Saturday, October 31, 2015

Halloween Magic for Children in Wheelchairs

Dressing up for trick-or-treating can be challenging for children who use wheelchairs, so they usually wear simpler costumes. Founded by a husband-and-wife team with five children (three of them with a form of muscular dystrophy), Magic Wheelchair is an Oregon-based non-profit that creates costumes for a few kids in wheelchairs for free. The kids are selected based on request videos they submit. The costumes are very impressive, and they make Halloween more enjoyable for these kids. For photos and more information about Magic Wheelchair, go to Other special needs parents have followed their example. Happy Halloween, everyone!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Air Travel Still a Challenge

A week ago, D'Arcee Neal, a 29-year-old man with cerebral palsy, crawled off a United Airlines airplane at Reagan National Airport in Arlington, Virginia. This happened because a special aisle wheelchair was prematurely removed from the plane while the other passengers were leaving. Efforts were made to get the aisle wheelchair back, but after waiting 30 minutes, Neal moved himself out of the plane and to a regular-size wheelchair because he had to go to the bathroom. He claimed the flight attendants didn't try to help him. United Airlines apologized to Neal, a representative gave him $300 in compensation, and the manager on duty was suspended, but this situation could have been prevented if there was better communication. The irony of this situation is Neal had just returned from a speaking engagement about accessible transportation at a conference in San Francisco. For more information on this story, go to

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Struggling with Stuttering

Today is International Stuttering Awareness Day. Stuttering is a speech disorder that hinders a person’s ability to speak clearly. Among other symptoms, people with this condition tend to repeat more than once the beginning of a word before saying the word. There is no cure for stuttering, but it can be treated through speech therapy and other methods. The Academy Award-winning 2010 movie The King’s Speech is an excellent demonstration of how stuttering can be overcome. For more information on stuttering, go to

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Smooth SAILing at EFSC

Eastern Florida State College’s Student Access for Improved Learning office provides academic and support services to students with disabilities. SAIL is marking the 25th anniversary of the ADA by hosting an Accessibility Awareness Day at the Melbourne campus on October 21 and at the Palm Bay campus on October 29. Last month, EFSC received a $1.4 million grant for its TriO program, which serves students with disabilities as well as low-income, first-generation students. I attended EFSC back when it was Brevard Community College, and I’m currently taking an advanced computer course online through EFSC, so I know personally how well this college treats students with disabilities. For more information about EFSC, go to

Friday, October 16, 2015

UCF: Climbing to Greater Heights

There is a new adaptive rock climbing wall at my alma mater, the University of Central Florida. Staff members have been trained to ensure the safety of climbers. UCF's rock climbing wall gives students with physical disabilities another opportunity to be active. To read more about it, go to

Saturday, October 10, 2015

SEARCHing for a Job

It can be very difficult for people with disabilities to get jobs. One possible option is Project SEARCH, a program that helps young adults with disabilities transition from high school to employment by providing them with job training and hands-on work experience. There are 21 Project SEARCH work sites in Florida, two of them in Brevard County: Holmes Regional Medical Center and Cape Canaveral Hospital. For more information about this program, go to

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Book Review: Donald L. Gilleland’s "America: Where Great Things Happen"

A writer friend recently told me about the book America: Where Great Things Happen by Brevard County (FL) author Donald L. Gilleland. This book contains inspiring, feel-good stories of people in our nation as opposed to the negative news we read and hear so often. I’m impressed Gilleland included a chapter on Americans who overcame disabilities. He summarized the lives of physicist Albert Einstein (who grew up with Asperger’s syndrome and learning disabilities) and professional surfer Bethany Hamilton (who lost her left arm due to a shark bite at age 13 in 2003) among others. This shows people with disabilities can lead meaningful and productive lives despite their challenges. For more information about this and other books by Gilleland, go to

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Boosting Self-Esteem with NDEAM

Among other observances, October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). Started 70 years ago in a different form, this campaign aims to bring awareness to disability work issues and the contributions of American workers with disabilities. The 2015 NDEAM theme is “My disability is one part of who I am.” I’m proud to be employed by J.Lodge, a call monitoring company that employs mostly people with disabilities. For more information about NDEAM (currently sponsored by the Office of Disability Employment Policy), go to As a side note, October is also Dwarfism/Little People Awareness Month and National Spina Bifida Awareness Month.

Also, a profile about me is on pages 26 and 27 of the October issue of Space Coast Living Magazine: