Front Page Blog

Thursday, October 29, 2015 - 13:14

By Shelia Newman, MS, President

Attend any awards ceremony and right after the person being honored thanks his or her parents, that person then thanks the people who have provided support, guidance, opportunities—that person’s mentors.  Imagine for just a minute that the person in the audience being thanked is you.  Mentoring can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your career.  Helping others is rejuvenating and for those of us who strive to have meaning in our lives, we find mentoring makes us feel useful and happier.  It’s even helped me find more creative solutions to my work problems as I ponder advice to give to my mentees.

I had informally mentored younger employees for years. After starting my own business and achieving some success, I’ve had the opportunity to mentor a young veteran and several young women who have started companies and find it rewarding to watch them achieve their goals.

My first formal mentoring experience started...

Wednesday, October 14, 2015 - 17:41

By Elizabeth Lee, AbleData Information Specialist

The white cane is universally recognized as a representative marker for blindness and low vision. But many people may not realize that for individuals who are blind or have low vision, the white cane is so much more than a navigational tool. It is a symbol of independence, integration, and triumph. This is why people across the country observe October 15th, White Cane Safety Day, as a day to celebrate just how far individuals with visual impairments have come in their pursuit for independence.

It all began in 1921, when James Biggs, an artist in Bristol, England lost his sight and decided to paint his walking stick white to make himself more visible to oncoming motorists. It wasn’t long before North America caught wind of this practice and began using the white cane to notify others that an individual is blind or visually impaired. In 1930, the first White Cane Ordinance was passed in Peoria, Illinois,...

Tuesday, September 22, 2015 - 13:01

By Stephanie Mensh, Senior Analyst

Do you know where you will live when you are 80 years old? Will your home accommodate your health and physical needs? How will you manage if you cannot drive? Will you be able to sell your house and move into affordable, accessible housing with accessible public transportation? 

Federal officials from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) foresee a housing crisis by the year 2040, when baby boomers will have aged into their 80’s, many becoming frail and mobility impaired. HUD’s Jennifer Ho, a Special Assistant to the Secretary, reported at a recent conference that a Harvard study recommended that HUD support 900,000 additional affordable, accessible housing units, which the study noted would help about one-in-three needy older Americans. However, HUD’s budget can only support a small fraction of the recommended units, and continuing federal funding shortfalls will likely result in HUD being able to serve...

Tuesday, September 8, 2015 - 09:42

By Tyler Matney, Project Manager

Most of us who work in the disability field or have a friend or family member with a disability who is seeking employment, are aware of the difficulties that people with disabilities have in getting a job. Let’s take a look at the stats.

The unemployment rate of people with disabilities in the U.S. has decreased slightly since the Great Recession – moving from a little under 12% in May 2009 to 11.2% in May 2015. That may sound like good news, and it is. But, it’s not great news. That May 2015 rate is still over twice as high as the average unemployment rate of those without disabilities. Also, between May 2014 and May 2015, the average labor force participation rate (or those in the U.S. actually seeking employment) was a mere 19.8% for workers with disabilities compared to 68.6% of those without a disability—nearly a 50% difference. That means that about 4.4 million workers with disabilities only account for about 3% percent...

Tuesday, August 25, 2015 - 09:17

By Anna Lenhart, MPH, Project Manager

As a student at Loyola University, I was l lucky enough to call New Orleans home from 2001 to 2005. During that time, I became well acquainted with the vibrancy of the city, the kindness of its residents, and the cultural, political, socioeconomic and geographic traits that make it unlike any other place in the world. Two months after I moved to Northern Virginia, Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, changing the landscape of one of America’s most beloved cities and altering the country’s understanding of natural disaster preparedness.

Hurricane Katrina claimed the lives of over 1800 people across the Gulf Coast, injuring and displacing many more. During the aftermath of the storm and recovery, it became clear that infrastructure failures and the socioeconomic, political and geographic issues associated with the city of New Orleans, compounded, if not caused, unfathomable tragedy – disproportionately affecting the most...

Monday, August 17, 2015 - 08:06

Tyler Matney, AbleData Project Manager

Parents who are gathering backpacks and supplies for the start of the school year, may want to add one more item to that back to school list—an appropriate assistive technology (AT) product. AT can help with many types of learning challenges: listening, speaking, math, organization and memory, reading and writing.

According to the latest reports from the National Center for Education Statistics, the number of children and youth receiving special education services is approximately 13 percent of all public school students. Many of these students need AT to help them better perform in school. AT can be used to help deliver instruction in the classroom and to encourage practice at home. However, according to the National Center for Technology Innovation and Center for Implementing Technology in Education (CITEd), technology is not used as much as...

Thursday, July 23, 2015 - 10:36

By Shelia Newman, MS, President

I was optimistic about the direction the field of disability was taking when the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) passed. I had spent a year arguing with my brother-in-law who belonged to an organization that was actively lobbying against the ADA. He was convinced that the ADA would be the death of the small business that employed him. Our arguments were heated and often led to me saying things such as, “We’re all only temporarily able-bodied. You should be helping to create an environment you’d want to live in if you became disabled.” I felt I had won that argument when the ADA passed and his company continued business as usual.

About 15 years ago, that brother-in-law had an accident and became disabled. Now when we are together, he smiles at me each time he can press a door button and have it stay open while he enters the building. We exchange glances when we enter a theater and there’s a place for him to sit or when a...

Thursday, July 16, 2015 - 08:25

By Betsy Tewey, Vice President

July 2015 is bookended by two celebrations of independence in America – the Fourth of July holiday and the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). At New Editions we consult on disability research and policy, we actively recruit and hire individuals with disabilities, and we promote diversity, so issues of civil rights, equal opportunity and freedom of choice are always on our minds. To observe the ADA anniversary, a group of New Editions employees reflected on the impact of the ADA in their lives. 

Overall, there was a strong sense that the ADA has been successful in promoting the civil rights of people with disabilities. However, this sense of progress was tempered by stories of uneven access and opportunity in daily activities. Here is the range of experiences and opinions our employees shared.

Community Living. Community living improvements and challenges were mentioned by many...

Tuesday, June 16, 2015 - 10:54

By Stephanie Mensh, Senior Analyst

Our lives have become dependent on instant communication. We spend every waking hour talking and texting, so it is hard to imagine a scenario in which you suddenly lose the ability to speak, write, and comprehend what you hear and read. This is called “aphasia” – the loss of language – and most often it is a result of a stroke, traumatic brain injury (TBI), or other neurological condition. Aphasia is not a well-known condition, possibly because our fast-paced, communication-driven culture does not recognize individuals who cannot speak up. Personally, I only learned about aphasia when my husband had a severe stroke resulting in significant loss of his language.

June is National Aphasia Awareness Month, an annual observance meant to build awareness around a relatively unknown condition. Approximately one million people in the United States are living with aphasia, making Aphasia more common than Parkinson’s disease, cerebral...

Friday, June 5, 2015 - 15:20

By Kristen Smith, Senior Accessibility Technician

A recent Washington Post article by Richard A. Lovett has the cautionary title “Desk jobs can be killers, literally.” Since most of America's jobs are sedentary, ergonomics is becoming a necessity. 

Ergonomics is the study of people in the workplace, with a focus on designing the workplace to best fit the employee. Ergonomics often centers on reducing repetitive motions that can lead to repetitive stress injuries (RSI), or creating a workplace to eliminate overuse of muscles and poor posture which can lead to workplace musculoskeletal disorders (WMSD). The most common RSI’s and WMSDs include: 

  • carpal tunnel, tennis elbow, and arthritis;
  • back and neck injury/pain; and
  • tears, sprains, and strains (to include joints and eyesight).

Many employees start using a workstation as is, without knowing how to properly adjust a monitor or correct a keyboard position. This...