New Creative Outlet for People with Disabilities
Timotheus Gordon and his new friend, Shanae Heard, want people with disabilities to be heard, seen, and read. Last November, they began www.Abilitysota.com, a website for people with disabilities to showcase writing, poetry, music videos, photography, drawings, and paintings.
"We are (technically called) the Abilities of the Arts, or Abilitysota," said 25-year-old Gordon in a telephone interview. Gordon and Heard met in June 2011 while both were trying to submit work for an online magazine. They enjoyed talking about poetry and work, and realized creative people with disabilities had few platforms to showcase their talents.
Gordon lives in Atlanta, Georgia, and has nearly completed a master of fine arts degree at Savannah College of Art and Design and already has a bachelor's degree from the University of Minnesota..
So what are their disabilities? Gordon said, "I have been diagnosed with high-functioning autism. I make good grades in school and have strong interests in social science, literature, poetry, and football. When I was growing up in Chicago, people would treat me like I was an encyclopedia. They would go to me for questions and would use me for my intelligence. But I didn't make friends easily and I often got teased for being smart."
He said he has always wanted to fit in socially but either didn't know how or didn't know the right way for a particular situation. He has had difficulty finding people with common interests who will accept him.
His friend Heard was born with cerebral palsy, uses a wheelchair, and is "very bright," said Gordon. "She loves psychology, and can see problems from more angles than the average person."
"We have been getting good responses," he said, referring to the website. "People like the concept. Our struggle has been in getting more content. We feature photos, paintings, drawings, videos, poetry, and different kinds of writing, such as short stories and blog postings of writing." Abilitysota.com also has actively promoted krip-hop, which is a style of hip-hop music performed by people with disabilities.
The last several months have brought him joy. He said, "With the website, I like seeing people from not only the US, but also England, speaking out. They are using their abilities and talents to open people's eyes that people with disabilities are just as talented as anyone else and can be just as influential as an able-bodied person."
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Daniel J. Vance is a licensed professional counselor and national certified counselor from Vernon Center, Minn. His weekly newspaper column Disabilities has been published in more than 260 newspapers.
Daniel J. Vance may be reached at www.danieljvance.com
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