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Is Southern Maryland Doing Enough To Protect Disabled Citizens?

Disabled Woman In Wheelchair Boarding Bus To help educate the public about the Americans with Disabilities Act and the many services it provides, the Charles County Commission on Individuals with Disabilities is hosting an event on July 20. From 2 to 4 p.m. at the Charles County government building, county officials and representatives from the College of Southern Maryland will attempt to raise awareness about disability in Southern Maryland. The college representatives will also provide information about the specific assistance and services available to students with disabilities. This April, a Pocomoke woman claimed that Crisfield High School failed to accommodate her physical disability at a sporting event. Caryn Abbot suffers from a number of physical ailments, including lupus and arthritis; she was also recovering from surgery on her feet. When she went to attend her son’s baseball game at the school, she was told a gate could not be unlocked to give her access to the playing field. Abbot was told the gate could not be unlocked in time for the event, and she says she was instead forced to walk a long distance over uneven terrain. “Once I got home I was in so much pain I couldn’t eat, I didn’t even want to talk to anybody,” Abbot said. “I’ve had this experience before at other fields, but they’ve always opened the gate right away.” Abbot says the school violated the Americans with Disabilities act, the landmark 1990 legislation that aims to provide equal access and discrimination protection. When many Americans hear the word “disability,” they think of elderly citizens or people in wheelchairs. However, experts say there is often no visible sign of a physical disability. For instance, chronic back pain is the leading cause of disability in Americans under the age of 45. The ADA is supposed to provide protection for such individuals, while also specifically requiring educational institutions to provide equal access and reasonable accommodations for the disabled. Southern Maryland residents interested in learning more about the ADA can attend the July 20 event at 200 Baltimore St. in La Plata.

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