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

Monday, November 10, 2003
Year IV, Edition 174

This front page features 9 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.

"For so many years I had to go to the back because I'm black; now I have to go to the back because I have a disability."

--Sylvia Jacobs, a professor of African history who uses a motorized scooter, talking to a university chancellor about the lack of accessibility at North Carolina Central University (Fourth story)

"Until and unless the question of discrimination is entrenched in the Constitution, we shall be paying lip service to rights and dignity of the physically challenged."
--Mirugi Kariuki, addressing Kenya's Parliament which is in the process this week of adopting a Persons with Disabilities Bill (Second story)



Florida House Speaker Sides With Gov. Bush In Terri Schiavo Case

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
November 10, 2003

TAMPA, FLORIDA--Johnnie Byrd, Speaker of the Florida House, has asked Pinellas County Circuit Court Judge W. Douglas Baird for permission to defend the law which gave Governor Jeb Bush the authority to order Terri Schiavo's feeding tube reinserted on October 21, six days after it had been removed under the same court's order.

Byrd asked for permission to intervene through an amicus ("friend of the court") brief in the suit Michael Schiavo and the American Civil Liberties Union have filed against the governor. The suit claims that the legislature and governor did not have the constitutional authority to overturn the courts' previous rulings which gave Mr. Schiavo permission to have Terri's gastronomy tube removed. Mr. Schiavo, who is Terri's husband and guardian, successfully fought through the courts for permission to remove the feeding tube that has kept his wife alive, according to what he said would have been her wishes.

In his brief filed Monday, Byrd argued that the Florida legislature has the authority to change state laws even if they alter previous court rulings.

"The legislature's role in establishing public policy is paramount and its role in regulating the actions of the other branches is significant," the brief said.

The Speaker also argued that the legislature gave the governor guardianship responsibilities which made it legal for him to act on Terri's behalf.

Terri, 39, collapsed in February 1990 and her brain was without oxygen for several minutes. Since then she has been breathing and regulating her blood pressure on her own, but has been given food and water through the feeding tube installed in her stomach.

The courts have accepted doctors' testimony that Terri has since been in a "persistent vegetative state", in which she cannot feel 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". Circuit Court Judge George Greer gave him permission to have Terri's feeding tube removed on October 15.

Disability rights advocates and right-to-die supporters flooded the offices of the governor and legislators with over 100,000 messages expressing outrage over Terri's starvation. The governor called a special session for the legislature to pass "Terri's Law", which gave him permission to have the feeding tube reinserted, and for an independent guardian to review her circumstances.

Terri's parents, Robert and Mary Schindler, claim that their daughter laughs at jokes, turns her head, smiles, cries, tries to sit up and talk to them. This summer, they released video clips that show Terri apparently responding to them and even following a balloon across the room with her eyes.

Critics have said that Terri's actions recorded in the video were simply reflex actions and that she has no consistent brain activity.

The Schindlers have affidavits from dozens of medical professionals testifying that Terri may not be in a vegetative condition and that she might improve if her husband would allow her to undergo the rehabilitative therapies which he has refused for more than 10 years. The Schindlers have filed a suit demanding that Mr. Schiavo be removed as Terri's guardian and accusing him of abusing and neglecting his wife. They also claim that he has a number of conflicts of interest, including a live-in relationship with another woman with whom he has fathered two children.

Disability rights advocates have been watching Terri's situation closely for several years. Many note that people with disabilities such as Terri's are condemned to die because others believe they are "better off dead".

The groups have also been frustrated at the popular media's portrayal of Terri as being "comatose" or "brain dead". Most reporters still do not understand that her case involves disability issues -- especially a person's right to live -- rather than a "right-to-die" case as has been presented by Terri's husband.

Related articles:
"Trapped between life & death" (New York Daily News)
"Terri Schiavo's parents discuss their pain, heartache & resolve" (Baptist Press News)
"Terri and Terry: The difficulty of defining a coma" (Associated Press via Lakeland Ledger)
"Schiavo tapes: snippets, then not much" (St. Petersburg Times)
IDE Archives "Terri Schiavo's Right To Live"
Terri Schindler-Schiavo Foundation



Kenya Will Have New Disability Law

November 10, 2003

NAIROBI, KENYA--Kenya's Parliament is expected to pass a national Persons with Disabilities Bill Tuesday which would guarantee basic civil rights and fight discrimination, The Nation news service reported.

The proposed law would establish a National Council for Persons with Disability with 27 members, 20 of whom must have a disability. The panel would be charged with developing policies to ensure rights of people with disabilities and to advise the government on ways to prevent discrimination.

The measure, which was debated in Parliament for most of last week, will likely go through some changes before it becomes law.

Several MPs (Members of Parliament) and disability groups want the measure to concentrate on guaranteeing rights to education, medical care, employment, financial resources, architectural accessibility, legal assistance and technologies to help them become more independent.

One lawmaker commented that because Kenya has had so few resources for people with disabilities in the past, the country is in a unique position to build services that will best serve them from the start.

In a discussion about requiring government agencies to hire a certain percentage of their employees with disabilities, Moses Wetangula cautioned against creating "enclaves of such workers".

"As we create facilities for the disabled, the cardinal point must be to make them feel they are part and parcel of the society," Wetangula said.

Related article:
"Bill Promises Package of Gains for Disabled People" (The Nation)



Asian Countries To Develop Standards For Universal Design

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
November 10, 2003

TOKYO, JAPAN--Three Asian countries are teaming up to develop a set of standards to make products and services user-friendly for people with and without disabilities.

Japan, China and South Korea plan to compile "universal design" standards over the next year with the intention of eventually having them adopted around the world.

According to the Asahi Shimbun news service, representatives from the three countries will meet for the first time next spring in Tokyo.

Japan will propose standards on universal design of containers and wrappings of household products.

China is expected to propose standards for signs in public facilities, such as restrooms and elevators. Beijing, China, is slated to host the 2008 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The countries are considering asking the International Organization for Standardization to adopt the new guidelines once they have been written.



"Disabled Students See Irony At NCCU"

November 10, 2003

DURHAM, NORTH CAROLINA--The following five paragraphs are excerpts from a story in Sunday's Durham Herald-Sun:

Ken Glover and Sylvia Jacobs don't like having to use the back door to enter the Hoey Administration Building at N.C. Central University, but they have no choice.

Both are without the use of their legs, and both see the irony of their restricted access on a campus with NCCU's history.

One day, former NCCU Chancellor Julius Chambers asked Jacobs, an African history professor who uses a scooter to get around campus, why she never came to visit his office in the Hoey building. Jacobs asked him if the building was accessible for her.

"He said, 'yes there's a ramp in the back,'" Jacobs said in recalling the story.

"I said to him, 'You're a civil rights attorney. For so many years I had to go to the back because I'm black; now I have to go to the back because I have a disability.' "

Entire article:
"Disabled students see irony at NCCU" (Herald-Sun)



Fertility Clinic Refused To Serve Blind Woman Because Of Her Disability, Suit Claims

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
November 10, 2003

DENVER, COLORADO--The Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition is suing a fertility clinic, claiming that it discriminated against a blind woman when it refused to help her become a mother.

Kijuana Chambers claimed that she went to the Rocky Mountain Women's Health Care Center three times in 1999 to receive artificial insemination. The last time she went to the clinic, however, she was told that it was not safe for her to parent a child because of her disability.

"The doctor treated me like I wanted a new doll for Christmas," Chambers said. "I had spent two years thinking about this before I made the decision to have a child."

Chris Miller, the clinic's attorney, said Chambers was not denied services because of her disability but because she lied.

"When Ms. Chambers first was seen at the center over four years ago, she reported having a partner and support in helping care for a child," Miller said in a statement. "Over the next few months she demonstrated behaviors that caused concern about her ability to safely care for a child."

Miller said Chambers later disclosed that she had nobody to help take care of a child.

"As a result, the center believed ethically and morally that further treatment should be delayed until Ms. Chambers was able to provide assurances that she could safely care for a child alone," Miller said.

Chambers' attorneys said Friday that Miller's statements simply prove their point that the clinic discriminated against her. They are seeking unspecified monetary damages.

"A sighted person would not have been asked the same questions," said co-counsel Scott LaBarre.

Chambers, 33, gave birth to a daughter in January 2001, after she found another clinic to do the procedure.



Memphis New Freedom Initiative Conference Is Pilot For Similar Events

November 10, 2003

MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE--This week, Memphis will host the New Freedom Initiative Conference, which is designed to help businesses include employees with disabilities in the workforce.

The conference is considered a pilot for similar events that will be held across the country.

Organizers told the Memphis Commercial Appeal that the conference has multiple objectives, including increasing awareness of the abilities of people with disabilities, along with decreasing the misconceptions that many employers have about hiring such workers.

Related article:
"Memphis host of disability summit; Goal is getting handicapped into workforce" (Memphis Commercial Appeal)



Historic Asylums: America's Vanishing Historic Asylums, State Hospitals, Sanitariums, County Homes, Medical Hospitals, and Other Institutions.

This site's focus on architectural preservation is not intended in any way to be taken as support of institutionalization in general, or as a current or new use for these buildings.


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

New Law Allows Immigrant Oath To Be Waived

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
November 9, 2000

WASHINGTON, DC--On Monday, President Clinton signed a law which allows the Attorney General to waive the oath of renunciation and allegiance for naturalization of immigrants who have certain disabilities.

This is good news for the Anaheim, California family of Vijai Rajan, and the 1,000 other immigrants who qualify to become citizens but have disabilities that prevent them from reciting the oath of allegiance.

Vijai, 25, has cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, seizures and Crohn's disease, uses a wheelchair and receives 24-hour care. She cannot recite or raise her hand to take the oath that the INS requires. Officials also believe she cannot understand the oath.

Vijai was born in India and brought to the United States as an infant. When she turned 18, her parents, who both are U.S. citizens, helped her apply for citizenship. But the application and an appeal were denied by Immigration and Naturalization Service officials who cited the "applicant's inability to comprehend the oath of allegiance due to medical certified condition" as the reason for rejecting the case.

Her case got the attention of California Senator Diane Feinstein and Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, who introduced the bill to the Senate in June. A similar bill was introduced into the House. They were approved last month.

The law does not allow a person with disabilities to automatically become a citizen, but does allow the Attorney General to waive the oath requirement.

"Maybe this is God's way of equalizing things," Vijai's father Sunder Rajan told the Associated Press of the bill referred to as S. 2812.

The text of S. 2812 is available on line at this address:


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