This week I researched high and low in order to keep you updated on current events in the community of people with disabilities. Hope you enjoy!
1. In recent years, the use of fraudulent service dogs has been increasing at a troubling rate. Many service dog accessories, such as certificates of registration, badges, ID cards, and service dog vests, are available for purchase online, with no required proof that they will go to a real service dog. This makes it fairly easy for a person to find the means to disguise their untrained pet as a service dog. However, the sale of this material is not illegal. Ken Lyons, the director of Orlando-based Service Dogs of Florida, stated that the companies that sell these items are similar to companies that sell law enforcement uniforms, which is also legal, because, “It’s when a person buys something and uses it improperly that they break the law.” According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, a service dog must be trained to do particular things for a person with a disability. This training is very expensive, and service dogs are in high demand, with about 20,000 service dogs being used among the almost fifty-five million people with disabilities in the U.S. The problems with using service dogs who have not undergone this training emerge when fake service dogs misbehave – such as biting or being loud – because it is real service dogs that are seen to be at fault for the issues with the disguised dogs. It is very difficult to distinguish between fake guide dogs and legitimate dogs, but disability rights activists are working to address this issue. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, representing an untrained dog as a service dog is a federal crime.
Learn more about the fight against fraudulent service dog use at “Service-animal fraud hurts the truly disabled” at News-press.com. [Editor’s note: this article is no longer available online.]
2. A new project aimed at raising awareness of autism, called “Autism on the road”, is in the works. The project is the brainchild of William Davenport, a documentary filmmaker and special education teacher who specializes in teaching filmmaking to people on the autism spectrum. He has released two films in the past that focus on raising awareness of autism. Davenport’s “cross country road trip” across the United States, educating people about autism along the way, is scheduled to begin in October 2014. Davenport and a group of presenters who are on the autism spectrum will stop at a variety of locations along the way to lead workshops about autism. Davenport plans to film during the Autism on the road project. He states that his inspiration for his current project comes from the words of Ari Ne’eman, a speaker in one of his previous films, who stated that, “The best way for people to learn about autism is for them to meet someone on spectrum.”
Discover more about Davenport’s projects at “Autism on the road” on youcaring.com.
3. A new invention has emerged called the Tongue Drive System, which allows people who are paralyzed from the neck down to control their wheelchairs with greater ease. The tongue is pierced with a magnetic stud which is used to direct the user’s wheelchair with simple motions of the tongue. Research indicates that the device is easy to use, fairly intuitive, and allows patients to retain accuracy but move faster than with other current methods of operating wheelchairs. Despite the issues some patients may have with the tongue piercing that is necessary for this method of wheelchair operation, the tongue is actually a prime location of control. Often, people who are paralyzed through damage to the spinal cord or neurological disease can retain control of the tongue, and the tongue is capable of many complicated movements, similar to fingers and hands. The Tongue Drive System is still being developed and tested. Stay tuned for news on the progress of this promising aid to independent living.
Read more about this new device at “The incredible tongue piercing which allows patients paralyzed from the neck down to control their wheelchairs” in the Daily Mail.
4. At Brigham Young University, in Idaho, an amazing friendship has emerged among seven young men. Six students at the University have decided to take on the responsibility of being around-the-clock personal assistants for their seventh roommate, Cesar Ibanez. Ibanez is twenty-eight years old and plans on majoring in biology to become a biophysicist. He has spinal muscular atrophy, which has resulted in the gradual weakening of and loss of control over his muscles. Currently, Ibanez has no control over his lower body and struggles with weakness in the rest of his body, resulting in him needing assistance for everyday tasks such as dressing, going to the bathroom, and showering. After Ibanez decided to leave home to study at BYU, he met his current roommates – Gunner Christensen, Jeffrey Hansen, Trevor Rubio, Jacob Justice, Jake Christensen and Trevor Morrill – at a Mormon Church social meeting. According to the group, they became fast friends soon after meeting, and upon the end of Ibanez’ temporary housing contract, they invited him to move in with them. This decision was far more than a simple invite to a new roommate; by inviting Ibanez to move in with them, the six young men agreed to be his full-time personal assistants, which includes helping Ibanez with tasks such as dressing and showering, with no reward but the friendship they’d built. Said Rubio, “It really was an act of faith…and it became so much easier when we learned to really love Cesar.” Although the seven young men have only lived together for less than two semesters, they plan on continuing to be roommates, despite whatever difficulties may arise.
Learn more about Ibanez and his friends at “BYU-Idaho students care for disabled roommate around the clock” on Idahostatesman.com
I’ll leave you with our quote of the week:
“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”
– Henry Stanley Haskins