The State of Learning Disabilities: A New Report

Advocacy report on learning disabilities - awareness

This report, from the National Center for Learning Disabilities, is now available for reading and can be downloaded.

The National Center for Learning Disabilities, a leading advocacy group, just came out with a report, The State of Learning Disabilities: Understanding the 1 in 5. That figure, one in five, or 20 percent, refers to the number of students who have a learning disability, such as attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or dyslexia. This population is very much misunderstood; all too often, these children are (mis)labeled as lazy or unmotivated or just not as smart as their peers. More often than not, these labels are untrue. Not only are these students at risk of failing school, but also they all too often struggle finding or keeping employment and are disproportionately represented in the prison population.

Despite one in five students having some sort of learning disability, according to this report, only one in 16 receive proper special-education services with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and only one in 50 receive services under Section 504.  This detailed report covers the following:

  • The neuroscience, stigma, and federal laws concerning these students
  • How to identify struggling students
  • Supporting academic success
  • The social, emotional, and behavioral challenges these students face and pose
  • Issues regarding the transitioning to life after high school
  • Recommended policies.

The report provides summaries for each state, with “key data points and comparisons to national averages in several areas such as inclusion in general education classrooms, disciplinary incidents and dropout rates for students with learning and attention issues.”

The bibliographic citation for this report is:

Horowitz, S. H., Rawe, J., & Whittaker, M. C. (2017). The State of Learning Disabilities: Understanding the 1 in 5. New York: National Center for Learning Disabilities.

Voting: Your Right & Your Independence

American flags symbolize the importance of the vote voting for independence & self-advocacy among people with disabilities

“Election Night at Rockefeller Plaza” Photo by: Marco Verch, in the Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons

 

Voting. It’s the right of every American citizen. Voting: It’s your right. Participating in U.S. democracy is also a unique chance to self-advocate and express one’s independence. Both of these are core values at Advancing Opportunities as well; they are at the heart of our mission and credo. All too often, however, people with disabilities find themselves excluded from this critically important process. Fortunately, here in New Jersey, information and resources on voting are available to every individual with a disability.

Voting - Its Your Right

This brochure has information to help New Jersey voters. It was developed by the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School – Boggs Center, in collaboration with Disability Rights New Jersey and the New Jersey Council on Developmental Disabilities.

 

Although the November general elections receive the greatest press (and social media) coverage, it is the primary election when the two major parties, the Democrats and Republicans nominate their candidates for the general election in November. These individuals represent a wide variety of views on important issues not only at the national level, but also (and sometimes more important) the state, county, and municipal levels. Information on the positions of the gubernatorial (in New Jersey) and other candidates are available on this special page.

 

Disability Rights NJ VotingDisability Rights New Jersey is New Jersey’s designated protection and advocacy system for people with disabilities pursuant to federal statutes intended to protect the legal, civil, and human rights of people with disabilities. The organization reminds us that people with a disability have the right to vote independently and in private. In addition, both the polling place and the machines must, by federal and state law, be fully accessible. Poll workers have been trained to offer voters with disabilities the assistance they need, but they cannot enter the voting booth or recommend a candidate. Voters with a disability may also bring a friend, family member, or agency worker to help out.

Although all voters should receive a paper sample ballot, one can also look up this information online at BallotpediaThe Alliance Center for Independence in New Jersey has many other excellent resources on its page should these be needed. General New Jersey voting information is available on the NJ Department of State website.

On Primary Election Day, June 6, 2017, Disability Rights New Jersey will have attorneys available by telephone to answer your questions concerning any disability-related voting problem you might experience. Call 800-922-7233 or e-mail Mciccone@drnj.org between 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. Disability Rights New Jersey is New Jersey’s designated protection and advocacy system for people with disabilities pursuant to federal statutes intended to protect the legal, civil, and human rights of people with disabilities.

I Voted Sticker

Oh, yes, the November general election. The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), “a convener, connector, and catalyst for change, increasing the political and economic power of people with disabilities,” has set up July 17 through 21 as National Disability Voter Registration Week, the focus of its Rev Up! campaign. More information on that and Crip the Vote will be featured in a future article in this space.

A Second Look at “Uniquely Human”

The book Uniquely Human argues that autistic behaviors are human behaviors.
We feature many of our articles in “Celebrating Individual Abilities” on our new agency blog, which also contains announcements of Advancing Opportunities, along with brief items of disability news that are not sufficiently detailed for this blog. In addition, we reviewed Uniquely Human in this space last year. To see it again, with an update on Dr. Barry Prizant’s brief speech at the United Nations on World Autism Day, March 31, please check out the article on our newly rebuilt and much-improved website, as we continue our blog series on autism appreciation and awareness with a review of Dr. Prizant’s excellent book, “Uniquely Human.”

A Brief Look at the Intersection of Women’s History, Black History, and Disability

The International Women's Day logo - Be bold for change

International Women’s Day 2017: #BeBoldForChange https://www.internationalwomensday.com/

 

 

International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month: In the US and most countries around the world, women with disabilities have faced multiple hardships in the form of reduced access and sometimes outright discrimination in education, housing, and employment – both as women and as people with a disability. In addition, women of color often face a third challenge. A blog writer took a look back on 14 remarkable women of color of the past who have made powerful differences for the present and the future.

As February was Black History Month and March is Women’s History Month, we’ll examine the intersection of the two through the lens of disability. Many notable African American women made lasting contributions despite their disabilities. It is important, however, to “see the person, not the disability.” The late Australian comedienne and disability advocate coined the term inspiration porn in protest that people with disabilities should be objects of inspiration to make non-disabled people feel good.

Social worker and disability advocate Vilissa Thompson in her excellent blog “Ramp Your Voice” has compiled a list of important works and other resources of these individuals.

 

Harriet Tubman black woman disabled disability

Harriet Tubman (1822–1913)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harriet Tubman (1822–1913), abolitionist known for her work on the Underground Railroad, suffered epileptic seizures. Because of her short stature, she was seen among slave owners as disabled, a low risk of escape.

 

 

Fannie Lou Hamer (1917–1977), Civil Rights Activist black woman disabled with a disability from polio

Fannie Lou Hamer (1917–1977), Civil Rights Activist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fannie Lou Hamer (1917–1977), was a civil rights activist who suffered physical disabilities from childhood polio.

 

 

Maya Angelou (1928–2014), laureate poet

Maya Angelou (1928–2014), was laureate poet and wrote a series of memoirs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maya Angelou (1928–2014), laureate poet, found a voice in her memoirs and poetry. As a child, she developed selective mutism after a sexual assault.

 

 

Wilma Rudolph (1940–1994) track Olympian with physical disability

Wilma Rudolph (1940–1994), track and field Olympian

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wilma Rudolph (1940–1994) overcame childhood paralysis from the polio virus to become a track and field Olympian, the fastest woman in the world.

Honorable mention goes to Johnnie Lacy (1937-2010), an African American woman who from her wheelchair tirelessly advocated for the disability community. She has been recognized by the United African-Asian Abilities Club and the Temple University Disability Studies newspaper. (No copyright free photo of Ms. Lacy is available.)

Meet Edward V. Roberts, Disability Advocate

ed-roberts-78th-birthday-backup-6291986716819456-hp

This is the wonderful doodle that appeared on the Google search page on January 23, in honor of the birthday of Edward V. Roberts.

Born on this day, Edward Verne Roberts was an American activist. The first student with multiple severe disabilities to attend the University of California, Berkeley, Edward was a pioneering disability advocate. A campus at the prestigious university has been named in his honor. In 2010, he was recognized in a state day in California. In addition, his wheelchair has been preserved at the Smithsonian, “in recognition of obstacles overcome.”

Google featured this little known but important figure in today’s doodle. They also provide an online video and exposition dedicated to Roberts and the history of the disability rights movement.

“So I decided to be an artichoke—
prickly on the outside but with a
big heart.”

 

In addition to the informative links above that tell of the life of Edward Roberts, UC Berkeley has archived his oral history.

 

It Is Important to Reflect on Our Work to Continue Serving Our Individuals with Disabilities.

lady-with-laptop


Important to Ask Ourselves…

For those of us who are direct-support professionals, in residential and respite care, at the end of the day, it is important to reflect on our work by asking ourselves the following:

  • How did I help this individual?
  • What did I do to enrich his life?
  • How did I acknowledge her accomplishments?
  • How did I ensure his voice was heard and that he had the opportunity to make his own decisions?

In addition to asking these questions of ourselves to serve others, it is important to document the answers on reports on the progress toward their ISP goals! This last consideration can be critical for an agency to continue to receive funds… to keep on serving their consumers with disabilities.

The Genius of Braille: A Real Eye-Opener

Louis Braille was a disability advocate for the blind.

Louis Braille (1809-1852)

In 1809, on January 4, Louis Braille was born.  At age 5, the curious boy was blinded in an accident with one of his father’s tools.  However, Louis refused to let his disability stop him from getting the most of life.  As a teen at the Royal Institute for Blind Youth in Paris, he self-advocated by developing the system of writing that, to this day, bears his name.  In his honor, the 4th of January has been declared World Braille Day.

Braille’s alphabet consists of a series cells containing, in a 2 x 3 grid, as a raised dot or a blank space. Though there are only six dots or spaces, they can be combined in 64 different ways, allowing for other characters, including letters from the alphabets of other languages.  In other words, braille is not a language, but a code for transcribing many other languages.  Nowadays, there are two main types of braille: Grade 1 and Grade 2.  Grade 1 is a functional letter-by-letter transcription of text.  Grade 2 uses combinations of letters in a single braille character, allowing for much shorter documents; it is the most widely accepted form of braille.

braille-alphabet-2

 Br The basic braille alphabet consists of cells of six dots, raised in a variety of combinations and permutations. There are also symbols for punctuation and letter combinations.

Braille provides access to written communication for blind people, in other words, accessibility beyond physical means such as access ramps.  In other words, braille is a form of inclusion, allowing everyone to participate in an important aspect of society, regardless of their disability.  In creating the braille system for reading and writing for the blind, Louis Braille was advocate and self-advocate for people with disabilities par excellence.  And for his part in developing the braille writer, Louis Braille was also one of the great assistive technology specialists of all time.

 

 

brailler-4

The braille writer creates the raised dots for braille text rather than printing individual letters or characters. As with the typewriter, the basic layout of the braille writer has been incorporated in modern assistive technology braille input devices.

“Access to communication … is access to knowledge, and that is vitally important for us if we [the blind] are not to go on being despised or patronized by condescending sighted people. We do not need pity, nor do we need to be reminded we are vulnerable. We must be treated as equals—and communication is the way this can be brought about.”

—Louis Braille