By Daniel J. Vance
Dave Reynolds of rural Washington is fast becoming the "Matt Drudge" of disability. His award-winning website and Internet news service "Inclusion Daily Express" has fresh insights into disability issues and links to breaking disability-related news articles from around the world.
And yet you've likely not heard of him.
"I've been serving people with disabilities since 1985," Reynolds, 44, said recently over the telephone. "I started as a special education teacher's aide in Washington before working at Goodwill Industries in Oregon three years as a rehabilitative case worker to help people with mental and physical disabilities find jobs." He eventually made his way to Spokane as a program manager of employment services for people with disabilities.
His knowledge of disability then took a quantum leap forward when he began participating in "email communities" composed of people that understood disability issues. "They taught me a lot," said Reynolds, who himself has struggled with attention deficit disorder and major depression, the latter a hidden disability affecting perhaps 20 million Americans.
In 1999 Reynolds began the Inclusion Daily Express news service. His subscribers now include people with disabilities and family members, social service professionals, university professors, disability attorneys, and the ADA departments of many municipalities. Most readers are from the U.S., U.K., and Canada, and a growing number hail from Asia, Australia and Europe. He "gathers and hunts" his news by searching the Internet, and from acting on reader and web community tips, government website postings, and press releases.
Article topics include disability technology, employment, accessibility, awareness, healthcare, education and bioethics.
The "advertising-free" information he disseminates seems to be changing lives. "For example, I emailed out an article on a young Irish man with cerebral palsy who was using a communication board to 'talk'," Reynolds said. "He'd spent most of his life in an institution and been written off as a person. Two years later at a conference, a woman told me in passing that she'd read that article and had managed to find and correspond with the man. In time, she and her husband visited him and his family in Ireland."
Reynolds sees his full-time job as one of "presenting information to help people reach their dreams," he said. "Sending out [Inclusion Daily Express] is my way of sitting down in my living room with hundreds of my 'best friends' to share with them what I've learned."