Becoming Independent

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If there’s anything in the world that is understood at a Tech Expo, it’s that gaining independence is the motivating factor behind the effort. When a person is faced with the prospect of relying on others in order to accomplish their daily needs, the reality of it can be daunting. That is why the Tech Expo was founded, so that an information campaign could take shape so as to let the world know, independence can be gained; and here’s how.

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There is a line to be drawn between having someone help you get the things you need, and the ability to get them yourself. In essence, this is the line between feeling trapped and feeling free. Staff and exhibitors at the Tech Expo know this; many have lived it; and that is why the Tech Expo is so important. The technologies and services on display are there for the purposes of showing those — who might not otherwise know — how to become independent, because independence is freedom.

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Interestingly enough, one of Tech Expo’s sponsors just so happens to be entitled Becoming Independent. From their website we learn, “Becoming Independent serves people with varied interests and life objectives who share the common goal of realizing their abilities. They are workers, artists, gardeners, physical fitness buffs, family members and neighbors. Close to 1,000 individuals seek exploration and development through four key offerings at BI: Community Living Supports, Personal Enrichment, Employment Services and Transportation” (Source).

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Like what you’re reading? Join us at Tech Expo 2015 to find out more about Becoming Independent, and to learn more about “becoming independent” in and of itself.

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People Helping People at a Tech Expo

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DSLC’s Tech Expo, held yearly at the fairgrounds in Santa Rosa, CA, is an all-day effort, a full-scale campaign to promote awareness as to the products and services that are available to both the disabled and the greater community at large. But its mission could not be accomplished without the hard work put forth by the people who stand behind the principle. The people you see at a Tech Expo are there to provide information to the people who need to know that information, people who otherwise may not have known about a particular kind of assistive technology, or a certain service that can increase independence.

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Tech Expo exhibitors are the backbone of this incredible event. They are the ones who take the time to show up, and they are the ones who explain. Tech Expo exhibitors are the ones who’ve spent their lives immersed in the technology and services they know so well, and the Tech Expo is their chance to reach out, to speak to the public about the ways in which they can help others.

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The Tech Expo is a place of exploration for visitors, where the size and scope increases each year the event is held, testament to the demand for an event like this to occur. The Tech Expo is, in essence, a critical opportunity to educate and inform, where the chances stand that if even one life has been touched, then the event becomes more than worth the effort.

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This year’s Tech Expo celebrates two occasions: the tenth time it has been put on, meaning that DSLC’s Tech Expo has been running for an entire DECADE! And the anniversary of the ADA — The Americans with Disability Act — a groundbreaking law that was passed in 1990, resulting in life-enhancing, society-altering changes that affected millions. Our exhibitors will be working with DSLC to commemorate these occasions, to make the magic happen, and they’ll be waiting and eager to see and speak with you as you arrive with any questions you might have.

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Not doing anything on October 9th this coming fall? Why not drop by and see what’s going on? Drop by even if you are, because you never know what you might find; something may be there that might be important to the life of someone you know.

Join us for Tech Expo 2015!

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Snoopy Supports Tech Expo 2015, Santa Rosa, CA

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Centers for Independent Living

The term “center for independent living” has been inverted throughout the course of its existence so that some have come to know it as “independent living center.” The fact remains, the two are one in the same, where both are endowed with their respective acronyms CIL and ILC. The Independent Living Research Utilization (ILRU) website provides a textbook definition, informing us that “the term ‘center for independent living’ means a consumer‑controlled, community‑based, cross‑disability, nonresidential private nonprofit agency that is designed and operated within a local community by individuals with disabilities and provides an array of independent living services” (Source). To put the matter more simply, a CIL/ILC is a place where persons with disabilities can go to gain independent living skills, to get help with learning how to live independently.

And while knowing what a CIL/ILC is and can do is important, it is from the center in Berkeley that we get a brief history: “The Center for Independent Living, Inc. (CIL) emerged from the independent living movement of the 1960’s as a powerful social catalyst on the University of California at Berkeley campus. There Ed Roberts, Hale Zukas, and Jan McEwan Brown joined forces to lead a movement that made the full academic and social life of the college accessible to all. In 1972, these students along with community members formally incorporated as the Center for Independent Living, Inc.” (Source). As seen in the previous post and here, the Ed Roberts center is a tribute to the work of these individuals.

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Since then, and in addition to this incredible campus, CIL/ILCs have turned up all over America, with a screen shot of their locations in Northern California revealing their prominence in our state alone:

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By clicking the ILRU Projects link from their website, you can find a guide to CIL/ILCs wherever in the United States, by clicking any state from the map:

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Disability Services & Legal Center (DSLC) is proud to be a part of the vast number of CIL/ILCs that have sprung up around the country, going so far as to not only embrace its status as a center for disabled individuals, but by offering free legal services to those who come up against the barriers that still haunt the disabled community.

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To learn more about DSLC, you can visit the website at any time, and you can drop by for one of our orientations, Mondays at 1:30pm. And if you’re interested in learning about our services and meeting the staff in person, you’ll have a chance when you come to visit Tech Expo 2015. We hope to see you there!

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Universal Design

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Can you imagine the structures of a world without barriers? In truth, the prospect has been contemplated, due in large part to the disabled community. The notion comes off as so rewarding to society that a website has been devoted specifically to the cause. And it is here that we can find a well-articulated definition of exactly what Universal Design is:

“Universal Design involves designing products and spaces so that they can be used by the widest range of people possible. Universal Design evolved from Accessible Design, a design process that addresses the needs of people with disabilities. Universal Design goes further by recognizing that there is a wide spectrum of human abilities. Everyone, even the most able-bodied person, passes through childhood, periods of temporary illness, injury and old age. By designing for this human diversity, we can create things that will be easier for all people to use” (Source).

How do you like that? Universal Design considers more than just producing structures that are accessible for the disabled community; not that this isn’t worthy in and of itself. It sounds as though Universal Design is a philosophy that the creative minds and engineers of the world should embrace. It is a way of thinking that is inclusive, a way of bringing humanity together. Consider a great, visually presented example:

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The effect here is stunning. A simple comparative analysis tells us precisely what the captions convey, that when thinking with the diversity of society in mind, the outcome eliminates the potential for polarization and instead, incites unification along with — satisfyingly enough — aesthetic principle. The second picture presents us with an ideal world that not only serves scope of utility, but brings out the beauty to be found in architectural creativity. Here we have the idea embodied in a more modern form:

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Coined by Ronald L. Mace of North Carolina State University, Universal Design has come to be further studied through collaboration with architects, product designers, engineers and environmental designers, culminating in seven basic principles:

1. Equitable Use: The design is useful and marketable to people with diverse abilities.
2. Flexibility in Use: The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities.
3. Simple and Intuitive Use: Use of the design is easy to understand, regardless of the user’s experience, knowledge, language skills, or current concentration level.
4. Perceptible Information: The design communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions or the user’s sensory abilities.
5. Tolerance for Error: The design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions.
6. Low Physical Effort: The design can be used efficiently and comfortably with minimum fatigue.
7. Size and Space for Approach and Use: Appropriate size and space is provided for approach, reach, manipulation, and use regardless of user’s body size, posture, or mobility. (Source)

To think of Universal Design applying primarily to architecture is understandable, but we can find elements of the philosophy in one of our most used products of daily life, the standard door knob:

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In the next case, we have the features of a bathroom accommodating the products we use, as well as accommodating the need for safety — the items in view have been sleekly modified so that they can be used as grab bars:

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One thing you can count on is that Disability Services & Legal Center (DSLC) supports the philosophy of Universal Design in its entirety. To celebrate and empower the cause, DSLC conducts a technology exposition on a yearly basis, right here in Santa Rosa, California. Here you can learn about the products and services which embrace Universal Design as they are united in a day of presentation and exploration. We hope you’ll take a moment to come and see the wonderful displays and the people who accompany them, which is really a fancy way of saying:

Join us for Tech Expo 2015!

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Modified Vehicles

Exactly what is a modified vehicle?

A modified vehicle is any mode of transportation that has been uniquely engineered to aid persons with disabilities, so they can gain independence in the world of which they live. Generally speaking, modifications are often found in vans for accessibility:

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Bicycles can be modified too:

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But who says modifying a vehicle has to be about accessibility alone? Can’t we have a little fun? Here we have access to NASCAR!

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DSLC’s Tech Expo 2015 will be displaying modified vehicles for you…

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…and did you know that our friends at Accessible Mobility Center will be there to help you make decisions about products?

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Join us for Tech Expo 2015 for modified vehicles and much more!

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And THANK YOU to everyone who has been visiting, liking, and following our blog!

Assistive Technology Awareness

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The Assistive Technology Industry Association‘s webpage sums up the meaning of assistive technology with great clarity, telling us that assistive technology (often abbreviated as AT) is any item, piece of equipment, software or product system that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities.

AT can be low tech like communication boards made of cardboard or fuzzy felt.
AT can be high tech such as special purpose computers.
AT can be hardware such as prosthetics, attachment devices (mounting systems), and positioning devices.
AT can be computer hardware, like special switches, keyboards, and pointing devices.
AT can be computer software such as screen-readers or communication software.
AT can be inclusive or specialized learning materials and curriculum aids.
AT can be specialized curricular software.
AT can be much more, including electronic devices, wheel chairs, walkers, braces, educational software, power lifts, pencil holders, eye-gaze, and head trackers.
(Source)

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If there’s any one thing the Tech Expo 2015 will focus on, you can rest assured, it will be Assistive Technology.

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