Disability News Weekly Roundup – Monday, November 17 –Friday, November 21

Pope looks to destigmatize autism (Disability Scoop)
On this Saturday, the pope will meet with individuals with autism and their families during an international conference on the developmental disorder. The gathering , which will include prayer and song, will cap the three-day conference, put on by the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers that officials indicated will bring together more than 650 people from 57 countries. Topics on the Conference agenda range from biological research and behavioral treatment options to the pastoral and theological aspects of supporting people on the spectrum.

USPSTF: Evidence low for speech delay screen in young children (Physician’s Briefing/HealthDay News)
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has concluded that there is insufficient evidence to support speech-delay screening for children aged 5 and younger. The conclusion follows a systematic review of studies reporting on the benefits and harms of speech-delay screening conducted at the University of North Carolina Evidence-based Practice Center. The USPSTF has published a draft recommendation statement based on the review findings.

Teen lands venture capital for accessibility device (Disability Scoop)
A 13-year-old eighth-grade student is the world’s youngest tech entrepreneur to receive venture capital funding. Intel Capital has invested in the teen’s startup company Braigo Labs, a purveyor of low-cost, compact Braille printers. The Braigo printer is built out of Legos and includes software created using Intel’s Edison chip, an inexpensive development platform. While other Braille printers cost between $2,000 and $10,000, Braigo plans to sell its model for around $350.

The GRIT Freedom Chair takes the wheelchair mountain biking (Gizmag)
The Freedom Chair was born more than fifty years ago in an MIT student project called the Leveraged Freedom Chair (LFC), built to navigate rough, unstructured terrain but small enough to use indoors. It has been distributed to developing countries around the world. Now its maker, Global Research Innovation & Technology (GRIT), is bringing the chair back home to the US. The updated Freedom Chair maintains the LFC’s primary design, converting arm power into motion by a simple lever-based, geared drivetrain. As on a bicycle, the gearing eases the strain on the muscles, allowing the rider to power through rougher terrain and up steeper hills.

Speaker array focuses sound on listener with hearing loss, spares everyone else (Medgadget)
A researcher at the UK’s University of Southampton has developed a speaker system that can focus high-volume audio on one person in a room while letting anyone else present hear things at normal levels. The system consists of loudspeakers that are accurately phase-shifted in respect to each other to create a “hot spot,” while everything around is kept at a standard volume.

Toymaker wants playtime to be more inclusive (Disability Scoop)
Hasbro, the maker of toys such as Mr. Potato Head, Play-Doh, and Connect 4, is introducing a series of free online videos to help children with disabilities learn to play with their products. Toy Box Tools is designed to help users learn what each toy is all about, how to put it together, and how to engage in play independently or with peers.

Genteel lancing device for pain-free glucose testing anywhere on body (Medgadget)
Genteel, a new lancing device to be used for blood glucose testing, allows diabetic patients to take blood samples from just about anywhere on the body with little pain. The device prevents pain by vibrating the skin just before the lance pierces it and by creating a vacuum around the sample site at the moment of penetration. Genteel uses standard FDA-approved square lancets and works with any glucometer. The article includes a video demonstrating the device.

Touch-sensitive 3D maps guide the blind with spoken instructions (Gizmag)
A new multi-sensory 3D map system has been developed to guide individuals with visual impairments through unfamiliar public spaces. A collaborative effort by tactile-graphics company Touch Graphics and the University of Buffalo’s iDeA Center, the system gives spoken directions and building information when touched. The technology includes sound effects as well, such as gurgling fountains and chiming bells. A three-button menu system enables users to familiarize themselves with the layout and names of places on the map.

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