disability awareness

COVID-19 is creating communication barriers for the deaf community

For many people who are deaf or hard of hearing, lip reading, facial expressions and body language are vital to communication, but protective face masks and remote work and school meant to slow the spread of COVID-19 have made it more difficult.

More than 1.1 million people in Arizona are hard of hearing, and more than 20,000 are deaf, according to the Arizona Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

You can read the full article here.

Living with a disability during a pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed a number of inequalities in our society related to race, gender, class, legal status and age. However, conspicuously missing from much of the media coverage on these issues are the stories of how the crisis is affecting the disabled community.

Read the full article here: https://asunow.asu.edu/20200612-sun-devil-life-living-disability-during-pandemic

Arizonans: Share Your Story About Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

The Arizona Daily Star and ProPublica want to hear about your experiences with intellectual and developmental disabilities services. Join storytelling coaches, journalists and the Detour Company Theatre on July 8 to get involved.

Read the full article here: https://https://www.propublica.org/article/arizonans-share-your-story-about-intellectual-and-developmental-disabilities-at-our-virtual-event

NCDJ Accepting Entries in Annual Disability Reporting Contest

NCDJ 2020 Katherine Schneider Journalism Award for Excellence in Reporting on Disability

May 15, 2020

The National Center on Disability and Journalism is now accepting entries for the 2020 Katherine Schneider Journalism Award for Excellence in Reporting on Disability, the only journalism contest devoted exclusively to disability coverage.

Winners will receive a total of $8,000 in cash awards for first-, second- and third-place finishes in large media and small media categories. First-place winners in each category will be awarded $2,500 and invited to give a public lecture for the Cronkite School in fall 2020. Second-place winners will receive $1,000, third-place winners $500.

Journalists working in digital, print and broadcast media are eligible to enter. Entries are accepted from outside the U.S., although the work submitted must be in English. There is no entry fee.

Entries must have been published or aired between July 1, 2019, and July 31, 2020. The deadline to enter is Aug. 7, 2020. For more information and to enter, go to https://ncdj.org/contest/.

Entries are judged by professional journalists and experts on disability issues. Past judges have included “PBS NewsHour” anchor Judy Woodruff; Tony Coelho, former six-term U.S. congressman from California and the primary sponsor of the Americans With Disabilities Act; former Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post reporter Leon Dash; and Daniel Burke, CNN religion editor.

The top 2019 award in the large media category went to an investigation into a New York City initiative to let those with severe mental illnesses live on their own. The project was a collaboration of ProPublica, The New York Times and PBS Frontline. The first-place winner in the small media category was a collaborative documentary between the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Milwaukee PBS. The program followed the lives of four young people from Wisconsin as they navigated mental health challenges. To read more about the 2019 award-winners, visit https://cronkite.asu.edu/news-and-events/news/propublica-and-pbs-frontline-milwaukee-journal-sentinel-and-milwaukee-pbs-win.

For all the past winners, visit https://ncdj.org/contest/ncdj-contest-archive/.

The Katherine Schneider Journalism Award for Excellence in Reporting on Disability is administered each year by the NCDJ, which is part of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. It is supported by a gift from Katherine Schneider, a retired clinical psychologist who also supports the Schneider Family Book Award, honoring the best children’s book each year that captures the disability experience for children and adolescents. That award is administered by the American Library Association.

Schneider, who has been blind since birth, said she hopes the award will help journalists improve their coverage of disability issues, moving beyond “inspirational” stories that don’t accurately represent the lives of people with disabilities. “That kind of stuff is remarkable, but that’s not life as most of us live it,” she said.

The NCDJ, which has been housed at the Cronkite School since 2008, offers resources and materials for journalists covering disability issues and topics, including a widely used disability language stylebook. For more information, visit the NCDJ’s website at https://ncdj.org.

Willie Levi, 73, Dies; He Escaped a Life of Servitude

 

A man wearing a red baseball cap looks into the camera.
Willie Levi in 2013. Intellectually disabled, he spent years working at a turkey-processing plant for $65 a month but found justice in a successful lawsuit. Photo: Nicole Bengiveno, The New York Times

By Dan Barry, The New York Times

Willie Levi died at the age of 73 on April 23 after contracting the novel coronavirus.

Levi, who lived with an intellectual disability, was part of a successful Equal Employment Opportunity Commission lawsuit that fought for proper pay and working conditions for people with disabilities.

Levi was sent from his hometown of Orange, Texas to Iowa, where he worked alongside other men at a turkey-processing plant for decades. According to The New York Times, the men worked “in virtual servitude” for Henry’s Turkey Service.

Although Levi never made it back to Orange while he was alive, after his passing he was set to be buried in the same historic African-American cemetery that holds the remains of his mother, according to The New York Times.

Read the full article here: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/30/us/willie-levi-73-dies-he-escaped-a-life-of-servitude.html?referringSource=articleShare

State Policies May Send People with Disabilities to the Back of the Line for Ventilators

Vestavia Hills, Alabama, resident Matthew Foster, who has Down syndrome, holds a sign reading: "I am ventilator worthy! I want the right to live"
Vestavia Hills, Alabama, resident Matthew Foster, who has Down syndrome, worries he could be in the back of the line for a ventilator if he contracts severe COVID-19. Half of states have policies with the type of provisions that advocates say discriminate against people with disabilities. (Photo Courtesy of Susan Ellis)

By Liz Essley Whyte, Center for Public Integrity/The Daily Beast

An analysis by the Center for Public Integrity reveals that policies in at least 25 U.S. states have provisions that could de-prioritize health care for people with disabilities if cases of COVID-19 continue to ravage hospitals’ supplies.

Disability advocates have filed formal complaints in several states for their policies on who should get ventilators if hospitals run out. These policies take into account patients’ expected lifespan; need for resources, such as home oxygen; or specific diagnoses, such as dementia. Some policies even permit hospitals to take ventilators away from patients who use them as breathing aids in everyday life, and give the ventilators to other patients.

Twenty-five states have similar provisions in their rationing policies — and many other states either don’t have policies, or aren’t releasing them.

“There is a long history of people with disabilities being devalued by the medical system. That’s why we have civil rights laws,” said disability-rights activist Ari Ne’eman. “We don’t have an exception in our country’s civil rights laws for clinical judgment. We don’t take it on trust.”

Read the full article here: https://publicintegrity.org/health/coronavirus-and-inequality/state-policies-may-send-people-with-disabilities-to-the-back-of-the-line-for-ventilators/

Bill Banning Organ Transplant Discrimination Passes Senate

A medical professional carries a human organ for transplant. Courtesy FloridaPolitics.com
A medical professional carries a human organ for transplant. Courtesy FloridaPolitics.com

By A.G. Gancarski, Florida Politics

The Florida Senate just unanimously passed a House bill that ensures people with disabilities can receive organ transplants without fear of discrimination.

Jacksonville Republican Rep. Jason Fischer proposed the bill, claiming that transplant facilitators don’t realize that protections against discrimination covered by The Americans with Disabilities Act also applies to them.

Read the full article about House Bill 1179 here: https://floridapolitics.com/archives/322916-organ-transplant-discrim

A Mom Laments Limited Employment Prospects For Daughter With Down Syndrome

Sophie Silverman dancing ballet.
Amy Silverman’s daughter Sophie, who has Down syndrome, wants to be a dance teacher. (Courtesy Amy Silverman)

 

By Amy Silverman, Here & Now

Amy Silverman‘s daughter Sophie wants to be a dance teacher. But Sophie has Down syndrome and the opportunities for meaningful employment for people with intellectual disabilities are minimal.

This segment aired on January 1, 2020.

Listen to the radio piece here: https://www.wbur.org/hereandnow/2020/01/01/employment-prospects-intellectual-disabilities

My Fight With a Sidewalk Robot

A life-threatening encounter with AI technology convinced me that the needs of people with disabilities need to be engineered into our autonomous future.

A mid-sized robot on a sidewalk
A Starship Technologies commercial delivery robot navigates a sidewalk. Wolfgang Rattay/Reuters
PERSPECTIVE

By EMILY ACKERMAN

One afternoon last month, as I was crossing a busy four-lane street that runs through the University of Pittsburgh campus, I looked up to see a robot blocking my path.

This wasn’t unexpected. Over the summer, several four-wheeled, knee-high robots had been roaming campus, unmarked and usually with a human handler several feet behind. Recently they’d multiplied, and now they were flying solo. They belonged to Starship Technologies, I learned, an autonomous delivery service rolling out on college campuses across America.

As a chemical engineering Ph.D. student at the University of Pittsburgh who uses a power wheelchair, I figured it wouldn’t be long before I met one of these bots in a frustrating face-off on a narrow sidewalk. What I didn’t realize was how dangerous, and dehumanizing, that scenario might be.

The robot was sitting motionless on the curb cut on the other side of Forbes Avenue. It wasn’t crossing with the rest of the pedestrians, and when I reached the curb, it didn’t move as the walk signal was ending. I found myself sitting in the street as the traffic light turned green, blocked by a non-sentient being incapable of understanding the consequences of its actions.

I managed to squeeze myself up on the sidewalk in a panic, climbing the curb outside the curb cut in fear of staying in the street any longer—a move that causes a painful jolt and could leave me stuck halfway up if I’m not careful.

Then I did what a lot of upset people do: I sent off a thread of angry tweets about the experience.

Read the full article here: https://www.citylab.com/perspective/2019/11/autonomous-technology-ai-robot-delivery-disability-rights/602209/

Learning to Unsay the R-Word

Amy Silverman on Changing the Way a Culture Speaks

Photo depicting a blank chalkboard with an eraser and piece of chalk on its ledge.

By Literary Hub

As we drove to her high school one morning not long ago, I asked my daughter Sophie what words she’d use to describe herself.

“Cute, funny, smart, hard working,” she says.

“Anything else?”

“Lovable.” Literary Hub

Sophie did not use the word retarded, though some people might. I’ve never heard her say it. She’s never heard me say it, either. I don’t use it. Anymore.

To be totally honest, I miss the word.

I imagine it’s a little like how a smoker feels once she’s quit. Relieved to be rid of cigarettes, disgusted that she ever used them. Healthy, now. A better person for it. But sometimes, there’s that sense that nothing else will ever deliver quite the same satisfaction. Years later, I still find myself craving the r-word.

I went cold turkey in 2003, the year Sophie, my second daughter, was born. In the recovery room post C-section, I forced my drugged eyes open long enough to ask my husband Ray, “What are you doing?” and closed them again when he told me he was measuring the placement of Sophie’s ears, a marker of Down syndrome.

Read Amy Silverman’s full essay here:https://lithub.com/learning-to-unsay-the-r-word/