Letters: July 2014

Positive Effect of Gaming
Thank you for running the article on accessible gaming [“Accessible Gaming: Evolution of Equality,” May 2014]. The topic of video games, and the effect they have on people with disabilities, is not discussed enough. There is still an unfair stigma attached to video games despite research showing that playing video games improves social function, increases rehabilitation ability, enhances moods, stops depression and relieves thoughts of suicide in those with PTSD.

It’s my job as COO of AbleGamers to continue the open dialogue on game accessibility, the importance of video games to those with disabilities, and the need for assistive technology to bridge the gap between players and the video games they love. I enjoyed working with Ian Ruder on the story. My heart is filled with hope every time a reporter asks to talk about the importance of accessibility. We need to keep the dialogue open and let people know how video games can positively affect their lives.
Steve Spohn
AbleGamers COO

Seeger: Accessibility Pioneer
What a neat treat to read Robert Samuels’ excellent article about Clearwater’s Great Hudson River Revival in your May issue! [“Welcome to the Clearwater Revival Festival”]. I grew up near where the festival is held, and long before I dreamed of becoming a disability advocate, that was an event that introduced me to the possibilities of an accessible world. This was the 1970s, long before the ADA, and sign language interpreters and ramps were the norm at the Revival. Pete Seeger and his crew cared about justice for all and knew that only could happen if people with disabilities were able to get to the event. I was fortunate to see Seeger play his last show at Carnegie Hall in November. He was 93 and he guided his lanky frame on stage with the aid of crutches. He spoke, he sang (along with his mentee Arlo Guthrie and lots of their kids and grandkids), and when he left the stage, he waved one of his crutches defiantly and proudly to the crowd. Having been friends with the disability community for decades, he hadn’t let joining it stop him. Samuels’ article reminded me to get tickets and head back to Croton, N.Y., for this year’s revival.
Brewster Thackeray, Executive Director
ENDependence Center of Northern Virginia

Flying Fiasco
Apparently we missed the survey referred to in May’s “Taming Our Fear of Flying” article [Southwest Airlines was the top choice of readers]. Our most recent flying experience was a nightmare from beginning to end, despite using Southwest Airlines.

My wife Patty and I have traveled together for over 40 years, across all 50 U.S. states, about half of Canada and several foreign countries, from Iceland to Italy. As we have aged, our mobility has declined. Patty now requires a power wheelchair and a lift for transferring into and out of her wheelchair, and I am no longer able to carry her around, over or through the numerous remaining obstacles to travel by mobility-limited people.

In June 2013, we flew roundtrip between Akron, Ohio and Denver, Colo., via Southwest Airlines. We chose to rent a power wheelchair, accessible minivan and lift from a Denver area agency rather that risk serious damage to Patty’s customized wheelchair and folding lift that airlines notoriously inflict.

All airline personal were polite and tried to be helpful. Unfortunately, not one of the SWA employees we encountered demonstrated any understanding of how to assist a mobility-impaired traveler who cannot stand or walk. At our Denver arrival, we had transfer difficulties, compounded by airline (or airport) refusal to allow our rented power chair to be brought to the gate. Similar transfer difficulties were encountered when departing Denver and arriving in Akron.

Our dismal experience was compounded by its extreme contrast with the extravagant promises made by SWA personnel regarding how well they trained their personnel and how well equipped they were to properly assist mobility-limited travelers. Our experience tells us that, despite claims to the contrary — and occasional good travel experiences by some — few airline personnel receive adequate training about how to most appropriately assist mobility-limited travelers.
Patty and Howard Harding
Akron, Ohio

Track Vehicle Hunting
My chair mechanic relates a story of one his clients who is a 16-year-old para. He took his track chair elk hunting in Canada and dragged the carcass back to camp with it [“Track Vehicles Open Up the Outdoors,” May 2014].
Dale Gee, via Facebook

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