Friday, December 29, 2023

Rethink That Drink

 Did you know that limiting your alcohol intake could improve your health?

You’ve probably heard that you should drink alcohol in moderation and avoid binge drinking. But what does that mean?

Some people should not drink any alcohol. Pregnant women should not drink at all, as alcohol can damage the fetus.  Children below the age of 14 should not drink any alcohol, as their body systems are still developing. People taking certain medications should not drink any alcohol at all.

Men’s and women’s bodies process alcohol differently. Women should drink no more than 1 “standard drink” a day and no more than 7 standard drinks in a week. Men up to age 64 should drink no more than 2 “standard drinks” a day and no more than 14 standard drinks in a week. 

After age 64, both men and women should drink no more than 1 “standard drink” a day and no more than 7 standard drinks in a week. This is because the effects of alcohol change as the body ages.

How much is a “standard drink”? It is:

  • 12 oz. of regular beer, usually about 5% alcohol 

  • 8-9 oz. of malt liquor

  • 5 oz. of table wine (12%)

  • 1.5 oz. of 80-proof hard liquor

Binge drinking is bad for everyone. It means drinking to excess, which is:

  • More than 3 drinks on one occasion for women of all ages and men over age 64

  • More than 4 drinks on one occasion for men under age 64

Binge drinking can lead to liver damage, pancreatitis, and other health issues.

If you are drinking more than the recommended amount of alcohol, here are some strategies to help you cut down.

• Eat before and while you drink. This lets your body absorb the alcohol more slowly.

• If you drink at home, always measure your drinks to be sure you aren’t overpouring.

• Never top off your drink. You can’t keep track of how much you have had.

• Drink a nonalcoholic beverage between alcoholic drinks. This helps dilute the effect of the alcohol.

If you have concerns about your drinking habits, please consult with your health care professionals.

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Tech Tip - You Need More than One Email Address

It may sound counter-intuitive, but having multiple email addresses will actually cut the clutter in your email inbox. 

You should have at least two email accounts: one for your personal email and one for when you are asked to provide an email to sign up for something.  You are much more likely to get spam email from signing up for something online than you are from your family and friends. You can safely ignore most everything that goes to that email account.

You should also have a professional email account for any work or volunteering you do. That way you aren’t likely to lose important communications because they are mixed in with updates from your family or jokes from your friends.

Your Second Life avatar may need his or her own email as well. That’s helpful if you are keeping SL separate from RL. If you have a virtual business, it is also helpful to use a separate email for your avatar.

Keeping separate the various types of email messages you may get is much simpler when they go into separate email accounts.

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Is Your ID Real?

We’re not accusing you of using counterfeit identification. But by May 7, 2025, if you are a US citizen, you may need to have a REAL ID.  

What is a REAL ID?

In 2005, Congress passed the REAL ID Act, which set new standards at the federal level for sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses. These standards are minimum security standards recommended by the 9/11 Commission. REAL IDs will be required to access certain federal facilities, enter nuclear power plants, and (affecting many of us) passing the TSA screening to board federally regulated commercial aircraft within the US. The REAL ID Act is being enforced by the Department of Homeland Security.

Why do I need a REAL ID if I already have a driver’s license or identification card?

While there are acceptable alternatives to REAL IDs, a non-compliant driver’s license is not acceptable where REAL IDs are required.

A valid passport is considered a valid alternative to a REAL ID. You can use either a passport or a non-compliant driver’s license to travel domestically.

You will not need a REAL ID to enter some federal facilities where it is not required (such as the public areas of the Smithsonian Museum). 

How do I apply for a REAL ID?

Requirements vary from state to state, but usually you will need to provide documents that show:

• your full legal name

• your date of birth

• your Social Security Number

• your principal residence address (2 proofs required)

• your lawful status

Your state may have set additional requirements. You can find out your state’s requirements here:

You may already have a REAL ID. 

Does your state-issued driver license or identification card have a gold or black star at the top right like the ones in these pictures? Those ID cards will be accepted as REAL ID-compliant.

Driver's License w Star Logo

Enhanced Driver’s Licenses from the states of Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Vermont and Washington are also accepted as REAL ID-Compliant, even if they do not have the star logo.


Where can I get more information about REAL ID?

The official Homeland Security webpage about REAL ID is here:

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

ADA Protections for Persons with Visual Impairments at Work

Persons can be visually impaired at any age, for many reasons and at many levels from low vision to total blindness. While some work in jobs for which they do not need accommodations, many do need to use assistive technology to perform job tasks.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) makes some guarantees about employment that apply to persons with visual impairments. You don’t have to reveal your visual disability. There are certain types of questions an employer can’t ask when you are applying for a job, although they can ask medical related questions after you’ve received a conditional job offer. Your employer cannot explain to your coworkers why you are using a reasonable accommodation to fulfill your job tasks. 

For more information about the ADA’s rules concerning an employer’s questions about your disability, confidentiality, and reasonable accommodations for job applicants and employees, look at this new publication which includes illustrative examples for each point from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

“Visual Disabilities in the Workplace and the Americans with Disabilities Act”

Saturday, December 2, 2023

Displays and Exhibits for Healthinfo Island for December 2023

You can teleport to any of the eight displays and exhibits using the SLURLs in this notecard. Click on the poster with the same name as the title of the poster set, and you will get a notecard that contains all the text of the posters plus descriptions of the images.

If you click each poster inworld, you will get a private message with additional information and live links.


Central Pavilion of Healthinfo Island

Check out the calming breathing exercise on the back wall!


International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Dec 3- International Day of Persons with Disabilities


Crohn's & Colitis Awareness Week

Dec 1-7 is Crohn's & Colitis Awareness Week


Polypharmacy in Older Adults with Hypertension

Polypharmacy in Older Adults With Hypertension


Impaired Driving Prevention Month

December is Impaired Driving Prevention Month


Safe Toys and Gifts Month

December is Safe Toys and Gifts Month


Emotional Regulation

Emotional Regulation


ICD, ICF, ICHI – How the WHO Looks at Health

ICD, ICF, ICHI – How the WHO Looks at Health


Good Food Practices & Tips

Good Food Practices & Tips


Thanks to Mook for assistance with the posters this month.

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

November is National Family Caregivers Month

Elderly Man standing by Lady in a Chair  Lady standing by a child in a wheelchair

This month we honor our family members who care for those of us with disabilities. They are a large invisible, unpaid, often unthanked workforce. Their work is often considered informal.

Sure, there are professional caregivers. They are paid, often trained for the tasks they undertake, and have limited roles in the lives of those who depend on them.

But in the US, three-quarters of caregiving is performed by family members. Over 65 million people in the US care for a family member or a friend who is disabled, chronically ill, or aged over 70. About two-thirds of these caregivers are women, and many are also caring for their own children or grandchildren.

Caregiving can involve unpleasant and embarrassing tasks. As Mike Ervin famously said, “Blessed are the butt-wipers.” Caregiving can be extremely intimate.

Family caregiving is tiring and highly stressful. Almost three-quarters of family caregivers show signs of depression. The National Alliance for Caregiving advocates for improving the mental and emotional health of family caregivers through a “whole health system approach.” We need to take better care of our family caregivers.

Rosalynn Carter said, “There are only four kinds of people in this world: those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers and those who will need caregivers. Caregiving is universal.” That’s well worth remembering, if you are not yet giving or receiving care.

To learn more about family caregiving and to access caregiving support, please visit the poster set “November is National Family Caregivers Month” on Virtual Ability’s Healthinfo Island:

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

You Can Lower Your Utility Bills

It seems like everything is getting more expensive lately. Here are some ways you can better control the cost of energy your household uses.

Power Down

Lighting is one part of your home environment that uses electricity. Here are some ways to control lighting costs:

Turn off lights in rooms that are not in use. You can install motion detectors to turn lights on when someone is in a space, then turn them off when the person leaves.

• Use energy-efficient light bulbs. Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) and light emitting diodes (LEDs) last longer than incandescent bulbs, so even though they cost more initially, they will save you money over time.

Dust off your light bulbs. (Did you know that dirty light bulbs provide about 1/3 less light than clean ones?) Keep windows and skylights clean.

Sleep mode for items such as computers or gaming systems still uses energy. If not in use, turn off electronic devices all the way. Find out the advantages of hibernate, sleep, and shut down modes, and make a smart choice when you are AFK.

Invest in a smart power strip. These devices detect when an electronic device that is plugged into the power strip is in standby mode, and cut power off to it automatically.

Stay a Little Hot, or a Little Cool

Your local weather can have a big impact on your home energy costs. Heating and air conditioning are a significant portion of home energy expenditures. The closer your indoor temperature is to outdoor temperatures, the less you will be using your HVAC system.

• The US Department of Energy recommends a daytime thermostat setting of 78 degrees F (26 degrees C) in the summertime and 70 degrees F (21 degrees C) in the winter.

• A programmable thermostat can be set to automatically change the temperature in the home. This makes it easy to leave your home with less comfortable temperatures when you are not there, and have it more comfortable when you return.

Keep the filters in your heating and air conditioning clean. These filters trap dust, germs, pet hairs, pollen and other air contaminants. Regular cleaning improves their efficiency, but sooner or later they should be replaced.

Consider Time-of-Use

Utility companies know that there are certain times of day when their customers are most likely to use energy for home tasks such as preparing food or doing laundry, which puts more demands on the energy delivery system. Peak energy usage times tend to be in the morning when people are waking up and preparing for their day and in the evening when they are returning from school or work. Some companies offer time-of-use discount rates. Running your dishwasher or turning on entertainment devices at 9pm instead of at 6pm could save you money.

Set Energy Usage Goals

Examine your utility bills over the past few months. Instead of looking at the dollar cost, look at the kilowatt-hours (kWh) used. By using the strategies listed above, can you lower your energy usage a little before your next bill? Perhaps some of the steps on this checklist of energy-saving measures for commercial buildings will give you some ideas.

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Does the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Cover Native Americans?

Native Americans have the highest rate of disability among all US population groups. Sovereign Tribal Nations are generally not covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act’s requirements. Tribal governments are specifically excluded from ADA coverage, although private employers on reservations are included. Because of a lack of disability services due to rurality, cultural attitudes, and other reasons, many disabled Native Americans do not receive the support needed for independent living and good quality of life. Other less-well-known disability legislation does apply to Native Americans. This includes the Individuals with Educational Disabilities Act (IDEA) and the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).  IDEA guarantees free, appropriate public early interventions and special education services for all children. ESSA requires state education agencies to consult with tribes and allows the Bureau of Indian Education to apply to states for discretionary funding. For more information about disability support for Native Americans and a list of tribal disability services in each state, please download the “How does the ADA apply to Tribal Nations and what resources are available within Region 8?” PDF document here:

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

How to Manage Financial Stress to Improve Your Health

 Did you know that 73% of Americans say that their financial situation is the main source of stress in their lives?

You may be one of them. It could be affecting your health. 

Any single event, such as a bounced check or an unexpected expense, can cause stress. That stress can cause physical and emotional symptoms such as:

• back pain

• frequent colds and respiratory infections

• headaches

ยช irritability

• nausea or upset stomach

• sleep issues

Even worse, long-lasting stress contributes to health issues such as:

• anxiety

• depression

• diabetes

• heart disease

• high blood pressure

• mental health problems

• reproductive issues

Here are some ways to control financial stress and improve your health:

1. Track your spending. Once you know how much you are spending on what, you can decide what items or categories to spend a little less on.

2. Set up a payment plan, if your debt is too great to handle otherwise. Many creditors would rather you repay them gradually than to have to go through the legal system to regain what you owe them.

3. Set up a written budget. Stick to it! This requires self-discipline, but you can do it.

4. Focus on one big financial decision at a time. Don’t do too much at once. Baby steps will get you to your goal. If you must make major purchases, do them one at a time.

Keep in mind these strategies for dealing with any form of stress:

• Avoid unhealthy habits that too many people adopt for dealing with stress. Don’t eat lots of junk food, drink alcohol, use illegal drugs or tobacco. These actions lead to negative health outcomes.

• Use healthy stress-reduction strategies. Try breathing exercises, meditation, prayer, spending time in nature or with a friend.

Gain control of your financial stress, and improve your health.

Friday, November 10, 2023

There Is Nothing Wrong with Being in a Supporting Role

This blog posting is for the International Disability Affirmation Rights Conference, being held now on Friday November 10, with a theme of "Do, Create, Live."  I am a deaf private tutor and use English and American Sign Language to communicate in person and online.  I earned three professional tutoring credentials from the Tutoring and Instructional Programs (TIP) at Gallaudet University as part of my job training.  I started my business in 2004 and had a variety of clients, both hearing and deaf.  I was also a provider of tutoring services for vocational rehabilitation for all three regions, Maryland, DC, and Virginia, in the greater DC metropolis. My best memory as a provider is when I tutored a deaf man at the Library of Congress and saw the floor to ceiling rolling book racks in the basement that he worked with.   I was a provider given access to a privileged section of the Library of Congress that few people see.   I love books, have a library in my living room, and I enjoyed my time at the Library of Congress.  So, naturally, the epitome is being at the Library of Congress and seeing their racks of books.  I help people experience the joy of learning English. Tutoring my students and clients opens the world of books up to them.  I have seen my clients go on to be successful in their own ways.  

It is not necessary to have a high quantity of clients in order to be successful as a tutor.  For example, while I was tutoring someone for business administration, I read in the textbook about a company that is exclusively in service to one and only one other company.  In other words, that company had just one customer.  I often had just one client for a long time.  I’ve worked with them throughout their entire schooling and seen them graduate with an undergraduate or graduate degree, including one Ph.D. degree in linguistics.  

The range of academic subjects I was exposed to as part of my tutoring role was from general education requirements to college majors and graduate specializations.  My knowledge of academic subjects was broadened and updated as I corrected grammatical mistakes, edited sentences for clarity, reorganized ideas logically, and provided overall feedback on my clients’ academic papers and homework. Knowledge was a key benefit that I had received as a result of working behind the scenes in the supporting role of a tutor.

I had also been a deaf tutor for three different colleges as their employee, not as a freelancer.  It was a joy to meet people from all over the world and to work with them on their English or Spanish skills.  Tutoring them meant working with them one on one on projects of their choosing.  I had been a study table tutor with just a few students in the evenings and later, a language lab teacher with a classroom full of students.  A teacher has a starring, highlighted role in the classroom as all the students depend on the teacher to lead them.  A tutor, on the other hand, usually lets the student decide how the session will go.  Having interesting interactions with the students’ individual personalities and developing cordial working friendships with them were the advantages that I gained.  I was not seeking fame, but many of the students have me on their friend list on Facebook and I am pleased that they want me on their friend list.   

I also appreciate the moment of literary fame when my clients list my name in a publication that I have helped them with as their editor.  Editing papers for formal publication is a natural extension of tutoring.  As a side note, I am also a self-published author and have some experience with publishing ebooks and print books on various online platforms, including  The process of submitting a paper for publication is widely variable, and I learn how other people react to the content and style of my client’s paper.  Sometimes, it is pleasurable to hear positive feedback and the potential reach that a paper will have once it is published.   Helping the deaf client achieve this kind of influence and fame is another reason why a supporting role is good.   

There is a negative side to having too much fame in the Deaf World, unfortunately, and it is called the Crab Theory.  The theory goes like this:  If there is a deaf person successfully climbing the ladder of success, other deaf people on the same ladder or on other ladders will reach up and pull down the deaf person out of jealousy, spite, or selfishness.  People in the Deaf World are not united, and factions often exist for minor differences that hearing people do not typically understand. 

One analogy I can think of that religious people can relate to is the minor differences between the various Protestant churches and denominations that they fight over.  A Buddhist or Muslim may not understand the infighting of the Protestants at all.   That being said, being in the limelight often means being subject to brutal and cruel criticisms that may or may not be justified.   Someone in a supporting role is able to avoid these zings, maintain objectivity, and even help the person being targeted respond to the criticisms constructively.   

Laypersons may not know that well-written criticisms and counter arguments are expected and encouraged in academic research and literature.  Rational thought processes and data-driven research is subject to reactions and alternate interpretations as individual as the researchers who write up their papers.  It is good for debates occur on paper because they help to build a better understanding of the academic field for future generations of researchers.

In conclusion, I hope that my supporting role as a tutor helped many students and clients achieve their goals and gain recognition from society at large.