10 NFL Players Who Overcame Barriers to Their Disabilities
Wednesday, February 1, 2023, 11:41 AM
From Shaquem Griffin to Tom Dempsey, the league is full of inspiring stories. With the big Super Bow…
From Shaquem Griffin to Tom Dempsey, the league is full of inspiring stories.
With the big Super Bowl game coming up, the spotlight is on the NFL. While we have a lot of football fans here at Easterseals NJ, we’re the biggest fans of players making a difference in the disability community. Many of these players created foundations and nonprofits to help others. Below are just a handful of current and former players that showcase that anything is possible.
The former Colts and Cowboys linebacker has been vocal about his struggle with anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder. O’Neill started the 4th and Forever Foundation to help others struggling with mental health.
Marshall, a former NFL linebacker, announced he had borderline personality disorder in 2011. He’s made it his mission to spread awareness and destigmatize BPD. He even started his own nonprofit– Project 375– with the goal of “unlocking human potential through conversation, education, & inspiration.”
Griffin is a former NFL linebacker (and twin brother of Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Shaquill Griffin) born with Amniotic Band Syndrome. ABS affected Griffin’s right hand, causing it to become underdeveloped. Griffin eventually underwent surgical amputation to have the hand removed. Griffin has worked with the Challenged Athletes Foundation, a sports program for those with physical disabilities.
The late Tom Dempsey was a kicker for the New Orleans Saints. Dempsey’s kicking foot was deformed; he wore a special boot while playing. He famously made a record-setting field goal against the Detroit Lions in 1970. The kick resulted in the “Tom Dempsey Rule” which now requires all players to use shoes similar to the NFL standard. Interestingly enough, Dempsey’s custom shoe was lighter than other shoes.
Often called the father of concussion awareness, Boyd is a former NFL offensive guard for the Minnesota Vikings. He founded the advocacy group, Dignity After Football, and famously testified in front of congress regarding the NFL’s disability plan.
Bleier was a former halfback for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He sustained severe injuries to his right foot and leg during the Vietnam War. He wrote a book about his experience, Fighting Back: The Rocky Bleier Story, discussing his injuries and his time in the NFL.
Bruschi, a former linebacker for the NFL and current senior advisor to the head coach at the University of Arizona, suffered a stroke in 2005. After sitting out a season to recover, he was able to continue playing for several more seasons. Shortly after his stroke, he started a non-profit organization, Tedy’s Team, to raise awareness for stroke and heart disease victims while supporting survivors.
Rolle, a former cornerback for the Oilers and Ravens, has been very open about living with epilepsy. While he eventually retired, citing his illness as well as injuries sustained on the field, he’s currently the assistant football coach at a high school in Florida.
Barksdale is a former offensive tackle in the NFL, but his impressive resume also includes singer-songwriter and stand-up comedian. Last year, Barksdale publicly shared his autism diagnosis. He mentioned in an interview with the Today Show that the diagnosis made him feel comfortable with who he is.
LeGrand signed a symbolic contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2012, but he’s never played in the NFL. This college footballer fractured two of his vertebrae in a game against Army, leaving him paralyzed from the neck down. Since then, LeGrand has created a platform to speak out about those living with spinal cord injuries. He partnered with the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation to create the nonprofit Team LeGrand. He’s also an author, sports analyst, and motivational speaker.
Of course, these are just a handful of the many NFL players with disabilities who are making a difference in the world. Who are some of your favorite players and nonprofits?
Part One: Making Nature in New Jersey More Accessible
Wednesday, January 4, 2023, 9:11 AM
In this first blog of a multi-part series, we explore the importance of making sure both public and …
In this first blog of a multi-part series, we explore the importance of making sure both public and private natural resources are available to all who want to enjoy being outdoors in New Jersey.
While there are activities where accommodations may be impossible for some, New Jersey offers a vast array of natural experiences for all.
New Jersey is known as the Garden State but make no mistake, in addition to gardens and farms galore, NJ boasts more than 452,000 acres of natural and historic property including forests, parks, and recreation areas. Visitors are invited to take part in a variety of activities including biking, hiking, camping, boating, swimming, and picnicking.
However, for the many New Jersey residents and visitors with disabilities, the New Jersey State Park Service’s invitation to “take advantage of all our recreational, natural, and historical resources” might seem daunting. They might be “opening a doorway to adventure,” as the park’s website says, but adults and children with disabilities require certain accommodations to take it all in.
As always, Easterseals NJ has you covered. We are committed to making New Jersey accessible, and we do it in a variety of ways. This blog series will be a great resource for New Jerseyans living with disabilities who know that there is nothing they can’t do!
The importance of physical fitness isn’t a secret. The ability to be outdoors, breathe fresh air, and enjoy the mental and emotional benefits of our beautiful surroundings knows no bounds, nor disabilities. Access to New Jersey’s natural resources is critically vital to one’s happiness and overall well-being.
That being said, for those living with disabilities, access to New Jersey’s parks and recreational areas can be discouraging. Thankfully, New Jersey (with the help of many private organizations) is committed to making nature as accessible as possible—regardless of one’s age or abilities.
More than the mental and physical benefits of enjoying our natural world, access to outdoor recreation is educationally significant. The more we are all able to explore and enjoy nature, the more we will be able to understand the world around us.
Nature is truly the world’s science lab and every single person should have access to it.
According to a great website, Nature For All (which happens to focus mostly on accessibility for individuals with low vision), “understanding nature and its importance to people and communities around the globe increases awareness of the need to conserve natural areas of our planet and work together to reduce the effects of climate change.”
In our next blog in this series, we will focus on Braille Trails and Sensory Gardens—two important resources for people living with blindness and low vision to learn more about how they can experience New Jersey’s wonderful parks, trails, and gardens safely.
As always, the first step to making New Jersey more inclusive is advocacy. Easterseals NJ is committed to increasing the public’s understanding of the needs of people living with disabilities.
As they say, “the more you know.” Want to be part of the solution? Join the Easterseals NJ Advocacy effort and lend your voice to our mission. Sign up here: I want to be an advocate!
AmazonSmile: Make Purchases & Support Easterseals NJ
Monday, December 12, 2022, 12:00 PM
It’s that time of year again…time to shop ‘til you drop, find the perfect holiday presents, and cros…
It’s that time of year again…time to shop ‘til you drop, find the perfect holiday presents, and cross out every person on your list.
Regardless of which holiday you are celebrating, unless you started shopping months ago, you still have a long way to go to find gifts everyone will love.
We have a great way to cut down on the hassles associated with dealing with crowds at stores, and you are probably doing it already—shop online! In fact, if you are already a fan of Amazon (or are willing to take a peek) the AmazonSmile program will allow you to get great deals and support Easterseals NJ at the same time!
In other words: every time you make a purchase, a donation will be made by Amazon to Easterseals NJ! Easterseals NJ is dedicated to expanding opportunities for people living with disabilities in the Garden State. Every donation helps us support our participants in their education, careers, and access to the services they need.
What is Amazon Smile?
AmazonSmile is a way for shoppers to get the items they need at Amazon’s great prices while automatically supporting their favorite charity—Easterseals NJ! You simply visit smile.amazon.com, browse as you normally would and when you make a purchase—bam!—you are supporting a great cause.
How Does AmazonSmile Work?
It’s quite easy! Visit smile.amazon.com on your mobile device or computer and select our charity – Easterseals New Jersey – from the list of options.
That’s it! There’s nothing else to do except make your purchases as you always do. After you connect your Amazon account with Easterseals NJ as an AmazonSmile beneficiary, the charity will receive 0.5% of every purchase you make!
Important Things to Know About AmazonSmile
You need to make your purchases through smile.amazon.com to ensure Easterseals NJ receives the donation. Create a bookmark to AmazonSmile on your device so it’s easy to find every time you want to make a purchase.
You can use your existing account with AmazonSmile! No need to create separate accounts. And, if you set up a baby or bridal registry, or create a wish list, you can link that account to AmazonSmile as well.
Not all products sold on Amazon are eligible for AmazonSmile charitable donations. Make sure to look for eligible products which are marked “Eligible for AmazonSmile donation” on the product detail pages.
If you sign up for subscribe and save plans, these will not generate donations for Easterseals NJ through AmazonSmile.
Be sure to follow all directions. Don’t forget to return your ballot! It must be put in a drop box, returned to your County Board of Elections or postmarked by Nov 8, 2022, for your vote to be counted.
You can also go to an in person early voting location from Oct. 26 – Nov. 6. You can find a location in your County and hours here.
Americans with Disabilities Have a Voice!
There are many realms in our society where Americans with disabilities are consistently fighting to be included and appropriately accommodated. But, when it comes to having a voice where it really counts—at the voting booths—almost 38 million adults (50 and older) with disabilities are “politically active and engaged leading into the upcoming midterm election,” according to a recent national survey conducted by Easterseals, AARP, and Pathfinder Opinion Research.
It should come as no surprise this population of voters care about issues like inflation, Social Security, and Medicare, the August 2022 survey results revealed.
“Further, this group, who relies heavily on early vote methods and other various accommodations to participate in elections, displays broad and bipartisan support for policies that make it easier to vote and are deeply concerned that politicians passing restrictive voting laws are making it more difficult for older Americans and adults with disabilities to participate electorally,” according to the report summary.
Key Points of Note:
9 in 10 Americans with disabilities are registered to vote.
89% of those registered voters say they will “definitely” or “probably” vote in the 2022 midterm elections.
However, only 47% of voters with disabilities (and even fewer people over age 50 in the same population—39%) say they plan to vote in person at their respective polling locations on Election Day, Nov. 8, 2022.
“By combining these survey results with Census estimates for this population, we can conclude that there are more than 33 million registered voters with disabilities in America, and nearly 30 million of these voters are likely to turn out in the 2022,” the report said.
Always looking to increase public awareness of the millions of people living with disabilities in the United States, Easterseals was happy to partner with Pathfinder and AARP to uncover the population’s views on this year’s elections. Easterseals maintains that it’s critically important for all Americans to understand their voting rights and to use their voice whenever possible at the polls.
Current laws diminish this voting population’s access to vote because accommodations are not mandated. As such, the survey also revealed “There is strong bipartisan support for reform that would make it easier for voters with disabilities and those 50+ to vote.”
Voters over the age of 50 with disabilities are, indeed, a major voting block in this country. The three entities summarized their efforts with this survey like this: “Together, we want to make certain people with disabilities know their voting rights, including when, where, and how to vote. The disability community is a powerful force that will not be silenced this election.”
It comes as quite a surprise to many business owners that the provisions detailed in the Americ…
It comes as quite a surprise to many business owners that the provisions detailed in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) extend to websites. Well, it most certainly does!
People living with disabilities have every right to live, learn, work, and play using the Internet, just like anyone else. They know all too well that many companies aren’t aware of updates made to the original 1990 ADA. Their failure to accommodate people who are blind, deaf, living with mobility issues, etc., has made it difficult for people with disabilities to use the web.
Just as physical accommodations must be included in public and privately owned buildings, like wheelchair ramps, restroom accommodations, braille signage, etc., accommodations must also be added to websites. According to the ADA, websites must be accessible to users of all abilities.
Give it a moment’s thought and you’ll quickly come to the obvious conclusion that making your website accessible to all users is simply good business. Why turn away prospective customers because your site isn’t navigable?
Further, it’s the law. With the enhanced ADA provisions enacted in 2010, all forms of advertising, including websites and social media platforms, are required to be compliant.. failure to comply could result in hefty fines…thousands of dollars!
What Makes a Website ADA Compliant?
Accessibility is the key provision laid out in the ADA guidelines. While we’re most familiar with the physical accommodations mentioned above, there are many modifications that can be made to websites to make them more accessible. Consider the list of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) first published by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) in 1995.
Simply put, focus on making your website easy to use—for all users.
A reputable web developer should be familiar with the guidelines laid out in the ADA, and should be able to enhance your site to bring it up to compliance.
Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish. In other words, paying a web developer to bring your site up to ADA standards today will cost you a lot less than one non-compliance fine tomorrow.
Benefits of Making your Website ADA Compliant
Aside from the obvious benefit, which is avoiding hefty fines for non-compliance, making your website accessible to all users will benefit your business in many ways.
Consider the following:
Include people living with disabilities as part of your customer base because they are prospects! Don’t give users a reason to abandon your site because of lack of accessibility.
Improve brand image so you can gain a positive reputation for being accessible.
Capture older users; No demographic should be excluded from using your site.
Enhance your SEO; An ADA-compliant website has a better search presence.
Increase overall site usability for the benefit of all users, not just those people living with disabilities.
When is a good time to upgrade your website to make it ADA compliant?
Today! Don’t wait another minute. This is a process that will require expertise and care, along with thorough and extensive testing.
Get the ball rolling as soon as possible and you’ll be rewarded with a whole new population of customers!