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The One and Only

Photo: Zebreda Dunham

Meet the one and only—Zebreda Dunham.

When first meeting Zebreda one's impression is shaped largely by her disability but that's really only just a part of Zebreda's story. Born in 1978 with a rare condition known as Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita—a disability typically characterized by deformed joints and very weak muscles—Zebreda is challenged in ways that most people take for granted such as walking, eating, showering and most other activities of daily living.

The other equally interesting part of Zebreda's story is the life she has created for herself. Born in Washington D.C. and raised in Maryland with her mother, father and sister, Zebreda, as a young woman, began to wonder what type of life would be in store for her after her parents could no longer care and provide for her physically. Zebreda began to research and plan for her future—a journey that has led her to the West Coast where she currently lives in Pasadena, California.

What makes Zebreda remarkable is not so much her disability but rather her ability to recognize opportunities—many literally outside her reach—and then to imagine, create and adapt tools and strategies that make those opportunities accessible. Zebreda's world is filled with inventions that enhance and support her daily living in ways that are creative, resourceful and affordable—from a simple re-configured wire-hanger to a programmable and accessible universal remote controller. When spending any time with Zebreda one cannot help but be impressed by her creative and practical designs. What for many would be in insurmountable barrier is for Zebreda just an obstacle to troubleshoot and an adaption or tool to design.

Zebreda Makes It Work! is a series of videos and experiences shared by Zebreda that highlight—even more than any particular tool—a frame of mind about assistive technology and how to imagine, create, adapt and troubleshoot your world and whatever obstacles you might encounter.

As Zebreda notes, "We need each other to survive in this world. I feel that just because you might be labeled as having a disability, you don't have to disable yourself. Many times those doing the labeling are unaware of the true intelligence and abilities of the individual and more than likely they are the ignorant ones. You are as disabled as you make yourself. I don't consider myself as being disabled—I consider myself as differently-abled."