[Video Link] From H. Hoover at Distriction blog, a little anecdote about a cool interaction that Stephon, a young man who was "born deaf and justifiably proud," had with the president at a recent event:
Stephon stood just a few feet away from Barack Obama. The president, busy shaking hands, looked right at him. “It was like he was waiting for me to say something,” he said later.
So the 26-year-old Prince George’s Community College student took his cue and spoke to President Obama in his first language: American Sign Language. “I am proud of you,” Stephon signed. The president, almost involuntary, instinctively, immediately signed back.
“Thank you,” Obama replied.
The whole story is a nice little read.
This has nothing to do with the neat story behind this video, but I've always wondered: is being bald and steely-eyed a requirement for Secret Service agents? I mean, is it in the job description? And if they're not already bald, do they make them shave their heads? Because it seems like every one I've seen in real life, and in this video, is a steely-eyed bald guy. Someone please get back to me on that. Thanks.
(via Steve Silberman) Read the rest
I've known of James Hathaway and the NGO he co-founded, Clear Path International, for many years. They do great work to help civilian survivors of landmine blasts, people who now have disabling injuries, live better lives through medical care, education, improved mobility and access, and other forms of support. Clear Path originally focused their efforts in Vietnam, but have since expended into other conflict/post-conflict zones including Cambodia and Afghanistan.
Afghanistan, James says, is “by far our largest project,” with work ongoing in 19 of the country's 34 provinces.
James returned to Kabul to work with the CPI team there, just as the security situation abruptly escalated to a new level of crisis.
James and crew are spending a lot of time with bulletproof vests on, in safe rooms, and surrounded by very heavily armed security guys. James is blogging daily, and explains why he's there and what they're trying to accomplish in the following account, republished here in entirety with permission.
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[Video Link] sloanchurman says: "I was born deaf and 8 weeks ago I received a hearing implant. This is the video of them turning it on and me hearing myself for the first time :)" (Via Sean Bonner) Read the rest
Tommy Edison, the blind film critic last featured here demonstrating an "accessible" ATM explains the inaccessible design of US money and the difficulties it presents for people with vision problems.
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This video shows the process that a blind man goes through in using a particular ATM for the first time; the machine he selects is one that has a ton of assistive features that are aimed at making use easier for visually impaired people, but it's apparent that this guy -- blind film critic Tommy Edison -- has to go through a heroic effort to get through a technological ritual that most of us take for granted. I also felt for Edison in light of the advice to shield your PIN from potential hidden cameras, a task that seems to add transcendent difficulty to an already tricky task.
Blind Man vs. The ATM - Tommy Edison
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Ed sez, "With a retired Bozeman engineer's 70th birthday approaching, disabled gamers say they fear there will be no one to replace Yankelevitz
, who has sustained quadriplegic game controllers for 30 years almost entirely by himself. The retired aerospace engineer hand makes the controllers with custom parts in his Montana workshop, offering them at a price just enough to cover parts." Read the rest
A doctor reports that his developmentally disabled son was harrassed and traumatized by the Detroit airport TSA screeners, who wanted to investigate the "puffiness" caused by his adult diaper. They man, who is described as having the mental capacity of a two-year-old, also lost a beloved toy (a plastic hammer) because the TSA claimed it could be used as a weapon. The family was on their way to Walt Disney World.
"You have got to be kidding me. I honestly felt that those two agents did not know what they were doing," Mandy told us.
Dr. David Mandy: Special Needs Son Harassed by TSA at Detroit Metropolitan Airport
Dr. Mandy claimed they asked Drew to place his feet on the yellow shoe line, something he didn't understand. They proceeded to pat his pants down, questioning the padding which was his adult diapers. When the agents asked Drew to take his hand and rub the front and back of his pants so they could swab it for explosives, his dad stepped in and tried to explain that Drew was mentally challenged.
"They said, 'Please, sir, we know what we're doing,'" Mandy said.
The TSA agents saw Drew holding a six-inch plastic hammer.
"My son carries his ball and his hammer for security. He goes everywhere with (them)," said Mandy.
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A 26-year-old man in Austria who lost the use of his right hand in a motorcycle accident ten years ago has decided to undergo "elective amputation," after which he will be fitted with a bionic hand controlled by nerve signals from his own arm. German prosthetics company Otto Bock makes the bionic hands; BBC News reports the prosthetics can "pinch and grasp in response to signals from the brain that are picked up by two sensors placed over the skin above nerves in the forearm."
This will be the second such surgery performed by Professor Oskar Aszmann, of Vienna.
A 24-year-old Austrian man named Patrick was the first patient in the world to choose to have his hand amputated, again by Professor Aszmann, and a bionic replacement fitted. He lost the use of his left hand after being electrocuted at work.
, and there's video of the bionic hand in use by Patrick, here
(Thanks, Marguerite // update: also found on Make today, via Phil Torrone)
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Jamie Love sez, "On April 15, 2011, the European Union participated in informal negotiations on the World Intellectual Property Organization treaty for the blind. The meeting was held at the US Embassy in Geneva. The EU proposed a 3 to 5 year delay in even considering a treaty. The US position is reportedly quite similar to the EU. The URL links to the text of the EU proposal, and provides additional context."
The combination of the soft recommendation and the monitoring and delay in action advocated by the European Commission and the USPTO is widely seen as a face saving way for the Obama Administration and the European Commission to kill the treaty, or at least to delay it so long its proponents can no longer maintain their advocacy efforts.
15 April European Union proposal: 3 to 5 year delay in negotiations on a copyright treaty for blind persons Read the rest
At this point, advocates of the treaty will be looking for help in changing the positions of the European Commission and the US government -- the two groups now blocking action on the treaty.
* Within the US government, the USPTO head David Kappos and the White House have dug in against the treaty.
* In Europe, the European Parliament has held two large public meetings on the treaty, sent several letters and questions to the Commission, and plans a vote on the treaty proposal.
* The US Congress has yet to show any support for the treaty.
1887's Appleton's illustrated hand-book of American winter resorts for tourists and invalids
is a whirlwind tour through all the places you can go and die of consumption in the America of yesteryear:
Out west in scenic California the land and times were much, much different than today. Appleton's guide takes visitors on a botanical tour of "cacti of the most curious sort," and it also explains why I saw so many Eucalyptus trees while living there in 2000-2004: "But the people plant a little shoot of the Australian blue-gum (Eucalyptus globulus), and in two years it becomes a shade-tree 15 or 20 feet high." Fashion and comfort were obviously not commodities in the near horizon if Eucalyptus shade-providing trees were the amenities.
Appleton's illustrated hand-book of American winter resorts for tourists and invalids
Be sure to head north to Santa Barbara and buy a horse for only $20 so you can tour the beaches. Cure your rheumatism at the Hot Sulphur Springs with sulphureted hydrogen, iron, aluminum, and potash. The dry air the guides associated with relief for consumptive illnesses was and is the same dry air responsible for horrendous wildfires that we see in the news every summer.
(Thanks, ButIfAndThat, via Submitterator!
Travel posters for comic book cities - Boing Boing
Michael Palin's travel books online for free - Boing Boing Read the rest
A Maine legislator has introduced a bill to make it legal for people with one arm to own and carry a switchblade (because you need two hands to operate a regular clasp knife). I actually quite like this idea, but think it's too narrow, I'd have worded it more like "lawful for people who, due to infirmity, disability or amputation find it difficult to operate a clasp-knife..." so people with arthritis, one-side paralysis, etc, could have and use that most useful of tools: a knife.
The Lewiston Sun-Journal reports that Rep. Sheryl Briggs has introduced LD 126, entitled "An Act to Allow a Person With One Arm to Possess Certain Kinds of Prohibited Knives." The bill would provide that Maine's "dangerous knives" law, which restricts switchblades, would not apply to the "possession or transportation of a knife . . . by an individual who has only one arm." This exception would allow single-armed Americans (male or female, of course, but probably male) the same access to folding knives that is enjoyed by the fully limbed.
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According to the report, Briggs was asked to propose the legislation by a one-armed lawyer in her district, who pointed out that current law "utterly fails to accommodate" people who cannot use two hands to open a folding knife and who, I guess, have a need for that kind of knife rather than a regular one with a sheath or something for safety reasons. He also pointed out that a similar exception is already part of federal law.
Jeff Daly's sister Molly was sent away when he was six and she was three; all though his childhood, Jeff pestered his parents with the question, "Where's Molly?" He only got non-answers like "She's not here anymore" in response. 47 years later, after his parents' death, he tracked down Molly -- who was developmentally disabled and institutionalized in accordance with the common medical advice of the day -- and discovered his parents' secret heartbreak.
And at first, Molly's father visited often, until Fairview's staff advised him to stop, because Molly would become inconsolable after he left.
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But Jack Daly found an ingenious way to continue seeing his daughter . . .
"He did go back," said Jeff. "It was only a way that I suppose my dad could have figured out. He went back as a clown."
Jeff's father - an executive at the Bumblbee Seafood Company - founded a troupe called the Astoria Clowns in 1957, the very year Molly was sent away. The troupe traveled around Oregon, marching in parades and entertaining children wherever they went.
And they visited Fairview.
"He was able to have this relationship with Molly in disguise: Painted face, an orange wig, wearing the clown outfit," said Jeff. "But he was able to still get back there and see his daughter."
By profession, Jeff was a freelance cameraman who sometimes worked for CBS News. Now, he's made a film called "Where's Molly" about the search for his sister. He hopes his story encourages others to reunite with siblings lost because of the wisdom of earlier times.
Here's a Kickstarter project from the EyeWriter team -- EyeWriter being a set of free/open libraries and hardware for doing eye-tracking for input and robotic control. EyeWriter has its inception with TEMPT1, a famous Los Angeles graffiti artist who was paralyzed by ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) but who has been able to go on working thanks to the EyeWriter tools.
Now TEMPT1 and the EyeWriter folks are raising $15,000 to "create a new collection of original TEMPT1 artwork and merchandise using the EyeWriter 2.0 software, robotic technology, traditional print-making techniques, as well as his community of friends, fans and peers. Supporting this campaign will not only allow TEMPT1 to continue to make art and express his ideas, but it will give him a chance to again become a professional artist, independently support himself and his family, pay for his medical bills, and make a contribution to the contemporary art world."
TEMPT1 & EyeWriter = Art by Eyes
Patrick O'Brien's ALS documentary and fundraiser
Beer in a feeding tube poster, for a good cause
Brain disease seen in art
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Video link. There's a whole genre of ASL (American Sign Language) music videos, exemplified perfectly by smokin' hot hottie-hot Jennie Batchelder in her fantastic interpretation of Michael Franti's "The Sound of Sunshine." Michael's had ASL interpreters at his shows for 11 years, so come check out more at the Power to the Peaceful Festival in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park on September 10-12, 2010. Read the rest
"We were exploring how we could sense it with a cane, sense it with our fingers, sense it with our feet... There is this great palette of textures...All of a sudden, it starts to engage your brain in a different way."—Christopher Downey, an architect who lost his sight in 2007
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Susannah Breslin is a guestblogger on Boing Boing. She is a freelance journalist who blogs at Reverse Cowgirl and is at work on a novel set in the adult movie industry.
(Self-portrait by Sarah May Scott)
At Mayday Productions, blogger Sarah Scott writes about life with a spinal cord injury. Her writing is searingly honest, brutally revealing, and wickedly self-aware.
The after is where it really gets grand, gets epic, gets to where one memoir could never be enough. Truly epic shit doesn't start to go down until the very moment you decide to start living again, to start crawling your way back into the light and out of the darkness. I know enough to know now I'll never fully leave the darkness completely, but the reprieves at this point seem to be enough to keep me going for now. sometimes. But no one wants to hear about the after, because it doesn't arc as much as it shakes and shudders in fits and spurts until eventually you recognize an ersatz normalcy has filled the void you left somewhere in all the fallout.
I interviewed her for Boing Boing about life in a wheelchair, if she considers herself a cyborg, and her plans on becoming a female Hardiman.
SB: Tell me your story.
SS: The story that everyone wants to know from the start is why I use a wheelchair. I was 29, one minute racing my road bike, and the next "tits up in a ditch" and a paraplegic. Read the rest