‘Glee’ Star Tapped For President’s Disability Committee

From Disability Scoop, By Michelle Diament

November 7, 2011

President Barack Obama is soliciting advice on disability issues from an actress with Down syndrome who has a regular role on Fox’s “Glee.”

Obama said he plans to appoint Lauren Potter, 21, to the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities. She is well-known for playing cheerleader Becky Jackson on the hit television show “Glee.”

The committee Potter will join is made up of 21 citizens and 13 federal representatives who are tasked with advising the president and the secretary of health and human services on issues pertaining to Americans with intellectual disabilities.

Potter rose to fame in disability circles in 2009 when she first appeared on “Glee.” The actress had recently graduated from high school when she impressed the show’s creators who decided to bring her back for additional episodes.

The notoriety from “Glee” led Potter to become involved nationally as a self-advocate, speaking out against use of the word “retard” and bullying of people with disabilities.

In addition to Potter, Obama also appointed Julie Petty to the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities. A self-advocate from Fayetteville, Ark., Petty is a past president of Self Advocates Becoming Empowered who recently testified before Congress on disability employment issues.

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Video Of Judge Beating Girl With Cerebral Palsy Sparks Outrage

From Disability Scoop, By Shaun Heasley

November 3, 2011

A Texas judge is under investigation after a video of him beating his daughter who has cerebral palsy went viral on the internet.

The seven-minute video, which was recently posted by Hillary Adams, shows her father, Aransas County Court-at-Law Judge William Adams, striking the then-16-year-old with a belt repeatedly as punishment after the girl illegally downloaded music from the internet.

Now, 23, Hillary Adams says she posted the video seven years after the incident occurred because she feared the consequences for her, her mother and her sister if she took the video public while still living with her father.

In his position as a judge, Hillary Adams’ father does hear cases involving children. Since the video hit the Web, it’s had more than 1.6 million views on YouTube and outraged individuals from around the world have posted on Facebook and contacted local officials calling for action.

For his part, Judge Adams says he did nothing more than discipline his child, reports The Today Show.

Read full article and watch footage.

Utah man who inspired "Rain Man" to be honored

By AP, November 3, 2011

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The Salt Lake City man who inspired the film "Rain Man" will be honored with the naming of a new award for increasing awareness of disabilities in society.

Mayor Ralph Becker says the legacy of Kim Peek will be recognized during a ceremony Thursday night.

The Peek Award for Disability in Media will annually honor a person who has helped shape the perception of disabilities.

Peek, who died in 2009, spent 20 years promoting respect for disabled people and improved educational opportunities for children with special needs.

Temple Grandin, the subject of a recent award-winning biopic, will be the first award recipient.

Screenwriter Barry Morrow will present the award and donate the Oscar statuette he won for "Rain Man" to be permanently displayed in the city.

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TV Characters With Disabilities Few And Far Between

From Disability Scoop, By Shaun Heasley

September 29, 2011

Less than 1 percent of characters on primetime network television have disabilities and their numbers are on the decline, a new report indicates.

Max Burkholder plays Max Braverman on NBC's "Parenthood" one of five characters on network television this season with a disability. (Mitchell Haaseth/NBC)

Of the 647 characters appearing regularly this year on scripted programs on ABC, CBS, The CW, Fox and NBC, just five have disabilities. That’s down by one from last year.

The findings come from an annual report on minority representation on television released Wednesday by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. It’s based on an analysis of the 91 scripted shows that networks have announced for the 2011-2012 season.

“People with disabilities represent our country’s largest minority,” said Christine Bruno, co-chair of the Tri-Union I AM PWD campaign to promote inclusion of people with disabilities in entertainment, which helped conduct the report. “We look to our stages and screens not only for entertainment, but to hold a mirror up to society. Our industry has a responsibility to its artists and the viewing public to accurately reflect what we see on our streets and in our communities.”

The characters with disabilities that are represented regularly on television this season include Max Braverman on NBC’s “Parenthood” who has Asperger’s syndrome, a character on Fox’s “Glee” who uses a wheelchair, the lead on Fox’s “House” who uses a cane, a character on CBS’s “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” who uses prosthetic legs and a woman on Fox’s “Raising Hope” who has Alzheimer’s disease.

Three recurring characters with disabilities are also expected to appear in roles on “Glee” and “Family Guy” on Fox as well as ABC’s “Private Practice.” But that represents just half as many recurring characters with disabilities as last year, the report found.

Cable television fared somewhat better, with at least 10 regular and four recurring characters with disabilities. They included individuals with everything from Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and hearing impairments to cancer.

Notably, the report indicates that in contrast to network television, many of the characters on cable are portrayed by actors with disabilities themselves.

“This is evidence of positive change,” Bruno said. “More cable producers and writers than ever before have demonstrated a commitment to authentic casting and accurate storylines. The success of these programs reflects the evolving attitudes and appetites of viewers, and puts those who create them ahead of the curve, creatively and financially.”

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Online Bachelor’s Degree To Cater To Students With Disabilities

From Disability Scoop, By Michelle Diament

August 29, 2011

A first-of-its-kind program launching in January is designed to make obtaining a four-year degree more attainable for people with developmental disabilities.

The bachelor’s degree program from Sage Colleges in Albany, N.Y. includes a traditional 120 credit hours, but features small classes, extra supports and a modified course schedule to meet the needs of students with autism and other special needs.

All class instructors will be trained to work with students with disabilities and coursework will be presented in a variety of ways to accommodate different learning styles, officials at the school say.

What’s more, students in the program known as the Achieve Degree will each have personal support from a behavior analyst.

The program, which will focus on computer science, will run year-round, with six, eight-week sessions allowing students to juggle fewer courses at a time while still completing a rigorous academic program.

“By allowing students to focus on one or two topics per term, faculty and mentors are able to work closely with students to provide the sorts of feedback and interaction that facilitate learning,” said Terry Weiner, provost at Sage. “Further, by eliminating long periods of inactivity such as summer break, students are able to stay focused in ‘study mode’ and not risk losing valuable intellectual connections and study skills that must then be regained, slowing forward momentum toward the degree.”

Beyond pure academics — which Sage officials indicate will be on par with the college’s typical standards — the program will also focus on life skills. Students will take one credit courses to learn about everything from study skills to personal finance and interpersonal communication.

But the unique approach does not come cheap. Tuition for the first year is set at $27,000, with increases for each of the three subsequent years as the course load increases, Sage officials say.

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NCLD/Y Introduces New Internship Guide for Youth with Disabilities:


Completing an internship is an ideal way for young people with and without disabilities to prepare for their career field of choice. In its most recent publication, Internships: The On-Ramp to Employment, A Guide for Students with Disabilities to Getting and Making the Most of an Internship, NCLD/Y guides young people through the step-by-step process of finding, applying for, participating in and even evaluating an internship. Providing tools necessary to maintain a competitive advantage over fellow job seekers, this guide leads young people through activities focused on career exploration, interview and resume building, goal setting, networking, and more to prepare them to successfully complete an internship and transition toward employment. In addition, the guide includes information and tips of specific relevance to youth with disabilities, including finding accessible housing, navigating the transportation system, disclosing a disability, and employing a personal care attendant.

Click here to download Internships: The On-Ramp to Employment, A Guide for Students with Disabilities to Getting and Making the Most of an Internship.

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month!

Congress designated each October as National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). This effort to educate the American public about issues related to disability and employment actually began in 1945, when Congress enacted a law declaring the first week in October each year "National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week." In 1962, the word "physically" was removed to acknowledge the employment needs and contributions of individuals with all types of disabilities. In 1988, Congress expanded the week to a month and changed the name to "National Disability Employment Awareness Month." This year’s NDEAM theme from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Policy is “Talent Has No Boundaries: Workforce Diversity Includes People with Disabilities.”

Man with CP Climbs Yosemite's Peak "El Capitan"

From (September 20, 2010)

A California man has become the first person with cerebral palsy to climb to the top of Yosemite National Park’s El Capitan.

Stephen Wampler, 42, reached the peak Friday evening after pulling himself up the 3,000 foot granite formation for six days using a specially designed pull-up bar to hoist himself. It took Wampler about 20,000 pull-ups, each one bringing him four to six inches higher, to scale the monolith.

Wampler trained for more than a year before attempting the climb, which he took on as a fund-raising effort for his foundation. The Stephen J. Wampler Foundation sponsors camp experiences for kids with physical disabilities.

Wampler is not the first person with a disability to conquer El Capitan. In 1989, Mark Wellman became the first person with paraplegia to reach the top.

Congress Removes "R-word" from Federal Legislation

From the Arc of the United States (September 23, 2010)

Acting unanimously, the House of Representatives last night approved a bill to remove the terms “mentally retarded” and “mental retardation” from federal education, health and labor laws. The measure, called “Rosas’ Law” in honor of a Maryland girl who has Down syndrome, has already passed the Senate and is expected to be signed into law by President Obama.

“This law is about families fighting for the respect and dignity of their loved ones,” said Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), one of the measure’s sponsors. “This change will have a positive effect on more than 6 million Americans.” She said the law will make the language of federal law consistent with that used by the Centers for Disease Control and the United Nations, and will not affect any services, rights, responsibilities or educational opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities.

Rosa’s law substitutes the terms “intellectual disability” and “individual with an intellectual disability” for the earlier terms, now considered outdated and stigmatizing by many self-advocates and their families. It does not cover entitlement programs, which include SSI, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

Peter V. Berns, CEO of The ARC of the United States, hailed the measure’s passage as “another historic milestone in our movement.”

“We understand that language plays a crucial role in how people with intellectual disabilities are perceived and treated in society,” Berns said in a statement. “Changing how we talk about people with disabilities is a critical step in promoting and protecting their basic civil and human rights.”

Kansas High School to Allow Students with Disabilities on Homecoming Ballot After Student-led Protest

From  Lawrence , KS Journal-World (September 7, 2010)

Students with disabilities will be allowed on the homecoming court ballot at a Kansas high school, administrators now say, after it became clear they were excluded from the ritual for more than a decade.

The issue came to light when a group of students noticed that their friend Owen Phariss, a senior with Down syndrome, was not included on the homecoming court ballot at Free State High School in Lawrence, Kans. even though they lobbied on his behalf. Soon enough the students realized that Phariss was not alone. As many as nine others with disabilities were also left off the ballot.

It’s unclear why those with disabilities weren’t included, but the practice appears to have been in place since the school opened in 1997. The school principal who has been on the job for three years said he was unaware of the policy until he was notified by students recently and presented with a petition signed by over 800 people in support of ending the practice.

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Teen with Down Syndrome Lands Role in Commuinty Production of "High School Musical"

From the Colorodo Springs Gazette ( August 25,2010)

When director Jacki Mangan saw Brenden Van Bruwaene’s audition for “High School Musical,” she turned to her partners and said, “You know he’s going to be in the show, right?”

It was partly the 14-year-old’s enthusiasm and winning smile. But Mangan was also impressed that a child with Down Syndrome — a genetic condition shared by some 400,000 Americans and associated with some cognitive impairment — was so eager to be on the stage that he’d prepared a song and a monologue.

“He’s not the first special needs kid we’ve had in a show,” said Mangan, who’s been involved with the Front Range Theatre Company (formerly the Castle Rock Players) for eight years. Now Van Bruwaene has woven himself into the cast with his energy, enthusiasm, and his motivational speeches at the ends of rehearsals. (“This will be the funnest thing ever!”)

“He’s always loved to sing and dance,” said his mother, Carrie Van Bruwaene. “He’s acted in school productions and attended Castle Rock Kid’s Stage” (a theater camp for children).

But “High School Musical” took Brenden to another level of excitement, because it’s been his favorite musical ever since he saw the movie on the Disney Channel. “I love this show a lot,” he said.

Mangan said it shows at rehearsals.

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University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Opens New Dorm for Students with Severe Physical Disabilities

From Chicago Tribune (August 18,2010)

  A fully accessible college dorm opening this week is believed to be the most user-friendly in the country for students with physical disabilities, offering the tools to transition to independence.

Dorm rooms at the new facility at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign come complete with lifts for residents to get in and out of bed and use the bathroom, not to mention a pager system to call for assistance any time. Light switches and thermostats are reachable from a wheelchair and roll-in showers make life a little easier with built-in seats.

But what’s truly innovative, university officials say, is that rooms for 17 students with disabilities are on the first floor of a dorm that will house hundreds of other students. Traditionally, students with disabilities lived separately from their typically developing peers.

Aside from the accessibility of their new digs, students with disabilities who live in the dorm will also learn how to hire and work with personal assistants to ease their transition to life after college. In the meantime, they’ll get about five hours daily with one of the personal assistants from the dorm program who will all be fellow university students, reports the Chicago Tribune Click here to read the full article

IEL Participates in Celebration of American's With Disabilities Act

July 26, 2010 marks the 20th anniversary of the enactment of federal disability civil rights legislation known as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which bars discrimination based on disability in employment, public and private sector services, transportation, and recreation. The ADA also codified disability public policy to promote inclusion, integration, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency for all youth and adults with disabilities. Over the past two decades, federal laws, programs, and services have been updated and aligned with the ADA.

To mark the historic nature of the ADA, organizations and government agencies are hosting a multitude of celebrations in Washington, DC and across the country. The Institute for Educational Leadership’s (IEL) Center for Workforce Development (CWD) is helping mark this anniversary by cosponsoring and participating in a number of these celebrations. Learn more...

Call for Stories: ADA Generation Putting Together A Book - Add your story

From  Voices of the ADA  Generation, (August 6, 2010)

This year, the disability community is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), civil rights law that protects the rights of disabled people. Growing up in a post-ADA America has meant that many of us have had access to more opportunities than previous generations. We know if we had been born in 1967 instead of 1987 our lives would look completely different. We know the history of our people is tainted by eugenics, ableism, lack of access and the sting of low expectations. We recognize the work that has been done by disability movements over the last century to make the current lives we live possible. We are proud to be members of this vibrant, breathing, community.

Although the struggle continues, we recognize that the realities of disabled people look vastly different in many ways. With this in mind, we are requesting proposals for chapters in a book-length anthology to document this legacy and record the stories of disabled young people talking about what it is to grow up with a disability in this day and age.

Part One of our anthology will attempt to explore how a new generation experiences these age old challenges, affording a chance to assess how far we have really come. Part Two of our anthology asks disabled young people to identify what our struggle looks like now.

Click here for more information on submitting your story..


New Ad Campaign and Website Ask the Question "Who is Norm?"

From I am Norm, (July 29.2010.)

We come from diverse backgrounds and places, but we share some common ideas. We believe that diversity makes us stronger, and that discrimination breaks us down. We know that hatred is a learned behavior, and that we can all strive to rise above fear and prejudice. We understand firsthand what we gain when everyone is included in our schools and our communities, and how much we lose when anyone is left out. We are united in our commitment to a world where people of various abilities have equal opportunities.

The youth who met that January wanted to see a change. In just one weekend, we designed a campaign in hopes of bringing about that change. Through this campaign, we hope to raise awareness about inclusion, provide opportunities for youth to share their ideas about inclusion, and promote inclusive practices in schools and communities. We want to encourage the acceptance, respect, and full inclusion of all youth, including those with disabilities, in schools and communities.

We think that people should not have to fit a mold in order to fit into a classroom or a community. We want the world to abandon its perceptions of normalcy, and to learn to embrace and appreciate diversity among individuals. We want to show people to see that real inclusion can only happen by bringing together diverse groups of people and ensuring that everyone is supported, understood, and respected.

We are an initiative designed by young people to promote the acceptance, respect, and full inclusion of youth with disabilities in schools and communities. Our work is driven by a Youth Inclusion Taskforce and supported by a coalition of youth-serving partner organizations.

Learn more.. Hosts "100 Days to the ADA"

On April 17, 2010, Disability. gov launched 100 Days to the ADA, a countdown to the 20th Anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. During this period, will explore one of our nation’s most important civil rights achievements, including ramifications of the ADA, historical points leading up to its creation and how supporting individuals with disabilities supports ALL Americans.

The countdown will be available on's Blog, an award-winning federal government Web site that provides comprehensive information about disability-related programs, services, laws and benefits. The site is managed by the Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy, in partnership with 21 other federal agencies. Click here to access the blog:

TASH Launches Video Series Commemorating 20th Anniversary of ADA

Visit  the TASH website

Americans with Disabilities Act - 20th Anniversary

Established on July 26, 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is among the chief pieces of civil rights legislation in American history, legitimizing the rights of millions of Americans and prohibiting discrimination based on disability. Now, two decades after its passage, TASH and others in the disability community are celebrating this landmark legislation and calling attention to the critical work ahead.

Join TASH as we interview those at the forefront of the disability rights movement in a special ADA 20th Anniversary Video Series. Every two weeks, TASH will release a video interview from a leading figure in the movement. Check back often as we update this page with additional videos and other resources.