ramp your voice!

Two years ago yesterday (May 3rd), I graduated with my MSW (Master’s of Social Work) degree.  Grad school was a welcomed challenge, & it allowed me to blossom in ways I never did in undergrad.  I took full advantage of everything my program had to offer, & everything I did (from the research assistantship to being president of the MSW student group & being in the academic specialization program) provided me with the confidence, skills, & knowledge I needed for the work I’m doing now - disability rights & advocacy.

I posted this photo to say this:  Black, disabled women are EDUCATED, we do GRADUATE, & we WILL CONQUER the world.  To my rolling divas of all shades… get your education so that we can fight for our rights as women & as those who are disabled.  

I plan to apply for my last degree (law school, JD) around 2016.  This will allow me to build on my business (Ramp Your Voice!), & write the books about the disability experience.  So… I’m a busy woman on 4 wheels, & I love it.  No one expected the poor, disabled girl born with OI from a small town in SC to excel, but I’ve proven them wrong in my 28 years on this planet… & I will continue to do so. ~ Vilissa, proud HS Valedictorian (C/O 2004), licensed MSW, disabled womanist & advocate

rndmdoodlez  asked:

Hello! I just took a self defense course that my school offered. I'm not disabled, but I do have some health issues that made part of the course difficult and extremely tiring, leaving me bed ridden for the rest of the day. I was wondering if you knew of any self defense courses or tips for people with disabilities? Thank you!

Hi!  Thank you so much for reaching out with your question!

First off, I’m not very versed on self-defense & disability, but I was able to find a few things about it that may help you with your journey.  (I decided to share this ask publicly in case there are followers who have experience in this area, & can contribute more helpful information.  I hope that you don’t mind)   I do understand the physically tiring part - I took a Japanese style martial arts class in undergrad, and I must say that it was a lot to take in.  Though I loved the experience, I was worn out after each class, which were almost 2 hours long.  Also, being a wheelchair user, I had to “improvise” my moves so that I can do the basics sitting down; the class instructors were very helpful with the accommodating, which made a big difference. When I Googled “self defense for those with disabilities,” I came across the following:
  • Self-Protection for People with Disabilities (article):  Though the website is more kid-oriented, I felt that we could all benefit from the following information at the end of the article.  (Key techniques are in bold.)

    As a Last Resort, Know How to Defend Yourself Forcefully

    Practice with both your personal safety and disabilities taken into account so that you can quickly access your own personal strengths and resources.  Most attacks are stopped by just one strong move, but be prepared to keep fighting until you feel it is safe to leave and get help. Strong moves can be: yelling at bystanders for help, telling someone to STOP, hitting or kicking someone. Whatever you do, sound, look, and act as if you MEAN IT.

    Developing skills for personal safety and disabilities includes looking at ALL of your tools, including your body, your voice, and other tools you have, such as a wheelchair.  The basic strategy is to use the parts of your body you can move as well as your wheelchair or walking aid as weapons and the vulnerable parts of an attacker’s body as targets. If you keep yelling as you are fighting, you will have more power and other people will be more likely to notice. If you are attacked from the front you can yell NO! and pull away, strike to the eyes, heel palm hit to the face, knee strike to groin, kick or slap to the groin, slam your wheelchair into the shins or knees of the attacker. People who are practicing skills with their personal safety and disabilities in mind can discover power and choices they didn’t know they had until they practiced!

    When someone attacks from behind you can yell NO! and lower your center of gravity, stomp on or run over attackers foot with your wheelchair, slap to the groin, grab and squeeze testicles, elbow strike to the solar plexus, head or groin or slam your wheelchair into the attackers shins, groin or midsection. The same strategies usually work even if the attacker has a weapon, or you end up on the ground, or there are two or more attackers. You are more important than your property so we do NOT recommend that you fight over your stuff. Just hand it over and say, “Take it. It’s yours.” Our experts say that your risk of injury goes up if you fight to keep a robber from taking your possessions. However, statistically your risk of injury goes down if you fight to keep an attacker from hurting you or taking you away to a more private place.

    Leave if you can. Yell for help. Fight if you have to. If you cannot get away right away, keep looking for a new chance to get away. Instead of freezing, pretend to give up so that the attacker will relax and then leave or start resisting the instant you have an opening to do so.

I hope that this points you in the right direction you need.  It seems like doing a self-pace approach would work best for you, given that being in a class setting was physically tiring.  A self-paced program may work best for many other PwDs; personally, I would be interested in a self-pace program because I could learn what is most effective for me in the comforts of my own home.    If there are any followers who can provide more information about this ask, please do so. ~ Vilissa
Knocked my 1st professional presentation out of the ballpark!

Today was INCREDIBLE! I’m so thrilled that my presentation went so well! It felt amazing to speak about the work I’m doing, & the importance for social workers to get involved in disability advocacy. Those butterflies vanished when I began talking, & I’m very proud of what I accomplished with this opportunity.

I think that I’m ready for the next one, lol. I’m so blessed to have such amazing friends who love & support me as a person, & my vision. Being at this conference reinforced the need for this work, & I’m thrilled to know that my fellow social workers support me.

I celebrated this milestone moment with a sweet, delicious drink from the hotel bar, & I can enjoy the last day of the conference free as a dove. Lol. This experience was just what I needed, & I’m glad to have seize the moment. #HappyV

rampyourvoice  asked:

Hi! I absolutely love your blog! My name is Vilissa. I'm an African American woman with a disability, & I founded a disability rights consultation & advocacy organization called Ramp Your Voice! RYV!'s aim is to propel the voices of people of color, particularly women, with disabilities because we're underrepresented & ignored within the disability community & the mainstream. I'm reaching out to see if you knew of any books & articles about being of color, female, & disabled.

Hi, thanks so much for the blog love!

As far as books go, honestly, I think a lot of Black women’s fiction speak of disabilities that are ignored for us: mental health/neuroatypical status. We view them as “struggles” and “oppressions” which they are, but I feel like we don’t interrogate them and how the ableism involved in the Strong Black Woman stereotype harms us beyond even racism, sexism, misogynoir, anti-Blackness, classism, colourism and White supremacy etc. I alluded to this very thing in a recent essay: On Blackness and Perceptions of Able-Bodied Privilege where I described how ableism against me is ignored because of stereotypes involved in being a Black woman.

Some fiction examples: The Salt Eaters by Toni Cade Bambara. That’s depression and suicide ideation. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. That’s depression and anxiety; severely. The Darkest Child by Delores Phillips. Depression, anxiety, hallucinations caused by sexual abuse. Home by Toni Morrison. Depression, anxiety, PTSD. 

Check this out: 100 Books by Black Women Everyone Must Read on For Harriet.

As far as visible/physical disabilities, I can’t think of any books off of the top of my head as far as fiction goes as I read way more non-fiction than fiction. As far as non-fiction/news type content, I follow disabilityhistory on Tumblr which launches into a variety of topics and have read good content on the National Black Disability Coalition website.

Other good articles that I’ve read:

Hopefully this helps and perhaps people who see this and have something to add can reblog to provide you with more. 

Take care. ❤

Disabled Diva’s 30th Birthday Etsy Gift Wish List! - SIGNAL BOOST

Here it is… my 30th birthday gift wish list!  :)


I decided to keep it simple, & ask for things that I’ve found while online window shopping on Etsy.  Since I’m a small business owner, I want to help other small business owners, too, & I felt that Etsy was the best place to make that happen.  

I decided to share this list early (like 47 days & counting early) because I plan to work on a few projects this month, & didn’t want time to pass me by, & not give you all enough time to see what’s on the list, & consider buying things from it.  

What’s On My Birthday Gift Wish List?

Everything on the list is under $25.  All of the merch are items I want, but do not have the funds to get myself due to being on a fixed income.  

I have a wide variety of interests, from leopard-printed any & everything, to mermaids, jewelry, art, shirts, planner decorating, & so forth.  This wish list gives you insight into my plethora of loves & slight addictions.  :)  

Why This Wish List is Registered as a “Wedding” One?:

Etsy only has one type of registry on its site that allows you to leave notes for your guests/buyers, & that’s its wedding registry option.  

I needed the notes section of this registry so that I can indicate colors, sizes, etc., for items that requested that information.  

Those options are highlighted in the yellowish-colored boxes on the page.  Click the highlighted yellow areas to see the details provided.  (This information also appears when you check out to buy the item(s) requested.)

How to Place Your Order:

You will have to create an Etsy account to place an order to buy the Item(s).

Etsy has a very simple, easy order placing format, especially since the items are already selected for you to choose from.  

** Do remember to read any notes provided in case the items have color, size, etc., options to choose from.  

Where to Ship:

On the registry, I have the Ramp Your Voice! PO Box listed.

The address is:  PO Box 1286, Winnsboro, SC 29180

*** With the PO Box, do let me know that something will be arriving there.  Our post office here is not wheelchair accessible (no lie, though there’s handicapped parking… o_O, that’s a rant for another day…).  I will have to get someone to go up there for me.  I don’t want the PO Box to get full by not knowing something’s there, so just drop me a message.  :)  

If you know me in real life (either we’ve chatted on here and/or we’re friends on Facebook), you need to ask me for my home address.  Just send me a message, & I’ll give it to you.  I don’t mind sharing my personal address if I know you, & it’ll cut down on how much is sent to the PO Box.  

One More Thing to Pay Attention To:

Some of the items listed come from the same shop (some of the jewelry & planning items, especially).  

For those of you who want to get the most bang out of your buck, regarding shipping costs, check to see if there are items from the same shop as the one(s) you would like to buy for me.  

Last But Not Least:

Thank you for the feedback about creating this gift wish list.  I’m not the best at asking for things, so I really hope this goes well.  

Please view the list, & see what may work for you in fulfilling my gift wishes.  

And do SIGNAL BOOST this!  

Soon to be 30, but forever fabulous,
Vy, proud #WOCwD  



30th Birthday wish list:  


Check it out, & see what gift wish(es) you can fulfill on Etsy.  

Either ship to the PO Box address provided on the gift registry page, or message me for my home address if we know each other in real life.  

Thank you for making my birthday awesome!  :)  #VirgoDiva