May 2011 Archives

A report from WPTV:


From the sea... to the slopes... Ed Gallagher is doing it all-blind! 

He thought he would never sail again, until he came up with a remote guidance system. 

Genoa, named after Ed's guide dog, is a camera mounted inside these glasses. It's hooked up to a computer that Ed carries with him. It has a microphone and ear piece...allowing Ed to use internet video call...and call someone to talk him through the process. 

But the idea behind this isn't just for the extreme. Ed see's this helping visually impaired people do just about everything.. 

Ed can even go shopping by using a remote guide. Ed's system isn't fool proof. You can see there are downfalls including unpredictable internet service. But even with a few bumps along the way, Ed says it's worth it. 

BACKGROUND: According to the World Health Organization, 314 million people in the world are visually impaired, and 45 million of those are completely blind. In the United States, four million people live without sight. Though there are many causes of blindness, such as Glaucoma or other diseases of the eye, increasing numbers of people are blind because of conditions relating to old age and longer life expectancies. 

About 82 percent of visually impaired people worldwide are over the age of 50. Blindness can also be caused by cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, and blinding trachoma, among other things.

THE SYSTEM: While many blind people can get around thanks to canes or guide dogs, a Genoa Services guide can help with other things. For instance: reading signs or menus, counting change, or even picking out groceries. Blind users wear hands-free equipment (such as hats or glasses) with a camera and earpiece and communicate with their sighted guide. 

Through Skype video software, the sighted guide can see what the blind user looks at and can talk to him or her through the earpiece. It's important to note that Skype is not the required type of Internet Video Call for users. At this point - according to Ed Gallagher - any type of Internet Video Call will suffice. Though the system is dependent on a wireless internet connection, it gives its blind users new freedom and independence. (SOURCE:

THE FUTURE: Genoa Services will be available to 50 users in the San Francisco Bay Area this year, according to the Genoa Services website. Later in the year, they plan to expand to other locations, given adequate funding. Ed Gallagher, the man behind Genoa Services, envisions call centers full of guides for blind people on the go. Those interested in using the service or being a volunteer guide can send an email to Genoa Services for more information. (SOURCE:

PROBLEMS: The Genoa system is not without problems and potential issues. After all, this is a developing technology ... although one with presumably a very high upside. 

The top concern is shaky Internet service. This can, obviously, cause problems if a user is using heavy (and possibly dangerous) machinery like a car or a boat (like Ed). Ed is hopeful these kinks can be worked out very soon, thought it's likely there may need to be a more "close to home" cooperation between users and guides. 
For More Information, Contact:

Scott Plakun 
Genoa Services 

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The Barbados Disability Council coordinates a network of 19 stakeholder groups:

In 1976, out of a meeting to address the needs of Barbadians with disabilities, the "Barbados Council for the Handicapped" was born at the home of Chief Justice Sir William Douglas. Two months later the Council was officially launched at the Annual General meeting of the Barbados Association for Mentally Retarded Children...

A cherished programme of the council was launched in November 2005 with the unveiling of the Fully Accessible Barbados (FAB) Awards. These awards seek to recognize those facilities, which have made a conscious effort to be accessible to persons with disabilities.

Among some of the more recent programmes of the Council are:

  • Community-Based Rehabilitation programme;
  • The employment of a part time Physiotherapist;
  • The "Nothing About Us Without Us" t-shirt campaign;
  • The distribution of Parking IDS and Parking Reminder Fliers;
  • The "A Voice of Our Own" monthly article in the Nation Newspaper;
  • The production of accessibility guideline brochures.

The Council's affiliates have reached a total of nineteen organizations representing a wide cross section of interests and specialties.

The Barbados Council for the Disabled continues to share a vision with our membership and that is, integration and equality of opportunities for all persons with disabilities. The Board of Directors and staff are committed to these objectives and we welcome the support of all persons in the achievement of these goals.

In July I'll be in Barbados. Most people can probably write a list from here to the back door with all the reasons they would like to have a week on a Caribbean island. Few would include one of my motivations -- to play darts.Barbados Darts Festival.jpg

Yes, as in Justin Dart, except the target will be a cork bullseye and not the traditional targets who wandered into range of his sharp tongue. In fact, Justin might have agreed that Barbados has a lot going for it in terms of inclusion of our people.

For the past couple years Barbados has hosted a Darts Festival in the fall. I'd like to meet Wayne Mardle

I know that July is a bit off season. I figure it's better that way. Less crowded. Anybody else who happens to be in the room when I get my hands on darts has more options for scurrying out of range.

But there are some darned fine darts players who use wheelchairs. Just ask Russ Strobel about all the Australians who use the Wildfire 137 Dart Frame - one that allows darts to be an inclusive sport.

Maybe darts,and the October 31 to November 10, 2011 Barbados Darts Festival can become a new itinerary item for a "Fully Accessible Barbados?" 

If so, I'm giving fair warning. For insurance purposes I probably should be assigned to the "soft-tipped darts league"!

Wheelchair Dart Frame


From Russ Strobel

A special wheelchair dart frame has been developed to further the call for a recognised lowered dartboard height for wheelchair players. The unique design allows wheelchair players to compete fairly against able-bodied players on same dart frame for the first time ever.

With dart boards set at appropriate heights on each side of the rotating backboard wheelchair dart players can now throw and retrieve their own darts as well as score games for other players.

This piece of equipment represents the culmination of a four year project by local Yarram resident and Victorian Darts Council Vice President Russ Strobel to research an appropriate dartboard height for wheelchair players and develop a piece of equipment that removes all obstacles to their inclusion at darts events and leagues.

The Wildfire 137 dart frame will be displayed for the first time at the Victorian Open Darts Championship in Morwell on the 13th and 14th June where information and practical demonstrations of the difficulties wheelchair players have faced up until now will be given. It's hoped that the Darts Federation of Australia will now consider approving the revised dartboard height thereby paving the way for wheelchair players to enter our sport worldwide by throwing at a suitable and fair height.

Russ is interested in hearing from any interested wheelchair sports people prepared to hone their skills on the new dartboard height with a view to possibly competing in a demonstration event at a National competition during 2011. Coaching is freely offered to those interested.

Email: Russ Strobel at VDC Vice President to register your interest.

Wheelchair Dart Frame

Reprinted from Deadeye Darts:

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Caribbean 360 reports on an encouraging trend in Barbados - government promotion of inclusion in sports. Stories like this help make Barbados appealing as a travel destination for tourists with disabilities..

imageThe country's minister of sports says members of the disabled community should be able to access all facilities across the island.

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Wednesday May 4, 2011 - Minister of Sports Stephen Lashley is nudging authorities to "move a bit faster" to ensure disabled persons have easier access to private and public sector facilities all across the island.

"This is not an issue that is only being addressed from the perspective of the Paralympic Association. It is a national issue and I have pledged to make sure that, in relation to sporting access, the National Sports Council will ensure that access, particularly when it comes to convening meetings and the holding of activities, is dealt with," he said at yesterday's launch of Goalball, a Paralympic sport played by blind and visually impaired athletes.

"The whole question of discrimination is also one of the key issues in Barbados and we have got to attack it from all fronts."

Minister Lashley disclosed that he had already held discussions with the National Sports Council on the matter.

He said he was keen on doing everything in his power to ensure issues of access were sorted out.

Meantime, the Sports Minister has thanked the British High Commission for supporting the Goalball initiative and appealed to the private sector to come on board and assist the Paralympic Association with its valuable work. 

Lashley promised his Ministry's continued support and said he hoped a Goalball team would be sent to the Paralympics which will run from August 29 - September 9, 2012 and is expected to attract 4,200 competitors in 20 sports.

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