Silver Spring, Md. (Nov. 23, 2009) – Underscoring its commitment to leading in science-related programming and education, and answering President Obama’s call to action to encourage science literacy, Discovery Communications today announced a new multimedia, multi-year nationwide initiative called "Be The Future."  Over the next five years, Discovery will launch a programming block, education curriculum and tools to inspire student learning and careers in the sciences and support the White House’s efforts behind science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education.


"Lifting American students from the middle to the top of the pack in STEM achievement over the next decade will not be attained by government alone," said President Obama.  "I applaud the substantial commitments made today by the leaders of companies, universities, foundations, non-profits, and organizations representing millions of scientists, engineers and teachers from across the country."


"The exploration of science, technology and the natural world is central to the mission and DNA of Discovery Communications, and we are incredibly proud to put the full muscle of our content and resources behind this critical White House initiative," said John S. Hendricks, founder and chairman, Discovery Communications.  "Through ‘Be the Future, we will spark the innate curiosity in school-aged viewers and people of all ages, help drive interest and leadership in science-related careers and inspire a lifelong interest in how science shapes our everyday lives."


A sweeping, multi-platform initiative, "Be the Future" will be built on two primary Discovery businesses: the Science Channel, the only nationally distributed television network devoted entirely to celebrating the wonders of science, and Discovery Education, the leader in digital media for the classroom.  Offering services in more than half of all U.S. schools, Discovery Education’s standards-based digital media services are scientifically shown to improve academic achievement.  "Be The Future" also will reach across other Discovery platforms including, Discovery Channel and other television and online services.


The cornerstones of Discovery Communications’ commitment include:


Commercial-Free Kids’ Science Block: Science Channel will create and launch a new, commercial-free science educational programming block, which will air Monday-Saturday on the network.  Geared toward middle school students, the block is scheduled to launch in 2010.


STEM Connect: Offered by Discovery Education, this new curriculum-based and career development science resource is a module designed to fuel teacher and classroom engagement by helping students link science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to the real world.  Through a collection of rich media educational content, career exploration tools, interactives, and hands-on activities, STEM Connect makes science concepts come alive.  STEM Connect is available today.


The Siemens STEM Academy: Partnering with the Siemens Foundation, Discovery Education will create a national STEM education program for teachers.  Designed to support educators in their efforts to foster student achievement in STEM, the program will include the first online, shared repository of STEM best teaching practices, a National Teacher Academy bringing together science educators from across the country, and an ongoing Webinar series featuring leading scientists and experts in their fields.  The program will launch on January 1, 2010.


"Be the Future" PSA: Discovery Communications will create a "Be the Future" public service announcement and campaign, featuring well-known personalities from Discovery’s networks discussing the importance of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in everyday life and encouraging students to pursue careers in the sciences.  Kicking off the campaign will be a PSA from the hosts of Discovery Channel’s hit series "MythBusters," available in 2010 across all of Discovery’s U.S. television networks and Web sites.


Yearly "Be the Future" Programming Events: Major science series and specials will be developed for Science Channel, Discovery Channel and other Discovery networks, including innovative science-specific episodes of the landmark 60-part Curiosity series.


Science Education Research Study: Discovery will spearhead a comprehensive research study to understand the critical role media can play in the quest to inspire students to pursue STEM opportunities.


Discovery Education Annual Student Science Competitions: STEM initiatives also will be woven into Discovery’s annual nationwide middle school science competitions, the Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge and the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge.


Also, responding to the President’s call to action is DirecTV, which has demonstrated its commitment to science programming and education with expanded carriage for the Science Channel on its Total Choice service.  The move, from its less widely distributed Choice Plus package, grants millions of DirecTV subscribers nationwide access to the network’s high-quality science programming, highlighted by the new commercial-free children’s block.


"With the launch of ‘Be the Future,’ viewers and distributors alike can join Science Channel in this nationwide challenge to support learning and achievement in science, engineering, technology, and math," said Bill Goodwyn, president, Domestic Distribution and Enterprises and president, Discovery Education, Discovery Communications.  "DirecTV has stepped up to this calling in a significant way and their commitment to Science Channel gives millions more viewers a formidable tool to advance science literacy."


"Science Channel is thrilled to lead Discovery Communications’ consumer content efforts around STEM, including the launch of a new educational block designed to ignite student interest in the sciences," said Debbie Adler Myers, general manager, Science Channel.  "Science Channel celebrates the power of imagination and how science changes the world and we look forward to sharing that message to curiosity-seekers of all ages."


About Science Channel

Science Channel is broadcast 24 hours a day and seven days a week to nearly 58 million U.S. homes and simulcast on Science Channel HD.  We immerse viewers in the incredible possibilities of science, from string theory and futuristic cities to accidental discoveries and outrageous inventions.  We take things apart, peer inside and put things together in new and unexpected ways.  We celebrate the trials, errors and brinking moments that change our lives forever. To find out more go to


About Discovery Education

Discovery Communications revolutionized television with Discovery Channel and is now transforming classrooms through Discovery Education.  Powered by the number one nonfiction media company in the world, Discovery Education combines scientifically proven, standards-based digital media and a dynamic user community in order to empower teachers to improve student achievement.  Already, more than half of all U.S. schools access Discovery Education digital services.  Explore the future of education at


About Discovery Communications

Discovery Communications (Nasdaq: DISCA, DISCB, DISCK) is the world’s number one nonfiction media company reaching more than 1.5 billion cumulative subscribers in over 170 countries.  Discovery empowers people to explore their world and satisfy their curiosity through 100-plus worldwide networks, led by Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Science Channel, Planet Green, Investigation Discovery and HD Theater, as well as leading consumer and educational products and services, and a diversified portfolio of digital media services including  For more information, please visit


About DirecTV

DirecTV, DIRECTV, Inc. (NASDAQ:DTV), the nation’s No. 1 satellite television service, presents the finest television experience available to more than 18.4 million customers in the United States and is leading the HD revolution with more than 130 HD channels – more quality HD channels than any other television provider. Each day, DIRECTV subscribers enjoy access to over 265 channels of 100% digital picture and sound, exclusive programming, industry-leading customer satisfaction (which has surpassed all national cable companies for nine years running) and superior technologies that include advanced DVR and HD-DVR services and the most state-of-the-art interactive sports packages available anywhere. For the most up-to-date information on DIRECTV, please visit


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Dakota County Technical College To Serve As Inaugural Pilot Of NanoProfessor Nanoscience Education Program

NanoProfessor, a division of NanoInk, Inc.® focused on nanotechnology education, announced today that Dakota County Technical College (DCTC), in Rosemount, Minn., will serve as the inaugural pilot site of theNanoProfessor NanoScience Education Program. 

The NanoProfessor Program combines NanoInk’s state-of-the-art NLP 2000 Desktop Nanofabrication System with a student-friendly AFM, a fluorescence microscope well-suited for the educational environment, and a timely curriculum written by nanotechnology experts covering the areas of Nanotechnology Basics, NanoPhysics, NanoChemistry, and NanoBiology. NanoProfessor arms educators with a comprehensive program that can be implemented immediately in community colleges, technical schools, high schools, and universities to give students an edge to compete for high-tech jobs in a global environment.
By implementing the NanoProfessor Program in the 2010 academic year, DCTC has taken an important step in offering students an unparalleled education in nanoscience that will provide them with the knowledge and skills necessary to compete for the jobs of the future. 
“Our mission at DakotaCountyTechnicalCollege is to provide our students with education and training that prepares them to compete in the rapidly-changing marketplace,” said Ronald E. Thomas, president of DakotaCountyTechnicalCollege, a member of the MinnesotaStateColleges and Universities System. “We recognize the importance of nanoscience education, its many applications, and the advantage that the NanoProfessor Program will provide our students in preparation for future jobs in all areas of nanoscience.”
“Students enrolled in our nanotechnology program at DCTC will benefit from the NanoProfessor’s curriculum, which is focused on concrete applications of nanotechnology. The suite of equipment also allows the concepts of nanotechnology such as molecular interactions to be explained and studied through hands-on experience rather than just charts and simulations,” said Deb Newberry, director of the nanoscience technology program at DCTC. “The addition of the NanoProfessor Program will help us provide our students with an unmatched education, giving them the skills and knowledge to find employment in companies that are applying nanotechnology to product development, testing, research, and manufacturing design. These companies and the jobs they offer will enhance economic growth in nanoscale science and technology.”
DakotaCountyTechnicalCollege is at the forefront of innovation in education,” said Dean Hart, executive vice president, NanoInk. “By implementing the NanoProfessor Program into the school’s existing nanoscience technology program, students at DCTC will be provided with a comprehensive, hands-on education that will give them an edge when competing for jobs in the numerous industries where nanoscience applications are rapidly emerging. We are thrilled to have DCTC as the first college to implement the NanoProfessor pilot program, and anticipate that it will be a driving force in creating a skilled workforce of nanotechnologists.”
According to Career Voyages, a Web site collaboration of the U.S. Department of Labor and U.S. Department of Education, careers in nanotechnology are second only to biotechnology in terms of current and future demand for skilled workers. For students, knowing about these emerging industries can help formulate an educational path that will provide focus for college selection and career decisions, offering them an opportunity to be on the leading edge of a growing professional field.
Career Voyages also lists the nanoscience technology program at DCTC as one of four, two-year programs nationwide helping to provide students with the necessary skills to gain employment in the field of nanotechnology. Students participating in the NanoProfessor Program at DCTC will use interdisciplinary-focused, hands-on experiments to quickly and easily begin working at the nanoscale level. These skills can be applied to careers in virtually every industry that are already using nanotechnology to enhance everyday products, ranging from printers and automobiles to cosmetics and sports equipment. New nanotechnology-based applications are emerging every day including advancements in the fields of medicine and energy. 
The NanoProfessor Nanoscience Education Program will play an important role in bettering the industry and preparing students for future careers in the emerging field of nanoscience.
For more information on the NanoProfessor Program, please call (847) 679-NANO (6266) or visit
About DakotaCountyTechnicalCollege (DCTC)
DakotaCountyTechnicalCollege is a public two-year institution of higher education dedicated to the philosophy that there is dignity in all work and value in individual growth and learning.  It is the philosophy of the college that all of its students should have access to quality education that prepares them for rewarding careers.  DCTC values its role in contributing to economic development by providing a knowledgeable and skilled workforce.  The college views itself as a full partner in the higher education community and recognizes its contribution to lifelong learning.  More information is available at  
About the NanoProfessor Nanoscience Education Program
The NanoProfessor Nanoscience Education Program aims to advance the field of nanoscience and address the growing need for skilled workforce of nanotechnologists. The program utilizes NanoInk’s state-of-the-art NLP 2000 Desktop Nanofabrication System to provide students an interdisciplinary-focused, hands-on approach to quickly and easily build custom-engineered, nanoscale structures in a classroom setting. The NanoProfessor Program, including equipment and an expert-driven curriculum, is available for community colleges, technical schools, high schools and universities nationwide. More information is available at
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Media Contacts: 
Sara DeNio, Dresner Corporate Services, (312) 780-7223,
Christian Scarborough, Dresner Corporate Services, (512) 244-7088,



U. S. Department of Education Grants Funding to Bookshare to Convert Open Content Textbooks to Accessible Formats


Ann Harrison, Benetech, 415-637-5262,

Valerie C. Chernek, Bookshare, 410-871-2670,


November 20, 2009, Palo Alto, CA– The U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) has awarded Bookshare $100K in supplemental funding to create the first accessible versions of open content digital textbooks. The initial planned conversion of open content textbooks, which are distributed freely under a license selected by the author, are math and science textbooks approved for California students.


California is leading the nation in encouraging the use of free, open content textbooks. Under the direction of the Governor, Secretary of Education, and Superintendent of Public Instruction, the California Learning Resource Network (CLRN) reviewed for standards alignment open-source digital textbooks for grades 9-12 in the subject areas of mathematics and science. While some open content textbooks may be edited, the publishers of these digital high school textbooks are guaranteeing consistent content for the next two years. 


As other states begin to approve open content textbooks, Bookshare will continue to convert these materials to accessible formats for all students who read better with accessible text. The first open content textbooks approved for use in California will be available via Bookshare at The texts will be offered in the accessible DAISY format that enables multi-modal reading, combining highlighted on-screen text with high-quality computer-generated voice, and BRF, a digital Braille format for use with Braille displays or embossed Braille.


"Once again California’s innovation has inspired action, as those with reading challenges will soon be able to read the standards-aligned digital textbooks adopted under California’s first-in-the-nation digital textbook initiative," said California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. "Thanks to Bookshare and the U.S. Department of Education, these textbooks will be converted into accessible formats so students who struggle with reading traditional textbooks have a new opportunity to enhance their education."


Under the terms of the OSEP award, the accessible formats will offer a choice of digital book files with or without images, including detailed math and science illustrations and image descriptions for those with visual disabilities.


"Traditional copyrighted books, including those contributed to Bookshare by publishers, are protected with digital rights management technology and available only to those with a documented print disability. But Bookshare’s open content books will become part of the freely distributable books in the Bookshare collection and can be used by anybody without proof of disability," says Benetech CEO Jim Fruchterman. "These accessible books will not only help disabled students throughout the U.S. and globally, but provide parents, teachers and assistive technology developers with free access to real talking textbooks."


This initiative builds on Bookshare’s experience as the largest converter of digital textbooks from the National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC) into accessible formats for students in K-12 public schools. The NIMAC is a federally-funded central repository for digital versions of textbooks.


About Bookshare


Bookshare is the world’s largest accessible online library for people with print disabilities. Through its technology initiatives and partnerships, Bookshare seeks to raise the floor on accessibility so that individuals with print disabilities have the same ease of access to print materials as people without disabilities. In 2007, Bookshare received a $32 million five-year award from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), to provide free access for all U.S. students with a qualified print disability. The Bookshare library now has over 60,000 books and serves more than 70,000 members. Bookshare is an initiative of Benetech, a Palo Alto, CA-based nonprofit that creates sustainable technology to solve pressing social needs.


Valerie Chernek, Public Relations Manager

Benetech / Bookshare /

Technology Serving Humanity


Home Office

2212 Baltimore Boulevard

Finksburg, MD 21048

410-871-2670 / 410-960-4060


Howard Community College Selects ConnectYard to Help Students Leverage Facebook and Twitter for More than Just Socializing

Wayne, New Jersey — November 24, 2009 — ConnectYard, Inc. today announced that Howard Community College has selected its social learning service to leverage Facebook, Twitter and text messaging for providing enhanced academic support and building a greater sense of community among students – both of which positively affect a student’s persistence through graduation. Howard Community College’s Academic Support Services Department will use ConnectYard’s QuickConnect Widget for Blackboard, as an extension of the classroom by encouraging students to ask and respond to lecture and homework questions on their time and with their preferred media, including popular social networking sites and mobile devices. Tutors from the Academic Support Services Department can join in on the discussion via email without the need to log into Blackboard, text students directly or join a social networking site, which is not only convenient, but serves to eliminate potential privacy and security concerns.


 “ConnectYard enables us to provide our tutors with the tools they need to reach today’s 21st century learners using the technology they are already accustomed to,” said Debra Greene, Director, Academic Support Services at Howard Community College. “As a community college, we are up against a serious digital divide where not every student has regular access to a computer, so providing the option to use any phone, not just the smart ones, as a learning device is a real game changer.”


Another key benefit of the fully hosted learning service is that it allows students to interact with each other as well as tutors and staff through both Facebook and Twitter without the need to “friend” or “follow” one another, and reveal overly personal information. It also encourages students to share their thoughts and ideas with other students across classes, years and majors in a more social and collaborative way, which is something Howard Community College’s student leaders plan to take advantage of to increase participation within their student groups. This bridging of the academic and social worlds builds community and ultimately improves student learning outcomes through greater engagement outside classroom walls.


“ConnectYard extends the communication capabilities of existing learning management systems and portals by allowing people to connect with and learn from each other anytime and anywhere using the media they are already most comfortable with,” said Donald Doane, the Company’s CEO.


About ConnectYard

ConnectYard specializes in helping institutions effectively leverage the power of social and mobile media to improve the educational experience by extending the learning environment outside of the classroom into where students live and socialize – online. The Company’s Web 2.0 solutions are built upon a foundation of proven success and customer-driven innovation with a high focus on enhancing learning and building community amongst students.


ConnectYard, Inc. was founded in 2007 and is headquartered in Wayne, New Jersey. For more information on how ConnectYard can help your institution maximize student recruitment and retention, please visit or contact us at 973-494-8041.


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Pearson Applauds Georgia’s Pre-K Program for Serving One Millionth Child


ATLANTA – Nov. 23, 2009 – As the national focus on early childhood education continues to grow, Georgia’s Pre-K Program, administered by Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning, is celebrating a remarkable milestone: serving its one millionth child in lottery-funded Pre-K programs since the program began in 1992. To help gauge the effectiveness of its efforts, this nationally recognized preschool program utilizes the Work Sampling System, an observational student assessment provided by the education, services and technology company, Pearson.

                  Georgia’s Pre-K Program is one of the longest running in the United States. Bright from the Start piloted the Work Sampling System in 2006, fully implementing it in 2007. In 2008, Bright from the Start began piloting the Online Work Sampling System. Today 10 percent of the state’s Pre-K students are evaluated using the online version of the observational assessment, and Pearson is collaborating with Bright from the Start as it moves to a paperless system for data collection and analysis.

            "Georgia is a national leader in recognizing the importance of early learning programs and in investing in the lives of its youngest students," said Carol Watson, President, Clinical Assessments at Pearson. "Pearson has a long-standing commitment to help schools, communities, and states provide children with high quality early education through research-based curricula and assessments for young learners. Working with Georgia’s Pre-K Program is an honor."

            The Work Sampling System is a curriculum-embedded, teacher-guided, observational assessment in which multiple sources of documentation are gathered over time. The system involves the child, family, teacher, and program in the ongoing process of assessment and reporting. The Work Sampling System makes it easier for teachers to systematically document children’s skills, knowledge, behavior, and accomplishments using three elements: guidelines and checklists, portfolios, and summary reports.

            “The 2009-2010 school year is a year of celebration for Georgia’s Pre-K Program,” said Bright from the Start Commissioner Holly Robinson. “This school year, the one millionth child will walk through the doors of one of our Pre-K classrooms.”

“The Work Sampling System has helped us in our continual efforts to carefully monitor student progress in Georgia’s Pre-K Program,” acknowledged Mary Mazarky, Assistant Commissioner for Pre-K. “The online version is particularly exciting as the technology helps us to efficiently and accurately gather and manage data that can be used to inform teachers, program directors, parents, and policymakers.”


About Bright from the Start/Georgia DECAL

Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning is responsible for meeting the child care and early education needs of Georgia’s children and their families. It administers the nationally recognized Georgia’s Pre-K Program, licenses child care centers and home-based child care, administers federal nutrition programs, and manages voluntary quality enhancement programs.


The department also houses the Head Start State Collaboration Office, distributes federal funding to enhance the quality and availability of child care, and works collaboratively with Georgia child care resource and referral agencies and organizations throughout the state to enhance early care and education. For more information, go to


About Pearson

Pearson (NYSE:PSO), the global leader in education and education technology, provides innovative print and digital education materials for preK through college, student information systems and learning management systems, teacher professional development, career certification programs, and testing and assessment products that set the standard for the industry. Pearson’s other primary businesses include the Financial Times Group and the Penguin Group. For more information about the Assessment group of Pearson, visit


For more information, press only:

Wendy Lienhart, L. Wolfe Communications, 630-920-0182,

Adam Gaber, Pearson, (800) 745-8489,





Artist Collaboration Collector’s Editions

Oakley at Sheinman

We wrap science in art, and our sunglass designs are as original as the athletes and cultural icons who inspired them. We’re taking that to the limits of imagination by letting artists from around the globe create unique design treatments for some of our most sought-after frame styles. A select few of these rarities are now designated as Collector’s Editions, and a limited number will be produced each quarter.

Inspired by music, art, fashion and sports, these Oakley originals will be made available to collectors who want to own a piece of history. As Artist Series Editions, every sunglass comes with a matching box and MICROCLEAR™ bag.

Available now at Sheinman Opticians, Northampton.

To take a closer look at our range of  Oakley Jawbone designer sunglasses, please visit our website at We offer online shopping facilities and great discounts on big name brands.


Leaked eMail stokes climate-change debate

Computer hackers stole and posted private eMails from a climate change research center in Britain.

Computer hackers stole and posted private eMails from a climate change research center in Britain.

Students’ Social Security numbers and other personally identifying information aren’t the only data that campus IT administrators must secure, as an embarrassing and likely politically motivated security breach last week reveals: Computer hackers have broken into a server at a well-respected climate change research center in Britain and posted hundreds of private eMail messages and documents online, stoking debate over whether some scientists have overstated the case for man-made climate change.

The University of East Anglia, in eastern England, said in a statement Nov. 21 that the hackers had entered the server and stolen data at its Climatic Research Unit, a leading global research center on climate change. The university said police are investigating the theft of the information but could not confirm if all the materials posted online are genuine.

More than a decade of correspondence between leading British and U.S. scientists is included in about 1,000 eMail messages and 3,000 documents posted on web sites following the security breach last week. A leading climate change scientist whose private eMails are included in the documents said the leaks might have been aimed at undermining next month’s global climate summit in Denmark.

Kevin Trenberth, of the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research, in Colorado, said he believes the hackers deliberately distributed only those documents that could help attempts by skeptics to undermine the scientific consensus on man-made climate change.

Trenberth, a well-respected atmospheric scientist, said it did not appear that all the documents stolen from the university had been distributed on the internet by the hackers.

The leaks were seized on by climate change skeptics, who claim the correspondence shows collusion between scientists to overstate the case for global warming–and proof that some have manipulated evidence.

“Words fail me,” Stephen McIntyre–a blogger whose web site challenges popular thinking on climate change–wrote on the site following the leak of the messages.

In a telephone interview from Colorado Nov. 22, Trenberth noted the breach comes “right before the Copenhagen debate.”

“I’m sure that is not a coincidence,” said.

At least 65 world leaders will attend the Copenhagen climate summit in December as representatives of 191 nations seek agreement on a new global treaty on limiting emissions of greenhouse gases.


Students learn dangers of distracted driving

Amid alarming statistics about the number of teens who text or use cell phones while driving, school districts are starting to play a role in educating their students about the dangers of such behaviors.

During a Nov. 20 assembly on distracted driving, students at W.T. Woodson High School in Fairfax, Va., heard from local law-enforcement and community members about the need to break the dangerous texting-while-driving habit, especially as new drivers behind the wheel.

"Certainly, technology has taken off," said Capt. Susan Culin, commander of Fairfax County Police’s traffic division. "And it’s the norm for teenagers."

But using cell phones while driving can cause distractions that lead to accidents and injuries, she added.

"If talking on a cell phone while driving is dangerous, texting while driving is even worse," she said. "I can’t stress enough how dangerous this is."

Teenagers lack driving experience and are still learning, Culin said, and to stay safe, they should keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel–not on a cell phone.

High school drivers have every right to be excited about the freedom that a driver’s license offers, Lt. Col. Robert Northern, deputy superintendent of the Virginia State Police, told the assembled students.

"But with that freedom comes a tremendous responsibility as you learn to operate a 4,000-pound vehicle," he said. "What’s it all for? To answer an eMail or call? Can’t that wait?"

Northern said that avoiding four key things while driving can save lives: speeding, alcohol, failing to wear a seatbelt, and driver distraction–including texting.

A University of Utah study showed that a 20-year-old driver on a cell phone had the same reaction time as a 70-year-old. And regardless of age, drivers on cell phones are 18 percent slower in hitting the brakes and 17 percent slower to regain speed after braking.

"Drivers using phones are twice as likely to have an accident or a near miss," said John Townsend of AAA Mid-Atlantic. "Remember, 25 percent of people in your age group have texted while driving," he told the audience.

The assembly coincided with a new report on teens and distracted driving released by the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project.

"Teens and Distracted Driving" surveyed 800 teens ages 12-17 and a parent or guardian, as well as 9 focus groups with middle and high school students.

The report reveals that 26 percent of U.S. teenagers who are old enough to drive say they have texted while driving, and 43 percent of American teens ages 16-17 said they have talked on a cell phone while driving. (See "Study: One-fourth of teen drivers text behind the wheel.)

Almost half–48 percent–of all teens ages 12-17 say they have been a passenger in a car while the driver has texted behind the wheel. And 40 percent said they have been in a car when the driver used a cell phone in a way that put himself or others in danger.

A September survey from Transurban, FLUOR, and AAA Mid-Atlantic queried 1,047 drivers who regularly travel the Capital Beltway, a high-volume highway that serves Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., and is familiar to Woodson students. The beltway is traveled by 210,000 drivers on a typical weekday.

That survey found that 56 percent of respondents said they use their cell phone to call, read, or write text messages daily while driving. Half of those surveyed said they have had an accident or a near miss as a result of texting while driving.

Many states are quickly passing cell phone and text messaging legislation as it pertains to driving. Virginia bans text messaging for all drivers, bans all cell phone use for school bus drivers, and bans all cell phone use for drivers under the age of 18. Maryland passed a law on Oct. 1 to ban texting while driving. Colorado, Illinois, and New Hampshire are among the states that have texting bans set to go into effect soon.


Teens and Distracted Driving

State-by-state data on cell phone and texting while driving bans

"Govt. calls distracted driving an ‘epidemic’" (eSN Online, Oct. 1, 2009)


A ‘Grotesque’ Inspection for Panther at Salisbury Cathedral!

Panther has recently been helping Salisbury Cathedral with the important inspection of medieval stone gargoyles. Panther, part of Lavendon Access Services, carried out a detailed site survey at the 750 year old Cathedral to ensure they supplied the correct machine for the 3 days of inspection by specialist stone masons to determine whether they needed to undertake restorative work.
Senior Sales Manager, Stewart Green, recommended one of the largest booms in Panther’s fleet, a B85 DS self-propelled telescopic boom for a number of reasons: “Although the gargoyles are fairly low down, at over 123 metres the Cathedral is actually the tallest in the country, so we needed to make sure the operators could safely reach up and over the external features of the building. The machine would also have to travel over some uneven ground, so it was important to provide the four wheel drive option.”

Ted Hillier from Salisbury Cathedral’s Works Department is very happy with the machine’s performance and versatility: “At 27.9 metres, the B85 DS easily provided enough working height for our stone mason to carry out inspections. The platform also offers an impressive 23.4 metres of outreach which was particularly useful, as some of the areas we needed to access required the base of the boom to be positioned a distance away from the Cathedral itself.”

Salisbury is unique amongst medieval English Cathedrals, as it was built within one century with no substantial later additions. As well as being the UK’s tallest, the Cathedral contains the world’s oldest working clock, (from AD 1386) and has one of the four surviving original copies of the Magna Carta. 

Established in 1978, Panther Platform Rentals is a UK leader in powered access equipment hire and sale, and part of Europe’s largest powered access rental company, Lavendon Group PLC.For further information about our access hire service, please visit our website at



Schools protest Kindle’s setup for the blind


Amazon’s Kindle electronic book reader can read books aloud, but if you’re blind it can be difficult to turn that function on without help. Now, two universities say they will avoid the device until Amazon changes the setup.

The National Federation of the Blind planned to announce Nov. 11 that the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Syracuse University won’t consider big rollouts of the electronic reading device unless Amazon makes it more accessible to visually impaired students.

Both schools have some Kindles that they bought for students to try this fall, but now they say they won’t look into buying more unless Amazon makes changes to the device.

“These universities are saying, ‘Our policy is nondiscrimination, so we’re not going to adopt a technology we know for sure discriminates against blind students,'” said Chris Danielsen, a spokesman for the National Federation for the Blind. Inc. spokesman Drew Herdener said many visually impaired customers have asked Amazon to make the Kindle easier to navigate. The company is working on it, he said.

According to the National Federation for the Blind, there are about 1.3 million legally blind people in the U.S. Many more people have other disabilities such as dyslexia that make it difficult to read.

The Kindle could be promising for the visually impaired because of its read-aloud feature, which utters text in a robotic-sounding voice. For blind students in particular, the Kindle could be an improvement over existing studying techniques–such as using audio books or scanning books page by page into a computer so character-recognition software can translate it for a text-to-speech program.

But activating the Kindle’s audio feature probably requires a sighted helper, because the step involves manipulating buttons and navigating choices in menus that appear on the Kindle’s screen.

The federation says the device should be able to speak the menu choices as well.

Electronic books still make up a small portion of the overall book market, but it’s a fast-growing segment. In hopes of getting even more people to try the Kindle, Amazon released the $489 Kindle DX this year, which has a large screen and is geared toward textbook and newspaper readers.