Living with a disability is very expensive – even with government assistance

by Zachary Morris, Nanette Goodman and Stephen McGarity: For Complete Post, Click Here…

Edward Mitchell is 34 years old and lives in Jackson, Tennessee, with a spinal cord injury caused by a hit-and-run accident that happened when he was 17. He has plenty of expenses that all Americans have, like groceries and utilities. But to maintain his independence, he also has to pay for home modifications to accommodate his wheelchair, personal nursing care, dictation tools to help him write and adjustments to his car so he can drive himself to work.

He is just one of the 20 million working-age adults living with disabilities in the U.S., for whom it takes more money to make ends meet because of the additional expenses they face every day.

In a recent working paper published with the National Disability Institute, a nonprofit organization that works to build a better financial future for people with disabilities and their families, we estimated the amount of extra costs associated with living with a disability for Americans ages 18 to 69 years old.

Using data from four nationally representative surveys, we found that adults with disabilities require, on average, 28% more income to achieve an identical standard of living as a household of the same size and income where no one has disabilities—and that’s on top of what is already covered and provided by government programs offering disability benefits. At the median U.S. income level, that amounts to an additional US$17,690 per year.

State Disability Maps

From Mathematica: For Complete Post, Click Here…

Disability Prevalence and Participation in Social Security Administration Programs Among Working-Age Adults in 2018

In this interactive map, we highlight state- and county-level variation in disability prevalence and participation rates in the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (DI) programs among working-age adults (ages 18 to 64) in 2018.

Use the drop-down options below to select a series (disability prevalence, SSI participation rate, or DI participation rate) and a state of interest. To compare a county-specific statistic to its state-level result, select a state and then hover over the counties on the map or download the data.

Chronic Viral Infections Can Have Lasting Effects on Human Immunity, Similar to Aging

From Neuroscience News: For Complete Post, Click Here…

ngd- I imagine this will also be true of long-hauler Covid-19 experience…

Summary: Chronic viral infections have a profound and lasting impact on the immune system in a similar way to aging. Chronic inflammation that occurs as a result of immune system dysregulation is often seen in diseases associated with aging.

“Chronic inflammation stemming from immune system dysfunction is associated with many of the diseases of aging,” says David Furman, PhD, Buck Institute associate professor and senior author of the paper. “Whether chronic viral infection contributes to age-associated immune dysfunction is still an open question, but studies of this type provide a way to start getting answers. At this point it’s clear that both aging and chronic viral infections leave profound and indelible marks on immunity.”

The difference between acute and chronic viral infections

In acute viral infections the body is usually able to clear the offending agent and the immune system (in the best-case scenario) produces antibodies that protect against similar infections – think of common colds and seasonal flus. But there are viruses, in addition to HIV and HCV, which can remain alive, setting up “host-parasite housekeeping” in the body, in some cases without people being aware of them.

Furman says depending on geographic location, 70 to 90% of the population is infected with cytomegalovirus, which is harmless in healthy individuals and is only problematic for pregnant women or those with compromised immune systems. Various herpes viruses (which cause genital herpes, cold sores, chicken pox/shingles, and mononucleosis) can also lead to chronic infections.

“Each of us has our own virome; it’s the collection of the viral infections you have during your lifespan,” Furman says. “You probably have been infected by 12 or 15, or even more viruses that you never knew you had. Fortunately technology now exists that allows us to profile these infections in the human population; it is helping us move these types of inquiries forward.”

Furman says this study is the first to fully incorporate the concept of systems immunology and holistically analyze the immune system using the same technological platforms across different cohorts of patients.

These 3 tech visionaries are reinventing the wheelchair

By Sean Fleming: For Complete Post, Click Here…

  • There are 131 million wheelchair users worldwide.
  • Mass-market wheelchair design has changed little in the past four decades.
  • Applying the latest digital technology can help improve mobility, safety and accessibility.
  • From digital twinning to smart chairs, here are three designs reinventing the wheelchair.

Today, there are around 131 million wheelchair users around the world. Most are relying on the same decades-old technology to get around. That’s because the wheelchair, for all that it has done to improve the quality of people’s lives, has changed little over the course of the past generation.

Until now.

The digital technologies shaping the Fourth Industrial Revolution also have the potential to make substantial improvements to people’s quality of life. Here are three tech-driven start-ups and entrepreneurs working to bring the power of digital transformation to bear on the wheelchair.

The self-driving wheelchair

An accessory with accessibility in mind

3D printing a smart wheelchair

Morphic makes computers easier to use.

From MOrphic: For Complete Post, Click Here…

Morphic helps you discover features in computers that make them easier to use.

Many features are built into computers that are not well known or too hard to find.  Morphic exposes them and makes them easy and convenient to use.

Morphic makes built-in  features much easier to find and makes your most frequently used functions available any time with the simple click of a button – all of them conveniently located on the MorphicBar.

Text Size

For people who find the text on the screen too small, Morphic’s text size button lets them change the size of the text on screen with a simple click.  Anyone  can easily adjust up or down to match their needs.  And Morphic remembers, so when each person signs in – the computer will automatically adjust to their text size …  and change back when they sign out.


For those who have trouble seeing things just some of the time, a magnifier is provided.  A single click will bring up an on-screen magnifier that can be used to examine whatever is too small.  Another single click and it is gone.

For people with very low vision this same button can be used to activate a full-screen or even a docked magnifier as an assistive technology.

SNIP Button

Many people find it useful to be able to grab a picture of some or all of the screen in order to paste it into an email or paper they are writing.  A few examples include – students wanting to clip things to add to school reports, seniors clipping coupons, anyone wanting to paste information into email, and people wanting to capture a strange error message on the computer to ask for help.  Again, both Windows and Mac have a feature that does this, but they are hard to find and their special key combinations are hard to remember.  

Morphic provides a simple SNIP button to make this easy.  Press the button, select the area of the screen you want to copy, and then paste it into any email or document you wish.   Morphic puts this handy feature in the reach of everyone, including people who are not adept at using computers or cannot remember special key combinations.

Read Selected Text

For people who have trouble reading, or trouble reading text for a long time, Morphic provides a “Read Selected Text” feature that will read text aloud. 

11 Things Autistic People Say Can Trigger a Meltdown

By Ellen Stumbo: For Complete Post, Click Here…

Many people on the autism spectrum experience meltdowns, and contrary to the negative stereotypes out there, meltdowns are not a behavior issue that require an intervention, but coping tools and accommodation. They are a normal reaction to feeling flooded in an overwhelming environment that is usually not designed to take into account the needs of neurodiverse people.

Maxine Share, a self-advocate and autism expert consultant, emphasized that unlike what people may perceive, autistic meltdowns are not behavior issues. They can be the result of sensory overload, pent up emotions or difficulty with changes. When the body and mind are unable to process what is taking place — and some individuals do experience physical pain from too much sensory input — kicking, crying, screaming or “shutting down” can happen during a meltdown.

It’s important to understand what can trigger one in the first place, from overstimulation or uncomfortable social situations.The Mighty reached out the the experts — actually autistic individuals — to share what triggers their meltdowns. When we better understand our neurodiverse friends, then we can learn to better support their needs in the moment.

The Vicious Cycle of Rare Disease and Mental Health

By Katy Baker: For Complete Post, Click Here…

Rare disease affects approximately 1 in 15 people worldwide, according to the World Health Organization; within this approximately 69% have reported having depression and 82% have reported experiencing anxiety and stress. This is no surprise to me due to both my own experience and some of my friends’ experiences. However, mental health diagnosis due to rare disease is much more complicated than it sounds.

My mental health “journey” began in January 2018 when I was experiencing low mood, lack of motivation and some really confusing thoughts. I had visited my GP at University once who recommended counseling. I went to a couple of sessions, but found at the time the structure of those sessions was not right for me because it was not about getting over the problem, it was about acknowledging the thoughts and coping with them. After things hadn’t improved, I went back to my GP who gave me some antidepressant medication. Fast forward to after I told my parents about how I was struggling and on to my third type of antidepressant medication and some difficult times along the way, I am now receiving therapy from someone who I really trust and who is really supportive of me. However, I wanted to write this to show that you are not alone. Below are some of the muddling thoughts I have experienced to remind you that these feelings are totally OK and valid to have.

Overlooked No More: Kitty Cone, Trailblazer of the Disability Rights Movement

By Wendy Lu: For Complete Post, Click Here…

Shunned in school because of her disability, she devoted her life to the cause, organizing a historic sit-in that led to landmark federal legislation.

It wasn’t long after Kitty Cone had enrolled at the Mount Vernon Seminary in Washington that she felt the grip of discrimination.

Cone walked with a cane, and the headmistress of the seminary, a private women’s school, began imposing strange rules that segregated her from the rest of the student body. For instance, she demanded that Cone bathe in a separate tub outside of the suite that she shared with three other girls. But the tub was so big that she struggled to get out of it, so she just used the one in her suite. Another time, she was barred from attending a school activity, but she went anyway. Those acts got her expelled.

“For a variety of reasons, the headmistress threw me out, but all having to do with disability,” Cone said in an interview for the University of Illinois archives in 2009. “I think she was worried about liability, looking back on it, because she gave me these prohibitions.”

White House faces new pleas to avert ‘tidal wave’ of water shut-offs as state bans continue to lapse

By Tony Romm, Jeff Stein, and Alyssa Fowers: For Complete Post, Click Here…

Billions of dollars in coronavirus stimulus aid have yet to reach families facing back-due utility bills, worrying experts and lawmakers in Michigan and across the country.

Michigan residents who are behind on their water bills could see their taps start to run dry in five days, once a state shut-off ban instituted at the height of the coronavirus pandemic expires. But Monica Lewis-Patrick said she isn’t waiting around for that to happen.

The 55-year-old Detroit-based activist leaped into action last week, purchased about 68,000 water bottles and set in motion a plan to truck them to families across the state out of a fear that other government aid may not reach them in time.

“There is no policy, no safety, after March 31, from seeing massive numbers of people at risk,” said Lewis-Patrick, president of We the People of Detroit, a community advocacy organization.

But the wave of potential water shut-offs in Michigan reflects a broader, national crisis in the making: Utility protections enacted in the early months of the pandemic are slated to expire in some states — including Hawaii, New York, Pennsylvania and Vermont — over the next few weeks. The looming lapses have registered new urgent alarm among congressional lawmakers and community activists nationwide, who say the Biden administration should have acted faster, and sooner, to distribute federal aid to households at risk.

Work at Home/Telework as a Reasonable Accommodation

From USEEOC: For Complete Post, Click Here…

Many employers have discovered the benefits of allowing employees to work at home through telework (also known as telecommuting) programs. Telework has allowed employers to attract and retain valuable workers by boosting employee morale and productivity. Technological advancements have also helped increase telework options. President George W. Bush’s New Freedom Initiative emphasizes the important role telework can have for expanding employment opportunities for persons with disabilities.

Not all persons with disabilities need – or want – to work at home. And not all jobs can be performed at home. But, allowing an employee to work at home may be a reasonable accommodation where the person’s disability prevents successfully performing the job on-site and the job, or parts of the job, can be performed at home without causing significant difficulty or expense.

This fact sheet explains the ways that employers may use existing telework programs or allow an individual to work at home as a reasonable accommodation.