Category: accessibility and disabilities

April 20th, 2008 by ptinfrance

There are three new public service announcement videos just released by the Ministry of Employment that are pretty creepy, albeit effective. They’re aiming to encourage people to take care of health problems like Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and other repetitive strain injuries related to work before they become debilitating.
tms psa in france
All three start with an agonizingly LONG and PAINFUL, moan. Then you see why. EW!

Here’s what the PSA’s say:

Au travail il y a des petites douleurs qui deviennent insupportables.
At work, there are little aches that become unbearable.

Troubles Musculo-squelettiques.
Muscular Skeletal Pain

Parlons en pour les faire reculer.
Let’s talk about it to make it better.

Watch the videos here

Posted in accessibility and disabilities, advertising & marketing, daily life, tv and movies, websites

September 25th, 2007 by ptinfrance

“AssistiveWare will demo its assisitive technology products in the ordiTICE booth ED007-008 of the Education Solutions Centre of the Apple Expo (Paris, 25 – 29 September).

On Wednesday, a 2 to 3 hours special session on Assistive Technologies for Mac OS X is scheduled in Apple Expo’s main conference room from 14:00 to 17:00. Organized by ceRHTic on behalf of Apple, the session will include presentations by Mr Biard (hospital Raymond Poincaré) on how to access a computer, by Mr Danigo (APF) on why and how to use a computer for communication, by Mr Ortie (AFM) on what a person with a disability can produce with a computer, by Mr Niemeijer (AssistiveWare) on Mac software solutions for people with disabilities.

During the other days, daily presentations on assistive technology will take place in the School Performance Area of the Education Solutions Center: Tuesday 14:00 – 14:45, Thursday 12:00 – 13:00, Friday 17:00 – 17:45, and Saturday 13:00 – 13:45. Please sign up for the latter presentations on the ordiTICE site.”

Posted in accessibility and disabilities, games/software/tech, news, paris

September 17th, 2007 by ptinfrance

gardens versailles france

The immensity of the Château de Versailles may overwhelm you (and your tired feet), which is perhaps why some travelers in Paris simply don’t make the trek there (just 10 miles southwest of Paris). Versailles is royally humungous. So, if you do courageously make it to Versailles, you will realize after visiting the Galerie des Glaces (Hall of Mirrors), the King and Queen’s grands et petit appartements, the chapel, the Opera, art galleries, staterooms, salons, and chambers…whew – there are still remaining sights outside the palace: the fountains, canals, Marie Antoinette’s Domain and Hameau (Hamlet), the Grand and Petit Trianon, and of course the seemingly never-ending gardens and park areas. “Seemingly” especially if your feet are beginning to wonder WHY you’re walking so much.

Even the distance from the front parking lot to the entrance of the chateau, is quite a trek. And that’s with VERY comfortable, walking shoes!

Back to exploring the garden area. Once you exit the Château and look at the vast stretch of gardens, which are farther than the eye can see – you might feel like NOT exploring anymore. I wouldn’t consider that unreasonable.

However, you’ve come all this way to visit one of the most famous and shiny World Heritage Sites, the grand palace of French kings and queens (and tens of thousands of servants). You shouldn’t have to let your feet dictate your life or your visit.

Solution: Rent a golf cart. This is what we did and it is so, so, SO worth it. You’ll zip around saving precious time by NOT dragging about and resting every 10 miles or so of walking – and you’ll get to see everything.

golf cart versailles france

You will possibly even feel “refreshed” instead of utterly exhausted at the end of the day.

Golf Carts for Rent at Versailles
* 7 euros per 15 minutes
* Must be over 18 years old and have a valid driver’s license.
* Rent at the green kiosk to the left of the back of the château.
* 4 people or less allowed.
* Positioning System – narrative of where you’re visiting
* Music – it’s a bit too loud and annoying (especially if you get lost)
* Golf carts are electric

If you follow their map, a route for golf carts, you might lose your way because the map is not quite correct (I swear!). You will have to figure some of it out yourself but anyway, if you stop to visit Marie Antoinette’s Domaine, and the Grand and Petit Trianon, it could possibly take you about 2 hours (56 euros). It should take about an hour if you do not make any stops. (28 euros)

A Note: If you take a wrong turn, the golf cart will automatically stop. In that case, simply back up and turn around. 😀

Related Links: Official Chateau de Versailles, Wikipedia

Posted in accessibility and disabilities, travel and places

June 19th, 2007 by ptinfrance

milk bottles from franceOver the years I’ve been (rightly) accused of being a bathroom freak. Maybe it’s just “freak.” Anyway. I don’t disagree with any of my accusers as I’ve learned to embrace this characteristic rather than overcome it. 😉 Hey, I’m not ashamed of wanting clean public bathrooms, which is too often and sadly a rare phenomenon in France.

What am I talking about? I hate public toilets. Especially in France. So much so that it’s made me avoid most of them, which is quite possibly bad for my health. I don’t care. Most public toilets are even gorier than my worst nightmares. So, when I saw this website that rates toilets worldwide, I nearly peed in my pants. Ok, maybe I DID – a little.

The Bathroom Diaries scours the globe to rate the world’s toilets. You can now find out which bathrooms to avoid like the plague (quite possibly BECAUSE of the plague) and which ones are useable. Yay! Their database is pretty extensive and they claim to be the world’s largest database of restroom locations. I believe them. Call it blind faith.

To see restroom locations in France and in Paris by arrondissements (districts) and elsewhere, visit The Bathroom Diaries.

On a related note, this gadget is an extra “finger” to do your dirty work.

Posted in accessibility and disabilities, daily life, health, paris, websites, weird

February 18th, 2007 by ptinfrance

ebooks for disabled people in franceFrom Teleread:

“…How can you read a paper book if you’re quadriplegic and can’t use your hands? And what if your only way of communicating is through blinking?

People with those and other disabilities, including visual impairments, are of special interest to us here at the Landowski Boulogne-Billancourt (Hauts-de-Seine, France) in the western suburbs of Paris… Since 2001, with our special users in mind, we have…”

Read the article

Posted in accessibility and disabilities, books/magazines, daily life, paris

February 13th, 2007 by ptinfrance
anne robertson assistive technology video

Amsterdam-based Assistive technology software developer, David Niemeijer, just released a new Assistiveware video called, “It has made the world of difference.” It features Anne Robertson, a blind, professional translator (French to English) living in Orry la Ville, France. With the assistance of David Niemeijer’s brilliant assistive technology, which is software specifically designed for people with disabilities, Anne has been able to speed up her translation work as she can now listen to text in one language while she is typing in another language. She uses VoiceOver, the recent screen reader from Apple, in combination with naturally sounding French and British English text-to-speech voices of Acapela Group’s Infovox iVox, and AssistiveWare’s VisioVoice, which includes a French translation of VoiceOver.

Watch the video

[related: Assistive Technology and Marie-France]

Posted in accessibility and disabilities, daily life, games/software/tech, people, tv and movies

October 2nd, 2006 by ptinfrance

greentoiletsinfranceThe “design” of these roadside public toilets can be forgiven, I think, because:

1) They are Toilettes Sèches (dry toilets) that don’t waste (or use for that matter) any water; 2) don’t use any chemicals at all; 3) derive energy from solar panels (if necessary); 4) produce a renewable material in the form of compost; 5) are accessible to the disabled; 6) are well maintained and clean; and most importantly; 7) They don’t smell!

It was the first time I’ve seen these environmentally kind and clean public toilets in France and well, tant mieux. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking: clean, public toilets in France? Isn’t that some sort of oxymoron? I am telling you I am witness to this. It’s hard to imagine, I do realize – but it’s for real.

You might think, EIUW! It must have a horrible odor, but it doesn’t. There’s an aeration system that magically helps this issue.

How does it work?

It looks like any other restroom you’ve seen but it’s quiet because there’s no flush of water. Once you do your thing in that toilet, the “deposit” is distributed evenly via a type of conveyor belt. This is activated by the user pressing a pedal next to the toilet. The accumulated human waste and toilet paper are broken down with the help of earthworms. It’s basically compost (much like the compost in gardens) and the process is so efficient, these toilet houses only need to be drained every 5 to 10 years. The compost needs to be removed twice a year or every 3 to 4 years depending on the amount of use. The final compost can be dried and/or removed and used as any other type of compost.

Posted in accessibility and disabilities, environment, products, travel and places

July 27th, 2006 by ptinfrance

The part-time temp employment agency, Adia, launched a very eye opening and much needed awareness campaign encouraging employers to set aside their biases against people with physical differences, and instead, to adopt a more tolerant, compassionate and intelligent attitude. I hope prospective employers will see these ads, learn from them, then act accordingly.
adia emploi
Click on photo to enlarge.


(in large letters): This girl can not do anything
(in smaller letters): without passion. It wasn’t what you thought when looking at her, was it? However, at Adia, we can always offer her part- time jobs that meet the standard of her expectations and her strengths.
(tag line): Do not rely on appearances, rely on abilities.

This is the other poster ad from Adia I saw advocating tolerance showing a pregnant woman.
adia emploi affiche
Click on photo to enlarge.


(in large letters): This woman is (dead) weight.
(in smaller letters): a heavyweight of knowledge. With Adia, she lives her life according to her own rules, deciding her own schedule and availability. Today, she chooses to carry the weight of an ambitious project that will lead to a unique experience. Tomorrow, she’ll be able to count on us to find her a balance between her professional life and her family life.
(tag line): Do not rely on appearances, rely on abilities.

Last year, Adia collaborated with France’s state unemployment office, ANPE, and began a program to help disadvantaged youth having difficulty entering the French workforce. The barriers to entry for this group are colossal because of intolerance and problems linked to racism. Adia’s work is admirable and their mission to embrace the attitude of being as socially responsible as possible and to protect human rights, is not only brave but also crucially necessary.

Posted in accessibility and disabilities, advertising & marketing, daily life, education, people, signs

April 28th, 2006 by ptinfrance

Today launches the opening of the “Foire de Paris” a giant expo featuring the newest, hottest, futuristic and weirdest gadgets, furniture, appliances, leisure equipment and more – made by thousands of vendors and inventors from all over. It’s a great opportunity to see some wild and cool things while you contemplate giving your home and life a facelift.

Foire de Paris – April 28 – May 8 – Paris Expo – Porte de Versailles; Hours: 10am to 7pm; Saturday & Sunday 9:30am to 7pm; May 5 until 11pm

Entrance Fees
Individuals: 12 €
2 Day Pass: 18 €
Under 14 years: 7 €
Under 7 years: free

Note: Babysitting is available for up to 2 hours maximum for kids ages 4 – 10 years old. (Hall Eight); Also 20% discounts on SNCF round-trip train tickets are available (see the site for details); Dogs are not allowed. (What!!?)

For more information: Foire de Paris (in French)

Posted in accessibility and disabilities, daily life, events, food and drinks, games/software/tech, health

April 24th, 2006 by ptinfrance

Montbard has one of the smallest but prettiest chateau gardens I’ve seen in France and Lulu had to have a frolick on the soft grass.

Montbard (in Côte d’or, Burgundy) is a place that is likely to become an “exurb” of Paris because it’s a quick 45 minute TGV ride from Montbard to Paris. (That’s a quicker commute than some commutes for people already in Paris going to other places in Paris.)
montbard france and lulu
Though this small city with a population of 6300 is unknown to most people, Montbard is worth a mention because it is considered France’s, Capitale du secourisme / Capital of First Aid. It was the first city in France to install defibrillators strategically stationed throughout the city (TGV station, town hall, main hotel/restaurant, the community center and 2 sports centers).

Knowing that the rate of survival after a cardiac arrest/heart failure is only 2-5%, the city aimed for a radical improvement of those statistics by training the entire population of Montbard to use the defibrillators – stressing that this training was particularly important for families with at-risk patients. They also taught basic first aid training that included Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). In too many cases, waiting for the paramedics to arrive, can be too late. This intervention, does not, however, replace the paramedics. It’s best seen compared to fire extinguishers: Just like fire extinguishers help put out fires until fireman arrive, the defibrillators make it possible to help the survival of the patient until paramedics arrive.

Other cities in France have since followed suit and have begun CPR and defibrillator training as well as placed similar kits in their cities..

Heart Attack Facts
1. The chances of survival after a heart failure decrease by 7 to 10 % each minute.
2. When the witness has access to a defibrillator quickly and is trained, the rate of survival is 50 %.
3. Chewing an uncoated aspirin right away, at the first sign of chest discomfort or distress, can reduce the amount of damage to the heart muscle during a heart attack.
4. Studies show the most common time for a heart attack to occur is Monday morning. Saturday morning ranks second. Another common time is during the early morning hours, when blood platelets are stickier.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Lulu Lundi*- features Lulu, our favorite Boston Terrier somewhere in France every Monday.

Posted in accessibility and disabilities, daily life, health, lulu/dogs/cats, travel and places

March 29th, 2006 by ptinfrance

You can’t get to Urville by plane, train, car or boat but you can see it from the comfort of your own chair while you’re sitting at your computer.

Urville, France was previously accessible only if you could reach the deepest crevices of an imagination living inside the mind of a 28-year old autistic French guy named Gilles Tréhin, living in the south of France, in Cagnes-sur-mer, not far from Nice.

Now you can visit Urville if you visit his website. Phew!

At his site, you can see Urville in 200 amazing drawings, and see the detailed descriptions of its population, economy, culture, history and more. This is truly an impressive creation.

Urville: the website. Urville: the book

Also see: Art Savant: The City Inside My Head (short documentary online)

Posted in accessibility and disabilities, people, stories, travel and places

January 27th, 2006 by ptinfrance

we’ve taken a lot of road trips in france and feel this little tip may come in handy when in need of a toilet whilst roadtripping. knowing this little tidbit of information can help you avoid places like you see in the photo. unless you don’t mind that level of roughing it, read no further.

if you appreciate an uneventful rest stop with extremely clean toilets, look for the nearest “total” gas station. they are hands down the most conscientious about the cleanliness of their restrooms, and always have accessible stalls for wheelchairs. mileage will vary with all others, but total is consistently clean, even the tiniest total station in hodunk france, where ever that is. [related: public toilets in paris free beginning feb 1]

Posted in accessibility and disabilities, daily life, paris, travel and places

January 10th, 2006 by ptinfrance

as if reading all your daily feeds, news, sites and blogs weren’t enough, here’s some more for you – but you can listen to them (in french) on-the-go on your ipod (or other mp3 player) instead of reading them online, or even listening to them while you’re online. radio france now podcasts their shows so you can visit their website and download the programs to conveniently listen to shows on your own schedule. radio france offers a bunch of programs to choose from (topics and themes including philosophy, environment, politics, art, etc.)

while the whole world calls these PODCASTS, france steps out to defy everyone outside “the hexagon” by calling them BALADODIFFUSIONS. (say THAT 10 times as fast as you can)

[radio france podcasts (in french)]

Posted in accessibility and disabilities, art/culture/design, cultural differences, daily life, environment, games/software/tech, language, news, people, politics, websites

January 4th, 2006 by ptinfrance

if you take a look at google you might notice that the primary colors of the logo has transformed into google braille. that’s because january 4 (1809-1852) is dedicated to louis braille. it’s his birthday; he would have been 197 years old if he were alive today. french national louis braille invented the revolutionary braille writing/reading system for the blind. after an injury to his eyes, by age four he was completely blind. he invented the braille writing system at age 15 (in 1824) but his system wasn’t recognized until 1868, 16 years after his death. his remains are house at the Panthéon in Paris, France. [for the full braille story]

Posted in accessibility and disabilities, history, people

November 1st, 2005 by ptinfrance

cafe signes, located on the left bank is clearly the quietest bistro in paris. the silence is not due to the lack of clientele, rather, it could be filled to the gills with customers and yet you won’t hear one word from anybody.

this is france’s first silent cafe/restaurant, though oftentimes the loudest sound you will hear is the sound of laughter. initially funded by the government to employ people with disabilities, the cafe is staffed with 45 people mostly all deaf or hard of hearing. the exception is the cook, that has full hearing, in the event that there is some sort of communication breakdown with hearing customers who aren’t very familiar with signing.

the cafe is open to everyone (hearing and non-hearing) and there are charts all around for hearing people to consult when they need to order something on the menu. also, when waiters have a bit of free time, they will often give signing lessons and teach some basic requests. it is a wonderful opportunity for hearing people to experience part of a deaf person’s world.

how do you order fries??! look at the waiter and smile while interlocking your (straight) fingers forming a steeple.

Café Signes – 33, avenue Jean Moulin – 75014 Paris (Métro Alésia Ligne #4). Bus : 62, 28, 38, PC. Périphérique : Porte de Châtillon ou Porte d’Orléans – Tél. 01 45 39 37 40. Web :

[via europeonwheels and Entraide Universit�]

tags: france

Posted in accessibility and disabilities, daily life, food and drinks, paris, travel and places, weird

September 7th, 2005 by ptinfrance

having always ultimately admired developers (and their products) that create assistive technology: software specifically for people with disabilities, i am even more in awe today after seeing technology work in-action, particularly with David Niemeijer’s “Assistiveware.” he’s released a video so you can see how it works and it’s brilliant.

Paris-based, Marie-France has Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) also known as Lou Gherigs Disease, and she is paralyzed and is unable to speak. She uses a variety of equipment and software: Switch technology* whereby she uses her jaw (clenching) movement to send orders to her Mac, along with the assistive software specifically for her needs. Marie-France is able to overlook her household and take on chores that many people with disabilities would not be able to negotiate without assitive technology, such as online grocery shopping, household finances and keeping in contact with her (and her husband’s) friends and family. She uses instant messaging and with her assistiveware, her Mac can speak out loud at her command.

from the video, it looked like she was quicker “typing” than her husband 😀

*Switches are designed for users with physical disabilities who can only control the computer with one or two specific movements. Hardware used with software that scans through options on the screen allowing the user to trigger the switch when the option they wish to choose is highlighted. Switches can be used in conjunction with on-screen keyboards and word prediction software. The scanning software can be used to create customized screen layouts for use with a variety of software. However, every clickable spot in the layout must be identified manually in advance.

Related: Assistive Technology for Mac

Posted in accessibility and disabilities

July 5th, 2005 by ptinfrance

need i say more to this open air urinal with NO WALLS??????? you heard me. no walls, no room, no ceiling, no door. nothing! as if they were open air phone booths. apparently, yes, i need to elaborate because it gets even better!

i was taking pretty pictures a few days ago, then i saw these. if anyone took a picture of my expression, it would be a crystal clearly focused photo with me looking grossed out but not surprised. then, i smiled because it’s so magnificently silly. france can shine with silly magnificence that way. noteworthy here: there’s a small playground for kids just NEXT to the urinals. the pic was taken from a small public alleyway that leads to a river (l’alene) and just next to the urinals is a house (they’re *lucky* enough to have a view of the backs of dudes peeing.) and people wonder why everyone makes fun of france!

just can’t be helped.

Posted in accessibility and disabilities, cultural differences, daily life, weird