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vimeo.com/.../436631998

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    I'm Dr Karen Sacs, I'm a professor
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    and Chair of the Department
    of Administration, Rehabilitation
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    and Post Secondary Education
    at San Diego State University.
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    I've been here for almost 30 years
    now, but I started my career
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    as Special Education Teacher.
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    And, the first year that I taught,
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    was the first year that my students
    were ever allowed
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    into public school,
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    because of the severity of
    their disabilities.
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    A law was passed in 1975, that
    allowed students
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    with very significant disabilities,
    for everybody to be able
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    to come to public school.
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    And that was the first year
    that I started teaching.
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    And we were in a small building,
    with about 40 students,
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    and a bunch of us, new teachers
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    trying to figure out what to do
    with all these kids
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    from ages 5 to 22, who first
    stepped foot into public school.
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    So when I was teaching, this was
    far before the ADA was passed,
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    I learned a lot about
    the lack of accessiblity.
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    In fact, with the students
    I was teaching,
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    I started teaching the older
    students, the teenagers,
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    and I didn't have a whole lot
    of time with them in school
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    because they've just started.
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    And I realized that they needed
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    to learn how to access their
    community,
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    They needed to learn how to
    get jobs,
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    they needed to learn all
    those life skills
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    because you had so short time
    with them.
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    And in my school district
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    they had people whose job was
    to look for jobs for students,
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    so they were 'job developers'
    of sorts, and when I asked
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    for a job developer for our school,
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    I was told that we wouldn't
    be getting one,
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    because our students
    couldn't work.
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    And, as you can imagine,
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    that just motivated me to
    figure it out.
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    Because I knew that my students
    could work.
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    And so I started going out
    and meeting
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    some of the business people
    in the neighborhood,
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    and they introduced me
    to other business people,
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    I started learning how to talk
    to employers,
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    which was nice, something
    I learned
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    in my Special Education Program,
    learning to be a teacher.
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    And I found that,
    my students of course, could work.
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    and I appealed directly to
    employers,
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    and they helped me learn
    the ropes of how to do all of this
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    and I started teaching my students
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    how to ride the bus,
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    and how to figure out some kinds
    of accommodations for them
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    to do jobs, and it was so exciting
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    when a student got a job
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    and found something that
    they liked to do
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    and that they were good at.
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    And we had parents who never
    in a million years had thought
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    that their sons and daughters
    could work, and yet
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    they saw them being successful
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    and parents who were very
    nervous about
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    having them involved in the community
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    were so excited, they became
    of course our biggest advocates
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    for expanding this
    educational program.
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    And so I found that no matter
    where I went
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    I was trying to raise awareness
    and more importantly,
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    raise expectations
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    about the students I was
    working for
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    and well, working with.
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    When I came to San Diego State,
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    it was to really look at how we
    could use assisted technology
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    to connect people with disabilities
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    whether they were going to school,
    getting jobs,
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    accessing their community in
    any way.
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    So assisted technology really
    became an area I was focused on
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    and we had a couple of
    federal grants
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    that funded me, funded me and
    other colleagues
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    to develop some community
    partnerships
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    to support the development
    of assisted technology
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    so this was in the earlier days,
    I think the ADA had just passed,
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    the communities were opening up,
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    employers were becoming
    more aware,
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    and we started getting people from
    the community
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    really interested in helping us
    to make modifications,
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    to help individual access the work
    that they wanted to access.
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    And so I started teaching a course
    around the applications
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    of assisted technology,
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    I co-taught it with an engineering
    faculty member
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    and we had students from Special
    Education, from Rehabilitation,
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    from Englineering...
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    we also had people from
    the community,
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    we had occupational and physical
    therapists, speech therapists,
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    we had people who sold equipment,
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    we had different kinds of engineers
    who took the class,
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    and we all sort of long together
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    what the possibilities were when
    we made a good match
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    with people with disabilities
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    and an assisted technology that
    connected them
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    to the activities that they
    wanted to do.
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    And we found out that made
    such a huge difference
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    and it gave people control over
    their lives.
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    And one of the activities we did
    in the class
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    was to do the ADA Accessibility Survey
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    and this was so eye opening for
    me and for my students
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    and for people who were in
    our community,
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    who were working with us.
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    So we would have students
    go out and conduct the survey
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    and find out how accessible
    -or not-
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    their local neighborhoods were.
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    They went to retail places,
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    they went to restaurants,
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    and hotels, and any kind of places
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    that they might want to access
    in their neighborhoods
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    and what we found is, for all of us,
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    we just never looked at a place
    the same way.
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    And having that ADA Accessibility
    Survey as a context,
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    and as a guide to help us look at
    where we could make changes
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    because part of the assignment
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    was not only taking the survey and
    finding out what was good
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    and where people could make
    improvements,
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    but also to do the advocacy,
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    to bring that awareness, and to
    make sure that people realize
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    that they have a whole market
    out there
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    that they hadn't thought about.
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    And in order for that market to
    access their businesses,
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    they needed to make it more accessible.
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    So it was a really exciting and,
    to this day, I still teach the class,
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    and I still do the ADA Accessibility
    Survey, and luckily
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    things have gotten better and
    we've seen a lot of improvements,
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    but we always find things that
    can be improved.
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    So I have seen many
    positive changes,
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    both in physical access
    to buildings,
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    but also access to electronic
    and digital communication
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    and that's a big one that has made
    a huge difference.
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    I think that what happens often is,
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    we don't think about these
    considerations up front.
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    That all too often is after
    the fact.
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    even at the university, whenever
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    they're introducing new software,
    new technologies, new platforms,
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    that we're using,
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    I always ask upfront
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    what about the accessibility?
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    and it used to be that the answer
    was always, inevitably...
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    "we'll get to that."
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    "We'll get to that later"
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    I've seen that change and people
    are really looking
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    at the accessibility issues upfront.
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    But I think that really happens...
    needs to happen more.
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    And the idea of universal design
    has to be thought of upfront,
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    And it's much more inclusive
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    it's also much more cost effective.
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    And so I think getting into
    the mindset of people upfront
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    and I've had the chance to work
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    with architecture students,
    for example, and being able to
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    introduce them to individuals
    with disabilities has given them
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    insight that it's not about
    compliance
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    it's not just about compliance
    and going with the codes.
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    But once they've met people
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    who were accessing the
    community in different ways,
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    it helped them think about
    design in a new way.
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    And it encouraged them to
    consider their creativity
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    in how to make their designs,
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    whether these were buildings, or
    outside landscapes,
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    whatever it was, that they
    should make those
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    more accessible
    for a wider range of people.
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    What I'd like to see, is
    disability
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    firmly planted in the diversity
    discussions.
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    I think, all too often
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    the diversity discussions,
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    particularly that are happening
    now, often leave disability
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    out of the equation.
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    And disability crossings over
    intersects with every other identity
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    whether it's gender, age,
    ethnicity....every aspect
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    you'll find people with disabilities.
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    And in fact, any of us can join
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    the disable group, at any time
    and most of us will at some point
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    in our lives. So I think
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    being able to think proactively and
    holistically about disability...
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    is really critical and it has to be
    forming part of those conversations
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    that we're having about diversity.
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vimeo.com/.../436631998
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Video Language:
English
Team:
ABILITY Magazine
Duration:
09:17

English subtitles

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