News, Views, and Information about Disability

Disability News, Views, Information, and Literature

Ability Maine Projects & Staff

Ability Maine is a project of ROSC. Breath & Shadow is a project of Ability Maine. Here's more about these three interconnected organizations.

Resources for Organizing and Social Change (ROSC) was founded as INVERT (Institute for Non-Violence Education, Research, and Training) in 1977 to promote nonviolence and social change through education, training, and research programs. Since 1978, it has been a tax-exempt 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. In 2001, the organization changed its name to ROSC.

The mission of ROSC is "To build and support a movement for nonviolent social change that will educate, activate, and empower all Main people through grassroots community organizing."

In additional to Ability Maine and Breath & Shadow, ROSC's projects in the past year include Maine Draft and Military Counselors (speaking to students and counselors about the realities of military service and support for those who want out), the Changing Maine Directory (examining economic alternatives to capitalism), Alternatives to Violence Project (conflict resolution workshops with inmates and others affected by the prison system), War Tax Resistance Resource Center, and numerous other projects relating to class/poverty, nonviolence, youth mentorship, and peace and justice initiatives.

Logo for Ability Maine. An oval with two clasped hands reaching above the words Ability Maine in white letters on a black background that suggests mountains and a green background above the hands.

Ability Maine was founded in 2000 by Norman Meldrum and Russ Anderson, both board members of ROSC. Norm and Russ envisioned a web site that would provide news, information, and empowerment for people with disabilities in Maine. The mission on the website read: "Ability Maine is a place for collecting and sharing information and opinions about living with disabilities. Our intent is to provide a place on the web for people to get information that will help them create better lives for themselves and others. We want to educate and provide resources that will contribute toward people achieving a better quality of life."

Norm and Russ worked together to create the AM site and its list of resources in those early years. Other regular contributors in the next few years were Steve Hoad and Sharon Wachsler. This group collaborated to create a website that was accessible to people with a wide range of disabilities and that included resource guides for many disabilities and for living with a disability in Maine. Sharon and Norm also launched the literary journal, Breath & Shadow, as an outgrowth of AM.

Ability Maine continues today under the leadership of Mike Reynolds. Mike handles the webwork for the site as well as conducting research and writing content of interest to people with disabilities in Maine (and around the country).

Breath and Shadow logo. A circle in tones of brown, peach, and mustard. There is a silhouette of a face that looks like a woman's face breathing out and inside that as a shadow is a second face which seems more like a man's face. Below that are the words Breath & Shadow in white letters.

Breath & Shadow is a literary journal that promotes disability writing and culture, thereby promoting cross-disability pride and community. The journal's goal is to empower and create opportunities for people with disabilities in the literary field. Chris Kuell, editor, says, "We want to showcase the richness and significance of disability literature, promote a greater understanding of the disability experience, and convey the importance of disability culture for all people."

Young light-skinned thin man in a manual wheelchair on an expanse of green lawn with the sun shining through several trees around him. His hands are clasped, with elebows on knees, and he's leaning forward and smiling.

Mike Reynolds, Ability Maine Web Manager and Reporter

Mike Reynolds has been a web wrangler and writer for Ability Maine since 2009. Currently he does the web work for Breath & Shadow and Ability Maine and also writes the majority of AM's news content. Mike's interests and the scope of his writing are wide-ranging. He profiles members of Maine's disability community, covers news items of relevance to people with disabilities, and reports on his own or others' activism for social justice in Maine or around the country. Recently, Mike's expose on UCP of Maine sparked outrage and was likely the impetus for important changes in the organization. Have a story idea, news tip, or interest in being profiled on AM? Mike can be reached at uppitycrip[at]

Black and white photograph of a serious-faced man with short wavy hair and a mustache. He's sitting outside in jeans and a white T-shirt that says People Understanding Blindness.

Chris Kuell, Breath & Shadow, Editor in Chief

Chris Kuell is a blind writer, editor and advocate. In addition to editing Breath & Shadow, he edits The Federationist, the newsletter of the National Federation of the Blind of Connecticut. He is the president of his local NFB chapter, serves on the NFB of Conn., board of directors, as well as on the board of directors of BESB, the Connecticut state agency for the blind. His articles, essays, and stories have appeared in a number of literary, and some not-so-literary publications. Contact him at

Head shot of light-skinned woman with rosy complexion and shoulder-length wavy salt-and-pepper hair. She wears glasses with rhinestones in the corners and is smiling.

Sharon Wachsler, Ability Maine Contributor and Breath & Shadow Founder

Sharon Wachsler started writing for Ability Maine as a monthly “Sick Humor” columnist in 2002. After extensive nagging by AM's founder, Norman Meldrum, Sharon founded Breath & Shadow. From 2004 through 2007, she organized an editorial board, raised funds, edited, and wrote for the journal. When Sharon developed Lyme disease, she turned the reigns over to its current editor, Chris Kuell. Sharon also stopped writing Sick Humor, in part because she couldn't find anything funny to say about lyfe with Lyme dysease. Sharon is thrilled to be back at AM and hopes to stick around this time. She's been writing professionally since 1992 and is best known for her erotic lesbian fiction; her disability-rights humor, culture, and analysis; and her articles and posts about service dogs and dog training. Sharon blogs about dogs and life at After Gadget, about the Occupy movement from a homebound perspective at Occupy at Home (@occupy_at_home), and about life as a writer with chronic illness at Bed, Body & Beyond. Her Twitter handle is @aftergadget.

A ruddy-faced man of white/Native heritage stands in the snow with a small dog on a flexi-lead. The man wears a tweed cap, tinted glasses, a brown carhart jacket, and gray baggy pants. He has a white beard and mustache and stands a little stiffly, his hands curled under, a stoic expression on his face. The dog is a Havanese, about 12 pounds, with curly white hair. She is stairing at Norm quizzically. They are surrounded by smooth snow, a lawn presumably, and in the distance behind are evergreens and treeless deciduous trees.

Norman Meldrum (1949-2009), Ability Maine Founder/Director Emeritus

Norman W. Meldrum founded Ability Maine in 2000 as an offshoot of ROSC. His passion was to improve the lives of people with disabilities in Maine and to spark a fire among activists. He was frustrated by "business as usual" in the government and disability establishment in Maine and was not afraid to confront what he viewed as hypocrisy and unequal access. As his obituary stated, Norm "advocated on statewide disability councils until the movers and shakers realized that what they said behind closed doors was being published statewide and even worldwide. He will be sorely missed by the disability movement." Because of Norm's efforts, Ability Maine (and later, Breath & Shadow) was one of the first websites in Maine to be accessible to people who are blind. Norm had a wry and self-deprecating sense of humor which he showcased in this Breath & Shadow interview.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your comment will become visible after it is approved. Thank you for commenting!