Friday, August 29, 2008

What to do before school starts for your child with a hearing impairment

Hearing Exchange has a short article with some simple recommendations about how to get ready for the start of the new school year.

  1. "Meet the Teacher in Advance
  2. Verify that Devices are Working
  3. Check your Child's Hearing and Devices
  4. Stock up on batteries and spare parts
  5. Tour a new school"
See the entire article at Hearing Exchange for details

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Phelps and ADHD part II

As a follow up to an earlier post here at Maine VRC, I was able to track down this article about Michael Phelps and his ADHD

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Disabled athletes at Beijing 2008

Though you may not realize it if you've been watching the TV coverage of the Olympics, there is more than Michael Phelps and beach volleyball. The Montreal Gazette has a good article on two athletes who are competing in Beijing 2008 who are missing part of an arm and a leg respectively.

"Natalia Partyka of Poland, who was born with a right arm that ends at the elbow, competed in women's team table tennis today. Natalie du Toit of South Africa, whose left leg was amputated just below the knee after a 2001 motorcycle accident, will swim the new 10-kilometre open-water discipline next week."

Media dis&dat has pictures of the two athletes in action

Though he didn't qualify for the Olympics, Oscar Pistorious will run at the Paralympic games. If you're not familiar with him, he fought (and won) to compete against able bodied runners, and there was some debate about whether he had an advantage because of his prosthetics. Though from last year, the video below is an interesting piece on the S. African runner.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Interview NY Governor David Patterson (by Katie Couric)

Interesting interview with David Patterson, NY Governor

He notes some scary statistics about employment; that 25 percent of those with blindness and 10% of those who have deafness are employed, but yet they exceed the national average educationally. I would have liked to see a little more person first language from him rather than "Deaf girl", but still a good piece that doesn't sentimentalize him or try to make him a "super crip" or inspirational.
I was surprised at his lack of using assistive technology, or technology in general. It seems like he could have so much more information at his fingertips were he to use a screen reader and e-mail. Either way, a good piece about the Governor of New York.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Book Review: Flight of the Hummingbird

Flight of the Hummingbird: A Parable for the Environment

Flight of the Hummingbird by Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas is a beautifully simple environmental parable about a hummingbird. The parable of the hummingbird has its origins among natives of South America and the Haida of the north west of North America. The author notes that a common theme in Haida stories is that "the most diminutive creature -a mouse, a frog, even that curious being that becomes smaller the closer it approaches, that offers the critical gift or necessary solution." As is the case with the hummingbird, who does what she can to fight a forest fire.

The artwork of is amazing, similar style to other Haida artwork I have seen, with smooth lines, and beautifully shaped animals. The illustrations are sharp and clean in red and black. It is a nicely crafted book, with textured dust jacket and illustrated end papers.

The Dalai Lama provides the afterward of the book, encouraging "universal responsibility."
"Nowadays, significant events in one part of the world eventually affect the entire planet. Therefore, we have to treat each problem as a global concern from the moment it begins. We can no longer invoke the national, racial or ideological barriers that separate us without prompting destructive repercussions."
I was attracted to the book because of the environmental theme, and after reading about the author's artwork. The forward and afterwords were bonus' in their concise and poignant messages. A beautiful gift for anyone who is concerned about the environment, or enjoys beautiful artwork.

Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas

Video for Flight of the Hummingbird (via You Tube)
Mini Book Expo
Full Disclosure

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Friday, August 15, 2008

Paralympic Games Opening Preview

Interesting article about a couple artists involved in the opening of the Paralympic Games. Beautiful piece called the Thousand Arm Buddha Dance

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Michael Phelps and ADHD

Before Michael Phelps won his gold medals, he received treatment for ADHD. The New York Times recently ran an article about Michael Phelps mother and parenting Michael was treated for ADHD and took Ritalin for two years, starting at age 9. What I found especially interesting about the article is that it illustrates the paradox that teachers and parents find in so many kids with ADHD, that they can focus on certain types of tasks.

" Ms. Phelps watched the boy who couldn’t sit still at school sit for four hours at a meet waiting to swim his five minutes’ worth of races...He always did his swimming homework. “In high school, they’d send tapes from his international races,” Ms. Phelps said. “He’d say, ‘Mom I want to have dinner in front of the TV and watch tapes.’ We’d sit and he’d critique his races. He’d study the turns — ‘See, that’s where I lifted my head.’ I couldn’t even see what he was talking about. Over and over. I’m like, ‘whoa.’ ”

Apparently Debbie Phelps has been hired by Ortho-McNeil-Janssen as a celebrity mother to talk about her experience with ADHD on a Facebook page called ADHD Moms. In her article for ADHD Moms, she gives some great recommendations for working with the school, communicating with the teacher, but also what do to at home to support the student with ADHD, such as structure, exercise, snacks. I did find it interesting that in the article, she states a couple times to "behavior modifications combined with medication" may be helpful. and she herself allowed Michael to come off medications after 2 years. Ultimately, it is sponsored by a drug company.
Interestingly, all of the "Resources" they list show a web address (such as for the American Academy of Pediatrics, but when clicked bring you to ADHD Moms (oversight or poor design?)

Article on Johnson and Johnson site regarding ADHD Moms
Permalink to article by Deborah Phelps for ADHD Moms

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Concerns about ADA revisions

Apparently there's been some concern about the revisions to the ADA. They have recently passed the House of Representitives, and will be read in the Senate in September.
A recent article in Diverse Issues in Higher Education notes:

"Two sections of the legislation will have unintended and negative consequences for our members in their role as academic institutions, says Dr. Terry Hartle, senior vice president of government and public affairs at the American Council on Education.
One provision would add thinking and concentrating to the list of major life activities for which students with difficulties may request accommodations. Hartle says the change could allow students to claim limits on their ability that would be difficult to verify...
Another concern is that colleges would have less flexibility to consider other measures, such as a study skills course or even a change in student behavior toward school, in determining whether a student needs formal accommodations."

Text of the ADA
Another article expressing concern about the revisions

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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Book Review: Click; What Millions of People are Doing Online and Why it Matters

Click; What Millions of People are Doing Online and Why it Matters

Bill Tancer loves data. He loves it so much he has a blog called "I love Data". His book, Click; What Millions of People are Doing Online and Why it Matters is an extension of that love. As the general manager of Hitwise, his job is to evaluate internet traffic for companies to better understand consumers and how to market to them.

Click is divided into two sections, the first reads largely like a laundry list as he explores interesting pieces of data and trends he has encountered over the years. Such as, that there is a surge in searches for prom dresses starting in January, and how this has been driven by magazines for girls expanding the advertising season. How our New Years hopes (and failures), and are reflected in search terms. As well as what we need to know; "How to tie a tie" topped out at #1.

Throughout the first half of the book, I kept wanting him to go beyond the statistics, and talk about the social aspects and impact of this types of data. I got my wish in the second half of the book. He explores the idea of intimacy, and friendship through the social networking sites, and how we’ve gone from the concept of 150 close friends to thousands. He questions at one point though, whether the technology that has so much potential to bring us together through improved communication, is it actually isolating us. He also examines the impact and interaction of television and search, especially in relation to advertising (The Apprentice), and competition shows such as Dancing with the Stars.

Throughout the book he observes the changing nature of the searches, and how they’re becoming more specific and sophisticated. He questions the changes in on line behavior. I expect that as the generations continue to age with the internet, that people will be more open in these public spaces. At the moment, many of the users of the internet are still struggling with the blend of privacy, anonymity and publicity of the internet and how to balance these. Young people now see little division between their physical lives and their on line lives, and as they age, the data will change with them. The proportions of people asking more of their search engines and finding new ways to make money and share on the internet will increase.

I found it a bit frightening how much information Hitwise was able to track regarding internet users, but as Neitzche said “When you look into the abyss, the abyss looks back.” Click got my imagination going regarding what I could find and how I would sort the data were I in a position, but also made me question what my surfing says about me. Though I would have liked to see a deeper examination of some issues, such as group sourcing of information, a la Wikipedia and commercial sites, Click provided engaging insights into the internet as it exists today and how we’re changing with the net. A great read for data people, and those who love the internet or do business on-line.

Bill Tancer

Hyperion Books

Mini Book Expo

Full Disclosure

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Unclaimed Economic Stimulus payments

Get the word out that there's unclaimed stimulus payments

Go to for more information on unclaimed stimulus payments and how to claim them.

According to the Maine fact sheet(pdf.) there are nearly 31,000 yet to file, and over $900,000 in unclaimed stimulus payments.

Many low income households may not have filed a tax return because they didn't earn enough to be required to, but that is how the checks are figured. So, check with your clients whether they've received their payments and let them know how to claim their stimulus payment if they haven't. No sense in leaving money on the table.

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Friday, August 8, 2008

Driving while disabled

The other week, I came across a number of articles and blog posts about a "study, compiled recently by the U.S. Government Accountability Office found "hundreds of thousands of tractor-trailer and bus drivers in the U.S. carry commercial driver's licenses despite also qualifying for full federal disability payments for medical conditions" involving such things as heart disorders, sleep apnea and diabetes. " (source)

In Maine, disclosure for non-commercial drivers is voluntary, though required for those who have disabilities. It is required that an individual have their treating doctor complete a medical certificate which is sent to the Secretary of State's office for review.

Maine's Rules for Drivers with a disablity
Certificate of Examination form (Word) (Pdf.)

Articles on this issue:
Government Accountability Office (GAO) report "Commercial Drivers; Certification Process for Drivers with serious medical conditions"
Connecticut Post "Drivers truckin' despite disability "
Advertiser Tribune "Trucks, busses, too big to fail when it comes to safety"
Disability Law 2.o blog "Drivers truckin' despite disability"

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Accessibile? Sure, we've got a ramp!

Some rights reserved, photo courtesy of Daquella Manera

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Mini Book Expo: Full Disclosure

Full Disclosure: Mini Book Expo

In the interest of full disclosure, I want to let readers know that in the coming weeks you will see my first review of a book I have received free of charge from a site called Mini Book Expo for Bloggers. It is my hope that should this arrangement work out, that you will c0ntinue to see reviews on a fairly regular basis.

Mini Book Expo for Bloggers is a site that distributes books to bloggers for the purpose of having them reviewed. Publishers provide the books to Mini Book Expo for this purpose. I receive no payment for the review, only the free book from Mini Book Expo. Should a reader purchase the book via the link in the posts, I would receive a percentage, however this is independent of my relationship with Mini Book Expo.

All posts about books I have received from Mini Book Expo will have a link to this Full Disclosure post, as well as a link to Mini Book Expo.

I will continue to provide readers with an independent point of view.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Missing Model Pt II

A couple weeks ago I wrote about the BBCs Missing Model, a modeling show where everyone has a disability. Since that time, I've come across a couple pieces which I wanted to include in these pages.

The first is a pice from, the Ouch Podcast #29. For those not familiar with BBC's Ouch, it is a disability website which has news, message boards, columnists and a podcast. Just a quick warning, Ouch is not always, okay rarely, politically correct, and may offend some listeners. Podcast #29 has an interview with the first contestant thrown off the Missing Model show, and one of the judges. Its an interesting piece, especially a discussion of how some contestants are visibly disabled, and a couple are not, and whether this was appropriate for the show. Ultimately, she decides that those that are not visibly disabled, they would still be challenging steriotypes and changing minds behind the scenes with other models, agents and photographers, even if they're not impacting the public perception.

The other is a short video about the show (below):

Friday, August 1, 2008

McDonald's Sued and American grounds boy with Autism

A Nebraska McDonald's is being sued because it refused to allow a hearing impaired woman order her food at the drive through window, as opposed to using the speaker.

"At least three times since September 2007 workers at a Lincoln McDonald's refused to let her place her order at the drive-thru window, Tumeh said. In denying her service, McDonald's violated the federal Americans With Disabilities Act, she said."

The article notes that she is physically capable of going inside to order her food, but that she "has children who are autisitic, and if they are having difficulties, it would make it problematic for her."

When I initially started the article, I felt that it was some getting overly zealous and suing for very weak reasons. The fact that she has autistic children has no bearing on this case, as it is irrelevant whether she's capable of going in the store or not. The question is whether this is covered under the ADA and whether ordering her food at the window is a reasonable accommodation.

"Raging fit" in the air
In another case, a 2 and a half year old and his mother were thrown off an American airlines flight because the boy with autism "melted down." The mother noted that it was due to the frequent touching by the stewardess checking his seatbelt and that she (the stewardess) kept "coming over and reprimanding him and yelling at him." The child eventually had a tantrum and he and his mother were removed from the plane.

In this situation, it's not a reasonable accommodation to allow him to be unbuckled or throw a tantrum which endangers other passengers, but would have been reasonable for the stewardess to keep hands off the child and address her needs to the mother. Frankly, for any child this would have been reasonable and I can see how this occurred.

Link to video news report and article from ABC news