"Newsletter – September 2005" table of contents
NEWSLETTER UPDATE – SEPTEMBER, 2005
FROM PHYLLIS F. RESNICK, PRESIDENT
TO OUR MEMBERS IN LOUISIANA, MISSISSIPPI AND ALABAMA:
On behalf of all of us at “Access Now, Inc.” and our members, please allow us to express our heartfelt wishes to all of you and your loved ones who have suffered and are continuing to suffer the disaster of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. We deeply hope that, at least by the time we send our next newsletter (approximately 6 or 7 months from now), if not sooner, we will have learned that you are all well on your way to recovery and that your new and, we hope, vastly improved life will have begun!
HELLO, AGAIN, EVERYBODY!!!!!
It has now been seven months since our last newsletter and we have several cases and other items of interest to report. Many of our larger cases, such as those involving hospitals and municipalities, are proceeding, but of course, as we are sure you can understand, those types of cases take a very, very long time to come to conclusion; more on those later in this newsletter. As you will see further along herein, where we acknowledge the achievements of other disability advocacy groups, the passage of several years from the inception of a case to its conclusion is not unique to “Access Now, Inc.” It is just the nature of litigation.
However, we at “Access Now” take pride in the fact that we do not limit our efforts to the high profile cases of first impression, but do, in fact, become involved in many, many small cases which have a great impact on the daily lives of members of the disabled community. Entities such as grocery stores, hotels, motels, restaurants, shops, gas stations and the like continue to fail to comply with the A.D.A. (Americans With Disabilities Act), despite the fact that the law was enacted in 1990. Therefore, we continue to receive complaints daily from disabled persons who are routinely being denied their rights under this civil rights law. Some of those which we have undertaken and which have been settled will be detailed later in this newsletter.
AS AN INTRODUCTION TO OUR WORK, FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO ARE NEW TO US, WE WOULD LIKE TO BEGIN WITH THE FOLLOWING LETTER SENT TO A MEMBER
This letter was received by James Lawson, a member and plaintiff in Oklahoma.(Those of you who received our February, 2005 newsletter will have read the fine letter which we received from James and subsequently re-printed.) The author of the letter herein (slightly edited) is a man with loss of vision in Ponca City, Oklahoma, a town about 60 miles north of James’ home in Stillwater. It shows that, although we are making progress, there is still a lot of work to be done in the educational and legal arenas. We want to share it with all of you:
May 5, 2005
We have heard many fine things about you and your work in achieving benefits for the disabled and handicapped. We have been working many years in attempting the same, but you have done more in a few months than we in those years. Dave keeps us informed of your activities. You are a blessing to all of us.
We do now have ramps in nearly every part of our city. I asked some time back for audible signals and was told they would check into the cost. A bit later they told me they would try to get them as money became available. As of now we still have none. I have forwarded this article to many of our staff and members. It is time for us to contact the city commissioners again.
Representative Jim Newport has been very supportive of us. I contacted him asking for a bill to raise the distance between a person with a white cane and an oncoming car be amended to 7 feet as it is in Texas, instead of 3 feet we had. He worked with us so well and did get the distance raised to 15 feet.
A group of us attended a televised meeting of the city commissioners about the time the law went into effect. We outlined the change and commented on the law, the rights and responsibility of both the person using the cane as well as the drivers. Also our police chief posed with some of our members and the Lions, our sponsors for a picture announcing the new amendment to the law. The picture appeared in our local newspaper Sunday. We have had the police chief make a presentation for our group, as well as at different times a patrolman and a detective. This gives them an opportunity to outline their duties, as well as we get to tell them our needs. Our mayor has also been a guest speaker. We feel each contact we make is helpful to our program.
It is humbling to realize that in a few months you have achieved more than we have in our 4 years. We appreciate what you are doing and would like to keep in contact with you. Please send any information you have to me. I have attempted to get our cable system to broadcast SAP, descriptive TV programs and had little luck with it. I got promises and one channel so far. When I checked back with them was told I was the only person that had ever approached them about it. It seemed they thought I was the only one concerned. I told the station manager that I represented a fairly large group and could easily have forty people in his office the next day that would use the service. He agreed that was not needed, that he would immediately check into getting it installed. About that time we had some personal family difficulties and so my attention has not been on TV. Dave and you are an inspiration to all of us and we will get back in the saddle again.
Keep the good work up and know we appreciate all you are doing.