WorldChanging: Tools, Models and Ideas for Building a Bright Green Future: Redesigning Buses: "Sightline Institute's blog The Daily Score recently noted that people always prefer streetcars and other light rail to buses. They aren't just being subjective, either--history backs them up. In 2001 the Denver Business Journal wrote of new light rail systems being mobbed in Denver, Dallas, Salt Lake City and St. Louis because they were so much more popular than forecasted, saying 'In Dallas, ridership on a new rail line was three times greater than ridership on an express bus that used the same route' and quoting government officials who were realizing 'How people respond to rail is different than how they respond to bus'.
So, why the mysterious preference for light rail? Two words: Better design."
Friday, 21 December 2007
Wednesday, 19 December 2007
This is exciting news...I really hope that it turns into action. Of course I applaud the move. Although I must admit that I smiled, when you see how a politician announces this...as though it is a huge favour, and we all need to be suitably thankful. The reality is that if access is not provided to places of culture, then they are in direct contravention of (their own) laws, and open to court action.
P Jordan on people with disabilities: "12 December 2007
The Ministry of Arts and Culture has pledged R162 million over the next three years to make cultural facilities accessible to persons with disabilities. The plan was announced by Minister Pallo Jordan as part of the government's plan to improve the plight of people with disabilities.
He said the funds earmarked for the three forthcoming years are R39 million for 2008, R43 million for 2009 and R80 million for 2010. 'We have detailed information on the provision that has been made for the upgrading of security and access for person with disabilities at the department's public entities.'
'These would include places like museums, playhouses and other institutions that bring people together to not only enjoy artistic expressions but witness and experience the heritage of our beautiful country,' said Minister Jordan. In fact, buildings and structures built since 1994 have disabled access, while older ones have had to be renovated and adapted.
At present the department is in the process of ascertaining the requirements of the public entities in terms of security and accessibility. A service provider will be appointed in the near future to report on the current status. 'The upgrade of security and accessibility for persons with disabilities is a priority to make the arts accessible to all the people of the country,' said Minister Jordan."
Tuesday, 11 December 2007
Airlines warned not to bar disabled | The Australian: "'It's fine for low-cost or budget airlines to reduce services,' human rights commissioner Graeme Innes said yesterday. 'But not carrying passengers with disabilities can't be part of those reductions and to do so is against the law. 'As commissioner, I intend to ensure wherever I can that airlines meet their obligations to all passengers, not just passengers without disabilities.' Tiger is offering affected passengers a full refund and says the problem stems from the inability of its third-party ground handler to obtain special hydraulic devices capable of lifting wheelchairs on to planes. It did not expect the lifters to be available at all destinations until the end of February. Tiger's application comes as a report, due to be released this week by the PIAC, says an analysis of the experiences of 110 airline passengers demonstrates a systemic failure of legislation introduced in 2002 to set standards for disabled access to public transport. The report finds recent development and application of airline policy, and changes to baggage handling, have made disabled access more difficult, particularly for people with motorised or bigger wheelchairs. 'Some passengers who travelled independently for many years now find themselves barred from travel or facing the imposition of unreasonable conditions,' it says."
Saturday, 8 December 2007
Does Edna Molewa, Premier of the North West province, really believe what is being said here??! The reality is almost the complete reverse of what is being claimed here. It does make me quite frustrated when political figures try to score points by basically saying untruths(although there again...how can you tell when a politician is lying? Their lips are moving)...
E Molewa: International Disability Day: "As a nation we have a proud tradition where people with disabilities were integrated into society, viewed as part of us, and somewhat privileged members of communities as they tended to get the attention of everyone."
Wednesday, 5 December 2007
Wonderful story of real men playing a real game...the likes of which I doubt we shall ever see on a Rugby pitch again...there would be no place in a modern Rugby team for the likes of Willie John, Gareth Edwards, Phil Bennet, JPR & JJ. An interesting statistic: the average weight of the 1997 British Lions Backs was more than the average weight of the 1974 British Lions forwards...makes you think... However, is it a better game now? I don't think so. It is quicker...but no longer is there a position for all shapes and sizes.
Caught in time - Times Online: "The tourists then went off to the Kruger National Park for three days while their hosts licked their wounds. The Lions took two planes, one for the players and the other stacked with beer. The second plane came back a day later for a refill."
Friday, 30 November 2007
I posted this on my Flickr site a while ago, but have only just worked out how to link them...I will post some more from there shortly
Monday, 26 November 2007
I hope that this means that something will finally happen with regard to telecommunications in South Africa. We basically have a state run monopoly and therefore incredibly high charges, and very poor service - just like the UK was 20 years ago withBT . Then competition came along (Mercury, etc.) and hey presto, prices came down, and service went up. Internet connectivity can be so useful to many people with disabilities.
A Erwin: The Broadband Infraco Bill: "This broadband capacity is so strategic to our economy that the State is intervening through the formation of Broadband Infraco. The intervention seeks to address the high cost of broadband in South Africa, by making infrastructure in the national backbone and international connectivity available at cost related prices. The high cost of broadband in this country, and the limited access of this technology to all South Africans, hampers our country's participation in the global economy. Telecommunications and internet connection charges have been identified as key barriers to doing business in South Africa, and attracting more investment into the country. If nothing is done about this, our country will get left behind, and we may miss out on key investment opportunities which could further accelerate economic growth, and create more employment opportunities for our people. "
Tuesday, 20 November 2007
Woo hoo! I have ordered my new wheelchair! I was looking for a "rigid / folding" wheelchair but as the Quickie Revolution is being discontinued, and the cost of a locally supplied wheelchair was extraordinarily expensive, I am importing an Activator from Mobility Vision in Ireland. I am hoping that the chair may grab people's attention here, and we may be able to get some more clients for them in South Africa. Presently there appears to be little choice...
James Roche, the owner / manager has been very attentive to my needs, and I am looking forward to having a wheelchair which is not going to destroy the inside of my car...
Sunday, 18 November 2007
THE MANS GUIDE TO FEMALE ENGLISH
- We need = I want
- It's your decision = The correct decision should be obvious by now
- Do what you want = You'll pay for this later
- We need to talk = I need to complain
- Sure...Go ahead = I don't want you to
- I'm not upset = Of course I'm upset, you moron!
- You're ... so manly = You need a shave and you sweat a lot
- You're certainly attentive tonight = Is sex all you ever think about?
- I'm not emotional! And I'm not over reacting! = I've got my period
- Be romantic, turn out the lights = I have flabby thighs
- This kitchen is so inconvenient = I want a new house
- I want new curtains = and carpeting, and furniture, and wallpaper.....
- I need wedding shoes = the other 40 pairs are the wrong shade of white
- Hang the picture there = NO, I mean hang it there!
- I heard a noise = I noticed you were almost asleep
- Do you love me? = I'm going to ask for something expensive
- How much do you love me? = I did something today you're really not going to like
- I'll be ready in a minute = Kick off your shoes and find a good game on T.V.
- Is my butt fat? = Tell me I'm beautiful
- You have to learn to communicate = Just agree with me
- Are you listening to me!? = [Too late, you're dead.]
- Yes = No
- No = No
- Maybe = No
- I'm sorry = You'll be sorry
- Do you like this recipe? = It's easy to fix, so you'd better get used to it
- Was that the baby?= Why don't you get out of bed and walk him until he goes to sleep
- I'm not yelling! = Yes I am yelling because I think this is important
- All we're going to buy is a soap dish = It goes without saying that we're stopping at the cosmetics department, the shoe department, I need to look at a few new purses, and those pink sheets would look great in the bedroom and did you bring your checkbook?
THE ANSWER TO A FEMALE SAYING "WHAT'S WRONG?".....
- The same old thing = Nothing
- Nothing = Everything
- Everything = My PMS is acting up
- Nothing, really = It's just that you're such a pain in the butt
- I don't want to talk about it = Go away, I'm still building up steam
THE WOMEN'S GUIDE TO MEN'S ENGLISH
- "I'm hungry" = I'm hungry
- "I'm sleepy" = I'm sleepy
- "I'm tired" = I'm tired
- "Do you want to go to a movie?" = I'd eventually like to have sex with you
- "Can I take you out to dinner?" = I'd eventually like to have sex with you
- "Can I call you sometime?" = I'd eventually like to have sex with you
- "May I have this dance?" = I'd eventually like to have sex with you
- "Nice dress!" = Nice cleavage!
- "You look tense, let me give you a massage." = I want to fondle you
- "What's wrong?" = I don't see why you are making such a big deal out of this
- "What's wrong?" = What meaningless self-inflicted psychological trauma are you going through now?
- "What's wrong?" = I guess sex tonight is out of the question
- "I'm bored" = Do you want to have sex?
- "I love you" = Let's have sex now
- "I love you, too" = Okay, I said it...we'd better have sex now!
- "Yes, I like the way you cut your hair" = I liked it better before
- "Yes, I like the way you cut your hair" = $50 and it doesn't look any different!
- "Let's talk" = I am trying to impress you by showing that I am a deep person and maybe then you'd like to have sex with me
- "Will you marry me?" = I want to make it illegal for you to have sex with other guys
- "I like that one better" (while shopping) = Pick any freakin' dress and let's go home!!!
Tuesday, 6 November 2007
This is nice to see (even for a Scotsman!). Here the winning SA Rugby captain John Smit is seen holding the 2 most precious things in his life right now - the William Webb Ellis Trophy, and his daughter. But there is another important feature; look at his wrist - he is wearing the green Stand Tall Wrist Band as promoted by the South Africa Quad & Para Association. Good to see...but then again, it is widely recognised that hookers are the most thoughtful of all rugby players (along with intelligent, good looking...modest, - did I mention where I played??)
Thursday, 18 October 2007
This is quite a different slant on the figures as compared to what is being reported in the local press...where some small improvements in some of the figures are being used to show the 'success' of the programmes here... But this is very worrying.
BBC NEWS | Africa | South Africa 'losing Aids battle': "South Africa is in danger of losing the battle against HIV/Aids, the United Nations children's agency has warned. Unicef's South Africa representative, Macharia Kamau, said infection and death rates were outpacing treatment. This was having a devastating effect on children whose parents died of Aids, and sent out a dire message for the future, he said. Mr Kamau said if present trends continued, there could be five million orphans in South Africa by 2015."
Saturday, 6 October 2007
India ratifies UN convention on rights of disabled: "India ratifies UN convention on rights of disabled United Nations | October 02, 2007 1:05:16 AM IST India has ratified a UN convention to promote and protect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of those with disabilities as also respect for their inherent dignity. External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee Monday deposited with the UN the instrument of ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities adopted by the UN General Assembly on Dec 13 last year. The adoption of the convention 'to promote, protect, and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity' followed four years of intense negotiations. The convention marks a major step toward changing the perception of disability and ensures that societies recognise that all people must be provided with the opportunities to lead a life to their fullest potential, the permanent mission of India to the UN said in a press release. India is committed to the elimination of barriers that persons with disabilities face and the Constitution of India implicitly mandates an inclusive society for all, including those with disabilities, it added."
Friday, 5 October 2007
BBC NEWS | Health | Stems cells 'slow nerve disease': "Stems cells 'slow nerve disease'
Stem cells show potential for treating the debilitating nerve condition motor neurone disease, research suggests. A US team found injecting rats with stem cells delayed the onset of MND. Writing in the Transplantation, the researchers from Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions warned clinical use of stem cells was still a long way off."
BBC NEWS | Health | Find 'offers motor neurone hope': "Find 'offers motor neurone hope'
Scientists are hopeful that they have found a way to halt the progression of motor neurone disease (MND). A team at Bath University discovered a causal link between the gene involved in the formation of blood vessels and the development of some forms of MND. Mutant versions of the gene's product - angiogenin - are toxic to motor neurones, so blocking this process may stop the disease, they say."
Sunday, 30 September 2007
Trekker - HumanWare assistive technologies for vision: "A GPS system for the Blind and visually impaired A revolutionary system that uses GPS and digital maps to help blind persons find their way in urban and rural areas. Trekker users can pinpoint exactly where they are, learn about area attractions, and find out how to get to specific destinations. GPS lets them know their location, anywhere in the world, with continually growing precision. Fitting in the palm of the hand, Trekker offers the visually impaired greater freedom, raising their confidence in their ability to travel near or far, for business or pleasure. It also helps them access and enjoy the most valuable and interesting opportunities their surroundings have to offer."
Monday, 17 September 2007
BBC NEWS | Technology | Technique links words to signing: "Technique links words to signing By Geoff Adams-Spink Age & disability correspondent, BBC News website Photo of the signing avatar The avatar was developed by the University of East Anglia Technology that translates spoken or written words into British Sign Language (BSL) has been developed by researchers at IBM. The system, called SiSi (Say It Sign It) was created by a group of students in the UK. SiSi will enable deaf people to have simultaneous sign language interpretations of meetings and presentations. It uses speech recognition to animate a digital character or avatar. IBM says its technology will allow for interpretation in situations where a human interpreter is not available. It could also be used to provide automatic signing for television, radio and telephone calls."
Tuesday, 4 September 2007
Weird Science: "According to a 2001 Gallup poll, 47 percent of all Americans accept a strict creationist view, and only 12 percent accept a strict scientific view of evolution. And the creationists have tried--with some success--to get their views inserted in school curricula across the country, in states like Kansas and Georgia. This despite the fact that nearly all scientists with a specialty in the natural sciences--about 98 percent of them--accept evolution as an established fact."
Posted by Guy at 15:38
Monday, 3 September 2007
The Nth Degree Catalog: Advocacy Shirts: "SAME STRUGGLE CLOSER LOOKsame struggle shirt image see text description below ORDER IT DESCRIPTION: Black shirt with white handwritten message on front saying 'Same struggle, Different Difference.'"
Thursday, 30 August 2007
With inclusion at its heart, London will transform lives - Times Online: "With inclusion at its heart, London will transform lives With five years to go, our correspondent says the capital will provide a platform for disabled athletes to effect real social change Tanni Grey-Thompson So the Games are coming home. Today, exactly five years before our Paralympic Games begin, the London 2012 road show is completing its summer UK tour at Stoke Mandeville, near Aylesbury. It was here, in 1948, that a wheelchair competition involving injured Second World War veterans gave birth to the modern Paralympic movement. Sir Ludwig Guttmann, the pioneering neurosurgeon, who came up with the idea of sport as an aid to rehabilitation, was inspired as much by budget constraints as he was by social altruism. The soldiers were proving a drain on his hospital’s stretched post-war resources. A similar sense of pragmatism lay behind my advice to the Games Select Committee, shortly after the bid win. I told them that I couldn’t comment on the proposed Paralympic performance model; it would depend how many of our forces were injured in Iraq and Afghanistan. The collective eyebrow-raising was priceless, but false sensitivity is a waste of time when you’re faced with a win-win situation."
Saturday, 25 August 2007
My favourite podcast has been the Skeptics Guide to the Universe (even if they cannot spell sceptic properly). I listen to the show each week, and find the conversations very interesting & stimulating. It is quite odd listening regularly to these type of podcasts, as you do get to know the different characters involved. So I was quite saddened to learn of the passing of one of the "sceptical rogues"; Perry DeAngelis. I did not agree with all his politics (as he was a quite bit more "to the right" of my own), but I always found his comments amusing, and stimulating. Even though I never met him, I will miss him passing, and my thoughts are with the rest of the panel from SGU, his family & his friends.
Tuesday, 21 August 2007
There were a number of different people abusing the parking bays in and around the Harbour at Hermanus. I was not able to take photos of them all...as I could not park!! If you are, or happen to know, the owner of CA 658 899, and the diver or passenger is disabled then could you suggest that their permit is displayed when parking in a designated accessible parking bay. If the occupants are not disabled, then perhaps we need to point out that stupidity does not qualify...
Thursday, 2 August 2007
www.skillsportal.co.za | employment_equity Disability is a thorn in the side of the skills development strategy
www.skillsportal.co.za | employment_equity Disability is a thorn in the side of the skills development strategy: "Disability is a thorn in the side of the skills development strategy
By Ivor Blumenthal - CEO of the Services Seta
It is difficult to publicly admit. Seven years into the Skills Development rollout it is apparent that even where we are meeting our paper targets established by the National Skills Development Strategy, where Setas are tasked to ensure that 4% of our benefits is spent on people with disabilities, we are nevertheless failing people with disabilities terribly, especially those with mental disabilities."
Saturday, 28 July 2007
- Commenting on a complaint from a Mr. Arthur Purdey about a large gas bill, a spokesman for North West Gas said, "We agree it was rather high for the time of year. It's possible Mr. Purdey has been charged for the gas used up during the explosion that destroyed his house." (The Daily Telegraph)
- Police reveal that a woman arrested for shoplifting had a whole salami in her underwear. When asked why, she said it was because she was missing her Italian boyfriend. (The Manchester Evening News)
- Irish police are being handicapped in a search for a stolen van, because they cannot issue a description. It's a Special Branch vehicle and they don't want the public to know what it looks like. (The Guardian)
- A young girl who was blown out to sea on a set of inflatable teeth was rescued by a man on an inflatable lobster. A coast guard spokesman commented, "This sort of thing is all too common". (The Times)
- At the height of the gale, the harbourmaster radioed a coastguard and asked him to estimate the wind speed. He replied he was sorry, but he didn't have a gauge. However, if it was any help, the wind had just blown his Land Rover off the cliff. (Aberdeen Evening Express)
Wednesday, 25 July 2007
Daily Times - Leading News Resource of Pakistan - Pakistan’s first Internet caf� for the blind inaugurated
Daily Times - Leading News Resource of Pakistan - Pakistan’s first Internet caf� for the blind inaugurated: "Pakistan’s first Internet caf�for the blind inaugurated
ISLAMABAD: The country’s first-ever Internet caf�for the visually impaired was inaugurated here on Tuesday. The project was funded by the World Bank and the Pakistan Foundation Fighting Blindness (PFFB).
The WB granted Rs 1.5 million to the facility that promises to help bridge the technological gap between the blind and those blessed with eyesight. The caf�would also link national and international blind communities.
IT Helpline Project Director Zahid Abdullah said the caf�involved the use of the JAWS software that provides voice output for every command given to the computer, enabling the blind to know what their fingers are doing. Aqil Sajjad, the first visually impaired Pakistani pursuing his PhD at Harvard introduced the software in Islamabad in 1999. The software was developed in the US 20 years ago."
Rolling Rains Report:: US Census Reports Releases Statistics on Disability: "US Census Reports Releases Statistics on Disability
U.S. Census Bureau releases disability statistics
The Census Bureau recently released a Fact Sheet on Disabilities
in preparation for the 17th Anniversary of the Americans with
Disabilities Act. Updated numbers show the following:
* 51.2 million people have some level of disability
(18 % of population).
* 32.5 million have a severe disability (12% of whole population).
* 4 million children have a disability (or 11% of children
ages 6 to 14)
To view the entire fact sheet, go to:
Monday, 23 July 2007
Sunday, 22 July 2007
this is a very good article, which could be written about any country I feel, certainly the situation in South Africa is even worse. I hope that the soon to be launched African Employers' Forum on Disability will skirt to tackle such situations.
BBC NEWS | UK | Magazine | Who cares: "Having a degree and excellent skills count for little if you are disabled and live in residential care. Why?"
Wednesday, 20 June 2007
Putting people first � UK usability market to grow 20% in 2007 - new report: "The UK market for usability and accessibility will grow by 20% in 2007 to a value of around �180 million, according to a new report published this week by E-consultancy.
Research for the 2007 Usability and Accessibility Buyer’s Guide found that increased competition in the online marketplace is driving investment in a user-centred design approach"
Wednesday, 6 June 2007
The ONE Campaign | Issues: "MORE AND BETTER AID
International assistance saves lives, directly helping and empowering individuals to help themselves. Increasing international assistance by an amount equal to just ONE percent of the U.S. budget will:
* Reduce by half the number of people in the world who suffer from hunger.
* Provide free access to primary education for 77 million out-of-school children.
* Provide access to clean water to 450 million people and basic sanitation to 700 million people.
* Prevent 5.4 million young children from dying of poverty-related illnesses each year.
* Save 16,000 lives a day by fighting HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria."
Thursday, 17 May 2007
www.skillsportal.co.za | employment_equity Manyi believes that racism still prevalent in the workplace
This bit of news is really frightening. I am not sure which is worse; the fact that People with Disabilities only comprise 0.7% of the workforce...or that the figure has dropped by 30% in 4 years!? I am furious that this is being under-reported. Why was Jimmy Manyi allowed to concentrate on just one aspect of employment equity, which by comparison is streets ahead of Disability. We, as a country, are failing People with Disabilities... There needs to be a mind shift in corporate SA, and the wider society. One thing that I believe would help is an active African Employers Forum on Disability. I can only say "watch this space"! More news as soon as I can...
www.skillsportal.co.za | employment_equity Manyi believes that racism still prevalent in the workplace: "The representation of people with disabilities in the workplace had also gone down since 2000. After starting at .9% in 2000, the representation of people with disabilities had risen to 1% in 2002 but was back down at .7% in 2006. "
Wednesday, 9 May 2007
Another interesting use of modern technology... I don't think of myself as a geek...but I do get a kick out of how different new technologies can be used to remove barriers that have in some cases been put there by other (older) technologies.
BBC NEWS | Technology | Smart hat brings play to disabled: "A 'smart' cap that allows disabled children to 'drive' radio-controlled cars and boats, has been launched.
The Dream-Racer device has four motion sensors that detect small movements of the head, which are then fed wirelessly to control the toy's direction.
The UK invention has also been adapted to allow disabled people to play games on Sony's PlayStation consoles."
Monday, 7 May 2007
Hmm; a counter point to the previous post, Alison was able to point out some issues with VeeSee. I decided to do some more research (I apologise for posting before doing co earlier!). I think her comment to my previous post is well founded. Perhaps, as I come form a country ahead there is precious little sign language available, that I tend to get excited whenever I see that more may be more accessible to a wider audience...
Noesis: VeeSee: "VeeSee is a website that has been launched in the UK by an interpreter, Susie Grant. The site is operating under the Deafeatures Ltd.
Before I go any further, I really want to be positive about online development, but I'm really struggling here. More about that later. The site has a very strange mix of web 1.0 content and design, mixed with a web 2.0 approach through a social network. On the face of it, the site offers:"
BBC NEWS | Technology | IPTV for deaf people takes off: "A new web-based television service, or IPTV, for British Sign Language (BSL) users has recently launched in the UK.
VeeSee TV airs news and other programmes in BSL and is available 24 hours a day.
The channel can be viewed on a computer or via a set-top box and is the brainchild of BSL interpreter Susie Grant."
BBC NEWS | Technology | Motion-sensitive laptop developed: "Motion-sensitive laptop developed
Tilting the laptop moves a cursor
A motion-sensitive laptop which can be controlled much like a Nintendo Wii remote is under development.
The tablet PC laptop has been adapted to respond to a user when moving the machine up or down, side to side, or forwards and backwards.
It is hoped the BT Balance system can help people with disabilities or the elderly, for whom using a keyboard or mouse can be difficult."
Sunday, 6 May 2007
This is just madness! In a World where the conflict of different religions are causing such issues for us all, we should be looking to the different religious leaders to be trying to build bridges. Still, given my own experiences of religious leaders, I am not at all surprised, but still rather saddened, that they can be so thoughtless... Religions (of all denominations) have much to be ashamed of in this world. This just adds to their list...maybe their God will forgive them... but I don't believe we should.
BBC NEWS | Europe | Unholy row at clergy soccer game: "A friendship-building football match between Muslim and Christian clergy in Norway was called off after a row over the participation of women players.
Muslim Imams had refused to play against women because it went against their beliefs about close physical contact with the opposite sex.
But when the church decided to drop its women players, the priests' team captain walked out in protest."
Wednesday, 2 May 2007
IOL: Blind pilot flies halfway round the world: "Sydney - A blind British pilot landed his microlight aircraft in Sydney on Monday to complete a record-breaking flight halfway around the world.
Miles Hilton-Barber left London on March 7 and flew more than 21 000km to raise funds to fight blindness in developing countries.
'It's the fulfilment of an amazing dream,' the 58-year-old adventurer said after touching down at Sydney's Bankstown airport. 'I've been wanting to do this flight for about four years.'
Hilton-Barber flies with a sighted co-pilot but relies on speech output from his navigation instruments to steer his course, directing the plane from a wireless keyboard."
Monday, 30 April 2007
Hmm; an interesting, thought provoking article. But I do feel that the author slightly underplays the significance that the world's only living statesman played in all this: Mandela (or Madiba, as he is affectionately known by all here).
South Africa and Iraq: the missing example David Mikhail - openDemocracy: "The successful transition to democracy in South Africa could be an inspiration to Iraqis struggling with their own legacy of violence and dictatorship, says David Mikhail."
Wednesday, 25 April 2007
BBC NEWS | Business | Africa aid target 'may be missed': "The European Union (EU) set a target for its 15 established members to give 0.51% of Gross National Income (GNI) in aid by 2010 and 0.7% by 2013.
In 2006 the UK provided �6.85bn in aid which amounts to 0.52% of Gross National Income."
When one realizes that a defective lift can be a complete barrier to access for many people with disabilities, or worse, if they are defective then potentially they could strand people on upper floors, with no means of escape; then we should be absolutely horrified at this finding. It is essential that action is taken by the authorities to address this serious, dangerous problem. this work was done in Durban, but I am sure other cities in South Africa would be no better. I will follow this with great interest.
Labour on defective lifts and buildings in Durban: "24 April 2007
A random survey of buildings in parts of Durban's inner city and surrounding suburbs shows that 67% have lifts that are defective or not functioning.
The findings of the study also show that a total of 33 buildings out of 49 have lifts that are not functioning or defective. Sixty seven percent of the buildings' lifts have broken down completely, stalled frequently or are defective.
Fifty three percent of the lifts were not functioning at all from less than a year to 20 years. Approximately 20% have not worked for a period of between four to five years, and 8% between 10 to 11 years with complaints by residents disregarded by the owners or bodies corporate."
Tuesday, 24 April 2007
BBC NEWS | Health | Research opens way for bionic eye: "Research opens way for bionic eye
A bionic eye could potentially restore sight
US scientists have opened the way for the development of a 'bionic eye'.
They used electrodes to stimulate an area of the brain that processes visual information, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reported."
Monday, 23 April 2007
this is really worrying; I love rugby, even though it was the root cause of me becoming a wheelchair user. But this tells me that there is something really wrong with Rugby in South Africa. Some of the stories that are coming out are really frightening & I do feel that something needs to be done. I have heard of horror stories from my sons' schools of coaches playing injured players, suggesting that children take substances to 'improve their body mass' & even paying students to injure opponents on the field. I don't think that it is so much a problem with the laws (Rugby has laws, not rules) of the game; but more an attitude problem which starts at school level, and permeates through the whole Rugby culture here.
By Kashiefa Ajam, Melanie Peters and Tash Reddy, Pretoria News online
Rugby in South Africa is in danger of becoming a "paraplegic factory". The rugby season has only just begun, but already serious on-field injuries have cost one player his life.
Sunday, 22 April 2007
allAfrica.com: South Africa: 2010 Or Bust (Page 1 of 1): "Fifa was quite happy with Newlands, and that way Cape Town would save hundreds of millions of rands to spend on worthy causes -- and still get the tourists even if it failed in its bid to host a semifinal."
I had posted previously that South Africa were one of the movers, and first signatories to this convention. I feel that this convention should have far reaching effects, but I also feel that the actual implementation will prove to be difficult for many countries to acheive. I know DPI have put together a toolkit, and I will unpack that in a later post. But I want to include an email that I sent which was part of a discussion with other interested parties here in South Africa. I think it is important that we do discuss this, and ensure that our countries' obligations are not swept aside. I feel that an African Employers Forum on Disability would be a vital input source to this process. This is my proposal, in answer to an email calling for a Disability Indaba or Conference:
I feel that the DPI toolkit is a useful addition to the process. While I agree that there is a need for dialogue on these issues, I fear that we presently have more of a monologue in South Africa at present. If there is any Disability workshop or indaba, then who generally comes? People with disabilities mainly along with junior representation from a variety of HR departments, and we end up “preaching to the converted”, but not actually putting anything into action. There is a (quite natural) level of ignorance in the general public (and by extension, politicians too), on the sort of issues that people with disabilities face.
Any indaba, or conference, has to have clear, stated goals and targets of implementation that are published well before the event, and then the whole conference has to be geared towards producing these outcomes. There is nothing more frustrating (for everyone concerned) to have the expense of attending or speaking at a conference where the vast majority of delegates are people with disabilities attending in a personal capacity, and very few decision makers from the spheres of business & government. If these people are invited to speak they tend to speak historically; “this is what we have achieved”, or “this is the policy that we have signed”. They may give loose ideas of where they may be headed in the future, but very rarely do you hear clear commitments and promises (and I would include myself in that criticism!). It is much easier dealing with historical facts, than setting yourself up for a potential fall. But we do need to put together a safe, but constructive, atmosphere, where the various stakeholders (politicians, business, public sector, the Disability sector, and people with
disabilities) can work together to produce a clear, agreed framework of implementation (with goals, targets, deadlines, responsibilities, reporting procedures, budgets, etc).
We need to empower the decision makers with the right information; “right we have signed this piece of paper – but what does that really mean for us?”
Each person attending should be fully conversant with all the various documentation.
1. Why is this convention necessary?
2. What are our collective responsibilities under this convention?
3. What legislative changes will have to be made to ensure compliance?
4. What is the timeline for the different events?
This then gives us the information to tackle the various issues arising from the convention:
1. How are we going to implement our commitments?
2. Where is the money coming from for implementation?
3. Who is responsible for each stage (Government, Public Sector, Private Sector, commercial, Disability sector, etc.?)
a. How do we educate these people of their responsibilities?
b. How do we ensure that these people have the necessary tools to comply?
4. What reporting procedures are there for each phase?
a. What penalties or recognition is there for non compliance or compliance?
b. How will different parties measure compliance? (in house, or external)
5. How are we going to ensure compliance to any legislation? (We all know how useless any legislation is, if it is not enforced).
6. What support measures need to be in place to assist all the different parties are equipped to comply?
a. Who will provide these support measures?
b. Where will the budget come from?
7. What are the various targets and deadlines for each phase, to ensure that we meet our overall commitment?
8. What structures do we need in place to ensure that these targets can be met?
9. What skills shortages can we identify?
a. What plans need to be put in place to rectify these skills shortages?
This should give us a clear road map of implementation with achievable goals and signposts along the way. There needs to be a monitoring / policing procedure built into each stage, and the results have to be published. As we are not the only signatories to the convention, we should also be able to gauge our progress against other countries, and share our collective experiences of implementation. We are part of a global village, and there are a huge number of signatories to this convention, it therefore makes sense to have close ties with other countries and international organisations during implementation. Here would need to be clear avenues where these lines of information can be fed back to the necessary parties.
We can only achieve this if we can ensure that we have the right decision makers from the different sectors. This cannot be achieved by one group of stakeholders alone, but will need a detailed public / private partnership arrangement. We have to ensure that there are enough high level decision makers from each sector, so that they can agree to the basic road map, and assign the necessary resources to each phase to ensure that there is adequate funding to achieve compliance. To give yet another conference without these players would be a waste of everyone’s time. We would need to set up working groups to be able to reach conclusions, within those groups there has to be representatives from the different stakeholders that have real decision making authority. I think we shall have to conclude some agreements / arrangements that would allow each sector to have different representatives that are empowered to make decisions on behalf of the sector that they represent. The challenge is to get the right players – I don’t think that another conference packed with individual PWD’s & junior members of different HR departments will work. The conference would have to be aimed at executive level.
Friday, 20 April 2007
Wow! I know that Microsoft were aiming for the Wow factor; well, it has worked here! Wow!: how bad is the Vista experience for customers to want to have 'old' software instead of the latest versions? How does Micrsoft hope to get people to convert (at huge cost) to Vista, when this sort of thing happens? There are many aspects of Vista that I think would be useful to my (mostly pen-based) computing, but I am not jumping to change just yet. I am hoping that Mac will bring out their long awaited Tablet PC eventually. That way the competition should improve the experience...
BBC NEWS | Technology | Users force Dell to resurrect XP: "Responding to customer demand Dell has restarted selling new PCs with Windows XP installed on them.
The decision reverses a policy begun in January that meant Windows Vista was the only operating system available on almost all new home machines.
The change came after Dell's feedback site was swamped with calls for the return of the venerable software."
Why is the world not interested? I know that the South African government is trying to work quietly with the regime in Harare, but there needs to be more peer pressure from different leaders. I am appalled when Mugabe is treated as a hero, or when he is criticised it is some form of racism. Those that know me, know that many of my heroes are African...and I firmly believe that the only living world statesman is South African - Mandela, but the African Union needs to be more public and strong in its condemnation of Mugabe, or we shall all ultimately lose out.
Take action: Stop harassment of activists in Zimbabwe - Amnesty International: "Take action: Stop harassment of activists in Zimbabwe
On 11 March 2007, about 50 activists were arrested in Zimbabwe after attempting to attend a public meeting in defiance of a three-month ban imposed by the authorities. The activists, including leaders of the main opposition party in Zimbabwe -- the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) -- were severely beaten during arrest and later tortured while in police custody.
Police shot dead one of the activists, Gift Tandare, the youth chairperson of the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) local structure in a Harare suburb."
Tuesday, 17 April 2007
Doing my little bit, and showing my support...in the hope that they may still find Alan Johnston alive. I use the BBC extensively, for news, and research. I believe that they offer a valuable, relatively unbiased report on most news events. I wish that people would realise that a free media is a prerequisite for a free world. Without reporters like Alan Johnston, we would not be able to learn about a whole raft of different issues. Somebody, and possibly some organisation knows...we can only hope that enough pressure can be applied, not just from politicians, to allow us to find out what has happened, and hopefully find Alan alive.
Friday, 13 April 2007
This is the quite dreadful neo-conservative who was foisted on the World Bank by the Bush administration to deal with the perceived corruption within that organization. Is this a case of gamekeeper turned poacher? I believe that it is yet another example of cronyism and blatant corruption within the neo-conservative ranks of the present White House administration. Their arrogance and hypocrisy never fail to amaze (and shock) me. Shock and awe indeed!
BBC NEWS | Business | Pressure grows on World Bank boss: "In an editorial, Britain's Financial Times newspaper called for Wolfowitz to step down.
'If the president stays, (the World Bank) risks becoming an object not of respect, but of scorn, and its campaign in favour of good governance not a believable struggle, but blatant hypocrisy,' it said."
Thursday, 12 April 2007
Wednesday, 11 April 2007
Getting in Touch: Virtual Maps for the Blind: Scientific American: "Researchers in Greece have developed a new system that converts video into virtual, touchable maps for the blind. The three-dimensional maps use force fields to represent walls and roads so the visually impaired can better understand the layout of buildings and cities"
Monday, 9 April 2007
Sunday, 8 April 2007
This is so funny! I use Wikipedia a lot, and find it a very useful resource. On one level, I think it is hilarious that the American religious right wing feels so threatened by "non American" spelling of words... That would be the correct way then?? (Try being a "real" English user, and the battles we have with the stupid spell checkers with Microsoft...yes, I know we can change to English (UK), but it keeps changing back to English (US)). But on another level, I do find this quite disturbing; if they are so insecure, and bigoted then we should only expect more trouble from them. This is designed to be a project for home-schooled children, and they hope it will become the "largest & most reliable" online educational resource of its kind...I sincerely hope not, and I hope enough people see this silly, zenophobic, racist project for what it really represents.
Religious right launches rival to 'un-American' Wikipedia: "DINOSAURS. They may not exist, but they're just launched their own online encyclopaedia. Conservapedia claims to be 'a much-needed alternative to Wikipedia, which is increasingly anti-Christian and anti-American.'
Rather than having anything as mundane as posting rules, Conservapedia has Commandments. The first Commandment is ' Everything you post must be true and verifiable.' Strange that, I always thought it was 'Thou shalt have no other gods before me.' But Conservapedia is 'the encyclopedia you can trust' – apart from knowing how to spell 'encyclopaedia', obviously – so I must be mistaken. Oooh, hang on, Commandment Five says that American spelling of words must be used. And as everyone knows, both Jesus and his dad were born in the USA.
Coming back to Conservapedia's First Commandment, it will be interesting to see exactly how any reference to the Bible will be verified as fact. Obviously, as a new site, many subjects have yet to appear, or are in need of expansion. This is the full article on Iraq, for example:
A Middle-Eastern country, currently occupied by U.S. Troops.
We feel sure that all God-fearing INQUIRER readers will step up to the plate and fill in a few of these gaps for them. If you don't, the turrists will have won"
Saturday, 7 April 2007
Jan Smuts has been a fascinating historical character for me, and the more I learn about this fascinating man, the more I am in awe of him. Not only did he write the preamble to the League of Nations (which went on to become the United Nations), but if he had been allowed to implement the results of the Fagan Commission, then Apartheid may never have happened. In my former career, I came across his name many times, as I was researching different African plants as he was a world renowned botanist.
Lord Todd, the Master of Christ's College (Cambridge University) said in 1970 that "in 500 years of the College's history, of all its members, past and present, three had been truly outstanding: John Milton, Charles Darwin and Jan Smuts"
iafrica.com | news | special reports | 2010 soccer world cup | news 2010 prostitution 'not discussed'
Hmm... What is Jackie Selebi thinking?? I have seen at first hand the effects of alcohol on England thugs...believe me, you don't want to make alcohol any more accessible for those people. And legalising prostitution??? In a country where 20% of the population is HIV positive?? I wonder what the rate is amongst prostitutes?? Perhaps Selebi is taking a long term view on this...and the two measures combined will remove the future problems of soccer hooliganism??
iafrica.com | news | special reports | 2010 soccer world cup | news 2010 prostitution 'not discussed': "As part of the safety campaigns for 2010, Selebi proposed to the safety and security committee in parliament last week that prostitution and public drinking be legalised."
Friday, 6 April 2007
I really hope that the Bill passes through this time with enough of a majority so that the Idiot in Charge cannot veto this again, and limit this really important research. I hope that there can be enough public support, and people do contact their senators in the States to get that important 66%.
Stemblog � What YOU Can Do!: "We need the Stem Cell Research Enhancement to pass, and to pass with a 2/3 majority, because President Bush has declared that he will veto this bill, once again."
I really feel that this move is rather silly, given the rising crime in South Africa. I do believe that we have international obligations...and should be providing support to many international efforts, especially in Africa, but I cannot see that this is needed.
South African Police Service members deployed to assist with security at Cricket World Cup: "Today National Commissioner Jackie Selebi met with a contingent of South African Police Service members who are about to depart for the Caribbean to render operational assistance during the super 8 series, the semi-finals and the finals of the Cricket World Cup 2007 in Grenada, St Lucia and Barbados."
Tuesday, 3 April 2007
The authorities at Cape Town airport really need to start to monitor & police these bays. I witness abuse nearly every time I in to the airport & I have never seen any action taken against these idiots, even though I have made repeated requests. All too often the culprits are hotel & travel agent taxis. This particular vehicle appeared to be a hire car or courtesy car.
The usual atrocious accessible parking bay abuse at Cape Town airport. Although I tried, I could not find a single official who was willing to take any action.
Monday, 2 April 2007
Devizes to Westminster Canoe Marathon: "devizes to westminster canoe marathon
6th April 2007–9th April 2007
Devizes to Westminster
Hundreds of kayakers will participate in the UK’s toughest, open to all endurance event – the annual Devizes Westminster Canoe Marathon – over the Easter Weekend.
It’s 125 miles along the Kennet & Avon Canal to Reading, then down the Thames to Teddington ending in Westminster. Most eventers complete the race in around 24 hours, fighting fatique and sleep to complete the course. Now in it’s 59th year, the event takes paddlers to the limit of mental and physical endurance in what is the longest non-stop kayaking marathon in the world.
The finish line is Westminster Bridge in the shadow of the Houses of Parliament, where relatively small boats complete their winding journey along the historic Thames.
Open to anyone over 15 years of age – many schools take part – although you’ll need to train for at least six months if you’re a new to paddling. Previous participants include Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Rebecca Stephens (1st British Woman to Summit Everest), Lord Paddy Ashdown and Guin Batten (Sydney Olympics Team GB Silver Medallist)."
This is bizarre at best, but it is also completely crass. Drug taking has spoiled the enjoyment for me of many (most?) sports. Now, whenever a sports person manages to pull off an amazing feat, or struggle through adversity, there is always the nagging doubt that they could have cheated. I remember watching Landis after his 'victory' on that stage in the Tour de France last year. He looked like he was "on" something: his eyes were darting all over the place, I could not believe it. I even said to my wife at the time, that he looked really odd, and that I guessed he was taking some drug. Yes; I think he is a cheat. I am also suspicious of Armstrong too. And I hate being suspicious of sportsmen and women like that. Sport should be inspiring and uplifting, but in recent years, first the communist blok countries, and then so many different sportsmen and women (predominantly from the USA) have been caught cheating. The US officials have an appalling record of hiding the results of doping tests, and allowing this systematic cheating to continue.
CYCLING; Cycling Race Says It Failed To Test for EPO - New York Times: "And now, organizers of the Tour of California, who boasted after last year's race that no riders tested positive for banned substances, have acknowledged that riders were not tested for what has become the sport's most abused drug -- the blood booster known as EPO.
That failure is more surprising because the lead sponsor of the Tour of California is Amgen, the California biotechnology company that produces the genetically engineered version of EPO, which is sold primarily to help cancer and dialysis patients battle anemia."
I try to track confirmed news about Stem cell research and developments, as opposed to the many unconfirmed claims that appear on the Internet from time to time. This is a very exciting development, and I expect to see more of there developments in the next few years.
BBC NEWS | UK | Heart valve grown from stem cells: "Heart valve grown from stem cells
Entire organs could be grown from stem cells
British scientists have grown part of a human heart from stem cells for the first time.
Heart surgeon Sir Magdi Yacoub, who led the team, said doctors could be using artificially-grown heart components in transplants within three years."
Friday, 30 March 2007
Of course this should be welcomed. We are involved with some of these plans, and we can see some movement in the right direction. However, we are concerned that these targets will not be met. Another one to monitor.
Transport on public transport strategy and action plan: "
* plan fully accessible corridors for users with special needs, guidelines and specifications for accessible taxis, buses and trains by June 2007
* ensure initial 10% of total public transport fleet is fully accessible for users with special needs when rolling out BRT and Rapid Rail from May 2009.
* commencement of operations (including full accessibility for special needs users) by March 2009"
E Pahad to sign United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities and Optional Protocol, 30 Mar
Today should be a momentous day for the rights of people with disabilities living in South Africa. Rather (than my usual) knocking of politicians, I think I will congratulate them today...but watch closely for the implementation of the protocol.
E Pahad to sign United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities and Optional Protocol, 30 Mar: "Dr EG Pahad, the Minister in the Presidency left for New York last night to attend the Official Ceremony on the opening for signature of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on 30 March 2007.
This Convention is the first human rights treaty to be adopted by the UN in the 21st Century. The Convention stands to benefit 650 million persons with disabilities who are among the most marginalised in the world. The convention includes a full range of human rights as well as measures to implement them effectively.
South Africa played an instrumental role in the negotiations that led to the adoption of the treaty and strongly supported the promotion and adoption of the Convention and its Optional Protocol."
Thursday, 29 March 2007
This is not surprising, but nevertheless worrying, information. I would recommend that people read Vash "The Psychology of Disability". In her book she explores this in some depth. I use this knowledge when I am called upon to speak to a group; it has been proven that a person sitting in a wheelchair carries less "weight" than if that person were standing, and this is even true when the audience is made up of predominantly wheelchair users too. I therefore use other techniques (rolling about the stage, raising and lowering volume and tone of my presentation or lecture, etc.)
Enham - News Articles: "NEW RESEARCH REVEALS PREJUDICE AMONGST DISABLED PEOPLE
Dr Mark Deal, Research and Development Manager at Enham and PhD student at City University, London, has conducted a study which surprisingly reveals prejudice amongst disabled people against other impairment groups and that there exists a hierarchy of impairment based on a range of factors. For example: both disabled and non-disabled people rank those with a mental illness or learning disability as the least desirable, with deafness followed by arthritis as the most desirable or accepted form of impairment."
Access to Design Professions: "'By showing how landscape architecture has served society in isolating and removing the disabled body from the landscape, prejudicial design practices might be reduced and new forms of inclusive design might be fostered.'
- Daniel Hunter"