Inclusion

Pamela Schuller, 30

Subtitle: 

Spreading the Inclusion Message

Spreading the Inclusion Message

05/23/2016 (All day)

During elementary school, Schuller, who has Tourette’s syndrome, would frequently make barking or other sounds she could not control. She would frequently be asked to leave the classroom.

Pamela Schuller, 30 - Spreading the Inclusion Message

Zack Pollack, 22

Subtitle: 

‘I Wanted to Inspire People’

‘I Wanted to Inspire People’

05/23/2016 (All day)

Born premature with cerebral palsy, a quadriplegic who has used a wheelchair most of his life, Pollack briefly thought of becoming a psychologist, but had no concrete career goal … until he underwent lifesaving surgery eight years ago.

The 10-hour operation, to correct a curvature of his spine, was followed by a yearlong recuperation period, during which he decided to become a motivational speaker.

Zack Pollack, 22 - ‘I Wanted to Inspire People’

Ruti Regan, 31

Subtitle: 

Saying ‘Dayenu’ to Exclusion

Saying ‘Dayenu’ to Exclusion

05/23/2016 (All day)

For Ruti Regan, the first openly autistic rabbinical student to attend Jewish Theological Seminary, the Passover seder is laden with messages about inclusion.

 “The redemption story is all about building sanctity, even when the situation is degrading,” said the 31-year-old North Carolina native. “When we’re in exile, we need to acknowledge the hardship but not be consumed by it. We have to keep building.”

Ruti Regan, 31 - Saying ‘Dayenu’ to Exclusion

Parsha Emor, Responses To Disability And What Must Change

Parsha Emor contains a disturbing mitzvah: those priests who have disabilities are explicitly prohibited from officiating at the Temple. Of course this related to a tiny percentage of a tiny percentage of the population—grown men whose fathers were Kohanim. It was only relevant during Temple times and only with respect to animal sacrifices. So it may be irrelevant. Until the Temple is rebuilt there is no possibility of sacrifice. Even when the Temple is rebuilt it may be that, following Rambam, there will be no sacrifices. So why the geshrei?

Disability Inclusion. Courtesy of Google Images

Celebrate Global Accessibility Awareness Day, May 19th

Editor's Note: Accessibility Partners was one of last year's "Ruderman Best in Business Award" winners. Nominate a company that hires people with disabilities for this year's award!

Get ready to have your world rocked, because on Thursday, May 19, 2016, Accessibility Partners is celebrating Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD). This is an international effort of disability and accessibility advocates with the overall goal of getting people talking, thinking and learning about digital accessibility and users with disabilities.

For a day of this magnitude, we want to bring the awareness to everyone: a free overview of your website’s homepage for accessibility OR a review of a document of up to 3 pages (Microsoft Word or PDF).

Global Accessibility Awareness day. Courtesy of Sharon Rosenblatt

Technology Can Enable A New World For People With Autism

Editor's Note: This blog originally appeared on Forbes. The Jewish Week Media Group is partnering with the Ruderman Family Foundation to recognize companies that hire people with autism and other disabilities for the "Ruderman Best in Business Award." Nominate a company in your community today!

April 2, 2016 was designated World Autism Awareness Day. Many world monuments were lit up in blue lights to show support for the cause. Colorful ribbons and pins were worn and emotional sentiments were plastered all over social media. While the gestures themselves were moving, the concept of autism “awareness” is simply not enough. Without autism “acceptance and inclusion”, none of this actually makes a difference.

A Company That Supports Employees With Autism. Courtesy of Rising Tide Car Wash

Minimizing The Perfection Prejudice

Near the beginning of our Passover Seders, we recited:

“All who are hungry, let them come and eat;
All who need (a place to celebrate Passover,) let them join us.”

What would happen if the world accepted our invitation?

Rabbi Michael Levy

Autism And Faith: A Conversation With Shelly Christensen

Editor's Note: This blog originally appears on Faith Inclusion Network.

I initially “met” Shelly Christensen on the phone, when I called with some questions related to the inclusion of people with disabilities into Jewish communities.  She was incredibly generous with her time and, some 40 minutes later, I felt like I had a new friend in Minnesota.  Not long afterward, we got the chance to meet in person at an AAIDD conference and now we talk frequently since she is a Faith Inclusion Network National Board Adviser. 

Shelly has a lot of experience as a faith and disability advocate, traveling across the country to speak and be involved in many large Jewish and interfaith initiatives.  But what I appreciate personally about Shelly is her gift of encouragement.  I always come away from our conversations feeling wonderful!  Thank you for that beautiful gift and for all you continue to do to further the national faith and disability movement, Shelly.

Shelly and her son Jake. Courtesy of Shelly Christensen

Open Waters: Mikveh For Everybody

Editor's Note: This blog post originally appeared on the Mayyim Hayyim Blog, The Mikveh Lady Has Left the Building.

When I brought my 7th grade Rosh Hodesh group to Mayyim Hayyim, we learned about the aquatic lift meant to help someone with a disability use the mikveh. When our educator, Lisa Berman, asked the girls “Why might someone with a disability use the mikveh?” one girl promptly answered, “The same reason anyone else would use the mikveh!”

Rosh Hodesh Participants. Courtesy of Mayyim Hayyim

From An Autism Mom: 5 Things I Know To Be True

Autism can be so unpredictable. There's no cure, there's not one widely agreed upon cause, and no two people with autism are exactly the same. I remember when my daughter was first diagnosed at 3 years old, I asked questions like "will she ever be fully independent? will she go to college? will she marry? will she drive a car?" Of course, no doctor or therapist could answer that with certainty- and I asked them all! It's funny to look back at that time and think about how important those things were to me then, and to realize how very unimportant they are to me today.

There are just too many things about autism that are variable and uncertain. However, here are five things I know to be true about autism:

Dani Gillman
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