Welcome to my February 2022 accessibility newsletter.

This month I want to highlight why making your private practice web site or online platform accessible is simply the right thing to do even if you haven’t been given a legal challenge at this point. I want to give credit to disability rights attorney Lainie Feingold. Much of this current content comes from her webinar from 12/10/2021. You can learn more about her practice and the current state of the law with regard to accessibility by going to her web site at www.lfl-egal.com.

How should we view the concept of access and accessibility? First, therapists should recognize that accessibility is a civil right of the person with a disability. Digital accessibility means that the person who is blind or visually impaired can utilize the digital information independently without asking for help. This right of the individual grants them privacy, independence, and security. A web site that cannot be accessed independently creates a barrier for the person, thereby breaking the person’s right to privacy, independence, and security. Privacy is broken when I need to ask a sighted person to assist me with completing a task. Of course, this means I am not able to be independent when I must ask for this assistance. Security is broken because I must typically give the person access to user names or passwords in this process.

We know that the law solidifies these civil rights through Title II and Title III of the ADA. Title II mandates that federal, state, and local governments make their web sites accessible to the public. Private practices that accept federal funds through Medicaid, Medicare, or other federal or state programs are expected to make their online services accessible to the public.

Title III applies to the business that offers a service or a product to the public. Last month we highlighted how this act easily applies to the brick and mortar business and any architectural barriers. We recognized that the guidelines for the online business or practice may not be as clear-cut as technology and the law are rapidly evolving.

I agree with accessibility attorney Lainey Feingold who states that it’s better to be proactive rather than reactive in these circumstances. Therapists who practice online or who have a web site should make a good faith effort to promote accessibility to avoid future legal conflicts and to promote the dignity and civil rights of persons with disabilities. Therapists should recognize that accessibility is about people and about promoting an individual’s dignity and sense of independence. As therapists, we are bound by an ethical code that requires that we promote the ethical concepts of autonomy, beneficence, and non-malfeasance. Providing information in an accessible manner promotes these concepts as it enables the person who is blind to be independent and to be empowered to accomplish a task.

Are you looking for accessibility guidance? Kimberly can be contacted for networking, conversation and consultation on the topic of accessibility. To contact Kimberly go to: https://www.counselingbykimberly.com/contact/

Three Tactics to Help You Take Control of Your Life

The following entry contains 3 resources to help you establish a sense of organization and control in your life.  Planning and making priorities in life allows you to gain a clear picture of what is important. This planning helps us stay focused so we can reach our goals.  Here, I present 3 strategies to gaining control and becoming organized through the use of a calendar, planner or other list, expressing yourself through a journal or diary, and approaching chores or other family responsibilities by the use of a systematic method.

Continue Reading

Do It Afraid! 5 Steps For Chasing Your Dream When The Dream Seems Impossible

In 2010-2011, my husband and I faced a huge decision about the future of our family.     As I turned 35, I became aware that my biological clock was ticking and I had very little time to decide if I was to have children.  Because we were both blind, the decision of having children was something we put off due to the sheer logistics of the endeavor.  The concerns that had to be faced included health concerns, financial, and practical issues.  Yet, despite the many factors that made this undertaking seem impossible, my husband and I could not let go of the yearning for something more and the desire to go for the dream I had dreamed since I was a little girl.  We decided to face our fears and we stepped off the cliff of life and entered this crazy phase of life we call “parenthood.” The rewards of parenting have far outweighed the challenges, and it all began with us deciding to act even though we were afraid.

Sometimes in life you have to be willing to “do it afraid!” Here are some steps to help you take stock, consider your options, and move forward even if you’re scared: Continue reading “Do It Afraid! 5 Steps For Chasing Your Dream When The Dream Seems Impossible”

Fun and Vitality for the Newly Blind and Visually Impaired

In January, 2017, Irish athlete Sinead Kane became the first legally blind woman to run seven marathons on seven continents in seven days.

For persons who are newly blind and visually impaired, there is often an inner struggle and overwhelming sense of boredom as they come to a belief that their active lifestyle has grinded to a halt after the vision loss. With the thoughtful application of some simple principles and activities, however, it is possible for a newly blind person to once again realize the many benefits of an active lifestyle.

In this entry, we examine the role of fun and vitality in the rehabilitation of persons with vision loss including social and psychological benefits of fun and recreation, how to discover what is fun for each individual, and examples of recreation for persons who are blind and visually impaired.  Nancy Parkin Bashizi, director at Vision Rehabilitation Services (VRS) in Smyrna, Georgia, provides useful information about the impact of these types of activities on social and psychological well-being and presents a variety of adaptive activities and a list of resources for the blind and visually impaired. Continue reading “Fun and Vitality for the Newly Blind and Visually Impaired”

How Does My Faith Help Me Overcome My Problems?

The following blog was written by guest blogger and friend Kimberleigh S Daniels. I asked her to write about the role of spirituality in facing problems. As I read, I found similarities to techniques of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

Ms. Daniels uses a combination of Christian counseling techniques that include prayer, Bible reading, speaking her faith out loud and reciting scriptures to overcome her problems. This is similar to the guidance and support I provide during a counseling session. Ms. Daniels does a fabulous job of being her “own therapist” and illustrating how one can use his or her own spirituality to overcome the challenges of life. 

How Does My Faith Help Me Overcome My Problems?

I have experienced my share of problems, some brought on by my own poor choices and others brought on by various factors that I had no control over. Some have lasted for but a brief time and others have long ago worn out their welcome. I have made it through the darkest seasons of my life because the truth I know is greater than what I feel. Continue reading “How Does My Faith Help Me Overcome My Problems?”

3 Steps for Overcoming Adversity

“Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it,” Helen Keller

What is the meaning of our suffering?  Why do bad things happen to good people?  What is the difference in the person who encounters disability or illness and accomplishes great things versus the one who becomes angry and despondent after adversity?

In this entry, I examine the importance of finding meaning in our challenges, the role of psychological resilience in dealing with our problems, and using suffering to learn and grow. Continue reading “3 Steps for Overcoming Adversity”

10 Fears About Asking for Help

10 fears about asking for help
Having a disability or illness or a chronic illness probably means you  need to ask for help more than you would like.  We live in a society where independence is encouraged and personal accomplishments are praised.  However, having a disability such as blindness or  an illness that limits your ability to stand  means you need to ask for help from time to time.  When I start feeling defeated about this need, I find it helpful to remind myself that I did all of these things when I didn’t have limitations or I remind myself that I truly want to be independent and am not lazy. Our fears often stem from a sense of guilt or own anger turned inwards.    This may manifest as 1 or more of the following fears about our  situation

  1. I am too much trouble
  2. They will resent me
  3. People will  think I’m lazy
  4. People won’t want to be my friend
  5. My request is an inconvenience
  6. I don’t deserve  help
  7. They will complain
  8. I should do it myself
  9. I will loose my independence
  10. I am less of a person if I need help

Contact Kimberly to schedule an appointment for counseling at her office in Acworth or Cartersville.  Call 678-936-6113

10 Things to Expect From Therapy

  1. Understanding
  2. Confidentiality
  3. A warm, caring environment
  4. A Nonjudgemental space to grow and share
  5. Someone on your side as you open up
  6. Clarity and honesty in identifying factors that contribute to your current situation
  7. Help in formulating a systematic plan to address your problems
  8. Accountability as you implement the plan
  9. Help identifying resources to help you complete your plan
  10. Encouragement and reinforcement as you work to make changes

Hearing Voices; Decision Making in a World of Clutter

As we decide whether to take a job or as we consider whether or not to eat that extra donut, decisions form the map of our lives.

In this entry, I explore the importance of three factors in our daily decision making– self, others, and spiritual influences

Let’s consider the impact of self-determination and personal empowerment when making decisions.  Though personal factors such as illness or disability influence our abilities, each individual has the power to decide whether circumstances will impact a course of action. Using internal considerations in the decision making process can be defined as an internal locus of control.

I am reminded of my mother’s statement when I awoke from my final surgery totally blind at age 16. I stated, “How am I going to do the things I was going to do before like go to college and have a family now that I’m blind?” My mom’s memorable reply was, “You can do all of the things you were going to do when you could see, you just have to learn to do things differently now.” My mom’s statement is a guiding principle in my life. I internalized this statement and embraced the importance of self-determination in overcoming life’s challenges. Today I am married with a family, am a licensed counselor and am working to help others overcome their challenges.

Internal considerations in decision making:

·         Individual empowered to make decision using self-esteem, self-confidence and reasoning

·         Individual feels confident due to past success

·         Individual may explore various courses of action

·         Person acts according to self determination

·         Final decisions based on past experience and belief in own potential–

Secondly, consider the roll of external circumstances and other people in our decision making. The negative statements of others can impact or confidence and cause us to doubt or own decision making ability. Listening to other’s opinions and limiting ourselves according to circumstance can be defined as an external locus of control.

What if my mom had made different statements at the point of my loss of sight? What if she said, “Yes, this is terrible! I am so sorry, don’t worry, your family will be here to take care of you and you won’t ever need to go to college or get a job,”?  Or if I had decided not to attend graduate school when I wasn’t accepted by my first graduate school choice. Listening to that voice would mean I displayed an external locus of control.

External factors in decision making:

·         Individual seeks the advice of others

·         Individual considers circumstances and barriers in decision making

·         Person internalizes limitations and opinion of others

·         Past success and failures lead to the individuals’ personal perception of abilities

·         Individual’s potential limited by external factors

·         Decision made from a perceived lack of control of past outcomes and current barriers

We each must find a guiding principle for meaning and inner strength. As A Christian makes decisions, He or she may pray and read the Bible. A Christian could seek opinions of like minded Christians and spiritual leaders. The Christian who believes in self empowerment, might follow the Biblical principle of “seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened,” Matthew 7:7-8.   This individual would feel confident that they made the right decision when they feel peace in a course of action. Psalm 119:165

Consider the roll of spiritual and religious elements in the decision making process. I am a Christian and look to the Bible and other Christian influences as I make decisions about life.

I look for the answers to my question, while firmly believing that God will lead me to the right answer. I can rest assured I made the right decision when I find peace in that course of action.

Spiritual and religious components in a decision making process:

·         Reads scripture and trusted material

·         Seeks spiritual guidance and consults spiritual mentors

·         Seek inner peace during decision making

References: Matthew 7:7, Psalm 119:165