As the principal and founder of the DisabilityResourceExchange.com (DRE), Rudy Sims used his own disability as an impetus for advocacy. Dyslexic and born with Cerebral Palsy, Rudy’s mission is to create support, education and community for people with disabilities, particularly those who are living in isolation.
Rudy created the DRE social network as a place to discuss disability issues and exchange resources, ideas and support. The network seeks to bring together all those interested in disability issues to foster a spirit of cooperation and education. Active since 2009, the group has already helped close to 1,000 people.
We talked to Rudy about the milestones that led up to his creation of the DisabilityResourceExchange.com.
“As a child with physical and learning disabilities, I started my education in a special school for disabled children and then fought to stay in my local public school system,” said Rudy. “I think my greatest accomplishment was fighting to attend Teaneck public high school as its first disabled student, which made it more accessible to future generations of kids with special needs.”
According to Rudy, the creation of the DisabilityResourceExchange.com web site and his blog, www.copingwithdisability.com, was driven by his own chronic pain and isolation. “Running these web sites gives me a sense of purpose. And aiding others in dealing with disabilities helps me to cope with my own disability,” says Rudy. He says, when coping with disability, he feels it’s important to keep your situation in perspective. “Social networking allows you to see that you aren’t alone — other people deal with it, too.”
With more than 4,000 followers on Twitter, Rudy has learned to effectively leverage social media to raise awareness for disability issues. He is ranked among the top five Tweeters on Disability issues on Listorious.com.
“I come from a technological background. My father worked for Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) and taught me about computers and technology from a very early age. My goal has always been to use technology to raise disability awareness and connect people in the disabled community. I feel this is a new field to be explored and a new way for advances in disability advocacy.”
Rudy’s advice for others with Cerebral Palsy or similar special needs is to ask for help when you need it and to establish a good support system – be it family, a support group or a psychologist. “I think it is important to be open to new ideas about coping with a disability effectively. I would also want to tell others to try and be positive and smile, because smiling rubs off on the people around you.”
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