The New Normal Blog

Posted: Wed, 02/10/2016 - 06:45 | Posted by: Rabbi Daniel Grossman | The New Normal
"Label Jars Not People." Courtesy of Jay Wilson

I've often thought about the question of the terms we such as “Special Needs,” “Inclusion,” or “Disability,” and which words are best to open lines of communication? I do not have any hearing in my right ear. I also have a noticeable facial discoloration on parts of my right face that leads some people to think that I have had a stroke, and, over the years, I have used several orthotic devices and sometimes a cane for balance.

Posted: Mon, 02/08/2016 - 08:42 | Posted by: Shelly Christensen | The New Normal
Visual icon for Jewish prayer. Courtesy of Gateways: Access To Jewish Education

Synagogues are opening the doors to participation by people with disabilities in large numbers. New buildings and remodeling projects follow the requirements provided by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Many synagogues have greeters stationed at the doors to welcome people and direct newcomers to coat rooms, washrooms and the sanctuary. Trained ushers know where assistive listening devices are located and can seat people who use wheelchairs with their family and friends.

Posted: Wed, 02/03/2016 - 06:48 | Posted by: Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer | The New Normal
The RespectAbility Report. Courtesy of Jennifer Laslzo Mizrahi

Editor's Note: As the primary season begins, we bring you this exclusive interview with Jennifer Laslzo Mizrahi, President of RespectAbilityUSA, an important organization working on disability rights. Jennifer is on the campaign trail advocating for people with disabilities and answered our questions via email.

NN: Can you describe RespectAbilityUSA's mission in terms of inclusion in the Jewish community and why following the presidential race is connected to your mission?

JLM: Our work is all about improving the lives of people with disabilities. There is a big role for Jewish institutions in that work, and we are deeply committed to Jewish inclusion. But ultimately the disability agenda is a civil rights agenda and an anti-poverty agenda. And it’s far bigger than just the Jewish community. And the only way to move those agendas is to ensure that it is on the “to do list” of the next president of the United States. We want our issues to be center stage in the first 100 days of the next president's first term, and beyond.

Posted: Sat, 01/30/2016 - 06:38 | Posted by: Steven Eidelman | The New Normal
Steven Eidelman

Editor's Note: February is Jewish Disability Awareness & Inclusion Month, an international effort to raise awareness (#JDAIM16 on twitter). "The New Normal" will share blogs all month long about the language we use when we talk about disability. Please comment here or on our Facebook page — share with your community and join the conversation!

Does it really matter what we call people? Is terminology and language use important? By now you may think you have heard too much about person-first language, or at least the intent which is to emphasize the person and not the label. This works for most groups, although increasingly those who are autistic, or at least organizations representing them, seem to prefer the term "autistics" over "people with autism" (Read more about that debate here). 

So what does it really matter?

Posted: Wed, 01/27/2016 - 06:29 | Posted by: Lisa Friedman | The New Normal
#JDAIM16 Blogs. Courtesy of Lisa Friedman

Editor's Note: Next week begins Jewish Disability Awareness & Inclusion Month--a time when the Jewish community puts extra focus on the inclusion of people with disabilities. At "The New Normal," we know that this is a 365-day effort and appreciate all of our readers and contributors giving attention to this issue. We are sharing this blog from contributor Lisa Friedman and will be featuring a series of blogs about disability and language through the month.

For those of you who have been following this event for a few years or more, you will note that the acronym has changed. Since 2009, Jewish Disability Awareness Month has taken place each February with the tagline “From Awareness to Inclusion”. In keeping with that trend, the various organizers of this annual event have added “I” for inclusion right into the title: Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month.

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