Tag Archives: accessibility

Virtual march helps people with disabilities join the Women’s March on Washington

Image: Vicky LEta/Mashable

Activism isn’t always accessible and the Women’s March on Washington is no exception.

For people who might not have the physical ability or stamina to join Saturday’s massive public protest, disability activists created the Disability March an online movement that allows people with disabilities and chronic illnesses to participate virtually in the event.

The Disability March organizers invite people living with disabilities to submit their names, photos and a statement on why they want to “march.” The images and text will be uploaded to the website in time for the Women’s March on Jan. 21, creating a virtual archive of people showing solidarity with the main event in Washington, D.C.

“I began to wonder about other ways to be visible, especially for our community, besides marching”

Sonya Huber, one of the organizers, was inspired to create the online movement after she realized attending the Women’s March wouldn’t be the best idea for her health. A disability rights activist and professor at Fairfield University in Connecticut, Huber lives with a few autoimmune disorders, including rheumatoid disease and Hashimoto’s disease. She also experiences some mobility problems.

“The march, combined with the drive, would have done a number on my immune system at the beginning of a busy semester,” she told Mashable.

But Huber knew she wasn’t alone, and she wanted to do something to help broaden access to the march for her community.

“I began to wonder about other ways to be visible, especially for our community, besides marching even though the march will of course include many disabled people,” she said. “Since the disabled community is going to be so impacted by the Republican agenda, it seemed that giving people a platform to tell their individual stories was most appropriate.”

Image: Disability March

The Disability March is an all-volunteer effort, made for the disability community, by the disability community. It’s also an official co-sponsor of the Women’s March on Washington.

Huber said about 50 online “marchers” have signed up to participate in the virtual march so far, and she expects more people to submit their stories throughout the week.

Some images and testimonies of Disability March participants are already live on the movement’s website, but the bulk of photos and statements will be uploaded Friday and Saturday to coincide with the main march.

Disability March organizers are also coming up with activist-oriented tasks for participants, designed with various levels of ability and comfort in mind. While still in planning stages, the goal is to offer tangible actions for people to still make an impact.

“In keeping our whole community in mind, our vision for a just society will be more inclusive and our activism will be more effective.”

Huber hopes the online march will draw attention to the faces and stories of people who will be heavily affected by the Trump administration, especially the potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act and attacks on Medicaid.

“I hope that this small effort which rides the wave of so much other disability activism can help get the word out about the large number of people with invisible and visible disabilities who need an outlet for sharing their stories and who want to be active,” she said.

The Disability March also challenges other activist efforts to take inclusivity and different types of participation in social movements seriously.

“We are not a peripheral community,” Huber said. “In keeping our whole community in mind, our vision for a just society will be more inclusive and our activism will be more effective.”

If you want to join the Disability March, you can fill out the short online form here. The deadline for submissions is Friday, Jan. 20.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/01/18/disability-march-womens-march-on-washington/

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Virtual march helps people with disabilities join the Women’s March on Washington

Image: Vicky LEta/Mashable

Activism isn’t always accessible and the Women’s March on Washington is no exception.

For people who might not have the physical ability or stamina to join Saturday’s massive public protest, disability activists created the Disability March an online movement that allows people with disabilities and chronic illnesses to participate virtually in the event.

The Disability March organizers invite people living with disabilities to submit their names, photos and a statement on why they want to “march.” The images and text will be uploaded to the website in time for the Women’s March on Jan. 21, creating a virtual archive of people showing solidarity with the main event in Washington, D.C.

“I began to wonder about other ways to be visible, especially for our community, besides marching”

Sonya Huber, one of the organizers, was inspired to create the online movement after she realized attending the Women’s March wouldn’t be the best idea for her health. A disability rights activist and professor at Fairfield University in Connecticut, Huber lives with a few autoimmune disorders, including rheumatoid disease and Hashimoto’s disease. She also experiences some mobility problems.

“The march, combined with the drive, would have done a number on my immune system at the beginning of a busy semester,” she told Mashable.

But Huber knew she wasn’t alone, and she wanted to do something to help broaden access to the march for her community.

“I began to wonder about other ways to be visible, especially for our community, besides marching even though the march will of course include many disabled people,” she said. “Since the disabled community is going to be so impacted by the Republican agenda, it seemed that giving people a platform to tell their individual stories was most appropriate.”

Image: Disability March

The Disability March is an all-volunteer effort, made for the disability community, by the disability community. It’s also an official co-sponsor of the Women’s March on Washington.

Huber said about 50 online “marchers” have signed up to participate in the virtual march so far, and she expects more people to submit their stories throughout the week.

Some images and testimonies of Disability March participants are already live on the movement’s website, but the bulk of photos and statements will be uploaded Friday and Saturday to coincide with the main march.

Disability March organizers are also coming up with activist-oriented tasks for participants, designed with various levels of ability and comfort in mind. While still in planning stages, the goal is to offer tangible actions for people to still make an impact.

“In keeping our whole community in mind, our vision for a just society will be more inclusive and our activism will be more effective.”

Huber hopes the online march will draw attention to the faces and stories of people who will be heavily affected by the Trump administration, especially the potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act and attacks on Medicaid.

“I hope that this small effort which rides the wave of so much other disability activism can help get the word out about the large number of people with invisible and visible disabilities who need an outlet for sharing their stories and who want to be active,” she said.

The Disability March also challenges other activist efforts to take inclusivity and different types of participation in social movements seriously.

“We are not a peripheral community,” Huber said. “In keeping our whole community in mind, our vision for a just society will be more inclusive and our activism will be more effective.”

If you want to join the Disability March, you can fill out the short online form here. The deadline for submissions is Friday, Jan. 20.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/01/18/disability-march-womens-march-on-washington/

READ MORE

Voiceitt lets people with speech impairments use voice-controlled technology

Voice-controlled technology like Amazon Echo, Siri or hands-free features in Google Maps are things were starting to take for granted. But as Mary Meekers 2017 Internet Trends Report noted, voice controls are changing computer-human interfaces, and industries, broadly. Speech recognition or voice controls are being added to medical devices and business applications, even vehicles and industrial robotics.

But theres a problem voice systems have been built for standard speech today. That leaves out millions of people who live with speech impairments, or who just have a strong accent.Now, a Tel Aviv-based startup calledVoiceitt has raised $2 million in seed funding to translate into clear words speech thats not easily intelligible.

The startup, which was co-founded by CEO Danny Weissberg and CTO Stas Tiomkin, is a graduate of the DreamIt Health accelerator. Investors in Voiceitts seed round include Amit Technion, Dreamit Ventures, Quake Capital, Buffalo Angels, 1,000 Angels and other angels.

Heres how Voiceitt works: Users fire up the companys app and it asks them to compose then read short, useful sentences out loud, like Im thirsty, or Turn off the lights.The software records and begins to learn the speakers particular pronunciation. A caregiver can type phrases into the app if the user is not able to do so independently.

After a brief training period, the Voiceitt app can turn the users statements into normalized speech, which it outputs in the form of audio or text messages, instantly. Voice-controlled apps and devices can easily understand the newly generated audio or written messages. But Voiceitt also can be used to help people with speech impediments communicate face to face with other people.

A woman with a speech impairment uses Voiceitt to translate her words into a clear message.

DreamitsKaren Griffith Gryga said investors view Voiceitt as a technology thats starting with the thin edge of the wedge, in the market for assistive tech. But it could be expanded to help people with strong accents use whatever voice-enabled technology Seattle or Silicon Valley comes up with next.

Weissberg explained that he came up with the idea for Voiceitt after his grandmother suffered from speech impairments following a stroke. The CEO said, I realized how we take for granted the way we communicate by speaking. Losing this is really terrible, one of the hardest aspects of stroke recovery. So I didnt say, right away, lets start a company. But I began to talk with speech therapists and occupational therapists, and to learn everything I can about the problem and whether there was a market in need, there.

An early version of Voiceitt will be available next year, but the app is in beta tests now.The companys pilot customers are hospitals and schools, and people there who have speech differences because of a health condition, like those with cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, Parkinsons or who are recovering from a traumatic brain injury or stroke.

Long-term, Weissberg said, This could really be an accessibility extension to speech recognition for anyone, Google, Amazon, Apple, IBM or Microsoft. Wed love to function like a major OEM and work with all the major platforms.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2017/06/01/voiceitt-lets-people-with-speech-impairments-use-voice-controlled-technology/

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