Friday, August 19, 2016

HANDY PUBLIC REST ROOM KIT

RESTROOM KIT FOR THE DISABLED 
IN A CHEAPIE DOLLAR STORE LUNCH PACK, OR A FANNY PACK, LOAD:
Carabiner clip. Have it handy on the strap of the kit.  Use it to hang the pack (or your purse) over the grab rail and have access to your stuff while sitting on the toilet.
Hand sanitizer.  In addition to sanitizing your hands, you can squirt it on the toilet seat and clean it up some.  Not perfect, of course, but better than nothing.  Also, for added protection, I squirt some on a wipe and cleanse areas of my skin that touched the toilet seat.  That may sound a bit extreme, but with flesh eating bacteria around today, extra precaution is a must. 
Extra toilet paper. Lengths torn from a roll, folded in a sandwich size Ziploc in case your stall is lacking. 
Wet wipes. I make my own travel pack by folding them and placing them in a sandwich size Ziploc bag. If you squirt hand sanitizer on a wipe, you can wipe toilet seats, faucet handles, and changing tables. 
Extra set of underpants. I usually reserve ready-to-toss undies for this purpose. Place the extra set in a Ziploc, in case you need a way to transport soiled ones back home.   
Plastic bags.  I keep them for a myriad of uses, soiled clothing, trash (in case there's not a waste receptacle in the stall, to seal hand sanitizer to prevent leakage into the rest of the pack, etc.).  I usually use empty bread or produce bags for this so that I'm green - any bags that are not perforated in any way. 

FOR A MORE EXTENSIVE CAR / TRAVEL KIT
INTO A MEDIUM DUFFLE BAG, OR OPAQUE STORAGE BIN WITH LID, LOAD:
Duplicates of the fanny pack supplies.  Be careful to rotate the moist wipes, though in a pinch if they are dried out you can drizzle a little water into the Ziploc to remoisten them. 
A couple of disposable adult diapers.  If you're out in the middle of nowhere, they are better than soiling your car seats. 
A bedpan.  Keep it in plastic bags (several layered) within the kit.  Okay, this may sound icky, but again, if you are out in the middle of nowhere, and that taco you ate in the last town you visited it becoming volatile, you can use a bedpan in the back seat of your vehicle (since most disabled people are unable to go squat behind a bush).  They sell bedpan liners these days, but you can also take an adult diaper with the leg elastic snipped so you can spread it flat.  Line the bedpan with it, to absorb the liquid waste and keep it contained to reduce instances of spillage. Place a waterproof pad or towel on the seat beneath the bedpan just in case.  Use the bedpan, and fold the waste and used toilet tissue, wipes, etc. up in the diaper lining the pan.  Place the diaper in a plastic bag (I would triple or even quadruple bags for this use) and dispose of it in a restroom trash receptacle as soon as possible.  I repeat, icky, but not as icky as projectile diarrhea on your car seat. 
When you're finished, use hand sanitizer on a moist wipe to thoroughly clean the bedpan and yourself.  Place the bedpan in doubled plastic bag and clean it more thoroughly when soap, water, and straight alcohol are available. 
In the car kit, you can keep a full container of moist wipes, a spray bottle with alcohol (for accident clean up) a change of underwear (and shorts/slacks) in case of leakage, several adult diapers, protective waterproof pads, plastic bags of assorted sizes, and some old pillowcases or towels to cover the cars windows if they are not tinted.  (Drop the window half an inch, place the towel/pillowcase end across the top of the window, raise the window enough to hold the towel/pillowcase in place like a curtain.) These can also be used as seat protectors when using the bedpan, though waterproof pads would be more effective.  Latex gloves are handy when cleaning up the bedpan and it's lining. 
If you're using public restrooms and need arms on the toilet to push yourself up, a walker, aimed toward the toilet tank works, especially if the toilet is not handicapped height.  I have a whole separate article about using a walker in this way.  Meeting the Public Restroom Challenge. While most public restrooms are equipped with grab rails, most private homes are not. 
That about does it for my potty-away-from-home ideas.  Feel free to comment with hacks of your own!  I love creativity concerning disability challenges!

Friday, March 18, 2016

CLOSED CAPTIONING SHOULD BE REQUIRED



Closed captioning is not just for people who don't speak the primary language of a particular movie.  It is for movie-goers who are hearing impaired as well. 

My mother and my husband are both hearing impaired, as well as other members of my family and friends.  Several of them have problems that hearing aids will not solve, ranging from nerve damage from ear cancer, to effects of Meniere's disease, to inner ear ringing. 

It's frustrating enough not to be able to hear many conversations and simple sounds of the world around them, but not to be able to enjoy a good film, when there is a simple solution, is inexcusable, rude, and frankly, I believe discriminatory.  Production companies make millions of dollars on their movies, but when it comes time to produce them on disk they have the audacity to skimp. The reason eludes me. 

Why on earth would a production company produce a disk without closed captioning, and limit their audience in such a way?  Approximately 28 million people in the United States are deaf or hearing impaired.  That's quite a chunk of the movie audience.  Why wouldn't a production company, either in the film or television industry take measures to include all of these people when hawking their wares?  Appealing to the broadest audience possible is just basic good business sense. 

My husband and I are horror writers.  We like horror movies.  I was very surprised when John Carpenter's "Halloween" was not captioned.  On the other hand, "Psycho," made years prior to Halloween, was.  And so are some movies I would not have suspected like "Bug," which is a lesser known horror movie. 

I don't understand why any production company would say, "Yes, go ahead and release this movie on DVD/Blu-Ray, but don't bother captioning it.  We don't give a damn about the deaf people, only those who are in perfect health." If the technology is there, it should be used, and used consistently. 

On the personal disappointment level, I wanted to share my favorite TV show with my husband: "Criminal Minds."  It's such an excellent show – good, meaty episodes, and a fantastic cast that produces consistently excellent performances.  I'm buying the DVDs a season at a time, and was horrified to find that they are not closed captioned.  I will probably buy them anyway, because I truly love the show, but I am tempted to boycott them because they are shows that my husband will never hear.  Hang your heads in shame, CBS/Paramount.  You've lost profit and respect from this household, as well as a potential fan of your show. 

To those production companies who do closed captioning, kudos to you, it is well-appreciated.  I hope those who do not will eventually follow your lead. 

Closed-captioning for the hearing impaired should be a standard in the entertainment industry if not a requirement.



TD – 3/18/2016 


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

CLOSE-CAPTIONING YOURSELF


CLOSE-CAPTIONING YOURSELF

By Terri DelCampo



Simple conversation is a pleasure for me.  I not only get closer to my loved ones, as well as people I run into at the grocery store or strolling around downtown Alpharetta, but as a writer, seemingly unimportant comments or tidbits will often embed themselves into my mind and become an article or story later. 

But when someone you love becomes deaf, it can turn that pleasurable conversation into a torturous, grueling marathon of failure to be understood. 

It started with my mom, who I call on the phone (she lives 800 miles away from me in Delaware) every Sunday.  We chat for hours (no exaggeration, she kills my phone every week and I have to put it on the charger for the last third of the call) and I would say about a third of that time is me repeating myself so she can understand me.  I would switch to writing her letters, but that's just not the same.  She's eighty-seven and lives alone.  She's active and sees friends weekly, but she looks forward to my call each week.  She has Meniere's Disease that causes her to have a constant whooshing sound (her description) in her ears – not something a hearing aid will help. 

Our frustrating conversations have been going on for the past fifteen years, possibly a little longer.  I love hearing my mom's voice, I just wish she could hear mine. 

Recently I fell in love and married Mr. Write – not just a cute play on words: I am a horror writer and my husband is Blaze McRob, also a horror writer and publisher.  We met on Facebook when he posted a review of my dark fiction magazine.  We began messaging on Facebook, and became immediate friends.  I began doing some editing work for his small press, and our friendship grew, finally turning into a romance.  Fourteen months after the review, we were married.  And I adore him. 

Bless his heart, he's had bouts with ear cancer, that while currently in remission have that left him almost completely deaf.   When he came to Georgia, and we met and spoke for the first time, we were hugging at the bus station and he heard "I love you, let's go home," because I said it right into his sweet damaged ear. 

But verbal conversations are not our forte, by a long shot. 

Sometimes I get so frustrated, I just stop and say "never mind," and I can't be doing that, because I know it hurts his feelings, which in turn hurts mine.  And almost as important, I simply refuse to let a disability mangle our otherwise wonderful communication. 

When my mother was visiting one time, I didn't want to keep shouting my end of the conversation, so I fired up my computer and created an MS Word doc with HUGE font.  I typed my side of the conversation thinking, Wow!  I'm close-captioning myself!  Mom answered verbally as usual.  It worked well for us.  It takes a little longer to type out my 'lines,' but actually not much longer than if I repeat myself multiple times, stopping in frustration to count to ten when I cannot make myself understood. 

So that's my little trick.  Close caption conversations for my deaf loved ones.  And there's always the low tech trick:  keep a scratch pad handy to write out a word or two that the deaf person may be getting hung up on. 

If there is anyone reading this who has any other suggestions, I'm wide open, feel free to comment away.  I'm a writer – communication is my thing and I will find a way. 



TD – 1/12/2016

Friday, January 8, 2016

ARE THERE REALLY REASONS FOR THE BAD STUFF?


ARE THERE REALLY REASONS FOR THE BAD STUFF?



Terri DelCampo



Everything happens for a reason. After a car accident left me with disabilities in 2009, I contemplated this age-old adage, and made the following observations:



I was humbled:

I was incredibly vulnerable and depended on strangers (400 miles away from home) for absolutely everything (including personal hygiene, helping to cut food, emotional swings, everything) for four months.  I developed friendships that are going strong today but moreover, I discovered a whole new meaning for the word trust.    



I evaluated relationships:

It doesn't take grand gestures to be a good friend.  Sometimes the smallest things matter most.  I discovered just how much my loved ones cared during the worst time of my life.  And I was surprised on a couple of occasions, by who really did, and who really didn't.  Illumination is a liberating thing. 



I found myself using my imagination in new ways:

I had to figure all the practical stuff out – I called it my obstacle course.  And gradually I reinvented my habitat to accommodate my needs.  (I discuss all that in other blogs – check them out.) I found that some of the things I figured out for myself helped others, when I submitted my stories for publication.  That built my confidence both in my ability to overcome adversity and in my ability to write non-fiction. 



I had time on my hands to realize my dreams:

Though I had not one single nibble on any of the resumes I put out on every job search engine in existence, I, for the first time in my life had time to pursue my writing career, full time.  I founded Owl's Eye View Magazine and published all my novels and short stories there, and continue publishing it every month to this day. 



I expanded my writing career by incorporating non-fiction articles into my portfolio, and freelanced for Yahoo Contributors' Network for several months before it folded.  I found that my disability articles and writing articles had a following, so I began writing blogs when YCN went kaput. 



When my website crashed (another disaster that I turned around) I decided it was time to self-publish my novels as Kindle books and learned how.  I have 38 Kindle books published, to date, plus I publish Owl's Eye View Magazine issues as Kindle books each month. 



I learned to barter:

During the two-year gap in my insurance coverage, I moved from Georgia to Pennsylvania, into my son's house and helped take care of my grandchildren (saving he and his wife thousands of dollars in childcare), did light housework and laundry, everything I could possibly handle to take pressure off of my daughter-in-law who has Cystic Fibrosis.  In trying to help my son and his family, I overcame some of my own difficulties and built strength I didn't know I had.  And realized I can still be productive on some levels.



I fell in love:

In 2014, horror writer and publisher Blaze McRob posted a very positive review of Owl's Eye View and we developed a friendship via Facebook messaging.  He offered me a job as an editor for the collaborative press where he was a partner.  I accepted. 



The friendship progressed and gradually turned romantic.  Blaze and I were married in September of 2015.  During that time we also founded Blazing Owl Press where we will be publishing our individual and co-authored writing projects. 



I learned to seize the day:

I've never been one to waste a lot of time.  I've always multi-tasked and squeezed projects and chores into every minute of each day, but now I prioritize even better, strive to keep things simpler, both due to necessity and choice. 



I learned that attitude is everything:

You can back down or step up.  It's as simple as that.  I appreciate the fact that there are those whose pain and limitations are far worse than mine, and I count my blessings, that's a certainty.  And among those blessings I count all the things that having limitations has taught me, especially the creativity and resourcefulness. 



My conclusion:

Yes, bad stuff might just happen for a reason: to test your mettle, to learn about yourself and the people closest to you, to make a difference in the world around you.