Oxnard Woman Conquers Disabilities

The victim of a drunken driver when she was riding in a car at 10 months old, Carol Leish has struggled with speech and vision challenges caused by brain stem trauma most of her life.

Now 48, the Oxnard resident with a master’s degree in education and counseling from CSU San Bernardino hopes to serve as a positive role model by focusing on her capabilities and the motto: “I can succeed and I will succeed.”

“I draw my strength mainly from my own ideas of continuing to persevere and to do my best,” Leish said. “Dad has continuously told me to do my best. Relatives say anything is possible.”

On Thursday, Leish will discuss the importance of disability awareness at the Ventura County Professional Women’s Network. “I will also discuss famous people with disabilities and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.”

The event, which will begin at 5:30 p.m. with networking, will take place at the Wedgewood Banquet Center at the Buenaventura Golf Course in Ventura.

“Today, I still face the challenges of being misunderstood because of the way that my voice sounds.  People are too quick to assume that I am more different then I actually am,” Leish said.

The biggest misunderstanding “is that people assume since I have a speech disability, I either have a hearing problem or a learning disability or am developmentally disabled. The reality is my hearing is very acute since it overcompensates for the visual loss.”

With a bachelor’s degree in human development and a master’s in education, Leish taught elementary-level special education classes for several years in San Bernardino. She also worked for the Ventura County Behavioral Health Department for two years.

One of her accomplishments is the creation of a children’s game, Call Me Capable. First published in 2002 by Franklin Learning Systems, the game’s objective is to help players become more aware of the capabilities and strengths of people with disabilities.

“It is a discussion game dealing with disability awareness for third- through ninth-graders,” said Leish, whose endeavor is online at www.callmecapable.com.

Her plans include writing a book about herself and others who have suffered a head injury.

The ultimate goal of her talk “is to urge people to realize that those with disabilities have many capabilities. Focus on the capabilities,” Leish said. “This topic is so important since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. People have been becoming more aware of what people with disabilities can do in their personal and professional lives.”

For more information, visit www.CallMeCapable.net or www.FranklinLearning.com. Contact Leish at (805) 988-6160 or carol@callmecapable.com

by Alicia Doyle
July 10, 2011 Ventura County Star