Aimee Mullins speaks on the art of disability

“Pamela Anderson has more prosthetic in her body than I do and nobody called her disabled.” ~Aimee Mullins

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Aimee Mullins Speaks at TED 2009, posted with vodpod


Whirlwind RoughRider(tm) Wheelchair

Whirlwind Wheelchair International is a non-profit social enterprise dedicated to improving the lives of people with disabilities in the developing world while promoting sustainable local economic development in the process. We work to make it possible for every person in the developing world who needs a wheelchair to obtain one that will lead to maximum personal independence and integration into society. By giving wheelchair riders a central role in all aspects of our designs and projects we ensure that our chairs are appropriate for their real lives in their real environments. For thirty years in over 40 countries we have focused on producing durable, low-cost, and highly functional wheelchairs. These chairs give riders the reliable and functional mobility they need to reach their full potential. Our active adult wheelchair design, the RoughRider is used by 25,000 riders traveling over every terrain imaginable from muddy village paths to rough pot-holed urban streets.

In partnership with our wheelchair buyers, Whirlwind provided 3,000 RoughRiders in 2008 and 3,500 in 2009. These chairs were produced through our network of regional, quality-certified manufacturers, which currently can produce 12,000 RoughRidersTM per year. Small wheelchair shops across the developing world produced many more Whirlwind chairs under our public domain licensing program.

Whirlwind headquarters is located on the San Francisco State University campus as part of the Institute for Civic and Community Engagement. Whirlwind is a tax-deductible 501(3)(c) non-profit operating under the umbrella of the University Corporation San Francisco State. [Source]

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Whirlwind RoughRider(tm) Wheelchair, posted with vodpod

For more information, and in greater detail, on the RoughRider by Whirlwind, and to find out how you can help by donating a chair today, visit

Miniature Horses the New ADA Service Animal?


Ramouni and Cali

Mona Ramouni rides a SMART bus to her job with her guide horse, Cali, in Lincoln Park, Mich., Thursday, April 9, 2009. Ramouni lost her sight soon after birth, but she can't use a guide dog. Many Muslims consider dogs unclean, and Ramouni respects her parents' aversion to having one in their home. The solution, she hopes, is Cali, a miniature horse who stands 30 inches tall and is being trained to help Ramouni through her daily routine. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

e new Americans with disabilities Act guidelines have been shaking up the industry, and this particular news story demonstrates that perfectly — if a bit on the extreme side, but new and different nonetheless.

Most people who require the aid of a service animal use dogs. In some cases trained assistance monkeys have been used, but assistance dogs are the “norm”. But new federal guidelines in ADA also permit the use miniature horses!

Currently, five miniature horses serve as assistance animals to the blind.

The article mentions some of the benefits and some of the difficulties of using minis as assistance animals, such as, they don’t attract fleas but they do get other parasites like ticks. A mini is about the size of a Newfoundland dog so physically they aren’t larger than a dog, but they do require more physical space for living, a stall, and an environment in which they can move about and interaction with other horses. Both a dog and a mini can be houstrained, though dogs are fed and walked a couple of times a day whereas horses eat hay and grass and produce waste all through the day. Minis can be fed grass and hay in the form of pellets, though experts cautiuon that this can cause ulcers.

Overall, the choice to use a miniature horse as a service or guide animal is probably not going to be something that everyone opts for, and experts don’t believe that this is going to be a sudden trend that individuals in need of service animals will rush out to join. Though a few experts are worried that some individuals may rush into choosing a mini for a service animal and then leave them homeless if things don’t work out.

You can read the full Washington Post article here.

The article also introduces you to Michigan State University student Mona Ramouni and her miniature guide horsel, Cali. Ramouni chose to use a mini because of her family’s devout Muslim upbringing which consider dogs to be unclean. Ramouni has pushed hard for the acceptance of using miniature horses as service/guide animals, petitioning the Department of Justice to include minis in the new ADA law.

If you’d like to know more about Ramouni and her mini Cali, a blog has been set up to document their lives together, at

Associated Press. “Miniature Horse Is Lone Exception to Dog in Federal Law Governing Service Animals for Disabled.” The Washington Post. Associated Press, 31 Mar. 2011. Web. 04 Apr. 2011.

A Selfless Act of Sisterly Love

Anaiah Rucker

Screenshot of 9-year old Anaiah Rucker from MSNBC.

Just what we all need on a Thursday morning, a good cry!

Nine-year old Anaiah Rucker, of Madison, Georgia, is being heralded a hero for saving her five-year old sister’s life after pushing her out of the way of an on-coming vehicle while walking to a school bus stop. Anaiah said she simply acted on instinct, snatching her baby sister back from danger, even though it placed her own life in mortal peril, fearing her younger sibling wouldn’t survive the accident.

Taking the hit instead, Anaiah’s spleen was damaged as well as her kidneys and both legs were broken. Sadly, doctors were unable to save one of her kidneys and had to amputate her left leg.

But this humble young girl doesn’t feel she deserves to be called a hero, instead simply says it was an act of sisterly love.

You can read the full article here.

Watch the news story and Anaiah’s interview on USA Today below:

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Anaiah Rucker Interview on Today, posted with vodpod

Anaiah has a tough road ahead of her, though this little hero has a wonderfully supporting mother, sister, and community behind her. She was given a heroes welcome home from the hospital and the community held a BBQ to raise funds for Anaiah’s medical bills and the renovations needed to make her home handicap accessible. Anaiah’s mother, Andrea Taylor recently lost her job, though there is some small blessing in that she will have the necessary time to dedicate to Anaiah’s long road to recovery and adaptation to her new disability. To mkae your own dedication to help Anaiah you can contact United Bank in Madison through the link provided. A donation fund has been set up in Anaiah’s name.

Goodwin, Liz. “Nine-year-old Loses Leg While Saving Little Sister’s Life.” Online posting. Yahoo!News. MSNBC, 23 Mar. 2011. Web. 24 Mar. 2011.

ADA 2011 Compliance Deadlines & Updates Webinar

ADA Compliance and Deadlines Handouts

Handouts from the ADA 2011 Compliance & Updates Webinar. Image courtesy Tamara Nguyen.

Today, your friendly staff at Disability Support Services at Gulf Coast Community/State College attended a webinar focused on ADA 2011 Compliance Deadlines and Updates. There are some exciting changes happening in the legal world of disability, beginning with the lowering of the clinical bar for disability diagnosis and the inclusion of a variety of medical, cognitive, and emotional conditions for coverage of disability support services in the category of Life Activities. There was also discussion on the many ways in which the program of disability support and learning services can be of assistance to our returning veterans in their endeavor of degree seeking, for which returning to a traditional classroom or educational institution may become a stressor. The webinar was informative and discussed many of the new changes, the new litigations of ADAAA, and the implementation deadlines for these new policies. Our own program has begun implementing many of these new policies and procedures and will continue to do so as higher education institutions across the nation prepare for this new transition.

Asperger’s and Tourette Syndromes: a “Did You Know” PSA

In recent light, James Durbin, American Idol Season 10 hopeful has become a public face to Asperger’s and Tourette Syndromes. In an Idol interview, Durbin triumphantly declared “I have Tourette’s and Asperger’s, but Tourette’s and Asperger’s don’t have me.” But did you know that Asperger’s and Tourette syndromes are both conditions that commonly occur together and are three to four more times more likely to strike males than females.

Dan Aykroyd

Dan Aykroyd. Image via Google Search.

And did you know that before James Durbin, Dan Aykroyd, actor, comedian, and musician, discussed publicly in an interview with Terry Gross on NPR (2004) his own experience living with Asperger’s and Tourette Syndromes.

Listen to that interview here.

Aykroyd’s acknowledgement of having both conditions was broached by Gross’s curiosity if research he had found stating that Aykroyd was diagnosed with Schizophrenia was true.

Here’s a snippet of that interview:

GROSS: Sometimes when I’m preparing an interview, I’ll read something about someone, and I’m not sure if they really said that or if it’s really true, because it sometimes isn’t. Ha ha. So, let me read you something that I read that you had said, and you can tell me if it’s true. And if it is true and it’s too personal, you can tell me that as well. But I read that when you were 12 you were diagnosed as schizophrenic and that you heard voices in your head and that you had to kind of keep that under control.

AYKROYD: Um, well, it was more of a Tourette’s thing than schizophrenia. I was analyzed as a Tourette’s and Asperger’s [child], which I still have a little bit today. You know, I mean, I grew up being pulled one way by my mother, who was very very strict, and then being relaxed by my father, who was very passive. I had the Tourette’s there pretty badly there, and I went to a therapist about it. At 12 years old I was able to have the luxury of sitting down with a therapist and talking through all kinds of things, books and music. She was quite influential in kind of evening me out. …Of course, now today they just give kids pills, but back then we didn’t have the benefit of all this sophisticated medicine. Whether it works or not, I don’t know. I think time will tell on that.

It was not so much [schizophrenia]. I think when I said that, I was kind of going to the extreme. It was not so much the schizophrenia part of it, but it was the Tourette’s/Asperger’s, which can be associated with hallucinogenic voices and that. I still have a little touch of that today. But I’ve been able to kind of defeat it without pharmaceutical medication. And I just find in my research and reading today that there’s a lot of people who have this kind of mild condition, and some of them get over it, and [for] some of them, it spins out where it affects them quite negatively.

GROSS: If you don’t mind my asking–

AYKROYD: I don’t.

GROSS: –what were some of the symptoms when you were 12, and were these things that you had to fight against to do the kind of acting & writing that you wanted to do, and did they feed that in any way?

AYKROYD: Well, it was mostly physical tics, you know, and nervousness kind of thing, and that kind of thing, you know, like grunting and tics and the classic Tourette’s type syndrome, that type of thing. But by the time I was 14 it was allayed and I really haven’t had too much occurrence except on the Asperger’s side, where I have a fascination with police, and I always have to have a badge with me. … I have a fascination with law enforcement and the police. My grandfather was a Mountie and that. If I don’t have a badge on me, I feel naked.

GROSS: I can’t tell if you’re kidding or not.

AYKROYD: No, no. It’s true. [Source]

Both Asperger’s and Tourette’s Syndrome are thought to have genetic components, and recent research has discovered a gene for a neurological disorder that includes autistic behaviors.

Laugh Your ASL Off!

Laugh Your ASL Off

Laugh Your ASL Off! Comedy Knight- UCF Deaf Awareness Week 2011

This week the University of Central Florida is presenting UCF Deaf Awareness Week 2011, and its chock full of great events!

Tuesday, March 22nd:
Deafness and ASL at UCF: Open Forum
starts at 7pm, CL1 318, Free for all

Wednesday, March 23rd:
ASL Club/NSSHLA Tabling
outside of the Student Union: we have a booth to hand out flyers and promote the club

Thursday, March 24th:
Silent Lunch at the Student Union by Burger King at 12

Silent Movie Knight, at 7pm in MAP 359, Free for all
“Children of a Lesser God”

Friday, March 25th:
Silent Dinner
at Applebee’s on University Blvd at 7pm

And the kicker for the week’s events will be Laugh Your ASL Off! comedy night featuring Keith Wann and Windell “Wink” Smith Jr. The show will be conducted in American Sign Language and a voice interpreter will be provided.

Visit their Facebook page.

The week’s events are being hosted by the Campus Activities Board and ASL Knights at UCF.

For more information on ASL Knights, UCF’s official ASL club, visit their official website at

Media dis&dat

We portal

Image via Google search.

There is so much happening in the world of disability that its impossible to keep up with it all. But that’s why we love portals! And Media dis&dat has proven to be a great database of news and information about people with disabilities and disability issues.

As is the purpose of a portal, the stories appear on the blog in one nice compilation, but the articles continue to be the property of the original author/publication/web site, which can be found via the link at the beginning of each post.

Visit Media dis&dat at

American Idol Update: James Durbin

In case you haven’t been able to keep up with American Idol hopeful James Durbin, over the past few weeks you have missed him rock out Paul McCartney and Bon Jovi. Here are those performances:

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American Idol Top 13 Performance | James Durbin…, posted with vodpod

Vodpod videos no longer available.

American Idol James Durbin March 16, 2011, posted with vodpod

James Durbin has remained one of America’s Favorites, continuing on to this week’s competition.

Roger Ebert Closed this year’s TED conference

Roger Ebert

Film critic Roger Ebert gave the final talk at this year's TED conference. Image via CNN.

At the beginning of the month, TED held its annual conference. This years conference ended with an emotionally wrenching talk from film and culture critic Roger Ebert, his wife, and two friends.

Ebert lost the ability to speak four years ago after much of his lower jaw had to be surgically removed in his battle against cancer.

But at this years conference, Ebert appeared center stage with a newly designed facial prosthesis and “Alex”, a computer voice from his MacBook. With his wife and two friends, Ebert shared his story of his illness, which turned the man who is well known for his running mouth into a man who was unable to have a conventional conversation.

In his speech, the critic likened the use of computer voice to that of HAL 9000, from the film “2001: A Space Odysseey,” but pointed out that there has been immense progress in technology used to simulate voices. A company in Scotland has been able to create a computer voice that sounds like Ebert before he lost the ability to speak. The voice was generated through processing many hours of tapes of Ebert talking.

“Alex,” however, is not this Ebert-sounding computer voice that Ebert spoke with at the conference; it is, instead, a rather impersonal computer generated voice. Still, Ebert told his captive audience that “the ultimate test of a computer voice is whether it can tell a joke like Henny Youngman.” Ebert then proceeded to tell a joke.

We wish we could find footage of “Alex” and the joke in action, but were unable to. We can tell you the joke ended with “You’re ugly.”

Read the CNN article on Ebert’s appearance and find out what the joke was here

Galant, Richard. “Ebert Closes TED Conference with Emotional Talk – and a Laugh.” Online posting. CNN. CNN Cable News Network, 4 Mar. 2011. Web. 8 Mar. 2011.

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