It’s Wednesday, so you know that means we’re bringing you a new issue of The Bigger Picture, fresh & hot out of the oven!
More Than Just a Pet
Here at NWGA CIL we have 4 service dogs that share our office (and sometimes a fifth dog, volunteer Anna), and it’s an absolute delight having them around. But so many people don’t think of them as workers. This article from Invisible Disabilities is a great educational piece on how & why service animals are more than just a pet.
DisArt Festival 2015
This month, in Grand Rapids, MI, the DisArt Festival ran from April 10 through April 25, and brought an often unseen angle of disability to the world: Disability as Art. “Changing perceptions about disability, one work of art at a time” is their motto, and they certainly worked hard towards that goal. Check out their main page, as well as a four-part news piece from The Rapidian to see more.
A few issues ago we gave you a look at Includification, run by the AbleGamers Charity, a group of individuals who are working hard through various projects to make sure everyone can enjoy video games, regardless of disabilities. One of the other projects that AbleGamers are working on is the site Unstoppable Gamer. UG works to review the accessibility of newly released video games so that individuals with disabilities can get an idea of how accessible a video game will be to them before purchasing it. This is a newer project so keep an eye on it as they expand their game reviews. If you know someone who plays video games and uses assistive technology, make sure to share this with them!
Staff Spotlight – Tonia Clayton
Each week on The Bigger Picture we’ll be bringing you a closer look at one of our wonderful staff members. This week we bring you an interview with Tonia Clayton, Certified Peer Support Specialist. If you live in Rome and have been around downtown you may have seen her walking with her service dog, Jamie (especially around our office on 5th Avenue). Keep reading to learn more about Tonia and what she does to help here at NWGA CIL!
What do you do at NWGACIL? I am a certified peer supporter, which means I assist consumers with their goals. I teach IL Skills classes such as Jaws (screen reader for the computer that a blind person would use), Braille, Money Management, Nutrition, finding Housing along with some Advocay and assistance for getting a service animal. I also am in charge of the Home Modifications program.
How long have you worked with NWGACIL? I volunteered from 2006-2009; I was hired in 2010 and still working here today.
Do you have a disability? Yes, I have Retinitis Pigmentosa, which is a genetic disorder that affects the retina; it puts holes in the retina, making it look like a pin cushion. I have no side vision, night vision or color vision and I have some central vision but I can’t see past a couple of feet in front of me. I also have no depth perception.
What topic of independent living do you find most important? I like the aspect of Independent living that involves standing up for yourself in the community and trying not to let other people to run all over me.
What’s the best part of working at NWGACIL? The best thing about working at NWGACIL is the people that act like a family and how they understand about taking time to take out my service dog, Jamie. Also, if there is something that I am doing wrong I like it that they let me know before I go out into the public.
What do you do for fun? I try to visit my boyfriend when I can, watching TV, reading books, going on trips with GCB (Georgia Council of the blind) along with visiting with other guide dog users.
What one food do you wish had zero calories? Pizza!
What’s the best advice you ever received? Don’t be so serious, smile a little more each day.
If you could be any animal, what would you be? Why? I would be an elephant; because I remember almost everything you ask me to remember.
Take us through a typical day in your life. I get up in the morning to get ready for work, ride the bus into work, and do my work in the office or sometimes I have to do something in the community. Then I take a bus back home and then I watch TV and read a book on my phone to go to bed; while I go through my day, I am accompanied by my service dog Jamie.
What advice would you give someone just beginning their independent living journey? Don’t let the world give you a hard time; stand up for your disability rights and accommodations.
And so concludes another edition of The Bigger Picture! We appreciate you stopping by to see what’s new in the world of NWGA CIL and Independent Living. Come by again next Wednesday to see more, and we’ll have pictures from several recent events we’ve attended!