Making Masks Accessible

accessible maskYou can’t go anywhere these days without a mask — literally. With mask mandates almost universal, it figures that a great deal of attention would be paid to improving the comfort and accessibility of 2020’s most-in-demand facial accessory. In July we highlighted Montana quad Tyler Stosich’s novel adaptation that allowed him to control his sip-and-puff chair while wearing an N95 mask. Hot on Stosich’s heels, Shepherd Center’s Assistive Technology Center created three guides that show users how to easily and quickly modify masks for their specific needs. The first guide follows in Stosich’s tracks with instructions to adapt an N95 for sip-and-puff in five minutes. The second guide shows how to do the same just as quickly with a fabric mask. The final guide shows how to insert a clear vinyl window into a mask for lip visibility in less than 30 minutes. Download the step-by-step guides at

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D&D Combat Wheelchair Miniatures
Ready for Battle

Dungeons & DragonsTabletop role-playing game and fantasy enthusiasts rejoice! Now you can roll into dungeons or fight the next dragon with a wheelchair-using fantasy hero. Strata Miniatures, a United Kingdom-based maker of figurines, has designed a set of miniatures for Dungeons & Dragons that take disability representation to the next level: a fierce human druid, a sly elf rogue, a gentle tiefling cleric, and a battle-ready dwarf barbarian. All four were specifically designed to play with the new combat wheelchair rules designed by D&D innovator and disability advocate Sara Thompson. According to the gaming website Kotaku, Thompson’s rules allow players to “to use magical wheelchairs with super-tough wheels, the ability to float (take that, stairs), and other mystical abilities. They are built for comfort, contain plenty of gear storage, and can even be used to attack enemies, just like my real wheelchair.”

Check out Thompson’s Patreon for the combat wheelchair rules,, or visit to buy the figurines or download the 3D printing instructions. Proceeds will be donated to Ehlers-Danlos Support UK.

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Strike a Pose

Vogue magazine chose disability activist and author Alice Wong as one of “The 20 Remarkable Activists On Vogue’s September Cover [Who] Are Ready To Change The World.” According to a press release, the September/October 2020 issue marks the first time in Vogue’s 128-year history that all of the magazine’s 26 global editions will feature the same editorial theme. Disability Visibility: First Person Stories from the Twenty-First Century, the essay collection edited by Wong, was released this June and is available everywhere. Vogue is available on newsstands and online at


In an alternate timeline, the world would be basking in the glow of the Tokyo Paralympics this month. Thanks to COVID-19, the Games will have to wait, but if you’re jonesing for some adaptive athletics, Netflix may have the fix you need. Rising Phoenix is a new documentary on the history and importance of the Paralympics. The movie features an array of athletes, including American stars Tatyana McFadden and Matt Stutzman. Watch it this month on Netflix.


NorCal SCI has assembled a collection of virtual SCI-focused events that would make its Silicon Valley neighbors proud. From cooking to electrical stimulation to pain management, the online presentations are loaded with valuable information. Check for the schedule of upcoming presentations or to enjoy the online archive.

Barbie’s New Look

Barbie finally rolled into the 21st century this June when toymaker Mattel launched its first Black Barbie figurine that uses a wheelchair. While Mattel has made wheelchair-using Barbies before, this is the first Black Barbie to use a wheelchair, and the first one that actually fits into current Barbie Dreamhouses. The new doll is part of the Barbie Fashionistas line. It has natural hair and comes with a pink ramp and a modern-looking wheelchair. A Mattel representative told that the new doll was introduced to the Fashionistas line alongside others to help the collection “be more reflective of the world girls see around them.” The Fashionistas line includes dolls with diverse body types and prosthetic limbs. The new Black wheelchair-using Barbie is available everywhere for $15-19.

Wheels of Courage

Award-winning journalist David Davis has written for some of the most prominent media outlets in the country, and now he turns his gaze to a group of World War II veterans who pioneered the sport of wheelchair basketball, and in the process, changed how America sees wheelchair users. Wheels of Courage is the best kind of nonfiction — it’s packed with history, reads like a fast-paced novel and will give you a new understanding of the origins of disability culture as we know it. Order direct online at or buy wherever you buy books.