by Fernanda Martinez Novoa and Dr. Abigail Grant
The long-overdue focus on special education by Washington legislators is welcome.
But any special education reforms will be incomplete if policymakers fail to also focus on early childhood special education. Inequities in educational outcomes for students of color, students from low-income backgrounds, and students with disabilities are caused by systemic factors, including the system through which early childhood developmental delays are identified and responded to.
Continue reading OPINION | Early Childhood Special Education: Barriers and Solutions for Equitable Access
by Lauryn Bray
Coming Into the Light: An Examination of Restraint and Isolation Practices in Washington Schools is a recent report published by ACLU of Washington and Disability Rights Washington (DRW) detailing findings that school districts throughout Washington State frequently utilize restraint and isolation tactics as disciplinary practices. The report identifies Black students, students with disabilities, and students in foster care as demographics disproportionately affected by these practices. State law says that incidents of restraint are permitted only in the event of an emergency in which the student is at imminent risk of inflicting serious physical harm to themselves or to another student, while isolation is banned entirely. While, according to the report, incidents of restraint and isolation remain prevalent throughout the state, lawyer Andrea Kadlec says there is misunderstanding around what exactly constitutes restraint and isolation.
Continue reading Black, Disabled, and Foster Students Most Likely to Be Isolated or Restrained in Washington Schools
by Krista Hanson
I learned they existed just weeks before we met. I attended a meeting to create something called an Individualized Education Plan — the IEP, they called it, rolling it out like a one-syllable word. My son’s IEP detailed the minutes per week he would have with school-based therapists. I was a child who moved through schools without ever meeting these people, so I had no idea how central to my son’s experience of school they would become.
Continue reading OPINION | Love for the People at Seattle Public Schools You’ve Probably Never Heard Of
by Ronnie Estoque
On March 6, the Summit Community Center (SCC) — a space for adults ages 18–29 with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) — will be opening its doors in the Capitol Hill neighborhood (1830 Broadway Ave.). Overlooking the north end of Cal Anderson Park, the SCC will offer programming and various classes that focus on four core pillars for its community members: education, recreation, community, and growth.
Continue reading Summit Community Center to Open for Local Adults With Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
by Vee Hua 華婷婷
Since 2018, disabled comedians Dan Hurwitz and Kayla Brown have been organizing The Disabled List, which is arguably the most boundary-pushing, irreverently joyful stand-up comedy showcase in the Puget Sound region. On Jan. 27 and 28, they will be hosting The Disabled List Comedy Festival 2023 at Northwest Film Forum. The two-day event will be their largest to date, and will feature New York-based headliner Gibran Saleem on Friday, Jan. 27, as well as many of their regular comedians.
Continue reading The Disabled List Gets Even More Hilarious With Its First-Ever Comedy Festival
“I Want to Go Home” Advocacy Report
The following is an abbreviated and lightly edited chapter from a new systemic advocacy report published by the Office of the Developmental Disabilities Ombuds (DD Ombuds), “‘I Want to Go Home’: Reevaluating DDA’s Children’s Services to Prevent Hospitalization and Out-of-State Placement.” In 2017, the DD Ombuds was created by the Washington State Legislature to improve the lives of persons with developmental disabilities. The DD Ombuds monitors services provided to people with developmental disabilities, reviews facilities and residences where services are provided, resolves complaints about services, and issues reports on systemic issues within the service system. To read the complete report, visit the DD Ombuds website.
Continue reading OPINION | Expensive Out-of-State Placements Separate Developmentally Disabled Youth From Their Families
by Laszlo Jajczay
Dan Hurwitz wants more people to be talking about issues affecting people with disabilities — he’s also a stand-up comedian, filmmaker, and writer.
His latest production, This is Spinal Injury, is a mockumentary that features Hurwitz and fellow comedian Kayla Brown attempting to put on “the greatest, most accessible, yet simultaneously least commercially viable comedy show featuring comedians with disabilities in the history of the Pacific Northwest,” according to the film’s website. Hurwitz recently spoke with the Emerald about how the film got started.
“A couple years ago, we started a comedy show called the ‘Disabled List’ and we gathered several other disabled comedians to perform. At the time, we were performing at the Pocket Theater in Greenwood and it was very well received,” Hurwitz said.
Continue reading ‘This Is Spinal Injury’ by Seattle Comedians With Disabilities Premieres at Festival
by Mark Van Streefkerk
Blind or visually impaired (BVI) people navigate a world built for sighted people everyday, but how often do sighted people truly see these individuals or understand their experiences? The audio play Flying Blind! offers a candid look at life for BVI people, with plenty of insights for sighted folks to take note of. Produced by South Seattle-based Anything is Possible Theatre Company (AIP) and written by and with the blind and low-vision community, the play is a series of audio scenes, sounds, original songs, and music that together illustrate some situations BVI people encounter — situations that can be frustrating, misunderstood, or even comical.
“Please don’t tell me that I’m an inspiration just for getting out the door today. / Can you see that the main obstacle is not what I can’t see, but a society that’s not set up for people like me?” asks the opening song in Flying Blind!
“Our society is not set up for people who have blind or low vision — or any kind of disability really,” said Kathleen Tracy, composer and music director for Flying Blind! “[BVI] people are amazingly resourceful and can totally live their lives [in spite of] impediments, some of which are hilarious and some of which are infuriating.”
Continue reading ‘Flying Blind!’ Shares the Everyday Experiences of Blind and Visually Impaired Individuals
by Alexa Peters
Content Warning: This article contains brief mention of suicide.
On the evening of Aug. 1, Eiob Teklie, a mental health technician at Cascade Behavioral Health (Cascade) in Tukwila watched as an unstable male patient stole an employee badge and ran with free rein throughout the multi-wing psychiatric facility, verbally and physically assaulting employees and tormenting patients suffering from acute mental illness.
Continue reading Cascade Behavioral Health Staff Strike Against Unsafe Working Conditions Continues
by Kamna Shastri
How do you navigate a support system for people with disabilities when you don’t know English? The compounding circumstances of having a disability, or caring for a loved one with a disability, while also struggling to master an American standard of English creates a unique need for multicultural families. As it is, the reams of paperwork, bureaucracy, and agencies that make up the maze of social services are already convoluted even if one knows English and has few barriers to access.
Open Doors for Multicultural Families (ODMF) has been dedicated to filling this service gap through a cultural brokerage model and systems-change approach. The organization was founded in 2009 by Ginger Kwan, whose vision was to see all “culturally and linguistically diverse individuals with developmental/intellectual disabilities and their families thrive in an inclusive society of their own design.” Since its founding, ODMF has helped connect over a thousand individuals and families with tailored support and language access. Kwan now serves as the organization’s executive director.
Continue reading It Takes a Village: The Multicultural Care Network of ODMF