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

Thursday, October 16, 2003
Year IV, Edition 160

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.

"When you get into one, it doesn't matter if you're in a wheelchair or you're 74 or you're 12. The playing field is level and you all seem to become the same mysterious age."

--Bill Allen, whose Forever Young Tree Houses Inc. builds tree houses that are accessible to wheelchair users of all ages (Fifth story)

"I cannot live with this proposal."
--Sheila Romano of the Illinois Council on Developmental Disabilities, who voted against a proposal to reopen Lincoln Developmental Center and move people with disabilities back into the facility (Second story)



Lawyers Say Governor Bush Can And Should Intervene On Terri Schiavo's Behalf

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
October 16, 2003

TAMPA, FLORIDA--Four attorneys have written Florida Governor Jeb Bush to inform him that he not only has the power -- he has the duty -- to stop the starvation death of Terri Schiavo, whose feeding tube was removed Wednesday.

The attorneys pointed out that court orders allowing Terri, 39, to starve are violating her constitutionally-guaranteed "inalienable right to enjoy and defend life" regardless of her "physical disability."

Richard Thompson, chief counsel at the Thomas More Law Center, said the governor also has "sufficient evidence" to "conduct a formal criminal investigation" into claims that Michael Schiavo abused his wife.

Bush on Wednesday told Terri's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, that he would direct his legal staff to find a way to block the court order and have the feeding tube replaced. Bush previously supported the parents in court, but has said he does not have any authority over the courts.

About 100 disability advocates and right-to-life supporters have been holding an around-the-clock vigil outside the hospice where Terri has stayed for the last several years. According to one report, Terri's parents have received 10,000 email and other messages supporting their efforts to keep Terri alive.

Terri collapsed from a chemical imbalance in February 1990 and her brain was without oxygen for several minutes. Some doctors have said her brain was damaged to the point that she is in a "persistent vegetative state" and will not recover, but would likely survive to age 51.

Her husband, who is also her guardian, has claimed that his wife told him she would not want to live by "artificial means". Even though Terri breathes and controls her own blood pressure, Mr. Schiavo petitioned the court in 1998 to have the feeding tube removed which provides her with food and water. The courts have consistently supported Mr. Schiavo's position, except when a court ordered her feeding tube reinstalled two days after being removed in April 2001.

Terri's parents insist that their daughter is often alert, that she laughs with them, tries to talk, and could benefit from rehabilitation including speech and swallowing therapies. They believe Mr. Schiavo wants Terri to die so he can have what's left of a $1 million malpractice settlement from 1993, and because he wants to marry his longtime girlfriend, with whom he now has a child and another on the way.

In a related story, a neurologist who reviewed a video tape of Terri's interactions with her mother, called her starvation death "murder".

"She turned to her mom, responded to mom in the room, there was no doubt this woman had minimal but definite cognizant function, she was not in a vegetative state," said Dr. Jacob Green. "She's alive . . . there's no question in my mind she is not brain dead."

"Lawyers to Jeb Bush: You Have the Power to Save Terri Schiavo" (
"Local Doctor Plays Part in Schiavo Case" (First Coast News -- includes video clips)
"Parents of woman in life or death legal battle say hope remains" (Herald-Tribune)
"Terri Schiavo's Right To Live" (Inclusion Daily Express)
Terri Schindler-Schiavo Foundation



Panel Votes To Reopen LDC

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
October 16, 2003

SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS--A 22-member statewide task force, which included only one person with a disability, has voted to approve a plan to reopen Lincoln Developmental Center.

The panel voted 19-3 to reopen 20 beds an existing building while four new 10-bed buildings are built.

"I cannot live with this proposal," said Sheila Romano of the Illinois Council on Developmental Disabilities, who voted against the proposal along with the panel member with a disability and a representative from United Cerebral Palsy.

LDC housed 250 people with developmental disabilities before former Governor George Ryan ordered it closed in August 2002. The facility had been losing federal money because of allegations of staff abuse and neglect.

Current Governor Rod Blagojevich made a campaign promise of reopening of LDC and hiring back state employees that had been laid off when the institution closed.

Advocates for community services see the reopening of LDC as a "significant step backward". Union members and family members of former LDC residents call it a "step in the right direction".

"Task force votes to open single building at LDC" (Lincoln Courier)
"Lincoln Developmental Center -- Illinois Governor Strives To Return To The Past" (Inclusion Daily Express)



"Breaking Down Barriers"

October 16, 2003

EALING, ENGLAND--The following five paragraphs are excerpts from a brief article in Thursday's Ealing Times:

Last month a woman telephoned the offices of the Times to say she had been discriminated against while trying to have lunch out at a west London restaurant.

The lady in question was deaf and had her assistance dog with her – but was told that she could not eat in the restaurant with her dog as it was against health and safety regulations. The woman left the restaurant, dreadfully embarrassed and unsure about her rights as a disabled customer.

These days many of us like to think our modern society is open and caring enough to treat people with disabilities in the same way as an able bodied person.

But the case outlined above is just one of many hundreds of incidents of people being treated differently because of a disability.

However, all is soon set to change.

Entire article:
"Breaking down barriers" (Ealing Times)



Officer Who Shot Paul Childs Will Not Be Charged

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
October 16, 2003

DENVER, COLORADO--The police officer who shot and killed Paul Childs III will not face criminal charges, District Attorney Bill Ritter announced Thursday.

After a three-month investigation, Ritter determined that there was not enough evidence to convict Denver Police Officer James Turney on any criminal charges. Turney "had a reasonable belief that he was in imminent danger" when he shot the 15-year-old four times, Ritter said.

Now that the investigation is complete, attorney Johnnie Cochran can proceed with a lawsuit against the city on behalf of Childs' family.

On July 5, the family called police in the hopes that they could help calm Childs down after a series of outbursts in his home. Turney shot Childs, who had epilepsy and mental retardation, when the teen failed to follow police instructions to drop a kitchen knife he was clutching to his chest. A fellow officer standing next to Turney was armed with a non-lethal Taser, but claimed he was not in a position to use it.

A neurologist later suggested that Childs' behavior prior to the shooting may have been caused by the after-effects of a massive seizure he had experienced a few days earlier.

The incident has prompted legislators to consider "Paul's Law", a measure that would require all law enforcement officers and dispatchers in Colorado to undergo crisis-intervention training, along with specific instruction on dealing with suspects who have mental illness or developmental disabilities. It also has prompted the family to prepare the federal civil rights suit against the police department.

Civil rights groups, including the ACLU, have called for an independent investigation.

This is the second time prosecutors have cleared Turney in the fatal shooting of a teen with a disability in the same neighborhood. In 2002, Turney was one of two officers who shot Gregory Smith, a partially deaf 18-year-old, after he pulled a knife. No charges were filed in that case either.



Team Creates Accessible Tree Houses

October 16, 2003

BURLINGTON, VERMONT--Thursday's National Post featured the story about Bill Allen and Phil Trabulsy, who in 1999 formed Forever Young Tree Houses Inc.

So far, their non-profit organization has built four wheelchair-accessible tree houses across the United States and is currently building a fifth at Crotched Mountain in New Hampshire. The designers have come up with an elaborate system that incorporates large wooden ramps capable of carrying motorized wheelchairs weighing up to 400 pounds.

The tree house they completed most recently is 800 square feet. The ramp leading up to the house, however, is 4,000 square feet and can accommodate up to 48 wheelchair users.

"It's home plate to center field in a football field. It weaves through 23 trees and it's just fabulous," said Allen.

"They're ageless places," he added. "When you get into one, it doesn't matter if you're in a wheelchair or you're 74 or you're 12. The playing field is level and you all seem to become the same mysterious age."

Entire article:
"Glee in the trees" (National Post)
Related resource:
Forever Young Treehouses



People with Disabilities (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development)

We've created this page for People with Disabilities. It contains information, from all parts of HUD's web site, that will interest you - it gives you one - stop shopping!

We hope you will bookmark this page and return to it frequently. And if you have suggestions for additional information that we should add to this page, please let us know.


# EXPRESS EXTRA!!! Quote worth noting:

"A hungry man is not a free man."
--Adlai Stevenson, American political leader (1900-1965)


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Dave Reynolds, Editor