Introducing Cristina Cortez – PuffinInno’s Blogger

Young Latina wheelchair user with glasses and long dark hair. Photo is of her outside on a sunny day

Hello! My name is Cristina Cortez, the new blogger and content creator intern here at Puffin Innovations. Let me tell you a bit about myself.

I have quadriplegic cerebral palsy (CP) and I am a first-generation Latin-American writer born to immigrant parents. I hold a BA in English, Creative Writing & Literature, and History with a Minor in Latin American & Caribbean Studies with Honors (Suma Cum Laude) from Hofstra University (2015), and a Masters in Fine Arts in Creative Writing & Poetics from the University of Washington Bothell (2018). My Masters thesis, Un-bound, is a cross-genre memoir about living life with a disability.

My writing has appeared in I Come From the World Literary Journal (Summer 2017) and La Guagua Poetry Anthology: Celebration & Confrontation (March 2019). Currently, I am a blogger for United Spinal Association’s New Mobility Magazine: the magazine for active wheelchair users.

I have done several public speaking engagements, including TEDx Everett, WA (March 2017), during the first academic year of my Masters. After relocating to Massachusetts, I have been a guest speaker at Breed Middle School’s Spanish National Junior Honor Society Chapter “Rigoberta Menchu” Peace Nobel Prize, and interviewed on Cambiando el mundo de personas con discapacidades Radio Show with Raquel Quezada (April 2019), Fortaleciendo la Familia with Rafael Disla (June 2019) and Conceptos TV Univision, Boston with Efrain Abreu (June 2019). Videos of my readings and speeches can be found on YouTube.

Elijah, Adriana and Cristina chatting by a table with a laptop on it. Both Adriana and Cristina are wheelchair users
Cristina conversing with Elijah and Adriana at PuffinInno HQ

How I Came to Work at Puffin Innovations

On Friday, June 28, 2019, I went to an event called, Community Forum on Disability Issues at Suffolk University Law School, hosted by the Boston Mayor’s Commission for Persons with Disabilities and the City of Boston. During the forum, there was an open-floor period for questions. Among the issues under discussion was, Youth with Disabilities in the Workforce. The target age group was 18-25. I was outside that group’s purview (I’m 26), and I asked what work opportunities were open to me as a writer.

At the end of the event, I spoke with Disability Commissioner, Kristen McCosh and she introduced me to Adriana Mallozzi, CEO of Puffin Innovations. Adriana and I discussed our views on Assistive Technology (AT) and accessibility and we agreed to schedule an interview to talk further. Days later at the conclusion of that interview, I accepted to work at Puffin Innovations as an intern.

Why I Joined the Team

As a writer who has CP, I know that AT is a vital part of a wheelchair user’s life. Every piece of technology I use from my wheelchair to my computer has allowed me to navigate in the world around me on my own terms. Since joining the Puffin team, I have realized that there is a fundamental flaw in AT today – the user has to adapt to the technology, and in my case, I must have access to my computer to use my AT.

Usually AT is not portable.

Cellphones are the most portable technologies in our world today. Like myself, there are persons with disabilities who don’t own a mobile phone simply because of the inability to use one due to underdeveloped fine motor skills. That’s where the Puffin comes in. It is a Bluetooth device that can easily interact with a computer or cellphone. Now the user’s AT is portable and can go where the user goes.

The portability of the Puffin is what gets me so excited about it and I look forward to helping spread the word about the goings-on at Puffin Innovations.

Stay tuned!

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