Edmonton Woman Wants Change After She, Her Service Dog Were Left Waiting for a Taxi

Alison MacKinnon
CTV News Edmonton
Updated Dec. 28, 2022

Marla Smith and her service dog Kuno like to spend time doing things around the city, so she’s not very happy about being left at Rogers Place last Friday with no ride.

“I booked for a 6 p.m. cab to get us for the 7 p.m. game and I booked for a 10:15 p.m. pickup and they did advise it could be up to 40 minutes after that,” she explained.

Despite being a few minutes late to the game, the drop-off worked out well. But the pick up proved disastrous.

Smith, her friend and Kuno were all left waiting for hours. So they called the taxi-line.

“Finally getting through to somebody I explained we’ve been waiting since 10:15 p.m. You know, ‘Now we’re at 90 minutes not 40 minutes. What are we looking at?’ And they came back with, ‘Well we’re having trouble getting a pet friendly unit that can take the service dog,'” Smith recalled.

Kuno has government identification proving he’s a service dog, which means under Alberta’s service dog act, Kuno can use any cab whether it’s pet friendly or not.

After telling the dispatcher that, Smith said the explanation from Co-op Taxi changed.

“Suddenly the story was, ‘Well my taxis, I’ve only got two of them, one’s in the north end, one’s in Acheson. You’re looking at another 60 to 90 minutes you should probably call another company,'” Smith said.

So that’s what Smith did and an hour later she had her cab.

“I’m a pretty capable and competent person. All of a sudden one person doesn’t give me the accommodation or the accessibility and I’m rendered completely powerless and vulnerable,” Smith said.

She shared her ordeal on social media, leading to a backlash and calls to boycott the company, but Smith says that further hinders her community.

“That just hurts the ability for people to get the accessible transportation they need. We need more of this. What we need is standards and education,’ she said.

CTV News Edmonton reached out to Co-op taxi for an interview but the company did not respond to multiple requests.

Original at https://edmonton.ctvnews.ca/edmonton-woman-wants-change-after-she-her-service-dog-were-left-waiting-for-a-taxi-1.6211069

Funding Announced for 47 New Affordable, Accessible Residential Units in Saint John

Leigha Kaiser
CTVNewsAtlantic.ca writer
Published Dec. 21, 2022

A funding announcement in the amount of $16 million will help with the creation of 47 new residential units in Saint John, N.B.

Construction on the six-storey apartment building, located at 7 Wellington Row, is currently underway.

The building will feature 47 residential units, including half of the homes with rents geared to income for non-elderly singles and persons with disabilities.

A news release from the City of Saint John says three of the one-bedroom units will be fully accessible and the entire building is designed to the universal design standard, including common areas and apartment suites.

“Saint John, like many communities across the country, is facing a housing crisis. All levels of government must work together to create solutions for this challenge,” said Saint John Mayor Donna Noade Reardon in the news release.

“The Wellington aligns with Saint John’s Affordable Housing Action Plan by providing both affordable and market rate housing. It will be built to international Passive House energy standards and will be one of the most sustainable buildings in Eastern Canada.”

Combined funding for the project is as follows:

  • $11.5 million from the federal government through the National Housing Co-Investment Fund
  • $960,000 from the provincial government through Affordable Rental Housing Program and approximately $2.85 million over 20 years in rent supplement funding
  • $471,984 from the City of Saint John through the Construction Challenges and Building Permit Grant and the Residential Density Grant
  • $150,000 from Rotary Senior Citizens Ltd.

The site for the new units is located in the city’s downtown core, with close proximity to many amenities, including transit, grocery stores, community centres, health services and more.

The province says part-time, on-site support will be available for those with intellectual disabilities through L’Arche Saint John. The main level of the development will also include office and restaurant space.

“Housing issues are a priority for the provincial government. That is why we are pleased to support various projects and initiatives to help provide more housing options to New Brunswickers, from single individuals to families and seniors,” said Dorothy Shephard, the minister of Social Development.

The Wellington will be one of the first apartment complexes constructed to the Passive House design standard in Atlantic Canada. It will significantly reduce the building’s ecological footprint and require little energy for heating and cooling.

Construction is expected to be complete in spring 2023.

Original at https://atlantic.ctvnews.ca/funding-announced-for-47-new-affordable-accessible-residential-units-in-saint-john-1.6204113

Canada’s Policies are a Death Sentence for Disabled People. The Country Must Reckon with its Modern Eugenics

The way this country’s policies affect disabled people like me is a matter of life and death, writes Dev Ramsawakh. DR
By Dev RamsawakhContributor
Sat., Dec. 24, 2022

Last year, I wrangled a meeting with a producer at a media organization I’d worked with in the past to address my concerns with a new diversity outreach strategy. While they were trying to create networking opportunities and entry points for marginalized workers in the industry, it still only benefited those with the most privilege. I’ve seen and experienced the ways that marginalized people, especially if they were disabled, were pushed out of universities and workplaces, and thus unable to get the credentials or experience needed to even be considered.

After hours of back and forth and tearful recollections of personal traumatic experiences, I realized that most people don’t understand how employment discrimination is just a single gear in the clockwork that is oppression.

That meeting may have been with one company in one industry, but our social structures don’t exist in isolation of each other.

For many disabled people, employment access isn’t just about whether we can chase our dream jobs. Stable employment can make the difference between surviving and suffering.

This and other policy failures, for us, is life or death – and that’s intentional.

Eugenics – a movement to “improve the human race” through selective breeding and elimination – is based on who society decides is or isn’t valuable. It ensures only those that are deemed desirable have access to the resources needed to not just succeed, but survive.

As a disabled person who also faces discrimination against my other identities, navigating the world has made me acutely aware of how policies and legislation shrinks the chances of not only my survival, but that of all disabled people. And these systems are interlocked.

Take employment for example – it impacts our access to health care. I’ve been quite happy being self-employed, but health insurance is much more affordable as part of a workplace group benefits plan. Without coverage, I’ve had to earn enough to cover my expenses, plus my constantly growing medical expenses.

If you’re too disabled to work, your only option for medical coverage is social assistance, which in every province, doesn’t meet the poverty line. Disabled people experience poverty at higher rates than nondisabled people, according to Statistics Canada.

There is already a housing crisis and this is made worse for disabled people, who face steeper costs for accessible housing. It’s no surprise that there’s a high prevalence of disability for homeless people. Homelessness and poverty hurt both physical and mental health, yet encampment evictions remain the priority in Toronto.

Eugenics requires the elimination of undesirable groups, and policies like these create government-mandated poverty that ultimately leads to death. Throughout society, the dehumanization of disabled people is generally accepted.

As these roadblocks remain, the Canadian government has continued to clear a way for medical assistance in dying (MAID) for disabled people. Several stories of those who have chosen MAID speak about struggling with poverty. The government planned to expand the eligibility to include nonterminal conditions such as mental illness as of March 2023. Just recently justice minister David Lametti sought to delay the expansion after intense criticism. But there are still no real plans to improve social services and financial support.

But it seems that governments are allowing COVID-19 to produce the same results.

During the pandemic, Ontario’s solution to overloaded hospital ICUs was a triage protocol that meant disabled people in need of life-saving care could be denied. It presumed an inherent lesser social value in saving disabled lives.

And having abandoned public health measures, there’s an added burden on the system. And the decline of public health becomes an excuse to privatize Ontario health care.

Original at https://www.thestar.com/opinion/2022/12/24/canadas-policies-are-a-death-sentence-for-disabled-people-the-country-must-reckon-with-its-modern-eugenics.html

Members of Disability Community Support Development of Accessibility Legislation: Report

22 December 2022
FREDERICTON (GNB) – The select committee on accessibility in New Brunswick says the province’s disability community strongly supports development of accessibility legislation, and the committee agrees this is the correct first step toward creating an accessible province.

The all-party committee of the legislative assembly was charged with conducting consultations with stakeholders, as well as government departments involved with the disability community, and reporting to the house with recommendations.

An interim report entitled Nothing About Us, Without Us: Moving Together Towards an Accessible New Brunswick was tabled in the legislature on Friday, Dec.16.

“New Brunswickers are clearly passionate about their province and eager to build an accessible New Brunswick,” said Kathy Bockus, committee chair. “The report contains five recommendations which reflect and respond to the insightful input the committee received.

“The determination and knowledge of those who participated, along with the work they have already undertaken, is reason for optimism. All participants and committee members share the same goal: that every person, regardless of ability, may live fully with dignity and enjoy their right to self-determination in New Brunswick.”

The committee’s final report will be reserved to respond to draft legislation, which the committee has recommended be prepared by the end of May 2023.

Other members of the committee are Greg Turner, Richard Ames, Michelle Conroy, Ryan Cullins, Mike Dawson, Sherry Wilson, Benoît Bourque, Francine Landry, Gilles LePage and David Coon.

The committee’s report is available online.

Media Contact(s)
Shayne Davies, clerk of the Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick, 506-453-2506.

Original at https://www2.gnb.ca/content/gnb/en/news/news_release.2022.12.0724.html

The Latest Android Update Is Bad News for Accessibility Users

Change prompts a ‘devastated’ columnist to search the internet for workarounds by Brianna Albers | December 19, 2022

I could tell it was going to be a bad day.

I woke up to an overdraft notice from my bank, which is never a good sign. Then I realized something was wrong with my phone. I’d updated it the day before, but hadn’t used it since then, so the changes took me by surprise.

Years ago, when I first switched from Apple to Android, my reasoning was simple: Android offered accessibility features that Apple did not. For almost a decade, I’d made do with the “assistive touch” feature available on the iPhone, but as my SMA progressed, I found myself needing things that Apple didn’t offer.

You can understand my delight upon discovering the “assistant menu” feature that came with most Androids. To put it simply, it allowed me to use my phone as I might a computer, complete with a touch-screen mouse pad and cursor. It worked like a dream, ensuring that I was able to use my phone for years to come, in spite of disease progression.

Of course, nothing is ever that simple.

According to Spotify Wrapped, I’m Allergic to Silence
The assistant was exactly what I needed, but it didn’t address all of my problems. For one thing, I couldn’t type very well. My phone screen was so large that I couldn’t reach the opposite side of the keyboard. As a writer, this was a dealbreaker. I needed to be able to jot down ideas no matter where I was or what I was doing. Not to mention all the texting!

Unfortunately, there didn’t seem to be a solution. Phone screens were getting bigger by the day. I learned to make do with what I had. Then I discovered “one-handed mode.”

For those who don’t have an Android, one-handed mode allows you to reduce the size of your phone screen so you can reach everything with one hand. With the press of a button, my phone keyboard shrank to half its original size. It was magical. I could type with ease for the first time in years!

To put it in perspective, probably a quarter of this year’s columns were written on my phone, usually in the car or a waiting room. Talk about productivity!

I wasn’t expecting the latest software update to alter the accessibility settings, but it did. I could no longer use the assistant menu in conjunction with one-handed mode. In fact, as far as I could tell, none of the accessibility features could be used with one-handed mode, which seemed to me like a grievous oversight. The whole point of accessibility is to mix and match features to meet your needs. What does it say to your disabled customers if you deny them the flexibility needed to make your products work for them?

I wasn’t just frustrated; I was devastated. Realistically, I would still be able to use my phone for basic functions such as communication and social media. But I would no longer be able to type for extended periods of time. It was a significant blow to my sense of freedom.

I spent the next hour looking for a workaround. I downloaded app after app, hoping I could recreate my precious one-handed mode. I even searched for alternative keyboards. But nothing allowed me to type as I had before the update.

Desperate, I Googled “how to shrink the size of your Android screen.” I didn’t expect to find anything, so I was surprised to discover that reducing the overall size of my phone text actually seemed to make a difference. It wasn’t perfect, but it made typing just a little bit easier.

I’m not saying the software developers didn’t have a reason for updating the accessibility features. I’m sure they did! But it’s disheartening to see a technology company that prides itself on its flexibility alienate a significant portion of their user base through something as simple as an update.

Just because I found a workaround doesn’t mean everyone will.

Thanks for reading! You can follow me on Instagram and Twitter, subscribe to my newsletter, or support me on Substack.

Original at https://smanewstoday.com/columns/latest-android-update-is-bad-news-accessibility-users/

Denied Long-Term Disability for Mental Health Issues: Your Rights

December 16, 2022

In Canada, long-term disability (LTD) claims for mental health issues make up the lion’s share of claims filed each year.

Despite mental disorders, such as depression and anxiety, being recognized as conditions that can affect your ability to do your job, many insurance companies still turn down legitimate claims.

By refusing to provide you with disability benefits, insurers are able to bolster their bottom line.

Not only does this prevent you from accessing crucial financial support, but it can add to the mental and emotional distress you are already dealing with before applying for disability benefits.

If you are struggling with a mental health issue, and your LTD claim was denied, don’t lose hope.

An experienced disability lawyer at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP can help you review your legal options.

What is an “invisible illness”?

In Canada, invisible illnesses are mental (sometimes physical) conditions that exist, but lack visible or quantifiable medical evidence to prove their existence.

Since it can be difficult to prove that an individual is suffering from depression, anxiety, or another mental health issue, insurance companies often use this as an excuse to deny LTD claims.

Example: A woman in Vancouver filed a long-term disability claim for depression. A few days later, her insurance company informed her over the phone that her claim had been denied. When she asked her insurer why they wouldn’t provide her with disability benefits, the representative said depression is subjective and that her self-report of her condition was insufficient.
Regardless of the reason that your insurance company gives you for turning down your LTD claim, it’s important to remember that their decision isn’t final.

You have a right to ask questions and learn more about why you were denied disability benefits.

An experienced disability lawyer at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP knows the right questions to ask and how to determine if the insurance company made mistakes when turning down your claim.

My insurer denied my claim, should I get the decision in writing?

It’s very important that you ask your insurance company for a denial letter. This document will explain why your LTD claim for mental health issues was turned down.

It should also cover:

How to appeal the insurer’s decision
The two-year time limit within which you can pursue a claim for compensation
Instead of sending you a denial letter, some insurance companies will try to tell you over the phone why you were denied or cut off disability benefits.

If this happens to you, don’t let your insurer end the call before confirming that they will also provide you with their decision in writing.

Once you receive the denial letter, gather any other relevant documents (i.e. your policy, application forms, etc.) and contact an experienced disability lawyer at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP.

We can review your situation, assess your legal options, and help you secure the compensation you deserve.

Before filing my claim, do I need supporting medical information from my doctor?

The short answer is yes. When filing an LTD claim, you have to submit a variety of forms to the insurance company, including a physician statement.

If your doctor says you can’t work because of a mental health issue, such as depression or anxiety, you should qualify for long-term disability benefits.

However, even with support from a medical professional, some insurers will argue that claimants aren’t following the proper treatment plan for their disability and turn down or prematurely close LTD claims.

Example: A man in Toronto told his doctor that he couldn’t work because he was struggling with severe anxiety. His physician told him to take a specific medication daily and to rest. After six months of being on long-term disability, his insurance company reached out to get an update on his treatment and to see if he was participating in counselling. The man explained that he was resting and taking the medication that his doctor prescribed. A few days later, he was informed that his disability benefits had been cut off. When he asked his insurer why he no longer had access to his LTD benefits, he was told it was because he wasn’t participating in counselling for his anxiety.
It’s a good idea to ask your doctor to provide you with referrals to as many treatment providers and specialists as possible.

The more medical documentation you can provide, the higher the likelihood that your LTD claim will be approved.

My long-term disability claim was denied, should I appeal?

If you are struggling with a mental health issue, and your LTD claim is denied, you are better off filing a legal claim instead of appealing.

The appeals process is typically handled by the same insurance company that refused to provide you with disability benefits in the first place.

There is no limit on the amount of times you can appeal. Insurers use this process to run out the clock on your ability to file a legal claim to get the compensation you are owed.

You have a two-year window to take legal action after your LTD claim is denied. Once the two years are up, the insurance company doesn’t have to pay your disability benefits and you can’t file a legal claim.

What should I do if I already appealed?

If you appealed the insurance company’s decision to turn down your long-term disability claim, and were unsuccessful, you may still have options.

As long as it hasn’t been two years since your LTD claim was denied, an experienced disability lawyer at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP can review your situation and help you secure the compensation that you are entitled to.

How we can help

If your long-term disability claim is denied, or you are cut off from your disability benefits, contact the experienced disability law team at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP.

We know the law and regularly resolve LTD, life insurance, and mortgage insurance claim denials across Canada (excluding Quebec).

Several of our lawyers previously worked for insurance companies, which means we know how they operate, why they make certain decisions, and how to enforce your rights.

We have helped thousands of clients, including Julie Austin and Sandra Bullock, hold insurers accountable after their claims were denied or cut off prematurely.

Our disability lawyers provide free consultations and we don’t get paid unless we secure the compensation that you are legally entitled to.

Get What You’re Owed

Contact Canada’s most positively reviewed disability and employment law firm today to get the advice you need and the compensation you deserve

Original at https://stlawyers.ca/blog-news/denied-ltd-mental-health-issues/

Paralympic Hockey Player Calls for Greater Accessibility in Ontario Ice Rinks

Billy Bridges forced to climb down stairs at Oakville rink
Devin Heroux, CBC Sports
Posted: Dec 14, 2022

Billy Bridges has witnessed so many advancements in the Paralympic movement from when he first started playing para hockey more than two decades ago.

He’s also watched as rinks across Canada have evolved into accessible spaces for persons with disabilities.

That’s why what happened at his seven-year-old daughter’s hockey practice a couple of weekends ago was that much more jarring.

“Nothing says ‘you still don’t belong here’ in hockey quite like being assigned a city rink to coach my daughter, that is still 100 per cent inaccessible,” Bridges said in a Twitter post on Dec. 3.

Bridges attached a video of himself in Team Canada gear having to traverse a number of steps in his sled from the ice to the main level of the rink.

“As soon as I wheeled in I noticed it was completely inaccessible. There are about six stairs that go down to the only doors that go down the ice,” Bridges told CBC Sports. “I think I was just taken aback. I hadn’t seen that in so long and luckily my disability allows me to overcome it but I really felt the need to address the situation.”

It just so happened to be United Nations’ International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

Bridges’ tweet has been liked and retweeted hundreds of times, and there have been just as many responses, including from Oakville officials.

A six-time Paralympian, Billy Bridges was recently in a hockey arena that was inaccessible, and he’s speaking out on how to fix that.

Colleen Bell, Oakville’s commissioner of community services, wrote to Bridges acknowledging they have “work to do with some of our older facilities.

“I want to assure you that we have capital plans in place to invest in continued improvements to meet our Oakville Universal Design Standards,” Bell wrote. “With respect to Kinoak Arena, an accessibility audit was done in 2019 to identify how the facility can be updated. Improvements to Kinoak Arena are planned for 2024 and include upgrades to multiple doors, public seating, change rooms, washrooms and more.

“In the meantime, our team will ensure that the automatic door operator is working properly and that there is a ramp to access the ice. ”

Bell said an immediate change is asking anyone booking rink activities in the city to share any accessibility accommodations so officials can direct them to a facility that can provide those needs.

But there have also been hate-filled direct messages sent his way.

“Some of that feedback reflects the systemic issue of accessibility in Canada and unfortunately sometimes in hockey,” he said. “There still isn’t a place for every single person to fully belong in hockey and it’s been a little unfortunate the DMs that I’ve received.”.

Bridges is tired of empty words that fall short of action – he’s lost count of how many times he’s been told he’ll just be put in a different rink to solve the problem.

“I’m kind of a little sick and tired of hearing that answer. I’d much rather have all public Ontario facilities to be a 100 per cent accessible for everybody who wants to use them.”

That’s why he took the moment to make a point of this experience in a very public way.

“I want every person who wants to to be able to take that first push on the ice and just fall in love with the sport the way I did,” Bridges said.

For the last 22 years Bridges has been at the forefront of Canada’s para ice hockey movement, even when many of the rinks he was practising in weren’t accessible and when Hockey Canada didn’t support the men’s para hockey program.

Born with spina bifida which limits his mobility, Bridges found a sense of belonging and purpose in his sled on the ice and playing wheelchair basketball.

His one-handed slap shot has been clocked at 80 km per hour and he’s the most prolific scorer in the history of the sport. Bridges has competed at six Paralympics for Canada, and won gold at his first Games in 2006.

Just days ago Bridges was named The Toronto Six accessibility coordinator for this Premier Hockey Federation season. His wife, Sami-Jo Small, who is a two-time women’s hockey Olympic champion for Canada, is the president of the team.

For Bridges and Small, this has always been about giving back and making hockey a more inclusive and accessible place for all. That’s why the two also coach their daughter’s hockey team.

“We just want every Canadian to be able to access this great sport in the great facilities that we have,” Bridges said.

Bridges is also critical of what’s transpiring with the women’s para hockey movement in the country. Currently, para hockey is considered a mixed sport at the Paralympics, and only three women have ever competed at the Games in the event.

The national women’s Para hockey team is calling for equal funding, and treatment, from Hockey Canada, saying they were given recycled jerseys that had originally been made for the national women’s stand-up team in 2018.

Now there’s a movement afoot to help grow women’s para hockey in Canada and around the world. Just last week the organization called Women’s Para Hockey of Canada, launched a campaign to raise funding from Canada’s corporate community.

The “Sticks In” campaign is hoping to raise $1 million to fully fund the national women’s program for the first time in history. The hope is that the women’s tournament is added to the Paralympic program for the 2030 Games.

Hockey Canada does not currently support the women’s para ice hockey program.

There are some similarities between when Bridges was first starting out and now the women’s program in its early days.

“I just hope that they find nothing but doors opening for them. I made the national team in 1998 and Hockey Canada took until six years later to fund us,” Bridges said. “I still see the women struggling with all of that and they really need the support of Hockey Canada.”

Bridges said he knows how difficult the financial burden can be and he hopes corporate Canada and the sport governing body in the country supports them.

“I feel like there’s nothing but opportunities for these women to be able to play at the highest level that they deserve to be playing at,” he said.

Original at https://www.cbc.ca/sports/hockey/para-hockey-olympian-calls-for-greater-accessibility-in-ontario-ice-rinks-dec-13-1.6682665

This Woman Can’t Physically Leave Her Basement. Calgary’s Rental Market Gives Her Few Options

Affordable and accessible housing in short supply in the city Karina Zapata, CBC News
Posted: Dec 12, 2022

On most days, Terry Goss is trapped inside her basement suite because she can’t make it up the stairs.

A car accident 24 years ago, paired with back surgery that went sideways, left her with limited mobility.

She has good days, when the handrail is enough to get out. But on bad days, she can’t check the mailbox, pick up medication at the pharmacy or even get food delivered to her door – all because of the stairs.

“My heart sinks every time I can’t do the stairs,” said Goss, 55, who lives alone with her cat, Charlie, in Forest Lawn. “I’m a prisoner in my own home.”

Goss has been looking for accessible housing for years. But a severe local shortage of affordable and accessible housing means she hasn’t been able to find anything in her budget.

And she knows she’s not alone. Friends who live down the street are also stuck in their basement suite because of the stairs. Another close friend rarely leaves his house for the same reason.

When Goss reached out to CBC Calgary, we discovered it’s actually a widespread problem.

In a housing feasibility study last year, local housing provider Accessible Housing found there are 46,000 people in Calgary who live with a mobility-related disability and are eligible for low-income rental assistance.

But there are only 600 to 1,180 units, across five affordable housing providers, that accommodate them.

The rest live with family and friends or search for units on the private market – often settling for places that don’t accommodate their mobility needs, or they seek a bed among the elderly residents of Alberta’s continuing care facilities.

Research needed on affordable, accessible housing

Marni Halwas, director of fund development at Accessible Housing, says they did the study because “there’s lots of information on affordable housing. The missing component is there’s not a lot of information on accessible and affordable housing.”

The results?

“There are a lot of gaps and there’s a lot of room for improvement.”

Halwas says that’s especially true because the number of Calgarians who have mobility challenges and are low income is expected to increase to 80,000 by 2041.

In Alberta, the provincial building code says that only 10 per cent of units in government-funded residential buildings are required to be accessible. But she says that’s a mistake because it costs less money to build accessible units than it does to retrofit them.

According to the office of the minister of municipal affairs, that building code accessibility rule was set in the 1970s and hasn’t been updated since.

The one dedicated building Accessible Housing was able to build – a 45-unit complex called Inclusio – is in high demand.

“We generally run at full capacity. The odd time here and there, there’s an opening, but with 45 suites in a city like Calgary, it’s definitely not enough,” Halwas said.

Living in continuing care facilities

It’s an issue that goes beyond Calgary, says Sam Mason, provincial accessibility co-ordinator with Voices of Albertans with Disabilities. Mason says Albertans who aren’t able to find affordable, accessible housing sometimes choose to live in continuing care facilities.

“They don’t have anywhere else that they can go where they can get the full-time care that they need,” said Mason.

That was almost the case for Teena Kingshott-Knight, who lives in Edmonton. She was diagnosed with neurosarcoidosis a year and a half ago, and has been using a wheelchair since.

“I need doorways that I can fit through. Right now, I’m currently sleeping in my dining room because I can’t get through either of the bedroom doors,” said Kingshott-Knight.

Her daughter and visiting health-care aides help her stay at home for now. But it was close.

“I’m 53 years old and [the hospital staff were] going to put me away in this facility. If it weren’t for my daughter, that’s where I would be.”

Waiting for a Christmas miracle

As for Goss, she has been learning more about housing options, thanks to friends who are hopeful she can find better living conditions.

She moved into the basement suite in February, after three months of searching for a new home. She used to live in an apartment she loved until her landlord raised the rent.

When CBC Calgary visited her in her home last week, Goss hadn’t left the house in three days. That morning, she says, she couldn’t shower because she couldn’t lift her leg into the tub.

Goss says if there was ever a fire in her suite on one of her bad days, “I would be cooked.”

At 55, she’s considering housing for seniors, if an organization can allocate a main-floor suite, and says she should hear back by Christmas.

“Oh, that would be the best thing ever to happen to me. No more worries about falling or getting stuck in the middle of the stairs,” said Goss.

Most importantly, she says it would give her independence.

On days when she has to leave the house but can’t get up the stairs on her own, Goss says she has great upstairs neighbours who try to give her a hand. Those same neighbours gifted her a dishwasher so she doesn’t have to stand and wash her dishes.

She spends a lot of time nestled up on her couch with her one-year-old cat, Charlie, enjoying the Christmas decorations set up by her grandkids.

And she says she’s keeping focused on the lessons that her grandma taught her – waking up every morning with a positive attitude, pushing herself just to the limits she’s learned over the years and keeping up with daily episodes of The Young and The Restless (her grandmother’s favourite).

“I’m not a quitter, so I gotta keep on trucking.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Karina Zapata
Karina is a reporter/associate producer working with CBC Calgary. She was a recipient of the 2021 Joan Donaldson Scholarship and has previously worked with CBC Toronto and CBC North. You can reach her by email at karina.zapata@cbc.ca

Original at https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/affordable-accessible-housing-calgary-need-1.6664824

2022 Hearing Aid Survey – Aging In Place.org

Originally Updated: Sep 29, 2022
Written by:
Alex Bass

Today’s hearing aids are more discreet and technologically advanced than ever, especially considering the original hearing aid was the ear trumpet, a horn held to the ear for people to speak into.

Despite these advancements in style and function, people needing hearing aids may still be reluctant to get them.

Untreated hearing loss can lead to communication problems that cause older adults to socially withdraw and be perceived as confused. Lack of social engagement is thought to increase older adults’ risk of dementia and hasten physical decline. Hearing aids not only compensate for hearing loss but also keep older adults connected to their families and communities for healthier aging.

AgingInPlace.org connects older adults and their loved ones with educational resources so older adults can independently live at home. Our team has spent more than 1,000 hours researching, testing, and reviewing popular hearing aids on behalf of our readers. We recently surveyed hearing aid users to understand their top device choices, the factors influencing their purchases, their purchasing process, and how they feel about their hearing loss and hearing aids.

Survey Insights

In-the-ear hearing aids are the most popular hearing aid style. Not as noticeable as behind-the-ear or as discreet as invisible hearing aids, middle-of-the-road in-the-ear hearing aids were the most preferred style, purchased by 32.9% of survey respondents. In-the-ear hearing aids don’t loop around the ear like behind-the-ear hearing aids. They also aren’t invisible hearing aids because they can be seen at the ear canal’s opening. The second most popular choice was the traditional behind-the-ear hearing aids that loop around the ear.

A hearing aid’s comfort and stability are the most important qualities to consumers when shopping for hearing aids. Following closely behind were a hearing aid’s volume amplification, battery life, and background noise reduction. Price and aesthetics ranked behind these other qualities.

Most people are not paying for hearing aids solely out of pocket. Many of the respondents we surveyed, 79.6%, used personal insurance, Medicare Advantage, or funds from a Health Savings or Flexible Spending Account to cover at least a portion of their hearing aid expenses. Only 20.4% reported paying for the entire purchase out of pocket.

How did you get your hearing aids

Even with direct-to-consumer hearing aids available online, most hearing aid users still purchase their hearing aids from an audiologist. Nearly half of all respondents (47.1%) went to an audiologist to get their hearing aids versus 31.8% who shopped online. Most hearing aid users (42.6%) still prefer to go to an audiologist for adjustments in person, while only 23.5% prefer getting their adjustments from an audiologist over the phone.

Hesitation about getting the hearing aid

The high cost of hearing aids is the number one reason people are hesitant to buy them. Cost was the biggest barrier to purchase reported by most respondents (52.9%), followed by lack of knowledge about hearing aids (39.7%) and concerns of stigma and aesthetics (39%).

The most to least popular hearing aid style

“Communication is the foundation of relationships. Good hearing health eliminates the frustration of missing out on conversations and being isolated from social situations and the people you love, reducing your risk of social isolation and depression,” Hillary Taylor, Au.D, Vice President of Audiology for Livingston Hearing Aid Center, told us. “The earlier a person can treat their hearing loss with hearing aids the better because untreated hearing loss over time can increase the risk for cognitive decline and decrease the amount of benefit received from hearing aids.”

87.4% of hearing aid users consider their hearing aids a worthwhile purchase

The most to least popular hearing aid styles are: In the ear (32.9%), Behind the ear (25.9%), Invisible (17.8%), In the canal (12.3%), and Receiver in canal (7.8%)

52.9% of people say the high cost of hearing aids is the biggest reason they’re hesitant to buy them

Only 20.4% of people pay for their hearing aid purchase completely out of pocket

43.5% of hearing aid users’ biggest regret about their hearing loss is that they didn’t avoid activities that damaged their ears

42.5% of people wish they had more consistently checked their hearing when they were younger

AgingInPlace.org surveyed 1,000 hearing aid users. We referenced feedback from a medical reviewer to help determine our survey questions. Survey participants ranged from age 25 and older, with the highest percentage of individuals falling between 35-44 years old. Our respondents were located in almost all 50 states and represented gender and racial diversity.

ALEX BASS

Writer & Contributor

Alex is a writer and speech-language pathologist, specialized in caring for older adults with communication disorders. She writes health and medicine content, with a focus on hearing aids and medical alert systems for AgingInPlace.org.

Original at https://aginginplace.org/2022-hearing-aids-survey/

Mom Faces Felony For Recording Daughter’s Self-Contained Classroom

by Jacqueline Derobertis, The Advocate/TNS | December 12, 2022

BATON ROUGE, La. – Before she was arrested for sending a secret recording device into a Livingston Parish high school in an attempt to protect her daughter with special needs, Amanda Carter’s family tried to get cameras installed in their child’s classroom, her husband said.

It’s part of a larger conversation in Louisiana about how to use classroom cameras to help parents safeguard children who can’t speak for themselves, while still respecting the privacy rights of teachers and other students.

A new law, which became effective June 17, requires school districts to develop policies and procedures for placing cameras in special education classrooms upon request – and to install those cameras if the money is available to do so. Other legislation last session provided state funding for such an initiative.

“There really is no reason why any school system in the state should not have this policy in place and provide the cameras if requested,” said state Sen. Franklin Foil, who sponsored the legislation.

The idea behind the law is that children with special needs who have difficulty communicating can be monitored while in their self-contained classrooms so that parents and guardians are sure their children are safe. That includes students like Amanda Carter’s 17-year-old daughter, who was paralyzed on the left side of her body after suffering a stroke as a baby – she cannot speak and can only move short distances without a wheelchair.

Carter, 39, is accused of secretly recording conversations on a high school campus, then posting some of the recordings on social media. She was booked into the Livingston Parish Detention Center in late November on 20 counts of interception and disclosure of wire, electronic or oral communication – a felony.

Carter’s husband, Jesse, says his wife was trying to protect their child by affixing recording devices to their daughter’s wheelchair. They were concerned their child could be facing mistreatment after she came home with unexplained bruising. The school offered no answers, he said.

Jesse Carter said the family has attempted twice now to get a camera installed in their daughter’s classroom – first in February of this year, and then just last month, he said. He provided emails in which a central office employee with Livingston Parish schools denied their first request on the grounds they lacked funding.

After the new funding sources were allocated to school districts by the legislature, an education liaison on behalf of the Carters tried again to contact Livingston Parish administration in November, the emails showed – and they have received no response, he said.

“She never would have had to do it,” Jesse Carter said, in reference to his wife attaching the recording device to their child’s wheelchair. “If she felt there was a concern she (could have viewed the camera footage).”

Delia Taylor, spokesperson for Livingston Parish Public Schools declined to respond to questions about the camera requests, saying the school district cannot provide comment about specific students. The district recently implemented policies and procedures for the cameras – though Taylor said such devices have yet to be installed in any of their schools.

Families and disability rights advocates say students in special education classrooms face a range of challenges, from unenforced education plans to potential abuse. Representatives for teachers say they want to keep kids safe, and at the same time that there are privacy concerns to consider.

“We want to keep our kids safe,” said Cynthia Posey, legislative and political director for the Louisiana Federation of Teachers. “We want to keep our schools safe, but I think we need to be careful and understand when we open this Pandora’s box – what are we really going to get?”

‘We need something to protect our kids’

Foil, a Baton Rouge Republican, said he first sponsored the initial version of the camera legislation several years ago when he was approached by parents with concerns about their children being abused in the special education self-contained classrooms. They were frustrated, he said, because when they tried to go to school personnel they said they weren’t getting help.

Parents told Foil, ‘We need something to protect our kids,'” he recalled. So if something happens to our child, we’ll have a way to follow up

“Our hope was this would give parents some comfort and security, and it would also protect teachers as well, if there was another student abusing the child,” he added.

Foil said when the bill was initially passed, it lacked specific funding for the cameras. That legislation did not make the cameras mandatory until the school system was able to get dollars to put the policy in place.

“I found that some school districts, not only did they not have funding, but they were not putting together a plan,” he said. “That was not my intention.”

This summer’s bill addressed that problem, requiring a deadline for policies and procedures, with separate legislation that provided funding to the districts. If a school system fails to follow the new law, Foil said a parent whose request is denied could file a lawsuit to require the district to comply.

“We actually heard from a few parents who are pleased because it is working for them. Some have asked for guidance and what their rights are,” Foil said. “For the most part we have heard parents are getting what they need from the school system.”

A complex issue

For years parents with concerns about the treatment of their children with disabilities have advocated to have cameras placed in special education classrooms, according to Tory Rocca, director of public policy and community engagement with Disability Rights Louisiana.

He says their issue has been school systems haven’t implemented the plans quickly enough.

“They haven’t been satisfied with schools following through,” Rocca said. “They’ve been advocating for an update to the law for schools to implement the law.”

Rocca said there are sometimes problems with schools failing to implement specific individualized education plans for students with disabilities, and they have concerns about school personnel improperly restraining students or excluding them – even locking them in a room alone.

“We always need more resources for students with disabilities. It’s challenging,” he said. “Often, people don’t prioritize them.”

Posey, who spoke on behalf of Louisiana teachers, said any concerns they had with the legislation early on were addressed.

“I think any teacher would agree to protect students is first and foremost,” she said. “If there is indeed abuse happening in the classroom, that should not be happening. It’s kind of a double-edged sword as far as making sure we have the proper protective standards of privacy for students, and teachers and employees.”

She said there are important questions to consider in what leaders hope will be accomplished by adding cameras to classrooms – and if placing them there will meet that goal.

Foil said his hope is that by Jan. 1, 2023 the program will be “permanently in place moving forward,” ideally helping parents “to get some peace of mind that these cameras are in place.”

Original at https://www.disabilityscoop.com/2022/12/12/mom-faces-felony-for-recording-daughters-self-contained-classroom/30173/