A new beginning for a Fairfax County girl who has just received a new prosthetic arm that was designed and 3-D printed by George Mason University college students.
Isabella Nicola, 10, has been raised by her mother, Andrea Cabrera, to never say never.
“My mom’s phrase is, when you say ‘I can’t do it’, it’s ‘I can’t do it yet,'” said Nicola.
The fifth grader signed up to play violin in the strings program at Island Creek Elementary in Franconia last year, even though she knew it’d be a little difficult.
She was born with an incomplete left arm. Her music teacher fashioned a makeshift prosthetic arm out of PVC to hold her bow. Then he a called his alma mater and got the engineering department on board.
But now, Isabella has a bright pink, custom-made, brand new prosthetic arm that allows her to hold and move the bow properly.
“I have to say thank you to them because without them I couldn’t really be able to play,” said Nicola.
The five students have been working as a team for more than a year on their capstone senior project. It was designed, 3D printed, and pieced together by five George Mason University bioengineering students, Yasser Alhindi, the lead, Abdul Gouda, Mona Elkholy, Ella Novoselsky and Racha Salha.
What do you see when you look at Carol Burnett? How about Rosie O’Donnell or Margaret Cho? As for Maysoon Zayid, an actress who’s butted up against thousands of closed doors, she saw beauty. The beauty of opportunity.
“I realized that comedy was my way into Hollywood,” said Zayid, a stand-up comedian set to debut her new television series, Can Can. “I lucked out because I’m funny.”
Zayid galloped after her acting dream once she earned her degree in theater from Arizona State University … but it was a rocky start.
“I realized very quickly that casting directors were not taking me seriously because of my disability, cerebral palsy,” said Mansoon, in an interview with DIVERSEability Magazine. “I also became acutely aware of the fact that I didn’t see people who looked like me, a multiple minority, on TV.”
Born and raised in Cliffside, New Jersey, Zayid is of Palestinian descent.
As an advocate for equal rights for people with disabilities, she’s a shot in the arm to others who continue to face closed doors.
“People who have CP or other disabilities have often thanked me for being shameless about my shaking,” Zayid said. “Parents of kids with disabilities who are not disabled themselves tend to be inspired by how influential my father was in my life. They say it gives them hope that if they, too, are a good parent their child will thrive. People who feared disability seem relieved to be able to laugh about it while learning to be more inclusive. Some people just laugh because it’s funny. They are not learning, they are not inspired, and that is totally fine by me.”
ABC agreed to pick up Can Can last year—Zayid is still waiting for the word on when it will air.
“I am creator writer, star and producer on Can Can,” she said. “I definitely don’t want to direct myself. It is a comedy series that revolves around a woman who happens to have CP balancing work, family and relationships. That’s all I can tell you for now. Stay tuned!”
You might learn a lot by watching Can Can, or you might learn nothing at all but simply laugh out loud. Either way, Zayid will be pleased.
“I’m here to make people laugh, not to preach. If they learn to be better people in the process, that’s great, too,” the 45-year-old comedian said.
Zayid started her acting career spending two years on the popular soap opera As the World Turns, and she has also made guest appearances on Law & Order, NBC Nightly News and ABC’s 20/20.
During her early acting experiences, she found both her disability and her ethnicity repeatedly limiting her advancement. Zayid then turned to stand-up and began appearing at New York’s top clubs, including Carolines on Broadway, Gotham Comedy Club, and Stand Up NY, where she tackled some serious topics, such as terrorism and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
She co-founded the New York Arab-American Comedy Festival in 2003 with comedian Dean Obeidallah. Held annually in New York City, the festival showcases Arab-American comics, actors, playwrights and filmmakers.
In late 2006, Zayid debuted her one-woman show, Little American Whore, at Los Angeles’ Comedy Central Stage; it was produced and directed by Kathy Najimy. In 2008, the show’s screenplay was chosen for the Sundance Screenwriters Lab. Production began with Maysoon as the lead in the fall of 2009.
Zayid usually tours by herself or as a special guest on the Axis of Evil Comedy Tour. She also co-hosts the radio show Fann Majnoon (Arabic for “crazy art”) with Obeidallah.
Zayid can be seen in the 2013 documentary, The Muslims Are Coming!, which follows a group of Muslim-American stand-up comedians touring the United States in an effort to counter Islamophobia. The documentary also features various celebrities such as Jon Stewart, David Cross, Janeane Garofalo and Rachel Maddow.
Cerebral palsy is extremely difficult, even torturous, so how does one make it funny?
Here’s Zayid in one of her stand-up routines, talking about getting passed over for the part of—can you guess?—a person with cerebral palsy.
“I went racing to the head of the theater department, crying hysterically like someone shot my cat, to ask her why, and she said it was because they didn’t think I could do the stunts,” Zayid said, with a quizzical, comical look. “I said, ‘Excuse me, if I can’t do the stunts than neither can the character!’”
Welcome to Zayid’s world, where one’s misfortune can be funny. It’s okay.
Audiences probably feel for her—“It’s exhausting,” she says of the constant shaking. But soon enough, they’re laughing from the gut up as they become more familiar—and following Maysoon’s lead, more comfortable—with her condition.
That’s key. Her shows have a family feel. Out of decency, respect and, yes, fear, folks do not laugh about a disability until they’re given permission to by an insider.
Here’s how Zayid-the-insider introduced herself at one show in San Francisco: “I don’t want anyone in this room to feel bad for me,” she said, scanning the crowd with her trademark goofy gaze. “Because at some point in your life, you’ve dreamt of being disabled. Come on a journey with me: It’s Christmas Eve. You’re at the mall. You’re driving around in circles looking for parking, and what do you see? Sixteen empty handicapped spaces. And you’re like, ‘God, can’t I just be a little disabled?’”
Of people with disabilities, Zayid says, “We are not happy snowflake angel babies. We grow up, have relationships, experience a range of emotions, and deal with things like chronic pain. Not everybody in the disability community wants to be ‘cured.’ We can have multiple disabilities and also be multiple minorities. Disability intersects with every community.”
She points out that about 20 percent of Americans have a disability. “Disability doesn’t discriminate—you can become part of this group at any time,” she said. “We are 20 percent of the population, and disability rights are human rights.”
So, if you haven’t already, put Can Can on your radar as a must-see show. It’s possible you might learn a little something, but one thing is sure—you’ll definitely laugh.
While you’re in town for the 2019 Disability:IN 22nd Annual National Conference & Expo July 15–18, 2019, check out some of the fine food that Chicago is so well known for. We’ve assembled a list of several accessible restaurants, as well as shopping, other necessities, and the transportation to get you there.
All these businesses are within easy reach of the Disability:IN host hotel, the Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile, located on downtown Michigan Avenue. This popular area of Michigan Avenue offers much to see and do, with fine hotels, restaurants, shopping, art, music, architecture, museums and parks.
136 N. La Salle St
Elevator use, WC-accessible seating, accessible restroom, lobby entry fully accessible
980 North Michigan Ave
No steps, WC-accessible seating, accessible restroom, lobby entry fully accessible
Chicago Cut Steakhouse
300 N LaSalle
Elevator use, WC-accessible seating, accessible restroom, lobby entry fully accessible
668 N Wells St
No steps, WC-accessible seating, accessible restroom, lobby entry fully accessible
A mother from South Brunswick, N.J. shared an emotional note on her community’s Facebook page after a recent experience with her son, 5-year-old Carter, at a skatepark.
Kristen Braconi took Carter, who is on the autism spectrum and has ADHD, and his behavioral therapist to the park to celebrate his fifth birthday, where a group of older kids noticed him playing on his scooter. The teens took it upon themselves to teach Carter how to skateboard.
“They were absolutely amazing with him and included him and were so beyond kind it brought me to tears,” the mother shared on Facebook, including a few videos from the day. “I caught a video of them singing [“Happy Birthday”] to my son and one of the kids gave him a mini skateboard and taught him how to use it. I can’t even begin to thank these kids for being so kind and showing him how wonderful people can be to complete strangers.”
“I wanted to recognize the kids and their parents because when you can show their parents how kind and respectful they are when [their parents] aren’t around you know you have done a great job!” Braconi told CNN. “They did so much more than they knew.”
Braconi told the outlet that the young teens didn’t know that Carter has autism and that their kindness and inclusion boosted the 5-year-old’s confidence.
Braconi and Carter left the park and returned with ice cream for the teenagers, but the video inspired the South Brunswick Police Department to try to track down the “superheroes” as well.
Continue on to Yahoo News to read the complete article.
The 11th Annual ReelAbilities Film Festival: New York of the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan is proud to take the audience beyond its outstanding selection of films with an array of special events and speakers that enhance the weeklong festival.
Highlights will include a disability comedy night at Gotham Comedy Club, led by “Seinfeld” actor Danny Woodburn and many esteemed comedians, and a fashion and design event at Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum. The festival will also feature industry-related panels such as Writing Disability with Nancy Silberkleit, CEO of Archie Comics, Alexandra Cassel, a writer for the children’s television program “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood,” and award-winning director Jason DaSilva. Additionally, the festival will open its doors for free daytime screenings for schools and educators. All schools are welcome to take advantage of this special initiative; contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more details. To learn more about screenings and special events or to purchase tickets, visit reelabilities.org/newyork or call 646.505.5708 or TTY 877.505.6708.
Other standout events include the annual Friday night Shabbat dinner, where ReelAbilities will spotlight activism and honor Lawrence Carter-Long, a founding visionary of the festival and curator/co-host of “The Projected Image: A History of Disability on Film” on Turner Classic Movies, and quality conversations with an incredible slate of filmmakers, experts, actors, and other talent, including Chris Cooper (actor “Intelligent Lives”), Dr. Harold Kaplowitz, The Child Mind Institute, and Kevin Hines (subject and writer, “Suicide: The Ripple Effect”). A full list of speakers and special guests can be found at reelabilities.org/newyork/guests.
ReelAbilities, in partnership with the Mayor’s Office for Media and Entertainment and the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, is pleased to announce “Authentically Me” by Rachel Handler and Crystal Arnette as the winner of the “What’s Your ReelAbility?” 27-second film competition for films relating to life with disabilities. Handler, an actress and an amputee, shares the authentic parts of her life that make her who she is. The film will screen on Taxi TV and at the festival throughout the week as part of the prize.
“We are thrilled to partner with the ReelAbilities New York Film Festival and the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities on ‘What’s Your ReelAbility?’” said Anne del Castillo, acting commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment. “This festival offers the most diverse showcase of films made for, by, and about people with disabilities, and our office is committed to increasing diversity and inclusion in the media and entertainment industry.”
“Every one of our films is captioned and audio described, and all of our conversations are made accessible,” said Isaac Zablocki, director and co-founder of ReelAbilities. “We are setting a new standard of inclusion for people of all abilities and challenge other festivals to do the same.”
The full lineup of the 11th Annual ReelAbilities Film Festival: New York at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan is below. Tickets now on sale at ny.reelabilities.org or 646.505.5708.
Arunima Sinha is a serious mountaineer—she was both the first female amputee and the first Indian amputee to climb Mount Everest. And last November, she was awarded an honorary PhD from the prestigious University of Strathclyde in London.
She has made it her life’s work to encourage others, saying, “I have achieved my goal, but now I want to help physically challenged people achieve their goals so that they can also become self-dependent.”
A former Indian national-level volleyball player, Sinha had her left leg amputated below the knee after being thrown from a train while resisting a robbery. Sinha was traveling to sit for an examination to join The Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), a central armed police force in India. She was pushed out of the train by thieves and lost her left leg below the knee as a result.
While recovering, she resolved to climb Mount Everest and later trained with Bachendri Pal, the first Indian woman to climb Mount Everest, at the Uttarkashi camp of the Tata Steel Adventure Foundation (TSAF). Sinha became the world’s first female amputee to summit Mount Everest with a prosthetic leg on May 21, 2013.
Since that achievement, she has gone on to be the first female amputee to climb some of the tallest mountains in Africa, Europe, Australia and South America.
Her book, Born Again on the Mountain, was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in December 2014. In 2015, she was presented with the Padma Shri, India’s fourth-highest civilian award. She was named one of the People of the Year in India’s 27th edition of Limca Book of Records in 2016.
“Arunima is an inspiration to amputees around the world. Not only has she shown real spirit, courage and determination in overcoming adversity, she is using her compassion and positivity to help other people,” said Professor Jim McDonald, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Strathclyde. “Arunima embodies the values of Strathclyde, and we are delighted to recognize her achievements by making her an Honorary Doctor of the University.”
The award also recognizes Sinha’s charitable work through the Arunima Foundation, which seeks to empower women and people with disabilities, and generally improve the health and social and economic situation for poorer communities. “Our mission is to inspire and empower people to change their world,” the foundation says. For more information, visit the Arunima Foundation on Twitter @FlucknowA.
Social media is a very popular tool among people with disabilities to stay connected despite the fact that most social media tools are not fully accessible. Staying connected electronically is even more important if a disability prevents a person from being able to easily travel.
By posting pictures or videos of themselves and discussing issues that impact them every day, people with disabilities are also bringing awareness to their very particular and personal issues.
It is important to understand that people and companies posting on social media have no control over the platforms’ infrastructures. That being said, there are practical limitations to what corporations can accomplish with respect to accessibility on the social media channels they choose to use. Most social media platforms have accessibility teams, and accessibility improvements are continually rolled out as technology continues to improve at a rapid pace.
Many people posting content to social media platforms – for either personal reasons or as part of their job – do not consider or use accessibility features. While the social media platform may not be friendly to all forms of assistive technology, companies can and do control the content they post and should take the necessary steps to make that content as accessible as possible. In many cases, even if the platform doesn’t natively offer accessibility tools, workarounds can be implemented to improve accessibility.
We all find ourselves in situations in which we don’t know what to say or do. We may meet someone who moves or acts differently from us, and we wonder how we should react.
When you’re communicating with people with disabilities, the most important thing is to remember that they are people first. People who, like everyone else, want to be appreciated, respected and productive.
As changes in civil rights laws have helped more people with disabilities pursue employment, attitudes toward people with disabilities are also changing. Creating a truly integrated society; one in which people of all abilities live and work together, starts with good communication.
Here are some tips to help you avoid feeling uncomfortable about communicating with people with disabilities:
1 Speak directly to the person rather than through a companion or the sign language interpreter who may be present.
2 Offer to shake hands when introduced. People with limited hand use or artificial limb can usually shake hands and offering the left hand is an acceptable greeting.
3 Always identify yourself and others who may be with you when meeting someone with a visual disability. When conversing in a group, remember to identify the person to whom you are speaking. When dining with a friend with a visual disability, ask if you can describe what is on his or her plate using the clock to describe the location of the food, i.e., “Potato is at 3 o’clock.”
4 If you offer assistance, wait until the offer is accepted. Then listen or ask for instructions.
5 Treat adults as adults. Address people with disabilities by their first names only when extending that same familiarity to all others. Never patronize people of short stature or people in wheelchairs by patting them on the head or shoulder.
6 Do not lean against or hang on someone’s wheelchair or scooter. Bear in mind that people with disabilities treat their wheelchairs or scooters as extensions of their bodies. The same goes for people with service animals. Never distract a work animal from their job without the owner’s permission.
7 Listen attentively when talking with people who have difficulty speaking and wait for them to finish. If necessary, ask short questions that require short answers, or a nod of the head. Never pretend to understand; instead repeat what you have understood and allow the person to respond.
8 Place yourself at eye level when speaking with someone who is of short stature or who is in a wheelchair or on crutches.
9 Tap a person who has a hearing disability on the shoulder or wave your hand to get his or her attention. Look directly at the person and speak clearly, slowly, and expressively to establish if the person can read your lips. If so, try to face the light source and keep your hands away from your mouth when speaking. If a person is wearing a hearing aid, don’t assume that they have the ability to discriminate your speaking voice. Do not raise your voice. Speak slowly and clearly in a normal tone of voice.
10 Relax. Don’t be embarrassed if you happen to use common expressions such as “See you later” or “Did you hear about this?” that seem to relate to a person’s disability.
Take your search game to the next level with these tools that’ll save you time and help you get more done.
When you think about Google services, apps such as Gmail, Docs, and Photos may be the first things that come to mind. I’d be willing to wager, though, that the Google service you use more than any other is one you rarely think about—because it’s woven so tightly into your life that it doesn’t even feel like a service anymore. It just feels like a utility, something that’s always there—like a faucet for metaphorical water.
I’m talking, of course, about Google Search, the gateway to an endless-seeming array of answers and information. But these days, Google Search can do a whole lot more than just look up simple queries. In fact, if you know all of its hidden powers, Search can be a Swiss Army knife that’s always within reach, even when you aren’t actively thinking about its presence.
Browse through these 40 advanced functions—and get ready to see Search in a whole new light.
1. Need an impartial judge to help make a decision? Try typing “random number generator” into Google. That’ll bring up a tool that lets you specify a minimum and maximum number—for however many choices you have, or even representing a specific set of values within a spreadsheet—and then have the Google genie randomly pick a number within that range.
For a more visual (although also more limited) version of the same concept, type “spinner” into Google and then switch the toggle at the top to “Number.” You can then create a wheel with anywhere from two to 20 numbers and click it to spin and land on a random digit. The Google Search number spinner will land on a random digit, with anywhere from two to 20 options in place.
2. For even simpler decisions, let Google flip a coin or roll a die for you by typing either command into the search box. (Bonus tip: You can also ask Google to spin a dreidel.)
3. Make Google serve as your personal time-keeper by typing “timer” or “stopwatch” into a search box. You can also launch right into a specific timer by typing “20 minute timer” (or whatever amount of time you desire).
4. You probably know that Google can act as a basic calculator, performing addition, subtraction, and so on—but did you know it can also do all sorts of advanced mathematics? For instance, you can have Google graph complicated equations like “cos(3x)+sin(x), cos(7x)+sin(x)” by entering them directly into the search box. And you can fire up a geometry calculator by searching for a specific query—”area of a circle,” “formula for a triangle perimeter,” or “volume of a cylinder”—and then entering in the values you know.
5. Google has separate standalone calculators that can figure out tips and monthly mortgage payments, too. Search for “tip calculator” or “mortgage calculator” to give either a whirl.
6. The next time you need to convert between units, try asking Google to do the heavy lifting for you. In addition to handling currency and practically any measurement system, Google can convert megabytes to gigabytes, Fahrenheit to Celsius, and days into minutes or even seconds. You can explore all the possibilities by typing “unit converter” into the search box and then looking through the dropdown menus that appear—or you can perform most conversions directly by searching for the exact changeover you want (e.g. “14.7 lbs to oz”).
7. Who among us hasn’t come across a sprawling number and stared at it blankly while trying to figure out how to say it aloud? Search for any number followed by “=english”—”53493439531=english,” for example—and Google will spell out your number for you in plain-English words.
8. Designers, take note: Searching for “color picker” will pull up a simple tool that lets you select a color and find its hex code, RGB value, CMYK value, and more—and easily convert from one color code type to another.The color picker tool is an easy way to find color codes and convert among different code types.
9. You can also see an identifying swatch for a specific color code by typing it into Google in almost any form: “#fcef00,” “rgb(252, 239, 0),” “pantone 444 u,” and so on.
10. Get up-to-date info on any flight, anytime, by typing the airline name or code and flight number directly into Google.
11. Find your current IP address in a snap by typing “IP address” into any Google prompt.
12. Google can measure your internet speed and give you speedy results, regardless of whether you’re on Wi-Fi or mobile data. Just type “speed test” into a search box and then click the “Run Speed Test” button to get started.
13. From your phone, type “bubble level” into Google to load an on-demand level tool and make sure the picture you’re hanging is perfectly straight. Keep the toolbox in the closet and pull up a bubble level right from Google Search on your phone.
14. Trying to stay on beat? Google “metronome,” and the search site will give you a fully functional metronome with a slider to start any beat-per-minute setting you need.
15. Search or browse through hundreds of old print newspapers at Google’s hidden newspaper archive site. The selection is pretty hit-and-miss, but you just might find what you’re after.
16. Hardly anyone knows it, but Google has a system that allows you to save results from your searches and then organize them into collections. From a browser, it works with images, jobs, and places; after searching for any of those types of items, you’ll see small bookmark icons alongside your results that can be clicked to save the associated entities. If you have an Android phone, you can also save web pages by pulling them up within the Google app and then looking for the bookmark icon in the upper-right corner of the screen. Either way, you can find and sort your saved stuff by going to google.com/collections or looking for the “Collections” option in the Google app on Android (tucked away within the “More” menu).
17. Find your next job on Google by searching for “jobs near me” or something specific like “programming jobs.” You can then narrow down the search as needed, find direct links to apply to positions, and even turn on email alerts for worthwhile queries. Google’s job search function pulls in postings from all over the web and presents them in a centralized, easy-to-follow manner.
18. Thinking about going back to school—or maybe enrolling in college for the first time? Google can give you oodles of useful info about any four-year college in the United States. All you have to do is search for the school’s name, and you’ll get an interactive box with facts about its average cost (before and after financial aid for any income level) along with its acceptance rate, typical test scores, rankings, and notable alumni.
19. Get the perfect recipe for any meal by searching for the name of a dish from your mobile device. Google will give you a scrolling list of choices and will even provide one-tap commands for sending any set of instructions to a Google Assistant Smart Display connected to your account. (Bonus tip: You can search for drink recipes in the same way—again, though, only on a mobile device for some reason.)
20. Speaking of eating, you can Google any individual ingredient to find detailed nutritional information about the food. You can also search for specific nutritional queries—things like: “How many calories are in avocados,” “How much fat is in an egg yolk,” or “How much protein is in chickpeas.”
Floridians with disabilities experience the biggest jobs gains of any state, with more than 23,000 people with disabilities entering the workforce. Of the 50 states, 29 states saw job gains for Americans with disabilities.
Vermont, under Gov. Phil Scott, becomes one of the top 10 states with the best employment rates and Rhode Island, under Gov. Gina Raimondo, jumps from 47th in the nation to 19th. New statistics recently released show that Americans with disabilities saw a slowdown in job gains compared to those of the previous year. The Disability Statistics Compendium, released by Institute on Disability at the University of New Hampshire, shows that the employment rate for people with disabilities has risen to 37 percent. The Compendium also shows that geography has an impact on employment outcomes for Americans with disabilities. People with disabilities in North Dakota are twice as likely to have jobs as West Virginians with disabilities.
The newly published 2018 Annual Disability Statistics Compendium compiles data collected by the Census Bureau. The Compendium is intended to equip policy-makers, self-advocates and others with clear statistics on disability in America today. Out of over 20 million working-age people with disabilities, 7.5 million have jobs. This data also shows the serious gaps that remain between disabled and non-disabled Americans. 37 percent of U.S. civilians with disabilities ages 18-64 living in the community had a job, compared to 77.2 percent for people without disabilities.
“Our nation was founded on the principle that anyone who works hard should be able to get ahead in life,” said Hon. Steve Bartlett, current Chairman of RespectAbility, who co-authored the Americans with Disabilities Act when he was in Congress. “People with disabilities deserve the opportunity to earn an income and achieve independence, just like anyone else.”
Further analysis by the nonpartisan advocacy group RespectAbility shows that 111,804 people with disabilities entered the workforce in 2017. That number is down from the previous year’s increase of over 343,000 new jobs for people with disabilities. Different factors explain the slower pace of job growth. A slowing economy is one factor, as is changing patterns of growth in different sectors of the economy. One lesson is clear to Andrew Houtenville, PhD of UNH’s Institute on Disability: “there is still a long way to go toward closing the gap between people with and without disabilities.”
“Employment rates only tell part of the story,” added Philip Kahn-Pauli, Policy and Practices Director at RespectAbility. “When you look across the intersection of disability and race, you find serious gaps in outcomes.” Only 28.6 percent of African Americans with disabilities have jobs compared to the 38.6 percent of Hispanics with disabilities and 41.2 percent of Asian Americans with disabilities who have jobs.
Some states have higher employment rates for people with disabilities than others. North Dakota leads the nation with 56.3 percent of its citizens with disabilities employed and is closely followed by South Dakota with a 51.3 percent disability employment rate. One of the biggest surprises in this year’s data is Vermont. Under Gov. Phil Scott, Vermonters with disabilities have seen a 5.7 percent increase in jobs, bumping their employment rate to 47.2 percent. For a full break down of the top 10 states, please see the table below.
Total # of Working-Age PWDs
# of PWDs Employed
Total Job Gains and Losses
Disability Employment Rate
Of the 50 states, 29 states saw job gains among the disability community, while people with disabilities lost economic ground in 21 states. Census Bureau data shows an astounding 23,953 Floridians with disabilities gained new jobs. Illinois saw the second biggest job gains for people with disabilities with over 20,000 new jobs even as 50,000 people without disabilities left Illinois’ workforce.
Rhode Island deserves credit for seeing a major turnaround. As reported by RespectAbility, Rhode Island under Gov. Gina Raimondo ranked 47th in the nation last year with an abysmal 30 percent disability employment rate. As a result of a settlement agreement with the Department of Justice, Rhode Island began to close shelter workshops where people with disabilities had been paid subminimum wages. Through sustained efforts to promote competitive, integrated employment Rhode Islanders with disabilities are now experiencing new success. Over 7,000 people with disabilities entered the workforce in 2017, pushing Rhode Island to stand 19thin the nation. As bipartisan consensus grows around ending subminimum wages, Rhode Island shows that transformative success is possible.
While endorsement deals are one in a million for most professional athletes, very few Olympians swap sport for the sartorial.
There is, of course, the exceptions and two-time defending World Champion Chelsea Werner might be as good as it gets.
Chelsea was born with Down Syndrome, unable to walk until she was almost two years old and told she would always have low muscle tone, yet persevered to perform at a physical peak beyond many experts’ wildest expectations.
Surprisingly, the Special Olympian set her sights on an entirely new and unexpected challenge after her fourth US National Championships win – the hypercritical world of fashion modelling.
“I’ve been at the top the Gymnastics World for probably ten years now,” Chelsea said. “I still enjoy it but it’s not my entire life. I got some great modelling opportunities through my gymnastics and discovered I really loved it!”
At a time where inclusivity is starting to trump the unattainable body ideals that litter mass media, the career change really means something.
Models with disabilities are just as aspirational as those with fashion’s predication of unusually long legs – arguably, even more so– and giving the simple act of giving them space challenges the industry’s ‘acceptable’ discrimination.
While Chelsea doesn’t recognise the lack of diversity, her mother Lisa said: “It is slowly becoming more diverse but what they typically consider diversity is usually racial or plus size models.
“When it come to models with disabilities it’s pretty rare. A large segment of today’s population has some form of disability – they want and deserve to be represented!”
In response, Chelsea said: “I think it’s hard for all models. I’ve had a lot of challenges in my life and I never give up. I have a lot of people rooting for me and a good team behind me.
“I’m a very positive person and don’t see things as limitations. I’m pretty stubborn and work very hard. The way my parents raised me really made me feel good about myself.”
In a world where most struggle for a slice of success, her work ethic and attitude that has already started to pay off. Since 2016, Chelsea has been on the cover of Teen Vogue, walked in New York Fashion Week and travelled around the world for big-brand campaigns.
“I have always loved being in front of the camera – that’s where I got the nickname ‘Showtime’,” she laughs. “Whenever there is a camera or an audience I am at my best. I also love the travel. My first modelling job was for H&M and I filmed it in Havana, Cuba!”
Modelling’s traditionally rigid set of ideals (super-thin, able-bodied, white, tall) is one thing, but the lack of disabled visibility across all media is another.
Without representation, it is easy to see how disabled people might assume they aren’t worth representation. That they don’t make the cut. And it the hope-gifted context of the thousands of likes and comments Chelsea receives on her active social accounts.
Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.