Recently in Destination Category

My first international adventure was an amazing one. Elaine Keane is an occupational therapist that has opened, Crecer, a free clinic in Ecuador. Six occupational therapy students, six physical therapy students, and our professors ventured to Ecuador to provide services at Elaine's free clinic along with other sites in the area, including an adult day care, nursing home, and orphanage.


Throughout the week, the OT and PT students took over the caseload at Crecer Centro de Rehabilitación, Educación, Capacitación, Estudios y Recursos, Inc. My group, composed of two OT and two PT students, saw clients pediatric to adult. One of our successful cotreat sessions was with a young boy with spastic cerebral palsy. The PT student held the boy on his knee focusing on breaking up his tone with proper positioning while I completed a tabletop activity with the boy encouraging him to bring his hands to midline while completing fine motor tasks. Our class also worked with an adult who suffered a TBI after a fall at his electrical job. One group worked on his mathematical skills by creating a mock store and asking him to purchase items and calculate the correct change. Another group arranged the therapy room to mimic his electrician job site. The client demonstrated what his job entails as the OT and PT students noted areas that needed improvement before he is able to return to his job.

At FUNHI, the adult day care, we had a sports day playing adapted versions of volleyball, soccer, hockey, and ring toss. We also celebrated a Quinceanera with the clients. We took this opportunity to create birthday cards with those who hoped to improve their fine motor skills. Those who needed to improve range of motion helped us decorate the room with crepe paper and balloons.

The Asilo orphanage and nursing home were less focused on individual therapy sessions and more so aimed at serving the large population in a volunteer aspect. The girls at the orphanage ranged from 18 months to 14 years old. From painting nails to making balloon animals, the girls had a blast and the students didn't want to leave. At the nursing home we first helped shower the residents each morning. It was a very humbling experience. In the afternoon we had a fiesta with the residents, which included balloon games, jewelry making, and a lot of dancing.

The trip wasn't all about work. We had plenty of fun- zip lining upside down in the Andes Mountains, white water rafting in intertubes, relaxing in the hot springs heated by volcanoes, learning how chocolate is made, going to a butterfly house, orchid tour, tasting guinea pig, and sightseeing. I thoroughly enjoyed my first traveling experience and can't wait for traveling opportunities in the future.

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In 2011 my friend, Brazilian psychologist Marta Alencar, visited Nepal.She has a project that introduces people to mobility impairments in a unique way. She created an imaginary character named Tina Descolada who is a doll in a wheelchair. ( Marta created a heartfelt slideshow for me to include in some of my presentations next week. You will find it here:

Grand Canyon Cover.jpg

Check out Candy Harrington's new book "Barrier-Free Travel; The Grand Canyon for Wheelers and Slow Walkers"

($6.99, 6 X 9 paperback, ISBN: 978-0-69221-052-9; $6.99, Kindle,
ASIN: BOOK40L73K) is available at or

From May 14 - 23, 2014 I will be traveling through Nepal providing technical assistance to the tourism industry on accommodating travelers with disabilities. I wanted to find our a little more about disability culture in Nepal. This post features a dancer who is also an amputee Roma Neupane.

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Part 1:


Part 2



We cread in Ronny Blaschke's article:

"In our country, there are no disabled people." This is a quote attributed to Soviet communist party leader Leonid Breschnev in the 1980s.

The 1980 Summer Olympic Games took place in Moscow and the Soviet Union simply refused to organize the Paralympics, which were then held in Arnhem, Netherlands.

Now in 2014, the Russian organizers see things differently, they are planning a ten-day cosmopolitan sports festival with 600 athletes from 45 nations.

But can the Paralympics help bring a marginalized group in Russia's population into the national spotlight?


To find out more read the in-depth study by Human Rights Watch:

As we have been been saying daily since Brazil won the right to host the FIFA World Cup and the Olympic/Paralympic Games, the world is turning its attention to Brazil with unrelenting scrutiny. This article from the New York Times is one of a series of exposés that will appear in the international press in the lead up to the Rio 2016 Games:

"Archaeologists are exposing the foundations of our unequal society while we are witnessing a perverse attempt to remake the city into something resembling Miami or Dubai," said Cláudio Lima Castro, an architect and scholar of urban planning. "We're losing an opportunity to focus in detail on our past, and maybe even learn from it."

Vancouver banned doorknobs. What a sensible thing to to. Let me be the first to say that this is an idea with "leverage!"

  1. Just like 'burning a CD' and 'rolling down the car window,' there may soon come a day when kids will not know the meaning of the phrase 'dumb as a doorknob.' 

    Thanks to new building code legislation, Vancouver will be the first city in Canada to ban doorknobs. In all new construction starting this March, they will be replaced with levers, International Business Times reported. The ban also extends to all faucets.
  2. Source:
Business Insider Mkes the business case:

As of March 2014, all new buildings built in the city will have to include levers rather than doorknobs.

In case you are unfamiliar, this is a doorknob, and this is a door lever. If you are not in the building trade, chances are the difference between the two probably seems cosmetic. But the concept behind Vancouver's ban is simple, and makes perfect sense: Door levers are easier to open for older people, people with injuries, or people with disabilities.

More here:

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A Platinum rating from Livable Housing Australia (LHA) now provides automatic Green Star points under the Green Building Council of Australia's (GBCA's) rating system.

Multi-unit residential projects in which at least 10 per cent of the dwellings meet the Platinum Level of the LHA's Design Guidelines will be automatically deemed compliant with the Green Star Mat-15 'Universal Design' credit.

Ali Amanbayev in Kazakhstan

Man in wheelchair receives a flower bouquet at a ceremony

In 2012, Ali Amanbayev was appointed adviser to the Minister for Labour and Social Protection

During the construction of a public school in Almaty, I pointed out that the new building needed to be equipped with spacious elevators and ramps.

My suggestion was met with puzzled looks and a sheepish remark that this was not a "special" school. This incident made me reflect on the status of people with disabilities in Kazakhstan.

Our society needs to fundamentally revise its attitude and keep an open mind.

Disabled does not mean defective; people with disabilities should not be crammed into special institutions, but rather integrated into society like everyone else.

Social prejudice and stereotypes create issues of accessibility, as the environment - even in large cities as Almaty and Astana - is not properly equipped to meet the needs of people of disabilities.

As a result, people with disabilities often feel discouraged and confine themselves within the walls of their homes. It is a cycle that needs to be broken.

The limitations created by my disability drove me to become more resolute to succeed, to prove to everyone that I am no different.

At the age of 14, I was given crutches to help me to walk and I left the hospital with the realization that my medical diagnosis was now an inseparable part of my identity. I was devastated, but I did not lose hope.

In the 1960s, unlike now, the issues of people with disabilities were completely unaddressed and ignored, and we were practically invisible. As a result, I constantly struggled with discrimination. I was rejected from high school because of a driving class and was refused a teaching position at the Kazakh National University because I could not participate in the annual potato harvest (!).

These obstacles were frustrating, but I never gave up. I demanded that my rights be respected and I persevered, going as far as stealing the principal's keys in protest and arguing with the University dean until I was granted a job offer.

Today, it is relatively easier for people with disabilities to function in society. We have a Union of People with Disabilities, and as the Chairman of this organization, I organize numerous visits, seminars, and lectures to different regions of Kazakhstan to raise awareness and promote the rights of people with disabilities.

We actively lobby for equal access to education, leisure, and employment - and we are slowly, but surely reaching success.

Kazakhstan: A champion for people living with disabilities

As social and cultural barriers are tumbling down, people with disabilities need to overcome one more important challenge: They need to understand that a physical disability is not a life sentence and that they can enjoy a happy and successful life despite their diagnosis.

Society is growing more understanding and accepting, but what matters is that you need to accept yourself too. Do not let your disabilities hold you back - propel yourself forward and strive for the best.





Report on Federal Mandate for "Inclusive" Playgrounds Airing on 'All Things Considered'


August 27, 2013; Washington, D.C. - Today, NPR News reports on a growing movement, backed by a new federal mandate, to build "accessible" playgrounds meant to include children with disabilities - and releases a first-of-its-kind, community-edited guide to such playgrounds nationwide. "Playgrounds for Everyone" maps 1300+ accessible playgrounds - with features like smooth surfaces, swings with backs or safety harnesses, ramps to allow children to access play towers and slides, or sound-play features like drums or chimes.


And while it's the most comprehensive resource available, the "Playgrounds for Everyone" app is still far from complete. NPR needs the public to identify more playgrounds, and share photos, info and tips for the ones already in the app. Get involved now at:


The app coincides with a report on the issue of accessible playgrounds, airing today on All Things Considered. Robert Benincasa of NPR's Investigations Unit reports that federal law now defines playground accessibility as a civil right under the Americans with Disabilities Act, requiring that structures built or altered after March 2012 to meet those standards. Kids in wheelchairs need smooth surfaces to navigate; some inclusive playgrounds offer Braille or textured materials for kids with sight impairments. But as Benincasa reports, such playground features are cost-prohibitive for many municipalities, leading parents and activists to seek support from local civic groups to raise funds.


The App: How to Participate


"Playgrounds for Everyone" is designed to be a community-edited guide to accessible playgrounds. NPR's news apps team has identified 1300 and counting nationwide. Many more are unaccounted for. To participate:


1.      Identify accessible playgrounds, and add them to the database. Do any have smooth, resilient surfaces that are accessible to wheelchairs, or are their surfaces sand or wood chips, which wheelchairs cannot navigate?


2.      Characterize the local play opportunities for disabled children. There is space on each playground page to add comments, tips and even photos of key features.


3.      Provide feedback. Go to the accessible playgrounds app, test it out, add to it and comment.


Taller de Diseño Universal

Desde e-Consulta:

El tres por ciento del total de habitantes en el Municipio de Puebla padece algún tipo de discapacidad, por ello el Sistema Municipal DIF puso en marcha el Taller de Diseño Universal, con el objetivo de fomentar una cultura de respeto hacia este sector de la población, así como facilitar la accesibilidad arquitectónica, administrativa y de comunicación de las personas con discapacidad.

El Director General de este organismo, Joaquín García Vinay, informó que de acuerdo a datos  del Censo de Población y Vivienda INEGI 2010, en la ciudad de Puebla habitan 1 millón 539 mil 819 personas, de las cuales el tres por ciento tiene algún tipo de discapacidad, es decir  46 mil 977 personas.

"La encomienda que tenemos las diferentes áreas del Gobierno Municipal de Puebla es la de innovar tanto en materia de capacitación como en los proyectos, para contar con los mecanismos que nos permitan construir infraestructura adecuada para todos los sectores, en especial para uno tan importante como son las personas con discapacidad", puntualizó.


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