Seasons greetings from Lens15
Wrapping up 2022 with a look back and ahead
Wishing you and your loved ones a happy holiday season and a great start to the new year!
This time of year beckons a look back at the accomplishments and hopefully not too many shortcomings of the past year. I’m a diligent list-maker and in this edition of the newsletter I want to jot down some of 2022’s most important stories for New Jersey’s disabled community as well as benchmarks for Lens15 Media.
People with a disability in NJ faced some of the greatest challenges brought on by COVID19. But, while the pandemic seems like a thing of the past to many in our state, the disease still poses significant risks for those with chronic health, mobility or intellectual impairments as well as other conditions. COVID isn’t in the rear view mirror yet and we are still experiencing the fallout from what was often a botched response by the authorities. There’s no doubt these consequences will continue to be felt in 2023.
Following numerous COVID deaths, New Jersey’s formerly largest nursing home closes
But, it wasn’t all bad news.
The Department of Transportation published what it calls the Airline Passengers with Disabilities Bill of Rights. :I wrote about this for my recent Lens Into NJ column for TAPinto.
The Right to Receive Information About Services and Aircraft Capabilities and Limitations.
The Right to Travel with an Assistive Device or Service Animal.
Long overdue federal infrastructure funding will be used to make five NJ rail stations more accessible.
NJ Transit also pledged to make accessibility improvements at another five of its rail stations as well as improve Access Link- after being sued for violating the ADA.
Legislation that could make disaster management more inclusive cleared more hurdles in the NJ State House.
This was also Lens15 Media’s nascent year in which it grew from just a bunch of ideas I had about pivoting my career to a focus on disability to a fully fledged company in NJ’s local news ecosystem. In chronological order, here are some memorable moments:
February: I complete CUNY’s Entrepreneurial Journalism Program, a 100-day crash course on starting a niche media business.
March: I file the paperwork to form Lens15 Media, LLC.
April: The NJ Civic Information Consortium
and NJ Health Initiatives awards Lens15 Media with a generous grant to help launch.
June: I start the Lens Into NJ column for TAPinto, which is picked-up by around 70 affiliates across the state. This humble newsletter also begins.
September: Lens15.com goes live. Big thanks to Stephen Revere at Intercultural Communications.
October: To coincide with the 10- year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, Lens15 produces video reports on how the superstorm impacted people with disabilities in NJ. We also launch our YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and TikTok accounts.
November: I present Lens15 during a lightning talk session at the NJ Local News Summit
December: I speak to journalism students at Montclair State University about finding the disability angle in every news story.
While Lens15 will continue to focus on news concerning people with a disability in New Jersey, we’re going to zoom-out a bit for a more global perspective. I’m leaving the Garden State at the end of January to start a seven-month research project in India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives. I was awarded a Fulbright Regional Research grant to report on how climate change affects people with disabilities in those countries and build on my previous work on these concerns in the Philippines, Bangladesh and NJ. So, future newsletters will also include some updates from my fieldwork. And Keeley Giblin, Lens15’s first intern, will become our first Social Media Coordinator.
Lens15’s social media accounts could not have been launched without the help of Montclair State University seniors Jessica Reyes and Susan O’Sullivan. The two came to me via Hawk Communications, a course taught by Professor Keith Green that gives students hands-on experience working with small, local companies.
Jessica and Susan recently gave a presentation on their work with Lens15 and highlighted the growth in our online presence. It was great working with both of them and I hope they land jobs in PR as they near graduation next spring.
A curated list of recent news stories that concern NJ’s disabled community.
Advocates demand cameras in homes for developmentally disabled adults to reduce abuse
Murphy signs bipartisan polstina-gopal-zwicker bill allowing disabled veterans to discharge student loans tax free
Easterseals New Jersey appoints three NJ business and nonprofit leaders to its board of directors
NJ’s special education ombudsman has not filed annual reports, as required by law
Kean University highlights disability justice at human rights conference
Advocates urge state to ensure schools address students with disabilities who missed services during pandemic
Developer of Pokémon GO sued by NJ man claiming lack of accessibility for the visually impaired
Somebody should care about these patients
U.S. Attorney’s Office Reaches ADA Settlement with Educational Testing Service
Old NJ Transit, PATH stations will get accessibility upgrades using federal grants
JDKD Enterprises Will Pay $100,000 to Settle EEOC Disability Discrimination Suit
U.S. Attorney’s Office Reaches Settlement with New Jersey Transit to Ensure New Jersey Transit’s Paratransit System Complies with Americans with Disabilities Act
Keeley Giblin contributed to this newsletter.