“Being in a wheelchair myself, I’ve realized that people with disabilities are not really aware of the rights that they have,” said Strzalkowski, president of the FDAAF
GAINESVILLE, FL (PRWEB) October 01, 2013
Wheelchair-bound attorney Rafal Strzalkowski, who lives with cerebral palsy, will be a keynote speaker at the 8th World Congress on Conductive Education following the launch of his accessibility awareness nonprofit.
On Oct. 12 in Munich, Strzalkowski will speak about the importance of growing up with Conductive Education, an integrative education and therapy system for people with disorders of the central nervous system. Similar to the goal of the Conductive Education school in which he was raised, the Polish-born lawyer hopes to help disabled people become as independent as possible through the Florida Disability Access and Awareness Foundation.
“Being in a wheelchair myself, I’ve realized that people with disabilities are not really aware of the rights that they have,” said Strzalkowski, president of the FDAAF, which was registered as Florida nonprofit on Jan. 17. “I believe that information is key, so the more information you have – including knowing about your surroundings and how to get around by yourself – the better you will be.”
Because he grew up in Poland, Strzalkowski was able to attend the nearby Petö Institute for Conductive Education. Founded by Hungarian physician and educationalist András Petö, Conductive Education incorporates students’ development and personality characteristics to create a complex system of education and therapy. Through the FDAAF, Strzalkowski hopes to connect schools and businesses that encourage physical and emotional progress in disabled people.
“I’m educated and accessibility issues affect me today,” Strzalkowski said. “I know there are a lot of people who would benefit from better resources.”
In order to create an organization that serves the Florida’s disability community, which lacks information about legal rights and sidewalk accessibility, the FDAAF board of directors includes an architect, a businessman, a disability services provider and software developers, Strzalkowski said. Board member Paul Brophy is a business owner in Gainesville who has experience accommodating people with disabilities in his former restaurants, The Shamrock and Brophy’s Irish Pub.
“People don’t realize that a lot of places – a lot of businesses, like restaurants, bars and clubs – do not have any facilities for handicapped people,” Brophy said. “Their staff don’t even know how to handle it, they don’t know where to seat them. And a lot of people who are in wheelchairs don’t know that there are businesses and restaurants that they can go to.”
The short-term goals of FDAAF include providing links and through its website and organizing outreach to the local Gainesville community. The board is also working on developing a mobile app that provides information about which areas and businesses are wheelchair accessible in Gainesville.
“I want to set up a structure of people to be in charge of going block by block to evaluate their surroundings, actually assessing sidewalk ramps and continuity,” Strzalkowski said. “These are very important factors for wheelchair-bound people.”
The board expects to launch the app by the end of the 2013. Information about the FDAAF and its initiatives may be found at http://www.fdaaf.org.
In addition to sharing experiences about growing up with Conductive Education at the conference, Strzalkowski will present excerpts from his new book, “Never, never quit,” which chronicles experiences from his blog about overcoming disabilities, http://blog.lawyeronwheels.org/.
For more information about the 8th World Congress on Conductive Education, please visit http://www.ce-worldcongress2013.org/default_en.asp.
Writer: Danielle Torrent
Sources: Rafal Strzalkowski, +48 789202594
Media Contact: Paul Brophy, 703-819-7733