In a World Run by Algorithms, Weirdness Is Our Best Weapon

By Douglas Rushkoff: For Complete Post, Click Here…

How anomalous behavior defeats the systems of social control.

The easiest way to break free of simulation is to recognize the charade and stop following the rules of the game.

No, cheating doesn’t count. Illegal insider trades and performance-enhancing drugs simply prove how far people are willing to go to win. If anything, cheating reinforces the stakes and reality of the game.

Transcending the game altogether means becoming a spoilsport — someone who refuses to acknowledge the playing field, the rules of engagement, or the value of winning. (Why win, anyway, if it’s only going to end the game?) In certain non-Western cultures, the spoilsport is the shaman, who lives apart from the tribe in order to see the larger patterns and connections. In a world where a person’s success is measured by career achievements, the spoilsport is the one willing to sacrifice commercial reward for social good. In a middle school where social media likes are the metric of popularity, the spoilsport is the kid who deletes the app or chooses not to own a phone at all. The spoilsport takes actions that make no sense within the logic of the game.

Such anomalous behavior challenges convention, breaks the conspiracy of conformity, and stumps the algorithms. A.I.s and other enforcers of social control can’t follow what they can’t categorize. Weirdness is power, dissolving false binaries and celebrating the full spectrum of possibility. Eccentricity opens the gray area where mutations develop and innovations are born.

We can assert our uniquely human sides through things like humor and pranks, music and magic — none of which can be appreciated or even understood by machines or markets. 

Justice Department Reaches Landmark Agreement with Massachusetts Department of Children and Family to Address Discrimination Against Parents with Disabilities

From DOJ: For Entire Post, Go Here…

The Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services (HHS) announced today that they reached a landmark agreement with the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF).  

The agreement resolves findings by the Justice Department and HHS that DCF discriminated against parents with disabilities in the administration of its child welfare program in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. This is the first Department of Justice settlement to address disability discrimination by a state child welfare agency.  

“The stakes are never higher than when a parent faces the possibility of losing a child,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division. “Individuals with disabilities have just as much a right to raise their children as any other person in this free country, and no government should unnecessarily infringe upon that sacred right. While child welfare agencies are faced with challenging and weighty decisions on a daily basis, they must always strive to ensure that no child is removed from a parent on the basis of unsupported stereotypes, discriminatory attitudes, or other unlawful reasons. This agreement will ensure that parents with disabilities are treated as individuals, and that they receive the supports and services they need to have an equal opportunity to retain or regain custody of their children. We believe this agreement will not only help thousands of families in Massachusetts, but also will provide a roadmap for child welfare agencies nationwide on how to treat parents with disabilities with the fairness, dignity, and respect that they deserve.” 

“Parents with disabilities should never lose custody of their children due to discriminatory assumptions about their abilities,” said Roger Severino, Director of the HHS Office for Civil Rights. “The love of a father and mother, coupled with proper support services, can overcome a multiplicity of challenges. We are pleased to have reached this great result with DOJ and Massachusetts.”

In 2015, the Department of Justice and HHS jointly found that DCF discriminated against a mother with a developmental disability and sought to terminate her parental rights to her infant daughter based on assumptions about her disability. Over the past five years, the Department of Justice and HHS received similar complaints against DCF from parents with physical, hearing, developmental, and other disabilities. The departments also received numerous complaints alleging that DCF denied requests for reasonable modifications, failed to provide interpreters to individuals with hearing impairments, and otherwise denied parents with disabilities an equal opportunity to benefit from DCF’s programs and services. The Justice Department investigated and substantiated many of these allegations, as well as allegations that DCF’s methods of administering its programs and services have the effect of discriminating against parents with disabilities.

Under today’s agreement, DCF will take critical steps to ensure the ADA’s protections extend to parents with disabilities throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. DCF will not base decisions about removal of a child on stereotypes or generalizations about persons with disabilities. Rather, DCF will base such decisions on an individualized assessment of the parent with a disability and objective facts. Additionally, DCF will appoint statewide and regional coordinators to oversee DCF’s efforts to comply with the ADA and Section 504; create a new Parents with Disabilities Policy, including processes for requesting disability-based accommodations and filing disability-based complaints; train staff on DCF’s obligations to parents with disabilities and its new policies and procedures; and periodically report to the Department of Justice and HHS on its handling of accommodation requests and disability-related complaints.

Top 5 Resources to help you write better Image Descriptions

By Ramya Venkitesh: For Entire Post, Go Here…

ngd- I desperately needed this…

80% of our learning comes from seeing and at 247 Accessible Documents, we believe image description is a basic requirement of making documents accessible. Without alternate text or image descriptions people with disabilities would not have the same access to images as you and me.

In a blog post by my colleague Leander Rodrigues, he has shared 5 tips for writing effective Alternate Text. In this blog, I would like to share 5 important resources which will help you write meaningful alternate text for your images.

  1. Diagram Center: The image description guidelines were developed by the Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family National Center for Accessible Media at WGBH (NCAM) in conjunction with the DIAGRAM Center (Digital Image And Graphic Resources for Accessible Materials) at Benetech. The reference document is broken into two main sections. The first section details best practices concerning style, language, formatting, and layout that apply to every type of image. The second section of this document presents best practices that are specific to particular image categories and classifications.
  2. Web Accessibility Tutorials by the W3C: This tutorial demonstrates how to provide appropriate text alternatives or image descriptions based on the purpose of the image. It provides an Alt Decision Tree to help you decide which category a particular image fits into and provide an image description depending on the usage, context and content of the image.
  3. TechSmith Blog: This blog by Ryan Knott explains in detail how to add alternate text to images and alternate text best practices. The blog discusses how to create alternative text for images for accessibility and SEO in a very simple and easy manner.
  4. Perkins school for the blind: The article covers important points describing the need for alternate text or image descriptions and important points to remember while writing an image description. The article also helps you understand the need for alternate text and image description and how it helps people with visual impairment.
  5. University of Minnesota: It states that alternate text should answer the question: What is the content conveyed by the image? It covers adding image descriptions in Moodle, Canvas, Microsoft Word and PowerPoint, Google Docs and Slides.

The US Access Board has a New Website

From the US Access Board: For Entire Post, Go Here…

The Access Board is an independent federal agency that promotes equality for people with disabilities through leadership in accessible design and the development of accessibility guidelines and standards.  Created in 1973 to ensure access to federally funded facilities, the Board is now a leading source of information on accessible design. 

The Board develops and maintains design criteria for the built environment, transit vehicles, telecommunications equipment, medical diagnostic equipment, and information technology.  It also provides technical assistance and training on these requirements and accessible design and continues to enforce accessibility standards that cover federally funded facilities.

The Board is structured to function as a coordinating body among federal agencies and directly represent the public, particularly people with disabilities.  Twelve of its members are representatives from most of the federal departments.  Thirteen others, who are appointed by the President, are members of the public, and most of them must have a disability.

MAF: Upcoming Events: Learning Opportunities

From the Michigan Alliance for Families: For Entire Post, Go Here…

Bookmark/Star/Favorite/Save our calendar!  Our goal is to increase the involvement of families in their children’s education. To do this, Michigan Alliance for Families offers learning opportunities across the state.

Due to the pandemic, all of our events will be held on online. Click on the event’s date to view the PDF flyer for complete details. All times are EST.

November 2020

November 3 Supporting Our Kids Mental Health Needs & Our Own As We Navigate Changing School Environments with Terri Henrizi from Association for Children’s Mental Health, 1-2pm or 6:30-7:30pm. Register

November 4 Epilepsy & Updates in Seizure Rescue Medications with Epilepsy Foundation of Michigan, 7-8pm. Register

November 5 Becoming an Assistive Technology Detective at Home with Carolyn O’Hearn from Alt+Shift, 12pm-1pm. Register

November 9 PBIS Family Panel Discussion with MiMTSS, 6-7:30pm. Register

November 10 Log On and Log In to Virtual Meetings with Special Education Mediation Services, 11am-12pm. Register

November 10 Improve the quality of your contributions to your child’s IEP with this four week IEP Course (11/10, 11/17, 12/1, 12/8), 7-8:30pm. Register

November 12 Rethinking Guardianship: Facilitating Lifelong Self Determination with Dohn Hoyle, 1-3pm. Register

November 17 Counting the Days: Understanding Disciplinary Removals of Students with Disabilities  with Special Education Mediation Services, 11am-12pm. Register

November 19  The Manifestation Determination Review: Navigating the Process  with Special Education Mediation Services, 11am-12pm. Register

ngd- Already scheduled events are listed through May 2021

Microsoft Translator – Breaking the language barrier at home, at work, anywhere you need it

By Marc Hagen: For Entire Post, Go Here…

Microsoft Translator
Breaking the language barrier at home, at work, anywhere you need it

For personal use
Translate real-time conversations, menus and street signs while offline, websites, documents, and more using the Translator apps

For business use
Globalize your business and customer interactions by translating text and speech using the Translator API and Speech service, both in the Azure Cognitive Services family

For education
Create a more inclusive classroom for both students and parents with live captioning and cross-language understanding

Translate a conversation in the app
Translate a live, captioned conversation from the Translator app.

Translate a conversation in your browser
You can also have a translated conversation directly in your browser on mobile or desktop.

ngd- And a lot more. Amazing features…

10 Local Offices on the Ballot That Are Important to the Disability Community

From Center for American Progress: For Entire Post, Go Here…

Voter participation in local elections is often eclipsed by that of federal and presidential elections. However, local politics have a distinct and often outsize effect on the experiences of people with disabilities and others within their communities. These elections play a role in ensuring safety in times of disaster and crisis. For example, many decisions regarding the response to the COVID-19 pandemic—from mandatory mask requirements to school reopening plans—have been made at the local and state level.

Despite this, turnout for local elections is sparse: Only 27 percent of eligible voters participate in local elections nationwide. This means that relatively few people in each state are voting on positions such as those in state legislatures—which include district senators and representatives, who function similarly to members of Congress at the federal level—as well as governors and mayors. Voters may also overlook lower-level elected officials who work more directly with the community—such as school boards, judges, district attorneys, and city council members—and may be key to making a community more accessible. In addition, there are a number of officials who are not elected directly but are appointed to key positions. That’s why it is important to know which specific local officials these appointees are accountable to, because understanding these connections can help voters make their voices heard.

This column provides a list of 10 offices that are up for election in cities and states across the country—in 2020 and in future elections—and why it is important to know who these elected officials are and how they can affect local communities.

For Detroiters With Disabilities, Polling Places Can Be Barriers

By Bisma Parvez: For Entire Post, Go Here…

This coverage comes from a collaboration between Bridge Detroit and Votebeat, a nonpartisan reporting project covering local election integrity and voting access. To read more stories in this series, please go to our site.

Voting at the polls can mean waiting in lines, dressing for the weather, securing child care, or getting time off work. But for those with disabilities, there is so much more to consider. That’s because many Detroit polling places are not accessible or make voting difficult for voters with physical disabilities.

While federal law requires polling places be accessible for disabled voters or for counties to provide an alternate location if a polling place is not accessible, the reality of casting an in-person ballot can be burdensome.

Dessa Cosma, the executive director of Detroit Disability Power (DDP), said she struggled to cast a ballot during the 2018 primary because of her physical disability.

Cosma was offered space on the poll workers’ table. When she reminded a worker that she should be entitled to her legal right to a private voting experience, the worker got visibly upset.

“What that told me was they’re not prepared for wheelchair voters, haven’t thought about accessibility in advance, and they weren’t trained how to handle issues with disabled voters.”

Wheelchair access isn’t the only issue. People with different types of disabilities, such as those who are hearing impaired or legally blind, also faced issues with accommodations, Cosma said.

The Detroit Department of Elections confirmed that every polling place is ADA accessible and has one voter assistance terminal with audio and visual components to help those with disabilities. There are also interpreters, who are identified by their shirts, at the precincts.

Curbside voting is available throughout the state for those who are unable to physically enter the polls, according to the Secretary of State’s office. A voter can call the clerk’s office to arrange that option or send someone in to notify poll workers that a voter needs assistance.

A letter to my younger self

By Aubrie Lee: For Entire Post, Go Here…

About the author: Aubrie Lee is an artist with an engineering degree from Stanford University. She enjoys riddles, holographic foil, and jackets with inside pockets. You can follow her on Twitter and find more of her work at

To a younger me,

I’m writing you the letter I wish I had gotten when I was diagnosed. “Infantile-onset facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy” gives you a name for why you’ve never been able to smile, why you get more tired than other kids, and why you can’t lift your arms above your head anymore. The diagnosis will also improve your spelling (I found the journal you left for me about wanting to become a “syentest”).

About those other kids, you don’t have to be shy like I was. When they ask you why your lips stick out, take the opportunity to make a new friend. You’re self-conscious now, but people pay money for shots to make their lips look like yours (I’m not sure how much money, but it’s more than you’ve ever gotten in a hong bao). And one day, when your muscles have weakened to the point where kids are asking you why you walk “different”, a stranger will go out of his way to respectfully tell you, “You’re very beautiful.” You won’t know what to say. As he walks away, you’ll realize that his back is disfigured, and you’ll wish you could thank him all these years later.

When people hurt you, you will call yourself a mirror that reveals their true character. But that’s not the mirror that matters. Hold yourself up to other Disabled people. See their beauty. See your beauty in them, and let them see theirs in you. You’ve always been proud of your mind, but you think of it as your body’s redemption. Be proud of your body. No one can cure muscular dystrophy. But no one can choose it, either. The perspectives you’ll get to behold, the beauty you’ll get to embody, people cannot even pay for, though they may try.

Question whether people’s lessons are lies. They can’t tell the difference.

  • “Survival of the fittest.” Genetic mutations like yours aren’t an exception to evolution; they are its mechanism. But biology doesn’t determine your worth anyway. Forget Darwin. You have the same rights as all humans do. You deserve to live and to create life.
  • “According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.” Maslow wrote that “the study of crippled … and unhealthy specimens can yield only a cripple psychology and a cripple philosophy.” His hierarchy was not meant for you; it was meant to erase you. Forget Maslow. Raze his pyramid to the ground and build your shining cripple philosophy on its ruins.
  • “Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t do.” Ability is not the goal. Autonomy is. Focus on what you want to do, and if you can’t do it, fix whatever systems stand in your way. It’s wrong that you should have to be the one to fight the ableism that holds you back, but as with every wrong, use it as fuel for a sun’s worth of fire.

Free yourself from the curse they call a cure. Don’t believe them—there’s nothing wrong with you.

You’re not a blemish.

You’re not a burden.

You’re not a broken thing.

I should have told you this sooner, and I’m sorry.

NDEAM 2020: Building a Future That Works

From USDIL Blog By Jennifer Sheehy: For Entire Post, Go Here…

This October is the 75th anniversary of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), which happens to fall in the same year as we’re celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA. To celebrate, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) held a virtual event this week focused on increasing access and opportunity through accessible technology.

Accessible technologyis key to advancing the employment success of people with disabilities and delivering on the promise inherent in the ADA. As our workplaces continue to evolve and advance, we know that new, emerging technologies will play an increasingly central role in how we get to work and how we perform on the job.

During the event, we explored some of those exciting innovations with technology thought leaders, disability advocates, and experts in accessibility, transportation, and emerging technologies. Watch the full program:

Some key takeaways from the event include: