It was a huge honor to work with the Lenovo team, Amazing Studio, Ada Lopez with the Product Diversity Office, and Shaholly Ayers (Disability Influencer) to make a commercial on taking accessibility, inclusive, and universal design a big step beyond what many companies still do not consider as a key strategic business imperative.
More than that, to make digital accessibility possible in many instances, the physical design of product’s is equally essential for so many of us with disabilities. As an example, I use Dragon speaking naturally dictation software as my hands are paralyzed as a C6 quadriplegic.
However, there are times with my limited hand mobility that I need to take my laptop on the go. It’s so important how a laptop is designed with respect to how sensitive the mouse is to my paralyzed fingers, how spaced out the keys on a keyboard are, and how I can rotate with adaptive behavior my arm to turn on the laptop. The list goes on.
Each of you may be a day away from potentially joining a club that will require you to adapt in the most creative of ways.
If you should, it behooves all corporations and society at large to pay attention to Diversity, Equity, inclusion, and Belonging –in company culture, digital accessibility, and physical design of products and services for consumers and employees with disabilities.
It was my honor to be an actress for a day, as it was tremendously fun, but it’s about Smarter Technology for All.
Thank you Lenovo for continuing to step up in, not only in understanding how technology can transform lives, but in paving the way for other companies to follow your lead!
My life. It’s complex. It can be challenging and downright overwhelming at times. I find humor in places that most likely would not – even when I’m tied down to a hospital bed in China after major spinal surgery in the ICU.
The other day I was rolling around my bed with my caregiver and started to think about how I am naked 60% of my day. Seriously! I have people’s hands inside and outside of my body, and the only privacy I maintain are my personal thoughts. Of course, this can be challenging at times, but over time I’ve learned to adapt to the unknown. I redirect, reimagine, and repurpose my life each day. Such as the life of a quadriplegic dealing with bowel, bladder, dressing, showering, etc.
It’s a really good thing that I’m European. I grew up running around naked on an out island in the Bahamas and topless half of my life with a German mother who believes that less cloth’s is more. Translation — I’m really not shy about being naked. Thank goodness otherwise I believe I would not have the sense of humor I have today.
I was thinking about all of the positions my caregiver twists me every day and I just started to laugh out loud. We decided to showcase a video with my “standard daily poses” to illustrate some of the many things I deal with throughout my day.read more…
As we approach the end of Disability Pride Awareness Month this July, I am reminded of the fragility of living my life as a quadriplegic and all that I’ve been through. I’ve actually been thinking quite a lot about certain conversations involving tremendous giggling with my caregivers about the absurdity of the completely normal conversations we have in my everyday life with my disability. They are funny, quirky, raw, and truly the authentic side of my life as a wheelchair user.
Upon further reflection I was wondering why I have the need to share this with the world? Most of what I write and speak on center around the core message of normalizing highly uncomfortable topics in disability life with a dose of dark humor and authenticity.
It’s not what you do, it’s why you do it
I’ve always been pretty open about my life, probably too much, and over the last few years I’ve completely turned my life upside down professionally to switch careers.
I returned back for the most epic experience I’ve had in many years after attending the National Speakers Association 50th Anniversary Influence Conference. I was listening to the top global speakers around the world and something hit me. In my soul, I finally figured out what my purpose is in life.read more…
A huge thank you to the American Medical Rehabilitation Providers Association (AMRPA) for writing such a beautiful article on so many challenges many of us wheelchair users continually strive to fight for health equity in our community!
“Seat Elevation: A Campaign for Coverage
Despite Ali’s optimism, which continues to shine through in her effervescent personality, the American healthcare system has proven itself to be a formidable foe in the fight to obtain coverage for medically necessary equipment. Much of Ali’s advocacy over the past few years has centered around a couple key pieces of equipment: seat elevators and standing wheelchairs. Each of these devices massively improve quality of life for their users, allowing far greater freedom of movement, independence, and safety.[PS1]
So, when in 2020 Ali was eligible for a new power wheelchair, it only made sense to request a chair with power seat elevation. The request was promptly denied, however, beginning a months-long battle that eventually culminated in Ali successfully obtaining a seat elevation chair after exhausting all possible appeals. There was one caveat, though: The decision to cover the new chair, according to her carrier, was not a precedent — in other words, the decision would not apply to others who would benefit similarly from the equipment. Though Ali was ecstatic to be receiving the equipment, the decision seemed less like a major victory and more like placating someone who refused to give up when most people would.
Unsurprisingly —it’s what she was arguing for all along! — seat elevation “has transformed my life,” Ali recently told AMRPA’s Medical Rehab Matters podcast. For her, it means tasks such as cooking, brushing her teeth and transferring from her wheelchair to her bed can now be completed independently and safely. In seeing how medically necessary a power seat elevator indeed is, Ali did not give up the fight but instead continued to be a part of the campaign to have CMS classify all power seat elevators as medically necessary — not just hers.“
Check out the latest episode of Wheelchair Nerds as we discuss the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ decision on coverage for seat elevation. There is a lot to unpack on the approved criteria and next steps, and Ali Ingersoll and Jim Stephenson join us to discuss the impact of this decision and consider what’s to come.
Each day LinkedIn consistently sends me job alerts on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). I haven’t taken the time to turn off these little notifications as my plate is beautifully full in life at the moment. I do, however, find myself clicking on these jobs from time to time to read what they’re all about, requirements, qualifications, etc.
I’m also amazed when a job posting goes up that there are usually over 100 applicants within just a few hours. I suppose I’m keeping my pulse on the DEI landscape in general as this is such a hot field now (rightly so), which I do hope remains consistent in the decades to come. The other day a very well-known medical company posted a job for a DEI Consultant position that was advertised as remote. I was reading the job description and it seemed pretty boilerplate for so many I see regularly at first glance that is. What I discovered upon reading further raised an incredibly bright red flag for me.read more…
I will start out by saying that this article is from a truly authentic perspective, raw, and may be challenging for some to read. However, despite my dark humor and quirky positive outlook on life there are some aspects of living with a disability that are just challenging. Plain and simple. I wish everything ended with unicorns and rainbows, but at the end of the day no matter what you may be dealing with there are ways to cope with all situations. I promise I do have 2 great pieces of advice I work on every day at the end of this article!
Secondly, this is not article is not about romantic relationships. This is a post about ALL relationships, with parents, loved ones, spouses, caregivers, or anyone who helps assist many of us with disabilities who are completely dependent on others.read more…
It was a true honor and pleasure to be the keynote speaker for Disability:In North Carolina this past month for their Wellness@Work to chat about the importance of health and wellness. Health and wellness for yourself, your corporation, and how to bring your best authentic self to work and in life.
It is my greatest hope that there are lessons we can each take out of this in our own lives and in a professional capacity!
Whenever we experience trauma or go through an extremely challenging time in our lives we often remember the bad. We remember the ugly. We don’t remember little moments of hope because our brains are wired generally catastrophize experiences. Just think about the mainstream media, are you happier when you read it at the end of the day?
Don’t you feel like most news reports focus on the doom and gloom of what’s going on around the world? How many “Good Feeling” stories do you read in a day? I’m guessing not many. I’ll never forget during Covid there was this mini-series called “Some Good News” hosted by the American Actor and Filmmaker John Krasinksi. It was genius. It made you laugh and feel hope in the face of a global lock-down. I digress.
The same can really be said for our lives. In 2016 I spent an entire year in bed with multiple surgeries from a pressure sore on my backside down to my bone. It was painful, it was lonely, it was depressing, and it was a very arduous and long road to recovery. Months on end of not being able to see more than four walls and a window.