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profoundly yours the abledbody blog

It’s time again for the Cannes Film Festival; only this time there’s a twist. As Hollywood hotshots ascend the 50 steps of the Palais des Festivals and are adorned by global paparazzi and movie fans alike, Canadian screenwriter Sean Marckos, who uses a wheelchair, must enter the movie hall in less-than-dramatic fashion: through a side door. Despite pleading his case for two years, Cannes officials have refused to install a ramp that would allow Marckos, who has muscular dystrophy, to wheel up the red carpet in all his glory. Marckos has not remained complacent. He began legal action, and is producing a documentary called Just Imagine, which follows his plight in Cannes. He has built a website, garnered corporate supporters and is holding a fundraiser on May 5 in Cannes to raise awareness of discrimination. And… cut. This is as far as I can genuinely support Marckos and his cause. His campaign, the ... keep reading »
I’m a product of the MTV generation, and last night’s “Wheels” episode of Glee blew me away. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a music video cute boy in a wheelchair roll cooly through a high-school cafeteria in slow motion while singing a Billy Idol song, and then pop and spin through the hall as he rocked out to ’80s music. Kevin McHale, who plays Artie Abrams, a paraplegic in Fox’s Glee, turned the number into a powerful acknowledgment that having a physical disability can make you feel like an outcast among your own kind. This truth is intensified in high school, where, among the esteemed cheerleaders and football players, you struggle to fit in and find your place.   Artie has a dilemma. He wants to join the rest of the Glee Club for an off-site competition, but the school cannot afford an accessible van. Sure, Artie’s dad can drive him separately, ... keep reading »
James Cameron, who directed the Oscar-winning movie Titanic, arrived at San Diego’s Comic-Con — to the world’s largest comic book convention — to show the first public footing from his new disability-themed movie, according to Rolling Stone. Cameron showed nearly half an hour’s worth of scenes for his sci-fi epic, Avatar, which features a wheelchair-bound soldier who explores a new planet in a tall, blue, reptile-like avatar body. His rival and lover teaches him how to survive on the planet, called Pandora. Sigourney Weaver, who starred in Cameron’s Aliens, has a role as a botanist in the movie. The movie, which opens December 18, is being praised for it’s computer graphics as well as the design that went into creating the alien worlds and life-forms. keep reading »
A new piece of gym equipment for people with physical disabilities is currently in the top running for the U.K.’s James Dyson Award, a prestigious design award. The Access is universal fitness equipment that accommodates those with various disabilities and able-bodied users alike. Comprised of a central tower with two arms extending laterally, each arm rotates 180 degrees independently and can be configured for a user’s unique needs. The Access is the brainchild of a gym-goer — whose name remains anonymous for the duration of the contest — who witnessed a man in a wheelchair enter a local fitness club and attempt to work out using a bag full of homemade accessories attached to the back of his wheelchair. The man in the wheelchair “spent more time transferring in and out of his wheelchair and adjusting to the equipment, than actually performing his exercises.” The James Dyson Award is open to ... keep reading »
The motto of Del Taco’s restaurant is “Go Bold or Go Home.” Kenneth Munson chose the first option. He sued the taco chain in 2005 after he was unable to get his wheelchair into their “narrow” restroom entrance. As a result, he had to go across the street to another business to use the facilities. Earlier this week, the California State Supreme Court sided with Munson. The unanimous ruling now makes it possible for California businesses to be sued for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act without proving the business did so “intentionally.” This is a mucho grande ruling. Federal law doesn’t let individuals sue — nor collect damage relief — for disability discrimination. A government agency must intervene on their behalf. But California lets individuals do both. And with this new no-proof-required ruling, Californians with disabilities now have an even stronger hand to play. Could this decision hurt small businesses ... keep reading »
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 »
GM and Segway have teamed up to create a two-wheel vehicle called the P.U.M.A. – or the Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility vehicle. The Puma is a two-wheel, self-balancing 35-mile-per-hour urban pod with a maximum range of 35 miles on a fully charged set of its lithium-ion batteries. Acccording to Register Hardware, which has only seen pictures so far, each Puma is apparently driven by two small electric motors that are inside the wheels. The car will linked into to a live digital network giving details of nearby parking spaces, charge points or coffee shops, and allowing for vehicle-to-vehicle communications. Presumably, then a tweaked and enhanced urban-centric version of GM’s OnStar system. All controls are managed by a fly-by-wire system, while dashboard information will be displayed on connected devices such as the iPhone. The Puma holds potential for people who have mobility difficulties, or use a wheelchair. Potentially, these individuals could drive ... keep reading »
A Brooklyn man who went on crutches after hurting his foot has questioned how nice New York City subway riders can be when it comes to giving up their seat for the disabled. His answer: Not nice at all. When Matt Muro tried to transport himself to work on crutches from his home in Williamsburg, he frequently had to stand, despite seeing seemingly able-bodied people sitting down in priority seating for the disabled. To channel his frustration, Muro created a website called People Who Sit in the Disability Seats When I’m Standing on My Crutches. The site was linked to by VH1, and received more than 100,000 hits in the first three days. Muro used his Apple iPhone to take pictures of seated subway culprits, who, he says, are either buried in books, have their heads down, or simply don’t care that he, and presumably, other people with disabilities, ... keep reading »
Last week I attended the Society for Accessible Travel & Hospitality’s (SATH) World Congress in Orlando, where I spoke briefly on assistive technology gadgets for travel. I met many interesting people who are helping the disabled pursue their travel passions, including Craig Grimes of Accessible Nicaragua and Accessible Barcelona who puts tours together for people with disabilities (an especially tough feat in developing nations). I also met the infamous Scott Rains of Tour Watch, a social network for travelers with disabilities. He’s a personable guy who puts out the excellent Rolling Rains report. I also talked with Sherri Backstrom of Waypoint Charter, who helps wheelchair users enjoy the experience of yachting via fully accessible ships. SATH held a reception at Universal Studios, where I had the pleasure of being introduced to Cindy Brown, who has a background in ADA compliance and writes for several publications. Her speciality is cultural tourism; ... 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 »

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