Montel Medley was the valedictorian of the Class of 2014 at Surrattsville High School in Prince George’s County, Maryland. His speech covered the standard topics of growth, support from great teachers and future plans but also addressed something less common in such remarks– his autism. Medley said having a disability does not have to be a disadvantage, in fact it can be an advantage. In his case, Medley graduated with a 4.0 GPA and accepted an offer to attend Towson University in the fall. Read more.
Reporting on disability can be akin to walking through a minefield, carefully avoiding certain terms but inadvertently using others that backfire. As part of a running segment on special education, NPR’s Steve Drummond spoke with NCDJ director Kristin Gilger about how journalists should refer to students with disabilities and to the disabilities themselves. Gilger referenced the NCDJ’s style guide, which gives recommendations but also admits that there’s little uniform terminology when referencing people with disabilities. Gilger said, “our advice to journalists it to ask the person you’re interviewing.”
The NCDJ style guide is currently undergoing an update. We hope to have it up by the end of this year. Read more.
Former Rutgers University football player Eric LeGrand delivered a moving speech at his graduation in May despite his keynote invitation being rescinded just a few weeks earlier. LeGrand, who was paralyzed during a football game against Army in 2010, took to Twitter to express frustration after being uninvited to speak at graduation. Rutgers officials insisted it was a matter of miscommunication– LeGrand would still be able to make a speech but former New Jersey Gov. Tom Kean was the official keynote speaker.
Meanwhile, Kean said he’d donate his speaking fee to create a scholarship fund for LeGrand. Read more.
People with disabilities routinely receive substandard health care despite accounting for 20 percent of the U.S. population. Dr. Leana Wen, director of patient-centered care research in the Department of Emergency Medicine at George Washington University, recounts an emergency room memory when a man in a wheelchair was passed over by the medical staff because they were unsure how to care for him. Wen calls for increased disabilities education and training in medical schools, reporting that more than half of medical school deans say their graduates are not competent to treat people with disabilities. Read more.
Former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal apologized to a Detroit man with a rare disorder after making fun of the man on Instagram. O’Neal tweeted Tuesday that he had “made a new friend” after calling Jahmel Binion to apologize for mocking the man’s selfie. Binion, who has ectodermal dysplasia which causes a reduced ability to sweat, missing teeth and abnormal hair growth, started an anti-bullying Facebook group, Hug Don’t Judge, after O’Neal’s original post. Read more.
A Southern Maryland teen diagnosed with autism in elementary school still thinks two girls charged with continuously assaulting him are his friends, according to the boy’s mother. St. Mary’s County police say the 15 and 17-year-old girls allegedly assaulted the boy from December to February of this year, sometimes taping the assaults on their cell phones. The 16-year-old boy, however, does not appear traumatized by the situation. Read more.
Karen Meyer, who is deaf, uses experiences from her longtime reporting position for ABC 7 in Chicago to teach college courses on disability issues and awareness. Meyer teaches two courses at DePaul University– Disability Culture highlighting real life situations and Chicago’s Disabled Community in which students learn about local disability service organizations. In one class exploration, students experienced what it’s like to navigate Chicago’s Navy Pier in a wheelchair. Learn more.
Disabilities Studies courses, certificates and programs of studies are emerging in colleges across the U.S., according to a report from the New York Times. About 35 colleges and universities now offer the program in both undergraduate and graduate coursework. According to the report, students learn about disability history, theory and ethics, among other courses. Read more.
E-readers, as opposed to traditional books, have the ability to manipulate text on any given page, including limiting only a few words to shorter lines. Researchers at the Smithsonian found that in the case of the latter, people with dyslexia were able to read more quickly and with greater comprehension. Read more.