My name is Rafal “Ralph” Strzalkowski. If you happen to visit Gainesville, Florida, you may recognize me from my bright yellow wheelchair in which I travel all around town. In 2013, I started a nonprofit, a 501(c)(3) charity — Florida Disability Access and Awareness Foundation – to foster greater empathy and inclusion for people with disabilities starting with Florida and spreading throughout the country.
This Foundation is my attempt to address problems that I could not easily overcome as an individual, even with my advanced law degrees. Every day, I encounter misunderstandings – expressed in stares, flawed assumptions, and a range of prejudices – with people who do not know me. My Foundation also draws attention to physical impediments to access for the disability community in public places. I want people to understand that the provisions of the Americans With Disabilities Act are not just technicalities, but have human stories – much like my own — attached to them. Every day, people just like me are able to live their lives more fully as a result of the ADA, including not only due to the letter of this federal law, but also its spirit — to open doors, hearts and minds to those of us with disabilities. For me, change starts with powerful and passionate visual media. I want to make people stop, think and notice.
For all of these reasons, I invite you to support our programs as we expand them A year ago we launched Wheelchaired for a Day – the Foundation’s pilot program, which allowed able-bodied people, like you, to spend twenty four hours in a wheelchair and record their experiences. Those who participated in Gainesville included attorneys and other business owners, public officials and many more. They each came back with a lot of insight, which helped me to realize that the Wheelchaired Challenge needs to continue and expand in a structured way.
But it starts with your tax deductible support. Together we can build something amazing and every dollar can make a difference!
President Ralph Strzalkowski – an immigrant born with Cerebral Palsy who never let his wheelchair stop him from becoming a lawyer, wanted to find a new way to talk about disability. Building the team for years, finding the right people with the right skills, and dedicated to the mission. Some of us have a disability, some of us don’t, but we all have a common goal, and we all know life’s obstacles. Our team is diverse. From the hearing impaired, to immigrants and cancer survivors. We know the problem, we understand the struggle, and we have a solution.
We have a physical address, but you won’t find us there. We work online, connecting to talent all around the world. We develop projects with the same values and principles that they are meant to promote. For us it’s not only about finalizing the projects, but promoting empathy, understanding and disability issues as we develop them under the guidance of some of our Directors: Ralph Strzalkowski, Paul Brophy and Jazzy Trafficano.
FDAAF creates opportunities for students who want to put their idealism and passion to good use. By learning about every aspect of developing video and software projects they work with us side by side but also develop their own awareness of the disability issues and the community we feature. We started at University of Florida, where Brooke Kaplan runs FDAAF Gators student group and Beth Roland of the Disability Resource Center is the faculty advisor. If you’re a student, join our team and email firstname.lastname@example.org
Media About Us