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Penny Forward Transcript S2022E3 Accessibility’s Final Frontier

Posted in Blindness Resources, Career, Disability, Podcast Episodes, and Podcast Transcripts

Sheri: We need our best people. We need our most creative, most whimsical, most joyful, most passionate people doing the important jobs. And a lot of those jobs are in the space industry. If one out of five people on the planet has some kind of disability, we simply, as a species, cannot afford to keep twenty percent of humanity off the job.

 

The Penny Forward podcast is transcribed by Anne Verduin, a blind transcriber living in Portland Oregon who charges competitive rates. To hire Anne to transcribe your podcast, give her a call at 971-346-0973.

 

While we make every effort to insure that our transcripts are error free, if you do spot an error, please let

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Chris: This is the Penny Forward podcast, a show about blind people building bright futures one penny at a time.

 

Liz: I’m Liz Bottner.

 

Chris: And I’m Chris Peterson.

 

Liz: We are blind people learning, from each other,  what it takes to be successful in our personal, professional, and financial lives.

 

Liz: Before we start, we’d like to thank Ron and Lisa Brookes, at Accessible Avenue, for sponsoring the Penny Forward podcast. I’m sure many of us have experienced frustration and uncertainty when trying to use public transportation or paratransit services that are either inaccessible, or just poorly designed for meeting our needs.  Accessible Avenue works with transit agencies and other mobility providers to make transportation services accessible for everyone, including those of us who are blind or visually impaired. Accessible Avenue also works with individuals and organizations who need training or assistance with public transportation problems. You can learn more at

www.accessibleavenue.net

 

Chris: As many of you know, I started this podcast about a year ago. Liz joined the team about half way through that year, but this isn’t my first podcast. In the early 2000’s, I started a podcast delivering weekly space news called “The Space Report.” It ran until 2013 and it was pretty successful, although, I don’t think I knew that at the time. So this week’s guest is very exciting to me. Her name is Dr. Sheri Wells-Jensen. She’s blind, and she is one of twelve people, with various, different types of disabilities, who participated in the first zero gravity flight sponsored by Mission: Astro Access. Mission: Astro Access is doing research into how to make space accessible to everyone, regardless of their disability, and we’re going to learn about Dr. Wells-Jensen, about her zero gravity flight and what she learned from it, and about how Mission: Astro Access continues to do the research to make sure that space is going to be accessible to everyone.

 

Chris: Sheri, thanks for being here.

 

Sheri: It is a delight. I’m so happy to get a chance to talk to you guys.

 

Chris: Tell us about yourself.

 

Sheri: I’m from a little tiny town, just a little dot of a town in Southeastern Michigan called Temperance Michigan, and now I live in a slightly larger dot,… (chuckle.) Bowling Green Ohio, where I am an associate professor of linguistics at Bowling Green State University.

 

Chris: And you’re blind, right? So, can you tell us a little bit about that?

 

Sheri: Yes. I’m fully blind. I had some light perception as a kid. Probably …Probably the blindness was due to exposure to pesticides in the rural county where … where we all lived where I was born. And so, I grew up reading braille, and going to the public school at first in a self-contained classroom, and then later, just swimming with the other fish in middle school, high school.

 

Liz: Now tell us a little bit about your life and your career.

 

Sheri: So, my intention, as a kid growing up, my thing that I thought that I wanted, no, the thing that I knew I wanted to do, was astronomy and physics. And I was very excited about it. I was Geeky Science Kid, but I was also kind of uh, … What? A creature of the time, I guess, maybe? And so it just became really clear to me that it seemed like a really big hassle to everybody when I needed a new book or something, because back then, this was pre … all the glory of the internet, and the computers and all that good stuff, right? (Chuckle.) So if you wanted a book, you either had to get someone to read that puppy on to tape or it had to already be recorded somewhere, maybe through the national library service, or you could wait for it to be brailled, and it just became sort of increasingly clear to me that people kept saying things to me like “psychology and language study,” and less frequently, … (chuckle.) saying anything about physics and astronomy. So I allowed myself to be detoured, and got a degree, ended up with a PH.D in linguistics, which is good fun. I’m not complaining. I chose linguistics because it’s like language and science at the same time, both of which are marvelous things. And I stumbled into the field, because I like astronomy, of interstellar language construction. So how would you build a message that aliens could understand? Intelligences that we don’t know anything about? We don’t know what their senses are like, what their bodies are like, how do we build a message they can understand? And from that I stumbled into the glorious field, … (chuckle.) of astrobiology, where I get to work with amazing people every day, really on the frontiers of what human kind is gonna do in outer space. We’re just at the infancy of that, and I’m very fortunate to be, especially as a linguist, … (chuckle.) To be … to be doing this amazing thing with all these wonderful people.

 

Chris: And anything you want to share about your personal life?

 

(Sheri chuckles.)

 

Sheri: Let’s see. I’m in a couple bands, I’ve got a spouse and a couple kids, and three cantankerous cats, who may or may not jump on me as I’m chatting with you here this afternoon. But I think … I think we’ve all grown kind of used to that whole Covid cat thing. And so, what I do on the regular is teach classes at Bowling Green State University, many of which are for people who want to be English as a second language teachers, and play music and read science and science fiction. And hang out here in the Northwest Ohio.

 

Liz: You spoke a little bit about your career, can you go into a little more detail about what exactly is Mission: Astro Access?

 

Sheri: Yeah. This is an amazing story. So, … Where to start? So I’ve been writing about disability and outer space for a while. Because although we imagine that the thing to do is send our healthiest, strongest, most quote “able” people into outer space, what we began to discover almost right away, is that space is not only dangerous because … you know, … it’s outer space and things can explode, and atmospheres can leak out and all that kind of terrible, terrible thing, but also, if you live in microgravity, which we … you know, sometimes refer to as zero gravity. If you live up there on the International Space Station, or in orbit, or if you were to go to the moon and start living, or if you were to take a long distance vessel and go all the way to Mars, what you’d find is, all kinds of insidious effects, microgravity, and radiation, and isolation, on the health of the participants. So, we know, for example, that people who live aboard the international space station have bone loss, they have muscle loss, there’s also a syndrome called “space associated neuro ocular syndrome,” which damages eye sight, it doesn’t render them blind, but it does definitely, over the medium term, change their visual acuity. And so, if you do that, if you’re on this space vessel, and you’re going far out to space and you realize, “Oh my gosh, I’ve had this effect and I can no longer see as well as I could see before,” we’re in big trouble if there’s no adaptive tech aboard that space vessel, several million miles from earth. So I’ve been interested in the problem of disability and space, or the opportunities and problems, for a long time. And so, one of the things that we definitely need is to find out, “Well, what adaptive tech do you need in space? How do we keep people safe on their way to Mars? What adaptive tech would a disabled person need to live and work effectively as a full member of a team in earth orbit, or, more to the point, on the way to Mars?” Right, where you can’t get back. And I met a marvelous human being named Anna Vulker, and they are interested in STEM access for people with disabilities, how to get access to the STEM fields. The kind of thing that I wish dearly I’d had in the 1970’s, right, growing up in … in the little dot in Southeastern Michigan. And they said, “You know, we’re thinking of this project where we’re gonna start answering some of the questions about accommodations in space by doing a zero G flight, with a bunch of disabled people on it. Would you be interested in helping facilitate that?” So, I very, very professionally turned off my microphone, and I screamed my head off, … (Laugh.) And then I, very quietly and with a great deal of dignity, turned the microphone back on and said, “Why yes, Anna, I’d be delighted. Thank you so much for thinking of me.” And so that’s how I got involved with this project, and I’m delighted to have also been on that first flight as one of the blind ambassadors.

 

Male Announcer: We’ll get back to our interview in just a moment. But first, …

 

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Male Announcer: Do you have a short success story that you would like to share on the air? Leave us a message at 952-856-0313. If you missed that number, you can always find it at

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Chris: Tell us a little bit then about what the process was like. What … What happened next?

 

Sheri: So, we went on a nation wide search, and we asked for applications. We picked twelve ambassadors, some of whom were deaf, some of whom had mobility disabilities, and a handful of blind people. A parabolic flight is not going to the International Space Station. You don’t have any contiguous minutes of zero gravity. What you have, is these … (laugh.) Ravenously chaotic twenty seconds of free fall, mixed in between periods of high acceleration when the plane is flying back up the other end of the parabola, and I can … I can talk more about how that works if you want. What we started doing was asking ourselves, “Well, what kind of things do you need to know?” So we assembled some research questions, and some things that we’d like to demonstrate about what these twelve disabled people were gonna do in space, and we sorted out those problems, and … Any time you try to do something big, … (chuckle.) like this, the logistics are like some kind of … pick your favorite invading species … story. Right? Whatever it is, they just … they just … they just flow toward you and you’re overwhelmed by all these little details. But we got it all sorted out, and we got our twelve people together in Long Beach, in October, and up we went. And I guess I should say a couple sentences about what that’s like. So, you have a 727, which, if you don’t know lots about airplanes like me, it’s just kind of just like, seems like an airplane. Just … just some airplane. Regular, nothing too exciting about it, except that, hang on. There is something exciting about it. And they take out the seats in the front part of the aircraft. The first, say, two thirds of the aircraft. So you’ve got about thirty seats left in the back, and those are just regular airplane seats, and you hop on the plane, and it just is so weirdly pedestrian. Except for the wheelchair ramp going down the side of the plane, which was amazing, from the tarmac up to the cargo door of the plane. And then you just get in there, and you buckle your seatbelt like you ordinarily would, and some guy comes on the overhead speaker, … (laugh.) And says all those ordinary things, like, “You know, welcome aboard, … doo doo doo,” and then points out that there’s no … There’s no food service, or drink service aboard the flight. And then off you go. We flew out, about maybe 45 minutes over the Pacific, and then everybody got up out of the plane, which is covered in … like wrestling mats? Or, the mats that gymnasts use? And they’re on the floor. And they’re on the walls, … (chuckle.) And, they’re on the ceiling, because the cealing is not gonna be a ceiling for very much longer. And you lay down on your back on the matt, and then the plane starts accelerating upward. Right, so you feel yourself pressed down into the mat. You weigh about twice what you would ordinarily weigh. It’s about 120 G. And so it just sort of basically feels like a long, kind of shaky, wickedly loud, uphill on a roller coaster. Right, you’re pressed back into your seat, it’s not difficult to breathe, but you definitely feel heavy. And then the plane gets to the top, and sort of levels out, and you start to think, “Oh.” Now if you’re me, and you don’t like roller coasters, now is the moment where you think, “I wonder if I should begin panicking now, or if I should wait a minute, …” (chuckle.) “And panic a little bit later.” And then the plane sort of seems to be tipping forward, and you think, “Oh. I seem to be …” (Chuckle.) “I seem to be laying on this hill, and there’s … I don’t know where the bottom of this hill is, and if I start to slide, that could be really scary, and so I’m considering if it’s time to panic or not.” But then, the most impossible thing in the world happens. I was laying on my back on the floor, and all of a sudden I reached around, and there was air behind me, and I thought, … “How did air get between me, and the mat that I’m laying on?” It wasn’t like it was pushing me up or anything, there was just air there where … Like reach behind yourself when you’re laying down. There’s not supposed to be air there. (Laugh.) There’s just really not. And, suddenly, there was no sense of down. No sense of up. And when I was touching the side of the aircraft, I didn’t know if it was the side, or the ceiling, or the ground, and it is so wickedly loud, because you know, you’re diving through the air and you hear all the noise of the air, and you hear all the noise of the engine, and, you know, there’s a certain amount of people screaming, or crying out in glee, more than screaming, I guess. It was really hard to stay oriented. It’s not impossible, but it’s really, really hard. So where was up? Where was down? And then if you float there for a minute, the coaches, the zero G coaches, who are amazing human beings, they’d yell, “Okay, feet down,” and then if you don’t figure out which way down is, some guy’s gonna come and grab you. (Chuckle.) And put you down on the ground, because, then the gravity comes back, and you wiggle around to get on to your backs, ’cause that’s the best way to take the acceleration and not throw up, and you lay there on your back, and it goes up, and over the top again. And this happens … It’s impossible to count. We had 15 parabolas, we think, but maybe only 14, someone should look at the flight recorder, (Laugh.) but there’s so much sensory overload, and chaos, and just gleefulness. It’s just the best feeling. And then at some point, we were done, we did what we came to do, and we all just got up, … (laugh.) It was so, just, pedestrian imprisic and just so mundane. You just sort of got up, walked back to your seat, they’re like, “Okay, Everybody, buckle up, ’cause we’re flying again.” And we buckled our seatbelts, and they … Some guy came around and gave us all a little bag of Cheetos, … (laugh.) And a little thing of water, so it did turn out that there was drink service on the plane sort of. And then off we went. And we flew back home. And when we landed, they reminded us that we have done a thing that 99.999 percent of human kind has never done, and will never do. And it really brings powerfully home the point that this experience was way out of the ordinary, such an incredible opportunity, and so now, we, having done this, now we’re at the daunting, joyful, … choose more adjectives, … (Chuckle.) We’re in this position of trying to figure out, “Well how do you use this experience now? How do you take that, and make it not just a fun thing that you did, which was nice for you and a good experience and it made you happy, but how do you take that gift that you were given, and return it to the community in ways? Like, what’s next? What do we do with the results that we learned? How do we use this experience to make the world a more welcoming and just place for disabled people everywhere?

 

Liz: Outside of the announcement during the landing experience that you had done something that most people will never do, was there a definitive moment within that whole experience where you may have thought, “Oh my gosh! I’m doing this.”

 

Sheri: Oh yeah. There were a couple. That’s a really good question. So, as a part of this, we were in Long Beach, and we toured Virgin Orbit, which makes these cute little rockets. And they don’t take people up, they just take cool tech up. And we were being shown around the factory, and somebody asked the CEO, who was giving us a tour, … just an incredible human being, did such a great job making an accessible tour. And we said, “Could we touch a rocket?” And he was like, “Ah man, …” (mumbling something.) And you could feel him going, “I get why you want to do this. I don’t know.” And then, we were just leaving and he said “Yes! Guys, get back here. Get back here.” And so all the blind crew scuttled back into the factory. And we put our hands on, … imagine a cylinder, a hollow cylinder, cut it in half top to bottom. So, you’ve got kind of a bowl-shaped thing, a long trough-shaped thing, “troff” is maybe a better word. Laying on its side, on its back, right with the open side up. It’s one of the outer housings for a rocket. And I touched it. It was if I couldn’t breathe for a second. My hands, my hands, my two hands, were on a thing that was gonna go to space. I did, I’ve got to say, to my credit, I made it almost out of the factory before I burst into tears. (Laugh.) And one of the zero G coaches, Tim Bayley, just walks past me and he goes, “How are you? How was the tour?” And there was me just … Just weeping, uncontrollably because I’d touched a thing going to space. And then the next day, we had a little, we had a time where we got on to the … It was called G Force 1, got on to the airplane. I was climbing the back, we had a ladder down the back of the plane on to the tarmac. And Tim was standing in the doorway to the plane above me. That moment, when I was about to step onboard the plane, he said, “Welcome to G Force 1, Sheri Wells-Jensen,” and I just, again, I just felt like the whole world stopped, and I thought, … “Wow! This is really happening. I … I don’t …” Like I said, I ran out of adjectives back in May. It was almost like one of those “one small step for man” kind of moments in my head. I mean, outer space has often been the symbol of what able bodied people can do. And we have never been included in that. And there I was, stepping on to this plane, and there were two deaf guys on the plane ahead of me, and there are people in wheelchairs rolling up the ramp off to my left, and I thought, “Damn! We’ve broken something that needed breaking. And we are in a new place now.” We were all just so incredibly grateful to be there.

 

Chris: This is a show about an experiment, and we’re going to do an experiment during the show. We haven’t ever done this before, but we set up a voicemail system through a service called “speakpipe,” which is on our website,

pennyforward.com/podcast

We didn’t know if it was gonna work, and we didn’t know if it was gonna be accessible, so we didn’t push it too hard, but we did receive a couple of questions from one listener, that we want to play for you and have you answer. You ready for that?

 

Sheri: Absolutely. Let’s do it.

 

Chris: All right.

 

Listener: Hi, this is Lolly Lijewski, 2 questions for Sheri Wells-Jensen. The first one is, “Describe what it feels like to be weightless.” And the second one is, “What was the most interesting or unexpected thing you observed during the flight?” Thanks.

 

Sheri: One of the things that I cannot quite viscerally let go of is that when you’re in zero gravity, one touch will move your whole body. When I was standing on the, well, not standing, right, I was sort of floating. Next to the floor. And I just reached down, and just the gentlest touch sent me sort of coasting away. So here’s the thing. When you think about floating, you’re still thinking about kind of an up and a down, right? But I didn’t know what up was, or what down was, anymore. And sometimes I could of course sort of work that out by listening to the voices around me, but it wasn’t like being in water either. Because with water, you still kind of know, “what’s up, what’s down.” Like sitting here, I think, “Isn’t it …” (Laugh.) And this still makes me laugh. Isn’t it funny that in that environment, if I just moved my right hand quickly, I would knock myself right off this couch where I’m sitting right now. And also, if you’re me, and you were considering when to start panicking, one of the first things I did when I couldn’t feel the ground underneath me was like … (Laugh.) Start flailing around trying to find it, which knocked me further away from it. So, there is a skillset to moving gracefully, and  efficiently that people with more experience earn. And by the end of it, I was starting to sort of get the idea. And I think, let’s see. The other part of the question was, um, … Oh, the thing I didn’t expect. Oh! Here’s the thing I didn’t expect. Lunar gravity is so much fun. So, they did the zero G parabolas, but before they dump you from 1.8 G into zero G, all at once, they fly a shallower prabla, which gives you the elusion of Martian gravity, which is about 1 third your body weight, and then lunar gravity, which is about 1 sixth your body weight. And let me tell you, my friends. What you want to do is be on the moon. (Laugh.) That was the most fun. I was laying on my stomach on the floor, and you know how you could do a push-up? I gave myself a big strong push, and I pushed from laying on my stomach to standing on my feet. Because it was not hard. And then I almost flipped over backward. And I felt like every Ninja warrior, every fairy princess, every highly trained dancer in the world. Because on the moon, you could just jump. At least two of the wheelchair users on our flight had an experience of standing on their feet in lunar gravity, which they thought was … was pretty fine also.

 

Liz: Since your experience with the flight, has there been anything notable that’s happened, and related, if you know, will there be any future flights?

 

Sheri: This was definitely Flight 1. We are actively working towards flight two and beyond, because, this wasn’t just about giving a bunch of disabled people a cool experience, right? cause if all we wanted to do is make it clear that disabled people can take a shaking, we would have just … (Chuckle.) Gone down the road here to Cedar Point in Sandusky Ohio and put everybody on a big roller coaster and shaken them all up. The point of this all is not to do one of those traditional “let’s inspire people” things, although, if people feel motivated by what we have done, that’s a wonderful thing. The point is, the research, right? To figure out what we need to do, “What is it that we need to learn so that disabled astronauts are not a horror movie or a myth. How do we make that into a reality?” So, we are strategizing, looking at what we’ve learned, and then how we’re gonna apply that to the next flight, and we’re actively fundraising for our next flights, plural, we hope, so that we can carry these lines of research forward. So, that’s been happening, I’m working on a book about the experience, and um … What else? It’s just been … Like the gift of being able to talk to people about this experience has been unexpectedly rich and lovely for me. I’ve just … I’ve been so grateful to be able to tell this story to people. Because it’s such a good story, it’s so much fun, and we learned so much, and it’s really gonna make a difference. The things that we learn in space fall back to Earth. That’s how gravity works, right? So, as we make accommodations, in this most inaccessible of places, outer space, we are eager to apply what we’ve learned to the regular lives of regular disabled people around the world.

 

Chris: I loved how you very casually teased that you’re working on a book, ’cause that Segway’s very nicely into the next question, which is, what is  … what is next for Sheri?

 

Sheri: Yeah, I’m working on the book, I’m in my basement, you know, … (Laugh.) I have a table with a computer on it and I’m working, I’m writing. So we are, Mission: Astro Access is afloat, and alive, and moving forward, and we will be flying again with some of our folks who are experienced, and probably some new ones, and I will be writing while I keep teaching my classes, and playing in my bands. February twenty-second, my ukulele quartet is doing a webcast. You can find us at

grubsmusic.com

if I can do a shameless promotion, it stands for “Grand Royale ukuleists of the Black Swamp,” because you must be pretentious if you are a ukulele band. Yeah, that’s happening. And I’m writing, and working, and living in small town Ohio.

 

Female Announcer: We’ll continue our interview in a moment, but first, …

 

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Female Announcer: Do you have a short success story that you would like to share on the air? Leave us a message at 952-856-0313. If you missed that number, you can always find us at

pennyforward.com/podcast

 

Liz: Is there anything in particular that you would like blind people to learn from your unique experiences that you’ve had? Whether it’s through this, the flight experience, or other experiences that you’ve had?

 

Sheri: You know, I’ve thought about this a lot. One of the genuinely, uh … realistic critiques is, “You’ve just done an amazing, expensive, and climate harming thing.” Right? I mean, let’s just be honest. Every time we get into an airplane, we think, “Oo. Should we have done that?” And we just did this audacious thing. So it’s really important that we acknowledge that, and yes, we have such a big responsibility to share what we’ve done, and make it relevant. You know, the thing I don’t want to say, people, is, “Try hard and reach for your dreams.” Because every time someone says that to me, my first thought is, “Haven’t I already been trying hard, and which dream in particular?” (Chuckle.) Because very few of us are blessed or cursed with this maniacal focus on one thing that we must have. If you asked me what I’d like to do, or what my dreams are, I could come up with jillions. I’ve … I’ve got a shoebox full of them. Right? And we’re already working so hard. We just really are. And especially during the pandemic, it’s been really stressful. And so I think one of the things I learned through this experience is that we all really are doing a lot. And there’s always that voice inside your head that says, “Oh, I don’t know. Should you do this? Is it gonna be accessible? Is it gonna be okay? Should I do this? Do I have the energy to do this?” And then there’s this more insidious voice inside your head that asks you this question, “What’s up with me? How come other people do all these things and I’m not doing those things, and … So, I think the thing that I keep coming back to is this. Tell that voice in your head to go bake muffins, and just appreciate that you’re a competent, creative person, involved in this marvelous art of being alive on a really complicated planet, in a really complicated time. And then with that sense of maybe if you can just give yourself permission to just breathe for a minute, and acknowledge that, yeah, you have been working hard, yeah, it’s a lot. And then see what comes. That’s what I generally believe, is that _then things happen.

 

Chris: This is occasionally a podcast about personal finance, and financial wellness, and early on, I came up with three reasons to convince people that financial wellness is important. And they are to be able to take advantage of rare opportunities, weather hard times, and generously support causes we deeply care about. I think it’s fair to say that this is a hell of a rare opportunity, and I’m curious to know whether you think there are going to be more opportunities like this. Not just flights, but … Are there gonna be blind people in space, some day?

 

Sheri: There are absolutely going to be all kinds of people with all kinds of disabilities in space, or, we’re not gonna have space. Space is a profoundly disabling environment. And so some people go up in space and get disabled there and then stay. And we have to make sure that those people are safe, because they trusted us to send them there. Also, if we are … and I don’t want to put too fine a point on it,  but we’re in a pickle right now. We’ve got global warming, we’ve got … we’ve got all kinds of things happening that are dangerous, and scary, and we need our best minds. We need our best people. We need our most creative, most whimsical, most joyful, most passionate people, doing the important jobs. And a lot of those jobs are in the space industry. If one out of five people on the planet has some kind of disability, we simply, as a species, cannot afford to keep 20 percent of humanity off the job. And it’s essential that we make sure that we can have the right person in the right spot for the right job, even when those spots are in space, and not limit ourselves to just people who happen to fit a set of arbitrary, physical requirements. Right? So, yeah. Absolutely. Absolutely, there will be disabled people in space. And we need disabled people in stem fields, not because you’re disabled as such, but because you are you, and your insights and abilities as part of this team Planet Earth thing that we’re trying to do, so we can please survive, so our grandchildren can go on to do more marvelous things, we just genuinely need everybody. So yeah. I think, that was a long answer to your question. And so my short answer is, “hell yeah. There’s gonna be disabled people in space. There has to be.”

 

Chris: All right, so you mentioned that you like to read science fiction, and I know Liz and I, and some members of our team, are really big science fiction fans. Do you have any favorites?

 

Sheri: Oo, boy oh boy oh boy. Okay. Yes. Of course I have favorites. Please drop everything you’re doing and go read the Becky Chambers “Wayfarer” series. It’s marvelous, it’s disability positive, it’s LGBTQ positive, it’s wicked good writing, it’s fun, and it talks just a lot about how to be human in space. I love it so much. Especially the first one. You know, the first book in a series is always the best, right? I think right now, that is my favorite modern thing. Also in the top of my playlist right now for rereading is Hineline’s “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.” Mostly because it’s on the moon, but also because it’s got some cool linguistics in it if you haven’t reread that in awhile, definitely worth giving that one a grab.

 

Chris: I love that book, and that also has a disabled character in it.

 

Sheri: It has several. Depending on like what you’re thinking about, it not only has more than one disabled character in it, but it also genuinely talks about a mix of different species with different kinds of abilities. You know, in one of … (chuckle.) One of my favorite scenes from that book, it’s just a small scene. One of our heroes is standing at a dispatch node trying to schedule a pod to take him wherever he needs to go. And just the general set of instructions contained the phrase, “If you lack a sense of sight, you may find out about the pod in this way. And “If you lack a sense of hearing, … and just… ” I thought, “Whoa! That’s it! That’s it. That’s it. You have different kinds of people between species or within the species, with different abilities, and let’s just get done messing around, and admit that that’s a real thing, and then get  over ourselves, and accommodate for it.

 

Liz: Awesome.

 

Chris: Can you give out some information about where people can learn more about Mission: Astro Access?

 

Sheri:

astroaccess.org

if people have questions, they can email me at

sheri@astroaccess.org

and when there is another call for disabled ambassadors to fly on a subsequent zero G flight, there is a mailing list at

astroaccess.org

that people can be on, because … you all want to do this.

 

Chris: We have a Penny Forward Facebook group that if you want to join it and put your questions in there, we’ll get them to Sheri as well, as well as, because this worked so well, a voice mail system at

pennyforward.com/podcast

if you want to leave voice mail messages there for Sheri, and for future guests, and we’ll be advertising future guests ahead of time so you know about them, and can leave us messages, you can find that at

pennyforward.com/podcast

Sheri, thank you so much for being here.

 

Sheri: Thank you so much, it was so much fun to talk with you guys.

 

Chris: Is there something you’d like to talk about? We’d love to hear from you. Visit pennyforward.com/podcast to learn how to contact us or to leave us a voicemail that we may share on the air. And while you’re there, please make a small donation to support our work to develop accessible and affordable financial education programs for people who are blind.

 

Liz: The Penny Forward podcast is produced by Liz Bottner and Chris Peterson, Audio editing and post production is provided by Byron Lee, and transcription is provided by Ann Verduin. Music was composed and performed by Andre Louis and Web hosting is provided by Taylor’s Accessibility Services.

 

Chris: Penny Forward is a community of blind people building bright futures one penny at a time. Visit pennyforward.com to learn more about who we are and what we do. Until next time, for all of us in the Penny Forward community, I’m Chris Peterson

 

Liz: and I’m Liz Bottner. thanks for listening and have a great week!