Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Gratitude Campaign

The Gratitude Campaign is a way for people to say "thank you" quickly and easily to those who serve without even having to approach them.

Visit the site:

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Morphing Handcycle: What podcast's can bring you!

A focus of my January column in PN Magazine is podcasts; and today I'll be turning that written column into a podcast example for readers. Here's another perfect example podcast focused on technology, in this case a morphing handcycle, that readers may find interesting.

Here's the episode, a SolidWorks Podcast.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

New Technology--New Issues

I subscribe to a number of news feeds and Google alerts that focus on technology and disability. Here's a story I have been reading about and because of my interest in the iBot--it has tangible ramifications for those like me living with a mobility impairment. Allow yourself to imagine the management at an amusement park saying, "no baby strollers allowed." The story...its about a disabled man who was asked to leave his mobility aid outside a nation-wide chain bookstore.

The conflict, which escalated with threats — by both sides — of calling the police, raises questions about how the increasingly popular device should be treated when used by those with disabilities.

Similar cases around the country are working their way through the courts as officials grapple with whether the Segway should be treated as a wheelchair.

Read the full article.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Premier of a New Movie

Last week my I described how by watching others, persons living with disability could LEARN a lot. This week a new movie, Music Within, premiered in theaters across the country with the potential to TEACH others, the non-disabled, a lot. Movies, like all compelling stories, reach the masses, and this one has the star power and distribution to make it big. Though I don't live close enough to a theater now playing it and therefore haven't seen Music Within yet, I definitely plan to! More information at the movie's Website,
"This is a must see film far every American. Opportunities are what you make of them and Richard Pimentel's life story reminds us that America owes a twice debt to its Veterans, Service Disabled Veterans, Guard and Reserve. First, for putting an the uniform of our country and serving to protect the interests of our nation; and then upon their return to civilian life to serve once again with a keen dedication and commitment gained through that service. This indomitable Veteran spirit is seen across the globe in towns and cities and Music Within serves to remind us that one person does indeed make a difference."
Walter G. Blackwell/President and CEO
The Veterans Corporation

Sunday, October 21, 2007

You can observe a lot by just watching.

The title of today's post is actually a quote from Yogi Berra. In the context of a sports competition it make a lot of sense to watch or observe others, especially the opposing team. We can all do well by observing others and when living with disability, seeing how others do things can provide us inspiration or ideas how we might overcome obstacles that slow our progress.

If you thought the video I posted recently about a though controlled wheelchair was interesting, check out these videos of people living with disability using assistive technology to move their mountains!
Inspiring videos of disabled people using assistive technology

A few examples of what these videos show:

* A guy with spinal muscular atrophy playing World of Warcraft and Unreal Tournament 2004 using only his thumb: One Thumb to Rule Them All
* A woman with ALS controlling her computer with a switch taped to her cheek: A pivotal role in the household
* A girl with athetoid cerebral palsy who can write and draw thanks to the computer: Me and my computer
* A woman with cerebral palsy who uses her computer to do graphic design work: We can because we think we can

Read the referenced article with video links.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Worthy of Emulation

There are some initiatives that when I read about them I get excited. Today I read that 21 organizations in England are working together to leverage their missions and make a united impact.

People living with disabilities will have greater access to information technology as part of yesterday’s funding announcement from the Big Lottery Fund’s BASIS programme....
The project offers people with disabilities living across England assistance in using IT to increase independence and maximise their potential. Through a cascade approach, knowledge, skills and materials will be provided to community partners, who train voluntary and community organisations (VCOs), and in turn provide improved facilities and services to individuals with disabling conditions.

It seems that all too often well intentioned organizations and individuals shy from working together; competition for precious dollars is fierce. I take to heart this example for finding others who share a vision and then work for a win-win dynamism.

Read the full article.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Dude...don't drink too many beers.

In a previous post, I wrote about the iBot, an advanced mobility device that took many years to go to market. Hear is a device that offers tremendous promise for persons living with severe disabilities, but as my title indicates, when sitting in this chair...let's keep things sober. ;)
A wheel chair being developed by Ambient will allow users to control its movement with just their thoughts -- a breakthrough device that could be a huge help for the paralyzed. Called the Audeo, the chair works by intercepting brain signals sent to your larynx and decoding them to match previously recorded words, such as "forward," "back," or "fire laser."

Read the full article.

Friday, September 21, 2007

In Case of Emergency: And you are disabled?

In my work I am often required to attend meetings in the heart of one of California's earthquake hot-spots; San Francisco. That's my impression at least, and for a person living with a mobility impairment like myself, an earthquake of 7.0 on the Richter's scale would most likely make San Francisco seem like 1906 all over again.

So how does a person living with disability prepare for the inevitable earthquake, hurricane, or tornado? Becoming informed is a great place to start. Here is a good article: Emergency Information for People with Disabilities.
IV. Home and Family Preparedness


Emergency Information for People with Disabilities
By John Cavanagh and Anne Malia

According to the National Organization on Disability, of the 54 million Americans with disabilities, 61% have not made plans to quickly and safely evacuate their homes, in the event of an emergency. Also, 46% of people with disabilities do not know whom to contact about emergency plans for their community. 53% percent say that they have not made plans to quickly and safely evacuate their home and 32% report that plans have not been made to evacuate them from their workplace in case of a disaster. These statistics illustrate the necessity of continuing to promote the importance of emergency preparedness for those with disabilities....

Read the full article.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Work a Call Center from Home

I have written about this before, technology's power to bring the job to you...or bring you to the job. I monitor news daily for stories that cover telecommuting and employment while living with a disability. Here's an interesting read about how the Purple Heart Service Foundation (PHSF) is helping to put combat-wounded veterans back to work.

The Veteran’s Business Training Center provides online job training and placement to disabled and combat-wounded veterans by using the Internet and web-based technology. In setting up the training center, the PHSF was challenged with finding a new career for these veterans that would allow them to make a good living while working from home. After researching a number of different fields, the Foundation discovered that, in order to ensure they had the best agents, many call centers were hiring at-home agents. Based on this finding, the PHSF decided to develop an intensive call center agent training program, focused on graduating highly-skilled, at-home agents.

Read the full abstract.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

CISCO Certification; Is it your cup of tea?

In my reoccurring theme on employment and living with disability, check out this story.
Balboa Project: Enabling Wounded Warriors To Join Workforce

The US Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment(ODEP), parterning with the Naval Medical Center in San Diego and Cisco has created a Transition Training Academy (TTA). This academy is a pilot project which prepares disabled veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq for job opportunities, by helping them to hone their IT skills and providing them with a marketable credential in the employment area and CISCO certification.

Read the full article.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Advantages of Teaming on IT

As I have featured here before, the Information Technology (IT) space offers endless possibilities for persons living with disabilities; even advantages for teaming veterans. Today's news clearly demonstrates what I mean...
VIENNA, Va., Aug. 17 /PRNewswire/ -- A team led by MicroTech, LLC, a premier Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned and 8(a) Small Business has been selected by the U.S. Air Force for the Contracted Advisory and Assistance Services III (CAAS III) program. The team will compete for task orders under the five-year, indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract, which has a total combined value of $400 million to the eight teams that will compete for awards.
Read the full article.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

More on Telecommuting

OK...I am interested in empowering people to work, but I have several reasons. First and foremost it provides income; but that is not the only way employment improves lives. I contend that people living with disability and who are employed help to improve society by breaking down the barriers of ignorance about disability. We all come with our own personality, gifts, and talents, and by working we naturally are interacting with others. Whether they be co-worker or clients, in this interaction we teach others how to live with disability and how really ABLE we are. But enough of my soapbox. Here's yet another indication that people are starting to "get it"; an article from Federal Computer Week that points out telecommuting isn't so uncommon.
Wilsker: Work by any other name
Increasingly, organizations think of telework as part of their strategy for letting employees be mobile
By FCW Staff
Published on August 6,2007
We still call it telework, or telecommuting, even though I have affectionately started using the term “the T-word” to describe it. When you ask people if they telework, only about 10 percent say they do. But if you ask if they work at home or in planes, trains, automobiles and hotels, just about everyone acknowledges that they are mobile workers....

Read the full article.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Been Away - The Hooding

Following the launch of my blog, "Calling Dr. Larsen," I was very faithful to publish posts daily. Over a week ago last Thursday I took a short hiatus to attend my hooding ceremony. It is a special recognition event for doctoral degree candidates during which faculty and University trustees place the doctoral hood over the head of the graduate, signifying his or her success in completing the graduate program. The ceremony is similar to a graduation in that faculty and students are dressed in academic attire. What an event!

I am picking-up where I left off and will strive to keep-up the posts!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Our Bionic Future

I've seen the iBot and sought it's capabilities to enhance my access and abilities. I've pondered what it would take to integrate an affordable computer controlled environmental control system--heck, I carry two 12volt batteries wherever I go. I found the following blog by Brandon Keim exciting to think about. I hope the future isn't too far off.

Wired Science Wonders 002: Frank Moss

By Brandon Keim EmailMay 24, 2007 | 8:58:18 AM

Frank Moss, director of the MIT Media Lab, answers our question: What area or application of science do you feel holds the most potential for the future, and what area or application do you think is the most overhyped?

Read the full blog entry.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Mac User or Thought About it?

Apple makes laptops that work well for persons living with SCI, I should know, I use one (my level of injury is C/5-6 complete). I have a newer MacBook Pro (the 15" model) and I love that with wireless and strategically placed AC cords I can independently move around the office or house and reattach to power my computer. The magnetic AC adapter is what makes this possible.

While we're talking Mac, keeping your computer tuned-up takes time and is work. Here's an article worth reading and learning what is and isn't worth acting on:
Breaking down 52 ways to speed up your Mac
Posted May. 15, ’07, 5:45 AM PT by Derik DeLong
Category | Troubleshooting

It looks like I may have to make debunking Mac speed tips a regular feature. I already criticized a list of 11 things, finding a large portion that were really not helping. With a list of 52, I’m going to be doing a lot of typing. Follow me down the extended section for the smackdown. Read the full article.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

I'm Not an Expert About Anything But Me

As I have relayed earlier, my goal for this blog is to answer reader questions from my quarterly column, Computer Corner, found in Paraplegia News (PN). The column and this blog focus on the intersection of technology and people living with mobility impairments.

I'm not an expert about anything but me; that is, I acknowledge my limitations to offer "expert advice" derived independently. In these entries, I'll convey my though process and methods for researching answers to questions and solutions to problems; in teacher's lingo we called it "think talk." Read my entry of 5/20/07 to learn more about my intentions of this blog.

In an effort to present you opinions other than mine, I created myself an account in Bloglines and today orienting myself to the FREE service, I ran across an article in PC World that presents their pick for "The 100 Best Products of 2007."
[Their] editors rank the best PCs, HDTVs, components, sites, and services. Plus: the products we're looking forward to next year, and which technologies are rising and falling.

Edited by Eric Dahl, PC World
Monday, May 21, 2007 1:00 AM PDT
Google Apps makes the top of their list. Enjoy!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Career in IT Focuses on Ability

When I was doing my undergraduate work in Southern California a professor asked me, "How are you going to write on a chalkboard?" I looked at him puzzled, not believing he was asking such a thing and wondering if he never watched The Other Side of the Mountain. The guy seriously doubted I could teach in a classroom, but he wasn't the first. Over the course of my twenty-years in education I encountered similar instances ignorance too numerous to count. Here's a picture of me teaching 2nd grade in Paradise, CA.

Technology is an equalizer; I point this out in my first column. Here's a great example of my point, a Reuters article that demonstrates how knowledge and technology combine to empower individuals living with disability.
Disabled and Undeterred
17 May 2007 19:40:00 GMT
Kat Burnside
HANOI, Vietnam — Do Duc Cuong has learned to live with his disability well. Most people he meets barely notice that his right forearm is nearly immobile. He was struck with a high fever as a child, he explains, and has not been able to move his right hand since.

"It can't move up," he demonstrates. "Now I have to use my left hand, because it's lame."

For the last three months, Do Duc, now 24, has been learning software skills at PWD Soft, a private enterprise in Hanoi, Vietnam that offers high-tech training to people with disabilities.

Do Duc's experience in the information technology field has boosted his confidence. He no longer fears others knowing about his disability.
Read the article in it's entirety.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Calling Dr. Larsen: a new blog

I am starting this blog on the eve of my first column being published in Paraplegia News (PN). If you are interested in technology (computers, peripherals, the Internet, etc.) and are living with a spinal-cord injury or other mobility impairments / disability, or know and care about someone who does; you're my intended audience. I'll be scanning the news via "Google Alerts" for new and promising advancements in technology, reading several publications and blogs, watching broadcasts, and attending technology conferences; all rich with information I'll be sharing with those tuning-in. Given questions from the readers on PN, I will post them here with my best answer; note however, I don't have all the answers. I welcome your comments and contributions.

Look for my first column in the June (2007) issue of PN.