News

Federal officials are looking closer at how money is being spent in ABLE accounts.  The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development recently issued guidance to public housing officials across the country clarifying how they should treat funds accrued in ABLE accounts.

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A new grant opportunity from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) at ACL has been announced.

Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Technology for People who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing: NIDILRR seeks to fund research and development that leads to innovative technological solutions and strategies to improve the accessibility, usability, and performance of technologies designed to benefit people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

The purpose of the RERC program is to improve the effectiveness of services authorized under the Rehabilitation Act by conducting advanced engineering research on and development of innovative technologies that are designed to solve particular rehabilitation problems or to remove environmental barriers. RERCs also demonstrate and evaluate such technologies, facilitate service delivery system changes, stimulate the production and distribution of new technologies and equipment in the private sector, and provide training opportunities.

Please visit the link above for more details about the grant opportunity and application process. This grant opportunity closes on July 19, 2019.

Great entertainment requires authentic stories and genuine representation of all people. This includes diverse people with physical, cognitive, sensory, mental health and other disabilities.  RespectAbility, the nonprofit which created The Hollywood Disability Inclusion Toolkit, is now offering a lab  series for emerging entertainment professionals.  Great entertainment requires authentic stories and genuine representation of all people. This includes diverse people with physical, cognitive, sensory, mental health and other disabilities.

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Voice activated digital assistants have become more and more popular in households around the world.  Simple voice commands can literally do thousands  of tasks.  However, for some people with disabilities, these amazing tools are inaccessible without some sort of augmented feedback.  An engineer at Google went on a mission to change that for a very special reason--his brother has  disabilities and is unable to speak.  He developed a device that triggers commands to the device without having to verbalize them.  It involves a button that plugs into a phone, laptop, or tablet using a wired headphone jack that can be connected via Bluetooth to access the assistant.

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Research Opportunity for Adults who Use Wheelchairs Full-Time



Study title: Falls and Fear of Falling in Adults who Require Wheelchairs for Locomotion


To participate you must be an adult who:


  • Is at least 18 years old
  • Has a neurological diagnosis (such as but not limited to post-polio syndrome, spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis) for at least 6 months.
  • Use a wheelchair (manual or power) at least 75% of your mobility time inside your home and 100% of the time outside your home.
  • Has a computer with internet access.
  • Is able to read and understand English.

If you are interested in completing an anonymous on-line survey about your medical condition, falls, risk of falling, and fear of falling, please access this link: https://www.psychdata.com/s.asp?SID=183112


It will take you up to about 20 minutes to complete it. People who complete the survey will be eligible for a drawing for a $20 gift card.


Principal investigator and contact person:

Carolyn (Kelley) Da Silva, PT, DSc

cdasilva@twu.edu

713-794-2087


Carolyn is a professor in the School of Physical Therapy at Texas Woman's University and physical therapist at the post-polio out-patient clinic at TIRR Memorial Hermann Rehabilitation and Research in Houston, Texas.
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A new grant opportunity from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) at ACL has been announced.

Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Technologies to Enhance Independence and Community Living for People with Cognitive Impairments:NIDILRR seeks to fund research and development toward technologies that contribute to improved abilities of adults with cognitive impairment to perform daily activities of their choice in the home, community, or workplace.

The purpose of the RERC program is to improve the effectiveness of services authorized under the Rehabilitation Act by conducting advanced engineering research on and development of innovative technologies that are designed to solve particular rehabilitation problems or to remove environmental barriers. RERCs also demonstrate and evaluate such technologies, facilitate service delivery system changes, stimulate the production and distribution of new technologies and equipment in the private sector, and provide training opportunities.

Please visit the link above for more details about the grant opportunity and application process. This grant opportunity closes on July 15, 2019.

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Uber


By Kurt, 2019-05-19
Uber

Xian Horn
Contributor
ForbesWomen
Exploring leadership and empowerment through the lens of disability
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Words and regulations are meaningless without creating the cultural support to back them up.
Uber, as I mentioned, we the Disability Community are happy to work with you to make things much better.

Uber Has A Long Way To Go To Stop Discrimination And Foster Disability Inclusion

Uber Has A Long Way To Go To Stop Discrimination And Foster Disability Inclusion Vivia Horn, Graphic Design

Walking with two canes means getting on the crowded subway and bus can be dangerous and tiring for me. So, for as long as I’ve been alive, taxi or most any car has been the easiest way for me to travel.

I'm famous among my friends for how much I love talking to drivers from all over the world, hearing about their families, their home countries, their lives. This makes what I'm about to write even more devastating and unacceptable. Uber has been notorious for its poor treatment of women in the boardroom, its politics, and among people with disabilities for trying to rise above Americans with Disabilities Act regulations (surreptitiously arguing that they are an app company not a transportation service). Yes, really.... Now, apparently Lyft is following their bad example and claiming the same in court.

This morning, the rideshare drivers themselves, with the Uber IPO looming on Friday, have taken to the streets to put an end to poor treatment and little pay. Uber has not only forsaken their drivers, but the riders who need them the most.

Saturday night recently, in Naples, Florida, one of the friendliest cities I’ve known, my walker-rolling best friend and I were visiting family in a gated community and as we do when it's too late, we called an Uber to bring us back home. The driver took about 15 minutes to get to us, and as is usual, he called for the gate code. I cheerfully gave it to the driver and we headed toward the door to wait for his arrival. I was excited to meet him because he shared a name with one of my close friends. So when he pulled up, I walked toward the car and as I approached, I boomed a jovial “Hello! Good to see you! Can you help my friend with her walker?”

He didn't respond and as I got closer, began backing up his car very slowly. Oddly slowly. We assumed he must be making way for us to get in, but as the backing up continued further and further away, a family member said "Where are you going?" To which he replied “I cancelled the ride,” and when he gave no further explanation, I suddenly realized that without question, for the first time in my life, without a doubt, we were being left behind simply because of our apparent disabilities. This is different than being passed by while hailing. This man was assigned to us. He was the chosen one. I felt sorry for the Uber driver, thinking of the conversations we could have had, and simply said “God bless you,” as he backed away - my family member had a more visceral response saying: “You should be ashamed of yourself. What kind of human are you?” I intervened and tried to calm my family. My goal in the moment was simply to stay calm, not take it personally, and think of the many people in our lives who do love and embrace us.
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My first thought after our Uber driver left and we waited for our next one (who took another 15 minutes to get to us) was there GOT to be better training, so this does NOT happen to anyone else. My family member’s first thought was call the sheriff saying, “what he's done is illegal.” It is indeed illegal, but I said “Let me think about this before we do anything rash,” and thought it best to address this with Uber directly because I am aware of the sheer power of community I have, and want to use it wisely.

I wrote Uber a message explaining that we were refused on the basis of disability, and therefore I refused to pay the cancellation fee. I was told they were launching an internal investigation and I would be contacted soon. I was called the next day and I calmly recounted everything. I said I didn't want the guy fired, he probably has a family; I just wanted everyone trained properly in PERSON. No two-dimensional videos or stories. The lady from Uber said something about each of them being independent contractors, so it's not their policy to train, but drivers are made aware that discrimination is illegal and not tolerated. I offered to help them run trainings and she said “I'm not authorized to make that call, but I'll tell my supervisor.” When nothing came of it, I realize the only thing she actually did was refund my $5.50 cancellation fee. I do not care about the money. I care as we all should, that needless ignorance is eradicated and true connections are made. The more time passes, the more I realize something MORE must be done. And the more conversations I've had, it’s overwhelmingly clear that we are not the only ones this has happened to, and it isn’t just Uber. When I shared this story, I asked for other people to share theirs. The responses were devastating. I received dozens more messages detailing similar or worse treatment of others in the Disability Community. So I am left to assume it happens much, much more than can be accurately quantified. One mom of a friend with a disability said I was lucky to get my $5.50 back because it was usually difficult. Really, Uber? One advocate commented:

“There have already been a couple of lawsuits with these companies and demands for better training. Sadly, the results have been subpar and the business model continually places blame on individual drivers.”

There are at least five known active lawsuits against Uber and Lyft, courtesy of Melissa Riess and Stuart Seaborn of the DRA (Disability Rights Advocates).

Access Living v. Uber (Chicago)
Equal Rights Center v. Uber (Washington, DC)
Lowell v. Lyft (New York)
Crawford v. Uber (Mississippi)
Namisnak v. Uber (New Orleans)

Many of these cases call for more accessible vehicles, but will those numbers even help if drivers remain untrained?

And countless cases as per App user agreement, must go through arbitration first, and are therefore, buried from public view.

Uber and others may place blame on drivers, but I hold rideshare companies responsible for refusing to see their larger responsibilities toward informing and educating drivers in serving the Disability Community.

Rachael Leahcar, a legally blind contestant on the Voice, made the news for having been refused in Australia and said referring to friends with service dogs “I don’t know anyone who hasn’t been refused” ABC News interviewed wheelchair user, Joshua Foster, recently after he was left behind because of his wheelchair. Joshua’s story represents one of thousands that go untold and unrecorded.

When this incident in Florida happened, it opened my eyes to how often this has been happening to my fellow advocates. Superstar activist and wheelchair user, Emily Ladau, commented upon hearing my story: “[This kind of story] is actually one of the reasons I don’t use these rideshare services. But it’s happened several times with NYC taxis where the driver slows down, gets a good look at my wheelchair, and speeds off. I’m so sorry you encountered this. And there’s a huge need to do better in the transportation industry.”

Madonna Long, also an advocate and wheelchair user shared:

“This happens more often than you think. Uber drivers have no regulations and honestly not much you can do. I’ve been after UBER for years. Our community takes their sponsorships and they play kind. But in the end, accessible transportation or disability etiquette is not in their manual or their rulebook. Take a taxi next time if you can... they are regulated.”

I refuse to believe that there’s not much we can do. I believe working together with us, Uber and all companies can be better and they will.

So what is Uber’s official stance?

“Uber seeks to ensure that safe, reliable, and high-quality transportation options are available to everyone. Uber and its affiliates, therefore, prohibit discrimination against riders or drivers based on race, religion, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, sex, marital status, gender identity, age or any other characteristic protected under applicable federal or state law.

Such discrimination includes, but is not limited to, refusing to provide or accept services based on any of these characteristics.

Any rider or driver found to have violated this prohibition will lose access to the Uber app.”

However, it seems there is very little actual seeking by Uber to ensure discrimination does not happen. They offer no training, etiquette or education to drivers. Words and regulations are meaningless without creating the cultural support to back them up. And lack of training and accountability means drivers can continue bad behavior.

So what can you do if you’ve been a situation like this? For starters, you can file a written compliant to the Federal Transit Authority and talk to the Better Business Bureau.

The response by my personal circle to what happened that Saturday night described above, has been overwhelming; Uber’s has been crickets; as if now that I got a refund, the transgression never happened. I’m left to wonder if stories of discrimination have been so numerous “internally” and the consequences so nominal publicly, that the ride share company has simply become desensitized to the many people it has abandoned, the people who need them the most (those like myself who can’t drive or those who live alone) by refusing to step up and train their contractors. Uber seems to see serving people with disabilities as a burden to be avoided rather than an opportunity to serve their most loyal potential customers.

Michelle Uzeta, a longtime disability rights lawyer says,

“Ultimately, you have to believe [drivers] want to provide the service and make a living; this kind of gig economy could be really great for people with disabilities who have been long shut out from having reliable transportation services.”

And she says Uber and other rideshare companies should (like the Taxi and Limousine Commission does in New York) provide incentives to buy accessible vehicles or attend training.

Uber, as I mentioned, we the Disability Community are happy to work with you to make things much better.

But for now, I’m deeply disappointed by your continued lack of concern and appropriate action; please do right by your customers, and don’t give us another reason to delete you. Instead, train your contractors and give us the opportunity to be your most loyal, satisfied customers.
Xian Horn
Xian Horn
Contributor

Xian Horn is a joyful half-Asian woman with Cerebral Palsy, who serves as teacher, speaker, beauty advocate, blogger, and Exemplar for the AT&T NYU Connect Ability C...

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Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD)

Join us on Thursday, May 16 2019 and mark the eighth Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD). The purpose of GAAD is to get everyone talking, thinking and learning about digital (web, software, mobile, etc.) access/inclusion and people with different disabilities

https://globalaccessibilityawarenessday.org/

https://www.facebook.com/globalaccessibilityawarenessday/

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There's no doubt that technology has become much more accessible to people with disabilities.  However, many people feel there's lots of room to improve things.Making it easier for developers to identify and correct errors in code that prevent platforms from being accessible is just one example.  The good news is that companies  are learning to cater to people with disabilities.

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A growing collection of stock images that break stereotypes and authentically portray people with disabilities in everyday life are being compiled for use by the public. The efforts are being led by a partnership between leaders in the stock images and disability rights fields. There are over 350 images in the Disability Collection's inaugural batch of images. The images show people with disabilities participating in everyday life activities.  The team took an unique approach to compiling the images. They performed focus groups and collected feedback from various disability organizations.

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