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. A new invention, called the Sign Language Ring, allows people who are deaf or hard of hearing to connect and converse with others. The key to the device, which was created by designers from Asia University as part of the 2013 Red Dot Design Concept Awards, is made up of several rings and bracelets worn by the user. The rings recognize the motions of sign language, which are then transmitted to the bracelets to be spoken aloud. The device also allows for a verbal response, which is then translated into text that can be viewed on the bracelets. Despite the promise of this device however, some people in the deaf community are skeptical, pointing out the complicated nature of sign language and the possibility of incorrect translations. Said Howard Rosenblum, of the National Association of the Deaf, “American Sign Language encompasses more than what would be measured in the wrist and fingers. ASL relies on wrist movements, hand shapes, finger-spelling, body movements and facial expressions. The National Association of the Deaf encourages the developers of this emerging technology to work with the deaf and hard-of-hearing community, and the hearing community, to ensure that their innovative product meets our needs”.

Read more about the new device at “New Ring Device ‘Reads’ Sign Language Out Loud” on ABC News.

2. Lately, NFL scouting attention has been on little known Adham Talaat, from Gallaudet University. Gallaudet is the only university whose programs are designed to serve the deaf and hard of hearing, and this fall Talaat, who is severely-to-profoundly deaf, is leading his Division III team to compete in the NCAA postseason – the first time for the school since it was founded in 1864. Stated his coach, Chuck Goldstein of Talaat’s recent success, “The NFL scouts came in and said, ‘Hey, you have to be dominant’, and he has done that this year. Adham dominated. He’s been double-teamed almost every play and he’s seen triple teams, which I’ve never seen here. He’s been unselfish. He’s been amazing. I know we’re never gonna have another guy like him in our program again.” At the moment, twenty-four NFL teams have sent scouts to visit Gallaudet. Yet despite his current success, Talaat’s journey through college was anything but smooth sailing. Choosing to transfer from the University of Massachusetts to his local community college, feeling it would suit him better, Talaat faced shame and disapproval from his family and friends alike. However, without the move Talaat would never have begun his 2009 communication with the coaches at Gallaudet, which was very close to his childhood home. After transferring yet again, he has never looked back. Says Talaat of his experience at Gallaudet University, “Because Gallaudet is the only university in the world exclusively for the deaf and hard of hearing, we represent all of them too. I am so proud to represent not only Gallaudet, but the Deaf community as a whole. For every person that has ever been told the words ‘Deaf people can’t do this, Deaf people can’t do that,’ we are a living example that yes, they can!”

Learn more about Talaat’s journey at “Gallaudet’s Talaat hopeful storybook journey leads him to the NFL” at CBS Sports.

3. Aaron “Wheelz” Fotheringham is a twenty-one year old who is passionate about motocross.  He was born with spinda bifida and uses a  wheelchair to get around. Using a modified wheelchair, Fotheringham has competed in multiple BMX freestyle events, as well as starring on Nitro Circus Live, an action sports show. His signature move is his double backflip,which he pioneered among athletes who use wheelchairs. According to his website, “Aaron has a passion for what he does – not only is it fun, but he wants to change the world’s perception of people in wheelchairs, as well as helping everyone see his/her own challenges in a new way.”

View a video of Aaron’s amazing skills at “Aaron ‘Wheelz’ Fotheringham, Wheelchair Freestyler, Is Defying Odds.. And Gravity” from the Huffington Post.

4. 2013 saw the beginning of a new ad campaign for UCSF Benioff’s Children’s Hospital, highlighting success stories of children who recovered from debilitating diseases. However, one ad depicted a young man running, with the statement that he “was wheelchair-bound, but now he’s up and running”. For those of you who do not know, “wheelchair-bound” is considered a negative term, because a person is not bound to a wheelchair, rather, “a wheelchair is a source of freedom and independence,” according to the National Center on Disability and Journalism. The problematic ad was quickly spotted by Angela Anderson, activist for the rights of people with disabilities, who contacted UCSF’s PR department and requested a change in the ad. Happily, Anderson and UCSF were able to negotiate a timeline for removing the ad, and by October all problematic ads had been modified to include people-first language.

Read more at “UCSF Changes Ad Wording to Respect People with Disabilities” on Angela Anderson’s WordPress.

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

“The more difficulties one has to encounter, within and without, the more significant and the higher in inspiration one’s life will be.”

– Horace Bushnell