Words I Wheel By

December 12, 2014
by Emily Ladau

2014 Holiday Gift Guide: Supporting the Disability Community

2014 Holiday Gift Guide: Disability Edition - Words I Wheel By

If there’s one thing I can’t resist, it’s finding a way to combine my passions. Luckily, the holiday season allows me to do just that, because what better way to bring together disability and the spirit of giving than to feature gift ideas from members of the disability community and entrepreneurs who have disabilities? I’m so excited to share this disability holiday gift guide with you, and I hope it helps you find some perfect presents for your loved ones this year while showing your support for some talented members of the disability community!

  • Little Free Radical – I could get lost in scrolling through the adorable products that Crystal sells in her Etsy shop. She creates everything from party supplies to sweet stuffed animals, all in gorgeous, vibrant colors. Right now, I’m loving her collection of eco-friendly stuffed toys (pictured below). Aren’t the elephants just the cutest things you’ve ever seen?! I want one in every single color and pattern available! Plus, as an added bonus, Crystal is offering a discount code exclusively for Words I Wheel By readers! Just enter “WORDSIWHEELBY” while completing your order for 10% off! The code is valid until December 31st.

Little Free Radical Eco-Friendly Stuffed Toys

  • Minou Bazaar – I’m a huge jewelry lover, so I absolutely had to include Meenoo’s amazing Indian inspired pieces on this list. To be totally honest, I stare longingly every single time I see a picture of her jewelry posted on Facebook. Right now, I’m practically falling all over myself for her blue peacock earrings (pictured below). They’re stunning and unique, and I’m pretty sure there’s something in every color of the rainbow. So, if you love jewelry as much as I do, or know someone who does, check out Meenoo’s Etsy shop. You can even get 15% off by entering the code “HOLIDAY” while checking out!

Minou Bazaar Blue Peacock Earrings

  • myXpression – This Etsy shop has a little something for everyone. Looking for a gift for a furry friend? Check out Adriana’s adorable leashes and collars. Or, if you or someone you know is a wheelchair user, this could also be the perfect shop. Adriana makes wheelchair headrest and seat cushion covers. I think this is awesome, because I personally don’t like how my headrest looks when I attach it to my wheelchair. These covers are the perfect solution! You can use the code “TENOFF14″ during checkout for 10% off your purchase.

My xPressions wheelchair headrest cover

  • AbleGamers – If you know a video game lover, you can buy them a really cool gift while supporting a non-profit that, according to their website, “aims to improve the overall quality of life for those with disabilities through the power of video games.” They offer two shirts right now, and both of them are awesome.

AbleGamers Shirt

  • 3ELove – It’s no secret that I’m a fan of 3ELove, so I absolutely wanted to include it on this list! I’m a big supporter of their message, especially the International Day of Acceptance, and I had the pleasure of meeting Stevie, the founder, during last year’s New York Metro Abilities Expo. I own a shirt and pajama pants with the 3ELove logo, but I’m currently loving their jewelry. I can’t get over how wonderful the logo necklace is, and I’m sure adding just one more piece of jewelry to my collection wouldn’t hurt…right?

3ELove logo necklace

  • Baba Ali and the Clockwork Djinn: A Steampunk Faerie Tale – If you’ve got a book-lover on your list, why not check out a book by a disabled author? I’m recommending this one because it’s co-authored Danielle Ackley-McPhail and by one of my mentors and favorite people, Day Al-Mohamed. There are tons of fantastic books out there by disabled authors, so definitely keep that in mind while searching for something new for the reader in your life.

Baba Ali and the Clockwork Djinn: A Steampunk Faerie Tale (Dark Quest Books)

What would you pick from this gift guide? What’s on your gift list this year? Are you a disabled entrepreneur? Leave a comment and let us know!

Photo credit: kelly.sikkema / Foter / CC BY P.S. This post isn’t sponsored. I just picked products that make me happy!

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December 3, 2014
by Emily Ladau

I Finally Got My New Adapted Wheelchair Van! (Or, How I’m Celebrating the International Day of Persons with Disabilities)

As I write this, there’s a beautiful, shiny, blue, adapted Honda Odyssey sitting in my driveway – and it’s mine! I picked him up today, and yes, I decided he needs his own personality. His name is Parker Van Morrison. Get it?! It took two years to travel down the road to get my new adapted wheelchair van. Two years. So much has changed in my life since the first time I got behind the wheel.

Blue Honda Odyssey Adapted Van

I started out knowing that I needed to face my fears and strive for independence. Unfortunately, that didn’t go so well at first, because I wasn’t using the right equipment and ended up careening through a fence, past massive trees, and straight into a ditch on the coldest night of January 2013. After that, I wasn’t sure driving was for me. But months later, in September, I decided to pick up driving lessons again, this time with the proper equipment. And I did it! I got my license in February 2014.

Blue Adapted Honda Odyssey

And now, I finally, FINALLY have my van. It just so happens to be the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate than embracing this new vehicle (literally and figuratively) to my independence. I’m not quite ready for NASCAR, but I drove around my neighborhood with my mom and dad in my passenger seats for the first time, and today, that feeling of fulfillment is enough for me.

Blue Adapted Honda Odyssey

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December 1, 2014
by Emily Ladau

November 2014 Disability News, Article, and Blog Round-Up

Happy holiday season, everyone! I hope all who celebrated had a fantastic Thanksgiving. I had so much to be thankful for this year – especially all of you who have continued to return here to read my posts. Again, with this time of year being so busy, I hope this round-up saves a little time for anyone looking to stay updated without searching all around the web. As always, I highly suggest pinning or bookmarking the round-up so you can come back to it whenever you have a few spare moments. Let me know what interested you the most, and if you think I missed anything.

November Disability News and Blog Post Round-up - Words I Wheel By

Disability News

Disability Blog Posts and Articles

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November 27, 2014
by Emily Ladau

On Self-Care and Thankfulness

Last Thanksgiving, I was fighting through a break-up and an I-just-graduated-college-who-am-I-what-am-I-doing-with-my-life identity crisis. My solution to this was to push myself into overdrive, throwing myself into working, blogging, publishing, and generally making sure that I didn’t show weakness or give into my emotional state. In a way, this sort of kamikaze go-go-go approach has given me much to be thankful for, because it has led to some incredible professional opportunities over the past year. It also nearly burned me out.

As I started to make peace with myself, the universe handed my family health scares, emotional pain, and devastating loss in rapid succession. Just when I thought the snowball might stop rolling down the hill in the last few months and cut us all a break, everything came to a head. My mother had an unsuccessful operation that we had rested nearly all hope on for what has so far been an untreatable condition, and my grandpa (my mother’s father) passed away all within the span of 48 hours.

In the midst of everything, I was frantically emailing people, finishing grad school assignments, writing, reading, taking notes, dragging my laptop to the hospital to finish things so I wouldn’t have to break promises or deadlines. I feared slowing down.

Then I got an email from one of my professors reminding me that in an airplane emergency, you’re supposed to put your oxygen mask on first before you help other people put on theirs. Otherwise, you may not be useful at all.

I know it seems really simple and obvious, but that was a revelation for me. It’s okay to take care of myself. It’s okay to take care of yourself. It’s okay. Only in taking care of ourselves can we fully be there for all the people we love.

It made me realize exactly where I’m placing my gratitude this year. I’m thankful for the people in my life, the family and friends, who have given me permission to step back and breathe when I struggled to give this permission to myself. I’m thankful for the people who have believed in me and stuck with me on the days when I’d turn to a blank page in my notebook or open up a new blog post and stare at the white space, feeling the usual promise and potential of words on a page completely fizzle away. And I’m thankful for all of you who have been there, and who will be there, to help me work through everything, to grow and thrive and change.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Happy Thanksgiving from Words I Wheel By

What are you thankful for this year? How are you taking care of yourself?

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November 12, 2014
by Emily Ladau
1 Comment

Empowering Disability Advocates at the Association of University Centers on Disabilities Conference, Days 3 and 4

After the excitement of speaking on the opening plenary during day 2 of the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) conference, I was looking forward to the continued energy of the following day, and as usual, AUCD didn’t disappoint! The day began with a fantastic plenary on The Future of Education, Employment, and Community Living for People with Disabilities. Talk about tackling the critical topics! The panel, moderated by Judy Woodruff, a co-anchor of PBS NewsHour, was spot on, and included three women doing incredible work for the disability community: Melody Musgrove, the Director of the Office of Special Education Programs in the Department of Education, Portia Wu, the Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Employment and Training Administration in the Department of Labor, and Kathy Greenlee, the Assistant Secretary for Aging and Administrator of the Administration for Community Living. While I’d love to just post the transcript because I believe it would speak for itself as to how poignant the panel was, I have carried away a few main points. Musgrove asserted that inclusion is everyone’s responsibility in school systems. Moreover, the panelists all addressed how crucial it is to realistically prepare people with disabilities for the workforce. Amen to that!

Following the plenary, I chose to attend a concurrent session on the use of social media (have I mentioned how much I love social media?!) to promote ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, led by Isabel Hodge, a parent advocate, and Andrea Shettle, and Patricia Morrissey of the United States International Council on Disabilities. When I was interning for AUCD, I worked on this effort along with the policy team, and it was by far one of the highlights of my summer. After this session, I got to spend time with the AUCD Special Interest Group on disability and sexual health (again, have I mentioned how much I love this topic? I know, you’re sensing a theme here!) during which we focused on the importance of ending the taboo.

Now, full disclosure: once this session ended, I spent some time getting ready for the AUCD Awards Celebration and Networking event. What can I say? I love an excuse to get dressed up. And let me tell you, this was an event worth getting fancy for, because the award recipients were all incredible. Hearing about their amazing work renewed my energy to advocate, although really, that can be said about everything I’ve experienced throughout this conference!

And finally, the conference has come to a close with a bang. I had the privilege this morning of being in the same room as Taryn Mackenzie Williams, the current White House Public Engagement Advisor, and the Honorable Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa, who are both immensely influential and admirable champions for the disability rights movement. How empowering it was to listen to discussion of the progress we’ve made within the disability community. But, as Senator Harkin so aptly stated: “We’ve come a long way, but we can’t back down on our commitment to enlarging the civil rights of people with disabilities.” It is this sentiment I’d like to leave you with as you pack your bags, board your planes or trains, and return home. The power is in our hands to create positive change, and I can’t wait to see just how far we’ve come when old friends and new meet again next year in Washington, D.C.

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