Celebrating American Masters: Becoming Helen Keller

A black and white photo of Helen Keller wearing a dark wide-brimmed hat and a fur stoal, next to the symbols for Closed Captioning, Audio Description, and Sign Language.

While most coverage of Helen Keller freezes her as the “eternal child” in that “aha” moment at the water pump with teacher Anne Sullivan (immortalized in The Miracle Worker), this new documentary American Masters: Becoming Helen Keller shatters that disability myth, transcends that image, takes back the narrative, and unlocks multifaceted aspects of her life and commitment to social justice, disability rights, veterans with disabilities, women’s rights, voting rights, civil rights, early support of the NAACP and ACLU, her involvement with setting up State Commissions for the Blind, “talking books,” and her work as an international goodwill ambassador … to name a few.

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Ella

NOTE: October is Blindness Awareness Month as well as Learning Disabilities / Dyslexia / Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Awareness Month.

Ella and Beth Johnson

Ella and Beth Johnson

My name is Ella, and I’m a junior at Irondale High School in Minnesota. This school year, I’m busy studying for advanced placement courses, playing percussion and coordinating audio equipment in my school’s band, and making time to read book recommendations from friends. I was diagnosed with dyslexia in fifth grade, and reading print books has always been challenging for me compared with most of my classmates. However, accessible digital books from Bookshare give me the same opportunities to learn, engage, and show what I know.

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What’s New at the National Instructional Materials Access Center

NOTE: October is Blindness Awareness Month

NIMAC Project Director, Nicole Gaines

NIMAC Project Director, Nicole Gaines

When typical textbooks don’t meet the needs of students with reading disabilities, visual impairments, or physical disabilities, the OSEP-funded National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC) helps ensure that these students can obtain the accessible formats they need to engage and contribute alongside their peers.

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I Thought I Knew It All

Moxie and Meriah

by Meriah Nichols

I really thought I knew disability. I thought I knew what it feels like to have a disability; I thought I knew how it is to navigate a world that often does not understand or appreciate the presence of disability. I thought I knew the feelings that a disability can bring with it: the hurt, the pain, the joy, and the delight. I really thought I knew it all.

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Forming a Disability Identity as a Dyslexic

NOTE: October is Learning Disabilities / Dyslexia / Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Awareness Month.

By Rachelle Johnson, a member of the Young Adult Leadership Council of the National Center for Learning Disabilities.

As a child I was diagnosed with dyslexia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Adults told me I was “differently abled” and to not categorize myself negatively, as in “disabled.” This introduced me to a societal view of “the disabled” and how to navigate an ableist society by distancing from the term disabled. The adults wanted this so I would not be treated in the negative ways people with disabilities often were.

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Deaf-Blind Projects Support Accessible, Virtual Connections to Transition

NOTE: October is Blindness Awareness Month

Teresa Coonts

Written by: Teresa Coonts, Project Director of Nebraska Deaf-Blind Project with input from Susan Brennan, Iowa Deaf-Blind Project

Deaf-blindness is one of the lowest-incidence of all IDEA disability categories; however, supporting students with deaf-blindness often involves a wide array of team members in many areas of expertise! To help meet the unique needs of these students, OSEP funds 53 State Deaf-Blind Projects, assisting districts, schools, and families in all States and territories as well as the National Center on Deaf-Blindness (NCDB). Collaboratively, we work to improve educational results and quality of life for children who are deaf-blind and their families. The Center and projects’ efforts include a national count of children who are deaf-blind as well as development and sharing of resources, strategies, and events.

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Self-Worth, Encouragement, Times of Value: These Kept Me Going

NOTE: October is Learning Disabilities / Dyslexia / Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Awareness Month.Kayla Queen

By Kayla Queen, a member of the Young Adult Leadership Council of the National Center for Learning Disabilities


When attempting to draw conclusions as to why I have been spared from many of the unfavorable statistics encountered by large percentages of people with learning disabilities, I have been able to explain it in part by the self-worth I was taught to have for myself and the times I have felt valued in school.

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