Your quick, once-a-day look at disability rights, self-determination
and the movement toward full community inclusion around the world.

Monday, February 3, 2003
Year IV, Edition 029

This edition includes 7 news items, each preceded by a number (#) symbol.

"My sister's my best buddy."

--Sharon Trop, who lived in a New York institution and advocated successfully to get her sister, Cindy, released from the same facility (First story)

"Being in an inclusive setting, he's around neighborhood kids much more, and it gives him an opportunity for friendships to develop."
--Catriona Johnson, about her son, Asher Johnson-Dorman, who is a fourth-grader with autism that spends nearly all of his school time included in the general classroom (Fourth story)



Persistence Led To Sister's Release From Institution

February 3, 2003

ALBANY, NEW YORK--When Sharon Trop got out of Rome Developmental Center, an institution housing hundreds of people with developmental disabilities, in the 1970s she told incredible stories of how she was mistreated by the staff.

She also talked of getting her sister out of the facility and away from its horrors. She kept repeating that she wanted to get Cindy out of "the bad place".

For a long time nobody believed that she had a sister, let alone one in the same institution.

But Sharon didn't give up.

Finally, a friend convinced state officials to investigate the facility's records.

Sure enough, her little sister Cindy had been housed for years in the same institution, but in a unit separate from where Sharon had been.

Sharon and her supporters helped get Cindy out of the facility and into a home in the community.

Now the sisters spend a lot of time together and phone each other often.

Sharon has wedding plans for this coming summer.

The only detail she and her fiancée know for sure is that Cindy will be in the wedding party.

Full article:
"Sisterhood proves stronger than walls of state institution" (Albany Times Union)



"Least Productive" Sheltered Workers To Be Rejected

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
February 3, 2003

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND--New Zealand's Disability Issues Ministry wants to throw out a "sub-minimum wage" law that is commonly used by sheltered workshops, because it treats people with disabilities unfairly.

The Disabled Persons' Employment Promotion Act of 1960 allows sheltered workshops to pay people with disabilities -- who are considered less productive than those without disabilities -- less than the standard minimum wage. For years, sheltered workshops around the world have insisted that this is the only way they -- or any other business, for that matter -- can afford to employ them.

"When it is repealed, people with disabilities will have the same employment rights as everyone else," said Disability Issues Minister Ruth Dyson in the December issue of her newsletter.

Last week, two sheltered workshops responded to the proposal by announcing that they plan to lay off up to 20 of their "least productive" workers.

While the ministry claims it is maintaining its position, it is also considering two options that those workers may not find fair either.

One is a suggestion from the charity that runs the workshops. Workforce Industries is suggesting the ministry convert workers' benefits into wages. That would mean that those who are "less productive" would work at the facility in order to receive their government benefits in the form of wages. In the meantime the workshop, which would profit from their work, would not have to pay their wages.

Dyson told the New Zealand Herald that the ministry is already working out the details for proposed unpaid "community participation" programs for those considered "unable to perform productive work".

Related article:
"Sheltered workers fear job loss" (The New Zealand Herald)



Saudis With Disabilities Remain Isolated, Survey Shows

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
February 3, 2003

RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA--A recent study by Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Health estimated that there are more than 700,000 Saudis with disabilities, the English-speaking news service Arab News reported Monday.

And while the government has enacted new laws, and private charities have set up specialized rehabilitation programs, advocates say the Kingdom needs to do much more to integrate people with disabilities in mainstream Saudi life.

Wheelchair ramps and designated parking places are rare, even at shopping malls and government buildings. Restrooms do not have enough space for wheelchairs to maneuver. Assistive technologies that would help people to be more independent are scarce.

The survey also found that many Saudis with disabilities are victimized by family members, leading more than 60 percent of them to experience psychological problems, many of which go untreated.

The average income for a person with a disability is 8,371 Saudi Riyal ($2,232 US), which is not even enough to cover the cost of medications for many. (Note: The Arab News did not specify whether this was monthly or annual income.)

Related article:
"Wanted: A better deal for the Kingdom's disabled" (Arab News)



County Must Double Efforts To Include Students With Disabilities

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
February 3, 2003

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND--The state of Maryland is among the worst in the country for inclusive education, according to a story in the Baltimore Sun.

Howard County is among the worst in the state.

Part of the problem is that the county refuses to close Cedar Lane, a specialized school that serves children with disabilities in a segregated facility.

The school district wants to rebuild the aging institution because of overcrowding and lack of resources. But the state says it will not approve the building of any segregated, separate facilities for children with disabilities.

"It really is a civil rights issue," said Jessica Pearsall, who has a son with Down syndrome in first grade and a 4-year-old with autism. "So many of the arguments against including kids with disabilities are the exact same arguments used as reasons to segregate African-Americans."

Diana Mitchell, the school system's special education coordinator, said she thought the county's record for inclusion was much better than the statistics show. Mitchell said the county hopes to reach federal inclusion goals by 2007.

"The schools are the cornerstones of the community, and if they can learn to look at children with disabilities as people, that will ultimately spill out into the community," Mitchell explained.

Catriona Johnson's son, Asher Johnson-Dorman, is a fourth-grader with autism who spends nearly all of his school time in a general classroom with his peers.

"These are kids that belong in the neighborhood schools. The supports should be there to educate them," said Johnson, who is also director of Public Policy initiatives at Maryland's Developmental Disabilities Council. "It's part of the work of public education . . . and it's in the law."

Full story:
"Learning through inclusion" (Baltimore Sun)



"Boy, 9, Travels To Clinic Alone For Wheelchair"

February 3, 2003

JAIPUR, INDIA--The following five paragraphs are excerpts from a brief Associated Press story:

Badly twisted by polio, his (Mohammed Safeek's) legs are just thin, spindly branches. He can move only by shoving himself along the ground, his head barely two feet above the ground.

For years, he hauled himself through the filthy streets of his hometown outside Calcutta. He decided he had to have something better: one of the hand-pedaled three-wheeled wheelchairs common across the developing world.

He heard that there was a clinic in this north Indian city, 800 miles from his home, where he could get one. So Mohammed -- all of 9 years old -- came on his own.

Life had made things seemingly impossible for him: uninterested parents, no money, no schooling. But Mohammed is also fluent in several languages, worldly and deeply curious.

Listen to him talk, and there is nothing to invite pity.

Full story:
"Boy, 9, travels to clinic alone for wheelchair " (Associated Press via Seattle Times)



"The Sterilisation of Girls and Young Women in Australia: Issues and Progress" (Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission)

It is common in the legal commentary to refer to child sterilisation as if it is a gender neutral issue, but the overwhelming majority of sterilisations and certainly all the cases heard by relevant Australian courts and tribunals, involve female children with intellectual disabilities. There is social problem at the centre of the debate about sterilisation. Sterilisation is a procedure that is notorious for having been performed on young women with disabilities for various purposes ranging from eugenics through menstrual management and personal care, to the prevention of pregnancy, including pregnancy as a result of sexual abuse.



Ohio's Good News, Bad News
February 3, 2003
Sunday's Ohio News Network reported that Governor Bob Taft has put a record $49.2 billion budget on the table for Ohio lawmakers.

The good news is that, in his proposal, one or two institutions housing people with mental retardation would be closed and the residents moved to community-based settings.

The bad news is that Taft proposes saving $468 million over two years by freezing Medicaid reimbursement rates for in-home care providers along with nursing homes and hospitals in Ohio. His budget would also eliminate coverage for dental, vision, podiatry, chiropractic and psychological services for about 800,000 adults.


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Dave Reynolds, Editor