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, July 26, 2004
Year V, Edition 978


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 44 more news items.

"We are praying that you live in a much more accessible, inclusive, integrated, loving, truthful and just world where democracy has been expanded and strengthened. We have taken only the first steps in a long journey to justice."

--Yoshiko Dart, in a message to advocates of the future who would celebrate the 100th Birthday of the Americans with Disabilities Act on July 26, 2090 (First story)

"Because I'm deaf."
--Claudia Moscato, when asked why she attends the Evangelical Church of the Deaf in Toronto (Fifth story)



Americans Celebrate 14th Anniversary Of ADA

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
July 26, 2004

UNITED STATES--Today is the 14th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The sweeping anti-discrimination legislation was designed to guarantee certain rights for people with disabilities, including equal access to public accommodations, services, and employment.

Few would argue that things have not improved as far as access to buildings, services and transportation. However, the percentage of Americans with disabilities who are unemployed or underemployed has not changed significantly since 1990.

As many expected when the ADA became law, it has been challenged repeatedly by business owners who claim that following the law is too costly, and by states that claim Congress overstepped its Constitutional authority by allowing individuals to sue state governments. Many such challenges have made it to the U.S. Supreme Court, which has tended to narrowly define the scope of the law.

While there is much yet to overcome, citizens with disabilities in the U.S. -- along with other countries that have modeled their disability laws after the ADA -- have reason to celebrate on this day.

Here's how some marked the anniversary:
"Proclamation: Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 2004" (White House)
"Nancy Pelosi Statement on 14th Anniversary of Americans with Disabilities Act"
"ADA Anniversary Message From the Dart Family" (Justice For All)
"N.O.D. Salutes Congressman Jim Langevin at ADA Anniversary Event" (National Organization on Disability)
"ADA celebrates 14th anniversary" by Karen Meyer (ABC7Chicago)
"Businesses sued over ADA on 14th anniversary" (Austin Business Journal)



Prince Called Woman In Wheelchair "A Menace"

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
July 26, 2004

LONDON, ENGLAND--Two popular British tabloid papers are making much ado about comments Prince Philip reportedly made over a woman's wheelchair at a recent South Wales agriculture show.

The Mirror and the Sun both wrote that the 83-year-old Duke was suddenly blocked by Sandie Holland and her wheelchair.

"He saw me and said 'You are a bit of menace in that thing'," explained 29-year-old Holland, who uses the wheelchair because of what the papers referred to as "a muscle-wasting disease".

"I was a bit shocked and said something like, 'I can assure you I am a good driver and not a menace.'

"He pointed to the metal foot-rests and said, 'They catch people's ankles.'

Holland said the Duke smiled when she informed him that she does not, in fact, hit people's ankles.

"What he said troubled me for the rest of the day," she said.

"Fortunately I do not spend my life in a wheelchair but he did not know that. He should think a bit more before speaking."

A Buckingham Palace spokesman denied Prince Philip called Holland a menace and said he was referring instead to an umbrella that was sticking out of the wheelchair.



Michael Schiavo Accuses Governor Bush Of Subjecting Terri To 'Absolute Dictatorship'

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
July 26, 2004

TAMPA, FLORIDA--The husband and guardian of Terri Schiavo has accused Governor Jeb Bush of taking away "her most intimate personal rights" when he passed the law that has kept her alive for the last nine months.

In court documents filed Monday with the Florida Supreme Court, Michael Schiavo said his wife is "more akin to subjects of an absolute dictatorship than citizens of a democratic state."

Mr. Schiavo sued the governor for pushing "Terri's Law" through the Legislature last October, claiming the law violated Terri's privacy rights and the state constitution. The measure was written specifically to have Terri's feeding tube reinstalled six days after her husband had it removed under court order. Bush championed the measure after disability rights advocates and right-to-life groups flooded his office and those of lawmakers with tens of thousands of messages calling for them to save Terri's life.

Mr. Schiavo's attorney wrote that the governor's action forced 40-year-old Terri from her death bed and had her forcibly operated on against her will, according to various media reports.

A Bush spokesman said Monday that the governor's office had not yet seen the filing and could not comment.

The state's high court is expected to hear arguments in the case on August 31.

Mr. Schiavo and several doctors believe that Terri has been in a "persistent vegetative state" -- in which she is not aware of her surroundings and cannot respond to others -- since she collapsed and her brain was without oxygen in February 1990. He has insisted for several years that Terri told him before her brain injury that she would not want to live "by artificial means".

Terri's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, have fought their son-in-law in court to keep their daughter alive. They and their doctors believe that Terri responds to them, tries to interact with her environment, and would improve with therapies which her husband has refused. The Schindlers also claim that Michael Schiavo has abused and exploited Terri. They want him removed as her guardian because he has several conflicts of interest, including the fact that he is engaged to another woman with whom he has fathered two children.

Disability groups have been closely watching Terri's situation for several years. Many see her case as one of thousands in which the rights of a person with a disability to continue living are compromised or ignored by third parties -- such as guardians, judges and health care professionals.

On July 12, a coalition of 18 disability groups filed an amicus ("friend of the court") brief supporting Governor Bush in the case.

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



Longest-Time Death Row Inmate Has Mental Retardation, Judge Rules

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
July 26, 2004

BEAUMONT, TEXAS--The man who has served the longest time on Texas' death row will likely not face execution, now that a judge has determined that he has mental retardation.

Walter Bell, 50, has been on death row since May 20, 1975, after he was convicted of killing his former employer, Ferd Chisum, the previous year. Bell was also convicted of killing Chisum's wife, but that conviction was later thrown out.

Jefferson County District Judge Charles Carver reviewed records going back to 1963 which indicated Bell had an IQ in the mid-50s. Most experts agree that people whose IQ scores are below 70 have mental retardation.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June 2002 that executing people considered to have mental retardation is "cruel and unusual punishment" and violates the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution.

"Walter Bell is exactly the kind of person the Supreme Court had in mind," said Bell's defense attorney, William Christian.

Jefferson County District Attorney Tom Maness said, "There is no doubt Walter Bell is not a rocket scientist as most criminals aren't. But he did have the mental capability to plan and commit one of the most horrible crimes in Jefferson County."

The ruling will automatically be appealed to the state's highest criminal court, according to the Associated Press.

Both Christian and Maness said they expect Carver's decision to be upheld and that Bell's sentence will be commuted to life in prison.

"The Death Penalty And Mental Retardation" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)



"Making A Joyful Silence"

July 26, 2004

TORONTO, ONTARIO--The following five paragraphs are excerpts from a story in Saturday's Toronto Star:

The 50 or so people who've gathered this Sunday morning at Rumball's Evangelical Church of the Deaf, located on a sprawling campus on Bayview Ave., seem no different than worshippers at any similar Christian venue, except that the scripture reading, invocation, hymns and the Lord's Prayer are recited in sign language, while the Bible's entreaty to make a joyful noise unto the Lord emerges as silent devotion.

Claudia Moscato, a 41-year-old data processor who was born deaf, eyes a reporter quizzically when asked why she attends the Evangelical Church of the Deaf each Sunday.

"Because I'm deaf," she deadpans through an interpreter.

In the United States, figures have shown that between 80 and 90 per cent of deaf Christians don't attend a house of worship regularly because they feel ignored or underserved by the hearing world.

In Canada, where church attendance is generally lower than stateside, the figure for deaf attendance may be lower still, says John Blake, director of the Lacombe, Alta.-based Canadian Deaf Ministries, which provides a variety of services to help the deaf "build a relationship with Jesus."

Entire article:
"Making a joyful silence" (Toronto Star)



Job Accommodation Network

The Job Accommodation Network is a service of the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) of the U.S. Department of Labor.

JAN's mission is to facilitate the employment and retention of workers with disabilities by providing employers, employment providers, people with disabilities, their family members and other interested parties with information on job accommodations, self-employment and small business opportunities and related subjects.


# EXTRA! From the IDE Archives -- One year ago:

President Bush Changes PCMR To PCPID
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
July 25, 2003

WASHINGTON, DC--Friday morning, President George W. Bush marked the 13th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act by removing the term "mental retardation" from the title of a long-standing advisory committee.

Bush signed an executive order changing the name of the President's Committee on Mental Retardation (PCMR) to the President's Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities (PCPID).

"The committee recently voted to change the committee's name to the President's Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities and I was pleased to sign an executive order instituting that change," Bush said as he signed the order Friday, flanked by several committee members.

The president's order also deletes the words "mental retardation" from the text of a 1996 executive order regarding the committee and replaces them with "intellectual disabilities".

In 1961, President Kennedy first formed a President's Panel on Mental Retardation to advise the president and the Secretary of Health and Human Services on issues concerning mental disabilities. President Johnson formally established the President's Committee on Mental Retardation in 1966. Members are appointed to the committee by the president.

Dropping "mental retardation" from the committee's name has been the focus of some of its most recent appointees.

"I want the committee to change the name," committee member Michael Rogers told me during an interview in March.

"It's number one on my agenda."

"People who have this disability are called 'retarded'," he said. "That's like calling black people the 'n-word'."

"We shouldn't do it. Period."

Rogers, who is also a national co-chair of the self-advocacy organization Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE), acknowledged that changing the name of the president's committee may be primarily a political move. What will be more important, he noted, is if it reflects in a change in policies -- particularly those having to do with funding of services for people with intellectual disabilities.

"Sometimes small things are important," Rogers said.

The Americans with Disabilities Act was signed on July 26, 1990 by the current president's father, George Herbert Walker Bush. The law granted people with disabilities certain rights for employment, transportation, housing, along with access to public buildings, goods and services.

"These are all welcome changes in American life," President George W. Bush said Friday.

Related press photo:
White House News Release Photo of Signing

(Editor's note: Mike Rogers is seated to the right in your photo, on the president's left)


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