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Press Releases

#RepresentationMatters for People with Disabilities

Where We Are on TV Report '17-'18 CoverRockville, Md., Nov. 11 – RespectAbility congratulates GLAAD on releasing the 2017-2018 Where We Are on TV Report, which includes the only analysis of primetime scripted series regulars on broadcast networks of characters with disabilities. Largely known for tracking the number of LGBTQ characters on broadcast and cable networks, as well as streaming services, the Where We Are on TV Report also tracks racial, gender and disability inclusion on television.

The amount of regular primetime broadcast characters counted who have a disability has slightly increased to 1.8 percent, but that number still vastly underrepresents the actualities of Americans with disabilities. There are only two characters across all three platforms that are depicted has HIV-positive, a decrease of one from last year.

RespectAbility agrees with GLAAD that #RepresentationMatters. Just as GLAAD will continue to work alongside the industry to tell LGBTQ stories on screen and further the conversation through their year-round work, RespectAbility will continue to do so for full representation of people with disabilities – including those with disabilities who are LGBTQ.

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The Stramski Children’s Development Center Offers a Variety of Programs for Children with Neurodevelopmental, Genetic, Craniofacial and Psychological Disabilities

A smiling toddler holding a flower. The caption says "We help Children's Health Blossom".Long Beach, Calif., Nov. 7 – For children with disabilities, early intervention provides a stronger foundation on which motor, social and academic skills can be strengthened. The Stramski Children’s Development Center offers therapy and support to assist children with disabilities, helping them get a head start and keep up with their peers as they grow older, increasing their opportunities and competencies.

The Stramski Center is headed by its Director, Dr. Gary Feldman. It was founded in 1975 by Dr. Geraldine A. Stramski, first called the Children’s Memorial Hospital Auxiliary before being renamed in 1991. Since then, the center has expanded its programs into many disciplines. They serve the children of the Long Beach area with any neurodevelopmental, genetic, craniofacial or psychological issues as well as those with sleep disorders. Stramski also supports families looking to adopt internationally.

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This Is Us Plunges into the Epidemic of Opioid Misuse Disorder

Rockville, Md., Oct. 28 – This week on This Is Us, Kevin (Justin Hartley) has a drug misuse disorder; he is living with an addiction to pills. The audience watches as Kevin is trying to recover from his knee surgery in order to ensure an immediate and speedy return to his role on the movie set. The doctor prescribes Vicodin to manage Kevin’s pain. The first fill of the prescription quickly becomes a refill and then another until finally the doctor refuses to give Kevin access to any more pills.

In this episode, the audience witnesses the effects that the misuse disorder can have on the user and his or her relationships. Kevin becomes disengaged and solely focused on finding more medication while his relationship with his girlfriend begins to spiral downward. While she is a doctor, she does not know he has become addicted.

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Senators Discuss Opioid Painkillers Overdose Epidemic

Washington, D.C., Oct. 27 – “I woke up in the morning to my wife screaming, ‘Thad, wake up! Thad, wake up!’” said Todd Burke, father of then 22-year-old Thad Burke. The grieving father spoke with a shaky voice through tears to an audience of journalists and advocates live on stage at The Washington Post’s panel on ‘Addiction In America: A Nation Responds’ last week.

Clutched in his hands a tin can of what formerly held protein powder that now held his son’s ashes, Burke shared his story.

Thadeus A. Burke died on Oct. 2, 2016. He was addicted to opioids and overdosed on heroin. He was one of the “estimated 62,000 people who died of a drug overdose in 2016,” according to Lenny Bernstein, a Health and Medicine reporter for The Washington Post.

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26 Governors Celebrate Employment Opportunities for People with Disabilities

26 States Celebrating National Disability Employment Awareness Month with a Proclamation or Event (highlighted in red)

States Celebrating National Disability Employment Awareness Month with a Proclamation or Event (highlighted in red)

Rockville, Md., Oct. 25 – In honor of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), 26 governors have joined together to show their support through public proclamations, executive orders and press statements. Expanding employment opportunities is not partisan, as both Democrats and Republicans are quick to recognize the abilities of what people with disabilities can accomplish.

“Disability Employment Awareness Month is a great way to emphasize the importance of the contributions of persons with disabilities,” said Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards of Louisiana. “Our businesses and communities can greatly benefit from the integrated, competitive employment of persons with disabilities.”

Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s NDEAM statement argued that “people with disabilities offer a wide range of expertise and play an integral role in our efforts to build an inclusive community and strong economy.”

The nation’s governors are critical partners in the continuing effort to advance job opportunities for millions of people with disabilities. Governors can drive policy, prioritizes programs and bring attention to what people with disabilities can accomplish if given a fair chance. Over the past four years, RespectAbility, a nonprofit fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for people with disabilities, has had the pleasure of meeting with 44 governors to talk about disability employment and advocate for best practices. We have forged partnerships with Republicans and Democrats alike, who are committed to the idea that people with disabilities deserve the opportunity to earn an income and achieve independence, just like anyone else.

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IBM: Recruiting Talent with Disabilities, Serving Customers with Disabilities

Rockville, Md., Oct. 25 – IBM always has been inclusive of the disability community ever since they first hired a person with a disability in 1914. Since then, the company has taken numerous steps and created various programs to ensure that people with disabilities are well accommodated for within their organization and that their consumers with disabilities are provided with accessible and sound products.

More than 25 years ago, Yves Veulliet, a wheelchair user, started as an entry-level administrative assistant at IBM.

“IBM already had very high accessibility standards back then and I could work without any obstacles,” he said. “All my colleagues could interact with me easily and I felt completely autonomous.”

In 2005 he was promoted to Global Disability & Inclusion Manager. “To me, it was a way of paying back IBM for all they allowed me to be and become in my professional path.”

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Accessibility Through Innovation is Model of Success

Comcast NBCUniversal sends message “status quo is not good enough”

Rockville, Md., Oct. 25 – Tom Wlodkowski, who is blind, loves TV.  He knows first-hand that, contrary to conventional wisdom, he’s not the only blind or vision-impaired person who is passionate about entertainment and news media. Indeed, millions of vision-impaired people love to watch television. However, since blind and low-vision people could not access the menus for the hundreds of channels that Comcast offers, Comcast was missing out on customers – and vision-impaired people were missing a lot of shows.

Because of Wlodkowski, who is Vice President, Accessibility for Comcast Cable, and his team, Comcast invented a new interface to solve the problem so that vision-impaired customers could use their remote controls to choose their favorite shows. The navigational text of the set top box is announced in speech when highlighted by the push of a button on the remote. It is the nation’s first talking cable TV interface.

Tom Wlodkowski holding a remote in front of a wall mounted TV showing a baseball game

Tom Wlodkowski, Vice President, Accessibility for Comcast Cable, demonstrates how a blind person can access Comcast’s vast offerings.

Comcast as a company, as well as its customers with vision-impairments, each benefited by the fact that Comcast has people with disabilities in leadership positions and throughout its team. As a company, Comcast understands the importance of making its products and services open to all users, regardless of their abilities. People with disabilities serve in various roles throughout the company.

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Freddie Mac Enlists Employees on the Autism Spectrum

People with Autism Possess Skills that Strengthen Workforce

Rockville, Md., Oct. 25 – “An untapped reservoir of talent.”

This is how Megan Pierouchakos, Diversity Manager at Freddie Mac until earlier this year, describes a commonly overlooked segment of candidates poised to work for the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation.

Since 2011, Freddie Mac and The Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) have partnered to create internship opportunities for recent college graduates on the autism spectrum. These interns gain experience and enter the workforce of a leading American company. Through Freddie Mac, the interns are able to access valuable work experience that suit their specific skill set. In return, Freddie Mac gets new and talented recruits.

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Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Tackles Stigma on Mental Health, Therapy

Rockville, Md., Oct. 23 – Crazy Ex-Girlfriend on the CW just entered its third season. This season follows the main character, Rebecca Bunch, as she copes with being left at the altar when her fiancé suddenly decided to join the priesthood.

Writer, producer and actress Rachel Bloom says of her character, “She is going into this season saying, ‘I am a sexy, strong woman scorned.’”

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This Is Us Unravels Stigma around Anxiety, Health and Addiction

Rockville, Md., Oct. 23 – Television series by Dan Fogelman, This Is Us, is unraveling the stigma around anxiety, addressing physical health and alluding to an upcoming plot-line with a heavy focus on addiction.

Not only is the show written in a way that people can connect with but it also is subliminally inviting the everyday viewer to join the conversation about the inclusion of people with disabilities.

Spoilers ahead.

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