Disability News Weekly Roundup – Monday, May 11 – Friday, May 15

Human Interest:
Audree Norton, who paved way for deaf actors, dies at 88 (The New York Times)
Audree Norton, a Deaf actress whose fight to be cast on a television show in the late 1970s greatly helped the careers of Deaf actors who followed her, died on April 22 at the age of 88. In the late 1970, she and her husband, who is also Deaf, auditioned for the roles of the mother and father in “Mom and Dad Can’t Hear Me,” an ABC Afterschool Special about a hearing teenager with Deaf parents. Although they won the roles, they were not hired because the director was afraid to use Deaf actors. The Nortons responded by filing a complaint with the Screen Actors Guild. This action raised public awareness of the work of Deaf actors and demonstrably helped pave the way for the generation that followed, including Marlee Matlin, who won an Oscar in 1986 for “Children of a Lesser God.”

Accessibility:
Easyjet to fit planes with wheelchair accessible toilets (Reduced Mobility Rights)
Britain’s low-cost airline Easyjet has announced it is to fit all its new A320 planes with a Space-Flex 2 lavatory, a wheelchair-accessible toilet. All new Airbus A320s delivered after May 2016 will feature the accessible lavatory. Airbus is the only aircraft manufacturer in the world to offer this option on single-aisle planes. The airline also announced plans to retrofit its existing 76 A320s with the Space-Flex 2 lavatory. The process should be completed by 2018.

Education:
From ‘lost’ to possibilities: Colleges helping students with autism (NBC News)
Autism/Asperger’s Initiative (AIM) at Mercyhurst University in Erie, PA is a pioneering program designed to help students overcome challenges students with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) face in the academic environment. In addition to academic instruction, the four-year program helps students develop executive functioning and practical life skills and provides them with emotional and social support. Mercyhurst is working with other colleges to create similar programs. Some participating colleges include the Rochester Institute of Technology, Rutgers University, University of Tennessee (Chattanooga,) University of West Florida, UCLA, the University of Connecticut, and Marshall University in West Virginia.

Policy:
In first, state to ban subminimum wage (Disability Scoop)
With legislation signed last week, New Hampshire is set to become the first state in the nation to make it illegal for people with disabilities to be paid less than minimum wage. Previously, New Hampshire law allowed employers to obtain permission to pay those with physical or mental impairments less than minimum wage. In 2012 the National Council on Disability recommended to President Barack Obama that subminimum wage be phased out, and a federal law passed last year instituted new limits on who is eligible to enter employment situations paying less than minimum wage.

Rehabilitation:
Novel computer intelligence system for acute stroke (Science Daily)
Researchers at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University have developed a novel computer-aided detection system for acute stroke using computer intelligence technology. The system is able to detect if the patient had ischemic stroke or haemorrhagic stroke. The detection accuracy is 90 percent, which is as high as that conducted by specialists, but at a much reduced time from 10 to 15 minutes to 3 minutes. The new system serves as a second opinion for frontline medical doctors, enabling timely and appropriate treatment for stroke patients.

Pressure sensing stocking to help save diabetic feet (MedGadget)
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research and Institute for Integrated Circuits in Germany have created a prototype pressure monitoring stocking for patients with diabetic neuropathy, who are unable to sense pressure on their feet. The stocking can let the wearer know when to change positions, take a rest, or keep on walking. It has 40 elastic sensors that combine their data to create a map of the pressure forces applied to the feet. The sensors are made of silicone film with flexible electrodes making the electric connection. A control unit is attached to the stocking.

Research:
Cause of regression in individuals with Down syndrome identified (Science Daily)
Down syndrome can be complicated by significant deterioration in movement, speech, and functioning in some adolescents and young adults. Physicians have attributed this regression to depression or early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, and it has not responded to treatment. Now, a researcher at the University of Missouri has found that catatonia, a treatable disorder, may cause regression in patients with Down syndrome. Patients with regressive Down syndrome who were treated for catatonia showed improvement, the researcher found.

Technology:
Smart cane with facial recognition and GPS capabilities (MedGadget)
The XploR cane developed by students at Britain’s Birmingham City University has smartphone electronics, including a camera, built in. The device looks ahead and uses computer recognition algorithms to identify people the blind user personally knows. A memory card holds photos of family members and friends, and the cane automatically compares people it sees against those files. The device also has GPS capability, so that combining it with a wireless Bluetooth headset can provide navigational guidance.

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