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

Friday, September 19, 2003
Year IV, Edition 145

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.

"Whether dealing with the interview process or performing the job itself, the key is showcasing your ability and not your disability."

--Columnist Allan Appel (Second story)

"The UK leads the world in take up of digital TV, and we must not squander the opportunity to make the most of this advantage. This report provides a wake-up call to the industry."
--Stephen Timms, Britain's E-commerce Minister, introducing a report showing that digital TV excludes many people with disabilities (Fifth story)



EEOC Okays Whistle-Blowing Campus Police Chief To Sue Institution & State Agency

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
September 19, 2003

ELDRIDGE, CALIFORNIA--A former campus police chief who blew the whistle on troubles with investigations of resident abuses, neglect and questionable deaths at Sonoma Developmental Center, has been given the green light by a federal agency to file a civil rights lawsuit against the institution and the state.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission determined on September 4 that officials at SDC and the California Department of Developmental Services retaliated against former SDC Police Chief Edward Contreras in violation of his civil rights, after he had won an earlier civil rights case against them. In that case, Contreras was awarded $412,000.

When Contreras retired last October he claimed that he was subjected to ongoing harassment and intimidation by his employers following the previous suit.

Sonoma Developmental Center, located north of San Francisco, houses over 800 people with developmental disabilities. It has been the focus of numerous state investigations surrounding questionable deaths and injuries, along with physical and sexual abuse of residents. State regulators were in charge of investigating such incidents, until an August 2001 law called for "deaths and serious injuries of unknown origin" at institutions to be reported to local law enforcement.

For more than four years Contreras complained to his superiors that investigations had been performed inadequately if at all. He also claimed that SDC administrators actively interfered with investigations to cover up mistakes made by facility staff.

When Contreras' concerns were ignored by SDC and DDS officials, he took the complaints to lawmakers. Contreras later said his employers made his workplace intolerable, forcing him out.

"They (DDS and SDC authorities) have made it so unbearable, I have to get out of there," he said at the time.

EEOC's ruling is "the latest documentation that state bureaucrats would rather harass whistleblowers than reform their corrupt system" wrote Sonoma Index-Tribune Editor Bill Lynch on Tuesday.

Lynch's reporting has been critical of SDC's handling of those investigations, including an award-winning series entitled "SDC-Investigation or Cover-up" in the summer of 2000.

"EEOC: State violated SDC chief's civil rights" (Sonoma Index-Tribune)
"Editorial - Corruption in state bureau costs us all" (Sonoma Index-Tribune)
"Sonoma Developmental Center -- Investigations or Cover-ups?" (Inclusion Daily Express)



"Disability Disclosure: To Tell Or Not" by Allan Appel

September 19, 2003

JUPITER, FLORIDA--The following three paragraphs are excerpts from a column by Allan Appel that appeared in Wednesday's

Disabilities in the workplace are like anywhere else. They can be visible or hidden. But when must an employer be informed of a disability, if at all?

There is certainly no disclosure issue if the disability is obvious. After all, a wheelchair or a service animal speak volumes all by themselves.

But there is nonetheless a need to discuss the disability as it relates to the specific job at hand.

Entire article:
"Allan Appel: Disability disclosure: to tell or not" (



Speakers Tell Educators About Need For Change In Attitudes Toward Disabilities

September 19, 2003

BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND--The problems with disability have less to do with medical issues than they do with public attitudes, educators at Queen's University were told last week.

The academics gathered during a seminar on disability issues learned that many people with disabilities were concerned about efforts to remove them or their disabilities from society. Deaf people explained that they were angry about reports on gene therapy and speculation that deafness can be entirely eliminated. Many insisted that they are happy with their lives and just need the public to understand their form of communication, the Belfast Telegraph reported.

Speakers told of the need for college campuses to be more accessible, for educators to find more ways to accommodate students with disabilities, and for administrators to include people with disabilities during their planning processes.

"Deaf Talkabout: Queen's tackles communication issues" (Belfast Telegraph)



Pastor Pleads Not Guilty To Abusing Junior Cottrell

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
September 18, 2003

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN--A pastor accused in the suffocation death of an 8-year-old boy pleaded not guilty Thursday to felony "physical abuse of a child causing great bodily harm".

Ray Hemphill, 45, entered the plea in Milwaukee County Circuit Court. He was released on signature bond.

Eight-year-old Terrance Cottrell Jr. died August 22 as Hemphill, a self-described pastor in the Faith Temple Church of the Apostolic Faith, attempted to "exorcise" the "evil spirits" of autism from the boy.

Hemphill, who weighed 157 pounds, said that during several prayer sessions he would sit on "Junior's" chest for up to two hours at a time while parishioners -- including the child's mother -- sat on the boy's arms and legs. During the fatal session, the boy had been wrapped in a sheet to keep him immobilized.

The local medical examiner later ruled Cottrell's death a homicide after determining that he died from "mechanical asphyxia due to external chest compression".

If convicted, Hemphill could face up to 10 years in prison and $25,000 in fines.



Digital TV Excludes Many, Report Shows

September 19, 2003

LONDON, ENGLAND--Digital TV is not accessible to many people with disabilities, according to a report released Thursday by the United Kingdom's E-commerce Minister Stephen Timms.

The 87-page report revealed that digital television equipment currently violates discrimination laws by excluding viewers with all sorts of disabilities, especially those affecting manual dexterity, vision and hearing. Digital TV systems are also difficult for many to navigate, particularly those that have had little experience with personal computers.

Recommendations include making it easier to purchase digital systems, including having remote controls visible where they are sold, writing instruction and installation guides easier to understand, and coming up with common design principles to make the equipment more "intuitive" to use.

"The UK leads the world in take up of digital TV, and we must not squander the opportunity to make the most of this advantage," said Timms. "This report provides a wake-up call to the industry."

Related article with link to report:
"Digital TV is not accessible to the disabled" (



FannieMae Homeownership Guide

In recent years, tremendous changes have impacted the lives of people with disabilities in positive ways. There has been a shift from placing people with disabilities in large institutions to providing assistance for people to live in their own homes in communities. Individuals with even the most intensive assistance needs are moving out on their own, holding down jobs, developing relationships, having children, and making the decisions which impact their lives. In many situations, assistance is tailored to meet the person’s needs and is delivered in people’s homes, at their jobs, and in the community.


# EXPRESS EXTRA!!! From the Inclusion Daily Express Archives -- Three years ago:

Immigration Case Could Set Precedent For People With Disabilities

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
September 19. 2000

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS--If Farah Choudhry can get immigration officials to grant asylum protections for her and her 10-year-old son, Umair, it would be the first time a person would be given such protection based on a disability.

Choudhry says she came to the United States over a year ago to seek treatment and services for her son who has autism, after conditions in her native Pakistan became unbearable. Family members, neighbors and even medical professionals -- all with little understanding of autism -- thought the boy was possessed. Relatives even forced her to give Umair dirty water in an attempt to drive away "evil spirits". Some relatives blamed the boy's mother for his autism, saying Allah had cursed him and that they should be ashamed.

"The entire family isolated us and were embarrassed because of Umair," says Choudhry. "In Pakistan, it was like I was under house arrest. I was not able to take him out. People would point to us. They thought he was evil or his shadow was harmful to other people."

Since July 1999, the Choudhrys have been living with relatives in Chicago, on temporary visas, while Umair is going to school. They filed for asylum in March of this year.

The case is unusual because young Umair does not talk, and therefore cannot give immigration officials information about the mistreatment he endured in Pakistan, or his fears about returning, which is typically required when one requests asylum for political or religious reasons. If the boy, his mother and brother are granted asylum, it will set a precedent which may allow other people with disabilities to seek asylum in the United States.

"It would absolutely send a message to world leaders that discrimination against the disabled is a violation of human and individual rights and isn't being tolerated at an international level by the U.S. government," said Mary Lou Breslin, senior policy adviser with the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund.


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