November 21, 2009

Dear parents,

I am writing to invite you to participate in an online discussion forum. This is part of a research study about the friendships of children with cerebral palsy (CP).
Results of this study will help professionals (teachers, speech-language therapists, support staff and others) to provide better supports to children with CP to promote their social involvement.
Parents who participate in the study will join in a focus group conversation on an Internet message board with other parents of children who have CP.
If you have a child with cerebral palsy between 5–11 years old, and would like to join in the discussion, or if you have any questions about the study, please contact Adam Bowker at Penn State University.

email: adam.bowker at  (replace the at with @)
phone: 8l4-865-585o

Dexter doing science

Stand back. I'm going to do SCIENCE!


more cyborg stuff

November 18, 2009

IEEE has a breakdown of the costs to go as close to full-cyborg as it is medically possible at this time.

On being a Cyborg

November 13, 2009

I’ve blogged on Aimee Mullins before. People like her really reinforce my thinking that we need to reassess how we define “disability” as a society. It’s not about differences between what one person can do compared to “normal” people.


She recently wrote an essay about athletes like Oscar Pistorius, who I’ve written about, also. We are augmenting ourselves with technology—both the abled and disabled—and it isn’t going to stop.

The fact is, no two people are the same. And there isn’t one “bell curve” that we can sort people onto, there are countless. Everyone is good at, and poor at, different things for different reasons. And our traditional view of “normal” totally breaks down for individuals who are truly exceptional… beyond 99th percentile (or far below 1st percentile).

As another example (also from South Africa), consider runner Castor Semenya, who is intersexed. Semenya has male genes and features, but she competes as a woman. Unfair? World class athletes are genetic freaks of nature anyway; why are certain specific genetic oddities “unfair” and others are acceptable?

You have to look at how people to how they coexist with their environment. Semenya isn’t “disabled” and, other than having no legs, neither is Aimee Mullins. And just like how materials scientists can engineer carbon fiber legs, architects can add ramps and elevators, surgeons can implant sensory devices… society is comprised of us. We are the raw materials. We can engineer ourselves and our relations with one another to make for a more hospitable world for everyone, even those beyond the top and bottom 1%ile.

Artie from Glee

Artie Abrams from Glee

Glee (9pm Wednesdays on FOX) is a musical comedy about a high school glee club. It has a sortof Freaks and Geeks vibe about it in that it talks about the divide and also the overlaps between jock and nerd cliques.One of the members of the Glee Club from the beginning has been Artie.

It has a rather large ensemble cast, so up to this point Artie hasn’t really had an episode yet. Last night it was his turn. The school will only provide a standard bus for the club to go to a competition and the club needs to raise the money to rent a wheelchair-accessible bus

As a bonus, there was a subplot about the evil cheerleading coach allowing a girl with Down Syndrome onto the cheerleading squad. (Also, damn the writers for making the villain of the show into a sympathetic character!) Yes, she has a sympathetic moment even after earlier in the episode she gives a hilariously incomprehensible speech about how wheelchair ramps encourage laziness in the ablebodied students by giving them a way to avoid the stairs.


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