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.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004
Year V, Edition 902

Today's front page features 9 news and information items, each preceded by a number (#) symbol.
Click on the"Below the Fold" link at the bottom of this page for 41 more news items.

"Reagan probably appreciates the critical value of home care, and wouldn't want cuts that would force thousands of other families to put loved ones into institutions."

--Marty Omoto, commenting on California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposals that would undo a "civil rights act" for people with developmental disabilities which Governor Ronald Reagan signed 35 years ago (Sixth story)

"To me, it's what I think our country's all about."
--Florida voter Dan O'Conner, talking about a judge's ruling which ordered Duvall County to provide accessible voting systems in time for the August 2004 primary elections (Fourth story)



Police Cite "No Reason For Concern" Over Terri Schiavo's Puncture Marks

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
March 30, 2004

CLEARWATER, FLORIDA--Terri Schiavo was rushed to a hospital emergency room Monday night, after nursing home workers reported finding what appeared to be marks made by a small hypodermic needle on her arms.

Terri was returned to the nursing home a few hours later, after toxicology and blood tests found no unauthorized drugs or other substances in her system.

"There is no reason for concern," Clearwater Police spokesman Wayne Shelor said. "Neither my detective who stopped by the scene at the hospital, nor the medical experts found anything that gave them any pause."

Michael Schiavo's attorney, George Felos, said the five small puncture wounds -- four on one arm, and one on the other -- indicated that Terri had been a victim of battery.

"It appears that someone was either trying to inject Terri Schiavo with something or withdraw fluids from her," Felos said. "Even if there was nothing injected in her body, there is certainly evidence of an unpermitted physical contact, a battery on her."

Nursing personnel said they noticed the marks immediately after Terri's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, visited her for 45 minutes.

Mr. Schindler told a local television station that nothing was wrong when he left Terri. He denied inserting a needle into her arms.

George Tragos, an attorney representing the Schindlers, said it was "absurd" to suggest that Terri's parents were responsible for the marks.

"It's just another mean-spirited attack designed to get some judicial advantage," Tragos told the Associated Press.

Mr. Schiavo has ordered that Terri have no visitors until authorities have completed their investigation.

The Schindlers and Michael Schiavo have been waging a legal war over Terri's life for the past six years. While her parents believe she responds to her environment and is alert, her husband believes she has been in a "persistent vegetative state", that she cannot interact with her surroundings, cannot feel pain, and will not recover from her 1990 brain injury. He petitioned the court in 1998 to have her feeding tube removed, claiming that she told him before her injury that she would not have wanted to live "by artificial means".

The courts ordered her feeding tube removed so she would die of starvation and dehydration on October 16, 2003. Governor Jeb Bush, responding to tens of thousands of messages from disability rights advocates and right-to-life supporters, championed "Terri's Law" through the Legislature, giving him permission to have the feeding tube reinserted six days later.

Mr. Schiavo immediately sued the governor, claiming that the law violated Terri's privacy, along with the Florida Constitution. That case is still pending.

On Monday afternoon, Pinellas County Circuit Judge George W. Greer denied the Schindlers' motion seeking to have Mr. Schiavo defend their claims that he is violating a 1996 court order which required him to share medical information about Terri. Schiavo argued that he has shared sufficient information with them through attorneys, which he claimed is the accepted protocol.

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



Inmates With Intellectual Disabilities To Be Served In Community

March 30, 2004

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND--Health Ministry and Corrections Department officials estimate that 40 prison inmates with intellectual disabilities would be moved to psychiatric hospitals or care homes in the community under a new law that takes effect July 1.

The Compulsory Care and Rehabilitation Act was designed to provide specialized support for offenders that have intellectual disabilities -- here defined as having an IQ of about 70 or less and "a significant inability to function independently" -- in the community rather than behind bars. The law will have police, lawyers, Corrections staff and others identify such offenders and divert them out of the criminal justice system.

Time-limited treatment plans will be drawn up, and supports will be provided in supervised community homes or, for those considered a high security risk, a secure unit at a psychiatric hospital.

Lester Mundell, the Health Ministry's disability services chief adviser, told the Dominion Post that people with intellectual disabilities are much more likely to be victims of crime than to be perpetrators.

"Society is at far more risk from the so-called normal members," Mundell said.

Mentally disabled to be diverted from prison (Dominion Post via,2106,2859598a11,00.html



Fire Ant Infestations A Problem In Southern Nursing Homes

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
March 30, 2004

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA--On August 20, 2000, Sheri Renee Herring, a resident of Albert P. Brewer Developmental Center in Mobile, Alabama was rushed to the hospital after, as one doctor described it, being bitten by fire ants "so many times that the bites were too numerous to count".

The 36-year-old Herring -- who has Rett syndrome and is not able to move her limbs, call for help, or even scream -- had been discovered in her bed covered from head to toe with the stinging, poisonous insects at about 5:30 a.m. Officials said she was okay when she was checked just a few hours earlier.

Department of Health investigators later found seven documented incidents of fire ant infestations in the three months prior to the attack on Herring. Staff members had reported finding fire ants on floors, walls, drinking fountains, and in residents' beds.

University of Mississippi researchers are now warning that non-native fire ants are becoming an increasing danger for residents of nursing homes and other institutions. During the past decade, scientists have documented at least six attacks by South American fire ants in nursing homes in Florida, Texas and Mississippi, along with Herring's attack in the neighboring Alabama institution.

At least 4 nursing home residents have died within a week of a fire ant attack, according to a story in Sunday's Associated Press.

"In a sense, this is a wake-up call for the future," said Robin Rockhold, a professor of toxicology and pharmacology at the University of Mississippi Medical School. "We need recognition of the potential for this problem."

Rockhold noted that the patients who were attacked by fire ants had physical or mental disabilities that kept them from moving away or shouting for help.

"Is seven attacks in 10 years a problem? Of course," said Jeff Smokler, spokesman for the American Health Care Association. "One attack is a problem. One is too many."

Experts say that the fast-moving insects -- which have been in the South since the 1930s -- are spreading to the north, east and west.

"Fire Ant Attacks Up in Nursing Homes" (Associated Press via South Florida Sun-Sentinel)
"Trouble in Alabama's Institutions: Albert P. Brewer Developmental Center" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)



Duval County Must Provide Accessible Voting Machines, Judge Orders

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
March 30, 2004

JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA--A federal judge ruled Friday that Duval County election officials are violating the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act by not providing accessible voting machines.

In a decision that was made public Monday, U.S. District Judge Wayne Alley ordered the county to equip 20 percent of its voting precincts with touch-screen machines in time for the August 2004 primary election.

Touch-screen machines allow voters with limited mobility to mark selections by touching large buttons. They are also equipped with voice instructions to help voters that are blind or cannot read. Optical scan systems, however, require voters to fill in small ovals on paper ballots.

Judge Alley pointed out that Jacksonville voters with disabilities have had an equal opportunity to vote, but not an independent one. By having to rely on others to make their selections, voters who are blind or cannot read have not been able to exercise their right to cast a secret ballot.

"To me, it's what I think our country's all about," Dan O'Connor, who has been legally blind for more than a decade, told WJXT-TV.

"The major obstacle of the current system for me is that I have to rely on someone else."

County elections officials have until this Friday to decide whether they will appeal Alley's decision.

In various news reports, officials said that purchasing the estimated 60 touch-screen machines would cost between $180,000 and $250,000, which could present a hardship to the county. Another problem is that the state has not yet certified touch-screen machines that are compatible with the Diebold optical scan system the county currently uses. The new machines will not likely be certified until May at the earliest.



White Paper Pats China On Back For Human Rights Progress

March 30, 2004

BEIJING, CHINA--The government of China did a great deal in 2003 to advance the rights of its citizens with disabilities, according to a human rights white paper published Tuesday by the State Council's Information Office.

A section dealing with issues facing people with disabilities were included in the report, entitled "Progress in China's Human Rights Cause in 2003".

The report noted that the government is working to implement its "Outline of the Tenth Five-Year Plan for the Disabled in China (2001-2005)", which includes "improving the legal system, implementing state programs, mobilizing social forces and providing equal opportunities . . . to give special help to the disabled, establish and gradually improve the system for the protection of human rights of the disabled, encourage them to participate in social life on an equal footing, and share the material and cultural achievements of society."

The white paper went on to boast about the increase in the number of special education schools and specialized programs in "ordinary" schools; specialized employment "entities"; sports programs for athletes with disabilities; and social service programs.

The report cited government statistics which estimated that there are 60 million people with disabilities in China, accounting for about 5 percent of the total population of 1.2 billion.

It should be noted that the United Nations estimated recently that 10 percent of the world's population has disabilities. The U.S. Census in 2000 estimated that over 50 million people in the United States have disabilities, amounting to nearly 20 percent of the nation's 280 million inhabitants.

"Rights and interests of the disabled well protected in China" (People's Daily Online)
"Progress in China's Human Rights Cause in 2003" (Information Office of the State Council of the People's Republic of China)



"Keeping the promise Gov. Reagan made to disabled"

March 30, 2004

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA--The following two paragraphs are excerpts from a brief opinion piece by Marty Omoto, director of the California Disability Community Action Network, for the Sacramento Bee:

Ronald Reagan, now a person with severe disabilities cared for in his own home, probably would not be happy with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposals that would undo the Lanterman Act, the "civil rights act" for people with developmental disabilities that he signed 35 years ago. Reagan probably appreciates the critical value of home care, and wouldn't want cuts that would force thousands of other families to put loved ones into institutions.

The Lanterman Act, authored by a Republican, passed by a Republican-controlled Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Reagan, began a profound transformation of recognizing rights. Now we are witnessing attempts to undo those rights. When light shines on the details, it is simply a brutal attack on children and adults with disabilities.

Entire article:
"Keeping the promise Gov. Reagan made to disabled" by Marty Omoto (Sacramento Bee)



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

Study Shows Families Find Strength In Raising Children With Chronic Illnesses

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
March 29, 2001

NEW YORK, NEW YORK--Researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have found that most parents raising children with chronic illnesses report that, while there are difficulties, their families benefit from the experience.

The researchers surveyed 190 mothers in the Baltimore area raising children with either sickle cell disease, diabetes, cystic fibrosis or moderate to severe asthma.

Eighty percent of the mothers reported that the experience of raising a child with a chronic illness had benefited their families, and 70 percent said their families were actually stronger as a result.

Ninety-eight percent of the mothers noted at least one positive effect on them personally, and 88 percent said they felt better about themselves from having learned to manage their child's illness. As a direct result of caring for their ill children, 21 percent said the family was now closer.

"We as professionals tend to focus on what's wrong and what we can do to help, so this is a reminder that we also need to acknowledge the positive aspects," lead study author Dr. Robin G. Chernoff told Reuters news service.

The study is published in the March-April issue of the medical journal Ambulatory Pediatrics.


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