In the News

The Google for People with Spinal Cord Injury

“Google it” has nowadays become the go-to response to questions we actually don’t know how to answer. But imagine you or someone you love, have just become paralyzed, due to an injury or a disease and you find yourself learning how to use a wheelchair, or wondering whether you could still be a parent. Google can give you a lot of hits for your questions, but sifting through them all to maybe find the answer you need can be a daunting task. This kind of problem is the birthplace of

The original article appeared on the Ruderman Family Foundation on April 5, 2017.


Teen creates apps to help people with special needs

Johnny Ciocca is a self-taught app maker, who, at only 17 years of age, has already launched 35 apps. While his portfolio features everything from retro-style arcade games to practical tools that keep people on schedule, the Bonita Springs teen's most important work has been helping people with special needs lead more social lives. His inspiration comes from older brother Christian, who has Down syndrome.

The original article appeared on USA Today on March 21, 2017.

The Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of A Special Education Student

School districts must give students with disabilities the chance to make meaningful, "appropriately ambitious" progress, the Supreme Court said Wednesday in an 8-0 ruling.

The original article appeared on on March 22, 2017.

Julia, A Muppet With Autism, Joins The Cast Of 'Sesame Street'

For the first time in a decade, the classic children's television show Sesame Street will introduce a new Muppet on the air.

Her name is Julia. She's a shy and winsome 4-year-old, with striking red hair and green eyes. Julia likes to paint and pick flowers. When Julia speaks, she often echoes what she's just heard her friends Abby and Elmo say. Julia has autism.

The original article appeared on on March 20, 2017.

How To Build A More Inclusive Jewish Community

Judaism values inclusion. Yet, according to a study conducted in 2013 by RespectAbilityUSA and JerusalemU, most American Jews with disabilities feel excluded from their own gathering places.

The original article appeared on on February 6, 2017.


Controversial ADHD 5-day prescription rule scrapped from Georgia bill

A provision of a Georgia Senate bill that would have required adults and children on ADHD medications to get new prescriptions every five days has been scrapped.

The original article appeared on Fox 6 Now News.


Marathon to Develop Technological Solutions for People with Disabilities

I first wrote about Tikkun Olam Makers—better known as TOM—in May of last year, and titled it “How to Change the World.” Admittedly a lofty title, but not an inaccurate one. TOM is best known for organizing makeathons. As the name suggest, these are marathons of making where tinkerers and makers from all across the world come together for an intense 72 hour period in order to create ingenious solutions.

The original article appeared on the Ruderman Family Foundation.


How a Speech Scientist is Helping a Child Speak, Using Others’ Words

Rupal Patel hopes to give eight-year-old Leo True-Frost — who has cerebral palsy and is unable to speak — his own voice, using any sounds he's still able to make combined with a matching donor voice.

The original article appeared on NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt.


Op-Ed: I’m not your mitzvah project

I have Tourette syndrome, a neurological disorder characterized by involuntary movements and noises called “tics.” My Tourette’s is relatively mild at this point, but I went through a turbulent adolescence when Tourette’s was the most defining thing about me.

The original article appeared on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.


Disabilities vs. Special Needs - It's Time to Use the Words We Truly Mean

While I prefer the term disability as I think it is clear, understandable and not in any way derogatory, I have been approached by parents of students in my school who have asked me to use the language of special needs because they find it gentler.

The original article appeared on Removing the Stumbling Block.


Southern Made: Bitty & Beau's Coffee Shop

You won't find any coffee shop more welcoming or warmhearted than Bitty & Beau's in Wilmington, North Carolina. Founded by owner Amy Wright and her husband, the shop is run by individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, in honor of the couple's two children – Bitty and Beau – who have Down Syndrome.

The original article appeared in Southern Living.


Google Maps is now wheelchair-friendly

A group of Google employees spent their '20% time' making Google Maps wheelchair-friendly.

The original article appeared in Business Insider on December 15, 2016.


The nation’s first deaf leader of a Hillel aims to make Judaism accessible to all

Jacob Salem speaks six languages. Yet if he walked into a typical synagogue service in either of the countries where he grew up — America or Israel — he might still get lost.

The original article appeared in the Washington Post on December 18, 2016.


For Kids With Special Needs, A Trail Of Their Own

Great article about Doylestown Township’s new Sensory Trail (Doylestown, PA). A play space designed specifically for children with special needs.

The original article appeared in DisabilityScoop on November 18, 2016.


The Highs & Lows of Parenting a Child with Fragile X Syndrome

I am a typical parent with an atypical son, which means that I have extraordinary parenting experiences that I deal with in an ordinary way.

The original article appeared in Kveller on September 21, 2016.


How Synagogues Can Be a House of Prayer for All People

It’s our responsibility to organize ourselves to keep inclusion on the front-burner of congregational concerns. We need to continuously raise awareness and educate everyone in our synagogue community, and we need lay and professional leaders to shepherd how we do this.

The original article appeared in Union for Reform Judaism on September 2, 2016.


Microsoft Wants Autistic Coders. Can It Find Them And Keep Them?

Job interviews can be especially hard if you're autistic. A Microsoft effort aimed at a wider spectrum of the workforce wants to solve that.

The original article appeared in Fast Company on September 6, 2016.


Homemade wheelchair offers paralyzed toddler sense of freedom

A 13-month-old toddler paralyzed by a tumor on her spine has been outfitted with a homemade wheelchair so she can keep up with her friends during playtime.

The original article appeared in Fox News Health on August 17, 2016.How I Found My Place in the Jewish Community Despite My Disability----


How I Found My Place in the Jewish Community Despite My Disability

My disability has been and always will be part of who I am. I try not to let it define me.

The original article appeared in on February 8, 2016.


University of Georgia Professor Explains His ‘Asperger’s Advantage’ and Disabling Assumption of Disorder

A fascinating look at disorders and disabilities by a University of Georgia professor who says his own include Asperger’s, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive thinking.

The original article appeared in the Atlanta Jewish Times on May 27, 2016.


The Temple and Temple Sinai Receive Honor, Recognition from URJ's Disabilities Inclusion Learning Center

The Temple and Temple Sinai received special recognition from the URJ as one of the 27 exemplar congregations for disability inclusion.

The original article appeared in the Atlanta Jewish Times on November 16, 2015. Click to view The Temple and Temple Sinai's special designation on the URJ's website.


Dining Out In A Wheelchair

When you're in a wheelchair, dining out is so much more complicated.

"I call ahead...and I ask specific questions," says David Friedman, who reviews restaurants for both their food and wheelchair accessibility on The Disabled Foodie. "If it comes down to it, I ask: 'Are the doorways 34 inches or wider?'" 

The original article appeared on on March 14, 2016.


Squirm with a Purpose

Teachers have long struggled to get children to sit still at their desks. But for children with ADHD, those orders might be counterproductive.

That’s the research focus of Florida State University Assistant Professor of Psychology Michael Kofler, who is developing new, non-medication treatments for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). New research by Kofler at FSU’s Children’s Learning Clinic shows that children often fidget or move when they are trying to solve a problem, and that movement may have a positive effect on children with ADHD.

The original article appeared in FSU News 24/7 on February 22, 2016.


JNF Helps Israel Expand Inclusion

Jewish National Fund has treated February, observed as Jewish Disabilities Awareness and Inclusion Month, as an action month to ensure support and inclusion for all and has dedicated its online resources to commemorating those efforts. 

JNF inclusion partners in Israel include Aleh Negev-Nahalat EranLOTEM-Making Nature AccessibleRed Mountain Therapeutic Riding Center at Kibbutz Grofit and Special in Uniform. JNF created its Task Force on Disabilities to bring partner organizations together to share resources and meet the needs of those with disabilities in the Galilee and Negev, which typically offer fewer services than are available in the heavily populated center of Israel.

The original article appeared in the Atlanta Jewish Times on February 22, 2016.


Power of One 2016

The 2nd Annual Power of One event was held on January 31, 2016 at The Selig Center. The event was a huge success with over 200 people in attendance! The Jewish Abilities Alliance is grateful to the participating organizations for submitting their Power of One honorees for recognition. Because of our community support, we were able to honor 32 individuals that represent what the Power of One truly means.

If you would like to donate to the Jewish Abilities Alliance in honor of these innovators of inclusion, please click here.

To view pictures from the Power of One reception click here.