WASHINGTON, July 27, 2020 (Newswire.com) - As more than 6.3 million students in America with disabilities cope with COVID-19, the national disability nonprofit RespectAbility is hosting experts and self-advocates to mark the 30th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act and to promote greater success for students with disabilities.
“Thus far during the pandemic, distance learning has been a train-wreck for students with disabilities. Much more must be done so that no more harm comes to students with disabilities. This includes both access to real learning and preventing further mental health distress,” said Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, president of RespectAbility. Mizrahi is dyslexic herself and, as a parent of a child with disabilities, is working to enable her own child to have access to a quality education during this current crisis.
Part of a weeklong series of virtual #ADA30 events, RespectAbility's Education & Skills for a Better Future convening will feature self-advocates with disabilities, special educators and parents of students with disabilities in conversation about the state of special education today and how to ensure that students with disabilities get the skills they need to succeed.
The changing face of America is deeply reflected by students with disabilities. In America’s public schools today, students of color with disabilities constitute a solid majority of the millions of students receiving special education services.
Further, students with disabilities also reflect the deep racial inequalities prevalent throughout the United States. Nationwide, among the class of 2018, only 66 percent of African-American students with disabilities, 77 percent of white students with disabilities, 71 percent of Hispanic students with disabilities and 79 percent of Asian-American students with disabilities completed high school. This compares to 85 percent of all students without disabilities.
Taking place on Monday, July 27, the education panel features the insights and talents of Sneha Dave, founder of the Health Advocacy Summit and recipient of the 2020 Susan Butler Award; Ollie Cantos, a civil rights attorney and father of first blind triplets to become Eagle Scouts; Nicole Homerin, M.Ed., special educator; and Paul Luelmo, Ph.D., assistant professor of special education at San Diego State University. This panel will be moderated by Gerard Robinson, vice president for education at the Advanced Studies in Culture Foundation. Sophie Kim, 13-year-old actress from Netflix's Healing Powers of Dude, will provide an introductory greeting.
Even prior to the pandemic, students with disabilities faced significant challenges completing their degrees, further aggravated by the failure of virtual learning to meet the needs of students with disabilities nationwide. Due to underlying medical conditions, many students will need to continue distanced learning, while other students with disabilities will be returning to a “new normal” riddled with virus-related safety concerns in schools.
The entire week's events, which are free and include ASL interpreters and live captions, are sponsored by Comcast NBCUniversal, the Murray/Reese Foundation, Sony Pictures Entertainment and The Walt Disney Company.
Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, President