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

Friday, February 13, 2004
Year V, Edition 878

Today's 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 35 more news items.

"You can tell by the way she acts, she's happy."

--Carol Sellars, talking about her sister, Robbie, who lives in a Jackson, Tennessee home with two roommates. Robbie moved out of Arlington Developmental Center 15 months ago, and into a neighborhood that tried -- unsuccessfully -- to exclude her and her friends (Fourth story)

"People don't think the handicapped can be married this long."
--Sandra Jones, who this coming weekend will be celebrating her 20th wedding anniversary with her husband, Roger (Fifth story)



Appeals Court Rules With Governor Bush And Schindlers On Key Decisions

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
February 13, 2004

TAMPA, FLORIDA--Governor Jeb Bush, along with Robert and Mary Schindler, scored key legal victories Friday, as a Florida appeals court handed down two decisions regarding Terri Schiavo's right to continue living.

The 2nd District Court of Appeal ruled that the governor's attorneys can interview witnesses in the suit that Michael Schiavo has filed against Bush. Mr. Schiavo sued the governor, claiming that he and the Florida Legislature violated his wife's privacy and overstepped the state's constitutional bounds when they passed "Terri's Law" last October. The measure gave the governor permission to have Terri's feeding tube reinserted six days after it had been removed under a court order.

The decision means that Bush's attorney, Ken Connor, can take testimony from several witnesses, including Mr. Schiavo and the woman he calls his "fiancée" and with whom he has fathered two children.

The appeals court also ordered Pinellas Circuit Court Judge W. Douglas Baird to hold further proceedings to re-examine his decision denying the Schindlers, who are Terri's parents, the right to join Bush in the case. Baird failed to follow judicial rules when he refused to allow the parents to get involved in Mr. Schiavo's suit against the governor, the appellate court said.

The Associated Press reported that the Schindlers' attorney, Pat Anderson, said she was "stunned".

"It's been three years since the law has been followed in this case," Anderson explained.

If Judge Baird rules that the Schindlers can join Bush's side in the case, Anderson would be allowed to file and oppose motions and to question witnesses for them.

Disability rights advocates have been watching Terri's legal battle for several years. Her husband, who is also her guardian, and several doctors claim that she has been in a "persistent vegetative state" since she collapsed and her brain was without oxygen for several minutes in February 1990. The courts have consistently supported Mr. Schiavo's claims that Terri cannot recover from her injury, that she does not feel pain, and that she would not have wanted to live "by artificial means".

Terri's parents believe that she is alert and responsive and that she could improve with therapies which Mr. Schiavo has denied her for at least the past 10 years. They have claimed that Terri's husband wants her to die so that he can remarry, and so he can benefit from what's left of an insurance settlement that now pays for her treatment. The Schindlers want him removed as Terri's guardian and have pushed for an investigation into their allegations that he has abused, neglected and financially exploited her. They also suspect that Michael may have caused Terri's initial collapse.

The Schindlers and advocates have defended Terri's right to live, noting that allowing her to die by starvation would reinforce the message that the lives of people with certain disabilities are not worth living. With their urging and that of right-to-life advocates, Governor Bush championed the measure that allowed the legislature to give him permission to order Terri's feeding tube reinserted to save her life.

"Terri Schiavo's Right To Live" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)
Terri Schindler-Schiavo Foundation



Macy's Stores To Widen Aisles Under Settlement

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
February 13, 2004

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA--Shoppers who use wheelchairs and motorized scooters will be able to navigate the aisles more easily at 75 Macy's stores across California, now that a 1996 class-action suit has been settled.

Macy's agreed Thursday to widen 80 to 90 percent of its store aisles to 32 inches and expand the clearance around hard-edged fixtures to 36 inches within the next three years. Macy's also agreed to pay nearly $300,000 in attorneys' fees.

Customers with disabilities and disability rights advocates filed the suit claiming that Macy's violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by not removing barriers to access. A partial settlement two years ago required the department store chain to widen entrances, fitting rooms and restrooms. Macy's was required to pay nearly $3 million to customers with disabilities who had shopped at their stores since 1995.

Aisle width at Macy's was the last issue to be resolved under the original suit.

"This opens up department stores to a lot of people who have been foreclosed," said attorney Laurence Paradis, executive director of Disability Rights Access in Oakland.

Robert Mettler, chairman and CEO of Macy's West, said in a statement that the company "will maintain a store environment that is open, accessible and welcoming to everyone, including our customers with disabilities."

The settlement agreement is subject to final approval by a federal judge in San Francisco.



American Sign Language Fastest Growing "Foreign Language"

February 13, 2004

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA--According to a brief article in Friday's, American Sign Language is the fastest growing "foreign language" taught in U.S. colleges and universities.

A 2002 survey revealed that ASL classes have been introduced to 168 colleges and universities since 1998. Currently, there are 234 higher-education institutions offering ASL courses to more than 60,000 students across the country.

Despite the growing national trend, several universities have decided not to offer such courses.

One of those is the University of North Carolina in Charlotte.

UNC officials cited a dramatic increase in interest in other foreign languages over the past couple of years, along with a lack of demand for ASL courses.

Entire article:
"American Sign Language courses grow in popularity" (



Neighborhood Association Faulted For Discrimination

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
February 13, 2004

JACKSON, TENNESSEE--Community living advocates hope that a recent settlement in Jackson sends a message to neighborhood associations across the country that it is illegal to exclude people with disabilities.

The case involved three women with developmental disabilities who now live in a home in a Jackson neighborhood. The women, all in their 40s, used to be housed at Arlington Developmental Center, but moved out as the institution down-sized. All three have family in and around Jackson.

The day before the women were to move into their new home in October 2002, the Bethany Area Neighborhood Association of Jackson gained a temporary restraining order after it argued that the home would violate the neighborhood association's covenant restrictions about single-family residences. The restraining order was soon dismissed, and the women moved in shortly afterward.

In April 2003, St. John's Community Services-Tennessee, which provides services for the women, sued the neighborhood association claiming it had violated the U.S. Fair Housing Act and the Tennessee Human Rights Act. According to the Jackson Sun, St. John's alleged that the neighborhood association prevented the non-profit agency from aiding and encouraging the three women in exercising their right to fair and equal housing.

Last month, a U.S. District Court judge ordered the neighborhood association and five of its members to pay $20,000 and write a letter of apology.

"I hope it keeps other families from having to go through it," said Carol Sellars, whose sister, Robbie Duncan, lives in the house. "It was disheartening. It was just ignorance. None of the three ladies were going to be a danger."

Of her sister's new living arrangement, Sellars said: "You can tell by the way she acts, she's happy."

Related article:
"Search for fair housing ends" (Jackson Sun)



"Love Without Boundaries"

February 13, 2004

GILROY, CALIFORNIA--The following five paragraphs are excerpts from a story that ran in Friday's Gilroy Dispatch:

In many ways, Roger and Sandra Jones are just like any other married couple. In many other ways, they're not.

"He does most of the cooking," Sandra said, "and I clean up most of the time."

Roger and Sandra spent the whole day handing out invitations to their 20th wedding anniversary celebration next weekend at their home at Wagon Wheel Mobile Estates.

And while a 20-year anniversary may seem somewhat commonplace, the Jones' relationship beat the odds. That's because both Roger and Sandra are handicapped. According to Sandra, most people like her and her husband never get married or don't live long enough to ever reach such a milestone.

"People don't think the handicapped can be married this long," she said.

Entire article:
"Love without boundaries" (Gilroy Dispatch)



Ability Online Support Network

A computer network designed to enhance the lives of children and youth with disabilities or illness by providing an online community of friendship and support.


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

The Complete Picture of Self-Determination

February 13, 2001

PARKSVILLE, BRITISH COLUMBIA--In an essay written last month entitled "Supporting Self-Determination with Integrity", Dave and Faye Wetherow look at the term "self-determination" as it relates to people with disabilities, and how we need to make sure we do not lose sight of the principles behind it.

"We are beginning to see some indications that the bare language of Self-Determination -- 'autonomy, choice, freedom, and responsibility' -- may fail to convey the importance of engagement, companionship, contribution, and affiliation."

If we focus only on the term "self-determination" we run the risk of allowing it to become just a new, more politically-correct name for an old way of doing things. It is only through taking the time to learn about the person, to listen openly and attentively, that we can really help guide -- but not direct -- the person along their own path.

This excellent article attempts to have us back up and re-focus on the complete picture, of which self-determination is only a part.

Entire article:
"Supporting Self-Determination with Integrity" by Dave & Faye Wetherow (Community Works)


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