Robot joins NZ retirement home staff

© Sydney Morning Herald, Australia — Residents of an Auckland retirement village now have a robot helper, thanks to new research into inexpensive robotic assistants for the elderly. The Korean YUJIN robot will work alongside human staff at the Selwyn Retirement Village in Pt Chevalier, where its tasks will include taking vital signs and giving reminders. The robot is on trial following a University of Auckland study into older people’s attitudes towards robot helpers…. READ ARTICLE

Free Webcasts on Disability and Obesity

Thursday, December 3, 2009, 2-3:30 p.m. (Central): Documenting Disparities in Obesity and Disability presented by James Rimmer, PhD, Center on Health Promotion Research for Persons with Disabilities, University of Illinois at Chicago, and Margaret Campbell, PhD, National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, US Department of Education. This is the first of a two-part series on disparities research focusing on the disparities in obesity people with disabilities experience, potential consequences of those disparities, and efforts to include disability as a diversity factor in federal and community health-promotion programs. The second webcast will be an interactive session about what can be done about these disparities. Register here.

Disability Adds to the Burdens of Joblessness

By Marcia Heroux Pounds © Sun-Sentinel, Fort Lauderdale, Florida — So you’re having trouble finding a job. That’s understandable in this economy, but consider if you were in a wheelchair with spina bifida and you were looking for a job. Or you were blind or deaf. A disability does not discourage Isaiah Woon, 29, from looking for work in architectural drafting. He recently graduated from Sheridan Vocational in South Florida. His wheelchair is not an obstacle to working — all he needs is his work table lowered, says Woon, who was at a recent job fair for the disabled at Nova Southeastern University. Obstacles to finding work are nothing new for the disabled. They have to build their skills and network to find a job like any other candidates. But they have the extra tasks of persuading an employer that it is not too expensive or difficult to employ someone with a disability. The disabled can distinguish themselves as survivors who are persistent and creative…. READ ARTICLE

Survivor, the Disabled Version Comes to U.K. TV

By Catherine Mayer © TIME, LONDON — To television executives depressed over the dwindling audiences for reality TV shows and looking for ways to reinvigorate the once hugely profitable genre, the following pitch might be compelling. “We’ve got this great show for you. We’re going to take six strangers and strand them somewhere really remote; we’ll film them as they struggle to survive. You say it’s already been done — there’s I’m a Celebrity–Get Me Out of Here! and Survivor and, here in Britain, Castaway. But here’s the twist: our participants will be … disabled! Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Cast Offs, a uniquely challenging reality TV show.” As the scale of that unique challenge dawns on the contestants in the hours after they are deposited on a lonely island, one of the castoffs coins a more succinct description of the show. “This is going to be Lord of the Flies on crack,” says Tom. The blind, pathologically lazy 38-year-old is half right…. READ ARTICLE

Disabled workers lose jobs as factory is shut down

© The Daily Record, Scotland — Dozens of blind and disabled workers were left jobless yesterday as the doors closed on their factory after more than 160 years. Devastated staff at the Glencraft furniture factory were told to pack their things after the firm went into administration. The company have blamed the withdrawal of Aberdeen City Council’s funding because of budget cuts. The 51 employees, some of whom have worked at the firm for more than 40 years, said an emotional private farewell to each other in the works canteen…. READ ARTICLE

Disabled users will be in Windows Seventh heaven

By David Banes © Computing.co.uk — The release of Windows 7 has been widely welcomed as a big step forward from Vista. But the benefits extend beyond obvious improvements, as it greatly enhances accessibility for disabled users…. READ ARTICLE

Site simplifies text for students with disabilities

© eSchoolNews.com — A new national online database is making it easier and quicker for college students with print-related disabilities, including blindness or dyslexia, to obtain the alternative textbooks they need for their academic courses. The AccessText Network contains more than 300,000 textbook and novel titles available in alternative formats. To date, more than 650 colleges and universities have enrolled. The Association of American Publishers (AAP) developed the database in conjunction with the Alternative Media Access Center (AMAC) at the University of Georgia. The membership-based online system provides quick access to information about publishers’ course materials and expedites how institutions can request electronic versions of course materials for students with print disabilities or obtain permission to scan these course materials…. READ ARTICLE

A glimpse of the future: Robots aid Japan’s elderly residents

By Calum MacLeod © USA Today, TOKYO — It looks like a scene from Robocop or one of the Terminator movies: A human steps into a sleek robot suit and is miraculously transformed, suddenly capable of astonishing feats of strength. But this is no sci-fi film — it’s a promotional video by Cyberdyne, a Japanese electronics company. It shows an elderly male patient with Parkinson’s disease being strapped into a robotic skeleton that, using sensors attached to the wearer’s skin, reacts to nerve impulses and moves its “arms” and “legs” accordingly…. READ ARTICLE

Poverty and disability greatly correlated, new study shows

© MCT News Service/Allentown Morning Call, Pennsylvania — Hard economic times are even harder when you have a disability. But poverty and disability don’t have to be synonymous if we design our policies well. A new report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (a Washington-based think tank) titled “Half in Ten” states that almost 50 percent of working-age adults who experience poverty for at least a 12-month period have one or more disabilities. People with disabilities, the report says, account for a larger share of those experiencing poverty than people in all other minority, ethnic and racial groups combined and are even a larger group than single parents. The extra costs associated with living with a disability such as purchasing expensive equipment like wheelchairs and catheters or obtaining specialized medical attention keep many disabled people and their families in poverty, the report notes…. READ ARTICLE

In Ethiopia disabled people get jobs, not hand-outs

By Emmanuel Goujon © AFP, ADDIS ABABA — In the streets of the Ethiopian capital hundreds of disabled people beg, some from makeshift wheelchairs, the less fortunate dragging themselves on their hands from car to car. Disabled people are seldom taken care of by institutions here; mostly they are either left to their own devices on the street or kept behind closed doors because their families are ashamed of them. “The traditional perception is that a child with disabilities is the result of a curse, or the work of the devil,” said Fantahun Melles, who heads the International Labour Organization’s programmes for the disabled in Ethiopia. “The situation is worse in the countryside than in the cities. Generally speaking, people think the only place for a disabled person is in the street to beg or in front of a church, otherwise they are … segregated from the community, which can lead to serious mental disorders,” he told AFP. The ILO has set up a programme, with funding from Ireland, in an attempt to reintegrate disabled people into society through training courses, raising awareness and encouraging solidarity among disabled people…. READ ARTICLE