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.

Thursday, February 19, 2004
Year V, Edition 880

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 49 more news items.

"The airlines, by taking the money, may not even have realized they are exposing themselves to liability from private lawsuits."

--Barbara Junge, an attorney representing a group of air travelers with disabilities who are suing 10 airlines for discrimination. All of the airlines accepted federal bail-out money following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks (First story)

"No children or no one should be put in an institution just to get help. People should get help in their homes, where their children belong."
--Michael Taylor, testifying on a Maryland House bill that would expand respite care services -- in state-run institutions. Taylor, who spent 30 years in an institution, now lives in his own apartment (Second story)



Passengers Claim 'Rescued' Airlines Still Discriminate

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
February 19, 2004

MIAMI, FLORIDA--A group of 13 air travelers has filed a lawsuit against ten U.S. airlines, claiming that the carriers continue to discriminate against passengers with disabilities in violation of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Miami against American, America West, Continental, Northwest, Trans States and United airlines, Delta Air Lines, the Alaska and Mesa air groups and US Airways.

The airlines named in the suit accepted a total of $3.2 billion in government bail-out funds after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Attorneys representing the passengers in the suit said that accepting the federal money opened up the airlines to private claims under the 1973 law's anti-discrimination provisions.

"The airlines, by taking the money, may not even have realized they are exposing themselves to liability from private lawsuits," said Barbara Junge, an attorney with the firm of de la O & Marko, which represents the passengers.

The suit is a test case, asking the court to force the airlines to make reasonable accommodations in aircraft, facilities and programs and to pay damages for past violations.

Attorneys for the passengers claimed they are subjected to harassment and inconveniences by the airlines because they cannot file individual lawsuits under the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act.

"September 11, 2001 and Beyond: The Impact of the Terror Attacks on People With Disabilities" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)



Lawmakers, Advocates Discuss Facility-Based Respite Care

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
February 19, 2004

OWINGS MILLS, MARYLAND--The state of Maryland desperately needs more respite services to provide a temporary backup for people with developmental disabilities when their usual caregivers are hurt or sick. The state's community-based respite program has a waiting list of 11,653 people, according to the Owings Mills Times.

Lawmakers are currently reviewing a proposal to provide more respite care -- not in the community -- but in the state's four institutions. HB 475 would require the facilities to set aside 4 percent of their total beds for respite services. The length of stay under the bill could not exceed 45 days in one year or 28 consecutive days.

Analysts estimate that opening up 25 beds at the four institutions would cost the state nearly $820,000 during fiscal year 2006. The state currently spends just $700,000 on its community-based respite program.

Opponents note that it costs the state about $70 each day for a person in the community-based program, while it costs about $460 for the same services in an institutional setting. The money to cover the 25 respite beds in the institutions would pay for more than 11,700 days of care in the community.

Some oppose the bill for reasons other than money.

"No children or no one should be put in an institution just to get help," said Michael Taylor, as he testified on the bill last week. "People should get help in their homes, where their children belong."

"(Institutionalization) is bad; I was lonely," said Taylor, who was housed in Rosewood Center for 30 years, but now lives on his own in a Towson apartment. He calls it his "freedom pad."

Related article:
"Bill stirs debate on care for disabled" (Owings Mills Times)



Wheelchair Users Find Courthouse Has "More Obstacles Than The Legal System"

February 19, 2004

AKRON, OHIO--Construction recently began on an addition to the Summit County Courthouse.

But the construction zone has caused people with physical disabilities, especially those using wheelchairs, to follow a maze around and through barriers: heavy doors, steep inclines, inaccessible parking spaces, narrow entry ways, and confusing directions.

"You have to have at least two people with you to get in there," Meg Rubin, whose mother uses a wheelchair, told the Akron Beacon Journal. "If someone in a wheelchair came here by themselves, they'd have an impossible time getting in."

While county officials say that many of the obstacles are "ADA compliant", wheelchair users say the new route isn't very "disability friendly".

"It's really surprising to me that the city would do this when it has made so many strides in improving accessibility," said disability advocate Blaine Denious. "Now what you have are improvements coming at a cost to taxpayers because the people involved failed to talk to people who will use the facility."

Related article:
"Courthouse isn't friendly to some" (Akron Beacon Journal)



Man Given Hut As Accommodation

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
February 19, 2004

LANARK, SCOTLAND--Barbara Cross is upset that her husband, Donnie, will have to sleep in a workmen's hut attached to the back of their home when returns from the hospital within the next few days.

Barbara told the Daily Record that South Lanarkshire Council had the wooden hut lowered into their garden by a crane, then fitted to the back door of their home. The hut is a two-room, 15-foot by 12-foot structure, usually used for temporary living quarters at construction sites. It was painted brown to help it "blend in".

The use of the hut was the council's way to solve the problem of providing a ground-floor bedroom for Donnie, a father of two who has multiple sclerosis.

The couple had requested a separate house, but the council said that was too expensive. Officials later suggested building an extension onto the existing home, but dropped that plan because it also was too costly.

Barbara, who is legally blind, said that Donnie is undergoing treatment at Hairmyres Hospital. A hospital bed is being moved into the new hut for when he comes home. She said she worries that the structure will be too cold because it lacks proper insulation, noting that ice had already formed on the inside of one of the hut's small windows.

"It's freezing," Barbara said. "We'll have to have the heating on 24 hours a day."

"Heating it is going to cost us a fortune and we won't get any help with the bills," she added. "We are both disabled and, although we receive benefits, this will make things harder."

The paper noted Thursday that the council refused to discuss the Cross family's situation.



Wheelchair Users Familiar With "Finer Points" Of Snow Removal

February 19, 2004

PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA--The following four paragraphs are excerpts from an article that ran in Tuesday's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

A hard winter can be particularly frustrating for people with disabilities. Icy sidewalks and curbs piled high with snow are formidable barriers for wheelchair users and others. This winter's snowfalls and freezes have challenged even the best attempts to keep paths clear.

Not surprisingly, the finer points of snow removal are significant to wheelchair users. Even when streets and sidewalks are clear, curbs and curb cuts usually are not. Plows often leave piles of snow at the curb, blocking the path. Buses also need a level space to lower a wheelchair ramp.

The snow-covered curb cut has been the subject of frequent complaints heard this winter at Three Rivers Center for Independent Living, an agency that serves people with disabilities.

"No one seems to know who's responsible for clearing them," said Brenda Dare, a community organizer at the agency.

Entire article:
"Snow, ice create special challenges for those with limited mobility" (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)



Assistive Technology Training Online Project

The Assistive Technology Training Online Project (ATTO) provides information on AT applications that help students with disabilities learn in elementary classrooms.


# EXPRESS EXTRA!!! From the Inclusion Daily Express Archives -- One year ago:


Nick's Crusade Pays Off;
Advocate Vows To Continue Struggle For Others

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
February 19, 2003

MOBILE, ALABAMA--Nick Dupree's two-year campaign has paid off, just a few days before his 21st birthday.

Dupree, a student at Spring Hill College, has a rare form of muscular dystrophy that requires him to use a ventilator and a wheelchair. He also receives in-home nursing care paid through Alabama's Medicaid program.

He started "Nick's Crusade", a public awareness campaign, in March 2001 after he learned that the state would not pay for his in-home care once he turns 21. The state would only pay for him to live in a nursing home. Dupree and his family said that was not an option.

Last week, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson announced that the federal government would approve a new program in Alabama that would continue Medicaid funded in-home services for Dupree and 29 other people in his situation and age group -- including Dupree's 18-year-old brother who has the same form of muscular dystrophy.

Thompson's announcement came after National Public Radio ran an in-depth story on Dupree's situation and a number of disability rights advocates announced they were set to protest in front of the White House.

Dupree, who turns 21 this coming Sunday, said he will continue with "Nick's Crusade" so others who need in-home services can stay out of nursing homes and other facilities.

"I plan to keep working on this the rest of my life to make sure that everyone can be safe and live in their community and not locked away in a faraway nursing home, but be involved in their community," he told the Associated Press.

"A Medicaid Victory -- Ala. Youth Wins Battle to Extend Nursing Care for Disabled" (National Public Radio)

"Nick's Crusade"


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