Voices From The Net, a Disability Advocacy Symposium

By Mia G. Vayner, www.DisabledAccessDenied.com

After a year of planning, we’ve done it! Disabled Access Denied, a blog that gives voice to issues facing people with disabilities and our families, is extremely proud to announce the first ever “Voices From The Net” symposium in association with Abilities Expo.


It will take place during Abilities Expo New York Metro on May 4th from 12:30 to 2:30 pm at the New Jersey Convention Center in Edison, New Jersey. Attendees must pre-register for “Voices from the Net” which is free and open to the public.

The vision for this event is to develop community beyond our own backyards by bringing together bloggers and disabled rights advocates from near and far. Through the use of video, Skype, and personal appearance, “Voices From The Net” will connect some of the most informed and successful advocacy leaders, bloggers and supporters with Expo attendees in one room.

A Taste of What’s to Come  Mia G. Vayner will share her personal story, what drove her to launch the Disabled Access Denied blog, the successes and purpose of the blog, and her goals for Voices from the Net. She will discuss a variety of issues impacting people with disabilities day to day including the failure of local authorities to enforce the ADA, society’s need to work together to make real change, the misperceptions that society has of the disabled, and how events like these can create community and advocacy near and far.

Paul Caune 

A video about Paul Caune and his organization, Civil Rights Now!, will be shared. Paul will join the audience live via Skype and will share a brief history of how British Columbia, Canada has treated people with disabilities over the last century. Paul will tell his story of life long advocacy that started from his own life experience, with the goal of including attendees in a conversation about fighting injustice in their own backyard.

Evelyn Vayner 

Evelyn Vayner will share with the audience and give voice to the role of caregivers. She will talk about the personal challenges she faces wanting to give her spouse the freedom to live an independent life while also worrying that everything she needs is taken care of. Evelyn will chat about situations where she and caregivers feel torn between keeping their loved ones safe vs. the reality that people with disabilities need to live their own lives. The hope is to have an open conversation with attendees about their views, experiences, challenges and successes in caring for their loved ones.

Margi Trapani  

Margi Trapani of CIDNY (Center for Independence of the Disabled, New York) will present an overview of the remarkable services her organization provides here in NYC. This is an opportunity to meet a service provider who is dedicated to assisting our community in ways great and small. Margi will discuss CIDNY’s Independent Living philosophy and discuss policy issues that are affecting the Communities’ health, housing, education, employment and more. Margi will provide ways for people to get involved in bringing about change, and will answer audience questions.

Riia Talve 

Riia Talve is an artist who speaks out about the rights of those with mental illness. She was born premature, weighing just 1 lb 13 oz and with a brain hemorrhage. In school, Riia was placed in the learning disabilities resource rooms, separated from mainstream kids, and struggled with mental illness. Through therapy she moved forward in her life, attending the prestigious Emily Carr University of Art and Design. While she has had and continues to have struggles and challenges in her life, she is also successful. Her message is one of hope—disabilities do not mean you cannot be successful. Her presentation will include images of her artwork.

Kareemah Batts     

Kareemah Batts of Adaptive Climbing NYC lost her leg to Cancer but has turned that challenge into a positive not just for herself but for the entire community of people with disabilities by turning her passion for rock climbing into a transformative experience for others like her. Kareemah will share her experience with attendees and also give extraordinary demonstrations of how Rock Climbing has no barrier simply because of a physical challenge.

Since our goal is to have global conversations about these subjects, attendees will have the chance to ask questions of our in-house presenters and also those Skyping in from abroad.
Come and share your story and learn how you can be your own best advocate.

Each of the following men and women are leading activists and has done much to forward the cause of people with disabilities.

“Voices From The Net” Speakers

Kareemah Batts
Adaptive Climbing NYC
Kareemah is usually out doing something with or for people. Even when she is home she can’t completely be still. When she is still, it’s because she is recuperating from the previous day of taking on too much. Kareemah spent about 8 years of her career in media related positions including publishing, media director, public relations specialist and more.

Since she was diagnosed with Synovial Sarcoma in June 2009, her life has been consumed by her well being. Thankfully she has been in remission since May 2010, but due to the illness she became a below knee amputee. Kareemah has always found outdoor sports a thrill and has since founded charities which are a never-ending source of enjoyment. She spends her free time doing everything her body will allow which is a great deal, including dancing, boarding, horse-back riding, swimming, rock-climbing and more!

Paul Caune
Founder, Civil Rights Now!
Paul Caune is a first generation Canadian and was born with Muscular Dystrophy. Together with other like-minded Canadians he is the founder of the not-for-profit society Civil Rights Now! Civil Rights Now’s sole purpose is to get legislation passed in British Columbia that is similar to the Americans with Disabilities Act. Learn more at their website, www.civilrightsnow.ca. Click here to view a YouTube video with Paul.

Riia Talve
Riia Talve lives in the Metro Vancouver area, Canada. She is an artist and public speaker, as well as a self-advocate for people with learning disabilities and mental health issues. Riia attended the prestigious Emily Carr University of Art and Design. Her art has been shown in various locations, including as far away as Aberdeen, Scotland. She has been an invited guest speaker at a range of functions, including Canadian Provincial Ministries, mental health organizations, universities and schools all around Metro Vancouver. She also was invited to speak via Skype to a conference in New Zealand. Her art has been praised by well-known Canadian artist Robert Bateman, and Emmy Award-winning Actress Jane Seymour. Her public speaking is always warmly received, frequently leading to follow-up opportunities. Learn more at www.riiatalve.blogspot.com.

Margi Trapani
Director of Communications and Education, Center for Independence of the Disabled, New York (CIDNY)
Margi Trapani, the Director of Communications and Education for CIDNY, is a communications and educational programming specialist who has worked for a variety of non-profit organizations over the past 30 years. Among her specialties are media and public presentation training for advocates and consumers. She has coached people on developing and presenting written and oral testimony, and on interview skills. She has also organized and supervised educational outreach campaigns as well as educational workshops. Margi currently directs the PAVA-downstate project, media outreach, publications development, the 7th Sense training program and CIDNY’s educational works.

CIDNY is the Center for Independence of the Disabled, New York. Their goal is to ensure full integration, independence and equal opportunity for all people with disabilities by removing barriers to the social, economic, cultural and civic life of the community. Visit their website at www.cidny.org.

Evelyn Vayner
A 36-year old Russian-American woman, college-educated in Communications and Media, has had a full-fledged career in healthcare public relations and another in advertising. She is currently the Sales & Marketing Vice President for a national LGBT magazine. As an immigrant to the US, Evelyn spent her entire childhood as the translator for her non-English speaking parents in every area of their lives, including healthcare, immigration and housing. This role is what made Evelyn the fiercely resourceful and action-oriented person she is in her career, the care she provides for her spouse, and the advocacy she fights for when it comes to disability rights. Evelyn Vayner is the partner of Mia G. Vayner of disabled accessdenied.com and, as a spouse and partner, is engaged in the fight for equality for people with disabilities.

MiaRosa G. Vayner
Founder and Author, http://www.DisabledAccessDenied.com
As a fifty-something out lesbian woman born in Australia but who now resides in New York City with her life partner and wife Ella, Mia founded and authors the blog www.DisabledAccessDenied.com. Mia’s friends will tell you she has always had a disability: a quick wit, a sharp mind and a total inability to handle stupidity. The wheels under her ass, as she likes to describe them, are thanks to a hereditary neurological disorder that is degenerative and makes walking and standing impossible. When you mix friends opinions of her with the ever-growing lack of care and concern by those in power for the rights of those who use wheelchairs, Mia decided that her choices were to scream or do something about it. The first she figured could get her arrested, so the blog DisabledAccessDenied was born. The blog serves notice to those who show through their laws and their lack of adherence to laws, their complete disregard or simple lack of thought for people with disabilities. It demonstrates that through our ever growing network of like-minded people, either businesses and government better start caring and making change, or we will when it comes time to vote.

DisabledAccessDenied photographs, films, and blogs about both our experiences, but also gives voice to our community to express theirs. Visit Mia’s blog at www.disabledaccessdenied.com

Author: disabledaccessdenied

I am a disabled woman who through no fault of my own has wheels under my ass. I rely on the decency and common sense of local, state and federal goverments, as well as the retail community to abide by the disabled access laws and provide adequate ramps, disabled toilets, and not use them as store rooms or broom closets. This blog exists to find the offenders and out them, inform them, and report them if necessary and shame them into doing the right thing when all else fails.

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