Applicants for disability benefits facing multi-year delays

The Social Security Administration faces a growing backlog of applications for disability benefits. Budget cuts have left the agency understaffed and slow to hold hearings with administrative judges responsible for reviewing cases.

Graphic shows number of people awaiting disability hearings and average wait times.
Graphic shows number of people awaiting disability hearings and average wait times.

“The average wait for a hearing is 602 days. Five years ago, it was less than a year,” writes reporter Stephen Ohlemacher for the Associated Press/Denver Post. Click here to read his full article.

Social Security disability backlog tops 1 million; thousands die on waitlist


Power outages in Florida led to 8 deaths at same nursing home

Officials in Hollywood, Florida have opened multiple criminal investigations into the deaths of 8 nursing home residents who died Wednesday morning from heat exhaustion during an ongoing power outage caused by Hurricane Irma. The New York Times is reporting that “More than three million customers in Florida still lacked power Wednesday, including roughly 160 nursing homes, according to the state’s tracking system.” Hollywood local paper The Sun-Sentinel is reporting 115 other senior residents at the home were evacuated from the overheated facility, but their relatives remain confused about their health status.

Artist with schizophrenia and his father write article together

Former British journalist, Patrick Cockburn, and his son Henry Cockburn, co-wrote an op-ed for The Independent candidly describing Henry’s experience with schizophrenia. The article is the first in a 3-part series focusing on how Henry’s mental illness has shaped his career as a professional painter. Click here to read about this father-son story in The Independent.

Henry Cockburn painting

Chance the Rapper interprets his “Blessings” song into ASL

The hip-hop community wants to make their products accessible to the Deaf community. Superstar singer and songwriter Chance the Rapper partnered with DEAFinitely Dope’s Matt Maxey and Kelly Kurdi to interpret the first verse of Chance’s song “Blessings” into American Sign Language. Learn more about their partnership by reading this Billboard Magazine article, and by watching the full video here on Pigeon and Planes YouTube channel.

‘Way of the Fist’ video game designer prioritized accessibility

Video game designers want their products to be enjoyed by as many players as possible, which is why many now prioritize accessibility from the beginning of the creative process. The creators of ‘Way of the Fist’ at Household Games prioritized accessibility from the beginning and agree it improved the game’s overall design. Read more in this article by Joel Couture on www.Gamasutra.com.

Federal judge orders Illinios finance program for people with disabilities

Due to budget shortfalls the state of Illinois is struggling to fund a program that promotes independence for people with disabilities. Now a federal judge has ordered the state to find a solution. Read more in the article by Lisa Schencker for Chicago Tribune.

Excerpt: “She (Judge Coleman) found the state to be in violation of a 2011 consent decree that required it to help such individuals live as independently as possible. Coleman found that wages for workers who help people in the program have stagnated, “causing a staffing crisis that is inhibiting care and negatively impacting the individuals protected by the Consent decree.””

After coma, blind student invents new way to teach math

An blind undergraduate psychology major at Auburn University at Montgomery (AUM) teamed up with a STEM tutor and a fellow undergraduate studying ecology to create a new method for teaching advanced math to students with disabilities. Read more in this article by Kai Sinclair for Science Magazine. “In 2015 they formed the Logan Project and started tailoring their teaching method—called process-driven math (PDM)—for students with other impairments, including dyslexia and dysgraphia, a learning disorder associated with impaired handwriting.”