What are we talking about?

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What are we talking about?

This week I researched high and low in order to keep you updated on current events in the community of people with disabilities. Hope you enjoy!

1. The Smithsonian Institution, in Washington, D.C., will host an exhibit of artwork created by people with disabilities this fall. The exhibit was arranged by VSA, the international organization of arts and disability founded by Jean Kennedy Smith, and the artwork was chosen by a committee of art professionals. The show will contain work from fifteen different artists, ages sixteen to twenty-five, using various mediums. The contributing artists will receive a share of $60,000. The exhibit will be housed in the S. Dillon Ripley Center of the Smithsonian from the beginning of October through January 5th, 2014. Following the showcase at the Smithsonian, the exhibit will be featured in other galleries and museums throughout America.

Read more at “Smithsonian To Spotlight Artists With Disabilities” on DisabilityScoop.

2. This November, a ruling by a federal judge has found New York City’s plans in case of emergency to be in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. According to U.S. District Court Judge Jesse Furman, while the city’s efforts to ensure its peoples’ safety in the event of an emergency are applaudable, the current plans still leave close to 900,000 New Yorkers in danger. The faults in the emergency plans were exposed last year, when despite New York City’s reputation for being able to keep their citizens safe during disasters, Superstorm Sandy saw many people with disabilities left behind, trapped in the city in the wake of the tragedy. One such person was Melba Torres, a New Yorker with cerebral palsy, who uses a wheelchair. With only a three-hour notice of evacuation, Torres did not have enough time to arrange accessible transporation.  As a result, Torres and her aid were left stranded in her 8th story apartment for six days following the storm. Describing the event, Torres stated, “We were still [there]. The elevators had been shut down so, at that point I was thinking, ‘Oh dear God, how am I going to come down?’…I was really afraid.” Torres was part of the lawsuit claiming that the emergency plans for New York City failed to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, which protects people with disabilities’ right to equal access to programs and amenities. Torres and the other participants in the lawsuit are delighted with their victory. According to Susan Dooha of the Center for Independence of the Disabled in New York, and one of the plaintiffs in the case, “The next time there’s an emergency, [New Yorkers with disabilities] have a shot of surviving. They have a shot at being included. They have a shot of mattering in the city of New York”.

To learn more about the impact of this ruling, see Disability Galaxy article, Court rules that NYC emergency plans violate the ADA, and visit “Ruling On NYC Disaster Plans For Disabled May Have Far Reach” on wvxu.org.

3. This November, the Senate is gathering to discuss ratifying the treaty known as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities, or CRPD. The pact includes the same rights for people with disabilities as in the Americans with Disabilities Act. Currently, 138 countries have ratified the treaty, however, that list does not include the United States. Ratification of the treaty wouldn’t require any adjustments to current United States laws due to the rigor of existing American laws ensuring the rights of people with disabilities. Last December, the Senate failed to ratify the treaty by only five votes. A second vote will take place this December. The treaty has the support of Republican and Democratic Senators alike, as well as many major organizations within the United States including American businesses, veteran support groups, and disability and religious organizations.

Find more information about CRPD in the Disability Galaxy article, Senate holds hearing on disability treaty, and “Why We Need to Pass the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities” on thehill.com.

4. A new app, designed to improve the lives of people who are blind or have visual impairments, is set to be launched this December. The app, AME Sight, is being produced by the United Kingdom company AME Communicate, and was designed by its managing director, Chris Telesford. Telesford, thirty-three, was born with bilateral coloboma, a condition that caused blindness. The app will enable users to adjust pictures of documents and other texts to be easier to read, through alterations to the font size, color of the text, and text format. The app also offers the option of reading texts aloud. The app, Sight, differs from other technological aids for people who are blind because of its compact nature and portability. Of the app, Telesford stated, “One of the key aspects is that people with a disability just want to fit in with normal society…If I can make the lives of blind people and those with a visual impairment better, it would have been worth all the hard work.”

Learn more about the app at “AME Communicate Technology Allows Text to be Adapted and Understood” from The Guardian.

I’ll leave you with our quote of the week:

“Life is 10% of what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it.” – John Maxwell