This Halloween, look for this bulldozer and high-five her

Elena in bulldozer costume in wheelchairHalloween is a holiday that was never on my excitement radar as a child, nor my wife’s. Perhaps it was the cold finally arriving in the Midwest, the grim notion of existing in darkness for the next six months, having more of a salt tooth than a sweet tooth, or my hatred wearing masks that forced me to breathe my own humid expelled breath. Whatever the reason was, I never enjoyed it.

Until kids.

I work in a high school and have had the opportunity to chaperone the Halloween Dance year after year. Students walk in dressed as Mario and Luigi, Where’s Waldo, or Thomas the Train. One student actually dressed as Holden Caulfield toting a suitcase, a duck, and a red hunting cap. Teenagers demonstrate an infectious zeal and excitement at dances — especially when donning their zany costumes.

One year I was so inspired by the enthusiasm of these teenagers that I ran over to the neighboring drug store at the last minute, bought some dried chili peppers, pinned them to the chemistry teacher’s lab coat and voila! I was instantly Dr. Pepper for the evening.

Elena Money BagThe creativity and enthusiasm demonstrated by my high school students inspired me to put my own creativity and ingenuity into my daughter’s Halloween costumes over the years. Early on Elena wasn’t able to sit independently, so many of her first costumes were designed knowing we’d be carrying her.

Her first costume was a lobster inauspiciously placed in a pot destined to be a tasty meal. You can imagine our delight (and Elena’s disdain!) when a parent showed up at our house dressed as a chef. Elena was not happy with my suggestion of running in the house to procure some lemon and butter.

Elena in lobster costume in a potThe fun we had with Elena’s lobster costume inspired us to come up with creative costumes ever since. Elena was so small that we could carry her door to door with ease.

When Elena was two years old, we decided she’d go as a bag of money: Rosa’s visiting aunt sewed pieces of green felt rectangles together to transform Elena into a bag of freshly pilfered cash. Rosa and I both dressed like cat burglars, and I was as giddy and excited as a student at the Halloween dance as the three of us trick-or-treated around our neighborhood that year.

Last year we signed up Elena for the annual September fashion show at Easter Seals DuPage and the Fox Valley Region. The theme was “Rock Around the Clock,” and Elena’s aunt quickly and enthusiastically volunteered to sew a poodle skirt. She even made a matching scarf so Elena didn’t have to wear her ever-present bib. She was such a hit at the fashion show that we reprised this costume for Halloween last year — She wore it to school and paraded her 50s costume around the hallways.

Between Elena’s weekly routine of PT, OT, Speech Therapy, adaptive equipment, and mind-numbingly long meals, there are few things that are normal in our daughter’s life. Even other holidays can be difficult for her: she can’t tear open Christmas presents and perhaps Thanksgiving will present eating challenges. Halloween allows her and us parents to enjoy a holiday with the same childish excitement and silliness that our goofy and warm teenagers demonstrate.

Elena will be 5 on Monday and her elongated and lean body doesn’t necessarily lend itself to being carried around the neighborhood with ease anymore. She was in the DuPage and the Fox Valley Region Easter Seals fashion show again this year, and this year’s theme was “Come Build With Us.” We used a collection of cardboard, wood, duct tape, zippy ties, and obnoxious yellow construction paint to convert Elena’s wheelchair to a bulldozer. After a few nights painting, sawing, cursing, and imbibing a few beers, I transformed her wheelchair into a heavy-duty earthmover.

Elena’s costume was a huge hit when her two cousins pushed her down the runway, and we hope it will garner praise and attention as we parade it through our neighborhood this weekend. So, if you see a four-year-old girl in a wheelchair bulldozer this Halloween, feel free to give us a high five and a smile. Elena’s pretty good at those.

More clever Halloween alternatives for kids with disabilities, from Easter Seals.


Do Medicare Part D cost increases affect you?

Medicare.goc logoSome in Congress are exploring policies that would make certain medicines more expensive by increasing co-pays for people who qualify for subsidies under the Medicare Part D program. These so-called Low-Income Subsidy (LIS) beneficiaries often are managing multiple health issues. They are more likely to have a disability and may live with higher rates of functional and cognitive impairments.

To qualify for this program, an individual must have an income below 135% of the federal poverty level, which makes it highly unlikely that there is extra income to pay out-of-pocket costs. In many of the states, an individual who is eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid are, to qualify, below 100% of the federal poverty level. For these beneficiaries, even a minor increase in out of pocket responsibility could be the impetus to stop taking a medication or to skip doses of a medication to stretch the supply. Any of these results could easily lead to poorer health outcomes, which would only cost the program more in unnecessary medical care or even hospitalizations.

In what seems an interesting twist, there has also been a push for more creative and effective adherence programs. If adherence is the goal, an increase in out-of- pocket costs for the beneficiary seems more likely to lead to skipping doses or switching medications rather than better compliance with a medication plan.

Individuals who qualify for the LIS program are already pretty good at taking the generic form of medications. According to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, in 2011, 74 percent of prescriptions for these Part D enrollees were filled with generic drugs and that percentage is increasing. This is an already vulnerable population that needs better supports to adhere to medication plans, not more out-of-pocket expense to make that job even harder.


Find out how you could have your voice heard in Washington, D.C., with Easter Seals Legislative Action Network.


First 5 Years Fund: 1 thing Republicans and Democrats agree on

mtffc_logo_redLast Tuesday the First Five Years Fund (FFYF) announced that their 2015 bi-partisan poll found that voters see giving children a strong start in life through early education as a top priority, regardless of their political party. From a FFYF press release:

“Support for early childhood education is strong – and growing stronger. This year’s poll results confirm that voters across the country see access to quality early childhood education as a necessity for today’s families, and critical to the future success of their children,” said Kris Perry, Executive Director of the First Five Years Fund. “For the first time in our three years of polling, American voters’ top priority is making sure children get a strong start in life, a concern equal to improving the overall quality of public education.”

Democrats, Republicans and Independents called for major federal action on the issue — 89% agreed that we need to ensure more children don’t miss out on early learning and socialization experiences during the first five years of life, and 91% of voters agreed that positive early childhood education experience lays the foundation for all the years of education that follow.

At Easter Seals, we know the first five years of life lay the foundation for a child’s long-term well-being and overall success. Check out the Easter Seals Make the First Five Count site to learn more about what you can do now to support the first five years of your child’s life.


Don’t let bullies take away any part of who you are

Letters in fridge spelling out BULLYINGI am pleased to introduce Elsa S. Henry as a guest blogger today. Elsa is a disability activist and intersectional feminist writer who heads Feminist Sonar and serves as disability access coordinator for multiple gaming conventions around the United States. A fiction writer and game designer, she enjoys long walks with her service hound and board games with her husband.

by Elsa S. Henry

Hi, my name is Elsa and I was bullied when I was a kid.

I’m blind in one eye with a cataract (they called me a witch a lot), and deaf in one ear (and the bullies whistled into it all the time.)

I want to make something clear, and it’s something that not everyone is going to tell you. Truth is, not everyone is going to grow up and stop being a bully. There are people out there who are always going to make fun of you for being who you are, and that’s not okay. But what I can tell you is what I learned from giving in to the bullies rather than standing up for myself.

See, when I was in middle school, I stopped wearing my hearing aid.


Elsa Henry (2015)

My hearing aid was purple and see through, and I thought it was a super cool mechanical device — but my classmates would whistle into it. They would yell into my right ear. They would do all sorts of things that engaged with my hearing aid in a way that hurt me emotionally and physically (if you wear a hearing aid, you might remember the awful feedback sounds that aids from the 90s would make, especially when someone would come up close to the side of your head).

They’d also whisper gross things into my ear, then giggle and ask “Did you hear that?”

I got tired of all the bullying, but I didn’t want to go to the teachers because I thought there was nothing they could do. Instead, I stopped wearing my hearing aid, and the bullies stopped whistling into it – because it wasn’t there anymore.

I don’t see this as the bullies winning. I just see it as me losing. In response to pressure and hurt, I gave up on hearing the world the way my peers do. In the end, what I want you to remember from my story is that you should never let people take away a part of who you are and how you interact with the world just because you are scared.

We as a society need to do better. Parents need to help their kids and their kids’ teachers understand what an adaptive device is, and why you shouldn’t play with it or take it out. I think a lot of the bullying I received could have been solved if we had a better understanding of what the aid was used for. If teachers had better ways to talk about adaptive devices as tools, maybe it wouldn’t have been as easy for those devices to be seen as open territory for teasing.

Something else that would have helped me a lot is the idea of knowing adults with disabilities — people who could have shown me that growing up and having a life is possible and that I would find allies who could teach me the tricks of my disabilities. Maybe if I’d been introduced to an adult with a disability like mine they could have helped me better understand my needs and help me know that, later on in life, people wouldn’t bully me on a daily basis. That would have helped, too.

I write today as a person who is once again wearing a hearing aid. At first I was terrified to get another one. I was fearful that people would hurt me again just because they could. But I’m happy to report that I have not had a single person try to deliberately hurt me with my hearing aid. I’ve had my aid for 4 years and counting, and not a day goes by that I don’t regret having taken my hearing aid out in order to survive middle school.

We have to do better by our teens and tweens – we have to give everyone the chance to grow up with their adaptive devices in place, and to do so without fear.

It doesn’t get better just because you grow up, but it will get better if we change the way these things get handled.

So let’s do better.


Female icon with wheelchair in blueResources for Young Women with Disabilities:

Tell young women with disabilities about Easter Seals Thrive, an online support network and inspirational source of content. Thrive also features a Thrive Tumblr page with Letters to Thrive, which are letters to younger selves to show today’s young women that it does get better. Check Letters to Thrive out!




Friends Who Care cover - pinboard with pictures of people with disabilities talking to their friendsFor parents of school-age children, download this free curriculum for teachers and students on understanding disability and acceptance, available thanks to our friends at Friendly’s.


Book review on disability representation: Sarah Fine’s “Of Metal and Wishes”

Here’s our public relations and social media intern Allison Mulder with a new book review and how authors approach disability in their stories.

by Allison Mulder

Book cover for Of Metal and Wishes

Book cover for Of Metal and Wishes

Of Metal and Wishes, the first in a young adult duology by Sarah Fine, made me question the ways some books regard disabilities and the use of prosthetics.

In Fine’s book, a ghost wanders an industrial, harshly managed meat factory answering wishes in exchange for offerings. The ghost in Of Metal and Wishes has a lot in common with the one in Phantom of the Opera — he has the same fascinating talent, the same misunderstood innocence and the same tendencies toward obsession — but Fine’s ghost is a mechanical genius rather than a musical one.

The victim of a slaughterhouse accident, he was torn apart then repaired with mechanical limbs of his own invention. These additions function almost seamlessly—and feel familiar within the genre alongside other fantasy and sci-fi prosthetics (cyborgs, for example).

I did like this book overall, but one thing kept nagging at me: the way the heroine, Wen, regards the Ghost’s robotic prosthetics. She talks about the distinctions between the Ghost’s human half (beautiful, warm, innocent, etc.) and his mechanical half (inhuman, cold, disturbing, and so on).

Maybe this line where Wen describes Bo, the Ghost, can help illustrate my reservations best:

I see him, the parts that are whole and the parts that are shattered. He is human, he is a boy, he is evil and good fused together.

Although it’s not overt, I couldn’t shake a persistent sense that in this book, injury is equated with evil, wholeness with good. The word “ruined” kept popping up — Wen couldn’t bear to see the Ghost or other “whole” workers ending up broken forever.

These associations feel familiar. But should they? I certainly wouldn’t call injury desirable, but I don’t think it needs to be the irreparable forever flaw implied by some of the language in Of Metal and Wishes. People with injuries can live healthy, full lives. They can experience horrible things, and show amazing resilience.

A few factors complicated my reading of this book. One is the way the factory in the book throws injured workers out onto the street, so in some ways their livelihoods are literally ruined. Another is the way Wen’s feelings seem to change toward the end of the book, where she says, “There is a beauty in Bo that is not just in spite of his wounds, but because of them.” This comes mere pages after the line “If he loses his other arm, he will lose himself.” Even if this is Wen vocalizing what she thinks Bo believes, what about the lines where she thinks “about what could have been for him. All that brilliance, shredded by the harshness of the factory, warped by loneliness.” Is it just the loneliness that has caused some of Bo’s views to become twisted? Is the shredding literal, or a shredding of the spirit, or a mingling of the two?

In the end, I’m left puzzling over how much of these ideas are flawed character views that we are meant to question, and whether Fine succeeds in flipping this perspective at the end.

Ultimately, I think Of Metal and Wishes offers a lot to consider, and I’d love to hear input from you: What do you think of how disability is treated in the book? What about in other stories, like the original Phantom of the Opera, or other stories involving magical/super-high-tech prosthetics? Share in the Comment section below.


How to put on liptstick when you’re blind

My post last Monday let you know that my Seeing Eye dog Whitney “passed the test” on our first classroom visit of the new school year, but it didn’t let you in on what went on during that presentation.

And so, here goes.

I started our presentation at Wilmot Elementary School by showing the kids how I put lipstick on without looking in a mirror.

And then…showtime!

At Wilmot School, in Deerfield, IL

I explained the three rules Wilmot students should keep in mind if they happen to see a guide dog with a harness on: don’t pet the dog, don’t feed the dog, and don’t call out the dog’s name. “Those things can distract a Seeing Eye dog,” I told them. “It’d be like if someone nudged you or kept calling your name while you were working on your spelling words at school. You wouldn’t be able to concentrate on your work.”

I suggested we come up with a fake name for Whitney. “We’re going to be here at your school for a while today, and you might want to say hello if you see us in the hallway,” I said, explaining that if they use my Seeing Eye dog’s fake name to say hello, Whitney wouldn’t look their way and get distracted from her work — she wouldn’t realize they were talking to her.

I asked the kids what their principal’s name was. “Mrs. Brett!” they called out. “Does anyone know Mrs. Brett’s first name?” I asked. After a moment of silence, one sweet little voice rang out. “I do! It’s Eileen.” And so, it was agreed. The kids would call Whitney by her code name on Friday: Eileen.

Most of the questions during the Q&A part of the session had more to do with blindness than dogs:

  • How do you cook?
  • How do you drive?
  • How do you read your text messages?
  • If your dog dies, how will you get anywhere?
  • Do you ever even get into a car?
  • How do you put your makeup on?

The most poignant question, of course, was the one about what happens when a Seeing Eye dog dies. I talked a bit about grief, and then moved on to what it’s like to train with a new Seeing Eye dog.

My favorite question of the day was that last one. “The only makeup I wear is lipstick,” I told them, letting them know how flattered I was that they’d asked. I must be stylin’.

Okay, okay. Your blind fashionista knows you’re wondering: take the top off the lipstick tube, place the open end on your bottom lip and turn the knob until you feel the lipstick just starting to emerge from the tube. Run the lipstick across the lower lip only, then press your lips together to add color to the top. Voila!


Could I survive without sight? My experience with disability

CANE FOR BLINDWhen I’m not busy moderating this Easter Seals blog, I’m busy leading four different weekly memoir-writing classes for senior citizens — some classes sponsored by the City of Chicago’s Family and Support Services, other sponsored by different Chicago non-profit organizations. Writers in my classes grew up in Chicago’s south side, the suburbs, in farm towns, in Canada, India, the Philippines, you name it. We’ve been on break for a few weeks, and a writer who grew up in Germany took her time off to write about an unusual museum she visited during a recent trip home.

Dialog in the Dark

by Brigitte Erbe

The Dialog Museum in Frankfurt, Germany, is a museum where sighted people experience the world of the blind for about an hour and a half. My friend and I were encouraged to check our sense of smell while we waited for the tour to start. There were about 10 unidentified “smelly pots,” and I failed miserably, recognizing just mint and garlic. If I had to rely on my sense of smell to cook, my meals would be inedible.

A blind guide introduced our group of 10 to the museum, where most of the staff is visually impaired or blind. She handed me a long walking cane. And then the doors closed behind us and we were in the dark. There was no light. None.

Living in a city, I never experience complete darkness. The voice of the guide was reassuring – “follow me,” he said, and this gave me a sense of direction. But there were 10 other people there on the tour, and I couldn’t see where they were. I learned to walk with one arm stretched out so I wouldn’t run into anyone.

And then suddenly I couldn’t hear or feel anyone, and I panicked. Had I been left behind? I called my friend’s name, and from then on we tried to stick together.

Our first stop was a small forest. I could feel the soft ground under my feet. I used my cane to feel for trees and managed to avoid collisions. We continued to a city street, felt a mailbox, and crossed a street with raised sidewalks. I listened for the traffic to stop, and for the beeping that accompanied the pedestrian light. The cane helped me identify the step down and up the curb. Following the voice of the guide, I groped my way along the wall to a boat, and swayed in the water as I stepped on. I held onto the railing for dear life, and again used my cane to probe for steps and obstacles.

I held on to the backs of strangers as we proceeded to a bar, where we could order drinks and pay for them in euros. I ordered a beer, pulled out a bill and got change back. I am a trusting soul. The guide offered to hold my cane while I poured my beer into a glass, but I refused to let go of my cane and drank my beer out of a bottle.

Sound and touch were the two ways I learned to orient myself. When I didn’t hear or feel anyone, I felt truly alone. I followed walls, straight and turning, with the touch of my hand and the touch of the cane. After constantly running into people, I learned to avoid them by stretching out my arm — I didn’t want to poke them with my cane. Still, there were plenty of apologies.

I followed the voice of the guide right up until the minute I turned in my cane and the door opened to my world of light. Before we left, our guide assured us that if we stayed inside the museum for just a few days we’d end up as familiar with these dark spaces as he is. Cane firmly grasped in my right hand, relying on my sense of touch and hearing, I believe I could learn to live in the dark — if only my sense of smell would improve.

Could you? What do you think?


Cyber-bullying effect: “Growing up I was ashamed of my disability”



We’re happy to introduce Karin Hitselberger as a guest blogger today. A freelance writer and graduate student of disability studies at the University of Leeds in England, Karin blogs about life and disability issues at Claiming Crip and writes about the intersection of disability, fashion and body acceptance at Ceep Style. You can follow Karin on twitter @Karinonwheels!

It does get better: On conquering mean girls and being comfortable in your own skin

by Karin Hitselberger

It was right before the beginning of ninth-grade, and I was playing around on social media. Suddenly I saw a link with my name in it. I decided to click. Immediately I wished I hadn’t.

Scrawled before me on the screen was a hate website about me, started by my so-called friends. I was upset, and embarrassed. All I had ever wanted to do was fit in, and now people were writing awful things about me for the whole world to read.

At first I didn’t want anybody else — outside of the throngs of people I was sure had already seen it — to know what happened. I felt like it was my fault.

I managed to tell my mom and she was really supportive, but the whole experience destroyed my confidence for a long time, and made me feel ashamed to be myself.

That was 10 years ago. I’ve learned a lot since then. I am no longer ashamed or embarrassed, and I couldn’t be prouder of the person I’ve become. Over the past 10 years I’ve realized that the things that you are bullied for may just be the very things that turn you into the person you strive to be in the future.

Growing up I was ashamed of my disability. I didn’t want to stand out or be different, and that experience with bullying made me feel very isolated and alone. As I’ve gotten older though, many of the best parts of my life have been because of my disability, not in spite of it.

I have learned to be proud of my differences, rather than ashamed of them. I have learned that people hurt you because they’re trying to make themselves feel bigger. I have learned it is never your fault. I now know for a fact that it really does get better.

I also know that unfortunately there are still mean girls (and guys) out there who bully other people from behind a computer screen and forget that their online hatred has real life consequences.

It still hurts, but now I am confident in who I am and I will never change just because of somebody’s cruel words.

Remember, bullying doesn’t always leave physical scars. Don’t ever let anyone minimize your feelings or experiences by telling you “it’s just words, it’s not a big deal,” because words can hurt just as much as a punch. Words have power, online and in person, so use them carefully. It’s important to be responsible with what you say and what you type because you never know how it might affect somebody else.

More than anything, remember, what makes you unique and different also makes you awesome. Differences like disability don’t make you any less worthy of a person or any less deserving of respect and love.

Ten years after eighth grade I can honestly say I am so proud to be the person I am. The things that make me different are also the things that have made my life the most valuable and the most beautiful. Being different has given me some of my greatest experiences and my best friends, and no matter what anybody says, there’s nobody I would rather be than exactly who I am.


Join our online support network for young women with disabilities, Easter Seals Thrive. You can access thrive through, Facebook, Twitter or Letters to Thrive on Tumblr.


Kids! Should my Seeing Eye dog love ’em or leave ’em?

The last couple days of training at the Seeing Eye school are devoted to “freelancing” — instructors expose us to some of the specific things they know we’ll be facing once we return home with our new guide dogs.

A lot of temptation for a pooch who likes kids (photo courtesy of The Seeing Eye).

I visit a lot of schools with my children’s book Hanni and Beth: Safe & Sound, so during those last couple days of freelancing with my new dog Whitney at the Seeing Eye, Jim Kessler (one of the Senior Managers of Instruction) arranged for me to visit his daughter’s elementary school in New Jersey.

The gymnasium was empty when we arrived, and I had Whitney follow Jim to a seat. After I sat down, I commanded Whitney to do the same. “Whitney, down!” She lay down and stayed still. Until the kids marched in, that is.

That’s when she started crying.

“Great,” I thought. “She’s afraid of kids!” This did not bode well for a children’s book author who likes visiting schools. “Rest!” I told Whitney. She whined and sat up. “Whitney, sit!” She stood up and tried to wrangle out of her harness. I panicked. Jim Kessler to the rescue!

“Put your finger under her collar,” he suggested, his voice totally calm. “Lift the collar closer to her ears.” It worked. She settled in and lay down at my feet. By the time we got to the Q&A part of my presentation, Whitney was asleep.

I’d assumed Whitney was scared of all those kids crowding her space in the gymnasium, but it turns out she likes kids. The reason she cried in the gym? I wouldn’t let her play!

Back home in our Chicago neighborhood, Whitney would lose focus any time a kid walked by. When they were in strollers right at her height, she’d turn towards them and give them a lick. I learned to snap a quick “leave it!” any time I heard a kids voice anywhere near us. Whitney was a quick learner. She leaves kids alone now while we’re on the sidewalk.

It’s been a long summer, though, and it’d been months since we were in a school gymnasium to give a presentation. Our visit to the third-graders at Wilmot Elementary School in Deerfield, Illinois, last Friday for Disability Awareness Week was Whitney’s first test of the new school year, and you’ll be Happy to hear…she got an A!

Learn about disability etiquette on


Take me out to the Cubs ballgame, but not in a wheelchair

Accessibility_Information_Chicago_Cubs_-_2015-10-08_09.27.30The Cubs win over the Pittsburgh Pirates last night means they’ll be in Chicago Monday to play the St. Louis Cardinals, but a fan who uses a wheelchair says she isn’t going to bother trying to see the game at Wrigley Field – it’s inaccessible.

Lifelong Cubs fan Marla Donato started using a wheelchair two years ago after undergoing multiple surgeries to repair a shattered leg and ankle. “Even if the Cubs’ season continues, I won’t be angling to go to more games,” Donato writes in a post on the CityLab blog called I Love Wrigley Field, But as a Wheelchair User, I Sure Wish It Was Easier to Navigate. “It’s too hard to navigate the ballpark in a wheelchair.”

In her post, Donato said she’s been root, root, rooting for the Cubbies at Wrigley Field her entire life, and she figured it’d be no big deal going there in a wheelchair. “After all, this year marks the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act,” she reasoned in her post. “We’ve come a long way with accessibility issues.”

Here at the Easter Seals blog we’ve been publishing a lot of posts lately about the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, but I am fully aware that while we’ve come a long way in terms of accessibility, 25 years later many public spaces remain inaccessible or inhospitable to people with disabilities.

In her post, Donato wrote about the $575 million budget Cub owners have to update Cubs Park and the surrounding area — she assumed upgrading accessibility would be high on their to-do list. “But instead of, say, getting the elevators running by even halfway through the season, the ballpark’s brass concentrated on installing big Jumbotrons and an ear-splitting audio system by opening day.”

The game Donato attended at Wrigley over the summer was her first “fun” outing after doctors had to re-break her heel during a recent surgery. Some of the challenging issues she encountered during that fun day:

  • Inaccessible bathrooms. She couldn’t brace herself to stand up on her own in a stall, so a stranger helped pull her pants up and down.
  • Elevators out of service. A spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Justice (which oversees compliance with the Americans with Disabilities act) pointed her towards regulations that stipulate that elevator repairs “must be made as quickly as possible.” The regulations do not specify how quick “quickly” has to be, and they say ramps are okay in the meantime.
  • Ramps are steep. Some “historic properties” are held to different standards when it comes to things like the steepness of ramps. Donato’s husband and a “young, strong usher” struggled together and finally managed to push her up the long series of steep ramps at Wrigley.

Once in their assigned area, Donato’s wheelchair was placed along with others behind the last row of seats at the very top of the Terrace. “Were we all actually expected to sit completely in the main aisle and become an obstacle course for drunken fans on hotdog and beer runs?” she asks in her blog post. “Wasn’t that a fire code hazard? An emergency exit violation?”

Cubs spokesman Julian Green told Donato later that her assigned seating was perfectly legal, that sitting completely out in a main aisle without any protective barrier satisfies ADA regulations as long as the aisle is considered wide enough.

Donato’s post goes on to spell out countless other problems she encountered at the game this past summer, and how she learned that when it comes to making accommodations for people with mobility impairments there are a lot of gray areas — even after the passage of the Americans with disabilities Act. From her post:

It tends to be easier to get around newer parks, built after 1993, which are held to different standards. And there are some allowances for “alternative standards,” such as the steepness of ramps for “historic properties.” Those are ones “eligible for listing in the National Register or Historic Places, or properties designated as historic under State or local law.”

If any of you Easter Seals blog readers know how Fenway Park in Boston dealt with these sorts of issues, or if you have stadium stories of your own to tell, please leave them here in the comments.

In the end, Donato and her husband left the game early – they wanted to avoid navigating her wheelchair through the crush of fellow Cub fans on the steep ramps towards the exits. “We missed the Cubs’ ninth inning fall from grace and then the team’s 10th inning game-winning home run,” she writes. “Now I’ve added stadiums to my list of fun things I took for granted before I had to navigate them this way.”

Learn more about the Americans with Disabilities Act here.