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You know your own abilities and limitations better than anybody else!
Defining and Finding "True" Accessibility

Illustration: a woman peers over her glasses, and wonders why nobody understands exactly how her disability affects her lifestyle.[2] Why You Must Be Your Own Advocate

Whether or not you have any definable "disability", you know yourself – and your own strengths and limitations – better than anybody else in the world.

And even though your friends, family members, neighbors, co-workers, and others helping you with your checklist might know you pretty well, and even though they might know quite a bit about your particular "condition" if they have observed it or if you have told them about it ...

... They're NOT you. And if they haven't lived with your particular situation, others may never fully understand what it takes for you to accomplish various life-tasks that those without your disability would just take for granted.

Even if they love you dearly and desperately want to help, they really don't know what it is to be you. You're the world's only expert - and final authority - on that.

Consequently, to be an effective advocate for yourself, you first need to do some serious thinking about how your "disabilities" might relate to various life-tasks, in terms of:

A. What life-tasks you can accomplish routinely with no special effort at all;

B. What life-tasks you can accomplish with some degree of special effort;

C. What life-tasks you can accomplish with assistive technology;

D. What life-tasks you can accomplish with the assistance of other people; and

E. What life-tasks you probably cannot accomplish at all.

Then you are ready to begin preparing that personal accessibility checklist, using as much help as you can get from your friends, family members, etc.

Print out several copies of your personalized checklist. Then, armed with that checklist, you can call ahead — before you go — and ask the management of that facility specific questions related to those accessibility factors that will be most important (or absolutely necessary) for you to be confident that they can accommodate your particular disability. Be polite but persistent, and make sure that all your questions are answered ... in a way that is understandable ... for you.

Then you can be sure that a specific place you want to go will be truly accessible ... for you! Essentially, that's what being your own advocate is all about. And in the final analysis, nobody else can do it for you ... not even the government.

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