Category Archives: service animals

ADA Celebrates 25 Years – Still a Long Way to Go…

July 26, 1990, George H. W. Bush signed into law the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA); a law that paved the way for equal rights and treatment for millions of Americans with disabilities.

ADA 25 Year Anniversary

ADA 25 Year Anniversary

It’s now 25 years later, and yes, a lot has improved; curbs have been reduced and ramps have been built. You’ll even find Braille on  signage and wheelchair lifts on city buses among the thousands of other improvements that have taken place as a result of the ADA. However, as many of the 38 million Americans with a disability can tell you, there is still a long way to go. Not only among the governing bodies of the United States, but among the public and private sector.

Many of the complaints still coming in from disabled Americans continue to revolve around lack of amenities, or amenities that just don’t function. Take for example a hotel chain with accessible rooms. Many of these rooms have what they call a roll-in shower and if you are lucky bars next to the toilet, but what many are still lacking are beds that sit lower to the floor. It’s still to this day far to common to see a business try to be compliant, but fail to wholly deliver, and airlines are not any better.

Don’t even get me started on all the stories circulating around the Internet regarding the experiences disabled travelers have experienced; from blatant disregard of their well-being to  downright humiliation. There are far too many…

As we look forward to celebrating this monumental occasion, we still have come a long way none-the-less.  An American with a disability is far better-off today than prior to the ADA, and things are only to improve as more and more advocates get involved to bring to light the shortcomings of the public and private sector.

If you would like to learn more about the ADA, please visit: http://www.ada.gov/ada_25th_anniversary/

 

How to Provide Support for a Disabled Family Member

Providing mental and emotional support for a disabled family member is no easy task. After all, depending on the nature of the disability, family members might feel out of their comfort zone, or struggle to find the right words to say to a loved one when he or she is having a bad day.

If a loved one in your family is disabled, it’s important to know what to do when he or she needs your love and support. Consider using the following advice when you want to show your loved one that you’ll always be there:

• Don’t baby your family member if he or she is having a bad day. This can often come from a place of good intentions; however, this might make a disabled person feel worse, particularly if he or she is feeling bad about being physically or mentally handicapped. Babying them will only make them feel worse about themselves.

• Engage in fun activities that the two of you can enjoy together. Develop a ritual of watching your favorite TV show together, or schedule regular phone calls to talk about celebrity gossip. Doing regular – and fun! – activities can lift someone’s spirits when he or she needs some extra love.

• Don’t be afraid to talk about the disability. Your family member doesn’t want to be treated with kid gloves – in fact, making an effort to avoid talking about the disability altogether might make him or her feel invisible. Talk about it in a way that’s respectful without it becoming the prime focus of all your interactions.

• Your family member is more than a disability – and he or she needs to be treated as such. Talk about everyday normal things, make fun of your creepy uncle together, or just play video games together while your family’s in the kitchen cooking up a Thanksgiving turkey.

It’s our hope that these hints have demonstrated that you should treat your loved one for who they are: a person who has a special place in your heart, regardless of his or her disability.

Is Equine Therapy Right for You?

For countless years, the use of equine therapy has been a viable method of improving physical and emotional states of numerous individuals. Even by some, considered a handicapped vehicle of sorts, but what is equine therapy?

 

Equine therapy is a therapy program where horses are used to teach individuals how to maneuver horses and perform tricks; all while creating an everlasting bond with their new four-legged friend. However, what makes the program so successful is the experience and emotional fix. Participants not only benefit from receiving the repetitious encouragement from their instructors and parents, but they also gain a valuable sense of accomplishment, which dramatically improves quality of life and self esteem. The emotional connection is strong… The smiles, the laughter, the experience is truly one rewarding experience for all those involved. However, there is more aside from the numerous emotional benefits. Riding therapy also provides physical and fitness gains such as, core strengthening, range of motion, balance, posture, and increased hand-eye coordination.
So, what about the horses, you ask? The horses selected for equine programs are those with special qualities and many years of handling, to ensure these qualities and personalities fit with the program. This is actually a very important step when placing the rider with the right horse. Program instructors work hard to ensure they match up the right horse with the right rider, allowing for a better experience from start to finish. As each rider is different, so is each horse. While many can do tricks, others are to be more patient and tolerant to noise and erratic behavior, but one thing is for sure, these horses are as special as their riders. Great care goes into caring and taking care of their needs, and building of their personalities.
If you would like to learn more about equine therapy and its many benefits, click here.

Happy trails…

Man’s Best Friend Can Do His Own Laundry And Yours Too

Man’s best friend has moved another notch up the list, and if you don’t have a dog, you just might after reading this. This just in! Company in the UK has designed a washing machine that can be operated by dog. That’s right; Fido can now do his own laundry and yours too!

The “Woof to Wash” is the new creation from UK laundry specialist, JTM Service and Miele Professional, but before you get to excited, it wasn’t designed for lazy people to exploit their pooch into doing the choirs. Yet, a good thought… HMMMMM

This innovative design and concept was actually designed to help those with physical challenges; more particularly, those who currently benefit from use of a service dog in their daily lives. The team came up with the design after seeing how mainstream design keeps developing complex digital controls that are never friendly toward the disabled user. They thought there must be something they can do, and that they did; introducing “Woof to Wash”, the revolutionary washing machine that can be operated by Fido.
Here is how it works. Just as these dogs endure rigorous training in learning assistance behaviors, they too learn the steps of operating the machine. Seems simple enough; after all, these dogs are very smart, trained professionals with a PhD. (enter your own acronym here).

Dog operates washing machine

Amazing Animals for Amazing People

First, the dog unlocks the door by pushing a paw against a specially designed footpad which unlocks the door. Then the dog opens the door by pulling on the specially designed handle; opening the front-load washer.
Second, the dog loads the clothes into the washer, by mouth. Being gentle of course…
Third, the dog closes the door and barks as he trots away, so proud of his accomplishment. By the way, the bark signals the washer to begin its wash cycle; no buttons to push, or dials to turn.
Now I know what you’re thinking, how does the dog pour in the detergent? Well, in short they don’t. There is a bottle of detergent above the machine and it automatically prefills the machine prior to use, and again after each use. After all, they don’t have opposable thumbs; yet…, but give them time.
Note to self: Train Fido to fold the laundry.
Seriously, this invention has great potential. Making yet another task that many take for granted, easier and more manageable for those with a physical challenge to accomplish. For that, we salute all those special companions and their trainers for their hard work and dedication; and of course those inventors and designers for thinking outside the box.
If you would like to learn more about this new invention, click here.