Changes to federal rules prohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability may help create job opportunities for people with disabilities, but advocates say companies also need disability-friendly work environments. The new rules, which set hiring goals for federal contractors, allow people with disabilities to self-identify on employee paperwork, but consultant Joyce Bender said companies still must show that hiring workers with disabilities is a priority that starts with corporate leadership.
Siblings of people who have disabilities networked and shared stories at a conference in Pittsburgh hosted by the nonprofit Sibling Leadership Network. Executive director Katie Arnold said siblings often are overlooked when a family member has a disability. The group provides a support system and is trying to widen the focus of the Family and Medical Leave Act so they can take unpaid time off work to provide care for their siblings.
A study has found that preschool-age children who have autism respond favorably to a small robot that was programmed with prompts to help teach and reinforce social skills that might otherwise be taught by a therapist. "A therapist does many things that robots can't do," said Nilanjan Sarkar, a Vanderbilt University mechanical and computer-engineering professor who worked on the study. "But a robot-centered system could provide much of the repeated practice that is essential to learning."
Of 256 doctors' offices in four major U.S. cities, 20% said they could not make an appointment for a patient in a wheelchair, noting in many cases an inability to assist the patient from the chair to the exam table. Researchers said doctors need to be reminded of their legal obligations for patient accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Peter Riffle, who has several learning disabilities and has worked as a special educator for 40 years, now addresses groups of educators and students as a motivational speaker. Riffle, who also is an author, encourages students to look beyond their disabilities. "Everybody has strengths and weaknesses," he said. "... Focus on what you can do."