disability awareness

4 key tips for reporting on and writing about people with disabilities

 

Image shows a hand holding onto the rim of a wheelchair.
(Photo: Pixabay ) “4 key tips for reporting on and writing about people with disabilities,” written by Chloe Reichel, published by Journalist’s Resource on June 26. Image: hand holding onto the rim of a wheelchair.

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.

Media reports, however, hardly reflect the fact that 27.2% — or 85.3 million people — nationwide are living with disabilities. Stories about people with disabilities often fall into two broad categories, says Kristin Gilger, who is director of the National Center on Disability and Journalism (NCDJ) and the associate dean of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

The first category is what Gilger calls “inspiration porn” — stories about people with disabilities throwing the winning pass for the high school football team or being named prom queen, for example. “It’s well-intentioned, but those stories also can be very exploitative and they are very limited in really getting to the heart of how people live and what they think and how they’re affected by what’s going on in our civic life,” she says.

The second category consists of crime stories, which sometimes mention mental illness — a narrow slice of the kind of coverage the subject deserves. “We still have some work to do in the range and sophistication of [mental illness] coverage,” Gilger says.

Gilger says the lack of disability coverage might stem from a lack of representation in newsrooms. “We haven’t done a very good job of hiring people particularly with physical disabilities, who might need some kind of accommodation in the workplace — people who use wheelchairs, for example, or have hearing or vision limitations or any number of other things,” Gilger notes. “If you don’t have those people in your newsroom, you’re not likely to do a very good job of understanding and pursuing stories that are relevant to those populations … If you’re not comfortable with the coverage area, you just don’t know enough about it, it’s not likely that you’re going to pursue it.”

Amy Silverman, a journalist and NCDJ board member who, in 2018, updated the center’s Disability Language Style Guide, echoes Gilger’s sentiment. “I think that disability is really intimidating to people,” she says.  “First of all, because they don’t want to say the wrong thing. And second, because it’s something uncomfortable to think about.”

To help journalists improve their coverage of people with disabilities, we’re sharing four key tips from Gilger and Silverman.

Read the article by  here.

 

How to write better stories on students with disabilities

Image: indianadisabilityawareness.org A poster for the "I'm Not Your Inspiration" awareness campaign by the Indiana Governor’s Council for People with Disabilities. A portrait-style photo of a boy is juxtaposed against an orange backsplash with text that reads: I'm Not Your Inspiration (I'm Your Classmate).
Image: indianadisabilityawareness.org

Posters for the “I’m Not Your Inspiration” awareness campaign by the Indiana Governor’s Council for People with Disabilities. In one, a portrait-style photo of a boy is juxtaposed against an orange backsplash with text that reads: I’m Not Your Inspiration (I’m Your Classmate).

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:

NCDJ Releases Disability Language Style Guide in Spanish

NCDJ NCDJ, National Center on Disability and Journalism, Disability Language Style Guide, Spanish
NCDJ Releases Disability Language Style Guide in Spanish

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/.

Ford Foundation produces video on disability inclusion

The Heumann Perspective with Judith Heumann
VIDEO: The Heumann Perspective with Judith Heumann

The Ford Foundation has produced a short video that shows why disability rights are central to social justice work. You can read more about the Ford Foundation’s policy about including disabled people in their work here. To watch the video on the Foundation’s Facebook page, click here.

New law requires airlines to disclose how many wheelchairs they break

wheelchair at airport

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.

Click here to access the article on the Chicago Tribune’s website.

Congratulations to Winners of the 2018 Ruderman Awards for Excellence in Reporting on Disability and the Katherine Schneider Medal!

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

Joseph Shapiro is an NPR News Investigations correspondent who has covered disability stories since 1987. His recent investigations have exposed the overuse of seclusion and restraint for students with disabilities and the failure of government to enforce the rights of people with disabilities to receive long-term care at home.

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

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

J. David McSwane is an investigative reporter for The Dallas Morning News, where he's focused on a variety of issues including the state's broken child welfare and healthcare systems. He is a recipient of the Peabody Award and Texas APME's top honor for investigative work, among others.
Andrew Chavez is a senior computational journalist on the data and interactives team at The Dallas Morning News. Before that, he worked at the Austin American-Statesman and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. He graduated from Texas Christian University in 2008.

3rd place – ProPublica Illinois
“Stuck Kids”
Duaa Eldeib, Sandhya Kambhampati, Vignesh Ramachandran, David Eads

Duaa Eldeib is a reporter for ProPublica Illinois. Her work has examined the death of children in state care, the treatment of juveniles in adult court and police use of polygraphs in cases where suspects were wrongly convicted. Before joining ProPublica, she was a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. There, Eldeib and two colleagues were finalists for the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting in 2015.
Sandhya Kambhampati is a data reporter at ProPublica Illinois, focused on analyzing statistics, databases and public records to uncover structural issues and abuses. Most recently, she co-reported on the widespread inaccuracies in Cook County's property tax assessment system, which was a Pulitzer Prize Finalist for Local Reporting in 2018.
Vignesh Ramachandran is a producer at ProPublica Illinois, focused on digital production, design and editorial workflow. He is also interested in exploring issues surrounding race, criminal justice and technology. Before he joined ProPublica, he was a founding member of the Stanford Computational Journalism Lab and managing editor of Bay Area local news startup Peninsula Press (in partnership with SFGate and KQED).
David Eads
David Eads is a news applications developer at ProPublica Illinois, where he combines journalism with software development. While in college David helped found the Invisible Institute, where he also maintained a blog about Chicago public housing called The View From The Ground. He’s also worked on visual journalism teams at the Chicago Tribune and, most recently, at NPR Visuals.

Honorable Mention – WNYC
“Aftereffect”
Audrey Quinn, Host; Aneri Pattani, Producer; Phoebe Wang, Producer

Audrey Quinn is a reporter at New York Public Radio, WNYC and host of the WNYC Studios podcast Aftermath. She also teaches documentary audio reporting at the NYU School of Journalism. Audrey’s investigative work has been awarded by the Newswomen’s Club of New York, the Fund for Investigative Journalism and The Nation Institute’s Investigative Fund and published by the New York Times and the Center for Investigative Reporting.
Aneri Pattani is a health reporter at The Philadelphia Inquirer, where she covers health issues in young people. In the past, she has worked as an assistant producer on the health team at WNYC, a James Reston reporting fellow on the health/science desk at The New York Times, and a reporting companion to columnist Nicholas Kristof in Liberia. She has also written for The Boston Globe, The Texas Tribune, CNBC, and The Hartford Courant.
Phoebe Wang
Phoebe Wang is the assistant producer of Aftereffect, and a multidisciplinary artist based between Brooklyn, NY and Toronto, ON. Phoebe was a member of The Heart audio art project, and was most recently Senior Producer of The Shadows, a CBC fiction podcast. In 2018, she was awarded an NLJGA Excellence in Journalism Award and was named Best New Artist at the Third Coast International Audio Festival.

 


2018 Winners: Katherine Schneider Medal

1st place – Kaiser Health News
“Nowhere to Go”
Christina Jewett

Christina Jewett, Senior Correspondent with the KHN enterprise team, covers end-of-life and acute care. She spent seven years with The Center for Investigative Reporting, where she worked on a series that uncovered widespread graft in Medicaid-funded drug rehab centers. At CIR she and colleagues won a George Polk Award for medical reporting.

 


2nd place – KING Television
“Back of the Class”
Susannah Frame, Taylor Mirfendereski, Ryan Coe

Susannah Frame is the Chief Investigative Reporter at KING 5 Television. Her work has garnered many of the country’s top journalism awards, including the Peabody Award, a National Edward R. Murrow Award and the du-Pont Columbia Award. Her pursuit of the truth has resulted in many changes in public policy.
Taylor Mirfendereski is a special projects reporter at KING 5 in Seattle, specializing in digital storytelling and long-term investigations. Her reporting has exposed many wrongs, including the mistreatment of wounded soldiers and the violation of state and federal special education laws. Her work has garnered a number of awards, including a National Mark of Excellence Award, an Edward R. Murrow Award and various regional awards from the Society of Professional Journalists.

 


3rd place – WBEZ Chicago Public Media, Better Government Association
“Trapped”
Alejandra Cancino, Odette Yousef

Alejandra Cancino is an investigative reporter at Better Government Association. She was a 2015-2016 journalism fellow at the The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research based at the University of Chicago. Prior to the Tribune she worked at The Palm Beach Post. Alejandra is the president of the Chicago Headline Club, the largest chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

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”
Kenny Salvini

Kenny Salvini is a writer, advocate and community organizer living in Sumner, Washington. An elite athlete who became paralyzed from the neck down after a snow skiing accident in 2004, he turned to writing to help piece back together his fractured identity. He is active in the paralysis community and in 2013, he launched The Here and Now Project, a social support network for paralysis survivors and their families in the Northwest.

 

Op-ed piece addresses New York Post cover story

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.

Image of New York Post cover story "Walk of Shame."
Image of New York Post cover story “Walk of Shame”, by Jeenah Moon for The New York Times”

Straw ban concerns disability community

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

Tight cluster of brightly colored straws
As cities and companies — including Starbucks — move to oust straws in a bid to reduce pollution, people with disabilities say they’re losing access to a necessary, lifesaving tool.

May articles highlight “Mental Health Month”

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.