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Northwest Access Awards


2014 Northwest Access Awards

Award Winners

Small Business Best Practice Award

Northwest Access Awards LogoArk Lodge Cinema

The open caption offerings of Ark Lodge Cinema have been wildly popular in the deaf, deafblind, and hard of hearing community.  At Ark Lodge Cinemas, you can consistently choose open captioning instead of having to use special glasses or wait for a subtitled DVD to come out.  They now host open-caption movies every Tuesday night.  David McRae is the owner of Ark Lodge Cinema.  He was asked to consider making open captioning available when he was in the middle of the hectic haze of major renovations shortly after purchasing the theatre.  He willingly incurred the additional expenses necessary to make sure it was available quickly for the premiere of “The Hobbit”.  McRae has also purchased a close-captioned as well as a descriptive video system for all 3 of his screens. While he currently ensures that each film being shown is wheelchair accessible for a minimum of one screening per day, he intends to install a lift to the upper floor of the 93-year-old building to make the upstairs screen accessible.



Innovation Award

Northwest Access Awards LogoMagicWheels

MagicWheels replace conventional wheels on wheelchairs.  MagicWheels provide self-contained 2-to-1 gearing and hill holding, all built into the wheel.  They were developed in part with funds from the federal Small Business Innovation Research Program and the Washington Research Foundation.  MagicWheels are great for climbing hills, ramps, curb cuts, or door thresholds. Unlike power assist wheels, they operate without the use of batteries, electronics, or motors.  Some people who have been in electric wheelchairs have been able to return to manual propulsion using MagicWheels and many others have been able to avoid or postpone switching to electric wheelchairs.  MagicWheels are produced and marketed by Provail, a Seattle area manufacturer and service provider that employs people of varying abilities and disabilities, at competitive wages, in its manufacturing work.

Ron Adams Outstanding Client Award

Northwest Access Awards LogoMelissa “echo” Greenlee

Melissa “echo” Greenlee became a client of the Washington Access Fund when she wanted to start her own business.  She participated in the Access Fund’s Individual Development Account, or IDA, program and saved to invest in a web-based business.   echo was born hearing.  Becoming deaf at age 8 has given her a unique perspective on bridging the gap between the deaf and hearing worlds.  She used her savings and matching money from the Access Fund to found Deaffriendly.com (originally Deaf Review).  Deaf friendly has a mission to create a deaf-friendly world and make the daily lives of 38 million deaf and hard of hearing consumers easier.  Through it, echo raises awareness, creates opportunities for businesses to learn how to become more deaf-friendly, and provides corrective feedback to deaf-challenged businesses.  Her website is filled with reviews, articles, tips, humor and much cleverness.

Frances Pennell Economic Opportunity

Northwest Access Awards LogoCaryl Wolf

Caryl Wolf was serving people with disabilities through a nonprofit organization.  Then the nonprofit closed its doors – but Caryl continued to work with seniors and people with disabilities at her own expense, offering workshops and one-on-one counseling, helping people navigate through Medicaid, Medicare, and social security work incentives.  She then founded the nonprofit organization Benefits Central in Bremerton.  Benefits Central is dedicated to helping people with disabilities throughout Washington who want to work and become self-sufficient.  At Benefits Central Caryl continues her work empowering people with disabilities through her seminars, benefits analysis, and counseling; including a “Yes I Can” program focusing on long-term self-sufficiency.  As someone living with a neurological disorder, she demonstrates that life can and will go on and that her clients can return to the workforce or school, maybe even start their own business, without risking the loss of all their benefits.  Caryl likes to characterize her work as putting people in the driver’s seat and then acting as the GPS that guides them to their career goals.

Recreational Engagement Award

Northwest Access Awards LogoOutdoors for All Foundation

The Outdoors for All Foundation transforms lives through outdoor recreation.  Each year this nonprofit, founded in 1979, enriches the lives of thousands of children and adults in Washington with physical, developmental, and sensory disabilities.  They offer day camps, military programs, private lessons, and custom events.  They do this all with the support of over 700 volunteers. They offer scholarships to low-income participants and offer a number of free activities throughout the year.  Outdoors for All’s year-round programming includes snowboarding, snowshoeing, cross country and downhill skiing, cycling, hiking, river rafting, canoeing and kayaking, water skiing, rock-climbing, and camping.  In the past year, they have launched a new Adaptive Cycling Center with over 100 adaptive cycles and bikes.