Reading this story Amy Tenderich posted on her blog (which makes me feel extremely upset -not at Amy, but at what the situation she wrote about), I wonder and want to put the question out there:

Should diabetes be officially considered as a disability to protect people from situations like the one experience the person in the post by Amy.

Tags: disability, policy

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Even before reading the article - YES. The author of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) will tell you that he had conditions just like diabetes in mind when he wrote it and argued for it's passage. The act is intended to cover not only those visible disabilities we see in people missing limbs or confined to a wheel chair, but people who have conditions that are 'percieved' to be a disability - like diabetes.

Employers, schools, public places should be required to make reasonable accommodations for diabetics and forbidden from discriminating against us.

Now I'll go read the article.
Well, Im going to say yes. This happened to me last weekend (copied from my journal and edited for language)

So i had a can of diet coke on me because my blood sugar was so high it wasnt reading and i needed to keep fluids in me. we are on our way walking toward the concert (chevelle was going to be there) and the security guy wont let me up because I have a can of coke and it is a Pepsi sponsored event. So I start argueing that I will not throw it out because I need it and if they really want to stop me, go buy me a can of diet pepsi....they said no. I then explane that Im diabetic and I need it, they guy says no. At this point im causing a huge scene and he gets his supervisor OVER A FREAKING CAN OF DIET COKE! I even lift up my shirt to show them my gross fat stomach to show them the port for my pump and I dangle my medical ID in their faces. They still give me a hard time. So I told them that I will just sue their security company because its a medical liability and seeing my coach purge (which was a gift, lol) they probably see I have money and Told me that I have to smuggle it in. so my friend scott sticks it in his shorts pocket and the guy says if i get caught he didnt tell me to do that. 25 minutes later we get up there, the blood sugar still isnt reading, so I change the pump site and then go behind the porta johns and chug it, stick it under a japanese memorial sign, take pictures of it, and we go about our day.

I wasn't going to sue them, I was just really upset and frustrated
Yes. I, myself, have dealt with diabetes discrimination, but couldn't do anything about it at the time because I wasn't actually hired by the company. It's frustrating. And reasonable accomodations should be made for anyone who has a health problem, not just diabetics. It could be allergies, people with sight problems, those that deal with seizures or asthma. It is all too often that those with health problems have to deal with being discriminated against.
Could this cause an unforseen back lash? After the American Disabilities Act was adopted in the early 1990's, my office sought to comply by having a ramp and a braille sign installed at the front of the building. Since our building was leased, was built in the 1950's, was on a slab foundation, and had limited space, we were not required to install an ADA compliant bathroom (the law contained an exception). But, since we did not have an ADA compliant bathroom, the law stated that we could no longer offer our present bathrooms to the public.

All was well until one day one of my assistant managers was closing a loan with one of our long time customers, who sufferred from a kidney failure, etc. Mr. Customer asked if he could use our bathroom (he had used it in the past). My assistant informed him that we no longer had a "public" restroom. Mr. Customer then excused himself and walked out to the front door and unrinated off of the front porch. He then returned to the loan closing table, in a state of humiliation, apologized, and explained that due to his kidney condition he was not able to adequately control his bladder, etc. and he was afraid that he would wet his pants. When I was informed of this, I said to hell with denying people access to our non-ADA compliant bathrooms.

The intention is good, but most intentions are usually loaded with exceptions when adopted. I would hate to see diabetics (especially me) legally denied jobs because they might suffer blood sugar lows or highs, etc. Caution is in order.
I contacted the ADA recently because I flew to OH and the stewardess took my medical bag away from me on the plane and put it where i was unable to reach it. It wouldn't have been much of a problem if I hadn't had knee surgery a few weeks before and wasn't on crutches, but she also took those away from me so I couldn't get to the bag if I needed it in flight. She refused to give back to me even after I threatened her with legal action. So when I got back to AL, I reported it to the airline as well as the ADA
I'm torn on this one.

Federal law defines a disability as, "as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits or restricts the condition, manner, or duration under which an average person in the population can perform a major life activity, such as walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, working, or taking care of oneself. (An impairment or diagnosis, in and of itself, does not necessarily constitute a disability: it must 'substantially limit' these activities.)"

I guess I tend to agree with this definition in so much as diabetes does not necessarily constitute a disability. I do think that there should be protections for diabetics and other people with medical diagnoses that require special considerations (i.e, carrying medications and supplies on planes, bringing otherwise prohibited foods/liquids into restricted areas, etc...). I also think that diabetes, or its consequences, can be a disability in certain cases.

Its a really difficult issue for me -- as a type I diabetic I don't consider myself "disabled" but I do expect certain limited protections so that I can adequately care for myself (whether that be on planes, at work, or at a concert hall).
An individual with a disability is defined by the ADA as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such an impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment. and

The phrase in BOLD is of particular relevance to diabetes because although diabetes is not a 'disability' in the conventional sense - you can't spot one on sight - it is perceived by many to be a disability. Think of the sad looks and condolences you get from people who learn you are diabetic, or the stories they tell you of relatives who lost limbs and eyesight, or the things they say you'll never be able to do. It's all b.s, of course, but that's the point. Because people believe that b.s. they feel justified in refusing to hire diabetics, refusing to allow them to keep medical supplies handy, or refusing to allow them to engage in some activities. That's discrimination based on a 'disability' which is easy to accommodate.

They shouldn't be allowed to get away with it.
Tim, I am with you on this one. Upon reading Manny's question, my first thought was "I'm not disabled!" I've spent my whole life proving that I am "normal" and can, relatively most of the time, perform any activities and do anything tha non-diabetics can do.

At the same time, I know allowances are made for my health. For example, when I was low one day at work ( I work in publishing) and didn't have anything on me to help me, my manager insisted I leave the office and get myself some juice. It may help that her husband is diabetic - maybe she just understood.

That being said, I've never experienced any discrimination because of my diabetes. Most people are understanding. God help the person who tries to take my medicine from me - they would regret it. lol

I do agree that there should be something in the law that protects people who live with chronic illnesses and who are not necessarily physically disabled. It's just hard to know how the language should be written - I don't want to think of myself as disabled and don't want to be looked at that way either. At the same time, if there is ever situation where I am discriminated against - I'd like to have the law on my side.
I agree whole-heartedly with Tim. I don't look at diabetes as a crutch, without it I would probably throw my health to the side like so many men do. I would venture a guess that most diabetics my age take better care of their bodies than non-diabetics do. I mean give us a break. If someone says I need my glasses to read this or I need my glasses to see do we write them off as disabled? Why is it frowned upon when we need to check our blood sugar or take an injection? We're doing it so we don't hurt ourselves similar to not crossing a busy street without your glasses on. I never have and as long as God allows it never will file for disability. I will leave that to those truly in need of that support.

Whew! My two cents!
Yes! If diabetes impairs a person's ability to work or go to school, they should without a doubt be able to receive government benefits (including Medicare) just as people with AIDS, depression and other chronic conditions can. On the same token, we should be protected in the workplace just as mobility-impaired people are. It's up to us to make it happen.
I agree that diabetes can be disabling condition, especially when not allowed to properly treat the desease. If a company, school or employer do not allow someone to use the necessary tools to manage their diabetes, they could become acutely disabled with either hypo or hyper glycemia and end up temp. completely disabled. In the long run, policy or rules which restrict persons from properly caring for their desease or condition would be violating the A.D.A.

Unfortunately, a can of coke or pepsi is usually not allowed to be brought into an event for both security and business reasons. I think Amy had the right to ask to bring in the pepsi. I think on both sides, the battle picked was an over reaction. Water could have been either purchased or found for free in the concert and would have been a better remedy then a beverage with caffeine in it, which ultimately acts as a diaretic and can prevent optimal hydration in a D.K.A. situation.
It's not victimization to expect the law to protect us from discrimination. If a person refuses to hire you solely because you're diabetic and 'something might happen' you might sing a different tune. If you're employer fired you because you might go into a coma, or embarass the company by having to leave to check your blood sugar, or might increase their health insurance premium, you'd be looking for a lawyer.

Under the law it IS a disability (see above) and employers, governments and public facilities are required to provide 'reasonable accommodations' - such as giving you time to take a break to check your BG, giving you time to get an injection if needed, allowing you to keep medical supplies in an accessible place, protecting you from harassment on the basis of your physical conditions.

The purpose of the ADA is not to make people victims but to allow them to "live normal lives." And to make sure employers, schools and public facilities give us room to live normal lives. The fact it that most people do not need to take multiple daily injections just to keep living. We do. The ADA prevents those who don't from keeping us away from living a 'normal life.'




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