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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Have PTSD? There's an app for that.

PTSD is a very complex issue. Sometimes, those who have it aren't even aware at first. Others are aware, but aren't sure what to do about it, or are reluctant to seek help for fear of appearing weak. Perhaps they feel like they should feel lucky, that there's others out there that have it worse, and that they should try to ignore how they feel. Sometimes, the moments alone are the worst. But now, if you have a smartphone, you've now got a new tool in your pocket.
The Defense Centers of Excellence's National Center for Telehealth and Technology (T2) and the Veteran Administration's National Center for PTSD have developed a smartphone app to assist veterans, active duty personnel and civilians who are experiencing symptoms of PTSD.

The app is intended to be used as an adjunct to psychological treatment but can also serve as a stand-alone education tool.

Key features of the app include:

Self-Assessment: Self-assessment of PTSD symptoms with individualized feedback, and ability to track changes in symptoms over time. The assessment does not formally diagnose PTSD.

Manage Symptoms: Coping skills and assistance for common kinds of post-traumatic stress symptoms and problems, including systematic relaxation and self-help techniques.

Find Support: Assistance in finding immediate support. The app enables individuals to identify personal sources of emotional support, populate the phone with those phone numbers, and link to treatment programs. And in an emergency, users can quickly link to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

Learn about PTSD: Education about key topics related to trauma, PTSD, and treatment.

 Available on the Android Market and Apple iTunes

Monday, June 27, 2011

Today is PTSD Awareness Day

Today is PTSD Awareness Day.  Established in 2010 by the United States Senate, to hopefully raise public awareness about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  

This “What is PTSD?” infographic, designed by the University of Southern California School of Social Work outlines the symptoms, causes and treatments for the various types of traumatic events.

Please click to enlarge.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Would you like a free photoshoot of you and your Service Dog?

Your Service Dog is ready for it's closeup, Mr. DeMille!

Lacey Rabalais, a professional photographer in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, contacted us with a wonderful offer to donate her time to take photos of disabled individuals and their Service Dogs. The dogs will be featured on her website and blog.

Lacey amazing photographer. Her relaxed, journalistic-style images are inspiring and the way she captures light is beautiful.

Because she is graciously volunteering her time we ask that you be able to travel to Louisiana. If your Service Dog is fully trained (no Service Dogs in Training, please) you may contact her or us for more information.

All images below are owned by Lacey Rabalais.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

How does someone become a Service Dog trainer?

First of all, please forgive us for not updating our blog sooner. We have a new blog in the works and haven't wanted to update this one. Our budgets are very limited and programming is very expensive.

A certified dog trainer just emailed us and asked how she could become a certified Service Dog trainer. We sent her a short response and thought it would make an interesting blog post.

Service Dog Trainer Schools
There are a few dozen schools around the country that train Service Dog trainers. Most are small and began with experienced dog trainers (some began with training Military Working Dogs, Police Dogs or other working dogs) who moved into training Service Dogs for disabled individuals and then decided to help train trainers too. One of the best places to learn how to become a Service Dog trainer in the country (and possibly the world) is Bergin University. If you're really looking for the finest Service Dog training education possible, Bergin is the hands-down go-to school.

There is no "federally recognized" certification for Service Dog trainers. Private schools or individual trainers who train other trainers "certify" their graduates as having passed their individual courses. Those trainers then go on to train Service Dogs and may "certify" that they have passed their training course once they graduate too.

Are there standards for training Service Dogs?
The Service Dog community has come up with minimum training standards for Service Dogs that we and most other trainers follow. Assistance Dogs International is an internationally-recognized private organization and the small handful of organizations who have earned their prestigious accreditation are the gold standard of Service Dog training. Unfortunately, those programs aren't capable of supplying Service Dogs for every disabled individual. Without other private organizations and trainers many disabled individuals would be denied Service Dogs.

About Service Dogs and the ADA
The ADA is written to allow disabled individuals to use their Service Dogs in public with as few barriers as possible. If access were not as open, every building, restaurant and dry cleaner in the country could stop disabled individuals with their Service Dogs and demand proof of training. The ADA specifically states that if someone says their dog is a Service Dog they are to be taken at their word, regardless if it has been certified by a state or other authority. See below:

The ADA states in section § 35.136 Service animals part (f) "A public entity shall not require documentation, such as proof that the animal has been certified, trained, or licensed as a service animal."

You can view the full ADA law here:

The ADA is also designed so that disabled individuals may train their own Service Dogs. Program-trained Service Dogs can be very expensive and out of many disabled individual's budget. Some Service Dogs may cost upwards of $10,000. The U.S. Department of Justice recently held open voting to revise the ADA and the updated version was just released last year. It eliminated animals other than dogs and miniature horses and officially included Psychiatric Service Dogs which can help with severe depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

About the Registry
Registering with us voluntary and is not required by law, nor do we provide any legal protection. Please note that we do not certify or authorize anyone to use a Service Animal. The privilege to use a Service or Assistance Animal is granted, under the law, by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and local governments.

Our focus is to help encourage education, training and exemplary behavior. Since the ADA was written in 1990, some disabled and non-disabled individuals have chosen to either knowingly or unknowingly claim their insufficiently-trained pet is a Service Animal, either by just saying it is, since no documentation is required, and/or by purchasing patches, vests, ID tags or other equipment at local pet stores or online.

Because the federal law states that there is no paperwork required, we were designed with input from the Service Dog community as an attempt to help reduce the number of people abusing the ADA by requiring our Registrants to understand that misrepresenting an animal as Service or Assistance Animal for any reason is not only unethical, it is also illegal. All of our Registrants are required to read and accept the following:

- What is involved with training and using a Service or Assistance Animal
- How important their behavior, and that of their Service or Assistance Dog, is to the general public and other Service and Assistance Animal teams
- The definition of a Service or Assistance Animal
- The Minimum Training Standards for a Service or Assistance Animal
- What is involved with a Public Access Test
- Our Terms and Conditions

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Help for military spouses dealing with PTSD

Author Shawn Gourley
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Shawn Gourley has written a new book titled “Being A Military Spouse: Stand By Your Soldier” to spread awareness of spouses dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  It will give an understanding of what it is like living with a veteran who has PTSD through her personal experience.

The book is expected to be released on September 10, 2010 on her Facebook fan page Military with PTSD. Fans will get a free copy as a digital download.

In this book you will find Shawn’s fight to save her husband and family from PTSD. Through her story, you will feel her struggles and pain when dealing with a loved one who suffers from PTSD. Gourley shows the symptoms of PTSD that her husband was experiencing, and the struggle to get help for it. This book will provide hope and understanding to many families.

Many books have been written where an individual veteran tells his story, but Gourley tells her own story in this book. She goes into great detail about the hell her family was living in. By hearing this story, spouses and families learn they are not alone, and they learn how she dealt with the trauma they are experiencing. Her story also will help loved ones understand what her husband has experienced and why those experiences have resulted in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Honesty is a great strength of “Being A Military Spouse: Stand By Your Soldier.” Gourley is completely honest and tells all in her story. She allows her husband’s military experience to be told as she highlights points showing her husband’s changing attitude as events were happening. Then she tells her story as the wife of a veteran, focusing particularly on her husband’s Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and how she and her children coped with it for almost 5 years before they realized what caused her husband’s anger and irrational behavior. Many books have been written about PTSD and many veterans have recounted their stories, but Gourley is the first author I know to tell the story from the spouses point of view; consequently, her book will help many families recognize that their loved one suffers from PTSD, and family members will find they are not alone in how the disorder has affected their families.

Beyond telling her own story, Gourley goes a step further; she includes the frighting story of her daughter who developed secondary PTSD. Many family members develop secondary PTSD as a result of walking on eggshells around their loved one, never knowing what might set the veteran off. As Gourley shows how everything is a crisis with PTSD. Somehow it is all connected with the war and survival. Something as simple as startling a veteran can make him go into survival mode and become violent, or he may be irritable over something as small as the noise from something accidentally falling. Family members begin to live in fear of setting off the veteran’s anger, which makes them develop secondary PTSD.

“Being A Military Spouse: Stand By Your Soldier” stands out among books about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder because it is written for both veterans and their families. Anyone who served in a war or who has a loved one who served will find it helpful and eye opening. Gourley has succeeded in opening up communication in families and restoring hope and understanding where before there was confusion and despair. “Being A Military Spouse: Stand By Your Soldier” may help many spouses and families deal with PTSD instead of leaving.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Presidential Proclamation on the Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act

Obama speaking in the East Room
A proclamation by Barack Obama, the President of the United States of America on the anniversary of the American's with Disabilities Act When the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law in 1990, a founding truth of our Nation was realized for persons living with disabilities -- that all our citizens are entitled to the same privileges, pursuits, and civil rights.  As we mark the 20th anniversary of this historic legislation, we renew our commitment to ensuring that everyone with disabilities can live free from the weight of discrimination and pursue the American dream.

Across our country, Americans with disabilities have enriched and strengthened our Nation.  Each day, individuals living with disabilities contribute immeasurably to every aspect of our country's national life and economy, from art to law, science to business, education to technology.  Through steadfast determination, they have worked to make our communities more accessible, while empowering others to exercise independence and self-determination in all aspects of their lives.  They have also brightened futures for countless young people.  Today, children and youth with disabilities have a place in our classrooms alongside their peers, and are graduating with the knowledge and skills needed for postsecondary education and beyond.

Yet, despite the progress made in removing barriers and eliminating discrimination based on disability, on this 20th anniversary of the ADA, we must renew our commitment to achieving equal opportunity for, and the full inclusion of, all people with disabilities.  My Administration has taken important steps towards achieving this goal.  We have expanded funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act so that all of America's children have access to the tools to succeed.  Under the health care reforms enacted in the Affordable Care Act, unfair practices like discrimination based on health status or pre-existing conditions will be eliminated.  This landmark legislation also creates the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports Program to assist Americans with disabilities to live independently.  Additionally, the Affordable Care Act provides States with more tools and financial incentives, such as the Community First Choice Option, which will support individuals with disabilities living in the communities of their choosing.  These and other initiatives build on the "Year of Community Living," which I launched in 2009 to support independent living.

The Federal Government is committed to leading by example in hiring people with disabilities, with focused efforts to recruit, retain, and support these public servants.  In partnership with the many Federal agencies and departments with ADA responsibilities, my Administration will uphold strong and meaningful enforcement of the ADA to eliminate discrimination in employment, housing, public services, and community accommodations.  I urge all Americans to visit for comprehensive disability-related information and resources.

I am also proud that the United States has in the past year joined the international community in signing the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  In so doing, we affirm that these rights are not simply principles to safeguard at home, but also universal rights to be respected and advanced around the world.

In honor of and in solidarity with all Americans with disabilities and their loved ones, we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the ADA, and recommit to build a more just world, free of unnecessary barriers and full of deeper understanding.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States do hereby proclaim Monday, July 26, 2010, the Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  I encourage Americans across our Nation to celebrate the 20th anniversary of this civil rights law and the many contributions of individuals with disabilities.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-sixth day of July, in the year of our Lord two thousand ten, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fifth.

Barack Obama

Thursday, July 15, 2010

AMVETS applauds VA's new PTSD rules

Press Release from AMVETS For Immediate Release

VA Eases Evidence Requirements for PTSD Service-Connection
WASHINGTON, July 15, 2010—This week VA published new criteria for veterans seeking service-connected benefits and care for post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. AMVETS applauded the rule change, which drops the “additional evidence” requirements for veterans suffering from the invisible wound. VA has published a Q&A on the new guidelines, which is available on the VA Web site by Clicking Here.

“VA’s new rules will ease the path for veterans to receive the care and compensation they deserve as a result of PTSD,” said AMVETS National Commander Duane J. Miskulin. “AMVETS has been asking VA to waive this requirement for quite some time and we’re happy to see that Secretary [Eric K.] Shinseki is listening.”

AMVETS leaders believe that the new guidelines will eliminate a significant evidentiary hurdle for veterans of all generation who have suffered from PTSD. Before the new guidelines were published in the Federal Register, veterans seeking service-connected benefits for PTSD had to compile evidence of a combat stressor that triggered the condition. Now, veterans must only provide sufficient evidence of serving in a combat zone—such as a DD-214, with the presumption that they were exposed to a traumatic event.

Veterans must also have a diagnosis of PTSD from a VA doctor—a caveat that AMVETS hopes VA will reconsider.

AMVETS leaders would prefer to see VA also accept outside diagnoses of PTSD, similar to how VA accepts other outside medical evidence.
VA clarified that outside medical opinions would be considered in the overall claim, but that a VA doctor must still have the final say. AMVETS leaders said they will continue to work with VA in an effort to ensure that no veteran suffering from PTSD slips through the cracks, regardless of diagnosis.
Cmdr. Miskulin has made military mental health a personal priority for his year as AMVETS National Commander, helping to commission AMVETS Warrior Transition Workshops alongside Freedom & Honor. AMVETS’ workshops offer recently-returned veterans experiential peer-to-peer support outside of VA and Department of Defense channels, allowing veterans to contextualize their experiences, fostering a smooth transition from warrior to citizen.

If you are a veteran in crisis, AMVETS encourages you to call the national suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and press “1” to speak with a live counselor experienced in working with veterans. AMVETS also reminds veterans of the current conflicts that you are entitled to five years of free health care through VA regardless of service-connection.

A leader since 1944 in preserving the freedoms secured by America’s armed forces, AMVETS provides support for veterans and the active military in procuring their earned entitlements, as well as community service and legislative reform that enhances the quality of life for this nation’s citizens and veterans alike. AMVETS is one of the largest congressionally-chartered veterans’ service organizations in the United States, and includes members from each branch of the military, including the National Guard and Reserves. To learn more visit

Thursday, July 1, 2010

21 Dogtopia locations offer free dog washes to Service and Assistance Dogs

Dogtopia, a national dog day care business is giving back this summer to dogs who work year-round. Through charity dog washes taking place simultaneously July 17 and July 18, Dogtopia has set out to raise $20,000 for working canines.

From California to Virginia, every single Dogtopia franchise location – 21 stores in 10 states – will participate in the company's sixth annual charity dog wash that will raise money for all types of working animals, including Service and Assistance Dogs, police dogs and military dogs serving overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Budgets in local and national government agencies are strapped right now, which is why it's more important than ever to ensure working police and military dogs get the supplies necessary to do their jobs in as much comfort as possible," said Amy Nichols, CEO and Founder of Dogtopia. "Each year, this charity wash has grown and I am thrilled to see so much participation this summer."

Many Dogtopia franchises have chosen local organizations to partner with for the charity event. In California, for example, the San Marcos location will help raise money for Canine Companions for Independence, a non-profit organization that enhances the lives of people with disabilities through trained assistance dogs.

Several Dogtopia locations will also give back to their local police departments' dogs, which play an important role in detecting narcotics and explosives, search and rescue operations, evidence recovery and criminal apprehension in their communities. In addition, the dog is responsible for protecting their police handlers. Proceeds from the Dogtopia dog washes will defer costs for equipment such as ballistic vests, safety harnesses and the outfitting of cars. For dogs serving in the U.S. military, donations go toward money for toys, treats and other comforts such as cooling pads and goggles to deflect the desert sand.

Nichols began her campaign to raise awareness for military dogs, as well as working dogs of all kinds in July 2005. To accommodate the success of the campaign, she established a permanent charitable wing of her company called K-9 Support. To date, K-9 Support has raised more than $45,000 for working dogs, as well as sending more than 7,000 lbs of supplies overseas.

This year, locations in San Marcos, CA; Temecula, CA; Pleasanton, CA; Highlands Ranch, CO; Houston, TX; Waco, TX; Austin, TX; Wilmington, DE; Omaha, NE; Munster, IN; Nashville, TN; Cary, NC; N. Raleigh, NC; Charlotte, NC; Tysons Corner, VA; Alexandria, VA; Dulles, VA; Manassas, VA; Woodbridge, VA; North Bethesda, MD and Clarksville, MD will participate in the dog wash with a goal of washing at least 100 dogs per location.

Owners can bring their dogs in for a bath, where both can enjoy food and games. Several local businesses have committed to the fifth annual dog wash through donations and representation, including major players in the local canine industry. A $10 per dog wash donation is requested. Proceeds will go to the local Dogtopia franchisee's organization of choice.

About Dogtopia®
Founded in 2002, Dogtopia® prides itself on being a place where pets are valued as family and­ where dogs enjoy endless playtime and spa treatments in a positive environment. Dog owners have the assurance of leaving their beloved pets in the hands of trained professionals. Dogtopia® staff willingly nurtures each pet with attention and love. Each location offers a variety of fun activities, sociable training and comfortable boarding for dogs of all ages, shapes, sizes, abilities and temperaments.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Service Dogs can help someone injured in a car accident. But what if that injury never occurred?

If you're reading this blog we're preaching to the choir when we talk about how valuable Service and Assistance Dogs can be to those who have been seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident. From mobility impairments to brain and neurological injuries, Service and Assistance Dogs can be trained to complete indispensable tasks for their disabled owners.

Of course we would love to see more Service and Assistance Dogs trained and placed with disabled people. But what we would love to see even more would be fewer preventable injuries.
Car accidents are the leading cause of acquired disability in the United States. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration hasn't finished estimates for 2009, but their 2008 statistics cite 16 million vehicle crashes resulting in 2,346,000 people injured. Many of these accidents could have been prevented by simply using a seat belt.

There have been two large scale public service announcements in the United States within the past 30 years. The crash-test dummies and currently the click it or ticket campaign. Those campaigns have been successful, but personally, I don't feel their messages have been as beautifully compelling as the brand new PSA from Sussex for Safer Roads Partnership in the United Kingdom (shown below).

So please. Fasten your seat belt. And please make sure your Service or Assistance Dog is secured too.
Visit Bark Buckle Up for more information.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Are you a veteran with a Service Dog who was denied benefits?

We've heard from several veterans who have had problems with the VA and their Service or Assistance Dogs. Today, the VA clarified a scarcely known benefit in Title 38 Section 1714, offering benefits to veterans using certain types of assistance dogs.

Who can you thank? AMVETS, Luis Montalvan, an OEF/OIF veteran, and Kevin Stone, a Paralympic bronze medalist. Both veterans accompanied AMVETS and partner non-profit assistance dog agency Paws With A Cause on recent meetings with legislators and policy-makers in Washington. Montalvan and Stone have already received approval of benefits for their assistance dogs Tuesday and Mambo. 

If you're a veteran with a Service or Assistance Dog and were previously denied — or are awaiting approval — you'll want to reapply immediately. Ask your VA caseworker to file VA Form 10-2641 (internal use only) and proper accompanying paperwork. For more info, view the AMVETS Press Release.

Friday, April 23, 2010

A dog leads an Alaska State Trooper to a burning building

Service and Assistance Dogs are heroes every single day. But even pets can sometimes be heroes. Today, Friday April 23, a dog will be honored with an engraved silver plated dog bowl for incredibly and bravely leading an Alaska State Trooper to his master's burning workshop. "Buddy", a German Shepherd Dog, will be given the award at the Alaska State Troopers Headquarters building at 5700 E. Tudor Road in Anchorage.

(CASWELL LAKES, Alaska) – Alaska State Trooper Terrence Shanigan's police cruiser dashcam shows a German Shepherd Dog leading the way through winding back roads to a roaring house fire on his owners' property on April 4th. 

Click to watch video on YouTube

The Alaska State Troopers said Buddy and his owner, 23-year-old Ben Heinrichs, were in the family workshop when a heater ignited chemicals. Heinrichs told Buddy: "We need to get help." The dog eventually found a trooper responding to a call about the fire.

Buddy's master Heinrichs suffered minor flash burns on his face. The workshop was destroyed and the house suffered minor damage.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

"Through a Dog's Eyes" PBS special on Service Dogs airs tonight!

We're so excited — Through a Dog’s Eyes, narrated by Neil Patrick Harris, airs tonight on your local PBS station. The documentary follows a handful of people as they journey through the heartwarming and often challenging process of receiving their service dogs.

Jennifer Arnold, founder of Canine Assistants, discusses her teaching methods and the life-changing impact these dogs have on the recipients and their families. She gives us a glimpse of puppy-rearing and training, and takes us inside the intense and sometimes nerve-wracking experience of matching people with their dogs. Ádám Miklósi, Ph.D., one of the world’s foremost experts in dog cognition, also discusses the science behind Jennifer’s training philosophy.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Your formally-trained Service or Assistance Dog may qualify for a free eye exam

If your Service or Assistance Dog is currently in training, or has been formally trained by a national, regional or local organization you may qualify to get a free eye exam, sponsored by the the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists (ACVO)! This is their third year for this program and it's open to all formally trained working dogs including service and assistance dogs, police K-9s, search and rescue dogs and more.

The ACVO is developing a database that can be used in the future to identify potential eye problems associated with the tasks that certain groups of working dogs perform. Your working dog may be eligible to participate in this study. To find out if you qualify, please register on their website.

The United States Service Dog Registry is proud to announce that we're an official supporter of the ACVO/Merial National Service Dog Eye Exam! The Registry is a form of self-identification, not proof of training, so you will need to provide a formal training certificate in addition to your registration if you wish to participate.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Internet-enabled dog collars and pill boxes help you keep on track

Have you ever lost your Service Dog? Do you need reminders to take your pills? AT&T looks to be trying to expand their market by offering products that help use the Internet and wireless technology to assist with everyday problems.

From AT&T's Press Release
Apisphere, Inc., a leading provider of location-smart technologies for mobile applications and devices, and AT&T* today announced an agreement to wirelessly connect a location-smart animal collar to help pet owners keep track of their pooches.

The dog collar, with an embedded wireless SIM, will leverage Apisphere’s geo-mobility platform to transmit location-aware data across AT&T’s nationwide wireless network directly to a pet owner’s wireless handset or personal computer.

Owners may establish a geo-fence around the home where the pet can roam freely. Through the technology, owners can continuously track Fido’s movements with the virtual geo-fence, or locate him on demand if he strays outside of his established parameters.

Apisphere software will transmit street level data for easy pet location. Owners will have the option to program text, email, video or audio alerts, to be distributed as often as they like.
”We constantly strive to develop best-in-class products and deliver a seamless user experience. Working with AT&T and the strength and reach of its network enables us to do this,” said Craig Harper, president and founder of Apisphere. “The on boarding process has been effortless, thanks to the AT&T team and the AT&T Control Center software.”

“There are few things as important to my daughter as knowing the whereabouts of our dog,” said Glenn Lurie, president, AT&T Emerging Devices, Resale and Partnerships. “The peace of mind that a wirelessly connected collar will bring my family and pet owners across the country is long overdue. We’re extremely excited about this product and its possibilities.”

The pet friendly collar features a unique integrated design that allows for optimized GPS and wireless performance while virtually eliminating any restrictions on an animal’s weight or neck size.
Pricing, distribution, and design details of the collar will be made available at launch, expected later this year.

*AT&T products and services are provided or offered by subsidiaries and affiliates of AT&T Inc. under the AT&T brand and not by AT&T Inc.

About Apisphere
Apisphere is a location-smart technologies and mobile services platform company leading the charge into the next generation of Mobile application services and M2M. Apisphere’s award winning platform combines Location Smart Messaging solutions, Mobile Marketing, Device Connectivity and other services in a truly individualized, dynamic and location-relevant experience. By applying the core technology from its Location-Smart Messaging (LSM) platform, Apisphere promises to cost-effectively deliver the best Mobile Services Platform that leverages location-based information delivery for the mobile industry today.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

See What I'm Saying, Deaf Entertainers Documentary will be in mainstream theaters starting April 9th

This inspirational and heartfelt documentary follows four well-known entertainers in the deaf community: a comic, a drummer, an actor and a singer as they attempt to cross over to mainstream audiences. These uniquely talented deaf entertainers overcome great challenges on their way to personal triumphs and professional success


Bob Hiltermann,  a drummer in the world’s only deaf rock band, Beethoven’s Nightmare, produces the largest show in the band’s 30 year history.

CJ Jones, a hugely famous and internationally renowned comic in the Deaf world, but virtually unknown to hearing audiences, fights to, cross over to the mainstream by producing the first international sign language theater festival in Los Angeles.

Robert DeMayo, a brilliant actor who teaches at Juilliard, struggles to survive when he becomes homeless while living with HIV.

TL Forsberg, a hard of hearing, singer finds herself caught between the hearing and deaf communities when she attracts her first major producer to record her first CD “Not Deaf Enough.” Chronicled with rare intimacy and candor,  See What I'm Saying: The Deaf Entertainer's Documentary is the first open captioned* commercial film in American history. At the same time it opens the door to deaf culture, allowing the sign language in the film to be accessible to all audiences.

With humor and emotion, director Hilari Scarl captures the many obstacles these performers face daily.

*Definition: Open Captions The term “Open Captions” is used when text is burned-in on the picture,  similar to, subtitles for foreign films. Open captions also includes audio descriptors and non-speech, information that assist deaf audiences,  such as [phone rings] or a musical note symbol to, indicate song lyrics or background music. Open captions are part of the film and can’t be, turned off,  unlike closed captions which can be turned on and off with a decoder. Captions for SEE WHAT I’M SAYING were generously funded by Microsoft.

Mainstream Theater Booking Dates

April 9 - April 15              Mesa, AZ - Harkins Superstition Springs 25

April 9 - April 15              Peoria, AZ - Harkins Arrowhead Fountains 18

April 9 - April 11              Phoenix, AZ - Harkins Christown 14

April 9 - April 11              Denver, CO - Harkins Northfield 18

April 9 - April 11              Chino Hills, CA - Harkins Chino Hills 18

April 16 - April 18            Las Vegas, NV - Century 16 Suncoast

April 16 - April 18            Dallas, TX - Cinemark 17 & Imax Theatre

April 16 - April 18            Abilene, TX - Century Abilene 12

April 16 - April 18            Austin, TX - Tinseltown 17

April 16 - April 18            Elgin, IL - Marcus Elgin Cinema

April 16 - April 18            Gurnee, IL - Marcus Gurnee Cinema

April 16 - April 19            Addison, IL - Marcus Addison Cinema

April 16 - April 18            Oakdale, MN - Marcus Oakdale Cinema

April 16 - April 18            Columbus, OH - Marcus Crosswoods Cinema

April 16 - April 18            Pickering, OH - Marcus Pickerington Cinema

April 16 - April 18            Ashwaubenon, WI - Marcus Bay Park Cinema - Green Bay

April 16 - April 18            Appleton, WI - Marcus Hollywood Cinema

April 16 - April 18            Brookfield, WI - Marcus Majestic Cinema

April 16 - April 18            Menonomee Falls, WI - Marcus Menomonee Falls Cinema

April 16 - April 18            Sturtevant, WI - Renaissance Cinema - Sturtevant

April 16 - April 18            New Berlin, WI - Marcus Ridge Cinema - New Berlin

April 16 - April 18            Saukville, WI - Marcus Saukville Cinema

April 16 - April 19            Madison, WI - Marcus Eastgate Cinema

October 13, 2010 Chico, CA - Focus Film Festival - OPENING NIGHT FILM  Director and special guests will be in attendance


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Have you sent in your 2010 US Census form yet? It will help Service and Assistance Dog teams

Did you know that the information the United States Census collects helps to determine how more than $400 billion dollars (more than $4 trillion over a 10-year period) of federal funding each year is spent on infrastructure, government, community and social service programs — vital programs that help disabled people and Service and Assistance Dog teams. 

It's all about statistics
One of the major concerns about participation in the Census is privacy. Title 13 of the U.S. Code protects the confidentiality of all your information. Violating this law is a crime with severe penalties. In addition, other federal laws, including the Confidential Statistical Efficiency Act and the Privacy Act reinforce those protections. Furthermore, all Census Bureau employees take the oath of nondisclosure and are sworn for life to protect the confidentiality of your data.

Besides, participation in the Census isn't optional. It's mandatory by law. So send your form in today. You only have a few days left!

Need help filling out your form? Call for help!

  • English: 1-866-872-6868
  • Chinese: 1-866-935-2010
  • Korean: 1-866-955-2010
  • Russian: 1-866-965-2010
  • Spanish: 1-866-928-2010
  • Vietnamese: 1-866-945-2010
  • TDD (Telephone Display Device for the hearing impaired): 1-866-783-2010
  • Puerto Rico (in English): 1-866-939-2010
  • Puerto Rico (in Spanish): 1-866-929-2010

Friday, February 26, 2010

Godspeed Charles Israel

Fifteen-year Oklahoma state Senate employee Charles Israel, who used a Service Dog, suffered a stroke on Tuesday at the capitol. He later died at an Oklahoma City hospital. He was 48.

Charles Israel began work at the Oklahoma State Senate 15 years ago. He was currently employeed as a research analyst and administrator for the Senate's Web site. Israel had muscular dystrophy, used a wheelchair and was assisted by his Service Dog, Hobbes — who was purchased for him through an auction held by his friends and co-workers about a decade ago. Hobbes assisted him at work and home.

The Oklahoma state Senate honored Israel with a moment of silence at the start of Wednesday's session. “Charles epitomized perseverance, courage and dedication in the face of adversity,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Glenn Coffee. “We all mourn his passing, and send our heartfelt condolences to his mother, Norma, and his sisters, Jennifer and Sara.”

Friends and co-workers brought flowers and other items to create a memorial outside his office on the third floor of the capitol.

Instead of donations or flowers, please make donations to Paws with a Cause.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Is the cost of training a Service Dog tax deductible?

Many medical expenses are tax deductible. Any expense that involves prevention, diagnosis, or medical treatment of a physical or mental illness is deductible. Any expense that involves treatment for anything cosmetic is not. We've been asked several times if training for a Service Dog is tax deductible. The answer is: yes! The IRS does allow you to include the costs of buying, training, and maintaining a Service Dog as a medical expense. Please view this on the website.

You are allowed to claim a medical tax deduction for all medical expenses that exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income (AGI) for the 2009 tax year. For example, if your AGI is over $40,000, then you would have to pay more than $3000 in medical expenses during the year to qualify. Also, you can only deduct the amount that is in excess of the 7.5%. So, using the previous example, if you had $4000 in medical expenses, you would be able to deduct $1000 from your taxes.

Please note: Of course, we do suggest that you consult with a tax professional and do not rely on us as your sole source of tax advice. If you are ever audited, you may be asked to provide proof that your animal is a Service Dog that qualifies under the ADA. If you train your own animal, the best way to do this is by keeping a record of your training either in some kind of a paper log or online web blog — or a video tape of your Service Dog's completion of the Minimum Training Standards for Service and Assistance Dogs and a Public Access Test like the one available at Assistance Dogs International.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Are you concerned you or someone you know has PTSD? Here's the first step to finding help.

If you have served in a military conflict recently, you may be wondering if you have symptoms of PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD can have a profound affect on your every day life — but there is help.

The United States Department of Veteran's Affairs offers a free tool to help screen for PTSD. On the Department's microsite, MyHealthVet, there is a free, anonymous and confidential PTSD Screening Tool. It only takes a few minutes to complete but the results can help you decide whether or not you think you should seek treatment. Once the test is completed you may print them out to share with your physician or other health professional — but the results will not be stored online or sent anywhere.

If you need to speak to a professional emergency crisis counselor, please contact VA’s Crisis Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK. Counselors are available 24/7 at this number.

Monday, January 25, 2010

We're on Facebook!

We're now on Facebook! Join our Friends of the United States Service Dog Registry page, get Service and Assistance dog news from around the country and connect with others. Just search our name on Facebook and become a fan today!