NBC Investigations / NBC Rock Center

More Disabled Workers Paid Just Pennies an Hour

Some employees at Goodwill stores around the country are being paid well below minimum wage — as little as 22 cents per hour, according to a report this summer from NBC. Those most likely to earn such small amounts are those with disabilities.

As host Brian Williams and correspondent Harry Smith explain in this video for NBC Rock Center, there are legal loopholes that allow for such practices. Smith talks with employees and company representatives to help better understand the issue.

Wimp.com: Helen Keller

Video: Helen Keller Speaking in 1930

In this video, Anne Sullivan, Helen Keller’s teacher and companion explains how over time, Keller expanded her communication skills to include being able to speak. For decades, Keller was able to interact with others using tactile sign language and other methods. But as the video makes clear, by developing innovative yet simple methods, Keller learned various sounds and words through feeling the vibrations in Sullivan’s face and vocal chords.

At the time when this video was produced, Keller was already involved with the American Foundation and years earlier, she had attended Radcliffe College as well as the Perkins School for the Blind.

The New York Times

“War and Sports Shape Better Artificial Limbs”

Tremendous advances have been made in the medical field within the past decade, thus making it easier for those who lose limbs either in war or for another reason to regain their physical abilities. James Dao talks with veterans who have lost limbs in various wars, as well as experts and others who emphasized the importance of adaptive sports and other support systems to help those with injuries.

The Sacramento Bee

“Nevada buses hundreds of mentally ill patients to cities around country”

According to this article, Rawson-Neal, a psychiatric hospital in Las Vegas, discharged over 400 patients in 2012 alone to other cities and states around the country. The author states that patients were sent to at least 45 other states via Greyhound buses, often to cities in California and Arizona. One person in the article calls the practice “patient dumping” and many view it as risky to send those with mental illness to other cities, particularly where they might not have family or other supports in place.

Other hospitals have discharged those with mental illness in the recent past, but according to officials quoted in the article, hospital staff travel with the patients.

Where We Live (WNPR)

Redefining Disability: Our Changing Perceptions of People with Disabilities

Photo credit: taberandrew, Creative Commons
Photo credit: taberandrew, Creative Commons

This hour of “Where We Live,” heard on WNPR, a public radio station based in Connecticut, discusses the ways in which societal perceptions of people with disabilities are changing and the things that still need improvement. The two guests are Beth Haller and Suzanne Robitaille, who are both NCDJ Board members.

Haller says that journalists often miss opportunities to report on important issues happening in the community of people with disabilities, such as disability rights laws, the lack of accessible housing in various cities or discrimination against people with particular disabilities, for example.

Robitaille also joins the conversation and discusses her views on the state of disability in the news media and how journalism on these topics can be covered more deeply and with greater precision. She explains the complex nature of defining disability on both societal and individual levels, along with the troubles she saw with NPR’s recent reports, “Unfit for Work.”

The Concord Monitor

“I’m one of the 26 percent with mental illness”

In this recent article from the Concord Monitor in New Hampshire, reporter Annmarie Timmins provides a deeply personal, detailed perspective on her experience as a person with mental illness. After struggling with whether or not to include her story in the newspaper’s series on mental illness, called “In Crisis,” Timmins has received a great deal of positive feedback. Timmins describes her childhood and the beginnings of her depression, along with the difficulties of psychiatric care (finding and keeping mental health counselors in the state for an extended period of time) and the invaluable support she received from her husband.

The first-person account is part of a larger series at the newspaper called “In Crisis,” which explains the need for a reform of New Hampshire’s mental healthcare system through stories of various people in the state. The home page for this series can be found here.

NPR — All Things Considered

“Expanded Definition Of Disability Created Million Dollar Opportunity For Lawyers”

NPR’s series on disability continues with this story from March 26 heard on All Things Considered. Chana Joffe-Walt explores the seemingly ever-changing and widening definition of disability to include things like depression that, in her words, “can be severe, but things that are often very hard to test for”. Much of the focus in this story centers on the work of disability lawyers and how they have helped create what Jaffe-Walt calls the “disability-industrial complex.”


“Unfit for Work: the startling rise of disability in America”

On Friday, March 22, NPR and Planet Money started a one-week series of stories on the growing number of people with disablities and therefore are unable to work. You can find a link to the main story above along with the first installment of a radio piece by Chana Joffe-Walt as heard on All Things Considered here.

Joffe-Walt helps explain the potential reasons why an increasing number people are considered by the government to be too disabled to work, both through statistics and various charts, as well as through the stories of people she met throughout the country while reporting.

A primary question in the first radio story was: why, with the labor market becoming increasingly technology-based – and thus, less physically demanding overall – are there still so many people being added to “the 14 million Americans who are invisible to the economy?”

The Associated Press

“Entry on mental illness is added to AP Stylebook”

The Associated Press recently announced that it is adding an entry to its stylebook to help journalists cover the topic of mental illness in a fair and appropriate manner. Some of their recommendations include being specific when including information about a diagnosis by using the name of the disorder and proper sourcing.

Another aspect of the new entry has ties to the Newtown school shooting in December, 2012. AP cautions not to “assume that mental illness is a factor in a violent crime,” and advises reporters to use more neutral language when describing a condition, such as “has obsessive-compulsive disorder” rather than “suffers from” or similar terms.

The complete AP entry, which will be included in the upcoming Spring edition, can be found at the link above. The National Association of Broadcasters also released a statement on the new addition, which is linked to here.

The New York Times

“The Crime of his Childhood”

As Wendell Jamieson recounts in this March 2 story, Joshua A. Miele was injured outside of his Brooklyn home at the age of four, after a neighbor doused him with sulfuric acid. Attempts were made, both immediately following the incident and for years afterward, to reconstruct Miele’s face and other parts of his body that were burned. Efforts were also undertaken to restore his sight, but those were unsuccessful.

Jamieson explains what happened between the Mieles and their next door neighbors in October 1975 as well as the legal and personal tolls that the incident took on everyone involved. The author also discusses outcomes of his injury that have led to more positive things and how Miele helps people with visual impairments in the Bay Area.