In elementary school, I was not like other students in class. I was unable to raise my hand to answer a question and just shouting out an answer was not acceptable to my teachers. My 8th grade history teacher, Mr. Lesniak, saw my limitations and we worked in tandem to come up with a solution. Mr. Lesniak hooked up a boat light to the back of my wheelchair. The light would be behind me and above my head. All I would have to do is push a button that was located on the armrest of my wheelchair and the light above my head would turn on. That way, the teacher could see that I wanted to be called on. This was inclusion at its finest!
Well, that was 13 years ago. Now, living as an adult, I don’t have the need to raise my hand as much, but I still have to do some things for myself, So, I devised other creative solutions. A few in particular are remote controls and doorbells. These are vital to me on a daily basis. If that sounds unusual, let me explain.
I am lead performer in the stage show “Handicap This!”. I travel a lot with the two man stage show and I am busy delivering keynote presentations (both with my partner in crime Tim Wambach). When I’m not on the road, I live with my mom and dad. They are my primary caregivers. I need help with the most simplest of tasks. I spend a lot of my time in my bedroom reading books (listening to books on tape) and researching how to improve my craft on the Internet. I have the Internet attached to my TV and I taught myself how to use the remote control with my one finger to become as self sufficient as I can be. When I do need help, which is often, I use an unconventional method to get people’s attention. Along with one of my aides, we created a call button. We took a doorbell which we converted into an alert button that allows me to let people know that I need help at that moment. This way I do not have to shout and my caregivers will know I need help with something.
The last thing and probably the most conventional is how Tim and I use technology to connect with our fans on Facebook. As I mentioned earlier, we have a two man stage show called “Handicap This!” and we do a fair amount of speaking. We have created a huge following on Facebook. We use an iPhone to record videos and even do live streaming Q&A sessions. This gives our fans instant access to us and gives us the power to reach fans who are not able to experience our message in person. Technology allows everybody to live beyond their limits.
We are excited to team up with AT&T and their Beyond Limits Campaign. AT&T is committed to provide accessibility through innovation. Whether that is in the communities they serve or their very own corporate culture, it is easy to see that they are making a difference.
One of the best ways to increase awareness is by providing a platform for people to tell their stories. AT&T is doing just that. They want to hear from you! By submitting a video on how you use technology to live Beyond Limits – You could win an all-inclusive trip to the U.S. Olympics Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO.
We encourage you to make your own video on how technology makes your life easier! Click Here to submit your own video!!!
Rollin’ To a Town Near You,
Mike Berkson and Tim Wambach