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

Friday, October 31, 2003
Year IV, Edition 169

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 36 more news items.

"It's frightening that the opinions and desires of a person with a disability are so devalued that Terri Schiavo's life could be ended on the basis of hearsay from a husband who may have conflict of interest."

--Jim Ward, Executive Director of ADA Watch Coalition (First story)

"People are just concerned about the unknown. If they would just get to know the abilities people have, they wouldn't worry.''
--Chuck McHale, who has hired a number of workers with disabilities for his catering business (Fourth story)



Guardian Appointed To Terri Schiavo Despite Parents' Objections

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
October 31, 2003

TAMPA, FLORIDA--A judge has appointed a medical professor to be an advisory guardian for Terri Schiavo, in spite of concerns by her parents that the professor is biased against their position that she be allowed to continue living.

Pinellas County Chief Judge David Demers on Friday named Dr. Jay Wolfson, director of the Florida Health Information Center at the University of South Florida, as an independent guardian ad litem to represent Terri's interests in legal matters only. Demers gave Wolfson 30 days to examine Terri's situation and recommend to Governor Jeb Bush whether or not she continue being fed through a gastronomy tube. Wolfson, who has a law degree, will not replace Michael Schiavo as guardian on any other matters.

Terri's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, have been fighting to keep their daughter alive against the wishes of her husband and guardian. The Schindlers' attorney, Pat Anderson, told the court that they do not trust Wolfson to be objective in the case. They cited a television interview in which the professor reportedly spoke out against "Terri's Law", which was passed by the legislature and governor last week to spare her life.

Attorneys representing Mr. Schiavo and the American Civil Liberties Union filed legal briefs Wednesday asking the court to declare the new law unconstitutional. They claimed that the legislature and governor overstepped their bounds when they passed the law on October 22, because they improperly over-rode the court's earlier decisions regarding Terri.

The new law ordered Terri's feeding tube to be reinserted into her stomach six days after it had been removed under a Florida court order, and for a guardian ad litem to make unbiased recommendations to the governor. The legislature passed the bill during a special session after the governor's office received tens of thousands of messages from disability rights groups and right-to-life advocates supporting Terri's right to continue living.

Terri collapsed in February 1990 and her brain was without oxygen for several minutes. The courts have accepted doctors' testimony that Terri has since been in a "persistent vegetative state", where she cannot feel anything and from which she cannot recover. They have also accepted Mr. Schiavo's claims that his wife had told him she would not want to be kept alive "by artificial means". Her feeding tube was removed on October 15 by order of Pinellas Judge George Greer.

Terri's parents claim that she is responsive and alert, and that she might improve if Mr. Schiavo would allow her to undergo rehabilitative therapies. Some experts have said that Terri is not in a vegetative state and that she could learn to swallow, thereby making the feeding tube unnecessary. They have been fighting Mr. Schiavo's plans to end Terri's life for nearly ten years.

On Thursday, an association of nursing home and hospice doctors said that the legislature and governor were inappropriately interfering with a patient's private "end-of-life" decisions.

Disability rights groups responded with outrage and disbelief Friday to the ACLU and the doctors' positions.

"If this situation related to the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and the rights of African-Americans or non-disabled women were threatened, the ACLU would jump in on the side of saving, not ending, life," said Jim Ward of ADA Watch. "It's frightening that the opinions and desires of a person with a disability are so devalued that Terri Schiavo's life could be ended on the basis of hearsay from a husband who may have conflict of interest."

"People with significant cognitive disabilities, like all Americans, deserve to have their lives protected by the government," said disability activist Paul Timmons of Charleston, South Carolina, in a separate statement.

On their website, Terri's parents and supporters have listed a number of alleged abuses by Mr. Schiavo that they want Florida's Adult Protective Services to investigate.

"Fla. Judge Appoints Professor As Terri Schiavo Guardian" (Associated Press via WKMG-TV6)
"Issues Surrounding Terri Schindler-Schiavo Are Disability Rights Issues, Say National Disability Organizations" (Ragged Edge)
Expanded Coverage: "Terri Schiavo's Right To Live" (Inclusion Daily Express)
Terri Schindler-Schiavo Foundation



Court Throws Out Discrimination Suit Against Girl Scouts

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
October 31, 2003

ATKINSON, NEW HAMPSHIRE--New Hampshire's highest court this week threw out a discrimination lawsuit filed against the Girl Scouts of America because the suit had not been filed quickly enough.

Linda Steir filed the suit in February 2000 on behalf of her teenage daughter, Marika, who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair.

Marika left Girl Scout Troop 467 in June 1999 after the troop refused to hold meetings at places that were accessible to her. According to court records, when Linda tried to register Marika with another troop, the troop leader told Linda she "would not be comfortable having a child with a disability in her troop."

Steir sued, claiming that the organization had violated Marika's rights under the New Hampshire Law Against Discrimination.

The high court ruled against Steir this week noting that the law requires victims to file suit within 6 months of the alleged act of discrimination, and that Steir's suit was filed two months too late.

"It’s very unfortunate that the courts found that the claim wasn't filed in time," said Steir. "This case has dragged on for years and to have that ruling come just because of timing is unfortunate."

Steir told the Rockingham News that she isn't giving up.

"There are still a lot of issues pending in federal court; one of them deals with these discrimination laws," said Steir. "This case has dragged out for a long time. Who knows when those issues will be dealt with."



State Forgot 2001 Nursing Home Fine

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
October 31, 2003

DES MOINES, IOWA--The Des Moines Register discovered this week that the state of Iowa forgot for more than two years to collect a $289,200 fine from a nursing home operator for violating health and safety standards.

A Register reporter contacted the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals, the agency that regulates nursing homes, Tuesday to follow up on the September 2001 fine that had been levied against Clayton Care Corp.. The company owned Easton Health Care Center, a facility that housed 51 people with disabilities, before the state shut it down for violating state and federal guidelines governing resident care and treatment.

Once the reporter asked about the fine, department officials contacted the state attorney general's office which is in charge of enforcing the fines. Within 24 hours of the newspaper's inquiry, the attorney general's office had filed suit against Clayton Care for the missing payments.

Iowa nursing home owners do not face criminal penalties when their facilities violate state and federal guidelines related to the resident care and treatment. Instead, the state uses fines as an incentive for facilities to treat their residents properly. The fines can only have a chance of working, however, if the state acts to enforce them.

Even though the Easton facility was closed, Clayton Care still operates another nursing home that continues to be cited for not taking proper care if its residents.

Related article:
"State forgets $289,000 nursing home fine" (Des Moines Register)



"A Job Well Done"

October 31, 2003

COVINGTON, KENTUCKY-- The following four paragraphs are excerpts from a brief editorial in Friday's Kentucky Post:

Two years ago, Chuck McHale hired a developmentally disabled man to help set up events for McHale's Wilder-based catering company.

He quickly became such a strong worker that McHale hired a woman who is deaf to do prep work in the kitchen.

McHale's experience is typical for managers who take a chance and hire employees with physical and mental handicaps. Leery at first, managers soon find the new employee -- who might be blind, deaf, mentally handicapped, have a physical handicap or have cerebral palsy -- to be one of their most reliable and conscientious workers.

"People are just concerned about the unknown,'' McHale says. "If they would just get to know the abilities people have, they wouldn't worry.''

Entire article:
"A job well done" (Kentucky Post)



Assistive Technology Fund Expected To Help 2,500 Find And Keep Jobs

October 31, 2003

SINGAPORE--The Straits Times ran a story about a new fund that is expected to help about 2,500 people with disabilities to find and keep jobs through assistive technology.

"While assistive devices are promising, their usage remains sporadic . . . as cost puts them beyond the reach of many who could benefit from them," said Yaacob Ibrahim, the Community Development and Sports Minister who launched the $2 million Assistive Technology Fund.

Successful applicants will receive a subsidy of up to 75 per cent of a device's cost, or $10,000, whichever is lower, the paper reported.

"The fund is very much needed to level the playing field for disabled people in terms of employment opportunities," said Jennifer Lim, executive director of the Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped.

"$2m fund for 'helping hand' technology" (The Straits Times),4386,217616,00.html
Assistive Technology Fund (National Council of Social Service)



The Center for Neighborhood Technology

The Center for Neighborhood Technology has a unique mission: To invent and implement new tools and methods that create livable urban communities for everyone.

Urban communities and metropolitan regions are growing rapidly. At the Center for Neighborhood Technology, we believe that this combination of economic growth and accelerating urbanization holds the promise of a better life for the world's population, because cities are the key to equitable wealth creation, efficient resource use and livable communities.

We believe that urban communities can only fulfill this promise and achieve fundamental change based on a new sense of collaborative advantage. Positive change requires that communities realize their chances of succeeding are greater when they act together, rather than on their own.



Quote worth noting:
"Independence? That's a middle-class blasphemy. We are all dependent on one another, every soul of us on earth."
--George Bernard Shaw
(Irish dramatist & literary critic, 1856-1950)


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