Posted: Tue, 12/23/2014 - 08:14 | Posted by: Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer | The New Normal

Yeshivat Maale Gilboa, a popular destination for study for both American students on their gap year between high school and college and Israeli students post-army service, has created a program for young people who have Asperger Syndrome and may not be able to study in a traditional yeshiva setting.

Posted: Tue, 12/23/2014 - 06:38 | Posted by: Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer | The New Normal

President Obama on Friday signed into law the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act which will allow families with children with disabilities to save for college and other expenses in tax-deferred accounts. The legislation was co-sponsored by Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA) and Richard Burr (R-NC).

The ABLE Act, first introduced in 2008, amends the Internal Revenue Service Code to allow use of tax-free savings accounts for individuals with disabilities. Families will be allowed to use the funds in the savings accounts to cover education, housing, medical and transportation expenses, among others.

Posted: Thu, 12/18/2014 - 19:20 | Posted by: Lisa Friedman | The New Normal
At Beth-El's Chanukah Program. Courtesy of Lisa Friedman

As an educator in a fully inclusive supplemental religious school, which is part of a fully inclusive Reform congregation, one of the questions I am most often asked is “How do you do it?” I am eager to share my thoughts and suggestions, especially if it means that other congregations will move toward greater inclusion. And yet, while I share and have written articles such as Ten Steps to Make Your Congregation More Inclusive, I’d be lying if I said that you’d be all set if you just read and followed the exact steps that my congregation followed. You can’t just wrap our process up with a bow, plunk it down into your community and say, “OK, now we are inclusive.”

That is because inclusion is not a program.

Posted: Tue, 12/16/2014 - 08:41 | Posted by: Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer | The New Normal
Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer

It’s Chanukah, and we’re thinking in eights. Here are eight steps we all can take towards making a more inclusive community for people of all abilities all year long.

1. Use People-First Language: The words used to describe us have an impact on our lives. One important change that many of us can make is to shift how we talk about people with disabilities — doing so helps to shift our perspectives and see the whole person. Put the person before the disability. David is a child who has autism, not an autistic child. Click here for resources to help guide you in using people-first language.

Posted: Tue, 12/16/2014 - 07:12 | Posted by: Alan Magill | The New Normal
Alan Magill

I became aware of this man – I’ll call him Joe – as he often sat across from me at the cafeteria-style eatery we both frequented. Around four decades older than I, he was no shrinking violet. If I had my daily paper spread out to the side of and behind my bagel, egg and coffee meal, he’d say something like, “Do you think I could have a couple inches of the table?” 

Rather than get annoyed, I liked his feistiness and I would quickly move my paper to give him as much room as possible.