World Disability Day 2018 Focuses On Equal Opportunities And Inclusiveness For People With Disability

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World Disability Day 2018 is meant to promote rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of development and society.

December 3 is observed as International Day of Persons with Disabilities or World Disability Day. Commemoration of this day was done by United Nations General Assembly resolution in 1992. The day is meant to promote rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of development and society. The idea is to increase awareness about persons with disabilities, their situation and their means to survive in cultural, economic, social and political life. On this day, awareness is spread on how organisations and individuals can get involved in breaking down attitudinal and structural barriers for people with disability.

Around 1 billion people around the world live with a disability. This number makes for around 15% of the global population. On World Disability Day, celebrations are done for achievements of people with disabilities.

World Disability Day 2018 theme

World Disability Day 2018 theme is, “Empowering persons with disabilities and ensuring inclusiveness and equality.” According to the United Nations, The theme focuses on empowering persons with disability with equal opportunities and inclusiveness. The idea is to empower them with equitable, inclusive and sustainable development as part of Agenda for Sustainable Development 2030.

The 2030 agenda aims at including every single person with disability, and leave no one behind. Persons with disabilities can be both beneficiaries and agents of change. They can speed up the process of sustainable development which is inclusive in nature. They can promote a society which is resilient for all, including in the context of disaster risk reduction and humanitarian action.

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STEM Professor Receives Award to Study Technologies for Disability Community

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Ashley Shew standing on porch with arm around pillar smiling

By Leslie King

The trichotillomania bracelet looks unassuming, just like any other smart technology worn around the wrist. But rather than counting steps or heartbeats, it serves another purpose.

The wristlet vibrates an alarm when it tracks the user subconsciously beginning to pull out strands of hair. For those with trichotillomania, instead of following the compulsion to yank out their hair, the wireless device helps them notice the gestures and change their behavior.

This tool, along with other technologies for the disability community, intrigues Ashley Shew, an assistant professor in the Virginia Tech Department of Science, Technology, and Society. In July 2018, she received a National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Award that will allow her to investigate the personal accounts of people with disabilities, as well as their opinions of the technologies designed for them.

The prestigious honor, given to junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research and education, is better known as the CAREER award.

“I’m interested in the storylines that disabled people tell about their bodies and how their relationships with technology differ from popular and dominant narratives we have in our society,” said Shew, who herself identifies as disabled.

Her research focuses on discrepancies between how scientists and engineers understand and explain their work related to disability and the actual needs and wants of people with disabilities. Shew said there is a disconnect between media-based depictions and reality within the realm of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and technology design.

“This means people aren’t always designing with real users in mind, but with ideas about what users want based on the entertainment media,” she said. “This is problematic because nondisabled people create and depict disabled people. There is little authentic disability representation in the media, so all these media-driven narratives about technology get fed into engineering.”

Shew cites several misleading media-supported tropes. Negative stereotypes encourage the public to view disabled people with pity, as sinners or fakers, or as resource burdens. And while the trichotillomania bracelet is small and unobtrusive, many technologies, such as wheelchairs or exoskeletons, are not. Some people who could benefit from viable supportive devices might shy away from them to avoid public skepticism or castigation.

And the reverse depictions are just as misrepresentative.

“There are also tropes about inspiration and courage,” Shew said. “The one people lean on, which I’ll be assessing through this grant, involves a focus on inspiration and courage, along the lines of, ‘You’re such an inspiration because you’re disabled in public.’ If you’re not inspiring, you’re courageous to overcome what you’re overcoming. If we believe you’re truly disabled, then if you’re out having a regular life, you’re considered heroic in ways that don’t map onto real life at all.”

Designers often create technologies with this trope in mind. An example of this is a surge of 3D-printed hands for young amputees. Marketed with terms such as “superhero” hands or arms, the branding presents these children as different from people without disabilities. Shew describes this phenomenon as techno-ableism, when technology makers try to empower others with helpful tools but use rhetoric that has the opposite effect. As part of her CAREER award, Shew will publish a book about this phenomenon.

Shew will also seek to counter unrealistic portrayals of people with disabilities by educating creators of disability technologies. Her research will incorporate interviews, memoirs, and the compilation of existing materials into classroom public outreach, an open-access website, and a textbook to complement existing STEM educational resources.

Shew is collaborating with Alexander Leonessa and Raffaella De Vita, associate professors in the College of Engineering, who have also received CAREER awards. In 2019, she will work with them through Virginia Tech’s STEMABILTY, a summer camp for students with disabilities.

A Virginia Tech faculty member since 2011, Shew received a Certificate of Teaching Excellence in 2017 and a Diversity Award in 2016, both from the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. Also in 2016, she received the Sally Bohland Award for Excellence in Access and Inclusion from the Virginia Tech office of Services for Students with Disabilities.

Shew co-edited Spaces for the Future: A Companion to Philosophy of Technology with Joseph Pitt, a Virginia Tech professor of philosophy. She is also the author of Animal Constructions and Technological Knowledge, published by Lexington Books/Rowman & Littlefield.

Shew is the fourth faculty member in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences to receive the prestigious National Science Foundation CAREER Award in the past several years.

Source: vtnews.vt.edu

 

Northrop Grumman Named a 2018 “Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion” and Receives the “Employer of the Year: Inspire Award”

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Northrop+Grumman+VOICE+members

Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) has received the highest ranking for the fourth year in a row on the Disability Equality Index (DEI), and it received the Employer of the Year: Inspire Award, recognizing the company for its exemplary policies, strategies and initiatives that have resulted in measureable results in the areas of disability inclusiveness in the workplace, marketplace and supply chain.

The DEI is an initiative between the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) and Disability:IN (formerly the US Business Leadership Network), jointly designed by disability advocates and business leaders and it is a trusted, comprehensive benchmarking tool for disability inclusion. The Index measures key performance indicators across organizational culture, leadership, accessibility, employment, community engagement, support services and supplier diversity.

Northrop Grumman received the Employer of the Year: Inspire Award for being a top employer for advancing its disability inclusion journey and strategies and practices that have produced measurable success in many areas. The award recognized the leadership of Wes Bush, Northrop Grumman chairman and chief executive officer and the company’s self-identification campaign launched in 2014, the centralized workplace accommodations online request portal and the case management system program started in 2015.

In the 2017 DEI ranking, the company’s Victory Over Impairment and Challenge Enterprise (VOICE) employee resource group was recognized with a Disability:IN leadership award as the program which most exemplifies strategies and initiatives that have resulted in measurable results in the area of disability inclusion in the workplace. Northrop Grumman’s VOICE organization strives to develop a sense of community and empowerment among individuals with disabilities (both apparent and non-apparent), advocates and employees with family members with a disability.

“We are very pleased with our progress on disability inclusion and the success of our programs,” said Sandra Evers-Manly, Northrop Grumman’s vice president of global corporate responsibility, and president of the Northrop Grumman Foundation. “Our senior leadership commitment and the involvement of our employees have helped us to create a work environment that values diversity and inclusion and employees with disabilities are an important component of our diverse population.”

Northrop Grumman Named a 2018 “Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion” and Receives the “Employer of the Year: Inspire Award”
Sandra Evers-Manly (center), Northrop Grumman vice president of global corporate responsibility, and president of the Northrop Grumman Foundation, receives the Inspire Award, for being a Top Employer for advancing disability inclusion strategies and practices. Presenting the award were Ben-Saba Hasan, senior vice president and chief culture, diversity and inclusion officer, Walmart Inc. (left); and Jill Houghton, president and chief executive officer of Disability:IN.

Northrop Grumman actively seeks to attract and retain employees of all abilities because of the value they bring to the workplace. Some initiatives include an online accommodation tool for requests and case tracking; increased accessibility of our website, including the careers section; expanded accessibility at our locations; and adoption of a more focused approach for posting job requisitions with disability related job boards.

Additionally, Northrop Grumman’s Operation IMPACT (Injured Military Pursuing Assisted Career Transition) program, which was created in 2005, provides personalized placement assistance, community outreach and workplace accommodations for severely injured service members transitioning to civilian employment. In 2009 Northrop Grumman established the Operation IMPACT Network of Champions, a group of more than 110 companies and partners that share job candidates, best practices and create wider opportunities for veterans with disabilities.

More information on the Disability:IN and AAPD rankings can be found here: https://www.disabilityequalityindex.org/top_companies

Third year in a row Northrop Grumman has been recognized by the National Organization on Disability (NOD) for its exemplary disability hiring and employment practices

Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) has been named a 2018 National Organization on Disability Leading Disability Employer™ for its leadership in disability hiring and its commitment to building a disability inclusive workforce.

NOD Leading Disability Employers are chosen based on data furnished by the companies in response to the NOD Disability Employment Tracker™, a confidential assessment that benchmarks companies’ disability inclusion programs for climate and culture; people practices; talent sourcing; workplace and technology; and strategy and metrics. Results from the tracker are prioritized based on historic disability employment outcomes and percentage of people with disabilities in their workforce.

“Technology companies succeed or fail based on the intellectual capital we recruit and retain,” said Wes Bush, chairman and chief executive officer, Northrop Grumman. “Individuals with disabilities comprise a resource of incredible value and they add an important aspect to the diversity of the global workforce. It is vital for the business community to understand the extraordinary value of this talent pool.”

In August, Northrop Grumman received the highest ranking for the fourth year in a row on the Disability Equality Index, a ranking produced by the American Association of People with Disabilities and Disability:IN. The company also received their Employer of the Year award for significant policies, strategies and initiatives that have resulted in measureable results in disability inclusiveness in the workplace.

“Northrop Grumman actively seeks to attract and retain employees of all abilities because of the value they bring to the workplace,” said Sandra Evers-Manly, Northrop Grumman’s vice president of global corporate responsibility, and president of the Northrop Grumman Foundation. “Our senior leadership commitment and the involvement of our employees have helped us to create a work environment that values diversity and inclusion and employees with disabilities are an important component of our diverse population.”

Some Northrop Grumman initiatives supporting employees with disabilities include an online accommodation tool for requests and case tracking; increased accessibility of our website, including the careers section; expanded accessibility at our locations; and adoption of a more focused approach for posting job requisitions with disability related job boards.

Additionally, Northrop Grumman’s Operation IMPACT (Injured Military Pursuing Assisted Career Transition) program, which was created in 2005, provides personalized placement assistance, community outreach and workplace accommodations for severely injured service members transitioning to civilian employment. In 2009, Northrop Grumman established the Operation IMPACT Network of Champions, a group of 90 companies and partners that share job candidates, best practices and create wider opportunities for veterans with disabilities.

NOD is a private, nonprofit organization that seeks to increase employment opportunities for the 80 percent of working-age Americans with disabilities who are not employed. To achieve this goal, NOD offers a suite of employment solutions, tailored to meet leading companies’ workforce needs. For more information visit www.NOD.org.

Northrop Grumman is a leading global security company providing innovative systems, products and solutions in autonomous systems, cyber, C4ISR, space, strike, and logistics and modernization to customers worldwide. Please visit news.northropgrumman.com and follow us on Twitter, @NGCNews, for more information.

For a Brighter Future—Advocate Stevie Wonder still keeping the dream alive

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Stevie Wonder performs onstage during The Stevie Wonder Song Party at The Peppermint Club

By Erica Sabino

The world may know Stevie Wonder as a legendary musical artist, but not everyone is aware of the many ways in which he influences the community beyond sharing his love for music. While music does play a big part in his life, the 25-time GRAMMY Award winner’s impact reaches way beyond the music industry and the people who listen to his work.

He may be a celebrity, but Stevie Wonder is one famous figure who uses his popularity to influence positive change in the world for all people, for generations to come.

Stevland Hardaway Judkins was born on May 13, 1950, in Saginaw, Michigan. Born prematurely, he experienced complications with the growth of blood vessels in his retinas, causing his blindness. That, however, did not hinder the child prodigy from learning to play multiple instruments at a young age. From the harmonica to the drums to the piano, Stevie taught himself how to play them all before he reached the age of 10. He was also singing in his church choir by that time.

Stevie’s entrance to the music industry did not begin until he was discovered by singer and songwriter Ronnie White of The Miracles. He was then introduced to Berry Gordy, the founder of Motown Records, was given an audition, and later signed to the record label. It was Gordy who dubbed Stevie “Little Stevie Wonder,” which was changed to “Stevie Wonder” as he grew older.

And what a wonder he was. According to his biography in Rolling Stone, “[Stevie’s] third single, ‘Fingertips (Part 2)’ was a number 1 pop and R&B hit eight months later. Both on records and in live shows, he was featured playing harmonica, drums, piano, and organ, as well as singing—sometimes all in one number. During his first three years in show business, Wonder was often compared to Ray Charles—much was made of the fact that both were blind.”

Stevie Wonder, sons Kailand Morris and Mandla Morris, and designer Kai Milla attend the 4th Annual Kailand Obasi Hoop-Life Fundraiser at USC
Recording artist Stevie Wonder, sons Kailand Morris and Mandla Morris, and designer Kai Milla attend the 4th Annual Kailand Obasi Hoop-Life Fundraiser (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)

But Stevie’s brilliance was his own. As he broke out into his career, Wonder became self-sufficient inthe studio—writing his own music, playing his own instruments and even producing his own work. Noted in his Rolling Stone biography, the Signed, Sealed, Delivered singer also distinguished himself with music and lyrics “with such socially conscious subjects as ghetto hardship and political disenfranchisement.” It was not surprising that he was a lifelong advocate of nonviolent political change patterned after Martin Luther King Jr.

Stevie met Martin Luther King Jr. at a rally when he was just 15 years old. Three years following MLK’s assassination, Stevie joined in the decade-long movement to pass a bill that would make King’s birthday a national holiday. He composed the song “Happy Birthday,” which became a rallying song for the initiative. According to journalist Marcus Baram in an article at Cuepoint on Medium.com, “Wonder put his career on hold, led rallies from coast to coast, and galvanized millions of Americans with his passion and integrity.”

“Why should I be involved in this great cause?” Wonder asked as he addressed the crowd at an MLK rally. “As an artist, my purpose is to communicate the message that can better improve the lives of all of us.”

Through his career, Stevie Wonder created a platform to not only share his talents but also make a difference and inspire others to do the same. His many accomplishments can be attributed to his drive, his perseverance, and his determination, both as a musician and an advocate for the causes he believes in.

A true philanthropist, Stevie Wonder promotes AIDS awareness, donates to humanitarian relief efforts, and holds an annual House Full of Toys benefit concert to provide toys for children in need. Wonder has also worked on the President’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities, the Children’s Diabetes Foundation, Junior Blind of America and the creation of the Wonder Vision Awards Program.

Zucchero, James Taylor, Trudie Styler, Elton John,Lyle Lovett, Bonnie Raitt, Stevie Wonder, Shawn Colvin, & Sting at the Carnegie Hall in New York, New York
Zucchero, James Taylor, Trudie Styler, Elton John,Lyle Lovett, Bonnie Raitt, Stevie Wonder, Shawn Colvin, & Sting at the Carnegie Hall in New York, New York (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

In 2009, Wonder was named a UN Messenger of Peace, with a focus on persons with disabilities by the United Nations in 2009. At the news conference to announce his new position, then UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon had this to say of Wonder: “I recognize that he has consistently used his voice and special relationship with the public to create a better and more inclusive world, to defend civil and human rights, and to improve the lives of those less fortunate. Stevie Wonder is a true inspiration to young people all over the world about what can be achieved, despite any physical limitations.” In 2014, President Barack Obama awarded Wonder the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Wonder was asked by The Guardian if he had ever considered “that it’s his ‘disadvantages’—being born blind and black—that have made him what he is.” To this, the award-winning artist responded, “You know, it’s funny, but I never thought of being blind as a disadvantage, and I never thought of being black as a disadvantage. I am what I am. I love me! And I don’t mean that egotistically—I love that God has allowed me to take whatever it was that I had and make something out of it.”

Stevie has found success both on and off the stage. Whether he is going on Twitter to encourage people to share their dreams, performing at the dedication ceremony of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, attending a conference to learn about assistive technologies for the blind or visually impaired, or advocating for an international disabilities treaty, Wonder has continuously taken steps to make a positive impact with everything he does.

In 2013, Stevie met with young Viet Nam’s Got Talent singer Crystal (real name: Nguyen Phoung Anh) at the United Nations General Assembly to push jointly for greater inclusion for children with disabilities. Crystal, now 21, became a singing sensation when she auditioned for the popular show in 2012. She was born with osteogenesis imperfecta, or “glass-bone disease,” a genetic disorder causing fragile bones. “My bones have broken 30 times or more,” she says. “We stopped counting, because we thought it didn’t matter anymore.” The 16-year-old adds, “Crystal is my alter ego, because it is fragile and shiny.”

“No one should be excluded because they’re blind, or because of any disability or because of their status or their color,” Wonder said. “We cannot allow our differences to let our fear put dreams to sleep.”

In 2017, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) announced the presentation of the first Key of Life award to Stevie Wonder for his groundbreaking “contributions to the world through his music.” According to the association, future recipients of this honor will be given to “songwriters and composers who best exemplify [Stevie’s] legacy through their commitment to the art form he elevated through his talent, dedication and unparalleled heart.”

Stevie Wonder is a man who is driven by his beliefs. “You need to put your heart into making a difference,” Stevie told The Guardian. Upon receiving his key of Life Award, Wonder had this to say about an artist’s social power: “There’s always power in the work… So those of us who have been blessed with the gift of expression, don’t be afraid to express your truth. But do it with love. When you think about it, music is probably the most integrated thing that we have. We’re all influenced by each other.”

With Stevie, it’s not just his music that inspires others but also the man that he is. His actions and words go hand in hand in nurturing a movement to help make the world a kinder place. He has become a true inspiration for people all over the world.

MTV to Chronicle Disability Activist’s Quest to Travel Into Space

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Eddie Ndopu

Eddie Ndopu wants to become the first physically disabled person to travel to space. MTV will follow a South African activist on his quest to become the first physically disabled person to travel to space.

Eddie Ndopu, 27, was born with spinal muscular atrophy and given a life span of five years. He has obviously exceeded that, going on to earn a master’s degree in public policy from Oxford and has spent more than a decade advocating for the rights of disabled young people.

Now Ndopu is hoping to travel to space and deliver a message from above Earth to the U.N. General Assembly, sending “a powerful message on behalf of young people everywhere who have ever felt excluded by society.” MTV cameras will follow him as he enlists an aerospace company to facilitate the mission and chronicle his thoughts and emotions as the launch approaches. The cabler will also document his voyage and message to the United Nations.

The project was announced ahead of the International Day of Persons With Disabilities on Dec. 3.

Continue on to The Hollywood Reporter to read the complete article.

A Kent State recruit is the first player with autism to earn a scholarship for a Division 1 NCAA team sport

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Kalin Bennett

A Kent State basketball recruit will become the first player with autism to earn a scholarship for a Division 1 NCAA team sport when he joins the team next year.

Kalin Bennett, an 18-year-old from Little Rock, Arkansas, was recruited by several schools, but chose Kent State University not only for its basketball team but for its dedication to autism awareness, his mother, Sonja Bennett, told INSIDER.

Bennett, a 6’10”, 300-pound center, signed a letter of intent to join Kent State’s team earlier this month, according to Cleveland.com.

Now Bennett, who is attending a gap year program at Link Year Prep in Branson, Missouri, wants to use his platform to inspire others.
“It feels good to be able to make history like this,” Bennett told INSIDER. “It feels good to hear stories about other people struggling with autism looking up to me.”

He hopes that his rebound talents, positive attitude and ability to be a team player will help Kent State succeed next season.
“They someone who can hoop — and I can hoop,” he said.

Doctors didn’t know if Bennett would ever speak or walk

As a child, doctors that Bennett would remain nonverbal throughout his life, and early diagnosis suggested he may never walk. But Bennett prevailed, and through hard work and therapy he overcame his struggles to become the basketball player he is today.

His coach at Link Year, Adam Donyes, said Bennett is the glue that holds his team together.

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WHILL Model Ci Earns Spot on TIME’s Best Inventions of 2018 List

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TIME-Best Inventions

WHILL, Inc. recently announced their Model Ci personal electric vehicle (EV) received top accolades from one of the nation’s most esteemed publications, TIME, as one of the “50 Best Inventions of 2018.” The annual list hit newsstands, Friday, November 16.

TIME noted that the Model Ci “Empowers its users,” and was selected out of hundreds of editor and expert submissions from around the world including online applications. To choose the top 50 best inventions for the annual list, TIME carefully evaluated each contender on key factors, including originality, creativity, influence, ambition and effectiveness. According to the publication, the list highlights groundbreaking inventions that are changing the way we live, work, play and think about what’s possible.

Debuted in January 2018 at Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, the Model Ci enables people who have difficulty walking to experience movement in a new way, gaining newfound freedom and confidence to further participate and engage in the activities they love. This innovative personal EV disassembles in seconds for easy transport, offers best-in-class indoor/outdoor versatility, provides a variety of adjustments for maximum comfort, and is equipped with the latest in technology, such as Bluetooth and mobile data connectivity, creating additional peace-of-mind for both the user and their loved ones.

This year, the Model Ci also received the CES 2018 “Best of Innovation Award” in the Accessibility Tech category, and was an Engadget “Best of CES 2018” finalist. Additionally, WHILL was recognized by Fast Company as one of the Top 10 Most Innovative Companies in Robotics for 2018.

The Model Ci’s MSRP is $3,999 USD and is available nationwide and in Canada through WHILL’s premier reseller network, as well as through online partners such as shop.scootaround.com and spinlife.com. The Model Ci is also available for conference, land and cruise rentals at major metros and ports through scootaround.com.

About WHILL

Since its founding in 2012, WHILL’s mission is to transform today’s antiquated power wheelchair and scooter experiences into a new kind of empowering devices, intelligent personal electric vehicles (EVs). WHILL is reinventing the personal mobility industry with personal EVs that focus on an approachable and aesthetically pleasing powered vehicles that boosts confidence and pushes the boundaries of personal transportation. Headquartered in Yokohama, Japan with offices in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taiwan and EU, WHILL is focused on enabling everyone to explore the world in comfort and style.

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Gene Crayton, Paralyzed Veterans’ First African-American President

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Gene Creyton, PVA

Gene Crayton was born on a southern Illinois farm, 15 miles north of where the Ohio and Mississippi river’s meet, the fifth of six kids, Crayton learned early about duty, service and a hard day’s work.

His father, a share cropper, died when he was two years old and it was up to his mother to keep the farm going and raise the family.

Crayton’s sense of service followed him throughout his early life and at the young age of 17, during his junior year of high school, Crayton enlisted in the U.S. Navy Reserve. After graduation, he entered active duty where he attended Hospital Corps School at the U.S. Naval Hospital in San Diego, on his way to becoming a corpsman.

“I had hoped to become a doctor,” says Crayton. “As corpsman, I was constantly helping people and doing things to keep people from getting sick. Those duties constantly fed my desire to help others by doing things to help improve their lives. And in some cases, save their lives.”

Crayton soon reported for a training aboard the U.S.S. Purdy where he spent his time working in the sick bay. It wasn’t long after the Purdy that the young sailor would be called to serve in Vietnam.

Crayton was assigned to the 26th Marine Regiment to serve as corpsman. Since the Marine Corps has no medical personnel of its own, it has historically forged a tight bond with the Navy.

Typically referred to as “Doc,” a Navy corpsman will train alongside their Marine unit, often doing the same type of tactical training and physical fitness training as the Marines.

Crayton ultimately served during the Tet Offensive where he saw many tragic injuries and saved numerous lives. His unit was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for its extraordinary heroism in action.

“One thing that I don’t think many people talk about, but when I was in Khe Sanh, Vietnam right before the Tet Offensive started, I had never seen a place so beautiful in my life,” Crayton recalls.

“The banana trees and the different colors of the foliage and the birds. And then of course, Tet hit and all of that changed. I think, if you want to talk about anything, the experience was an extension of my learning as far as culture is concerned. Remember, I was a 17-year-old kid when I went to boot camp. I learned about different cultures and learned how to take care of myself.”

After leaving active duty, Crayton moved to St. Louis, where he was assigned to the local Marine Corps Reserve unit. Respiratory therapy was a new field at that time and Crayton took a job at Deaconess Hospital.

“At the time, there were only 200 registered respiratory therapists in the United States,” says Crayton. “So, people that had training were in demand. When I went to apply they asked me when do you want to start to work?”

Crayton held that job until an automobile accident left him a T-5 paraplegic. He was honorably discharged from the Navy not long after and left wondering what would come next.

“I was injured when I was 21,” says Crayton. “After going through the post-injury depression and all of that, I adapted the attitude that I can do it. That attitude ultimately gave me my life.”

Crayton spent his first few post-injury years a recluse, desperately trying to regain control of his new life.

“I had no freedom, no independence, I didn’t drive, I wouldn’t go anywhere unless someone took me,” says Crayton. “After the change, I got out, found my own apartment, learned to drive and had a couple of jobs before discovering Paralyzed Veterans of America, which lead me to where I am now.”

Like so many veterans before him, Crayton discovered the resources and camaraderie of Paralyzed Veterans of America (Paralyzed Veterans) and it wasn’t long before he fully inserted himself into the Gateway Chapter. There, he learned about the organization, traveled to Washington, D.C., for legislation testimony and quickly rose in the ranks of the organization ultimately serving as chapter secretary, president and national director.

Crayton became the first African-American national president during the Paralyzed Veterans’s 63rd Annual Convention in Miami.

It was an opportunity to better the organization and help other people,” says Crayton. “But I don’t think I had a very successful presidency to be honest with you. I look back on it now and believe the things I was trying to accomplish were right, but I just went about it in the wrong way. I tried to be responsive to everybody … no one was too big and no one was too small for my time.”

Crayton wouldn’t change a thing and credits Paralyzed Veterans for helping shape the man he is today.

“Being with the Marines certainly taught me discipline,” says Crayton. “I’m not sure it [military service] affected my life as I am now. I give the credit to Paralyzed Veterans and the positive influence over the man I am now. Paralyzed Veterans taught me many skills on being a better leader, how we lobby for the veterans and their benefits and I had a chance to see some of the most prestigious events in and around our nation’s capital.”

As we honor Black History Month, Crayton reflects on the men and women who blazed a trail before him and continues to advocate for education and employment; two of his most passionate platforms.

“Growing up, I heard a great deal about Booker T. Washington, who was before my time, but nonetheless was a strong voice of the African-Americans post-slavery,” says Crayton. “Of course, I enjoyed hearing the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, and as time went on I learned about some of the athletes and the contributions that they made, such as Joe Louis, who was known for his contributions to the United Service Organization (USO). I absolutely enjoyed the stories of the Tuskegee Airmen and had the honor of meeting a few of them over the years. They blazed the trail for other African-American pilots.”

Crayton encourages young African-Americans to enlist in the military, but to get a military occupational specialty that will benefit a secure civilian livelihood.

During Black History Month, Crayton has a deep appreciation and respect for the men and women who helped blaze a trail for him. He follows their example by advocating for education and employment for African-Americans, which are two of his most passionate platforms.

King once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?” It’s safe to say Crayton has spent his life working on a great answer to King’s question.

Source: Paralyzed Veterans of America

Runner becomes first pro athlete with cerebral palsy to sign with Nike

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Justin Gallegos, a runner at University of Oregon, has made history by becoming the first professional athlete with cerebral palsy to sign with Nike. Gallegos, a junior with the school’s running club, made the announcement in an emotional video on his Instagram page.

Gallegos was finishing a race on Saturday when he was met by a camera crew, a bunch of his teammates and Nike’s Insights director, John Douglass, who told him of the deal. In the video posted to his social media account, Gallegos collapses out of pure joy as his peers applaud him.

“I was once a kid in leg braces who could barely put on foot in front of the other!” he wrote on Instagram. “Now I have signed a three year contract with Nike Running!”

A spokesperson with Nike confirmed to CBS News the signing of Gallegos. It was even more special because it landed on Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day. The condition is a neurological disorder that affects movement, motor skills and muscle tone.

Gallegos used a walker as a toddler and pre-schooler, and did physical therapy in order to improve his gait, according to Running Magazine. He began competing in long-distance running in high school and caught the attention of Nike, then helped the company develop a shoe designed for runners with disabilities.

Gallegos, who is aiming to run a half-marathon under two hours, calls this one of the most emotional moments in his seven years of running.

“Growing up with a disability, the thought of becoming a professional athlete is, as I have said before, like the thought of climbing Mt. Everest!”

“Thank you everyone for helping show the world that there is No Such Thing As A Disability!” he said.

Continue onto CBS to read the complete article.

7 Essentials for Decorating Your ASD Child’s Bedroom

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Children with ASD bedromm decorations

Children on the autism spectrum have unique needs. As parents, we might not always understand the reason behind a child’s preferences. Nonetheless, we do our best to accommodate them and create an environment where our child feels safe and comfortable.

When it comes to designing the home, the bedroom of a child with autism calls for particular attention. Children on the autism spectrum frequently have trouble sleeping. That lack of quality sleep, in turn, exacerbates some of autism’s most distressing behavioral problems, such as physical aggression and irritability. Designing a soothing, sensory-friendly bedroom helps children with autism sleep better and provides a safe space they can turn to when feeling overwhelmed.

These are some of the things that make an ideal bedroom environment for children on the autism spectrum:

Soft Lighting

Lighting can trigger mood changes in children with autism. This is especially noticeable with fluorescent lighting, which generate a flickering and humming that many children find distressing. Natural light is best for children on the autism spectrum; not only is it more calming than artificial light, but natural light helps regulate the circadian rhythms that control sleep. In dimly-lit rooms and after dark, LED lighting is the best choice.

Curtains

While natural light is great, unfiltered light streaming through a window casts glares and shadows that may disturb a child with ASD. Dress windows with light-filtering curtains to achieve softer illumination in your child’s bedroom. You can also use curtains in more creative ways, like to designate private spaces in a shared bedroom or to carve out a quiet sensory-deprivation nook for your child.

Soothing Paint Colors

Red, orange, and yellow paint colors are known to boost energy, but for a child on the autism spectrum, these bright colors can be overstimulating. In general, muted greens, blues, purples, pinks, and browns are preferred by children with autism. Every child is different, however, so pay attention to how your child responds to different colors before selecting a bedroom paint color.

Soundproofing

Children tend to go to bed earlier than adults, but if there’s still noise in the home, your child may focus on the sound rather than falling asleep. Soundproofing keeps outside noise out so kids can rest peacefully. Learn how to do it yourself at Soundproofable. A white noise machine can also be used to mask noise.

A Comfortable Bed

We don’t tend to start waking up with aches and pains until we’re older, but that doesn’t mean an uncomfortable bed isn’t affecting your child’s sleep. In addition to beds that are showing their age, certain mattress materials trap heat and contribute to night sweating. If you’re concerned about budget, buy a bed large enough that your child can continue using it through their adolescent years. Most mattresses last 7-10 years with proper care.

Soft Bedding and Pajamas

Many children with autism are irritated by rough fabrics, seams and tags in clothing. Keep your child’s fabric preferences and dislikes in mind when shopping for bedding and pajamas for his room. In general, soft, silky fabrics are best. You can also find seamless and tagless clothing designed specifically for kids on the spectrum. Friendship Circle names the best places to find such products.

Sensory Toys

A child’s bedroom isn’t only a place to sleep, it’s also a safe and private space where kids can relax and escape sensory overload. Sensory toys are excellent for calming children with autism by providing a positive sensory experience. Individual children are drawn to different sensory toys, but you can learn about some of the most popular ones here.

Sleep is central to physical, mental, and emotional wellness. For children with autism, the effects of poor sleep are especially pronounced. However, parents aren’t helpless to improve their child’s sleep. While redecorating may not completely solve the sleep problems of a child on the autism spectrum, the right bedroom environment goes a long way to making your child feel safe and secure in his room.

Source: specialhomeeducator.com

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