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Posted: Wed, 08/10/2016 - 07:40 | The New Normal

Until yesterday, I only felt sadness and despair about about the massacre of people with disability in Japan on July 26th. Then I realized there was something I could do. You, too. Actually, you're likely already doing it.

The attacker stabbed 19 people to death as they slept at the Tsuki Yamayuri-en facility in Japan and wounded 26 others. The suspect, a 26-year-old former staffer, had planned the killings, Reuters noted. In fact, he'd stated that he was going to do the deed in two letters given to the speaker of the lower house of parliament in February.

Posted: Thu, 08/04/2016 - 07:19 | The New Normal

When Hillary Clinton took to the stage the final night of the Democratic National Convention, several disability activists had one question for the candidate. Will she include people with disabilities in a meaningful way in her speech?

The convention already had touched on disability issues—from Anastasia Somoza, a young woman with cerebral palsy delivering a speech Monday, and Sen. Tom Harkin highlighting the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act on Tuesday, to discussions on mental illness and drug addiction, as well as speakers such as Rep. Gabby Giffords and Rep. Tammy Duckworth addressing the convention.

Posted: Mon, 08/01/2016 - 09:14 | The New Normal

Children are served best in classrooms and other learning enviornments that consistently take into account their specific learning needs. The support children receive is most effective when it is offered throughout the entire day of learning—by all educators—as opposed to only specific periods of the day.

With this premise, in November 2011, the Jim Joseph Foundation awarded a grant to Boston-based Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP) (in partnership with Gateways: Access to Jewish Education and Yeshiva University School Partnership) for the development and implementation of the B’Yadenu model in five Boston-area Jewish day schools: Gann Academy, Jewish Community Day School, Maimonides School, Solomon Schechter Day School and Striar Hebrew Academy of Sharon.

Posted: Tue, 07/26/2016 - 13:41 | The New Normal

Editor's Note: Thanks to RespectAbilityUSA for sharing this blog that originally appears on their web site.

“I am here today to tell you a story of hope,” Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy said at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, before speaking about his life and experiences as a person with multiple disabilities.

“It’s a story of a young boy with physical and severe learning disabilities,” Malloy said.

He related his early experiences and how “reading and writing were almost impossible” for him.

“A child thought to be, as the term was used in the early 1960s, ‘mentally retarded’ as late as the fourth grade. A boy who could not tie a shoe or button his shirt until the fifth grade. Someone who knew the harsh words of bullies on the playground and discrimination in the classroom.”

Posted: Mon, 07/25/2016 - 07:41 | The New Normal

Editor's Note: If you are following the disturbing story of the shooting of an unarmed therapist trying to help his autistic client by a Miami police officer, there has been an update over the weekend in which the officer has confessed that the bullet was actually intended for the man with autism sitting in the road with his toy truck.

I woke up one recent July morning, and I wept. As per my usual habit, I checked the news shortly after getting up. The first story I landed on was about a Miami police officer shooting the caretaker of a young autistic man who had wandered away from his center, and whom the caretaker had gone after to bring back. There’s no mystery here about the circumstances of the shooting, no reason to parse the police version of the story vs. the victim’s story. There’s just this:  a black man lying on his back, his empty hands up behind his head, and his autistic charge sitting nearby, playing with his toy truck. If you don’t believe me, here it is: 

I was completely rattled by this story.

Posted: Wed, 07/20/2016 - 15:20 | The New Normal

These days, many high schools require teens to earn community service/volunteer hours to graduate. That’s easier said than done by any teen, and even more difficult for teens that aren’t neuro-typical. Parents of teens with disabilities have enough responsibilities without having to worry about how they will help their teen get volunteer hours.

Enter the Edlavitch DCJCC’s Morris Cafritz Center for Community Service’s Summer of Service Camp. With close to 30 years of experience putting together volunteer projects to help the DC community give back, and the expertise of amazing special education teachers, Summer of Service is a place where teens of all abilities can come together to strengthen the community and change lives. This unique program was co-founded by RespectAbilityUSA, with seed money from the Mizrahi Family Charitable Fund.