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Using a disability as an opportunity to teach

His own experience with cerebral palsy motivated Steve Bradley  to start a consulting business.  (Photo by David Knopf/Richmond News)

His own experience with cerebral palsy motivated Steve Bradley to start a consulting business. (Photo by David Knopf/Richmond News)

Hardin man turns his experience into business for better handicap accessibility

By David Knopf/Richmond News

It’s almost 37 years since Steve Bradley’s parents moved from Kansas City to Hardin so he could attend a one-story school and not be sent to a state school for kids with disabilities.

“We found a 1A school with one level where I could get around and I’ve been here ever since,” said Bradley, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when he was 2.

He turns 44 next month.

Bradley gets around with the help of forearm crutches and, for greater distances, uses a wheelchair. The experience of living with the disability – and encountering obstacles at home, in stores and the world at large – led him to create his own business, Handicapped Accessibility Consultants.

The goal, he said, is to make life easier, both for people with disabilities and the elderly, while earning an income for his family.

“HAC is kind of a 10-year branch out,” he said of the consulting service. “I had this idea when my kids were still little and at home. I’ve decided to take the years of knowledge I have and make an impact.”

Bradley’s family has deep roots in Hardin. His parents, Steve and Patricia Bradley, still live in town as do Steve, his wife Fairlane and their son Steve Bradley III, 17, who’ll be a junior at Hardin-Central this fall.

A daughter Angelica, 20, grew up in town and is in California training as an Air Force linguist. Bradley’s “little sister,” Melissa Stevens, works at Hardin City Hall and has been a second mother to him.

“She might as well be Mom No. 2 as much as she looks out for me,” Bradley said. “She always has.”

Although Bradley managed for a while to work outside the home, circumstance put him in the role of stay-at-home dad when the kids were young. His wife, a Henkel employee, has been the breadwinner all these years while Steve managed family finances and did what he could around the house.

Now that their daughter’s grown and on her own and their son’s on the threshold of adulthood, Bradley sees an opportunity to pursue his dream – “Creating a 100 percent accessible world – one business at a time,” as his business card notes.

 

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