April 2012 Archives

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) announced today the launch of a new report calling for a travel-industry dialogue aimed at elevating the role of the travel agent industry, a critical sales force for the entire travel and tourism industry.

CLIA's new report, "From Travel Agent to 'Travel Advisor': Defining, Elevating and Promoting the Role of Travel Agents for the Next Generation," outlines the state of the travel agent business today, emphasizing the important role it plays for the broader travel industry, and identifies some of the key issues that the profession must address to continue to be successful in 2012 and beyond. The announcement was made during cruise3sixty, the official travel agency conference of the cruise line industry.

"Our aim in outlining this case is to begin a meaningful, industry-wide dialogue that articulates the unique role agents play in today's travel industry and considers the steps necessary to develop a strategic roadmap for developing the next generation of travel agents," said Christine Duffy, CLIA president and CEO. "The travel agent profession is critical to the entire travel industry, yet we have not taken a comprehensive look at its value or considered a coordinated industry dialogue until now."

With the rise of online travel booking engines, proliferation of customer review sites, and changing commission models, the image of the travel agency profession has changed dramatically in recent years. Despite the public perception that the agent industry is in decline, in 2011, according to PhoCusWright, it processed $95 billion in travel sales, accounting for one-third of all travel sold. This total includes 45 percent of all airline tickets, 67 percent of tours and 68 percent of cruises. In addition, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts growth in the travel agent workforce, which is poised to increase about 10 percent between 2010 and 2020, which is on par with average predicted overall U.S. job growth.

The report calls attention to the long history of and evolving value proposition of travel agents over the decades, and it poses questions to the agents and the broader travel industry as to how the agent profession can adapt to the changing environment and thrive. The report aims to stimulate ideas and coalesce industry support around the concept of a unified effort to better position travel agents for future success, and to shift the conversation about agents from one of survival to growth.

"The evolution of the travel agency industry will have a direct and powerful impact on the U.S. and global travel and tourism industry in the coming years," said Tony Gonchar, CEO of the American Society of Travel Agents and major contributors to CLIA's report. "CLIA's report is an excellent first step to help begin a dialogue with the travel industry to ensure the future growth of the travel agency community and the whole of the travel industry."

For more information and to download the full report, please visit www.cruising.org.

Source: http://www.travel-impact-newswire.com/2012/04/cruise-industry-report-woos-travel-agents/

As the profile of global travellers changes to reflect ageing societies, the design and supply of travel industry products and services will also have to change accordingly. The following media release will help address one of the most serious risks facing older travellers: the threat of falling down in homes and bathrooms, a risk they also face when travelling, especially in hotels.

For those 65 and older, falling can be fatal; in fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that falls are the leading cause of injury-related deaths among this age group, and some 40 percent of seniors fall at least once each year. Additionally, one in four who sustains a hip fracture from a fall will die within a year, and another 50 percent will never return to their pre-fall level of mobility. With May designated as Older Americans Month, Health Net, Inc. (NYSE:HNT) is using the occasion to share with seniors steps they can take to prevent potentially life-threatening falls.

"In addition to making their homes as fall-proof as possible, older Americans also can take steps that will both improve wellness and reduce the risk of falling."

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Administration on Aging (AoA), one in every eight Americans is now 65 or older. "This means that a sizeable segment of the population is at risk for falling," says Jonathan Scheff, M.D., chief medical officer for Health Net, Inc. "For the elderly," he adds, "falls often lead to a downward health spiral, so the key is taking steps to prevent falls in the first place. Older Americans are living longer than ever, and our goal at Health Net is to help them avoid debilitating injuries and enjoy their golden years."

Home fall-prevention checklist

The National Safety Council notes that - during any given week - more than 30,000 Americans over the age of 65 are seriously injured by falling, and the majority of those falls occur at home. "These are largely preventable injuries," explains Scheff, "so we're urging seniors to follow the AoA's recommendations for preventing falls at home." These recommendations include:

  • Install handrails on both sides of any stairways;
  • Secure all throw rugs and area rugs with tacks, nonskid pads, or double-sided rug tape;
  • Use non-skid floor wax;
  • Remove soap buildup in tubs and showers;
  • Place non-slip strips in tub and shower; secure bathmats with double-sided tape;
  • Install adjustable-height showerheads;
  • Mount grab bars on both sides of toilet, as well as on bath and shower walls;
  • Keep items used frequently within easy reach to eliminate the need for a step stool;
  • Plug nightlights in hallways, bedrooms, bathrooms and stairways;
  • Install light switches at the top and bottom of stairs;
  • Place a lamp and telephone near your bed;
  • Remove any clutter from hallways and other high-traffic areas.

Wellness fall-prevention checklist

As Scheff points out, "In addition to making their homes as fall-proof as possible, older Americans also can take steps that will both improve wellness and reduce the risk of falling." Toward this end, the CDC suggests that seniors:

  • Exercise regularly, because lack of exercise leads to weakness, which in turn increases the chances of falling; exercises that improve balance - such as yoga and Tai chi - are especially beneficial;
  • Review with your health-care provider the medications - both over-the-counter and prescription - that you're currently taking to determine if any are causing significant drowsiness or disorientation, as these conditions increase the risk of falling;
  • Have your vision checked regularly to detect conditions - such as glaucoma or cataracts - that could impair vision and possibly cause a fall; those who wear glasses also should have annual vision tests.

Scheff additionally suggests that seniors contact their health plan and ask if they offer fall-prevention assistance. "At Health Net," he says, "our Medicare Advantage members can be referred to a health coach who will assess their risk of falling and then help them take steps designed to prevent falls."

Medical Advice Disclaimer

The information provided is not intended as medical advice or as a substitute for professional medical care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other health provider for any questions you may have regarding your medical condition and follow your health care provider's instructions.

For more information on Health Net, Inc., please visit Health Net's website atwww.healthnet.com.

Source: http://www.travel-impact-newswire.com/2012/04/tips-to-help-senior-citizens-avert-risk-of-falling-down-in-homes-hotels/

More than 600 Network Rail employees have volunteered to become Travel Champions for London 2012 enthusiastically supporting visitors travelling through London railway stations during the Olympic and Paralympic Games this year.
Network Rail acknowledge that inheriting the railway infrastructure which dates back from the 1800s would bring its challenges - and have seen through an extensive programme of investment in modernising and rebuilding Britain's railways. Network Rail is also aware that inclusive customer service plays a great part in helping overcome access barriers in the built environment disabled people have to face.

Wideaware Training having previously developed e-learning for the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) and were asked to design a solution to complement customer service training the Travel Champions would be receiving. 

Maria Zedda, Managing Director at Wideaware, said: "We are delighted to be able to collaborate with Network Rail to develop a type of online training that is truly engaging and realistic, helping travel champions understand the challenges disabled travellers face during their rail journeys and throughout London. With the current access barriers in London's transport and infrastructure, and the sheer number of visitors expected to arrive during the London 2012 games, volunteers need to be prepared.

 The ability of Network Rail's Travel Champions to effectively support disabled travellers, their families and friends in a way that is appropriate will be crucial to ensure everyone can enjoy and experience the Games as equally as possible and relish this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We know that whenever there are access barriers and prejudice and assumptions towards disabled people, inclusive customer service can make a huge difference". 

Website: http://www.wideaware.co.uk 

Universal design, which employs design to encourage health and wellness and other quality-of-life improvements, may be poised to become the next mainstream endeavor in architecture and planning, according to two leading experts in the field.

Edward Steinfeld, director of UB's Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access (IDeA Center), and Jordana L. Maisel, the center's director of outreach and policy studies, are authors of a new textbook, "Universal Design: Creating Inclusive Environments."

"We believe we are close to a watershed moment," the authors write in the preface to the book, which was released on April 10 and includes chapters on housing, interior design, transportation and more. "Whether they know the term or not, the work of leading architects and design firms reflects the adoption of universal design concepts."

Universal design is design that empowers diverse populations by improving human performance, promoting health and wellness, and encouraging social participation.

Thinkers and practitioners in the field consider such questions as how the design of city streets can inspire healthy habits like walking and bicycling, or how a home can be made comfortable not just for a person with average abilities, but for a wounded soldier or aging visitor. Designers also create complex products that support multitasking without safety risks.

Just as sustainability and green design--once the province of a few idealists--came into vogue at the end of the 20th century, universal design now is coming of age, says Maisel, an urban planner.

Forces including demographic change, a consumer-oriented and increasingly diverse culture, and the need for doing more with less are driving demand for buildings, public spaces and products that meet the needs of people of many different abilities, needs and preferences, she says.

Though universal design benefits people of all ages, the aging of the population is an important driver of the field. Universal design enables residents to stay in their own homes and neighborhoods for as long as possible, and supports their continued participation in social life.

Universal design has roots in the disability rights movement, whose proponents fought for buildings and infrastructure to be more accessible.

Designers realized that barriers to access often were caused by the lack of a human-centered design philosophy. Because anyone can encounter barriers to safety, usability and social participation, universal design seeks to provide benefits to all, rather than special provisions for a protected group.

"Universal design provides universal benefits across the life span," says Steinfeld, a professor of architecture in the School of Architecture and Planning. "It increases safety and security for children, reduces stress and improves wellness for those of working age, and it supports independence and social engagement in old age."

The new textbook, published by Wiley, is a useful, forward-looking resource for both students and practitioners of architecture and planning; it also can serve as a reference for researchers.

The book's production was supported in part by the UB IDeA Center and Toronto Rehabilitation Institute's Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Universal Design in the Built Environment, an effort funded by the U.S. Department of Education's National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research.


From Universal Design.com:

Ed Steinfeld addresses the GUDC meeting

The effort to create voluntary worldwide universal design standards for the built environment and products was launched May 30 at the Global Universal Design Commission (GUDC) meeting in Syracuse, NY.

Among the 40 people in attendance at the group's inaugural meeting, were representatives from the United Nations and other government agencies, commercial development and the disability, aging and design communities. The meeting, which was webcast, included the announcement of a consensus process for developing voluntary universal design standards and a measurement system to guide the application of universal design of the built environment and products.

A proposed conceptual framework for the standard, which can be found at www.globaluniversaldesign.org, was outlined by board member Edward Steinfeld, Arch D, AIA, Professor at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York.

Full article:


Reprinted from Channel 4 News a contribution to No Go Britain found at facebook.com/nogobritain and youtube.com/nogobritain:
As young people from Whizz-Kidz set out to test London's buses, trains and boats for disabled users in Olympic year, its Kidz Board delivers a transport manifesto for No Go Britain.
Young disabled test London transport ahead of Olympics. (Whizz-Kidz)

There are 70,000 disabled children and young people living in the UK. This summer, many of them will be hoping to travel to London for the Olympics and Paralympic Games.

Today, 10 young people from Whizz-Kidz, some in wheelchairs, are taking part in a practise journey to London's Olympic stadium.

You can follow @nogobritain on Twitter to see how they get on.

Writing for Channel 4 News, the group's Kidz Board members outline what they would like to see improved in transport accessibility, as we head toward the biggest sporting events on earth.


All buses to be power-wheelchair and manual-wheelchair accessible. All taxis to have not just ramps, but ramps that a powered-wheelchair and manual-wheelchair can use safely.

Minimise the need to pre-book assistance (taxis and trains) as this reduces the potential for spontaneity and independence. Stations should be made more accessible e.g. clear signposting to lifts.

If I were travelling to the Olympics or Paralympics, in terms of accessibility I would like there to be priority boarding for wheelchair users on all public transport.

Audit public transport information - to ensure that all accessibility information and timetables are available in multiple formats.


We want taxi and bus drivers to put down the ramp straight away without you having to ask and being made to feel as though you are a nuisance. And we'd like as many drivers and staff as possible to get disability-awareness training so they are happy to help wheelchair users so everything runs smoothly and everyone is happy.


More accessible toilets on commuter trains, further, better upkeep of these as they are frequently out of order. Seatbelts in buses and taxis for wheelchairs to be secured.

Young disabled test London transport ahead of Olympics.

End to travelling in isolation

More space for wheelchairs users on buses. An extension of models such as the "bay bus" which operates around Cardiff - two wheelchair users can travel together simultaneously and the ramp is easily accessible.


Use focus groups to establish the extent to which the current system meets the requirements of a range of individuals.

London 2012

"When it is busy at any station during the Games, I would like to see the staff letting the wheelchair uses to get onto the disabled part of the train before other people get onto the same part of the train."

"It would be fantastic if accessible transport could become a recognised part of the legacy. Ideally, working toward things like a level access underground and graduated platforms and curbs - as the norm rather than the exception."

"If I were travelling to the Olympics or Paralympics, in terms of accessibility I would like there to be priority boarding for wheelchair users on all public transport."

Desde Inmodiario:

El director general de Obras Públicas, Proyectos Urbanos y Vivienda de la Generalitat Valenciana, Vicente Dómine, ha afirmado que "la Conselleria de Infraestructuras, Territorio y Medio Ambiente tiene un firme compromiso por hacer que la acción pública llegue a todos los ciudadanos. De la misma manera que hemos logrado que nuestro sistema de transporte público sea de los mejores en adaptación y accesibilidad en Europa, estamos trabajando para que las infraestructuras, proyectos de edificación y vivienda y actuaciones urbanas sigan este mismo criterio y estén diseñados y pensados para atender las necesidades de todos los ciudadanos".

En este sentido, el director ha indicado que "no se trata únicamente de cuestiones normativas y de desarrollar unas soluciones técnicas para las personas con discapacidad motora, sino de conseguir que toda la sociedad sea consciente de que no existe el ciudadano ideal y que todos podemos necesitar unas condiciones de accesibilidad adecuadas en algún momento de nuestra vida".

Vicente Dómine ha realizado estas declaraciones en la inauguración de la jornada Es posible una vivienda adaptada, diseño universal para una vivienda independiente, que promueve la Red Europea de Vida Independiente (ENIL), una organización no gubernamental auspiciada por la Generalitat y la Unión Europea. También ha participado en la inauguración la directora general de Personas con Discapacidad y Dependencia, Pilar Collado.

El objetivo del encuentro ha sido exponer diferentes proyectos, soluciones y posibilidades de acceso a una vivienda adaptada por parte de personas con discapacidad, además de analizar el marco jurídico, los costes y la financiación, así como las tecnologías existentes de apoyo a la adaptación de viviendas.

Dómine también ha asegurado que "uno de los retos más importantes de la acción pública en materia de accesibilidad es conseguir que en los tejidos urbanos existentes y en los centros históricos también haya viviendas para todos, ya que el objetivo es luchar por una autonomía personal y una integración plena en todos los ámbitos. No se trata sólo de construir nuevas viviendas adaptadas sino de poder rehabilitar con criterios de accesibilidad las ya existentes para que las personas con discapacidad puedan seguir viviendo en su casa, en su barrio, en su ciudad".

En este sentido, el director general de Obras Públicas ha recordado que "la Generalitat dispone de una línea de ayudas en materia de rehabilitación para dotar de ascensores a los edificios y que también se priorizan las ayudas a los complejos inmobiliarios que tienen especial atención a ciertos colectivos".

Además, en su intervención también ha destacado que "las personas con discapacidad motora han sido uno de los principales colectivos perjudicados por la pérdida del modelo de vivienda tradicional de planta baja del Mediterráneo, por lo que debemos realizar una seria reflexión sobre la posibilidad de que la vivienda ocupe también las plantas bajas, ahora reservadas al comercio".



Universal Design in Malta

Towards a more inclusive, welcoming built environment
by Francesca Vella

The national commission for people with disabilities (KNPD) has published a revised edition of the 'Access for All Design Guidelines', which will come into force on 1 June.

The Malta Environment and Planning Authority had entrusted KNPD to vet all new development applications or extensive modifications of public buildings as a means of ensuring that buildings are accessible to everyone.

KNPD published its first edition of the 'Access for All Design Guidelines' in the year 2000. The publication was aimed at giving a sense of direction with respect to legal obligations on accessibility while educating the public on the principle of universal design and ways of improving everyone's quality of life...

A digital version of the guidelines is available on the KNPD website, 

Full article:


US Policy on Disability


DREDF Logo.jpg

We need your help!

On March 16, Representative David Schweikert (R-AZ) introduced H.R. 4200, "To Amend the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990." On March 26, Representative Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) introduced H.R. 4256, "The Pool Safety and Accessibility for Everyone (pool SAFE) Act."

These bills will prevent the Department of Justice from enforcing its own regulations and keep public pools from being accessible as required by the ADA. That's right--22 years after the ADA our rights are being threatened--and could be rolled back.We need to act today!

The House Judiciary Subcommittee on The Constitution has scheduled a hearing to discuss this legislation.

When: Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Time: 4:30pm EST
Room: 2141 Rayburn House Office Building

Take Action:

  1. Come to the hearing and show your support! Tell your friends and spread the word.

  2. Contact your representative using this form. In your letter, identify yourself as a constituent and urge your senator / representative to "Please do not support H.R. 4200 or H.R. 4256. These bills would cut back the ADA and block our right to accessible pools."

  3. If your representative is a co-sponsor on either of these bills, call them today and ask them to remove their name as a co-sponsor!

Here's what your representatives need to know:

  • Swimming pools are not a luxury; they are part of American life. Every family deserves the chance to enjoy vacations together without leaving a child, spouse, or parent behind just because they have a disability.

  • People with disabilities have the same rights as everyone else to use swimming pools.

  • Backtracking on the ADA is never acceptable. We cannot roll back civil rights for any group.

  • The ADA was signed into law 22 years ago. Swimming pool owners have had decades to come into compliance and have known about the requirements of the law.

  • The final regulation language and the accessibility standards have been out since September 2010, so the pool owners have had 18 months to come into compliance under the law.

  • Providing access to swimming pools and spas is doable, not burdensome. The ADA accessibility requirements for barrier removal in existing facilities are very reasonable--they only require what is easily accomplishable and able to be carried out without much difficulty or expense. The rules are carefully crafted to take the needs of covered entities like hotels into account.

    3075 Adeline Street, Suite 210
    Berkeley, CA 94703
    510.644.2555 v
    510-841-8645 fax/tty

    Government Affairs Office:
    1825 K Street, NW, Suite 600
    Washington DC 20006

ADA Transportation Survey

ADA Transportation Survey--
We Want Your Views

Dear Friends,

DREDF is unveiling a short web survey, Public Transit Choices By People With Disabilities, as part of our transportation research on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). We hope many people in the disability community across the country will participate in the survey, which can also be found at:http://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/882523/TransitChoices. Please take the survey, and disseminate this notice so others take the survey. Your responses will help us understand what factors are most important to riders with disabilities when deciding which transit mode to use.

The confidential results will be part of a national study called Transit Cooperative Research Project B-40: Strategy Guide to Enable and Promote the Use of Fixed-Route Transit by People with Disabilities. The goal is to develop strategies to improve bus and train systems for people with disabilities. DREDF's research partners are TranSystems Corporation, The Collaborative, and KFH Group.

Please take the survey, and encourage others to do so!


Research to develop the "Strategy Guide to Enable and Promote the Use of Fixed-Route Transit by People with Disabilities" is being conducted for the Transit Cooperative Research Program, which is part of the Transportation Research Board and the National Academy of Sciences. The research is supported by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT). The prime contractor is TranSystems Inc., and the other members of the research team, along with DREDF, are The Collaborative and KFH Group.

The disability community's participation is a key factor in our research. Through interviews (already conducted) and this survey, the project aims to gain a greater understanding of what factors most affect the choices people with disabilities make about which mode of transportation they will use for particular trips.

This project will explore a variety of ways to encourage and enable people with disabilities who are at least part time ("conditionally") eligible for ADA paratransit to increase their use of the fixed route public transit bus and/or train service. Major areas of study will include improving the accessibility of bus and train systems, including the streets and sidewalks used to reach bus stops and train stations; providing optional travel training; providing fare incentive programs; marketing the benefits of bus and train services to the disability community; and exploring improved methods of paratransit eligibility determination.

The study will also focus on the benefits of combining multiple approaches. For example, efforts to improve the pedestrian infrastructure, including public rights-of-way (PROW), can be more effective when priority stops are identified using information from travel training and eligibility determination. The Strategy Guide will stress a holistic approach to encouraging fixed route use.

If you have questions, you can contact DREDF.

Fall 2012 (August 21-Dec. 4, 2012)
from the Center on Disability Studies,
University of Hawaii at Manoa

An online (asynchronous--access at your own time) 3 credit course

INSTRUCTOR: Dr. Steven Brown, Associate Professor, Center on

Disability Studies, University of Hawai'i at Manoa

Email: sebrown@hawaii.edu,  Tel: 808-956-0996

Overview to the history of disability from a disability studies perspective, a multidisciplinary and global approach to studying disability perspectives, focused on personal and collective responses to difference(s) based on disability.

Learn how a broad range of societies have treated people with disabilities.

Read & discuss policies, perceptions, living conditions, and roles of persons with disabilities historically, individually and collectively.

Address ideas of impairment; politics and legislation; diversity, advocacy, and education.

Historical perspectives will provide insight into current perceptions of disability issues.

Skills to be developed include critical thinking;

Organizing and conveying information in writing and orally.


 Upper division undergraduate students in history and other disciplines such as: art, ethnic studies, psychology, political science, interdisciplinary studies, education, public policy, communications, American studies, special education, health sciences, sociology, architecture, & social work, for some examples.

NOTE TO GRADUATE STUDENTS: If you are interested in taking this course as a graduate level course, please contact me directly at: sebrown@hawaii.edu

(1) UH Manoa students: Course is listed on "Fall" CRN: 78662 at: http://www.sis.hawaii.edu/uhdad/avail.classes?i=MAN&t=201310&s=DIS

Current UH Manoa students may register now over MyUH registration system (http://myuh.hawaii.edu) and at "Fall Extension" (CRN: 1089) at: http://www.sis.hawaii.edu/uhdad/avail.classes?i=MAN&t=201313&s=DIS

(2) Students from other UH campuses and all other universities: To register, non-UH students first complete an Outreach College application form (http://www.outreach.hawaii.edu/myuh/apply.asp) (Application processing takes 5 working days.) Once the application has been processed, students will be notified and can log into MyUH to register.

Rolling Back the ADA?

American Association of People with DisabilitiesPower Up!

On March 16, Representative David Schweikert (R-AZ) introduced H.R. 4200, "To Amend the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990". On March 26, Representative Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) introduced H.R. 4256, "The Pool Safety and Accessibility for Everyone (pool SAFE) Act". These bills will prevent the Department of Justice from enforcing its own regulations and keep public pools from being accessible as required by the ADA.
That's right-21 years after the ADA we could see our rights rolled back.

We need to act today.

The House Judiciary Subcommittee on The Constitution has scheduled a hearing to discuss this legislation.

When: Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Time: 4:30pm EST

Room: 2141 Rayburn House Office Building

Take Action:

  1. Come to the hearing and show your support!     

  2. Contact your representative:  Find the representative for your district and call their office or click on their contact form to submit a letter online. In your letter, identify yourself as a constituent and urge your senator / representative to "Please do not support H.R. 4200 or H.R. 4256. These bills would cut back the ADA and block our right to accessible pools."

  3. If your representative is a co-sponsor on either of these bills call them today and ask them to remove their name as a co-sponsor! Find out if your representative is a co-sponsor here.

    Here's what your representatives need to know:

    • Swimming pools are not a luxury; they are part of American life.  Every family deserves the chance to enjoy vacations together without leaving a child, spouse, or parent behind just because they have a disability.

    • People with disabilities have the same rights as everyone else to use swimming pools.

    • Backtracking on the ADA is never acceptable.We cannot roll back civil rights for any group.
    • The ADA was signed into law 21 years ago.  Swimming pool owners have had decades to come into compliance.

    • The final regulation language and the accessibility standards have been out since September 2010, so the pool owners have had 18 months to comply with those specific

    • The regulations are subject to an "undue burden" defense, so any hotel or pool owner that cannot afford to come into compliance need not do so immediately.

    For more information, click here.

    The services and facilities for disabled, elderly and sick travelers passing through İstanbul Atatürk Airport are being revamped to improve accessibility and comfort. TAV Airports Holding has invested in golf carts and wheelchairs, making it easier for the disabled, elderly and ill visitors to navigate İstanbul Atatürk Airport.

    The company launched the Accessible Airports Project in 2009 to allow disabled passengers to travel in the most comfortable manner, without added costs. TAV Airports Holding has improved airport facilities both inside and outside the terminal, to assist both physically and visually impaired travelers. To aid the visually impaired, the company installed embossed floors and audible warning systems. For physically impaired travelers, in addition to improvements made in the airport's parking facilities, toilets, elevators, seating areas, escalators and metro stops, TAV Airports Holding added signs to show these passengers how to most comfortably get around the airport. Ülger Tourism, which provides car rentals and shuttle services, has also stepped up its efforts. The company has refurbished its vehicles with wheelchair lifts to aid elderly, sick and disabled tourists. Ülger Tourism owner Hüseyin Ülger told Today's Zaman that the installation of wheelchair lifts is crucial for passengers who have a difficult time traveling to their hotels. Due to the very positive response, Ülger said he plans to add lifts to more company vehicles.



    Spread the Word to End the Word

    A public service announcement featuring "Glee" star Jane Lynch decrying use of the word "retard" is being honored for its fearless take on the issue. The ad in support of the "Spread the Word to End the Word" campaign is one of four winners of the YouTube-backed DoGooder Nonprofit Video Awards in the "Fearless Video" category, besting over 1,000 entrants for the title. Dubbed "Not Acceptable," the PSA includes Lynch alongside her "Glee" co-star Lauren Potter, who has Down syndrome. The two liken use of the r-word to other derogatory terms like "nigger" and "fag." "The r-word is the same as every minority slur. Treat it that way and don't use it," says Lynch in the PSA, which debuted last spring with spots on network and cable television. In naming the PSA as one of the top fearless videos of 2011, one of the award sponsors -- The Case Foundation -- said the ad shows that "sometimes taking big risks and experimenting in filmmaking can lead to big wins." The honor comes with a $2,500 prize. Source:http://www.disabilityscoop.com/2012/04/17/r-word-youtube-award/15413/

    South Asia's "Ramp Movement"

    Ramps facilitated the mobility not just of the disabled, but also old people, pregnant women and people with temporary disabilities.


    "When a physically challenged person is lifted from a wheelchair because there is no other way to facilitate his mobility in the absence of a ramp, I can't help but think, 'What a beautiful way to hurt an individual's self esteem'," says Tanzeela Khan, 21, a wheelchair user herself.

    Khan, a student at the Pakistan Institute of Fashion Design in Lahore, founded the Ramp Movement in September last year after exchanging ideas with young people during a visit to Sri Lanka.

    "The basic aim of the movement is to create the realisation that facilities like ramps should be an essential part of any architectural design," she said. Ramps facilitated the mobility not just of the disabled, but also old people, pregnant women and people with temporary disabilities, she said.

    Officially launched on December 3 last year, the nascent "disability rights movement", as Khan calls it, has so far registered 300 volunteers from across Punjab, most of them from Lahore.

    The Movement was launched simultaneously in Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Khan says that the idea gained greater popularity in Sri Lanka owing to a greater general understanding of the issues of physically-challenged people.

    Pakistan is a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Khan said that the law did provide protection and facilities for physically-challenged persons, but even government offices were not wheelchair-friendly.

    Active in social welfare projects since the age of 14, Khan aims to change society's mindset. "My story of being 'disabled' is not very fascinating unfortunately," she said. "I was born this way preventing me from being what is termed normal in our society."

    "My passion comes from my disability. I have led an adventurous life and hope to continue doing so," Khan said. "It's not the disabled person who is at fault here; it's the society which just stands by and does nothing," she said.

    Khan is the only person with a disability in the movement's core committee, which consists of seven members including 25-year-old law student Waqas Irshad Rana. "Disabled people don't get their rights in our society," said Rana.

    And it isn't just ramps that are needed to make buildings more friendly to the disabled. "Imagine how you would feel if you know there is a toilet nearby but you cannot go because there is no room for your wheelchair," he said.

    The Ramp Movement recently held a workshop on the rights of the disabled at the end of January at King Edward Medical University, and is to hold two more in April at Punjab University and Kinnaird College. It is also planning a "human rights art festival" including a fashion show for disabled people in May, as well as a TEDx talk.

    Published in The Express Tribune, March 22nd, 2012.


    UD at Home

    The Invisibly Universal House

    From Builder:

    Two sisters--a builder and an academic specializing in universal design--have built a gold standard for accessible housing.


    The industry would be hard pressed to find a duo better suited to the task of creating the poster child for universally designed homes than the Tauke sisters. Susanne Tauke, owner of Hawthorn Woods, Ill.-based New American Homes, has been a home builder for 30 years. Her sister, Beth, is a professor of architecture at SUNY Buffalo and works with the university's Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access (IDeA Center), a premier research center on universal design in the built environment.

    So when they got the opportunity to team up on a universal design project house, they jumped at the chance. Their resulting brain child, the LIFEhouse--a 1,992-square-foot, ranch-style home near Antioch, Ill., that recently won the National Association of Home Builders' Best of 50+ Housing Award--is a trifecta of beauty, brains, and accessibility.

    A Priority for Disability Activists

    Disabled activists being humiliated on domestic flights make headline news. But the daily travails of the disabled who attempt to travel by bus, rail or tram never get any attention. Isn't it more important to ensure that the poor and disabled are brought into the arena of rights, asks Shampa Sengupta?

    All those working for disability rights in India were outraged at the treatment meted out to activist Jeeja Ghosh by Spicejet Airlines whilst on a flight from Kolkata to Goa where an
    Shampa Sengupta.jpg
     international seminar was being held. The media gave the incident ample coverage, alleging that such behaviour towards disabled passengers was totally unacceptable. Several groups came together to express solidarity and to organise a protest meet in Jeeja's home city  Kolkata. More satisfyingly, it was soon learnt that India's newly appointed chief commissioner of disabilities had issued a show-cause notice, based on media reports, to the concerned airline.

    The question here is not that Jeeja Ghosh was treated badly on a particular airline. There have been countless incidents like this in the past; some have received media coverage, some not. Whenever activists come across such situations, they raise their voice. Some of these make the headlines, some don't. That's why there was no real surprise when, within days of the Jeeja Ghosh incident, another disabled activist Anjlee Agarwal endured similar humiliation  on a flight from Delhi to Raipur. Indeed, such experiences are an intrinsic part of the life of disabled people and we are proud that Jeeja and Anjlee had the guts to put up a fight. Both women work to mainstream disability, with one of them focusing on the issue of accessible environments.

    The disability sector has begun re-examining civil aviation policies and rules, and discussing and demanding changes.

    But what of the large number of disabled people who face regular harassment whilst travelling by other modes of transport -- buses, metros, trains or trams? What about the attitudinal barriers disabled people face when they try to use public transport? One does not have to be an activist to see that poverty and disability often go hand-in-hand. So, while many of us spend our time thinking about making the 'skies' inclusive, let's also try and make the ground beneath our feet more inclusive.

    There are numerous instances of disabled people coming up against attitudinal barriers whilst travelling in buses. Only one made it to the headlines of a newspaper. Bidyut Dey, a 50-year-old man with an amputated leg, was thrown out of a government bus when he claimed he had the right to travel without a ticket. Dey, a West Bengal government employee, organises sports events for disabled people. He travels all over India with a cricket team comprising disabled youngsters. He refused to let the incident go unreported. He lodged an FIR and followed the case regularly. He was ridiculed by the police for taking up such a "trivial" issue; the magistrate who heard the case was shocked that anyone could refuse to buy a ticket and claim that it was his right not to do so! Neither the police officer nor the magistrate appeared aware of the Persons With Disabilities Act despite it being in force for 12 years!

    Disabled people have learnt to accept this. Like they have accepted the problems they face commuting every day.

    I remember when Jeeja and I were co-workers, Jeeja faced similar harassment whilst travelling in a mini-bus. Being a fighter, she never let things go. She issued a formal complaint with the Bus Workers Union, and was given a formal apology. But such instances of resistance remain isolated, as even the disability sector has never made a consolidated effort to make it a priority issue.

    On December 3, 2011, a group of 10 blind people were not allowed to board a bus. The conductor didn't let them on because he believed there were only two reserved seats in the bus marked 'handicapped', and anyway blind people did not pay for their tickets so he was not obliged to give them a ride! The group was on its way to join a rally organised for World Disability Day by West Bengal's largest disability network Paschim Banga Rajya Pratibandhi Sammilani. When political activists are barred from joining rallies or meetings, it makes headline news. But such infringements of the right to join a rally by disabled people were ignored by the media despite the rally itself receiving coverage in the press.

    People with 'invisible' disabilities suffer other kinds of harassment on buses. Joyeeta Ganguly, another colleague, told me about a common experience. Although Joyeeta has a 100% hearing impairment, most conductors believe she is not entitled to a 'handicapped' seat or a free bus ride. Carrying a disability certificate and showing it when required does not always help. Often, conductors believe she is 'acting' disabled in order to get a free ride! I am not even attempting to include here the experiences of people with intellectual or psychosocial disabilities.

    There have been meetings, demonstrations and calls to make the railways accessible to all. Likewise, demands to make buses and bus terminuses disabled-friendly. Bus drivers and conductors should be taught to be more sensitive to the issue of disability. The National Institute of Professionals that runs computer classes for the blind has made some attempt towards this end. For the last two years, they have been tying rakhis on the wrists of bus conductors/drivers, on Raksha Bandhan. The rakhis are tied at a central Kolkata bus depot by disabled girls. Thus, a popular religious and social festival is used as a platform to establish a bond of friendship between those who are disabled and those who are not. On one occasion, a visibly moved bus conductor grabbed the mike and announced that from that day on he would make an extra effort to take care of disabled passengers. There are reasons to believe these kinds of sensitisation programmes do have far-reaching consequences.

    However, the onus of mass awareness campaigns cannot lie only with NGOs. Article 8 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, to which India is a signatory, mandates that state parties adopt immediate, effective and appropriate measures to raise awareness about the issue of disability in society. There are provisions for awareness-building in both the Persons with Disabilities Act and the National Trust Act. The National Trust website claims Rs 80.01 lakh was spent in 2010-11. The draft country report 'Poised For Change' offers ideas on the kinds of activities taken up by government agencies to raise awareness. Unfortunately, however, many of these programmes talk to the converted.

    If the non-disabled community is not sensitised, then the dream of building an inclusive world will remain just that -- a dream.

    Yes, it is important to document cases of discrimination faced by disabled people during air travel. It is important to review the existing civil aviation rules and policies, and to punish offenders. But should we not prioritise our work so that we can bring the poor and marginalised disabled population within the arena of rights? If we leave behind the masses and try to take off towards the skies, will we be able to navigate the disability rights movement in the right direction?

    (Shampa Sengupta is a Kolkata-based activist working with gender and disability issues)


    Disability Pride and World Travel

    SUDI 2012 Conference
    Sustainability & Disability:
    Creating Jobs in a Green Economy
    June 12-13, 2012
    Manaus, State of Amazonas, Brazil
    Now Accepting Abstracts through April 16, 2012.
    Submit abstracts to sudi@mgt.unm.edu
    For more information on SUDI visit:http://sudi.mgt.unm.edu/ 
    The Green Economy Initiative will create an inflection point in the global economy, leading to a new generation of green products, services, technologies and innovations. The green manufacturing, service, and agriculture economies will demand the development of new skills, resulting in the need for job and educational training. Restructuring towards the green economy will also demand a large scale redistribution of jobs across and within industries. Green jobs will be generated to deliver products, services, technologies and innovations requiring new skills and qualifications. As a result, vocational employment is also expected to increase. There is tremendous opportunity in building an inclusive, green economy to provide jobs to workers with disabilities and lift disabled people out of poverty into economic self-sufficiency. This is a key challenge pertaining to the Green Economy Initiative.
    The SUDI 2012 Conference will address inclusive strategies for disadvantaged populations to find job opportunities in the ever-changing workforce-demands of the new and emerging green economy.
    Regina Cohen
    Núcleo Pró-Acesso

    Acontece de 7 a 9 de maio, no edifício-sede da Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (Capes), o seminário internacional Metropolização Brasileira e os Desafios da Gestão Urbana: o papel da Pós-Graduação. O evento é parte das comemorações aos 60 anos da fundação e reunirá pesquisadores, professores acadêmicos e interessados na área, com o objetivo de discutir e apontar ações necessárias ao desenvolvimento sustentável das metrópoles.

    Para a professora da Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie, Nadia Somekh, componente do painel 3 - Habitação, Mobilidade e Acessibilidade Urbana, a pós-graduação deve ser usada como ferramenta na solução de problemas. "A produção de conhecimento e a troca de experiências internacionais devem ser fomentadas para que alcancemos novas formas de governança metropolitana, fluidez urbana, ações de desenvolvimento sustentável e redução do déficit habitacional com qualidade de vida, entre outras soluções", afirmou.

    Somekh aponta ainda as restrições e as desigualdades que acesso e mobilidade ineficientes trazem. "A (I)mobilidade das nossas cidades reduz nossa capacidade de produzir riquezas e mantém as desigualdades sociais existentes, reveladas nas péssimas condições habitacionais pelas quais a população mais pobre ainda vive", explica Nádia. "Com essas discussões, esperamos que novos editais sejam elaborados para fomentar pesquisa que priorizem a busca do conhecimento dos processos contemporâneos de transformações urbanas e ainda de soluções práticas que contribuam para a (re)formulação de políticas públicas", completou.

    O painel Habitação, Mobilidade e Acessibilidade Urbana será realizado no dia 8 de maio, das 9h às 12h, e põe em pauta relação do uso e da ocupação do solo urbano com os sistemas de circulação e transporte urbano, bem como as condições desiguais de mobilidade e acessibilidade urbana, que acabam penalizando as camadas da população de baixa renda em seu deslocamento cotidiano.

    Acesse programação do seminário.

    Somekh é uma das expositoras do painel 3 (Foto: Arquivo pessoal)
    Nadia Somekh
    É professora titular da Faculdade de Arquitetura e Urbanismo da UPM., conselheira CAU, IAB,UIA e CONPRESP. Foi Secretária de Planejamento Urbano e Ação Regional de São Bernardo do Campo(2009/2010), diretora da Faculdade de Arquitetura e Urbanismo da Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie(2005-2009) e consultora do Plano Nacional de Habitação (2008-2009), Foi presidente da EMURB Empresa Municipal de Urbanização de São Paulo (2002-2004).

    Mestre e Doutora pela FAU Universidade de São Paulo, é autora do livro "A Cidade Vertical e o Urbanismo Modernizador" (1997) é organizadora dos livros "Caminhos para o Centro" (2004) e "A cidade que não pode parar" (2002).

    The common notion among people in the disability sector is that 'capacity' or 'legal capacity' is something that only people of 'unsound mind' need to worry about. When the Legal Review team of National Disability Network and Disabled Rights Group, which is drafting the Parallel Report on C.R.P.D. implementation in India, undertook a review of some 2000 odd national laws, the findings were an eye-opener. Bhargavi Davar, Co-Chair of National Alliance on Access to Justice for Persons Living with Mental Illness (N.A.A.J.M.I.), and a member of the Legal Review team writes about the 150 odd laws that discriminate against not only people of 'unsound mind' but also those with 'physical and mental defect', 'incapacity', 'physical and mental infirmity', 'deaf mute', 'blind', 'contagious leprosy', 'leprosy cured', 'epilepsy' and many more.

    There are over 2000 national laws in the country relating to a variety of issues, ranging from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Border Security Forces, police to family laws, criminal laws, laws relating to delivery of public services, taxation laws, banking and banking regulation laws, laws relating to the social justice system such as the Safai Karmachari Act, and laws relating to political participation.

    Scanning these laws at a preliminary level using 'search and find' function for words such as 'unsound mind', 'defect', 'infirmity', 'incapacity', etc. proved to be a very useful exercise. It was a quick and simplistic exercise and no doubt, a more profound legal analysis is possible and required.

    The Legal Review team of National Disability Network (N.D.N.) and Disabled Rights Group (D.R.G) drafting the Parallel Report on C.R.P.D. implementation in India, was shocked to find the total discrimination against all persons with disabilities on grounds of legal incapacity found in over 150 laws.

    When we started the review, our expectation was that we would find many laws that would discredit persons of 'unsound mind' from having full legal capacity. While it is true that a larger number of laws (say 60 percent) do apply solely to persons of 'unsound mind' or to both 'lunatics' and 'idiots', a not so small number of laws (say 40 percent) apply not only to such persons, but to a wider range of people with disabilities. For example, the words, 'physical and mental defect', 'incapacity', 'physical and mental infirmity', 'deaf mute', 'blind', 'contagious leprosy', 'leprosy cured', 'epilepsy' are found pervasively in the laws in the context of legal incapacity. More general categories of 'incapable due to serious illness', 'found unfit to act by a competent court', etc. are also found.

    Many of these laws have their origins in the colonial period, and have gone through 'serial amendments' in the post Independence period. The honourable drafters of the Constitution and the legal experts who amended various laws many times over following the independence of the Indian State from the British Empire, forgot to ever revise the provisions relating to people with disabilities. As a result, a hard core of provisions (and legal perversions exist) within nearly every class of laws, which contain highly discriminatory, even inflammatory allegations and assumptions regarding a variety of disabilities. 'Lunatic', 'idiot' and 'deaf mute' are of course most pervasively found. I was curious to know why the banking sector targeted the blind until I found that in the banking laws, the exclusion is very broad based, including 'physical and mental infirmity' in general terms. A large part of the family laws are about people of 'unsound mind'.

    The laws relating to the military, security and other enforcement laws (such as the Coast Guard Act) deny a person with disability the capacity to act, to stand trial, to defend oneself, to explain or appeal, to give consent to treatment, to give consent to institutionalisation / treatment, etc. These laws provide for a pathway from the services directly into a mental institution or handing over to relatives on condition that the person is not dangerous to self or others.

    References to the Lunacy Act, which was replaced by the Mental Health Act of 1987, are still found. Provisions relating to persons with disabilities are 'harmonised' with the Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr.P.C.) or other penal laws, and not with any rights / social justice laws, disability laws or other progressive laws.

    Property related matters of a 'lunatic' are settled by a separate law in the Army and the Air Force. Person of 'unsound mind' is to be treated as 'dead person' from the day unsoundness is ascertained. I have found this to be the most degraded and inexplicable representation of people with psychosocial disabilities within law.

    Criminal laws deny certain disabilities the capacity to defend, stand trial, be witness, and give consent. Liberal use is made of words like 'idiot' and 'unsound mind'. For the first time in law, in a post- C.R.P.D. amendment of the Cr.P.C., a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist is referred to in determining 'unsound mind'. The amendment is interesting as evidence of perversion of law through the ages, because it is bringing together anachronistic provisions of laws made at different times (Lunacy Act, Mental Health Act) with different authorities and procedures, resulting in some ludicrous and laughable legal provisions (for example. 'a person of idiot', 'accused to be of idiot', etc.). Here the psychiatrist and psychologist are called upon 'to declare a person of idiot is suffering from unsoundness of mind'. The legal determination mandated in the amendment is that a 'person of idiot' found to be of 'unsound mind' is found to be incapable.

    In another provision, the amendment says that trial may resume after 'a person has ceased to be of idiot'. Mental retardation appears as a separate category distinct from 'person of idiot', or 'of suffering from unsoundness of mind', again referring to psychologist or psychiatrist for the determination. I cannot over emphasise the shift in this law, of the over arching empowerment of mental health professionals in determination of disability and consequences thereof.

    Some laws have not been looked at, such as Police Act, Beggars' Home Act, Panchayati Raj Act, etc. These are State laws, however, they apply across many, if not most, States with local application through rules.

    Family laws deny the capacity to be married, stay married, adopt, inherit, terminate a pregnancy, choose a pregnancy, etc. based on disability. Some of these laws have guardianship provisions. Some laws are applicable only to those of 'unsound mind' while others include 'leprosy' or 'contagious leprosy', and 'physical and mental defect', 'severe handicap', etc.

    Conditions are placed for persons with disabilities on the capacity to make a will. A person who is blind or deaf or dumb can make a will provided they can understand what they are doing. A 'lunatic' cannot probate or administer a will. Various amendments particularly to the marriage and divorce laws show the same perversions and paradoxes of amendment as in the last set of criminal laws: old phrases mixed with new.

    Termination of pregnancy laws directly contradict various provisions of 'unsound mind' by illustratively noting the 'mental anguish' caused by bearing a child with disability. Why does the law recognise 'mental anguish' in some places, and victimises 'unsound mind' in other places? For example, the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act talks about a person with unsoundness of mind not having capacity in one place; and the same law also talks about continuation of pregnancy that could cause grave risk to physical and 'mental health' in another place. Such a mother is not considered to be of unsound mind, rather is seen as being in 'mental anguish'.

    The Hindu Inheritance ('Removal of Disabilities') Act of 1928 has a curious subtitle, reminiscent of 'sterilisation of the fittest', which was in practice at the time this Act was promulgated in the late colonial period.

    Most of Public Services Acts place an incapacity bar on people with disabilities on membership, being a part of a council or committee or advisory, employment opportunities, reasonable accommodation and political participation. Services described are archaic.

    The Municipal Acts of nearly all States provide for the setting up of shelters and asylums for the 'deaf and dumb', the 'insane', etc. Likewise, The Cantonment Acts provide archaic custodial provisions for the 'disabled', the poor and the destitute. Capacity for political participation is also in question in the Cantonment Acts for people of 'unsound mind'. Several Acts have general clauses of exclusion (such as 'proven to be incapable'), disability linked exclusions ('physically or mentally incapable') and mental disabilities ('idiot' or 'of unsound mind'). Exclusions are mainly in performing a professional job in senior position, being elected Board Member, being elected or nominated a member of any other statutory body of the institution, holding any public office or having voting rights.

    In summary, when going over these laws, I had the overwhelming experience of sitting in another place in another time, two hundred years back, and watching a line of people walk by, to the 'nowhere land' of legal incapacity: the idiots, the lunatics, the deaf mute, the deaf and dumb, the physically and mentally defected, the leprosy cured and those still contagious. As a community of people struggling for our rights, we face the utter perversions in law wrought by colonialism, and carried forward unmindfully into present times. This shows how unglamorous disability law was / is for the legal reformers, and the legal practitioners.


    Communication Unit: 
    National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP)
    A -77, South Extension Part II
    New Delhi - 110 049, India
    Tel.: 91-11-26265647 / 26265648 
    Websites: www.ncpedp.org and www.dnis.org

    This video presents the results of a research project examining the claimed benefits of Universal Design in buildings. It began with a study in New York City, progressed to Buffalo, New York, and led to the tourist destination of Las Vegas, Nevada. The Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access (IDEA Center) provides resources and technical expertise in architecture, product design, facilities management, and social and behavioral sciences to further advance the concepts of universal design.

    National Architecture Week 2012

    Man in wheelchair in public walkway

    Know of a project whose design embodies the essence of accessibility? Paralyzed Veterans is seeking nominations (www.pva.org/bfaa) for its annual Barrier-Free America Award (BFAA).

    Paralyzed Veterans is an active catalyst in generating/recognizing outstanding accessible design in the built environment. The BFAA is yet another means of rewarding that achievement.

    "It recognizes architects who have gone beyond what is required for accessibility and have actually pushed the envelope to break down those barriers," said Maryia A. Boykins, associate AIA.

    Past winners include a wide range of projects, among them the de Young Museum in San Francisco, Millennium Park in Chicago and Washington National Airport. The 2011 winner made 34 universally accessible treehouses throughout the United States.

    "What we keep pushing is for architects to consider accessibility from day one when design ideas are in the concept stage. This always makes for a more holistic approach and successfully inclusive design," Lichter said.

    National Architecture Week, American Institute of Architects' (AIA) public awareness campaign to increase attention to the role architects play as a force for positive change in communities, kicks off April 8.

    The Paralyzed Veterans of America Architecture Department has a long history of advocating for accessible design and is the only veterans service organization with staff architects. Its history dates to 1946, when it collaborated with the New York Chapter of the AIA on accessible housing for paralyzed World War II veterans.

    "Before then there wasn't a whole lot of knowledge about how to make things accessible, and people with spinal cord injury really had a poor prognosis," said Mark Lichter, AIA, Paralyzed Veterans' director ofarchitecture. "Through medical advances, WWII veterans with spinal cord injury were really the first to have the possibility of an extended and independent life."

    Today, Paralyzed Veterans team of architects focuses on three areas:

    Removing barriers with accessible design - Paralyzed Veterans' architects work with other architects and design teams to remove barriers from large public projects, such as sports venues and national memorials, as well as advise individuals on home accessibility.

    Since 1986, Paralyzed Veterans' architects have worked with Department of Veterans Affairs design teams on every VA medical center (VAMC) involved with spinal cord injury/disease (SCI/D). They are part of the design team for new VAMC construction and recommend improvements to existing facilities. The objective? To ensure that not only are these facilities wheelchair accessible, but also to encourage the use of design and architecture to foster independence and "promote healing environments that produce better outcomes for patients," Lichter said.



    From The Times of India:

    BHUBANESWAR: Are persons with disability(PWD) living a happy life in the state? A recent study has brought out many a startling fact about them that can leave you gaping in wonder. For example, only 36.5 of the disabled persons have life partners. Besides, while 52.3 per cent PWDs have access to family dining, 41.2 per cent are not involved in household chores at all. Only 47 per cent of the disabled persons desire to become parents. The facts were revealed by "Profile on Disability in Odisha", a survey conducted by Swabhiman, a voluntary organization, in association with the department of women and child development. The report was released here on Wednesday.

    The survey also pointed out that only 22.2 per cent disabled persons earn their livelihood and the rest 77.8 per cent survive as dependants. Most of the PWDs belonged to lower strata of the society as about 45 per cent of them run small businesses while 29 per cent are daily wage earners.
    Releasing the report, governor M C Bhandare said, "This is a laudable initiative and an eye-opener for the state government. It is a joint responsibility of both the state and public to support and help these differently-abled persons live a decent life. The data in the survey show a very dismal picture about the status of life and livelihood of the disabled persons in the state and steps must be taken to help them out."

    The report mentioned that 69 per cent public buildings and 99 per cent financial institutes in the state are completely inaccessible for PWDs. Furthermore, 91 per cent corporate and business houses and 95 per cent judicial institutes in the state don't have ramps. The physically challenged persons don't get any kind of assistance in the form of sign language, interpreters and Braille material in these institutes.

    On education front, only 9.1 per cent of the PWDs are matriculates, 3.3 per cent are graduates and a meagre 0.9 per cent have post graduate degree. This apart, only 0.2 per cent of them have some kind of technical degree. No school, college or university in the state is barrier free, the report mentioned.

    The founder of the voluntary body, Sruti Mohapatra, said, "The survey has revealed many startling facts about the socio-economic condition of persons with disabilities in the state. It also points out gaps in the process of mainstreaming them. All stake holders including the government, policy makers, corporate houses, the civil society and disabled people's organizations must work in tandem to create a friendly environment for them in the state. There should be proper budget allocation and inclusive policies for PWDs."


    Believe It or Not -- Maybe Not!

    What we probably always suspected about hotel reviews online:

    Can You Believe Internet Travel Reviews? Nope.

    When personal travel reviews first sprang up on the Internet, we were thrilled. Thousands of independent first-hand accounts of travel experiences promised that we would get what we were paying for.

    It wasn't long, though, before a torrent of grammatically perfect well written positive reviews seemed to fill every website. Less savoury places stood out with their garbled assessments that sounded like a real person was angry. Then even the negative reviews started to purr with perfect prose as unscrupulous businesses wrote lies about the competition.

    Then the English majors were fired and starving first year university and ESL students, bored stay-at-homes, starving writers and newbie engineers were paid a pittance per review to churn out false copy and it became impossible to tell if it was a real review or not.

    The end of any credibility came with the revelations that some hotels, resorts and other travel businesses were paying customers to write good reviews by offering free meals, discounts, etc.

    Now new research from Cornell University (See http: //aclweb. org/anthology/P/P11/P11-1032. pdf for the original paper and www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2028561/TripAdvisor-Howtell-review-fake.html for a good explanation of the paper's results.) shows that humans are completely unable to tell who is lying but suggests that we might be able to counter "opinion spam" by computer analysis.

    Using computational linguistics and psychology principals, a computer program counts the number of certain kinds of words and phrases or lack of them to score incoming reviews. The program can pinpoint the fake reviews 90 per cent of the time.

    Several companies, Amazon, Trip Advisor and others, are working on ways to fix the problem and the Cornell research gives them the first good evidence-based hint as to how to clean up the millions of reviews on their websites.

    A UroMed Hometown Heroes Story

    Editor's Note: Dr. Scott Rains, another classic example of a person who started a business based on what he'd learned from being in a wheelchair, loved to travel. He had traveled the world and realized the problems ofaccessibility. He also recognized the positive economic impact that countries and venues like hotels, restaurants and destinations could experience from promoting tourism that included not only the disabled but also the very young and the very old. People from around the world began to seek his advice on how to make their facilities and countries a better tourist destination for physically challenged people. Dr. Scott Rains took inventory of his disability, his love of travel and his interest in making the world accessible to everyone, including people in wheelchairs, and turned his disability into an advantage and a consulting business. Part 4 of a 5 part series.

    Scott Rains is passionate about making our world more accessible.

    Scott Rains is passionate about making our world more accessible.

    Some years ago, my wife and I were taking a trip for our anniversary. While driving, we discussed what our future might be. We both recognized that my disability always would be a part of our lives, and that the older we got the slower we would be. We talked about what kind of career choices I'd have that would include my disability and the fact that we always would want to travel. We both enjoyed writing and doing research. As we looked at how we could combine these likes, wants and talents, my wife said, "For years, you've been telling people informally how to make their facilities more accessible for people with disabilities. Why not take that talent, skill and knowledge, package these things into a more formal presentation and become a consultant."



    Seable Holidays

    Rosângela ficou indignada ao ser informada de que o filho não poderia viajar para fazer tratamento médico

    Rosângela ficou indignada ao ser informada de que o filho não poderia viajar para fazer tratamento médico (Alexandre Fonseca)

    Ao tentar comprar passagens aéreas na manhã desta segunda-feira (9), em Manaus, para Campinas (SP), onde submeterá o filho de sete anos a um tratamento médico, a psicóloga Rosângela Fernandes foi surpreendida pela informação de uma atendente do SAC da empresa Azul Linhas Aéreas, de que a criança não poderia voar por ser cadeirante e portador de necessidades especiais.

    Para ela, houve discriminação por parte da empresa, para com a criança.

    "O que atendente alegou foi que o meu filho além de não ter condições de viajar, a aeronave não tinha como comportar a cadeira de rodas dele. Além disso, não me deram uma alternativa de que forma eu pudesse fazer a viagem", informa Fernandes.

    A escolha pela Azul, segundo a psicóloga, se deu pelo fato do destino para o qual ela irá com o filho não contar com conexão, o que ocorre com as outras companhias aéreas.

    "Conheço várias mães que já viajaram de Manaus, por outras companhias aéreas com o filho cadeirante ou portador de necessidades especiais, e que não tiveram problemas, ainda que tivessem que enfrentar conexão", salienta.

    Ainda nesta segunda-feira Rosângela tentaria adquirir passagens para viajar com o filho, em outras empresas aéreas, ainda que tivesse que enfrentar conexão. Ela também não descarta a possibilidade de denunciar o caso aos orgãos competentes.

    Em contato com a assessoria de comunicação da empresa, a mesma se comprometeu a procurar a psicóloga, por telefone, e oferecer uma alternativa para que ela e o filho pudessem viajar, para a realização do tratamento da criança, em Capinas (SP).

    From Leslie Saul & Associates:

    With the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, there has been an increase in the number of wounded veterans, posing challenges in military housing. However, according to an intriguing report by NPR, the principles of universal design are making a difference in home design for these brave soldiers.

    At the Wounded Warrior Home on Virginia's Fort Belvoir, the military is testing new ways to accommodate disabled soldiers, with input and expertise from veterans and design professionals. When Clark Realty Capital took over the housing on Fort Belvoir, project director Casey Nolan realized that the company needed to go beyond making homes handicapped-accessible. Narrow hallways were just one symptom of homes that were ill-equipped for wounded occupants in wheelchairs or dealing with other mobility issues. Nolan says, "It just kind of hit me one day, you know, what are we doing? Is there a better way to do it? Let's just reinvent this completely."

    And that's where things really get interesting. Universal design goes beyond retrofitting for handicapped accessibility, instead calling for spaces that are designed from the beginning with the widest range of abilities and needs in mind. Now, the Wounded Warrior Home demonstrates universal design features like a range that can be lowered by a few inches. "When you're in a wheelchair, it is a game of inches," Nolan remarks. "Whether it's the width of the doorway, or it's the height of the counter- [it's] how far you can reach."

    More:  http://blog.lesliesaul.com/featured/universal-design-for-wounded-soldiers/ 

    A study on the effectiveness of Universal Design in travel:

    Universal Design - Beyond Regulations

    WEDNESDAY APRIL 11, 2012, 9:00 - 11:00 AM (2HSW)


    Chris Palames will address the definition of Universal Design: the seamless integration of access features in the design of the built environment to benefit users of all ages and abilities. He will present four examples of best practices in Universal Design -- the Vietnam War Memorial, the Boston Museum of Fine Art, the recently completed core building renovation at Greenfield Community College, and his own home designed by Bill Austin AIA.

    George Balsley will speak more specifically about his experience designing for the deaf. He will outline his consulting work with various architects for their schools for the deaf projects and will discuss architecture and the deaf community. As a case study he will present a new school for the deaf recently completed in Rhode Island.

    Chris Palames is the Executive Director of Independent Living Resources in Florence, MA. He has trained diverse audiences nationally on all titles of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Fair Housing Amendments Act. He has provided consultation on Self-Evaluation and Transition Plan development, access assessment and planning to the Massachusetts Division of Capital Asset Management, municipalities in Massachusetts and Connecticut and to public and private institutions of higher education. He has represented the Massachusetts Office on Disability on the Massachusetts Architectural Access Board and has served as a consulting policy analyst to the Center for Universal Design at the North Carolina State University School of Design.

    George Balsley AIA is a Deaf and Universal Design expert who adds his unique personal experience and professional skill as a deaf architect to every project he works on. Active in the field of architecture for over 35 years, George' s diversified background includes residential, educational and commercial architecture. George acts as a consultant to other architects, guiding them with Deaf Design principles for school for the deaf projects along the East Coast. He recently received an Honor Award from AIA Maryland for his work on the Sorenson Language & Communications Center at Gallaudet University. He is employed with Steffian Bradley Architects in Enfield, CT.


    Yes, today is April Fools Day. And don't we wish this was a joke?

    bad wheelchair-ramp.jpg

    Of course, it is not, because we encounter this all the time all around the world:

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