• In one of those amazing life coincidences, I met a dad the other night through my friend Wendy whose friend has a child with autism. That friend is working on a revolutionary speech app, Xalts (he explains it in the above video). It's an open source, visual language application and library. You'll be able to import vocabularies on existing devices (though not the images that are on them, to avoid copyright infringement). Or create your own set of vocabulary from scratch, then upload them to a library (and share them with others). You won't need to access this using a device with Apple iTunes; it'll work on any device. They're looking for funding right now; chip in if you're game and keep your eye on them.
• Next Friday, April 29, is the Make-A-Wish Foundation's World Wish Day, a celebration of wish giving. You can help grant wishes, or nominate a child. I loved this video of a kid who became Electron Boy on World Wish Day 2010.
And—woo hoo!—four Wish kids made it into a Justin Bieber's video, Pray. Justin's granted 35 wishes so far. Good stuff.
• ONE, a grassroots organization dedicated to fighting extreme poverty and preventable diseases, has this awesome public service ad out about caring about kids in Africa. They desperately need vaccinations that'll help stop pneumonia and diarrhea—two of the biggest killers of children in poor countries. Yes, it's hard to believe that poop can be deadly, but it takes the lives of more young children than AIDS, malaria and measles combined. They die from dehydration.
Sign the ONE petition (it literally takes three seconds) to ask world leaders to support funding. This effort could help save 4 MILLION children's lives in the next five years.
• There's a new curriculum being implemented in elementary and middle schools, Choose Zero, that'll teach kids about reducing carbon emissions in their homes, schools, and communities. It features the Nissan LEAF, an electric car that was just named the 2011 World Car of the Year.
On the site, kids can see the effects of their choices on the environment—and you can enter for a chance to win a three-year lease on the LEAF.
• "I've written loads of music. Why would I try to put out a song and think I'm getting one over on everybody? That's retarded," Lady GaGa told a writer doing a story for British music mag NME. After advocacy groups called her on it, she issued an apology to Perez Hilton: "I consider it part of my life's work and music to push the boundaries of love and acceptance. My apologies for not speaking thoughtfully. To anyone that was hurt, please know that it was furiously unintentional."
Who knows whether GaGa or her pr person were the driving force behind the apology. I don't care; what matters most is that a celeb is drawing attention to the issue. You, me, other bloggers and groups can raise hell about the use of the word "retard," but it takes a celebrity to get a whole lot of people thinking about it.
Meanwhile, my post about tweeting to people who use the r-word continues to get spectacularly clueless remarks. Sample: "People with mental retardation will never be campaigning against the use of the word 'retarded' because they do not have the intellectual capacity to understand why it is offensive. If it doesn't bother them, why the heck does it bother you so much?"