People Making a Difference features stories of people in their own homes, lives, families, communities, states, nations or the world making a difference (as), (with) or (for) people with disabilities. People Making a Difference! will be updated monthly highlighting the latest national and international disability news about people. Check out what is happening on the disability-front around the nation.
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."
~ Margaret Mead
"I humbly accept this honor on behalf of blind Americans and pledge to work harder than ever to ensure that the blind are not left behind in today's society."
~ Dr. Marc Maurer, Husband, father, person with a visual impairment, President of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB)
"It's a gift that keeps on taking, but it is a gift, because it's really opened me up to more kind of compassionate, curious, risk-taking person. And it's given me -- I wouldn't call the foundation my magnum opus, but it's definitely the most important thing I have ever done or will probably do in my life." ~ Michael J. Fox, Husband, Father, Canadian American actor, author, celebrity, producer, activist and voice-over artist, husband, father, person with Parkinson's Disease, founder of Michael J. Fox Foundation for research and finding a cure and effective therapies for people with Parkinson's Disease,
Bertha Haas was a Maryknoll lay missioner when she founded the Huruma School for Children with Disabilities in Mwanza, Tanzania in 2004 for a handful of children. Children with disabilities in Tanzania were looked upon as being cursed or they were shut away at home because they were considered a disgrace. Children with health problems were also considered the same. With this school Haas hoped to change the attitude of people in Tanzania toward those with disabilities. Huruma School offers children with disabilities the opportunity to go to school, encounter acceptance and achieve their potential. The word huruma means compassion in Swahili, the language of Tanzania. Today the school has 40 children with various disabilities and is supported through KILEO. For more information, visit the Mwanza, Humura School Project. Although Bertha Haas has retired, she continues to visit the school each year.
In this article of 2015 in the Washington post, Burgdohf explains how the bill and subsequent legislation of the ADA was a model in Bipartisanship legislation, based on numerous papers and studies, the abysmal condition and discrimination of people with disabilities in many facets of life and outlines these categories of the law and how it has assisted the lives of millions of American: Why I wrote the Americans with Disabilities Act
Read more about Professor Robert L Burgdorf, Jr and his many reports and work upholding the rights of people with disabilities.
Read also this June 17, 2015, article authored by Robert L Burgdorf, Jr A DOZEN THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT THE ADA ON ITS 25TH ANNIVERSARY
In this article A misunderstood law, it is interesting to note that Professor Robert L. Burgdorf, Jr points out that the ADA is misunderstood by the judicial system today. It was written to protect the rights and protect against discrimination of every citizen of the United States, not just the physically disabled at this point in time. That disability is a variation of human existence and each citizen may encounter it in one's lifetime.
Itzhak Perlman is considered the greatest virtuoso violinist of our time. He is an extraordinary musician, husband, father, a person who survived polio. For more information, visit his website at Itzhak Perlman. On the evening of January 16th 2013, Ithzak Perlman performed with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra in a Special Program at the Performing Arts Center in downtown Milwaukee with Francesco Lecce-Chong, conductor. The experience of watching this virtuoso performer is thrilling and hearing his beautiful intonation and dynamic sound is inspiring. Itzhak Perlman is considered the greatest virtuoso violinist of our time. What you may or may not know about Itzhak Perlman is that he has used his talent to actively campaign and raise money for Rotary International for the fight to end polio from the world. What you may not realize is that Itzhak Perlman is also probably one of the most famous survivors of polio, he requires braces to walk, and plays the violin seated. Visit our article about Itzhak Perlman's Milwaukee performance and the fight to eradicate polio by Rotary International.
On July 24th, President Obama invited a group of 12 representatives of the disability community to meet privately with him and other Administration officials to discuss the future of the disability movement. More specifically, the discussion centered on how the President and the Disability Community can work together toward fulfilling the promise of the ADA: equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency. Check out the Justice for All Blog for a summary of the meeting.
New Horizons Un-Limited would like to honor Ruby Nellins, who throughout the 104 years of her life gave to her community, her family and anyone in need of a helping hand. She is particularly remembered by her nephew, John and everyone that the two of them encountered. For almost 60 years, Ruby gave John the education, time, patience and love needed to help him succeed through the difficulties presented to him by cerebral palsy.
Ruby helped to give John an education in a time when educational options were few for children with disabilities. As a teacher in the Milwaukee Public Schools for 23 years until her retirement in 1947, she would devote her summers to teaching John and gave him a typewriter in the 5th grade. She fought to get John enrolled in the Milwaukee School for the Disabled and from which he graduated with a high school diploma. She helped him continue his education at UW-Madison extension and UW-Whitewater. She helped with small tasks every week, would set him up in classes with his typewriter and encouraged his independence. John is now a consumer editor for Opportunities, Inc.
We at New Horizons Un-Limited honor this outstanding caregiver and her dedication to her nephew.
This article is derived from "Oppotunities for gratitude.... Remembering Ruby," written by loving nephew John, - consumer editor, Opportunities, Inc.
"Until he extends his circle of compassion to all living things, man will not himself find peace." ~Albert Schweitzer
In the summer of 2016, Anthonette Gilpatrick, Accessibility Coordinator, planned and hosted a 25 year reunion of a very special DNR event. With 80 people attending, the reunion celebrated the contributions of the many volunteers who built the first Accessible Camping Cabin in the Wisconsin State Parks at Mirror Lake in 1991. The accessible features of the cabin were designed by the then, newly appointed, Anthonette and a cabin committee of Wisconsin citizens with disabilities in 1989. This was just before the important legislation, ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), which set standards for accessible spaces passed by Congress in 1990.
Anthonette is proud to point out the pre ADA accessible design standards and features of this early cabin design group continued to be included with each subsequent Wisconsin accessible cabin (7 more) built. This is the passion of Anthonette Gilpatrick, always training, always advocating, and a huge contributor to why the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has been a leader in accessible recreational opportunities in the United States.New Horizons Un-Limited honors Anthonette Gilpatrick in her retirement as Accessibility Coordinator for the Wisconsin (DNR) for her many accomplishments of removing barriers and creating access for thousands of people with disabilities to enjoy the Wisconsin State Parks for 27 years and plans for well into the future, especially her role to bring the Accessible Cabins to the state park campgrounds.
Anthonette explains, "It is hard to believe that I was at the DNR for 27 years and worked at an Independent Living Center for people with disabilities for 11 years prior. 38 years of working with people with disabilities!! I was blessed with the many advocates with disabilities who mentored me along the way."Kayleen Brereton was one of those mentors and encouraged Anthonette to take the position with the DNR when it came up in 1989. Kayleen was an accessibility activist on the board of the Madison ILC (Independent Living Center for people with disabilities where Anthonette had worked). Kayleen was an avid camper, used a wheelchair, and she had been a consultant for the DNR offering accessibility suggestions for the Wisconsin State Parks. It may be hard to imagine accessibility prior to the ADA, and as Anthonette has pointed out, the ADA was able to establish building standards, but when it comes to the outdoors, it is so much more difficult to create accessibility in the natural environment. Can one imagine trying to access a campsite of complete mud in one's wheelchair, an outhouse with pit toilets or scale a rocky climb of the kettle moraine of Wisconsin in one's wheel chair? Can one imagine what it might be like to have to leave one's power wheelchair at the campground shower facility to charge for the evening? It was a busy first year on the job for Anthonette, in 1989, pre-ADA, the Bureau of Parks conducted an accessibility audit to identify barriers within the state parks which included everything from visitor entrance stations, parking lots, campsites, restrooms, picnic areas, etc. From the beginning, however, the DNR checklist goal of "Open the Outdoors" was to go far beyond improving the facilities' accessibility for people with disabilities. How could people with varying challenges with mobility and other disabilities enjoy the outdoors? She said one goal was to make information on accessibility for individual parks easily available, so that "a person with a disability can come into a park, go into the park entrance station, talk to … the staff there, and get information on where in the park they can visit." This focus on not only creating accessibility, but welcoming people with disabilities, is what has made Wisconsin a leader in accessibility.
"For many people, getting outdoors to enjoy nature and wildlife is something that they can take for granted. For people who are living with disabilities, there can be a lot of obstacles to having those same experiences." Anthonette said that the initiative to make the outdoors more accessible started with the question: "Where are the barriers, and what can we do to eliminate them?""I began the Accessibility Coordinator job in the DNR Bureau of Parks in May, 1989 and volunteered in June to meet the Telephone Pioneers of America and present a list of projects to create accessibility for people with disabilities in Wisconsin's beautiful state parks." The TPA did not hesitate after Anthonette presented the list and commenced to begin a partnership with the Wisconsin DNR that included all ten ideas! For the accessible cabin project, she was the DNR staff member of the first Cabin Committee. "We wanted it to be on the campground with all the other campers," Anthonette said. This Committee established priorities for the Cabin Project, set procedures for making reservations, developed special cabin features, and listed preferred locations, and more.
Once the TPA chose the construction of the "Accessible Cabin in the Woods" project as its priority, Anthonette, along with the Pioneers volunteered numerous hours constructing the first cabin at Mirror Lake State Park in 1991. They supplied the materials and volunteer labor. "I still find it hard to believe that they donated all the labor and raised money to construct the 1st three accessible cabins. It really does "take a village" to make things like this happen."
In her various positions with the DNR, Anthonette continued to be an integral part of designing or promoting the additional five (eight in total) wheelchair accessible cabins located throughout the State Parks, Forests, or Recreational Areas. Who would have thought that the first cabin at Mirror Lake was the beginning of a very popular program to be taken up by the people of Wisconsin with countless volunteer hours and donations of material and talent that allows thousands of people to gain access to enjoy the outdoors?
"Anthonette has served as Technical Advisor to the DNR's Disability Advisory Council (DAC) starting in October 1991 until December 2016. She has contributed to legislation that allows persons with mobility disabilities to shoot from a vehicle (Class B permit); persons with visual disabilities to hunt with an assistant (Class C), and allowing persons with amputations or permanent loss of function of arm(s) to use adaptive devices on a firearms (Class D permit). Anthonette was also instrumental in securing legislation that allows the hearing impaired to use electronic calls for turkey hunting."
This commitment to break down the barriers and allow access has been the force behind Anthonette Gilpatrick's work for the DNR. It has been through her work literally in the trenches, her love for the beautiful Wisconsin State Parks and her commitment and determination that people of all abilities can not only enjoy the Wisconsin State Parks, but feel welcome there. She has given this extraordinary legacy of accessibility which includes new innovations and plans for the future.
It is our sincere hope we as Wisconsinites and all of us who enjoy the parks can continue to support accessibility far into the future.
For the full story, visit NHU Honors Anthonette GilpatrickFor more information, visit the Wisconsin State Parks Camping Cabin. and individual parks to learn of accessible features.
While serving as Accessibility Coordinator for the Wisconsin DNR from 2001-2006, Dotti Krieger accomplished many accessibility projects for disabled visitors and developed the DNR's efforts to "Open the Outdoors" (a national initiative) and the state parks to all residents of Wisconsin. She worked hard to develop and standardize accessible features in the parks, as well as access to the accessible opportunities and facilities of the parks on the DNR website. Krieger retired in 2006, but her work set a quality standard and continues to inspire accessible projects.
John Hagman, Wisconsin DNR Facilities Management Section Chief, and Julie Amakobe, Wisconsin DNR, Facilities Management Officer said, "The following are just a few of her many accomplishments with the DNR."
"Dotti Krieger served as Disability Advisory Council (DAC) technical advisor from her DNR start date of January 2001 to her retirement in October 2006. One of her many accomplishments while on the DAC included her championing the Special Hunts which allows people with disabilities precluded from hunting using traditional methods because of restriction in mobility, vision, or ambulation to allow participation of Class B permit holders. So in addition to the Class A permit holders (uses wheelchair, 2 canes, or respiratory or heart conditions) and Class C permit holders (visually impaired), now those with temporary ambulatory problems (MS, MD, advanced cancer, etc.) can participate in the special hunts.""She revived and publicized the Motorized Vehicle for Disabled Hunting on State Lands permit, which allows individuals with disabled hunting permits to access state lands with vehicles for hunting and fishing that otherwise are not open to motor vehicles, and she developed standards for fishing pier and boarding dock design to be used by DNR property managers."
"Dotti is responsible for the creation of a tactile bronze topographical map of Rock Island State Park. Those who are vision-impaired are able to learn about Rock Island by touching the map."
Included in her greatest accomplishments is that "Dotti visited and surveyed several of our state properties and assisted property managers to make their sites more accessible in many ways. One property stands out--Harrington Beach State Park. At this location, Dotti was instrumental in planning for the ADA trail to the beach and to an accessible fishing pier and other amenities." Ken Anderson, Wisconsin DNR, Southeast Region Construction Representative said, "The ADA project is not yet completed at Harrington Beach, but this spring, I'll be out with Ranger Andy Krueger surveying, designing, and bidding out the work." They will be completing this Krieger planned trail in 2010.
Dotti co-developed the DNR's "Open the Outdoors" website. This website provides disabled individuals with a user-friendly means of accessing recreation opportunities. The website includes, but is not limited to, locations with accessible canoe campsites, beaches, trails, and cabins; disabled hunting and fishing permits and licenses; boat and shore fishing accessible sites; ADA events and resources, and others. To learn more about this program, visit the DNR website at Open the Outdoors.Among these accomplishments was extending the program of building accessible cabins for people with disabilities in the state park campgrounds program and formalizing and standardizing the accessible and building design under the DNR's "Cabin in the Woods, initiative.
In 2001, the State of Wisconsin DNR's Accessibility Coordinator, Dotti Krieger, approached New Horizons Un-Limited and Miller Engineering Information Technologies Group to assist in standardizing the accessibility concept of the cabin plans. We coordinated a collaboration with the DNR, NHU, MEI, and Strass-Maguire and Associates, architects, to set forth a directive of the accessible design for future Wisconsin state park accessible cabins.
Krieger worked hard to ensure that the accessibility ideas and the plans for these cabins became a standard for the Wisconsin State Parks. In 2004, the next and 5th accessible cabin was built at High Cliff State Park near Fond du Lac, Wisconsin developed from these concept plans. Krieger worked almost single handedly on this fully state funded accessible cabin. Krieger said, "Developing new and updated building plans for the "Cabin in the Woods" project will result not only in the construction of the fifth accessible cabin at High Cliff, but these plans will be valuable for any future "Cabin in the Woods" projects in the state's parks in the years to come." Krieger indeed had the foresight of the future. Krieger and this new cabin inspired the Friends Group of the J.M. Kohler-Terry Andrae State Parks Accessible Cabin and the Kiwanis Club of Westosha-Salem for the Richard Bong State Recreation Area Accessible Cabin. Dotti Krieger encouraged these groups to approach New Horizons Un-Limited, and the design collaboration team for assistance on their respective 6th and 7th cabins for the Wisconsin State Parks. In addition, Dotti initiated contact and arranged a contract with the Green Bay Correctional Facility to make the cabinets for the Kohler Andrae accessible cabin. (Interagency cooperation) "The history of the Cabin in the Woods program is a tribute to the people of Wisconsin," Krieger said. "Each cabin becomes reality only when generous donors step forward with gifts of building funds, building plans and furniture and equipment. When it's all ready, many Wisconsin residents bring their time and talents to the work site and actually put up the structure."Each cabin features a fully accessible bathroom and kitchen and an accessible sleeping porch. All rooms are large enough to allow for people in wheelchairs to move freely about the cabin, the entrance ramps, doorways, under counter space and the roll-in shower. Furthermore, all fixtures and controls are accessible, including the faucets, toilet, door and cabinet handles and light switches.
The existing Wisconsin State Park Accessible Cabins are in great demand every season with no dates left open. The diaries left in each cabin bear testimony to the sincere appreciation that each visitor has in being able to enjoy the outdoors with a camping experience through these cabins and the accompanying accessible paths and piers. "The popularity of the sites is seen not only in their near capacity use each season, but by reading the testimonies left in journals by those who have stayed overnight. Because of the cabins, many people have had a 'vacation of dreams,' and are thankful for the opportunity to be outdoors," Krieger said, recognizing the value of the respite of nature and the opportunity that otherwise would not have been possible for individuals with disabilities and their families. There is no doubt of the remarkable need these cabin projects have filled in providing individuals with disabilities access to the outdoors and the Wisconsin State Parks.
Ken Anderson noting her work, "She championed the accessible cabin idea for the campgrounds in the SE Region of the state. She's encouraged the managers at Kohler Andrae and Richard Bong and I see a cabin in the future at Harrington Beach by the Friends Group. I enjoyed working with her, she is a wonderful person."Art Miller, Miller Engineering Information Technologies Group, is appreciative of the contribution she has made for the disabled people of our state, "Dotti has touched many lives and has been an inspiration to all of us, both individuals who have used the trails, cabins and fishing piers and those of us who have had the privilege of knowing her and working with her. She has clearly made the world a better place for all of us. As citizens of Wisconsin, we salute Dotti Krieger for her steadfast resolve to make the Wisconsin State Parks accessible for all people, her attention to accessible details, and her vision for projects in which all Wisconsin citizens may participate! Although retired now, Dotti continues to inspire everyone with whom she is acquainted, with her ability to work so passionately and optimistically for that which she believes."
It is with sad hearts we learned that on February 11, 2013, Dotti Krieger passed away quietly at home at the age of 61 from complications of cancer and a heart attack. After retiring in 2006, she lived well enjoying life, the outdoors and artistic expression in sculpture, jewelry and pottery, winning awards for her art. In 2008 she faced cancer, but bounced back after surgery. In the five years that followed she fought again and again with cancer. She is remembered by her husband, her many family members and friends and New Horizons Un-Limited. See our Remember Dotti article in NHU Remembers.
Even before the ADA a group of 10 people were asked to meet and discuss the accessible features for an Accessible Camping Cabin for the Wisconsin State Parks. The cabin was the dream of Kayleen Brereton, accessibility activist, former board member of the ILC in Madison, Wisconsin. Kayleen was an avid camper, wheel chair user. She and her husband, Don had built an accessible home which they showed to share design ideas with others. Spearheaded by the new Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Accessibility Consultant, Anthonette Gilpatrick, (former ILC staff) who had been charged by the DNR to give a volunteer group, the Wisconsin Bell Telephone Pioneers, 10 projects to assist to make the Wisconsin State Parks more accessible. This innovative and ambitious volunteer group embraced the accessible cabin idea.
Anthonette put together her design group all who had experience as people with disabilities working to make homes and travel accessible. Kayleen and Don Brereton, Diane Miller of Welcome H.O.M.E. an accessible demonstration home, Bob and Terri Deist, who had travelled extensively, Fayth Kail, Ruth Diehl, and Al Buss were among those who gave their input to the design. Caregivers were invited too, to get their perspective. They met evenings and weekends to plan all the accessible design features of the cabin. They set forth the priorities for the Cabin Project, set procedures for making reservations, developed special cabin features and listed preferred locations. "We wanted it to be on the campground with all the other campers."
Mirror Lake State Park campsite was selected as the first campsite location. Paul Quick II of Wisconsin Bell and Art Miller of Miller Engineering developed the plans as Architect and Engineer, volunteering their time and talents, as well as meeting with legislators to allow the Accessible Cabins in the State Parks. (This was the beginning of New Horizons Un-Limited).
The Telephone Pioneers with their numerous volunteers built the cabin. The cabins are a testament to the activism and effort of Wisconsin people who decided to make a difference for families who face disability.
In 1991, Wisconsin was given a great gift, Mirror Lake Accessible Camping Cabin for people with disabilities and their families to be able to enjoy the Wisconsin State Parks.
We must appreciate today the amount of time and commitment of the members of the committee, the efforts of Anthonette Gilpatrick, the Wisconsin DNR, the architect and engineer and the Telephone Pioneers. This was just before the ADA was brought to law, yet the accessible ideas and decisions they made are the basis for the design and the accessible priorities and implementation of the seven additional cabins that have been built since 1991 in the Wisconsin State Parks.
"The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit." ~Nelson Henderson
"Seek your Summit" ~ Tom Whittaker, mountain climber, motivational speaker, founder of the Cooperative Wilderness Handicapped Outdoor Group, and person with foot amputation
"[Bill] is the mad scientist inventor and I am the person that stands in the way of all danger," ~ Casey Pieretti, stuntman, actor, designer of devices to aid amputees and person with below the knee amputation.
Visual Phonics - visual symbols and hand signs for the deaf. - Carol Hill, author, entrepreneur, educator, mother, caregiver
"My life is proof that you can have joy, you can choose joy because that turns the situation around." - from "Live Your Joy." ~ Bonnie St. John, first African-American Winter Paralympic medal winner in ski racing, author, motivational speaker, person with right leg amputation, and mother.
"The goal is for future designers of our environment to spend time experiencing the environment from a different perspective. Students see first hand what it is like to be two feet shorter, with a more limited reach range. They find that things that they are used to not paying attention to such as thresholds become much more obvious. We hope that their experience will impact on future designs of buildings and environmental spaces." ~ Pascal Malassigne
Tom Whittaker was the first person with a right foot amputation and adaptive foot to climb to the summit of Mount Everest. He is a motivational speaker and founder of the Cooperative Wilderness Handicapped Outdoor Group (C.W.HOG). The Cooperative Wilderness Handicapped Outdoor Group, a regional self-help group, was established in 1981 to provide recreational opportunities for people of all abilities. The program is part of Idaho State Universtiy in Pocatello, Idaho.
"Casey Pieretti, one-legged stuntman, actor, and designer of devices to aid amputees, is now showcasing his prosthetic inventions on Discovery Channelâ€™s new show "Bionic Builders." Pieretti is "Amp'd Gear" owner, a person with below the knee amputation, stuntman and inventor and alongside his partner, Bill Sprachter they design, build and test one-of-a-kind, extreme limbs that make their amputee clients better than new. See them on facebook at Bionic Builders. On the heels of the showâ€™s pilot premiere, the longtime Santa Barbara local described the duoâ€™s life-altering inventions, and shared his enthusiasm for creating non-medical devices used to propel clients into a cyborgesque state. From a propeller leg good enough for Navy diver to use, to a punching arm that packs enough force to make you feel like youâ€™ve been shot with a gun, the host and creative producer of the show is not afraid to be the perfect guinea pig and test out these elaborate contraptions. The robotic-style prosthetics are brought to life in Pierettiâ€™s shop, Ampâ€™d Gear, located in Carpinteria; and the Discovery Channel films away as the prosthetics are tested out. "[Bill] is the mad scientist inventor and I am the person that stands in the way of all danger," says Pieretti." (One Legged Stuntman becomes 'bionic'," by Junstine Rellosa, January 16, 2011, Santa Barbara, Independent)At the age of nineteen, while on a college basketball scholarship, Casey Peretti was struck by a drunk driver. The result of this car wreck was the loss of Casey's right leg below the knee. Casey, a below knee amputee, skated from San Diego, California to Washinton D.C. on inline skates in 1993. In the hospital, "they thought that I was in denial, that I was thinking like a person who had two legs all their lives and not like a person who now had one leg, whereas I was thinking like a person who now had one leg and I was thinking that these are the things I intended to do and I did. Even when I was in hospital, I was deciding to be a triathlete, which is what I did after I got out of the hospital." (from Disabled World - Disability News for all the Family)
Ralf Hotchkiss is an inventor and designer of a maneuverable wheelchair, whose non-profit manufacturing company, Whirlwind Wheelchair International, designs wheelchairs for use by people with disabilities in developing countries. This non-profit program also assists companies in developing countries to manufacture the wheelchairs, giving people with disabilities (many of themselves wheelchair riders) roles in all aspects of their designs and projects.
And that is not all! This worldwide company is posed to assist in earthquake devastated Haiti. Recognizing that there will be potentially many people who are injured with spinal chord injury and limb loss, this company is requesting the manufacture of wheelchairs from their network of regional, quality-certified manufacturers; small wheelchair shops across the developing world under their public domain licensing program. They have ordered chairs from their network of suppliers and those chairs will be sent to Haiti as rapidly as possible beginning in April.
From the Whirlwind Wheelchair International website, this non-profit social enterprise is "dedicated to improving the lives of people with disabilities in the developing world while promoting sustainable local economic development in the process. They work to make it possible for every person in the developing world who needs a wheelchair to obtain one that will lead to maximum personal independence and integration into society. (The World Health Organization estimates that 1 out of every 300 people, or 20 million people, in the developing world need a good wheelchair and do not have one. [WHO Wheelchair Guidelines, 2008]) By giving wheelchair riders a central role in all aspects of their designs and projects, they ensure that their chairs are appropriate for real lives in real environments. For thirty years in over 40 countries they have focused on producing durable, low-cost, and highly functional wheelchairs. These chairs give riders the reliable and functional mobility they need to reach their full potential. Their active adult wheelchair design, the RoughRider is used by 25,000 riders traveling over every terrain imaginable from muddy village paths to rough pot-holed urban streets. In partnership with their wheelchair buyers, Whirlwind provided 3,000 RoughRiders in 2008 and 3,500 in 2009."
Hotchkiss is himself a paraplegic from a motorcycle accident, a graduate of Oberlin College where he began to make changes and develop his own wheelchair. "After graduation he went to Washington where he established a small Center for Concerned Engineering that worked for stronger fire prevention standards, auto safety and improved equipment for the disabled. His success with inventions brought him to the attention of the Veterans Administration where he became a consultant on equipment for disabled veterans. He continued his refinements of wheelchair design, durability and cost of construction during the rest of the Seventies." (Inventors) He moved to Oakland, California in 1980, traveled the world and began to design a wheelchair to meet the needs of riders in Third World countries. In 1989, he co-designed the RoughRider wheelchair and began to teach mechanical engineering from the Whirlwind headquarters located on the San Francisco State University campus as part of the Institute for Civic and Community Engagement. Hotchkiss believes his non-profit's wheelchair, because of the versatility of design makes this wheelchair able to stand up to and useable on rugged terrain. He believes the injured people of Haiti will benefit from the Roughrider, the tough, sturdy, but maneuverable design will allow this wheelchair to ride over the difficult terrain of rocks, holes, unpaved roads, water, mud, sand, rubble and more.
Roughriders are very low cost - about $220 a piece and the organization is looking for donations to assist worldwide. For more information or to help with this effort, visit their website above.
References: Bay Area Program Sends Wheelchairs To Haiti (link no longer available.) Reporting by Kim Mulvihill, M.D, CBS5, 01 Feb 2010 and Inventors Wheelchair Helps Disabled in the Third World (link no longer available.) 03 Feb 1986.
Sometimes necessity is the mother of invention. The following article, Difficulties that the Deaf Encounter Because of the Lack of Educational Materials for the Deaf, © Copyright, 2010, Carol Hill, All Rights Reserved, from our personal experiences pages reminds us too,
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." ---Margaret Mead
This personal experience is written by a mother, grandmother, Carol Hill, who has experienced raising her own children and grandchildren who are deaf. She is advocating to not only make literature and printed materials, videos more available to children who are deaf, but that children also require a way to see and feel the sounds of language in order to develop language and reading skills. To compensate for this inequality she developed a system of visual symbols and hand signs for the deaf called Visual Phonics. The program is further developed at the University of Ohio, Literacy and Learning Center. Visual Phonics is now being used all over the country and in many schools for children who are deaf." (This strategy should not be confused with the commercially available products and materials on the market under the same name.) Carol continues to work on producing books for deaf children, with ASL sign language videos included. We look forward to sharing information on these books in the future.
"My life is proof that you can have joy, you can choose joy because that turns the situation around," from Live Your Joy. - first African-American Winter Paralympic medal winner in ski racing, author, motivational speaker, person with right leg amputation, and mother. She graduated with honors from Harvard University and won a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford; she was appointed to the White House National Economic Council. She has been featured on television and on the news. Her book, "Live Your Joy" is an inspirational message to everyone and speaks to those struggling with amputation or limb loss too.
"Pascal Malassigne is a Professor of Industrial Design at MIAD, an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Medical College of Wisconsin, and a Research Career Scientist at the Milwaukee Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Professor MalassignÃ© is the recipient of many design awards and patents and is widely recognized for his design research work. For the last twenty years, he has devoted all his non-teaching activities to design assistive and mobility products for individuals with disabilities. He is the author of many articles and papers and has lectured and made presentations on his work nationally and internationally." (From MIAD)
Malassigne encourages his students to design for human needs and focuses on design for people with disabilities. Recently his students worked with physically and cognitively disabled students at Riverside High School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to design items to assist these students in everyday life. (From Milwaukee's Lifestyle Magazine, "Human Element", by Julie Larrinee)
In 2008, he was professor involved with the Tap the Potential, On Wheels project in which Milwaukee area design students were involved in experiencing living in a wheel chair to assist them in their design objectives. "The goal is for future designers of our environment to spend time experiencing the environment from a different perspective. Students see first hand what it is like to be two feet shorter, with a more limited reach range. They find that things that they are used to not paying attention to such as thresholds become much more obvious. We hope that their experience will impact on future designs of buildings and environmental spaces." "Students are provided with wheelchairs and asked to go through their normal daily routine including going to class, working, going through the college food lines and negotiating their dormitory rooms. They are encouraged to go outside and experience curb cuts, sidewalk slopes and public access into various buildings. Students from the Milwaukee Institute of Art Design, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Marquette and the Milwaukee School of Engineering participated last year." (From >Go Milwaukee County). In 2006, Design Intelligence magazine named Professor MalassignÃ© as one of the Most Admired Industrial Design Educators. He has been involved with the Rehabilitation Engineering Society of North America's Human Factors & Ergonomics Society and the Industrial Designers Society of America's Design Foundation.
Jeffrey Bigham, a Ph.D. candidate in computer science at the University of Washington is in the process of developing a web-based screen reader that can be used to read content from websites while browsing on any computer with a sound card. The new program provides text-to-speech translation as a web-based application without the need to install additional software. Referred to as WebAnywhere, it is designed to work with all browsers and operating systems. Users can try out an Alpha release of the WebAnywhere application, an open source project supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation.
A University of Wisconsin-Madison Biomedical Engineering Doctoral student has recently developed a program that can post on Twitter, a popular social networking website, using only his thoughts. The technology uses a red cap fitted with electrodes that monitor brain activity, hooked up to a computer flashing letters on a screen. The student posted messages by concentrating on the letters he wanted to "type," then focusing on the word "twit" at the bottom of the screen to post the message. This technology can be a lifeline for individuals, whose brains function normally, but are otherwise unable to communicate due to any number of physical disabilities or neurological disorders. While brain-computer interface technology has been in development for many years, using a site such as Twitter can significantly simplify the interaction.
While it may be some time before such technology is made available, it is a step that will someday provide a means of communication for hundreds of thousands of people with disabilities. For more on the breakthrough and to see a video demonstration, visit CNN's article: Brain-Twitter project offers hope to paralyzed patients - www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/04/22/twitter.locked.in/index.html#cnnSTCText.
A particular social entrepreneur, Dina Abdel Wahab, has started preschools in Egypt for that nation's once neglected children of disabilities. As a new innovative activist she is determined to make a long-term systemic change in a society filled with inequality and inhumanity.
Dina Abdel Wahab's son, Ali, was born with Down Syndrome. In Cairo there were no preschools that would meet his needs or were equipped with special education teachers. She decided if Ali were to have a normal life, she would need to improve preschool education in Egypt. She created The Baby Academy, a chain of preschools for children three months to five years old, based in child-centered philosophy. She brought in people with backgrounds in early childhood education and special education and developed a program to meet the children's developmental needs and to help children achieve their potential. The mission of The Baby Academy is to become a leader in early childhood education throughout Egypt and the Middle East. Dina hopes to achieve this by opening more preschools in Cairo and franchising the idea. Dina Abdel Wahab also now advocates with the Egyptian government for inclusion opportunities for special needs children in Egypt's mainstream education system. For more information, visit the The Baby Academy.
"although the federal government strives to be a model employer, in actuality, the number of people with disabilities in the federal workforce has decreased in the past decade." "This trend must be reversed, and it is my commitment that the Department of Labor be a leader in this effort." - Hilda Solis, U.S. Secretary of Labor
In this address, Secretary of State, John Kerry, voiced his support for ratification of the U.N. Disabilities Treaty. He felt the treaty would "advance core American values, expand opportunities for our citizens and businesses and strengthen American leadership." As the American Secretary of State he had traveled to many countries and confirmed the need for the treaty for children with disabilities to be treated better across the globe. "There are countries where children with disabilities are warehoused from birth, denied even birth certificates and treated as second class citizens every day of their lives. In too many countries, what we did here at home through the Americans with Disabilities Act hasn't been remotely realized overseas. In too many places, what we take for granted hasn't been granted at all." Without ratifying the Treaty we cannot come together and meet and offer our American great expertise and experience with our ADA to other countries.
Without ratification Americans with disabilities and our veterans with disabilities are unable to travel, study at schools abroad or work when their jobs require it in the global economy. Our American citizens with disabilities will be stifled from participation in the world. "The way we treat people of all backgrounds – including how we treat our brothers and sisters with disabilities – demonstrates our values and defines who we are. That's our greatest export, and this is our chance to make sure that we leave no one behind." (Unfortunately the U.S. Congress has yet to ratify this treaty, although it had non-partisan support in 2013. There are 51 million Americans that would benefit from the U.S. taking leadership on this issue. Although ratifying would not change one thing in American law or add a penny to our budget, the treaty was not ratified by the U.S. Congress sending a disassociation message to Americans with disabilities.) We salute John Kerry and the many members of Congress who agreed with him. For more of his inspiring message, visit kerry_testimony.
On July 26th, disability activists across the nation celebrated the 19th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). In recognition of this occasion, Hilda Solis, the U.S. Secretary of Labor, committed to improving employment prospects for individuals with disabilities in a letter to the American Association of People with Disabilities. As part of this letter, Ms. Solis acknowledged that "although the federal government strives to be a model employer, in actuality, the number of people with disabilities in the federal workforce has decreased in the past decade." She went on to say, "this trend must be reversed, and it is my commitment that the Department of Labor be a leader in this effort." As part of the Department of Labor's (DOL) effort to hire an additional 3000 workers, the Secretary is challenging DOL managers to actively recruit qualified workers with disabilities.
To learn more about the opportunities available at the Department of Labor, visit USAJOBS online at www.usajobs.gov.
President Obama's nominee to fill the seat of Supreme Court Justice David Souter, Judge Sonia Sotomayor, has a record that is very favorable to individuals with disabilities. Judge Sotomayor, diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 8 and therefore considered a person with a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), has via her court rulings, shown a comprehensice understanding of disability rights and the language and purpose of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Rehabilitation Act, Social Security and more.
ADA Watch's Campaign for Fair Judge's is calling on their organizational partners and colleagues from the disability, mental health, education, civil rights and social justice communities to support Judge Sonia Sotomayor. To read more about the Judge's decisions in regards to disability cases, visit the Preliminary Review of Disability Cases of Judge Sonia Sotomayor prepared by the The Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law.
A newly announced initiative, "The Year of Community Living", will create new initiatives that will address the issue of choice in long-term care. More than $10 million will be made available via Health and Human services to make the right services available in appropriate settings when the individual needs them. To learn more about the HHS initiatives, News Release is no longer available.
Additionally, The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will make $30 million in voucher assistance available to support approximately 4,000 Housing Choice Vouchers for non-elderly disabled families. HUD is making 1,000 of those vouchers available specifically for individuals transitioning out of nursing homes and other institutions. To learn more about these voucher opportunities, contact your local public housing authority (PHA). To find your local PHA visit https://www.hud.gov/states.
Being let go from his job in 2003 turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Dave Krikac and his family. It was at this point that he realized his real job in life was to create a secure future for his daughter Sara, who is diagnosed with Autism and had been unable to secure a job after high school. It turns out many local families with young adults with disabilities experienced the very same disappointment. Either the available jobs were menial, minimum wage jobs, or simply not suited for the needs and interests of their children. Dave set out to change this reality! He and his wife created The GEAR (Gainful Employment and Respect) Foundation to help CREATE jobs for local adults with disabilities. Through the foundation the Krikac's operate a thrift store, called Our Thrift Store, which employs young adults with disabilities. Every employee is treated with respect and given meaningful tasks that lend to the improvement of self confidence and self respect. To learn more about the Krikac's thrift store, visit Our Thrift Store online. To this end he and his wife, set out to create a foundation
Gladys H. Lecher (1923-2017) had a "compassion for life which included her love of baseball, bowling and many sports. She was a compassionate teacher in the West Allis School System." (JSOn-line)A former student explained that Ms. Lecher ran a summer playground teaching sports, arts and crafts and theater arts for people with disabilities. She encouraged her student to transfer from a special needs school to Frank Lloyd Wright Jr. High School and later the student graduated from West Allis High School. Her students describe that Gladys was a wonderful, caring teacher, made learning fun, and was active teaching them to play sports.
This past weekend the disability movement lost a dedicated advocate. In the early 70s, Alberta Lessard challenged the system on mental health commitment laws and changed, through the US Supreme Court, the laws across the country to provide more protection for individual patients such as rights to legal representation, a timely hearing, a jury trial and cross-examination of witnesses. Alberta is absolute proof that one person can make a difference. She was an awesome, loving, caring, forgiving, special friend of one of the active members of New Horizons Un-Limited. She will be missed. [Photo credit: jsonline.com]
It is with sad hearts we learned that on February 11, 2013, Dotti Krieger passed away quietly at home at the age of 61, from complications of cancer and a heart attack. Dotti Krieger was Accessibility Coordinator for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) from 2001 to 2006 and was the creative and driving force behind the Accessible Cabin plans for the cabins at the Wisconsin State Parks High Cliff, Kohler Andrae and the cabins built since. We at NHU had the privilege of collaborating with her on these accessible cabins.Dorothy Ann Krieger was born in Appleton, Wisconsin in 1951. She entered this world handling a fight for her health with a cleft palate. Her husband, Bill, has said that her parents treated her normal alongside her siblings and Dotti believed this assisted her to overcome her many early surgeries and her success with speech therapy. Dotti battled and survived breast and uterine cancer while still in her 30's. Her spirit to survive these health crises with positive energy served her well throughout her life. She worked hard to achieve her goals and encouraged others to follow their dreams and she lived life to the fullest whenever she could.
She earned her bachelor degree at Dominican College with double majors in psychology and art history with a minor in comparative English literature. She later took her masters degree at UW Whitewater in Adult Vocational Guidance. Her post graduate work emphasized Public Administration and Law. She was an effective negotiator for the State of Wisconsin requested by both sides of the negotiating table. She became one of the youngest women ever to be promoted to Division Administrator when she worked at the Wisconsin State Historical Society.
She culminated her professional career as the Accessibility Coordinator for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. It was there her indomitable will to improve and develop accessible facilities for the people of Wisconsin resulted in what Dotti felt were the most productive and rewarding years of her career. She retired from her position with the DNR in 2006.
For more information about Dotti as Accessibility Coordinator, see our article 2001-2006 - NHU Congratulates Dotti Krieger on her retirement as Accessibility Coordinator, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR)
After retiring she lived well, enjoying life, the outdoors and artistic expression in jewelry making, pottery, and sculpture and won awards for her art. In 2008 she faced cancer for another time in her life, but bounced back after surgery. For five years with her husband Bill at her side, she fought several more cancer battles and related health problems. During those years she was able to stay close to the many friends and family members she felt made her life worth living.
Dotti was known for her extended family, people who held her dear in their lives, for whom she served as wife, mother, grandmother, aunt and sister. She was an artist, an accessibility engineer, a guide, a very articulate and hard working associate and a woman who lived life with great humor, interest and much courage. She is remembered fondly by her husband, her many family members and friends and all of us at New Horizons Un-Limited.
We are greatly saddened by the loss of one of our most beloved collaborators, Dave Schultz, who passed away October 25, 2010. Dave was the driving force behind the building of the accessible cabin in the campground at Richard Bong State Recreation Area near Burlington, Wisconsin. Inspired by his son, who is paralyzed from the mid-chest down and their camping experiences when trying to navigate with a wheelchair, he partnered with his friend, Michael Wagner and the Kiwanis of Clubs of Racine and Kenosha counties, New Horizons Un-Limited, Miller Engineering, Strass Maguire Architects, the Friends of Bong State Recreation Area and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources along with many construction companies to raise the funds and then worked tirelessly to build the accessible cabin. Many accommodations for various disabilities went into the design and finish of the completely accessible cabin.By building a cabin at Bong, Dave and his family expressed their appreciation for camping opportunities at the other five cabins throughout the state, giving back much more. Dave's talent for finish carpentry and his cabin have made it possible for many people with disabilities to enjoy camping and nature far into the future. Dave was a skilled carpenter, a devoted husband, a loving father, a thoughtful grandfather, and a generous friend. He is remembered by his wife, brother, sisters, sons, grandchildren and New Horizons Un-Limited.
We are greatly saddened by the loss of one of our very special volunteers, Nick Weid, who passed away July 18, 2010 at age 43 years. Nick was an employee of Miller Engineering who never hesitated to volunteer for us or support our endeavors at New Horizons Un-Limited. He always lent a helping hand to assist with carrying and storing computers for our Computer Grant Program for people with disabilities and supported all our fundraising efforts. Nick loved his children, family, friends, and life. He also had a great love of music, and enjoyed writing songs with his new band, Spider XXX. Our staff and volunteers will remember Nick fondly as he always had a humorous word for everyone and always helped our NHU volunteers feel very welcome. Nick is lovingly remembered by his companion, children, father, sisters, brothers, and further survived by aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces, other relatives and many friends. We offer our deepest sympathy to his family and also to his co-workers at Miller Engineering.
This past year one of our volunteer interns, Kitti (Katherine) Dotzler passed away July 11, 2009 at 56. Kitti served New Horizons Un-Limited as a student volunteer intern from Milwaukee Area Technical College Web Development Internship Program from October 2004 - June 2005. She assisted us with many of the technical and interactive areas of our website. Kitti was an Alverno College graduate, and worked recently at WPS in Madison. She was particularly devoted to our endeavors with people with disabilities and returned often to volunteer for NHU, hauling and cleaning computers, and assisting with website development. She was a wife, a mother and a dear friend of New Horizons Un-Limited. We miss Kitti, her joyful presence, organization, and dedication to detail.
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