Disability News Weekly Roundup – Monday, January 5 – Friday, January 9

Advocacy:
Song and daughter inspire plans to celebrate people with disabilities (The New York Times)
In July, New York City will celebrate diversity with the Disability Pride NYC Parade. The impetus behind the inaugural march is the jazz pianist Mike LeDonne. Mr. LeDonne points to his daughter Mary as the reason for the parade. Mary was born with Prader-Willi Syndrome, a genetic disorder that has left her with a developmental disability and without speech. But she is also highly sensitive to music. Mr. LeDonne was moved by his daughter to create a lively musical procession that celebrates people whose distinctiveness is usually described in negative terms.

Community Living:
Keeping older pedestrians safe (The New York Times)
Too many older adults put their lives at the mercy of two- and four-wheeled vehicles when performing an activity they are repeatedly advised to do: walking. People 65 and older make up 13 percent of the population but account for a disproportionate number of pedestrian deaths (20 percent in 2012), and sustain more severe injuries in nonfatal accidents. Drivers share the blame with cyclists, designers of streets, and pedestrians themselves. Pedestrians must learn to be on the lookout for cyclists as well as vehicles that run red lights. It is also a good idea to look both ways when crossing a one-way street and avoid starting to cross when the “Don’t Walk” light is flashing. Pedestrians are also advised to wear reflective clothing and even to ask a more able pedestrian for help crossing the street.

Employment:
Report: People with disabilities paid a third less (Disability Scoop)
An analysis of Census data indicates that workers with disabilities are earning far less than typically-developing people with similar educational backgrounds. In 2011, people with disabilities took in 63 cents for every dollar paid to workers without disabilities. The findings come from an analysis of data from the U.S. Census that was conducted by the nonpartisan American Institutes for Research.

Research:
Limiting rest is found to help young concussion patients (The New York Times)
Experts recommend that young people who have suffered a concussion get one or two days of rest at home, until symptoms start resolving, before gradually returning to physical activity. But some doctors recommend that young patients remain inactive for even longer periods after a concussion. Now a randomized trial has compared the approaches an found that among a group of patients ages 11 to 22, those with a concussion who were prescribed strict rest for five days actually reported more symptoms than those told to rest for one or two days. Recovery was also slower for the group receiving stricter rest.

Solving the autism puzzle (MIT Technology Review)
Beginning with a paper in Science in 2007 and culminating with a report published in Nature last October, a group of scientists headed by Dr. Michael Wigler of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory have written a dramatically different story about the genetic origins of autism spectrum disorders. The scientists have shown that many cases of autism seem to arise from rare de novo mutations, new wrinkles in the fabric of DNA that are not inherited in the traditional way but arise as last-minute glitches during the process in which a parent’s sperm or egg cells form.

Technology:
Fifth graders 3D print a prosthetic leg for Stumpy the turtle (Gizmag)
Stumpy the box turtle had been short of a limb since the amputation of his injured front leg. But a group of fifth graders at a school in Savannah, California put the school’s 3D printer to use and produced a custom-made prosthetic, correcting Stumpy’s lopsided gait. The new leg needed to be small enough to optimize mobility, yet large enough to keep the bottom of his shell from scraping along the ground. The final design was inspired by the rolling wheels on the bottom of a classroom chair.

Bat signal for blind example of campus innovations (The News & Observer, Raleigh, NC)
Three students at Wake Forest University taking a technology development course this fall developed an assistive device to help blind people navigate obstacles. The device is worn like a watch that emits sound waves which bounce off objects ahead and to the side of the wearer that are then collected by sensors on the wristband. Vibrations generated by parts taken from cellphones grow more frequent the closer the person gets to the obstacle. The prototype of the seeing-eye sonar device was built for about $60.

Students design calming chairs for those on the spectrum (Disability Scoop)
Engineering students at CAPS, the Center for Advanced Professional Studies, in Overland Park, Kansas, have built a chair designed to calm a local student with autism. The Sensory Lounger is a chair that provides deep-pressure calm to the user while being affordable and looking like a regular piece of furniture. It was constructed using a Papasan chair, an inflatable air bag, a swimming pool noodle, and a remote-control air pump.

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