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

Friday, July 11, 2003
Year IV, Edition 111

This front page features 8 news and information items, each preceded by a number (#) symbol.
Click on the"Below the Fold" link at the bottom of this page for the rest of today's news.

"I am just numb, trying to inhale this, being just so glad it is over. Justice has been served. It is going to help other people with disabilities also."

--Susan Catlin, who won a suit Friday against her former employer that refused to rehire her because of her disabilities following an automobile accident (First story)

"We tend to think of the disabled population as being one thing - in one basket. They're different and they need to be treated differently."
--Connecticut architect Lawrence Frazier, who recently spent part of the day experiencing architecture from the point of view of a person with a physical disability (Second story)



State High Court Rules Cheese Factory Must Accommodate Workers With Disability

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
July 11, 2003

MADISON, WISCONSIN--The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Friday ruled in favor of a woman who claimed her former employer discriminated against her by failing to accommodate her disability.

Susan Catlin began working as a cheese cutter for the Crystal Lake Cheese Factory in August 1995, but was soon promoted from cutting cheese to managing a wholesale department with four employees -- a job that involved assisting those workers when needed.

In November 1996, Catlin became quadriplegic as the result of an automobile accident. When she tried to return to work the following September, company administrators told her she would not be able to do the tasks of all four jobs, and that they could not accommodate her disability. They also said it would cost $47,000 to install an accessible bathroom for her, a cost that the company considered a hardship.

Catlin sued the company under the Wisconsin Fair Employment Act. Her position was later supported by the state Labor and Industry Review Commission, Barron County Circuit Judge James Eaton and the 3rd District Court of Appeals.

The state Supreme Court determined that Crystal Lake's "refusal to modify Catlin's job duties to exempt her from performing the heaviest physical tasks, and to make physical modifications to the work place, constituted the denial of a reasonable accommodation, which it could have provided without hardship."

"With such reasonable accommodations, she would have the ability to undertake, adequately, her job-related responsibilities," the court wrote in its final opinion.

Catlin's attorney, Monica Murphy of the Wisconsin Coalition for Advocacy, said the decision was a victory for people with disabilities.

"It makes clear that the Wisconsin Fair Employment Act should be broadly interpreted to accommodate people with disabilities," she said.

Murphy said the back wages Catlin sought now total at least $100,000 and added that the cheese company will also be responsible for Catlin's attorney fees.

"Supreme Court says cheese factory discriminates against worker" (Associated Press via Duluth News Tribune)

Crystal Lake Cheese Factory v. Labor and Industry Review Commission and Susan Catlin (Wisconsin Supreme Court)



"Walking In Another's Shoes; Architects See World From A New Perspective"

July 11, 2003

WALLINGFORD, CONNECTICUT--The following five paragraphs are excerpts from a story published in Friday's Hartford Courant:

On her first try through the door, architect Barbara Fabiani of New Haven could not pull the door open, turn the chair and clear the open door, so it slammed shut.

Nelson Carvalho, director of inpatient therapy at Gaylord Hospital, coached her on her second try.

"Keep opening it and bring it back with you," he said, going step-by-step through an action that wheelchair-bound people perform throughout the day.

When she finally made it to the other side, Fabiani took a breath. "Well, that only took forever," she said.

Fabiani was one of nearly 30 Connecticut architects who spent the afternoon at Gaylord and played at having disabilities for the serious purpose of experiencing the built world from the point of view of people with physical limitations.

Entire article:
"Walking In Another's Shoes; Architects See World From A New Perspective" (Hartford Courant)



State Senate Joins House In Slowing Fernald Closure

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
July 11, 2003

WALTHAM, MASSACHUSETTS--The Massachusetts Senate on Thursday voted to override Governor Mitt Romney's attempts to close Fernald Development Center during the 2004 fiscal year and move its 300 residents to other state-run institutions or community settings. The state House had voted similarly on Wednesday.

As a result, Fernald will not close before October 2004, the governor will be required to provide a study detailing how shutting the 155-year-old institution would save the state money, and a 11-member committee will be created to recommend how the 182-acre property would be used after Fernald is closed.

According to the Daily News Tribune, the Department of Mental Retardation is to issue a report to the Joint Committee on Human Services and the House and Senate committees on Ways and Means by February 14, 2004. The report is to detail how residents will be moved, and at what cost, along with plans to cut down on travel distances for family members of those residents.

In late February of 2003, Romney proposed closing Fernald, considered the oldest state-run institution housing people with developmental disabilities in the Western Hemisphere, within this fiscal year. But local community leaders joined relatives of Fernald's residents to pressure lawmakers to slow down the process.



High School Students Build Home Designed For Wheelchair Users

July 11, 2003

MADISON HEIGHTS, VIRGINIA--Here's something you don't see everyday . . . but wouldn't it be great if we did?

About 25 students in Heritage High School's building trade classes have built a three bedroom, two bathroom house, specifically designed for people with disabilities.

Their instructor, Jerry Dudley, told the Lynchburg News & Advance that building a house to federal disability standards "was a good learning process." The house has features for wheelchair users such as lower light switches, 3-feet-wide interior doors, and bathrooms with specially built showers.

Movers trucked the 1,236-square-foot house to its permanent location Thursday.

Related article:
"House built by Heritage students trucked to Madison Heights" (Lynchburg News & Advance)



Blind Web Users Go After Disability-Unfriendly Web Designers

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
July 11, 2003

LONDON, ENGLAND--The Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) is taking legal action on behalf of several individuals alleging that a number of Websites are not accessible to blind users.

Catherine Casserle, senior legal officer for RNIB, said that the Websites discriminate against people with disabilities by violating the 1995 Disability Discrimination Act.

"The DDA has been around for a while, and the provisions covering websites have been clear since 1999," Casserle explained. "There are increasing numbers of cases being taken under the Act and this will continue to be the case."

Under the DDA, organizations that provide goods, services and facilities directly to the general public cannot refuse to serve a person because of a disability. Websites are to use technology to support features such as text for images, and for enhanced screen readers and Braille input. In some cases, if people with disabilities cannot access site facilities, the owner of the site may be violating the law.

"Service providers have a duty to make reasonable adjustments to their sites," Casserle explained. "But if an individual can demonstrate that something is unreasonable, then it is up to the court to decide what action to take."

Casserle did not name which Websites were being investigated.

Related resources:
RNIB: Royal National Institute of the Blind

Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI)



Mothers From Hell 2

Advocating for disability rights... We will not be silenced!

MFH2 is a national group of parents, relatives, friends, and anyone who just plain 'gets it' fighting chipped tooth and broken press-on nail for the appropriate education, community acceptance, desperately needed services, rights of and entitlements for individuals with disabilities. (Hey, we’re moms, we can rattle off really long sentences like that without stopping!)

MFH2 offers more support than a 44DD underwire and more empowerment than a tanker full of caffeine, chocolate & Viagra!



From the Inclusion Daily Express Archives (One year ago)


John Hockenberry: Disability Movement Leads The Way In Innovation And Social Change

July 11, 2002

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN--For years, people within the movement for community inclusion and independent living have been providing examples of how to solve everyday social problems, according to journalist John Hockenberry.

"It may look like it's just about disability, but it has implications way outside the disability issues," Hockenberry told a crowd of about 500 at a recent Freedom to be Independent event in Milwaukee.

"The contemporary corporate message is 'Let's think outside the box,'" Hockenberry said.

"The people who come to independent living centers are already out of the box. This is the place where you have to do the problem-solving. Independent living centers are the place where we make good on this alleged promise that we are going to include people of different abilities."

Entire article:
"To Hockenberry, disability is innovation" (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)


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