Don’t Call Her Anything but Capable!

When most people meet Carol Leish, they often assume, incorrectly, that she is mentally handicapped, hearing impaired or just plain different. Nothing could be further from the truth. Carol graduated from California State University in San Bernadino with a 3.6 GPA, earning her Masters degree in Education.

Because Carol sustained severe injuries at age 10 months when a drunk driver smashed her family’s vehicle leaving her with severe brain trauma that left her with blindness in her left eye and speech difficulties, people make cruel and incorrect assumptions.

Fortunately, Carol is a truly plucky individual with a terrific sense of humor who can shatter people’s perceptions with a few well-placed comments. She provides consulting services and presentations throughout the community to organizations such as the Ventura Unified School District, Ventura County Behavioral Services, ARC/Community services, and the County of Ventura’s Employment Services while winning several awards along the way.

She has devoted her life to teaching physically, mentally and learning challenged individuals and is also an active member of Temple Beth Torah here in Ventura. As an advocate for people with disabilities, Carol is a tireless and eloquent speaker who reaches people through humor and honesty. She comments, “Through the lessons of life, I have realized my goal to help others. I have, and continue to learn lessons of how to educate others to make them more aware of what I can do-and what they can do too.”

In 1987, while working as a substitute teacher, she began creating a one-hour discussion board game called “Call Me Capable” that provide open-ended questions about the challenges that people with disabilities face. The game, broken into four categories was finally ready to be launched in 2002 and “is intended to be a fun learning experience while, at the same time, fostering more acceptance and empathy for people with disabilities,” according to Carol.

Players move around the board picking cards and discussing the questions posed on the cards.

  • Emotion cards ask players how they would feel if they if they interacted with people with disabilities or had to live with a specific disability.

Experience cards ask players to discuss the practical aspects of living with various disabilities.

Imagination cards ask players to imagine situations in which the player has a disability or wants to help a person with a disability.
  • Challenge cards are multiple-choice questions that add to the player’s knowledge about specific disabilities, ways for disabled people to improve their lives, and famous people with disabilities.

The game is designed primarily for educating students who are not disabled, although disabled students enjoy playing immensely. The game has two sets of cards, one for elementary students, and one set with more challenging questions that can be used for middle and high school students. This game has been successfully used with many groups of adults, children and teens. The game is intended to be a fun learning experience and there are no wrong answers.

For purchasing inquiries, to learn more about the program or to schedule her as a motivational speaker, email Carol at or visit her website at

By Nanci Cone
May 20, 2009 Ventura BREEZE