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Thursday, 29 August 2013

Paralysed base jumper knows no fear as he throws himself off 1,100ft bridge in a WHEELCHAIR

  • Lonnie Bissonnette has jumped from bridges and cliffs
  • Canadian has also glided at speeds of up to 80-miles-per-hour
  • He is unable to walk or use left arm because of previous accident

    These incredible pictures show an extreme sports fanatic throwing himself off 1,100ft bridges - despite being left wheelchair bound following a base jumping accident.

    Paralysed Lonnie Bissonnette has jumped from bridges and being piggy-backed off the edge of a cliff.

    The 48-year-old Canadian has also donned a wing-suit and glided for hundreds of feet at speeds of up to 80-miles-per-hour.

    Daredevil: Lonnie Bissonnette was left paralysed following a previous base jumping accident but still enjoys the extreme sport.

    Daredevil: Lonnie Bissonnette was left paralysed following a previous base jumping accident but still enjoys the extreme sport. The 48-year-old is pictured throwing himself off the New River Gorge, West Virginia

    Passionate: Mr Bissonnette can be seen in his wheelchair jumping from the New River Gorge. The Canadian has travelled to Norway, China and America to enjoy his hobby

    Passionate: Mr Bissonnette can be seen in his wheelchair jumping from the New River Gorge. The Canadian has travelled to Norway, China and America to enjoy his hobby
    Despite being unable to walk or use his left arm because of a previous base jump accident, Mr Bissonnette still enjoys his sport to the fullest.

    He said: 'Base-jumping brings an amazing feeling to me that I don't get any other way.

    'I don't let being paralysed stop me for one moment. The first thing I asked after waking up from my accident was "how long will I have to wait till I can be back out there base jumping again".

    'When I was younger I used to dream that I was skydiving, and it wasn't until I saw a video of base jumping that I released that's what I had been dreaming of after all.

    Hurt: The extreme sport fanatic has been left paralysed from the neck down following an horrific accident in 2004

    Hurt: The extreme sport fanatic has been left paralysed from the neck down following an horrific accident in 2004

    Extreme: Mr Bissonnette says he knows the risks involved in base jumping but carries on because it's his passion

    Extreme: Mr Bissonnette says he knows the risks involved in base jumping but carries on because it's his passion

    From his home land in Canada, he has also been to Norway, China, America, and is planning his September base-jumping trip to Malaysia.

    'I felt like I owed it to myself to carry on base jumping, or else I would have felt like a fake,' said Mr Bissonnette.

    'People often used to ask me if I knew the risks and knew how dangerous it was, and now I can tell them that yes, I do actually.

    'I know the risks and still carry on because it's my passion, base jumping is one of the most amazing things you can experience.'

    Head for heights: The 48-year-old can be seen base jumping off Skylon Tower in Niagra Falls, Canada

    Head for heights: The 48-year-old can be seen base jumping off Skylon Tower in Niagra Falls, Canada

    Tumbling: As well as base jumping, Mr Bissonnette enjoys bungee jumping.He can be seen bungee jumping off Whistler in British Columbia, Canada

    Tumbling: As well as base jumping, Mr Bissonnette enjoys bungee jumping.He can be seen bungee jumping off Whistler in British Columbia, Canada

    An X-Ray of Lonnie Bissonnette's knee held together with a metal plate after the accident that left him paralysed

    This shows an X-Ray of Lonnie Bissonnette's neck after the accident that left him paralysed

    Damaged: This shows an X-Ray of  Lonnie Bissonnette's neck, right, after the accident that left him paralysed. This X-Ray image, left, shows his knee held together with a metal plate following the accident.

    On July 19, 2004, Mr Bissonnette suffered from an accident when he and his friends broke the Canadian record for the most people jumping off the same object at one time.

    However after trying to do too much at once during the jump, his foot ended up entangled in his parachute as he was nearing the river below, and Mr Bissonnette crashed into a river, hitting the ground on impact.

    Suffering from numerous injuries such as a broken spinal cord and a compressed spleen, Mr Bissonnette has been left paralysed from the neck down.

    Passion: Mr Bissonnette says base jumping is his life
    Passion: Mr Bissonnette says base jumping is his life

    Fun: Mr Bissonnette can be seen on the back of another man wing suit flying off Kjerag mountain in Norway
    Fun: Mr Bissonnette can be seen on the back of another man wing suit flying off Kjerag mountain in Norway

    Taking the plunge: The extreme sports fanatic can be seen skydiving in Ontario, Canada
    Taking the plunge: The extreme sports fanatic can be seen skydiving in Ontario, Canada

    Mr Bissonnette said: 'I couldn't move my legs or arms at all, only my head, but my first thought was "I can't believe I just survived that, I've got to get out of the water".

    'Even though my family were a little nervous about me getting straight back into base jumping, they accept it because they know that's what I'm like.

    'If I want to do something I'll do it, and this was no different, base jumping is my life and I was going to keep doing it no matter what.'

    Source : Daily Maily UK , 28th August 2013

On cards at DU: smoother poll process for the disabled : Delhi

The Delhi University authorities are taking several measures to ensure the smooth participation of differently-abled students in the Delhi University Students’ Union elections next month.

“We have issued notices to college principals to provide adequate facilities to students belonging to the Persons with Disability category so that they can participate in the poll process without any glitches,” said Bipin Tiwari, officer on special duty, Delhi University’s Equal Opportunity Cell.

With the Delhi University Students’ Union polls scheduled for September 13, officials have instructed colleges to provide smooth access for these students to polling booths. Colleges have been told to place the polling booths on the ground floor.

In addition, they will be required to arrange for sign language interpreters for students with hearing impairment. Volunteers will be at hand for assistance.

“The colleges are required to comply with mandatory provisions under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability. This is being done to ensure that these children do not get left out. Several measures will be taken, such as locating the booths on the ground floor and providing wheelchairs,” said Tiwari.

Parties, too, are making arrangements to assist the students. “We have been doing this every year and will continue doing so this year too. We will allocate special volunteers who will guide these students through the entire process,” said a member of the NSUI.

Source : Hindustan Times , 29th August 2013

Activist launches accessibility audit of businesses; posts results online : WaterLoo

Accessibility audit

David Bebee,Record staff

Nick Wendler has experienced the challenges of getting around Waterloo in a wheelchair for years. Many businesses in the uptown have stairs that make it impossible for him to enter their stores without assistance. The owners of Nick & Nat's Uptown 21 have purchased a removable ramp to make their restaurant more accessible.


Lyn McGinnis is an able-bodied person fighting to open doors for people with disabilities.

McGinnis recently audited 100 downtown Waterloo businesses to see how many were accessible to people using wheelchairs.

He discovered more than half of the establishments are hard to enter and 43 completely inaccessible.

McGinnis took photos of the businesses and set up a Facebook page he graded them from A++ to F.

He rated two A++, 11 A+, 32 at B, 12 at C and gave 43 Fs.

For McGinnis, it all started earlier this summer when he went out for dinner with a friend who uses a wheelchair. Afterwards, they decided to go for a "walk" down King Street.

It was an eye-opener for him. His friend, Carmen Sutherland, couldn't enter any buildings that had steps in front of them — even one step was a barrier.

McGinnis realized, "Oh, she can't go in here, she can't go in here … Being with Carmen, really she couldn't go into half of these places. For her, this is normal."

McGinnis didn't think it was right. He got together with a few people and they formed the Waterloo Accessibility Watch. That's when he decided to do the audit to raise awareness and put the results on Facebook.

McGinnis realizes many of the businesses rent space and that the real authority to make changes lies with the landlords or owners. But he hopes the audit is a first step toward changing attitudes.

"Hopefully it will lead to a constructive response."

He points to a business that advertises an upstairs patio which is obviously out of reach for many physically challenged people.

"People in wheelchairs like to have fun, like everyone else," said McGinnis, a personal support worker with the Independent Living Centre who also has private clients.

He brought his friend, Nick Wendler, to an interview with a Record reporter Tuesday at a downtown Waterloo Starbucks. Wendler uses a wheelchair.

"Pretty well, everywhere you go, there's issues," Wendler said.

Wendler has upper body strength so he can open doors as long as they're not too heavy. But he's independent and prefers not to patronize businesses where he has to ask for help.

The two A++ businesses in Waterloo are ones that have sliding doors which open with a sensor.
Next best are the 11 A+ businesses that have automatic doors and ramps — which includes all the banks.
The 32 buildings without automatic doors were graded with a B for "accessible with effort."

McGinnis gave 12 businesses that have narrow or slanted entranceways, plus no automatic doors, a C for "accessible with difficulty."

Jill Clark is a volunteer with the Waterloo Region Family Network, which helps children with disabilities and their families. She is friends with Sutherland.

She thinks it's good business to be accessible. Businesses that aren't "are losing business," she said.
Accessible businesses appeal to a wide range of people, including the elderly, mothers with strollers, and people with cerebral palsy, for example.

One Waterloo business owner has responded to an approach from a disabled person by hiring a company to build an inexpensive portable ramp.

But Nick Benninger, of Nick & Nat's Uptown 21, concedes his restaurant does not have accessible washrooms. The small space and high cost would make that too expensive, he said.

The man in a wheelchair who approached Benninger about the problem now comes in for dinner with his friends, he said.

McGinnis called that "a positive development."

The Ontario government passed a law in 2005 requiring all buildings, services, goods and facilities in Ontario to become fully accessible by 2025.

"The battle since then has been to get it effectively implemented," said David Lepofsky, a blind lawyer and chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance.

Accessibility has been required under the Human Rights Code and the Charter of Rights for some time, Lepofsky said. But people had to sue to win these rights.

The Ontario government was to enact standards for different sectors of the economy, spelling out the requirements and setting out timelines, Lepofsky said. The government was to set up standards' committees for each sector.

"They've set up to do the first five. They've enacted four of them," Lepofsky said.

"Still languishing out there is the building code and built environment standards for organizations to know what they have to do."

The committee to discuss building standards was set up in 2010. Lepofsky said the government talked about coming up with building code amendments. But it hasn't happened yet.

The government passed an accessible customer service standard in 2007.

"But it's not as strong as we'd like," he said.

Businesses with more than 20 employees were given five years to file compliance reports. Lepofsky has been unable to find out how many businesses have filed reports.

"We need the disabilities act to be strong and effective, and effectively implemented and enforced so people don't have to do these audits."

As the needs of the disabled become more widely understood, and businesses see them as valuable customers, Lepofsky can foresee the day when people looking for space to rent a store will ask landlords if their space is accessible.

Sutherland is glad McGinnis did the audit.

"It will provide awareness to people on how many places … I couldn't get into," she said. "I would love to be able to go anywhere I choose."

To view the audit, do an internet search for Waterloo Region Accessibility Watch.
Email :

Source : The Record , 28th August 2013

Op-Ed: Princess in a wheelchair — Interview with author Jewel Kats

Toronto - Author Jewel Kats talks about her traumatic childhood accident that left her with lifetime physical limitations, yet only added to the spirit of the children's author who now brings hope to other people’s lives affected by trauma or injuries.

“Life isn’t over when you have disabilities. You can live to the fullest, and enjoy being a Princess in every shape and form!” This is the message with which award-wining Canadian author Jewel Kats will participate in the up-and-coming book signing event at the World’s Biggest Bookstore in Toronto. Author of Cinderella’s Magical Wheelchair, Kats penned a syndicated teen advice column for Scripps Howard News Service (USA) and TorStar Syndication Service (Canada). Living with permanent physical injuries from an accident in childhood, the 34-year-old “Diva on a wheelchair” is a living example of the resilient spirit of life that not only lives positively on its own but through her uplifting stories for children with physical limitations makes a difference in other lives at a time when they need it the most. I am honored to have a brief Q&A session with Jewel Kats for Digital Journal today.

Jewel, I first thank you for taking time for this Q&A. I’ll start with a somewhat painful question. Please tell us briefly about your childhood accident?

Jewel: My life-altering car accident occurred on a cold January night. I was nine-years-old. My mom and sister, Meghan, had left a school book fair. Nothing at the fair had squandered my interest. Mom thought she’d take us to a local mall to get a better selection. We never quite made it there. On an icy road outside the mall, a car smashed into my passenger side door. Glass from the windows shattered everywhere. Mom’s gut reaction was to turn around, and ask how her kids were. Meghan had glass all over her face, and hair. I felt nothing, and said I was “fine.” Mom looked out her window, and the car that had hit us was gone. She asked some teenage girls walking by to call my dad. As this happened, the other car had returned. Until this day, we don’t know if it was the same driver. When the time came to get out of the car, I couldn’t move. Ambulance workers had to cut the car door, and drag me out. My right leg ballooned under the weight of swelling. I was rushed to a local general hospital.

Ernest: What was the impact of this accident on your life, immediately and afterwards?

Jewel: I wasn’t upset that I’d gotten badly injured. Rather, I was ticked that a nurse had to cut my pants—they were pale blue and my absolute favorite—because the swelling was just so bad. After some x-rays, I was transferred to The Hospital for Sick Children in quick succession. I was operated on immediately, and spent weeks as an in-patient in a children’s ward. I returned home in a body cast that stretched from my chest to my ankle. I basically lost a year of my life to recovery. I used everything from a bed pan to stretcher to walker to crutches. Eventually, I did return to my public school environment. My parents instilled confidence in me, and I believe this is why I wasn’t picked on or bullied by my peers.

While coping with the impact of your trauma and loss, what were some of the primary sources of hope and happiness?

Jewel: The staff was amazing at The Hospital for Sick Children. We had these neat menus to pick yummy foods from. There were so many activities for even bedridden kids like me. Costume-clad characters would visit our rooms! (This is why I went back and volunteered in The Bear Theatre as a healthy adult.) My family was also enormously supportive. Mom and Meghan visited every single day, and sometimes Mom would even sleep over at the Hospital! I also coped via Archie Comics. I couldn’t get enough of Betty and Veronica. I spent hours reading colorful digests, and completing word search puzzles.

When did you start writing? Jewel: I started writing late in life. I was struck by the bug in 1999. The first thing I ever worked on was a touring musical about youth homelessness. I helped co-write the forum theater production, and eventually wound up on the front page of The Toronto Star’s entertainment section. I initially responded to an advertisement seeking high-risk youth to create a play about their experiences. I had to audition—even sing!—and was ultimately selected. That production changed my life.

Was it on your mind when publishing your first book for kids that empowering stories for children with physical limitations are largely needed in most cultures?

The first book I ever wrote was Cinderella’s Magical Wheelchair. It took five years, and several dozens of drafts to get the story right. I’d read every version of “Cinderella” on the market—be it with modern or multicultural twists—but I could never relate as a person with a disability. Hence, I decided it was about time to create a “Cinderella” character with physical differences. However, this book wasn’t picked up immediately. In fact, I received 100 rejection letters! I decided to take a break, and penned Reena’s Bollywood Dream: A Story About Sexual Abuse. This book was picked up by Loving Healing Press within 48 hours, and was in production for one year before it came out into print. Loving Healing Press went onto publish Cinderella’s Magical Wheelchair. Now, it’s one of my most well-received books! It even scooped up a silver medal this year from the Mom’s Choice Awards. I never gave up on my dream, and always knew it would one day come to fruit. I would visualize and visualize my dreams for hours on end.

Please share with our readers any positive or encouraging feedback from parents of disabled children who read your books and found it useful.

I’ve penned seven books thus far. I’ve received a ton of feedback from two of these works. Funny enough, both of these projects are very close to my heart. DitzAbled Princess: A Comical Diary Inspired by Real Life is basically a hybrid of a comic strip collection and graphic novel. The entire “cast” of characters is real. In fact, they are my family members! The starring character is, Jewel. She’s the quirky, cartoon version of me. This comic strip diary pokes fun at my life, and experiences as a woman with a disability. Women with disabilities have especially reached out to me after reading this work. They often say, at long last, an author has recorded that you can be a Diva with a disability! Moreover, life can be a riot even if a disability is involved.

Cinderella’s Magical Wheelchair has touched many parents who’ve told me that their daughters finally regard themselves as the princesses they always were. This is incredibly humbling to hear.

So Jewel, later this month at the World’s Biggest Bookstore event in Toronto, who would you love to see there?

On Aug. 31st, 2013, I will be at World’s Biggest Bookstore from 1 to 3 p.m. in downtown Toronto. I will be signing the following titles: Teddy Bear Princess, DitzAbled Princess, and Cinderella’s Magical Wheelchair. I hope to connect with female readers of all ages. I want to inspire them through my personal story—that is, life goes on after disability. You can be anyone you want to be. You just reach for the stars differently.

Ernest: What are you some of your current writing or creative projects?

Jewel: I’m currently working on Snow White’s Seven Patches: A Vitiligo Fairy Tale. The book is illustrated by Dan Goodfellow. It’s slated to come out in the late fall of 2013. In this adaptation, “Snow White” has seven Vitiligo skin patches in the shapes of the world’s seven continents. It’s basically a picture book about beauty and love. This is the first ever fairy tale in history about Vitiligo.


Thank you very much Kats for participating in this interview and telling us about your empowering work for people with special needs. I hope to keep up with your work in the coming weeks.

By Ernest Dempsey :

This opinion article was written by an independent writer.

Source : Digital Journal , 27th August 2013

A battle with preventable blindness : Chennai

G. Vasudharini (left) and her three sisters suffer from corneal dystrophy, a condition arising from a birth defect. Following a second corneal transplant, doctors are hopeful she will recover her sight — Photo: S.R. Raghunathan

 G. Vasudharini (left) and her three sisters suffer from corneal dystrophy, a condition arising from a birth defect. Following a second corneal transplant, doctors are hopeful she will recover her sight.


G. Vasudharini (17) should have started college this year but has just been admitted to class VIII. She lost five years of schooling to preventable blindness. 

Vasudharini’s parents are first cousins. The couple have four daughters and all of them suffer from corneal dystrophy, a condition which may be asymptomatic initially, but might require treatment including surgery at a later date. 

Among the sisters, Vasudharini suffered the most. She was brought to Rajan Eye Care Hospital when she was 10 and underwent a corneal transplant. But her parents did not return for a follow-up. 

“She couldn’t keep her eyes open. She was blind with photophobia and had to drop out of school. She could not even watch TV,” said Sujatha Mohan, who realised the surgery to correct Vasudharini’s vision had proved a waste. After her father’s death last year, Vasudharini’s maternal grandfather M. Shanmugam brought her to the hospital for consultation. 

Vasudharini underwent another transplant in her left eye. Four months ago, Dr. Sujatha performed an anterior lamellar corneal transplant (involving the four damaged layers of the cornea). On Wednesday, Vasudharini had a check-up. 

As she is young, she would recover her sight, the doctor said. She will also be given treatment to correct the squint she has developed from favouring her good eye. 

Vasudharini’s 10-year-old sister has also undergone a transplant but her older sisters suffer from a milder form of the condition. 

Mohan Rajan, medical director of the hospital, said 60 per cent of corneal blindness due to birth defects occurs in children below the age of 15 years. Of this, anywhere between 25 and 50 per cent of children are at risk for birth defects due to consanguinity. 

“If you can eradicate it effectively to a large extent we can prevent blindness. In India, close to one million children below the age of 15 are blind,” he added.

The fortnight between August 25 and September 8 is observed as National Eye Donation fortnight.

Source : The Hindu , 29th August 2013

Ravenshaw University installs software for visually-impaired students : CUTTACK

Ravenshaw University has installed a special software for visually-impaired students. This software, JAWS, reads out whatever is typed on the computer. The eight computers with this software have been kept at a special section in the Kanika library.

A scanner connected to these computers was also installed. It can read out the book placed inside it.

The varsity officials informed about these initiatives during the ceremony to welcome visually-impaired and physically handicapped students of the varsity, on Wednesday. "Our aim is to make the special students comfortable in the campus," said vice-chancellor Prof B C Tripathy.

"Blind students suffer a lot due to unavailability of Braille books at the undergraduate and post graduate levels. So we installed software at a cost of Rs 2 lakh," added the VC.

The authorities are planning to procure another high-end Zumax scanner and a Braille printer for the blind students and allocated Rs 10 lakh for these. With the help of Braille printer, blind students can take out prints of their study materials in Braille script. There are over 80 blind students studying in the university.

Varsity officials have also created facilities for physically-handicapped students too. "We have installed an elevator in the library and constructed ramps. Our next aim is to make the toilets in the university disable-friendly," Tripathy said.

Source : TOI , 29th August 2013

Students develop obstacle detecting device for blind : MUMBAI

The white and red cane used by the blind could soon become a thing of the past, if a blind navigation device that students of the Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute (VJTI) at Matunga are working on, is successful.

The portable device works on a system that combines an obstacle detection system using stereo vision. The device, which is in the testing stage, is expected to be ready for launch during the technological festival of the institute Technovanza in December.

According to Uday Agarwal, media coordinator for Technovanza, the project was started by former students last year as part of their project

work. “In simple language, the device consists of cameras mounted on spectacles that will send feeds of the terrain to the handheld computing device. The device will convert the video files into stereo signals that will be sent to vibrators attached to the body of the blind person. The vibrations will warn the wearer of the device of obstacles in front of them, thus allowing him to navigate (walk) without meeting with a mishap,” said Agarwal.

“The results are heartening, but there is a lot of work that needs to be done on it for making it a commercially viable proposition,” said Agarwal.

Source : The Asian Age , 29th August 2013

Extent of inclusivity : Thiruvanthapuram

Santosh A.S., CEO, Vygen Technologies

Santosh A.S., CEO, Vygen Technologies


Inclusivity in the workplace is growing in corporate India; IT firms, especially, have been striving to put it to good practice. Companies in Technopark claim to be right up there in this regard, with most of them having – at least on paper – corporate policies that aim at the same. Yet, a quick survey reveals that out of the 40, 000-plus people who work at IT/ITes companies in Technopark, less than 50 are persons with disabilities. Some accounts put the number at around 25, others say its less than 10; in short there’s no official count! The majority of them are said to be employed in BPOs.

P.K. Mohammed Salih, Technopark’s first visually impaired employee, who used to work in app development in Schogini Systems, says: “Once they get over the mindset that persons with disability are unemployable, most people, whether it is employers or colleagues or other techies, are sensitive to our needs and often go out of their way to help. I was fortunate to have supportive work environment where all my needs were met and I never faced a situation where I was caught out because of my disability. The company arranged suitable accommodation and I was picked up and dropped off at work. Even if I wanted to go to the canteen, I would be accompanied by my colleagues. The Leela building where I worked is to an extent disabled friendly – though, I recall, the elevator didn’t have voice activation. These little things count.”

A physically challenged IT professional, who does not wish to be identified, describes Technopark as “moderately disabled-friendly”, though she does say that getting around campus is a bit of a task, especially if there is no access to company cabs. Abhilash D.S., officer, HR and administration, Technopark, explains: “All the new buildings have ramps for wheelchairs, while older buildings such as Nila (the first building) do not. Park Centre was fitted with ramps when it was re-modelled. Although, Tejaswini and Bhavani do not have ramps, employees can access elevators from basement car parking areas.” Some of the buildings also have disabled-friendly toilets.

On the flip side, though, some say that there are infrastructural issues within these facilities itself. For example, there are no grab bars on the ramps, which makes it difficult for disabled people who don’t have access to wheelchairs and also for people who find themselves having to move around with a cast on their legs. “Also, in many of the buildings/ toilets floors are of granite, which again makes it slippery for wheelchairs. In Bhavani building, no physically challenged person can access restrooms because all them are actually one step above the surface level of the floor!” says a concerned techie.


Their numbers may not be huge but some people with disablities in Technopark have managed to make a mark - perhaps none more so than Santosh A.S. He is Technopark’s only chief executive officer who is physically challenged. Santosh, a victim of polio, who holds a diploma in software engineering and animation, started Vygen Technologies that deals in web application development, mobile apps and cloud services in 2012. Ratheesh N., a director of the company, is also physically challenged. Says the 30-year-old Santosh, who through his policies at Vygen, is sort of an advocate for inclusivity in the workplace: “These days, the challenge is not the disability but in the attitude of society. We’re not exploiting our potential because society is not giving us the opportunity.”

His own rise to success is an example, he adds. “I had my share of challenges when I was setting up Vygen; I still have to deal with condescending attitudes on a daily basis. But if you move forward with a positive frame of mind you can do anything.” Santosh is now in the process of setting up Vygen Rehabilitation Centre for the Physically Challenged, that aims at training and finding employment in IT services for some 500 people. “People with disabilities are as focussed and as intelligent as any other person and most of them can use their hands. They are thus capable of doing IT jobs such as animation and web development.”

Source : The Hindu , 29th August 2013

People Who Are Blind Can Have Successful Careers

Here’s something many may consider eye-opening news: A person who is blind can perform almost any job as well as a sighted person. Today, people who are blind seamlessly use computers, operate machinery and serve in management roles—but many misconceptions still exist about what they are capable of in the workplace.

There are roughly 6.3 million Americans with significant vision loss who have a high school degree or GED and 4.8 million with a bachelor’s degree or higher.

What many employers don’t realize is that for certain jobs, only a modest investment in technology is needed to accommodate an employee who is blind, and a great many jobs require no investment at all.
For example, there are computer programs that enlarge text on the screen and others that digitally read text into headphones, enabling people who are blind to do any job that requires a computer. Many smartphones and computers now include assistive technology as a standard feature at no additional cost, so people who are blind can operate even more independently in their professional and personal lives. With the snap of a picture, there’s an app that will read printed text or tell you what is in a photo. With only slight modifications, manufacturing processes and machining can now be managed by a person who is blind.

Nevertheless, a survey commissioned by National Industries for the Blind (NIB) found that most people responsible for hiring believe there are few jobs a person who is blind can perform.

Said Kevin Lynch, president and CEO of NIB, “One of the many services we offer customers is contact center management, and often, folks are surprised to learn their customer service representative is a person who is blind.”

NIB and its nationwide network of nonprofit agencies provide employment opportunities and career training for thousands of people who are blind, proving that when it comes to doing productive and creative work that has a positive impact on the bottom line, being blind is not a limitation.

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Source : NAPSNET

Researchers Discover a Potential Cause of Autism


Key enzymes are found to have a ‘profound effect’ across dozens of genes linked to autism. The insight could help illuminate environmental factors behind autism spectrum disorder and contribute to a unified theory of how the disorder develops. 


Problems with a key group of enzymes called topoisomerases can have profound effects on the genetic machinery behind brain development and potentially lead to autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to research announced today in the journal Nature. Scientists at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine have described a finding that represents a significant advance in the hunt for environmental factors behind autism and lends new insights into the disorder’s genetic causes.


Topoisomerase inhibitors reduce the expression of long genes in neurons, including a remarkable number of genes implicated in Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Our study shows the magnitude of what can happen if topoisomerases are impaired. Inhibiting these enzymes has the potential to profoundly affect neurodevelopment ...

“Our study shows the magnitude of what can happen if topoisomerases are impaired,” said senior study author Mark Zylka, PhD, associate professor in the Neuroscience Center and the Department of Cell Biology and Physiology at UNC. “Inhibiting these enzymes has the potential to profoundly affect neurodevelopment — perhaps even more so than having a mutation in any one of the genes that have been linked to autism.”

The study could have important implications for ASD detection and prevention.

“This could point to an environmental component to autism,” said Zylka. “A temporary exposure to a topoisomerase inhibitor in utero has the potential to have a long-lasting effect on the brain, by affecting critical periods of brain development. ”

This study could also explain why some people with mutations in topoisomerases develop autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders.

Topiosomerases are enzymes found in all human cells. Their main function is to untangle DNA when it becomes overwound, a common occurrence that can interfere with key biological processes.

Most of the known topoisomerase-inhibiting chemicals are used as chemotherapy drugs. Zylka said his team is searching for other compounds that have similar effects in nerve cells. “If there are additional compounds like this in the environment, then it becomes important to identify them,” said Zylka. “That’s really motivating us to move quickly to identify other drugs or environmental compounds that have similar effects — so that pregnant women can avoid being exposed to these compounds.”

Zylka and his colleagues stumbled upon the discovery quite by accident while studying topotecan, a topoisomerase-inhibiting drug that is used in chemotherapy. Investigating the drug’s effects in mouse and human-derived nerve cells, they noticed that the drug tended to interfere with the proper functioning of genes that were exceptionally long — composed of many DNA base pairs. The group then made the serendipitous connection that many autism-linked genes are extremely long.

“That’s when we had the ‘Eureka moment,’” said Zylka. “We realized that a lot of the genes that were suppressed were incredibly long autism genes.”

Of the more than 300 genes that are linked to autism, nearly 50 were suppressed by topotecan. Suppressing that many genes across the board — even to a small extent — means a person who is exposed to a topoisomerase inhibitor during brain development could experience neurological effects equivalent to those seen in a person who gets ASD because of a single faulty gene.

The study’s findings could also help lead to a unified theory of how autism-linked genes work. About 20 percent of such genes are connected to synapses — the connections between brain cells. Another 20 percent are related to gene transcription — the process of translating genetic information into biological functions. Zylka said this study bridges those two groups, because it shows that having problems transcribing long synapse genes could impair a person’s ability to construct synapses.

“Our discovery has the potential to unite these two classes of genes — synaptic genes and transcriptional regulators,” said Zylka. “It could ultimately explain the biological mechanisms behind a large number of autism cases.”

The study’s coauthors include Benjamin Philpot (co-senior author), Terry Magnuson, Ian King, Chandri Yandava, Angela Mabb, Hsien-Sung Huang, Brandon Pearson, J. Mauro Calabrese, Joshua Starmer and Joel Parker from UNC and Jack S. Hsiao and Stormy Chamberlain of the University of Connecticut Health Center.

You Tube Video :

Source : PR Web , 29th August 2013

Pakistan warns of polio outbreak after fresh cases

Health officials in Pakistan on Wednesday warned of a serious polio outbreak after the disease was detected in 16 children in a tribal district where militant groups have banned vaccination.
Doctor Khayal Mir Jan, the top health official in Pakistan's militant-infested North Waziristan tribal district, on the Afghan border, told AFP that thousands of children were at risk.

Pakistan is one of only three countries in the world where the highly infectious, crippling disease remains endemic. Infections shot up from a low of 28 in 2005 to almost 200 last year.

"Polio virus has been detected in 16 children since the Taliban ban," Jan told AFP.

"We are waiting for the result of the stool samples of another 42 children suspected of having the disease."
Local warlord Hafiz Gul Bahadur banned polio vaccinations in Waziristan in June 2012, alleging the campaign was a cover for espionage.

Bahadur, who is allied with Afghan Taliban fighting US-led troops across the border, said the ban would remain until the US stops drone attacks in the tribal regions. North Waziristan has borne the brunt of the strikes.

Health officials said the disease is in danger of becoming an epidemic and voiced fears that it could spread to the neighbouring districts if vaccination was not begun immediately.

"Every day we are receiving children with polio, we will have to start an anti-polio campaign, otherwise it's becoming epidemic," Jan told AFP.

Most of the children affected were under five years old. Jan said nine cases were detected in Mir Ali town while seven were detected in Miranshah, the main town of North Waziristan.

An administrative official in the area said efforts were underway to talk to militant groups and support from Islamic scholars had also been sought.

Officials said more than 240,000 in North and South Waziristan were at risk due the ban and have not been administered polio drops since the ban.

An World Health Organization official, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed: "Scores of polio cases have been reported in North Waziristan."

"Several other children have also been paralysed in North Waziristan but we are waiting for their test result as we don't know what virus paralysed them," the official said.

Source : Medical Xpress , 28th August 2013

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

'263 crore invested for welfare of differently abled' : Chennai

B Valamarathi, Minister for Social Welfare, and other dignitaries at the inauguration of ‘Orientation course on equal opportunities for persons with disabilities in employment’ on Tuesday.

 B Valamarathi, Minister for Social Welfare, and other dignitaries at the inauguration of ‘Orientation course on equal opportunities for persons with disabilities in employment’ on Tuesday. 


The State Government has invested Rs 263 crore for the welfare of the differently abled, said Social Welfare Minister B Valaramathi.

She was speaking at the one-day seminar on ‘Orientation  course on equal opportunities for persons with disabilities in employment’, organised by the Tamil Nadu Health System Project on the DMS Campus in the city on Tuesday. The Minister outlined the efforts carried out by government to provide employment for people with disabilities. This year, the government has invested `263 crore for the welfare of the differently abled, she said.“The government has already provided 358 jobs to the differently abled through the Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission. 1,900 differently abled people have benefited by the training programmes conducted by the government. The Teachers Recruitment Board has provided another 468 jobs in the category,” she said.

She added that the government had appointed a specialised committee to provide employment for the differently abled and look in to their concerns.

She asked the officials present at the event to identify the various categories where the jobs can be provided for the differently abled in their particular departments. The event saw presentations on a range of topics including ‘Provisions of Persons with Disabilities Act (PWD  Act) 1995 relating to employment  rules and reservation policy of Tamil Nadu’. In his presentation on the PWD Act, Deputy Director of the Commissioner for Welfare of the Differently abled said that there must be continuous monitoring of the status of jobs provided under the reservation categories.

He stressed on direct recruitment and promotions, and coordination with employment exchange programs when it came to the recruitment of the differently abled.

The other sessions included implementation of various statutory provisions, government orders relating to employment of differently abled and also a brainstorming session on strategies for improving productivity of visually impaired, hearing impaired and locomotor differently abled.

Source : The New Indian Express , 28th August 2013

Premature birth linked to low IQ, cerebral palsy: Canadian study


Babies born "extremely" prematurely are most at risk for severe developmental problems between the ages of four to eight, according to a new study.

The study — published by Dr. Gregory Moore and colleagues at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, the Children's Hospital of Ontario and the University of Ottawa — states infants born at 22 to 25 weeks gestation began showing signs of problems including significant lower IQ, cerebral palsy and impaired vision and hearing.

While the risk of developing those issues didn't change for children delivered at 22 to 25 weeks, the risk dropped by 6% for every extra week of gestation.

"When parents learn that their baby may be born extremely prematurely, some of them want to know what to expect, and we really haven't been able to give them good answers," said Moore, a neonatologist, in a statement.

Source : Chatham Daily News , 27th August 2013

Handicapped girl raped in Guntur

A 16-year-old physically challenged girl was allegedly raped by her neighbour in Lingapuram village of Amaravathi mandal on Monday.
Police said that one Bobbili Subba Rao, who lives in the victim’s neighbourhood, had forcibly taken her to a nearby hut and had outraged her modesty. The victim’s parents were at their agricultural field at the time of the incident.

Based on the complaint lodged by the girl’s mother, the police has filed a case. The victim has been sent to GGH for medical examination and a police team has been formed to nab the accused.

Source : Deccan Chronicle , 28th August 2013

Physically challenged woman ‘raped’ by cousin : MUMBAI

The Vasai police Tuesday registered a case against a youth for allegedly raping his 32-year-old physically-challenged cousin for the past six months. The accused, 25, is currently absconding.

According to Vasai police officers, the crime was exposed when the victim complained of pain in her stomach and was taken to the hospital. The hospital authorities alerted the police when they found that the victim was pregnant.

The police said the accused allegedly raped the woman in January while her family was away. In her complaint, the woman said the accused raped her twice in February. She mentioned that he had threatened her with dire consequences if she revealed the incident to anybosy, the police said. "We have registered a case of rape against the accused and are recording the statements of the victim and her family members," said the police.

Source : The Indian Express , Mumbai ; 28th August 2013

Was 'Iqbal' inspired by this Baba?

A talented batsman who played for Bombay and Maharashtra, Baba Sidhaye too was partially mute  and deaf. His widow saw 'Baba' in Iqbal on the silver screen and insisted that he was just like the lead character in the film.

The film 'Iqbal' will still be fresh in many of our memories. Seeing a mute boy struggle to reach the Indian national cricket team made many viewers teary-eyed. No one knew that this touching tale was perhaps not that fictional.

A talented batsman who played for Bombay and Maharashtra, Baba Sidhaye too was partially mute  and deaf. His widow saw 'Baba' in Iqbal on the silver screen and his family insisted that just like the lead character in the film, Baba too came from a small village (Konshi near Sawantwadi in Maharashtra) to Pune to play cricket.

Compensation is not what the family wanted. All they wanted was recognition. They felt 'Iqbal' owed an acknowledgment to being inspired by Baba.

Baba Sidhaye played 42 Ranji matches for Maharashtra, Mumbai and Railways from 1952 to 1967-68. He scored 1417 runs, at an average of 24.86, with a century (135) against Baroda at Nashik in 1956-57, seven half centuries and 29 catches to his credit.

Besides being a very good right hand middle-order batsman, he was a brilliant fielder in the covers. If Pataudi was Tiger, Baba Sidhaye was Panther. Bapu Nadkarni was his captain for Maharashtra and Hindu Gymkhana.

Nadkarni remembers, "He was a wonderfully gifted player. Under my captaincy, he scored three centuries, each one being a gem. And what a fielder! He and Ravi Bhadbhade in the covers were simply brilliant. Getting the ball past them was impossible. Baba enjoyed his cricket and didn't bother about anything."

Baba never let his handicap hinder his game. The grandson of the great CK and former captain of MP and Central Zone, Vijay Nayudu remembers seeing Baba first in 1958-59 at the nets of PJ Hindu Gymkhana. Later he played along with him for the Gymkhana.

Nayudu says, "Pune had produced many stalwart cricketers since the days of Prof DB Deodhar. But Baba Sidhye was a self-made cricketer. He had the trait Pune cricketers were so imbibed with: "simplicity". Easily approachable, they were always eager to share their experience with youngsters.

"Baba was always cheerful and took jokes from his teammates sportingly. To say that he had mastered the art of looking at the wicket-keeper and throwing the ball at the non-striker's end would be an understatement. He often caught the non-striker by surprise and had quite a few dismissals to his credit.

"Baba remained a regular for Hindu Gymkhana for many years during the 50s and 60s. Once, he was dropped from the playing XI and I was included in his place. I was embarrassed to face him but Baba came to me and said in his typical style "Changla khel, aaplyla jinkayache aahe, Tu karu shakto". (Play well. We have to win. You can do it) I was moved by his gesture. He was such a humble person and a great teammate. He played the game as it should be played," Nayudu says.

When it came to hunting talent, Baba's eyes were like a vulture's. As a summer vacation coach of the MCA at the Ghatkopar Jolly Gymkhana, Baba spotted a young Balwinder Singh Sandhu.

"Though he was partially mute , we all could understand what he wanted to say and he gave us great tips. What he couldn't speak, he would demonstrate. We used plastic coated bats which weren't good but Baba had no problems. He would tonk the ball on the adjoining Central Railway tracks and the motorman would honk in appreciation of the shot. Never in my life did I attend the kind of fielding practice that he would give. Baba fielded amazingly. He loved stopping the ball and throwing it in one action. I must say he was a guiding force for me," says Sandhu.

He made sure he passed all that he knew to youngsters. The fact that they couldn't understand what he spoke was never a problem. Baba Sidhaye reminds one of the saying that love has no language. He loved cricket and spread that love as far and wide as he could.

Source : TOI , 28th August 2013

Time for Raas leela : Ludhiana

Students of the School for Deaf and Dumb children showed rhythm flows in the body, if you can't hear the beats, you can very well feel them. Dancing to the popular number, "Madhuban mein jo kanhaiya," as part of Janmashtami celebrations, the kids showed the audience what Krishna's raas leela must have stood for - the beauty of the mind, innocence, purity, unconditional love and complete faith.

The children looked delightful in traditional attire, playing the roles of Krishna, Radhas and their friends with a natural ease. None of them could hear the music but they made perfect time. Those who witnessed the performance could not help being awed by the spectacular performance.

Schools in the city celebrated Krishna Janmashtami on the premises.

Source : TOI , 28th August 2013

Workshop on ‘mental health’ : DIMAPUR ( Nagaland )

Resource person (inset) speaks to the audience at workshop on ‘mental health

Resource person (inset) speaks to the audience at workshop on ‘mental health


One day workshop on ‘mental health’ was conducted for People with Disabilities (PWDs) and their parents by Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) Tuesday at Mokokchung Compound Baptist Church. Altogether 40 PWDs and their parents attended the programme.

The resource person MS TB Hospital Dr. Aka spoke on the topic whereby he highlighted the types of mental illness and its causes.

Dr. Aka asserted that as parents and relatives or neighbors one need to accept mental illness as any other illness and treat the person with concern and sincerity.

He then added that acceptance and support for the mentally ill person is vital to their existence.

Chairman (C & SS) Imchawati Kichu also highlighted the rights of PWDs and encouraged the mass to constructively advocate so as to access their given rights and added that rights should be used as means to empower the PWDs.

 The workshop was led by CBR worker Bendangmongla and associate Pastor MCBA Narola pronounced the invocation prayer.

Source  :  Nagaland Post , 27th August

Indo-Pak blind series next year

Pakistan Blind Cricket Council (PBCC) Wednesday said Pakistan-India series will be staged here next year to improve the cricketing-ties between both the countries. Talking to APP, World Blind Cricket Council (WBCC) and PBCC Chairman Syed Sultan Shah the series will be played in February next year. “PBCC has finalized three venues including Islamabad, Lahore and Faisalabad for the series. “The series will comprise Three ODI and Three Twenty-20 matches,” he said.

Syed Sultan Shah said both the countries will give each other a tough competition as both teams are ranked at top slots in the ranking. “From this series we can get a handful of talented players for our future assignments,” he said.

The Chairman said the teams of Pakistan and India are the best in the World of Blind Cricket. “Pakistan is the champion of two ODI World Cups while India is the Twenty-20 champion,” he added.

He said cricket is a tool to make both the countries relations better and prosperous. “If both the countries can have any type of cricket activities it would result in the betterment of the economy of both the countries and would further provide business opportunities also,” he said.

Sultan Shah suggested that a series named on any of the former cricketers name should be organized in order to mark friendship between both the countries memorable.

Source : Associated Press of Pakistan , 28th August 2013

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Putting them on the fast track to success : Kochi

Taking a cue from the success of last year’s project, the District  Panchayat will distribute 400 more paraplegic-friendly vehicles. Last year, it had distributed 68 vehicles thus helping many differently abled  to  eke out a decent living.

“We are distributing vehicles worth Rs 60,000. The district panchayat has already earmarked Rs 2 crore in this regard. We have invited applications and the last date is Friday,” District Panchayat president Eldhose Kunnapilly said.

There are certain criterion to avail the benefits of the project. The project is not open in the Municipality and the Corporation limits but only in panchayats. The applicant should have more than 40 per cent disability.  His/ her upper part of the body should be in perfect shape to ride the vehicle. The applicant must be drawing less than Rs 30,000 annually as income. The application should be written in a white paper and must be submitted at the Social Justice Department at Kakkanad.

Eldose Kunnapilly said those who have not received the benefits of the  scheme before can apply. It should be certified by a panchayat secretary and  a district panchayat member. Only those who are below 60 need to apply. “Though we give priority for those with licence, we will not exempt those  who does not have it. A medical board will examine and determine the disability. The vehicles will be distributed after that,” he said.
Once every criterion are fulfilled, we will start distribution of the vehicle by December. Purchasing 400 vehicles at a stretch is a hard task. So, we will buy 20-25 vehicles and distribute it. Last year, the vehicles made by Mahindra were distributed. But, we are yet to finalise it,” he said.

Kunnappilly said the vehicles will be retained as the assets of the District Panchayat. “In many similar projects undertaken by other entities, the beneficiary has to put in some money. Here, we are trying to distribute it free to the poor. Investing money will be a Herculean task for them. So the vehicles will remain as district panchayat’s assets,” he said.

Source : The New Indian Express , 26th August 2013

City hospital helps polio victims walk on own feet : New Delhi

Shaheen Begum, an 18-year-old girl from Rampur in Uttar Pradesh who was at the city’s St Stephen’s Hospital for a corrective surgery, was disappointed when she had to spend Eid earlier this month away from home.

“Instead, I spent the day with the doctors and other hospital employees. They are everything to me now,” says Shaheen, who had lived with bent knees and hip almost all her life after developing polio in her infancy.
She is undergoing osteotomy — a surgery to shorten, lengthen or change the alignment of misshaped bones — of the knees and hip at Tis Hazari hospital, which is the only place in India with a dedicated ward for free corrective surgeries for people with deformities associated with polio.
Supported by Rotary International, the polio ward at the hospital caters to people from across the country, though most of its patients are from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar where polio flourished till two years ago.
Like her, Neelam Dahiya, a 27-year-old anganwadi worker from Nangloi in west Delhi, is there to get her leg and foot deformity corrected. She has been going through corrective procedures for the past two years as part of multiple surgeries she has to undergo at various stages to be able to walk again. “I have full faith in the doctor that I’ll be able to stand on my feet one day,” she said.
India has not reported a new polio case since January 13, 2011, but the eight-bed ward at the hospital is always full of people who developed the disease decades ago and have lived with deformities ever since. Most people getting treated are above 18 years old and the hospital works at giving them a new lease of life through corrective surgeries.
“We are committed to ensure the dignity of living and change the quality of life for polio-affected people. The primary aim of polio-corrective surgeries is to make people as independent as possible. We believe in making them stand on their feet without replacing their knees, as practiced by other private hospitals,” said Dr Mathew Varghese, the head of orthopaedics at the hospital.
The plastic-distraction technique used to straighten the legs of polio-affected patients is a procedure developed at St Stephen’s. The curved parts of leg are connected with a rod using a screw or buckle. “This is a special technique for correcting bent legs. The patient is trained to turn the buckle daily, which allows the rod to extend and as a result straighten the limbs. It is a very slow process and takes between six weeks and two months to repair the limbs,” the doctor explained.
The other few corrective surgeries include recurvation osteotomy for recurvative deformity where the knee bends the wrong way, the ilizarov technique for lengthening or reshaping limbs, and arthrodesis for paralysed or deformed joints. There are other corrective surgeries like paralytic scoliosis for repairing twisted spine and transfer of tendons to cure paralysis of thumb or ape-thumb.
“Walking without support is possible with surgical procedures but callipers are given to support the limbs. Callipers are important to prevent deformation after surgery. If a patient stops using callipers then after two or three months, the limbs may get deformed again. We train them to use callipers at the hospital and also repair them free of cost,” added Dr Varghese.
Apart from conducting 600 reconstructive surgeries per year, the hospital gives food to the patients and their relatives.

Source : Hindustan Times , 26th August 2013