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

Tuesday, December 23, 2003
Year V, Edition 848

This front page features 7 news and information items, each preceded by a number (#) symbol.
Click on the"Below the Fold" link at the bottom of this page for 39 more news items.

"Our goal is all children all together all the time. This addresses the issue of segregation. It's a civil-rights issue."

--Massaro-Mundt, who is helping to promote inclusive education in Michigan schools (Second story)

"As individuals, we must commit to the idea that people with disabilities share the same rights, dreams and hopes we all do, especially at this time of year."
--Steve Cook, director of Indiana's Division of Disability, Aging and Rehabilitative Services, in an opinion piece for the South Bend Tribune (First story)



More People With Developmental Disabilities Celebrate At Home

December 23, 2003

SOUTH BEND, INDIANA--Thousands of people with developmental disabilities across the country will either spend the holidays inside institutional facilities, or will have to return to them once the festivities are over.

However, thousands more will celebrate the holiday season in their own homes than did just a decade ago because of the movement toward community living and the downsizing or closure of dozens of institutions.

Steve Cook, the director of Indiana's Division of Disability, Aging and Rehabilitative Services, wrote in a guest opinion piece for Tuesday's South Bend Tribune that this movement toward community living is "both a victory and a right for people with developmental disabilities -- a fundamental right affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1999".

Cook cited an Indiana University Institute on Disability and Community study, which revealed that people with disabilities thrive when they live in the community: "The results show that nearly 90 percent of the families of former residents of Muscatatuck State Developmental Center who were surveyed say their loved ones are more satisfied living in the community. Almost none were worried about quality of life in the community."

Cook pointed out that more than 8,000 Hoosiers with developmental disabilities currently live in community settings.

"As individuals, we must commit to the idea that people with disabilities share the same rights, dreams and hopes we all do, especially at this time of year," he wrote.

"People with disabilities are returning home" (South Bend Tribune)
"Trouble with Indiana's institutions" (IDE Archives)



"School Districts Strive To Include All Students"

December 23, 2003

PORT HURON, MICHIGAN-The following five paragraphs are excerpts from a story about inclusive education in Tuesday's Port Huron Times Herald:

Marie Kruckenberg hoped her two children, born one year apart, would be able to attend the same school.

She wasn't sure how easy that would be because her daughter, Dana, has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair. Now, Dana is in fourth grade and is part of the class at Pine River Elementary School in East China Township.

Thursday was the class Christmas party, and Dana not only took part in the festivities, she was a member of the planning committee.

"They've grown up with her, known her since kindergarten," said teacher Shirley Matusko, as she watched Dana try to pin the nose on the snowman. "To them, she's just Dana."

Karen Massaro-Mundt, an advocate for special-needs children in St. Clair County, is trying to make Dana's experience possible for all students in the county -- a concept called inclusion.

Entire article:
"School districts strive to include all students" (Times Herald)



Judge Ready To Rule On "Terri's Law"

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
December 23, 2003

TAMPA, FLORIDA--Pinellas Circuit Court Judge W. Douglas Baird said Tuesday that he is ready to rule on whether the law keeping Terri Schiavo alive is unconstitutional.

Baird did not say which way he would rule on the constitutionality of "Terri's Law", but indicated that he had enough facts to do so without a trial. Governor Jeb Bush and the parents of Terri Schiavo had hoped for a jury to hear the case.

The judge will have to wait, however, until appeals filed by Bush are settled before he can issue his ruling. One of those appeals centers around whether Michael Schiavo should have challenged the new law in Pinellas County, where Terri lives in a hospice, or in Tallahassee, the state capital.

If the 2nd District Court of Appeal rules in favor of Bush, Baird's decision -- whichever way he may rule -- could have little consequence.

Terri collapsed in February 1990 at the age of 26 from what doctors have said was a heart attack. Her brain was without oxygen for several minutes. She came out of a coma a short time later but has been in what some doctors consider a "persistent vegetative state" from which they say she will not recover. She breathes on her own and regulates her own blood pressure, but currently relies on a gastronomy tube installed through the wall of her stomach to provide food and water.

Her husband, who is also her guardian, claims that Terri told him she would not want to live "by artificial means". He was given permission by the court on October 15 to have the feeding tube removed.

Terri's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, have fought Michael Schiavo in court to keep their daughter alive. They believe that Terri is alert, that she responds to them and tries to communicate. They have affidavits from a number of medical professionals who agree and say that Terri would benefit from rehabilitative therapies which Michael has refused.

Disability rights and right to life advocates put pressure on Governor Bush to intervene in the case this fall, including flooding his office with tens of thousands of messages. Bush then pushed the Florida Legislature to pass the law which gave him authority to have Terri's feeding tube reinserted six days after it had been removed.

Michael Schiavo sued the governor arguing that "Terri's Law" violated her right to privacy and the state constitution's separation of powers.

Attorneys for the governor said Tuesday that they expect Baird to rule against Bush -- because of previous comments he made -- and that they plan to take the case to the Florida Supreme Court if necessary.

On Friday, Bush learned that a judge had dismissed the temporary guardian appointed through Terri's Law to represent her interests. Chief Circuit Judge David A Demers in St. Petersburg had discharged Jay Wolfson on December 17.

Wolfson, a lawyer and University of South Florida professor, had been selected by the court in late October to investigate Terri's situation and report back to the court and the governor with his findings. Wolfson reported earlier this month that, while there was no medical evidence Terri would fully recover from her disability, tests should be done to determine if she learn to swallow and eat on her own.

Demers said in his order that Wolfson had completed the task assigned to him and was no longer needed.

"The governor is disappointed," said Bush spokesperson Jacob DiPietre, who added that the governor's lawyers were working on a request to reinstate Wolfson.

Terri's parents have wanted an independent guardian appointed to oversee her medical care. They believe that Michael Schiavo's role presents a conflict of interest because he stands to gain what's left of an insurance settlement once Terri dies, he is engaged to a women with whom he has fathered two children, and he may have brought about Terri's injury in the first place. They have pushed for an investigation into their claims that Michael Schiavo has abused his wife and exploited her resources -- resources which he was supposed to have used for her care and treatment.

Terri's case has been of interest to disability rights advocates for a number of years. Many believe that allowing Terri to die of starvation would send a message to others that it is acceptable to kill people with certain disabilities who cannot speak for themselves.

Judge ready to rule in Schiavo case; Bush lawyers predict defeat (Associated Press via Bradenton Herald)
"Terri Schiavo's Right To Live" (IDE Archives)
Terri Schindler-Schiavo Foundation



U.S. Soldiers Bond With Children At Iraqi Orphanage

December 23, 2003

BAGHDAD, IRAQ--Monday's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published a story about U.S. soldiers who volunteer their time at an orphanage in Baghdad.

Members of the Wisconsin Army National Guard 32nd Military Police Company stop twice a week at the Missionaries of Charity of Mother Teresa Dar Al Mahabha Orphanage. There they feed, hold and cuddle the 23 children with disabilities.

"When we get frustrated because people are shooting at us, bombing us, the tendency is to think - why are we doing this?" said unit commander Capt. Scott Southworth. "But then I go to the orphanage and I know it's worth every minute to us to make sure they have a safe place."

"The children are happy to see them," said the head of the orphanage. "They love the extra attention, and they love to be held."

Entire article:
"A place for love in a time of war" (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
"Disabilities And The 'War On Terror'" (IDE Archives)



The States' Response to the Olmstead Decision: How Are States Complying? (National Conference of State Legislatures)

This report categorizes current Olmstead implementation activities, including legislative initiatives, structural changes and implementation barriers, and analyzes Olmstead plans that were released in 2002.



Quote worth noting:
"The Duke of Cambridge protested that he wasn't arguing against change. He favored it, he said, when there was no alternative."
-- Source unknown


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