"Deja vu" and The Red Suit

Over the weekend, my wife Maggie was going through items in storage boxes we accumulated over the years, which we have stored in our basement. There were old files, clothes, furniture and other items, including photographs dating back 30 years or more. Many items would be discarded, others we will keep.

She called me over as she sorted out decades-old pictures, a good many in black and white and in color. One of the photographs was of our five year-old son, Jimmy wearing a red  suit, tie and white shirt. The photograph brought back many memories as "Jimmy," as I fondly call him, is now 30 years old. I recall the story of Jimmy and the red suit as it has remained a legendary story in our family.

A Shopping Weekend

At the time, we lived in Rockland County, New York, and decided to go clothes shopping for our then 11-year-old daughter Danielle and 5-year-old, Jimmy, who was about to graduate from kindergarten.  The New Jersey Malls were no more than a 30-minute car ride from our…

Who holds elected officials accountable when it comes to employment?

The following article was written by by John D. Kemp, President and CEO of the Viscardi Center.  Published in the Hill: 01/14/20 

“I just want a J-O-B, but no one seems to want to hire me because I’m disabled and assumes I am useless:),” read a recent Twitter post by a graduate from the Henry Viscardi School at The Viscardi Center, a graduate who holds not only a high school Regents diploma, but a Bachelor’s degree; a graduate who presents with a severe physical disability and medical fragility, and who has been dismissed within minutes of arriving at many job interviews.

The common thread: approximately two-thirds cannot find employment. Those who have landed jobs know the road to securing employment is long, tedious, and filled with mostly arbitrary, unnecessary obstacles.

Further, some are limited by earnings caps due to the fear of losing critically needed benefits. Where education has succeeded, employment has failed them quite miserably.

There is frustration, loss of self-worth,…

"Wheels on Wheels:" Commuter Rail Accessibility in Boston

My wife and I moved back to the Boston area from New York City about six months ago. One of the challenges we were concerned about was finding transportation to get to work. I didn't want to travel to Boston by car, because the commute is daunting. To my pleasant surprise, I discovered transportation that quite a few people use in the Boston area. I decided to get to work by train, or the "commuter rail."

To my pleasant surprise the 50-minute commute to Boston from my town, Hanson, works really well. The train is mostly on time, the conductors are efficient and diligent, and the passengers I ride with thus far have been delightful!

I catch the train every day each morning on the Kingston line to South Station, The beauty of the commute for a wheelchair rider is that the train is very accessible. And, the process is quite simple.

When a wheelchair rider boards a train, attentive conductors provide a metal plate, which is stored in "each" train car. The "me…

Thank Goodness Santa Claus doesn’t have Wheels on his Sleigh!

This past August I had to request a new power wheelchair. My chair was very worn after five years of use -- going to work in Manhattan, New York, traveling on aircraft and going about my daily living activities.

Basically, I beat up my wheelchair as I used it 12 hours each day, seven days a week throughout the years.

I had to repair my wheelchair quite a few times during 2018-2019, changing batteries, the wheels, upholstery and armrests. I banged up the chair pretty good in New York City while riding to work in Manhattan for about 3 1/2 years.

U.S. Department of Transportation Announces Formation and Membership of the Air Carrier Access Act Advisory Committee

As many of you know, many in the disability community have been looking to help usher in a new travel modality as we fly commercial aircraft.  With the help of the PVA , government and the airline industry,  the U.S. Department of Transportation has announced a new Air Carrier Access Act Advisory Committee to "identify and assess disability-related access barriers encountered by air travelers with disabilities, evaluate the extent to which DOT’s programs and activities are addressing these disability-related access barriers, and recommend actions to improve the air travel experience of passengers with disabilities."  

This is a watershed .moment for me, and I am sure for my colleagues also named to this committee. The press release, launched yesterday, can be accesed via this link.

WASHINGTON – U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Elai…

Veronique: The passing of a quad's best friend -- 2007-2019

Veronique, a certified service dog, died this morning to due complications with cancer in Pembroke, Massachusetts. .
Veronique was with us for 10 years-- I got her when she was two.  I've included a previous post about Veronique, below, when I was trained to become her "handler" at the Canine Companions Training Center in Medford, Long Island (New York).
She became a member of our family and was a favorite with our two children and granddaughters. Her passing touched my wife and I deeply, and I didn't realize how much emotion --love-- one could feel for a pet as we did for Veronique. Every time I pushed the start button on my power chair, Veronique would come to attention and accompany me as I began my ride to any destination a wheelchair could get to -- as well as ride with me in any mode of transportation that was accessible. She gave me confidence, helped me become more social -- everyone loves a service dog-- and taught me how to be more attentive, as I was responsib…