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Springfield, U.S. — After a multi-year court battle, the city of Springfield is thrilled to celebrate its victorious opponents, the disabled activists who successfully compelled it to implement decades-old accessibility legislation.
City council member Leo Dedick said, “We could not be prouder of our disability activists. We applaud their important, necessary and long-overdue efforts.”
The city’s ADA coordinator, Jimmy Azhat, shared his takeaways from the costly and prolonged battle against the disabled: “Turns out there are ratios for physical accessibility, requirements for technology, processes for accommodations — I mean the list goes on and on. Consider my mind officially blown.”
Dedick said the city would host an event to commemorate the partnership with the disabled community and the city’s compulsory commitment to accessibility. He said, “We will use the settlement budget, first and foremost, to celebrate these hometown heroes. We will have a bounce house, food trucks, live music on the lawn, everything you need to celebrate these giants of the disabled community.”
The activists, however, were concerned nothing would change if they stopped doing all the work for free. Azhat was unfazed by their concerns and said, “We will create an oversight board composed of volunteer disabled activists to keep this gravy train going. Oh, and this gravy train has an accessible platform.”
Despite what can only be described as egregious and embarrassing ADA violations, Dedick viewed the public fight and ultimate loss in a positive light. He concluded, “It’s never too late to be forced to do the right thing.”
The post City Celebrates Disability Activists After Fighting Lawsuit and Losing appeared first on The Squeaky Wheel.more
Living with Lyme disease has made me appreciate all of the little things in life — like the time before I had a chronic illness.
When you’re sick, it can be a challenge to get out of the house often. So when you do, it’s important to show gratitude for all the memories that come crashing back in: memories of the time in your life before it took three days’ worth of energy to get some apples and cheese.
My friends tell me it is so worthwhile to try to find the small joys in life, even if it just means getting out of bed or taking a shower. And yes, before I was sick I also found joy in warm beds and hot showers, with the added benefit that I wasn’t sick.
My life has been enriched in unexpected ways since my diagnosis. It’s made me realize how awesome it was when I could eat glutenous foods. A crispy croissant, a fluffy bagel. Ah, those were the days.
I can’t change the fact that I have Lyme disease, and so instead I look for opportunities to practice acceptance. Like when I’m trying to f*ck my husband but we have to stop so I can rest or because my doctor’s appointment got changed. Instead of getting flustered, I just think back to the time when we could have long, nonstop romping sessions.
Cultivating gratitude when living with a chronic illness is important. They say that expressing gratitude has positive health outcomes. So I hope the tick that bit me is well-fed and living its best life right now.
The post How Having Lyme Disease Made Me Appreciate the Time Before I Had Lyme Disease appeared first on The Squeaky Wheel.more
“Gong Xi Fa Cai!” Nathan Wong’s relatives wished each other (which translates to “Congratulations and may you be prosperous”). Every year, Wong looked forward to the Lunar New Year festivities: the reunion dinner with family, the lion dance and the delicious array of food, each with its own significance in terms of happiness, wealth and success. But he had to be careful about one thing — being too prosperous.
“I have to meticulously count my hong baos every year at this time,” said Wong, referring to the red envelopes traditionally filled with cash that married couples give to young children and single adults as a symbol of prosperity and luck. He then emptied out his red envelopes and started calculating his newly amassed fortune.
He breathed a sigh of relief; his total assets were still under $2,000. “One penny over $2,000 and I’ll be ineligible for Supplemental Security Income!” said Wong, who has spina bifida. “Good thing I have stingy relatives! It is bad luck to turn down hong baos.”
As the day went on, the tally started adding up in Wong’s head. “Oh no, I’m getting too close to the limit,” he thought, biting his lip nervously. “I still have several relatives to greet!” Wong began sweating profusely each time he saw a relative approaching with a hong bao in their outstretched hands. And by 5 p.m. Wong’s mental SSI meter sounded the alarm that he had reached the limit. He had misjudged the generosity of his relatives, and it was time to play hide-and-go-seek with them.
“Where is Nathan?” said Aunty Martha with one last red envelope to give to him. “I just saw him a few minutes ago!” Grandpa and Grandma Wong shrugged. “We can’t find him either!” they cried. “We’ve been looking for him to give him his hong bao. Usually, everyone’s eagerly queuing up to receive them. It’s as if Nathan is avoiding us!”
As the lion dance began and everyone congregated to watch, Wong saw his perfect escape … only to be spotted by Grandma Wong. “Nathan!” she yelled. Wong pretended not to hear her amidst the loud drumming music and speedily wheeled himself out, relieved he had dodged the bullet that would effectively destroy his SSI benefits.
But Grandma Wong, not to be underestimated, pulled out a few kung fu moves, somersaulted through the air and slid across the hallway in the nick of time to present her grandson with an $88.88 hong bao right on his lap. Tears ran down Wong’s face as he saw his SSI benefits immediately go poof.
“Gong Xi Fa Cai, Nathan!” wished Grandma Wong, mistaking his tears of sadness for joy. “Awww, you’re so sweet. No need for tears! I wish you an abundance of wealth throughout the year of the rabbit. You deserve it!”
The post Lunar New Year Red Envelope Sets Man Over SSI Limit by $88 appeared first on The Squeaky Wheel.more
“This is my favorite time of the year,” says Luis Rodriguez, 52, as he climbs into his snowplow. “Most of the year the city has me moving asphalt or gravel. But if I’m honest, this is why I took the job.”
Rodriguez and his crew are thrilled to take to the streets after each snowfall to trap every disabled person in his city.
Curb cuts are a hallmark of universal design that allow people with disabilities, as well as people pushing strollers or pulling wagons, to navigate neighborhoods. And Rodriguez vows to coat every single intersection with a thick layer of ice.
“There’s something about taking fresh snow and turning it into a pool of brown sludge at the bottom of every curb cut that fills my heart with holiday joy,” he says while affixing a large aesthetic bow to his front plow. Rodriguez has spent the last several months workshopping ideas on how to make this season the most inaccessible of all.
“They say that about twenty percent of Americans live with a disability. Those are big goals. But one day I’ll get ’em. I’ve actually been busting up curb cuts with hammers in my spare time. When you wear a reflective vest, most people leave you alone.”
Sadly, not all residents are filled with the same spirit of joy and whimsy.
“Are you kidding me? Are you absolutely kidding me right now?” one local wheelchair user remarks, channeling her inner grinch. “How the hell am I supposed to get through this? I’m already late for work. I hate this city.”
The post Snowplow Drivers Find Holiday Joy in Making All Curb Cuts Inaccessible appeared first on The Squeaky Wheel.more
PORTLAND, Ore. — Jack Smith, a partial quadriplegic who relies on paratransit to get to and from appointments, has been waiting for his ride since 5 p.m. last night, and it is now 7 a.m.
“I’m tryin’ to see the bright side of a real rough situation,” huffed Smith, downing another cup of coffee. “I had another ride scheduled for eight this morning so, I don’t know, I guess they’re technically early now? I know they think wheelchair users have nothing else to do, but why would we need a ride if we didn’t have somewhere to be?”
Angela Jones, a paratransit driver now on the 16th hour of her shift, was noticeably frazzled when she arrived at 7:30 a.m. to a visibly angry Smith.
“In my own defense, we’re severely underfunded,” said Jones, trying to apologize to Smith. “God knows no paratransit program has ever had sufficient funds, anywhere, ever. We’re stretched thin, and people keep quitting, and I’m due for a break, like, yesterday.”
We asked Smith and Jones to comment further, but both had drifted off to sleep.more
“I’ve tried everything and he won’t leave!” sighed Katelynn Madison, 23, a health insurance claims processor. “It’s like he can’t take the hint. We don’t want to be with you anymore! Why is that so hard to understand?”
Madison is proudly part of a byzantine system that stops Americans from getting medicine by denying over 50 million insurance claims per year. A rising star in the industry, she recently won “Manipulator of the Month” for telling a patient to fax a notarized copy of their complete medical history to the office, despite not having a fax machine or even really knowing what that is.
“We’ve tried everything. We’ve ignored his calls for weeks on end. We’ve kept sending him more bills to try to confuse him. Sometimes I even randomly send him bills for medications that he paid nine months ago. He just won’t take no for an answer.”
The anonymous patient Madison is referring to is one of the 37 million diabetics in America. Since diabetes is considered a pre-existing condition, it’s Madison’s job to make their lives as miserable as possible until they give up advocating for their health.
Last month she took the devious step of making the patient’s doctor fill out a prior authorization form, which is really just more paperwork, to prove that the doctor actually meant for the patient to have the prescription the doctor already wrote.
“Look, at the end of the day my job is to make my company money. That’s it. And if we have to insure sick people, we’re going to make them cover the entire bill. I just wish people would understand that and stop trying to contact me.”more
After years of serving as the unelected spokesperson for her disability, a B-list celebrity has shaken the community by posting an irredeemably awful statement on Twitter.
“She was the opening line of the speech I use to explain my diagnosis,” said former supporter Celia Ramos. “Now I’m going to have to downgrade to the supporting actor from a moderately known ’90s movie.”
Despite desperate pleas for her to apologize, the actor doubled down with a 15-tweet-long thread. Those sharing her diagnosis mourn the loss of their only mainstream representation.
“She was our Peter Dinklage,” said Rebecca Cruz. “But it was too good to be true.”
Because of the lack of disability representation in Hollywood, said Cruz, actors she can relate to are hard to come by. The majority of disabled roles are played by non-disabled actors. Despite how often disabled characters succeed as Oscar bait, only a few winners in the awards show’s 93-year history were actually played by disabled actors.
The nonprofit organization dedicated to the star’s diagnosis is now scrambling to restore its image.
“She’s hosted our annual fundraising gala for years,” said president Eric Baker. “Now we’ve got to scrub the website of her quotes, redesign the T-shirts … it’s a PR nightmare. Our funding is down the drain.”
“In the future, I hope that we continue to destigmatize disability so more disabled actors will come into the mainstream,” said Cruz. “Really, anybody but her.”
Teenager Kacy Singh is taking it a step further: the avid social media user is now searching for celebrities she believes display the diagnosis criteria.
“Honestly, our condition isn’t even that rare,” said Singh. “There has to be someone else out there to represent us who isn’t also a raging bigot.”
The post Devastating: The Most Famous Person with Your Rare Disability Actually Sucks appeared first on The Squeaky Wheel.more
As the Johnson family sat around the dinner table trying to make small talk, the conversation inevitably turned to politics. But before anyone could voice their opinions, Mrs. Johnson intervened.
“Now, now, let’s not ruin our holiday meal with all this awkward political talk,” she said with a smile. “We haven’t seen Grace since pre-pandemic. Let’s focus on something we all agree on and can bond over, like her special disability! Are you doing anything to try and recover from it, sweetheart? Like going to church and asking God to forgive your sins?”
Grace proceeded to explain for the millionth time to her mother and family that her visual impairment was called retinitis pigmentosa, a genetic eye disease, and there was no cure or treatment right now.
“Don’t blame me for your blindness!” cried her dad, also for the millionth time, on hearing the word “genetic” and seeing a window of political opportunity. “That’s what you Democrats do, just blame everyone else for your problems. You know Trump should still …”
Mrs. Johnson quickly interrupted. “Grace, please eat more carrots,” she said, steering the conversation back to her daughter’s misfortune. “If only you had eaten more carrots when you were younger like I told you to, you would not be in the predicament you are in today.”
The family all nodded in solemn agreement. “I can’t imagine what it’s like being blind, Grace. Your life must be so hard,” said Uncle Bob with a tear in his eye, patting her head to comfort her when she didn’t need comforting. “I must say you’re really brave and inspirational doing things by yourself like going to the grocery store. I’d probably starve if I were in your shoes!”
But Grandma Johnson didn’t buy it. “You don’t look blind though, Grace. You look the same now as when I saw you before the pandemic, soooo normal and un-blind. Remember when Ralph had soap poisoning in ‘A Christmas Story’? Now, THAT’S what a blind person should look like! Are you really sure you even have a visual impairment?” she said skeptically. “Could be a temporary condition; perhaps you didn’t get enough sleep. I know how hard you work sometimes!”
The family all nodded in solemn agreement again. “How many fingers am I holding up?” said Uncle Bob. “Can you see the funny face I’m making at you?”
At this point, Grace realized it was in her favor to divert the conversation to good ol’ fashioned awkwardness. “So yeah, about the presidency: Biden won the election fair and square,” she said. “And on abortion, I think women have the right …”more
PORTLAND, Ore. — Local wheelchair user Kris Shaw has once again received unwanted help from a stranger after repeatedly telling the man she could pick her own phone up.
“It happens every time I drop my phone,” Shaw told us as the man bent down and flashed a dewy smile. “People assume I can’t bend down to grab things, even when I say, ‘I got it, no really, there’s no need, don’t worry about it, don’t, just leave me alone…’ and so on,” she continued.
“I saw her drop her phone, and I couldn’t help myself,” said the anonymous man as Shaw tried to interject with another protest. “I had to swoop in from across the room and help. She said she could do it, but I thought I’d make her day easier because her life is already terrible.”
Common sense says if someone asks you not to help them, then don’t help them. But when it comes to interacting with disabled people, that common sense often flies out the window.
“It’s like, why even ask?” said Shaw, rolling her eyes. “If you’re obviously going to do something anyway, what are we even doing here?”
Shaw began to educate him on disability etiquette, but he seemed to think that was hard for her. So he told her, “Oh, you’re very welcome,” and walked away.
The post Man Guesses He’ll Go Ahead and Do that Thing Woman Just Said She Could Do Without his Help appeared first on The Squeaky Wheel.more
When Morgan Duffy planned her trip from Los Angeles to Tokyo, she wanted to make sure that her emotional support animal could travel with her. Sprinkles, a 12-pound Australian terrier, is Duffy’s ESA and drastically reduces her anxiety and fear of flying.
“Between the stress of getting to the plane and boarding on time and the stimulation of the plane itself, it’s a very anxious experience for me. But Sprinkles knows just what to do, and him sleeping in my lap eases my stress,” Duffy said.
Upon their return to LA, Sprinkles was a bit shaken because of all the strange people who were constantly trying to touch him, take his picture and talk to him like a baby. “He’s three, but that’s 21 in his years, so it’s pretty patronizing,” said Duffy.
The fact that it all happened in a vibrating rocket soaring nearly a mile in the air for over 12 hours didn’t help either.
Sprinkles worked closely with his veterinarian and came to the realization that for future travels he also needed an emotional support animal to reduce his stress. Despite a flood of businesses preying on well-intentioned people who want to follow the rules, emotional support animals don’t require any paperwork, training or registration. However, due to a 2021 U.S. Department of Transportation rule, this may vary between airlines.
When reached for comment, Sprinkles’ lawyer shared this prepared response:
“My client is a terrier who can hear incredibly high frequencies. His ability to stay in one place for that long is certainly commendable, but we are striving for a world where his needs are met and he can go to work unimpeded. Since it is unrealistic to expect people to mind their business and not harass him during his shift, he has chosen to take on the services of a small lizard to assist him with his mental health needs.”
The lizard’s name is Pringle, and she will ride on his back like a weighted blanket throughout future flights. Pringle will wear a cowboy hat, but that’s not related to her job. She just likes the look.more