Back so very long ago when I was in high school, I used to participate in the Cherry Creek Schools Diversity Conference. This was an annual event held at my high school, Cherry Creek High School. It started out with something like 15 schools in attendance and has since grown to over 100 schools. It champions everything from racial diversity to sexual orientation and disability. I used to lead or participate in a panel discussion that was called something like Living with Challenges. It was one of the first ways I realized I could speak and humor an audience and, maybe, just maybe, they would walk away learning something new.
As I became more practiced at these types of gigs, I had scripted moments that I filed away for easy retrieval. They would come in handy if the panelists weren’t talking too much or if the audience was not asking questions. Things to fill up the time. Naturally, I didn’t write them down, so I can’t remember what all I used to say. What I do remember though is having a ton of people come up to me after the presentation and say, “wow, you taught me a lot about disability.” So, the reason I bring up this whole story…yes there was a reason, is that I emailed the person who heads up the conference. I asked her if the presentations had been assigned yet. I received a response that, no, the presentations had not been assigned yet, and that the committee meetings were going to start tonight. Then the bombshell hit. The conference is on Feb. 2. I’m in Los Angeles doing some work for Rick Tamlyn’s Produce U program, namely getting photos and videos taken.
So, I had to email back and tell her I couldn’t make it. Bummer! Emailing the director back, however, gave me an idea. I was doing keyword searches for things like Disabilities Speaker Conference and “speaking for people with disabilities.” Really, what I should be looking for, are conferences or workshops on Diversity and Overcoming Adversity. Because in the end, that’s what I am (and Priscilla was) all about. We overcame adversity just by being us. By being irreverent and humorous. To use the cliche phrase, by kicking ass and taking names. This post is merely an observation that sometimes, the best ideas come from the things you least expect. Sometimes, you might not be able to make the conference, but what other events might come your way now that you have a few more keywords in that toolbox? Never stop looking for other ways to get yourself heard.
Dave Bahr is the founder of In-Sightful living. He works as an advocate for persons with disabilities and a usability specialist. Schedule a Call with Dave here.