Opinion: People With Disabilities Deserve Better Health Care. We All Do.

BY TARA LAGU: For Complete Post, Click Here…

IWAS A RESIDENT working in an underresourced health clinic when, one afternoon, my triage paper indicated that my next patient needed a Pap smear. I walked into the room and found a woman sitting in a wheelchair.

Although I smiled and tried help her feel welcome, I felt nothing but panic.

During medical school, I had not been trained to care for people with disabilities. Now a resident, I didn’t even know to ask whether the clinic had access to a height-adjustable exam table. What I did know was that, because of my lack of experience and prior training, there was no chance I could perform a Pap smear for this person today. I apologized for the inconvenience and arranged an appointment for the patient at a women’s hospital on a different day and with a different doctor.

When I became a researcher, this experience, and others like it, led me to explore the disparities in care that patients with disabilities face. Through those studies, I have come to strongly believe that these disparities aren’t just a problem for patients who need sign language interpreters or accessible tables – they’re simply some of the most egregious cases of what all patients face in the United States health care system.

In 2013, my research team and I called a random sample of doctors from four U.S. cities, each time posing as a doctor making an appointment for a patient who used a wheelchair. Of the subspecialists we called, 20 percent said they could not accommodate such a patient. Some lacked adequate training or staff or equipment; a few said that their building was simply inaccessible, even though access to health care settings is a requirement of the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA.

More recently, we conducted focus groups with physicians to better understand the barriers that exist to caring for people with disabilities. Physicians in our recent study spoke with surprising candor, revealing in some cases profound biases toward people with disabilities. Undark reported on that study in November, which described doctors who reported using excuses in order to avoid treating people with disabilities. Some told prospective patients their caseload was full, or that they didn’t accept their insurance. Others were more straightforward, and simply told patients, “I am not the doctor for you.”

The attitudes and behaviors expressed by doctors in our recent study are inexcusable, unethical, and possibly illegal under the ADA. They also highlight why many patients with disabilities struggle to find doctors who will care for them, and suggest an urgent need to address disparities in health care access and quality.

But these dramatic examples not only provide a window into the U.S. health care system’s failures towards people with disabilities — they also reveal just how broken the system is for all patients.

HEALTHCARE: ‘Smart’ Walking Stick Helps Visually Impaired Grocery Shop

By Alex McFarland: For Complete Post, Click Here…

A team of engineers at the University of Colorado Boulder are using artificial intelligence (AI) to develop a ‘smart’ walking stick for the blind or visually impaired.

The research was published in IEEE.

According to the team, the smart walking stick could eventually help blind people navigate various tasks, such as shopping at the grocery store or finding a place to sit.

Shivendra Agrawal is a doctoral student in the Department of Computer Science.

“I really enjoy grocery shopping and spend a significant amount of time in the store,” Agrawal said. “A lot of people can’t do that, however, and it can be really restrictive. We think this is a solvable problem.”

The walking stick resembles a cane, but it is a bit different. For one, it has a camera and uses computer vision technology, helping it map and catalog its environment. It can then guide users by using vibrations in the handle and with spoken directions.

The team says the device isn’t a substitute for making places more accessible, but the prototype can help millions of individuals become more independent.

“AI and computer vision are improving, and people are using them to build self-driving cars and similar inventions,” Agrawal said. “But these technologies also have the potential to improve quality of life for many people.”

Direct Care Worker and Behavioral Health Workforce Employee Discussion Group Survey

From MDHHS: For Complete Post, Click Here…

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has engaged Public Sector Consultants (PSC), a nonpartisan public policy firm based in Lansing, to conduct an analysis of Michigan’s behavioral health and direct care workforces.

PSC is conducting small-group discussions with behavioral health or direct care professionals as well as leadership at places that employ these professionals, such as hospitals, health centers, nursing homes, aging service providers, and more. Please complete this brief questionnaire and, if you qualify, you will be invited to join a 90-minute group discussion. If you are selected, you will be invited via email to participate. If you participate in one of these focus groups, you may qualify for a stipend.

‘God of War: Ragnarök’ Wins Big In Accessibility

By Frankie Negron: For Complete Post, Click Here…

The Game Awards have recognized accommodations in the gaming industry since 2020 and on Thursday night that award went to “God of War: Ragnarök.”

The Innovation in Accessibility Award was developed to honor games that ensure as many people as possible can play. This means adding in as many accessibility options to address any kind of need that could come up. The selection panel for this award is made up solely of disabled gamers.

Four other games were considered: “The Last of Us: Part 1,” “Return to Monkey Island,” “The Quarry” and “As Dusk Falls.”

“Ragnarök” had a groundbreaking list of features, more than 70 options designed to suit whatever need a player encountered. This ranged from color-coding subtitles so players would know who was saying what line, changing the size of text and color-coding enemies and allies when it came to combat. The features weren’t solely designed for visual needs, but a variety of needs.

Santa Monica Studio sought consultation from disabled gamers and advocates in order to focus on what would really help to make it accessible, not just adding subtitles and giving options to change game brightness.

Mila Pavlin, a team leader at the studio, had spoken to BBC News and explained that “it was the biggest thing that we looked out for at the beginning of the process of making the game – how to make it more accessible to more people” and pointed out to how “there were many gamers who wanted to play in 2018 but were unable to because of things like low vision, motor issues and cognitive or hearing disabilities.”

California’s power outages are a life-and-death issue

By Alice Wong: For Complete Post, Click Here…

ngd-This is a critical issue in Michigan as well. Great problems that laste dfor days to weeks happened in the 2013 ice storm…

A perspective on the impacts of storms for people with disabilities.

The terms atmospheric river and bomb cyclone were not in my vocabulary until recently. During the first two weeks of 2023, however, the San Francisco Bay Area was deluged with a series of storms. I am a disabled person who depends on power to live. When I came home after four weeks in the ICU last summer, I was tethered to a feeding machine that pumps food into my stomach, as well as to a ventilator that’s attached to a hole in my throat, among numerous other devices. The stakes for potential harm during a power outage have exponentially increased. My anxiety, vulnerability and fear are real.

Jan. 3, 2023, 10:44 p.m.: Texted my caregivers on what to do if a power outage happens while I am in bed tomorrow night. Air mattress will deflate, and I will immediately need to be transferred into my wheelchair. I will need to use my backup electric batteries for medical devices such as my suction machine, since I need to suction hourly every day.

Jan. 4, 10 a.m.: Mentally calculating how much battery life some of my machines need before needing to use my backup electric battery. My other devices do not have a built-in battery.

1 p.m.: Bookmarked the link to Pacific Gas & Electric’s (PG&E) Outage Center, so I can look up all the outages by location and report one if it happens in my neighborhood.

1:30 p.m.: Asked my father to make sure my backup electric batteries are fully charged.

2 p.m.: Let my morning caregiver leave her shift early so that she can get home safely before the brunt of the storm arrives. Did not hydrate today, because my nighttime caregiver will not arrive until 9 p.m. Worried for her, and worried for me. I hope I don’t get a full bladder.

3:02 p.m.: Tweeting information about the storm. Noticing that many weather-related Tweets do not have alt text in graphics and captions in videos that contain vital information about the storm, evacuations and road closures.

3:30 p.m.: Watching the news and scrolling Twitter. My father, who thinks I’m being an alarmist, said, “The news always exaggerates the dangers.” After living with me for decades, he still doesn’t understand.

6:01 p.m.: Pre-emptively charging some of my devices, topping them up with power tonight, just in case.

6:19 p.m.Uh-oh. My bladder feels a little full. Let’s see if I can hold on until 9-ish when my caregiver arrives. I hope she makes it.

And Much More…

Dyspraxia And Apraxia

By Jillian Enright: For Complete Post, Click Here…

ngd- This has been an issue with me over the years and seems to be worsening as I get older…

Motor and coordination issues in Autism and ADHD.

Communication is a basic human right

Humans place an unreasonable level of importance on communicating verbally, but that’s an ableist belief of superiority based on speech being the method of communication preferred by the majority of the population.

Building on my previous article, I do acknowledge the potential flaws in the rapid prompting method of communication (RPM) and Facilitated Communication (FC).

Despite some drawbacks to certain types of assisted communication methods, I’d still much prefer to support avenues which increase autonomy and options for effective communication for everyone.

Acknowledging the weaknesses of some methods will hopefully lead to improvements and thus, even better options coming about in the future.

This article isn’t about that, specifically, but it is related. Many Autistics who have unreliable speech or are non-speaking use Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC), RPM, FC, and Spelling to Communicate (S2C).

Many Autistics and people with ADHD have co-occurring conditions called dyspraxia and apraxia, which can significantly impact one’s speech, but do not impact a person’s intelligence. People seem to understand this in principle, but not in practice.

A Deaf Student Says His School District Failed Him. The Supreme Court Will Decide

By Mark Walsh: For Complete Post, Click Here…

When the U.S. Supreme Court takes up his special education and disability discrimination case on Wednesday, Miguel Luna Perez will in the courtroom. Perez, now 27, is deaf, and he will be aided in trying to understand the complex legal arguments by both a certified deaf interpreter and an American Sign Language translator.

“My case at the U.S. Supreme Court is hard for me to understand,” Luna Perez said in a statement released by his lawyers. “Part of it is about having no interpreter at Sturgis [Public Schools]. Part of it is that some judges said I can’t tell my story in court.”

The young deaf immigrant’s statement hints at a personal narrative of dashed dreams allegedly caused largely by the failures of a Michigan school district to ensure that he was being provided the educational assistance he needed to learn to communicate.

OneButtonPIN increases security for blind and low-vision tech users

From University of Waterloo: For Complete Post, Click Here…

New authentication method helps protect data from privacy attacks.

Working closely with blind and low-vision (BLV) users, researchers at the University of Waterloo and the Rochester Institute of Technology have developed a new authentication method that could help BLV technology users more securely access their devices. The new method, OneButtonPIN, allows users to input PIN codes using a single large button and a series of haptic vibrations.

People with BLV frequently express frustrations with existing authentication methods such as drawing patterns, fingerprint and face scans, and PIN codes. Some methods are difficult to use effectively without visual data. Others are vulnerable to privacy attacks.

OneButtonPIN addresses these security issues by using haptic vibrations imperceptible to outsiders. When prompted to enter a PIN code, the user presses and holds a large button on their smartphone screen. This activates a series of vibrations separated by pauses; the user counts the number of vibrations corresponding to the number they desire to enter, then releases the button and repeats the process until the desired numbers are entered.

While biometrics such as fingerprints and face scans are unique and easy to use, a person’s biometrics cannot be changed or reset, explains Stacey Watson, a lecturer in computer science and one of the researchers on the study.

“More traditional forms of entry are vulnerable due to many BLV people’s use of screen reader technology,” said Watson. “PIN users are vulnerable both to eavesdropping and shoulder surfing attacks, which is where someone nearby can observe a user’s device without their knowledge.”

Smartphone App Can Significantly Improve Memory Recall

From Neuroscience News: For Complete Post, Click Here…

Summary: A new smartphone app, dubbed HippoCamera helps to significantly improve memory recall and could have applications for improving memory for those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. The app mimics the function of the hippocampus, constructing and maintaining memories. The app enhances biological memory encoding by boosting attention to daily events and consolidating them more distinctly.

Source: University of Toronto

Researchers at the University of Toronto have demonstrated that a new smartphone application helps to significantly improve memory recall, which could prove beneficial for individuals in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of memory impairment.

Dubbed HippoCamera for its ability to mimic the function of the brain’s hippocampus in memory construction and retention, the app enhances the encoding of memories stored in the brain by boosting attention to daily events and consolidating them more distinctly—thus later enabling richer, more comprehensive recall.

In a two-step process, HippoCamera users record a short video of up to 24 seconds of a moment they want to remember with a brief eight-second audio description of the event.

The app combines the two elements just as the brain’s hippocampus would, with the video component sped up to mimic aspects of hippocampal function and to facilitate efficient review.

Users then replay cues produced by HippoCamera at later times on a curated and regular basis to reinforce the memory and enable detailed recall.

How to turn on Walking Steadiness notifications in iOS 16

By Andrew Orr; For Complete Post, Click Here…

Walking Steadiness is a helpful tool for older folks to know their risk of falling. Here’s how to turn on walking steadiness notifications in iOS 16.

Available on iPhone 8 or later and iOS 15 or later, Walking Steadiness uses algorithms to track metrics such as walking speed, step length, walking asymmetry, and double support time.

These are classified to provide an overall score of OK, Low, or Very Low to give a risk of falling during the next 12 months. In addition, the Health app provides exercises to help improve walking steadiness.

  • OK – At this level, walking steadiness is normal and there is no risk of falling in the next 12 months.
  • Low – At this level, walking steadiness has declined to a level where there is an increased risk of falling in the next 12 months.
  • Very Low – At this level, walking steadiness is very unstable, and there is a high risk of falling in the next 12 months.