Live Accessible Changes Lives for the Blind
Live Accessible hopes to fill in the gaps.
Audrey’s Determination Sparks a Movement in the Community
Hannibal YMCA is home to many locals looking to get in shape and increase their overall wellness. But some of these members are there for more than just losing weight and toning up. These members are pushing themselves to the limit everyday to fight back against the disabilities trying to keep them down. To them, going to workout with a personal trainer is about achieving goals they once thought to be impossible. However, it is hard for them all to get the most out of each session because of the limited equipment they can utilize. The Hannibal YMCA has a complete training center but very little accessible equipment. The 10+ members with limited motion or who are wheelchair bound can only use the free weights and cables that are open underneath and accessible to them. Anyone who has gone to a modern day gym knows that very minimal machines allow for free and full range of motion. That is why the Hannibal YMCA Team and one of their most dedicated members, Audrey Pickett, have teamed up with the Dreamscape Foundation; to raise money for the accessible equipment they need to support all of their members and their community as a whole!
Personal Training and a need for Accessible EquipmentOne of the Y’s main programs in their facility is personal and group training sessions. The sessions and classes are instructed by their elite team of Certified Personal Trainers. But what they are in need of most, is new accessible gym equipment. Accessible gym equipment is all your typical machines but with a slight variation and guideline standards. The accessible gym equipment is specially designed to be usable to people with disabilities. For example, most machines are surrounded by other machines or walls, creating limited space to approach it. This makes it extremely difficult for someone in a wheelchair to access (if they can at all). Similarly, certain machines have set seats or back supports that can also inhibit access to those unable to stabilize themselves in the proper position. The only issue in acquiring new equipment is costs. Gym equipment is costly enough as is, but when you add the addition of accessible accommodations, these costs skyrocket. Currently, the Y has no equipment that is accessible by design. Only equipment that is naturally accessible, such as cable pullies, triceps and lat pulldown machines, and smith machines. They have done extensive research into all different kinds of accessible equipment and decided on two pieces that would benefit their facility as a whole. First is a Signature Series cable column, a Life Fitness product that has a two handle pully system that is open underneath and adjusts for all different movements. Second is a wheelchair accessible Scifit Bike, complete with two handheld rotating handles on the sides. This bike was designed with accessible features including a removable seat, true step through design, swivel seat that rotates 360° and much more. In order to raise the funds needed to help all members get the most out of their training, Dreamscape Foundation has teamed up with the folks at the Hannibal YMCA to conduct a series of fundraisers.
Audrey’s Progress and DeterminationI had the opportunity to speak with Audrey Pickett, a local and dedicated member of the Hannibal YMCA, who has lived her entire life in a wheelchair. She started attending training sessions last October, going three times a week. She had a goal in mind to strengthen her body to help her in all aspects of her every day life. For example, in the six months shes been training she reported, “it’s gotten me a lot stronger. I’ve noticed when I get to stand, I can stand for a longer period of time and I am not as tired!” To emphasize her progress even more, she now attends sessions six times a week! Twice as much as she was able to when she first started. Another major accomplishment she achieved in one of her classes, “I have gone from 5lb weights to 11lb weights in each hand.” To more than double your starting weight in a matter of months is a huge accomplishment for any new weight lifter! To Audrey, the YMCA has become an extended family of hers. In addition to training there she has grown so close to the staff and members, she even volunteers at the front desk to help give back. The rest of the Hannibal YMCA team describes her as, “a ray of sunshine”, always happy and spreading joy to everyone she comes into contact with. Despite her disability, Audrey is always positive, motivated and definitely has a sense of humor. In the brief conversation we had, much of that time was spent laughing and cracking jokes. She did have a few words of motivation to share with anyone who is trying to get started but might be scared or worried. “Just take a leap of faith. Don’t be afraid with it, its easier said then done, but once you start you won’t regret it and if you have that dedication or drive don’t just let it sit. A lot of people have told me no in my daily life, here no is not an option. If I find a no, I find a way to make it a yes”, Audrey said. On a final note, Audrey is driven and dedicated to better not only herself but everyone struggling with their own lives and disabilities. She knows that people are defined by their abilities and what they can achieve not what they can’t and that’s what we need to focus on! If you would like to help out, we urge everyone to contribute what they can to our Hannibal YMCA campaigns, dedicated to funding accessible equipment for their facilities and to help Audrey continue her training programs. Next »« Previous
11 Facts You Should Know About LHON
Onset effects Young AdultsWhen Dreamscape founder learned of his disability, he was only 16 years old. Often, we listen to similar stories of those effected by LHON. People usually develop LHON mid-late teens, and is described as loss of sharpness and a fading of color vision. The vision loss mainly affects central vision, which is needed for tasks such as reading, driving and recognizing faces. In a small percentage of cases, the central vision loss can improve; but in most cases loss of vision is permanent. It’s only after a year or so living with the disability, is when people fully adapt to their new surroundings. With the help of accessible technology, and charities like Dreamscape Foundation, you too can find the freedom you are looking for!
LHON is Painless but Quick ActingYou can rest a bit easier to learn that LHON’s onset is a painless one. The experience on the other hand, can throw quite a curve ball. It only takes a few moments for the central vision loss to kick in, leaving only peripheral view. We often hear stories of rapid blindness, usually after rubbing ones eye. In some cases, one eye will start to be effected before the other. The other eye’s condition soon worsens, at an average of 8 weeks after the initial onset. LHON is still has a cloudy reputation, as most people have never heard of the hereditary disability. It’s a good reminder to know that most of the visually disabled are not 100% blind! This can be a common misunderstanding, due to outdated stereotypes of the blind.
LHON is Transmitted by the MotherLHON is passed down to children primarily due to mutations in the mitochondrial (rather than the male nuclear) genome, and only the egg contributes mitochondria to the embryo. Mitochondria constantly convert energy locked in our food into energy that the cell can use, and are small sub-units that reside within the cell. LHON follows a mitochondrial pattern of inheritance, also known as maternal inheritance. Only egg cells contribute mitochondria to a developing embryo, therefore only females can pass mitochondrial conditions to their children. Fathers affected by LHON or carrying LHON mutations do not pass the condition to their children.
Discovery of DisabilityThis disease was first written and described by the German ophthalmologist Theodor Leber in 1871, only 31 years old at the time. In said paper, Leber described 4 families in which a number of young men suffered abrupt loss of vision in both eyes either simultaneously or sequentially. This disease was initially thought to be nuclear linked but was subsequently shown to be mitochondrial.
Other Useful LHON Facts
- LHON affects both males and females, but more commonly found in men.
- The birth prevalence of LHON is approximately 1 in 50,000 people.
- More than 50% of men and more than 85% of women with a mitochondrial mutation will never experience vision loss.
- Without a known family history of LHON the diagnosis usually requires a neuro-ophthalmological evaluation and blood testing for mitochondrial DNA assessment.
- “LHON Plus” is a name given to a rare variant of the disorder with eye disease together with other conditions. (Many cases of LHON plus have been comparable to multiple sclerosis because of the lack of muscular control.)
- In 1988 Wallace et al. identified the nature of the first known causative mutation (50-70% of all LHON cases).
- The other two mutations known to cause LHON were identified in 1991 (8-25% of all LHON cases) and 1992 (10-15% of all LHON cases).
Finding Freedom In Your Wheelchair
Open Says MeHave you ever tried to open a door with your hands full? It’s almost impossible! Now imagine you can’t move your bottom half. Interactions that may seem easy to everyone else can be extremely difficult and frustrating without the proper accessibility. According to The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the law requires that a wide variety of private business’ need to provide access to their programs, goods and services. Places of public accommodation and buildings constructed by state or local governments must be fully accessible to people with disabilities if built after January 26, 1992.
Which doors should be accessible?At least one door should be accessible at these locations:
- Each accessible entrance (at least 60% of public entrances in newly built facilities must be accessible to individuals who use wheelchairs or have mobility impairments).
- Each tenant space in a mall or other building with multiple business
- Accessible rooms and spaces within buildings.
- Entrances to buildings from all parking structures, tunnels or elevators
- At least one restricted or secured entrance (if applicable).
- Along each building’s required route of escape
- Public entrances serving different fixed routes within transit
Exercising your Right, the Right WayYou may not think it, but the disabled are just as into exercising as everyone else! We published a blog article about Audrey, a woman who reached out to us, in order to help fund more accessible equipment for their local YMCA. With just as much energy as the rest of us, those bound to a wheelchair must find more creative ways to break a sweat.
- Gripping gloves are great for those with impaired hand movement or strength. The glove allows you to hold an object to perform a lift or pull when using dumbbells or a weight machine. The Active Hands gripping aids are designed so that the user can put them on independently.
- Speedbags and Heavybags are so accessible, you can even use them sitting down! These punching bags can be the perfect stamina workout for those looking to build some muscle. With the right angle and height, implementing this equipment into your workout routine can elicit a positive change to your physique and overall attitude.
- The VitaGlide is a great way to work on strength and cardiovascular endurance. Use your gripping gloves to secure your hands on the handles and begin working on pushing and pulling movements on a cycle of high and low intensity. You can even track your progress with the machine’s interactive digital display! Distance (miles or kilometers), time (stopwatch or timer mode), and resistance will help you develop a workout routine that works for you. Overall, The VitaGlide is the go to for wheelchair exercise equipment.
Sports Programs for Children with Disabilities
National Federation of State High School Associations, they explain how in 2013 the Office for Civil Rights issued a Dear Colleague Letter spelling out the legal duty all federally funded schools had to provide accessible recreational sports programs to children with all types of disabilities. Making a huge stride to assure no child is left out again.
What kind of Programs are available and how to learn more?Nationwide, communities are supporting inclusive sport programs both recreational and national. In addition to school or recreational leagues, organizations such as the National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability (NCHPAD) and the American Association of Adapted Sports Programs are helping to form new independent leagues that offer sports ranging from wheelchair basketball and football to power lifting and table tennis. Educated Sports Parent has put together a great list of different sports programs and organizations dedicated to the inclusion of all competitors.
Special Needs Sports ProgramsTo assess the needs of all children, leagues have been introduced not only for those with physical disabilities but for children who have special needs too. The most well-known example would be the Special Olympics, where countless athletes come together to take part in a multitude of competitions. In addition to being active and having fun, participating in sporting events help to teach these young men and women important lessons about self-pride and bravery as well. Put best by the Special Olympics athlete oath “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.” These programs are not limited to only track and field but also include; baseball, basketball, cheerleading/dancing, flag football and soccer. For those interested in less traditional sporting events, we encourage you to look into these organizations for other sport opportunities they offer!
How to get involved?Perhaps you have loved ones who suffer from a disability or you admire the heart of these athletes and want to know what you can do to help them? Well getting involved is simple and can be more rewarding then you think! In an interview with a special Olympics volunteer, he exclaimed that besides the sheer effort each athlete put in, what he was impressed by most was the joy expressed on each of their faces whether they won or lost because this is something often lost amongst the competitive nature of today’s sports. The first step you can take to volunteer is to reach out to local organizations such as schools, community centers or YMCA’s and see what kinds of programs they offer and what help they may need. Other options on a national scale can be found through volunteer programs. There are plenty of organizations such as Disabled Sports USA, the Special Olympics and Blaze Sports America, that are constantly looking for volunteers, donations and any other help one could offer. Next »« Previous
6 Accessible Transportation Options You Should Know
Know Your Accessible Transportation OptionsAs much as we wish every state, city and town had the same accessibility accommodations, our world isn’t there yet. That’s why it’s important to know a variety of solutions. Below are several common modes of transportation assistance if you can’t drive on your own:
Public Bus ServicesNo matter where you are in the U.S., government regulations require public bus transit to accommodate accessibility needs. If you live in a city or large town, look into what public transit is available. Because bus services run on a regular schedule, you can plan your route accordingly. Simply look up the bus schedule and estimate your travel time accordingly.
Trains, Trams and Other Rail ServicesPublic transit isn’t limited to busses either. Many cities have trains, trams or other rail services that can help you get to where you need to be. If you need wheelchair or other assistance, make sure you call ahead for details on how to arrange them.
Taxi ServiceBut what if you can’t make it to public transit stations or stops? Taxi services are available in most areas and can meet you at your doorstep. When you call for a taxi service, explain any specific accommodations you may need.
Hail-a-Ride AppsUber and Lyft have become extremely popular apps for quick transportation. Not only does Uber provide accessibility options for its users but it also designed its app to include accessibility features. Individuals with low vision or blindness can use these features to easily schedule a ride.
Private Transportation ServicesFor those who are looking for more traditional private transportation services, there are numerous solutions on the market, like SuperShuttle. These are similar to taxi services or hail-a-ride apps. However, it may not have the same immediacy as Uber or Lyft. Like taxis and public transit, you’ll want to aim to plan ahead.
Accessibility Services for Commercial FlightsAre you planning a long-distance trip? Commercial flights make it a point to provide accessibility services to passengers who need them. Use one of the services above to get to the airport or see if there is a shuttle service available to take you to and from the airport. Also, be sure to arrive early. While airports go above and beyond to accommodate for passenger needs, such as wheelchairs, shuttle services and early boarding with assistance, they often require additional steps that may need more time to execute properly.
Ready to Roll?Keep in mind that transportation services may operate differently. Some may require reservations while others are available on demand or through regular route schedules. As you organize your transportation, make sure you plan accordingly. While it may seem like extra work, it’s worth it to be prepared. Next »« Previous
What You Need to Know About Accessible Housing
their last study, they reported only one-third of American housing is able to be modified to meet the needs of individuals with mobility disabilities. Beyond that, only 5% of housing is currently designed to be accessible to individuals with moderate mobility challenges and a mere 1% are wheelchair accessible. The good news is that something can be done to meet the needs of today’s disabled population. Read on to learn more about accessible housing and how the Fair Housing Act enables users with special needs to request accommodations.
What is Accessible Housing?Accessible housing is rented or purchased housing that has special built-in accommodations to make everyday living and mobility easier for residents with disabilities. This can range anywhere from wheelchair ramps to indoor modifications like handicap grab bars and accessible bathrooms and kitchens. Homeowners with accessibility needs can apply for home modification grants. But what if you aren’t a homeowner? Few rental locations are designed to accommodate individuals with disabilities. That’s where the Fair Housing Act comes into play.
Understanding the Fair Housing ActThe Fair Housing Act protects the right of disabled Americans to have safe housing accommodations. This government legislation requires housing providers to:
- Make accommodations for disabled tenants so long as those accommodations don’t cause an undue financial or administrative burden
- Allow disabled tenants to make reasonable modifications to a rented housing space that are required for the unit to be fully usable
- Evict a tenant for his or her disability or the disability of a family member
- Refuse to sell or rent housing to an individual based on the disability of the primary tenant/owner or his or her family member
- To ask if an applicant or his or her family member has a disability
- To alter applications or buying/renting criteria due to a disability
- Segregate tenants to specific areas or units based on disability
- Refuse reasonable accommodation or modifications based on disability
Do You Need Help Making Your Home Accessible?Accessible housing shouldn’t be a privilege given only to some. If you have accessibility requirements but are having trouble finding the finances or the resources to meet your needs, let’s talk. Dreamscape Foundation works one-on-one with individuals facing accessibility challenges. From fundraising campaigns to resources, we help individuals bridge the gap between their disability and the life they deserve. Reach out to us today to start a conversation. Next »« Previous
Derek Daniel Uncovers Life After Sight Loss
A Look at Derek’s StoryGrowing up, Derek was an active teen with a love for theater and entertainment. In fact, he was working at a theme park performing as a singer and dancer when he lost his sight at the age of 18. The cause was a rare genetic disease called Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy, or LHON for short. Over the course of the following months, he saw an irreversible decline in his eyesight until he became legally blind. But Derek isn’t the type to lie down and give up. Instead, he set it upon himself to learn how to navigate and enjoy life even without his vision. His experience became the foundation for Life After Sight Loss, which is a series of media talking about the emotions, challenges, and tricks to adapting to a blind lifestyle.
Creating Life After Sight LossDerek is an admittedly external person who finds talking through his experiences therapeutic. Combining that desire with his interest in recording, he began a podcast, then videos, as an cathartic outlet. However, his story and his insight soon connected with other people, growing into something bigger than just himself. “I realized my story coincided with so many other peoples’ stories,” Derek said. “Whether it was the same disease or not or we lost our sight at the same time or not, we had things in common. I didn’t intend to grow into some big YouTuber or anything like that, I just had knowledge that I could share with people.” Yet his knowledge and empathy was exactly what many people across the world were seeking. People wanted to connect with others who knew and understood their struggles and experiences. “People like the emotional part because it gives them permission to talk about it,” he explained. “If you don’t have people to say ‘I understand,’ and really mean it, it’s difficult. To have someone sit across from me and share stories I understand and for them to get it and for me to get it on their side as well, it’s infinitely important.” Seeing the need for a platform and resource like Life After Sight Loss, Derek made it his full-time career to create helpful content for others like himself and offer coaching to help low-vision individuals and families adapt to their new world.
A Word of Advice on Adapting and Embracing LifeLife after sight loss isn’t something you adapt to instantaneously. It’s an ongoing learning process. During that time, it’s okay to struggle and have bad days. “The cliche is always that it’s not the end of the world,” Derek said. “What I always tell people is it is the end of something, and I think they need to hear that. Your life as you knew it, every day, in and out, isn’t going to be the same. You’re going to interact with things differently so it’s okay to be in that mode of grief.” However, you don’t want to linger there. Your life has changed, but it isn’t over and it hasn’t dwindled. The key is to build a strong support system, and to connect with a community that understands what you are going through. “The most important thing I can tell people is that they’re not alone,” he pressed. “There are many people out there going through the same things.” Derek has a multitude of podcasts, videos, and resources available on his website at https://lifeaftersightloss.com. Whether you recently lost your sight or you’re simply looking to understand what life is like without it, take a peek at his content. It offers an interactive community where you can learn accessibility tips and connect with a community that shares your challenges and story. Next »« Previous
Kool Kits Hosts Gaming Marathon To Support Accessibility This Christmas
accessibility programs. All campaign donations will get proceeded through our Tiltify page.
Making Our Communities AccessibleWhen we look closer into our communities, it is evident that the obstacles between disabilities and everyday life are genuine. Every challenge is different; every need is different. They share our schools, our workplaces, and our neighborhoods. People with impairments interact with the same physical and online environments as everyone else in our communities and face unseen challenges. At Dreamscape Foundation, we strive to do all we can to ensure that these at-risk groups have the support they need to be independent, and through the Kool Kits stream this Christmas it will be made possible!
Meet The Kool KitsFrom December 20th at 8:30 AM EST to December 22ND at 6 PM EST the Kool Kits stream team will be fundraising for accessibility for two straight days! On Twitter, Twitch Partner, LeClumsyFox (Kool Kits Squad member) said that ” This is [charity stream] the first Kool Kits Stream Event with Dreamscape Foundation! I am so excited.” It is exhilarating that this stream team has chosen Dreamscape Foundation for their first charity stream and we hope their audiences enjoy the event and giveaways! The Kool Kits squad is composed of 11 Twitch Channels consisting of the following people:
Donation IncentivesAs always, each Dreamscape Foundation charity stream is complete with donation incentives. Due to shipping costs, Dreamscape Foundation will only be shipping prizes to the USA prize winners. Our organization is aware of the European Audience that will be attending the event and in hopes of accommodating them have included digital prizes such as gift cards and Steam keys. The donation threshold for each giveaway is as follows:
- $5: Enter to win a Lenovo Thinkpad T-420 (Ships USA)
- $10: Receive a Dreamscape Foundation T-Shirt (Ships USA), a chance to win a $15 Amazon gift card, and two entries to win a Lenovo Thinkpad T-420.
- $20: Receive a Dreamscape Foundation T-Shirt (Ships USA), 1 Mystery Steam Key, a chance to win a $25 Steam gift card, and four entries to win a Lenovo Thinkpad T-420.
- $50: Receive a Dreamscape Foundation T-Shirt, a Dreamscape Hat, 3 Mystery Steam Keys, a chance to win a $55 Amazon gift card, and ten entries to win a Lenovo Thinkpad T-420.
- $100: Receive a Dreamscape Foundation T-Shirt, a Dreamscape Hat, 5 Mystery Steam Keys, a chance to win an Alexa Echo Dot (3rd Gen) with a smart plug, a chance to win a $100 Steam gift card, and twenty entries to win a Lenovo Thinkpad T-420.
- $250: Receive a Dreamscape Foundation T-Shirt, a Dreamscape Hat, 10 Mystery Steam Keys, an Alexa Echo Dot (3rd Gen) with a smart plug, a $30 Amazon gift card, a blog feature about you on our website, a chance to win a $100 Steam gift card, and fifty entries to win a Lenovo Thinkpad T-420.
5 Tips on How to Design for Accessibility
The United States government reports that 8 million people over the age of 15 suffer from low vision or blindness. That doesn’t include the 8 million with a hearing disorder or the 35 million with mobility challenges. With so many in North America alone facing these physical challenges, there is no reason why we shouldn’t design for accessibility challenges as well as functionality and aesthetics. But how do you go about identifying and tackling accessibility issues for numerous disabilities? Just the thought alone may feel like a monumental undertaking. Yet it’s easier than you might think.
5 Ways to Help You Design for Accessibility ChallengesWhether you’re designing graphics, creating a website, or developing software and apps, accessibility belongs in design. While the level of assistive requirements varies from project-to-project, there are many basic best practices that can help you design for universal user experiences. Below are 5 ways you can make your digital designs more user-friendly to everyone, including individuals with disabilities.
Don’t Depend on Color to Convey MeaningRemember the photo of the dress that took the internet by storm as people argued over its color? Some claimed it was white and gold; others swore it was blue and black. No one could agree because people weren’t seeing the same things. Without diving into a lengthy explanation involving rods, cones, and the mind’s tendency to make assumptions, this internet disrupting challenge brought to light a fascinating reality: not all of us see colors the same way. This, of course, is especially true for those who are colorblind. Make it a habit of not designing in a way that depends on color to convey meaning. A great example is online forms. Often, we lean on the color red to indicate an error, but what if someone can’t see it? The best way to audit yourself is to take a look at your design in a grayscale format. Make indicators and interactive elements clear so that users can identify them even without color.
Allow Users to Control Automated ContentSliders, videos, and other automated elements look sleek and draw the eye. However, they don’t do you any good if they’re moving too fast for users to read or interact with them. Instead of finding an alternative, simply add control elements such as a pause, back, and forward button. These are easily integrated into website, software, and application designs. Plus, you’ll likely find that a lot of users will use them! When you give control over automated content, you allow the user to digest information at their own pace and even go back to portions of your media they want to revisit. This is great for engagement and conversions.
Always Use Sufficient ContrastWhen it comes to overlaying text, buttons, images, and other elements, it’s important to consider the contrast between content and its background. You can find more information about contrast minimums through this online resource. Light gray text on a white background is hard for most people to read, but it can be impossible for others. The key is to provide enough contrast to make readability possible, especially for those whose vision is limited.
Provide Alternative Navigation Options for Your UsersThis accessibility practice is something you may have already seen on many sites without realizing its connection. Websites and interactive software should provide easy navigation options, including:
- Keeping your navigation bar or menu design consistent across all pages
- Providing alternative navigation options such as sitemaps or search bars
- Provide orienting clues such as clear, easy-to-read headings and breadcrumbs