Abilities Expo lands in San Mateo Oct. 26-28

It’s the event that the entire disability community looks forward to every year and it’s coming to the San Mateo County Event Center for the second year in a row Oct. 26-28. The Abilities Expo is where you will discover new products, new companies and new solutions to your daily living challenges while enjoying an opportunity to test your skills at some fun adaptive sports, including the Adaptive Climbing Wall, Skateboarding and Archery just to name a few.


This year, for the first-time ever, there will be a Spinal Cord Injury Zone, thanks in large part to the United Spinal Association (USA) that is picking up the tab for NorCal SCI, Berkeley SCI Active Network and the San Francisco Bay Area Spinal Network to have their booths next to each other, including USA’s own booth. We invite you to stop by the section and meet+greet with the organizers of these groups.

The event runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Oct. 26-27 and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Oct. 28. Registration is free and you may do so HERE. Just a heads up though that parking is $12.

Losing Touch, Finding Intimacy

   Elizabeth Jameson

Elizabeth Jameson

We met Elizabeth Jameson a couple of years ago at the Abilities Expo in San Jose and were struck by her drive and determination. She has Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and the effect of it basically mimic what a high-level quadriplegic is left with. Nevertheless, Elizabeth is a fine artist and writer and she was recently published in the New York Times with an article focusing on how she defies all odds despite the severity of her disease — and its physical effect — to rediscover intimacy without touch.

You can check out her artistic work on her web site. To read her New York Times article, click HERE.

SEARCH FOR A CURE: Spinal Neurons Grown From Stem Cells For First Time


There are numerous factors that influence the inability to restore movement or autonomous bodily control to those who suffer a spinal cord injury. A prominent example of these is the inability to cultivate new neurons that make up and power the spinal cord. However, some researchers have claimed that they have successfully induced ‘generic’ human stem cells to differentiate into stem cells that apply more specifically to the spine.

The scientists behind this project hope that future work on this model could lead to the application of their cells to next-generation regenerative medicine that focuses on the spine and how to repair it after injury or damage.

Read the full article HERE.

Challenged Athletes Foundation grant program ends Nov. 2

If you consider yourself an athlete, yet find yourself on the short end of funding stick, the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) may very well be an organization you should learn about as they offer grants that include not only the equipment but also coaching/training and travel/competition expenses. This underscores the organization’s mission to provide opportunities and support to people with physical challenges, so they can pursue active lifestyles through physical fitness and competitive athletics. CAF believes that involvement in sports at any level increases self-esteem, encourages independence and enhances quality of life.


CAF offers grant opportunities in four different grant categories. You may apply for a grant in ONLY ONE of the following categories:

  • Travel/Competition Expenses

  • Coaching/Training Expenses

  • Equipment Expenses (once every 3 years if over 18 years old/ once every two years if under 18)

  • Athletic Prosthetics

CAF’s vision is to be a recognized leader in a movement through which physically challenged athletes are accepted and respected at the same level as able-bodied athletes, to have a great and significant impact on each physically challenged athlete served, and to reach out to the physically challenged community by providing inspiration, awareness and mentoring.

Deadline to apply for their grants is Fri., Nov. 2nd, 2018. To apply, CLICK HERE.

Pressure sores: Where to Turn When Wounds Won’t Heal

The sight of a pressure sore on a person with a spinal cord injury, no matter how minor, is enough to send you hyperventilating. The horror stories of being bed-bound for weeks and months can cause a chill up and down your spine even if you’re a complete injury. But it doesn’t have to be a horror movie as techniques have improved in recent years, resulting in better outcomes for most.

New Mobility magazine included an extensive column by Tim Gilmer that we wanted to share as it did a very well-balanced job of educating you as well as sharing the pros and cons of the various approaches available to you. READ IT HERE.

Ability Hacks Oct. 25 event in San Jose to showcase disability community's creative solutions

Santa Clara Valley Medical Center’s SCI Connections will hold its first-ever “Ability Hacks” on Thurs., Oct. 25th, allowing you to learn creative solutions, tricks and ideas used by individuals with disabilities. Various individuals with SCI will be sharing their accessibility “hacks” to empower other individuals with SCI. Come learn about gadgets, do it yourself projects, hardware, medical/mobility equipment and many other creative “hacks”.  You will then have the opportunity to vote on the top “Ability Hack” presented.

If you are interested in being a panelist and share your “Ability Hacks” with the audience, contact Robert Medel at (408) 885-2397 or email: vmcpeersupport@scvmcrehab.org. Two Google Home Minis will be awarded to the top “Ability Hacks” presented.

The event will be held from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Valley Specialty Center, basement conference room, 751 S. Bascom Ave., San Jose. SCI Connections welcomes families and friends and, as always, dinner will be provided.

Online sources for buying & selling equipment for the disability community

When you’re looking to buy or sell a wheelchair, adapted vehicle, lifts, ramps or any piece of equipment that has been adapted or modified for a person with a disability, there are a couple of sources that we wanted to share with you.

Arguably, the best free site is on Facebook and is called the Disability Trading Zone. With nearly 14,000 members, it is a free service and tends to attract mostly from the spinal cord injury community. You can buy, sell or trade all kinds of stuff on there and has a keyword search to find things easier.

If you want to consider the paid advertising route, there is the Disabled Dealer Magazine. This is an online publication charging $19 for a text ad or $29 for an ad with a photo. There are about 15 categories housing the various items with some not containing a lot of goods.

If you come across any other sites, let us know at info@norcalsci.org

ADA conference brings together multiple agencies to help create "equal opportunity"

The Pacific ADA Center held its 2018 ADA Update Conference at the Oakland Convention Center Sept. 24-25 and our good friend, Lynn Murray from the Placerville Mobility Support Group, attended the conference and was kind enough to file this report.

Some 150 people attended the Conference coming from as far away as Hawaii and Washington, DC, including staffers from the Department of Justice (DOJ), Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), U.S. Access Board and Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS). Attendees also included ADA Coordinators, civil engineers, architects, building inspectors and emergency responders.

   In one of the most iconic moments for the disability community, President George Bush signs into law the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 on the South Lawn of the White House.

In one of the most iconic moments for the disability community, President George Bush signs into law the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 on the South Lawn of the White House.

The keynote speakers – Arlene Mayerson of Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund and John Wodatch (retired) of DOJ – jointly delivered an in-depth history of the ADA that set the Conference tone, emphasizing Civil Rights law.  Pacific ADA Program Manager Jan Gerrett concurred, “Knowledge about disability civil rights is essential for people who live with disabilities every day.” The ADA’s theme of equal opportunity – not special treatment – was a major take-away from the two-day event.

Attendees selected seven information-packed “classes” from the 21 offerings. Some course titles included: Reasonable Accommodations and Undue Hardship, A Frontier View of Disasters from the Disability Organization and Emergency Services Perspective, Most Commonly Misunderstood Sections of the ADA Standards, Service Animals, Building Egress.

A common thread throughout the more technical sessions was the need for designers to exceed ADA standards and guidelines so that building inspectors would not have to red tag completed work. For example, if the allowable sidewalk cross slope is 2%, place 1.88% on the contractor’s drawing. Another theme that resurfaced frequently was the need for project designers to anticipate technological advances. One example is the disappearing public telephone and its accompanying ADA Standards. Advancing cell technology changes the real world before the ADA Standards are revised.

For additional information about the Conference or for answers to ADA-related questions, go to the Pacific ADA Center’s official website, https://www.adapacific.org/

VA extends benefit coverage to veterans seeking ReWalk's exoskeleton

Though this was announced a few months ago, somehow our crackerjack news team missed the story, so we’re hereby announcing that ReWalk Robotics, the Massachusetts-based exoskeleton device maker, reached an agreement with the Dept. of Veteran Affairs that would enable qualified veterans with a spinal cord injury to receive the company’s signature exoskeleton suit.


The evaluation process will now have all veterans flow through one of 24 designated spinal cord injury VA centers (SCI/D). In Northern California, the Palo Alto VA is the nearest center. Once a veteran is determined to be qualified for training and procurement of his or her own exoskeleton system, the individual may be allowed to pursue training in one of three ways: at the applicable SCI/D hub center, at a qualified VA hospital designated by the VA’s “hub & spoke” program, or at a qualified private rehabilitation center through the VA’s Veterans Choice Program, a program through which Veterans can receive care from a community provider paid for by the VA.

If a veteran with SCI is unable or unwilling to travel to a VA Exoskeleton Training Center for training, case-by-case consideration will be given to enable the veteran and companion to receive training at a VA facility that does not have an exoskeleton training program or at a non-VA facility.

You may contact the Palo Alto VA at (650) 493-5000, extension 65871.

National Parks seeks SCI community's input for improving access at Nov. 4 event

Our friend and one of the biggest outdoor enthusiasts, Bonnie Lewkowicz, shared with us news of a Nov. 4th public forum on access of Bay Area National Parks hosted by the Golden Gate National Recreation Area with support from BORP & Wheelchair Traveling. The purpose of this forum is to seek important feedback from persons with disabilities, and in particular wheelchair users, on how to continue with the Parks Service’s efforts to make the parks more accessible.


The event is from Noon to 4 p.m. and will feature a 1 p.m. presentation on the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Point Reyes National Seashore and Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail. It will be followed by an information fair from 2-4 p.m. where you can sign up for ranger-led programs and get your “America the Beautiful” Access Passes. Refreshments will also be provided.

For more information and to pre-register, contact: Richard De La O at (415) 561-4958 or by e-mail at GOGA_Accessibility@nps.gov. The Ed Roberts Campus is located at 3075 Adeline St. in Berkeley.