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FOR THE BLIND
AND PHYSICALLY
HANDICAPPED
 
A Florida Not-For-Profit

501(c)(3) Corporation (Fla. Reg. No. CH13339)

19333 West Country Club Drive #1522

Aventura, Florida 33180

                                                                                                           

 

 

 

 

 

AUGUST, 2012                                                                    AUGUST, 2012

NEWS! NEWS! NEWS!

 

 

READ ABOUT OUR MOST RECENT

ADVOCACY ACCOMPLISHMENTS!!!

WITH YOUR CONTINUED SUPPORT
WE CONTINUE TO GROW NATIONALLY
(NATIONAL GROWTH = NATIONAL VICTORIES!!!)

 

AUGUST, 2012

 

 

THIS NEWSLETTER IS ALSO AVAILABLE ON-LINE AT:

www.adaaccessnow.org (Bobby-Approved)

 

****Please Note****

YOU MAY NOW FILL OUT OUR MEMBERSHIP FORM

DIRECTLY ONLINE AT WWW.ADAACCESSNOW.ORG

THE MEMBERSHIP FORM IS ALSO ATTACHED AT

THE BEGINNING OF THIS NEWSLETTER

 

Email:  info@adaaccessnow.org


“ACCESS NOW, INC. ®

(a Florida not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) corporation)

19333 West Country Club Drive #1522

Aventura, Florida 33180

Tel. 305-705-0059  Fax 305-792-2665

info@adaaccessnow.org                         www.adaaccessnow.org

Membership Form

****  IF POSSIBLE, WE PREFER THAT YOU REGISTER ONLINE  ****

****  JUST GO TO OUR WEBSITE SHOWN ABOVE AND CLICK ON  **** “MEMBERSHIP” LINK ****

Date __________________________________________________________

Name (PLEASE PRINT) _____________________________________________

Address ________________________________________________________

City ________________________ State ___________ Zip Code ___________

Telephone _________________________ Fax _________________________

e-mail ___________________________________________

***(STRONGLY ENCOURAGED – VERY HELPFUL!!!!!!)***

Non-Disabled _____________ Disabled ________________

If Disabled, give brief description:

(MOBILITY – WHEELCHAIR-USER, PART/FULLTIME; VISION; HEARING)

 

 

Do you use a service dog? ________ Name ____________________________

If Disabled, INTERESTED IN LEARNING MORE about being a PLAINTIFF?

YES ______ NO _______

Donation___________           (APPRECIATED BUT NOT REQUIRED)

Please send me: __#__________Newsletters 

Please tell us how or from whom you heard about “Access Now”® (if from the internet, please tell us the site):

 

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I BELIEVE THAT

MANY OF THESE

NAMES MIGHT BE

FAMILIAR TO YOU.

IN FACT YOU MIGHT

EVEN SEE YOUR OWN -

OR THAT OF SOMEONE

YOU KNOW!

 

 


 

 

August, 2012

 

Dear Reader:

July of 2012 marked the 22nd anniversary of the passing into law of the Americans with Disabilities Act, “the A.D.A”.  It is still difficult to believe and sad to contemplate that, even after all this time, we still receive pleas daily from people who are being denied their rights under this civil rights law.  We hope that, once again, you will enjoy reading our latest newsletter and that you would like to join us in our mission, our goal and our achievements.  (THERE IS NO FEE REQUIRED.  HOWEVER, TAX DEDUCTIBLE DONATIONS WILL BE MOST GRATEFULLY ACCEPTED.)  Also, please let us remind you that our membership is open to both the able-bodied as well as to the disabled.

If you would like to become one among our growing list of members, please either fill out, SIGN and return the attached form to us or, preferably, you may fill out the form online by logging on to our website at www.adaaccessnow.org and going to the “Membership” link.  (The latter method makes it much easier and quicker for us to enter you into our database and is therefore particularly helpful.) 

IF YOU ARE ALREADY A MEMBER, PLEASE SHARE THE ENCLOSED MEMBERSHIP FORM WITH SOMEONE YOU KNOW!!!  THANK YOU!

We are very proud of the strides we have made and we hope that we can count on you as one of our members and, in an abundance of optimism, we thank you in advance!

Most sincerely,

 

Access Now, Inc.®

Phyllis F. Resnick, President

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NEWSLETTER UPDATE – AUGUST, 2012

FROM PHYLLIS F. RESNICK, PRESIDENT

 

HELLO AGAIN, EVERYBODY! 

 

EULOGY FOR OUR BELOVED TREASURER ESTELLE P. MICHELSON

When my late husband, Edward Resnick, founded Access Now®, among the very first people to respond with enthusiastic and dedicated support were our dear longtime friends, Bernard and Estelle Michelson.  Bernie became one of the founding members of our esteemed Board of Directors and Estelle joined the founding members of our highly valued Executive Committee.  Subsequently, when another of our dear Executive Committee members, Micky Speijers, who had served for many years as our volunteer Treasurer, could no longer serve in that capacity (although she continues to this  day as one of the Directors on our Executive Committee) Estelle stepped in immediately to fill that position.  Estelle served in that capacity for quite some time and then, no longer able to do so, remained as one of our valued Executive Committee Directors until her recent death.

Estelle's support of our work was only one of the many stellar contributions which she made to help make this a better world!  She was truly a "Woman of Valor", possessed of the finest attributes any person could possibly have.  A woman of treasured memory, she will be sorely missed by all who knew her, worked with her, played with her and loved her.  After a life truly well lived, she has surely earned her rest and may she enjoy it in blessed peace.

 

 

Access Now® Attorney Miguel de la O elected to the Florida bench

It is with great pride and joy that I announce the election of long-time Access Now® attorney Miguel de la O as a judge of the Florida Circuit Court.  The Circuit Court is the chief trial court in Florida, handling felony criminal cases and the most substantial civil cases.  Mr. de la O won his election in April 2012, and he will begin his judicial term in January 2013.

Miguel de la O has served as one of the highly esteemed and valued attorneys working with Access Now from our very beginnings!  His brilliance and his dedication have been immeasurable to our cause and our mission and we shall remain eternally grateful to him.  Now we are immensely proud and thrilled to see him as a newly elected member of the Circuit Court, where we know that his outstanding talents as an attorney and as a HUMAN BEING will prove to be invaluable as a member of the Judiciary!  We wish him great success in this new chapter of his life and we know that those who appear before him will receive the dispensation of the finest jurisprudence possible.  Our entire community will be the beneficiary!

AND NOW . . . THE UPDATE:

Membership – We now have 901 members representing 47 states and Puerto Rico.  We are also proud to claim members in Canada, Hong Kong, Australia and Pakistan. 

A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF OUR LITIGATION:

Since our September Newsletter, Access Now, Inc.® has made progress in settling cases.  We have filed a total of 979 cases since our inception.  Presently, there are 147 cases with outstanding Settlement Agreements, requiring alterations or modifications which in several cases should be completed by August 15, 2012, or later.  (Cases involving hospitals and other large or complex facilities have post-settlement compliance completion dates much further in the future.)

During the past five months, Access Now® has entered into 4 additional settlements to make properties A.D.A.-compliant.  They include:

Government                                         1

Medical Centers                                  1

Restaurants                                         1

Shopping Centers                              1

Access Now® continues to assert itself nationally in scope.  The 4 settlements are in Alabama, Florida and Tennessee.

We will keep expanding our geographical presence as best we can as we continue to receive requests for information and assistance from around the country and internationally.  Please notify us if you become aware of situations where access continues to be denied.  We remain solidly in the forefront of the fight for accessibility.

The following is a brief listing of the cases that have been settled since our last newsletter:

Government

Knox County                                                                     Knoxville, TN

Shopping Centers

Murdock Plaza                                                                 Port Charlotte, FL

Medical Centers

Port Charlotte Medical Pavilion                                        Port Charlotte, FL

Restaurants

Pizza Hut                                                                            Irondale, AL

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NOTABLE CASES – There are some cases that are especially important because of their value as precedents or because they remove significant numbers or types of barriers.  Several of those types of cases are listed below.  Please remember that most defendants in non-class action cases insist on confidentiality as a condition of signing settlement agreements.  Therefore, we cannot discuss those cases by name, although they number quite a few.  However, several of them are included in the cases listed above. 

1.             Knox County, Tennessee This March 2012 settlement provides for the upgrading of five county parks and the City-County Government Building in Knoxville, Tennessee to remove architectural barriers that violate the ADA.  The renovations will include ADA-compliant parking, accessible routes both indoors and outdoors and accessible toilets at all venues.  The renovations are to be completed by October of this year.  Our attorney Ed Zwilling did a great job in fighting to make these facilities accessible to all of the members of the Knoxville community.

2.             Murdock Plaza – The case was settled in March 2012, and the implementation of the agreement was completed in June.  Our attorney, Charles Ferguson, did a great job in expeditiously moving this settlement to completion.

3.             Port Charlotte Medical Pavilion – This case was settled in May of this year.  Attorney Charles Ferguson once again succeeded in getting ADA architectural barriers removed in the settlement agreement.  All remedial measures to remove the barriers are to be completed within 180 days of the agreement’s final approval by the court.

4.             Pizza Hut – This is a settlement that provides increased access to this establishment.  Although it is a single restaurant, the settlement will make life easier for disabled patrons.  This is our mission.

 

NON-ACCESS NOW® LEGAL MATTERS: As usual, we want to keep you informed about important recent litigation around the country affecting the rights of the disabled.  We think it is important for our members to keep abreast of successes realized by and within the disabled community, whether accomplished by Access Now® or by other organizations.  We are all in this fight together! 

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This is a great result by a Florida activist who demands that the State of Florida comply with the ADA.

Florida Capitol Complex to be ADA-Compliant Following Legal Settlement

TALLAHASSEE, Fla., Feb 23, 2012 (© BUSINESS WIRE 2012) -- The State of Florida Capitol Complex will soon be ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant following a settlement between an accessibility advocate and the Florida Department of Management Services. Denny Wood, president of the Florida Paraplegic Association, filed suit against the State of Florida last year seeking to address non-compliance with ADA accessibility requirements in various facilities, including the Capitol Complex which houses the state legislature, the executive offices of the governor and other state agencies. Examples of non-compliance include improperly designed restroom facilities and access ramps.

After mediation and extensive settlement discussions, Wood recently agreed with the Florida Department of Management Services (DMS) on the following actions:

Š       DMS will expend $1,178,577 in the current fiscal year to implement accessibility improvements to the state Capitol Complex and approximately 60 buildings under DMS management.

Š       DMS will complete ADA surveys in the 60 buildings it manages by October 30, 2012.

Š       By May of 2013, DMS will complete ADA Section 504 Transition Plans for each of the 60 buildings.

Š       DMS will survey the remaining buildings under its management for ADA compliance by July of 2013.

Š       After the surveys are completed, Section 504 Transition Plans will be completed for the remaining buildings by March 2014.

Š       DMS will request initiation and completion of ADA surveys and transition plans from other agencies under the governor's directions by approximately May 7, 2012.

Š       DMS will make a good faith effort to adhere to the Florida Capitol Accessibility Study, which describes substantial construction needed to bring the Capitol Complex into compliance with ADA requirements. Furthermore, DMS will request $1 million per year for ADA repairs to be made pursuant to the Florida Capitol Accessibility Study.

Š       DMS through its leasing bureau by approximately August 7, 2012 will contact all state agency leasing coordinators advising them to include leasing specifications to require strict compliance with the ADA.

Š       Further, DMS will require ADA compliance in any master lease it manages in the future.

Mr. Wood was represented by Thomas M. David, a Homestead, Florida-based attorney.

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Steve Gold’s “Treasured Nuggets of Information”

Once again we find Steve Gold’s analysis illuminating.  We strongly suggest that you take the time to view his website at http://www.stevegoldada.com.  A good example is his article “Considerations Regarding Managed Care, People with Disabilities and 1115 Waivers” - Information Bulletin #352 (2/2012).  It discusses Medicaid managed care for people with disabilities.  While acknowledging that “many advocates are vehemently against managed care for people with disabilities,” Mr. Gold presents his analysis and recommendations in light of the fact that “since 23 states have [stated their intent to implement managed care plans in 2012 or 2013], we think there should be some public dialogue.”  The full article is at Mr. Gold’s website.  

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ANOTHER ARTICLE BY MR. GOLD, “Mortgage Foreclosures and People with Disabilities” - Information Bulletin #356 (4/2012), posits an innovative solution arising from the foreclosure calamity.  We present the article in full.
On Sunday, April 22, 2012, Secretary of HUD Shaun Donovan met with several hundred ADAPT members in Washington, D.C.  During a lively question and answer period, one suggestion particularly raised our interest, and we wanted to share it.  This suggestion to Secretary Donovan came via ADAPT member Eleanor Smith, founder of Concrete Change.
Several million families have lost their homes to mortgage foreclosures in the past few years.  Many of these foreclosed homes stand vacant.  These homes are owned by HUD, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and/or many, many banks.  Here is a suggestion that could have a direct impact on people with disabilities who need accessible housing.  HUD, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Banks which hold these foreclosed homes should:
1.    Identify (and publicize) which of these homes have a "no step" entrance and/or a one-step entrance.
2.    Prioritize these homes, using the no step properties before the one-step units.
3.    Identify those foreclosed homes which also have a bathroom where the door entrance could be widened to 32" without moving a wall.  Those identified properties are the easiest and cheapest to make minimally accessible.
4.    Require that this basic access be built into the resale of each foreclosed home.
5.    Those identified properties should be advertised to people (and families) with disabilities who need accessible homes.
6.    Funds for both making these units accessible and for purchasing them exist in your local and state-wide HOME Investment Partnership program and the Community Development Block Grant program and probably other programs.
7.    Tax credits (banks always like those) and tax deductions are available to meet accessibility costs.
If your community has addressed this issue, please send us information to mailbox stevegoldada1@gmail.com.
Steve Gold, The Disability Odyssey continues.

 

GOVERNMENTAL NEWS

Revised ADA Regulations Implementing Title II and Title III

On Thursday, March 15, 2012, Attorney General Eric Holder signed a final rule extending the date for compliance with sections 242 and 1009 of the 2010 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Standards for Accessible Design relating to the provision of accessible entry and exit for existing swimming pools, wading pools, and spas for a period of 60 days after the publication of the rule in the Federal Register.  On that same day, the Attorney General also signed a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) seeking public comment on whether a longer period of time would be appropriate to allow pool owners and operators to meet their compliance obligations.  Specifically, the NPRM proposes a 180-day extension of the deadline.  Comments on the NPRM will be accepted for 15 days after publication in the Federal Register.

See the comments below regarding this unnecessary federal foot dragging.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

“Denny,

They are considering (an additional) 180 days after this current 60 (days).

. . .  The Department of Justice is seeking input from the public regarding reasons for either reinstating the requirement after 60 days, or, extending the extension even longer because of public outcry from businesses that they can comply so quickly.  I already made a comment simply stating I'm a quadriplegic for 38 years, serve as a consultant regarding ADA compliance and accepted as an expert by 14 federal judges.  I have a pool lift myself and am able to use it independently for exercise, health and enjoyment.  The expense was less than $1500 to install.  Public entities can do the same and obtain a tax credit or tax deduction to create an inclusive facility for everyone including the disabled.  They can accomplish this inclusive setting and capital improvement at essentially no expense with the tax deduction and tax credit.”

BRENNAN CONSULTING INC.

Michael Brennan M.A.

ADA Consultant

7955 Biscayne Point Circle

Miami Beach, Florida 33141

 

EEOC Sues Vitas Healthcare for Disability Discrimination

By The HR Specialist: Florida Employment Law, Business Management Daily

March 10, 2012

The EEOC has filed suit against Miami-based Vitas Healthcare alleging it violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) when it made a disabled employee compete for a vacant position.  The case raises a critical question that could carry it all the way to the Supreme Court.

Eveline Chery’s job required her to drive to various locations, which aggravated her hypertension.  She asked to be reassigned to a vacant position without so much driving. Vitas agreed to allow Chery to compete with other applicants for the position, but said it would not give her preference for the opening.  The EEOC’s lawsuit claims that this is illegal disability discrimination.

The case mirrors Huber v. Wal-Mart, a case that was settled privately before the Supreme Court could decide it.  In that case, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that employers may allow competition for open positions when a disabled employee is involved without violating the ADA.  But other federal appeals courts have ruled that employers in this situation must place the disabled employee in the open position.  Because the Huber case was settled, the Supreme Court never resolved the split.  The 11th Circuit—which covers Florida—has never addressed the issue.

In a statement on the lawsuit, the EEOC said the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA) of 2008 requires employers to accommodate employees by reassigning them to open positions.  However, documents on EEOC’s web site state that the ADAAA made no changes to the accommodation process other than stating that employees who were merely “regarded as” disabled are not entitled to accommodation.  This could be the case that ultimately goes to the Supreme Court.  We will keep you apprised of the progress of this case.

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EEOC Sues AT&T for Disability Discrimination

INDIANAPOLIS (March 29, 2012) -- The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today filed suit against AT&T Corp., a leader in telecommunication services, for failing to reasonably accommodate a long-term employee’s disability and then firing her because of that disability.  According to the EEOC’s suit, Lupe Cardona, who worked for AT&T Corp. as a customer service representative in Indianapolis from 1984, requested a reasonable accommodation in the form of a finite leave of absence in order to receive interferon treatment for Hepatitis C.  Without the treatment, her disease could have eventually been fatal.

Upon learning of Cardona’s disability and need for a leave of absence, AT&T granted her leave request from June 24 to Oct. 24, 2010, when her physician determined the treatment was successful and released her to return to work without restriction.  Two days later, AT&T fired her, claiming her use of approved leave to receive life-saving treatment violated its attendance policy.  AT&T refused to provide Cardona a reasonable accommodation by exempting her leave of absence from its no-fault attendance policy.

The EEOC claims that such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  The EEOC filed its lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana (EEOC v. AT&T Corp., Civil Case No.: 1:12-cv-0402-TWP-DKL) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.  The EEOC’s lawsuit seeks back pay, compensatory and punitive damages and reinstatement or front pay for Cardona as well as injunctive relief, including a court order prohibiting AT&T from failing to provide reasonable accommodation to disabled employees by counting absences caused by their disability as “chargeable,” or unprotected, absences under its attendance policy.

“The refusal of AT&T to make a perfectly reasonable exception to its draconian attendance policy to accommodate the known disability of an employee violated federal law as well as common sense and common decency,” said EEOC trial attorney Patrick Holman.  Barbara A. Seely, regional attorney of the EEOC’s St. Louis District Office, added, “This employer’s conduct is precisely what Congress had in mind when enacting the ADA.  The very essence of reasonable accommodation is making exceptions to hard-and-fast rules in circumstances like this when to do so causes no undue hardship to the employer – and failing to do so might cause grave harm.  AT&T’s actions here were not only baffling, but downright cruel.”

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OTHER NEWS

United Spinal’s Tobin Calls Access to Technology Critical to Wheelchair Users’ Independence at CELA

United Spinal Association’s president and CEO Paul J. Tobin gave an impassioned keynote speech during the 2012 CELA Conference in Arlington, Virginia on April 17-19 – a gathering of wheelchair consumers, suppliers, manufacturers and clinicians who advocate for people with disabilities to have access to proper mobility equipment.  Tobin's message resonated with CELA attendees:  “People with disabilities have a voice, and we intend to use it.”

Tobin, a wheelchair user and Navy veteran, captivated attendees with an insightful, historic overview of how empowered wheelchair users and other Americans with disabilities have shattered numerous barriers to equal rights and inclusion – and that their future participation in dialogue on sociopolitical reform must be protected.  “People with disabilities succeed when we speak for ourselves,” Tobin asserted as he engaged hundreds of stakeholders from the complex rehab technology industry that filled the room.

Tobin emphasized that in order for people with disabilities to participate in reform, it’s essential that they have access to this type of technology.  Complex rehab technology includes manual and power wheelchairs that are professionally tailored to fit a person’s medical and functional needs.

It’s Not Just A Wheelchair

There are some people who believe a wheelchair is just a wheelchair; it works for everyone the same way.  Tobin and United Spinal contend this could not be further from the truth.  We believe that access to complex rehab technology is vital, and represents the front lines of the battle for equality for wheelchair users and others within the disability community.

“Without the proper mobility equipment, many individuals cannot live with dignity and independence.  They may be confined to their homes or forced into nursing homes.  They might not be able to get involved in their communities, discover recreational or educational opportunities, attend family and religious gatherings, or seek employment.  They lose their voice and, ultimately, their empowerment,” he explained.

Tobin discussed how disability policy milestones such as the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Fair Housing Amendments Act – initiated during the disability rights and independent living movements of the 60s and 70s – were due in large part to people with disabilities being intimately involved in every stage of reform.

Keep The Dream Alive

According to Tobin, things that were once considered a dream – like curb cuts, ramps, removal of architectural barriers, and employment protections – are now a reality because people with disabilities were the driving force for change.  But that empowered grassroots voice echoing from our past is fading fast; it must be restored.

“If we have limited access to the vehicles essential to our independence and livelihood, we could potentially lose everything,” Tobin added.  “We lose our ability to fight back against discriminatory practices, archaic policies, inaccessible housing and transportation, or any number of other barriers we are confronted with in our daily lives. Our long journey toward equality and independence will essentially be cut short.”

Tobin pointed out that society has failed to align social goals of inclusion and integration with the technology needed to facilitate it – which is restricted by “medical necessity guidelines” built into our Medicare and Medicaid programs.  The solution proposed by Tobin and stakeholders at CELA is the creation of a separate benefits category for complex rehab technology proposed in the Ensuring Access to Quality Complex Rehabilitation Technology Act of 2012.

This bill would carve out complex rehab from the durable medical equipment benefit, put standards in place to ensure the equipment is provided by qualified professionals, and permanently exempt it from the punishing effects of competitive bidding.  It would also remove a restriction that allows coverage for complex rehab only for use “in the home.”

The Solution

Tobin called for wheelchair consumers to take action to bring these changes to fruition.  “We can no longer remain silent.  Silence means consent.  Be loud, be proud,” he said.  “Visit your local policymakers and discuss the problems and propose solutions.  Talk about the effect that complex rehab technology has had upon your life, your independence, and your family.  Speak of your difficulties obtaining, maintaining, and replacing critical mobility equipment – and the negative impact it has had on you.”

He then addressed wheelchair suppliers in the crowd – asking them to champion these reform efforts and spread the word to their customers to join the effort.  “Partner with your customers.  Tell them of the challenges facing your businesses and what impact it could have on them.”  Tobin also urged attendees to take part in United Spinal Association’s ongoing efforts to improve access to appropriate technologies which promote functional and social independence by joining the organization’s UsersFirst movement and advocacy initiatives such as Roll on Capitol Hill.  “We can win this battle if we stand together and work in collaboration,” he said.

To download Tobin’s PowerPoint Presentation from CELA, click here.

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A New Electric Vehicle for Wheelchair Users

June 16, 2012, HuffingtonPost.com

A recent addition to the electric vehicle market hopes to bring green transportation to more individuals that use wheelchairs.  Translogic's Bradley Hasemeyer took a test drive of the Kenguru and found it "really fun" to drive.  The vehicle, which was originally developed in Hungary, was brought to the U.S. last year by Austin, Texas-based lawyer Stacy Zoern.  Two years after Zoern called the Hungarian company, the Kenguru is now manufactured in Pflugerville, Texas.

Noting that, "Manual wheelchair conversions can add $14,000 or more to the cost of a van, minivan or SUV purchase."  Translogic explains that the Kenguru could be a more affordable vehicle option for wheelchair users.  Zoern told Hasemeyer that with federal and state electric vehicle incentives and vocational rehabilitation incentives, the vehicle's $25,000 price tag can be reduced to $20,000 or even, in "some cases," nothing.  The Kenguru, according to Translogic, can travel at speeds up to 25 miles per hour with a 60 mile range.  It takes eight hours to fully charge.  Hasemeyer said it has "good pickup" and makes "such a great option for someone in a wheelchair."

Another electric vehicle, the Honda Fit, was recently given the EPA's highest ever fuel efficiency rating. The combined rating of the 2013 model is the equivalent of 119 miles per gallon, reported AP, with an estimated annual fuel cost of $500.  A recent development in lithium ion battery technology could mean that electric vehicles will see a price drop in coming years. A123 System's technology, known as Nanophosphate EXT, is intended to "prolong [battery] cycle life at extremely high temperatures and deliver high power even at low temperatures," explained Reuters.

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“NEWS YOU CAN USE”

These items were brought to our attention by our members:

 

Glimpse the future today:  Talking TV Assistive Technology

December 3, 2011

I am writing to introduce our Talking TV technology, an advanced digital TV set top box (STB) assistive living solution that has been developed by Ocean Blue Software and the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB).

Talking TV has been designed to allow blind and partially sighted people to access their television programme guide and menu items for the first time, thus being able to enjoy their Digital TV experience. The talking TV technology will vocalise/speak to the user the following:

Š       TV content/Information from onscreen TV programme.

Š       Set up menus and also provides online Help information for a TV guide

Example Features and Functions:

Š       European HD TV Compliant standards

Š       Advanced Text-to-Speech (TTS)

Š       Simplified User Interface

Š       Programme Guide/Menu Colour selection

Š       Variable Text size selection

Š       Variable Voice speed selection

Š       TTS beginner/expert mode

Š       Grid view / List view Electronic Programme Guide (EPG)

Š       Advanced, tactile remote control

Š       Female/Male Voice

Š       Adopted to your country's language

 

Award Winning Product

The award winning technology is the result of a development project between Ocean Blue Software and RNIB, the UK's leading sight loss charity. The technology has won a number of awards including the CSI Award 2011 for Best Customer Premise Technology and an IABM (International Association of Broadcast Manufacturers) Award for Excellence in Design and Innovation.

With digital switchover taking place in many countries around the world, the need to address the issue of accessibility is imminent. For example, as part of the Digital Switchover scheme the Australian government has invested millions to provide the elderly with digital Talking set-top boxes that contain Ocean Blue's award winning, advanced text-to-speech software.

Adapted to your Country's Language

We would like to work with you to adapt the Talking TV into your country's language, which can then be made available in local set top boxes or televisions. Consumer Electronic products must be made accessible to all and most governments endorse and support this initiative. We believe this technology will become standard in every television and set top box throughout the world over the next 5 years. We now have Talking STB's in German and French languages for example. 

A video demonstration of our development and a factsheet are available at: http://www.oceanbluesoftware.com/talking-tv-video/49-talking-tv-video-english.  Please contact me to arrange a meeting or for further information.

Regards


Gail Rennolds
Business Support Manager
Ocean Blue Software
ITV Television Centre

Bath Road
Bristol  BS4 3HG
United Kingdom
Tel:
+44 (0)117 972 2753
Fax: +44 (0)117 972 3978


AWARD WINNER FOR BEST CUSTOMER PREMISES TECHNOLOGY -
CSI AWARDS 2011.

<http://www.oceanbluesoftware.com/2011/september-2011/308-esi-awards-2011-ocean-blues-talking-tv-technology-wins-highly-commended-award-for-best-customer-premise-technology.html>

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