Student Journalists Shine Light on Disabilities

Washington, D.C. (May 25 updated July 12, 2017) — In the United States, one out of every five adults lives with a disability and 6.5 million students receive services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. However, equal access to education, jobs and public spaces continue to be ongoing challenges for individuals living with disabilities.

For the final project of the school year, PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs challenged its student journalists to find stories that showcase how people with disabilities overcome limits placed on them by doctors, teachers, family and society.

The result is ‘Limitless: Breaking the Bounds of Disability.’

Limitless: Breaking the Bounds of Disability from Student Reporting Labs on Vimeo.

In Clinton, Michigan, student reporters at the Frederick V. Pankow Center profiled Justice Richard Bernstein, the nation’s first blind judge elected to high court, and his work protecting people with disabilities. From Kahului, Hawaii, journalists at Maui Waena Intermediate School told the story of a student athlete with spina bifida who is achieving ambitious goals. In San Antonio, Texas, a boy’s journey to overcome his speech impediment has made him a leader and communicator who volunteers to work with other students with special needs. Students in Gastonia, North Carolina, captured the impact of organ donation in the aftermath of a tragic accident. These stories and many others honor the resilience of the human spirit and the importance of perseverance and courage to guide us through life’s obstacles.

“We are aware of what we can achieve,” said Justice Bernstein. “We simply need for people who are not disabled to understand and appreciate what we can offer and what we can do, and to simply give us a chance.”

Four student stories aired on the PBS NewsHour broadcast:

Designer born without hands chooses a life of inspiration

A student’s stutter doesn’t stop him from winning over the crowd

Kid ‘superman,’ born with rare heart defect, radiates strength

Bodybuilding builds pride and confidence for this teen with Down syndrome

Visit Student Reporting Labs on YouTube for closed captioning.

Featured Student Reporting Labs:

  • Black River Falls High School, Black River Falls, WI
  • Cedar Crest High School, Lebanon, PA
  • Cedar Ridge High School, Round Rock, TX
  • Communications Arts High School, San Antonio, TX
  • Dalton Middle School, Dalton, GA
  • Desert Pines High School, Las Vegas, NV
  • Etiwanda High School, Rancho Cucamonga, CA
  • Fraser High School, Fraser, MI
  • Frederick V. Pankow Center, Clinton, MI
  • Forestview High School, Gastonia, NC
  • Jackson Creek Middle School, Bloomington, IN
  • John F. Kennedy High School, Silver Spring, MD
  • Maui High School, Kahului, HI
  • Maui Intermediate, Kahului, HI
  • Smoky Mountain Youth Media, Knoxville, TN
  • Turtle Mountain Community High School, Belcourt, ND
  • Wauwatosa East High School, Wauwatosa, WI
  • West Ranch High School, Stevenson Ranch, CA
  • York Comprehensive High School, York, SC

Station support for this project provided by:

CET (Bloomington), Detroit Public Television, East Tennessee PBS, Georgia Public Broadcasting, KLRU (Austin), Prairie Public Broadcasting, PBS Southern California, South Carolina Educational Television, Wisconsin Public Television, WITF (Harrisburg PBS), Vegas PBS

About Student Reporting Labs

Student Reporting Labs provides middle and high schools with a unique video journalism curriculum, teacher professional development, mentorship and relationships with local public media stations to produce original stories that explore how critical national issues impact communities around the country. Visit PBS NewsHour’s Student Reporting Labs on Facebook or follow us on Twitter. Major support is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, American Graduate: Let’s Make it Happen, the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health Science Education Partnership Award.

About PBS NewsHour

PBS NewsHour is seen by over four million weekly viewers and is also available online, via public radio in select markets, and via podcast. PBS NewsHour is a production of NewsHour Productions LLC, a wholly-owned nonprofit subsidiary of WETA Washington, D.C., in association with WNET in New York. Major corporate funding is provided by BNSF, with additional support from Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, the J. Paul Getty Trust, the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Lemelson Foundation, National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, The PEW Charitable Trusts, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Ford Foundation, Skoll Foundation, The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Friends of the NewsHour and others. More information on PBS NewsHour is available at On social media, visit NewsHour on Facebook or follow @NewsHour on Twitter.

Media Contacts

Leah Clapman, Managing Editor, Student Reporting Labs:

Elis Estrada, Director, Student Reporting Labs: