Disabled Accomplishments

Disabled Accomplishments
with Jo-Blogs

27 August 2009

New Disabled Parking System - What Do You Think?

I have just read an article about disabled parking in the Daily Telegraph. It’s about Bill Shorten, the parliamentary secretary for disabilities, he is trying to change the guidelines in which someone is approved to receive a disability parking permit. These days it seems that there are very little regulations in place, and that almost anyone can obtain a disabled parking permit.

Personally, I think there should be a system, where there are different colour disabled passes, which allow people to park in the corresponding coloured spaces. There should be a ‘wheelchair only’ parking section, these should be close to the shops entrance and wide enough to allow a wheelchair be lowered from a hoist without hitting any other cars. Then, there should be another disabled parking section for other less severe disabled drivers and passengers who can walk, but still need to be slightly closer than more able bodied people.

I know I have been forced to park in the ‘normal’ spaces due to the disabled ones being taken, (often by people who don’t appear to need them), and I am unable to get my chair down off the roof safely without banging my chair into my car or the car next to me.

Some people legitimately need a disabled parking permit, but are still able to use the ordinary spaces. I am constantly seeing people parking in disabled spaces and they have a disabled parking permit, but I can’t see any physical reason why they need to be parked closer to the shops, while I get forced to park a distance away from the shops entrance.

Bill Shorten is trying to crack down on the rules and regulations that are followed by doctors, who authorize the need of a disabled parking permit. He is also talking about having a larger fine for people who illegally park, then, to start taking demerit points off repeat offenders. I think this is a great idea, and will help to deter anyone who wants to take advantage of the spaces, while they ‘quickly duck into the shops’.

I have also been on the receiving end of being abused for parking in disabled spaces. There were times when I was younger, travelling around with my mum, she would park and get out, people would yell at her for parking in a disabled space, then she would reach into the boot and get my chair out, the people would almost swallow their tongues with embarrassment.

I have recently come across this myself too, because I drive, unless people see my chair on the roof, they don’t expect me to be in one. I have been given lots of dirty looks, especially when I travel with my boyfriend in the car, I’ll park, and he’ll get out to get my chair from the boot, once they see that, they go from, just about to yell at us, to smiling politely, we find it quite amusing.

In an article from the news.com.au website, a man states that his new approach to people parking illegally is running up to them saying - "Thank goodness I got to you in time - parking inspectors are about and you've forgotten to display your permit”, he says these people are so embarrassed and feel so guilty that they often own up to parking illegally and move their cars.

I really hope to one day see my idea of ‘wheelchair only’ parking bays put into action, I have emailed the office of Bill Shorten to give my suggestion, I will also be contacting local council offices with the same suggestion, I’ll keep you updated on the progress.

To view the entire article in which Bill Shorten is interviewed, go to - http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/national/heavier-fines-urged-for-abuse-of-disabled-car-parking/story-e6freuzr-1225766618230 or to view a similar related story, go to - http://www.news.com.au/story/0,,25987872-5007146,00.html.

26 August 2009

The Power Of Companion Dogs

As I’ve said before, I think dogs are a very important part of a person’s life, especially if that person has a disability.

Dogs are great as a companion and a helper, at Assistance Dogs Australia, they train Labrador and Golden Retriever pups to help people with disabilities.

Each puppy takes about 2 years to train and costs around $20,000, the organization is government funded and also relies on volunteers and sponsorship.

The assistance dogs can be trained to pick up dropped mobile phones, to open and close doors, get things out of the fridge, help someone to dress or undress and paying money to cashiers at high shop counters.

They allow people with disabilities to live alone and gain independence but still feel secure enough to know that if something happens to them, the dog can get help, I read that one dog was trained by his owner that if he fell out of his chair to ring a bell to alert the neighbours.

There are also dogs that are trained to alert people with hearing impairments about when danger is nearing, warn their owners about approaching seizures and the more recognized guide dogs to assist blind people. I think the power of dogs is amazing, they have even been said to have sensed tumors and cancer in patients.

Assistance dogs are given special coats so they are acknowledged by businesses to allow them into what would normally be dog un-friendly places.

In most cases, with domestic flights, Australian airlines will let passengers on an airplane with an assistance dog and they will be allowed to travel free of charge and be able to sit next to their owner. The passenger must carry an ID card for the dog stating that it has been trained and is recognized as an assistance dog.

To view the video that Assistance Dogs Australia has put together, click here - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C4jXOsKUAJg. It shows the great things they can train the dogs to do for disabled people. To get more information about getting an assistance dog, go to http://www.assistancedogs.org.au/. There is currently a long wait to receive a dog but they have a waiting list and they try to match up dogs with a specific person’s needs and personality.

Every disabled child should be given a dog for companionship, they make barriers like being isolated or misunderstood because of disability such a better experience, with their unconditional love.

My mum decided to get me a dog for companionship when I was 8 years old, she was a Miniature Foxy X Chihuahua, I named her Polly.

She was like my best friend as I grew up. She used to pull me along by her lead in my wheelchair as we walked to school with my mum. We were inseparable, she escaped out of our backyard one day and ran to my primary school to find me, the office staff had to get me out of class but she was so excited when she saw me.

Not long after I got her, she broke her arm, (which was strange as I was the one with brittle bones), she was then more like me, having to get around in a plaster cast for 4 weeks. She used to follow me everywhere, we were chasing each other around the house one day and she ran into my arm accidentally breaking it.

I was in hospital when I was about 11 for leg surgery, during one of my many stays while growing up. It had been 4 weeks since I’d seen Polly, which was probably the longest time we’d spent apart from each other. Mum used to take my clothes that I’d been wearing home for her to sniff so she knew I was still around. The manager of the ward I was staying in, gave mum permission to bring Polly in to see me for a few hours, because she was so small, mum snuck her in without anyone noticing. My legs were both broken and Polly was so excited to see me but she was so careful not to bump my legs, and laid with me for about 2 hours in my hospital bed, only laying near the top half, as if she knew I was sore.

If I was ever sad or just having an emotional day, Polly used to always cheer me up, she would lick my tears away and wrap her arms around me as if she was cuddling me.

Sadly, Polly had to be put down 4 years ago due to Cancer, I had her for 12 years and they were some of the most memorable 12 years of my life. I have included a picture of her below.

25 August 2009

Disabled Drivers Obtaining A License And A Car – Everything You Need To Know!

My Story- If you are in a wheelchair, depending on the degree of disability of course, you can usually get a licence. You just need to do your research, so here is my story on getting my licence and setting up my car with modifications to hopefully help you, because if you’re anything like my family and I when I was getting my licence, we had no idea where to start.

Personally, I have brittle bones which means my bones break very easily, this comes with all sorts of obstacles to do with getting a licence. Firstly there’s the fact that if I have an accident I’m almost guaranteed to be hurt, and secondly, I’m very short so there was a problem getting me to see over the steering wheel.

I had to get a medical form from the RTA, which had to be completed by my Doctor, who had to state that I was fit to drive. I had to see an occupational therapist to be assessed, (which included reflex tests, hand and eye co-ordination tests and memory tests), once I got the all clear, I sat for my L’s and got them.

I was then required to have about 10 one hour lessons with a driving instructor, as part of my 50 hours of practice driving, that every L-plate driver completes. The car had modifications fitted, (because I was getting ‘disabled’ lessons, these lessons cost around $10 - $15 more than a ‘normal’ lesson, even though the exact same car was used for both lessons). My first driving lesson was with Funway which is located in the Hawkesbury area in NSW, I was required to drive around a driving course that simulated a real road, situated in a large car park. They said I was a natural and so I began my driving on real roads.

I wanted to mainly practise in my own car so that I could get used to everything, luckily my dad was able to help me with my first car purchase.

It could only be automatic and had to be modified, all up, it came to around $2000 just for the modifications. It is very expensive and can vary in prices depending on each person’s needs. Unfortunately, there is no funding available from the government whatsoever.

For mine, I had hand controls, a wheelchair hoist to put my chair on the roof, a foot rest, a booster seat and a smaller steering wheel with a forklift-like turning knob to make it easier to steer. I recently upgraded my car from a 16 year old Toyota Corolla, to a 3 year old Toyota Yaris, which I am very happy with. With this, came a whole new set of modification obstacles.

Most of the devices I had in my old car, were able to be transferred to the new car, I also had to get some extras as it was a newer type of car.

Wheelchair Hoist- To put the old hoist on, a set of roof racks which cost about $400, had to be added to secure the hoist to the roof, because of this, it makes my chair sit quite high and it hits some car park roofs (therefore, I would not recommend a Yaris if a hoist is required as they are very high cars). We weren’t aware of the hoist issue at the time of my new car purchase, so the best thing to do is, when contacting the conversions company, ask them what the most common car is that they convert, that way, you’ll have an idea whether or not a hoist can go directly onto the roof or if racks will be required.

I then had a switch installed to operate my hoist which cost about $300, so I could operate it without plugging any cords in. I highly recommend this, as I had no switch in my old car, which involved me opening the door, plugging in the switch, then holding my finger on the ‘down’ button until my chair was lowered to the ground, (this is not fun in the pouring rain). Now, with the new switch, I can lower my chair as far as I can with the door shut, then open the door to position my chair before it reaches the ground, I don’t have to plug anything in as the switch is permanently attached to the plug that runs from the cars battery.

I have also had other problems with the plug, once when I was driving over the Iron Cove Bridge in Gladesville NSW (which is a very large bridge in Sydney), I left the plug in as I did sometimes whilst driving, as I went over a bump, the switch clicked to the ‘down’ position and commenced the lowering of my chair onto the road at the very top of the bridge where I and many other cars, were doing a speed of 80km/hour, I had people honking their horns at me and flashing their lights before I realized that my chair was hanging down next to my window and was about to hit the road, I pulled over in the left lane of the bridge, stopping all traffic, I had to raise my chair back onto my roof. I think it’s quite funny now, as did my mum, using it as a story to tell at my 21st which got many laughs.

Another problem I had with the plug, was that it had to be plugged into the car’s cigarette lighter, this occasionally overloaded the connections and shorted out the fuse, this left me with my chair being stuck on the roof. Once, I had to plug my cord into a stranger’s cigarette lighter just to get my chair down whilst out shopping on my own.

Another time, my mum, her friend and I had a bright idea to just ‘cut’ the strap that lifts the chair up and secures it to the roof. This is definitely NOT recommended, as the hoist acts as a giant spring. Once we cut the strap, my chair got flung across the driveway like a catapult, luckily, my mum had just moved away from the car or this could’ve resulted in serious injury as it opened the hoist with extreme force.

Airbags- I also did some research on airbags before purchasing my new car, they reportedly come out at a speed of 300km/hour, this alone would be enough impact to crush me so, I asked for the air bag to be removed. I found out, in case I ever want to re-sell the car, the airbag cannot be removed by law, but an airbag disabler can be installed. This cost around $1000 to install.

To get permission for the airbag to be disabled was another drama in itself, I had to get a letter from my specialist saying that an airbag deploying onto me would be dangerous and it should be removed, that letter had to be sent to the RTA for them to approve the airbag disabler to be installed, this took around 3 weeks to wait for a response.

We used my old foot rest, but it couldn’t be secured the same as in the old car so a new bracket had to be made, this can be removed for able bodied people to drive my car.

My old seat was used, this is just a toddler child seat with the seatbelts removed, it gets secured to my seat with a strap, then to make it blend in with the car, I put a car seat cover over the top of it, I find this holds it in place better too, this can also be removed if someone else needs to drive my car.

Hand Controls- The hand controls had to be repurchased as new, these are attached to the brake and accelerator, the handle is pulled back to accelerate and pushed forward to break. There are also some indicator switches attached to the handle so I can indicate without taking my hand off my accelerator. The car can be driven by an able bodied person without removing these as the hand control does not change the operation of the pedals.

The same steering wheel knob was attached easily and my dad attached a strap to my boot so that I could pull it closed myself, without reaching up, this made it a lot easier.

If you have any questions about prices or anything, please ask me as I have varied personal knowledge of modifying a car. Almost any car can be converted, though pricey, they can do amazing things to give mobility to disabled people.

The company I went to is Problem Management Engineering, they are situated at Hornsby Heights, their number is (02) 9482 2808‎, they are the only Sydney based company that I am aware of, although I have heard that Para-Quad have similar products and services.

As the cost of converting a car is so high, if money is an issue, I only recommend buying a car that you plan to keep for many years. I had my first car for 8 years and will be planning on having my new one for many more years.

I really think there needs to be some government assistance for the cost of converting cars, it’s all part of giving someone their independence. Without my car, I don’t know if I would’ve been able to work throughout the years. It has also been a big part of my social life as a teenager, enabling me to drive myself to parties and go out, being as normal as possible.

To view pictures of my car's modifications, go to www.facebook.com/disabledaccomplishments or www.myspace.com/disabledaccomplishments

20 August 2009

No Policing For Disabled Parking

I was at Henry St Medical Centre in Penrith earlier this week, trying to find a parking space. There are only three disabled spaces available directly outside of this particular medical centre, all of which were taken.

Unfortunately, one of the spaces was occupied by an employee in a Barrett & Smith blood courier car. I thought to myself, maybe they had a disabled pass and I continued to find parking up the other end of the car park.

When I got out of my car and wheeled myself to the entrance of the medical centre, I saw that not only was there no disabled pass on the window, but the driver was returning to his car and appeared to have no disability. I said to him ‘you can’t park here’ and he said ‘I’m allowed to park here when I pick up blood, I only stop for 5 minutes’. I told him that it doesn’t matter, there are plenty of other spaces and that no one should be able to park there unless they need to, I advised him that I had to park all the way up the other end of the car park because he took the last disabled spot, with this, he shut his door and drove off.

I went inside and spoke to the staff behind the front desk, she said that the blood courier does park there when picking up blood and she wasn’t sure if he’s been given permission to do so.

I don’t think it should be excusable for anyone to park in disabled spaces if they do not need to, if they are only stopping for 5 minutes, they should double park if absolutely necessary. This highlights the problems that can arise from parking illegally in disabled spaces, even for just a short time, it can majorly inconvenience someone who really needs it.

This infuriated me so much, that I sent emails to the Laboratory Director of Barrett & Smith in Penrith, the CEO of Barrett & Smith, and the Practice Manager of Henry Street Medical Centre, letting them know what happened to me and that it wasn’t on.

The Laboratory Director emailed me back saying the following: ‘Barratt and Smith Pathology does not condone the use of disabled parking spaces by our staff in any circumstances unless they have a valid disabled permit’. She also said ‘I have passed your email on to the Laboratory Manager and the Courier Supervisor. The courier involved will be spoken to regarding the misuse of disabled spaces and the lack of courtesy extended to you at the time. We will also reinforce with all our couriers that the use of disabled spaces is not permitted’. I am yet to hear back from anyone else.

I contacted Jeff from Penrith City Council, asking what the outcome would have been if a parking inspector had of come across this particular incident, and he said that as it is a privately owned car park, there is nothing they could have done.

Raine & Horne Penrith runs this car park, called Henry Lawson Centre Car Park, I spoke to Greg Knott, who manages it, and I asked him how they enforce the rule so people don’t illegally park in disabled car spaces in this car park. Greg said ‘there is no procedure, and it is up to the individual to know that what they’re doing is wrong’. I think this is a joke and something needs to be changed.

I urge anyone who has a disability or is in a wheelchair, or knows of anyone who has a disability or uses a wheelchair, report people if you see them using disabled parking spaces without the legal permit.

There is an RTA number that you can call – 1300 884 899 – this number is the cost of a local call and to pursue a complaint, they need to know the cars Registration Number, the make and model, the colour of the car, the name of the street or shopping centre the car was seen at, and of course, your own name.

You can also get free flyers from your local council or the RTA that can be put on peoples cars who take advantage of the spaces, they say ‘being lazy is not a disability’ and ‘running late is not a disability’. I think they’re a great idea; they just need to be used by more people.

I once read on a website that a disabled man suggested writing in lipstick on the rear windows of cars that were illegally parked; ‘I park in handicapped spaces’. This is a great idea as the lipstick needs to be washed off for it to be removed. It could anger people though, so only do it at your own risk.

Family Of Autistic Boy Forced To Leave Australia Due To Lack Of Funding

This story is about a family with an Autistic son, Jonah; they have been forced to move to the UK to get the necessary assistance with education for their youngest child, which clearly isn’t on offer in Australia.

Jonah’s father, Kevin, has said that in the last three years, with lost wages and therapy bills, it’s cost them around $90,000 to care for his son’s development.

Last year, the Australian Federal Government passed a long awaited funding program for Autistic children under the age of six, who don’t attend full-time school.

This package means, families with Autistic children, will receive $6000 annually, for two years; this will help them pay for therapy to help their child develop as best as possible. Unfortunately, for Jonah, he is already six so he is over the maximum age.

They then decided to look at each child on a case by case basis, giving the family hope that Jonah could be given financial assistance, but then another setback, Jonah attends full-time school, that means he doesn’t fit the systems criteria.

Nicole Rogerson, the director of Lizard Children’s Centre, a private clinic for Autistic children, also has a son with Autism, and says that $6000 a year, would only cover the costs of two or three hours of therapy a week. She says that to benefit an Autistic child’s development, they need a minimum of twenty hours a week in early intervention.

Kevin says that he ultimately made the decision to pack up his life, and the lives of his wife and their three children, to get the best help for Jonah in the UK.

The Australian Education Department knows of children with Autism, but they don’t actually come and meet with them, or try to work out the best needs for the child. In the UK, within the first three months of moving there, someone will come and meet with Jonah and his parents and assess Jonah, devising an individual program that will best suit his needs to help him to maximize his opportunities.

This story was aired last night on the 7:30 Report on the ABC Network, to watch the video, click on this link - http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/08/20/2661233.htm?section=australia

It’s a sad fact if people with Autistic children feel they have to leave their child’s birthplace just to get a proper start on their development.

Clearly, something needs to change in Australia to benefit families of Autistic children. It’s estimated, Autism affects over half a million Australian households, with those numbers, surely more can be done.

With today being the first of three days, of the Asia Pacific Autism Conference, which will be held at the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre, hopefully issues like this one, will be raised to help make a brighter tomorrow for Autism sufferers and their families.

19 August 2009

A Brave Little Angel

This story is about a little boy called Mattie Stepanek, who isn’t in the current news headlines, but has stuck in my heart and mind ever since I saw him on The Oprah Whinfrey Show in 2001.

Mattie was born with a rare form of muscular dystrophy and he appeared on the show when he was very sick in hospital. When Oprah asked him what he wanted for Christmas that year, he said “If it's not too much trouble, pray for me." I remember this episode vividly and though I am not overly religious, and don’t usually pray, I prayed for little Mattie, as did people all over the world.

His mother also suffers from an adult form of the disorder and she had lost three children to it previously.

He fortunately recovered and during this time, he and Oprah grew very close. He appeared on her show again, with his messages of hope for peace in the world.

These messages came in the form of what Mattie called ‘Heartsongs’ which in his own words was, “the song in my heart. It was the message in my heart. A heartsong doesn't have to be a song in your heart even talking about love and peace. It can just be your message. It can be your feelings."

With this as his life’s philosophy, he went on to write 5 volumes of bestselling books that contained his poems about ‘Heartsongs’. These bestselling books sold millions of copies.

In 2004, he became very ill again and ended up in hospital. Sadly, this time, Mattie died just before what would have been his 14th birthday.

This video is what Oprah presented the day she announced that he had died. I remember watching it and crying my eyes out. It was so sad to see what he’d lived with at such a young age, but also, so encouraging to see what a brave old soul he had.

He was truly an inspiration and I definitely urge you to watch Oprah’s tribute, it’s so moving, especially if you knew of Mattie and his ‘Heartsongs’.

Oprah’s tribute video - http://www.oprah.com/media/20081025_tows_mattie

Little Josh’s Battle Will Continue On

This blog talks about the little boy called Josh Koman; when he was only three years old, in February this year, he fell into his family’s backyard swimming pool and almost drowned.

He was unconscious while his dad, John, tried to revive him but he wasn’t breathing for almost 40 minutes. He was taken to hospital where he remained for weeks.

As a result, according to the media, he is now brain damaged and paralyzed. Although his mother, Wendy, says on her blog that he has moved his head, fingers and toes slightly.

To help the family out, a friend contacted 2Day FM, to tell them about the family’s ordeal and Josh’s heart wrenching story. The radio station then started a fundraiser, from this; they received offers of over $150,000 to be donated to help with Josh’s care and recovery. That was back in March and until yesterday, they had only seen just over a third of that money.

When the family went in to collect what they thought would be a cheque for $150,000, instead, they were only given a list of names and numbers of the people who donated money, they were expected to call all of those people and chase up the money themselves. 2Day FM said that they raised money and got attention to the issue and their part was over.

Kyle Sandilands said he would give the family $35,000 out of his own pocket but had only given $20,000 of it. He has said in reports yesterday that he tried to personally deliver the money three times but with all of Josh’s medical appointments, everyone was never available at the same time. Sandilands gave $20,000 to the family but then says he didn’t know where to distribute the rest of the money to best help josh, as his parents recently separated.

Since the controversial reports on the Today show, Sandilands has donated the rest of the money promised. 2Day FM has also said they have contacted the contributors with the family’s bank details so they don’t have to make those demeaning phone calls themselves.

A wonderful man by the name of Michael James of Strategic Airlines in Brisbane has said today that he would donate the rest of the money, that’s $85,000 so that the family receives the full $150,000 that was originally promised to them. Mr James has a child with a mild form of Down Syndrome, so he understands what it’s like to have a child with a disability and can relate to the trials and tribulations that come along with it. To look at the stories from all points of view, click on the links I have attached.

For Kyle Sandilands version, click on http://news.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=851080

For the Today show’s version, click on - http://news.ninemsn.com.au/entertainment/850662/sandilands-short-changed-disabled-boy -

For Mr James’ version, click on - http://news.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=851212

I think this is the case of yet another publicity stunt by 2Day FM that has backfired. It was nice enough of them to do the fundraiser but to tell the mother to be ‘more emotional’ (as shown in the Today show interview), is ridiculous, hasn’t the family been through enough? Then they were told to call the people who donated and ask for their money, how humiliating! That money could’ve really helped them at the time. At a time when this was all just new to them and they would’ve had to dramatically change their lifestyles to care for their son. They had to take care of themselves, their other children and now a severely disabled child. That would’ve been a time when $150,000 would have been a huge help but instead the promise was not fulfilled.

It’s awful when the media uses unfortunate incidents’ to boost ratings.

As for Kyle, it was nice of him to want to donate the money personally, but wasn’t the whole idea to help the family, if he really wanted to, he could’ve just deposited the money directly into their bank account. To me, it sounds as if he wanted his own publicity by being the big savior and to possibly have photos printed of him handing over the money.

To Mr James, I commend him for his generosity; it takes a strong person to live with someone who has a disability. It also takes a lot of resources and for someone like Mr James, who can afford to help, to hand over that kind of money, shows that there are people out there who don’t want to do things just to get something back, but just to help out a fellow Aussie battler who needs some assistance.

If you would like to make a donation to the Koman family, go to their website which has account details at http://joshuakoman.blogspot.com/

13 August 2009

Can NOVA Help You?

NOVA Employment doesn't only help people with serious physical and intellectual disabilities, but they also do great work with sufferers of mental illness such as, but not limited to; bi-polar and depression.

This is a video testimonial of one of NOVA’s clients – Christine, who suffers from bi-polar disorder.
Christine and her new employer, Eva, talk about her new job as a merchandiser with Nature’s Plant Logistics near Windsor.

She started off working one day a week and now works three days a week in a job that she loves. With the help of her Employment Consultant, Darren, she has been supported through her role and now has the confidence to work independently.

She talks about how other employers in the past, had found it hard to understand mental illness and it had made her uncertain about working with new employers. But with the assistance of Darren, the staff at Nature’s Plant Logistics understand her needs and can accommodate her accordingly.

Take a look at this video by clicking this link - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=735yOFYcCzE -, it shows just one of NOVA’s many happy clients, who have been matched to a job that suits them perfectly, one they may have not been able to get into on their own.

Can You Heal Your Own Disability Or Illness?

This is a video that I found on the ABC Television website from an episode of Catalyst. It’s about stem cells and how Japanese scientists have discovered that stem cells can be taken from an adult and ‘reprogrammed’ and turned into any cell, mimicking an embryonic stem cell, that could be useful in treating diseases and biological disorders.

They say that just like donated organs, embryonic stem cells don’t always ‘take’. With this new revelation, the cells are taken from the persons own body tissues and organs, and turned into whatever cell is needed, so, it is basically always a perfect match which will reduce cells being rejected by the person’s body.

They say that this practice, which was discovered in 2007, has only been tested on laboratory animals and they don’t know yet if it could have cancer causing outcomes and other catastrophes.

Although, this is years from being used as a normal treatment, it will hopefully extinguish the argument that using stem cells to treat illness and disease is inhumane.

I hope one day we can live in a world where our cells can be remade, to help cure what we have come to know as incurable diseases and illnesses.

Click on this link- http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/stories/2608076.htm - to watch the story, it’s very interesting.

What are your thoughts?

12 August 2009

Lost Dog Saves Down Syndrome Boy

This story was found at http://news.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=848733 – It tells the story of a lost dog, who saved 21 year old Christian Segovia’s life, he has Downs Syndrome and was having a seizure. Christian’s neurologist said that if it hadn’t been for the dog, he would’ve died from choking on his own blood.

The lost honey-coloured terrier they named RaeLea, who was found by a neighbour and given to the Segovia family, who live in Port Tampa in Florida, until they could find the owner. After printing off thousands of flyers and posting them up around the area, stating that RaeLea had been found, nobody called to collect him.

Four days later, Christian’s mother Yolanda, was outside watering plants when RaeLea came running to the door barking and yelping, Yolanda rushed inside and followed the dog, who went running into Christian’s bedroom, she found him on the floor in the middle of a fit, bleeding from his nose and mouth. She then nurtured her son, once realizing what had just happened, she decided to keep RaeLea.

The very next day, the owner of RaeLea (who’s real name was Odie) called. He arrived to collect his dog, Odie ran to the man as soon as they saw each other. After hearing what had happened, and seeing that Christian and his brother were sad to see Odie leave, the man said that Odie was probably meant to find Christian and they could keep him.

This is such a beautiful story. I have always believed that animals have a special sense when it comes to people with disabilities. I know I always pay attention to my dogs; I have brittle bones (which means my bones break very easily), one day I was standing on my wheelchair hanging out the washing, (which is not the smartest thing to do), when my little Mini Foxy X – Abbey, came running up to me, jumping and pawing at my chair, I think she was trying to tell me to get down, so I did. Dogs have always been very gentle around me too, I am still wary around big ones but even with friends and family’s dogs, they never seem to jump up on me, it’s as if they know that they’ll hurt me.

To view the original story, click on the link above.

11 August 2009

Living With Autism

An interesting video that explains what it's like to live with someone with Autism. Click on the heading Living With Autism to view.

Autism Therapy

Click on the 'Autism Therapy' heading to see some of the excellent work that's done to help teach children with Autism.

Blind Chef

This article was found on the SMH website. It is a very inspirational story of an apprentice chef, Tony Carter, who has 4 per cent vision in his right eye, no vision in his left and no peripheral vision. He cannot see up, down or sideways but he can make out blurred figures and bright colours. Despite this, he has just joined Atlas Café Restaurant, a busy eatery in Newcastle.

He says "As a kid, I was always in the kitchen; I spent every night, weekend and school holiday helping my mum with the cooking and learning my grandma's secrets for perfect home-made apple pies."

Hired by the head chef and owner, of Atlas, Bartholomew Connors, worried at first says "When Tony applied for the job, I spoke to him over the phone and he said to me, 'There's one problem. I can't see,’ of course I was taken aback but everyone deserves a fair go.”

His method of cooking is very different from conventional chefs, Tony cooks meals, using taste, smell and touch. He memorizes his way around the kitchen and most of his ingredients are kept in brightly coloured containers for him to identify them more easily.

He says he’s had some close calls in the kitchen, though his worst disaster that he can remember to date is overcooking a steak; sounds as though he does his job just as well as anyone else could.

Even after being told he shouldn’t venture into this career by his TAFE teacher, he didn’t let his vision impairment get in the way of his lifelong dream of becoming a chef. He had been knocked back from a lot of restaurants and cafés but he committed himself, until Atlas gave him a chance, which paid off.

I think the owner of Atlas, Bartholomew Connors, deserves a pat on the back for not letting stereotypical views get in his way of hiring a reliable, dedicated chef. More people need to be aware of these types of success stories to show what people with disabilities are capable of overcoming with a little patience and trust.

Click on 'Blind Chef' to view the article in it's entirety.

06 August 2009

Victory: Jo-Blogs 1, Parking Inspector 0

Just an update on my parking fine that I received from the airport a week ago. I sent them an email saying that they were in the wrong and I am not going to pay the fine.

Some of what I sent included:
“I couldn't have been parked for more than 10 minutes and as a holder of a disabled parking permit, I am allowed to park in a parking space that is 30 minutes or less for a maximum of 30 minutes so I have not broken any rules and I was certainly not asked to move along.”

“I work for Nova Employment which is a disability employment agency, I write a blog about how difficult it is to be a disabled person in society, I have written about this incident as I feel I was discriminated against, the security guard could've clearly seen my wheelchair on my roof.”

“There is no way I am paying this fine and I would like some acknowledgement of this letter and a response advising that the fine will be waived.”

I got a letter back yesterday stating:

“We refer to your recent correspondence regarding the above infringement notice.

We have reviewed your enquiry and advise that on this occasion we have cancelled the infringement notice.”

Short, but straight to the point. Yay! I win! They’ll think twice before fining someone with a wheelchair on their roof again!

05 August 2009

Landmine Victims Compete For A New Leg

I found this story at http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/ and http://www.thenational.ae/ – it’s a story about a Miss Landmine Cambodia contest that was to be held in Phnom Penh in Cambodia as an exhibition showing photos of 20 contestants who are victims of landmine attacks.

Voting was to be held over the internet with the winner receiving a custom made prosthetic leg in December. The Cambodian Government wants to cancel the event saying it’s exploiting these unfortunate victims.

The organizer; Morten Traavik says he wanted to use the contest to raise awareness about landmine victims in third world countries. The same contest was held in Angola last year but it wasn’t without protest groups rallying together claiming it was discriminatory and racist.

They say that hundreds of people a year are killed, or seriously hurt by unexploded landmines that have been left behind, all over the countryside of Cambodia as a painful reminder of the Civil War.

One of the contestants; Song Kosal, who lost her leg in a landmine blast when she was five years old said she has joined the competition not just to win a new prosthetic leg but because she is trying to get landmines banned around the world. She has even been to the White House to present a petition.

I think it’s a great idea to raise awareness about landmine victims but I don’t think they should have to compete to win a new leg, this would be heartbreaking to those who lost; they’ve already been through enough. There are other ways to get international recognition.

To view the whole story, click on the heading “Landmine Victims Compete For A New Leg”
and it will take you straight to the article or click on one of the above links.

New Blog

Hey folks, I've just created the exact same site on MySpace and Facebook so if you would like to keep track of me on there instead go to www.myspace.com/disabledaccomplishments or www.facebook.com/disabledaccomplishments - Talk to you soon...

04 August 2009

Disabled: Too Poor To Rent Accessible Properties

This article was also found on the www.SMH.com.au website. It talks about how people with disabilities live in lower income areas, they believe this is not an option but more likely they are forced to do so because they usually earn less and have higher living expenses due to disability.

The highest rate someone in Australia on the Disability Support Pension can receive is $569.80 per fortnight. I personally have lived on my own trying to survive on only this and it is almost impossible to pay for rent, car costs, food, bills ect. There would literally be nothing left over to have any luxuries that most people take for granted, like going out for dinner, having pay television or going to the movies.

Luckily for me, I have lived in a friends’ granny flat for the past year where the rent is very low but am looking in the future at moving into a unit that is bigger, after looking around, there is practically nothing for someone in my situation to rent unless I had a higher income. For example, looking in St Marys in Western Sydney, if I could live anywhere, so not being restricted by stairs and tight spaces ect, then I could rent a 2 bedroom unit for $200 a week. Looking for something that would even come close to being wheelchair accessible, I would be looking at an extra $100 dollars a week, so that’s $300 a week and it’s a 3 bedroom villa which would be too big anyway. I don’t even get the option to have a 1 or 2 bedroom place as most villa’s and places with no stairs have 3 bedrooms, or are even more expensive than $300 a week.

I have always thought that there should be a real estate agency that finds property’s just for people with special needs. In the past when I have tried to find somewhere to live, I have to call over 15 real estate agents before I can find a property that doesn’t have stairs. If my disability real estate agency idea isn’t possible, there should be some kind of government supplement other than the Disability Support Pension that assists disabled people with having to live in higher cost rental properties.

To view the entire article, click on the “Disabled: Too Poor To Rent Accessible Properties” heading and it will take you to the link.

Aussie Airlines Upset Disabled Passengers

I found this article on the www.SMH.com.au website, it says that a survey was carried out last year on 110 people with disabilities and only 14 said they had a pleasant experience whilst travelling on an aircraft. With one person even saying that an announcement was made that there was a flight delay because of a wheelchair passenger. Another said they were left on the tarmac without assistance. Also reports of broken wheelchairs at the other end of the flight.

I have flown on my own many times and not all my experiences have been pleasant either. In all cases, I've had to get into an airport wheelchair which can only be pushed by someone else (this is extremely annoying to me as I don't like being pushed by anyone). Sometimes I've had to get into it about 10-15 minutes before boarding time and I've been pushed through boarding gate to the start of the tunnel and left there for up to 15 minutes unable to move while I've had to wait and watch everyone else board their flight. When a flight lands I always have to wait about another 10 minutes until everyone has disembarked until I am allowed to get off.

When I was about 18, I went to Bangkok with my dad, the Thai Royal Family was landing so our flight was landed in a different part of the airport that wasn't connected via tunnels so we had to walk down steep steps, along the tarmac and to the airport (luckily my dad was with me and he had to carry me, which can be quite embarrassing for a teenager). Once inside the airport, no-one spoke enough English to understand that I needed my wheelchair so it took about 40 minutes of going back and forward around the airport when it was finally returned to me. My dad even tried to get one of the airports wheelchairs for me but one of the airport staff said he couldn't have it and took it away from him.

Airport's definitely need to step up their game and adopt a new attitude to flying people with disabilities around. I bet they wouldn't like being shoved into a corner where they can't move and being forced to wait while they watch everyone walk in to take their happy flight. It's not enough that we can't walk but then that is highlighted by being made to watch everyone else while we can't move an inch by ourselves in the airport wheelchairs.

To check out the full article, click on the "Aussie Airlines Upset Disabled Passengers" heading and it will take you straight there.