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College graduates with disabilities graduating this year are as likely as their peers without disabilities to hold jobs. This is according to a national survey that suggests they have benefited from coming of age under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The University of New Hampshire Institute on Disability survey, being released Wednesday shows college graduates with and without disabilities were equally likely to have prepared for careers by connecting with mentors and completing internships in college. Some differences emerged, though, once they landed jobs.

Read more about the UNH survey

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In this episode:

Mark Miller, the host, and Marissa Sapega, podcast producer, speak with Tony DePalma about the many ways COVID-19 has significantly impacted people with disabilities. From getting basic necessities like food to accessing student online education, the ways in which the pandemic has negatively affected this community are almost endless. Tony surfaces anecdotes from his own experience as Director of Public Policy for Disability Rights Florida and the three discuss the potential long-term outcomes of this global disaster – not all of which are bad.

The National Deaf Center estimates that more than half of the deaf community in the United States are unemployed. David Wantuck, community engagement specialist at deaf access services in Buffalo, explains that “It's not necessarily the fact of them not wanting to work… It is the fact of them having a hard time trying to get a job." Despite the challenges of finding employment, deaf people do have resources they can utilize. Buffalo’s St. Mary's School for the Deaf offers a work base learning program and Deaf Access provides services like resume reviews and mock interviews. 

For people with disabilities living in group homes oftentimes their interactions with caregivers is literally “hands-on.” During the pandemic experts recommend to stay at least six feet away from others, yet many times the interaction between caregiver and charge requires substantial contact. "We have to work very intimately with people," says Leann McQueen of the Young Adult Institute (YAI) in Brooklyn.

Several school children of the Frontier Central School District in Hamburg, New York, have formed a group known as “Go Baby Go Pit Crew. Operation Gillie Mae,” the aim of which is to outfit a Power Wheel such that it accommodates Gillie Mae’s disability. Gillie Mae was born with Angelman Syndrome, a rare condition that results in delayed motor and speech development and seizures. The six-man crew is working to modify a Jeep Power Wheel for Gillie Mae, and plans to visit the Fisher Price headquarters to further refine their design with help from the pros. 

Ford has partnered with GTB and a local Italian startup, Aedo, to create a window panel that takes an image of the outside view and converts the colors into shades of gray, each of which is then translated into a different vibration for someone to feel. An integrated virtual assistant helpfully speaks words related to scenery to complete the effect. This technology, called “Feel the View,” was conceived as a way to make driving in a car a more inclusive experience for everyone. 

With no reliable and easy way to identify if a child has autism, doctors usually rely on a battery of tests. However, one company, Quadrant, just released what they claim is a reliable saliva test to determine the presence of autism. The saliva is analyzed by Quadrant in a fraction of the time it usually takes to diagnose autism, which averages around 17 months. CEO Richar Uhlig is optimistic about the test, stating "We've committed that our test results could be made available to the ordering clinician within three to six weeks so we think that will add significant evidence to the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder.’’

When Isabel Bueso found out she was going to be deported to her native Guatemala in just 33 days she was devastated. Not only because it meant leaving the US, but because leaving would have meant a death sentence for her. Bueso has mucopolysaccharidoses, a rare genetic disorder for which she receives enzyme treatment in the US, but the treatment is unavailable in her home country. Rather than give up, she decided to fight back. "I have to speak up and say this is not right. This can't be happening and someone needs to hear this," she said. Her lawyer brought attention to her plight and that of others, and she spoke to Congress about it. Representative Mark DeSaulnier ended up introducing a bill that would stop Beuso and her immediate family’s deportation, but she will have to reapply for extended amnesty in a few years. 

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In this episode:

Mark chats with Kevan Chandler, a non-profit founder, author, and adventurer to the core. They talk about Kevan’s non-profit, We Carry Kevan, which strives to encourage the dignity of individuals with disabilities and their support systems, acknowledging everyone’s unique potential. Kevan discusses his travels as “the human backpack” with his friends across Europe and China, and goes into detail about his books and what inspires him. He also discloses who he would be if he were a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.

University of Illinois professor Meghan Burke has a lot of experience in assessing restaurants for accessibility. Her son was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at two, and she also teaches classes on physical disabilities and assistive technology. With the help of her students, she has launched a website to help would-be patrons take the guesswork out of deciding where to go based on the space’s accessibility. The website, Access Urbana-Champaign, rates restaurants on their accessibility based on features like sufficient knee clearance under sinks and tables and alarms that can be heard as well as seen

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