Why Microsoft, Chase and Others Are Hiring More People With Autism

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Chargeback loves obsessive employees. The Utah-based company investigates and documents credit card disputes — every time someone claims a card was used without their permission — and so its analysts must be persistent and nitpicky, with a sharp eye for detail that not everyone has.

That’s why its president, Khalid El-Awady, recently hired a 36-year-old analyst named Carrie Tierney. She breezed through training and handles technical data, computer requirements and repetitive tasks with ease, in about half the time new analysts usually take. “We’ve been very, very impressed,” says El-Awady. The experience has convinced him to consider more employees with Tierney’s abilities — and, by medical textbook standards, disabilities.

Tierney is on the autism spectrum. But her hiring is not unique. She represents a vanguard in the war for talent, in which American companies — mostly large, but some small, too — are increasingly recruiting what they now call neurodiverse workers. It’s still the early days, but more and more companies say these individuals have proven to be a competitive advantage due to their creative, detail-oriented and technically adept traits. “It’s fertile ground,” says Susanne Bruyère of the K. Lisa Yang and Hock E. Tan Institute on Employment and Disability at Cornell University.

As companies discover the value of having autistic employees, many are making major changes to their hiring practices. Today, roughly 50 companies in the U.S. have a workforce that’s primarily made up of autistic workers, says Michael Bernick, a former director of California’s labor department who is now counsel to Sedgwick law firm and writes about neurodiversity.

Software giant SAP plans to make 1 percent of its workforce (about 650 positions) people on the autism spectrum; Jose Velasco, head of SAP’s autism program, calls these workers “underutilized” and says they “bring diverse thinking to fuel innovation.” JP Morgan Chase has an autism-hiring program, and Microsoft has hired 31 such workers full-time over the past two years.

Companies stress that they aren’t acting out of a sense of social responsibility. Microsoft says autistic candidates are an “untapped pool of talent.” The director of JP Morgan’s program has described some characteristics of autism as “ideal assets in the workplace, particularly in industries like tech and engineering.”

“We’re not doing this as a diversity and inclusion program; it’s actually filling a very specific business need,” says Hiren Shukla, national process improvement leader at EY, an accounting and professional-services firm. The company launched a pilot last year in its Philadelphia office, hiring a few autistic employees to explore how best to work with them; it was so successful that it’s since been expanded to the Dallas office as well. Now EY has 14 neurodiverse employees working in areas including cybersecurity, automation and data analytics. “These aren’t specialized roles we created for them. We put them into existing roles,” says Shukla. “We think this is a very innovative way to help with the war on talent but also, more importantly, to bring creative talent.”

Continue onto Entrepreneur to read the complete article.

 

Lyft is Giving Free Rides to People On Their Way to Job Interviews and Training

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pink Lyft logo pictured in an iPhone

Affordable transportation can be a huge obstacle for low-income workers pursuing new employment—which is why Lyft is now offering free and discounted rides to passengers who are starting at new jobs.

The company’s newly-launched Jobs Access Program will help to facilitate free transportation for unemployed people who are attending job interviews, job training, or their first three weeks of work prior to receiving their first pay check.

“Everyone needs access to reliable, affordable transportation—to get to work, visit the doctor, make it to school, or simply participate in city life,” the company wrote in a blog post. “In fact, a recent study pinpoints commuting time as the single strongest factor in the odds of escaping poverty. Our own study shows that 44% of Lyft rides start or end in low income areas, and that our passengers saved 178 million hours compared to other transportation modes.

“So we’ve partnered with several leading national and local organizations dedicated to workforce development in order to deliver free or discounted rides to people making their way through the employment pipeline.”

With the help of various nonprofit partners, the $50 million program is launching in more than 35 US and Canadian cities.

The program will also pay particular attention to vulnerable populations such as veterans and people with disabilities.

One of Lyft’s program partners is the National Down Syndrome Society. According to Ashley Helsing, NDSS’ Director of Government Relations: “There are roughly two million people living with disabilities in the United States. Of those two million, nearly 30 percent, or 560,000 people, are unable to leave their home because of transportation barriers.

Continue on to the Good News Network to read the complete article.

Verizon: Changing the Way People with Disabilities are Viewed

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Verizon's collage of updated images that show way people with disabilities are viewed

By Jaeson “Doc” Parsons

Verizon has created an employee resource group (ERG) that utilizes diverse perspectives to put out products that are critically needed in our world today and tomorrow.

DIVERSEability Magazine recently spoke with Verizon at the CSUN Conference in Anaheim regarding one of the products created by their ERG that has already begun to dramatically change the way the world sees the disability community.

For years, the disability community has been asking for a more realistic representation of images featuring individuals with disabilities. But now the wait is over. Verizon, in partnership with Getty Images and the National Disability Leadership Alliance, has created a solution—Disability Collection.

Over the years, Verizon puts out a tremendous amount of media, and when they tried to present people with disabilities using photos from stock image libraries, they had difficulty finding images and especially finding images that portray individuals with disabilities accurately.

“Any time we tried to find an image of someone with a disability, it would either be a pitiful image or a heroic image, neither of them really reflecting reality”, said Larry Goldberg, the senior director of media accessibility at Verizon.

Goldberg said he himself has a hearing loss and his career started with closed captioning on TV, “so this is my community. Currently, I am part of a great team at Verizon — a group within Verizon called Verizon Media — which is all about content and apps and how to make them accessible for people with disabilities,” he added.

Margaux Joffee, Verizon’s associate director of accessibility, went to Getty Images, one of the largest stock image libraries in the world, to jumpstart this solution. But first, she approached the National Disability Leadership Alliance to ensure that people with disabilities had a strong voice in how they are being represented. This led to the joint creation of the first ever guidelines for photographers on how to accurately represent people with disabilities in photography. Those guidelines have now been distributed to over 250,000 Getty Images photographers worldwide, resulting in set of truly accurate, diverse and dignified images.

“Getty Images, the National Disability Leadership Alliance and Verizon has put out this amazing collection of images. It has touched everyone in disability leadership groups, but also inside Verizon,” Joffe said. “When we launched this project in D.C., the disability community loved this, but what was really cool was that Verizon’s staff and executives fell in love with the project too because it was tangible and real. “The new Disability Collection is a culmination of the efforts of companies like Verizon who are focused on portraying people with disabilities by breaking through stereotypical images, and providing a more realistic picture of this community.

The development of this image library will continue to change how the world views the disability community, and will challenge other companies to follow suit in the future. Learn more about the Disability Collection and how to view and download the images at DisabilityCollection.com

How to Build on Being a Disability-Owned Business

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Andy is pictured sitting in his wheelchair happily smiling

By Andrew Houghton

When I was 20 years old, I experienced a life altering motorcycle accident, which resulted in paraplegia and the need to use a wheelchair for mobility. In the years that followed, I struggled with my disability until being introduced to adaptive sports and recreation. Adaptive sports helped me to regain my self-confidence and created an opportunity to “pay it forward.”

Motivating others via public speaking engagements became a daily endeavor. My efforts were featured in numerous newspaper and magazine articles and, as a result, I was invited to help produce a series of short video segments on adaptive sports and lifestyle. This quickly blossomed into the start of a new venture, Disability Inclusion Solutions, for clients seeking high quality, accessible multimedia production.

Years later, in order to expand my opportunities and have access to greater resources, I became a certified Disability-Owned Business Enterprise (DOBE) through Disability:IN, the leading national third-party certifier of disability-owned business enterprises.

Being a DOBE has created opportunities for direct dialogue with corporations interested in forming diverse supply chains, resulting in some fantastic professional relationships.

But while DOBE certification may open the door to supplier diversity channels, having core capabilities, scalability and established relationships is what lands contracts. Being a small business, I quickly realized the importance of collaborating with other small businesses, both to enhance my capabilities and to develop innovative services and products that meet the demands of prospective global customers.

For example, in 2013, I recognized an opportunity to expand our offerings and began the development of an enterprise-wide e-learning software solution to ensure employers at every level have the knowledge required to effectively communicate, interview, hire, accommodate, and engage with people with disabilities. The goal was to create a series of 15-minute disability inclusion modules that we could license to customers,

But after nearly three years of research and development, I realized we needed to expand our capabilities in order to offer the highest quality product to the broadest possible audience. Our ideal partner would have a strong brand with extensive reach across the corporate landscape and expertise in digital accessibility so our product would meet prevailing accessibility standards.

Fortunately, I knew another certified DOBE—longtime friend and colleague, Joyce Bender, founder and CEO of Bender Consulting Services, Inc.—who became our partner. In 2016, Disability Inclusion Solutions joined together with Bender Consulting Services to develop iDisability™, an enterprise-wide e-learning solution. iDisability™ provides 15-minute fully accessible vignettes that can be viewed across multiple devices, including laptops, tablets and smartphones. It’s very gratifying to be able to say that our partnership has already benefitted nearly 2.5 million users across a variety of professional industries.

The business case for employing people with disabilities has never been stronger, thanks in part to recent research by Accenture, in partnership with Disability:IN and the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), that reaffirms the fact that companies benefit when they prioritize strategies that embrace disability inclusion.

I never imagined during the fragile aftermath of my accident that I would one day embrace my disability, have a family and be a small business owner. Building Disability Inclusion Solutions and partnering with other DOBEs allows me to advance disability inclusion, equality and belonging—all while growing the bottom line in my business.

More Jobs Than Ever for People with Disabilities

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women sitting in a wheelchair at work giving a high-five to a coworker

By Philip Pauli

New statistics show that Americans with disabilities are entering the workforce in unprecedented numbers. New data from the Institute on Disability at the University of New Hampshire reveals that 343,483 more people with disabilities joined the American workforce in 2016, compared to 87,201 the previous year.

But even as Americans with disabilities are entering the workforce in greater numbers, serious gaps in employment still exist between different states. For example, 54 percent of working-age people with disabilities in North Dakota have jobs, while only 27.4 percent of people with disabilities in West Virginia are employed.

New Data on Disability and Employment

According to a recent Annual Disability Statistics Compendium, only 35.9 percent of U.S. civilians with disabilities ages 18 to 64 had a job, compared to 76.9 percent for people without disabilities. However, this is an increase from the previous year, which was 34.9 percent. Out of almost 20 million working-age people with disabilities, only 7.4 million people with disabilities had a job in 2016.

A new poll released by RespectAbility shows that millions of people with disabilities want to work. The companies driving successful inclusion include JP Morgan Chase, Pepsi, UPS, SAP, EY, IBM, Starbucks and Walgreens. These companies see people with disabilities as resourceful employees who improve businesses’ bottom lines.

However, looking at topline national statistics only tells part of the story. State-specific data compiled by the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Disability Statistics and Demographics (StatsRRTC) shows massive differences among states. In fact, there are some states where people with disabilities are twice as likely to be employed as in other states.

Best States for People with Disabilities

Stats:
• 343,483 new jobs for people with disabilities

• Floridians with disabilities experience the biggest jobs gains of any state, with more than 35,000 people with disabilities entering the workforce.

• Employers hire more people with disabilities as they find that recruiting, hiring and retaining employees with disabilities benefits their bottom line.

Top 10 States for Workers with Disabilities (and percentage employed)
1. North Dakota 54%
2. South Dakota 51.6%
3. Minnesota 48%
4. Alaska 47.9%
5. Nebraska 47.4%
6. Wyoming 47.2
7. Utah 47%
8. Iowa 45.9
9. Kansas 44.7%
10. Montana 43.9%

Comparing the number of working-age people with disabilities reveals that Floridians experienced the biggest jobs gains of any state in the nation, with 35,480 entering the workforce. The second largest growth was in the state of Georgia, where 28,000 working-age people with disabilities got jobs. In terms of the largest states in the nation, California added 19,398 working-age people with disabilities to the workforce, while Texas added 17,736 with disabilities to their state workforce last year.

Alaska had the biggest percentage point gain in disability employment rates, going up 5.5 percentage points, followed by North Dakota’s 5.2 percentage point gain in jobs. Idahoans with disabilities have also seen a big increase with their employment rate rising from 38.3 percent in to 43.3 percent. South Carolina has also seen an increase in the number of people with disabilities working, with more than 23,000 getting jobs

Looking at Employment Gaps

Looking at the difference in employment rates between people with and without disabilities can reveal how far behind they are in a state’s economy. The smaller the gap, the more inclusive a state’s economy is, which translates into more opportunities for people to earn an income and become independent. The bigger the gap means fewer jobs for people with disabilities compared to their non-disabled peers. Alaska shows great success with only a 28.2 percentage point gap, the smallest gap of any state. According to the new data, Rhode Island had a 48.6 percentage point gap in employment.

What Works?

Looking beyond the data, two questions emerge—what works to expand employment opportunities for people with disabilities, and what can state leaders do to improve outcomes?

“States including Wisconsin, South Carolina, and Alaska show how a commitment to school-to-work transitions can create brighter futures for young people with disabilities,” says Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, president of RespectAbility. “Pennsylvania and Minnesota have also brought Employment First policies and a collaborative approach around transitions which has resulted in thousands of new jobs for their constituents with disabilities.”

There are two models that are achieving extraordinary success with work-based learning opportunities: Project SEARCH and Bridges from School to Work. SEARCH is a unique, employer-driven transition program that prepares students with disabilities for employment success. Likewise, Bridges offers assessments, workshops and job matching. SEARCH has grown to more than 300 programs in 46 states and served nearly 3,000 youth. Among those young people, more than 78 percent found jobs. These are transformative results for people with disabilities.

Linking Expectation and Education

“Employment rates only tell part of the story,” said Philip Kahn-Pauli, policy and practices director at RespectAbility. “Educational attainment is critical to the success of youth with disabilities because the jobs of the future require technical education and skill training.”

Despite progress made in recent years, students with disabilities are lagging significantly behind their nondisabled peers in educational attainment.

Only 65 percent of students with disabilities complete high school, with less than seven percent completing college. For youth of color with disabilities and English Language Learners with disabilities, their outcomes are even less. Key barriers include low expectations and the fact that many school systems either fail to diagnose early enough or address their issues at all. This often pushes children with disabilities into the school-to-prison pipeline. Appropriate early intervention, positive supports, and basic training for educators, parents, and guardians are vital.

Race, Disability and Employment

Even as companies are driving inclusion and states are finding success, there are still people left behind. “Just as looking at the state level employment rates tells a more complex story,” Kahn-Pauli said. “So too when you look at the employment rates among people with disabilities across racial lines.” Only 28.4 percent of African-Americans, 37.4 percent of Hispanics, and 40 percent of Asian Americans with disabilities hold jobs in their communities.

Building on Success

Despite the still-present gaps, seeing a four-fold improvement in one year’s time is fantastic, said Mizrahi. “The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, strong actions by many governors, and more positive portrayals of people with disabilities on TV are starting to have a positive impact.” she said. Further reports by the annual Disability Statistics Compendium and monthly Trends in Disability Employment show signs for continuing hope as more people with disabilities enter the labor market.

“At the end of the day, our nation was founded on the principle that anyone who works hard should be able to get ahead in life,” Mizrahi said. “People with disabilities deserve the opportunity to earn an income and achieve independence, just like anyone else.”

Source:  respectability.org

Comcast Partners With The American Association Of People With Disabilities To Help Close The Digital Divide

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woman suing computer with internet access smiling

At the Newseum recently, Comcast announced a series of initiatives designed to help address the digital divide for low-income Americans with disabilities through the Internet Essentials program, the nation’s largest and most comprehensive Internet adoption program for low-income households. 

The largest of these was a grant from the Company to the American Association for People with Disabilities (AAPD).  The Comcast grant will help fund the creation and delivery of digital literacy training programs specifically designed to address the needs of low-income people in the disability community.  Once developed, the programs will be delivered at 10 AAPD affiliates across the country, as well as shared online for anyone to access.

According to Pew Research Center, 23 percent of people with disabilities say they never go online and 57 percent say they do not have a home broadband subscription.

The grant follows last month’s announcement that, since 2011, the Internet Essentials program has connected more than eight million low-income Americans to the Internet at home, including nearly 210,000 in the greater Washington, D.C. metro area, 90 percent of whom were not connected to the Internet at home until they signed up through Internet Essentials.  In addition, the company made the most significant eligibility change in the program’s history, expanding eligibility to all low-income households residing in the Comcast service area, including all low-income seniors, adults, and people with disabilities.

“The Internet is an incredible resource so long as you have the skills and the tools to use it,” said David L. Cohen, Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer at Comcast Corporation.  “By partnering with AAPD and working with the disability community, we want to address and break down the barriers to broadband adoption that are unique to this population.  The first step is to address digital literacy issues and facilitate digital skills development.  So, we’re going to create relevant training programs and then fund their delivery at locations across the country.”

“Having an Internet connection at home is absolutely vital for low-income people living with disabilities,” said Maria Town, President and CEO of the American Association for People with Disabilities.  “I commend Comcast for extending its Internet Essentials program to people with disabilities because it will help us advance our mission to provide equal access, integration, and full inclusion for Americans with disabilities.”

In addition, Comcast held events across the Washington, DC area to raise awareness of the digital divide with special guests Paralympic Gold Medalist and Purple Heart Recipient Rico Roman, and Olympic Gold Medalists from the U.S. Women’s Hockey Team Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson and Monique Lamoureux-Morando.

As part of the day’s events, the Company held a digital literacy assembly at Walker Jones Elementary, where Cohen surprised 50 sixth graders with free laptops and six months of complimentary Internet Essentials service.  The company also hosted a digital inclusion event at the Hattie Holmes Senior Wellness Center where 100 seniors were given free laptops to help them stay connected to family and friends in the 21st century way of life.  Lastly, Comcast held a Youth Hockey Clinic with Roman, Lamoureux-Davidson, and Lamoureux-Morando, where the Company surprised 25 students from Cornerstone Schools in Ward 7 with free laptops to help further their education.  In partnership with Dell Technologies, the companies provided new equipment to Friends of Fort Dupont Ice Arena for its computer lab.

Internet Essentials has an integrated, wrap-around design that addresses each of the three major barriers to broadband adoption that research has identified.  These include: a lack of digital literacy skills, lack of awareness of the relevance of the Internet to everyday life needs, and fear of the Internet; the lack of a computer; and cost of internet service.  The program is structured as a partnership between Comcast and tens of thousands of school districts, libraries, elected officials, and nonprofit community partners.

Source: Comcast

Kellogg’s Rice Krispies made sensory love notes to support kids with autism

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childs hand holding a special Rice Krispies treat

As the school year gets underway, Rice Krispies is thinking about what notes parents may want to tuck into their kids’ lunch boxes. (Exhausted parents, on the other hand, may be counting down the days until they can foist lunch-making duties back on to the school cafeteria, no judgment.)

Last year, the Kellogg cereal brand teamed up with the National Federation of the Blind to create specialized “Love Notes” with phrases like “You’ve Got This” to “Love You Lots” written in braille for parents to share with children who are blind.

It was a sweet, inclusive message. Now Rice Krispies is continuing its mission with a new kind of love note, this one designed with children living with autism or on the autism spectrum in mind.

Since not every child communicates love through words, the cereal company partnered with Autism Speaks to create touch-and-feel sensory “Love Notes” so children can actually feel love and support as they transition back to school.

The four “lightly reusable” stickers come in a range of supposedly calming colors and different textures, including fleece, faux fur, satin, and velour for sensory-focused kids to feel the love through a tactile experience.

Continue on to Fast Company to read the complete article.

One Warrior’s Illuminating Journey

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Michael Landry standing outside at a sporting event

The future looks bright for this veteran entrepreneur, who miraculously regained his once lost eyesight.

By Annie Nelson

Marine Corps 1st Sgt. Michael J. Landry Jr. was returning from his 5th combat deployment as a Field Radio Operator when he received orders to Okinawa, Japan in August 2014. He underwent an eye exam and was told his vision had changed but not to worry.

However in Japan, Landry noticed his vision was getting worse—so much so that his optometrist thought he was exaggerating his condition. It was then he was told that both of his corneas were shattered and he was legally blind in both eyes.

I spoke with Landry about his amazing journey, from regaining his sight to competing in the Marine Corps Trials to starting his own lifestyle clothing and music businesses.

Tell me about your journey to being able to see again?

I was medically evacuated from Okinawa in March 2016 and sent to Balboa Naval Hospital in San Diego, Calif. In Japan, I was still able to make out the outlines of objects because of the cloudy weather, but in California, I wasn’t able to see anything because it was so much brighter. I was fitted for hard-lens contacts until I received a corneal transplant in my left eye. The crazy thing was the eye transplant I received was originally blue! But then genetics took over and the eye eventually turned brown.

Due to my amazing doctor, the day after the surgery for the first time in two years, I was able to see the eye chart. Over the next 20 months, the vision in my left eye improved to the point that I was able to get prescription glasses, but only for the left lens because I was still blind in my right eye. Last February, I received the transplant for the right eye and today, I still have 12 stitches inside that eye but my vision overall is constantly improving.

You recently competed in the Marine Corps Trials—what events did you compete in and how did you finish? Are you going to the Warrior Games?

Yes, I competed in several events including track, shot put, discus, 100m sprint and powerlifting. For the powerlifting event, my doctor recommended to limit the weight because the excessive eye pressure could still cause damage. I was scheduled to run the 200m and 400m, but I pulled my hamstring during the 100m sprint. I ended up finishing first place in all events except powerlifting. I competed in the visually impaired category for field events, however, I did out throw every other competitor overall. I was also selected to compete in the Warrior Games and I’m looking forward to it.

What did the Marine Corps Trials teach you?

It taught me that I’m able to do more than I think. I’ve never competed in any of those sports before and it felt as if it came naturally. It also taught me that I need to learn to stretch better so I don’t get hurt!

You are a new entrepreneur. Tell me about your businesses and how you started?

The birth of One Life Clothing started when I was going blind. I tried to convince myself that it wasn’t true so I began sewing with the thought that in order to sew, you have to be able to see. Going blind at the age of 32 forces you to see life in a different perspective. Tomorrow isn’t promised and you never know what can happen so you should always enjoy the “One Life” you have.

My second business I actually credit with saving my life. I was going through a lot mentally and physically with the loss of my sight and was severely depressed. At one point I was contemplating suicide until one day my brother, who is a rap artist, called me to vent about his music career, or lack thereof due to bad business deals. To help him, I started One Life Entertainment Music Group, LLC. Thus far, we’ve released four solo albums and two compilation albums.

My non-profit organization, One Life At A Time Outreach, helps not only feed the homeless, but also provide necessities like clothes, toiletries and shoes.

Michael Landry portrait with children Makiya and Michael III
Michael with children Makiya and Michael III

What does the future look like for you?

Bright I would say. Losing your vision and gaining it back is a blessing on its own, no matter what life throws at me. I’ve already won because I can see again. I’m embracing the new me. Business-wise, I would love to get into government contract designing and making uniforms as well as getting my clothing line into stores.

What advice would you give other service members who are recovering from an injury or illness?

You have to embrace the new you. I know what it feels like to be completely alone and to be stuck in your own head, but you have to remember that you are here for a purpose. God will never give you a task that you can’t handle. We are all gifted—find your gift and get out of your comfort zone.

Continue to follow Landry’s journey at onelifeclothing.net and on onelifemuzik.com

Double amputee, 9, to walk New York Fashion Week runway: ‘Disability doesn’t stop you’

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Daisy May walking with prosthetic legs into makeup room before an event

A young girl in the U.K. isn’t letting her disability stop her from achieving her dreams. Daisy-May Demetre, 9, will reportedly become the first child double amputee to strut her stuff on the runway at New York Fashion Week in September, SWNS reported.

Daisy-May, of Birmingham, was born with fibular hemimelia, a birth defect where part or all of the fibula bone is missing. The condition is rare, occurring in 1 in 50,000 births, according to the Generic and Rare Disease Information Center. 

When she was 18 months old, Daisy-May’s parents Alex and Claire Demetre chose to have both of the young girl’s legs amputated — the right above the knee and the left below the knee — in the hopes of giving her a better quality of life with prosthetics.

“We had the choice for her to live like that or to go for the operation,” Alex, Daisy-May’s father, said. “We didn’t know at the time that Daisy-May would be as good as she is now.”

Indeed: Daisy-May is living proof determination can defy all odds. She is a gymnast as well as a model for Boden, the country’s largest clothing catalog, according to SWNS. She’s also modeled for Nike and the British retailer Matalan, among others.

But come Sept. 8, Daisy-May will take her modeling career to new heights when she walks the runway at New York Fashion Week. Daisy-May will walk for the French-inspired children’s fashion line Lulu et Gigi Couture. She was approached about the opportunity after the line’s founder and head designer, Eni Hegedus-Buiron, spotted her modeling in London.

“I was asked if I was OK with having an amputee walk in my show. To be honest I was surprised by the question. For me, a child is a child and thus is beautiful and perfect,” Hegedus-Buiron told the outlet. “So of course I said yes.”

Alex told SWNS he is proud that his daughter will make history, but noted he and his wife hope to see more child amputees featured on the runway.

“Disability doesn’t stop you —  it definitely doesn’t stop Daisy,” Alex said, adding his daughter “belongs on the catwalk.”

Continue on to Fox News to read the complete article.

Target Unveils Adaptive Halloween Costumes For Kids With Disabilities

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child dressed in pirate costume sitting in decoratedwheelchair

Target’s newest Halloween offerings include adaptive costumes for kids with disabilities ― a sign that major retailers may finally be stepping up to make the commercial costume industry more inclusive.

The big-box giant is selling four disability-friendly costumes and two themed wheelchair covers through its Hyde and Eek! Boutique. Two of the options ― a princess dress and pirate ensemble ― are aimed at kids who use wheelchairs.

According to the online store descriptions, they were “thoughtfully designed with openings in the back that lend ease of dressing.” The costumes coordinate with decorative pirate ship and princess carriage wheelchair covers, which retail for $45 each. The princess dress and crown set costs $20 and the pirate get-up is $25.

The new line also includes sensory-friendly unicorn and shark costumes to accommodate kids with sensitivities. Per the website descriptions, both feature “an allover plush construction for a soft and cozy feel,” “flat seams with no tags,” “a hidden opening in the front pocket for convenient abdominal access” and the option to remove attachments like hoods. Each retails for $30.

Over the years, lots of children and adults with disabilities have gotten creative around Halloween time, with many putting together homemade costumes that incorporate wheelchairs and other assistive devices. There have also been adaptive costume options from small-scale vendors on sites like Etsy.

Target’s latest product line appears to be the first such costume offering from a major retailer.

Continue on to the Huffington Post to read the complete article.

‘Born This Way’ To End With Digital Wrap-Up Series & Finale Special On A&E

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Born this Way cast gathered on stage

A&E’s Emmy-winning docuseries Born This Way is coming to an end, with a fifth and final season.

The network said recently that the series will wrap with a six-part shortform digital series to begin premiering later this year on AEtv.com, and a one-hour linear series finale holiday special, to air in December on A&E.

Born This Way concluded its fourth season in May 2018. The digital series will pick up following last season’s wedding of cast members Cristina and Angel, and will continue the story of Elena, John, Megan, Rachel, Sean, Steven, Cristina and Angel.

In the hourlong series finale special, the cast will reflect on their personal growth across the four seasons of the show and discuss Born This Way’s impact on the way society views people with disabilities, according to A&E. “From finding jobs to navigating relationships and break ups to exerting their own independence, the cast will rejoice in the journey they have been on together and thank fans for all of their support along the way,” A&E said.

It’s not often that you get to make television like Born This Way which has had such a positive impact on the world. The show unquestionably changed how society views people with Down syndrome and how people with Down syndrome see themselves,” said Executive Producer Jonathan Murray. “It has shown that no one should have to live with artificial limits placed upon them and all of us, no matter what challenges we face, want the same things – independence, a chance for meaningful employment and a chance to contribute to our families and communities.”

“Being a part of the amazing and inspiring journey of our cast over the past four seasons has been an honor for myself and everyone at A&E,” said Elaine Frontain Bryant, EVP and Head of Programming, A&E Network. “We have all learned so much from their openness, resilience and spirit, and we will be forever grateful to them for welcoming us and viewers into their lives.”

Continue on to Deadline to read the complete article.