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#BornThisWay

Talking Positively about Sex and Disability

Watch #BornThisWay on A&E, Tuesday at 10:00 p.m. ET. 

View Sexual Education Resources for People with Disabilities.

Rockville, Md., June 19 – Sexual education for young adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities is extremely important. Born This Way, a reality television show that stars seven diverse young adults with Down syndrome, is doing its part to highlight this.

According to the National Crime Victimization Survey, an average of 59,000 adults with disabilities are raped or sexually assaulted each year. Approximately half of all adults with cognitive disabilities will experience 10 or more sexually abusive incidents in their lifetime.

The upcoming episode of Born This Way on June 20, 2017 highlights the importance of sexual education as it relates to dating and marriage. The cast speaks with Terri Couwenhoven MS, CSE, a well known sex educator and author. Couwenhoven specializes in the design and implementation of sexuality programs and resources for people with cognitive disabilities, their parents and the professionals who support them.

In coordination with Couwenhoven, RespectAbility has released a lengthy guide featuring resources for sexual education for children, teenagers and adults with disabilities, with a focus on those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

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Born This Way Fan Guide: Free Resources You Can Use

Toolkit Includes Free Resources for Job Seekers with Disabilities and Employers Embracing Employees with Disabilities


Washington, D.C., June 4 – In coordination with this Tuesday’s episode of Born This Way, RespectAbility has released the Born This Way Fan Guide with free resources for a variety of individuals with disabilities. The guide includes free tools, contacts, information and services around:

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Born This Way Season 3 #BTWChat, June 6

Featuring Sandra Assimotos McElwee, mom of Born This Way cast member Sean – @purpose2inspire

Hosted by Lauren Appelbaum (@laurenappelbaum) of RespectAbility (@Respect_Ability), this Twitter chat will take a look at ideas explored in #BornThisWay by the young adults with Down syndrome and their parents.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017, 10:00-11:00 pm ET

Don’t have cable? You can livestream the show on A&E’s app.

You can find the questions for this chat in this post.

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RespectAbility & Jobs for People with Disabilities to be Featured on Emmy-Winning Reality Show Born This Way

Air Date: Tuesday, June 6 at 10 PM ET/9c on A&E TV

Brad Sherman speaking at the microphone with a RespectAbility banner behind him

Led by Rep. Brad Sherman, participants during RespectAbility’s “Workforce Development” session discussed how to move the needle on the employment rate of people with disabilities in Los Angeles, California and the country.

Washington, D.C., June 3 – RespectAbility is known for identifying and sharing best practices around advancing education, inclusion, training and employment for people with disabilities. Rep. Brad Sherman, the 10-term Congressman, is known as a serious legislator. So what are they doing in a reality show made by the same company that created Keeping up with the Kardashians, Rob & Chyna and Total Divas?

The reason is simple: they cohosted a major summit with Emmy-winning reality-TV innovator Jonathan Murray (executive producer of the shows listed above, in addition to Real World, Born This Way, Autism the Musical and others), former President George W. Bush appointee on disability issues, Steve Tingus, which was attended by cast members from the Emmy-winning show Born This Way.

The summit, entitled “Ending Stigmas & Bigotry: Expanding Employment for People with Disabilities,” was presented by Rep. Sherman working in partnership with RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for people with disabilities.

Born This Way cast members posing with RespectAbility staff members and Rep. Brad Sherman

RespectAbility President Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, Born This Way Cast Member Sean McElwee, RespectAbility Communications Director Lauren Appelbaum. Born This Way Cast Members Steven Clark, Cristina Sanz and Megan Bomgaars, Rep. Brad Sherman, Born This Way Executive Producer and RespectAbility Board Member Jonathan Murray

Both Murray and Tingus serve on the board of RespectAbility, whose president, Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, and communications director, Lauren Appelbaum, are all featured in an episode of Born This Way that will air on Tuesday night at 10 PM ET/9c on A&E.

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Congressman to Be Featured on Emmy-Winning Reality Show

Born This Way cast members posing with RespectAbility staff members and Rep. Brad Sherman

RespectAbility President Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, Born This Way Cast Member Sean McElwee, RespectAbility Communications Director Lauren Appelbaum. Born This Way Cast Members Steven Clark, Cristina Sanz and Megan Bomgaars, Rep. Brad Sherman, Born This Way Executive Producer and RespectAbility Board Member Jonathan Murray

Brad Sherman speaking at the microphone with a RespectAbility banner behind him

Participants during RespectAbility’s “Workforce Development” session discuss how to move the needle on the employment rate of people with disabilities in Los Angeles, California and the country. All participants had an opportunity to share ideas during roundtable discussions, as well as in follow-up surveys and conversations. Rep. Brad Sherman attended the session, listening to the ideas presented by all who attended.

Washington, D.C., June 1 – Rep. Brad Sherman, the 10-term Congressman, is known as a serious legislator. So what is he doing in a reality show made by the same company that created Keeping up with the Kardashians, Rob & Chyna and Total Divas?

The reason is simple: he cohosted a major event in his district with Emmy-winning reality-TV innovator Jonathan Murray (executive producer of the shows listed above, in addition to Real WorldBorn This WayAutism the Musical and others) and former President George W. Bush appointee on disability issues, Steve Tingus.

The event, entitled “Ending Stigmas & Bigotry: Expanding Employment for People with Disabilities,” was presented by Sherman working in partnership with RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for people with disabilities. Both Murray and Tingus are on the board of RespectAbility, whose president, Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, and communications director, Lauren Appelbaum, also are featured in the episode.

Participants in the event included stars from the cast of Emmy-winning reality show Born This Way, which features seven diverse young adults with Down syndrome, as well as other individuals with Autism, multiple sclerosis, spina bifida, physical disabilities, amputations and non-visible disabilities. Local experts, including Cathy Gott, Elaine Hall, Sandra McElwee, Joclynn Benjamin and others also participated. Together, participants brainstormed new ideas to move the needle forward on the employment of people with disabilities in a shared agenda. The congressman facilitated these discussions.

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Born This Way Season 3 Finale #BTWChat, July 18

Featuring Sandra Assimotos McElwee, mom of Born This Way cast member Sean – @purpose2inspire

Hosted by Lauren Appelbaum (@laurenappelbaum) of RespectAbility (@Respect_Ability), this Twitter chat will take a look at ideas explored in #BornThisWay by the young adults with Down syndrome and their parents.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017, 10:00-11:00 pm ET

Don’t have cable? You can livestream the show on A&E’s app.

You can find the questions for this chat in this post.

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Emmy-Winning Reality Show Features Self-Determination for People with Disabilities in Healthcare Choices

Watch #BornThisWay on A&E, Tuesday at 10/9c.

Join RespectAbility for a live Twitter chat during the east coast broadcast using #BornThisWay and #BTWchat.

Rockville, Maryland, May 22 – Fully one-in-five Americans has a disability, and in many cases, their rights and lives are needlessly put at risk. While some healthcare choices are easy to understand, others are highly complex. For the first time on reality television, the issue of how adults with intellectual, mental health or other disabilities make competent decisions that can literally be life changing, or life enabling, is being addressed.

Born This Way, which recently won an Emmy for being the best reality show on TV today, is not an ordinary reality show. It stars seven diverse young adults with Down syndrome as they deal with issues around employment, independent living, education and romance.

This Tuesday night, A&E’s Born This Way will cover the potentially life-saving issue of supported decision-making for medical care. Supported decision-making is an emerging strategy to enable individuals with developmental and other disabilities to make their own choices. This is especially helpful in the health care setting where every person utilizes the expertise of his or her provider and other resources to make difficult health related decisions.

“RespectAbility applauds Born This Way for its informed and sensitive coverage of how adults with disabilities can safely and successfully interact with the healthcare system,” said Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, president of RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization that fights stigmas and advances opportunities for people with disabilities. “It’s not every day that reality shows can save lives – but this episode absolutely can do that. It also demonstrates that every human being has the right to be treated with dignity.”

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Born This Way Season 3 #BTWChat

Featuring Sandra Assimotos McElwee, mom of Born This Way cast member Sean – @purpose2inspire

Hosted by Lauren Appelbaum (@laurenappelbaum) of RespectAbility (@Respect_Ability), this Twitter chat will take a look at ideas explored in #BornThisWay by the young adults with Down syndrome and their parents.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017, 9:00-11:00 pm ET

Don’t have cable? You can livestream the show on A&E’s app.

You can find the questions for this chat in this post.

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Zero Actor Nominees for Academy Awards Have a Known Disability

Two Categories to Watch: Visual Effects and Full-Length Documentary Nominations Include People with Autism

Academy Award Oscar Statuettes

Photo by Toby Canham/Getty Images

Los Angeles, Calif. – As Hollywood gets ready to celebrate the Oscars this weekend, a glaring omission of nominees is evident. No known actor with a disability was nominated for an Academy Award. By not including authentic disability in the diversity conversation, Hollywood leaves out the largest minority in the U.S.

“Hollywood has to catch up with its audience,” RespectAbility President Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi said. “Diversity must really mean diversity – and that includes the one-in-five Americans who has a disability. Disability needs to be a part of every conversation on diversity. When films and television shows lack the inclusion of disability in their diversity efforts, Hollywood is disenfranchising the one-in-five Americans who have a disability.”

However, there are two examples of importance in this arena. Behind the scenes, Marvel’s Doctor Strange has been nominated in the category of visual effects. Two of the individuals who contributed to this cinematic technology, Jacob Fenster and Noah Schneider, have autism and currently work at Exceptional Minds Studios in Sherman Oaks, California. Marvel Studios is planning to partner on 15 more movies with Exceptional Minds, a nonprofit vocational school and working studio that prepares young adults on the autism spectrum for careers in digital animation and visual effects.

Additionally, Life, Animated was nominated for the full-length documentary category. The film shows how Owen, a young man with Autism who was unable to speak as a child, and his father are able to connect using Disney animated films.

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