Friday, August 27, 2010

The AT Network salutes the members of YO! Disabled and Proud for their ACR 162 Victory!

written by Mazuri Colley, CFILC's Information & Assistance Advocate
Congratulations to all of the youth organizers who worked tirelessly on the Disability History Week Campaign. The bill passed unanimously by both the Assembly and Senate because of all of their hard work and dedication! The bill was introduced by Assembly Member Beall.
The 2nd week of October is now California's official Disability History Week!
The significance of this victory will benefit our state for years and years to come; it will begin the process of infusing the importance of Disability History in our schools and other institutions. Soon people of all ages and abilities will be more aware of the many important contributions made by people with disabilities. The youth that were mobilized through this campaign have done great work. Hopefully their dedication and professionalism will inspire advocates of all ages to take action.
Read the bill here: ACR 162
Learn more about: YO! Disabled and Proud
Learn more about the: Youth Leadership Forum
Please join us in congratulating the members of YO! Disabled and Proud on their accomplishment!

What disability history resources have you encourntered that you would like to share with the community? Please share resource names and/or links in the comments section below.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Enjoy the wonderful world of Disney through Assistive Technology!

Summer time is a great time to take trips and visit new places. Read one Disney aficionado’s review below of the assistive technology features at Disney World. Disney is planning to unveil the same audio description technology at Disneyland Resort in California in 2011.
Sample Disney’s new theme park outdoor audio description assistive technology
by Ricky Brigante
On June 27, Walt Disney World began a new advancement in assistive technology allowing guests with visual disabilities to “see” theme park surroundings by way of highly-detailed audio description.
The descriptions are delivered to guests by way of Disney’s patented handheld device (pictured above), which has been in use at the Walt Disney World resort for several years. In addition to providing closed captioning and assistive listening for rides, shows, and other attractions, the device is now being updated to include the important and interesting information about outdoor theme park areas.
Read the rest of the article here Inside the MAGIC!
Have any of you visited a theme park that used Assistive Technology to make the park accessible? If so which ones? What was your experience?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Reuse and Recycle: Expanding Access to Assistive Technology

Written by Allan Friedman, CFILC's Technologies Manager

In a time of severe budget cuts that imperil the ability of Californians with disabilities to live independently, the reuse and recycling of assistive technology is a moral imperative. Reuse is one of the most effective ways to enable more low income individuals to acquire devices that empower them to participate in their communities and retain their independence.

California is the birthplace of the Independent Living Movement. We’ve always been on the leading edge of public accommodations and integration of people with disabilities in our communities. But we lag behind many other states when it comes to the reuse of assistive devices. Successful reuse programs flourish and thrive in places such as Salt Lake City, Austin and Atlanta. Georgia, Kansas and several other states have shown that AT, which is often customized to meet the unique needs of users, can be successfully refurbished and reused without compromise for the individuals who receive the devices.

So why not here? While there are several programs that refurbish computers and get them to low income users with disabilities, only a handful of organizations in California accept donations of communication devices, durable medical equipment and other AT for reuse. True, there are challenges to running a reuse program, including issues around liability, sanitation and space. But programs in other states have met those challenges, and California can too.

We need to increase the supply of used AT. Not only will more reuse programs increase access to AT for people with disabilities who would otherwise go without, reuse programs can also be an important part of our state's disaster preparations; a resource that can be readily tapped in an emergency to replace devices left behind by people affected by our all too common forest fires, earthquakes and other natural disasters.

It will take action by the whole disability community to take reuse to the next level. We need a coordinated system that encourages reuse, provides a means for consumers to donate devices, as well as support for organizations willing to take on the challenges of turning one person’s trash into another person’s saving grace.

Are you interested in learning more about AT reuse? If you want more information about plans for AT reuse in California, or if you want to be part of the planning process, please let us know in the comments section below.

This article reflects the opinion of the author.