Disability News Weekly Roundup — Monday, Feb 17 – Friday, Feb 21

Education:
Start-up opens digital door for students with autism (The Philadelphia Inquirer)
With financial support from the University of Pennsylvania, among other sources, Autism Expressed teaches digital skills to students with autism in Philadelphia. Founded by a teacher who saw a need for these skills in her students, Autism Expressed offers instruction in the use of e-mails, Web browsing, video editing, and coding.

Health:
Bionic pancreas could help fight diabetes (USA Today)
Two scientists at Boston University and Harvard Medical School have developed a bionic pancreas that would eliminate the need for patients with diabetes to constantly monitor their blood sugar levels. A current prototype is the size of a playing card and an inch thick. It includes a continuous glucose monitor that signals an iPhone app to calculate the amount of insulin and glucagon needed and instruct pumps in the device to deliver the hormones into the bloodstream.

Cochlear Implants with No Exterior Hardware Being Developed by MIT and MEEI (Hearing Review News)
Researchers at MIT and Harvard have developed a low-power signal processing chip that could lead to a cochlear implant that requires no external hardware. The scientists have designed a prototype charger that plugs into an ordinary cell phone and can recharge the chip in roughly two minutes. While existing cochlear implants use an external microphone to gather sound, the new implant would instead use the natural microphone of the middle ear, which is almost intact in cochlear-implant users.

For Mice, and Maybe Men, Pain Is Gone in a Flash (MIT Technology Review)
Researchers at Stanford University have demonstrated how patients with chronic pain might one day find relief, simply by pressing a bright flashlight to their skin. This is the latest application of optogenics, a versatile but complex technology for controlling nerve cells. The technology relies on modifying the DNA of neurons so that they send signals in response to light.

Top-Five List to Improve Emergency Medicine (DailyRx)
A group of emergency physicians has developed a list of five emergency procedures that, based on new research, they recommend some patients forego, including those with back pain and mild head trauma. The overused procedures include some computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans.

Human Interest:
The lives of blind brothers changed when ‘Dad’ came knocking (NPR)
The reclusive lives of 10-year-old blind triplets in Arlington, Va. changed when a blind man from their neighborhood befriended them. He helped them with their homework, took them places in the community, and taught them better cane skills. The boys, now 14, and the man they call Dad were interviewed for StoryCorps.

Sports:
For fans with special needs, new stadiums will be game changers (Minnesota Public Radio News)
Under construction in Minneapolis-St. Paul, the new Vikings stadium and Saints ballpark are designed to accommodate fans with disabilities. The new Vikings home will feature 658 wheelchair and companion seats, closed captioning on television monitors, and assisted listening devices at ticket windows. The Saints park will have integrated accessible seating and Braille signs throughout the building, among other features.

Wounded warriors’ hockey league of their own (The Washington Post)
The USA Warriors ice hockey team from the Walter Reed National Military Center includes veterans with special gear to accommodate disabilities, such as adapted hockey sticks and sleds. The two goalies have only two good eyes between them, according to a team mate. Players rely on teamwork skills learned in combat during their deployments.
Technology:
An Electric Car Designed Especially for People in Wheelchairs (The Atlantic Monthly)
Kenguru, a new electric car manufactured in the U.S., can provide independence for people with mobility disabilities. The vehicle is smaller than a Smart Car and has no seats; drivers enter in their wheelchair via a pop-up back door. Designed for use on local roads, the vehicle goes up to 25 miles per hour, with a range of about 60 miles.

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