Looking for Lodging? Accessibility Matters

streetscene

Assistive technology is about accessibility. Recently, this idea was taken a step further. AirBnB announced a set of 24 filters enabling travelers with a physical disability to more easily find lodging accessible for their needs (e.g., if they use a wheelchair to get around). This feature saves these travelers the burden of having to call multiple places to inquire whether they are accessible to their needs, according to an informative blog piece that goes into detail about how to use the many features now available on the AirBnB app.

The user can obtain detailed information on the residence, as well as outdoor and common areas and whether an accessible (“handicapped”) parking spot is nearby. The accessibility filters can be set to one’s own specific disability.

With more and more people with physical disabilities enjoying travel, this new feature will be welcome news, especially to those using the AirBnB platform.

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People Who Are Different Are Special… Like You

People Who Are Different Are Special… Like You

children with disabilities

Fred Rogers, Extraordinary Friends, written in 2000.

“You are special.” That’s the comforting message from Mister Rogers. And by “special,” Fred Rogers does not mean empty praise merely to inflate egos. Each of us is unique in his or her special way. With this, it is apt that Mister Rogers would introduce readers to other children who are different from them, in that they have a disability. With his characteristic empathy, understanding, and honesty, he acknowledges that these people who look or act different can make on feel uneasy. Yet, after taking the time to get to know these people, they are also much like them: they have hobbies, favorite foods, and like to be with others. In that way, Mister Rogers neither puts these extraordinary friends on a pedestal (what many in the self-advocacy community refer to as “disability porn”), nor presents them as objects of pity. Before he starts his narrative, Rogers introduces us to six children. Three have disabilities (though he does not reveal what kind), and three do not. With each of the six children, Mister Rogers simply explains what they like to do and their favorite food. Throughout, Mister Rogers gives tips on etiquette, to ensure both parties are comfortable. In acknowledging differences as well as what we share in common, we are simply being real friends.

Although the book’s positive message merits five stars, the writing is better suited to having an adult read the book aloud to the child. The message, however, is very much geared to the child, told in Fred Rogers’s own wonderful way.

It is worth recalling that Fred Rogers’s affinity for children very much extended to those with disabilities. Quite a few of these children were guests on his show. These children never forget the kindness of Mister Rogers! One of the most beautiful moments was a very special reunion when he was inducted into the hall of fame. No more needs to be said about Fred Rogers and the reason so many people continue to adore this special man.

Passing It On: Choking Prevention for People with Developmental Disabilities — Special Needs Resource Blog

Children and adults with developmental disabilities have a higher risk of choking compared to the general population. Risk Factors Include: Some medical conditions that increase a person’s risk of choking are: Cerebral Palsy Seizure disorders Neurological and muscular disorders Down Syndrome Brain Injury Muscular Dystrophy Inability to swallow certain food textures and liquids Medication side […]

via Choking Prevention for People with Developmental Disabilities — Special Needs Resource Blog

In Addition
For New Jersey caregivers, this leaflet is a very good resource:

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Rutgers University Offers an Inclusive Setting for Autistic Students

The Rutgers Center for Adult Autism Services offers autistic adults inclusion in a community setting

New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney was on hand this week to meet with the first adult with autism at the Rutgers Center for Adult Autism Services (RCAAS) day center. That program was launched late 2015.

“The Center for Adult Autism Services is working to accomplish something that I think everyone agrees should be our top priority,” said Senator Sweeney in a statement on his website. “It allows adults with autism to live as fulfilling a life as possible. We want everyone, no matter what challenges they face, to reach their fullest potential. This support can make a real difference in their lives.”

Rutgers Center Autism

When the first phase of the program is in full operation, the center will offer up to 60 adults with autism (living off campus) fulfilling university jobs. The effort will supported by Rutgers clinical staff and graduate students. The following (second) phase calls for a residential program for 20 adults with autism. These individuals will work on campus and live alongside Rutgers graduate students in an apartment-style residence. These inclusive settings will offer individuals with autism the satisfaction and learning that come from employment. As such, the program will present Rutgers students with important educational opportunities as well.

 

The University’s Douglass campus is already host to the Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center. This on-site program for children and teens on the autism spectrum is accessible to graduate and undergraduate students in education and psychology.

Advancing Opportunities applauds efforts in New Jersey to provide people with intellectual and developmental disabilities settings for full participation in society.

April: Fostering an Awareness, Appreciation, and Understanding of Autism

World Autism Awareness Day

Central to the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is “respect for the inherent dignity, individual autonomy including the freedom to make one’s own choices, and independence of persons… and full and effective participation and inclusion in society” (Article 3). This concept is reflected in this year’s theme for World Autism Awareness Day, “Toward Autonomy and Self-Determination.”

autism_ribbon

In the U.S. and throughout the world, the rate of autism is high, affecting children and adults of all socioeconomic and ethnic groups. According to the U.N., “Appropriate support, accommodation, and acceptance of this neurological condition allow those on the spectrum to enjoy equal opportunity, and full and effective participation in society.”

On March 31, 2017, the U.N. held conference on multiple aspects of autism, Toward Autonomy and Self-Determination, which included the following:

In welcoming everyone, Cristina Gallach, U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, said “We come together to renew our commitment to raising awareness of the rights of persons with autism – to equal opportunity and full participation in society, on an equal basis, with other citizens. To achieve this inclusive society that we aspire to, we must… ensure that the fundamental rights enshrined in the CRPD are respected.” This is a right that has been recognized since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was declared in 1948. Continued Ms. Gallach, “When [people with autism] enjoy equal opportunity for self-determination and autonomy, persons with autism will be empowered to make an even stronger positive impact on our shared future.”

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres could not be present, but he prepared a statement: “On this World Autism Awareness Day, let us play a part in changing attitudes toward persons with autism and in recognizing their rights as citizens who, like everyone else, are entitled to claim those rights and make decisions for their lives in accordance with their own will and preferences. Let us also renew our promise engraved in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to leave no one behind, and ensure that all people can contribute as active members to a peaceful and prosperous society.”

The keynote speaker, Simon Baron-Cohen, Director, Autism Research Centre, University of Cambridge, was gave an overview of the autism spectrum.

In regard to the “commitment to leave no one behind,” Jackie Pilgrim, a noted disability advocate spoke about dignity. In her work with NAMI Durham she spoke of her organization’s new 8-hour course for police and first-responders to replace the inadequate 1.5 hour course used previously, one for which they have shown “passion” to learn.

Barry Prizant, author of the landmark book Uniquely Human: A Different Way of Seeing Autism, summarized his philosophy:

Uniquely Human

  • De-pathologize autistic behavior (echolalia, stimming). It’s the way we deal with stress and self-regulate. They should not be repressed or otherwise “managed.”
  • Autism is not a tragedy, it can become one
  • Self-determination begins in early childhood. Children at an early age
  • Let’s look at ourselves.

Added Micheal John Carley. The best way to help is to examine ourselves and change the way we view people with autism.

An autism research and education organization, Autism Speaks, initiated the worldwide Light It Up Blue, campaign in its effort to raise autism awareness.    Among many in the autism community, both advocates and self-advocates, Autism Speaks is highly controversial, because that organization is seeking a cure, whereas many people prefer to see autism as simply another way of being, “different, not broken.”

 

National Autism Awareness Month

A ribbon made of multicolored puzzle pieces.  It has become one the most recognizable symbols of autism in the world.  The various colors reflect the many “faces” of autism, a condition often referred to as the autism spectrum disorder (ASD) because no two people with autism are alike.  (The cognitive abilities of people with ASD range from “nonverbal” to intellectually brilliant.)  The ribbon symbolizes solidarity and hope of a happy, fulfilling life for people with autism.  The puzzle pieces remind us that the condition and the people with it are still very much a mystery.

Autism Awareness Month first came to be some 25 years ago, when the Autism Society of America undertook an effort to promote autism awareness.  The primary objective was to “promote … inclusion and self-determination for all, and assure that each person with autism  is provided the opportunity to achieve the highest quality of life.”

 

Three short films that treat autism awareness and appreciation are worth noting:

  • “Make it Stop.” This is a brand-new awareness video to foster understanding of people with autism.
  •  “Talking in Pictures.”  This documentary dispels myths and stereotypes… at least as they apply to everyone with autism. “It’s not that we’re doing it wrong, it’s not that we’re autistic enough to fit in with the world’s idea of autism, it’s that the world’s idea of autism isn’t big enough to fit us all in!”
  • “Perfectly Normal,” is a film about Jordan, a man with Asperger’s, who discusses his everyday life, of which the New York Times publicized an important excerpt.

Furthermore, Sesame Street will debut Julia, a character with autism. This event will be covered in a later article.

 

And some noteworthy facts on autism:

  • In 2014, the U.S. Centers for Disease for Disease Control estimated the prevalence of autism as being 1 in 68 births.
  • Autism comes from the Greek autos” meaning “self.” Swiss psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler in 1910 used the New Latin term autismus to describe schizophrenic symptoms of children; US psychiatrist Leo Kanner first used the term autism in 1943.
  • Asperger’s syndrome is named after Austrian pediatrician Hans Asperger, who in 1944 first described the symptoms in children he was observing.

With a sincere effort of autism awareness, we will be able to treat this population with the dignity they deserve.

A Brief Look at the Intersection of Women’s History, Black History, and Disability

The International Women's Day logo - Be bold for change

International Women’s Day 2017: #BeBoldForChange https://www.internationalwomensday.com/

 

 

International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month: In the US and most countries around the world, women with disabilities have faced multiple hardships in the form of reduced access and sometimes outright discrimination in education, housing, and employment – both as women and as people with a disability. In addition, women of color often face a third challenge. A blog writer took a look back on 14 remarkable women of color of the past who have made powerful differences for the present and the future.

As February was Black History Month and March is Women’s History Month, we’ll examine the intersection of the two through the lens of disability. Many notable African American women made lasting contributions despite their disabilities. It is important, however, to “see the person, not the disability.” The late Australian comedienne and disability advocate coined the term inspiration porn in protest that people with disabilities should be objects of inspiration to make non-disabled people feel good.

Social worker and disability advocate Vilissa Thompson in her excellent blog “Ramp Your Voice” has compiled a list of important works and other resources of these individuals.

 

Harriet Tubman black woman disabled disability

Harriet Tubman (1822–1913)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harriet Tubman (1822–1913), abolitionist known for her work on the Underground Railroad, suffered epileptic seizures. Because of her short stature, she was seen among slave owners as disabled, a low risk of escape.

 

 

Fannie Lou Hamer (1917–1977), Civil Rights Activist black woman disabled with a disability from polio

Fannie Lou Hamer (1917–1977), Civil Rights Activist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fannie Lou Hamer (1917–1977), was a civil rights activist who suffered physical disabilities from childhood polio.

 

 

Maya Angelou (1928–2014), laureate poet

Maya Angelou (1928–2014), was laureate poet and wrote a series of memoirs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maya Angelou (1928–2014), laureate poet, found a voice in her memoirs and poetry. As a child, she developed selective mutism after a sexual assault.

 

 

Wilma Rudolph (1940–1994) track Olympian with physical disability

Wilma Rudolph (1940–1994), track and field Olympian

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wilma Rudolph (1940–1994) overcame childhood paralysis from the polio virus to become a track and field Olympian, the fastest woman in the world.

Honorable mention goes to Johnnie Lacy (1937-2010), an African American woman who from her wheelchair tirelessly advocated for the disability community. She has been recognized by the United African-Asian Abilities Club and the Temple University Disability Studies newspaper. (No copyright free photo of Ms. Lacy is available.)

Notable African American Women Make History, Despite Their Disabilities

harriet_tubman_1895-1          rosa-parks

fannie_lou_hamer_1964-08-22      Wilma Rudolph

 

February is Black History Month, and March is Women’s History Month. Many notable African American women made lasting contributions despite their disabilities. It is important, however, to “see the person, not the disability.” The late Australian comedienne and disability advocate coined the term inspiration porn in protest that people with disabilities should be objects of inspiration to make non-disabled people feel good. Four examples, from top to bottom and left to right, are Harriet Tubman (1822–1913), abolitionist known for her work on the Underground Railroad, Fannie Lou Hamer (1917–1977), civil rights activist, and Maya Angelou (1928–2014), laureate poet, and Wilma Rudolph (1940–1994), track and field Olympian.