Sunday, August 19, 2012

Disability Defined

Disability as Defined by the ADA

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal civil rights law that prohibits employment discrimination against "qualified individuals with disabilities."

Determining who is a "qualified individual with a disability" is a complicated process. Under the ADA an individual has a disability and is protected by the law if he or she has an "impairment" that "substantially limits" one or more "major life activities."

What is an impairment?
The concept of "impairment" includes physiological as well as mental or psychological conditions. A physiological impairment is a disorder or condition, a cosmetic disfigurement or an anatomical loss affecting any of the major body systems. A psychological or mental impairment includes most disorders, such as mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness and special learning disabilities. Under this inclusive definition of "impairment" a broad range of conditions have been protected under the ADA, including:

Back problems
Mobility Impairments
Think, concentrate and interact with others

What does "substantially limits" mean?
The impairment must "substantially limit" one or more major life activities. A substantial limitation is more than inconvenient or bothersome. Determining whether an impairment is substantially limiting is done on a case-by-case basis.

What is a major life activity?
The term "major life activity" has been expansively defined. Court Decisions in various jurisdictions now include the ability to:

Provide self-care
Perform manual tasks
See, hear, speak
Sit or stand
Lift or reach
Think, concentrate and interact with others

Is it still a disability if medication corrects the deficiencies caused by the impairment?
The determination of whether an individual's major life activities are "substantially limited" must take into account the effects of "mitigating measures."

The Supreme Court has emphasized that impairment must in fact limit an individual in their life. For example, individuals with severe depression are not protected by the law if medication allows them to perform their jobs without exhibiting any symptoms. A person with corrective lenses is not disabled if the glasses enable him or her to see. However, an individual with polio who wears a brace may still be disabled despite the fact that the brace enables participation in a number of physical activities, because the brace also limits the range of motion and causes a limp.

Who is a "qualified employee?"
An individual with a disability must also be qualified in order to be protected from discrimination by the ADA. A person with a disability is a qualified if he or she meets the legitimate skills, experience, education or other requirements of the position he or she seeks or holds.

Reprinted by permission of author Contributing: Jane Howard-Martin is a graduate of Harvard Law School and has practiced employment law for 15 years.
E-mail her at
Copyright 2002. Jane Howard-Martin. This article should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances. State employment laws vary; make sure to check what those laws are.


I grabbed this article from:

A Challenge to CNN

I really would like to see CNN produce a documentary focusing on people with disabilities in America.
Over 50 million men, women, and children live with a disability in America. This makes people with disabilities the largest minority group in the US. However, this population is very seldom discussed or featured in the news media.
It is far past the time that a networ, such as CNN, should develop and air a program that showcases the history, struggles, and triumphs of this unique, yet diverse population.
I challenge CNN to shine a spotlight on a population that is often forgot about, misunderstood, and shunned for their differences.
I'm sure a network that has been on the forefront of special programming, such as Black in America and Latino in America, will do a great job at developing and producing a documentary on the Disabled in America.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Vanessa L. Williams; Glad I got a chance to see her!

**Walk down memory lane.**

One Sunday morning, I was the first in my family to wake up and get out of bed. I slid out of the bed carefully to make sure I didn’t wake up my unwanted bedmate, my little sister, Paula. I went to the restroom to wash my face. I decided to wait to brush my teeth, being that I was about to go in the kitchen to fix me a bowl of Fruity Pebbles. I felt that it was pointless to brush your teeth before you eat breakfast. I would later learn in life that whoever is eating breakfast with you would certainly appreciate the pre-breakfast brushing.
When I got to the kitchen, I noticed a magazine on the kitchen table that I hadn’t seen before. Well, let me rephrase that. I had never seen that magazine in our house before. It was a Penthouse Magazine. I immediately recognized the title, being that I would see copies of Penthouse, Playboy, and Hustler magazines behind the counter at the convenience store in our neighborhood. However, the magazines I would see at the convenience store would have the racy images on the cover of the magazine blanketed with an opaque sheet of paper. The only thing you could consistently see on the magazine was the title and the issue date. Every now and then you could see the smiling face of a young, white woman, who obviously had something on or did not have something on that could legally be revealed to young or unwanted eyes.
That morning, right there in my kitchen was my first time actually seeing the entire cover of the magazine. I stared at the magazine, wondering how in the world did it get in our kitchen. And then it finally struck me. That was the Penthouse Magazine that was all over the news that month. On my kitchen table lied the magazine that contained the nude photos of our first African American Miss America. A few days before, I heard Daddy and Mama say they wondered how racy the pictures really were. I guess they decided to buy a magazine and take a look for themselves.
I looked over my shoulder to see if anyone had entered the kitchen without me hearing them. And then I slowly inched closer to the magazine.
“Should I take a peek?” I thought.
I had seen plenty of nude breasts on HBO when my parents were sleep, but this was different. I had never looked at nude photos in a magazine. And I certainly never would’ve thought that I would get a chance to see Vanessa Williams’ infamous nude photos. But that morning, I had the opportunity to take a sneak peek into a magazine that was making headlines all over the world.
I touched the cover of the magazine with the tips of my fingers.
“Okay… I didn’t burst into flames.” I thought.
I stood there, wondering if I was going to be bold enough to open the magazine. It was just something about being caught looking in a girlie magazine that caused me to fear for my very life. If God didn’t kill me, I figured that Mama would.
“Okay… I’ll take my chances. They shouldn’t have left it out on the table.” I thought.
I opened the first page and started to quickly flip through the rest. Pictures and pictures of beautiful and not so beautiful women were staring back at me. Some had on bikini bating suits, while others were topless. Some looked like they were looking playful, while others looked outright intense. I wondered why these women would allow someone to take pictures of them and sell them in magazines.
As my mind was racing, I finally stumbled upon the photos of Vanessa Williams. There she was, looking comfortable as she posed in front of a camera with bare breast in a rather sensual manner. My mind yanked forward the image of her standing in front of the crowd at the Miss America pageant, being crowned as the first African American Miss America. She was so beautiful. And there’s no doubt, in that very proud moment, I wished that I could look and be just like her. But now, as I stood face to face with an image of a naked Vanessa Williams, I had a different feeling. I still thought she was beautiful. And I hoped that I could one day have a body as perfect as hers looked in these photos, but I didn’t want to immolate this particular image of Vanessa Williams. However, I was not ashamed of her. I was still proud that she was our first African American Miss America. And as far as I was concerned, she would always be the first.
I quickly scanned through the rest of the pictures of Vanessa Williams and the other naked girls and placed the magazine back in the same spot it was on the table.
That morning, I decided that the image of Vanessa Williams with the crown on her head was the one that I would forever assign to my initial recollection of her. . Naked Vanessa Williams was definitely interesting, but it wasn’t as intriguing as the beautiful woman that earned the title of Miss America.
As I walked away from the table and headed for the pantry to grab the box of cereal, my mother came walking into the kitchen to fix the babies something to eat. Fear gripped me.
“Oh, my God. Did she see me?”
But my mother registered the same look of fear in her eyes when she noticed the magazine on the table that was just a few short feet away from her ten-year-old daughter. She greeted me and asked what was I doing as she tried to subtly grab the magazine off the table. I made sure to not look at the magazine or my mother as I started pouring my cereal in a bowl on the kitchen counter.
“Just fixing me a bowl of cereal. That’s all.”
When I turned around, Mama was still there, but she somehow made the magazine disappear.
“What did she do with it?” I wondered.
I never saw that magazine again. That issue of Penthouse Magazine went down in history as being not only the magazine that published nude photos of Vanessa Williams, but also the first and last pornographic magazine I would ever see in my life. And strangely enough, I don’t have any regrets for taking a peek into the taboo magazine.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Waffle Fries, Same Sex Marriage, Jesus, and the All Mighty Dollar (Yes, I know. Strange bedfollows.)

If you haven't been living under a rock for the last couple of weeks, I'm sure you've already heard about the Chick-Fil-A controversy regarding same sex marriage, spawned by the comments made by the fast-food chain's CEO, Dan Cathy.

Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas and ex-GOP presidential candidate proposed a Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day to demonstrate support for the Christian company. Chick-Fil-A was said to have racked in the doh that day.

My first thought was that the infamous appreciation day was just as ridiculous as the proposed boycott of the sanctified poultry proposed by gay rights activists around the country. I honestly was thinking that it is absolutely coo coo to gobble up some waffle fries to prove your support of Jesus, and the same level of coo coo for those that deny themselves a chicken wrap in the name of gay love.

But as I sat down and thought about it, I wondered how would I feel about the CEO of any major company if they said that they do not believe that black people should marry white people, or disabled people should not get a chance to have and parent children, or women shouldn't make the same amount of money as men for the same job. I would be outraged, to say the least. There is no doubt that I would refuse to patronize that business until that CEO was removed.

So, finally, when I brought it down to my level, I was able to better understand why the gay community is so up in arms.

Now, here's the interesting thing for me and Chick-Fil-A... I don't really like their food that much. I don't dislike it. I just don't really prefer it. So, if I never eat at Chick-Fil-A again, I will be just fine. So, me stating that I'm never going to eat their again because of the statements made by their CEO would actually be as phony as a chicken nugget being passed off as holy communion. The likelihood is that I probably will not eat there, but it has very little to do with homosexuals, marriage equality, or religious convictions. And if by chance I do patronize Chick-Fil-A and order their awesome Lemonade-tea or fantastic cubed ice, I'm not going to be making a personal political and/or religious statement either. The only statement I'll be making is a choice made by pure convenience.

What's the lesson in all of this?
Business owners and CEO's: Do yourself and your business a favor. Keep your mouth shut regarding social issues, especially if the issue expresses prejudice, discrimination, racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, or ethnocentricism. Yes, you may indeed stay in business and continue to make lots of money. However, you go down in the history books on the wrong side of the issue. Plus, you open yourself to scrutiny you may not be prepared to publically discuss. Ask Bishop Eddie Long about that.

Do I think that Dan Cathy has a right to feel the way he does? Yep. However, I think it is important for Cathy and any other business executive to recognize how their personal views may impact the organizations they work for and represent if they decide to go public with what they think.

Postscript: While researching this story, I learned of the passing of Don Perry, the founder of Chick-FilA. He passed away in the middle of all this controversy. While I think that his company's current CEO made a bad move from a PR perspective, I do respect and appreciate the work that Don Perry did with his restaurant. It is my prayer that he rest in peace.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Another Edition of my Random Thoughts

Here are a few of my random thoughts about very specific things.

1. One of my favorite things to do is make my nieces and nephew laugh. Whether it's by telling funny jokes, making weird faces, dancing silly, or by tickling them, as long as I get them to laugh, I'm happy. The biology of humor has always been interesting to me, especially the tickling sensation. Tonight, I decided to use Google to try to find out what is happening in our brain when we laugh. I found a pretty neat article on the subject on the web. I thought I would share.

2. This week, I went to my state's voc rehab agency to apply for services. There's no doubt that I was a bit uncomfortable. There's something about unloading all of your personal business to someone that will document it in a system that can be accessed by all of your former co-workers. It's rather unfair, in my opinion. There should be some kind of way to lock my info down to maintain my privacy, especially since I've had a dual relationship with the agency. Oh, well...

3. A couple weeks ago, I found out that I didn't get selected for a job I really, really wanted. I did get a phone interview, but that was about it. I wish I knew what it was I needed to possess to get called in for a face to face interview for that position. I hope I have better luck with the jobs I plan to apply for in the coming weeks.

4. I'm still working on my memoir. I've written about 120 pages. My plan is to complete the manuscript before I try to shop it to a literary agent. Hopefully, I'll be finished with the first draft of this project before November 1st.

5. I kind of sort of experienced a break up of sorts this week. While it is painful to let someone go, there are times when it really is the best thing to do. I wish we could still be friends, although I'm not sure if that's possible. In my rather narrow perspective, I believe that people who love each other should be able to love each other in and under varying circumstances. Just because the definition of the relationship changes, that shouldn't mean that the love has to disappear. Maybe it doesn't.. disappear. Perhaps some people only know how to demonstrate their love with certain people in a very limited way. I'm not sure... I'll admit to being a bit unsure of myself when it comes to issues of love and romance when I'm one of the individuals in the said relationship.

6. Someone I love very much has cancer. Every day, all day, I pray for her. It's so hard for me to consider the future. The idea of her not being present is far too much to handle. So, I will continue to look ahead, only one year at a time. Sadly, I've been doing this every since my mother had her first stroke. That's been about ten years now. So, I have plenty practice when it comes to limiting my range of imagination as it pertains to my future.
It is certainly my prayer that my family member is with us for years and years to come. God bless her and others as they battle cancer.

7. This week I found dozens and dozens of blogs that I want to take a look at. It's my plan to check out at least a blog a day for the next 30 days. As I find blogs that I really like, I'll post them to my blog roll.

8. I got a new bedroom group. It's cute! I'm really enjoying being in my room these days.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Something New

I'm so excited. I bought my three-year-old niece some flashcards to teach her how to identify the most common colors , shapes, numerals, and the alphabet. Because I wanted to be able to work with her myself, I put braille labels on the cards. Although I taught my other niece and nephew a great deal when they were in their pre-school stage, it was all verbal. This will be the first time that I have taken on the challenge to teach a child something that is so visual. So far, she and I are doing well. Wish us well as we both learn something new!

Angela Braden

P.S. I'm going to finish the second half of the Superwoman Syndrom post in the next 24 hours. Be on the lookout.