I am Barb Most, and my first contact with South America for All was a trip to Ecuador/Galapagos and, later, to Peru’s Machu Picchu. I have a progressive neurodegenerative disease, very similar to Lou Gehrig’s disease, called Multiple Systems Atrophy, a rare brain disorder. It affects mobility by paralysis, ataxia, and incoordination. I had the limited use of a walker during my trip to Ecuador, but for the Peru trip I was mostly limited to a wheelchair.
Prior to my diagnosis, I was an active professional as a medical device auditor, which required travel both in the United States and abroad. I also had a busy personal life with my husband, son, and grandchildren, including hunting, fishing, and travelling. Then everything changed, but we decided we hadn’t lost our sense of fun and adventure or of our love of family travel.
South America for All provided the support and framework to travel with mobility impairments by planning for accessible restaurants, transportation, and hotels. They use custom designed wheelchairs for ocean beaches, rainforests, and the stairways of Machu Picchu. South America for All made the impossible possible, and also gave my husband and me the courage and confidence to plan other trips with our family.
Find out more about how South America For All offers tours to various South America destinations that are accessible by wheelchair users by reading the factsheet.
My name is Supriya Limbu and I live in eastern Nepal. I am a 12-year-old girl with cerebral palsy diplegia. My house is on a remote hill, adding more challenges in my day-to-day living.
I had a dream to go to school like other children, but because of my disability and difficult geographical terrain, it remained only a dream. I was in need of support from my family members even to go to my kitchen and to use the toilet.
When the Inspire2Care programme of the Karuna Foundation was introduced in my village, it opened ways to fulfil my dream. The programme helped my family to modify my living surroundings, including the construction of ramps from my room to the kitchen, front yard, and toilet. And the provision of a wheelchair has changed my daily living tremendously!
I am also going to school now, but my grandfather has to carry me on his back for more than half an hour each way as there is no road where a wheelchair can pass. I am growing and my body is changing, thus carrying me is becoming a challenge. In school, however, I have received a special chair, though I still need support to go to the toilet. Many friends come to speak with me and to offer help, and the teachers are friendly too!
I am happy with all these possibilities and changes :).
Find out more about how Karuna Foundation created more awareness about the importance of disability-inclusive societies by reading the factsheet.
I am Ramu, and I run a musical troupe along with my wife and my three brothers (who are also blind, like me). We’ve never received any formal education, but we have all learned music. We formed this troupe last year, when our father, a daily wage labourer, passed away and we were not able to run the household with the disability pension we received.
The music troupe has helped us to utilize the skills we’d developed over many years. However, we had no idea where we’d perform, so we would perform on roadsides, and people would pay us whatever they thought fit. We got only a few hundred rupees – not enough for all of us.
When I told my friend about this problem, he made me call Namma Vaani, and I knew I had found the right platform for me and my family. Through Namma Vaani, I heard stories of other persons with disabilities who had found solutions to overcome their barriers and had become financially independent, and I received advice on how my brothers and I could live a life of dignity and independence.
When I decided to record a clip about my troupe, offering to perform at events, I wasn’t expecting much out of it. After all, why would people listen to me? Imagine my surprise when we booked six events within one month – all through Namma Vaani! We earned 30,000 rupees, finally enough money to arrange for a critical operation for my niece, who was rapidly losing her eyesight.
I still post frequently on Namma Vaani. We have five more events lined up, and I’m sure we’ll get many more in the future. I started this journey thinking that as long as I could earn money, I would be fine, but I found something much bigger – dignity. I now have a platform where I can speak and be heard, and I now actively seek out the opportunities I want, instead of waiting for opportunities to be given to me.
Find out more how Namma Vaani developed a mobile phone-based information sharing service about accessible opportunities in rural India by reading the factsheet.
“A vocal-tactile paving system for the independence of visually impaired people.”
My name is Giulio Nardone, and I am blind. As the National President of the Italian Association of Visually Impaired People, the goal of my last 40 years’ activity has been to increase the autonomy of visually impaired people in all circumstances of their lives.
As a blind person, I soon learned to move on my own, recognizing obstacles through my white cane. The real problem, however, has always been to move around in wide-open areas without natural guides. In 2013, in cooperation with the company JKJ srl, we added to every tactile tile a Radio Frequency Tag (created by myself back in 1995) that can send vocal messages to my smartphone and headphones using a special white cane.
Using this new version of tactile paving, called LVE System (Loges-Vet-Evolution), it is much easier for me to follow a path, to know the exact point where I am, the name of streets, the location of the several services on my route, and even the hours of operation. Before LVE, all this was impossible. This now allows me to be totally independent, as I do not need anyone to escort me in order to move freely within the city. Once the system spreads to stations, airports, hospitals, and public spaces, the problems of orientation and security of visually impaired people will be progressively solved.
Read more about how JKJ Srl and Associazione Disabili Visivi Onlus help persons with visual impairments to navigate safelyby reading the factsheet.
“I have memorized my evacuation map, and my neighbours better understand my needs and whereabouts.”
My name is Rosmawati, aged 45, and I am blind. As a woman who lives at home, I used to be a victim of any natural disaster that came upon us. Also, being on my own, when I was out of the house I would run into anything in front of me, such as walls and trees, and I would even fall into a trench and end up in the hospital. Therefore, in times of a disaster I would usually just stay in front of the house waiting to be evacuated by volunteers. But most people are busy evacuating their own family before they can think of helping us persons with disabilities.
After attending the workshop held by FKM BKA, however, I now have more knowledge about how to evacuate myself in times of emergency. I have memorized my evacuation map, which way I should run, and how I can save myself in the event of an earthquake or tsunami. But more than that, now my neighbours have begun to understand my needs and whereabouts in the village, so that in case of disaster I will not be left alone.
Interestingly, I was also informed by the government that if I must go to a refugee camp, I will receive special needs support. So now I can be a little more calm – ready and resilient to face disaster.
Find out more about how FKM BKA created inclusive evacuation strategies by reading the factsheet.
“Now I am managing my own automobile repair agency.”
My name is Shashika Chathuranga. I am 33 and married. I was very keen on becoming an automobile mechanic and had an opportunity to engage with a well reputed automobile repair agency in Buttala. One day, however, I got a headache and fell down, and it turned out that I was partly paralyzed for a while. After having received therapy, however, I am now capable of walking and of working with my right hand. However, this situation resulted in my unemployment, which was a very hard experience since I had a family to take care of.
Even though I could still use my skills in automobile repairing, agencies were reluctant to hire me because of my disability. I decided, therefore, to open my own repair agency at home – with the great assistance of my wife. The one problem was that I needed funds to buy tools, and that is where the Disability Inclusive Programme of the Uva Provincial Council came to my assistance. Now I am managing my own agency, and I am planning to extend my services further to the Okkampitiya city area as well.
When I became paralyzed, I thought it was all over for me and nothing was possible. Now I want to emphasize that nothing is impossible!
Read more about how the Uva Provincial Council is improving universal inclusion in Moneragala by reading the factsheet.
“I want to be my own boss and not depend on others.”
My name is Joaquim José Chicava and I am 30 years old. I have a hearing impairment and I live alone. I started a course in civil metalworking in July 2016 and I graduated in December after six months of training. I was then invited to work as a paid intern in Young Africa’s Department of Metalwork for three months. At the end of my internship the head of Young Africa’s carpentry department contracted me to produce metal structures for furniture, such as school desks and chairs. Following this, I was contracted again by the head of the department to build porches for a church and for several homes.
The money I earn from this work allows me to buy food, clothing, and to build my own home. It also allows me to help my maternal aunt and my grandmother. I am currently working on the production of the metal structures for 30 chairs suitable for wheelchair users.
With the work I am doing at the moment I am perfecting the skills and knowledge I acquired during my time at the Young Africa training centre. Now that I have these skills, my dream is to open my own business to provide services in the field of welding, such as the production of metal gates, ovens, windows, sheds, and other structures.
Read more about the reasons why Young Africa started their project of making training centres accessible by reading the factsheet.
“I really feel that Friendship Park was the breakthrough for inclusion for Avital.”
My name is Ilana Grunberg and I am the proud mother of seven-year-old twins Avital and Ayelet and their sister Maya, who is ten.
Avital is very bright and tri-lingual (English, Hebrew, and Dutch), and in her free time she loves to paint, bake, and play with her friends at Friendship Park in the main city park in Ra’anana. She is known for her gorgeous smile, which captures everyone’s heart. Avital also has cerebral palsy and uses a walker and a wheelchair. She attends second grade at a normal primary school and goes to Beit Issie Shapiro daily for therapeutic treatment and afternoon activities, where she meets with other children with cerebral palsy. When Avital was in kindergarten she participated in one of Friendship Park’s social and educational inclusion programmes. Together with her typically developing peers, she learned about different types of disabilities and how to make the environment accessible to children and adults with diverse disabilities. Avital participates in all the social community events that take place at Friendship Park, and what her experiences at the Park have taught her is that trying again, speaking to everyone, believing in the good in people, and believing in herself builds a community that is inclusive of everyone.
I really feel that Friendship Park was the breakthrough for inclusion for Avital. Through this community project we learned that we have many friends who join us in making our city a place for everyone.
Read more about how Beit Issie Shapiro has developed the country’s first accessible and inclusive playground by reading the factsheet.
“I can still enjoy my passion for live Heavy Metal.”
My name is Christina and I am 45 years young. I live in a small village close to Hamburg in northern Germany. Since 2008 I have been restricted to a wheelchair, which has changed the way I live my life. Or that is what I thought until I met a group of volunteers who have given me back my mobility to go almost anywhere and to enjoy the freedom of festivals and concerts!
They are called “Inklusion muss laut sein!” Thanks to them I can still enjoy my passion for live Heavy Metal! Attending the Wacken Festival is no longer a problem for me in a wheelchair. For “Inklusion muss laut sein!” it doesn’t matter if it is raining and the ground is so wet that you are up to your knees in mud. The volunteers carry me in my wheelchair through the worst conditions to get me to the performances. They are the best group of people you could ever have helping you.
This year I was at a live gig that was on an old ship with no accessibility measures. Normally, it would not have been possible for a wheelchair user to attend, but as usual the volunteers from “Inklusion muss laut sein!” carried me onto the ship.
I get the help I need with even the smallest of things, like getting food or going to the toilet – the team is always there to help me. I can´t thank them enough. Without you, life would be only half so good.
Read more about how “Inklusion muss laut sein” has provided a buddy service for persons with disabilities to enjoy music festivals by reading the factsheet.
“I began to see that my daughter could thrive in school and in life.”
My name is Travis Harker and I am the father of a girl with dyslexia, a lifelong condition that makes it difficult for her to read. She first began noticing in kindergarten that her peers could read better than she could, yet she continued to love learning. But over the next few years, despite working very hard, she lost confidence and began to resent school. My heart broke when she came home one day in tears and asked, “Why is everyone in my class smarter than me?”
I felt lost and helpless. I was losing the vibrant, inquisitive, intelligent daughter that I knew. I was worried about her future and felt like a failure as a parent. I felt powerless to help her – until I found Understood.org.
Understood provided information that helped me navigate the school system. With Understood’s resources, I learned how to advocate for my daughter and how to partner with her school to get her the support she needed. Back then, I felt so alone. I blamed myself and was afraid to talk with my friends and co-workers about her challenges. But through Understood, I found a community of families just like mine. It was comforting to know that there were other parents with similar experiences and to hear that their kids were able to succeed.
Most importantly, Understood gave me hope. I began to see that we’d be OK – that my daughter could thrive in school and in life. Today, my daughter loves school and learning. She is once again the curious, fun-loving girl I’ve always known.
Read more about how Understood.org has created a free comprehensive website resource for parents of children aged 3–20+ with learning and attention issues by reading the factsheet.