Liam is completely immersed in the disability community. He is a board member of both Disabled in Action and the supports coordination agency Liberty Community Connections, a longtime member of ADAPT, and he works as a Project Coordinator at the disability advocacy nonprofit and Center for Independent Living (CIL) Liberty Resources. He received his BA in Liberal Arts at St. John’s College and his Masters in Public Administration from the University of Pennsylvania. Liam has a rare genetic disability called Friedreich’s ataxia and uses a wheelchair and many other adaptive products. He has personally felt the indignity and discomfort in buying the things that he hopes will make his life easier and wants to make a change to bring the disability community into the 21st century. He lives in Philadelphia with his wife and daughter.
"I have had my life significantly improved by adaptive products. For some [products], I have been able to ask disabled friends for input or comments, and for others I’ve had to try out for myself (sometimes with frustrating results). And lucky for me, many of the adaptive products I have found to be useful are marketed to those without disabilities, such as an Amazon Echo, Keurig coffee maker, and iPad for reading (without having to turn pages!).
The contrast between the marketing of these products versus the many other disability-specific products I own and use regularly (such as button hooks for shirts, adaptive fingernail clippers, transfer bars, and bed rails) is incredible. Additionally, there is no curated resource for help navigating the multitude of available products, frequently meaning the fact that I’d even know about a product that would really improve my quality of life is left up to chance."
Kate’s older sister, Jen, has a rare form of ataxia, and while helping her shop for home goods, they discovered that many of the ones that best met Jen's needs were not necessarily the ones sold as "adaptive." It was clear that a lot could (and should) be done to re-think how products are curated, focusing on their use, and user experiences, rather than their label. Most recently, Kate was a German Chancellor Fellow. Prior to that, she helped launch Perry World House at the University of Pennsylvania and was a Fulbright Public Policy Fellow in Haiti. She has a BA in International Relations from the University of Pennsylvania and an MPhil in Development Studies from the University of Oxford. She lives in Munich, Germany with her husband and son.
"My sister and my whole family know the difference that one good product can make. A new item that helps support Jen's independence, whether by reducing falls or making daily tasks easier, or helps her relax is a big deal. Sometimes these are new, innovative products for balance; sometimes these are adaptive items that have been around for years—such as plates and bowls that grip the table; and often, these are products that have never been considered "adaptive" – think a scalp massager, a cozy blanket, a well-designed water bottle, or a cool bag that also happens to be perfectly suited for a wheelchair."