Ep 91: Disabled Engineers

Disability Visibility Project: For Entire Post, Go Here…

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Today’s episode features an interview with Emily Ackerman, a doctoral candidate in chemical engineering at the University of Pittsburgh and a disabled activist. Emily will talk about how she got into chemical engineering, her advice for disabled students who want to be scientists, her experiences last year on campus with a delivery robot, and the importance of accessibility in the design and development of technology.


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The Last Children of Down Syndrome

By Sarah Zhang: For Entire Post, Go Here…

Every few weeks or so, Grete Fält-Hansen gets a call from a stranger asking a question for the first time: What is it like to raise a child with Down syndrome?

Sometimes the caller is a pregnant woman, deciding whether to have an abortion. Sometimes a husband and wife are on the line, the two of them in agonizing disagreement. Once, Fält-Hansen remembers, it was a couple who had waited for their prenatal screening to come back normal before announcing the pregnancy to friends and family. “We wanted to wait,” they’d told their loved ones, “because if it had Down syndrome, we would have had an abortion.” They called Fält-Hansen after their daughter was born—with slanted eyes, a flattened nose, and, most unmistakable, the extra copy of chromosome 21 that defines Down syndrome. They were afraid their friends and family would now think they didn’t love their daughter—so heavy are the moral judgments that accompany wanting or not wanting to bring a child with a disability into the world.

All of these people get in touch with Fält-Hansen, a 54-year-old schoolteacher, because she heads Landsforeningen Downs Syndrom, or the National Down Syndrome Association, in Denmark, and because she herself has an 18-year-old son, Karl Emil, with Down syndrome. Karl Emil was diagnosed after he was born. She remembers how fragile he felt in her arms and how she worried about his health, but mostly, she remembers, “I thought he was so cute.” Two years after he was born, in 2004, Denmark became one of the first countries in the world to offer prenatal Down syndrome screening to every pregnant woman, regardless of age or other risk factors. Nearly all expecting mothers choose to take the test; of those who get a Down syndrome diagnosis, more than 95 percent choose to abort.

Denmark is not on its surface particularly hostile to disability. People with Down syndrome are entitled to health care, education, even money for the special shoes that fit their wider, more flexible feet. If you ask Danes about the syndrome, they’re likely to bring up Morten and Peter, two friends with Down syndrome who starred in popular TV programs where they cracked jokes and dissected soccer games. Yet a gulf seems to separate the publicly expressed attitudes and private decisions. Since universal screening was introduced, the number of children born with Down syndrome has fallen sharply. In 2019, only 18 were born in the entire country. (About 6,000 children with Down syndrome are born in the U.S. each year.)

Government Affairs Update

From The Arc Michigan: For Entire Post, Go Here…


House Bill 6452 – Mental Health Transportation
The companion bill to Senate Bill 1220 was introduced by Representative Beau LaFave on November 18. Similarly, the goal of this legislation is to allow a private security company to provide court-ordered mental health transportation trips. To accomplish this, the county board can establish a Mental Health Transportation Board which consists of the County Administrator, a local peace officer, a court representative, and a mental health professional.  This panel would recommend a company to the County Board which would make the final decision. 

The legislation was introduced by Senator McBroom in response to issues he is seeing in the upper peninsula, namely that these trips can be burdensome to law enforcement. 

It was referred to the House Health Policy Committee; however, it is our understanding that this legislation will be reintroduced and see consideration in 2021.

House Resolution 324 – Whitmer Impeachment
HR 324 was introduced by Representative Beau LaFave on November 18. It directs the impeachment of Governor Gretchen Whitmer for corrupt conduct in office and crimes and misdemeanors.

At this time, there is no serious plan to consider the resolution. Speaker-elect Jason Wentworth has signaled that he does not plan to go down that road in 2021. 

Lame-Duck Agenda

The agenda for the lame-duck session is still taking shape and could be impacted by the steep rise in COVID-19 cases. Right now, we can reasonably expect that the House will consider legislation related to health care transparency and criminal justice reform, among other things. Both chambers may consider COVID-19-related legislation but what form that could take is currently unclear.

A.A. to Zoom, Substance Abuse Treatment Goes Online

By Matt Richtel: For Entire Post, Go Here…

It began as a stopgap way to get through the pandemic, but both participants and providers say virtual sessions have some clear advantages and will likely become a permanent part of recovery.

Until the coronavirus pandemic, their meetings took place quietly, every day, discreet gatherings in the basements of churches, a spare room at the YMCA, the back of a cafe. But members of Alcoholics Anonymous and other groups of recovering substance abusers found the doors quickly shut this spring, to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

What happened next is one of those creative cascades the virus has indirectly set off. Rehabilitation moved online, almost overnight, with zeal. Not only are thousands of A.A. meetings taking place on Zoom and other digital hangouts, but other major players in the rehabilitation industry have leapt in, transforming a daily ritual that many credit with saving their lives.

“A.A. members I speak to are well beyond the initial fascination with the idea that they are looking at a screen of Hollywood squares,” said Dr. Lynn Hankes, 84, who has been in recovery for 43 years and is a retired physician in Florida with three decades of experience treating addiction. “They thank Zoom for their very survival.”

Though online rehab rose as an emergency stopgap measure, people in the field say it is likely to become a permanent part of the way substance abuse is treated. Being able to find a meeting to log into 24/7 has welcome advantages for people who lack transportation, are ill, juggling parenting or work challenges that make an in-person meeting tough on a given day and may help keep them more seamlessly connected to a support network. Online meetings can also be a good steppingstone for people just starting rehab.

161. Can you sue a nursing home for wrongful death?


In Georgia, the term ‘wrongful death’ means the claims brought by family members against the party responsible for causing a death. But, who holds the claim, when can the claim be brought, and can families bring wrongful death claims against nursing homes?

In this week’s episode, we explore wrongful death  lawsuits against Georgia nursing homes.

For months, he helped his son keep suicidal thoughts at bay. Then came the pandemic.

By William Wan: For Entire Post, Go Here…

He visits the grave every day.

And every day, Ted Robbins asks himself the questions that have plagued him since the night his 16-year-old son killed himself, one month into the pandemic.

What if Robbins hadn’t canceled their family vacation? What if their school hadn’t closed down? What if his son Christian could have leaned on his best friends through this rough patch like he had in the past?

But one question haunts him the most: “What if the pandemic never happened? Would my son still be alive?”

Announcing “Access,” a Short Film About Accessibility

By Chris Higgins: For Entire Post, Go Here…

ngd-a great little piece of accessibility reality…

Today I released Access, my short documentary about accessibility. It follows Cory Joseph through a typical day, showing how he uses his smartphone, Braille display, tactile watch, and guide dog (named Vine) to navigate the world. I hope you watch it, and I hope it inspires you to make your work more accessible to more people.

I started work on this film in 2015. Yeah, it’s 2019 as I write this. I took my time.

Here’s what happened, short version: I met with a bunch of experts and interviewed them about accessibility in 2015. I wanted to understand the topic deeply, so I collected dozens of hours of footage. I tried to tease apart the related concepts of “accessibility,” “usability,” and “universal design,” and explored the technical effects of these ideas on people who made apps.

I put together a 30-minute cut featuring these interviews and showed it at a conference for accessibility professionals. While the feedback was pretty positive, it was also clear: I had accidentally made a film about accessibility professionals, rather than a film about accessibility itself and the people who benefit from it. Oops.

Buy Crip! #NotYourInspiration

By Adam F. Naughton: For Entire Post, Go Here…

Disabled People Are Not Your Inspiration!

“I use the term ‘porn’ deliberately because they objectify one group of people for the benefit of another group of people. In this case, we’re objectifying disabled people for the benefit of non-disabled people.”

— Stella Young (1982-2014)

It’s time to stop exploiting disabled people and start working together to imagine disability liberation and bring it into existence.

My vision is Stella Young’s vision.

I wanna scoot my motorized wheelchair around a world where a disabled person learning to drive a car or plant a garden or play guitar on their own is no different than any other person tackling any other challenge—not clickbait used to increase shareholder profits.

Bad news for me, though: that’s not the way it works here in the land of Late-Stage U.S. Capitalism©.

Since at least I was born (way, way back in the trickle-down ‘80s) and probably well before, we’ve been told disability is something bad which must be defeated. We’ve been raised to believe our crippled bodies are subpar and we should be pitied.

FraudWatch: Preventing Medicare Scams in the Asian American and Pacific Islander Community

From FraudWatch: For Entire Post, Go Here…


Medicare scammers attempt to get your Social Security Number for identity theft. Do not engage. Find out how to spot these con artists from Cora Tung Han, an attorney at the Federal Trade Commission. Learn more via the AARP Fraud Watch Network: https://www.facebook.com/fraudwatchne…

About the Campaign: AARP presents “#FraudWatch: Impostor Scam Prevention”, a nationwide public service announcement and storytelling initiative in collaboration with the Federal Trade Commission that empowers the Asian American & Pacific Islander community with the knowledge to defend themselves against Robocall, Medicare, and IRS scams.

Watch Preventing Robocall Scams: http://bit.ly/2J022Qo
Watch Preventing Medicare Scams: http://bit.ly/2EL0SmD

Pregnancy-Related Suicidality On the Rise, Often Going Undetected

by Elizabeth Hlavinka: For Entire Post, Go Here…

Kara Zivin, PhD, MS, MA, has spent her entire career researching mental health disorders, but that doesn’t make it any less difficult to talk about the near fatal overdose she experienced while pregnant with her son nearly a decade ago.

Zivin feared losing her credibility as a researcher who focuses on this topic. She worried about becoming a patient in the very department where she was a faculty member.

Now, Zivin is sharing her story to increase awareness of pregnancy-related mental health conditions and the risk of suicide during this vulnerable time.

Maternal mortality due to physical health risks like preeclampsia or hemorrhage have been deemed a national crisis. But maternal mental health conditions and “near-miss” suicides in the prenatal and postnatal period are often left out of this discussion, even though both are increasing among childbearing women, maternal mortality experts told MedPage Today.

“If I had cancer or diabetes it probably wouldn’t have the same level of shame and stigma, and that is another reason why I think it’s important for me to talk about it because I know I am not alone,” Zivin told MedPage Today.