8 months ago

Alabama Athletics receives sensory-inclusive certification from KultureCity

The University of Alabama Department of Athletics has partnered with KultureCity to make Bryant-Denny Stadium sensory inclusive. This new initiative will promote a more accessible and positive experience for guests and fans with sensory needs at the stadium.

“Obtaining this certification is something that was very important to us,” said Alabama Director of Athletics Greg Byrne. “We want all of our fans to have the best experience possible, and we thank everyone at KultureCity for educating and equipping us with the tools needed.”

The certification process included sensory awareness training provided to staff at the University of Alabama by leading medical professionals to provide tools on how to better serve guests with sensory needs.

“To know that you soon will be able to see families attend a football game, a true community binding experience, with their loved ones who have a sensory challenge and who were not able to previously attend, is truly a heartwarming moment,” said Dr. Julian Maha, co-founder of KultureCity. “Our communities are what shape our lives and to know that Alabama Athletics is willing to go the extra mile to ensure that everyone, no matter their ability, is included in their community is amazing.”

Sensory bags equipped with noise-canceling headphones, fidget tools, verbal cue cards and weighted lap pads will also be available to guests at Bryant-Denny Stadium with sensory needs who may feel overwhelmed by the environment. Three areas have been designated as check-out locations for the sensory bags, which will be staffed by members of the University of Alabama Autism Clinic. Bags can be checked out by leaving an ID at the following locations:

  • Lower level (ground floor): Near the first aid room behind Section K
  • Upper level (concourse): Near Section SS-10
  • Upper level (concourse): Near Section NN-11

Sensory sensitivities or challenges with sensory regulation are often experienced by people with autism, dementia, PTSD and other similar conditions. One of the major barriers for these individuals is sensitivity to overstimulation and noise, which is an enormous part of the environment in sporting venues. With its new certification, Bryant-Denny Stadium is now better prepared to assist guests with sensory sensitivities in having a more comfortable experience when in attendance.

Prior to attending an event, fans can download the free KultureCity App to view what sensory features are available and where they can access them. The App also features a Social Story that will provide a preview of what to expect while enjoying an event at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

For fans needing assistance in-venue, please call 205-348-5620.

KultureCity is a leading nonprofit recognized nationwide for using its resources to revolutionize and effect change in the community for those with sensory needs. Since the program’s inception, KultureCity has created more than 350 sensory-inclusive venues in four countries, including special events such as the NFL Pro-Bowl, NFL Super Bowl and MLB All Star Weekend.

This story originally appeared on the University of Alabama’s website.
(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

2 hours ago

7 Things: Ivey mandates masks, Huntsville added to coronavirus hotspot list, Trump calls out the left’s attack on America and more …

7. Low rent in Alabama isn’t low enough

  • The annual “Out of Reach” report released by the National Law Income Housing Coalition suggests that even though Alabama has one of the lowest rent costs in the country, it’s still too high and unaffordable for minimum wage workers. 
  • The report says that most minimum wage workers can’t afford the rent for a one-bedroom apartment in 95% of U.S. counties, and none can afford the rent of a two-bedroom apartment anywhere in the U.S. Alabama came in 46th for housing costs, and figures that a worker in the state must earn $15.44 per hour to afford a two-bedroom rental.

6. Secret Trump voters

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  • Recent polling indicates that President Donald Trump is trailing former Vice President Joe Biden. This trend is indicated in national polls by Rasmussen and Quinnipiac, as well as swing state polls that place him down double digits in Pennsylvania and even in Texas.
  • In Pennsylvania, a polling firm asked about “secret Trump voters,” or voters who don’t want to say they support Trump publicly, and 57% of respondents said that those voters will not admit they support Trump but will vote for him November.

5. Trump knows what’s best for Alabama, apparently

  • President Donald Trump endorsed former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville in the U.S. Senate runoff, and now Tuberville will face U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) in the general election, so Trump has started his attacks against Jones. 
  • Trump criticized Jones for “not doing the job,” and added that Jones “doesn’t represent the views of the people of Alabama.” He went on to praise Tuberville, saying that will be “a great senator.”

4. Biden wants to get rid of the “American way of life”

  • President Donald Trump has released another attack on former Vice President Joe Biden, saying that he and “the Radical Left want to Abolish Police, Abolish ICE, Abolish Bail, Abolish Suburbs, Abolish the 2nd Amendment – and Abolish the American Way of Life.”
  • President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign national press secretary Hogan Gidley said that “Biden is waging war” on the “American way of life,” jobs and families, but Biden has attacked Trump on the coronavirus pandemic again recently, saying that “unlike this president, I’ll actually listen to the experts and head their advice.” That came in response to a report about recent tensions between the White House and Dr. Anthony Fauci. 

3. Huntsville is on the national watchlist

  • Due to the rise in coronavirus cases and the positive test percentage being more than 10%, Huntsville has been added to a national watchlist of cases, and people from the national response team are assisting the area. 
  • Dr. Pam Hudson, CEO of Crestwood Medical Center, said that the current rate of those hospitalized having to be placed in the ICU is around 30%. She said while our hospitalization numbers seem to be “flattening,” there’s still 132 people hospitalized, and the county positive test percentage is at 15%. 

2. CDC: Coronavirus could be under control in the U.S. if people wore masks

  • The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Dr. Robert Redfield has said that if everyone starts wearing a face mask, “over the next four to six, eight weeks, we can bring this epidemic under control.”
  • Due to early conflicting reports about the effectiveness of masks, many people still refuse to wear them, but statewide mask mandates are also becoming more popular as states have coronavirus case spikes, leaving governors with the options of mask mandates or shutdowns. 

1. Statewide mask order is happening

  • Governor Kay Ivey has revised the state “Safer-At-Home” health order to include a statewide mask requirement, which will supersede all current mask mandates in counties and cities. This was expected as deaths and coronavirus cases continue to increase across Alabama. 
  • While U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) praised the move, Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth has made it clear that he supports wearing masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, but he’s also voiced his opposition to the mask mandate, saying the order “is an overstep that infringes upon the property rights of business owners and the ability of individuals to make their own health decisions.”

Byrne: A fiscal reckoning

When the House returns to business next Monday, we will take up the National Defense Authorization Act I wrote about last week. Then, we will take up appropriations bills for next fiscal year, which begins October 1, and likely another coronavirus bill.

This spring I voted for both of the CARES Acts, which together spent $3 trillion. That was on top of this year’s projected total federal spending of $4.8 trillion, which was already going to add $1 trillion to our national debt. With the CARES Act spending, however, the total deficit for this fiscal year will be $3.7 trillion. The deficit for the month of June alone was $864 billion.

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Following the work of the Democrat-controlled House Appropriations Committee last week, I became very concerned about the bills they will pass out of their committee this week and that the House will vote on later this month. They are exceeding the spending cap deal reached by their leadership, Senate leadership and President Trump last year. Just as bad, they are loading up their spending bills with controversial policy riders they know Republicans won’t vote for. Unless they make a big change, I’m going to vote against the House version of appropriations for next year. I hope the Senate brings some sanity to the process.

I also have big concerns over another coronavirus bill. We’ve spent so much money already, money we don’t have and are borrowing. And I don’t agree with the Modern Monetary Theory which says deficits don’t matter. I won’t bore you with the very solid arguments against it by eminent economists because common sense is all you need to understand individuals and nations can’t borrow unlimited amounts of money over the long term. That’s even true for the richest nation the world has ever known.

Investors buy U.S. government debt in the form of treasury bills (which are government securities due to be paid in a year), treasury notes and bonds (which mature over a longer time frame), and Treasury Inflation Protected Securities (bonds indexed to inflation). They don’t do that out of patriotism or the good of their hearts. This isn’t World Wars I or II where bonds are purchased in a great national effort. No, the investors who buy our debt do it for their own self-interested reasons, and they expect to be paid back in full and on time. If they believe that they may not get paid back because the U.S. won’t be able to make the ever-growing payments, they will stop buying our debt.

And that’s when reality kicks in. It recently happened to Greece and Italy, both of which experienced severe economic turmoil and downturns. It could happen here too because even the U.S. is not immune from the laws of economics. It would be catastrophic for us, but it would be catastrophic for the world as well. If the U.S. falls economically, who gains the most? The answer is China, which already has concrete plans to replace us as the most powerful country in the world. We owe them $1 trillion and counting.

So, we need to start thinking longer term which hasn’t been a U.S. strong point for some time. Yes, we must deal with COVID-19 both as a health crisis and a danger to our economy. But, it’s time to be more focused and avoid the panicky temptation to just shovel out money. The money we have already approved hasn’t even been all spent.

What should be our priorities in the next coronavirus bill? First, it’s the cost of developing and making readily available a vaccine, just as the U.S. did with the polio vaccine during my childhood. Second, it’s the care for those who contract COVID-19, which includes effective therapeutics, and protecting the caregivers themselves. Third, it’s making sure we have the tests and PPE we need. These three all deal directly with the disease because our society and economy cannot return to “normal” until we address the disease more effectively. All of us have an individual duty in this regard, to avoid large gatherings and those most at risk of the disease, to social distance and wear face masks inside buildings.

But, when we turn to the economy, I have great concerns. I know the PPP loans/grants worked to save millions of U.S. jobs and bring many of those laid off back to work. So, maybe we start there. But, as I drive around, I see many “help wanted” and “now hiring” signs, and I hear from many business owners that they can’t get employees back to work. So, we must ask the question, do we need to keep paying the extra $600 a week to those drawing unemployment? Have we created a disincentive to work? Everyone has their hand out: colleges, schools, hospitals, this industry and that industry, the states and local governments. Where will all this money come from?

So, as we approach these two big spending projects, I am very skeptical. I’m not saying I won’t vote for either, but it looks like the FY 21 appropriations bills will just be too much for me to support. On a new coronavirus bill, I’m taking a wait and see position. My mind is open but not empty. It’s time we start reckoning with our fiscal deficits – before we’re painfully forced to by our creditors.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne is a Republican from Fairhope.

15 hours ago

Gov. Ivey meets with Dr. Deborah Birx about COVID-19

Governor Kay Ivey (R-AL) on Wednesday hosted Dr. Deborah Birx, the coronavirus response coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force, at the Alabama State Capitol.

Ivey, Alabama State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris and Birx met first in the governor’s office, before moving to a roundtable discussion with various state health care professionals, members of the business and religious communities and lawmakers.

Gina Maiola, Ivey’s press secretary, said in a release that “Dr. Birx emphasized very strongly that this is a critical time for the South to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”

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Per Maiola, Birx also lauded the governor’s new statewide mask mandate as “brilliant” and integral to keeping Alabama businesses open and operating safely.

“A variety of topics were discussed and questions were asked on anything from testing, to Remdesivir and reopening schools and churches safely. Dr. Birx explained that early on the virus seemed to be concentrated in large cities in the Northeast, however, this has not proven to be accurate in the South. She expressed how the South, specifically Alabama, has high rates statewide. Dr. Birx told the governor that she was personally worried about the South, which is why she visited our state in person. Governor Ivey is appreciative for her time and knowledge and looks forward to keeping an open dialogue with her and the Trump Administration as we work through the pandemic,” the governor’s spokesperson concluded.

RELATED: Doug Jones: Ivey’s statewide mask mandate ‘the right thing’

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

16 hours ago

Doug Jones: Ivey’s statewide mask mandate ‘the right thing’

U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) is backing Governor Kay Ivey’s statewide mask mandate, which goes into effect Thursday at 5:00 p.m. CT.

Jones is a member of the U.S. Senate Health Committee and recently hosted Dr. Anthony Fauci on his weekly live-streamed press conference.

Alabama’s junior senator also released a campaign ad encouraging members of the public to wear face masks.

In a statement on Thursday, Jones said, “Governor Ivey did the right thing today by enacting a statewide mask policy.”

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“Unlike her counterparts in other Deep South states, Governor Ivey is clearly following the advice of health care professionals,” he continued. “Many Alabama communities in COVID-19 hotspots have already taken this step, which will help limit the spread of this virus and reduce the strain on our struggling hospitals and health care workers, and it just makes sense to do it on a statewide basis.”

“We all want to move past this deadly, disruptive pandemic. By taking the simple steps of wearing a mask and social distancing, we can each do our part to protect lives and livelihoods,” Jones concluded.

RELATED: Ainsworth: Statewide mask mandate ‘an overstep’ — ‘One-size-fits-all, big government requirement’

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

16 hours ago

World Games to feature flag football for first time ever at Birmingham 2022 event

The World Games 2022 Birmingham on Wednesday announced that flag football will join its existing lineup of 32 unique, multi-disciplinary sports.

This international multisport event features sports and disciplines not included in the Olympics. The event is typically held one year after the Olympics.

Since the 2020 Olympics were postponed to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Games in Birmingham originally scheduled for 2021 were also pushed back a year.

Wednesday’s announcement was made in partnership with the International World Games Association (IWGA), National Football League (NFL) and International Federation of American Football (IFAF).

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RELATED: World Games 2022 Birmingham names Charles Barkley as honorary co-chair — ‘Chance to show the world what this community and its people are all about’

The 2022 event in Birmingham will be the first edition of the World Games on American soil since 1981.

Hosted at historic Legion Field, flag football at the World Games 2022 Birmingham will be presented by the NFL and feature eight men’s teams and eight women’s teams from around the world.

“We are grateful that the NFL recognizes the significance that The World Games 2022 will have as the first major international sporting event in the United States coming out of this global pandemic,” stated Nick Sellers, CEO of the World Games 2022.

As the current reigning world champions, the United States men’s and women’s teams both pre-qualify. The remaining teams will be selected through the IFAF qualifying process.

“The world is longing to reconnect, and Birmingham, Alabama will play a pivotal role in that reconnection,” Sellers added. “The NFL’s partnership sends a signal to every company in the world that associating their brand with this special event is important for the world to see.”

The World Games 2022 Birmingham will take place July 7-17, 2022, and will generate an estimated $256 million in economic impact.

“Football is a staple of Southern sports and will be a welcome addition to The 2022 World Games lineup,” said Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin. “Non-contact sports like flag football are a great way to open up competition to all skill levels. That type of accessibility and inclusion is what The World Games is all about, providing incredible experiences and lasting memories for participants and spectators to enjoy. Birmingham can’t wait for the world to join us in 2022.”

NFL FLAG is an NFL licensed property of more than 1,600 locally-operated leagues and over 500,000 youth athletes across all 50 states. NFL FLAG has regular participation from more than 3 million youth and adults in the United States.

“The addition of flag football to the World Games brings tremendous global value as the NFL looks to expand the NFL FLAG brand worldwide,” commented Izell Reese, executive director of NFL FLAG. “With support from NFL Global Ambassador and NFL FLAG Chairman Russell Wilson, we’ve committed to creating more opportunities for athletes around the world to play flag, and we look forward to teaming up with the City of Birmingham and the World Games Committee to share the NFL FLAG experience with even more athletes and fans.”

“We are so excited to bring flag football to the international stage during The World Games 2022 in Birmingham,” added Seattle Seahawks quarterback, Super Bowl champion and NFL FLAG chairman Russell Wilson. “Flag football expands the sport of football by providing easier access to our game for men and women from all walks of life. With a huge international platform like this, we’ll create opportunities for kids and adults around the world to experience and learn the game of football, while helping grow the sport’s global popularity.”

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn