER Fund); and the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEER Fund), which has the most flexible guidelines of the three. GEER, which was announced by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos on April 14, is an emergency block grant of $3 billion that provides funding for students, schools and other educational institutions. GEER gives governors the power to distribute funds at their own discretion. Funds can be used to cover expenses including COVID-19 response efforts, afterschool and summer learning programs, nutrition and mental health services, internet and remote learning and technology-related purchases.

3. Heroes Act

While $30 billion may sound like a great deal of money, given the length of the pandemic, education groups are clamoring for more. According to Education Week, several education groups including two teachers unions told congress in early April, that they needed “upwards of $200 billion in new aid.” Now, writes Education Week, House Democrats have proposed The Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (Heroes Act).The Heroes Act would create a $90 billion “state fiscal stabilization fund” for the U.S. Department of Education to distribute to K-12 as well as higher education. If approved by the U.S. Senate, schools would see approximately $60 billion dollars in funding for education including $12 billion for special education.

COVID-19 Resources for People with Disabilities or Chronic Conditions

4. National Homework Help for Visually Impaired

The National Homework Hotline for Blind/Visually Impaired Students (NHH-BVI) is offering free homework help and tutoring for students from kindergarten through college affected by school closures due to the coronavirus.

5. Global Healthy Living Foundation

The GHLF is providing free support program for individuals with chronic health conditions and their families during the pandemic. Users will be able to find the latest information about COVID-19 as well as free support services.

6. Vocational Rehab Services

On May 14, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Rehabilitation Services and Special Education released guidelines for vocational rehabilitation services during the pandemic. As reported by Disability Scoop, “Vocational rehabilitation agencies can continue to serve individuals with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic, though some adjustments may be needed…” Essentially, services including job coaching, career counseling, pre-employment transition services. You can get more details here.

7. Child Mind Institute Resources

The Child Mind Institute, an independent national nonprofit for children and families with mental health and learning challenges is offering a range of services and resources during the pandemic. Offerings include Facebook Live chats with experts; remote evaluations, telehealth and flat-fee phone consultations for parenting questions and videos concerning COVID-19 issues.

8. Sesame Street Resources

You can count on Sesame Street to provide help for children and families. The nonprofit’s campaign #CaringForEachOther, includes ideas for stay-at-home activities; parenting videos; and advice for all sorts of COVID-19-related situations you are likely to confront with your children.

9. RespectAbility Zoom Gatherings

RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization that works to fight stigma and provide opportunities to individuals with disabilities are offering Zoom gatherings facilitated by expert advocates to encourage community connection, resource sharing, and COVID-19-related information and problem-solving.

10. The Arc

The Arc, a national, community-based nonprofit that serves individuals with intellectual disabilities and their families, is a great source for up-to-the-minute information about COVID-19 that’s specifically relevant to the disabilities community. On thearc.org, you can read about legislative advocacy efforts, and find fact sheets about unemployment benefits; the small business bill; recovery rebates and more.

Enabling Devices will continue to update resources as the COVID-19 pandemic develops. Meanwhile, we wish all our customers safety and wellness.