In shift, Supreme Court moves away from ‘mental retardation’ (Disability Scoop)
A recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling clarifying what constitutes intellectual disability also marked a major milestone in efforts to put an end to use of the term “mental retardation.” For the first time ever, the nation’s highest court used the term “intellectual disability” in its decision last week in a case known as Hall v. Florida. In explaining the court’s change, Justice Anthony Kennedy pointed to use of the updated language in the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. He also cited Rosa’s Law, a 2010 act requiring the term to be used in lieu of “mental retardation.”
Judge to OK autism settlement (The Philadelphia Inquirer)
A U.S. District Court has approved a settlement that ends the Philadelphia School District’s policy of arbitrarily transferring elementary students with autism from school to school with no notice to their families. The settlement came about as a result of a lawsuit filed by parents frustrated by the policy. The terms of the settlement require the district to notify parents by January that their child could be transferred to a new school that fall and also inform them of their right to meet formally with school officials about the transition. Prior to the settlement, the district had maintained the policy was necessary as some city schools are ill-equipped to educate children with autism at every grade level.
Study: Therapy blend helps 80% of stroke survivors regain arm and hand use (Rehab Management)
A recent study at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC), investigating a blend of brain stimulation and conventional occupational therapy (OT) intended to improve poststroke upper limb movement recovery, indicates that 80 percent of its participants regained arm and hand use. The non-invasive navigated brain stimulation (NBS) works by calming down parts of the healthy side of the brain which have become overactive after blood flow has been blocked to the affected part of the brain following stroke. According to the researchers, typically about 50 percent of poststroke patients regain full upper-arm use through OT alone.
CPAP rapidly improves blood pressure, arterial tone in adults with sleep apnea (Science Daily)
A new study conducted at the University of Wisconsin at Madison suggests that continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy rapidly improves blood pressure and arterial tone in adults with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). The study group comprised 47 adults with a mean age of about 41 years who had been recently diagnosed with OSA. They were evaluated before and after three months of CPAP therapy, as well as one week after treatment withdrawal. Results showed a significant reduction in systolic and diastolic blood pressure in those compliant with the CPAP therapy. Following treatment withdrawal, these improvements reverted to baseline values.
In emergencies, people with disabilities often an afterthought (Disability Scoop)
According to a new report from the National Council on Disability, serious barriers continue to jeopardize the well-being of people with disabilities in the wake of disasters and other emergency situations. Problems with emergency communications systems include everything from evacuation maps and websites that are inaccessible to alerts featuring language that is unclear to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Many 911 systems are still unavailable by text, the report indicates, and both shelters and televised emergency announcements often lack sign-language interpreters for those who are Deaf.
Brigham Young researchers develop Google Glass system for Deaf students (T.H.E. Journal)
Researchers at Brigham Young University have developed a system to project sign-language interpreters onto Google Glass and other similar types of glasses. The Signglasses project was developed to improve the experience for Deaf students visiting the university’s planetarium. Typically, the students can’t see the interpreter and the overhead projections at the same time. During field testing, researchers were surprised to discover that students preferred the interpreter to be projected in the center of one lens, so they could look straight through the signer when focusing on the planetarium show. The research team is also working with scientists at Georgia Tech to develop Signglasses as a literacy tool.
These tween girls created an Android app for the blind (TechCrunch)
A group of six grade school girls in Texas has created an Android app that helps blind students navigate their indoor school environment. The app, Hello Navi, was developed following extensive research with a blind classmate and his mobility coach. As the girls had no coding experience, they also received help from the MIT Media Lab to put the app together. Hello Navi was a winning entry in the Verizon Innovative App Challenge.
Badges for ‘invisible disabilities’ catching on (The Japan Times)
People with hidden physical disabilities in Japan are increasingly wearing badges to increase awareness of the difficulties they face, for example in securing a seat on public transportation. One activist with a serious heart ailment, through the non-profit Heart Plus organization, has created a “heart plus” symbol to signify an internal ailment. The mark is winning public recognition, as one city has placed “heart plus” stickers on priority seats on trains and buses and is providing badges with the mark to those who wish to wear one.