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

Tuesday, November 4, 2003
Year IV, Edition 170

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 we consider how sensitive our own experiences have made us and the rampant prejudice against disability in American culture in general, and especially among many doctors, we see why Terri's life is in danger. We also see how these attitudes put all lives potentially at risk."

--Columnist and disability rights advocate Michael Volkman, on Terri Schiavo's right to continue living (First story)

"When I got popular was when I got the job on the football team. My name started traveling around."
--Matt Louden, a senior at Juanita High School in Seattle, who was recently asked by eight girls to be their escort at the homecoming dance. Louden, who has Down syndrome, is "the guy who gets things done" for the school's football team (Third story)



Court Denies Schindlers' Request To Join Case With Governor Bush

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
November 4, 2003

TAMPA, FLORIDA--A Pinellas County Circuit Judge on Tuesday denied Terri Schiavo's parents the chance to intervene in a court case between their son-in-law and Governor Jeb Bush.

Judge W. Douglas Baird rejected the motion filed last Wednesday by the American Center for Law and Justice to allow Bob and Mary Schindler to be part of the lawsuit on the side of the governor.

"We're very disappointed with the court's ruling," said Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the ACLJ, in a statement. "It is clear that state law permits the parents to get directly involved in a case to defend a state law that is keeping their daughter alive. It is unfortunate that the court did not find that the parents have sufficient legal interest in defending the state's actions - actions that provide the only barrier between Terri and death by starvation."

"We are currently examining all legal options available - including an appeal - for our clients. We will do everything possible to ensure that the interests of Terri's parents are represented in this case."

Attorneys for Michael Schiavo, Terri's husband and guardian, had argued that the legal battle over "Terri's Law" is between their client and the governor and that the Schindlers should have no part in the case. Mr. Schiavo and the American Civil Liberties Union are suing the governor claiming he and the legislature overstepped their constitutional bounds when they passed the law last month because it overruled previous court decisions.

Governor Bush had championed and signed the law on October 21 which called for Terri's feeding tube to be reinstalled six days after it had been removed under court order.

Disability rights groups have been watching Terri's situation for a number of years. Mr. Schiavo and the popular media describe Terri as being "better off dead" because of her disability. A coalition of 14 disability rights groups released a statement last month calling on news sources to more accurately describe Terri's situation and focus on her human and civil rights. Bush pushed for the law after he received tens of thousands of messages from disability rights advocates and right-to-life supporters.

Terri sustained a brain injury at age 26 after she collapsed and was without oxygen for several minutes in February 1990. Shortly after her collapse, doctors described her as being in a "persistent vegetative state" from which she would not recover. Mr. Schiavo won a $1.2 million malpractice settlement in 1992 after promising to take care of his wife for the rest of his life.

A short time later, Mr. Schiavo removed Terri from a nursing home when it insisted he allow his wife to be given antibiotics for a potentially life-threatening infection. He put Terri on "do not resuscitate" status, and began placing limits on visits from her family members. Five years ago, he moved his wife to a hospice, which is ordinarily reserved for people with less than six months to live, even though doctors said she could live into her 50s. Schiavo began claiming that Terri told him before her collapse that she would not want to live "by artificial means".

According to Terri's parents, Mr. Schiavo stopped allowing rehabilitative therapies in 1993 and has since spent much of the settlement money in a legal battle to remove the feeding tube that provides Terri with food and water. The Schindlers also have asked the courts to remove him as Terri's guardian because he wants to marry another woman with whom he has conceived two children, and because he would gain what remains of the settlement money when Terri dies.

Terri's parents argue that Terri is responsive, alert and that she tries to talk to them. They also have presented testimony from four board certified neurologists, two board certified internists, one neuro-psychologist, and two speech pathologists stating that Terri is not in a persistent vegetative state. Three nurses who cared for Terri in the 1990s have signed affidavits saying she interacted with them. Nurses also said that Schiavo was verbally abusive to his wife.

Video clips on the family's website show Terri apparently smiling at her parents, following a balloon with her eyes, and responding negatively to unwanted stimuli -- all of which would indicate she is not in a persistent vegetative state.

"As we read through the reams of information about Terri's condition and history, and when we saw the video clip of her, many of us recognized ourselves," wrote columnist and advocate Michael Volkman this weekend. "When we consider how sensitive our own experiences have made us and the rampant prejudice against disability in American culture in general, and especially among many doctors, we see why Terri's life is in danger. We also see how these attitudes put all lives potentially at risk."

Columnist Wesley J. Smith attempted on Friday to explain why the press has distorted Terri's situation.

"The establishment media usually reflects the attitudes of society's elites, who do generally believe that people like Terri are better off dead. On the other hand, talk-radio and the Internet--what I call dissident media--generated the unprecedented outpouring of support for Terri's life that culminated in Terri's Law. Members of the establishment disdain dissident media and perceive it to be a threat."

A hearing on Terri's guardianship is set for Wednesday afternoon before Judge George W. Greer, who has consistently sided with Mr. Schiavo in the past.

"Schiavo is not better off dead than disabled" by Michael Volkman (Albany Times Union)
"Life, Death, and Silence" by Wesley J. Smith (Weekly Standard)
"Pro-Life Leader: Public Being Misled in Terri Schiavo Case" (Crosswalk)
"'Terri's Law' -- How It Passed" (St. Petersburg Times)
"Many recall Schiavo as fight plays out" (Philadelphia Inquirer)
"ACLJ Disappointed with Florida Court Decision" (American Center for Law and Justice)



Rail Company Enlists Help From "Mystery" Passenger

OR "Who Was That Masked Wheelchair User?"
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
November 4, 2003

BERKSHIRE, ENGLAND--First Great Western announced last week that it has appointed a Berkshire woman to travel the train network "undercover" to test its facilities for passengers with disabilities.

Kate Green, 26, is described has having "mobility and hearing problems and visual impairments". She will travel as a "mystery shopper" to see how the train system and its 14 stations comply with the rail company's new Disabled Persons Protect Policy. That 24-page policy covers, among other things, accessibility in ticket buying, travel to and within train stations, and restroom facilities.

"Having corresponded with First Great Western on disability issues in the past, I am delighted to be in a position now to gauge what the company is doing well and where it could improve," said Green in a company press release. "The publication of the policy is a real step forward and I will be providing regular feedback to directors and senior managers."

The company noted that it has plans to spend £4 million (about $6.7 million U.S.) to improve accessibility at all of its train stations. The newest fleet of trains already includes a number of accessibility features including high-visibility doors, Braille signs, and buttons to call for assistance installed next to its priority seating, according to a press release.

One wonders, however, how mysterious the "mystery" passenger can be, now that the BBC and other national news services have picked up the story.

Related press release:
"New Disabled Policy and 'Mystery Shopper' for region's rail services" (First Great Western)



Big Man On Campus Gets Homecoming Date With Eight

November 4, 2003

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON--Juanita High School senior Matt Louden, who has worked as the football team's water boy for years, had never been to a homecoming dance.

Never, that is, until this year, when he was asked by no fewer than eight -- count 'em -- eight girls, including four cheerleaders, to be their escort.

"More than any other kid I've taught over 18 years, Matt deserves to go to homecoming," said teacher Pat Leonard. "He's a big part of our school spirit."

When Louden, who has Down syndrome, came to the school two years ago, he immediately let the football coach Mike Pluschke know he wanted a job with the football team.

Since then he has become an important part of the school and the team. Coach Pluschke says Louden is "the guy who gets things done".

"When I got popular was when I got the job on the football team," said Louden, who hopes one day to work at Safeco Field. "My name started traveling around."

Monday's Seattle Times featured a story on Louden and his homecoming dates.

Entire article:
"A Juanita High senior gets to fulfill a dream" (Seattle Times)



New Football Stadium To Be Designed With Wheelchairs In Mind

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
November 4, 2003

GLENDALE, ARIZONA--The designers of the new Arizona Cardinals football stadium have decided not to make just some areas accessible to wheelchair users.

Instead, they have decided to make the entire stadium accessible to wheelchair users.

The Accessibility Advisory Committee of the Tourism and Sports Authority is addressing a number of issues that fans in wheelchairs experience at other stadiums.

Brad Parker, a spokesperson for the Tourism and Sports Authority, said that the designers are including 34-inch high countertops in restrooms and concession stands, unobstructed views at a 48-inch height of the playing field and scoreboards from every section of the stadium, an increase in the number of "family" restrooms, and suite bars set back so wheelchair users can move in front of them to view the game. Panel member are also discussing making top-row seats removable so wheelchair users can sit with their families.

According to the Arizona Republic, the advisory committee is made up of citizens and community groups and has representatives from the sports authority, the Arizona Cardinals, the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, Hunt Construction, HOK Sport and the City of Glendale.

The stadium is expected to open in August 2006 and host Super Bowl XLII in January 2008.



"Law For Disabled Has Its Champions And Critics"

November 4, 2003

TRENTON, NEW JERSEY--The following four paragraphs are excerpts from a story found in the Princeton Packet:

Last Sunday, Gov. James E. McGreevey signed Danielle's Law, which requires caregivers for persons with developmental disabilities to call 911 in life- threatening emergencies. According to the governor, the law will be a voice for "those who cannot always speak for themselves."

Danielle Gruskowski was a 32-year-old with autism-like Rett Syndrome who lived at a group home run by Edison-based Spectrum for Living. She died last November after Spectrum staff reportedly failed to call 911 when her body temperature rose to 105 degrees, instead giving her Tylenol. By the time she was driven to a doctor's office, she could not be revived and was later pronounced dead.

Under Danielle's Law, penalties for failure to make a necessary call are $5,000 for the first incident, $10,000 for the second and $25,000 for the third, the governor's office said.

Advocates for the new legislation said it's about time.

Entire article:
"Law for disabled has its champions and critics" (Princeton Packet)
[Note: The article ends with an opportunity for readers to give their comments.]



The DRM WebWatcher: Abuse of People with Disabilities

People with disabilities are often more vulnerable to abuse and neglect than the general population. These sites deal with some of the issues involved.



Quote worth noting:
"Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person."
--Mother Teresa


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