BREAKING NEWS ON DISABILITY & HEALTH ISSUES     

NEWS ARCHIVE 2009

Study: Disabled 50% More Likely Crime Victims
The first study of its kind by the U.S. Department of Justice finds that instances of violence against persons with disabilities are 1.5 times the rate of those without disabilities, and females had a higher victimization rate. After you check the report, scroll further down this page for our Issues coverage on hate crimes against disabled persons and watch our 'DisAble The Dis' video.

Click here to read the full report >>



 Cellphones Cause Cancer Tumors
New reports from EMF Collaborative of doctors, scientists and activists conclude that the risks from, and evidence of, cellphones causing brain tumors are under reported, with children being at greatest risk.

Click here for more coverage >>


 Multiple Sclerosis Breakthrough
Canadian scientists completely reverse Multiple Sclerosis in laboratory mice by  combining individual proteins that suppress the immune system and put the disease into complete remission.

Click here for more coverage >>


 Alzheimer's Disease Breakthrough
Cited as the biggest advance in 15 years, a team of scientists from Britain and France discover three genes that could help them develop a cure for the memory-robbing disease.

Click here for more coverage >>

Tooth Helps To Restore Sight
We've reported before on the same procedure used in the UK, and now a woman in the United States sees again for the first time in nine years after one of her teeth is shaped to hold an artificial lens.

Click here for more coverage >>

        




TOP 20 QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ABOUT H1N1 : What You Need To Know >>>>>>>>>>>


> H1N1 TO EXPLODE: WHO says under-equipped developing nations at greatest risk

> WARNING ABOUT H1N1 TESTS: CDC study finds quick-test kits wrong at least half the time

> WARNING ABOUT TAMIFLU FOR KIDS: Little help and side-effects may outweigh benefit




  ABC  |  BBC  |  CNN  |  CBS  |  FOX  |  HUFFINGTON POST  |  MSNBC  |  NEWSWEEK  |  TIME














       

       














       





> Chronic back pain and genetic lung disease may have taken their toll on the King of Pop
> Did operating room anesthetic kill Michael Jackson? And how was he able to get it?
> Few survive cardiac arrest, even if CPR is administered at the scene
> Michael Jackson planned to include disabled performers in the London O2 concerts
> Spotlight on painkillers: FDA advisers seek new dosage limits for acetaminophen



> ALERT: H1N1 FLU MORE DANGEROUS THAN FIRST THOUGHT - Greater risk of pneumonia

> World Health Organization Warning: Global spread of H1N1 now considered 'UNSTOPPABLE'
> More cases in Curaçao: Results pending from lab tests at Erasmus University in Rotterdam
> State of Emergency declared in Buenos Aires: Only Mexico and USA have higher death toll
> Doctors warn against 'Swine Flu Parties' as a way to build immunity to H1N1







> Insulin medication stolen in U.S. and resurfaces in other states: Warning from manufacturer
      



    


































  

  
 

      

Remembering Ben Underwood: The Blind Boy Who Could 'See'
Ben's story has been chronicled on our website for some time now, and it's with great sadness we have to report on his passing. Ben inspired people around the world with his journey, from the cancer that robbed him of his eyes as a toddler, to his self-discovery of 'echolocation'. We've created 'A Tribute to Ben' here to the boy Steve Wonder called "a prince of love".
Special Report: The Hope Of Stem Cells
There is Breaking News on results achieved through stem cell implant operations on two boys who've regained vision, as well as advances in other areas of disability. You can find full and ongoing coverage here.

'SNL' Does It Again: The NBC 'Comedy' Show Again Mocks Legally Blind N.Y. Governor
Are they doing it for publicity or do they just not get it? Read the latest and a very on-target Op Ed piece here.

Disabled Getting Sub-Standard Care:  Doctor Discomfort, Insensitivity & Inadequate Pay Cited
A new study by a Massachusetts advocacy group, "Left Out in the Cold: Health Care Experiences of Adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities in Massachusetts,"paints a picture of archaic attitudes and problems.
Read the latest on the report here.




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Stevie Wonder Opens Eyes For Tech Designers On Needs Of The Blind


AP photo by Ronda Churchill
 Stevie Wonder and visually-impaired tech pioneer Mike May are calling on all 'gadget designers' to quit leaving blind and low vision consumers out of the mix with touchscreen phones and other touch-enabled devices.

The pair spoke out recently at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.
Wonder said some companies had managed to make their products more accessible to the blind, sometimes without even meaning to.

He cited an iPod music player and Research in Motion's BlackBerry as gadgets he likes to use. Sendero Group President Mike May, who regained some of his sight through a stem cell transplant after 43 years of blindness, joked, "Can I ski 60 miles an hour downhill? Yes. Use a flat panel microwave? No." Sendero makes GPS navigational devices that have an audio output for the blind.

While blind users can buy screen-reading software for $300 upward, it tends to only work on certain phones, often the most expensive smartphones. Mike May said accessible technology is often expensive, and about 70 percent of the U.S. blind population is unemployed.

Click on the image below to see and hear Stevie Wonder's comments at CES.



Additional links:

> Stevie Wonder on vision-free design

> Stevie Wonder: Touch-screens Alienate Blind
> Mike May: The Man Who Dared To See
> Mike May Regains Some Sight After 43 Years Of Blindness

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New Pocket Device Translates Text Into Sign Language

Deaf & hearing impaired consumers will soon have their own gadget that will translate text into sign language. The pocket 'Sign Language Translator by Krown' will be available sometime early this year priced around $200. The Translator  does just what its name implies: it takes the words you feed into it and, on its modestly sized touchscreen, plays a video of the proper hand sign. If you type in "happy," for instance (or one of 3,500 other words), a video plays and in a matter of seconds just about anyone could effectively communicate with the deaf or anyone using sign language.
"This is quite honestly the coolest application of a pocket dictionary we've seen in a long time. Looking up foreign words is just as helpful, but the Sign Language Translator could help the average person as well as caretakers, parents and friends of those who have lost their hearing."




Additional links:

> Original article and photos at DVICE
> Free Online American Sign Language Translator

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LWF Awareness Campaign Launched

The Laura And Wagner Foundation (LWF) recently launched its multi-media Awareness Campaign with the placing of billboards in English and Papiamentu in Curaçao, the establishment of its online MediaCenter at LauraAndWagner.com, and the initial presence of its iAbility initiative at LauraAndWagner.net



The Awareness Campaign is made possible, in part, by a grant from the Samenwerkende Fondsen Nederlandse Antillen en Aruba, and billboard location courtesy of Ascend Motors Curaçao.

The billboards are designed to gather support for improved access rights for anyone on the island or other islands in the Netherlans Antilles and Aruba who uses a guide or assistance dog, whether they be a resident or visiting tourist.  They are also designed for rush-hour reading to raise awareness about the petition effort to gather public support for access legislation to allow disabled persons with these dogs to enter all the places non-disabled people are allowed to go. At present there are no Anti Discrimination laws or Equal Access Laws for persons with disabilities or their guide/assistance dogs in Curaçao and the Netherlands Antilles.



The billboards are located on Santa Rosaweg and Winston Churchillweg.

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LWF MobAbility Campaign Launched



How would you feel if your car broke down and was going to be in the repair shop for two weeks or more? How would you get around? How would you feel about having to ask family or friends to get out all the time?


Yes, taking a bus or a taxi might be an option, but what if you couldn’t afford it, or didn’t see well or walk well, and if you used a guide dog, the drivers wouldn’t let you take it with you.

Now imagine if you had to face that situation every day and you get a sense of the reality for persons with disabilities on Curaçao.

The Laura And Wagner Foundation (LWF) is expanding its efforts to raise awareness about the social and mobility obstacles facing disabled children and adults in Curaçao and throughout the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba.

Founder and Vice-Chairman, Laura de Haseth Meddens recently met with Mrs. Janule Jansen of the Stichting Bureau Ziektekostenvoorzieningen (BZV) to discuss the need for improved resources for disabled persons who are socially isolated and stuck at home because they are always dependent on others to get out and around.

It is a situation Laura has experienced first hand. Through her own initiative, she was able to get a guide dog from The Seeing Eye in the United States, and because she lived in a neighbourhood in Curacao that had sidewalks, Laura was able to become more independent. That was the initial motivation behind her formation of the Foundation that bears her name and that of her faithful guide dog Wagner: to help other disabled people gain more independence of mobility with the use of a guide or assistance dog.

But Laura learned that many of the people who could use a dog like Wagner live in neighbourhoods that don’t have sidewalks or proper intersections with traffic lights, and that many of the pathways they could use are usually littered with garbage (like chicken bones that are deadly for dogs) and broken glass, or are too dangerously close to traffic.

So until the infrastructure on the island is greatly improved, more practical alternatives are needed to enable better mobility options for disabled people.

One of the ideas discussed between the LWF and the BZV is to create a special mobility card that would allow disabled persons and a companion to take a taxi or bus for free on a predetermined number of occasions per month.   The BZV is willing to consider administrating the program with the LWF responsible for raising awareness and funds for the program.

As Laura herself has experienced with a similar program in the Netherlands, it allows the house-bound person to call a relative or friend up and say, “Can I take YOU out”, whether it’s for a coffee, to get some groceries or go out for dinner, rather than saying, “Can you please take me out”, which can be psychologically and emotionally wearing over time. Laura says, “Most people with a disability hate being a burden to family and friends, and won’t ask other people for help. A program like this is a more pro-active and practical way to help end their social isolation, while allowing them to maintain some dignity and independence.”

To that end, The Laura And Wagner Foundation is launching awareness and fundraising effort for the “MobAbility” program. LWF Chairman Reyna Joe and Treasurer Tesha Yung will be consulting with the BZV on the number of people who would benefit by such a program, and to calculate the amount of funds needed to support it.

The Foundation recently launched the billboard portion of their awareness campaign lobbying for access legislation for guide and assistance dogs to allow locals and tourists who rely on such service animals to access any public places non-disabled people go.

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Leading Edge Eye Research Brings New Hope From Aachen, Germany



Sometimes there is no telling what twists and turns the road ahead may bring, and that was certainly the case for LWF Founder Laura de Haseth Meddens when traveling the road that took her to one of the leading research centers in the world in the area of Opthalmology.



She learned of the work being done by Prof. Dr. Peter Walter and his teams at the RWTH University Hospital Eye Clinic. Prof. Dr. Walter had been contacted on two fronts: Laura's eye pressure had been dropping because of an injury, and she wanted to meet and interview him about the research being done at their clinic.

                   

Prior to their appointment, Prof. Dr. Walter advised about injections of Healon GV, which is a vitreous substitute for the eye's gel-like internal fluid, and in their subsequent meeting, and Laura's eye examination, he discovered that her retina was detached and also torn, a condition that required immediate attention.


     
Laura de Haseth Meddens at the University Hospital in Aachen, and enjoying a walk in the beautiful fields that surround the complex.
                  
Three days later, Laura returned to the University Hospital for surgery to reattach the retina. Prof. Dr. Walter had also noticed, during the examination, that there was a large piece of scar tissue, in the form of an opaque membrane, that was covering the center part of her eye and partially obstructing her central field of vision. He wouldn't be able to tell if he could remove it, or how much, until he was in the operating room, and after very careful evaluation, was able to meticulously cut around the edge of it and remove it entirely.

    

Then Laura's eye was injected with a heavy silicone oil which helps keep pressure on the retina while it reattaches, and when it is eventually removed, likely in late January, it will then become evident whether Laura's vision will be improved. While the heavy oil is in the eye, the refractive power is similar to looking through a bottle of olive oil, but Laura herself has noticed her ability to see a little more detail in certain things at a close distance with every day that passes.

     

If the surgery wasn't done, it was very likely that Laura would have lost what little vision she had left. She is very grateful to Prof. Dr. Walter and his staff and the nurses at the University Hospital for their professional and compassionate treatment. Laura also wants to thank Prof. Dr. Stanley Chang who is the Edward S. Harkness Professor and Chairman of Opthalmology at Columbia University in New York who also contributed insight into the use of Healon GV as a result of studies he and his research teams conducted.

Laura also is grateful for the ongoing support of her eye specialists, Prof. Dr. Mark Tilanus in Nijmegen in the Netherlands, and Dr. Jan Derek Ferwerda in Curaçao, as her journey of healing continues.

The interview with Prof. Dr. Walter and the video of the operation will be used in the documentary, "Opening Eyes and Opening Doors - The Journey of Laura And Wagner".

For more information about the leading edge research being done in Aachen, please visit the links below.

> UAA Welcome Page

> UAA Research Groups
> University Hospital Aachen



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Raising Awareness Through Artistic Expression




Hanneke van der Hout-Floor, like many other people, learned about the incredible journey of LWF Founder Laura de Haseth Meddens through an article in a local newspaper on the island of Curaçao. And like many people, she was moved enough by what Laura and Wagner and the Foundation are trying to achieve that she wanted to help in some way. And so she took pencils and pastels in hand and has been sketching portraits to raise funds for the Laura And Wagner Foundation.

 

As she states on her website, art has been her passion for over 40 years under her professional name J.C. Floor, and she has truly been a citizen of the world. Born in the Netherlands, Hanneke has lived and traveled through many countries , always inspired by people, cultures and nature. Her paintings, ceramics and sculptures reflect her journeys through Canada, the United States, France, Italy, Norway and many other places, including the island she and her husband now call home . . . Curaçao.

      

Laura and the members of the Board of Directors of The Laura And Wagner Foundation are grateful for Hanneke's initiative and the funds she is raising, but most appreciate the awareness she is raising. If you would like to commission a portrait in support of The Laura And Wagner Foundation, you can call Hanneke at +599 9 888 6002 or email info@hannekefloor.com . You can also make inquiries about purchasing other pieces of her art at the same number and email address.

Related Links:

> Hanneke Floor's Website

> Hanneke Floor Exhibitions

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The Side Effects of Recession May Prove Costly To Vision Health



The credit crunch could mean more people going blind as they avoid eye checks to save money, warns a charity.

Action for Blind People found over a quarter of 2,350 adults polled had not had an eye test in the past two years, and of those 30% blamed cost. The charity says a million UK people have sight loss that could have been prevented.

At around £24, the cost of a check-up is a small price to pay compared to losing your sight, it says.

Experts say the maximum time a person should go between tests should be two years - unless advised otherwise by an optician.

> Read the full story at BBC News.




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Did NBC's Comedy Institution Cross The Line From Satire to Scorn?




Advocates for the blind piled on NBC and "Saturday Night Live" , seeing red about a sketch that mocked New York State Gov. David Paterson's handicap. Four separate national organizations called for "30 Rock" suits and "SNL" creator Lorne Michaels to apologize for a Fred Armisen "Weekend Update" bit.

From the New York Post:

Registered nurse Tara Cortes, president and CEO of Lighthouse International, said the show should take a minute to apologize on air. "We applaud the courage it takes every day for people who are blind and visually impaired to live productively and effectively," said Cortes, who runs that group that advocates for the blind and vision health issues. "Saturday Night Live" has taken a cheap shot at that courage. They should issue an on-air apology."

In the "Weekend Update" sketch, Armisen's Paterson was disoriented, used an upside-down chart and wandered aimlessly in front of a camera. Gov. Paterson said in Albany that he can take a joke - but accused "SNL" of going too far in mocking blind people.

Paterson is legally blind. The governor has aides help him with some tasks, but he generally moves about a room with command of his surroundings. "The perception that disability equals an inability to be responsible is totally wrong," Paterson said.

"Now the number of people in America that have disabilities that are working is only 37 percent,  so when you have an unemployment rate that is 10 times the national average it's very noteworthy."

Carl Augusto, president and CEO of the American Foundation for the Blind, said "SNL" is better than stock blind jokes.Augusto was particularly peeved that "SNL" took a shot at Paterson, who is known for his self-effacing humor.

"It is difficult to understand why 'SNL,' a show known for its clever, political satire, would take cheap shots at people with disabilities instead of coming up with better material - especially when mimicking a politician known for his sense of humor," Augusto said.

Executive Producer Lorne Michaels and "SNL" staffers, through an NBC spokesman, refused to comment on the avalanche of criticism.

Advocates for the blind fear employers will be hesitant to hire the visually impaired because of the "SNL" mockery.

"Convincing employers to give disabled people jobs is no joke especially in this economy," said Joseph McNulty, executive director of the Helen Keller National Center.

Another advocate for the blind asked "SNL" staffers to think of newly blinded servicemen and women wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Attacking [Gov. Paterson] because he is blind is an attack on all blind Americans, blind children, blind adults, blind seniors, and newly-blinded veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan," said Chris Danielsen, spokesman for the National Federation of the Blind.

UPDATE: FAKE 'SNL' APOLOGY

From Defamer.com:

A statement sent to Defamer purports to offer an apology from Lorne Michaels, who regrets equating NY governor David Paterson's blindness to garden-variety retardation last week on SNL. But wait, says NBC: He's not sorry!

> Read the full article @ Defamer

> More coverage and video of the skit @ msnbc.com

> Op Ed: Stereotypes Can Sting

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Disabled Children Forced Into Cell-Like School Seclusion Rooms



Public schools in the United States are now educating more than half a million more students with disabilities than they did a decade ago, according to the National Education Association. Based on conversations with officials in 22 states across the U.S. with written guidelines, seclusion is intended as a last resort when other attempts to calm a child have failed or when a student is hurting himself or others.

Michigan requires that a child held in seclusion have constant supervision from an instructor trained specifically in special education, and that confinement not exceed 15 minutes.

Connecticut education spokesman Tom Murphy said "time-out rooms" were used sparingly and were "usually small rooms with padding on the walls."

Only Vermont tracks how many children are kept in seclusion from year to year, though two other states, Minnesota and New Mexico, say they have been using the rooms less frequently in recent years.

Read the full story @ CNN and learn how one 13 year old boy in Georgia hanged himself in a so-called 'time-out cell'.

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Additional News Headlines for Q1 2009

Click on the modules below for the full story behind each headline . . .

       

       

Additional related links:

> Stem Cell Case #1
> Stem Cell Case #2
> 'Blindsight' @ Wikipedia