Fargo Woman Challenges People to Look Beyond Disabilities, Creates Commercial for Apple
Apple CEO Tim Cook follows a select few on Twitter including 32-year-old Sady Paulson
FARGO, N.D. — We live in a world where people are constantly exceeding limitations and expectations.
One Fargo woman is not only an example of that, but she’s now challenging everyone to view people who have disabilities from a different lens.
Sometimes it’s having the right tool that makes all the difference.
But as a child, Sady Paulson not only struggled to find the right one, she also found it hard to find her place.
“I was born in Seoul, South Korea and was adopted by a large, loving, supportive family. In my town, I was the only one who had a physical disability. It was not usual to see a person with any disability out in public,” she said.
Sady has cerebral palsy, a neurological disorder which affects her motor skills.
But being different has also made her realize people tend to have a hard time looking past first impressions.
“This world is set up for people who don’t have limitations. It takes me longer to speak, work and play than others do but I can do all of those things,” Sady said.
That is until she graduated from Bismarck High School and she finally found the right piece of equipment in the toolbox.
“I went to the Anne Carlsen Center to meet with an occupational and a physical therapist for an evaluation. At that time, I met Mark Coppin,” Sady said.
Coppin introduced Sady to switch access.
A scanning program that allows her to edit videos.
“Anything that you can do with a keyboard or the mouse, she can do with those switches. She has full control of the keyboard, she has full control of the mouse. In fact, she’s probably faster than you and I are,” Coppin said.
Something he wasn’t even expecting when he gave Sady photos to edit.
“I gave her 20 figuring that would take her until the end of the week, and she finished those in about 10–15 minutes. At that point, I realized that she had something special,” Coppin said.
Sady was only getting started.
She went on to graduate near the top of her class from Full Sail University with a degree in Digital Cinema.
“The beautiful thing about it was it was all online so because it was all online, no one on the other end knew that she had a disability. All they saw was her abilities. Even her teachers didn’t know that she had a disability,” Coppin said.
In October 2016, Sady got the chance to show even more people there is both more to her and others who live with a disability by making it the focus of a commercial she created for Apple.
“It was my first real job. It was an amazing opportunity and they were a group of awesome people. This film was used to open the keynote presentation for Tim Cook,” Sady said.
But getting the chance of a lifetime doesn’t come without some recognition along the way.
“Several years ago I was doing a keynote presentation in Prague, Czech Republic and I was waiting on stage to do my keynote and there were a couple ladies from Poland sitting next to me,” Coppin said. “They said ‘oh you’re from North Dakota, do you know Sady?'”
Proving that disabilities are anything but.
“The biggest thing that I learned is that I should never give up on anything that I want to do or give up on my dreams for my life,” Sady said.
But Sady admits it wouldn’t be possible without those at the Anne Carlsen Center who introduced her to the right friend technologies and the reminder she should never stop using her voice.
“There were solutions out there for me. They believed in me, they saw the potential in me and they pushed me to see my potential,” Sady said.
“Anne Carlsen speaks for not the majority of citizens in this area but those who may not have a voice, like Sady,” said Eric Wilke, chief development officer for Anne Carlsen Center.
In a world with so many resources, it really did take finding the one that mattered to get Sady the recognition deserved.
“I was so happy that people could really see the talent that I saw all along and it really showcased if we give people the right tools, they can do whatever they want to be able to do and their true talents show through,” Coppin said.
She’s now an Apple Distinguished Educator, speaking about accessibility to classes across the world.
“The world has a lot more user–friendly technologies and tools for people with disabilities than in the past. But we can always make new improvements and accessibility tools,” Sady said. “I would like a solution where my communication is immediate just like everyone else. But I would probably need a filter huh?”
It’s all with the intention to not just improve them for herself, but for everyone else looking for just the right tool, too.
Sady was discovered by Apple because of Coppin sent in a video of her using her switch access program.
She was also in an Apple commercial featured during the Super Bowl earlier this month.
Anne Carlsen has centers all over North Dakota, including one in Moorhead.
If you’d like to donate to the Anne Carlsen Center for Giving Hearts Day, click here.