For the past three years, our friend Michael Cairl has been recovering from a stroke that limited his mobility and transformed how he gets around the city. As part of his recovery, Michael has been exploring the city in new ways and documenting it on his blog, On Foot, On Wheels. On foot, he has been climbing the city’s many stair streets, tackling more than 20 of them on his urban walks with friends and family. There are over 100 mapped public streets in the city that are actual staircases, most of them in the hilly sections of Upper Manhattan and the Bronx, (including the one made famous by the 2019 film Joker), but Michael’s also climbed them in Brooklyn and Queens. On this virtual program, Michael will share some of his favorite spots he has discovered, and his passion for making the city more accessible to all. While you can’t navigate these streets on wheels, Michael’s adaptive tricycle built by Adapt Ability allowed him to continue his love of cycling, and all proceeds from this program will support Adapt Ability Bikes.
In this special Made in NYC Week program, learn how New York City’s makers and manufacturers are advancing inclusion of people with disabilities through adaptive design and employment practices. In this panel discussion, we will speak with the Adaptive Design Association, which creates adaptations of expensive and non-custom commercial products for people with disabilities; learn about Adapt Ability, a new nonprofit that specializes in affordable solutions for adaptive bicycling; and take a behind-the-scenes look at Undercare’s adaptive clothing for people with mobility challenges with CEO and Founder Susanne Leary Shoemaker. In celebration of Disability Employment Awareness Month, we will also be joined by Karen Waltuck, JobPath’s Director of the Consortium of Customized Employment, to learn how a network of 13 agencies are working together to create more integrated and competitive work environments for manufacturers and other sectors through customized employment programs for people with developmental disabilities. This program will be hosted by Turnstile Tours’ President Cindy VandenBosch, who is an accessibility professional in the museum and tourism fields.
As New Yorkers are riding their bicycles more than ever, new Brooklyn-based nonprofit Adapt Ability is on a mission to ensure that people with disabilities can enjoy cycling in the city’s parks and streets. During this virtual program, we will interview Sunset Park entrepreneur Sandra Alfonzo about her journey from being a bicycle shop owner to running a nonprofit that makes and rents adaptive bicycles to children and adults with disabilities. We’ll also go live to Michael Cairl (check out his blog On Foot, On Wheels) in Prospect Park to see the trike he uses from AdaptAbility in action and to hear about his experience transitioning to adaptive cycling.
During the pandemic, our daily routines have largely shifted from the physical world to virtual platforms, from school and work to social gatherings and religious ceremonies. This virtual program will engage disability advocates in a roundtable conversation about the ramifications of this shift and their observations and insights on this moment’s impact on the future of accessibility and universal design. Moderated by Cindy VandenBosch, panelists will include Hearing Loss Association of America-NYC board member Ruth Bernstein, autism advocate, consultant, and author Michael John Carley, Nefertiti Matos Olivares from the Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library of the New York Public Library, and Meredith Wong, Manager of connect2culture at CaringKind, a community resource for Alzheimer’s and dementia care in NYC.