Beginning in January 2019, airline passengers can search the U.S. Department of Transportation website to determine an airlines’ track record of handling wheelchairs and other mobility devices. A new law sponsored by U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., requires air carriers to be more transparent, obliging them to provide monthly reports that are publicly accessible and which detail the number of wheelchairs, checked bags, and motorized scooters lost, broke, or mishandled during flights.
The law was actually passed two years ago, but the Department of Transportation delayed its implementation until Duckworth–a veteran and wheelchair user herself–urged U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao to force airlines to make the data — which they already collect each month — available to the public.
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.
The Ruderman Awards are the only journalism contest devoted exclusively to recognizing excellence in the coverage of people with disabilities and disability issues.
A major investigation by NPR into the hidden epidemic of sexual violence against people with intellectual disabilities won the top honor. In addition to NPR, journalists from eight organizations won awards, including The Dallas Morning News, ProPublica Illinois, WNYC, Kaiser Health News, KING-TV, Better Government Association/WBEZ and New Mobility.
The Katherine Schneider Medal is an honor recognizing disability journalism by small media outlets. The contest continues the work of Katherine Schneider, a retired clinical psychologist, who launched the first NCDJ awards program.
2018 Winners: Ruderman Awards for Excellence in Reporting on Disability
Joseph Shapiro is an NPR News Investigations correspondent who has covered disability stories since 1987. His recent investigations have exposed the overuse of seclusion and restraint for students with disabilities and the failure of government to enforce the rights of people with disabilities to receive long-term care at home.
Meg Anderson is a producer on the NPR investigations team, where she has contributed to award-winning work on maternal care, housing and immigration issues. Before earning her graduate degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, she became intimately familiar with the power of language and storytelling as a bilingual third grade teacher in Minneapolis.
Robert Little leads NPR's investigations team. He works with reporters, producers, and editors to develop investigative stories for all of NPR's broadcast and digital platforms, and also oversees partnerships with other non-profit news organizations doing high-level investigative work. Before joining NPR, Little spent 15 years as a reporter and editor at The Baltimore Sun. He's won numerous local and national journalism awards, including the George Polk Award for his investigative reporting in Iraq.
J. David McSwane is an investigative reporter for The Dallas Morning News, where he's focused on a variety of issues including the state's broken child welfare and healthcare systems. He is a recipient of the Peabody Award and Texas APME's top honor for investigative work, among others.
Andrew Chavez is a senior computational journalist on the data and interactives team at The Dallas Morning News. Before that, he worked at the Austin American-Statesman and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. He graduated from Texas Christian University in 2008.
3rd place – ProPublica Illinois “Stuck Kids”
Duaa Eldeib, Sandhya Kambhampati, Vignesh Ramachandran, David Eads
Duaa Eldeib is a reporter for ProPublica Illinois. Her work has examined the death of children in state care, the treatment of juveniles in adult court and police use of polygraphs in cases where suspects were wrongly convicted. Before joining ProPublica, she was a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. There, Eldeib and two colleagues were finalists for the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting in 2015.
Sandhya Kambhampati is a data reporter at ProPublica Illinois, focused on analyzing statistics, databases and public records to uncover structural issues and abuses. Most recently, she co-reported on the widespread inaccuracies in Cook County's property tax assessment system, which was a Pulitzer Prize Finalist for Local Reporting in 2018.
Vignesh Ramachandran is a producer at ProPublica Illinois, focused on digital production, design and editorial workflow. He is also interested in exploring issues surrounding race, criminal justice and technology. Before he joined ProPublica, he was a founding member of the Stanford Computational Journalism Lab and managing editor of Bay Area local news startup Peninsula Press (in partnership with SFGate and KQED).
David Eads is a news applications developer at ProPublica Illinois, where he combines journalism with software development. While in college David helped found the Invisible Institute, where he also maintained a blog about Chicago public housing called The View From The Ground. He’s also worked on visual journalism teams at the Chicago Tribune and, most recently, at NPR Visuals.
Audrey Quinn is a reporter at New York Public Radio, WNYC and host of the WNYC Studios podcast Aftermath. She also teaches documentary audio reporting at the NYU School of Journalism. Audrey’s investigative work has been awarded by the Newswomen’s Club of New York, the Fund for Investigative Journalism and The Nation Institute’s Investigative Fund and published by the New York Times and the Center for Investigative Reporting.
Aneri Pattani is a health reporter at The Philadelphia Inquirer, where she covers health issues in young people. In the past, she has worked as an assistant producer on the health team at WNYC, a James Reston reporting fellow on the health/science desk at The New York Times, and a reporting companion to columnist Nicholas Kristof in Liberia. She has also written for The Boston Globe, The Texas Tribune, CNBC, and The Hartford Courant.
Phoebe Wang is the assistant producer of Aftereffect, and a multidisciplinary artist based between Brooklyn, NY and Toronto, ON. Phoebe was a member of The Heart audio art project, and was most recently Senior Producer of The Shadows, a CBC fiction podcast. In 2018, she was awarded an NLJGA Excellence in Journalism Award and was named Best New Artist at the Third Coast International Audio Festival.
Christina Jewett, Senior Correspondent with the KHN enterprise team, covers end-of-life and acute care. She spent seven years with The Center for Investigative Reporting, where she worked on a series that uncovered widespread graft in Medicaid-funded drug rehab centers. At CIR she and colleagues won a George Polk Award for medical reporting.
Susannah Frame is the Chief Investigative Reporter at KING 5 Television. Her work has garnered many of the country’s top journalism awards, including the Peabody Award, a National Edward R. Murrow Award and the du-Pont Columbia Award. Her pursuit of the truth has resulted in many changes in public policy.
Taylor Mirfendereski is a special projects reporter at KING 5 in Seattle, specializing in digital storytelling and long-term investigations. Her reporting has exposed many wrongs, including the mistreatment of wounded soldiers and the violation of state and federal special education laws. Her work has garnered a number of awards, including a National Mark of Excellence Award, an Edward R. Murrow Award and various regional awards from the Society of Professional Journalists.
3rd place – WBEZ Chicago Public Media, Better Government Association “Trapped”
Alejandra Cancino, Odette Yousef
Alejandra Cancino is an investigative reporter at Better Government Association. She was a 2015-2016 journalism fellow at the The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research based at the University of Chicago. Prior to the Tribune she worked at The Palm Beach Post. Alejandra is the president of the Chicago Headline Club, the largest chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.
Odette Yousef is a WBEZ reporter covering immigration, race and class. In 2016, Odette was part of a team at WBEZ to win a National Edward R. Murrow Award for best Continuing Coverage of how local officials in Puerto Rico were sending drug addicts to unlicensed therapy groups in Chicago, with false promises of professional treatment. She has contributed to NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered, PRI’s The World and WNYC’s The Takeaway.
Kenny Salvini is a writer, advocate and community organizer living in Sumner, Washington. An elite athlete who became paralyzed from the neck down after a snow skiing accident in 2004, he turned to writing to help piece back together his fractured identity. He is active in the paralysis community and in 2013, he launched The Here and Now Project, a social support network for paralysis survivors and their families in the Northwest.
Journalist and NCDJ board member Amy Silverman discusses the complexities of disability terminology and opens up about her experience updating our Disability Language Style Guide, a task she calls “one of the toughest assignments of my career.”
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.
In a first-person essay for PublicSource, Sarah Wood writes about a moment of levity she shared with her husband Charlie, who died from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in October 1997. Read Sarah Wood’s story here.
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.
One in four Americans is disabled, according to a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey released Thursday “At some point in their lives, most people will either have a disability or know someone who has a one,” Coleen Boyle, director of CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, said in a written statement. Read Binghui Huang’s story here.
Evangeline Taylor-Hermes earned a full-ride scholarship from the Flinn Foundation to study medical research at Arizona State University. She says being a patient herself inspired her to help others. Read Evangeline’s Taylor-Hermes’s story here.