Tuesday, September 29, 2009


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                         FOR INFORMATION CONTACT:
Date: September 24, 2009                                          DBTAC National Network of ADA Centers
               The public has been given 60 days to comment on proposed revisions to regulations implementing the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), as amended by the ADA Amendments Act of 2008.  The regulatory changes, contained in a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking just announced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), focuses on providing individuals seeking protection against employment discrimination under Title I of the ADA with a more expansive definition of “disability.”  Written comments must be submitted on or before November 23, 2009.
The ADA is an antidiscrimination statute passed by Congress and signed into law by the President in July 1990.  The EEOC is responsible for enforcing Title I of the ADA, which prohibits employment discrimination against individuals with disabilities.  The ADA requires employers to make reasonable accommodations to employees and job applicants with disabilities.

The ADA Amendments Act, which went into effect Jan. 1, 2009, and the regulatory revisions embedded in the proposed rule now available for public comment, makes it easier for an individual alleging employment discrimination based on disability to establish that he or she meets the ADA’s definitions of “disability.”  The ADA Amendments Act also modifies the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which prohibits employment discrimination in the federal workforce on the basis of disability.
The regulatory changes in the proposed rule emphasize that the definition of disability—an impairment that poses a substantial limitation in a major life activity—must be construed in favor of broad coverage of individuals to the maximum extent permitted by the terms of the ADA, and should not require extensive analysis. 
The regulatory changes expand major life activities to include “major bodily functions, and clarify that mitigating measures, such as medications and devices that people use to reduce or eliminate the effects of impairment, are not to be considered when determining whether a person has a disability.  They also clarify that impairments that are episodic or in remission, such as epilepsy, cancer, and many kinds of psychiatric impairments, are disabilities if they would “substantially limit” major life activities when active. 

Finally, the regulation revisions provide a more straightforward way of demonstrating a substantial limitation in the major life activity of working, and implements the ADA Amendment Act’s new standard for determining whether someone is regarded as having a disability.
            The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking containing the regulatory changes is posted on the EEOC website, http://www.eeoc.gov/ada/amendments_notice.html along with a question-and-answer guide about the proposal and instructions for submitting public comments to the Commission. 
You Can Submit Comments by Mail, Fax and Electronically, Here’s How:
Written comments should be submitted to Stephen Llewellyn,  Executive Officer, Executive Secretariat, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 131 M Street, NE., Suite 4NW08R, Room 6NE03F, Washington, DC 20507. 
Comments submitted by fax As a convenience to commenters, the Executive Secretariat  will accept comments transmitted by facsimile (``FAX'') machine. The telephone number of the FAX receiver is (202) 663-4114. (This is not a toll-free number.) Only comments of six or fewer pages will be accepted via FAX transmittal to ensure access to the equipment. Receipt of FAX 
transmittals will not be acknowledged, except that the sender may request confirmation of receipt by calling the Executive Secretariat staff at (202) 663-4070 (voice) or (202) 663-4074 (TTY). (These are not toll-free telephone numbers.) 
Comments submitted electronically You may also submit comments and attachments electronically at http://www.regulations.gov, which is the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Follow the instructions online for submitting comments. Copies of comments submitted by the public will be available for review at the Commission's library, 131 M Street, NE., Suite 4NW08R, Washington, DC 20507, between the hours of 9:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. or can be reviewed at http://www.regulations.gov.

Friday, September 25, 2009

More Stories from Around Town

Dear Readers,
I know I most be sounding like a broken record (or for those who have never used a record player an MP3 file with data errors),but things just keep happening while Shiloh and I are out working that highlight the state of "service dogs" where I live. These incidents are neither all good nor all bad, but certainly enough to give one reason to wonder what happened.

Yesterday,  I was, once again, in the library. I decided to get some lunch in the little cafe there. I spotted the perfect opportunity to use Shiloh's counter retrieve/ transfer. I gave her the money to pay for my purchase and she promptly did a ginger Paws Up and handed the money to the gentleman working the counter. He and everyone in line was very impressed. Since I was due change in both bills and coins I, then handed Shiloh my little pouch to allow the gentleman to place my money in and hand it back. Once again, everyone was impressed and told both me and Shiloh how wonderful she is.  The counter retrieve allows me to work with counters that are too high akwardly shaped to reach myself from my wheelchair, as well as in cases this week when my shoulder/neck pain have spiked so high as to make certain angles of reaching a near cookie tossing level of pain I can with Shiloh's help accomplish the transaction with minimal pain spiking movement.
Later that day still in the library Shiloh again impressed a security guard, the volunteer desk person, and a library patron by activation the automatic door button. The security guard exclaimed "Wow, a Service Dog that actually does something!" The lady library patron said "Finally, I see a service dog do something. That was wonderful!" I assured them I know how wonderful my girl is and went about my urgent business of getting to the bathroom. Shiloh assisted by Pulling my chair on the cue to Forward. By time we made it out of the bathroom word about the service dog that actually works had made the rounds and the staff manning the check out desk said "So that's the service dog that opened the door!" I responded proudly that indeed she was and allowed Shiloh the pleasure of a pet. Shiloh graciously accepted his homage and resumed assisting me across the foyer on cue Forward. She, then, dually impressed the staff person by activating the door button that is somewhat obstructed by the security detectors. 

I was dumbstruck today by a "service dog"and handler at the bus depot.Shiloh and I were exiting a bus and getting to the curb cut and out of the corner of my eye I see was looks to be a Border Collie in a blue vest about 15ft away. When they are still around ten feet away I see the handler jerk back on the leash HARD and scream at the dog in a gruff voice "No,Leave it!" She then proceeds to say in my general direction "He like to check out other dogs." It  is no wonder people in this town no longer see a service dog vest as a sign that both dog and handler have the skills and knowledge necessary for them to fee comfortable and safe with a "service dog's" presence. I will not go so far as to say Shiloh is perfect and never makes mistakes (she is a living, sentient being after all), but I believe how a team is perceived is a dual perception. The piece everyone thinks about is the dog's behavior.The biggest piece to people being comfortable around a team being in their space is the attitude of the human half of the team and how they communicate with their canine partner. Those who handling skills consists of hard (albeit ineffective usually) leash pops, swatting their dog, and or yelling and screaming "NO!" put everyone on edge and on notice that this team is not in control. Handlers who choose a lower volume for the few and far between verbal corrections and pay attention to the environment giving cues the dog can be rewarded instead produce a picture of a calm, cool, loving partnership that puts everyone at ease making being out in public less stress and more fun for the team. Handling a service dog in public is far from easy and garners attention at all times, whether a team wants to be noticed or not they will be and the image they present of teams good or bad in the eye of the beholder affects teams that follow.A handler has to find ways of dealing with this attention and the stress it produces with out allowing it to change how they interact with their partner. The swift, harsh, loud scenes I see on a regular basis do not instill confidence from the general public in service dog teams; though, I imagine the intent some handlers have in this behavior is to show they are powerful enough to handle this dog.  


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Norwegian Guide Dog Organization Video Don't Play with the Dog

I Think this video says it all. If you wouldn't do something to a person working lend a hardworking dog and their partner the same respect. Food for thought.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Tell Tail Signs of the Culture and Concern Over How a Service Dog and Handler Should Behave

It is the day to day things and the little interactions that at once make me proud to be a half of a working service dog team; while also worry about our future. Shiloh and I will celebrate our one year anniversary in a little more than a month and we have come a long way in that time. I needed to send a package FedEx today for my second job, so Shiloh and I boarded the bus. Shiloh is very uncomfortable riding the lifts and it is not absolutely necessary that she does so, so in the interest of both safety and keeping her happy about working I send her up first when boarding. She waits for me at the top of the stairs and then we go to the wheelchair spot and settle in. When de-boarding she waits on the bus, until I call her after getting off the lift. I always tell the drivers how we board and de-board so they will feel confident that me and my service dog have a plan. Today we had a driver we have had before and she remarked how well behaved Shiloh is and it's too bad not all the "service dogs" are that way. She said two of them got in a fight once. I said it's sad because it makes it even harder for responsible handler and owner trainers. She agreed heartily.  
The second thing that happened today that gave me solace (instead of grimacing like the above) happened just ten minutes later as Shiloh and I were working to enter the Fed-Ex store. I knew these doors were the heavy glass type and so I brought along our special door hook (for most doors our leash works great as a door pull). I really wanted Shiloh to work the door, so when a woman came along and offered to help I said Nno thank you, I would like my dog to do it, but you can go ahead of us if you like." The woman said she wasn't in a hurry and let Shiloh and I work the door. I really appreciated her patience as this door was HUGE and HEAVY, it took Shiloh and I working together to get it open. She allowed us our independence and space. As we went it the door I thanked her for allowing my dog to work. This made me feel great!
The third thing that happened today once again gave me cause to worry. Shiloh and I were walking back to the bus depot I passed a local antique mall with a sign on the door that read "Service Dogs Only" Great right? Yes until you read the second line of the sign that read "Must be on leash." Why would a service dog not be on leash, service dog handlers must comply with leash laws same as everyone else.
The final vignettes from today happened on the bus on the way home. I got on the bus and there was another woman in a wheelchair who wanted to know what Shiloh does for me and as soon as I mentioned picking up dropped things and counter retrieves her interest was piqued. She then wanted to know what it was like having a service dog. I did not sugar coat it in the least I gave her the great parts as well as the harder parts to consider. We had been on the bus ten minutes by now and another women who had been standing right in front of us turned and blurted out "I didn't know there was a dog there!" She had been standing within six inches of Shiloh the whole time! I casually said, "That's right a good service dog can be all but invisible sometimes."

Friday, September 11, 2009

At the Library and More

Last week Shiloh and I accompanied our roommate on a few errands because her guide dog is healing from a mysterious allergic reaction and there where a couple of incidents in less than an hour that remind me why dressing/ marking your dog visibly as a service dog is so important( I discussed this early this summer).

The first encounter reminded me that I live in a town with a lot of puppy raisers for Guide Dogs for the Blind --This is not a negative commentary on GDB--only observation. Guide Dog puppies here all wear green puppy capes when really small, and green vests as the they get older. Summit Assistance Dogs chose green as their color and as such all Summit Teams graduate with a nice green vest.The vest is now Shiloh's light duty gear; I use it when we are going on quick outings where I will not need her to pull my chair. When Shiloh is wearing her Freedom Design Harness, which is red (soon to be purple though the red one belonged to Bastien), we never get asked if she's in training.

The second incident involved someone else who had a "service dog" in the public library. This was a large Black Labrador that was wearing both an Easy Walk Harness and a Gentle Leader but no vest or patches of any sort and the person's disability was not apparent in any way.She was complaining  because a library employee had come to question her and tell her her dog was in the way (he was laying down sprawled out). The person felt the library employees needed to be better educated and were being unfair to her.Mean while My roommate and I were inline waiting. We got up to the counter and when we were conduction our business the lab began whining loudly and pulling to get to Shiloh.
Lessons here: Chose  your gear carefully and if you Chose not to dress your dog don't be surprised when you get hassled.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Books: Free Downloadable Intro to Clicker Training Books

Ms. Shirley Chong began training dogs in 1982 and made the cross to clicker training in 1992. She specializes in analyzing dog behavior as well. She offers two books for free download on her website Just Plain Clicker Sense, an introduction to clicker training and some work on common issues; and the Clicker Cookbook, this book teaches all foundation behaviors and takes you through all the steps. The number of steps may surprise new trainers, but take head because slower really is better (and lumping steps will slow you down in the end!).

Friday, September 4, 2009

A Letter to My Service Dog

This video show the true journey of a service dog and her partner from beginning to tearful end (have a box of tissues ready!)I want to thank the human half of this partnership for being so open and public with her feelings.