Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Freud Finery: Magnetic Therapy

Anyone who has read this blog for any amount of time realizes that I have a love of Freud and Freud accessories. I actually lived a couple blocks from Freud's house in Swiss Cottage, London where he fled before the Nazi occupation of Vienna. It's an amazing experience to see The Couch.

From Nerd Approved Gadgets: Freud Finery: Magnetic Therapy: "


Freud would have a field day with the manner in which some people will want to dress this magnetic copy of himself. I am sure he would understand you putting a suit and hat on him, he may not take so kindly to the leathers and mohawk. Your fridge, your choice. Much more fun than your average set of magnetic poetry on the refrigerator.

Product Page ($15.95)


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Monday, December 14, 2009

Google Adds Automatic Captions to YouTube

Great news via Able Bodied:

Google Adds Automatic Captions to YouTube: "I knew Google Voice would have multiple uses for people who are deaf and hearing impaired, but I didn’t expect this news to come so fast: Google is adding automatic captions to YouTube videos. Google announced the news today on its official Google blog, and while the feature is definitely a work-in-progress, it’s an exciting [...]

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

My Life is Average

I've been reading a funny log called My Life is Average (MILA), and it's full of little stories from people about funny things that happended. Here's a few recent entries which are disability related. Enjoy,

#1406239: "Today, I was signing with my deaf friend. I asked him if he had ever expierenced an awkward silence. He immediatly (sic)stopped signing and just looked at me. This was, in fact, an awkward silence. MLIA.

#1488921: "Today, I was walking into my college's student center when I noticed a blind student with a guide cane a few paces in front of me. A few seconds later a girl rudely pushed her way between the blind student & the friend he was walking with to get into the building. The blind student started walking faster behind the girl & proceeded to hit her feet with his guide cane tripping her up over & over again. He played it off like it was an accident & he was just trying to get around, but the grin on his face told me otherwise. MLIA

#1362944: "The other day in my English class, we were discussing one of the books from The Odessey, The Cyclops. Our teacher was having us demonstrate what it is like to be a cyclops by covering one of our eyes with our hand. Me, having a prosthetic eye, decided to just remove it for a better demonstration. After, I asked, 'Does this work too?'. The teacher looked over, to answer my question. The expression on my teacher's face; priceless. MLIA.

#1372388: "Today we lost power at my school. Everyone was silent in the darkness until my friend laughed maniacally and shouted 'At last the tables have turned!' He is blind. MLIA

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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

AbleGamers Reviews Games From a Disability Standpoint

From Slashdot AbleGamers Reviews Games From a Disability Standpoint: "eldavojohn writes 'Early last month a visually impaired gamer sued Sony under the Americans with Disabilities Act (and if you think that people with disabilities don't play games, think again). The AbleGamers Foundation has decided to step forward and provide a rating system for games that blends together a number of factors to determine a score with regard to accessibility. Visual, hearing, motion, closed captioning, speed settings, difficulty settings and even colorblindness options are all taken into account when compiling these scores and reviewing these games.'

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Dear Wheelchair Maker

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Friday, September 11, 2009

Remembering Mario Nardone

Mario Nardone

I proud to be part of a project called Project 2996 and blessed to have received the name of Mario Nardone to remember as part of the project to remember those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001.

He is a man who appears to have touched many people's lives in so many positive ways, from his wit, generosity and great nature.

Mario worked in the Euro Brokers at 2 World Trade Center. Below are excerpts from articles and memorials to Mario, they are the words and stories from those who knew and loved him. God bless him.

"Mario was an avid traveler and athlete who loved the outdoors. He enjoyed hockey, scuba diving, skydiving and snowboarding. Mario was in great shape and often biked or roller bladed from his Upper East Side apartment to his mother’s house on Staten Island. He will always be remembered for his beautiful smile and priceless sense of humor.
The oldest of three children, Mario was devoted to his family. He treasured the wisdom and company of his father, a longshoreman, and supported his parents when his father became gravely ill, paying for the upkeep of their home and opening a restaurant account for them. In October 2000, one month after the death of his father, Mario took his mother and aunt to Las Vegas, where he biked 100 miles to raise money for a friend’s son who was ill with leukemia. Mario’s mother felt that Mario was too good for this earth and deserved to walk on clouds.
On September 10, 2001, Mario had asked a friend to join him while he shopped for an engagement ring for his girlfriend, Megan McCourt. He planned to propose to her on a surprise trip to New Orleans at the end of September." -EuroBrokers memorial

"In September 2000, Mr. Nardone lost his best friend and confidante, his father, Mario Sr., to cancer. The following month, he took his mother, Linda, and his aunt, Geraldine Bianchi, to Las Vegas, where he biked 100 miles to raise funds in memory of a friend's son who had died of leukemia. When he finished the ride, he took his mother and aunt on a helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon.Later that month, he told his mother something needed to be fixed in the garage. When she opened the door, a baby-blue ribbon was wrapped around a brand new Audi. Mr. Nardone also furnished his mother's house with a nursery to help celebrate the birth of his two nephews, Justin and Tanner. His mother cherishes a postcard her son sent home during a visit to Rome: "The Sistine Chapel is a great work of art -- just like yourself," he wrote. On Sept. 11, the bond broker with Euro Brokers was at his office on the 84th floor of the World Trade Center's Tower 2. He was last seen walking down a staircase shortly before the second airliner hit and remains among the missing. Because the Manhattan resident was so physically fit -- often biking and Rollerblading to his mother's house in Tottenville -- Mrs. Nardone believes, "He could have made those steps in a flash. He had to be helping someone. I just know it." -SILive.com

"Mario Nardone called his mother Tuesday morning to say he had found just the doctor for her. Linda Nardone has serious knee problems, and her son, a 32- year-old bonds broker, had done a little research. "He said he found a doctor who took care of the pope and the doctor doesn't take insurance, but it doesn't matter," his mother said. Mr. Nardone was the guy with the million-dollar smile and the million-dollar heart." -NY Times
it seems there isn't a day that goes by that a tear doesn't enter my eye, a longing to see your face, hold you, speak to you. an indescribable sadness. or yet a funny memory enters my mind and causes me to chuckle and wish you were still here. thankful for the times we did share. the experience. i had no idea how your life would play such a role in mine. i sense you around me. i feel your presence. you will always be forever in my heart.....miss 155" -Legacy.com guestbook

"You were also one of the brightest young men I have ever met-down to earth with a gentle and endearing smile. I miss you Mario. Your indelible smile and wit will forever be engraved in my memory. Love always-your friend Scott" Legacy.com guestbook

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Monday, August 31, 2009

Handcontrols for an Airplane

Wired has a good article on a guy whose rigged an airplane to fly using hand controls entitled "New Hand Controls Allow the Disabled to Fly"

"Flying an airplane, like driving a car, requires using your hands and your feet. While cars can be modified so the disabled can drive, there have been few options for people who can’t use their legs but still wish to fly. Scott Johnson wants to change that.

Most people are familiar with the stick or yoke used to make the airplane pitch up and down or bank left and right. But airplanes also have two pedals that direct the rudder, which is critical in controlling the aircraft in turns or a tricky crosswind. The Minneapolis flight instructor said he’d received phone calls from people who dreamed of becoming pilots but were told they couldn’t because of their disability, so he decided to find a way to open the sky to them."

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Friday, August 28, 2009

Braille Fail

I'm all for awareness of Braille, but on a billboard? Does this go along the lines of Braille Tattoos?

Via Fail Blog.

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Grants for families living with autism

ACT Today Logo
ACT Today is accepting grant applications for families living with autism.
Families must provide documentation of diagnosis and demonstrate need, but looks like an opportunity to get some assistance with funding for items or services not covered by insurance or other services for individuals with autism. Applications must be postmarked by October 26.

Application packet (pdf)

Via Wheelie Catholic

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

2009 NDEAM Poster Available

National Disability Employment Awareness Month poster 2009

The 2009 National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) poster is now available to order online at no cost. The theme for this October's NDEAM is Expectation + Opportunity = Full Participation. The poster can also be downloaded in PDF format in English and Spanish. For more information about employing people with disabilities read the publication Diversifying Your Workforce--A Four-Step Reference Guide to Recruiting, Hiring, & Retaining Employees with Disabilities.

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Labelmaker for the blind

Danni Luo's labelmaker for the blind: "

hand held braille printer concept design

Interesting design concept for an Embossing Braille Printer for the blind and visually impaired. It uses voice recognition to input information in to the device.
"Most of the time, the blind can distinguish items by touch alone, but when they encounter items with similar shapes, they may have difficulties. The blind can also identify some items by smell or taste, but sometimes that can be risky.
Embossing braille printer is a handheld Braille printing device, which can help the blind to distinguish items with similar characteristics by using special embossed labels. With similar items such as pill bottles, CDs, or files, the blind can input concise external information through a voice-recognition recorder.
Interesting device, but I'm not sure of the overall utility of it. There are already Braille labelers out there, though not as easy to use as voice recognition. The other concern I would have is the accuracy of the recognition. At this point, this device is a concept design, however as voice recognition becomes better, and costs for technology come down, it may be a product whose time has yet to come. Either way, I'm glad to see the design community thinking about the needs of individuals with disabilities.

Get more information @ Core77"

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Friday, August 21, 2009

Accessing Pdf with Screen Readers- Guide from Adobe

I love the irony that Adobe puts out a guide called "Accessing PDF documents with assistive technology: A Screen Reader Users Guide (PDF, 368K) "

One would think, if you can't access pdf documents with your screen reader than you're not going to be able to access the guide which tells you how to do it, which is in pdf format.

Adobe Accessibility Resource Center

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Helen Keller Video

"An intriguing historical artifact found floating on YouTube like driftwood. Helen Keller — inspiration to generations and inspiration for an entire genre of schoolyard humor — and her teacher and friend Anne Sullivan in a clip from 1930 in which they describe the way in which Helen learned how to speak."

Via BoingBoing and Colihouse

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Too Shocking Disability Advertisement?

See what you think for yourself before I give my 2 pence.
"It is the advertisement deemed too shocking for you to see. At any age, any one of us could be struck down with motor neurone disease – a fatal condition that robs its victims of their mobility, leaving healthy minds trapped within wasted bodies. But witness its ravaging effect on a real-life sufferer? That, the television censors have decided, is too graphic for viewers to handle."- Telegraph (UK)

Firstly, I'm against censorship, and my objections to this are not to say it should be banned from anywhere.
I'm all for a good shock job and getting people's attention, but this isn't a good use of shock on a couple of levels. Firstly, its disturbing not because of the disability aspects of it, but because it has overtones of abuse, rape and kidnapping. I debated putting it on this site because of this, but feel it raises some important issues (though not the one's intended).
On the disability side, it feeds the idea that disability is a horrific thing to be feared, and is a sentence. It's praying on people's fears to solicit money and equating disability to the imagery in this ad, is wrong and does a disservice to individuals with disabilities. Pity and fear are not emotions to build independence and civil rights for individuals with disabilities on.

What are your thoughts?

Sarah's Story site

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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Two Athletes and Friends with Disabilities

From ESPN (via) Wheelie Catholic:

High School Teammates Carry On

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Monday, August 10, 2009

Chalkbot Message for Katie

Chalkbot came through for us. My message for Katie was printed by Chalkbot, see below or Click here for a larger version.
What you can't see in the image below but can on the larger one is that it provides the date, time and location where the message was printed.

Don't forget 5K for Cancer, I need sponsors, less than two months to go.

Chalkbot message

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Monday, August 3, 2009

Braille Tattoos

I've seen a variety of Braille Tattoos around, both conceptual and have now see a design for a haptic tattoo. The idea is to implant beads of a material under the skin which would be tactile.

"the implant could be placed on the hand - between thumb and forefinger, so that it could be read when shaking (or holding) hands"
concept by Klara Jirkova
Via Universitat der Kunste Berlin

Below are other "Braille" tattoos, which are not haptic.
""LOVE" in braille to symbolize that Love is Blind."
From by shewhophotographs

From Smushed Cow

From Flora Fleempaard

"Get busy living" from Bluekarzo

From the_girl

From Karli Brooke

From reason_and_nature

From juan () fonzo

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Friday, July 31, 2009

US Signs UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

The United States has signed the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities July 30, 2009.
"Countries that join in the Convention engage themselves to develop and carry out policies, laws and administrative measures for securing the rights recognized in the Convention and abolish laws, regulations, customs and practices that constitute discrimination (Article 4)." -enable

One of the things I think is very powerful and I'm pleased to see is the explicit mention of a paradigm shift. In an explanatory Powerpoint, "The Convention marks a 'paradigm shift' in attitudes and approaches to persons with disabilities. Persons with disabilities are not viewed as "objects" of charity, medical treatment and social protection; rather as "subjects" with rights, who are capable of claiming those rights and making decisions for their lives based on their free and informed consent as well as being active members of society. "

Some of the General Principles include

  • "Respect for inherent dignity, individual autonomy including the freedom to make one's own choices, and independence of persons.
  • Full and effective participation and inclusion in society
  • Accessibility
  • Equality between men and women
  • Respect for the evolving capacities of children with disabiliites and respect for the right of children with disabilities to preserve their identities
  • reasonable [sic] accommodation must be made for persons with disabilities
Access must be ensured to
  • Justice
  • Living independently and being included in the community
  • Information and communication services
  • Education
  • Health
  • Habilitation and rehabilitation
  • Work and employment - human resource policies and practices
  • Adequate standard of living and social protection
  • Participation in cultural life, recreation, leisure, and sport"
-Source "Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol" ppt

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Disability.gov Redesigned

disabilty.gov logo
Disability.gov has redesigned and is looking good. It's pretty well laid out, with information on benefits, civil rights, community life, education, emergency preparedness, employment, health, housing, technology and transportation. Information can also be found by searching by state. There is also an easy mechanism to recommend a resource for consideration.

I especially like the tone of the site, it's direct and broad based. It doesn't seem to presume that disability is either using a wheelchair or an individual who is blind. It is exemplified in the slide show on the home page, which as both a wheel chair user, as well as an individual who is blind) but has pictures of individuals with no visible disability.


(Unlike ODEP which apparently felt that the picture for the recent Business Sense letter wasn't diverse enough and appears to have photoshopped in a man of color and a woman in a wheelchair. See the picture for yourself.)

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Monday, July 27, 2009

5K for Cancer-

As the teaser of the pink ribbon graphic from the other day alluded to, I've been building a new site. It's official, I'm running a 5K for the Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope and Healing. I've created a site called 5K for Cancer as a fundraising site. You can go to the site and donate using your credit card or by going to the Dempsey Challenge Site.
I've written about my Cousin Katie Janssen Osbourne before who passed away from breast cancer in December. I'm running the race in her memory and hope to raise at least $500 (though would love to raise more.)
In the next two months you can follow my training and preparation for the race on 5K for Cancer . Please send the link along to your friends and family to help me raise money. You'll also be able to track my fund raising activities by the thermometer to the right that will track my fund raising activities.
Thank you for your support.

Click here to Donate via the Dempsey Challenge website

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Wheel Chair Breaking Invention

Great invention for self breaking wheelchair by inventor Jerry Ford. Basically it allows the chair to be used as a walker when the individual is out of the chair. It automatically locks the wheels when the individual's weight is off the wheels, and unlocks when they sit down. The wheels can also be locked or unlocked whether the individual is in the chair or not, so that care givers can move the empty chair.Watch the video for the full story.
More pictures via David Friedman Photography

Inventor Portrait: Jerry Ford from David Friedman on Vimeo.

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Friday, July 24, 2009

Pink Ribbon

Here's an image I'm using to pull together a new site. I'll let you know when it's ready to go.
Can you tell what it's going to be about?

Image courtesy of AO Design

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Employer Perspectives of People with Disabilities

back of hair in a bun with pencils sticking out of it

The Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) today released "Employer Perspectives of People with Disabilities.
It is available from the their website in either Word or Pdf.

It's a decent brochure with some good resources and information for Employers, even if the title seems a bit misleading.

Photo courtesy of Evil Erin

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Friday, July 17, 2009

Chalk Bot at the Tour Du France

An amazing thing is happening at the Tour Du France called Chalk Bot. It's basically a printer for the street which will be printing messages of hope and inspiration in front of the riders and is sponsored by Nike and Lance Armstrong's team. You can send your messages via Twitter to @chalkbot. What's also cool is that they'll send you a picture and location of where it's printed in France once it's complete. See the videos below for more information on chalbot.

I sent a message for Kate. We'll see if it gets printed, and post it here if it does.

Add the LiveStrong wristband to your Twitter avatar
Promote a cause on twitter using http://twcauses.com/

Live Strong Action
Promote a cause using TWCauses

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Toyota's Brain Controlled Wheelchair

In a step that goes beyond hands free Twittering, Toyota has developed a wheelchair that can be controlled using an individual's mind.

"The BSI-TOYOTA Collaboration Center (BTCC; Hidenori Kimura, Director), has succeeded in developing a system which utilizes one of the fastest technologies in the world, controlling a wheelchair using brain waves in as little as 125 milliseconds" -Press Release

via Slashdot

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Monday, July 13, 2009

There are some amazing designs that would assist individuals with disabilties up for the James Dyson Award this year.

"The James Dyson Award is an international design award that celebrates, encourages and inspires the next generation of design engineers. It’s run by the James Dyson Foundation, James Dyson’s charitable trust, as part of its mission to inspire young people about design engineering."

My favorite, and currently the Global leader is the The Access: Inclusive Exercise Equipment. See the video below.

I also like the inventiveness of the Obaby
"OBaby is the first stroller designed to address their special needs—particularly the needs of those with mobility challenges who may be in need of a walking aid....OBaby functions simultaneously as a walker and stroller. OBaby provides stability for the user without inhibiting maneuverability over curbs by utilizing a rotating gang on the front wheels. In order to support the adult, OBaby redistributes their weight over the central wheelbase."

And lastly, Protec designed for those with drop seizures. It's basically an airbag for your head. I'd love to see this product get developed and go into testing, as it has perhaps the greatest ability to impact an individual's quality of life. Going from wearing a hockey like helmet to over sized headphones could make a significant impact.

Voting ends July 20 BST, so get out and vote for your favorites. Registration is required to vote, but well worth what you can provide these inventors.

James Dyson Award
View all entries

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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Disabled Superheros

Artist Donald Soffritti has pictured what the future of some of our favorite superheros might look like. Though light hearted, it speaks to the point that given enough time, we will all likely be disabled.

(Via Too much free time)

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Saturday, July 4, 2009

Oliver Sack's Desk

Seed Magazine has a great picture of Oliver Sack's desk. Though a bit difficult to navigate, it allows you to zoom in and get a closer look at some of the things on his desk and explanations about the objects and pictures.

I love the discussion of the different elements on his desk, and how he gives and receives them for various birthdays based on their atomic number. (He recently gave a friend some Mercury for his 80th, and stirs his coffee with rhenium from his 75th birthday.)
For those not familiar with Dr. Sacks, he's a fascinating writer. From his site:

"Sacks is perhaps best known for his collections of case histories from the far borderlands of neurological experience, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and An Anthropologist on Mars, in which he describes patients struggling to live with conditions ranging from Tourette's syndrome to autism, parkinsonism, musical hallucination, epilepsy, phantom limb syndrome, schizophrenia, retardation, and Alzheimer's disease...He has investigated the world of Deaf people and sign language in Seeing Voices, and a rare community of colorblind people in The Island of the Colorblind."

Oliver Sacks @ Columbia University
Wired Magazine's interview with Oliver Sacks
Interview with Oliver Sacks @ Universe

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Thursday, July 2, 2009

Skeleton Man

Skeleton Man
Originally uploaded by street anatomy
Incredible tattoo. Okay, so it's not disability related, but amazing picture and anatomically related...

Individuals with Autism 40% Faster on Non-Verbal Intelligence Test

A Canadian study has found that individuals with autism complete an intelligence test 40 faster than neuro-typical individuals, according to the Globe and Mail

"eople with autism were 40 per cent faster at finishing an intelligence test that measures reasoning than volunteers without the disorder, a new Canadian study has found.
Using a brain scanner, the scientists also discovered that their autistic subjects used different parts of their brain to solve problems...The non-verbal test that was used in the experiment measures problem-solving and learning skills. In one problem, subjects were given a diagram of dots and lines with a missing section. They had to pick the correct combination of dots and lines from eight options to fill in the blank space.
Dr. Soulières said people with autism relied on visual processing, and found the right answers more quickly than members of the control group, who were more likely to explicitly test potential solutions until they found the right one."

Interesting article, and not surprising that it was a non-verbal test. Head over to the Globe and Mail for the full article.

via disability scoop
photo courtesy of Paul Jerry

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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Study finds Genetic Links to Autism

"An international team of scientists including several Canadians has discovered genetic links that put children at greater risk of developing autism."

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Monday, June 29, 2009

FreeCrohn's Cookbook

One of my favorite frugal living sites, The Freebie Blogger, posted this one earlier today.
Free Crohn's Cookbook via the Crohn's Online

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

United Airlines to pay $850K in Disability Case

"Chicago-based United Airlines agreed to settle a disability discrimination suit stemming from practices at San Francisco International Airport. The case involved a United policy restricting overtime for workers who had been placed in light-duty assignments.

Samuel Chetcuti, who has epilepsy, worked as a storekeeper for United at the San Francisco airport. His medical restrictions kept him from operating heavy machinery and working high above the ground, but they did not limit the number of hours he could work. Unfortunately for him, United’s light-duty policy did."

Full article at Business Management Daily

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Free Wizdom Kit for Kids with Diabetes

Free Wizdom kit for kids with Diabetes (pictured) from the American Diabetes Association

Via the Freebie Blogger

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tongue Vision

I recently wrote about Erik Weihenmayer who is the adventurer who is blind. Here is a video of him demonstrating and using the Brainport Vision Device which converts visual data from a camera in to tactile data that he receives via a panel on his tongue.

This technology got quite a bit of exposure a few months ago, but I hadn't seen any good demonstrations of this before now. So, enjoy.

Brainport components

brainport vision device
close up of tongue tag

Wired Science

Brainport Technologies

Erik Weihenmayer's Site

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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Link Dump

Guardian Newspaper on Susan Boyle's mental health
Boston.com article on Massachusetts', Ablevision TV "exposing people with disabilities to the mainstream audience and showing that we're all people with abilities. We're all different people and we all have something to bring to the table"
Schizophrenic Brains Not Fooled by Optical Illusion (Wired Magazine)
Double Hand Transplant Reawakens Brain Control (Wired Magazine)
April 2, 1922: Rorschach Dies, Leaving a Blot on His Name (Wired Magazine)
National Museum of Health and Medicine Flickr page
Eye Spy: Filmmaker Plans to Install Camera in His Eye Socket (Wired Magazine)

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

FDA-Zicam linked to Loss of Smell

An FDA press release warns consumers that certain Zicam cold remedies are linked to loss of smell.

"The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today advised consumers to stop using three products marketed over-the-counter as cold remedies because they are associated with the loss of sense of smell (anosmia). Anosmia may be long-lasting or permanent.
The products are:
--Zicam Cold Remedy Nasal Gel
--Zicam Cold Remedy Nasal Swabs
--Zicam Cold Remedy Swabs, Kids Size (a discontinued product)
The FDA has received more than 130 reports of loss of sense of smell associated with the use of these three Zicam products. In these reports, many people who experienced a loss of smell said the condition occurred with the first dose; others reported a loss of the sense of smell after multiple uses of the products.
“Loss of sense of smell is a serious risk for people who use these products for relief from cold symptoms,” said Janet Woodcock, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER). “We are concerned that consumers may unknowingly use a product that could cause serious harm, and therefore we are advising them not to use these products for any reason.”

Full FDA Press Release

(via Slashdot)

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Friday, June 12, 2009

Bumpy books for children

Bumpy Books are books that have a tactile input to teach children letters and how to read using a multi-sensory approach. It is based on the Orton-Gillingham multi-sensory approach. A video on their site (not the one below) gives some other methods of providing tactile input in the teching of letters. It also explains some of the different approaches to teaching letters, language and reading.
Bumpy Books website provides some a link to "Listen to the Sounds". It sounds like its the audio of someone using the book with a student, not audio integrated into the book, though this isn't made clear. I think I'd actually prefer the latter, as many kids enjoy pushing the buttons and hearing the feedback, and it would allow the child to use the book independently (though would likely increase the cost substantially). It appears that there is only one book available at the moment and it's unclear whether more are planned. I like the concept, though it looks like an instruction manual from what I can see in their demo. Also, the price for Bumpy Books is $25.00 which is fairly prohibitive for families. The video below gives a nice demonstration of the books.

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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Cancer Sucks

I think that Katie would have liked this sticker I spotted today. After all, she enjoyed the Platypus I found for her.

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Monday, June 1, 2009

Blind Mountain Climber

I stumbled across the book "Touch the Top of the World" by Erik Weihenmayer at my local library. Eric is an adventurer who is blind, and this book covers his early life, when he had some vision, coping with the loss of his vision and his interest in trekking and mountain climbing.
I especially liked his discussion of adjusting to his vision loss, and about using a cane, and a guide dog. He has a nice ability to describe his experience without jargon or making it more than it is, such as when he was losing his vision and how he first learned to use echolocation.There is also great discussion about how he and his climbing partners have developed strategies to accommodate him on hikes, and climbs. In one amazing part, he is scaling the 3000 ft El Cap in Yosemite and has to run across the face, swinging on his rope to reach a hand hold. He is guided by his partners, and is able to make the catch.

I have never been especially interested in mountain or rock climbing, and he made it an engaging subject, never mind that he's doing this without the use of his sight.
The video below is his ascent of Everest. In it you you see his use of bells on his climbing parter's poles to keep track of the trail. Great book and video.

Larger version at Hulu

Erik Weihenmayer's Site
offers more information on his speaking engagements, books, videos and even a free curriculum on Touch the Top of the World for teachers.

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Friday, May 29, 2009

Handicapped Parking Design idea

A constant frustration of mine is people who park in handicapped parking spaces (and fire lanes). It's all too often that I see someone parked in the space and doesn't have a placard, or they're parked in the hash marks which are designed to give space for a ramp or lift to get a wheel chair in and out of a van or car. No, those spaces are not for motorcycles.

As as solution to this, I've thought that incorporating a curb around this area would prevent cars from parking in these spaces. The yellow line in the picture below represents where a curb should go. This would require that a ramp or curb cut at the other end of the space be provided (down where the signs are placed). The major drawback to this would potentially be that it makes it more attractive to motorcycle owners as a protected space, and could make it difficult to clear of snow in the winter as it couldn't be plowed.

image of car parked in handicapped parking space with yellow line edited into the photo

Ultimately, as our population ages, and more baby boomers are losing their mobility, it seems like there's greater awareness of accessibility and universal design. Perhaps this will filter over to better urban design as well.

Thanks to Listener42 for letting me use and modify the picture

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Link Dump

Because I come across far more information than I'm able to write about or provide commentary on, I'm going to start an occasional link dump. Basically, a list of interesting links with a brief description about it, but not much explanation or commentary. The hope is to continue to give you good posts while also giving you some of the other interesting things I find, and have to frequently pass over.
For a bit, you may see a repetition of the same sources as I clean out my RSS feed reader of all of the links I've saved, but this will improve as I work through them.

Photo modified by me with permission from corrieb

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