West Babylon native Emily Ladau, 32, is the new editor of...

West Babylon native Emily Ladau, 32, is the new editor of Able Newspaper. Born with a rare genetic physical disability, Ladau said her position at the helm of a publication focused on the disability community "is as much a professional passion as it is a personal one." Credit: Morgan Campbell

The Viscardi Center has launched its first edition of Able Newspaper, just months after purchasing the publication focused on news that impacts people with disabilities.

Officials from the Albertson-based nonprofit network bought the monthly publication in October, saying they aimed to align it with the organization’s mission to educate, employ and empower people with disabilities.

West Babylon native Emily Ladau, 32, is the new editor. She was born with Larsen syndrome, a rare genetic physical disability that affects the development of bones throughout the body.

“This work is as much a professional passion as it is a personal one,” Ladau said in an interview. “It’s not just something that I take off and put on a shelf at night. It’s very much a part of my identity.”

Ladau, whose opinions and writing have been featured in media including The New York Times and CNN, said she wants to “dismantle the biases” some people might have about those with disabilities.

There are more than 530,000 people on Long Island with disabilities, according to agencies in Nassau and Suffolk counties that assist them.

Able Newspaper's new first edition debuted Feb. 1 online and in print, with distribution of hard copies at locations such as area libraries on Long Island and in parts of New York City.

Ladau said she wants to bring fresh, original reporting to local and national issues that affect the disability community. 

“What has always been most important to me is ensuring I am making space for a wide range of voices and perspectives,” the editor added.

Former publisher Angela Miele Melledy founded the publication in 1991 and said in October it was time for her to retire after 33 years in the business. She and Viscardi officials didn't disclose the purchase price for the publication, then based in Bethpage.

It previously covered topics such as housing, public policy and sports, through a disability perspective.

Viscardi officials said the print circulation was 6,900 when they bought the publication, and a spokeswoman said they are looking to grow by expanding coverage in areas that include health and wellness, technology and accessible travel. 

The first edition has 10 contributors, including 26-year-old Christopher Alvarez, of Elmhurst, Queens, who collaborated with Ladau to recap Gov. Kathy Hochul’s State of the State address earlier this month.

Alvarez is a graduate of the Henry Viscardi School, a school at the Viscardi Center for children with severe physical disabilities. He was diagnosed at an early age with type 2 thanatophoric dysplasia — a severe skeletal disorder in which a person has a narrow chest, small rib cage, small limbs and underdeveloped lungs.

Alvarez said Able Newspaper gives him an outlet to explore a passion he developed in the fifth grade.

“I wanted to give a voice to those who are underrepresented in our communities, in society and in the media,” he said about his interest in journalism as a member of the disabled community. 

Kim Brussell, the Viscardi Center’s vice president of public affairs and marketing, noted that when the organization took on Able, they saw it as a strategic move to create opportunities for people with disabilities.

“We’re going to be looking at involving additional individuals, whether tied to Viscardi or just within the disability community, to write for the paper, but also use it as an education opportunity,” Brussell said.

The Viscardi Center has launched its first edition of Able Newspaper, just months after purchasing the publication focused on news that impacts people with disabilities.

Officials from the Albertson-based nonprofit network bought the monthly publication in October, saying they aimed to align it with the organization’s mission to educate, employ and empower people with disabilities.

West Babylon native Emily Ladau, 32, is the new editor. She was born with Larsen syndrome, a rare genetic physical disability that affects the development of bones throughout the body.

“This work is as much a professional passion as it is a personal one,” Ladau said in an interview. “It’s not just something that I take off and put on a shelf at night. It’s very much a part of my identity.”

Ladau, whose opinions and writing have been featured in media including The New York Times and CNN, said she wants to “dismantle the biases” some people might have about those with disabilities.

There are more than 530,000 people on Long Island with disabilities, according to agencies in Nassau and Suffolk counties that assist them.

Able Newspaper's new first edition debuted Feb. 1 online and in print, with distribution of hard copies at locations such as area libraries on Long Island and in parts of New York City.

Ladau said she wants to bring fresh, original reporting to local and national issues that affect the disability community. 

“What has always been most important to me is ensuring I am making space for a wide range of voices and perspectives,” the editor added.

Former publisher Angela Miele Melledy founded the publication in 1991 and said in October it was time for her to retire after 33 years in the business. She and Viscardi officials didn't disclose the purchase price for the publication, then based in Bethpage.

It previously covered topics such as housing, public policy and sports, through a disability perspective.

Viscardi officials said the print circulation was 6,900 when they bought the publication, and a spokeswoman said they are looking to grow by expanding coverage in areas that include health and wellness, technology and accessible travel. 

The first edition has 10 contributors, including 26-year-old Christopher Alvarez, of Elmhurst, Queens, who collaborated with Ladau to recap Gov. Kathy Hochul’s State of the State address earlier this month.

Alvarez is a graduate of the Henry Viscardi School, a school at the Viscardi Center for children with severe physical disabilities. He was diagnosed at an early age with type 2 thanatophoric dysplasia — a severe skeletal disorder in which a person has a narrow chest, small rib cage, small limbs and underdeveloped lungs.

Alvarez said Able Newspaper gives him an outlet to explore a passion he developed in the fifth grade.

“I wanted to give a voice to those who are underrepresented in our communities, in society and in the media,” he said about his interest in journalism as a member of the disabled community. 

Kim Brussell, the Viscardi Center’s vice president of public affairs and marketing, noted that when the organization took on Able, they saw it as a strategic move to create opportunities for people with disabilities.

“We’re going to be looking at involving additional individuals, whether tied to Viscardi or just within the disability community, to write for the paper, but also use it as an education opportunity,” Brussell said.

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