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The Braun Corporation, a maker of wheelchair-accessible vans, ramps and wheelchair lifts, has debuted two new vehicles, the 2010 Honda Odyssey Entervan and the 2011 Toyota Sienna Rampvan XT. The company now offers a lowered-floor conversion for the three most popular minivans in the U.S. market. With BraunAbility accessible vehicles, wheelchair users have the option to ride as passengers or, if able, to drive the van. According to U.S. Census data, there are approximately 4.3 million wheelchair users in the nation, including veterans, seniors, adults and children with disabilities. The introduction of the 2010 Honda Odyssey Entervan adds to Braun’s collection of Honda, Toyota and Chrysler accessible vans. Notable features for both of these vans include an automatic door and side-entry ramp as well as a lowered floor that features three wheelchair securement options. Additionally, the automatic kneeling system “lowers the rear suspension, allowing for a gentle ramp slope and ample sliding ... keep reading »
What is love? Chemically speaking, it’s a hormone called oxytocin, which is at the center of a new findings that suggests the hormone that’s present when breastfeeding mothers bond with their babies can also help autistic people with social interactions. The study, which is set to be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Journal, looked at 13 individuals with high functioning autism, a complex neuro-developmental disorder defined in part by impaired social interaction. Those who inhaled oxytocin were more likely to respond to focus on pictures of human faces and interact with a character in a virtual ball tossing game. While the scope of the study is obviously small, it is part of a burgeoning body of research that suggests the benefits of oxytocin. An Australian study found that 16 males who inhaled oxytocin were more likely to recognize facial expressions. Previous research has ... keep reading »
By Suzanne Robitaille A disabilities lawsuit against Walt Disney Co. has been dismissed, after a judge rejected a proposed settlement from three park-goers who sued Disney for not letting them bring Segway Personal Transporters into the park. Though Disney offers personal four-wheeled scooters to those who need mobility assistance, the plaintiffs claimed that a ban on the two-wheel transporters at Disney’s theme park in Florida violated the Americans with Disabilities Act. Disney agreed in December to acquire at least 15 newly designed Segway-like electric stand-up vehicles, or ESVs, to settle the case. But U.S. District Judge Gregory Presnell in Orlando yesterday voided the preliminary settlement and threw out the case. Presenell said the plaintiffs had failed to show that Segways were “necessary” to access the park. “Although some individuals may, with good reason, not want to use those devices and instead prefer to use a Segway, that preference — standing alone — is ... keep reading »
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has settled a class-action lawsuit against Sears, Roebuck, and Co. under the Americans With Disabilities Act for $6.2 million and significant remedial relief — representing the largest ADA settlement in a single lawsuit in EEOC history. EEOC’s suit alleged that Sears maintained an inflexible workers’ compensation leave exhaustion policy and terminated employees instead of providing them with reasonable accommodations for their disabilities, in violation of the ADA. The case arose from a charge of discrimination filed with the EEOC by a former Sears service technician, John Bava, who was injured on the job, took workers’ compensation leave, and, although remaining disabled by the injuries, repeatedly attempted to return to work. Sears, according to the lawsuit, refused to provide Bava with a reasonable accommodation which would have put him back to work and, instead, fired him when his leave expired. The complaint also revealed that hundreds of other employees ... keep reading »

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