Thursday, February 19, 2015

Disability economics - Diane Mettam

Have you had this happen?  Your wheelchair needs repairs, and the cost is almost a quarter of what the chair cost?  Or your wheelchair van needs service, and the cost is in the thousands of dollars?  Where do you go for help?  Is there help? 

Last week my husband and I drove to our nearest mobility vehicle dealer and service center, six hours away.  They are very reputable, and very hospitable.  But we learned my van needs a new ramp motor and a new controller, for a total of $1,800.  Thats on top of the $750 for a new CD player, which was necessary to keep the GPS system up-to-date.  Unfortunately, the vehicles CD player is interconnected with the GPS and DVD, and you just cant go to Best Buy or another place and pop in another unit.  The entire center dash unit had to be pulled out and sent away for repair. 

We were fortunate that we had been squirreling away some money for a rainy day.  We just didnt figure the rains would come so soon.  And what if another storm comes?  My chair, like my van, is out of warranty, and seems to consume batteries.  The local medical supply store leaves a lot to be desired.  The Sears store sells batteries with a 90-day warranty, and thats how long they lasted.  The batteries I ordered online have a six-month warranty, and its getting close.  A friend thinks maybe I need a new controller.  Heaven forbid!

Im wondering how many of us have had similar occurrences.  Have you had good luck with particular suppliers, or bad luck?  Are there funding sources out there that we should know about?  Perhaps we could set up an information hub to share resources.   As I remarked on a Facebook post, It aint cheap being disabled.  But perhaps there are ways we can save a little money, and heartbreak. 

Im happy to set up a page on my blog site for money-saving ideas and resources.  If you have some to share, please let me know, and we can share them with our brothers and sisters.  The e-mail address is

for gaining wisdom and instruction;
    for understanding words of insight;
for receiving instruction in prudent behavior,
    doing what is right and just and fair. . .
let the wise listen and add to their learning,
    and let the discerning get guidance  Proverbs 1:2,3,5

Dear Father God, We know that like the lilies of the field, and the birds of the air, we should not worry about our daily needs.  Yet, being human, we cannot keep from worrying.  Help us remember that one way you provide for us is by giving us resources we can share with each other.  Thank you for this network of friends that lifts one another up in friendship and prayer.  Amen.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

On not knowing better -- Diane Mettam

Every child is an artist.  The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.  Pablo Picasso 

Although the attribution of this quote to Picasso is in doubt, the truth is not.  I was talking with a friend about Shubham Banerjee, a 13-year-old boy who invented a Braille printer using his Lego Mindstorm system.  He made it, he said, because he read that Braille printers cost around $2,000 and he thought it would be nice if blind people could have a more affordable way to write notes and shopping lists.  His Lego version cost about $350.  The people at Intel were so impressed they are funding development of a commercially available product.*

My friend remarked he did it because no one told him he couldnt.  And that gets back to the Picasso remark.  When is it that we cease being artists?  There is a Talmudic commentary on a poem by Isabella McCullough that reads:

Every child is a poet.
Every child is an artist.
Every child is a philosopher.
Every child is a theologian.
Every child is an actor.
Every child is a dancer.
Every child is a nature-lover.
Every child is an explorer.
Every child is a comedian.
Every child is a skeptic.
Every child is a teacher.
Every child is a boundary pusher.
Every child is a truth speaker

Again, when do we cease being poets or dancers or boundary pushers or truth speakers?  Sometimes we can remember.  Someone told us we didnt do that activity very well.  Someone told us it wasnt appropriate.  Someone told us boys (or girls) didnt do that.  Or they laughed at us, or ignored us. 

Even now, we might hold back from doing something because we are afraid to do so.  We are afraid to us our God-given abilities.  We might be called to preach or teach, to praise God with music or writing.  For years I was afraid to sing in public because my parents told me I had an ugly voice.  They lied.  I loved to sing, and when people told me I had a good voice, it was a joy to share it in church. 

Trust your heart.  Spread your wings.  Be the poet, artist, dancer, teacher, singer, truth speaker you were meant to be.  God will be there guiding and supporting your every effort.

We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.  Romans 12:6-8

Dear Creator God:  We thank you that you have made us so wonderfully.  Help us be like children, confident in the gifts with which you have blessed us, and reflect your grace and glory to the world.  In Jesusname we pray.  Amen.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Roadblocks and changing hearts? - Tim Vermande

This entry was written for a political science class at my school, as a guest writer. I have left it largely intact.

Y’all recently read a blog post about customs in conflict in Saudi Arabia (women wearing head coverings). I’d like to ask you to think about another area of conflict today, one that is closer to home. The Americans with Disabilities Act is twenty-five years old this year. It provides legal protection for a variety of civil rights related to people with disabilities. 

The Census Bureau states that 1 in 5 people live with a disability. This number may be low—many people do not want to consider themselves “disabled.” Sometimes this is because a chronic illness, such as asthma, does not interfere with life most of the time, or can be controlled through medication. Similarly, conditions such as poor eyesight, readily corrected with glasses or contacts, don’t cross our radar as disabilities. And some people just don’t want to be labeled that way because of perceived social stigma.

The ADA has meant a lot to me. I was a difficult birth and then apparently contracted polio. When I was older, I was in accident that injured my back. Yet I have been a photographer (including for several fire departments), photo lab manager, and have attended college and graduate school. Now I teach at our famous Art Institute of Indianapolis and as an on-line teaching assistant at United Theological Seminary. These days, people who do such things get media coverage that goes viral on Facebook or YouTube. But many of us were doing these things long before they became fashionable. 

Some of these activities have been a struggle. I ended up attending a local college, even though several top-ranked colleges sought me out—but that was before the ADA, and the invitations disappeared when I asked about stairs and the like. Even after the ADA was passed, schools dragged their feet on physical accessibility. One listed the ability to carry 50 pounds up a flight of stairs as an essential part of being a professor (and thus not subject to accommodations). Another wouldn’t take me on to teach history because the position also required coaching football (even though that wasn’t stated in the announcement). 

And it continues. As I’ve often remarked in my classes, laws just show the points of need—they don’t change hearts. And, something I’ve mentioned in my classes: there are often unintended consequences. I have an example of each that we’d like to ask you to comment on. 

The first is with businesses that continue to be slow about accommodations—or don’t have their heart in it. You may have heard of “serial” lawsuits, where a lawyer and person with a disability file several lawsuits in a particular geographical area. While these are presented as overblown or picky, how would you feel if you went to board an airplane and were either denied boarding (after paying for a non-refundable ticket), forced into a seat assignment that you can’t physically get to, or find that your wheelchair was damaged by handlers, and the airline refuses to pay for the repairs? Or, rather than being seated in a convenient front area of a restaurant, you’re herded through a maze-like trail to a seat next to the take-out door and kitchen? Or you need to use the restroom and can’t get through the door? Just to finish the sequence, then your shuttle comes—and you have to crawl in because it doesn’t have a lift. All of these have happened to me. And it’s been 25 years—will a police officer let you out of a ticket because the speed limit changed 25 years ago? 

An emerging problem is with service animals. The ADA provides that service animals may go anywhere their human does. Yet I hear every week of someone who is denied entry to some business because of their dog (and by the way, the law does specify dogs, you can’t claim a snake or rat as a service animal).
Yet what happens if I should someday need a service dog (they can pull wheelchairs, pick things up, carry bags, and so on) and one of you in the class is allergic to dogs? Or, since no documentation or certification of status is required, what if someone buys a fake service dog vest on the internet and shows up in class?
Managing conflict and dealing with unexpected consequences are important skills in life. How can we best handle them?