Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Web 2.0 - 2012 update

Here is a great website with the updated list of Web 2.0 tools for educators: Discovery Education. It has a tremendous amount of information to access. As we continue to look at Web 2.0, Web 3.0 is emerging with much more interactive and intuitive technology. Many of you are already engaging in 3-D interactions. Take a quick peek! In addition 3-D printers continue to become much more universal and cost effective. Some are available in kits. What a great student project! 3D Printing

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Statue of Liberty reopens after upgrade - Now much more accessible!!

The Statue of Liberty has been under renovation for awhile. The renovations are now complete! People who use a wheelchair or have difficulty with mobility can now access the observation level. After 126 years, the Statue of Liberty is now accessible! In light of some of the unfortunate comments made recently about people with disabilities, it is nice to redirect our attention to an important improvement. There is no doubt that this was long overdue, but it has happen and together we should all go and revisit the statue. Just stopping to notice, that we can all enjoy our history a little more today. Take a look at the CNN video of the renovations.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Update to how language matters!

It may be time as one of my students so eloquently stated to ignore and redirect those who do not understand the offensive nature of "Retard". Ann Coulter does not agree with the criticism by some. Please take a look at this article and listen to the radio clip. She does comment on John Franklin Stephens, the Special Olympian who wrote an open letter in regards to the use of the word "retarded".

Ann Coulter To Disabled People Offended By ‘Retard’ Tweet: ‘Screw Them!’

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Language We Use Matters

Ann Coulter has been criticized for using the word "retarded" on two recent occasions. The language we use does reflect our personal values and the values of a society. The Rosa Law which was signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2010 removes the term Mental Retardation from the health and education code and replaces it with intellectual impairment. The DSM V (Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of the American Psychological Association) which is due out in 2013 is changing the diagnostic category of Mental Retardation to Intellectual Developmental Disorder. The inclusion and respect of all members of society is a value which must be explicitly stated, acted upon and embraced. This means speaking out when a group has been minimized based on arbitrary traits which give permission to treat them differently, view them with less value and dismiss their contributions and needs.

As to whether or not we need to care about the votes of people with disabilities, the answer is an unequivocal yes. Labels do not allow others to silence our voices. As citizens of the United States we stand together. That is where our strength comes from. We do not have to agree on every issue but each voice has value. We must remain united on this issue and no one has the right to put a wedge between us.

Friday, October 19, 2012

How's Your News at the 2012 Conventions!

How's Your News, a group of reporters with disABILITIES covered both the Republican and the Democratic National Conventions this year as they did in 2008. You can download a digital copy of these events and interviews for $5 which goes towards their news organization and activities. Take a look at the trailer: How's Your News 2012.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Making Voting Accessible

The election is only a few weeks away. It is essential that everyone participates in the process. In order for this to happen, our voting sites and booths must be made accessible. The video above gives some simple suggestions on how to make the process much more accessible. Just physically getting to and into the polling site can be problematic. Massachusetts addresses some of this in the Voter's Bill of Rights. Please make an effort to assist in this process including offering rides to those who may find it challenging to get out and vote. The American Civil Liberties Union provides a lot of information around the voting laws and rights in each state.

When you go and vote, please pay attention to the accessibility features of the polling site. Make some notes and provide feedback to the Secretary of State. We have to stop and notice first and then we have a duty to act. As we review many important topics covered by our candidates, the most important is the ability of each of us to have a say in what happens. We do not have to agree, but we must share in the responsibility to make sure every voice is heard.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Accessible Technology Coalition

The Accessible Technology Coalition or ATC provides extensive resources on accessible technology across disabilities and categories of technology. There are many free trainings, recorded webinars and other resources. They have regular updates on a number of topics which support access to learning, work and greater independence.

Participatory Design of AAC Systems

Many times we design augmentative and alternative communication systems without considering the full participation of the person with the disability. Student and adults must play an active role in designing the system as well as the actual symbols. This resource gives a great example of a student who designed her own yes and no symbol. It makes the point quite well how important participation is. The resource has a lot of good suggestions. Take a look: Participatory AAC. This is another resource to look at especially if you are interested in AAC research:

" The AAC-RERC is a Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center that functions as a collaborative research group dedicated to the development of effective AAC technology."

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Gamers of All Abilities

Arcades & video games of all types have been around for decades at this point. Over the past 10 years we have seen tremendous improvements in accessibility features. The first permanent accessible arcade will be opening in Washington DC on October 10th (Global Accessibility News). Accessible arcades should be available in all communities. Ablegamers has been in the business of making accessible video games as a non-profit since 2009. Take a look at some of the unique accessibility features they have developed. The most important piece they emphasize is how gaming evens the playing field for everyone.Make sure you download the accessible gaming guide.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Holloween Costumes for Kids & Adults who use Wheelchairs

The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation has some great ideas and information on how to create cool Halloween Costumes for kids and adults who use wheelchairs. Take a look at the site and share. To learn more about the video showing the ice cream truck costume click here: Ice Cream!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

InklessTales - Great Site!

Inkeless tales is a wonderful website with animated stories, poems, the alphabet and other activities. This is a great resource to share. Some things are free and others are extremely low cost!

Monday, October 1, 2012

National Disability Employment Awareness Month

October 2012 is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. This site also has many free resources for teachers to use to discuss the history of this topic as well as the current challenges. Please make use of these materials and share them with others. The United States Department of Labor also has a number of policy statements and ways you can help.