Saturday, July 31, 2010

Week Ten

Week Ten
This week was amazingly stressful, but very rewarding. I began finalizing my presentations for the Public Comment Analysis Toolkit this week. Wednesday was my first presentation hosted for the CIOs of the USDA who attended to get a taste of the new software platform soon to be released to the government and public. We had the creator and a liaison from Regulations dot Gov conference call in to offer their knowledge of how this toolkit could save the government time and resources analyzing the comments and complaints the receive. I was there to offer my testimonial of my experience implanting PCAT into the Dairy agency of the USDA. I also got to promote my video training tutorial I have created to train the government offices how to code PCAT without the need of humans to do the training. It was a major success which leads to a follow up hands on registration and demonstration of PCAT the following day with members interested in becoming users of the toolkit. Dr. Schulman (Developer of PCAT) showed the new features he has been incorporating into PCAT that soon will be available to the users. Next Friday was my opportunity to raise awareness for PCAT at the people’s garden in front of the farmers market. I Prepared chicken nachos to feed all who attended the presentation, and my supervisor purchased Kettle corn to share the attendees, I again explained my involvement in the PCAT collaboration team, gave testimonial of how PCAT has helped the USDA organize our comments to secretary of agriculture Vilsack, and offer my tutorial to the government agencies interested in becoming part of the collaboration team. Everyone LOVED the nachos and asked for the recipe  I was then invited to the Access Board to conduct a similar live demonstration with Dr. Schulman showing how PCAT could allow them to analyze their comments, complaints, and concern letters and gave a demonstration of the auto report generation feature that PCAT has programmed into it for creating Spread sheets, Rich Text Formatted documents, HTML web pages for posting on the web, and XML coding reports to incorporate between databases without the knowledge of writing code for the different files. Did I mention I was moonlighting with the director of a play to create a lighting scheme, special effects and audio timeline for the Black Play Festival at Bus Boys a local performance diner? Yes it was a busy week but very fun, once it was over. I also met with Damon Wandke to brainstorm a disability youth council to promote and educate the future disabled leaders of America with the little spare free time I had this week. I’m tired, but life is GREAT!!!
Justin Patterson

Friday, July 30, 2010

Summer Highlights

Me at White House
• What are the very best experiences you remember most readily
about your summer here?
I remember warm-hearted welcome of co-workers esp Kimberly, Deanna, Terri,
Andrea, Val B, Harold, Mike, and Cozette and several others. I
remember getting told how to get places by Mike and Ron. I remember
being invited to join coffee clubs, birthday clubs, eat chocolate, and given fun
magazines. I remember getting to get off work early with my supervisor’s permission on Mondays and Tuesdays to go to sign language class, and the old 80s songs he signed to, and professions and animals, and doing the signs for food when was getting hungry for dinner. I remember being
able to use every scrap I'd learned and trying to practice on the 2
Davids and Anwar, who did understand some sign but lip read mainly. David C
is very chivalrous and also listened to all my attempts at sign, and Anwar taught me more about communicating with a deaf or hard-of-hearing person.
I also enjoyed going to church Sundays at a little town in Georgetown, the dog that took communion, visiting the little restaurants and big bookstores and the homeless people who didn't bug me for money but sat patient in the muggy alleys. I remember buying and reading Street Sense and other papers and reading them, unusual for me.

At work, I learned about communicating with others but also how to work more effectively with my own disability. I guess this is a little self-absorbed, but I was inspired to work
harder with my own obstacles, because I saw people who had more severe
physical ailments being capable workers and solving their
computer-related tasks. I admired Matt McCullough for being an
activist and choosing that despite his corporate experience and
talents. Other people also like Daman Wandke took time out of their
busy schedules to teach me new skills. I learned a lot about
disability activism from both these people. Daman also helped me with suggestions for accommodations at school and in future work that might help overcome a learning disability. Another accomplishment was at work, with the help of coworkers.
Since the very first day I came to work, and Terry and Deanna warmly
welcomed me and I was able to be honest that I had a learning
disability, I had a personal breakthrough, in that I started thinking
truly and regularly about what kinds of accomodations such as tape recorders or notetakers would help. The last two, going on 3 weeks, I have both worked with Terri, the accessibility consultant, following her to see job duties and also trying out adaptive technology to see how it works. I have also worked in the Help Desk, as Deanna suggested I do. I am not sure I can adjust to the fast-paced tech support arena, but I will at least have a good couple of weeks where I shadowed in dealing with same/different
people, having productive conversations, advising and teaching, installing etc.

Amazing Week

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen, I hope that you have a good week but I am sure that I did because of many things happening this week. Before I start to explain my five days of advantages in Washington DC, I want to say with my deeply heart, thank you for people who helped congress to pass the important law, American with Disabilities Act because I can’t believe how much of freedom that I can get from my workplace, but if ADA law haven’t passed, I might not get what I get for this country. Anyway, let’s start with my interesting days:

Monday (July 26, 2010): I was working till noon then I went to my apartment to relax and getting ready for White House, but I thought that AAPD interns will able to talk with President Obama but we did not meet the President Obama, however, we did see him while he was giving the speech for people with disabilities and other things. Also, I get a chance to meet him and shake his hand when he was shaking people’s hand in the first row, I was sitting in fourth row and got through to first row to able to shake his hand. Also, I met the future NAD (National Association for Deaf) CEO for April, since the current one will retire this upcoming year. Also, I also get the chance to see Joe Biden (Vice-President) but he was talking to someone. Also, I saw Marlee Matlin, she went to my college recently but the students at my college needs to pay 10 dollars to take a picture with her but I did get a picture but don’t have to pay 10 dollars which is AWESOME! After the White House, I decide to go back to apartment with one of my friends to pick up the tickets and I can able to attend to Gala, I saw my mentor, and important people who are also hearing impaired or deaf. Then I watch the speeches by Tony Coelho, and others. Then I got lost in the city but I find my way back to my apartment and I was very exhausted on that night because of many of events and people that I need to meet or want to meet.

Tuesday (July 27, 2010): I was working till 345pm because I able to met another deaf professional (or you may call another deaf employee) who also work for USCG (United States Coast Guard), his name is Jeff Paden, he is working for USCG for 21 years and will be 22 years, it was a great chance to meet him but I was disappointed that he graduated from Gallaudet, because I am not a big fan of Gallaudet because of many reasons but I do respect that college and Gallaudet is not a place for me because of my family background and I do not feel fit to that college but I do feel fit to my college, Rochester Institute of Technology because there are two worlds in that college with different background of people, also there are a lot of deaf people but with another kind of disability. But anyway, after my work, I went out with my roommate & friend to meet Marc Langerman, he work with my agency but different department, we had a good dinner, I went to Chinatown for some Chinese foods. Then we went back to our apartment afterward and another day being so exhausted.

Wednesday (July 28, 2010): It was relaxing day for me because I was working till end of the time but I discover that I had a problem with PowerPoint presentation but I helped my CWO (Chief Warrant Officer) Hope with her problem with PowerPoint presentation, something different from working with Database but I fixed it and she was all happy till my another co-worker has another problem, I assume I need to learn more about how to overcome the problem when I had a hard time troubleshooting with PowerPoint, something different from what I learn in school because there are always different types of problems where my professors can’t solve but again, I really like to learn new things every day.

Thursday (July 29, 2010): It was very quiet and relaxing at my workplace because there is nothing to do except I had a meeting with my AAPD staff (may I call her my boss, Sarah Peterson? Ha-ha), anyway, the meeting was about how do I like my internship, suggestions, feedback, etc. It was a great experience to work with her and other AAPD staffs along with class of AAPD interns this year.

Friday (July 30, 2010): There is nothing to say about this day because Friday is mostly day for people to settled down with overload of work but there is a event that AAPD hosting for but I might can’t make it but I also want to say Thank you for a lot of support through this summer. I want to keep in touch with AAPD staffs, and of course, with AAPD interns.

In closing, there is one more week of internship left and I may start my thank-you letters to everyone that I met and talk with during this summer, only 5 more days of internship then I will be Alumni for this internship.

Here are five quotes before I am going to sign-out for this week blog:
· When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.
o Victor Frankl
· “Sometimes you put walls up not to keep people out, but to see who cares enough to break them down.”
· We are driven by five genetic needs: survival, love and belonging, power, freedom, and fun.
o William Glasser
· For me, disability is a way of getting some extremity, some kind of very difficult situation that throws an interesting light on people.
o Mark Haddon
· “The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in.”
o Morrie Schwartz

That is all Ladies and Gentlemen, have a lovely weekend and be careful :-)

Week Nine - Memorable Adventure

The most important day of this week was Monday, and it is the day that I won't forget. I attended the White House with the other Interns. I watched Obama sign the executive order to increase employment for people with disabilities. I am so thankful for this because the unemployment rate for people with disabilities is quite high.

There will always be lack of accessibility for someone when an event takes place. I wish the White House had accessibility for everyone, they only had interpreters but they did not have closed captioning service. I had to watch the interpreter and I did not understand most of the speech. This is how I live my life, I don't depend on closed captioning but it is a necessary.

After the White House, I attended to the Disability Power & Pride event to celebrate the ADA Anniversary. It was crowded. I did not participate in a lot of conversations. I had a good time. They had closed captions during the speech so that's good news. There were a lot of applause and appreciation from important leaders who played big roles twenty years ago and today about the ADA.

From the speech, I really appreciate Mr. Coelho for reminding me that the United States has never fulfilled their promise in equality. The Declaration of Independence has only helped a few but many were left out. I agree that we should not wait for a hundred years to achieve equal rights for people with disabilities and everyone else.

If there was a scenario where everyone has achieved equal rights, I question myself, how long would it last? I can only dream that civilization continues to show kindness and goodwill for the next thousands years.

One more week until my internship ends, It is time for me to sign off and prepare for the Thank-you letters.

Knock on the sky and Listen to the sound. ~ Zen Proverb

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

NCIL, AAPD, JFA oh my!!!

Where did this week go?!?! This past week was certainly a whirlwind of exciting and inspiring events. On Tuesday night, NCIL and AAPD co-hosted an event called the “Spirit of the ADA…Lead On!” At this event, leaders such as Tony Coelho, Majority Leader Hoyer, Congressman Sensenbrenner, Congressman Patrick Kennedy, and Ted Kennedy Jr. spoke. Later in the evening, a musical group performed whose members all had disabilities. Throughout the night, I had the opportunity to meet both Patrick and Ted Kennedy Jr. along with many other active leaders within our community. The atmosphere in the room was one of excitement and enjoyment. I think that it was a great experience to have all of these people with disabilities come together in one celebratory event to commemorate the ADA’s triumphs, but the fun of the week did not stop there.
On Wednesday afternoon, AAPD hosted their Justice for All Awards event in the Cannon Caucus room. AAPD used this opportunity to recognize those champions that helped to shape and mold the ADA into what it is today. Again, Tony Coelho and both of the Kennedy’s spoke. Our own distinguished leader, Andy Imparato also presented an award. Among the award recipients were Congressman Weicker and author Edwin Black. I was especially interested in learning more about Mr. Black’s book War against the Weak which details the eugenics movement within America. Because of learning about this novel through the event, I actually ended up picking it up from Border’s this past weekend. So far, it is immensely interesting.
After the JFA awards event, some of the congressional and IT interns had the opportunity to join Tony Coelho for dinner at Tortilla Coast. This event was not as formal as the other events, but instead an evening for the interns to once again catch up with each other and ask questions of Mr. Coelho. I learned a lot from listening to him speak about his role in the Gore campaign as well as being the original author of the ADA. I truly appreciate Mr. Coelho for taking time out of his day to meet with us.
On Thursday, there were no AAPD sponsored events that I attended; however, I did attend a committee hearing. The Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties held a hearing reviewing the twenty years of the ADA. I had an opportunity to attend part of this hearing which had four panels of speakers. The main purpose of the hearing was to honor the 20th anniversary of the ADA as well as review the civil rights legislation to make sure it was working in an appropriate manner. I thought that the Subcommittee did a wonderful job of honoring those people who have devoted their lives to this cause as well as taking into consideration the struggles our communities still face.
Besides all of the events, we all still had to go into our offices everyday. I kept myself busy in the office by attending a couple other hearings on the Defense Budget and Treating Rare and Neglected Pediatric Diseases. With everything going on, I know I was very welcoming of the weekend. I was very happy to get a chance to relax, but I also took advantage of my mentor being in town for a short while. Cheryl and I went out to brunch and shopping on both Saturday and Sunday. It was really nice to spend a bit of time with her and catch up.
Overall, this past week has been exciting and fun, but I certainly welcome everything starting to wind down. More next week!!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Week 8: Lead On

So, it was quite a busy week for myself and the other AAPD Interns. However, it was truly a privilege to attend events where our nation's leaders came together for a single cause to push the movement forward for the advancement of people with disabilities. The leaders ran the gamut: there were Congressman, family and friends of disabled people, and people with disabilities themselves that have made great sacrifices to accomplish all that we have. It made me especially happy and proud to work for such a wonderful Congresswoman when my boss spoke at many of the ADA events. Her dedication to the cause is unwavering and encouraging. I also work under an incredible LD that helped pushed the movement forward as well. It's been an honor to serve in such a special office. Seeing the tremendous leadership behind the cause inspires me to be the best representative of the community I can be, and to apply that same leadership to all that I do in life. By listening to the speeches given by the leaders of the movement, they breathe life into the cause, inspiring many, including myself, across the country.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Happy Birthday ADA

Happy 20th Birthday ADA!

I can write about how amazing this week was but anything I will say would be an understatement. It would be too difficult to describe all the emotion, excitement and intensity throughout this past week. In school you always learn about American civil rights movements during the 60s and 70s and so on, and I knew that they were important to the nation's history and citizens, but to me these subjects were just chapters in a textbook that I had to read in order to pass the class. However, I am proud to say that I have been part of a civil rights movement that would go down in history and that other people would read about. I realize that I did not play a big role in the 20th anniversary of the ADA, but I am glad that I was part of such an important chapter of American history.

Throughout all the events this past week I saw and got to meet a lot of important political figures in D.C., from a Kennedy to the Attorney General Eric Holder, and this would not have been possible if weren't for AAPD and I am sure that like all the interns, I am grateful for all that the staff member and board members have done in order to give us this kind of opportunity. But out of everyone that gave speeches, that was quoted in the media and acknowledged, the MVP from this past week and weeks to would be Yoshiko Dart. If there is anyone in this world that can be in two places at once, it is probably her. Couple of the interns and I had the pleasure of attending the the unveiling of the Justin Dart call box on Saturday. I am glad that I decided not to succumb to the heat and stay at home, because we all had a chance to hear her actually speak in front of a crowd! And if she denies her MVP trophy, due to her modesty, the trophy would most definitely go to AAPD President & CEO Andy Imparato, who seriously looked like Jack Bauer from the 24, with his ear piece at the JFA event. I hope that he and the other staff members would each wear an ear piece to every AAPD event, because that was just too cool, and eventually the interns too of course. I had an interview with John Kemp couple of months ago and he told me that, "Andy will be president one day." I really hope so, so that I can tell everyone that I used to work in his office!

Well I would like to wrap things up by repeating, Happy Birthday ADA!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Volunteering at the Food Pantry

I went to volunteer at the food pantry of the United Church on Saturday and I was quite surprised. I had expected that the people who would be using the food pantry were going to be mostly homeless. However as it turned out only a few of them were homeless and quite a few of them were people with physical or mental disabilities.

After having gone to some of the activities this week in celebration of the Twentieth Anniversary of the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), my volunteering experience at the food pantry came as a reminder that the face of poverty is many times the face of a person with a disability. This experience also made me think about how people with disabilities are such a high percentage of the unemployed, or else not even trying to participate in the labor force, and as a result many people with disabilities live in poverty.

This summer I have met people with disabilities employed in both the public and the private sectors who are highly successful. My food pantry volunteering experience exposed me to the other end of the spectrum. I met people that have been left behind by society. These people stood in line outside of the building because the building with the food pantry was not accessible to people in wheelchairs. They stood in line outside and were provided with a bag of potatoes, carrots, a box of cereal and chicken parts. Also shocking to me was to see parents with their children, and a pregnant woman, picking up food because they could not afford to buy it. This contrast showed me that the ADA was just the beginning, but that society still has a way to go to ensure that people with disabilities participate to their full capacities in the economy and are fully included in society.

Internship Blog for Week Nine

Wow!! I had a lot of events to attend this week! The Spirit of the ADA Celebration and the Justice for All Award Event were both absolutely awesome! I really liked these events so much and enjoyed volunteering at them, too! I met Tony Coelho; he is Chair of AAPD’s Board of Directors, Original Author of the ADA, Former Majority Whip, and former Senior Advisor to the Democratic National Committee and Chairman of Al Gore’s Presidential Campaign. Wow! He is very important man!

He is really a very nice guy and very busy! I noticed he is always talking on the phone and texting too! I can tell that he works hard and it shows from his heart to show us what we can do. Don’t be afraid or shy to try doing something, just show what can you do and have confidence in yourselves. I learned from his speech and I wish I could chat with him at dinner but I noticed that he mostly was talking about congress and interns. Of course I was enjoying the dinner, too; the food was absolutely awesome!!

At my job, to be honest, it’s not really too busy, but of course I join in the conference room for discussions and meetings. Verizon came to my office and was trying to fix modem for the DSL so I can have my Videophone, but somehow Verizon still has problems in their Central office. I guess I just have to continue waiting, but interpreters will be coming for the conferences on the phone so I won’t miss and will be able to participate; I’m glad about that because I’m interested and want to participate. I’m starting to have more energy and it is becoming exciting start to work each day. I’m exhausted, but that’s not a bad thing; this experience and the learning worth it for me.

I’m looking forward to a very big event next week; it is going to be so very awesome! I will explain more about it next week after the event, but trust me – IT IS A REALLY BIG DEAL AND I CAN’T WAIT!

The Start of the ADA Anniversary Events

This week served as the kick-off for the 20th anniversary of the signing of the ADA. The celebrations started with the Spirit of the ADA BBQ and Concert at the Grand Hyatt. As a volunteer at this event I helped guide people from the Constitution level to the ballroom on the Independence level and from the back-up elevator to the ballroom. The Spirit of the ADA BBQ and Concert was a great way to kick-off this week’s celebrations. From the giant inflatable Justin Dart in the corner, to Majority Leader Hoyer, Congressman Sensenbrenner, and Congressman Kennedy’s speeches, to the music of Flame, the Spirit of the ADA BBQ was a huge success. On Wednesday after the JFA event the other interns and I went out to dinner with former Democratic Whip and Chairman of AAPD’s Board of Directors Tony Cohelo. I enjoyed getting to know Tony and I really appreciated his openness and willingness to share his insights with us regarding campaigns and politics. Tony’s an incredible individual and I’m very grateful for the opportunity to learn from him. AAPD’s done an amazing job of giving us opportunities to learn and grow this summer and I’m so thankful to be a part of this internship program.

Week 9

It has been a hot and beautiful, exciting week in DC and I am glad to be here! This week we had some pretty cool events. The first was the ADA event at which there were over 1500 people, a majority of which had disabilities. It was truly an inspiration to look out at the crowd and see people happy to be alive in this moment. Work has been going great I was given a big project that has to be completed before I leave, I am build a server for the office that will keep track of all the inventory at the office as well as a few other thing but I think it is going to be challenging but I welcome it. The interns are going to the White House to go to the ADA Celebration hopefully will have the chance to meet president Obama, that would be cool, later that night I’m going to the gala which is only a few block from the white house so I am looking forward to this week coming up because all the exciting thing that I am going to get to do. There is that ever looming last day of work and last day in Washington DC that I don’t really want to see but with the passing of each day it inches closer. I have made a lot of good friends here in DC and also learned some life experiences for example how to always plan for delays whether it be a late train or forgetting your key in your apartment.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Was that all one week?

Wow. It's pretty amazing how our community celebrates the signing of the ADA. I've never seen such a diverse group of people come together to rejoice over civil rights. Even though disability can be such a wide (and often divided) social category, what we have in common is that we are clearly appreciative of our rights and proud of the fight to get and preserve them. Monday was full of preparation for the week - we had to gear up for the events that were to come. On Tuesday, I attended a meeting of the Regulatory Education and Action for Patients (REAP) coalition, a new organization forming to ensure that patients are aware and invovled when it comes to health reform implementation. That night was the NCIL/AAPD Spirit of the ADA Event. We had an amazing turnout, and I actually loved taking tickets and handing out goody bags. It gave me (and several other interns) a chance to meet the majority of people attending the event, many of whom are deeply involved in the disability rights movement. The barbecue, music, and speakers all captured the enthusiasm we all have for the ADA pretty well. On Wednesday morning, I headed to the NCIL march and rally with other AAPD interns and staff. It was awesome to see everyone come together and shout about protecting our rights. The coolest part was probably the GIANT puppet of Justin Dart at the end of the parade. Jae, our communications intern, got some great pictures - everyone should check them out on AAPD's Facebook page. That night was the JFA event, which was equally amazing. There was an outstanding turnout. Along with a variety of other great people, I actually had a conversation with I. King Jordan, Gallaudet University's former president appointed as a result of the Deaf President Now protests. I couldn't believe I was talking to someone I had read about and watched movies about last semester. On Friday, we attended another anniversary event at the Department of Justice. Again, an amazing panel of speakers including Attorney General Eric Holder, Assistant AG for Civil Rights Tom Perez, former PA Governor and Attorney General Dick Thornburgh, AAPD board chair Tony Coelho, and a panel of others. That afternoon I sat in on a summit at AAPD on public transit, which showed me yet another side of accessibility issues. Still not ADA'd out, this afternoon I attended an event hosted by Yoshiko Dart at which a callbox in SW DC was dedicated Justin Dart. I was struck once again by the love and unity that is uniquely present in the disability community. Now, I'm gearing up for another week of celebration! Stay tuned!

Another week down

It has been a beautiful, exciting week in DC and I am glad to be here! This week we had some pretty cool events. The first was the ADA event at which there was over 1500 people, a majority of which had disabilities. It was truly beautiful to look out into the crowd and see people happy to be alive in this moment. We all have different battles to fight, and while mine don't necessarily include a focus on disability rights there is always a part of me that remembers my relation to it. I'm sure it is the same for many people in the disability community, and while we may not have the largest community or audience, we seem to have the largest hearts.
As I say and re-read the words "largest hearts" one name in particular comes to mind- Yoshiko Dart. I (and many others) am in love with this woman. She inspires the masses to cake action, no matter what their fight is. I'm not sure why though, maybe it's her enormous heart, maybe it's her calm and calculated way of acting, whatever it may be- it is beautiful. I am proud to say I had her sign one of the ADA shirts, and it will soon be hanging in my room at home.
Work has also been very good, I am pretty quick about my work and I am learning a great deal about MS access as well as myself. My work challenges my computer skills and my interactions with my co-workers challenges my interpersonal skills. A good mix to be working on!
Love is the most powerful weapon in the world, a weapon that can do great things or cause great destruction. Maybe one day we will learn to love each other for the sake of peace and equality, because equality is all we need.
As the infamous Justin Dart said: "I am with you always, I love you, Lead on, Lead on."

Friday, July 23, 2010

Week Nine

Week Nine
I never knew I could be such a good organizer and promoter. In the past I have had to promote my musical group, a handful of college parties, or an occasional dance recital, but never spent any time promoting government presentations, nor software releases. But I think I’ve done well this summer learning from my supervisors and coworkers at the USDA agriculture marketing service office. I was really nervous in the beginning stage of contacting important people; actually I was downright scared of it. I am an outgoing person; I love to talk to people but technical speaking can come create many questions and requires the ability to work without a script. I got to practice this week with Mrs. Drumm from USDA Agriculture Research, and after a hour speaking to her about the public comment analysis toolkit she will be representing her office in collaboration with many other USDA offices in support of the implantation of Dr. Shulman’s new software toolkit. The Access board (Sue Little) has also been invited to the presentation on July 30th at the Peoples Garden starting at 10 am where we will be serving FREE kettle corn, refreshments, and guacamole with polio con queso (chicken nachos) as well as guacamole which I am cooking for the attendants. I hope to see anyone who can attend from the AAPD that day, it is an excellent chance to meet in person a true entrepreneur (Dr. Schulman) and here how we was able to develop his software, market it and to see how YOUNG he is, it will blow your mind.
He is a Political Science major and an excellent networker (for you Congressional interns) and was a organic farmer in the past…an all-around great guy to know and so personable and friendly. I have learned SO much from him this summer…Thank you Schulman!
Justin Patterson

Monday, July 19, 2010 to Friday, July 23 2010: Busy & Closing to End of Internship

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

I wonder something about Blogging, the blogging is about post personal concern or post about your lifestyle, or something regarding to your personal life. But I am here to make a blog about my work experience and concerns in the organization, however, I think that blogging is related to personal life but I noticed I am becoming addicted to blogging because I can post things about my work experience but one negative thing about blogging. I cannot disclosure information regarding to my project; like what am I doing, what kind of information, etc because of the classified information. However, I am going to explain the days from July 19, 2010 to July 23, 2010

Monday July 19, 2010 was a relaxing day since I complete the projects and I am waiting for requests to come in, because the requests most likely to be in range from 5-40 requests that I need to put them in the database and excel spreadsheets. However, I received the email from the deaf employee in my agency, he asked for lunch meeting because he wants to meet other interns who are also deaf or hard-of-hearing.

Quote for Monday:

· I do not fear computers. I fear the lack of them.
Isaac Asimov: US Science Fiction novelist & scholar (1920-1992)

Tuesday July 20, 2010 was a crazy day because I went to meeting with my Chief Warrant Officer in the JAG conference with the team members. USCG seem a good agency to work with because they are very outgoing and very open for the interns who want to do something or just want to be part of the organization. Also, I was a volunteer at NCIL ADA Celebration to collect the tickets, hand-out the programs, and give-away the bags for people who attend the celebration.

Quote for Tuesday:

· Live well. It is the greatest revenge.
The Talmud

Wednesday July 21, 2010 was very busy day, because of NCIL ADA Celebration and I met a lot of people and it was amazing to meet people with disabilities but I do not call them, people with disabilities but I would call them the miracle people because they made it to society and can live on their life like other people. But I cannot believe that I saw Patrick Kennedy, he reminds me of John F. Kennedy because he looks exactly like him. But NICL ADA Celebration was very honor to all of us, including interns because we are the next generation that would be a leader in the community to fight for our rights.

· For me, disability is a way of getting some extremity, some kind of very difficult situation that throws an interesting light on people. Mark Haddon

Thursday 22 July, 2010 was another busy day because of another ADA celebration and I received an award for being an intern to complete the internship for Microsoft and I admire their company because I been using windows operating system because its gain my knowledge about the computer but learning will never ends till you want it to. Then I went to dinner with Tony Coelho, I admire his speeches and he inspire me in some ways because I remember why I want to be a better person who has disability but my disability do not limit my education or knowledge.
· Who is General Failure, and why is he reading my hard disk?

Friday 23 July, 2010 is very relaxing day because there is less work and there is no event that going on, I feel so peaceful but I cannot believe that my internship is going to end but I don’t want to because internship help me to show the world that I can do it and I am not fearful of learning the new things. I am making a lot of good friends with other interns and I hope that I able to keep in touch with them because they are my good friends and I am not going to forget them because we make it for current generation and show the world that we are not fearful of anything, including the society but there are some changes that we need to fix but changing is what we want in our generation and future generation to fix the errors in the past generation.

· Computers are like Old Testament gods; lots of rules and no mercy.

Well, take care ladies and gentlemen, Kevin Whetstone is signing out.
See you next week

Week Eight - The Eighth Adventure

I had a nice tour with Microsoft at Reston, VA. It was a great experience to learn new exciting innovations that they have made. They showed us the features from windows 7 phone and what Microsoft has implemented in the search engine "Bing". Then we get to see an innovative video about the future. I know I did not say much, but in all of these years of innovation and technology, I have never bought an Apple product before. I just continue to stick with Linux and Windows technology. I am not saying Apple is bad, I do not know any other multinational corporation that is named after a fruit. Perhaps I should start my own company called Bokchoy Inc to sell cell phones that has all of the accessibility features that meets section 508 requirements.

Events, I had plenty of events, first I went to the ADA Anniversary Celebration as a intern volunteer. All I did was help take the tickets and pass out bags with the program information. Besides being a volunteer I did do much to enjoy the party.

Next event was with the JFA Awards. That's where I started to interact with more people. I have received my award with the other interns. I have also listened to important speeches from leaders. I am also glad that my supervisor came to this event.

After the JFA award events, I had dinner with Mr. Coelho. I appreciate meeting him, he is a wonderful man who has contributed a lot. I thank him for all of the good things that he has done.

Now let's talk about my job. I had a research project to find the best Web Content Management Systems (WCM) for my Branch to buy. It's for managing content and they can be used for people who want to build websites or a webpage with no knowledge of XHTML markup language. It is necessary because It takes too much work for a webmaster to add information for thousands of users, let the people do it themselves. My job was to focus on finding a good WCMS that allows integration to Microsoft SharePoint with .NET API. The best ones that I have found so far are Sitecore, SiteInfinity and Kentico. They all have accessibility that meets Section 508 standards.
I apologize if this blog was not as interesting as my previous blog. I am just glad that I have had a adventure. The ADA Anniversary begins on Monday the 26th. It's going to be fun.

There's no meaning to a flower unless it blooms.. ~ Zen Proverb

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Long Week but Worth It

July 22, 2010
I will not write about the Spirit of the ADA barbeque, though I ate and enjoyed myself there. Also not about the event yesterday, The Justice for All awards, though there was an impressive lineup of politicians. I assume others will write about these. Instead I will write about the ADA event that happened today at the EEOC where I work. I worked right up until it started because we are still rushing around installing software for the laptop rollout. I and my fellow workers hoped for some sweet treats. I had a brownie and schmoozed a little. I am getting tolerably good at this, hm. I talked with both commissioners who were there and the new chairman Jacqueline Berrien. Of course the latter, Andy had to introduce me. They were welcoming. The commissioner, Chai Feldblum who organized the event was welcoming if busy. I sat at a table and got into 2 discussions, one about how to use a laptop at home, and the other about Charlton Heston as an attractive young man in Ben Hur.I got up to get soda and lost my place as the room filled up, but I could still see the speakers.

Intro remarks were by Jacqueline. Wade Henderson emphasized that his organization was called Leadership Conference on Civil and HUMAN rights for a reason. Awards were presented to several EEOC people who played key roles in ADA’s passage. The two blind awardees, I mention their disability because they were both funny and polished speakers, were Christopher Bell and Christopher Kuczynski. Mr. Bell has the most illustrious and long career. He was assistant to the late Evan Kemp, who was elected Chairman at the time of ADA in 1990. Mr. Bell is also VP of American Council of the Blind of Minnesota, and travelled widely to the 50 states about ADA’s employment provisions, answering questions, attending conventions and generally educating the public. He was funny too: the award presenter said ‘I assume this is your wife,’ and he responded quickly with ‘Never seen her before.

Two lively moderators, Christine Griffin and Chai Feldblum kept things moving. Christine has a lovely New Jersey? accent, is in a wheelchair, and pointed out former colleagues as she spotted them: “Didn’t you used to play at those poker games where we discussed regs?” She studied mechanical engineering and was going to make the big bucks designing medical equipment but had a detour when she decided to go to law school and continue working at the EEOC. She worked on LEAD. Twenty years went by “like a flash” she said and got teary talking about the teamwork she experienced. Chai Feldblum, EEOC commissioner who I met, took over from there to introduce the Panelists. We were behind time but the energy was positive and the lawyers had good strong voices and this was the best part. Several were lawyers who’d worked at EEOC on different disability ‘charging parties’ as the discriminated person is called. One of the most moving was related by Jean Kamp, an attorney, about someone who wasn’t there and in fact couldn’t speak for themselves. He is a person with autism and cognitive disabilities who worked for Chuck E. Cheese. He started work as a cleaning person there, and the first day the regional manager came by and said ‘whats he doing here?’ Luckily this person was just visiting, and the immediate boss wrote a sympathetic letter to EEOC that said, ‘he’s only been working a while but seems to work hard at it, and can’t you do something for this guy?’
A week later though the regional manager was back, and this time fired the man immediately. He had been proud of his job and really put his heart into it. Now he wouldn’t get of the house or even the car if got that far. He wouldn’t play with kids or date his girlfriend. He got 7000 in lost pay, and a very much larger, a million or so, in ‘compensatory?’ damages. I guess that is a good outcome, but I think I noticed more how much he valued his job and being given a worthwhile responsibility. Someone said later ‘work is good for the soul.’

James Hill, was another ‘charging party.’ I was glad he was able to come and tell his own story. He worked for a storage and maintenance company. He said the manager said “I’m ok” and refused to shake his hand, because he has extensive burns from when he rescued children from a fire. This same manager sent a note to upper management that read that “[Mr Hill] is handicapped, deformed or something and it’s clear he can’t get the job done.” Mr. Hill’s hours were then reduced and he was terminated shortly afterward. The EEOC brought suit on his behalf and obtained backpay and compensatory damages and to conduct ADA training to prevent further discrimination. Mr. Hill said work was his ‘therapy’ because there was a time in the past when he was too injured to do it so he put himself into it. He said it was a long and exhausting process to go to court and contributed his opinion of it. Chai responded that she was grateful to people that come forward and go through the process so others don’t have to.

The lawyers who worked with the EEOC in the intervening years of the ADA had good stories, but I will just end with the one who was the most moving in his remarks. John Mosby worked for EEOC from 1974 to 1980 and then in private practice after that. He settled a case where federal post office employees if disabled during their employment were placed in ‘rehabilitation’ positions which were barred from any promotion. 10,000 employees were affected. He had many remarks which I wish I had written down, but I did remember his closing. He quoted from TS Eliot who said
“We shall never cease from exploration/
And the end of all our exploring/
Will be to arrive where we started/
And know the place for the first time.”
He said that it is coming around again. First civil rights had to be fought for and won because they are not inevitably granted. And now disability rights face the same entrenched institutional prejudice. And I believe he said also that he could hear the footsteps of the younger generation of activists coming up behind and that’s a good thing. I hope you all found something inspiring in this major week of ADA events, and also will take something home to your communities' benefit, as well as in your own future careers.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Excuse me...don't you mean "public transportation"?

This past week has been busy, busy, busy!!! Towards the beginning of the week, the Congressional Interns all had the privilege of meeting with our sponsors from MEAF again. This time it was for a dinner at Ella’s Pizza on Tuesday night. As usual, I had a great time getting to catch up with Kevin and Allison who man the two person DC MEAF office. The dinner was excellent, and I don’t think any of us could have asked for better company. It was nice to relax after a day at the office and hear what everyone else had been up to. Wednesday brought more excitement in the form of a lunch meeting with Bart Peterson who is the Senior Vice President for Eli Lilly. My mom’s company works in close partnership with Eli Lilly, so I was familiar with the company and eager to have an opportunity to listen and ask questions of a person in the upper levels of the company’s management. It was fascinating to hear about Mr. Peterson’s career which has been anything but ordinary. I never really considered how many career paths one person could have, but given that he has been a lawyer, mayor, and now the Senior VP it has become very clear to me that you can enter any profession at any stage in your life.

To wrap up the week, I had the chance to attend an intern lecture from the media department of the House Ways and Means Committee. This session was very focused on how best to take a message of a politician and send it out to the public. Although I cannot foresee a press secretary position in my future, I believe this message is quite applicable to any person who is trying to “sell” something whether it is a business plan, candidate, product, or even yourself to an employer. The presenter, Sage, also left us with one very memorable and often overlooked piece of advice as well: “to spell check ‘public transportation’ and ‘pubic transportation’ are the same thing”. Apparently, a staff person that Sage worked with once made this extremely minor mistake which then became available to the press and turned into a giant embarrassment. By using this little anecdote, Sage impressed upon us the fact that when sending out a written statement whether it’s in a cover letter, press release, or product label proofreading is VERY important. Considering he was speaking to a group of interns who grew up in the computer-age, this may not have been the most insightful advice we have ever gotten in our careers, but I can promise you, not a single person who was in that room will ever send out another written document without quadruple-checking it again.

Overall, this week was pretty jam-packed with events and lectures from which I took a lot of useful information. I know the next couple weeks are going to be even crazier, but I am definitely looking forward to them!! Until next time, have a great week!!

Great Week At Work

This week started off as any other week I went in and started working on the testing of our web calendar for the office. The web calendar project has given me a lot of experience in dealing with software companies and how to get them to better suite their product to your needs, and how to also get them to work on the price of the software. Wednesday of this week we got in some disk drives cd coping capability. I was tasked with the job of installing them and making sure that all the software was installed and ready to go. Thursday and Friday I worked on a dell laptop that had a serious virus on it and the memory in the computer was completely corrupted which made the computer do a memory dump and give you the lovely blue screen of death. This was complicated fix because the virus messed up the registry of the operating system so it would not allow me to access the hard drive, luckily my boss showed me a tool that would boot the operating system and allow you to access the computer’s hard drives and pull off any important documents and information. The program is called Bart PE it’s actually really cool in my opinion because Bart PE operates by loading system registry files into RAM, and not writing any registry changes back to boot media. Thus, both operating systems require no hard drive or network access. This also allows them to be run from non-writable media such as CD-ROM. Additional applications can be included in the BartPE setup through the use of "plugins". A plugin contains setup information for a specific application, so that it can be included on the media and installed along with Windows at each BartPE boot. Currently there are a few hundred plugins available in addition to the dozen-odd that are included by default with BartPE.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Week 7

Last week was super busy, but a lot of fun.I had the opportunity to hang out with an alumna of the AAPD program on Monday night.It was great to hear how she made the most of her summer on the Hill, and also get advice from her about law schools.It was interesting to see how the experiences she had through AAPD and her networking have paid off, and helped her continue with her career aspirations.

Tuesday we had dinner with MEAF. This was our second get-together with them, and every time I leave with the feeling of being incredibly lucky. DC is certainly flooded with interns in the summer, but rarely do interns have the support we get from both MEAF and AAPD. Their support has been crucial for making the most of this summer’s opportunities.

On Wednesday I had the opportunity to attend the Brownbag Lunch where Bart Peterson of Eli Lilly spoke about his varied career. I’ve really enjoyed all the opportunities to hear professionals speak about their careers and give advice, it really puts the summer in perspective and hopefully puts me on the right track for my own successful career. He spoke about how no one ever told him to be a politician (he was the Mayor of Indianapolis previously), he just decided it was something he wanted to do and thought he could succeed at. He seemed to follow the same advice for every career change he made, from politics to academia to pharmaceuticals. I found his advice very valuable; at times its easy to get caught up in pursuing careers other people have told us we should, instead of pursuing what we truly want.

Thursday night I was able to hang out with my mentor, Yoshiko Dart, which was fantastic. She’s one of the nicest people to be around, I instantly felt relaxed and ten times more confident. Having a mentor has been one of the best parts of this summer, and makes me feel a lot more at home in DC.

This weekend my sister flew in from Switzerland (where she lives/works) and I showed her around DC- at least sort of, I kept getting lost, so she ended up navigating most of the time! We shopped and ate too much. Since we’re both addicted to crime shows, we visited the International Spy Museum on Sunday. We walked by the White House and saw some other sites. Then this morning I gave her a tour of the Capitol before she flew onto Chicago. I’m glad I got to share where I work with her and show her a little bit of the work I do.

Making accessible web sites - a brief guide

A major part of my internship has been researching accessibility issues on the web. You do not need any fancy accessibility features like text enlarging buttons or widgets that will read out the text on the page. Rather, most accessibility problems on the web are solved simply by using good coding practices. Well written code will allow assistive technology to correctly interact with your website. Below are a few key points that will help make your website more accessible.

Pay attention the the w3c standards for HTML
It is incredibly important important to make sure your code is standards compliant. While newer browsers are fairly good at dealing with HTML errors, your site is far more likely to show up different in older and simpler browsers. And if older browsers are going to have trouble reading your code, you can be sure assistive technology such as screen readers will have trouble as well. Run your website through the W3C validator and eliminate any errors or warnings it shows.
Another common problem is when people don't use the recommended tags for different html elements. Make sure you use h tags for headings & titles, strong for bolded text. ul or ol should be used for list content, even if its not going to be displayed like a list (this includes navigation links as well). Avoid using tables for anything but actual tabular data, and always use row & column headers.

Provide subtitles and/or video description for multimedia

Most developers these days know to add an alt tag to every image as a description (in fact your code will return errors if you do not), but very few include subtitles & video description in multimedia. Make sure that you have an alternate medium for any information you provide that isn't text. If you have any images that convey large amount of information, such as graphs, use a long description instead of just an alt description. And if you are using flash for your website, chances are there will be major issues for anyone using assistive technology to interact with it.

Be careful with your forms
Forms are often written without accessibility in mind. Make sure you add a label tag for each field. Also, its often helpful to add a tabindex to make sure that fields are presented to the user in the correct order.

Think about how people with disabilities use the web
People with screen readers or other forms of assistive technology often browse the web a bit differently. They will often bring up a list of headers in order to skip to the section of the page they are looking for, which is why it is very important to use h tags. They also may skip between the links on a page looking for what they need, so it is important to have the text in the link be something that describes what you are linking to, rather than something non-descriptive like "click here".
Another major problem related to this is that many people with disabilities do not use a mouse. Many interactive web technologies, such as javascript, use mouse movements as a cue to trigger events on the page. If you have interactive content on your page, make sure that it can be interacted with using speech recognition software and even just a keyboard.

You can use the incredible WAVE tool developed by webaim to help highlight these and other potential issues with your site. Simply provide it with a URL for your site and it will show problems, as well as elements that commonly are done wrong like forms.

These are just the major accessibility issues I see day to day. While this is not a comprehensive article, it should help you correct most issues on your site.

Softball

Two things worthy of mentioning occurred this week. The first involved having the opportunity to meet the University of Wisconsin’s Chancellor, Biddy Martin. The chancellor was in D.C. last week and visited my Congressman’s office to talk business. When you attend a school that has upwards of 42,000 students, meeting the head of the University is pretty big deal. My boss was nice enough to let me talk to the Chancellor and later, I was able to take a photograph with her.

Secondly, I played softball with my congressional office last Thursday night. Every Thursday night during the summer the congressional offices get together and play softball against each other. It was nice getting out of the office and getting to know the other staffers on a more personal note outside of the office setting. Because of the size of the team, I did not get any playing time in the field but I was given the chance to bat and I got a base hit.

On My Heels

This blog is dedicated to my amazing summer which is coming to a close. I think Washington D.C. is such a great city and I am going to miss it a lot. I have learned a lot this summer and have had a lot of fun. I really hope that someday I get to come back to Washington D.C. This city is full of surprises. For example, last week I was walking through Georgetown and realized that what I thought was a bookstore, next to other stores and restaurants, was a branch of the DC Public Library. It was pretty cool that the library is in the middle of all the action, shopping, dining, and reading all on the same side of the sidewalk and in the same block.

Living in Washington for such a short period of time has its down side too. At times I want to see and do so much that I end up really exhausted. But that is OK, more reason to come back. The subway can be not so great after certain hours, and I must confess that the grid system of letters/numbers as it converges around different circles is sometimes difficult to navigate and get oriented to when looking for a particular place.

My summer in Washington D.C. resulted in being different than I expected. I thought that I was going to spend a lot of time on the Mall visiting all of the Smithsonian Museums, but I have visited only five of them because I found there were so many other things to do in the city. I am going to try to catch up on the Smithsonian front on the last two weekends I am in town, but I have really enjoyed visiting many of the distinct neighborhoods within the city, Woodley Park, Adams Morgan, Georgetown, Tenleytown, Dupont Circle, Capitol Hill, etc.

I also thought that D.C. would be a big city but I have run into enough people I know to give me a feeling that I am walking in a small town. I have run into AAPD interns, interns from work, AAPD staff, and people from church. I also enjoyed seeing public figures. I remember walking out of a building and seeing Dana Bash from CNN, and quite a few politicians on the Hill. Washington DC has been a great place to be this summer of 2010.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Week 8

An afternoon in Alexandria, an evening at the Jefferson Memorial, a visit to the White House, a stroll along the Boardwalk at Ocean City, or an adventure at Great Falls Park, with my time in DC quickly coming to an end I remain committed to attempting to see and visit as many attractions and cultural centers as possible. This past weekend I visited the International Spy Museum a museum filled with stories of danger, betrayal, and gadgetry. One of my favorite aspects of the Spy Museum was its interactive nature. Upon entering the Spy Museum each guest assumes one of 12 preconceived identities from an art student to a business executive and the opportunity to participate in interactive exhibits. I must say that I’d never before climbed through an air duct while trying to evade detection from the tourists below. This weekend I also visited the Museum of Natural History for the third time this summer. Each time I visit the Museum of Natural History I focus on a particular section of the Museum. In the insect exhibit I witnessed a fully operational beehive and saw Butterflies emerging from their cocoons. Visiting the Spy Museum was an incredible experience and I’m looking forward to exploring DC and the surrounding cities and areas in the coming weeks.

Week 8: Be the Go-To

These past seven weeks have provided an intellectually invigorating experience that I am so grateful for. Throughout my experience in the office, I continue trying to be the go-to person for as many things as possible. For example, if there is something that needs to be done that I can do, no matter the task, I always volunteer to do it. This past week, the Chief of Staff needed something done and I eagerly volunteered to do it. The next time he needed the same thing done, he came to me and asked me to do it. An internship is not necessarily an opportunity to demonstrate expertise in a certain area, but an opportunity to demonstrate character and an eagerness and will to learn. I came to DC with a hunger to learn and the will to work extremely hard. If nothing else, that is what I'd want my boss to remember.

Internship Blog for Week Eight

A Sign-Language Interpreter came to my office for the 10am meeting by conference call; it takes around 10-15 minutes for the conference and then we’re done. The meeting talks about security software and a few other things.

I like learning new things. For instance, last week someone installed a new keyboard for me while I was at lunch. I noticed that the keyboard had a place to insert card and I was like “um I don’t know what that is”. I went to my POC’s office because I needed his help with something and then I saw him just pull his DHS id card out on the keyboard and itself locked the computer! I was like “HEY HOW DID YOU DO THAT!?” He laughed and said “cool, isn’t it”? I said “YES”! I asked him, “Can I use my DHS id card and insert on my keyboard?” He said “of course; I will send it to you”. When it was inserted on keyboard, it then asked me my pin number; I typed my pin number then it was a successful log on and when I pull out my DHS ID Card and it automatically locked computer! It is great and it saves time!

I had a quiet day, but interpreters came to my office for the meeting at 3pm in the conference room. I noticed the people to be not so agreeing about the different kinds of software. I just watched and was learning from them and trying to understand everything. I’m still waiting for the DSL modem from Verizon; it has not arrived yet. When the videophone is connected and working then I can to start participate in the meetings with them see what’s going on. I’d like to help and participate!

I went to the Microsoft Technology Center in Reston, VA. Oh man it was so amazing! I learned about new advance technology like I never did see before! I am so happy that AAPD provided all IT Interns the tour to Microsoft Technology Center; it was a wonderful experience. I learned about IPhone technology and how one can read a newspaper on it. It would like automatic change to the next new page while still on front page. I was like “that’s impossible” but one never knows, it could be coming soon! There was a display about Google and Bing, also. I really like Google better than Bing. The man said that Bing has different features like when you type Washington, D.C. in map then you can see more and zoom closer to show clearly the live picture of the place. To be honest, I think Google is still BETTER than Bing but that’s my personal opinion. I will be working at Microsoft Technology Center in the future, I hope. I am keeping a positive attitude. Really, today was an awesome experience!

New Week, New Struggles

This past week was very stressful and yet enlightening all the same. Starting with early this week, I got a call from my mother; my grandfather had just been admitted to the hospital with numbness to various parts of his body, including his face. Now, having some basic medical experience that I leeched from my best friends (two doctors) and my cousin (a registered nurse in NJ) over the years, I was easily able to understand the medical jargon that was used to describe his symptoms and possible causes of said issues, but all of us were still stumped. The doctors ran a full battery of tests, and still have no idea what the cause is, which worries me greatly. My mother had to fly up to NJ to help my grandmother deal with my grandfather being in the hospital. My week started off horrible with that, worrying me to death. On a brighter note, he seems to be doing better which is good. One last test on Monday and he gets to come home, but we still don’t know what is wrong, which is troubling to say the least.

In other news, I got to visit Microsoft’s Regional HQ out in Reston VA on Friday with the other IT interns, which was awesome to say the least. Considering that I am already working with Microsoft Public Sector consultants at CBP, it was a pleasure to see the Reston center where our PMR (Project Manager) goes for meetings ever 2 weeks. My cousin also came into town for the weekend and took me out to Mortons for some prime steak, and to McCormick and Schmicks for some amazing seafood the next night, which was great. It was cool to see them again, and when I get home he’s going to be in Myrtle Beach for 2 weeks so I’ll get to hang with him again.

Till Next Time,

Ron S. Nunes

Week 8

During my interview for the communications intern position here, I was told that this summer will be a busy one. That was an understatement.

All the preparations that the AAPD staff members have working are all coming together. With the events coming up on the 20th and the 21st, next week will highlight all the hard work that the staff members here in the office have accomplished and we are all excited for this week to begin!

From day one of my internship I started working on the Disability News Digest, where we compile daily disabilities news across the nation. And from the News Digest I'm glad to see that DC is not the only place where there will be celebrations for the 20th anniversary of the ADA. I am starting to see more and more news regarding celebrations and events for the upcoming anniversary all across the nation.

Also, I started the Countdown to ADA Video Series project the second week I got to the office and I was excited to interview everyone we had lined up, and it's hard to believe that I have finally reached the bottom of that list! This upcoming week, the video series will feature three very prominent leaders in the disability community, and we hope that all of you will watch and learn what it takes to be on the top of the disability community.

This week Amelia and I had the pleasure of going to Senator Leahy's Annual Ice Cream Social, all thanks to Yoshiko Dart! Like most people in our community she has a very hectic schedule planned for this week. I'm sure everyone will be very busy just like Yoshiko and I hope that in the midst of all the events and celebrations we keep our cool and enjoy every minute of the most exciting week of the summer!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Awesome week!

This week I was assigned a project to migrate a website from the old Stellent CMS to the Drupal CMS. Over that past couple weeks I have been learning the in’s and out’s of Drupal, now I get to use what I have learned in a real situation. So far everything has gone relatively smoothly, and I expect to have the project done before my internship reaches fruition. I look forward to the remainder of my internship.
This week I also attended the trip to the Microsoft Technology Center in Reston, VA. I was so excited to attend, as I am a big fan of Microsoft products. During my time there, they presented and demonstrated different technologies and talked in particular about the Enterprise side of Microsoft products; as opposed to the more commonly known consumer products such as Windows and Office. I got to see a few things that I have never seen before, and I also learned some new things about technology I had previously know about. What I found really awesome was their future prospects for consumer and enterprise technology. They had ideas for products that I would absolutely love to get my hands on.
I was a busy week and a good week.
Ben

Friday, July 16, 2010

Week Eight

Week Eight
This week it was back to work, and back to business. The week started off with a meeting with Dr. Schulman, the developer of the public comment analysis toolkit (PCAT). I have been working with Dr. Schulman since the beginning of my internship with the USDA developing a video tutorial training module to reduce the time required to implement the software across the different government agencies. I have never witnessed someone so determined to see their software succeed to the highest level of acceptance, implementation into Microsoft. Schulman was amazing, not only is he a brilliant program designer, but he is an amazing salesman who is dedicated to improving his product through what he calls “the voice of the people” or the consumer’s needs. I was fascinated at how down to earth someone whom has received a several million dollar contract from the National Foundation of Science could be. After we finished the meeting Schulman arranged with the USDA he answered many of my personal questions and we went to lunch to discuss his years spent as an organic farmer before he became a college professor at UMASS and work programming software for the government. I am a organic farmer as mentioned in previous blogs and I was delighted to trade tips and secrets back and forth with a Master organic gardener. This experience is probably my most exciting and impressionable this summer, and I would like to end my blog with a giant THANK YOU DR. SCHULMAN, you have changed my opinion of what is possible in my own life and inspired me to continue down the long and winding road I currently find myself on. Schulman you ROCK!!!
Justin Patterson

Rough week, many lessons learned

Yes, it's been a rough week. I have a habit of doing dumb things sometimes and usually end up getting in trouble. However each time this happens is a great chance to learn about proper work edicate as well as myself. So not too much to report work-wise, just that it's been a long week and I'm glad it's Friday. Today I had the honor of visiting Microsoft's tech center and it was... well... beautiful. I learned a lot about new, exciting Microsoft technology and got a chance to see the mystical cloud. For those non-tech people reading this, the cloud is the future. Essentially the cloud will one day hold all of our documents and information so we can access it anywhere at anytime.
One of the more funny parts of the event today was when the microsoft people kept commenting about broken antennas (referring to the flaw in the new iphone). They later commented "this is one of the few times we get to laugh at apple". That made me laugh.
On a similar note, I bought a mac last week, my second mac ever (first that ive owned, the other I got from my school that I later gave back). I mainly got it for iphone programming, but so far I love the hardware... granted the software isnt "pro" friendly, but this hardware is great. I got a refurb for the money I got from AAPD!! Thank you microsoft for buying me a mac!
I kid... but that is pretty ironic. Oh well! see you next week!

The ADA Generation

I can’t believe I only have 3 weeks left here. As the ADA anniversary approaches, it’s made me think a lot about how lucky all of us are to be part of the “ADA generation.” Even though I don’t currently need to use many of the accommodations it provides, the ADA represents a major attitudinal shift that happened in 1990. The message it sends is that it is our responsibility as a society to accept people with disabilities and to break down as many barriers to independent living, employment, and inclusion as possible. These changes are definitely setting in, though slowly; for example, the CDC just appointed a Chief Officer of Disability and Health (Dr. Vince Campbell) for the first time. We are on our way to protecting the rights and safety of students with disabilities in schools, but students with disabilities still have a lower graduation rate, a higher dropout rate, and are disproportionately subjected to sometimes dangerous interventions such as seclusion and restraint. I feel lucky to have a law protecting our basic rights, but we still have a long way to go.

Speaking of the anniversary, that’s the main focus here at HQ this week. The interns here have been helping with some of the details around our events (like stuffing goody bags for Tuesday’s party), and the invitations for more celebrations just keep coming. I’m really looking forward to next week, especially to attending a NCIL rally and march on Wednesday with Ginny, who runs our Interfaith Initiative, the other HQ interns, and possibly some others. The anniversary seems to be on everyone’s mind; yesterday, I attended a Senate markup of the Equal Access to 21st Century Communications Act, and several Senators mentioned that this law would help realize the goals of the ADA more fully. Anyway, I’m looking forward to a relaxing weekend before next week’s tornado of events!

Lucky Seven - The Seventh Adventure

Blogging, is it really useful? It's nice to share my life experiences but does what I write really mean something? I believe that actions speak louder than words. A English proverb that means what I do is more important than what I say. Like my job, it's all about proving myself that I have completed all the tasks to make a difference instead of saying anything at all.

So how's my week? It was decent and dreamy about new opportunities for the future. I had lots of thoughts what I would like to do next after my internship term ends. I think I will try to go grab opportunities that people don't want to give out so I can make a bigger difference. I know that many people do not like to share their power. Getting a job that everybody wants and remaining on the job forever means more competition. I love competition, sometimes it can be ugly, either way its adventure.

I was the only IT Intern to attend to the Brown Bag Lunch with Mr. Peterson. He is a very intelligent leader to listen to, I never get tired of his speeches. I appreciate his contributions. I do not know a lot about health and medicine but I am the logical guy in the Information Technology world. I can learn anything and earn achievements.

Want to hear about my job? I have been researching for Web Content Management Systems (WCMS) for my branch. I believe hundreds of people will be using it. I will explain more about it on the following week.

I love making blogs short, got to keep it simple and avoid unnecessary complexity. Perhaps most readers on the internet do not like to read walls of text? If I wanted to share my entire experience, I think I will need to write a book.

When you get to the top of the mountain, keep climbing. ~ Zen Proverb

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Advancing Futures for Adults with Autism

This Thursday, I attended a briefing organized by Advancing Futures for Adults with Autism (AFAA) which focused on ensuring adults autism live meaningful lives. I believe there is less focus on the needs of adults with autism today because so much media attention surrounding the “autism crisis” focuses on diagnosing autism & early intervention. While both issues are certainly important they focus almost entirely on children. In general, there is a lack of focus on the needs of adults with disabilities in our society in part because our media largely focuses on children with disabilities only. These children are often portrayed in the media as “saints” to be admired for their “innocence”, while adults with disabilities are “grotesque” figures to be shunned. Today, programs to assist adults with disabilities are significantly less funded than those for children & contain less flexibility in use of funds. I believe this is largely due to such stigmatization of adults with disabilities, displaying how large an obstacle it serves to prevent these gaps from being filled. When there is reference to an “autism crisis”, I respond that the only “crisis” surrounding autism is the undeniable lack of support services which allow for our full inclusion in society. We do not “suffer” from autism for the sole reason that we are autistic, but what many of us really suffer from is unjust stigmatization, isolation & exclusion from viable educational & employment opportunities.

The fact that 90% of people with autism are unemployed & 80% are still living at home is a direct result of the real crisis at hand. The crisis of a lack of options in independent living as well as in variety. I learned at the AFAA briefing that because location of independent living facilities & their services are inseparable, someone must move out if they find the services no longer meet their person-centered needs. We need to ensure people with autism engage in meaningful vocational training that prepares them to enter the workforce while they are still attending high school, have access to services such as job counseling that allow them to find & retain jobs. In addition, employers must not only be exposed to the positives of hiring autistic people (Walgreens for one has made great strides in hiring people with disabilities with success!) but be trained to full understand the strengths & challenges which autistic people face. Lastly, in order to ensure independent & meaningful living for people with autism, we must not only including viable housing & employment options, but also ensure an ability to engage in community life/social activities

Yet this is certainly all easier said than done. And not just because of the need to increase funding, commitment & coordination between both public & private sectors. But also because there is too large a focus on “curing” those of us with autism & other disabilities away. With current stigma & negative viewpoints around disability- especially adults with disabilities- society neglects the fact that so many of us ARE able to live meaningful lives today. When we focus on eugenics & institutionalization as the only options in the midst of this “crisis”, important issues such as independent housing & meaningful employment are virtually ignored.

Monuments

I walked from the Washington monument to the Lincoln Memorial over the weekend. At the monument it was a good day to go because it wasn’t very hot, 88 tops, and there was a Really strong breeze, especially at the top of the hill. I asked someone to take my picture and I just wanted a reminder but they wanted just so with the Monument in the back, the flags on the side, and the sun not behind me. Well maybe the sun idea is a good one. I walked via the WW II memorial, and asked a park ranger to take my picture there. I think he said the state pillars were arranged by region, because they seemed sort of random. I walked up to the Lincoln Memorial along the reflecting pool, which is dirtier than I remember, with all the geese. Still a nice walk. Half the people were sitting on the steps, so I wove among them. The statue seemed very familiar though I hadn’t seen it since I was 11 more than twenty years ago. Maybe you know this historical tidbit, though I didn’t: on Wikipedia “historian Gerald Prokopowicz writes that, while it is not clear that sculptor Daniel Chester French intended Lincoln's hands to be formed into sign language versions of his initials, it is possible that French did intend it, because he was familiar with American Sign Language, and [Lincoln’s connection with Gallaudet University].” The room to the side with the Gettysburg Address was also familiar, and I peeked around the columns to get a better picture. The columns have deep channels that from a distance look much more like thin lines making the familiar ionic shape. The reason I say this is that I have an excuse for being clumsy. When I was 11, I had a nervous tendency to swing anything around that I was carrying. This included my camera. It connected with that pillar as I was thinking deep and patriotic thoughts, and crumpled. Now I see how it could have got caught in a groove.

From this I was broken of the habit of swinging things, but still have vestiges of nervous energy such as drumming my fingers and getting my neck so stiff I can barely do Yoga. Another thing I gained from that was that either through thinking so hard while swinging my camera, or to reassure myself afterward that something good would come out of difficulty, I memorized most of the Gettysburg address. I forgot how much I love the spoken word and songs. I was there at 4:30 and saw a sign that they were going to have the Martin Luther King speech at 5, so I too sat on the steps to see who would do it. A small Park ranger came out and he gave an intro but it was a recording for the actual speech. I knew only parts of it. The actual speech had more that I had forgotten. It mentioned so many parts of Americana such as the Declaration of Independence and patriotic songs, that all at some point referred to freedom and equality for all people. I guess that going back the same way, I was a little bit inspired, because I was humming that song, ‘My Country Tis of Thee’ with its reference to ‘Let freedom ring.’ Music is powerful and I also thought of ‘America the Beautiful’ because someone just told me that it says and “mend thine ev’ry flaw.”

I am not so enamored of this city right now, heat is corresponding with a low mood. I do not usually mind the subway but it is hard to go from an area with very few people to being squished up with many and staring at everyone’s shoes, and being short, reaching the hand holds. I am getting infected with a spirit of impatience, that makes me try to go through the turnstile as fast as possible, and tense when I have to ask for help with my card. I am not on a roll, I am not overflowing with energy or ideas. I go slowly up the escalator. So it is a combination of nervousness and lethargy. I will try to find things to do to keep busy, and report back on what helps with fatigue especially. I think I will go to bed actually and forget my troubles.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

5 Days of WONDERFUL experience along with Week SixS

Monday, July 12, 2010:

My work were cut short due to my commander’s retirement, I went to Women in Military museum to recognize her longest serve in United States Coast Guard, she served for 22 years in the military. She received an award and her retirement award. Her husband and her children (a girl and boy) received the gifts from her for being there for her service in the military. Then afterward, I went to a retirement party for her and we were at park. We were talking about her service and how she helped the agency, but I am going to miss her since she is not going to be at United States Coast Guard anymore. But I wish her a good luck in her future and with citizen world.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010:

My work is very interesting, because I received the invitation from Mr. Calvin Lederer, Acting Judge Advocate General from the United States Coast Guard. Also, I will have a meeting with Information Technology Help Desk to discuss about shared drive because they set the limitation to 200 GB for all agencies to use, I cannot image at how they can handle the limitation of GB on the share drive.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010:

My work is very interesting because I helped my co-workers with files and nothing related to my major because they need to organize the files for the agency. Also, I am kind to help them with the files and putting into unclassified bags. Another relaxing day for me because there is not too much of projects going on but I am waiting for the appointment with Help Desk related to Shared Drive because I think they need to fix the issues since the United States Coast Guard will have a lot of information. The average files are on shared drive is a lot of information regarding to laws, policy, etc.


Thursday, July 15, 2010:

This day kept me busy by adding more requests to database, 192 requests! but finally i have more works to do. I also have a meeting with my co-worker and a team member from different agency within USCG. The meeting inspire me because another member that have same point of the views about SharePoint but if the agency want to use it. Then I am their helper with the requirements for SharePoint. Also, I like to help and make the federal agency to be a better organization.

Friday, July 16, 2010:

I will meet with another deaf professional and have a chit chat with. Also, I will be working on database and hopefully, I can meet with more deaf professionals.

Take Care,
Kevin


Monday, July 12, 2010

Short week, lots to do

Last week was another busy one, even after the long weekend. I participated in a conference call on Tuesday that introduced the new government healthcare website. If you haven’t seen it yet, feel free to check it out: www.healthcare.gov. It explains the new law well, but it also has a customizable insurance options selector that is pretty cool. Eventually, it will have the plans from the state insurance exchanges posted on it, so you can just enter some information and the website will choose specific plans that would benefit you. It even has a special section about how health reform will affect people with disabilities. On Wednesday, I started a new project working on part of AAPD’s website. I’m editing a page that explains Health Reform from a disability perspective. It’s been interesting to learn how to use our Content Management System, which is something I’ve never done before. I’ll post a link to the site in a couple weeks, after I finish. Wednesday night’s pizza party was, as everyone else said, not an ordinary pizza party. It was a great opportunity to meet successful people in the disability community while eating some truly delicious pizza! On Wednesday, Mat McCollough came to HQ to present at a brownbag on Professional Communication. I found it really helpful – my job here includes a lot of emailing, and it was great to get an in-depth lesson on how to make the best impression and get the best results during electronic communication. I worked a lot on my DMD project last week as well – I think I’m making some progress there. Finally, on Friday, I went to a briefing by the Alliance for Health Reform on health reform implementation – I actually met another Vassar student there! Though I did a lot of interesting work this week, I was definitely ready when the weekend came. On Saturday, I met two other interns in Georgetown (I live pretty close to there), and we got food and played a game. It was a fun way to relax after my long week. Sunday, I watched the World Cup finals with my sister and some friends – all in all, a great week!

week seven

To reiterate what Ericka said in her blog post, you call this a pizza party? Last week, the AAPD interns had the pleasure of meeting Wade Henderson, Dick Thornburgh, Ralph Boyd, and Jonathon Young at a so called Pizza Party.

We all had the pleasure of listening to them speak about their careers and how they reached the positions they are in today. And what they had to say had a great impact on how I view what is left of my college education and my future goals. Jonathon Young told everyone that he started his undergraduate education studying engineering and somehow ended up working with Tony Coelho, and it got me thinking, where can political science and communications lead me? Like most of the congressional interns, I also see law school in my future, but what’s to say that won’t change tomorrow or the next day.

Throughout this internship, my thoughts on my future career path changed almost every day, and it will probably change again as soon as I finish writing this blog. For some reason every job in DC seems intrigue me in some way or another and I feel like I’m in elementary school again. Well, I guess this is better than not knowing what to do at all! I’m excited to see what else will pop up in the near future that will once again grab my attention, and I hope that there will be more opportunities like this in the remainder of the summer.

July 4th

The weekend of July 4th started off with a 8 and ½ hour drive to myrtle beach south Carolina to see my family and meet Justin’s family. We left Washington D.C at 5:30 pm that Friday and made our way down 95 as fast as I could, don’t get me wrong I love Washington D.C but I need to see some sand, sun, and ocean a little vacation never hurt anyone, everybody needs to shift into neutral and recharge the batteries. I was in Myrtle for 3 days then I drove to Georgia to see some of my friends that wasn’t such a bad drive it was only 5 hours and my roommate matt rode with me so it wasn’t bad at all. The drive home was interesting because I stopped at south of the boarder in South Carolina and bought 162 dollars worth of fireworks to shoot off when I got to my house. Best 162 dollars I’ve ever spent on fireworks that is I got a 30 min show for 162 dollars which isn’t a bad deal my friends were happy because my town did have that many fireworks because it rained on the 4th. I took Tuesday and Wednesday off from work so I could spend so more time with the parents but as fate would have I had a mandatory meeting to attend back here in Washington D.C so Wednesday morning I left around 6 am because it is about a 10 and ½ hour drive my house in Georgia to D.C but I made it back with no time to spare. I parked my car at South Hall and Matt and I booked over to K&L Gates to make the pizza party on time.

Shopping for Food in Washington, D.C.

I have tried to shop at different food stores while in Washington, D.C. in order to compare prices and the variety of goods available. I must admit I enjoy more eating out than shopping for food or preparing it. As you can probably guess I like to eat what other people cook. I must confess that I am not a good cook. I do love to visit the supermarket’s fruit and vegetable sections. I have been to two different supermarkets and I noticed how expensive some of my favorite fruits are when compared to home. When I go shopping for fruits at home I love to look at their colors and smells. When I buy them I love their texture, the juice and their consistency in my mouth. Some of my favorite tropical fruits are pineapples, mangos and guavas. In D.C., I have seen lots of bananas, all of the same kind. I also saw some pineapples and mangos in the supermarkets I visited, but there were no guavas. What attracts me most about guavas is their smell. I just love it. The kind of bananas that I like from Puerto Rico I did not see here in the supermarkets, they are smaller in size, wider and taste different, like a mix of apples and bananas at the same time. In Puerto Rico we call them “manzanos”.

Sunday I reminded myself that I had to go food shopping. As convenient as CVS is, that does not constitute food shopping, I needed to go to a supermarket. So I went to “Trader Joe’s” where I found some reasonable prices and a certain variety of fruits and vegetables. Granted some things were way over-priced, there were not as many tropical fruits as I can find at home, but some bananas and mangos looked nice. Their prices were too expensive and I decided to wait until I go back home again to have them again. Nonetheless, I was able to find reasonably priced popcorn, peanut butter, cereal bars and some different brands of cereal. I was able to get a bit of breakfast food for a good price and I actually do not have to cook what I bought. Great!

Speechless

DC is giving me writer’s bloc. I’ve been trying to write a blog post for a week, and yet its still 1:30 AM on Monday morning and I am speechless. My friends back home have probably fainted from the shock of the previous sentences. I am never without words, its why I’m an English major. No one ever wants to sit next to me at the movie theater because I won’t shut up. I’ve always got something to say…except for right now. Tonight I spent two hours on the phone with my friend Melissa brainstorming, pleading with her to give me some ideas so I could go to bed. We finally settled into a discussion on the anniversary of the ADA and what its passage has meant to me. I decided the answer was pride in the disability community. I hung up ready to write the best, most amazing blog post EVER, bar none…except as I started writing I realized I already wrote about disability pride, a few times in fact. Gulp. This is going to be a long night.

Sitting here pulling my hair out and listening to the Glee album on repeat, I’m wondering if its possible I could really have absolutely nothing left to say about the disability experience. If its really a simple enough issue to have fit into a mere five weeks of blog posts? Yes. No. Maybe… I have no idea.

Part of me wants to write that disability is no big deal. It’s a simple fact of life. It is not a singular identity, but a difference in experience. That the ADA has uncomplicated the issue of disability, to show our community as fellow human beings unfairly segregated, de-humanized, and shoved aside. That with the anniversary approaching, people with disabilities are people first, and appreciated as important members of society.

The slightly louder part of me is saying no; that the issue of disability rights is so entangled in the very principles we value as a nation. That this is a marathon, not a sprint, and as such the ADA cannot be applauded as the finish line, but should be heralded as a sign of the strength of our community in the miles to come. And the reason I am running out of writing material is not due to the simplicity of the issue, but all that I have left to learn. This summer has certainly been a great education in the vastness and diversity of the disability community.

The really sleepy part of me is saying maybe and I have no idea. That at the end of the day I have enormous pride in the disability community. That the ADA broke down barriers to facilitate my pursuit of a happy and successful life, and also resulted in a pride that fuels my actions. But I also do not allow myself to be only a person with a disability. Disability is part of my life, but it is not all of it. And in the end the only way to reconcile these two aspects of myself is to stop asking yes or no questions, especially if I want to get to bed anytime soon!

Besides my writer’s bloc, this week was pretty awesome. As a couple of people wrote about, we had a star-studded pizza party on Wednesday evening. Like Ericka mentioned, I generally think of pizza parties as pretty chill, but of course AAPD never does anything halfway! It was more like a networking extravaganza, with several leaders in the community present to give us advice and also hear how our summers are going. Thanks to Yoshiko Dart, PJ Edington, Ralph Boyd, Dick Thornburgh, Wade Henderson, Jonathan Young, Mat McCollough, Andy Imparato, and all the others who took time out of their busy schedules to share their experiences. Mat also hosted a presentation on Thursday about professional communication and using communication strategies to reach consensus. The presentation was very helpful for professional development and I’ll definitely be applying the skills to my internship.