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Disability rights leader Marca Bristo dies at 66

Marca Bristo headshot
Marca Bristo founded and led Access Living, a non-profit that advocates for legislation and policies that ensure fair housing and accessible transportation for people with disabilities. Image: a recent headshot of Marca Bristo. (Photo: accessliving.org)

Marca Bristo, one of the most influential advocates for people with disabilities in the U.S., died on Sunday morning after a long battle with cancer. She was 66.

After becoming paralyzed in a diving accident at 23, Bristo dedicated her life to disability rights advocacy and worked tirelessly to secure legal protections and improve quality of life measures for people with disabilities.

Among her many achievements, Bristo played a significant role in getting the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) passed. She also founded Access Living in Chicago, a nonprofit that promoted independent living, and in 1993 she was appointed by President Clinton to lead the National Council on Disability. She provided strategic leadership to the organization in that role until 2002.

Click here to read Marca Bristo’s full obituary in the New York Times.

“Disability Angle” Helps Reporters Discover Better Stories

Media coverage of people with disabilities is regularly criticized as being too shallow, too stereotypical and too rare.

The National Center on Disability and Journalism is trying to change that with a new series of posts for journalists that offer story ideas and story angles for a wide range of disability coverage.

The series was created by Susan LoTempio, a journalist with a long career writing about, lecturing on and living with disability. She was an editor at The Buffalo News, and wrote a popular “Diversity at Work” column for the Poynter Institute that focused on disability. She is now a member of the NCDJ Advisory Board.

Her new project consists of a series of short posts that will be offered regularly through social media and archived on the NCDJ website. The posts will cover topics from education and health to politics, housing and transportation, all designed to help reporters do a better job of covering this important and growing segment of the country.

Follow us on Twitter @ASUNCDJ or on Facebook.

 

Susan LoTempio
Susan LoTempio, NCDJ Advisory Board Member

Who bears the cost of Flagstaff’s minimum wage increase? Caregivers, for one.

 For now, the impact of the state’s reimbursement law on the city’s finances is uncertain. Image: a photo of a piggy bank surrounded by loose coins.

For now, the impact of the state’s reimbursement law on the city’s finances is uncertain. Image: a photo of a piggy bank surrounded by loose coins. [Photo: Pixabay]
Under a law that took effect today, the state of Arizona can charge the city Flagstaff for added costs to state contracts that will occur as a result of the city’s newly-implemented minimum wage increase. Many care providers cannot shoulder this added cost, however, as they already struggle to pay their employees due to insufficient state funding for their services. Unable to pay more than minimum wage, many companies cannot keep a steady workforce of caregivers. And with fewer providers, there will be fewer opportunities for people with disabilities.

Click here to read this Cronkite News article online.

 

Disability studies program makes its debut at ASU

A poster at ASU publicizes the school's new disability studies program. The poster depicts a light bulb against a black background with the text, "Disability Studies, BA."
A poster at ASU publicizes the school’s new disability studies program. The poster depicts a light bulb against a black background with the text, “Disability Studies, BA.”

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.

How to Accurately and Inclusively Cover Mass Shootings

The image depicts a paper gun range shooting target with several bullet holes. (Image: Wikimedia)
The image depicts a paper gun range shooting target with several bullet holes. (Image: Wikimedia)

In response to the recent mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) has released a guide to help journalists “accurately and inclusively cover mass shootings.”

A full section of the NAHJ guide is dedicated to helping journalists cover gun violence without stigmatizing mental illness, or implying that a shooter’s mental illness caused or contributed to the violence. Among other recommendations, the NAHJ guide tells journalists that it is “inexcusable to mention the mental health issues the alleged killer might have been dealing with in an attempt to dismantle the reasoning behind this crime against humanity.” Additionally, the guide acknowledges that traumatic stories like the shooting in El Paso can be painful to cover and reminds reporters that it is always okay to reach out for help.

Click here to access How to Accurately and Inclusively Cover Mass Shootings on the NAHJ website.

U.S. Department of Transportation clarifies rules regarding air travel and service animals

DOT releases new guidelines for Service Dogs on flights
Image: A service dog walks with its owner through an airport terminal. (Photo: DoD News | Flickr)

Last Thursday, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) released a Final Statement of Enforcement Priorities Regarding Service Animals that clarifies rules governing service animals on flights for passengers, airlines, and other stakeholders involved in commercial air travel. The statement also specifies the department’s enforcement priorities, clarifies service animal species limitations, and lists the specific situations in which it is required for handlers to provide official documentation to the airline before boarding.

Access a summary of the new rules and enforcement priorities on the Department of Transportation website.

Navigating education options when your kid has a disability

Photo of the headline of the NYT Parenting article by Amy Silverman
A screenshot of Amy Silverman’s essay in NYT Parenting on choosing a school best suited for her daughter.

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.

You can read Silverman’s essay in the New York Times online by clicking here.

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/.

Mother asks Maricopa County prosecutors to release her daughter, a 19-year-old with mental illness, from Lower Buckeye Jail

Image: a screenshot of the Arizona Republic article about Gloria by reporter Uriel Garcia.
Image: a screenshot of the Arizona Republic article on Gloria by reporter Uriel J. Garcia. 

Valentina Gloria, a 19-year-old woman who has been diagnosed with several mental illnesses, has been detained at Maricopa County’s Lower Buckeye Jail for nearly six months, since February of this year. Now Vangelina Gloria, Valentina’s mother, is pleading for her teen daughter’s release.

Some say Valentina’s case exemplifies how our legal system criminalizes mental illness. Her predicament also highlights the ways in which our criminal justice system fails at providing quality mental healthcare to those who need it.

With support from Puente Arizona, a Phoenix-based migrant justice organization, Vangelina wrote a letter to Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery earlier this week, requesting that he drop the charges against Valentina and release her from police custody. According to azcentral.com and court documents, Valentina has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, paranoia, depression, schizoaffective disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. Vangelina believes that being in jail is exacerbating her daughter’s mental health condition.

How did Valentina end up in jail?

In December 2018, [Valentina] Gloria was being treated in a behavioral health unit at St. Luke’s Hospital, where she was accused and arrested for spitting and punching two different nurses; she was then charged with two counts of aggravated assault. Then in May, a county judge ruled Valentina was incompetent to face the charges in court and ordered her to stay in jail to receive treatment through the County’s Restoration to Competency Program. A previous Arizona Republic analysis of Maricopa County’s Restoration to Competency Program expressed concerns about the program’s inefficiency and questioned the quality of the jailhouse mental healthcare provided by the county.

Click here to read an azcentral.com article recounting Vangelina’s efforts to secure Valentina’s release.

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.