Friday, August 31, 2012


I am a University student and I have written many research essays up to today, but one I am particularly proud of is the one below.  The prompt was to find an image and analyze the who, what, when, where, why, and how of all it embodies.  I chose the International Symbol of Access, better known as the symbol on disabled parking or any place where people with a physical disabilty can access.   I found the essay challenging, but it was the ultimate writing reward when I was proud of my writing.  I live to write, and write to live...

Defining the ISA: Disabilities and All
            Disabled people are in different parts of the world, but the fact of the matter is that their existence makes it so that accommodations must be available to them internationally.  The International Symbol of Access or ISA, better known as the handicapped symbol, serves the purpose of accommodating people with disabilities wherever the symbol is shown.  It is important to analyze the ideology, Stuart Hall defines as, “those images, concepts and premises which provide the frameworks through which we represent, interpret, understand and ‘make sense’ of some aspect of social existence” (Hall 81).  The ISA is associated within the United States government and media, in the way it symbolizes disabilities.  The importance is based on the ISA being an iconic symbol and the disabled people being represented by said symbol.  There are more than just physical disabilities to be represented by that symbol, and only that symbol.  The debates around this symbol are to make modifications to it or keep it the same, but it needs to be revised in terms of the associations to it, because that is the problem not the actual image.  This change will make the ISA stand for its initial purpose and distinguish disabilities individually.
            The ISA was designed by Susan Koefoed in 1968, upon the request of the Rehabilitation International’s International Commission on Technology and Accessibility (ICTA).  This came to be because there was an ongoing need for a symbol to “designate accessible facilities” and “different access symbols were already in use in France, Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States”.  The story then went that Karl Montan, first Director of the Swedish Handicap Institute and Chair of the RI International Commission for Technical Aids (ICTA) was asked if the organization could make a design in time to present to the Eleventh World Congress in Dublin in 1969.  Requirements for the symbol were that it “must be readily identifiable from a reasonable distance; must be self-descriptive, must be simple yet esthetically designed with no secondary meaning, and must be practical,” to these requirements Susan Koefoed, a Danish graphic design student, responded and submitted her design, a simple motif of a stick figure using a wheelchair that indicated accessibility.  The winner was Koefoed’s design as it was unanimously chosen and then the World Congress formally adopted the symbol in 1969.  The ICTA copyrighted the symbol and knowledge of Susan Koefoed’s whereabouts are unknown after this time; she disappeared as the sign became an icon.  Distribution of the sign then followed and was successful with the help of 3M, a corporation that sells self-adhesives.  Then “there was some debate over whether to patent the design,” however it was decided that option would be too complex.  So, “a resolution magnanimously was put forward recommending that it be made a gift to mankind” (Symbol of Access).  The process of making the symbol official was very time consuming, but the amount of effort put into caused it to become widespread and iconic.
The ISA, as an acronym seems really important and when people see it that is the case as well.  The symbol is made to appear as a person in a wheelchair, but it does so beyond simplicity.  The shape outlining the symbol is a rectangle and inside is the figurine.  The figure is sitting at about eighty-five degrees with it’s knees half-bent and it’s feet on foot rests.  It is in between a stick figure and a sort of block-looking body.  It’s arms are straight forward and it is facing to the right.  The head is represented by an oval, but there is no facial expression or features, it is blank.  The only representation of a wheelchair is a half circle under the figure’s waist and calves.  The figure has absolutely no curves or sign of fat, or hair, or accessories.  There is no personality for the figure, it’s gender is unknown, and the disability is unknown, just that they are wheelchair bound.  The wheelchair is only a basic wheelchair representation, no handle bars or a motor for electric wheelchairs.  The color of the figure and wheelchair is usually white, while the rest of the rectangle is a generic blue color, unless the symbol is engraved somehow, then these colors do not apply (Koefoed).  The size of the symbol depends on where it is located.  There is no identity to this symbol, besides a person in a wheelchair, but somehow plain and simple works in most cases, as long the size of the sign is visible enough.  The iconic symbol is intended for the use of disabled people accessibility, but it has come to be seen as an ideology for any disability.
The ISA started as a symbol that would show areas of accessibility, but as time went on more people with disabilities were born, and people started associating the word ‘disabled/disability’ with the ISA.  A dictionary definition of disability is, “inability to pursue an occupation because of a physical or mental impairment” (Merriam-Webster Online), which shows that the ISA does not fit the definition perfectly, because wheelchair bound people, are not always mentally disabled as well, in fact there are people that are only affected in the spine, not the brain.  As Liat Ben-Moshe and Justin J.W. Powell say the ISA has “become arguably the most widely recognized representation of disability” (Ben-Moshe and Powell 489).  Hall explains that “ideologies do not consist of isolated and separate concepts” which is why since disabled people’s rights started to be advocated and heard by the government, the ISA and it’s associations has spread into everyday life.  The ISA serves it’s purpose but, “recognition, awareness, boundary drawing and even identity formation also result from usage of the ISA, intended or not,” the impact of all these factors are difficult to measure, but their importance cannot be denied (Ben-Moshe and Powell 493).  It is almost like the disabled person looses all personality; they become the ISA and are viewed that way.  The ISA represents disability and designates spaces where it can exist, but it also defines the boundaries of physical otherness, (Ben-Moshe and Powell 494) which shows the limits disabled people are confined to.  The ISA has become not just as a symbol of access, but of the meaning of disability itself, (Ben-Moshe and Powell 495) which makes the symbol unfair to viewers and users because they do not get the individual’s identity.  There is also the issue of keeping the symbol politically correct, so that there are no lawsuits against the government and no people offended, “debate and dialogue about access symbols reflects, and should refer to, the politics of disability representation, especially given the lack of democratically organized decision-making about such a key symbol of and for disabled people” (Ben-Moshe and Powell 496).  The ISA represents access for disabled people, as it’s name suggests, not just wheelchair users, (Ben-Moshe and Powell 497) but some disabilities do not identify at all with the symbol, and invisible disabilities like dyslexia do not really have a need to park in disabled parking, when they can walk.  There is the disability that is only for a certain amount of time, like a broken leg, then there is old age, blindness, deaf, mute, and mental disabilities.  Even when there are people that are in a wheelchair, like the ISA, there are still various physical body diseases that cause being wheelchair bound.  The mistakes of the symbol include, the circle on the stick figure representing a head can lead viewers to interpreting the ISA with personification. The symbol also produces ambiguity over the terms of ‘disability’ or ‘person’.  “Although the figure in the symbol refers to a human being, the contour represents mostly the wheelchair, which reinforces a common cultural misconception that people with mobility impairments are ‘confined’ or ‘bound’ to their wheelchairs” (Ben-Moshe 498).  The confinement of the wheelchair is inaccurate because although people may be wheelchair bound, eventually they get out of their chair for necessary reasons.  Nonetheless, the ISA created the ongoing disability movement that caused a ripple effect to better the lives of disabled people.
A major component that came after the ISA is the American Disabilities Act (ADA), signed into effect July 26, 1990 by President George Bush.  The ADA is applied to many locations in the United States, buildings must be accessible and there cannot be any discrimination due to one’s disability.  “The ADA applies to qualified individuals with disabilities who (1) have physical or mental impairments that substantially limit one or more major life activities; (2) have a record of such impairments; or (3) are regarded as having such impairments. In addition, the ADA protects persons from discrimination based on an association or relationship with an individual with a disability,” (Asenjo 113) and more than anything the ADA is evident in the work environment, meaning they can have certain accommodations in the workforce.  The ADA is an act to be taken seriously, since it is enforced under the same procedures applicable to race, color, sex, national origin, and religious discrimination under title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Civil Rights Act of 1991 (Asenjo 114) which means if it is not followed there could be incriminating charges.  The ADA, unlike the ISA has modifications made from time to time, to satisfy the ongoing needs of disabled persons.
Another aspect the ISA falls under is the United States Department of Transportation, with the symbol on license plates and temporary disabled placards.  As of April 10, 1991 the cars rules have been implemented, the Informed System for Handicapped Parking requires all state license plates issued to people with a disability to include a three-inch-square image of the ISA for people with long-term disabilities (Travel Advisory; Parking Rules For the Disabled).  For short-term or temporary disabilities, there must be placards available of the same size and color, to be hung from a car's rear-view mirror, which clearly display the symbol. Disabled drivers have the right to more than one copy of the placard so it can also be displayed in multiple car owners (Travel Advisory; Parking Rules For the Disabled).  The matter of parking in an accessible spot is serious to the last detail, because those with temporary disabilities, such as a broken leg, a placard will be available, with a doctor's authorization, granting disability parking status for up to six months. The temporary placards will be red, while the placards for permanent disability are blue and they will list the issuing state and the date of expiration (Travel Advisory; Parking Rules For the Disabled).  There is also the accommodation of cars with ramps for wheelchairs, and rentals, along with the parking placard.
When we put things into perspective the United States is quite advanced in the disability movement, compared to other countries, even though the disabled symbol is international.  For example, in Canada the intent to move forward into a disability movement seems impossible because there are so many reactions towards advocating for the disabled that the community at large cannot come to an agreement.  The different reactions to a federal disability law can create challenges for the disability movement in building a consensus, to bring various groups together that communicate a clear message to government representative, and in how to raise public awareness of disability issues, (Prince 201) which makes Canada’s improvement seem as if it were not tangible.  The United States is even a role model for Canada, and serves as a guide as to how the ADA came to be from the ISA, the Canadian audience, given their system of federalism, is interested in how the legislation relates to intergovernmental relations, basically how the law is incorporated into the disability movement (Prince 203).  However, it seems people in the United States are not happy with their current situation, “A majority of respondents (60 percent) rated accessibility better for Title IV (telecommunications), while just under half (48 percent) rated accessibility for Title II (public sector) better, and only one-third of respondents (32 percent) rated access for Title III (private sector) better since the passage of the ADA,” (Prince 204) even when Canada has less accommodations for the disabled.  Every country has different disability accommodations, but the ISA is in all of them.
A place where we see the ISA almost everywhere is in the United States.  Since it is a requirement in any public buildings the symbol can be seen several times a day, if one is out and about.  So, the initial place one sees the ISA is the parking lot, it is used to show there is an easier and closer entrance to said building.  The symbol is of the blue and white colors, usually on a pole or mounted on the wall.  Once one is approaching the building there should be an ISA, probably just the figure, no color.  Next to the ISA or on it should be a mechanical button, that when pushed will open the door.  The other place that has the ISA is the outside of a public bathroom, either on the door or the wall next to the door.  There may or may not be a button that will open the bathroom, but the ISA indicates that there is a larger stall for the disabled, and a sink that has easier access, either by being lower or not having a pipe under it.  Another example would be larger dressing rooms in clothing stores.  These examples show that there is consideration of the disabled, but also that wherever the ISA is not located the disabled people cannot access it.  All of these examples are for the physically disabled because they need the accessibility to go to public places, but there are people out there that are not even disabled in any way possible and still use some of these services.  The idea that something is made for a particular group of people and can just be abused by others is confusing to why disabled people are labeled sometimes by those that use the ISA illegally.
The problem with the ISA being the ideology of people with disabilities is that the idea forgets to mention that everyone associated with the ISA is not wheelchair bound.  In television shows there is sometimes the character that has a disability, mainly being wheelchair bound or blind.  Hall explains the way media has a huge influence on an ideology, “The media are not only a powerful source of ideas about race.  They are also one place where these ideas are articulated, worked on, transformed and elaborated,” (Hall 82).  People with disabilities are often produced in a matter that evokes the audience with pity and fear.  Artie from the hit show, Glee, becomes a paraplegic after a drunk driver crashed with his vehicle.  This shows the instance of how someone can be perfectly fine one moment and the next be bound to a wheelchair for life (Fox Television Shows).  The viewer is now aware it can happen to them, or the opposite situation, if one drinks and drives the possibility of ruining someone’s mobility is a consequence, not to mention the lawsuit.  Another example is the show Degrassi, where a character named Jimmy is shot after a prank makes a classmate very mad and said classmate shoots Jimmy (  This example instills fear in the consequences of playing pranks, but both of these examples are a cause and effect.  There are people born with a physical disability as well, but those are rarely if at all mentioned in shows.  Maybe it is so because the idea of conceiving a baby and it being born with a disability invokes fear in conceiving overall, and that would probably not bring higher ratings.  The importance is based on the truth of all disabilities, and the ISA simply standing for itself, not the words ‘disabled’ or ‘disability’.  The spread of this ideology in television should serve as a means to adapt to the growing disability community and create a larger understanding of the disabilities and people associated with the ISA. 

Adios readers,
Yomara :)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Ali :) This one's for you and me!

Ali, this one's for you :D

I met you about three years ago, right after I got swine flu (I'm still alive woot woot!) and I had to catch up on a month of A.P. and honors homework, oh and that senior project (death).  You had been working for about four months when I go and break my first bone ever (thigh), so I was bed bound for about the rest of the school year.  You will never know how much it meant to me that you were there cheering me up when I felt gross, sick, sad, depressed, and lame because I had to drop my nerdy courseload.  I have never felt so disabled and alone, but it didn't matter because you got me through all those hurdles.  My thigh got infected exactly on the day of my eighteenth birthday and I had to spend the day in the hospital, but you were there making it a day to celebrate (I had a reaction to the splint, I know just my luck) because it got better within twenty-four hours.  I had to apply to my dream University and about thirty scholarships, and you helped me with all that.  You were there when I only got one scholarship, but my dream University offered me a full ride.  You made Prom the most memorable day of my teenage years with a hott date and you made me feel beautiful with your make-up/beauty skills!  You made me feel like I mattered, like I hadn't vanished from the face of the earth just because I was homeschooled for the last four months of high school.  You defended me in front of my doctors, you became the sister I have ALWAYS wanted!  We had awesome dance parties and you put up with all my baggage (high maintenance and caregiving needs).  You left me for about a year and three months (to sing to God on tour), but you would visit me on your breaks and you kept me in the loop at all times.  Oh I forgot to mention, because my love life is non-exsistent and I only have two to four very close friends, I live vicariously through Ali most of the time.  I dedicate myself to homework and my health most of the time. 

Ali came back to work for me February 2012.  While she was gone I went through six caregivers, some lasted a week, some lasted three months.  It is incredibly hard for someone to take care of someone else, and to do it well, is pretty amazing.  So Ali has been my caregiver exception.  We go to school, the hospital, the mall, mexican parties, and camp.  Like I said in my previous post I only went to camp because I was sure of the person I was going with, I do not like the unknown.  This may come off as a bit braggy, but I could tell the people at camp looked up to Ali and I's relationship, they wanted the bond, the friendship, the security of our awesomeness.  I appreciate you Ali, so much that words do not do it justice (and my words are pretty legendary hahaha)!  I love our inside jokes, our equal boy crazy high, the fact that you can read my face/eyes/mind all the time, the dance/singing break outs we have, the people I have met through you, the Jesus love we have, the amount of money you spend on me, answering all my questions, the act of actually knowing who I am (besides the wheelchair).  I LOVE YOU MEXI-WHITE SISTER! :D <3

Fall 2009

Summer 2012

Adios readers,
Yomara :)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Missing me...Camp Promise

I know, I know I have been missing for a week and a half, but if it makes anyone feel better I just had the best week of my life.  So I am about to write the longest post I have ever written, be prepared...

So I went to camp, my first ever woodsy camp, stayed in an actual cabin, bugs, insects, FUN and all that craziness.  I was exceedingly hesitant to go to camp in the first place because I'm not used to sharing a room and sharing my caregiver, in all I'm just not used to living with anyone but my parents.  Everyone at CP has a physical disability and there is a counselor for everyone, so I knew I wasn't alone in the sea of fear.  There was a six hour orientation for every counselor and that made me feel better (although I took my caregiver of three years to be my counselor, so I was sure I was in good hands).  I will devote a post later on to my mexi-white sister (counselor, PCA, caregiver, sister, friend) Ali, so stay tuned!  So I was actually supposed to arrive on Monday, but I ended up going on Sunday with Ali (counselor orientation).  I went with Ali mostly out of convenience (2 hour drive to camp), but I also wanted to see all the counselors before anyone else, what can I say I LOVE being informed ;)

I thought all the counselors were pretty cool, laid back, and hilarious at first impression.  Some took their volunteer week there more seriously, while others were more chill, but it was an amazing balance.  There was only one counselor I knew wouldn't hack it (remember I'm totally psychic), and I was right, she left by day four.  I had about four to five other predictions and they turned out right, all except for one.  Now I have about six predictions for next year, but that is a long time away :(

I was SO scared and hesitant to actually go, but I am SO glad I did!  The first two days I kind of wanted to drive off one of the beautiful hills, maybe the dock, because I was so sleep deprived.  Thankfully I figured out how exhaustion works: when you are a light sleeper then you don't sleep and then you get grumpy and tired, but after two nights of this you crash and can even sleep with a bunch of noise and the lights on.  Can I get a woot woot?!  SUCCESS!!!

From there it was pure friendships, bonding, happy and fun times, smiling, laughing, secrets, giggling, gossip, basically the best!  My cabin girls became my best buddies: Kyann, Niki, Allison, Amber, Loan, Danielle, Erika, Allegra, Angie, Cheri, Deanie, Hayley, Steph, Gaby and of course my Ali!  The great thing was that we were only one of the five cabins, so there was also Sean, Jake, Morgan, Ben, Elliott, Travis, Nick, Alex, Michael, Derek, Tim, Kelly, Terin, Libby, Daniel (both), John, Omar, Sarah, Shannon, Beth, Matt, Sami, Jonah, Noah, April, Mark, and everyone else that was there!!!!! :D <3

All the activities were incredibly fun to watch or when I felt brave (not often) to participate in!  I was at my ultimate admiration high, because I have so much admiration for the counselors that take care of the campers and make having fun a possibility for us all!  The devotion and sacrifice when they are exhausted and they find energy to keep us all smiling, I am so greatful!!!  My fellow campers you also inspire me keep fighting for another day, we are all alive right now, let us enjoy it!  Carpe diem!!! :)

Lastly I want to thank the boys that came from Great Britain and Conneticut: Lewis, Elliott, Ben, and Michael!  You boys made the camp so much fun, I appreciate all of you!  Camp Promise <3
To donate or check out this AMAZING camp:

Niki (she told me about the camp!)

Michael (Conneticut)
The boys with the English accent :) (Left to Right: Ben, Lewis, Elliott)
Camp Promise Summer 2012 :D <3

Adios readers,
Yomara :)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A little or a lot about me...

The following is information for you to feel like you actually know me! You're welcome! :)

Color: Pink
Animals: dolphin, koala, starfish.
Food: Mexican
Drink: Sprite or Sierra Mist
Flavor: chocolate, strawberry, lime
Shoe Size: 1.5, I know small feet
Clothes: Small/medium or XL in kids
Celebrity: Ian Somerhalder
Lung Capacity: 15%
Weight: 72 lbs
Height (if I were to stand): 5ft

Only child
1st generation in college
Allergic to pepper
Nasal allergies
LOVE shopping
Afraid of living without my parents
Afraid of snakes
LOVE television shows (addicted is more like it)
I broke my thigh once...
I have two rods in my back (scoliosis or wolverine is my real dad)
I like to paint wooden boxes, frames, etc.
I love to have epic dance parties!
I love to live! :)

Adios readers,
Yomara :)

Never satisfied

As humans I feel as if we are never truly satisfied, meaning we feel like happiness is obtained only for short periods of time. When you are unhealthy you tend to appreciate life more, but also whine about the stuff you do not have. I think it's okay to whine, I mean with someone who is willing to listen, that way you do not annoy them. I listen to a lot of people, and it's not because I have a lot of friends, because I don't, but because people can honestly tell me anything. I always listen, but rarely give advice because well it scares me to tell someone to do something and then have it turn out to be a bad situation. I also talk, only to a few people, mostly my mom and two or three friends.

There's always another problem, we are never fully satisfied. Someone can ask you how you are doing, and sure you say "Good" or "Fine" but you almost never mean it. There is always something in your life that could be fixed/altered/bettered and isn't that just terrifying?

I'm scared of how much I'm constantly trying to change and better my health, my education, my life. I know it's good to strive towards life goals, but sometimes it feels like there is no finish line. I'm happy where I am at, but I am constantly pushing and it scares me beyond belief that I push and may not even get to live my dreams.

I have sacrificed homework for fun, and sometimes health for homework. What if my dream of being a successful writer with my books being turned into shows or movies never comes true? What if my prayers of walking are never answered? What if everything I've sacrificed and been denied is never rewarded?

I don't know if everything I've lived through will be worth it later in my life. The only thing I do know is that when I die (after a Pulitzer) God will be waiting for me, and that is worth it. I'm satisfied in knowing I have been blessed to live until today, that and my parents is all I need.

Adios readers,
Yomara :)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Food :)

I mentioned in my last post that I turn to food in any scenario when I disappoint myself, but honestly I turn to food all the time. Since I am Mexican I enjoy my culture's food, but ironically I don't do well with spicy food. I love beef and I do feel bad when I eat it (moral wise) because I know cows and most animals are abused, but my body craves it so much and my weak bones need it.

I love tamales, tacos, tortillas, and much more. I really enjoy fries from the USA food, and I don't like burgers, I know ironic. I love pizza with pepperoni and Parmesan! I love nachos. I would marry chocolate!!!

In the healthy food group: soy milk, lettuce, rice, bananas, apples, peaches, nectarines, oranges, corn, potatoes, chicken and beef!

I drink Boost Plus chocolate flavored to keep my weight up because it has all the essentials without having to eat veggies. It is a taste you have to get used to, but it keeps me alive. Some people with my condition have a feeding tube because their weight is too low, but I just chug the Boost.

I love gyoza from teriyaki places, but I stick to my culture for the most part because my mom's cooking is amazing!!! I am so blessed!

I love ice cream (chocolate) and cake of any sort, carbs are my friend! :)

Adios readers,
Yomara :)

Disappointment :(

So I said I would write on here every Wednesday and Sunday, but I have not done so. I am honestly disappointed in myself more than anything, but it is not fair to my writing or to whoever is reading this that I did not come through. That is why I will post twice today and twice tomorrow to get back on my promised count. To add to this post, I will be talking about disappointment...

We have all been victims of disappointment (although sometimes it is not good to play the victim). Sometimes people disappoint you, you disappoint people, or you disappoint yourself. Emotions are hard to deal with but disappointment is definitely one of the harder ones for me. I want to do so much and when I don't reach my own expectations I feel a sense of failure. I put a lot of pressure on myself academically and physically to just stay alive and keep going, because giving up on myself is never an option.

To cope with disappointment I eat (good thing I'm always trying to gain weight) chocolate. I make goals for myself and strive to be a better person every day! As cliche as it sounds, every time you fall get back up!

Adios readers,
Yomara :)

Thursday, August 2, 2012


Sometimes we are human, sometimes we are selfish. I admit I have done it before, I even did it yesterday, when I didn't post because I was selfishly watching Captain America. Now that is a smaller act of selfishness, but even so I have made some selfish acts that I am ashamed of.

I know I shouldn't blame those acts on on my sometimes depressing emotional state of being disabled, but really what else is there to blame, ok I know myself! Sometimes I am selfish with my parents, meaning I am high maintenance and ask them to do many things for me. This is probably the one act I am most ashamed of because honestly I feel like sometimes I am a burden/nuisance and I kind of cling to my parents so they won't forget I need them, all the time.

I know horrible of me to do so, and I'm working on it. Honestly the thing that makes me super happy is to see acts of unselfishness, those people are my inspiration to be a less selfish person. There is always someone out there who has it worse, so pick yourself up and help yourself and those less fortunate. I know people give me the pity look, but I am blessed and hope you are too :)

Adios readers,
Yomara :)