February reading list

Monthly Reading List – February Reading List

What’s your February Reading List? Here’s ours.

Every first week of the month, Disabled Spectator publishes a reading list of our favorite disability and accessibility related articles. We look for insightful, interesting, controversial, heartbreaking, well-written, or enjoyable articles that provoke thought, conversation, and emotion. This post looks at articles we read in February. Accordingly, here is our February Reading List.

Paying disabled workers less than minimum wage is legal in the US. Alaska has now banned it, by Alexia Fernández Campbell, Vox

Alaska has banned companies from paying disabled workers less than minimum wage. Paying disabled workers less than minimum wage is legal on a federal level, but Alaska has joined New Hampshire and Maryland in banning it on a state level. This is on par with a movement to create more inclusive workplaces, rather than the segregated workplace that existed for people with disabilities. It’s a work in progress and this is the kind of progress we’d like to continue seeing.


New Hampshire was the first state to do so in 2015, followed by Maryland in 2016. Paying sub-minimum wages to Americans with disabilities has been legal under federal law since 1938.

Because lawmakers assumed Americans with disabilities would probably never work, Congress allowed businesses to pay them less than the minimum wage under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938.

People with disabilities just want a chance to be independent, taxpaying, productive members of society, says Dinerstein. “If we don’t do this, we are leaving them behind.”

What Would A Truly Disabled-Accessible City Look Like?, by Saba Salman, the Guardian

This article looks at accessibility initiatives taking place around the world and what still needs to be done to create the ideal accessible city. They discuss accessibility and disability rights laws like ADA, Britains Equality Act, and Australia’s Disability Discrimination Act as examples of past initiatives. However, they then look at individual cities to show how they are leading the way. Seattle is the home of AccessMap – an app that allows users to enter a destination to the most accessible route. Singapore has introduced the Universal Design principal which encourages new buildings to be built with accessibility in mind. They also discuss other initiatives in Denmark, Arizona, England, and Melbourne, Australia.


Meere is just one of the hundreds of millions of people with disabilities who live in cities around the world. By 2050, they will number an estimated 940 million people, or 15% of what will be roughly 6.25 billion total urban dwellers, lending an urgency to the UN’s declaration that poor accessibility “presents a major challenge”.

For the physically disabled, barriers can range from blocked wheelchair ramps, to buildings without lifts, to inaccessible toilets, to shops without step-free access. Meanwhile, for learning disabled people or those on the autistic spectrum, the cluttered and hectic metropolitan environment can be a sensory minefield.

Although the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, Britain’s Equality Act and Australia’s Disability Discrimination Act aim to boost rights and access, the reality on the ground can be very different, as Guardian Cities readers recently reported.

People with disabilities are rapidly joining the workforce. That’s a hopeful trend, by Jack Markell , USA Today

This article discusses the encouraging trend of people with disabilities being introduced into the workforce. It discusses how companies like Pepsi, Ernst & Young, IBGM, UPS, Starbucks, Walgreens, and SAP are examples of how people with disabilities are important contributors to the workforce. They also exemplify how people with disabilities improve the bottom line. Jack Markell uses new TV shows like “The Good Doctor”, “Born This Way”, and “Speechless” to show what is a hopeful trend in understanding and supporting inclusion for people with disabilities.


Some of the most talented people in history had disabilities. Beethoven was deaf and Harriet Tubman lived with epilepsy. Selena Gomez has lupus, Steven Hawking uses a mobility device, and Stevie Wonder is blind. Richard Branson, Whoopi Goldberg, Daymond John, Charles Schwab and Harry Belafonte have dyslexia. Yet our nation has long failed people with disabilities and left them among the poorest of the poor.

Technology is critical to workplace success and inclusion. Apple, Microsoft, Google and others are making communication devices more accessible. For example, devices like iPads and tools like Microsoft’s Disability Answer Desk help promote accessibility. Google is investing heavily in emerging technologies to empower people living with disabilities.

Giving people with disabilities a shot at employment is one surefire solution to building economic opportunity, improving the outlooks of businesses looking for qualified employees, and reducing dependence on taxpayer-funded benefits.

More Brands Are Making Clothing For People With Disabilities, by Kristin Schwab, Marketplace

Kristin Schwab discusses how clothing companies are starting to introduce accessible clothing lines to their selection. Many clothing lines do not consider people with disabilities when designing new products. Clothing has functional and fashionable purposes and people with disabilities are entitled to both. Recently, Target, Zappos, and Tommy Hilfiger have introduced accessible clothing lines to address that need.


Mary Janes aren’t exactly Horn’s shoe of choice. She’s a disability rights advocate and has cerebral palsy, which affects her muscle coordination. She uses poles to walk and said she’s hard on shoes. Sneakers hold up, but sometimes she wants to wear something nicer. The only shoes she deems fashionable and durable are these discontinued Mary Janes that she hunts for on eBay.

Target found that while functionality is important, so is looking fashionable. That’s why the company hasn’t made adaptive lines, but adaptive versions of best-sellers.

Horn is excited to see people with disabilities in fashion ads. She hopes companies will go beyond basics like jeans and T-shirts.

Children’s Books Honored For Disability Themes, by Shaun Heasley, Disability Scoop

The American Library Association is awarding books that focus on the lives of people with disabilities. The three books awarded are “Silent Days, Silent Dreams”, “Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess”, and “You’re Welcome, Universe”. All three focus on a person with a disability, shining light on what it really looks like to have a disability and providing children the opportunity to understand disability to a degree at a young age. The winners receive $5,000 and a framed plaque at the library’s annual conference in New Orleans.


The American Library Association said this week it will give its Schneider Family Book Awards to new works focused on people with autism and hearing impairment.

“The committee was emotionally struck by the perseverance and indomitable spirit of James Castle’s journey to communicate in spite of his circumstances,” said Joanna Tamplin, chair of the award jury.

Meanwhile, the Schneider winner for middle grades is Shari Green’s “Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess,” which tells the story of an intergenerational friendship between a sixth grader and her neighbor as they learn to communicate through sign language and cookies.

Thanks for reading our February Reading List. Keep an eye out for our list next month. You can read last month’s reading list here.

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