Disability Advocates Blast Online Dating Site for Posing an 'Offensive' Question

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Advocates in the disability community are blasting online dating site OkCupid for posing a question in its screening process some are calling “inappropriate, offensive and discriminatory” — “Would the world be a better place if people with low IQs were not allowed to reproduce?”

Mencap, a UK charity that works with people with learning disabilities, has started a campaign calling on OkCupid to apologize and remove the question. A question like this, they say, contributes to the public’s current perception that people with learning disabilities can’t lead lives like everyone else.

Ciara Lawrence, a spokesperson and campaigner for Mencap, started the petition asking OkCupid to remove the question from its site. The petition has almost 1,000 signatures since it was posted Thursday morning.

“As someone with a learning disability who is married and thinking about maybe having children in the future, I find this question inappropriate, offensive and discriminatory. It should not matter who you are when you have children, just that you will love them and do everything you can to raise them in the right way,” Lawrence said in a press release put out by Mencap. “I know how important it is for people with a learning disability to have positive role models in their life, and be encouraged to fulfill our dreams.”

Ciara Lawrence holds up a sign saying "NOT OK Cupid."
Ciara Lawrence, creator of the OkCupid petition.

Amy Clarke, also a Mencap spokesperson living with a learning disability, said in the press release, “By asking the question, they are making it seem like it is OK to say yes, which it is not. If they had asked the same question about people of different races or sexuality, there would be outrage, and it should be the same for people with a learning disability.”

When asked to comment, an OkCupid spokesperson told The Mighty, “Our question system is designed to help potential matches understand the interests and values of other users. Questions range from mundane to provocative, and they specifically allow you to determine your potential compatibility with someone else and to avoid people whose viewpoints you strongly disagree with.” 

What do you think about OkCupid’s question? Tell us in the comments below:

h/t The Sun

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Dear Student With a Learning Disability: Your Future Is Brighter Than You Know

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When I was a kid I swore I’d never work as a teacher because I didn’t like school all that much. The social aspect I handled just fine, but I found the work to be too much at times. Especially math. I’ve struggled with math my entire life. Which is funny when you consider my dad worked as an actuary, and my siblings were both academically advanced. I like to say that by the time I came along, all the numbers and logic genes had been taken. Plus I had a learning disability that went undiagnosed for many years.

Learning anything new was a challenge for me, and I felt like I lacked something my fellow peers had – the ability to know and understand the right answer. I also struggled with keeping myself organized and was constantly losing papers I needed to turn in. I remember one time in third grade we had an assignment to work on a small hand sewing project. This was a long-term project that we’d work on every day during story time. One day I discovered I had lost the materials (they must have landed in the same vortex as my lost homework and retainer) and panicked. Thinking that I wouldn’t be noticed, I pantomimed working on this sewing project, my hands under my desk, my head down. Of course I was caught. My memory becomes a bit fuzzy as to what happened next, but I still remember being embarrassed. My grades suffered due to my lack of organization and inability to recall facts. It wasn’t for a lack of trying though. I remember studying hard but still coming up short.

As I grew older, my struggles continued. Mostly in math, but soon I added biology to the list. For biology I obtained the book the summer before class started and began reading. That’s the thing about struggling… eventually you figure out how to make things nominally better. And you follow through. Upon high school graduation, my grades were a tiny bit better. But the struggle remained.

I moved away to college, a place known for its intense academic environment. And wouldn’t you know, the darnedest thing happened. I was passing all my classes. At the end of my second year of college I had accomplished something I had never done in all my years of school… I made the honor roll (in college they call it the dean’s list, which sounds even cooler). By the time I graduated college I had two dean’s list appearances under my belt.

So how did I suddenly accomplish academic success after years of struggling? Ah, young Padawan, your answer is in your question. If it weren’t for my struggle I wouldn’t have learned coping strategies that would help me be successful in college. Being able to tape record lectures and playing them back
later – a strategy I picked up in high school – was one of my many lifelines. Acknowledging my learning disability without shame was crucial to my later success. Oh, and that thing about not wanting to teach because of school struggles? I’ve worked in tutoring and child care for the last decade. See, I have a useful tool for the classroom. Empathy for kids who are struggling. Kids who sit in classrooms every day and feel “stupid.” Just like I did all those years ago.

So, dear student, if you are struggling with a learning disability and have dreams of college, fear not. You are learning now the tools you’ll need later for college success. And that will put you ahead of the class.

I hope this encouraged you. Please share with anyone you know who is struggling in school.

Follow this journey on Be Anxious About Nothing.

The Mighty is asking the following: Write a letter to your teenaged self when you were struggling to accept your differences. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

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Actors With Disabilities Take Center Stage at the Globe Theatre

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Learning difficulties won’t stop them acting Shakespeare“Unless you’re given a fair chance then they will not know what you, the individual, can do.” Meet the actors with Down’s Syndrome and other learning difficulties challenging expectations by performing Shakespeare.

Posted by Channel 4 News on Tuesday, March 22, 2016

 

The Blue Apple Theatre group is an organization based in Winchester, England that presents high quality theater, dance and film by performers with learning disabilities.

On Monday the group performed a Shakespeare play at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at the Globe Theatre in London, and they allowed Channel 4 News cameras to tag along before they took the stage. The actors gave viewers a sneak peak at some of their performances, and they also chatted about how acting has improved their lives.

“I think people out there in the world need to see that people are capable of doing Shakespeare, even with a learning disability like we’ve got,” actor Laurie Morris said in the video.

Fellow actor Tommy Jessop also discussed his take on the disability benefit cuts that have recently made the news in the U.K., noting that it’s not helping people with disabilities find jobs.

“Unless you’re given a fair chance, then they will not know what you, the individual, can do,” actor James Bensfield added.

Watch the video above for behind-the-scenes footage.


Have you seen the first film with a national release to star a person with Down syndrome? Check out the film “Where Hope Grows” today!

Available for purchase on Amazon and iTunes.

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Animation Offers a Glimpse Into the Life of a Child With Learning Difficulties

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This animated video offers a glimpse into what a day in the life of a child with learning difficulties can be like.

Erik Rosenlund, 40, is an animator and director based in Stockholm. His latest video, called “Bokstavsbarn” in Swedish and “Falling Letters” in English, focuses on a young child who has difficulties paying attention in school and socializing with his peers.

Rosenlund says the film isn’t really about a specific diagnosis but does admit the opening scene is a reference to dyslexia and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The tittle, “Bokstavsbarn” is an affectionate Swedish term that means “letter children (or child)” and refers to any kind of diagnosis, according to Rosenlund. His inspiration for the project came from his recently becoming a father, as well as his own experience as a child.

“The little boy drawing in class is pretty close to myself as a child,” Rosenlund told The Mighty via Facebook message. “I always had a very vivid imagination and was never very good at paying attention in class.”

ADHD affects 11 percent of school-age children and symptoms continue into adulthood in more than three-quarters of cases, according to Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD), a nonprofit aimed at improving the lives of people affected by ADHD.
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Dear Teachers, Here's What Kids Who Learn Differently Want You to Know

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Kids who learn differently and think differently have something to say to their teachers in a video created by Brain Highways, an educational program based on neuroplasticity — the concept that the brain has the ability to reorganize itself and change.

I know it doesn’t always seem like it,” says a young boy in the video below, “but I really do want to listen and learn.”

A young girl continues, “It’s just my brain is kind of different.”

Brain Highways offers programs for people with a whole range of disabilities and learning differences, including ADHD, autism, obsessive compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, depression and dyslexia. Programs are for families, teachers and even adults interested in learning how the brain can change.

In this adorable video, Brain Highway kids tell their teachers what they want them to know and how they can use that knowledge to help them learn.

Listen and learn in the video below: 

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These Mentors With Learning Differences Have Messages for Kids Like Them

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If you’ve ever been discouraged because of a learning disability, these counselors have a message for you.

Camp Eye to Eye, run by the national organization Eye to Eye, is a week-long day camp for students with learning disabilities and/or ADHD entering 4th to 8th grade. The counselors are college and high school-aged mentors with similar learning challenges. Activities at the camp include creating motivational art projects, zip-lining, swimming and even creating their own Eye to Eye My Advocacy Plan, a tool they can use in their upcoming IEP or 504 Plan meeting. The program also holds daily hour-long seminars for parents.

We’re creating mentor memories for a lifetime,” Fred Miggins, Eye to Eye’s director of marketing and communications, told The Mighty. “Seeing there are people in your shoes who have gone to college and have accomplished so much is so important.”

According to Miggins, Eye to Eye focuses on the social-emotional piece of living with a learning disability/ADHD — encouraging self-esteem, self-advocacy and hope. Eye to Eye has 50 mentoring chapters in 20 states, as well as diplomats who speak throughout the country.

Because we know having a learning difference/ADHD doesn’t mean you can’t succeed, The Mighty asked Camp Eye to Eye counselors what messages they want to send those with learning disabilities. Here’s what they had to say:

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“You are not alone.”

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“I dream big.”

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“You can excel!”

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“You are awesome!”

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“Never give up!”

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“Thinking different rules.”

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“LD/ADHD – proud to be!”

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“Be YOUrself!”

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“Own your label!”

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“Think outside the box!”

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“Thinking different is cool!”

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“The struggle makes you stronger.”

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“Your L.D. [learning difference] does not define you!”

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Fred Miggins from Eye to Eye

For more information about Eye-to-Eye and their programs, click here or find them on Facebook.

Editor’s note: Fred Miggins’ position was previously stated incorrectly.

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