education

Easter activities for kids with disabilities

Local CBS station in Dallas/ Fort Worth visited a festive Easter egg hunt designed specifically for kids with disabilities. The video report, posted to YouTube, describes how the eggs make loud beeps so that people with sensory disabilities can find them. The event was organized by local community members and many parents  appreciated how the overall tone of the festivities was tailored to accommodate kids with high anxiety.

Medical schools heighten focus on undergraduate accessibility

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) published a report today outlining common barriers to medical education faced by med school students with disabilities. The research on this topic was prompted by the AAMC‘s desire to promote diversity among its student, faculty and professional membership, and facilitate the standardization of accommodations. The report suggests that, although more medical school students are self-identifying as having disabilities, a culture of competition still promotes stigma around disability. Philadelphia public radio’s (WHYY) Elana Gordon wrote a short article summarizing the AAMC report and the responses it prompted from disability rights advocates.

Medicaid providing subsidies for health services in public schools

Many American public schools rely on Medicaid to subsidize the cost of school psychiatrists and therapeutic services, but some critics suggest the funding is misused and expanding too quickly. Anna Gorman and Carmen Heredia Rodriguez wrote a special report for CNN and Kaiser Health News outlining the numerous ways Medicaid is utilized by schools to provide health services to low-income students, but also to cover general budget shortfalls. As the story reports, pubic policy think tanks, such as the Heritage Foundation, oppose Medicaid expansion and advocate for closer oversight.

George Washington University creates disability discrimination task force following federal investigation

George Washington University is creating a special task force to address complaints of digital inaccessibility. Their concern was prompted by a federal investigation headed by the Department of Education into possible disability discrimination. According to the story by GW’s independent student newspaper, The Hatchet, the university previously tried solving the problem using accessibility software but students with disabilities reported the services were still inadequate. Click here to read the full report and learn more about GW’s efforts to improve digital accessibility.

AZ Board of Regents committee rejects new major of Disability Studies

In a column for the Phoenix New Times NCDJ Advisory Board member Amy Silverman advocates for the creation of a Disability Studies major at Arizona universities. A sub-committee of The Arizona Board of Regents accepted requests for new majors last week and approved all the proposed majors except for Disability Studies. Silverman argues that there is a market demand for expertise related to disability issues. Click here to read Silverman’s full column.

College student diagnoses classmate with POTS, postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome

Last Friday the student newspaper Iowa State Daily featured an excellent profile of two college women who share the same invisible disability – postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS). Laura Wiederholt had been living with the condition for several years and recognized the symptoms described by her friend Taylor Schumacher. With Wiederholt’s encouragement, Schumacher received an official diagnosis and was able to adapt her lifestyle to her new condition. Apparently POTS is more common than people realize but it is underdiagnosed due to symptoms like fatigue and nausea that resemble other illnesses. Check out the article here to learn more about POTS and the students adapting to it.

DeVos & Dept of Education defend purge of “outdated” disability guides

The U.S. Department of Education and Secretary Betsy DeVos were criticized Friday after announcing news they rescinded 72 guidance documents related to education policies for students with disabilities. according to the Washington Post, the document purge was prompted by President Donald Trump’s initiative to reduce unnecessary federal government regulations. After Friday’s announcement raised alarm amongst disability and education advocates the Dept. of Education released a followup list of explanations saying the documents were “outdated, unnecessary or ineffective.” Click here to read the Washington Post’s full report.

Click here to read a full list of the 72 documents rescinded by the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.

Arizona special-ed funding goes to schools with fewest students

A new article by Alia Beard Rau for the Arizona Republic explains how Arizona’s system for funding special education unequally benefits different schools.

“It’s a direct result of how the state funds education for students with special needs: Arizona’s spending on special education benefits schools with the fewest number of students who require it.

About one-third of Arizona students attend schools — most of which are charters — that receive more state money to serve students with special needs than those schools  actually spend for that purpose.”