Weekly News Updates, 2023
Each week we share disability, transition, and higher education news from a variety of sources. Click here to subscribe to NCCSD Weekly News Updates and other announcements . If you have any difficulty accessing the Weekly News Update, contact NCCSD@ahead.org. The NCCSD does not endorse any opinions in these articles nor does it guarantee accessibility of external sites. All images are from the news articles except where indicated; some may be subject to copyright.
NCCSD Weekly News Update, May 21-June 11, 2023
· Colleges in New Jersey and New York closed or switched to online learning as air quality became progressively worse from Canadian wildfires; wildfire smoke is especially dangerous for people with asthma and other respiratory conditions .
· For the seventh consecutive year, the University of Alabama’s wheelchair tennis team won the national championship ; it was also the first time the event ran concurrently with the NCAA Tennis Association championships. Sports Illustrated recently featured the Berry brothers , who are both paralyzed and “powerhouse” players for Alabama.
· The ACT will expand online college admissions exams in December, with new built-in accessibility accommodations for students with disabilities.
· A joint “Dear Colleague” letter from the US Department of Justice and the US Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights reminds colleges and universities of their obligations to provide digital accessibility and recent enforcement efforts .
· Rabia Dhaliwal was honored with the British Columbia’s Governor’s Medal for Inclusion, Democracy, and Reconciliation for her academic achievement, work on mental health issues in South Asian communities, and leadership in the student Disabilities United Collective at the University of British Columbia.
· An Ableism in the Academy: Who’s Listening? panel took place at the University of Manitoba, with panelists noting that people with disabilities still have the “burden of accessibility” in higher education (the article has a link to a Zoom recording of the panel).
· Virtual field work programs in geology and other fields hope to make inaccessible field sites accessible to people with disabilities.
· The state of New Jersey is the first to fund 24/7 mental health tele-services to all higher education institutions in the state, and 96% of colleges and universities are participating.
· Black autistic high schooler Kymera Mitchell has been accepted to 19 colleges and offered over $500,000 in scholarships and financial aid.
· More students want to go back to virtual learning , including some students with disabilities.
· Disclosing a disability in grad school can be complicated, but students Karly Ball and Rachel Elizabeth Traxler offer three options.
· Expanding mental health services is not enough – colleges must also take responsibility by improving the campus climate, says a new report by Campus Futures.
· In a video from the Institute of Development Studies in the UK, panelists discuss making research, day-to-day communications, and events more accessible for people with disabilities.
· Grammarly is popular with disabled college students, and now it offers 12 inclusive language settings that automatically flag language that may be biased against disabled, BIPOC, and LGBTQ+ people.
· “She Persisted” podcast about teen and college student mental health was created by University of Pennsylvania student Saide Sutton. She has already published over 140 episodes.
· A new guide from the Southwest ADA Center explains disability-related access for inmates and visitors , which applies to college courses and accommodations, as well.
· The Chronicle of Higher Education has published a new book called The Accessible Campus: Supporting Students, Faculty, and Staff with Disabilities .
· ChatGPT and other AI tools can be great tools for people with disabilities , but are they also fostering inequities in education?
· De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde’s “Benildean Inclusion Stories” in the Philippines features students and young professionals with “specific learning needs” sharing their stories; the next features fashion entrepreneur Theres Anne “Tricie” Mendoza talking about her ADHD.
NCCSD Weekly News Update, May 14-20, 2023
- Florida governor Ron DeSantis has finished signing new legislation prohibiting any state funds for DEI programs at public college and universities. A Tulsa opinion piece breaks down what DEI actually means and how many activities and groups can be affected, including students with disabilities.
- In Ireland, if faculty want to make their courses inclusive for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), a new id+ Project at University College Cork (Coláiste na hOllscoile Corcaigh) helps faculty and students with and without IDD “co-learn” about inclusive courses.
- Disabled college students in Arizona will have an easier time providing disability documentation to register for services, thanks to a new state law designed to make the process easier and less costly.
- The Smithsonian has created Bravespace, with songs, sounds, and meditations from Asian-American women and non-binary artists (including scholars), focusing on dealing with collective trauma. [Captioning is not available.]
- Ismail Muhammad passed graduate qualifying exams at Cal Berkeley, and then experienced a mental health crisis that had him facing beliefs about Black men never needing therapy .
- The DO-IT Center at the University of Washington is celebrating its 30th anniversary , helping disabled students transition to college, providing expertise on assistive technology in high schools and higher education, and creating a community of professionals with disabilities.*
- She researched disability and now has a disability . Professor Kirsten Rummery at the University of Stirling in Scotland shared her story at commencement.
- Psychology Today has published tips for testing and college applications for students identifying as learning disabled or neurodiverse.
- Formerly in-care as a foster child , a graduate of the University of Kentucky who struggled with mental health has advice for foster teens and those who want to support them.
- In reporting about wellness and mental health , should we distinguish between wellness, “expectable distress,” and distress affecting daily functioning? And would it help students?
- A museum at the University of Puget Sound is changing the name of its Museum of Natural History so it no longer bears the name of a eugenics professor (eugenics led to forced sterilizations of disabled people and others, and influenced Nazis’ interest in a White supreme race).
- Three UC San Diego students from Active Minds share their journeys to becoming mental health advocates.
NCCSD Weekly News Update, May 7-13, 2023
· Students with intellectual disabilities will be able to participate in NCAA Division III sports without special waivers, thanks to Dylan Delaske at Bethel University.
· Maryland established a state Access to Mental Health Advisory Committee for higher education.
· Hartwick College is celebrating 25 years raising Guiding Eyes for the Blind puppies .
· Caden Cox made history as the first person with Down syndrome to play in an NCAA game , but he filed a federal lawsuit against Hocking College, alleging disability discrimination, retaliation, and abuse while he played football there.
· New research studies about college students and disability:
- Can students learn ASL from holograms? Gallaudet University researchers are hoping the answer is “yes.” Among other findings in the Student Voice survey from Inside Higher Ed , 67% of students with disabilities said they’ve been in classes where teaching style was a problem, and 55% of students with learning disabilities said they struggle with mental health. This article about instructional materials expands on the Student Voice findings.
- Nearly one in five college students don’t know if there are mental health resources available , and for students who knew about the resources, 55% reported problems using them, according to new research from Qualtrics.
- Students reported stress, mental health, cost, and inflation as key reasons why 41% of them have considered withdrawing from school.
· The University of Iowa had one of the first LGBTQ student groups in the country; a three-piece in-depth newspaper series explores the impact of AIDS on students and the broader community in Iowa City.
· Louis Emond died last week . At Dean College, he set up one of the first programs in the US for students with learning disabilities at the college level, while also believing faculty and others on campus needed to improve access, as well.
· High school students at Georgia Academy for the Blind are getting 3D yearbooks , courtesy of Mercer University engineering students.
· For the real truths about sports, join Pierce College’s sports class for senior citizens (“The Senior Smack Talkers”), who have become friends able to talk about “controversial” topics like cancer and health. But in class, discussions can get pretty heated – “It’s like herding cats,” says their professor.
· The student Disability Culture Committee at Queens College hosted a reading of essays from Disability Visibility by Alice Wong, sparking discussion about student experiences.
· “The Body is a House of Familiar Rooms” is a film by Hunter College grad student Lauryn Welch, who wanted to use art to explore her chronic illness and her partner’s, too. [A link to the film is in the article – FYI, it is a series of paintings with no audio and no audio description.]
· You’ve heard of therapy dogs, but what about disabled therapy cats? “Cats on Campus” is not only helping students’ mental health and stress, but also teaching lessons about disability.
NCCSD Weekly News Update, April 30-May 6, 2023
· Factoring in irregularities for Title IX complaints, disability complaints were once again the majority of the 18,804 complaints to the US Dept. of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.
· A student has filed a disability discrimination case against all 23 campuses in the California State University system , alleging widespread accommodations problems and failure to have emergency evacuation plans for disabled students.
· An annual College Prep Summit at the University of Alabama is giving students with intellectual disabilities and their families a chance to explore college options.
· “The Ring You Love Most” is a short romantic film about LGBTQ+ people with disabilities, involving disabled students from Sacrament State University writing, producing, filming, and acting for the Easterseals Disability Film Challenge (you can see the short by going to the article).
· Technology can technically be accessible even while the reality is different – an article suggests the University of Denver exemplifies a larger problem in higher ed.
· What is “harm”? More college students are saying it means physical threats, but also threats to emotional and mental health, which clashing with traditional vies of free speech.
· After immigrating from Mexico, Deaf college student Stacy Estrada and her family had to become trilingual in English, Spanish, and ASL.
· A court in Delhi, India, has ordered medical school entrance test administrators to include doctors with disabilities in developing new guidelines for candidates with disabilities.
· Eating disorders don’t just affect bodies – they also affect minds of students , says James Madison University student Emma Seli, reflecting on her own experiences.
· A disabled woman with a brain injury is one of hundreds of Indian college students being deported by the Canadian Border Services Agency for allegedly fake college admissions papers.
· The University of Iowa is creating a space on campus for disabled students, but it will not be a cultural center.
· With a new $500,000 grant, Temple University is creating a space in the Philadelphia community for disabled students and the public to connect to assistive technology and wheelchair repair.
· Cute service dog warning! Some of Auggie’s training was on University campuses, so he went to work with student Franny Cipriano at Illinois State University; campus service animal policies are included in the article.
NCCSD Weekly News Update, April 23-29, 2023
· Graduation is coming soon! Columbia University student Leslie Zukor created Columbia University’s first-ever Disability Affinity Graduation celebration, and California Polytechnic State University is hosting “cultural commencements” that include a disability celebration.
· A Yale News article discusses whether or not students should disclose mental health struggles in their college essays; Yale has a non-discrimination policy, but some students are questioning whether admission officers may use legal ways around it.
· While recovering from a traumatic brain injury, Nirali Chauhan used pretend baking as exercise . Now the University of Illinois College of Medicine student is one of nine contestants on The Great American Baking Show.
· The US Dept. of Education released a new report with guidance for campuses serving current or previously incarcerated students, recommending provision of mental health services, assistance getting documentation and paperwork, and the same services on-campus students receive.
· With little media attention, North Dakota is the first to pass an anti-DEI law for higher education, prohibiting diversity and DEI work, but still allowing trainings about federal and state non-discrimination laws [e.g., the ADA]
· Gloriann Gurule is from a family of truckers , and she’s the first Deaf graduate of the trucking program at Central New Mexico Community College.
· Students set up an Equal Access and Disability Rights Commission at Brigham Young University , using human rights truth commissions as a model, collecting statements, interviewing campus members experiencing disability discrimination, and making recommendations to BYU.
· Psychological counselors are embedded in Virginia Tech’s dorms , taking pressure off RAs and increasing availability for students.
· A UK lecturer at Coleg Gwent beauty school learned British Sign Language for the school’s first Deaf student, and it led to BSL courses, Deaf services, and 63 Deaf and hard-of-hearing students.
· Disabled scholars in Canada are experiencing ableist “ad hoc” agreements and department-level funding to get accommodations, creating a lack of access and equity.
· Students at Washington University are frustrated that the campus is compliant with the ADA, but still inaccessible, while Connecticut College students are feeling the same way .
· Information about assistance animals, service animals, and emotional support animals in higher education is part of a new blog series at JD Supra.
· A few professors were in the media for their writing about disability:
- Poet Ann Wallace (a cancer survivor with MS and long COVID) is the new poet laureate of Jersey City
- Diablo Valley College professor Adam Bessie has written a graphic novel about community colleges during COVID and his experiences doing remote teaching while dealing with a brain tumor
- An interview with Stephanie Kerschbaum explores disability, diversity, and disclosure
- University of Kansas professors Teri Finneman and Erika Pribanic-Smith have a new book about journalism history and social justice, including the disability rights movement
NCCSD Weekly News Update, April 16-22, 2023
· University of Michigan pediatric neurologist Vivian Cheung has filed a disability discrimination lawsuit, alleging a major research organization stopped her funding and asked her to retire after she became disabled – an example of ways BIPOC disabled researchers in STEM need more support.
· The University of Utah has been working on ableism in STEM for years, addressing accessibility, inclusive research, and courses.
· Nothing about us, without us’ includes research that needs to connect disability justice and racial equity, says Anjali Forber-Pratt, director of NIDILRR. The article is in the latest issue of Impact magazine, which focuses on disability research and underrepresented communities.
· The Alliance of Students with Disabilities for Inclusion, Networking, and Transition (TAPDINTO-STEM) is a consortium of 29 colleges and universities, and Utah State University is the latest to join their work expanding STEM opportunities for students with disabilities.
· Ten teams competed at the 22nd USTA Collegiate Wheelchair Tennis National Championships , involving single and team competitions. The top four teams were from the University of Alabama, Auburn University, Boise State, and San Diego State.
· A new study in Ireland found that post-COVID , almost one out of three college students report having a disability, up from 25% in 2019.
· The series “Sex Lives of College Girls” on HBO was highlighted in a new report as an example of intersectionality and diversity in films and TV.
· The Disabled/Chronically Ill Student Community Organization (DISCO) at Kenyon College has set up a network of alums who have disabilities or professional experience working with disabled people .
· Did you have problems with high school special education services before you graduated? A new policy letter from the Office of Special says state education agencies have to resolve complaints made up to one year after graduation.
· If colleges want to address student mental health , they should experiment with small interventions first, focusing on student populations needing the most support, according to research presented at the American Council on Education’s annual meeting.
· The federal government has asked for ideas to “reshape and reimagine higher education,” including changes in traditional college tests and assessments , which “disadvantages those with disabilities.”
· A student at West Chester University in Australia notes that university housing crises and waiting lists can unintentionally make things worse financially and academically for students with disabilities.
· “What about disabled workers?” A professor argues that unions should take care of work spaces and employees, but also employees who are people with disabilities.
· British Vogue’s May issue will have five different covers with five different models who have disabilities , including education activist and college graduate Sinéad Burke and college student Justina Miles. The magazine will also add alt text and audio description to its website from this point forward.
NCCSD Weekly News Update, April 9-15, 2023
· A new $224 million Pathways to Partnerships Innovative Model Demonstration Program at the U.S. Department of Education will seek out ways to improve postsecondary readiness for students with disabilities.
· In a first for a major U.S. university, a new University of Minnesota report examined its history with Indigenous people , including genocide, forced removals, physical experiments on people with illnesses and disabilities, and a history of hiding and burying sick children at boarding schools on UMN land.
· In 2022, the US Department of Justice found the Minnesota corrections department was violating the rights of incarcerated students with disabilities, and one professor notes that numerous problems persist.
· When a student gets their loans forgiven, parents still have to pay the loans they took out for the student’s education – one mom is still paying off $77,000 while her son owes nothing.
· Hear 103-year-old Zona Roberts, the “grandmother” of the disability movement, talk about her son Ed Roberts , who created lasting change in higher education, independent living, and rehabilitation fields.
· Three new student groups are working to change their campuses: Grinnell Colege launched its new Disabilty Cultural Center (DCC); a “Divine Disability” group started at North Carolina A&T; and Seton Hall University has a new Disability Awareness and Acessibility (DAASH) student group.
· Truthout interviews Stanford education professor Subini Annamma about the field of “DisCrit” and how racism “works to subordinate specific people, while ableism is the means for achieving that goal.
· The MIND/MOVE program at the University of Delaware is seeking ways to support mental health needs of students with intellectual disabilities on campus.
· As Boston University’s graduate student union grew, so did its networking among and with disabled workers , creating a new caucus for disabled, chronically ill, and neurodivergent grad workers.
· In the 2023 Inside Higher Ed Survey of College and University Presidents, 56 percent believe COVID-19 made students’ mental health worse, but two-thirds said they have sufficient capacity to deal with students’ mental health needs.
· The Atlantic has published an excerpt of a new book, The Best Minds , exploring how a “genius” law school friend with schizophrenia became a murderer, and whether medical and political systems were to blame.
· More than a cute face! Research shows therapy dogs help students deal with stress and mental illnesses.
NCCSD Weekly News Update, April 2-8, 2023
· The RISE Act is being introduced in the US House of Representatives by a bipartisan group of legislators – it would address barriers college students with disabilities face.
· Jewish culture, diet culture, and eating disorders can collide during Passover , but for Gila Axelrod, learning about the body liberation movement in college changed everything.
· Princeton’s new construction aims for “experiential equity” and specific features for neurodiverse students.
· Nigeria is leading Sub-Saharan Africa in legislation prohibiting discrimination against students with mental illnesses.
· Two University of Massachusetts students from the Diabetes Link talk in-depth about their experiences managing diabetes during college, with major changes starting before they even set foot on campus.
· Black women who are neurodivergent or developmentally disabled are rare in the workforce , but Professor Sefakor Komabu-Pomeyie is working to change that – her experiences as a disabled female immigrant inform her work.
· In her “Chronically Catherine” column, Catherine Ames shares experiences with chronic illness while attending the University of Southern California.
· After Deaf students laughed at her gestures during lectures (which were often inappropriate in ASL), RIT professor Tina Collison worked with Deaf students to create a sign language lexicon for organic chemistry , winning honors from the Royal Society of Chemistry.
· In a college student survey by Inside Higher Ed, all students said they prefer interactive learning – especially LGBTQ students and students with learning disabilities.
· Some college counseling centers are dealing with increased demand by triaging students to see if their needs could actually be met by other campus resources.
· Marquette University is part of a new trend, creating a Wellness and Rec Center providing mental and physical health resources , with counseling services, the rec center and health services under one roof.
· Best Value Schools has published their list of “24 Best Colleges for Students with Autism in 2023,” with Bellevue College in Washington coming in at #1. The list looks at which colleges offer specialized programs for autistic students.
NCCSD Weekly News Update, March 26-April 1, 2023
· Gallaudet University President Bobbi Cordano is a USA Today 2023 Women of the Year national honoree for her work creating cultural change as the university’s first woman and openly LGBTQ President. National and state honorees include Michelle Obama, the US women’s national soccer team, and several women with disabilities. You can learn more about her in an interview that aired on ABC News .
· A new Inclusive Higher Education Accreditation Council will provide standards and benchmarks for inclusive college programs for students with intellectual disabilities.
· Students of all ages are struggling with the shortage of ADHD medications and its effect on their education.
· The National Indian Council on Aging and the National Council on Disability published Understanding Disabilities in American Indian & Alaska Native Communities Toolkit Guide – it includes information about K-12 and higher education, tips to advocate for change, examples of culturally-informed programs, and more.
· The University of Notre Dame has a “Count Me In” campaign encouraging faculty and staff to self-identify their disability status, to provide them with resources and to have better disability information for policymaking.
· President Biden has appointed “Dr O” (Dr. Oluwaferanmi Okanlami) to the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness, & Nutrition ; he is the director of the University of Michigan disability accessibility and services office and a medical school professor at Michigan Medicine and UCLA. Click here to learn more about Dr. O .
· USA Lacrosse Magazine has published an edition focused on lacrosse athletes with disabilities , including many college students.
· The View co-hosts interviewed Deaf Bowie State University student Justina Miles after her ASL interpretation at the Super Bowl went viral. You can learn more about Miles at HBCUConnect.com .
· A new report at the University of Arizona highlights numerous mistakes prior to the killing of professor Thomas Meixner by a former student, including prioritizing student privacy over campus safety and not systematically addressing the student’s mental health conditions.
· College students and activists discuss dating with a disability , where sometimes “accessibility is a love language.”
· Disabled faculty and staff at the University of Portland have formed a Disability Affinity Group to support other disabled people on campus and create change.
· Boston College runner Marne Sullivan tried to hide her hearing loss and cochlear implant but now she’s the leader of the disability group in a DEI organization for student athletes.
· Grab some popcorn and binge-watch a TV show tackling ableism . You’ll notice many characters are future or current college students with disabilities.
DREAM Weekly News Update, September 25-October 8, 2022
- Hurricane Fiona hit Puerto Rico and then Hurricane Ian swept through Florida and the entire Southeastern seaboard, leaving a wake of destruction:
- Use the NCCSD Clearinghouse Crisis resources , including the Disaster Distress Helpline (1-800-985-5990) and SAMHSA’s Disaster Technical Assistance Center .
- PTSD affects 30-40% of survivors after natural disasters.
- Florida students are dealing with flooding and power outages as colleges struggle to deal with repairs and staying open.
- Networks of organizations are reaching out to disabled survivors, raising funds, and organizing resources.
- Consider ways to be ready for an emergency or natural disaster if you have a disability.
- The National Low Income Housing Coalition has resources for people who are homeless after the storms.
- Teen Vogue’s disability section published a series of articles about disability (in)justice, including some experiences of students and academic activists.
- Assistive technology for disabled students can help all students and colleges should help ease technology barriers, says a new Educause report on postsecondary technology use during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Sacramento State English professor Dr. Hellen Lee discusses how student assistants are accommodations for a disability affecting her hands.
- The husband of a former Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation counselor pled guilty to a $1.3 million scheme to create fake students with disabilities and steal money designated for their educational expenses.
- There are two new movies focusing on disability and higher education:
- “Coming Up for Air” is about a college diver who begins to have mental health issues, and how his family, coaches, and college staff try to help him.
- “Luckiest Girl Alive” moves between a woman’s successes in business and college, revealing the disabilities she’s trying to hide, the horrific trauma she carries with her, and the labels that may or may not define her.