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profoundly yours the abledbody blog

A friend of mine alerted me to a neat addition to the new Yankee Stadium, and no — it’s not the steak sandwiches. The Yankees have installed two LCD screens on the first- and third-base facade that provide captions of all public address announcements made in between innings, including songs. The photos here shows the lyrics to the song, ‘New York, New York.’ Because all seats at the new Yankee stadium face second base, every fan will be able to see the captioning boards. It’s disappointing that the game itself isn’t captioned, but the giant, 103-by-58-foot high-definition video scoreboard in center field does have some captioning capabilities. The scoreboard is actually comprised of three adjoining, large, monitors — one in left-center, one in center, and one in right-center. Due to current captioning technology, live captioning can’t be showed on the center portion of the scoreboard, but will be provided in ... keep reading »
The deaf community relies on video phones for calling family and friends, but some may soon find itself priced out of the video phone option due to metered pricing for internet usage. Time Warner Cable is starting the metered pricing this fall in the Rochester, New York market, according to WHEC.com in Rochester. Video phones need high-speed internet to provide a smooth, real-time conversation. Interpreters at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf at RIT say the deaf community gravitates toward tools that help facilitate a human connection for communication. Along with personal conversations, video phones help the deaf communicate clearly with businesses, like banks, and medical offices. Read more at WHEC.com keep reading »
Stem cells may help deaf people hear again, according to early stage research by British scientists. According to Reuters, a team at the University of Sheffield said on Thursday they had discovered how to turn stem cells into ones that behave like sensory hair cells or auditory neurons, which could then be surgically inserted into the ear to restore lost hearing. The approach, which is being tested on animals, is still a long way from being offered to patients. The cells in the ear that detect sound are created only in the womb, which means there is no way to repair them once they have been damaged, resulting in permanent hearing loss. Using stem cells — master cells that produce all the body’s tissues and organs — to generate these cell types in the laboratory could change that dramatically. Doctors hope one day to use stem cells to treat a wide range ... keep reading »
The City University of New York’s Hunter College, online course developer DigitalChalk and IBM have gotten together to make short work of accessible distance learning. Hunter, IBM Research and online course developer DigitalChalk will partner on a project that will add speech-to-text captioning capability for deaf or hard-of-hearing students. Hunter will be able to create a multi-media online “classroom” with a transcript synchronized with over 90 percent accuracy to an associated training video. The on-demand accessible learning project works by having the Hunter College professor create online course content, including video, and upload any standard-format video file to DigitalChalk, where it’s automatically transcoded into Flash video. At the same time, the audio portion of the video is transmitted to IBM, where it’s transcribed using advanced speech-to-text technology. DigitalChalk includes the transcribed text as captions in a Flash video along with any PowerPoint slides the professor chooses to include. The combined technologies provide ... keep reading »
A group of Washington state residents have filed a lawsuit to force movie theaters to make closed-captioned movies available more frequently to the deaf and hard-of-hearing, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. The Washington State Communication Access Project, who filed the suit, says more accessible entertainment should be available under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Movie theater oweners disagree, saying that they only need to provide access to the theater, and not to the films. keep reading »
I just read that a group of Washington state residents have filed a lawsuit to force movie theaters to make closed-captioned movies available more frequently to the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Another suit, another settlement, I suppose. But it’s good to keep momentum going on this issue. Since movies became “talkies” 50 years ago, film companies and movie chains have been keeping the hearing and sight impaired from enjoying one of America’s biggest forms of entertainment. I wrote about this issue in 2001 for BusinessWeek. Eight years ago, movie theaters, backed by the Motion Picture Association of America, said they were reluctant to spend money to burn open captions onto films, especially if the technology became “obsolete”. Well, the digital age has arrived, so that argument doesn’t cut it anymore. It’s very cost-effective to embed caption data, and to that end, audio descriptive data, into digital film. It’s just ... keep reading »
Last night I watched the latest episode of ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, where Ty Pennington and his crew helped two St. Louis-area families, the Martirizes and the Maleks, who are struggling to live life with major disabilities. Emmanual and Dawn Martirez’s home was refurbished to make it accessible to their twin boys, Evan and Alec, who have rare neurological diseases that cause extreme physical and cognitive disabilities. And Egyptian-born Sam Malek, who has cerebal palsy, owns a small coffee shop that was demoed and rebuilt to make it accessible to him and his employees with disabilities. In doing so, ABC makes a strong statement for supporting small-business and equal-employment opportunities for the disabled. Since its start in 2003, Extreme Makeover has touched the lives of dozens of people with disabilities by renovating their inaccessible or otherwise unlivable homes for free. Each project, which takes seven days, results in significant ... keep reading »
This just in from Webware: “In a move to make videos easier to understand without volume or for the hard of hearing, YouTube has given users the option of embedding closed captions.” This is great news for the deaf and hard of hearing; YouTube has 34% market share according to ComScore, and I’m betting this figure doesn’t include much of the deaf population. And this might not change if video makers don’t choose to add captions to their videos – I’m guessing not many will, unless they understand the added benefit of captions for those with disabilities, or even non-English speakers. There are a small handful of content providers already including closed captioning in their videos, including CNET, MIT, and the BBC. It would be great if broadcast networks (ABC, Fox, etc.) would do the same. Do we really need more regulations to make this happen? Just do the right thing! Now ... keep reading »
A New York Times Saturday profile, A Blind Boxer Inspires Uganda on Bashir Ramathan, a blind boxer from Uganda, sparked my interest, not just for the awe-factor: “Wow, a blind boxer!” but rather because of a statement he made towards the end of the article. Listing the good fortune that has befallen on him since his newfound fame on the boxing circuit, Mr. Ramathan said to the reporter that he would give it all up for two working eyes. “They think I’m doing this for attention or for money. But I’m not pretending. I want to see, like them.” This is how a lot of driven people with disabilities really think, including myself. I’m a disability writer, but I’d give up a a graduate degree and professional writing career — and yes, start over — if I could have hearing in my two ears. I’m not regretful about my disability, but this ... keep reading »
In the New York Times Sunday Magazine’s “Unintended Consequences” (Jan. 20, 2008), authors Stephen J. Dubner and Steven D. Levitt pose the argument that some “special-interest” laws, such as the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), may hurt the very people it intended to benefit. Dubner and Levitt, who are also the authors of the best-selling book “Freakonomics” and a blog of the same name, give a qualitative and quantitative example supporting their case. First up: A Deaf patient from Los Angeles sought medical advice and treatment for her knee from Dr. Andrew Brooks. She asked the doctor to hire and pay for a sign language interpreter, and told him that she was well within her rights to do so under the ADA. Brooks agreed to pay, but surmised that he’d lose money by treating the patient: “As it turned out, an interpreter would cost $120 an hour, with a two-hour minimum, and ... keep reading »

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