In this investigative series into one of California’s largest group homes for children with mental disabilities and emotional disorders, ProPublica journalists expose failures at nearly every level to protect its troubled residents. The insitution at the center of the story, FamiliesFirst in Davis, was raided by police in June 2013 after a year of responding to hundreds of calls about drug use, rape, violence and negligence. According to reporter Joaquin Sapien’s explanation of how the story was covered, the investigators obtained data through public records requests and drew from interviews with more than three dozen subjects, including social workers and children who worked and lived in the home.
Read more, and watch the accompanying documentary “Sule’s Story,” at ProPublica.
The American Association of People with Disabilities is now accepting applications for the 2015 NBC Universal Tony Coelho Media Scholarship. Four scholarships are available to undergraduate and graduate students with disabilities who are pursuing degrees in communications or media-relations. Each recipient will receive $5,625 for tuition and fees at their college or university.
The scholarship is named in honor of Tony Coelho, a former United States Representative from California and the primary author and sponsor of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Coelho also served as a judge for the second annual Katherine Schneider Journalism Award for Excellence in Reporting on Disability, administered through the NCDJ.
For more information about applying, visit the AAPD website and read below.
Three high school seniors from Phoenix, Arizona, took home first place in their division for C-SPAN’s Student Cam 2015 documentary competition. “An IDEA for Tomorrow,” produced by Severiano Romo, Alexis Rainery and Molly Kerwick of the Metropolitan Arts Institute, showcases the single piece of federal legislation governing the education of children with disabilities– IDEA, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
For Peyton Gallovich, a course in American Sign Language at ASU evolved into something more than just an opportunityto learn a new language.
It inspired the student at the Cronkite School to develop a professional news program that connects the deaf and hearing communities
From left: Dyan Sue Kovacs, sports anchor and ASL teacher at ASU; Melissa Yingst Huber lead anchor and co-CEO; Clayton Ide lead anchor and sports reporter and teacher at Phoenix Day School for the Deaf.
Melissa Yingst Huber, lead anchor and co-CEO of the DHN. She is also a counselor at Phoenix Day School for the Deaf.
“I have watched a lot of (television) news since it’s my major, and I would turn on the captions and they lagged or were inaccurate,” she said. “I just felt like maybe there was something I could do that could bridge the gap.”
In spring 2014, Gallovich approached her sign language instructor Dyan Kovacs after class with an idea for the Deaf and Hearing Network, which combines the use of signing, voices and captions into one show.
“Peyton was my student and shares the same passion as I do with ASL,” said Kovacs, who also serves as a DHN sports anchor. “She came (up) with the idea of DHN, which I thought, ‘Yes —that is what we need in our community.’”
The show’s first run included eight episodes and aired on area public television DeafTV.com and DeafVideo.tv. Production takes place at the Cronkite School in a state-of-the-art television studio. Gallovich works behind the scenes serving as a producer, working on all of the pre- and post-production work.
In March 2014, the 12-person crew was hard at work preparing show’s sixth episode. Gallovich was focused, putting the finishing touches on the pre-production of the show, while the news anchors, who are deaf, rehearsed their lines. After taping,Gallovich spent the next two days editing the video and adding the voice-overs to the show.
The finished product was a 15-minute program that included coverage on the crisis in Ukraine, the missing Malaysia Airlinesplane and the NCAA Final Four.
Gallovich said the program also highlights important news to the deaf community. The staff did an in-depth story on a housing dispute between a Tempe, Arizona, residential community for the deaf and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Melissa Huber, a DHN news anchor, said she is proud of the staff, which consists of Cronkite students and members of the deaf community, including ASL teachers and students.
“It is always amazing to see how well everyone comes together and works together to deliver amazing shows,” said Huber, who works as a counselor at the Phoenix Day School for the Deaf. “The shows, when they are posted and delivered to the community — that is also a favorite part of working at DHN —seeing the fruits of our labor, and how we were all able to create something beautiful.”
According to the National Institutes of Health, more than 36 million adults report some form of hearing loss. Additionally, two to three out of every 1,000 children in the U.S. are born deaf or hard-of-hearing. Gallovich said the Deaf and Hearing Network has opened her up to an entire culture.
“Like most hearing people, I had no contact with the deaf community prior to taking a sign language class,” she said. “Soonce I got there and learned about the culture and the people, Ilearned it’s not a disability. You just have to do things a little differently.”
The Deaf and Hearing Network has received tremendous support from both the deaf and hearing communities. The show has racked up thousands of views on its YouTube page, and it has a strong and following on social media.
“We have been receiving a very positive response from the community,” Kovacs said. “Actually — not only the deaf community but the ASL community — ASL interpreters, ASL students, Children of Deaf Adults (International) and many non-ASL users have expressed their awe at the shows.”
Gallovich said the Deaf and Hearing Network plans to begin taping its second season during the fall 2014 semester at ASU.In the meantime, the crew is working to build the show’s following by reaching out to national deaf organizations.Gallovich said she hopes the program continues to grow and make a difference.
“My whole goal was to make an impact, and that’s actually happening,” she said. “… This is my way to get involved and meet people I might not normally see.”
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.