"If they don't see me as a human being, if they only see my equipment, I know that I can get whatever I want out of them. As long as this is not used pathologically, but to create beneficial change for others, it is a strength.
"Disability can be very powerful. We used the power of disability in political strategies many times. Once when we were at a meeting with Governor Reagan, we sent Hale Zukas to go talk to him. If you know Hale, one of the founders of Berkeley CIL, then you know that Hale has severe cerebral palsy. He drives his chair with a head pointer and has a speech impairment.
So we sent Hale to go get Reagan, while on the side, next to him, we placed this beautiful woman with paraplegia who knew our agenda as well as Hale did. When Reagan saw Hale, he was very uncomfortable, and automatically latched on to this woman who proceeded to lay out our agenda.
"I remember meeting with the leaders of the American Indian Movement before they were arrested. I met with Stokeley Carmichael and others in the Black Power movement. When I told them that we were all fighting the same civil rights battle, they didn't believe me; they didn't understand our similarities. I did. Even now, many people don't realize the parallels.