I’m excited to share something that has been in the works since mid-2014 – the Allergy Law Project! Countless e-mails and a number of telephone conference calls between Laurel Francoeur, Mary Vargas, and myself have brought us to the point where I can share the site with readers here. Laurel had the idea to make a resource for folks navigating the intersection of law and allergy (celiac fits in with a lot of the framework too of course) in the United States. Laurel is an author, attorney, and advocate and Mary is an attorney that focuses on disability rights. We all understand one another’s schedules and are trying not to get too excited by the already positive reception the site is receiving in the community but it certainly feels like being in a study group back in law school. Our ideas spark other ideas and before we know it we’re miles away from our initial topic of discussion. Needless to say, I’m learning so much from them both of them as the least experienced of the trio.
Our first collaborative piece was born out of an idea I had to cover some basic terms – we’ll switch back and forth between “101” style topics and more detailed resources that may end up being useful to other attorneys like case histories and references. The post is called “Terms of Art in Disability Law & Food Allergy” and while it may not contain new information for some, I know that there was a time when I had no idea what a 504 plan was. There’s much more in the works, some of it in my inbox as I type this actually.
Most of all, I feel incredibly privileged that my day job is something that can be one of service and even compassion. Lawyers can have a bad reputation but law is both a sword and a shield – we can be frustrated with the system but understanding the way things are can give us tools to change them.
The resource is free (I was able to piggyback the hosting into a framework I already had and the $15 domain registration fee was really the only specific start up cost) because our time is donated which also keeps matters independent. Below I’ve linked to the posts I’ve done here that touch on legal-type issues but you’ll see that our first post on the Project is not an advocacy piece as much as an informational one by comparison to what I post in this space. With all of that comes the disclaimer that the Project isn’t about specifically advising anyone, it is about serving the idea of inclusion and safety.
Amtrak’s Unaccompanied Minor Policy Explicitly Excludes Food Allergic Youth (this post is what lead me to getting to know Mary!)
As is probably apparent from my own forays, I’d love to do research on travel, labeling, and of course epinephrine access issues in addition to the obvious discrimination issues that come up. We’ve even been discussing food allergy and prison populations behind the scenes so there’s no shortage of content. In a way, these are things a lot of us research and take notes on, we’re just taking an extra step to make that effort into a service for others. Thank you to Laurel for inviting me to be a part of this and letting me play webmaster/designer for the site to boot. Which reminds me, I need to run accessibility tests on the site and get it prepared so that more people can access it (such as those that are blind).
I always say that most things I do bring me back to my webdesign roots and this is no exception. I had fun tinkering with the logo idea as well and got invaluable feedback from my dear friend from all the way back when I was a student at Wasilla High School – Chris Swasey. I also received early encouragement in this arena from Sharon Wong (who introduced me to Mary, actually!), Lisa Musician, Karen P., and Caroline Moassessi.
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