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profoundly yours the abledbody blog

  Break out the balloons! Sunday marks the 19th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the law that guarantees equal opportunity for the nearly 54 million Americans with disabilities. Signed by President George H.W. Bush in 1990, the ADA touches many areas of life, including employment. Hold on, did that balloon just deflate? I’ve just read the most recent employment numbers for the 13 million working-age Americans with disabilities. In June, only 23 percent of disabled people had jobs, vs. 72 percent of those without disabilities. This makes me wonder, is the nearly 20-year-old ADA really helping? The disabled unemployment rate – currently at 14.3 percent — has steadily declined since the passage of the ADA. Disability-friendly companies like IBM, Wal-Mart and Ernst & Young openly hire qualified people with disabilities, and from high-profile disability organizations like the U.S. Business Leadership Network. More employers are aware of disability, reasonable accommodation and ... keep reading »
The Supreme Court will soon decide on a high-profile case that centers around the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and will have implications for families of children with special needs and school districts across the country. In Forest Grove School District v. T.A., the parents of an Oregon high-school student, who is identified only as T.A., sought reimbursement for his $5,200-a-month private-school education, which they said was necessary after T.A. was found ineligible for special-education services. Under IDEA, disabled children are entitled to a “free appropriate public education” if they qualify. The law allows parents to seek public financing for private school if the public schools cannot adequately serve their children. While most of the nation’s six million special-education students attend public school, almost 90,000 students are in private placements — most of them with their public school’s agreement. The court must decide whether parents who unilaterally place their child in private school, ... keep reading »
In the last couple of years, U.S. corporations have been paying a lot more attention to the 54 million adults–nearly 20% of the nation’s population–that have mental or physical disabilities. And with 6.3% of American children between the ages of 5 and 15 suffering from a disability, companies are also focusing on working parents who care for them. It’s to their benefit: Employers suffer lost productivity when workers take time off to tend to the needs of affected children and adult offspring. According to BusinessWeek, in what have become the latest benefit programs, companies including PepsiCo, KPMG, JPMorgan Chase, and Northrop Grumman are offering services that range from parent networks to Web seminars to meetings with financial planners and educational consultants. In addition, a growing crop of advisers is emerging to guide families through the financial, medical, and educational labyrinth. Outside of corporate programs, specialty units such as Merrill Lynch’s ... keep reading »
Before I start blogging about the gadgets and devices that I discovered at the Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) conference in Orlando, I wanted to write about something I have been chewing on for the last 24 hours, which has ultimately altered the way I am going to approach my upcoming book, The Illustrated Guide to Assistive Technology (due out in late 2009). While there were lots of cool, new technologies exhibited at ATIA, I also had the chance to attend a half-dozen seminars that, when tied all together, painted a fantastic yet mostly under-reported picture of the future of assistive technology and the driving forces that will allow people with disabilities — whether they are born with one, have been injured during a war, or are experiencing the effects of aging — to live longer and more fruitful lives. Here are five trends that today are shaping the assistive ... keep reading »
Wednesday’s New York Times Well column, written by Tara Parker-Pope, talks about celebrities and mental health. It’s a timely topic, as Ms. Pope points out. Lately, celebrities from Britney Spears to Dennis Quaid have spoken out on behalf of medical conditions in an effort to raise awareness, which in turn, also makes good tabloid copy. As many of you might have picked up on, there’s more prevalance of disabilities on primetime TV, particularly non-verbal learning disabilities. Grey’s Anatomy (perhaps in an effort to boost lagging ratings) has just introduced a surgeon, Virginia Dixon, who has Asperger’s Syndrome — a form of high-functioning autism — and a popular resident, Izzie Stevens, may have a brain tumor. Boston Legal’s Denny Crane is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. Several other primetime characters are also suspect of falling somewhere along the autism spectrum, including Dr. Temperance Brennan of Bones, two children of Vic ... keep reading »
Americans with disabilities were given a voice last night with President-elect Obama’s victory speech in Chicago. “If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer…It’s the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled — Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America.” By including the disabled as a specific group, Obama has sent a message that he will put disability issues on the map. No other president of our time has done this ... keep reading »
A few hours ago I read about Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s first policy speech detailing how a McCain-Palin administration would help children with disabilities. In Pittsburgh on Friday, Palin dotted her speech with references to her six-month old son, Trig, who has Down syndrome. Oftentimes, these are the most powerful moments in her speeches, where mothers of special-needs children come to her rallies desperate for a remedy to the educational and health-care failures that have plagued them over and over again. Special-needs children are “especially close to my heart,” she tells the crowds. But Palin isn’t the answer. I repeat, she ain’t the quick fixin’ we’re all needin’ in the disability space. Many months ago, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama published on his website a detailed plan to support disabled Americans. The four-point plan is designed to improve educational opportunities, end discrimination, increase employment rates, and support independent living for Americans ... keep reading »

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