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Language Used when Covering People with Disabilities

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News outlets frequently portray people with disabilities as either helpless victims or objects of motivation. Portrayal of people with disabilities has improved over the years, but there is still room to grow. News outlets tend to make disability the center

News outlets frequently portray people with disabilities as either helpless victims or objects of motivation. Portrayal of people with disabilities has improved over the years, but there is still room to grow. News outlets tend to make disability the center of the story. A story about a disabled person is primarily about their disability, with their other accomplishments framed by it.

As one example of the victimhood narrative, ABC News used to run a special called My Extreme Affliction as part of 20/20 until 2012. As the name implies, the specials covered people with disabilities, specifically extreme versions. One 2008 episode on Tourette’s syndrome described Tourette’s like it was some sort of demonic possession. The narrator talked about children who were “prisoners in their own bodies” and a family that was at risk of being “torn apart by Tourette’s.” I have Tourette’s syndrome myself, which made ABC’s special especially uncomfortable to watch. When not wringing their metaphorical hands over the “victims” of disability, many news outlets fall into the “supercrip” narrative. They refer to people as “heroes” who “overcome” their disabilities to achieve something that ranges from impressive to utterly mundane. The main emphasis is on the disability rather than the person who has it. These articles then exploit that disability to make readers feel good. As a person with a disability, I am aware that it impacts my life, but it is not the center of my life. The tics from my Tourette’s syndrome made it difficult to speak to people when I was younger, but even then they did not rule me.

Disability coverage, however, is still incredibly important for promoting acceptance and giving people with disabilities a voice. A little over a fifth of adults in the United States have a disability (CDC: 53 million adults in the US live with a disability), so poor coverage means marginalizing or even excluding a large amount of people. Journalists should try to reach their entire audience. The news helps shape public opinion with the stories it features. Therefore, it should provide visibility for people with disabilities in order to increase acceptance. This is a matter of civil rights. People with disabilities deserve fair and accurate representation.

My personal experience with ABC’s Tourette’s special leads me to believe that the media, especially the news, needs to be more responsible in their reporting. Even the name “My Extreme Affliction” paints a poor picture of what to expect. A show that focuses on sensationalist portrayals in pursuit of views further ostracizes people with disabilities. The emphasis should be on a person and not their condition. The National Center for Disability Journalism tells reporters to “Focus on the person you are interviewing, not the disability” (Tips for interviewing people with disabilities). This people-first approach is the way to improve disability coverage: Treat people with disabilities with the same respect as any other minority group.

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Date Created
2019-05

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Computational Study of Conformation Dynamics and Allostery in WW Protein Domains

Description

Proteins continually and naturally incur evolutionary selection through mutagenesis that optimizes their fitness, which is primarily determined by their function. It is known that allosteric regulation alters a protein's conformational dynamics leading to functional changes. We have computationally introduced a

Proteins continually and naturally incur evolutionary selection through mutagenesis that optimizes their fitness, which is primarily determined by their function. It is known that allosteric regulation alters a protein's conformational dynamics leading to functional changes. We have computationally introduced a mutation at a predicted regulatory site of a short, 46 residue-long, protein interaction module composed of a WW domain and corresponding polyproline ligand (PDB id: 1k9r). The dynamic flexibility index (DFI) was computed for the binding site of the wild type and mutant WW domains to quantify the mutations effect on the rigidity of the binding pocket. DFI is used as a metric to quantify the resilience of a given position to perturbation along the chain. Using steered molecular dynamics (SMD), we also measure the effect of the point mutation on allosteric regulation by approximating the binding free energy of the system calculated using Jarzynski's Equality. Calculation of the DFI shows that the overall flexibility of the protein complex increases as a result of the distal point mutation. Total change in DFI percentile of the binding site showed a 0.067 increase suggesting an allosteric, loss of function mutation. Furthermore, we see that the change in the binding free energy is greater for that of the mutated complex supporting the idea that an increase in flexibility is correlated to a decrease in proteinlig and binding affinity. We show that sequence mutation of an allosteric site affects the mechanical stability and functionality of the binding pocket.

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Date Created
2018-05

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Analyzing Optometric Related Care in Insurance Policies

Description

Optometry is an important field in medicine as it allows people a chance to have their vision corrected and it serves as a health screening opportunity for those who receive a dilated eye examination. One of the largest barriers to

Optometry is an important field in medicine as it allows people a chance to have their vision corrected and it serves as a health screening opportunity for those who receive a dilated eye examination. One of the largest barriers to receiving a dilated eye exam is insurance coverage. Most health insurance policies have limited optometric coverage. By expanding health insurance plans to be more inclusive of optometric care, people who use these health insurance plans will have a better access of care.

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Date Created
2021-05

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Purification of the P66 Outer Membrane Protein of the Bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi

Description

Lyme disease is a common tick-borne illness caused by the Gram-negative bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. An outer membrane protein of Borrelia burgdorferi, P66, has been suggested as a possible target for Lyme disease treatments. However, a lack of structural information available

Lyme disease is a common tick-borne illness caused by the Gram-negative bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. An outer membrane protein of Borrelia burgdorferi, P66, has been suggested as a possible target for Lyme disease treatments. However, a lack of structural information available for P66 has hindered attempts to design medications to target the protein. Therefore, this study attempted to find methods for expressing and purifying P66 in quantities that can be used for structural studies. It was found that by using the PelB signal sequence, His-tagged P66 could be directed to the outer membrane of Escherichia coli, as confirmed by an anti-His Western blot. Further attempts to optimize P66 expression in the outer membrane were made, pending verification via Western blotting. The ability to direct P66 to the outer membrane using the PelB signal sequence is a promising first step in determining the overall structure of P66, but further work is needed before P66 is ready for large-scale purification for structural studies.

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Date Created
2021-05