Page 1

JAN-FEB 2018


Shaquem Griffin: The


UCF Knight’s One-Handed Superstar


AmeriDisability January/February 2018


In This Issue

Publisher & Editor - Florida Sheila Mahan Mailing Address AmeriDisability Services P.O. Box 620728, Oviedo, FL 32762 Contact Phone: 1-888-405-3860 Fax: 1-888-308-8024 Contributors Nancy DeVault, Haley Brittingham, Tiffiny Carlson, Kevin Walker Advertising & Subscriptions Ad Material Submission Deadline February 5th for the Mar/Apr Issue

Cover photo courtesy of: University of Central Florida

BECOME A CONTRIBUTOR AmeriDisability magazine welcomes article submissions and story ideas. Promote an upcoming event, share your story or suggest industry news topics regarding people with disabilities. Contact us at

Inclusion - Universal Design 9

Universal Design for Learning


Universal Design for Everyday Living


Home Designer Gives Green Light to Accessible Blueprints


Temporary Ramps to the Rescue

In the Spotlight 20

Meet Shaquem Griffin: The UCF Knight’s OneHanded Superstar


Home Improvement Grants & Loans Afford Needed Renovations


Center for Independent Living: Creating Opportunity for Disability Inclusion


Accessible Accommodations are Just a Click Away


Jason DaSilva: Filmmaker, App Creator and Loving Father

Around Town 36

Local, state and national events, conferences, expos and more

Nov/Dec 2017 issue correction: On page 12, the source cited should read TechCo.

Industry News 42


Understanding Section 508 & WCAG 2.0 Standards for Your Online Presence


AmeriDisability January/February 2018




AmeriDisability January/February 2018

National Donor Day February 14

AmeriDisability January/February 2018



AmeriDisability November/December 2017


Universal Design for Learning According to the National Center on Universal Design for Learning, individuals bring a huge variety of skills, needs, and interests to learning. Neuroscience reveals that these differences are as varied and unique as our DNA or fingerprints. Three primary brain networks come into play:

Universal Design for Learning promotes the inclusion of all learners, including those with disabilities. To learn more about Universal Design for Learning, theory & practice, guidelines, curriculum, technology and other resources, visit the website at:

Sources: National Center on Universal Design for Learning: CAST: AmeriDisability January/February 2018



Universal Design for Everyday Living Principles of universal design according to the Center for Universal Design: 1. Equitable Use - A useful and marketable design for diverse abilities. 2. Flexibility in Use - A design that accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities. 3. Simple & Intuitive Use - Easily understood design and use. 4. Perceptible Information - A design that communicates necessary information effectively to the user. 5. Tolerance for Error - A design that minimizes hazards. 6. Low Physical Effort - A design that is used efficiently and comfortably. 7. Size and Space for Approach and Use - A design that allows appropriate size and space is provided for approach, reach, manipulation, and use.

Accessible public restroom. 10

Accessible kiosk at Southwest Airlines. AmeriDisability January/February 2018

Ramp and stairs.

Building evacuation.

PulseÂŽ Table Tennis Model #186568

North Trail RV Center.

Concrete stairs with grey granite and anti-slip groove and steel gutter cover at the botton. Yellow tactile paving to assit pedestrians who are blind or visually impaired. AmeriDisability January/February 2018


Wheelchair accessible pool design.

Wheelchair accessible picnic table. Public water fountain.

Universal plug by Swungwoo Kim, Yanko Design.

Moen grab bar doubles as a paper holder. 12

AmeriDisability January/February 2018

Tilting sink by Gwenole Gasnier. Right Angle Stair Handrail, Yanko Design AmeriDisability January/February 2018



Home Designer Gives Green Light to Accessible Blueprints By Nancy DeVault Susan P. Berry is an architectural consultant offering frameworks for both residential and commercial construction with an emphasis on accessibility. Armed with over 30 years of experience and association with the American Society of Interior Designers and the American Institute of Building Designers, Susan developed two


AmeriDisability January/February 2018

businesses: Disability Smart Solutions, which provides ADA guidance to companies, and Susan Berry Home Design, offering consultation to individual consumers seeking residential accessibility. Stepping Stones Susan’s passion for accessibility sparked during architectural school. But personal influences were really the building blocks to establishing her niche. She encountered mobility limitations following an injury, the parent of a child with special needs and caregiver to her wheelchair-bound mother. “I broke my ankle and twisted the other and I had to [temporarily] use a wheelchair. And, so, I started realizing all of these things that just didn’t work [for people with disabilities] and get overlooked,” Susan recalls. Later, while caring for her mother, Susan was stunned that businesses – like hair or nail salons and even dental offices – refused to provide services to her mother if she couldn’t transfer herself from the wheelchair to the service chair. “I saw how spaces don’t work [for all] and I became passionate about both residential and commercial design.” The Comforts of Home

safety seating, removing toilet closet walls to create transfer space or lowering cabinets. “We want to design a beautiful room that is function without looking like a hospital bathroom, and retain resale value,” she says. “It’s looking at the individual’s abilities and figuring out what can be down within the budget to make the home work for that person and their caregivers.” Susan also encourages her clients to consider future needs that may arise, such as from degenerative diseases or disabilities (like multiple sclerosis), aging or a growing child. Making Facilities Operational Earlier in her career, Susan contributed to large-scale universal design projects at Walt Disney World Resort and corporations including Victoria’s Secret and Bath and Bodyworks. Through Give Kids the World Village, a nonprofit resort serving children with life-threatening illnesses and their families, Susan says: “I learned how to build rooms for individuals that perhaps were on a gurney versus a chair, or had other needs, so I gained a better understanding of how additional space is really needed and varies.” Overtime, she’s noticed a positive shift within the corporate section to attempt to go beyond existing (and somewhat minimal) ADA standards. “People are finally becoming aware that accessibility is

Many builders now proclaim to offer “universal designed homes,” but Susan says that there is no one-size-fits-all solution, especially since “children grow and adults change.” So, how can Susan Berry Home Design help? “Let’s say you go to a large [new home] builder and you pick out one of their plans. We’ll review the design and talk to the person with the disability, the caregiver and maybe the physical or occupational therapist that might have additional input. We’ll take all of that and do some sketches, notes and suggested products to adjust the home to work accessibly,” Susan explains. Sometimes that includes widening hallways, changing bathroom layouts and recommendations for home security and color identification to “make spaces easier.” Susan, who renovated her own 1950s home to aid her mother, often works with clients who are newly disabled and in need of home modifications. Clients often seek consultation for ramps, doors and turning bathrooms into complete wet rooms. “Each person with a disability is different. So we ask personal and detailed questions about how they do daily tasks to figure out what they need, what they can do without and what’s the budget to make it happen.” For example, she recently improved kitchen functionality for a 6’4” client with a spinal cord impairment who had pain when bending. She installed a heightened kitchen island and repositioned appliances so he could continue to cook without arching his back. For a different client facing mobility restrictions following a fractured hip, she assessed the ceiling tresses to determine if lift installations could work. Spaces can be transformed, for example, by eliminating a Aging in place and universal design solutions for homes. spa tub to allow for a larger walk-in/roll-in shower with AmeriDisability January/February 2018 15

important. Wheelchair users are only five percent of the disabled population. Twenty percent of Americans have some type of disability, and in Florida statistics are even higher as a ‘retirement state.’” But, of course, there is always room for improvement and she hopes to see advancements with architectural adaptions. “Many architects were trained to think in terms of space; so they see [wheelchair] transfer space, but not how a person really functions within the whole room. Architects are watching [out] for the developers’ budget by not adding an [accessible] item; so thinking they’re saving the developer money, [but] really this could open you up to ADA litigation,” suggests Susan. For example, she recently reviewed the design of a bed and breakfast. Unfortunately, it was designed to meet standards applicable to apartment buildings rather than ADA codes for lodging facilities. “There is a lot of confusion when it comes to accessibility codes of different types of buildings, and there are also federal and state codes,” explains Susan, who hopes for better compliance. Based in Central Florida, Susan says that, for the most part, Orlando-area hotels, conference centers and theme parks are conscious of accessible needs. However, aesthetic trends present complications. She says, “Everyone seems to want big, tall beds which are not at transfer height, so people with a disability need a lower bed and that has been a challenge with hotel owners.”

Unfortunately, some public places and offices are less aware of accessibility requirements. For example, she says, “It’s common for restaurants to store extra chairs in hallways which makes it non-accessible as a 36-inch path.” Through Disability Smart Solutions, Susan works with companies on accessibility such as with surveying and compliance. Plus, she facilitates training and workshops on an array of ADA topics like disability customer service, service dogs and various architectural barriers. Gold Standards for Golden Years Seniors may develop newfound limitations, but Susan says good home design is limitless. She aims to improve functionality and safety. A senior client with arthritis, for instance, may need modifications because of narrowed hand mobility. “We can use levers versus handles on doors knobs and sink handles; also change out cabinetry handles and lower closet rods,” Susan says. Seniors can update handrails, peep holes, lighting (i.e. ceiling vs. lamps, enhanced brightness), flooring (i.e. slip resistant, rug removal to prevent tripping, level walkways) and generally declutter. “For bathrooms, I like to use a standard shower head as well as a handheld because it makes it so much easier to bathe and also clean the shower, and also use comfort-height toilets.”

Movable barriers block the accessible handrails at the entrance to a store. Many times employees actions create accessibility obstacles. 16

AmeriDisability January/February 2018

For those residing in a two-story home, relocating to a downstairs bedroom is ideal. However, some may opt for a stair-lift or personal elevator. Through Disability Smart Solutions, Susan facilitates an ‘Undercover Senior Customer Experience,’ in addition to an ‘Undercover Disabled Customer Experience,’ to aid corporate teams with customer engagement and compliance because “great customer service is the easiest way to gain loyal customers and avoid disability discrimination lawsuits.” For more information, visit (business) and (residential) or call (407) 331-4855. •

AmeriDisability January/February 2018



Temporary Ramps to the Rescue Storefronts Made Accessible Thanks to StopGap Foundation By Tiffiny Carlson

Luke Anderson, Co-founder, StopGap Foundation 18

AmeriDisability January/February 2018

”Did you know that the electric toothbrush was originally designed for someone with limited use of their hands? When we design something for someone with a disability, everyone benefits,” says Luke Anderson, a C5-6 quadriplegic from Toronto. He’s also a civil engineer and the co-founder of the StopGap Foundation, a non-profit bringing accessibility to the world. When you have an engineering background, your brain tends to work a certain way and this was certainly the case for Luke. Growing up, Luke was athletic, and he fell in love with mountain biking in his teens. "I moved to the interior of British Columbia because it's known as the best place in the country to mountain bike.” But in October 2002 at the age of 25, Luke’s world changed. “I was riding with a really good friend of mine on a trail that involved jumping a big 25 foot wide gap. It was on that ride when I tried jumping the gap after watching my friend Johnny successfully doing it. I came up short, flew over the handlebars and landed headfirst breaking two vertebrae in my upper spine." Although the injury was difficult, he went on to graduate from the University of Waterloo. In 2007, he began his career working as an engineer, working for a large firm in Toronto. While working for this firm for several years, there was a temporary ramp situation, which made it impossible for him to get into his job or leave independently. "The ramp worked but it was definitely not ideal because it meant that I needed to rely on someone to help set up the ramp."

his city that began by painting bicycles bright colors, he wanted to do the same to wheelchair ramps. "In October 2011, myself and some friends pulled together a bunch of volunteers and some building materials and we built 13 bright red, green, blue, and yellow deployable access ramps for businesses in Toronto’s Junction neighborhood. The goal was to raise awareness about physical barriers that prevent many people from becoming fully engaged in their communities." These thirteen ramps have changed the world. Within two years, interest in their initiative exploded and they became a registered Canadian charity. "Our ramps are temporary and are to be used upon request. As such, they do not need to adhere to building codes. Business owners take on the responsibility and any risk associated with using the ramp, they sign a waiver agreeing to use it on a request basis." The ramps have a 1:6 rise to run ratio, they have textured, slip resistant paint and they have rope candles. To acquire a StopGap ramp for your business, you can do so through their Ramps on Request program, or by participating in their Community Ramp Project. Ramps cost between $300 - $600 depending on the height of the step. If you'd like to purchase a ramp, you can contact the StopGap Foundation at For mor information visit:

After seeing a viral campaign about bicycle awareness in

AmeriDisability January/February 2018


In the Spotlight

Photos courtesy of University of Central Florida AmeriDisability January/February 2018 20

Meet Shaquem Griffin: The UCF Knight’s One-Handed Superstar By Nancy DeVault The UCF football team recently wrapped up an undefeated 2017 regular season… Go Knights! For linebacker Shaquem Griffin, it was the perfect climax to his senior year. It’s not the first time, however, that the St. Petersburg native beat the odds to come out victorious. His skills – both on and off the field – are exceptionable but, because Shaquem has just one hand, he’s constantly worked to prove himself. And that he did… perfectly. First Quarter During pregnancy, parents-to-be Tangie and Terry Griffin learned that amniotic bands entangled Shaquem’s wrist. Born two minutes after his twin Shaquill, Shaquem was born with amniotic band syndrome with an underdeveloped hand. The condition was extremely painful. “Everything I touched burned,” he recalled in an interview with ESPN of his early years. Hoping to end his agony, then 4-year-old Shaquem attempted to selfamputate his hand using a kitchen knife but, luckily, Tangie intervened. She immediately scheduled his amputation surgery. During recovery, Shaquem anxiously awaited getting back to football. And his father was eager to coach him. Terry admitted to being “hard” on the boys because of their potential and he never let Shaquem use his disability as an excuse. Terry was creative with his motivation; for example, he built an L-shaped brace so Shaquem could bench-press. Aside from sports, Shaquem also appreciated the arts. He played the baritone and, with Shaquill, performed with a dance team. “After football practice, we used to practice choreography,” he recalls. Practice made perfect for most everything they did. The two were jointly named Tampa Bay Track and Field Athlete of the Year by the Tampa Bay Times. And football offers came surprisingly early. Shaquem expected resistance from scouts due to his disability but says, “I got my first offer in my sophomore year of high school and it kept coming from there.” Second Quarter Accustom to being a pair, Shaquill turned down offers from high-profile colleges that wouldn’t grant his brother a football scholarship too. Unfortunately, some scouts only saw Shaquem’s amputated hand… and not his whole being.

The duo enrolled at the University of Central Florida. Shaquill suited up for game days while Shaquem redshirted, meaning he attended classes and team practices but didn’t compete. When Scott Frost replaced long-time UCF head coach George O’Leary in December 2015, Shaquem got his chance. “I wondered how he could function with just one hand,” Frost admitted in a Yahoo! Sports interview. But, “After two practices, it wasn’t even an issue.” Wearing the #18 jersey, Shaquem was about to become a UCF legend. Third Quarter In 2016, the 6’1” 223-lb. junior started all 13 games as outside linebacker and dominated. Shaquem’s season included a total of 92 tackles (and a team high of 57 unassisted tackles), 11.5 sacks (the sixth most in a season at UCF) and was ranked 12th in the nation in sacks and 13th in tackles. He was named American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year and earned First Team All-Conference honors! Then, his brother Shaquill was selected by the Seattle Seahawks in the third round of the NFL draft. Thus, Shaquem’s senior year would be his first without his twin

AmeriDisability January/February 2018


by his side. He kicked off the season earning way onto four pre-season watch-lists for national awards: Butkus Award for best linebacker, Nagurski Trophy for Defensive Player of the Year, Bednarik Award for best defensive player and Wuerffel Trophy for achievements on and off the field. Additionally, thanks to his volunteerism with the Boys & Girls Clubs, AAU track club and motivational speaking at schools and hospitals, Shaquem earned a nomination for Allstate AFCA Good Works Team which honors student-athletes for outstanding community service.

press time for this issue of AmeriDisability Services, Shaquem was preparing to compete with UCF in the Peach Bowl against Auburn. Afterward, he’ll start “training again and getting ready for the next level.”

The final big win? An undefeated senior season, of course! Regarding the unprecedented success, Shaquem shared, “It’s an amazing experience. Not just being on the field but off the field. You get love from the students and everyone that supports UCF.”

While Shaquem is humble and downplays his future in football, we’d double down that this single-handed superstar gets drafted. And perhaps sibling rivalry will turn into genuine competition. Or, maybe the Griffin twins will suit-up in Seahawks gear together. Regardless, Shaquem hopes he’s inspired others with impairments. “You can do anything you set your mind to and put the work into,” he says. “There are no limitations to what you can do! The only thing that can stop you is yourself.”

Fourth Quarter 22-year-old Shaquem holds a degree in human communication and is working on second major in interdisciplinary studies with a minor in sociology. At

Does that mean the NFL? “I am blessed to play [now] and that [NFL] is not the main focus. My whole thing is just to give everything I got,” he says. “The people making the choices about me playing [in the NFL], well it’s up to them. At the end of the day, if they want me to play, they’ll choose me.”

Photo courtesy of University of Central Florida AmeriDisability January/February 2018 22

Abstract No. 1


In the Spotlight

Home Improvement Grants & Loans Afford Needed Renovations By Nancy DeVault Home makeovers are costly, even if the purpose of renovations is to improve household accessibility. Fortunately, eligible homeowners may benefit from Single Family Housing Repair Loans and Grants. Facilitated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and also known as the Section 504 Home Repair program, this government aid can afford “very-low-income homeowners to repair, improve or modernize their homes, or grants to elderly very-low-income homeowners to remove health and safety hazards.” What does that mean? Basically, the USDA wants to help residents stay in good-quality homes. AmeriDisability Services reached out to the USDA to learn more about the Section 504 Home Repair program. Here’s what you need to know: The Program’s Foundation The building blocks of this effort may surprise you. In 1949, Section 504 of the Housing Act authorized loans and grants to improve the safety of farm dwellings. Overtime, eligibility expanded and, in 1983, the program was deemed to serve very-low-income homeowners in general with rural residences. Today, on average, $26 million for Section 504 loans and $28.8 million for Section 504 grants is distributed nationwide per year. In Florida alone, in fiscal year 2017, $1,076,000 was allocated through a combination of 182 loans and grants. How Can You Use Section 504? The purpose of Section 504 is not to achieve the trendiest or most elaborate interior design but, rather to achieve needed repairs and modernization and/or remove hazardous conditions that jeopardize the wellbeing of occupants or others. Projects, for example, may include: • Health and safety standards (i.e. roofing, electrical wiring, plumbing, water/septic systems, etc.) • Home accessibility (i.e. installation of ramps, shower grab bars, etc.) • Energy-efficiency (i.e. insulation, heating and cooling, etc.) 26

AmeriDisability January/February 2018

Who Does Section 504 Serve? While Section 504 now serves beyond the farming population, it is geared toward rural communities in addition to seniors. Applicants should: • Own and live in the home as a primary residence. • Not be able to secure credit from a conventional lender or bank. • Have an income below 50 percent of the area median income. • For grants, be age 62 or older and not capable of loan repayment. [There is no age criterion for loans.] • Reside in eligible service area. Within (rural) population limits, the program is available nationwide. To explore eligibility, search online at http:// or contact the USDA office at 1-800-670-6553. How Much Money is Available? Loans are limited to $20,000 to repair, improve and modernize homes or remove hazards. They have a 20-year term at a 1% interest rate, compared to conventional home repair loans with interest rates averaging over 4.5%. Grants cap at $7,500 (title service fees may apply) and are exclusively for health and safety hazard removal. Grants

must only be repaid if the property is sold in less than three years. If applicants can repay part, but not all of renovation costs, a combination of a loan and grant may total no more than $27,500. The Section 504 Home Repair program is available yearround (without deadlines) as long as funding remains available. For additional information, visit (search key word Section 504 Home Repair).

BECOME A CONTRIBUTOR AmeriDisability magazine welcomes article submissions and story ideas. Promote an upcoming event, share an inspiring story or suggest industry news topics regarding the elderly and disabled community. Contact us at

AmeriDisability January/February 2018


In the Spotlight

By Kevin Walker Working with the community, the Center for Independent Living (CIL) promotes inclusion of people with disabilities by eliminating architectural, communication and attitudinal barriers and providing education, resources, and training to enhance self-determination through informed choice. Its serves seven counties in the Central Florida area: Seminole, Orange, Osceola, Polk, Hardee, Highlands, and DeSoto. CIL works to improve the lives and maintain the dignity of people with any kind of disability regardless of demographic. Because every person is unique, CIL offers a variety of programs that help to stabilize and enhance the lives of the clients it serves. The Aspire to Hire program helps people with disabilities train, secure, and maintain gainful employment. StepAhead prepares young adults with disabilities for post-high school education or to enter the workforce. The DeafVoice program helps the Deaf Community communicate and navigate the challenges they face on a daily basis. Foundations to Freedom helps to ensure the independence and accessibility people need to remain their homes and access the community.

Foundations to Freedom is CIL’s most requested program and at any given time, there are roughly 200 people on the wait list for ramps, significant home modifications, and adaptive equipment such as wheelchairs, shower chairs, flashing doorbell ringers, and vibrating alarm clocks. As funding and equipment becomes available staff coordinate with clients to fulfill those requests. This year, CIL is working hard to reduce the size of the wait list in order to more immediately meet the needs of our community. From projects large to small, Foundations to Freedom’s goal is to keep people with disabilities living safely and independently in their homes, and the ability to access and be a part of their community. If you or someone you know is in need of a home modification or adaptive equipment simply call the Center for Independent Living. CIL’s Foundations to Freedom team can be reached by phone at 407-623-1070 or online at

In the last year CIL’s Foundations to Freedom program has provided the home modifications and adaptive equipment necessary for over 400 people to live safely and independently in their homes. “Each person who contacts CIL first speaks with one of our case managers to ensure all their needs are being met.” Says CIL’s Operations Director, Charlotte Merritt, “If they require accessibility services that CIL provides such as a home modification or assistive equipment, they are contacted by a member of the accessibility department to schedule an evaluation. Sometimes additional CIL services are required so the individual will be referred to another program within the agency for further assistance. If we cannot provide the necessary service, we connect the individual with a referral to another organization that better matches their need while following through to ensure the person receives the outcomes they want.”


AmeriDisability January/February 2018

February Heart Health Month AmeriDisability January/February 2018


In the Spotlight

Accessible Accommodations are Just a Click Away

By Nancy DeVault

accommodations proved to be difficult throughout the world.

Traveling can enhance your life on many levels. You may see different things, meet interesting people and, perhaps, even shift your perspective by learning something new. Two lifelong friends from England experienced these wonderful benefits. However, because they each have spinal muscular atrophy, a genetic disorder that affects the control of muscle movement, they unfortunately also experienced frustrations pertaining to accessible accommodations. The Start-Up In 2011, Srin Madipalli took a life-changing European road trip. “I was able to go adaptive scuba diving in Bali, wheelchair trekking in California and even on safari in South Africa,” he says. “While I knew I was incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to travel like this, I quickly discovered how difficult and time-consuming it could be to plan a trip with a wheelchair.” He relied on social media, personal recommendations and various accessible sources but found that securing distinctive accessible 30

“The worst was arriving at an accommodation advertised as accessible, only to find steps up to the front door! I’d also have to research accessible tours and excursions at each new location,” he explains. Such hindrances began to impede his joy of traveling – a feeling he suspected was shared by others with disabilities. Madipalli decided to improve accessible travel. So, to fill the gap, the London-based lawyer boldly turned his passion into a new full-time profession. “I quit my job and taught myself to code,” Madipalli explains of learning how to create a system of online commands and communication. In 2015, he and friend Martyn Sibley co-founded Accomable, an online booking platform that houses accessible accommodations worldwide including homes, apartments, swaps and other rentals. The mission: To make accessible travel as easy, simple and straightforward as possible.

AmeriDisability January/February 2018

Accomable produced 1,100 listings in over 60 countries, inclusive of high-quality photos and detailed information of accessibility features! How It Grew In 2008, years before Accomable, three men in California established an innovative, first-of-its-kind start-up. Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia and Nate Blecharczyk couldn’t afford their rent so they launched a modest website to lease their loft to travelers. The effort became Airbnb, now considered the go-to marketplace for various types of privately-owned rental homes. Airbnb now has 4 million listings worldwide throughout 65,000 cities. Airbnb strives to “connect travelers seeking authentic experiences with hosts offering unique, inspiring spaces around the world.” Many travelers love the company; in fact, 260 million guests have used the service. Yet, a Rutgers study – which analyzed six months of data in 2016 – found that Airbnb “hosts were less likely to preapprove, and more likely to reject outright, the requests from travelers with disabilities than requests from travelers without disabilities.” Surprising? Maybe not. Acceptable? Definitely not. Airbnb is committed to addressing these findings. A statement on the company’s website read, in part, “While we have rules that prohibit discrimination against people with disabilities and an Open Doors policy that helps ensure everyone can find a place to stay, it’s clear that we can do more to effectively serve people with disabilities.” They went straight to the expert source for help and, in November 2017, Airbnb acquired Accomable.

“I am leading our efforts to build upon and improve our accessibility features and filters at Airbnb. We will be working with the community to improve these continuously in the coming months to ensure guests with disabilities can quickly and easily identify accessible listings, which suit their needs, on the Airbnb platform,” Madipalli confirms. And he’s focused on developing new policies and features to ensure accessibility information is as accurate as possible. Feedback from both travelers and hosts (via email: is welcomed and encouraged. Airbnb is exploring other ways to make its platform more user-friendly for all. For example, it partnered with Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired to research website design and ease of use. And it is rumored that, in the future, Airbnb could expand to also encompass accessibility experiences which, as Madipalli shared, is a time-consuming element. Madipalli is serving on Airbnb’s Diversity and Belonging team to ensure that the company’s environment remains positive for professionals with disabilities. “As part of this, I’ll be helping create new initiatives to increase the numbers of disabled applicants,” he says. Happy traveling!

Madipalli recently transitioned to the role of Accessibility Product and Program Manager at Airbnb. He relocated to San Francisco, Airbnb’s headquarters, and continues to work with his London-based Accomable staff, which includes team members with disabilities. “I think this is very important to ensure we have the right expertise and understanding of accessible travel and the issues travelers with disabilities can face.” What’s Next? Listings on Accomable remain active but, eventually, the site will cease and redirect to Airbnb. “Our mission at Airbnb is to enable anyone to belong anywhere something we will be relentlessly pursuing in the months and year ahead,” says Madipalli. Prior to the acquisition, Airbnb only listed “wheelchair accessible” as an option for travelers with disabilities, whereas Accomable itemized more than a dozen different accessibility features. Recently, Airbnb announced plans to implement a fresh “accessibility needs” checklist for hosts to create more detailed listings, such as designating entryways as step-free, doors as wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs and more. AmeriDisability January/February 2018


In the Spotlight

Jason DaSilva Filmmaker, App Creator and Loving Father

Jason DaSilva By Haley Brittingham A person is not defined by what they look like or how they speak but by their unique thoughts, perspectives, and vision unseen by others. Jason DaSilva has used his imagination to create visually and emotionally appealing films that have won multiple awards. He has also used his experience to help others by creating an application used all over the world. Documentary Filmmaker Jason DaSilva is filmmaker who studied at the Emily Carr University of Art and Design and graduated at 21 with a film, Olivia’s Puzzle, that was welcomed to the Sundance Festival in 2003. Being one of the youngest at the time who was accepted into Sundance, he recalls how surreal it was to be there and how it led him to work with major networks such as HBO and PBS. Between the ages of 21 and 25, he produced four films - an impressive number in the film industry. At the age of 25, DaSilva began having difficulties with his vision and mobility. In 2005, he was diagnosed with primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS). Clearly, 32

this was a huge shock but rather than giving up his passion for filmmaking he decided to turn the camera around to share his own story through the transitions of having PPMS. In 2013, he released the Emmy Awardw i n n i n g d o c u m e n t a r y W h e n I Wa l k h t t p : / / This film recounts a seven-year journey from when his symptoms started setting in, learning to adapt, and trying to maintain his sense of self while relying on others for help. It is a film that delivers the authentic aspects of slowly losing one’s mobility while also providing those moments that everyone needs, disability or not, of being uplifted by loved ones and community members. When I Walk showcases a man, who experiences and shares his emotions while trying to continue with his life as a documentarian. DaSilva didn’t stop creating films and has been working tirelessly on another documentary film, When We Walk Much has happened in the years since 2013 for DaSilva, and once again he is documenting his life but now with a focus as a father who has a degenerative neurological disease. In the first film, we

AmeriDisability January/February 2018

learn about his relationship with his wife and the happiness his son Jase brings to his life. In this film, he also shares the impact of family dynamics including divorce and the role that played in his adolescence as well as in his marital relationship. Most importantly, When We Walk spreads the message of an eternal love a father has for his son. DaSilva walks us through new barriers faced by a parent with a disability who just wants to be around his son. He highlights issues such as the presently controversial healthcare system and inadequate accessible transportation. Similarly to his first film, When We Walk will bring awareness to disability rights and the importance of inclusion in all aspects of society. Be on the lookout for the release of this film in September of 2018.

AXS Map Throughout DaSilva’s journey of learning to live with PPMS, he has increasingly become aware of the limitations of transportation, particularly in major cities but also around the world. With emerging technology such as the iPhone 3G in 2009, he realized he could use his design skills to create a tool that would be a database of accessible places. DaSilva mentions that he failed a few times at first, but eventually he began working with a great team of developers and were allotted a grant from Canada to launch their website and application. AXS Map uses open source data to provide users the ability to review public locations such as restaurants and stores for their accessibility. AXS Map is available online https:// and it is available as a free app for both IOS and Android users - AXS Map v2. Users of all abilities are invited to review public places with regards to spaciousness, entrances, bathroom and other attributes such as guide dog friendliness. Additionally, you can add comments and photos. To help spread the application and increase the number of reviews, people can host a Mapathon which leads to a fun and engaging way to give back. Reviews such as this are “the gamification of social good” as DaSilva states because it offers people with and without a disability to contribute to society by helping others learn about places that are accessible. The application has over 160,000 reviews worldwide and continues to grow. Each year, Google employees participate in a Google Serve event which includes hosting a Mapathon and competing against each other to see who can review the most! DaSilva's work has caught the attention of another major organization, the United Nations, and is currently preparing for a large Mapathon in Vienna, Austria and Indonesia to gather data for accessibility in those regions.

Not only has DaSilva been working on the When We Walk film, but is simultaneously creating and acting in a featured film called The Dismantled http:// In this series, he portrays a person, named Billy, who is quadriplegic as a result of having a United Nations (UN) Committee Member degenerative disease. Billy is tired of having to rely on DaSilva is branching out to help people in other ways by others for help and shares the reality of having multiple promoting disability rights around the world through his sclerosis in a “world that encourages [people with work with the UN. DaSilva is an expert committee disabilities] to be complacent.” With this, Billy decides to member of the UN Monitoring and Evaluation of use his new identity to smuggle drugs across the border. Disability-Inclusive and Development. This committee DaSilva shares that this series is “Breaking Bad Meets tracks information about accessibility around the world Disability.” Watch the trailer and stay tuned for the among other topics. They have sustainable development release of this compelling film! AmeriDisability January/February 2018 33

goals, and DaSilva is assisting with an element within the fourth goal, which is ensuring that any and all children with a disability have access to an accessible school. In February of 2018, the UN will be hosting the World Urban Forum in Malaysia, where discussions will take place regarding the acutest issues as a result of increased urbanization. During this time, DaSilva will be presenting AXS Map and will host a Mapathon. Jason DaSilva humbly shares that he is a bit shocked by how big AXS Map and his movies have gotten and at times it can be a bit intimidating. When asked about changing perspectives, he frankly mentions that the road to acceptance is hard, and even him, who continues to pursue his passions, struggles with sliding back into the “anger and depression stages” but “seeing the impact [his] films and AXS Map has had really helps.” Stay up to date with the release of the When We Walk and The Dismantled as well as an updated version of AXS Map by following Jason on social media - @jdasilvax.

Employs people with disabilities in the Metro Orlando area, West Central Florida and the Panhandle. T: 321-632-8610 34

AmeriDisability January/February 2018


Subscribe Today!


Around Town March 4, 2018 Big Kahuna Paddle Challenge - Florida Disabled Outdoors Association & Sportsability Maclay Gardens, Tallahassee, FL (See ad page 40) March 10, 2018 Birmingham Parents Special Needs Expo Pelham Civic Complex, Birmingham, AL

March 24, 2018 Fight For Air Climb - American Lung Association Bank of America Center, Orlando, FL (See ad page 41)

March 25, 2018 An Evening Among Stars Disability Fashion Show Cultural Arts Center, Silver Spring, MD

January 27, 2018 8th Annual Dan Marino Foundation WalkAbout Autism & Expo Hard Rock Stadium, Home of the Miami Dolphins Miami, FL

January 30, 2018 ATIA Conference 2018 Caribe Royale Hotel and Convention Center, Orlando, FL

April 4, 2018 Autism HWY Chalk Festival Heritage Plaza Park, Covina, CA

March 4, 2018 Boating & Beach Bash For People With Disabilities Spanish River Park Boca Raton, FL (See ad next page.)


AmeriDisability January/February 2018

April 8, 2018 Around the Park for Autism 5k Cascades Falls Park, Jackson, MI

May 12, 2018 Cast for Kids James River, Richmond, VA

April 12 - 14, 2018 Sportsability - Florida Disabled Outdoors Association April 12 - Opening Ceremonies & Miracle Sports Miracle Field at Messer Park April 13 - Resource Expo & Indoor Activities Tallahassee Community College April 14 - Outdoor Day Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park Tallahassee, FL

May 12, 2018 Boardwalk Deaf Fest Santa Cruz Boardwalk, Santa Cruz, CA

May 12, 2018 Disabilities Expo Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, Fort Wayne, IN

June 3, 2018 Step Up for Down Syndrome Springfield Expo Center, Springfield, MO

June 15-17, 2018 The Family Cafe The Hyatt Regency Orlando, Orlando, FL

May 12, 2018 Around the Park for Autism 5k Cascades Falls Park, Jackson, MI

July 9 - 12, 2018 2018 USBLN 21st Annual National Conference & Expo “NextGen Disability Inclusion” Las Vegas, Nevada

AmeriDisability January/February 2018


AmeriDisability January/February 2018


Industry News

Understanding Section 508 & WCAG 2.0 Standards for Your Online Presence By Haley Brittingham According to the Census Bureau 2010 report, there are approximately 57 million Americans with a disability, representing 19% of the population. If your site isn’t webaccessible, then you could be missing out on the opportunity to connect with millions of people. Surprisingly, many websites are not fully accessible and prevent users with disabilities from engaging and utilizing the information being shared. What is Section 508? Section 508 is a an amendment to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, requiring all federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology (EIT) accessible to people with disabilities.


Section 508 Refresh Starting in January 2018, the Section 508 Refresh mandates all federal agencies or organizations that sells to or receives funding from the federal government is required to provide accessible websites for users. What are WCAG 2.0 Standards? Worldwide Web Content Accessibility Guidelines are a set of standards that meet the needs of people with visual and hearing impairments, cognitive impairments and manual dexterity. Why it matters to you? Although the Section 508 Refresh requirements, for now, are only for federal agencies, improving accessibility across all industries will become a norm. Many lawsuits have taken place in the past few years, and now that there is a clear expectation of the federal agencies to be

AmeriDisability January/February 2018

digitally accessible it will only be a matter of time before all websites will be expected to follow Section 508 and comply with WCAG 2.0.

may have on your site by including subtitles on the video or a visible link to a transcription of the audio file. Likewise, it would also be helpful to add meaningful captions beside or under the images to provide supplemental context.

Tools You Can Use To Check Your Website’s Accessibility This program differentiates itself from other website checkers by utilizing “live user testing” in other words, they use real people to test your site for accessibility. Live user testing is helpful because automation can only tell you so much. Having a developer who is a well-versed in web accessibility will provide you a clear outlook on the improvements that can be made on your site!

Web Design The layout, navigation, and design of a website are especially important for people with learning disabilities and cognitive impairments such as Traumatic Brain Injury, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and Dementia. Use a simplistic design with clear pathways to pages and reduce the number of flashing images or words. Mindful designing will also help with providing a better experience to those using screen readers.

WebAccessibility With this site, you can measure your site using the WCAG 2.0 standards, it will give a you a score for 5 pages, you can download the report and then choose to assess the full site if you wish. This is a great start to see where your site can be improved.

Web Design Tips 1. Keep your Content Management System and associated plugins up to date. 2. Check each page structure to see if the code is logical and in a nested order. 3. Make sure users have the ability to control certain functions, such as text enlargement, image sliders, and videos.

Web Accessibility Checklist Using the free checklist, you can check your site’s content including text, animations and photos, and page structure. If you have a web developer on your team, this would be a useful tool for them to use. Tools to Consider To Provide Accessible Content BrowseAloud - assistive software making websites accessible with screen reading & translation tools for visitors with dyslexia & reading difficulties. Monsido - is an all-in-one platform delivering insights to build a better web experience for your visitors. AudioEye - technology that makes digital content more accessible, and more usable, for more people.

Review Your User Experience Design ALT Tags Make sure your web designer has placed appropriate image alt tags, which are alternative text tags. For instance, if you have uploaded a picture to your site, you can add an alt tag to the code that will name the image. So, if a screen reader is reading through the page, it will read the name of the picture (that hopefully describes the picture in a few words) and will provide a person with vision impairments to understand that it is a picture and what it is a picture of. Otherwise, if you have a tag such as, “img-2017”, that does not tell your visitor what is on your page. ALT tags should be added to forms, links, and graphics - photos, videos, models or tables, and infographics. Captions/Subtitles For those with hearing impairments, it is important to provide text alternatives to any audio or videos that you

Color Theory Using specific colors can drastically affect the feelings that people have as they use your site and where they focus their attention. So, what emotions do you want to convey and what actions do you want them to take? These are questions to reflect on as you review the colors of your site. Using tools such as Adobe Color Wheel can help you determine colors for your site. Specific color schemes can either create harmony from the viewer's perspective or cause strain. Creating an accessible website will not only provide access to people with varying disabilities, but it will also improve your Search Engine Optimization (SEO). By updating the markup, or the descriptive text such as the ALT tags, you are explicitly describing what is on the page. The precise description is necessary for most assistive technologies to function properly along with web crawlers that search engines to update the search results page on a major search engine, such as Google. If you do not have a descriptive markup, you could be missing out on the chance to connect with your visitors and prospective clients. Improving your site’s accessibility does not only benefit those with varying needs, but it also improves access to people without a disability as it offers alternative paths to accomplish virtual tasks. By using some of the tools above you can provide inclusion and be on your way to leading the movement of web accessibility.

AmeriDisability January/February 2018



Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center (RERC) RERC conducts research or demonstration activities to solve rehab problems and study new technologies, products or environments.

The Center for Universal Design A National information, technical assistance, and research cente that evaluates, develops, and promotes accessible and universal design in housing, commercial and public facilities, outdoor environments, and products.

Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access Research how online learning can be made more accessible, engaging, and effective for K-12 learners with disabilities by investigating approaches that address learner variability within the range of conditions under which online learning occurs.

California State University, Northridge The Center on Disabilities sponsors assistive technology training programs to expand the awareness of professionals and introduce newcomers to the disability field, and hosts the largest international conference on the field of assisteve technology.

Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access Dedicated to making environments and products more usable, safer and healthier to the needs of an increasingly diverse population.

Intelligent Assistive Technology and Systems Lab Develops assistive technology that is adaptive, flexible and intelligent, enabling users to participate fully in their daily lives. Center for Assistive Technology Conducts applied research and development and client service programs in assistive technology for persons with disabilities and the elderly. 44

AmeriDisability January/February 2018

National Center on Accessibility Promotes access and inclusion for people with disabilities in parks, recreation and tourism.

Institute for Human Centered Design An international education and design nonprofit organization committed to advancing the role of design in expanding opportunity and enhancing experience for people of all ages, abilities and cultures through excellence in design.

National Center on Universal Design for Learning Is a set of principles for curriculum development that give all individuals equal opportunities to learn. The Leading Source for News and Information on Universal Design

Universal Design Resource A website of resources that include information, education, products and services regarding universal design.

Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center (RERC) on Workplace Accommodations Identifies, develops and promotes new asistive and universally designed technologies that maximize independence and participation of people with disabilities in the workplace. AmeriDisability January/February 2018



AmeriDisability January/February 2018

AmeriDisability January/February 2018


Call to find out about Watson’s relocation services which includes Certified Senior Advocates for transitioning seniors. Nancy Shear, Vice President, Broker Mobile: 407-608-2097 Office: 407-588-2600

Serves as a home away from home for families with children receiving treatment at local hospitals & medical facilities.

Zot Artz currently has a complete line of adaptive tools that make the creation of art possible and fun for children with and without handicaps. Go online for art tools, services & programs. T: 269-254-8928

“Our mission is to enable every individual with a physical disability or limitation to enjoy the mental, physical, social and spiritual benefits of gardening,” Raymond LaRocque, Owner. National sales. T: 401-290-7870 Email:


604 Maitland Ave. Altamonte Springs, FL 32701 T: 407-831-1203

AmeriDisability January/February 2018

Dedicated to celebrating kids with special needs (VIP kids), and providing practical assistance to their families through FREE programs and events. Based in Orlando, FL, but is a national resource for VIP families. T: 407-857-8224

Trust your family’s allergy & asthma care to the area’s leading specialists. Multiple Central Florida locations. T: 407-339-3002

A fitness & recreation center designed specifically for those with physical and/or intellectual disabilities. We offer cardio & strength training equipment that is fully wheelchair accessible, adaptive group fitness classes, & trainers for one-on-one help. Located in Clermont, 30 minutes from downtown Orlando. T: 352-404-4085

AmeriDisability January/February 2018


AmeriDisability November/December 2017

AmeriDisability Magazine  
AmeriDisability Magazine  

America's publication for the disability community. Florida issue.