Kurt Yaeger on Disability in the Media

Kurt In a White Shirt & Jacket

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Kurt Yaeger (born January 3, 1977) is an American actor, director and professional athlete, who is also a below-the-knee amputee.
Kurt Yaeger was born in San Francisco, California, United States (US), and was raised in South San Francisco. He currently resides in the Los Angeles area.

As a BMX rider, Yaeger gained the nickname “Crowbar” and acquired sponsors for his BMX riding, participating in tours and competing in events.

After experiencing many BMX-related injuries, he decided to go back to college to pursue a Masters degree in hydrogeology. In 2006, while attending school in San Francisco, he was in a motorcycle crash that resulted in multiple injuries. He hit a pole and went over a 40-foot embankment, crashing on the side of the freeway.

His left leg was amputated, his right anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament were torn, his pelvis was torn in half along with his bladder, seven vertebra were broken, his lungs collapsed, multiple ribs were broken, and he suffered a severe concussion. One year later, Yaeger made a full recovery, returning to his acting career.

Yaeger is involved with the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), and the Actors’ Equity Association (AEA) Tri-Union global disability rights campaign called IAMPWD – Inclusion in the Arts & Media of People with Disabilities. He sits as the Chairperson on the AFTRA Los Angeles Local Performers with Disabilities Committee.

In 2012, the US Paralympics Bobsled & Skeleton Team invited him to train with them in Park City in early January. They asked him back to train with them in Innsbruck, Austria in early March.

He is currently the number one Adaptive BMXer in the world[16] and participated in X Games 16 and X Games 17. Yaeger was showcased along with other adaptive athletes thanks to Adaptive Action Sports, a non-profit organization promoting Action Sports camps, events and programs for youth and young adults living with permanent physical disabilities.

His recent work includes roles on the CBS hit showNCIS and the much anticipated HBO/Cinemax series Quarry.


Ted Coiné – Chief Marketing Officer of Meddle.it

Ted Coide picture

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Ted Coiné is Chief Marketing Officer of Meddle.it, an enterprise SaaS firm at the cutting edge of content marketing through employee advocacy. In the Social Age, a company is only as strong as its talent. Your talent deserves a voice!

Ted is a Forbes Top 10 Social Media Power Influencer and an Inc. Top 100 Leadership Expert. This stance at the crossroads of social and leadership gave Ted a unique perspective to identify the demise of Industrial Age management and the birth of the Social Age. The result, after five years of trend watching, interviewing and intensive research, is his latest book, A World Gone Social: How Companies Must Adapt to Survive.

An Inc. Top 100 Speaker and one of Business News Daily’s 15 Twitter Accounts Every Entrepreneur Should Follow, Ted is also a serial business founder and three-time CEO. He lives in Naples, Florida, with his wife and two daughters.

More apropos than all that to today’s chat, Ted has mild dyslexia. As an adult, it’s nothing to complain about compared to many: mostly misspelling and number transpositioning, especially when he’s tired, and sometimes trouble pronouncing the words that he reads. But it caused no end of trouble in his school. In first grade his teacher called him “retarded,” and in Junior High School his principle told his parents that he was “probably retarded.” This type of thing leaves an impression on a child, as many of the members of the Axschat community know full well. Perhaps that explains at least part of why Ted is so passionately opposed to discrimination and the labels that people use to hold others down, intentionally or not.


Gavin Neate – CEO of Neatebox

Gavin Standing by a sandstone wall

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Gavin has spent the last 18 years working for Guide Dogs for the Blind. In the past five years he has set up Neatebox Ltd. The purpose of Neatebox was to research and develop a pedestrian crossing system which would not only address the issues faced by the person with disability in accessing the crossing but also in aiding the traffic system designers and installers in finding a solution which would address their own challenges.

During this time Gavin recognised more of the challenges faced by those attempting to access the ever improving technologies whilst at the same time expanding Neatebox’s product range. Following a one year sabbatical gavin decided to take on the work of Neatebox full time and is now talking on inclusive technology and advantages it brings to all who can access it.


Leena Haque – BBC Neurodiversity Lead and Project Researcher


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Follow Leena on Twitter using her Twitter handle: @The_Lil_Hulk

Leena came to work for the BBC as part of their “Extend” work placement scheme in 2012. Before that she worked as a Data Analyst for Barclays Bank, a Technical Analyst for Capita and an Assessor for Liberata. Before employment Leena gained a BA degree from Durham University and an MSc degree from London School of Economics.

After her BBC placement Leena wrote a business case to research Neurodiversity in Employment which highlighted workplace issues for people with hidden neurological conditions. The project has completed initial data gathering and had a lot of positive feedback.

You can also view some short films and find out more about Neurodiversity at the BBC


Nigel Lewis – CEO of AbilityNet

Nigel Seated

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Nigel Lewis is currently CEO of AbilityNet the UK’s leading charity on accessibility. AbilityNet has over 30 years’ experience in providing advice, guidance, assessment and consultancy in accessible ICT to all those in need whether at work, in education or at home. Nigel has successfully led the organisation for over 7 years during a period of great change. Nigel is also Vice President of the International Association for Accessibility Professionals and Chair of the Digital Inclusion Group – Age Action Alliance.

Prior to joining AbilityNet Nigel worked for over 25 years in the IT services sector. Through his career Nigel has gained a comprehensive knowledge of IT and the implementation of major IT systems as well as the management of business.

Nigel is married with two children, one of whom is severely disabled. He is a qualified life coach and provides coaching to a number of businesses and individuals. He is also a volunteer for the Epilepsy Society.

Abilitynet run a helpline the number is 0800 269 545

They also run the Tech4Good Awards: http://www.tech4goodawards.com/ (This will open in a new Tab)


DR Christopher Lee – Head of AMAC Accessibility Solutions and Research Center

Dr. Christopher Lee - Director of AMAC

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Follow Christopher on Twitter using his Twitter handle: @leecm363

Dr. Christopher Lee serves as Director for AMAC Accessibility Solutions and Research Center. In this capacity, he oversees a wide range of educational projects, with emphasis on technology services, products and research. Dr. Lee has been an advocate and pioneer in promoting social entrepreneurship to benefit humankind and further strive for sustainable social change in the field of disabilities.

His work has centered on the innovation of new models and techniques to support accessible electronic information in corporate, governmental and nonprofit entities. Dr. Lee is also a nationally recognized advocate, author, speaker, principal investigator and leader in the fields of learning disabilities and adaptive technology. He has been featured on CNN, National Public Radio and in newspaper articles picked up by the Associated Press. In 2003, The National Rehabilitation Association awarded Dr. Lee the W.F. Faulkes Award for his contributions towards increasing knowledge in the field of rehabilitation. He was highlighted in Microsoft Accessible Technology for Everyone, a Microsoft video and publication, during the same year. In 2004, Dr. Lee was recognized in The Atlanta Business Chronicle as one of 50 of Atlanta’s promising young stars. In 2007, he was featured in the PBS series A Chance to Read, hosted by Molly Ringwald, which highlights new strategies driven by emerging research that shows what’s happening across the country to help children with disabilities find success. In 2009, Dr. Lee was awarded the AccessText Network by the Association of American Publishers (AAP) for being a key contributor in Georgia. In 2013, Dr. Lee received a national service award from the Learning Disability Association of America. Dr. Lee, a college athlete, was recruited to the University of Georgia on a swimming scholarship, where he was co-captain of the UGA swim team in 1989.


Mike Paciello – Founding Partner of the Paciello Group

Mike Portrait

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To talk about the work that his organisation does to help make the world more accessible.

He is founding Partner of the Paciello Group

Mike has been a pioneer and influential figure in the accessibility industry for more than two decades. He wrote the first book on web accessibility and usability (Web Accessibility for People with Disabilities), and has since achieved many notable milestones.

Mike is co-chair of the United States Federal Access Board’s Telecommunications and Electronic and Information Technology Advisory Committee (TEITAC), co-founder of the International Committee for Accessible Document Design (ICADD), and was recognized by President Bill Clinton for his contribution to the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative.

Mike has been featured in numerous publications including the Washington Post, Boston Globe and New York Times. He was also invited by the United Nations to speak at the Global Initiative for Inclusive Information and Communication Technologies (G3ict).


Aindre Reece-Sheerin – ‘Domino Principle’ in relation to Accessibility

Aindre in a Tux

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Follow Aindre on Twitter using his Twitter handle:@aindrereeceshee

Aindre Reece-Sheerin, he is a native Irishman from Donegal/Derry the far North West of Ireland  believes in the good in everyone.

Aindre lived through the fighting in the North of Ireland and even marched at the tender age of 11 seeking one person one vote and an end to discrimination on the basis of religious doctrine.
He studied at University and private Music school as a Mature Student and hold two first class degrees one in Humanities with French and a Performers Degree equivalent,
Aindre is an avid performer, teacher and one who loves to move people through the mediums of the spoken word and singing, he sings in nine languages.

Aindre believes in what he calls the ‘Domino Principal’ in relation to Access and Accessibility.  He uses different language to many others in relation to Disabled People.

Aindre acquired a mobility impairment following a Road Traffic Accident some 20 years ago. He studied and became the first person in the United Kingdom to go through the National Register Certification to be able to consult on Access and Accessibility.

Aindre was assistant Director of one of the largest and most forward thinking companies employing and working with Disabled People, Rights for Disabled People including County Councils and Local Government.

Aindre is back on the stage and over the last few years has been performing, teaching and recording as well as writing.

Aindre is a believer in the simplest aspects on Inclusion and Corporate Social Responsibility and is a doer as well as an ideas person.

Aindre has concerns over how the recession has demonstrated that Disabled People are again the focus of the negative especially when it comes to Cost Cutting exercises.

In 2008 helped in the set up the now named Guernsey Disability Alliance and is an active participant working with both Local Disabled Persons’ Charities and the Government Deputies and their respective departments Informing and Educating Managers and Policy makers as to aspects of Inclusion.

Aindre’s hope is to educate people that Equality is not something that one or other section of the community has Domain over. Aindre is also a “realist” and
One of his Mantras is, ‘If you are trying to be all things to all people, all of the time, switch off the light on your way out as you have already failed.”


Ajit Narayanan – CEO of Avaz Inc, and inventor of Avaz.

Ajit - CEO of Avaz

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Ajit Narayanan is the CEO of Avaz Inc, and inventor of Avaz, an affordable, AAC App for children with Autism and complex communication needs.

In 2010, Avaz won the National Award for Empowerment of People with Disabilities from the President of India, and in 2011, Narayanan won Innovator of the Year from MIT Technology Review for the creation of Avaz. In 2013, Ajit gave a TED talk (http://www.avazapp.com/freespeech (This will open in a new Tab) ), at the TED Conference in Long Beach California, about his research. Ajit is a prolific inventor with more than 20 patent applications. He is an electrical engineer, with degrees from IIT Madras; his research interests are in embedded systems, signal processing, and understanding how the brain perceives language and communication.


Frances West – CAO (Chief Accessibility Officer) at IBM

Frances West - IBM CAO

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An audio only version is also available on Soundcloud.

Follow Frances on Twitter using her Twitter handle:@fwest34

Frances is Chief Accessibility Officer at IBM. In this role, she works to establish IT accessibility standards, shape government policies, and develop human-centric technology and industry solutions that not only create an inclusive workplace environment but are designed to personalize the user experience so that all people reach their highest potential in work and life.
In addition to advising clients on best practices in accessibility, Frances ensures IBM is placing accessibility at the center of design and development to improve everyone’s information consumption patterns, including people with disabilities, the aging population, novice technology users, people with language, learning and literacy challenges, or any individual facing situational challenges while using a device.

Frances is a globally-recognized expert in enabling human ability through accessible information and communications technology (ICT). She regularly speaks at policy forums, recently testified on behalf of the IT industry to the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, and currently sits on the Board of Directors of the World Institute on Disability, is the board advisor to the National Business & Disability Council, and is a Founding Member and Program Co-Chair of G3ict, an advocacy initiative launched by the United Nations Global Alliance for ICT and development in 2006.