Thursday, October 27, 2016

My New Amplified Telephone

Yesterday afternoon, I went to the Space Coast Center for Independent Living (SCCIL) in Rockledge to get a volume control telephone. After an intake interview, I had the opportunity to try out four phones with different features. I chose the cordless amplified Clarity Professional telephone with Caller ID (pictured below), which enables its user to turn up the volume higher than regular phones. The red parts of the phone light up when it rings. The Clarity Professional phone is one of several phones provided for free by Florida Telecommunications Relay, Inc. (FTRI); however, if its user moves out of Florida or no longer needs the phone, it must be returned. John Barone, the telecommunications specialist who showed me how the phone works, recently received the Getting Results Award from Channel 6 for his 18 years of volunteering for the SCCIL ( To find out how you can get a phone from FTRI, go to

Friday, October 21, 2016

The Accountant: A Movie Character with Autism

The main character in the recently released movie The Accountant ( starring Ben Affleck has autism. Gifted in math, Affleck's character Christian Wolff works for criminal organizations and kills people with military-style firearms. To learn more about autism, Affleck and director Gavin O'Connor met with students at Exceptional Minds (, a non-profit vocational center for young adults on the autism spectrum in Sherman Oaks, California. Laurie Stephens, director of clinical services for Education Spectrum (, an autism therapeutic center in Altadena, California, served as a liaison on The Accountant. Critics of the movie are concerned viewers will think there is a link between autism and violence. Go to for a review of The Accountant.

Ben Affleck in The Accountant

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

How to Communicate with People with Disabilities

With October being National Disability Awareness Month, this is a good time to describe how to communicate with people with disabilities. As listed on, the following are the Ten Commandments of Communicating with People with Disabilities:
  1. Speak directly rather than through a companion or sign language interpreter who may be present.
  2. Offer to shake hands when introduced. People with limited hand use or an artificial limb can usually shake hands and offering the left hand is an acceptable greeting.
  3. Always identify yourself and others who may be with you when meeting someone with a visual disability. When conversing in a group, remember to identify the person to whom you are speaking. When dining with a friend who has a visual disability, ask if you can describe what is on his or her plate.
  4. If you offer assistance, wait until the offer is accepted. Then listen or ask for instructions.
  5. Treat adults as adults. Address people with disabilities by their first names only when extending that same familiarity to all others. Never patronize people in wheelchairs by patting them on the head or shoulder.
  6. Do not lean against or hang on someone’s wheelchair. Bear in mind that people with disabilities treat their chairs as extensions of their bodies. And so do people with guide dogs and help dogs. Never distract a work animal from their job without the owner’s permission.
  7. Listen attentively when talking with people who have difficulty speaking and wait for them to finish. If necessary, ask short questions that require short answers, or a nod of the head. Never pretend to understand; instead repeat what you have understood and allow the person to respond.
  8. Place yourself at eye level when speaking with someone in a wheelchair or on crutches.
  9. Tap a person who has a hearing disability on the shoulder or wave your hand to get his or her attention. Look directly at the person and speak clearly, slowly, and expressively to establish if the person can read your lips. If so, try to face the light source and keep hands, cigarettes and food away from your mouth when speaking. If a person is wearing a hearing aid, don’t assume that they have the ability to discriminate your speaking voice. Never shout to a person. Just speak in a normal tone of voice.
  10. Relax. Don’t be embarrassed if you happen to use common expressions such as “See you later” or “Did you hear about this?” that seems to relate to a person’s disability.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Nelly Jacobs: Riding Off Into the Sunset

Since the age of nine, Nelly Jacobs of the Netherlands has had a passion for horses; at one point, she was an award-winning rider and show jumper. Now 87 years old, Jacobs was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease over 30 years ago. The Hidden Desires Project made it possible for her to ride a horse again. After seeing a horse up close and feeding it, Jacobs was lifted from her wheelchair and placed on a bed on top of two horses moving side-by-side inside a custom-built apparatus. The look of joy on her face was priceless. For more details on this story, go to

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Baby's First Wheelchair

Evelyn "Eva" Moore, a one-year-old from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, was diagnosed at four months old with a spinal tumor that caused paralysis below her arms. After eight rounds of chemotherapy, Moore was soon in remission, but she couldn't crawl or walk. So, within two days, her father built a small wheelchair with a cutting board, castor wheels, and a Bumbo chair, all for just $100. Now, Moore can keep up with other toddlers. For more details on this story (and a few cute photos), go to

Evelyn Moore
(Image obtained from