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Richard Branson: Dyslexia is an Opportunity

Richard Branson smiling with arms crossed, wearing a black top

Richard Branson

Rockville, Md., Oct. 3 – Richard Branson always has had a “go getter attitude” in life, even when it comes to his dyslexia.

“Dyslexia is a kind of disability, but actually it’s an opportunity if you turn it into such,” he said during the SkyBridge Capital’s SALT Conference in Las Vegas.

As a child, Branson struggled in school with his dyslexia, failing at the all-boy school Scaitcliffe. When he was 13, he transferred to the Stowe school, a boarding school in Buckinghamshire, England. His struggles in school did not get any better, so at the age of 16, he dropped out of school.

This led to the beginning of his entrepreneur career; he started a magazine that was made by and for students. Called Student, the first edition sold an estimated 8,000 advertisements, enabling him to give out the first 50,000 copies for free.

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Daymond John: Clothing Entrepreneur and “Shark Tank” Star with Dyslexia

#RESPECTTHEABILITY CAMPAIGN:

Spotlight on FUBU’s Daymond John

Headshot of Daymon John in grayscale with text: #RespectTheAbility, “I see the world in a different way than most people and for me, that’s been a positive thing.” - Daymond John, Black History Month 2018

“I see the world in a different way than most people and for me, that’s been a positive thing.” – Daymond John

Rockville, Md., Oct. 2 – Growing up, Daymond John struggled in elementary school, where he was diagnosed with a general “learning disability” without being provided many resources or support. Today, John boasts unimaginable success as a multimillionaire and entrepreneur as the co-founder and CEO of FUBU and a shark on The Shark Tank.

John credits his dyslexia with setting him on his path to entrepreneurial success. “I see the world in a different way than most people and for me that’s been a positive thing,” he said in an interview with AOL.

When John went to school in the 1970’s, the public still lacked information on dyslexia, so children with the disability were given a general diagnosis of a learning disability, like John was. His math and science skills were exceptional, but his reading and writing grades were below average. The entrepreneur was anxious about his difficulty reading and writing until 1999, when he finally saw a medical professional who diagnosed him as dyslexic.

“It was like a light bulb went off. I finally understood why I struggled the way I did,” John said in an interview with AOL.

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Ernst & Young (EY): Co-Founded by Super-Talent with Disabilities, Now Employs More Than 230,000 People

#RespectTheAbility Campaign:

Spotlight on Ernst & Young (EY)’s Co-Founder Arthur Young

Rockville, Md., Oct. 2 – Located at 5 Times Square, the red letters of Ernst & Young LLP (EY) glow on the side of its New York City offices. It’s been said that if you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere; and if you have an office in Times Square, in the heart of the city, you’ve truly arrived. That’s the global headquarters of EY, which was co-founded by Arthur Young. Trained as a lawyer, Arthur was deaf with low vision and he wasn’t able to comfortably practice. He turned to finance and the new field of accounting to build his career. His “disability” drove him to innovation and entrepreneurship, which played a pivotal role in the development of EY.

EY is where some of the most talented individuals from across the globe come together to offer services that have turned the organization into an international success, with offices in more than 150 different countries employing more than 230,000 people. A largely unknown factor in EY’s success is the example instilled by founding partner Arthur Young, who because of his disabilities adapted to learn how to think outside of the box. Over the years, EY has continued this trend of hiring the best talent, no matter what package that talent comes in.

By focusing on inclusion across the board, EY has opened the organization to a wide range of talented people, who contribute a wide range of ideas, which has ultimately resulted in tremendous success for the organization. As a result of its inclusiveness efforts, EY was selected by RespectAbility and Positive EXPOSURE, two nonprofit organizations working to enable people with disabilities to be seen for the strong abilities they bring to the table, as the first organization featured when the #RespectTheAbility campaign began.

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Inclusion, Innovation and Opportunity: Celebrating National Disability Employment Awareness Month

1-in-5 Americans have a disability

Rockville, Md., Oct. 2 – RespectAbility, a nonprofit fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for people with disabilities, is celebrating National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). RespectAbility is marking this annual celebration focused on the incredible talents of the one-in-five Americans who have disabilities with solution center full of free resources, webinars and more.

SOLUTIONS CENTER: Explore our expanded tools and free resources at our new Solutions Center.

WEBINARS: We have extensive free webinars showcasing some of the most innovative thought leaders working today on disability employment issues. Do you want to learn to better serve job seekers with disabilities? Do you want to implement innovative strategies for supporting youth with disabilities? Then, visit our website.

JOB SEEKERS: RespectAbility knows that people with disabilities can be excellent employees, but the job search can be a challenge. Thus, we present a selection of information, resources and websites that can help you and your loved ones with a disability search for a job on our Job Seekers with a Disability Resource Page.

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Dancing with the Stars Shines Light on Disability

Rockville, Md., Sept. 29 – Earlier this month, Season 25 of Dancing with the Stars (DWTS) premiered, bringing 13 new cast members and their pros into the spotlight.

Not only has DWTS been praised for its high viewing rates, but the show is part of a group of reality television shows leading the way in busting stigmas on disability.

A mixture of talented celebrities, athletes, entertainers, race car drivers, actors and investors such as Barbra Corcoran, Derek Fisher, Debbie Gibson and Frankie Muniz are battling to win the coveted Mirrorball Trophy.

Known for being one of ABC’s top-notch reality TV shows since 2005, it has won countless awards such as Emmy Awards and nominations for Outstanding Reality Competition Program, Outstanding Choreography and Outstanding Host on a Reality Television Program.

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Speechless: Disability is not an Excuse

Rockville, Md., Sept. 29 – In the season two premiere of Speechless, the DiMeo family is trying to discover new things about themselves as J.J. (Micah Fowler) was away at summer camp. In doing so, the episode had an important theme: Don’t blame your problems on your kid with a disability for “disability is not an excuse.”

Last season introduced viewers to the interesting lives of the DiMeo family, and Kenneth (Cedric Yarbrough) who essentially “speaks” for J.J., who has cerebral palsy and is unable to talk. Fowler has cerebral palsy in real life but is able to talk. Speechless is one of the only shows in television where the actor has a disability in real life.

More than 95 percent of characters with disabilities on television are played by actors without disabilities. Fowler bucks that trend and is one of the rare actors in Hollywood who has a disability, despite the fact that one-in-five Americans has a disability.

In the season two premiere, the Dimeo’s decide not to use J.J.’s disability as an excuse (with the exceptions of parking tickets) to why they do not do certain things. They ask Kenneth tell them “all the madness that they have gotten use to that they don’t see anymore.”

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This Is Us Tackles Obesity, Mental Health and Alcoholism

Rockville, Md., Sept. 28 – In Tuesday night’s premiere of season two of This is Us, viewers were reintroduced to The Pearson couple, Rebecca and Jack, played by Milo Ventimiglia and Mandy Moore as well as “The Big Three” triplets: Kate (Chrissy Metz), Kevin (Justin Hartley) and Randall (Sterling K. Brown).

The first season dealt with issues of diversity, mental health and obesity by portraying various family members’ interactions. These themes are expected to continue through the second season.

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Review: The Good Doctor, Season One, Episode One

Rockville, Md., Sept. 27 – In Monday night’s premiere of The Good Doctor, Freddie Highmore starred as Shaun Murphy, a brilliant doctor who has autism. Fighting for a chance of a surgical residency at the prestigious San Jose hospital, his supporters also point out how Murphy is a savant.

Murphy’s brilliance is illustrated in how he saves a young boy, inventing medical devices in the field to ensure he stays breathing and then by detecting an irregular rhythm in his heart.

The Good Doctor defies the myths about autism – that individuals with autism are unattached, desiring isolation, incapable of feeling,” said Founder of The Miracle Project Elaine Hall, who attended a premiere screening of the episode last Monday at the Semel Institute at UCLA. “Dr. Shaun Murphy is a highly sensitive, emotionally attached, young man who has endured great hardships and tragedy and yet is capable of great feeling.”

Discrimination in the Workplace

Even so, hospital board members debate if the hospital should be hiring someone like Murphy. Dr. Marcus Andrews points out reasons against, including potential lack of bedside manner and temperament, as well as higher malpractice insurance.

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Q&A about Premiere of Young Sheldon

Rockville, Md., Sept. 27 – In Monday night’s premiere of Young Sheldon, a spin-off prequel to The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon Cooper, a profoundly gifted (PG) nine-year old, is about to enter high school. Alienated from his community, he has multiple social limitations without the support needed in 1989 East Texas.

In The Big Bang Theory, Jim Parsons won an Emmy for his portrayal of adult Sheldon, who is never diagnosed on either show but fits the profile of a twice-exceptional character.

The term twice exceptional, often abbreviated as 2e, entered educators’ lexicon in the mid-1990s and refers to intellectually gifted children who have some form of disability. These children are considered exceptional both because of their intellectual gifts and because of their disabilities.

Stephanie is the mother of a young daughter who is PG and 2e. She shared some of her thoughts about the first episode of the show.

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Voters with Disabilities Matter – This Year and Every Year

National Voter Registration Day

woman with a cane and man in a wheelchair at voting boothWashington, Sept. 26 – RespectAbility is honored to participate in the sixth annual National Voter Registration Day (NVRD), a nonpartisan effort to encourage people to register to vote and make their voices heard in our nation’s political process. Today, organizations nationwide will register thousands of new voters.

However, if you read the news today, many people might feel discouraged, disconnected or unconvinced that their voices matter. Last year, it was clear that getting the vote out mattered with the high stakes of a presidential race and key Senate contests across the country. What about this year? Why should people get out, get registered and get out the voter in a quiet year like 2017? The reason is simple.

As the former Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Tip O’Neill famously said, “All politics is local.” Did you know that 59 of the 100 largest cities in America are holding elections this year? Did you know there are 36 mayoral races and more than 360 city council races in 2017 alone? In communities across the country, local, municipal and state elections are taking place this year.

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