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.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004
Year V, Edition 884

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 37 more news items.

"I don't want to see a parking situation where someone with a disability and a pregnant woman pull up and it's like, well, who gets to have it?"

--Helen Grieco, executive director of California's chapter of the National Organization for Women, talking about a proposal that would give pregnant women placards allowing them to park in spaces reserved for people with disabilities (Second story)

"The evidence was strong enough in the late '60s to abandon the facility model."
--Donald Stewart, project manager with Arc of Massachusetts, commenting on their continuing efforts to close Fernald Development Center, the oldest institution housing people with developmental disabilities in the Western Hemisphere (First story)



One Year Later, Community Supporters Continue Push To Close Fernald

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
February 25, 2004

WALTHAM, MASSACHUSETTS--Tax-payers and people housed at the 156-year-old Fernald Development Center are not getting their money's worth.

That's the message from the Arc Massachusetts and the Greater Waltham Association for Retarded Citizens.

The Arc and other advocacy organizations have been pushing since the early 1990's for the state to close its six institutions housing a total of about 1,100 people with developmental disabilities, in favor of community-based services. They have pointed to an ongoing record of human rights violations in the facilities, along with evidence that people thrive in the community.

"The evidence was strong enough in the late '60s to abandon the facility model," Donald Stewart, an Arc project manager, told the Daily News Tribune on Tuesday.

One year ago today, Governor Mitt Romney announced that Fernald -- the oldest publicly-funded institution housing people with developmental disabilities in the Western Hemisphere -- was to be closed by October 2004 and its 302 residents moved to the other state-run facilities or into homes in the community. The governor hinted that closing Fernald was just the first step in de-institutionalizing the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

One year later, just 18 people have been moved -- most of those transferred to other institutions.

Fernald employees and parents of institution residents have enlisted local support to slow down the closure. Some want other groups to agree on a plan to build a segregated "community" on the current 190-acre campus.

GWARC Executive Director Carole Tagg said the parents' arguments -- that services in the community cannot be provided at the level of quality in the institution -- simply are not justified.

"We can do that, and we have done it," she said.

Fernald Development Center, originally called the "Massachusetts School for the Feeble Minded", was founded by social reformer Samuel Gridley Howe in 1848.

"Shutdown of Fernald advocated: Groups say residents would be better off elsewhere" (Daily News Tribune)
"Fernald Developmental Center -- Oldest Institution In the Americas" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)



Proposed Pregnancy Parking Placards Pooh-poohed

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
February 25, 2004

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA--Assemblyman Tony Strickland was just trying to "make life easier for everybody". Instead, he has put himself at the center of a battle over accessible parking.

Two weeks ago, the Republican lawmaker introduced a bill in the state Legislature that would allow pregnant women to park in spaces designated for people with disabilities.

Assembly Bill 1947 would direct the Department of Motor Vehicles to issue specially-colored parking placards to any woman who can produce a doctor's note showing she is in the third trimester of her pregnancy.

Strickland's proposal has been criticized from several sides.

Disability rights groups are worried that the new permits would make people with disabilities compete against 500,000 pregnant Californians each year for parking that is already limited.

"I'm not against mothers-to-be," said Ramona Garcia, chair of the governing board of Resources for Independent Living in Sacramento and Yolo counties. "But given the resources we have, it's a concern."

Women's groups, on the other hand, are worried that the move would send the subtle message that being pregnant is a form of disability.

Helen Grieco, executive director of California's chapter of the National Organization for Women noted that many pregnant women live very active lives right up until they deliver their babies.

"Fundamentally, pregnancy is not a disability, it's a very normal function in a woman's reproductive life," Grieco told the Modesto Bee last week.

"I don't want to see a parking situation where someone with a disability and a pregnant woman pull up and it's like, well, who gets to have it?" she added.

Under current California law, pregnant women can get a temporary parking placard if a doctor determines that their pregnancy limits their mobility to a significant degree.

"I don't want to pit disabled people against pregnant women," said Rep. Strickland, who has suggested that businesses might want to add more spaces to accommodate pregnant women. "I want to see how we can make life easier for everybody."



Fircrest Residents Move After Judge Lifts Restraining Order

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
February 25, 2004

SHORELINE, WASHINGTON--Four residents from Fircrest School moved Wednesday to Rainier School in Buckley.

The transfer came one day after a judge lifted a temporary restraining order that had been imposed just four days earlier.

Without comment, King County Superior Court Judge Julie A. Spector dissolved the restraining order issued by Judge Terence P. Lukens last Friday, the Associated Press reported.

Judge Lukens had granted the restraining order after a group of guardians, who don't want Fircrest's 250 residents moved, convinced him that the residents were vulnerable adults in an emergency situation.

The four who were transferred Wednesday had originally been scheduled to move on Monday. A few more were set to move by the end of this week.

This coming Friday, a hearing is scheduled on the lawsuit filed by the Friends of Fircrest, the pro-institution group which challenges the legality of Washington's plan to downsize and eventually close the residential habilitation center (RHC) housing people with developmental disabilities.

During the last legislative session, lawmakers looked at closing Fircrest and consolidating services to save the state money, in part because the 87-acre campus is valued at around $30 million. The Legislature finally settled on a plan to move 60 residents by June 2005, and to have the state prepare for its eventual closure at a later date.

Governor Gary Locke further ordered DSHS to transfer more than 30 of those residents by the end of March, 2004.

DSHS recently adopted an emergency rule that would allow the department to move residents from Fircrest without waiting for them or their guardians to appeal.

A group of demonstrators showed up at Fircrest to protest Wednesday's moves.

"Washington State's Institutions: Fircrest School" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)



Tele-Conferencing Puts Distant Sign Language Interpreters In Hospital Rooms

February 25, 2004

PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA--A Pittsburgh company is putting American Sign Language interpreters in hospitals -- one video screen at a time.

Deaf-Talk LLC started four years ago with the idea of helping hospital staffs communicate better and more quickly with patients that are deaf or hard of hearing.

Hospitals in the United States are required to provide interpreters under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

But waiting for one to arrive can cost valuable time when an emergency room doctor needs to get critical information from a patient.

Deaf-Talk allows hospitals to link up almost immediately to certified interpreters through video tele-conferencing -- 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

"Every family is anxious and concerned when they're in the ER, but it's especially frustrating when a parent can't communicate with the staff," said Karen Christman, whose Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh is one of 150 hospitals nation-wide that uses Deaf-Talk's services.

"When you see how the parents' discomfort and anxiety are lifted, you realize the service is worth it."

"Hospitals, Deaf Connect With Video Phones" (Associated Press via Yahoo! News)
Deaf-Talk: Audio Visual Interpreting Service On Demand



"People With Disabilities Bring Abilities To Work"

February 25, 2004

YORK, ONTARIO--The following four paragraphs are excerpts from a story from Wednesday's community news:

Miguel Aguayo is the senior human resources consultant for CIBC.

He is also deaf.

Mr. Aguayo has an important message for employers: if you do not consider people with disabilities as potential employees, you are missing out.

"If you have invested in the person, given them challenging work, they will stay with you ... If they have the knowledge and experience, they will rise through the ranks. Look where I am."

Entire article:
"People with disabilities bring abilities to work" (



Social Role Valorization (SRV)

Social Role Valorization (SRV) is a high-level service and relationship theory based on empirical knowledge for the design and rendering of both formal and informal services and relationships to any kind of people with any kind of need or condition, but especially those who are devalued or at risk there of.


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

MRDD Boss Apologizes for $150,000 Mistake

February 25, 2000
LEBANON, OHIO--Last February, Harry Montgomery bought a four-bedroom house for $98,160. A month later he sold it for $178, 500.

That fall, Merdia LeMaster bought a three-bedroom house for $98,500, which she sold in December for $173,500.

Not too shabby -- for them anyway.

Montgomery and LeMaster sold their newly acquired residences to the same buyer -- the Warren County Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities agency.

The Cincinnati Enquirer reported today that county commissioners and taxpayers are now demanding an answer as to why the agency over spent the $156,000 which they say could have been used to help 104 families in the county.

"There is no way to rationalize it," said MRDD Superintendent Charlotte Marinacci at a meeting last night.

"It was a mistake."

Entire article:
"MRDD boss apologizes for $150,000 'mistake'" (Cincinnati Enquirer)


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