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, April 23, 2004
Year V, Edition 920

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 34 more news items.

"We just want it to be settled very fast."

--Mary Jo Butler, legal director for Idaho's Comprehensive Advocacy Inc., on a suit it filed against the University of Idaho alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (Third story)

"The world seems so much smaller now."
--Pamela Dee, who is deaf and uses text messaging on a cell phone to communicate with her father (Fifth story)



Justice Department Finds Life-Threatening Conditions At Arkansas Institution

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
April 23, 2004

LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS--Conway Human Developmental Center is violating the civil rights of its residents, the U.S. Department of Justice concluded after a 17-month investigation.

In a 50-page letter sent Thursday to Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, U.S. Assistant Attorney General R. Alexander Acosta outlined the findings made by investigators looking into conditions at the facility which houses 550 residents with developmental disabilities ages 11 to 66.

The investigators found "certain conditions at Conway that violate the federal constitutional and statutory rights of residents," Acosta's letter read. "In particular, we find that residents of Conway suffer significant harm or risk of harm from shortcomings in the facilities' health care, habilitative treatment services, restraint practices, and protection from harm policies."

"The investigation found evidence of egregiously deficient, and at times life-threatening medical care, as well as deficient physical and nutritional management and therapy services," the Justice Department said.

Among the allegations in the findings letter is the claim that one resident experienced more than eight separate episodes, during the three months prior to her death, of significant bleeding at the site of her colostomy bag. Conway staff failed to address her bleeding, even though it was sometimes in amounts sufficient enough to spill blood onto her legs and soak her clothing.

The Department also found evidence that a majority of Conway residents suffer from seizure disorders, yet the manner of prescribing anti-convulsant medications at Conway may in some instances have actually worsened their seizure disorders.

Particularly disturbing, wrote Acosta, was the institution's failure to develop an accountable system for investigating resident deaths, particularly in light of the facility’s other identified deficiencies.

The investigation also found that the facility failed to provide adequate special education services to school-aged residents in violation of the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Actual instruction time was extremely limited -- in some cases lasting as little as six minutes a day -- and the content of class instruction was not educational.

Finally, the Department alleged that some Conway residents were not being treated in the most integrated setting appropriate to their individualized needs, as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act. A number of residents have lived at Conway for most of their lives without the state ever making any meaningful attempt to determine whether they could function in a more appropriate setting outside the facility.

Residents who had been deemed ready for community placement, in some cases decades ago, have never been given the chance to move back into the community.

"In the unexpected event that we are unable to reach a resolution regarding our concerns, the Attorney General is empowered to initiate a lawsuit," Acosta concluded in his letter, giving the state 49 days to correct the problems. "We would prefer, however, to resolve this matter by working cooperatively with you."

Letter of findings (Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice)
PDF Format, Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader - free



Schiavo Case To Stay In Pinellas County, Appeals Court Says

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
April 23, 2004

TAMPA, FLORIDA--Michael Schiavo's suit against Governor Jeb Bush over the constitutionality of "Terri's Law" will remain in Pinellas County Court, an appeals court ruled Friday.

The 2nd District Court of Appeal disagreed with the governor's attorneys, who argued that Mr. Schiavo failed to file the suit properly when he chose Tampa instead of Tallahassee. The appeals court said Bush's legal team should have brought that up at an emergency hearing that was held the night Bush ordered Terri Schiavo's feeding tube reinserted.

Mr. Schiavo filed the suit on October 22, 2003, when "Terri's Law" was passed, giving the governor the authority to have his wife's feeding tube reinserted. Bush had championed the bill through the Legislature in just five days after Terri's feeding tube was withdrawn under an earlier court order.

Mr. Schiavo believes the governor violated Terri's right to privacy, along with the Florida Constitution's separation of powers.

Terri, 40, currently lives in a Clearwater nursing home. Court appointed doctors, along with her husband, believe that she has been in a "persistent vegetative state" -- that she cannot interact with her surroundings, cannot feel pain, and cannot recover -- since she collapsed and her brain was without oxygen for several minutes in 1990. She regulates her own heart rate and breathing, but is given food and water through a feeding tube installed through the wall of her stomach.

The courts have consistently supported Michael Schiavo's claims that his wife would not have wanted to live in her presented condition. He successfully petitioned to have her feeding tube removed so she would die of starvation and dehydration on October 16.

Terri's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, believe that she is alert and responsive and that she could improve with therapies which Mr. Schiavo has refused to allow. The Schindlers want him removed as Terri's guardian and have pushed for an investigation into their claims that he has abused, neglected and financially exploited her. They also suspect that he may have caused Terri's initial collapse.

The Schindlers and disability rights 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. Bush pushed for "Terri's Law" after receiving tens of thousands of messages from disability rights advocates and right to life supporters.

Bush's attorneys said Friday that they were not surprised at the appellate court's ruling.

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



Idaho Advocates File Suit Over UI Access Issues

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
April 23, 2004

MOSCOW, IDAHO--Tired of empty promises from University of Idaho officials, an advocacy group is suing the school to force it to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Comprehensive Advocacy Inc. (Co-Ad), the state's Protection and Advocacy Services office, filed the federal suit because the university has failed to mark its building entrances as accessible or inaccessible for people with disabilities.

Mary Jo Butler, legal director of Co-Ad, told the Associated Press that a trained advocate informed the agency of the university's alleged violations two years ago.

"We have talked to the UI and written them letters," she said. "We got a letter from the university in 2003 that $15,000 had been allocated to post the signs at building entrances and that it was expected to be done very soon."

Butler said that recent inspections showed that none of the signs had been posted on the campus.

"We hope this won't have to go to court," Butler said. "We just want it to be settled very fast."

Butler explained that Co-Ad set a goal this year to push all state and local government agencies in Idaho to comply with ADA accessibility guidelines for public buildings.

"Most of the time we just wrote a letter and the people fixed the problems. They'd have a consultant come out and tell them what needed to be done, and that was it," she said. "That's why we were so disappointed when the University of Idaho would not do anything. They admitted there was a problem that needed to be fixed."

A UI spokeswoman declined to comment, saying the university had not received notification of the lawsuit.

Comprehensive Advocacy Inc.



Israeli Forces Target "Handicapped Center"

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
April 23, 2004

BEIT LAHIYA, GAZA STRIP--An Israeli incursion into this Gaza Strip town Thursday has left a number of building destroyed, including a center for people with disabilities.

The Jordan Times ran a story by the Agence France-Presse news service, which reported that several acres of agricultural land were leveled, along with a civilian house and a "centre for handicapped people". The center was not occupied at the time, according to Palestinian sources.

Ten other buildings were damaged or destroyed, including a school and a kindergarten.

An Israeli army spokesman confirmed that the center was dynamited because "it had been repeatedly used by terrorists to fire at our forces".

One Palestinian teenager, who apparently was not affiliated with the center, was fatally wounded in the neck when he and a group of other youths clashed with troops, the Times reported.



Father Learns Text Messaging To Stay Connected With Deaf Daughter

April 23, 2004

EXETER, ENGLAND--The following four paragraphs are excerpts from a brief item by BBC News Online disability affairs reporter Geoff Adams-Spink:

An Essex man has taught himself to use text-messaging at the age of 81 so that he can communicate with his daughter who is deaf and has no speech.

Arthur Dee from Romford decided to buy two mobile handsets which were on offer at his local Tesco supermarket so that his daughter, Pamela, could contact him to let him know when she wants to be picked up.

Mr. Dee said that 57 year-old Pamela still lives with him but likes to travel around independently by bus.

"In the past we've had real problems when the bus hasn't turned up," he told BBC News Online.

Entire article:
"Father and daughter's SMS lifeline" (BBC News)



The Center for Housing and New Community Economics (CHANCE)

The Center for Housing and New Community Economics (CHANCE) was established in March of 2001. CHANCE's mission is to improve and increase access to integrated, affordable, and accessible housing coordinated with, but separate from, personal assistance and supportive services. CHANCE's purpose will be to offer alternatives to approaches that segregate, congregate, and control people with disabilities. The IOD will work in partnership with ADAPT in all aspects of the Center. ADAPT is a national organization that focuses on promoting services in the community for people with disabilities.


# EXPRESS EXTRA!!! From the Inclusion Daily Express Archives (Two years ago):


In Bold Move, The Arc Drops "Retarded" From Its Mission

April 23, 2002

GOLETA, CALIFORNIA--Sometimes a little change can mean a lot.

Over a decade ago, the national organization known from its beginning as the "Association for Retarded Citizens" recognized that the word "retarded" was hurtful to many of the people it represented. The national organization changed its name to "The Arc of the United States". Most -- but by no means all -- of the individual chapters across the country have followed suit.

Two weekends ago, the board of The Arc of the United States took the step of removing the words "retardation" and "retarded" from its mission statement.

Terry Boisot, who was present at the meeting, wrote "It was a bold move, and a move that is not without consequences."

"People with disabilities will celebrate because they will recognize The Arc's decision was out of a belief that all people are inherently valuable and it will help them achieve the dignity they have longed for. Parents of young children will gain a newfound respect for an organization whose commitment to inclusion for their children they once doubted."

Entire article:
"Leadership and Change" by Terri Boisot (


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