|The ADA Turns 20: a look at its legacy for Generation AT |
I. Ain't No Mountain High Enough|
Twenty years ago this past spring, a group of ADAPT
activists demonstrated the need for the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by abandoning their
wheelchairs at the foot of the United States Capitol and crawling up the steps
that, at the time, afforded the only means of access to the legislative branch
of the U.S. government. This action, which is now an iconic part of U.S. civil
rights history, was just one of a series of protests the group organized that
week in D.C. As with previous civil
rights movements, protesters were arrested for acts of civil disobedience;
unlike scenes typical to earlier movements, however, the authorities had
trouble carrying out their law enforcement obligations. At the time, few court
houses, jail cells, or even elevators were accessible to law-breakers with
Inside the Capitol, one lawmaker who championed the bill
also found a creative--albeit legal--means to illustrate a similar point. During
a critical hour, Senator Harkin (D-Iowa) stood up in the well of the Senate to
testify on the need for the ADA. He did so eloquently and for more than ten
minutes, and he did so entirely using manual signs (Sen. Harkin's brother is
Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commissioner Charles Carr was in D.C. that week. Then a vice
president of the National Council for Independent Living (NCIL), he oversaw
NCIL's legislative committee, "When Tom Harkin testified you could hear a
pin drop," Carr reminisced during an interview with ATPN in June. "And then he stopped and said, 'Now you know what it's like to not
understand a single thing that's being discussed like a deaf person does when
they don't have access to a sign language interpreter.' It was a stunning
II. Generation ADA
The ADA was signed into law by President George H. W. Bush
on July 26th, 1990. The landmark civil rights act prohibits discrimination on
the basis of disability in employment, state and local government, public
accommodations, commercial facilities, transportation, and
telecommunications. To some the law
evokes little more than curb cuts, empty parking spaces, and cumbersome and
costly law suits. To others, particularly those individuals with disabilities
whose lives have spanned beyond the last quarter century, the ADA demarcates
the start of a shift in consciousness for an entire nation. "Gone are the
days of out of sight, out of mind" Carr and others have said.
The ADA brought us the term "reasonable
accommodation," providing, for the first time, a standard of fairness for
equal access to American society for people with disabilities. The ADA was not
the first law of importance for disability rights in the United States, but for
Americans with disabilities, it is comprehensive civil rights legislation
analogous to what brought down Jim Crow laws, the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
I was a kid coming up, I had no expectations that I could go to a restaurant
and that it would be accessible, not at all," Carr reflects. "Go to
see a movie, go anywhere! You never ever expected it. If you were smart you'd
call first. And even if you called ... read the rest of The ADA Turns 20.
|See Tom Olin's photo of ADAPT members climbing the Capitol steps at DisabilityMuseum.org |
|Field News: Nebraska Holds Cognitive Solutions Training Event|
Thanks to Nebraska's ATP for sending in this news...
The Nebraska Assistive Technology Partnership (ATP) and Nebraska's Traumatic
Brain Injury Implementation Partnership Grant are working together to
increase the independence of individuals who experience a brain injury.
ATP Technology Specialists working on cognitive solutions during a small group labIn June, the Brain Injury Grant sponsored a two-day training conducted
by Tony Gentry, PhD, OTR/L, Assistant Professor, Department of
Therapy, and Director, Assistive Technology for
Cognition Laboratory, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond,
Virginia. ATP Technology Specialists attended along with staff from
several rehabilitation hospitals and Vocational Rehabilitation.
The event: Assistive Technology for Cognition for Improving the
Functional The Independence, Safety, and Self-Efficacy of People with
Traumatic Brain Injury included an overview of emerging
community-based themes in cognitive rehabilitation, techniques for
assessing needs for consumer community supports, hands-on training, and
small group labs. Cognitive tools explored included the basic Timex Data
Link Watch and PDA's as Task Organizers. Attendees completed a case
study that included planning, creating, and uploading a task-sequencing
video to the Ipod Touch. (It was also discussed how these solutions have
been successful for consumers experiencing Autism.) Affordable Smart
Home solutions for safety and independence in the home were also
Attendees reported that their knowledge of cognitive challenges and
how solutions can be customized has increased. They also reported that
the case studies "really helped with putting it all together for real
For more information contact ATP Director Leslie Novacek, Assistive Technology
Toolbox: Assistive Technology for Behavioral Safety and Self-Protection
Individuals with cognitive and/or behavioral
disabilities sometimes need help preventing behaviors which
challenge their safety living at home. If you are caring for someone
with this type of disability--such as a child with autism or an adult
with Alzheimer's--the Massachusetts AT Act program (MassMATCH) has created a web page to make you aware of
the growing range of assistive technology (AT) products that exists to
Some of the AT solutions are sophisticated, like GPS
tracking systems, but many are simple and inexpensive, like door knob
guards or refrigerator latches. Not every solution can work for every
individual or situation, but common problems such as kitchen safety,
getting up unassisted and wandering are addressed by a variety of
The page organizes behavioral safety device-types by
category (bathroom, bed, car, chair and wheelchair, doors and exits,
electrical, kitchen, self-protection, telephone access, and wandering)
and provides referral resources for further ideas, advice, support, and
funding. Below are a few device examples:
screw-on, anti-scalding devices turn off the water if
the water gets too hot.
- Bed pads and floor mats with
wireless remote alarms let caregivers know when a user gets
out of bed.
- Car seat belt alarms that sound off when
the two pieces of the seat belt are disengaged.
prevention alarms which sound off before a person falls or
gets up from a chair or wheelchair.
- Door and window
alarms, such as units which send signals to a portable
receiver when doors are opened.
- Appliance plug lock. Plug any appliance into this
keyed lock and it becomes unusable.
devices, like EmFinder's tracking bracelet which ties to the
national E-9-1-1 emergency system,
helping pinpoint the location of a missing person in virtually any environment.
Learn more at this MassMATCH.org web page on behavioral safety.
Reminder: MassMATCH and the
U.S. Department of Education make no endorsement, representation, or
warranty expressed or implied for any product, device, or information
set forth on this newsletter. Neither MassMATCH nor the U.S. Department
of Education has examined, reviewed, or tested any product or device
contained in this newsletter.
Readability is a free button for your Web browser's toolbar. When you click it, Readability takes away everything from the web page you're reading except the text and photos. You end up with a simple, magazine-like layout, with a font and size of your choice with a white or off-white background.
Readability for Your Web Browser
Thanks to the West Virginia AT System (WVATS) newsletter for this resource...
You might run into a web page that Readability does not work with, just refresh the page to see the original.
Nifty Products: Digit-Eyes and PenFriendTwo products for individuals who are blind or have low vision: Digit-Eyes for the iPhone, and RNIP's PenFriend.
Digit-Eyes is an exciting new iPhone application.
It is an audio labeler and product code reader that costs far less than others like it on the market ($29.99 from Digital Miracles, LLC).
Digit-Eyes reads standard UPC, EAN and even ISPN codes (on books). The application means that an iPhone can tell you the name of nearly any product in your house or at a store. It also allows you to print your own labels and make audio recordings that are read every time the label is scanned. This is useful for everything from prescription bottles to cooking directions.
In a review by the American Federation for the Blind, the AFB reported that it can take up to 30 seconds to identify some products (particularly on round items), depends on lighting, and takes some practice.
Learn more at the Digit-Eyes website.
PenFriend (from RNIB) is an audio-labeler only and useful for those who don't iPhone. It allows users to record and re-record information onto self-adhesive labels and then use the pen-shaped recorder to play them back. No other device is required. Label food items, prescription bottles, add cooking or other usage directions, record shopping lists, or leave audio messages. No limit to recorded messages. Over 70 hours of recording time available on the 1 GB internal memory. Comes with 127 labels of varying sizes (msrp is $139.95).
Learn more at this ILA web page
Disclaimer: AT Program News makes no
endorsement, representation, or warranty expressed or implied for any
product, device, or information set forth in this newsletter. AT
Program News has not examined, reviewed, or tested any product or
device referred to in this electronic newsletter or at atprogramnews.com.
Wanted: Your Favorite Online AT Resources for EducationYes, there are a million of them. That's the problem. ATPN is preparing a
Back to School issue for September and plans to include a "best of the
Web" column. Let us know what blogs and other tools you couldn't live
without so we can share them with your colleagues! Email ATPN