RespectAbility’s Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi on Empowering People with Disabilities

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This week on “The Learning Curve,” co-hosts Gerard Robinson and Cara Candal talk with Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, President of RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization advancing opportunities so 57 million Americans with a disability can fully participate in all aspects of community. She shares her personal story struggling with dyslexia and ADHD, and what drew her to this cause. She reviews the various kinds of disabilities that people live with, and the strides our society is making to integrate and accommodate disabled citizens into everyday life. She offers thoughts on how well K-12 education generally serves students with special needs, and improvements she would like to see. She discusses how disabilities contribute to students’ achievement gaps in schools and colleges, and what can be done to educate people about and help remediate this. They also explore how assistive technologies and artificial intelligence can be used to help people with disabilities, and the importance of showing students with disabilities examples of great historical figures, heroes, and celebrities with disabilities who were able to accomplish remarkable feats and overcome their challenges.

Stories of the Week: 50CAN’s Derrell Bradford connects the dots between election outcomes in New Jersey and Virginia and parents’ dissatisfaction with their children’s in-person learning time in those states. A Wittgenstein Centre report covered in EdNext shows just how significant a role educational advancement plays, especially among women, in raising the standard of living and civic engagement in developing countries.

Guest:

Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi is the President of RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities so people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of community. She has published dozens of op-eds and publications on disability issues and has provided testimony in every state. She has met 1-1 with 48 of America’s governors, as well as leaders in Washington on education, skills and jobs for people with disabilities. RespectAbility also is working in Hollywood so that entertainment media will highlight what people with disabilities CAN do. Mizrahi is also the co-founder/director of the Mizrahi Family Charitable Fund and has supported over 100 terrific nonprofits over the last two decades. A graduate of Emory, Mizrahi recently got her third certificate from the executive training programs at Harvard. She is dyslexic and has ADHD and has won awards for her work at the United Nations and in many other forums.

Tweet of the Week:

News Links:

Virginia, New Jersey and steamed parents/Derrell Bradford of 50Can

https://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/ny-oped-virginia-new-jersey-steamed-parents-20211108-ju3bn424jvdr7k54eecpz6cuzi-story.html

Educating Girls Will Be Our Most Powerful Force for Global Change

https://www.educationnext.org/educating-girls-will-be-most-powerful-force-global-change/

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Please excuse typos.

[00:00:00] Cara: Hey listeners. It is Kara. I am here with Gerard we’re back for another week of the learning curve. I’m coming to you from daylight savings time, Massachusetts, we are recording this right now at 4 31 and the son has. So it’s that time of year. It’s that time of year Gerard, you’re going to be having to wake me up from my nap to record our weekly episode of the learning curve.

[00:00:24] but it’s all good as we get ready to hibernate, but boy, , politics don’t stop. So last week we were talking about a particular governor’s race. I think if I recall my friend, you did not predict the outcome of your state’s gubernatorial election. We might have to go back and check the tape, but, Virginia has a new governor and it is not McAuliffe.

[00:00:46] What’s going on.

[00:00:48] Gerard Robinson [GR]: Well, we do have a new governor and, I was wrong. and not the first time because I, supported, Youngkin, in terms of my own work. But when you talk [00:01:00] about, the sun going down some, see it is going down on business as usual. And the same thing also happened in New Jersey, even though.

[00:01:10] Remained in place. And so this leads to my story that week, which is from Derrell Bradford, who is not only the president of 50 can. He’s also been a host here on the learning curve, really good piece in the daily news. And it’s from November 8th and of course, readers and listeners, you’ll find it on our webpage.

[00:01:30] He takes a look at both states and most people have no idea that Virginia and New Jersey are off cycles. And bellwether in many ways, Virginia, more so than New Jersey, but they were both bellwethers for different reasons. So Derrell says, listen, he’s got a pretty good idea about why, Terry McAuliffe, who was a former governor in a purple state, that in fact is the only Southern state to go blue in three presidential elections, flip this time for Youngkin.

[00:01:58] And he said, it’s because of critical race [00:02:00] theory and white grievance. And he said, Those are these two factors as to why that happened, but New Jersey has stated, he knows. Well, in fact, I believe he went to boarding school, in New Jersey and he said, but New Jersey is a little different while Virginia May be purple in New Jersey.

[00:02:18] You have twice as many Democrats as you do Republicans. And only a year ago by. New Jersey was 60% of the votes. Now the governor of course won again, but it was really closer than people expect. And so when you looked at both spades, either there’s these two things we should think about in terms of why we’re so close.

[00:02:36] We’re number one, he identified that Virginia had the seventh fewest days of in-person learning last year across 50 states. Guess what? New Jersey was a 10th fewest. And so. That was definitely a factor in terms of people not going to school, but that leaves the part two. He said there were a number of teacher unions and [00:03:00] associations who for a host of reasons, either decided not to open on time.

[00:03:04] Or if they did to ask for certain concessions. And so he said, but that’s just not on the east coast. He said, or even in blue states, he says, when you look at strikes and school closures, for teacher unions, that was a tactic to do things differently or to get attention, he said, but when you had quote, a spate of state wide job actions in red states, like Kentucky and Oklahoma and West Virginia, that brought public school system to a standstill.

[00:03:31] People began to ask questions. So why are the unions in fact doing this? And then you have Chicago and LA as two systems who decided to use their power in ways they thought worked best for them. Constituents, but when all was said and done, he said those two things didn’t work in favor of both democratic governors, but then he put it into a larger context of money.

[00:03:53] And we’ve talked about the American rescue plan on this show. A number of times you think about the fact to date the Biden, as he [00:04:00] said, said $123 billion. To the public schools and it’s trickling down. And yet public schools, for example, in Montclair, New Jersey or Fairfax county, Virginia, where private schools were open for most of the time, he says, well, many of your public schools were closed and why.

[00:04:19] And so parents began to ask very different questions and media of these. right wing Republican parents. Many of these in fact are true blue Democrats. And so when it’s time to go to the ballot box, they took a look at their children and took a look at their schools. They took a look at the money coming from the federal government.

[00:04:37] They took a look at what was in the classroom, what was outside. But then he said, and this is where, he really hits home in terms of optics. And he said, McAuliffe chose to have the face of school closures, AFT president Randi Weingarten B his campaign serum. Oh, the final resort while he dismissed the role of parents and education.

[00:04:59] And earlier in the [00:05:00] article, he said, really, McAuliffe’s challenge was, he said what he thought, but he did not read the audience after he said it. So a week ago we thought they were going to be. two blue governors is not one that to blue, in a state where some of the house and Senate seats flipped in New Jersey, something we haven’t also talked about.

[00:05:19] And in Virginia, we also have our first, statewide elected black woman, and we have an Hispanic as attorney. And Republicans also won the house. So a lot of good things going on, but real Bradford’s article is one worth reading because he picks up as easily. Does some really good nuances that often get lost in the noise of Paula.

[00:05:42] Cara: Yeah, I think that’s a good way of putting it. We can call derail a little bit like the king of nuance. And I also appreciate your analysis here. talking about his work, in fact that like at the end of the day, a lot of parents, you might identify as Republican or Democrat or something in [00:06:00] between, but.

[00:06:00] That doesn’t mean you always vote that way. And absolutely parents are looking at their own, kids are asking questions. and it seems like I, you know, it, Daryl’s always pretty good at pointing out the hypocrisy of the alphabet soup. Like that’s one of his strong suits, I think, but, , I didn’t even realize.

[00:06:19] ’cause, you know, I live under a rock sometimes here, cause it’s so dark up at 4:00 PM in Massachusetts. that Randi Weingarten had been out campaigning at those last days from a call up. But it’s a really important take. I also appreciate you are that you’re elevating that when so much of this country is going, oh my gosh, what does this mean for the VIN terms?

[00:06:36] And you know, this guy elected here and that guy limpid there and also pointing out too, that increasingly we are elected. Diverse candidates across this country. We are electing folks from racial and ethnic. And, , females, right? who’ve never been elected before, not in the kinds of numbers they are now.

[00:06:55] it’s so important to watch the local and not just get [00:07:00] wrapped up in this large swath politics and try and make predictions about what it means. Most of the. Experience politics more on the local level. The rest of it’s just sort of loud noise on my TV at night. I don’t know my husband’s flipping through the channels, but thank you for that, Gerard.

[00:07:16] is a good piece. And maybe next time Derrell. When you’re on vacation, of course not that you get to do that very often. he can talk about a little bit more of these nuanced issues. My story of the week is a bit of a hard pivot. We’re going international. And we took this one from the ed next blog this week.

[00:07:34] It’s from Christopher Thomas the title of it is educating. Girls will be our most powerful force for global change. I was drawn to this Gerard because I had, interestingly I wasn’t qualified to teach this, but in my days, working in teaching at BU I actually taught a course in child labor, which I.

[00:07:51] Study a lot, but we talked a lot about girls’ education. Interestingly, I was very pregnant when teaching course child labor. I was thought that was kind of funny, but, it’s this, [00:08:00] idea that, here in the U S is very recently, on this show, we’ve been talking about the education gap when it comes to boys and how women are outpacing men in terms of college going and college graduation and, girls outperform.

[00:08:13] their male counterparts on standardized tests and in graduation rates, all of the above. And I think, myopically, we think about these things and we easily forget that there are so many places across the globe where, , girls and women. Do not have access to education and it’s a huge problem.

[00:08:34] And one that, if we don’t pay attention to it is going to lead to a lot more problems. So this blog in this blog, it cites a Wittenstein center report that draws on 70 years of research to sort of perse out and highlight , what could happen. What are the, consequences of failing to educate such a large portion of the world population and what would happen?

[00:08:58] We actually did. if we [00:09:00] work together and, started to elevate this issue even more and ensured that young women in the places where they have the least access. So places like Africa, Melanesia and Southern Asia, that these are the places that the report names is, where. Women. And young girls had the least access to education.

[00:09:17] What would happen if girls were educated and there’s plenty of research. I’m sure you’ve seen a jury. I’m sure of listeners have seen it about like what happens economically if you give, women, micro-grants no offense here, my friend, but instead of men and that, women will, manage the money better.

[00:09:33] they’ll do more with it. They won’t spend as much they’ll save it. They’ll grow. It they’ll care for their families. And that’s, I see in a lot of developing countries when through micro grant programs, for example, but this long-term. Says, basically the same thing that if we were to educate all of the girls in this world, that we would enhance economic productivity and that that alone would improve [00:10:00] development outcomes to a huge extent.

[00:10:02] That it would also, it has implications for, for example, the global population, , when women are more educated, with some scholars are quite worried about, overpopulation, when women have access to education, they have fewer children for various reasons that we don’t need to get into now, but just really fascinating stuff in for me to regard.

[00:10:21] It was a really great reminder that, the stuff that’s going on in our own front and backyard. Oftentimes just so very different. I’m sure you could hardly imagine if the young women in your household, and I know you are surrounded, you are outnumbered, in your house. didn’t have access to school as you.

[00:10:40] Flourish and thrive. And in a reminder, too, that we are so often focused on access to primary education and talking about, educating young children and that this is really an issue about access to primary and secondary education. So that the countries shouldn’t just be able to tick a box and say, [00:11:00] oh, sure, yeah, , we’re allowing women in compulsory education, or we’re going to make education compulsory up until, you know, grades.

[00:11:06] Or grade five up until a child is 11 or 12 years old, that all humans, women and men need, access to a sound pre-K to 12 education. And that outcomes for the world would be much better. So I really appreciated this article, Gerard. I thought it was a great reminder. And at next blog always has some really cool stuff.

[00:11:27] What do you think?

[00:11:28] GR: I like the fact that you put it in an international. point of view, we’ve talked about the education of women and girls, primary schools, middle, well, primary of course, but also higher ed. So I really can’t add much more than to say.

[00:11:43] Cara: Yeah, it’s good stuff. , I hope that we hear more about this and we will bring it to our listeners as we read about it.

[00:11:48] Okay. Gerard, it’s sort of related. We’re going to be talking next to a really cool guest. I know that she is a friend of yours and, speak to her. We’re going to be talking [00:12:00] to Jennifer Mizrahi, who is the founder of an organization called respectability and her life work is dedicated to uplifting and ensuring that people with disabilities have access to all of the things that they need to live a happy and healthy life.

[00:12:18] And, she’s also philanthropists. And so investing in. Her foundations money in the causes that are near and dear to her heart. , she’s a really cool lady. And, looking forward to the conversation right now.

[00:12:52] Learning curve listeners today, we are so pleased to have with us. Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi. She is the president of RespectAbility, a [00:13:00] nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunity. So people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of community. She has published dozens of op-eds and publications on disability issues and has provided testimony in every state.

[00:13:15] Wow. She’s met one-to-one with 48 of America’s governors, as well as leaders in Washington on education skills and jobs for people with disabilities. Respectability is also working in Hollywood so that entertainment media will highlight what people with disabilities can do. Mizrahi is also the co-founder director of the Mizrahi

[00:13:34] Family Charitable Fund, and a supported over 100 terrific nonprofits over the last two decades. A graduate of Emory, Mizrahi recently got her third certificate from the executive training programs at Harvard. She is dyslexic and has ADHD and has won awards for her work at the United nations. And in many other forums, Jennifer Mizrahi, welcome to The Learning Curve.

[00:13:55] Jennifer: I am so glad to be with you today. Thank you so much for hosting. [00:14:00] Oh yeah.

[00:14:01] Cara: We’re excited to have you. And I know that you know, my partner in crime here at Gerard Robinson quite well. , so you know, your bio is just, wow. We have, a lot of people on the show with pretty fantastic bio’s but I’ve not seen one like this before.

[00:14:14] It’s pretty cool. So in the day-to-day I don’t meet many people who do this work. I would love to know more about. How you came to it and in what it is you do, like what’s the intersection here of sort of reform and philanthropy for you. So

[00:14:29] Jennifer: it’s a great question that you ask. So first of all, it’s really important when you work on solving problems that the people that you work with actually having lived experience with those problems.

[00:14:42] So. Up I’m dyslexic and have ADHD, as you mentioned, which means I have learning disabilities. I also grew up in North Carolina and in the time when I grew up, not very many people knew what dyslexia was and so it was not diagnosed. when I was a [00:15:00] child and I am very tall people who are listening to a podcast, they can’t tell that I’m a little over five 10.

[00:15:07] And guess what? I’ve been a little over five 10 since I was. Over years old, which means I got to be five, 10 before I learned how to read. so a lot of people really, called stupid or lazy, because I was really having a quote unquote, failure to thrive. And so I really. So people who have some sort of barrier to everyday living, when people think of disabilities, they usually think of, people who are blind or they use a wheelchair or they’re deaf, they have a physical disability that you can physically see.

[00:15:39] But actually the majority of the , 57 million people in America who have disabilities, you can’t say. Their disability. So I’ve really come to this because a lot of people have been taught that disability means no ability. And the thing is that disability means there’s one or more things that you can’t [00:16:00] do, but that doesn’t mean you’re not really good at lots of other things.

[00:16:04] And so one thing that I’ve seen is that, really hard bigotry of low expectations, where when they think of disability, They think pity instead of empowerment and most people with a disability, they want a hand up and not a handout. And that’s what respectability is all about is helping people with disabilities, find their abilities and achieve their dream.

[00:16:30] Cara: what an amazing story, , 5, 10, before you say you could really learn how to read and that’s, you know, I think that we all now at some point, and know when I was kid that dyslexia and other forms of, as you might put it disabilities that you can’t see were not things that people discussed or talked about.

[00:16:49] And now we have to say that as a parent, these things are much more at the four, so I’m really curious for your take on, like, if we’ve learned anything, in recent decades, [00:17:00] it sounds like through your work we have, but I also want to pick up on something here and that is, , We have a lot of, children in this country, with different learning needs and some might have different abilities when it comes to learning.

[00:17:14] And many of those kids either couldn’t be served or for some reason weren’t being served, during the pandemic. Can you talk a little bit about this particular moment in your work? And maybe also tell us a little bit about How you’re thinking about what needs to happen now, philanthropically.

[00:17:34] Jennifer: So what a good question. First of all. There are about 7 million students in America’s public schools that we know have disabilities 7 million. And because this country is becoming more and more diverse. and so our school children are more and more diverse. The majority of those students are also children of color.

[00:17:56] they might be African American, they might be an [00:18:00] immigrant themselves or their parents might’ve been imminent. If you were an English language learner, let’s say your parents came from Mexico to try and achieve the American dream. And you’re having difficulty due to this SIA. The teachers might not know is that child not learning because their parents aren’t speaking English at home or because there’s a learning discipline.

[00:18:24] If they’re in a school district that is underfunded, and this is very common because the way we pay for schools in America is through property taxes. So if you live in a wealthy neighborhood, you’re going to have a lot more resources for early intervention, for diagnosis, for speech therapists, for, learning specialists, et cetera, et cetera.

[00:18:46] If you’re in a poor neighborhood, you might not have. Any of those resources to help child. And also let’s be honest. Most marriages or most children are being raised in a single parent [00:19:00] family. I was incredibly lucky because I had a two parent family and my mom could spend a lot of time. Fighting for me to figure out what was wrong and how do I overcome it.

[00:19:12] And she personally was able to give me a lot of time to help upskill me. And if you’re in a single parent household, or if your parents are working molt, suitable jobs, who’s going to play that role. So these 7 million children. Disproportionately are finding that they might not get the right diagnosis, or if they get the right diagnosis, they’re not getting the right.

[00:19:36] What’s called an IEP, an individualized education plan for them to meet their needs, or they’re not implemented. And so they might get really frustrated in school and behave badly, and then they get suspended. And then once they’re suspended, they’re so far behind in their schoolwork, they might fail out or drop out.

[00:19:56] And so we see this huge correlation in [00:20:00] America with disabilities. And with incarceration because these kids will often, you know, get in trouble. And so they enter that school to prison pipeline. So America’s over 2 million people who are incarcerated a disproportionate number of them, literally a majority of people in jail or people with disabilities.

[00:20:22] Cara: I want to pick up on something that you said, Jennifer, and I know I’m going a little bit off script here, what we talked about before the show, but, , it’s really interesting to me that you bring up this point of parents and how, a lot of just amazing single parents out there doing the work and it’s so much work.

[00:20:40] And so I think to the point that you’re making to have more than one adult in your life that can not only, support. Children with whatever their unique abilities are, but also navigate the system. , in this country, it’s what, something like 12% of students in this country, we say have special needs now who knows?

[00:20:58] You probably know better [00:21:00] than I have. That’s the real number , we say here in Massachusetts, that about 17% of our students have IDPs, but that doesn’t mean that every parent. Is well-equipped to navigate all that comes with what is actually, it’s a legal process, right? And IEP is a legal document and students are do services under federal law.

[00:21:19] Could you for the parents out there, and for those who are interested in policy, talk a little bit about what parents and family members need to know about their.

[00:21:29] Jennifer: it is really hard. So I, myself, I’m a parent. as a parent, I know what it’s like to parent a child with a completely different set of disabilities than my own.

[00:21:40] And so I feel like I had to get like a master’s degree in that particular kind of disability and read a lot on the web. Luckily there’s a. Mendez amount of information for parents now on the web, including a lot of videos and tutorials and toolkits, but what if you [00:22:00] don’t have access to the internet?

[00:22:01] There are also every state has a parent regional. , center and it’s really important to also have grandparents or aunts and uncles or mentors or clergy who can help, but also to find people who are older and successful and have the same disability who can mentor a child with a disability to show them that there is a path forward to skills, jobs, and a better future, people with disabilities, they want to love, learn and earn.

[00:22:31] Just like anyone else. And so ha I’m in good role models can be extremely helpful, but the internet is a friend and it is true. There are legal rights. A child with a disability has legal rights to get what’s called an IEP, an individualized education plan for them. And then to have that plan implemented, which might mean that they’re in a smaller class size, it might be an extra teacher in the classroom.

[00:22:57] It might be, some social skills [00:23:00] training. It might be a school bus will come and pick up that child and take them to totally different school. That’s better equipped to meet their needs. So it is really important to get your legal rights and to have them taken care of and all across the country.

[00:23:16] There are actually, , free lawyers who can help, , through, , some different centers. , and people can always email me at Jennifer M at respectability dot. And I’ll try and hook them up to try and help them out.

[00:23:30] GR: So, Jennifer, speaking of technology, we live in a society where technology is driving a lot of what we do.

[00:23:38] Could you talk to our audience about how modern technology inclusive, assistive technologies and even AI is being used to help people with discipline.

[00:23:48] Jennifer: Gerard. This is such an important question because it is been such a big boost in new innovations in this space. So one of the most common [00:24:00] disabilities is that as people age, they start to lose their hearing.

[00:24:04] And now. Necessarily, , impact a child, right? Because they’re not getting old and losing their hearing. but their parent or their grandparent who might be tutoring them, who might be watching videos with them needs captions. And what’s beautiful is that if you take a video and you put it on YouTube through this AI, it will instantly generate captions automatically instantly for my favorite price, which is.

[00:24:33] And now zoom has a button that you can press on zoom, and it will also put captions instantly on your zoom, which is also good, frankly, for English language learners or for people who have cognitive disabilities that need the visual reinforcement of the words on the screen. So the instant captioning has been incredibly effective.

[00:24:56] Additionally, almost every computer that you buy [00:25:00] off the shelf, no special kind of anything needed. If you buy a Mac or you buy a Dell, it has assisted technology built in so that it will read to you text. So you can go to a website and you can ask it to read it out loud to you. And it will, which is fantastic for people who are blind or have.

[00:25:21] Low vision. It’s just a wonderful solution. So there are so many different, , solutions that are out there. But I must say one of my favorites is just remote learning and remote work. Because if you have a disability that makes it impossible for you to drive like you’re blind, or you have disc or you have epilepsy, or if you have other reasons that you really need to stay home.

[00:25:47] You can go and learn online or earn online, which is really remarkable. And so.

[00:25:54] GR: Earlier, you talked about education and in the pandemic, millions of [00:26:00] students across the country, K-12, we’re out of school, but we rarely talk about, college age or adult age, uh, students who are also out, they were impacted.

[00:26:09] We talk about learning. We haven’t really spent a lot of time talking about how , having a disability impact student achievement gaps in schools and in colleges. And you’ve been pretty vocal about this with your work with not only governors and lawmakers, but just talking about what does it mean?

[00:26:25] So educate us about what that population is going through the K12 level, but particularly colleges.

[00:26:31] Jennifer: It has been really difficult for students with disabilities because a lot of times they did get their legal rights of getting extra tutoring or extra supports or notes, or perhaps extra time on a task.

[00:26:45] But when they moved to the home invasion, They didn’t give them the same accommodations. And so those students fell very, very far behind. Look, , it’s not like I’m angry at the school teachers and, you know, everybody was faced with a pandemic. They [00:27:00] didn’t really know what to do. There was no, , book they can pull out that says in case of, pandemic break glass, and here’s the magic secret to how you can do this easily.

[00:27:10] It was very hard to try and accomplish, but we saw students have. Mendez gaps in learning that if they’re a student with a disability were enormously magnified, whether they were, a high school student and elementary school student, or a college student for some of those students, it worked out very If they’re very self-motivated and they didn’t need certain kinds of accommodations. For other students, it really was a big gap. And in fact, as you know, Gerard we’ve asked in a number of states actually across the board that students be given extra time to complete high school, for example, because legally students can stay in school only until they’re a certain age, the age of 21 with which to get their high school diploma.

[00:27:53] And we’ve said, Hey, given the pandemic, if somebody needs. A year, give them that time. New Jersey has [00:28:00] done that other places have put summer school programs in place. There is a lot of learning gaps that we’re really, really facing and really challenging. But one of the nice things has been that, some of these community colleges and other programs are now available online, which for those, for whom it is convenient, it can be very helpful.

[00:28:21] GR: You talked about college students in K-12. Your organization did a wonderful job working with Congress as related to access to food. Talk to us about.

[00:28:32] Jennifer: sometimes government does everything right. And sometimes government just completely, totally lacks common sense. And in this particular case, there was a very simple solution to a life-threatening problem.

[00:28:47] So when COVID hit, there was no vaccine, you know, and people didn’t know if you wear a mask, if that was enough, if it was coming through touch or if it was through the air, they had no idea. But what we did see in the [00:29:00] CDC early data was that 80% of the people who are going into the hospital, all the people who were dying had an underlying condition.

[00:29:10] So these are by definition people with disabilities, not my disability cause ADHD doesn’t put me at a risk. , neither does dyslexia, but , certainly people who. Heart conditions who have obesity who have chronic health conditions. They were at really, really high risk people with intellectual disabilities at super high risk.

[00:29:30] So they couldn’t go to the supermarket without having a really big risk. And yet 11 million people in America with disabilities rely on snap, which is food stamps to eat 11 million. So we were telling people who were blind. That they have to go to the supermarket to produce their food stamps in person to buy things.

[00:29:55] They were not allowed to buy food online. So one of the things that we did was we [00:30:00] had to go state by state governor, by governor and get them to change it because if somebody is getting food stamps so that they can eat, why can’t they order the food online? Just like other people use Instacart or Walmart or.

[00:30:14] As on to order food, why couldn’t people use food stamps for online? It’s no additional money. And so fortunately 46 states have now changed that. And the only states that haven’t changed, it are states that are so rural that there’s not really a food delivery service in place. So over well, approximately 10 million people with disabilities no longer had to make a choice between.

[00:30:42] Eating and catching COVID. So this was just something that was common sense that needed to get done.

[00:30:48] GR: Well, as we close out my last question for you, you focused on government, you focused on K-12 and college, but we also know that Hollywood plays an important [00:31:00] role in shaping who we see what we think about them.

[00:31:04] Talk to the audience about the work you’re doing to diversify Hollywood in ways we often don’t think about when we hear diversity.

[00:31:11] Jennifer: I’m so glad you asked that question because if you see it, you can be it. And when people with disabilities are shown for what they can do, instead of what they can’t, their dreams get bigger.

[00:31:25] And people are more willing to let them have the opportunities that they achieve that they deserve to have to achieve. So the first one that we worked on was born this way on a Annie network, which won 13 Emmy nominations and three wins, including best reality series. Jonathan Murray, our board member made that series and it starts seven diverse people with down syndrome and it showed them getting jobs.

[00:31:51] And having friends and living as independently as possible, a followup season is currently available for free on peacock [00:32:00] core, born for business. It’s a terrific 10 part series that shows for people with disabilities who started their own successful companies and how they navigate running a. During COVID and then of course, there’s blockbusters.

[00:32:14] So check out the internals. The internals is the new Marvel movie, and you will see a fabulous character who is a deaf woman, super hero, who also happens to be African-American and really cool. And they’re even our dolls now for this character showing positive role models so that children can dream dreams about having better lives.

[00:32:37] And then they can go out reach.

[00:32:40] Cara: I have to say this new Marvel movies, all the hype in my house right now, my kids can’t wait

[00:32:46] Jennifer: to see.

[00:32:47] Cara: And one of them might not be old enough and it might let them anyway. I’ve already heard some great stuff about the character you’ve mentioned on various radio programs and newspapers.

[00:32:55] So really exciting stuff. , it’s so rare, , that we have, I [00:33:00] guess, Such breadth on this show. This is then a really wonderful, half hour for Gerard and for me, and we thank you so much, Jennifer for joining us today. Just great work and we’re so happy to be able to, elevate it and highlight it for our listeners.

[00:33:17] Jennifer: Well, thank you for having me and thanks for all you all do. It’s really traumatic. We try our best.

[00:33:25] Cara: You take care and stay safe and we’ll be on the lookout for all of your great work. And

[00:33:30] Jennifer: for those movies you mentioned. Thank you.

[00:33:54] Cara: And we’re going to close it out with our tweet of the week. I love this one because I’m always encouraging my [00:34:00] kids to get up and move. Especially when they’re screaming at me that they want to scream. And I’m evil mommy saying no, but this is from ed week. , yesterday, his tweet came out. So we are recording on the ninth.

[00:34:10] This is, November 8th, new neuroscience research suggests that kids are feeling isolate. P E can help them bounce back. So it’s just a really great article in ed week that in brief talks about the fact that yeah, the pandemic has isolated our kids. Isolation is not great for kids, but it also shows and anybody who’s an exerciser, as I am knows that, exercise can lower, your anxiety can lower your stress levels has great benefits for us cognitively.

[00:34:42] So it’s all about getting those kiddos up and out and getting them on the move. So schools, even as you think about, all of that learning loss and everything we need to do to catch kids. Let’s make sure they’re moving while they’re doing it. And they’re moving in between next week listeners. We are going to be speaking [00:35:00] with Paul Israel.

[00:35:00] He is the director and general editor of the Thomas Edison papers at Rutgers university. He’s also the author of Edison, a life of invention. What a great title for a great man. Take care of yourself. And, I’m actually gonna get to see you in person soon. We won’t say where, but I’ll get to see what person said looking forward to, to my friend, but we’ll talk to you before that and you have a great week ahead.

[00:35:24] GR: Take care.

[00:35:25] Bye-bye.

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