Disabled wrestlers in Japan challenge stereotypes in film ‘Doglegs’

Filmmaker Heath Cozens hopes to smash stereotypes about the disabled with his new documentary “Doglegs,” about a handicapped pro-wrestling league in Japan.

TORONTO: Filmmaker Heath Cozens hopes to smash stereotypes about the disabled with his new documentary “Doglegs,” about a handicapped pro-wrestling league in Japan.

The New Zealand-born director discovered the wrestlers, who sometimes fight able-bodied opponents despite their physical and mental disabilities, while living in Japan for 18 years.

The film premiered at the Canadian International Documentary Film Festival in April.

Cozens said he wanted his first feature-length documentary to take the audience on the same emotional rollercoaster he felt when he saw a Doglegs match for the first time.

“I wanted to laugh, then I felt bad about myself wanting to laugh and ashamed,” Cozens explained in an interview. “I just didn’t know how I should feel about it.”

“Doglegs” follows five members of the Tokyo league as they confront their disabilities and demons in the wrestling ring and in their personal lives.

The film shows fans cheering as fighters bash one another mercilessly and a female announcer spices up her commentary with personal details about the combatants.

Cozens said exploitation was a valid concern and initially he thought about doing an expose. But as he watched a match he saw what a positive environment it was and that they were changing peoples’ attitudes about the disabled.

“I realized that what they are doing was performing brain surgery, heart surgery on the audience, changing the audience from inside out,” Cozens said. “I felt the transformation.”

Doglegs started in 1991 as a volunteer group for the disabled and morphed into its present form after two disabled men had a fight over a woman.

The skirmish gave the group’s able-bodied volunteer leader Yukinori Kitajima the idea of forming a wrestling league that would challenge how the disabled are perceived.

“Doglegs” follows “Sambo” Shintaro, a sanitation worker with cerebral palsy and a star fighter for 20 years, as he approaches his retirement match against Kitajima.

Another fighter, Yuki Nakajima, who suffers from depression, seems to feed off the power he gets from climbing into the ring and facing down his demons.

“We have to keep fighting with our own weakness to move forward and get strong, even if we keep losing,” Nakajima explained in an email.

Cozens, who now lives in New York, spent five years making the film that looks at disabilities in a new way.

“Handicap is in the eye of the beholder,” he said.

 

(Editing by Patricia Reaney; Editing by Christian Plumb)

I will not cut my hair into your out of that wheelchair! Minnesota Father fights for funding to support for paralysis research.

Father fights for funding to support paralysis research

After an injury paralyzed his son, Matthew Rodreick has spent years advocating for funding to research spinal cord injuries.

Matthew Rodreick, right, helps his son Gabe Rodreick work out on April 21, 2015, in a space dedicated to physical therapy behind Mathew’s south Minneapolis home.
“It’s normal to me now,” Gabe Rodreick said of his injury. For the past five years, both he and his father have been campaigning for more state funding to go toward spinal cord injury research.
April 29, 2015
Matthew Rodreick hasn’t cut or combed his hair in over six years.
After his son became paralyzed, Rodreick vowed not to maintain his hair until his son is out of his wheelchair. His long, gray dreadlocks now reach the lower part of his back.
Rodreick has spent the past five years lobbying legislators to provide more funding for research on spinal cord injuries. Several attempts to secure state money for this type of research have been unsuccessful in recent years. In this spring’s legislative session, the House hasn’t proposed funding for the research.
Rodreick left his job in hospital administration to find ways he could help his son and other people living with life-altering injuries.
“I’m not the kind of person to just accept that,” he said of his son’s injury.
His son, Gabe Rodreick, suffered a severe neck injury seven years ago while vacationing in Costa Rica that left him paralyzed from the neck down. Soon after the injury, Roderick and his son traveled to India in search of medical treatment options.
“We traipsed around looking for alternatives,” Rodreick said. “It was during those times when I started to dig in to the research.”
Roderick began parsing through scientific journals and publications, completely immersing himself in studies of spinal cord injuries. His inquiries left him curious
about the current levels of research funding.
He met with health professionals and academics and asked them what more funding could do to advance spinal cord injury research in Minnesota.
He talked with Dr. Ann Parr, the director of spinal neurosurgery at the University of Minnesota.
Parr, who has overseen a research lab for four years, said a lack of consistent funding has forced her researchers to halt some of their projects.
“It is always a struggle to get funding,” she said. “Sometimes we have to shut projects down until we have the funds to start them back up.”
Parr’s lab uses specialized nerve cells to repair areas of the spinal cord that have been damaged. The goal of the research is for a patient to gain functional recovery through the use of their own cells.
Parr said recent investments have made her work possible, and with additional resources, research could continue to expand.
“There is more going on now than there ever has been, so that’s really exciting,” she said.
Rodreick said additional state funds could help advance research in Minnesota, including Parr’s.
Several attempts from state lawmakers in the last four years to allocate additional funding haven’t been approved.
This year, the Senate recommended awarding $2 million over the next two years for a spinal cord and traumatic brain injury research program.
Sen. John Hoffman, DFL-Champlin, said supporting more of the research done at higher education institutions was part of the reason it was approved.
“We have some of the greatest researchers here in our own backyard,” Hoffman said.
A separate House proposal does not include money to further spinal cord injury research.
Rep. Bud Nornes, R-Fergus Falls, said other types of research, including Alzheimer’s and other dementia diseases, took a higher priority for some legislators this year. A lack of state funding also limited the number of projects they could approve, he said.
Last summer, Rodreick helped form a nonprofit organization called Get Up Stand Up to Cure Paralysis to bring awareness to the challenges people with spinal cord injuries face. The group also advocates for creating more treatment options.
Robert Wudlick joined the organization three years ago. A rafting accident in the Grand Canyon left him a quadriplegic. Since then, he has urged state officials to prioritize spinal cord research.
“Pushing for government, state and federal funding for spinal cord research is the most effective way to get functional improvements,” he said.
Rodreick said he hopes the money lawmakers proposed this year for spinal cord injury research will help discover new innovations.
“It’s been five years; it’s time for us to win something,” he said.
Getting support from the state this year “will motivate people and get them excited about the possibilities,” he said.
Through aggressive exercise routines, Rodreick’s son has regained function in some areas of his body where improvements were said to be unlikely. If research can help his son continue with these improvements, Rodreick said, he’ll cut his hair.
“If he can partake in some treatment innovation and get his hands back, or some sort of functional improvement … Oh, I’ll cut my hair,” he said.
Original Article on Minnesota DailySCI research, TBI research,

MDA Canada – Empowerment in Action 2014 Vancouver – Mark Felling, Keynote Speaker

EMPOWERMENT IN ACTION 2014 – A LOOK BACK AND AHEAD…

From August 22nd to 24th, 2014, we brought together a group of amazing people for a weekend of fun, inspiration and empowerment to move forward in one of life’s many possible directions, thanks to the generous support of Canada Safeway and many other donors. Original Post

“What is empowerment? It’s not something bestowed on you. Empowerment comes from within.” – Mark Felling, keynote speaker

50 youth and 16 adults affected by neuromuscular disorders, along with 81 caregivers, came together with Muscular Dystrophy Canada Board Members, staff and volunteers, along with a powerful group of speakers in Richmond BC for this motivational and engaging summit on life transitions, personal leadership and neuromuscular disorder management.

Words cannot explain the outcomes of this great event. See some of the smiling faces that made EIA 2014 such a success.

Check out the accessible arcade, and #EIAyouth hashtags to see the updates and photos others have been posting about the event.

Empowerment in Action 2014 Keynote by Mark Felling for Canadian National Muscular Dystrophy Association Biannual Conference

Even though there are way too many to mention, here are just a few of the impacts that came as a result of this unforgettable weekend:

Experiencing Possibilities with Broadened Horizons Accessible Arcade
Experiencing Possibilities with Broadened Horizons Accessible Arcade
  • Delegates became empowered through listening to experts and there pears during interactive workshops, educational sessions and panel discussions on such topics as independent living, financial planning, respiratory health, sexuality, maintaining a positive state of mental heath, manage your neuromuscular disorder as you transition through life, travelling with a disability and building partnerships in the community, all while learning about Muscular Dystrophy Canada’s programs and services and how each and everyone of us can have an impact
  • We experienced our ability to participate in active living and recreational activities through integrated dance and power soccer at the beautiful Richmond Olympic Oval
  • The group connected with really cool people from all over Canada, hung out in the youth and adult lounges and participated in fun, adapted recreation activities. Experiences were shared and networks and relationships were built that will last a lifetime!
Broadened Horizons Accessible Arcade
Broadened Horizons Accessible Arcade
  • Individuals impacted by neuromuscular disorders embraced their independence by seeing the Richmond Area through a community walk about including a number of accessibility challenges.
  • Vendors helped us to discover community resources, supports, programs and technologies that can enhance our quality of life.
  • We raised awareness of neuromuscular disorders and the Muscular Dystrophy Canada brand through our presence in the community and the use of social media. Through the use of Twitter we reached over 10,000 accounts and had exposure of over 60,000.

“It’s easy to get caught up in labels & stigmas of what others think. Don’t do that.” – Maayan Ziv, speaker

Thank you to everyone who helped to fund and organize or participated in EIA2014. Without you, it wouldn’t have been the same. We look forward to continued educational and empowering events to enhance the lives of people affected by neuromuscular disorders.

EIA2014 SPONSORS

EIA14_LOGO_collage

– See more at: http://www.muscle.ca/we-can-help/educational-events/empowerment-in-action/#sthash.tVCaJ62F.dpuf

Empowerment in Action 2014 Keynote by Mark Felling for Canadian National Muscular Dystrophy Association Biannual Conference

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Veterans, Get Your VA Vocational Rehabilitation Benefits!

Reposted from DisabledVeterans.org A book written by a veteran to help navigate the VA vocational rehabilitation programs is available.

Broadened Horizons offers FREE Independent Living Assessments including Returning to Work, Returning to School, & Self Employment /Small Business planning and coaching as a free service to help you and vocational rehabilitation maximize you and results you get from your benefits.  Contact us TODAY to schedule a conference call with you, your vocational rehabilitation counselor, and one of our independent living and small business experts who are themselves disabled, with first-hand experience navigating vocational rehabilitation programs.

———————–
This post helps disabled veterans learn how to get and use their veterans benefits from the Dept of Veterans Affairs Chapter 31Vocational Rehabilitation program. Specifically, we think disabled veterans do not understand Vocational Rehabilitation. They do not understand what Vocational Rehabilitation is truly for. They do not understand what benefits veterans can and should expect to receive from the program.

When it comes to getting help, veterans organizations never bother to tell disabled veterans why they should use these benefits, or how to access them if they are denied.

On this site, I make a point to explain both ends of the veterans benefits agenda – what the benefits are and how to use them.

What is Vocational Rehabilitation?

Vocational Rehabilitation is far more than simple job training – but job training is usually how Vocational Rehabilitation counselors will summarize the program. Find out what Vocational Rehabilitation really is and all that you can do with it. Get the inside scoop on VA Vocational Rehabilitation here.

How to Get Vocational Rehabilitation Benefits

Here, we help you understand the steps you need to follow to get your Vocational Rehabilitation benefits claim started. Click here if you wish to set up your first Vocational Rehabilitation appointment.

The Voc Rehab Survival Guide for Veterans

For some of us, the VA benefits process is clear and logical, and we get a good Vocational Rehabilitation counselor who helps us get the benefits we earned serving our great country.

Unfortunately, for the majority of disabled veterans, including me, getting our hard earned benefits out of the Dept of Veterans Affairs is a far more complicated process than anything we faced in service. In fact, it is more like pulling teeth out of an angry bull. Better get ready.

The Voc Rehab Survival Guide for Veterans I wrote helps disabled veterans, lawyers, family members and others get armed with the facts. It educates veterans about the Vocational Rehabilitation program and how to maximize their benefits. Disabled veterans concerned about getting their benefits, and wanting to understand how the VA works, should check out our guide.

The Inspiration of Possibility – Speech by Mark Felling, MN Capital Rotunda, April 9 2:00 PM

The Inspiration of Possibility

Speech by Mark Felling, MN Capital Rotunda, April 9 2:00 PM

MN SCI/ TBI Research Grant Bill on Facebook
Add your support at change.org
New York Officials Restore Millions for Spinal Cord Injury Research

[Positive Message = POSSIBILITY.  Theme = Unify Care vs. Cure, emphasize there is no such thing as cure, only continuum of care.]

Rehabilitation is about continuous lifelong quest for improvement to quality of life after trauma at any point during the human lifetime from DNA till death. Rehabilitation must leverage whatever techniques, methodologies, or technologies provide greatest possibility towards functional, measurable, and sustainable results.  Rehabilitation is not exclusive to medical care, surgical intervention, biotech implants, orthotics and prosthetics, pharmacology, community living supports, vocational or recreational community integration programming, or even my own field of assistive technology; nor research in ANY of these fields. Rehabilitative success requires intensive interaction and collaboration between all of these parties; both public and private, corporations, nonprofits and government, because life and its unpredictability intimately affects EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US during our lives, some more intimately, others through family and friends.

Rehabilitation is not a linear process. Rehabilitation does not start at step A and end at step D or E. As much as we would all prefer this level of simplicity, it is an unrealistic pipe dream and anything built on that assumption is little more than wishful thinking.  Rehabilitation needs to follow a more modern concept of a mesh network.  A concept made popular by the Internet. A spider web of intersections making it possible to reach any point on that mesh by thousands of different routes and detours without singular dependency on any one path.  Only thinking about rehabilitation in this way will provide the greatest possibility for maximum results for each unique individual.

We are here today not talk about exclusives. We must strike the OR convention from our minds and adopt one of HOW. The question is not yes or no.  The question is WHICH next? The question is not care or cure. There is no cure for trauma, it is something we all will experience during our lives and becomes a part of us, but there are significant possibilities for much greater, more functional results in improvement.  Results-oriented research is about maximizing care, transitioning basic research to results-oriented clinical therapies maximizes over the long-term the resources available for all forms of care I mentioned in the beginning.

This bill we propose today sets aside funding for REAL, measurable, results-oriented projects and research that move the most promising basic research into real-world results.  Technology and new knowledge surfaces daily.   We do not know yet, what will surface tomorrow next year or the following.  However we do know humanity is on the cusp of a revolution in rehabilitative results and sciences towards continuous care and improvement.  We know we want Minnesota to be a significant player or leader creating the possibilities that fuel this revolution. We see this revolution in healthcare every day when a para-olympian without legs is able to challenge the fastest athletes in the world on the grandest stage in the world and they complain that this person without legs has an unfair ADVANTAGE! This bill provides great flexibility to fund whatever opportunities create the greatest possibility for functional results to the greatest number of people. Distribution through grants requiring public sharing of resulting knowledge and information makes it possible to leverage whatever entity, skills, and resources, both public and private, provide the greatest possibility for results.

We should not be asking ourselves today whether funding results-oriented research towards continuous functional improvement is worth it.  We KNOW even small improvements in rehabilitative results, if it can be applied to a large number of people, pays HUGE dividends within our communities. We KNOW the most common cause of trauma leading to spinal cord injuries and dramatic brain injuries requiring rehabilitation is automotive accidents.  It is logical, ethical, and fiscally responsible that access to this privilege, driving on public roads, help provide for greater possibilities to those most negatively affected by access to rapid transportation. The question is not IF we should, the question is HOW to provide the greatest results.

I am not talking about futuristic-dreams. Very few around the world will deny we stand looking into the dawn of a new age in healthcare and what that means to humanity. Minnesota’s biotech and healthcare research oriented industries, universities, and research hospitals stand ready, are already positioned to lead this march, allowing Minnesota’s economy to reap the benefits of this coming new age.  ANY team working together CAN and WILL change the world.  By simply imagining these possibilities beyond conventional perceived limitations, TODAY we have already begun changing our world. We ALL bind ourselves and others in shackles of imagined limitations. Whether a team of two or a consortium of competitors across an industry, by respecting and valuing the strengths and talents of each contributor, we throw off those shackles and spread our wings.  The horizon beckons, come fly with me!

 

Links to FREE MIT & other famous University courses online

As they say only thing holding you back is yourself.  Well this could never be more true. As an employer, it is more about your knowledge and skills vs. a piece of paper. Now with DouLingo launched you can learn a language for free.  It uses the massive anonymous community sourcing the developers learned when they created CAPTCHA.

I registerud for one of the first University programs completely online in 2000 offered through Space.edu towards a Masters in Space Studies physically located at UND Aerospace in Grand Forks North Dakota.  The program was first created undergrads from NASA but became a model for many other online university programs.  By during 2002 & 2003 I took five courses towards a Masters in Business Administration from Regis University in Denver, Colorado.  It worked out great because when I had my plane crash and broke my neck in 2003 I was able to resume my coursework while I was still in rehab and keep my mind active. I completed my MBA in 2005 at the rest is history.  For years I have considered or lusted over the idea of going back to get my doctorate, listened to free lectures from top professors around the world made available for free from The Learning Company http://www.thegreatcourses.com/.  I especially enjoyed the 30 lecture series on Ancient Rome.

So if you are a Life-long Learner these links should be a valuable resource.  If you found yourself recently disabled, you will hear all kinds of things from many that you brush off as them saying it is easy for them to say if they were only in your shoes.  But now I am telling you, I am in your shoes.  And the only thing holding me back is yourself. No coddling here, only tough love.  Get off your ass and start learning!  You started a new life, your old identity both your self identity – the way you perceive yourself and the way others perceived you, well that “virtual” self has not since passed away.  The grieving process you are going through is no different than if you lost the closest loved one you have ever known. HOWEVER look at this as an opportunity to fashion a new life in a new way with no restrictions.  A big part of that is pursuing your passions, training your mind to do whatever it is you do best and are PASSIONATE about.  In terms of the silly things like communications, computer access, environmental controls, even blowing off some steam through accessible video gaming, or traveling the world… leave those things up to us.  We  at Broadened Horizons @Broadened are passionate about empowering you through independence to create POSSIBILITIES…  For you to do whatever it is you do best, but from there it is up to you!  Tools are just that, tools until you employ them to do something.

Take college and university courses online completely free

October 22, 2013 | by Anonymous

photo credit: School Of Open Workshop WMDE / Elly Köpf / CC BY-SA

 309K  1219  1091 reddit83 googleplus266

In recent years massive open online courses (MOOCs) have become a trend in online education. The term was coined in 2008 by David Cormier, manager of web communications and innovations at the University of Prince Edward Island. The first MOOC was created the previous year, at Utah State University.

MOOCs are designed like college courses but are available to anyone anywhere in the world, at no cost. You do not receive a college credit, but you will receive a certificate of completion when you complete all coursework. The courses span dozens of subjects and are taught by some of the leaders in those fields. The courses are designed to be interesting, fun and rigorous; the courses are not just in science, and not just in English.

Coursera is perhaps the most well-known of the online education facilitators. Their latest numbers indicate that they have 17,000,000 enrollments from students representing 190 countries. There are 240,000
students in their most popular class. Coursera has over 400 courses in more than 20 categories, created by 85 Universities from 16 countries. Their courses are available in 12 different languages.

EdX is another non-profit course site created by founding partners Harvard and MIT and based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. EdX offers MOOCs and interactive online classes in subjects including law, history, science, engineering, business, social sciences, computer science, public health, and artificial intelligence (AI). It has partnerships with tertiary institutions in the U.S., Canada, Australia, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, Belgium, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Japan, China and Korea.

MIT has their own open courseware, where most of the materials used in the teaching of almost all of MIT’s subjects are available on the Web, free of charge. They have more than 2,000 courses available. Stanford also has their own online and open courses. These are great options if you prefer to work at your own pace, as compared to structured classes like those offered at Coursera and EdX.

European institutions are also getting in on the act. Germany-based Iversity offers courses in both English and German and the first courses went online in October this year. Future Learn is a subsidiary of the British Open University and is currently in its beta stage. It already has partnerships with universities across Britain, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. The courses will begin this coming November.

For those looking to learn a language Duolingo offers completely free language education. If you’re interested in learning a valuable skill CodeAcademy teaches programming and coding in online, free and interactive lessons.

Other sites, like Open Culture, are not affiliated with tertiary institutions. On Open Culture, the editor finds the free courses and audio books on the web and hosts them on the site. The courses are audio & video and can be downloaded straight to a computer or mp3 player.

This is by no means a complete list of all site and institutions that offer free online courses. http://www.mooc-list.com/ has many more listed.

– See more at: http://www.iflscience.com/technology/take-college-and-university-courses-online-completely-free#sthash.lSxUmZfr.dpuf

Excellent 2012 Special Needs Trust Handbook for Disability-related Trustees

Here is an excellent 2012 Handbook for Special Needs or Disability Trustees of First-Party (self-funded) Special Needs Trusts as well as Third-Party funded non-grantor complex Supplemental Needs Trusts.

I Read through the Important Part so You Do Not Have To, at least if you are disabled due to injury and received SSDI.

For a third-party funded trust which is a non-grantor or also sometimes referred to in tax circles as a complex trust, the only requirements is an annual accounting provided by the trustee to the beneficiary and to file a tax return of a 1041. The annual accounting could be in the form of a simple ledger or even check ledger with the amount of each income and expense and who it was paid to.
Since this should qualify as a “Special Disability Trust”, the trust gets a $3800 “personal” tax deduction on its “earnings”.  Money transferred into the trust has already had its taxes paid and is not considered income, income would be in the form of interest and return on investments.
If the trust owned real estate and received rent payments, those rent payments would be earned income in taxes would have to be paid on them, minus any expenses.  Again this does not apply at this time but possibly could in the future.
Or obviously the rare case where the trust owned the interest in a business and consequently earned dividends, then the trust has to pay taxes on those dividends, etc. although none of that applies in this case at this time.
I am not a lawyer.  Talk to yours for more details.

Review: Accessibility on some of the latest Apple products (iPhone 5 / Macbook Air 2012)


Review: Accessibility on the 
latest Apple, Inc. and Mac Friendly Products

Here at Broadened Horizons, we view ourselves as a company and culture dedicated to meeting the needs of our community, and making accessibility an option for all no matter what your preference or ability. In our office we have employees using Mac or Windows based systems, based on their preference or sometimes both simultaneously if there is a need. We also have team members with iOS devices and/or Android devices. Our culture reflects the diversity of opinion of our community; each is loyal to their brand and preference, even though this may cause unique and differing challenges for a user with upper extremity limitations.   As the fall and holiday shopping season gets into full swing, and new devices are released for the tech hungry consumer, I’d like to take a look at the flavor of the month from our friends at Apple, Inc. Recently, I purchased the 11.6” Macbook Air, upgraded to their latest operating system Mountain Lion OS 10.8, purchased the newest release of Nuance’s Dragon Dictate software, and upgraded my iPhone 4S running iOS 5 to a brand new iPhone 5 with their latest operating system iOS 6. I wanted to take a look at how someone in the Broadened Horizons community can get the most out of their Mac experience.

Part 1: 11.6” Macbook Air 2012 running OS 10.8 Mountain Lion (using the RoboArm Mount and QuadMouse controller) As someone who is on the go, I wanted something that is powerful and highly portable. This is a full-featured laptop, which is incredibly lightweight. Once switched on it boots up at an incredibly fast speed, and apps load much more quickly than I am even used to. Using the RoboArm mounting system, the MacBook Air can be held firmly in place for long periods of time whether still or in motion without worry of damage from an accidental fall. The battery life is good; I’ve seen other computers with a longer lasting battery but none as portable and light. The worst part of the MacBook Air is the aluminum case. It is prone to scratches, especially in the process of transferring it onto the mount if not handled with care. I would suggest getting one of the third party skins available to protect the shell.   For persons with upper extremity limitations I recommend using the QuadMouse as a mouse interface. The QuadMouse is plug and play with Mac, and the adjustable speed controls allow flexibility and ease. If I am just surfing the web I will set the speed faster to quickly move around the screen and click. If I am working on photo editing or design I can set the speed slower and hive pixel perfect precision and control. The screen resolution is excellent, although glad can be an issue in certain light, Overall, any concerns I had about the 11.6” screen size being too small are completely gone.
Mountain Lion (10.8.x) like every Mac Operating system is a user friendly easy to operate interface that has a hefty amount of features. In terms of Accessibility it still leaves much to be desired, but with some third party software and hardware you can work and play with the best. This newest OS incorporates many of its new features from popular features of Apple’s mobile operating system. Now you can find Notes, Reminders, and iMessage, as well as a Siri-esque Dictation app. Mountain Lion also delivers support for Apple’s cloud-based iCloud service, allowing you multi-device seamless access to your documents, photos and more.  Mountain Lion even keeps working while the computer sleeps, downloading software updates, messages, mail, and much else while the laptop’s lid is closed and its lights are off, so the system is up-to-date the moment it wakes up. For my purposes of style, function, portability, speed, and power, the 2012 MacBook Air is an excellent buy.

Part 2: Dragon Dictate 3 for Mac (with USB Flexarm Mic)

Although Apple made a noble attempt with their new Dictation app, it is pretty much useless. For users without the dexterity to use a standard keyboard your best bet is Dragon Dictate. Dragon has been the industry standard bearer in computer voice control for good reason. Their latest offering for Mac is a huge leap forward. The recognition engine developed by Nuance is more than a slight improvement. Out of the box you will get fairly decent accuracy. My recommendation is to do as much training as is available. I spent an entire day training Dragon Dictate like a puppy getting ready for Westminster. The results were phenomenal. You have the option of using your iPhone, or a Bluetooth device as a dictation input but I wouldn’t recommend it. If you’re looking for complete hands free independence, grab a USB Flexarm Microphone. You don’t have to worry about the battery of the Bluetooth device or, the iPhone app being interrupted by a call or crashing. With this latest release by Nuance any Mac user will be impressed.

Part 3:

iPhone 5 (using the Vocalize! 100% Hands-free Device Control)

With the release of iOS 6, for the iPhone Apple really improved on what was arguably the sleekest mobile operating system around.  This release is available for all current models of iPhone (3gs, 4, 4S, and 5.) For persons who are unable to manipulate the capacitive touch screen, owning an iPhone to date has been an exercise in frustration. The Vocalize 100% Hands-free Bluetooth control has allowed those with ALS, moderate to high-level quadriplegia, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, and other dexterity limitations to talk, text, email, browse, and play on a wide variety of smartphones.   Even with this innovation, the iPhone has been one of the most difficult devices maximize function. While most tablets, computers and smartphones operating on Google’s Android Mobile OS can easily be accessed by a variety of switch interfaces and other controls, iOS is much more difficult to gain access.  Apple’s Built-in AssistiveTouch is a feature that lets you enter Multi-Touch gestures using one finger or a touch stick with a capacitive tip such as the Touch Input MouthStick, It also supports the use of adaptive input devices, like headsets and switches, the result is an acceptable, although somewhat diminished user experience.   The greatest enhancement and main attraction for new iPhone users is Siri. The industry leader in mobile voice recognition is much more than dictation app. Siri is a mobile personal assistant that makes hands free a whole lot more fun. Siri is only available for iPhone models 4s and 5, so be cautious when shopping for a phone. Due to the limitations of the 3gs, and 4, the chip and the Internet speed can’t handle Siri.   Activating Siri with the Vocalize! Is as simple as saying “Telephone.” Siri automatically recognizes the Vocalize! once it is paired, and will respond whenever you say your keyword. The main drawback is that Siri operates from the mobile data connection so if you are in an area without consistent 3G or 4G service, you may want to disable Siri and go with an app like Vlingo, or just consider a different phone altogether.   Having tested the latest release of Siri using the Vocalize! System for a few days, I have to say I am definitely impressed. The previous version of Siri on iOS 5 was often times clumsy, clunky, inaccurate, and many of the advertised features didn’t work well. In this newest version, you can talk, text, set appointments and play media with ease, you can launch apps, get movie showtimes and theaters, check the weather, even sports scores using Siri. Apple notes that Siri is still in “Beta” with more upgrades and improvements coming. I look forward to seeing how Siri might better work within more apps to give greater device control.   As far as hardware, I have to say that the iPhone 5, is a superb enhancement for existing iPhone users, or other phone enthusiasts meeting iOS for the first time. It’s the lightest iPhone, even though it’s longer and has a bigger screen. I compared it to the newest Moto RAZR, which is a super-lightweight Android model and they are pretty much the same in terms of density. The screen size has been lengthened to 4”, which is closer to the industry standard, but by no means matches some of the other models out there, which are pushing 5” of screen real estate. For me was much appreciated after a year with the 4S screen which although extremely crisp was not big enough to truly enjoy a movie or music video.  With the Cell Phone Mini Mount or Wheelchair Seat frame Mount the iPhone can be securely positioned wherever it is most needed at any given time.

If you are lucky enough to live in an area with 4G LTE this phone will put your home Wi-Fi to shame. My friends who have been riding 4G LTE with their Android phones have been spoiled with lightning fast data, while iPhone owners have been stuck in 3G until now. Anyone making the switch from a previous iOS device will start noticing that staying on LTE versus Wi-Fi might actually produce faster results. The drawback is that most carriers have fairly expensive data rates and limitations (Sprint has Unlimited Data for the iPhone). 4G LTE, in my tests, ran anywhere from 10 to 20Mbps, which is up to twice as fast as my wireless router’s connection at home.

Using your iPhone 5 as a personal hot spot for a laptop or other device produces similar results, so you may want to consider signing up for the Data tethering service with your carrier. I used the LTE connection with my MacBook Air and had no trouble streaming high def video while surfing the net. Overall if you are partial to Apple, the iPhone 5 is worth the upgrade.

For more information about the Apple Products including the MacBook Air, and  iPhone 5 please visit Apple, Inc. at www.apple.com   For more information about Accessible Apple/Mac Friendly Products including the software, mounting and input solutions listed above please visit www.broadenedhorizons.com

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Release : November 4, 2016
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Production Company : Universal Pictures, Artina Films, Fade to Black Productions, Focus Features.
Language : English.
Runtime : 116 min.
Genre : Drama, Thriller.

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