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

Wednesday, March 26, 2003
Year IV, Edition 057

This edition includes 8 news and information items, each preceded by a number (#) symbol.

"It's just such a good feeling now."

--John Miller, who won a $20,000 settlement after suing his local Gold's Gym for discriminating against him because of his Tourette's syndrome (Fourth story)



Institution Supporters Plan To Use Crime Bill To Keep Facilities Open

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
March 26, 2003

DAYTON, OHIO--Like so many states, the developmental disabilities services system in Ohio has three significant problems:
1) not enough money,
2) too many people are housed in the state's 12 large, segregated institutions, here called "developmental centers", and
3) people with developmental disabilities are often victims of abuse and neglect.

Earlier this year, Governor Taft proposed closing two institutions and moving the people to other facilities and into homes in the community. It's a budget-cutting measure that would help with the first two problems.

The Senate is hoping to address the third problem with a measure that would improve reporting of, and investigations into, abuse and neglect claims. Senate Bill 4 would also make service providers report employee actions that create "substantial risk" of harm even when there was no actual injury.

Now, parents who support keeping all state-run institutions open want lawmakers to tack onto Senate Bill 4 an amendment that would keep all of the institutions open.

If they are successful in adding the amendment, Gov. Taft would no doubt be forced to veto the entire measure.

The editorial in Wednesday's Dayton Daily News blasted the pro-institution supporters -- including lawmakers -- calling their action "unconscionable".

Related article:
"Protections for disabled come first" (Dayton Daily News)



Look For Teen On Box With Tony The Tiger

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
March 26, 2003

EAST LANSING, MICHIGAN--Beginning next month, Kellogg's Frosted Flakes cereal boxes will feature a picture of 16-year-old athlete Donny VanderWaals.

"I'm a star," said VanderWaals, who plays basketball and was Special Olympics Michigan's 2002 Inspirational Athlete.

VanderWaals, who was born with Lowes syndrome, is practicing for the speech he will be giving next Wednesday in Kellogg's home town of Battle Creek, where the special edition cereal box will be unveiled.

"Kellogg's to feature Haslett teenager" (Lansing State Journal)



Judge Orders State To Pay Lawyers More Than They Requested

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
March 26, 2003

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS -- The state has been ordered to pay fees and expenses totaling nearly $700,000 to three lawyers who sued on behalf of parents of children and adults with mental retardation.

U.S. District Judge Douglas Woodlock ruled earlier this week that the state would pay Neil McKittrick, Carol Rose and David Friedman $674,504 in attorneys fees and $23,112 in expenses.

That amount is $100,000 more than the lawyers had requested.

The lawyers represented parents of people who had waited for placements in community-based services, some for as long as 30 years. As part of the settlement, the Department of Mental Retardation agreed to provide services for more than 2,000 people over five years, according to the Boston Globe.

The attorneys took the case at no expense to the parents, but were allowed to seek attorney fees from the state after winning the settlement.

''People came to us and we agreed to represent them pro bono," McKittrick said. "We never charged them a penny. Because we won, we were entitled to receive those fees.''

Related article:
"US judge orders state to pay lawyers who took case for free" (Boston Globe)



Gym Settles Discrimination Suit Against Former Member

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
March 26, 2003

PATERSON, NEW JERSEY--Gold's Gym agreed Monday to pay $20,000 to settle a disability discrimination suit filed by former member John Miller.

Miller, who has Tourette's syndrome, joined the local Gold's Gym in 1997. Two years later, he was informed that his membership was being cancelled because he failed to follow the gym's "etiquette and conduct" rules, according to The Record.

People who have Tourette's syndrome typically have what are called "tics" -- movements, gestures, sounds, or words that they cannot control. Mr. Miller often has uncontrollable gestures and coughs when he speaks.

In January 2001 Miller filed a civil suit against Gold's Gym, which has 560 gyms worldwide, claiming it violated New Jersey's Law Against Discrimination.

Miller joined another gym where he says he feels welcome.

"Every day I was thinking about it," Miller said Monday. "It's just such a good feeling now."

Miller's attorney, Joseph Fortunato said, "I think it should make employers and businesses more careful before imposing unrealistic restrictions on people with disabilities."



Researcher Brings Communication Technology To Others

March 26, 2003

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA--The following four paragraphs are excerpts from a piece found in Wednesday's The Mercury:

While on Marion Island in the South Atlantic, (Graham) Clark suffered a disabling stroke which resulted in paralysis from the nose down and the so-called "locked-in syndrome".

Fortunately, some neck movement remained.

Through extraordinary tenacity and perseverance Clark made himself literate through a voice communication device.

Now Clark is using these unique facilities to spread the word that children and people with impaired vocal communication can be helped.

Entire article:
"Technology lets speech impaired talk again" (The Mercury)



Inclusion Press (Ontario, Canada)

What is Inclusion?
Inclusion is about ALL of us.
Inclusion is about living full lives - about learning to live together.
Inclusion makes the world our classroom for a full life.
Inclusion treasures diversity and builds community.
Inclusion is about our 'abilities' - our gifts and how to share them.
Inclusion is NOT just a 'disability' issue.



# TWO YEARS AGO (From the March 26, 2001 Inclusion Daily Express)

Lawmakers Want Troubled Facility Closed

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
March 26, 2001

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA--The state Senate wants Governor Frank O'Bannon to commit to closing an institution for people with mental retardation within the next two years before it will release $93 million for community-based services.

In announcing the Senate's two-year budget proposal last week, Finance Committee Chairman Larry Borst said the state cannot afford to keep funding Muscatatuck Developmental Center, along with another institution at Fort Wayne, while continuing to build community supports.

The $93 million was to be targeted for building three regional centers and other supports in part to help institution residents make the transition into communities across the state. Lawmakers are afraid that a lack of a solid commitment from the governor's administration to close the facility, along with a clear time-line for down-sizing and closure, could create problems for the 260 residents, their families and for the institution's employees.

"We're trying to get the governor to make a choice," state Senator Luke Kenley told the Courier-Journal.

In 1997, the governor ordered Indiana's New Castle State Developmental Center closed after a television station broadcast showed hidden camera footage of employees abusing residents. It took the state about 15 months to close the institution and move its 150 residents into other settings, including apartments and other community-based options. It is reported that many relatives who had initially opposed the moves, are pleased with the new homes and the progress made by the former institution residents.

While the administration has been slow to commit to closing Muscatatuck, problems with the facility itself have helped push lawmakers in the direction of de-institutionalization over the past year. According to the Indianapolis Star, investigators a year ago confirmed 183 cases of abuse by Muscatatuck staff members during the previous three years -- 75 of those in 1999. During that same period, 47 state employees were fired for abuse. Another 72 state workers were reprimanded, but some were allowed to remain on the job even after abusing residents. Some continued to work on the same unit where the abuse had taken place.

Last December, architects who examined the physical structures at Muscatatuck and Fort Wayne Developmental Centers projected that it would cost the state over $124 million during the next 10 years to refurbish and maintain the aging buildings. Soon after the report, state officials asked for just $10 million over the next two years for building renovation and maintenance.

This report from the Louisville Courier-Journal has more details about the Senate's position and the reaction from parent groups that fear and oppose Muscat closure:

Related resource:
"Trouble With Indiana's Institutions" (Inclusion Daily Express)



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Dave Reynolds, Editor