April 18, 2011


Author: Volume 4
Source: Connect-Ability

In this Issue:

  • An interview with Maria Neira, NYSUT vice president - With Lauren Ha
  • Editorials
    - Valoree Lisi
    - Lauren Ha, Albany High School
  • Got Attitude?
  • Disability Awareness Teacher Toolkit
  • Connect-Ability 2010 Interview Protocol
  • Putting my Xbox Away - Louis Rose
  • The ARISE Coalition: The Fist of Disability Activism in New York City - Fabio Botarelli
  • Stay With Your Dream - Erin Reardon
  • Ignited: A Promise to People with Disabilities Around the World - Kathleen Downes
  • Just Fine Over Time - Bryan Jones


Valoree Lisi

I think all teachers need a toolkit on disability awareness. This will help them to teach all kids about disabilities. Everyone needs to know that there are many ways to learn. The way I learn is visually with the help of graphic organizers. This is my unique learning style. A highlighter and a check list also help me learn. When I was younger I would go with my mom to work. She worked with kids with disabilities. I learned a lot about other disabilities through helping my mom. Teachers didn’t talk much about disabilities in school.

I was included in a regular education classroom from when I was in pre-school up until 12th grade. I think that teachers need to explain about disabilities and teach kids how to include everyone. Teachers can invite students with disabilities to add their own experiences in a classroom presentation. They can talk about the similarities they share with other students. I say, “Be proud of your disability.” You’re an expert and you should know the importance of advocating for yourself. Speak up and teach others about your strengths and abilities.

Lauren Ha, Albany High School

This issue includes a lot of numbers. Yes, for those of you reading this issue of Connect-Ability and thinking that you are in a statistics class, let me be the one to tell you that it’s not as bad as it first appears. These particular numbers were collected to help us help you understand more about disabilities. We Connect-Ability editorial board members have to give thanks to Catharine McHugh, Terry McSweeney, Thomas Corrado, Jackie St. John and all the other NYSUT staff for teaching us how to collect data, report them in tables, analyze them and make some sense out of them. The eighty people we interviewed as part of our data collection deserve a big “Thank you!” as well. And, of course, another thanks to our number one supporter, Maria Neira, NYSUT’s VP, who agreed to take time from her busy schedule to be interviewed by me for the front cover So, on the count of three… 1,2,3 THANK YOU SO MUCH! Together, we have made a great beginning using these numbers to design a disabilities awareness toolkit for teachers that will be a work in progress for 2011.

As for my other experiences working as an editor on Connect-Ability it’s been amazing. Of course, that word is clearly an understatement. Listing all the positive words to describe Connect-Ability would surely exceed the amount of pages that we have. I probably could pick from the word list we came up with for our interview protocol (see page 6) and choose words like “gift,” “opportunity,” “inspiration” or, on those particular days we all tend to encounter, “challenge.” But like I said, that doesn’t do it justice. If anyone of you can find and/or invent a better word to describe Connect-Ability, I would give you my eternal thanks. I would also like to hint at all of the stories behind the scenes of making new friends and sharing occasional mishaps. So look, read, analyze, and whatever else you can do with this issue. If you like what you see or even if you don’t, I invite you to contact us. Help us make these numbers lead to something important.


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