Disability

August Is The Hardest Month: Disability And Parental Loneliness

Today? I want what I can’t have.

I want Akiva to sleep late. Really late. So late, that I have to march into his room, check that he’s alive, and wake him up because hey, it’s 1 PM, and I’m your mother.

I want Akiva to brush his teeth, handle bathroom details, and get dressed. By himself. Without scratching me if I hit the wrong sensory buttons.

I want Akiva to pour his own juice and get his own breakfast, while I lie indolently in bed and answer questions from my room, as one might do with their young adult children.

Akiva and his brother. Courtesy of Beth Steinberg

'You Are Not Welcome Here': ADA Access To Music Festivals And Other Outdoor Venues

Editor's note: Thank you to David Ferleger for sharing this important blog that originally appeared at ada-law.blogspot.com.

If I love music and use a wheelchair, the concert hall should have space for me to sit. If I love sports, the ballpark or arena will have space set aside for wheelchair users. If I am an amputee or on crutches, I’ll be able to drive up close to the venue so I can enter without much inconvenience.

But suppose I have tickets to a music or other festival, or other outdoor event, where the main stage, the main action, is distant from the satellite parking lots. Suppose I want to attend a public concert in Central Park NYC or another large urban event when streets are closed to traffic for many blocks in all directions. There may be shuttles but not handicap-accessible vehicles. There may be some reserved handicap parking spaces, but not enough.

David Ferleger

"Falling Off A Cliff": Vocational Education And Placement Essential For People With Disabilities

When the Tikvah Program for campers with disabilities was started in 1970 at Camp Ramah in New England, no one imagined a day when people with disabilities would be meaningfully included in Jewish camping. Now, 45 years later, every Ramah camp in the United States and Canada serves people with disabilities. The National Ramah Tikvah Network includes overnight camp programs, day camp programs, vocational educational programs, family camps and retreats and Israel programs. At Ramah, inclusion is natural, seamless and expected.

Vocational campers at Ramah New England. Courtesy of Howard Blas

Teen Perspective: Don't Underestimate People With Disabilities

Editor's Note: As we recognize the 10 companies selected for the Ruderman "Best in Business' award, we are delighted to bring New Normal readers a teen perspective on employment and disability.

Actress Nikki Reed says, "What is important is to treat everyone like an individual and learning not to generalize disabilities.” She experiences autism first hand because her brother has autism. She strongly supports autism awareness and helping people understand that people with disabilities should be able to have a productive place in society.

Young adults with disabilities need jobs in today's workforce.

Jake Borenstein

Turning Pain Into Joy On My Daughter's 4th Birthday, Part 1

Editor's Note: Today we are sharing part one of a mother's beautiful blog. Look for Part 2 tomorrow.

As far back as I can remember, I have always loved and awaited my birthday. When August arrives, I am already full of expectation, even though I was born at the end of the month. So much so that when my siblings want to tease me, they say to me: "If August would only come already …" My birthday is my day: I spoil myself on that day and do things that I love. I enjoy the attention from those around me and feel very special.

Since my Neta was born, her birthday is a complex and tumultuous day for me. I want to celebrate and be happy in the way that I know birthdays to be, but I cannot help hurting. On this day, the chronological age that we "celebrate" and according to which we place candles on the cake confronts the developmental age that she has reached.

All Are Welcome At The Seder

In your mind’s eye, look around at those with whom you have celebrated past Seders. 

A contemplative girl is full of questions: How could a respected family in Egypt so quickly become an enslaved nation? Why was Pharaoh so stubborn?

There’s the "Squirmer." If he doesn’t declare outright that he’d rather not be at the Seder, his body language clearly broadcasts the message.

Seated next to each other are two frustrated guests. One is always losing his place in the Haggadah, and the other’s eyes often stray to the kitchen.

During its recounting of the Exodus from Egypt, the Haggadah “pauses” to consider Seder participants resembling those described above. They are portrayed as four sons: one wise, one wicked, one simple and one who doesn’t know how to ask. 

Rabbi Michael Levy

Ruderman Family Foundation Announces $250,000 Global Innovators In Inclusion Competition

The Ruderman Family Foundation announced today the launch of the fourth annual Ruderman Prize in Inclusion global competition. The Prize aims to recognize organizations around the world who have demonstrated their commitment to the full inclusion of people with disabilities into the Jewish community through innovative programs and services. The $250,000 prize will be split equally by five organizations.

“Innovative organizations in the global Jewish community are leading the way in promoting the full inclusion of people with disabilities in our society,” said Jay Ruderman, President of the Ruderman Family Foundation.

Jewish Inclusion Made Easy and Inexpensive! Part 2

Editor’s Note: This article appeared in the Fall, 2014 issue of  The Journal of Jewish Communal Service, and is disseminated with the permission of its publisher, JPRO Network.  Subscriptions at JPRO.org. We are sharing this primer in three parts; to see part one click here.

Do a Self-Assessment on Inclusion. This is the first step in developing a comprehensive approach to serving people with disabilities. Here are some key questions to ask about your organization, inspired by material developed by the JE & ZB Butler and Ruderman Family Foundations.

  • Does your organization have policies and/or programs that support meaningful inclusion of people with disabilities at all levels? Are they prominent on your website and materials?
  • Does it have a disability advisory committee/inclusion committee, and if so, are Jews with disabilities themselves and their family members on the committee?
  • Will all people with any kind of disability be welcomed to participate? If not, why not? If so, how do you plan to identify, reach, and welcome them?
  • Do you serve Jews with disabilities in an inclusive way (welcoming them inside the full community), or are they forced into segregated “special needs programs” that are inherently unequal?
  • Has someone who uses a wheelchair personally checked the physical accessibility of your offices and programs for people who use wheelchairs?
  • Has a person who is blind and who uses adaptive computer technology checked your website and facilities for accessibility?
  • Do the videos you use have captions? Do you have a way to communicate with people who are deaf or use other adaptive supports?
  • Do you employ individuals who have disabilities? If so, what are their jobs? Do they receive the same compensation and benefits as all other employees in like positions?
  • How do you educate your staff, board of directors, trustees, and other key people about serving and partnering with people with disabilities?

#JDAM15

Self-Advocate Ari Ne'eman Receives Morton E. Ruderman Award in Inclusion

The Ruderman Family Foundation (RFF) announced today that it will award the second annual Morton E. Ruderman Award in Inclusion to Ari Ne’eman, President of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network and Member of the President’s National Council on Disability. The $100,000 award recognizes an individual who has made an extraordinary contribution to the inclusion of people with disabilities in the Jewish world and the greater public and is based on past achievements and the potential for future contributions to the field.

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