Tom Olin with the Road To Freedom Bus

Tom Olin with the Road To Freedom Bus

Monday, June 13, 2016

Orlando Strong

June 13, 2016

All of us at the Disability Rights Center and The Road to Freedom Bus Tour send our love and support to the Orlando community. Our hearts ache for the victims of the June 12th devastating attack at Pulse, their families and friends. We cannot experience your depth of pain and grief but we hope to lift your spirit in this time of anguish.

We express our unity with the Orlando LGBTIQ community. We encourage all people to turn from hatred and work together to support one another, especially members of groups traditionally excluded from mainstream American society. Intersectionality brings together the diverse cultures, strengths and skill sets that create a kinder, inclusive society where all contributions are valued and welcomed.

This was not an attack by Muslims. We are concerned about senseless backlash toward our Muslim brothers and sisters. Speak up and lend a hand if you witness this.

The people of Orlando are strong and resilient. Those who lost their lives will be honored and remembered. You will recover. We support you with our love and prayers.

Janine Bertram
Tom Olin

Disability Rights Center

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Me Before You- A Disability Nightmare

Lights, camera and a stale theme with a deadly twist sum up "Me Before You", book and movie.  This plot has the potential of danger for people with disabilities so we are taking a detour from Road to Freedom Bus Tour news to write about it.

Based on a book by JoJo Moyes, the movie takes a rags to riches theme and spices it up with a plot line that  brings out the vilest societal stereotypes about disability. The boy meets girl theme comes together when Louisa Clark (played by Emilia Clarke) gets a job as a personal attendant to Will Traynor (played by Sam Claflin). Louisa has lost her job as a waitress and Will is rich as Croesus.

They fall in love but do not live happily ever after. Rather, Will is convinced life is not worth living and against the pleas of his non disabled community, chooses death by physician assistance. Because Will dies and Louisa inherits his megabucks, she is able to "Live Boldly", one of the movies hashtags.

I manage to #LiveBoldly each day with my disability, thank you.

Yes it is fiction and creative license allows Hollywood to come out with whatever pablum movies they so desire. Yet this one has a dangerous message, especially to those coping with new disabilities. It models life with a disability as not worth living and better for you and all who love you if you get your favorite doc to help you die.

Where doctor assisted suicide is concerned, doors open wide if one is disabled while the non-disabled get sent to counseling. Twenty-five years after the Americans with Disabilities Act said that 59 million people with disabilities are a civil rights group and mandated the removal of barriers to community integration, Me Before You says suicide is a fine option if you are disabled.

Members of the disability community have written eloquently about the book and movie. Emily Ladeau has a piece in Salon where she outlines some of the able bodied beliefs that were highlighted (Spare me... ).   Dominick Evans' piece in Storify (Evans in Storify) noted three myths underscored in Me Before You:

  • Disabled people do not have healthy intimate relationships
  • Disabled people's deaths benefit non-disabled people
  • Disabled people are better dead than disabled
Some disability groups are gathering resources on suicide prevention prior to the film's opening on June 3. Not Dead Yet is calling for informational leafleting on opening night in cities throughout the nation. Protest disability snuff film

Lose the disability theme and Me Before You is a hackneyed, "poor girl marries rich" redux seen ad nauseum in a raft of movies like Sabrina. Color me bored.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Tom Olin - National Fun Runner for ADAPT - 2016

Hello Friends and Family and Community,

Hello to those of you who I have yet to meet as the Road to Freedom Bus Tour continues and also a very big thank you for those who gave their support freely along the way these last few years, those who gave me nourishment of food, friendship and fun which I can never forget.This year I have been chosen as ADAPT’s official fun runner. Please help to support ADAPT by pledging a generous donation for the ADAPT Fun Run, April 10, 2016 in Washington,DC. 
I will scoot my way around Upper Senate Park, Constitution and 1st Street until I complete 20 or so laps.
You can donate an amount per lap or a whopping big lump sum donation or whatever you can afford.
Your open hearted donations support national ADAPT, a community I have been photographing for over 30 years. They are the spirit and soul of our disability rights movement; “Our blood and our bones,” said one national leader.
Your donation also helps the Road to Freedom Bus Tour. The “ ADA Bus” will continue on this year and we will join communities at events focusing on issues of ‘disability vote’, ‘community integration' and ‘emergency preparedness’. The “Bus” will always continue to celebrate the disability rights, justice and economic justice movements for all in our community.

ADAPT deserves and needs your support. May this request finds you in the spirit of humanity where we touch our common heart.
Tom Olin

Friday, March 25, 2016

Road to Freedom Tour to Support Oklahoma REVUP: Make the Disability Vote Count

Tom Olin and the ADA Bus will travel to the State Capitol in Oklahoma City on April 21 for a big REVUP event. The RTF Tour is working with Jeff Hughes and other activists to encourage all Oklahomans with disabilities. Stay tuned for more news on Oklahoma REVUP: Register, Educate, and VOTE.

Plan your own local event! After Oklahoma, the Road to Freedom ADA Bus is available until the end of May for stops in New Mexico, Colorado, Arkansas, Kansas, or Arizona. After May the ADA Bus heads to California, Oregon and Washington.

To host Tom Olin and The ADA Bus email or call The Disability Rights Center at 503-915-5247.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Tornados Delay REV UP Disability Vote Launch By Two Days

The national launch of REV UP in Houston is delayed two days because of a tornado warning in Houston.   On Tuesday, February 25thrd  11am at TIRR Memorial Hermann, 1333 Moursund Houston, Texas.  The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), along with Texas Disability Project, Disability Rights Texas and other disability advocacy groups will launch the national ‘REV UP’ America-Make the DISABILITY VOTE Count campaign. The event was originally scheduled for February 23.  February 25 is also the date of the Republican debate in Houston.

The REV UP Campaign recognizes that there is a DISABILITY VOTE and that people with disabilities and our supporters will vote for candidates that address issues of concern to the disability community and who outreach to get that vote.   Disability Rights to Voting Power follows the evolution of other civil rights movements.
‘REV UP’ stands for Register, Educate, Vote, Use, Power. The REV UP event promotes the growing influence of the DISABILITY VOTE nationwide.   REV UP will also work to ensure access to the polls on Election Day for Americans with disabilities.

Tom Olin and the Road to Freedom Bus Tour will be a focal point of the national launch of REV UP.  Making the disability vote count in 2016 is essential for the disability community.

"Vote as if your life depended on it...because it does."  Justin Dart

Friday, February 19, 2016

Rolling to REVUP Houston to Make The Disability Vote Count

The Road to Freedom Tour ADA Bus is on its way to the national launch of REV UP  in Houston at 11AM on February 23 at TIRR Memorial Hermann, 1333 Moursand. People with disabilities around the country are organizing to make the disability vote count in 2016.

Tom Olin, an award-winning photographer, captains the Road to Freedom Bus. There will be an exhibit of his photos at the REV UP launch.

Olin, is now on his third round of this important, nation-wide tour that provides Americans the opportunity to celebrate the important milestones in disability history and raise awareness about disability rights issues.  

 “REV UP” is a priority issue for the ADA Bus. ‘REV UP’ stands for Register, Educate, Vote, Use, Power. The REV UP event promotes the growing influence of the DISABILITY VOTE nationwide.   REV UP will also work to ensure access to the polls on Election Day for Americans with disabilities.  
The American Association of People with Disabilities(AAPD) is the national coordinator of REV UP. Their website has a wealth of materials for state and local campaigns and is being updated regularly.  

REV UP Houston is sponsored by several organizations, including The Texas Disability Project, Disability Rights Texas, and the Houston Center for Independent Living (HCIL). 

The keynote speaker for the Houston REV UP launch is Lex Frieden, an early architect of the ADA.

“Important issues that have a profound effect on people with disabilities haven’t really been part of the discussion this political season. There are more than 56 million Americans with disabilities and 76 million baby boomers who will soon be coping with disabilities. We need to be active in the democratic process and our voices need to be heard,” explains Frieden.

Join the REV UP movement and let the 2016 candidates respond to our issues and feel the power of the disability vote. 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Road to Freedom Bus Tour Comes to Biloxi

Tom Olin and The Road to Freedom Bus Tour are in Biloxi, Mississippi to spend time with the disability community. LIFE is hosting an event Friday, January 15 at The Lighthouse from 11:00-1:00pm.  The Lighthouse, which survived Katrina, is a beacon of hope and endurance to the people of Biloxi. Emergency preparedness and response that includes people with disabilities is stressed by Living Independence For Everyone (LIFE).   Special thanks to Christy Dunaway, who facilitated the stop.

 The Bus is coming off an extended stay in Florida for mechanical attention. The next stop will be Austin, Texas where the focus is REV UP and get out the disability vote.(GOTV). We are moving into an election year so registering people with disabilities to vote and GOTV is critical. "Vote as if your life depended on it, because it does." Justin Dart, Jr.

After Austin we will be traveling the southern route to the west coast.  Anyone interested in hosting the Road to Freedom Bus Tour, please contact Janine Bertram at or David Fulton at The Road to Freedom Bus Tour has modules to support local community efforts and is a great media magnet.