Episode 006 -- Meet AbiliTrek

In this week's episode, I talk with Daman Wandke, the founder and CEO of AbiliTrek, and Kyanne Flint, the CAO of AbiliTrek.  More than 19 million people with disabilities travel each year in the US. They are working to make that experience better. Here is some background on them from the AbiliTrek page.

Daman Wandke – Founder, CEO


Daman Wandke, MBA, is the Chief Executive Officer, as well as a technology consultant and national disability advocate. Daman is an avid traveler; traveling for both business and pleasure. “Seeing that travelers with disabilities need to be able to travel without having to worry about not having an appropriate hotel room when they arrive at their destination”, Daman set out to find a solution; hence, the birth of AbiliTrek. AbiliTrek’s goal is to empower the disability community with the Ability to Trek without boundaries.

Before working on AbiliTrek full time, he was an Accessibility Analyst at SSB BART Group, an IT accessibility consulting firm, where he performed audits of clients’ websites, mobile applications, and other IT products. He currently serves on two nonprofit Boards of Directors, the Northwest Access Fund and PolicyWorks. Daman brings to AbiliTrek his technology and business knowledge with his first-hand experience of traveling with a disability.

Kyann Flint – Chief Accessibility Officer
Kyann Flint, the Chief Accessibility Officer, is an alum of Western Washington University where she studied Political Science and graduated with a Bachelors of Arts in Humanities and Social Sciences. A passionate disability advocate, Kyann’s motto is to Defy the Defined Disability – she blogs her insights at Life from a Lame Perspective where she shares her experiences as a person who is wheelchair mobile and the frustrations that come from society’s social barriers. Flint, loves writing, spending time with her fabulous friends and family, exploring the outdoors, drinking really good tea and coffee and of course, traveling!

Special thanks to my awesome OT Olivia for connecting us.

AbiliTrek is developing a crowdsourced and crowdfunded platform to develop a detailed review site for travel and restaurant services that focuses on the details of accessibility issues. Since accessibility is not a one-size-fits-all thing, simply saying something is accessible doesn't really give us enough information.  AbiliTrek aims to solve that problem.

You can learn more in this episode, and you can check out their Indiegogo for more information or to help fund it.  Here is a video about the project.


During the talk Daman and Kyanne shared a number of tips for travel and for business. Here are a few of them

  • Call ahead to your prospective hotel and ask detailed questions about accessible rooms. Just because it's accessible, doesn't mean it has a roll in shower.
  • Ask them to email you pictures of the room if you're not sure.
  • If you reserve an accessible room and they give it away before you check in, they need to find you one at another hotel.
  • Most complimentary hotel airport shuttles are not wheel chair compatible. In that case the hotel must pay for alternative transportation between the airport and hotel.
  • If your wheel chair has removable parts, take them off before checking your chair at the airport. If you don't they will get broken or lost.
  • Get multiple gate check tickets for the different parts of a wheel chair incase the get separated or lost.
  • Don't just reserve an accessible room. when you make the reservation contact the hotel and ask them to block that specific room for you.
  • When you fly with a wheelchair, you will likely be the first one on the plane and the last one off. This makes your flight longer.
  • Always plan on a long layover. Don't try to cut it close.
  • Have business cards for yourself and organization when you meet people.
  • Build, maintain, and rely on your network.
  • When you have an idea for a business, take some time to map it out in detail to think through challenges and opportunities.
  • If your interested in a project, find folks who've done it or something similar before and learn from them.
  • Volunteer leadership positions are a great way to gain experience and grow your network.
  • If you have a tech startup, know that you are likely to pivot, and be ready to do so before it's too late.

For me, the most important take-away is if you have a disability and an idea for a business or desire to travel -- go do it.

For more information about AbiliTrek, you can engage with them here:


Hack of the Week

Get a second cane (or other mobility aid).

Climbing stairs can be hard. It can be even harder when you're carrying a cane, too, right? After all, you are going to need that cane at the other end of the steps.

Unless, of course, you have another cane.

I have my main cane (s) for use downstairs and when I go out. I also have another cane that I keep upstairs. No need to bring one on the stairs with me.

Where do we go from here?

  1. Check out AbiliTrek's Indiegogo Campaign
  2. Follow AbiliTrek on their assorted social media channels
  3. Do you travel with a disability? What are your thoughts and experiences? Tell us in the comments below.
  4. Subscribe to Strokecast in your favorite podcast app.
  5. Don't get best...get better.


Here is the latest episode of The Strokecast


Episode 054 -- Nose Contact and Slow is Smooth Smooth is Fast



2-Minute Tip: Use Nose Contact


Using eye contact effectively is an important skill for speakers to master. It helps the audience feel that the speaker cares. It emphasizes how the speaker and audience members are all participating in a shared experience.  Looking at audience members' eyes can be unnerving for some speakers, though.


The solution is nose contact. Instead of looking at the eyes of the audience, try looking at the bridge of the nose. The audience members will still think the speaker is making eye contact, but it can be more comfortable for the speaker.


Post Tip Discussion: Slow is Smooth and Smooth is Fast


Rushing gets us into trouble. Whether it's while hunting for a job, meeting folks at a conference, relearning how to walk, persuading a crowd, or training learners, there's a temptation to take the fast way to save time. Unfortunately, it doesn't actually save time. 


To really be efficient, its often more important to slow down and get it right. By focusing on the basic elements and going slowly, we can master the fundamentals. That's how you get to a smooth process, where execution is clean and simple. And once we have that level of skill, prep, or competence, then things go faster.


In this section, I included about a minute of audio from the Cliff Ravenscraft show, Episode 520.  By slowing down, Cliff was able to make his participation in a conference even more valuable by building deeper relationships now and in the future with folks he met there.  You can find Cliff's whole episode here.


Call To Action:


  • How doe Slow is Smooth/Smooth is Fast apply to your own life or public speaking? Let us know in the comments below.
  • If you haven't already done so, please subscribe to 2-Minute Talk Tips in your favorite podcast app.
  • Try some nose contact at your next talk.
  • Don't get best; get better.

Check out this episode!


Episode 005 -- Prevent Shoulder Subluxation



Welcome to Week 5 of the Strokecast. What do you think so far? Let me know in the comments below, or email me at Bill@strokecast.com

You may have noticed the "Bill Suggests" menu at the top of the page. That's a collection of books and tools related to stroke recovery or public speaking that I find useful. They are also affiliate links. That means that if you click on them Amazon will send me a portion of the sales for the next 24 hours. It doesn't change your pricing or impact you in anyway. If you see a link to a product on Amazon on this site, you can assume it's an affiliate link.

In Episode 004 last week, I talked about my experience on the JoCo cruise with a focus on disabilities. I actually travelled with my friend Jon Clarke this year and we recorded an episode of his podcast over the course of several days. In it, he tries to figure out just what this whole cruise thing is. You can hear this discussion here, or subscribe to Caffeinated Comics in your favorite podcast app.

Shoulder Subluxation

The shoulder is a mess of a joint. When hemiparesis sets in, as happened after my stroke, it means the arm (and leg) on that side of the body stop working. Since the shoulder is such a complicated amalgam of muscle, bone, tendon, and ligament, it has to work right to stay together. Subluxation is basically what happens when the shoulder starts to pull itself apart.

When this happens, it's difficult to exercise, it's difficult to get the rest of the arm back on line, and it can hurt.

There are two main ways to prevent shoulder subluxation and to minimize it -- support and exercise.

[Bill wearing the GivMohr sling Bill wearing the GivMohr sling


Support is about minimizing gravity's insidious effects. It can include:

Ultimately the way to address it for most folks is exercise. It's why I do things like:

  • Shoulder shrugs
  • Shoulder rolls
  • Shoulder blade pinches
  • Cross body reaching
  • ...and more

Long term, strength is key. To get the strength,

  1. Get the exercise
  2. Get the fuel
  3. Get the support
  4. Get the rest

Hack of the week

"]Cane in a mop holder Mermaid cane in a mop holder 

Mop Holders are great tools for holding my cane. I have about 6 of them stuck up around my apartment in the living room, the bedroom, the bathroom, and near the dining table. I can easily clip my cane to the wall so no one trips on it, and I can still grab it easily and quickly when I want it. I also lose it less often since I know where to look.

Where do we go from here?

  • Do you have a story you'd like to share on Strokecast? Email me at Bill@strokecast.com.
  • How do you deal with sublux? Let us know in the comments below.
  • If you enjoy Strokecast, please subscribe to the show in your favorite Podcast app.
  • If you use a cane, check out the mop holders you can mount around your home or office.
  • Don't get best...get better.


Here is the latest episode of The Strokecast


Episode 053 -- Don't Change Your Caffeine and The Power of Rituals


2-Minute Tip: Don't Change Your Caffeine Consumption


It can be tempting the morning of a big speech to load up on coffee and enjoy that miraculous substance. If that's part of your standard morning ritual, that's fine. Go for it. 


But don't suddenly double or triple your standard consumption. I get that you may feel tired or nervous, but excess coffee will not help. Instead, you will just ramp up the anxiety even further or cause other last minute biological challenges.


You are much better off getting a good night sleep the night before and giving your body what it has come to expect in the morning.


Post Tip Discussion: The Power of Rituals


Rituals, like the crowning of a new king in the Black Panther movie are powerful things. Whether they are religious, civic, personal, cultural, or familial, the bond a community together. They become ingrained from an early age and follow us throughout our lives. disregarding a community's rituals is a great way to get banned from the community and marked as an outsider.


It's important for speakers to understand or at least respect the rituals of the communities they speak to. As I discussed in Episode 035, persuasion depends on engaging the audience with Pathos, Ethos, and Logos. Rituals play into the Pathos side of that triangle.


Ignoring, disregarding, or mocking a community's rituals makes it harder to persuade them, as you burn up Pathos and throw away good will. Do so at your own risk.


Call To Action:


  • Think about the rituals in your life, your family, and your organization. How can you leverage them to build deeper bonds?
  • Consider what rituals you can introduce to your team meetings that will help center everyone and help them be more present.
  • Before your next big talk, maintain your standard caffeine consumption.
  • Don't get best...get better.

Check out this episode!


Episode 004 -- JoCo Cruise


Strokecast is available on more platforms including:

I've begun compiling a list of Stroke support Facebook groups here.

Have you read the Stroke Smart magazine put out by the National Stroke association? You can sign up for a subscription here.

Let's Talk about Cruising


[caption id="attachment_87" align="alignleft" width="300"]Deck 10 of the ms Oosterdam in port at Cabo San Lucas. I did a full round of PT and OT exercises at the rail of the ms Oosterdam overlooking Cabo San Lucas.[/caption]

Last month I joined the 8th Annual JoCo Cruise. It was my 6th time with the group and my first as a traveler with disabilities.

It's a full boat charter of Holland America's ms Oosterdam. 1500 folks joined us for this week-long nerd summer camp. I always have a great time and recommend it to anyone interested in geeky pursuits, board gaming, science fiction, fantasy, writing, podcasting, and great music. The community, while not perfect, is fantastic.

I also found it to be quite accessible. While the buffet proved challenging, the staff was incredibly helpful. My accessible cabin was comfortable and the roll in shower meant I didn't have to step over a tub wall.

It was also the first time I've been in a pool since my stroke. It was interesting learning more about buoyancy and my affected limbs. It gave me a chance to actually JUMP on my weak leg.

[caption id="attachment_88" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Sunburn line from GivMohr sling This is my sunburn on the first day I burned. The burn line is from my GivMohr sling. I was wearing SPF 70 at the time.[/caption][caption id="attachment_91" align="aligncenter" width="300"]ms Oosterdam Cabin 1011 shower There is a cord near the shower head. As a warning, don't mistake it for a clothes line that failed to retract. It's actually an emergency cord that calls the stateroom attendant to your shower in case you have an emergency. I don't recommend tugging on it to retract it.[/caption][caption id="attachment_90" align="aligncenter" width="300"]ms Oosterdam Cabin 1011 beds The beds are slightly smaller than twin size, but they are reasonably comfortable. I did have to request a special extension cord for my CPAP machine.[/caption][caption id="attachment_92" align="aligncenter" width="300"]ms Oosterdam Cabin 1011 living space There is actually a decent amount of space in the small, inexpensive cabin. The couch also turns into a couch to accommodate a third person. That might be a bit too cramped, though.[/caption]


[caption id="attachment_86" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Seating reserved for persons with disabilities The theater on the ship had a full row of accessible seating on the same level of the doors. It was convenient and the view was still pretty good.[/caption]


Hack of the Week

Carry a bag.

I often carry a nylon tote bag like these Chicobags (affiliate link). Carrying stuff is difficult in general. One hand doesn't work yet and one carries the cane or holds the handrail on the stair.

I use it for my coffee thermos, phone, tablet, paper notebook, getting the mail, or whatever other random carrying I need to do.

It's a simple thing, but sometimes the simplest things are the most helpful.

Where do we go from here?

  1. What are your thoughts on cruising, conventions, and other nerdy activities. Share them in the comments below.
  2. Please leave a rating or review for Strokecast in the Apple Podcasts store.
  3. Want to learn more about the JoCo Cruise or book for next year? Visit Strokecast.com/joco
  4. Subscribe to the National Stroke Association's Stroke Smart magazine here.
  5. Check out the assortment of Facebook stroke support groups here.
  6. Don't get best…get better

Here is the latest episode of The Strokecast