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The story of Prashant Naik, public sector bank employee and NewzHook user

“Access to news has never been so easy!”

Prashant Naik, I am a public-sector bank employee having low vision.  I am passionate about technologies for the blind as well as latest news on tech and social activities happening in the disability sector.

My need to have a low vision friendly news app is totally fulfilled by NewzHook.  App provides me ease and convenience to read and keep me updated daily.  It has simple and clutter free interface. Since its launch in March 2016, I am hooked to this accessible news app.  NewzHook is accessible for deaf, blind and surely for low vision persons like me.  It’s high contrast and large font features work perfectly.  They truly enhanced app’s accessibility.

Another awesome feature of NewzHook is news are structured in diverse categories.  I regularly check news from disability, inclusion and accessibility areas.  And yes, the ‘event’ section keeps me updated with coming up events well in advance. NewzHook sign language news is such a unique service for deaf.  Team NewzHook, you guys are doing fantastic job.  Thank you so much.

Read more about how NewzHook is breaking down barriers to accessing the news by reading the factsheet.

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The story of Gabriele, a Pedius app user

“Pedius’ use of advanced speech recognition technologies has made an incredible impact for those it has reached in the Deaf community, especially myself.”

My name is Gabriele and I am Deaf. One night, I was driving home by myself and was involved in a car accident. Normally when one has an accident, they exchange information with the other driver. This was not my case. Once the other driver discovered I was Deaf, he left me stranded on the side of the road without any means of communication. My only option was to wait patiently until somebody passed by. Scenarios such as these were my biggest fear.

Now with Pedius, I do not have to rely on anything or anyone other than the comfort of my mobile smartphone. I have the privacy and freedom of a normal phone call without the use of a third party interpreter, available 24/7. The application allows flexibility for the user as a call can begin either by speech or text, and in every case when your contact speaks, subtitles of their message will appear on your device in real time.

Pedius’ use of advanced speech recognition technologies has made an incredible impact for those it has reached in the Deaf community, especially myself. In today’s world, every person relies on their mobile phone and for the first time I am able to do the same. I am able to have independence with just an application. My only wish for Pedius’ growth is the ability to keep improving technologies, expand as far and wide as possible, and keep adding services to help people like me.

Learn more about how Pedius allows poeple who are deaf to make phone calls without needing an interpreter by reading the factsheet.

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The story of Lucy Bennett, senior designer for AMAC Accessibility

“Equal, inclusive access empowers everyone to achieve.”

My name is Lucy Bennett, and I’m the senior designer for AMAC Accessibility. For the last year and a half, I’ve been responsible for AMAC’s marketing media and work to make sure we’re promoting ourselves with the same level of accessibility that our services provide. I also began working as a leader in the design community to push for more accessibility and inclusion in the field for people with disabilities.

I’ve always had the desire to be a leader in the design community, but didn’t feel I had the skill or unique experience to contribute. Once I began the ICT Accessibility MOOC and learning about universal design and the ways designers can benefit from the accessible ICT practices, I found a cause to be passionate about and a unique viewpoint to share with emerging designers.

Equal, inclusive access empowers everyone to achieve. Through taking the ICT Accessibility MOOC, I’ve been able to teach others about accessibility and how it can improve the human condition. I was invited to be a member of AIGA’s Diversity & Inclusion task force; shortly after receiving that invite, I was also asked to participate in AIGA’s first multi-chapter design thinking workshop, relaunching the EMERGE 2.0 programming to help emerging designers.

Through the EMERGE 2.0 programming, we’ll craft an accessible framework that will be used nationwide to empower a new generation of designers, giving them new opportunities for growth and leadership.

Read more about the ICT Accessibility Open Online Course and how it is promoting accessibility be reading the factsheet.

Geert Dumoulin enjoying Bruges by wheelchair

The Story of Geert Dumoulin, regular visitor to Bruges

“I don’t have to stay in the main shopping street anymore”

My name is Geert Dumoulin, aged 55. I am married and father of 5 children. Since I had a car accident when I was 22, I spend my life in a wheelchair.

As a passionate construction worker I had never expected that there would be so many barriers: roads and boardwalks in a poor condition, lacking signage, inaccessible entrances and barely any public accessible toilets.

Visiting Bruges wasn’t easy, then. Usually, we would only walk in the main shopping street, because I didn’t want to be confronted with inaccessibility all the time. Historical buildings typically had a main entrance with steps and practically never a ramp or an alternative entrance. Shops, pubs and restaurants didn’t have an accessible toilet. And if they had it, nobody knew. I was lucky to have a partner who could assist me.

Today, the websites www.visitflanders.com/accessibility and (in Dutch) www.toevla.be provide the necessary (checked) information to help you organise a trip or holiday.

The map and brochure ‘Bruges accessible for everybody’ help so much. The itinerary leads almost seamlessly to the highlights of the city. The description of points of interest, restaurants, pubs, etc. is a must-read. Public toilets are described in a clear way, with photographs, starting from the path towards them. For accommodation, accessibility labels are used, with more information in the specific brochures from Visit Flanders.

So, when I visit Bruges now, I don’t have to stay in the main shopping street anymore!

Find out more about how Bruges is being made accessible to visitors by reading the factsheet.

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The story of Wael Galmouch, user of the Inclusive Tourism project in Lebanon

“Now I can even invite some of my friends with disabilities to the beach.”

I am Wael Galmouch, and I have always been fond of going to the beach, where my friends and I would walk around and relax. Then I had my accident. I became physically disabled, and since the beach tents that we used to go to were not accessible for people with disabilities, I had to wait for the few occasions when my friends would carry me there. But it was not the same as before, because I had to stay in one spot. I could not reach the water, and we had to cut our trip short when I needed to use the bathroom.

Things changed, however, when the Lebanese Physical Handicapped Union initiated the “Inclusive Tourism” project in Lebanon and adapted tent number 19, the dock from the parking area to the water, in addition to providing an accessible bathroom and menu. Now I am back to visiting the beach as I used to do before my accident, and I can even invite some of my friends with disabilities to join me now that it has become available for all.

 

Find out more about how LPHU are making tourism inclusive in Lebanon by reading the factsheet.

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The story of Marta Gomis, shop assistant in “For & From” Tempe shop

“In our shop all persons with disabilities can make any purchase by themselves.”

My name is Marta Gomis, and I am a 27-year-old girl with Down syndrome. Since October 2010, I have been a shop assistant at the “For & From” Tempe shop in Elche. For me this job is like winning a prize, because I always wished to work in contact with people and in the world of fashion. Encouraged by my parents, I took a vocational training course on commerce. Afterwards, I came in contact with APSA Association, and with my trainers I improved my competences.

Now I have already been working in the shop for seven years, thanks to the opportunity that Tempe gave me. My colleagues and my trainer from APSA help me a lot, and together we solve the little challenges of every day.

I love to help our customers. To service people that I already know makes me especially proud and happy. The experience of these seven years has helped me to become self-confident and to perform my tasks efficiently.

Our shop is very unique since it is a fully accessible space, and is designed so that persons with disabilities like me can work with complete autonomy and independence. Since its opening, adaptations have been made in the shop so that any customer can come on their own. Today, persons with a physical or sensorial disability can make any purchase by themselves, and if they need help, I am ready to provide it!

 

Read more about how APSA provides the possibility of barrier-free Shopping by reading the factsheet.

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The story of Revital Swirski, municipality council member trained by Access Israel

“The PR department has added the option of sending complaints by SMS.”

My name is Revital Swirski-Shurtz. I am a council member in Kiryat Bialik, a municipality in northern Israel. As a person using a wheelchair, I am very much aware of the need for accessibility and am very active in promoting accessibility in my municipality.
My municipality employees have attended three accessibility training sessions conducted by Access Israel, in addition to their famous “Accessibility Tastes Dinner” for the management team.

Besides the fact that the employees were all very moved and excited by the training, one consequence has been that the Collection Department – which has a lot of interaction with the local residents – installed accessibility systems for the hearing and vision impaired, added accessible seats to the waiting area, and even installed an accessible watercooler. The employees have become much more sensitive to and aware of the needs of people with disabilities and say they now feel more confident to communicate with them.
Another innovation is that the Public Relations department has added the option of sending complaints by SMS and has provided a special customized service for people with disabilities. Further, all official ceremonies and events are now fully accessible. More and more residents with disabilities have started to feel comfortable in their interactions with the municipality, and so attend more events and deal more independently directly with the municipality.

Find out more about how Access Israel has developed a business model for training service providers regarding issues of accessibility by reading the factsheet.

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The story of Danyl, user of the tongue-clicking technique, writing to World Access for the Blind

“A few weeks later I was using the little vision I had, together with the white cane and echo location.”

My name is Danyl and I am 12 years old. I was a normal kid, running around with my friends and biking through the nearby hills, until one day, when I was eight, I woke up in the middle of the night. It was hard to breathe so I woke my dad and he phoned an ambulance. The last thing I said was: “I’m dying, dad! I’m dying!” I was on life support for several weeks, and for months afterwards I was completely blind and couldn’t walk at all.

The first week of school in August 2007, three years later, you brought Kerrie and Alex to my primary school. They were blind too, and I think you were training them to be teachers like you. By then, I still didn’t really know a lot about what had happened to me. When you guys first told me what you were about, I honestly thought you were joking. But by the end of the first day, I thought what you guys taught me was brilliant! A few months later, when you and Alex came back to my school, I had practiced my click and was able to do it properly, and I was using the hiking stick and learning the basics of the white cane. I found it really hard at first mixing all three – clicking, walking with the hiking stick, and using the cane. But when you and Alex returned again the next summer, I was surprised by how much walking and clicking we practiced, and I found it became easier.

A few weeks later, I was a lot more confident. When I first came around in the hospital and I really wanted to walk and see again, I didn’t think that all of this would be done for me. Now I definitely think I will be able to walk again and know my ability to see is improving, so I am really, really happy with all the help that I’ve received.

To find more about how the World Access for the Blind has created a technique that helps the visually impaired to use their own ‘human sonar’ to perceive their surroundings by reading the factsheet.

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The story of Seren, user of AlManarah’s International Accessible Library

“Listening to audiobooks fills all of my free time.”

My name is Seren and I am from Kfar Bara, a village in the Triangle Area of Israel. I am very happy to express my enormous gratitude to AlManarah and share with you my experience of how its International Accessible Library saved me emotionally. I used to work as a nurse until I unexpectedly developed an eye disease, which resulted in blindness. I was so frustrated and depressed with my new condition I even contemplated committing suicide.

When I heard about the library from my brother, I became totally consumed with listening to audiobooks, which now fill all of my free time. The audio library of AlManarah has completely empowered me and enabled me to face the sudden loss of my vision.

Find out more about how Almanarah has developed the International Accessible Library by reading the factsheet.

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The story of Barb Most, user of South America for All (SAFA)

“I went to Galapagos and Machu Picchu.”

I am Barb Most, and my first contact with South America for All was a trip to Ecuador/Galapagos and, later, to Peru’s Machu Picchu. I have a progressive neurodegenerative disease, very similar to Lou Gehrig’s disease, called Multiple Systems Atrophy, a rare brain disorder. It affects mobility by paralysis, ataxia, and incoordination. I had the limited use of a walker during my trip to Ecuador, but for the Peru trip I was mostly limited to a wheelchair.

Prior to my diagnosis, I was an active professional as a medical device auditor, which required travel both in the United States and abroad. I also had a busy personal life with my husband, son, and grandchildren, including hunting, fishing, and travelling. Then everything changed, but we decided we hadn’t lost our sense of fun and adventure or of our love of family travel.

South America for All provided the support and framework to travel with mobility impairments by planning for accessible restaurants, transportation, and hotels. They use custom designed wheelchairs for ocean beaches, rainforests, and the stairways of Machu Picchu. South America for All made the impossible possible, and also gave my husband and me the courage and confidence to plan other trips with our family.

Find out more about how South America For All offers tours to various South America destinations that are accessible by wheelchair users by reading the factsheet.