Access Press Readers Share Their Reflections

Access Press is celebrating 15 years of providing the Twin Cities community with important news that affects its disability population. […]

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Access Press is celebrating 15 years of providing the Twin Cities community with important news that affects its disability population. We want to take this opportunity to thank you, our readers, contributors, and advertisers, for being part of our history. We recently invited you to help us take a nostalgic look at what the paper has meant to everyone involved in our journey over the last 15 years. Following are some of your reflections, memories and thoughts on the issues or stories you recalled from your involvement with us. Thank you for taking the time to share these thoughts with us.

Bret Hesla, Advocating Change Together: The articles of Access Press continue to introduce me to the big range of issues that make up the disability rights movement. I read Access Press because it covers events, issues and information not available in the mainstream media. “Reporting the unreported” would be a great byline for Access Press. I find it really uplifting to hear all these different voices calling for justice, calling for fairness, calling for social change, filling in the gaps in my own ignorance about disability culture. Thanks to all who keep Access Press going.Ellen Houghton, Presentation Images: I have been creating the camera-ready artwork, which is sent to Access Press’ print house for mass production, since around the paper’s inception. It has been an extremely rewarding association.


It has been wonderful to watch the paper grow. I remember first receiving the articles on diskette and the advertisers had to send print-ready, paper artwork to the exact dimensions, since I literally pasted them onto the old, large paper layout sheets, which were then sent onto the print house.

The articles first came to me on diskettes or hard copy (sometimes hand written), often delivered by Charlie and his PCA. Eventually, a wonderful software program—Qmodem—became available which allowed our computers to actually “talk” to each other with the aid of our slow computer modems and a dial-up telephone line. We had to enter all sorts of strange computer characters to get it rolling, and it wasn’t exactly fast, but it was quicker than those long drives transporting material between St. Paul and Mound. It is fun to remember how thrilled we were then and to try to image sending the volume of data we use today in that old, slow manner. And now we do it with minimal keystrokes and can make fast, last minute changes.

It has also been rewarding to watch the paper grow in size, appearance, and staff. I can remember how excited we were when we added spot color and when we first went to 16 pages—and now there is full color and there has even been a 24 page issue! Charlie and his mother and father (both an integral part of the initial operation) would be so proud to see what the paper has become.

Tim, Terri, the board and the rest of the staff, you should all be praised and proud that you have enabled Charlie’s dream to continue on in such a wonderful manner. Thank you all and thank you for allowing me to come along on the ride.

Gloria Steinbring: I love reading Access Press. It makes me feel good to see so many people I know in the paper. It makes me feel like I am a part of a big disability community. It helps me remember that we all have something important to say. I was reading Access Press 15 years ago and I’m still reading it today. I’m glad Minnesota has a good disability newspaper.

Kathy Hagen, Minnesota Disability Law Center:
Access Press continues to be the paper I look to for the most up-to-date information on the legislative session and news about happenings and controversies in the disability community at large. Access Press has made itself accessible to blind persons, first through disc, and now through their website. Here’s to ten more years and a 25-year celebration in 2015.Kim Keprios, Arc Hennepin-Carver: I appreciate Access Press’ strong coverage of legislative issues affecting people with disabilities and their families. Information is power and Access Press has been a powerful source of information about disability issues and concerns. Thank you!

Joel McGuiggan, The Joel McGuiggan Foundation: As a disabled person with cerebral palsy, I want to thank the staff for all the help. In 1990, I had a car accident that I had to recover from. On April 3, 2005 my sister, Jacque died of cancer. She had been very sick for about 6 months. I will miss her. The Access Press staff helped me through some very sensitive issues. Thank you very much.


Dan and the BCM family: Congratulations on your 15th anniversaryand continued best wishes to you and all the staff at Access Press. Sincerely.

Alice Oden: In 2000, Charlie Smith and I shared a memorable conversation. We talked about the educational challenges he faced as a disabled student in the 1970s. I didn’t know Charlie very long, but I’ve always admired his work and dedication in bringing news and information to people with disabilities. In 2005, I am privileged to help carry on the tradition by serving as the Access Press Webmaster. Congratulations, Access Press!Anne L. Henry, MN Disability Law Center: Thanks to everyone involved with Access Press for your commitment to keep the disability community informed about disability news and issues! We, in the metro area, are VERY lucky to have such a great newspaper. Your work over the past 15 years has been key to Minnesota’s active and engaged disability community. A special thanks and congratulations to the dedicated staff for ALL you do every month!

Sue Abderholden, National Alliance for the Mentally Ill of Minnesota:
Newspapers have traditionally ignored issues of importance to the disability community. That’s why Access Press has been so important as a provider of information and as a vehicle to share the varied and many voices in the community. Thanks for being there!

Clifton E. “Clif” Ollila, M.S.W., A.C.S.W., L.I.C.S.W. [Yes, that’s one “f” in Clif] Case Manager, Ramsey County Adult Protection Service Unit:
Yes, Folks, it’s not “all about the Benjamins! (big bucks to those unfamiliar with the slang)”; (Sorry, Tim, pun intended). It’s about building a consensus and empowering the “disabled, their friends, their advocates, and us “hangers-on.” Keep up the good work!


Linda Wolford: Access Press has been a wonderful resource to me personally for many years. When I am looking for a particular service or professional that might specialize in the area of disability, I turn to Access Press for ideas on where to start. For example, I set up trust funds after reading Lori Guzman’s column about them. It is Minnesota’s only newspaper focusing on disability issues and concerns. I look forward to the next 15 years!)Kelly Matter, Goodwill/Easter Seals: I have loved reading Access Press since I was introduced to it at work 15 years ago! I have a monthly habit of reading a bit of Access Press each day for a week over breakfast. It is the only publication I receive that I actually read cover to cover. I truly believe in Access Press and their accomplishments. This is why I am honored to serve on the board of such a fine newspaper. I wish Access Press many more years of continued success.Pete Feigal: I’ve been writing for Access Press since April of ’98, and I can’t count the blessings I’ve received because of it. Working and learning with editors, teachers and mentors like Charlie and Tim, passionate staff and brilliant writers like Jeff Nygarrd. I’ve gotten feedback and contact from people all over the world. A woman from the Outback of Australia sharing how her son has had experiences like mine. Another woman from Russia telling me about mental health conditions in the former Soviet Union. My father telling me that he liked a particular story and that he thought I was a good writer.



Just having a deadline to bring some kind of order and discipline to my writings and thoughts has been a gift. The memories, stories and friends I’ve made and shared in my column have shaped a half dozen different workshops that I’m now doing around the country both as my calling and my job.

And even though I’ve seen political and financial setbacks to people with special abilities in this state over the last seven years, I’ve seen an equal amount of energy and commitment rise to meet those obstacles, people brought together and given a voice through Access Press.

Mike Chevrette, Metropolitan Center for Independent Living:
Thank you for keeping us in touch with a vast array of topics over the past 15 years. I know first hand what it takes to put out this fine publication every month. I commend the staff at Access Press for your contributions, not only to the disability community, but to the entire Minnesota community in which we live. Thank you and keep up the GREAT work!!!Carol Cochran: Access Press is a valuable asset for current information on the disability issues. Very helpful advocacy organization.Jon Skaalen, Access to Theatre & Program Coordinator, VSA arts of Minnesota: Each of us belongs to a number of communities. We value each for how they enrich our lives — neighborliness, creativity, common goals and beliefs, diverse goals and beliefs, health and wellbeing, education, fulfillment, etc.



We appreciate the media, like Access Press, which tell us how we are doing, what we need to be doing and how we and the greater world fit, or should fit, together.

The role of Access Press is vital, and I greatly appreciate the vitality, successes, opportunities and challenges that you describe in your pages. Onward!

“I am with you always. I love you. Lead on. Lead on.” — Justin Dart, Jr.

Yoshiko and the family:
Dear Tim and All at Access Press and All the Colleagues in Minnesota:

We love you! Justin loved you and will continue to love you! Thank you for your dedicated leadership for justice and democracy! Thanks to your and your late colleague, Charlie’s vigilant advocacy, Access Press and ADA have both reached their 15th birthdays.

Happy 15, ACCESS PRESS! Happy Birthday, ADA!

Relative to civil rights laws of the past, the ADA has been more successful than anyone had a right to expect. This is not to say that its long-term success is assured.

Democracy is a fragile thing. The forces of retreat are powerful, massively funded and dogmatically determined. They may prevail. We must remain vigilant, passionate and unified ever before in our advocacy for a just society. It may take centuries for ADA to reach all of its goals.

Listen to Justin’s cry to all of us: “Let us embrace each other for reverence for individual human life. Let us go forward together no matter how long it takes to create an America that empowers all.”

Colleagues, you have the power! We have the power! We have the responsibility! Let us act!

Leading on together no matter what. We love you!

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