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Is Autism on the Rise?


Wondering whether autism is on the rise? Well, newly-released research shows a continued increase in the prevalence rate of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), now with 1-in-36 children receiving an autism diagnosis. This 2023 statistical update is part of comprehensive data analyzed by the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network, a program funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to collect data for the well-intentioned purpose to better understand the number and characteristics of children with ASD and other developmental disabilities.

ASD refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. To review the CDC’s list of signs and symptoms, click here.

Since 2000, the ADDM Network has evaluated data gathered from 11 community sites throughout the United States (in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin). Findings are used to empower researchers, policymakers and service providers to make informed decisions about how to best assist individuals with ASD or developmental disabilities and their families.

"autism" written on chalkboard, with teddy bear beside it

Do Statistics Show Autism on the Rise?

The ADDM Network’s prevalence of 1-in-36 children is specific to eight-year-olds being diagnosed, compared to the previously reported 1-in-44 of this same age group from 2021. Experts from the Autism Society of America believe that the rise can be attributed to a variety of factors, including an increased rate of diagnosis itself. This means that the prevalence rate is going up, but also that the diagnostic screenings and identifications are improving.

While the rise in diagnosis was present throughout the entire U.S., prevalence varied by location. In the 11 tracked communities, prevalence ranged from 1-in-43 (2.3%) children in Maryland to 1-in-22 (4.5%) in California. These variations could connect to how communities differently diagnose conditions and implement support services. Thus, the ADDM Network offers an important opportunity to compare policies and models of care.

A difference surrounding gender was noted, as in previous reports. ASD prevalence, as tracked by ADDM Network sites, was nearly four times higher among boys than girls.

Are Racial Disparities Declining?

ADDM Network’s findings demonstrate that the percentage of 8-year-old Asian or Pacific Islander, Hispanic and Black children identified with autism was higher than among 8-year-old White children. These shifts may reflect improved screenings, awareness and access to services among historically underserved groups.

“The Autism Society and its network of affiliates have been working to close the racial disparity gap in early screening and diagnosis through education, resource development and community programming to better support these underserved populations,” says Christopher Banks, President & CEO of the Autism Society of America. “It’s important to recognize this improvement; however, the increased prevalence rates means we urgently need increased access to quality supports and services at the federal and state level.”

child hand, with 'have autism' on bracelet

Pandemic Paused Progress

While there have been improvements in early identification over time, experts believe that the COVID-19 pandemic greatly disrupted progress of screening access. For example, the data reflects that screenings of four-year-olds were initially on-track to show increased results of early detection, but was abruptly halted in March 2020 and has struggled to recover. This has resulted in long waitlists to receive timely screenings and diagnosis, as well as delaying the opportunity to connect those in need with early interventions and support services.

The delay is of concern because, according to the Autism Society, children who receive an ASD diagnosis by age 4 are more likely to receive services that lead to improved long-term outcomes. That’s why the Autism Society strongly recommends that children be screened at least three times before the age of three (at 9-, 18- and 24-months respectively).

Disruptions due to the pandemic in the timely evaluation of children and delays in connecting children to the services and support they need could have long-lasting effects,” said Karen Remley, M.D., director of CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. “The data in this report can help communities better understand how the pandemic impacted early identification of autism in young children and anticipate future needs as these children get older.”

Need Educational Tools?

Early identification efforts of autism and other developmental disabilities are among the most important tools communities have to make a difference in the lives of the many impacted. Parents/caregivers, healthcare providers, early childhood educators and the community at large can find empowering education through the CDC’s “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” program ( It features free resources in English, Spanish and other languages centered on monitoring early development starting at just two months of age. Plus, the CDC’s Milestone Tracker mobile app can assist families in tracking their child’s progress and then be able to easily share the data with their child’s healthcare providers.

Was your child screened for autism before the age of three? Share with AmeriDisability on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Are Disabled Students More Vulnerable During School Shootings?


Horrific school shootings, and gun violence in general, continue to make news headlines on a regular basis. There have been 131 mass shootings in the United States so far this year (as of March 27, 2023), according to the Gun Violence Archive. The latest massacre, which occurred at a Christian elementary school in Nashville, claimed the lives of six incident people (including three young children) when a former student armed with two assault-style weapons and a handgun opened fire. With the ongoing incidence of school shootings, the disability community and its supporters are duly asking… are disabled students more vulnerable during school shootings?

Perhaps. But, there is something parents of students with disabilities can do…

Why Are Disabled Students More Vulnerable During School Shootings?

Among developed economies, the U.S. has the highest level of gun violence. In 2020, guns overtook auto accidents as the leading cause of death among children and teens, according to data by the CDC. In response, most schools have adopted emergency response protocols that include preparations for active shootings. However, some worry that these plans do not adequately consider the varying needs of students with disabilities.

The current active shooter response plan, as published by the Department of Homeland Security, outlines three steps: evacuate, hide out and take action against the active shooter. No parent wants to envision their children having to run for their lives, quietly hunker down in a classroom’s storage closet or, worse case scenario, physically defend themselves or others from life-threatening danger. But let’s face it… a “run, hide, fight” approach just isn’t realistic for everybody, including many students with disabilities.

student holding handgun over desk

It’s important to note that the issue of disabled students being more vulnerable during school shootings concerns a significant chunk of the school population. In 2020–21, the number of students ages 3–21 who received special education services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was 7.2 million, or 15 percent of all public school students, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics. Obviously, it is not acceptable to knowingly allow that percentage, or any percentage for that matter, of students be more vulnerable during school shootings or other emergent scenarios.

Adding Emergency Response to IEPs

As the saying goes, “inclusion matters” and, in preparing for the unthinkable like school shootings, it’s important for parents of students with disabilities to advocate for necessary safety measures. Disability advocates suggest that parents talk with their child’s school administrators about formerly including emergency protocols in their Individualized Education Program (IEP). An IEP typically lays out a plan for a student’s special education instruction, supports and services so that child reach their full potential in the education setting. When you think about it… why haven’t campus-based, crisis-related responses always been included in IEPs?

For instance, students who have mobility limitations or rely upon accessible equipment such as wheelchairs, walkers and crutches may need assistance exiting a building or getting to a safe shelter. Students that have “invisible disabilities” like ADHD, autism spectrum disorder and other intellectual disabilities may become overstimulated by loud sounds (i.e. alarms, gunfire, screaming), have difficulty processing and executing directions, or be unable to remain still or quiet.

During a collaborative strategy session, parents and school personnel can discuss anticipated responses and what actions would be most effective if needed. Here are some safety aspects to ponder:

  • Is the student physically capable of getting to a designated safe space without teacher assistance?
  • If assistance is needed, who (specific name) is responsible for getting the student to safety in an emergent situation? Who is the back-up person?
  • Is the student able to understand when an evacuation would need to happen? Can the student promptly process the directions?
  • Does the student and/or staff need additional active shooter drill practice?
  • Will the student’s access to medications remain accessible? Is it necessary to create a “emergency evacuation kit” to include essentials (i.e. inhalers, insulin, etc.)?
  • Will their medical devices and/or assistive technology be transported?
  • Does more than one plan need to be created based the location of the emergency (i.e. cafeteria, playground, classroom, etc.) and differing scenarios?
  • Are there alternate exits from higher floors if safe elevator access is compromised?
  • How will parents be notified of an emergent situation?
  • Are local emergency responders aware of the student’s needs? Should emergency responders be involved in the planning process for the student?
  • Does the student need to learn what to do if a teacher and/or student is seriously or fatally injured?

If all questions have been asked and answered, a parent may feel confident having the emergency plan attached as an addendum to an existing IEP. Remember, IEPs are fluid documents and can be revised as needed. Aside from active shootings, parents may also consider incorporating plans for other types of emergencies, like earthquakes, fires, floods, hurricanes and tornadoes.

symbols for woman, man and handicapped

Help Prevent Gun Violence

Beyond school shootings, children and teens in the U.S. are impacted by gun violence in all its forms, according to Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund. Every year, 19,000 children and teens are shot and killed or wounded, and approximately three million are exposed to gun violence. This exposure can have a significant impact on one’s mental well-being. Here are some ways to prevent gun violence:

  1. Proper gun storage. Firearms should be safely locked, unloaded and kept separate from ammunition. Aside of one’s personal home storage, parents should also consider speaking with playdate hosts to ensure firearms are properly stowed.
  2. Talk to your children about gun violence. Conversations may include gun safety (i.e. instructing child to leave a room immediately if a friend plays with a gun), and also the reasoning behind active shooter drills.
  3. Advocate for safety. Tell elected officials that inclusive safety is important for the community, including gun violence policies.
  4. Take more action. For more solution-based ideas aimed at combating gun violence, review guidance by Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund or the Sandy Hook Promise Foundation.

Do you plan to update your child’s IEP to include emergency safety protocols? 

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U.S. Money to be Redesigned with Accessible Features


Colonial notes, the first form of paper currency used in the U.S., came about in 1690. Since that time, U.S. currency has, of course, undergone numerous changes – not unlike the history of the nation itself. Now, disability activists and allies across the country are urging the government to update paper currency yet again, with a specific request for U.S. money to be redesigned with accessible features.

It wasn’t until 1913 that the Federal Reserve Act created our enduring modern form of money. In recent years, though, citizens have called for a greater diversity of featured historical figures to better represent America’s past, present and future. Regarding the latter, however, some argue that the major shift of altering money may not be worth the effort if more citizens transition to using digital currency.

Banking on Inclusion

Requests for accessible currency was most recently made at an advocacy event on Harriet Tubman Day, a diversity-themed observance held annually on March 10 in honor of anti-slavery activist Harriet Tubman. Disability activists and supporters rallied at the “Show Me the Money: Marching Together for Accessible and Inclusive Currency” event in front of the White House with speakers, including leaders of the American Council of the Blind (ACB), declaring the need for inclusive monetary modifications.

The diverse crowd – comprised of people with and without disabilities – chanted in unison: “Show me the money!” The peaceful protest continued with a march to the U.S. Treasury in Washington, D.C., with passionate supporters braving unfavorable rainy conditions.

Disability activists rally for U.S. money to be resigned for accessibility.
Blind, low vision and sighted protestors of all ages rally in front of the White House with one clear demand: we need accessible and inclusive currency now! (ACB)

U.S. Money to be Redesigned  

Working with the U.S. Treasury, a modest timeline has been set for select currency redesigns. The resign of the $10 bill is scheduled for 2026, followed by the redesign of the $50 bill slated for 2028 and, lastly, the redesign of $20 bill (which will include a portrait of Harriet Tubman) in 2030. However, as previously noted, some are pushing back. That’s why, even though a 2008 Federal Court Order says that any new currency redesigns must include accommodations for individuals who are blind and/or low vision, activists believe continual championing of the effort is necessary.

Kelly Gasque, ACB’s Manager of Communications, told AmerDisability that these accessible redesigns will include “a raised tactile feature, so that people who are blind can differentiate between different denominations, and a larger font and higher contrast numeric value to be more easily read by people with low vision.”

As a result of the recent rally on Harriet Tubman Day, five ACB members met with representatives of the U.S. Treasury and Bureau of Engraving and Printing. For the first time, they touched the certified tactile feature that will be included as part of the $10 bill redesign.

“The U.S. Treasury and Bureau of Engraving and Printing committed to meet quarterly with the American Council of the Blind to update us on their milestones and major accomplishments leading up to the launch of the accessible $10 bill in 2026 as a result of the currency rally,” Gasque told AmeriDisability.

blind man, holding stick in one hand, and using ATM with other

“50 years of advocating and 20 years of litigation have brought us to this momentous occasion,” said ACB’s President Dan Spoone. “We are on the cusp of the United States joining the more than 100 nations whose currency is already accessible to people who are blind and low vision, and the American Council of the Blind remains resolute in our advocacy to help the Biden Administration and the U.S. Treasury finish the job.”

The issue at hand is yet another example of people with disabilities experiencing discrimination. The fight for equal access continues. If we as a society proclaim to value diversity, isn’t making U.S. money accessible and inclusive worth every penny?

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Candace Owens Makes Discriminating Remarks About Disabled and Inclusivity

Editor’s Disclaimer: The comments (of Candace Owens) reported in the following article may be shocking for some to read. AmeriDisability does not support hatred or discrimination.

Discriminatory comments made last year by Candace Owens, a popular political analyst, have resurfaced following fresh criticism by actress Christina Applegate. Applegate, who has been vocal about her multiple sclerosis (MS) diagnosis, just recently discovered the previously released video-commentary of Owens spewing disparaging remarks about Kim Kardashian’s Skims’ adaptive undergarment line and, more specifically, the entire disability community.

In May 2022, Skims, the undergarment brand owned by media personality Kim Kardashian, launched its Adaptive Collection to offer customers accessibly constructed intimate apparel. Designed with those with limited mobility in mind, the line features an array of adaptive garments like a scoop bralette, thong, brief and boy short, with sizes ranging XXS to 4X.

When Skims’ Adaptive Collection hit the market with its inclusive campaign, Owens didn’t shy away from sharing her disapproval. Skims’ advertisements included: Haleigh Rosa, a former reporter and founder of the For Everyone Foundation, serving people with spinal cord injuries and paralysis; Stefanie Schaffer, a bilateral amputee who authored the memoir Without Any Warning: Casualties of a Caribbean Vacation; and Pansy St. Battie, a burlesque performer who was born with hypermobility syndrome, a connective tissue disorder that impacts joints.

Skims announces its Adaptive Collection on it's Instagram page
This Skims’ ad, featuring models with disabilities, was called “ridiculous” by commentator Candace Owens. (Instagram)

In her unsolicited rant, Owens said, “I don’t really understand how far we’re going to take this inclusivity thing. I really don’t get it. I don’t know. If I’m wrong, again, educate me. Today, I just want to be educated in the comments. If people that are in wheelchairs were thinking as they were looking around ‘you know what really upsets me… that I’ve never seen a bra and underwear advertised with a girl in a wheelchair.’ … Why did they [Skims] do this? I don’t know, I don’t know why this needs to be done. I’m getting tired of this all-inclusivity thing. It seems ridiculous.”

Owens then proceeded to use a mocking tone to convey her perception of what disabled and/or injured people think about representation. She unapologetically continued, “I didn’t know we had to see that [people with disabilities] in our face. And now we’re going to have to look forward to campaigns where women that are in wheelchairs are now wearing bras and underwear because, we as a society, just cannot get to the bottom of our ridiculousness.” Owens then claimed that she would fire the brainchild of Skims’ marketing campaign. Ouch!

Candace Owens Has Her Panties Twisted

In response, the featured models shared their personal perspectives about how having more access to inclusive representation would have been (and still is) beneficial for them — and all people with and without disabilities. The disability community is actually the largest minority group in America and, thus, an identity that will likely affect most, if not all, Americans at some point in their lives.

Since she attested a willingness to be educated on the need for inclusion, Owens should probably learn that inclusively-designed products are, undoubtedly, in demand. In the U.S. alone, at least 61 million (or roughly 1-in-4) adults live with a disability, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). So, there’s already a high demand for accessible goods, which is expected to grow substantially to, eventually, rack up billions in sales thanks to the purchasing power of people with the disabilities (who likely purchase their fair share of underwear like any other consumers).

Candace Owens isn't a fan of Kim Kardashian's Skims'


The Impact of Discriminating Remarks

To say there’s a lack of representation of people with disabilities in the media, including high-profile media campaigns, is an understatement. For example, even though 26% of American adults have some type of disability, only 2.4% of all speaking or named characters in films are shown with a disability, according to a study by the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. The staggering gap between 2.4% and 26% is unacceptable and perplexing. For those who chalk Kim Kardashian up to just be a superficial reality TV star, note that it appears as though she (and her company’s marketing department) understands the need for diverse representation more so than many other mainstream media moguls.

Listen, anyone and everyone can be stereotyped but, perhaps, people with disabilities are more so faced with busting myths. Owens has 1.28 million followers on YouTube and 5.4 million followers on Facebook; so, unfortunately, her strong opinion about panties has an impact. Her harsh words, seemingly rooted in misinformation and misunderstandings about what it’s like to live with a disability, influence the attitudes and biases of others. Owens clearly does not seem to grasp the challenges that people with physical disabilities often encounter while trying to independently go about their day, including dressing themselves. Why is she so triggered by underwear designed for customers who prefer accessibility? No one is forcing Owens to wear a pair of Skims, so why is she so outraged by these undies and the people who wear them?

Just months after Owens’ attack of Skims and the entire disability community, she came under fire again thanks to a viral photo of her wearing a “White Lives Matter” shirt at a fashion show alongside Kanye West, who just so happens to be Kardashian’s ex-husband. It seems that Owens has ill-will against people with disabilities and those who support people with disabilities – which, in this case, is Kardashian and her inclusively-minded creative team.

In response to backlash over her discriminating remarks, Owens posted a video in an attempt to defend herself and deny the accusation that she’s ableist. Again, since she proclaimed to welcome schooling on the subject, she may want to study up on ableism. Her hostile comments about inclusion being “ridiculous” seem to match the very definition of ableism which, as explained by Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, is discrimination or prejudice against individuals with disabilities.

Sorry Candance Owens… but the disability community (and the community at large) aren’t buying what you’re selling. But they might just buy some Skims from Kim Kardashian thanks to you.

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Artist with Disabilities Designs Logo for Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month


In recent years, the creative techniques of art therapy have gained popularity, including among those within (and/or supporting) the disability community. Maybe that’s why the annual logo design of a prominent disability awareness month has become such an important representation. AmeriDisability is pleased to spotlight Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, as well as the talented artist whose work was chosen to be the official logo design of the Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month 2023 campaign.

What is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month?

In 1987, President Ronald Reagan signed a proclamation for Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, an observance held annually each March. The effort is centered on supporting the needs and equal access to opportunities of people with developmental disabilities.

Developmental disabilities, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), are a group of conditions due to an impairment in physical, learning, language or behavior areas. Developmental disabilities, which roughly impacts 1-in-6 children born in the U.S., include autism spectrum disorders, cerebral palsy, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), learning/intellectual disabilities, hearing loss, vision impairment and other developmental delays.

Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month (March), text with blue ribbon

Theme of Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

Each March, the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD), along with its partners, spreadheads an awareness campaign based on building a stronger, more diverse community by uniting people of all abilities. The reality is that barriers for people with disabilities remain and, thus, inclusive action — by people with and without disabilities — should (no… must) be taken.

The theme for the 2023 Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month is “Beyond the Conversation.” As the NACDD attests, it is time to ask the question: “Once the conversations have taken place, what comes next?” The answer is, of course, action. NACDD urges that the time for talking is over, and now is the time for all of us to act to create necessary change.

Artist Helps Illustrate Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

To position a purposeful logo design, NACDD  collaborated with Art Enables, a D.C.-based art gallery and vocational arts program dedicated to creating opportunities for artists with disabilities to make, market and earn income from their original and compelling artwork. A vibrant creation by Jamila Rahimi, one of Art Enables resident artists, was chosen to serve as the logo of this year’s observance campaign.

The 2023 Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month logo featuring “Flowers,” a piece Rahimi created with watercolors and ink. “Flowers” boosts Rahimi’s signature style — compositions formed from vibrant shapes with dense black definitions.

Spanish version of Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month logo
The Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month logo, featuring artwork by Jamila Rahimi, is available in Spanish and English. (NACDD)

“NACDD chose Jamila’s artwork because it resonated with our theme of ‘Beyond the Conversation.’ We interpreted the petal that was separate from the flower as the one “stepping out” to take action,” Rafael Rolon-Muñiz, NACDD’s Communications & Program Coordinator, told AmeriDisability. “Our efforts are to always ask the question of ‘what’s next and what is being done?’”

Fans of Rahimi’s artwork can view more than two dozen of her other pieces currently available for purchase, priced $35 to $165, through Art Enables. In addition to art, Rahimi enjoys baseball, nature and travel, as well as time spent with her family and dog.

Art therapy has been proven to aid one’s physical and emotional health, as we’re certain Rahimi and her fellow art colleagues would affirm. For mental well-being, for example, art therapy boosts creative expression, ignites a calming effect and can relieve stress. For physical engagement, repetitive exercise (i.e. painting strokes) of weakened muscles can help stroke survivors, for example, gain elasticity, strength and balance.

Taking Action

Listen, do continue to have the conversation (and over and over again because it’s needed). But, then, take action. Speak up. Advocate. And encourage people – with and without disabilities – to join you in taking disability beyond the conversation.

During Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, consider incorporating the hashtags of #DDawareness2023, #DDAM2023, #BeyondtheConvo and #BeyondtheConversation with awareness posts on social media platforms.

For additional resources, download informative PowerPoint slides from the NACDD in English or Spanish (or click here for the Zoom Recording).

Sony’s New Camera Kit Captures Accessibility

Sony is among the top manufacturers of cameras, in addition to many other popular products. Now, the tech giant is receiving praise for its latest efforts to advance inclusive technology and bolster accessibility. This includes the launch of Sony’s new camera kit, the DSC-HX99 RNV Retina Projection Camera Kit.

The DSC-HX99 RNV Retina Projection Camera Kit consists of Sony’s DSC-HX99 Cyber-shot and a RETISSA NEOVIEWER viewfinder that employs laser retinal projection technology from QD Laser, Inc. Sony’s new camera kit is designed to empower the 250 million people around the world who have vision impairments, so that they may more confidently snap picture-perfect images.

DSC-HX99 RNV Retina Projection Camera Kit

According to the product description on Sony’s website, the RETISSA NEOVIEWER viewfinder is a type of projector using the retina as a screen. RGB semiconductor lasers are combined to make a full-color weak light beam, which is guided to the retina by a tiny vibrating mirror (a MEMS mirror) and precise optics. The laser light passes through the center of the pupil and projects (scans) a focused image onto the retina, allowing the user to see a clear image without using the focusing function of the eye, even in the peripheral area. The DSC-HX99 RNV kit is listed at $599.99.

Accessibility Beyond Sony’s New Camera

Sony recently exhibited at the world’s largest international conference on accessibility, the CSUN Assistive Technology Conference 2023, which was held in mid-March in Anaheim, California. The corporation shared, in an event press release, that its purpose is to “fill the world with emotion, through the power of creativity and technology.”

In addition to the DSC-HX99 RNV Retina Projection Camera Kit, Sony highlighted several other accessibility products and services, including:

  • BRAVIA 4K LCD TV: BRAVIA offers a variety of accessibility features that assist with vision and hearing. At the conference, booth visitors were able to experience the Text Magnification function, which magnifies the text on the screen, and the Screen Reader function, which reads aloud TV settings. In addition, with a BRAVIA equipped with Google Assistant, users can use voice commands to search for videos on YouTube, turn the power on/off, adjust the volume and other things — simply by talking to the TV.
  • PlayStation 5: Sony says that PlayStation strives to create a gaming experience without barriers that fits the needs of players of all abilities. The PlayStation 5 console features display and customization options like zoom, color correction and text size adjustments, a screen reader feature, closed captions and chat transcription. Players can also customize button assignments on the DualSense wireless controller and adjust the intensity of the vibration and adaptive trigger effects. PlayStation Studios also creates a variety of industry-defining software titles with an array of vision, hearing and motor accessibility settings.
Sony's headquarters building
(Sony’s Headquarters Building; courtesy of Sony)
  • LinkBuds Truly Wireless Earbuds: LinkBuds have been created with a unique open ring design that lets users tune into the outside world whenever they want, without compromising the listening experience. The ring driver unit features an open central diaphragm for audio transparency, so chatting with friends and connecting to surroundings is easy. Because the earbuds are small, light and do not block ears, users can keep them in all the time, confident they will not miss ambient sounds from the environment even while listening to music or participating in online meetings.
  • Xperia 1 IV: Each series of Xperia smartphones powered by Android OS are equipped with accessibility features that assist with vision, hearing and action, such as TalkBack (the Google screen reader), and improved visibility of operation screens.
  • Self-fitting Over-the-Counter (OTC) Hearing Aids: Sony launched two self-fitting OTC hearing aids in the U.S. market in October 2022, which were also on display at the conference. The CRE-C10 hearing aid has a sleek and discreet design that is virtually invisible; and the CRE-E10 hearing aid comes with Bluetooth and has a streaming music playback function.

What do you think about Sony’s new camera kit and its other accessible products?

Disability Advocates Want You To Wear Mismatched Socks

Disability advocates are encouraging allies and the community at-large to put their best foot forward on World Down Syndrome Day. The call-to-action is simple: just wear colorful, mismatched socks on March 21. The purpose of this fun fashion statement is to create much-needed conversations surrounding Down syndrome. About 1 in every 800 babies is born with Down syndrome, according to Down Syndrome International.

Why 3/21 is World Down Syndrome Day

Celebrated annually on March 21, World Down Syndrome Day is about fostering a collective desire to support and advance the rights, inclusion and well-being of people with Down syndrome. People with Down syndrome have an extra chromosome which, according to the National Down Syndrome Society, can cause intellectual developmental disabilities, as well as low muscle tone, small stature, an upward slant to the eyes and other differing characteristics.

With some celebrations dating back to 2006, the United Nations is credited with officially distinguishing World Down Syndrome Day as March 21 back in 2012. The date of 3/21 connects to the genetic makeup of Down syndrome. Also known as Trisomy 21, Down syndrome occurs when, by chance, a person has three copies of chromosome 21, rather than two. [Accounting for 95% of Down syndrome diagnoses, Trisomy 21 is the most common type; however, Translocation Down syndrome and Mosaic Down syndrome are two other types of the condition.]

Mismatched socks align with World Down Syndrome Day; picture features colorful socks in circle with Down syndrome ribbon in center

Why Mismatched Socks

Some attest that, when viewed through a microscope, the chromosomes resemble socks; thus, the concept of socks was a natural fit for Down syndrome awareness. Others explain that wearing mismatched socks is an easy, diverse approach to promoting the beauty of differences. And again, vibrant mismatched socks are, well, attention-grabbing and, so, it’s probable that a person may ask the wearer, “Why do you have on mismatched socks?” And just like that, socks step up their game for inclusion, letting the wearer initiate a conversation about disabilities. For example, “I’m wearing mismatched socks to help raise awareness of Down syndrome. Did you know that Down syndrome is the most common chromosomal condition? Let me tell you more…”

Mismatched Socks Aren’t the Only Theme

Each year, aside from the inclusion of mismatched socks, World Down Syndrome Day embodies a specific campaign theme. The 3/21/2023 theme is: With Us, Not For Us. Down Syndrome International explains that this year’s messaging centers on a human rights-based approach to disability. Because, according to the organization, it’s key to “view people with disabilities as having the right to be treated fairly and have the same opportunities as everyone else, working with others to improve their lives.”

Down Syndrome International says that the need for an official observance day on 3/21 remains essential because, all around the world, many people with Down syndrome are:

  • denied quality education,
  • denied proper health care,
  • denied the chance to work and earn a fair income,
  • not permitted to make life decisions, and
  • not have their voices be heard.
Mismatched socks align with World Down Syndrome Day; pictured: smiling dad puts mismatched socks on his smiling daughter, who has Down syndrome

Ready to Kickstart the Disability Conversation?

Participating in World Down Syndrome Day is simple. You can:

  • Wear mismatched socks on 3/21. If you forget, swap one of your socks with a friend at school or work. Or just spark up the important conversation sans socks! [Pssst… you can purchase a pair of “official” campaign socks, with proceeds benefiting efforts led by Down Syndrome International. Or, order all sorts of fun designs from John’s Crazy Socks, a company co-founded by an entrepreneur with Down syndrome.]
  • Share messaging on your social media platforms using the hashtags #LotsOfSocks and #WorldDownSyndromeDay (and tag AmeriDisability).
  • Fundraise to advance Down syndrome research, education and programs. Maybe ask colleagues to donate $3.21 on World Down Syndrome Day. Or donate any amount you see fit to a local, national or international charity serving people with Down syndrome.
  • Learn more and share. Download resources to help communicate the importance of inclusion and diversity.
  • Participate in the National Down Syndrome Society’s 7th annual virtual ‘Racing for 3.21’ event. You can run, walk, bike, hike, swim or whatever for 3.21, 32.1 or 321 miles at any time, any place and at any pace. Or how about doing 3 sets of 21 push-ups?
  • Keep the conversation going all year-round. Explore ways to advocate for people with Down syndrome and the disability community at-large. Inclusion matters!
  • Forward this AmeriDisability article or any educational piece to a friend to help further awareness.

Isn’t this a fashion statement worth making?

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Actress Selma Blair Helps Launch QVC’s Adaptive Product Line

Shopping options for adaptive products just got a little better! You see, following a downturn in sales, QVC, a televised shopping network, is strategically positioning a celebrity spokesperson aligned with the disability community to help boost sales, specifically of QVC’s adaptive product line. Actress, author and disability advocate Selma Blair will serve as the new QVC Brand Ambassador for Accessibility.

Qurate Retail, the parent corporation of QVC, attributed a dip in 2022 sales to supply chain constraints, as well as a fire that overwhelmed its Rocky Mount fulfillment center. In addition to bringing in Billy Wafford as the new Chief Financial Officer, the company is unveiling fresh collaborations to drive up revenue in 2023. Aside from Blair’s positioning as QVC’s Brand Ambassador for Accessibility, the video commerce network is also debuting a home line with actresses Tori Spelling and Jennie Garth (formerly of Beverly Hills 90210) and an activewear line founded by actress Nicole Ari Parker (HBO Max’s And Just Like That…).

It appears that QVC is aware that adaptive products are increasing profitable and, thus, a strategic business strategy. That’s because, in the United States alone, at least 61 million — or 1-in-4 — adults live with a disability, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While demand for inclusive products is already there, it’s expected to grow, eventually reaching billions in annual sales thanks to the purchasing power of the disability community, the nation’s largest minority group.

QVC’s Adaptive Product Line

Highlighted on all of its vCommerce platforms (i.e. television, online and social), QVC says it’s amplifying its commitment to diversity and inclusion by showcasing a complete adaptive lifestyle line. QVC says its shopping experience features a solution-based navigation with options to filter by specific adaptive features. Customers may shop by accessible brand name, like Dynamo, EV Rider, Lexie, Slick Chicks, Tommy Hilfiger–Adaptive and Two Blind Brothers; or by categories. These categories include Accessible Beauty, Around the Home, Assistive Devices, Clothing & Shoes-Men’s, Clothing & Shoes-Women’s, Daily Living Aids, Furniture, Hearing Aids, Magnifiers & Readers, Mobility, Personal Care, Security & Monitoring, Smart Lighting and Voice Assistants.

Selma Blair Embraces Disability Spokesperson Role

This isn’t the first time Blair has used her star-power to back an adaptive product line. Late last year, Blair, whose been outspoken about her disability journey with Multiple sclerosis (MS), assumed the role of Chief Creative Officer for GUIDE Beauty. GUIDE Beauty is an inclusive collection of makeup tools and products that simplify makeup application through universal design. Her decision to align with QVC was similarly motivated.

“When QVC approached me, I was so impressed and grateful that they were welcoming these [inclusive] conversations,” Blair shared. “One of the basic comforts of our life is being able to have fun shopping and to find things we find beautiful and useful. There is a more vibrant way to showcase these products, and I’m so excited to join QVC in exploring what is out there for all of us.” Blair further shares her personal perspective in a short promotional video.

Blair, a Michigan native, rose to fame in the early 2000s thanks to character roles in “Cruel Intentions,” “Legally Blonde” and other films. She’s shared the screen with Hollywood A-listers like Reese Witherspoon, John Travolta, Cameron Diaz and Christina Applegate. [Applegate announced, in 2021, that she too was diagnosed with MS.]

In 2018, Blair shared with fans that, following frustrating experiences with misdiagnoses, she has MS. As defined by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, MS is an unpredictable disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. Blair further revealed her health hurdles in her memoir titled “Mean Baby,” a documentary titled “Introducing, Selma Blair” and by participating on the televised competition “Dancing with the Stars.”

Making Accessibility Mainstream

QVC also introduced “Accessible Living,” an on-air show focused on essential home products that simplify everyday tasks and promote independent living. Across all vCommerce programming, QVC plans to demonstrate accessibility features of products more frequently, while enhancing representation in product presentations and photography. “Accessible Living” is available on QVC2, with new episodes airing in March (2023).

“We believe everyone deserves inclusive shopping experiences, services and products that make them feel seen, including the millions of Americans who are living with a disability; aging in place or in assisted living; recovering from a surgery, illness or injury; or supporting others as a caregiver,” Rachel Ungaro, GMM and VP of Fashion Merchandising for QVC, said in a press statement. “Our goal is to meet each customer where they are in the arc of life and empower them to express their own unique style. We plan to expand our offerings in our Accessible & Adaptive category by attracting new brands to QVC, widening our relationships with existing vendors, and developing proprietary products and brands.”

QVC attests that the company is committed to making changes to increase accessibility and ensure a barrier-free customer experience. In addition to collaborating with Blair, QVC is working with Maura Horton, a disability diversity and inclusion consultant. Inspired by her husband’s diagnoses with early-onset Parkinson’s disease, Horton, a product design professional, founded MagnaReady, an adaptive apparel company.

“QVC’s livestream vCommerce platforms and relationships give the company a unique opportunity to be a changemaker in this space,” said Horton. “I see QVC as the ideal retailer to curate products and tell human stories that demonstrate the arc of life. I’m pleased to help QVC create safe spaces where people can find the resources they need and feel the security of knowing they are not alone.”

Will you explore the new QVC adaptive product line? Do you prefer in-store, online or video-commerce shopping? Share your thoughts with AmeriDisability on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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Viral Video Pokes Fun at Common Deaf Culture Misconceptions

National Deaf History Month is observed annually from mid-March to mid-April (March 13 to April 15). Because misconceptions about the Deaf community remain, National Deaf History Month serves as an opportunity to address common Deaf culture misconceptions.

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communications Disorders, about two to three out of every 1,000 children in the United States are born with a detectable level of hearing loss in one or both ears; and approximately 15% of American adults (37.5 million) aged 18 and over report some trouble hearing. Still, many are misinformed about people that are deaf and/or hard-of-hearing.

Debunking Common Deaf Culture Misconceptions

A video posted to the YouTube Channel of the Iowa School of the Deaf has racked up close to 46,000 views. The Iowa School of the Deaf is a preK-12+ educational setting focused on the academic success of students who are deaf and/or hard-of-hearing. And, thanks to this lighthearted video, they’ve sort of become a disability myth buster!

Featuring staff members that identify as deaf, the 19-minute video clip casually discusses questions surrounding common Deaf culture misconceptions. Some myths and questions pondered include: Are all deaf people… fluent in American Sign Language (ASL)? Able to read lips? Capable of driving? Hearing-abled when wearing hearing-aids? Able to enjoy music? Adept at verbal communication? And so on…

Because the video balances humor with sincerity, viewers are both entertained and educated. WATCH HERE

Facts About Deaf History

Did you know… ?

  • The American School for the Deaf, the first public school of its kind, opened in Hartford, Connecticut in 1817.
  • In 1865, President Abraham Lincoln signed a charter to establish Gallaudet University, the first college for the deaf. Gallaudet University is still revered for its inclusive education.
  • The first celebration of National Deaf History Month occurred in 1997. [What took so long?!]
  • The term deaf is the most all-inclusive choice, according to The National Deaf Center, as it includes people who may identify as deaf, deafblind, deafdisabled, hard-of-hearing, late-deafened and hearing impaired.
  • Language is ever-changing. “Deaf” (uppercase spelling) is used when referring to the Deaf community; whereas “deaf” (lowercase spelling) is applicable when referring to the condition.

Still have questions pertaining to Deaf culture? Share your thoughts with AmeriDisability on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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Improving Reproductive Health Services for Youth with Intellectual Disabilities


The National Institutes of Health (NIH) will award $3,906,026 over five years to researchers from the Institute for Implementation Science in Population Health (ISPH) at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy (CUNY SPH) to test the efficacy of a new socialization and sex education curriculum for young people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

CUNY SPH Professor Suzanne McDermott and Associate Professor Heidi Jones will test the curriculum in a randomized controlled trial among 856 adolescents and young adults (ages 16-27 years) who receive services from disability providers in four of the five Developmental Disabilities Regions of the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities.

Half of the participants will be randomized to receive an updated socialization and sex education curriculum in individualized sessions during home visits, and the other half will receive a group-based intervention on physical activity and nutrition in local community centers. Study staff will provide the six-week long interventions, with interview data collected prior to intervention and after two months, six months and one year. The primary outcome will be change in knowledge and behaviors 12 months after completing the intervention.

“Young people with developmental disabilities have been provided information about reproductive health for decades, but they never were invited to participate in a clinical trial to test the efficacy of the approach,” says Dr. McDermott. “Applying the rigor of a randomized controlled trial for evaluation of this approach is a breakthrough for these often marginalized young people.”

two teenagers, both of which have Down Syndrome, smile at each other

People with intellectual and developmental disabilities are traditionally excluded from clinical trials under the assumption that they cannot provide informed consent. McDermott and Jones are challenging this notion, and are working very closely with lived experience consultants, an advisory board and CUNY’s institutional review board to ensure the informed consent and assent materials are understandable to the study participants.

“One of the most exciting aspects of this study is that we are hiring lived experience consultants in each of the four regions to collaborate on all aspects of the study,” says Dr. Jones. “Our hope is that this collaboration will ensure that the results are meaningful to these youth and will be used to truly inform best practices for sex education for youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”

The findings from this translational study will inform practitioners, advocates and self-advocates about best practices for reproductive and sexual health education for adolescents and young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities as they transition to adulthood.

“This research will produce important and much-needed insights to service providers and families of youth with special needs in the U.S. and globally,” says CUNY SPH Dean Ayman El-Mohandes.

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