Inclusion. The blog for the Center for Disability Studies.

What you’ll find at our blog

By Victor Schaffner


Why is the Center for Disabilities Studies launching a new blog? That’s easy: to engage the disability community, the public and policy makers in a provocative discussion of issues with the potential to bring about positive changes in the lives of people with disabilities.

How do we intend to do that? Well, for one thing, advocates and experts, people with disabilities and people without disabilities, will pose challenging questions at critically important times. CDS Director Beth Mineo does that in her first blog post. She asks readers “What constitutes community living?” in hopes of spurring them to think about what needs to happen once a new federal rule enables more people with disabilities to live and work in their communities. Being “in” one’s community isn’t enough, she suggests, since individuals can be made to feel isolated rather than “included.” But helping people with disabilities feel that they’re also “of” the communities can make the critical difference. And that, Dr. Mineo writes, can happen if we help them “connect” with their communities.

People who work at CDS and people who do not – several people who write at the Inclusion blog are not employed by CDS or by the University of Delaware – will also target issues that aren’t attracting much press but that couldn’t be more pressing for individuals in need of services and supports. Brian Bard, a self advocate and program specialist at the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research, addresses in his first blog post the hardships endured by people who need but have difficulty accessing personal care assistants – a problem, he notes, that is much the same today as when he became a quadriplegic 29 years ago. However, Bard is more interested in searching for solutions in his blog post, and in learning about the experiences of his readers, than in lamenting the current landscape.

Bloggers will also take on subjects that make some people squirm and cause others to exclaim, “It’s about time!” Megan Pell, a coach for the Delaware Positive Behavior Support Project at CDS, does that in her first blog post by approaching the topic of disability and sexuality. She goes on to say that films featuring disability and sexuality in Delaware could be welcome catalysts capable of expanding conversations regarding the sexual education and health of individuals with intellectual disabilities.

Still other bloggers may write about subjects that have exceptionally broad appeal and are accessible to anyone, subjects such as the power of acknowledgement, but which too few people consider, explore and appreciate. CDS Advisory Council member Cory Nourie, the patient transition social work coordinator at Nemours Alfred I duPont Hospital for Children, appreciated the power of acknowledgement recently while eyeing other motorists at an intersection. Nourie then turned that appreciation into a blog post that makes the act of acknowledging people with disabilities a moral imperative.

I expect other Inclusion bloggers will tackle subjects that people throughout the community are regularly thinking about and would eagerly tackle themselves, if only they had the time or opportunity. One of our bloggers soon will probe one of those subjects: places where Americans with Disabilities Act requirements still aren’t being met, 25 years after the landmark law’s passage. Another blogger, a self advocate, tells me that he will broach a topic that upsets or unsettles him in ways his disability does not: people telling him that they “feel sorry” for him. “I live with my disability with a positive attitude and happiness,” he says.

Diverse subjects, provocative approaches. You’ll find them at the Inclusion blog.

We’ll do our part to raise the issues that can bring about positive changes in the lives of people with disabilities. The rest is up to you. Comment on what we write, connect with others about the topics.

Be included.

About the Author

A longtime journalist, advocate and policy analyst, Victor Schaffner joined UD’s Center for Disabilities Studies as its director of communications and advocacy in 2013. Victor launched the Inclusion blog to engage the disability community, public and policy makers in a provocative discussion of issues with the potential to bring about positive changes in the lives of people with disabilities.

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