Whether disability, hair colour or clothing style – for Mano Grande, such characteristics are just ballast that leads to people being pigeonholed. With his podcast, the 40-year-old wants to contribute to seeing people as the individuals they really are. What he thinks about the German content creators Rezo and Julien Bam and how he rolls otherwise, he tells us on REHACARE.com.
Name: Mano Grande Age: 40 City: Niestetal near Kassel, Germany Occupation: Among other things, enthusiastic podcaster Disability: High degree of visual impairment
Mano Grande: A good day starts with a cool breeze on your face and sunshine in your heart. That's when creativity bubbles up best. Usually my host colleague Paul O'Dono gets a good morning message and the latest ideas for our podcast MmB_Community on Spotify. Throughout the day, we debate the important and the absurd, and in the evening we enjoy the growing number of listeners.
Which auxiliary means or daily living aids are indispensable for you?
Mano Grande: I need anything that magnifies – mainly my digital magnification and reading aid, which also plays a helping role in the podcast and is called Carmen. In addition, I like to use a light aluminium mobility cane instead of a white cane, as vision still works a bit. Autonomy is very important to me, so I always try to do things myself or have people show me how to do them independently.
What would you like to see from society and your fellow people in dealing with people with disabilities?
Mano Grande: I wish, for me, for you, for everyone, to be seen as a human being free of characteristics, not as a person with a disability or a person with black hair or green trousers, but as the human being that I am.
Diversity makes every individual different. The consideration of diversity implies equal treatment and equal rights. Everyone who realises that because of who they are, they are considered different from who they actually are, should join together. The group would be incredibly large and would finally stand up for the same thing: We are not numbers on file folders that can be pigeonholed. We are human beings. With this simple truth, racism and discrimination are null and void because there are no characteristics to reduce to. My small wish today is tolerance, my big wish tomorrow is acceptance, and the day after tomorrow there will be no need for these terms either, then we will just be human beings.
Which assistive device would urgently need to be invented and/or improved?
Mano Grande: If someone were to grant me a personal wish for an assistive device, it would be a device or an app that could be linked to a pair of glasses that registers my environment and tells me what is happening around me. A very practical approach here would be to tell me where road works or traffic lights are or what the traffic situation is like around me. But also, for example, in an amusement park, which roller coaster is in front of me and how long the queue is. I think my Round-About-Scan-App (RASA) is sufficiently explained. The app would make up for an important deficit in my mobility impairment.
In their podcast project MmB Community, Mano Grande and his colleague Paul O'Dono talk about issues around self-determination, community and society.
What has been your biggest challenge so far that you have mastered – and what has helped you?
Mano Grande: Every challenge is ad hoc the biggest one to overcome. Right now, the podcast project is one of the great masteries. It was only in May 2023 that Paul and I got to know each other during the introductory block of the Peer Councelor training of bifos e.V.. One evening the question "Imagine doing a podcast" was thrown in.
In the weeks that followed, the question had an effect and the project took off. After a lot of planning, designing, testing, all that was thrown overboard in order to roll around new ideas and create a style of their own. The pace quickened and on a long weekend in early July we locked ourselves up at Paul home in Potsdam, painstakingly got hardware and software up and running and had to educate ourselves to become experts in order to produce an audible result. In a hair-raising effort, three German-language episodes were created, episode 1 "We take the room" can already be enjoyed on Spotify.
What can the assistive technology industry learn from the Corona pandemic to make life easier and/or better for people with disabilities in the future?
Mano Grande: The topic of the Corona pandemic is still politically and socially charged today and I try to stay out of these discussions. Personally, I benefited from the rapid expansion of digitalisation, was 100 perecnt able to work and did not have to go on short-time work.
In my private life, too, we slid through the pandemic rather smoothly. Of course, I would like to see further expansion of digitization and digital media. Above all, the accessibility of communication software is important to me. Operation is one thing, but I use a 6-fold magnification on the monitor, which makes the whole handling difficult. I think it's not atypical that apps come first, then apps with many functions, and then the handling is simplified. We have not yet reached the third step.
If nothing was impossible: Who would you like to meet one day and why?
Mano Grande: I would like to meet the buddies from the German Hobbylos podcast. Rezo and Julien Bam report in a relaxed and funny way on topics from everyday life and Paul and I also want to maintain this podcast style. The only difference is that our topics are mainly in the area of "living self-determinedly with disabilities".
What was your best REHACARE experience?
Mano Grande: I would like to digress into a "what if": I would have loved to be live at "Pimp my Wheelchair" (former REHACARE competition). I would love to be on a stage for a live podcast episode at the REHACARE trade fair and I would love to meet other "How we roll" interviewees.
What I wanted to say...
Mano Grande: When people are seen as deficient, they are put in the victim drawer. People with special characteristics are not victims, but above all strong personalities. With our podcast "MmB_Community – the community for people with disabilities and all people" we want to offer a light approach to the topic, counter with self-irony and tackle mental barriers with wit.