Disabled people who had trouble voting falls dramatically: report

BY ZACK BUDRYK: For Complete Post, Click Here…

ngd- This is what relentless advocacy from our community can accomplish…

Difficulties with access to voting reported by disabled Americans fell significantly between 2012 and 2020, according to research published Wednesday by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC).

The EAC report found about 1 in 9 disabled respondents reported voting difficulties in 2020, compared to more than a quarter of non-disabled Americans.

The gap between disabled and non-disabled voters who experienced voting problems also narrowed significantly, at 11.4 percent versus 6.4 percent in 2020 compared to 26.1 percent versus 7.4 percent in 2012.

“The positive thing is more Americans were able to vote this year without difficulties than we’ve seen in the past, but it also shows we’ve still got work to do,” EAC Chairman Ben Hovland told The Hill.

The report also found a drop in disabled people voting in-person experiencing difficulties. In 2012, 30 percent reported problems in in-person voting compared to 18 percent in 2021.

COVID reveals Michigan’s internet broadband gap. Will take years to close.

By Jonathan Oosting: For Complete Post, Click Here…

When the COVID-19 pandemic closed Michigan school buildings last March and sent students home for remote learning, Amy Zicafoose and her two children scrambled to find internet access wherever they could.

Since broadband is not available at their home in rural Jackson County, they did school work from the car in the parking lot of a coffee shop owned by a friend. They submitted papers from the driveway of her daughter’s principal. They went inside a Realtor friend’s office to use his wifi for homework and Zoom calls.

“Without the kindness of my friends and my children’s school, there’s no way that we would have been able to successfully survive with our schooling — any of us,” said Zicafoose, who completed a master’s degree in social work from Michigan State University during the pandemic while navigating life as a single mom with a high school son and a non-verbal autistic daughter. 

“I don’t know how I did it.”

Zicafoose’s home in Liberty Township, about a dozen miles south of Jackson, is one of 1.2 million total — or 1 in 4 statewide — that lack a permanent fixed broadband connection, according to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration. It estimates that connecting all areas of the state could stimulate up to $2.7 billion per year in economic activity. 

Zoom Makes ASR Captioning Free for People with Hearing Loss

By Shari Eberts: For Entire Post, Click Here…

Success! Zoom has heard our community’s voice!

Zoom just announced it will provide its high-quality ASR captions (Live Transcript) FREE for people with hearing loss, as well as other groups who require this feature for accessibility reasons. Click here to request access. This feature will be rolled out to all free accounts by Fall 2021.

Since the start of the pandemic, we have been asking Zoom to do just this. We explained that captions are our ramps and that we should not be forced to pay for the accessibility feature that we need to communicate well on Zoom. They have heeded our call.

Fighting for Justice: The Legacy Continues

From Michigan Disability Rights Coalition: For Entire Post, Click Here…

ngd-The link is to the recorded video…

In celebration of Black History Month we are celebrating the legacy of Black Disability Activists.

This event will discuss the long history of Black disabled people fighting for justice for the Black and disabled community. We will look at how the Civil Rights movement, starting with the Brown v. Board of Education and the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, laid down the groundwork for the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and later the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Lastly, we will discuss how we can continue to protect the rights of Black and disabled people as well as how civil rights can particularly address people who exist at the intersection of those identities.

Moderator: Tameka Citchen-Spruce, Michigan Disability Rights Coalition
Panelists: Jane Dunham, Executive Director of the National Black Disability Rights Coalition
Sandra Sermons, National Disability Rights Coalition
Michael Agyin, Los Angeles based Disability/Deaf Activist
CART will be available via Zoom registration and ASL interpretation via zoom and Facebook Live.

Feds say standardized tests won’t be waived

By Allison Donahue: For Entire Post, Click Here…

Schools will still have to administer federal standardized testing this year, according to the new Biden administration, but the regulations will be more lenient than in years past.

On Monday, Biden’s team announced that schools won’t receive a waiver for the required testing, but states have the flexibility to create shorter exams, offer remote options and extend the testing window.

“State assessment and accountability systems play an important role in advancing educational equity,” Acting Assistant Education Secretary Ian Rosenblum wrote in a letter to state education leaders. “At the same time, it is clear that the pandemic requires significant flexibility for the 2020-2021 school year so that states can respond to the unique circumstances they are facing, keep students, staff, and their families safe and maintain their immediate focus on supporting students’ social, emotional and academic development.”

Accessibility tool EyeMine V2 releases, lets you play Minecraft: Java Edition with just your eyes

From Windows Central: For Entire Post, Click Here…

What You Need to Know:

  • Minecraft is an incredibly popular game accessible to everyone: students, children, and gamers with special needs.
  • EyeMine V2 is the latest project from UK-based charity SpecialEffect that allows anyone to play Minecraft with just their eyes.
  • The free software pairs with Windows, Minecraft: Java Edition, and any of many compatible eye trackers for an intuitive experience.
  • Minecraft can be played entirely with EyeMine V2 and further opens up Minecraft to players who may not use a keyboard or controller.

In Canada, Did a Comedian’s Joke Go Too Far?

By Dan Bilefsky: For Complete Post, Click Here…

A Supreme Court case focused on a comedy routine mocking a disabled teenager could help shape the limits of free speech — and humor — in Canada.

About a decade ago, the comedian Mike Ward, of Quebec, mocked the voice of a well-known disabled teenage singer in a standup routine, roasting him for being off-key, making fun of his hearing aid and calling him “ugly.” But he said he had defended the boy to others because he would soon die. When the teen didn’t die of his illness, the comedian joked, he tried to drown him.

This past week, the question of whether a comedian has the constitutional right to offend came under a national spotlight at Canada’s Supreme Court after Mr. Ward appealed a decision that the comedy routine discriminated against the singer, Jérémy Gabriel.

The case, which has grabbed headlines, is a rare example of a comedy routine becoming the subject of the highest court in the land, and could have implications for free speech in Canada. Renée Thériault, executive legal officer at the Supreme Court, wrote by email that, to her knowledge, the case is “unprecedented.”

167 – Culture change in nursing homes

From The Nursing Home Abuse Podcast: For Complete Post, Click Here…

Culture change is not something often considered when families look for a nursing home for their loved ones.

But in this episode, we explore why this could make a huge difference for someone who is making the transition into a nursing home.

In this episode, our special guest Carmen Bowmen helps us understand what a culture change is, and how it can benefit nursing home residents, and their families.

Stuttering isn’t shameful; advocates wrestle with how President Biden’s speech impediment is portrayed

By Hannah Brock: For Complete Post, Click Here…

When negative comments are made about President Joe Biden’s stutter, it puts the ableism that people with disabilities, like Aimee Sterk and her son Theo, face everyday on a national scale.

Biden’s stutter has often been a point of criticism by political opponents who equate his disability with cognitive decline or dementia.

“It equates disability with being less than, and that a person with a disability can’t or shouldn’t be president or hold any position or job,” said Aimee Sterk, a program manager at the Michigan Disability Rights Coalition, who also has has mental and physical disabilities. “So, it is to me, it’s harmful to equate that his stutter makes him less than or that any disability makes a person less than.”

Comments, social media posts and cartoons criticizing President Joe Biden’s stutter are hateful and damaging, said Theresa Metzmaker, the executive director of the Michigan Disability Rights Coalition based in East Lansing. Metzmaker said she expected Biden to experience discrimination based on his disability because U.S. society has a history of ableism.

The world is not a safe place for a lot of identities, Sterk said. That causes concern for her 4-year-old son, Theo, who has a stutter. Theo’s stutter is improving, but there were times it would take a minute for him to express a short sentence.

Adults often talk over Theo or are impatient, Sterk said. Theo is owed patience because he wants to share his thoughts, she said.

Students With Disabilities

From The Condition of Education: For Complete Post, Click Here…

Enacted in 1975, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), formerly known as the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, mandates the provision of a free and appropriate public school education for eligible students ages 3–21. Eligible students are those identified by a team of professionals as having a disability that adversely affects academic performance and as being in need of special education and related services. Data collection activities to monitor compliance with IDEA began in 1976.

From school year 2000–01 through 2004–05, the number of students ages 3–21 who received special education services under IDEA increased from 6.3 million, or 13 percent of total public school enrollment, to 6.7 million, or 14 percent of total public school enrollment.1 Both the number and the percentage of students served under IDEA declined from 2004–05 through 2011–12. Between 2011–12 and 2018–19, the number of students served increased from 6.4 million to 7.1 million and the percentage served increased from 13 percent of total public school enrollment to 14 percent of total public school enrollment.