Disabled Accomplishments

Disabled Accomplishments
with Jo-Blogs

30 September 2009

Baby Robot Wheelchairs

At the University of Delaware in the United States, researchers have come up with a mini robot-like wheelchair for toddlers.

Babies as young as six months old have been able to operate the wheelchairs, which are controlled by a joystick.

They have been tested on children with Spina Bifida, Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy and Autism.

Researchers say that moving around and exploring the world is a healthy part of a baby’s brain development, children who can’t walk or have mobility problems, often miss out on normal toddler activities. With the robot wheelchair, they can gain some mobility and move around and chase their siblings, parents and pets just like any other toddler.

The wheelchair is equipped with infra red sensors so the chair avoids hazards and also has a camera attached to it to see the child’s expressions as they explore.

This is such a great idea, I wish there was something around like this when I was a baby, because of my bones being so brittle, a lot of times, I had to be kept away from other children in case they fell on me, and crawling around when I was very young was almost impossible.

To view the entire story and watch the video of the wheelchair in action, click here - http://www.wndu.com/mmm/headlines/62714672.html

Beach Wheelchairs

These are pretty cool for getting around on the beach.... Ahhhh, if only I had a spare $2,499 to buy one, but look, it's GST free! Huge savings!!
No but seriously, excellent invention, I am just trying to find one that people other than milliona...ires can afford.... I'll let you know once I have.
Apparently though, a lot of surf clubs rent them out for the day, Cronulla beach has one that you can borrow for up to 4 hours, you just need to book it through Sutherland Shire Council on 9544 5399.

24 September 2009

No Legs, No Arms, No Worries...

This guy is amazing! He was born in Australia with no arms or legs and now travels the world as an inspirational speaker. I will definately be getting in contact with him... This is a link to his own website, it's a very interesting read... Enjoy

23 September 2009

Businesses Still Discriminating In 2009

Today’s blog was inspired by a story from the BBC in Wales. It states that a law was passed in 2004 that allowed for a ‘reasonable adjustments’ clause to be added to the Disability Discrimination Act, to make it easier for the disabled to access public places.

Despite this, 5 years on, there are still complaints from many disabled people about unsatisfactory access into places that the able bodied take for granted. Such as; banks, butcher shops, deli’s, cafés and restaurants.

Kay Jenkins (pictured above) from Aberdare suffers from brittle bones and has scoliosis, she is confined to a wheelchair and needs oxygen to breathe.

She was chosen by a BBC Radio Wales as a secret shopper to investigate the progress of the clause added to the DDA. While trying to enter a travel agency, she had to wait outside in the rain as there was no ramp to get in. Out of 10 stores Kay visited, 8 presented some difficulty for her.

I can definitely relate to Kay’s experience, I am constantly faced with high counters, luckily for me, I can stand up (even though it’s unsafe to do so), but for those who can’t, it is nearly impossible to be seen.

I have included some photo’s of counters to show the height that most people wouldn’t even think twice about.

I think places like post offices and banks should definitely be compliant to these laws, disabled people are people too and they need to be able to function as normally as possible in society. Lets make things change for the better!

To view the original story and to hear the recording of Kay Jenkins out shopping, click here http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/wales/8265653.stm

22 September 2009

Danish Businessman Hires Only Those With Autism

Thorkil Sonne, who owns an IT business in Denmark, is happy with his decision to hire only employees with Autism. This decision was inspired after his third son Lars, was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder at three years old.

He now has 43 employees with ASD, he says they are well suited to their roles as people with ASD are known to have the ability to focus and give more attention to detail.

He says that they do their jobs with the high level of precision required to perform such tasks as software testing, data entry and quality control. Sonne says that they do a job that would not motivate generalists to do, by generalists, he means people who do not have ASD. He says that they have the ability to perform tasks like software bug testing, explaining that this is a repetitive task that requires full concentration and in ‘generalists’, this would create reduced focus that could hinder the final outcome.

His business has now been expanded to Scotland and whilst in Australia in September this year for the Asia Pacific Autism Conference, Sonne said that the idea may be replicated in Australia which he said could generate at least 100 jobs.

Sonne says “The term disability often overshadows the abilities that are typically there, somewhere. You just have to find them."

To view the original story, click here - http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-national/businessman-happy-he-hired-the-disabled-20090821-es9m.html

I think it’s great to have an entrepreneur who isn’t afraid to hire someone who is seen as ‘different’, it definitely shows that you can’t underestimate what someone with a disability can do. There should be more high profile business people who take chances like that of Mr Sonne, it can pay off to be the best decision you could ever make.

17 September 2009

Pension Increase! – It’s about time...

It has been announced that from the 20th September 2009, there will be an increase to pensioner payments. This is urgently needed and should’ve happened a while ago, everything goes up but the poor pensioners still receive their pitiful amount of money each fortnight.

I have called Centrelink to confirm that the increase will apply to those on the Disability Support Pension, the Age Pension and the Carers Pension.

I have been told that the maximum increase will be about $96 a fortnight for single pensioners who aren’t working, this will bring the pension up to $691.90 per Fortnight. For those of us on the pension who are lucky enough to be working, the increase will still be received and the minimum amount will be $20.20 per fortnight. For couples receiving the pension, you will receive around an extra $30 per fortnight.

The amounts are being conflicted everywhere as on the Centrelink website, it’s saying the maximum increase is $65.00 per fortnight for singles and $20.30 for couples, on the news article in the Sydney Morning Herald, it’s saying that the increases are $70.83 for singles and $29.93 for couples.

The first amount that I’ve quoted should be correct though as I did speak with a representative from Centrelink. These increased prices also come with a boost to the Pharmaceutical Benefits, the Utility Supplement, Phone Allowance and the GST Supplement which may be included and could explain why there are so many price conflicts.

If you are on the pension, you should receive a letter from Centrelink in the mail explaining the increase and what it will mean for you.

Hopefully this boost will help some pensioners out there live a little bit more comfortably.

To view the entire SMH article, click here http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-national/pension-increases-start-from-sunday-20090915-fpjv.html

16 September 2009

‘The First To Go’ – The Killings Of Disabled People During WWII

I came across a video of a play called ‘The First To Go’ written by British actor, Nabil Shaban (pictured above); who like myself, suffers from Brittle Bones and is confined to a wheelchair. The stage production tells the story of the murders carried out by Adolf Hitler against disabled people in WWII.

Nabil stars in the play as Siegfried, a wheelchair bound man who was born with Brittle Bones. In one scene, he’s in an institution and has been sentenced by Hitler to die because of his disability. Hitler wanted all disabled people who were institutionalised for at least 5 years to be killed.

He described people with disabilities as ‘unproductive consumers’, ‘useless eaters’ and said ‘destroy all the weeds which take all the goodness but give nothing in return’. He had also said, ‘if they are not employable or only employable to do simple machine work, they must die’.

There were ‘Killing Centres’ which were first created to cull all disabled people, there were 6 ‘Killing Centres’ and there were approximately 30 deaths an hour that took place in them.

One of Hitler’s goals was to get rid of all the tainted genes that existed to create an uncontaminated gene pool for a ‘perfect’ race, saying that ‘we haven’t just maintained an unworthy life, we’ve allowed it to multiply’.

They used many disabled people as human guinea pigs for cruel medical testing and had such well known methods of killings as the gas chamber, euthanasia and lethal injection, among others. A man called Karl Brandt was the evil genius behind Hitler’s Euthanasia project. There was also a Dr Josef Goebbels, who was born with a club foot, he chose to hate all disabled people and was the mastermind behind the propaganda campaign that was for euthanasia.

One noted disabled hero was Claus Van Stauffenberg, he only had one eye and was missing an arm, but made an attempt to blow up Hitler.

I have always been fascinated in the stories surrounding Hitler, perhaps because he had no regard towards the lives of those who were disabled and wanted them all to die. It makes me think, if I lived in Germany during WWII, would I have had any chance of survival and also makes me so grateful to have been born in a time where the views towards disabled people have changed so much, not as much as a lot of us would like, but a lot better than those of WWII and certainly moving in the right direction, more and more each day.

I am not discussing this blog to badmouth Germans in anyway, (I am half German myself), but to explore what it would have been like for those unfortunate disabled souls who lost their lives and had no chance at all.

To view the video that talks about the killings of the disabled people in WWII and how they were regarded, click here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aIDT-TuRPFc and to view a part of the play featuring Nabil Shaban, click here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ezwZmf5I_0.

15 September 2009

Guide Dogs Not Allowed In Taxis With Their Owners

This blog is about blind passengers who are refused entry into a cab because they are accompanied by guide dogs.

I have read many articles on this issue, I stumbled across this one whilst researching for my blog, it’s a few years old but I think it still happens. To read the original article, go to http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,21785791-421,00.html.

It says that passengers have been denied access into a cab because they had a guide dog with them and the cab drivers were claiming that it is against their religion - (for example; Muslim’s believe that dogs are unclean), claims were also made that the drivers were ‘afraid’ of dogs or they had allergies and couldn’t allow the passengers on. Another claim was made that a gentleman was told to go to a non-existent taxi in front of the one he was at, while he was walking to the invisible taxi, the original driver sped off.

It makes my blood boil that this can happen in today’s society. Surely, regardless of religion or beliefs, taxi drivers are told that it is illegal to discriminate against a blind passenger or any disabled passenger. I know I have been driven away from when I’ve tried to catch a taxi, on my own and with friends.

They say you can report drivers for refusing to take you on board, but what about blind people? How are they supposed to get the number plate details? I personally don’t like taking taxi’s anywhere, if you order a wheelchair one, you usually have to wait half an hour longer, and if you don’t, you run the risk of not being able to get a lift anywhere.

Sometimes, I haven’t even had a chance to write down a number plate or get the driver id number, I’ve had incidences where they’ve been pulling in to the footpath, then have sped off once they’ve realised I was in a wheelchair.

There should be bigger fines for cab drivers refusing to take disabled passengers, and those who are ignorant to the laws should be briefed accordingly and warned that it’s not on in our country to discriminate on grounds of disability.

If we’re going to start discriminating, how about the taxi drivers who can’t speak English or don’t know where major city streets or landmarks are? Or those who have offensive odours? You know what I’m talking about, we’ve all been in a taxi with someone who doesn’t appear to know how to use deodorant.

Has anyone had any similar problems whilst catching taxis? I’d like to hear your stories, disability discrimination or otherwise.

10 September 2009

Teachers Aide Assaults 3 Year Old Autistic Student

This is horrible! A 3 year old autistic boy appears to be getting assaulted by his teachers aid in America. Scary stuff.... Some people just should not work with children or disabled people....

09 September 2009

Would You Want To Work For $1.50 Per Hour?

Today’s blog is about sheltered workshops, for those who don’t know, these are organizations that specifically hire people with disabilities to work together in various types of workplaces. The employer only hires people with disabilities to perform duties that an able bodied person could do, but at a fraction of the cost. Employees are able to work whilst still keeping their full benefits from the government.

Most positions involve working in factories, assembling pallets with machinery and packaging of products. These workshops are away from the rest of the community so they don’t give disabled people interaction with the rest of society. This is important as it helps able bodied people get a better knowledge of people with disabilities and it helps the person with a disability learn how to interact with the rest of society.

I know about sheltered workshops firsthand, when I was about 19, I was unemployed and couldn’t find another job anywhere. I saw an ad in the local paper wanting disabled people to work for them. I called them, and an interview was organized.

With my extensive training back ground and previous role in computer skills and reception, I wanted to pursue this field. They said they had a receptionist position for me.

As it was a sheltered workshop type position, it was funded by the government, so I was only going to be paid $1.50 per hour, it worked out to be about $40 dollars a week. This was a huge drop in pay compared to what I was used to.

Because I desperately wanted to work, I said I would do it and look at it as if I were getting work experience. I stated that I would only do it for 3 months maximum, and if they were happy with my work, they could hire me as a ‘normal’ employer, they agreed so I started straight away.

After the three months, I approached them a few times about our agreement but was always told a different story as to why they couldn’t promote me, so I continued to receive $1.50 per hour. As compensation for not being promoted to a full time average wage employee as we agreed, they gave me a pay rise of 8 cents an hour.

I think places like this should be shut down, they take advantage of people who, with a bit of time and patience, are quite capable of working in the same roles as most people.

Despite my years of TAFE training and previous employment in reception roles, I felt demeaned and was treated as if I didn’t know any better and feel I was exploited. I am a very hard worker and put everything I had into my role even though I was getting paid a laughable amount of money.

Their whole idea of paying such a low wage in sheltered workshops, is so those who receive the Disability Support Pension, can work but not have their benefits affected. A lot of people don’t know that they can work on the DSP and still receive approx $65 a week, if they work more than that, it only gets affected quite minimally. As long as the person on the newer type of DSP is working 15 hours or less a week, their pension will still remain.

I have included a video of a sheltered workshop that operates in America, to watch it, click here http://www.schooltube.com/video/461/Sheltered-Workshop - it is set up very similar to that of the ones that are run in Australia.

08 September 2009

Children Walking For Sick Kids

Aaron Nielsen is now a happy and healthy 11 year old Boy who survived a major life-threatening kidney operation two years ago. While he was critically ill, he says that the crew from the Starlight Room in the Children’s Hospital at Westmead made his recovery such a happier and more memorable time.

One of the Starlight Rooms, which is run by the Starlight Foundation, operates out of the Children’s Hospital at Westmead, in Sydney. The Starlight Room is a great place for sick kids and their families to hang out, they play trivia games, show movies on a big screen, they have video games, craft sessions and lots of fun games for patients and their families to enjoy. There is also a live television broadcast of what’s happening from the starlight room straight to the children’s hospital televisions, for those who are too sick to leave their hospital rooms.

The Starlight Foundation started in 1988 in Australia, they also grant wishes for seriously ill, disabled and hospitalised children. Each wish averages $6000 and can range from meeting a hero to going to Disneyland.

Aaron was so grateful for the support he received from the Starlight Foundation that he wants to give them something back. He and his best mate James, have decided to walk from CUA Stadium in Penrith to Bondi. They have allowed themselves 2 days to walk the 64kms, with a stopover at Flemington; they will of course be accompanied by Aaron’s parents and lots of friends and supporters.

To show his appreciation, Aaron wants to raise $6000 from the walk – the average cost of a wish – to help a sick kid in hospital. He is up to $2170, he needs to raise the money by this Friday when they set off on their walk. Visit http://www.everydayhero.com.au/hero_pages/donate/?url=aaron_nielsen_4 to donate as much or as little as you’d like to help Aaron reach his goal and help a sick child.

This little boy is so sweet and selfless to offer his time to raise money for such a great charity. I hope he reaches his goal and maybe also raises awareness about the Starlight Foundation and what they do. To view the original story of Aarons endeavor, click here http://www.penrithstar.com.au/news/local/news/general/claremont-meadows-boy-to-walk-to-bondi/1572565.aspx

When I was 11, I was granted a wish from the Starlight Foundation; my mum was told about the wish program after one of my many hospital stays.

The hardest part was deciding what I wanted to wish for. It was between three of my favourite ideas, which were an African safari, to meet the cast of Seinfeld or a shopping spree.

I chose the shopping spree. It was so much fun, I went with my mum, her sister and my brother, we were picked up in a white limo, we were given a huge box of chocolates, a big bunch of roses and $5000 to spend in a surf shop, Myer, (Grace Brothers as it was known back then) and a music store.

It was one of the most memorable days of my life and it has definitely left an impression. One of the things that I got was my very first double bed, I still have it, so I am always reminded of the day the Starlight Foundation granted me a wish.

I think it’s a very wonderful opportunity for sick or disabled children to have. They survive on donations to keep the program going and there are always children on waiting lists. To make a donation to help a sick or disabled child’s wish come true or to apply to receive a wish for your disabled child, go to http://www.starlight.org.au/Pages/default.aspx.

03 September 2009

Miracle Baby Refuses To Die

For parents, Leigh and David, celebrating their son Warwick’s 1st Birthday, seemed like a dream come true.

Warwick was born 11 weeks premature, the doctors predicted that if he survived, he would be severely disabled, not being able to see, hear, move or even recognize his parents.

Only weighing 2 pounds, little Warwick had a bleed on his brain and an infection in his heart, they said he would have had no quality of life.

With that devastating news, Leigh and David made the hardest decision of their lives, after keeping Warwick alive on an incubator, they decided to take him out of it and consented to him being listed as – Do Not Resuscitate.

They were placed in a private room while they had to wait for their newborn baby to die. It was eight long days of saying their goodbyes, giving their final hugs to their long awaited baby who wouldn’t be.

He set the heart monitor off an enormous 18 times when his heart stopped beating, at times; turning blue, they thought that was it, and prepared themselves. Miraculously, every time, Warwick started breathing again on his own.

One month later, when he reached 3 pounds, he was able to be taken home with his family. Three months after that, he was given a clean bill of health; doctors said his infection in his heart had completely cleared up and he was going to survive.

Warwick has been diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, but his mum says she is confident that he will be able to crawl and speak when he is older, and he’s already doing a great deal more than what the doctors first predicted.

This cute little boy must have the strongest soul to have survived his heart stopping 18 times; it’s amazing what humans are capable of.
To view the entire article, click here - http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,,25922986-5012749,00.html

02 September 2009

Disabled News Readers

This is awesome; it’s a video that features a group of American reporters who have a mixture of intellectual and physical disabilities.

They met over 10 years ago at a summer camp and decided to start a comedy news broadcast called ‘How’s Your News’.

In this episode, they travel across America in a tour bus from Austin Texas to Louisiana, to New Orleans and New York.

Whilst travelling across the country, they visited a prison rodeo at Louisiana State Penitentiary, where they interviewed prisoners about the rodeo; with some funny reactions once they realized they were speaking to convicted murderers.

They freestyle rapped with some musicians in New Orleans, I love Sue’s lyrics, very funny.

They interviewed bands in Austin Texas at a South By Southwest music festival. They close their night in Austin Texas by singing a song that one of them wrote about New York and they don’t sound too bad.

They bumped into D-list actress Kathy Griffin in New York. They also had a quick chat with Bill Hader, who’s appeared on the hit show, Saturday Night Live and movies, such as Knocked Up and Superbad.

Click here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fgW7eVI5iYA to view the video, it goes for 8 minutes but it’s definitely worth a look at.

They poke fun at themselves and have so much fun doing their interviews. I think all reporters could learn something from the ‘How’s Your News’ crew.

Quadriplegic Sails Solo Round The UK

This is the story of one of the most inspirational women I have ever heard of.

She was diagnosed with Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy when she was around the age of 15; this is a debilitating disease that causes total paralysis. Hilary Lister, now 37, can only move her mouth, head and eyes.

Despite this, she has managed to sail solo around the UK in three months on a 20 foot racing yacht named ‘Me Too’, using a sip and puff system that controls the vessel. With three straws set up near her mouth, they allow her to steer and control the yacht by as simply as blowing into and sipping on the straws, alternating between the three, depending on what she requires them to do. The sip and puff system was designed by a Canadian man by the name of Steve Alvey.

Hilary previously held the record for the first quadriplegic person to sail solo across the English Channel. Now, she has set a new world sailing record as the first quadriplegic woman to sail solo around the UK.

When she says solo, she stops every night with the help of her support team, who follow her coordinates all the way. Other than them helping her reef (being towed into shore), she does everything else. When the team comes to help pull her into shore, she makes sure she is dropped off at the exact same spot the next day, just so she is not given any advantages.

Her boat is equipped for such disasters such as if the yacht was to capsize, her chair that she sits in, has a flotation device attached to it so she would pop back up for her support team to rescue her.

Hilary was welcomed yesterday by a cheering crowd as she sailed into Dover Harbour, Kent, which is her home town. She said she couldn’t believe she had done it and will be more relieved once she has had time for it to sink in.

Her trip raised $30,000 for her charity called Hilary’s Dream Trust, which raises money to help other paralyzed people who want to reach their dreams of sailing.

To view the video of Hilary’s journey, click here http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/8231041.stm .

It makes you aware that if someone who can only move her head, can sail around solo for three months, it is possible to achieve almost anything!