“The Only Perspective That Matters”

He was a miracle baby. Born two months early in the 1950s, he spent his early days on life support in an incubator. The incubator saved his life but not his eyesight, which was lost due to the complications.

Music was both a love and talent from his earliest years. As a child, he played piano, harmonica, and drums. With a friend, he formed a duo that played at dances and parties. Ronnie White of the Miracles overheard the young boy playing harmonica and introduced him to the world of professional music. By 13, he had signed a contract with Motown and wrote a song that became a radio hit.

He was a success from the beginning. Before his teen years were over, he co-wrote much his own music and music for other groups, such as the Miracles and the Spinners. By the time he was 21, he had self-produced an album. As he explored his musical talent, he felt stifled by Motown, which had the final say in his music.

At 21, he created his own publishing company and renegotiated with Motown so he could have full artistic control over his music.  Armed with creative freedom, he paved a new way in R&B music. His innovations on the synthesizer produced a unique, new sound that topped the charts.

His formidable musical talent also gave him a platform for addressing the issues close to his heart.  At the height of his career, his music often addressed social issues such as poverty, drugs and war. His music was known for having a social conscience.

In the midst of this success, he was in a serious car accident that left him in a coma for several days. Within the year, he was back at his music career although the accident permanently damaged his sense of smell.

During his career, he has been the youngest person to have a number 1 hit, won several Grammy Awards for Album of the Year, and the Academy Award for Best Original Song among other awards. He has learned 9 instruments and is hailed for shaping the sound of pop music in the 70s and 80s.

As his sphere of influence grew, he used his wealth and position to promote causes that were important to him. Most notably, he successfully campaigned for Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday to become a national holiday. In addition, he sponsored a home for children with disabilities, became active in Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the Charge Against Hunger Program, and the anti-apartheid movement.

In a 2012 interview with The Guardian, he was asked if his disadvantages made him the success he is today. He responded, “Do you know, it’s funny but I never thought of being blind as a disadvantage… I am what I am. I love me! And I don’t mean that egotistically – I love that God has allowed me to take whatever it was that I had and to make something out of it.”

Generated by  IJG JPEG LibraryWho is this musician and activist? Stevie Wonder. In the 70s, his musical innovation led the way for a new sound in R&B.  His success in music gave him a public platform for speaking up about social issues. How did he achieve all this success? By recognizing that his innate talent didn’t need to be stifled by what people would often consider to be ‘disadvantages.’ Incight applauds everyone who refuses to let limiting beliefs stand in the way of their potential! Thank you, Stevie, for being an inspiration to us all.

Keep an eye out next month for the story of a man who got his start as a zombie in a Thriller reenactment and moved on to fulfill his dream of acting.

Seasonal work to seasoned worker: A big amount to gain from this small employment opportunity

With summer approaching, it’s time to think about plans for this exciting season. Whether you are in transition between careers or planning for summer school or camp, an alternative to the traditional would be to find and apply for seasonal work. Not only can seasonal work help pad your wallet, but it could actually be a simple way to jump-start your long-term career. Consider the following:

The beauty of seasonal work is its low commitment level. Its limited duration offers glimpses into a specific industry or line of work, which may intrigue you or leave you thankful for the quickly dwindling weeks. Seasonal work can help you develop a clearer picture of what type of work you enjoy and what type of work environment is optimal for you—very important criteria for both the student solidifying a clear career goal or for the professional planning a career change.

If you choose to find employment as a seasonal worker, don’t hold back—embrace the opportunity! Seasonal work is a great arena to show your enthusiasm and willingness to learn. If approached with the right attitude and work ethic, seasonal work could do one of two things for your future—both good of course. Take a moment to imagine things from a boss’s perspective. Say a full time position opens up and qualified candidates are needed. As the person doing the hiring, you have options. A capable and enthusiastic worker that you know and have observed wins out over someone who simply looks good on paper. The hiring decision is easy, because it saves time and a working relationship is already built. According to a careerbuilder survey, 77% of employers plan on considering their summer staff for permanent positions. But oh – your #1 candidate has a disability? Not an issue at all! This candidate performs duties successfully and with a fantastic attitude in spite of their challenges. Get the picture?

Ok, now out of the boss’s brain space and back into your own. Keep in mind that your supervisor has connections in his or her industry too. Your boss is your “foot in the door”, eager to help you get to wherever you see yourself in the industry. Did you know that up to 80% of full time jobs are obtained through networking? (More on that in this great NPR story). Definitely a noteworthy statistic when thinking about full-time work.

As we’ve seen, a lot of good can come from trying out summer seasonal work. Now, here are some links to get you started in your search:

  • Seasonal positions on indeed.com
  • Browse craigslist to see what you can find. It’s a popular site to post to, and a real variety of work is available to you here.
  • Portland Parks & Recreation posts often to fill its seasonal employment needs. If you love being outside and organizing activities, then this wide array of opportunities is perfect for you.
  • Seasonal and temporary postings with the Forestry Service are ideal for the job seeker with more of a natural setting in mind. Note that USFS postings are on the government’s main job page. Include with your query, “USDA-Forest Service” and your location to find current listings.
  • Or, get out there and NETWORK!!!

How to Become Batman

We have posted this show on our Facebook page and the staff at Incight has been talking about it since it was first broadcast on NPR’s new show Invisabilia in January this year.  If you haven’t had time to listen to it, take some time now.

Listen Now ›

At Incight we meet amazing people who believe in their own potential and believe in potential of the people around them.  By understanding that our potential is truly unlimited and in our hands, it will be realized.

In so many stories we hear about individuals who defied the odds. At Incight, we want to fundamentally change the game.  The odds are not against you, rather you are limited only by the opportunities you see for yourself or that others see for you. When we see challenges as hindrances, we will struggle. When we see them as opportunities, we will succeed. By achieving, or even by failing – we succeed by learning and growing stronger. If we start expecting the best from ourselves and those around us – we will ALL rise to those expectations.

We will be celebrating the people in our community who embody that spirit by honoring them as Hall of Fame Inductees and Heart of Change Award Winners. Join us on Tuesday, May 12th, at 7:30am for Incight’s Hall of Fame Breakfast. Bring a friend to learn more about Incight and the Game Changers in our community.

RSVP Today ›

In Honor of MLK

“If you can’t fly, then run, if you can’t run, then walk, if you can’t walk, then crawl. But whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.”  – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


We look to the wise words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  He teaches us that, in spite of our limitations, we must always improve upon ourselves.  He urges us not to focus on what we can’t do and instead do as much as we can.  Dr. King was speaking to us as individuals, as much as he was speaking to us as a society.  Despite our societal limitations, we can improve upon ourselves and as individuals we can make our society better.


We are humbled by Dr. Martin Luther King’s service to our country and to the civil right’s movement.  At Incight we believe in the potential of every human being and the potential of our society as a whole.

Ridiculous Fun

Heather Brooks earned both her undergraduate

and graduate degrees from Portland State

University. She lives and writes in the Rose City, 

while completing an internship at Incight.



At an African airport, a little guy gets bored waiting for his luggage at baggage claim. So he convinces his travelling companion to lift him onto the luggage carousel. Off he goes! By this time, a lot of other passengers are watching the tiny figure in the sunglasses, wondering if he is a statue, a real person, or “the world’s most handsome duffel.”
He reaches the door to the baggage room at the end of the terminal without incident, but with the smiles, laughter, and shouts of “God bless you!” of the baggage handlers.
No, he is not a child.
Nor does he have dwarfism.
He is Nick Vujicic—pronounced Voy-a-chich– a 29-year-old Australian gentleman who stands three feet, three inches tall, and weighs 74 pounds, because he was born without arms or legs.
And if anyone knows how to have fun, it’s Nick.
He surfs. He swims. He fishes. He golfs. He plays soccer, the drums, and keyboard. He rides horses. Most recently, he’s taken up skydiving. He’s figured out how to do these things independently,
He discusses this concept of ridiculous fun in his book Life Without Limits: Inspiration for a Ridiculously Good Life. Nick bases this concept his belief that “every living, breathing person on the planet should be committed to doing something ridiculous at least once a day.” With that in mind he’s created what he calls “the Ridiculous Rules.” There are five of these rules, and they are guidelines for having, as Nick says, “ridiculous fun.” To paraphrase, the rules are as follows:
1. Allow a trial period. If it’s a long-term situation or commitment, such as a relationship, or a new color of paint for the living room, try a little bit temporarily, to see if your new venture is a good fit for you.
2. Do your homework. Gather as much information as you can about what you want to do. Of course you can take risks, but it’s always wise to know what you don’t know about your new endeavor. See item five for more details.
3. Consider the timing. Sometimes it simply is not the right time to take a risk. When N ick was 12, his family moved to California from Australia, to take advantage of the medical treatments available there for his condition. Four months later, they moved back. His parents hadn’t been able to find jobs or affordable housing. It wasn’t the right time. Nick loved California, though, and after he graduated college, he moved back there, and there he lives to this day. When he moved the second time, he had made all necessary arrangements, and the transition was successful.
4. Accept feedback. Ask for advice about your undertaking from those you trust.
5. Be prepared for anything. Every action has consequences, many of which are unforeseen. Always have an alternate plan should your primary vision fail.
Nick suggests that play and fun are necessary to good mental health. He cites a study of several hundred serial killers. Almost none of the subjects had regular play periods as children. Play is vital to guard against depression. The author of the study advises that work and play should be combined; we shouldn’t just set aside time for leisure.
Do you ever do this? If you’ve ever attended a business meeting over lunch, dinner, or coffee, you have.
I do too, although until I read about it in Nick’s book, I wasn’t aware of doing it. I volunteer for our local classical radio station. I hold a Masters in writing with an emphasis in editing. I edited the content of their entire website. One year, for my birthday, I couldn’t think of anything I’d rather do than volunteer at the station for an afternoon.
The staff thought I was crazy to work for free on my birthday, but I did just that. I provided them a service they needed while listening for four hours to music I loved. I still count that among the most wonderfully, ridiculously fun afternoons of my life!
Combining work and play is a regular habit with Nick. He travels the world as a motivational speaker, and his ride on the luggage carousel occurred on a speaking trip.
Even during his presentations, Nick has fun. He demonstrates how he answers a landline telephone. Though legless, he has a partly formed left foot. With the two toes on it, he lifts the receiver. Then he kicks upward, tossing the receiver onto his shoulder and securing it between his ear and shoulder.
The phone isn’t the only thing he kicks around on stage. A keen soccer player, Nick will select a member of the audience and ask him or her to stand halfway across the room, and catch a soccer ball that he kicks to them. For each presentation, he has his caregiver or caregivers place him on a table so that he is readily visible. He walks to the table’s edge, and balances there, very much to the worry of his listeners, who are usually afraid he’ll topple off!
He never does.
No matter how he demonstrates it, Nick is a living example of our belief here at Incight, that having fun is a form of the independence we seek to foster among members of the disabled community. For more about Nick, his story, or his speaking engagements, read his book, or visit his Web site at www.lifewithoutlimbs.org.

Two Sides to Every Horse by Heather Brooks

Heather Brooks earned both her undergraduate

and graduate degrees from Portland State

University. She lives and writes in the Rose City, 

while completing an internship at Incight.




When you have cerebral palsy, your body ages faster.  Comes with the territory.


But that doesn’t mean that the loss of abilities you once had isn’t hard to take.


It started as just a form of physical therapy, but as I grew up, horseback riding and everything to do with horses became a passion of mine. I rode for the last time when I was 12.


And then I got older, and bigger, and my body stiffened.  I stopped doing therapy, and, I confess, generally neglected myself for years. By the time, about a year ago, that I decided I wanted to ride again, my hips were shot.  They were nearly out of joint. An orthopedist told me I’d probably never ride again.


That was a week before my 29th birthday, and it was a blow. I cried like a five-year-old, complete with loud wails and a drippy nose.  I promised myself I would ride again. Gradually I calmed, and the little voice in my head decided it was time to have a logical conversation.


“Riding isn’t everything,” it said.  “It’s only a small part of working with horses. You’ve got to have a good ground rapport with any horse before you even dream of hopping on its back. You have to study its body language. You do that by watching the  whole horse.  And everybody knows you can’t see the whole of a horse when you sit on it!”


Right through my tears, I burst out laughing.  “Of course!” I said out loud to my empty apartment.


The little voice continued. “You sit on a horse, honey, and you can’t see his emotions in his eyes, and you may not be able to feel through the bit the tightening of the mouth that could mean he’s angry or frightened. Remember Titan.”


How could I forget him? Titan is my friend Brandon’s quarter horse, a mighty gelding, huge for his breed, and a brilliant red chestnut color. Titan is only eight, but already he’s had a rough life. Brandon rescued him from a neglectful situation, and was the only human Titan liked.


Until I came along.


“He’s feisty,” Brandon warned, before he introduced us.


“So am I,” I countered.


As Brandon led Titan toward me, I could actually watch his pace slow. I saw that proud neck bend in submission, and the long lashes sweep down over brown eyes that had suddenly softened. The big ears canted toward me, a sign of respect, and stayed that way while he grazed a little. Then he turned his attention to my chair, on which he began to chew, while I had a laugh attack.


After a few minutes of chewing, sniffing, rubbing, and other sensory explorations of my machine, he sighed, accepting my equipment as part of the package.  He blew comfortingly into my hair, and stood perfectly at peace as I talked to him and stroked his neck and flanks. He didn’t spook when I pulled my chair around in front of him, and right up under his chin.  Brandon’s girlfriend, Jaquie, took a picture of this, and it worried my poor elderly mother to pieces. “Eee! You’re close to him!” she fretted when she saw the photo.


“Of course I am. That’s why Brandon and Jaquie brought me there. So I could see horses and get close enough to touch them. You forget, I’m not afraid of horses.”


“I would be so afraid!” groaned Mom, wide-eyed. “I can’t understand why you’re not. They’re so big!”


My older sister finds it “hilarious” that I’m not scared. I had to remind them both that I’d been around horses periodically since I started riding therapy at age four.


Not long after my visit, Jaquie told me that Titan had bucked off his latest rider, and this wasn’t an isolated incident.  Part of me couldn’t believe that the gentle giant who’d nuzzled and “kissed” me with his soft nose was a bucker. But then I thought of Titan’s past, and his view of the human race as a whole.


And then I wondered about the rider.  Had she taken the time to build a ground rapport with Titan? Had she read his mood in his eyes, the tension of his mouth, the angle of his ears, or the position of his legs? Did she run her hands over his glossy coat to feel whether his muscles quivered with anxiety? Had she talked to him so he’d come to recognize her voice, or given him a minute to nuzzle her hair and acclimate to her scent? Had she approached him quietly but confidently, letting him know she neither feared, nor meant to harm, him? I didn’t judge her, but I wondered about these things.

I thought of all of this as I sat in my room after that crying spell. I realized that if I had simply gone for a ride on Titan, I wouldn’t have established a rapport with him. I wouldn’t have won his trust; he might have thrown me sky-high, and left me in even greater need of a wheelchair!


Penmanship Award by Heather Brooks

Heather Brooks earned both her undergraduate

and graduate degrees from Portland State

University. She lives and writes in the Rose City, 

while completing an internship at Incight.




They say good penmanship is a dying art. Not surprising, given that many schools no longer teach it, in this computerized age. But Wilson Christian Academy, in West Mifflin, PA, still emphasizes this skill.  The school offers an annual award to the student in each of its eight grades who has the best handwriting.


That is unusual in itself, but the story becomes truly remarkable when one considers that this year’s first-grade honoree, Annie Clark, was born without hands.


Annie’s determination to live a normal life inspires everyone around her, including her parents, who have seven other children, five of them disabled in various ways. For more about this little girl, her upbeat outlook, and her achievements, click on the link below.


You Can Judge a Tattoo by the Sound of the Voice

Heather Brooks earned both her undergraduate

and graduate degrees from Portland State

University. She lives and writes in the Rose City, 

while completing an internship at Incight.




                  Ridiculous assertion, right? The two are completely unrelated; everybody knows that. And yet, people judge each other by superficial means like this every day.

Author Jason F. Wright is no exception to this tendency, as a trip to the grocery store sharply reminded him. He saw the limits his stereotypical views of acceptable father figures placed, not on others, but on himself, limits we here at Incight call hand•i•crap.

Can a man with a classically fatherly voice be a heavily pierced and tattooed punk rocker? Can a heavily pierced and tattooed punk rocker be a sensitive, capable father? Do his children dare dream like other kids? Discover at the link below what Wright learned from what he saw.



What’s Your “Normal?” by Heather Brooks

Heather Brooks earned both her undergraduate

and graduate degrees from Portland State

University. She lives and writes in the Rose City, 

while completing an internship at Incight.





That word is not only highly subjective; it can also be highly offensive to those it is used to exclude.

So how does a typical day shape up for you? What do you do? What can you do? How do you do whatever it is? Which challenges do you face? What comes easily? In short, what’s your “normal?”

For me, it’s a temp of 97, a weight around 100, and a pulse of 72.

It’s the slight asthmatic hitch to my breathing and the hint of a slur in my speech.

It’s a lisp when I get tired, a dull headache when I get cold, and dizzying hypoglycemia when I get hungry.

It’s when my muscles relax after my morning coffee kicks in, or when my legs tremble with spasms that sting like electric shocks.

It’s supporting all my weight on one arm to change position in my wheelchair, with the realization that I’m not getting any younger, and yeah, someday my right rotator cuff will probably hate me. It’s the twinge of arthritis in my back, from a fall I took, chair and all, at 17, and the swelling of the same in my right ankle from sprain upon sprain.

But it’s also washing my hair, one-handed, in my bathroom sink, all on my own.

It’s applying my makeup the same way.

It’s trips downtown to the symphony on the bus in the dark, and knowing the difference between the high Baroque and the high Romantic periods in orchestral music.

It’s navigating the city of Portland more by senses of hearing and smell than by sight.

It’s when I feel the approach of a heavy vehicle far away through my entire body.

It’s inventing my own recipes just because I can.

It’s a bachelor’s degree in a sleeve on my bookshelf, and a master’s in a frame on my wall.

It’s thinking (not fluently, mind you) in three languages at once.

It’s inhaling the scent of a new book, caressing the pages with my fingers, and hearing them rustle when I turn them, because although I can see well enough to read the book, my nose, fingers, and ears will tell me more about it than my nearsighted eyes ever could.

So which is abnormal, the fact that the disabled person washes her hair with one hand, that the disabled person washes her hair with one hand, or that the disabled person washes her hair with one hand?

Note the differences in emphasis, and consider: Is it odd that the disabled person washes her own hair?

Well, apart from those who frequent salons to take care of this, millions of people each day wash their own hair.

Is it strange that the disabled individual should desire to maintain personal cleanliness?

It’s my understanding that that’s the socially acceptable practice, but who knows? I’ve been wrong before.

Is it peculiar that the disabled person performs all the steps of washing her hair using only one hand?

Countless people do countless things with one hand, and simultaneously do countless entirely different things with the other.

It’s called multitasking.




Hey, Me!: What I’d Tell My Younger Self

Jon Bateman’s story is an example of the personal and professional success Incight seeks to foster within our Scholars and the community at large. They say hindsight is always 20/20. Jon Bateman, born with spina bifida, knows this firsthand. With it in mind, he’s written the article called, “Hey, Me!: What I’d Tell My Younger Self”, offering insight to the disabled about how society generally perceives them.


Now 35, the self-styled “professional communicator” and president of the Calgary Sledge Hockey Association wrote this article out of his feeling that articles by disabled people about societal perceptions of disabled people are in short supply.


Bateman combines understanding of the frustrations that accompany disabilities with practical advice that’s short on self-pity and long on progressive thought. To read the entire article, click the link.