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National Service and Inclusion Project

Inclusion: The active engagement of people with disabilities as service members in all levels of national and community service

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Participants: Raymond Garcia

Program: Self Advocacy / AmeriCorps, New York
Service: Educational public speaking; teaches in after-school program for kids of all ages; directs community access TV show.
Contact: "Disabled in Demand" includes people with visible and demonstrating and talking about the abilities of people with disabilities and running an after-school program for children. Members have recently created Davilu Productions which creates cable access shows about disability issues, events, programs, and resources. Contact Sharon Davis :

Interview with Raymond Garcia, February, 2001



1. INTRODUCTION: real audio clip icon

RAYMOND GARCIA: My name is Raymond Garcia. I’m a city college senior, graduating this year, 2001. I’m a volunteer with DID, that’s "Disabled in Demand." We work with children after school tutoring and teaching them production and storytelling and art. I am also the director of Disabled Hotline. I direct a 30 minute show that airs on Manhattan Neighborhood Network, public television. I’m 34 years old….

EMILY MILLER: What did you like about the Self Advocacy / AmeriCorps program that made you want to join?

RAYMOND GARCIA: I liked the fact that they had people with disabilities discussing the problems that we have with going to school and getting jobs instead of people who have never been disabled trying to explain how difficult it is to people who are not disabled.

EMILY MILLER: What about the living allowance and the educational award?

RAYMOND GARCIA: Well that’s also great because early on in my college I took out a loan which I want to pay off and get it off my record.

2. DISABILITY AWARENESS: real audio clip icon

EMILY MILLER: Do you think that people make assumptions about what you can and can’t do?

RAYMOND GARCIA: Yes. The biggest assumption that most people have is that when I am in the street they think that I’m homeless. And yesterday as I was coming home from volunteer work I was at a bus stop and a van with two women stopped and they were offering me money. And I was just admiring the car because I had never seen a BMW 4X4 Jeep. It was gorgeous! I think that they assumed that I was begging for money. And the same thing [happens] when I volunteer at the radio station on campus and they barely ask me to do anything they consider to be difficult. The manager of the radio station is great. He throws work at me, which is great. But everybody else has the assumption that I can’t do it or that I won’t understand it.

EMILY MILLER: Are you ever in situations where you need assistance and you have to ask for it?

RAYMOND GARCIA: Well, if I don’t know but generally, I like to prepare. When I went to Albany, I couldn’t get into bed it was too high up so I needed help to get into bed. So I just called one of the people from AmeriCorps to come to the room and help me into bed. Situations like that I don’t have a problem with. I don’t get embarrassed. If I fall out of my chair, I can’t back onto my chair. I will call for help. But If it’s something that I know that I can do, then I prefer to do it [rather] than ask somebody to help me.

EMILY MILLER: Do you find that people assume that you need help with a lot of things that you don’t need help with?

RAYMOND GARCIA: Oh yeah, every time I’m going somewhere, I’m crossing the street someone will come behind the wheel chair wanting to push me and I’ll say, “ No thank you, no thank you, no thank you.” I usually have to grab onto my wheels in order to stop them from pushing the chair. I have stuff like that all the time.

EMILY MILLER: Is there anything else about you that you’d people to know?

RAYMOND GARCIA: What I hate it when people think that I’m stupid. That’s my biggest thing: they see the wheelchair and they also think that I have mental problems or no education whatsoever. I am educated. I have a college degree. I’m going for my second college degree. I’m going to go for my masters. So I want people not to assume that I’m dumb. They know I can’t walk and I can’t reach things in high places but I’m not dumb.

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©The National Service Inclusion Project (NSIP) is a training and technical assistance provider on disability inclusion. NSIP partners with the Association on University Centers on Disability, National Council on Independent Living, Association on Higher Education and Disability and National Down Syndrome Congress to build connections between disability organizations and all CNCS grantees, including national directs, to increase the participation of people with disabilities in national service.