Disability News Weekly Roundup – Monday, July 14 – Friday, July 18

Human Interest:
Nordstrom ads feature models with disabilities (Fox News)
Fashion retailer Nordstrom has been using models with disabilities since 1997 and continues the tradition in its annual July catalog. It includes, among others, a woman in a wheelchair modeling boots and a man with a prosthetic leg modeling Nike running shoes. The clothing that Nordstrom models wear is not adapted in any way. Retailers H&M and Diesel have also recently featured models with disabilities, while Swiffer recently featured an actor with an amputation and a Duracell ad used a Deaf football player.

Self-advocates train to have safe encounters with police (Disability Scoop)
As part of the Autism Society of Los Angeles, the mother of a young man with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is trying to make sure young people like her son who are pushing for independence don’t wind up as law enforcement statistics. Her “Be Safe” campaign is informed by work she has done teaching Los Angeles Police Department officers how to recognize and interact with people with ASD. It includes a DVD starring young people on the autism spectrum role-playing police encounters, as well as a guidebook for parents, teachers, and counselors.

In debate over institutions, residents rarely heard (Disability Scoop)
A long-term resident of the Woodbridge Developmental Center in New Jersey is one of about one thousand people with developmental disabilities whom the state is moving from its institutions in an effort to phase out a treatment model that has become a prime target for change. State officials say this population could have a better life in smaller, privately run homes, which happen to cost less to manage. This resident, however, does not see it that way, not wanting to move from a place that she has called home for 18 years. In spite of its austere decoration and institutional lighting, she says, Woodbridge is the nicest place she has ever lived.

Neglect, abuse rates higher for children with developmental disabilities (Science World Report)
Children with developmental disabilities may be more prone to abuse and neglect by parents and caretakers than those who develop at a typical rate. A recent study conducted at Saint Louis University found that there is oftentimes a lack of empathy placed around inappropriate expectations on the part of caregivers. These expectations may result in asking the children to achieve at a much higher standard than they are capable of attaining. The researchers conclude that while pushing children out of their comfort zone is encouraged, a recognizable limit should also be acknowledged.

Visually impaired Alexandria resident set to take on the Ironman world championship (The Washington Post)
It is grueling enough to swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, and run 26.2 miles, but imagine doing all of it while you can only see a blur of light ahead of you. A 52-year-old federal prosecutor has completed four Ironman triathlons under those exact conditions because of a disease that causes acute vision loss. Now she is training for October’s world championship as one of five winners of the Ironman lottery for physically challenged athletes. She relies on other athletes to guide her through the competition, being tethered at the waist or arm to someone who can see.

NeuroMetrics pain management technology cleared for OTC use by FDA (Medgadget)
People suffering from chronic pain in the lower legs and feet will soon have a new device available for purchase without prescription. Developed by NeuroMetrix, the device is a transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulator (TENS), the technology within which has already been prescribed in the form of the SENSUS Pain Management System for people with diabetic peripheral neuropathy and others with chronic pain in their lower limbs. The SENSUS is strapped around the leg just below the knee and has a 60-minute run cycle. For those needing constant therapy, the device can be used in “continuous” mode so that sessions automatically kick in every other hour.

Zinger is claimed to be the world’s lightest electric wheelchair (gizmag)
The Zinger lightweight folding electric wheelchair, along with its 36-volt lithium-ion battery, tips the scales at 38 pounds. Several factors contribute to its light weight, including an aluminum frame with nylon joints, a nylon mesh seat, and a single 200-watt motor with no gearing. The chair has a top speed of 6 mph, a range of 8 miles, and can handle inclines up to 10 degrees. When not in use, it can be quickly folded up and lifted into the back of an ordinary car. The Zinger reportedly will be for sale in the US by October. The article includes a video showing the chair in use.

Jerry the Bear helps diabetic kids learn to manage their own blood sugar (Medgadget)
Developed for diabetic children, Jerry is a toy bear who also has diabetes. The toy is interactive, letting kids check his sugar levels with a squeeze of any of his fingers. If glucose is too high, a toy insulin pen along with the interactive touch screen on the bear’s chest can be used to correct it. Jerry can also be fed various foods, in the form of cards that are swiped across his mouth, that have an effect on his blood glucose. Interacting with the bear helps the child overcome the same issues he or she eventually has to come to terms with. A video demonstrating the toy is included.

A chip offers a faster and cheaper test for type 1 diabetes (MIT Technology Review)
Stanford University scientists say they have developed a new test for type 1 diabetes that is far cheaper and faster than those now in use. In current tests, which are labor-intensive and cost hundreds of dollars, blood samples are sent to a lab, where radioactive materials are used to detect the cause of the disease: an auto-antibody that attacks the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. With the newly developed test, a nurse or doctor could put the sample on a 20-dollar chip about the size of a business card, along with a chemical that produces a fluorescent signal when it encounters auto-antibodies.

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