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Celebrating the 3rd Anniversary of Ramp Your Voice!

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RYV Turns 3

WINNSBORO, SC (July 19th, 2016) – Today marks the 3rd anniversary of the establishment of Ramp Your Voice!  I am tremendously proud of the progress and reach the platform has accomplished in the last year, especially within the past 6 months alone.  Some of the milestones reached I did not think could happen so soon, but I am very proud of what has transpired for the brand, and for myself.  

Thankful Threes:  This Year Has Been One of Incredible Opportunities

The magic word to define coming into the third year of RYV!’s existence is thankful, along with grateful and truly blessed.  I have been fortunate to meet and connect with trailblazing advocates, become a part of important projects, and to expand the visibility of RYV! and myself in ways that I could not have fathom this time last year.  The past 6 months have opened doors that I thought would not have been available for me to wheel through for a couple of years down the road.  To know that RYV! is truly coming into its own at this stage makes me proud.  Sometimes I sit back and look at how busy I am and the connections I have, and am just astounded by it all.  I have worked hard to get to this level, and I know that this is only the beginning.  Even with my own life transition in wanting to move to the DMV area and seek employment, I will continue to grow RYV! because it has always been my goal to work for myself through this brand, and I know that I will be able to do so one day, hopefully sooner than I may think is possible.  

Let’s take a look at the key developments of RYV! in the last year:  

RYV! Milestones

  • Published 170 posts and counting on the blog since its creation.  
  • Page views total as of date have almost doubled since last year’s anniversary:  54,209 total page views at the end of June 2016.
  • Highest number of page views in a day:  1,101 views on February 4th, 2016
  • Since the start of 2016, every month has had over 1,000 or more page views, with February having the most with 5,001 page views.
  • The official RYV! Facebook page has reached over 800 followers at the end of June 2016.

Advocacy & Community Involvement Highlights

  • Presented at the SC chapter of NASW Spring Symposium in March.  Workshop focused on the triple jeopardy status of disabled Black women, and how social workers can improve their cultural competency when working with this population.  Approximately 30 attendees were present.
  • Partnered with Alice Wong of Disability Visibility Project for the #GetWokeADA26 Call for Stories.  This collaboration sought to garner the voices of disabled people of color to discuss how the ADA impacted them for the 26th anniversary of the mandate.  
  • Invited to the White House in February for its Black History Month program that focused on the contributions of African Americans with disabilities.  
  • Created the #DisabilityTooWhite hashtag that went viral in May, and was used in over 13,000 tweets on Twitter in less than 24 hours.
  • Interviewed and quoted on several media platforms, such as The Atlantic, Buzzfeed, Huffington Post, Daily Dot, ATTN:, ColorWebMag, Black Girls Talking, Justice Beats, and Pushing Limits, about headlining disability topics, my experiences as a triple minority, and the need for more diverse voices within disability (the #DisabilityTooWhite hashtag).
  • Became a regular contributor to BraunAbility and Huffington Post.  On both platforms, writes about the disabled experience and cross-posts relevant articles.  
  • Wrote first scholarly article about experience as a Black disabled student, and how racism and ableism impacts the educational and inclusive opportunity of Black students in America.  Article will be published in in a journal compilation by Autonomous Press in 2017.  
  • Became a partner for the #MacroSW initiative.  Will conduct first co-hosted Twitter chat on 10/13/2016 about disability, online advocacy, and social work.  For this partnership, will seek to share how social work and disability connect, and educate colleagues on the disabled experience that goes beyond what we learn in our formal education.  
  • Supported and/or provided insight towards disability-related projects and awareness campaigns spearheaded by disabled advocates and organizations.  
  • Wrote the first Black History Month series in February on the blog to highlight the Black disabled Americans who have written important bodies of work, and whose work deserves to be widely known within and outside of the community.  
  • Published an article for Easter Seals’ Thrive program in April about what I would say to my younger self when it comes to finding love as a disabled woman.  
  • Published the Being Into Kink & BDSM as a Disabled Person series last October to highlight why disability, sexuality, and alternate lifestyles should not be considered taboo in society.  
  • Connected with disabled women and allies who shared similar background and passions surrounding advocacy and empowerment of disabled persons domestically and abroad.

Goals to Accomplish for 2016-2017

  • Conduct more interviews with disabled women of color, and cross-post them to Huffington Post.
  • Launch the podcast and vlog series by late 2017, early 2018.  
  • Launch the Anthology book series, with a revised theme, and crowdfunding opportunity (forthcoming 2018).
  • Introduce projects that focuses on disabled women of color that are currently in the development stages.  
  • Creation of an online store for supporters to buy merchandise.
  • Increase public speaking, writing, and service opportunities so that the brand’s message and my skills can be more utilized by the public and key persons/organizations of interest.

How You Can Help Make Year 4 Fantastic

  • Make a donation (click here to find out how).
  • Share your stories as disabled women of color to be featured on the RYV! blog and cross-posted on Huffington Post.
  • Read and share RYV! blog posts.
  • Spread the word about & request RYV! Services.
  • Invite Vilissa to speak at conferences and engagements pertaining to the need for diversity and intersectionality within the disability movement; the plight of disabled women of color in America; and her own story of a proud Black disabled woman.

Final Thoughts

They say that the third time’s the charm, and I feel that year three of Ramp Your Voice! is going to wow and surprise me.  I think back to three years ago when I began RYV!, hoping that it would make some form of impact on the realm of disability advocacy.  I am still finding my way within this work, but I know that my message, voice, and presence matters to so many.  The progress made in the past year energizes me, and I am elated to be a part of various projects and the possibilities to connect with like-minded people that could fill in so many important gaps that relates to race, disability, gender, and intersectionality.  Again, I am thankful to love what I do every day for the last three years, and am eager to continue making the good trouble and doing exceptional work.

(Featured headlining image:  Courtesy of ShutterStock.)

About Vilissa Thompson, LMSW

Vilissa is the Founder & CEO of Ramp Your Voice!, an organization she created to establish herself as a Disability Rights Consultant & Advocate. Ramp Your Voice! is a prime example of how macro-minded Vilissa truly is, and her determination to leave a giant "tire track mark" on the world.

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