Launching "Disabled for a Day"


  • Service: Private Coaching
  • Intervention Method: Course Correction
  • Area of Work: Human Rights
  • Client: Crystal Liston is a disabilities activist who wants elected officials to spend a day with a disability to increase their empathy with disabled constituents.  The project is called "Disabled for a Day."
  • Challenge: Crystal wasn't sure how to make her vision a reality. 
  • Consultation:  Mary facilitated a 1-hour Vision-Roadmap-Action meeting (pictured below) and provided 2 hours of communications assistance on candidate outreach.
  • Result:  A local congressional candidate agreed to work with Crystal to launch Disabled for a Day.
  • Time (Consultation → Result):  13 days
Crystal Liston during her private coaching session

Crystal Liston during her private coaching session

Crystal's Story

Crystal Liston lost the use of her lower extremities in a 1990 car accident, but that hasn’t stopped her from living an extraordinary life.  “I have raised children, run for public office, kissed the Blarney Stone and swam with great white sharks, all from the confines of a wheelchair,” she says.  

Yet she still deals with daily annoyances and indignities able-bodied people aren’t even aware of.  “I have to scootch on my butt down the aisle of an airplane in order to access the bathroom as airplanes are not wheelchair accessible,” she writes.  

Navigating the streets of Seattle is scarcely easier than flying the friendly skies.  “My life is valuable,” she notes, “yet I am forced to put it at risk whenever I wheel down the side of a city street because there are not enough curb cuts available to access the sidewalk.”

These frustrations led her to start the Disabled for a Day initiative, which calls for anyone running for public office to spend a day with a disability in order to understand the disabled citizens they represent.  This could mean spending time in a wheelchair or with simulated blindness, deafness, or another disability of the candidate’s choice.  

Crystal is committed to working toward her vision: a future in which all candidates for public office in the US participate in Disabled for a Day. 

As Crystal states, “Public officials have the ability to make changes that would benefit my life and the life of other disabled people…. [Their] empathy will improve their representation of us.”