Spirit of Ability Winner Triumphs over SCISep 04, 2014
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The final Spirit of Ability Award of the 2014 year was given at the Fontana Day at the Races event on Friday, Aug. 29. The sixth award went to a California-based institution on a mission of hope; Triumph Foundation makes it a daily goal to provide a pillar of support to anyone in California, or the surrounding area, after sustaining a spinal cord injury.

After enduring a spinal cord injury (SCI) shortly after graduating college, Andrew Skinner saw a need for someone to reach out to the newly injured populace. During his time in the hospital, he was surrounded by his family, friends, and loving girlfriend on a daily basis. The constant support that he was showered in from day one helped him bounce back from complete immobility to getting around in his manual wheelchair, still gaining more movement to this day.BraunAbilityPlaque

“When people get hurt, their whole life changes,” said Skinner. “The most important step is maintaining a positive attitude.”

He and his wife, Kirsten, started Triumph Foundation to reach out and inspire individuals living with a spinal cord injury to keep moving forward and living life after their injury. Triumph Foundation also works to minimize any obstacles that one may face after an injury. The aim is to give everyone the support and capability to move on and recover that Andrew had after his injury. It doesn’t stop after the hospital either, as Triumph hosts events, makes equipment donations, and provides support groups for SCI victims as they initially recover and for years afterward.

Andrew accepted the Ralph W. Braun Spirit of Ability Award on behalf of Triumph Foundation at the Day at the Races event. Sam Schmidt, a quadriplegic and IndyCar team owner (former driver), presented the award on behalf of BraunAbility and Conquer Paralysis Now. Sam then led Andrew and over 60 other guests on a tour of the race course, the pits, and supplied a lunch to all attendees.

In addition to the award, a $1,000 donation will be made to Triumph Foundation. The funds will go toward purchasing goodie baskets for newly injured people. The baskets include tools and resources for finding help and hope after sustaining a SCI.

Andrew and Kirsten are now running the Triumph Foundation full-time. He quit his job to have the time to give to his dream, and to raise his daughter as well. Every day he is out in the field in his BraunAbility van making hospital visits, and he has no plans to slow down.triumph header cropped

“We are all in on this,” said Skinner.

Congratulations, Triumph Foundation! The personal triumphs you give to people every day makes you more than deserving of this award.

Submitted by: Micah / Ability Voice Blogger
Category: Wheelchair Vans
Published: Sep 04, 2014
California Organization Accesses Their Spirit of AbilityAug 27, 2014
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On Friday, Aug. 22, a Sacramento, CA. organization was awarded the fifth Ralph W. Braun Spirit of Ability Award. While the Golden State has its name derived from the golden light that basks the shorelines, there are other sources of sunshine in the lives of the residents.

Access Leisure is an organization that provides all community members with disabilities or serious injuries, ill and wounded veterans, and active duty members of the military with over 500 different sports and recreational experiences annually. All-year-round, they are out in the city putting on camping trips, baseball tournaments, power soccer, and anything else you can imagine for people ages 1 to 100.

Annie, Sam and Ability Center taking a group shot

Annie, Sam and crew taking a group shot

They operate under the City of Sacramento’s Department of Parks and Recreation. This gives the group access to resources that allow them to reach such large numbers of people. Some events have over 200 attendees, which when your team is providing over 500 experiences a year, is pretty massive. The team is headed up by Annie Desalernos, and she accepted the award on behalf of the Access Leisure team. Access Leisure has full-time staff members, but is largely manned by a dedicated group of volunteers.

The ability to positively impact not just the individual that attends their events, but that person's family, friends, and the community at large, is what inspires each member of the Access Leisure staff to ‘leave it all on the playing field' when they suit up for work, said Desalernos.

We caught up with Annie at the Sonoma Day at the Races event. Sam Schmidt, a quadriplegic and IndyCar team owner (former driver), was present to give Access Leisure the award. Food, a tour of the track, and other race-themed goodies awaited Day at the Races attendees and Access Leisure after the ceremony.

In addition to the award, a $1,000 donation will be made to the disability-related cause of Access Leisure’s choice. The organization chosen is Gifts to Share, a nonprofit group that supports the City of Sacramento's park, recreation, cultural, educational and neighborhood improvement programs and facilities.

The Day at the Races tour group meeting some drivers in the pits

The Day at the Races tour group meeting some drivers in the pits

Founded in 1966, Access Leisure has a successful career of 48 years of service to the city.

The Spirit of Ability award was created to honor individuals like and organizations like Access Leisure who make a notable difference in the lives of people with physical disabilities, often despite overwhelming odds. The award is named in honor of the late Ralph Braun, who had muscular dystrophy but did not let that prevent him from inventing the first motorized scooter, wheelchair lift, and founding BraunAbility, today a worldwide leader of mobility equipment.

Thank you, Access Leisure, for making an impact in the Golden State!

Submitted by: Micah / Ability Voice Blogger
Category: News / Announcements
Published: Aug 27, 2014
My Weather Predictions by Scott DrotarAug 25, 2014
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This week, we have a second article by our new guest blogger, Scott Drotar! If you like his work, please go check out more of his work at his website, www.scottdrotar.com.


For about as long as mankind has been around, there have been groups of people who believe they have a transcendent, special connection with the weather. Be it the ancient Egyptians worshipping Ra, the sun god, to receive a bountiful harvesting season or the Native Americans doing a rain dance to help their crops, there have always been individuals who seem to possess a kinship with the weather. Even today in the era of science and technology, there are a select few who have a connection with the elements. This has been a well-kept secret for a long time, but I feel it is time that the truth is revealed. As hard as it may be to believe, most, if not all, disabled individuals have a unique ability to predict human behavior based on the weather. More specifically, we have the capability of predicting how many handicap accessible parking spaces will be available out in public.Drotar Family

I first started to become aware of this special power that comes with my disability as a young child. I have been fortunate enough to have always had a vehicle that would allow me to travel about even though I use a power wheelchair. This naturally means that I have needed to use handicap accessible parking spots my entire life in order to be able to safely get in and out of my van, especially when I was younger. I quickly realized as a kid that I could predict with great accuracy the number of handicap accessible parking spaces that would be available at public places (i.e. Wal-Mart, the movie theater, the mall, etc.) based solely on the current weather conditions. If it was a beautiful day, and the sun was shining without a cloud in the sky, there would be tons of open handicap parking. However, if the weather was less than optimal with pouring rain or a breathtakingly cold wind, all of the handicap accessible spots would be taken. While this may not be as cool as X-ray vision or being able to fly, any superpower is pretty cool when you are a 5-year-old boy.

All right, so I know that I don’t have a superpower (that you know about…) or some cosmic bond with the weather, but the fact that I can predict the amount of accessible parking that will be available by the daily meteorological conditions is an unfortunate truth of our society. As a physically disabled person, I know firsthand how inclement weather makes getting around in a wheelchair much more difficult, so I doubt that disabled people wait for the worst possible weather to go out and take up all of the accessible parking. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Since actual disabled individuals are not occupying these spots, this must mean that able-bodied people are illegally using these spaces just to avoid walking an additional 30 feet in bad weather. These people are not only breaking the law, but they are doing so on the days when people who actually are disabled need these spots the most.

The fact that using a handicap accessible parking space without having a permit AND a disabled person in the vehicle is illegal, pales in comparison to what this says about our society. By illegally and selfishly using these spaces, people are completely disregarding and disrespecting the disabled community. For an able-bodied person, using a handicap parking spot saves them having to walk an additional 30 feet or so, but what it takes away from the disabled person who now cannot use that space is much greater. As I mentioned before, handicap parking provides a safe place for people with disabilities to get in and out of their vehicle. Especially for wheelchair users, this can take a few minutes and doing this in the way of traffic is dangerous since wheelchairs sit low to the ground and can be difficult to see, especially in bad weather. Also, if nasty weather makes it hard enough for an able-bodied person to get around that they park illegally, just imagine how much harder it is for disabled people. If you think walking an extra 10 yards in the wind and snow is tough, try doing it while pushing a wheelchair, carrying medical equipment, and holding an umbrella. Is not having to walk another few feet really worth endangering someone’s life this way?

Scott's vanWhile I try very hard not to complain about my disability and how hard it makes my life, and I don’t expect or want special treatment because I am in a wheelchair, I do feel like getting to park in a safe place close to the entrance is one of the small perks that comes with being disabled. For a lot of people with disabilities, just getting up and going out in public to live their lives is hard enough, that we don’t need to make things even more difficult by forcing them to load in traffic and trek across a busy parking lot in the rain. In fact, there have been times when I have purposely chosen to not use a handicap accessible parking space, so that people more disabled than me can use the few that are available. The next time you think about using your grandmother’s handicap parking tag to avoid feeling a little cold or getting a little wet by walking another few feet, I want you to remember that someone else’s grandmother is now going to have to transfer into her wheelchair in the street and then slowly make her way to the building, while trying not to catch pneumonia. Or at the very least, imagine my superhero persona, Handi-Captain America, with my cape billowing in the wind behind my wheelchair, using my superpower of being able to predict your behavior with the weather.

Submitted by: Micah / Ability Voice Blogger
Category: Customer Stories
Published: Aug 25, 2014
"Freedom" by Scott DrotarAug 18, 2014
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I would like to introduce you to Mr. Scott Drotar, founder of Roll Models. Scott is an awesome man who is writing to change the world, and he has agreed to write guest blog posts for us here on AbilityVoice! We are incredibly excited to have him share his voice and perspective with us and you, our readers. Below is an article that he sent us a while back that we loved and wanted to share with you.   Scott Drotar Braveheart

Freeeeeeeeeeeee-Dooooom!!! Ok, so maybe what I am going to talk about isn't quite as intense as Mel Gibson's rallying cry to his brethren at the end of Braveheart, but it is very powerful (and I really wanted to open a post with a picture of this Scottish badass). Growing up being trapped in a wheelchair makes it really hard to get from place to place. That is why so many disabled people end up as shut ins, prisoners in their own homes. It is not because they don't want to go out, they just do not have the means to do so due to the enormous price of wheelchair accessible vehicles. Fortunately, my family, with the help of some charity organizations, had the financial ability to purchase a wheelchair accessible van, which over the years has become a perfect representation of the freedom it has given me.

Scott Drotar Van 1I am the proud owner of a 1997 green Ford Econoline E150. It has a custom dropped floor for increased head room to accommodate my wheelchair, an automatic EZ Lock wheelchair lockdown mechanism, and a Braun hydraulic lift. Most people would not look twice at my van with its dents and dings, and most people definitely wouldn't want to claim it as their vehicle. To me though, this van is priceless. It has given me so much and taken me so many amazing places. It took me to Niagara Falls, Fenway Park, Disneyworld, and Dallas along with a myriad of other trips that I could discuss that impacted my life in so many amazing ways. Instead of telling you about some family trip to somewhere though (don't worry I will break out the slides and projector eventually), I would like to instead tell you about the freedom that this automobile has given me.

Scott Drotar Van 2It gave me the freedom to go to school, first at Notre Dame and then at the University of Kansas, where I learned to help others. It gave me the freedom to live on my own, by providing me the means with which I can run errands and get groceries. It gave me the freedom to have a normal social life, because it gave me a vehicle to go out with friends to a movie or go on a date. It gave me the freedom to dream big, when it took me to go on a cruise by myself or on an impulse to drive 45 minutes for Whitecastle (I have weird dreams). It gave me so many little things that are too numerous to list, and to most people would seem very trivial, but allowed me to have a normal life. Most importantly though, it gave me the freedom to choose. To choose to live a full, happy life that I am so proud of. A life filled with freedom.

I shudder to think about how different my life would have been if not for the freedom this vehicle has given me. Would I have a life at all? Probably not, and any life I did have would have had minimal quality. By giving me the means to go out in the world, my four-wheeled, Ford savior gave me the spirit and sense of autonomy to dream big and work hard to achieve those dreams. It freed my mind from my disability by giving me access to life outside of the 4 walls of my parent's house. It gave me freedom.

Scott Drotar Van 3Even though she is over 15 years old, has almost 200,000 miles on her, and is pretty beat up (Yes, she is female), when I look at her I appreciate her, warts and all. Even though I am in the process of trying to purchase a new van, I will always remember and love this one for everything she has given me. I love her for the places she has taken me, but most of all I love her for the freedom she represents. She has gone by many names over the years, the big green monster, Bessie, and the Drotarcade, but no matter what we call her, she will always be a symbol of my freedom. The next time that you effortlessly hitch a ride with a friend or just grab your keys and drive, take a moment to think about what a privilege that is. Imagine what your life would be like if you couldn't get up and go whenever you wanted. Think about how fortunate you, and thanks to my van I, are to have this freedom. The freedom to live.”

If you would like to see the original article, you can find it here.

To learn more about Scott and to read more of his work, visit his website at www.scottdrotar.com

Look for original work from Scott here soon!

Submitted by: Micah / Ability Voice Blogger
Category: Customer Stories
Published: Aug 18, 2014
A Journey Beyond the CureAug 11, 2014
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We are always on the lookout for a cure. Televisions display images and messages of that magic panacea that guarantees a fix to whatever ailment we may face. But what happens when those silver bullet cures don’t work? For one man, that answer is to embark on a journey that may be one of the biggest challenges of his life.Robin with his Wife

Robin Bates was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) at the age of 30. At this time, his life was a veritable whirlwind of change. He had only been in the States just shy of two years. Having emigrated from South Africa to San Diego, he had recently wed his lovely wife and was seeking employment, all within the space of 3 months. Robin was not deterred and soon found work.

As time went on, his MS got worse, and Robin was left in a wheelchair and had to stop working. Like many others, he set to work to try and find a way to take back his life. After numerous cloud-in-a-bottle cures and tricks failing, Robin knew he had to take the hard way back.

Robin decided that he would take a cross-country trip in his power chair, from west coast to the east coast. His wife consulted a physician and the physician told him that he should not go unless he got himself in shape. These events collided together to create Robin’s MS Journey.Robin Thoughtful

“She is awesome,” said Robin. “I don’t know what I would do without her.”

Robin’s MS Journey is an initiative to take back his life by his own work. He is taking a year to exercise, eat a more wholesome diet, seek a variety of therapies and more to get himself back up and feeling stronger, and to reduce symptoms as much as possible so he can embark on his trip. The cross-country trip is designed to create awareness for MS, but it is more than that to Robin and his family.

“It isn’t just about MS,” said Robin. “There are people everywhere facing hard times. This is about taking matters into your own hands and doing something.”

Robin has been undergoing his diet and exercise regime for 4 months now and has dropped 27 pounds. He says he can feel his balance improving and strength returning to his legs and core. The results are encouraging him to keep doing more. His favorite exercise is his aqua therapy sessions where he spends an hour in the water stretching and performing strengthening exercises.

“It is a freedom thing,” said Robin. “It is definitely my number one favorite exercise.”

His absolute favorite thing though has been the support he has seen. He said that he has received countless emails from people telling him how his journey has inspired them, but those emails are inversely what inspires Robin to keep pushing. He has even had people volunteer as coaches to help him train.Robin with Daughters

His wife and friends think his story could make a good book or documentary. He said he is open to the idea, but wants to make sure he is ready for his trip before committing to anything. He wants to achieve his goal without distraction.

Robin regularly updates a Facebook page with his progress and what things he has been finding that have helped him along. Like his page here, and follow his progress up until his trip begins September 2015.

“There is hope out there,” said Robin.

Submitted by: Micah / Ability Voice Blogger
Category: Customer Stories
Published: Aug 11, 2014
"No Obstacle Too Big" for Spirit of Ability WinnerAug 04, 2014
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There are few things as aptly named as the easy way. It is something we take without even realizing it. It is just that easy. On the other hand, one of the hardest things to do is to consciously fight against that easy way, become aware of it, and choose to do more. This mindset of courage is one that is not easily held.

Optimized-Holly and MCmobility“No obstacle too big” is the personal motto of Holly Koester, the recipient of the fourth Ralph W. Braun Spirit of Ability award. Holly was a Captain in the United States Army when her vehicle hit a temporary road and rolled over. The incident resulted in a spinal cord injury that left her without the use of her legs. The easy road is the furthest thing from what would happen next.

“I always try to make the most of every opportunity,” said Holly. “Each day is a new day.”

Since her injury, Holly has competed in 23 National Veteran's Wheelchair Games, has completed a marathon in all 50 states, currently serves on the board and as spokesperson for the Buckeye chapter of the Paralyzed Veterans of America and as Sports Director for the chapter, and was a Cheerio's cereal box honoree in 2008, and more. Holly's twin sister, Joy, still serves in the Army Reserve as a Colonel. She is also quite the dog person. Her service dog, Glory (a charcoal lab), and she are a part of 2 dog clubs, and Holly teaches obedience classes. The Dodge Caravan is her vehicle of choice.Optimized-Crowd with Mikhail

We caught up with Holly at the Mid-Ohio Day at the Races event on Friday, Aug 1. Sam Schmidt, a quadriplegic and IndyCar team owner (former driver), was present to give Holly the award. The PVA came to the event in big numbers to support her and help celebrate the award. Food, a tour of the track, and other race-themed goodies awaited Day at the Races attendees and Holly after her ceremony.

In addition to the award, a $1,000 donation will be made to the disability-related cause of Koester's choice. The organization she chose is the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA). The PVA works to create an America where all veterans and people with disabilities, and their families, have everything they need to live full and productive lives.

WMFD of Mansfield, OH., was on hand and featured the event on the evening news. To see the piece, follow the link here.


Submitted by: Micah / Ability Voice Blogger
Category: News / Announcements
Published: Aug 04, 2014
Saying Goodbye to an Old FriendJul 31, 2014
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Perhaps the title may seem a bit dramatic to some, but for us here at BraunAbility, it is the honest truth. This October, BraunAbility is scheduled to manufacture the last vehicle in the Paratransit line of vehicles. After building the vehicle for 38 years, it is sad to see it go.Farewell Tour Paratransit

On Wednesday, July 23, BraunAbility celebrated the historic life of the vehicle line with a ceremony and ice cream social for all employees. Several speakers recalled their fond memories working on the vehicle line, with speakers ranging from BraunAbility President, Nick Gutwein, to workers from the line that builds the vehicle, to Kim Angel with Macon County Transit of North Carolina, the recipients of the last van to be manufactured. After the ceremony ended, ice cream was had by all.

Ralph began by putting lifts on full-size vans like these, said Nick Gutwein, BraunAbility President. This really is the Braun Corporation.

The Paratransit van is special to the State of North Carolina. BraunAbility has had a long-standing deal with the State of North Carolina, and has sold them more Paratransit vehicles than any other customer. With 25,000 Paratransit vehicles made, over 3,000 of them went to North Carolina alone. For this reason, there will be a similar celebration in North Carolina at a future date.BA Execs with Paratransit

The Ford Motor Company has made the decision to stop producing the Ford Econoline van, which served as the base chassis for the Paratransit vehicle. With no more supply of vehicles, BraunAbility had no choice but to stop production.

The end of the vehicle line does not mean BraunAbility will be letting anyone go. The Plant 6 employees who used to work on the Paratransit line will be absorbed into other departments, such as vehicle inspection for our new Certified Pre-Owned program.

So thank you to everyone in and out of the BraunAbility family for making this vehicle a success, and for helping us honor its historic legacy!


Submitted by: Micah / Ability Voice Blogger
Category: News / Announcements
Published: Jul 31, 2014
Third Spirit of Ability Recipient Honored in TorontoJul 22, 2014
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On Friday, July 18, the third Ralph W. Braun Spirit of Ability award winner was recognized at the Toronto Day at the Races Event. Sam Schmidt of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports gave the award to Kristen Cameron, a Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, native.Kristen in Classroom

Kristen was a grad student and hockey coach in Pennsylvania, and went out for an evening bike ride.  While riding, she was struck by a drunk driver and thrown over 45 feet from her bike. The driver was going an estimated 60 mph when the collision occurred. The driver kept going, only to stop to check for damage on his own car.

The incident left Kristen paralyzed from the chest down after sustaining a broken neck, but not even that could keep her down long.

Kristen is the perfect candidate for the Spirit of Ability because she has shown that she is an immovable object.  When she wants to accomplish something, she does.Cameron and Schmidt

A mere few months after her injury, Kristen was back out and exercising. She has taken up wheelchair racing, rugby, and more. Her service dog, Fido, accompanies her to visit schools and other groups to talk about the dangers of drunk driving. She is also back at school and working to finish her master’s degree in Organizational Leadership.

It's a really big honor to get this award, and I don't use that word lightly, said Kristen. It's still just surreal to me.

In addition to the award, a $1,000 donation was made to the disability-related cause of her choice. Kristen has chosen Level Playing, an initiative aimed at removing financial barriers to facilitate equitable access for children with special needs attending summer camps with the city of Brampton, Ontario.racing chair

The Spirit of Ability award was created to honor individuals who make a notable difference in the lives of people with physical disabilities, often despite overwhelming odds. With a dedication to living a life as an example of ability, we cannot think of someone more deserving of this award than Kristen.

Congratulations, Kristen, and may your spirit of ability shine on in each race, college course, and onward.

Submitted by: Micah / Ability Voice Blogger
Category: News / Announcements
Published: Jul 22, 2014
Colonel, Wing Commander, and BraunAbility CustomerJul 15, 2014
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Two of the three words in the title have an obvious relationship, but the third is just as descriptive in the case of Ernie Coleman. Earnest “Ernie” Coleman is a long-time military man and BraunAbility customer with quite a few stories under his belt. He was recently featured in a blog post by his local dealership, ADA Pasadena. Once we read his story, we had to talk to him ourselves.Ernie in Uniform

Ernie grew up watching footage of WWII fighter pilots flying into battle before the movie would start. Sometimes, he said he would go to the theater simply to watch the war footage of pilots flying instead of the movie itself! He made up his mind, he would become one of those pilots.

To say he accomplished that goal would be an understatement. In his 22 years of service of the United States Air Force, Ernie became Wing Commander of F-111 fighters at an air base, as well as reaching the rank of Colonel in 15 years. He flew close to 200 combat missions during the Vietnam War, some in the F-100 Super Sabre and the remainder in the F-4 Phantom II.

A short while before he made the rank of Brigadier General, the unthinkable happened. While on a training flight, he and his co-pilot encountered several mechanical issues that resulted in the duo ejecting from the plane. The harsh landing injured Ernie’s spine, leaving him paralyzed from the chest down.Ernie and Ralph

He lost his promotion to Brigadier General, but his story is far from over.

I don't worry about the little things I can't do,” said Ernie. “But I look at something I really want to do and figure out a way to make it happen.

In the 32 years that Ernie has been in a chair, his legacy has only grown. Both of his sons have had careers in the air force as well, but something that’s pretty remarkable about Ernie is his mechanical prowess.

Ernie has owned 2 BraunAbility vans, 5 vans outfitted with Braun lifts, and over 10 of Ralph’s own Tri-Wheelers. BraunAbility hasn’t made Tri-Wheelers in quite some time, so Ernie and his sons work and maintain them themselves. The family has a lift in the garage that allows Ernie to get to eye level with his Tri-Wheelers and do the work.Ernie and Ann

“I had a Permobil powerchair for a while, and people started treating me differently, so I went back to the Tri-Wheeler,” he said.

The same principle goes with his minivans as well. He said he has shopped for other brands and has test-driven many models, but always comes back.

“I wouldn’t have anything other than a Braun,” he said.

Thank you, Ernie, for your dedication and service to our country in your military career, and thank you for staying with us here at BraunAbility. It’s an honor to make our products for people like you.

Submitted by: Micah / Ability Voice Blogger
Category: Customer Stories
Published: Jul 15, 2014
College Tips for Students with a DisabilityJul 07, 2014
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As a recent college graduate, I feel like I am finally entitled to give some advice to all of the other students who are either about to start their foray into higher education, or are maybe only a year or two into it. I know I received much in the way of guidance from fellow college students and grads, and while I didn’t listen to it all, it certainly helped me when I did. Today, I shall begin to impart my wisdom to the next generation, but I want to do so to a different audience: students with a disability.

College is an incredible time. It is filled to the brim with new experiences, different people of all varieties, and it is a chance to learn both book smarts and some practical wisdom. All of these things are equally important, and should be pursued. Only obtaining book smarts is not necessarily a waste of your time and money, but it is a waste of an opportunity that you’ll never have again. During my time in college, I was able to interact with people from Russia, Korea, Ghana, and more on a daily basis. I learned much about myself and American culture from learning about them and theirs. I won’t probably get to do that again either. It was also a time of numerous first experiences, both personally and socially. Jeremy Watts with his Frat

So with this in mind, here are a few things to consider as you go into your freshman year or transfer to a different institution.

There is no Special Ed. in college

In college, everyone goes to the same classes. No exceptions. If you have a disability, bear that in mind. Your lecture could be a hall full of hundreds of other students, or a small room of ten classmates. Either way, it is up to you to plan accordingly and take whatever steps are necessary to succeed. If you need to sit close to the front, show up early. If homework takes longer for you, find a quiet place on or off campus and devote the time it takes. In the classroom, some accommodations may be made, but you’ll still be graded on the same level and scale as your peers.

Talk to the Administration Office about your needs

Though the classroom may be level playing grounds, there are rules that the college must abide by to make sure you have full access to the college life. Colleges cannot ask you about them on entrance forms, but you can mention them on your About Me sections. They will not affect your acceptance to the college either, that will still rest on your academic record. That said, there are accommodations that the college must make for you, and they should be made for you free of charge. Have a service animal? You may be entitled to a single room. In a wheelchair? They will place you in a dorm with an elevator. Hard of hearing? They will supply a sign language translator. Tutors, writing centers, and more are always available to you as well. These accommodation policies extend to extracurricular activities as well.

Talk to your Disability Support Services (DSS) office

Some institutions have a Disability Support Services office that will be your go-to place for anything you might need. Some colleges have differing names for this office, such as Disabled Student Services, Access Services, or the Office of Accessibility. Seek them out and let them know your needs.

Start Slow

Your first semester in college should be started with a smaller course load. College classes are not like your high school courses, and they take a bit of adjustment to get used to. Start with a smaller course load, and take classes in different departments. Experiencing new studies by taking different classes got me to change my major to what I graduated in, and now work doing. Take advantage of that freedom to learn new things and explore. What you find might surprise you.

Failure isn’t an end

College is harder than people expect it to be. In high school, I never got a grade lower than a B, and let’s just say that wasn’t the case in college. I also withdrew from a class and dropped other classes. College gives you the freedom to do these things, and do consider using these tools if you need to. Abusing them could be bad as well, but even with dropping and withdrawing, I graduated Cum Laude, and you can too.


For more tips for college, check out the book, 100 Things Every College Student with a Disability Ought to Know by Kendra Johnson and Trudie Hines. If you have some tips of your own, please leave them in the comments below!

Submitted by: Micah / Ability Voice Blogger
Category: Customer Stories
Published: Jul 07, 2014

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