Writing For/With/About Disabilities


Panel
Writing For/With/About Disabilities

Monday, November 22, 2010

Everyone faces challenges. Certain challenges, though, can be daunting. When the subject is disability, whether physical or mental, special care needs to be taken.

We do not always know how to show our sensitivity, activism and interest in print, using the correct words and rules. How can we learn the non-intuitive rules and how can we keep in touch with the changes? Moreover, what can we do to educate and support?

Whether we face our own challenges, are writing about the challenges, or have characters in our fiction dealing with the challenges, how can we communicate triumph over adversity?

We will hear from people who have tackled this subject, on a personal and objective level, both as writers who face challenges and as writers who write about these issues, or contain these issues within their writing.

We will see how they overcame their writing obstacles, the personal journey upward, and learn how they made it all work with a secure business model that made financial sense. Don’t miss this outstanding panel whose stories may provide insight into your own writing.

The Panel:

Elaine Hall — “Coach E!” Elaine’s life changed dramatically after her son Neal, adopted from a Russian orphanage, was diagnosed with autism. When traditional therapies did not work, the esteemed Dr. Stanley Greenspan encouraged her to rally creative people to join Neal’s world, and Neal slowly emerged out of his isolation. She then used these methods to create The Miracle Project, an international theatre and film program for children of all abilities, profiled in the Emmy Award HBO documentary, “AUTISM: The Musical.”  She has appeared on CNN, CBS News, Oprah Radio and was featured in The LA Times, New York Times and Wall Street Journal. She spoke at the United Nations and is a regular Huffington Post blogger. Her recent book, “Now I See the Moon: a mother, a son, a miracle,” is receiving critical acclaim. Elaine Hall has received honors from Autism Speaks, Autism Society of America, Areva Martin’s Special Needs Network, Holly Robinson Peete’s HollyRod Foundation, Etta Israel and others.
TheMiracleProject.com

Sarah Reinertsen is an athlete, motivational speaker, mentor and author. In 2009, GPP Life published her book, titled “In A Single Bound.” It is an honest, touching and funny memoir of a feisty one-legged girl trying to fit in with her two-legged friends grows up to becomes a world-class athlete and TV personality. Sarah stepped on the world stage after making sports history in one of the toughest endurance events in the world –- the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon. Sarah is the first woman on a prosthetic leg to finish the Ironman World Championships in Kona. Sarah raced around the world on “The Amazing Race,” the CBS reality TV series. She has raced on the US Paralympic track team, breaking world records, and winning awards including ESPN’s ESPY for best female athlete of the year. Sarah’s story has been covered in many national newspapers and she has graced the covers of Runner’s World, Triathlete and ESPN’s “The Body Issue” magazine.

Keith Adams experienced a manic crisis of heroic proportions. The upside was the sudden acquisition of great material for a memoir, “Broken Whole: a California Tale of Craziness, Creativity and Chaos” (Chipmunka Publishing, 2010), which Keith began writing shortly after he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Keith’s book has met with critical reception from the psychiatric community, among other groups, and Keith hopes to help begin a public dialog about mental illness, by continuing to write, blog (BrokenWhole.com) and speak about both his own experiences, and the imperfections in human society that continue to relegate the mentally ill – unless they remain invisible – to the shadows. Adams is an IWOSC member.

Libby Slate, full-time freelance journalist and longtime IWOSC member, has written a number of articles about people with disabilities, for the Los Angeles Times, the Television Academy’s Emmy Magazine and Performances Magazine. One article for Emmy, about the images and employment of people with disabilities on television, was reprinted in part in the McGraw-Hill college textbook, “Introducing Sociology.” Libby primarily covers entertainment and the performing arts, and also writes about figure skating, design, social issues, travel and other topics. Her website is LibbySlate.com.

Karen Lynn. At five months old, Karen was paralyzed due to a DTP* shot. (That’s Diptheria, Tetanus, Pertussis/whooping cough.) This shot put her in a coma, leaving her severely disabled, but miraculously she made an almost complete recovery. Leaving her with cerebral palsy, left-side hemiplegia, and dyslexia, she went forth despite all odds.

Karen not only learned to dance, but she soared. She was the first physically challenged person to search out and win the first civil rights case in California. She obtained an Associate of Arts degree in English, and she won second prize in the Kaleidoscope Literary Art Magazine international prose fiction art awards of 1983. She became a dance teacher and mentor for special needs individuals. And she has published “The Broken Hoof.” Please visit Karen Lynn’s Whispers of Hope websiteto learn about it.