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

Monday, October 6, 2003
Year IV, Edition 154

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 43 more news items.

"I think the state is saying, 'Can we speed this up a little?'"

--Carol LaBruno, director of special education for Stamford Public Schools, about a $50,000 grant the district will receive from the state of Connecticut to include more students with intellectual disabilities in regular education classrooms (Fifth story)

"The implication is a handicapped life isn't worth living, so end it."
--Columnist Barbara Simpson, commenting on a Florida court's decision to remove a feeding tube from Terri Schiavo so she will begin starving to death on October 15 (First story)



Michael Schiavo Requests Dismissal Of Federal Lawsuit; Disability Groups File Brief Supporting Terri Schiavo's Right To Live

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
October 6, 2003

TAMPA, FLORIDA--Michael Schiavo asked a judge Monday to dismiss a federal lawsuit filed against him by his wife's mother and father, calling for him to be removed as her legal guardian.

The suit was brought by Bob and Mary Schindler who claimed Mr. Schiavo violated the rights of their daughter, Terri Schiavo, by blocking rehabilitative therapies that, among other things, might help her swallow food and liquids. It seeks an injunction to stop the scheduled removal of Terri's feeding tube on October 15, and alleges a conspiracy between Mr. Schiavo and Pinellas Circuit Court Judge George Greer, who has repeatedly sided with him.

U.S. District Judge Richard Lazzara has scheduled a hearing on the federal suit for this coming Friday, October 10.

Last Friday, Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist clarified a legal issue for Lazzara, but told the judge the state would not intervene in the case.

On Monday, 14 disability groups and individuals filed an amicus ("friend of the court") brief supporting Terri's parents in fighting to keep her alive. They include: Not Dead Yet, ADAPT, American Association of People with Disabilities, Center for Self-Determination, Center on Human Policy at Syracuse University, Rev. Rus Cooper-Dowda, Hospice Patients' Alliance, Dr. James Hall, National Council on Independent Living, National Spinal Cord Injury Association, Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered, TASH, World Association of Persons with Disabilities, and the World Institute on Disability.

"This case reflects whether our society and legal system values the lives of people with disabilities equally to those without disabilities," said Max Lapertosa, the attorney who represents those filing the brief.

Terri was 26 years old in February 1990, when she collapsed and was without oxygen for several minutes. Since then she has been breathing on her own, but is in what some doctors describe as a "persistent vegetative state" from which they believe she cannot recover.

Mr. Schiavo claims that Terri told him in casual conversations before her collapse that she would not have wanted to be kept alive by a machine. He first petitioned in May 1998 to remove the feeding tube which provides Terri with food and water. Judge Greer has consistently sided with Mr. Schiavo, as has the state Court of Appeals.

Terri's parents, along with over a dozen medical professionals and former caregivers, argue that Terri responds to her surroundings, laughs, follows some instructions and has tried to say "help me" and "mommy". They have wanted Mr. Schiavo to use some of the nearly $800,000 set aside from an insurance settlement to pay for rehabilitative therapies, including speech and swallowing therapies. Mr. Schiavo has refused.

More than 40,000 names have been added to an Internet petition directed at Governor Jeb Bush, calling for him to have the state intervene on Terri's behalf. In late August, Bush did ask Judge Greer to delay scheduling the removal of Terri's feeding tube while a special guardian is appointed to provide an unbiased view supporting her best interests.

Greer commented that he respected the governor's opinion. "Beyond that, it is going in the file," he said.

Related articles:
"9 days left for Schindler-Schiavo" (World Net Daily)
"Murder is legal if we say so" Commentary by Barbara Simpson (World Net Daily)

Related resources:
"Terri Schiavo's Right To Live" (Inclusion Daily Express)
Terri Schindler-Schiavo Foundation
Pray For Terri



Disability Groups Oppose Early Release For Kevorkian

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
October 6, 2003

DETROIT, MICHIGAN--An attorney will argue Wednesday that Dr. Jack Kevorkian should be released from prison instead of serving out his 10 to 25 year sentence for second-degree murder.

According to the Associated Press, attorney Geoffrey Fieger said in a statement Monday that Kevorkian, 75, has been "more than punished" and that his continued imprisonment "is brutal, inhuman and cruel" because he has a variety of medical problems.

Disability rights advocates were quick to respond to Fieger's announcement.

"We can only guess that now that it's clear there's no legitimate legal grounds for Kevorkian's release, Fieger is jumping in to see if theatrics can make a difference," said Diane Coleman, president of Not Dead Yet, in a statement also released Monday.

Not Dead Yet is one national disability rights group that for years has opposed Kevorkian and his crusade to legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia. They have argued that doing so will essentially make it "open season" for people with disabilities and anyone else who is considered undesirable or a burden on society -- particularly at a time when the cost of health care is high. They have also pointed out that most of those Kevorkian assisted in ending their lives were in emotional, psychological and social crises, not in the final stages of terminal illnesses as was believed.

By his own admission, Kevorkian has claimed assisting at least 130 people to kill themselves, as part of his campaign to make doctor-assisted suicide legal in the United States. In March of 1999, he was convicted of second-degree murder for inducing the death of Thomas Youk, a man who had amyotropic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Kevorkian was convicted after replaying Youk's video-taped death on the "60 Minutes" television news magazine.

Past attempts to have Kevorkian released prior to his first scheduled parole hearing in 2007 have failed.

Related resources:
"Jack Kevorkian: Dr. Death" (Inclusion Daily Express)
"The Suicide Machine" (Detroit Free Press)



"Disabled 'Parliament' Calls For Freedoms"

October 6, 2003

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND--The following five paragraphs are excerpts from a story published Saturday on the BBC News Website:

Over the next two days up to 70 disabled people will work out the details of a "rights and freedoms bill" which they hope will influence government policy.

One of the proposed additions to the bill is "the right to a sex life and a publicly recognised relationship".

Another refers to "the right to be born and the right to be alive".

The event, which is being held in Birmingham, is being organised by the British Council of Disabled People.

Through its member bodies, the BCODP claims to represent about 400,000 disabled people.

Entire article:
"Disabled 'parliament' calls for freedoms" (BBC News)
Related resource:
The British Council of Disabled People (BCODP)



Vancouver Readies For Hosting 2010 Winter Olympic & Paralympics

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
October 6, 2003

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--Disability rights advocates say that Vancouver is one of the world's most disability-friendly cities.

"It's night and day compared to anywhere else in the world, even compared to places that consider themselves enlightened, like Toronto," said Brad McCannell, president of Barrier Free Design.

Still, the city has a long way to go before it is ready to host the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2010.

So, the city council is looking at adopting building codes that reflect the need for more accessibility. The airports and transit systems are also working on improving access to their facilities and services. Hotels, restaurants, banks and other public facilities are looking to make modifications before the Games begin, according to an article in Sunday's Canadian Press.

Related article:
"Vancouver must increase disabled access before Olympics, Paralympics: advocates"(Canadian Press via Brockville Recorder & Times)



Connecticut Gives Grants To Schools For Improving Inclusion

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
October 6, 2003

STAMFORD, CONNECTICUT--The state of Connecticut is giving $50,000 grants to 16 school districts to help them include more students from the special education programs in regular education classrooms, according to a story in Sunday's Stamford Advocate.

Stamford and Norwalk school districts each expect to receive a grant in the state's effort to comply with a legal settlement agreement. That agreement ended a discrimination lawsuit filed last year which accused schools of unfairly segregating students with intellectual disabilities from their peers.

Just 5.6 percent of Stamford students with intellectual disabilities, and 9.1 percent of those in Norwalk, spent at least 80 percent of their time in regular classes last year, the Advocate reported.

Connecticut ranks behind 25 other states, with 11.6 percent of its students with intellectual disabilities spending a "significant portion" of their day included in the mainstream classes.

Entire article:
"State looks to mainstream special-needs children" (Stamford Advocate)



The Center on Human Policy (Syracuse University)

The Center on Human Policy (CHP) is a Syracuse University based policy, research, and advocacy organization involved in the national movement to insure the rights of people with disabilities. Since its founding, the Center has been involved in the study and promotion of open settings (inclusive community opportunities) for people with disabilities.

The Center's staff and associates include educators, human services professionals, people with disabilities, graduate students, and family members of children and youth with disabilities. The Center has an Advocacy Board composed of people with disabilities, parents, and interested citizens that serves as an independent voice on behalf of the rights of people with disabilities in the community.

The Center is involved with a broad range of local, statewide, national and international activities, including policy studies, research, information and referral, advocacy, training and consultation, and information dissemination.


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

Travelers With Disabilities More Inconvenienced Than Ever

October 4, 2001

UNITED STATES--Things were bad for airline passengers with disabilities before the September 11 terrorists attacks. In fact, the September 10 edition of Inclusion Daily Express included a report about complaints accusing two airlines of discriminating against people with disabilities.

According to BusinessWeek columnist John M. Williams, several conversations have led him to believe that things have only gotten worse during the last three weeks.

For example, two passengers were told they could not take their canes on board their flights because they might be used as a weapon. They were also questioned about their guide dogs, because security officers believed they could be used as attack dogs. A deaf man of Middle Eastern descent missed his flight after being detained for questioning because security personnel mistook the sign language he and a friend were using might be some sort of terrorists code.

And while lengthy safety precautions may be necessary, this is a good time for the airline industry and security personnel to redouble their training efforts related to flyers who have disabilities.

Entire article:
"Flying the Unthinking Skies" (BusinessWeek On-line)
Related resource:
"September 11, 2001 and Beyond: The Impact of the Terror Attacks on People With Disabilities" (Inclusion Daily Express)


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