Monday, January 23, 2017

Army nurse set on fire by colleague wants to resume career

In September 2016, First Lieutenant Katie Ann Blanchard, a nurse in the Army serving at Ft. Leavenworth in Kansas, was set on fire and attacked by a colleague. Almost 20 percent of her body was severely burned, including her entire face and ears, and parts of her arm and chest. 

The army sent her to San Antonio to be treated at SAMMC's burn victim unit where she's had countless surgeries and been heavily medicated. She's also been meeting with behavioral health physicians who have been helping her with the PTSD she has experienced since the attack

Blanchard hopes to continue her career in nursing after she recovers more and has been inspired by the nurses she’s met at SAMMC to work with burn victims one day. 

Katie Ann, we salute you!

 Please let us know how we can help you in your recovery and return

 to nursing practice.

We wish you all the best,

Donna Maheady
President of

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Martin Luther King Day: How social justice led to disability justice for nurses with disabilities

The work of Dr. Martin Luther King has lived on and impacted so many-- including nurses with disabilities. The civil rights movement led the way to passage of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act in 1977 and the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990.

Alice Wong penned the following message in a blog post originally published on January 16, 2014 for BK Nation“Disability Justice and Social Justice: Entwined Histories and Futures”. Alice Wong is the Project Coordinator of the Disability Visibility Project:

“Just as Dr. King and the many activists involved in the civil rights movement were influenced by Gandhi and Thoreau’s use of civil obedience, leaders of the disability- rights movement witnessed first-hand the power of non-violence in the 1950s and 1960s.

Similarities exist among the Montgomery bus boycott, the Birmingham campaign in 1963, and actions taken by disabled activists in the 1970s. Section 504 of The Rehabilitation Act prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities from participating in any program or activity receiving federal funds based on incapacity.

Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare Joseph Califano refused to sign regulations related to Section 504. On April 5, 1977, non-violent protests and demonstrations began nationwide. A group of disabled activists began a sit-in at the San Francisco offices of HEW, the longest such demonstration ever undertaken. Kitty Cone, one of the demonstrators at the 504 sit-in, recalls:

“At every moment, we felt ourselves the descendants of the civil rights movement of the ’60s. We learned about sit-ins from the civil rights movement, we sang freedom songs to keep up morale, and consciously show the connection between the two movements. We always drew the parallels. About public transportation we said we can’t even get on the back of the bus.”

On April 28, 1977, Califano signed the regulations and the historic protest ended. Section 504 codified civil rights for people with disabilities and the notion that people with disabilities are a distinct minority group and protected those individuals from discrimination.”

The disability rights movement continued to seek justice in the courts and in the halls of Congress. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law on July 26, 1990.

The spirit and letter of the law continues to be challenged as more and more people with disabilities push the door open in a variety of professions. The nursing profession is one example. Nurses with vision and hearing loss, mental and chronic illness, spinal cord injuries and other disabling conditions continue to face discrimination and struggle to obtain access to educational programs and employment opportunities. Much has been accomplished...but much remains to be done.

Today, we remember and give thanks for the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” 
(Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.)

Saturday, January 14, 2017

For nursing students with learning disabilities: Is speed associated with ability?

Jamie Axelrod, AHEAD President and Nicole Ofiesh, Ph.D., Learning and Education Specialist, Lecturer, Stanford University wrote a letter to the Chronicle of Higher Education in response to an article by Ari Trachtenberg titled Extra Time on an Exam: Suitable Accommodation or Legalized Cheating? (

The letter to the Editor included the following:

....The first incorrect assertion is that there is no research evidence connecting accommodation to disability. In fact, there is a substantial base of research dating back to the 1980’s.... There continue to be researchers contributing to this area today including Educational Testing Services, College Board, National Center for Educational Outcomes.... What we know is that the largest population of students with disabilities in post-secondary settings are students with cognitive impairments such as Specific Learning Disabilities, Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity disorder and various Mental Health conditions. What all of these conditions have in common, other than being covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act, is that they are associated with functional limitations which require more time be provided to best ensure the student has an opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned in an academic setting.... 

What is often misunderstood is that the various disabilities whose impacts require more time are not all the same nor is more time provided for the same reason. For example, a student with a reading disorder such as dyslexia may need more time to actually read sentences and process the questions and answers being presented on the exam. A student with AD/HD (of which there are three subtypes) may need more time to focus and attend to the task at hand, read and reread information to ensure that they comprehend the questions being asked, and attend to the visual details in sentences and problem sets..... These individuals may need more time to hold and manipulate a test item or question in their mind and retrieve the appropriate answer, a facet of cognition known as working memory..... 

The second issue raised in the article seems to be an assumption that all exams need to include speed as a test construct. This appears to arise from a belief that speed is associated with ability. However, similar to other research in the field, Horn and Blankenship (2012) report that in homogeneous samples of young adults “…measures in which there is much emphasis on speediness correlate near zero, perhaps negatively, with tests that require solving difficult problems.”(p.91)..... While it is true that assessments designed to measure proficiency on some types of tasks, such as responding with particular actions in a medical emergency, may require time as an element, most academic exams do not fall in this category..... 

Prof. Trachtenberg’s assumptions that students without disabilities might be disadvantaged by the provision of time accommodations given to students with disabilities is also contradicted... Published research..... in this area reveal that, in general, students without disabilities tend to see no statistically significant benefit if they are provided more time than what is typically allotted to complete scientifically validated, standardized exams... 

Prof. Trachtenberg’s call for specific accommodations for specific disabilities.... assumes that human cognition can be quantified in the same terms as an engineering or mathematical solution. Moreover, his suggestion places the responsibility, and to some degree blame, squarely on the person with the disability......

The final, and the most unfortunate, assertion is that “time extensions re-victimize some of (his) students”. ... Victims of what? The A.D.A. recognizes... that disability is a natural and normal part of the human experience and not an affliction which victimizes otherwise “normal” individuals....

 Students with disabilities are well aware that what accommodations provide is a level playing field upon which they can demonstrate that they have achieved the level of mastery in their academic coursework which rises to the standards of the institutions they attend. In the end, this does not diminish their achievements but in fact highlights their abilities, which is all that that they are asking for and justly deserve.

The complete letter to the editor can be read at:

Please feel free to share your thoughts about speed and testing accommodations for students with learning disabilities in nursing education and clinical practice settings. 

With thanks!