Access Press Unbound, a group of blogs by and for people with disabilities and senior citizens, launches in February with blogs about education and employment, service animals and arts. The blogs will be posted on the website www.testing.accesspress.org The blogs are funded thanks to a grant from the Minneapolis Foundation.
More blog offerings will be added in the months ahead, according to Access Press Executive Editor Tim Benjamin. “We foresee a great opportunity for more interactive forums for all of us to speak out and tell our news in a more open environment with variety of communication skills.”
Blogs will be updated at least once a week. Some blog content will appear in the monthly print edition of Access Press as well as online.
Readers will be highly encouraged to comment on the blog posts, within the civil and newspaper comment guidelines. Readers will also be encouraged to submit ideas, for the blog writers to consider and begin conversations online with other community members. Online conversations will be monitored by Access Press.
The writers selected for the first three blogs bring a wealth of experiences to Access Press. Dave Wright will write A Better Life, a blog about employment and educational opportunities. Wright is a veteran Twin Cities community journalist. He has worked for publications including the Villager newspaper. He is also a longtime Twin Cities sports announcer and a native of Detroit.
Through this blog, Wright will outline the challenges people with disabilities and senior citizens face in seeking employment and educational opportunities. People with disabilities have been grappling with an unemployment rate that is much higher than that for the population as a whole. Senior citizens who have seen their retirement savings and investments dwindle have been forced to return to the work-force. Wright will offer helpful advice and present information that is available on new programs and resources. He can also write first-hand about the challenges older workers face.
Roxanne Furlong will write Accessing the Arts, a blog about the many arts and cultural opportunities available in Minnesota. She has a long resume of journalistic experience including work for Webb Publishing and New Mobility magazine. Furlong is also a crafter with her own blogs, www.roxpaperscissors.blog spot.com and www.yourpaperpantry.blogspot.com
Furlong is a Twin Cities native and has a lifelong love of attending theater and musical performances, as well as visiting art galleries and exhibits throughout the region. She will visit these venues with an eye toward the work of artists with disabilities and senior citizen artists. She will also look carefully at what accommodations are and aren’t provided, to better inform readers about their entertainment and cultural choices. As she noted, “I have learned to expect the unexpected when it comes to ‘accessibility’.”
Clarence Schadegg is a longtime Access Press contributing writer, covering issues ranging from traveling with a service dog to the difficulties facing immigrants with disabilities. He does extensive public speaking and volunteer work in the Twin Cities. Schadegg will write Animals at Your Service, a blog about the many types of service animals that help people with disabilities every day.
Schadegg is legally blind, having lost all vision last year. He has had a service dog since 1995. His first dog was Frisco and his current dog is Telly. He and his service dogs have traveled extensively and he is well-versed in the many issues people with service animals and the animals themselves face on a day-to-day basis.
More blogs will be added in the weeks ahead on the topics of health, children and families, and public policy. Those writers will be introduced soon.
Benjamin encourages blog readers to comment on and ask questions about the blogs. One goal is for readers to share their own stories and get involved with the topics presented using different methods of communication, written, and audio. Posting of videos will be allowed soon.
Although the blogs have startup funding, the intent is for Access Press to find advertisers and foundation sponsors for each blog. Anyone interested in being a blog sponsor can contact Tim Benjamin at 651-644-2133 or firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss rates and levels of sponsorships.