Disability News Weekly Roundup – Monday, June 16 – Friday, June 20

Human Interest:
StoryCorps looks to record disability experience (Disability Scoop)
An effort known as the Disability Visibility Project has been launched to encourage people within the disability community to share their stories. The project is a partnership with StoryCorps, a national nonprofit that allows everyday people to record casual, one-on-one conversations in an effort to preserve history. The recordings are frequently featured on National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition.” Members of the disability community can contribute their stories at StoryCorps’ MobileBooth, which travels to communities across the country, as well as its recording booths in San Francisco, Chicago, and Atlanta.

Aldebaran Robotics connects with autistic children (Boston Globe)
Aldebaran Robotics, a French company with a research office in Boston, has donated NAO robots to three pilot schools as part of its Autism Solution for Kids initiative. For the two foot tall robot, characterized as a walking, talking, dancing humanoid, Aldebaran has developed more than 50 apps tailored to children with autism. NAO responds to voice commands and tracks the performance of each child in a classroom. Corresponding computer software allows teachers to monitor progress and control the robot by choosing which apps to run. Instructors with programming skills can also write their own apps for the robot.

House to consider special education assessment bill (The News Journal – Wilmington, Del.)
In Delaware, legislation is before the House that allows parents of students with severe learning disabilities to have them assessed at the end of the year with a portfolio. Education Committee lawmakers unanimously approved the measure, already passed by the Senate, that could exempt a fraction of the special needs students who currently take an alternative version of the Delaware Comprehensive Assessment System called the DCAS Alt1. The school-level Individual Education Plan team for the student and the school district or charter school also have to concur with the parent’s request.

‘Subminimum wage’ for disabled workers called exploitative (The Baltimore Sun)
A nearly 80-year-old exemption to the U.S. Fair Labor Standards Act allows employers across the country to pay so-called “subminimum” wages to thousands of people with disabilities. Through the U.S. Department of Labor, employers can apply for a Special Minimum Wage Certificate, which gives them permission to pay less than the minimum wage to workers who have disabilities. While supporters of the exemption maintain that these workers are getting valuable on-the-job training and the self-respect that comes with employment, opponents say they are being exploited. This issue gained a national spotlight in February, when President Obama signed an executive order requiring federal contractors to pay all workers, including those with disabilities, $10.10 per hour.

Do ‘walkable’ neighborhoods reduce obesity, diabetes? Yes, research suggests (Science Daily)
People who live in neighborhoods conducive to walking experienced a substantially lower rate of obesity and diabetes than those who lived in more auto-dependent neighborhoods, according to two recent studies. Researchers in Canada compared adults living in the most and least “walkable” metropolitan areas in southern Ontario and found lower risk of developing diabetes over a 10-year period for those who lived in neighborhoods with less sprawl, more interconnectivity among streets, and more local stores and services within walking distance, among other measures used to determine neighborhood “walkability.” Researchers also noted that people living in the most walkable neighborhoods were three times more likely to walk or bicycle and half as likely to drive as a means of transportation.

Oxford smart glasses turbocharge eyes of people with limited vision (Medgadget)
Researchers at Oxford University in the UK have developed an electronic eyeglass system for people with limited vision. The system consists of a pair of glasses that are equipped with a camera and a display unit that can overlay images onto the glasses for the user to see. A small computer hooked up to the glasses runs algorithms that identify objects in front of the camera and creates a high-contrast outline that the user sees in the display. The article includes a video including comments by participants from a trial conducted with the technology.

‘Bleeding’ pants can show paralympians that they’re injured (Engadget)
One of the biggest worries of paralympians is sustaining injuries in areas where they cannot feel them. To address this issue, students from London’s Imperial College and The Royal College of Art have created Bruise pants, which show paralympians the location and severity of an injury. The designers sewed pressure-sensitive Fuji films onto a pair of Lycra leggings, marking vital points where injuries would be most damaging. If an area sustains impact damage, the film develops a red stain similar to blood seeping through cloth. The depth of the color indicates the degree of severity of the wound. The article includes a video showing the development of the Bruise pants.

‘Pure love’: Photo of dad helping son see Delicate Arch touches hearts (TODAY Show)
On Father’s Day, the U.S. Department of Interior posted a photo on its Instagram page of a father hiking in Arches National Park with his 18-year-old son, who is a quadriplegic. The father pulled his son in a special carrier modeled after a Native American drag sled and modified with a webbed sling seat. This was one of several hikes the family has taken with the help of the special stroller, using it about 8 to 10 times a year. The photo was originally submitted to the agency’s annual “Share the Experience” contest, where it was one of the most viewed images on the site.

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