Google Maps is widely known as one of the most popular resources individuals use to navigate and learn information about new locations. Google Maps has just updated its platform to have additional features, which allows locations and users to provide extensive details to let other users know if the location is accessible for individuals with disabilities. For individuals who have disabilities, or for their caregivers, it is extremely important to know this information in order to plan accordingly. Now users can look in the accessibility section for a location and see if it has accessible entrances, seating, restrooms, parking, and elevators. This update displays Google’s objective to be inclusive to all of its users. As a result of these new features Google has already added accessibility information to more then 7 million places worldwide. Read more about the updated Google Maps accessibility features here.
A collection of stories, experiences and uplifting tales regarding the world of disabilities and the individuals who have them.
What at first glance might look like a crazy joke is actually a spectacular fundraising event. Hurricane Grill and Wings released electric blue wings flavored “Blazin Blue Raspberry.” The wings are meant to raise awareness for Autism, which is represented by the color blue. During the month of April for every plate of wings sold in one of the company’s 62 locations, a portion of the proceed will be donated to the Autism awareness organization Els for Autism. The restaurant chain projects raising $15,000 for the organization. Read more about this April Fool’s Day joke turned fundraiser here
ABC’s Speechless, a show depicting a teenager with cerebral palsy, has been selected for a special award from the people behind the Emmy Awards. Speechless was named as one of six shows to the Television Academy Honors. The shows receiving this honor were those “that explore and confront significant issues facing our society in a compelling and impactful way.” Speechless was selected for its showcasing of both the highs and the lows of daily life for individuals with disabilities. The main character, played by an actor with cerebral palsy, has dealt with a range of current and common problem for the disability community including inspiration porn and trying to gain independence. Read more about Speechless and the Television Academy Honors here
Motorized wheelchairs are extremely helpful for individuals with physical disabilities. They allow these individuals to move around with ease without the need of upper body strength or an assistant pushing them around. However, these chairs do lack in one major way. Their batteries and electronics make them insufficient for use at beaches, waterparks and pools. This is where Dr. Rory Cooper comes in. Cooper, who holds a Ph.D in electrical and computer engineering, was approached by park officials of Morgan’s Wonderland to create a waterproof wheelchair. Morgan’s Wonderland of San Antonio is a fully accessible, 25-acre theme park. Cooper’s PneuChairs are going to be available for guest of the newest addition to Morgan’s Wonderland, Morgan’s Inspiration Island, a $16 million splash park that will open late spring. Learn more about PneuChairs, which name comes from the pneumatic power it runs on, here
In honor of Autism Awareness Month in April PBS Kids is using the platform of their most popular children television shows to educate and promote awareness about autism. This initiative will start with the introduction of Julia, the new Muppet with autism, on Sesame Street. In the brand new episode Big Bird meets Julia for the first time and learn more about her condition. In addition to Julia, PBS Kids will air a two part episode of their popular show Dinosaur Train showcasing a dinosaur who know a lot about the other dinosaurs, but has difficulty with social interactions. Lastly, PBS Kids will be playing reruns of episodes of the show Arthur which include a character named Carl who has Asperger’s Syndrome. Learn more about PBS Kids efforts to promote autism awareness in the Huffington Post article here
The Chocolate Spectrum Cafe and Academy Trains Teaches Job Skills to Individuals with Autism While Making Delicious Chocolate
Just in case you needed another reason to eat chocolate, The Chocolate Spectrum, in Jupiter, Florida makes delicious, gourmet chocolate while teaching job skills to individuals with autism. The Chocolate Spectrum was started by Valerie Herskowiz in 2013 and became a brick and mortar shop in 2016. The original purpose of the shop was to employ individuals with autism and other developmental disorders. Making people happy with irresistible chocolate and providing fun chocolate making classes, was just an outlet of achieving this goal. After the vast success of The Chocolate Spectrum, Valerie realized she had the opportunity to do more than employ individuals with developmental disorders, she could be an inspiration for future autism entrepreneurs. For this reason she started a blog to chronicle her journey as a business woman. She has vowed to post one blog each week as long as she has readers. You can view her blog here (https://thechocolatespectrumblog.com) and you can learn more about The Chocolate Spectrum/order chocolate here
There are many different special rewards cards for a variety of populations from students, to senior citizens to military veterans and now there is an advantage club for people with disabilities. Alto is America’s first advantage club for people with disabilities and their families. The company was inspired by Moshe Gaon’s nephew Erez who was born with a rare disease and complex cognitive and physical disabilities. Moshe started by creating a global disability community, yoocanfindme.com and after a year of amazing success realized that there was a great need for something more. This was when Alto was born. Becoming a member of Alto only cost $4.99 a month and provides community members with a variety of benefits, rewards and discounts from thousands of different companies spanning genres from entertainment to shopping to outdoor recreation to sports and fitness. Savings are personalized to the needs of the family. Check out the Alto website here: https://altolife.com
As is often the case when a parent finds out that their child has autism they are thrown into a world they know nothing about and have little time to learn. This was the case for mom Lisa Smith. Smith’s youngest son Tate has autism. As a concerned and loving mother, Smith has spent much time researching and reading about autism. During her research she often had to stop to look up the definitions of words. These words have now become a part of her daily vocabulary. Smith writes a blog chronicling her parenting called Quirks and Chaos. She was going to post a blog post with the list of the words and their definitions that she has learned over the years. She decided to take what could have been a somewhat boring vocabulary list and make it entertaining as well as more visually appealing by adding illustrations. She defined words including scripting, IEP, echolalia, stim, transition, and elopement among many others. You can check out her “Autism 101” vocabulary illustrations here
In honor of Autism Awareness month major companies from Microsoft to Ford to AT&T are hosting the first Autism @ Work Virtual Career Fair. The event will allow individuals with autism to meet with recruiters from a variety of different companies looking to hire. The virtual aspect of the fair allows individuals to take on the stressful task of interviewing from the safety of their home. Additionally, Microsoft is going to be hosting the second annual Autism @ Work Summit in Palo Alto, California. The summit brings employers together to develop more inclusive hiring practices. Learn more about both events on Microsoft’s blog here
Moving is a stressful situation for any family, but it can be especially difficult for families of kids with special needs. There are many things to consider: will the house be accessible, will the nearby school provide the necessary services, will there be a pediatrician that will work well with your child etc. In this article by, Jenny Wise, she discusses the different environmental consideration parents need to think about before they move, the questions they should ask and where to get answers. Additionally, she provides links to websites for parents to find nearby support groups in their area, making the transition to a new place easier and allowing parents to learn more about their new community. Click read more to read the full article.Read More