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Parents Aid Intellectually Disabled in College Degrees

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Self advocacy
https://publications.ici.umn.edu/self-advovacy-online/blog/going-to-college

In her home state of Minnesota, the dream of college seemed out of reach for Jean Hauff, a young woman with Down syndrome. She wanted to pursue a career in mass media, but no Minnesota school offered the intellectual disabilities college programs or specific support services she craved.

Jean faced this troubling reality because Minnesota lacked a system that embraced students with disabilities (ID) within mainstream higher education. Existing programs were limited, offering neither the desired fields of study nor the promise of a fulfilling college experience. This situation caused worry for Mary Hauff, Jean’s mother, who since Jean’s birth has been a champion of inclusive education.

This frustration fueled the creation of the Minnesota Inclusive Higher Education Consortium in 2019. This powerful coalition, composed of parents and disabilities advocates, embarked on a mission to transform the higher education landscape for students like Jean.

The efforts of this coalition made a significant turning point in 2023 as the Minnesota Legislature began to recognize the potential and the right of intellectually disabled students. A significant $2 million was allocated for a period of two years to promote inclusive higher education in the region. This brought smiles to parents whose children struggle with ID, highlighting the importance of parental aid degrees.

The vision is clear: students with ID deserve the same opportunities as their peers – the same range of study options, enriching campus experiences, and the chance to earn meaningful credentials.  Experts believe that a substantial portion of the allocated funds will directly empower colleges to develop innovative methods to attract and support students with ID, providing much-needed college degrees assistance.

Another crucial aspect of this initiative is the creation of a technical assistance center, funded with $500,000 and housed at the University of Minnesota. This center serves as a central hub for expertise, offering best practices on providing inclusive postsecondary education. Students with ID themselves have a significant voice in shaping this center’s direction, with half the members of its advisory committee coming from this very community.

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A past attempt at attending a technical college left Dupree Edwards, a Minnesotan with ID, feeling unsupported and ultimately led him to abandon his pursuit. However, Edwards thrives when given accessible learning materials and a structured environment that caters to his learning pace. The news of the legislation was met with immense joy by Edwards, who aspires to pursue formal studies in performing arts – a dream that now seems achievable thanks to increased disabilities support college.

The Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 also laid the groundwork for increased college access for students with ID nationwide. Today, Minnesota joins states like Kentucky, which established a similar technical assistance center in 2020, witnessing a subsequent doubling of college opportunities and disabilities within the state.

Also, institutions can apply for grants of up to $200,000 per year for four years, empowering them to develop or strengthen their capacity to support students with ID. This highlights the importance of inclusive education.

For Jean Hauff, whose college journey took her outside Minnesota due to a lack of suitable options, this initiative holds immense significance. Despite a positive experience at Duquesne University’s pilot program for students with ID, she eventually had to transfer due to program changes.

Now, with this renewed hope, Jean aspires to pursue her education and career goals within her home state. 

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While this groundbreaking investment serves as a beacon of hope for students with ID in Minnesota, many students like Jean feel that with the help of parents and disabilities advocates, it’s possible to go to college and become whatever they dreamed to be.

Written by Yahuza Bawage

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Bridgerton Season 3: A Milestone in Representation?

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Bridgerton Season 3

The popular Netflix series “Bridgerton” has always been celebrated for its diverse and inclusive storytelling. In its third season, the show has taken a significant step forward in representation by including characters with disabilities and those who are neurodivergent. This move has garnered widespread praise from fans, especially for its nuanced portrayal of these characters. Here’s how “Bridgerton” Season 3 is making waves in disability representation.

Bridgerton Disability Representation Shines in Season 3

“Bridgerton” fans are praising the disability representation in Season 3, which features characters with diverse abilities. Among them, Francesca Bridgerton, played by Hannah Dodd, has captivated audiences with her introverted and musically inclined personality, leading many to believe she is “autistic-coded.” This subtle yet impactful portrayal is a testament to the show’s commitment to inclusivity.

Nuanced Portrayal of Disabled Characters

Season 3 introduces Dolores Stowell, a young debutante who communicates using British Sign Language (BSL), played by Kitty Devlin, and her mother, Lady Stowell, portrayed by Sophie Woolley, who is deaf. This authentic representation of deaf characters using BSL has resonated deeply with viewers. Another notable character is Lord Remington, played by Zak Ford-Williams, who uses a wheelchair. His character’s integration into the social fabric of the Bridgerton world without being marginalized has been particularly praised.

Autistic-Coded Characters in Bridgerton

Fans have also speculated that Francesca Bridgerton and her love interest, John Stirling, exhibit traits often associated with autism. Francesca’s preference for small, intimate gatherings and her deep passion for music have led many to interpret her as autistic-coded. Similarly, John’s interactions and behaviors suggest traits of both autism and ADHD, creating a rich, layered portrayal that viewers have found incredibly relatable.

Fans Praise Bridgerton’s Inclusive Approach

The inclusion of these characters has sparked a positive reaction on social media, with fans expressing their appreciation for the show’s thoughtful and respectful depiction of disabilities and neurodivergence. One fan commented, “Can we just talk about the disability representation in #BridgertonS3 for a minute? Not only is there a deaf actress using BSL to communicate on-screen, but there’s also an eligible suitor in a wheelchair. Not to mention the fact that Fran & John are autistic coded AF.”

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A Step Forward in Media Representation

By featuring characters with disabilities and those who are neurodivergent, “Bridgerton” challenges the misconception that these conditions are modern phenomena. The show highlights that individuals with diverse abilities have always existed and deserve representation in all forms of media, including historical dramas. This representation not only enriches the narrative but also provides a mirror for audiences to see themselves and their experiences reflected on screen.

“Bridgerton” Season 3 has set a new standard for disability representation in media. By thoughtfully including characters with diverse abilities and neurodivergent traits, the show fosters a more inclusive and empathetic view of the world. This approach has resonated deeply with fans, proving that representation matters and can make a significant impact on viewers.

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Drake’s Involvement in Media Maelstrom Involving disabled Journalist Christopher Alvarez

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Drake Alvarez

Journalist Christopher Alvarez has been dragged into a media maelstrom, facing intense online speculation and ugly rumors, including false accusations of a physical altercation with Drake. Although Alvarez uses a wheelchair, he gets around and has enjoyed rubbing shoulders with celebrities and international pop stars, including DJ Khaled, and has aspired to become a broadcast journalist since high school. Alvarez has refuted the false accusations, emphasizing the need to stop spreading misinformation and highlighting the impact of this debacle on both himself and Drake.

One thing that Ebony Prince has been heavily implying is that something happened between Drake, his team and Christopher Alvarez, a journalist who suffers from thanatophoric dysplasia type 2 and requires ventilator support to keep him alive. The accusation that Jimmy Brooks, the disabled character that Drake played on Degrassi, would not be happy with Drake that night, meant to a lot of people that Drake or one of his team mistreated him in some way.

Today, Christopher Alvarez has come out to clear the air. He talks about how we’re in a post-truth era where misinformation and perception rule.  He recently wrote for the Brooklyn Eagle regarding the Drake debacle: “I found myself at the center of a social media storm. As a journalist with a disability, I have faced unique challenges in navigating this ‘post-truth’ society”.

Living as a journalist in a ‘post-truth’ society presents a myriad of obstacles. The constant battle against fake news, the pressure to maintain a strong social media presence, and the risk of becoming a target for cyberbullying are just a few of the challenges that journalists face in today’s digital age.

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For journalists with disabilities, these challenges can be even more daunting. The need to constantly engage with social media platforms can be physically and mentally exhausting, especially for those with mobility or sensory impairments. Additionally, the risk of facing discrimination and ableism in online spaces adds an extra layer of complexity to the already demanding job of a journalist.

Despite these challenges, journalists with disabilities have a unique perspective to offer in the fight against disinformation. Our lived experiences give us a deeper understanding of the importance of accurate and truthful reporting. We have the opportunity to advocate for more inclusive and accessible digital spaces, and to push back against the spread of fake news.

In order to thrive in this ‘post-truth’ society, journalists with disabilities must prioritize self-care and seek out supportive communities. We must also continue to advocate for greater accessibility and inclusivity in digital media, and work towards creating a more truthful and ethical online landscape.

As a journalist with a disability, I am committed to navigating the challenges of living in a ‘post-truth’ society while continuing to uphold the values of honest and accurate reporting. It is my hope that by sharing my experiences, I can inspire others in similar positions to do the same.

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Five Most Celebrated disabled Artists across the World

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Frida Khalo

The world often celebrates success, but true inspiration often lies in overcoming adversity. These five individuals, all prominent figures in their respective fields, have defied limitations imposed by disability, proving that the human spirit can soar regardless of any challenges they confront in life.

Their stories not only amplify the achievements of disabled artists, but also highlight the unique talents of disabled artists and their profound impact across the human race.

Sudha Chandran

Although a devastating car accident at 16 claimed Sudha’s leg, yet she refused to let it define her. With unwavering determination, Sudha relearned to dance, this time with a prosthetic limb. Her portrayal of her own life in the film “Mayuri” earned her national recognition, and her career blossomed. Today, Sudha is a celebrated actress, dancer, and reality TV star, inspiring millions with her grace and perseverance. Her journey, a part of the school curriculum in India, serves as a beacon of hope, not just in her home country, but across the globe, solidifying her place among famous disabled artists worldwide.

Aaron Fotheringham

Forget conventional skate parks. Aaron Fotheringham, better known as “Wheelz,” rewrites the rules on a specially designed wheelchair. Born with Spina Bifida, Aaron never let his disability clip his wings. From a young age, he embraced challenges, mastering walkers and crutches before conquering skate ramps at eight. Fearless and innovative, Aaron became a pioneer in Wheelchair Motocross (WCMX), pushing the boundaries of the sport with groundbreaking tricks like backflips and one-wheeled spins. His dedication has earned him not just recognition, but a place among the most influential figures in extreme sports.

Daniel Radcliffe

While the world met him as the bespectacled wizard, Harry Potter, Daniel Radcliffe’s journey is more complex. Diagnosed with dyspraxia, a learning disability affecting coordination, Daniel faced challenges in everyday tasks. Yet, acting proved to be his saving grace. Encouraged by his mother at the age of nine, he landed the iconic role that propelled him to global stardom.

Despite the demands of fame, Daniel excelled in his studies and transitioned seamlessly into a diverse acting career, tackling challenging roles on stage and screen. Openly discussing his dyspraxia, he raises awareness for neurological conditions and inspires others to embrace their differences. Now a father, Daniel thrives on a new chapter, demonstrating that success extends far beyond the world of make-believe.

Nick Vujicic

Nick Vujicic’s story is one of overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds. Born with tetra-amelia syndrome, an extremely rare condition that results in the absence of limbs, Nick endured a childhood filled with hardship and isolation. However, his spirit remained unbroken. Nick discovered his passion for motivational speaking, sharing his story of resilience and self-acceptance with audiences worldwide. As the founder of “Life Without Limbs,” he empowers people with disabilities and inspires them to lead fulfilling lives.

Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo, the iconic Mexican painter, battled health issues throughout her life. Diagnosed with Polio as a child left her with lasting physical limitations, and a horrific bus accident in her youth caused severe injuries, including a broken spine. It was during her recovery that Frida turned to art, channeling her pain and experiences into self-portraits that became her signature style.

However, Frida’s work explored themes of identity, suffering, and the female experience. Though she died young, her artwork continues to resonate with audiences today, securing her place among celebrated disabled artists. Beyond her artistic genius, Frida’s defiance of societal norms has made her a celebrated figure within the LGBT community.

These five individuals stand as powerful examples of human potential. They have redefined success, proving that disability is not a barrier to achievement. Their stories inspire us to embrace challenges, celebrate differences, and pursue our dreams with unwavering determination.

These inspiring stories highlight the need for greater global recognition of disabled artists, breaking down barriers and ensuring a more inclusive art industry where disability in the art industry is not a hindrance, but a source of immense creative power.


By Yahuza Bawage

Daniel Radcliffe
Daniel Radcliffe
Sudha Chandran
Sudha Chandran
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