By Amina Donna Kruck 8/16/13
The National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) just posted an Environmental Health Barriers Tool Kit on its website as a resource for Centers for Independent Living, individuals struggling with this disability, their families/friends and organizations that serve them. NCIL notes that the Took Kit is a work in progress because the field is changing so rapidly. The Kit was developed by members of NCIL’s ADA/Civil Rights Subcommittee/ Environmental Health Barriers Task Force comprised of NCIL members with Environmental Illness or an interest in better serving those with this disability.
The Kit is a collection of resources and articles about Environmental Illness which includes Multiple Chemical Sensitivities and Electromagnetic Sensitivities.
Although everyone’s symptoms are different, to some degree, many experience similar symptoms. Solutions are few. Avoidance of exposures is one of the only solutions. Thus, Ability360 has a “No Fragrances/ No Smoking” policy for our offices, events in the community, the Disability Empowerment Center, and our Sports and Fitness Center. We post this on our buildings, on brochures and event flyers, on our website, in our newsletter and encourage other organizations to do the same.
Environmental Illness is a “hidden” disability for two reasons. Even incapacitating symptoms are not typically observable by others, and people with extreme sensitivities do not risk contact with exposures they encounter in public environments. Symptoms can range from headache, indigestion, burning in the mouth and nose, ringing in the ears, cognitive, memory, neurological impairment, movement disorders, physiological stress response (rapid pulse, anxiety), anaphylaxis and others. People experiencing severe reactions are often faced with other people’s ignorance, as well as lack of compliance with requests for accommodations. Many people may be experiencing Environmental Illness and do not realize this is the source of their uncomfortable or disabling symptoms.
In conjunction with the NCIL Environmental Health Barriers Took Kit, Ability360 is posting examples of the signs used at our facilities and articles published previously in our monthly newsletter, The Bridge as samples that other organizations can adapt and make their own. We sincerely hope that these resources will benefit members of our community who deal with this disabling condition and lack of community access in a world full of chemicals including maintenance and personal care products, cigarette smoke, chemical pest and weed killers, fertilizers, glues, and electromagnetic and radio waves (smart meters, cell phones and transmission towers, fluorescent light bulbs, office equipment).
NCIL’s website has a disclaimer that applies to Ability360’s website resources as well. The Kit’s links and pointers are provided for the visitor’s convenience. Neither the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) nor Ability360 control or guarantee the accessibility, accuracy, relevance, timeliness, or completeness of this outside information. Further, the inclusion of links or pointers to particular items in hypertext is not intended to reflect their importance, nor is it intended to endorse any views expressed, or products or services offered, on these outside sites, or the organizations sponsoring the sites.