July/August 2018, Vol. 4, No. 5
RAISE The Standard Newsletter
Raising the Standard for Young Adults with Disabilities
Technical Assistance and Resources for RSA-funded
Parent Training and Information Centers

“I am different, not less.”
- Temple Grandin
Diversability: Using the term “diversability,” Naty Rico shares her perspective as she works toward identifying as a person with a disability.


How do you identify yourself? RAISE’s own Josie Badger shares her perspective as she urges viewers to be labeled “organic.”

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Embrace Your Identity.
Own Who You Are.
Amplify Your Strengths.

We like the easy-to-read graphic slide presented as part of a webinar hosted by author, advocate and RAISE Advisory Board member LeDerick Horne and his colleague Dr. Margo Izzo.

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Words Matter

Are you “autistic” or “a person with autism?”

Are you “a person with an intellectual disability” or “intellectually disabled?” 

Are you “deaf” or “a person who is deaf?” 

Is "disability" a bad word?

The “No R-Word” movement sought to shift language away from pejorative terms such as “retarded” that many self-advocates found offensive. But just what language feels right? And terms like “handicapped” have been removed from most places (…bathrooms and parking spots remain a hold-out.)

Some advocates believe that “people first language” is the answer.

This means that when referring to someone, we put the person first, for example, “a woman with disabilities.” They say it is not about “being politically correct,” rather, it is about showing respect in the ways in which we talk and think about someone.

But a growing movement is pushing back against “people first language." They see disability as an identity, and a source of pride. In fact, many in the autism community believe the term “autistic” is an integral and defining part of their identity – like gender, race and religion. (One would not say, for example, “a person who is a woman,” or “a man who is African American.”)

Advocate Alex Lowery wrote a compelling piece in which he explains why he identifies more closely with the term “autistic”:

“…Why is it considered offensive to say someone is autistic? And why is it better to say that they “have” autism? To me, that kind of implies that autism is an illness that needs to be cured — which it isn’t.”


ASK SOMEONE… “What do you prefer?”
And if you are a young person, ASK YOURSELF… “How do I identify?”
In this video, Annie Elainey explores her thoughts about disability identity and language and how personal preference matters.

Educators and Transition Coordinators:

Are you looking to help a student develop a greater sense of pride? Experts advise that you start small, start with willing students, and start with a discussion. The following questions can prompt discussion in a one-to-one meeting or a small group:

  • How did you become aware of your disability?
  • Can you tell me of a time when you felt shame?
  • Can you share a time when you felt proud?

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Exploring Identity

There is so much good stuff out there on the topic of disability identity, we are offering four resources in this edition:
Inclusion Lab

We love the information provided by The Inclusion Lab at Brookes Publishing. In a book called Empowering Students with Hidden Disabilities A Path to Pride and Success, authors Margo Vreeburg Izzo, Ph.D. and LeDerick Horne lay out 6 stages to empowerment and pride:

  • Acceptance
  • Self-disclosure
  • Use supports
  • Self-advocacy
  • Connect to disability community
  • Disability pride


Their logo says it all. This award-winning global movement seeks to “rebrand” disability. They aim to get more people talking and thinking about disability as a core part of the diversity conversation.

With more than 12.4K followers across social media, they seek to unite the disability community, engage allies in the conversation, and celebrate diversity pride and empowerment.
The National Council on
Independent Living (NCIL)

The NCIL advances the rights of people with disabilities, and envisions a world in which people with disabilities are valued equally and participate fully. Their website features a Toolkit on Disability Pride.

Disability Visibility Project

The Disability Visibility Project (DVP) is an online community dedicated to recording, amplifying, and sharing disability media and culture.

The DVP is also in partnership with StoryCorps, a national oral history organization. The aim is to create disability media that is intersectional, multi-modal, and accessible.

Do you have a student with a story to tell?

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Just what IS Disability Pride?

Disability Pride is the idea that people with disabilities should be proud of their disabled identity. People with disabilities are the largest and most diverse minority within the population, representing all abilities, ages, races, ethnicities, religions and socio-economic backgrounds.

Disability pride focuses on the social model of disability. The disability community views the social model as more positive than the medical model, which is often used to subdue and/or place the individual in a less-empowered role.

What does disability pride look like?

  • Students feel confident sharing information about their life experiences as a person with a disability.
  • They feel connected to other people with disabilities.
  • They show solidarity for people who have a similar label to their own.
  • A student’s expression of disability pride might extend to the larger community of people who have been labeled with some kind of a disability.
  • Students who reach this stage often feel compelled to advocate, mentor, and support other people with disabilities.

A note on intersectionality:

Remember, teens and youth with disabilities are SO MUCH MORE than their disability. Intersectionality is the idea that people have many different identities that combine and define who they are as a unique individual.

These identities (gender, sexual orientation, race, culture, religion, disability) are not mutually exclusive, and one identity is generally not dominant over the others. A student’s identity as “disabled” is just one part of who they are. They are just as likely to be proud of being disabled as they are of their other identities. Encouraging young people to not only accept their disabled identity, but incorporate it into their other identities, can be a healthy way to foster disability pride.
Professional Development Brief

The National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth's new brief, "Professional Development Needs Among WIOA Youth Service Professionals," examines the professional development that Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) youth service providers are receiving and recommends strategies and resources for expanding front-line staff development.

Youth service providers indicate that some of their top needs include training on how to recruit and retain out-of-school youth, how to develop, place, and support youth in work experiences, and how to serve youth with disabilities, including youth with the most significant disabilities.

Collaboration • Empowerment • Capacity-building

RAISE The Standard enewsletter identifies and shares resources that the Rehabilitation Services Administration Parent Training and Information Centers (RSA-PTI) can use and share with families.
Executive Editor:
Peg Kinsell
Visit our Website:
RAISE, the National Resources for Access, Independence, Self-Advocacy and Employment is a user-centered technical assistance center that understands the needs and assets of the RSA-PTIs, coordinates efforts with the Technical Assistance provided by PTI centers and involves RSA-PTIs as key advisors and partners in all product and service development and delivery.
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RAISE is funded by the US Department of Education to provide technical assistance to, and coordination of, the 7 PTI centers (RSA-PTIs). It represents collaboration between the nation's two Parent Technical Assistance Centers (PTAC) and the seven Regional PTACs.