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Plastic straw bans are the latest policy to forget the disability community

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I was about to enjoy my morning cup of tea at my favorite local coffee shop when I realized they were out of plastic straws. For most people, this would be a minor annoyance or inconvenience, but for me it was a crisis. For me, a disabled person, no straw means no drink — if I try drinking my tea without a straw, I risk choking or burning myself with the hot liquid. Not willing to take the risk, I offered my tea to my friend, knowing I just couldn’t drink it.

The banning of plastic straws continues to gain steam with major companies and cities across the globe. In an effort to reduce ocean pollution, Seattle enacted a citywide ban on plastic straws and utensils on July 1. D.C. is considering a similar measure. Starbucks this week joined the push to ban single-use plastic straws, following an announcement by McDonald’s that it would no longer offer plastic straws in its Ireland and U.K. locations.

While reusable straws and redesigned cups may be a great solution for most people, they are not an option for many people with disabilities. For example, paper straws, which are most often cited as the best alternative, are not temperature safe, often dissolve in water and can become a choking hazard. As for lids designed to be used without a straw, they require the cup to be lifted by the user, which many people cannot do.

The conversation then shifts to what people with disabilities themselves should be doing to solve the........

© Washington Post