Approvals and critiques from Abilities…

THUMBS UP  to Meryl Streep. While being honoured for her lifetime commitment to film at the Golden Globes, Streep tearfully spoke out about Donald Trump’s mocking of a reporter with a disability during an election press conference. “It kind of broke my heart… I still can’t get it out of my head because it wasn’t in a movie. It was real life. And, that instinct to humiliate when it’s modelled by someone in the public platform, it filters down… it kind of gives permission for other people to do the same thing.”

THUMBS UP  to making hearing more affordable. P.E.I. couple Rose and Mike Barbour are behind a new initiative to make hearing aids more accessible to people who need them. Hear, Hear P.E.I. refurbishes donated hearing aids and works with audiologists on the Island to help fit them. “The thing about hearing loss is it can be corrected for most people with the help of a hearing device, like a hearing aid,” said Rose Barbour. “But because the costs are so high [$2,500 to $6,500 a pair]… it then becomes more of a financial disability than a physical disability. And Mike and I are looking to change that. We feel that every Islander deserves the opportunity to hear.”

THUMBS DOWN to CrossCountry Rail (UK). British Paralympian athlete Anne Wafula Strike is calling for companies who do not provide basic accessible facilities to face “huge fines.” In December, Strike was left humiliated, having to wet herself after a three-hour journey on a CrossCountry train that had no working accessible toilet. Strike had been warned that the toilet was out of order and advised to get off the train at a station along the way if she needed to relieve herself. Turns out there were no staff to help her off the train! CrossCountry has since apologized and promised to learn from the incident.

THUMBS DOWN to UberAssist driver. Canadian Paralympian rower Victoria Nolan was left abandoned by a Toronto UberAssist driver after he saw her guide dog. The driver called to say he was cancelling the ride and hung up on her, despite Nolan explaining the reason for her canine companion. So much for UberAssist!

THUMBS UP  to Tesla driver (and Elon Musk). A German driver sacrificed his safety—and $100,000 Tesla—to nudge a speeding car with its unconscious driver to a safe stop. News of the heroic driver and the Autobahn incident reached Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, who tweeted: “In appreciation, Tesla is providing all repair costs free of charge and expedited.”

THUMBS UP  to keeping the wilderness accessible. Thanks to solid community support, the Wilderness Discovery Resort, near Thunder Bay, will re-open in 2018. The barrier free resort, which shut-down in 2015 due to lack of funds, features accessible cabins, facilities and programs for campers with disabilities. A partnership of local service clubs and the Ontario government will help operate the camp for the next 20 years!

THUMBS UP to Alienette for reaching the finals of for France Has Got Talent. The oldest of three children who was born premature and blind singer Katchry Golbin (aka Alienette), moved judges and audience members to tears with her stirring rendition of ‘Les Moulins de Mon Coeur (The Windmills of Your Mind).’ Golbin studied for three years through her friends online to master French. The 26-year-old Filipino songstress thanked her fans and the French talent show, saying, “Thank you for allowing me to live the most beautiful adventure
of my life.” Golbin captured third place.