AboutAbled Banner features the silhouettes of variously abled people against a selection of world city icons in gradient green to match the Abled logo set against a sunrise over the curve of the Earth as seen from space.
AboutAbled Post Banner shows Abled Co-Founder Laura Meddens looking out at the seaside at sunset in Curaçao with the text Laura Meddens: An Abled Vision For Global Accessibility, Inclusion and Equality. Photo by Artist, Sculptor,Photographer and Jeweler Jolanta Pawlak. Click here to go to Jolanta's webpage.

Photo shows Laura Meddens kneeling beside her Seeing EYe Guide dog Wagner, who is a golden retriver on the beach in front of the Riu Palace resort in Aruba. Laura has blond hair and is wearing a baby blue short sleeved t-shirt with silver buttons and blue jeans and a pair of sport sunglasses with black frame with white trim.

 

A mission to take the ‘dis’ out of disabled via more accessible information and technology

Laura Meddens has a vision of a world where everyone can live a more Abled® life, especially persons living with special needs, and those living with chronic health conditions.

Laura has this vision, despite the fact she can no longer see.

But it’s because of that fact she has the insight into a world where public attitudes and advancing technology have been both friend and foe to persons with special needs. She hates to see anyone being marginalized by a lack of awareness or accessibility.

 

Photo by David Gilbert shows a man with both legs amputated wearing a camouflage jacket and sitting in a wheelchair with a cup in his lap waiting for passersby on the Hungerford Bridge in London to give him aid money.

 

To that end, Laura and her partners have a mission to take the ‘dis’ out of ‘disabled’ by building a global online and offline digital ecosystem of accessible and inclusive Communities, Content, Products, Services and Technology that will help everyone, disabled or not, to make more-informed choices for a better quality of life.

 

A plan for improved independence and the dignity of self-sufficiency

 

Abled logo banner shows the word Abled in a gradient  green color next to a stylized gradient green A composed of a rounded triangle with a checkmark cut out of it followed by the words Everyone, Everything, Everywhere. A subtitle follows that says Accessible and inclusive Communities, Content, Products, Services, technology, all set against a stylized green map of the world set on a digitized grid. Along the bottom are black silhouettes of variously abled persons walking across the horizon with gradient green icons of world cities behind them, such as the Statue of Liberty, The Sears Tower, The CN Tower in Toronto, Big Ben in London and so on.

 

They plan to achieve this by developing applications and digital devices that will make it easier for persons with special needs to use technology for learning, training and employment purposes, and for improved independence, mobility and self-sufficiency in daily living.

The Abled® digital ecosystem will also work in reverse to bring improved accessibility options to the business community by working with companies to be more inclusive in their hiring and to reduce the barriers to consumers with special needs for more accessible interactions.

It’s a model of social enterprise designed to open new career pathways for persons who face the highest levels of unemployment and exclusion.

 

As the saying goes, Laura Meddens ‘walks the talk’

 

Abled Co-Founder Laura Meddens is shown in a studio portrait against a stylized gradient green map of the world wearing a black blouse and suit jacket with white piping.

 

She knows what that unemployment and exclusion feels like. After losing part of her sight to the consequences of medical negligence, Laura felt very isolated and marginalized, but still went on to raise two children and continue her university studies in Psychology and English Literature.

 

Abled Co-Founder Laura Meddens is shown with her beloved guide dog Wagner, the first Seeing Eye guide dog in the Caribbean. Wagner is a Golden retriever.The barrier of that isolation was broken when she got her guide-dog Wagner from The Seeing Eye®  training school in Morristown, New Jersey. 

‘Waggie’, as he was called, became the first Seeing Eye® guide dog in the Caribbean and he helped Laura to get out of her house and return to more of the social world that left her behind.

But there were still obstacles. Laura and Wagner were turned away from banks, supermarkets and other places where normally-sighted people could go because of the lack of awareness about guide-dogs on the island.

That prompted her to form The Laura and Wagner Foundation in 2008 to educate people about the role of guide-dogs and other disability issues.

 

 

That original vision and mission expanded after a groundswell of interest to a number of articles Laura wrote that were published on the Foundation’s website. She began hearing from more people living in Curacao and around the world who shared their own stories of being marginalized and shut away because they were living with an impairment or chronic health condition. 

 

Opening eyes and opening doors

 

A montage of the Laura And Wagner Foundations activities shows photos of the old Dutch architecture of Punda in Curaçao as well as Laura and her fellow Board members, Laura and Wagner's appearances at local schools, on the radio, and out walking along the seashore, as well as a photo of the I am Amsterdam letter sculpture in Amsterdam.

 

The Laura and Wagner Foundation is a Curaçao-based Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) that is also part of the ANBI Registry in the Netherlands. 

Laura and Wagner made the rounds of local schools to start planting the seeds of awareness about disability issues and guide dog access, while Waggie’s veterinarian on the island, Dr. Odette Doest, accompanied Laura to teach the students about dog safety.

They and the Foundation’s Board members also made the rounds of radio and TV interview programs, while the Foundation’s public awareness campaign was featured on billboards (thanks to the support of iCars.tv), and in local magazines and newspapers.

 

An Abled vision comes into focus and starts to take shape

 

Upon her family’s relocation to the Netherlands in 2007, Laura soon discovered there were ongoing accessibility issues to work on.

After a colleague observed how Laura interacted with existing assistive software and computers, they began working together towards designing solutions that will improve the experience and broaden the accessibility.

 

Laura Meddens is seen working on an Apple computer laptop in the Riu Palace Hotel in Aruba while on a trip to raise awareness about disability issues and rights.

 

The plan is to build a centralized family of networks or ‘verticals’ at Abled.com that will start as information networks while building a base of users, eventually scaling into an online global marketplace with consolidated and enhanced accessibility. Now that the branding identity has been protected with international Trademarks, the global portal is now a work-in-progress.

It will be used as a base to solicit development funding for smartphone/tablet applications that will become part of the in-hand ‘dashboard’ for all users,  especially those with special needs.

The application will also interface with other Abled® devices that will offer easier functionality and improved mobility options that will also be a gateway for training and employment opportunities in mobility guidance and media production for persons with special needs in our Abled360 and AbledProductions divisions; a case of the disabled helping the disabled to become ‘abled’.

 

Dedicated to the memory of Wagner, the first Seeing Eye® dog in the Caribbean

 

Laura and Wagner are seen sitting on some large coral boulders next to a Divi Divi tree with the turquoise blue Caribbean Sea behind them

 

It’s an effort that is dedicated to her real ‘liberator’, her former guide dog Wagner. ‘Waggie’, as he was known to everyone was a great ambassador for Laura’s Foundation. He fought a brave two and a half year battle against Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and helped to advance research into T-Cell therapies, with the hope of developing non-toxic cancer treatments for humans, before his passing in May, 2013.

 

Laura Meddens sits with Waggie in the waiting area of the Small Animal Clinic at Texas A&M University's College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences in College Station, Texas.

 

The sad irony was that, just when Laura needed Waggie the most, as she lost her remaining sight that had been stable for almost 15 years to the consequences of the previous medical negligence and more recent domestic violence, it was her turn to guide Waggie through his treatments. (You can read more about Waggie’s legacy here.)

 

Laura Meddens bids a sad farewell to her guide dog Waggie

 

As she begins to write new chapters without her beloved guide, Laura is very proud of how the Abled® model is an agent of positive social change while opening new avenues of commerce and career development for many people who wouldn’t otherwise have opportunities for self-sustainability, let alone, self-improvement.

Laura says, this equality of opportunity and dignity is “a basic human right that no one should ever have to beg for”.

And as Abled® evolves and grows, Laura is confident no one will have to.

 

For more information about Donation, Sponsorship and Investment opportunities, please email info@Abled.com

 

Laura Meddens and her faithful guide dog Wagner are shown in silhouette walking against a brilliant orange sunset on the sea on the Caribbean island of Curaçao.

Networks Banner

 

We’re building global networks to help everyone live a more Abled® life with an emphasis on Communities, Content, Products, Services and Technology that are fully accessible and inclusive to persons with special needs, including applications and devices that contribute to more independence and the dignity of self-sustainability.

It’s a work in progress and some of our link banners may lead to an ‘Under Construction’ page, but we hope you’ll visit often to watch our evolution as more links go live, and we thank you for your kind interest and support.

 

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