By Michelle Osterberg
Q. Tell us what type of disability that impacts your life.
A. The disability that impacts my life is ataxia. People with ataxia have problems with coordination because parts of the nervous system that control movement and balance are affected. Ataxia may affect the fingers, hands, arms, legs, body, speech, and eye movements. I have had ataxia for about 5 years now and it was life changing.
Q. Tell us about a time when you felt empowered.
A. For the first two years I was down, depressed, didn’t want to do anything at all. One day though, I decided to take charge of my life and I learned how to cope with it.
Q. If you could change one thing that all public spaces had to change to make life easier what would it be and why?
A. I would make businesses have more accessible bathrooms and parking lots. There are times in which I have to wait a long time to use the restroom because a lot of people that do not have a disability go and use those restrooms and makes it hard for us that do because there is only one accessible bathroom. My husband had a situation where a guy did not have a placard and parked in the accessible parking while we had been waiting to park there.
Q. Tell us one thing you want people to understand about living with a disability, or being a caregiver for someone with a disability.
A. I want people to understand that just because I have a disability does not mean I am not human. I just have to live life differently and do things differently.
Q. What can society do today to stop discrimination against those with disabilities?
A. I think that society should learn what ataxia is and what it does. I believe that doctors should promote it more and let people know. Ataxia is a rare condition and not many people have heard about it or know much about it.
I want to thank AID.org Foundation for giving me the BalanceWear Vest and giving me a new chance to get part of my life back. It makes me want to cry that you guys were able to help me. Thank you very much.