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'Glee' Star Tapped For President's Disability Committee

From Disability Scoop, By Michelle Diament

November 7, 2011

President Barack Obama is soliciting advice on disability issues from an actress with Down syndrome who has a regular role on Fox’s “Glee.”

Obama said he plans to appoint Lauren Potter, 21, to the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities. She is well-known for playing cheerleader Becky Jackson on the hit television show “Glee.”

The committee Potter will join is made up of 21 citizens and 13 federal representatives who are tasked with advising the president and the secretary of health and human services on issues pertaining to Americans with intellectual disabilities.

Potter rose to fame in disability circles in 2009 when she first appeared on “Glee.” The actress had recently graduated from high school when she impressed the show’s creators who decided to bring her back for additional episodes.

The notoriety from “Glee” led Potter to become involved nationally as a self-advocate, speaking out against use of the word “retard” and bullying of people with disabilities.

In addition to Potter, Obama also appointed Julie Petty to the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities. A self-advocate from Fayetteville, Ark., Petty is a past president of Self Advocates Becoming Empowered who recently testified before Congress on disability employment issues.

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Video Of Judge Beating Girl With Cerebral Palsy Sparks Outrage

From Disability Scoop, By Shaun Heasley

November 3, 2011

A Texas judge is under investigation after a video of him beating his daughter who has cerebral palsy went viral on the internet.

The seven-minute video, which was recently posted by Hillary Adams, shows her father, Aransas County Court-at-Law Judge William Adams, striking the then-16-year-old with a belt repeatedly as punishment after the girl illegally downloaded music from the internet.

Now, 23, Hillary Adams says she posted the video seven years after the incident occurred because she feared the consequences for her, her mother and her sister if she took the video public while still living with her father.

In his position as a judge, Hillary Adams’ father does hear cases involving children. Since the video hit the Web, it’s had more than 1.6 million views on YouTube and outraged individuals from around the world have posted on Facebook and contacted local officials calling for action.

For his part, Judge Adams says he did nothing more than discipline his child, reports The Today Show.

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Online Bachelor's Degree To Cater To Students With Disabilities

From Disability Scoop, By Michelle Diament

August 29, 2011

A first-of-its-kind program launching in January is designed to make obtaining a four-year degree more attainable for people with developmental disabilities.

The bachelor’s degree program from Sage Colleges in Albany, N.Y. includes a traditional 120 credit hours, but features small classes, extra supports and a modified course schedule to meet the needs of students with autism and other special needs.

All class instructors will be trained to work with students with disabilities and coursework will be presented in a variety of ways to accommodate different learning styles, officials at the school say.

What’s more, students in the program known as the Achieve Degree will each have personal support from a behavior analyst.

The program, which will focus on computer science, will run year-round, with six, eight-week sessions allowing students to juggle fewer courses at a time while still completing a rigorous academic program.

“By allowing students to focus on one or two topics per term, faculty and mentors are able to work closely with students to provide the sorts of feedback and interaction that facilitate learning,” said Terry Weiner, provost at Sage. “Further, by eliminating long periods of inactivity such as summer break, students are able to stay focused in ‘study mode’ and not risk losing valuable intellectual connections and study skills that must then be regained, slowing forward momentum toward the degree.”

Beyond pure academics — which Sage officials indicate will be on par with the college’s typical standards — the program will also focus on life skills. Students will take one credit courses to learn about everything from study skills to personal finance and interpersonal communication.

But the unique approach does not come cheap. Tuition for the first year is set at $27,000, with increases for each of the three subsequent years as the course load increases, Sage officials say.

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