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

Thursday, December 18, 2003
Year V, Edition 845

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 27 more news items.

"I did not feel this was consistent with my record as an advocate for the developmentally disabled."

--California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, as he withdrew his budget proposal which would have restricted community-based services for people with developmental disabilities (First story)

"All of this stuff is getting awfully good, and it's getting cheap."
--V. Michael Bove, a research scientist at M.I.T.'s Media Lab, talking about some of the new telecommunications products and services for people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing (Fifth story)



Schwarzenegger Reverses Position On Cuts

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
December 18, 2003

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA--A week after disability rights advocates rallied at the state Capitol to protest proposed restrictions to community-based services for Californians with developmental disabilities, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced Wednesday that he has reversed his position.

"I did not feel this was consistent with my record as an advocate for the developmentally disabled," Schwarzenegger said in a statement. "I have dedicated myself to improving their lives, particularly through my work with Special Olympics."

The new governor had proposed limiting services, including respite and recreational activities, to help bridge the multi-billion dollar budget gap. His plan would have meant suspending the Lanterman Developmental Disabilities Services Act -- a 35-year-old law that currently guarantees certain community-based services for about 200,000 people with developmental disabilities -- and establishing waiting lists for services from the state's 10 regional centers.

More than 600 advocates gathered on December 10 to witness the irony as Schwarzenegger had a toddler with cerebral palsy flip a switch to light the Capitol Christmas tree in a public ceremony.

According to the Los Angeles Times, California Assembly Speaker Herb Wesson told Schwarzenegger immediately before the event, "Well, this may be the last extracurricular activity that kid does under your budget cuts."

Governor Couldn't Say Humbug to Handicapped (Los Angeles Times - free registration required),1,3074289.column



Group's Solution To Post-Institution Land-Use: Build "Community" On Fernald Site

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
December 18, 2003

WALTHAM, MASSACHUSETTS--A coalition of three groups wants to settle the question of what to do with 190 acres of state-owned land after Fernald Developmental Center closes, by building a segregated "community" on the site, the Daily News Tribune reported Wednesday.

The solution arrived at by the Fernald Working Group -- which includes members of the Waltham Land Trust, the Waltham League of Women Voters and the Waltham Alliance to Create Housing -- would have many of the 295 current Fernald residents stay on the institution's property in new "community-based" housing.

As it stands now, the plan would receive little support from Governor Mitt Romney, who announced in February that the institution -- considered the oldest facility housing people with developmental disabilities in the Western Hemisphere -- would close by the end of 2004. Romney has pushed for moving the residents into the community to save the state $2.5 million, and as a way to integrate the residents into the general community.

Lawmakers, pressured by Fernald employees, area residents, and family members of institution residents, have tried to block Romney's plan. In the ten months since the governor's announcement, only seven residents have been moved. All of those were transferred to state-operated regional facilities in Massachusetts.

The Working Group's plan would also preserve the aging institution's historic buildings, and encourage small business development on the property.

"This is perhaps the city's largest community resource," said Waltham Land Trust member Inge Uhlir, echoing a justification made by pro-institution groups across the country during the past two decades to keep expensive institutions in operation.

The institution was founded by social reformer Samuel Gridley Howe in 1848. Originally called the "Massachusetts School for the Feeble Minded", the facility was renamed the Walter E. Fernald State School in 1925 after its first resident superintendent.



Former Advocate Now On Other Side Of Legal Fence

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
December 18, 2003

AUSTIN, TEXAS--Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is battling disability rights advocates, arguing that the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act is unconstitutional.

Advocates say that Abbott's position is strange when one considers that the former Texas Supreme Court justice has used a wheelchair for the last 19 years and that he applauded the Texas Civil Rights Project when it settled a lawsuit to make the Supreme Court building accessible to wheelchairs.

"It's ironic and sad, but I stopped trying to understand people's motivations a long time ago," said Jennifer McPhail, an organizer with the grassroots advocacy group ADAPT of Texas. "It just gives you a headache."

Abbott is representing the state in a class-action lawsuit, filed against it by Arc of Texas and Advocacy Inc., over the waiting list for community-based services for people with developmental disabilities. The suit could affect the more than 25,000 people who have waited several years for respite care, group homes and other supports.

The action is one of several that have been filed across the country since July 1999, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in its Olmstead decision that "unnecessarily" forcing people with disabilities into institutions violates the ADA.

"We're talking about basic needs," said Mike Bright, executive director of the Arc of Texas.

Abbott's office is arguing that Congress did not have the authority to apply the ADA to states when it passed the anti-discrimination law. A ruling for Texas could also affect other provisions of the civil rights law when applied to states.



"Right To Die Or Right To Kill?"

December 18, 2003

TAMPA, FLORIDA--The following four paragraphs are excerpts from a column in Thursday's Catholic Herald, about Terri Schiavo's right to continue living:

Many in the media are hailing this as a "right to die" case. They say that Terri is in persistent vegetative state, that she has no hope of meaningful life, and that she should be allowed to die.

But make no mistake — this is most definitely not a right-to-die case. It’s a right-to-kill case. And the stakes are high, not just for Terri, but for all of the vulnerable, disabled people of the world.

This case is not about the right of a terminally ill person to refuse useless life-prolonging treatment. It is about the right of an adulterous, neglectful and possibly abusive husband to sentence his wife to a slow, excruciating death.

If Michael Schiavo prevails, Terri will not be the only victim. The world will become a far more dangerous place for all of those who are disabled and unable to speak for themselves.

Entire article:
"The Schiavo Case: Right to Die or Right to Kill?" (Catholic Herald)
"Judge postpones hearing on Schiavo law" (Associated Press via Sarasota Herald-Tribune)
"Making End-of-Life Decisions" (National Public Radio -- text with links to audio and video clips)
"Terri Schiavo's Right To Live" (IDE Archive Page)
Terri Schindler-Schiavo Foundation



Improved Telecommunications Access For Deaf Users

December 18, 2003

NEW YORK, NEW YORK--Thursday's New York Times featured an article about the growing technology which allows deaf and hard-of-hearing people to communicate more effortlessly over long distances.

High-speed Internet, videophones, PC-based videoconferencing technology and Webcams are some of the new and improving telecommunications products and services that help deaf users "chat" with others who may or may not be deaf.

The second page of the article, which contains links to several relevant resources, may require New York Times registration to access.

Entire article:
"For the Deaf, Communication Without the Wait" (New York Times)



The Mentally and Physically Handicapped: Victims of the Nazi Era (U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum)

This brochure describes the Nazi treatment of handicapped people from 1933-1945.

Soon after Hitler took power, the Nazis formulated policy based on their vision of biologically "pure" population, to create an "Aryan master race." The "Law for the Prevention of Progeny with Hereditary Diseases," proclaimed July 14, 1933, forced the sterilization of all persons who suffered from diseases considered hereditary, such as mental illness (schizophrenia and manic depression), retardation ("congenital feeble-mindedness"), physical deformity, epilepsy, blindness, deafness, and severe alcoholism.



Quote worth noting:
"A team effort is a lot of people doing what I say."

--Michael Winner, British Filmmaker


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