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Art workshop offers vets with PTSD an outlet for peace and creativity

Navy veteran Scott Beaty hosts an art workshop every Friday night and Saturday morning at Fontbonne University in St. Louis, Missouri. Many of the veterans who attend experience symptoms of PTSD and appreciate the opportunity to express their feelings in a creative medium. The class is sponsored by Vision for Vets and the coordinators are hoping to expand to more locations. “Everybody here has some kind of disability, but we don’t give a damn,” Beaty said. “It doesn’t matter. We’re family. We’re all in this together. We help each other with our issues.”

Check out this article in the local Illinois paper Belleville News-Democrat to learn more.

 

 

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.

Ford Foundation sharpens focus on sponsoring disability rights

A new essay by the Ford Foundation’s Program Officer, Noorain F. Khan, outlines their expanding  philanthropic initiatives to support disability rights. Below is an excerpt from the essay. Click on the heading to read the full essay and learn more about all the excellent disability-related organizations they’re sponsoring, including the NCDJ.

Why disability rights are central to social justice work—and what we’re doing about it

Last fall, Darren Walker wrote an essay urging all of us to acknowledge our personal biases, and to understand how those biases can fuel injustice and inequality. Darren’s call grew out of his own awakening: the realization, brought to light by friends and activists, that for all the foundation’s attention to challenging inequality, we hadn’t accounted for the huge community of people living with disabilities. It was a humbling moment, he wrote.

As the past year has shown, it has also proven to be a consequential one. It quickly became clear that our focus on inequality demands that we think seriously about disability issues. It became equally clear that across all our programs, the specific outcomes and goals we’re working to achieve simply cannot be accomplished without addressing the needs, concerns, and priorities of people with disabilities. And so, guided by the disability movement’s mantra, “nothing about us without us,” we’ve been working to confront ableism and expand participation and inclusion on both the institutional and individual levels. It turned out we had a lot to learn.

As the program officer in the office of the president, I steward some of the foundation’s exploratory grant making under Darren’s direction, assessing and investing in new ideas that don’t yet have a home elsewhere in the foundation. Among those efforts, I lead our exploration of how inequality impacts the more than one billion people with disabilities around the world. Over the past year, I’ve met with more than 80 activists, leaders, self-advocates, and funders who focus on people with disabilities. It has been a profound privilege to spend time with and learn from them, and the result has been what I believe is some of the most urgent and meaningful work of my professional life. (Click here to continue reading…)

Upcoming Hollywood films about disability attract criticism for lack of authenticity

Several recent films produced by Hollywood studios and starring celebrity actors are frustrating disability advocates for their lack of diversity and authenticity. Examples include Todd Haynes’s film Wonderstruck starring Julianne Moore as a deaf woman, David Gordon Green’s Stronger starring Jake Gyllenhaal as a double-amputee, and Andy Serkis’s Breathe starring Andrew Garfield as a polio patient who becomes a quadriplegic. A recent article in USA Today explains why disability advocates are raising awareness about the lack of casting diversity and how filmmakers are responding.

Article excerpt: So what can Hollywood do to give more visibility? Lauren Appelbaum, communications director for RespectAbility, a non-profit organization working to fight stigmas and create opportunities for people with disabilities, urges studios to look to TV, where actors such as Stranger Things‘ Gaten Matarazzo (who has cleidocranial dysplasia, a rare growth disorder) and NCIS: New Orleans‘ Daryl Mitchell (who is paralyzed from the chest down) play roles that don’t hinge on them being disabled.

“Actors with disabilities could easily play roles that neither hide nor emphasize their disability,” Appelbaum says. “For example: a doctor who uses a wheelchair or a scientist with cerebral palsy. By including characters with obvious and hidden disabilities in scripts and story lines, films can create more authenticity within entertainment.”

 

AZ Commissioner for Deaf and Hard of Hearing gives advice to employers

Today, October 31st, is the last day of National Disability Employment Awareness Month. The goal of NDEAM is to promote resources for employees with disabilities and their employers. Ted Simmons of Arizona PBS recently interviewed Pv Jantz about resources offered by the Arizona Commission of the Deaf and the Hard of Hearing. Jantz, who is deaf, says employers shouldn’t assume what type of accommodation a new co-worker needs. The best approach is to ask the employee what they prefer as an individual. Workers with disabilities tend to be experts on which accommodations best fit their individual needs. Jantz also recommends the website www.AskJAN.org (the Job Accommodation Network) as a resource for employers and employees with disabilities.

Great advice article for science journalists covering disability

Science journalist Rachel Zamzow compiled a helpful list of problems in media coverage of disability-related issues, and how to avoid them. For the article Zamzow interviewed and quotes several disability writing experts including Beth Haller, Steve Silberman, s.e. smith, Julia Bascom, Alice Wong and the NCDJ’s Kristin Gilger. Click here to read the full report.

“Science journalists should also be careful not to veer too far into the narrative of fixing or curing people with disabilities, says Beth Haller, a professor of journalism and new media at Towson University in Maryland. Seek out stories about easing symptoms that come along with a disability instead of only reporting on efforts to decode its cause. “Those kinds of stories are not about a cure, but they’re about improving people’s lives through medicine and science, and it’s not about changing who they are,” she says. For example, a story about a possible treatment for tremors is probably more directly beneficial to people with Parkinson’s disease than one about a series of candidate gene studies, though both have their scientific merits.”

10yro with cerebral palsy arrested by Border Patrol after surgery

Immigration and disability rights advocates are criticizing U.S. Border Patrol surveillance of a 10-year-old undocumented immigrant in Texas after she was identified at a checkpoint en route to the hospital for emergency gallbladder surgery. According to an article in The New York Times, the girl, Rosa Maria Hernandez, has cerebral palsy and was brought to the U.S. by her parents as a newborn in hopes of getting better medical treatment. Hernandez is currently being held indefinitely at a federal facility for undocumented minors in San Antonio.

 

Mom of daughter with Down Syndrome and heart defect fights transplant discrimination

Jackie Ward is the mother of a three-year-old daughter with Down Syndrome and a heart defect. She recently became an advocate for disability rights after experiencing discrimination from doctors while applying for a heart transplant for her daughter. Ward is now teaming up with Ohio state legislators to pass laws that will give applicants with disabilities more leverage. Check out this article and video interview with Jackie Ward from the Columbus Dispatch.

“A 2008 survey by researchers at Stanford University found that 85 percent of pediatric transplant centers consider neuro-developmental status in the eligibility process at least some of the time, Hansen said. And in the same study, 62 percent of the centers said eligibility decisions based on disability tended to be made informally, making discrimination difficult to show.”