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.

Monday, April 19, 2004
Year V, Edition 916

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.

"I have made some small changes in this society."

--Kang Won-rae, a member of the Korean dance duo "Clone", talking about the contributions he has made to increasing awareness and accessibility since he was injured in a November 2000 traffic accident (Fifth story)

"This is not a matter of philanthropy. It's a matter of creating equality of access to information in the same way others who don't have disabilities get information."
--Ollie Cantos, general counsel and director of programs for the American Association of People with Disabilities, talking about the need for U.S. government websites to be fully accessible to Internet users with disabilities (Second story)



State Drops Disciplinary Actions Against Institution Employees Over Reed Death

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
April 19, 2004

FORT WAYNE, INDIANA--Whoever is responsible for the beating death of John Reed II on June 9, 2002 might never be punished for his murder.

Not only have law enforcement officials been unable to decide who to charge with the crime, but the state administrators overseeing the institution where he was killed have reversed disciplinary actions against those who may have been involved, the Journal Gazette reported Sunday.

Reed, 38, died at Parkview Hospital three days after he was savagely beaten at Fort Wayne Developmental Center where he had been housed for 16 years. Hospital officials said Reed had a torn pancreas, ruptured intestines, a punctured lung, broken ribs, and other internal injuries. A surgeon told Reed's family that the wounds appeared to have been inflicted many times over several days, that they were too severe to be repaired, and that they appeared more like the injuries of an auto accident victim.

The Allen County Coroner's Office declared Reed's death a homicide, saying he died of blunt-force trauma. But investigators have not been able to determine whether he was attacked by another resident or a staff member of the facility.

Either way, somebody who worked at the facility would be ultimately responsible: Because of his history of "aggressive behavior" Reed was required to have 24-hour, one-on-one support.

The institution's superintendent, Dean Mohnke, said that the center had completed its internal review of the events leading up to Reed's death and determined that none of the facility's current employees "could be held culpable for disciplinary action".

The report from the Family and Social Services Administration recommended that the two employees who had been suspended be allowed to return to work after some additional training, and after receiving a total of about $38,000 in back pay. Three employees who had been reassigned to other jobs were also allowed to return to their original duties, but not in the same complex where Reed died.

The internal investigation, which was only to determine what, if any, employee disciplinary actions were in order, did not address the two employees who resigned shortly after Reed's death. Both of those former employees have denied any wrongdoing in the case.

Last July, Allen County Prosecutor Karen Richards said she was frustrated that no witnesses were coming forward, in part, she believed, because they feared being fired. She offered criminal immunity for any witness to step forward with information about the crime and asked the state to guarantee any such employees would still be able to keep their jobs. State officials refused.

At that time, Mohnke defended the policy to not shield witnesses from firing when they have failed to promptly report incidents of abuse -- even if they come forward later with crucial testimony.

Michael Brown Jr, the employee who reportedly discovered Reed in "obvious physical distress" on the morning of his death, said he quit to find another job.

Brown told the Journal Gazette: "I don't know what happened. The staff out there has a bad reputation, but there are really only a few bad apples."

"It wasn't like we were all out there beating the residents."

"State clears 5 in beating death of patient in '02" (Journal Gazette)
"Trouble With Indiana's Institutions" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)



E-Government Initiative Websites Are Not Entirely Accessible, Researchers Find

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
April 19, 2004

WASHINGTON, DC--The Bush administration's web-based e-government initiatives are not entirely accessible to Internet users with disabilities, as required by federal law, according to a study by a technology magazine and a web accessibility services firm.

The study, released Monday, was conducted by SSB Technologies Inc., which sells accessibility software and services, along with the technology magazine Federal Computer Weekly. A representative of the National Federation of the Blind was also involved in evaluating the e-government initiatives, not only to determine if they complied with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, but also to find out if they were usable.

The federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was amended in 1998 to ensure accessibility to information technologies for all Americans. Under Section 508, all information-based products or services used or purchased by the federal government after June 21, 2001 must be universally accessible. This includes fax machines, phones, computers and websites.

The researchers found that not one of these e-government initiative websites were entirely accessible, as required by federal law.

Many agency sites were found to have increased their accessibility over the past few years, and appeared to be following the spirit of the law, the researchers determined.

The problem was in the details: Government website designers seemed to have hit the limit of what they could do with their current level of understanding of accessibility.

"They have made an excellent first pass at 508 and have accomplished a lot, but there are problems that remain," said Chris Henderson, senior accessibility consultant at SSB Technologies. "Those problems seem to be complicated enough that they need to develop some additional expertise."

Researchers also learned that websites which technically comply with the law's accessibility requirements are not necessarily usable by people with disabilities.

"Making government accessible -- online" (Federal Computer Week)
"Accessibility pitfalls" (Federal Computer Week)
"Accessible doesn't mean usable" (Federal Computer Week)
"Accessibility development and evaluation tools" (Federal Computer Week)
EGov: The Official Web Site of the President's E-Government Initiatives
Section 508: The Road to Accessibility



Answers In Renner-Lewis Case May Be Far Away

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
April 19, 2004

KALAMAZOO, MICHIGAN--Resolution in the restraint-related death of Michael Renner-Lewis III may be a long way off yet, according to the Kalamazoo Gazette.

Kalamazoo County Prosecutor James Gregart said early last week that his office has not determined whether criminal charges will be filed in the death of the 15-year-old who had autism. Gregart said he is waiting for a supplemental report from Dr. Richard Tooker, the county's medical examiner, before making his decision.

On Friday, a trial date of April 5, 2005 was set for the $25 million wrongful death lawsuit the teen's family has filed against the school where Michael died.

The 16-page suit was filed last December in U.S. District Court. Michael's family accuses the Parchment School District, Kalamazoo Regional Educational Service Agency and their employees of assault and battery, false arrest and imprisonment, gross negligence and violation of his constitutional rights.

On the first day of school, August 25, 2003, the 6-foot, 165-pound teen died while or after he was restrained on his stomach.

School officials said he had a seizure early in the day. He recovered from the seizure, but soon became "agitated". In an effort to calm him down, four staff members "tried to quiet Michael". Each grabbed one of his limbs and sat down on the floor next to him in a room behind the school auditorium, police said.

A family caregiver arrived to take Michael home, but found him unconscious on the floor. She started giving Michael CPR, but was too late to revive him.

He was pronounced dead at a local hospital early that afternoon.

An initial autopsy report showed "no obvious anatomical causes" of death. At last report, investigators were still waiting for the results of toxicology tests.

School officials have denied many of the family's accusations, and have called for the judge to dismiss the case.

"The Death of Michael Renner-Lewis III" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)



Reckless Scooter Drivers Prompt Safety Forum

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
April 19, 2004

NELSON, NEW ZEALAND--Community members here are organizing a forum on the safe use of mobility scooters, in response to a multitude of reports of near-misses by drivers acting irresponsibly.

Nelson City Council road safety coordinator Margaret Parfitt told the New Zealand Herald that there have been several complaints of scooter riders using the roadway instead of footpaths, and "barreling along supermarket aisles knocking things off shelves."

"It's an unfortunate fact that a small percentage of mobility scooter users are a little irresponsible either intentionally or unintentionally," she said.

Parfitt added that the number of mobility scooters was increasing because of the aging population and the limited public transportation in the area.

The forum, which will be held next month, is being organized by Road Safe Nelson Bays, the city council, occupational therapists and police, along with retailers of scooters and other mobility equipment.

The forum will educate scooter riders and make them aware of the rules of the road and safety issues. Drivers will be encouraged to attach colored flags to their scooters and to drive on footpaths instead of the road.



Dance Musician Says He May Make Comeback, In Wheelchair

April 19, 2004

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA--The following five paragraphs are excerpts from a story in Monday's Korea Herald:

Kang Won-rae, a member of the famous dance duo "Clone," was returning home on his motorbike Nov. 9, 2000, when he was hit by a truck driven by a drunken driver, leaving him totally paralyzed below the waist.

A few months later, the dance musician, whose hit song "Kungddari Shabara" was once a big success even in China, was almost forgotten by his fans. Kang hid himself from the public eye and many only remembered him as an unfortunate guy.

"I could not endure other people's eyes staring at me. When I met somebody outside, I felt everybody around me took pity on me. It was so unbearable. However, I narrowly overcame the complex," Kang said.

But he now looks stable and bright, although he said it took a long time to recover a positive frame of mind. When he was hospitalized right after the accident, Kang felt everybody was gazing at him with pity. So he put a piece of paper on the back of his wheelchair with "Mind Your Own Business" written on it.

However, he recently made a comeback. Two months ago, Kang, now 34, appeared on the KBS1 TV show "Experience the Life" driving a taxi made specially for him. He drove the taxi all day and raised funds to help others with special needs like him.

Entire article:
"No more crying, says disabled musician" (Korea Herald)



Barrier Free Education: Resources for the Inclusion of Students with Disabilities into Math and Science Education

Access to education is a universal right. This simple statement of inclusion is part of the legal requirement of the Americans with Disability Act. More fundamentally, this principle of universal access is an essential standard of an advanced civilization.


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


Guest Saves Neglected Man

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
April 18, 2003

AKRON, OHIO--Jesse Littleton is a hero.

Last month, Littleton moved into a guest room at the house of childhood friend, Justine Davis.

It didn't take long for him to learn about Davis' 25-year-old son, Edgar Vannoy, who was kept in a separate room.

Vannoy, who had experienced a brain injury as an infant, was malnourished and dehydrated. His 92-pound body was covered with sores. He had spent his days and nights with nothing to do, locked in a room smelling of feces and urine.

A short time later, Littleton moved out and telephoned police.

Because of Littleton's call, Justine and her husband, William T. Davis, have been charged with failing to provide for a "functionally-impaired person", a fourth-degree felony, according to the Akron Beacon Journal.

Related article:
"House guest rescues man from squalor" (Beacon Journal)


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