CiTR & Discorder Magazine's Accessibility Collective looks at inspiring stories in 2020 and also plays awesome music featuring people with all abilities!
To prevent the spread of Corona Virus 2019 or Covid19, social distancing and self-isolation measures have been recommended. Here’s some tips on how to practice social isolation and why according to @everybodywantstoloveyou on Instagram. Please stay at home and cancel plans. People who are vulnerable exist around you. There is a communal responsibility to limit the spread of this disease. While young people represent the highest number of new cases, elderly people represent the highest number of deaths. Often, testing for covid-19 is proportionate to risk and while contraction rates increase with age, the age range 20 to 29 had by far the highest contraction rates that typically show little to no symptoms. This is called asymptomatic contraction and makes it especially imperative that people practice social distancing. Social distancing means not going to bars, not hanging out with more than 2 friends and giving people 6 feet or more of space in public.
Hi, this is Perry from the templars You are listening to CiTR 101.9 FM in Vancouver.
You are listening to CiTR 101.9, broadcasting from UBC point grey campus located on the traditional, unceded, coast salish territory of the … speaking Musqueam people.
“Hello everyone! My name is Stephanie and you’re listening to Season 6’s All Access Pass on CiTR 101. 9FM! I am joined by my Accessibility Collective teammates: Richard, Jessie, Christie, Monica, Avery and Sarah! Hope everyone is doing well and staying safe and hope all of you had a wonderful winter break.” “Happy New Year, 2021, wishing you all very healthy and good memories for this year.” “On today’s show, we are bringing you inspiring and uplifting stories centred around the community of disability and moving forward to year 2021 on a positive note!” “But before we dive into our show topic, let us go to our first song break! Here is Monica with the first song.” “Hi Monica, happy new year!”
Happy new year, everyone and Hi Stephanie! Our first song of the show is ‘Villain’ by Sarah Jickling and Her Good Bad Luck off her 2019 album ‘The Family Curse’. Sarah Jickling is a Canadian artist and mental health advocate who is open about her struggles with anxiety and bipolar disorder. Her album, ‘The Family Curse’, deals with intergenerational trauma and mental illness in families.” “So again, here is Sarah Jickling with ‘Villain.’
Song break: Villain
The song you just heard was Sarah Jickling with ‘Villain’ and off of her album: ‘The Family Curse’.” Now, we are going to go into our show topic and that is each member of the Accessibility Collective brings you inspiring and uplifting stories centred around the community of disability and moving forward to year 2021 on a positive note!” Here is Sarah with her pick of a disability story. Sarah, hi!”
Hi everyone, and a wonderful New Year to you and your family! I hope everyone had some treats these past few weeks. If you’re like me, you’ve been watching a lot of Netflix these days. Like, a lot. A show that really caught my attention- and the attention of many others I know, was called the Queen’s Gambit. In this, A female orphan reluctantly asks a janitor to teach her chess at a time women were not generally allowed to play, and not allowed to play against men and rises to fame internationally as an exceptional player.
Well, this runs a lot of parallel to the real-life story of 40 year-old Jessica Lauser, the 3 time US blind chess champion. She was born 16 weeks early, and needed to be put on oxygen. As a result, she developed retinopathy of prematurity- severe damage to her eyes. One eye is completely blind; in the other she has 20/480 eyesight. She can tell when a piece is on a chess square, but since it’s blurry it’s tough for her to tell what piece it is.
Jessica has been playing chess since the age of 7, when she moved from a school for the deaf and blind, to a public mainstream school in Arizona. It was her way of evading bullying, and being able to beat the other kids- by being really really good at something others were not good at. Now, She says, if anything, it’s a method of coping with all of the societal constraints that have been put on her, and dealing with things that she can’t control. This includes the vast difficulty with both finding a job as a blind person, and with social security disability insurance, which only allows her to make 2110.00 a month. This forces her into relative poverty- a fact that she finds disturbing and upsetting. However, in her effort to find opportunity- and this is giving her opportunity, as she now travels internationally on the US team.
Jessica does not only play with others that are visually impaired, and often she plays with those are visually capable as well. Oftentimes her opponents do not know that Jessica is blind. Jessica doesn't play with as special “ blind” chess boards, as many of her counterparts do, which have pegs to feel the pieces. She plays with a normal chess board. The difficulty is the chess rule “touch-move”, where you have to move a piece that you pick up. Instead, she skims the tops of pieces to identify them, without moving them, a fact which she disclaims to the sighted people that she often plays with. It also means that she has to remember where every piece is in her mind, which is incredible in itself.
Her passion is shown by her continuous and consistent attendance to these chess tournaments, even during the pandemic, which was pushed several months but happened in person. My guess is that it is rather difficult to play virtual chess when blind.
In the queen’s gambit, the main character wants to go to Russia, where the ultimate chess champions are. Jessica wants to use russian everyday to help others, hopes that one day she will be able to live in Russia and teach English and chess.” “Now, here is Christie with her story pick.”
“Thanks, Sarah. I really enjoyed that story. I really love chess too and I haven’t watched Queen’s Gambit yet but I’ll definitely check that out.
One story that I thought was super inspiring was one about a runner named Thomas Panek, who is legally blind. This is a story about how new technology had helped him run his first 5K in Central Park without a dog or another person to guide him. Panek has retinitis pigmentosa, a genetic condition that causes the loss of photoreceptor cells. By young adulthood, he was legally blind.
This process started a little over a year ago when Panek delivered a challenge to a group of engineers at Google’s Manhattan offices during a company hackathon. The challenge was if they could develop a way for him to run by himself, with a clear sense of where he was going and without having to worry about hazards along the way. As there weren't any founding technological solutions that entirely separated the runner from a guide.
The National Federation of the Blind estimates that 7.6 million people in the United States have a visual impairment that requires them to use alternate means to engage in an activity that people with vision can do without assistance. The United States Association of Blind Athletes, which holds camps and regional competitions for people who are blind or visually impaired, has more than 700 members who could benefit from the technology Panek requested.
So how did they do it?
The crew painted a yellow line for Panek to follow throughout a race. He would strap a phone with a camera and the newly devised app to his belly area, and the camera would track the yellow line on the ground. The app would take information from the camera and convey vibrating signals through a headset. So as Panek ran, the signals would tell him how to adjust his steps to stay on the line. Signals in the right ear meant he was wandering too far to his right, and vice versa. There was another signal that would help him navigate a turn when the camera spotted the line curving.
Software programs used for video game design helped the app learn to interpret the images from the camera. Obviously, when developing an app like this there are many factors to consider such as things that might interfere with tracking a line on the pavement. Things such as a shaky camera, or the change of sunlight, or leaves blowing onto the line. Therefore, this made it more tricky for the engineers.
In preparation for his run, Panek tested the technology for months over short distances, gradually gaining confidence, learning to trust the directional messages in his ears. Then, in November 2020, it was time for his 5-kilometer run. And it was a success.
This story struck me because it made me think of technology as a tool for more like humanitarian purposes and made me think of ways we can reimagine technology. I’m no tech expert, but technology and society is just so fascinating to me because it’s advancing super fast. It kinda scares me a little bit, if you have seen Black Mirror, you would know why. It’s a show on Netflix that depicts a dystopian future where several individuals grapple with the manipulative effects of cutting edge technology in their personal lives and behaviours. Seeing stories like this one brings me hope and seeing technology as a way to help and serve the public interest rather than alienate or harm us further, and I am looking forward to seeing how this would help more people who are visually impaired. And just more technological advancements that would help everyone in the future.
“Thanks, Christie for the story! You and Sarah’s stories were really inspiring.
Cool thing is I was just thinking - I was just actually looking at the images of the yellow line that he uses with the app and it seems like we do have a lot of these in Vancouver so maybe like he could do that one 5k and like the infrastructure would continue on so that people could do it on another places. That would be super cool.
Yea, I hope that happens. Let’s go to our second song break. Monica, what song are we listening to next?”
Thanks Stephanie. Our next song is ‘two faced’ by slchld, a Vancouver-based R&B artist and producer. Slchld was born in South Korea and he speaks a lot about mental health and depression and how he deals with these issues. Through his music, he tackles the topic of mental health, something that is considered a taboo issue in South Korea.”
Song break: two-faced
“Welcome back to All Access Pass on CiTR 101.9 FM. The song you just heard was slchld’s “two faced.”
Now, let’s get back to our show topic and that is each member of the Accessibility Collective brings you inspiring and uplifting stories centred around the community of disability and moving forward to year 2021 on a positive note!” So here is Richard with his pick of a disability story. Richard, hello!”
“Hi Stephanie! Today I want to talk about a very inspiring story that happened in November of 2020. Now, you might know about ironman competitions; a grueling triathlon consisting of a 4 kilometer swim, a 180 kilometer bike, and a 42 kilometer run! These competitions truly push the limit requiring intense training and physical fitness. The race is truly a triumph of the human spirit, and a display of the depth of human determination.
Clocking in at 16 hours; 46 minutes and nine seconds, triathlete Chris Nikic became the first competitor with Down’s Syndrome to successfully cross the finish line in the 42-year history of the Iron Man Race.
For his awe-inspiring efforts, Nikic also earned himself a place in the Guinness Book of World Records as the first person with Down’s Syndrome to become an official Iron Man.
Nikic told the TODAY show, prior to the event, “Being the first person with Down’s Syndrome is a great feeling.”
“I can prove to kids that if I can do it, they can do it, too.”
According to Nikic’s father, this race was more than just a finish line and celebration of victory. Ironman has served as his platform to become one step closer to his goal of living a life of inclusion, normalcy, and leadership. It’s about being an example to other kids and families that face similar barriers, proving no dream or goal is too high to reach.
In order to prepare for the grueling event, Nikic trained between four to six hours a day, which definitely paid off, as even after suffering a fall from his bike during the second leg of the race, he called on his inner reserve of strength to get back up, keep going, and get the job done.
With hopes of competing in the 2022 Special Olympics scheduled on his home turf in Orlando, it looks as if Chris Nikic has plenty of big dreams yet to come true.
As for that medal he won for completing one of the world’s most exhausting triathlons? He gifted it to his loving mom. What an inspiration! “Now, here’s Avery with her story. Avery, take it away!”
“Thanks for that incredible story Richard! That is beyond inspiring.
My stories are going to focus on some emerging disabled artists who created amazing projects this past year. While we all know 2020 was tough, there are certain things that still brought the world closer together in times of a raging pandemic- one of them being art. Art is a way to connect emotively, something that was extremely crucial in an absence of physical support throughout 2020. There are a couple stories that stood out to me that highlight disabled artists and the work they’re doing.
The first one took place in May 2020. A group of artists with learning disabilities got together to paint the world’s largest open-air gallery in Spain, with inclusivity and a safe space for all the basis of their mission, as well as creating a stunning gallery for the city. The Spanish artist behind it all, Okuda San Miguel, partnered with an organization that provides jobs for locals with special needs and learning disabilities. What a way to give back to the community!
The next artist I want to showcase is the California raised Rora Blue, who I have actually followed on Instagram for some time now. She is most known for her work called “The Unsent Project,” which focuses on the relationship between colour and love by asking anonymous senders to write letters to people that will never actually be sent, encouraging honesty and communication. In 2020, she launched a series called “Chronic Illness reimagined as something glamorous” with photos depicting her everyday routines living with Lyme disease if it was much more elegant, such as an IV filled with glitter, or a birthday cake with blue pills as sprinkles, all meant to spread awareness and kinda shed light on the difficulties that people face everyday.
More recently, she has launched a project centering around hurtful ableist comments. She created a photo of a bed in a field with letters stitched on the pillowcases stating remarks like “are you better yet?” or “honey, we’re all tired.”
Through art, we can connect and destigmatize, so these amazing advances from disabled artists are something to thank 2020 for :)
Thanks, Avery for the story! You and Richard’s stories were really amazing. Let’s go to our third song break. Monica, what disability artist are we listening to next?
Our next song is ‘Someday We’ll Linger in the Sun’ by Gaelynn Lea off her 2018 album ‘Learning How to Stay’. Gaelynn Lea is an American singer, violinist, and disability advocate who has a physical disability called Osteogenesis Imperfecta. Through her music, she provides a platform to advocate for disability rights and promote positive change.
Song Break: Someday We’ll Linger in the Sun
Welcome back to All Access Pass on CiTR 101.9 FM. The song you just heard was ‘Someday We’ll Linger in the Sun’ by Gaelynn Lea off her album: ‘Learning How to Stay’.
Now, let’s get back to our show topic where each member of the Accessibility Collective looks back to 2020 and looks forward to what is to come for 2021… So here is Jessie with her pick of a disability story. Hey, Jessie. How’s it going?
Hi, I’m doing alright. I think I’ll continue on the topic of art as Avery established just now. The disability story I want to present today is about a young American girl from Missouri who invented a glitter-shooting prosthetic arm and in October of 2020, she promoted creativity among disabled children during her appearance on a Lego documentary that centered around young inventors and their designs. Jordan Reeves is a fourteen year-old teenager who was born with an underdeveloped left lim. She became inspired to develop the design when she attended a STEM camp that encouraged kids to think creatively about their disabilities. Jordan used a 3D printer to design this prosthetic arm and she has promoted her design, called Project Unicorn, on various platforms such as TEDx and Shark Tank. Jordan and other young inventors advocated for creative thinking by showcasing their own Lego constructions on a thirteen foot globe installation that was made up of 350 000 pieces in total. And I think her stories are pretty cool because it promotes creative thinking of not only young women in STEM but also young women with disabilities.
Wow, thanks, Jessie for the story! Let’s go to our fourth and last song break. Monica, what song are we listening to next?
Our fourth song of today is called ‘Hurt Me’ by HALF/ASIAN featuring Amy the CODA. HALF/ASIAN is a mixed-race Canadian musician who makes retro-synth pop music. Amy the CODA is a Child Of Deaf Adult who interprets the lyrics in her first language, which is sign language. This Vancouver Island based duo creates accessible music for both deaf and hearing communities.
Song Break: Hurt Me
Welcome back to All Access Pass on CiTR 101.9 FM. The song you just heard was ‘Hurt Me’ by HALF/ASIAN featuring Amy the CODA.
Now, let’s get back to our show topic. Each member of the Accessibility Collective looks back to 2020 and looks forward to what is to come for 2021… So here is Nicole with her pick of a disability story. Hi, Nicole. Good to see you. Take it away!
Well, this story comes from a theme some of us may have seen in 2020 and that is--families growing together. But for the Dean family, what brought them closer actually began as a hobby which then became one of Time Magazine's Top 100 innovations of 2020.
Grammy nominee and songwriter Barry Dean, along with his wife, his brother and two sons created LUCI.
(play 00:50 to 00:55 "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" line from: https://youtu.be/eKXfqpg-Q-k)
A Linked User Centered Intelligence, which is an attachable hardware - software system that gives select power wheelchairs smart capabilities.
It uses special sensors to give an all around 360 degree view so that its smart technology can make wheelchairs safer. Now you might think the curb of a sidewalk isn't much of a threat but falling over with a 300 to 400 pound power wheelchair can cause serious injuries. And it happens more often than you think.
In 2003 tip overs, collisions, and falls made up for 65-80% of wheelchair related reported injuries. In that same year, there were more than 100,000 wheelchair related injuries requiring treatment in the U.S.
when she first got her power chair as a little girl, um, at the clinic, they put her in the seat and they hadn't calibrated the speed and it took off down the hall and went into a wall."
Katherine was born 16 weeks early and weighed less than 2 pounds and because of Cerebral Palsy, spent most of her life in a power wheelchair. Today she is 20 years old.
So, how does LUCI work?
- The LUCI, which was also named after Katherine's favorite Beatles song, is mounted between the powerbase and seat of the chair.
- Its sensor-fusion technology uses a combination of 3D cameras, ultrasonic sensors and radars to detect, slow down and stop before a ledge or colliding into an object, such as people's pets and other people's legs.
- And if you're about to go up a ramp that seems a little too steep, the LUCI will monitor the slope and warn the rider if the chair may be at risk of tipping over.
- And no, LUCI doesn’t completely control your ride --one can certainly override any of these features but if one happens to fall, the LUCI's fall-detection can alert your loved ones where you are so you can get help.
- So, just like your smartphone, you can update the software at night when it's charging, choose to share your user data to improve its software, and use Alexa or Google Assistant voice command to access the LUCI phone app for things like battery life status.
So, LUCI wasn't made just for Katherine. After a dear friend of the family suffered serious injuries in the same wheelchair model Katherine used, the family had already seen Katherine experience the difficulties of maneuvering about the world
that wasn't quite built too well, like leaving Disneyland concerts early because of the crowds. "Wheelchair users [are] left behind when it comes to most innovative technology,” says CEO Barry Dean. And with that the LUCI team kept other wheelchair users in mind while developing the technology over 2.5 years. So much that their test chairs were named after their former owners. One chair was named after Bethany--who passed away from ALS but only used her chair a few times because she was scared she would get hurt using it.
LUCI sells for $8,445. This includes the installation and cloud updates. After it is installed with some minor adjustments, an app is used to customize the riding experience.
The LUCI team plans to continue to develop the system to allow it to be compatible with more wheelchairs. They also continue to advocate for healthcare insurance coverage for these devices as they are fairly new to insurance companies as a medical device. They are currently only available in the States. And I’ll leave a message from Barry
Here’s one more message from Barry:
https://youtu.be/qKWJG7wtpLo (play 00:00 to 00:37)
"Dear Katherine, from the moment you were born you've been a treasure to me, you've also been an education you taught me about courage and kindness but also how unfair the world can be to some people. You deserve something that would let you move freely.."
I'm Nicole and thanks for having me.
Thanks, Nicole for your story. Now, we are going to another and last song break. Here is X. ARI with the song: “Watching.” It is off her album, “As You Are.”
Song Break: Watching
And welcome back to All Access Pass on CiTR 101.9 FM. The song you just heard was of X. ARI’s “Watching.” A little a bit about X. ARI, she is a singer-songwriter-artist and mental health advocate from Toronto and currently living in Los Angeles. X. ARI’s motto is to turn pain into power using art to do so. And with that, we wrap up our first episode for 2021! Hope you all enjoyed it.
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