Disability News Service, Resources, Diversity, Americans with Disabilities Act; Local and National.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Top 14 New Illinois Laws for 2014 plus....

Every year in Springfield, the legislature passes hundreds of new laws. Some of these new laws might change what you do each day or present new opportunities for safety, security or other enhancements for you or your loved ones. Please review a few of these new laws to see what they may offer you.

A complete list of new laws in Illinois (pdf) pdf

Monday, December 30, 2013

Riva Lehrer Becomes Internationally Known Artist; Disabilities Week column

by Daniel Vance, Atlantic Highlands Herald, Disabilities Column, Dec 28, 2013

Riva Lehrer and I are the same age and grew up only three miles apart in Cincinnati. Yet our school experiences differed greatly.
“When our school bus went down the street, people often would scream at us,” said 55-year-old Lehrer, now of Chicago, Illinois. “It didn't happen every day, but there were areas where it would get nasty and people would throw eggs or rocks and scream 'retard.' While riding through certain parts of Cincinnati, we knew to duck below the window line.”
Lehrer attended Randall J. Condon School for Crippled Children, or Condon School. She and 250 classmates mostly had orthopedic or neurological disabilities, though some were blind or deaf. Even though the school had a standard academic curriculum, many people thought students there had intellectual disabilities.
Her school experience included students from a neighboring elementary school regularly throwing rocks and calling her and others “freak,” “retard” or “cripple.” A substitute teacher once said her class members had disabilities because their parents had been horrible sinners. A few times while Lehrer was out in public, strangers placed their hands on her to “cast out the devil” and heal her.
She said, “When leaving Condon (in the '70s), I felt so much shame (for being a person with a disability) in the outside world. I had been so happy at Condon and was so miserable away.” At Condon School, students had choir, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, softball, a school newspaper, plays, dances, and an art club.
Currently, Lehrer is writing a book in part about Condon School and searching for people to interview. The school closed in 1982. Besides being a writer, Lehrer is an internationally known artist, a medical humanities instructor at Northwestern University, a professor at School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and an art curator.
Lehrer was born with spina bifida, which is a neural tube condition involving the incomplete development of the spine early in pregnancy. Today, Lehrer has some paralysis and gait difficulties.
She said, “As an artist, I'm known mostly for doing narrative portraits of people with disabilities and was one of the first artists in the '90s to take on disability directly as a cultural identity.”
She advised people with disabilities to become more involved at any level in a “thriving disability culture” that included art, literature, music, festivals, politics, and academics.
Contact: danieljvance.com [Sponsored by Palmer Bus Service and Blue Valley Sod.]

Thursday, December 26, 2013

U.S. Access Board Webinar: Accessible (ADA) Alterations to buildings and facilities - (January 9) - RSVP

United States Access Board

The next webinar in the Board's free monthly series will take place January 9 from 2:30 – 4:00 (ET) and will cover requirements in the ADA and ABA Accessibility Standards for alterations to buildings and facilities. The session will review application of the standards in alterations and additions, specific alterations provisions and exceptions, and requirements for alterations to primary function areas.

For more information, including registration instructions, visit :  www.accessibilityonline.org.

Provisions in both the 2010 ADA Standard and the ABA Accessibility Standard apply to buildings and facilities when an "alteration" is undertaken. The session will provide an overview for applying the technical and scoping provisions when altering and more specifically address "alterations affecting primary function areas" and other special scoping and technical provisions applicable when altering.


  • Jim Pecht
    Accessibility Specialist/Librarian
    US Access Board
  • Dave Yanchulis
    Coordinator of Public Affairs
    Office of Technical and Information Services
    US Access Board
For more information, including registration instructions, visit :  www.accessibilityonline.org.

Therapy for Migraines in Children and Teens; article

(HealthNewsDigest.com) - Dec 24, 2013 - Chicago - Among children and adolescents with chronic migraine, the use of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) resulted in greater reductions in headache frequency and migraine-related disability compared with headache education, according to a study appearing in the December 25 issue of JAMA.

"In adults, more than 2 percent of the population has chronic migraine and in children and adolescents the prevalence is up to 1.75 percent. In pediatric patients who seek care in headache specialty clinics, up to 69 percent have chronic migraine; however, there are no interventions approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of chronic migraine in young persons. As a result, current clinical practice is not evidence-based and quite variable," according to background information in the article.

Scott W. Powers, Ph.D., of Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, and colleagues randomized 135 participants (79 percent female) 10 to 17 years of age diagnosed with chronic migraine (≥ 15 days with headache/month) and a Pediatric Migraine Disability Assessment Score (PedMIDAS) greater than 20 points (disability score range: 0-10 for little to none, 11-30 for mild, 31-50 for moderate, >50 for severe) to CBT (n = 64) or headache education (n = 71). The study was conducted in the Headache Center at Cincinnati Children's Hospital between October 2006 and September 2012; 129 participants completed 20-week follow-up and 124 completed 12-month follow-up. The interventions consisted of 10 CBT or 10 headache education sessions involving equivalent time and therapist attention; CBT included training in pain coping, modified to include a biofeedback component. Each group received amitriptyline; follow-up visits were conducted at 3, 6, 9, and 12 months.

On average, at the beginning of the trial, participants reported 21 of 28 days with a headache and a PedMIDAS of 68 points, indicating a severe grade of disability. From pretreatment to posttreatment, CBT resulted in a decrease of 11.5 headache days vs. 6.8 days with headache education. At 12-month follow-up, 86 percent of CBT participants had a 50 percent or greater reduction in days with headache vs. 69 percent of the headache education group; 88 percent of CBT participants had a PedMIDAS of less than 20 points (mild to no disability) vs. 76 percent of the headache education group.

"Now that there is strong evidence for CBT in headache management, it should be routinely offered [to younger people] as a first-line treatment for chronic migraine along with medications and not only as an add-on if medications are not found to be sufficiently effective. Also, CBT should be made more accessible to patients by inclusion as a covered service by health insurance as well as testing of alternate formats of delivery, such as using online or mobile formats, which can be offered as an option if in-person visits are a barrier," the authors write.

Editor's Note: Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.

Editorial: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Treatment of Pediatric Chronic Migraine

System barriers may affect the likelihood of CBT being implemented as a first-line treatment for pediatric chronic migraine, writes Mark Connelly, Ph.D., of Children's Mercy Hospitals and Clinics, Kansas City, in an accompanying editorial.

"Creative means of delivering CBT for pediatric chronic migraine (e.g., via telehealth or Internet-based programs, using behavioral health consultants in primary care offices) will be necessary for reducing current access and referral barriers that could be encountered by many families and physicians. Widening the availability of interdisciplinary models of training and treatment delivery also will be important for helping ensure that children with chronic migraine routinely receive combination therapies rather than being referred for psychological therapy only after other approaches fail."

"Ideally with the efforts of the health care community and other relevant stakeholders, the suggestion by Powers et al to consider CBT along with medication as a first-line treatment for chronic migraine in children will be implemented into practice well before the typical translation gap. Additional studies are warranted, however, to identify methods of preventing chronic migraine development and to determine the medications and combination therapies that further maximize improvements in health and quality of life outcomes for children and adolescents with chronic migraine."

Editor's Note: The author has completed and submitted the ICMJE Form for Disclosure of Potential Conflicts of Interest and none were reported.

© Copyright by HealthNewsDigest.com

Monday, December 23, 2013

Federal Government Making Great Progress Hiring People with #Disabilities in 2013 - AAPD Calls on Government to Do Even More

as shared by The American Association of People with Disabilities ...

AAPD Press

Federal Government Making Great Progress Hiring People with Disabilities

AAPD Calls on Government to Do Even More

For Immediate Release
December 20, 2013
Contact: Colin Schwartz
Phone: 202-521-4309

Washington, DC (December 20, 2013) – Yesterday, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), which overseas hiring for the federal government, released a report highlighting the tremendous progress made by many federal agencies to increase employment of people with disabilities. The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), the nation’s largest disability rights organization, applauds the gains being made, and calls on the federal government to do even more to hire and retain people with disabilities as part of the federal civilian workforce. After more than twenty years since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the unemployment rate of people with disabilities remains alarmingly high at 14.7 percent, nearly double the rate of people without disabilities at 7.4 percent.

According to the “Employing People with Disabilities in the Federal Executive Branch” OPM report, there are more people with disabilities in Federal service both in real terms and by percentage than at any time in the past 32 years, making up 11.89 percent of the federal government workforce.

“Given the diversity of jobs within the federal government, this report illustrates that employers can recruit and retain people with disabilities as a part of any workforce,” said AAPD President and CEO Mark Perriello. “As more employers look to tap into the potential of people with disabilities in the workplace, the federal government can serve as a model. However, more must be done to place individuals with disabilities into senior roles within the Executive Branch.”

On July 26, 2010, President Barack Obama issued Executive Order 13548 - Increasing Federal Employment of Individuals with Disabilities - in which he stated that the federal government must become a model for the employment of individuals with disabilities and set a goal to hire 100,000 people with disabilities into federal service over five years. New hires who were people with disabilities totaled 16,653, representing an increase from 14.65 percent in FY 2011 to 16.31 percent in FY 2012. Since 2010, total new hires have reached over 50,000 or more than half of the 100,000 goal by 2015.

However, the report also highlights a need to hire people at more senior levels. Less than 10 percent of permanent employees in Senior Executive Service (SES) and General Schedule (GS) 13 or higher positions are made up of people with disabilities.

AAPD believes that a centralized accommodation fund and government wide accommodation standards could help federal recruiters and managers do even better. Additional disability-related training for hiring managers, especially on Schedule A hiring authority, which allows agencies to hire people with disabilities outside of the customary process, could also help improve onboarding rates.

This report comes several months after the Obama Administration released a landmark initiative to enforce Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which requires federal contractors set a 7 percent aspirational hiring target for people with disabilities.

“Under Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act, federal contractors are now required to collect similar information about their workforces,” continued Perriello. “This report shows the benefit of this type of data collection and analysis in order to determine the effectiveness of recruiting and retention strategies.”
For more information and to read the report, please go here.
About AAPD
The American Association of People with Disabilities is the nation's largest disability rights organization. We promote equal opportunity, economic power, independent living, and political participation for people with disabilities. Our members, including people with disabilities and our family, friends, and supporters, represent a powerful force for change. To learn more, visit the AAPD Web site: www.aapd.com

Barred From College Entrance Exams, in a Blow for China’s Blind Community

Chinese security guards checking the identity of students entering a school to take the national college entrance examinations in Beijing.Agence France-Presse — Getty ImagesChinese security guards checking the identity of students entering a school to take the national college entrance examinations in Beijing.
By DIDI KIRSTEN TATLOW, The New York Times, Dec 18,2013

Li Jinsheng wanted to study law. But because he is blind, virtually the only profession he could train for in China was massage. So he did that and set up a massage business in Queshan County, Henan Province.
Now 45, Mr. Li never gave up on his dream. On Dec. 10 he applied to take the national college entrance examination, like millions of others, only to be turned down by local education department officials. With the registration deadline having expired on Wednesday his hopes are over for this year, he said on the telephone. “They said they didn’t have examination papers for blind people,” he said.
China’s blind population is deeply frustrated by being shunted off into just two professions — massage and music, as The New York Times reported recently. They have long campaigned to be allowed to take part in the “gaokao,” or regular college entrance examinations, and thereby gain access to mainstream universities.
While the law does not say they cannot take the “gaokao,” in practice applications by the blind are routinely turned down, said the lawyer Huang Rui of the Boyang Law Firm, who is himself disabled. It’s part of what activists say is routine discrimination that is keeping blind people and others with disabilities poorer than their able-bodied counterparts.
“The law doesn’t say blind people can’t take the examination, but they’ve never been willing to let them,” said Mr. Huang, who has “a disability of the limbs,” he said by telephone from Henan.
Reached by telephone, officials in Queshan County’s education department declined to comment.
Around the world, one in 10 people have some form of physical or mental disability, making disabled people the world’s largest minority, according to the United Nations. China says it has 85 million disabled people, or about 6.5 percent of the population. It has both signed and ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities, which assures them full rights to education.
In China, as elsewhere, disabled people are on average poorer than their able-bodied peers, having a disposable income of around half the national average, according to officials.
Mr. Li knows it may be too late for him to ever study the law at college, but he plans to keep trying to take the entrance examinations in order to highlight the issue, and in the hope that it will work for him one day, too.
“I can’t accept this situation,” he said. “I’m very hurt. It’s hard to be blind, and then to not let me take part in the examinations. I want to sue them.”
Mr. Huang also mentioned the possibility of a lawsuit.
Mr. Li was anxious to emphasize: “If they let me take the examination, I will be really, really grateful to the authorities. Deeply grateful. It will have been really good of them. Please write that.”
And if not? “It’s illegal!” he said.

U.S. Senator Corker's Christmas Gift to One Billion People with Disabilities: A Big Lump of Coal for 2013

as shared from United States International Council on Disabilities ...

Senator Corker Gives Disability Community Coal for Christmas 

Today Senator Corker walked away from the negotiations on the Disability Treaty!
He caved to the extreme far right and abdicated his leadership on this bipartisan issue. 

It is time to hold him responsible!

 Join this Call to ACTION!

Let Senator Corker know that we won't be cast aside like second class citizens. Don't let him continue to hide behind false constitutional arguments! Hold him responsible for carrying the water for the far rights myths, lies and exaggerations. Call his DC and Tennessee Senate offices!

Let him know that we will NOT go away!

You can contact Senator Corker at:
or find his Tennessee office numbers here.

Send this picture to Senator Corker's staff here with the message "Restart the negotiations!"


Forward this message onto your lists of friends and colleagues so they can join us in sending a message to Senator Corker that we are HERE and that our voice MATTERS!  

Ithe CRPD Support logo with We support instead of I support 


For Immediate Release:
December 20, 2013  

Contact: Kevin Locke, U.S. International Council on Disabilities 
klocke@usicd.org, (202) 347-0102

Senator Corker's Christmas Gift to One Billion People with Disabilities: A Big Lump of Coal

Before heading home to spend the holidays with his family, Senator Bob Corker sent a message to the 57.8 million Americans with disabilities, 5.5 million disabled American veterans, and one billion people worldwide with disabilities: appeasing the far-right wing of his caucus is more important than supporting their rights and dignity by supporting the Disability Treaty.

Inspired by U.S. leadership in recognizing the rights of people with disabilities, the Disability Treaty is designed to be a framework for creating laws and policies throughout the world that support the rights and dignity of the billion people worldwide living with disabilities. Ratification of the treaty is supported by a strong and diverse coalition of over 800 disability organizations, veterans groups, business groups, and faith organizations, as well over one thousand Tennesseans who recently signed a petition calling on the Senate to ratify the treaty as soon as possible.

Marca Bristo, President of the US International Council on Disabilities expressed disappointment with Senator Corker's decision not to support the treaty: "I am shocked and dismayed that Senator Corker would abruptly cut off negotiations surrounding this crucial treaty and fail to support it. Doing so is a betrayal of the millions of Americans with disabilities, professionals, people of faith, and veterans who both need and want the Disability Treaty to be ratified. Our community is strong and committed, and we will continue to press forward in our work to support this treaty."

Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, added, "By caving to the most extreme isolationists in our nation, Senator Corker has undermined the United States' reputation as a beacon of freedom for the world. The U.S. is a model for the advancement of transparency and human rights for all, and today's statement by Senator Corker puts that status in considerable jeopardy. Conspiracy theories about how the CRPD would undermine American sovereignty are not based in reality, but only in the rhetoric of those who wish to fear monger and build walls between us and the rest of the world.  We strongly urge Senator Corker to join the mainstream and to honor the dignity of all Americans by reconsidering this position."

Heather Ansley, Vice President of VetsFirst, said, "Despite assertions to the contrary, ratification of the CRPD will not endanger U.S. sovereignty. We must not let misinformation limit equal opportunities for veterans and all people living with disabilities. By failing to support CRPD, Senator Corker is failing to support the millions of disabled American veterans who fought bravely in service of this country and its Constitution. To use that very Constitution as a reason not to support the treaty is a betrayal of their service."


Thursday, December 19, 2013

2013 Employment Trends: Disability diversity, networking and a personal brand


as shared by
Jewish Vocational Service (JVS), Chicago  ...

Looking back at calendar year 2013, some employment trends are apparent.
Networking, according to almost every published report, has replaced the online job listing as the most effective way of hiring or finding a new job.  Networks can be in-person or through various media.
Creating a personal brand is the latest trend among job seekers, and employers are finding that a distinct personal brand makes a candidate easier to evaluate.  (As a pundit put it, a “personal brand” is what stays in the room after you leave it.)
According to US Dept. of Labor statistics, the overall job market is picking up, with a big majority of sectors hiring.  Almost 60 percent of small businesses plan to hire in 2014, and the economy has averaged 200,000 new jobs per month for the last half of the calendar year.
But the labor supply doesn’t match demand.  There are more than 12 million people unemployed and 3.6 million open positions, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  American manufacturers alone have 600,000 open positions, and 34% of companies say they are having trouble filling open positions.
Disability Diversity
While the employment figures for employees with disabilities are mixed, JVS Chicago Manager of Program Administration Bob Parkinson said that employees with disabilities are being hired for a wider array of jobs and more often integrated into the workplace than they used to be.
“The barriers have come down,” said Parkinson.  “People – including decision makers – are more open to people with disabilities.  High-visibility employees with disabilities at companies like Jewel, Home Depot and Lowe’s have helped change public perceptions, as have social service agencies.  Some disabilities like autism have become more common, so more families have relatives with disabilities.  The trend toward hiring people with disabilities is more natural than it is charitable – which is as it should be.  People with disabilities aren’t looking for charity.  They want to be citizens, not shut-ins.”
The federal government has made efforts to encourage disability diversity.  The Office of Disability Employment Policy has sponsored the Campaign for Disability Employment; published Building an Inclusive Workforce, a four-step reference guide to employing people with disabilities, and developed the new Add Us In initiative to help small businesses employ people with disabilities.
Karen Tamley, Chicago’s Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, said that there has been significant progress on the national level.  Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) issued two reports titled‘Unfinished Business’ with his recommendations of what he’d like to see done for job seekers and workers with disabilities.  Delaware Gov. Jack Markell used his platform as Chairman of the National Governor’s Association to release a state-level employment blueprint for employing people with disabilities, “A Better Bottom Line,” that involves the public and private sectors.
“There is a big movement out there to push for more integrative and supportive work opportunities for people with disabilities,” Tamley said.  “As someone who’s working in this field, I’m seeing more conversation about this issue in corporations and companies than I’ve ever seen in the past.  More and more companies are looking to recruit a workforce that includes people with disabilities.”
To the staff at JVS Chicago, hiring people with disabilities is simply a good business strategy.
“Employers are recognizing projected labor shortages as the baby-boom generation retires, and non-employed people with disabilities represent a valuable pool of human resources to help fill the projected labor shortage,” said Jonathan Roth, a JVS Chicago Employment Services Representative. “Corporations are increasingly recognizing the benefits of workplace diversity. Providing greater opportunities to people with disabilities enhances diversity in ways that improve employee performance and expand the customer base. Most large corporations today have diversity programs, and a growing number are including disability as one of the criteria for a diverse workforce.”
Job seekers with disabilities face employment challenges, of course;  according to US Census figures, the employment rate of people with disabilities is well below the rate for others.  Illinois is a state with a low rate of people with disabilities – one of the five lowest in the country, according to census figures, but nevertheless the state has more than 1.3 million people with disabilities, 675,000 of them between 18-64 years old.  The employment rate for Illinois residents with disabilities is 33.4 percent, slightly above the US average;  the employment rate for others of employment age is roughly double that.  In Illinois, about 225,000 of the 675,000 people with disabilities 18-64 years old have a job.
Roth said that some employers think that employees with disabilities cost more money (often not the case), and there remains some old-fashioned discrimination.  Employees with disabilities traditionally have had more jobs in employment sectors that are shrinking and fewer jobs in the tech sectors that are expanding, which affected 2013 employment statistics (mixed results).  But the trend, especially among decision makers, seems to be toward inclusion and integration of people with disabilities into the workforce.
But the push to diversify and integrate people with disabilities into the workplace continues, with a big push, according to Tamley, from the federal government.
“The seven percent goal for federal contractors released last August has motivated some hiring,” she said, ”and President Obama setting a goal of 100,000 people with disabilities in the federal workforce sent a very strong message.”
Locally, Tamley has been hosting roundtable breakfasts for local employers that showcase how people with disabilities can be successfully integrated into the workforce.
“A big chanworking_groceriesge,” said Tamley, ”is that the conversation has elevated away from ‘what does the ADA require?’ to ‘what are our diversification and integration strategies for employees with disabilities?’”
What Employers Want
Roth also reports that he has noticed trends this year that involve what employers are seeking from prospective employees, including those with disabilities:
  • Employers want to work with people they can trust.  Honesty, starting with the resume, starts a job seeker on the right path with a prospective employer.
  • Taking responsibility for actions and giving credit where it’s due are valued behaviors.  Employers and managers value integrity and authenticity because those attributes reflect positively on the  company.
  • Companies need employees to be team players.  Collaborating with “internal customers” – other employees – is as important as successfully relating to external customers.
  • Dedication and motivation count.  Employers don’t want to settle for someone who does only what is required.  Valuable employees do more than that.
  • A positive work culture is vital for the company’s and its employees’ health – so hiring people with a good attitude and sense of humor is important.  People can work comfortably and cooperatively with someone who’s cheerful.
  • It’s wise to hire people whose values are similar to the company’s.  Candidates who have values similar to the hiring company’s are more likely to meet the company’s needs, and they tend to adapt faster to a new role (hint to job seekers:  research the company’s culture).
In 2013, JVS Chicago placed employees with disabilities into companies including Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, the US government and River North Business Association.  The agency remains a resource for a broad range of employment services and has a pre-screened pool of job seekers, including those with disabilities.  JVS Chicago also offers workshops for professionals and business owners through the Illinois SBDC/Duman Entrepreneurship Center.  Learn more at www.jvschicago.org

Lost in interpretation: Sign language interpreters - article

with the sign language issues at Nelson Mandela memorial, thought this article is appropriate...

Lost in interpretation

Sign language interpreters catch a speaker's words, translate their meaning and reformulate their message into sign -- all within seconds. It's part performance, part science, and part cognitive gymnastics. But what happens when things go wrong?

BY ELLEN ROLFES; PBS NewsHour, Dec 17, 2013 

Barbie Parker is a rock star sign language interpreter. When a guitarist starts a riff, Parker plays air guitar. When the drummer starts pounding, she claps to the beat. Her body moves to the rhythm of the songs as she signs lyrics with the same attitude as the musicians, from Bob Dylan to Lady Gaga.
When Parker’s audience -- those who are deaf and hard of hearing -- see her interpretations for the first time, they often say “Now I understand why people like music.” As an interpreter, Parker gives the deaf community an opportunity to appreciate an experience that for so long was only accessible to those who could hear.
Quality interpreting enables a deaf audience to experience and participate in public events usually only accessible for hearing individuals. But poor interpreting can alienate viewers, and create even bigger gaps in communication.

Sign language interpreter Barbie Parker performs ”Breaks” by the Black Keys at Lalapalooza in 2010. Interpretations by Parker and her team at LotuSIGN give the deaf community access to music in a completely new way. "Some of the things that we hear from people who haven't seen our type of interpretation are, 'Wow, you made metal music look like metal,' or 'I didn’t understand music until I saw this.'" Video by YouTube user bubbakja
When deaf viewers watched Nelson Mandela’s memorial last week and realized the sign language interpreter was making gestures that were little more than gibberish, they were outraged. Word of the botched event spread throughout the deaf community over social media networks. Thamsanqa Jantjie, the infamous “fake interpreter” had stolen a moment in history from those who could not hear.
"The fact that there is someone willing to pose as an interpreter is horrendous," Melanie Metzger, an interpreter practitioner, said in a phone interview with PBS NewsHour. "The international deaf community is losing out the opportunity to participate in this historic event."
In a joint statement released Thursday, the World Federation of the Deaf and the World Association for Sign Language Interpreters did not sugar-coat. They said that Jantjie “did not know (South African Sign Language) or any sign language at all."
"The fact that there is someone willing to pose as an interpreter is horrendous. The...deaf community is losing out the opportunity to participate in this historic event."
The task of interpreting the numerous speakers at Mandela’s memorial service would have been a challenge for even the most skilled sign language interpreter.
Sign languages vary from country to country, with more than 200 used worldwide. While most use the hands, face and space around the body for grammatical purposes, the vocabulary, grammar and syntax will depend upon how deaf people in a specific region have historically communicated. The historical roots for spoken languages are not necessarily the same for a country's sign language. For example, Metzger said that American Sign Language has more in common with French Sign Language than with British Sign Language, even though British and American English, when spoken, are more or less the same.
But the ability to sign is only one of the many skills needed to be considered a competent interpreter. Metzger, a professor and chair of the interpretation department at Gallaudet University, said the challenge of interpretation lies in learning how the mind takes in one language, reformulates it, and simultaneously expresses the meaning into another language. Within seconds, a qualified interpreter conveys both what is said and how a speaker says it.
"It is very cognitively tasking," Metzger said.
A sign language interpreter must be aware of how his or her surroundings can affect their interpretation. The space around their body can be critical to express the meaning of a  speech. Sign language interpreters even have to be careful about how they dress. Metzger said that interpreters  should wear solid-color clothing that contrasts with their skin color, so that their hands can be easily seen.
And the style of interpretation can radically change based on the event and audience. Parker signed in a completely different manner for President Obama’s inaugural address at the National Mall in Washington compared to how she performed at a Jack White concert at the Lollapalooza music festival in Chicago.
“The dress is different, the affect, the way we will sign is different,” Parker said as she described how she and her team at LotuSIGN approach public ceremonies, such as the 57th Inauguration in January. “It may seem more animated, but it will also be more reserved because of the nature of the event ... We stand tall. The gestures are larger, more crisp, almost more majestic and impactful.”
Before an interpretation, Parker will prepare as much as possible, by reviewing any texts provided, watching YouTube videos of the speaker to study their rhetoric and style of delivery and to understand their perspective on issues. Being a good sign language interpreter heavily depends on being equally literate in a spoken language as a sign language. And not any interpreter can provide services for every signer. Parker, for instance, specializes in interpreting American English into American Sign Language.
The job of an interpreter is to be a cultural mediator, to preserve the spirit and content of the hearing speaker’s words.“It is never about the interpreter,” Parker said, “it is always about the speaker and the client.”

Watch Independent Television News report on Jantjie to see some of the signs he made during speeches by South African President Jacob Zuma and U.S. President Barack Obama. Video by ITN
Unlike Parker, who has been praised for the effectiveness of her interpretations, Jantjie has stood out for his inability to communicate to deaf audiences. The Deaf Federation of South Africa had already filed complaints with the governing African National Congress Party about Jantjie’s incorrect interpretations at other events, including ones where President Jacob Zuma had spoken, The Associated Press reported. Bruno Druchen, the federation’s national director, said that the ANC never responded to their formal complaint, which recommended that Jantjie complete a five-year course in interpretation.
Parker was adamant that interpreters should only take on jobs that they know they can interpret with proper knowledge of the content and the event and can maintain complete neutrality. “Certification can document competence,” Parker said, “but the most important thing for interpretation is commitment to the deaf culture and to only interpret where you think you are qualified.”
When the affect, the gestures or the style of movement don’t match that of a speaker, deaf people can tell. Larry Gray, who is deaf and an assistant professor of American Sign Language & Interpretation at Anne Arundel Community College in Arnold, Md., explained that humor, or lack thereof, is often an early sign that a deaf community is lost in interpretation. He wrote in an email to PBS NewsHour, “Oftentimes, if Deaf people notice that hearing people in the audience are laughing because the speaker makes a joke or says something funny, and we're not laughing, then we know that something is wrong.”
While neither Parker, Metzger or Gray have first-hand knowledge of the situation involving Jantjie, the event brought up serious issues that many deaf communities face in the U.S. and around the world. For Parker, the lack of equal access to knowledge for deaf people is still a consistent problem and cause for concern. “People who don’t have a voice are oppressed by people in power.”
Gray did not want to minimize the oppressive experiences of deaf people, but similar to almost all professions, there are interpreters, he noted, who become complacent or do not proactively try to improve their interpreting skills. Then, there are those who he says are “grossly incompetent.”
“In the case of the Mandela's memorial service, because the imposter accepted an assignment he was not qualified nor competent to fulfill,” Gray wrote, “in this extreme situation, I would classify (this as) oppression.”
Parker said that the unfortunate circumstances that led to the misinterpretation at the Mandela memorial could have been easily avoided if members of the deaf community had been included in the vetting process for an interpreter.
“Deaf people should have been involved especially for events of this magnitude,” Gray wrote, in agreement with Parker. “In addition, there are additional resources such as Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf and World Federation of the Deaf.”
I believe that education and collaboration are necessary. For example, those who hire interpreters,  but do not know or understand the process and impact, would generally say, ‘Do you know sign language?’ and hire upon confirmation. It is more than knowing sign language.”
The South African government has yet to say who was responsible for hiring Jantjie, but Arts and Culture Minister Paul Mashatile formally apologized to the deaf community on Friday for any offense suffered as a result of Jantjie’s flawed interpretations.

Summer Internship 2014: for college students, grad students, and recent graduates - American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) - apply by Feb 5, 2014

AAPD 2012 Interns
I could not be more proud to take part in the AAPD Summer Internship Program; my staff and I are all more enriched because of it.” – Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05)

If you will be living in the Washington, DC area during the 2014 summer and you’re a college student, graduate student, or recent graduate (within one year), AAPD’s Summer Internship Program provides the opportunity to gain hands-on professional experience to help advance your career goals. Interns will receive a stipend, mentor matching, and additional resources during the summer. Candidates interested in the professional arena of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and veterans with disabilities are highly encouraged to apply.

Applications must be received by 5:00 PM (Eastern Standard Time) on or before Wednesday, February 5, 2014.

TO APPLY: Submit a Word version application,which can be found here, via email: internship@aapd.com.


· Any college student (degree and non-degree seeking), graduate student, recent graduate within a year and veteran who self-identifies as an individual with any type of disability is invited to apply. You will not be required to disclose your specific disability; however, your application for this program will signify that you consider yourself a person with a disability.

· PLEASE NOTE: This is a program run specifically for students with disabilities by the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), the nation’s largest cross-disability membership organization. Those selected for this program will be involved in various disability-focused activities and associated with AAPD and fellow interns with all types of disabilities throughout the program.

· Applicants chosen for the AAPD Washington DC Summer Internship Program release all information contained in their application for use on the AAPD website and in public press releases, including releases to the program funders and potential employers.

What Happens Next:
· Completed applications received by AAPD before 5:00 PM EST, Wednesday, February 5, 2014, will be collected and reviewed by our internship review team.

· Finalists will be contacted for formal telephone interviews.

· Interns will be selected for the program and notified by mid to late February.

Deadline: Wednesday, February 5, 2014. (5:00 PM, Eastern)


AAPD offers internships to qualified students and recent graduates during the Fall, Spring, and Summer. To view and apply for current openings, visit our Jobs at AAPD page.
Youth Transitions Fellow

AAPD has partnered with The HSC Foundation to create the Youth Transitions Fellowship (YTF). This partnership funds a full-time fellow to work on the organizations’ youth transition and collaboration work. The fellow facilitates collaboration among internship programs based in the greater Washington, DC area, including the Greater Washington Internship Coalition.

Two tragedies cry out for your help: Appeal from Handicapped International

as shared by Handicapped International ...

Handicap International


Among the 2.3 million Syrians who have fled their war-ravaged homeland, many suffer from injuries or disabilities. They are especially unprepared to navigate the brutal hardships of displacement and refugee life…
In typhoon-stricken parts of the Philippines, a catastrophe wrought by nature, recovery is slow and uneven. Many are left behind…
These are just two of the 60-plus countries where Handicap International has mobilized to help.
Please help today with a generous year-end donation. Between now and December 31st your donation will be matched 4-to-1!
That means your $25 gift becomes $125;
Your $50 gift becomes $250;
And your $100 gift becomes $500!
Handicap International is one of the few organizations working inside Syria, rendering emergency rehabilitation and other aid to innocent victims of the conflict. They are survivors of gunshot wounds, mortar fire, munitions explosions and all manner of wartime violence. They are in urgent need of care. Many of them are innocent children. And the few functioning hospitals and clinics in the region are completely overwhelmed.
Many of the people we treat would otherwise have no access to help.
In the Philippines, nature has unleashed its fury. Handicap International’s Henri Bonnin was a member of the very first team sent to the impacted region. He described the injuries:
“There are people with spinal injuries sustained from falling trees or walls and people with complex fractures. If they do not receive the appropriate care now, they run a high risk of developing permanent disabilities.”
Thanks to you, Handicap International provides help and hope for the world’s most vulnerable and marginalized people. They suffer from injuries, disabilities, medical conditions that put them at exceptional risk, or simply the effects of being older.
But grappling with these two crises—Syria and the Philippines—is stretching our resources to the limit. We need your help now more than ever.
And remember, your life-saving gift will be matched 4-to-1 between now and December 31st.
Thank you in advance for your compassion and your generosity.
Beth MacNairn

P.S. As one of the founding partners of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, Handicap International was a co-recipient of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

VA to Expand Benefits for Traumatic Brain Injury


Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs

VA to Expand Benefits for Traumatic Brain Injury

December 16, 2013
Adds Five Illnesses Related to Service-Connected TBI
WASHINGTON – Some Veterans with traumatic brain injury (TBI) who are diagnosed with any of five other ailments will have an easier path to receive additional disability pay under new regulations developed by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The new regulation, which takes effect 30 days from today, impacts some Veterans living with TBI who also have Parkinson’s disease, certain types of dementia, depression, unprovoked seizures or certain diseases of the hypothalamus and pituitary glands. 
“We decide Veterans’ disability claims based on the best science available,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “As scientific knowledge advances, VA will expand its programs to ensure Veterans receive the care and benefits they’ve earned and deserve.”
This regulation stems from a report of the National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine (IOM) regarding the association between TBI and the five diagnosable illnesses.  The IOM report, Gulf War and Health, Volume 7:  Long-Term Consequences of Traumatic Brain Injury, found “sufficient evidence” to link moderate or severe levels of TBI with the five ailments.
The new regulations, printed in the Federal Register, say that if certain Veterans with service-connected TBI also have one of the five illnesses, then the second illness will also be considered as service connected for the calculation of VA disability compensation.
Eligibility for expanded benefits will depend upon the severity of the TBI and the time between the injury causing the TBI and the onset of the second illness.  However, Veterans can still file a claim to establish direct service-connection for these ailments even if they do not meet the time and severity standards in the new regulation.  
Veterans who have questions or who wish to file new disability claims may use the eBenefits website, available atwww.eBenefits.va.gov/ebenefits.
Servicemembers who are within 180 days of discharge may also file a pre-discharge claim for TBI online through the VA-DoD eBenefits portal at www.eBenefits.va.gov/ebenefits.
The published final rule will be available Dec. 17 at http://www.regulations.gov.
Information about VA and DoD programs for brain injury and related research is available at www.dvbic.org
Information about VA's programs for Gulf War Veterans is available atwww.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/gulfwar/hazardous_exposures.asp.
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