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Inner Strength insights from the world of sports, disability, entertainment, business, politics and everything else I’d like to share with you.

Monthly Archives: July 2015

Baseball’s “ADA Fan Cam” Offers Huge At-Bat for Disability Pop Culture


By Greg Smith

Baseball TV Broadcasters to Acknowledge Fans with Disabilities on OUR day, the 25th Anniversary of the ADA!

“ADA Fan Cam” is a grassroots initiative to create awareness about the Americans with Disabilities Act’s 25th Anniversary. The goal: a mention of ADA during all Major League Baseball telecasts, with cameras including fans with disabilities and announcers acknowledging the day.

It is gaining momentum. The Arizona Diamondbacks are definitely participating, and hopefully, after one key phone call to Park Avenue, scheduled Monday, many more teams will follow along. I’m more excited about this than most of the work I’ve ever done, but you may wonder: Why is this important in the full scheme of things?

The answer goes beyond baseball and back to the early 1950s. My parents have shared with me their reflection on a day when televisions were “black & white,” but that phrase didn’t represent the people “inside” the box. When the first black people came on television, it was a big deal!

“Ma! Dad! Come see! There’s black people on TV!”

Families rushed to gather around the tiny, blurry picture in festive mode. It was a great thrill for them to see people who looked like them represented for the nation to see. Television became a major catalyst that paved the way to the explosion of African American culture’s current status as a vital part of pop culture.

Today, people with disabilities have little impact on pop culture. We have talented musicians, actors, artists, athletes, writers, dancers, but how many pop stars with disabilities can you name? How many who were not already stars before they acquired their disabilities? Others ascended to a “semi-star” status after public compassion over the “tragedy” of becoming disabled heralded them into the spotlight, but never to the level of “full stardom.”

In order for people with disabilities to develop the social confidence to reach our full potential and put our spin on pop culture, we need to be seen on television. That’s a prerequisite first step.

What does this have to do with baseball?

The “ADA Fan Cam” has the potential to serve as a sign that America is maturing socially. I have been watching baseball on TV my whole life and I have NEVER seen one television shot of a fan with a discernible disability. In the thousands of hours of camera shots of fans at ballgames I’ve watched, I haven’t seen one.

I’m sure most directors never thought about it. And I’m also sure that raising public awareness about social issues is not their job. Covering the game is. This is not a criticism of baseball or baseball broadcasters. This is the presentation of an opportunity to make a historical difference, respectfully submitted by equals whose opinion and input deserve to be heard, respected and considered.

This week, we celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the ADA and the civil rights that law has given us. And yes, we should party hard. But we need to realize there is no building code in the language that forces the removal of attitudinal barriers, stigmas, devaluing prejudices and antiquated beliefs about people who happen to have disabilities.

Are we not shown on TV because we’re too repulsive? Ugly? Deformed? Misshapen? Depressing to non-disabled viewers? Would we make people grab their remotes and turn the station? Before remotes, I’m sure some people got up from their “Lazy Boys” to turn when a black face came on television. But we’ve moved on.

The “ADA Fan Cam” concept would not fit any other sport or any other televised public gathering. But it fits baseball like a catcher’s mitt. Baseball is “America’s Favorite Pastime.” It is a four-hour gathering of the common man, where everyone is in their summer clothes, eating hot dogs, cotton candy, peanuts and Cracker Jacks while rooting for the home team. The pace of the game is slow enough for television to do a masterful job of capturing the universal experience of being there. In each broadcast, leading into innings and during stoppages in play, dozens of fans are shown in seemingly random cutaways and close ups. But never us.

If television can accept and honor Caitlyn Jenner, proudly display a rainbow colored White House (reported by openly gay news anchors and reporters) and gather at the steps of a state capitol, focusing the eyes of the world on the lowering of a flag of injustice, surely it can listen to the voices of it’s largest minority group for one day. Surely it can show us in our Sunday best as we celebrate OUR day.

The community of people with disabilities is extremely happy about the accomplishments of the LGBT community, the African American community, the Hispanic, Asian, Native American… all our communities. Because we are you. We are among all communities. And you are a part of our community because at any moment, you could be welcomed into our midst.

We are following you in the batting order. A successful “ADA Fan Cam” on July 26th would be a solid base hit. If all teams participate, it will be a towering home run! So please root for OUR team and look for us between innings as you enjoy a Sunday afternoon watching baseball on TV.

Visit the ADA Fan Cam Facebook Page:

NOTE: People in wheelchairs are a very small fraction of the people whose civil rights are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act.  To learn more about invisible disabilities, visit

Disability Emoji ready for World Emoji Day and ADA 25th Anniversary

World Emoji Day is July 17 and ADA 25th Anniversary is July 26! #ADA25


Greg Smith 228-424-3896,
Katrina Parrott (iDiversicons) 832-654-7641,


Ocean Springs, MS – Disability Advocate/Broadcaster Greg Smith, has partnered withiDiversicons, the world’s first diverse emoji keyboard, to introduce new “Disability Pride Emoji” in celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, July 26, 2015. iDiversicons is adding 14 disability emoji to it’s existing line of diverse images that offer a new seamless iPhone and iPad keyboard with unlimited capabilities and user benefits. The release of the new disability em also coincides with World Emoji Day, July 17.

“Disability Emoji express disability pride at a time when we are celebrating the 25th anniversary of our civil rights,” says Smith. “The concept of disability today refers less to medical conditions and more to a lifestyle, shared by millions of people who are fully engaged in the mainstream of community life.  And that includes on-line and wireless community life!”

Smith is the founder of the syndicated radio show On A Roll – Talk Radio on Life & Disability. He is the subject of the PBS award winning documentaryOn A Roll: Family, Disability and the American Dream.  As a professional speaker, he is known as “The Strength Coach.”

As a pioneer for diversity and inclusion, iDiversicons’ revolutionary new iPhone and iPad keyboard features truly diverse emoji, satisfying a void that current emoji lack and what the public, media and world has been asking for: “more faces of color and diversity.” There are over 900 iDiversicons to choose from, including an unmatched five different skin tones.


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The iDiversicons’ keyboard is fluid, seamless and very easy to use. All diverse emoji are contained in the keyboard like a font. Emoji can instantly be made larger for easier viewing and selection purposes. There is no limitation in the number of iDiversicons you can select and send at one time.

iDiversicons’ emoji encompass various races, biracial and gender equality, religion, animals, holidays, sports, mascots, fraternities, sororities and now, disabilities. Because one face definitely does not fit all.

This first batch of Disability Pride Emoji is just the beginning of what will become hundreds of images when the funding becomes available.

To order from the iTunes store, go to
To order the GoogleAps version, go to

Help make the next documentary!

The documentary “On A Roll: Family, Disability and the American Dream” aired on PBS in 2005, reaching over a million Americans in the week it debuted. The film won the “Audience Award” as the top documentary on the PBS Series “Independent Lens.”  Your support can make the sequel documentary possible.

Joanne Caputo’s film shared two compelling stories: First, it shared the story of how one man navigated the complex integration of disability, ethnicity, ambition, and family life. The film covered my journey from birth with muscular dystrophy, through high school, college, married life, fatherhood and the pursuit of my career ambitions as a disability leader and broadcaster. Secondly, it covered the rich culture of America’s disability community as it celebrated the 10-year Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.


The young, energetic subject of that film, who traveled solo, is now 51 years old. My young children you saw are now grown. I have gradualy lost abilities once taken for granted, such as sitting upright in my wheelchair without support, transfering in and out of my chair and using the bathroom independently.

Muscular dystrophy and aging have taken a severe toll on my physicial abilities. But I still drive my van, travel frequently to speaking engagements and host my weekly podcast.

“On A Roll Again” will focus on the complex challenges one man faces as he ages with a severe disability. Who will provide his needed personal assistant care? The parents we met in the first film are now in their mid 70′s. Where will he live?

“On A Roll Again” will also focus on the status of life with a disability as we approach 2020, the 30 year Anniversary of ADA. How has American’s attitude about people with disabilities shifted? How have developments in technology and medical care impacted disability lifestyles?

This is a film that must be made. We need your donation to raise the funds to make it possible. Thanks for watching “On A Roll” and I look forward to seeing your name in the credits and inviting you to the screening party of the new film.

Thanks for making a contribution!

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