Category Archives: Disability Issues

QR: What is it?

Just spent several days with the chair of the United Methodist Taskforce on Disability who taught me quite a few things. Ya’ll know I could stand a mountain of learning. Probably most of you already know about QR code, but I’d never heard of it. Best I can figure is it is like a bar code with art – not lines but embedded code that let you put your iphone up to the cute little square and instantly connect to a website. People put QR code on t-shirts, papers, posters, etc. It’s like shorthand for getting to where you want to go. The trick is you have to have an app on your phone that lets you read QR. I haven’t visited the app store yet to find out if it costs, so I’ll keep you posted, or you can comment back and educate me.

Birds and Beings

Sitting on the porch of our Hill Country cabin watching nature at its best with birds all over the place welcoming the day. A great blue heron has a great habit of stopping off on a rock protruding from the Guadalupe River where he waits for the morning catch to swim by for his breakfast. Cardinals are in great plumage, and the Egyptian Geese who live downstream and the wood ducks come up to our island for whatever it is they eat.  I wish I could live by the water, so it could work its magic, calming effect.

This week I hosted the chair person of the United Methodist Disabilities Task Force who was attending conference and holding audit meetings, and I got to tag along.  I was impressed by so many dedicated persons who work to help the persons with disabilities have camp and worship and educational possibilities. The chair person is from Spokane, so we had some good and some bad weather for her making a change from her dry and cooler climate.  Three days were sunshine that encouraged the bluebonnets to spring forth. We drove to Kerrville then went back to San Antonio. I’m packing up to drive back to Houston where I have lots of work waiting for me.  As you know, when you take a week off, it means run to catch up, or, in my case, wheel on #4 to catch up.

Did I mention catching four rainbow trout in fifteen minutes?

Ramps’nthing Press

Several people have asked me how I came to start Ramps’nthings Press, so here it is.  Disability materials, although important, do not make much money as the sales are limited, so after trying to sell them, I concluded failure and branched out on my own. First, I had to agree that I would not make any money, so if I broke even, it is okay.  Second, I had to have an organization to put them out there, one that sounded like what it really is. Finding a name was not as easy as it sounds as so many domains and names and logos are copyrighted. I came up Ramps, but it had to be more so I added the “things”. My friend K. said I needed a picture of it for a logo, so Homer Caravjal (the greatest graphics designer in the world) developed one that says it without words.

RP’s first book was Get With It Spencer about a rooster that needed glasses and kept crowing at the yard light. Then came Quick Look for Volunteer Emergency Responders: A Guide to Aiding Persons with Disabilities.

Ramps’nthings Press has several things in the almost-finished department including a book of participation stories, another Quick Look book, and a book about change. Just for kicks, I may put my collection of skits and dramas out there, but it needs to be free or at cost.

On other front of ramps: I just bought another small suitcase ramp to use at my den door, replacing one built by a carpenter that is too rough and too steep. It is great to have so much helpful equipment available, and this will make my riding much smoother.

God is Present

Lately I have been trying to put into words the importance of spiritual recognition with our students and others with disabilities only to wrestle with word after words. There is no one way to “Evoke God.” God is present.  Knowing that may be realized in many ways, different from person to person and group to group. It happens in fellowship, community, planned worship, unplanned moments of discovery, and, in many instances, it happens usually not in cognitive ways. It happens with significant persons who are steady, present and role models in their ways of recognizing and worshipping God.  It happens when there is a sacred flow of love and thought. It happens with routine and symbols, and it happens when the senses are awakened and used, and it is important to know your friends in this respect. Music is great for some, but definitely not for persons who are deaf. Colorful worship materials are great for most, but meaningless for persons who are blind. Here is the great importance of using varied ways of worship or God conversations.

See how hard it is to use words to describe intuitive knowing?  In two paragraphs, I didn’t get it right. Let’s keep working on it.

Our prayer circles – the taking of unrushed time that is intentional and celebrated can bring about an intuitive “knowing” of the presence of God. Well, maybe. Maybe not. Who knows?  That knowing varies like water that is sometimes still, sometimes rippled and may look stagnant but is not. God’s mix and ways. Be encouraged even if you don’t always see a celebration of the knowing.

Naomi Mitchum is Author of Quick Look for Volunteer Responders, A Guide to Aiding Persons With Disabilities

I am, in fact, the author of this great little pocket book, and it is for sale on Amazon.com, but they have not listed it properly, so I am listing here with the hope that a search engine will pick it up.

This small 5 x 7  book made of durable plasticoat will fit into a rescuers backpack or pocket, or its bright yellow color will easily be found on a teacher’s desk or by a church usher. Reviewed ahead of time, then carried to an emergency site, it can save lives when the rescuer can quickly refresh the memory about what to do. For example, it will tell him or her precursors of a seizure or that  a person who is having a seizure  needs to stay in place, in fact, can do nothing else, but follow up is important.  Other details about what to do with persons with disabilities are stated concisely with great graphics to stimulate thinking. Very important picture boards and body pictures help a non person or one who speaks English as a second language point to where they are hurting or what their needs are.  Other topics include how to help someone who is homebound, how to deal with loss of power or lockdown and how to safeguard persons post-emergency. In the beginning Quick Look gives the process of quickly communicating, assessing and responding.

I’m not telling you this with the hope you will have an emergency, but an emergency can happen any place and any time, and each of us needs to be prepared to help and save lives. Persons with disabilities need a little extra help, and you can find out what kind of help that is.

What is your latest emergency?  House fire, running out of milk for your cereal on Sunday morning, helping a person at a car wreck (how did you know they were disabled?), hurricane or flood  (Mitchums are five time winners on this one). Or is  your emergency standing up to make a speech and noticing your shoes don’t match? For the shoe thing, it’s too late, for other emergencies, you can prepare.

This has nothing to do with my book, but one of my funny emergencies happened because I am diabetic and was trying out some new doctor-suggested liquid glucose. Scene: Sitting on the stage in front of hundreds of people waiting to make a presentation after two others finished. They talked too long, and my blood sugar dipped, so I pulled out the little tube and squirted some glucose in my mouth while holding a paper in front of my mouth. The sticky glucose, which turned out to be red, stuck to my hands and to my paper. I could not turn loose of the paper. And I had a new color of sweet lipstick. Saved by the bishop just as I was wondering what and how. He called lunch, and my speech could be afterwards. Diabetic readers will have stories to share.

Growing Old

My friend Jim’s Daily Awakenings is right on target about what it means to grow old. I have an idea to add to how I feel about growing old. Well, thank you God, I am growing old. We hear a lot of advice from youngers about what we should have done to prevent disease and creaks and groans, but I am standing up to defend us oldsters.

Old people don’t need someone to tell them that they are sick because of choices they made or stresses they have.  With diet, exercise, worthwhile activities, prayer–a wholesome life–people get sick. Old age is wearing out. Some wear out sooner than others.  What is, is. I felt better when I quit letting anyone intimidate me about why I am sick or about wrong choices I made. What is, is means doing the best with what I can now do, and celebrating life without looking back at mistakes. The forward lens is much cleaner than the backward lens, but I have to admit it is an adventure requiring creativity. We were all created with creativity by a creative God of with.

You can subscribe to Jim’s Daily Awakenings at Chapelwood.org

Helping Persons With Disabilities to Safety

Disabilities often change rescue procedures. New statistics tell us that in the United and States and Canada, one in five persons has a disability. In light of the many storms and major emergency events in the last three years, volunteer responders as well as parents and caring individuals must know how to quickly procede in helping  them to safety and how to protect them after rescue.

This is the theme of my new book Quick Look for Volunteer Emergency Responders, A Guide for Aiding Persons with Disabilities that will be available on amazon.com soon.  Soon could mean two or three weeks if I’m lucky. This is my first brush with marketing a book myself, and it turned into a steep learning curve, and I wouldn’t have made the last image step without my son, Paul, who pulled me out of the last throes of despair. If you have never listed a book on Amazon, you would be amazed at the number of screens you must look at simultaneously or else print them out.  Finally (since my big screen computer is injured), I printed out 26 pages to use as work sheets.

On a lighter note, the big Houston storm today did not flood me. Good news note is I get my big Mac back tomorrow and a great guy is going to get the half a million files transfered to it. Yes !  Yes! Yes! Look for the sunshine of my smile down this way.

Emergency Rescue of Disabled a Priority

Emergency Responders Need Ways to Help Persons Who Are Disabled.

A disaster or emergency happens every day somewhere, and volunteers who work with persons with disabilities can now find aids to keeping those persons safe and calm. My new book Quick Look  For Volunteer Emergency Responders, A Guide for Aiding Persons With Disabilities will go on sale in two or three weeks from Amazon. com.  Handling the business end of publishing is new to me, so I had to take my time and do a LOT of learning. All my previous writing was handled  and promoted through a publisher, and this time I am the publisher called Ramps’nthings Press. This book is not a money maker for me, but will help a lot of people when it is used.  Mishandling of emergencies is not with malice; it is because no one knew what to do both during the emergency and afterwards.

Caregivers for persons who are homebound will find suggestions for keeping their charges safe, and anyone working with persons with disabilities will find tips on dealing with seizures.  Then there’s the matter of power outages, and we all know nothing is more scary than a completely black room or building, so there are suggestions on dealing with this. Maybe I’m prejudiced, but I think this book is fantastic and will sell fast.

Who makes accessible refrigerators?

Only one accessible refrigerator-top-freezer appeared after two full days of shopping. Kenmore makes an ADA approved one. It will be delivered this week after I have a formal funeral for my thirty year old GE with door ice maker that served me crushed or cubed.  I love ice!!!  The new Kenmore does not offer this feature, but has an ice maker within the freezer.  I kept repairing my old ice maker for years hoping that manufacturers would get the message, but, alas, we are the minority voice, and I understand that top freezers are not their best sellers. Any of you wheel chair users out there fallen into the bottom drawer freezers?

On other fronts, last Monday’s big Houston storm fried my external hard drive, modem, etc and got my internet as well as my entertainment center and one phone. In the transfer to my lap top for a while, I found some old, overlooked comments from some of you. I apologize, and will get back to you immediately.Experts say that lightning skips around, and now I believe it.  The hail also got my roof, so I am starting 2012 with new equipment.

Parking Can Be A Handicap

My message today is for the person who wrote a message for me on my car’s rear window, the person who doesn’t understand how hard it is to park a van with a wheelchair ramp.
There are never enough spots, and there are almost never van parking spots with eight feet of slash lines to let me get out of the van. When I have to circle the lot again and again, I wait until two regular spots open up and I park across both of them at an angle giving me two things: 1 enough room to get out of the van and 2. to prevent anyone from parking next to me so I can’t leave when i want to. Did that today at the grocery store where there were plenty single slots. This tells me that I didn’t prevent anyone from getting a space, but that the man who wrote on my window is a grump.

Since sitting low makes me invisible to drivers, I took my life in my hands wheeling through traffic coming and going. When I got back to my car,  someone had written, “Great job parking” on one side of the window and “Wash me” on the other.  Had my car detailed three days ago, you know, the day before it rained.

I have a suggestion for the man who didn’t like my parking. Instead of getting your finger dirty on my window, try writing the owners of the malls to get them to provide more parking, and get city council to regulate how the stripes and slashes can be painted. Wouldn’t take much time. Maybe two years. There is a lot to be said about it, and many ears are closed on the subject.

While I’m on the subject: the worst parking is Houston Town and Country Post Office that has absolutely not one van parking place. Forest Park Westheimer Funerals have a few parking slots, but no place to park your wheel chair in the chapel or the mausoleum except the aisle. (Guess who goes down the aisle.) Additionally, there is only one, crude ramp to make any graves or services accessible.  How do people get by with this?  I chose not to buy burial plots there, but I think they didn’t notice.

Just finished my Christmas shopping, so I’m thinking of going down to Car Masseusse to get my car cleaned up again so as not to offend anyone.