Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Dangling participles get ready to be undangled! (A review of the Ginger Software spelling and grammar checker)

By Luke Hsieh, AT Advocate at the Community Access Center in Riverside

I first saw this software at the CSUN International Technology & Persons with Disabilities Conference in San Diego. I was so impressed by the demonstration that as soon as I got back to Riverside, I purchased a copy of my own and ran it on a 96 page document (the novel that I happen to be working on).

Let’s just say, it was a vast improvement over traditional grammar and spelling checkers and for $70.00, it is an affordable vast improvement. Any lover of this language will tell you that English is very analytical; it’s notorious for its many grammatical exceptions and prepositional oddities. This means that the vast improvement on traditional grammar checkers still requires human tweaking here and there. So don't expect Ginger to perform a miracle, the 96 page document still took a little less than three hours to correct.

Furthermore, its heavy dependence on the Internet server means it may not function properly without an Internet connection. Ginger Software will also be a hard sale when trying to convince an I.T department that may see it as making the system vulnerable. Other than that, I think the software has much potential.

Who knows? Maybe in the near future, Ginger will even correct my subject-verb agreement, dangling participles, and split infinitives. Since I’m not too paranoid about Internet security, I consider my $70.00 well spent.

Check it out by clicking here.

Have you tried Ginger Software yet? What did you think? Has anyone tried another type of software that is similar? Let us know in the comments section below…

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

It's the ADA's 20th Anniversary!

By Mazuri Colley, CFILC's Information & Assistance Advocate

The Americans with Disabilities Act turns twenty this year! This milestone means that there is a whole generation of youth in the United States of America who never experienced life before the ADA. Every year and with every victory for the disability community the task of making our country a better place for new generations becomes more of a reality than a dream deferred.  The signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990 was the culmination of decades and decades of advocacy powered by the disability rights movement. 

By ensuring equal opportunity and access for people with disabilities in areas of employment, transportation, public institutions, commercial establishments and governmental entities the ADA changed the social and cultural landscape of our communities. Finally cities and towns across the country were altered and policies were changed in order to accommodate all members of the community.

Every aspect of life requires participation on the part of every individual. Before the Americans with Disabilities Act people with disabilities were discouraged from participating in life due to lack of an inclusive infrastructure in our laws. No one was required to think outside of their own experience when creating policy, which was an unacceptable reality. This is why representation of people with disabilities by people with disabilities is so important and is why there is an ADA.

On July 26th, 2010 the Americans with Disabilities Act will celebrate twenty years of changing our country for the better.  There are still many barriers that need to be broken, voices that need to be heard and more victories to come!

Join CFILC in supporting, Senate Joint Resolution No. 35, Introduced by Senator Corbett.  “This measure would commemorate the 20th anniversary of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, encourage all Californians to recognize and celebrate the important historical significance of the act, and reaffirm the Legislature’s commitment to, and urge Congress to reaffirm its commitment to, the civil and constitutional rights of Americans with disabilities.” Read the resolution in its entirety here: Senate Joint Resolution No. 35

Be Informed:
The U.S. Department of Justice provides information about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) through a toll-free ADA Information Line. For general ADA information, answers to specific technical questions, free ADA materials, or information about filing a complaint, call: 800 - 514 - 0301 (voice) 800 - 514 - 0383 (TTY), or log on to
Celebrate! :

Check out CFILC’s event calendar for ADA events in your area:
CFILC's ADA Event Calendar

Click these links for more ADA events!
DOR's ADA Event Calendar
American Association of People with Disabilities ADA Event Calendar

Please join us this July as we celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the ADA in Sacramento on July 26, 2010! For additional information please go to

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

To Reuse AT start by reusing OPI

Written by Allan Friedman, CFILC's Technologies Manager. 
California is a unique state (although, I’m sure every other state considers themselves unique too).  A diverse population spread over a large geographic area with several large urban areas and many remote rural communities poses a number of challenges for service providers intent on inclusion and reaching all citizens with AT needs.  But those challenges are not unique to California.  AT programs across the country face similar challenges to providing services and meeting the needs of their communities. 

When it comes to expanding the reuse of AT, the secret to meeting those challenges is to reuse OPI; other people’s ideas.  We need not re-invent the wheel.  Rather, we only have to look at successful programs and learn from them.  For instance, Utah, Wyoming and many other western states have populations spread over vast distances.  But AT programs in these states have found creative solutions to the problem and expense of shipping devices.   Partnerships with private companies, libraries and others that move goods around their states have helped these programs control their costs and get devices to consumers.

The Create Program makes extensive use of volunteers to refurbish and distribute power wheelchairs, scooters and pediatric equipment.  Georgia’s Star Network brings several organizations together to share resources and collaborate to provide reused AT to consumers. Get AT Stuff is a collaboration of several New England states that make used AT available.  Another New England collaboration enables school districts to share AT.

There is nothing truly unique in the challenges we face. We have only to look to the rest of the country for inspiration and ideas on how to meet our challenges. It’s time for California to step up, show that we do have what it takes to expand our reuse programs and make used AT a significant part of our efforts to meet the needs of our disabled and aging population.

Have you experienced AT Reuse programs in other states? If so, please share your experiences below.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Take Action 4 Accommodations

By Princess Rehman, Youth Advocate, CFILC
Did you know that many community college students with disabilities around California are not getting their accommodation needs met? They registered with Disability Students Services. They followed the proper protocol. Yet many students are having their requested accommodations delayed. Some students are not receiving their accommodations at all. Instead, they receive a letter from their college stating that they will not be receiving accommodations due to budget cuts.

The California Community College system received cuts to disability services that provide accommodations to students who need them to access higher education. Although system-wide the community colleges have experienced average cuts of about 2.5%, they have cut disability services more than 40%, according to the California Association for Postsecondary Education and Disability.
As a result, accommodations are being delayed up to 7 weeks, and in some cases, denied altogether. Mobility assistance, readers, note takers, large print books, audio books, sign language interpreters, captioning, campus transport services and other essential accommodations are being delayed or denied, putting the academic careers of students with disabilities at risk.
The Take Action 4 Accommodations Campaign is working to make sure that students with disabilities are getting their reasonable accommodations met in California’s community colleges. Also, we are working to make students with disabilities aware that they can make a complaint if their accommodation needs aren’t being met. By law, students with disabilities are entitled to have their reasonable accommodation needs met after they have registered with disability student services.

Many students with disabilities are receiving letters in the mail stating that they aren’t able to get their reasonable accommodation needs met due to state budget cuts. If you or someone you know is not getting their reasonable accommodation needs met at their community college, and they have registered with Disability Student Services, you can file a complaint simply by clicking here.

Have you or anyone you know been denied accommodations at a community college recently? How was it resolved? Or was it?