By Adam Cohoon and Jennifer Conroy
It was after a particularly stressful week and my minor nervous breakdown in public that I decided to make the change.
I needed to adjust the way I did my advocacy work, and everyone around me knew it too.
It took me several months, the support of many close friends, and watching “60 Minutes” along with a documentary made on a GoPro camera to make me realize something life changing: I could use the same equipment with my physical disability if it was mounted on my wheelchair.
I forgot to explain I have a disability called cerebral palsy and I use a power wheelchair to get around.
I should also mention that because of this disability, I cannot hold a camera in my hands, but ever since my teen years I've had a keen interest in photography and video.
Before I got the GoPro camera, I would do video work with the help of my friends. I could also take photos with a camera phone, but I was on the lookout for something better, since it didn't have the resolution I desired.
After my breakdown was when things started to come together. I got involved in a few community initiatives about raising awareness on local issues and I realized new ways of giving people first-person views on barriers, and accessibility were greatly needed.
The biggest challenge I was facing was getting people to take my work seriously.
I spent the next summer and fall racking my brain on how I could help represent the visual context of the physical barriers I was running up against and feeling on the inside to my viewers.
The hard path I was seeing began to disintegrate when I discovered the rugged and accessible camera.
I knew I had to have it, so after convincing my family, I purchased my camera using the funds I had accumulated from my late uncle's estate during a Black Friday sale.
Mounted on my wheelchair, it has allowed me the freedom to make many videos and photos with two buttons, independently of all the accessibility barriers I faced before.
Since then, I have been able to use my work in countless projects, art shows, and also gotten involved in other community ventures where my accessibility knowledge is used in many rewarding ways. It has also brought me something else: recognition.
With a clearer direction in my life, I plan to continue to have exhibitions using my media to bring accessibility to the arts community.
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