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Gary Karp  

The voice for "Modern Disability," catching the world up with the radical emergence of human potential.

Sometimes radical changes happen but it takes a while for people to catch up with the new story.

Such is the case with what it means to have a "disability," and Gary Karp brings us up to speed with the radical, historic, compelling, and relevant story of Modern Disability.

Gary Karp is a great motivational speaker, drawing from his own experience as a wheelchair user since 1973 when his spinal cord was injured in a fall from a tree when he was 18 years old. Karp says, "The Modern Disability story shows us so much that is universal about ourselves: our capacity to adapt, our innate drive to fulfill our potential, and that we are all just human in the ways that matter most."

Says Michelle Mudgett of Protection and Advocacy Inc., "Gary's enthusiasm radiates and opens the room. His candid approach allows people to relate to his life story and come away with insight into what is real and what is perceived. This presentation motivated and renewed our advocacy staff."

And Gary is an important business speaker, bringing clarity and value to Diversity, Human Resource and Disability Management in a way that is business savvy - and safe! As artificial obstacles fall and possiblities expand, people with disabilities represent a real and valuable population of workers, able and ready to perform and be held to the same standards as everyone else.

Says Marie Bernard, CEO of Project Hired in Santa Clara, CA of his keynote address: "Gary has a perfect pitch for a professional audience, and he is the ultimate professional without being preachy."

And Gary Karp is, well, just a great speaker. Says Ray Grott of the Rehabilitation Engineering Society of North America, "I was really impressed by your comfortable stage presence, practiced and polished (though not slick) delivery, and the way you infused your talk with warmth, humor, and juggling!"

Yes, JUGGLING. Gary is an accomplished juggler, and uses this skill to delight his audiences - and make a point. Many people don't think they could ever learn to juggle. Most people don't think they could thrive with a disability. Gary brings the two together to show how he learned otherwise on both counts!

Gary Karp is the author of three books, Life On Wheels, Choosing a Wheelchair, and Disability & the Art of Kissing. He is the co-editor of From There To Here: Stories of Adjustment to Spinal Cord Injury with Stanley Klein. Besides his keynote speeches and ineractive workshops, Gary speaks at universities and rehabilitation centers across the U.S. under the sponsorship of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation. In 2007 he was inducted into the Spinal Cord Injury Hall of Fame as a disability educator. He lives in Northern California where he writes, juggles, plays guitar, and bakes bread.


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Speech Topics

Disability: The Missing Piece in the Diversity Mosaic

It's their turn. Other populations in the diversity spectrum have come a long way in their efforts to be seen clearly for who they are and what they have to offer in the workplace and society in general. Now people with disabilities, an historically emerging population, are taking their turn, pushing back against a unique set of stereotypes. Not the least is the notion that disability by definition precludes someone from performing, contributing, being a success. A meaningful slice of people who "happen to have disabilities" are capable of contributing on a scale never possible before. Gary Karp describes the changes that have transformed their lives, and helps his audiences get past deeply held beliefs that simply don't fit who these people are and how much they have in common with everyone else. Namely, the desire to live as fully, as independently, and as productively as possible. Said Lisa Jackson, Administrator of the U.S. EPA after Gary's keynote address in Washington D.C.: "You contributed immeasurably to our understanding of the challenges people with disabilities face, and heightened our appreciation of the ways diversity significantly enhances our workplace experience."

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