Letters: March 2014

Right Woman, Right Time
Sometimes you know when you first meet someone that they belong on the front cover of a magazine like NEW MOBILITY. Congratulations to Person of the Year Deborah Davis.

Somewhere over the last 10-plus years, Deb began showing up more and more actively in the networks of advocates for inclusion in travel, media representation of people with disabilities, and inclusive fashion. Weaving the insights of Australia’s Bill Forrester with her own, Deborah succeeded in making Travability.travel become known not only for its quality tours, but also as a thought leader coaxing the travel industry to look at those of us with disabilities as customers. It seemed that whenever I turned around, their PUSHLiving Enterprises was taking an idea whose time had come and shaping it into a business. Deborah was not just telling the industry how to do it, but rolling up her sleeves and making it happen. PhotoAbility.net is still where I direct media buyers who need photos of people with disabilities. And someday I hope to score a good swap of my accessible home in Silicon Valley for somebody else’s halfway around the world with TravAbilityproperties.com.

Thanks, NM, for recognizing the work of Deb Davis.
Scott Rains
International Disability and Development Consultant
San Jose, California

Caring Chairskaters
My son Kumaka was touched greatly by Christiaan “Otter” Bailey and Aaron “Wheelz” Fotheringham [“WCMX … “ (Chairskating), January 2014]. Kumaka is 7 years old now and very active because of these two athletes. Kumaka has spina bifida, and two years ago needed bilateral hip surgery. That surgery lasted 12 hours, requiring a blood transfusion and a spica cast. While in recovery, we contacted “Wheelz,” asking him to take a picture of himself in a green shirt for a collage we wanted to make for Kumaka to lift his spirits. “Wheelz” did one better and drove to our house and hung out with Kumaka. It was amazing.

Six weeks later, after the cast was removed, Kumaka broke his femur in half, requiring six more weeks of the hated spica cast. He had to have a lot of therapy, months and months. One day, “Otter” came over with a lighter WCMX chair for Kumaka. He wanted him to have the ability to be more independent, to play with the other kids, and to try a new sport.  Now he goes to the skate park at least once a week. He loves going fast and is continually learning new tricks. He is very independent, and when he falls, he says, “I’m OK,” and gets back up.
We are so grateful to these two leading athletes and their impact on the youth. They aren’t into themselves … they truly care about the younger generation.
Tracy Jensen
Fountain Valley, California

Remembering Jeff Shannon
I was fortunate to know Jeff for over 20 years, as we “enjoyed” the impacts of similar disabilities and the challenges of the early stages of our freelance writing careers. I probably had the greatest benefit of that friendship, as he had a nine-year head start on being disabled that allowed me to learn some valuable lessons without having to experience them in person. Hopefully, the Seattle Times or another major publication will donate the space to memorialize his writing for them, by printing some of his best work and some examples of the insights he was able to provide for the benefit of all of us. Godspeed Jeff Shannon.
Mike Collins
Redmond, Washington

Therapeutic Writing
I am a 51-year old woman who was involved in an accident almost 10 years ago that required an above the knee amputation and resorting to living on SSDI. I also have depression. Three years ago I took a therapeutic writing class and found it to be the best therapy ever. I have been writing daily, and several of my poems were accepted for publication in literary journals this past year. I also have some short works of prose about life with a disability.

I feel my purpose in life is to advocate for the disabled and other minorities, as we are all supposed to be equal, yet discrimination is quite prevalent.
Debbie Johnson

Editor: The following comments are in response to a story posted Feb. 3 on newmobility.com: “Wheelchair User Refused Service, Blocks Bus.”

Bus Driver at Fault
The bus driver has the authority to request that passengers relinquish seats designated for wheelchair riders. He should be suspended and the wheelchair rider commended for his act of civil disobedience. Why in this day and age people have to fight for their rights — be it a person who is disabled, a person of color, etc. — is beyond me. We’ve supposedly come so far, but stories like this make me realize we haven’t come nearly far enough.
Tiffani Nichole Johnson

Late to Bus: On or Off?
We have been refused bus service in Baltimore on occasion. Once a driver told us she was running late. When we objected to her refusal to let Mike board, the driver actually turned to ask passengers if she should let us on. To the credit of the passengers, they insisted that Mike be allowed on the bus. Completely unnecessary!
Donna Dell

New Mobility Turns 25! Let’s Celebrate!
In case you missed our February announcement, 2014 is the 25th anniversary of New Mobility, and starting with our April issue, you will notice some changes in magazine content as well as a fun interactive poll that you can participate in.

Since its inception, NM has been known for its classy, humorous, cutting edge (and sometime provocative) covers. Starting next month, and continuing through October, readers will be given a choice of three or four covers from a different era of the magazine’s history, starting with the seminal years of publication, 1989-1992, and continuing through to the present. You will be able to vote on your favorite cover from each era, the winners will become our seven finalists, and in November readers will choose their favorite cover. The winner will be announced in our special 25th anniversary edition of NM, the December 2014 issue.

From April through October, we will also highlight, along with our regular features, a special Legacy section that will reprise a story or topic that sheds light on the history and growth of disability culture.

The magazine will also grow in size with the addition of a new section dedicated to the National Spinal Cord Injury Association, edited by Ian Ruder, formerly editor of NM’s sister publication, Life in Action. Important chapter content from NSCIA will be integrated into New Mobility, and circulation and readership will grow accordingly.

We want all of our readers to feel a sense of belonging and ownership in the culture of New Mobility. If you have a story about how NM impacted your life at some point in your personal history, be sure and check this space for further information on how you may become a contributor to our 25th anniversary edition in December.

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