People with Disabilities

As someone who uses Assistive Technology (AT) to make it through her day, I’m telling you, you non-AT users can get pretty… weird. Something about interacting with an assistive technology (AT) user like me causes some normally very composed and astute people to lose a bit of their cool. I get it. I’m sure when I roll up in my wheelchair not in full control of my own body and chatting with my mom using my word board, I can catch the average bear off guard.

Pennsylvania’s wounded service members and veterans will enjoy kayaking, biking, fishing and other outdoor activities thanks to a special event hosted by the Pennsylvania Parks & Forest Foundation and Gifford Pinchot State Park.  Service Members and their families can try accessible forms of recreation, improve their skills and enjoy the outdoors for free at Pinchot Outdoors Day – The Outdoors is for everyone on September 7, at Gifford Pinchot State Park in the Conewago Day Use area from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm.

Professor Rhonda McEwen of the Institute of Communication, Culture and Information Technology at the University of Toronto Mississauga has found that mobile touch technology has the potential to considerably enhance how students with autism learn, communicate, engage with others and succeed at school. After studying thirty-six children with autism at a Toronto public school, Professor McEwen found that the use of off-the-shelf hand-held touch devices for learning led to statistically significant improvements in children’s communication skill, social skill, attention span and motivation. Read more about how mobile tech may enhance how students with autism learn.

The Therapeutic Research Foundation (TRF) and the National Science Foundation-sponsored Quality of Life Technology Center (QOLT) have collaborated to establish a comprehensive visual assist system for people who are blind and low vision.

In contrast to the rapidly changing smartphone, iPad and laptop computer market, current technology for people who are blind is still clumsy and archaic. The TRF proprietary project, however, will create a system for enhancing the ability of people who are low-vision and blind to navigate and interact with their surroundings. The system will work by constructing a virtual 3-D environment for an Immersive Navigational Informatics System that builds and communicates a description of the virtual environment for users and allows for further electronic interaction to occur via voice and speech-recognition software. Read more about the visual assist system for people with vision disabilities.

Twenty-three years after the Americans with Disabilities Act passed, Governor of Delaware, Jack Markell, recently released A Better Bottom Line: Employing Individuals with Disabilities. In a recent blog post, Governor Markell explains that, “only 20 percent of the 54 million Americans living with a disability are employed or seeking employment, compared to almost 70 percent of people without disabilities.” That is why he released A Better Bottom Line: Employing Individuals with Disabilities as a blueprint for governors, which is not about feel-good social policy but about employing individuals with disabilities because it is good business.

Texthelp Inc., an award-winning literacy software solutions provider, has released Read&Write for Google. Read&Write for Google, which works within Google Drive in Chrome on PCs, Macs and Chromebooks, allows students with learning disabilities to access and interact with the same documents as their peers and teachers. To accomplish this, the software offers support tools for Google document, PDFs and ePubs which include:

  • Read aloud with dual color highlighting
  • Talking Dictionary, Picture Dictionary, Translator, and Fact Finder
  • Study Skills Highlighters and Collect Highlights
  • Vocabulary List Builder
  • Annotations (PDFs and ePubs)
  • Navigational tools (ePubs)

Read more about Read&Write for Google here or visit the Texthelp Inc website

Ghotit’s advance spelling and grammar checker and their intelligent word prediction, has been optimized for people with dyslexia and dysgraphia. For the past six years, Ghotit has been developing assistive technologies for writing and reading. They have listened to the input from their dyslexic user base and the professional community and added new advanced features for people with dyslexia in their latest release.

The features include:

  • Intelligent phonetic and context-sensitive spell checker.
  • Advanced grammar checker.
  • A powerful word prediction which is grammar and phonetic sensitive.
  • A built-in proofreader.
  • A reader that can read out any document or web page.
  • Integrated dictionary

For more information visit the Ghotit website

“In a survey of employers last year, 78 percent said they believed people with disabilities were discriminated against in employment,” explains David Matthews, CCS Disability Action Chief Executive.

According to the CCS Disability Action in New Zealand, there is clear evidence of discrimination against people with disabilities when it comes to access to employment. Both the United Kingdom and the United States collect quarterly data on the unemployment rate amongst people with disabilities but New Zealand does not. However, the evidence is still clear.

“People with disabilities are overrepresented on benefits and in unemployment. In 2011, 35 percent of people on a main benefit claimed a disability allowance. Only 45 percent of people with disabilities were in the labor force compared to 77 percent of people without disabilities,” said Matthews. He went on to say that they would not know if they were actually addressing the issue without accurate data. Read more about how New Zealanders with Disabilities Face Employment Discrimination.

Krystal Tomlinson, who was recently crowned Miss Jamaica Festival Queen 2013, wants to change the attitudes of students toward persons with disabilities. She would like to start inside schools where she sees students with disabilities experiencing discrimination and exclusion from social activities.

“I hope to create a space that builds tolerance among young people in schools,” said the 2013 Festival Queen, “especially primary schools, to better treat their counterparts with disabilities.”

She explained further that the project will include a conference, training workshop and competition. Read more about how the newly crowned Miss Jamaica is advocating for people with disabilities.

“Be more like us,” says Secretary of State John Kerry describing the message delivered by The Disabilities Treaty. The Treaty is intended to open the world to Americans with disabilities. Ratification will help provided Americans with the same protection globally that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provides them on US soil. Moreover, it will enable Americans with disabilities to participate fully in the global economy. Read more about the The Disabilities Treaty.

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