I knew from experience I could help my brother with the logistics of living in a wheelchair, like learning how to navigate cracks in the sidewalk while pushing his chair and what the best course of action is when your wheelchair gets stuck in snow, but I wanted to go deeper. How could I help him? And could I help other people with disabilities as well? As I continued to ponder these thoughts and questions over the next semester or so, one thought stuck in my head. My brother, myself, and anyone else with a disability could adjust and deal with their circumstances most easily, it seemed to me, if the disability was not a factor to the people around them.
It has become my life's work to use my knowledge and communication skills to encourage, educate, and empower people to respectfully break down barriers between those with disabilities and those without disabilities.
My brother now lives in the Northwest. His wife, four kids, and his consulting business keep him incredibly busy. Although time doesn't permit it these days, he used to play wheelchair tennis and participate in wheelchair races. He hasn't ever let anything slow him down.
The biggest thing his accident taught me is that disability has an open enrollment policy. Anybody is a diving accident or a slip on the ice away from their lives being changed forever. Disabling conditions also tend to get more prevalent as people go through the aging process. Therefore, the issues that are so important to me in terms of respecting and including people with disabilities could potentially impact everyone.
Even if you are not affected by disability directly, you might still see its effects around you. Maybe a family member, friend, or coworker has had a stroke, developed a chronic illness or been in an accident. Or maybe you just want to know more. Whatever the reason for reading this book, I hope to share some tools and skills that will help you on your journey.
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