Alice Sheppard Proves It’s Time To Redefine Virtuosity

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It can be hard to focus when Alice Sheppard dances.

Her recent sold-out run of DESCENT at New York Live Arts, for instance, offered a constellation of stimulation. Onstage was a large architectural ramp with an assortment of peaks and planes. There was an intricate lighting and projection design. There was a musical score that unfolded like an epic poem. There was a live score too: the sounds of Sheppard and fellow dancer Laurel Lawson’s bodies interacting with the surfaces beneath them.

And there were wheelchairs. But if you think the wheelchairs are the center of this work, you’re missing something vital about what Sheppard creates.

“Often for non-disabled audience members,” she says, “the work isn’t real until they see the chair.” Curious requests to know why Sheppard uses a wheelchair are telling of how disability typically traffics in the public imagination. “The movement and the art somehow challenge what they think is possible,” she says.

Excellence in dance is often de ned at the exclusion of disability. The idea of virtuosic performance involves dancers with precise technical control over each body part. The best dance, it’s often assumed, is performed by artists who are intensely able-bodied.

But Sheppard’s work models a truth that is rarely understood among dance audiences: Disability does not signify incompleteness. In fact, it offers novel pathways to several movement styles, each of them whole and generative of unique choreographic forms.

Disability Is A Creative Force

Alice Sheppard initially became a dancer to make good on a dare. It was 2004 and she was a professor in medieval studies at Penn State. During a conference on dis- ability studies, she attended a performance by Homer Avila, a renowned dancer and choreographer who had lost one of his legs to cancer. Sheppard got to talking with him in a bar after his performance. He dared her to take a dance class. About a year after Avila died, she did—and shortly after resigned from academia.

What hooked Sheppard was a question that has motivated her work ever since: How can we move beyond questions of ability to culture and aesthetics? In popular culture, disability often stands in for a vague and generalized adversity. Sheppard wanted to find a radically different process.

“Disability,” Sheppard writes in her “Intersectional Disability Arts Manifesto,” “is more than the deficit of diagnosis. It is an aesthetic, a series of intersecting cultures and a creative force.”

After leaving academia, Sheppard began exploring the techniques of dancing in a wheelchair and learning how disability can generate its own movement. She trained, performed and toured with several physically integrated dance companies, including AXIS Dance Company, Infinity Dance Theater, Full Radius Dance and Marc Brew Dance Company.

Eventually, she launched the New York–based Kinetic Light, which has been invited to residencies at places like the prestigious Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography and Gibney, and to perform at Jacob’s Pillow’s Inside/Out. She chose to form Kinetic Light as a production company rather than a dance company in an attempt to bring the work “outside of the arts bubble,” as she puts it on her website.

The Pursuit Of Wheel Joy

Intersectionality—a term that has become increasingly conspicuous in the dance world—is what activates Sheppard’s work from content to process. As a queer disabled woman of color, she makes dance that explores the multiple identities she inhabits. DESCENT, for instance, imagines a queer and interracial love affair between the mythical figures Andromeda and Venus, performed through the disabled bodies of Sheppard and Lawson.

In their wheelchairs, the dancers pursue what Sheppard often calls “wheel joy.” The pleasures of wheeled movement are palpable when the chairs produce beautifully tight and precise turns, often using inclined planes to harness momentum.

During one sequence, Sheppard lies downstage on her back. Lawson tips forward and launches over Sheppard as her wheels lift behind, her stomach resting on Sheppard’s shins. The dancers spread their arms and hold each other’s stare with intimate tension. Lawson’s wheels spin silently, each spoke catching the cool hues of the lights.

The movements do not represent the triumph over disability. They do not shore up myths about independence. And, even when Sheppard and Lawson dance without their wheelchairs, they do not scorn the wheelchair.

The intersectionality that drives Sheppard’s work also leads her to collaborate with other artists. To design the ramp for DESCENT, Sheppard tapped Sara Hendren, an artist and design researcher for the Accessible Icon Project, which seeks to dislodge the staid blue-and- white wheelchair symbol as the central iconography of disability. And Sheppard turned to Michael Maag, also a wheelchair user, to design the production’s intricate projection system.

Just as she dispenses with the notion that one’s identity can be simplified to just one thing, Sheppard dispenses with the idea that disability artistry must be produced by a sole pioneer. She stresses the interdisciplinary nature of disability art, and recognizes the lineage, influence and conversation amongst artists of the past and the present.

Continue onto DANCE Magazine to read the complete article.

Should You Mention Your Disability in a Cover Letter or Resume?

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Always keep in mind that you are never required to disclose your disability as an applicant or employee. The general rule of thumb is that it is rarely a good idea to disclose your disability in a cover letter or resume. The exception would be if the employer is specifically hiring under a program to recruit people with disabilities.

Reasons not to discuss your disability at this stage of the application process include:

Fewer interviews. You may find you get fewer interview offers if you disclose your disability, no matter how artfully you do this.

Reason to eliminate you. While your disability should not eliminate you from consideration, the reality is that employers use job applications to weed out applicants. Show your strengths in your resume and cover letter and avoid giving the employer the reason to put your application in the rejection pile.

The law protects you. Another important reason not to disclose your disability at the application stage is that you are not required to provide this information. Even if you know you will need an accommodation, it is best to wait until your interview to discuss this—ideally, after you have talked about why you are right for the job.

Source: chwilliamslaw.com

 

Huey Lewis Opens Up About Sudden Hearing Loss: ‘I Haven’t Come to Grips with the Fact That I May Never Sing Again’

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huey lewis holding microphone on stage

In mid-April, Huey Lewis shocked fans when he canceled all upcoming tour dates, citing a battle with Meniere’s disease that robbed him of his hearing. While he hopes the health problems are treatable, the “Power of Love” rocker says he’s facing the possibility that he may never return to live performance.

It’s a reality that Lewis, 67, admits he’s finding hard to accept. “I haven’t come to grips with the fact that I may never sing again,” the Huey Lewis and the News frontman said in an interview with the Today show on Monday. “I’m still hoping I’m gonna get better. They say a positive attitude is important.”

Meniere’s disease is an inner ear disorder that produces feelings of vertigo, as well as tinnitus (or ringing) and hearing loss. Lewis says he first noticed the symptoms in March during a performance in Dallas. “As I walked to the stage, it sounded like there was a jet engine going on,” he continued. “I knew something was wrong. I couldn’t find pitch. Distorted. Nightmare. It’s cacophony.”

In a tragic twist, the lifelong rocker says his hearing loss is most severe when it comes to music. “Even though I can hear you, we can talk, I can talk on the phone — I can’t sing,” he told Today‘s Jenna Bush Hager. “I can’t hear music. I can do everything but what I love to do the most, which is a drag.”

While there’s no known cure for the disease, Lewis says that his hearing may improve with a new dietary regimen. “No caffeine, lower salt, and keep your fingers crossed. It can get better. It just hasn’t yet.”

On April 13, Lewis posted a message to social media announcing the cancellation of all upcoming tour dates because his condition made it “impossible” to continue singing for the time being.

Continue onto PEOPLE to read the complete article.

Resources for Women with Disabilities Who Own Businesses

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By Michelle Herrera Mulligan

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. bit.ly/1Qx9k50

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

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

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. aapd.com

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. bit.ly/1Suwc7m

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

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. comop.org

Disabled Businesspersons Associations
These groups offer entrepreneur education courses specifically for people with disabilities. disabledbusiness.org

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

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. careersbeyonddisability.com

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.hadley.edu

Disability.biz
This group offers business plan consulting and coaching for disabled entrepreneurs. disabilitybiz.org

Chicagoland Entrepreneurship Education for People with Disabilities (CREED)
Chicago-based training and development center for entrepreneurs with disabilities.ceedproject.org

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. onlinemba.wsu.edu

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. aapd.com

Global Network for Entrepreneurs with Disabilities
A networking and public advocacy group offering real life stories, resources and networking opportunities for people with disabilities. entrepreneurswithdisabilities.org

International Network of Women With Disabilities
A blog that catalogs women’s groups around the world and offers links to different organizations. inwwd.wordpress.com/network

The Mighty
A moving blog that shares inspirational stories of people with disabilities overcoming obstacles and creating new opportunities for their lives. themighty.com

National Organization on Disability
An organization that raises awareness and creates employment and entrepreneurial opportunities for the community. nod.org

Source: becomingselfmade.com

For online: Becomingselfmade.com

 

What is the Disability-Owned Business Enterprise (DOBE) Certification

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DOBE-Certification

The DOBE certification is granted to businesses that are at least 51% owned, operated, controlled, and managed by a person with a disability. With this certification, disability-owned businesses have increased access to contracts offered by large corporations and market advantages over competitors. As a group that is considered to be ‘disadvantaged’ in the U.S., disability-owned businesses are often more attractive to large businesses involved in national, state, and local supply chains.

Benefits of Diversity & Inclusion

Disabilities come in a variety of shapes and sizes, just like business owners. Though many people tend to view disabilities as an obstacle, these traits are unique and special, setting a disabled individual above others. For business owners with disabilities, this distinction is an asset within the corporate world. A ‘disadvantage’ can become a positive advantage, letting business owners join a diverse global supply chain where every voice can be heard and possibilities are endless.

Why Get Certified

The U.S. Business Leadership Network (USBLN) created the Disability Supplier Diversity Program to help disability-owned businesses expand through a diverse supply chain. By certifying your business, you have access to increased resources and a more level playing field than non-certified disadvantaged business owners. The USBLN offers supplier events, webinars, monthly teleconferences, better business opportunities, a scholarship program, and a Mentoring & Business Development Program to help you better your business opportunities and operations.

Large companies and corporations are becoming increasingly interested in creating diverse supply chains, which opens several opportunities for diverse businesses. Adding a certification to your business can also improve your reputation within your industry, community, and network, making your company more attractive to individuals and businesses alike. The DOBE certification opens the door to networking and matchmaking events throughout the country, allowing you to make connections and relationships with important corporate contacts.

Once your business is certified, you can join ConnXus’ database of diverse suppliers. This searchable platform makes it easy for large companies to find and select your business for their product and service needs. The next time a Fortune 2000 company is looking for a certified-diverse business, you’ll be in the best position to meet their needs.

How to Get Certified

To certify your company through the USBLN, you must meet specific requirements. Read through the questions below to see if you qualify for a DOBE certification:

  • Do you have a physical and/or mental disability that substantially impairs one or more major life activities?
  • Do you own a majority (at least 51%) of your business? Can you verify this through supporting financial and business documents?
  • Is your business independent and not significantly reliant on another business for day-to-day operations?
  • Are you involved in the day-to-day operations and management of your company, including decision making?
  • Are you able and willing to submit the business and financial information required by the USBLN? This information will be used to evaluate your eligibility for this certification and will be confidentially reviewed in a secure, permanent environment.
  • Are you interested in increasing your access to business dealings with private sector corporations who want to do business with DOBE-certified businesses?

If you are ready and interested in pursuing this certification, start the process by completing the application offered by the USBLN.

Read the complete article and more from ConnXus here.

Special Olympics USA to host its first-ever video game tournament

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wide shot of gaming arena filled with gamers and people

Esports is coming to the Special Olympics. The organization announced Tuesdaythat its first ever video game tournament will take place on July 2 as part of the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle.

Special Olympics is partnering with Microsoft’s Xbox division for the tournament, in which teams will compete in rounds of Forza Motorsport 7.

Competitors have been chosen from qualifier events that took place at Microsoft stores last month, creating eight “Unified” teams that will consist of one athlete with and one athlete without an intellectual disability.

“Many of our athletes are avid gamers and research indicates playing video games can potentially boost cognitive and motor skills of people with intellectual disabilities,” said Beth Knox in the announcement, who is the president and CEO of this year’s games.

Continue onto CNet to read the complete article.

Getty is trying to bring disability inclusion to stock photos

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man in wheelchair working on computer

Nearly one in five people have a disability, but just 2% of publicly available imagery depicts their lives. The photo company, alongside Oath and the National Disability Leadership Alliance, is working to change that.

In the stock photo world, images of people with disabilities tend to cluster at two poles. “They’re either depicted as superhuman or super pathetic,” says Rebecca Swift, Getty Images’ director of visual insights. “There doesn’t seem to be that broad range that you get with able-bodied people.”

Getty has seen searched for disability-related images spike in the past year–“wheelchair access” searches were up 371% from 2016 to 2017, and autism-related searches climbed 434%–and the issue of representation became impossible to ignore.

That also became clear to Oath, the parent company of Yahoo and Tumblr, as they were working to set up a website highlighting their work around accessibility in tech and having difficulty finding representative images. So the company, with consult from the National Disability Leadership Alliance, tapped Getty to help change the current representation paradigm from the inside out. Launched May 17, The Disability Collection, a new subcategory of Getty images, will feature people with disabilities in everyday settings.

What you notice first are people’s faces. In contrast to those common images that focus on a person’s hands gripping a wheelchair, or frame a blind person before a window to show what they can’t see–or depict the blur of a prosthetic leg as it strikes a track–the images in the new Getty collection focus on human interaction and people’s facial expressions.

Of course, there are challenges to capturing a range of disabilities. Visual media gravitates toward visual cues, but not all disabilities are necessarily visible. “That’s why the wheelchair tends to be the icon of disability,” Swift says. “This project for us as a business is about getting it all down and saying: Don’t just focus on wheelchairs. Think about the entire range, and think about how people with disabilities want to be depicted.”

For Getty, that meant building out a set of guidelines for photographers in their network to follow. They emphasize focusing on mundane moments from everyday–texting, taking selfies, grocery shopping. A lot of the guidelines come from focus groups with disability organizations that Oath hosted and shared with Getty. “We’ve taken input from a host of advocacy groups about how people in their communities want to be depicted,” Swift says.

Continue onto Fast Company to read the complete article.

How to build a bike-share system for people of all abilities

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group of people with all abilities riding bikes

Just ask Detroit, whose Adaptive MoGo program, featuring 13 cycles designed to work for people with disabilities, launched this month.

MoGo, Detroit’s bike-share system, launched in 2017. But a couple years before, when it was still in the planning phases, Lisa Nuszkowsi, MoGo’s founder and executive director, got a call from John Waterman, who heads up a Ypsilanti-based nonprofit initiative called Programs to Educate All Cyclists. PEAC helps people with disabilities learn to ride bikes and use cycling as a means of empowerment and self-transportation, and Waterman wanted to know how Nuszkowski planned to make bike sharing accessible to people of all abilities.

“I said: ‘That’s a great question–what are we going to do?’” Nuszkowski tells Fast Company. She proposed working with Waterman to find a solution, and the result of that collaboration–a fleet of adaptive bicycles–launched as a pilot program May 15.

The adaptive MoGo program comprises 13 specially designed bikes. There’s a tricycle that users can pedal with their hands; this option is particularly beneficial to people with limited mobility below the waist. The cargo bike contains enough space in the front attachment for a passenger with mobility impairments to sit comfortably while someone pedals behind them; it’s also workable for parents of small children or service-dog owners who want to bring them along for a ride. And there are several tandem bike options that allow riders who may have issues with vision or balance to experience the benefits of cycling while having someone help steer in the front.

For the duration of the pilot program, which runs through October, people can rent out the bikes at a local shop, Wheelhouse Detroit, which sits right along the city’s popular Riverwalk greenway path. A single day pass on one of the bikes is $12, or users can buy a season pass for $30 and get unlimited use (based on availability) during that time. Either way, users have to first reserve a bike online. “It functions more like a bike rental,” Nuszkowski says. It’s very different from the standard MoGo model, where users check out bikes independently at one of the city’s 43 docks for $8 a day. But after hosting numerous focus groups with members of the disability community, “the feedback that we heard was that many people have mobility devices that they use, whether it be a wheelchair or a cane, and having a place to store that is really useful,” she adds.

Continue onto FastCompany to read the complete article.

Bosma Enterprises Launches Program To Prepare People Who Are Blind For Careers As Salesforce Administrators

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Bosma Enterprises

INDIANAPOLIS—Bosma Enterprises, an Indianapolis nonprofit dedicated to helping people with vision loss regain independence, has launched an innovative training program to prepare people who are blind or visually impaired for high-demand careers as Salesforce administrators. Called BosmaForce, the 18-week course is offered entirely online and available to anyone throughout the country.

“When faced with losing sight, one of the biggest concerns our clients have is how they will support themselves or their families financially,” said Lou Moneymaker, CEO, Bosma Enterprises. “Nationally, people who are blind or visually impaired face a 70 percent unemployment rate, so it is a real concern to ensure there are options for these people to remain independent. Through the BosmaForce program, we are helping to create pathways to high-paying, in-demand careers in which people with vision loss can be very successful.”

According to career website Indeed.com, there are more than 2,700 listings for Salesforce administrator positions throughout the U.S., with an average salary of more than $88,000. It is estimated that more than 150,000 companies utilize the popular customer relationship management (CRM) tool.

The BosmaForce program is being taught by veterans TJ McElroy and Richard Holleman, both of whom are among the first blind U.S. veterans to become Salesforce Certified. Having previously led a similar training program for disabled veterans, McElroy and Holleman have extensive experience using assistive technologies like Job Access With Speech (JAWS) screen readers and ZoomText magnifiers to navigate the Salesforce CRM platform.

McElroy and Holleman developed the curriculum in close partnership with Salesforce accessibility specialist Adam Rodenbeck, who is also a former Bosma Enterprises employee. The pilot class includes seven students from Indiana and Illinois, all of whom are blind or visually impaired.

The group will utilize Trailhead, Salesforce’s interactive, guided and gamified learning platform to gain knowledge on the adaptive technologies and workarounds within the Salesforce architecture. This will enable them to be successful in these careers without the use of sight. After completing the Salesforce certification exam at the end of the course, Bosma Enterprises will work to place the graduates into two-month internships with local businesses.

“It’s not about whether someone who is blind can do the job, it’s about how they do it,” said McElroy. “With such high demand for these careers, there’s absolutely no reason our students won’t be able to excel once they are given the right tools.”

About Bosma Enterprises

Bosma Enterprises is a nonprofit organization, with a history of more than 100 years, that provides training and employment for people who are blind or visually impaired. Our experienced staff (more than half of whom are blind) offers personalized programs ranging from counseling, to job placement, to training for daily living skills—helping adults gain the life skills they need to remain independent, and the job skills they need to stay self-sufficient. To learn more about how you can help our mission, or how our mission can help you, visit bosma.org.

How Xbox Adaptive Controller Will Make Gaming More Accessible

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xbox adaptive controller

On Wednesday night, Microsoft unveiled its new Xbox Adaptive Controller for the Xbox One console, aimed at making gaming more accessible for those with disabilities and mobility limitations as part of their Gaming for Everyone initiative.

The device allows for individual customization through a series of peripheral attachments that allow gamers to cater the controls to their own specific comfort.

For many, the current Xbox controller design (and those of other consoles’ controllers like Nintendo’s Switch and Sony’s Playstation 4) presents a challenge to use as it was not designed for individuals with mobility impairments. The Adaptive Controller is a foot-long rectangular unit with a d-pad, menu and home buttons, the Xbox home icon button and two additional large black buttons that can be mapped to any function.

On its back are a series of jacks for input devices and various peripheral accessories, each of which can be mapped to a specific button, trigger or function on the Xbox controller.

“Everyone knew this was a product that Microsoft should make,” Bryce Johnson, inclusive lead for product research and accessibility for Xbox, told Heat Vision.

The original inspiration for the Adaptive Controller came during 2015’s Microsoft One-Week Hackathon, an event where employees develop new ideas and tackle issues with their products. Through a partnership with Warfighter Engaged, an all‐volunteer non-profit that modifies gaming controllers for severely wounded veterans through personally adapted devices, a prototype was put together that would eventually become the Adaptive Controller.

“We had been doing our own stuff for a couple of years before that, making custom adaptive items for combat veterans, and it was kind of a challenge for even the most basic changes, requiring basically taking a controller apart,” Warfighter Engaged founder Ken Jones said. “Microsoft was thinking along the same lines. It was really just perfect timing.”

As development on the project went on, Microsoft began working with other foundations aimed at making gaming more accessible such as AbleGamers, SpecialEffect, the Cerebral Palsy Foundation and Craig Hospital, a Denver-area rehabilitation center for spinal cord and brain injuries.

While third-party manufacturers have created more accessible peripheral controllers in the past, Microsoft is the first of the major gaming publishers to make a first-party offering.

“I think we’re always open to exploring new things,” Johnson said of Microsoft developing their own peripherals for the Adaptive Controller. “Right now, I think the challenge is that there is a super large ecosystem of devices that we intentionally supported as part of the Xbox Adaptive Controller, and we want people to go out and find that vast array of toggles, buttons, etc. and have those work with that device.”

Continue onto The Hollywood Reporter to read the complete article.