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Clayers with Disabilities

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I started this list because of feedback I received after making an innocent remark on several other listservs.  I referred to myself as a member of the "clayers with disabilities" group.  I meant I was among the many clayers out there who had a disability.  I wasn't referring to an actual organized group.  However, I received several e-mails from folks asking where they could find this group in response.

After some correspondence with some folks with an interest in claying and disabilities, I decided folks wanted an organized group to discuss just this.  There didn't seem to be one out there, at least not one that the clay community knew about.  So I decided to start one.

I have a long history, both with polymer clay and with disabilities.  I started working as an Art Therapy Assistant, and also as a Therapeutic Rec Assistant, when I was fifteen years old.  I continued to work with people with disabilities as a camp counselor, as an instructor, as a vocational counselor, as a transition specialist, as an assistive technology specialist, and as a program director.  I have a bachelors degree in Education, as well as a masters degree in rehabilitation counseling.  I have over eighteen years of professional experience in the disabilities services field.

I also am a person with a disability myself, after being involved in a serious car accident in 1997.  I have a mobility impairment, chronic pain, balance problems, and limited lifting abilities.  I have back and neck problems.  I walk with a cane.  I can neither sit not stand for long periods of times, and my legs tend to give out on me when I over exert myself.  I can not drive long distances.  I have to construct my show displays of materials that I can easily handle myself and ensure that the process of set up doesn't zap me too much. 

Of course, as a professional clay artist, I have learned ways to do things so my disability doesn't interfere.  I have a canopy I am able to carry and set up myself.  My booth and display are constructed of items I can easily handle.  I pack my inventory in smaller containers so I don't strain my back hauling them around.  But I'm always looking for new ways to do things, as are other clay artists with disabilities.  I'd love a forum in which I could discuss these types of things.  Since I could not find an existing one, I decided to start this group.

I also have a wealth of experience in working with folks with all kinds of disabilities in all types of settings.  I've adapted all types of projects and tools for all types of functional limitations.  So have a lot of other folks out there.  However, there doesn't seem to be a good forum for sharing this collective knowledge.  So I decided to start one.

I now hope to bring together this collective knowledge and help share it.  I hope to build a forum in which claying and disabilities are discussed freely by all types of people. 

If you are a clayer with a disability yourself, or a person who has an interest in claying and disabilities, I hope you'll join us.

Laurel Nevans
List Owner,
Clayers with Disabilities

Member, National Polymer Clay Guild


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