Editor's Column - August 2002

I would like to thank everyone advertisers and contributors of recollections for their generosity in putting together this month’s anniversary issue.  We have scattered the reminiscences throughout the paper and the ads can be seen on pp. 8 and 9.  As we begin another year, we look back on an exciting but difficult year at Access Press.  There is still a lot of work to do, but we are looking forward to the challenge.  With your help, Access Press will continue to be the voice of the disability community.

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On the 12th anniversary of the ADA, Kathy Hagen has written a very precise piece on several ADA cases.  All these cases are setting ADA precedents and they are very important to our community’s future.  Kathy has also added some very insightful thoughts on how she believes the ADA has changed for the good over the last year.  We thank her for keeping a close eye on these cases and keeping us informed.

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The governor’s race will be heating up and we will all need to keep questioning the candidates on their stands on critical issues:  affordable housing, enforcement of the ADA and IDEA regulations, employment opportunities for people with disabilities, increased accessible transportation, and a commitment to increased wages for personal care attendants.  To get things started, we have asked each gubernatorial candidate three fundamental questions focused on the disability community and on what they have done, and what they will do if elected.

Next month we hope to look much closer at the Senate race.

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This month one of our longtime advertisers Handi Medical Supply is highlighted in an article on page 4.  While studying nursing and working as a PCA, Mary Benhardus became frustrated with medical suppliers.  She started Handi, a successful business, on her own.  In the future we hope to highlight other longtime advertisers.

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At the recent local ADA conference, it was incredible to visit with so many people with disabilities and people that work in the disability community all of whom are excited about the future.  The two keynote speakers, Judy Heumann and Allison Nichol, were very instructive.  The morning question-and-answer session with the speakers was a real treat.  There was plenty of time to answer most questions, although it was difficult to hear everything.  We will be featuring an article on Judy Heumann’s speech next month.

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Chris Duff brings up an issue related to the ADA conference in a Letter to the Editor (below).  He makes some good points, but we all need to go further.  We must stay aware of disabilities that are less common or less apparent.  For example, we should ban fragrances on behalf of those with chemical sensitivities.  We also need to remember our own responsibility.  If we ask for special accommodations and are then unable to attend, we should contact the venue ASAP to cancel.  To do otherwise reflects badly on us, and can be a waste of time and money for those involved.  The conference coordinators did their best to provide accommodations and should be applauded:  the nurse’s office was available as a place to rest or get medical attention, specially hired PCAs were on-site to assist all, and bottled water was available.

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August is State Fair time.  Mike Chevrette has written a fun and informative article about accessibility at the Fair.  It is good information for anyone who is looking forward to an enjoyable visit to the Great Minnesota Get-Together.  Read about it on page 3.

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Thanks again to our desktop publisher, Ellen Houghton, for another Spirituality Column and a comprehensive recollection of her years with Access Press.

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Please help us again this year by filling out our Reader Survey on page 13.  Last year’s surveys have been influential in decisions made about the content and format of the paper.  A free subscription (or extension of a current subscription) will be your gift for a completed and returned survey.  Your input is a very valuable tool.