Airbnb buys ‘Airbnb for disabled people’ startup Accomable in accessibility upgrade

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Airbnb, the accommodation and travel startup that is now valued at $31 billion, is today announcing an acquisition that points to how it wants to address the travel needs of more kinds of customers. It has bought Accomable, a startup based out of London that focuses on travel listings that are disabled-friendly. Along with the announcement Airbnb is refreshing its own accessibility features as the first stage in how it hopes to develop them.

As part of the acquisition, Accomable will be winding down its business, co-founder and CEO Srin Madipalli said in an interview this week here in London, as the startup’s team begins work on building out both more specific features for the Airbnb platform, and a community of hosts who can accommodate disabled visitors — and in turn, to attract more of those looking to book disabled-friendly travel.

This will start with accommodation for those in wheelchairs first, he said, with an invitation being extended to Accomable’s existing hosts to list on Airbnb as part of the transition. Accomable had amassed listings for 1,100 properties in 60 countries with details about step-free access, other accessibility adaptations and with photos to show it all to would-be visitors.

Over time, the idea will be to create communities for travellers with other accessibility needs, and potentially move into areas that are aligned with Airbnb’s own expansion into Experiences once you get to your destination, which is another important area of travel where those needing special accessibility have been underserved.

“It’s something that has frustrated me from the start, that we weren’t able to do everything for everyone,” Madipalli said. “One of the challenges in an early startup is that you have constrained resources, but within Airbnb we can diversify.”

And hopefully grow: he also added that one of Accomable’s biggest issues up to now has been that demand for places has far exceeded the supply of available listings.

Airbnb — which has booked accommodation for 260 million guests and currently features over four million listings — is coupling the news with some accessibility announcements of its own. While the company has offered the ability to search for whether a property is wheelchair accessible, the company now acknowledges that this wasn’t cutting it.

“Guests weren’t getting the information they needed to find the right homes, nor the confidence that the home they selected would actually be accessible for them,” Airbnb notes in a blog post. Now, the company is updating and enhancing this with more detail, including whether there is step-free entry to rooms, and if entryways are wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair. These search features are now live on the web version of Airbnb and will soon get added to its iOS and Android apps.

Financial terms of the Accomable acquisition are not being disclosed, after the startup raised less than $500,000, mostly from angel investors. For now, Madipalli will be the only one who is relocating to San Francisco, with the rest of the small team continuing to work out of London.

Accomable was founded in 2015 by Madipalli and Martyn Sibley, who together previously had co-founded a magazine and online community called Disability Horizons. The two friends are avid travellers but found that it was a lot of work to organise trips: both have Spinal Musular Atrophy and use wheelchairs.

In the very crowded market of online resources out there for tourists of other stripes, they saw a gap: planning accommodation, travel and activities around accessibility needs should be as straightforward as planning for any other need, they thought. And thus Accomable was born.

“The original idea we had was to solve a problem that Martyn and I specifically had,” Madipalli recalled. “We said to ourselves, ‘we can fix this problem with tech.’”

Continue onto Tech Crunch to read the complete article.

The Ability Hacks: The story of two hackathon teams embracing the transformative power of technology

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Microsoft's Hackathon

This week is the Microsoft One Week Hackathon, where employees from around the company work tirelessly to “hack” solutions to some of the world’s biggest challenges. The opportunity to empower people through technology, particularly those with disabilities, has never been more important.

Back in 2014, we had 10 ability hack projects, last year we had 150 projects and 850 people, and this year – well, it’s going to be exciting to see. This is a wonderful testament to our employees and their passion for innovation and conviction in the importance of empowering every person and organization to achieve more.

An inspiration for many was two Ability Hack projects that won the company hackathon in 2014 and 2015, and this year we will be giving away copies to hackers of a new book covering the journeys of those hackathon teams. “The Ability Hacks” shares the behind-the-scenes stories of the hackers who pioneered two innovative hacks-turned-solutions used today by people with disabilities around the world – the Ability EyeGaze Hack team and Learning Tools Hack team.

We hope this book, and the journeys these teams have been on, can help spark a conversation about the transformative power of technology, and encourage engineers and developers to build the next wave of inclusive technology. I encourage you to read, and as a teaser, here are a few highlights:

EyeGaze: Reinstating independence by revolutionizing mobility

“Until there is a cure for ALS, technology can be that cure.” – Steve Gleason, former NFL player

In 2014, former NFL player Steve Gleason, who has a neuromuscular disease called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), sent an email to Microsoft challenging employees to develop a technology that could allow him to drive a wheelchair with his eyes. A group of software engineers, program managers, marketers and advocates formed the Ability Eye Gaze hack team and accepted this challenge ahead of the 2014 Microsoft hackathon.

Through hard work, determination and despite a few twists and turns, the team collaborated to build a solution complete with duct tape that allowed Steve to control his wheelchair with his eyes. This invention had impact, ultimately inspiring the formation of the Microsoft Research NExT Enable team, who have continued working on technology for people with ALS and other disabilities. This has already resulted in a new feature named Eye Control, which was developed in collaboration with the Windows team, and was included in Windows 10 last year.
Learning Tools: Transforming education and learning in the classroom
“If you design things for the greatest accessibility – Learning Tools is like that – it makes everything accessible to all, and why wouldn’t we want that?” – A fourth-grade teacher

While Learning Tools involved a different set of players in a different part of Microsoft, its story shares the same lessons, opportunities, passion and impact experienced by the Eye Gaze team. Winner of the 2015 Hackathon, Learning Tools helps students with dyslexia learn how to read and is now transforming education for teachers, students, administrators and parents.

What’s amazing about this story was the diversity of the team, which included developers, a reading team and a speech pathologist, working extensively with students and educators to create the product. While originally created for folks with dyslexia, the Learning Tools team is seeing benefits to folks with dysgraphia, ADHD, English language learners and emerging readers. Today, Learning Tools is incorporated into apps, Office, and Edge, reaching 13 million active users in more than 40 languages. Like the Eye Gaze team before it, the Learning Tools team evolved from a passionate hackathon into a strategic business.You can even read “The Ability Hacks” using Learning Tools, just download the PDF and open in Microsoft Edge.

‘It’s not about the technology. It’s about the people.

As Peter Lee, corporate vice president, Microsoft Healthcare, shares in the book’s foreword, “A focus on inclusion helps a team become more empathetic with its users, which in turn affects deeply the design and development process of products.”

Personally, I go to work every day feeling humbled that I represent a company with an incredible mission to empower every person on the planet to achieve more. I’m grateful for the chance to share just a few of their stories in “The Ability Hacks.” Trust me, it’s two stories of many that have taken place over the last four years and there will be a lot more in our future.

While we’ve come a long way in incorporating accessibility and inclusivity in everything we do, the truth is that accessibility is a journey. There is more in front of us than behind us. Please read the book and join the conversation about inclusive technology design on Twitter via #abilityhacks. And if you want to create products for people with disabilities, do check out our AI for Accessibility program, which provides access to advanced Microsoft Azure cloud computing resources to individuals and organizations working on empowering people with disability across the world at https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/ai-for-accessibility.

The Ability Hacks

Aligned with the first day of Microsoft’s One Week Hackathon, Microsoft will launch a new book which shares the behind the scenes stories of two Microsoft Hackathon teams who embraced their passion and pioneered two innovative hacks-turned-solutions used today by people with disabilities around the world.

The book includes a foreword by Corporate Vice President Peter Lee and an afterword by Chief Accessibility Officer Jenny Lay-Flurrie, and is available in paperback and Kindle at Amazon.com and for download on PDF and EPUB.

We hope this book and the journeys these teams have been on, can help spark a conversation about the transformative power of technology, and encourage engineers and developers to build the next wave of inclusive technology. If you want to create products for people with disabilities, do check out our AI for Accessibility program, which provides access to advanced Microsoft Azure cloud computing resources and grants to individuals and organizations working on empowering people with disability across the world at https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/ai-for-accessibility.

Continue on to Microsoft’s newsroom to read the complete blog.

 

Filmmaker with Quadriplegia is Changing the Face of STEM

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Woman with Quadriplegia

Crystal R. Emery, a dynamic producer, author, and filmmaker known for producing socially conscious works and stories that celebrate the triumph of the human spirit, is the founder and CEO of URU The Right To Be, Inc., a nonprofit content production company that tackles social issues via film, theater, publishing, and other arts-based initiatives.

Triumphing over two chronic diseases as a quadriplegic, Emery continues to shape a successful personal and professional life. She attributes her breakthrough as a producer and writer and growth as a human being to her participation in the classes taught by Guru Madeleine at The New School of Learning in New Rochelle, New York.

The previous issue of Black EOE Journal featured an article on her documentary Changing the Face of Medicine, which aired nationally on PBS and the WORLD channel. Now, Emery isn’t only changing the face of medicine, but also Changing the Face of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) with her national education and engagement program that inspires Americans to rethink their perceived limitations.

URU The Right To Be, Inc. presented the Changing the Face of STEM initiative last year at the National Academy of Sciences, in Washington, D.C., which included conversations with well-known leaders in STEM disciplines and an awards event. The forum was a significant component of the educational initiative, which will go global this year with the American Film Showcase’s international tour of U.S. embassies in several countries around the world. This effort is part of the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Black woman working with studentsEmery also published Master Builders of the Modern World: Reimaging the Face of STEM, a book that tells the stories of women and the members of under-represented populations and their contributions to the past, present, and future of STEM.

By showing what black, brown, female, and people with disabilities have already accomplished, Emery and the URU The Right To Be, Inc. are hoping to inspire the next generation of scientific minds to reach for the stars.

Source: URU The Right To Be, Inc.

Online Shopping For Consumers With Disabilities

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online-shopping

Online shopping eliminates many of the challenges individuals with disabilities face when shopping at physical stores. For the 56.7 million people with disabilities (19% of the U.S. population) just finding reliable transportation for shopping is a big challenge. One survey found individuals with disabilities are twice as likely to lack transportation as their non-disabled peers.

Scarcity of accessible parking, lack of elevators, and high product shelves are shopping challenges that affect the 30.6 million folks who have difficulty walking, climbing stairs, or who use a wheelchair, cane, or walker. Online shopping eliminates many of these common challenges. E-commerce also makes it easier to comparison shop the best brands at the lowest prices — an important consideration for a group that averages lower incomes, higher medical expenses, and lower employment rates. Most major e-commerce companies work with advocacy groups to ensure their websites are accessible to everyone. However, not all websites are fully compliant with accessibility standards or ADA laws, so some people are left out.

Web accessibility means integrating sites with tools like screen readers or offering choices like blocking blinking page elements so that people with disabilities can surf, shop, and ship the products and services they need. People with disabilities make up an enormous and powerful economic group that represents about 10% of total online spending. But for people with disabilities to take full advantage of online shopping, they need the right tools and resources. We’re happy to say that Wikibuy works with most of these tools, and we’re currently working on 100% compatibility.

Table of Contents

Improving Screen Readability Resources for online shoppers with low vision, colorblindness, or dyslexia that help them read what’s on their computer, tablet, or smartphone screen.

Regaining Hand Control Resources that help people with hand mobility issues more effectively use a computer input device like a keyboard or mouse.

Supporting Cognitive & Physical Limitations Resources to help people with learning disabilities get easier access to e-commerce websites using memory aids and software that removes distractions.

Supporting People Who Are Hard of Hearing Resources to help people who are hard of hearing better interact with product review videos and audio ads, by providing captioning.

Enhancing Web Experience Resources to help website owners and designers stay compliant with accessibility standards.

Improving Screen Readability

Blind/low vision

Some folks with visual impairments may have difficulty navigating the many elements of a website, which makes it tough to shop or pay for products and services. Since many ecommerce sites contain an overabundance of product images and descriptions, people with visual impairments may struggle to:

Locate a page’s menus and controls.
Track the movement of the cursor.
Adjust to changes on a page, like popup windows or scrolling ads.
Follow the constant flow of information while scrolling.
Confirm correct personal or payment information in a form field.
Although people who are legally blind or have low visual acuity may have difficulty distinguishing on-screen details, resources like screen readers, magnifiers, and text-to-talk apps help bring things into focus.

Screen readers

Screen readers are a type of computer software that translates on-screen text into an audio voice or into braille for refreshable braille displays. The voice speed is adjustable, giving users more flexibility for following along. To keep users oriented, screen readers read aloud specific graphic elements like icons, images, or sections like “payment options”. The software identifies these sections as a user highlights them with their mouse or hovers over them with their cursor. The software will also read back any text the user inputs, like their name or credit card number.

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Online Resources

ChromeVox — Text-to-talk Chrome extension
Talking Web — Text-to-talk Chrome extension
Firefox browser — Compatible screen reader
Best screen reader — web browser pairings
10 free screen readers
Screen reader simulation — Experience what it’s like to use a screen reader
Amazon’s screen reader optimized website.
Software
JAWS (Windows)
VoiceOver — Screen reader and media creation tool (Mac)
NVDA — Free screen reader (Windows)
BRLTTY — Driver for braille displays (Linux)

Screen magnifiers

Screen magnifiers are software or physical devices that enlarge text, icons, and other on-screen graphics for people with low vision. Digital magnifiers let users adjust the contrast of text, sharpen edges of images, and change the colors of webpage elements. To add more flexibility, screen magnifiers also follow along with user actions, enlarging areas of the screen as they type text or move their cursor. Physical screen magnifiers fit over a computer’s monitor or smartphone screen and enlarge the image like a magnifying glass.

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Screen magnifiers (Devices)
Flat screen and LCD magnifiers
Laptop screen magnifier
Top 5 best screen magnifiers for smartphones
Microsoft Comfort Optical Mouse 3000 — Mouse with magnifier function built in
Large-key keyboards — Easy to see, high-contrast keys
Screen magnifiers (Software)
ICONICO (Windows)
Magnifixer (Windows)
Virtual Magnifying Glass (Windows, Mac OS X, Linux)
Easy Reader (Windows, iOS and Android)
SuperNova Magnifier (Windows 7, 8.1 & 10)
MagniLink IMax (Mac)
ZoomText Magnifier (Windows 10, 8.1 or 7 with Service Pack 1 (or later))
ZoomText Mac (Mac)

Colorblindness

Colorblindness affects many parts of a person’s life, from driving to shopping. Many forms of colorblindness exist, but for shoppers who have it, each one creates a major problem: confusing one color for another. Many things people without colorblindness take for granted are a challenge to those who can’t discern red from green or who lack color vision (achromatopsia) all together. Something as simple as being able to tell ripe bananas from green ones is something people with colorblindness have to consider when shopping at brick-and-mortar stores.

Ecommerce websites can also be confusing spaces. Colorblindness presents challenges while shopping online for clothing, shoes, house furnishing, or anything else that needs color coordination. Those with achromatopsia can have problems identifying colored links to checkout pages or other product pages. Folks with colorblindness often enlist friends and family when making a choice, whether it’s choosing ripe fruit or the right Fruit of the Loom. Here are some resources to help:

Color Enhancer — Customizable color filter for webpages to improve color perception
Visolve — Software that transforms computer display colors into discriminable ones
ColorCompass — App that lets users identify the color of any element on a screen by clicking it (Mac)
Color Blind Pal — App that helps people who are colorblind see the colors around them
Enchroma — Eye glasses that help correct colorblindness
Colorblind Test — Test for colorblindness
Colorblind Simulator — Simulation for experiencing colorblindness

Dyslexia

People with dyslexia can find it problematic matching the letters they see on a webpage with the sounds those letters make. Dyslexia is a common disability, affecting up to 20% of people, and can restrict interaction with ecommerce websites, taking away the advantages of online shopping.

Some people with dyslexia may find product descriptions, reviews, or instructions confusing, which means they can’t compare products or evaluate them properly before purchase. Websites often contain large blocks of text or text over images. Both can negatively affect the online shopping experience of a person with dyslexia. At check out, security measures like CAPTCHA tests for bots but leaves some users with dyslexia frustrated, closing their browser with products still in their shopping cart. Here are some other website design elements that limit access to people with dyslexia:

  • Decorative, unfamiliar, or serif fonts
  • Large blocks of texts with little white space
  • High brightness contrast between the text and background colors (white on black)
  • Distracting videos, audio, and web animations
  • Sequenced lists that are inconsistent or unpredictable
  • Fortunately, people with dyslexia have many options when it comes to apps, browser extensions, and software that makes accessing ecommerce websites much easier.

Continue on to read the complete article from Wikibuy here

‘Black, queer, disabled and brilliant’: Activist hopes to make history in space

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Eddie Ndopu wasn’t expected to live past 5 years old. Now, the 27-year-old South African hopes to be the first person with a disability to travel to space.

Eddie Ndopu describes himself as “black, queer, disabled and brilliant.”

“I embody all of the identities that position me at a disadvantage in society,” he told NBC News. “But I am turning that on its head.”

By the end of the year, the 27-year-old South African hopes to become the first person with a disability to go to space.

When Ndopu was 2 years old, he was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), an incurable condition that causes progressive muscle degeneration and weakness. His prognosis was devastating: His family was initially told he would not live beyond the age of 5.

But a tenacious Ndopu said it wasn’t long before he was able to “outstrip and outlive all expectations,” both academically and medically. He attributes this in part due to his mother, whom he said never gave up on him or stopped fighting for him.

Ndopu said when he was 7 years old and living in Namibia (he moved to neighboring South Africa when he was 10), his mom came home to find him sitting in front of the television staring despondently at a blank screen. “She held my head in her hands and begged me to tell her what was wrong,” Ndopu recalled.“Finally, I told her all I wanted was to go to school.”

Despite inclusive education laws, growing up disabled in southern Africa meant a mainstream education was never guaranteed. In fact, a 2017 United Nations report revealed that even today, 90 percent of disabled children in developing countries never see the inside of a classroom.

But Ndopu said his mom is a “fearless warrior” who knocked on “every door” until finally he was accepted to a small elementary school on the outskirts of his hometown.

Ndopu has so far outlived his prognosis by more than two decades, and last year he became the first African with a disability to graduate from Britain’s prestigious University of Oxford. The disability-rights activist, who admits he has a weakness for lipstick and fashion, said he is “a living manifestation of possibility.”

Now Ndopu, whose disease has left him unable to walk, has set himself a new “audacious” goal: to become the first person with a disability to go to space.

Backed by the United Nations, he hopes to deliver “the speech of [his] life,” championing disability rights from a space shuttle to the UN’s New York headquarters this December.

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, a South African lawmaker and the executive director of UN Women, told NBC News if Ndopu attains his goal, it would be “a powerful symbol to demonstrate that people with disabilities can break barriers.”

“By reaching space,” she added, “it clearly demonstrates that determined disabled people, in an enabling environment, can excel like anyone else.”

Continue onto NBC News to read the complete article.

5 Reasons to Consider a Simple Implant to Treat Chronic Back Pain

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nurse in office

The vast majority of adults know what it’s like to experience back pain. In fact, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), around 80 percent of adults will experience back pain at some point in their life.

But for most people, that pain doesn’t last long and goes away on its own. About 20 percent of those who experience acute back pain will go on to have chronic back pain, which the NIH classifies as pain that lasts for at least 12 weeks, and even after the initial injury or underlying cause of the acute pain has been treated. The good news for those who are living with chronic low back pain is that there is an effective, simple implant procedure that is bringing people relief within only three weeks.

“We’ve helped many people to experience a greater quality of life through the implant procedure,” explains Dr. Akash Bajaj, board-certified anesthesiologist, pain interventionist and medical director at Remedy Spine & Pain Solutions in Marina Del Rey, Calif. “People are surprised at how simple the procedure is and how much relief it brought them after recovery. The only regret they have is not having it done sooner.”

Those suffering from chronic pain tend to have higher rates of depression and a lower, diminished quality of life. They are often not able to engage in the activities they would like to, because they are so burdened with the pain. In fact, a study published in the Journal of Pain Research shared the findings of research done on how chronic pain impacts people and their social environment. Researchers reported that chronic pain seriously affects the patient’s daily activities and quality of life, as well as having significant consequences for the patient’s families, and even causes deterioration in the quality of life of those close to them.

Most people with chronic pain search for solutions and try many different things in order to find some relief. Millions turn to taking opioids or other drugs, which can have harmful side effects and lead to dangerous addictions. A new implant procedure is giving people relief and helping them avoid taking drugs to help address the pain.

Here are 5 reasons why more people are considering a simple implant procedure to treat their chronic back pain:

  1. Minimally invasive.The implant surgery is minimally invasive, which means small incisions are made in order to perform the procedure. This means there is a decreased risk for complication, there’s reduced scarring, and it’s more affordable.
  2. Time invested.Most people think that having a minimally invasive surgical procedure would require a lot of time. This one takes only one hour to complete, which most people are comfortable with.
  3. Recovery time.With a recovery time of only around 24 hours, people are able to go back to their normal routines within a day. That means they won’t have to take off a lot of work or avoid engaging in their duties for long.
  4. Benefits.The full benefits of the implant surgery are realized in about three weeks. Those who have the surgery experience full back pain relief within that time, giving them the ability to engage in more activities.
  5. Improved quality of life.Once people experience the benefits that the implant surgery brings, they are able to have a better quality of life. They can enjoy more activities and are better able to enjoy relaxing.

“People see me as a pain expert and doctor, but really what I am is someone who gives people their quality of life back,” adds Dr. Bajaj. “It’s a great day to know that someone will live a better quality of life and be able to enjoy their days because of a procedure I did. That makes my own life even better.”

Dr. Bajaj has found success with a new minimally invasive technique that relieves pressure on the spine and nerves and is largely replacing the more invasive options. Unlike the older back surgery options, the new procedure doesn’t take as long to perform, doesn’t require hospitalization, and offers a quick recovery and healing time.
Dr. Akash Bajaj is an award-winning surgeon and highly regarded pain management specialist who has earned the highly coveted Super Doctors honor. In addition to helping people with back pain, he provides pain solutions for those with neck pain, knee pain, shoulder pain, ankle and foot pain, and more. For more information on services provided or to book an appointment, visit their site at: remedypainsolutions.com.

About Remedy Spine & Pain Solutions
Founded and run by award-winning surgeon and pain management expert Dr. Akash Bajaj, the center is located in Marina Del Rey, Calif. They provide advanced solutions for those who suffer from all types of chronic pain. They also offer a minimally invasive, highly effective implant surgery for those with chronic back pain. Remedy Spine & Pain Solutions has won numerous awards, including multiple times winning Super Doctors award and the Best of Marina Del Rey award. For more information on services provided, visit their site at: remedypainsolutions.com.

# # #

Sources:

Journal of Pain Research. A review of chronic pain impact on patients… 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4935027/

National Institutes of Health. Low back pain fact sheet. https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Fact-Sheets/Low-Back-Pain-Fact-Sheet

Resources for Women with Disabilities Who Own Businesses

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By Michelle Herrera Mulligan

For women with disabilities, entrepreneurship offers a dynamic opportunity to break through barriers. In the corporate world, women with disabilities face a high unemployment rate and other challenges with employers who can be less than accommodating. But, as the Disability Network reports, the good news is that for the 27 million women with disabilities in the United States, being SELF MADE helps create a promising future.

For SELF MADE women, flexible schedules and custom careers are par for the course. And in the past few years, more programs have launched that offer loans, mentorship, and support. Check out our list of business resources for women with disabilities below.

Resources for Funding
What’s a great business idea without funding? Just another great idea! Don’t let your business dreams fall by the wayside for lack of funding. Below you’ll find information on funding specifically for disabled entrepreneurs. For more funding leads, please visit our “ALL WOMEN” section.

Accion
Provides small business loans to businesses that have a hard time gaining capital, such as small businesses owned by disabled persons. bit.ly/1Qx9k50

Abilities Fund
Offers business development training, referrals to funding and other financial assistance options, and more support designed to help people with disabilities succeed. abilitiesfund.org

Kaleidoscope Investments
This financial institution pledges a commitment to helping entrepreneurs with disabilities gain capital for their businesses. kaleidoscopeinvestments.com

American Association of People with Disabilities
The largest nonprofit for all people with disabilities, this organization fights for economic and political empowerment for people with disabilities. aapd.com

State Assistive Technology Loan Programs
Services vary state by state, but this organization offers a range of financial assistance including low-interest loans to buy assistive technology that helps provide access to educational, employment and independent-living opportunities. bit.ly/1Suwc7m

CouponChief.com
While this isn’t a fund-raising resource per se, it is a great way for women with disabilities to save funds. couponchief.com/guides/savings_guide_for_those_with_disability

Resources For Training
Women with disabilities face unique challenges in entrepreneurship but these challenges do not have to keep you from your startup dream. Below are more business resources for women with disabilities that specialize in training and development to help entrepreneurs with disabilities achieve their dreams of owning a business.

Community Options
Operating in 10 states, this organization helps people with disabilities find housing, employment opportunities, and other support services. comop.org

Disabled Businesspersons Associations
These groups offer entrepreneur education courses specifically for people with disabilities. disabledbusiness.org

Disability.Gov
An online database of resources and links to assistance for entrepreneurs-in-training with disabilities. disability.gov

Job Accommodation Network (Jan Network)
This network connects entrepreneurs with disabilities to other people in their field and provides technical assistance and mentoring programs for entrepreneurs with disabilities. careersbeyonddisability.com

Hadley Forsythe Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Offers free online training courses that prepare its blind and visually impaired students to become entrepreneurs.hadley.edu

Disability.biz
This group offers business plan consulting and coaching for disabled entrepreneurs. disabilitybiz.org

Chicagoland Entrepreneurship Education for People with Disabilities (CREED)
Chicago-based training and development center for entrepreneurs with disabilities.ceedproject.org

WSU Online MBA
This online resource is loaded with all varieties of tools and tips for entrepreneurs with disabilities, from writing a business plan to marketing and pretty much everything in between. onlinemba.wsu.edu

Resources For Networking

When it comes to business resources for women with disabilities, finding like-minded business owners and a close network of friends is a great way to get jump-started on your journey to success. Here are business resources for women with disabilities that focus on networking.

American Association for People With Disabilities
The largest nonprofit cross-disability member organization in the United States, this organization helps people with disabilities find independence and political power in the United States. aapd.com

Global Network for Entrepreneurs with Disabilities
A networking and public advocacy group offering real life stories, resources and networking opportunities for people with disabilities. entrepreneurswithdisabilities.org

International Network of Women With Disabilities
A blog that catalogs women’s groups around the world and offers links to different organizations. inwwd.wordpress.com/network

The Mighty
A moving blog that shares inspirational stories of people with disabilities overcoming obstacles and creating new opportunities for their lives. themighty.com

National Organization on Disability
An organization that raises awareness and creates employment and entrepreneurial opportunities for the community. nod.org

Source: becomingselfmade.com

For online: Becomingselfmade.com

 

How Xbox Adaptive Controller Will Make Gaming More Accessible

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xbox adaptive controller

On Wednesday night, Microsoft unveiled its new Xbox Adaptive Controller for the Xbox One console, aimed at making gaming more accessible for those with disabilities and mobility limitations as part of their Gaming for Everyone initiative.

The device allows for individual customization through a series of peripheral attachments that allow gamers to cater the controls to their own specific comfort.

For many, the current Xbox controller design (and those of other consoles’ controllers like Nintendo’s Switch and Sony’s Playstation 4) presents a challenge to use as it was not designed for individuals with mobility impairments. The Adaptive Controller is a foot-long rectangular unit with a d-pad, menu and home buttons, the Xbox home icon button and two additional large black buttons that can be mapped to any function.

On its back are a series of jacks for input devices and various peripheral accessories, each of which can be mapped to a specific button, trigger or function on the Xbox controller.

“Everyone knew this was a product that Microsoft should make,” Bryce Johnson, inclusive lead for product research and accessibility for Xbox, told Heat Vision.

The original inspiration for the Adaptive Controller came during 2015’s Microsoft One-Week Hackathon, an event where employees develop new ideas and tackle issues with their products. Through a partnership with Warfighter Engaged, an all‐volunteer non-profit that modifies gaming controllers for severely wounded veterans through personally adapted devices, a prototype was put together that would eventually become the Adaptive Controller.

“We had been doing our own stuff for a couple of years before that, making custom adaptive items for combat veterans, and it was kind of a challenge for even the most basic changes, requiring basically taking a controller apart,” Warfighter Engaged founder Ken Jones said. “Microsoft was thinking along the same lines. It was really just perfect timing.”

As development on the project went on, Microsoft began working with other foundations aimed at making gaming more accessible such as AbleGamers, SpecialEffect, the Cerebral Palsy Foundation and Craig Hospital, a Denver-area rehabilitation center for spinal cord and brain injuries.

While third-party manufacturers have created more accessible peripheral controllers in the past, Microsoft is the first of the major gaming publishers to make a first-party offering.

“I think we’re always open to exploring new things,” Johnson said of Microsoft developing their own peripherals for the Adaptive Controller. “Right now, I think the challenge is that there is a super large ecosystem of devices that we intentionally supported as part of the Xbox Adaptive Controller, and we want people to go out and find that vast array of toggles, buttons, etc. and have those work with that device.”

Continue onto The Hollywood Reporter to read the complete article.

Assessing and Treating Adult ADHD

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ADHD

Adults diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) say that having ADHD significantly impacts their ability to focus at work, as well as their responsibilities at home and their relationships. These findings were according to a national survey including more than 1,000 adults across the United States diagnosed with the condition.

ADHD is thought to affect about nine million adults in the United States, and research on the life span of the condition notes the disorder can impair academic, social and occupational functioning, and is often associated with academic underachievement, conduct problems, underemployment, motor vehicle safety and difficulties with personal relationships.

It is a universal condition with a strong biological and hereditary predisposition that presents itself similarly across the world. Research confirms that Latino/Hispanic children with the disorder present a neurocognitive, educational, social and clinical impairment profile similar to that reported among Anglo American children with the disorder. However, in spite of this similarity, the cultural background of a child has been shown to significantly influence the expression of ADHD, the meaning given to these behaviors, the level of tolerance toward them and the disposition to seek treatment.

Understanding the influence of culture is especially relevant for Latino/Hispanic individuals with ADHD, since there is evidence that they are not properly identified and treated.

Language

Latinos differ considerably in their proficiency of the English language. Understanding language barriers is essential to avoiding serious diagnostic and assessment errors in using ADHD rating scales, questionnaires and other tests in English.

Parents of Latino/Hispanic children with ADHD that lack English proficiency and literacy can have difficulty participating in activities such as attending parent-teacher conferences, helping with homework, seeking services for their child and participating in other orientation and educational activities.

Adult ADHD Survey Findings

In a study conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of McNeil Pediatrics™, some of the key survey findings included a variety of participant perspectives, including:

  • Most adults with ADHD agree that having the condition strongly affects their performance in multiple areas of their lives, including:

—Their responsibilities at home (65 percent)

—Their relationships with family and friends (57 percent)

—Their ability to succeed at work (56 percent of those employed)

—Up to half (50 percent) of those employed worry ADHD symptoms affect opportunities for promotion, and the majority feel they have to work harder (65 percent) and/or longer (47 percent) than their co-workers to accomplish similar work.

  • Three-quarters of respondents said their ADHD symptoms strongly affect their ability to stay on task at work (75 percent), while others listed challenges such as:

—Concentrating on what others were saying (70 percent)

—Wrapping up projects (61 percent)

—Following through on tasks (61 percent)

—Sitting still in meetings (60 percent)

—Organizing projects (59 percent)

Just as their needs differ, adults with ADHD report divergent goals in managing ADHD symptoms. In selecting their top three goals for managing the condition, half cited being able to finish projects and tasks (51 percent), and getting their household more organized (51 percent). Other goals included:

  • Feeling less irritable and upset (38 percent)
  • Getting personal finances more organized (28 percent)
  • Improving personal relationships (26 percent)
  • Feeling calmer and to feel less need to always be moving (22 percent)
  • Getting along better with others in social situations (20 percent)
  • Gaining control of their ADHD symptoms (36 percent) and feeling satisfied with their ability to handle stress (58 percent)
  • Not feeling like a failure because their symptoms are not under control (54 percent)
  • Not getting depressed thinking about how hard ADHD is to deal with (37 percent)

Adults with ADHD who participated in the survey also reported utilizing a variety of techniques to help manage their symptoms. Four out of five have used visual reminders, such as post-it notes, to help manage their ADHD symptoms. Those in the survey also reported:

  • Taking prescription medication (82 percent)
  • Listening to music (75 percent)
  • Using a planner or organizer (71 percent)
  • Exercising (69 percent)

Sources: add.org; adapted and reprinted from Attention Magazine, published by CHADD, the National Resource on ADHD, help4adhd.org

This Latina Is Using Her Own Experience With Blindness To Bring About Change In The Workforce

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minorities in business

Over the course of her career, Kathy Martinez has worked with the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, served under two administrations, and led Wells Fargo’s Disability and Accessibility strategy — when she was just starting her career, her counselor at the California Department of Rehabilitation believed that her career aspirations would not extend past working at a lock factory, all because she was blind.

“My counselor at the California Department of Rehabilitation had minimal expectations for people with disabilities and tended to offer low-levels jobs with no hope for growth,” explains Martinez. “Although his expectations for me were low, I had people in my life who knew I could do more, and were behind me every step of the way while I pursued my degree.”

While it took Martinez 13 years to graduate from college, the later start in her career has not prevented her from making an impact where it matters most to her — ensuring that those living with disabilities are not discounted.

“My passion is to help create a society and work environment where people with all abilities are able to obtain an education, secure a good job, buy a house, and be successful,” shares Martinez. “This includes building a society that is physically and digitally accessible, and help change attitudes about the capabilities of people with disabilities and our desire to contribute to our communities and corporations.”

Martinez’s own career has helped moved the needle forward in how those with disabilities are both treated and see themselves in the workforce. She has made it a point to both champion inclusivity within companies, while not erasing that humanity and dignity should be prevalent values in a company culture, regardless of the employee.

“My focus is on delivering an experience that recognizes disability as a natural part of the human condition and helping people with disabilities fully engage with the company to succeed financially,” shares Martinez. “With a more accessible workplace, more people with disabilities will be on the payroll rather than rely on benefits and, ultimately, increase their capacity to be productive members of their communities.”

Below Martinez shares further thoughts on how companies should be expanding their cultures to champion those with disabilities, what advice she has for Latinas, and her biggest lesson learned.

Vivian Nunez: What are your goals in changing how those with disabilities are able to access career opportunities?

Kathy Martinez: When I was growing up I never saw people with disabilities who worked at banks unless they were in entry-level jobs. Today financial institutions, like Wells Fargo, are hiring people with disabilities at all levels. I never imagined I would have the job title of senior vice president at Wells Forgo or Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy. And now that I have attained those titles, I want other people, such as Latinos and people with disabilities, to know that they can achieve their professional goals, including the position of CEO.

One of my key goals is to ensure that more people with disabilities are at all levels of the career ladder. That is why was passionate in helping develop and roll out Wells Fargo’s Diverse Leaders Program for People with Diverse Abilities. This unique three-day program enables team members, who identify as individuals with a disability, understand, and embrace their strengths, overcome challenges, and learn how their differences help them add value as leaders on the Wells Fargo team.

Another goal is to get more people to serve as a mentor and mentee to others with disabilities. I serve as a mentor for people of all abilities inside and outside of the company, and continue to learn what it means to be a team member of choice so that I can share that information with the Latino and disabilities communities.

Nunez: What role did you play in the Obama administration?

Martinez: I consider disability an issue that is important to both political parties. From 2009 – 2015 I served as the Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy.

I also worked for President George W. Bush’s administration for seven years,    serving as a member of the National Council on Disability and as a member of the U.S. Department of State Advisory Committee on Disability and Foreign Policy.

Nunez: What advice do you have for Latinas who are navigating both a disability and building lasting careers?

Martinez: Find a mentor and set high expectations and goals for yourself. I have had mentors with and without disabilities, men, women, and people of all ethnicities and backgrounds, and have learned something from every one of them.

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

Don’t let mobility challenges hold back your loved ones – fight back!

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iwalkfree

May is National Mobility Awareness Month, and a great time to take stock in this important topic that the majority of us take for granted, at least until we are presented with a mobility challenge and are able to see just how important our mobility is. Mobility issues affect more people than most realize. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that over 18 million adults find it difficult to walk a quarter mile, and that roughly 40 million adults have some physical functioning difficulty. For those who may know others who have mobility challenges, there are things they can do to help with the challenges, as well as reduce the risks that they may become worse.

A device that is helping people to be more mobile is the iWALK2.0. The iWALK2.0 is hands-free, pain-free alternative to using crutches and leg scooters.  It’s easy to learn to use, intuitive, and safe. From the knee up, the leg is doing the same walking motion that comes naturally to it. The device is essentially a temporary lower leg, which gives people their independence and mobility back as they recover from an injury. The device helps to make it possible for people to engage in many of their normal routine activities, such as walking the dog, grocery shopping, and walking up or down stairs.

“Mobility is something that is essential and when we have it in a diminished capacity it can affect both our body and our mind,” explains Brad Hunter, the innovator of iWALK2.0 and the chief executive officer of the company, iWALKFree, Inc.  “The goal is to help make limited mobility more tolerable and find ways to still be able to enjoy life. That’s what we have done with creating the iWALK2.0.”

Here are 5 ways to help someone in your life who may have limited mobility:

  1. Focus on accessibility. It’s easy to overlook those devices that may make life simpler for those with mobility challenges, but they can be a tremendous help. Take stock in the devices and items that the person has and determine if there are better ones that can be offered up to help them with mobility. For example, many people have found that the iWALK2.0 medical device provides much easier mobility for those with lower leg injuries.
  2. Offer your help. Many people with limited mobility, whether temporary or long term, are too proud to ask someone for help. By offering it they will be more likely to take the assistance that they need.
  3. Keep them social. Mobility challenges can weight on one’s mind and mood, making it important that they stay social. Find them social groups that would interest them or support groups, where they can share, talk, and have a few laughs.
  4. Help them exercise. Limited mobility doesn’t mean there are no ways they can exercise. Today, there are people who do chair yoga, chair exercises, swimming workouts, and more. Find something they can do to keep as active as possible and keep them doing it, as it will help their mental and physical health.
  5. Offer healthy foods. Having mobility challenges may make it more difficult for them to exercise, which could help lead to weight gain. Providing them with healthy meals and snacks can go a long way toward keeping the weight down and their health in good condition.

“Making just some small changes can provide big results for someone with mobility challenges,” adds Hunter.  “When they have your support, the best devices, and are keeping their mind and body as engaged as possible, they will do much better.”

Clinical research, the results of which are on the company website, shows that patients using the iWALK2.0 heal faster, and have a higher sense of satisfaction and a higher rate of compliance. The iWALK2.0 sells for $149 and is available online and through select retailers. Some insurance companies may cover the cost of the device. The device can be used with a cast or boot, and comes with a limited warranty. For more information on the iWALK2.0, visit the site at: iwalk-free.com. To see a video of the iWALK2.0 in action, visit: iWalkFree.

About iWALKFree

The iWALK2.0 is a hands-free knee crutch, made by iWALKFree, Inc.  It’s a mobility device used instead of traditional crutches and knee scooters. It offers more comfort and independence, with the hands and arms remaining free. The device offers people a functional and independent lifestyle as they are recovering from many common lower leg injuries. For more information on the iWALK2.0, visit the site at: iwalk-free.com.

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