Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Advice - Dealing with the Progression of a Disability & Upgrading to a vehicle that suits your needs

Over the last few years I have often referred to Becker's Muscular Dystrophy as a hidden disability. While that is true to a certain extent as we age the affects of Muscular Dystrophy on our muscles becomes more than a little difficult to hide. As our muscles gradually weaken falls start happened more frequently and the use of a cane when walking becomes a necessity. This eventually leads to issue's with getting up from a seated position which around the home may lead to the use of a lifter chair - a very useful mobility aid for many people living with disabilities. Other issues related to the difficulty of getting up from a seated position results in many of us needing to upgrade our vehicles, as they become increasingly hard for us to get in and out of. As we get older many of us need to switch from cars to mini-vans and even small sized SUV's. 

You see as we start finding it increasingly difficult to walk or get up from a low seated position mini-vans and some smaller sized SUV's are more capable of handling our specific needs. Some vehicles might even be used to transport a wheelchair if we are at that point in our progression that we require one. Currently I am at the point in my progression where upgrading to an SUV or even a mini-van would help to make my life so much easier. At this point in time I am finding it increasingly difficult to get in and out of my current little car. But due to budget limitations it will be closer to 4 or 5 years before I can afford to upgrade. As a car enthusiast this hasn't kept me from looking at a few vehicles that I know would suit my needs perfectly. Thankfully over the last few years small sized crossover SUV's have been gaining in popularity. So much so that two manufactures have recently entered the market. Now while SUV's are great I also find myself looking to the future and the possibility of my need for mini-van. If the day comes and I need to use a wheelchair full-time a van would definitely suit my needs better than any SUV. So today I would like to share with you my list of vehicles that I believe would suit mine and maybe your future needs.
2016 Honda HR-V
The 2016 Honda HR-V is a great option as it offers a low step in height making it easy to get in and out of. The HR-V also offers Honda quality and reliability. The HR-V also offers the same versatility as the Honda Fit. It would easily transport a small sized collapsible wheelchair.
2015 Kia Soul
 Since it's introduction the Kia Soul has been a huge success. The Kia Soul offers the perfect step in height, especially for those still walking who aim to drive a vehicle that is easier to get in and out. With the back seats folded flat it can easily transport a small collapsible wheelchair.
2015 Hyundai Tucson
The Hyundai Tucson is a great choice. Compared to other vehicles it offers plenty of cargo room. It is more than capable of handling the unique needs many of us face. This is a great vehicle for those who are still walking as it offers a step in height that many will find works perfectly.
2015 Honda Odyssey
This list wouldn't be complete without at least one mini-van. The 2015 Honda Odyssey is the perfect van for those living with disabilities. Whether still walking or using a wheelchair full time the Odyssey offers the perfect step in height. Many will find that they are able to get in and out of the Odyssey with little to no effort. It is more than capable of transporting a wheelchair. Best of all it can also be converted into a wheelchair accessible van.  
MV-1 Accessible Vehicle
The MV-1 is a first of it's kind factory built fully accessible vehicle manufactured in the USA. The MV-1 is the perfect vehicle for anyone who uses a wheelchair full-time. Plus it offers much more cargo space than your typical conversion van. It also comes standard with a side entry ramp which helps to ensure safety of occupants using a wheelchair. It certainly is a great option for those who use wheelchairs.  

My only hope now is that I win the lottery so I can afford to upgrade my vehicle right away!

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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Welcome to the My Becker's Story blog!

Welcome to the My Becker's Story blog!

Join me as I share my Becker Muscular Dystrophy Story.

My name is Brad Miller I am a freelance journalist living with Becker Muscular Dystrophy, a condition which limits my ability to walk and gets progressively worse over time. I created the My Becker's Story blog in 2010 to share my story and to help raise awareness about Muscular Dystrophy. Along with sharing my story I also raise awareness about accessibility and the issues people with disabilities face. When it comes to the My Becker's Story blog even though the focus is on Becker's Muscular Dystrophy I also want to encourage those affected by other conditions even other forms of Muscular Dystrophy to join in as well. I truly believe when we join "Together" we can make a difference in our communities and raise even more awareness about Muscular Dystrophy and the issues people with disabilities face. The main focus behind the My Becker’s Story blog is to tell my story in hopes that it will somehow help those living with Becker’s Muscular Dystrophy, as well as their families and friends.

What people are saying about the My Becker's Story blog:

"Hi there, I also suffer from BMD. Just read the blog and the first half is like reading my personal history!!"

"I ran across your spot today, you sure have a lot on here I will have to check in a lot. I also have BMD and everything you say resonates deeply."

"I am also in my mid-30's with Becker's from the UK so thought i'd join and say hello! Struggling with all the same things as mentioned in the blog!"

"I am new to this group. Just want to say it is nice to meet people who understand."

 "I love your blog and it is nice to know there are others out there facing the same challenges as I do each and every day."

If you would like to read my personal story about growing up with Becker Muscular Dystrophy please click on the image below.

When it comes to living with Becker's Muscular Dystrophy I intend to take what I have been through in my life and some how use it to help those going through a similar situation. When it comes down to it the main idea behind My Becker’s Story is to help those like me who are living with Becker’s Muscular Dystrophy, by creating a place for us to connect. I truly believe that we are in this "Together". And I believe that with every one’s help that together we can help raise awareness about Muscular Dystrophy around the world.

The Walk for Muscular Dystrophy

Team Brad at the 2013 Durham Region Walk for Muscular Dystrophy

 Along with sharing my story I also aim to make a difference in my community. Since 2010 my friends and family have joined "Team Brad" in support of my efforts to raise funds that benefit people like me who are living with Muscular Dystrophy. The Durham Region Walk supports Muscular Dystrophy Canada’s mission to enhance the lives of those affected by neuromuscular disorders. To learn more please (Click Here)

Thank you for visiting the My Becker's Story blog!

Join the My Becker's Story blog on social media

Monday, February 2, 2015

Reasons why I have no choice but to use accessible parking

Over the last few years I have expressed my frustration with some people's ignorance when it comes to the use of accessible parking. Still to this day I really don't understand why there is so much confusion around there use. Now I am pretty sure that most people are not surprised when they see someone in need of a wheelchair, walker or even a cane parking in these spaces. But the second they see a much younger person who might still have the ability to walk parking there they feel the need to stop and stare, they may even send and insult or two your way. Simply because they are ignorant to the fact that disabilities affect those young and old even someone like me who still has the ability to walk. Over the last few years I have become all too familiar with this type of ignorance. So here a list to help educate the public on why someone like me has every right to park my vehicle in accessible parking spaces.  

Reasons why I have every right to use accessible parking:

- Every time I park in regular old fashioned parking spaces, I always come back to find another vehicle in the space next to me parked so close that it becomes nearly impossible for me to get back into my car. You see I need the extra space accessible parking provides as it allows me to open my car door all the way. Allowing me to get in and out of my car with minimal physical effort. Something that is important for someone who is still walking and especially for those of us living with Becker's Muscular Dystrophy. When people park in this way it helps to create challenges that I just shouldn't have to face. This is why I no longer park in regular old parking spaces. Thankfully having an accessible parking permit allows me to avoid these types of situations.

 - When it comes to living with what some people might call a hidden disability reality for me is I never know when one of my legs is going to give out. So the shorter the distance I have to walk the better as it lowers the risk of me falling. I am sure that no driver wants me falling behind there vehicle risking the possibility of being run over. Really if that happened how would it make you feel? This is why you shouldn't have a problem with me using accessible parking as it helps to make both our lives much easier. So you have to think the next time you see someone like me using accessible parking. Ask yourself first might this person have a hidden disability? Would it really benefit either of us if you first resort to giving me dirty looks and calling me names just because you see me walking? You have to remember that there is a huge possibility that I have every right to park there. Because when you stare or choose to call me names it only helps to show how truly ignorant you are.

Why you really have no right to judge us

-You have to realize that you really have no right to judge someone who you probably have never met and know nothing about. So how are you supposed to know if they have the right to park there or not.

-It is always best to think before you react as you don't really know that persons story or struggle. Some of us have been through a lot and your stares and rude comments only help to upset us and on many occasions even has the possibly of ruining our entire days.

-Think about it this way do you have a copy of our medical records? No, so please just leave us alone as we don't want to be reminded of some peoples ignorance on a daily basis. Many of us use these spaces several times throughout the day. Do you think we want to have to deal with this kind of stupidly every single time we park our cars?

-It must be known that it is not your job to instantly become an accessible parking space superhero every time you see some who doesn't fit your stereotypical view of someone with a disability. As you can see in the end the problem isn't with them its with you.

 The point I am trying to make with this posting is that when the next time comes and you are tempted to stare or make rude remarks it might be a better idea to just mind your business. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Smoke-Free Ontario Act putting people who live in Apartment Buildings at Risk

When it comes to breathing in second hand smoke many of us already know the dangers that come along with inhaling the many toxins found in cigarettes. So in an effort to help protect it's citizens many years ago the Province of Ontario introduced the Smoke-Free Ontario Act. Which was created to help restrict the areas in which people are allowed to smoke. This is in place to help and protect people including children and youth from the harmful affects associated with second hand smoke. Currently the Smoke-Free Ontario Act restricts people from smoking in many public areas covering bar and restaurant outdoor patios, child care facilities, hospitals, schools, vehicles with children inside, common areas of hotels, motels and inn, around children’s playgrounds and multi-unit residences. 

The main reason why the Smoke-Free Ontario Act was put in place is to protect works and the public from exposure to second-hand smoke. Many place have also been required to remove all ash trays as well. Like many people I fully support the Smoke-Free Ontario Act. As someone living with Muscular Dystrophy breathing in second hand smoke can put me at risk. The last thing I ever want to have is issues with my lungs thanks to inconsiderate smokers. Now the Smoke-Free Ontario Act does go a long way in protect a small group of people from second-hand smoke. I do have to be completely honest that with all the good this act does it is still failing a major part of Ontario's population. That would be those of us who live in multi-unit residences mainly those living in apartment buildings. Currently multi-unit residences are included in the Act but the rules that apply simply don't go far enough. Currently the law states that you must not smoke in any common areas of condos, apartment buildings or college residences. This includes elevators, stairwells, hallways, parking garages, laundry facilities, lobbies, exercise areas and party or entertainment rooms. What it doesn't cover is apartment building entrances and exits. 

So after getting in touch with my local bylaw enforcement officers I learned that apartment building entrances are not covered in Ontario's Smoke-Free Act. They explained to me that multi-unit residences are treated the same way as people homes. Going on to further explain that the law prohibits them from telling people that they can't smoke at the entrances to there homes. They actually told me that apartment building entrances are not considered to be public spaces. Though the bylaw prohibit smoking in the common areas of multi-unit residences. Are they kidding me? I also brought up the issue of there being an ashtray at my building entrance. They told me that Ontario's Smoke-Free Act does not prohibit ashtrays outside the entrance of multi-unit residences. So I am sure you can guess where everyone who smokes in my building goes when they want to light up a cigarette. To make matters worse our apartment is on the ground floor with our windows next to where the entrance is - so when people smoke there and if the wind is blowing right way that toxic mix blows right into our apartment. To me it is very odd that who ever designed the Ontario's Smoke-Free Act decided to exempt apartment building entrances from the list of common areas. After all a common area is defined as an area which is available for use by more than one person. A common area should also include apartment building entrances since tenants and visitors share that area. So at this point in time Ontario's Smoke-Free Act is putting it citizens who live in Apartment Buildings at Risk. This means that the Smoke-Free Ontario Strategy to greatly reduced tobacco use and lowered health risks to non-smokers in Ontario is failing over a million people who live in apartment buildings across this Province. 

Ontario Health Minister - Dr. Eric Hoskins
 So the time has come to bring this to the attention of Ontario's Health Minister Dr. Eric Hoskins. We need to let him know that it is his responsibility to take the health of those who live in apartment buildings more seriously. So at this time I would like to encourage Dr. Eric Hoskins to introduce new Smoke-Free legislation that adds condo and apartment building entrances to Ontario's Smoke-Free Act. And to require the removal off all ashtrays found at the entrances of every apartment building across the Province on Ontario.

This is why we have created a petition to help bring more attention to this issues. So I would like to ask that you sign this petition to show Dr. Eric Hoskins that this is an important issue that needs to be addressed.

Please sign this petition by visiting:

  https://www.change.org/p/ontario-government-include-condo-apartment-building-entrances-in-smoke-free-ontario-act today! 

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Did Target miss the Bulls-Eye in not hiring people with disabilities?

Since the news was released that Target was leaving Canada there have been many stories on how this will impact their employees. After all 17,600 people who currently work for Target Canada are losing their jobs. More recently there is a story being shared through social media on the impact there leaving will have on those they hired who had disabilities. This story claims that Target did a great job of hiring people with disabilities in Newfoundland which is great. Like most people I feel really bad that they are now losing their jobs. One part of the story that is being left out is the poor job Target did in hiring people with disabilities in other provinces. You see from my perspective they actually did a very poor job. As an individual living with a physical disability I was one of the many people across the province of Ontario who applied for a position. Many months before Target opened their very first store. Like many people I applied online and was lucky enough to secure an interview. My interview was set up and would take place at a local convention centre located about 30 minutes away. I am sure you can understand I was excited to have been chosen for an interview. After all like many people I was excited about Target coming to Canada.

Target Interview: Part One

So after a few months of waiting the day of my interview arrived. On that day I was so excited that I forgot my wallet at home. I was almost half way to my interview when I realized this and then had to race back home to get it. You see it was very important for me to have it with me as having some form of I.D. was required to be provided during my interview. Thankfully I made it just in time and when I arrived I was greeted by a few Target employees who welcomed me with a smile. It was actually a very friendly environment which helped to set my mind at ease. After all who isn't a little nervous before and interview. Eventually I was called in for what I could only guess was a pre-interview to make sure I was a good candidate for the position. This part of the interview went very well, I even explained to the two the ladies who were interviewing me that I had a disability and that didn't seem to be an issue. I let them know that I believed that the position I was applying for in there clothing department would suit me perfectly. They were very friendly and from what I could tell the interview was going very well. Eventually this part of the interview came to an end and then they asked me to take a seat back in the waiting area. At this point I was very confident that things were going very well. 

Target Interview: Part Two

After a few minutes of waiting I was called back in for the second part of my interview. It was a huge relief to know that I had made it. At this point I was greeted by two male employees, one who I believe was the manager of the store I was being interviewed for. Yet again the interview was going very well the other interviewer even said to me that my call centre experience would really help with answering the phones in that department. I felt like everything was going very well until the man I believed to be the store manager opened his mouth after I mentioned I had an disability. He started saying to me that I would have to help out in other departments with carrying out furniture and TV's. I was open and honest with him that due to my disability that simply wouldn't be possible. To be honest at this point I felt as if he had already made up his mind to not hire me. Next thing he tells me is that I would have to start a 4 am if I was hired and he asked if I could handle that and I said it wouldn't be a problem. I felt as if he wasn't open to hiring me simple because I had a disability. Maybe it was my fault for being so open with them after all I have heard from others with disabilities who suggest if we can - hiding the fact that we have a disability. Anyways this part of my interview came to an end and I was asked to have a seat back in the waiting area. 

Target Interview: Opportunity Missed

Well after a few minutes another Target employee came out and thanked my for my time and told me that they would call me once a final decision was made. I left the interview with a feeling that if they were going to hire me that they would have called me in for the third part of the interview - instead of sending me home. The reason I believed that there was a third an final part of the interview process was due to the fact that while I was waiting that some people didn't even make it past the first part of the interview. See I was there long enough to see someone called in for the third part of the interview. This is where new hires sat at a table where they provided the interviewers their I.D.'s and fill out what ever forms they were required to fill out as a new hire. It was obvious to me that the last interviewer had and issue with me having a disability. To this day I wonder if those who worked in the clothing department ever had to do carry outs of large heavy TV's or furniture. I also have to wonder did anyone who worked in the clothing department at Target ever actually start a 4am? Was the interviewer lying to me? To this day I truly believe that I was discriminated against simply because I chose to be open and honest about having a disability. So when I hear that some people claim that Target was good at hiring people with disabilities in my experience I know first hand that this isn't true!

Even though I feel that I was discriminated against I also wanted to see Target succeed in Canada even if they didn't want me. The people I do feel bad for is the 17,600 Canadian employees losing there jobs.

Good-bye Target Canada!

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