Tag Archives: life

We all benefit from the Americans With Disabilities Act

Shadow selfie in walking castSix weeks ago, I traded in my hiking boots for a walking cast when I fractured my right ankle. A glorious hiking season came to an abrupt end with one quick fall on a hiking trail.

Thankfully, the fracture wasn’t severe. I’m now in the process of transitioning out of the walking cast and set to begin physical therapy soon.

Two summers ago, I wasn’t as lucky. I heard a bone break when I took a fall on a forest path. My left ankle had fractured in several places and I had to have surgery to pin it back together. I spent eight weeks in a walking cast, followed by several months of physical therapy to regain strength and range of motion.

Both ankle injuries impacted my daily life. Two years ago, I had to rely on crutches to help me get around. This time I was able to get around with the aid of a cane. Stairs, hills and unpaved terrain were challenging, and sometimes impossible. Biking was out and so was working in the garden.

My temporary mobility impairment has given me a renewed appreciation for the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA prohibits discrimination and ensures equal opportunity for people with disabilities in employment, government services, public accommodations, commercial facilities, and transportation. It’s because of the ADA, that many (but not all) of our street corners have curb ramps, elevators and ramps are installed in our public facilities, and much more.

Skateboarder-curb-cut-400x305My neighborhood is a walkable one and I live within five blocks of grocery stores, banks, pharmacies, a hardware store, numerous restaurants and coffee shops, the farmers market, and the transit center. I can walk to almost any service in about five minutes—until I broke my ankle. With the cane, my travel time is now about ten minutes. When I had to rely on crutches it took even longer. Crutching was also taxing on my shoulders and arms.

But the point is I can still get around. Those curb ramps make it easier for me to cross streets in a walking cast and crutches/cane. For someone in a wheelchair, curb ramps make it POSSIBLE to cross a street on their own. Likewise for kneeling transit buses. They greatly improve bus access for people with limited mobility.

Who else benefits from these ADA accessibility improvements? Everyone. Delivery people with hand trucks, teens on skateboards and parents with strollers use curb ramps at street intersections all the time. People with rolling luggage and shoppers with rolling carts take advantage of the kneeling buses. Wheelchair users need ramps and elevators to access train stations, overhead walkways and multi-story buildings. But plenty of other folks use elevators and ramps for convenience.

ADA improvements make our neighborhoods and communities friendlier for everyone. From wheelchair users and people with limited vision to parents with toddlers to the elderly, we all benefit.

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Turn your face to the sun

I recently spent a week backpacking in a remote region of the Washington Cascades. My hiking partner and I were on the trail for three days before we encountered another soul. Now that’s some solitude.

We rose each morning and looked eastward for the sun. There were wildfires burning north of us in Canada and sometimes our early sunshine was smoke-hazy. On this particular morning, the last day of our trip, Steve faced the sun and saluted it with this yoga pose.

Meeting nature on her terms can be a humbling experience. I am reminded how small I am in the world and how vulnerable we humans are in a wild, natural environment. But immersing myself in this wild place is also renewing and uplifting. Time spent in the great outdoors clears my head and nourishes my spirit.

Mother Nature forces us to take a break from work and politics

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Today Mother Nature gave us a snow day in Seattle. It was a much needed respite from the political havoc that has descended upon this nation since the transition to a Republican administration.

snowmanFor at least a few hours, many Seattleites opted to shun news, social media and work to play in the snow. Instead of turning on the morning news programs, we walked through neighborhoods blanketed with snow. We tuned out the tweets in favor of building snowmen. We took a day off work to sled with our kids.

For those who eschew winter, the snow day was a perfect time to ignore current events and cozy up to a fire. We used the down time to catch up on some reading or finish a knitting project. It was a chance to watch a movie that we added to our Netflix list months ago.

Thanks, Mother Nature. We really needed this break today. Tomorrow will be a new day.

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