The Disability Angle

A collection of story ideas for journalists reporting on disability issues

Susan LoTempio

Susan LoTempio is an author and lecturer on disability issues in the media. She was an editor at The Buffalo News, and wrote a popular “Diversity at Work” column for the Poynter Institute on media representations of disability. LoTempio is a NCDJ advisory board member. Read her full bio here.

 

 

 

Labor Day angle: How do people with disabilities fit into the job market?

Labor Day is fast approaching, and reporters will be seeking fresh approaches for stories about the world of work. Here’s a story that is largely overlooked: The unemployment rate for people with disabilities is the highest of all minority groups. It’s particularly bad for women, whose unemployment rate is more than twice the rate of non-disabled women. More than 30 percent of people with disabilities end up working part-time, compared with 17 percent of the non-disabled population. What are the numbers in your community, and what do people with disabilities say are the barriers they face?

Sources:

Forbes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/sarahkim/2019/02/20/women-with-disabilities-unemployment/#36d1ffa458a1

Bureau of Labor Statistics: https://www.bls.gov/news.release/disabl.nr0.htm

Fortune: https://fortune.com/2017/02/28/disability-employment-rank/

by Susan LoTempio​, board member, National Center on Disability and Journalism; ​retired newspaper journalist
Contact @susanlotempio

 

Election season story: Do local candidates have accessible websites?

In late June, Time Magazine reported that most Democrats running for the White House had websites that were not fully accessible by voters who are blind or sight impaired. For many, the sites are impossible to navigate, limiting these voters’ ability to get information on candidates.  Checking the websites of local candidates could be equally revealing. Local or regional disability organizations may be willing to do an assessment and connect you with people who live with blindness. Does access to this kind of information influence their voting decisions? Does lack of access discourage them from voting at all? In the 2018 midterm elections, 2.1 million persons with visual impairments voted, while 2.2 million did not, according to Rutgers University.

Sources: Time Magazine: https://time.com/5613806/2020-presidential-candidates-ada-website-accessibility/

Rutgers University: https://smlr.rutgers.edu/sites/default/files/2018disabilityturnout.pdf

by Susan LoTempio​, board member, National Center on Disability and Journalism; ​retired newspaper journalist
Contact @susanlotempio

 

Back-to-school story: PE classes for students with disabilities

 

Integrating students with special needs into the academic classroom has been well covered over the years, so now is a good time to look inside gym classes. Under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, physical education must be equally available to children with and without disabilities. Sometimes students living with disabilities go into specially adapted PE classes, while other students use adaptive equipment in standard PE classes. The quality of the classes varies widely. T Access and quality of PE classes are important in part because children with disabilities average 4.5 times less physical activity than peers who do not live with disabilities, and a lack of physical activity can lead to obesity and other health problems, according to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition.

Sources:Wrightslaw special education newsletter: https://www.wrightslaw.com/info/pe.index.htm

U.S. Department of Education: https://sites.ed.gov/idea/regs/b/b/300.108

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: https://health.gov/news/blog/2012/02/adapted-physical-education/

Education Writers Association: https://www.ewa.org/reporter-guide/standards-ethics-education-reporters

by Susan LoTempio​, board member, National Center on Disability and Journalism; ​retired newspaper journalist
Contact @susanlotempio