Disability News Weekly Roundup — Monday, Feb 24 – Friday, Feb 28

Human Interest:
H Street NE Bars and Restaurants Reach Out to Their Deaf Neighbors (Washington City Paper)
Several bars and restaurants along H Street NE in Washington’s Capitol Hill District have hired staff that knows sign language in an effort to better cater to the deaf and hard-of-hearing community, many of whom are students or staff at nearby Gallaudet University.

Su Meck: “I Forgot To Remember” (NPR, The Diane Rehm Show)
Ms. Rehm interviews a woman who lost all memories following an accident during which a ceiling fan fell on her head. As a result of her traumatic brain injury, she had to be reacquainted with her husband and young sons and relearn basic skills such as dressing, eating, reading, and writing. As doctors at the time (1988) could detect no permanent brain damage, she was sent home after three weeks in hospital with little follow-up care.

Policy:
Seth Rogen Opens Up About His Mother-In-Law’s Struggle With Alzheimer’s (ABC News)
Actor and comedian Seth Rogen gave a funny but moving testimony at a U.S. Senate hearing on Alzheimer’s disease, describing how the disease has affected his mother-in-law. Rogen admitted the disease forced him to act. Along with his wife, he has created “Hilarity for Charity,” where they have begun to inform teens about Alzheimer’s. He hopes this education campaign will change the stigma associated with the debilitating disease.

Crime Odds Nearly Triple For Those With Disabilities (Disability Scoop)
The National Crime Victimization Survey, conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, has found that individuals with disabilities encounter violent crime at nearly three times the rate of those in the general population. Those with cognitive disabilities had the highest rate of victimization and about half of victims with disabilities had multiple conditions.

New autism definition may decrease diagnosis by one third (Science Daily)
New diagnosis guidelines for autism spectrum disorder may reduce by almost one third the total number of people being diagnosed, according to new research. The guidelines may leave thousands of developmentally delayed children each year without the ASD diagnosis they need to qualify for social services, medical benefits, and educational support.

Congress Eyeing Tax-Free Disability Savings Accounts (Disability Scoop)
Federal lawmakers are poised to consider a major change to the money-saving abilities of those with disabilities. The Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act would establish special accounts to allow people with disabilities to save up to $100,000 without risking their eligibility for benefits like Social Security. In addition, individuals could retain Medicaid no matter how much is deposited. Lawmakers are waiting for an estimate from the Congressional Budget Office of what the bill would cost the government if it is implemented.

Technology:
Augmented reality treatment alleviates phantom limb pain (gizmag)
Researchers at Sweden’s Chalmers University of Technology have developed a method to alleviate the discomfort of a patient who had suffered for 48 years from the phantom pain felt in his amputated arm. Myoelectric pattern recognition was used to predict phantom movements in the patient’s stump. By using the patterns as inputs in an augmented setting where a virtual arm was superimposed on the patient’s real-life body, as well as controlling a virtual-reality car racing game, the research team was able to gradually reduce the pain reported by the patient to zero.

Paralyzed woman walks again with 3D-printed robotic exoskeleton (gizmag)
3D Systems, in collaboration with Ekso Bionics, has created a 3D-printed robotic exoskeleton that has restored the ability to walk in a woman paralyzed from the waist down. The Ekso-Suit was created by first scanning the patient’s thighs, shins and spine to create a model from which the basic personalized exoskeleton could be 3D-printed. Ekso Bionics then provided mechanical actuators and controls that were integrated with the printed components. A video demonstrating the orthosis is included.

App Listens for Danger When You’re Not Paying Attention (MIT Technology Review)
An app called Audio Aware lets the hard-of-hearing and the distracted know when danger approaches. To be released in March, the app will run in the background on an Android smartphone, detecting sounds such as screeching tires and wailing sirens and alerting the user. In addition to sounds already programmed into the app, users can add their own.

For Those Unable To Talk, A Machine That Speaks Their Voice (NPR)
A man diagnosed with amyothropic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease), a progressive neurodegenerative disease, is interviewed about his efforts to record his own voice for use when he can no longer speak on his own. With the aid of a speech pathologist, he has recorded hundreds of messages and uploaded them to a speech device which would normally sound like a robot. Now, instead, it will sound more like its user. “It’s almost like preserving a piece of yourself,” he says; “I’ve taken auditory pictures of who I am.”

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