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  • Writing About People With Disabilities

    Writing About People With Disabilities

    Editor’s Note: Many of us unknowingly carry prejudices and misconceptions about people with disabilities. Sometimes, these are magnified in the media. This page was developed to put the media in touch with credible sources on people with disabilities and related issues. Most of the resources are contributions of Dr. Clyde Shideler, executive director of CE Disabled Services in San Luis Rey, Calif., and Marcia Carlson and Thomas Link of the University of Wisconsin.

    National Center on Disability and Journalism
    An independent journalism organization, its mission is “to educate journalists and educators about disability reporting issues in order to produce more accurate, fair and diverse news reporting.” Lists programs, links, mailing lists, etc.

    National Center on Physical Activity and Disability (NCPAD)

    Temple University Institute on Disabilities

    ADL: Brief History of the Disability Rights Movement

    Disability Rights Timeline
    From Temple University’s Institute on Disabilities

    Journalist’s Resource: Four Tips for Reporting on People With Disabilities
    Includes an OPAC that deals with limb loss, its secondary conditions and causes. A useful source for health reporters.

    NY Times: How to Report With Care on Disability

    American Foundation for the Blind: Reporter Resources

    National Disabled Law Students Association
    NDLSA is a non-profit advocacy organization dedicated to advocating for and empowering disabled law students, recent law school graduates, legal professionals and their allies. NDLSA works to educate the abled word on the challenges experienced by disabled law students and disabled bar exam takers. With over 30 affiliate organizations, NDLSA works to build and strengthen the disabled community within the broader legal field.

    The Verge: Tech Journalism’s Accessibility Problem

    GIJN: Reporting Guide to Investigating Disability Issues
    A valuable resource if you’re writing about nursing homes.

    National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.
    Information about rare diseases.

    Special Olympics
    Volunteer, coaching information, stories, press releases, etc.

    John P. Kennedy Foundation for People with Intellectual Disabilities
    Volulunteer, coaching information, stories, press releases, etc.

    Media Guide: Your Language Matters When Writing About Mental Illness
    A two-page guide to help journalists choose respectful, neutral language when covering mental health issues. From the Mental Health Association of Portland.

    National Center on Disability and Journalism Disability Language Style Guide
    This guide covers more than 200 disability words and phrases, many not addressed in the AP guide. As far as we are aware it is the most comprehensive guide currently available. Also offered in Spanish.

    Amputee Coalition of America

    National Center for Disabilities and Journalism

    Institute for Community Inclusion: State Data Online
    This Web site generates customized charts of state, national, and individual disability data. Accessible text versions are automatically created by the charting software. The site currently includes data sets from state mental retardation/developmental disabilities agencies, the Rehabilitation Services Administration, the Social Security Administration, and the U.S. Department of Labor.

    National Rehabilitation Information Center
    An abundance of disability and rehabilitation-oriented information organized in a variety of formats designed to make it easy for users to find and use.

    Not Dead Yet
    Spearheaded by Coleman and Drake, this group organizes people with disabilities nationally to protest assisted suicide.

    Center for Research on Women with Disabilities
    Focuses on issues related to health, aging, civil rights, abuse, and independent living. Located at the Baylor College of Medicine in Texas.

    California Coalition Against Sexual Assault
    Representing 92 rape crisis/rape prevention programs and allied members, this association offers resources and staff to answer questions on sexual abuse of persons with disabilities.

    The Center for an Accessible Society
    This site claims to “help journalists find quality information and sources.”


    Little People of America, Inc.

    A mental health site.

    Ehlers-Danlos National Foundation
    EDS is a connective tissue disorder that can be severely disabling and, in one form, deadly.

    EDS Today
    EDS is a connective tissue disorder that can be severely disabling and, in one form, deadly.

    Ehlers-Danlos Support Group (UK)
    EDS is a connective tissue disorder that can be severely disabling and, in one form, deadly.

    ICFJ: How Disinformation and Hate Fuel Online Attacks Against Women Journalists

    Key organizations and government agencies

    U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

    U.S. Department of Health & Human Services: National Institute of Health

    Office of Civil Rights (OCR)

    Civil Rights Data Collection
    The Civil Rights Data Collection is a biennial survey required by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights since 1968. It collects data from a universe of all public local educational agencies and schools, including juvenile justice facilities, charter schools, alternative schools and schools serving students with disabilities.

    U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

    National Council on Disability

    National Federation for the Blind

    The American Association on Mental Retardation

    National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke

    ADA Technical Assistance Program

    National Niemann-Pick Disease Foundation, Inc.

    United Cerebral Palsy

    Equal Opportunity Publications
    Employment opportunities, online resume database, magazines, etc.

    Job Accommodation Network (JAN)
    Employment opportunities, online resume database, magazines, etc.

    San Antonio Disability Handbook
    For etiquette, and “people first” language.

    Assistive technology and assistance dogs

    Assistive Tech

    Disability Equipment
    “Talking signs” for the blind and others unable to read print.

    WebAIM Web Accessibility

    Web Accessibility Initiative Web Content Guidelines

    “Accessible Blog” on Web Design Digital Books
    Web-based digital library of electronic books.

    Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute

    Little People of America, Inc.

    National Niemann-Pick Disease Foundation, Inc.

    United Cerebral Palsy

    Dog Trainers

    Southeastern Guide Dogs, Inc.

    Information About Service Horses

    Guide Dogs for the Blind, Inc.

    Guide Dogs of America

    Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind

    Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation

    International Journalists’ Network: Tips to Make Your Visual Journalism More Accessible

    Disability research studies

    University of Hawaii, Center on Disability Studies

    DOIT University of Washington


    Legal issues

    Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund

    Disability Law: Attorney Pete Wright Case Law
    Legal assistance for people with disabilities.

    Autism/cognitive disabilities

    Cognitive Designs Adaptive Technology Software

    Attention Control Systems, Inc.

    Families for Early Autism Treatment (FEAT)

    Center for the Study of Autism

    Autism Resources Network

    Autism Resources

    Autism National Committee

    Learning disabilities

    PBS: Misunderstood Minds
    This companion site to the documentary “explores the controversial realm of learning disabilities with video, case studies, and tests that demonstrate what it’s like to live with a learning problem.”

    Text-to-speech resources

    12,000 E-Text Book Listings

    Text to Voice and Conversion to MP3

    Microsoft Accessible Features

    Mental health and chronic migraines

    Center for Mental Health Services

    National Alliance for the Mentally Ill

    NARPA Site

    Cleveland Clinic Research Center for Headaches Research on Headaches

    Deaf/hard of hearing

    National Association of Deaf Sign Language Site
    Resources for educators teaching students with a hearing. Resources

    National Black Deaf Americans
    Cultural issues related to deafness and African Americans.

    Cochlear Implant Association Inc.

    Demystifying Assistive Listening Devices

    Deaf Linx
    An extensive resource page with info on hearing loss, deaf culture, ASL and more.

    Blind/low vision

    National Federation for the Blind

    American Foundation for the Blind

    Library of Congress: National Library Service for Blind and Physically Handicapped

    Telecommunication access

    Allergy/chemical sensitivity

    Food Allergy Network

    The Edelson Center for Environmental & Preventive Medicine

    NYU’s Nelson Institute of Environmental Medicine