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Paralympic Athlete Anna Strike Leads The Call For UK Sports Venues To Have Accessible Bathrooms

Paralympic athlete and campaigner Anne Wafula Strike is calling on sports ministers for UK sports venues regarding the lack of accessible bathrooms and facilities for handicapped individuals, calling it a “serious injustice” for disabled athletes and sports fans.

Twitter on Phone

Twitter Chief Executive, Jack Dorsey, Raises Concerns Among Employees After Month Of Crisis

Jack Dorsey is the part-time chief executive of Twitter, a position he’s held for many years now. After years of acquiring what’s referred to as “technical debt,” Twitter has been left extremely vulnerable on the back-end.

Samsung Phone

One UI 2.0 Coming to Samsung Phones in January

One of the benefits of owning an iPhone is that iPhone users can expect regular software updates, even for aging phones, and a similar, polished user experience across Apple devices. The same cannot be said for phones running Android, as each manufacturer offers its own take on Google’s mobile operating system, including unique skins, features, and apps for different devices. While this distinction has the benefit of affording Android users greater customizability and choice when selecting a device, the drawback is that the custom software experiences offered by different manufacturers can vary greatly in quality. Samsung, the South Korean company which for years has dominated the Android smartphone market, has long been plagued by complaints about bloatware and the presence of redundant features that are difficult or impossible to disable. The first version of One UI, which came bundled with the ninth version of Android as a software update in 2018, sought to address these criticisms by streamlining the user experience across the board, introducing easy-to-read UI elements and other user-oriented features. Now, for 2020, Samsung is introducing One UI 2, which will be pushed to compatible devices in the coming weeks and months.

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One UI 2.0 comes with Android 10, Google’s latest iteration of its mobile operating system, and additionally includes a number of features and improvements in an attempt to enhance the smartphone experience beyond what Google offers with stock Android. While the debut of One UI radically transformed the look and feel of Samsung phones, One UI 2 is more of an iterative update, building upon the new experience the company revealed just a few years ago. One UI 2.0 has been available in beta form for some users for months, but the update only recently began rolling out to regular users. While Samsung does not provide exact release dates for its software updates, the company has said that the update will be rolled out in phases throughout the year, with the most popular phones, including the S9 and S10, receiving One UI 2 in January and the rest of Samsung’s lineup of compatible devices receiving it as late as September. As software updates grow increasingly complicated and remain prone to bugs and security vulnerabilities, Samsung has opted to take its time distributing the update to its many devices, trying to ensure that ordinary users enjoy a smooth and polished software experience.

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One UI 2 contains new features designed to improve both the aesthetics and functionality of Samsung devices. For instance, the Dark Mode feature has been improved in One UI 2, which enables a black background with white text throughout nearly all of the software design. The update also enables Navigation Gestures, a method of using swipes to switch between apps that would look familiar to users of the newest iPhones. Also familiar to Apple fans is the introduction of Digital Wellbeing features, which aim to help users understand how frequently they use their devices and offer tools for limiting the duration of users’ engagement with their smartphones. Many of the other improvements built into One UI 2 take place behind the scenes, as Samsung has integrated enhancements to WiFi, audio and video codecs, and graphics processing software, which likely will benefit speed, stability, and battery life. And the company has also improved its software’s accessibility options, making their phones more useful to disabled users with options like high-contrast UI elements and even amplification of ambient noises when using the Galaxy Buds.

Android phones have long been criticized for being slow to receive updates, and Samsung’s phones are no different, as the months-old Android 10 is currently only available on a handful of the company’s products. Nonetheless, the upcoming release of One UI 2, with its impressive suite of bespoke features, shows that Samsung is committed to maintaining a quality user experience for its customers, even if it takes some time for the company to polish its software to meet the standards of the general public.

Surf School

Fully Accessible Surf School Opens In Bristol

The Wave is a new advanced wave pool in Bristol (located in the South of England) that allows equal opportunity for anyone with a real passion for surfing and a desire to learn. What sets this specific establishment apart from others is that it is the first wave pool in the UK that was designed with people with disabilities in mind. 

Nick Hounsfield is the former osteopathic physician behind the entire project. An osteopathic physician mainly focuses on joints, muscles and the spine, and their therapies are non-invasive. The overall goal is to help improve upon the body’s nervous, circulatory, and lymphatic systems without medicine or medical procedures; however, it’s meant to be in addition to traditional medicine practices as well. Many osteopathics are also medical doctors, although it’s not a requirement. 

“From day one, our aim was to make sure the space was accessible physically and in terms of culture, to make sure that all people have the same opportunities on site as each other and to normalize being around people who have physical or mental health issues,” Hounsfield said in an interview.

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The Wave is completed with access ramps, handicap restrooms, wheelchairs made specifically for beach terrain, and most importantly specialized surf trainers/coaches who are professionally trained to work with individuals who have physical/mental restrictions. 

In general the surfing culture in the UK is rather limited, due to an overall lack of beach access. The beaches have quick and passing seasons that are ideal for any water sports, but it also depends on the weather on a given day, and how close you are in relation to the beach. Man-made water structures for sporting have always been the best bet in the UK, however, none really had handicap access until now. 

There have been countless studies on the positive effects of playing water-sports for those with any sort of physical, mental, visual, or learning impediments. Doctor Easky Britton is a marine social scientist who studied over 33 studies involving over 2,000 individuals with some sort of disability, and how “water-based healthcare” affected their overall well-being. 

“In the context of a physical disability, it’s the sense of freedom from gravity which takes the pressure off joints. For some amputees it really reduces the dependency on narcotics and pain medication. And mentally, psychologically, it has a huge effect on mood and wellbeing,” Britton said.

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The Wave really is focused on delivering that same sense of freedom mentioned by Britton. Safety is obviously their number one priority, but after that the staff wants every individual who comes to The Wave to feel normal and excited about the new experiences they’re about to embark on. It’s for that reason that Hounsfield ensures that every group and every training session has at least four lifeguards on duty at all times. 

Again, the guards and trainers working at The Wave are all specially trained to work with individuals with specific physical and mental restrictions as well. No one ever asks to be limited in their physical or mental capabilities, so they shouldn’t have to compromise doing something just because it seems impossible. Hounsfield applied this logic to his establishment, and is now allowing a whole new world of possibilities for those who have been told they “can’t” surf or go in the water because of an uncontrollable restriction. 

“I love stuff when it’s ‘on’ the water – it’s my happy place. At first [after the accident] I was very wobbly but skiing and wakeboarding has given me strength. Most of all it’s helped me mentally, emotionally and with confidence. Having these kinds of experiences is a total gift,” says 31-year-old Sophie Elwes, who’s paralysed from the chest down. 

“It was truly an inclusive experience. I wish the whole world was designed [accessibly] like this.”