Allan Brizaela is a high school student in Houston, Texas participating in IEL’s Ready to Achieve Mentoring Program (RAMP) through Easter Seals Greater Houston (ESGH). RAMP is a career-focused mentoring program for youth with disabilities. The following conversation is between Allan and ESGH mentoring coordinator Jacquie Miller.
INTERVIEWER: What does disability mean to you, Allan?
ALLAN: Disability means not being able to do certain things that other people can do.
INTERVIEWER: Can you explain your disability to other people?
ALLAN: It has something to do with my spine and because of that, my legs aren’t able to work so I am always in a wheelchair.
INTERVIEWER: What kinds of advances and technology have come along to help make your life easier?
ALLAN: Having RAMP as a class has taught me a lot. Having a good wheelchair has been important. Not everyone has a good wheelchair. When I go most places, they have ramps and elevators that help me be able to go more places.
INTERVIEWER: What would your life be like if you didn’t have these things?
ALLAN: It would be really hard to get around. It would basically be impossible. I would be stuck at home all the time.
INTERVIEWER: What do you want to do in the future after you graduate high school?
ALLAN: I want to either be a lawyer or a cop.
INTERVIEWER: What kinds of things will you need to make those jobs happen?
ALLAN: I would need a wheel chair accessible cop car. I don’t know if they make those. Colleges would have to accessible and make sure it has all the things I need to get an equal education.
INTERVIEWER: What do you wish people understood about you and your disability?
ALLAN: I want people to know how it happened. My spine didn’t grow so my legs can’t work. Also, I want people to make sure they don’t discriminate or hate other people with disabilities because they deserve to be treated the same.
INTERVIEWER: Is there anything else you want to share about your disability, or, do you have ideas for things that could make your life easier?
ALLAN: The ADA has made my life easier and it has made it easier for me to get around and now that some people want to be athletes, it is good that there are leagues for people so they can get a chance to play, too. I played baseball in a league for people with disabilities and it was so much fun. I loved it.
INTERVIEWER: What would you like to see changed that hasn’t happened yet?
ALLAN: Make more modifications for things. Not everywhere is accessible just yet. For example, we went on a trip to Dave and Buster’s and some games weren’t accessible. Luckily, I’m a happy guy even though I have this disability. I still had fun.