08 Mar

Chicago Cultural Accessibility Consortium takes access to another level

Christena Gunther and Anna Cosner share a passion for the arts and accessibility for all. Towards that end, they help run the Chicago Cultural Accessibility Consortium (CCAC), a non-profit, all-volunteer outreach organization that’s making a big difference in the lives of art and cultural patrons across the region. Accessibility is becoming more the norm than the exception.

As described by CCAC Founder Gunther, the organization is a group of cultural administrators and people from the disability community interested in improving and innovating physical and programmatic accessibility for people with disabilities in Chicago’s cultural spaces.

Founded in 2012 by Gunther, Evan Hatfield and Lynn Walsh, CCAC provides workshops and training sessions to help staff at museums and theatres in Chicago become more accessible to people with disabilities. It also loans out captioning and audio equipment for use with films and presentations.

Christena Gunther, founder of CCAC

It seems a daunting task for a city the size of Chicago, but CCAC is more than up to it. The organization provides a number of art museums and cultural centers with devices to assist people who may have hearing issues.  It has monthly developmental workshops where it talks to and educates personnel in how best to communicate their message of accessibility to all patrons.

“Our mission is to empower Chicago’s cultural spaces to become more accessible to visitors with disabilities,” says Gunther. “We do this by creating ongoing professional development workshops, an equipment loan program, an Access Calendar, and facilitating an active community.​”

Gunther grew up with a passion for visiting art museums. Her younger brother was born with Down syndrome, and that experience fueled Gunther’s interest in accessibility at a young age. She later was involved in accessibility for visitors with disabilities at the Metropolitan Museum and Lincoln Center, and was a member of New York’s Museum Access Consortium (MAC) steering committee.

In just a very short time, CCAC has been successful in getting numerous cultural organizations to commit to taking at least one step to become more accessible. “We’re completely volunteer run,” says Gunther, adding that the organization just recently achieved its non-profit status as a 501(c)(3)

“We’re finding from most organizations that they are trying to be more accessible,” says Cosner, who grew up in Southern California and serves as a co-chair of CCAC. “We’re giving them tips and they are taking baby steps and seeing results. “

CCAC has been recognized for its outstanding work. In 2016, the Lifeline Theatre awarded CCAC and its co-chairs the Raymond R. Snyder Commitment to the Arts Award. And in 2015, the prestigious Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts awarded CCAC the Leadership Exchange in Arts and Disability (LEAD) Emerging Leader award.

“Right now,” says Gunther, “our focus is on sustaining CCAC as we become an official nonprofit and begin fundraising efforts. In the future, we have big ideas of ramping up our equipment loan program, individualized trainings for organizations, and other areas.

Training workshops are a regular part of CCAC outreach

Cosner is proud of the work CCAC has done to date. She notes that Chicago is not the only place in America where accessibility has become a driving force. “There’s also a much larger community of people who work in museums and theaters across the country (and internationally) that is working to make cultural spaces more accessible,” she says.

“The annual LEAD conference is hosted by the Kennedy Center every August – the last one had between 300-400 people. These are cultural administrators who gather to learn from each other and push this work forward.”

To learn more, go to http://chicagoculturalaccess.org/


22 Feb

Christy Wise has a leg up on the competition…and life

As David Wise competed for and won a second consecutive Gold Medal in the men’s ski halfpipe at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, his thoughts were not fixated on just the Games. Since winning gold at the Sochi Games in 2014, Wise had experienced his share of stress and misfortune, including that of sister Christy losing a leg in a boating accident in 2015.

A twin to sister Jessica, Christy Wise is one incredible athlete herself. She not only lost a leg, but nearly her life, when a boat cut into her leg as she swam with a friend one night in a South Florida cove near Destin.

She almost died, but Christy survived and, true to her spirit and personality, immediately went from tragedy to affirmation and commitment to helping others less fortunate.

Christy, David and Jessica launched One Leg Up On Life, a non-profit organization designed to help furnish third-world kids with prosthetic limbs. Christy’s story is remarkable, and her dedication no less inspiring.

Christy is in South Korea this week to cheer on her brother, who is donating 10 per cent of his winnings to One Leg Up. David’s victory Thursday was a family affair.

Christy and Jessica are two Wise twins!

Check out http://www.oneleguponlife.org/and what led to it all – https://oneleguponlife.wordpress.com/2015/04/17/what-happened/

For more on David and Christy’s athletic prowess, see story in L.A. Times.

David Wise celebrates gold with his wife and kids (Laurent Salino/Getty Images)


26 Jan

Hello Adaptive Warriors – we’re excited you’re here!

Welcome to ALC – the Adaptive Life Co. blog. This is a site where we champion voices and hope to brighten your day with positive messaging and inspiration.

On ALC, you’ll find breaking news, as well as the latest behind-the-scenes information and product introductions. We’ll also feature interviews with Adaptive Warriors making a strong impact and spotlight individuals who go above and beyond.

We wouldn’t be here without your support. And we aim to share information that’s relevant to our adaptive cause. We invite you to submit your own personal adaptive stories, restaurants featuring good food and adaptive seating, life hacks, health tips, travel advice, adaptive sports, and more.

Stay connected and we’ll grow this adaptive community blog together. Watch this space and submit those stories. We love humor and inspiration – it’s our fuel!

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Let’s get started!

Your ALC Team


26 Jan

Paralympics 2018: One man’s goal about to be realized

Scott Meenagh


To Scott Meenagh, losing both of his legs to an IED (improvised explosive device) while on patrol for the British Army in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province was just one bad day at the office. He wasn’t about to let this horrible incident define him for the rest of his life.

Scott’s story, as reported by the BBC’s Amy MacBeath, is pretty darn heroic and inspiring. He’s truly an Adaptive Warrior with Olympic-size dreams!