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Invisible No More: Understanding Invisible Disabilities

On-air date: 
Mon, 10/26/2015
Listen to or download this episode here: 

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Would it be surprising for you to know that almost one in 10 Americans are considered to be severely disabled?  Some 75 percent of these people who live with a disability don’t use a wheelchair, crutches, canes, or assistive equipment.

Just because someone has a disability doesn’t necessarily mean they are disabled. Many people living with these challenges are active in their work and with their families. They play sports and have hobbies. Some people with disabilities struggle to get through their day and often don’t have additional energy for other things. Many struggle to find gainful employment because of their disability, and they have trouble with their daily living activities and need assistance with their care.

 So what is an invisible disability?  Why can’t we see it?  Or, at the very least, why aren’t we talking about these disabilities so we can have a better understanding of what they are?

 Join Siobhan Kierans and guests Bridget Siljander, director of the Youth Legacy Foundation, and Deb Holz, of Advocating Change Together, for this edition of Truth To Tell.

TTT This Week: JAN24-9AM: SPECIAL EDUCATION: It's Mandated, but the Money is Missing - KFAI FM 90.3/106.7/KFAI.org; First Person Radio: Jan 19: TRAVIS ZIMMERMAN & NICOLE LONETREE - AUDIO BELOW

Special Education is, for many people, that mysterious part of our public school system where the kids are “different” from the rest of the student body.

graphic: Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda, NY, Special Ed

The federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is designed to protect and provide “free, appropriate public education” in the least-restrictive environment that meets their needs to some 6.6 million students—about 13 percent of total US student enrollment. These are young people with dyslexia, autism, intellectual disabilities, blindness, or other impairments that affect educational performance. If states and school system refuse to provide such education and supply such services, parents can sue in federal court.

Of course, schools must have the additional resources to provide for these students, and, according to most advocates, this is yet another inadequately funded mandate, thanks to the same legislators who passed it.

Furthermore, just who can be defined as a student with one or more disabilities is something about which not all officials, parents and advocates agree. And many youngsters may be treated as emotionally disturbed and pushed into special ed when other issues may be playing out in their lives.

TTT’s ANDY DRISCOLL and LYNNELL MICKELSEN talk with an active parent advocate, a provider in several schools and a state legislator who specializes in this area, among others to get at some of the increasingly complex issues facing special education and the students who need this special attention.


REP. KIM NORTON (DFL-29B), Rochester; Minnesota House Assistant Minority Leader; Member, Education Reform Committee; Education nonprofit executive director in Rochester

MAREN LINDNER – Parent and Chair of the Minneapolis Special Education Advisory Committee

DANYA TROXEL – Vocational Supervisor, Northeast Intermediate School District #916


First Person Radio hosts Laura Waterman Wittstock and Richard LaFortune with Andy Driscoll talk with Travis Zimmermanand Nicole Lonetree about American Indian museums. The world of museums has finally seemed to focus more on the American Indian point of view - not just from the perspective of showing more objects, but that of teaching the public what they have lacked for so long - the story of the American Indian, as told by the authentic voices of Indians themselves.

Travis Zimmerman is the Site Manager of the Mille Lacs Indian Museum and Trading Post and also serves as the Indian Affairs Liaison for the Minnesota Historical Society.  Travis' work includes coordinating the Society's Indian Advisory Committee, as well as serving as liaison to Indian communities on Minnesota's reservations and in the urban areas.  Travis has a degree in history from St. John's University in Minnesota and is a descendant of the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. (photo not available)

Nicole Lonetree is the American Indian Curriculum Specialist for the Minnesota Historical Society. She is responsible for developing, designing and implementing teacher professional development programs and instructional materials related to the history of American Indians in Minnesota. These curricular resources are designed to address state social studies standards for American Indian history in Minnesota, with an emphasis on the Dakota and Ojibwe.

Prior to working for the Minnesota Historical Society, Nicole was the elementary cultural teacher for the Saint Paul Indian Education Program. Nicole's tribal affiliations are the Ho-Chunk Nation and the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa.