Thursday, August 26, 2010

Monet had Cataracts

I love impressionistic paintings. They are a marvel of color, textures and optical illusion! It is like painting the trees and getting the forest….How did the Masters do it? I recently found out that Monet, one of the great impressionistic painters, had cataracts and that is what made him paint the way he did. He had to get close to the canvas in order to paint. He hated his style once his cataracts got worse. He didn’t value its beauty….Thank goodness that others did. We are now lucky to have had him in the world with cataracts and we can enjoy his beautiful work.

On the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, a group of architects toured the Dallas Lighthouse for the Blind. This is an amazing facility that trains and employs visually impaired people to manufacture many items from eye glass cases, highlighters, and even military shovel carrying fanny packs. It was an “eye-opening” experience (pun intended). These people are truly incredible. They are able to use computers with a software that read them what is on the screen. But the software doesn’t read it like an audio CD that you read for fun….it speed reads. One of the trainees demonstrated the software and he had it read what was on the screen in the speed that he can understand. All I could hear was gibberish….it was reading 120 words a minute…. and he could actually understand it! INCREDIBLE!!!

There is also a software that assists in reading called J.A.W.S.  this makes the text bigger as needed.  We also saw the others at work at sewing machines, assembly lines and their individual stations where they put together all sorts of products that are sold to companies. These people are so good at what they do, that all I could do is just open my mouth and be in awe!!!

The building was also designed for the low vision people that worked there. The door frames were a contrasting color to the doors and walls so that they could “see” that there was a doorway there rather than just a wall of the same color. Their bathrooms had circular mirrors so that they would not think it was a window they were looking through. And many other items such as braille at signs, truncated domes on ramps so they can detect the change in environment, and they even use their sense of smell to move around their space.

That experience really made me think of the disability and how truly remarkable our bodies (and these wonderful people) are that they can adjust to their limitations.
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Sunday, August 1, 2010

Modernizing the ADA

This is the new Press Release from the DOJ about the "modern" changes to the ADA

WASHINGTON July 23, 2010 - The Justice Department announced today that it will publish four new Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) proposals addressing the accessibility of websites, the provision of captioning and video description in movies shown in theaters, accessible equipment and furniture, and the ability of 9-1-1 centers to take text and video calls from individuals with disabilities. The proposals are in the form of advance notices of proposed rulemaking, or ANPRMs, which provide information on these ADA issues and ask questions seeking comments and information from the public. The four ANPRMs will be published in the Federal Register on July 26, 2010.

“We are working hard to ensure that the ADA keeps up with technological advances that were unimaginable 20 years ago,” said Attorney General Holder. “Just as these quantum leaps can help all of us, they can also set us back – if regulations are not updated or compliance codes become too confusing to implement. To avoid this, the Department will soon publish four advanced notices of proposed rulemaking regarding accessibility requirements for websites, movies, equipment and furniture, and 9-1-1 call-taking technologies.”

Web Accessibility

State and local governments, businesses, educators, and other organizations covered by the ADA are increasingly using the web to provide information, goods, and services to the public. In the web accessibility ANPRM, the department presents for public comment a series of questions seeking input regarding how the department can develop a workable framework for website access that provides individuals with disabilities access to the critical information, programs, and services provided on the web, while respecting the unique characteristics of the internet and its transformative impact on everyday life.

Next Generation (NG) 9-1-1

9-1-1 centers are moving towards an Internet-enabled network to allow the general public to make a 9-1-1 “call” via voice, text, or video over the Internet and directly communicate with personnel at the centers. The NG 9-1-1 ANPRM seeks information on how the centers may be able to provide direct access to 9-1-1 for individuals with disabilities as they implement new communication technologies.

Captioning and Video Description in Movies Shown in Movie Theaters

Recent technologies have been developed to provide closed captions and video description in movies being shown at movie theaters. Movie studios have begun to produce and distribute movies with captioning and video description. However, these features are not generally made available at movie theaters. In the captioning and video description ANPRM, the department asks for suggestions regarding the kind of accessibility requirements for captioning and video description it should consider as proposed rules for public comments, particularly in light of the industry’s conversion to digital technology.

Equipment and Furniture

Full use of the nation’s built environment can only be fully achieved by the use of accessible equipment. There is now improved availability of many different types of accessible equipment and furniture, ranging from accessible medical exam tables, chairs, scales, and radiological equipment and furniture to “talking” ATMs and interactive kiosks. In the equipment and furniture ANPRM, the department poses questions and seeks comments from the public, covered entities, equipment manufacturers, advocacy and trade groups about the nature of accessibility issues and proposed solutions for making equipment and furniture accessible to persons with disabilities.