Wonder Women in Accessibility

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The Americans with Disabilities Act celebrated its 27th anniversary this year, and while it has changed countless lives, it clear that much work still needs to be done. The ADA was designed to ensure that people with disabilities become viable and authentic citizens within the United States, but access to resources are often still denied and the disability community continues to fight for basic civil rights.

About the importance of making employment opportunities inclusive, Shirley Davis, director of global diversity and inclusion at the Society for Human Resource Management, said: “People with disabilities represent a critical talent pool that is underserved and underutilized”.

Meet some of the women on the front lines of this continuing effort, either by rejecting any barriers or by lobbying for formal change.

Click on source  links to read
more about these women.

Minda Dentler

Earlier this year Minda Dentler became the first female wheelchair athlete to complete Ironman. Ironman is a long distance triathlon race consisting of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and a 26.22 mile run without a break.

Source: justrunlah.com

Tammy Duckworth

War Veteran Tammy Duckworth made history as the first disabled female veteran to earn election to the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate, she is also only the second female Asian-American Senator.

Source: biography.com

Claudia Gordon


Better known as one of former President Barack Obama’s key advisors for disability issues, Claudia Gordon made history as the first deaf African-American attorney in the United States. Now, she’s the Director of Government and Compliance with Sprint Accessibility.

Sources: tedxuniversityofrochester.com, autostraddle.com

Cerrie Burnell

Entertainer Cerrie Burnell was born with no right forearm and is severely dyslexic. She regularly speaks out in favor of diversity and inclusion for people with disabilities in the media, and supports a body-confidence organization called “Body Gossip”.

Source: disabilityhorizons.com

Alice Wong 

Disability activist, media maker, and consultant Alice Wong is the founder and director of the Disability Visibility Project (DVP)—a community partnership with StoryCorps and an online community dedicated to recording, amplifying, and sharing disability stories and culture. Wong, who had envisioned DVP to last only one year, continued DVP due to the demand and enthusiasm by people with disabilities, she mentioned in an interview with HelloFlo. You can find her on Twitter: @SFdirewolf

Sources: disabilityvisibilityproject.com, helloflo.com

MTA New York City Transit Hires First-Ever Senior Advisor for Systemwide Accessibility

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For the first time ever, New York City Transit will have a dedicated accessibility chief. 

On Monday, NYCT President Andy Byford announced the appointment of Alex Elegudin as Senior Advisor for Systemwide Accessibility. He’ll be tasked with overseeing and implementing the Fast Forward Plan initiative to expand accessibility to subway and bus customers, as well as improve Access-A-Ride service.

Elegudin, a longtime accessibility advocate, will serve as MTA NYC Transit’s innaugural Senior Advisor for Systemwide Accessibility, an executive-level position reporting directly to President Byford.  His first day on the job is Monday, June 25.

“Advancing the cause of accessibility is one of my top priorities and Alex’s new role will pull together all of our accessibility-related work streams, touching all Fast Forward projects and all NYC Transit departments,” President Byford said.

“I’m incredibly excited to be joining President Byford’s executive team,” Elegudin said.  “The vision set forth in the ‘Fast Forward’ plan will make NYC Transit work better for New Yorkers of all abilities, with a strong emphasis on improving accessibility quickly.  I look forward to being a part of making the plan a reality and helping to make New York City the most accessible city in the world.”

“Expanding accessibility is a priority for all MTA agencies, with the subway serving millions of people a day having particular urgency,” said MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota, who has convened a special working group of MTA Board members to advise on improving accessibility.  “President Byford’s creation of this new position and Alex’s appointment are a victory for all of our customers who need more accessible subway, bus and paratransit service.”

Continue onto the MTA Newsroom to read the complete article.

 

Baltimore Orioles Become First Pro Sports Team to Wear Braille Jerseys

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The Baltimore Orioles want everyone to be able to root, root, root for the home team.

On Tuesday, as they faced off against the Toronto Blue Jays, the Orioles became the first professional sports team to wear jerseys with braille lettering at a game, according to Sports Illustrated.

The fashion statement honored the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), which relocated its headquarters to Baltimore 40 years ago, SI reported.

The team’s efforts at inclusion did not stop with the special apparel. Carlos Ibay, a blind concert pianist, performed the national anthem, and Mark Riccobono, the NFB president, threw out the first pitch, The Washington Postreported. The Maryland team passed out cards with the braille alphabet to attendees.

The team hosted 95-year-old Merle Caples, a blind World War II veteran, on the field, according to its Twitter account. She told The Baltimore Sun that she gets her baseball fix by listening to the radio announcers.

“They are my eyes; they paint a picture for me,” Caples said. “It’s like I’m sitting behind home plate.”

Continue onto PEOPLE to read the complete article.

Challenges are Inevitable, Defeat is Optional

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Since she was a little girl, Carrie Davis knew she was unique. Born without her left arm, she often wondered, “Why me?” She longed to be known for her contributions, not for what she was missing.

Love for Teaching and Service

Carrie was born and raised in Spokane, Washington, the perfect place for an outdoor enthusiast. As a child, Carrie enjoyed a number of outdoor activities, including fishing, camping, skiing, boating, and track and field. In high school, she was involved in numerous clubs and activities and volunteered with students with developmental disabilities daily. It was with those students that she developed a passion for teaching and service.

She went on to Washington State University and earned her Bachelor of Arts in English and a minor in Speech Communications. She also earned her Secondary Teaching Certificate and, upon graduation, returned to Spokane to teach high school English and to coach a national qualifying debate team. After her first year, she was one of three teachers in School District 81 to receive the Sallie Mae Best New Teacher Award. Two years later, she moved to California and continued her teaching career. Then she went on to Texas, where she left her teaching job to take on another job: motherhood.

In Texas, Carrie started working part time for Hanger Clinic, setting appointments for upper extremity clinics and offering assistance to patients who were making decisions about prosthetics. Over the last nine years, the position has evolved, and now she functions as the National Upper Extremity Patient Advocate, combining her love of teaching and service with her passion to help others like her as the AMPOWER National Coordinator, a group of more than 650 trained volunteers who assist others transitioning into life after limb loss.

Empowering Others

Carrie was born with a below-elbow congenital limb deficiency and has worn a prosthesis since she was nine months old. She has tried every option available, from the cable-operated prosthesis to the passive prosthesis to the technologically advanced myoelectric prosthesis, including the most recent addition to the UE market, the iLIMB. Additionally, she uses a variety of specialized terminal devices, like a guitar adapter, weight-lifting adapters, and biking and swimming devices to assist her in attaining her goals. She has participated in numerous sporting events, like the CAF San Diego Triathlon Challenge and the NYC Nautica National PC Championship Triathlon—she has been awarded First Place National Female Upper Limb Amputee Finisher twice.

As part of her position with Hanger Clinic, she travels across the country offering her experience and perspective to patients, therapists, prosthetists, and doctors in her committed effort toward improving patient care and is the recipient of the esteemed JE Hanger Excellence Award for customer service. She acts as a peer mentor and serves as the support group leader and assistant for Camp No Limits, a national foundation dedicated to helping young amputees realize their potential. She also works with families of children born with congenital anomalies and advocates for all amputees, assisting those in need to find resources for funding, as well as through her participation in the ACA Peer Mentor Program and the ACA’s Lobby Day on Capitol Hill.

Carrie lives by the motto, “Life is not about finding yourself; it’s about creating yourself.” She strives to create the best life for herself, her family, and for the people and patients she serves by taking an active role in life, regardless of limitations. She believes that the only limitations we have for ourselves are the ones that we create in our own minds, and therefore, she chooses “no limits.” She is grateful every day that she is able to assist in the lives of others through her participation in patient care in the prosthetics industry.

Today, Carrie is the AMPOWER National Coordinator and an Upper Extremity Patient Advocate. She provides peer training for other AMPOWER members, writes articles about limb loss and the power of peer support for local and national publications, and personally meets and greets all new Empowering Amputees members.

Join empoweringamputees.org. Challenges are inevitable. Defeat is optional.

Source: hangerclinic.com

Resources for Women with Disabilities Who Own Businesses

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For women with disabilities, entrepreneurship offers a dynamic opportunity to break through barriers. In the corporate world, women with disabilities face a high unemployment rate and other challenges with employers who can be less than accommodating.

But, as the Disability Network reports, the good news is that for the 27 million women with disabilities in the United States, being SELF MADE helps create a promising future. For SELF MADE women, flexible schedules and custom careers are par for the course. And in the past few years, more programs have launched that offer loans, mentorship, and support. Check out our list of business resources for women with disabilities below.

Resources for Funding

What’s a great business idea without funding? Just another great idea! Don’t let your business dreams fall by the wayside for lack of funding. Below you’ll find information on funding specifically for disabled entrepreneurs. For more funding leads, please visit our “ALL WOMEN” section.

Accion

Provides small business loans to businesses that have a hard time gaining capital, such as small businesses owned by disabled persons.

Abilities Fund

Offers business development training, referrals to funding and other financial assistance options, and more support designed to help people with disabilities succeed.

Kaleidoscope Investments

This financial institution pledges a commitment to helping entrepreneurs with disabilities gain capital for their businesses.

American Association of People with Disabilities

The largest nonprofit for all people with disabilities, this organization fights for economic and political empowerment for people with disabilities.

State Assistive Technology Loan Programs

Services vary state by state, but this organization offers a range of financial assistance including low-interest loans to buy assistive technology that helps provide access to educational, employment and independent-living opportunities.

CouponChief.com<

While this isn’t a fund-raising resource per se, it is a great way for women with disabilities to save funds.

Resources for Training

Women with disabilities face unique challenges in entrepreneurship but these challenges do not have to keep you from your startup dream. Below are more business resources for women with disabilities that specialize in training and development to help entrepreneurs with disabilities achieve their dreams of owning a business.

Community Options

Operating in 10 states, this organization helps people with disabilities find housing, employment opportunities, and other support services. =

Disabled Businesspersons Associations

These groups offer entrepreneur education courses specifically for people with disabilities.

Disability.Gov

An online database of resources and links to assistance for entrepreneurs-in-training with disabilities.

Job Accommodation Network (Jan Network)

This network connects entrepreneurs with disabilities to other people in their field and provides technical assistance and mentoring programs for entrepreneurs with disabilities.

Hadley Forsythe Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Offers free online training courses that prepare its blind and visually impaired students to become entrepreneurs.

Disability.biz

This group offers business plan consulting and coaching for disabled entrepreneurs.

Chicagoland Entrepreneurship Education for People with Disabilities (CREED)

Chicago-based training and development center for entrepreneurs with disabilities.

WSU Online MBA

This online resource is loaded with all varieties of tools and tips for entrepreneurs with disabilities, from writing a business plan to marketing and pretty much everything in between.

Resources for Networking

When it comes to business resources for women with disabilities, finding like-minded business owners and a close network of friends is a great way to get jump-started on your journey to success. Here are business resources for women with disabilities that focus on networking.

American Association for People With Disabilities

The largest nonprofit cross-disability member organization in the United States, this organization helps people with disabilities find independence and political power in the United States.

Global Network for Entrepreneurs with Disabilities

A networking and public advocacy group offering real life stories, resources and networking opportunities for people with disabilities.

International Network of Women With Disabilities

A blog that catalogs women’s groups around the world and offers links to different organizations.

The Mighty

A moving blog that shares inspirational stories of people with disabilities overcoming obstacles and creating new opportunities for their lives.
National Organization on Disability

An organization that raises awareness and creates employment and entrepreneurial opportunities for the community.

Author-Michelle Herrera Mulligan at becomingselfmade.com

Rising Leader: Cody Bowman

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Cody Bowman graduated from State College of Florida with her Associate of Arts degree in 2014. Currently, she is a junior at the University of South Florida, Sarasota-Manatee. She is studying for her Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Social Science in Social Work and Sociology.

Cody’s passion lies in advocating for the rights of people with disabilities. She is a member of the Sarasota County Developmental Disabilities Committee, which serves to advocate with one voice for the needs of Sarasota County citizens with developmental disabilities. As a student at USF, she was chosen to be a student representative for the Physical Access Workshop (PAW) Committee which is comprised of campus-wide representatives. PAW assists in identifying barriers to equal access and recommends action steps and priorities for removal of the barriers that have been identified in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendment Act (ADAAA). This includes physical barriers on campus as well as website and instructional access.

Cody is a 2015 graduate of Florida Partners in Policy-Making which is a leadership and advocacy training program that teaches individuals with developmental disabilities and parents to become community leaders and catalysts for systems change.

Cody has also participated in “Ms. Wheelchair Florida”, which serves as a platform for women in all 67 counties in Florida while advocating for the 54 million Americans who are living with disabilities. MWFL Inc. strives to bring awareness to all people with disabilities and the importance of them being included in the communities in which they live and can have a choice when it comes to employment, education, and housing. In addition, Cody is a 2015 alumni participant of the Mentorship Exchange Program (formerly the USBLN Rising Leaders Mentoring Program.)

When not attending school, Cody works 2 part-time jobs. She is an adaptive yoga instructor/executive assistant for a small company specializing in yoga for people with special needs, and also a receptionist at Easter Seals of Southwest Florida.

During her free time, which is scarce…Cody enjoys traveling, volunteering at Instride Therapy which is an equine therapy center for people with disabilities, as well as being a proud member of the Sarasota Adaptive Rowing Program.

Jillian Mercado hasn’t let a wheelchair stop her from becoming a top model who reps Target and Beyonce

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In the world of professional modeling, Jillian Mercado is certain to stand out — the native New Yorker is one of the rare models in the U.S. with a physical disability.

In her early teens, Mercado, now 31, was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy. She gets around using a motorized wheelchair and wakes at least an hour before most people. Broken subway elevators ( or sometimes no elevators at all), cabs that sometimes choose not to pick her up and cavernous, hidden hallways deep inside buildings are just a few of her daily challenges.

Her infectious laughter and boundless patience could make it easy to overlook the struggles Mercado faces — though that would be a mistake. But she’s developed a reputation for getting where she wants to go (literally and otherwise), whatever it takes. “I come up with things if I can’t do them,” she tells CNBC Make It. “I put on my Bob the Builder hat.”

Raised in New York by a seamstress mom and a shoe salesman dad, Mercado developed an early affinity for fashion. She’d sport her mom’s collections as early as age six, paying close attention to fabrics and shoes. But she never imagined she’d become a model. None of the magazines she read growing up featured anyone with a disability.

“It’s not like I never wanted to be a model,” she says. “But when you don’t know something, how are you supposed to want to be that person?”

Mercado studied at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology, planning on a career as a fashion editor. In 2009, she landed a coveted internship as an editorial beauty intern at Allure. She says she hoped to create greater inclusivity for people with disabilities in fashion. She started blogging. But change came infuriatingly slow.

In 2013, Diesel posted a worldwide open casting call on Tumblr in search of social media influencers of all ages and sizes to model for the brand’s spring 2014 campaign. Encouraged by friends — but with no intention of becoming a professional model — Mercado answered a few questions online and submitted photos. She recalls answering a question about why she wanted to participate in the campaign by writing, “‘Cause I wanna change the world.”

She was one of 23 people from around the world chosen. “I just saw a whole different world and a whole different opportunity to voice the opinions that I’ve been suppressing for a really long time,” she says.

After Diesel, various modeling gigs came her way, and by the summer of 2015, she caught the attention of IMG Models. “I remember the first day I met Ivan Bart, president of IMG, I had bright pink hair,” Mercado says. IMG signed her, and Mercado joined an agency that represents Gisele Bundchen, Heidi Klum, Bella Hadid, Kate Moss and Elon Musk’s mother, Maye Musk.

Continue onto CNBC News to read the complete article.

Sunrise Medical appoints Thomas Babacan as its new President and CEO

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Sunrise Medical CEO

Sunrise Medical’s Board of Directors has appointed Thomas Babacan as the company’s new President and CEO. Thomas Babacan has a solid background as an accomplished leader in global, innovation-driven businesses.
Prior to coming to Sunrise Medical, Thomas was the CEO of AHT Cooling Systems, a global leading producer for commercial refrigeration and freezing systems. Before, he was appointed CEO at the water solutions manufacturer VAG-Group. Thomas also held several leadership positions, including CEO of Leybold Vacuum, CEO of Oerlikon Textile and COO for OC Oerlikon, a stock listed manufacturing technology company.

“In Thomas Babacan, Sunrise Medical has found a President and CEO who in his previous positions has demonstrated strong leadership and strategic skills. Thomas, with his global sales and operations experience, is well suited to lead Sunrise Medical on its ambitious growth journey,” said Johan Ek, Chairman of Sunrise Medical.

Thomas Babacan will start as President and CEO on November 1, 2018.

About Sunrise Medical

A world leader in the development, design, manufacture and distribution of manual wheelchairs, power wheelchairs, motorized scooters and both standard and customized seating and positioning systems, Sunrise Medical manufactures products in their own facilities in the United States, Mexico, Germany, United Kingdom, Spain, China, Holland, and Poland. Sunrise Medical’s key products, marketed under the QUICKIE®, Sopur, ZIPPIE®, Sterling, JAY®, WHITMYER® and SWITCH-IT™ proprietary brands, are sold through a network of homecare medical product dealers or distributors in more than 130 countries. The company is headquartered in Malsch, Germany, with North American headquarters in Fresno, Calif., and employs more than 2,200 associates worldwide.

Chris Lawrence: From Brain Injury to Boxing

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Chris Lawrence-Boxing

After Marine veteran Chris Lawrence sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI) from an improvised explosive device (IED) detonation while on tour in Iraq, he was told he probably wouldn’t walk again. Now he’s running and boxing and has graduated from the police academy. In fact, Lawrence relies on being active to cope with his TBI symptoms.

“We are highlighting this veteran’s compelling story to show others that treatment is available and recovery from TBI is possible,” said Scott Livingston, director of education at the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center. “Our hope is that our nation’s heroes can connect with Lawrence—or others who have shared stories with A Head for the Future—and begin their own path to recovery.”

Following the incident in 2007, Lawrence lost part of his leg due to medical complications. He also found himself struggling with memory, sleep and irritability issues—common symptoms of TBI. Since his diagnosis, he has taken up boxing as an adaptive sports therapy. He says it’s helped improve his balance, concentration and memory, all of which are essential to his recovery.

“Boxing has been the best thing for me, because it didn’t allow me to use my disabilities as a reason to hold back,” said Lawrence. “I could say that I’m better now than I was 10 years ago. I’ve been humbled, and I’ve been strengthened at the same time.”

As a police officer, Lawrence said, “I figured I can’t go back to the Marine Corps. I am missing pieces now, but I can still serve the community, just the same.”

Lawrence also attributes the power of family to helping him continue to recover and cope with TBI.

“My daughter, Dahlia, when I’m having a bad day, she makes it better, no matter what,” Lawrence Chris Lawrence and familysaid. “My girlfriend, Michelle, she helps me identify a lot of issues that I still have. She’s helped me do things I don’t want to do that have made me better.”

Department of Defense data shows that since 2000, more than 375,000 service members have been diagnosed with a TBI—most sustained in noncombat settings. Falls, motor vehicle collisions, sports-related incidents and training accidents are the most common causes of noncombat-related brain injury among service members.

To learn more about TBI and the A Head for the Future initiative, and to find additional videos and educational resources on preventing brain injury, visit dvbic.dcoe.mil/aheadforthefuture and follow A Head for the Future on Twitter and Facebook.

Source: dvbic.dcoe.mil

Disability Includes Diversity

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Sara Xayarath Hernández

It’s not obvious, but Sara Xayarath Hernández, associate dean for inclusion and student engagement in the Graduate School at Cornell University, has a disability. In 2008, three years after joining the staff of Diversity Programs in Engineering (DPE), she was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia.

She recently began speaking about her experiences in managing a mostly nonobvious disability and is featured in Cornell’s “Diversity includes Disability” poster campaign for the month of March. “The more we can normalize things – what disability looks like and how it is experienced – the better,” she said.

For Hernández, not only does diversity include disability, disability includes diversity. “Not everyone realizes that chronic health conditions are included under the definition of disability,” she said. “How that impacts people who have chronic conditions and the way those conditions affect them may be highly variable, depending on their treatment or how progressive the condition may be.”

Having a chronic health condition has not negatively affected Hernández’s career trajectory. While dealing with the challenges of her condition in 2009, Hernández became director of Diversity Programs in Engineering. In 2011, under her leadership, DPE was recognized by former President Barack Obama with a Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring. She has been associate dean at the Graduate School since 2015.

At times, especially when she was first diagnosed and during relapses, Hernandez’s condition has been challenging. At present it is controlled, doesn’t limit her physical abilities and doesn’t require ongoing accommodation. She sometimes experiences complications related to the side effects of treatment, altering how she feels and what she is able to do.

Hernández finds it frustrating when people who learn of her disability say, “but you look fine.” Most days she is fine, but a nonobvious disability is, by definition, not obvious. “Just because you look fine does not mean you’re not experiencing very real challenges in other ways,” she said.

Hernández said the College of Engineering and the Graduate School have been tremendously supportive as she has worked through those challenges. Diversity Programs in Engineering “has always been a professional organization with high achievers trying to do a lot of work, but it has also been very familial in nature. It was an environment in which I felt comfortable sharing with my colleagues what was going on. I was never treated differently; no one questioned whether I’d be able to maintain the level of work required.” Hernández credited the college with providing flexible accommodations and appreciated her staff, who carried forward in her absence so that the students would not feel a gap in services.

Shortly after Hernández accepted her current position at the Graduate School, she learned she was pregnant. She worked through the majority of her pregnancy before taking time off for the birth of her daughter and a relapse of leukemia that followed. “My colleagues and Dean (Barbara) Knuth have been tremendously supportive,” she said.

Hernández said her nonobvious disability has made it easier for students to talk with her about their disabilities. “Not all students that I work with know the various challenges I’ve navigated, but it occasionally comes up in different conversations. There is dramatic diversity in the types of physical and mental health-related challenges that our students are managing, and a moment of empathy can help,” she said.

Hernández advises students to use the network of support available on and off campus to request an accommodation or health care leave if necessary. “One of the most important things I will tell them – or anyone – is that having a disability does not necessarily create limitations on what one is able to achieve. And that’s regardless if it’s a nonobvious disability or one that may be visible,” she said.

Author
Nancy Doolittle
news.cornell.edu