Get That Thing Away From Me!

Much of the fervor behind the Anti-Vaxxing Campaign comes from so-called scientific proof and anecdotal evidence spread across the internet and social media about the grave dangers of immunizations. Convinced they are saving themselves and to a greater extent, their helpless children, from poisonous toxins, Anti-Vaxxing parents run, screaming indignantly, from the syringe. As with any highly-controversial issue, the theory against vaccination is met with significant pushback from equally-convinced immunization enthusiasts. When it comes to getting children vaccinated, very few people fall into the take-it-or leave it camp; still vaccines are certainly not without risks This video, which uses topical situations, humor and likeable anti-heroes to present an opposing argument, affords a concerned community a chance to air the opposing arguments and helps keep the issue alive for debate. Anti-vaxxers are nothing if not committed. Personally I may be a fan of any and all forms of immunization, but I know better than to discuss risks versus benefits with an Anti-Vaxxer. Aside from the obvious return of dangerous, once obliterated diseases, I cannot produce statistics and accurate data to support either side of the argument. Misguided as I believe they might be, most Anti-vaxxers do not actively seek to cause harm. That doesn’t stop me, however from sharing a laugh and a snide comment or two at their expense. Now, thanks to this Girl Pants video production, I am no longer alone with my over-whelming sense of irony.

Consent and Compliance, or Complacence: Who makes the call?

Sleepovers, we all know, can get dicey for young party-goers. Judgement gets clouded for all concerned. “This is hysterical! You gotta post this pic!” Friends may shout. To be fair, 17-year-old Lacey Light-weight probably did look pretty funny, snoring on the rug, with her over-sized Sponge-Bob pillow, dressed in a bright-yellow, bee-striped onesie, covered in dried salt, stale lemon wedges and deep regret. Baby Ian certainly does look cute running through the yard, sans clothing in his three-year-old, albeit adorable, altogether. Unfortunately, some of his adoring observers may not be so benign. Most compelling of all, those sweet twins who live in your town, the ones everyone said would never walk or speak, are taking their first faltering steps and just beginning to make valiant and bold, if heart-breaking attempts to communicate at the age of seven. Who doesn’t want to see some good news reported? In all cases, one might argue, who, if anyone, was around to protect the under-aged subjects of those potentially harmful photos? Who, in fact, is able to protect any of us from the unsanctioned use of photos of ourselves and our loved ones on social media sites. Even parents fueled by their child’s excitement of that snap capture of his or her first kiss may live to regret posting the happy milestone when that same child recalls it with unbridled horror not six months later. How does one determine consent, and compliance versus on-line complacence?

Despite the large number of people who believe a cute, funny, heart-warming or flattering photo is fair game, some urge some caution. Websites dedicated to liability and the weighty responsibility of public posting of images without the consent of adults and minors offer stern warnings. In some cases, such as educational, health care and social services programs, the law and the liability is very clear, and failure to respect privacy and/or obtain adequate consent, has immediate and lasting legal as well as financial consequences. Many users would agree that censoring social media content detracts from our enjoyment of its many benefits. The point of social media in large part, is to share our lives, including the lives of our loved ones with friends and family. Presenting lay materials and amateur photographs on social media may have fewer, clear-cut consequences; still caution is urged by some. At the risk of dredging up multiple clichés: all things considered, there is no turning back, we have passed the point of no return so keep those videos of puppies and laughing babies coming; but we may want to consider the following website excerpts.

Potentially Damaging Photos
Before you upload photos to Facebook, even those of family and friends, think about the consequences of your actions. For example, photos of your co-workers getting drunk at a company party could damage their reputation, even get them fired. A photo of your friend spray painting graffiti may look cool but it’s actually evidence of a crime.
In 2009, an emergency medical technician was fired for posting a photo of a murder victim on his Facebook. The family sued Facebook to get the photos removed from the site even after the offending profile was deleted.
On the business side, the owner of the Humphrey Bogart license sued retailer Burberry for posting a photo of Bogart on their Facebook page. The license holder claims the photo violates trademark and publicity rights.

When Children are Involved
Think twice before uploading photos of children, even your own. Two states, Georgia and New Jersey, are working on laws that make it illegal for anyone other than a parent to photograph a minor.
In addition, online sites must comply with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998, which has rules regarding the posting of identifying information including a child’s school, home town or full name. Though this law does not apply to individuals, Facebook could remove photos that violate the rule at the request of a parent.

Did You Get My Message!!?

“I’ve been trying to reach you! You didn’t get my message?! Yes, it was urgent, note the exclamation points!!! Did you get my voice mail?! I didn’t hear back from you! Did you get my Email?! I sent you an email but you didn’t respond so I sent another email and a PM on face book. Did you get my messages on Facebook!? I sent them about an hour ago. You didn’t get them? I sent a text too. Three of them actually. You didn’t text me back! – Huh? What? – Was it an emergency? Well, yeah, kinda. I wanted to know if you could send me that link, you know, the one about that discount train fare. When do I need it? As soon as possible. I’m thinking of going to the White Mountains next fall. Well, yeah, I know the discount is good forever, but I like to plan ahead. Yeah, I know I can goggle it myself but that takes too much time.”

Face it. You know it’s true. We all have one of these people in our life. They are the reason we really need cell phone and internet carriers to install some type of over-use warning system to report those who cannot or will not demonstrate minimal proficiency in the use of Web 2.0. We have all tried to manage the problem on our own with limited success. In classic “boy who cried wolf” fashion we tend to ignore the plethora of “urgent” messages which inevitably results in an annoying, always inconvenient, face-to-face confrontation. Depending on the level of self-importance and/or social-ineptitude involved, one social media maggot can drain hours from a busy schedule, not to mention how many seeds of resentment they can quickly spread among various parties. As we all know, these social media stalkers are not above contacting your loved ones to convince them that they are TERRIBLY sorry to disturb them, but they have been trying to reach you for a very long time and they are quite certain you have dropped off the face of the earth!! Note the exclamation points. Yeah, I got your message!!!

The Great Connection: A Love Story



He was so young back then. We both were. He was a bit of a free spirit, a gift from Steve Jobs. I’m sorry I don’t have a picture of him. He’s been gone so long. I remember the day he arrived at the office. We watched him settle into his small space on a metal desk beside the receptionist. There were polite introductions made by mildly interested coworkers; but I alone felt an instant connection. I spent weeks getting to know him, to learn his language and teach him mine. Co-workers wondered aloud if my initial interest was becoming a full blown obsession. I hovered over his monitor like a stray dog protecting a scrap of meat. I fought the urge to bury him where only I could find him, and dig him up when no one was looking. Others approached carefully to ask, ever so gently, so apologetically, for their own time alone with him. Smiling bravely, bitterly, I always complied. I know there were times I overwhelmed him with my urgency, frightened him with my yawning dependence. He introduced me to a world I didn’t know was possible. He was a balm to my mind, gold at my finger tips. In time I would come to see his failings, slowly, one by one, even as others were being sucked in; but whenever I left him to give one or both of us some space we both knew I would be back. Sadly, Steve jobs was not immortal. Neither are his computers. The apples grew and ripened and Microsoft exploded. Children grew, grandchildren arrived, the first MAC in my life was replaced by countless PCs. I still love my computer, but I love all computers. If one dies it is quickly replaced. I never again felt the same exhilaration of connecting to that first computer – my first and last office romance. Thanks to my current PC I did once again get a chance to feel a sudden strong connection. After numerous visits to numerous shelter websites I found the one small quiet companion I was seeking. This one is not as fast as most computers, not even as fast as a slug, or a baked potato, but I don’t need a charger or power cord. If I want to see Sully move, even twerk a tailless, corgi butt, all I have to do is return after a short trip, a long day running errands, or a trip to the mail box.

Battle of the Bots

Sometimes you get invited to the party but you can’t get past the guy at the door. He is rarely the host. Usually it’s just some guy who decides, in his beer soaked brain, that you don’t quite fit in for the event in question. You may not be compatible, the most common excuse, or you may not quite measure up to the other, more trendy guests.

Invitee: But, I have an invitation.

Bouncer: We can only let in so many people. Sorry.

Invitee: I brought Crab Puffs. I’m famous for my Crab Puffs.

Bouncer: (Staring intently) What are those, ear bubs? Everyone else is wearing Beats.

Invitee: I can sing, and I play vibes!

Bouncer: Yeah,,, we only have a keyboard. Why don’t you try another party. I’ll take a bite of your Crab Puffs though.

Invitee: BITE ME!

So there you have it. Never mind that you were asked to come. Never mind the fact that you are a fabulous addition to any group. You are blocked. You don’t speak the latest lingo. You don’t own the latest terminology. You brought something great to the party but suddenly, thanks to one obnoxious tool, you are forced to turn away and head home with your world-famous bad attitude and Spicy Crab Puffs.

It happens more than you might think, thanks to CAPTCHA, that haughty internet tool. While most people welcome its automated attempts to detect and block SPAM, some completely harmless visitors are blocked from important sites by the self-same software. Since CAPTCHA reads the automated information from screen readers as Botware, people using screen readers, typically blind people, cannot get CAPTCHA to read their own information as harmless. Attempts to correct the problem offered a voice option that blocks deaf-blind users and people with physical disabilities using voice-activated software, from getting into vital websites. As I see it, internet access is a complex and ongoing challenge that cannot be solved disability by disability. The guy at the door can’t just decide who gets in based on whether guests can get through the door physically or whether they have all the right knowledge or equipment. He, or she, needs to be sure everyone: regardless of appearance and technical savvy, regardless of education or income, regardless of age and ability, can come to the party.

The Digital Divide and IP Relay

This news excerpt describes an essential service meant to ease communication by telephone between hearing people and people who are Deaf and/or Hard-of-Hearing, and/or people with speech difficulty. The system is not typically controversial, but controversy did result when its use was deemed optional and unnecessary by housing providers in Chicago. The service, explained below, is but one example of a digital divide between hearing people and IP Relay users, unique to the Deaf Community and others with communication disorders.

IP Relay Service
Internet Protocol Relay Service allows persons with a hearing or speech disability to use Telecommunications Relay Service through a computer or web-enabled device to communicate through the telephone system with hearing persons.

How IP Relay Service works
IP Relay is accessible through the Internet rather than a TTY or telephone, allowing users to communicate by text.

Chicago – On March 10, Access Living and the law firm Kirkland & Ellis LLP filed Federal Complaints with the United States District court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division.

The complaints are against five housing providers on Chicago’s north and south side for alleged discrimination against people who are Deaf. The complaints claim that members of the Deaf Community were denied rental options because of their disability, violating their rights under the Federal Fair Housing Act. The complaints were based upon fair housing tests that paired two people. Fair housing testing is a controlled method for measuring and documenting variations in the quality, quantity, and content of information and services offered or given to home seekers by housing providers and agents. The testers were matched on all characteristics except that one was non-disabled and one was Deaf. Deaf testers called housing providers using the Internet Protocol Relay System (IP Relay), an internet-based system that allows people who are Deaf or hard of hearing to communicate by telephone. Non-disabled testers called the housing provider using a standard telephone.

In each of the five complaints, the housing provider discriminated against the disabled tester by abruptly hanging up on the tester, refusing to provide information, not returning phone calls, and/or providing different pricing information than was provided to the non-Deaf tester. In one example, when the Deaf tester called, the Defendant cut off the conversation and hung up on the tester. After the tester tried to reach Defendant again, the Defendant sent an email that stated that none of his apartments “are set up for a handicapped person so none of them are handicapped safe.” The non-disabled tester was told that the apartment was available and was invited to a showing later that week.

Deaf For a Day? Compelling Video

Can a hearing man really learn in just one day how it feels to be Deaf? According to this post from Deaf Canada, one man in the UK who was fitted with ear plugs to cancel out many of the sounds in the environment found out almost immediately how lonely and isolating it can be to live with communication barriers in a hearing world. Not only did he report people on the street treating him very differently, often with pity, he even found his co-workers, who had known him for years, beginning to ignore him and his contributions. Emotionally exhausted early on from struggling to communicate and connect, he yearned to withdraw and go home for a nap. Later in the day he was introduced to Robyn, a Hearing Assistance Dog, who immediately reassured him by alerting him to various sounds, such as a knock on the door, instant message and email alerts and approaching cars. Even better, Robyn, who understood his communication barriers, alleviated his sense of isolation. In the morning this British journalist went from a hearing man, to a deaf man, and just for a few hours at least, to a Deaf man with a “D” who now understands the fervor behind proponents of Deaf Culture. What a difference a day makes.

Deaf Blind Online Access Complaints

Hot off the presses:

The Department of Justice is pleased to announce that, as of today, individuals wishing to file ADA complaints with the Department will be able to fill out the form and submit it completely electronically. Filers will also immediately receive a “reference number” that can be used whenever contacting the Department about that complaint. Please visit view the new electronic form. Effective March 15, 2015, e-mail complaints will no longer be accepted by the Department. However, complaints will still be accepted by U. S. mail. Contact the Department’s ADA Information Line at 1-800-514-0301 (V); 1-800-514-0383 (TTY) to receive a paper complaint form by mail.