workplace

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

NCDJ Board Member Becky Curran Kekula Discusses Facing the Fear of Inclusivity

NCDJ board member Becky Curran Kekula speaks with a TMJ-4 reporter on “The Morning Blend” about inclusive ways to discuss disability.

By “The Morning Blend” show on TMJ-4 Milwaukee

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.

Watch the full segment here: https://www.tmj4.com/shows/the-morning-blend/facing-the-fear-of-inclusivity

Science suffers when STEM students with disabilities leave the field

Different chemistry beakers full of chemicals in the colors of the rainbow
“Hundreds of tweets posted with the hashtag #WhyDisabledPeopleDropOut illustrate what can happen when talented students don’t receive the accommodations that they need,” Bayer and Marks say. Image: four different beakers on a table contain red, orange, yellow, and green liquids, respectively. [Photo: flickr]
Having a disability has made Gabi Serrato Marks and Skylar Bayer better scientists, according to a recent Scientific American article by Marks and Bayer that was published last week. The women note that even though creativity and the ability to think differently are valuable skills for any scientist to have, scientific research is rarely designed to accommodate scientists with medical conditions or disabilities. Marks and Bayer, a postdoc and PhD candidate, respectively, say academic institutions need to provide more institutional supports to scientists with disabilities if they don’t want to lose out on promising young talent.

Read Marks and Bayer’s piece in Scientific American online by clicking here.

NCDJ Director Kristin Gilger quoted in HuffPost article on disability discrimination in the workplace

How employers weed disabled people from their hiring pools
NCDJ Director Kristin Gilger discusses job description language in a recently published HuffPost article by Wendy Lu. The image shown above is a screenshot of Wendy Lu’s HuffPost piece with the headline “This Is How Employers Weed Out Disabled People From Their Hiring Pools.”

Job listings that discourage people with disabilities from applying are prevalent across professional industries, from journalism and news media to finance and higher education. Not only do these job descriptions discourage candidates with disabilities from applying to jobs for which they are qualified, but they also exacerbate the larger problem of people with disabilities being underemployed in full-time work.

Kristin Gilger, a senior associate dean at the Cronkite School and our director here at the NCDJ, is quoted in a recent HuffPost article discussing why these job descriptions are problematic and how they can be changed to attract a more diverse pool of candidates. The article was written by Wendy Lu, a journalist and disability rights advocate.

Click here to read Lu’s article on disability discrimination in the workplace.

Arizona legislator Jennifer Longdon has to roll home following late-night budget talks

After a recent legislative session ended at 2 a.m., Rep. Jennifer Longdon, D-Phoenix, a wheelchair user and NCDJ board member, had no choice but to roll 1.5 miles home from the Capitol. Longdon’s difficulty getting home illustrates the lack of accessible public transit options in Phoenix. How can people who rely on public transportation be productive or work late, if needed, in a city that doesn’t have a 24-hour bus system?

Several colleagues and a police officer accompanied Longdon on her roll home, but, as Longdon pointed out, many people with disabilities wouldn’t be able to access the kind of help that she [as an elected state representative] could.

Click here to read more about this news story in the Arizona Republic.


Above: Rep. Jennifer Longdon thanks Phoenix police and tells her colleagues about her travails getting home on May 24, 2019. (Video: Robbie Sherwood / azcentral.com)

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.

Blind swim coach relies on his hearing to train swimmers

“Accessibility Is Not A Partisan Issue”

In an article for the Arizona Capitol Times, Katie Campbell details changes that are underway to make the Arizona State Capitol building more accessible for not just one new elected official, but all Arizonans. Jennifer Longdon, a presumptive state representative from Legislative District 24, uses a wheelchair and has drawn lawmakers’ attention to areas of the Capitol that are not easily accessible for people who use wheelchairs.

According to Longdon, Campbell writes, “this is just the first step toward making the Capitol more inclusive to everyone, both physically and in the policies that lawmakers craft.” Read the Arizona Capitol Times story here.

Jennifer Longdon Accessibility
Jennifer Longdon, a presumptive state representative from Legislative District 24, poses before a set of stairs to the speaker’s desk. “It’s more than our numbers that keep me from being speaker,” she said. (Photo by Katie Campbell/Arizona Capitol Times)

Doctors With Disabilities Push For Culture Change In Medicine

Lisa Iezzoni graduated from medical school but didn’t end up becoming a practicing doctor. This was before the Americans with Disabilities Act passed in 1990, and she says she just didn’t have the support. Read her story in Doctors With Disabilities Push For Culture Change In Medicine, produced in collaboration with WHYY’s The Pulse, NPR and Kaiser Health News.

Lisa Iezzoni is professor of medicine at Harvard. She has multiple sclerosis and researches disparities in health care for people with disabilities.
Lisa Iezzoni is professor of medicine at Harvard. She has multiple sclerosis and researches disparities in health care for people with disabilities. Elana Gordon/WHYY