The Access Strength: Truly Inclusive Exercise Equipment

Rosemarie, Ryan Eder & The Access Strength
By Rosemarie Rossetti

Exercise is a top priority for me and my husband, Mark Leder. We have been regular members of the YMCA in Gahanna, Ohio since it opened in 2004. In the cold months, I am there about twice a week and less frequently in the warm months. I was involved with their adaptive fitness program in 2005 and had fitness instructors that helped me to learn how to use the equipment, in the gym, more effectively. In 2006, I enrolled in the warm water Pilate’s class and hired a swimming instructor in 2015 who taught me how to swim laps, using five different strokes! Also that year, Mark and I hired a personal trainer to show us how to use additional exercise equipment, creating a program for each of us to follow.

As much as I enjoyed all of these activities, they came with challenges and frustration of trying to access and use much of the standard exercise equipment designed for non-wheelchair users. The difficulty that I have had working on exercise equipment, especially early on, was transferring from my wheelchair to each of the pieces of equipment. I would notice black and blue marks on my legs on occasion, at places where my leg would hit a seat during the transfer. There were only a few pieces of equipment that I could use from my wheelchair. I also found it cumbersome to put pins in the weights to adjust the equipment and sometimes even the lowest weight setting, was too difficult for me to lift.

I’m excited to announce that there is a new piece of universal design exercise equipment now on the market that is without the obstacles that I (and many others) have encountered in the past! It was designed for people of all abilities, including people like myself, who use a wheelchair for mobility. I have known the inventor, founder, and CEO of IncludeHealth, Ryan Eder, for many years and am amazed at the technology that he has created.

Ryan started as a design student at the University of Cincinnati when he happened to notice a man in a wheelchair, working out at the gym. After observing him, Ryan noticed that the gentleman spent more time transferring and adapting to the equipment than actually working out. This moment became the focus of his senior thesis which led to designing the inclusive workout system, The Access Strength. Ryan describes his 10-year journey here.

This strength training equipment is not for the home gym but rather for rehabilitation centers, hospitals, orthopedic, and care centers. The Access Strength inclusive functional trainer allows a person to do hundreds of upper and lower body exercises from a seated or standing position.

I was fortunate to have worked with Ryan, from the early days when he was designing this equipment. I find it easy to use from my wheelchair and especially like the feature to increase and decrease the weight that I lift by simply turning a knob. The adjustments are in five-pound increments. This equipment fuses inclusivity, fitness, technology, data, and healthcare integration into a digital health platform focusing on physical medicine,
rehabilitation, and wellness.

IncludeHealth is an internationally awarded digital health company leveraging technology, data, and design to transform health and wellness. Offered through a monthly subscription, The Include Platform pairs HIPAA compliant cloud software with accessible fitness equipment to produce better outcomes with lower barriers and costs through features such as outcomes-based data collection, automated documentation, cloud collaboration, and inclusive design.

With $6M in development to disrupt the industry, The Include Platform has garnered over 20 issued patents and 18 international design + health awards including winning Best in Show in the International Design Excellence Awards twice! Other one-time winners include Apple, Nike, Microsoft, and Tesla.

So you are probably wondering how you have the opportunity to use this innovative equipment. If you are interested in learning more about The Access Strength or how to have it installed at a facility, please contact Ryan Eder at

We all know that fitness has to be a priority especially for those with mobility challenges. By being proactive, we can change our fitness environment to accommodate our needs so we can focus our efforts on being the best we can be, in the New Year and many years to follow!

To learn more about the author, Rosemarie Rossetti, visit

Enjoying Temperature Independence In Your Own Home

By Lucy Lawrence

There’s a lot to be desired when it comes to accessible housing. According to The Atlantic, only 40% of homes are accessible, meaning it can be a tiring experience for wheelchair users to find somewhere appropriate. The good news is that this trend is set to reverse and make heating the home an easier prospect than ever before.
Through the past few years, technology has aided independent living for wheelchair users, and to boot, the Justice department awarded $11.3m in damages against a housing provider found to have shirked the accessible building rules. Finding independence in the home is getting easier. One key reason for that, is the ease with which the home can now be heated.

Employing smart technology

One of the greatest obstacles to feeling truly independent with the climate in your own home, is the accessibility of technology. Old fashioned boilers/furnaces are often inaccessible and arcane in their design, and the thermostats that go with them are inaccessible and non-intuitive. Modern technology has comprehensively solved this challenge.

Rosemarie Rossetti: Tips on Tackling TEDx and Universal Design

We at, were thrilled to have the opportunity to catch up with the dynamic Rosemarie Rossetti, after delivering her powerful TEDx presentation. We learned about her journey and tips for those considering such a challenging endeavor.

mW: Could you tell us a little about your background?

On June 13, 1998, my husband Mark Leder and I went for a bicycle ride on a rural wooded bike trail in Granville, OH. After riding for a few minutes, Mark thought he heard a gunshot and slowed down to investigate.  As he scanned the scene he saw a large tree falling. He shouted, “Stop!” But the warning was too late. Instantly, I was crushed by a 7,000 pound tree and paralyzed from the waist down.

mW: What is your profession?

Speaker, trainer, consultant, and author

mW: What are you passionate about?

My family and my work.
Universal Design Living Labratory
mW: Do you have any current projects?

Coming home from the hospital in a wheelchair, I realized how my home intensified my disability.  My husband and I knew that we had to sell our home and find something more suitable. We decided to build our home and the Universal Design Living Laboratory was born. This has been the catalyst for many of my projects.

Smart Home Tech for Smart Women

By Lucy Lawrence

It wasn’t long ago that the mere thought of a ‘smart home’ conjured up images, reminiscent of a science fiction novel. Today, smart technology has infiltrated our homes in countless ways, making them more accessible and safer, especially for approximately 20% of American women who are living with a disability. It is important for women in wheelchairs to make their homes accessible, in order to remain as independent, as possible. Achieving such a level of accessibility, is becoming increasingly easier, thanks to smart home technologies that makes it significantly more attainable to make any dwelling substantially more accessible.

Smart Speakers

The popular Alexa and Google Home smart speakers, have become technology that has revolutionized life at home! These voice activated devices can perform essential tasks such as ordering groceries, turning lights on and off, even adjusting a programmable thermostat. At a reasonable price considering the benefits, they can provide an unbelievable amount of independence.

Not "Even With" but "Thanks to" My Disability

By Janira Obregon

Soon after I was born, my mom knew that there was something wrong because, unlike most babies, I was not moving my arms nor legs. After speaking to different doctors, I was finally diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy and Spastic Quadriplegia, a disability that affects my four limbs, due to a brain injury at birth. 

There have been times in my life where things got complicated, but despite that, I kept pushing forward to be the best I could be. There are people who think that because I have a disability that I need special accommodations for everything or I won’t rise to the occasion, and that’s not true. There are also people who support and believe in me and the things that I can do. 

Designing A Safe Kitchen for Wheelchair Users

By Lucy Lawrence

There are around two million new wheelchair users every year in the United States and that means that many homes are having to be redesigned to ease access and comfort. Of the rooms that make up a home, one that is particularly important to renovate is the kitchen, because consuming a sound diet is key for improving outcomes for many conditions and home cooking is therefore necessary less expensive and fun!  Some changes will cost more than others, so if you are looking to make changes, decide what budget you have and start off with those that will make the biggest difference, in terms of your comfort and safety.

Accessible Furniture Height

If you are starting out with an empty kitchen space, bespoke carpentry is ideal. Tabletops, sinks, dishwashers and cupboards can be built lower to ease the cooking and cleaning process. Low tabletops are key for safety, since you will be able to clearly see and control items you are chopping or heating. Low lying cupboards, meanwhile, will reduce the chance of pots and pans or other items falling out and causing possible injury. 

Whether you are building new or modifying an existing kitchen, it is important to do your homework. Often products that are specifically made for disabilities are extremely expensive so research existing products that may work for you.

Following ADA/ANSI Guidelines

The ADA and ANSI give important technical guidelines on how to make kitchens and other areas more accessible to wheelchair users. There are many resources available such as The Universal Design Toolkit to assist you with your design. A clear floor space of at least 30” by 48” should be provided at each kitchen appliance. Wheelchair turning spaces, meanwhile, should have a diameter of at least 60”. Include knee and toe clearances in your calculations. You can get really creative when starting a kitchen design from scratch. For instance, if you have a limited space, you can opt for design features such as sliding central islands, in which half the table can be pushed under the main tabletop to create more space for wheelchair users.Try to find a contractor with accessibility experience who can help with design ideas too.

Choosing the Right Appliances

Your furniture can adapt to the equipment you choose so these should be taken into account and discussed, at the planning stage. Refrigerators and other appliances should have one-hand operation to comply with ADA requirements. Dishwashers should ideally have electronic capacitive touch controls located on the front of the machine so that reaching over isn’t required. Cooktops and any other operable part of equipment should have a front location and mirrors can be added above, to make it easier to see what you are cooking. Washers and dryers should be front-loading and have wide doors and eye level controls.

Important Note:The plumbing of sinks should be placed far back so you can wheel underneath. It's imperative that exposed pipes are insulated to protect your legs.Temperature controls can be added so the maximum temperature can be set low enough to prevent burns.
Creative Thinking

Think of ways that will make the cooking process more amenable. One creative use of
Cabinets with Pull-out shelves
space, involves a pull-out system for electric stove tops; combine this with a low height and it will be very easy to keep an eye on the meals you are preparing. Kitchen drawers that completely pull out and allow you to hang pots vertically instead of horizontally, are another fantastic way to avoid the need for reaching over to obtain or store items. Cabinets for keeping cans, plates, and glasses will most likely be up on the wall above your work table. Ease access to these items with a lever that you can easily pull down to lower the shelves containing these goods.

There are also a multitude of gadgets such as mini food processors that can make everyday tasks much easier and safer.

Inspiration can be found everywhere for easier kitchen accessibility. When space isn’t an issue, design is a breeze. You can build an open kitchen with low-lying furniture and specialized equipment. If a big renovation isn’t in your plans, small changes can still make a difference. When you are in the design stage, let safety and comfort come first; whipping up the perfect meal should be easier and more pleasurable than ever.

"Tiphany" - A Short Documentary

By Stephanie Cole 
When you meet Tiphany Adams, the last thing you notice is her wheelchair. The vibrant, playful, positive energy that radiates off of her tends to take front and center when you’re in her presence. It’s an energy you can feel when watching her, and one director, Justin Ferrato, was able to capture in the new short documentary film, Tiphany.
Justin – a Brooklyn-based filmmaker behind such shorts as Kill The Witness and The Mess We’re In, as well as a producer at HBO – wasn’t looking to shoot a short documentary. He’d been called in by a mutual friend, photographer Kai York, to create a behind-the-scenes film for a model that he’d recently booked. It wasn’t until Justin showed up on location, just outside of Las Vegas, that his intention for making a film began to evolve.
As I got to know Tiphany between set-ups and throughout the day,” Justin reminisced during a recent interview, “I felt incredibly energized from her positivity. She had this passion and fun, a playful exuberance that radiated through everyone on set.”

So Is There A Politically Correct Term?

By Wendy Crawford and the mobileWOMEN Team

Recently, my husband and I were sitting outside and having a random conversation. I don’t remember the exact context but he caught me off guard when he asked me “What is the correct term to refer to someone with a disability?”. Keep in mind that we’ve been together almost 15 years and I have been paralyzed for over 34 years. Also, his daughter has Muscular Dystrophy and uses a wheelchair too so I was thinking to myself, “Geez! If he doesn’t know, who does?”. What was even worse is that I really didn’t have a straight answer for him.

This prompted me to look up the definition of “disability” in the Mirriam-Webster dictionary and was a little disturbed to find the following: “A physical, mental, cognitive, or developmental condition that impairs, interferes with, or limits a person's ability to engage in certain tasks or actions or participate in typical daily activities and interactions.” Okay, I get that I do have a spinal cord injury that causes some huge challenges but just because I may have to go about things differently, doesn’t mean that I am “limited” and “cannot participate in daily activities and interactions.”

When I think of the friends that I’ve made on this crazy journey since my accident, I feel as though they aren’t limited, at all. In fact, the contrary. They do have obstacles which everyone does, in one way or another but have risen to meet and overcome them to be productive, not to mention, generally happy, members of society. They are undoubtedly resourceful, creative, organized problem-solvers who are incredibly strong, resilient and CAPABLE. They can still do the same activities that those without a disability can do, whether it be work, drive a car, play a sport etc. but differently. “Differently-abled” is a term that I’ve heard recently that seems to convey this message.

Body Image Research: Highlighting the Voices of Women with Physical Disabilities

By Erin Thomas, MPH, CHES
Erin Thomas, Researcher

Body image is a hot topic in the media. For example, we often hear about body image in stories about teen social media use and the “war on obesity.” What we don’t often hear about are body image concerns among people with disabilities, or their inclusion in body image movements.

People with disabilities often have differences in appearance and body function that might affect body image. Even so, they tend to be left out of relevant research. Given that 1 in 5 people in the world have some type of disability, this seems like a major gap.

This summer, I lead a research study that I hope will begin to fill that gap. The goal of my study was to understand the perspectives of women with physical disabilities about body image and health.  To meet this goal, I did face-to-face interviews with 15 women via Skype or FaceTime. Doing so made it easier for women from all over the country to participate in the study. I asked broad questions, such as, “What does ‘body image’ mean to you?” and “What about your body do you like the most?”

Study participants were between 21 and 53 years old. They came from diverse racial, ethnic, and educational backgrounds. They had many different types of physical disabilities including cerebral palsy, spina bifida, various genetic conditions, spinal cord injury, and amputations with and without the use of prosthetics. Despite these differences, many women shared similar ideas and experiences, described below.

10 Day Accessible Trip to Beautiful Bali

As mentioned in a previous article, is thrilled about an exciting new partnership with Travel for All, a travel agency specializing in accessible travel. These mobileWOMEN understand firsthand, the challenges of traveling with a disability and have the knowledge, experience and passion to create a memorable vacation, custom designed to your specific wants, needs and budget.

Travel for All will also be organizing accessible trips that we will feature on our site and will be listed in our "Travel Opportunities" . They can also handle any of your traveling needs and have generously offered to donate a portion of the profits of each trip booked through our site, to Although all of us including our contributors volunteer, we still have operating expenses such as annual website and domain fees, to cover. These funds will be used towards these expenses and improving the site. If you are interested in a trip and want more information, please contact Accessible Travel Specialist, Tabassum Chagani at or call toll free at 1-888-993-9295. 

The next exciting accessible trip organized by Travel for All

10 Days Accessible Bali

A journey through the island of the gods! Balinese culture is embedded in a breathtaking countryside of volcanoes, tropical forests, green paddy fields and the blue ocean.

Power to the Protein

By Patty Kunze, RN, BSN and Roberta Palmer, RN

Please note: This article was written for those with spinal cord injuries but applies to all those in need of protein for muscle growth and wound healing. 

Let’s face it…. a discussion on protein is not on everyone’s top of their list but it’s a subject which should be at the forefront of our food choices. PROTEIN is a topic for us with spinal cord injury.  It’s a component we cannot live without.  Tissue healing, muscle building, and bone growth cannot occur without that important component.  A bit of protein should be consumed with each meal and high protein, low carbs is the new name of the game. 

What is Protein?

Protein is essential for life. It plays critical roles in:

  • Making tissue, including muscle, skin, hair & nails
  • Producing enzymes, which control almost all chemical reactions in your body
  • Making hormones, which act as chemical messengers in your body
  • Making antibodies, which boost your immune system and protect your body from infection
  • Converting to glucose to act as an energy source if there is an inadequate supply of carbohydrates
Proteins are made up of building blocks called amino acids. There are 22 different amino acids, all of which are necessary for good health. Foods such as chicken, turkey, beef, pork, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds & legumes (beans & peas) are rich sources of protein.

Strength & Conditioning Training and Fitness Motivation!

By Lucy Lawrence
mobileWOMEN's Cheryl Price using the Vitaglide
Everyone needs exercise, but it's especially important that wheelchair-mobile women get a regular workout because it helps maintain good spinal posture and muscle tone. New research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that only 57% of American adults with limited mobility exercise regularly, while those who do maintain consistent physical activity are 50% less likely to develop a range of diseases and medical problems, including higher rates of stress and mental illness. Fortunately, women who use wheelchairs for mobility, can tap into a range of health and wellness resources for their basic health and help them to focus towards a fitness plan modified to fit their individual needs.  

Announcing an Exciting Partnership and Trip to Spain and Morocco!

Travel is a learning opportunity that everyone should experience. New cultures, cuisines, sights, and sounds provide countless opportunities to indulge and stimulate the senses. Not only does being in another country expand your knowledge and intercultural awareness but it is also a journey of self-discovery and adventure!

Fortunately, many countries are seeking ways to create diversity and inclusion for travelers with ‘Specific Requirements’ and providing many accessible options. It’s important to remember though, the world is not 100% accessible; however, if you are okay with a few bumps in the road, anything is possible! is thrilled to announce an exciting new partnership with Travel for All, a travel agency specializing in accessible travel. These mobileWOMEN understand firsthand, the challenges of traveling with a disability and have the knowledge, experience and passion to create a memorable vacation, custom designed to your specific wants, needs and budget.

Lindsey Becker: Meant To Shine

Lindsey Becker is an Entertainment Journalist currently living in Tennessee. Lindsey is a wheelchair user who was born with Spina Bifida. Growing up, she was on the first ever "wheelcheerleading" and dance team and through her involvement in the Spina Bifida community and being a participant of the ABLE Youth program, she had opportunities to travel all over the country at a very young age. She went on to study Early Childhood Education at Middle Tennessee State University.

In 2007, Lindsey met her husband, Wes, in a very “meant to be” way, and they began their life together in middle Tennessee. Wes is a medically retired Marine Corps veteran who is also a wheelchair user due to a motorcycle accident. Although they had met one other time in 2005 shortly after Wes’ accident, fate intervened again and they were reintroduced through Lindsey’s roommate who just happened to be a friend of Wes’ too. Lindsey and Wes married in 2009.

No Limits: How to Get Started Exercising!

Regular Muscle Exercise Could Help Reduce Pain & Disability Associated with Lower Back Pain 
By Lucy Lawrence
 Ahhh…nothing like beautiful summer days. Gathering with friends and family for picnics, barbeques and road trips to favorite vacation spots, become the priority and next thing we know, our schedule is jam-packed until September. Unfortunately, sometimes our fitness regimen gets put aside when actually, it’s an ideal time to get moving and enjoy the outdoors.

Exercising has amazing benefits: It relieves stress, releases mood-boosting endorphins and increases self-esteem. If you have limited mobility however, you may think that it is too difficult for you to exercise. Fortunately, this is not the case; regardless of age and physical condition, there are many ways to make exercise a part of your life and enjoy its many, many benefits.

Before you start, no matter how you feel, remember to get medical clearance from your primary doctor. Also, it is helpful to get a baseline of your general health so you can measure your progress later on. Talking to your doctor about any concerns or doubts, will help you feel more secure and confident. If you are unsure where to begin or what exercises would be appropriate, consider reaching out to an exercise professional, as they can guide you to avoid injuries and have more effective workouts.

Fusion: The UK’s First Inclusive Professional Ballroom Showcase

Fusion cast with Rashmi Becker (3rd from left) Photo: Stephen Wright Photography

Fusion, the UK's first inclusive Latin and ballroom dance showcase with disabled and non-disabled artists, has been making headlines and leaving audiences demanding more. Presented by pioneering UK dance company Step Change Studios (covered in one of our previous articles), Fusion premiered at the internationally renowned home for dance in London, Sadler’s Wells, in May 2018. Fusion Producer and founder of Step Change Studios, Rashmi Becker talks  about Fusion and invites reflections from two of the dancers from the show.
Redefining the Genre by Rashmi Becker

My vision for Fusion was to bring together talented professional artists from different dance backgrounds to push the boundaries of ballroom with beautiful, powerful, performances that redefine the genre. Fusion featured leading choreographers from London’s West End, and popular television shows including Dancing with the Stars, and showcased 20 disabled and non-disabled artists through duets, solos and group numbers. As UK talent, I wanted to provide a platform for the world’s best and was delighted to include the first UK performance by wheelchair dancer, Pawel Karpinski and his standing partner Nadine Kinczel, from Poland, who hold European and World competitive ballroom dance titles.

Let's Talk About Suicide and Disability

By Bethany Hoppe

Christine Mason Miller said, “At any given moment you have the power to say: This is not how the story will end.” A recurring theme for the last two years has been high-profile suicides in conjunction with a dramatic spike in the national average of suicide and suicide attempts. Given the gravity and level of surprise at last week’s two celebrity losses, the media has finally begun to focus its lens beyond the alarming statistics that we’ve known about since 2016, and steer towards a conversation about the root cause of the issue. According to the CDC, the suicide rate has risen 30% since 1999. Half of those are linked to mental illness, and 15% to depression.

The disability community has not gone untouched by suicide as a population, or by one of its own high-profile members with the loss of Verne Troyer. But unlike public reactions to suicide by high-profile newsworthy personalities, public reaction to suicide by people with disabilities, celebrity or not, commonly border on understanding and condoning, rather than grief and prevention. According to a Disaboom study, 52% of American survey respondents would choose death over disability. There is an overlying sense that the choice to end one’s life was simply based on the fact that they were disabled to begin with, and it is accepted as reasonable. This reinforces that living with a disability is not quality of life; people quickly decide they could never deal with having a disability themselves, and the hardships to survive in what seems to be an un-accepting and inaccessible world is too much for anyone based on the evidence. So silently, lost lives become justified simply because a world that is perfectly capable of accommodating everyone, is yet to fully integrate the largest minority in the world.

Staying Safe During Your Hospital Stay

By Lucy Lawrence

In a previous article, we covered some preparations and what to expect when going to the hospital for surgery. Staying in the hospital can be an uncomfortable affair, but more importantly, it can be dangerous. Going to the hospital for any length of time, exposes you to a variety of diseases that your immune system may not be up to handling. Medical mistakes are also commonplace, making up the third leading cause of death in the United States. There’s only so much you can do to prepare, prior to your hospital stay, to protect yourself from infection and medical malpractice but you can minimize the risks by being proactive. There are a couple of pointers that you should keep in mind, during your visit, to ensure that your recovery goes smoothly.

Pay Attention to Medications

Often, you’ll be placed on several different drugs when staying in the hospital. It’s not uncommon for pills to look alike or have similar names, leading doctors and pharmacists do make mistakes in prescriptions. Staffers may also make mistakes in dosages, reading micrograms (mcg) as milligrams (mg) or vice-versa. Before taking any medication, it’s a good idea to ask your nurse what it does, why it’s necessary, and what dosage you need. You should also ask about any side effects that you may experience.

Shoot for the Stars - How I Became an Entrepreneur

By Tabassum Chagani

I am the youngest of three siblings, and grew up in a large, multi-generational house in Karachi, Pakistan. I immigrated to Canada in 1994 and have lived in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia since then.

My dad had a very entrepreneurial spirit. In Canada, we think nothing of popping into a Loblaw’s or Safeway for groceries, but a large western-style supermarket was a very novel concept in Pakistan, in the 1990s. He was the first one to start a self-serve supermarket in Karachi. I strongly believe that I have inherited my fathers’ entrepreneurial spirit; I hope so. I have enrolled in the Self-Employment Program at the BC Institute of Technology, and am working to establish my own Accessible Travel business. I am an Accessible Travel Specialist and work with a home based travel agency called Travel for All, Inc

Like other Pakistani children, at the time, I was also immunized for polio as a child by oral polio vaccine. I took the drops but contracted polio, nevertheless, at age one. It was either a bad batch or it was just not working. I still got polio. It started as a flu-like illness and, by the time the symptoms subsided, my mother found I didn’t want to move. The doctor said, “Well, it’s unfortunate, but your daughter’s been paralyzed in one leg by polio.”

The Travel Trifecta

By Patty Kunze, RN, BSN and Roberta Palmer, RN
Now that spring is finally here and summer vacations soon will be upon us, the nurses at "The Rollin’ RNs" were talking about the response of our spinal cord injured bodies, in environments outside of our own safe havens. It’s a funny thing, we all expect our bodies will “mind their P’s and Q’s”, when actually they go into an odd state following time spent outside our usual environments, especially when traveling. It’s always helpful to discuss these offbeat occurrences with other mobileWOMEN and we discover we that are not alone. But a long car ride, a night of chilliness, and numerous conversations with able-bodied standers can cause a trifecta of disturbance, in our otherwise normal state. So, we decided to pen an article not only to the SCI population, but also to all mobileWOMEN who are unaware of this occurrence.

The first topic of the trifecta, is the extended car ride. Eight to nine hours in a car on a drive, is about the extent of our tolerance. Anything longer and we get squirmy. So, we try to keep our travels to 8-9 hours but sometimes they may stretch to 10 hours and that is exhausting on any body. Couple that with sitting in a foreign seat (other than usual wheelchair) for that time period and it all makes for an aggravated body, especially the back and neck.

Rivals or Friends: Tamara Mena Conveys an Important Message in her Easter Seals Disability Film Entry

By Tamara Mena

Producer of See BeyondTV, actress, speaker, model and influencer, Tamara Mena participated in the Easterseals Disability Film Challenge for the first time as a producer and actress, co-starring with the beautiful model, Dru Presta! Her short film “Rivals or Friends” is here and we want to share it with all of you. If you believe in their message of empowerment and inclusion, please share their short film, not only support them in the challenge but to inspire change in the media and promote people with disabilities. 

Learn more about it from Tamara:

How did the film come to be? Well, I already knew that I wanted to do this challenge, but I was so nervous and kind of overwhelmed about the whole process! Last year, I was intrigued by it, but I didn’t come up with an idea or team, in time, to do it... This year, I became more intrigued because I have been working hard to develop my acting skills over the past year, by attending UCB Upright Citizens Brigade in Los Angeles, one of the best schools for comedy and improv and doing other acting workshops! 

So I thought this could be a great challenge for myself but for a while I did not have a team nor idea at all! My friend, a great actor in a wheelchair, Joe Kibler, was supposed to be my director and help me write this, but then he was booked for an acting gig and said he couldn’t do it… So I kind of got discouraged because I thought I may not be able to execute the project alone. I seriously prayed about it and asked God to help me find the right people to help me do this! 
Behind the scenes - Photo by Chris Matysuk

Home Security and Safety Advice for Domestic Abuse Survivors

By Nora Hood
Image via Pexels

Domestic Abuse: The Facts and Figures

Domestic abuse is a serious problem we don’t talk about often enough. Abuse can take various forms. It can be physical, emotional, or financial. The common thread through each of them, is how the abuser uses their power to hold the abused hostage, in their own homes. While survivors span through all gender identities, females suffer from intimate partner violence at higher rates than males-- an estimate 85 percent of domestic abuse survivors are women.

Other shocking statistics regarding domestic abuse include:

     Over 38 million women experience physical intimate partner violence, in their lifetimes --  that is one out of every four women.

     Every day in the United States, three women are murdered by a current or former male partner.

     Black women experience domestic violence at rate 35 percent higher than white women.

     Women who experience domestic abuse are eight times more likely to be murdered by their partner, if there is a firearm in the household.

     In 98 percent of domestic violence cases, financial abuse also occurs.

     A transgender person of color is 2.6 times more likely to experience intimate partner violence than a non-LGBT person.

     A woman is 70 times more likely to be murdered by her abusive partner in the weeks after leaving.

     Those living with disabilities are more likely to experience violence and abuse than people without disabilities.

Searching for Independence

By Louise Sertsis

It's been my experience in the past, especially when traveling that I felt as though I was thrust into a pre-kindergarten era - a time where everything is done for me, instead of letting me explore, navigate and learn. Sometimes, I felt my voice was no longer heard. I seemed invisible to everyone except my husband, who is bombarded with impending questions from the airport staff. Initially, when I was coping with my disability. I was offended as frustration built, and I bit my lip, and screamed inside. I realize that most people just want to be helpful and time is tight due to the airline schedule but sometimes society has a lack of knowledge regarding inclusion of all abilities.

Frustration was a familiar response to situations that occurred, once Multiple Sclerosis started really affecting me. I used to be filled with pent up anger and shame, which completely changed who I was as a person. After many years of solitude, I was gradually able to channel these feelings into a positive. When I started using and seeing my circumstance in a new light, things started to change for me. While I still value my alone time, it's much more gratifying leaving my comfort zone, meeting new people and being the best version of me that I can be. It was challenging at first, but I'm doing things now that I never thought possible.