‘Adventure’ lets residents experience life with disabilites

October 19, 2010 • Local News

From left Lisa McNiven, Governor’s Commission on Disability, Disability Systems Coordinator, and Julian Klenck, interpreter, simulated blindness on their Amazing Roswell Mysteries Adventure tour Monday. (Jonathan Entzminger Photo)

Have you ever wondered what goes on in the mind [auth] of a schizophrenic?

What it would be like to lose one of your five senses, such as sight or sound, or commute around Roswell in a wheelchair for a day? On Monday, participants in the Roswell Convention and Civic Center’s Amazing Roswell Mysteries Adventures, in conjunction with organizers for Disability Employment Awareness Month, spent a few hours experiencing life as a disabled person.

“This has really helped me understand more [about] the behavioral disabilities that people have and it’s tiring,” said John Block III, deputy director of the New Mexico Governor’s Commission on Disability. Two teams of adventurers began the day by riding a southbound bus to their starting locations for their adventure.

They visited various areas of Roswell, including the fire and police stations, UFO Museum and Research Center, Roswell Police Department, Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell and K-Mart. While on their excursions, some adventurers wore blinding black shades and used a walking stick to simulate blindness. Others sat in wheelchairs, or listened to audio MP3 tracks of noises, sounds and voices that a schizophrenic may hear.

“The challenging part for me was not being able to see my language — being able to communicate receptively,” said Lisa McNiven, 45, a hearing impaired woman and Governor’s Commission on Disability Systems Coordinator. “It was difficult for me to be able to feel the language — to be able to understand what was being said. Most of the time, I didn’t understand. I got tired … I got a little bit frustrated [at] times, because I wanted to know what was being said.

It was an eye-opening experience for me, even realizing that people who are deaf and blind have more challenges than even those who are just blind or just deaf.” Upon arrival at each location, adventurers were given instructions to ask each business or agency about their accommodations for people with disabilities. Adventurers asked questions about handicap accessibility at the entrances and exits of buildings, and policies and procedures for assisting and rescuing individuals with disabilities in the case of an emergency, among other things.

“The people at the museum were nice, and I thought the fire department presentation was very good–to interact between the disability community and the fire department — I think that’s important,” McNiven said. Participants in the Monday’s tour represented several parts of New Mexico, including Albuquerque, Clovis, Roswell and Santa Fe.

The event was sponsored by more than 30 local and state organizations, including CHOICES, Focus On Abilities, New Mexico Commission for the Blind and Chaves County New Mexico Workforce Connection. In addition to Monday’s tour, organizers for the event are hosting a conference on Tuesday, “Disability Awareness Day: Focusing on Abilities,” which starts at 8 a.m. The conference will be emceed by Sen. Rod Adair, and will feature a series of proclamations by various local and state government organizations. David Brown, Regional Information Technology Coordinator for the Eastern Plains Council of Government in Clovis, will deliver a special address.The keynote speaker will be Allen Anderson, president of Employment Management Professionals in Toronto.

If you are a person with a disability and would like to be identified by law enforcement during a medical emergency as such, call the fire department dispatch at 624-7590. Information is kept confidential and will not be shared with anyone outside of emergency services. For more information about Tuesday’s conference, including accommodations for the disabled, contact CHOICES at 627-6727, or Terri Douglass at 624-6024 or by e-mail at

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