Audio Book Month


This month is Audio Book Month!

Audio Book Month takes place in June every year. During Audio Book Month, people around the world celebrate how audio books give them more ways to read. Moreover, Audio Book Month raises awareness about how products and services designed for people with disabilities benefit everyone.

Audio Book Month

Organizations that produce accessible-format books for readers who are blind made the first audio books on records in the 1930s. Today, organizations such as the Centre for Equitable Library Access (CELA) create accessible books, newspapers and magazines for non-print-readers. These recordings are made using Digital Accessible Information System (DAISY) files, which allow readers to navigate to specific sections or pages as they could if holding a printed book.

Though only readers who were blind read the first audio books, sighted readers now also enjoy them. Many audio books are now available commercially. People buy them from book stores, borrow them from libraries, or stream them online. They allow people to enjoy a book while they do other tasks, such as:

  • Driving
  • Exercising
  • Housework

Many mainstream companies that produce audio books abridged them to reduce cost. However, companies now produce more unabridged books because readers download them instead of buying hard copies. Individuals and companies also produce audio versions of classic books that are out of copyright and distribute them for free online. Some narrators are amateurs while others are professional actors. While some books have one reader, others have a different person reading the dialogue of each character. Some books become more dramatic through music and sound effects.

The Curb Cut Effect

Audio books show how social developments created to benefit people with disabilities also improve quality of life for non-disabled people. This idea is called the curb cut effect. The curb cut effect happens when something is created to help one group of the population and ends up benefiting many more people. Its name comes from the concept of curb cuts, which allow people using mobility devices to cross streets. Curb cuts turned out to be helpful for many other people, including people:

  • With children in strollers
  • Wheeling carts or luggage
  • Using bicycles, skateboards, or roller blades

Similarly, closed captioning displays the dialogue on a TV program or movie so that viewers who are Deaf can follow what is going on as they watch. Many other people also benefit from captions, including people trying to watch TV in noisy environments and newcomers learning English.

Audio books, and other examples of the curb cut effect, show us that accessibility can improve everyone’s quality of life in surprising ways. Happy Audio Book Month to all our readers!




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Audio Book Month


This month is Audio Book Month!

Audio Book Month takes place in June every year. During Audio Book Month, people around the world celebrate how audio books give them more ways to read. Moreover, Audio Book Month raises awareness about how products and services that support people with disabilities benefit everyone.

Audio Book Month

Organizations that produce accessible-format books for readers who are blind made the first audio books on records in the 1930s. Today, organizations like the Centre for Equitable Library Access (CELA) create accessible books, newspapers and magazines for non-print-readers. These recordings consist of Digital Accessible Information System (DAISY) files, which allow readers to navigate to specific sections or pages as they could if holding a printed book.

Only readers who were blind read the first audio books. However, sighted readers now also enjoy books in this format. People buy audio books from book stores, borrow them from libraries, or stream them online. Furthermore, people read this way while they do other tasks, such as:

  • Driving
  • Exercising
  • Housework

Many mainstream companies that produce audio books abridged them to reduce cost. However, companies now produce more unabridged books because readers download them instead of buying hard copies. Individuals and companies also produce audio versions of classic books that are out of copyright and distribute them for free online. Some narrators are amateurs while others are professional actors. While some books have one reader, others have a different person reading the dialogue of each character. Some books become more dramatic through music and sound effects.

The Curb Cut Effect

Audio books show how social developments created to benefit people with disabilities also improve quality of life for non-disabled people. This idea is called the curb cut effect. The curb cut effect happens when something is created to help one group of the population and ends up benefiting many more people. Its name comes from the concept of curb cuts, which allow people using mobility devices to cross streets. Curb cuts turned out to be helpful for many other people, including people:

  • With children in strollers
  • Wheeling carts or luggage
  • Using bicycles, skateboards, or roller blades

Similarly, closed captioning displays the dialogue on a TV program or movie so that viewers who are Deaf can follow what is going on as they watch. Many other people also benefit from captions, including people trying to watch TV in noisy environments and newcomers learning English.

Audio books, and other examples of the curb cut effect, show us that accessibility can improve everyone’s quality of life in surprising ways. Happy Audio Book Month to all our readers!




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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Month


This month is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Month!

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Month takes place across Canada in June every year. During this month, mental health organizations throughout Canada raise awareness about what Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is. Moreover, they also teach the public how this condition impacts people’s lives.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Month

What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition. Like other mental health conditions, PTSD is a medical condition that can affect many different aspects of a person, such as:

  • Thought processes
  • Emotions
  • Moods
  • Behaviours
  • Sense of self
  • Capacity to connect with others
  • Ability to cope with stress

People who have PTSD have experienced a traumatic event, such as:

  • An accident
  • An assault
  • Military combat
  • A natural disaster

These individuals may have repeated, involuntary memories or flashbacks of the event, sometimes triggered by sights, sounds or smells that recall the event.

Who does PTSD affect?

PTSD can affect people of all:

  • Genders
  • Ages
  • Sexual orientations
  • Abilities
  • Races
  • Ethnic backgrounds
  • Economic status

However, people in high-stress jobs, such as first responders or military personnel, may be more likely to have PTSD. Furthermore, people experience PTSD differently. For instance, a person who has PTSD may experience flashbacks of a traumatic event through a certain smell or sound. Each person will experience flashbacks differently, and cope with them in different ways. In addition, some people may have flashbacks more frequently than others.

Support for People who have PTSD

People who have PTSD may sometimes face challenges, such as:

  • Focusing
  • Processing information
  • Making choices

They may also begin behaving in non-typical ways, for example, distancing themselves from others.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Month is a chance for open and positive dialogue about how PTSD impacts people. This dialogue helps answer questions and lessen fears surrounding mental health. Dialogue also makes the public more aware that people with PTSD can live full lives. When people have the supports they need, they can be fully involved in work, family life, and their communities.

Happy Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Month to all our readers!




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National Deafblind Awareness Month


June is National Deafblind Awareness Month!

National Deafblind Awareness Month takes place across Canada in June every year. During this month, Canadians can learn about the disability of deafblindness. In addition, Canadians can celebrate the achievements of deafblind people in their communities and throughout the country.

National Deafblind Awareness Month

Deafblindness is a complex disability that affects people in different ways. People who are deafblind have limited sight and hearing to varying degrees. For example, one person who is deafblind may have some vision and hearing they can use. In contrast, another person may have no vision or hearing. Alternatively, someone may have no vision but some hearing, or vice-versa. In short, people who are deafblind have a range of disabilities.

Accessible Formats

Moreover, people with different degrees of vision or hearing may read or communicate in different ways. The accessible formats people use to read may depend on their degree of vision and hearing. For instance, people who are visually impaired may read large print, and access computers using:

  • Large fonts
  • High-contrast settings
  • Screen magnification technology
  • Large monitors
  • Website settings that allow users to enlarge text and images

In contrast, people who are totally blind may read Braille. Someone who is totally blind with some hearing may use a computer with screen reading software. Alternatively, someone with no vision or hearing can read a computer screen using a Braille display.

Communication Supports

Similarly, people may use different communication supports. someone who is totally deaf with some vision may communicate in American Sign language (ASL) or by speechreading. In contrast, someone who is totally blind with some hearing may communicate by speaking, using a hearing aid or cochlear implant. Alternatively, someone who is totally deaf and totally blind may use ASL by feeling a signer’s movements. In addition, they may communicate using a computer with a Braille display. They may speak their side of a conversation while the person they converse with types. They can then read the other person’s typed words on the Braille display.

People may use combinations of formats or supports to communicate:

  • In person
  • By phone, Teletypewriter (TTY) or Video Relay Service (VRS)
  • By email or text

Some people who are deafblind use assistive devices, such as white canes, or communication devices, such as hearing aids. Likewise, some people who are deafblind have service animals, such as guide dogs or hearing alert dogs. However, other people’s deafblindness is invisible. People who are deafblind cannot drive, but travel independently by bus, cab, or walking.

Raising Awareness

Many people do not have friends, family members, or colleagues who are deafblind. As a result, they may assume that someone who is deafblind cannot do every-day things, such as:

  • Work
  • Raise families
  • Make friends and have fulfilling social lives
  • Travel

Furthermore, people may feel uncomfortable when someone discloses that they are deafblind. This lack of knowledge may lead to discrimination. For instance, someone may not want to hire a person who is deafblind. National Deafblind Awareness Month is a chance to help the public learn more about all the ways people who are deafblind contribute to their communities. People who are deafblind can live full lives. When they have access to the formats and supports they need to communicate, they can be fully involved in their work, families, and social lives. Raising awareness should reduce the discrimination that people who are deafblind may live with.

Happy National Deafblind Awareness Month to all our readers!




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Brain Injury Awareness Month


June is Brain Injury Awareness Month!

Brain Injury Awareness Month takes place across Canada in June every year. During this month, Canadians can learn about what brain injury is and how it affects people’s lives in different ways.

Brain Injury Awareness Month

What are Brain Injuries?

People with brain injuries have experienced a disease, accident, or trauma that has changed the way their brains function. The kind or degree of change people experience depends on how they have been injured. It also depends on which parts of the brain the injury has affected. Some people may regain part of the brain functioning they have lost, while others may not.

Brain injuries can affect many abilities, such as:

  • Mobility
  • Information processing, such as textual or verbal information
  • Speech
  • Focus
  • Memory, organization, and time management
  • Behavioural regulation and stress management

Behavioural Regulation and Stress Management

People with brain injuries often have training in which they learn tools to maintain and regulate emotions or behaviours impacted by changes in brain function. For instance:

  • Responsibility
  • Self-awareness
  • Personal and social boundaries
  • Safety

People may also have certain ways of de-stressing or calming themselves down. For instance, people may:

  • Call a loved one
  • Reduce physical exertion
  • Step away from frustrating situations

People who have brain injuries experience them in different ways. For instance, some people with brain injuries have assistive devices or service animals, while other people’s brain injury is invisible. Similarly, some people with brain injury can drive, while others travel independently by bus, cab, or walking.

In short, brain injury can affect people’s lives in various ways. Nonetheless, people who have brain injuries can live full lives. When people know how their brain injuries affect them, they can be fully involved in their work, families, and social lives.

Raising Awareness

Many people do not have friends, family members, or colleagues who have brain injuries. As a result, they may assume that someone with a brain injury cannot do every-day things, such as:

  • Work
  • Raise families
  • Make friends and have fulfilling social lives
  • Travel

Furthermore, people may feel uncomfortable when someone discloses that they have a brain injury. This lack of knowledge may lead to discrimination. For instance, someone may not want to hire a person who has a brain injury. Brain injury Awareness Month is a chance to help the public learn more about all the things people with brain injuries are capable of. Raising awareness should reduce the discrimination that people with brain injuries may live with.

Happy Brain injury Awareness Month to all our readers!




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Mobility Awareness Month


This month is Mobility Awareness Month!

Mobility Awareness Month takes place across Canada in May every year. The month raises awareness about how people with physical disabilities can move freely and enjoy active lifestyles. In addition, the public can learn more about how people can use assistive devices and other equipment to be actively involved in their communities.

Mobility Awareness Month

Mobility Awareness Month is a chance for the public to learn how people use assistive devices to travel:

On outings with family or friends, such as to:

To sports they participate in, such as:

Assistive devices help people move freely and contribute actively to their communities.

Wheelchairs

A wheelchair is one of the most well-known symbols of accessibility worldwide. Some people use manual wheelchairs which they wheel with their arms. Other people steer power wheelchairs that have batteries and motors. In addition to the wheelchairs people use every day, there are also wheelchairs for specific activities, such as:

Sports, including:

Moreover, wheelchairs come in a variety of colours and styles. Some wheelchairs fold up while others do not. Furthermore, some people may use a wheelchair all the time. Others may sometimes use other mobility devices or walk short distances without devices. People may also transfer from their wheelchairs to other seats.

Walkers

Other people use walkers for stability. Some people use smaller walkers that they push in front of them. In contrast, others use larger ones which they stand in and pull behind them.

Support Canes

Other people may use canes for support and balance. Some people use one cane if one side of their body is stronger than the other. They hold the cane on the stronger side and move it when they take a step with their other foot. For instance, someone with a stronger left side holds their cane in their left hand. As they step with their right foot, they move their cane forward, then step with their left foot. Other people use two canes by holding one in each hand.

Support canes come in a variety of colours and styles. Some canes fold up while others do not. Moreover, support canes are short and often curved. Some canes have one tip that touches the ground, while others can have three or four tips.

White Canes

Many blind and visually impaired people use white canes to travel. People do not use their canes at home or in other familiar environments because they know exactly where everything is. However, when they travel outside their homes, people will almost always use their canes. Someone walking with a white cane moves it from side to side in front of them. The feel and sound of the cane on the ground or floor gives them information about what is ahead, including:

  • Steps or curbs
  • Obstacles, such as furniture
  • The texture of the ground (pavement, grass, snow, puddles, etc.) or floor (tile, carpet, etc.)

Canes are white so that they are visible to other travellers. Some canes fold up while others do not. Moreover, they are long and straight, rather than curved. This difference makes it easy to tell whether someone is using a cane for support or for mobility. In other words, someone using a mobility cane can usually balance easily. Likewise, someone using a support cane usually has average vision.

Meeting People who use Wheelchairs

Many people do not have friends, family members, or colleagues who use assistive devices. As a result, they may feel uncomfortable approaching someone using one, or wonder how to do so. Mobility Awareness Month is a chance for people to overcome this discomfort.

When meeting someone using an assistive device:

Speak directly to the person using the device, instead of asking other people questions about them.

When talking to someone in a wheelchair for more than a few minutes, ask the person whether or not to sit down to be at eye level.

An assistive device is part of its owner’s personal space. Therefore, only touch someone’s device when that person has given permission.

Similarly, if someone gives permission to move their canes or crutches, keep them within the person’s reach.

Use language or figures of speech related to walking or seeing, such as “step this way or “see you later”.

However, do not use phrases like “wheelchair-bound” or “confined to a wheelchair”. These phrases suggest that people are “trapped” in their wheelchairs. On the contrary, instead of imprisoning people, wheelchairs and other assistive devices free people to live full lives.

Happy Mobility Awareness Month to all our readers!




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Mental Health Awareness Month


This month is Mental Health Awareness Month!

Mental Health Awareness Month takes place across Canada in May every year. During this month, Canadians can learn about mental illnesses and how they affect people’s lives in different ways. In addition, the public can learn more about how to reduce the stigma around mental illnesses.

Mental Health Awareness Month

What are Mental Illnesses?

Mental illnesses are medical conditions that can affect many different aspects of a person, such as:

  • Thought processes
  • Emotions
  • Moods
  • Behaviours
  • Sense of self
  • Capacity to connect with others
  • Ability to cope with stress

Common Mental Illnesses

There are many different mental illnesses. Some common mental illnesses are:

Anxiety Disorders:

Conditions in which people’s experience of anxiety becomes overwhelming and often affects other aspects of their lives.

Bipolar Disorder:

A chronic illness involving extreme changes in people’s moods, energy levels, and ability to think clearly. In addition, people experience periods of mania or depression that can last days or months.

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD):

A condition characterized by:

  • Difficulty regulating emotions
  • Severe mood swings
  • Impulsivity
  • Unstable self-image

Moreover, these characteristics can negatively affect people’s relationships.

Depression:

Persistent feelings of sadness that can impact people’s:

  • Thoughts
  • Moods
  • Behaviour
  • Energy levels
  • Activities
  • Physical health

Eating Disorders:

Conditions in which people’s intensive concern about food, weight, or body image lessens their ability to focus on other parts of their lives.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD):

An illness in which a person has repeated and unwanted thoughts (obsessions) or irrational urges to perform certain actions (compulsions).

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD):

A condition in which some people who have experienced a traumatic event, such as an accident, assault, military combat or natural disaster, may have repeated, involuntary memories or flashbacks of the event, sometimes triggered by sights, sounds or smells that recall the event.

Schizophrenia:

A condition in which people have difficulty distinguishing what is real from what is not, thinking clearly, making decisions, relating to others, or regulating emotions. People may also have halucinations or delusions.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD):

An illness in which people experience periods of depression during late fall and winter but are without these symptoms for the rest of the year.

Different Affects of Mental Illnesses

People experience mental health challenges in many different ways. For instance, some people experience periods of illness between times when they are feeling their best, while others’ states of mental health are unchanging. Additionally, some instances of mental illness may be caused by triggers. For example, a person may develop depression after an upsetting life event.  However, other people may have depression without experiencing such an event. Furthermore, some people experience one depressive episode while others undergo repeated episodes.

Likewise, someone with BPD may experience a persistent feeling of anger after an event elsewhere that inspired this feeling. Similarly, a person who has PTSD may experience flashbacks of a traumatic event through a certain smell or sound.

Therefore, people who have mental illnesses may sometimes face challenges, such as:

  • Focusing
  • Processing information
  • Making choices

They may also begin behaving in non-typical ways, for example, distancing themselves from others.

Mental Health Awareness Month is a chance for open and positive dialogue about how mental illnesses impact people. This dialogue helps answer questions and lessen fears surrounding mental health. Dialogue also makes the public more aware that people with mental illnesses can live full lives. When people have the supports they need, they can be fully involved in work, family life, and their communities.

Happy Mental Health Awareness Month to all our readers!




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Epilepsy Awareness Month


March is Epilepsy Awareness Month!

Epilepsy Awareness Month takes place across Canada in March every year. During this month, Canadians can learn about what epilepsy is and how it affects people’s lives in different ways.

Epilepsy Awareness Month

What is Epilepsy?

Epilepsy is a brain disorder that causes people to have seizures. A seizure happens when brain activity is disrupted for a few seconds to a few minutes. Moreover, the kind of seizure a person has depends on which parts of the brain are affected.

Some people experience tonic-clonic seizures, which involve loss of consciousness and convulsions. Alternatively, other people have seizures that cause less severe symptoms, such as:

  • Confusion for a few moments
  • Staring
  • Brief involuntary twitching of one part of the body, such as eyelid movement

After seizures, people’s ordinary brain function returns, although they may be confused at first. They may also need to rest for a few minutes or an hour, depending on the severity of the seizure.

Many people with epilepsy can reduce or eliminate their seizures through medication or other treatments. Increased research may lead to more types of treatment.

Raising Awareness

Many people do not have friends, family members, or colleagues who have epilepsy. As a result, they may assume that someone with epilepsy cannot do every-day things, such as:

  • Work
  • Raise families
  • Make friends and have fulfilling social lives
  • Travel

Furthermore, people may feel uncomfortable when someone discloses that they have epilepsy. This lack of knowledge may lead to discrimination. For instance, someone may not want to hire a person who has epilepsy. Epilepsy Awareness Month is a chance to help the public learn more about all the things people with epilepsy are capable of. Raising awareness should reduce the discrimination that people with epilepsy may live with.

People who have epilepsy experience it in different ways. As a result, each person who discloses epilepsy may explain:

  • What usually happens during a seizure
  • How often they have seizures
  • Whether seizures usually happen at certain times of day
  • How long their seizures usually last
  • Whether seizures happen randomly or in patterns
  • Whether seizures are triggered by certain environmental conditions, such as:
    • Flashing lights
    • Increased stress
  • If they have warning signs before seizures, and if so:
    • What the warning signs are
    • How much time there is between warning signs and seizures
  • Whether they need to rest after seizures, and for how long

Moreover, some people with epilepsy have service animals, while other people’s epilepsy is invisible. Similarly, some people with epilepsy can drive, while others travel independently by bus, cab, or walking.

In short, epilepsy can affect people’s lives in various ways. Nonetheless, people who have epilepsy can live full lives. When people know how their epilepsy affects them, they can be fully involved in their work, families, and social lives.

Happy Epilepsy Awareness Month to all our readers!




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National Disability Employment Awareness Month


October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. National Disability Employment Awareness Month aims to increase public awareness of the positive impact that people with disabilities have when they are employed.

In addition, the public also needs to know that the unemployment rate for people with disabilities is high. Most people with disabilities are capable of working but they are still out of work.  Many people responsible for hiring believe in a number of myths about employing people with disabilities. Thus, people with disabilities are often left unemployed.

Here we outline what some of these myths are. We also debunk the myths so that more people can know the truth about working with people who have disabilities.

Myth: Lack of Suitable Job Positions

Employers tend to assume that a person with a disability would not be able to fill the jobs available in their workplaces. When hiring managers create lists of job tasks, they often think that people with certain disabilities would not be able to fulfill those responsibilities. However, employees with disabilities have many unique ways of performing tasks. They have used these methods in their daily lives while gaining qualifications, or in previous jobs. Workers with disabilities and co-workers can easily find answers to the question of how someone will accomplish tasks in different ways with the same level of competence.

Myth: Lack of education

Despite having disabilities, people seeking employment are well-educated:

  • 50% have graduated from high school
  • 40% have post-secondary credentials

Canadian adults with disabilities are 66% as likely to have a post-secondary education as compared to other adults.

Myth: Expensive to Accommodate

Employers think that hiring people needing accommodations is too costly. They believe they need to purchase specialized equipment or make other modifications, such as:

  • Widened doorways
  • Accessible bathrooms
  • Specialized computer software

In fact, accommodation is quite inexpensive in many cases. Over half of the needed changes cost $500 or less. Most accommodations come down to:

  • Changing work hours or job tasks
  • Making small, inexpensive modifications to workstations

Less than half of accommodations cost $1,500 or more. However, there are many sources of funding, including government grants, available to cover the costs, such as building renos or software.

Myth: Increased Workplace Absenteeism

Employers believe that new hires will suffer from absenteeism because of appointments and sick days. This, however, is not often the case. Disability is not the same as illness. Most people with disabilities do not need medical appointments or time off to manage their conditions. People who do are responsible about giving advance notice or making up time. Reports have proven that people with disabilities have an average, if not better, attendance record compared to other workers. They are eager to prove their competence and dedication.

Myth: Decreased Productivity

Employers may think that people with disabilities are less productive than people without disabilities. They may think this because of the extra time that may be needed to learn job tasks. Employers may also believe that people with disabilities are dependent and will need constant help throughout the workday to perform tasks that a non-disabled person could do alone. This belief has proven to be false. Many reports have shown that people with disabilities are hard-working and independent. They may take more time to learn new tasks, but they complete them as independently as non-disabled workers.

Things to Remember

During National Disability Employment Awareness Month this October, we should recognize the positive contributions that employed people with disabilities make to their workplaces. We should realize how many capable, qualified people are denied the chance for fulfilling work because of widespread false beliefs about what they can or cannot do. We should learn about how we can take advantage of a talented pool of workers by hiring and accommodating people with disabilities.

 

 



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