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Who holds elected officials accountable when it comes to employment?

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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

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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!

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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.


https://www.transportation.gov/briefing-room/us-department-transportation-announces-formation-and-membership-air-carrier-access-act



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

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

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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…

Guest blog by Carmen Jones: Six Words that Made me a Brand Ambassador for Discovery Cove

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My friend and colleague, Carman Jones, wrote a moving piece about disability inclusion from the "heart," which I just had to share with readers fond of "View from the Chair."

Please take it in as I did, I'm sure you'll you'll take something away from her "view" as I did.

Jim

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July 10, 2018



Swimming with dolphins was on my bucket list for a long time, but as a paraplegic I wasn’t sure how this would happen. After some research, I found Discovery Cove in Orlando. I learned they provided park accessibility including the dolphin swim! So, with a lot of zeal and excitement, this single, wheelchair-using Momma and her little girl set out to for a memory-filled experience.

Upon our arrival, we were greeted at the main entrance and directed to registration. We received additional instructions, and told there was a beach chair I could use to maneuver throughout the park and beach areas. I felt great. However, there was on…

JFK Airport "Zero;" Delta Airlines "Won" Regarding Disability Inclusion

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I flew home on a business trip this week from Las Vegas, Nevada, to JFK airport in New York, and once again the trip was daunting and frustrating.

Airline travel is tough enough for all of us, however, when you have a disability and are traveling in a wheelchair, it becomes even more challenging. As a backdrop, I've been traveling for more than 35 years as a wheelchair rider and a C5-C6 quadriplegic. I basically travel when I must, especially when there is a business purpose involved.

I was returning from a disability inclusion conference with an organization called Disability:In, formally known as USBLN.  My team and I had just been recognized on behalf of our firm, JPMorgan Chase, as one of the best companies to work for if you have a disability and are qualified to compete for employment opportunities.


A perfect landing, but no wheelchair
I had already done four transfers to and from from my wheelchair by the time I arrived at JFK airport in New York on Delta flight 371. When membe…