More than 1 in 4 people living in the United States has a mental or physical disability, according to a 2018 report from the Census Bureau, which collected the data in 2014.
As journalist and NCDJ disability language style guide author Amy Silverman writes, “Disability journalism is a hot beat right now. But just because you’re covering disability doesn’t mean you’re doing it right.”
In a column for Phi Delta Kappan, a professional journal for teachers, Silverman discusses the challenges of reporting in schools and the ways in which journalists still far short when it comes to telling relevant and nuanced stories about people with disabilities. Read more of Amy Silverman’s column online.
Learn about the concept of “inspiration porn” in this video of journalist and comedian Stella Young’s talk at TEDxSydney:
The National Center on Disability and Journalism at Arizona State University has released its popular disability language style guide in Spanish.
The NCDJ, which is headquartered at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, provides guidance and support for journalists and communications professionals as they write about and report on disability issues and people with disabilities.
The style guide was recently updated to contain nearly 200 words and terms commonly used when referring to people with disabilities.
“The guide is used around the world but until now has been available primarily in English,” said NCDJ Executive Director Kristin Gilger, the senior associate dean at the Cronkite School. “The new Spanish-language version will make it possible for us to reach far more people with advice on disability-related language choices.”
She said the guide is not prescriptive. Instead, recommendations are intended to help communications professionals avoid offensive language while also being clear and accurate.
The Spanish translation of the guide was made possible by a grant from the Ford Foundation, which provides support for NCDJ programs and services.
In addition to the style guide, the center administers an annual contest recognizing the best reporting on disability in the country and provides training and resources for journalists, public relations professionals, educators and others concerned about how people with disability are portrayed.
Both the English and Spanish versions of the disability language style guide are available in downloadable format at https://ncdj.org/style-guide/.
Beginning in January 2019, airline passengers can search the U.S. Department of Transportation website to determine an airlines’ track record of handling wheelchairs and other mobility devices. A new law sponsored by U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., requires air carriers to be more transparent, obliging them to provide monthly reports that are publicly accessible and which detail the number of wheelchairs, checked bags, and motorized scooters lost, broke, or mishandled during flights.
The law was actually passed two years ago, but the Department of Transportation delayed its implementation until Duckworth–a veteran and wheelchair user herself–urged U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao to force airlines to make the data — which they already collect each month — available to the public.
The Ruderman Awards are the only journalism contest devoted exclusively to recognizing excellence in the coverage of people with disabilities and disability issues.
A major investigation by NPR into the hidden epidemic of sexual violence against people with intellectual disabilities won the top honor. In addition to NPR, journalists from eight organizations won awards, including The Dallas Morning News, ProPublica Illinois, WNYC, Kaiser Health News, KING-TV, Better Government Association/WBEZ and New Mobility.
The Katherine Schneider Medal is an honor recognizing disability journalism by small media outlets. The contest continues the work of Katherine Schneider, a retired clinical psychologist, who launched the first NCDJ awards program.
2018 Winners: Ruderman Awards for Excellence in Reporting on Disability
1st place – National Public Radio
“Abuse and Betrayal”
Joseph Shapiro, Robert Little, Meg Anderson
Meg Anderson is a producer on the NPR investigations team, where she has contributed to award-winning work on maternal care, housing and immigration issues. Before earning her graduate degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, she became intimately familiar with the power of language and storytelling as a bilingual third grade teacher in Minneapolis.
Robert Little leads NPR's investigations team. He works with reporters, producers, and editors to develop investigative stories for all of NPR's broadcast and digital platforms, and also oversees partnerships with other non-profit news organizations doing high-level investigative work. Before joining NPR, Little spent 15 years as a reporter and editor at The Baltimore Sun. He's won numerous local and national journalism awards, including the George Polk Award for his investigative reporting in Iraq.
2nd place – Dallas Morning News
“Pain and Profit”
J. David McSwane, Andrew Chavez
3rd place – ProPublica Illinois
Duaa Eldeib, Sandhya Kambhampati, Vignesh Ramachandran, David Eads
Honorable Mention – WNYC
Audrey Quinn, Host; Aneri Pattani, Producer; Phoebe Wang, Producer
2018 Winners: Katherine Schneider Medal
1st place – Kaiser Health News
“Nowhere to Go”
2nd place – KING Television
“Back of the Class”
Susannah Frame, Taylor Mirfendereski, Ryan Coe
3rd place – WBEZ Chicago Public Media, Better Government Association
Alejandra Cancino, Odette Yousef
Odette Yousef is a WBEZ reporter covering immigration, race and class. In 2016, Odette was part of a team at WBEZ to win a National Edward R. Murrow Award for best Continuing Coverage of how local officials in Puerto Rico were sending drug addicts to unlicensed therapy groups in Chicago, with false promises of professional treatment. She has contributed to NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered, PRI’s The World and WNYC’s The Takeaway.
Honorable Mention – New Mobility Magazine
“Flying the Unfriendly Skies”
A New York Post cover story advances the harmful notion that if someone can walk, they must not have a disability writes Peter Catapano in his op-ed piece “A Front-Page Insult to People With Disabilities”.
Mr. Catapano is the editor of the opinion series Disability at the New York Times.
Starbucks’ announcement that it will eliminate plastic straws from its stores worldwide by 2020 concerns some in the disabled community. The company says it hopes the ban will to reduce environmental pollution. However, numerous disability advocates spoke out saying the ban could be discriminating.
Why People With Disabilities Want Bans On Plastic Straws To Be More Flexible
Tonight’s episode of CNN’s “United Shades of America” will feature host W. Kamau Bell interviewing people with different disabilities. Tune in to CNN at 10pm EST to catch the episode.
May is Mental Health Month and numerous organizations and celebrities are speaking up to raise awareness about the often taboo topic.
In a report for Cronkite News journalist Luke Wright focuses on famous athletes who describe their experiences with depression, panic attacks and suicide. The report features athletes from sports including basketball, football and track. The statistics mentioned in the story may shock from readers, for example Wright reports that, “Nearly 24 percent of 465 athletes at NCAA Division I private universities reported a “clinically relevant” level of depression, according to a 2016 study by researchers at Drexel and Kean universities. Female athletes had a higher prevalence rate: 28 percent vs. 18 percent.”
The science magazine “Nature” also features a collection of articles this month focused on mental health awareness in the science research industry. One article by Emily Sohn reports that graduate students are especially vulnerable to mental illness and includes tips from mental health experts on how to avoid it. In an opinion essay for “Nature” scientist Dave Reay describes his symptoms of depression as a “black dog,” similar to the one Winston Churchill made famous, that haunted his pursuit of a Ph.D.
In a story for NBC’s “Today Show” reporter Cynthia McFadden interviewed three teenagers with mental health disorders reacting positively to the social media campaign #MyYoungerSelf. The campaign features candid testimonies from sports and entertainment celebrities describing their experiences living with depression and anxiety.