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I like Americana's Tall Tales.  (some colleagues say they see a resemblance to my nonfiction but I think they understate the case.)

Several weeks ago I was able to listen to a series of audiobooks. Here at home we listened to Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer, some stories about Paul Bunyan , Pecos Bill and others. Since then I have also been listening to an entertaining series where a Private Investigator (Bernie) and his partner (a dog named Chet) have a unique almost "bromance" partnership. We just finished laughing through the novel, To Fetch A Thief (To Fetch a Thief: A Chet and Bernie Mystery (The Chet and Bernie Mystery Series) July 2011

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VP Lenin Moreno of Ecuador is right. Laughter is good for us as we heal. ( It is encouraging to me to see a man of Lenin's stature strongly promoting Inclusive Tourism within his Ecuadoran cultures.

There is an opportunity to win a free dinner for the next person who properly asks the question, "Is there something wrong with you?"

Points will be given on technique like timing, intonation, stance and articulation. Mostly judging will be based on intention. The winning contestant will not intend the question to mean, "Why are you in a wheelchair?" 

It was my first time riding with this driver who works for Silicon Valley's paratransit system. So I was surprised when she answered my question with a question. She asked: "Is there something wrong with you?" It was déjà vu all over again. Expecting to have overlooked the shoulder harness I waited for her answer to my question. 

I was pretty certain I was not suddenly suffering from auditory hallucinations when the friend who was with me, Laurent, came to my rescue and settled my doubts. He spoke to the driver and pretty soon I had a shoulder harness around me - and I was satisfied that I had not wandered into an auditory wonderland. Laurent and I had a great conversation all the rest of the trip.

Returning home a week later without a friend as companion my driver was also unknown to me. Judging from his accent and nametag I assumed that we could creatively work our way through any discussion of shoulder straps provided that we stuck to English or a couple of the Romance languages I guessed he spoke. Soon I was safely strapped in.

As we discussed our experiences living in different sections of Silicon Valley over6the past decade I noticed that his GPS had my address wrong. I asked if he wanted to use me as his map for the last quarter mile (with some transportation services that sort of cheekiness can get you in trouble back at Dispacth. ) Fortunately we made it to my house without intervention from his home office.

I realized as we got out how easy it is to miscommunicate. If he had followed orders he would have end up where the last new driver had sat waiting for me in front of the wrong house.

Thanks Alberto for taking a chance on me and not asking, "Is there something wrong with you?"

 Say Alberto, "What are you doing for dinner?


Lucila Guerrero



Artiste montréalaise d'origine péruvienne, Lucila est autiste Asperger. Après avoir travaillé durant 15 ans dans le domaine de l'informatique, elle se découvre, en 2004, une passion pour la photographie et elle se tourne vers l'art pour s'exprimer.

Lucila possède un regard unique sur les petites choses qui parsèment notre monde. À travers la fusion de ses passions - la photo, le graphisme et la peinture numérique - elle nous fait découvrir la beauté des détails qui la fascinent et l'inspirent : les jeux d'ombre, les reflets de la lumière sur l'eau, la vie minuscule, la couleur et les formes dans la nature. Par ses œuvres, elle interroge nos perceptions et nous amène à « voir autrement » ce qui nous entoure.

Mère d'un enfant autiste et auteure du livre « Lundi je vais être Luka », elle est aussi co-fondatrice de l'Aut'Créatifs, un mouvement pour la valorisation de l'autisme chez les personnes adultes. Pour en savoir plus: ou

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Image via Wikipedia

Part of the joy of traveling as a person with a disability is to give real people in far off places a chance to interact with - and be surprised by - real, normal disabled people like us.

Part of the frustration is encountering persistent stereotypes.

The question could be asked, "Who perpetuates these stereotypes?" At least to some degree it may be writers and actors who are not disabled and yet portray our "reality" with all the authority of mass media.

Certainly you do not need to be [fill-in-the-blank] to write about or play a [fill-in-the-blank] but in a world where PwD have never has access to the power of media were do role models come from?

  • The U.N. estimates that there are 650 million people in the world living with a disability; the US Census says there are 56 million Americans with disabilities. They remain virtually invisible in media.
  • 20% of Americans between the ages of 5 and 64 are living with a disability. They are represented by less than 2% of characters on television.
  • Only one-half of one percent of words spoken on television are spoken by a person with a disability.
  • In film and television 56% of background performers with disabilities earn less than $1000 each year.
  • Despite the ADA regulations and the Producer/Union policies of non-discrimination and harassment, over one-third of PWDs felt they had encountered some form of discrimination in the workplace--not being cast for a role or being refused an audition because of their disability.
  • Over one-third of PWDs report that a reasonable accommodation would help them in their work, but nearly two-thirds never asked for an accommodation because they believed employers would be reluctant to hire them. Many performers are unwilling to be candid about their disability for fear of being viewed as an object of pity and incapable of doing the job.
  • While there are several national journalists associations addressing the needs and interests of journalists of color and those in the LGBT community, there remains a void for journalists with disabilities....even within these existing associations.
  • In 1997, the UK's Broadcasters' Disability Network (BDN) brought together major broadcasters to explore and address disability issues of recruitment and retainment at media outlets. They subsequently produced the "Disability Manifesto 2002" published by these major broadcast entities, with public commitments made by their Chief Executives. In the US, no such initiative of this kind has taken place.

*The findings above are taken from the Screen Actors Guild Employment of Performers with Disabilities in the Entertainment Industry research study by Olivia Raynor, Ph.D. and Katharine Hayward, Ph.D., M.P.H. from the National Arts and Disability Center at the University of California, Los Angeles, in May, 2005, and from the Broadcasters' Disability Network, Manifesto 2002.



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Some individuals provide leadership in the area of Inclusive Tourism or Inclusive Destination Development by creating policies and products that adhere to the principles of Universal Design.

Others are recognized for their academic or political contributions.

Still others fill the essential role of being avid consumers - and educating the disability community through trip reports and advice.

Gene (Geno) Rogers
shares his hard-won travel gear advice in the article My Ideal Wheelchair:

After traveling in 40 countries on 6 continents, and engaging in extreme sports ranging from skydiving to scuba diving, from paragliding to trekking in the mountains, from  cliff climbing to sailing, I have designed the ideal manual wheelchair system.

I say system because it includes the chair and "must have" modifications and accessories.

Continued here

Gene also writes here:

Adventure Sports

Scuba Diving

Travel Photo Gallery

Challenge Trek

Demonstrating the Marvel M1 with a Porche GT: Marvel online:

Phone: 416-535-7376 Current Address: 7 Fraser Ave, Unit 2 Toronto, ON M6K 1Y6

When I was growing up as an undergraduate at the University of Washington Rick Steves was a piano teacher and also showing the world how to travel Europe on "$5 a day."

Today he is continues "making mistakes, taking notes, and learning from them." He is still preaching the timely message, "Travel should bring us together." Here he reflects on his philosophy.

Modeling inclusion in travel before it had caught on Rick wrote Easy Access Europe with Ken Plattner in 2004.
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On his site you can also see such disability movement luminaries as Susan Sygall, founder of MIUSA, adding her wisdom in the essay Resources for Disabled Travelers

Ari Seirlis: Former National Director of the QuadPara Association of South Africa/ Parliamentary Candidate for the Independent Democrats



Loved by some, feared by others, appreciated by many, Ari Seirlis is a stalwart of the disability community of South Africa and a thorn in the side of those who disregard the rights of people with disabilities.


A dynamic man and tireless worker with strong passions and a penchant for publicity, Ari has recently resigned from his six-year tenure as National Director of the QuadPara Association of South Africa (QASA) in order to pursue a political career with the Independent Democrats. As number three on the minority party's national list, he hopes that South Africa's general elections on 22 April will sweep him into a seat in Parliament.


With a background in business and many years of experience under his belt, Ari is far from being your average guy in a wheelchair. Renowned for his bold statements and even more audacious public campaigns and protests, he is arguably South Africa's most well-known - and notorious - personality in the disability community.


From his office in Durban, Ari gives us a glimpse of what lies beyond.


You're spent the last six years lobbying, criticising, and cajoling politicians about disability issues. Now you're joining them. What do you think you'll achieve from within Parliament that you couldn't achieve from the outside?

I would like to establish relationships and partnerships with people who are representing disability in the ruling party, which will almost certainly be the ANC, and in other political parties. Through these relationships I will try to influence both strategy and implementation and encourage performance.


I do think that over the last few years the government has had no pressure from an opposition party to do very much at all for people with disabilities. In fact, apart from the ANC, there are no members with disabilities in the minority parties! Furthermore, people who represent disabilities in the ANC are in a very difficult position to challenge their own party and ministries on the delivery of services and rights.


It will surely take some time to understand the avenues and the various committee functions and the way things are done in Parliament, but I'm convinced this is the way I can get even more done for the people with disabilities of South Africa. 


How much clout will you have as a member of a minority party? How will you approach your job as an MP, assuming all goes well on election day?

That is something which has to be tested. I do believe that the Independent Democrats leader Patricia de Lille has a lot of respect in the political arena, more than any other leader of any other political party. She is known to be a woman of courage and conviction.


My approach will be to try and establish as many relationships and partnerships as possible. On my own, I would be helpless. I'll be "selling" disability issues and the benefit of them as well as challenging other political parties on their stand.


I also want to test the value and strength of the Equality Court on a number of issues.


What are your priorities? What advances would you like to see in the field of disability rights in the next few years?

One major issue for people with disabilities is accessible transport, so that will be one of my first priorities. I will be closely monitoring the progress of the bus rapid transit programme, which is gradually being implemented - it must be made accessible to all.


Apart from accessible transport, I will be focusing on national building regulations and pushing for some major changes to reflect universal design policies.


Education, too: I would like to see the integrated schooling programme work so that children with disabilities can receive the same education as ordinary South Africans and be integrated in the same environment.


And, of course, money. The disability grant given to quadriplegic and paraplegic people in South Africa is disgracefully low and the way in which it is distributed is in desperate need of refining.


And there are so many other issues of which I still need to understand and prioritize.


Let's talk about your achievements so far. What are you most proud of?

I am very proud of the fact that we, at QASA, have invested so much effort in prevention. We don't only support people who are already disabled, we try to prevent the accidents which lead to severe disability. One of our most high-profile campaign slogans is: "Buckle Up: We Don't Want New Members" - a catchy slogan that most people in South Africa have now heard. We also released a series of TV advertisements highlighting the dangers of diving into the sea as a cause of spinal cord injury. They stick in the mind....


Rolling Inspiration, our in-house magazine, is another one of our most ambitious and successful projects. It is the only disability lifestyle magazine in South Africa and contains a host of useful and fun information. The magazine will soon be relocating all of its travel tips and sports articles to a public file on the website, so that travellers with disabilities from all over the world can access them.


Our BAGS OF HOPE project involves giving everyone who leaves hospital with paraplegia or quadriplegia a kind of "goody bag", with information, advice, a few free goodies. A survey form in the same bag allows us to understand our membership as it grows, and ensures that we have the most comprehensive database in the country of people with spinal cord injuries.


We also support our members in their bid to find gainful employment. I am very proud of the fact that we will be opening our own Pick 'n Pay Family store this year, which will be run by a quadriplegic who has just completed 2 years at the Pick n Pay College.

We have developed two Computer Digital Villages, a Call Centre, Mobile Telephone businesses for our members, completed 3 learnerships for our members and probably most significant, we own our own rehabilitation Centre in Port Elizabeth.  Many of these ventures are run by QASA members. This will help to sustain QASA for many years and allow the organisation to offer more and more valuable support to members in the field of employment. For example, we now offer IT training courses and have just supported eight of our members in their bid to start phone operator businesses with Vodacom. 


How has your diploma in marketing and your business experience helped your work at QASA?

Certainly, having a marketing background has been very good for QASA. The brand is prominent, the organisation is well known, and people now understand and acknowledge the acronym. Having some business experience has definitely influenced the strategy that I took regarding the sustainability of the organisation.

There is no reason why a charity has to remain on their hands and knees begging for handouts, I looked at a business model and it has worked for us.


This has also been acknowledged by the corporate sector who support us. Vodacom, Pick 'n Pay, Coloplast, Alexander Forbes, SAB and many others have supported our projects over the years.


You often go beyond simple campaigns and projects, though. At a recent protest outside the office of the Institute of Architects, you and your fellow demonstrators burnt wheelchair tyres in protest against the office's lack of accessibility. Why do you choose to use such militant tactics?

These type of tactics are not uncommon in our country. They attract the attention of the media, they show that we are resilient and serious about what we mean and say, and at the end of the day we generally get results.


It is a long time since people with disabilities have taken to the streets in anger about a dispute that is transgressing human rights. Often, people with disabilities are just sidelined. In this case, we registered the protest before going ahead, we advised the media, we chose specifically to burn wheelchair tyres, and we delivered a memorandum to the President of the Institute.  It worked!


Do your attention-grabbing tactics work? Do you get the attention you deserve?

 Of course the tactics worked. Architects in particular can either be our greatest ally or our worst enemy. In this particular case, the fact that their offices were inaccessible - steps up to the entrance, no wheelchair accessible toilet - was an absolute insult, and furthermore made a joke of their integrity. I don't think they ever believed that we would come to protest en masse to their offices.


Our trump card was not in fact the protest on the day, but the fact that we wrote to the International Union of Architects, requesting them to consider taking away the world conference from Durban in 2014 unless they made to the premises accessible. This particular correspondence was very effective.


You're renowned for being a man of action, always working, always on the go. What drives you? Has your work changed you?

I have often thought about this, I am probably a little bit obsessive about my work, and I wish I could slow down a little bit. I am driven by the fact that people with disabilities have got a bad deal here in South Africa. I am one of the lucky ones, who got a good education, and have the capacity to make a difference.


Certainly, after my accident, my life has taken a new turn. I have got to understand the value of human development over and above anything else.


What do you do to wind down?

 I enjoy a little bit of reading, I do a lot of thinking whilst fly-fishing, I have a lot of fun in the bush riding my quad bike, I get a lot of exercise using my hand-cycle, and I generally do a lot of laughing around the braai [barbecue].


What advice would you give people with disabilities in South Africa?

 Fight for your rights: they exist, we just need to ensure that we live them. Let us use all the legislation we have to ensure that our lives benefit from this.


And in conclusion... Anything else you would like to tell the world about?

I am very proud about the fact that disability is on the agenda in this country. Thank you to those who made sure of this. I am committed to developing relationships, to listening well, to responding even better, to working hard, negotiating, consulting........ all in the interests of improving the lives of persons with disabilities in South Africa.


This interview was done by travel writer Monica Guy


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