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Jim Stovall - Yes, You Can!

Disabled individuals must look at the abilities they have rather the disabilities.
Jim Stovall - Yes, You Can!

Jim Stovall - Yes, You Can!

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Jim Stovall

Americans with Disabilities Act

Show Details

Show 1543: Jim Stovall - Yes, You Can!
Air Date: October 25, 2015



Rob McClendon: Now, while some disabled Americans are kept out of the workforce by employment discrimination, for many others, the barriers to employment occur long before they have the opportunity to even apply for a job. Earlier, I was able to visit with Jim Stovall, a one-time Olympic weightlifter who lost his sight early in his adulthood, yet went on to a career in television and as a motivational speaker.

Rob: So, Jim, give us some insights about being in the workplace as a blind individual.

Jim Stovall: Well, I think, you know, you’ve got to look at what abilities you have and not focus on the disabilities. And, you know, the biggest thing you can do if you work around a blind or visually impaired person, or someone with any other special need, is raise your expectations. You know, one of the hardest things about being blind is people have low expectations. If I wanted to sit at home and listen to my radio from now on and never do anything, people would say, “Isn’t it great, he can do the radio.” Now, if you wanted to, your friends would come over and say, “Rob, come on, you know, get off the couch, go do something, be somebody,” you know. And so the biggest thing that we can do for anyone that has a special need or a special challenge is to have high expectations and hold them to that.

Rob: And by your very own life, you’ve demonstrated that with narrative TV.

Stovall: Well, narrative TV came out of my own need. I, after losing my sight, I was really frustrated with my inability to access movies and television, so we created a system so that the 13 million blind and visually impaired Americans and their families could access television, and it has grown immensely and been very, very successful.

Rob: Has technology made it easier?

Stovall: Oh absolutely! I mean, you know when I was a sighted person, I don’t know that I ever read a whole book cover to cover. Now, thanks to high speed audio technology and digital books, I read a book every day. There hasn’t been a day in the last 20 years I haven’t read a whole book cover to cover, and I can listen to them at 800 words a minute, and it has changed my life.

Rob: Really?

Stovall: Absolutely.

Rob: Eight hundred words a minute?

Stovall: Yes.

Rob: That’s some listening ability.

Stovall: Well, it’s just you speed it up a little more every day, and it’s kind of like the old boiling the frog thing. You just speed it up a little more every day and every day and you never notice it’s going that much faster.

Rob: I guess really a final question, what is your take away whenever you meet someone and you want to tell them about your life?

Stovall: Tell ’em about my life -- I tell them, I’m just a guy that’s doing the best I can with what I’ve got to try to make the world better, which is who I hope we all are.

Rob: Jim, thank you so much.

Stovall: Thank you!

Rob: And if you’d like to see my full conversation with Jim Stovall, it is streaming on our website at