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Saturday, 27 September 2014

Student Research in Autism and Cerebral Palsy is at the Heart of the CDN

Since 1987, a group of exceptional faculty from multiple disciplines has been working at The Center for Developmental Neuroscience and Developmental Disabilities (CDN) at the College of Staten Island in order to understand the etiology of mental diseases, intellectual and developmental disabilities, and other brain diseases as well as to provide outstanding education to undergraduate and graduate students.

Antony Castiello, a 2012 graduate from the Master's Program in Neuroscience is cloning ion channel genes to study the effect of pharmacological inhibitors isolated from spiders and scorpions. Antony is very interested in understanding molecular and physiological changes in individuals with Autism.

In 2002, the professors of the CDN established the Master’s program in Neuroscience and Developmental Disabilities with the idea of increasing the opportunities of higher education for Staten Island students interested in the neurological aspects of disease.

Maria Saldarriaga is interested in understanding the effects of congenital prenatal development problems. Maria just joined the program in Fall of 2014 and she plans on to conduct her research in cerebral palsy.

Since the program’s inception, more than 450 have enrolled in the Master’s in Neuroscience, consequently having an extremely positive impact on the community. The program allowed numerous students to continue with their education in healthcare (MD, dentistry, nursing) at the doctoral level, or to directly enter the job market at local Staten Island institutions dedicated to assisting people with disabilities such as Eden II, The G.R.A.C.E Foundation, and Staten Island University Hospital. Very successful scientists have started their careers with the Master’s in Neuroscience program. These remarkable professionals are now at CUNY, SUNY Downstate, Harvard University, University of Chicago, Washington University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Albert Einstein College, MIT, University of San Francisco, Stanford University, NYU, and the New York State Institute for Basic Research (IBR). Among these professionals, who had their start at the CDN, is Dr. Zaghloul Ahmed, who is now a Professor in Physical Therapy and also Dr. Abdeslem El-Idrissi, who is now the Chair of the Department of Biology at CSI. More recently, Jasmen Khan, a 2014 graduate, became the Science Outreach Coordinator at Rockefeller University. In fact, the CDN boasts the largest number of Neuroscience Doctoral students in the entire CUNY system, and offers the only Neuroscience Master’s program with emphasis on developmental and intellectual disabilities in the country.

Another remarkable success story is that of Antony Castiello, a Master in Neuroscience graduate who is currently doing research as an ad honorem volunteer in Dr. Dan McCloskey’s and Dr. Sebastien Poget’s labs at the CDN.

Like most students working with CDN faculty, Castiello performs his research because of his passion for neuroscience—without any promise of monetary gain. He is a native Staten Islander who graduated from Tottenville High School in 2003 and enrolled at CSI to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Science[TM1] and Economics, which he received in 2007. After a two-year hiatus, he chose to pursue the Master’s degree in Neuroscience at the CDN,which he finished in 2012. Castiello has a very personal motivation and interest in neuroscience that goes beyond the desire for a job. He has been working tirelessly to understand the chemical and physiological changes underlying Asperger Syndrome because he has been diagnosed with this syndrome. Dedicated students like Castiello and passionate faculty make the CDN one of the most unique research centers in the country.

When applying to the Master’s program, Castiello wrote: “I want to study neuroscience to use my knowledge of biology and psychology to find ways to alter the chemicals in the brains of people with Asperger’s so they can function as normal individuals and succeed in life.”

He also quoted that his Asperger’s would be a great help for his research because he could devote as much time to studying since he does not have a social life.

In May of 2013, Castiello published his thesis entitled Developmental Hypothyroidism Effects on Dopamine 2 Receptors in the Dorsal Striatum in Adult Rats. During his research, he discovered that “there are hormonal sexual differences between males and females with Asperger.”

Recently, Maria Saldarriaga, a young woman who is highly motivated to understand what progressive supranuclear palsy has done to her body and her brain, applied to the Center and has been accepted as a Master’s student in Neuroscience. In her letter to the Admissions Committee, Saldarriaga referred to herself as a “Renaissance woman” due to the fact that she has “adapted various coping mechanisms to deal with the challenges I have faced, both psychologically and physically.” She also explained that she is “still curious to this day to explore on an exterior scientific level my anomalies. This is my motivation to understand what makes me different—this will allow me to embrace, understand, and work with my challenges instead of fearing them. Neuroscience will give me the tools to discover more about my ailments and to the use that knowledge to provide a better quality of life for myself and others.”

One of the most important aspects of this Master’s program at the CDN is the amount of scientific research that students conduct under mentor supervision and the numerous laboratory skills they acquire–skills that easily transfer into any other research settings. Students conduct at least two semesters of research followed by a public defense of their data in front of a panel of professors. These practical skills are one of the keys of the success of the Master’s program in Neuroscience at CSI. However, all this training in active neuroscience laboratories conducting experiments has a high cost. The cost of covering the students’ research projects comes mostly from funds awarded to the professors at the CDN and funds from local foundations and institutions. Dr. Alejandra Alonso, the Director of the CDN and coordinator of the Master’s program, explained that Center faculty are also working on incorporating professional certifications and a Professional Science Master’s program to give students even more qualifications that would allow them to better fit in the job market. Leonardo Pignataro, Academic Affairs Specialist at the CDN, explained that it is paramount to “keep the research laboratory classes so the students acquire practical skills.” Unfortunately, the recent economic downturn has reduced funding and has affected tremendously the number of funded projects awarded to CDN professors, which in turn, has negatively impacted the amount of funding available for students like Castiello or Saldarriagato carry out their research projects. This can cause a ripple effect where the lack of funding can be detrimental to research and education that has a positive impact not only on the Staten Island or the NYC community, but potentially on anyone who might one day benefit from the research being done at the CDN. Center faculty members are certain that training students in neuroscience fosters intellectual potential that will work toward solving mental disorders that burden our community in the future. “The solution to autism, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, or neurodegeneration might come from work done by one of our students” said Dr. Alejandra Alonso.

The CDN has been reaching out to several organizations, as well as alumni and other private donors in order to bolster funding for the program. The scientific and cultural impact that the program has and will continue to have on the Staten Island community is immeasurable, but the Center must rely on these critical donations to help fund this important program.

For more information about the CDN or to find out how to donate to the program, visit:

Source : CSI Today , 23rd Sep 2014

National Convention on Inclusive Education of Children with Special Needs Held

The National Convention on Inclusive Education for Children with Special Needs/disabilities was held in New Delhi today. The Convention focused on evolving strategies that will further the right of children with disabilities to free and compulsory education within an inclusive system.

The Convention came up with certain suggestions for realization of right to education of children with special needs within the education system of our country. It aimed at identifying the specific concerns of children with special needs/disabilities within the larger debates and concerns in education; (ii) taking stock of the status of inclusive education with specific reference to Right of children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009; (iii) exploring strategies that could be used to strengthen an inclusive education system; and (iv) making recommendations for the realization of the Right to Education of children with special needs/disabilities within the education system of India.

Focusing on the four themes (i) Enhancing enrolment and preventing dropouts (ii) Curriculum, assessment and CCE (iii) Improving the quality of education and (iv) Data, Governance and Grievance redress, it discussed the education of children with disabilities within the larger contexts and debates in education.

As a preparatory background the National Convention the Commission had organized a children's conclave on 3rd September 2014, at India International Center (IIC) to understand the views and opinions of children with special needs, who are the key stakeholders in Inclusive education.

Shri R.Bhattacharya, Secretary, Department of School Education, Ministry of Human Resource Development and Ms Stuti Kacker, Secretary Department of Disability Affairs, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment addressed the Convention which was also attended by experts, teachers, officials of the Government of India and State Government members of School Management Committees, and other organizations.

Source : Business Standard , 23rd Sep 2014

Chennai hospitals surveyed for accessibility - CHENNAI

64 hospitals responded to a questionnaire on the availability of facilities for disabled persons

A recent survey of city hospitals for their accessibility to people with disabilities received mixed response. While private hospitals seemed to be receptive to the exercise, government hospitals seemed unwilling to allow audits.

According to Smitha Sadasivan of the Disabilities Legislation Unit (DLU), hospitals are the first and basic unit that a person with disabilities needs accessibility to. And that is why, DLU, part of Vidya Sagar — which is a non-profit organisation working with persons with disabilities — recently conducted the study in 98 hospitals, with the help of students from the NSS unit of School of Excellence in Law.

“We wanted to audit the accessibility of city hospitals in terms of their infrastructure, diagnostic equipment, procedures as well their attitudinal response to the needs of disabled persons,” Ms. Sadasivan said, adding that an important feature they looked for was the seeking of informed consent from disabled people.

Sixty-four hospitals responded to a questionnaire on the availability of ramps, parking facilities, accessibility indicators like signage, and wheelchair-accommodative lifts, and 34 hospitals did not.

“We also wanted to know if hospitals had conducted training for employees on the requirements of people with disabilities,” said Salomi Christie, one of the students who visited the hospitals.

“Many private hospitals treated the survey with respect,” said Ms. Sadasivan, adding that the same could not be said of government hospitals.

“Repeated requests to hospital authorities led us to the office of the Directorate of Medical Education. We were finally told a letter would be sent to us regarding permission to audit government hospitals. It has been a week, and no letter has been received so far,” she added.

The results of the survey will be released on October 24, observed as United Nations Day, Ms. Sadasivan said.

Study was conducted by a unit of Vidya Sagar, with the help of students.

Source : The Hindu , 22nd Sep 2014

Smartphone App Gives 'Sight' to the Blind

A new computer program is being praised as a life-changer for blind people. The new program is known as the KNFB Reader app. It can help users listen to an audio read-back -- the sound -- of printed material.

Blind people say the KNFB Reader app will make life much easier. They say it will help with everything from reading restaurant menus to studying papers in the classroom.

The application software program costs $99. It is the product of a long relationship between the National Federation of the Blind and Ray Kurzweil. He is a computer scientist and an employee of Google, which specializes in Internet-related services.

The Google website says the technical development of the app resulted from the work of K-NFB Reading Technology Incorporated and Sensotec NV, a company in Belgium.

Kurzweil demonstrated the app at the National Federation of the Blind's yearly meeting in June.

The KNFB Reader makes use of new pattern recognition and image-processing technology, and new
hardware for smartphones. People using the app can adjust, or change the position, of the camera and read printed materials out loud.

say the app has given some people greater
independence. The Reuters news service says they made the comments on social media sites such as Twitter. One user, named Gordon Luke, reported that he was able to use the app to read his voting card for the recent referendum in Scotland.

Kurzweil told Reuters that the app will be available for Android mobile devices in the coming months. He said he may also build a version of the app for Google Glass. Google Glass is a small computer screen that can be connected to eyeglasses. It is able to take photographs, record video and play sound.

Blind App for Smartphone

Kurzweil added that “Google Glass makes sense because you direct the camera with your head."

Mr. Kurzweil started working on what he called "reading machines" in the early 1970s. The idea came after speaking with a blind person who expressed frustration with the lack of technology to assist blind people.

. Kurzweil's first reading machine was the size of a washing machine. It cost $50,000.

The technology has continued to improve over the past 20 years. The new smartphone app can recognize and take printed material in one language and change it to another language. But it was not available on a mobile device until now. In the past, it cost more than $1,000 to use the software app with a camera and a mobile phone.

The release of the KNFB Reader app comes at a time when the technology industry is facing criticism. Critics say the industry is too concerned about making software programs for sharing photos and video games.

In San Francisco, activists have blocked buses operated by companies such as Google and Apple. They also have protested near the homes of some technology company executives. They say these business leaders are increasing the cost of living and not doing enough to help fix the problems of San Francisco.

Bryan Bashin leads the non-profit group Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired in San Francisco. He is also blind. He says the KNFB app shows the positive impact that technology can have. He says there are times in his life when he wishes the KNFB app were available to him. He adds that the ability to gain information quickly with something that fits in your pocket at a fast speed will be, what he calls, “a game changer."

I’m Jonathan Evans.

Source : Learning English VOA News , 27th Sep 2014

Rights for the disabled: Top court reprimands federal govt, provinces - ISLAMABAD , PAKISTAN

Calling the federal government’s response ‘unsatisfactory’, the Supreme Court has again ordered it to file a ‘proper concise statement’ over the plea regarding the enforcement of fundamental rights of millions of people with disabilities in the country.

The three-judge bench, headed by Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, also expressed annoyance with provincial governments for not filing a proper reply over the plea and again directed them to file their comprehensive statements within four weeks.

The bench has also issued notices to other respondents including Capital Development Authority, Higher Education Commission, Pemra, NADRA, Election Commission of Pakistan and Pakistan Television.

In February, Advocate Raheel Kamran Sheikh filed the petition on behalf of six disabled persons, requesting the apex court to direct all respondents to disclose their efforts to fulfill their obligations under the law and the Constitution for the enforcement of fundamental rights of persons with disabilities.

They appealed to the court to order the respondents to implement all the relevant provisions of the 1981 Ordinance and the Provincial Acts to ensure the employment of persons with disabilities against the disability quota in all government, commercial and industrial establishments.

During the hearing on Thursday, the bench appreciated the efforts of the counsel’s petitioners to highlight the issues of disabled persons, adding that these are the genuine cases, wherein the jurisdiction of Article 184(3) could be invoked.

The apex court made it clear that it would take up all the issues of disabled persons one by one as it is not in hurry to dispose of the case.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 26th, 2014.

Seat of power a hurdle for disabled - CHENNAI


Without basic facilities, the Secretariat is largely inaccessible

Activists point out the lack of reserved parking for disabled persons, which forces them to park in the general lot on the opposite side of the road. Photo: M. Vedhan

Activists point out the lack of reserved parking for disabled persons, which forces them to park in the general lot on the opposite side of the road


Over a decade ago, the State government had made it mandatory for all buildings under the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority to be disabled-friendly.

In 2013, a government order detailed rules for the provision of special facilities — including ramps, lifts, handrails, toilets and reserved parking — for the disabled in multi-storeyed buildings. In its 2014 election manifesto, the AIADMK stated: “a time-bound programme will be launched to ensure the accessibility of public buildings to differently abled persons by provision of ramps.”

And yet, the Tamil Nadu government’s seat of power, the Secretariat, remains largely inaccessible, say activists.

“It starts with the parking. Since there is no reserved parking for disabled persons, we have to park in the general lot on the opposite side of the road, then cross over, get a pass at a counter that is not disabled-friendly, and then enter,” said T.M.N. Deepak, vice-president of the Tamil Nadu Differently Abled Federation Charitable Trust, who uses crutches.

B. Meenakshi, of Equals, Centre for Promotion of Social Justice, said that, though there was a ramp at one gate, access was not provided in all the parts of the building. “Many of the rooms to the secretaries and ministers have steps at their entrance. Sometimes, we have to ask them to come down to meet us as we can’t reach their rooms. The toilets, too, are not accessible,” she said.

For B. Sunder, of the Institute of Mathematical Sciences, another huge issue is the insensitivity displayed by police and security personnel. “There are no clear directions for access anywhere, and the police keep shooing you. Even to get to the part of the building that has a ramp, we had to plead with the police to help us. For someone in a wheelchair, it is extremely difficult. It feels like disabled residents are unwanted there,” he said.

Besides the State’s own rules, the Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995, also states that all public places like government offices, bus and railway stations, parks and courts have to be made barrier free. India is also a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which states that appropriate measures should be taken to ensure “persons with disabilities access, on an equal basis with others, to the physical environment, to transportation, to information and communications”.

State commissioner for the disabled, K. Manivasan, said the Secretariat was an old building with limited space, but steps would be taken to make it disabled-friendly.

“What we want to popularise is the concept of universal design, of making sure every building is built to be accessible to all. There is a lot of work to do but we are in the process of making public buildings more disabled-friendly,” he said.

Source : The Hindu , 22nd Sep 2014

Equipments for children with disabilities distributed at Jiribam - IMPHAL

The Additional District Project Officer (ADPO) distributed aid and equipments for children with special need in collaboration with Achievement of Rising Maiden (ARM) at the campus of the Institute for Children With Disabilities (ICD), Complex, Lakhipur, Jiribam, 3 pm today.

The distribution ceremony was attended by Th. Ketuki Devi, Zonal Education Officer, Jiribam; S.Jadhob Singh, President and O.Brajamani Singh, DI of Schools ZEO Jiribam, as a chief Guest, president and guest of honour respectively.

During the function altogether 50 numbers of special equipments for differently able children including 19 numbers of Braile Slate, 14 Wheel Chairs-14, five Iny Cycle and hearing aid- 12 in numbers, were distributed to the children.

Speaking on the occasion, Th. Ketuki Devi said that the government has provided all these facilities to the differently able children, so as to bring them up at par with others in the society before appealing guardians to make use of it to the full benefit of the differently able children.

Source : Kanglaonline , 24th Sep 2014

Leading an orchestra differently - KOLLAM

When Rakesh Rajnikanth was six months old, his parents and relatives discovered to their shock that he was blind and mentally challenged. Now, 32 years later, they are only too proud to say that he is in fact “differently able”.

Even now he is completely expressionless when hungry or thirsty and cannot do anything on his own.

But he sings so well that he can bring an entire audience to their feet. Friday marks a big day in the life of his family since he will be making his debut in Carnatic music at the Lakshminada temple here as part of the Navaratri celebrations.

It all began with his grandfather giving him a tape recorder 30 year ago as a toy. That was because he could only hear and other toys were of no use. From that age he began listening to songs, says his father, Rajnikanth, from a Gujarati family settled in Kollam for the past 60 years.

Some years later all of a sudden, Rakesh began to sing a song he regularly heard over the tape recorder and that surprised his family. It was a Kishore Kumar song and he sang it as though Kishore Kumar himself was singing. Then he went on to sing Mohammed Rafi and S.P. Balasuramaniam songs with the sound of the original singer.

His family members soon discovered that though blind and challenged, he can master any song in any language after hearing it a few times. With the karaoke machine, he times the songs with mathematical precision. This happens because he is an echolaliac, meaning that he echoes what he hears.

Singing with ease

Today, he even sings with ease the not-so-easy-to-sing ‘Marutamalai Mamaniye…’ of Madurai Somasundaram. Rakesh has a databank of hundreds of songs in six languages in his head and can play any one of them at will, improvising each song each time.

As news about his exceptional talent spread, the International People Leap Organisation promoted him and today, even though he is not aware of it, Rakesh leads a devotional song orchestra.

The orchestra has more than 80 bookings a year. He also sings Christian and Muslim devotional songs. The only two words he understands is “music concert” and on hearing them, he starts practising.

Source : The Hindu , 26th Sep 2014 

Saraf promises college to differently-abled students - JAIPUR

As a major respite for deaf and dumb students here, state government has decided to make arrangements for them in some colleges across the state on Wednesday. Education minister Kalicharan Saraf has also assured of opening a college for them very soon. The move came after deaf and dumb students protested for the past one week at Udyog Bhavan demanding a dedicated college for them.

Notably, Rajasthan has no college for deaf and dumb students. In the absence of any college, they are forced to study in normal colleges where they find no teachers who know sign language. Every year hundreds of students pass out from our schools and head for different colleges for studies. Many of them drop out due to unfriendly educational environment.

This situation has created a major obstacle for them in pursuing higher education. In the absence of higher education they fail to reap the benefits of reservations in government jobs. 

 State has also opened a section each for five humanities subjects in Poddar College. Here translators will help students and students can apply for it till the first week of October.

Source : TOI ,  25th Sep 2014

New smartphone app gives sight to people with vision disabilities - SAN FRANSISCO

Jonathan Mosen, who has been blind since birth, spent his evening snapping photos of packages in the mail, his son’s school report and labels on bottles in the fridge. In seconds, he was listening to audio of the printed words the camera captured, courtesy of a new app on his Apple Inc iPhone.

KNFB App Screenshot

“I couldn’t believe how accurate it was,” said Mosen, an assistive technology consultant from New Zealand.
The new app that allows people who are blind to listen to an audio readback of printed text is receiving rave reviews after its first day of availability and is being heralded as a life-changer by many people.
People with vision disabilities say the KNFB Reader app will enable a new level of engagement in everyday life, from reading menus in restaurants to browsing handouts in the classroom.

The US$99 app is the result of a four decades-long relationship between the National Federation of the Blind and Ray Kurzweil, a well-known artificial-intelligence scientist and senior Googleemployee.

According to its website, K-NFB Reading Technology Inc and Sensotec NV, a Belgium-based company, led the technical development of the app.

Kurzweil, who demonstrated the app on stage at the NFB’s annual convention in June, said it can replace a “sighted adviser”.

Taking advantage of new pattern recognition and image- processing technology as well as new smartphone hardware, the app allows users to adjust or tilt the camera, and reads printed materials out loud.

People with refreshable Braille displays can now snap pictures of print documents and display them in Braille near-instantaneously, said NFB spokesman Chris Danielsen.

The app has already given some people greater independence, users said on Thursday and Friday on social-media sites such as Twitter.

One early adopter, Gordon Luke, tweeted that he was able to use the app to read his polling card for the Scottish Referendum.

The app will be available on Android in the coming months, Kurzweil told Reuters in an interview. He may also explore a version of the app for Google Glass, a postage stamp-sized computer screen that attaches to eyeglass frames and is capable of taking photos, recording video and playing sound.

“Google Glass makes sense because you direct the camera with your head,” Kurzweil said.

Kurzweil started working on so-called “reading machines” in the early 1970s after chatting on a plane with a blind person who voiced frustrations with the lack of optical-recognition technology on the market.

A few years later, “Kurzweil burst into the National Federation of the Blind’s offices in Washington, DC, and said he had invented a reading machine,” recalled Jim Gashel, a former NFB employee who currently heads business development at KNFB Reader. “It was phenomenal.”

Kurzweil’s first reading machine was the size of a washing machine and cost $50,000.

The technology has continued to improve over the past few decades — the new smartphone app can recognize and translate print between different languages and scan PowerPoint slides up to 7.6m away — but it was not available on a mainstream mobile device until now.
Previously, it cost more than US$1,000 to use the software with a Nokia cell phone and a camera.

San Francisco-based Bryan Bashin, executive director of the non-profit Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, said the KNFB app shows the positive and profound impact that technology can have.

“There are innumerable times in life that I’ll have a bit of print and there will be nobody around who can help me out, and I’ll just want to know something as simple as ‘Is this packet decaf or caffeinated coffee?’” Bashin said.

“The ability to do this easily with something that fits in your pocket at lightning speed will certainly be a game changer.”

Source : Global Accessibility News , 22nd Sep 2014 

राजस्थान में विकलांग स्टूडेंट्स के लिए अलग से बनेगा कॉलेज

राजस्थान सरकार ने शारीरिक रूप से विकलांग स्टूडेंट्स के लिए एक बड़ा ऐलान किया है. राज्य के शिक्षा मंत्री कालीचरण सराफ ने ऐसे स्टूडेंट्स के लिए अलग से कॉलेज खोलने का आश्वासन दिया है. फिलहाल उन्‍होंने सभी कॉलेजों को शारीरिक रूप से विकलांग स्टूडेंट्स के लिए विशेष सुविधाएं मुहैया कराने का भी आदेश दिया है.

इससे पहले शारीरिक रूप से विकलांग स्टूडेंट्स ने अलग कॉलेज की मांग को लेकर एक ह‍फ्ते तक उद्योग भवन के सामने प्रदर्शन किया था. आपको बता दें कि राजस्थान में विकलांग छात्रों के लिए एक भी कॉलेज नहीं है.
मूक और दृष्टिबाधित छात्रों का मानना है कि राज्य में उनके लिए अलग से कॉलेज न होने के कारण उनकी पढ़ाई पर असर पड़ रहा है. यहां तक कि कॉलेजों में ऐसे शिक्षक भी नहीं हैं जिन्हें सांकेतिक भाषा आती हो. इसी कारण ज्यादातर स्टूडेंट्स अपनी पढ़ाई बीच में ही छोड़ देते हैं. इससे सरकारी नौकरी में मिलनेवाले आरक्षण का लाभ उन्हें नहीं मिल पाता.

गौरतलब है कि राजस्‍थान में विकलांगों के लिए अलग से कॉलेज खोले जाने की मांग काफी समय से की जा रही थी. ऐसे में सराफ की इस घोषणा के बाद स्टूडेंट्स काफी उत्साहित हैं.

Source : Aaj Tak , 26th Sep 2014

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Saudi among winners of top award for disability research SAUDI

A Saudi professor was among the winners of the prestigious Prince Salman Award for Disability Research (PSADR) at a ceremony held at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Riyadh on Sunday.

Prince Sultan bin Salman chairman of the Prince Salman Center for Disability Research (PSCDR) announced the winners.

Dr. Fowzan S. Alkuraya a professor of human genetics at the College of Medicine at Alfaisal University who was recognized for his distinguished work in the health and medical sciences domain won SR25000 in cash in addition to certificates and medals.

Alkuraya is currently principal scientist and senior consultant at King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center.

The pedagogical and educational sciences award was given to professor Ann P. Turnbull a US national who is a professor of special education cofounder and codirector of the Beach Center on Families and Disability and to professor H. Rutherford Turnbull also a US citizen who also cofounded and codirects the center which is affiliated to the same center at the University of Kansas. Turnball had been nominated by the university.

The rehabilitative and social sciences award meanwhile went to professor Hugh M. Herr from the US who is affiliated with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab and nominated by KFSHRC and to professor Margaret G. Stineman also from the US who is affiliated to the University of Pennsylvania and nominated by the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

PSADR a newly created award is for distinguished work in the fields of health and medical sciences educational sciences rehabilitative and social sciences.

'We at the Prince Salman Center for Disability Research are working in partnership with reputed institutions scientific and research academic centers at the global level to translate the outcome of research to services and policies for the benefit of persons with disabilities and to integrate them into society' said Prince Sultan in his speech.

He pointed out that such awards would encourage scientific research to explore effective solutions to disability which is a global issue. It is also an investment in science and technology that would improve the living conditions of persons with disabilities.

The high-profile event was attended by members of the royal family high-ranking Saudi officials and foreign dignitaries.

Speaking on the occasion Abdullah Al-Rabeeah the award president said that the prestigious award was named after the crown prince and chairman since it is reflective of his interest in disability issues.

'It is a testimony to the far-sighted vision of the Custodian of the two Holy Mosques King Abdullah to activate the role of scientific research in improving the quality of various programs and services through the adaptation of scientific research and modern technology for the benefit of persons with disabilities so that they can overcome their problems through self-reliance' he said.

He added: 'It seeks to realize their aspirations as well as encourage the efforts of local regional and global efforts to enrich the science and knowledge in areas of disability. It will also foster an environment of intellectual creativity and scientific excellence in the field of disability in order to find alternative solutions that lead to the reduction of disability or mitigate its impact on the victims of disabilities and their families.'

Source : Menafn , 19th Sep 2014

10 things special needs parents wish you knew

As a mom to two little girls who have Down syndrome, I need parents of typically developing kids to know something.

I have needs.

And yes, they may be a bit special because I have “children with special needs.”

Parental support from others in this crazy business of raising kids is essential in a mother’s or father’s life. So it can be painful when support falls flat, or if it doesn’t show up at all.

Here are 10 special needs of special needs parents:

1 We need you to bring it up.
Ask us our stories. Ask questions. We prefer that you ask about our kids directly, rather than avoiding the topic. A smile or friendly “Hello!” is an easy icebreaker.

2 We need our kids to have friends.
If your child wants to have a play date with my kid, encourage it. Call me and say, “How can we make this work?”

3 We need you to share your concerns.
If you are concerned about something regarding my child, tell me about it. I may not have an answer, but I will appreciate the conversation. Just know we don’t always need your advice. Talk to us about a new therapy or diet you’ve heard about. Just be aware that we’ve probably already heard of it/tried it.

4 We need you to make an effort.
Effort goes a long way. Educate yourself about my child’s special need. For instance, learning simple signs so that you can better communicate with a child who is deaf (and uses sign language) would be appreciated.

5 We need you to prepare your kids to hang out with our kids.
If you know you will be spending time with my child, talk to your kids about it beforehand. Talk about behaviors and ways your child can play with my child. Need ideas? Ask!

6 We need you to be considerate.
Consider the age of the child with special needs. If it is a new baby or a younger kid, I may not be ready to talk yet. But that doesn’t mean I won’t ever want to talk about it. Follow my lead. I’ll let you know.

7 We need your tangible help.
Offer to bring over a meal or help at a doctor’s visit. Or hang out with my child with special needs so I can take my other kids to a matinee.

8 We need you to treat us like your other friends.
Talk about other things with me besides my child with special needs. Believe it or not, I may just want to gossip about Angelina and Brad and their globe-trotting kids.

9 We need validation.
Don’t dismiss my concerns by saying “oh, my typical child does that,” or my favorite, “well, then my kid must have a disability, too, because he/she does XYZ.” When I open up about a struggle, I want validation, not to be blown off.

10 We need invitations.
Don’t assume I’m too busy. Ask me out to eat or to a movie. I may not be able to get away as easily as other friends who don’t have kids with special needs, but I’ll go if I can, and if I can’t, your invitation will make my day. And ask me again!

Gillian Marchenko is a writer, speaker and advocate for her two daughters with Down syndrome. She lives in Chicago with her husband and four children.

Source : Chicago Parent , 19th Sep 2014

Differently abled not welcome at Rohilkhand University - BAREILLY

As a disabled student, Vinod Kumar never imagined that life would get tougher once he entered college. A second year student pursuing BSc from Bareilly College, Kumar has to battle his way to classes everyday.

With no arrangements made for the disabled, education institutes in the city, which are supposed to empower students and brighten their future, prove to be a challenge for the challenged.

TOI's third report on the matter looks into how institutes of higher education are a nightmare for physically handicapped students, who have to take help even to go use the lavatories.

Kumar, who walks with the help of calipers, says that it takes him a lot of time to descend six stairs to reach the gate of the college hostel from his room. "I use a tri cycle for commuting between the hostel and the department. But the tri-cycle isn't allowed in classrooms for which I need to climb steps using calipers," he added.

These students have a difficult time attending practical lessons where it is compulsory to stand during assignments.

Even though all of Kumar's classes take place on the ground floor, he still has to climb more than 10 steps to take care of official work, like paying the fee or submitting documents, at the administrative block.

"During examinations we are allotted classes on the first floor which makes life even more difficult," he said.

Another student, Ravi Kumar of BSc I Year said, "We take a lot of pain to reach classrooms but it hurts when the teacher is absent from the class."

The biggest problem for physically challenged students, apart from using staircases, is that of using toilets. "Toilets are out of our bound and we have to take someone's help to reach there," said Rahul Gupta, a differently abled student from in MJP Rohikhand University. Another student added that water kiosks are located at a higher plane than they can access.

Talking to TOI, some of the physically challenged students said that there was hardly anything which could be called 'friendly' for them in Rohilkhand University and Bareilly College.

After railway stations, bus stands and the district hospital, there are no proper ramps for handicapped students at colleges as well and they are forced to take the stairs riding their calipers with chances of accidents quite high during rush hours.

Imran Ansari of Samajwadi Party's students union wing said, "Though we have asked for proper arrangements for differently abled students from college authorities, they have not paid heed to our demands."

The college and university authorities seem to be least bothered about violating University Grant Commission (UGC) directives which clearly mention that institutes should create special facilities such as ramps, rails and special toilets, and make other necessary changes to suit the special needs of differently-abled persons. For this purpose, the UGC makes a one-time grant of up to Rs 5 lakh per university/college.

When contacted, principal of Bareilly College, Somesh Yadav said, "If any such student is facing difficulties, they can contact me and I will take steps to ensure easy mobility in the campus." However, despite repeated attempts, authorities of Rohilkhand University were unavailable for comments. 

Source : TOI , 19th Sep 2014 

Man murders wife, disabled son; surrenders to police - BANGALORE

A man killed his wife and five-year-old physically-challenged son by slitting their throat at his house in Rajajinagar, on Monday afternoon.
Rushing to Rajajinagar Police Station, Kumar Nayak, 30, a dressmaker at Bhashyam Circle, confessed he had murdered his wife Manjula Bai, 26, suspecting her fidelity, and their son Harshith, 5.

Fortuitously, his three-year-old son, Chandan, was away at a family friend’s house, when Kumar, in a sudden rush of blood and pique, committed the heinous crime.

The police have arrested Nayak. A resident of Rajajinagar IV Block, 10th Main, Rama Mandir Road, and native of Hunasikoppa, in Magadi taluk, he had married Manjula Bai seven years ago, after a brief courtship. 

Thereafter, the couple had moved to Bangalore five years ago, police said.

The couple had frequent tiffs lately over Manjula’s fidelity. On Monday, returning home around 3.30 pm, Kumar attacked his wife with a dagger who collapsed due to bleeding profusely.  Later, he slit Harshith’s throat repeatedly.

MURDER MOST FOUL: People gather outside the house on 10th Main Road, 4th Block, Rajajinagar, where Kumar Nayak (inset top left) murdered his wife Manjula Bai and their son Harshith (inset top right) on Monday. dh photos

He told police inspector N Ramesh that since his wife continued her affair despite several warnings, he decided to murder her.

Stating that it would have been difficult for his physically challenged son to fend for himself, he said, he had murdered him as well, since he did not want him to suffer in the  absence of a caretaker. Harshith had lost both his legs due to a disease.

The police inspector rushed to Kumar’s house and was shocked to see the bodies lying in a pool of blood. Later, he arrested Kumar.

“It’s really a shocking incident,” Additional Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) Alok Kumar, who visited the spot, said.

Uma, a close family friend, said “Chandan was attached to me ever since his birth. I had come Kumar’s house on September 5. I took Chandan with me while returning home. I am shocked to hear the news.”

Observing that she had known the couple over a decade, she said Kumar is a good person, though the couple frequently quarrelled.

House owner Manjunath, describing Kumar as a polite human being, said “he did not have financial troubles. The couple were happily married and I never found them to be fighting.”

The police clarified that Kumar just told them his wife had an affair, but did not disclose further details.

It is not known if he imagined things or Manjula Bai did have an affair, police said.

Source : Deccan Herald , 15th Sep 2014

This video will leave you feeling embarrassed about your 'non-disability'

Lucky enough to be born with all your organs intact and appropriate brain-wiring?

This video will leave you feeling embarrassed about your 'non-disability' (watch video)
One must thank God for blessing you with good life, positive attitude and the will to outcome any disability.
But are you really ‘able’ enough to not to be categorized as 'disabled?

Well, disability is not at all related to dysfunctional body parts or brain incapability, it's all just the attitude of a person towards life.

Always Remember: 'The only disability in life is a bad attitude. So, next time your attitude goes foul tag yourself as 'disabled'.

The video 'Naked Truth' is a celebration of 28 physically challenged candidates, who cleared the Civil Services Examinations in 2010.

Watch This Video : 

Source : India TV , 19th Sep 2014 

Saturday, 13 September 2014

SC clears 3% reservation for disabled in jobs, promotions

The Supreme Court on Friday ruled in favour of three per cent reservation for differently-abled candidates in civil services, not only at the stage of their appointments but also for departmental promotions.

Giving a level-playing field to more than four crore people with disabilities in India, the apex court held that the Centre, states and Union Territories were obligated to implement the rules of reservation for this class in the matters of appointment, selection, direct recruitment, deputation and also for promotions. It asked the Centre to show a big heart and give the differently-abled people their due in all central and state government jobs.

A bench led by Chief Justice of India R M Lodha reiterated its earlier verdict that the principle of not exceeding 50 per cent reservation would not be applicable while granting quota for differently-abled people.

The bench expressed its displeasure at the government seeking to adopt a hyper-technical approach, as its counsel pressed that three per cent reservation could be given only at the stage of appointment but not for promotion. The Persons With Disabilities Act provides for three per cent quota for the differently-abled people.

“Appointment will include promotion. You are frustrating the very reservation policy for the disabled — the class for which this beneficial piece of legislation was enacted, by arguing against it,” the bench, also comprising Justices Kurian Joseph and Rohinton F Nariman, told Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand.

Anand sought to point out that the reservation at the stage of promotion may lead to huge resentment, especially among employees in Group A and Group B categories, since many beneficiaries may get ahead of their seniors.

She was placing an appeal against the Bombay High Court order, directing the government to implement three per cent reservation for the differently-abled in civil services recruitment, besides granting the benefit in the matter of promotion too. This order was issued on a PIL filed by the National Confederation for Development of Disabled, which was represented by senior advocate R S Suri and Arpit Bhargava in the apex court.

The bench, however, told the Additional Solicitor General that the objective of the reservation policy, as envisaged by Parliament, was unequivocal that the differently-abled people must get the benefits without technical impediments.

“Once Parliament prescribes for reservation in appointments, it will cover direct recruitment, promotion and even deputation. Our experience tells us that it is one legislation that has never been effectively implemented. In any case, it is a beneficial legislation and you should interpret in a manner so that they get the benefits,” said the bench.

At this, the Additional Solicitor General agreed with the bench and conceded not to press the appeal any further. The court then dismissed the appeal.

The three per cent reservation, as clarified by the apex court in its last year’s judgment, is to the extent of one per cent each for the blind, hearing and speech impaired, and persons suffering from locomotor disability or cerebral palsy.

The Supreme Court had in October last ruled in favour of a minimum three per cent reservation for them in all central and state government jobs. Regretting the denial of opportunities to the differently-abled people in the country, the court had quashed the Centre’s 2005 office memorandum and the government’s claim that the reservation policy not only had to be different for Group A, B C and D posts but the quota had to confine to “identified” posts.

Source :  The Indian Express , 12th Sep 2014 

Allowing scribes to person with disabilities at the time of departmental examinations- Indian Railways : Circular

RBE No.43/2014

New Delhi, dated 01.09.2014

The General Managers (P)
All Indian Railways & Pus,
(as per standard list)

           Sub:       Guidelines for providing various facilities including allowing scribes to person with  disabilities at the time of examination.

                The issue of providing various facilities, including scribes to persons with disabilities, for writing answers in departmental examination has been under consideration of the Board for quite some time.

                2. Accordingly, it has been decided by the Board that instructions contained in this Ministry’s letters No.E(NG)II/2006/RC-2/13 dated 17.9.2007, 18.02.2011, 27.04.2012, 25.09.2013 and 19.12.2013 may be made applicable in case of departmental examination also, wherever circumstances wo warrant.

                                                                                                         Please acknowledge receipt.
                                                                                                             Hindi version shall follow.


                                                            (Amita Bhalla)
                                                            Deputy Director-II E(NG)I

                                                            Railway Board.

Wills On Wheels Overcomes The Disability Challenge

WOW envisions every person with physical disability to lead a dignified and a productive life
Following the Gandhian philosophy of ‘Strength does not come from physical capacity, it comes from indomitable Will’; an NGO was founded by two pair of siblings amongst whom three are on wheelchair. This organization called ‘Wills on Wheels’ is based in Mumbai and it aims to enable and empower physically disabled people in our society.

The first thought that comes in our mind whenever we see a physically disabled person is – ‘Oh Bechara!’and that’s how our sympathy cripples them further! Because it is not sympathy that will help them; it is the courage and confidence in their ability or some moral support that will empower them in reality. With a vision to see every person with physical disability leading a dignified and a productive life, Wills on Wheels was founded. Priti Shetty, one of the founder members herself joins Halabol platform and shares her thoughts.

“Wills On Wheels Foundation is a non-profit organization run and enabled by people on wheels for people on wheels At Wills On Wheels (W.O.W) we aim to Engage, Educate and Empower physically disabled in our society.”
Priti herself confesses that it isn’t an easy job considering the orthodox mentality of our society. But they are also aware of the fact that most of the people are compassionate and understanding by nature and wish to see the physically disabled people doing well in their life. That’s why W.O.W tries to reach out to masses through effective communication so to garner support for various initiatives and projects they do for the physically disabled people.

“Wills on Wheels (W.O.W) has formed a vibrant online community to engage people on wheels. W.O.W publishes e-newsletter everymonth to circulate amongst its members. W.O.W also has a Facebook page which posts news and events related to differently abled people. Only recently, W.O.W has started a discussion forum on its website. We aim to empower people on wheelchair, and thus disburse information regarding the rights and laws laid by government for differently-abled. W.O.W members also provide counseling service to people on wheel chair to boost their confidence and morale.”
Life hasn’t been easy for Priti as well. She has experienced the problems associated with physical disability herself. But kudos to her spirit as she admits that life is as tough or good for her as it is for any normal person. The only difference is that they have to struggle harder for their existence in society and to be seen and appreciated.

“As individuals, we empathize with the challenges faced by differently-abled. And hence we choose to be responsible and improve the quality of life of people on wheels. This underlying principle motivates us to work for the cause. I see lots of talent and goodness in many differently-abled people and all we need is a good way to harness their positive energy. I wish to see such people expressing their innate talent through W.O.W.”
The two other founder-members of W.O.W – Maitri Shah and Prasad Shetty have been facing the problems related to physical disability but so strong have been their attitude that they braved all problems and are now fully involved in W.O.W activities and projects. They see W.O.W as a unique organization shaping up the future of the people on wheels.

“We envision every person with physical disability to lead a dignified and a productive life in our society. For the same our specific goals are to provide education and employment opportunities to people on wheels, to provide counseling for families of people on wheels so that they support him or her emotionally and to create awareness and sensitize the masses and society on physical disability. In order to support people on wheels in their educational pursuit, W.O.W plans to give scholarship in future.”


Priti also told us about the participation of its members in Mumbai Marathon, an event organized in December 2012 for the physically challenged people.

“The enthusiasm and the will of people of wheels to participate in a sporting event highlight a positive attitude towards life, which encouraged W.O.W to participate in Mumbai Marathon. W.O.W participated in Marathon for the first time. The response to Mumbai Marathon was excellent and overwhelming indeed. Our members emerged highly motivated after the event and have resolved to participate in higher numbers next time. W.O.W members also interacted with fellow participants on wheelchair and made friends with each other.”
Priti has always been very concerned about the rights of physically disabled population and she would like the Government of India to not only adopt U.N convention on the rights of person with disabilities but also implement it in true spirit.
It is worth mentioning that Priti has worked in corporate world with big names like TCSAccenture and Aero Pharma and holds keen interest in singing, dubbing and writing poems. She was also the playback singer for a television serial ‘Baatein raaz ki’ - aired on DD National in 2009. She is a very active person on Facebook as well.

 “W.O.W has earned a good name for itself all through word-of-mouth publicity and social media. Our whole team feels that the new technology can bring a great change in our society. Look at the good work done by Facebook and sites like Halabol. Differently-abled people are now connecting with the whole world with an open and free attitude, all thanks to the new-age media.”
Team Halabol acknowledges the efforts done by W.O.W and supports them in all their future endeavours. We would like our readers to pool in their thoughts on to how a progressive society can provide a platform for such people to share their life experiences and learn from each other. 

Source : Halabol Voices , 10th Sep 2014