Teacher Carries Student With Spina Bifida On His Back So She Won’t Miss Out on Class Field Trip

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Teacher carries disabled student in a specialty made backpack

A Kentucky teacher is being hailed for going above and beyond the call of duty to bring a disabled student along on their field trip.

Ryan Neighbor’s fourth grade class at Tully Elementary School had been preparing to go on a field trip to Falls of the Ohio State Park last week—and she was heartbroken over the prospect of missing out on the fun.

Since the 10-year-old youngster was born with spina bifida, she has relied on a wheelchair her entire life. This is not the first time that Ryan’s disability has prevented her from attending field trips in the past, so her mother Shelly King began “preparing for an ‘alternate field trip day.’”

Thankfully, she didn’t have to. Upon hearing about Ryan’s plight, elementary school teacher Jim Freeman contacted the family “out of the blue” and offered to carry Ryan around on his back for the entire field trip.

True to his word, Freeman used a specialized backpack to carry the 55-pound youngster on his back across the park terrain—and Ryan was thrilled.

Since her mother shared photos of Freeman and Ryan on the field trip, they have been shared thousands of times.

Continue on to the Good News Network to read the complete article.

Netflix Series About Teen On The Spectrum Poised For New Season

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Atypical stars stting in a car having a talk

A television show centering on the coming-of-age experiences of a teenager with autism is set to return. Netflix says that it will debut a third season of “Atypical” next month.

The series stars Keir Gilchrist as Sam, a 19-year-old on the spectrum who’s seeking love and independence.

“In season three, Sam starts his first year of college and is faced with the challenge of figuring out what success means for him, while adjusting to the changes that come with growing up,” Netflix said.

Gilchrist does not have autism in real life. But, the show did feature five characters played by actors with the developmental disorder during the last season.

In addition, Netflix previously said it has consulted with experts including a special education professor and a self-advocate to ensure that the half-hour show offers a realistic portrayal of life on the spectrum.

Continue on to Disability Scoop to read the complete article.

National Disability Employment Awareness Month 2019

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The Right Talent, Right Now official poster for NDEAM with their website and pictures of people with disabilities at work

Reflecting a commitment to a robust and competitive American labor force, the 2019 National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) theme is “The Right Talent, Right Now.”

The 2019 NDEAM theme emphasizes the essential role people with disabilities play in America’s economic success, especially in an era when historically low unemployment and global competition are creating a high demand for skilled talent.

Observed each October, NDEAM celebrates the contributions of workers with disabilities and educates about the value of a workforce inclusive of their skills and talents.

NDEAM dates back to 1945, when Congress declared the first week in October “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.” Learn more about the origins and evolution of NDEAM and other important events in disability employment history in their timeline.

What can YOU do to celebrate NDEAM? There are lots of ways! To get started, see the 31 Days of NDEAM slideshow :

The Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) offers a range of resources to help organizations plan NDEAM observances, including not only the official poster in English and Spanish, but also sample articles, a press release, proclamation and social media content.

For information, visit the Department of Labor here.

Superfest Disability Film Festival 2019

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Man with prosthetic hand holds up sign for Superfest Disability Film Festival

With over 160 film submissions, only fifteen films were selected by our panel of judges, all of whom are prominent members of the disability community. Among the films you will enjoy this weekend there are short and full-length features including documentaries, comedies and daring dramas. In fact there are even five thought-provoking animated shorts to be screened. The films are global, from Iran, Germany, Australia, India as well as from right here in the Bay Area.

But Superfest is more than a film festival, it’s an annual community gathering and celebration. Thank you for joining us to experience the power of film, people telling their own story with creativity, beauty and emotion. Film is one of the most nuanced ways that important subjects can be brought to the forefront.

This is the 33rd festival celebrating under-told stories of people with disabilities. For the past seven years San Francisco State’s Longmore Institute on Disability and LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired have partnered to jointly coordinate and expand Superfest. In these years Superfest has expanded, not only growing the two day festival each fall, but bringing Superfest’s films and philosophy to locations across the Bay Area, country and globe.

Superfest Disability Film Festival

-Saturday, October 12 – Freight & Salvage (2020 Addison St. in Berkeley) at noon
-Sunday October 13 – Contemporary Jewish Museum (736 Mission St. in San Francisco) screenings at 11 am and 2 pm

SUPERFEST PRODUCERS
THE PAUL K. LONGMORE INSTITUTE ON DISABILITY at San Francisco State University envisions a society where everyone believes the world is better because of disabled people. We study and showcase disabled people’s experiences to revolutionize social views. Through public education, scholarship, and cultural events, the Longmore Institute shares disability history and theory, promotes critical thinking, and builds a broader community. Learn more: longmoreinstitute.sfsu.edu

LIGHTHOUSE FOR THE BLIND AND VISUALLY IMPAIRED provides deep learning, skills training, advocacy and community for blind individuals in California and around the world. Founded in 1902 in San Francisco, the LightHouse is one of the largest and most comprehensive blindness organizations in North America, with programs for blind and low vision people of all ages. LightHouse is a proud champion of Superfest. Through Superfest LightHouse continues the traditions of the rich history of Bay Area disability groups in promoting the rights and interests of disabled people.

Smart Insole Can Double As Lifesaving Technology For Diabetic Patients

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Bonbouton SmartInsole Graphene

Stevens Institute of Technology has signed an exclusive licensing agreement with Bonbouton, giving the cutting-edge health and technology company the right to use and further develop a graphene sensing system that detects early signs of foot ulcers before they form so people living with diabetes can access preventative healthcare and confidently manage their health.

The smart insole, Bonbouton’s first product, can be inserted into a sneaker or dress shoe to passively monitor the foot health of a person living with diabetes. The data are then sent to a companion app which can be accessed by the patient and shared with their healthcare provider, who can determine if intervention or treatment is needed.

“I was inspired by two things—a desire to help those with diabetes and a desire to commercialize the technology,” said Bonbouton Founder and CEO Linh Le, who developed and patented the core graphene technology while pursuing a doctorate in chemical engineering at Stevens. Le came up with the idea to create an insole that could help prevent diabetic ulcers after several personal incidents lead him to pursue preventative healthcare.

Complications from diabetes can make it difficult for patients to monitor their foot heath. Chronically high levels of blood glucose can impair blood vessels and cause nerve damage. Patients can experience a lot of pain, but can also lose feeling in their feet. Diabetes-related damage to blood vessels and nerves can lead to hard-to-treat infections such as ulcers. Ulcers that don’t heal can cause severe damage to tissues and bone and may require amputation of a toe, foot or part of a leg.

Bonbouton’s smart insoles sense the skin’s temperature, pressure and other foot health-related data, which can alert a patient and his or her healthcare provider when an infection is about to take hold. This simplifies patient self-monitoring and reduces the frequency of doctor visits, which can ultimately lead to a higher quality of life.

Bonbouton, which is based in New York City, is currently partnering with global insurance company MetLife to determine how its smart insoles will be able to reduce healthcare costs for diabetic foot amputations. In 2018, Bonbouton also announced its technical development agreement with Gore, a company well known for revolutionizing the outerwear industry with GORE-TEX® fabric, to explore ways to integrate Bonbouton’s graphene sensors in comfortable, wearable fabric for digital health applications, including disease management, athletic performance and everyday use.

“We are interested in developing smart clothing for preventative health, and embrace the possibilities of how our graphene technology can be used in other industries,” said Le. “I am excited to realize the full potential of Bonbouton, taking a technology that I developed as a graduate student at Stevens and growing it into a product that will bring seamless preventative care to patients and save billions of dollars in healthcare costs.”

Stevens is a shareholder of Bonbouton, legally known as FlexTraPower, and co-owns two of the seven patents filed by the company.

About Stevens Institute of Technology

Stevens Institute of Technology is a premier, private research university situated in Hoboken, New Jersey overlooking the Manhattan skyline. Since our founding in 1870, technological innovation has always been the hallmark and legacy of Stevens’ education and research. Within the university’s three schools and one college, 6,900 undergraduate and graduate students collaborate closely with faculty in an interdisciplinary, student-centric, entrepreneurial environment. Academic and research programs spanning business, computing, engineering, the arts and other fields actively advance the frontiers of science and leverage technology to confront our most pressing global challenges. The university is consistently ranked among the nation’s elite for return on tuition investment, career services and the mid-career salaries of alumni.

About Bonbouton
Bonbouton is a technology company that ensures people stay healthy and puts the power back into their hands (and feet). The Bonbouton smart insole detects early signs of foot ulcers before they form so people living with diabetes can access preventative healthcare and confidently manage their health. The insoles contain graphene sheets which possess the properties of high mechanical strength and flexibility, making it possible to create very flexible and thin sensors. The insoles are comfortable to wear, simple to use, and can help prevent the approximately 200 diabetes-related amputations that occur in the United States daily, which costs our healthcare system $15B per annum.

Blind engineer builds a SMART cane that has Google Maps, Bluetooth, and a sensory device

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Blind engineer poses with his smart cane and a group of people smiling and pointing to him

In today’s age of advanced technology, a lot of devices, gadgets, and programs are built to make our lives easier and more convenient.

While the more recent innovations were designed for entertainment, some companies are taking technology to the next level by incorporating a high level of help and hopefully, to make a difference to the lives of people who need it the most.

Unfortunately I cannot name a single city as a perfectly disabled-friendly city that is why we are trying to provide this independency for visually impaired people” shared Ceylan on CNN.

The WeWALK smart cane was born from a visually impaired engineer named Kursat Ceylan. He is also the CEO and co-founder of a non-profit called the Young Guru Academy (YGA), the one responsible for making WeWALK come to life. As someone who faces the daily challenges of being blind, Kursat Ceylan knew the limitations of the current technology that people like him have to make do of. Knowing this, he created the WeWALK in hopes of changing the lives of the blind.

This innovative cane includes a built-in speakers, voice assistance, Google Maps, a Bluetooth system that makes syncing to other devices possible, and high-end sensors that alerts the user through vibrations when above chest level obstacles are within proximity—something a regular cane cannot provide.

In these days we are talking about flying cars, but these people have been using just a plain stick,” he explained to CNN. “As a blind person, when I am at the Metro station I don’t know which is my exit… I don’t know which bus is approaching… which stores are around me. That kind of information can be provided with the WeWalk.”

Continue on to Positive Outlooks to read the complete article.

North Carolina Deputy Lauded For Buying Disabled Woman’s Gas

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Officer pumping gas into a car

A North Carolina sheriff’s deputy is receiving praise on social media for buying a tank of gasoline for a disabled woman who didn’t have enough money to fill up her car.

The Winston-Salem Journal reports Forsyth County sheriff’s deputy Chris Owen said he was checking on security at a Sheetz convenience store in Winston-Salem around 3 a.m. Sunday when a woman asked him to pump her gas.

Owen, a seven-year veteran of the department, said the woman gave him $8. But he figured that wasn’t enough to get her where she needed to go, so he put the nearly $39 purchase on his credit card and gave the woman her money back.

By Tuesday afternoon, Owen’s story had more than 8,000 reactions and 1,200 shares on Facebook.

Information from: Winston-Salem Journal, journalnow.com

Marilee Talkington stars alongside Jason Momoa in Apple TV+’s upcoming futuristic, post-apocalyptic drama “See”

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Apple TV Movie poster with images of Marilee Talkington and Jason Momoa with the word "SEE" printed on it

A lifelong advocate and a voice for other actors that are also visually impaired, Marilee Talkington will be lighting up television sets alongside Jason Momoa (“Game of Thrones,” AQUAMAN) in Apple TV+’s upcoming futuristic, post-apocalyptic drama “See,” premiering Friday, November 1st.

Legally blind herself, Marilee will be playing more than just a role in a show, but a pivotal role in the fight for authentic casting and representation.

From the producers of the PLANET OF THE APES Trilogy, written by Steven Knight (“Peaky Blinders”) and directed by Francis Lawrence (THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE and MOCKINGJAY PARTS 1 & 2), “See,” tells the story of a future where a virus has wiped out most of mankind, leaving the survivors blinded. Marilee stars as “Souter Bax,” an emotionally complicated character, authentically representing the blind community. In addition to Jason Momoa, the show also stars Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning actress, Alfre Woodard (12 YEARS A SLAVE, CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR) and Archie Madekwe (MIDSOMMAR).

Marilee also spends her time as a consultant for TV shows, films, theater, university, and conservatories for authentic casting and representation on stage and screen. She has even created an acting program for authentically blind/low vision actors and is heavily involved in SAG-AFTRA Performers with Disabilities Committee, as well as 50/50 by 2020. Marilee even went viral in 2017, being featured for HuffPost and the Observer, when at a panel for the World Science Festival, a female panelist kept getting cut off by the male moderator, Marilee jumped in from the crowd asking him to “Let her speak, please!” Passionate about her activism, she is fighting for those around her and coming after her.

Born with cone-rod dystrophy, a retinal disease she had inherited from her mother, Marilee had no central vision, and learned how to not just survive, but thrive. Heavily involved in basketball throughout high school, even earning herself a spot on the CA All-Star team, Marilee could not play in college as her sight continued to deteriorate. While studying Psychology, she took an acting class on a whim and fell in love immediately. Moving from Los Angeles to San Francisco, she worked hard, honing her craft before attending the American Conservatory Theater, graduating with honors as one of just a handful of legally blind actors in the country with an MFA in Acting.

WATCH THE TRAILER!

Following school, Marilee took to writing and directing groundbreaking plays, including “Sticky Time,” a show that took place around the audience, rather than the usual format, and “Truce,” (shown in San Francisco, New York and the BBC), in which Marilee played 22 different characters. ”Truce’s” cutting edge aspect was its set design as it paralleled her own vision loss so that audience members could viscerally experience what it might be like for her. In all her productions, Marilee aims to break apart the normative theatrical viewing experience and create highly visceral and experimental story-telling moments. She innovates new aesthetics to integrate her specific physical experience of the world into each show.

Since then, she has starred in NBC’s “New Amsterdam,” CBS’ “NCIS,” and countless theater productions, both Off-Broadway and Regional. In the past 25 years, she has originated over 60 characters including lead roles in world premieres by Daniel Handler (a.k.a. Lemony Snicket) and Lauren Gunderson (most produced playwright in the US, 2017).

Photo Credit: David Noles

Kodi Lee, Singing Phenom Who Is Blind and Has Autism, 22, Wins America’s Got Talent Season 14

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Kodi Lee performs on America's Got Talent

Kodi Lee is the winner of America’s Got Talent!

After weeks of competition, Lee has been crowned the champion of season 14. On Wednesday’s episode, the star bested fellow finalists opera singer Emanne Beasha, violinist Tyler Butler-Figueroa, dance troupe Light Balance Kids, singer Benicio Bryant and Ndlovu Youth Choir.

Quartet Voices of Service (fifth place), dance troupe V. Unbeatable (fourth place), comedian Ryan Niemiller (third place), and the Detroit Youth Choir (second place) made it into the top 5.

In addition to the honor of being the winner, Lee takes home $1 million and headlining shows from Nov. 7-10 at Paris Las Vegas Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.

Lee immediately captivated the audience and judges with his viral audition during which he blew everyone away with his rendition of Donny Hathaway’s “A Song for You.” Gabrielle Union was so impressed that she gifted the 22-year-old singer with her Golden Buzzer.

Along with his unforgettable vocal talents, Lee’s life story has made him a fan favorite. The Lake Elsinore, California, native was born with optic nerve hypoplasia and diagnosed with autism at age 4. His mother Tina accompanied him on stage for the entire competition.

“He’s making people believe in something they didn’t even know is attainable. He’s magic,” Union previously told PEOPLE of Lee.

Continue on to People to read the complete article.

A young woman, a wheelchair and the fight to take her place at Stanford

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Sylvia Colt-Lacayo outside in her wheelchair wearing a floral dress

Sylvia Colt-Lacayo is 18, fresh-faced and hopeful, as she beams confidence from her power wheelchair. Her long dark hair is soft and carefully tended, and her wide brown eyes are bright. A degenerative neuromuscular disease, similar to muscular dystrophy, has left her with weak, underdeveloped muscles throughout her body, and her legs are unable to support any weight. Each time she needs to get in or out of her wheelchair — to leave bed in the morning, use the bathroom, take a shower, change clothes — she needs assistance.

Throughout her young life, Sylvia has been told her disability didn’t need to hold her back. And she took those words to heart. She graduated near the top of her high school class in Oakland with a 4.25 GPA. She was co-captain of the mock trial team at school, served on the youth advisory board of the local children’s hospital, interned in the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office and is a budding filmmaker. In April, Sylvia learned she had been admitted to Stanford University with a full scholarship for tuition, room and board.

To move out of her family home and into a dorm, her doctor determined she would need at least 18 hours of personal assistance each day to help with the daily tasks typically done by her mother. As she began to research options, Sylvia came to a startling conclusion: Despite the scholarship, her family wouldn’t be able to afford the caregiver hours she would need to live on campus. And she would learn in coming months that she was largely on her own to figure it out.

Over the past several decades, medical advances have allowed young people with disabilities to live longer, healthier lives. But when it comes time to leave home, they run up against a patchwork system of government insurance options that often leave them scrambling to piece together the coverage they need to survive.

“On paper, I did everything right,” said Sylvia. “You get into this school, they give you a full ride; but you still can’t go, even though you’ve worked so hard, because you can’t get out of bed in the morning. It’s mind-boggling.”

People with serious disabilities face a frustrating conundrum: Federal and state insurance will pay for them to live in a nursing home, but if they want to live in the community, home-based care is often underfunded.

Over the past several decades, medical advances have allowed young people with disabilities to live longer, healthier lives. But when it comes time to leave home, they run up against a patchwork system of government insurance options that often leave them scrambling to piece together the coverage they need to survive.

Continue to Mercury News to read the complete article.

Comcast Partners With The American Association Of People With Disabilities To Help Close The Digital Divide

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woman suing computer with internet access smiling

At the Newseum recently, Comcast announced a series of initiatives designed to help address the digital divide for low-income Americans with disabilities through the Internet Essentials program, the nation’s largest and most comprehensive Internet adoption program for low-income households. 

The largest of these was a grant from the Company to the American Association for People with Disabilities (AAPD).  The Comcast grant will help fund the creation and delivery of digital literacy training programs specifically designed to address the needs of low-income people in the disability community.  Once developed, the programs will be delivered at 10 AAPD affiliates across the country, as well as shared online for anyone to access.

According to Pew Research Center, 23 percent of people with disabilities say they never go online and 57 percent say they do not have a home broadband subscription.

The grant follows last month’s announcement that, since 2011, the Internet Essentials program has connected more than eight million low-income Americans to the Internet at home, including nearly 210,000 in the greater Washington, D.C. metro area, 90 percent of whom were not connected to the Internet at home until they signed up through Internet Essentials.  In addition, the company made the most significant eligibility change in the program’s history, expanding eligibility to all low-income households residing in the Comcast service area, including all low-income seniors, adults, and people with disabilities.

“The Internet is an incredible resource so long as you have the skills and the tools to use it,” said David L. Cohen, Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer at Comcast Corporation.  “By partnering with AAPD and working with the disability community, we want to address and break down the barriers to broadband adoption that are unique to this population.  The first step is to address digital literacy issues and facilitate digital skills development.  So, we’re going to create relevant training programs and then fund their delivery at locations across the country.”

“Having an Internet connection at home is absolutely vital for low-income people living with disabilities,” said Maria Town, President and CEO of the American Association for People with Disabilities.  “I commend Comcast for extending its Internet Essentials program to people with disabilities because it will help us advance our mission to provide equal access, integration, and full inclusion for Americans with disabilities.”

In addition, Comcast held events across the Washington, DC area to raise awareness of the digital divide with special guests Paralympic Gold Medalist and Purple Heart Recipient Rico Roman, and Olympic Gold Medalists from the U.S. Women’s Hockey Team Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson and Monique Lamoureux-Morando.

As part of the day’s events, the Company held a digital literacy assembly at Walker Jones Elementary, where Cohen surprised 50 sixth graders with free laptops and six months of complimentary Internet Essentials service.  The company also hosted a digital inclusion event at the Hattie Holmes Senior Wellness Center where 100 seniors were given free laptops to help them stay connected to family and friends in the 21st century way of life.  Lastly, Comcast held a Youth Hockey Clinic with Roman, Lamoureux-Davidson, and Lamoureux-Morando, where the Company surprised 25 students from Cornerstone Schools in Ward 7 with free laptops to help further their education.  In partnership with Dell Technologies, the companies provided new equipment to Friends of Fort Dupont Ice Arena for its computer lab.

Internet Essentials has an integrated, wrap-around design that addresses each of the three major barriers to broadband adoption that research has identified.  These include: a lack of digital literacy skills, lack of awareness of the relevance of the Internet to everyday life needs, and fear of the Internet; the lack of a computer; and cost of internet service.  The program is structured as a partnership between Comcast and tens of thousands of school districts, libraries, elected officials, and nonprofit community partners.

Source: Comcast