Life in prison is no picnic. But imagine being blind or deaf or in a wheelchair behind bars.

A new report out Wednesday says state prison systems should be doing more to accommodate disabled inmates.

Standing at the foot of Mount Wachusett's slopes, Ray Jackman bends over and hoists Robbie McAllister out of his wheelchair and onto two neon yellow skis.

The teenager squeezes into a thick plastic seat mounted just above the skis.

"OK, there are a bunch of straps," says Jackman as he buckles the crisscrossing seatbelts.

Jackman is a program coordinator at the Massachusetts Hospital School, a state-run facility. It's half school, half pediatric hospital, and all 85 students are patients, with serious, long-term conditions.

Last Friday, I noticed this posting on Facebook by Lawrence Carter-Long:

"If you 'see the person not the disability' you're only getting half the picture. Broaden your perspective. You might be surprised by everything you've missed. DISABLED. ‪#‎SayTheWord"

These Are My Mom's Beautiful, Painful Hands

Feb 3, 2016
KUOW Photo / Shina Williams

I told my mom one day that I thought she was a very headstrong woman.

“What do you mean ‘strong?’” she asked me.

Mark Adreon took KUOW on a walk through Capitol Hill to demonstrate how hard it is being blind and navigating the endless construction sites in the city. When he arrived at this spot, the placards through him off course.
KUOW Photo/Isolde Raftery

Mark Adreon’s guide dog is a yellow Lab named Trek.

"As in Star Trek,” Adreon said. “Trek and I have been working together since Sept. 1st."

KUOW reporter Ruby de Luna interviews David Whedbee about the challenges of navigating a wheelchair around bad curb cuts in Seattle.
Courtesy of Disability Rights Washington

Crossing Seattle streets can be hazardous for people with disabilities. That’s because curb cuts are either missing, broken or poorly placed.

Disability Rights Washington, an advocacy group for people with disabilities, wants to change that and has filed a class action suit against Seattle.

An unprecedented, class action lawsuit brought against one Southern California school district and its top officials could have a big impact on schools across the country.

On Thursday in Los Angeles, a U.S. District Court judge will preside over the first hearing in the suit against the Compton Unified School District. To understand the complaint, you need to understand Compton.

It's a warning sign at art museums around the world: "Don't touch the artwork."

But Spain's famous Prado Museum is changing that, with an exhibit where visitors are not only allowed to touch the paintings — they're encouraged to do so.

The Prado has made 3-D copies of some of the most renowned works in its collection — including those by Francisco Goya, Diego Velazquez and El Greco — to allow blind people to feel them.

It's a special exhibit for those who normally can't enjoy paintings.

As Northwest states debate whether to raise the minimum wage as high as $15 per hour, some adults with developmental disabilities continue to be paid as little as 25 cents per hour.

The Autism Advantage For Microsoft

Apr 17, 2015
Micrsoft technology
Flickr Photo/Fabien Lavocat (CC BY-NC-ND)/https://flic.kr/p/6FfQtk

Marcie Sillman talks with Dr. Annette Estes, the director of University of Washington's autism center, about employing people with autism.

Donnie Wilburn, who is blind, and her husband Bob Wilburn observe a depiction of the Battle of Little Bighorn at the Seattle Art Museum with the help of a vivid description from museum docent laureate Suzanne Ragen.
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

Read this description, then imagine the art:

It’s a large ceramic jar, created in the 12th century by the Anasazi people who lived in the Southwest and the Colorado plateau.

The decoration on the jar is black and white, and there are stripes, likely to represent rain. Jagged embellishments could mean lightening.

“Then strange little hands, some with five fingers some with six fingers,” says docent Suzanne Ragen, who leads tours for the visually impaired at Seattle Art Museum. She has led tours at SAM for 50 years. 

For someone who is blind, a simple click can be the sound of sight.

Poet Heather McHugh.
Courtesy of the University of Washington

Ross Reynolds speaks with Seattle poet Heather McHugh, who is the author of eight volumes of poetry and numerous works of translation. She won a  MacArthur Fellowship, the so-called genius award, in 2009. Since her retirement as a professor of creative writing at the University of Washington this year, she has been working full time on a non-profit organization called Caregifted, which provides relief for family caregivers of  severely disabled people.

KUOW Photo/Ruby de Luna

At the Alaska Airlines ticket counter at Sea-Tac Airport, parents Ron and Christine Vega wait for their boarding passes.

Their son, Gibson, 5, carries a blue backpack that has essentials for a mock airplane trip: snacks, things to keep him preoccupied and a white cloth towel that helps him deal with stress.

The practice of secluding or restraining children when they get agitated has long been a controversial practice in public schools. Now, new data show that it's more common than previously understood, happening at least 267,000 times in a recent school year.

NPR worked with reporters from the investigative journalism group ProPublica, who compiled data from the U.S. Department of Education to come up with one of the clearest looks at the practice of seclusion and restraint.