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profoundly yours the abledbody blog

I spoke with NPR today on a show called Where We Live. The topic was perceptions of people with disabilities in the media. Apparently I did a good job but I could hardly hear John Dankosky, the radio host; they have a great producer team (Brianna and Catie) who got me some questions in advance, which probably saved the segment. Next time I’ll drive up to the studio in Hartford. Anyway, after I spoke I was thinking about how film and television shows represent disability—both good and bad. A colleague wrote after hearing the piece and said a “good” example is Michael J. Fox’s role on The Good Wife. I agree. Another is RJ Mitte in Breaking Bad. Mitte has cerebral palsy and he even admits to making it seem worse than it is on TV, for effect. It’s not like people with disabilities can just make their symptoms appear on the ... keep reading »
If you’re running a business – small, medium-sized or large – you should check out Think Beyond the Label’s Hire Gauge. I would argue it’s a must. Hire Gauge is the first-ever online tool to calculate the return on the investment (ROI) your organization can generate from hiring qualified workers with disabilities. For a typical large business, this can mean nearly $32,000 in tax credits, deductions and hiring cost savings – not to mention the additional benefits of diversity in the workplace, from employee morale and loyalty to the opportunity to tap new markets. All you need is two minutes (literally) to answer a short series of questions. Right before your eyes, Hire Gauge does the math on the results you can expect from your inclusive hiring initiatives. Right down to the dollar. More and more business are using Hire Gauge Think Beyond the Label says they built this interactive ... keep reading »
Social media such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are transforming how businesses develop new products and improve services — and the need for tech-savvy people to run social media for companies is growing by leaps and bounds. At the same time, young people with disabilities like autism and other developmental or intellectual disorders are finding themselves underemployed. One possible solution: Put them to work in the social media field. TecAccess, a provider of accessibility consulting services, has teamed up with the Virginia Department of Rehabilitative Services and non-profit American Epiphany for a pilot internship program to teach special needs young people to become social media specialists and land jobs in the corporate world, with the goal of helping them develop long-term successful careers. “Corporate America is finally realizing what the kids have known for several years now….and want to jump on the social media bandwagon, says Debra Ruh, founder and ... keep reading »
The other day, I did a photo shoot for a Target in-store ad — a display that will be on the end cap (the end of an aisle display) in Target pharmacies, come April or so. I got the call late on Friday night and it sounded to good to be true. Come to a private house in Beverly Hills, sit for hair and make up, shoot a few pictures and head home after a great lunch and an even better couple of hours listening in on (and participating in) great conversation with super nice people. It was worth it, I thought, to show up and be token wheelchair girl. I did some modeling in my late teens and early twenties, mostly catalog, institutional and corporate stuff. I’d show up and be the pretty wheelchair girl, usually seated in a clunky “old person” wheelchair or slung demurely ... keep reading »
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission today announced that private sector workplace discrimination charge filings hit unprecedented levels during fiscal year 2010. The EEOC, the federal agency enforcing employment discrimination laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act, saw 99,922 filings, a 7% increase from last year and a 25% increase from 2000. According to the EEOC, all major categories of charge filings in the private sector, which include charges filed against state and local governments, increased, including disability, age, race, religion and retaliation. The EEOC filed 250 lawsuits, resolved 285 lawsuits, and resolved 104,999 private sector charges, resulting in more than $404 million in monetary benefits from employers. Disability filings have risen sharply in the last decade, likely due to increased awareness of the ADA which was signed into law 20 years ago. There were 25,165 charges alleging discrimination under the ADA, up 4% from 2009 and up 59% from ... keep reading »
Dear Louis Braille, I’m writing to send you a birthday greeting. Tomorrow is your two-hundred-and-second birthday, which means that braille, the code you invented that allows people who are blind to read and write and communicate, must be about 187 years old, since you were only 15 when you invented the code! Dear Louis, that just blows me away! When I was 15, I was busy pretending that I could see just fine. My nose was quite literally buried deep inside every book I read; I was spending three or four more hours getting my tenth-grade homework done than my fully-sighted classmates, and I was in a “math basics” class (for dummies) because the guidance counselor at the high school I was attending said none of the math teachers could figure out how to teach geometry to “someone like me!” I would have been so much better off, dear Louis, had I ... keep reading »
If you came across the Sunday New York Times‘ Travel section this week, you may have read the can-do article, Deaf Divers Sign in the Soundless Depths. Worldwide Dive and Sail is one of a handful of companies that organizes regular scuba diving tips for deaf and hard of hearing divers. This story is a great example of people with disabilities who accomplish feats like exotic water sports, and I thought it was great that Siren offered sign language interpreters as well as expeditions in which deaf and hearing divers could mingle. After all, when you’re swimming with the fishes in the cold, deep sea, no talking is allowed — and deaf people who sign actually have an advantage over hearing divers. I would be remiss, however, if I didn’t call out something that my surgeon told me upon receiving my own cochlear implant in 2002: Don’t participate in “pressure” sports like ... keep reading »
Department of Justice Hearing, Washington, D.C. (12/2010) (with captions). Suzanne appears at 178 minutes speaking to the Department about the issue of online video accessibility. The Department of Justice hearing went really well; thanks to everyone for their support. Michael and I arrived in the afternoon to a rare Washington snowstorm, grabbed a quick bite at Corner Bakery and then headed over to the U.S. Access Board, where the meeting was being held. Access Board helps create guidelines for the accessible design of buildings, equipment, technology and more. I ran into David Capozzi, executive director of the Access Board and was able to give him a copy of my paper. The hearing room was smaller than I expected it to be; there were four panelists including John Wodatch, chief of the Disabilities Rights Section at the Department’s Civil Rights Division. I spoke for five minutes, and hadn’t prepared any comments in ... keep reading »
  Today abledbody released a new white paper which takes a look at the current state of video accessibility in the context of the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act, which was signed into law this past October by President Obama. It assesses the scope of the new law and its limitations, and what needs to be done in the future to make the rest of the online video programming landscape accessible to people with disabilities. The white paper, written by Suzanne Robitaille and Michael Janger, can be accessed here, or click on the image on the left. Suzanne will speak this afternoon at a public hearing in Washington, D.C., hosted by the Department of Justice. The public hearing will cover possible revisions to Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations, including Web accessibility, movie captioning and video description — the same topics covered by our white paper. Department of Justice Hearing, ... keep reading »
Here’s a simple, quick video that really does the trick in explaining what assistive technology is, who uses it, and how to get your hands on some. It’s put together nicely by The PACER Simon Technology Center and includes closed captions as well as a neat interactive transcript. keep reading »