public policy

The U.S. Census Bureau releases updated disability data

Anniversary of Americans With Disabilities Act: July 26, 2018
On July 26, 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed into law the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in employment, transportation, public accommodations, commercial facilities, telecommunications, and state and local government services.
This Facts for Features provides a demographic snapshot of the U.S. population with a disability and examines various services available to them. U.S. Census Report

April 25 NCDJ workshop trains Arizona PIOs about basics of #DisabilityComm

On Wednesday, April 25 the National Center for Disability and Journalism partnered with Ability 360 and the Arizona Developmental Disabilities Planning Council to host a workshop titled “Improving Disability Communication” for local public information officers.

The goal of the workshop was to introduce public service employees to disability communication topics, styles and perspectives.

Activities included tutorials about disability language style and tips on making digital media accessible. Participants heard insightful testimonies from people with a variety of disabilities as well as local reporters who shape mass media stories.

Agency representatives at the workshop came from Department of Economic Security, Department of Transportation, State Parks and Trails, Department of Health Services and many others. A similar workshop is planned for September 21 at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in downtown Phoenix and host local journalists and public relations executives.

NCDJ Director Kristin Gilger introduces participants and event coordinators at the start of the April 25, 2018 "Improving Disability Communication" workshop at Ability 360. About 30 workshop attendees sit around a horseshoe-shaped table facing three large projection screens.
NCDJ Director Kristin Gilger introduces participants and event coordinators at the start of the April 25, 2018 “Improving Disability Communication” workshop at Ability 360.
30 participants in the "Improving Disability Communication" workshop sit around a large horseshoe table listening to NCDJ Director Kristin Gilger, a petite blonde executive, explain the upcoming activities.
Attendees of the “Improving Disability Communication” workshop on April 25, 2018.
Tessa Ringo, a brunette woman in a blue dress, and her adolescent son Aiden, who has brunette hair and glasses and uses a wheelchair, describe their experiences discussing disabilities with acquaintances and reporters. They sit amongst a row of panelists and Tessa holds a portable microphone near her mouth.
Tessa Ringo and her son Aiden, who uses a wheelchair, describe their experiences discussing disabilities with acquaintances and reporters.
NCDJ Director Kristin Gilger stands in front of 3 project screens leading a tutorial about disability language styles.
NCDJ Director Kristin Gilger leads a workshop tutorial about disability language styles. A complete list of preferred language is available on the NCDJ’s website.
Loren Worthington (left) and Jennifer Longdon lead a tutorial on digital media accessibility and appropriate visual elements for disability stories.
Loren Worthington (left) and Jennifer Longdon lead a tutorial on digital media accessibility and appropriate visual elements for disability stories.
Local reporters sit together behind a large table speaking towards the workshop participants. Panelists include including Maria Polletta, Amy Silverman, Kathy Ritchie and Morgan Loew.
Local reporters (left to right) Maria Polletta, Amy Silverman, Kathy Ritchie and Morgan Loew share their experiences covering disability stories. Taken April 25, 2018 at the “Improving Disability Communication” workshop hosted by NCDJ, Ability 360 and Arizona Developmental Disabilities Planning Council.

Dorm residents at Columbia clash with officials over assistance animals

Students at Columbia are seeking help from disability rights lawyers to convince university housing officials that multiple assistance animals are a medically required disability accommodation. Olivia Deloian of the Columbia Chronicle interviewed business major Lindsey Barrett who says her therapist prescribed dog companionship to treat symptoms of adjustment disorder. The problem is, Barrett already has an emotional support cat for her severe anxiety disorder, which means she needs new approval from Columbia to house the second animal. Deloian carefully describes her journalism process in contacting Columbia officials to request their side of the disagreement. With Barrett’s help, Deloian also provides a useful explanation of the distinction between emotional support animals and other service animals.

U.N. report highlights disability issues in Africa are neglected as economies develop

The U.N.’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) published a report analyzing disability issues in Kenya, Zambia, Uganda and Sierra Leone. The report is titled “Bridging the Gap: Examining disability and development in four African countries.” The report was published on www.ReliefWeb.int, UNOCHA’s online news source for humanitarian experts. The report examines how disability accommodations are frequently neglected as other community services develop.

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.

Labeling mass shooters as “sickos” perpetuates mental health stigmas

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) released a statement condemning the imprecise language recently used by public figures to discuss the connection between mental health and mass shootings. President Trump and Dana Loesch, a spokesperson for the National Rifle Association, used words including “sicko,” “nuts” and “crazy person” to describe the diagnoses of mass shooter Nikolas Cruz. The NAMI statement criticizes such comments as reinforcing “inaccurate and negative stereotypes” that “create barriers to having real conversations about how to improve the mental health services that lead to recovery and participation in American society by people experiencing mental health conditions.” CNN.com interviewed several mental health experts who also suggested that mental illness is not a reliable condition for predicting violent behavior. Click here to read NAMI’s statement and click here to read CNN’s article.

Update to NCDJ award-winning story “Suffering in Secret” reports continued problems

The Chicago Tribune published a followup investigative report to its award-winning story “Suffering in Secret” and unfortunately the promised reforms of Illinois group homes have not materialized. Michael J. Berens, the reporter who co-wrote “Suffering in Secret” with Patricia Callahan, penned the update and highlights several specific problems the group homes failed to correct. The story also features a compelling video interview with Peggy Strong, the mother of a daughter with disabilities whose health improved after being moved from a group home to a large institutional facility. Click here to read the article and click here to watch the video interview.

Protesters arrested during congressional hearing on ADA reform (H.R. 620)

Disability rights activists were arrested by Capitol Hill police on Tuesday during a House Rules Committee hearing on H.R. 620. The protesters oppose policy reforms that would change ADA regulations regarding complaint waiting periods. Click here to read Cristina Marcos’s full report on TheHill.com.

Massachusetts urges hospitals to better prepare for dementia patients

Hospitals frighten many patients but they can be especially confusing and traumatic for people with dementia. According to a story for the Boston Globe by Felice J. Freyer, hospitals in Massachusetts are making an effort to better accommodate patients with memory loss. Freyer reports that the loud, high-tech hospital environment is disorienting to patients with “fragile minds,” and staff frequently rely on sedatives to calm confused patients. Freyer interviewed family caregivers, Alzheimer’s advocacy groups and hospital executives to learn more about the problem and how hospitals are making improvements.