Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Frontier Psychiatrist by the Avalanches

Only vaguely related to the blog at hand, Psychiatry themed techno. The video is frankly distracting, but the music is good. I suggest shutting your eyes and enjoying the music.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

$15 coupon for Enable Mart

FYI, there's currently available a $15 coupon for Enable Mart, an AT vendor, via Cubital-Tunnel a site dedicated to Cubital-Tunnel Syndrome. Visit the Cubita-Tunnel site for more information on this repetitive strain injury that can lead to pain in the fingers and arms.

Whether you have Cubital-Tunnel Syndrome or not, given the cost of AT these days, $15 may not go far, but is always welcome.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Life's not fair

Its not fair that a genuinely good person, and 25 year old newlywed should have to have a mastecotomy.

Best of luck with your surgery today K.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Digital Wheel Art

Interesting use for the Wii- mote (the controller for the game system Wii), to allow a significantly impaired wheelchair user draw electronically. Basically, the Wii mote works by tracking the movement of the hand held controler in relation to the tv set top box. In this example, one half of the Wii is strapped to the wheel chair and allows the user to move the chair around the floor as though they were painting, while their track is "drawn" on a screen.

There is a short article, and some videos. I have included one below, but it makes more sense once you read the articles and arrangement of technology.

Great use of existing technology. The designer notes that it allows individuals with significant mobility impairments the ability to express themselves artistically.

Digital Wheel Art from Young Hyun Chung on Vimeo.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

One for the guys (and the guys you love) aka Carpe Testes

Breast cancer has had plenty of press, public service announcements and awareness raising programs. It's acceptable to talk about self exams in polite company.

But how about one for the guys. I've always wondered what the ads for mens self exams would look like. With the rise of the awareness wrist bands and magnetic ribbons for the cars, I could just picture the one for the men being two upside down ribbons (think about it......). I can't imagine Channel 13 doing a buddy to buddy on checking your testicles.

Arrive Carpe Testes the public awareness site of the Sean Kimerling Testicular Cancer Foundation. Having stumbled on the Sing Along video on You Tube, I had to check out the origin. Thankfully I did, as the other videos are engaging and hilarious as well. From the Sing a long of euphemisms for "the boys" (captioned) to an ice hockey themed "Check your nuts...Often" (both below) the videos pass along an important message.
So, send this along for a laugh and a reminder to the men you love to "Check their nuts"

After you're done checking them, don't forget the Balla Powder for men. Yes it's "Testicle Talc" (per Boing Boing)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Accessible Playgrounds

The New York Times has a nice article on accessible playgrounds and how more communities are making playgrounds more accessible.

"With the summer in full swing, playgrounds are a daily part of life for most families with small children. But for many disabled children, they remain tantalizingly out of reach. That is starting to change in many towns around the region, where handicapped accessible playgrounds and ball fields are being built or planned. "

Friday, July 18, 2008

"Activist: Obit: Harriet McBryde Johnson

The Wall St. Journal has a great article on the passing of Harriet McBryde Johnson who is listed as a "disability rights activist". I confess I was not aware of Mrs. McBryde before reading this obituary, but love her positions.

I particularly like the piece of the article about her work with "Jerry's Orphans"

"Ms. Johnson was part of a disability rights movement that had changed dramatically since the first Jerry Lewis Labor Day telethons in the 1960s, with their offensive references to "cripples" and their maudlin descriptions of "killer diseases." She worked with people like Mike Ervin, a former Muscular Dystrophy Association poster child who founded a group, "Jerry's Orphans," to protest the telethons; Ms. Johnson herself demonstrated every Labor Day on the streets of her hometown of Charleston, S.C. "
This is perhaps one of the most insideous issues in disability, is the telethon. It creates sympathy, perpetuates the "supercrip" idea, and instills fear. "No Pity: People with Disabilities forging a New Civil Rights Movement" by Joseph Shapiro has a great discussion of this issue.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Optimus Maximus Keyboard

Tekzilla has an interesting video on a new keyboard, that has previously only been in theory. The basic premise is that the keys are small computer screens 48 pixles x 48 pixles and allows the user to program each key with a specific image and / or function.
Primarily designed for graphic designers and other tech heavy occupations. This would allow the user to reduce the number of key strokes dramatically, by allowing the user to program the keyboard based on the program they're using. The demo of the keyboard runs from 14:21- 24:16minutes

The top end model, Optimus Maximus is $1800, though other models are available, even down to a 3 button version, called the Mini three, which will set you back $183.

No not specifically Assistive Tech, and quite cost prohibitive, I can see how this technology could in the future allow a user to have a keyboard or other programmable surface customized based on their environment, be that work, shopping, socializing or at home. It's currenty a very cool gadget for the truely devoted (and more wealthy tech lover).

Monday, July 14, 2008

Web Anywhere! Web based screen reader

The University of Washington News has a great article on a new web based software that will allow users who are blind or visually impaired to surf the web with the assistance of screen reader. The greatest benefit is that they can now use any internet connected computer, from the library or a friends house without having to worry whether they have the right software or downloading other programs.
The software basically frames the top of the page, and the web page the user is reading is below. The developers have plans to continue to develop the software to allow users to customize the voice, speed and pitch.

The service and demonstrations can be found at

Friday, July 11, 2008

Disability, self image and sexuality

A recent London Times article talks about the rise in popularity of doll portraying individuals with disabilities. They give the example of a doll manufacturer who produces dolls which resemble individuals with Down's syndrome, and how there has been a positive reception to them by individuals with disabilities. They also note:

"They are not the only “disability dolls” available on the market. Far from it. You can buy dolls with prosthetic limbs, walking frames, hearing aids, “blind” dolls complete with guide dogs. When Mattel launched Becky - Barbie's friend in a wheelchair - it sold out within two weeks. In the past few years, the toy industry has been waking up to the fact that it makes good financial sense to cater for overlooked consumer groups."
Okay, so these dolls aren't designed to fit the unrealistic Barbie expectations of beauty. How about a disabled model? This is just what a british show "Missing Model" is attempting to do (and no the contestants are not all amputees). Catwalk Queen has an interesting article about the show and how it's "shining a light on disability in the fashion industry"
The Guardian had an opinion piece about the same issue, and is similarly conflicted to myself.

And of all places, Fox news actually has a decent article which is actually shining a light on the reality of individuals with disabilties being sexual.

Is showing an individual with a disability as a doll, sexual being, model appropriate? Of course! I guess I object to the model show because its saying that these women are beautiful as models, but couldn't compare to a non-disabled model. Sometimes I feel like I should be thankful that there's an awareness of disability and that it can be sexy and worthy of a show. Good on them for recognizing that, but separate, no.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Behold the Fulgurator

The Fulgurator is an innocuous device that allows you to insert an image or text into any photograph by pointing it at the object being photographed. Though not visible to the naked eye, the text or image shows up on the picture.
Wired Article about the Fulgurator
Official Fulgurator site (via Google translator)

The video below shows the Fulgurator in action at Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin.

Okay, so it' not disability related, but its still very cool.

Monday, July 7, 2008

"Existing Drug Reverses a Form of Mental Retardation in Mice"

Scientific American has an article about a drug that has apparently caused the reversal of a form of mental retardation "linked" to autism. The drug, rapamycin, is used in surgery to reduce the rejection of transplanted organs and was found to have other benefits.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Sir Hawking? Not likely!

Will Stephen Hawking be kinighted? He reportedly turned down the honor, "because of his apparent distaste for titles and his anger at the way in which the British government has handled scientific funding over the years." according to IT News. According to another article by IT News, the relvelation was made in correspondence released by Hawking.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Lego Vault

Gizmodo has a great video and article on the Lego vault that has every set of Legos manufactured (all 4,720 of them) going back to the 50's.

I'd love to see the Weebles' vault. Yes, "They weeble. They wabble, but they don't fall down." For a bit of Weeble nostalga, check out the Weeble fan site, with a great gallery of weeble and accessories. They even have the Weeble pirate ship I had as a kid.