From Transportation Services to One-on-One Emotional Support,
the following provides resources to make living life a little easier.
b. Grocery & Goods
5.) Service Animals
8.) Exercise & Activity
9.) Community/Group Support
10.) Emotional/One-on-One Support
A critical accomplishment for people with disabilities was the 1990 passing of
The AMERICANS With DISABILITIES ACT (ADA),
a civil law prohibiting discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all places open to the general public.
It ensures that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone.
We all have to get places, but some of us can't simply hop in our cars to get there. Here are a few alternatives.
Public Transportation, such as bus and rail services operated by federal, state, and local governments with fixed rates and set schedules, typically offer discounts of various degrees to those with disabilities to help them get around. Contact the service in your area to learn if they offer a discount. It's not uncommon.
Paratransit Services are required of public transport agencies by law for people unable to use regular lines because of their disability. Eligibility requirements for use of the service is set in the Americans with Disabilities Act. Trips generally need to be scheduled at least a day in advance, rides often are shared with others booking similar times and routes, and providers usually require a 30-minute pick-up window.
Ride Hailing Companies, including popular ones Uber (uber.com) and Lyft (lyft.com), have made strides in accommodating people with disabilities. Uber, the larger of the two, doesn't offer discounts, but they have a WAV (Wheelchair Accommodating Vehicle) program that trains drivers how to work with passengers who have mobility issues. Lyft has a similar passenger assistance program, and they've teamed up with United Way to provide free rides through the 211* phone service for people who have difficulty using public transit, as well as with the National Down Syndrome Society to allow riders to pay for trips with ABLE accounts (tax-free savings accounts for people with disabilities).
* 211 CALLS are routed by local phone companies to a 211 calling center where a referral specialist can link the caller, either directly or by referral, to the service or organization that meets the caller's need. Types of referrals offered by 211 include:
Basic human need services such as food, clothing, and housing assistance
Physical and mental health resources that cover insurance programs, Medicaid and Medicare, medical information lines, crisis intervention, support groups, counseling, and drug and alcohol intervention and rehabilitation
Work support including financial assistance, job training, and education programs
Support for older Americans and people with disabilities including community meals, home health care, and transportation
Chiid and family support such as child care, after-school programs, summer camps, mentoring, and tutoring
Suicide prevention referral
Restaurant delivery (Digital Trends.com, "Best Food Delivery Apps in 2020" and CNET)
DoorDash (doordash.com) is available in 3,200 U.S. cities and has partnerships with 310,000 restaurants. While there may be delivery fees on orders, for a $10 monthly Dash Pass you receive no delivery fees and reduced service fees.
Grubhub (grubhub.com) is similar to DoorDash and is available in 2,700 U.S. cities with 140,000 restaurant partners. You can search by neighborhood, restaurant, cuisine, or even a specific menu item. The app is free, although venues may charge a delivery fee. With Grubhub+, however, $10 monthly fee gets you unlimited free deliveries with participating restaurants.
Uber Eats (UberEats.com) recently surpassed Uber ride hailing in revenue, and the service continues to grow like gangbusters. It recently announced a move to acquire competitor Postmates and hopes to expand into the delivery of home goods, medications, and pet supplies. With Postmates, Uber Eats would deliver foods from close to three quarters of a million restaurant partners. (NYT 8/7/20)
Grocery and Goods delivery (Digital Trends.com, "Best Food Delivery Apps in 2020")
Instacart (instacart.com) allows you to shop online and have your groceries delivered to you, sometimes within the hour. Available in 5,500 cities, 20,000 retailers are Instacart vendors, including Publix, Cosco, Safeway, Petco, and CVS. Delivery fees start at $4, but Express Membership provide free delivery on orders of $55 or more.
Delivery.com (delivery.com) serves 1,800 cities with access to 15,000 restaurants, grocery shopping and delivery, dry cleaning and laundry service, gift delivery, and many additional items.
A disability shouldn't keep you from learning, but it can make life in a classroom challenging. Did you know that, according to the Online Learning Consortium, more than 30% of college students take at least one course online and more than 15% study entirely in this manner? Here are two alternatives to classroom learning.
Affordable Colleges Online (affordablecollegesonline.org) connects students with high-quality, higher education. The site helps students identify online colleges, their programs, and even scholarship opportunities. A team including learning experts along with disability, queer, and veteran's advocates all contribute to the site's content.
Accredited Schools Online (accreditedschoolsonline.org) gives visitors information about accredited online universities from which they can take courses or earn their degrees. The site rates numerous schools on their online prowess based on tuition, financial aid, number of programs available online, student/teacher ratio, and graduation rate. It ranks the top five schools as University of Florida (88.44%), University of Virginia (81.41%), Purdue University (81.14%), Oklahoma State University (80.86%), and Rudgers (79.67%). See the site for more schools and links to their online programs. The site stresses to always make sure your institution is accredited, which means they meet the highest standard of excellence in student learning outcomes, academic mission, and faculty qualifications. Students can verify a school's accreditation status on the Department of Education website. (www.ed.gov)
When you have a disability, especially an invisible disability, it's important to wear identification when you're out that lets people know about your condition. That ID can play a critical role in letting them know what to do and what not to do in an emergency situation if you're unable to communicate. These are two that I like.
Medic Alert (medicalert.org) is the standard in medical identification.
Lauren's Hope (laurenshope.com) is an alternative and where I got my bracelets -- one for day-to-day if I'm out alone and one for working out. I felt Lauren's Hope offered a more versatile selection than Medic Alert with bracelets that were both practical and pretty.
5) SERVICE ANIMALS
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA.gov, 800-514-0301), a dog qualifies as a service animal if it's trained to perform tasks for its owner that make life with a his or her disability more manageable. Examples include warning an owner with diabetes if his blood sugar levels are too low or too high or warning an owner with epilepsy that a seizure is about to occur and then keeping her safe while it's happening. Emotional Support animals are not considered service animals per the ADA, although if the animal is trained to detect and prevent or ease a diagnosed psychiatric episode such as an anxiety attack, a case may be made for that animal to qualify. Service animals do not require a special certification. They do, however, require up to date licenses, registrations, and vaccines.
The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) (askjan.org) is the leading source of free, expert, and confidential guidance on workplace accommodations and disability employment issues. The organization assists people with disabilities enhance their employment opportunities and guides employers on how to capitalize on the value and talent that these employees can add to the workplace. The website offers a directory with a myriad of disabilities recognized by the ADA and one click opens massive amounts of information on whatever medical condition you choose to explore, including its potential workplace limitations and the ADA's required accommodations, current articles and blog posts, and links to numerous related support organizations.
Easter Seals (easterseals.com) celebrated 100 years of helping people with disabilities in 2019, and the organization was instrumental in the passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act in 1990. Today Easter Seals offers programs that fall into four categories -- Live, Learn, Work, and Play -- in 69 locations across the United States. Its Work component offers a range of individualized training and job placement services to people with disabilities and other needs, helping them make informed choices and attain employment goals. It also works with businesses to assist them in attracting and retaining ideal disabled workforce candidates.
Vocational Rehabilitation USA has a vocational rehabilitation agency designed to help individuals with disabilities meet their employment goals in every state. It assist individuals prepare for, obtain, maintain, and retain employment. The website (askearn.org) provides a list of states, their vocational websites, and phone numbers.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD.gov)'s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity offers resources on the responsibility of housing providers according to Federal law. The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing transactions because of disability by public housing agencies, property owners, landlords, real estate agents, and banks. The Fair Housing Act also states that it is reasonable for persons with disabilities to make modifications to a dwelling to make it fully livable. HUD, under section 504, also has financial assistance programs for home buyers with disabilities, including HOME Investment Partnerships and Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities.
8.) EXERCISE & ACTIVITY
The National Center of Health, Physical Activity and Disability (NCHPAD) (nchpad.org.) was founded in 1999 to help people with disabilities and chronic health conditions achieve health benefits through participation in physical and social activities. Go online and use their tools to find out what healthy opportunities exist for you in your own neighborhood. NCHPAD provides individualized information, referral, and consultation services not only to people with disabilities, their families, and caregivers, but also to policymakers, health care practitioners, and public health professionals through an expansive array of web-based materials and health communication endeavors. Additionally, NCHPAD conducts national training initiatives that educate service providers in community health inclusion.
9.) COMMUNITY/GROUP SUPPORT
It's healing and empowering to connect with others who who share similar life challenges. Most disability foundations have local support hubs you can hook up with. The social and support networks below only scratch the surface of what's available.
Try joining MeetUp (www.meetup.com), a worldwide, internet-based, group-forming service that has a multitude of disability-oriented groups already in place. If you can't find one that's in your area that meets your needs, it's easy to start your own. Before long you'll be surrounded by like-mined souls wanting the same thing. To make new friends in New York, I started a MeetUp group for MahJongg and it wasn't hard.
The Invisible Disabilities Association (InvisibleDisabilities.Inspire.com) hosts an online private and confidential support network that has more than 1.2 million members. Don't let that number overwhelm you. As part of this group, you receive information, encouragement, and hope from people who understand what you're going through. You also control who sees your posts, and can easily search for friends in your area with whom you can form more intimate support community.
10.) EMOTIONS/ONE-ON-ONE SUPPORT
Sometimes you just need to talk with someone who's job it is to help get you through difficult times and develop strategies for moving forward, accomplish goals, and feel better about yourself. For this I recommend seeking out a therapist, preferably one with expertise is the area of chronic health issues. If you're sick of hearing, "just get over it" and you feel like nobody really understands you, please consider this option. Many insurers pay at least in part for therapy (check first), and it's worth the copay. Your specialist or internal medicine doc should be able to make a few good recommendations.