Microsoft wants to help put disabled people on equal footing

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(Photo credit: Microsoft)

(From CNET) — My first brush with accessibility tech was with closed captioning.
Like most people, I took it for granted and mostly ignored it as a setting on my TV. But one day, when I was fed up pausing my movie for the billionth time because an ambulance was blaring down our street, I decided to turn it on. Over time, it changed the way I watch TV — to the point where I miss it when it’s not there.

This is the ideal for people like Jenny Lay-Flurrie, Microsoft’s head of accessibility. She doesn’t just want the world to accommodate people with disabilities, she wants technology just to get better, and as a result benefit disabled people. (read more)


The sentiment of this essay is earnest in its intent. Members of the disabled community are benefiting greatly from an accessibility technology. However, it also is somewhat problematic. The point of contention relates to messaging of the last sentence above. It tends to minimize the real time need for nondisabled folks to focus on persons who are disabled. Albeit aspirational in tone, the statement suggests accessibility game controller technology should be a mere byproduct of overall design enhancement for everyone rather than a specific human rights issue for persons with disabilities. A minor point? Not when it comes to anti-oppression work. The Beyond Diversity Resource Center believes specific emphasis must be directed at mechanisms and conditions that contribute to both the achievements and disappointments that cause and affect disparities in our society.

(Click here to learn more)

Disabled athletes make full-court press at SDSU

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(From the San Diego Union-Tribune) — Akheel Whitehead is proud to have earned 12th place in the long jump at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. But to train for the games, the 22-year-old San Diego State University alumnus had to look off campus for coaching and support. Now, he’s hoping to change the game for other disabled athletes who…

To read more click here


This article reports on efforts to promote the equitable inclusion of everyone in college athletics, including those who may be disabled. And rightly so. Equity is about more than skin color. Its fabric extends to nearly all dimensions related to human identity. It is especially relevant at a systems level, particularly when there exists a dominant identity (i.e., male, white, straight, etc.) that inevitably expresses its “norms” in injurious ways. Whether this happens consciously or unconsciously to a non-dominant group, the outcome is similar: oppression. Identities involving physical and mental ability are no exception. In fact, ableism is one of the most invisible forms of oppression that exist. This makes it a center point for examination. Because of a general lack of awareness (or worse, denial) of even the most common issues associated with persons who have different abilities, it’s critical to acknowledge that ableism is real. Painting persons with a disability in just one dimension is common among even the most well-meaning nondisabled person. It reinforces discrimination and speaks to a dreadful bias that limits the incredible potential of tens of millions of people – approximately one in five, according to the 2000 U.S. Census.

Learn more at Beyond Diversity


New York City Subways A Hurdle For Disabled Riders

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(From National Public Radio) — A round of renovations on New York City subway stations should make the system more wheelchair accessible under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Critics say officials seem to be ignoring the law.

Click here for the full report.


This story illustrates the endless struggles people who are disabled must face. They live in a world that is essentially oblivious to the lack of access nondisabled people take for granted. This, despite laws and policies in place. Two of the culprits: a lack of genuine empathy and absence of awareness – both enable oppression of the disabled to fester throughout our culture. Learn more at Beyond Diversity.


New York City Legalizes Sex Change On Birth Certificate Without Surgery

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Curtis M. Wong of The Huffington Post reports: “Members of NYC’s transgender community and advocates are praising the city council’s vote to pass legislation, making it easier for residents to correct the sex designation on their birth certificates without surgery.” To read more, click here.

Why It’s So Hard For Whites To Understand Ferguson

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Robert P. Jones in The Atlantic states: “One reason for the racial divide over Michael Brown’s death is that white Americans tend to talk mostly to other white people.” He goes on to say: “The shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri…has snapped the issue of race into national focus…causing many Americans to question just how far racial equality and race relations have come, even in an era of a black president and a black attorney general.” To read more, click here.

Anti-Semitism in Greece: How Real?

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w.goldendawngreece-052214In a recent article in The Jewish Daily Forward, Gavin Rabinowitz discusses the ADL (Anti-Defamation League) report that Greece is the most anti-semitic nation in Europe. Reporting on a global anti-Semitism survey Gavin states, “With 69 percent of Greeks espousing anti-Semitic views, according to the survey, Greece was on par with Saudi Arabia, more anti-Semitic than Iran (56 percent) and nearly twice as anti-Semitic as Europe’s second-most anti-Semitic country, France (37 percent). To read more, click here.

Mobility And The Black-White Gap

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Victoria Stilwell of the Bloomberg News reports that Black Americans remain less likely to climb the income ladder and more likely to drop than whites, according to research published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago last month. Thomas Piketty, whose best-selling book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, has spurred debate over income inequality, said in an interview that “the whole structure of inequality of income and wealth in the U.S. is very much related to race.” To read more, click here.

1960 Civil Rights Icon Meets Former Protector

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As reported by Rick Callahan of The Associated Press, Civil rights icon, Ruby Bridges, is praising a now 91-year-old former federal marshal for escorting her more than a half-century ago to and from a previously all-white elementary school as she helped end segregation in New Orleans’ public schools. In this November 1960 photo, U.S. deputy marshals, including Charles Burks, top left, escorted six-year-old Ruby Bridges from William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans, La. To read more, click here.


Anti-Semitism Still A Reality

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According to a report by the Vienna-based European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), anti-Semitism remains a reality for many Jews in Europe. To read more, click here.

Key Dates In Civil Rights Movement

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As reported in Reuters, August 28, 2013 marked the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. The address was a key event in the struggle of African Americans for racial equality.  Major dates in the modern U.S. civil rights movement range from 1948 to 2013. To see the timeline published by Yahoo! News, click here.

Giving to Other People Is Giving To Yourself.

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At TEDxCambridge, Michael Norton shares fascinating research on how money can, indeed, buy happiness — when you don’t spend it on yourself. Listen for surprising data on the many ways pro-social spending can benefit you, your work, and other people. To view the video at the TED website, click here.

Gay Parades Banned In Moscow For 100 years

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Nikolay Alexeyev has been campaigning for years for the right to stage gay parades in Russia

Nikolay Alexeyev has been campaigning for years for the right to stage gay parades in Russia

Moscow’s top court has upheld a ban on gay pride marches in the Russian capital for the next 100 years. Earlier Russia’s best-known gay rights campaigner, Nikolay Alexeyev, had gone to court hoping to overturn the city council’s ban on gay parades. The Moscow city government argues that the gay parade would risk causing public disorder and that most Muscovites do not support such an event. To read more, click here.

Germany Offers Third Gender Option on Birth Certificates

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Beginning November 2013, Germany will be the first country in Europe to offer a “third gender” distinction on birth certificates. A new German law stipulates that children who are born of indeterminate gender no longer have to be categorized as male or female. Instead, parents can choose to leave the space blank on their child’s birth certificate. The individuals can eventually decide whether to identify as male, female or neither. The measure has a shortcoming, however:  those who choose to identify as “blank” will likely encounter a host of bureaucratic headaches when traveling abroad. To read more, click here.

Oppression of LGBT People in Russia Draws Condemnation

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Injured Gay Protestors Surrounded By Russian Police

A recent law signed by President Vladimir V. Putin has ignited international condemnation. The new law, nominally aimed at “protecting” children by banning “propaganda on nontraditional sexual relationships,” is widely understood as an effort to suppress homosexuality and Russia’s fledgling gay rights movement. Russia remains a country where discrimination and even violence against gay people are widely tolerated. To read more, click here.

Prince Harry Defends Gay Soldier From Attack

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To one gay soldier, Prince Harry lived up to his duty to protect those in need. A former fellow infantryman is praising the royal for reportedly saving him after six soldiers supposedly threatened to assault him due to his sexuality while their squad was stationed in Canada back in 2008. To read more about the incident, including an excerpt from Lance Corporal James Wharton memoir, Out in the Army, click here.

Congressional Gold Medal Awarded To Four Girls Killed In 1963 Civil Rights Bombing

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President Barack Obama has signed a bill into law granting the United States’ highest civilian honor to four black girls killed in a civil rights-era church bombing that shocked the nation in 1963. To read more, click here.

FBI: Civil Rights Era Prosecutions Nearly Over

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Under its “Cold Case Initiative” and the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act, the U.S. Justice Department has reviewed deaths that occurred during the civil rights era to look for any cases that could still be prosecuted. For most of the 124 deaths re-examined, investigators issued findings that no further action could be taken. Yet a few cases still remain open. To read the full story, click here.

Civil Rights Heroes Gather On Facebook

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Tara J. Young, a volunteer working on civil rights issues, recently started the Civil Rights Heros on Facebook project, which allows visitors who “like” the page to hear from as many as 100 heroes on significant dates in civil rights history. To read more, click here.

Report: U.S. Imprisonment Rate Soaring

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The rate of imprisonment in the U.S. is alarming. According to a research report, the U.S. has about five percent of the world’s population, but twenty-five percent of the world’s cadre of inmates. This high incarceration rate has broad economic and social implications. To read the report from the Congressional Research Service, click here.


Illinois Issues Civil Union Licenses to Same-Sex Couples

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Patrick Bora, 73 (left), and his partner Jim Darby, 79, show their civil union license at the Cook County Office of Vital Records, Wednesday, June 1, 2011, in Chicago.

Illinois has joined a handful of states and the District of Columbia in providing for civil unions, which give same-sex couples many of the rights and significant legal protections that are afforded to traditionally married men and women. That includes the power to decide medical treatment for an ailing partner and the right to inherit a partner’s property. To read more click here.

To see a listing of states that provide for same-sex marriage, civil unions, and domestic partnership, click here.

Film Festival Puts Human Rights On The Big Screen

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After three years, the Movies That Matter Festival has become a cinematic highlight in The Hague, attracting some 15,000 visitors to the personal stories of people maintaining their dignity under difficult circumstances. The festival includes workshops, debates and educational activities. To learn more click here.

How Abraham Lincoln Really Viewed Slavery

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Here is a book about Lincoln’s views on slavery from historian Eric Foner.  The book offers nuanced perspectives on the subject that go beyond mere finger-pointing and rhetoric. To read a review from click here.

Civil Rights on the Flip Side

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45 recordA researcher has discovered that black gospel musicians addressed civil rights issues on the “B” sides of many vintage recordings. The article links to a Baylor University site for listening to the recordings. To read more click here.

Singapore: Hocus Pocus Human Rights Abuses

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Singapore’s government has a history of impeding free expression. To read more click here.

Justice Department Focuses On Civil Rights

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U.S. Attorney Eric Holder and Assistant Attorney General for Ciivil Rights Tom Perez

U.S. Attorney Eric Holder (left) and Assistant Attorney General For Civil Rights Tom Perez

The Justice Department says that only a dozen U.S. Attorney’s offices now have dedicated civil rights units, but the administration is “working to raise that number substantially.” To read the NPR article, click here.

Honoring a Heroine of the Civil Rights Movement – Dorothy Height – In Song

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Dorothy Height

Dorothy Height is an important but often unmentioned figure in the civil rights movement. This article talks about Height’s life and the effort by musicians like B.B. King and Taj Mahal to create a musical tribute to her that will be filmed for broadcast next year.

Click here to read the article.


U.N. Defends Secretary General on Human Rights.

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U.N. Secretary Ban Ki-moon

In its recent report Human Rights Watch says that the Secretary General suffers from a “crisis of confidence” that prevents him from addressing human rights abuses.

To read more about this topic from BBC News click here.

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