Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Statement on B.1.1.529 Omicron variant

On November 26, 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified a new variant, B.1.1.529.   It is named Omicron. No cases of this variant have been found in the U.S. to date. CDC is following the details of this new variant. It was first reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) by South Africa. CDC is working with other U.S. and global public health and industry partners to learn more. CDC will continue to monitor its path.

CDC is always watching variants. The U.S. variant watching system has reliably detected new variants in this country. We expect Omicron to be identified quickly, if it emerges in the U.S.

CDC knows what it takes to prevent the spread of COVID-19. They recommend people follow prevention strategies: 

  • Wearing a mask in public indoor settings in areas of high transmission areas
  • Washing your hands frequently
  • Physically distancing from others

 CDC also recommends that everyone 5 years and older protect themselves from COVID-19 by getting fully vaccinated. CDC encourages a COVID-19 vaccine booster dose for those who are eligible.

CDC Omicron info

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) How to Protect Yourself and Others

COVID-19 cases are on the rise across the US.  It is important to be safe.  You can protect yourself and others by following some simple guidelines. This is critical during the holiday season.

Protect Unvaccinated Family Members

Some people in your family need to continue to take steps to protect themselves from COVID-19, including

    • Anyone not fully vaccinated, including children under 5 years of age who cannot be vaccinated yet
    • People with weakened immune systems or underlying medical conditions
  • Get Vaccinated
  • Wear a Mask
  • Stay 6 feet away from others
  • Avoid crowds and poorly ventilated spaces
  • Wash your hands often
  • Cover coughs and sneezes
  • Clean and disinfect
  • Monitor your health daily

These tips can help people to stay safe and healthy.

How to Protect Yourself & Others




National Institute for Health Care Management (NIHCM) Foundation Disability, Health Equity & COVID-19

1 in 4 adults in the United States has a disability.

What is a disability?

  • A disability is when a person’s body, mind and/or emotional functions intersect with a physical or social environment.  This results in  limitation in activities or restrictions in full participation for the person.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)  data outlines the disability status of U.S. adults. It shows that:

  • 12.0% of adults have a Cognitive Disability
  • 5.9% of adults have a Hearing Disability
  • 12.8% of adults have a Mobility Disability
  • 5.0% of adults have a Vision Disability
  • 3.8% of adults have a Self-care Disability
  • 7.0% of adults have an Independent Living Disability

People with disabilities are  diverse  and have a wide-range of healthcare and support needs.

This infographic highlights the challenges facing the disability community. It shows clear steps that can be taken to support the health and well-being of this community.

Disability, Health Equity & COVID-19  Infographic

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Clear Communication Index – A Tool for Developing and Assessing CDC Public Communication Products 

The Clear Communication Index (Index) provides research-based criteria to develop and assess public communication products. The Index supports the efforts of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to comply with the Plain Writing Act of 2010.  Helps to achieve goals set forth in the National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy and the CDC Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy.

The 20 items in the Index build on and expand plain language technique    described in the Federal Plain Language Guidelines.

The Index at a Glance
Why Was the Index Developed?
The Index was developed to:
1. Identify the most important communication characteristics that enhance clarity and aid understanding of public messages and materials.
2. Provide a research-based tool for staff to develop and assess communication products for CDC’s audiences, no matter the format or distribution channel.

Who Should Use the Index?
CDC designed the Index for:
– CDC staff who write, edit, design, and review communication products for the public
– Contractors who produce materials for CDC
– Anyone who develops public health communication materials can use the Index.

How Does the Index Work?
The Index contains 20 items, each with a numerical score of zero or one. The individual scores are converted to an overall score on a scale of 100. Although 100 is an ideal score, 90 or higher is passing.

The Index assesses materials in these 7 areas:
1. Main Message and Call to Action
2. Language
3. Information Design
4. State of the Science
5. Behavioral Recommendations
6. Numbers
7. Risk

Estimated time required to complete the Index: 15 minutes.

CDC Clear Communication Index User Guide (.pdf)

COVID-19 Deaths 6 to 10 Times Higher for the Learning Disabled

The BBC reports “Covid: Learning disability death rates ‘six times higher.” In the United Kingdom, “Learning Disabled” is the same as “Intellectual Disability or ID” (formerly “Mental Retardation”) in the United States.

According to the BBC article, “Covid: Disabled people account for six in 10 deaths in England last year – ONS,” Their risk of death involving Covid was 3.7 times greater.



Help Us Simplify COVID-19 Terms!

EasyCOVID-19: We make COVID-19 info easy to understand.

Let’s Get Started!

Please help us simplify COVID-19 terms. It’s easy!

We show you a term / word and its definition. You can skip any term if you can’t think of a simple alternative. Below is a sample simplification form.

Simplification Form. Term = Quarantine. Sample simplified text = stay safe at home. Submit and Skip buttons.

Let’s get started!


EasyCOVID-19 Project Now Recruiting!

Please help us simplify COVID-19 info worEasyCOVID-19: We make COVID-19 info easy to understand.ld wide!

The EasyCOVID-19 project is now recruiting people to help us simplify COVID19 terms. Please help us by visiting our EasyCOVID-19 crowdsourcing app. This is the start of our project to simplify the COVID-19 information published by every country’s government websites.

Overall Plan

We will start with Massachusetts. We will then expand to the other U.S. states. We will then move to the 18 English Speaking countries, then the 21 Spanish speaking countries, then the world! This will help many huge populations, such as people with cognitive disabilities, non-native language speakers, the Deaf, and seniors. When they understand how to be safe and healthy, the whole world will be safe and healthy.

Our project would not be successful without:

Please help us now!

For more info, see our EasyCOVID-19 Website!


The EasyCOVID-19 Project

EasyCOVID-19 LogoThe COVID-19 pandemic shows that, for all of us to be safe and healthy, all of us need to understand reliable COVID-19 information published on the web by every country. Our new and exciting EasyCOVID-19 Project is simplifying COVID-19 information (text) and transforming COVID-19 infographics and charts to make COVID-19 info understandable by every country’s huge populations of:

  • people with cognitive disabilities and/or low literacy;
  • seniors and the Deaf; and
  • non-native language speakers.

We have a wonderful, international team of passionate, highly skilled people from around the world.

We will regularly publish our progress and information about our efforts.

For more info, see our EasyCOVID-19 Website!


A for Access-ibility

Open Access Technologies LogoA few months ago, I was interviewed for a new podcast series: A is for Access-ibility. Created by Open Access Technologies, the series spotlights accessibility experts making technology more inclusive for people with disabilities.

Watching the series is a wonderful way to learn about accessibility, and about how I think artificial intelligence will play an important part in its future.

Join me and host, Portland Helmich, for their third installment of A is for Access-bility.

I thank Howard Berke for inviting me to be interviewed.

CSUN and Assistive Technology

CSUN/Tseng College LogoAssistive Technology (AT) is experiencing amazing growth. An increasing aging population is creating new needs to address. Specialists are needed to identify user needs and connect them to the right AT. Assistive Technology used to focus on hearing, sight, or movement issues. Newer technologies are helping the way we learn and process information. These include:

  • Cognitive aids that help people with challenges in thinking skills
  • Computer software/hardware: voice recognition, screen readers, closed captions
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Machine Learning
  • Neuroscience

Recently, I learned about Assistive Technology programs at Tseng College. Tseng College is a part of California State University, Northridge (CSUN). Located in Los Angeles. One area that it specializes in is programs for mid-career adults. These programs are mostly online. This gives working people the ability to learn new skills on their own time. Instructors, classmates, and field experts create a supportive group environment.

Master of Science, Assistive Technology Engineering
This program is taught by working engineers. Students have hands-on experience in addition to the online course. The program provides:

  • Design experience to create new assistive technology
  • Project and team management skills
  • New technical abilities
  • Ability to define new uses for existing technologies
  • A working portfolio to share work with potential employers

Master of Science, Assistive Technology Studies and Human Services (ATHS)
This program is the first of its kind in Southern California. It creates skilled AT specialists who can:

  • See the connection between human and technology factors
  • Assess AT users’ needs and identify solutions
  • Explain and train the solution to the AT user
  • Translate the legal and political history of AT