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The Physically Challenged Investigator
By Lillee Allee
Today we have more and more individuals with physical disabilities, some are obviously apparent; others are invisible. The goal of this article is to encourage those with physical disabilities who enjoy the paranormal to be a part of a team. Like with anything in life, the challenged individual will need to share information and communicate with the team members.
While we humans have longer lives through the miracles of science, many maturing adults end up with some form of disability. Knees, ankles, shoulders and wrists may be affected from years of wear. Others may have back issues that can occur at any age. Using computers in various positions can affect one’s neck adversely. There are also those who have had challenges since birth. The physically challenged investigator can be valuable to paranormal teams. It is all about finding a position for yourself that includes your interest and can reasonably accommodate your disability.
There isn’t research available on how many disabled individuals are currently on paranormal teams. However, one gentleman by the name of Tom Miles from the Dover Paranormal team blogged about his work with his team. His disability was work-related and today has foot and leg issues that have changed his life considerably. He was forced to leave his career and go on disability. At first, he was very depressed about having to give up his professional position. He also had to give up driving due to the lack of sensation in his feet and because he had to wear a corrective boot. With the help of family, he began to realize that instead of seeing this as a liability, he could start following his passion with the paranormal. Miles stated that because his mother had been disabled before him, he already had gained understanding of how a disability can affect your entire life. He stated:
“I also leaned that if you put your mind to it, you can do anything. But sometimes you just need a little help. There are many things that a person with a disability can do for a paranormal team. Just because a certain part of the body doesn’t function right doesn’t mean the person can still do his job.”
Kelly Spina, a representative for the National Paranormal Society has a different type of disability, but she can be accommodated by her team. Her disability can affect her general health and is affected by the weather. Her team allows her to skype into meetings if she is not up to going to the meeting. Her main position is the occult specialist, so she can do her work at anytime. When a client works with her team, other members work on the scientific end, while she researches the supernatural aspects and how to deal with what they may encounter.She is considered an alternative investigator, so she can attend according to her ability on that day.
Spina has learned to work well with team members. They understand her limitations and the team strives to work around them She is limited in mobility, having trouble with stairs and uneven ground, such as in a graveyard. The team accommodates her by having her partner with another investigator so she will not fall or become lost (since phones are not allowed at these investigations.) If there are levels to the site, she takes the ground level for observation.
Spina stated that she has found a team and can enjoy her investigating. She offered this advice:
“Don’t let anyone treat you like you’re an inconvenience, but also know your limits. I walk with a Canadian crutch when it’s cold or rainy, and I have to speak up for what my body is and isn’t capable of doing. They won’t know unless I speak up. I also take it upon myself to suggest what ways they can accommodate me. I never want to be viewed as an inconvenience by my team, I only want to be viewed as an asset.”
What positions are best for the disabled? It depends on the individual and their particular physical disability. Here are some examples:
Things that a disabled person can do to help a paranormal team with an investigation:
You can’t be a team if you have nowhere to investigate. The case manager often will be looking for public places to peruse. This position may also involve being in touch with local networking with businesses and organizations. He/she may also be involved with intake: initial interviews with the clients, keeping folders with information for the members, planning the dates and times, organizing the appropriate group for a particular case and set up any and all meetings. All of these tasks may be done from home, and meetings can be online or through a group phone call as needed. Talents needed: organization, communication, basic internet experience.
Research is an important aspect of any case, and it in fact could be considered the backbone of the case itself. Without knowing the history of the area, the specific site, police reports, etc, one could only go on the words of the client, who is looking for answers outside of his/herself. This can be done through short walks or entirely on the phone and computer. This is particularly an exciting job for older individuals who need to get out of the house. Those who are retired may have some excellent contacts and insight as to the resources in the area. This work can also be done among a number of members, accommodating and highlighting each person’s strength. The talents needed for research involve writing, patience and the ability to offer theories to the team.
The reality shows do not show you the reality of evidence review. Audio and video needs to be reviewed and analyzed. A sight-challenged individual would work well with the audio; while a hearing-challenged individual may be able to do some of the video. Those who are confined to the home may also be able to sift through all the information. Miles points out that this is a great position for someone who cannot physically go on the investigation, as they can experience the investigation from the evidence. Sometimes the best eyes and ears on these “tapes” are those who are fresh and who were not there. It also avoids investigator bias.
Lead Investigator’s Assistant
Some lead investigators would welcome someone who would review the Reveal with them before the Lead has to present it to the client. An assistant can also interface with the case manager to schedule team members, confirm availability and collect the information from the case manager and the researchers.
Marketing and Public Relations/Website
One of the most important people on the team are those who work on the website and interface with organizations and other groups. The website is often the first impression any potential clients have. A strong presentation also offers credibility to the team. These individuals must have strong web experience but today there are also aids in building a website that there were not available in the past. The public relations end would involve fundraisers and the occasional press release as needed. These individuals may also be strong writers and editors so the page is easy to read and again, offers a professional presentation.
Record-Keeper and Case Closer
This individual will keep a record of all the investigations with the evidence and information. This person would also involve him/herself with a study such as Project Endeavor from the National Paranormal Society to aid in finding answers as to what teams are experiencing in the field.
These are just some of the wonderful opportunities for disabled individuals to involve themselves with the paranormal field. As Miles said:
“ If you have a disability, there are places you can go and I know there are teams out there who have a place for you just as our team has made a place for us. If you have a team in search of team members to help with evidence review, case management, research, monitoring equipment in the field, give a disabled person a chance, you may just be surprised!
Miles, Tom. Ghost Hunting with a Disability – Dover Paranormal Team. May 13, 2014. Retrieved October 1, 2015 from https://tipaonline.wordpress.com/2013/05/14/ghost-hunting-with-a-disability/.
Spina, Kelly. Personal Interview. October 2015.