A New Character With Autism On Sesame Street

Last month, a new character with autism was introduced on the show Sesame Street, which created a positive reaction from individuals around the world. Julia, the newest character of the show, has autism and acts in a stereotypical manner of many peers in the classroom.

sesame street, inclusion, tv and disabilities

For example, Julia is seen flapping her hands, repeating words, and not responding to a greeting by Big Bird. Alan, the narrator, explains that Julia is not trying to ignore Big Bird, but instead responds to people differently than Big Bird himself. He says, “She does things just a little differently, in a Julia sort of way.” It may take her a bit longer to respond, but it’s okay.

Sesame street does a great job explaining some of the behaviors Julia demonstrates and does an even better job at explaining an appropriate way others can respond to such behaviors. For example, Julia is sensitive to loud noises. She repeats things that were just said by her friends and avoids eye contact. Although she acts differently than her peers, Julia fits right in and is part of the show. An example showing Julia and Elmo playing or Julia and Abby playing can bring tears to an eye of an educator or parent who is constantly striving to create this type of peer interaction and play environment.

Julia’s arrival of the show comes at a unique time in history. As society is progressively becoming more understanding and tolerant of differences, Julia’s presence on the show showcases how an inclusion setting can operate within the boundaries of love, patience, and understanding. It also teaches children at an early age to accept individuals who behave differently within the classroom environment and community.

I applaud Sesame street for including Julia in their show and for accurately depicting some common social situations that can occur in a life of a child with autism.

 

The Accessible Icon Emoji

Recently, a new emoji was added to the Apple iSO10 update, and the Accessible Icon team was very pleased to learn that the accessible icon was included for the social media world to use on a daily basis. With the new icon emerging into the digital world, people who were unfamiliar with the project wanted to know more about the icon that represents people with disabilities as active and engaged. In more detail, I wrote an article about the story of the accessible icon that was published here: http://www.disabled-world.com/disability/accessibility/ios-10.php. Please take the time to read why a group of people identify with the more active looking symbol and be sure to look out for the accessible icon on your phones!

iPhone update, symbols, disabilities, technology

Just $10 Can Make All The Difference

$10 can make all the difference in places like Mozambique and Zimbabwe. In order to even attend school, students need to purchase a $10 uniform that they wear every day. Unfortunately, many students cannot afford the uniform, let alone school books and pencils.

According to World Vision, 57 million children are not enrolled in school. Every Christmas, I add to my family’s gifts by sponsoring a child to attend school. For only $10, one child can attend school for the year. It seems crazy, but $10 can make all the difference for children around the world.

Consider sponsoring a child or donating school supplies today. There are many sites to do this through, but one I use is World Vision. (By the way! $50 will supply $600 of school supplies since your gift is multiplied by 12x). Watch their video and see how you can impact those living in impoverished areas.

Please consider donating $10 (or more!!) today to change a child’s life.

Introducing the First Nonverbal, Autistic Talk Show Host

The world has been watching Carly Fleischmann, and her viewers have just increased by becoming the first nonverbal, autistic talk show host. Carly speaks through her I-pad and communicates with others with the help of technology. After many hours spent with her therapists and supportive family growing up, Carly has found a way to communicate with the world.

Her first interview —with the famous Channing Tatum —-gave viewers a good laugh as she asked questions that could make some feel uncomfortable. Her sense of humor, love, and youthful energy comes alive through the interview. I am excited to see the other guests she invites to her show in the future.

For now, be sure to watch Speechless –the newest talk show featuring the one and only –Carly Fleischmann!

Introduction: 

First Interview: Channing Tatum 

The Power Wheelchair

The Argonault Power Wheelchair is an amazing idea that can change the lives of those with disabilities. As technology constantly evolves the way we live and function, this power wheelchair can help make the lives of those with limited mobility more accessible. In particular, I love how this design showcases the independence of those using a wheelchair. For example, when the individual uses the wheelchair after laying down in his bed and then entering into his car. In my opinion, this is one of the coolest ideas I have come across in a while. I truly hope this becomes a reality one day.

Jack of the Red Hearts

A new movie showing a realistic depiction of what it is like to raise a child with autism is coming soon to theaters. Jack of the Red Hearts by Janet Grillo is being praised for showing both the challenges and joys of having a child with autism. Criticizing the films that solely depict autism children as savants, Grillo brings an honest picture which captivates children who are non-verbal and more dependent. disability movies media autistic

autism movie disabilities media

For more stories about autism posted by the huffington post please visit: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/autism/

Wheelchair Snow Plow

This week, a lot of the states were hit with major snow storms ranging from 25 to 30 inches. A lot of times, with massive snowfall, the streets and sidewalks become unaccessible to wheelchair users and others who rely on smooth walkways.

This video shows one man who decided to modify his wheelchair to meet his needs due to the snowy weather. This idea is definitely on my “top 10” list. I am looking for others to replicate! Justin Anderson is an accessible icon.

Symbols and Signs

While touring Germany, Italy, and Spain, I was highly interested in the symbols each country used to signify basic street information. Here in the states, there has been much debate about if the Accessible Icon is legal since it has not been officially adopted as the symbol of access by the DOT or DOJ. While almost everyone will agree that the symbol represents movement, some argue that a new symbol is not needed or can cause confusion. Since I am now interested in exploring the different symbols that exist, I took pictures of the different symbols I came across while traveling.

 Accessible Icon Updates: 

  • DOJ (Department of Justice) verbal approval of the icon during the National ADA Symposium. Read here (May 2015)
  • New York State announcement of a slow phasing in of the symbol. Read here (August 2014)
  • New Jersey bill in progress. Read here ( September 2014)

 

 

Big News for the Accessible Icon Project: DOJ Approval

We are very excited to announce that members from the Department of Justice officially acknowledged the Accessible Icon as meeting ADA regulations (a long debated topic that prevented some people from moving forward with the symbol) at a recent conference. Kate Thurman,  Disability Project Coordinator for Cambridge Commissions for Persons with Disabilities who attended the National ADA Symposium provided us with the following information:

As you saw on Twitter, I attended the National ADA Symposium in Atlanta, which ended yesterday with a Town Hall Meeting. I have pasted below my notes on the conversation during this meeting about the use of the Accessible Icon. Needless to say, I was absolutely thrilled to hear from DOJ that the use of the icon is permissible under the ADA!

Accessibility Icon

Please read the article with statements from various DOJ members here: http://www.unitedspinal.org/new-access-symbol/. Although DOJ and ADA are slow to announce in writing, we believe these public statements reflect a decision that will eventually be announced formally through their social media sites.

At the conference, all 50 states, in addition to Canada, Gaum, and the Virgin Islands were represented and part of the discussion.

As of May 28, we know of over 35 states using the icon, and over 10 countries. New York State is the first state to legally adopt the icon, and New Jersey, Michigan, Kansas, and Pennsylvania are following suit. Needless to say,  our team was thrilled when we heard the news.