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Attitude Can Enable the Disabled, Speaker Tells Dryden Crowd

By Beth Hagenauer
NASA Dryden Flight Research Center Public Affairs

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Speaker Glenn McIntyre addresses audience at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in Calif. on Apr. 29, on disability awareness.

"If there is something important in your life that you want to do, find some way to do it," is the mantra of paraplegic Glenn McIntyre. He was riding a motorcycle in 1985 on Pacific Coast Highway in Southern California when he was involved in a collision, breaking his back in 17 places and leaving the lower half of his body paralyzed . At the time, he was a police officer, married, buying a new home, in top physical condition and twenty-three years old.

McIntyre was at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center on April 29 to speak about disabilities during the Center's Computer/Electronic Accommodation Program (CAP) and Disability Awareness briefings. He told the audience that most people are not born with disabilities. McIntyre said that approximately 58 million people in the U.S. are disabled, roughly one in every five and a half people. Eighty-five percent of those became disabled during a life experience.

"Not that people with disabilities can't do things, they just do them differently," said McIntyre. When an agency hires individuals, the qualified individual should be hired if basic requirements like education and training are met and if functions essential to the job can be performed with or without accommodations, he added. Accommodations include Braille computer terminals or voice output software for the blind. That is where CAP helps agencies like NASA.

Lynda Sampson, NASA's Disability Program Manager, said one percent of NASA's workforce has severe disabilities. Putting more disabled people on NASA's payroll is where CAP enters the picture, according to Brittany Matthews, the Department of Defense's CAP Federal Partnership Coordinator. CAP was established in 1990 as a centrally-funded program to provide accommodations for disabled employees of the federal government. This assistance technology is available to NASA and other federal agency employees free of charge. Dryden's disability briefings were held to educate personnel on how to obtain these services and equipment.

McIntyre summed up the recovery from his injuries, allowing him to return to the police force and become a motivational speaker, saying that the "best thing about attitude - it's your choice. You have 100 percent control over attitude. You tell yourself what you believe."

Information about CAP is available online at: http://www.tricare.osd.mil/cap.