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When Passion Is Palpable One Must Pursue It

“The one thing you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can. The moment that you feel that just possibly you are walking down the street naked…that’s the moment you may be starting to get it right.”

~Neil Gaiman

Advocacy can occur on many levels from creating a massive movement to a simple blog but it all begins with a passion for positive social change. When I was asked to participate in an upcoming event to bring awareness to the abilities of people with disabilities I couldn’t say no. 

Disability InSIGHTS is a seminar designed to increase awareness of the abilities of people living with disabilities. I will be one of 7 speakers who will share stories of triumphs, obstacles, and breaking down barriers. More on this in a moment.

Typically when we hear stories of people who are on the front lines of social justice the conversation revolves around passion. There is something that ignites the fire within us to create positive change. While it’s true passion has a defining role in our advocacy efforts we seldom talk about another major player—fear.

Working Through Fear

Fear is universal and yet many times when we talk about success fear isn’t a major topic of conversation. I’ve lived a life of fear and a life of overcoming. Losing my eyesight was one of my greatest fears that I never thought I’d be able to accept. However, it was my fear of blindness that in part prompted me to create Bold Blind Beauty. 

Fear was the reason why I declined an all-expense-paid trip to Kansas earlier this year. Even though the opportunity to empower blind & visually impaired youth was seductive I just couldn’t let go of my fear.

The thought of traveling out of state on what would be my first solo flight after my sight loss terrified me. Questions swirled around in my head like:

  • would I know where to go once I was dropped off curbside at the airport?
  • what if the assistance I requested ahead of time wasn’t available?
  • would I have a panic attack because everything I see is indistinguishable?
  • what if I had to use the restroom, would I get lost?
  • would the flight attendants show me to my seat?
  • since my trip connected through another airport what would that be like?
  • what would I do if I encountered problems because people doubted my disability?
  • how would I handle the prospect of being stranded?

With all these questions and more, you’d think I’d be satisfied with declining the trip but I wasn’t. Truth be told I was still unsettled yet I couldn’t articulate why. Thankfully, I was given another chance, this time I said YES! and I went to Kansas.

The Cumulative Effect

The Kansas trip was only the beginning of all the wonderful things to come this year as a result of my work at Bold Blind Beauty. While I’ve been blogging for nearly 5 years I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve questioned myself as to whether this is a fruitful effort. Then last year I partnered with advocate extraordinaire, Chelsea Nguyen, and together we founded CAPTIVATING! Magazine, a free, accessible online lifestyle magazine. CAPTIVATING! provides monthly content about culture and style for people of all abilities proving that inclusion is limitless.

As a result of my partnership with Chelsea, and my work with Bold Blind Beauty I’ve enjoyed these amazing experiences:

Next, in the lineup of this year’s events are:

My trips to Kansas and Utah were sublime. CAPTIVATING!’s award from the Texas Rehabilitation Association was a delightful and totally unexpected surprise. Then filming the behind the scenes story of Bold Blind Beauty last week was extraordinary. 

I’m eagerly anticipating the Disability InSIGHTS Seminar where I can share my tips on the path to social entrepreneurship. This event is being held in recognition of International Blindness Awareness Month and National Employment Disability Awareness Month. It will take place on October, 18 from 11 am – 3 pm at the Tom Ridge Environmental Center in Erie, PA. 

Seeing The Beauty In People

I believe everyone has value. I also believe our perceptions of people can get in the way of our ability to appreciate their value. For far too long we’ve looked at people who are ‘different’ from ourselves and immediately leap to conclusions without knowing their story, without knowing them. When we add disabilities (visible and invisible) to this equation we become ‘experts’ in determining their worth and it isn’t fair nor is it right. 

We all have moments of insecurity, uncertainty, and fear. I nearly let my fear keep me from life-changing events where I’ve learned so many valuable lessons. None of this means I won’t ever feel uncomfortable or downright scared. However, when I ask myself why inclusion, accessibility, and representation are so important my passion will continue to help me push through my fear.

Courage is contagious and when we share our vulnerabilities it empowers others. How about you? Can you think of a time that fear nearly prevented you from meaningful achievement? 

Disability InSIGHTS Information:

Featured Image Description:

A closeup view of a blank wooden arrow sign against a bright blue sky dotted with a few puffy white clouds.

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Baring Our Souls For A Vision Of Empowerment

Baring Our Souls For A Vision Of Empowerment

“The one thing you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can. The moment that you feel that just possibly you are walking down the street naked…that’s the moment you may be starting to get it right.”

~Neil Gaiman

My business partner, Chelsea Nguyen, is from Houston, TX and I live in Pittsburgh, PA. And together we are walking down the street naked.

You see, our accessible online magazine CAPTIVATING!, only 7 months in the making, has received an award from the Texas Rehabilitation Association. The award is for our work in representing people with disabilities in journalism. Isn’t this exciting? But wait, there’s more!

At the time we began our Go Fund Me Campaign we still hadn’t met in person. However, if you read yesterday’s post “Empowering Young People to Soar With Passion & Purpose” you know we met in person.

Chelsea and I envision a more inclusive world—it’s who we are. Changing the perception of disabilities and the people who are living and thriving with them is our calling. Connecting and enlightening people of all abilities is our mission.

If you’ve ever wanted to make an impact would you consider helping our efforts? We invite you to check out our story on Go Fund Me. Help us spread the word. Thank you!!

Baring Our Souls For A Vision Of Empowerment Featured Image Description:

The photo is from our June edition of the magazine. The article was written by Ron Graham of HAVIN. It’s about the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Cane and Able which consisted of a group of 12 people, seven of whom were totally or legally blind, and one of them was on a motorized scooter. Visit www.captivatingmagazine.com to check out the article.

Additional Images:

  • Chelsea & Steph – Photo was taken at DFW. We are posing with our luggage and I have my gold cane in my left hand.
  • Level Up Brochure – 2019 Envision program brochure with the theme: “Connect Engage Act.”
  • The Gang – Max, Steph, Chelsea & Jeremy at DFW. Max and I are both holding our white canes.
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Accessibility Meets Fashion In Clothing Identification Solutions

Accessibility Meets Fashion Featured image description is in the body of the post.

Accessibility Meets Fashion In Clothing Identification Solutions

Improving accessibility for blind and visually impaired (B&VI) people is a critical and ongoing process. Thanks to my role in Bold Blind Beauty, I have participated in many research projects on the topic of accessibility. The most recent ‘creating accessible makeup packaging for (B&VI) people’ was so exciting I could barely contain myself. Exchanging ideas and coming up with novel approaches to creating more accessible makeup is huge. What this means, in a nutshell, is we are moving in the right direction.

So a few days ago, I was thrilled when Faye, contacted me. Faye, a recent fashion and textile designer graduate, working on her Master’s dissertation asked if I could put feelers out in my network. She needs to collect anonymous data to move forward with the project.

What was interesting to me is Faye’s reason behind her research. I found out her passion for her work was borne as a result of her mom’s chronic illness. Her mom wanted to look beautiful even when she was at her worst.
What influenced Faye to make a difference was her mom’s clothes didn’t last long because of her disability.

Faye’s Message

Hi, my name is Faye and I’m a mature Masters student from the University of Portsmouth. I am writing a paper to identify areas that need improvement in the clothing identification of (B&VI) people. Creating digital labeling solutions will follow. I am looking for participants to complete my survey or just to comment. This will help me understand the processes and what people actually want to know about their clothes for easier identification. The data will be transferred into the labels.

Here is the link to the survey https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/Z8TLZ/

Thanks for all your help!

Accessibility Meets Fashion In Clothing Identification Featured Image Description:

Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay. Striking black and white photo of a silver key in mid-air aimed at a keyhole.

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Worldwide Search For Models With Disabilities!

Worldwide Search For Models With Disabilities! same image as the featured image

Worldwide Search for Models Disabilities! YOU could be on the cover of CAPTIVATING!

Today, CAPTIVATING!, a project of Bold Blind Beauty, has launched a worldwide search for models with all types of disabilities. This global social media campaign is being managed by our newest Staff Writer, Rebecca Holland, of Beckie Writes. Continue reading to find out more, especially if you or someone you know has a disability and is interested in being featured on our March edition of CAPTIVATING!

Worldwide Search For Models With Disabilities! same image as the featured image
Our social media campaign is being managed by Rebecca Holland. Find out more on Instagram! 

Do you have a disability? CAPTIVATING! Magazine is looking for cover models for our March issue! Enter for your chance to be featured on our cover.

CAPTIVATING! is a magazine that is breaking down barriers and helping the world to see that all people―especially people with disabilities―are beautiful. We are looking for people of all ages from all over the world with all types of ability levels.

Not all disabilities look the same and we support people with all disabilities, including hidden disabilities. If you consider yourself to be a member of the disabled community, then we invite you to submit your image!

We want to see YOU on our cover! 

Our campaign is focused on Instagram because it has one of the highest engagement rates and is a great platform for aspiring influencers. We would love to see you participate in our Instagram campaign!

It’s easy to submit a picture! Just do the following easy steps: 

  1. LIKE this blog post on Instagram. You can find it here: https://www.instagram.com/p/BtwG0wjHpCT/
  2. FOLLOW @beckiewrites (campaign manager) and @captivatingmagazine on Instagram
  3. POST a picture to Instagram and TAG@captivatingmagazine and @beckiewrites 
    ―bonus points if you’re wearing red and black (our colors) in your picture!
  4. COMMENT on this post and let us know that you’ve submitted your photo! Bonus points if you tag two friends who might be interested in being on our cover as well!
  5. BONUS: Don’t forget to use our hashtag #WeRCaptivating anytime you’re talking about us on social media!

Not An Instagram User? Not A Problem!

If you don’t have Instagram but would still like to participate, you can e-mail your photo submissions to CAPTIVATING! at: editor@captivatingmagazine.com.

That’s it! I hope to see you featured on the front of our March issue! The cover model candidates winners will be selected and announced Friday, March 1, 2019.

More great news!

Even if you are not selected for our March cover, we may choose to feature you in one of our future issues. We will also be selecting photos to share throughout our campaign on our Facebook and Instagram feeds! Even if you’re not selected for the cover, you may still get a shoutout!

Worldwide Search For Models With Disabilities! Featured Image Description:

White text on a red background reads, “CaptivatingMagazine.com | Models with Disabilities Wanted.” Beckie smiles while wearing a red coat and leaning against a bookshelf. She has long dark hair and glasses.