Winter and mobility impairments

Winter and mobility impairments

We are in Minnesota and the least favorite of the two seasons we experience here: our dreaded winter with snow and ice. I request all of us to become, if we are not already, “our brother’s keeper.”

Our city is full of totally independent persons with disabilities. We deserve to be able to freely move about our fair city as each of us desires. To this end, every individual should take it upon themselves to ensure our city sidewalks, alley crossings, and street corners are free of snow-ice build-up and all other obstructions to any person’s ability to travel in a safe and secure manner.

Just because many of us park in garages, on the apron behind our home, in our driveway, etc. does not mean you can legally, by City ordinance, ignore removing the snow from the public walkway in front of your home. On my block there are several persons with mobility impairments who cannot safely walk up or down our public sidewalks safely because the homeowners exit through the rear of their properties.

Not to pick on one segment of our society, but both of these homes are occupied by young (millennial) couples very fit and mobile. They seldom if ever clear their walks. Many times I have my staff clear them to create a safe, secure walkway for all persons.

Our City does all of us a disservice by only inspecting walkways when they receive a complaint, and then it takes weeks for them to do an actual inspection. You have to give them the exact address of the problem property. This is sometimes impossible as there is no address on the building or it can be a vacant lot.

I do not understand with all of our modern technology (Google everything including maps), why a specific location is not sufficient. Example: The corner of Lyndale Ave. N. and   Broadway. One plus for us is that we finally have a street supervisor who realizes that City and County plows drop tons of packed snow and ice at street corners, and he made the decision to have all street corners cleared within 72 hours after each snow event. If he is successful, a thousand thank you’s to him.

Continuing education on brain injuries

I was under the impression that I was fully educated on my disability. A few weeks ago I was a guest speaker at a meeting of persons and their caregivers for persons in recovery from a traumatic brain injury. During the instructor’s presentation there was a Power Point slide that has created more clarity for me, but also many questions.

This slide had the brain broken down into its medical terminology. The slide also showed some of the possible effects on a person from what department or portion of the brain was damaged.

My wife loves me dearly, but for 10 years we have had one very bad point of contention in our marriage. When she would experience some personal difficulty, I would not respond appropriately. We have had many arguments over “my inability to be empathetic.”

After 57 years on this earth, of course I knew how to be empathetic. I informed my wife she had to be losing her mind to say this to me.

Well, all of these years I have been wrong. The portion of my brain that was damaged and removed controlled my ability to be empathetic. I have no idea what true empathy is or how to give it. Once I recognized this, I immediately came home and apologized to my wife. I recognize I need professional assistance to help me understand and practice empathy.

Other areas that were affected are “language” and some sequencing skills. As I look back, there are many instances and incidents positive and negative that have occurred that are related to my traumatic brain injury.

I am not saying this to receive sympathy. I say this to inform and initiate your curiosity to research, educate, and seek assistance if you or anyone you know has experienced a traumatic brain injury and may possibly not understand the full effects of the injury.

These effects would be covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA, of course, was enacted to protect your individual rights to fair and equal treatment. Each person or caregiver must know the definition of “the person’s fair and equal treatment.” The system is not set up or prepared for change to accommodate these facts. The challenge is on us to make it so.

Kenneth Brown is a business owner, advocate/consultant for persons with disabilities, and a motivational speaker. More information about Kenneth can be found at He welcomes reader input or responses to

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