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The intention of this post is to equip the reader with a better understanding of what ads and sponsored content are all about, and how they compare with affiliate links in terms of making money from your blog.

This post is written with disability in mind: it’s by a deaf blogger and for other bloggers with disabilities.

Types of Direct Ads

You would think that ads are simple, right? And maybe they are – money in exchange for indirectly promoting something on your site. What I suspect that a lot of bloggers don’t quite know though, is how many types of ads there are, exactly:

Pay Per Click: this is where the company will give you a fraction of money for each click on their link from your site.

Pay Per-Action: where the company will pay you (the blogger) each time a reader clicks on the ad and then makes a purchase.

Pay Per-Impression: where the blogger is paid by how many readers saw the ad.

Set Rate: this is when a company pays you a set amount of money each month to host their ads on your blog, regardless of number of impressions or conversions.

Text Link and Contextual Ads: These are ads that are placed in the context of your post. Google ads work like this, when placed in text-form within a blog post.

Direct Ads: When you (the blogger) enter into a private relationship to place ads on your blog.

Pros and Cons of Direct Ads

There are two pros to direct ads as I see it:
  1. When they work, they WORK and you make consistent money. Yay!
  2. Well placed and with the right brands, they can lend credibility.
The cons of direct ads are many:
  1. You can end up plastering your blog for less than a pittance.
  2. Because, really: a pittance: most often you make next to no money off of them.
  3. They can look skanky and make you look skanky, too.
  4. They are distracting, which is a big deal when you want your readers to be focused on your content.
  5. It takes a lot of work to set them up.

Sponsored Posts:

When a blogger is hired to produce content that is similar to what they usually produce (“native advertising”), it’s called a sponsored post.

I’ve written many sponsored posts, the most recent being the post that I wrote on ABLEnow – which is actually a perfect example of how a sponsored post works.

I normally write about disability and everything that I write about is within the framework of disability. So, ABLEnow was looking for bloggers who write about disability – boom! It’s a match!

In making money through sponsored content, companies looks at traffic, social media, and overall reach. .

Sponsored posts are a two-way street. Bloggers can be approached by companies, can approach companies directly, and can also join networks that promote sponsored post opportunities.

Pros and Cons to Sponsored Posts:

Pros: 
  1. They are called “native advertising” for a reason: the sponsored content fits in easily with your niche.
  2. It’s usually really easy to integrate.
Cons:
  1. There can be a lot of competition for sponsored posts.
  2. Many companies shortchange bloggers, so be wary.
  3. If the content isn’t a real fit with your niche, you can feel like you are selling out. Don’t do it if it feels that way; it’s not worth it.

Reviews

Blog reviews are for compensation and/or product.

This is where the company gives the blogger either the product itself in exchange for the review, or the product AND money in exchange for the review (and they can also offer more, like a discount code or a giveaway for the blog  readers).  If you ar paid to write the review, then it’s an indirect form of advertising.

Pros and Cons of Reviews

Pros

  1. Reviews are a great way to get paid through product, especially when you are just starting out as a blogger.
  2. Reviews only get better: product plus money plus something for your readers, so it’s often a great thing to participate in.

Cons

  1. You have to be careful to only review things you care about and keep your integrity as a blogger.

In Summary:

Ads, reviews and sponsored posts, along with affiliate links, are how you make money from a blog. I mean, that’s it.  You don’t start a blog and then suddenly get cash dumped in your lap – you have to reach out for it, and the way you reach out for it is always through affiliate links, ads, reviews and sponsored posts.

(note: I’m saying “reaching out” because I see making money through external sources as reaching out, and making money from course development as reaching in; as it’s an internal source of revenue).

Our subject next week will be about making money on your blog through developing courses, so make sure you sign up below so you don’t miss it!

This post is about the best sites to learn ASL online. It is meant to serve as a resource to others who would like to learn ASL but may not have access to physical classes.

My interest in learning American  Sign Language (ASL) was a long time coming. Although I am myself deaf, I tried to “pass” as hearing and focused on lip reading to get by. This is exhausting, and with my profound hearing loss, I would like to be able to relax and communicate with others.

As we live in a very isolated area when we are in the United States, and on the road in Mexico when we are not, I need to learn ASL online. Here are some sites that I have found useful to learn ASL:

(note: the links are in the headings)

Lifeprint

Super awesome site. Free lessons, fingerspelling, dictionary, the whole shebang. Oh, and my favorite, Deaf Jokes page!!

Two Deaf men are signing to each other.
The first man asks, “What did your wife say when you got home late last night?
The second man replies, “She swore a blue streak”
And the first man asks, “What did you do then?”
And the second man replies, “I turned out the light.”

ASL Pro

This site kind of overwhelmed me with all the ads and stuff for sale. So far it seems like a lot of dictionaries, including “religious” ones (- if you are wanting to teach your child Bible signs, this is probably your stop).

Apps

There are a lot of fantastic apps for learning ASL online – here are some of the best:

  1. ASL Dictionary: comprehensive ASL dictionary with videos of more than 5,000 signs
  2. The ASL App: a hip app designed by Deaf ASL users to teach ASL (the one that Nyle is in!)
  3. Signing Savvy: learn ASL and join in conversations and more with the membership site
  4. SignSchool: vocabulary builder, dictionary
  5. YouTube: subscribe to Deaf YouTubers, search for classes. Download them through YouTube Red.
  6. Marlee Signs: learn ASL with Marlee Matlin
  7. ASL Translator: type in the English and get the ASL translation
  8. ASL Dictionary: over 5,000 signs, multiple ways to sign the same word and does not require internet

Described and Captioned Media Program

You are able to “check out” videos, DVD’s and books, a’la netflix.

They even give you a postage paid mailer to send them back. In addition to the DVD’s, they have streaming online videos and offer all kinds of things for ASL instruction, deaf culture and children – really, really cool site.

Check out the lessons available for ASL instruction hereSweeeeeet!

 Start ASL

This has a ton of online ASL classes here – both free and paid courses with homework and everything. I love that they have a section for homeschoolers, they have tutors and an online practice community too!

Babies and Sign Language

This is primarily a site for baby sign – which I am not looking for. But they are some cool links to places to learn other languages – Latvian sign, anyone?

Signing Savvy

It’s an app (see above) and also a site. It’s a brilliant video-based signing dictionary. Very easy to use and free.

Deaf Read

This is the Deaf blogging community. It’s awesome because there are a lot of vlogs – video blogs – a great way to interact with real people, virtually.

Signing Time

If you haven’t already tapped into this truly astonishing system of catchy music + signs, well, here’s your introduction now – it is the easiest possible way to teach babies and kids basic ASL, both online and with DVD’s.

They have a slightly more advanced system with sentences and grammar, etc, but it does not go much beyond basic functioning ASL (“what’s your name?” and so forth.

YouTube

YouTube has a lot of kick-ass d/Deaf vloggers now. Here’s a post on some of the best vloggers to check out.

This is a post about the best deaf apps in 2018. That is, the most useful, popular and widely-used apps by d/Deaf people. This post is US-focused, and covers only iPhone apps.

Best Communication Apps

  1. Glide:  for texting and talking.
  2. P3 Mobile: for texting, talking and relay services. Includes ASL and clear-speech relays.
  3. Google Voice: for transcribing messages (speech to text).
  4. Hamilton CapTel: for captions during the phone conversation
  5. Sorenson Buzzcards: d/Deaf create flashcards for communication with the hearing. Flashcards can be saved.
  6. FaceTime: visual calling

Best In-Person Communication Apps

  1. Speak4Me: text-to-speech
  2. Sorenson Buzzcards: create flashcards to communicate with non-ASL users
  3. Text to Speech!: text-to-speech
  4. iSpeech: text-to-speech
  5. Subtitles Viewer LIVE!: live speech-to-captions (caption real-time, live conversations)
  6. Earfy: live speech-to-captions (caption real-time, live conversations)
  7. Dragon Anywhere: dictation application that can be used by us deaf with hearing – have the hearing person speak and it will automatically caption what they are saying (if it is said clearly enough)

Best Apps for Learning ASL

  1. ASL Dictionary: comprehensive ASL dictionary with videos of more than 5,000 signs
  2. The ASL App: a hip app designed by Deaf ASL users to teach ASL (the one that Nyle is in!)
  3. Signing Savvy: learn ASL and join in conversations and more with the membership site
  4. SignSchool: vocabulary builder, dictionary
  5. YouTube: subscribe to Deaf YouTubers, search for classes. Download them through YouTube Red.
  6. Marlee Signs: learn ASL with Marlee Matlin
  7. ASL Translator: type in the English and get the ASL translation
  8. ASL Dictionary: over 5,000 signs, multiple ways to sign the same word and does not require internet

(note: don’t miss my post on 8 Sites to Learn ASL Online)

Best Alarm or Notification Apps

  1. Alarm Clock with FlashLights: alarm clock with flashing lights (and music)
  2. Alarmed Reminders + Timers: integrates with iPhone native Reminder app
  3. Loud Alarm Clock Best and Loudest Alarms 2: for people who need something REALLY loud (with no hearing neighbors, haha)

AND:  here’s how to set your flash alerts on your phone, which works for phone calls, messages AND your morning alarm clock instead of sound

The Best Deaf Apps

There are many apps for the deaf available, and many more that may not have been created specifically for us but are useful (like Dragon Anywhere).

While that is great, I look forward to more apps being developed, covering a greater range of what would be useful to us (I’m thinking kitchen integrations and home appliance alerts in particular).

This is a post about how to make money off of your blog through affiliate links. There are affiliate links in this post.

The intention of this post is to equip the reader with a better understanding of what affiliate links are all about, and how to use them to your advantage (without being a scheming, lying asshole of a blogger).

This post is written with disability in mind: it’s by a deaf blogger and for other bloggers with disabilities.

What is an affiliate?

An “affiliate” is, by definition, in this context,  “to connect or associate oneself.”

An affiliate of any company/organization is a person who has connected with that company/organization, or is associating with them.

So, in terms of blogging and making money online, an “affiliate” is someone who has a relationship with a company that is connected with money somehow.

What is an Affiliate Link?

Every single item for sale online has a production price (the cost of what it was to produce the item) and a sale price. The profit margin is the difference between the production price and the sale price, minus any relevant costs.

So, for example, say I make a t-shirt.

I have the cost of everything it took to make the shirt (the press, ink, shirts, and so forth). I also have the cost of marketing the shirt, of shipping and handling, and then I have the price that it’s sold for.  In between the two – the cost of producing the shirt and the price I’m selling it for – I have a profit margin.

Now let’s say that I have a friend who can help me sell the shirt. I say, “hey! If you help me sell the shirt by putting a link for it on your blog, I’ll give you 2% of my profit!

My friend says, “sure!” and she sets up a link for my shirt on her blog. The backend tracks all the shirts that were sold on her blog, and I pay her a percentage of the sales accordingly.

WHO benefits from affiliate links?

Actually, everyone does.

How to Make Money from Your Blog Using Affiliate LinksThe reader/buyer benefits, because they get what they want.

The seller benefits, because they sell what they wanted to sell, and make a profit to boot.

The affiliate also benefits, because they make a percentage of the profit.

In the case of the shirt, the readers of my friend’s blog didn’t pay more by buying the t-shirt off of her blog.

I lost a little bit of profit by having to pay my friend, but it wasn’t losing anything when she helped me sell, right?

My friend also gained some income, which was great for her!

Affiliate relationships can be very positive

The only time anyone does not benefit is if the affiliate is just spamming readers to buy stuff because they will make a commission off of a purchase.

That’s just gross and I think we all agree that’s a slimy practice.

Most of the time though, affiliate practices are great, and they are a fantastic way for readers to indirectly support their favorite bloggers and help keep independent media floating.

Given the amount of work most bloggers do for no compensation at all, this is a big win.

I Make Money from Affiliate Links

I took a course called Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing . It was super helpful in opening my eyes to the absolutely endless possibilities of affiliate marketing and for creating a plan with it. It’s not a free course, and yes, that’s an affiliate link, and yes, it’s worth it. It’s connected to a Facebook group and I am often there, so if you take the course, you’ll most likely see me in the group (say hi!).

The course does a thorough job of explaining exactly how to sign up for a million types of affiliate links, and how to get the whole ball rolling.

Affiliate Links Should Integrate with What You Write About Naturally

I had a real quandary when I started using affiliate links. The thing was, I wanted to continue blogging but I NEEDED to make money.

I also didn’t want to be a sell-out and hawk stuff I didn’t personally like or use for the sake of a dime… I’d like to think I have more integrity than that.

It took me a while to really see affiliate linkage opportunities in virtually everything that I wrote about. I’m not kidding. For example, I’d be writing a post about Signing Time and I wondered if there was an affiliate program with them. I looked it up, found out they did, applied, was accepted, then voila! I made money from them.

Where and When to Use Affiliate Links?

I’m a niche blogger. I blog about disability first and foremost, then moving into career and website development from a disability standpoint.

Because I’m a niche blogger, I tend to go directly to the sites that I have in mind.

I went straight to Signing Time, for example, because they made sense for me (I am deaf, I have a child with Down syndrome and I love Signing Time). I went directly to Tea Collection – I really like their stuff and they are so inclusive.

I think about things that I want to write about – like continuing with this blogging/website development tutorial series – and find the relevant affiliate links (start a blog? I use Bluehost – here’s my affiliate link which will get you started on your hosting!).

I use affiliate links from anyone and everyone it makes sense to link to. The idea in utilizing affiliate links is that you develop a wide range of relationships with different companies and you draw income slowly but surely from all.

Where to Find Affiliate Programs?

  1. Directly on a company website – look around the bottom part of the site – it’s usually there in small lettering “Affiliate Program” or “Partner”. If you don’t see it, contact the company and ask them if they have an affiliate program you can apply to.
  2. Big programs: Commission Junction, Rakuten, Shareasale – I wandered into all of these programs because the companies I liked and wanted to affiliate with handled their affiliate relationships within these frameworks. There are even more (take Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing for the whole ball of wax).

In Summary

Are affiliate links worth the work? Because make no mistake about it; it’s work. You need to find the companies, develop the relationships, get the links, create content that integrates with it in a way that feels natural to you and hope to get some financial return. It’s work.

I think affiliate links are a great option for some people but makes no sense at all for others. I know some people with niche audiences and low readerships who make good money on affiliate links and others (even despite large readerships) who don’t.

Making money with affiliate links is partly luck of the draw, partly timing, largely content, social media, and meeting someone online when you are giving them exactly what they are looking for in that particular moment.

Personally, I think it’s worth it, because once you have created your posts and set up the accompanying links, anything that you earn from that particular piece is passive income. For example, I make about $20 a month from Amazon just for links to books that I posted in book reviews 5 years ago! $20 is not a lot of money, but it’s something, and since it’s passive, it feels great.

For all of us with disabilities, making money through affiliate links can be great because of the time factor. Remember how it usually takes time for the affiliate links to catch on and start producing any money? But then, once they produce, they usually just keep ON producing as long as your site is up? Well, if you are on SSI/SSDI and have a cap to how much money you can make, affiliate links provide a little boost to your set income. Like a set dribble.

The other thing that is great about this type of income production is, again, the passivity. Once it’s set, it’s SET. So if you have flare up and can’t work or any type of a set back it does not matter: the money just keeps coming from that particular piece.

For us deaf, it’s great because it involves no hearing whatsoever.

The only piece that you need to be careful about is handling and tracking your earnings so that it comes under your SSI/SSDI cap amount. If you go over your cap amount, you could get cut off or face repercussions, so this is clearly something you want to be careful with.

There are unquestionable advantages to affiliate links for those of us with disabilities, so it’s a great thing to keep in mind as we decide how we want our blogs/websites to come together and how they will support us (if at all).

What is a vision board? How to create a vision board? These are the questions that this article will try to answer.

This was originally posted on this blog (and spotlighted on BlogHer) in 2012.

I am a career counselor and teacher by training and experience. I trust this process as a helpful tool in career and dream exploration.

If you are unfamiliar with it, I hope this article will be helpful.

 What is Vision?

The definition of “vision” that we are looking at with regard to creating a vision board is “the act or power of imagination.” 

[vizh-uhn]

a : the act or power of seeing : sight
2a : something seen in a dream, trance, or ecstasy; especially
b : a thought, concept, or object formed by the imagination
3a : the act or power of imagination
(for the full definition: vision)

 

A vision board is essentially a creation of imagination.

It is either compiling your dreams into a physical, viewable form, or it’s finding out what your dreams actually are, and compiling that in form that makes sense to you. It’s usually created with images, but if you are blind, I’m sure something more tactile would work.

I think many people in America confuse this bit about “vision” and about “wanting” something with what mainstream tells us we should want – stuff, mainly. You know, a new car, a big house, plump retirement plans. Slim bodies, ageless faces, yada, yada, yada.

What I found in my years of counseling people was that at the very heart of it, people don’t care so much about that stuff. No. In our core, in that deep and still place inside, we yearn for our own unique life experiences, for things that are not things, but rather feelings, emotions, opportunties, learning, growth. Love – we all want love.

When I heard that enough times to understand that it’s truly universal, I realized that there is room for us all.

What I mean when I say that I realized that there is room for us all is that I realized that none of us are actually in direct competition with each other. We’re not in direct competition with each other because none of us wants exactly the same thing. Each desire is unique, each vision of that desire is different, and the expression of it all is different.

 

We get tired, this shlepping from job to home to family to life and it takes its toll. It’s hard to frame that desire – pull it out, even – and I think we often keep it tucked away inside us as we go about the day-to-day.

And sometimes we don’t even know what it is we want.

Creating a vision board is a great exercise for fleshing out those desires, sometimes hidden, sometimes unknown and sometimes achingly clear. 

At whatever stage you might be, it’s a handy tool.

This is how I make my vision board:

What you need:

  • Magazines, lots of them, and a wide variety at that – even reach for the magazines that you don’t normally read. (beauty shops and the library are my go-to places for free old ‘zines)
  • Glue – I recommend using spray-on adhesive type, rubber cement and glue sticks. 
  • Scissors. Sharp ones. I usually have a razor blade as well, for some harder-to-cut items
  • Poster board. I think it’s worth it to just buy good presentation board (it’s between $3-5) rather than used cardboard, but whatever
  • Any other types of art/embellishments: glitter, pages from art books, story lines (I love Griffin and Sabine)… there are no rules here
  • Music is great. Something that truly floats your boat
  • Space
  • Time. I have done mine in increments, but you really need to have at least a couple hours an increment to really *get into it*

This session:

I created a vision board right after I got married.

It was a great vision board. It helped me actively develop my vision for that time, and helped me to see what my goals actually were.

It gave me something to dream about as well (babies! long driving trips to Mexico!)

 

That board served me well.

For this next board, I wanted to keep a few elements from the old one, like the newborn baby images, but wanted the rest of it to reflect my changed vision.

what is a vision board and how to make one

I set up my materials

 

My boy was working his cardboard model wheel on the table across from me.

 This is another thing that I love about making a vision board – while it’s easier to focus and do it alone (or with friends), if you are in a pinch, you can do it with your kid(s).

Just get them set up, have the music going and they will be happy.

I haven’t had the chance to work at it alone for a long, long time – and that’s okay.

This is a kid-friendly activity.

 

Getting Your Board Set Up

There are a few approaches to cutting/collecting what you want on your board.

In one, you have an idea of exactly what you want – and you find those images in the magazines, or you find them online and print them (or better, draw/paint them yourself!).

But sometimes you don’t know what you want.

Flipping through a wide variety of magazines and randomly cutting out the things that are interesting to you will serve you  with a big pile of images and maybe words that you can sift through and use – or not – later.

That’s important to remember because as you create your vision board and focus on what it is that makes YOU happy, don’t allow thoughts of possibility/impossibility to enter. Just focus on what visually makes you happy in the images.

Forget about what anyone told you that you ought to want or should do, forget about (or try to forget about) the years of conditioning on what “makes sense” or is “responsible.” Just flip through the magazines and cut out things that make you happy or you like. 

If you do this, then assemble and glue on the images, you will see themes emerge from what you cut out. This happens usually without you even being aware of it!

For this board, I was specifically seeking images of couples – My One True Darling Man and I have a really hard time managing the logistics of Date Night – and just spending time together the two of us.

Romance gets lost in the wayside of raising two small children. So I specifically wanted to have us reflected in my vision.

And…it’s hard to find pictures of happy normal couples! This is what I was coming up with:

Um, yeah. Or this:

 Totally us, no?

Redbook was a surprising fount of sexy-stuffs:

"twister"? a vibrator ad?!
"masque" - are you kidding me?!!!

Hilarious though they were, “intimate massager” and “flavor enhancer” visuals were not what I was looking for… 

My point: it can take a while sometimes before you find what you are looking for or what feels right to you.

Don’t settle for less.

 This little gem I loved – I wish I could find more like it.

Kids engaged in super-cool activity, kids exploring, kids traveling.

I was really looking for pieces that reflected what I wanted for my kids.

 

Vision Board Coming Together

My new vision board came together over a period of a couple of weeks.

It was exciting to see it emerge, this new vision that I have and will remain mine until either the vision shifts or new details emerge.

There were things that I was completely expecting to see there, like travel, living life with moxie.

I was surprised to see how much running-related ended up there – I guess it’s even more important to me to try and keep with running than I thought it was.

That’s another thing that I love about vision boarding: even when I think I know everything about the vision that is in my heart and what I want for my future, the action of creating tangible, visible evidence of that vision always gives me something to be surprised about, something that I wasn’t fully aware was there.

 

Where to Put Your Completed Vision Board

The act of creating the vision board was powerful process and the end product is important.

You want to be sure to place your vision board in an area of your house or office that you look at often. Above your computer or workstation, in your kitchen, or by your alter if you have one are all solid choices but you know what’s best.

The most important thing is to place it in an area that you look at often.

Tucked away behind something? No.

Your vision board stays out and in a place you can look at often, and absorb pieces of.

Take your completed vision board one step forward with journaling about the themes you see in your board.

Take those those themes and create a plan for yourself.

For more information on things to do with a completed vision board, sign up for my career development newsletter (here) – you’ll get all the new posts directly.

Vision Board: How to Make a Vision Board and Why it Matters

Why start a blog in 2018?! A lot of people think that blogging is a ship that has sailed. This post gets into reasons why it actually makes complete sense to start a blog right here and now.

Start a Blog?!

We all see the ads to “start a blog!“and the claims to “make money now by starting a blog!“around online, and well, 6 years ago, everyone had a blog.

Especially a mom-blog, right?!

They were as common as geckos are in Hawaii, absolutely everywhere.

But they have dried up. Perhaps it was just because the kids were growing up and life was just getting a hell of a lot busier.

A lot of people stopped blogging. Most everyone I knew who blogged has stopped.

So, WHY start a blog in 2018?

Why start a blog at this point in time? What would be the point? Blogging often costs money and definitely takes time. Why do that in this here and now; hasn’t that ship sailed already?

Well, I think that blogging, like anything else, is relevant for certain people, and certainly not for everyone.

Blogging is a great fit for people who:

  • have something to say
  • have something to sell
  • want to grow, creatively
  • have something to teach
  • want to make money in a non-traditional way
  • enjoy building community

Let’s talk about each of these in a little more detail, and why they makes sense in terms of blogging in 2018.

  1. You Have Something to Say

Some people are burning up inside with everything they need to must express.

Be it their vision of the world, their thoughts on the current social and economic realities in Sierra Leone, or what it’s like to go through the IEP process, they have this drive to communicate what is in their heart and mind.

They want to reach others, advocate. They want to push forward new thought constructs and have conversations about thing that matter to them.

A blog, being a platform, is the perfect place to craft out those pieces that must be expressed.

2. You Have Something to Sell

Blogs can also be stores.

You can integrate shops into your blog and sell directly to people.

Anything can be sold from a blog, really. You can sell your crafts, photography, ceramics; you could connect your blog to your e-bay or etsy stores and write about what you make – and include the direct links to actually sell it.

3. You Want to Grow, Creatively

Blogging is a never-ending learning experience and personally, that’s part of the reason why (after 10 years) I still blog. I love the learning; it keeps me hooked.

I love being able to explore the limits of what a site can do, how to expand what I see in my mind’s eye. The learning is ongoing in every avenue – digital tool use, graphics, marketing, social media – and it keeps it from getting stale.

4. You Have Something to Teach

If you are a teacher and would like to make income online, blogging is a great way to do it.

You can set up courses through plugins that you can integrate with your WordPress site. You can create password (and pay) protected areas on your blog whereby you can teach and actually earn money through it.

But maybe you don’t care about making dollars through it – you just love teaching and love connecting with people. Blogging is a great way to do it, as it’s a completely flexible tool.

You can integrate forums, chat areas, you can set up tutoring/mentoring spaces on your blog, or just create content that teaches people something in and of itself (kind of like what I’m doing in this post!).

5. You Want to Make Money

I hesitate to say this because I am so sick of reading blogging income reports like, “I made $100,000 last month blogging!” This might be true, but it takes time, SEO know-how, affiliate links and/or ads to make that kind of money.

You don’t just start writing on blogspot and BOOM, you make money!

No way, far from that. It’s unquestionably an investment in time, energy and your own money until you’ve gone through your learning curves and understand how to harness digital tools to actually make an income through your blog.

But it’s also true that you can make money blogging, and it’s worth it to do it.

Blogging income is often passive. It takes time to set it all up and it takes time to get it rolling – but once it’s rolling, it’s virtually unstoppable. It will continue to generate money for you through the affiliate links, through ads and traffic that you bring with your well-crafted and SEO-friendly posts.

If you build your blog into a solid business, you can also sell it, so everything that you do on your blog you can consider an investment.

6. You Enjoy Building Community

Blogging builds relationships.

Some of the people I like best in the world, I met through my blog.

What you put out there through your blog will attract like-minded people and community is the natural next step.

You can nurture that community and promote it if that’s something that you are attracted to.

_______________

Blogging is a Platform

In summary, a blog is a platform.

Now, you can have a platform with or without a blog, but a blog in and of itself helps to build a platform. Does that makes sense?

It’s kind of hard to have a blog and not have a platform.

Think about the definition of “platform“:

a (1) : a usually raised horizontal flat surface; especially : a raised flooring
b : a place or opportunity for public discussion

A blog is literally a place and opportunity for public discussion; it’s a digital surface upon which you can do anything. You can sell, teach, create, talk, expound, hang out, make friends, you name it, you can do it there.

2018 is actually a better time than ever to start a blog. 

start a blog in 2018There are a myriad of options out there for starting any kind of blog. You can choose free or self-hosted wordpress, you can choose from a huge variety of plugins to employ the tools you want to create the kind of blog or site that you desire.

As a person with a disability, it’s definitely a means of empowerment, as your blog can help you generate income, advocate, reach others, create community.

If any of this speaks to you, go for it!

This post is about MailChimp vs ConvertKit – it compares and contrasts the two email services and fleshes out some of the differences between them. There are affiliate links in the post.

An email subscription service is really important for your website. Not just your blog, but for any site: your online art gallery, poetry blog, whatever it is that you are doing online, your own subscription piece is really important.

It’s important because it’s your own list of people who are interested in what YOU do. Used well, it can set up the chains of interaction with your audience that will strengthen your connection to each other.

No-one can take your email list from you: it’s not owned by Facebook (like your pages and groups are), it’s not owned by Google (like plus or your email). This list, once you cultivate it and build it up, is yours alone. It’s something to treasure.

Having said, that, there are a plethora of services out there and it can be tough to choose.

This article is going to focus on two of the most popular services for bloggers, comparing and contrasting them to give the reader a clearer sense of what a good option for them might be.

MailChimp

About:

MailChimp is a popular email service for websites. It’s used by bloggers and small businesses, and is readily integrated with website plugins.

Pros:

  • MailChimp is free for a long time.
  • It’s fun, quirky with the fun monkey and thumbs up feedback.
  • Drag-and-drop visuals and newsletter set ups make creating really good-looking newsletters and emails easy.
  • Fantastic visual options for the newsletters
  • Support is swift, friendly and polite

Cons

  • It is complicated to set up and understand the sequence options (- like, when a reader clicks X link, they can get sent Z email, etc)
  • The language is not intuitive (“campaigns”, “lists”, “forms” – ugh)
  • It has funky pricing – it counts your readers by the list, not the email address, so you can get charged more than once for the same reader

Check Them Out

Click to check out MailChimp

MailChimp

About:

MailChimp is a popular email service for websites. It’s used by bloggers and small businesses, and is readily integrated with website plugins.

Pros:

  • MailChimp is free for a long time.
  • It’s fun, quirky with the fun monkey and thumbs up feedback.
  • Drag-and-drop visuals and newsletter set ups make creating really good-looking newsletters and emails easy.
  • Fantastic visual options for the newsletters
  • Support is swift, friendly and polite

Cons

  • It is complicated to set up and understand the sequence options (- like, when a reader clicks X link, they can get sent Z email, etc)
  • The language is not intuitive (“campaigns”, “lists”, “forms” – ugh)
  • It has funky pricing – it counts your readers by the list, not the email address, so you can get charged more than once for the same reader

Check Them Out

Click to check out MailChimp

A Personal Note: MailChimp vs. ConvertKit

I’ve done both.

I used ConvertKit for a while and loved them for their amazing support and easy integrations. I’m deaf though, and super-visual: I ended up missing the visual component of MailChimp terribly.

I found out about Paul Jarvis’ course, Chimp Essentials. The course taught me how to save money using MailChimp, how to integrate it properly with google analytics and set up all the sequences. This course is why I’m back with MailChimp – I just learned how to make it do all the things that ConvertKit does, but still have access to the visuals and great layouts.

If visuals were not such a big deal for me though, I’d go back to ConvertKit in a heartbeat.

Which is Best for YOU?

MailChimp vs. ConvertKit

 PriceEast of Use:
Intuitiveness
SupportDesignMail
Integrations
MailChimpCheap before you have over 2,000 subscribers or want to do more with your list Not so easy to set up email chains or more intricate listsGood support, really nice people. Gorgeous design; fun, popping gifs, easy drag-and-drop form buildersYes: Easy to set up the integrations from sites through plugins
ConvertKitExpensive before you have 2,000 or more subscribers. From then on, it's cheaperIntuitive, easy to set upExcellent support. Lots of patient and friendly hand holdingText only. No drag and drop email builders. Just plain text.Yes: Easy to set up the integrations from sites through plugins
A table comparing the two email services

MailChimp vs. ConvertKit

I really hope this post makes it easier for anyone reading to figure out what service might be best for them and their uses. Feedback is appreciated.

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This is custom heading element

Why Hire Someone With a Disability? The point of the post is to flesh out some of the general areas of discussion in this topic as well as my opinions on them.

A bit of background on myself: my Master’s degree is focused on Human Resource Development and Training (I read Harvard Business Review and Society of Human Resource Management stuff for fun!). I have worked in the career counseling and employer relations field for over two decades, from all sides of the table. That means that I’ve been on the hiring end, the job-seeking end and also the end that works with developing relationships with employers in the hope that they’ll hire someone from the program that I manage.

I have disabilities. I am deaf, have traumatic brain injury (TBI) and complex post traumatic brain disorder (C-PTSD).

Why hire someone with a disability?

When employers are asked this question, they usually strum up some stuff about “doing the right thing” or “being inclusive.” Sometimes it will hover over to “retention,” sort of like being that if you hire someone with a disability, gosh darn it, they’ll be so grateful, they’ll just stay working for you forever, so you won’t have to pay as much with retention and recruitment!

…that makes no sense

All of that boils down to hogwash in the end, because you know as well as I do that there is no such thing as “doing the right thing” when you hire someone. You hire people you like, people you think are capable and qualified to do the job, and that’s it, full stop.

Furthermore, employees are not going to look around and be like, “oh geez, Ernst & Young hired another deaf guy, I think I love them and want to work extra hard for them because they hire people just like me!

That being the case, let’s take another look at why anyone should hire a person with a disability.

1. Our Numbers

People with disabilities – I’m talking across the entire disability spectrum (deaf, blind, low vision, intellectual disability, neurodiverse, physically disabled, learning disabled, etc) represented some 19% of the US American population in 2010.

Now, that was 8 years ago, so you know that number has only gone up – you also know that many people were not even counted on the original number.

Americans with disabilities make up a huge portion of the population.  

What that means to me as an HR professional, is that certain careers are going to be really wanting/needing the perspectives and voices from the disability community.

Take marketing for example.

You saw what happened when Target started including kids with Down syndrome in their ads, right? The ads went viral, business boomed from within the target population, so much so that Target went and developed an Adaptive Clothing Line.

It makes sense to me that any and all businesses will want to have actual people with disabilities on their marketing teams to lend their professional perspectives on where and how to include us with disabilities in marketing campaigns. You are going to have Latinx, Asian and African-American on your teams, because no white dude can give accurate information on how to reach those populations.

Well, you can’t get accurate information on how to reach disabled populations – those 57+ million Americans with change to chunk – unless and until you really bring them and their expertise on board to your teams.

2. Our culture

This is where it can get a little weird, because of disability being (as they say) the only minority group anyone can join at any time.

There is a big difference between people born with their disabilities (or having acquired them very young) and those who become disabled as adults.

Those of us who grew up disabled tend to be savvy problem solvers. We have had to work hard all of our lives to figure stuff out, to be included, to make change, to attend that class, to get through that door. We’re also used to our respective disabilities. We know what types of accommodation we need, we know the flow.

This does need to be taken with the generational piece though, because, just like with the non-disabled, we have some pretty big differences between the baby-boomers who grew up with disabilities, gen x, y, the millennials and gen z’s coming around.

So, when you are looking at the disability community, you have to remember that cultural layers exist in our community, just as it does in every other mainstream community.

Within the disabled community though, there is culture. There are norms.

I hesitate to talk about the norms because I don’t want to promote stereotypes or the notions that we are what we call, “super crips.” Every person with a disability should be allowed the inalienable right to have really boring, dull lives without having to ever prove anything or be objectified as being “more than” on the basis of their disability (or worse, being an “inspiration” on the basis of their disability).

One of the norms, though, is being out-of-the-box thinkers.

Not all of us are. But a lot of us are.

We can’t help it, really, because we naturally think, hear, see, move, perceive, feel and sensate the world in ways that are less mainstream than most. We can’t help but be able to understand things that people without disabilities can’t.

Any HR professional worth their salt wants this on their team. Different perspectives and out of the box thinking equal new solutions to the same problems. It means being able to reach new audiences, it means an expanded market, it means MORE MONEY for the company.

3. Who we are and what that means

why hire someone with a disability - image of a woman with yellow dress and yellow framed sunglasses looking up. she has a nosing and dark hair and is attractive

I chose this image as the featured image for this post because this is actually a hell of a lot more descriptive of a lot of people with disabilities than the one with the suited guy using a wheelchair.

The vast majority of those of us with disabilities have non-visible disabilities.

Now, as I’ve said, a “disability” is a particular way of seeing, hearing, moving, feeling, thinking, sensating, learning (for more on the definition, read this post).

The numbers of our population grow every day, often with the inclusion of new disabilities. Our culture – both disabled and mainstream –  likewise evolve. Lady Gaga comes out as having fibromyalgia, Mariah Carey is bipolar and Halle Berry is nearly completely deaf in one ear. The list of famous people with depression and mental illness is a mile long.

What does this mean?

It means that disability – both non-visible as well as visible – is a part of the big ticket now. It means that when you include disability as a component of diversity into your hiring initiatives, and when you value what disability brings to the table by dint of hiring someone with a disability, you are making a statement that you (as an organization) are growing, moving and evolving with the times.

4. Access: Go beyond “wheelchair thinking”

One of the most important things is for you yourself to challenge the way you construct “disability” in and of itself.

You have got to get your mind out of “wheelchair thinking” – we don’t all use wheelchairs, quit thinking we do. We don’t all need particular types of access; quit thinking you know what we need (we will tell you when the time comes, so don’t jump ahead of yourself there).

In that reframing of your “wheelchair thinking,” consider what good HR is really about. Good HR is about creating an environment in which people’s knowledge, skills and talents are being used to the best of their capacity. It’s about strengthening your organization through diverse expertise.

When you work with anyone in your organization within an HR context, you need to figure out how that person best works. The beauty of working with people with disabilities is that most people with disabilities know that already.

That is, we already know what we need to do well at work – we’ve had years of trial and error at school, years of honing our accommodation needs and access requirements. We make it easier for an organization to work with us by dint of our ability to articulate what we need.

People without disabilities, by contrast, also have needs but lack the experience of having to articulate or hone their needs, so often cause more hiccups with managers than a person with a disability would.

So access needs are actually a positive, not a negative.

So, Why hire someone with a disability?

First of all, hire someone with a disability because they are qualified for the job.

Hire someone with a disability because you think outside the box and appreciate others who do, too.

Hire us because we bring a unique perspective to the table.

Hire us because you care about your bottom line and you realize that we can help you meet your goals.

Hire us because we’ll probably make your life a little easier.

Hire us for our good looks. Hire us for our sheet talent. Hire us cuz we made you think. Hire us for all of these reasons and more – but don’t hire us because it’s the “right thing to do”; it’s not.

It’s just the smart thing to do.

This post is about why your use of the word “retarded” actually makes you look stupid.

This is not a post about being politically correct and if you say anything about “being pc” I will reach through the computer and sprinkle legos all over your floor in the middle of the night, so don’t say I didn’t warn you.

I was humming along my Facebook feed when I came upon what started off as a really funny post about texting messages with a tattoo artist. It started off as funny, but then got old real fast when they slid down the slope of saying “are you retarded?” when the person was being completely dense and stupid, and I was left shaking my head with my face in my palm. I wasn’t angry or anything, just blown away that someone is still equating “retarded” with “stupid”.

So I’m writing a short post about why you should quit saying it, and I’m going to list them because not only do I love lists, but it’s proven that listicles do better as blog posts, and as a blogger, I’d like to see this actually read.

  1. “Retarded” Does NOT Equal “Stupid”

First of all, if you are saying the word “retarded” the way you think you want to be using it – as a pejorative to someone’s intelligence, you are wrong. “Retarded” as it used to relate to someone intelligence means “delayed.” It never meant stupid. It only meant delayed.

But that’s not even used any more.

No-one even uses it anymore, because we’ve gone beyond all that (except for some stragglers apparently). So your use of an outdated word, and your incorrect use of an outdated word to boot, makes you just look…kind of stupid.

2. Learning Disabilities or Developmental Disabilities Do Not Equal Stupid Either

Learning disabilities do not equal stupid. Developmental disabilities do not equal stupid either. Good grief, I wish I had a dollar bill for every time someone said something like, “she doesn’t have a learning disability; she’s not stupid!” or “wow! your child [with the developmental disability] is actually pretty smart..

I can’t believe we are having this conversation, or that anyone still says or thinks that a correlation between learning disabilities, developmental disabilities and stupidity exist.

I mean, we’ve watched all the movies. Forrest Gump comes immediately to mind, but there are a ton of movies (linked here) about disability. The common theme in them all is that of someone being misunderstood (and usually thought of as stupid) by dint of their disability, then the world is proven dead-wrong by the person with the disability. Amiright?  I mean, this is a THING; this is a trope, a norm – it’s all over the place with eye-rolling amounts of regularity.

And I say “eye rolling” because:

a) it’s annoying to me when we with disabilities are just not allowed to fail in movies, or we are not allowed to just be people, flaws and all. We have to be the supercrips (or super-whatever) and inspire the non-disabled.

b) it’s obvious that the trope – even used as often as it is, for whatever reason it is – is a fail for disability acceptance because people are still equating learning disabilities and developmental disabilities with stupidity!!

3. Quit Saying “Retarded” At All!

Like I said already, most of us have moved on from saying “retarded” for any reason at all anymore. Have you heard of “Spread the Word to End the Word“? There is a whole organization dedicated to getting the “r-word” off the radar once and for all. This is directly because people with developmental disabilities – who have historically been called “retarded” have asked everyone else to.

They’ve asked. We need to respond and hold up our end and find better words to use, words that actually mean what they say and say what they mean.

And if we don’t, we’re just being… stupid.

This post is about Target adaptive clothing, a line that came out in October of 2017.

There are affiliate links in this post, which means that if you buy something using a link from this post, I’ll get a small percentage from Target. You won’t pay any more money than if you had used a different link to get there, and you are helping to fund this site! Win-win. Read more on my disclosure page.

target ASL tee shirt

The Target adaptive clothing line came out late last year. The line was starting out with kid’s clothes, making adaptive clothing within the Cat & Jack brand (which I love and clothe my kids almost exclusively in, because they have the ASL t’s (see left) and the “Kind is Cool” stuff)

The kid’s adaptive clothing line is awesome. It has the whole tamale – swimsuits, pants, shirts,

Adaptive Swim
swim
Adaptive Jeans
jeans
target shirts

I liked how the clothes come with strategic holes for ports and tubes, and most clothing is a little more spacious in case diapers are being used.

I also liked how so many models on the site had disabilities.

I wanted more variety though. I was specifically looking for the ASL shirts and more from the “Kind is Cool” wear, but there wasn’t much. I am going to cut them slack though, since the line just started about 6 months ago. Hopefully they will be adding more soon.

Speaking of Adding More to the Target Adaptive Clothing Line…!

There are NO clothes for men! There aren’t that many for grown women either, but at least there is something. I’m hoping Target revs up and gets the men’s section going (you know that it’s not just women and children who have disabilities, right, Target?!!).

The clothes for women are cute. Not a huge selection, but cute.

I really liked the jeans, which (besides being fun and trendy), promise to help reduce pressure points with the use of flattened seams, and have high-rise backs and wider-leg construction.

Target Adaptive Jeans
Target adaptive clothing

The shirts were also cute, so much so that even though I do not personally need adaptive clothing, I found myself shopping along.

target adaptive clothing
Target Sensory Friendly Adaptive Clothing Shirt
target sensory friendly dress

They only had one dress and one skirt featured on their site – and the skirt was sold out. I wasn’t sure how adaptive the dress really was… but it’s cute.

So, all in all, I’m going to say it’s a solid start.

I’m looking forward to seeing an expanded line that more people across the disability spectrum will identify with and feel represents them and their particular needs and interests.

"Kids" with disabilities = 25 years and younger. If you are over 25, please click here to read my post on Free Stuff for Adults with Disabilities

Free Stuff for Kids with Disabilities

We all love free stuff, but sometimes when you are raising a kid with a disability or special need, you REALLY love free stuff – or more accurately, you really NEED the free stuff, because disability or special needs can be expensive. Here’s a short list of some great free stuff for kids with disabilities or special needs*, focusing on products, services and money.

Scholarships

Ruby’s Rainbow: Scholarships for people with Intellectual Disabilities to attend higher education.

JLV Counseling’s Clearinghouse of Scholarships for People with Disabilities: Comprehensive list of scholarships available to people with disabilities, categorized by disability.

Fun Stuff

Challenge Air: A child with a disability can learn to fly a plane!

Dream Factory: dream wishes fulfilled for kids of all different disabilities.

Make-A-Wish: Kids have to have a ‘life-threatening condition’ and be between the ages of 2.5 and 18 to get their wish of a lifetime.

Sunshine Foundation: dream wishes fulfilled for kids of all different disabilities.

Children’s Wish Foundation International: more dream wishes fulfilled.

Financial Planning

Financial planning is incredibly important for families in which disability is present. Neglecting this might mean that your child will be left destitute or institutionalized upon your passing. Here are some free resources to help you plan:

ABLE Account: understand the ABLE accounts.

The Red Book: on the heels of understanding ABLE accounts is “The Red Book” – Social Security’s annual book on benefits. The link provided is to a pdf of the book.

Disability Benefits 101: tools and information on employment, health coverage, and benefits. Not all states are set up with the calculator, but World Institute on Disability has a lot of other information on financial planning and benefits – check out their books and resources here.

Free Passes

National Park Service: free lifetime pass to US national parks and more. There are some requirements and stipulations, so read through the application – which is linked here.

State Park Service: state parks have a disability discount – look up your state for more information and for the application. California’s is linked here.

Disney Disability Pass: this is changing as a result of the abuse, but it still helps families with a child with a disability or adults with disabilities. Check it out.

Bikes & iPads (and more)

Bikes: here’s a comprehensive list from the Friendship Circle’s blog of places to turn to for an adaptive bike. (note: scroll down – the formatting of their post is a little different and it kind of threw me off for a minute).

Bikes, Wheelchairs, Adaptive Equipment and more: Variety’s “Freedom Program” funds a lot. Check out the program here. Apply for help here.

Bikes, iPads & More: Gifts from the Heart for Down’s funds pretty much anything for kids with Down syndrome. Their application list is full as of 12/16; bookmark it if it’s relevant to you, and check back later.

iPads: Danny’s Wish awards iPads to kids with Autism. Applications are open from Sept-December 31st every year; iPads given out in April.

iPad Loans: Center for Accessible Technology has an iPad loan program, whereby you can try out an iPad and apps to see if it’s a fit. They will also work with you to see what will be helpful for your child.

Foundations & Grants

Foundations and Grants are a fabulous way to go. Finding the right fit can take a little research, but it’s well worth it. Here are some tips to get you started:

  1. Check in with the local disability-specific organization that your child matches (- for us it was the Down syndrome Connection of the Bay Area). Ask for information they might have about grants, foundations, etc that will help cover costs of bikes, iPads, etc. Apply that way.
  2. Google locally, “location-name + disability + grants foundations” – keep playing with the key words.
  3. Look into the Foundation Center: they have information on foundations all across the world (not just the United States).

Some Foundations to Put on Your Radar:

Danielle’s Foundation: helping kids with Cerebral Palsy and brain injury gain access to therapies, equipment and other benefits.

Lindsay Foundation: comprehensive help for kids across the disability spectrum (from therapy to equipment and much, much more)

First Hand Foundation: worldwide. Help in all areas of the disability spectrum, providing assistance to getting a hearing aid or wheelchair to transport to and from therapy.

ACT Today! : Helping families who have a child on the Autism Spectrum with care and treatment.

Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism: “helping families live life to the fullest”

Transport

Angel Flight: free air transportation for any legitimate, charitable, medically related need.

First Hand Foundation: providing gas money, parking and transportation related to a child’s care, vehicle medications, equipment and more.

Books

National Library Service (for the Blind & Physically Handicapped): free library program of braille and audio materials circulated to eligible borrowers in the United States by postage-free mail.

Bookshare: An accessible online library for people with print disabilities.

Learning Ally: Audio books and learning tools.

 

*Note

“Special Needs” do not equal disability. These words should not be used interchangeably. Some people may have a disability but no special needs; others may have special needs but no disability. “Special Needs” is an education term; “disability” is a physical/cultural term.

PS

Thanks to everyone on Facebook who helped me out with this list – especially the incomparable Amy Allison!

Please add links to places that you’ve found to be helpful or know about in the comments so that everyone can benefit. Thanks!

Funniest Family Friendly Movies of All Time: 2017 Edition

Funniest family friendly movies of all time: we all need a handy-dandy list to turn to when we forget what once made us laugh, right?

I’ve made this list “family friendly” which means that the bulk of the movies I’m recommending are really kid movies. I have to do this because I’m a mom and I almost never get time to watch movies on my own; for me, it’s watch with the kids or not at all.

These are the ones that I think are funny.

Disclosure: There are some affiliate links below, but these are all products I highly recommend. I won’t put anything on this page that I haven’t verified and/or personally watched. Please read my disclosure page for more info.

Funny Kid Movies

Minions.

Minions is our family’s go-to funny movie. We have watched it a million-billion times and it never gets old. It’s easy, hilarious, non-offensive and light.

The Lego Movie

The Lego Movie is a bit of a satire and the humor is kind of edgy. It always makes us laugh.

 

Despicable Me 1 & 2

Despicable Me 1 & 2. We love them. I guess it figures, since Minions is our go-to movie. But yeah, we can watch Despicable Me 1 or 2 over and over and not get tired of it. The jokes are classic to us, and Mack loves Victor’s dance moves.

 

Storks

Storks made us laugh. It’s not particularly deep, but we aren’t looking for that. We’re looking for funny, and we laughed.

 

Enchanted

Enchanted was a winner – it was frothy and princess-y enough to hold Moxie’s attention, battle-prince-y enough for Mack and with a fun enough story line to make Micah and I laugh.

A Simple Wish

A Simple Wish. Mack and Moxie don’t like this movie much, but Micah and I die of laughing when we see it (in a holy-cow, ‘nooooooo!‘ kind of way). It’s hilarious and awful. Awfully hilarious.

The 3 Amigos

The 3 Amigos: 8-year old Micah’s on the fence about this (a little too slapstick for him) but my husband Mikey and I love it!

 

Finding Dory

Finding Dory is funny and doubles as a disability-awareness movie. Win-win for our family. We love it, along with Finding Nemo (of course! Nemo!!!!)

Kung Fu Panda 1, 2 & 3

Kung Fu Panda 1, 2 & 3 are all super funny, with lovely life lessons woven in the tight story threads. All 3 kids love it, which is saying something, because there is no frothy-princess-y stuff in here.

A Christmas Story

A Christmas Story – Christmas or not, this movie always makes me laugh. My kids seem like they are just laughing at watching me laugh (more than laughing at the movie itself). Whatever floats their boat, it works. I love this movie.

Rio 1 & 2

Rio 1 & 2. I personally like Rio 2 more than Rio 1 – I think it’s funnier and the music is awesome. But Rio 1 wasn’t a slouch of a movie either – my daughter Moxie likes Rio 1 better. Watch ’em both if you haven’t already – they are both funny and your kids will love them (but if you have to choose, I’d say go for Rio 2).

Shaun the Sheep & Timmy Time

Shaun the Sheep is a TV series and a movie. I haven’t seen the movie yet, so I can’t say if it’s any good, but the TV series is the kind that is so funny that it has you rolling around, crying. If you sign up for Amazon Prime (Try it for free for 30 days here), you get free shipping and bunch of stuff in addition to access to Shaun the Sheep and Timmy Time.

Zootopia

Zootopia – I was torn between adding this or not. It’s funny, yeah, but it’s also really deep. It’s a powerful movie that I think I’d recommend more as an introduction to getting kids to think about race, privilege and social justice more than as a movie to sit down with and laugh-your-cares-away. You know what I mean? So, if you are looking for a funny movie with a little more to chew on, this one is for you.

Book of Life

Book of Life isn’t the funniest movie out there. I think it qualifies more as “mildly amusing and light-hearted.” It’s also a hit with all 3 of my kids and the soundtrack is the best-loved one after Moana.

Movies That Are Iffy For Kids: Use Your Discretion

Rat Race

Rat Race. This movie makes me laugh. Full stop. Super funny, not particularly deep, but funny.

 

Office Space

Office Space. Anyone who has ever worked in an office has to love this movie. It’s ridiculously on-target with every little annoying detail an office has ever offered to it’s workers: the boss, the copy machine, “flair” – it’s awesome.

Airplane!

Airplane! – hey, don’t hit it. It’s a classic!

 

The Naked Gun

The Naked Gun. If we have Airplane, we have to include The Naked Gun. The Naked Gun was my brother and my own favorite movie for a long time, along with the Police Academy series.

Dumb and Dumber

Dumb and Dumber is a fantastic non-thinking movie. It’s the one you put on to space out with, having checked your brain in at the door.

This is accompanied by all of the Ace Ventura movies.

That's it

I’m going to stop here, before I get too carried away with more movies.

The point of this was to give you a handy list of funny movies that you can watch with your kids, because it’s almost impossible for you find the time to watch anything without them, right?!

Pop one in and laugh a little.

(and add your own favorites in the comments)

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Adults with disabilities: 25 years old and older. For people younger than 25, click HERE to go my post on Free Stuff for Kids with Disabilities

This article is all about free stuff for adults with disabilities (and/or special needs*) Why? Because there are a more than a few lists of free things, resources and help out there for kids with disabilities (and/or special needs*), but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen one for adults with disabilities.

Which is either flattering or really depressing. Flattering, because it implies that we adults with disabilities have it all together and don’t need help, or depressing because there just isn’t much out there, and resources think that they are promoting them so well that lists of this type don’t seem necessary.

Either way you have it, I think it’s time to compile a handy list, and to update it as often as possible.

Scholarships

Personal story: I was kicking myself after I completed graduate school (on my own dime, time and with private loans) and found out that being deaf is considered a disability! As an honors student straight through, I could have easily gotten a scholarship, but I had no idea that I counted as “disabled”. Don’t be like me. Check these out:

JLV Counseling’s Clearinghouse of Scholarships for People with Disabilities: Comprehensive list of scholarships available to people with disabilities, categorized by disability.

Ruby’s Rainbow: Scholarships for people with Intellectual Disabilities to attend higher education.

Department of Vocational Rehabilitation: the point of DVR/DOR is to help people with disabilities find and keep jobs that suit them. If you need higher education in order to find and keep a job that suits you, DVR/DOR should help. This is not a rule but it is definitely an avenue to explore.

Financial Aid at Your Local University:

  • sit down with a financial aid counselor (not a student helper!) and request information on all relevant grants, scholarships, opportunities, etc related to disability.
  • meet with the disability services at your local university and request all information related to grants, scholarships, opportunities, etc.
  • meet with the career counselor who works with disability/disability services at your local university and request information related to grants, scholarships, opportunities, etc. They might also have information on work opportunities.

Financial Planning

Financial planning is incredibly important for us adults with disabilities. Here are some free resources to help:

ABLE Account: understand the ABLE accounts. We can save money in an account that will not go against SSI/SSDI.

The Red Book: on the heels of understanding ABLE accounts is “The Red Book” – Social Security’s annual book on benefits. The link provided is to a pdf of the book.

Disability Benefits 101: tools and information on employment, health coverage, and benefits. Not all states are set up with the calculator, but World Institute on Disability has a lot of other information on financial planning and benefits – check out their books and resources here.

PASS Plans: “A Plan for Achieving Self-Support (PASS) allows a person with a disability to set aside otherwise countable income and/or resources for a specific period of time in order to achieve a work goal. Any person who receives SSI benefits,or who might qualify for SSI, or any person receives SSDI (or a similar benefit) and could qualify for SSI, may be able to have a PASS. There is no limit to the number of successful PASS plans a person may use in a lifetime.”

Free Passes

National Park Service: free lifetime pass to US national parks and more. There are some requirements and stipulations, so read through the application – which is linked here.

State Park Service: state parks have a disability discount – look up your state for more information and for the application. California’s is linked here.

Disney Disability Pass: this is changing as a result of the abuse, but it still helps us adults with disabilities.

Travel

I’m deaf, with PTSD & TBI and I have never had much money. I’m also a travel junkie. I have found ways to travel the world for free or cheap on numerous occasions.

Obviously, my travel parameters are going to be different from those who have disabilities different from mine – I don’t use a wheelchair, I don’t use an attendant, and I can speak for myself.

BUT the first rule of travel is something like, “If you don’t believe it, nobody will.”

You have absolutely got to hold tight to what you want and what your vision is. There is a way to accomplish it, if you are willing to do the research to figure out how to make it happen (on a dime that is not yours).

Here are some places to start:

MIUSA: Mobility International. These guys are awesome – I want to work for them! They have a ton of information on traveling abroad, financial resources, etc, listed clearly and cleanly in their fantastic website. They also have staff that you can contact with  more direct and trip-specific questions. I did, when we were going to Mexico, and they were helpful. Furthermore – they have information for Americans going abroad and people outside the US coming to the US.

The Foundation Center: search foundations to apply for funds. Don’t forget your intersections – that is, if you are poor or a female or a racial minority or LGTBQ, search under those groups as well for foundations that apply to you.

Transitions Abroad: one of the king-beasts in websites for living/working abroad (along with Dave’s ESL Cafe) – definitely opportunities to find free ways to travel or jobs.

Google: I don’t mean to be flippant, but you have to research. A simple query of “free travel” led to this good (and recent) article.

Articles like that are good but don’t feature people who use wheelchairs in the photos, nor do they have people walking around using canes and service dogs! Here we go back to the first rule: “If you don’t believe it, nobody will.” You have to see yourself doing what you want to do, and really believe you can do it – and then reach out. Do you disclose? Do you have to? You can treat a lot of these travel opportunities as a job, and use JAN’s handy disclosure articles to help you. Linked here.

Medical

Deshae Lott Quality of Life Grants: “works to help American citizens with severe mobility limitations maintain hopeful, purposeful, engaged lives by providing some financial support for medically-necessary home-health-care services not covered by insurance, private or governmental, and not covered by any other non-profit organization.”

Medicaid: from a friend, “the full range of benefits from medicaid sometimes goes overlooked. they will pay for changes in your house so it is more accessible (5k every 5 years), they offer rides to appointments, reimbursement for travel to appointments, a case worker you can contact directly, and in-home caretaker hours..”

Easterseals: I feel a little guilty putting this in because the site is so vague and huge. Evidently though, they can be useful? You are supposed to find the branch office close to where you live, and see what they are able to offer you. Sounds like fun!

REquipment: wow, ’bout time. Used medical equipment, for free, without hassle from insurance.

Department of Vocational Rehabilitation: the point of a DOR/DVR is to help people with disabilities find and keep jobs. If you need some medical equipment (or something along those lines) in order to find and keep a job, they will usually help you. I got my digital hearing aids that way, years ago, and those bubbas aren’t cheap.

Assistive Technology

Department of Rehabilitation: The point of DOR/DVR is to help people with disabilities find and keep jobs (I know, I sound like a broken record player, I think that’s the 3rd time I’ve said that in this post). It’s an enormous goal and huge in it’s variables. Say you need a speech device in order to go to school so you can receive training so that you can be a train operator? = DOR will consider paying for your speech device AND tuition that is not covered by financial aid. A blind stylus? What about an iPad for deaf people, for Facetime/Skype online learning? I mean, DOR covers a lot of stuff, but you need to be able to fit what you are asking into the framework of being able to find and keep a job.

Center for Accessible Technology: they have an iPad loan program (and more, they are awesome, make sure you get to know them).

National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (gotta love that name!): their description of what is out there is comprehensive and pretty accurate. It’s a good place to read through, then move on to their list of helpful organizations to reach out to, linked here.

Books

National Library Service (for the Blind & Physically Handicapped): free library program of braille and audio materials circulated to eligible borrowers in the United States by postage-free mail.

Bookshare: An accessible online library for people with print disabilities.

Learning Ally: Audio books and learning tools.

Discounts

There are a ton of discounts out there for us, way too many to list. I think instead of listing, it might be helpful for me to remind you to just ask.

Now, that can be a real pain in the butt, and you have to have enough spoons on hand to go through that whole, “hey! do you have a discount for people with disabilities?” and wait while they kind of look you up and down while searching through their memory banks.

If this is trying for you, some tips:

  1. Do you have a kid? Say it’s for your kid, until they are old enough to glare at you (‘Mom, why are you asking for a discount on your bifocals for me?‘)
  2. After you ask, look pointedly at your companion. Extra points if your companion doesn’t seem to have a disability!
  3. Do a little homework first and find out if the place has a reputation or not for being good community members – if not, then you are “offering an opportunity” and if so, you are “glad to be doing business with people who care.” Or something like that. 
  4. Keep it light and friendly. If you can’t, don’t ask because it’s not worth the energy.
  5. Keep notes! Take down the person’s name and address them by their name! Write a thank-you note if they were awesome.

Want more? Here’s a HuffPo article on discounts/disability (thanks, Amy!)

That's it

That’s all I have now.

Many thanks to everyone on Facebook who helped with leads. Since this is the first “Free Stuff for Adults with Disabilities” post that I’ve ever written, it would be incredibly helpful to me and to everyone reading if you would add whatever leads you know of in the comments, along with the link.

Sharing is caring, right?!

____________________________________

*Note: 

“Special Needs” do not equal disability. These words should not be used interchangeably. Some people may have a disability but no special needs; others may have special needs but no disability. “Special Needs” is an education term; “disability” is a physical/cultural term.

I’ve got to admit that when I joined the “special needs” community 3 years ago by way of Moxie, I was confused with all the “special needs” this and that. “Disability”, I was and am completely used to. But “special needs”? I wasn’t sure about it all, it really didn’t seem to make sense.

It seemed to me that the words were being used fairly interchangeably, but that most parents of kids with non-visible disabilities like Autism or with less-visible disabilities like Down syndrome, preferred the term “special needs” and used it way more than they’d use “disabled” (- if “disabled” was even used at all).

So what do they both mean anyway?

dis-a-bled: [dis-ey-buh-ld] adjective

1. crippled; injured; incapacitated.

noun

2. (used with a plural verb) persons who are crippled, injured, or incapacitated

I’m disabled – but I’m not, as dictionary.com puts it, “crippled, injured; incapacitated.”

No, in fact, I think I’m quite highly able and in full capacity of my own self.

So what do we have here? To me, we have a pretty inaccurate descriptive word that doesn’t mean a lot. It’s a word that harkens to the “medical model” of disability; that is, ” a sociopolitical model by which illness or disability, being the result of a physical condition intrinsic to the individual (it is part of that individual’s own body), may reduce the individual’s quality of life, and cause clear disadvantages to the individual.” (- see wikipedia).

It’s saying that because I can’t hear without hearing aids, because I can’t see without glasses, because I can’t mentally function without drugs or care and because my brain switches off when under stress, I’m “crippled, injured; incapacitated.”

And that would be a definition of “disabled”, of “disability”.

What then is are “special needs”?  Are they any different from typical needs, or from the definition of disability/disabled?

According to dictionary.com, “special needs” are:

Special Needs: (plural noun)

The special educational requirements of those with learning difficulties, emotional or behavioral problems, or physical disabilities.

So it appears that they are educational requirements.

“Special needs” is about education “disability” is about your body, your brain, your senses being wired and tapped in a unique way.

I have a hunch that it’s more than this, of course, as used by parents of kids with disabilities.

“Special needs” has a softer sound to it. Like, “my kid is NORMAL; s/he just has some needs that are singular, uncommon!” “Special needs” doesn’t sound quite as stigmatized as “disabled” does; doesn’t sound as… oh, “wheelchair bound” or “crippled“.

It’s just kind of like, ‘little Johnny is remarkable’ and not so much ‘little Johnny has constant seizures.”

I think a big problem in all of this is the cloak of doom n’ gloom that surrounds the word “disability”. We – as a society – seem to dislike the word “disability”. We just don’t dig it.

But we don’t have an actual word to replace it that works.

So people within the disabled community have gone about reclaiming the word “disabled”, taking it within the tribal sort of context, placing the social model of disability on it, and giving the medical model the bird. Cool, that works, we can do this.

Only, by keeping “special needs” on the mainstream market, by using “special needs” interchangeably with “disability”, we are weakening both, losing the value and meaning of both.

The words are not interchangeable.

Many kids without disabilities are on the special needs track in school; many people with special needs do not have a disability. Many people with a disability do not have special needs.

 “disability” DOES NOT EQUAL “special needs”

And – while we are talking about it – “special needs” is just as inaccurate term as “disability” is – because who on earth does not have special needs? WE ALL DO. The word is, in and of itself, just flat out misleading, grouping together people in an educational setting and saying, “these kids need to be taught differently than everyone else” – but as a former teacher, I can tell you with conviction that EVERYONE needs to be taught differently than EVERYONE else! We all learn in unique ways; we all have needs that are special unto ourselves!

“Disability” does not need to be such a scary, unsexy, stigmatizing word. We are the ones that give words their power, after all.

If we use it, and use it well, use it often, use it in good ways, in describing ourselves, our children – all those who have a way of using their minds, senses, bodies (- and in my opinion, feelings) in a way that currently signals “impairment” – then we change the power that lies in the word. We transform it. And we have that power, you know. We can transform words.

Disability” does not need to be a dirty word. It does not need to be something to be embarrassed or ashamed of. Rather, it holds the potential to a power to see and experience the world in a completely different way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My love can’t be bought, y’all – but if I’m promoting stuff I use and recommend anyway, I’ll add an affiliate link if it’s possible. What that means is that you pay NO MORE than you would anyway, but I get some kind of cut that will help pay for this site to keep going. Win/win.
Thanks for scratching my back, and I’ll keep scratching yours by developing kick-ass content that actually helps you out in some way.

WordPress plugins are used to add functionality to your WordPress site.

Using the metaphor of your WordPress site being like your house (self-hosted WordPress being on property you own), plugins are like the electricity, heating, insulation, security system, doorbell, windows, running water (and so forth) in your house.

Plugins keep your site a safe and happy place. They allow your visitors to sign up for your newsletters, they let you design you content the way you want, they allow for accessibility options, they give your readers a way to contact you, they allow you to build and host forums on your site, and so. much. more.

Plugins are part of what makes having a self-hosted WordPress site worth it, because WordPress.com (hosted by Automattic) only allows a limited array of plugins. You can literally do anything to your site with plugins, and they are absolutely the funnest, most awesome thing on WordPress!

But there are things to be aware of with them:

First of all, plugins slow your site down. You really don’t want to go nuts with adding a ton of them because your site will slow to a crawl and all of your readers will run away.

Second, plugin incompatibility can break your site. You want to be sure to only add plugins that have been updated recently and that are compatible with your version of WordPress (which should be the latest version!).

Use them and have fun with them, by all means, but be careful.

Top WordPress Plugins:

  1. Akismet: this is a free plugin that keeps sites safe and spam out. It’s an essential.
  2. Jetpack: this is a massive plugin that Automattic puts out that can do pretty much everything. I use it for automatically publishing my content on social media, speeding up my site. The free bundle comes with related posts, site stats, photo galleries, portfolios, author information and so much more. I don’t personally like Jetpack as much as I used to, but I still think it’s a very useful free plugin, especially when you are first getting used to plugins.
  3. Social Warfare Pro: this is a paid plugin. What this plugin does is it allows me to hand-craft each post for Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest from the back end. It allows me to write out each social media blurb for all content that I produce. It also carries over all of my social media share counts and forces a social media share count regeneration. I use this plugin for my social sharing too.
  4. Yoast SEO: I use the free version. Yoast runs by a red-yellow-green light system in which it breaks down your content by assessing how SEO-friendly it is. You can make changes to your content until you hit the green light; then publish.
  5. WPBakery Page Builder (formerly called Visual Composer): this is a paid plugin, and absolutely indispensable. I use this plugin to build all of my pages, posts, and really, my entire site. I kind of wonder what the point of having a theme is anymore, because it’s so easy to make a site from scratch using WPBakery Page Builder.
  6. SumoMe: I use the free version of this on four of my sites, and the paid version on this one. The paid version is pretty expensive – I got it on a Cyber Monday deal at something like 75% off, and I’m going to be looking for it again this year. The free version is great but the paid version is absolutely incredible. It has fantastic social share options, supremely wonderful form building for email and newsletter sign ups, and streamlined linking to MailChimp (or any email subscription service) and sequenced integration. It also has live chat! Google analytics, “heat maps” (for sensing which pages are receiving action), excellent social sharing. I think this is the best all-round plugin out there.
  7. Pretty Link: I use the free version. This plugin takes any long link, be it an affiliate link or just a long post title, and allows you to create something easier to remember and more palatable. So, instead of say, http://goto.cupshop.com/c//357720/81938/2092357720/81938/2092/affjump, Pretty Link will make it look like  http://www.meriahnichols.com/jump.
  8. WP Fastest Cache: It’s a free plugin that speeds up sites by deleting caches. W3 Total Cache works just as well.
  9. Monster Insights: it’s an easy-to-use (and free!) plugin for getting google analytics on your site. I can get lazy and use Jetpack for site stats, but as a site with partners and sponsors, it’s very important to have google analytics running, because my site partners want to see my stats from google, not from Jetpack.
  10. Pro Instagram Feed (by Smash Balloon): This is a paid plugin, and it’s the best for displaying an Instagram feed. It allows for multiple feeds (so, just buy one plugin license for up to 5 sites, with multiple Instagram accounts). It is completely customizable, and allows me to display the award-winning photos from the 365 Days with Disability Instagram Account that I run through this site.
  11. WP Author Bio: there are free versions of this out there, but I really liked this. It has tabs that include most recent posts, social media, and it’s fully customizable for color, photo, etc.
  12. WP Accessibility: Since I don’t use a screen reader or specific technology for reading on a website, I don’t actually know how effective this plugin is. But it has good reviews, and it doesn’t clog my site, so that’s a start.
  13. Backup: There are a lot of great backup plugins. I use Backup Buddy, but I am going to say that it’s just important to have a backup plan; not necessarily this particular plugin.
  14. Insert Headers and Footers: A Free plugin that lets you stay well the hell away from your theme code, but still add in tracking pixels and code.

More Essential Plugins for WordPress

I use a some essential plugins related to photos: EWWW Image Optimizer to compress my photos and speed up the loading time is the most important one.

I also use some for site design and building, using WPBakery (Visual Composer) as a foundation: Massive Add-ons and kaswara are my favorites, but I only recommend these or anything like these if you like the drag-drop concept of WPBakery (Visual Composer) and have a clear idea of what you want your site to look like.

Other Plugins

Theme Plugins:

My theme comes with required plugins (like Contact Form 7, Slider Revolution, Top 10) but I wouldn’t personally choose those; they don’t add enough value to me to clog down my site.

Mail Plugins:

I use MailChimp for my mail service. I have used ConvertKit as well – I like them both for different reasons but I don’t think you can go wrong with either.

There you have it. A few of the essential wordpress plugins, both free and paid. I’d love to hear what you have, especially any plugins that are related to accessibility that you know work well.

In the meantime, if you want to subscribe to hear of any new posts that I write on Website Development, just add your name below and you’ll be sent them directly 😉

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ABLEnow is sponsoring this post, but it’s not sponsoring my love for this program or its ease of use. All ideas and opinions are mine alone.

All of us in the disability community know how messed up the system is for us. We’ve been stuck in poverty for decades, due to the conditions that surround government support systems like SSI and Medicaid.

What that means is that the healthcare system is tied to our disability benefits. If we make too much money, our disability benefits are cut and we need to pay for our healthcare ourselves.  Which would not be a problem if our healthcare was not so prohibitively expensive.  Paul Longmore wrote about this extensively in his classic, “Why I Burned My Book,” and sadly, it’s just as relevant today as it was when he first wrote it.

Saving and ‘getting ahead’ in any way, shape or form seemed like a cruel joke before the ABLE Act was passed in 2014.

About the ABLE Act

The Stephen Beck Jr. Achieving a Better Life Experience Act of 2014 – better known as the ABLE Act – became federal law in 2014. It was the direct result of actions led by Steve Beck, a parent of a child with Down syndrome, self-advocates and other parents of children with disabilities. The point of the ABLE Act is to allow people with disabilities to expand the $2,000 savings cap for anyone who receives means-tested benefits such as SSI and Medicaid.

Here’s a video that explains a bit about ABLEnow:

ABLEnow is one of the fastest-growing ABLE programs in the country, with accounts in all 50 states.  It’s administered by Virginia529, the largest college savings plan in the US (which now has an expanded mission to meet the needs of individuals with disabilities).

What does this mean in real-speak?

It means that it’s super easy to set up an account with ABLEnow, even as a resident of California. My state does not have an ABLE program yet, but I didn’t have to wait to open my account. It also means I can confidently enroll in one of the country’s first ABLE programs, managed by a reputable agency that has helped people save for more than 20 years.

What’s the catch?

I wondered what this was. I mean, it all sounded a little too good to be true. Savings while on disability benefits?! Doesn’t matter what state you are in?!

The catches for using/opening an ABLE account, as I see it, are two:

  1. You have to have acquired your disability before the age of 26.
  2. You have to use what you save on something that is disability-related.

The first catch, well, it’s pretty straightforward. You have to have had your disability before you turned 26. I believe advocates in the disability community are trying to amend the ABLE Act to expand that, but for now, it is what it is (and that really sucks for people who have acquired disabilities).

The second means that you should spend money from the ABLE account on things that you can relate back to your disability and independence. Food and shelter count, so does transport and so forth. Keeping your receipts sounds wise (I know I will be, just in case).

And, yes: I set up my own account. I am eligible for an ABLE account based on my disability – being deaf counts!

Below is a slideshow of screenshots of the entire process.

I literally clicked a few times and within 15 minutes (or, while my coffee was still hot), had it set up. I am not kidding – I did have to follow up with sending proof of my identity, but that was IT.

ABLEnow

My ABLEnow account comes with its own debit card that I can transfer money to from my bank account. I can maintain a regular budget for my disability-related expenses, and use the ABLEnow debit card to easily pay for those expenses.

For more information on what counts as a qualified disability expense, ABLEnow 

This is a game changer; it is HUGE.

Being able to put away money for my own future – which will, of course, directly affect my kids – is enormous.

It shifts us out of the direct poverty line and lets me work and save while still retaining the safety net of healthcare for my kids and myself.

If you have had a disability since you were 26 (or if you are under 26!), don’t sit on this.

Just set up an ABLEnow and put away a little each month: future you will thank you.

Thanks, ABLEnow, for sponsoring this post and for making it so easy for all of us in the disability community to save using ABLE accounts.

There are  a lot of disability related organizations out there that do strong work. This list is by no means comprehensive, but it’s a good starting point, if you want to find non-profits to financially support.

Here are some more organizations that I think are fantastic, and that are 501 (c) 3’s:

Disability Related Organizations:

1. DREDF – which is always at the top of my list, as it goes across the disability spectrum, helping to protect all of us with disabilities.

2. Portlight: These are the good people who are behind the disaster relief efforts in the US/Puerto Rico. Your direct donation makes a direct difference.

3. ADAPT: Make no mistake about it: the disabled activists from ADAPT and their partner groups are the ones who saved Medicaid this year. The work they do is powerful, life-changing and absolutely necessary.

4. a. DeafHope: Domestic Violence shelters are not often accessible to d/Deaf women: they are based through the telephone. DeafHope helps d/Deaf survivors of domestic abuse get help.

b. Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates: I just found out about this organization! Holy cow, where have I been?! Super awesome. Check it out.

5. Yo! Disabled and Proud: Love, love, love them and their work, empowering youth with disabilities. They have a rad store too (I just had to edit my Gift Guide so that I could include it).

6. Disability Rights Advocates: These guys are wonderful. They are the ones who sued Target over access – and won.

7. HEARD – Helping to Educate and Advance the Rights of the Deaf – Their mission to help facilitate communication between the d/Deaf/hard of hearing community and the justice system. They are also committed to d/Deaf prisoners, correcting wrongful convictions and ending deaf prisoner abuse.

8. ASAN – Autistic Self-Advocacy Network – an American organization by and for Autistic adults advocating for systems change and ensuring that the voices of Autistics are heard.

9. Language Acquisition and Equality Project for Deaf Kids (LEAD-K): as a deaf woman, I absolutely must mention this. There is a crisis in the deaf community over deaf-education and our kids learning ASL (or rather, not learning ASL, not having exposure to language they can understand). Nyle DiMarco is also trying to raise awareness over this and funds to help LEAD-K with it’s work.

10. Senior and Disability Action: organize and empower seniors and people with disabilities on housing, health care, transit justice, and more.

11. Bookshare: an accessible online library for people with print disabilities. Like my friend who recommended this said, “I can’t get far without information.”

12. Learning Ally: a national organization “dedicated to bringing parents, teachers and the community together to empower students who are dyslexic, blind or visually impaired to succeed.”

13. Sins Invalid: Social change through the arts: “A performance project that incubates and celebrates artists with disabilities, centralizing artists of color and queer and gender-variant artists as communities who have been historically marginalized.”

14. National Federation of the Blind: Resources, advocacy, publications, events and more.

and disability related organizations you should bookmark:

15. WID: World Institute on Disability

16. Through the Looking Glass: for parents with disabilities as well as children with disabilities

17. Disability Rights California (formerly Protection and Advocacy, Inc): CA specific but still with excellent cross-disability and cross-state information

18. Mobility International: for travel/disability/exchange/education information

19. JAN: Job Accommodation Network – A-Z of disability and accomodation

20. ODEP: Office of Disability Employment Policy: disability and job information (for a government site, this is actually pretty good)

21. disability.gov: Also a good, cross-disability site with a ton of information

22. Center for Parent Information and Resources: serving families of children with disabilities in every American state and territory

23. National Council on Independent Living:  disability-led organization that “advances independent living and the rights of people with disabilities” by working with policy, advocacy and supporting member Centers for Independent Living.

24. Association of University Centers on Disability: “A network of interdisciplinary centers advancing policy and practice for and with individuals with developmental and other disabilities, their families, and communities.”

But there are more disability related organizations 

Most people want to donate to an actual non-profit, with legal non profit status, but some of the most cutting edge projects are not certified 501 (c) 3’s .

25. Disabled Parents Rights is another one. “Disabled Parents Rights is a small organization dedicated to combating discrimination that impacts parenting for parents with disabilities. We provide direct representation, advocacy, and technical assistance to disabled parents, as well as their advocates and attorneys.” As a deaf mother (with TBI and PTSD), this hits home.

26. The Disability Visibility Project Alice Wong is doing fantastic work with the #CripTheVote project and in gathering people across the disability spectrum under her fold. That project isn’t “certified” but it’s very worthy, and something worth contributing to. Here’s where you can donate.

27. Southerners on New Ground (SONG) – they seem to be an organizing-for-change group, and are led by disabled people of color. They have a toolkit for change and work on advancing the rights of some very vulnerable people in the south right now. They are going to need help in the coming future.

28. Two Thirds of the Planet : cross-disability community-building, advocacy, website development tutorials, career development for people with disabilities, information and resources. Here’s where you can contribute.

There are also some very deserving disability-specific and parent-led organizations out there. Here’s a short list of a few that I have connections to:

29. Lettercase: I’ve loved them forever (remember this post?!) You know why? Because I was once literally sitting at a table with a doctor telling me that ) should abort my unborn child because she was going to be coming with Down syndrome. When I asked him for more information about lives lived with Down syndrome – a brochure? meet someone? See what Down syndrome is like? The doctor said, “we don’t do that.”

Lettercase is trying to change that all-too-common scenario by putting accurate and up-to-date information in the hands of medical practitioners. It’s fabulous and very worthy of your money. Donate here.

30. Down syndrome Diagnosis Network: A grassroots parent-led group that connects and supports. Good people, good work.

31. Down syndrome Adoption Network: Fantastic work connecting families who want to adopt a child with Down syndrome with a child with Down syndrome. Shoe-string budget, run mostly on the sweat of a couple of women.

32. Ruby’s Rainbow: “dedicated to the higher educational needs of adults with Down syndrome.” They provide scholarships to adults with Down syndrome who are seeking post-secondary education, enrichment or vocational classes. This is fantastic since so few programs do that.

33. Parents Education Network: “Parents Education Network (PEN) is a coalition of parents collaborating with educators, students and the community to empower and bring academic and life success to students with learning and attention differences.”

And More Organizations!

34. Julia’s Way: “dedicated to inspiring parents, medical professionals, and the general public to reimagine what’s possible for those living with Down syndrome through education, advocacy, and awareness” – They are currently promoting breastfeeding and Down syndrome.

35. NMD United: “a non-profit organization composed of adults living with neuromuscular disabilities. This peer-led organization fosters meaningful interactions and provide informational resources to increase self-direction while promoting independence”

Lastly

My friend Andrew wrote a great post on “How to Choose a Disability Charity” – he’s got some great suggestions on things to think about as you move forward and select the disability related organization (s) that you would like to support.

This site is also in need of financial backing – if you want to help with keeping it alive and myself able to create these types of informative posts, as well as posts on website development, career counseling, and disability community, please visit my Patreon account – thank you!

If you know of more great disability related organizations or movements  to bookmark, know about and/or support, PLEASE leave the link in the comments of this post so that everyone can benefit.

Thank you.

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disability related organizations doing fantastic work

I signed up with Bluehost about 5 years ago.

I fell in love with them, hard, because at the time, very few companies were doing live chat, but Bluehost was, and they were doing it really well.

Remember, I’m deaf. Live chat is huge for me, HUGE!

Not only were they rockstars of swift and accessible awesomeness with this, but they were like real people who helped me understand everything better. They referred me to great links on wp.org and understand how to use FTF – the live chat operators were more like tutors than anything, and I loved them.

But then Bluehost exploded and the live chat service really tanked. It took a long time to get any resolving of anything, and it was god-awful-bad, rendering my mouth full of foam.

I heard about Siteground and was determined to make the switch. Plus, Siteground will transfer your site for free! How sweet a deal is that?

I got on Siteground’s live chat and it was fantastic. The operator was swift and smooth. But then they really dropped the ball with me – they didn’t contact me to tell me that my site was too large for them to host on the cheap deal. I had to find them and ask them what was up. Then they said it was going to actually cost me more than Bluehost was charging me.

I told them that (because sometimes you can bargain companies down), but they weren’t blinking. They were going to charge me something like $160/month vs. Bluehost’s $100 (like I said, my site is HUGE – I have around 10 domains under my one, then oceans of photos occupying vast amounts of data).

I got back on to Bluehost and asked the operators for help in slimming down my photos and my site, and they worked with me for three hours to cull my whole entire site. It felt like the old days, and I fell in love with them again.

But I really need to save money, so I still went back to Siteground and said, hey, my site is smaller now! Want to give me a discount? Alas. No.

So I stayed with Bluehost because they are $60/month cheaper, have never crashed when my posts go viral with enormous, sudden traffic, and they have obviously worked hard on getting their service back to where it was before.

That’s my story with the two.

I’ve heard a lot of love for both Siteground and Bluehost out there. Both sites have similar set ups for basic accounts with perhaps different perks. Visit them both and see what what you like.

But these are by no means the only hosts out there! Other people totally swear by hosts I’ve never heard of. WHATEVER floats your boat, you know! Just do what makes sense to you. I’m not here to convince you one way or the other, I’m just telling you what I experienced and what I know.

Disclosure: There are some affiliate links below, but these are all products I highly recommend. Please read my disclosure page for more info.

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There is no time like the present (is that a pun?!) to utilize this ultimate gift guide for disability – that is, the ultimate gift guide for supporting  businesses with a positive connection to disability.

This list is called the “Ultimate Gift Guide” and while it’s all of that, it’s far from complete. There are a lot of fantastic businesses that should be mentioned but I didn’t have the links or I didn’t know about them. So please, do me a favor and leave the links to artists and businesses that I’ve missed in the comment section of this post.

I’ve organized this into three categories to make your shopping a little easier, according to who you most want to support – Disabled Entrepreneurs, Allies of the Disabled, or Businesses that Work with the Disabled and/or Give Back to the Disability Community.

Gift Guide for Disability: Supporting Businesses with a Connection to Disability

photo for the gift guide for disability: image description: child holding orange flower in front of her smiiling face. Text to the right reads "Disabled Entrepreneurs"

1. Businesses that are run by disabled artists/entrepreneurs.

This means that the product is made by the individual with the disability and the store is run largely through their own efforts.

Allie ArtAllie Art

Holy Mother of WOW! Allie’s art is gorgeous! Vibrant, color-rich and reasonably-priced. She has jewelry, too.

Oliver HellowellOliver Hellowell Photography

Gorgeous photos. Lots of nature-shots.

girls_web1-300x214

Alana Designs

Alana Theriault is a friend of mine. She sells lovely prints and cards that she made. Her drawing is amazing.

luciaflyingcow-l350My Imagiville, by DJ Svoboda

DJ Svobada is autistic. He creates this alternate-world, “Imagiville” with different kinds of people in it. He sells all kinds of super-cool things on his site.

b9ff6f5724f3fb413c5c1cd294a635d5Christian Royal Pottery:

Oh. My. Lord. Wait till my mom sees his stuff!! Ma, you are going to LOVE THIS!!!! Gorgeous, gorgeous pottery. Those leaves?! The designs? Brilliant! I think his slogan should be, “Stoneware with Impeccable Charm.”

Christina Mills modeling Nth Degree T-ShirtThe Nth Degree

Thoughtful, thought-provoking clothes, bumper stickers, pins and posters representing the disability spectrum (like this t-shirt that model Christina Mills wears, saying “Feel the Power of the Disability Vote!”

product_imageSoul-Made Goods

Wood-burned art and paper goods with inspirational (and many religious-themed) messages. My favorite was probably the “kissing hand pocket charm” – sweet little hands shaped into the ASL sign for “I love you.”

snow-in-norway-4Tazia Fawley

She makes cut-outs and paintings that are simply vibrant and bursting with energy. She is also the famous artist who gave Prince George one of her paintings, which was displayed in his nursery.

his-birdsnest-hat-suzy-norrisSuzy Norris

WOW. Get ready to be blown away by some powerful art. Suzy’s stuff comes with a money-back satisfaction guarantee, and most of her art is available in any form: phone case, t-shirt, print, poster, etc.

 andrewweatherly_winterworlds_largeArtlifting

Dreamy, often abstract art from the brilliant Andrew Weatherly. He has a wide collection of everything from rainbow swirls to sunrises.

Meriah Nichols -3 Meriah Nichols

*blush* Yeah, that’s me. I’m selling some of my photos now – you can get them printed onto canvas, metal, or regular paper directly through my shop.

hand_dyed_silk_scarves1Megalogy

Megan Bomgaars is one of my favorites from the hit series, “Born This Way,” because she reminds me a lot of my daughter, Moxie. She is also a total rockstar of creative awesomeness, selling everything from her hand-dyed silk scarves to yoga pants.

preview-coping-calendar-2017-coverHaley Brown

I remember when Haley wanted to get set up as an artist, so I can’t even begin to tell you how THRILLED I was to see her site!!! It is amazing. She has beautiful drawings, cards, and this “Coping Calendar” which I just ordered for myself, because that’s exactly what I need in a calendar: reminders & beauty.

tropical-heatSweet Heat Jams

Pineapple and Jalepano jam?! Don’t mind if I do. This stuff sounds divine. If that’s not your cuppa tea, there’s a lot more for ya on the site shop.

 healing boxHealing Boxes

Remember when I interviewed Grace Quantock over on Two Thirds of the Planet? Of course you do! She’s the driving force behind the rad “Healing Boxes”, which offer “delightful, practical and ethically filled gift boxes for people dealing with illness or tough times.” They have all kinds of boxes – from “Hospital Boxes” to boxes for those recently engaged in Traumatic Brain Injury.

T-Shirts:

  • Tee-Public, by Mike Mort – super awesome t-shirts that go across the disability spectrum, something for everyone
  • Group Hug Apparel – very popular t-shirt company run by Andrew, who has Down syndrome
photo for the gift guide for disability: image description: a small child is at the waterfront and is turning toward the camera with her arms spread wide. the text reads, "allies of the disabled (friends/family)"

2. Small businesses that are run by allies of the disabled – namely, friends and family of the disabled

T-Shirts:

 

photo for the gift guide for disability: image description: 3 children smile at the camera, text reads "businesses that work with the disabled and/or give back to the disability community"

3. Businesses that work with the disabled and/or give back to the disability community

Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty

I’ve been buying this stuff for my kids for a while now, so imagine my delight when I found out that Aaron is a large employer of people with disabilities?! Rock on. Moxie’s favorite is the neon pink. Of course.

 arc barks dog treatsArc Barks Dog Treats

I have a service dog and I had no idea about these! Pure awesomeness. Preservative-free dog treats made by people with disabilities?! Count me in.

Yo! Disabled and Proud

This is an organization that helps empower youth and others with disabilities. They have a fantastic online gift shop, chock-full of great stuff like books related to the disability rights movement, disability pride and power. Check it out.

 The Big Guns:

Ever want to know what businesses have a good track record with disability? That is, that recruit, hire and retain employees with disabilities, that support accommodation and more? Check out Return on Disability’s 2016 Annual Report. They have deeply analyzed almost every aspect of employment and disability within major firms, and make it easy for you to decide where you want your money to go. Added to that, they cover both the United States and Canada.

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That’s it for now, folks.
Many thanks to Missy Skavlem for her 2013 post, “Businesses Owned by People with Down syndrome“, and Michelle with her 2012 post, “21 Days of Giveaways.”
Please share this post and support businesses that have a positive connection with disability. Feel free to leave links to businesses that you know of that were not included in this post.
Happy shopping!
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Wordpress is a framework.

The analogy that I was using in Understanding and Setting Up Your Website Host and Domain, you can think of it as the foundation. It’s not your house itself; that’s more like your site, and it’s not the land that your house is built on; that is your hosting platform. It really is more like your foundation than anything.

WordPress itself is a framework or system upon through which you design your site.

The system is free, and comes through WordPress.org.

What happens with WordPress.com is they provide you with free hosting and site security while you use the free WordPress system (which is put out to the world through WordPress.org). The catch in this is that you don’t have complete control over your site, nor can you run the gamut of options that you can with WordPress.org.

If you are into building a site for fun, NOT profit, and if you are not bothered by not being able to have full control over your own site, then this is a great option. It’s free, it’s maintained by someone else, it gives you a nice assortment of plugins which will change aspects of your site.

There is nothing at all wrong with this option, and I strongly encourage people who know they don’t want to make money from their site or do lots of out-of-the-box creative things or linkages, etc, to do this.

But if you do want to make money from your site, or have lots of options through plugins and if you do want to have full control of your content, then self-hosting using WordPress.org is the way to go.

A good post to read more on this is WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org, by WPExplorer

The Complete Tutorial Will Include:

  1. Hosting & Domain
  2. Installing WordPress (which is free) on your domain and how to sign in
  3. Understanding your Dashboard
  4. Essential plugins, including basic set up for site protection and backup
  5. Themes
  6. Integrating social media

 

We can see where we are at that point, but I think it’s also worthwhile for you to understand how to troubleshoot from you cPanel on your host (which is why it’s so valuable to self-host as opposed to free-host).

Any questions? Comments? Concerns? Holla!

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