Be Prepared if Disaster Strikes

Blog: Prevent Disaster by Being Prepared

Nobody wants to think about the possibility of a natural disaster. But if we’ve learned anything from this past summer’s climate emergencies—extreme heat, fire, floods, earthquakes—we know that natural disasters are a reality that can’t be ignored. If you or a family member lives with a disability, disaster preparedness is especially critical. Disabled individuals are two to four times more likely as non-disabled individuals to die or be injured during a climate emergency.

September is Disaster Preparedness Month – the perfect time to create a plan to keep you and your family safe in an emergency. Here are some steps you can take in the event of a natural disaster to protect your loved ones.

1. Stay informed
Don’t let an impending disaster catch you by surprise. Keep on top of weather-related emergencies by downloading public safety apps such as Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs) or FEMA’s mobile app, or staying tuned to NOAA Weather Radio. Heed evacuation warnings and don’t wait until it’s too late to create an evacuation plan.

2. Create a disaster plan
Plan for a disaster before it happens and make sure that your plan is filed in a secure place where you can find it when needed. The plan should include a list of contacts that can be reached in case of an emergency. Consider giving a key to someone you trust. Think carefully about your daily needs: food, medication and supplies, and devise a system for getting these important items beforehand in the event of an upcoming emergency. Ensure that home fire alarm systems are working. Make sure you know how to access hospitals, urgent care centers and that emergency phone numbers are close by. If you drive, be certain that your car has a full tank of gas and is in working order and that it is outfitted with jumper cables, a spare tire, ice scraper and shovel. In the event that you must evacuate, have a plan for who will help you to leave your home and where you will go.

3. Compile an emergency kit
Your kit should include a three-day supply of non-perishable food and water for humans and pets; three-day supply of medications; three-day supply of clothing; batteries and flashlight; a first aid kit; toiletries; toilet paper, feminine hygiene products, diapers, baby formula and hand sanitizer; blankets; extra phone charger and battery; local maps, and copies of ID documents, health insurance cards, a list of all medications and doses, doctors’ phone numbers, and credit cards. If you have a medical alert bracelet or tag, make sure to wear it so you can get the help you need quickly. If your medicine needs refrigeration, have a cooler with chemical ice packs ready to go. Be sure to keep your kit in an easily accessed location and update supplies as needed.

4. Prepare for power outages
If you use medical devices or assistive technology devices that require electricity, investigate ways that you can keep your devices charged in the event of a power outage. According to, disabled individuals may be placed on a priority list with their energy provider. If it’s within your budget, consider investing in a generator.

5. Have back-up mobility aides
If you use a power wheelchair, keep a lightweight manual chair on hand in case you can’t take your power chair with you. Likewise, cane and walker users may want to have back-ups of these mobility aides as well.

6. Make your voice heard
One reason why people with disabilities are at greater risk for death or injury during disasters is because the people creating disaster plans may not be aware of their needs. Organizations such as the Disability Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction Network are working to ensure that disabled people have a seat at the table when it comes to creating disaster preparedness practice and protocols.

For additional guidance, visit

Employment Rate for Disabled is Highest on Record

Blog. Employment Rate for Disabled

New numbers from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics show that the employment rate for people with disabilities is the highest it has been since the BLS began keeping records in 2008.

This month, BLS announced that “the employment-to-population ratio for disabled individuals… now stands at a record high of 22.4%.”

While 22.4% is still woefully low compared to employment numbers for those who don’t identify as disabled, employment rates for people with disabilities have been climbing steadily since August 2021.

According to human resources experts, the reasons for the upswing are related to the tight labor market and even more significantly, the fact that remote work has been normalized since the pandemic.

In a recent interview with NBC, Allison Chase, president and CEO of the disability-focused organization The Able Trust, said the employment rate for people with disabilities is “continuing to grow—and moving up every month it seems like. It’s unprecedented, and we’re really excited about it.”

Chase told NBC that disabled employees and job seekers have long sought opportunities to work from home due to transportation challenges and the lack of accommodations in some workplaces. Yet, it’s only since the pandemic that employers have recognized the benefits of remote work. In fact, studies show that people who work from home are 5%-9% more productive than those who work in an office. Likewise, “remote work leads to improved work–life balance, preventing burnout and increasing productivity and retention,” according to Psychology Today.

In the past, some employers were reluctant to hire disabled individuals because they believed wrongly that disabled workers would require costly accommodations. Remote work has shown these employers that disabled employees who work from their homes require little to no special accommodations.

These realities plus the fact that most remote workers—disabled and non-disabled—don’t want to return to their offices means that remote work and higher employment rates for disabled workers might be here to stay! That’s fortunate, since a February 2023 report by the BLS stressed that disabled people are still far less likely to be employed than non-disabled people; that unemployment rates for disabled people are twice as high as for non-disabled people; and that 30% of disabled workers with jobs worked part-time while just 16% of non-disabled workers are part-time employees.

Pay disparity is another obstacle for disabled workers.  Disability Scoop reported today that “hundreds of organizations nationwide are still paying [disabled] workers as little as pennies per hour.”

How can this be legal? According to Disability Scoop, “under a law dating back to the 1930s, employers can obtain special certificates from the U.S. Department of Labor permitting them to pay workers with disabilities less than the federal minimum of $7.25 per hour.”

Though changes in federal laws and new subminimum wage bans in some parts of the U.S. have improved salaries for disabled workers, they still face enormous obstacles in achieving employment equity. Here’s hoping that progress continues at a rapid pace.

Get to Know Textile Artist Judith Scott

Blog: Get to Know Textile Artist Judith Scott

A new exhibition at Baltimore’s American Visionary Art Museum (AVAM) will celebrate the work of internationally known disabled fiber artist Judith Scott. Scott’s story, her prolific artmaking and her relationship with her fraternal twin sister Joyce are nothing short of remarkable.

Judith Scott and her fraternal twin sister Joyce were born on May 1, 1943, in Columbus, Ohio. At birth, Judith was diagnosed with Down syndrome. Soon after, a bout with scarlet fever caused Judith to lose her hearing, but her deafness was undiagnosed until age 30. She remained non-speaking throughout her life. Judith’s twin Joyce developed typically but the sisters were inseparable and they shared an idyllic early childhood with secret languages, games and nature exploration.

The twins’ happiness ended abruptly when the girls were seven years old and their parents institutionalized Judith. Judith was given scant information about why her sister was taken away and for the next 35+ years, she only saw Judith when accompanying her parents on visits to the institution. The separation was devastating for both twins and the conditions in the state institution where Judith was placed were horrific.

While her sister was captive and isolated, Joyce tried to distract herself. She moved to California, married, had children and pursued a career as a developmental specialist working with mothers and babies with disabilities, many of whom had Down syndrome like Judith.

When the twins were 43 years old, Joyce had a revelation that inspired her to become her sister’s legal guardian. After a tough legal fight, Joyce brought Judith home to live in her Berkeley, California, residence. There, Joyce did her best to help her traumatized sister recover and worked to rebuild their relationship.

Soon after the sisters were united, Joyce enrolled Judith in the Creative Growth Art Center, a studio for artists with disabilities. At first, Judith showed little interest in artistic pursuits. But when a visiting textile artist demonstrated how to use yarn and textiles to create art, Judith was enthralled.

“From then on, she was unstoppable,” recalls Joyce in her memoir “Entwined: Sisters and Secrets in the Silent World of Artist Judith Scott.”  “All day, five days a week, she created mysterious sculptures, building each from a core of discarded, rejected or misplaced objects that she tied together, bound, then wrapped and wove with threads. Each yarn was selected with an extraordinary sense of color, texture and design.”

It didn’t take long for Judith’s teachers and members of the art community to recognize her talent. Judith’s work has been shown in museums including the Brooklyn Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, the American Folk Art Museum and the American Visionary Art Museum. Her upcoming exhibition “The Secret Within: The Art of Judith Scott” will be on display at AVAM from July 2, 2023 through June 30, 2024. According to the museum’s website. The show will include “14 to 18 of Judith’s works spanning her lifetime as an artist at Creative Growth Center. These works consist of both her 3-D fiber art sculptures and earlier examples of her 2-D drawings and paintings. More than a retrospective, this exhibition offers insight into Scott’s process, the materials she used, and how her story is a shining example of the art of embracing life.”

In addition to Judith’s artwork, “The Secret Within” includes anecdotes from Joyce, and Tom di Maria, director of the Creative Growth Art Center. Additionally, the exhibition will examine issues of accessibility in the arts and provide resources that serve artists with developmental, intellectual, and physical disabilities.

For more information, visit

A Day at the Beach

Blog: A Day at the Beach

Now that Memorial Day weekend — the unofficial start of summer — has come and gone, most of us look forward to the many joys of the upcoming season.

A trip to the beach is one of the greatest pleasures that summer has to offer. Yet, beach trips can be stressful for individuals living with disabilities and their families. Fortunately, a variety of new products can minimize many of these stressors. We’ve searched the internet to find beach gear that makes a visit to the ocean great fun for everyone in the family!

1. Beach wheelchairs
Pushing a wheelchair through the sand is not easy. Likewise, using an electric wheelchair that isn’t designed for beach use may damage your chair. Fortunately, specially designed beach wheelchairs make navigating sandy terrain easy. Purchasing a chair is a big investment – the most basic chairs start at around $1,000 — so unless you plan to spend large amounts of time at the beach, renting or borrowing may be better options.  These days, more and more beaches loan or rent beach wheelchairs and some of them can even be used in the water! For a list of beaches in the United States that lend beach wheelchairs at no charge, visit Mobility Deck.

2. Adaptive Kayaks
Kayaking is within reach for individuals with mobility challenges with an adaptive kayak. Freedom Kayaks sells adaptive kayaks for about $3,000 a pop, but you may also find organizations that offer adaptive kayaks for rent or loan. Check out the Disabled Kayaking Enthusiasts Facebook group for info about all things disabled kayaking.

3. Switch Adapted Fan
It gets plenty hot on the beach, so you’ll want to take along Enabling Devices’ switch activated Harbor Breeze or Adapted Misting Fan to cool off. In addition, they provide sensory stimulation.

4. Beach bubbles
A day at the beach is even more fun with bubbles. Pack your beach bag with Enabling Devices’ Fubbles Fun-Finiti Bubble Machine.

5. Tent
Heat, glare, sunburn and overstimulation can all spoil a day at the beach. Bring along the Sensory Exploration Tent from Enabling Devices for shady time-outs.

6. Wheelchair/Scooter Umbrella
Another great antidote to sunburn and blazing temperatures is the wheelchair/scooter umbrella from Yobee and sold by Amazon. You can attach the umbrella to your wheelchair and adjust its height and position.

7. Adaptive Sandals
Zappos has a wide variety of adaptive shoes including adaptive sandals that will serve you well at the beach. Check out these sandals from Ugg.

8. Adaptive Swimwear
Young beachgoers with sensory integration challenges or other special needs will appreciate a tagless, seamless swimsuit with abdominal access openings, and hook and loop back closure such as this one from Kohl’s.

P.S. Water safety is paramount! Check out this blog post to learn more about staying safe near water.

COVID: Still an Emergency for Vulnerable Populations

Blog. COVID: Still an Emergency for Vulnerable Populations

On May 11, President Biden ended the COVID-19 public health emergency in the United States.

Though many were thrilled to see what they viewed as an official end to the pandemic, others reacted to the news with trepidation. Many of those who were fearful about the lifting of pandemic restrictions were people with disabilities, who are more likely to be immunocompromised and at risk for serious illness.

Meanwhile, disability activists were quick to point out that while COVID-19 cases are down, the pandemic is far from over.

In a statement released May 11, the American Association for People with Disabilities sought to remind members of the public that “more than 1,000 Americans continue to die per week, and a disproportionate number of those deaths are disabled, immunocompromised, and other high-risk people. The end of the Public Health Emergency continues to signal that the nation and our broader society have moved on and ignores millions who have been disabled by long COVID, millions more who could be impacted, and further pushes marginalized communities into greater crisis.”

So, what can people with disabilities do to protect themselves now that the public health emergency has ended?

1. Continue to wear a mask when out in public
Wearing a mask may garner stares or even comments from ignorant individuals, but protecting yourself is nobody else’s business. When it comes to choosing a mask, N-95s and KN-95s worn properly are the most effective in protecting against the virus. You should also feel comfortable about asking others, such as medical professionals, to wear a mask when in your presence.

 2. Get your boosters
According to the CDC, COVID-19 vaccines will be free until further notice. However, you may not hear as much in the media about getting boosters, so keep track of your own vaccine schedule to make sure you are up to date on vaccines that fight the newest COVID variants.

 3. Test when you are ill
Protect others by testing for COVID when you’re under the weather or if you have been exposed to someone else with the virus. You should also feel free to ask others to test before they visit your home or participate in small, indoor get-togethers. If they care for you, it’s a small sacrifice to make. Note that insurance companies will no longer be required to cover COVID-19 test kits. Therefore, you may need to pay a co-pay. If you are uninsured, you can obtain free test kits by visiting

4. Beware of how changes may affect Medicaid coverage and what to do about it.
Shortly after the pandemic began, Medicaid eligibility and enrollment were temporarily modified to ensure that people had continuous coverage to sustain them in case of illness. Now that the public health emergency has ended, people may need to reapply for Medicaid. Check out this information from the Administration for Community Living for more details.

5. Continue to make use of telehealth services
Many of us have enjoyed the availability of telehealth during the pandemic. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, most telehealth services will remain in place for Medicare and Medicaid recipients.

6. Reach out to your doctor
If you do contract COVID-19, consult with your physician. Just because the public health emergency has been lifted, there’s no reason to downplay the significance of the virus. If you are elderly, immunocompromised or more susceptible to COVID complications, you may qualify for an anti-viral medication such as Paxlovid. Don’t hesitate to use it to minimize the virus’ effects.

 7. Take precautions when traveling
Now that international travelers do not have to show proof of vaccination, travel may be less safe for people at high risk for complications of COVID. If you’re planning to travel anytime soon, consider asking your doctor if they recommend packing Paxlovid just in case you become ill while away. And wear a mask in the airport and before and after take-off.

Inclusivity: It’s in Fashion

Blog: Inclusivity: It’s in Fashion

British Vogue breaks new ground this month by creating five different covers for its May issue titled “Reframing Disability: Dynamic, Daring and Disabled.”

The covers feature photos of five noteworthy individuals with disabilities including model Ellie Goldstein who has Down syndrome (above); model, author and activist Aaron Rose Philip who has cerebral palsy; actor and disability advocate Selma Blair who has multiple sclerosis; American Sign Language interpreter and performer Justina Miles who is deaf; and Sinéad Burke, CEO of the accessibility consultancy Tilting the Lens and contributing editor for the May issue, who has dwarfism.

Inside the magazine are photos and editorial coverage about fascinating people in the disability community like Jessikah Inaba, the U.K.’s first Black and blind barrister; Rosaleen McDonagh, a writer and human rights commissioner with CP; and Musa Motho, a dancer who lost his leg due to bone cancer.

Overall, the issue features 19 individuals with disabilities.

Historically, the fashion industry has been notoriously homogeneous and fashion magazines have been widely criticized for their narrow definitions of beauty. Yet, in recent years, some fashion designers have begun to recognize that disabled people represent a huge segment of the population and clothing market. Designers such as Tommy Hilfiger, and brands like Target and Lands’ End now design adaptive clothing for individuals with disabilities. Likewise, fashion editors such as British Vogue’s Edward Enninful, are committed to championing diversity and inclusivity in the pages of their magazines.

As the first male editor-in-chief of British Vogue since its founding in 1916, Enninful has featured models of all sizes, races, gender identities and abilities in the publication. He is also known for turning away fashion advertisers that he deems not inclusive enough. In fact, Enninful went so far as to tell the Guardian, that “he was prepared to take a financial hit to support values of diversity and inclusivity in his magazine.”

In his 2022 memoir, “A Visible Man” (Penguin Publishing Book) Enninful revealed that he is visually and hearing impaired and lives with a blood disorder. As he told the BBC last month, “It was so important I could relate—I felt real pride that people can actually speak up about disabilities and not have to hide it and how it impacts them. I think this is one of the most incredible issues I’ve had the privilege of editing in my tenure.”

Editing the issue, and in particular, working with Sinead Burke also taught Enninful a great deal about the accessibility challenges faced by disabled people as they go about their lives, said the BBC article.

“Sinéad taught me that retail spaces are quite unfriendly to people with disabilities and that photographic studios are not designed to cater for them. She has really opened my eyes and taught me that a whole group of people are being ignored.”

Enninful believes that the more the public understands about the lives of disabled people, the more inclusive the fashion industry and society at large will become.

Photo of Ellie Goldstein for VOGUE  UK by Adama Jalloh


Dancing in a Garden of Dreams

Blog: Dancing in a Garden of Dreams

Avery Roberts, 15, has been dancing since she was 4. Her talent has led to performances with renowned dance troupes such as Alvin Ailey and at iconic venues like New York City Center and the Ziegfield Ballroom. She was even part of the ensemble for NBC-TV’s “Annie Live.”

On April 19, Avery, a resident of Rockland County, New York, who lives with congenital muscular dystrophy and uses a wheelchair, faces her greatest challenge yet. She will perform at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

Avery told writer Nancy Cutler of Lohud that many people underestimate the potential of people with disabilities. “There’s so many misconceptions about disabled people,” she said. “Disability doesn’t take away any talent … just give us a chance and let us show what we’ve got.”

The teen is one of 150 youngsters selected to participate in New York tri-state area nonprofit Garden of Dreams’ annual talent show. This year’s program is titled, “Dreams Take Flight: Watch Us Soar!”

Founded in 2006, Garden of Dreams “is committed to creating meaningful, unforgettable programs for children affiliated with our 30 local partner organizations,” including Children’s Aid, Children’s Village, Covenant House, Hospital for Special Surgery, Make a Wish, and Madison Square Garden Entertainment.

Young people chosen to participate in Garden of Dreams programs live with disabilities, chronic or critical illnesses, face financial hardship, sex trafficking or homelessness, or have experienced the loss or injury of a parent during military service.

Garden of Dreams has many well-known board members. According to Lohud, “the talent show’s creative director is Darryl “DMC” McDaniels of Run-DMC. Comedian Tracy Morgan, who was honored last year with the Foundation’s Hero Award, is also on the board.”

Morgan became involved with the organization after he sustained life-altering injuries from a bus crash in 2014. He and other board members as well as Rockettes, actors and other talented individuals, helped talent show participants prepare for their performances.

Avery was full of compliments and appreciation for the celebrities who helped her. “They are such nice people,” she told Lohud.

In her Lohud interview, Avery reiterated Morgan’s message to her just before her performance during a rehearsal: “We hear you; we see you, and we’re right there with you,” he told her.

Despite her love of dance, Avery isn’t certain whether she will make a career of it. Instead, she may pursue a career in public policy advocacy. In particular, Avery wants to see more research and better healthcare for individuals with rare diseases.

Photo credit: Mark Vergari for The Journal News

Shepherds College for IDD Students May Expand to Other States

Blog: Shepherds College

A traditional college experience may seem out of reach for many young people with intellectual disabilities. But the planned expansion of faith-based Shepherds College in Union Grove, Wisconsin, may put that dream within reach.

Established in 2008, Shepherds College serves 75 students enrolled in three-year programs in culinary arts, technology and horticulture. In addition to their programs of study, students at Shepherds learn skills of independent living such as caring for their on-campus dorm rooms and apartments, doing laundry and food shopping and preparation. Shepherds students can participate in a range of extracurricular activities including Special Olympics.

The school is accredited by the Atlanta-based Council on Occupational Education, and about 75% of students graduate. Tuition is a steep $62,600 for the 2023-2024 school year, but loans and need-based scholarships are available. After completing their studies, three out of four Shepherds students are employed in their chosen professions.

When the school first opened, there was talk of expanding to other states, but the idea didn’t receive serious consideration until Brian Canright, then director of recruiting for the college, wrote his master’s thesis, which described a hypothetical plan for expansion. When Canright completed his degree, his thesis became the basis for the expansion plan.

Tracy Terrill, President of Shepherds, told Disability Scoop that she feels a responsibility to make a Shepherds education available to students across the country. By providing the three-year course of study, “we’re changing the trajectory of their lives. It’s profound,” said Terrill.

Canright, who is now vice president of expansion for the college, believes Shepherds is so unique and the need for post-secondary education for high school graduates with IDD is so great, that expansion makes perfect sense.

Shepherd will initiate its recruitment campaign for new campuses in July when some of its staff members present the “Shepherds College Preview Experience,” at churches in Georgia and Texas.

One stop the staff will be making is at Westwood Church outside Atlanta. The church’s outreach director, Kevin Bloye, told Disability Scoop “he is certain that families will welcome Shepherds College to Georgia, and that many of them will jump at the chance to enroll their sons and daughters.”  Currently Westwood Church is building a $5 million facility that could become the future home of Shepherds’ Georgia campus.

Initially, the college will create temporary commuter colleges in other states. If they perceive that there is real interest in the colleges, they may choose to build residential campuses. School officials believe that making the Shepherds’ experience available to everyone who can benefit is a moral imperative.

“Dark Disabled Stories” Opens at NYC’s Public Theater

Blog: “Dark Disabled Stories” Opens at NYC’s Public Theater

A new autobiographical play by New York-based playwright and actor Ryan J. Haddad gives audiences a firsthand look at what it’s like to negotiate an environment that’s not designed for people with mobility challenges.

“Dark Disabled Stories” began previews at New York City’s Public Theater on Feb. 28. The play’s official opening will take place on March 9 – coinciding with both Developmental Disabilities Month and National Cerebral Palsy Month. (We don’t know if that is intentional, but it’s pretty cool)!

Directed by Jordan Fein and performed by Haddad, who has cerebral palsy and uses leg braces and a walker, “Dark Disabled Stories,” encompasses a series of vignettes that illustrate Haddad’s real-life experiences living in an inaccessible city.

Joining Haddad onstage is deaf actor Dickie Hearts who will provide sign language interpretation and wheelchair user Alejandra Ospina who will provide audio description.

“Dark Disabled Stories” is Haddad’s first off-Broadway play, but not his first foray into the entertainment industry. His first one-man show, Hi, Are You Single? was performed as part of The Public Theater’s Under the Radar Festival and he has also appeared in various regional theater productions. Haddad can also be seen on Netflix’ “The Politician”, in which he has a recurring role, and in shows such as “Madam Secretary” and “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.”

Despite his success in television, Haddad attributes his career to the fact that he has written roles for himself. As he told MetroWeekly back in 2022, “it’s no secret that the reason I have a career at all is because I wrote my way toward a career with this play and the subsequent plays that have yet to be produced but will be soon, and the stories that I keep telling. … the thesis of what I’m trying to say is that I am an actor, but 70 to 75 percent of the work I do on a daily basis or a monthly basis or a yearly basis is writing my way towards an acting opportunity that I have created for myself.”

Haddad says that’s the case because the entertainment industry still provides few opportunities for actors with disabilities.

While Haddad acknowledges that the entertainment industry is making progress toward the inclusion of disabled actors, he says “we’re not there yet. We haven’t arrived at the moment of, ‘No, no, we will not cast a non-disabled person in a disabled role.’ It’s still accepted in many instances.”

For the duration of “Dark Disabled Stories’” run, The Public Theater has taken steps to make the theater and production more accessible to disabled audiences. Not only does the show include ASL interpretation, open captions and audio description, the theater has also added extra wheelchair seating to ensure that all audience members can be comfortably situated. Additionally, The Public is relaxing its usual audience etiquette so that individuals “can be free to be themselves” during performances. Finally, deaf and disabled individuals can access discounted tickets to performances with a code available on The Public’s website.

For more information, visit

Love is in the Air!


Happy Valentine’s Day! Today is the perfect day to remember that all human beings desire love and intimacy. Sadly, common misconceptions, stereotypes and ignorance can make dating more challenging for individuals with disabilities.

According to Dr. Danielle Sheypuk, a dating expert and disability activist specializing in dating for people with disabilities, “The biggest stigmas are that we’re still seen as asexual and not beautiful. Our bodies are different than what people see on a daily basis, [so] it’s unknown territory for them. In the media, we’re never portrayed as sexual people. We’re never associated with anything sexual or glamorous or beautiful. Therefore, people don’t in general make that association.”

Stigmas about disabled people are reinforced by the fact that there is so little awareness and exposure to the experiences of disabled people. This is the case despite the fact that approximately 25% of Americans have some sort of disability.

Since non-disabled people have so little knowledge about what it’s like to live with a disability, they may shy away from pursuing a disabled partner, says Sheypuk.

Like so many singles in today’s world, singles with disabilities frequently utilize dating apps to find love. But unlike their non-disabled counterparts, dating app users with disabilities face additional challenges. First and foremost, many struggle with the decision about whether to disclose their disability in their dating profiles. Some disabled dating app users report that disclosing their disability up front means that fewer prospective matches show interest. But not disclosing disability up front may result in rejection later on, which can be even more disappointing.

So, what’s the best course of action?

In a Q&A on,  Sheypuk says it’s best to make your disability known right from the start.

“I think [disclosure of your disability] needs to be written on your profile and there needs to be pictures that show you have a disability,” says Sheypuk, whose personal story can be found at

“It avoids a lot of rejection and a lot of heartache, I feel. The opposite side of the argument is: Don’t put it there and let them get to know you. They’ll see you for who you are. [Then], you’ll reveal you have a disability, and they won’t care. That is most likely not going to happen. Yes, they might get to know you and really have feelings for you, but when you reveal you have a disability, they could feel lied to. It’s just like people being dishonest with their age, weight or marital status. It’s just good to put who you are right up front.”

While there’s no reason why disabled people should limit themselves to dating others with disabilities, dating sites geared to disabled singles eliminate the disclosure dilemma and may reduce some of the stress associated with online dating.

Here are some of the most reputable ones.

1. Whispers for You is one of the longest running dating sites for disabled singles. In 2016, the site was nominated for best niche dating site in the industry’s iDate awards ceremony. According to its website, Whispers for You enrolls hundreds of new members every week. Typical site users are people with disabilities such as cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, spina bifida, amputations and those with intellectual disabilities.  The site is open to individuals of all abilities.

2. Founded by sisters Alexa and Jacqueline Child, Dateability is a brand-new dating app for people with disabilities. The sisters founded the platform after becoming frustrated with traditional dating apps. As Jacqueline told Channel 7 in Denver, “I had a lot of ableist experiences with people telling me that I shouldn’t have children in case my conditions were hereditary and people’s families not accepting me because of my health conditions,” said Jacqueline Child. Adds Alexa, “Dating apps have been around for over a decade now, and they’ve had their time. They’ve had the opportunity to be more inclusive of the disability and chronically ill communities, and they haven’t.”

3. has been around since 2005.  The site bills itself as an “online community where people with disabilities can meet, connect and date other people with disabilities.” The site includes blogs, chats and forums, and it’s free to register.

4. My Special was started by the parents of a young woman with a brain injury that resulted in physical and intellectual disabilities. After she graduated from high school, Amanda had difficulty meeting friends and potential partners. Her parents founded the dating site to help their daughter and others in similar situations find a safe and comfortable place to meet each other.

5. Special is a family owned and operated community for individuals with mental and physical disabilities. Whether you’re seeking friendships or romance, Special Bridge provides opportunities for forming relationships at your own pace. As its website explains, “meeting new people face-to-face can be intimidating for some people, [so] Special Bridge allows for online connections that can be made through the site’s messaging system.” The messaging system makes it simpler for individuals who have trouble expressing themselves verbally to communicate with others. “The beauty of Special Bridge is that technology helps to even the playing field, allowing users to feel less self-conscious about their ability levels.”

Happy Valentine’s Day to all!

Game On!

Blog: Game On!

©2023 Sony Interactive Entertainment

Listen up all you gamers! PlayStation’s new adaptive controller will soon be here!

Recently, we reported on the many reasons why gaming is awesome. For example, gaming helps players to build cognitive and educational skills; provides opportunities for social interaction; offers multisensory stimulation and much more.

In recent years, gaming has become increasingly accessible for individuals with mobility challenges. Earlier this month, PlayStation announced that Project Leonardo, a highly customizable accessible controller kit designed for physically disabled players, is finally in the works. Following its release, the kit will be compatible with PlayStation 5.

According to the PlayStation blog, the new kit is “designed to remove barriers to gaming and help players with disabilities play more easily, more comfortably and for longer periods on PS5.”

To be fair, accessibility isn’t an entirely new concept for PlayStation. Many of the company’s games including mega favorites “God of War Ragnarök” and “The Last of Us Part I,” offer lots of accessibility features. But until now, PlayStation’s hardware wasn’t nearly as accommodating for users with mobility challenges. In fact, Microsoft Xbox was way ahead of its competitor, offering an adaptive controller since 2018.

To ensure that Project Leonardo was truly accessible, PlayStation consulted with accessibility experts, community members, and game developers including AbleGamersSpecialEffect and Stack Up. The result is a controller that enables players with mobility challenges to create an individualized and enjoyable gaming experience.

Project Leonardo’s unique split design is an important difference when it comes to making the controller accessible. As Sony Interactive Entertainment designer So Morimoto told Wired magazine, “Our team tested over a dozen designs with accessibility experts, looking for approaches that would help address key challenges to effective controller use. We finally settled on a split controller design that allows near freeform left/right thumbstick repositioning, can be used without needing to be held, and features very flexible button and stick cap swapping. Because players can customize it according to their needs, there is no one ‘right’ form factor. We want to empower them to create their own configurations.”

Another benefit to Project Leonardo’s design is that it can be used with a “variety of external switches and third-party accessibility accessories.”

In other words, it’s highly likely that the wide range of switches and mounts made by Enabling Devices will be compatible with Project Leonardo.

So far, there’s no release date or price point listed for Project Leonardo. Stay tuned for more details!

Bionic Leg Sleeve May Help Tens of Millions

Blog: Bionic Leg Sleeve

The Cionic Neural Sleeve by Cionic

Thirty-five million Americans with mobility challenges such as cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, stroke and spinal cord injuries could soon benefit from an invention called the Cionic Neural Sleeve. The sleeve, designed to be worn on the leg, is sometimes referred to as “bionic clothing.”

Developed by Jeremiah Robison, founder and CEO of the San Francisco startup company Cionic, and the father of a girl with CP, the neural sleeve makes it easier for individuals with gait impairments to walk more fluidly and more securely.

Robison, who had worked in the technology sector for many years, was inspired to invent the sleeve to help his daughter Sofia. As he told Carolyn Said of the San Francisco Chronicle, “I had enough knowledge and a huge motivation to say, ‘Since nothing is available for my daughter, if not me, who? If not now, when?’”

The leg sleeve is “embedded with sensors, that [monitor the wearer’s] movements, and electrodes that stimulate [the wearer’s] muscles to activate as needed,” writes Said.

It is sold with a small rechargeable battery-operated device that fits inside a pocket built into the sleeve.

“That device communicates with an app on the wearer’s smartphone that allows the user to customize stimulation settings and offers exercises to help increase strength and reinforce motor learning.”

One of the advantages of the neural sleeve is that it can be used by people with a range of motor impairments. The sleeve works on the shin, calf, hamstring or quad. Remote training and “fine tuning” are offered by Cionic’s mobility specialists.

In addition to the physical benefits provided by the neural sleeve, it also provides emotional advantages. Says the inventor’s 13-year-old daughter Sofia Robison, who walks with the sleeve: “For me, just being the one left behind (because she’s slower than friends) can be mentally really difficult. Helping people not be the one left behind can be really important. ”

The neural sleeve is expected to be released to the public in early 2023 and Cionic has already received FDA approval and state licensing. At first, it will only be available for adult use. Following its release, the sleeve will be sold at the introductory price of $200 per month. After a year, the sleeve becomes the property of the buyer. Since it is so new, Robison says that insurers are unlikely to provide coverage in the near future.

People interested in receiving a Cionic Neural Sleeve can add their names to the waitlist on Cionic’s website at