Isaac Baldry’s story was an Apostrophe feature story in the spring of 2012. During the past few years we’ve kept in touch with Isaac. We’re happy to report he’s doing well! He says he stays busy working mostly in the area of transition as an advocate. He works with Montana Youth Transitions, The Rural Institute, Disability Rights Montana and continues to offer his services as a speaker, most recently with ASPE. We truly do consider him a ‘Voice of Authority,’and so we asked Isaac to write about access and what it means to him. Read it below:
Recently, I was contacted by Apostrophe magazine, to see if I was interested in putting something together about “access.” My first thoughts were access is a huge topic. I thought I should follow up with a few questions. Turns out, they wanted me to follow up on my statement, “To me access is like air, I need every day and all the time.”
Interestingly enough, the ADA and I are about the same age, we both turn 25 this year. I am part of that first generation to have always expected access to be a part of our lives. I grew up believing that I could and should be able to do everything anyone else did. If something didn’t work one way for me, I just needed to spend a little time thinking about another way to accomplish the same thing. It wasn’t important how I did something, it was important that I was able to participate and be a part of something.
When I think about access, to me a big part of that goes back to assistive technology. I use a lot of assistive technology, which includes my laptop with specialized reading and writing software, my cell phone, my iPad, my power wheelchair, my accessible van and even the rope on my door. Some of what I use is the same as everyone else — I just use it differently. The important piece is making the tool do what I need it to do for example, my iPad. A lot of people use an iPad; I just happen to use my iPad primarily to speak. The app I use is called “Proloquo2Go.”
When I’m looking at what I need a tool to do, we then line that up with the features of a particular tool. Then I try it to see what worked and what didn’t work. I am always looking at what tools will give me independent access and what could I do differently. Recently, I changed phones and move to the android market. Could I still do everything I could on my previous smartphone? Yes. The change was made to ease independent charging by accessing wireless charging. The decision was based on what was important to me, and how did changing tools increase my independence.
I also cannot help but think about how important it is to have access in the community. Just last week I was at a conference for work, and access came up as an issue. I am fortunate that I am an advocate and thought the access issue was important. I was easily able to contact the state protection and advocacy program. They assisted in making a change that day. We, everyone in the disability community, will have to continue to think about access for all and universal design. It is up to all of us to continue to be the voice about the importance of access to create the opportunity for participation by all individuals.