Wimpy Puts Braille on Burger Buns


Braille in sesame seeds. Pic courtesy of psfk.

Wimpy, the British owned fast food restaurant, recently took the commendable step of introducing Braille menus to better serve its customers with visual impairments. To promote the new menus, Wimpy launched an ingenuous campaign of spelling out Braille messages with sesame seeds on its hamburger buns. Through these messages, the buns described what variety of burger the customer was about to eat. According to Wimpy, the campaign has reached 800,000 sight-impaired South Africans. We’re always psyched to see a company go the extra mile to reach out to people with disabilities, so way to go, Wimpy!

Check out the promotional for the campaign:

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Wearable robot puts paralysed legs through their paces

From www.wired.co.uk/magazine/archive/2012/02/start/step-by-cybernetic-step

Picture courtesy of Wired.co.uk

By Jeremy Kingsley 17 January 12

This is the true integration of man and machine,” says Eythor Bender, CEO of Ekso Bionics, a Californian research lab that has developed an intelligent “wearable robot”.

Bender and his team based the Ekso on a decade of bionics research by the US military. Its motorised leg braces let soldiers carry 90kg loads over long distances by anticipating the wearer’s movement and transferring weight to the exoskeleton frame. The same principles allow paraplegics to walk with motorised legs, by responding to gestures made above the waist.

Its adjustable titanium frame encases the legs, with straps around the waist, shoulders and thighs, and a computer with two batteries sits as a backpack, powering four electromechanical motors that propel the legs. An intelligent algorithm responds to gestures, making use of 15 sensors: as weight is shifted on to one crutch, the leg on the opposite side steps forward accordingly. Bender claims this is just the beginning, and in time lighter, more versatile Eksos will be developed. “We’re taking it step by step.”

Photo: Amanda Boxtel, permanently injured while skiing, wears the Ekso.

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BlazeSports Reflects on MLK Day


Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Pic courtesy of Postmodern Gentleman.

Today is more than a day off of work. It’s a day to honor one of the most inspiring of advocates in history, and to reflect on his memory. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would be turning 83 years old this weekend if he wasn’t struck down by an assassins bullet in 1968. He was only 39 years old when he died, but his impact–and his dream–live on.

The arc of history is long, he said, but it bends toward justice. And the justice that concerned Dr. King was meant for everyone–African-Americans, the poor, women, and, yes, people with disabilities. He stood up courageously on behalf of all who faced injustice and discrimination, and in the years since his untimely death, his mission continues. We have come far, but we still have a long way to go.

We at BlazeSports are taking this day to remember and reflect on the life and legacy of Dr. King, a life that we seek to honor and a legacy we hope to play a role in continuing. King wrote, ““If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

We are moving forward, Dr. King, with you in our hearts.

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Blind Athlete to Compete in New Zealand’s Coast to Coast Multisport


Pic courtesy of Disaboom.

Eleven years ago, Neelusha Memon suffered a brain injury that cost her 70% of her vision. In February, though, she’ll be competing in New Zealand’s grueling Coast to Coast multisport race. The race’s course traverses 151 miles from the South Island’s west coast to its east, and it entails running, cycling, and kayaking elements. Memon, a native of Christchurch, will be competing with a support team to help guide her through the course, but the athleticism and determination are all hers. She tells Disaboom:

    ”I now live with these disabilities but I don’t see them as limiting factors. The major problem I face is how others treat me because of my disabilities,” she says.

    ”That’s why I’m doing the Coast to Coast. I want to prove that people with disabilities can do anything they want if given support. Most non-disabled people would never attempt the Coast to Coast, so I’m going to show that even someone without sight can do it if they want to.”

    Neelusha, 27 and based in Christchurch, is not new to multisport. She has already climbed Mount Aspiring.

    ”My major hurdle there was not my sight, but people’s belief that I would fail because of my sight,” Neelusha says.

Way to go, Neelusha! We here at the blog will keep you updated on her results!

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Quadriplegic Man Dies After Losing Health Insurance


Rasul “Rocky” Clark. Pic courtesy of the Chicago Tribune.

Rasul “Rocky” Clark was a backup running back for Eisenhower High School in Blue Island, Illinois. After the starter separated shoulder during a game in 2000, Rocky finally had his chance to get a few carries. Four plays in, a tackle left him with two broken vertebrae and a damaged spinal cord.

Despite this, the newly-quadriplegic Rocky managed to thrive, pursuing interests in art and poetry. His success was due in no small part thanks to the excellent medical care he received thanks to an insurance policy provided by Community High School District 218. The costs of services like round-the-clock nursing care added up, however, and this policy had a $5 million lifetime cap. The insurance agency, Health Special Risk Inc, summarily dropped him.

The results were heartbreaking. From the Chicago Tribune:

At the time his policy ended, Clark said he felt he was being punished for living too long. Many quadriplegics die within 10 years after their injury because of lung or kidney failure. But Clark was able to thrive, in part because of the meticulous health care he received, his physician and family members said.

After losing coverage, Clark relied on Medicaid, some state support and his mother, Annette, who did her best to perform the work formerly handled by three nurses.

The loss of coverage also meant Clark could no longer afford to have helpers take him to his former school to give pep talks or volunteer as a coach. He had hoped to enroll in college art classes but could not pay for them after the policy expired.

Rocky passed away on Thursday at age 27.

The failure here is the failure of all of us. When we allow health care to be doled out based almost solely on profits, we participate in a culture that has little compunction about kicking a man like Rocky to the curb when he gets “too expensive,” too harsh on the bottom-line. This man–this artist, poet, and athlete who loved his mother and had a megawatt smile–deserved to be treated as more than number on the liabilities ledger of Health Special Risk Inc.

Angry and vitriolic conversations about the abstract ideas surrounding health care frequently miss the mark. The heart of the issue is not about pie in the sky philosophies and ideologies; it’s about real people, people like Rocky.

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Bobsleigh & Skeleton in the 2018 Paralympics?


Pic courtesy of the Whistler Sliding Center.

If things go according to Bob Balk’s plan, we could see bobsleigh and skeleton sledding join the Paralympic program in time for the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang. Balk, the chairman of the International Paralympic Committee Athletes Council, has submitted a proposal to add sliding sports to the slate for 2018. The sports are still in their developmental phases; there has been only one international school for aspiring bobsledders and skeleton racers with disabilities. Balk, however, is confident that the sport get things together in time to be viable for Pyeongchang. He tells Inside World Parasport:

“For standing, ambulatory athletes, they just need a sled and a helmet and go for it … But for Para athletes and bilateral amputees, we are going to have to start not running.

“For Para athletes, we’ve basically created a support for your lower legs so it’ll run on the ice behind the sled.

“I can kind of keep things together and therefore it makes the sport possible for disabled athletes and therefore a potential future Paralympic sport.

“Hopefully we can get onto the programme in the future it all works out and hopefully as soon as the 2018 Paralympics.”

The Winter Paralympics currently have only four sports on the program: sledge hockey, wheelchair curling, alpine skiing and nordic skiing/biathlon. This has left the IPC eager to expand its offerings. Bobsleigh and skeleton could certainly make incredibly exciting additions to the slate. Seriously, could imagine some Pistorius-level sprinters pushing a bobsleigh? Here’s to hoping Balk and his allies manage to develop this sport into Paralympic condition ASAP.

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Happy (Belated) Independence Day, Haiti!


Pic courtesy of the Corhinn Show.

So I’m a couple days late on this, but Sunday, January 1st was Haiti’s Independence Day. 208 years ago, the Haitian people did something incredible. They threw off the crushing yoke of slavery, drove their French overlords off of their island, and established the second democracy in the Western Hemisphere. The years since have not always been easy ones, but through them all, the Haitian people have shown the resolve and resilience passed on from their revolutionary forefathers.

BlazeSports is proud to work with and to serve so many amazing Haitians. We join Secretary of State Clinton in wishing them a happy Independence Day and look forward to a continued partnership in the future.

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