SCI Superstar: Stuart Turner

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By: Tiffiny | February 19th, 2015 @ 9:38 pm | SCI Superstars |


stuart

A roboticist with a focus on drones, one of the best accessibility consultants on the planet and a well-known speaker who’s shared his thoughts with the likes of TEDx and WIRED, Stuart Turner is without a doubt one of the most tech-savvy quadriplegics in the world.

Also the founder of RobotandCake.com, a site dedicated to illuminating the importance (and possibilities!) of integrating robotics into assistive technology, Stuart is one impressive Brit. His main drive is to open up the world to people with spinal cord injuries.

A man with an eye to the future in a profound way, this is the amazing Stuart Turner.

Why he’s fearless

Six years ago is when Stuart’s entire life began to change. Formally able-bodied and an undergraduate studying computer science, Stuart began to suddenly notice lessened sensation throughout his body, and it was soon followed with a loss of movement.

After a series of tests, Stuart was finally diagnosed. He had spinal bifida. a strange but not totally uncommon diagnosis to receive later in life. But he was also diagnosed with a tethered spinal cord syndrome and Chiari malformation, which is when some brain tissue extends into the spinal canal. Within months he progressively worsened, until he plateaued.

Stuart can now only move his right index finger, but nothing more below his neck. He has the abilities of a C2 quadriplegic incomplete and must use voice technology for all of his computing. This has made him an expert in the field of accessible technology.

For many years after his injury Stuart was housebound (his wheelchair couldn’t get into his bedroom), which was how he came upon a video showing the possibilities of drone technology for people with disabilities. Originally created for war, Stuart sees drones as a way for people with spinal cord injuries to escape the confines of their homes, wheelchairs or beds, allowing them to see the entire world.

Excited about the possibility of robots, he founded RobotsandCake.com. This site wants to see more robots and other consumer technologies expand their reach to those with profound disabilities. Drones that can be re-scripted are some of Stuart’s most favorite technology in the world.

He has hacked into several personal drones that can be purchased for personal use, making them work for his disability. He has been able to travel the world from the comfort of his own bed and see beautiful sights in places like Australia and Asia.  Drone technology is definitely expanding our world in an amazing way.

He is also now working with Brown University, designing what they call a “Quadcopter,” which will be a fully accessible drone not requiring any tinkering. He has been able to fly down the halls of Brown from 3,000 miles away whilst doing the research and is loving every minute of it.

What’s next?

Stuart’s knowledge on the possibilities of personal drones, especially on how they can improve the lives of people with disabilities, has also attracted big names in the science field asking him to speak. Last year he spoke at WIRED2014 UK talking about drones and demo-ing a drone in the auditorium all from the comfort of his own home. He also spoke in 2015 for TEDx Youth, discussing the possibilities of the universe.

A gifted speaker you can’t take your eyes from, Stuart has this amazing ability to connect with his audience. He dreams big, and he envisions a world where people disabilities can be as mobile as anyone else or even more so (drones can do some pretty sweet moves in the sky).

And at only 36 years old, Stuart still has plenty of time to change the world in the way he would love to see it. We are on board with you, Stuart. We love what you’re dreaming and we support you 100%.

Would you want to explore the world using a drone?

- Visit his robot + disability site: RobotsandCake.org

- Visit his personal site: Stuart.ch

Watch the videos!

- Quadriplegic Stuart Turner speaks at WIRED2014 via drones and robots

- How Big is the Universe | Stuart Turner | TEDxYouth@Hillsborough

SCI Superstar: Bethany Hoppe

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By: Tiffiny | February 10th, 2015 @ 9:12 pm | SCI Superstars |


bethhoppe

Bethany Hoppe of Nashville, aka the “Rolling Diva,” wears so many hats she could open her own hat shop. A dancer, voice-over artist, college instructor, author, advocate, wheelchair athlete, public speaker, wife and mother, in spite of her disability Bethany has been unstoppable in the game called life.

Her journey however into becoming the fierce woman she is today began in an unassuming place – a simple dairy farm. Once old enough, Bethany left home, setting forth on a path that even most able-bodied people wouldn’t be able to keep up with.

One of the most vocal advocates out there for women with disabilities, and an artist at the very core of who she is, this is the amazing Bethany Hoppe.

Why she’s fearless

Since the very moment she was born with spinal bifida, learning how to be fearless was instilled in Bethany. Active in high school in both music and sports, she never let her wheelchair prevent her from fully participating in life. Wheelchair basketball, weightlifting, wheelchair dance – she did it all.

Bethany knew however she would need a solid education if she ever wanted to be independent. She went on to study communications at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania where she received her master’s in communication studies. And a few years after graduating, she was hired by Middle Tennessee State University to be an instructor of public speaking and voice and diction. Bethany has been teaching students at this prestigious college for the last 14 years.

Teaching however isn’t the only thing she does at the Middle Tennessee State University. Also passionate about wheelchair dance since being introduced to the sport in college, Bethany was part of an integrated dance piece in 2013 called “Uncommon Rituals” that included another SPINALpedia SCI Superstar, wheelchair actress and new mommy, Teal Sherer. Check it out

Teaching college students is just one slice of who Bethany is. Since its inception, she’s also been involved with mobileWOMEN, a fabulous nonprofit dedicated to helping women with disabilities. Writing about self-esteem, body image and making videos about everything she loves (from accessible gardening to baking), Bethany has become an endearing and wholly dedicated women’s advocate.

What’s next?

Her blogging (Raspberry Vogue; a blog following her adventures) and her writing have also garnered her a little slice of the fame cake. And in early 2013, she had her first book published, Molly B. Golly’s Wonderful Dancing Debut, a sweet story that follows a 9 year old girl in a wheelchair who loves to dance.

What we love about Bethany is that no matter what she does, it’s all comes back to promoting the rights of women with disabilities and her book, among everything else she’s done, is one step towards that. She even gave a TEDx speech in 2014 on this topic titled, “Promoting the status of women with disabilities.” It’s a 20 minute speech that goes by in seconds. Watch her speak

And when she’s not busy saving the world, Bethany and her longtime husband, Tyson, are busy parenting their two children – a 17 year old and a 2 year old, both of whom are adopted. The latest addition to Bethany’s family and they have been loving their new boy-parenting adventures in a big way.

A home life full of joy, a life full of purpose and a career she rocks at, Bethany proves to the world that women with disabilities not only deserve complete happiness in life, they can achieve it. And we love her for it.

- Visit her site: Bethany-Hoppe.com

Has your disability influenced your career too?

Watch the videos!

- Promoting the status of women with disabilities: Bethany Hoppe at TEDxNashville

- Mobile Women Channel: Accessible Box Gardening with Bethany

- Bethany demoing an accessible Chevy truck