Blindness, The ADA & Unrealized Civil Rights

In 1989 when the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was being formulated, many people were involved. The main architect of the law’s drafting was Senator Tom Harken of Iowa, one of the Senate’s great lions of disability rights. Senator Harken’s brother was deaf, and he had a great sensitivity to those concerns. Mary Jane Owen,…

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My Brother Mark and Me

I was five years old when my little brother was born. He was early and immediately the doctor knew there were problems. My mother was told in the language of the 1950’s that while he did not look like a mongoloid, he had the reflexes of an infant with severe mental retardation. The doctor said…

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My Life With The Theater

Junior High offered exposure to the organized arts including theatre and musical groups. In seventh grade, I had my first experience with Student Theater. The whole school attended performances of plays produced by actors from the eighth and ninth grades. I loved the plays and admired the older students on stage. They memorized their lines…

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An Open Letter to Helen Keller

Dear Helen, My life with you has had four major epochs. I write this letter today as the second open letter I have composed to you. The first was when I was 40 in 1989. I read it during my induction into the National Hall of Fame for People with Disabilities. When I was told…

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Now I Get It!

Accessibility is complicated. For those who use wheelchairs for mobility, all required specifications for access are detailed in the ADAAG, Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines. For those of us with sensory disabilities, a few simple rules apply. First, everything that is spoken should be presented in American Sign Language by a qualified interpreter. Second,…

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On Employment

A Face for Television When I graduated from high school, I decided not to go to college right away since, after I broke up with Kathy, I had no reason to go to Ohio State, where I had been accepted. Its bast in personal campus intimidated me. Since I wouldn’t be going to college, my…

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Human Communication

Language is a civil right but communication is a personal responsibility. On December 31st, 1979, my father called me at 11:15 PM in California, 2:15 AM Dad’s time in Cleveland. Dad had lost his lower jaw and most of his Larynx to cancer and over-radiation. His voice was a forced thin whisper. He spoke slowly…

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On Athletics

When I was a boy, my father was a powerfully built man who could still do gymnastic feats of remarkable strength, balance, and agility. I was going blind although my parents had been told I was pretending. Hence, my dad insisted I play Cub Scout baseball, which he coached. In those formative years, I only…

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On Mentors

We all need someone to show us the next step in complex life chapters. We may have heroes, people who have accomplished something we admire, but that seems so far out of our reach that all we can do is look from afar and appreciate their standing. Exemplars are those who embody perfection for a…

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On the Americans with Disabilities Act

The Americans With Disabilities Act celebrated its 30th anniversary last year and it was a huge deal. I was honored to have my song, “The ADA Anthem” used as intro and extro music for Lights, Camera, Access! production on the celebration. Here is a memory from 1990. On July 25, 1990, I returned from vacation…

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Facial Disfigurement

The Americans with Disabilities Act contains a three prong definition of disability. It is: 1. having a limitation to a major life activity, 2. having a history of such a limitation and, 3. being perceived as having such a limitation. The first is obvious, activities like seeing, walking, breathing, or thinking. The second means that,…

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On the Idea of Memorial Day

Once a year we stop and our national attention is drawn to the remembrance of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice during military service. But the reason for having a day of remembrance should carry all year long. Therefore, this blog is still timely; it’s reminding us to think deeply about those who protect our…

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On Mental Health and Men

Mental health is part of all of our natures, and each of us is responsible for the maintenance of our emotional, psychological, spiritual, and interpersonal health.This includes our boundaries with everyone else, and expression of our feelings towards others.. We live in a time when going to counseling has become a norm, one which few…

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On the Meaning of Disability 

It has been said that talk is cheap. Well, perhaps a better way to express that is our casual talk can cheapen the matter about which we speak. For example, I have often heard something like this said,  “Everybody has a disability. I’m terrible at math, that’s my disability.” But wait just a minute, everybody…

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On Schools

May is traditionally the time of year when teachers are appreciated and graduates are cheered on as they move out of the cocoon of secondary education. This may also be the right time to consider what the high school experience has taught students about each other and what success is for the individual. Beginning in…

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On Mothering

Mother’s Day is an important day to acknowledge our mothers. Everyone has one, and if we’re fortunate, we have a good relationship with our mothers, or good memories, or both. But many of us have had a difficult relationship with our mothers, which can make us bitter or unfeeling about the idea of mother. I…

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On Columbine

The following is a commentary that I wrote concerning the Columbine school shooting, April 20, 1999. It was written for NPR’s “Morning Edition,” although it was never aired.  I wrote this in 2003. Since then, gun violence has exploded as grizzly mass shootings proliferate and the grim parade of school shootings continues; Sandy Hook Elementary…

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