Monday, June 30, 2008

Sonar System For The Blind

ScienceDaily (June 26, 2008)

"Echolocation is a method of perceiving the world by emitting noises, then listening to the reflections of these noises off objects in the environment. Animals use echolocation for hunting and navigation, but visually impaired humans also employ echolocation as part of their orienting repertoire while navigating the world. There are a few rare individuals who can echolocate very well without assistance.

However, researchers at Boston University have developed a prototype device that can enhance auditory cues while navigating an environment. The device repeatedly emits an inaudible (to humans) ultrasonic click several times per second, and each click reflects off any objects in the environment. The reflections are then detected by special head-mounted microphones, and computer processing converts the ultrasonic signals into audible signals, which the user then can hear over custom open-ear earphones."

NOTE: To read the entire article, click on the title above.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Online Service Lets Blind Surf The Internet From Any Computer, Anywhere

ScienceDaily (June 27, 2008)

"Visions of future technology don't involve being chained to a desktop machine. People move from home computers to work computers to mobile devices; public kiosks pop up in libraries, schools and hotels; and people increasingly store everything from e-mail to spreadsheets on the Web.

But for the roughly 10 million people in the United States who are blind or visually impaired, using a computer has, so far, required special screen-reading software typically installed only on their own machines.

New software, called WebAnywhere, launched today lets blind and visually impaired people surf the Web on the go. The tool developed at the University of Washington turns screen-reading into an Internet service that reads aloud Web text on any computer with speakers or headphone connections."

NOTE: To read the entire article, click on the title above.

The Ultimate Guide to Special Needs Teaching: 100+ Resources and Links

By Laura Milligan

"Whether you have an entire class of students with special needs, or you’ve welcomed a student with a disability into your traditional classroom, this massive list of resources will help you research different disorders and conditions, review special lesson plans, and find the support you need to work with your students and help them succeed.

Blind Students

For instructing blind and visually impaired students, turn to this list of resources for teaching math, translating texts into braille and more.

  1. Teaching Math to Visually Impaired Students: Learn all about Nemeth Code and different strategies for teaching the visually impaired how to solve and decode math problems.
  2. National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped: Use this resource to find books in braille and audio books.
  3. Strategies for Teaching Students with Vision Impairments: This guide from West Virginia University helps teachers who aren’t used to teaching blind or visually impaired students understand what kinds of words to use and which tools and lab equipment to use in class.
  4. National Braille Press: Browse the bookstore, have your class join the Children’s Book Club and find textbooks and tests for your visually impaired students here. The NBP can translate study guides, music and worksheets into braille.
  5. Badger Accessibility Services: This resource from the University of Wisconsin-Madison lists places to find enlarged text books e-text to voice conversion teaching materials and audio materials."
NOTE: To read the entire resource list, click on the title above.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

14th Annual People on the Go Fundraiser Bowlathon

The 14th Annual People on the Go Fundraiser will be a Bowlathon at the AMF Columbia Lanes on 1732 Bush River Road Saturday, July 19 from 1-4 p.m.

Discount Tickets - $10.00 Free shoe rental, coke and popcorn

For more information call 748-5020 or 787-0286.

NOTE: Click on the title above to go to the People on the Go web site.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Neural Implant That Learns With The Brain May Help Paralyzed Patients

ScienceDaily (June 24, 2008)

"Devices known as brain-machine interfaces could someday be used routinely to help paralyzed patients and amputees control prosthetic limbs with just their thoughts. Now, University of Florida researchers have taken the concept a step further, devising a way for computerized devices not only to translate brain signals into movement but also to evolve with the brain as it learns.

Instead of simply interpreting brain signals and routing them to a robotic hand or leg, this type of brain-machine interface would adapt to a person's behavior over time and use the knowledge to help complete a task more efficiently, sort of like an assistant, say UF College of Medicine and College of Engineering researchers who developed a model system and tested it in rats."

NOTE: To read the entire article, click on the title above.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Mind Over Matter: Monkey Feeds Itself Using Its Brain

ScienceDaily (May 28, 2008)

"A monkey has successfully fed itself with fluid, well-controlled movements of a human-like robotic arm by using only signals from its brain, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine report in the journal Nature. This significant advance could benefit development of prosthetics for people with spinal cord injuries and those with "locked-in" conditions such as Lou Gehrig's disease, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

"Our immediate goal is to make a prosthetic device for people with total paralysis," said Andrew Schwartz, Ph.D., senior author and professor of neurobiology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. "Ultimately, our goal is to better understand brain complexity.""

NOTE: To read the entire article, click on the title above.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Brain Activity May Predict Schizophrenia Behavior Personalized diagnosis, treatment may be possible, U.K. study suggests

WEDNESDAY, June 18 (HealthDay News)

"British researchers say they have discovered a means of anticipating how people might behave during a psychotic episode.

The study, by a team at the University of Cambridge, found that patterns of normal brain activity may predispose individuals to different psychosis symptoms.

The researchers compared the brain activity of 15 healthy volunteers before and after they were given ketamine, a psychosis drug that mimics schizophrenia symptoms.

Increased brain activity during some tasks in the normal state predicted behaviors after the participants were given ketamine. For example, those who showed more frontal and temporal brain activity while imaging the sounds of voices in their normal state were more likely to experience strange perceptions after taking ketamine."

NOTE: To read the entire article, click on the title above.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Bilateral Cochlear Implants: A Case When Two Are Definitely Superior To One

ScienceDaily (Jun. 2, 2008)

"A study of cochlear implant patients seen by Indiana University School of Medicine physicians is the first research to show evidence that cochlear implants in both ears significantly improves quality of life in patients with profound hearing loss and that the cost of the second implant is offset by its benefits.

The study, which appears in the May issue of the journal Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, found that improvements in factors that contribute to quality of life including such critical abilities as hearing in noisy environments, focusing on conversations, and speaking at an appropriate volume resulted when cochlear devices were implanted in both ears."

NOTE: To read the entire article, click on the title above.

Wireless Vision Implant: Implantable Prosthesis Lets Patients Perceive Visual Images

ScienceDaily (June 2, 2008)

"About 30 million people around the world have grown legally blind due to retinal diseases. The EPI-RET project has sought for a technical solution for the past twelve years to help these patients. This work has resulted in a unique system – a fully implantable visual prosthesis.

For twelve years, experts from different disciplines in the fields of microelectronics, neurophysics, information engineering, computer science, materials science and medicine have been working to develop a visual prosthetic device for patients who have lost their sight through diseases of the retina.

In September 2007, their effort was rewarded. In a clinical study including six patients, the team was able to demonstrate not only that a completely implantable vision prosthesis is technically feasible and proven functioning, but also that it enables patients to perceive visual images."

NOTE: To read the entire article, click on the title above.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Longer Life For Paraplegic Patients With Superman Bicycle

ScienceDaily (Jun. 10, 2008)

"A new type of exercise equipment can prevent serious lifestyle illnesses in paraplegic patients. The equipment, which was partly developed at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim, was first designed for the American actor Christopher Reeve.

Patients who are unable to walk after a spinal injury have a poorer quality of life and a shortened lifespan than their non-paralysed counterparts. Sitting passively in a chair makes people susceptible to weight and digestion problems, lower bone density, diabetes – and last but not least, heart and circulation problems."

NOTE: To read the entire article, click on the title above.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Engineer Develops Detergent To Promote Peripheral Nerve Healing

ScienceDaily (Jun. 15, 2008)

"A detergent solution developed at The University of Texas at Austin that treats donor nerve grafts to circumvent an immune rejection response has been used to create acellular nerve grafts now used successfully in hospitals around the country. Research also shows early promise of the detergent solution having possible applications in spinal cord repair.

The solution – combined with an enzyme treatment conceived at the University of Florida in Gainesville – is licensed by AxoGen, an Alachua, Florida-based company, and is used to create an acellular nerve graft from human cadaver tissue, called AVANCE Nerve Graft. Nationwide, nearly 100 patients suffering nerve injuries have received AVANCE grafts, all involving peripheral nerves which transmit sensory information between the brain and muscles."

NOTE: To read the entire article, click on the title above.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Lou Gehrig's Protein Found Throughout Brain, Suggesting Effects Beyond Motor Neurons

ScienceDaily (Jun. 16, 2008)
"Two years ago researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine discovered that misfolded proteins called TDP-43 accumulated in the motor areas of the brains of patients with amyotropic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig's disease. Now, the same group has shown that TDP-43 accumulates throughout the brain, suggesting ALS has broader neurological effects than previously appreciated and treatments need to take into account more than motor neuron areas."

NOTE: To read the entire article, click on the title above.

Increase in Autism Due Only to Changes in Diagnosis

By Matt Ransford
"There is more evidence this month demonstrating that we are not, in fact, presently suffering through an age of increased incidence of autism, but rather as the definition of autism is refined, we discover individuals who were previously misdiagnosed. A University of Oxford study has followed up with a group of 38 adults who were originally involved in a series of studies on developmental language disorders in the late 80s and 90s. Those who manifest symptoms of the disorders have difficulty with spoken language, a trait also seen in autism. All of the subjects had attended specialized schools and were previously not diagnosed with autism."

NOTE: To read the entire article, click on the title above.

Monday, June 16, 2008

St. John's Wort Doesn't Work for ADHD

TUESDAY, June 10 (HealthDay News) -- "St. John's wort isn't effective for treating attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children, a new study finds.
Published in the June 11 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, the study compared St. John's wort to a placebo in children aged 6 to 17 and found the herb wasn't any more effective than the placebo.

To my knowledge, this is the first placebo-controlled study of St. John's wort for ADHD. We believed that some parents were using it to treat their children, and there was a potentially plausible biological mechanism, so we went into the study not knowing what we were going to find," said study author Wendy Weber, a research associate professor in the School of Naturopathic Medicine at Bastyr University in Kenmore, Wash."

NOTE: To read the entire article, click on the title above.

Disability-law update offers greater access

By Robert Pear
The New York Times

WASHINGTON — "The Bush administration is about to propose far-reaching new rules that would give people with disabilities greater access to tens of thousands of courtrooms, swimming pools, golf courses, stadiums, theaters, hotels and retail stores.

The proposal would substantially update and rewrite federal standards for enforcement of the Americans With Disabilities Act, a landmark civil-rights law passed with strong bipartisan support in 1990. The new rules would set more stringent requirements in many areas and address some issues for the first time, in an effort to meet the needs of an aging population and growing numbers of disabled war veterans.

More than 7 million businesses and all state and local government agencies would be affected. The proposal includes some exemptions for parts of existing buildings, but any new construction or renovations would have to comply.

The new standards would affect everything from the location of light switches to the height of retail service counters, to the use of monkeys as "service animals" for people with disabilities.

The White House approved the proposal in May after a five-month review. It is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on Tuesday, with 60 days for public comment."

NOTE: To read the entire article, click on the title above.

Friday, June 13, 2008

"The message of Team Hoyt is that everybody should be included in everyday life."

Written by David Tereshchuk

"Dick and Rick Hoyt are a father-and-son team from Massachusetts who together compete just about continuously in marathon races. And if they’re not in a marathon they are in a triathlon — that daunting, almost superhuman, combination of 26.2 miles of running, 112 miles of bicycling, and 2.4 miles of swimming. Together they have climbed mountains, and once trekked 3,735 miles across America.

It’s a remarkable record of exertion — all the more so when you consider that Rick can't walk or talk.

For the past twenty five years or more Dick, who is 65, has pushed and pulled his son across the country and over hundreds of finish lines. When Dick runs, Rick is in a wheelchair that Dick is pushing. When Dick cycles, Rick is in the seat-pod from his wheelchair, attached to the front of the bike. When Dick swims, Rick is in a small but heavy, firmly stabilized boat being pulled by Dick.

At Rick’s birth in 1962 the umbilical cord coiled around his neck and cut off oxygen to his brain. Dick and his wife, Judy, were told that there would be no hope for their child’s development."

NOTE: To read the complete story click on the title above. To access photos, testimonials, and more, go to

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Cerebral palsy can't stop 10-year-old's winning writing

Houston Chronicle

''I am Jemma and I am immortal!"

Thus begins the one-page autobiography of Houston fifth-grader Jemma Leech who, though cerebral palsy has left her little control of her body, lives in a vivid world of images and words that modern technology now is beginning to let her share.

"Written words are for me the glue which keeps my existence held fast in a semblance of stability," she writes. "Without words, it would all come crashing round my ears, turning bright sunshine into darkest night. Poetry fills my soul with delightful hues of life's momentary escapes into bliss, and torment. Language is my paint and my keyboard is my brush."



A Hawarden Grove Christmas
By Jemma Leech

I remember in London the winters were warm and wet. No snow or ice, just rainy gumboot-puddled walks in Brockwell Park, while the summer-packed paddling pool filled of its own accord with rainwater, autumn leaves and rainbows of crisp bags.

We disappeared in the secret garden underneath palisades of sleeping creeping clematis and wisteria, swapping the dry dark with the wet light as we trailed the paving maze to the fishpond at its heart.

Blackbirds waded in patches of newly dug earth, taking worms from the mud as an avocet might from a turning tide-bare beach. A robin called to me from the crumbling wall, saying 'spring will be here soon, believe me, believe me.' His red chest puffed out with pride as he sang me a song of love and fidelity. Flattery became him as I cried at his song, and he flew off knowing I'd believed in his truth. From the far end of the garden, I heard him begin his flirtation again with another open heart.

From the top of the hill in the park we had watched fireworks break out all across the city that Fifth of November, as if in domino from common to common. But on that Christmas Day the mist had come down, the park was an island and we were cut off from the mass of humanity beyond the mist. It was just me, my brother and sister, and our weary parents inhaling the fog like perfume on a cloud of silage steam grateful for the relief it brought from the stench of London. That mist-bound land was our kingdom that day, and I was its princess, adorned with a crown of diamond drips and drops, soon dried by the warmth of our terraced palace on Hawarden Grove.

NOTE: To read the entire article, click on the title above.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Check Out the ZAC Browser - Zone for Autistic Children

"ZAC is the first web browser developed specifically for children with autism, and autism spectrum disorders such as Asperger syndrome, pervasive developmental disorders (PDD), and PDD-NOS. We have made this browser for the children - for their enjoyment, enrichment, and freedom. Children touch it, use it, play it, interact with it, and experience independence through ZAC.

ZAC is the zone that will permit your child to interact directly with games (a LOT of games) and activities (focused on MANY interests) that cater specifically to kids who display the characteristics of autism spectrum disorders, like impairments in social interaction, impairments in communication, restricted interests and repetitive behavior. ZAC has been an effective tool for kids with low, medium and high functioning autism.

ZAC focuses on the children and their interaction - But we also provide an excellent forum for parents, caretakers, teachers, and others to share their experiences, tools and resources and to unite as a caring, compassionate, and extremely knowledgeable community. It is said that "it takes a village to raise a child", and that is exponentially true for raising a child with autistic spectrum disorders. The power of your experience yesterday is going to be instrumental in helping someone successfully tackle the circumstances of today."

NOTE: To access more information, go to the ZAC browser home page by clicking on the title above.

Check Out the South Carolina Assistive Technology Exchange!

The goal of the South Carolina Assistive Technology Exchange hosted by SCATP is to put AT equipment that is not currently being used into the hands of someone who can benefit from it.

The South Carolina Assistive Technology Exchange is primarily for South Carolinians, although we do accept entries from neighboring states. The program is designed to facilitate equipment exchange between individuals and is not for the use of vendors or distributors.

Use the buttons above to navigate the South Carolina Assistive Technology Exchange. You may browse our listings anonymously (without having an account or being logged in), however to view contact information and/or post your own items you must be a registered user and be logged in.

Categories of devices listed on the South Carolina Assistive Technology Exchange are:

Monday, June 09, 2008

Free Up-and-Coming Pro-Parents Workshops


PLEASE CALL: 1-800-759-4776

10:00 am - 12:00 pm

Transitioning Into Special Education Workshop
Fairfield Memorial Hospital
102 US Highway ByPass North
Winnsboro, SC 29810

Susan Bruce, PRO-Parents of SC
Region 3, Education Coordinator
To register call: 1-800-759-4776 or (803) 772-5688

10:00 am - 12:00 pm

Transitioning Out of Special Education Workshop
Sponsored by: Berkeley County DSS
Western Sizzlin
Moncks Corner, SC 29461

Melinda Hawk, PRO-Parents of SC
South Carolina Special Kids
Project Coordinator

10:30 am - 12:30 pm

Transitioning Into Special Education Workshop
Edgefield County Library
105 Court House Square
Edgefield, SC

Susan Bruce, PRO-Parents of SC
Region 3, Education Coordinator
To register call: 1-800-759-4776 or (803) 772-5688

5:45 pm - 7:15 pm

Transitioning Into Special Education Workshop
Child Haven
1124 Rutherford Road
Greenville, SC

Susan Bruce, PRO-Parents of SC
Region 3, Education Coordinator
To register call: 1-800-759-4776 or (803) 772-5688

7:00 pm - 8:00 pm*

ADD / ADHD Workshop
Lexington County Foster Parent Association
Saxe Gotha Church
5503 Sunset Blvd
Columbia, SC

Melinda Hawk, PRO-Parents of SC
South Carolina Special Kids
Project Coordinator

What's Going on this Week at Family Connection of SC, June 8 thru 14, 2008

Tuesday, June 10
9 am
Morning Coffee
Cracker Barrel
2310 LeGrand Road

Wednesday, June 11
9 am
Morning Coffee - Winnsboro
McDonald's 23 US Hwy 321 Bypass S

Thursday, June 12
5:30 pm
Siblings Network
Age 21+ If you are an adult sibling who is concerned for the future of your
brother or sister that has disabilities, this CONNECTION is for YOU.
Family Connection Office
2712 Middleburg Drive 103-B

Friday, June 13
7 pm
Mom's Night Out
Golden Corral
5300 Forest Drive
+++Stay for a movie at the theatres afterwards

Saturday, June 14
3 to 5pm
Teen Connection Bowling
Royal Z Lanes
Spring Valley
8512 Two Nootch Road
$2.25 / game, snack will be free for teens

Coming up....Autism Connection Ice Cream Social on Monday, June 16
Family Event at Saluda Shoals Splash Park on Saturday,
June 21

Stephanie Griggs Bridgers
Family Partner, Region III, Columbia
PEAP / FREE Coordinator
Family CONNECTion of SC
1-800-578-8750 or 803-252-0914

Friday, June 06, 2008

Anderson Spinal Cord Injury Support Group


Terry Baker, a T6 paraplegic who worked for The Miami Project, will
provide us with information on current research into a cure for paralysis.


NOTE: To view the web page for the Anderson Spinal Cord Injury Peer Support Group (ASPCIPSG), click the title above.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Riverbanks to Host Third Annual Dreamnight Along with Over 130 Zoos Worldwide

[Columbia, SC] - Big Dreams Under the Big Top is the theme of Riverbanks Zoo and Garden’s third annual Dreamnight at the Zoo. [Friday night], the Zoo will open its gates to disabled and chronically ill children at Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital (PHCH) for a private carnival-themed extravaganza.


“Each year the staff at Riverbanks strives to create an environment that is bigger, better and more interactive for the kids,” said Satch Krantz, executive director of Riverbanks Zoo and Garden. “It is extremely rewarding for the staff and volunteers to see the smiles on the kids’ faces. The intention of the evening is to give these special children the opportunity to dream big and experience the joy of life.”

Dreamnight takes place annually worldwide on the first Friday evening in June. Twenty-five zoos in the United States along with 113 zoos from other countries will participate in the event. Last year, 55,000 children experienced Dreamnight along with over 220,000 other family members and caregivers. For a complete list of all participating zoos, please visit

During Dreamnight at the Zoo, the park remains closed to the public, and Dreamnight families are admitted free of charge.

NOTE: To read the entire article, click the title above.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Sprinter With Two Carbon-Fiber Feet Gets Olympics Thumbs-Up

Oscar Pistorius
is a sprinter with a difference: he runs on two artificial lower legs and feet fast enough that he may qualify for the Olympics. And that's something he can now attempt, given that the Court of Arbitration for Sport has just overturned his ban. The International Association of Athletics had ruled against him competing against able-bodied runners. All because of the specialized carbon-fiber Cheetah Flex-Foot prosthetic feet he uses, which represented an unfair mechanical advantage, maintained the IAAF. So the advanced artificial limbs, designed after the shape of a Cheetah's hind leg, were put to the test in the lab.

A new study led by MIT professor Hugh M. Herr revealed that the high-tech feet didn't give Oscar an advantage over able-bodied runners, conflicting with a January study at the German Sport University, which stated they were 30% more efficient than a human ankle. The German study also suggested that the springy feet meant that a user would need 25% less energy expenditure than an able-bodied runner to achieve the same sprinting speed: this is the study the IAAF based the ban on.

NOTE: To read the entire article, click the title above.

The 2008 DiversityInc Top 10 Companies for People With Disabilities

By the Editors of DiversityInc.
Date Posted: May 27, 2008

This very important list is calculated differently from most of the other demographic lists because we do not have real demographic data on these companies--many people with disabilities do not self-identify. We ascertain this list by factoring in the questions we ask about people with disabilities, such as whether the company actively recruits them and has employee-resource groups for them. We also examine work/life benefits that help this population, such as telecommuting and flex time. We factor in whether the company has vendors owned by people with disabilities and/or veterans with disabilities. And we separately examine each company's web site for images of people with visible disabilities and content on reaching all people with disabilities as employees, suppliers and customers.

Consider these facts about this top 10 list:

  • All of them have specific programs to recruit employees with disabilities, compared with 88 percent of the Top 50
  • hey all offer the ability to work at home and/or telecommute, as do all of the Top 50
  • They all offer job sharing, as do 80 percent of the Top 50
  • Eighty percent of them offer alternative career tracks for those with long-term family-care issues, as do 56 percent of the Top 50
  • All of them have employee-resource groups for people with disabilities, as do 71 percent of the Top 50
NOTE: To read the entire article, click on the title above.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The Joshua ONeill and Zeshan Tabani Enrichment Fund

The Joshua ONeill and Zeshan Tabani Enrichment Fund offers financial
assistance to young adults with Down syndrome who wish to continue to
enrich their lives by enrolling in postsecondary programs or taking
enrichment classes that will help them to enrich life through
employment, independent living skills, life skills or another way. Up
to five (5) grants will be awarded, each grant not to exceed $1000,
and the grant maybe used to pay for the tuition for a course or
postsecondary program at a local college, educational institution,
learning center or employment training program.

This fund is administered by the National Down Syndrome Society and
more information about the program, including the application, can be
found at:

For more information, please contact Erin Geller at or click on the title above to go the web site.

Monday, June 02, 2008

What's Going on this Week at Family Connection of SC

Tuesday, June 3
6 pm
Asthma Connection
Topic: Mental Health and Asthma

Wednesday, June 4
9 am
Morning Coffee
Panera Bread
6080 Garner's Ferry Road

Wednesday, June 4
6 pm
Mom's Nite Out
San Jose 808 Hwy 1 South
Lugoff 29078 438-2133

Stephanie Griggs Bridgers
Family Partner, Region III, Columbia
PEAP / FREE Coordinator
Family CONNECTion of SC
1-800-578-8750 or 803-252-0914