And so came the ninth post of The Bigger Issue, born of sweat and oil, bubble and boil, trouble and toil! (Not really, it’s quite fun and easy!)
This Company Designed Dolls That Have Scars And Use Hearing Aids
Toys and dolls have long been representations of the crossing of real-life and fantasy. Some toys are realistic, and are meant to be; some are fantastical, and are meant to be. But what happens when a child gets a toy that is supposed to be realistic, but doesn’t represent them and the reality of their life? Unless that child fits a very specific mold, this is true; and it rings terribly true for a child with a disability…until now! #ToyLikeMe started as a Twitter campaign, but a toy company has turned it into reality. Take a look!
The Battle Over Funding for Speech Devices
“Communication” and “speech” are not synonymous terms. There are many ways to communicate that do not involve speech (especially as we traditionally view it: sound coming from a person’s mouth to convey meaning). People with disabilities that make speech difficult need special devices to help them communicate with others, such as smartphones for texting, eye tracker devices or communication boards (like the GoTalk). Disability Scoop has an update on Medicare/Medicaid funding for these devices. If you want to learn more about eye tracker devices, meet Lianna Bryant, a lovely young lady with cerebral palsy who uses the Tobii device to communicate. (You can watch her write a poem about…well, about, something everyone has in common!)
Film Festival for People with Disabilities
Films featuring and made by people with disabilities are spotlighted at ReelAbilities, a film festival held yearly for the past 7 years. The festival was co-founded by Isaac Zablocki as a way to showcase films regarding disability, whether it is in front of or behind the camera. The festival is held in 15 US cities, and receives hundreds of submissions each year. Read more from NPR about the film festival!
Staff Spotlight – Jill Baldwin
Each week on The Bigger Picture we’ll be bringing you a closer look at one of our wonderful staff members. This week is our final Staff Spotlight (for humans, anyway), and well…it’s me! That’s right, meet the well-kept, long, pointy, manicured nails behind these weekly blog posts: Jill Baldwin!
How long have you worked with NWGACIL? 10 months, although it doesn’t seem like it’s been that long! But in so many ways, it feels like I’ve been here with these great folks for a comfortable long time.
What do you do at NWGACIL? My title is BIP Information and Referral Coordinator, however I’m sort of a Jill-of-All-Trades. My background is social work/mental health, so I get to help out in that area, but I have been working on computers as a hobby for most of my life (read: in-house tech support).
Do you have a disability? That’s actually interesting for me to answer, because I’m just now coming to terms with the fact that the medical conditions I have are disabilities. I was born with a heart defect that necessitated me having heart surgery when I was a year old. My rib bones were not set back properly, and now that I’m an adult I have developed hyperossification (lots of bone spurs) along with it. These things combined mean that I am in constant pain in my rib cage, shoulder and back. It all set in full-force about nine years ago, and it will continue to worsen as I get older. For now my mobility is okay, but I can’t stand or walk for very long without a great deal of pain. I never know if I’m going to have a “good day” or a “bad day” with the pain. There are several aspects of my life that were limited as a result of the pain. (Wow, what a long answer! Oops!)
What topic of independent living do you find most important? Advocacy and self-advocacy, definitely! I’ve been fortunate in my career to have the chance to be an advocate for so many different types of people in critical areas of their life, but I think that helping someone achieve self-advocacy is the greatest gift you can give them. We all need the help of our fellow humans, but sometimes we will be in a place where we are our sole advocate. It’s better to be prepared for that than to be thrown into the deep end without knowing how to swim.
What’s the best part of working at NWGACIL? That’s a tie, between the amazing family of people that I work with and being able to help people with disabilities. I’ve never felt so at home amongst coworkers as I do here. They accept and uplift me every single day! But the best feeling is being able to help people that need assistance, even if it’s just something as small as giving them a DME item.
What have you learned from working here? With my background, I always had sort of an inkling about independent living, but I’ve learned the full fledged IL philosophy while working here, and it has been so enlightening, and empowering, too! With each consumer that I work with, the more that I learn.
What do you do for fun? The nerd blood runs hot and red through my veins: I play a lot of video games, and I play or run games like Dungeons & Dragons or LARPs very regularly. I unwind most days by painting and maintaining my nails or playing with make-up. Cooking has always been a passion for me, too. When my pale skin needs some vitamin D, I ride 4-wheelers with my dad and fiancée, or we practice target shooting/marksmanship.
Describe a typical day in the life of you. I wake up and fix my coffee (the day can’t go on without it), assemble myself and come into work. Check emails, read some IL and disability news across the web, then tackle whatever work tasks are on tap for the day. When I leave work I usually head home and my wonderful fiancée, Michael, is there to greet me with a smile and kiss. We cook dinner (I love to cook!), do a little housework, then play video games or catch up on TV shows (it’s Game of Thrones season, y’all!). Hit the hay, and do it all over again!
What would you most like to tell yourself at age 13? You don’t know how beautiful you are. You don’t realize that the things that make you “weird” right now will be the things that make you awesome soon. You don’t know the difficulties that are about to come your way; but you also don’t know how strong you really are. It’ll all be okay, I promise.
Do you have anything on your Bucket List? The only thing that I have a genuine yearning for is to have a child/children, and experience all of the things that go along with motherhood and raising a tiny human (my cats have given me plenty experiences from raising tiny furballs).
Recent Events at NWGA CIL…
On Wednesday, 5/13, Maia and Chris visited the great people at Kaleidoscope in Cedartown to do education about navigating relationships, especially for people with disabilities. We love taking our programs on the road!
On Tuesday, 5/19, NWGA CIL hosted the Low Vision Technology Open House at the GCB (Georgia Council of the Blind) meeting in Rome. Enhanced Vision was on site to give hands-on demonstrations and answer questions about their technology that aids people with low vision. There were over 20 attendees, and one lucky member won a free Pebble Mini device as a door prize. We also now have one at our office as part of our assistive technology program! If you’re interested in any of our AT devices and learning more, please call us at 706-314-0008!
Goodness gracious, this was a big post! Congratulations for making it all the way to the end! (If you just scrolled down to the end, don’t worry: we appreciate you, too!) Please feel free to leave us your comments below, or if you have suggestions or requests for our site please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Next week will be our first Doggy Spotlight! You won’t want to miss it!