Posts Tagged Disabilities

[WEB SITE] Resource Highlights – Our Lives: Safe and Strong Program Toolkit

Resource Highlights

Our Lives: Safe and Strong Program Toolkit


The recently-completed NIDILRR-funded project Internet Safe and Strong Program for Men with Disabilities released the Our Lives: Safe and Strong Program Toolkit, a multi-component program intended to help create safer lives for people with disabilities or health conditions that affect their day-to-day lives. The program features web-based tools for abuse awareness, support, and safety planning, with separate sections for male- and female-identified individuals. It includes stories from people with diverse disabilities and identities speaking about their own abuse experiences, with videos in English and American Sign Language (ASL). The program can be used by individuals or by organizations, such as Centers for Independent Living, to train their staff and support their members with disabilities in living safer lives.


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[WEB SITE] What Disabilities Can Result From a TBI? – BrainLine

What Disabilities Can Result From a TBI?

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
¿Qué discapacidades pueden resultar de un traumatismo cerebral?


Disabilities resulting from a TBI depend upon the severity of the injury, the location of the injury, and the age and general health of the patient. Some common disabilities include problems with cognition (thinking, memory, and reasoning), sensory processing (sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell), communication (expression and understanding), and behavior or mental health (depression, anxiety, personality changes, aggression, acting out, and social inappropriateness).

Within days to weeks of the head injury approximately 40 percent of TBI patients develop a host of troubling symptoms collectively called postconcussion syndrome (PCS). A patient need not have suffered a concussion or loss of consciousness to develop the syndrome and many patients with mild TBI suffer from PCS. Symptoms include headache, dizziness, vertigo (a sensation of spinning around or of objects spinning around the patient), memory problems, trouble concentrating, sleeping problems, restlessness, irritability, apathy, depression, and anxiety. These symptoms may last for a few weeks after the head injury. The syndrome is more prevalent in patients who had psychiatric symptoms, such as depression or anxiety, before the injury. Treatment for PCS may include medicines for pain and psychiatric conditions, and psychotherapy and occupational therapy todevelop coping skills.

Cognition is a term used to describe the processes of thinking, reasoning, problem solving, information processing, and memory. Most patients with severe TBI, if they recover consciousness, suffer from cognitive disabilities, including the loss of many higher level mental skills. The most common cognitive impairment among severely head-injured patients is memory loss, characterized by some loss of specific memories and the partial inability to form or store new ones. Some of these patients may experience post-traumatic amnesia (PTA), either anterograde or retrograde. Anterograde PTA is impaired memory of events that happened after the TBI, while retrograde PTA is impaired memory of events that happened before the TBI.

Many patients with mild to moderate head injuries who experience cognitive deficits become easily confused or distracted and have problems with concentration and attention. They also have problems with higher level, so-called executive functions, such as planning, organizing, abstract reasoning, problem solving, and making judgments, which may make it difficult to resume pre-injury work-related activities. Recovery from cognitive deficits is greatest within the first 6 months after the injury and more gradual after that.

Patients with moderate to severe TBI have more problems with cognitive deficits than patients with mild TBI, but a history of several mild TBIs may have an additive effect, causing cognitive deficits equal to a moderate or severe injury.

Many TBI patients have sensory problems, especially problems with vision. Patients may not be able to register what they are seeing or may be slow to recognize objects. Also, TBI patients often have difficulty with hand-eye coordination. Because of this, TBI patients may be prone to bumping into or dropping objects, or may seem generally unsteady. TBI patients may have difficulty driving a car, working complex machinery, or playing sports. Other sensory deficits may include problems with hearing, smell, taste, or touch. Some TBI patients develop tinnitus, a ringing or roaring in the ears. A person with damage to the part of the brain that processes taste or smell may develop a persistent bitter taste in the mouth or perceive a persistent noxious smell. Damage to the part of the brain that controls the sense of touch may cause a TBI patient to develop persistent skin tingling, itching, or pain. Although rare, these conditions are hard to treat.

Language and communication problems are common disabilities in TBI patients. Some may experience aphasia, defined as difficulty with understanding and producing spoken and written language; others may have difficulty with the more subtle aspects of communication, such as body language and emotional, non-verbal signals.

In non-fluent aphasia, also called Broca’s aphasia or motor aphasia, TBI patients often have trouble recalling words and speaking in complete sentences. They may speak in broken phrases and pause frequently. Most patients are aware of these deficits and may become extremely frustrated. Patients with fluent aphasia, also called Wernicke’s aphasia or sensory aphasia, display little meaning in their speech, even though they speak in complete sentences and use correct grammar. Instead, they speak in flowing gibberish, drawing out their sentences with non-essential and invented words. Many patients with fluent aphasia are unaware that they make little sense and become angry with others for not understanding them. Patients with global aphasia have extensive damage to the portions of the brain responsible for language and often suffer severe communication disabilities.

TBI patients may have problems with spoken language if the part of the brain that controls speech muscles is damaged. In this disorder, called dysarthria, the patient can think of the appropriate language, but cannot easily speak the words because they are unable to use the muscles needed to form the words and produce the sounds. Speech is often slow, slurred, and garbled. Some may have problems with intonation or inflection, called prosodic dysfunction. An important aspect of speech, inflection conveys emotional meaning and is necessary for certain aspects of language, such as irony. These language deficits can lead to miscommunication, confusion, and frustration for the patient as well as those interacting with him or her.

Most TBI patients have emotional or behavioral problems that fit under the broad category of psychiatric health. Family members of TBI patients often find that personality changes and behavioral problems are the most difficult disabilities to handle. Psychiatric problems that may surface include depression, apathy, anxiety, irritability, anger, paranoia, confusion, frustration, agitation, insomnia or other sleep problems, and mood swings. Problem behaviors may include aggression and violence, impulsivity, disinhibition, acting out, noncompliance, social inappropriateness, emotional outbursts, childish behavior, impaired self-control, impaired self awareness, inability to take responsibility or accept criticism, egocentrism, inappropriate sexual activity, and alcohol or drug abuse/addiction. Some patients’ personality problems may be so severe that they are diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, a psychiatric condition characterized by many of the problems mentioned above. Sometimes TBI patients suffer from developmental stagnation, meaning that they fail to mature emotionally, socially, or psychologically after the trauma. This is a serious problem for children and young adults who suffer from a TBI. Attitudes and behaviors that are appropriate for a child or teenager become inappropriate in adulthood. Many TBI patients who show psychiatric or behavioral problems can be helped with medication and psychotherapy.


via What Disabilities Can Result From a TBI? | BrainLine

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[BLOG POST] 10 Tips for Including People with Disabilities in Your Holiday Celebrations

10 Tips for Including People with Disabilities in your Holiday Celebration. Graphic of a tree in the snow. Logo for RespectAbility

With the holiday season upon us, it is easy to hold a gathering where all guests — with and without disabilities — feel welcomed, respected and have fun. All it takes is some planning. With some help from Alie Kriofske Mainella, an expert on working for inclusion of people with disabilities, here are some tips to ensure your gatherings are inclusive, thoughtful and welcoming to all.

1. Dont be afraid to include guests with disabilities.

People with disabilities have their disabilities 24/7, so they know how to create work-arounds so that they feel comfortable. If you know someone has a disability, use a simple strategy — ask the person what they need to be fully included. All too often people with disabilities are not invited to events, or dont go because they feel embarrassed to put someone out” by asking for a simple thing that will help them attend. By telling them that their presence is valued, and asking what they need, you will build a new level of trust and affection. For example, one of the biggest things that aging loved ones need is a ride. So help them find a carpool or send an accessible taxi or Uber to pick them up and return them home.

2. Include a line about disability accommodations in the RSVP.

Keep in mind that not all disabilities are visible, so you may not know that someone you want to include in your event has a disability. By including a line about accommodations and food allergies in the invitations RSVP, you are already letting guests know that everyone welcome. If its an event for children, parents can tell you, right off the bat, what their childs needs might be to attend the event. They will be happy you asked! We want everyone to have fun — please let us know if you have dietary restrictions or require other special accommodations to attend! We will do our best to meet special needs.” Note that you arent promising to meet all needs — if you cant find a sign language interpreter at the last minute or there is another issue, for example, you will be able to let your guest know in advance. Indeed, they may be able to help you find a solution!

3. Physical Access.

Most public places are accessible. However, because religious institutions are exempted from the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), many of them are not fully accessible. Thus, if your event is at a venue that is not physically accessible to all, move it to a place that is. That can mean a different room in a place of worship, or to a completely different place. Venues should have a ground level entrance or ramp, an elevator if its upstairs, and accessible bathrooms. Most public places (hotels, restaurants, bowling, video games, pools, bounce houses, etc.) are usually equipped for people with disabilities. Just check with the venue ahead of time. If you have someone coming who uses a wheelchair, you should also put the food on a table that is low enough for them so they can take it themselves.

4. Special Diets and Fragrance Allergies.

Anyone can have allergies, celiac disease or lactose intolerance, but you wont know unless you ask on the invitation RSVP. Making sure there is an option for cake, snacks, treats and other food for these guests can be as simple as picking up a gluten free cupcake to serve with the cake. It is thoughtful to have refreshments that everyone can enjoy and/or asking people not to wear perfume to your event.

5. Addressing attitude.

Kids and adults can be daunted when encountering someone who is different from them. If children are at the event, you can talk to them at the start of the event about kindness and respect for each other and each others differences. A holiday gathering is a great opportunity for kids to learn about one another.

6. Involving parents.

Holiday gatherings can be exhausting for the hosts. Asking a parent or two to volunteer to help out, particularly if its a big group, can lighten the load for the hosts. Parents may feel more comfortable, especially if their child has social anxiety issues, if they are invited to stay or help as an option.

7. Sensory overload awareness.

Holiday gatherings can cause sensory overload for any child or adult. But for a person with autism or a sensory processing disorder, a large gathering can be really overwhelming. Offer opportunities for guests to take a break, perhaps in a quiet room away from the crowd. Some venues may have options for turning down music or minimizing stimulation — and that is useful anywhere there are a lot of kids! Latex allergies (balloons) and chemical sensitivities (use of highly scented cleaners or staff wearing perfumes) are real issues. Solutions: Use alternative mylar balloons. Ask people to not wear strong scents, and choose unscented cleaning products. Avoid flashing lights that can trigger seizures in people with epilepsy.

8. Communication.

If a guest attending the gathering is non-verbal or communicates in other ways such as American Sign Language or a communication board, talk about it with the guests. Installing free Dragon software onto an iPad in advance can enable you to speak with someone who is deaf as it instantly transcribes what you are saying. Having an interpreter can be worth the cost, as all the people can communicate and maybe learn a little sign language! Remember to speak directly to a child or adult whether they are verbal or not.

9. Reading, Cognitive Access and Vision Issues.

Children and adults with cognitive, learning disabilities or vision impairments might not be able to read the menu, instructions for a scavenger hunt or a game score sheet. Pictures and verbal instructions are useful, as well as pairing children with those who can help. Its always great to have an extra pair of reading glasses around if you are inviting seniors. But you can always tell someone who cant see or read what they will need or what to know.

10. Enjoy the gathering!

Dont let inclusion stress you out. If you are reading this list and considering these tips, youre already doing more than most! Stay positive, smile and have a great time!

via 10 Tips for Including People with Disabilities in Your Holiday Celebrations – Respect Ability

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[BLOG POST] For Veterans Day: Research and Resources Supporting Vets with Disabilities and Their Families – NARIC


Each November, we pause to recognize Veterans and honor their service and sacrifice during war and peace. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, almost 5 million veterans are living with a service-connected disability, that is a disability that resulted from disease or injury incurred or aggravated during active service. Another 9 million are over 65 and may have age-related disabilities. These veterans and their families may be at higher risk of unemployment, housing insecurity, and poor health than their peers without disabilities.

Part of NIDILRR-funded research includes topics related to veterans with disabilities and their families, and has investigated issues across health, employment, and community participation, including these current and recently-completed projects:

The Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center: Develop and Evaluate Rehabilitation Technology and Methods for Individuals with Low Vision, Blindness, and Multiple Disabilities includes research to develop and Evaluate Rehabilitation Technology and Methods for Individuals with Low Vision, Blindness, and Multiple Disabilities, including returning veterans who may have vision loss.. Check out the discussion of changing populations, including Veterans, and how to approach and address visual impairments in rehabilitation settings from the RERC’s state of the science conference.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Caregivers of Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom (OIF/OEF) Service Members with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) evaluated the impact of Problem Solving Training, a telehealth-based CBT intervention, for military family caregivers. Learn more about some early results from the project published in a recent Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation article (abstract).

Studying Treatments and Effectiveness of Prosthetic Systems (STEPS): Utilizing a Regional Collaborative Longitudinal Outcomes Database (CLOUD) examined veterans and civilians living with amputation to compare and contrast physical and psychosocial outcomes between the two populations in an effort to link prosthetic and orthotic treatments, devices, and supports to patient outcomes.

Improving Money Management Skills in Veterans with Psychiatric Disabilities evaluated $teps for Achieving Financial Empowerment ($AFE), a pilot-tested, stakeholder informed intervention grounded in principles of psychiatric rehabilitation designed to develop money management skills and informed financial judgment among veterans with psychiatric disabilities. Learn more about results from this trial (abstract).

In addition to these projects, the ADA National Network and its regional centers can assist Veterans with disabilities in understanding their rights under the ADA and other civil rights legislation (PDF). These centers also assist employers in understanding their responsibilities and identifying best practices for recruiting, hiring, and retaining Veterans with disabilities in their workforce. Explore ADA National Network resources for Veterans with disabilities and employers.

Explore more current and completed NIDILRR-funded projects in this area.

We searched our collection of NIDILRR-funded publications and products for Veterans and their families, in addition to those linked above:

The NARIC collection includes more than 240 articles, books, reports, and multimedia items from the grantee community about or for Veterans with disabilities and their families. If you are interested in more research in this area, NARIC’s collection includes more than 1,500 articles, books, and reports produced in the US and internationally.

Outside of the NIDILRR community, there are many resources available to Veterans with disabilities and their families, including:

NARIC’s information specialists are available by phone, email, Facebook, and chat to assist Veterans with disabilities, their families, and other advocates in identifying programs and services in your community.

To Veterans and their families, from all of us at NARIC: Thank you for your service.


via For Veterans Day: Research and Resources Supporting Vets with Disabilities and Their Families | Collection Spotlight from the National Rehabilitation Information Center

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[WEB SITE] Study Sheds Light on ‘Ableism’ Biases Toward People with Disabilities


Biases toward people with disabilities, known as “ableism,” tend to increase with age and over time, but people are less likely to show how they really feel publicly, researchers from Michigan State University suggest.

“Disabilities are a sensitive, uncomfortable topic for many people to talk about. Few are willing to acknowledge a bias toward people with disabilities,” says William Chopik, MSU assistant professor of psychology and senior author of the study, published recently in Journal of Social Issues.

“Because this is so understudied, the goal of our research was to characterize why – and which types of – people hold higher biases against those with disabilities.”

The research included data from 300,000 participants gathered over 13 years. Participants ranged from 18- to 90-years-old, and 15% classified themselves as having a disability.

Authors Jenna Harder, Victor Keller and Chopik used data from Project Implicit, a platform that allows users to learn and measure biases anonymously. The platform defined a disability as “some sort of physical, mental or emotional limitation” and asked a series of questions measuring feelings about people with disabilities.

The researchers also measured how much contact participants had with the disability community using a scale of one to seven, one being “knowing someone” and seven being “having constant contact” with a person with a disability, a media release from Michigan State University explains.

The researchers used the surveys to measure implicit attitudes and explicit bias.

An implicit attitude, Harder explains, are thoughts or feelings that happen automatically, which are hard to control, suppress or regulate. Explicit attitudes, she says, are the things people consciously agree with and are more controllable because it is how people express or portray their opinions about something publicly. One can think through what they are about to say and filter themselves if necessary, she adds.

The researchers suggest that implicit bias from respondents increased over time and with age, meaning that they had less-favorable feelings toward people with disabilities. But, when asking explicitly how much participants preferred people with disabilities to be abled, they shared more positive responses with time and age, meaning that they outwardly portrayed positive opinions about people with disabilities, per the release.

“This is a big mystery because people outwardly say they feel less biased, but in actuality the implicit attitude has been getting stronger as time goes on,” Chopik comments. “It’s not popular to express negative opinions about people with disabilities, so perhaps they feel inclined say nicer things publicly instead. Changes in explicit attitudes do not always lead to changes in implicit prejudice – sometimes becoming more aware of a prejudice might increase implicit prejudice.”

The findings also reveal that women felt less implicit bias, and that people who had contact with the disabled population had lower prejudice.

“Some of our findings related to women align with stereotypes: when you look at how men and women compare on bias, women are more compassionate toward stigmatized groups,” Harder says.

“Gender was one of the most consistent predictors in this study, supporting theories that women are particularly receptive to people who they perceive as needing help.”

Chopik explains that lower prejudice from people who had contact with disabled people was consistent with theories related to interactions with other stigmatized groups.

“As you interact more with a stigmatized group, you can potentially have more positive experiences with them, which changes your attitudes,” he comments. “You start with a certain bias, but over time those biases are challenged and your attitude changes because you have the chance to develop positive associations with the group and see them in a different light.”

Data gathered from disabled participants showed feelings of warmth among their own community and a more positive attitude toward their peers. The more visible a disability – like needing a wheelchair or a walker – the stronger the positive attitude toward the disability community was.

Chopik emphasized the lack of research on ableism and hopes to encourage more participation from academia, the release continues.

“There’s a broader goal of increasing inclusion and reducing prejudice and bias toward people with disabilities,” Chopik concludes. “I think we all want to live in a society where people feel welcome and not be constricted in doing things, and there are plenty of ways to try to change and challenge that by rethinking policies and making our everyday lives more accessible.”

[Source(s): Michigan State University, EurekAlert]


via Study Sheds Light on ‘Ableism’ Biases Toward People with Disabilities – Rehab Managment

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[Abstract] Difficulty Factors for VR Cognitive Rehabilitation Training – Crossing a Virtual Road


Immersive VR environment for the training of safe road crossing decisions.

Relevant Lanes and Traffic Speed have a clear influence on task difficulty.

No clear influence could be found for the Gap Size.

The Number of Vehicles had almost no effect on the perceived task difficulty.

Two neuropsychologists stated that the system is ready for a study on patients.



Patients with cognitive or visual impairments have problems in dealing with complex situations. During the rehabilitation process, it is important to confront the patient with (everyday) tasks that have increasing degrees of difficulty to improve their performance. Immersive virtual reality training offers the potential to create a better transfer to daily life than non-immersive computer training. In cooperation with two neuropsychologists, an immersive virtual environment (VE) was developed in which cognitive training in the form of safe road crossing decisions can be performed. We present the experimental exploration and evaluation of difficulty factors within such a VR-based cognitive rehabilitation program. Four difficulty factors were identified and compared (number of relevant traffic lanes, speed of vehicles, distance between vehicles, and number of vehicles). The combination of these difficulty factors resulted in 36 training scenarios. The impact of the factors on participant performance and subjective perception of scenario difficulty were evaluated with 60 healthy participants to estimate the impact of the four factors to a situation’s difficulty level. For the factors Relevant Lanes and Traffic Speed a clear influence on the perceived task difficulty could be determined. No clear influence could be found for the Gap Size. The Number of Vehicles had almost no effect on the perceived task difficulty. Finally, we asked two experienced neuropsychologists about the applicability of our developed system to patients, and they stated that the system is ready for a study on patients.

via Difficulty Factors for VR Cognitive Rehabilitation Training – Crossing a Virtual Road – ScienceDirect

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[WEB SITE] Virtual reality is helping people with disabilities conquer overwhelming real-life situations – Full Text

In his denim jacket and printed t-shirt, Bede Gow has the cool, quiet disposition of a young man ready to start living an independent life.

But the 18-year-old has never travelled alone on a train.

Navigating public transport can be daunting for people living with an intellectual disability, but soon Mr Gow will be able to tackle the challenges of train travel without stepping foot in a station.


He’s part of an Endeavour Foundation program using virtual reality (VR) to help people living with a disability practise real-life situations.

Through a trial project support and operations manager Andrew Chant has trained 20 people how to use the technology.

He said it was not unusual for his clients to get overwhelmed by simple things, like handling money or catching public transport.

“Some people may have issues around social anxiety or they may not function very well in the community with lots of crowds of people around,” Mr Chant said.

“[This is] a safe, quiet environment where they can experience the task in a simulation before actually doing it in the real world.”


Participants fitted with VR goggles, headphones and a gaming controller listen to tips and information to pass through each phase of the simulation.

If they fail to check in at an information point or do something unsafe, they get bounced back to the beginning.

Mr Chant said Endeavour Foundation was trialling three programs: train safety, pedestrian safety and ATMs and banking.

“A lot of the families of the people we support say, ‘I would not allow my son or daughter to use the train by themselves … they simply do not have the capability to do it themselves’,” he said.

“One of our young people got themselves in a little bit of trouble recently because they didn’t remember to use their go card so they ended up getting a fine for travelling on the train without it.

“This gives them the real-life steps to avoid getting into those sorts of troubles.”


Mr Chant, who has worked in the disability services sector for 16 years, said his initial scepticism of the program disappeared when he saw the difference it made to his clients’ confidence.

“There’s one young lady we work with who had absolutely zero confidence when it came to money,” he said.

“She wanted her disability pension paid into her father’s bank account and preferred [him] to completely manage her finances to the point where she wouldn’t even touch cash.

“We’ve gotten her to a point now where she’s quite comfortable with cash and she’s also talked about the possibility of getting her own bank account in the future.

“From someone to go from fearing something to being open to the idea of exploring this new skill set, that’s really exciting for us.”

Potential to improve social skills

Getting clients confident enough with these tasks to start participating in the workforce is Endeavour Foundation’s next goal.

“When I reflect on our ATM or banking module, there are a lot of peripheral skills our learners can develop: recognising different types of currency denominations, the different types of bank notes, knowing how to type in numbers on the ATM machine,” Mr Chant said.

“If they’re going to be working anywhere in retail or with cash, it’s essential that they have some understanding of the different types of currency they’ll be working with.

“If they get the basics right, then we would like to think that will move them into the sphere of employability.”

If the trials around Queensland go well, Mr Chant said he would like to see more simulations created to help people overcome challenging social situations.

“People who face severe anxiety when talking to others face to face may feel more comfortable talking to people in a digital or simulated environment on the screen,” he said.

“If we can progress in that direction I can see huge benefits for people to develop their social skills and overcome anxieties.”

via Virtual reality is helping people with disabilities conquer overwhelming real-life situations – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

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[BLOG POST] Amazon Echo: A Great Internet of Things (IoT) Device For People With Disabilities – Assistive Technology Blog


photo of amazon echo in a bookshelf
Off and on, you may have heard or read about Internet of Things (IoT). In the coming years, it is supposed to be a new phenomenon (it actually already is) that will make everything much easier and convenient for everyone. But what does it mean? What exactly is it, and how would it help people with disabilities?
Let’s start with the basics – What is Internet of Things? In the simplest of terms, it means that you, as a person, control everything around you (yes, everything!) through the internet. What that also means is that you don’t have to physically access an object to make it do something.
Let’s simplify this a little more further.
Let’s say you have a set of lights in your bedroom – one is a bulb in the ceiling and the other is a bedside lamp. When you go to bed, you physically reach the switch on the wall to turn off the ceiling light, and do something similar with the lamp as well (push a button on it to turn it off). In the morning, when you wake up, you push the button on the lamp again to turn it on, then stumble into the bathroom and look for the light switch, turn it on, and do your business. Everything after that (morning coffee, for example) requires a manual interaction with specific devices also.
With Internet of Things, everything is automated. Before going to bed, you either tell a “smart” device – “turn off all lights”, use an app on your phone, or make a gesture towards a smart device that it understands as a “turn off all lights” signal. When you wake up in the morning, you can have your bedroom lamp and bathroom lights turn on automatically at the same time. Half an hour later, coffee would be ready.
The basic idea here is that everything around you is connected to the Internet – from your lights in the house to your garage door to your car. With voice commands, mobile apps or gestures, you can set up a sequence in which everything you need readies itself without you having to manually interact with them.
Sticking with our example above – after you drink your morning coffee, you ask a device what the weather is like, what the news headlines are for today, and when the next bus is arriving at your nearest bus station. That device will answer all of your questions without you having to open up your other devices (computer, tablet, phone) to find those information.

Makes sense?

There are several companies that have made lots of amazing innovations in the IoT world. One of those innovations is Amazon’s Echo – a little, innocuous looking device that just sits in a corner, but does so many unbelievably powerful things. As a user you can just speak to It and ask it to perform certain actions, and it will do it for you in a jiffy.

What kind of things can it do though?

  1. To begin with, it can tell you the weather and traffic conditions. (“Alexa*, what’s the weather like?”, “Alexa what’s the traffic like?”)
  2. Read Kindle and Audible books to you, and play music for you. (“Alexa, play the Kindle book ‘Be Here Now’”, “Alexa, play ‘The Beatles’)
  3. Look up events and appointments on your calendar and let you know what your day looks like. (“Alexa, what does my day look like?”)
  4. Help you go to the movies by finding the nearest theater and local timings. (“Alexa, where is Deadpool playing?”)
  5. Find local businesses and restaurants. (“Alexa, what time does the nearby pharmacy close?”)
  6. Add items to your shopping list and also re-order previously ordered items from Amazon with just one voice command. (“Alexa, reorder laundry detergent”, “Alexa add coffee filters to my cart”)
  7. Helps you keep track of important tasks. (“Alexa, put ‘file taxes’ to my to-do list”)
  8. Control all lights and other devices around your house. (“Alexa, turn on light 1”, “Alexa, turn off the TV”)
  9. Control your thermostat. (“Alexa, set my bedroom temperature to 68”)
  10. Play games, order an Uber ride, order a pizza from Dominos!
  11. Lots and lots of other things!
*Amazon Echo is always listening for the keyword “Alexa”. If you start a sentence with Alexa, it knows that it is directed towards it (her?).

This video should give you a good understanding of how a person with disabilities can use Echo/Alexa at home.

Automation, in general, is a big victory for the regular consumer in terms of convenience. However, it brings a much bigger convenience and independence factor to people with disabilities, especially anyone who is blind, in a wheelchair, paraplegic, bed ridden because of a spinal cord injury, or doesn’t have good motor skills. It saves them a lot of time and energy by not making them interact with other devices that they may not have skills for or are unable to use them because of various disabilities. The only device they interact with is Echo, through voice, and it provides them with the results and information they are looking for instantly, and thus, saves them a lot of trouble. A person in a wheelchair doesn’t have to try to reach a light switch that’s in an awkward corner of a room, a person with not good motor skills doesn’t have to flip through pages or operate an e-reader to read their books, and a blind person doesn’t need to navigate a website on an electronic device to order a pizza anymore.
Automation through Internet of Things doesn’t only have to be at home. A device like Alexa can be installed by an employer at work as well so that employees with disabilities can be more comfortable in their work environments. A device like Echo is not expensive ($179), and it just makes the ability to provide accommodations an inherent part of the system, and not an afterthought.
This is just the beginning though. The kind of features Amazon keeps adding to Echo is mind boggling, and very exciting to say the least. Keep watching the IoT space to know about more innovations and automations for people with disabilities!

Source: Amazon Echo: A Great Internet of Things (IoT) Device For People With Disabilities – Assistive Technology Blog

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[WEB SITE] Traumatic Brain Injury: 6 Brain Functions That Suffer Most

Traumatic brain injury most often is the result of severe external force against the head. The force is violent enough to cause brain dysfunction and disrupt necessary brain and bodily functions.

When a traumatic brain injury occurs, according to the National Institutes of Health, several brain functions are disrupted causing various degrees of damage from mild to permanent.

Traumatic brain injury can be caused by blunt force trauma or by an object piercing the brain tissue.

Symptoms may be mild and temporary, moderate, or severe. Often, the injury requires brain surgery to remove ruptured blood vessels or bruised brain tissue.

Disabilities may arise depending on the extent of damage from the traumatic brain injury.

The following six brain functions suffer the most after a traumatic brain injury, according to the Mayo Clinic:

1. Nerves

When an injury occurs at the base of the skull and damages the cranial nerves, the following complications may result:

  • Facial muscle paralysis
  • Eye nerve damage resulting in double vision
  • Loss of sense of smell
  • Vision loss
  • Loss of facial sensation
  • Problems with swallowing

2. Intellect

A traumatic brain injury, depending on the severity of damage, can cause significant changes in cognitive and executive functioning abilities including the following:

  • Memory
  • Learning
  • Reasoning
  • Mental processing speed
  • Judgment
  • Attention or concentration
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Multitasking abilities
  • Organization
  • Decision-making
  • Task initiation or completion ability

3. Communication

Traumatic brain injuries can significantly disrupt and affect cognitive and communication skills and have lasting social implications. The following communication and social problems may result from a traumatic brain injury:

  • Difficulty understanding speech or writing
  • Difficulty with speech or writing
  • Disorganized thoughts
  • Conversational confusion and awkwardnes

4. Behavior

Behavioral changes may be seen after a traumatic brain injury and may include the following:

  • Lack of self-control
  • Risky behavior
  • Self-image issues
  • Social difficulties
  • Verbal or physical outbursts

5. Emotions

Emotional changes may include the following:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Lack of empathy
  • Anger
  • Insomnia and other sleep-related problems
  • Self-esteem changes

6. Sensory

Damage from a traumatic brain injury may greatly affect a person’s senses including:

  • Ringing in the ears
  • Problems with hand-eye coordination
  • Blind spots or double vision
  • Issues with taste or smell
  • Tingling, pain, or itching of the skin
  • Dizziness or vertigo
  • Object-recognition difficulties

Source: Traumatic Brain Injury: 6 Brain Functions That Suffer Most

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[WEB SITE] Internet of Things: New Promises for Persons with Disabilities

Internet of Things: New Promises for Persons with Disabilities

Recent developments in both networks and devices are enabling a much greater range of connected devices and Internet of Things (IoT) functionalities. This paper explores the impact of the IoT on persons with disabilities. A G3ict Business Case White Paper Series researched in cooperation with AT&T | Published in July 2015. Accessible PDF provided by BarrierBreak.

The Internet of Things opens new opportunities for persons with disabilities and seniors, giving them an unprecedented control on their environment. Home automation already provides tools for more independent living, and new applications appear on the market for health care, transportation, education and employment. In the years to come, standardization, security and privacy will have to be addressed by industry, government and users.

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» Press Release

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