Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Banjo Playing During Brain Surgery

"Now you can truly call Eddie Adcock the Bionic Banjo Player --and don't forget Gearhead Guitarist-- as he recovers from some remarkable brain surgeries to control a right-hand tremor.

The three-part surgery, termed Deep Brain Stimulation, involved implantation of electrodes into the brain as well as insertion of a palm-sized battery-powered generator within the chest wall, plus lead wires to connect the two. The technologically-advanced procedure was performed in multiple stages over the month of August in Nashville, Tennessee, at Vanderbilt Medical Center, a teaching and research hospital which is a world leader in neurological studies and surgeries.

Those neurosurgeons were eager to operate on Eddie, with his life-long high level of musical accomplishment and the unique requirements related to his fine motor skills. During the brain-implantation stage of the surgery, he was kept conscious in order to be able to play his Deering GoodTime banjo and assist the team of surgeons in directing the fine-tuning of their placement of electrodes in the brain -- an operating-room 'first'.

According to Eddie, "I came up in music the hard way and learned to be a trouper fast. Some of those early days were pretty rough, and I've been stomped, cut and kicked; but I never went through hell like this -- it was the most painful thing I've ever endured. And it was risky. But I did it for a reason: I'm looking forward to being able to play music the way I did years ago prior to getting this tremor. It means that much to me. I'm far from being done!"

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Blind Leading the Non-Blind; Dialogue in the Dark

More than disability awareness, Dialogue in the Dark appears to give sighted people the experience of some of the more unique aspects of being visually impaired.
"Spend one hour in complete darkness, maneuvering through city streets and markets, relying only on a walking cane and a guide who is visually impaired. That's the premise behind Dialog in the Dark, a sensory exhibit that made its U.S. debut in late August in Atlanta...Dialog in the Dark, founded 20 years ago in Germany, opened at the Atlantic Station Exhibition Center on Aug. 30. It requires visitors to navigate through five familiar environments. They must complete routine tasks, such as selecting a pineapple at the market or purchasing a soda at a café, relying only on scents, sounds, temperatures and textures.

The first gallery visitors explore is a park — complete with a waterfall, creek and ground that turns from gravel to wood chips."

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Monday, October 20, 2008

Breast Cancer Benefit Dinner Saturday 10/25

I would like to encourage everyone who reads this to attend this dinner or donate to this amazing young woman. She is my cousin and is a genuinely good person who spent her summers and school vacations doing service projects such as Habitat for Humanity, supporting environmental causes and raising political awareness. Support as much as you can, she is truly worthy of your support. Thank you. Tickets are available via Ebay or at the door

"Local Benefit for Young Newlywed Battling Breast Cancer Kaitlin Janssen and Kevin Osborne grew up in small Maine towns neighboring each other, but it wasn’t until the summer of 2005 that their paths crossed and they fell in love. On June 7, 2008 Kevin and Kaitlin, both 25 years of age, married at St. George’s Lake and celebrated their nuptials at Bar Harbor for their honeymoon. Three weeks after the celebration of their new life together, Kaitlin was diagnosed with stage-three breast cancer. Since her diagnosis, she has undergone surgery and begun chemotherapy...As breast cancer awareness month comes to a close, Kaitlin is one of the thousands of women diagnosed annually. She also demonstrates that the disease affects more young women, under the age of 35, every year. On, Saturday, October 25, 2008, the couple’s family and friends are hosting a spaghetti dinner and raffle in their benefit to help raise money for mounting medical expenses. The benefit will be held at the Boynton-Webber American Legion Hall in South China from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The hall is located just past the intersection of route 3 and route 202. The raffle will include prizes such as handmade quilts, breakfast for two, movie rentals, oil changes, massages, and much more. Tickets for the dinner are $10 per adult, $5 per child under 10, and $25 per family of four or more. Online ticket purchases will be available for pickup at the door. Raffle tickets are $1 each or $5 for 6 tickets are also available online. Also, if anyone is interested in making a contribution to Kevin and Kaitlin, they can send donations of their choice to any Bank of America banking center c/o Kaitlin and Kevin Osborne Benefit. "

Tickets via Ebay

See also Kate's Platypus and Life's not fair

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Getting Accommodations in College

A good short article on getting accommodations for ACT and SATs as well as at colleges. It clearly states the need to self identify, meet with the coordinator and get accommodations in place. Its clear and concise, and a nice reference for students and families.
I especially like that it encourages students to negotiate accommodations even if they don't think they'll need them. It's better to have them an not use them, than need them and not have them.

NPR piece on Prepping Kids with Disabilities for College

Also great: Toto, I have a feeling we're not in High school any more. A more comprehensive guide from the University of Montana Missoula

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Friday, October 17, 2008

Kate's Platypus

This is for Kate, I thought you'd appreciate this.

We think of you often,

From Busted Tees

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Christian Perspective of Downs Syndrome

In a very compassionate article Al Hsu talks about having a son with downs syndrome and how is wife and he were encouraged to abort the child. It doesn't preach against abortion, but argues that the church should look to protect all of those with disabilities against discrimination.

"Jean Vanier, founder of L'Arche communities, which bring abled and disabled people together under one roof, warns in Living Gently in a Violent World that in a few years there may be no more children with Down syndrome in France because they will have all been aborted. In China, babies with disabilities are often abandoned. Extremist groups in the Middle East have even used people with mental disabilities as unwitting suicide bombers. The church must advocate on behalf of those most vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. Care for the disabled is a global justice issue.

The 2000 U.S. Census found that 19.4 percent of the population is affected by physical or intellectual disability. One in 140 children now has an autism spectrum disorder, according to the 2007 Annual Review of Public Health. Cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injuries, spina bifida, Alzheimer's, and a host of other conditions affect millions. If you don't currently know someone with a disability, chances are that you will.

All of us are only temporarily abled. We are only a car acci-dent or stroke away from disability. "

Its great to see another perspective on disabliity, and the entire article is worth a read.

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Buying Dragon AT on Ebay

Nice article from Hand to Mouth: Assistive Technology about buying Dragon Natually Speaking 9.5 software from Ebay and what to watch out for. He warns against

“'disk' only” auctions, sold in quantities too large to be believable. You can bet that they’re pirated. The pirated software is a truly bad thing to buy, not only for legal reasons but also functional reasons. One disk means one serial number, a unique way of identifying that particular installation disk."
He says that other warning signs are no box, no paper manual, and not a Dragon headset.

His recommendations would go equally well for any other software I would suspect as well, whether AT software such as Dragon or JAWS, or more general purpose software.

FYI a free version of JAWS is available from the the Freedom Scientific website, it allows you to use it for 40 minutes then locks up, and you have to restart your computer to use it again. Fine for someone like me who uses it for accessibility testing, not great for a regular user. Is a great way to try it out and get some familiarity with it and see if its for you before laying out the $895 for it.

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Thursday, October 9, 2008

Stilt Walking for CP

Article and some great video of a guy who walked across Michigan on stilts to raise money for CP. Quite the feat (no pun intended). His name is Neil Sauter and his site is called Stilt Story, so check him out.

Rise above from Nick Dentamaro on Vimeo.

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Sunday, October 5, 2008

SSA Releases Annual Statistics

If you're a data person, SSA has released their annual statistics for SSDI for 2007.

Some highlights include

  • Disability benefits were paid to more than 8.1 million people.
  • Benefits were terminated for 522,349 disabled workers.
  • Average age was slightly over 52.
  • Men represented about 53 percent.
  • Mental disorders was the diagnosis for about a third
On a similar vein, Amateur Economist has an article People With Disabilities in the U.S. Labor Market. It has a few more frightening statistics
  • 37.7% of people with disabilities in the U.S. population were in employment in 2006
  • people with disabilities earned an average of $33,109 compared with $43,269 for non-disabled employees.
And they make the argument that "Since there are around 30.6 million people aged between 21 and 64 in the U.S. who have some form of disability, this group represents a potentially valuable source of recruitment that is likely to become increasingly important as the size of the working age population in the U.S. declines due to demographic change."

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Thursday, October 2, 2008

Book Review: Toyota Culture- The Heart and Soul of the Toyota Way

Toyota Culture; The Heart and Soul of the Toyota Way
Jeffrey K. Liker and Michael Hoseus
McGraw-Hill Ryerson Canada, 2008

"Toyota Culture: The Heart and Soul of the Toyota Way (2008) by Jeffrey Liker and Michael Hoseus gives readers amazing insight and appreciation for how Toyota is run. More companies should treat their customers and employees with such respect as Toyota does. As impressive a as Toyota Culture is, the level of detail the provides obscures the lessons being taught.

Two of the main themes that run through the business is respect and continuous improvement. The goal of Toyota is to produce a flawless car, and they continue to strive to achieve this through continuous refinement of the manufacturing process..."

Read the rest of my review at Associated Content.

A review for Mini Book Expo: Full Disclosure

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