NCDJ Contest Archive

Winning contest entries and other notable reporting on disability from 2013-2020. 


The National Center on Disability and Journalism has announced the winners of the 2021 Katherine Schneider Journalism Award for Excellence in Reporting on Disability, the only journalism contest devoted exclusively to the coverage of people with disabilities and disability issues.

Journalists working in digital, print and broadcast media from around the world competed for awards and cash prizes totaling $8,000.

Reporters from The Washington Post won the top two spots in the large media category. William Wan took first for “Pandemic Isolation has killed thousands of Alzheimer’s patients while families watch from afar,” which examines the number of deaths caused by Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia in the U.S. during the COVID-19 pandemic and how the isolation associated with dementia has been exacerbated by the pandemic.

Hannah Dreier of the Post took second for “What to do about Ahav?,” a profile about a mother working to take care of her Black, mentally ill son during the pandemic and a time of racial unrest, with photographs by Bonnie Mount.

Freelance Phoenix journalist Amy Silverman claimed third in the large media category for “People with Developmental Disabilities Were Promised Health. Instead, They Face Delays and Denials.,” published by ProPublica, about an Arizona state agency that has turned away people who seek assistance for developmental disabilities because of paperwork issues.

In the small media category, reporters from the ARIJ Arab Investigative Network took first and second places. Ayat Khiry won first for “Falling on Deaf Ears,” an investigation into how deaf and hard-of-hearing people struggle to receive services at government hospitals in Egypt. Safaa Ashour finished second for “Blue, Beaten and Bruised,” which details physical abuse of children at special needs centers in Egypt.

The third place prize was given to Diana Mwango of Nation Media Group, whose story, “Challenges Disabled Women Face in Accessing Sexual and Reproductive Health Services,” examines the mistreatment disabled women receive in maternity wards and sexual health clinics.

The contest generated more than 130 entries from around the world, said NCDJ Director Kristin Gilger, Reynolds Professor of Business Journalism at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

“Over the years, the contest has been more and more international in focus,” Gilger said. “There’s a growing recognition of the importance of covering this important community – and covering it well.”

Judges for the Large Media Market category were Eric Garcia, senior Washington correspondent for The Independent; Amisha Padnani, editor on the Obituaries desk at The New York Times and the creator of Overlooked; and Susannah Frame, chief investigative reporter and reporting coach at KING 5.

Judges for the Small Media Market category were Daniel King, copy editor and Recharge editor at Mother Jones; Cheryl W. Thompson, investigative correspondent for NPR; and Jennifer Smith Richards, reporter at the Chicago Tribune.

First-place winners in both categories will discuss their work at a “Must See Mondays” event on Nov. 1 in the First Amendment Forum at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in Phoenix, Arizona. The event also will be live streamed.

For previous winners, visit

The Katherine Schneider Journalism Award for Excellence in Reporting on Disability was established in 2013 with the support of Schneider, a retired clinical psychologist who has been blind since birth and who also supports the national Schneider Family Book Awards. The reporting contest is administered by the National Center on Disability and Journalism at the Cronkite School.


FIRST PLACE (Large media)
“The Quiet Rooms”

The Chicago Tribune and ProPublica Illinois

Jennifer Smith Richards and Jodi S. Cohen

Overview: This piece investigated the practice of isolating school children, many of whom have disabilities. The journalists examined records from more than 100 school districts across Illinois, concluding that while seclusion is sometimes legal, in many instances it was used outside the bounds of the law in ways that were cruel and unjustified.

SECOND PLACE (Large media)

“Two Boys with the Same Disability Tried to Get Help”

USA Today

Mike Elsen-Rooney

Overview: Elsen-Rooney explored what happened when the families of two boys from different backgrounds—living just 15 blocks apart in New York City—tried to get help for their children, both of whom struggled to learn to read.

THIRD PLACE (Large media)

“COVID-19 is a Disability Issue”

National Public Radio

Joseph Shapiro

Overview: Shapiro wrote about the specific challenges faced by people with disabilities during the pandemic.


“The Physics, Economics, and Politics of Wheelchairs on Planes”


Michael Schulson

Overview: Schulson takes a look at the science behind airplanes and wheelchairs and examines the challenges faced by people who use wheelchairs 30 years after the passage of the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act.

FIRST PLACE (Small media)

“Ignored: South Dakota is Failing Deaf Children”

Argus Leader

Shelly Conlon

Overview: The project explored the systematic decisions that lawmakers, educators and state officials have made at every level, leading to a dire lack of access to resources, accommodations and Deaf teachers.

SECOND PLACE (Small media)


The News-Press/Naples Daily News

Janine Zeitlin

Overview: This five-part series follows a young woman for a year, revealing the inadequacies of both Florida’s foster care and mental health systems.

THIRD PLACE (Small media)

“Restraint, Seclusion, Deception”

Searchlight New Mexico

Ed Williams

Overview: Williams exposed that not only are isolation rooms and restraint techniques misused in Albuquerque, New Mexico schools, but the actions are often kept secret.


“Special Needs Students Often Pay Price in Efforts to Strengthen School Safety”

Education Dive

Naaz Modan

Overview: This story revealed that changes in the law have meant that children with disabilities in Florida are being involuntarily committed to mental health facilities when it’s not always necessary.


The following entries for the 2019 Katherine Schneider Journalism Award for Excellence in Reporting on Disability were singled out by judges for the quality of reporting on disability issues. The award winners are listed at the top, followed by other exemplary work.

AWARD WINNERS – Large Media Category

Right to Fail – living apart, coming undone
Pro Publica, December 6, 2018
Joaquin Sapien
Read the story online.

Overview:Hundreds of mentally ill New York City residents moved out of institutions into private apartments over the past four years under a landmark 2014 settlement. The approach is meant to champion the rights of people with mental illness to live independently. But more than 200 interviews, as well as medical, social work and housing records reviewed by ProPublica and the PBS series Frontline, in collaboration with The New York Times, show that for some residents, the sudden shift from an institution to independence has been dangerous and, at times, deadly.

Trapped: Abuse and neglect in private care
Reveal, Center for Investigative Reporting, August 4, 2018
Audrey Quinn
Read the story online.

Overview:WNYC-FM reporter and Aftereffect host Audrey Quinn’s reporting revealed a history
of abuse, neglect and client deaths at facilities run by Bellwether Behavioral Health, the largest
group home provider in the state of New Jersey.

G: Unfit
Radiolab, July 17, 2019
Lulu Miller
Listen online.

Overview: Lulu Miller investigated the consequences of Buck v Bell, a Supreme Court decision from the 1920s that allowed for the forced sterilization of people deemed “unfit.” The story traces the dark history of human eugenics and demonstrates its relevance to today.

Honorable Mention
The parents said it was a special-needs bed. The state said it was a cage
The Arizona Republic, February 14, 2019
Mary Jo Pitzl
Read the story online.

Overview: This story centers on one Arizona family’s fight to use a “safety bed” for their daughter with disabilities, which exposed the tension over rules governing caregivers.

AWARD WINNERS – Small Media Category

You’re Not Alone
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, May 10, 2019
Rory Linnane
View this story online.

Overview:This documentary follows four young people from Wisconsin as they navigate mental health challenges. It’s an extension of the Kids in Crisis series, which over the past three years has uncovered rising suicide rates and gaps in mental health care in Wisconsin.

We dined with wheelchair users at 4 of Charleston’s top lunch spots. Here’s what they experienced.
Charleston Post Courier, August 20, 2018
Hannah Raskin
Read this story online.

Overview:The population of Charleston, South Carolina, is aging faster than the rest of the country. But the city’s antebellum architecture and cobblestone streets worry accessibility experts, who point out it won’t be long before a significant portion of Charleston’s population will need a cane, walker, wheelchair or other assistive device to go out.

Criminalizing Disability
Searchlight New Mexico, May 7, 2019
Ed Williams
Read this story online.

Overview:In New Mexico, a state with one of the highest rates of child trauma and child poverty, an astounding 99.5 percent of youth offenders in state custody have at least one psychiatric diagnosis. This investigation concludes that in New Mexico, difficult students often are left to the criminal justice system to deal with.

Everyone wants a piece of the Texas budget. It’s hard to succeed when most of the money is accounted for.
Texas Tribune, March 26, 2019
Edgar Walters
Read the story online.

Overview:This story examines the case disability advocates have made for pay raises for home care workers in Texas. Even in a year with a budget surplus, it’s a difficult battle.

Other Notable Entries – Large Market

Presented in alphabetical order by title of entry

Costly, Ineffective, Cruel
Gordon R. Friedman, The Oregonian
Jan. 27, 2019
Read the story HERE.

Overview: In Oregon, adherence to an “aid and assist” system has detained and institutionalized thousands of people with mental illness for committing low-level crimes. The process is expensive for taxpayers and does not deliver lasting benefits to defendants or society, according to this analysis by The Oregonian.

NYC’s Public Transit Nightmare
Elyse Wanshel and Lena Jackson, Huffington Post
Oct. 9, 2018
Read the story HERE.

Overview: Public transportation accessibility can be one enormous barrier to economic success for people with disabilities. In this article, the reporters take a critical look at New York City’s public transit system, which includes a majority of subway stations that are not compliant with the American Disability Act.

Paratransit Shaken Up
Juliette Goorich, KPIX 5
Dec. 27, 2018
See the story HERE.

Overview: This investigation revealed that Bay Area residents with special needs and disabilities constantly struggle with long wait times, unreliable service and other poor treatment from the city’s public transit system.

Turn up the Volume
David Pogue, CBS Morning
Sept. 30, 2018
Watch the story HERE.

Overview: Two out of three people over 70 have trouble hearing, but only 20% use hearing aids. That’s partly because the vast majority of insurance companies don’t cover their hefty cost. But as this segment reveals, recent legislation will make a new, more accessible class of hearing aids available in August 2020. The reporter takes a personal approach to exploring the world of hearing aids, interviewing his own 90-year-old father about his experience.

Zika Love Stories
William Kremer, BBC News
October 2018
Read the story HERE.

Overview:When the Zika virus hit Brazil in 2015, it affected more than 3,000 children who were born with the disease. The disease’s most well-known symptom is microcephaly, or abnormally small heads. When this story’s author — who himself has a child with microcephaly — traveled to Brazil in 2018 to visit with families coping with the disease, he found something special: a group of more than 400 mothers who have organized via WhatsApp to support one another through the challenges of raising a child with the Zika virus.

Other Notable Entries – Small Market

Presented in alphabetical order by title of entry

Aging and the Unknown
Briana Vannozzi, NJTV News
March 8, 2019
View the story HERE.

Overview: Many families in New Jersey don’t realize they need to file for legal guardianship of a relative with a developmental disability until there’s a crisis. This report explores the need for more awareness about various levels of legal guardianship in the state.

Being LGBTQ and Living with a Disability
Victoria Brownworth
Philadelphia Gay News
July 3, 2019
Read the series HERE.Overview:It’s been nearly 30 years since the Americans With Disabilities Act was passed into law, but many people who live with disabilities still struggle with a lack of accessibility — not just to amenities and basic services but also to celebrations. In Philadelphia, many members of the LGBTQ community who live with disability weren’t able to access Pride and Stonewall 50 celebrations last summer. The author gives voice to those experiences in this story, the first in a three-part series on the intersection of LGBTQ and disability communities.

Sheltered Workshops: Reliable Opportunity
Eric Neumann, KEUR
April 8, 2019
See the story HERE.Overview: More than a dozen sheltered workshops throughout the state of Utah employ people with developmental disabilities — sometimes at less than half of the state’s minimum wage rate of $7.25 per hour. A new federal regulation is scrutinizing sheltered workshops and pressuring them to alter their treatment of employees.

Smart Ass Cripple: Getting in the Big Man’s Face
Mike Ervin, The Progressive
Dec. 1, 2018
Read the story HERE.
Overview: This first-person piece from a disability rights advocate focuses on the value of peaceful protest. Protests might be necessary, the author writes, to bring back the 2005 initiative “Money Follows the Person,” which helps people with disabilities move out of nursing homes and into their own homes.



The following entries for the 2018 Ruderman Awards for Excellence in Reporting on Disability were singled out by judges for the quality of reporting on disability issues.


Abused and Betrayed
National Public Radio
Joseph Shapiro, Robert Little, Meg Anderson
Read story HERE.

Overview This NPR series examines the hidden epidemic of people with intellectual disabilities being sexually assaulted. The NPR Investigations Team spent more than a year sifting through court records and interviewing victims and family members. They found that crimes against people with intellectual disabilities often go unrecognized, unprosecuted and unpunished, leaving the abuser free to abuse again. The investigation also included a first-ever analysis of federal crime data and tracked what states are doing about the issue.

Pain and Profit
Dallas Morning News
David McSwane, Andrew Chavez David
Read story HERE

Overview“Pain and profit” documents the way Texas treats fragile people who rely on Medicaid, the government insurance program for the poor and disabled. With the help of whistleblowers and more than 160 public records requests, the series exposed the systemic denials of care and other abuses by companies paid to administer Medicaid. The Texas legislature held hearings on the findings and began considering new legislation to address the problems.

Stuck Kids
ProPublica Illinois
Duaa Eldeib, Sandhya Kambhampati, and Vignesh Ramachandran
Read story HERE.

Overview: The “Stuck Kids” investigation reveals that between 2015 and 2017, 21 percent of the time children spent in psychiatric hospitals in Illinois was not medically necessary. The children remained confined to hospitals because the state failed to find appropriate placements for them. Some children were stuck in psychiatric hospitals for months, despite evidence that unnecessarily prolonged hospital stays can have detrimental effects on children in terms of both their emotional well-being and their behavior.

WNYC, New York public radio
Audrey Quinn, Aneri Pattani, Phoebe Wang
Listen HERE.

Overview: “Aftereffect” is an eight-episode podcast that takes listeners inside the life of Arnaldo Rios Soto, a 26-year-old, non-speaking man with autism whose life was upended in 2016 when someone mistook a silver toy truck in his hand for a gun. Police arrived and ended up shooting and severely wounded Arnaldo’s aide, which set off a sequence of events that put Arnaldo’s life in a downward spiral.


Presented in alphabetical order by title of entry

Alive Inside
Mike Hixenbaugh, Houston Chronicle
December 5, 2017
Read HERE.

Overview: Of the thousands of severely brain-injured people who are discharged to nursing homes or acute care hospitals in the U.S. each year, 40 percent are estimated to be covertly aware, or in the “minimally conscious state.” They drift between consciousness and brain death, trapped inside themselves and unable to communicate. This story takes a personal look at just one of the many people who are “alive inside,” despite appearing to be in a vegetative state. 

Schools Aren’t Preparing Students With Disabilities for Active Shooter Scenarios
Jordan Davidson, The Mighty
March 14, 2018
Read HERE.

Overview: There were more than 100 school shootings between Sandy Hook in 2012 and Parkland in early 2018, but there’s still no federal mandate for schools to hold active shooter drills. That means it’s up to individual schools to decide if — and how — to prepare students. As this article explores, modifications for students with disabilities are rarely included in these trainings. 

2018 Winners
Katherine Schneider Medal

Nowhere to Go
Kaiser Health News
Christina Jewett
Read story HERE.

Overview:“Nowhere to Go” shows how teenagers and young adults with autism are spending weeks or even months in hospitals, where they are sedated, restrained or confined to mesh-tented beds. These young people are taken to hospitals when families can’t get help from community social services and other programs; they end up calling 911, and those calls often result in long and agonizing hospital stays for their loved ones.

Back of the Class
KING Television in Seattle, Washington
Susannah Frame, Taylor Mirfendereski, Ryan Coe
Watch HERE.

Overview“Back of the Class” documents how thousands of children in the state of Washington are segregated in public schools, in violation of federal and state laws and despite research that shows children with disabilities made better progress in integrated classrooms. Children with disabilities are isolated from other students in classroom settings and even in the lunchroom, often as a way to save money, the report concludes, and Washington State has one of the worst records in the country in serving such children.

Better Government Association and WBEZ Chicago Public Media
Alejandra Cancino, Better Government Association
Odette Yousef, WBEZ Chicago Public Media
Read story HERE.

Overview:“Trapped” exposes unsafe elevators, shoddy record keeping and failed oversight at the Chicago Housing Authority, where many elderly tenants live, as the series put it, “in fear of their own buildings.” Hundreds of these residents, for whom stairs are not an option, end up trapped inside unsafe elevators in high-rise apartment buildings owned by the housing authority. The problems continue despite repeated citations for safety violations, flunked safety inspections and hundreds of panicked calls to 911. The series prompted the housing authority to begin a $25 million project to modernize and replace elevators.

Flying the Unfriendly Skies
New Mobility Magazine
Kenny Salvini
Read story HERE

Overview“Flying the Unfriendly Skies” relates how, in the course of a single year, the author’s wheelchair was damaged two times by two different airlines.“ Once is a case of bad luck. Twice is the universe revealing your path. Having two wheelchairs destroyed by two different airlines in the span of a year has a way of thrusting you into a bit of reluctant advocacy with a lot of questions that need answers,” Salvini writes. He set out to find the answers and discovered a history of failed airline policies and a seeming indifference that affects thousands of others who live with disabilities.


Out of Options
Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune
April 23, 2018
Watch HERE.

Overview: This video documentary follows two Texas families as they begin their journey to pursuing an alternative form of medical treatment for children with epilepsy: cannabis oil, or CBD oil. Despite the state’s passage of the Compassionate Use Act in 2015, which legalized a certain type of CBD oil for epilepsy patients who haven’t responded to federally-approved medication, families still face challenges with getting the treatment.


The following entries for the 2017 Katherine Schneider Journalism Award for Excellence in Reporting on Disability were singled out by judges for the quality of reporting on disability issues.


Suffering in Secret
Chicago Tribune, November 21, 2016
Michael J. Berens and Patricia Callahan
Read online or download a PDF HERE.

OverviewAn investigation into the mistreatment of disabled adults in Illinois group homes. They identified more than 1,300 cases of documented harm since July 2011 in Illinois’ taxpayer-funded group homes and their day programs. The reporters uncovered at least 42 deaths linked to abuse or neglect in group homes or their day programs and uncovered state records of residents fatally choking on improperly prepared food, succumbing to untreated bed sores and languishing in pain from undiagnosed ailments.

Houston Chronicle, Sept 10, 2016
Brian M. Rosenthal
Read online or download a PDF HERE.

OverviewRosenthal’s investigation revealed how Texas officials systematically denied special education services to thousands of children. The seven-part series found that Texas placed a cap on how many children could receive special education services, saving billions of dollars but denying services to children with disabilities ranging from epilepsy and blindness to autism and attention deficit disorder.

Dorian Wants Transit Policy Towards Disabled Persons to Change
91.3 KBCS Seattle-Tacoma, November, 2016
Mona Yeh, Sonya Green, Yuko Kodama
Listen online.

Overview: The experiences of one wheelchair user trying to navigate public transportation in Seattle.


Presented in alphabetical order by title of entry

America Keeps Criminalizing Autistic Children
Pacific Standard, June 12, 2017
David M. Perry
Read online or download as a PDF HERE.

Overview: When non-white autistic students get in trouble, schools have a track record of escalating tensions and treating it as a criminal matter. Two recent cases in Orange County, Florida, help illustrate the problem.

Dating with a Disability
New York Times, Dec 8, 2016
Wendy Lu
Read online or download a PDF HERE.

Overview: Women with disabilities often begin to date much later in life, and they struggle in a dating culture that places a premium on physical appearance.

Disabled and disenfranchised: The voting rights fight you haven’t heard of
Vice News, Oct 21, 2016
Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani
Read online or download a PDF HERE.

Overview: Many voters with disabilities are unjustly categorized as “incompetent” and therefore ineligible to vote due to their participation on guardianships.

‘I was a citizen, now I’m nothing’: disabled readers on life under austerity
The Guardian, May 30, 2017
Frances Ryan and John Domokos
Read online or download as a PDF HERE.

Overview: Recipients of disability benefits in the U.K. criticize fiscal austerity championed by Conservative policymakers including Prime Minister Theresa May.

Medicaid is Keeping People With Disabilities From Getting Married
The Mighty, June 30, 2017
Jordan Davidson
Read online or download a PDF HERE.Overview: Dreams of marriage elude many Medicaid recipients with disabilities who fear combining incomes with a spouse would disqualify them from life-saving coverage.

Seeing in the Dark: Sex and Disability
The Bay Area Reporter, Sept 22, 2016
Belo Cipriani
Read online or download a PDF HERE.Overview: Cipriani, who is blind, writes about the disabled community in the Bay Area, challenging stereotypes about disability ranging from sex to parenting.

Tyneisha thinks her disability shouldn’t disqualify her from motherhood
Public Source, June 15, 2017
Brittany Hailer
Read online or download a PDF HERE.Overview: A teen mom in Pennsylvania was diagnosed with an intellectual disability, PTSD, due to trauma suffered in foster care. Despite her diagnosis she remains hopeful about regaining custody of her baby son, who state authorities placed with a foster family.



The following entries for the 2016 Katherine Schneider Journalism Award for Excellence in Reporting on Disability were singled out by judges for the quality of reporting on disability issues. The award winners are listed at the top, followed by other exemplary work.


A Matter of Dignity
Minneapolis Star Tribune, November 8, 2015
Chris Serres
Read online or download a PDF HERE.

OverviewIn “A Matter of Dignity,” Star Tribune reporter Chris Serres, along with reporter Glenn Howatt and photographer David Joles, reveals how hundreds of Minnesotans with developmental disabilities are segregated and neglected in a state system of sheltered workshops.

From Institution to Inclusion
WAMU, March 15, 2016
Martin Austermuhle
Listen & Read online.

OverviewThe series of radio broadcasts and digital reporting chronicled the history of a 40-year-old class action lawsuit that closed Forest Haven, the institution where residents of Washington, D.C., with intellectual and developmental disabilities were sent to live.

The DIY Scientist, the Olympian, and the Mutated Gene
ProPublica, January 15, 2016
David Epstein
Listen & Read online or download a PDF HERE.

Overview: A story of do-it-yourself genetics that helped a 39-year-old Iowa mother named Jill Viles solve her mysterious degenerative muscle disorder.


Presented in alphabetical order by title of entry

Choreography of Care
Making Contact Radio, April 8, 2016
Alice Wong
Listen online.

Overview: Alice Wong examines the role of caregivers for people with disabilities and how that influences someone’s sense of independence. 

Insensitive, Inc.
Business World, February 2016
Sonal Khetarpal
Read online or download a PDF HERE.

OverviewAn international entrythe author looks at job opportunities in India for people with disabilities.

I’m Not Broken
The Washington Post, December 4, 2015
Eric Garcia
Read online or download a PDF HERE.

OverviewA reporter in D.C. explains what it means to be a journalist with autism.

Interactive: For Disabled Patients, An Endless Cycle of Abuse
Reveal News, November 7, 2015
Julia Chan
Read online.

Overview: Reporters from Reveal News present an interactive timeline of the private neurorehabilitation system.  

Is Ebola Hiding in the Eyes of Survivors?
The Atlantic, March 30, 2016
Emily Baumgaertner
Read online or download a PDF HERE.

Overview: Some Ebola survivors in West Africa are going blind after beating the disease. The reporter reveals the struggle doctors are now facing.

Loneliness Darkens Twilight Years
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 30, 2016
Mark Johnson
Read online or download a PDF HERE.

OverviewJohnson documents the pain and loneliness of the elderly population in America living alone. 

Reporting on Disability with Sensitivity, Not Sensationalism
Nieman Reports, March 30, 2016
Genevieve Belmaker
Read online or download a PDF HERE.

Overview: The author chronicles the state of disability reporting, and how newsrooms are changing the way reporters address the topic

The Strange Case of Anna Stubblefield
The New York Times, October 25, 2015
Daniel Engber
Read online or download a PDF HERE.

Overview: An examination of the relationship between a man with severe disabilities and a woman who claimed she could communicate for him. 

The Way Forward
The Washington Post, July 18, 2015
Caitlin Gibson
Watch the video & read online or download a PDF HERE.

Overview: The story of a man with quadriplegia helping his former mentor in recovery from a catastrophic fall. 



The following entries for the 2015 Katherine Schneider Journalism Award for Excellence in Reporting on Disability were singled out by judges for the quality of reporting on disability issues. The award winners are listed at the top, followed by other exemplary work.


Violent and Legal: The Shocking Ways School Kids are Being Pinned Down, Isolated Against Their Will
ProPublica, June 19, 2014
Heather Vogell
Read online or download a PDF HERE.

OverviewIn an investigation by ProPublica, Heather Vogell uncovered the shocking ways children with intellectual disabilities are physically disciplined in schools across the country. 

Saving Evan
Hartford Courant, Jan. 4, 2015
Josh Kovner
Read online or download a PDF HERE.

Overview: This article tells the story of a mother and son navigating the challenges of treating autism. It chronicles how one mother handled many of the bureaucratic hurdles parents face in raising a child with autism. 

Why Some NC Sterilization Victims Won’t Get Share Of $10 Million Fund
WUNC North Carolina Public Radio, Oct. 6, 2014
Eric Mennel
Listen and read online or download as PDF HERE.

OverviewEric Mennel exposes the issues victims of a state-sponsored sterilization program in North Carolina face in seeking compensation from the state after lawmakers set up a $10 million compensation fund. 


Presented in alphabetical order by title of entry

Accessibility in Greektown
The Maneater, April 1, 2015
Alana Saad
Read online or download as a PDF HERE.

OverviewAn in-depth look at accessibility in the Greektown area at the University of Missouri, where many sororities and fraternities are housed. In this article, students with disabilities discuss basic accessibility issues they say the community is not fixing.  

Criminalizing Kids: Virginia tops nation in sending students to cops, courts
The Center for Public Integrity, September 11, 2015
Susan Ferriss
Read online or download a PDF HERE.

Overview: About 26 percent of students nationwide who are referred to law enforcement have a physical or learning disability, according to Susan Ferriss’s story for The Center for Public Integrity. Ferriss follows sixth grader Kayleb Moon-Robinson, a young boy with autism, after he was charged with disorderly conduct.

Elder Guardianship: A well-oiled machine
Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Dec. 2014
Barbara Peters Smith
Read online or download a PDF HERE.

OverviewThis story delves into the tangled web of elder guardianship in Florida, where some people are said to get lost in the system. 

Left Behind
NBC4 Washington, 2015
Tisha Thompson
Watch online.

OverviewReporter Tisha Thompson talks to D.C. commuters with disabilities and advocates who worry the METRO train system is not accessible in the case of an emergency evacuation. 

Level 14: A Home for California’s Most Troubled Children Comes Undone
Joaquin Sapien
Access entire series and followup articles online or download a PDF HERE.

OverviewIn this series, ProPublica exposes the issues at a group home in California where reports of rape, fights, and drug abuse invaded a place meant to be a safety net for children, many of whom were diagnosed with a mental illness.

On education technology, college lobbyists are keeping disabled students behind
The Boston Globe, September 5, 2014
Kyle Shachmut
Read online or download a PDF HERE.

OverviewIn an op-ed piece, Kyle Shachmut argues for more accessibility in technology for student with disabilities. 

Sex, Lives and Disability
Mosaic Science, March, 3, 2015
Katherine Quarmby
Read online or download a PDF HERE.

OverviewKatherine Quarmby explores societal beliefs about those with disabilities and sex, and how people are facing that stigma head-on. 

The Brief Life and Private Death of Alexandria Hill
Mother Jones, February 26, 2015
Brian Joseph
Read online or download a PDF HERE.

Overview: Reporting for Mother Jones, Brian Joseph explores privatized foster care through the tragic story of Alexandria Hill, a 2-year-old foster child from Texas. 

Wheeling and Dealing: How Do People with Disabilities Experience Madison?”
Madison Magazine, April 2015
Maggie Ginsberg
Read online or download a PDF HERE.

OverviewMaggie Ginsberg looks at the city of Madison, Wisconsin through the eyes of someone who uses a wheelchair. 

When disability and race intersect
CNN, December 4, 2014
David Perry
Read online or download a PDF HERE.

Overview: In this story, David Perry examines a pattern of violence against people with disabilities and the underlying social issues, as in the case of Eric Garner in New York.



The following entries for the 2014 Katherine Schneider Journalism Award for Excellence in Reporting on Disability were singled out by judges for the quality of reporting on disability issues. The award winners are listed at the top, followed by other exemplary work.


The ‘Boys’ in the Bunkhouse
The New York Times, March 9, 2014
Dan Barry
Read online.

OverviewThrough text, photos and video, Dan Barry, Kassie Bracken and Nicole Bengiveno documented the lives of men with intellectual disabilities who for 30 years worked in an Iowa turkey processing plant for almost no pay. The story raised questions about the federal law that permitted the men to be underpaid for doing the same work as their non-disabled colleagues, explained how regulators effectively sanctioned the exploitation and detailed the squalid living conditions and mistreatment the men endured.

State of Intoxication – Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders
Anchorage Daily News, Feb.-May 2014
Kyle Hopkins and Mark Lester
Read online.

Overview: This series won second place for painting an intimate portrait of children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders. As common as autism, the disability is widely misunderstood and underdiagnosed in the U.S.

Denise’s Decision
Kansas City Star, 2013
Erick Adler
Read online.

OverviewIn this wrenching four part series, reporter Eric Adler chronicles the legal, medical and emotional ordeal of placing a loved one with degenerative brain disease in long-term care.

DHN – Deaf and Hearing NetworkPhoenix, Arizona
Peyton Gallovich and Melissa Yingst Huber
Read online.

OverviewArizona State University students Peyton Gallovich and Melissa Yingst Huber were recognized for their start-up venture DHN, a newscast designed to give deaf and hard-of-hearing viewers as well as their hearing family members the opportunity to view newscasts together. DHN incorporates American Sign Language, spoken English and captions into each broadcast.


Presented in alphabetical order by title of entry

A Coming Tidal Wave of Autistic Adults
America Tonight, March 4, 2013
Abigail Leonard
Read online.

OverviewFrom America Tonight, part of Al Jazeera America, this segment focuses on what systems are in place to help the nearly 500,000 children with autism transition into adulthood over the next decade.

Series: Boston Marathon Bombing Survivors
The Washington Post, Sept. 2013–June 2014
Lenny Bernstein
Read online:For some Boston Marathon bombing victims, charity checks bring frustration, Sept. 15, 2013
Brain-injured woman and others seek more money, Oct. 2, 2013
Amputees are continuing to improve, March 18 2014
Boston Marathon bombing victims to get $20 million more, June 27, 2014

OverviewThis series follows several survivors of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings nearly a year after the terrorist attacks killed three people and injured more than 250 others. Despite payouts from One Fund Boston, many victims still face a long, hard road to recovery.

The Boy Public School Forgot”
Huffington Post, Nov. 24, 2013
Joy Resmovits
Read online.

OverviewThrough one Washington D.C.-area family’s quest to obtain quality education for their autistic son, this article exposes the routine failures of America’s public education system to give specialized care to children with autism and other intellectual disabilities.

Chronic Crisis
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 2014
Meg Kissinger
Read online.

OverviewIn Wisconsin, Milwaukee County’s mental health system focuses more on emergency treatment than continual, reliable care, more so than anywhere else in the nation. Through patient stories and exclusive data reporting, this online series exposes a broken health care system.

How an Organ Transplant Changed my Life
Cincinnati Inquirer, June 16, 2014
John Faherty
Read online.

OverviewIn this long-form narrative, Cincinnati Inquirer reporter John Faherty reflects on receiving a pancreas transplant, beginning with his decision to seek a transplant to grappling with symptoms of anti-rejection medication.

Medicaid Managed Care series
Kaiser Health News in collaboration with The Washington Post, July – Dec. 2013
Jenni Bergal
Read online:
Kentucky’s rush in Medicaid Managed Care: A cautionary tale for other states, July 15, 2013
In Kansas, a fight over developmentally disabled shifting to Medicaid Managed Care, Dec. 5, 2013

OverviewThis report documents the consequences of a decision in the state of Kentucky to rapidly switch large numbers of people in Medicaid to managed care. A second report focuses on concerns in Kansas about what will happen when the state’s Medicaid managed system takes over services for thousands of developmentally disabled patients.

The New Segregation: School Choice in Arizona Takes on a Different Meaning If Your Kid Has a Disability
Phoenix New Times, May 14, 2014
Amy Silverman
Read online.

OverviewPhoenix New Times Reporter Amy Silverman recounts her experience of being “pushed out” of Arizona’s diverse charter school system while trying to find the right school for her young daughter with Down syndrome.

The War Next Door: Can a Vet with PTSD Come Home?
The Virginian-Pilot, Dec. 2013
Mike Hixenbaugh
Read online.

OverviewThis intimate look inside the life of a former solider with post-traumatic stress disorder examines the uncomfortable questions a close-knit community must grapple with when a neighbor who defended their freedom slowly loses his mind.

PA Couple Lives with Love and Disability”
Public Source, Jan. 26, 2014
Halle Stockton
Read online.

OverviewBob and Tina Norris, who both have cerebral palsy, have been married more than 22 years. Their marriage stands out not just because they have stayed together for so long but because federal and state assistance programs effectively discourage people with disabilities from marrying.

How Misunderstanding Disability Leads to Police Violence”
The Atlantic, May 6, 2014
David Perry and Lawrence Carter-Long
Read online.

OverviewThis piece explores the many instances when encounters with police have turned violent for people with disabilities over the past several years. Despite greater civil rights for Americans with disabilities, lingering misunderstandings and stereotypes and a lack of education can still trigger tragic endings.



The following entries for the 2013 Katherine Schneider Journalism Award for Excellence in Reporting on Disability all earned points from judges for the quality of reporting on disability issues.


Broken Shield
California Watch, February 2012
Ryan Gabrielson
Read online.

OverviewThe result of an 18-month investigation by Gabrielson for California Watch and its parent organization The Center for Investigative Reporting, “Broken Shield” exposes the routine failures of police to protect the developmentally disabled at California care institutions. The multipart series details how the Office of Protective Services, a police force charged with protecting the state’s most vulnerable citizens, botched investigations into claims of rape, torture and beatings of patients by staff members at development centers. Carrie Ching and Marina Luz produced an animated video, “In Jennifer’s Room,” to accompany the report, which also won the 2012 George Polk Award and the 2012 IRE Award and was a finalist for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize.

Autism Advantage
The New York Times Magazine, Nov. 29, 2012
Gareth Cook
Read online.

OverviewPulitzer Prize winner and columnist Gareth Cook chronicles the story of the innovative Danish company Specialisterne, which employs people with autism to gain a competitive advantage in the business world. Founded by Thorkil Sonne, the father of a son with autism, Specialisterne (Danish for “Specialists) employs high-functioning autistic adults who are hired out as consultants. Sonne established the company in the belief that workers with autism could be the best person for certain roles.

Playing by Ear
Narratively, June 11, 2013
Daphnée Denis and Hoda Emam
Read online.

OverviewAn abridged excerpt from the feature documentary “Shot in the Dark,” “Playing by Ear” profiles one young man’s dedication to the Paralympic sport goalball for the visually impaired. Filmmakers Denis and Emam follow one of New York State’s top goalball players Ibrahim Shahadat, who has a rare degenerative eye disease.

Second Chapter: A Portrait of Barry Corbet
Dartmouth Alumni Magazine, July/Aug. 2013
Broughton Coburn
Read online.

OverviewOne-time Everest climber and Dartmouth alumnus Barry Corbet was paralyzed from the waist down in a helicopter crash in 1968. “Second Chapter” profiles how the thrill seeker transitioned to life in a wheelchair and became a high-profile advocate for the disabled.


Presented in alphabetical order by title of entry

Access Denied
Campus Technology, Nov. 2012 digital edition
David Raths
Read online.

OverviewWhile making university websites and course content accessible to students and employees with disabilities may be the law, many institutions are far from compliance. Campus Technology looks at three key elements of a more proactive approach to accessibility on campus. These include building accessibility into the IT procurement process, training faculty to make online courses and content more accessible and sharing best practices across the higher education system.

Boarding Homes Series
San Antonio Express-News, Aug.-Dec., 2012
Melissa Fletcher Stoeltje
Read online.

OverviewHundreds of  boarding homes provide shelter and care to mentally disabled people in San Antonio with little to no regulatory oversight. In this series of articles, social services reporter Melissa Fletcher Stoeltje enumerates the haunting experiences of boarding home residents and their families, portraying a system that provides little help to those in financial and medical need.

Disability and Discrimination at the Doctor’s Office
The New York Times, May 23, 2013
Pauline Chen, MD
Read online.

OverviewMany doctors’ offices are ill prepared to offer even routine care to patients with disabilities. Through personal experience and an overview of a recent medical study, Dr. Pauline Chen lays bare a culture of discrimination against disabled patients by exposing offices unable to accommodate special equipment or outright refusing to book appointments.

Follow my steps
Wilson Quarterly, Jan. 22, 2012
Andrew Hida
Read online.

OverviewAndrew Cunningham is a typical 13 year-old. He complains about studying and spends hours playing on Xbox Live with friends. The only difference is he was born with a rare form of muscular dystrophy and gets around with the use of  a powered wheelchair. Andrew finds a brother and guide in 21-year-old Tony Reuter, born with brittle bone disease and facing a milestone of his own. Andrew Hida first began reporting the story for a class project and eventually turned it into a master’s thesis and an International Motion Art Award-winning documentary.

For Wounded Vet, Love Pierces the Fog of War
The Wall Street Journal, Feb. 4, 2012
Michael M. Phillips
Read online.

OverviewMarine Corps veteran Ian Welch was wounded in a roadside attack during his first tour in Iraq in 2003 but continued to serve two more tours before military doctors determined his post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury qualified him as disabled. Today, Welch lives in Texas with his girlfriend, Katie Brickman, who earns a small stipend as his primary caregiver under a recent federal program for badly disabled veterans.

Matadi: Un reconfort spirituel pour les sourds-muets, Sept. 20, 2012
Alphonse Nekwa
Read online.

OverviewForty formerly marginalized deaf parishioners are finding spiritual guidance and comfort in a unique church in Matadi, a coastal capital town in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The pastor of Yhwh Sabaoth uses the director of the only school for the deaf in the Bas-Congo province to translate his sermons into sign language. Article in French; read in Google Chrome for English translation.

Still, God Helps You
Wilson Quarterly, Summer 2013
Melissa Pritchard
Read online.

OverviewSnatched from a marketplace in Sudan and sold into slavery at the age of 6, William Mawwin became one of millions of people in the world to endure some form of involuntary servitude. Arizona State University English Professor Melissa Pritchard’s essay details Mawwin’s journey from a lost boy of a war-torn Sudan to a refugee in Egypt, where he lost his right hand and most of the fingers on his left in a work accident, and finally to a college student in America.

Technology For Life: How Students With Disabilities Are Attending College At Record Rates
KUNC, May 2, 2013
Jackie Fortier
Read online.

OverviewMore students with disabilities are pursuing higher education than ever before. New accessible technology along with disability assistance is helping students such as Esha Mehta and Bill Casson earn graduate degrees at institutions like the University of Colorado. But still some gender and minority gaps remain, with more women attendingcollege and more white students attending both undergraduate and graduate school than minority students.

Zach’s Journey
The Dallas Morning News, July-Dec. 2012
Mark Ramirez
Read online.

OverviewRapidly and surely, Zach Thibodeaux is going blind — the result of a degenerative disease called cone-rod dystrophy that destroys the cells of the retina. Mark Ramirez followed Zach for two years, through the third and fourth grades as the Dallas boy learned what it would mean to be blind, find new hobbies and spread awareness of his incurable disease.