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.

Fearless Amputee Mama Cax Encourages Others to Face Anything

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Mama Cax is seen standing with crutches after having her right leg amputated

By Hiliary Innerbichler

Mama Cax, born Cacsmy Brutus, was given only three weeks to live when she was diagnosed with bone (osteosarcoma) and lung cancer at 14 years old.

Now in her late 20s—and after having her right leg amputated due to an unsuccessful hip replacement following chemotherapy—the Haitian-American is an advocate who utilizes social media as a platform to talk about body positivity and to dismantle the image of what people with disabilities should look like.

“When I first started blogging, a lot of women amputees were messaging me about how they’d never seen an amputee on social media or anywhere showing their prosthetics,” she said in an interview with Teen Vogue. “I think it’s so important to show people who have physical disabilities because there are people out there who buy products and never see themselves represented in any way, shape, or form.”

In 2016, the blogger, advocate, motivational speaker and model was invited to the White House to walk in the first ever White House Fashion Show to celebrate inclusive design, assistive technology, and prosthetics.

Soon after, Cax was made one of the faces of Tommy Hilfiger’s adaptive line, and since then has made her debut walking the runway at New York Fashion week in designer Becca McCharen-Tran’s Spring 2019 show.

Mama Cax has now partnered with Olay in their new campaign #FaceAnything to encourage women to live fearlessly and to have the confidence to be unapologetically bold and true to themselves, according to health.com.

Source: Vogue.com, boredpanda.com, mamacax.com, health.com

Headed to Disability:IN 2019? Discover The Magnificent Mile!

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Picture of the Marriott Hotel on Chicago's Magnificent Mile with a sunset background and other tall buildings

While you’re in town for the 2019 Disability:IN 22nd Annual National Conference & Expo July 15–18, 2019, check out some of the fine food that Chicago is so well known for. We’ve assembled a list of several accessible restaurants, as well as shopping, other necessities, and the transportation to get you there.

All these businesses are within easy reach of the Disability:IN host hotel, the Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile, located on downtown Michigan Avenue. This popular area of Michigan Avenue offers much to see and do, with fine hotels, restaurants, shopping, art, music, architecture, museums and parks.

Restaurants

312 Chicago

Italian

136 N. La Salle St

(312) 696-2420

Elevator use, WC-accessible seating, accessible restroom, lobby entry fully accessible

Spiaggia

Italian

980 North Michigan Ave

(312) 280-3300

No steps, WC-accessible seating, accessible restroom, lobby entry fully accessible

Chicago Cut Steakhouse

Steaks

300 N LaSalle

312.389.1800

Elevator use, WC-accessible seating, accessible restroom, lobby entry fully accessible

Cocoro

Japanese

668 N Wells St

(312) 943-2220

No steps, WC-accessible seating, accessible restroom, lobby entry fully accessible

Coco Pazzo Café

Italian

636 N Saint Clair St

(312) 664-2777

WC-accessible seating, accessible restroom, lobby entry fully accessible

Epic Restaurant

Contemporary American

112 West Hubbard Street

(312) 222-4940

Private dining not accessible, WC-accessible seating, accessible restroom, lobby entry fully accessible

Frankie’s Pizzeria & Scaloppine

Italian

900 N Michigan Ave

(312) 266-2500

No steps, WC-accessible seating, accessible bar area, accessible restroom, lobby entry fully accessible

Big Bowl

Chinese

60 E Ohio St

(312) 951-1888

WC-accessible seating, accessible restroom, lobby entry fully accessible

Accessible Transportation

Open Taxis

Centralized dispatch service for all Chicago wheelchair-accessible vehicles

(855) 928-1010 or (773) 657-3006 (direct line for pickup)

Special Needs Chicago

Wheelchair-accessible nonemergency transportation provider

(630) 668-9999

Shopping, Pharmacy & Dry Cleaning

The Shops at North Bridge

520 N Michigan Ave

(312) 327-2300

Walgreens Pharmacy

757 N Michigan Ave

(312) 664-8686

Randolph Cleaners

100 W Randolph St #209

(312) 357-6433

Register for the 2019 Disability:IN Conference at Disability:IN.org

Sources: wheelchairjimmy.com, choosechicago.com

ESPN to Present the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance to High School Football Coach Rob Mendez at The 2019 ESPYS

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Rob Mendez poses with group of high school football team

High school football coach Rob Mendez will be honored with the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance at The 2019 ESPYS.

ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro shared the news with Mendez on this video. The award is given to a deserving member of the sporting world who has overcome great obstacles through perseverance and determination. Mendez was born with tetra-amelia syndrome, a rare disorder that caused him to be born without arms or legs.

“I am incredibly honored, excited and humbled to receive this honor,” says Coach Mendez. “I still remember one of my favorite all-time ESPN anchors Stuart Scott delivering his Jimmy V Award acceptance speech. Thank you to ESPN and all of my family, friends and of course players for believing in me! Who Says I Can’t!”

Though Mendez himself was not able to play football, he did develop a passion for it at an early age and has channeled his passion for the sport into a standout coaching career. He taught himself the fundamentals of the sport using the Madden video games, became manager of the football team as a freshman in high school, and eventually quarterback coach in his senior year. After graduating, he spent 12 years as an assistant coach for various programs, where he was regularly overlooked for the head coaching position he knew he was ready for.

Finally, in 2018, he was hired as a head coach for the junior varsity football team at Prospect High School in Saratoga, CA. In his first season, he led his team to an incredible 8-2 record and narrowly lost the league championship game 3-0. His football acumen, positive outlook, and genuine love for his team have made him a revered coach, and those around him are endlessly inspired by the adversity he overcomes in his day-to-day life. Mendez will be presented with the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance at The 2019 ESPYS presented by Capital One, hosted by Tracy Morgan, live on ABC at 8 p.m. ET on July 10.

“Rob’s entire life embodies the word perseverance,” says Pitaro. “From the time he was born, Rob has had to overcome all the assumptions others had about what he couldn’t do. Yet his confidence and fierce dedication to following his dream of coaching have inspired so many people – both on and off the field. He has made such a positive impact on his players, other coaches, parents and many across the community – and we are incredibly proud to be presenting Rob with this award at The ESPYS.”

In 2007, Women’s College basketball coach Kay Yow became the very first recipient of the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance. Past recipients include Eric LeGrand, Anthony Robles, George Karl, Dick and Rick Hoyt, Stuart Scott, Devon and Leah Still, Craig Sager, Jarrius Robertson and Jim Kelly.

The ESPYS helps to raise awareness and funds for the V Foundation for Cancer Research, the charity founded by ESPN and the late basketball coach Jim Valvano at the first ESPYS back in 1993. ESPN has helped raise close to $97 million for the V Foundation over the past 26 years. Tickets are available for public purchase at AXS.com. The ESPYS are executive produced by Maura Mandt and co-produced by Maggievision Productions.

About The ESPYS

The ESPYS gather top celebrities from sports and entertainment to commemorate the past year in sports by recognizing major sports achievements, reliving unforgettable moments and saluting the leading performers and performances. The 2019 ESPYS will recognize achievements in categories such as “Best MLB Player,” “Best Team,” “Best Female Athlete” and “Best Upset.” Inspiring human stories are showcased through three pillar awards – the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage, the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance and the Pat Tillman Award for Service. The ESPYS support ESPN’s ongoing commitment to the V Foundation for Cancer Research, launched by ESPN with the late Jim Valvano in 1993.

This Woman’s 37-Year Wait For A Barbie That Looks Like Her Is Finally Over

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Barbie sittin in a wheelchair is with her group of doll friends

You’re never too old to play with Barbie—especially when you’ve been waiting 37 years for one you can see yourself in.

Jessica Jewett is a Georgia-based author and artist who was born with arthrogryposis multiplex congenita and uses a wheelchair. When she learned through Instagram that the iconic doll brand is expanding and diversifying its offerings to include a Barbie with a prosthetic limb and a Barbie who uses a wheelchair, she had an emotional reaction.

“It just took me back to being 5, 6, 7 years old, asking my mom and grandma why there aren’t dolls that look like me,” she told HuffPost. “I used to ask all the time why Barbie’s parent company Mattel couldn’t make a wheelchair for the doll.”

It’s a long time coming for Jewett, who wrote on Twitter that this was the toy she “needed as a little girl.” Growing up in the ’80s, she has no memory of seeing herself represented in dolls and toys like her friends did.

“I would just start making up my own thing instead, which is probably why I became a writer,” she said. “I ended up having to make up my own stories that had nothing to do with me, because there was nothing like me out there.”

That lack of representation and accessibility followed Jewett into other aspects of her life, as well. At her elementary school, the special education classrooms were in a back room, where she said the teachers were more like babysitters than actual teachers.

“I used to sort of have this feeling from a really young age that I was different, but not understanding why that difference was something to be hidden,” she said. She went from shy kid to child advocate at just 12 years old, when her middle school refused to build an entrance ramp for her to use.

Accessibility remains a pressing issue in many parts of the U.S. ― which is one reason Jewett was so excited to see that Mattel will now also offer a ramp that is compatible with the doll’s famous DreamHouse set.

Continue on to Huff Post to read the complete article.

Special Olympics New York Seeks Record Fan Turnout For 2019 Summer Games

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participants in special olympics swim in the water with a crowd cheering them on

With less than two weeks to go before the largest statewide competition of the year, Special Olympics New York President and CEO Stacey Hengsterman today renewed the call for volunteers at the 2019 Summer Games.

“Volunteers are the reason Special Olympics New York can offer this statewide competition to our athletes at no cost,” said Hengsterman. “They are our organizers, judges, athlete escorts and so much more. Most importantly, we count on volunteers to show up and be our fans. We invite everyone from the community to cheer on our athletes at Summer Games, a fan experience that is truly like no other in sports!” Nearly 1,700 athletes and coaches from nine regions across New York State will gather in Dutchess County on June 14-15 to compete in eight sports: Swimming, Volleyball, Basketball, Track & Field, Bowling, Gymnastics, Powerlifting and Tennis.

There is still a need for volunteers in all areas, but especially track and field, the largest event of the weekend. There is volunteer training onsite so no prior experience is needed. No running or jumping required, you can leave that to the athletes.

Fan involvement is also a key element of each competition.

“Our fans are the best,” said Jude Killar, a Special Olympics New York athlete competing in basketball. “Their cheering and encouragement help me play harder. I always do my best when I know people are rooting for me.”
Fan attendance is not only an incredible experience for the athletes; it’s also an amazing experience for the fans themselves. “Being a fan at last year’s Summer Games was the highlight of 2018 for me,” said Christopher Eder, a volunteer at last year’s Summer Games in Albany. “I still remember the moment when an athlete hit a buzzer-beater as time expired and the Siena basketball players stormed the court. It was like something out of a movie.”

If you want to help break records at the 2019 Special Olympics New York Summer Games, join us at www.specialolympicsny.org/SummerGames.

About Special Olympics New York
Special Olympics New York is the largest state chapter in the country, serving more than 67,000 athletes across New York with year-round sports training, athletic competition, and health screenings. The organization also partners with nearly 150 schools statewide to offer unified sports. All Special Olympics New York programs are offered at no cost to athletes, their families or caregivers. Learn more at specialolympicsNY.org and #SpecialOlympicsNY.

5 Ailments Chinese Medicine Formulas Can Help

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a picture of herbal medicines on a table with a cup of tea and napkins

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA – Traditional Chinese medicine has been practiced for thousands of years and is well respected worldwide. Out of that health and wellness field there has emerged the area of Chinese herbal formulas.

According to the National Institutes of Health, herbal medicines are a type of dietary supplement that people take to try and maintain or improve their health. One company, DAO Labs, has taken the art of Chinese herbal medicine and has created a line of safe and effective, easy-to-use formulas that help with a variety of health needs.

“Most people are familiar with the idea of Chinese medicine, but are not sure how to easily incorporate it into their life,” explains John G. McGarvey, co-founder and chief executive officer of DAO Labs, a company that makes Chinese herbal medicine formulas to help with a variety of health needs. “With our line of Chinese herbal medicine formulas, we have made making Chinese herbal medicine a simple part of your life. It’s like thousands of years of knowledge in every glass.”

There has been major growth in the Chinese herbal medicine market in recent years. Over half of all acupuncturists are now offering products. According to Medgadget, a company that reports on medical technology around the world, it’s estimated that the herbal medicine market will reach $111 billion by 2023. They further report that according to the World Health Organization, almost 80 percent of the population of many Asian and African countries depends on traditional medicine for primary health care. DAO Labs is helping to make Chinese herbal remedies easily accessible in America.

Here are 5 health needs where Chinese herbal medicine formulas by DAO Labs can help:

  • Digestive Support. Those who want to strengthen their digestive health may benefit from Digestive Harmony, an herbal medicine that offers soothing, yet powerful, solution for balancing one’s stomach, upgrading digestive health, and generally delivering gut happiness when other western options have fallen short. The formula has been designed to help with a bloating and ballooned belly, digestive harmony, a sideways stomach, and when digestive strength is needed fast.
  • Emotional & Mental Well-Being. Millions of people today are anxious and irritable. Emotional Balance medicine formula has been created to bring calmness and emotional clarity. The formula has been designed to add a subtle boost of energy, while calming irritability, and easing mental tension. Those who use Emotional Balance become happier, calmer, and well adjusted. It’s also an excellent formula for women during the PMS phase of their cycle.
  • Better Sleep. Inconsistent, low quality sleep can lead to a wide variety of health conditions. Millions of people who don’t get enough sleep each night suffer in a variety of ways. DAO Labs offers two sleep solutions for two different sleep needs. Physical Tranquility has been designed to help the restless and overheated sleeper. The herbal medicine formula will help people to fall asleep, as well as continue to sleep all night, and wake up with better mental clarity and acuity the next day. DAO also offers Mental Tranquility, which is for the stressed sleeper whose mind won’t turn off in the middle of the night and lays awake due to stress and anxiousness. Unlike other sleep supplements, DAO’s Sleep Series formulas don’t contain melatonin and are designed to help you stay asleep.
  • Menstrual Health. Women’s health needs are a primary reason women seek support from an acupuncturist or doctor of Chinese medicine. DAO’s Women’s Formula is used for women seeking to strengthen the regularity of the menstrual cycle, while also offering increased energy each month. In addition, DAO offers their Women’s Monthly Kit which combines two different formulas for different phases of their cycle, offering a month-long solution for menstrual support.
  • Boost Immunity. Some people seem more prone to getting sick than others. It’s important for those people to boost their immunity. The Immunity Support herbal powder is one of the strongest forms of immunity defense that has been used for over 750 years and remains of the most popular formulas across Asia still to this day. It’s great for cold and pollen season, interacting with large crowds, for teachers and parents, and when you feel there is something coming on.

“There is support for these important health needs, and we have used traditional Chinese medicine principals to address them,” added McGarvey. “We have made it simple, by creating the healing herbal formula. We have taken the ancient wisdom of Chinese medicine and put it in healing powders that are accessible to all.”

All DAO Labs herbal medicine formulas come in single-serve packets with enticing flavors. They are sustainable, have gone through a rigorous testing process, and are manufactured and tested in the US. Each serving is stirred into a glass of water to create a tasty and healthy beverage.

DAO Labs’ motto is that healing begins with nature. Their mission is to help people heal through natural remedies. As such, they are also committed to helping to protect and bring awareness to the environment, in an effort to help stop the illegal wildlife trade. The company is against sourcing materials that harm the environment or endangered species, and has teamed up with the organization WildAid, with 1 percent of all sales going to the organization that is fighting the illegal wildlife trade. To learn more about DAO Labs and their Chinese herbal medicine formulas, visit the site at: https://mydaolabs.com.

About DAO Labs 

DAO Labs has a mission of bringing the many benefits of traditional Chinese herbal medicine to today’s wellness explorer. Founded by a team of Chinese herbal medicine experts, the company offers a variety of formulas that help with a variety of conditions impacting health and wellbeing. Their herbal formulas aim to help balance the mind, body, and spirit. To learn more about DAO Labs, visit the site at: https://mydaolabs.com.

Meet the HGTV Star (and Father of Six!) Who Adopted Four Children with Special Needs

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Caldwell family posing for a picture outside with parents holding two of the children in their arms

Luke Caldwell is a sought-after designer and an expert home renovator. But that’s not what he wants to talk about.

In fact, that’s not even why the Idaho native agreed to star in HGTV’s Boise Boys. Instead, the 40-year-old wants to use his platform to shine a light on something he’s passionate about: adoption.

Caldwell shares six kids and counting with his wife Miranda: two biological, four the couple welcomed via adoption and one on the way. Caldwell tells PEOPLE that, after the birth of two healthy biological children (Brighten, 8, and Elias, 10), they felt like they had “hit the lottery.”

But both Caldwell and Miranda were deeply impacted by orphanage mission trip work earlier in life (him in India, her in Romania) and knew that if they were going to have more children, they wanted to open their family to a child who wouldn’t otherwise have one.

“I just remember thinking, ‘I can’t believe these kids don’t have parents, they don’t have anyone to take care of them,’ ” Caldwell tells PEOPLE of his experience in India. “It broke my heart, even as a 12-year-old.”

So the couple started exploring their options. Throughout the entire process, they made sure to include Elias and Brighten, who were both under the age of 5 at the time. Although they might’ve been too young to understand the details of adoption, Caldwell tells PEOPLE they grasped the most important concept of it.

“One of the main things we tried to teach our kids is to not be entitled and to have empathy,” he says. “We want to be a family that loves other people. … We talked [about adoption] a lot to them, we showed them pictures, we prayed together about it.”

After a year of thinking and planning, Caldwell and Miranda found their perfect first match: a 5-year-old boy from China named Morris, who’s now 11. Morris then asked Caldwell and Miranda to adopt his best friend from home.

The superstar parents went back to the same orphanage in China and did just that with the adoption of Ezra, now 10. They developed a relationship with the nannies and soon ventured back for their third and, finally, their fourth child.

In total, the Caldwell family has four children whom they adopted from the same Chinese orphanage: Ezra and Morris plus daughter Darla, 7½, and son Tucker, 9½. And all four have special needs.

Continue on to People to read the complete article.

Teens praised for teaching boy with autism how to skateboard on his birthday: ‘It brought me to tears’

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Teens at skatepark showing an autistic five year old boy with his helmet on how to skateboard

A mother from South Brunswick, N.J. shared an emotional note on her community’s Facebook page after a recent experience with her son, 5-year-old Carter, at a skatepark.

Kristen Braconi took Carter, who is on the autism spectrum and has ADHD, and his behavioral therapist to the park to celebrate his fifth birthday, where a group of older kids noticed him playing on his scooter. The teens took it upon themselves to teach Carter how to skateboard.

“They were absolutely amazing with him and included him and were so beyond kind it brought me to tears,” the mother shared on Facebook, including a few videos from the day. “I caught a video of them singing [“Happy Birthday”] to my son and one of the kids gave him a mini skateboard and taught him how to use it. I can’t even begin to thank these kids for being so kind and showing him how wonderful people can be to complete strangers.”

“I wanted to recognize the kids and their parents because when you can show their parents how kind and respectful they are when [their parents] aren’t around you know you have done a great job!” Braconi told CNN. “They did so much more than they knew.”

Braconi told the outlet that the young teens didn’t know that Carter has autism and that their kindness and inclusion boosted the 5-year-old’s confidence.

Braconi and Carter left the park and returned with ice cream for the teenagers, but the video inspired the South Brunswick Police Department to try to track down the “superheroes” as well.

Continue on to Yahoo News to read the complete article.

First Female Amputee to Climb Everest Receives Honorary Doctorate

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Arunima Sinha is a serious mountaineer—she was both the first female amputee and the first Indian amputee to climb Mount Everest. And last November, she was awarded an honorary PhD from the prestigious University of Strathclyde in London.

She has made it her life’s work to encourage others, saying, “I have achieved my goal, but now I want to help physically challenged people achieve their goals so that they can also become self-dependent.”

A former Indian national-level volleyball player, Sinha had her left leg amputated below the knee after being thrown from a train while resisting a robbery. Sinha was traveling to sit for an examination to join The Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), a central armed police force in India. She was pushed out of the train by thieves and lost her left leg below the knee as a result.

While recovering, she resolved to climb Mount Everest and later trained with Bachendri Pal, the first Indian woman to climb Mount Everest, at the Uttarkashi camp of the Tata Steel Adventure Foundation (TSAF). Sinha became the world’s first female amputee to summit Mount Everest with a prosthetic leg on May 21, 2013.

Since that achievement, she has gone on to be the first female amputee to climb some of the tallest mountains in Africa, Europe, Australia and South America.

Her book, Born Again on the Mountain, was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in December 2014. In 2015, she was presented with the Padma Shri, India’s fourth-highest civilian award. She was named one of the People of the Year in India’s 27th edition of Limca Book of Records in 2016.

“Arunima is an inspiration to amputees around the world. Not only has she shown real spirit, courage and determination in overcoming adversity, she is using her compassion and positivity to help other people,” said Professor Jim McDonald, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Strathclyde. “Arunima embodies the values of Strathclyde, and we are delighted to recognize her achievements by making her an Honorary Doctor of the University.”

The award also recognizes Sinha’s charitable work through the Arunima Foundation, which seeks to empower women and people with disabilities, and generally improve the health and social and economic situation for poorer communities. “Our mission is to inspire and empower people to change their world,” the foundation says. For more information, visit the Arunima Foundation on Twitter @FlucknowA.

Source: Wikipedia, newindianexpress.com, momspresso.com

Making Social Media More Accessible to People with Disabilities

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Social media is a very popular tool among people with disabilities to stay connected despite the fact that most social media tools are not fully accessible. Staying connected electronically is even more important if a disability prevents a person from being able to easily travel.

By posting pictures or videos of themselves and discussing issues that impact them every day, people with disabilities are also bringing awareness to their very particular and personal issues.

It is important to understand that people and companies posting on social media have no control over the platforms’ infrastructures. That being said, there are practical limitations to what corporations can accomplish with respect to accessibility on the social media channels they choose to use. Most social media platforms have accessibility teams, and accessibility improvements are continually rolled out as technology continues to improve at a rapid pace.

Many people posting content to social media platforms – for either personal reasons or as part of their job – do not consider or use accessibility features. While the social media platform may not be friendly to all forms of assistive technology, companies can and do control the content they post and should take the necessary steps to make that content as accessible as possible. In many cases, even if the platform doesn’t natively offer accessibility tools, workarounds can be implemented to improve accessibility.

For the complete article, continue on to 3 Play Media.