Living Proudly with a Disability

  1. My Disability & Blackness are Beautiful: The #BlackOut Experience

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    This past Friday, I participated in the social media #BlackOut campaign by sharing a few selfies I took and posted them on the Ramp Your Voice! Tumblr blog.

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    At the end of Saturday, my #BlackOut images finally reached over 100,000 notes.

    The #BlackOut was a social media campaign spearheaded to allow those of the African Diaspora the opportunity to share positive images of themselves, and receive affirmation and love from others within and outside of the Diaspora about why their existence matters and is valued.

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  1. Ramp Your Voice!’s Official Call for Submissions for the Disability Anthology #IAmAble!

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    Anthology Image

    IMPORTANT UPDATE:  The anthology has been expanded to receive submissions for the 2016 year.  The new submission deadline is December 31, 2016.  

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    WINNSBORO, SC (Feb. 24, 2015) – Today marks the official call for submissions for the new disability anthology, #IAmAble!  This is a project that I have been working on for several months, and with the talents of the graphic design intern that has joined the RYV! camp, an eye-catching visual for the anthology has been developed.

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  1. Spotlighting Influential Black Disabled Advocates for Black History Month

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    It is Black History Month, and I could not think of a better way of observing the significance than spotlighting Black disabled advocates who have influenced me personally, and in my advocacy work.

    The voices and actions of Black disabled advocates have been missing from the histories of the civil rights movement and disability rights movement.  This gross exclusion creates the illusion that only white disabled advocates have made an impact within the disability rights movement, which is furthest from the truth.  Black disabled advocates were, and still are, heavily active within both movements, and tirelessly ramp their voices for equality and justice concerning the prominent identities they possessed.  Articles like this one will educate those from all walks of life about the pivotal messages and spirits of these advocates, and carve out a space for them to receive recognition that is long overdue.

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  1. What’s In A Name?: Attitudes About Calling a Disability a “Disease” Versus a “Disorder” or “Condition”

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    “It is not what you are called, it is what you answer to.”

    Using the correct language and terminology to describe one’s disability is a top concern for those in the disability community, and I witnessed that over the weekend during a semi-heated discussion in a Facebook group for those with OI (Osteogenesis Imperfecta).

    I saw a group member post a status about her dislike of calling OI a “disease” versus a “disorder” or “condition;” she felt that the former had a negative perception, and that folks who heard it when one’s describing OI would gain an inaccurate understanding of what OI truly was.  That statement opened up a whole can of worms; there were a few folks who had their undies in a bunch from having their opinions refuted, while others stated their views in a more civil manner.

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  1. Forming Friendships with Other Disabled People: Why My Friends are Vital to My Well-Being

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    Image background is black with white and purple cursive-style lettering with a quote from Maya Angelou:  "No one can take the place of a friend, no one."

    “No one can take the place of a friend, no one.” – Maya Angelou

    In establishing Ramp Your Voice!, an imperative aspect I have enjoyed most is connecting and befriending other disabled people, especially those online.  My interactions grew from creating the RYV! Tumblr and Facebook pages, where I was able to follow other disabled bloggers and disability-focused organizations.  I never expected these online links to yield anything more than possible networking opportunities – I was not prepared for how they would change my life and perspective about the diverse disabled experience.

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  1. Lady Sings the Blues: Black Women & Mental Health

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    Black woman staring out the window, with a depressed look on her face

    This week, I wanted to spotlight the important discussion I watched over the weekend concerning Black women and mental health.  Exhale is a television talk series on Aspire that features a panel of five African American women who discuss issues and topics that affect the African American community.  During the second season of Exhale, the ladies decided to explore the issues of mental health in the African American community.  Watching this particular episode struck a deep nerve for me, both as an African American woman and a helping professional.  It was validating to watch those who have been impacted by mental illness share their stories.

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  1. May 6th is Wishbone Day: Raising Awareness about Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI)

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    I Am Wishbone Day campaign flyer with Vilissa's image in the center

    May 6th is Wishbone Day, an international awareness day for Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI), better known as “brittle bones.”  The idea for Wishbone Day was birthed at the Australian OI Conference, held in 2008.  There was a discussion about how to raise more awareness about OI, which is one of the lesser-known congenital disorders in America, and abroad.  Those who attended the conference decided to declare May 6th as the date for an OI awareness day.  On May 6th, 2010, the first Wishbone Day was celebrated, and the growth of this special day has grown exponentially, reaching North America, and parts of South America, Europe, and Asia.  This awareness day is very dear to me because I am a person living with Osteogenesis Imperfecta.  There are an estimated 25,000 – 50,000 people thought to be affected with OI in the United States.

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  1. Ramping My Voice for National Disability Awareness Month 2014

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    Disability Awareness Month

    For National Disability Awareness Month, I decided to write a letter to the local newspapers with the purpose of sharing my story as a woman of color with a disability who is fighting for equality and justice for all abilities.  I am still waiting to see if my article will be published, but in the meantime, I thought that I would share my article with my fellow readers, advocates, and supporters.

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  1. Recognizing Black History Month as a Disability Rights Advocate of Color

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    February is Black History Month, and as a Disability Rights Advocate of African descent, it is my duty to shine a spotlight on the significance of this observance.  Being a triple minority – African American, female, and disabled – has impacted how I view the world, and interact within it.  Each of my identities molded me; I would not be the person that I am if I did not belong to each group.  I am very proud of my racial identity; my pride is seen by being an African American Studies minor during my undergraduate years, my affiliations with historically black organizations, as well as the creation of Ramp Your Voice!  Being an African American woman with a disability has not been an easy life to live, but I have learned to use every barrier and obstacle to my advantage.

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  1. Dating, Love, & Sex with a Disability (Part 3)

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    For the third and final installment of the Dating, Love, & Sex:  The Experiences of Women with Disabilities series, we will learn Erin’s, Samantha’s, and Charlotte’s views on “disabled devotees,” being asked about the disability status of their partners, and if men with disabilities have it easier when it comes to dating and finding love.  (If you have missed out on the eye-opening discussions in this series, do read Part 1 and Part 2.)

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