Disability News Weekly Roundup – Monday, October 6 – Friday, October 10

Human Interest:
A couple gaining independence, and finding a bond (The New York Times)
A couple about to wed met five years ago at a sheltered workshop in North Providence, RI, where people with intellectual disabilities performed repetitive jobs for little pay, in isolation. The article follows the couple on the day of their wedding and describes events that led up to it, including the federal investigation and subsequent shutdown of the workshop and their experiences finding gainful and rewarding employment as well as a place to live independently.

Education:
D.C. Council approves special-education bills, aims to speed delivery of services (The Washington Post)
The Council of the District of Columbia has unanimously approved three bills designed to overhaul special-education services in the city, aiming to speed delivery of services to students with special needs, and give parents better information and resources they can use to advocate for their children. The bills expand eligibility requirements for early intervention services for infants and toddlers with developmental delay. For older students, the law requires schools to begin planning for the transition to adulthood at age 14; currently, the process starts when students are 16.

Living:
Ranking names best cities for people with disabilities (Disability Scoop)
A new ranking by the consumer finance website WalletHub is offering insight on the nation’s best and worst places for people with disabilities to live. The ranking factors three key areas to assess each locale: economic environment, quality of life, and health care. The Kansas City, MO, suburb of Overland Park was ranked the overall number one city for people with disabilities, followed by Lubbock, TX. Providence, RI, fared worst in the ranking. Among big cities, Tampa, FL came in highest in the ranking at number eight, followed by Baltimore at 14.

Rehabilitation:
Continents & Oceans: Free learning app to improve listening skills from MED-EL (Hearing Review)
Continents & Oceans is a free computer app from MED-EL USA designed to test and improve listening skills for people with cochlear implants. It features three levels that get progressively more challenging. Players listen to both male and female voices as they name the continents and oceans of the world and tap the screen to verify what was said. Different accents increase the difficulty level to challenge players, who are scored based on how fast they respond.

Technology:
Google Glass live captioning for deaf and hard of hearing captions nearby speakers (Medgadget)
A new app for Google Glass reads lips to aid Deaf users in conversing with hearing individuals. Developed at Georgia Tech, the app works with a smartphone that runs voice recognition algorithms. The person with whom the Glass wearer is speaking simply talks into the phone and the transcribed text automatically appears within the Glass. The article includes a short video demonstrating the app in use.

Safety Glo bedside handrail’s soft grip glows, targets optimized bedside mobility (Rehab Management)
The Safety Glo Bedside Handrail features a pad on top of the rail with a soft glow to allow users to locate the rail during movement at night. The handrail’s soft grip is designed to recharge in room light, without batteries or power cords. The product is engineered to fit securely to a metal bed frame and help users reposition, sit up, or transfer to a chair or wheelchair. It is designed to fit twin to king mattresses and also comes with components to attach to different bed frames.

DETECT sideline concussion assessment system from Emory University (Medgadget)
Researchers at Emory University have been working on a system for live diagnosis of concussions whether on sport field sidelines or battlefields. Emory’s DETECT system uses an immersive head-worn display and noise-cancelling headphones to virtually isolate the person from his sensory environment. A video game-like controller is used to interact with different routines presented to the user, with the system measuring responses to the challenges it presents. The test takes ten to fifteen minutes to complete. The article includes a video presenting the system.

Signing robot developed as chatty companion for the elderly (gizmag)
Toshiba has developed an android robot that communicates in Japanese sign language. The result of an in-house ideas program, the android has the look of a young Japanese woman, complete with blinking eyes and, purportedly, a warm smile. There are also plans to include speech recognition and synthesis technology for natural communication. Toshiba hopes to introduce the robot for use with the elderly and individuals with dementia by 2020, aiding caregivers or family members in keeping watch on loved ones. The article includes a short video outlining the development of the technology.

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