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.
NCDJ board member Becky Curran Kekula appeared on this morning talk show to discuss tips for treating people with disabilities fairly and respectfully. Part of the discussion focused on the fact that since 70% of disabilities are invisible, many people are nervous to either admit they have a disability, or to speak about someone who may have a disability that isn’t immediately apparent.
Also featured are some of Becky’s favorite tips for working remotely — a particularly relevant topic in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
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.
“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.
Starting this fall, students enrolled in the New College of Integrative Sciences and Arts at Arizona State University can earn a bachelor’s degree in disability studies. The new academic program, which has been seven years in the making, is the first disability studies program of its kind in Arizona.
Theresa Devine, an associate professor at ASU, is spearheading the new program and also played a major role in developing and designing its curriculum. According to the program website, the disability studies major will prepare students “to address injustices, exclusions and misapprehensions regarding disabilities through advocacy and self-advocacy, education, knowledge of the law, and historical awareness.”
Click here to read more about the new disability studies program at Arizona State University.
The New York Times Parenting section recently featured an essay by NCDJ Board member and journalist Amy Silverman, who elucidates the challenges parents face when it comes to choosing the right school for kids with disabilities. Silverman discusses what it was like to transition her daughter Sophie, who has Down syndrome, into a local elementary school and describes navigating red tape and school administrators to ensure Sophie would receive support services suited to her needs.
The article also mentions that it is important for parents of children with disabilities to understand the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and provides a link to an overview of the federal law.
Author, investigative journalist and Columbia J-school professor Stephen Fried will teach a new nonfiction writing course at University of Pennsylvania next semester. The course, which which will focus on writing about mental health and addiction, will be among the first undergraduate coursesof its kind in the U.S.
Students taking the spring class, titled “Advanced Nonfiction Writing: Writing about Mental Health and Addiction,” will hear from guest lecturers and will read and discuss writings about behavioral health.
After covering mental health as a journalist for years, Fried said he understands the importance of teaching students how to report on these topics in a nuanced way. Uninformed writing about this subject matter can perpetuate the stigma surrounding mental illness and seeking psychiatric help.
Fried is the author of numerous books about the prescription drug industry and mental illness. In 2015 he co-authored Patrick Kennedy’s memoir A Personal Journey Through the Past and Future of Mental Illness and Addiction.
Celebrities and wealthy parents involved in the college admissions bribery scheme which recently made headlines took advantage of testing accommodations meant for students with disabilities, federal authorities say. According to court documents, the parents were instructed to lie in order to secure extra time and a private room for their kids to take the SAT or ACT. The parents were told to falsely claim that their children had learning disabilities–and to obtain the necessary medical documentation for proof.
For students with learning disabilities, there is often a discrepancy between academic performance and their intelligence. Advocates for students with learning disabilities believe the scandal could make it harder for students with actual learning disabilities to get the test-taking accommodations they need.
Earlier this week the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) featured our disability language style guide on its Journalist’s Toolbox website, which highlights digital resources to help journalists in their reporting. As the SPJ site points out, a Spanish-language version of the NCDJ style guide is now available on NCDJ.org. Journalists can access the guide in both languages on our website.
Coaching at the collegiate level is tough. Imagine how hard it must be to coach at that elite level when you’re blind. That is the challenge facing the nation’s only blind swimming coach at Catawba College in North Carolina.
According to an article published in the New York Times on August 28, the lawsuit accuses Stanford of “discriminating against students with mental health issues by coercing them into taking leaves of absences.” The lawsuit is the latest in a series of legal cases challenging mental health leave policies at schools like Princeton, George Washington University, Quinnipiac, and Hunter College. Read the New York Times story by Anemona Hartocollis here.