As a follow-up to a previous story about Eric and Margarita Chapman, we wanted to share this note from Margarita:

A few weeks ago, a story aired on ABC Action News (WFTS) in Tampa, Florida about a gentleman named Robert McGruder and his friend, Eric Chapman.  Eric has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).  He dreams of having a covered outdoor patio to enjoy what precious time he has left. Constructing a patio is quite costly, so Robert put some of his most prized possessions up for auction to raise money for Eric’s patio.

ABC Action News Story:

Our Program Director, Lisa Swiger, was deeply touched by this story about Eric and his friend Robert.  Although the money needed to build Eric’s patio was raised as a result of the news story, Lisa wanted to do more. ABC Action News reporter Cameron Polom was kind enough to put ASI in touch with Eric and his lovely wife, Margarita.  Last week, Lisa, along with ASI technician John Sanders, traveled to their Tampa residence to install an environmental control unit (ECU) for Eric.  The ECU – equipped with eyegaze technology so he can control the device with his eyes – will not only assist him with communicating, but Eric will now be able to turn on lights, surf the Internet and even control his television on his own.  ASI plans to also install an automatic door opener for Eric once his deck is built.

Lisa had an opportunity to spend a lot of time with Margarita.  Both Margarita and Eric are upbeat and ever so sweet.  Despite Eric’s disease, they are both still smiling and living life.  The family is on a very fixed income as Eric is unable to work and Margarita is now his full time caregiver.  Margarita indicated she attempted in the past to obtain an ECU for Eric, but kept running into obstacles.

This beautiful couple touched our hearts.  We are honored to help and be part of their lives!

What the ECU Means to Eric and Margarita – Margarita’s Words:

“With much thanks and gratitude to both Lisa and Brice at ASI for making it possible for Eric to have a fully functional device such as the ECU. This act of kindness has allowed for Eric to finally be able to check his own Facebook, send text messages, change the television channel, and soon, be able to open a door!! Amazing right? What does having the ECU bring to our life: a sense of independence, of freedom.

The moment I heard Lisa’s laughter enter my room, I knew I had to go meet the woman who owned such an innocent giggle and contagious laughter. Lisa saw the ABC Action News clip that shared Robert McGruder’s quest to build Eric a patio. She was so touched by the story that she felt she had to not only meet us in person, but to also enhance Eric’s lifestyle. She did both with pure selflessness.

I believe that the most valuable possession we humans have is TIME.

So, when Brice, Lisa, John & Gina gave 4 + hours of their day to hang with Eric & I in our home, I can happily say – We are Blessed.”

Actually, Margarita – it is we who are Blessed.  Thank you for sharing your lives and story!

 

Saving a Life - Part 1 2A few weeks ago, we introduced you to a brave young man who became a quadriplegic as a result of a car accident.  Despite his paralysis, he re-learned how to play guitar and founded Music in Motion Foundation to inspire others through both music and his own testimony.

There is another young quadriplegic who is not letting paralysis get the best of him.  Twenty-nine year old Jimmy Anderson lost his parents and brother in 2010 when a drunk driver hit their vehicle.  Although Anderson survived the accident, he was left paralyzed from the chest down.  Now, four years later, he has announced plans to run for a seat in the Wisconsin Assembly:

read more

Researchers at The Ohio State University Neurological Institute have successfully implanted a microchip into the motor cortex of a 24-year-old quadriplegic by the name of Ian Burkhart. This chip reads brain activity and, using a signal decoder and special sleeve, actually allows the Burkhart to control movement of his arm.

While there is still much research to be conducted, this is such encouraging news for quadriplegics! ASI’s assistive technology – including our autonoME environmental control unit (ECU) – could play an important role in integrating with these implanted microchips in the future.

When our founder, Fred Thompson, first began serving veterans and the quadriplegic community in the 1980s, this type of innovation was something only fantasized about on television and in movies. Now, it looks like what was once considered “tomorrow’s” technology is coming to fruition today.

ASI continues to stay on top of the latest research and innovations. Our autonoME ECU offers the most options and flexibility for independence than any other assistive technology on the market. Combined with microchip implants, the autonoME may one day play an integral role in making paralysis a thing of the past!

Read more about this promising microchip brain implant

We thought we would share this inspiring story of a brave young man who became a quadriplegic. A car accident stole most of his movement, but certainly not his brilliant mind:

Many quadriplegics – even those who are unable to speak – have bodies that are paralyzed, but their minds are perfectly intact.  They think, laugh, hurt, cry and have the ability to feel all of the emotions they experienced prior to their injury or illness.  It is especially important for quadriplegics to keep their mind energized, engaged and stimulated.  Ryan “Gooch” Nelson was literally “rescued” by finding a way – despite his paralysis – to perform music.

“I’ve been bruised and battered, beat up and left for dead/ I was rescued by the music living deep within my soul.” – Ryan “Gooch” Nelson

Nelson has since founded Music in Motion Foundation to inspire others through both music and his own testimony.  He turned a life changing tragedy into a triumph and is now helping others.

This serves as a gentle reminder to us all that quadriplegics are just like us.  They have goals, desires and dreams. They live, love and laugh. They also grieve, mourn and cry.

We at ASI feel blessed to be able to provide so many quadriplegics and their caregivers with the ability to become more independent.  Assistive technology – such as our autonoME environmental control unit (ECU) – has transformed the lives of so many.  We have seen cases where the face of the client we are working with lights up with excitement when we install their new ECU, only to find out later that they were once on the verge of suicide. This is exactly why we do what we do – and have been doing it for nearly three decades.   You see, at the end of the day, it’s about more than turning on a light or opening a door.  It’s about saving a life.

Every once in awhile, someone says something so profound, it becomes a moment worth repeating over and over again.

Singer-songwriter Stevie Wonder presented at the 2016 Grammy awards.  Since he is blind, he did not have the benefit of using a teleprompter when revealing the Song of the Year.  Instead, he read the name of the winner off of a card written in braille.   After opening the envelope, he joked about the audience not being able to read the card because they cannot read braille. He then made this remark before announcing the Song of the Year:

“I just want to say, before saying the winner, that we need to make every single thing accessible to every single person with a disability.”

Celebrities have much influence on popular opinion and their viewpoints have the potential to become movements.  Accessibility Services, Inc. wants to thank Mr. Wonder for standing up and speaking out on behalf of everyone who has a disability. His strength and perseverance to overcome his own disability helped him climb to the top of the music charts and become one of the most influential legends of our lifetime.

The most rewarding part of our job here at ASI is seeing the independence both our clients and caregivers experience when we install their environmental control unit (ECU). Watching a quadriplegic control his television, seeing someone with end stage ALS being able to communicate with their loved ones and witnessing a person with multiple sclerosis turn on their bedroom light for the first time in a long time is why we do what we do. Assistive technology has advanced significantly during the more than two decades we have been in business. ASI is proud to have played such a significant role is striving toward making, “every single thing accessible to every single person with a disability.”

Once again, thank you, Mr. Wonder. Your statement truly says it all!



Watch:

Robert Oxford, a quadriplegic, finds independence through his autonoME environmental control unit (ECU).

ASI “Partied like Rock Stars” at the 2015 Florida Companies to Watch Awards Dinner 14We were honored to be recognized at the 2015 Florida Companies to Watch awards ceremony.  Our own “rock star” Maggie accepted the award.  We want to thank GrowFL and the Edward Lowe Foundation for all they do to recognize and support second stage businesses.

Enjoy the photo gallery and smartphone video of some of the highlights!

ASI Featured on Veterans Radio

Lisa Swiger

Accessibility Services Inc. Program Director to Serve as Marketing Chair for Citrus County Blessings Program

(Homosassa, FL) – Accessibility Services, Inc. (ASI) announced today that Lisa Swiger, Program Manager, was elected to the Board of Directors of Citrus County Harvest, Inc. a 501(c)(3) that operates the Citrus County Blessings (Blessings) program. Blessings provides nutritional breakfasts, lunches and dinners to children on weekends, when families do not have access to government-subsidized meals.

“This is an exciting opportunity to help a worthwhile cause,” says Swiger. “Hunger is a definite problem, and the services Blessings provides bridges the gap of federal assistance. Without Blessings, many children would go with little or no nourishment over the weekends.”

According to a recent article published in the Citrus County Chronicle, 68% of school aged children in Citrus County are enrolled in federally funded free / reduced breakfast and lunch programs. Blessings finds that many of these children’s families/caretakers cannot provide adequate nutrition from lunch on Friday to breakfast on Monday morning. 85% of the children served by Blessings are ages six to 11, while 15% are ages 12 to 17.

“Lisa came with high recommendations to our Board and we are blessed to have her as a part of our team,” explains Grace Hengesbach, Executive Director of Citrus County Blessings.

“Working for ASI, Lisa knows what it means to change a life through hard work. Her passion for helping others in need extends well to our mission and she is already stepping up to the challenge as the chair of our marketing committee. I look forward to working with Lisa as we continue feeding hungry children in our community.”

Blessings currently serves 1250 children per week, although the need is much greater. As a member of the Board of Directors, Swiger will lead the marketing committee to help brand the organization and recruit additional support.

“ASI encourages our employees to get involved in the community,” says Maggie Thompson, President of ASI. “Blessings plays a crucial role in combating hunger and we are very proud that Lisa has been elected to serve on its board.”

About Citrus County Blessings

A program of Citrus County Harvest, Inc., Citrus County Blessings (Blessings) has been providing much needed sustenance to area children since 2009. Blessings helps feed children on weekends, when they don’t have access to government-subsidized meals. Blessings works closely with guidance counselors and administrators from 14 schools to identify children who will benefit most from the program. Blessings volunteers deliver nourishing meals to over 1,250 kids per week. For more information on the program, volunteering or donating, please visit http://citruscountyblessings.com.

Congratulations to the VA Long Beach and Paralyzed Veterans of America on the opening of the new Spinal Cord Injury Long Term Care Unit. This high-tech facility is designed to provide veterans with spinal cord injuries permanent housing with specialized care and support. ASI is proud to be part of this exciting project!

Special thank you to Stephanie Rivera and the Long Beach Post for this great article: