Meet Alycia Anderson | Disability Advocate
Alycia’s Journey to Disabling Ableism
Alycia Anderson: Welcome to Pushing Forward with Alycia, a podcast that gives disability a voice. Each week we will explore topics like confidence, ambition, resilience, and finding success against all odds. We are creating a collective community that believes that all things are possible for all people.
Open hearts. Clear paths. Let’s go.
Welcome to the official launch of Pushing Forward with Alycia. I am Alycia. Thank you so much for listening in, I am so excited. I cannot even believe this is a project that I have been working on and am really excited to launch. I am a little afraid to launch, to be honest with you. We are pushing through that. We are pushing forward through fear to move forward to the next stage of this business and platform and everything that I am doing.
So, thank you. Welcome, so pumped. This is our podcast.
I want this podcast to be a place that is safe and respectful but allows for open communication and access for everybody to engage and share their stories and perspectives. I am Alycia. I am a disabled woman. I am an empowered disabled woman at this point in my life, but it has taken some time. And, what I have found over my life is people are kind of interested in the path that I am on. I grew up with my disability. I live my life from a wheelchair. The stories and the perspective that you are going to hear from me is that, a perspective of somebody, a little girl to a woman living a life with a disability.
And this is a conversation that needs to be had, more and more, and louder and louder. And it needs to be included in advocacy and in the conversations of inclusion that we are having in society today.
So, that is what we are going to do on this podcast. We are going to dive into pushing forward through the fear that we might have of having these types of conversations. We are going to be open with each other about our backgrounds, our differences, whether you have a disability or not. We are going to create conversation and community around these things, and this is how we progress as a society, how we progress humanity, how we progress and push forward inclusion for everyone.
And, it is now 2023 so it is time for, past time for what we are taking some action toward. We are going to push forward to advance the human experience together, advance opportunities, advance belief in ourselves, advance the belief that we have in others.
As a disabled person, there has been a lot of default of impossible for her. Not possible. No way. Absolutely not, and this broadcast is going to turn off, or disable, all of that ableism and it is going to push us forward in believing in the possibilities for everyone as a default, and this is going to create further avenues of inclusion.
It creates further avenues of allyship where we are going to learn from each other’s backgrounds. And most of the time it is going to be from a background that we are unfamiliar with. Which is, great.
And then? We are going to take what we have learned, little nuggets, and we are going to implement them and share them in our own lives and in our careers in some way.
I want you to speak up. I want you to offer amazing opportunities to people that you might not have prior. I want you to challenge the status quo and in doing so we are creating. Bridges and pathways that are accessible to every human being in this life. We do this by leaning into our differences. These are the things that we might be afraid to lean into, the things that make us different from someone else.
Leaning into those things as beautiful opportunities to persevere and to manifest the representation that each one of us are seeking in our lives, in our careers, in the dreams that we are chasing.
I am here to help us collectively embrace being inclusive by stepping, or rolling out of, the shadows and into our fullest potentials.
And in that, we will find that these are the moments that matter. These are the really, really, really cool moments that encourage us to push forward. Again and again, and again, and again.
Because it feels good to push through adversity and see what is on the other side of it.
Our stories define who has found seats at the table of opportunity. Our stories define who has yet to find a seat at the table of opportunity and our stories absolutely define whose voices still need to be heard.
I am going to share with you the power of my differences to hopefully encourage you to do the same.
And in that we will uncover the possibilities in each of our lives by embracing and seeing the many layers of who we are, and begin believing that anything is possible in this path. Anything is possible, but we have to be willing to put in the hard work by pushing fear aside and putting in some effort.
We are going to talk about some of the topics that I have seen in my life that most are afraid of.
We are going to talk about disability. It is not a bad word. We are going to talk about Ableism and disabling it. We are going to talk about dating, marriage, travel, fitness, all of it, with disability included in it.
We are going to talk about how I have become a CEO and a woman with a disability that can get the job done. We are going to talk about men and women from our past that are powerful in their space. We are gonna talk about advocacy today in our second segment. That is the thing we are gonna talk about. That is what we are diving into first. Advocacy, which is something that I was afraid of for a lot of my life.
We are gonna talk about creating moments that matter. We are gonna discover more about the human experience. We are going to discover more about humanity. We are going to discover more about each other, and in that, we are going to open our hearts to the belief that anything is possible for each and every single one of us. And especially for those that we might have counted out, prior.
This is an opportunity for us to grow together. We are pushing forward through discrimination through exclusion, through stereotypes, through marginalization, through disbelief and we will discover what is on the other side of all of this.
So, let’s do it together. We are going to take a quick break and then we are going to jump into advocacy. I am inviting my husband on as our very first special guest. He is my business partner. He is, my love. He is everything, and him and I are advocates for disability inclusion together. We are running this business together, so, I definitely want him to be the first one on. So, then take a quick break. And come right back.
[pause for break]
Alycia Anderson: I want to talk about advocacy. I would proudly love to introduce my handsome husband, Marsten Anderson, he goes by Marty. He is my business partner. He is my best friend. He helps me create and write and do all kinds of really cool things for our business, and we are going to dive into advocacy together. Hey, what do you think?
Marty Anderson: I want to say first thank you for having me on the Pushing Forward with Alycia podcast. I am so excited to be the first guest and I am happy to share all about our experiences and our lives, living with disabilities, with the community here that we are going to be building and just want to say I am so proud of you, and I think that this is awesome. To get another little mark on your belt of achievements and all of that.
OK. So let me just kind of introduce myself. I have been a successful web developer for the past 20 years working in technology building websites, helping people launch products, helping people promote and grow their services and product offerings, and have been so proud to help build the Alycia Anderson Company.
Wow, it has been years now that we have been doing this together and you are the perfect face and have the perfect message to share disability inclusion with the world. Well, and it has been so exciting to help build your website and make everything accessible and listen and hear about all the things that you talk about with all the corporations globally that you speak with and the things that they are challenged with and how you can help bring light and different things to the message, and how you help them overcome the awkwardness in learning and how to include people with disabilities in the workforce. And in life.
Alycia Anderson: We’re both doing that behind the scenes, all right. We are creating together and maybe you can share about you a little bit, about your disability. So, the audience can get a little bit of framework behind that.
Marty Anderson: I fell out of a car when I was 22 months old, just like my wife. I have lived basically my whole life with a disability. My nerves were torn from my spinal cord from my right leg, and as a result I have used multiple forms of adaptations to get around for mobility. I have used leg braces, crutches, wheelchairs. In fact, I was in a leg or a full body cast for two years right after the accident. And in my formative years, I sat there immobile and watched.
I have eight sisters and a lot of people in my family. So, they were all running around while I was stuck there just watching and observing. And I would get out of that cast and learn to grow up.
I was blessed with a very strong mom who was an advocate for me. She got me into everything that I felt like I wanted to do from Little League to Soccer to karate, all playing with able bodied kids, and then even she would even help me learn how to play tennis in a wheelchair. She was a tennis player and I started playing wheelchair tennis at the age of 13. I did very well and was professional in the sport and made it all the way to the Team USA and on to World Team Cup, Team USA in 2010, just before we were married.
I love to talk about sports, but today we are talking about pushing forward and introducing the podcast, and I believe we are going to be jumping into advocacy.
Alycia Anderson: This is really sort of the framework around the podcast, which is advocating for inclusion of people with disabilities, and really anyone that that is different. There was a quote one time I remember a saying that was about advocacy and it said something like: advocacy is to change what is today into what should be tomorrow.
For us, like through our lives there has been a lot of “No’s.” There has been a lot of exclusion. There has been a lot of that. It has been required for first of all our parents and our allies to advocate for us, to have opportunities. If there was not an advocate there advocating for it, we would have been left on the sidelines. And the importance of having a voice and advocating for others is so incredibly powerful, and we have seen that first hand in our life paths. And I thought that it would be important to kind of talk about the path of advocacy and how it is affected our lives, but also what we are trying to do with the work of advocacy to kind of push forward opportunities for others.
Marty Anderson: You know, it is funny how advocacy works. It is like we have had so many great people in our past that have lifted us up, helped us realize our potential, who have believed in us before, we were willing to believe in ourselves and how it is circular and how it turns into now. We are advocates helping those who do not have their voice fully functional yet and ready to talk about it. To say, look, you deserve these opportunities. You deserve this just like everybody else in the world.
Alycia Anderson: Not everybody is going to want to use their voice and be the person that is going to advocate for this type of thing that we are doing, and that is OK. Like, not all of us need to share our stories. Nobody is required to step or roll into this space. Pushing forward ideas that maybe have not been fully represented in our society, and this is something that we are choosing to do because we see the need. There is a lot of other advocates out there that are advocating for disability inclusion, but I think it is important to note that this is not a requirement for anyone. We have made the decision to be vulnerable, to sometimes be brave in the path of advocacy and to hopefully create opportunities.
Marty Anderson: I think it comes from our unique perspectives in the disability community where we have both virtually lived every life experience from young toddlers all the way to adults. And how it was to be in school, and how it was to fit in, and how it was to get into dating, and how it was to get your first job and all the different struggles that there have been in life. And we are still seeing them today. With being successful and how do we find entertainment that is willing to be inclusive for people with disabilities, how do we find travel accommodations work? How do hotels, how do rent a car? Every single situation, whether we are going to the grocery store or just out pushing our dog.
People are watching us, and you say this all the time in your speeches. It makes us bridges for all to see what is possible in this world.
That is where I think the the advocacy comes. You and I have both talked about it, and we talk about it all the time is, how can we share our life experiences to help make it easier and push forward the possibilities for those that follow us?
Alycia Anderson: And I think back to past advocates that were from history specifically Judith Huemann. Who has recently passed away, but she was really the queen of the disability rights movement. She is one of the prominent voices in advocacy for people with disabilities to. And she advanced legislation and the ADA, Americans with Disabilities Act, and all kinds of things that have really given and allotted people with disabilities today, the freedoms to be included to access, to be able to go to work, to go to school and have accessibility and play and all of that. We are going to dive into, I am sure, her story more as this podcast goes on and all of those topics like accessibility and things like that. But when I think of advocacy, one of the quotes that she said that always sticks in my mind is, “why do we see disability differently than any other aspect of being human?”
Marty Anderson: That’s a great question.
Alycia Anderson: I think that is something that is really important for us to reflect on today and moving forward, especially our next episode, we are going to talk about ableism and why we need advocacy for people with disabilities in our community, and in our society, and in the world today, is because of ableism, and it is because we are looking at people with these abilities differently than every other aspect of being human.
So, Judy completely hit it on the nose with that statement and through advocacy through using our voices and sharing stories of humanity, we start to see the humanity in each of us.
Marty Anderson: We build this message together and we talk about it all the time, and one of the great points is that disability is not a “them” conversation it is an “us” conversation.
It is our common ground as it literally crosses every gender, racial, cultural line there is and disability is going to touch our lives, every one of our lives in some way, shape or form in another, over our lifespan whether it is temporary, permanent, or all of these different things.
So, it is really our common ground and it is the largest marginalized group on the planet, 15% of the people, one-in-four Americans.
And talking about the laws like the ADA and Rehabilitation Act and all the things that are happening, Title IX, affirmative action and all these things are great to just share about how we need to celebrate them and lift them up because it is not about dividing and giving opportunities to people that do not deserve it.
It is about giving opportunities to people that do not have the opportunities, that have been traditionally excluded in life. You know, it is going to be awesome because we can talk about how it is all over the world too.
Alycia Anderson: Let us bring awareness to blatant exclusion. Let us realize that it has literally been there forever and I think that through advocacy, we will start to inspire and shift traditional ableistic mindsets in the hopes that we are creating space for everyone in the workplace and educational settings and opportunities.
I am hoping that this podcast is going to be another place for all of us to have the realization that we are all different.
We all have things that we need to push through to advance, and we all face adversities. We all face fears. The power is in overcoming them and pushing through it to get to the next one. And I am excited to be on this journey. I am super happy that you are supporting me and being my partner on this journey.
Marty Anderson: I think that this is great, and important because of the fact that, it gives the opportunity to talk about disability and inclusion of people with disabilities on a regular basis.
The more we talk about it, the more natural it becomes. It is like me as an athlete, and the more I practice, the better I get at it.
Your podcast and your platform. And the people that are hiring you and hearing the message and your blasts on LinkedIn and social media and all of this stuff… and now your podcast, is just creating more of the conversation. Kudos to you and thanks again for including me.
Alycia Anderson: You finally made it to the stage, sweetie.
Marty Anderson: I cannot wait to be your favorite fan.
Alycia Anderson: Thank you so much. For joining Sweetie, I really appreciate it, but for today. This is a rap. So, I am grateful again for you all to sit in and be a part of the first episode of Pushing Forward with Alycia.
This podcast is going to be about disabling ableism. It is going to be about overcoming adversity and it is going to be about reaching goals in dreams, and believing in possible.
Each week we are going to explore current affairs. We are going to explore resiliency, we are going to explore successes, failures, all of it.
This is Pushing Forward with Alycia and that is how we roll!