Organizing Dialogue, Experience and Knowledge for Complex Problem-Solving

positive mental attitude

September 18th, 2011

Carol gave me a fist bump over the table of her knitted goods.Carol at ADA_Stavros

I was doing Ambassador Rounds as one of the team of sign language interpreters, going vendor-to-vendor, letting people know we were here and available to interpret if they wanted to converse with any Deaf folk attending the celebration of the rights of people with disabilities to reasonable accommodations and accessibility to the goods and services of our society.

Carol and I are about the same age. She told me she’d been knitting since last year’s event so that she would have enough stock today. Like me, it took her twelve years to complete her college degree. Unlike my path of fits and starts however, her effort required a persistent negotiation of train stations, bus schedules, and much more that she chose not to tell me. In the middle of her story, these details popped out:

I was a little girl, run over by a truck. Comatose for three to seven and a half months. One and a half years of hospitalization. And then I ran out of challenges.

They sent me home and I was left to my own devices.

Most of the wheelchair users I’ve had the chance to get to know have been tenacious and optimistic. Carol called it PMA: Positive Mental Attitude.

I also met Martina Dianne Robinson, author of Set on Freedom, six volumes of poetry on various identities. Martina gave me a copy of the acrostic poem she wrote last year in honor of the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

All across nation

Members of disability community

Engage in

Remembering the days before a more



Acted to ensure civil rights for disabled and

Non-disabled alike the

Summer I was 13

We had a dance

Inside/under the main summer camp pavilions

That evening. I remember


Delighted the young girl who was me

In that moment

Surely in this new land of

Access, she could

Become anything she wanted,

Impairment or not. So much

Laughter and joy


That evening. How was that

Idealistic teen to know that

Even civil right laws didn’t

Stop bigots from being bigoted?

After all we’ve learned in the 2 decades, we still

Celebrate and commune


Read more by Martina Robinson:

Amherst, MA
Celebrate the Promise
Stavros Independent Living Center

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Categories: Interpreting, social justice

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