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All Walks of Life - STOP the violence to people with disabilities!

Safety Tips and Protection

A variety of concerns for the individual with a disability. With what can be an endless list of things to be mindful of, we ask you to consider one more, your vulnerability to violence from Predators.

People with disabilities & Families engage in Solutions!

There are many steps that can be taken to prevent or reduce the Violence.

Crime Reports:

Law enforcement states that crime is under-reported. We ask that people not spend time debating about the severity of the incident or motive of those involved in the incident. Just dial 911. Be aware that law enforcement is trained, at least to a certain extant, in how to assist people with disabilities; they should be adequately prepared to help.

Violence Reports:

One of the challenges we face is the compiling of data on acts of violence to individuals with disabilities. One way you can help is to report any acts of violence. Please report all acts of violence to your local law enforcement agency. Dial 911 or the Texas Protective and Regulatory Services hot line at 1.800.252.5400. The worst you can do, is to do nothing.

Outside of Texas:

In addition to 911, check with your state government. Look for the agency that manages the CPS (Children's Protective Services) program or the Area Agency on Aging.

Hate Crimes:

The Houston Police Department views all hate crimes as major, and possibly organized, acts which are given the highest investigative priority possible to ensure rapid apprehension of all persons involved.

The Criminal Intelligence Division was designated as the department's federally mandated 'Second Level Judgment Unit' in 1991. The Criminal Intelligence Division has the ultimate responsibility for determining whether a crime is reported to federal or state record-keeping agencies as a hate crime.

Houston Police Hate Crimes Hotline 713. 308.8737

AWOL - Individual Suggestions and Safety Tips

We recognize that individuals with disabilities often have a myriad of details to manage in the home and community. At the practical level of life, these details are very important. We would like to ask you to add a few more important details.

The reason we ask, is that a disability does not prevent you from being a casualty of crime, perhaps even a second time. An incident could happen that would result in complications to a present disability, or give you another disability, or worse.

Many who have just lost hearing, mobility or vision, are often overwhelmed with the newness. Frankly, who would not be? Time and support are required to adjust to a new lifestyle. Those who commit crime, though, will not consider that you need time to adjust.

We suggest the following practices.
Stay alert, stay vigilant and tuned into your environment. Do not assume that because you are using a cane, guide dog, service dog, wheelchair or walker, that you are immune to predators. They may even target you because of these devices. Be realistic about your limitations. This is especially important in the planning stage of trips you take.
(Can you keep a secret? Folks without disabilities also have a limitation or two.)

  • Consider carrying a personal alarm, the type used by joggers to signal an emergency.
  • Inform someone about where you are going and when you are expected to return
  • If you use a wheelchair, install peep holes in the doors of your home at eye level.
  • If you are coming out of a mall into a large parking lot, consider asking a security person for an escort.
  • Sometimes folks who are blind forget others can see, sometimes folks who are deaf forget others can hear, carrying a flashlight, audio alarm or jogger alarm could be useful in preventing or responding to an attack.
Self-defense for people with disabilities has been a subject debated many times, many ways. One thing is not debatable - to do nothing produces nothing. Actually, to do nothing will produce helplessness.

Developments have occurred in training people who are blind in self-defense. Pepper sprays and stun guns should not be discounted as tools for use by people with disabilities. A fairly new development in the training of guide & service dogs has taken place. As we learn more, we will post it here. As more people with disabilities are enjoying an independent life style in their community, it would be wise to remember the need to be as aware of potential crime as everyone else. AWOL is constantly evaluating methods and devices to improve the safety of folks with disabilities.

Travel Tips for the Disabled Traveler If you are a person who needs to travel with oxygen on an airplane, either ask for or take enough tubing (plus connectors) with you so that if you need to use the restroom, the tubing will be long enough to reach. Don't take chances removing the oxygen long enough to go to the restroom and get back. It could easily cause fainting or passing out.

If you are taking injection medication (diabetic, interferon, etc.) and have to travel, you can avoid a lot of embarrassment at airport bag checks. Get a letter from your doctor stating that you require syringes for a medical condition. Purchase a small thermal insulated lunch bag to keep your medications cool. Bring along a plastic jar with a screw-on lid (such as an empty peanut butter jar) to dispose of your used syringes. Never toss in the garbage - always turn in the used items at a hospital or clinic during your trip. Always carry your medication vials, syringes, swabs, etc. with you in a purse or carry-on.

If you travel in a wheelchair: When booking an airline reservation through a travel agent, make sure the agent contacts the airlines to let them know: that you are using a wheelchair that you need to have an aisle chair or gurney to get to your seat on the airplane.

Know and avoid situations that could lead to crime - such as unlit parking lots, dark alleyways, etc. If you are speech or hearing-impaired, always carry a communication symbols card with you. Ask questions!: Not all travel carriers, accommodations, or tours offer facilities that are suitable for a disabled traveler. Don't forget to carry your International Wheelchair Badge or equivalent with you when you travel if you will be renting a car.

Be sure to check out additional info on Resources/On-site resources.

Blind man, 50, fends off intruders with chain saw 11/29/98--The Dallas Morning News: Texas and Southwest News

STILWELL, Okla. - Adair County officials say two men who broke into a blind man's home were seriously injured when the man defended his family with a chain saw. Injuries were about all the two men took with them after the altercation with J.R. Colston on Thanksgiving. 'I don't think they got away with anything except their lives,' said Undersheriff Gary Sinclair.

Mr. Colston's brother, Raymond Colston, said the incident began about noon when the two men started throwing rocks through windows of Mr. Colston's rented house southeast of Stilwell. Family members said that by the time the men forced their way inside, the residents frantically were looking for weapons to defend themselves. 'He did the only thing he could and got a chain saw after them,' Bonnie Colston said of her 50-year-old son, who has been blind since birth.

Deputy Sinclair said both suspects - whom the department did not identify - suffered serious injuries. One was sent to St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa and another went to a Stilwell hospital. Charges are expected to be filed against the suspects this week.

Judo - The Ultimate Alternative Technique By Jody Ianuzzi
I would like you to imagine you are walking down a deserted street. -- It's late at night. -- You hear footsteps following yours. -- Has the person following you decided you are easy prey because you are blind? Are you able to defend yourself?

I invite you to learn judo. I know what judo has meant to me, and I hope to share some of those benefits with you. As most of you know, it isn't easy growing up as a blind child in the public school system. Your peers can be pretty rough. I remember being punched in the face by the school bully as a way to test my vision. I also remember attending gym classes for many years before I was given a permanent waiver because I couldn't participate in the classes.

As I recall, there was field hockey, volleyball, tennis, soccer, softball and Ping-Pong. Come to think of it, I wish someone had told the gym teacher that there are other sports besides chasing after a ball, but I didn't understand that at the time. I just felt totally incompetent at sports.

When I was older, I decided I was going to change all this. That's what brought me to the Federation and to judo. When I first heard about judo classes, I was hesitant. Based on my past experience, I didn't think the judo instructor would consider me as a student.

Happily, I was wrong. The instructor didn't care if I couldn't see, he was more interested in what I could do, and I could do judo. I sincerely mean it when I say that my life hasn't been the same since that day.

Judo is a full contact form of self-defense that includes throwing techniques, joint locks, pins, and chokes. These techniques range from simple foot throws that trip your opponent, to dramatic techniques that involve picking your opponent up and throwing them over your shoulder.

The basic principle of judo is that you can throw someone by using the motion of that person. Let me give you an example: Imagine someone is standing in front of you with their hands pushing on your shoulders. If you defend yourself by pushing back, then you'll have to push with a greater force than your opponent to overcome their force. This could be impossible if the person is larger and stronger then you are. Instead, by using judo, you take hold of the person's arms and when they push you, you pull them, using their force to throw them. These techniques are done with balance and leverage. They don't require strength at all.

You don't have to be a great athlete to start judo training. If you would like to get back into shape, then judo is a great exercise program for physical fitness and weight control. One thing I like about judo is that you exercise your body and your mind at the same time. So many exercise programs can be boring and you can lose interest in them. Judo literally keeps you thinking on your feet.

Judo is like ballet and gymnastics in that one of the benefits of training that you will notice, is an improvement in your balance, coordination, and orientation.

Unlike other forms of martial arts, judo needs no adaptation for blind people. Blind players have been active in judo for many years, practicing with sighted players on an equal basis. Judo is part of the United States Association of Blind Athletes program, and is included at the Braille Institute in Encino, California, and at Perkins School.

Although these programs show the involvement of some blind players in judo, my emphasis has been to mainstream blind players with sighted players to the benefit of all. This equality embodies the philosophy of judo and the philosophy of the NFB as well.

My students and I have attended many tournaments and clinics, both large and small, and we have never been excluded or shown any favoritism. I remember one tournament we attended at West Point. One of the club instructors wanted to present my student with the Best Player trophy based on her blindness. The tournament director's reaction was to say; 'it's no big deal that she's blind, I'll give her the Best Player trophy when she comes here and wins.'

Well, she won a lot more than a trophy that day. On the way home from the tournament, she told me that it was the first time in her life that she felt like she was 'just one of the kids.' And for the first time, I began to realize that I was giving back some of what judo has given to me.

The philosophical benefits of judo are as important as the physical benefits. As you challenge yourself, you gain a feeling of accomplishment that carries over to every aspect of your life. The knowledge that you can handle a physical conflict makes a verbal confrontation much less threatening.

You develop a strength of mind to stand up for what you believe in, and a strength of mind that will allow you to step back when it is wise. You actually become less defensive and more relaxed. In twenty years it has never been necessary for me to use judo for self-defense, but I have used this strength of judo every day in all types of situations.

Part of this strength comes from a feeling that you are in control. You carry this control with you in confident body language in the way you walk and communicate with people. When you project confidence, you are less likely to be confronted.

The self-confidence that can be gained from judo is so important to children. The blind child who is frustrated by their limitations in mainstreamed gym classes or who is segregated in classes for disabled students, can feel less capable then their classmates. Judo gives the blind child the opportunity to participate in a mainstreamed activity on an equal basis with their peers.

When the other kids are talking about their sports and club activities, the blind child can join in with their accomplishments. This equality is important to the blind child, but it is also very important to their sighted peers as well.

The focus is on what you CAN do, not on what you can't. It becomes less important that you can't play baseball, when there is something unique you CAN be proud of. 'I CAN' is what becomes important.

Self defense is important to everyone nowadays, but as blind people, we are perceived by some as being more vulnerable then others. Judo is a balance to this misconception. Each of us should learn to defend ourselves, not just for our own benefit, but as a means to change society's image of blindness.

Self-defense can be as simple as being sure of who is at your door before you open it, or as involved as defending your life. The ability to think on your feet that you learn from judo can be important in preventing a dangerous situation from taking place.

Some tips for staying safe:

You should avoid short cuts through less traveled areas and stay in areas where there is safety in numbers. Also, avoid walking along buildings since doorways and alleys are a place where someone might hide. Stay in the central area of the sidewalk, so you can be clear on all sides.

When I walk down the street, I try to identify the age, gender, number and location of the people around me. This is kind of a game, but it is also a way of training yourself to be more aware of everything around you, so you can anticipate a situation before it develops.

As you learn judo, your skills and attitude will develop. The school bully will be less of a threat. You can walk down that deserted street and be a lot less vulnerable then some might think. Those people who attempt to dominate you will not be successful.

The unsolicited helper who attempts to take you across the street or the airline employee who attempts to load you into the airliner will both be surprised to find that you are in control of the situation.

Judo is a way to 'even the odds' and change what it means to be blind. I have made judo my ultimate alternative technique and I hope you will make it yours as well.

[Editor's Note: Despite her insistence that she is 'just a plain old housewife,' Jody has a long list of credits. She is a third degree black belt and a Patron Life Member of the United States Judo Association. She is also a Certified ACEP Coach. And if you want to know her Civil Air Patrol credentials, then she is:

Jody W. Ianuzzi, 2Lt. CAP
Asst. Comm. Officer
Public Affairs Officer
Recruiting Officer
Monadnock Composite Squadron
Civil Air Patrol / USAF Auxiliary
Abenaki 264
© 1999,Jody Ianuzzi All Rights Reserved.

Solutions - It's about awareness, education and prevention

These form the basis of our Solutions. Solutions that bred hope, coupled with determination to live life as independent from the fear of violence as anyone else!

Vulnerability is not a pleasant thought, No one should live in fear! Yet, for many people with disabilities, this is exactly the world in which they live. At home, in transit, at work, in care homes, in schools, the Vulnerability goes where they go.