Accessing Our Country’s National Park Sites and Sights

eremy Buzzell, Chief of the National Accessibility Branch, National Park Service

By Guest Blogger Jeremy Buzzell, Chief of the National Accessibility Branch, National Park Service

2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service – a defining moment that offers an opportunity to reflect on and celebrate our accomplishments as we prepare for a new century of stewardship and engagement.

America has changed dramatically since the birth of the National Park Service in 1916. The roots of the National Park Service lie in the parks’ majestic, often isolated natural wonders and in places that exemplify our cultural heritage, but our reach now extends to places difficult to imagine 100 years ago – into urban centers, across rural landscapes, deep within oceans, and across night skies.

In our second century, the National Park Service must recommit to exemplary stewardship and public enjoyment of these places. This includes renewing our efforts to ensure that visitors with disabilities have equal opportunity to benefit from all that our parks have to offer. That’s why the National Park Service released a five-year strategic plan for improving accessibility in August of 2014.

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The ADA in 2016

A photo of President George Bush signing into law the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 on the South Lawn of the White House. L to R, sitting: Evan Kemp, Chairman, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Justin Dart, Chairman, President's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities. L to R, standing: Rev. Harold Wilke and Swift Parrino, Chairperson, National Council on Disability, 07/26/1990.

By the Disability.gov Team

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) celebrates its 26th anniversary on July 26, 2016. For some, 26 years may seem like a long time, but the truth is 1990 isn’t so far in the past. The ADA improves the lives of people with disabilities by protecting their rights to have access to employment, public entities, transportation, public accommodations and commercial facilities, telecommunications and more. It helps people with disabilities compete equally for employment and receive the accommodations and protection they need to work. In public and commercial spaces, the ADA requires accessible features and technologies, such as  curb cuts and closed captioning.

The achievement of the ADA was accomplished through hours of planning, organizing and hard work by the disability community. As the ADA was being voted on, disability rights activists gathered together, some crawling up the steps of Capitol Hill without their crutches or wheelchairs. The image of disabled activists of all ages, races and genders proudly making their way up the steps where their rights were being determined moved the nation. This demonstration, called the “Capitol crawl,” helped result in the passing of the ADA.

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Olmstead Ownership for Older Adults

Administration for Community Living

Editor’s Note: This blog was cross-posed from the Administration for Community Living (ACL) blog.

By Edwin Walker, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Aging

Yesterday marked the 17th anniversary of a landmark Supreme Court decision. In Olmstead v. L.C. the Court ruled that people who need assistance with activities of daily living such as eating, bathing, dressing and walking cannot be unnecessarily segregated. They must receive services in the most integrated setting possible.

This decision, based on the Americans with Disabilities Act, has great implications for older adults.

All people should have the opportunity to live, work, retire, and contribute to diverse neighborhoods and communities, regardless of age or disability. The Olmstead decision has helped make that vision a reality for older adults and people with disabilities alike by shaping policy that ultimately provides services. For example, in the 2006 and again in 2016 Congress reauthorized the Older Americans Act, each time helping reshape the systems that provide long-term services and supports to include more home-and-community-based services.  As a result, more older adults now get help with dressing, grocery shopping, and other routine tasks, making it possible for them to continue living in their homes.

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Ensuring All People with Disabilities Can Answer One Simple Question

A photo of John Kemp

By Guest Blogger John D. Kemp, President & CEO, The Viscardi Center

Who do you aspire to be? When asked, no matter what your age, it’s likely an individual you can relate to in some sense. All too often this question, seemingly simple in nature, becomes difficult for people with disabilities to answer. Why… because many with disabilities have few aspirational role models, leaders and mentors they can liken themselves to in their midst.

For this reason, the Henry Viscardi Achievement Awards were established in honor of our organization’s founder, Dr. Henry Viscardi, Jr. Dr. Viscardi, who used prosthetic legs, transformed the lives of countless individuals with disabilities around the world. In fact, he served as disability advisor to eight presidents, wrote eight books, was the inspiration for countless disability-related organizations, led the first U.S. business to be staffed primarily by employees with disabilities, and opened an accredited, private school giving children with severe physical disabilities the opportunity for an education in a more traditional setting.

Most importantly, Dr. Viscardi was one to admire. A shining example and living proof for thousands of children and adults with disabilities, including myself, that we should aim high and that we could accomplish anything we put our minds to academically, vocationally and socially. I now have the privilege of leading the organization he founded over 60 years ago. The Viscardi Center continues to educate, employ and empower people with disabilities, guide employers on the benefits of an inclusive workforce, and shape policy changes that will benefit the people it serves.

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Wired Together

Brain IDEAS Symposium August 5, 2016

By Guest Blogger Wayne Connell, Founder and President, Invisible Disabilities® Association

Neuroplasticity, brain training, brain-based therapy, rewire your brain, brain mapping, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), mindfulness, therapeutic humor, microbiome, unconscious mind, attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, dyslexia, Alzheimer’s, Down syndrome, nutrition, stroke, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI). We hear so many scientific and medical buzzwords today. What do they all mean and why should I care? Very good question!

I am sure you have heard the phrase, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” People usually make this comment when we find out some habit or trait about a person and we believe, that’s just the way they are, or when we are trying to teach someone something new and it doesn’t seem to be catching on.

Animals are trained to perform certain tricks or to behave in a certain way until it’s ingrained in them. Over and over and over again until they get it right and it becomes second nature to them. Try teaching a dog to “not sit” once they have learned the command “sit!” I guess we could possibly teach them to stand versus to not sit. Sounds complicated to me and probably hard to teach especially after many, many dog years of sitting on command. This is the reason why it is tough to teach an old dog new tricks or almost impossible to unlearn existing ones.

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