Fresh Angles: Covering Disability within Education, Employment, Healthcare and Housing

We live in an age of budget battles and cuts to social services. This Specialized Reporting Institute took a look at the impact of those cuts on some of society's most vulnerable citizens: people with disabilities.
Access Living and ADA 25 joined The Poynter Institute to present a two-day workshop to give journalists the knowledge and skills to create engaging and powerful journalism on this topic. Though the focus was on potential budget cuts in Illinois and their impact on key social services for people with disabilities, journalists from across the United States can use the resources and knowledge that emerged from the SRI to create stories that resonate on a national level or reflect changes in their own communities.
Resources on this page will enable journalists to meet the challenge of effectively covering disability in all areas of society. These resources are provided as part of a Specialized Reporting Institute, "Fresh Angles: Covering Disability within Education, Employment, Healthcare and Housing," hosted by The Poynter Institute, Access Living and ADA 25 Chicago on Nov. 2-3, 2015. The SRI was funded by the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

Find an Expert

Marca Bristo, president and CEO, Access Living, tel.: 312-640-2104; TTY: 312-640-2140; email:

Karen Tamley, commissioner, Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, City of Chicago, tel.: 312-744.-6673; TTY: 312-744-7833

Gary Arnold, public affairs manager for Access Living and president of the board for Little People of America, tel.: 312-640-2199; TTY: 312-640-2102; email:

JJ Hanley, founder and executive director of JJ’s List,

Twitter Tags to Follow

@AccessLiving, an organization committed to fostering an inclusive society

@Disabilitygov, the U.S. government source for information on disability policies, programs and services

@JJsList, Chicago organization connecting businesses and people with disabilities

Blogs Worth Reading

Lead On: The Access Living Blog, a blog that offers an in-depth view of the specific work of our staff on the issues of disability rights and empowerment

Disabled World's Blogs focus on topics of interest relating to disability, health, veterans with disabilities, and people who care for those with disabilities.

JJ's List Blog covers topics connected to disability awareness in the business community.

Key Resources

Information on Federal Laws and Resources


The ADA addresses the rights of people with disabilities to public access, accommodation at work and more, information on all aspects of the Americans with Disabilities Act, information on all national programs and services for people with disabilities

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act protects individuals from discrimination based on a disability. This document provides a summary.

The Rehabilitation Act of 1973: Note that entities like the Veterans Administration that are not covered by the ADA are obligated to provide access as outlined in the Rehab Act.


The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing; note this memo on housing law for people with disabilities who have service or assistance animals

Air Travel

The ACAA bars discrimination against people with disabilities in air travel


The IDEA, the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act, establishes the rights of children with disabilities to accommodation

Web Resources

Access Living is a Chicago organization that works toward an inclusive society where those with disabilities can live independent and engaged lives.

ADA 25 Chicago is commemmorating the 25th anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act by working toward improved quality of life for people with disabilities. The organization seeks to build public awareness in the areas of education, employment, inclusion and technology.

Disabled World is an independent news source for information on health and disability; note their section on the rights of people in America with disabilities.

JJ's List helps businesses become more aware of and accessible to customers and employees who have disabilities.



Getting Beyond Stereotypes: Better Disability Journalism

How can you tell better stories about the 56 million Americans who identify as disabled? Too often, media stories about people with disabilities are framed in ways that perpetuate stereotypes of disability as tragic or something to be overcome. This free Webinar replay offers better ways to tell stories about disability as identity, reveal key resources for reporting on these stories and see the disability angle hidden within almost every beat.

Related NewsU Training

Ethics of Journalism: This self-directed course will help you develop a process for making ethical decisions, give you the confidence to make tough calls when needed and defend your decisions to your editors, your colleagues and your audience.

Handling Race and Ethnicity: This self-directed course pushes students to examine questions about when to mention race or ethnicity in an article. Similar questions arise around mentioning a person's disability. The guidance in this course can help you ask the right questions and make ethical decisions about how much information to provide or emphasis to place on disability in your stories.

Reporting on Mental Health Conditions and Suicide: Not all disabilities are physical or visible. This self-directed course offers insight into mental illnesses and disabilities and provides guidance for journalists who cover individuals who live with mental disabilities.