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Sunday, 26 October 2014

Survey: 70% disabled people are uneducated

The study mentioned mobility as one of the major limitations for the visually-impaired workers to be involved in a job

Approximately 10% Bangladeshis have some form of disability, with most of them remaining illiterate and unemployed, a survey has found.

Conducted by the Physically Challenged Development Foundation (PDF), the survey titled “Census of the differently-abled: Exploring students with disabilities in the context of public universities,” also found that 70% of the disabled people were uneducated.

The survey – conducted on 160 participants from seven private institutions – found that students with disabilities had less access to health facilities, while wrong treatment during early stages of life had led to the disabilities of some of the students or had caused their conditions to deteriorate.

The survey also found that diseases had caused the disabilities of around 47% of the participating students, 37% were disabled since birth, 7% were disable because of wrong treatment and 13% because of accident.

At the university-level, the disabled students faced challenges including the lack of accessible transport system or reading materials like Braille books, and had to face troubles regarding Srutilekhok (persons who assisted the visually-impaired to write in exams). Teachers were also involved in teasing the disabled students, the survey found.

Of the participants, 94 said they were not satisfied with the quota system for the disabled people and 112 thought that girls with disabilities faced more problems than a boy. At the universities, there was also no special canteen, bathroom, or health facilities for the disabled people.

The census found that 18% of the disabled students targeted jobs under the BCS exams, 23% preferred other government jobs, 14% went for NGO jobs, 17% chose the business sector, 11% picked teaching, and 4% selected law as their professions.

The study mentioned mobility as one of the major limitations for the visually-impaired workers to be involved in a job.

Around 85% of the disabled students were motivated by their mothers, 9% by family members, 4% by teachers and 1% by others.

The survey also mentioned that female students became victims of sexual harassment and molestation on the road or in public places, as well as being teased for their disabilities.

The census also recommended special initiatives for the disabled students including providing notes and books in Braille, recruiting Srutilekhok, arranging wheelchairs and special rickshaws, introducing separate computer rooms with recorders, and providing special counselling by psychiatric and primary health caregivers.

Recommendations were also made to directly recruit the disabled people in some government jobs, to establish a Disabled Youth Leadership Training & Rehabilitation Centre, and to develop a national plan of action for students with disabilities.

Source : Dhaka Tribune , 20th Oct 2014

State Grant will Help Hawk Mountain Create New, Disability-Friendly Trail

Senator David G. Argall (R-29) announced a $188,000 grant for Hawk Mountain Sanctuary through the Commonwealth Financing Authority’s Greenways, Trails and Recreation program.

View from Hawk Mountain’s north lookout.

The project at Hawk Mountain will allow one of the region’s most popular recreational and wildlife education areas to create an ADA-compliant family-friendly trail.

“Each year, Hawk Mountain welcomes visitors from across our entire planet.  The goal is to allow more visitors to enjoy Hawk Mountain's beauty and world-class facilities for research,” Argall said. “These upgrades allow visitors with disabilities or small children to experience more of what Hawk Mountain has to offer. I give a lot of credit to the volunteers and staff, who continue to work hard to make this very special place even better.”

“This will be a transformational grant which will allow Hawk Mountain to actively reach an important segment of our population that is often overlooked and who will be able to hike with dignity on our trails and view one of Pennsylvania’s most beautiful lookouts,” said Jerry Regan, President of Hawk Mountain Sanctuary. “This grant from the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) will also be matched by a grant from the Berks County Commissioners and we plan to begin construction in the spring. We could not be more grateful and want to thank Senator Argall, Representative Knowles, Commissioner Leinbach and Scott Dunkelberger.”

“The Commonwealth Financing Authority applauds the efforts of the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary Association Board of Directors and staff to make the grandeur that is Hawk Mountain more accessible to those with young children and limited mobility,” said Scott Dunkelberger, Director of the Center for Business Financing at DCED. “This transformational project will enhance visitor's experience and result in safety improvements, increase visitation, and will connect more people with nature.”

Sen. Argall’s recent monthly television program featured highlights from the wildlife preserve’s 80th anniversary celebration and a tour of the facilities.

The funding comes from the Marcellus Legacy Fund, which is generated by the impact fee placed on Marcellus Shale gas drilling in Pennsylvania. 

Source : bctv , 22nd Oct 2014

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Study Links Autism With Industrial Chemical Air Pollutants

A recent study examined the connection between chemical air pollutants and the likelihood children will develop autism. The study looked at 217 families through six Pennsylvania counties: Beaver, Washington, Armstrong, Westmoreland, Butler, and Allegheny.
The study reveals that children who are highly exposed to two specific air pollutants—styrene and chromium—while in the womb or up to the first two years of their lives are as much as twice as likely to develop autism, when compared with children who were not exposed to these chemicals.
Obviously, then, mothers and families should avoid these chemicals, right? Well, that’s the point of the study. Styrene is a chemical compound found in plastics and paints. It is also produced during the burning of gasoline. Chromium is a heavy metal which develops as a result of steel hardening and other major industrial processes.


As you can imagine, these two chemicals make their way into the air as a result of industrial manufacturing. Thus, women and children who live in regions of high industrial manufacturing are at greater risk for autism development.
Other air pollutants have also been linked to increased autism risk in children—methylene chloride, arsenic, cyanide, and methanol—all of which can be avoided by living separate from industrial manufacturing sites.
Grant Oliphant, president of the Pennsylvania-based organization The Heinz Endowments which funded the research, responded: “This study brings us a step closer toward understanding why autism affects so many families in the Pittsburg region and nationwide, and reinforces in sobering detail that air quality matters.”
He adds, “Our aspirations for truly becoming the most livable city cannot be realized if our children’s health is threatened by dangerous levels of air toxics. Addressing this issue must remain one of our region’s top priorities.” 

Source : Dumb out , Oct 2014 

Assessment camp for CWSN in Kma Dimapur

Assessment Camp for children with Special Needs (CWSN) for inclusive education in Kohima district in the age group of 6-18 years would be held on October 28 under DMA, SSA Kohima.

Two teams for CWSN for inclusive education have been organized by SSA Nagaland with NGOs so as to provide aids and appliances to the needy children in order to give equal opportunity and to assist and support them in their studies as a fundamental right for every child to get free and compulsory education.

Chairman, village/colony/panchayat/VEC/WEC/SMB has been informed to bring the following categories of children for medical assessment camp: visual impaired-optician Nagaland, hearing impaired-star key Delhi (audiologist) and locomotor-NRRC Dimapur (prosthetist & orthotist). Time and venue schedule: For ENRC L Khel Kohima, Viswema, Chiephobozou and Sechii-Zubza October 28, 10 a.m. at EBRC L Khel, Kohima and for ENRC Tseminyu on October 28, 10 a.m. at ENRC Tseminyu. It informed parents not to bring severely not to being affected locomotor impaired children but submit photograph along with details for appliances. Those differently-able children from 6-18 years of age who require artificial limb/hand/shoes/orthotic devices should come personally to the camp for assessment. It has been informed that travelling allowance as per SSA norms would be provided.

Source : Nagaland Post , 25th Oct 2014 

SADAREM camps for differently-abled being held - Nizamabad- Telengana

The SADAREM  (Software for Assessment of Disabled Access Rehabilitation and Empowerment) camps for identification of differently-abled beneficiaries of pensions and other purposes are being held at four Area Hospitals at Bodhan, Banswada, Armoor and Kamareddy, and also at the Government Medical College-cum-Teaching Hospital here.

The differently-abled have been divided in accordance with their disability and entrusted with hospitals. Those suffering from physical disability and visual impairment need to consult doctors at Board 1 in Nizamabad, and those with physical infirmity, visual and hearing impairments and mental retardation should appear before Board 2 here.

Board 3, in Banswada, is for the physically-handicapped and visually impaired. Patients with similar conditions can also call on Board 4 at Kamareddy and Board 5 at Bodhan. Only those who have not appeared before the boards earlier should appear henceforth, Project Director of District Rural Development Agency P. Venkatesham said. Those who suffer physical and visual problems should go to Banswada, Kamareddy and Bodhan hospitals and the people suffering from all other impairments need to come to Nizamabad hospital, he said.

The camps would continue till October 31 and all patients with such problems would be examined and issued certificates.

Source : The Hindu , 24th Oct 2014 

Gadgets contest to help disabled

The Government has launched a Dragons' Den style competition to encourage British entrepreneurs to create gadgets to help disabled people.
Disabled people and their families have a spending power of more than £200 billion, but ministers say there is a "serious gap in the British market" for products pitched at them.
Ministers are launching a £400,000 competition to entice inventors into creating apps and gadgets to hep the disabled lead more independent lives - and tap into the lucrative "purple pound" market.
Budding entrepreneurs will pitch their ideas, and 25 will receive a £6,000 contract to take their concepts forward.
Mark Harper has launched a competition to create gadgets for disabled people
Mark Harper has launched a competition to create gadgets for disabled people

That will be whittled down to 10 finalists, who will each be awarded another £10,000 to develop their ideas into a prototype.
The winning inventor of the Government's Accessible Technology Prize will be announced in 2016 and will scoop a £50,000 contract to take their idea to market.
The competition aims to inspire technological innovation to assist disabled people in fields as diverse as education, the home, leisure, transport and work.
Mark Harper, Minister of State for Disabled People, said: "This is a vastly untapped multi-million pound market, which we want more business people to see the potential of. As part of our long-term economic plan, we hope the prize will spur more people on to enter the accessible technology industry and make a difference to the lives of millions of disabled people in Britain."
Severely injured by the July 7 terror bombings, Dan Biddle went on to create a smartphone app to help disabled people find accessible pubs, restaurants and hotels in London.
The businessman and wheelchair user said: "When I acquired a disability my life changed forever. But just because you're disabled, it doesn't mean you can't do things. With a little help from inventors, disabled people's lives can be transformed."
He added: "With a little ingenuity more people could be harnessing the purple pound to enhance our lives."

Source : Yahoo News-U.K , 25th Oct 2014 

An app allows deaf people to follow conversations

An international team has developed an application that allows you to record conversations on his smartphone and know in real time who said what, giving deaf the ability to participate in discussions with several partners without their having to know the sign language.

At first glance, conversations like those we share the writing on social networks or SMS, but the real innovation comes from the real-time transcription of what everyone says, even in the presence of several people.

The founders of the start-up Transcense, one American, one French, one Dutch and one Taiwanese, and all deaf students in the United States, expressed in a video presentation the difficulties of living disability in everyday life, emphasizing that only a conversation English four can be played on the lips. The microphone system was programmed with algorithms that can identify each party based on the frequency of his voice and uses a color code to easily follow the discussion in writing.

This application will be released in December (in English) and may already be précommandée priced $ 25 (about 20 euros). The team is currently raising funds on a crowdfunding site (Indiegogo) and has nearly reached its target.

There are a few weeks, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology announced that they had developed a similar application for users of Google Glass to text transcription function, but for a single source. The conversation is transcribed by applying Captioning on Glass so that the wearer of the glasses could follow written on his smartphone.

Source : SCINVENTDAILY , 24th Oct 2014 

Odisha govt to appoint 5364 contractual teachers

 The state government has decided to appoint 5,634 teachers on a contract basis in state-run high schools to meet the huge shortage of teachers. The finance department has approved the proposal on Tuesday, official sources said.

Of the sanctioned posts, 494 will be for trained matric and intermediate teachers, while the rest 5,100 posts are for trained graduate teachers. The teachers, who have qualified in the Odisha Teachers' Eligibility Test (OTET), would be appointed on contract, sources in the School and Mass Education department said.

The maximum age for the post has been fixed at 32, while the age limit for teachers belonging to Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe, Other Backward Castes, physically challenged and women categories will be relaxed in accordance with the norms.

Apart from the appointment of OTET qualified teachers, those who have not appeared in the OTET but are selected for the recruitment, would be allowed to clear the test in two years, an official release said.

There are around 36,137 vacant posts of teachers in primary schools across the state, the sources said. In September, the school and mass education department issued an advertisement for the recruitment of 16,000 sikshya sahayaks.

The government has engaged retired teachers in schools to fill the gap of posts of vacant teachers from September 2014 under the 'teachers on call programme'. "There is acute shortage of qualified teachers in government high schools which is affecting the quality of education in schools. Since recruitment of teachers takes time, we had decided to involve retired teachers in schools and pay them on per class basis," said a senior officer in the school and mass education department.

The number of posts to be filled up on contract basis in different districts include Angul-179, Baleswar-338, Bargarh-138, Bhadrak-524, Bolangir-97, Boudh-45, Cuttack-301, Deogarh-52, Dhenkanal-182, Gajapati-32, Ganjam-595, Jagatsinghpur-296, Jajpur-314, Jharsuguda-77, Kalahandi-93, Kandhamal-37, Kendrapara-362, Keonjhar-266, Khordha-414, Koraput-75, Malkangiri-16, Mayurbhanj-264, Nabarangpur-38, Nayagarh-212, Nuapada-50, Puri-262, Rayagada-62, Sambalpur-55, Sonepur-62 and Sundargarh-196.

Source : TOI , 23rd Oct 2014 

Youth raise voice against firecrackers - Bhubaneshwar

 A group of youngsters here are campaigning hard to make people aware about observing an eco-friendly Diwali, at a time when revellers tend to indulge in bursting sound crackers paying little heed to rules.

A woman lights candles ahead of Diwali in Bhubaneswar.

A group of college students under the banner of the United for Social Interests (USI) are visiting parks and market places to interact with the people and appeal to them to restrain from bursting sound crackers.

“The motive behind celebrating this festival is to have fun, but not at the cost of creating inconvenience for other people and polluting the environment. The best way to celebrate Diwali is by lighting up homes in the most innovative way and gorging on good food,” said Tarini Sahoo, a member of USI.

Another group of students of the Utkal University staged street plays, which urge the onlookers to spend time with underprivileged children and senior citizens during the festival.

Members of the Humara Bachpan that carries out campaigns to promote green Diwali organised activities such as mehendi, wall painting, outdoor rangoli, colouring and lighting of lamps among 300 poor children in the city.

“There are a number of environment-friendly ways to celebrate the festival. We should observe it in a peaceful way,” said 25-year-old Shibani Routray, a member of the group.

If Diwali is all about spreading joy, some made that effort to actually walk the talk.

Decorative items made by the poor children were a hit with the customers. Young girls of Ama Vidyalaya, a school for differently-abled children at Barang, made candles that were sent to various firecracker shops and exhibitions for sale. The candles, including the floated and scented varieties, came in various colours and designs and were priced between Rs 10 and Rs 100.

“While some candles looked like a flower, others were in geometrical forms. I found variety in the designs,” said 25-year-old Archana Maharana, a customer.

Chocolates prepared by the physically challenged children of the Open Learning Systems found many takers. The special care home had received bulk orders from individuals and corporate houses this year.

Their speciality includes choco candies of three to four kinds made from cashew, almond and other dry fruits. Packed in colourful wrappers, the chocolate boxes also made for beautiful gifts.

“I buy chocolates from them every year. Not only because they are tasty, but also it gives me immense happiness to do something to boost their confidence. It is better to buy from them than from the market,” said 36-year-old businessman Ajay Pattnaik.

The money earned through the process is used to organise vocational training for the children. 

Source : The Telegraph , 22nd Oct 2014 

The promise of dawn

P.Kalaiarasi with students at Poornodhaya Trust, in Kolakudi village near Tiruchi. Photo: R.M. Rajarathinam

P.Kalaiarasi with students at Poornodhaya Trust, in Kolakudi village near Tiruchi.

P. Kalaiarasi is determined to help the differently-abled gain self-sufficiency

“Despite our shortcomings, we will ensure a completeness to the lives of those who come to us,” says P. Kalaiarasi, the managing trustee of Poornodhaya Trust, explaining why she named her non-profit as ‘complete sunrise.’
“We need to teach the differently-abled to be self-reliant, to the extent of sustaining a livelihood; that is when their care-givers will stop seeing them as a burden,” she says. “All they need is a chance.”
Being born into a loving family is the chance that life gave Kalaiarasi. The youngest of seven children of Kolakudi village munsiff Periasamy, Kalaiarasi was afflicted by polio at the age of three.
She has undergone eight surgeries on her legs and cannot stand for more than 15 minutes, besides suffering from calcium deficiency and stunted growth. “I realised I was not normal only when I left home with my four brothers to study my sixth standard in a boarding school in Porathakudi village near Samayapuram,” she recalls. “I’d always be asked to sit in class during sports period. I could not run like the other kids. I’d always be put on the first bench – at first I’d be happy, but then as days went by I realised there was a reason why I was being made to sit there.
“Some of the kids used to call me ‘nondi’ (lame) and joke about my appearance, and that used to hurt.”
But Kalaiarasi always had her eyes trained on the bigger picture.
“I was an average student, and wanted to stop studying and stay at home after 10th Standard. But my friends advised me to learn a vocational skill. So I enrolled in a three-year course in tailoring at St. John De Britto Industrial School run by the St. Anne’s Convent in Melapudur, Tiruchi.”
Community service
The exposure to city life broadened her horizons in more ways than one. “On Sundays, I used to visit the homes of the needy along with the nuns,” says Kalaiarasi. “It motivated me to think about serving the community.”
Upon graduation in 1989, she started working as a special educator and hostel warden in the school run by Vidivelli Trust.
She was to stay there for the next 11 years, seven of them in independent accommodation to prove to her family that she could be self-sufficient despite her health challenges.
After school, she’d offer tuitions to the children from low-income families in the vicinity, and also organise knitting and basket-weaving workshops for women.
“I realised that while there were many institutions coming up for special needs children in Tiruchi, there were none for people with loco-motor disabilities like me,” she says.
Special care
Established in 2002, the Poornodhaya Trust at first functioned in rented premises in Tiruchi. “We couldn’t manage in rented buildings because landlords wouldn’t allow hostels, which are essential for those with motor disabilities,” says Kalaiarasi.
Eventually she decided to shift back permanently to Kolakudi, and build a campus on two and a half acres of land gifted to her by her family.
Today Poornodhaya has 27 differently-abled students on its rolls, 17 of who are boarders. Almost all the children, mostly from Kolakudi and nearby villages, have attended mainstream schools up to 8th Standard but still require constant monitoring, says Kalaiarasi, who also resides here.
Four staff take care of the children, putting them through a routine of speech- and physiotherapy, in addition to dance and yoga classes. The premises also has 10 sewing machines for those with loco-motor disabilities. “Though it takes a differently-abled person longer to pick up a vocational skill, our students are quite interested in tailoring,” says Kalaiarasi, who hopes to eventually procure long-term contractual work for her trainees.
Everything, including meals and medical check-ups, is provided free of cost. Kalaiarasi raised the Rs. 27 lakhs budget for the building with the help of her family, and is now in the process of putting up a compound wall on the property.
“I’m lucky to be financially independent, at the same time, many kind-hearted people have pitched in to help us,” she says.
“My mother, who died last year, was inconsolable that I had decided to forego marriage for community service, but my mind was made up long ago,” says Kalaiarasi.
Kolakudi’s remoteness is definitely a minus point for now, but she hopes to sort that out by buying a vehicle (“after the wall,” she says confidently). “We want to start a home for senior citizens with special needs, so that they can have a haven to spend their twilight years,” says Kalaiarasi.
The tendency to treat differently-abled people callously is hard to change, says Kalaiarasi. “I wish normal people would stop staring at us when we are in a public place. Parents try to hide their special needs kids and even tie them up like animals,” she rues.
On days when she feels low, she thinks of her friends who have bigger problems than her. “When my father and second elder sister passed away within hours of each other in 2012, I almost lost the will to live,” Kalaiarasi recounts, her eyes misting slightly. “But then I remembered these children, and pulled myself together.”

Source : The Hindu , 24th Oct 2014 

Govt Nod for One More Drinking Water Project - Thiruvanthapuram

The Cabinet on Thursday gave administrative sanction for a `14.5-crore  project to provide an additional drinking water source to Kollam.
It has been decided that water from the Kallada river can be used to meet the drinking water needs of Kollam as an additional source. The suggestion regarding this project came up during a recent meeting held to discuss the conservation of Sasthamkotta lake, which is currently the source of drinking water for the district.
In another decision, the government issued administrative sanction for two drinking water schemes for Kalpetta and Payyanur municipalities. The projects would be implemented through the Department of
Urban Affairs. The Kalpetta project would cost Rs 5.5 crore while the other would be of Rs 6.6 crore.
The Cabinet on Thursday decided not to collect toll on bridges built at a cost of `5 to 10 crore. The government has decided to extend the period of Housing Board’s one-time settlement scheme up to December 31, 2014. The last date of the scheme had ended on June 30, 2014. A decision has been made to give Rs 2 lakh to the MSP Higher Secondary School football team which became runners-up in the Subrato Cup International Football Tournament for boys under 17. The government also decided to clear all pending appointments under the physically handicapped quota and sports quota.
Tenure Extended
In a major decision, the government on Thursday decided to extend the period of the Justice Sivarajan Commission, probing the controversial solar scam, by six months. The decision was announced by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy at the post-Cabinet media briefing. The current tenure of the Commission will expire by October 28.
It’s the second time that the government is extending the tenure of the Commission which is looking into the Solar scam and related  financial transactions.

Source : The New Indian Express , 24th Oct 2014

Handicapped man tries to kill self - Barreilly - U.P

A 45-year-old physically handicapped man tried to set himself ablaze during Tehsil Diwas on Tuesday. He claimed that his complaints were being ignored for the past 14 years and that is what caused him to take this step. 

Ram Prakash, a resident of Tisua village under Fatehganj East, drenched himself in kerosene and was about to set himself ablaze when cops on duty arrested him on charges of breaching peace and sent him to judicial custody. 

Prakash alleges that some people tricked his father, who was illiterate, into giving 25 bigha of his land to them. After his father's death in 1997, when Prakash went to the tehsil to get the land transferred in his name, he found that it was already owned by some of his family members. He claims that he has been pursuing the matter with the tehsil office since then. 

He alleged that (chak bandi) he threatened former SDM Fareedpur Umesh Mangla of committingsuicide on which he ordered enquiry of the same. However as enquiry team didn't reach spot, accused in fist of anger returned to the tehsil and tried to set himself on fire. 

SDM Fareedpur, Prashant Verma, accepted that the victim used to visit tehsil office on regular basis but said that he never disclosed his problems to anyone. He said, "He couldn't come up with anything in spite of officials asking him about his problems. However after learning about his land disputes we tried to convince him about the judicial procedure under the UP lands revenue act which has to be followed. An enquiry was set up but he still opted to commit suicide." 

He was taken into custody by police for breaching peace and later sent to judicial custody.  

Source : TOI , 22nd Oct 2014 

82-year-old Held for Rape- Kochi

An 86-year-old man who sexually assaulted a 12-year-old mentally retarded girl the other day was  remanded in judicial custody.
 The man identified as Noorudeen was arrested by the Palluruthy police on Tuesday following complaints that he sexually assaulted the girl many times at her residence.
According to the police officials, the parents of the girl had died long ago and her elder brother too was mentally retarded.
“The incident occurred when the accused came to her house asking for water and he allegedly harassed her sexually and threatened not to reveal the incident to any one.
  “The incident came to light after the victim fell ill and sought treatment at a hospital,” the officials said.
3 Nabbed for Rape
Three men were arrested on Wednesday by the Kothamangalam police on charges of rape attempt on an Adivasi woman at Wariyam Adivasi colony at Kuttampuzha near here.
The accused were identified as Dhanoop,27, Shyam Gopi,25, and Ebin Baby,25, of Kothamangalam.
In a complaint given to the magistrate by the victim, the men allegedly tried to rape her after they offered her a lift in an autorickshaw last Friday.
The three persons were produced before the magistrate and remanded in judicial custody for 14 days.

Source : The New Indian Express , 23rd Oct 2014 

Saturday, 4 October 2014

A Gala Evening For The Differently-Abled : Trivandrum

                                       Let The World Speak

            Stage set ablaze by ‘Mantra’ and Sristi, the blind dancer

A Sunday evening when dark rain clouds were threatening to spoil the party, ‘Sahridaya’ run by a group of young brigades and ‘Jyothirgamaya’, an NGO for Blind, organised an International community sensitization program regarding the issues faced by disabled at the Shangumukham beach.

In his inaugural address chief guest Rishiraj Singh said, “There is just one doctor for every 10 lakh blind people and only 25,000 eye donations in the country every year. This is not enough and is a grave situation that needs to be dealt with. Same applies to organ donations. More donations needs to happen”. He reminded the audience about how helpful such events were for the society and appreciated the organisers.

The aim of the event was to sensitise people from all walks of life on the challenges faced by the disabled ones in different parts of the world and to create a general attitudinal change so as to help the unfortunate souls. According to Aneesh, a member of ‘Sahridaya’, “The aim is to make people, not just people of one particular place, from different places take part in this program. In fact, we chose Shangumukham because we can find all sorts of people here in large numbers.”

Many students of the ‘Kanthari’ institution talked about their projects for marginalized folks and how optimistic they were in making the world a better place to live in. Talking to Yentha, Carter from Zimbabwe, a ‘Kanthari’ student said, “All you need to do is believe, and then you can do whatever you desire. We have in us what it takes to do great deeds.”

In her inspirational message, Vimala Menon, the secretary of the Cheshire homes conveyed that these sort of initiatives has always been inspiring for her. She said that that there is no difference between both mainstream and marginalized groups. She accused the state governments, including the present one, for not taking the matter of differently-abled folks seriously.

Brahmanayakam Mahadevan, the recipient of the National Youth Awards, 2000 heaped praise on, ‘Sahridaya’ volunteers for organising such an event and their dedication in setting up the stage and lights even though there was heavy shower in the afternoon. The welcome address was delivered by Tiffany Brar, the project coordinator of ‘Jyothirgamaya’.

The evening was one big cultural fest. There were dance performances from Sristi, the blind dancer from Nepal who found the NGO ‘Blind Rocks’, Mantra Dance group and SCT college students. Bands, Wind Project, Dark Prophecy and Obscure Incarnation, and several other artists made it a memorable show.

On a wet dark evening, NGOs ‘Sahridaya’ and ‘Jyothirgamaya’ organised an International community sensitization program, LET THE WORLD SPEAK in view of the problems faced by people with disabilities.

The stage was set ablaze by the acrobatics of Mantra Dance company followed by Sristi, the blind dancer from Nepal, a musical fusion by ‘Wind Project’, bands ‘Obscure Incarnation’ and ‘Dark Prophecy’. There were two unplugged sessions by ‘Aathma’, Sahridhaya's official band and,  Samuel, a German national and Noel.

Source : Yentha , 30th Sep 2014

How an App Is Helping Young People With Autism Communicate and Grow

An app has changed the way young people with autism and developmental disabilities in Mississippi can communicate and grow.

The app—called TalkingTiles—is being used in the Mississippi Adolescent Center, which is part of the state’s Department of Mental Health. Many of the center’s patients have autism and are nonverbal, Donna Horton, director of client services for the center, said in an interview. The app is a way for the children to communicate what they want without using words, like choosing what to eat for a snack.

They can use the app to develop a range of skillsets from math and reading to learning about colors and how to recognize signs, Horton said.

“The kids fell in love with it,” Horton said, adding, “It’s only limited by the imagination of the educator.”

The center’s caregivers can use it, for example, to show patients what their schedule for a specific day would be, given that children with autism and intellectual developmental disorders do better with structure and routine, she said. Nurses can explain where they are going, and they might have a picture of a doctor’s office, for example.

Through using the app, there has been a reduction in children who are misbehaving, Horton said. Kids don’t have to behave poorly to have their needs met.

“I mean, the really cool thing about TalkingTiles with my population is we’ve seen a decrease in the maladaptive behaviors,” she said.

The app operates on Microsoft Dynamics CRM and is a Caretiles application from CoCENTRIX, a company that works to find solutions for the health and human services community.

The tiles surface as different pages in the app, said Bill Keyes, senior vice president of marketing and sales for CoCENTRIX. They could be videos, pictures or words and patients can use them to communicate.
The idea is to engage patients with apps that tie into their specific care plan and let’s them engage in their recovery process, Keyes said. It is also individually designed for different types of patients, he said, in order to cater to their needs. Keyes said it’s comparable to Windows 8, but with tiles.

Mississippi is getting ready to expand the app’s reach statewide and plans to implement it with the Department of Mental Health’s ALS and Alzheimer’s unit later this year. With ALS, Horton said, a person’s ability to speak decreases over time. With the app, there are hopes that more people could use it to help them communicate.

A patient’s progress is also tracked so that a patient’s group of caregivers can see their progress and determine the next step, Keyes said.

Another goal of the app is that states can save money on long-term residential care for patients which can be costly. Patients are also given the chance to become more independent.

The tablets that patients can use to access the app are provided by the center, Horton said. The state pays for an annual license for the app, she said, but for patients wishing to continue using the app after the program, there is no cost for the first three months, and after that, the cost is low.

“It’s a program that these individuals can finally have a voice and a say and a choice in their own life,” Horton said. “And it’s limited only by your own imagination.”

Allison Prang
is a journalist based in Columbia, Missouri. She has written for The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg News and The Kansas City Star, among other news outlets. Follow her on Twitter at @AllisonPrang.

Source : GOVEXEC , 1st Oct 2014

Kids With Autism Tend to Be Less Active, Study Says

Children with autism are more sedentary than those without the disorder, but they're fully capable of being more active, a small study suggests.

Kids With Autism Tend to Be Less Active, Study Says
Researchers tested the fitness and activity levels of 29 children, some with autism and some without. Children with autism averaged 50 fewer minutes per day of moderate physical activity and 70 more minutes each day sitting than those without autism.

The 17 children with autism scored lower on strength, but had similar body-mass index (a measurement of body fat based on height and weight) scores, and aerobic fitness and flexibility levels, as the 12 without autism.

"These kids, compared to their peers, are similarly fit. That's really exciting, because it means those underlying fitness abilities are there," study author Megan MacDonald, an assistant professor at Oregon State University, said in a university news release.

"That's really important for parents and teachers to understand, because it opens the door for them to participate in so many activities," she added.

The study was published recently in the journal Autism Research and Treatment.

Further research is required to find out why children with autism, a brain-based disorder, tend to be more inactive, said MacDonald. She suggested it may be because they're less likely to be involved in organized sports or physical education activities.

"They can do it. Those abilities are there. We need to work with them to give them opportunities," she said.

For example, she said, parents of children with autism should make physical activity -- such as a daily walk or visit to the park -- part of the family's routine.

"Physical fitness and physical activity are so important for living a healthy life, and we learn those behaviors as children. Anything we can do to help encourage children with autism to be more active is beneficial," MacDonald said.

One out of 68 children in the United States is thought to have an autism spectrum disorder. The main characteristics are impaired communication and social skills and repetitive behaviors.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more about autism.

Source : Health Day , 1st Oct 2014

5-Year-Old Girl with Autism Creates Stunning Paintings Beyond Her Years

A 5-year-old diagnosed with autism has emerged as a remarkably talented artist, creating beautiful paintings decades ahead of her time.

Source: ABC News

Source: ABC News

Source: ABC News

Source: ABC News

Iris Grace of Leicestershire, U.K. was diagnosed with autism in 2011, a neurodevelopment condition known for impairing social interaction. While most diagnosed with autism are capable of completing most normal tasks and chores, they may become withdrawn or indifferent to social engagement.

Iris was first introduced to painting as part of her speech therapy. At the time, Iris had never spoken a word. As her parents, Arabella Carter-Johnson and Peter-Jon Halmshaw, encouraged Iris to paint to help her concentrate, they were astounded to witness an incredible talent and style that they "never seen in a child of her age."

While Iris' method of painting is unique, she is a consummate artist, her artworks taking weeks and months before completion. Many commenters liken her paintings to those of Monet and other impressionists.

Back in 2013, Iris became the subject of national headlines when her parents shared her artwork with the world as a means to raise awareness of her condition and to inspire other parents of autistic children. Since then, and after much intensive therapy, Iris has finally begun to speak.

"Eye contact was a rare occurrence, she didn't want to or know how to play with us, showed obsessive behaviors, got desperately distressed when we took her near any other children and her sleep patterns were all over the place," wrote Iris' mother, Arabella.

Through her painting therapy, Iris has developed an incredible concentration span of about two hours each time she paints, and vastly improved her social skills.

"She now rides on my back in fits of laughter, squealing with delight, plays, communicates by creating her own signs, a few small words and her sleeping is much better," wrote Arabella.

Iris' paintings have sold to private art collectors in the U.K. and throughout Europe, the U.S., South America and Asia. Her Facebook page has over 85,000 likes and continues to be an inspiration.

Iris' original paintings are sold at auction, and gifts items of her paintings are available online. All profits made from these sales go on to fund Iris' art materials and her private therapists.

"We still have a long way to go with her social skills and speech, but we are having many more 'good days,'" wrote Arabella.

Autism affects around 100,000 children in the U.K., and 1 in 68 children in the U.S. are diagnosed with autism. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, the prevalence of autism diagnoses has increased 123% between 2002 and 2012.

Source : ABC News , Oct 2014

iPad Helps First Coast Girl With Autism Speak Out

“Hi. Thank you for releasing my voice.”

These were the first words typed onto an iPad by Lanier Weed, a 16-year old girl living with autism.

Lanier has been limited to communicating basic needs and wants using simple signs for her entire life. Now, with the help of a tutor, she can type messages to her parents.

Her mother, Leslie Weed, founded the HEAL Foundation, which works to help families of autistic children all over Northeast Florida. HEAL is on a mission to put iPads in all ESE classes in the area.

“With Lanier’s story, we see how much of an impact this can have on a child,” said Patty Crosby, HEAL Foundation’s President.  “It’s opening up a whole world to them. Especially the children who are non-verbal, you know, that just can’t communicate.”

HEAL stands for Healing Every Autistic Child, and Crosby said they are helping in any way that they can.

"We do so much. We help many local programs, we help schools, we help with different kinds of therapies, there’s surf camp,” Crosby said. “Anyway that we can help a family who has a child with autism because there’s so much support that’s needed.”

HEAL holds their annual Chopper Ball Drop, Bash, and Charity Golf Classic this week. The main event includes a helicopter dropping hundreds of golf balls on the practice green behind The Player’s Championship Clubhouse. Each ball has been purchased for a donation of 50 dollars to the charity, and cash prizes will be given to the balls closest to (or inside of) the hole.

Proceeds from the event will go to the charity to help more children with autism. For more information, visit the HEAL Foundation at

You can follow Annie Black on Twitter @helloannieblack

Source : WJCT News , 2nd Oct 2014

Boy's triumph over autism inspires new film


Actress writes movie that draws on her onetime mentoring relationship with San Marcos college student


"Life Inside Out" co-producers Ken and Julian Kalb with screenwriter and star Maggie Baird at the film's screening at the Hollywood Film Festival. The film was partly inspired by Baird's work with Julian as a child to help him overcome an autism-related communication disorder through arts therapy.

"Life Inside Out" co-producers Ken and Julian Kalb with screenwriter and star Maggie Baird at the film's screening at the Hollywood Film Festival. The film was partly inspired by Baird's work with Julian as a child to help him overcome an autism-related communication disorder through arts therapy. — Maggie Baird

When he was a toddler, Cal State San Marcos freshman Julian Kalb overcame an autism-related communication disorder with the help of L.A. actress Maggie Baird. Fifteen years later, he’s returning the favor as executive producer for Baird’s new film — a drama inspired by their long-ago mentoring relationship.

Baird co-wrote and stars in “Life Inside Out,” the story of a mother who helps her socially awkward son find himself through music. Baird produced the low-budget, independent film — which opens a weeklong run Oct. 17 at the UltraStar Cinema Mission Valley — with the financial support of family and friends, including Julian, 20, of San Marcos, and his father, Ken Kalb, of Rancho Santa Fe.

“When Maggie started working with Julian, she was his helper and now, flash-forward 15 years, and he can help his teacher make her dream come true,” said Kalb, a film buff and entrepreneur who has started several software and telecommunications companies. He said he and his son cashed in some of their Apple stock to invest in Baird’s movie.

The title, “Life Inside Out,” comes from a song lyric in the film about discovering your inner self, something experienced in life by Julian and on film by the fictional teen son.

“It’s about living your life authentically and being seen for who you really are,” Baird said. “In the film, the mother is dealing with a child who has not found his thing until music clicks for him, and Julian was definitely an inspiration for that.”

The Kalbs first met Baird in the late 1990s, when they lived on the same block in the L.A. neighborhood of Los Feliz. At the time, Baird was a member of L.A.’s comedy improv group The Groundlings. Kalb asked her if she could do some improv and theater exercises with Julian to help him better express his feelings. Beginning at age 2, Julian could only speak by parroting lines from cartoons and movies and he was unable to carry on a conversation, Kalb said.

Baird said she had no training as a therapist, but she decided to improvise when she first sat down with Julian. When he started talking to her with scripted lines he’d memorized from a Charlie Brown television special, she responded to him as Charlie Brown’s arch-nemesis, Lucy.

“I saw a light go on in his eyes when he saw that I was buying into it and we had long conversations as those characters,” she said. “Gradually over time, I expanded the dialogue so he learned the natural give and take of conversation.”

Baird worked with Julian for two years until the Kalbs moved to Solana Beach. With his newfound love for theater, Julian went on to perform in more than a dozen youth-cast musicals with J*Company in La Jolla. The Torrey Pines High School graduate now lives on campus at Cal State San Marcos, where he’s majoring in visual and performing arts.

“When I get onstage, I don’t feel very nervous at all,” he said. “It’s fun creating a character. I would like to work behind the scenes in the film industry as an executive producer and maybe work as a voice artist.”
Baird stayed in touch with the Kalbs over the years, and said she’s been impressed by how Julian has blossomed.

“He’s funny and charming and is still an amazing mimic,” she said.

Baird began writing the “Life Inside Out” screenplay in 2012 with her friend and fellow singer/comedian Lori Nasso. It’s the dual story of a mother of three who rediscovers her love of music at an open-mic night, and her social outcast son Shane, who finds his own musical voice along the way. She co-stars in the movie with her real-life son, 17-year-old Finneas O’Connell, an actor and singer who fronts the L.A. band The Slightlys.

Since its release on the festival circuit earlier this year, “Life Inside Out” has won 10 awards, picked up a distributor and is opening this month in several cities around the country.

“I’ve been delighted at how well it’s been received,” Baird said. “Audiences have responded so positively. Men and women have come up to me and said over and over ‘this is my story.’ ”

Kalb said that when he and Julian agreed to invest in the movie, they did it out of gratitude and friendship, not expecting it would become a festival hit.

“It’s been a remarkable experience and such a nice surprise,” he said. “We gave Maggie the money because we love her and she’s a life force, not because we expected it to become wildly successful. We’re just happy to be a part of it.”

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Source : U T San Diego , 2nd Oct 2014

AP CM N Chandrababu Naidu for "pooling" system to procure land for new capital

Andhra Pradesh government will procure land from farmers for setting up new capital city in Vijayawada region through "land pooling" but will also keep the acquisition route open, Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu said here today.

"The land for construction of new capital would be taken from farmers under land pooling in which farmers will have a share after the development (of capital) instead of compensation. Land pooling would be beneficial for farmers and the government would take up an awareness campaign for the same," Naidu said here.
He was addressing reporters after launching the 'Swachh Bharat' (cleanliness drive) and four other programmes.

Naidu also said that if farmers do not come forward to accept land pooling, the government would go for the land acquisition process.

"In that case (acquisition), the state government will compensate farmers for their land by paying them at four-time the prevailing market rate," he said, adding that the process of setting up infrastructure for the new capital between Vijayawada and Guntur cities will commence very soon.

He said that his government has actively taken up the issues like waste management, sewerage water treatment and traffic congestion in these two cities considering that a large number of people are expected to migrate there.

Naidu later inaugurated 'Janma Bhoomi' programme which is aimed at settling local issues with active participation of the people concerned and government officials.

Other schemes he launched today are 'Neeru Chettu' (water tree) aimed to create awareness on the proper usage of water and planting saplings in every household and institution in the state, 'NTR Sujal Sravanthi' under which 20 litres of drinking water will be supplied to people for Rs 2.

Naidu also introduced 'enhanced public pension scheme' for senior citizens, widows and physically handicapped.

Under the scheme, the pension amount is raised to Rs 1000 a month from Rs 200 for senior citizens and for physically handicapped from Rs 500 to Rs 1500 per month.

Meanwhile, Naidu has extended his greetings to people on the eve of 'Vijaya Dashmi' festival. "I wish that people of Andhra Pradesh enjoy a happy and prosperous life," he said.

Source : Economic Times , 2nd Oct 2014

Andhra Pradesh will be a 'golden' State in five years: Nirmala Sitharaman

Andhra Pradesh will be turned into a "golden" state under the TDP-BJP government over the next five years, Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Nirmala Sitharaman said today.

TDP and BJP would transform the State into 'Swarna Andhra Pradesh' in the next five years by ensuring all-round growth, she said.

Sitharaman, a Rajya Sabha member from Andhra Pradesh, was speaking at a public meeting organised by State Government to announce enhanced pensions for senior citizens, widows and physically handicapped which came into effect from today.

She said the NDA Government at the Centre would provide full support to Andhra Pradesh to achieve rapid growth on all fronts.

The Centre will also look after the financial needs of the State so that it is able to fund development and welfare programmes, said Sitharaman, who also handles Finance and Corporate Affairs portfolios in MoS capacity.

Later, addressing a press meet, she said a revenue deficit of Rs 15,200 crore, faced by Andhra Pradesh after its bifurcation, will be fully met by the Union Government.

The residuary State will also get all benefits envisaged under the special category status which has been accorded to it, the Minister said.

Source : The Economic Times , 2nd Oct 2014

New smartphone app developed for deaf people

A new smartphone app has been developed to empower deaf people to “hear” through light when a phone is ringing, and then to have a conversation via a sign language interpreter.

All 500 million of Apple's iTunes customers received a free copy of U2's new album

New app developed to empower deaf people to 'hear'

The Convo Lights app works with Philips Hue, the Wi-Fi enabled light bulbs which can be made to change colour or turn off and on via a smartphone app. Hue is largely designed for aesthetics but Convo has given it new abilities by flashing the lights or displaying certain colours when an incoming phone call is detected.

This means that deaf people can catch phone calls that they would otherwise have missed.

Since the launch of Philips Hue last year third-party developers worldwide have created nearly 200 complimentary apps.

The new app from Convo, a deaf-owned and operated company providing video phone and translation services to the deaf community, allows users to create personalised ringtones of light to identify incoming callers, and adjust the brightness in a room to make sign language easier to see onscreen.

Source : Independent Via Telegraph , 1st Oct 2014