Monday, June 11, 2007

My on line Hero

I would like to introduce you all to Madeline Schwartz. We have worked together for a couple of years now on (Don't forget we are free now-so join in the fun-it can be the BEST list builder you ever imagined!!)

Madeline (Maddy) is the bravest, sweetest spirited human I know!!


BROOKLYN, NEW YORK - While Madeline Schwartz has severely limited physical capability, it has put no limits on her achievement in life. Graduated June 2005, Madeline Schwartz has overcome five medical misdiagnosis, obtained her degree, helped change legislation regarding disabled access to educational texts, and been elected. She married her husband Mark and is currently learning her third language which is, Italian. As Madeline herself says, "I am proof that the mind is the most powerful tool of all."

Madeline was born in Puerto Rico and came to NY in 1994 seeking medical treatment for diagnosed ailment that has left her with limited physical capability. She has had five misdiagnoses since arriving, including Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease) due to the rare symptoms of her ailment. The last diagnose was Lyme disease; although doctors are still unsettled with the diagnosis. She operates a power wheelchair using gross motor function of her shoulder muscles; she has little to no use of the fine motor function of her hands and no use of her legs. However, she has never allowed the situation to change her personality, keeping her positivity and mental strength throughout.

Unable to use her arms, Madeline uses a "head mouse" with an onscreen word prediction to type her papers, as well as utilizing "Dragon" speech-recognition technology. The Home bound program provides computers, video conferencing, softboards (Where as a teacher writes on a board in a physical classroom on campus, she can follow perfectly from home, also saving the material and studying at her own pace) and other types of telecommunication technology to communicate with students directly from the classroom.

While her physical disabilities do challenge Madeline Schwartz, they don't stop her from heading full steam ahead, both achieving personal goals and working tirelessly for change for everyone who lives with disabilities. "I have come to understand how powerful anyone, and in this case students, can be when we are organized for change," Madeline says. "It is especially important for students with disabilities to be organized and have a voice. This, of course, is not always easy as students with different disabilities have different needs. We are most certainly not one homogeneous group."

To that end, Madeline is Chair of the CUNY Coalition for Students with Disabilities and Former President of Queensborough's Homebound Student Organization. The CUNY Coalition was created to be a lobby and a voice for CUNY's disabled student population. "It's not easy to advocate for yourself," Madeline says, adding that disabled students are more likely to feel isolated and overlooked than the general student population. She has also served as the President of Queensborough Student Organization for several years and as a Homebound mentor.

Schwartz was instrumental in a campaign that helped pass E-text legislation, which has made textbooks available in alternative formats for students with disabilities. "The computer is essential for my career and future success because it opens up doors to independency for a person who is physically disabled," she wrote in a letter to Senator Hillary Clinton, working to get the legislation passed. "The problem that I am currently facing is that I am unable to have complete access to my books for college."

The problem had a very simple solution, but that solution involved the changing of legislation, never an easy task. Still, Chapter 219 of the Education Laws of 2003 was conceived, so that it is mandatory for publishers to provide digital versions of educational texts. "I believe that people with physical difficulties should have the same rights as everyone else," Schwartz says, "especially when my purpose is to be somebody useful in society and to be a part of society." She has also recently testified at City Hall regarding CUNY access for disabled students.

Her ultimate goal? She is interested in a career in the travel and tourism industry with a vocational center, and fully intends to walk again and would love to have a family. At the present, medical resources are very limited for a cure. Stem Cell Treatment is the only hope for individuals like Madeline. She has been chosen for an experimental treatment in California, one I hope to help her raise funds for.

Here are a few of Maddy's sites: A sight she built for a prisoner One of her blogs Another of her Blogs A very important blog of hers. One of her current online opportunities to earn money. Another of her online opportunities Same additional information about Maddy

She is a creative, beautiful, talented, courageous woman. Join me in supporting her online efforts if you can, visit her blogs, add comments (although she does pretty well at accomplishing that herself!!)

We will be opening an online specialty directory for Maddy, too. Help us spread the word. Proceeds from the site will help Maddy get that experimental treatment she needs.

Have a GREAT day, God bless you!
Your Guruette On The Net

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