Inclusion in the Media: August Edition

With all the options for getting news and entertainment these days, it’s easy to become overloaded by the sheer amount of information available. So for this month’s news roundup , we thought we’d narrow things down to highlight how inclusion is making news across a wide range of broadcast mediums.

A few weeks ago, Chicago Public Radio’s This American Life featured one of the more in-depth explorations into the theme of inclusion. The show got its start back in 1995 and has since been telling person-focused stories that revolve around a central theme ever since. In a recent episode titled, “Special Ed,” each segment tells a different story about individuals who were labeled as different and how their experience was shaped by this perceived difference about them. The final segment, “Walkout,” tells the story of a man who had been working in a sheltered workshop for years, and for reasons that were unclear to his family, one day quit his job and stopped participating in all his usual activities. With the recent media attention about the debate revolving around sheltered workshops and their efficacy, this story gives a well-rounded, humanistic perspective, which allows listeners to draw their own conclusions about this type of employment. Transcripts of the radio program are available in the show’s archives.

Locally, a recent federal court decision dismissed a lawsuit that challenged the right of some Minnesotans with disabilities to vote. In the case of Minnesota Voters Alliance, et. al. v. Mark Ritchie, et. al., U.S. District Court Judge Donovan Frank ruled that Plaintiffs did not make a valid challenge to Minnesota’s law and legal decisions that protect the voting rights of persons under guardianship. This decision speaks volumes to the direction our country is headed in regards to inclusion in one of the most important areas of civic engagement.

Another story that grabbed our attention and reflects a growing response to labor inequality and sub-standard wages for individuals with disabilities, was reported by Disability Scoop. After having obtained a document that revealed that Goodwill pays workers who have disabilities lower wages than those without, the National Federation for the Blind has been calling on individuals to boycott the charitable retailer. Beginning this weekend, critics are ramping up thier efforts to raise awareness of this issue by holding a protest at Goodwill stores nation-wide. The protest is planned to take place at over 80 Goodwill locations from 11-1 p.m. To learn more and follow the ongoing coverage of this story head to Disability Scoop’s website.

Looking ahead, we’d like to mention a few opportunities to get involved and advocate for inclusion. This Friday, August 24th, make your voice heard on President Obama’s monthly disability conference call. In an effort to keep people informed about disability issues, the  White House Disability Group will host the monthly call with senior members of the president’s cabinet. This month’s call will feature Senior Advisor to President Obama, Valerie Jarrett, and Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, Cecilia Muñoz. The call will occur at 2pm EDT (please dial in 5 minutes early). To participate, please call 800/762-7308 and use the code: “White House Disability Call.” For more information, head to the website.

For those who prefer to take action locally, the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services, a program of the Minnesota Department of Human Services, has designed an eclectic series of free interactive classes that address trends and resources related to hearing loss. The free training seminars, are designed to provide information that can be applied to the work or personal lives of attendees. Throughout the year,  the program will feature a new training event each month on different topics  focused on and around deaf culture. For more information on upcoming events and registration information, check out this flyer  or visit the DHS website.

And in case you missed it earlier this month, we had the opportunity to speak with the President of the Wehrman (WeCo) Collaborative about the work they are doing to enable equal access on the digital front. Inclusion is not often something people think about when it comes to computer and internet technology, but it’s an area that is often overlooked by graphic and software designers. Some mission based for-profits like WeCo are rising to the occasion to tear down the barriers to access. For more on how WeCo is bridging the digital divide for those with disabilities, please check out our recent Business Spotlight.

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