Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Technology Tuesday

This week’s Technology Tuesday is a regular one I get to share, and it is always one of my favorites. 

Once again, students in a University of Colorado Engineering class taught by Professor Melinda Picket-May have collaborated with Imagine! to provide assistive technology for individuals we serve. We’ve been doing this for more than eight years.

Each semester, students form small groups and select projects that have been identified by Imagine! staff members as something that will meet the needs of a specific individual served by Imagine!. The collaboration has truly been “win-win.” The students get real, hands-on experience on a unique and challenging engineering task, and people served by Imagine! get a piece of adaptive equipment designed specifically for their needs.

Below are some projects from Fall Semester 2017 students (a couple were not designed specifically for people served by Imagine! but certainly could be useful in serving the population of individuals with intellectual, developmental, or physical disabilities):

Wireless Door Switch: for use by someone who uses a wheelchair but can’t access traditional door switches due to limited mobility.


One-Handed Water Bottle: for use by individuals with limited mobility in one of their arms.


Wireless Panic Button: for use by non-verbal, but relatively independent individuals to alert others in emergency situations.


Alexa Aid: to assist non-verbal individuals in accessing verbal command devices such as Alexa. 


Vocalization Counter: designed to record and track vocalizations of non-verbal individual in order to facilitate improved communication and informed development of a care plan.


Removable Arm Project: an adjustable iPad wheelchair mount controlled by joystick for individual with limited mobility.


Bowling Guide: for individual who is visually impaired so he can enjoy bowling with his friends.


Got Google?: device designed so individual with limited mobility can access basic Google searches, such as weather, music, or jokes. 

Friday, December 8, 2017

Good News Friday!


Imagine!’s 2016-2017 Annual Report is hot off the presses! With a very appropriate theme of community, the report highlights the many achievements and successes from the last year at Imagine!, and makes clear that those successes are because of the incredible support that we receive from all over our community (you can click on the images to make them larger).

Check out the report here, and enjoy some informational graphics below demonstrating the breadth and scope of our impact.














Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Today Is Colorado Gives Day!

Today is Colorado Gives Day! 

Below are four simple steps on how to support Imagine! on this day of giving (click on the image to make it larger), and make that support count extra! Thank you in advance for your help in creating a world of opportunity for all abilities. 

Click here to donate


Monday, December 4, 2017

Question Mark?

I’m going to talk punctuation today.

Specifically, I want to discuss how something remarkable can happen when we take declarative statements (those that end with a period) and change them to open ended questions (changing the period to a question mark).

For example:

I am a person with a disability.

Versus:

I am a person with a disability? 

For the phrase above, the question mark changes everything. I think the resulting change is very important and meaningful. The period leaves no doubt. But the question mark opens the door for further exploration.

According to the Disability Status: 2000 - Census 2000 Brief, approximately 20% of Americans have one or more diagnosed psychological or physical disability. That’s 1 in 5. Going even further, some studies show that 55% of adults in the workforce in the United States qualify for some form of workplace accommodation.

If such large numbers of people identify as having a disability or needing an accommodation, then perhaps those labels don’t really mean anything except that the majority of us need some sort of assistance if we want to become active, participating members of our communities. If more of us need some form of assistance then those who don’t, then a designation of disability seems kind of pointless.

That’s a world I wish for. A world where it is understood that all of us, at one time or another, need some assistance to get by or to get ahead. The level of assistance may vary on the person and the situation, but we all need someone to stand by us once in a while.

Can’t see the video? Click here

If that fundamental fact is understood, then disabilities (and the accompanying necessary accommodations) wouldn’t be considered out of the ordinary. They would just be considered a natural part of the fabric of our communities and lives.

And instead of being forced to declaring some disabled and others not, all people will have the right to ask the reasonable question “I have a disability?”

Then again, what do I know?

Friday, December 1, 2017

Good News Friday!

Today, I have the privilege of introducing the 2017 Imagine! Employees of Distinction. 

Each year we ask all employees to share with the Secret Employee of Distinction Selection Committee nominations for Imagine! employees who exemplify the mission, values, and principles of Imagine!, who inspire the individuals we serve to be their best, and who perform over and above every expectation anyone could have of them.

This year, we received 54 Employee of Distinction nominations for a total of 31 people. So it is fair to say that even among the talented and dedicated crowd of Imagine! employees, the 2017 honorees truly stood out.

Jonny Brennan, Kristin Cowin, Bridget Heddens, Jenny Kozlowski, Lucy Mwangi, Carla Rapp, Linda Saenz, and Emily Walsh were all identified by their coworkers as employees who go above and beyond even the above and beyond we see every day at Imagine!. Their recognition is well deserved, and I am honored to call them my colleagues.

Check out the video below to learn a little more about these exceptional Imagine! employees.
   
 Can’t see the video? Click here.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Technology Tuesday


Thanks to the eight people who toured Imagine!’s Charles Family SmartHome last week, including Mark Mills, Assistant Superintendent of the St. Vrain Valley School District.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Technology Tuesday

Imagine! has been talking about getting technology in the hands of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities for more than a decade.

Why have we done this? 

The short video below, created by the Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities and YAI, offers some answers to that question and may give you some things to ponder as you reflect on what you are thankful for this week.
   
 Can’t see the video? Click here

Friday, November 17, 2017

Good News Friday!


Today, I’d like to offer my sincere thanks to Dave Query, who is once again treating individuals served by Imagine! and their families to a traditional turkey dinner on Thanksgiving Day. This is the 14th year Dave has hosted this event, which will again be at Zolo Southwestern Grill, 2525 Arapahoe Avenue, Boulder.

There are three seatings, and all three have filled up already! In all, more than 350 people will benefit from Dave's amazing generosity.

Dave Query is the owner of Big Red F Restaurant Group, including restaurants Centro Latin Kitchen, Jax Fish House – Boulder, Denver, Fort Collins, Glendale, and Kansas City, LoLa Coastal Mexican, Post Brewing Company, West End Tavern, and Zolo Grill.

Dave is donating the makings for a delicious dinner with all the trimmings, and the wait staff is volunteering its time. There is no charge for the meal, and no tips are necessary.

Thanks to Dave and the Zolo staff for making it a Thanksgiving to remember for individuals served by Imagine!.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Technology Tuesday

Today I’d like to share an update on Imagine!’s Tuneberg Project.

Thanks to the generosity of Aaron's Fund, Imagine! has created a technology demonstration project to improve and support the safety needs for adults with disabilities. The project is currently supporting eight individuals in Boulder County. The Tuneberg Project has developed a specific tool to assess individual support needs and identify the technologies that will best help meet those needs. The technology that has been purchased is individualized to the identified needs. It includes door and window sensors, heat and stove detectors, medication reminders, visual doorbells, and prompting systems for daily tasks. All of these are integrated into a notification system that provides alerts to caregivers or 911.

This technology allows people to be monitored remotely and notifies loved ones or caregivers when people are home and what area of the apartment or living space they are accessing. All systems allow the individuals to remain independent while still promoting their safety by remotely locking doors, monitoring when someone comes to their doors, and providing alerts when an alarm is triggered.

As one parent described: “I'm writing to tell you that the safety system Imagine! installed in my daughter's home worked very well today. First, I received a text telling me that the smoke alarm had gone off in my daughter's place at 4pm. I knew no one was there at that time besides my daughter, so I rushed over. The alarm was ringing loudly. My daughter was out of her home (with her hands over her ears). And a neighbor had called 911. It turned out that my daughter had experimented with making her first snack on the stove top and the oil in the pan had sent a lot of smoke into the air. No fire or any serious damage, but a good trial of the systems to make sure everyone knew what they should be doing.” 

The Tuneberg Project is helping to fill a huge gap that currently exists in services for adults with intellectual disabilities who are mostly independent but need some assistance to remain safe and self-reliant. At the end of this three-year project, Imagine! will share the results with state and local leaders to encourage the adoption of technology into the service system.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Good News Friday!

Imagine!’s Annual Gift Giving Drive starts soon, and I encourage you to take part! 


Gift Ideas:

For Children
Educational Toys (Spanish or English)
Dolls and Accessories
Board Games Books (Spanish or English)
Craft Sets Ball Set or Nerf Set
Car or Truck Sets
Remote Control Car
Legos Art Supplies
Hat, Scarves, Mittens, Gloves
Gift Cards

For Adults
DVDs
Colorado sports team memorabilia
Art Supplies
Craft Supplies
Body Lotion
Bath Sets
Hats, Scarves, Mittens, Gloves
Gift Cards

Please deliver donations to Imagine!’s administrative office at 1400 Dixon Ave., Lafayette, CO. Pickups can be arranged for group donations.

Questions? Contact Elizabeth Hill at ehill@imaginecolorado.org or 303-926-6460

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Out & About 20 Stories Update - 11/19/17


Imagine!’s Out & About department is celebrating its 20th Anniversary this year! 

To honor this milestone, we are collecting and sharing stories and memories from our employees, from the families and individuals we serve, and from the many businesses that support our work. In fact, we’re collecting and sharing 20 stories from each of those three categories!


Here’s a story from Sasha, an Out & About participant, who promises to share this advice to others: “If someone is nervous to come to Out & About, I would say ‘there’s nothing to be nervous about, Out & About is fun!’”

You can also click here to see all the stories we have so far.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Technology Tuesday


Congratulations to Imagine!’s own Brodie Schulze, who presented last week at the 2017 Coleman Institute Conference on Cognitive Disability & Technology.

Brodie’s presentation was titled: “Collaborative Care: How a Partnership Between the University of Colorado and Imagine! has Created New Opportunities for Independence for People with Disabilities.”

Imagine! and CU have collaborated to design adaptive technologies to aid increased independence for individuals served by Imagine!. Students work with Imagine! to design assistive technologies that open doors to client’s increased self-reliance. The potential exists for projects to scale and be made available to more individuals in living more independent lives.

For the presentation, Brodie partnered with CU Professor Dr. Melinda Piket-May and a couple of CU students who have participated in the projects, and the group shared their experiences, what they’ve learned during the collaboration, highlighted some specific projects, and discussed what the future might hold.




To learn more about this collaboration, check out the video below, which highlights some of the projects that have resulted from this amazing partnership.

  
Can’t see the video? Click here.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Good News Friday!

Imagine! Out & About participants will have their own exhibit tonight at Alive Studios, 4593 Broadway, from 6-8:30 PM, as part of the North Boulder Art District First Friday Art Walk.

You are encouraged to stop by and say “hi.”


Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Technology Tuesday


On November 1st, The Coleman Institute of Technology, in collaboration with Microsoft, will be hosting a day long technology event. At the event, people with cognitive disabilities and Microsoft product developers will test out new products and engage in rich discussions around accessibility of products and services. They are looking for a limited number of technology users with diagnosed cognitive disabilities (Alzheimier’s, stroke, dementia, intellectual and developmental disabilities, severe and persistent mental health concerns and traumatic brain injury) to participate.

They are still looking for participants, so if interested, email Shea Tanis at Shea.Tanis@cu.edu or call 303-860-6141.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Good News Friday!

Late last month, I wrote on this blog about how Imagine! was going to be participating in Way To Go Tober, a fun way to encourage Imagine! employees to try new, smarter ways to commute.

The results to date have far exceeded my expectations (which were high to begin with).

As of Thursday, October 25, 138 Imagine! employees have:

Logged 1,235 smart commute trips totaling 12,836 miles.

Burned 53,217 calories.

Reduced 3.7 tons of CO2.

And saved $4,345.

These impressive stats didn't just catch my eye. Last week, a TV crew from CBS News Channel 4 in Denver came up to Lafayette to find out the secret to our success.

You can check out the story by clicking here.

We’ve had a lot of fun with this competition, and some Imagine! employees even helped encourage their coworkers’ participation by agreeing to appear in some (admittedly goofy) videos.


Can’t see video? Click here.


Can’t see video? Click here.

Can’t see video? Click here.

Although the month isn’t quite over, it is obvious that Imagine! employees have fully embraced this opportunity to give back to the community where we work. I am proud of them, and glad to have been part of this effort to save money, reduce stress, and help clear the air.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Technology Tuesday


I’d like to use today’s Tech Tuesday post to thank Albertsons Companies Foundation for their recent donation to help purchase iPads for Imagine!’s CORE/Labor Source (CLS) department.

In just a few short years, iPads have moved from merely fun items for CLS to have to absolute necessities. The amount of life-long learning that can and does take place using the iPads at CLS is astounding, and we are so grateful to Albertson’s for the gift.

Pictured below, students at Imagine!'s CORE/Labor Source hub in Longmont take advantage of an iPad class to practice their art skills and play task oriented games.



Friday, October 20, 2017

Good News Friday!

The following story originally appeared on our Imagine! Voices blog. I found it so inspiring I'd thought I'd share it here. - Mark

“We were half way through the course when we realized that we were on the wrong course. We decided there was no point in turning around and continued on.”

Becky Toliver, who accepts services from Imagine!, trained for the one mile course at the 25th annual Susan G. Komen Race For The Cure in Denver. She partnered with Kelli, a friend from church and former Jazzercise instructor, to prepare for the mile long walk.

“At first we were like ‘oh wow,’ because we didn’t realize where we were.” Becky walked with Kelli and her husband, Roy, during this big event. “It sure felt like more than a mile, but we looked forever and saw all these people still walking,” said Roy. “We asked someone and they told us we were on the 5k route.”

“Once we realized where we were, we said to ourselves ‘let’s do it, let’s finish the 5k,’” said Becky. “It wasn’t funny at the time, but once we finished, it was a great accomplishment.”

Becky works for Real Capital Solutions in Louisville, CO, and walked in their name. “I had so much support from family, friends, and co-workers.” Near the end of the walk, Kelli walked ahead of Becky and Roy to let the cheerleaders and Becky’s friends know that she was on her way. Everyone, including the president of Real Capital Solutions, cheered “Becky! Becky!” or "Turbo Toliver" as she crossed the finish line and walked 2.2 miles more than she trained for.


Becky felt this was an important walk so that she could honor the loved ones in her life who have battled or are battling cancer. The race was longer than she expected and still turned out to be a great day! She and Kelli continue to meet on the weekends to walk and stay fit. 

Becky (right) walks with her friend and trainer
at Race For The Cure in Denver. 

Becky and her husband, Roy.
                 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Out & About 20 Stories Update – 10/19/17


Imagine!’s Out & About department is celebrating its 20th Anniversary this year! 

To honor this milestone, we are collecting and sharing stories and memories from our employees, from the families and individuals we serve, and from the many businesses that support our work. In fact, we’re collecting and sharing 20 stories from each of those three categories!


Here’s a nice recollection from Out & About participant Brittany, who shares how the activities she takes part in have taught her new ways to be healthy and active.

I’ll be sharing other stories and memories on this blog throughout the year.  

You can also click here to see all the stories we have so far.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Technology Tuesday


Touring Imagine!’s SmartHome in Longmont last week: visitors from Ukraine. They were part of the Longmont Rotary Open World delegation, here to study Civics Education. As part of that education, they took a tour of our SmartHome to see first-hand how technology is opening doors to self-reliance among the population of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Good News Friday!


October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

Since 1984, Imagine!’s CORE/Labor Source (CLS) department has assisted individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities across Boulder and Broomfield counties in finding gainful employment through supported employment services. Supported employment offers people who have a disability the opportunity to develop vital job skills and become active participants in their communities, while working toward their goals through group and independent employment opportunities.

The benefits extend far beyond helping the individuals we serve, however. Businesses using our services are able to reduce recruitment and training expenses as they benefit from a diversified employee pool. Partnering with CLS is a "win-win" situation that is beneficial all around.

CLS currently partners with businesses across Boulder and Broomfield counties to provide supported employment solutions for hundreds of individuals. Check out the video below, created last year, celebrating just some of those business partners. We are grateful for their support and commitment to community inclusion.
 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Out & About 20 Stories Update - 10/11/17


Imagine!’s Out & About department is celebrating its 20th Anniversary this year! 

To honor this milestone, we are collecting and sharing stories and memories from our employees, from the families and individuals we serve, and from the many businesses that support our work. In fact, we’re collecting and sharing 20 stories from each of those three categories!


Here’s one example of a great story: Lee shares how Out & About activities are often the way she is able to have exciting experiences for the very first time.

I’ll be sharing other stories and memories on this blog throughout the year.  

You can also click here to see all the stories we have so far.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Technology Tuesday


Congratulations to Imagine!’s own Brodie Schulze, who has been selected to be a presenter at the 2017 Coleman Institute Conference on Cognitive Disability & Technology.

Brodie’s presentation is titled: “Collaborative Care: How a Partnership Between the University of Colorado and Imagine! has Created New Opportunities for Independence for People with Disabilities.”

Imagine! and CU have collaborated to design adaptive technologies to aid increased independence for individuals served by Imagine!. Students work with Imagine! to design assistive technologies that open doors to client’s increased self-reliance. The potential exists for projects to scale and be made available to more individuals in living more independent lives.

For the presentation, Brodie will team up with CU Professor Melinda Piket-May, and the two will share their experiences, what they’ve learned during the collaboration, highlight some specific projects, and discuss what the future might hold.

As a fun preview of the presentation, check out the video below, highlight some of the projects that have resulted from this collaboration.

  
Can’t see the video? Click here.

Good luck, Brodie! We know you’ll make Imagine! proud.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Good News Friday!

Imagine!’s Emergency Fund provides limited financial assistance to help individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) meet urgent or extraordinary needs not covered by Medicaid or other funding sources.

Today I’d like to thank two communities for their help in ensuring that those funds are available to their citizens when needed.


The City of Lafayette, Colorado provided a $2,000 grant to Imagine!’s Emergency Fund to support Lafayette citizens in need through the city's One Lafayette Community Fundraiser. The City finances this community fundraiser to help local nonprofit organizations provide essential services.


And the Broomfield Community Foundation provided a generous $1,500 grant to Imagine! to go toward Imagine!’s Case Management Emergency Fund for individuals living in Broomfield.

Imagine! is stronger when our community takes an active role in facilitating our work, and we are extremely grateful to both the City of Lafayette and the Broomfield Community Foundation for their support.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Out & About 20 Stories Update - 10/03/17


Imagine!’s Out & About department is celebrating its 20th Anniversary this year! 

To honor this milestone, we are collecting and sharing stories and memories from our employees, from the families and individuals we serve, and from the many businesses that support our work. In fact, we’re collecting and sharing 20 stories from each of those three categories!

 

Here’s a story from longtime (and recently retired) Out & About employee Jerry Gooding where he talks about what it really means to connect with somebody.

I’ll be sharing other stories and memories on this blog throughout the year.  

You can also click here to see all the stories we have so far.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Good News Friday!


You are invited to the Imagine! 2017 Provider Fair

Please join us for this exciting opportunity to connect with providers and community agencies, learn about available services, and network with other clients and families.

When: Thursday, October 19, 2017
Where: Imagine!’s John Taylor Conference Center, 1665 Coal Creek Drive, Lafayette CO 80026  
Time: 4:00pm to 7:00pm

We anticipate having 50 service providers at the fair, including individuals who contract with Imagine!, Program Approved Service Agencies (PASAs), Home Health Agencies, and community organizations offering direct services and supports.

Imagine! Eligibility Specialists, our Intake Team, and Case Managers will be on hand to answer questions.

No RSVP required.

Click here for more information and FAQs.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Food Truck Fun

Often I will speak to parents and advocates in our system, and one of the most frequent concerns that they express is their belief that the way an individual’s needs are assessed creates an unequal and unfair system of distributing funds and delivering services.

I am very sympathetic to their concerns, but I think focusing on assessment tools can potentially blind us to the bigger picture – the fact that services are tracked, billed, and paid for using what are known as “units of service.” This is where the real unfairness comes from.

I’m going to use a food truck at a festival analogy to describe how I see the flaws in our pay-per-unit of service system in Colorado. (This is ridiculous, but I feel like Pat Paulsen explaining communism here).

Imagine a food truck at a festival. We’ll call it Francisco’s Famous Cuban Sandwiches. Francisco is only allowed to sell Cuban sandwiches, and only to five specific types of customers. The customers each pay for the sandwich with a chip they receive when they enter the festival. One chip equals one sandwich.

So far, seems simple enough. But let’s add a layer of complexity. The people receiving the sandwiches have very different needs and desires when it comes to sandwiches. One person is a vegan, one is a vegetarian, one is a lacto ovo pescatarian, one plays on the offensive line of a football team, and one is a sumo wrestler.

Despite the variable food intake needs of each person, each person gets one chip and that one chip gets them one Cuban sandwich. The festival thinks this is a pretty nice scenario. The first three people listed above have dietary restrictions that make eating a Cuban sandwich distasteful to them (at best), and the last two probably need a lot more to eat beyond a single sandwich.

So the people getting the sandwiches (services) are stuck with getting something they don’t want or doesn’t meet their needs. But guess what? Francisco isn’t happy either.

Why? Because Francisco has to turn in the chips he gets for making sandwiches to the festival operators in order to get paid. And the chips aren’t all valued the same. Instead, the chips are worth different amounts depending on the person who is cashing it in for a sandwich. The vegan’s chip is worth $3, the vegetarian’s chip is worth $5, the lacto ovo pescatarian’s chip is worth $8, the offensive lineman’s chip is worth $15, and the sumo wrestler’s chip is worth $20. It costs Francisco $10 to make the sandwich, and what he’s paid depends on who’s giving him the chip.

Naturally, this frustrates Francisco, but he’s a realist. He will do everything he can to sell sandwiches to the football player and the sumo wrestler, because he can make money feeding them, while at the same time doing everything he can to avoid selling sandwiches to the three varieties of vegetarians because he loses money when he cooks for them.

Are you hungry yet? How about confused? I know who is not confused in Colorado: people being turned away by providers because their chips aren’t buying them the sandwich they want or need. But that is basically how both the Support Living Services (SLS) and Comprehensive Services (COMP) are arranged in Colorado. People aren’t getting what they need because their units of service are like chips in the festival. Everyone is dissatisfied, and eventually it will come to a head. I don’t like to be this sort of prognosticator, but I fear that eventually we will see a crisis as the ridiculousness of the system across the board creates angry families. Crises are costly and unnecessary, particularly when they can be predicted and avoided.

Perhaps we can avoid this future, but discussion about change should really start with the way services are quantified and paid for in our festival. Maybe, just maybe, there will come a time when we can all have the sandwich we want, and Francisco can cook for everyone.

Then again, what do I know?

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

TODAY! Support Imagine! Through Live & Give Longmont

Today is the day!!! 


Want to ensure the health and happiness of everyone in our community? Enrich our lively arts scene? Support the education of our young people? Live & Give Longmont is our chance to come together on one extraordinary day (TODAY, Sept. 26) to celebrate our collective spirit of giving and provide seed funding for nonprofits and projects that help our community.

Imagine! is a Live & Give Longmont participating organization. You can help kids and adults with developmental disabilities enjoy all that Longmont has to offer, while they build cooperative skills! Imagine!'s Out & About participants are in Longmont for day camp, after-school, and weekend activities! About 75 people enjoy the Longmont Rec Center, bowling at Centennial Lanes, the Dickens Opera House, Firehouse Art, and Yaya Farms. The entrance fees for these activities add up, and your gift will help Imagine! provide even more opportunities to these venues.

Learn more and donate here

Monday, September 25, 2017

Space Invaders

A couple of weekends ago, I went for a run along the Boulder Creek path. It is a frequent and favorite route of mine, but this particular Saturday I forgot about one thing before I set out – it was the day of a home game for the University of Colorado Buffaloes football team.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Boulder Creek path, it runs right along the CU campus, and on game days, the path is often filled with alumni and fans walking to Folsom stadium to cheer on the home team. This isn’t a big problem, I just slow down and the fans are always polite about letting me pass.

But I noticed something in particular on this ride about space and how some people seem to be more willing to take up more space than others.

I’m not talking about someone’s actual size. Rather, I’m discussing in a figurative sense how some people seem to be more comfortable than others with taking up more space than they might need. On this particular day, I probably saw a dozen couples walking to the game, and inevitably, one person would be on one side of the path, holding a chair facing toward the center of the path, and the other would be on the other side of the path, holding a chair facing toward the center of the path.

That combination meant that together they took up the entire width of the path. They weren’t doing it to be malicious, or because they were inherently selfish, they just had either a sense of entitlement to the entire path, didn’t like each other that much, or shared a lack of awareness of the needs of others using the path.

I see this type of space invasion in our field frequently. The person who takes up all the time in a meeting to make their point (you know them as the ones who use up all the air in the room), or the person who argues vociferously their point without consideration or cognizance of other points of view. All too often, the people who take up the most space end up being the ones who slow things down in the end. You can’t get past them on the path.

But do you know what population of individuals doesn’t tend to take more space then they need? People with intellectual and developmental disabilities (and yes, I’m generalizing here, but I feel pretty secure in making that generalization). Perhaps because folks with I/DD have likely spent a good portion of their lives marginalized by society, they don’t carry the same expectations or sense of entitlement that far too many of us do carry (including at times, I'm somewhat ashamed to admit, me).

None of this is to point fingers or to identify a “bad guy.” I just want to point out that perhaps we could all use an occasional experience of trading spaces. Maybe we could be a little more aware of how we take up space, and how those actions can, and do, inadvertently make it more difficult for someone else to be part of the same space.

If we truly want to create a world of opportunity for all abilities, we need to understand that a huge part of making that happen is by making space for others.

Then again, what do I know?