Disability

Sady

This incredible video is on Apple’s site today because it’s Global Accessibility Awareness Day.

The video starts showing Sady Paulson who uses a switch or switches to control her Mac. It then shows various other kinds of accessibility built into Apple products. Then, it zooms out to show who’s editing the video. It’s brilliant.

I worked with Apple’s disabilities group in the 1980s and 1990s and we did amazing stuff but Apple has come a long way since and it pays off daily for folks with various access issues who want to use Apple’s tools.

Giles Duley

Giles Duley – a second shot at life

Photographer Giles Duley, who lost three limbs in an explosion in Afghanistan, talks about his recovery and shares his latest series of photographs capturing the technicians and prosthetists working at the London 2012 Paralympics.

A lot of great creativity comes from restrictions.
– Giles Duley

Brilliant. An amazing story.

Giles Duley – a second shot at life

Giles Duley – a second shot at life

Photographer Giles Duley, who lost three limbs in an explosion in Afghanistan, talks about his recovery and shares his latest series of photographs capturing the technicians and prosthetists working at the London 2012 Paralympics.

A lot of great creativity comes from restrictions.
– Giles Duley

Brilliant. An amazing story.

Electric Imp

I’ve been reading about this service (and devices) for a few months now and it sounds fascinating to me. Electric Imp is a cloud-based service and a wifi-enabled SD card and a standard that allows devices using the card to be monitored and controlled from anywhere (else) in the world.

In this video Myriam Joire from Endgadget interviews Hugo Fiennes, the CEO of Electric Imp at Maker Faire. It’s worth watching to hear how the service works and see the possibilities. Here’s Myriam’s post.

One of the most successful of the early attempts to do home automation with devices was the X10 wireless technology standard. X10 controllers are used to operate lights and locks remotely and for home security, among many other things. However, as far as I know, they don’t use the internet, they work on a local network. The Electric Imp technology is an attempt to build a standard for communication and control and have OEMs build the card slot into their devices so that consumers can control those devices from afar.

What you’re seeing here is the early stages of a technology that might be built into consumer devices a number of years out, or not. Sometimes even the best technologies don’t catch on for seemingly small stumbles in naming, branding, or not being at the right place at the right time. Maybe a devilish imp isn’t the right brand for something like this, or maybe its perfect. No way to tell just yet.

I wonder if the disabilities-technology community even knows about this technology? It seems like it would be a great fit.

Alana Nichols’ spirit

The amazing thing about Alana’s story is that she just keeps moving forward, even with a large setback in her life (a broken back). No doubt the years right after she broke her back were tough but her spirit kept her moving.

It’s an inspiring story, beautifully produced by WGBH, the PBS affiliate in Boston.

Reminds me of the excellent documentary on wheelchair basketball: Murderball.

[via The Kid Should See This]

Memo Touch

Introducing Memo Touch, a tablet designed for elders with short-term memory loss

While the implementation may not be the best, this is a killer good idea and it allows family members to log into the account and set up reminders.

Of course, someone might write an app like this for iOS and then one could have all the benefits of an iPad plus a custom reminder system.

The problem with any idea like this is it has to be made fully accessible to people who can’t see, hear, or use the tablet’s UI well.

I think this is a job for my friend David Niemeijer at AssistiveWare.

AssistiveTouch

Apple’s AssistiveTouch Helps the Disabled Use a Smartphone

David Pogue is pretty worked up over AssistiveTouch and I can see why. After reading his piece I just played around with it and it’s quite fantastic. Settings/General/Accessibility/AssistiveTouch.

Try it (iOS 5), it’s quite interesting.

I’m most interested to see if it might make the iPad more accessible to my 96 year old mother. I don’t think so but it would be great if Apple worked on making iOS devices more accessible to the elderly.

Frankenkindle

Great stuff. Glen creates hacked Kindle for his sister who has cerebral palsy.

This reminds me so much of the early days of what is now called assistive technology: Hacked Apple IIs, HyperCard running X10 controllers, big switches, and the Closing the Gap conference where we all shared this stuff. This was my life for close to twenty years.

For a more elegant solution for iPad, see Assistiveware.

[via Endgadget]

Family Guy, Sarah Palin, and the limits of laughter

‘Family Guy,’ Palin and the Limits of Laughter

This is an excellent piece by New York Times writer Dave Itzkoff.

Andrea Fay Friedman has her act together as does Gail Williamson, executive director of the Down Syndrome Association of Los Angeles:

“Within ‘Family Guy,’ the character was fully included, well-rounded, dynamic, not dealing with stereotypical Down syndrome issues,” Ms. Williamson said. She added: “Am I a fan of that kind of humor? Eh. It’s beside the point.”

“If we’re asking for full inclusion in the schools and full inclusion in the world,” she said, “ we should appreciate full inclusion with other genres. Even if those genres are not what we appreciate.”

The unfortunate part of this situation is that most people are not clued in to the more nuanced issues here which Gail Williamson speak to. The way Palin speaks of her son Trig and has complained that Family Guy crossed a line isn’t really “PC” (politically correct), it’s knee jerk professional victim/sympathy vote stuff. Friedman speak to this:

“My mother did not carry me around under her arm like a loaf of French bread the way former Governor Palin carries her son Trig around looking for sympathy and votes.”

In the same sense that many thought the country was “post racial” with Obama’s election, it seems that some might think the country is “post disability” as more people with disabilities are fully included. Like the race issue, this issue is complex and has high profile people like Palin who are skilled at playing the victim card for her son and for herself.

Behind the scenes on accessible voting

WIRED News has a fascinating and depressing story: Diebold and the Disabled about disability groups being in bed with Diebold (the controversial voting machine company) initially to push their agenda of making voting more accessible (electronic voting is generally more accessible than paper or mechanical voting) but now it has come out that Diebold has given a lot of money to numerous disability groups in exchange for lobbying. Bad news for the credibility of these groups and it sure looks like a conflict of interests to me.

Disability rights and accessible voting do not trump the rights of all Americans to have fair voting with a process that is transparent and open to scrutiny. Current Diebold machines produce no paper trail (metaphoric or otherwise) and this is unacceptable, especially after the 2000 election fiasco in this country.