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Success Stories

These stories show how Latinos with disabilities have successfully gained employment, advanced in their careers, achieved educational goals, and become community leaders.

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Giving Back Changes Lives – Video Success Story

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I was born in Vietnam and got polio because my family couldn’t afford good health care. Having experienced poverty and discrimination, I applied to the Peace Corps so I could give back to society and advocate for people with disabilities in the developing world. Watch the video...

Getting Around Campus: The Segway Saves the Day

When most people go to college they worry about how they are going to get along with their roommate or whether they are going to make any friends. While I did think about these things occasionally, I had two much more pressing concerns. As a student with mild Cerebral Palsy, I was more concerned about how was I going to carry my cafeteria tray without dropping it, and more importantly, how I was going to get around campus such that I could even make it to the cafeteria in the first place. Read more...

Our Human Nature – Video Success Story

Camera logo used to indicate videosI was born with a condition that caused my vision to get progressively worse. When I was six years old, I began going to a school for the blind so that I could learn Braille and touch typing and mainstream back to the public school system. Even as a little girl, I noticed that most of the adult women at the school who were visually impaired were unmarried and didn't have children. Watch the video...

A Turbulent Journey – Video Success Story

Camera logo used to indicate videosI took my first trip overseas when I was 12 years old because my Mom found a specialized therapy that could help my cerebral palsy. I ended up making four trips to Poland during middle school, but the return trip home during my second visit was the most memorable. Watch the video...

Latoya Nesmith: Artist and Activist

When Latoya and her family moved from New York, she entered her senior year at Jefferson High School in Tampa. Her Individualized Education Plan (IEP)  in New York specified that she should be placed in mainstream honors classes. However, Jefferson put Latoya into special education classes. Read more...

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Ever Reaching Toward My Goal – Video Success Story

Coming from a successful Jamaican-American family, I am proud of my accomplishments thus far. I was born at San Francisco Children’s Hospital with cerebral palsy, a neurological condition which affects my abilities to walk and talk. During my childhood and adolescence, I sometimes felt left out. Watch the video...

Austin Sanchez, Drumming Up Business

When I was working at the LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired in San Francisco, I would see this trendy kid at the front desk, wearing Converse sneakers, a hoodie, and dark jeans. With ease and charm, he answered calls and assisted visitors. Read more...

Olympia Santana: Immigrant and Student Advocate

The Santana family moved from Guadalajara, Mexico to Los Angeles when Olympia was 16. They came because both Olympia and her brother Ernesto, who also had OI, could receive better medical care in the US. It took the family many years to gain legal residence and Olympia many more years to become a citizen. Read more...

DREAM-ing for Equality

The Development, Relief, and Education of Alien Minors Act, better known as the DREAM Act, is a proposed law intended to provide legal residency to undocumented young people who were brought to the United States as children. If passed, the DREAM Act would only give legal residency to young people who arrived in the U.S. before age 16, have lived continuously in the U.S. for at least five years prior to the law’s enactment, and have graduated from high school or received a GED. Read more...

Sarah Funes and the YO! Disability History Week Campaign

At age 18, Sarah Funes of San Mateo, California is already an advocate and consultant in the areas of disability history, resources, and empowerment. She is a member of Youth Organizing! Disabled and Proud—a program organized by the California Foundation for Independent Living Centers that aims to foster a sense of shared cultural pride among youth with disabilities. Read more...

Gaining experience and making contacts are paramount

While in high school, Naomi participated in the “Work Hawaii” program, a program for disadvantaged youth, and thanks to this program Naomi got her first job in a computer lab, where she designed worksheets and business cards. This job gave her work experience and the opportunity to develop skills for earning money and feeling more independent. Read more ...

Puerto Rico’s First Mental-Health Certified Peer Specialists

In October of 2008, the first training for mental-health Certified Peer Specialists (CPS) in Puerto Rico took place at the Center for Integrated Recovery Services in Trujillo Alto (CSIRTA), as an initiative of the Internal Affairs Division of the Puerto Rico Administration of Mental-Health and Anti-Addiction Services (ASSMCA). One month later, the first-ever group of Certified Peer Specialists in Puerto Rico graduated and was presented with certificates. Read more ...

Estela Landeros: Ability Trumps Disability

Estela Landeros says that the biggest problem when disabled individuals look for work is that we tend to think about our “disability” before we think about our “abilities.” Estela is a teacher and is a specialist in assistive technology. Through her work at IBM and the Organization of American States (OAS) over the course of several decades, she has successfully helped many people with all sorts of disabilities integrate themselves in businesses where they got well-paid jobs. Over the years, Estela herself has been challenged by different health problems that have left their mark on her physical abilities, causing her to become a member of our community, the disability world. Read more ...

Camera icon indicating that this is a video success story.Decisions and Opportunities – Video Success Story

I grew up with the idea that in order to be successful and live independently, I had to get a college degree. Unfortunately, when I finished high school, I didn’t get good career counseling. I rejected the idea of law school, because everyone said that it was hard and that I’d have to read a lot. Instead, I chose to major in advertising, because a friend said that it’d be easy and that I wouldn’t have to read much. Watch the video...

Powerful and Proud – Video Success Story

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My name is Juliana Recio Calero and I grew up in beautiful Bogotá, Colombia. When I was an infant, I contracted polio and to everyone’s surprise, survived bronchial pneumonia as well as numerous surgical orthopedic procedures.  30 years later, post-polio syndrome caused me new weaknesses, pain, and fatigue. After walking with leg braces and crutches for years, I had to readjust and accept a new condition that was progressive. After fighting it for a while, I started using a wheelchair, because it gave me independence, made me faster, and helped me conserve energy.

An Interview with Natasha Álvarez of Audacity Magazine

My physical disability is osteogenesis imperfecta (OI), also known as brittle bone disease. There are several levels of severity for this disability: mine seems to be considered a severe case due to the fact that I have probably fractured over 100 bones during the course of my lifetime. Disability has affected every aspect of my life and though I would love to be one of those people who can say truly that their disability has had no detrimental affect, I would not be honest with myself.

Dana's Story – Video Success Story

Video Success Story IconI’m half latina and half asian and began living with my adopted family at 2 months old. My parents had one biological son and the rest of us (3 girls and 1 boy) came from four different families. An odd mix, but it worked well. Don’t know the official name nor the cause of my disability, but I was born with no arms and no legs.

Santina Muha – Ambition to Succeed and Dream

The afternoon of March 9th, 1989, found 5 year old Santina Muha heading to the pediatrician’s office for chicken pox with her mother and grandmother, when suddenly their Ford Escort was hit headlong by an oncoming station wagon. Santina’s grandmother sustained arm and hand injuries which forced her into early retirement, while her mother acquired a knee injury and upon impact bit out her molar. Santina sustained a spinal cord injury at the T10/T11 level.

Living with a Developmental Disability

Laura, who is 45 years old, was born with a developmental disability. Although she’s lived a very sheltered life, Laura never allowed her disability to get in the way of her goal to become independent and make her own choices.

Living with Dyslexia: Dalilah’s Story

Late in her adult life, Dalilah was diagnosed with dyslexia, which causes her difficulty with reading and writing. Unfortunately, Dalilah was never tested for dyslexia or any other learning disabilities during her early years.

Working and Studying: Chicago Woman Utilizes Services to Support Her Vocational and Educational Goals

When she was born, Ana Paola did not breathe for a short time. The lack of oxygen resulted in cerebral palsy. It slightly affects her speech and learning capabilities. Ana Paola says it is sometimes hard for her to retain information and to concentrate when memorizing.

Los Angeles Woman Makes Good on Trial Job Offer, Becomes Integral Part of Employment Team

Glenda is a 37-year-old Latina who is married and has two children. As a child, Glenda experienced a bacterial infection that caused her to lose her hearing in both ears.

Miami Woman Reaches Employment Goal with Support From Best Buddies Job Consultant

When Morelys, a young woman from Miami, approached Best Buddies for assistance finding a job, Best Buddies Jobs consultant Loaidyn Gomez was immediately impressed with her positive attitude. Morelys is shy at first, but once she opens up her personality shines.

Marisela Hernández: Advocating for Latinos with Disabilities in Chicago

In 1991, when I was 12 years old, I took a trip to Mexico with my family. On the way back, passing through the city of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, we had an automobile accident that unfortunately resulted in paraplegia from a spinal cord injury.

Felipe Ramirez, Proud to Be Self-Sufficient

Felipe was born in Mexico City. When he was 15 months old, he got an eye infection. His family did not take him to get medical attention because they were very poor. After a few days, Felipe’s parents noticed that his condition had significantly worsened, so they took him to the hospital.

Helping Others Reach Career Goals a Key to NY Counselor’s Personal Recovery

Dina was born and raised in Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic.  With her mother and her brother, she moved to New York City in the 1960s when she was 15 years old.  Her father joined them a few years later.

Gilberto Alavéz: A World-Class Athlete

There are many powerful and tenacious athletes who have made history in the Paralympic Games. One of these people is Gilberto Alavéz. Born in Oaxaca, Mexico, Gilberto is the son of Cecilia López and Gilberto Alavéz. He has six brothers and sisters, Juan Carlos, Aarón, Saulo, Ruth, Freddy and Griselda. Gilberto is married to Flor Martínez, with whom he has two sons, Giovanni, 17 and Joshua, 5.

Success Story: Making Crepes in Miami

Maria L. is a young lady living with her parents in west Miami-Dade County. Maria is of Argentine and Italian descent. Since she was a young girl, she has always enjoyed cooking for her family. "Cooking is in my blood," says Maria.

Success Story: Latino Male in Los Angeles Now Working for Park Services

A 40-year-old Latino male diagnosed with Renal Failure enrolled in the Latino Employment Connection in December 2005. He has a wife and one child and he supported his family by cooking and selling Mexican food. Basically he was self-employed.

Striking Out on My Own

I am José Ocampo. I am 23 years old. I was born with Cerebral Palsy and because of that my parents have always been very protective of me. I got accustomed to receiving help from them all the time and even to letting them make decisions for me.

Does Having a Disability Have to Hinder Life? Robert Miranda’s Answer

I was born in Philadelphia. I come from a family of six children. My family was poor. My father did construction work, and my mother was a housewife. I am the youngest of my siblings and the only boy. When I was 9 months old, I got polio. This led to a mobility disability.

Felipe Lara: rejoining the community after diving accident

Felipe was 27 in August 2005 when we went to Lake Michigan with some friends for a barbeque. He never imagined that he would have an accident that day and become disabled.

My Fight to Work: virtual obstacles added to the bureaucratic maze

Sometimes when we run into obstacles, it's hard to tell if the problem is our disability, our ethnicity or just everyday bureaucratic roadblocks. Sometimes it may be a combination of all of these factors. In my fight to get back to work, the hard part has been figuring out where the real problem is.

Agustin Pimentel: Philadelphia's first blind D.J.

I was born in Puerto Rico on February 18, 1943. My family was considerably dysfunctional. My parents were separated when I was born. My father went to the Army, and left me with my grandparents when I was six months old.

Sustaining Mental Health through Building a Life of Your Own

One of the things I’ve discovered that can be crucial in recovery from issues of mental health is to create a solid and robust "life of your own."

Paradigm Shift: From Independent to Dependent and Back: Thomas Earle, Executive Director of Liberty Resources, Inc, the Center for Independent Living in Philadelphia

I was born in Middle Town, Connecticut, but my siblings were born in Mexico City. I was brought up bi-lingual and bi-cultural (Spanish/ English). My mother is Latina and my father is American. However, my father spoke Spanish fluently.

Miami Success Story: Golf-Cart Maintenance at First Class Hotel

Edward G. is a young man with an intellectual disability living in the South Miami-Dade County area; he was referred to Best Buddies Jobs in January 2006. He was assessed to be an At-Risk referral as he was living with an overbearing stepfather who was making life very difficult for Edward and his mother.

Success Story: Marriage as Incentive to Achievement for Young Wheelchair User

A 32 year-old male who utilizes a wheelchair obtained employment as a Computer Technician at a non-profit disability organization in Los Angeles. He had studied computers and information technology at a local community college. However, he had recently married and needed to work in order to better support his family.

Latina Leading Change in El Paso, Texas

Patricia Muñoz, or "Pat" as the community knows her, is a Latina leading change in El Paso's disability community. She is a visionary, a revolutionary and can be found behind many changes occurring in this historic town.

David Gonzalez: a Leader Against Forced Mental Health Treatment

"When someone has cancer, they (medical professionals) don't lock the doors behind them when they show them the tests. But when someone has a mental illness, they lock the doors behind them and show them no tests. When they lock the doors behind me, I want to know why."

Latino Employment Connection for Proyecto Visión in Los Angeles

At 9 years of age this Latino Employment Connection (LEC) consumer was paralyzed on one side of his body when he hit his head on the corner of a table while playing. He ended up in a coma for couple of days. Ever since his accident he had experienced depression and talks about watching the other children running and playing outside of his window and not being able to join them.

New York's María Singer: Excelling to Compete with Sighted Job Seekers

Quickly losing one's sight can be devastating. Ten years ago, my eyesight went from normal to non-existent in six months. My depression was evident after becoming blind: I was referred to María for counseling. She was no stranger to loss: I knew María had been blind for a long time.

Mastering the Office Setting at a Young Age: a Florida Success Story

Pelayo is a young man in his mid-twenties with an intellectual disability, residing in southwest Miami-Dade County, Florida. Pelayo lives at the home of his parents, who have been very supportive of his working in an office setting. His parents own and operate an accounting firm in Miami and have exposed Pelayo to the general duties and responsibilities of working in a professional office setting.

Beating Alcoholism: A Colossal Battle

The first time I met Rubén I was very impressed by his seemingly endless happiness. The next time I met him I noticed his personality was completely different. He was distant and taciturn. I came to discover that this man, who has refined manners, is handsome, cultured, and economically stable, is waging a colossal personal battle.

Miguel Angel’s Story: Steady Job is Source of Pride for Former Felon with a Disability

Miguel Angel, 35-years-old, was referred to the Latino Employment Connection (LEC) program in April 2005. He struggles with substance abuse, experiences depression and has a criminal record.

Marily Gonzalez of the Heightened Independence and Progress Hudson County Center for Independent Living, New Jersey

Marily Gonzalez is an active disability advocate who resides in New Jersey. She is a New Yorker whose parents hail from Puerto Rico. Marily works for the Heightened Independence and Progress Center of Hudson County, New Jersey...

Benefits & Difficulties of Migrating for a Child with a Disability: One Family’s Experience in the U.S.

Jennifer is Anita’s three-year-old daughter. She is a bright, sweet, energetic girl who has Spina Bifida. Jennifer enjoys playing outside of our apartment building with her older sisters. Jennifer uses a walker – her legs supported in tight braces – when she plays ball.

A Journey through Perseverance: from San Salvador to Philadelphia

I am a 36-year-old Latina with a sensory disability who survived a war, and overcame multiple barriers to get to where I am today. I was born and raised in San Salvador, El Salvador. Most of my childhood revolved around the war in El Salvador.

The Trials and Tribulations of a Working Artist

Jennie Ayala is an inspiration and role model for all of us who’ve met her and learned about all of her accomplishments. She is a retired filmmaker who worked for Warner Brothers for 30 years doing camera work and still photography.

Film as a Tool of Mass Construction

Jeff Anthony Reddick uses filmatic imagery as a “tool of mass construction,” to transform and denounce what he feels is a chaotic and unjust reality. He also considers his dreams, illusions and profound desire to overcome any and all barriers imaginable part of his arsenal.

Mexican Advocate Works to Challenge Beliefs and Change Attitudes About Disability Around the World

Adriana Irene Macías Hernández is the personification of triumph over adversity and limitation. She does not have arms, but she has the strength of character and imagination to reaffirm the beauty of life. And she's doing it here and now.

Synchronizing the Client, Employer & Rehabilitation Services

Looking out the living room window of her small apartment, Margarita reflects on how much her life has changed from the dreams she had when she lived in war-torn El Salvador. It was Margarita's strong work ethic and unwavering faith that helped her stay alive, partially recover and then obtain employment after she became disabled by a stroke.

Happy Birthday to My Prosthetic Leg

Should one sing Happy Birthday to an inanimate object? Well, yes, if the inanimate object happens to be a prosthetic leg, and is one you like very much. You see, I recently celebrated the tool that has enabled me to continue being a member of this fantastic world and helped me immensely in continuing my status as a working member of society.

Living My Dreams, Living My Disability…

My family immigrated to the United States from Cuba. We left Cuba in the hopes of living a good and safe life in the United States. My childhood was full of interesting and sometimes disturbing events.

Sports for Self-Empowerment: My Ascent to Success

Latinos with disabilities face many challenges as they make transitions in life: from one country to another, one language to another, or from school to work. One of the challenges I've faced when making transitions in my life is people's attitudes.

California Artist Draws on both Latino Culture and Disability as Muses

In 1969, Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center was home to Robert Thome for more than a year following a high school football accident. Robert says he received top-notch care at the facility.

Jose Zavala: Role Model and Mentor for Latinos in Michigan

Jose's advocacy for people with disabilities predates his tenure on the Commission. It started 29 years ago when he became a person with a disability. Like many Latinos, Jose is proud of his heritage and culture.

Maria Veronica Reina, President of Center for International Rehabilitation

My name is Maria Veronica Reina. I am 40 years old. In Argentina, my home country, I was trained and worked as an educational psychologist. I have only been in this country for four years so I have been busy learning the language, studying for a Masters degree in Education of Distance Learning, which hopefully I will finish in December, and presently I am working as the President of the Center for International Rehabilitation (CIR).

Success Story: from domestic worker to paid companions

Many people do not thank the individuals who help them. Others would like to recognize those who have assisted them but they are not sure how to show their appreciation. Khalia Rochelle is not one of these people. She takes pride in recognizing those who helped her become who she is today, a successful music teacher and performer.

Success Story: from domestic worker to paid companion

Pilar, a 50 year-old monolingual Spanish speaking Latina woman came to the Westside Center for Independent Living (WCIL) and found her ideal job.  She was referred to the Latino Employment Connection (LEC) program in August 2004.

Humor & Art: Blind Photographer Building Career Off Laughs

A recent exhibit at the Berkeley Art Museum (BAM) entitled "Blind at the Museum" compelled visitors to reexamine their ideas of blindness and vision. The exhibit is a collection of work by artists who are visually impaired and/or blind. One Latino artist was featured - a photographer from Cuba - whose work is witty and quintessentially Latino.

Self-Image and Transition: Two Young Men Share Their Experiences

For many Latino disabled youth, talking about and coming to terms with their disabilities often brings mixed emotions. Some experience feelings of happiness, sorrow, anger towards family, and at times self-hate. In this article I offer a story of two Latino youths whose lives were changed by coming to terms with their disabilities.

English Language Learners as Linguistically Impaired? Delia Thinks So

Delia Ortega is a 43-year-old woman originally from Ecuador. She was born with a mobility impairment. But it is Delia's difficulty with the English language, not the limited movement in her arms, that she feels is an impediment. According to Delia, "the fact that I can't speak English is what prevents me from working, not my arms."

The Summit of My Life: My Independence

When I was six years old I had already planned my future. I wanted to be studious and disciplined like my uncle Sergio and have the strength and faith of my grandma so that I could be successful in life. I also wanted to get a degree to help my family.

Interview with David Arocho, Executive Director, Queens Independent Living Center

David Arocho is visually impaired. His family came to Brooklyn from Puerto Rico in the 1950s.

Rosa's Story: Re-Aligning Her Life, Career after a Major Life Change

Rosa, a woman in her late 20s, was referred to Viva Employment Los Angeles (VELA) - a program that provides employment services to Latinos/as with mental disabilities - by a counselor at the Department of Rehabilitation in Los Angeles, CA.

Job Developer Uses Customer's "Hidden Talent" as Marketable Job Skill

A 54-year-old Latino male living with the HIV virus - due to a long history of drug abuse - began the Latino Employment Connection (LEC) program in December 2003.

Living Independently with the Support of Friends, Family, Employer

Maria came to the United States from Guanajuato, Mexico at age 12 to be reunited with her parents who had been living in California since Maria was born.

Young Mexican American Advocates for People with Disabilities in Chicago, IL

Juan Romero was born in Tampico, México with Spina Bifida. Today he is 27 years-old and lives independently in Chicago, IL.

Jesus Ramirez "Does Things Differently" to Succeed

I am 49-years-old. When I was 9-months-old I got poliomelitis. My entire life has transpired with a disability, and with the support and love of my family I'm still pushing onward.

Nancy Ferreyra: Community Advocate & Mermaid

My name is Nancy Ferreyra and I am 26-years-old (the doctors told my mom I probably would not live more than three years). I am proud to say I live an independent life and I have been working for one year.

Learning English & Job Skills Helped David Transition into a New Career

David Estrada is 36-years-old. He was born in the state of Michoacán, Mexico. He is the 5th child in a family of 9 siblings.

When Disability Affects Your Career: Exploring Employment Options, Planning Ahead

I have been in the United States for 10 years. When I first came to the United States my English wasn't so good. It was difficult for me to find work despite my advanced training in dentistry. After a while I found work as a dental assistant. I had been working in this position for three years when I was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy.

Self-Employment: One Solution to Unemployment Among Disabled Latinos?

Silvana Rainey immigrated from Brazil after she graduated college. She has had low vision since the age of eight due to macular degeneration. After working for many years with Lighthouse for the Blind Silvana became the training manager with a company that provided assistive equipment and services to people with disabilities.

Sí Se Pudo!! A Latina with a Disability Rises to the Top

Eleanor Gil-Kashiwabara is an example of someone who pushed through many barriers to get where she is today. Eleanor has a hidden disability. She is partially deaf, with total hearing loss in her right ear.

Advice From a Guatemalteca: Don't Give Up, That's the Main Thing

Delvy left her family and her hometown of Acatenango, Guatemala at age 18. She moved to the capital, Guatemala City, earned a degree as a bilingual secretary and started working in a busy office.

Success Stories From Abilities, Inc., New York

Juanita is hearing impaired. When helping her look for a job, developers worked to emphasize her proficiency in Spanish Sign Language and English. She is a talented, intelligent young woman. When the job developer was looking for a position for Juanita, she identified a company called LPD Group that does marketing research.

The Always Half-Full Glass of Fernando Botelho

Fernando Botelho's life philosophy is that the glass is always half-full, not half-empty.

How Milagro Got Her Groove Back

Milagro Moreyra, who came to the U.S. from Bolivia, contacted Proyecto Visión for help finding a job. Milagro has a master's degree in psychology and taught kids who were Deaf and developmentally delayed in Bolivia. She also started her own business as a daycare provider that she ran for 16 years in the United States.

Jose Mendez: Working to End Oppression of People with Disabilities

My name is Jose Mendez and I am 28-years-old. I have cerebral palsy and recently graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Currently I work at an employment office as a workforce information navigator. I am an employment specialist who assists people with disabilities. As a specialist my job is to work with our staff to improve the quality of services for people with disabilities.

Taina Rodriguez: Road to Independence

When Taina Rodriguez was six months old the doctors discovered that she had Marsan Syndrome. Taina's grandparents raised her. She felt they were overprotective. When Taina hit adolescence her grandparents didn't let her have a social life. She went straight from home to school and back again.

Iris Martinez - Making the World Understand Her

I was born in a Spanish-speaking family in Puerto Rico. My parents and older siblings do not have disabilities but my two younger brothers and I were born Deaf. We know American Sign Language (ASL).

From the Fields to the Office

Flora P. Garcia was born in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico as the fourth of seven children. Both her parents were born in Guanajuato, Mexico and immigrated to the United States when Flora was only two years old. Her parents were farm workers. Starting at age seven, Flora worked in the fields with her family.

Chicago Service Provider Works with People Who Acquire Disabilities

I am Ramon Canellada, disability resource coordinator at Schwab Rehabilitation Hospital. I help connect disabled people with resources and information in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. My position allows me an unique opportunity to meet people who recently acquired a disability.

Nilda Salgado: Life as a Homemaker

What job consists of long hours, no pay and no time off? This job also has many different jobs rolled into one - cook, nurse, teacher, referee and housekeeper. To many it is the most important job a woman can have. This job is being a full-time stay at home mother.

Joaquin Campos -- Making Changes in Fruitvale

From his hospital bed, Joaquin Campos prayed to God he would survive the life threatening injuries he sustained in a car accident. More than anything he wanted to stay alive for his wife and young sons.

Joe Olvera: Luckiest Man in the World

It's ironic. Even though my right leg was recently amputated below the knee, I feel I'm a very lucky man. Mostly I feel lucky because after surgery my employer stuck with me by not forcing me to stop working and enroll to receive disability benefits, even though he very well could have.

Maria Romero: No Barrier She Can't Overcome

Maria Romero, the daughter of immigrants who came to the United States from Michoacan, Mexico, arrived in California 12 years ago when she was 28 years old. In Michoacan Maria was a surgeon. She practiced for several years in México before coming to California.

Dreading the A-Word, Amputation

That old diabetes, and its partner in crime – gangrene – are conspiring to kill me. This time they almost succeeded. The column you're about to read is a tough one to write. It's a tough one to read, too, especially if the reader gets queasy reading about amputations and other health problems suffered by diabetics.

Every Step is a Milestone

Roberto Barrera is 22-year old immigrant from Mexico and the only child of a farm worker single mother. Roberto was living in Mexico at age six when he fell down two floors from the roof of his home and hit his head.

Juanita Hernandez

Juanita, born in Texas, spent her first four years in Mexico. When she returned to Texas her biggest barrier was that her family did not accept her disability. While she was growing up it was difficult because her parents did not speak English and, as a result, they did not access social services for Juanita.

An Adolescent Advocate’s Experience with English as a Second Language in Public School

Olga Arias and I are both middle school students in the English as a Second Language (ESL) program in the Washington, D.C. public school system. Olga is in eighth grade and I am in ninth.

Richard Gallo: Giving Back to the Deaf Community

Richard, the oldest of three children, was born in the Los Angeles County Hospital in California. He was three months premature and weighed less than a pound. His mother's doctor recommended Richard be left to die because his low chance of survival. Richard's parents, having very strong religious beliefs, refused to follow the doctor's recommendation.

Interview with Anita Zimmerman, Employment Expert on Long Island, NY

Anita Zimmerman is the Manager of Employment Services at the National Center for Disability Services/Abilities, Inc. in Long Island.

Being a Latina with a Hidden Disability

Throughout her childhood Adly Pozas was a victim of physical abuse. It was difficult for her to make it to adolescence because of all the mixed emotions she felt inside. Adly was confused and felt she didn't know who she was.

Interview with Berna Cortez

Berna Cortez is a native of Ecuador born with Muscular Dystrophy (MD). At the age of 32 she is living independently, working at the Independent Care System (ICS) in New York City as the Membership Coordinator for Transportation and Wheelchair Assistance and is a student at the Bronx Community College. Her greatest aspiration is to get her degree to become a Social Worker.

Silvia N. Lopez

I was born deaf in Marbella, Spain, but I grew up in New Jersey. My background is mostly Peruvian and Spanish. My mom's side is Peruvian/Spanish and my dad's side is purely Spanish. At home, I speak Spanish and English, but at school, I learn with the Total Communication method. This includes American Sign Language and oral communication. I do not have any siblings, and am happy being an only child.

Interview with Eduardo Santana: A Photographer of the Spirit

A creative manner of perceiving reality is beneficial for individuals who posses it, because it makes their life more pleasant. In addition, it serves as an example to those around the person and helps to positively affect his environment. Eduardo Santana definitely has a creative way of perceiving reality.

Victor Pineda: Using Life to His Advantage

I met Victor Pineda at the University of California at Berkeley's International House Café for our interview. Very appropriate. A Venezuela native with mixed heritage (he's a quarter Serbo-Croatian, among others), Victor grew up in Southern California. He is quite international himself, but it is Victor's filmmaking and activism that are making waves around the globe.

Selecting a Major, Choosing a Career

I was born in a car when my mother was only eight months pregnant. I grew up in New York City. A good portion of my childhood was spent in Washington Heights, a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood in Manhattan. I attended St. Joseph's School for the Deaf until I reached junior high. At that point I transferred to Lexington High School for the Deaf where I graduated.

Luz Sarmina-Gutierrez: Profile of a Career Woman in Social Work

Luz moved to the United States from Mexico when she was only six years old. She didn't know a word of English and no one at her school knew any Spanish. She began the first grade mid-year (after Christmas) with a major barrier between her and her education: language.

Deaf and Latino in New York

I was born in South America (Argentina), where lived until I was two. While a toddler, my parents Nora and Ricardo moved to New York in search of a suitable education for me. At that time there were only oral schools in Argentina. Because I grew up in the United States, my first language is American Sign Language (ASL) and my second language is English. At home my family speaks English and Spanish.

Blind Chicago Student Applies Persistence & Technology to Create a Career

I am Araceli Garcia-Oczko. Currently I work as a rehabilitation case coordinator in Illinois. Getting to where I am today has not been easy. I would like to describe the difficulties I have encountered in my personal life, starting with the challenges I faced in high school.

Retinitis Pigmentosa Can't Hold Him Back

"It's two o'clock p.m.," says the audio digital clock that sits on Peter Benavidez's desk at Blindness Support Services, Inc. (BSS) in Riverside, California. It's just one of several adaptive equipment devices Benavidez, BSS's chief executive officer, relies on to accomplish the simple office tasks most people take for granted, such as reading a contract, signing a document, dialing a phone number or telling time.

University Blues

It's difficult enough to figure out the rules, regulations, policies and classes at a university. As a foreign student who has the additional barriers of not knowing the language, laws, or entitlements governing students, it is even more challenging. A young woman from Brazil who has a visual impairment found that to be the case as she embarked on her journey to the United States to become a journalist.

Real Life "Alicia" in Wonderland

The most valuable objects Alicia Martínez's suitcases were her hopes and dreams to make an honest livelihood. A young Mexican woman, Alicia arrived to California in 1990 to work the fields. Planting and sowing, the fruits of each crop rendered her few luxuries.

Right Place at the Right Time

Alfonso lives in Houston, Texas. In March 1985 he hurt his lower back while at work. Since he was only 33 when it happened, Alfonso believed he would fully recover a couple months after his surgery. But he was wrong. Two years later, he injured his back again while on the job.

Proyecto Visión Works with State Services to Support Reggie Martinez's Employment Goals

Reggie Martinez was born in Los Angeles in 1946. He completed his secondary education at Belmont High School before the computer era evolved. At the tender age of 20, Reggie enlisted in the United States Army to serve in the Vietnam War. Upon his return from Vietnam Reggie worked as a chef and a commercial truck driver.

Lynnette Tatum Learns From Life Experience, Uses it to Her Advantage

Lynnette Tatum is a senior instructor at the Computer Center for Visually Impaired People at Baruch College. She is partially sighted, lives independently, and enjoys computers, music, reading and talking, among other things. I chose to interview her because I was fortunate enough to befriend her while we worked at Rehabilitation International together.

On-Air with Ken Garza

Ken Garza began a career in radio right out of high school. After working at a few small-market stations, he got a break and landed a job at a rock 'n roll station in Houston.

Amelia Diaz: Mover & Shaker

Amelia Diaz loves to sing and compose music. She also loves to read and to write. Short stories, poetry, a novel whatever. Her interests are so varied, in fact, that she almost can't make time to pursue them all.

Vignettes: Five Successful Texans

The Valley Independent Living Association Center and other community organizations in Texas have been working hard at assisting Latinos with disabilities to remove barriers and find employment. Here are five snapshots of Latino Texans with disabilities who have been successful.

Patricia Quiñonez: Success, San Francisco Style

Growing up in Durango, Mexico with a visual impairment, Patricia Quiñonez, or 'Pati,' had to challenge the stereotypes of what society thought people with disabilities could and couldn't do.

René David Luna: Steel Mill Worker Turned Activist

René David Luna is the grandson of immigrants who came to the United States from Guanajuato, México to work in the steel mills. He was born and raised in East Chicago, Indiana, a steel industry Mecca.

Zully Alvarado: Transcontinental Journey of an Entrepreneur

The second of five girls, Zully Alvarado was born in the 'campo' (countryside) outside of Guayaquil, a seaport town in Ecuador. Zully was an active child, running and playing in the campo with her sisters until she acquired polio at age two.

Interview with Maria Rios, New Yorker with a Song in Her Heart

Maria presently has two jobs, one working from home as a medical transcriber three days a week, and the other working at Baruch College's Computer Center for Visually Impaired People, as a Tutor to visually impaired students two days a week.

Pioneer Credits Family, School for Success

Today, Dr. Robert Davila meets every possible definition of the word "success." He has been the only deaf person to serve in the post of assistant secretary for special Education and Rehabilitative Services upon the appointment of former President George Bush the senior in 1989.

Interview with Sonia Rivera-García: Persistence and Resilience are the Keys

Sonia Rivera-García was only 19 years old when she was involved in a car accident that resulted in paraplegia.

Broadcast Major is Working to Work in Front of the Camera

The oldest of three sisters, Isela Luévano was born and raised in Downey, California.

Gonzalo Manzo is a Cool Counselor

Gonzalo Manzo is a Texas native of Mexican descent. He was the second of six siblings born into the Manzo family. Gonzalo's parents moved to California when he was a boy.

Kevin Ortiz is One of Vista High's Top Students

When Kevin Ortiz graduates from Vista High School today he will turn his right ear to the audience to catch the applause.

Proyecto Visión Succes Story: Inter-state Friendship Flourishes

Blanca has post-polio syndrome.One of the symptoms she suffers as a result of her condition is fatigue.It has been difficult for Blanca to find an employer that will accommodate her needsNevertheless, she is working as an interpreter with Interpretalk, a company that contracts individuals to translate live phone conversations.

Interview with Adelaida Rodriguez: Happily Employed

Adelaida Rodriguez is 47 years old, and she lives in McAllen, Texas. Rodriguez has a physical disability. Her left hand is immobile and she is not able to use it at all. Rodriguez was interested in securing a position where she could feel comfortable and where her disability would not hinder her job performance.

Interview with Joe Sanchez: Achieving Independence through Employment

A gunshot wound in 1996 resulted in a spinal cord injury for 38-year-old Joe Sanchez. Sanchez is a native of Sugarland, Texas, where he continues to live today. Sanchez has two children, a 12-year-old daughter and a 9-year-old son.

Carlos Freytes: a Career that Has Taken Flight

Carlos Freytes is a 38-year-old aircraft mechanic for Southwest Airlines in Orlando, Florida. He has overcome many challenges to get to where he is today, including being able to work as an airplane mechanic equally as hearing people.

Defying Expectations: Interview with Juanita Romero

Juanita Romero was born in Reynosa Tamaulipas, Mexico, with cerebral palsy. She has one sister with whom she is very close. At the age of 24, despite the predictions of experts, Romero graduated from college.

New Employment After Becoming Blind: Interview with Martin Alvarado, San Juan, Texas

Martin Alvarado is a 36-year-old Hispanic male who lives in San Juan, Texas. Alvarado is visually impaired. Alvarado came to the Valley Association for Independent Living (VAIL) in Pharr, Texas, for employment services.

Always Looking for a Challenge: Interview with Jesus Ramirez

Jesus Ramirez was just 23 years old when he sustained a spinal cord injury due to a car accident.

Overcoming Obstacles with Strength: Interview with Francesca Herrera

Francesca Herrera is a 21-year-old student at St. Mary's University in San Antonio, Texas. Herrera is a junior majoring in Sociology with a minor in Counseling.

Yes, Change is Possible: I did it

Alicia Contreras was born in Mexico City in April 1966. "I got polio when I was one-and-a-half years old, and lucky me, there was a little rehabilitation center run by a very smart nun and a bilingual school owned by an American couple very close to my home."

Remaining Loyal to Herself: Interview with Dolores Martinez

An ordinary visit to her grandparent's house 32 years ago forever changed Dolores Martinez's life as she would otherwise have known it. Martinez, who was visiting her grandparents in Mexico for only a short time, stayed long enough to contract polio at four months of age.

Gaining Confidence Through Employment: Interview with Eric Coronado, McAllen, Texas

Eric Coronado has mild mental retardation. He was referred to the Valley Association of Independent Living (VAIL) by the Texas Rehabilitation Commission. Coronado is 21-years-old and is married.

Living for Today, Preparing for Tomorrow

Polett Villalta: "Born in July of 1975, as an only child and first granddaughter, I spent my first five years in Venezuela. My mom, a person whom I can only refer to as my Angel, helped and encouraged me to enjoy my childhood like any kid could only hope for."

Ingrid's Story

Ingrid Jimenez is a 38-year old woman who was born in the Dominican Republic. Ingrid developed Maccum Albrights Disease at the age of 8 months.

Alfonso Hernandez of Houston: fighting back after back injuries

Alfonso Hernandez, a native Houstonian, became disabled in 1987 with a back injury that occurred while he was moving a box at his job. When he was first became disabled, it was very hard on him as he had been a really active person.

Alice Mann of San Antonio: learning to manage diabetes and hyperactivity

Alice Mann, a San Antonio native, has had Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder most of her life and recently she was diagnosed with Diabetes.

Domingo Martinez of Galveston: No problem

Domingo Martinez, 26, was born in Mexico and moved to Galveston, Texas when he was 6 years old. He contracted polio in Mexico when he was 3 months old.

Interview with Christiana Sabala

Christiana Sabala is a 35-year-old woman of Black/Dominican descent. Christiana, better known as Chris, was born non-disabled and was raised in the Bronx.

Eva Isidoro Cabañas: My Life is Mine

Hello! My name is Eva and I am a 14-year-old girl with Cerebral Palsy.

Labelled in El Barrio: Luis' Story

Luis Roman is a 27-year-old Puerto Rican who was born non-disabled in Middletown, NY and raised in Spanish Harlem (El Barrio) in New York. When Luis was in the fifth grade he was placed in special education classes because he was classified as "emotionally disturbed".

Twin Deaf Argentineans Launch On-Line Careers

Pablo Damian Pomeranec, 31 years old, is from Argentina. He and his twin brother, Diego, are deaf since birth. Pablo and Diego came to the U.S. in 1991 to study English and Management at Gallaudet University and they graduated in 1997.

Simon Salinas: California Assemblyman

Son of migrant workers, cotton picker, soccer dad, role model, success story Simón Salinas was born in Slayton, Texas and is one of 12 children of migrant farm workers.

Interview with Christina Curry: Big Apple Success Story

Christina Curry is a Black/Puerto Rican woman with a diverse multicultural background. Christina was born and raised in the South Bronx and Long Island.

Interview with Horacio Esparza: "We do not insist or persist..."

Horacio Esparza is the Independent Living Coordinator at the Progress Center for Independent Living.

Success Story: Fernando V. Galaviz, President and Chief Executive Officer, The Centech Group, Inc.

Fernando Galaviz was born in Mexico City. His father, an attorney and social activist in Mexican labor law, and his mother, a senior official with the Secretary of Education, provided a foundation of love and faith.

Interview with Marisol Rivera: Success Story from Spanish Harlem

Marisol Rivera is a 34-year-old Puerto Rican woman. She was born and raised in Spanish Harlem.

Interview with Jorge Pineda, Board Member, National Technical Assistance Center for Latinos with Disabilities

When I was in my early 20's I studied to be an accountant. Then I went to find work. The first company said I couldn't do the job because I was unable to do inventories.

Focus on Kathy Martinez, World Institute on Disability, Project Director

Kathy Martinez is a blind, disability rights leader of Hispanic and American Indian heritage, fluent in English, Spanish and Braille.

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