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, May 28, 2004
Year V, Edition 944

Today's front section features 8 news and information items, each preceded by a number (#) symbol.
Click on the"Below the Fold" link at the bottom of this section for 42 more news items.

"I worked my butt off in school every single day. I get A's and B's in everything. I should be part of it; all my peers and friends are a part of it."

--Brittany Booth, 18, who is not being allowed to participate in her class' commencement ceremony, even though she has completed all of the required course work in four years (Fourth story)

"It's not accessible yet, but I have got assurances. I was told it was 99 percent sure."
--Phil Craven, president of the International Paralympic Committee, talking about plans to make the 2,500-year-old Acropolis accessible to visitors with disabilities by the time the Paralympic torch is lit beneath it in September (Second story)



Special Olympics 'Honeymoon' Was Short-Lived, Poll Suggests

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
May 28, 2004

DUBLIN, IRELAND--Disability rights groups had hoped that hosting the 2003 Special Olympics World Summer Games would lead to long-lasting change in attitudes toward people with disabilities in Irish society and politics.

"The Special Olympics has really brought home to Irish society the positive aspects of disability and has shown how people with disability can contribute. The job is to continue that momentum and bring that attitude into Government policy," said John Saunders, chairman of the Disability Federation of Ireland, after the Games were ended last July.

An opinion poll released this week suggested that this has not happened.

Interviews conducted on Tuesday and Wednesday by Lansdowne Market Research, for the Irish Examiner/Prime Time, found that 47 percent of its 500 respondents believe the Games had only a brief impact -- which has since faded -- while 9 percent believe it had no impact at all on such attitudes.

Less than a year after Ireland hosted 10,000 athletes from around the world, just 14 percent of those polled felt the event had made disability a key political issue, while 29 percent believed it had made disability a more important issue.

Advocates have been critical of the government's visible support for the Special Olympics event, at the same time it delayed support for people with disabilities and their families, particularly in the form of a Disability Bill..

The poll suggested that the general public does not yet support disability-related initiatives. More than one-half of those interviewed, for example, indicated they would not support increasing taxes to pay for state-funded child care.



Athens Preps For Olympics And Paralympics

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
May 28, 2004

ATHENS, GREECE--Organizers say they want to leave Athens with a legacy of accessibility and openness toward people with disabilities when the 2004 Olympic and Paralympic Games have ended this autumn.

Greek government ministries and agencies are following an established set of guidelines to make sure that the sports venues themselves will be accessible, according to the ATHENS 2000 website.

"The main target is that all adjustments made to ensure accessibility, will be kept in place after the end of the Games, leaving an important legacy to all citizens and visitors for years to come," it reads.

Over the past few years, the government has passed laws designed to make public areas and buildings more accessible. Organizers have also campaigned to get store owners and businesses to make their facilities accessible.

The Associated Press quoted Phil Craven, the president of the International Paralympic Committee, as reporting Friday that the Acropolis, one of the most famous ruins of the ancient world, will be made accessible to visitors with disabilities before the Paralympic Games open on September 17.

"It's not accessible yet, but I have got assurances," Craven said. "I was told it was 99 percent sure."

The Central Archaeological Council has agreed to perform a preliminary study to see whether an elevator could be built on the site without damaging the 2,500-year-old Acropolis.

The flame for the Paralympic torch relay is scheduled to be lit under the Acropolis on September 9.

ATHENS 2004 Olympic and Paralympic Games
"May 2004 Update" (U.S. Paralympics News)



Clay Aiken Foundation Launches Inclusive Camp Project

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
May 28, 2004

CABARRUS COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA--The foundation that American Idol winner Clay Aiken started last July is partnering with a local YMCA for a pilot project to give children with developmental disabilities the same camp experiences as other children.

According to a press release, the Bubel/Aiken Foundation is joining the West Cabarrus YMCA Summer Day Camp for a pilot program dubbed "Project Gonzo".

The Bubel/Aiken Foundation, which provides services and financial support to help fully integrate children with disabilities with other children, will furnish the curriculum, special education training and funding for the camp pilot project, in the hopes that it will serve as a model for future programs.

"As a former camp counselor, Aiken noticed that children with special needs were unable to participate in programs due to the lack of staff members trained to work with children with disabilities or a staff:participant ratio that was too high to provide the necessary support," read the foundation statement. "As a result, Aiken formed the Bubel/Aiken Foundation which serves to bridge the gap that exists for young people with developmental disabilities."

In addition to winning the American Idol title last year, Aiken graduated from the University of North Carolina with a degree in special education.

"If a child with a disability is included with children who are not, it's not just a social benefit," he told USA Today in January of this year. "It has a self esteem and emotional benefit to be treated like other students. 'Handicapped' is a label society puts on people. It's not something kids are born with. A child may have a disability but the handicap comes from society when they tell that child they can't do something."

Aiken began working with Mike Bubel, who has autism, long before he auditioned for American Idol. He started the foundation initially as mock project to earn independent study credits toward his degree.

"Making the 'Why Nots' Possible for Children with Disabilities" (Exceptional Parent)
Bubel/Aiken Foundation



School Board Won't Let Students Cross Graduation Stage;
Classmates Organize Their Own Tribute

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
May 28, 2004

LYONS TOWNSHIP, ILLINOIS--The La Grange High School District says it wants students with disabilities to be treated like all other students.

That is why it is not allowing Brittany Booth, who has Down syndrome, to participate in commencement ceremonies along with her peers that do not have disabilities.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Booth, 18, has completed all of the required coursework at Lyons Township High School to be qualified to graduate within the usual four years. During that time, she never set foot in a special education classroom, according to the Chicago Tribune.

But she will not receive a diploma on June 6 because, as a student with a developmental disability, she is eligible for work training services -- valued at $4,000 a year -- until she is 21 years old. The district would consider her to have completed her high school education if she actually were to graduate, thereby forfeiting the training.

So, Booth's family suggested that Brittany, along with five other seniors with disabilities, be allowed to cross the stage during the ceremony and receive a certificate of completion instead of a diploma, like they do in many other Illinois schools.

The school board wouldn't have any part of that.

"The determining factor was that special-education parents have advocated forever that their children need to be treated equally. That is exactly what we're doing," said board President Mark Pera on Wednesday. "We don't want to open the door to countless exceptions."

"I worked my butt off in school every single day," said Booth, who wants to work in a nursing home. "I get A's and B's in everything. I should be part of it; all my peers and friends are a part of it."

Booth's classmates have decided on their own to honor those who will not be allowed to participate in commencement. A student-organized tribute has been scheduled for June 4 at the seniors' honors assembly or the class brunch.

"At least they'd have some way of being recognized even though . . . the school won't let them do something like just walk across the stage at graduation," said senior Ashley Richy, 18, who has known Booth since middle school.

"Senior faces diploma dilemma" (Chicago Tribune registration required - free)
"Students back disabled teen" (Chicago Tribune registration required - free)



"Bellevue Troupe Has Dual Role For Actors, Patrons"

May 28, 2004

BELLEVUE, WASHINGTON--The following four paragraphs are excerpts from a story found in Friday's Seattle Times:

When Snout takes the stage, he's the center of attention.

For this scene of "A Midsummer Night's Dream," his wheelchair is draped in a costume painted to look like a brick wall.

The character of Snout is played by Brendan Wright, 23, one of three disabled actors in the cast of the Crossroads Youth Theatre's new production. Wright is paralyzed from the waist down because of spina bifida, a condition caused by incomplete development of the spinal cord.

It's his third production and largest role with the group, which accepts actors of all ages and abilities. An actor with epilepsy and one with obsessive-compulsive disorder also perform in the play. Backstage is David Chadwick, 38, a theater assistant with a developmental disability.

Entire article:
"Bellevue troupe has dual role for actors, patrons" (Seattle Times)



HOMES Society: Healthy Opportunities for Meaningful Experiences Society (British Columbia, Canada)

Our mission:
To welcome men and women returning from Institutions to a home in the Community.
To link with rural neighbours, friends and relatives to provide a circle of support in the lives of those we serve.
To support the community we live and work in by sharing the gifts and skills of the individuals within the H.O.M.E. Society: by contributing to the local economy and by supporting community agencies and events.


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

Government Ministers Arrange Too Many Photo Opportunities With S.O. Athletes
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
May 28, 2003

DUBLIN, IRELAND--The president of Down Syndrome Ireland this week accused government officials of taking advantage of athletes with disabilities in order to improve their own public image.

Alan Crosbie said a number of government ministers have arranged "constant photo opportunities" with athletes preparing for the Special Olympics World Summer Games to be held in Ireland next month.

Crosbie claimed the number of photo opportunities suggest that the government is much more supportive than it truly is, especially at a time when it is cutting services for people with disabilities.

The World Summer Games are scheduled to begin in Dublin on June 21. Towns across Ireland are preparing to host about 7,000 athletes and coaches from 160 different countries.


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